Saturday, April 30, 2011

Confidence in Fashion

I don't know about you, but seeing photos from the Royal Wedding has given me a broader vision and a new confidence in selecting fabrics and patterns!  Let's all say it together, if they can do it in England, we can do it in America!

I would be proud to wear any one of these outfits.   But what would  the "high fashion" types say?  (I think of Michael Kors on Project Runway saying "But it looks home-sewn" or Heidi Klum saying "It's so Mother-of-the-Bride")

My answer would be it is OKAY to use Home Dec fabric for formal wear!

Matchy-matchy is OKAY!

In fact, matching is a fine art!

And accessories!  Why do we play it so safe in the US??

Furthermore ...

(ok, actually, the embroidery was stitched by hand.  I am kidding around here)
And I love those nieces, I do.  So for Beatrice, just a little advice (because you know she is reading my blog, right?  Dear, you could look to your grandmother for just a little inspiration.  Just a little, don't go overboard.
I could go on, but I need to get back to my own sewing.  What did you think of The Dress?  Personally, I thought Kate wore the best dress possible.  I love a sleek and simple silhouette and anytime there is lace involved, I'm for it.  The bridesmaid was perfection - a modern interpretation of the bride's gown.  

I have expressed a little snark (maybe 33%?), it is just my sense of humor.  The other 67% of me is darn pleased to see people wearing bright, interesting, fanciful and yes- MATCHING outfits.  Love it!  It feels like people wore what they wanted.  I like the restraint, too.  Not so many distracting bosoms and legs on display.

So what about you?  What did you think?  Isn't fashion fun?!


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

what's on deck? who's up?

Time - what a pesky little devil!  I had thought it would be fun to sew some doll clothes for my niece while she still loves her American Girl doll.  Sure, I could order something but isn't it nicer to give a hand-made gift?  The local quilt shop carries adorable little fabrics and buttons.  But alas, she was away visiting family for her birthday and Easter, and I got side-tracked on Monday and Tuesday.  Here I am without the gift I had planned.  I hate when that happens!!  My little friend, who I like to call TIME, hasn't been playing nice!  Where do I address my letter to complain??
Tell me, how do you do it?  How do you get to everything on your plate?  I am already fairly ruthless about protecting my free time from those sneaky chores who think they are more important (cooking & cleaning, I am talking about you!)

Alas, things happen.  Life is a roller coaster, isn't it?  Not always a fun ride, either.

Hope you are buckled in, and doing alright, too.
Happy Spring,
From the bird who brings it to you,

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Jacket #4 Finished!

This jacket represents my dive into couture construction, fabrication and the dip of a toe into garment design.  The jacket also has a lot of nice memories embedded in it.  I found the fabric in NYC the same day I met dear Peter and I sewed most of it at the amazing Couture Boot Camp.  Without further ado, I give you the guipure lace jacket:

settings adjusted to show lace detail
So, the chiffon- what happened to the chiffon tie?  Friends, I lost it!  I fear it accidentally went out with the trash.  I must have looked like scrap and gotten tossed, because I cannot find it anywhere.  Fortunately this realization was dawning just as I noticed the uncannily good color match of a scrumptious linen recently purchased. I fell in love with the texture of the linen and the lace together, so I made the collar band and the cuff bands out of linen.  For stability, I underlined with silk organza.

I think the linen makes it a little more wearable, too.  It reads pretty casual which might not have been the case using chiffon for the tie.  I will be sewing summer dresses, hoping for fashionable outfits and evidence that I am developing personal style.  This pursuit continues to amuse me, so onward ho!

Next!  On to the next thing!  Do you see those red and red print fabrics on the shelf?  Those fabrics are hollering for my attention.  I found them while shopping with BeeBee at G Street recently.  It was a little intoxicating, what with the sale, the LivingSocial 50% off coupons, and all.  A bargain does make it all more fun, doesn't it?  BeeBee has a great eye and gave me thumbs up on these colors.

I am giving up on sewing for spring.  It is too confusing!  Instead I dream of warmer days ahead and sewing solid color knit dresses to be worn with bare legs and colorful jackets.  When the hottest, most humid days arrive, I will be ready for them and the accompanying icy air conditioning.

Thanks to all of you bloggers (especially Gigi, the starter of jacket-mania) for the inspiration and thank you everyone for reading.  Thanks for your comments and emails and all your support & encouragement!

Happy Sewing!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Jacket - eShrug

Here is my version of the popular eShrug by The Sewing Workshop.

The fabric is a wool double-knit so it looks nice from both sides.  The pattern purchase was an instant gratification situation:  click paypal, download and print!  The way I deal with a downloaded pattern is to use very small pieces of tape to secure papers to the cutting table.  Then I trace it off with sheer doctors' exam table paper.
I use the traced-off pattern to tissue fit on my dress form.

I selected the size based on shoulder length (I just measured the pattern).  Although my bust, waist and hips are larger than the smallest pattern, this style has so much ease it's fine. Now that I have the dress form, it is quick business to tissue fit and save the agony of an ill-fitting garment. I added inches to the shoulder area again, just as I did for the Silhouettes #175 pattern.

The fabric is an unusual bright cobalt blue with olive green stripes, so it is not a color that would be available in large spools of serger thread.  Sometimes I will wind several bobbins with thread and use them on the serger, but this fabric does not fray much at all, so I went with a regular sewing machine zig-zag.

For the bindings, I (naturally!) wanted them to look very uniform and perfect.  I cut strips of the double knit on the bias because I liked the stripes best on an angle.  Rather than sewing them on with a standard technique, I went off-roading with my own wack-a-doodle technique.  I faced my binding with fusible interfacing.

Yes, I will say that again.  I faced the binding with very lightweight fusible interfacing (Pro-Sheer Elegance).  I cut strips of interfacing narrower than the binding, sewed them to the wool doubleknit, right sides together.  At that point they were like long tubes and I turned them right sides out.  Then I pressed and this gave a nice uniform strip of binding, with the edges permanently fused down.  It made the rest of the process so much easier!
This is the binding with a fused facing- lightened to show detail.
This fusible interfacing gives, so it did not interfere with the stretchiness of the wool.
I realize this may seem a little overkill, but I had visions of the binding slipping out and going crooked and the fusble interfacing made it very easy to handle.  I was able to sew mitered corners, match stripes and relax while working.  It was so easy to sew that I stitched the whole thing by hand using a fell stitch.  I can sit and sew a fell stitch for hours, watching episodes of Lost on Netflix.  I can, and I did!
Cute design, isn't it?  Hardly any seams at all!  So clever.  I inserted shoulder pads to give some definition.

Now I have to figure out what to wear with it besides jeans.

Do you have any styling ideas for me?  Can I wear this over dresses or skirts?  This is a new look for me.

Hope you had a nice weekend!
Spring has sprung.
Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

How I wore it - knit top and skirt

I put a little denim jacket over the top and skirt.  That made the ensemble a little less matchy-matchy.
Silhouette #175 top and Bernina My Label 8 gored skirt
I need the warmth (they keep it pretty cold at work) and I like to layer anyway.

This post reflects my aspirations in the realm of photography.   I managed to set up the tripod, use the remote and take photos after work the other night.  This is feeling like a major accomplishment in my little world.  The fashion /wardrobe bloggers have my utmost admiration!  We'll see if I can streamline this process.

Happy Sewing and Enjoy wearing those new clothes!

Monday, April 11, 2011

knit top with collar band detail

Quick knit top finished - Silhouettes #175 "Valerie's Top"

This twisted band around the collar interested me so I pulled a piece of rayon jersey from the stash and sewed it up.  There was not enough fabric to make the collar from the pink knit, so I used a similar knit leftover from a skirt project.  Then I put them together as an outfit.
photo lightened to show detail in the black band around the neckline
The collar band is a long piece cut on the bias.  I wondered how necessary it is to cut a 4-way knit on the bias, but I followed the instructions.  I can see why it would be necessary in a woven, but doesn't it seem a knit would work either way?  Cutting on the bias always uses up so much  more fabric.  ANYWAY!  No big deal.  I used my basic bodice pattern with a jewel neck.  The front is a double layer, which I like for a smooth (and modest) appearance.

Once I had sewn the basic bodice, I put it on and used chalk to draw the scooped neckline where I wanted it.  The twisted band is gathered before stitched down, so it is not necessary to measure the length of the band perfectly.  That makes this a pretty easy project.  I'll admit, it is a little confusing at first, but if you just pin patiently, it all works out in the end.  The drape in the collar band can be arranged to be puffy or flat - symmetric or asymmetric.  It is pretty cute, I think.

Once I had sewn the collar band, I remembered a post from a few years ago, by Liana.  In her version, the band is attached in 2 steps and there is no gathering.  I can see how it would work very well with a narrower band.

Next I will use these ideas to manipulate the chiffon for a collar band on my lace jacket.  That will be fun.  I am anxious to finish that up and see how it shakes out.  If it doesn't look good, I'll keep trying ideas until something works.

I was pleased to read comments letting me know you like fitting topics!  I think I am a pattern-maker at heart.  I will write more as I apply the concepts I find in books, online, DVDs and classes.  Thanks a lot for reading and for taking the time to leave a comment!  I love hearing from you.

Happy Sewing!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Fitting Resources: Silhouette Patterns

In my endless quest for more fitting knowledge, I offer for your consideration, some interesting ideas  as presented by Peggy Sagers.  On March 28, I watched her webcast and it got me thinking.  {Click here to watch EZ Jacket Fitting}.  Specifically, Peggy got me thinking about lengths.  As we measure and select patterns, we usually measure our chests, waists and other circumferences /girths.  But lengths are really important, too!

*this measurement chart was found online via google images*

If you can't watch the hour-long webcast, you can read a synopsis of Peggy's approach on the Silhouette Patterns website.  I like this knit top, and bonus: that collar is just what I am looking for to finish off my guipure lace jacket (more to come!)

Since my jacket is in Baltimore, and I am in Rockville today, I thought I'd whip out an easy knit top.

With my new BFF fitting buddy (Wolfie), I can tissue fit easily.

[People wiser than I am suggest that I] fit the back first.  So I did.  I selected a size 4, based on the finished garment measurements provided on the back of the pattern envelope.

Look at that back neck-to-waist length.  Long! The pattern picture makes it look like the collar rides up pretty high on the back of the neck, but if I sewed this without adjustment, mine would not end up that way.  Also, I'd need to increase the hip circumference - not a difficult alteration.
A look at shoulder seam reveals quite a gap.  I am accustomed to seeing this variance - my lengths vary from the lengths of the pattern.  Looking at lengths first is logical - and Peggy is very clear on this.  That proves to be very good advice.  If I sewed this straight out of the envelope, it would not fit well at all.

When there is this much alteration made to an armscye, the sleeve will need adjustment, too.  On the bodice front, the dart needed to be shortened by an inch, but otherwise the cup-size-specific pattern piece fit well.  At least no full bust adjustment is needed!

Conclusion?  I will just use my basic bodice pattern.  Why re-invent the wheel?  The instructions for the collar very clear and I can easily adapt it to my own pattern.   I think it is well worth $14 for this pattern to get those instructions and, heck, the webcast was free.  So, my purchase supports her work.  I like how there is just so much information available online.

Do you find this interesting or helpful?  I have been thinking about posting more reviews of the fitting books and tools I use.  If it only helps a few people, that is good enough for me!  It took me an awfully long time to understand my own fitting issues, so if I can help anyone get answers faster, I'll feel like I am getting something back for all that effort!  If it helps anyone in the sewing community, it is a good thing.  The more we all sew and support our fabric merchants, pattern-makers and teachers, the better.  

yours truly,
Robin, The Sewing Evangelist

Happy Sewing!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

a sense of direction

The little lace jacket is in the home stretch.  All the interior seams are finished.  There will be chiffon cuffs and the hem will be a simple turned up affair.  

I had different ideas for the chiffon tie, so I jumped in and tried one.  
No over-thinking, just try!
{There is still some work to be done in that area to get what I want.}  
Photo lightened to show detail 
De-constructed sewing process - that is what this is all about.  I started with an idea of specific proportions and vibe - but there were still unanswered questions about construction.  It's a journey and it's about opening up to ideas during the process.  

What if an idea doesn't work?  Try another one.

Time?  Oh - has there been time invested?
No matter!  Isn't there plenty of that?!
.....  happy sewing .....

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Rookie of the Year

What's the worst mistake you've ever made?  How about accidentally cutting a big old slice right through the front of the bodice? No problem!  I mentioned on Wednesday that this happened to one of us at Camp Couture.   Lesson of the week?  

"These things happen!"

Gorgeous, no?  And this dressmaker has only been sewing for two years!  She decided life on the golf course was not as exciting as learning to sew.

Everyone at the workshop was agreeable to having their photos taken and published, although I've done my best to keep from revealing Too Much Information.
I am not sure when K slept.  Not often.  And, she doesn't even sew all the the time like the rest of us fanatics.  She just wanted to prove to herself that she can learn the techniques and make a gown that she designed.  K- the answer is yes, you can do it!

Beware, this pattern has a lot of pieces!  I think Gretchen can tell you precisely how many, although it seemed to multiply daily.  Tres Facile!

And below are the frogs for the lace jacket, a Marfy dress and a strapless gown.  I'll let Gigi do the big reveal on her  blog when she puts the final finishing touches on her project.  

There was more loveliness, but I did spend some time sewing.  I have finally run out of photos from the best 6 days a seamstress could imagine.  My little bolero jacket will be finished soon.

More to come on the guipure lace jacket!