Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2011 sewing resolution

I have to get real about sewing from my stash.  When I moved 2 years ago, I had 2 boxes of it, and I thought I was being so diligent in sewing from my stash!  It turns out it grew, so that now I'm moving again into a tiny apartment (about 200 s.f.) with 2 boxes and a giant Samsonite suitcase full of fabric (oh, there's other stuff too, not just my sewing supplies).  Speaking of the Samsonite suitcase, that puppy is heavy empty never mind completely stuffed with fabric!

As I was packing, I had to force myself to get rid of the larger scraps.  I don't know if you're anything like me, but I'll look at a scrap and if it's big enough to cut a facing or pockets I will squirrel it away.  This time, I asked myself if I could honestly use the scrap if given 2 more years and if the answer was NO, it had to go.  I filled an entire trash bag full of scraps!

I also took the opportunity to get rid of ridiculous fabric, like the extra yard of red poodle hair fur that I used to make Lee's Clifford costume a few years ago.  I am on the edge about getting rid of the left over tulle from the Bjork swan dress because I imagine making a crinoline.  Someday.

It's not like a hoarder... Oh, but that's probably denial speaking.  In going through my stash I couldn't help but feel that I am one step away from living in complete squalor or becoming a candidate for TLC's Hoarders show.
Not my house... but maybe soon?  EEK!
I really tried to cull the fabric stash, I did.  I also tried to organize it as I packed, but the only thing I could really separate out was coatings.  How do you destash?  How do you determine when a scrap is too scrappy to keep around?  How do you organize your fabrics?  Any ideas for living in a closet-sized apartment with a full-sized stash?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Linen hiking shirt: Burda 09-2010-109C

Thanks for all your kind words on my last post.  The shirt is couldn't be salvaged and I'm glad to have a bunch of sympathetic readers to cry to!  Melissa, I love it that you know them Stillers!  The fabric will be used to make a gift bag for  a Teacup Piggy.  Personal joke.

In the meantime...

There are two types of hikers: those who like natural fabrics and those who like technical fabrics.  I'm the latter while my sister is the former.  I went hiking with my sister a few months ago and she pulled out an old linen button down shirt from Goodwill that she'd hurriedly hacked off at the waist.  So hurried that it was cut at a jagged diagonal.  She was trying to counteract the enormity of the shirt (XL, when she is more of a S).  The effect was kind of Jack Sparrow.
 So for Christmas, I decided that I would make her a linen shirt that fit.  This shirt is rayon linen, prewashed.  I chose the design because of the deep vent in the front, simple collar (easy to layer!) and cuffs that can be rolled up.

It fits fantastically.  All seams are french seams to reduce chafing.  Instead of applying the plastron with raw edges, I turned in the edges on both sides for a completely smooth bib.

Front. Isn't my model lovely?

Plastron or bib front.  Where does Burda get names like Plastron?

Vented cuffed sleeves.

Back, also with smooth application of Plastron.
Here is Burda's line drawing.  It's also available as a dress, and I think it would look great in a crepe satin as they use for the sample in the magazine.  I wish that it was drafted in my size.  I'm just too lazy to size down because there are so many patterns that I could easily just make a different garment that's drafted for my size.

Burdastyle 09-2010-109A,B,C

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Distracted with scissors.

Can you see what's wrong with this picture?  I didn't realize it until I had almost finished the sleeves...

All cut upside down!

This was going to be Lee's Christmas present.  After the Celtics shirt last year, he requested a Steelers flannel shirt.  I scoured the internet for fabric.  It turns out that you can get Steelers broadcloth, but Steelers flannel is rare.  And then... well, I guess you can see what happened!  For maybe a split second, I considered finishing this project but it's a little too time intensive for a joke gift.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A little housekeeping on the blog

I enjoy blogging, because it helps me keep track of what I'm doing and I get a lot of inspiration from the blogs I follow.  I also like getting comments on the things I sew and tips on how to improve my sewing.  Along those lines, I've only recently discovered that I can reply to some individual comments via email.

I don't understand why it's only some comments I reply to; the comments come to the gmail account (m3li88a(at)gmail.com, if you're so inclined) associated with this blog.  Sometimes when I hit "reply" it will go to "noreply-comment@blogger.com" and other times it will pull up the commenter's email address so that I can respond individually.  It has nothing to do with whether I've been able to reply to someone's comment in the past.  It appears that whether I get someone's email address when I hit "reply" is a random event.

Do any other blogger users know how to reply to commenters individually?  I'd rather do that when I want to answer specific questions or follow up on advice rather than posting another comment in the comment section or writing another post to address comments.

That said, @Slapdash Sewist, I think that the tulip pleats don't pooch out the way one would expect them would (I thought they would) because the dress is very fitted in the bodice, back, and waist.  No chance for pooching unless you're standing on a subway grate!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Menswear and sleeves, Burda 08-2009-128

I swear, the August 2009 Burda is my favorite.  I've sewn so many things from this issue, now including this dress.  The only part of this dress that I'm not doing absolute cartwheels over is the front of the skirt, which is probably due to operator error rather than the pattern.  No matter how much I press it, I can't get the seams or the hem to stop rippling.  All I need to complete the picture is a belt...

There is a half lining for the bodice only, though you could line the skirt too with a straight lining.  I used a glen plaid wool and rayon for the lining.  The only alteration I made was to shorten the skirt by 2 inches.

I have a feeling I didn't pull the lining down in the front before taking this photo.

I put in a center back lapped zipper.  It's a metal zipper that tends to get stuck.

No pooch from the side!
I opted against the bow belt.  That would be a little too twee on me.
Burda 08-2009-128 line drawing

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Why hello, Butterick.

I am a sucker for advertising.  Though I'm sure that their designs are well developed, I always steer clear of Butterick and Kwiksew patterns.  It's just that the pattern illustrations look so dowdy and frumpy.  So by extension, I assume that the clothing to be produced from said pattern will be dowdy and frumpy.   Perfect for, say, making robes as gifts.  Not so perfect for what I want to wear everyday.

I am also weak.  I am completely out of black and white thread, so decided to stop by Joann Fabrics after climbing since I would be in the suburbs anyways.  It turns out that there is a $0.99 Butterick pattern sale, so I had to check out what was available. 

My preconceived notion that Butterick patterns are intended for a Woman of a Certain Age has been turned on its head.  Or perhaps, I have reached a Certain Age myself (I actually think that chronologically speaking, I have about 10 or 15 more years to go.)

I got two dress patterns. A Maggy London design, Butterick 5559 and a retro design, Butterick 5281.
Butterick 5559.  I love the front and back seaming details.

I will probably make the elbow length sleeved dress as shown on the model.
Butterick 5281 with interesting seam details.

I am actually a little worried that it may be on the matronly side in real life.

But the envelope illustration (and I am a total sucker for this) looks amazing!

Butterick 5292 almost came home with me as well.  I love the asymmetrical collar on the jacket.  But I decided that I need to be honest with myself -- I have a long list of projects already, and don't need more patterns!

Butterick 5292 line drawing.  The jacket of interest is C.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A dress for any occasion: Burda 05-2009-117

Now that I've figured out that I'm truly able Burda size 36 rather than a size 38 with endless petite adjustments needed* I whipped up two dresses this month.  This is the first of them, and I love it.  I'm seriously thinking of making it again in the spring with a solid fabric to show off the constructions lines and front drape.  This is a cotton printed stretch sateen from Gorgeous Fabrics.  It was a delight to sew, and unfortunately for anyone who may feel inspired to search for it... all sold out.

Hopefully I will one day have a job where I can wear this to work, but until then I'm happy to wear it to dinner, a wedding, a funeral, or even a work cocktail reception (which I did a few weeks ago.)  It's flattering, a discreet length, the surplice bodice follows your chest so that there's no peekaboo, and all it needs is a red belt.  I have no belts, but that problem (and the red belt issue) is going to be solved shortly.  The only changes I made were to shorten the skirt by 2" and move the zipper from the center back to the side.  I really like having zips on the side if the design allows, because I find zipping up the last 2" of a back zipper can be tricky and I don't really care for having a seam down my back.

Burda 05-2009-117
 The construction lines are pretty great, aren't they?  I'm not going to lie.  The front and back princess seam godets were a little tricky, I found that it was best to sew from the point down and then clip to the stitching to make everything lay flat.

*In an upcoming, whining post (don't say I didn't warn you!) I will complain about the difference between the Burda "half size petite patterns" and Burda full size patterns that supposedly have the same measurements but result in completely different fits.

Muslin fail: this just isn't for me.

I consider myself pretty cavalier when it comes to sewing.  Until recently, I rarely sewed a muslin and so would end up tossing something or just wearing something slightly ill-fitting or even worse -- completely ill fitting.  You know, there's a certain pride in having sewn something... or maybe it's inability to recognize a sunk cost.  Anyways, I decided I wanted to sew some interesting Fall/Winter shirts. 

In September, I think, Fabric.com had a $9.95 sale on Hot Patterns.  I'd had my eye on the Wong-Sing-Jones Mandarin wrap top so decided to give it a try.  I even bought some black rayon for the shirt. 

I love the envelope illustration.  Drapy, interesting.  Possibly flattering.
Well, I am so glad that I took the time to make a muslin.  This being the first time I've sewn at Hot Patterns pattern, I wasn't sure what size I would be or how it would fit.  It turns out it fits.  This is a size 6.  I just couldn't make it look like the envelope illustration, though I did use drapy lightweight fabrics and when my hands are on my hips like the models' it is somewhat fitted in the waist.  When I don't have my hands on my hips... Hello, fabric sack!
The overlay just doesn't drape as much as in the illustration. 

I like it much more from the back but unfortunately, I spend most of my time facing forwards.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fuchsia wool flannel skirt, Burda 06-2010-112

I mentioned having made 2 purple skirts in my last post.  I didn't realize I had so much purple fabric, or realize that I'd made 2 purple skirts until I'd gotten halfway through this one.  It's made from a Vera Wang fuchsia wool flannel that I got on crazy sale last winter for, like, $1.99.  This skirt uses less than a yard so I have a little bit of this stuff left over.  Maybe it will be a hat?  It was dreamy to sew with, it really pressed nicely and didn't slide around or misbehave.  The Slapdash Sewist also bought some of this in that same sale, and made this lovely fitted jacket with her piece.  One of the things that I like about sewing is the possibilities that can come out of a piece of fabric, and seeing what other people do with the same material as me.

I really wanted to wear it today, but it was really warm.  Of course I also wanted to wear boots.  All of this was too much bundling for the unseasonable 70F (that's about 23C for my non-U.S. friends!) weather we had today.  I'm not complaining though, because I'm not looking forward to a return to the normal cold weather we have at this time of year!  I ended up wearing a cotton tank I'd made with Simplicity 2593 with it. 

The pocket lining peeks out.  I'm thinking to bar tack either to top or bottom of the pockets, but haven't decided which would be better.

I used a lapped zipper in the back with hook and eye on the waistband.  One day I might try doing the lapped zipper with the waistband as well.

I'm actually surprised that this design works with a wool flannel.  Eugenia used a linen for her version, and I was afraid that this would turn out stiff.  Not a completely irrational fear as I have experience with cartoonish skirts
I have Eugenia to thank for tuning me into this skirt.  It doesn't look so great in the magazine photo.

Burdastyle 06-2010-112 line drawing

You can probably tell immediately that one of the things I changed in my version of this skirt was to leave off the patch pocket.  I was going to put it on, but because I shortened the hemline by 2 inches (I typically petite skirts and pants by 2 inches) the pocket looked enormous even though I had petite-d that by one inch as well.  Because the flannel was so thick the pocket just wasn't going to work.  I think my skirt looks all the better without it.  (Another thing that the thick flannel wasn't going to work for was folding the hem band over, so I cut a lining piece and turned and stitched it in the ditch from the right side.)  At first I thought I shouldn't have petite-d the skirt so that it would be close to knee length and more suitable for winter wear but (a) what's done is done, and (b) I'm happy with it.  The other thing I did was add a rayon lining using this Threads tutorial called "Adding a Lining to Your Custom-Pleated Skirt".  It was super easy, but I think that because only the waistband is pleated rather than the hem line being pleated as well, the lining is too big.  It tends to peek out when I sit.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Brocade mini skirt, Burda 02/2010 104

I've been sewing but I haven't been blogging about it, I'll have more posts coming soon.  This is one of two purple skirts I've made -- I realized I had no Fall or Winter skirts.  A travesty I tell you!  So I went ahead and made two skirts, realizing after I'd cut the material for the second one that I now have two purple skirts.  When it rains, it pours.

I wasn't sure what my size was, as in the past I've always thought I was a 38 and made petite adjustments accordingly or gamble over whether a size 36 would fit me.  I haven't been running because of an injury that isn't really worth getting into here other than I was pretty sure that lack of exercise would make me heavier and thicker.  It turns out that since I've replaced running with going to the climbing gym more frequently, I've gained weight but lost a few inches.  Who knew?  I took new measurements a few weeks ago and learned that I'm a now a size 36.  It pays to take your measurements regularly!

I wanted to test how a 36 would fit with no adjustments, and wanted a simple skirt that could use a cut of fabric already in my stash.  This is 3/4 yard of 45" wide brocade that I bought at least 6 years ago with plans to turn it into a purse.  File that under What Was I Thinking.  I can't imagine having a purse made out of this stuff.  It snags and sheds all over the place.

The skirt is fitted in the waist through hips, I ended up having to make the back seam 1/2" instead of 5/8" due to snugness.  I'm not sure if it's due to the pattern design, the unforgiving nature of the fabric I chose, or the shape of my runner-turned-climber butt. 
This is really shiny.

Front.  There are slant pockets with self bias binding.
Back.  I had no idea it could get so wrinkly without sitting.  I used an invisible zip.

Side.  You can see the pockets a little better

Inside.  I underlined it in silk organza.  The waistband lining is a poly lining material.

burdastyle's version in cotton.

burdastyle 02-2010-104B

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


I cut off-grain and it's obvious!

Here is the yoke on the back of what would have been a new shirt.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Faux fur leopard print jacket, Burda 09-2009-127

Getting back to my sewing plan, I've just finished the leopard print jacket.  The photos don't show the furriness very well.  It's a short nap fur called "minky."  Not sure what "minky" means, but it's easy to sew with, presses well and doesn't shed.  The fabric has been in my stash for about 2 years, I bought it for a different jacket but figured it would be a great fit for this one.  Another note about this fabric: I noticed in my stats that several people have made their way to my blog with the search terms "make buttonholes in faux fur."  So here is some advice to people who are looking to make buttonholes in faux fur.  Because the nap was so short, I didn't have to do anything special to make buttonholes.   I have made buttonholes in fur with longer nap, and as I'm sure you've noticed if you've tried to do this -- the hair gets in the way.  What you need to do is separate and lay the hair away from the area where you are going to put the buttonhole, so that you're stitching on fabric rather than on the fur.  Hols the fur away from the stitching area with your fingers as you're stitching the buttonholes.  Depending on how long the nap is, you might want to trim around the buttonhole, but I've never found this necessary.

The jacket is unstructured and fits a lot like a sweater  It's double breasted with cropped sleeves and very mod.  I lined it almost to the edges, which makes it feel very sweatery to me. I am not sure about the fit.  It's princess seamed but the princess curve falls above my bust line so that there are wrinkles in the upper chest and a rather boxy fit through the rest of the torso.  I suppose that this is what I get for not having fit a muslin first.

Here's a picture of it in the magazine. They used a wool, which lends their version a lot more structure.  The collar in this photo falls better than mine (I have to adjust it when I put the jacket on) and I wonder if my collar would behave better if I pressed it more.  As it is, I've left it kind of shawl-like.
I was a bit torn about what to do for buttons.  I didn't have 8 large buttons in my stash so took the jacket to Windsor Button in Downtown Crossing to figure out a good fit -- in my mind, 8 bright white buttons would fit with the mod look I was going for.  But when I laid 8 white buttons on the jacket they were way too bright.  The clerk and I had some fun matching buttons to the jacket and I ended up with 8 shell buttons, which are the most expensive part of this jacket... I think that the fabric was less than $10 when I bought it years ago! 

In all, I think the result is very cute.  I don't know how much I will wear it, though.  Do you wear animal prints?  I had all kinds of ideas for outfits that this would complement but now that it's done, it just seems too loud for my lifestyle.  Maybe I could have worn this regularly when I was in my late teens and regularly wore fishnets, mini-skirts and baby tees.  Is there a way for grownups to wear faux fur?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A longstanding favorite: Vogue 2742

This is now the third time I've made this shirt.  The pattern is Vogue 2742 (out of print, and unloved, Vogue doesn't even offer it in the out of print section of its pattern website!), a DKNY design.  It was issued in 2003, about a year or so after I started sewing.  I chose it because it doesn't have a button placket in the front and I was terrified of making buttonholes.  The first version I made of blue Egyptian cotton, which was too big (this is before I understood sizing and ease), the second version was made of white striped batiste (which was a little too drapy and fell apart over time).  This one is gray chambray.

Front of shirt
Fabric drapes well enough so as not to look knocked up from the side

After all these years of sewing, I still don't really have the knack for making button holes.  I made the buttonholes on the wrong part of the cuff, the part that should be on the underside rather than the overlap, so I put the buttons on the inside of the cuff to make up for my mistake.  The result is a very clean finish with no buttons on the outside.

This was an unplanned project (not one of the items I listed in my fall sewing) but after that plastic like skirt I really wanted to sew something that I knew would be gratifying and turn out well.  This was perfect.  As for my next project, I've already cut the leopard print faux fur for my jacket and am trying to decide what to use for a lining.

Finally, for posterity, here is a photo of the pattern.  Sad that it's nowhere on the internet anymore, it's a great design.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Skirt fail: Vogue 1170

Don't let these photos fool you.  I chose the wrong fabric for this skirt.  It's a lovely tangerine colored stretch cotton pique that would have been better suited to a pencil skirt, fitted dress, or jacket.  It doesn't have enough drape for this skirt.  I thought I could use it because the recommended fabrics are lightweight wool flannel, lightweight denim and lightweight crepe.  I think the key word there is "lightweight."

What should have been a fun and flippy skirt is a skirt that is shaped like a fluted bell.  A full-bodied fluted bell that will not be moved.  The fabric is way too stiff.  The flounce in the back falls awkwardly.  On my skirt, the center of the flounce is inverted and the sides stick out awkwardly.  The envelope illustration shows that it should fall oppositely -- the sides should be inverted and the center stick out.

Betcha think I'm twirling!  I'm not.

Aside from my tragic fabric choice, I went all out in construction (which took a while because I was in and out of town) with bound seams.  I even did my best to find an orange zipper in my stash.

Still, I like the shape of this skirt and the seam detailing.  I might sew this again but in a fabric with the right amount of drape and a lot less body.