Sunday, March 30, 2008

Onward I sew! Red silk tunic for a Downtown Date

I have 2 more tops to finish and this red silk charmeuse was calling me. I picked up several silks during one of Ann's sales recently.  I searched the Nordstrom website for ideas and found this blue tunic. I had blue silk that color, but it went to a silk nighshirt meant to soothe DD's tonsillectomy last week.
Anyhoooooo, I just took my trusty tunic pattern and converted it to this tunic:
It was easy- I rotated the dart from the side to the center front. You can see it in the piece below- I cut along the legs of the dart and cut new legs where the gathering will go. Pull the pieces to join the former dart legs and voila. So, if it works, you will be the first to know!

So today I am really taking it easy because I am bereft at the loss of the Real Estate Fantasy I had going up until yesterday. DD is coming up to have dinner with the hubster and me- we are celebrating my birthday. You would not believe the amazing smells coming from the kitchen. I got to pick the menu and I chose the seafood etouffe he made for me the first time he cooked for me. He wooed me with food (and obviously, it worked!)
Boo hoo, sniffle... I am already plotting my next goal. I am seriously motivated to semi-retire within 10 years but I still want to work. I would love it if my next job could be sewing related. Teaching maybe? How about sewing machine repair?  Check this out!
LOL.... glamourous, isn't it!!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Sewing, Sewing, Sewing

Here are two items for my Downtown Date collection. 

I am sewing simple pieces and it still takes a lot of time! 

Last week, I finished a silk top.

In a way, this reminds me a lot of playing violin. One must practice quite a bit to get fluid and expressive.

So it is with sewing.

They are both noisy pursuits, too.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Comfort Sewing

Kinda like comfort food. Stuff your Mom makes.

My DD is soooooo miserable right now as she recovers from a tonsilectomy. Together we watched the whole first season of "90210". In one of the episodes the girl has a slumber party and they wear luxurious mens' pajamas. That's how this sleep shirt came about.

I dragged out my charmeuse silks and she picked this one from Gorgeous Fabrics. What dreamy fabric!!

I used a Burda World of Fashion pattern from December 2006 (an issue I bought while visiting her in Germany, how sentimental).

I had 3 yards and it was the perfect amount for an oversized kneelength sleepshirt. I sewed French seams to keep the inside tidy. I feel so sorry for her suffering - it seemed the least I could do.

Good news, she loves it.

I hope she gets lots of wear from it in happier days to come.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Pattern Review for Finished Houndstooth Jacket

Pattern Description:
Fitted, lined straight coat, hip-length, above or below mid-knee has collar variations, princess seams, shoulder pads and long two-piece sleeves. A,B,C: double breasted. B,C,D,E: side pockets, B: cuffs

Pattern Sizing:
14-16-18, I sewed the 14

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes - click on links to see more photographs:

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Yes, they were reasonably easy to follow. I attached the collar using the Vogue instructions - I sewed the outer piece to the bodice and the inner pieces to the facings, then sewed that whole thing together.Another way to do it would be to sew the collar together and steam press it to shape it. Then, sew that to the bodice, then sew the facings on. Next time, I will try it that way. I think it is important to steam press this garment at every stage of construction and it might be better to have the collar shaped before you attach it to the coat.I did a fair amount of juggling to steam press the necklin area after it was constructed and hanging on my dressform. It worked out ok.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
A simple design that lets the fabric take the starring role. Shoulder princess seams work well for me when making fitting adjustments.
Next time, I would sew the collar with a center back seam so I could ensure a more pleasing matching of plaids in the front where the collar pieces stand.

Fabric Used:
"Theory Houndstooth" from EmmaOneSock. A nice spongy wool with dark espresso, slate blue and tan houndstooth pattern.
The fabric was easy to sew in that the weave was a little loose, which made it very easy to set in the sleeves. But that loose-ish weave also made it a bear to line up the houndstooth. I ended up hand-basting every single seam to keep the patterns aligned. It simply would not stay in place when I sewed by machine without the basting first.
I loved how well the fabric took steam pressing. It molded nicely to the shape I wanted.
I waited til it went on sale and even then, I waited almost too long to buy it. I really wanted a knee lenght coat but I got the last piece and it was only enough for the hip-length coat. Oh Well! This length is easier for getting in and out of the car, so it's all good.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:
No design changes. I sewed a size 14 with a slight FBA and slight increase to girth around my tummy /hips. The shoulder seams and neckline had to be brought in closer to my neck. This pattern was fitted to me in a private session with Sarah Veblen. I love the fit and I have to give her credit for it! Sessions with her at her studio in Md. are not cheap (you can read about it on her website) but the results are top notch.
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Yup. I bet I will eventually sew every view of this pattern, to get my money's worth from the cost of fitting the muslin!! That's why I chose such a basic style.
I added an an extra clear buttonon the inside like most double-breated coats have. This keeps the front pieces hanging level.

This was my first attempt (in recent years) at tailoring techniques. In addition to the fusible interfacing recommended in the instructions, I also fused along the hem, the sleeve hem, the neckline where the collar would be attached and shoulder seams. I pad stitched stiffer woven interfacing to the front area between bustline and shoulder. I inserted a sleeve roll in the sleeve and I made my own shoulder pads using layers of Armo fleece and foam shoulder pads (both available from Atlantic thread- not affiliated yada yada).To make the pattern for the shoulder pad, I laid out the bodice pieces and used a Sharpie pen to mark the shape. I traced it onto pattern paper and cut the pieces of Armo Fleece in that shape. I sandwiched the foam shoulder pads between layers of Armo Fleece. It is very inexpensive to make your own shoulder pads, plus they fit perfectly.
Shoulder Pad Pattern
Just about all of these techniques came from the discussion boards, classes I've taken on pattern review, tutorials from LauraLo's blog. and lessons with Sarah.
It took longer than I expected because of the basting required to match the plaids. And, whenever I felt hesitant about my ability to machine stitch anything, I just hand-sewed it. I am starting to feel that hand-sewing is the way to go when I need maximum control. If the seam needs to be really strong, I apply beeswax to the thread, and I keep a couple spools of heavy duty thread on hand (again, I ordered those supplies from Atlantic Thread when I was taking the hand-sewing class taught by Susan Khalje here on patternreview).
Still, I feel like I want to try more tailoring projects now that I have proven to myself that I can do it. I already wore this coat today and love it!
This is the center piece of my "Casual Wardrobe" entry for the Sewing With A Plan contest at The rest of the pieces are fast & easy!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Blogging Lite

Oh I was so sick for a few days. It was a virus or maybe the flu - a real humdinger. I feel totally well now and boy do I appreciate feeling fine!
I did manage a little sewing on the side and here's where I stand on my coat. The lining is mostly in and I have hand-sewing to finish up.
My buttons, aren't they cute? I love them!
Have a healthy weekend and happy sewing!