Saturday, July 30, 2011

knit dress - sewn without a serger AND Lonsdale fabric choices

I have a few things to share with you but only a minute to post, so here comes a real quickie.
Fabrics suitable for a summer Lonsdale and another knit dress for me
 Fo this particular knit dress, I sewed it with a sewing machine - not a serger.  I snapped photos as I went along so that I'd have a nice little tutorial on sewing knits without a serger.  Then I noticed the memory card was not in the camera.  Yes, hangs head in mock shame, I am that clueless!  Oh that camera warned me, and I did not even pay attention.  If ignorance is bliss, you are looking at a pretty blissful person.
It took, oh - thirty minutes? to sew the last seam.
The next 2 knits dresses will go fast, to finish my little Four-Fast-Knit-Dresses project.

OK, I just wanted to share my amazing revelation.  Bike shorts!!  I made these to wear to the gym and they are perfect under a knit dress.  These shorts are like a slip, but better because of ... how do I say this... the old chub-rub thing.  I am going to start making matching shorts out of the leftover fabric from dresses.  IS that not the most brilliant idea ever? 
Don't even think I have the kind of sleek toned body that appears in the picture above.  Read Tina Fey's book and concentrate on the chapter in which she argues, "who needs cosmetic surgery when you can just Photoshop it?"  I mean, really!  My friends and family love me just the way I am, and for vanity's sake, I smooth it out just a little in photos.  On the other hand, if that body doesn't look sleek and toned, you can just blame my photo-altering skills.

OK, husband is saying to me, "Step away from the keyboard!"
So off I go- and have a great weekend to you, too!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Summer Dress - Sewaholic 1102 The Lonsdale Dress

Isn't this a pretty dress? It is the Lonsdale, recently released by Sewaholic. I would like to sew this dress - or help a newbie sew it. I am looking for a guinea pig partner.

You might live in Maryland. Or perhaps you are a member of my family and you read my blog [you know who you are]. 

If you are willing to appear in my blog, I will sew it for you - or I will help you sew it for yourself. Whatever works.

Post a comment or shoot me an email. Sound like fun?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A new knit dress to welcome a new oven

Cutting and sewing assembly-line-style is like filling the freezer with extra meals.  It only takes a little while to defrost, warm up and serve.

Here is Dress Numero Uno of my Four-Fast-n-Easy summer dresses:
The bodice is self-lined, which simplifies edge treatment of neckline & armholes.

The neckline provides just enough room for a necklace.  I love a modest neckline - so easy to wear.  

I really like the extra width of the cut-on sleeves at the shoulder line.
A very satisfying result, yes it is.  I will admit I was ready for some satisfying sewing, after my last project, the plain dress. I feel so much prettier in this dress and it was a lot easier to sew.  It is a good thing I am mass-producing dresses from this self-drafted pattern.

In other news, we have moved ahead on fixing up our home.  I can't remember if I told you, but we were planning to sell our house in the spring of 2012 and settle into a smaller home in Baltimore.  Based on current sales in the neighborhood, we developed a plan to make our home competitive on the market.  As we got into selecting new appliances and finishes, we realized we aren't ready to leave this home.  It feels REALLY good to be making these updates for us to keep and enjoy.  We have worked our butts off, clearing out excess stuff, and tackling various cosmetic projects.  For example, we removed all the brass hardware on doors and replaced them with oil rubbed bronze hardware.  We are coming into the home stretch now and the big changes are sweeping in.
Next up - flooring, then painting.  And the chef of the house will be breaking in the new oven as soon as possible!
And how was your weekend?  Heat wave?  I am off to read the Kiwis' and Aussies' blogs.  I need relief!

Happy Sewing!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

a weee little bit of sewing

So, what about those four dresses, anyway?  I have made a wee little bit of progress.

Before going all assembly-line on my Four-Fast-Dresses project, I cut one bodice for practice, basted it together and I was totally underwhelmed.  The pattern looked like this:
I slashed and spread the pattern to create pleats at the shoulder.

Basted together, the bodice looked like this:

Fortunately, I suppose, I didn't have much time for sewing, so I just mulled it over for a few days, while I  did other things.  When I finally had a little time, I changed the pattern back to a simple design.  Now it's just a dart-less bodice with a cut-on sleeve.   I like it much better.

I just need to take it off the dress form and finish sewing it.
I am sewing sans serger at the moment, thus requiring some inventive edge finishes.  For this bodice, I lined it with tricot knit and used a zig-zag stitch for the seams.  Before I show pics on how I did it, I think I want to make sure this method works!  If it falls apart while I am wearing it, I will be sure to let you know.

It was a good thing I had enough fabric to make another bodice!
How about you,  muddling your way through anything?  It is awfully hot and humid in these parts, so I imagine it is just too hot to sew for some.
If it's hot, keep cool!
Heck, if it's not hot, keep cool!

*Happy Sewing*

Monday, July 18, 2011

a disconnect

I see a major disconnect here,  do you?
Well, duh!  I am wearing a cool color and my house is a warm color.  

This does not work for me!

There I am, in my little magenta cardigan, in this warrrrrrrm-colored kitchen.  

That is about to change!
We are updating the kitchen and the vinyl sheet flooring will be replaced with a different vinyl sheet flooring:

And, believe me, another vinyl floor was not my first choice, no-sir-eee.

I would have much preferred hardwood floors installed, to match the living room floor:
The living room floor is straight ahead - it is hardwood stained in a walnut color.
But alas, there is the budget to consider.  And the ceramic tile in the entry way.  It's in perfectly good condition, so .... it will stay.

To make the whole thing work. we will put in a new vinyl floor (going to the left in the photo above), and new carpeting (going to the right) for the basement.

This is a big project for us.  Shopping and decision-making cut into sewing time.   One must make sacrifices from time to time.
Agony, I know.

Are you sewing?  Please, tell me yes.

The wild, wild world of sewing

Hanging around with other sewing fanatics keeps you in the safe lane of life.  I like to read murder mysteries and fiction featuring vampires, but I'll take my real life nice and safe, thankyouverymuch.

I ran into Renee recently (Cidell of Miss Celie's Pants) at one of our neighborhood fabric stores.  A place where you can write a check and they won't check your ID - because sewing ladies don't bounce checks.

We whooped it up.
maybe next time I'll open my eyes.

mock violence - she is so scared of me, too.

Anyway, you know what she said to me? "I read your post about accessorizing and I have trouble with that, too".

Huh?  Look at her!  Look at me!  Who has trouble accessorizing?  I rest my case.  Oh, and notice her hand - she wore her Princess Diana Ring.  So cute!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Winner of Fabric Give-Away: Rosalia

Hi Rosalia,
Please send me an email:  alittlesewing at gmail dot com and let me know where to send the lavender fabric.
Thanks to all for participating!!

Four Fast Dresses

When I want new clothes, making my own pattern is the fastest path from point A to point B.  This is for purely one reason - fitting a new pattern is time-consuming for my particular measurements.  Adding design details to a basic pattern (also called a block) is so much faster.  
This dress design is shown in the upper left hand corner on the sketch from this post.

Trace a copy of the block and make design changes.  I like to use
 Make Your Own Dress Patterns by Adele P. Margolis
for guidance.

Darts rotated, shoulder tucks added and fullness added.

Four dress skirts, ready to go!
When sewing a new-to-me commercial pattern,  these basic blocks serve as templates for flat pattern alterations.  This reduces the need for sewing muslins (aka a toile).  Every new muslin becomes an addition to my stable of blocks, to be used in the future as a basis for new designs.  

I don't have different blocks for wovens and knits.  The same blocks get used for all types of fabric.  I sew mockups using muslin, and muslin only.  The purpose of the muslin is to work out construction intricacies, and to fine-tune fitting.  Making a mock-up out of a (hopefully similar) knit hasn't worked well for me because the knit fabric stretches and I can't get a sense of the true fit.

It seems more productive in the long run to use each new mock-up as an opportunity to build knowledge of fabric properties.  

To my mind, the journey from muslin to finished garment includes travel through the forest of fabric knowledge.  Every fabric is a little different and falls somewhere on the continuum from a very stretchy knit (needs negative ease) to a tight twill (would require much more ease).  The properties of fabric, the hand, the turn of cloth - these vary a great deal (and the continuum is not a straight line).

Understanding fabrics is an education unto itself and worth the time invested.  
But then again, this is just how I do it. 

About a year ago, I bought David Page Coffin's book on shirt-making and I expected to learn better methods and make better shirts.  It is a great book and he gets fabulous results.  

After trying it his way, I had an epiphany:

My way works for me - in fact, it works BETTER than his way! 

And my ways might not work for you.
As they say, your mileage may vary!

Hey, I will do the drawing tonight for the lavender fabric.  I can't wait to see where it's going!  If you haven't done so yet, leave a comment here to be included.
Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


This blog makes my jaw drop and my heart go pitter-patter.
Is this the cutest blog banner, ever?  I have been reading Geninne's Art blog for months and I have yet to see anything sewn.  But her photographs, and her art give me such joy.  What a creative soul.

How to Sew Real Classy

The little magenta knit cardigan has some ridiculousness to it.  For starters, I constructed it with the red thread that was already on the serger.  Because who has time to change thread?  That would be the same person who took time to catch-stitch the neckline and hems by hand.  That is how I watch television - with needle, thread and whatever needs sewing.
And doesn't the magenta look nice with this knit from Korea?   I am excited to sew that soon, too.
The last time I sewed this, I doubled up the bodice for warmth and to hide the back side of the print fabric.  That provided a very nice finish for the neckline but the knot is just a little bulky.  This time the knot is just right.  I did not catch-stitch all around the edges of the tie - I just left them unfinished.  This fabric does not ravel.  But still, I'd prefer a little nicer finish on the edges.

Now is when I should mention that yes, I do have a coverhem machine and I could have used that.  I would have wound several bobbins of matching magenta thread and that would have been fine.  I guess I felt it would be awfully bulky for this fluid knit.

That leads me to the next chain of events.  First of all, let's just get this out of the way, I bought a bunch of fabric when I picked up that magenta knit.
The sewing mojo demanded to be fed.
Next thing you know, I was excited about sewing again.  I sketched some sleeveless dresses and thought about binding versus self-lining:
For the sake of speed sewing, I decided that all four dresses will have the same skirt as the dress in the upper left hand corner.  It's the same skirt I used on a few Jalie knit dresses last summer.  I cut them a little fuller, though.  Gosh - out of nowhere came all sorts of creative energy.  All of the skirts are cut and the assembly line is in production.  I still need to work out the bodice design and cut them.

Full disclosure: I am using black thread on the serger for all of these dresses.  I don't think I will ever be a seamstress whose every garment looks just as good on the inside as it does on the outside.  Frankly, my sewing mojo is in charge.  I am just trying to keep up!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Jacket #6 - A Quickie! and a FABRIC GIVEAWAY

***** The GIVE-AWAY has ended - thanks for playing!*******
In my last blog post, I talked myself into buying more fabric to sew another version of New Look 6559.  As a result of the previous post, I decided I was OK with a magenta accessory for my simple little summer dress.  This whole blogging thing is working for me, ha! That's how I came to sew this little cardigan, and I am calling it my Jacket #6 for 2011:
Once upon a time, I had different plans for the cotton in my simple little summer dress; I thought I'd pair it with this lavender knit,  but I never bonded with the color.  I am so glad I listened to my gut and just bought some magenta instead.  I like the magenta and it will go with other things in my wardrobe.
But hey, maybe you like lavender!  Leave a comment if you would like this fabric.  I'll select a commenter randomly on Thursday evening, July 14, so I can put it in the mail to you on Friday.  I am happy to ship internationally.  Those flat rate boxes are not too expensive at all.
from Christine Jonson - nice stuff! color is closest to Pantone 15-3508.
I was so pleased to read a recent comment from Nancy Nix-Rice.  Have you heard of her?  Word gets around that her classes & workshops are a blast. Check out her website- and her newsletter about wardrobe topics. 

I totally enjoyed buying new fabric and sewing up this fast & easy project.  I am going to sew more easy stuff for a while.  I am tired of hard! 

Happy Sewing, all y'all.

Friday, July 8, 2011

By George, I think I've got it!

Pattern alterations - I can finally say I have confidence in making fit alterations for my shoulders.  When I organized my patterns today, it occurred to me that I might have the smallest pattern stash in the blogosphere.   They are mostly a sad bunch of orphans, to tell you the truth.  Nevertheless, I have some, and I have opinions.   

Here is where my mind wandered before I put them all back into the drawer:
Bought this for $1 when A Fabric Place sold out their remaining pattern inventory.  I could make a purse that's just right for me, but it would surely be very plain (then again, I do like Kate Spade).  Not sure if I would enjoy sewing a purse, though.

Hats!  Another $1 pattern that I never thought I'd sew for myself, but since I became a loyal reader of The Style Crone,  I would definitely wear a hat.  I don't really need a warm one in July, though, do I?

Wish I had some magenta knit fabric.  Hmmmm, should I go shopping for fabric?

what a cute sleeveless top for summer!  I didn't notice View A until today.

Before I learned how to fit my shoulders, I sewed a lot of halter tops, not surprisingly.  I like the ruffly version.

Now that's what I'm talkin' about.  I could totally make this fit me and I love the interesting details.

This was a copy-cat purchase.  Elizabeth bought one, so I did, too.  I do like all of the tops, especially the ones with ties.

Ah, ha ha, now you can tell I am playing around and goofing off.  I got carried away doctoring up the picture, but I do like this dress and I would make it knee length.  And I would make it fit me.  Because I can.  Yep.

This is a pattern company from Germany that has gone out of business.  It's got great shaping lines in the back and I think it would be an excellent style for me.  Love it.

This is special because Sigrid gave it to me last summer and it was weird that I really needed a swimsuit pattern, so it seemed like she had read my mind.  I want to sew a swimsuit before we go to the beach later this summer.  Lordie, is that back view showing a thong?  That's not happening.

I saved the best pic for last.  I was moving stuff around- saw this fabric next to these shoes- went "awwww!" So pretty!  It came from Mood, and I bought it the same day I met Peter.  I shocked him by telling him how much I paid for it, which was fun.  (I don't think he even liked it all that much, hee hee)
I wonder what color I'd put behind that lace?  It is cotton and it has a very soft supple hand.  Not sure, but this is going to be pretty when I do get around to sewing it.  I wore my blue lace jacket while I worked, just for the fun of it.  Oh it is soooo comfortable!

Can I tell you a secret?  I took the day off from work today to organize some things in preparation for some minor renovation work in the house.   I would love to jump into a major DIY project - like put up crown molding or remove wall-to-wall carpeting from the staircase.  That is how I have fun.  But, that would totally ruin my husband's weekend.  It's funny how different we human beings are.  Ripping up the house, getting frustrated and making a mess is not fun for some people.
Poor me, I am forced to relax this weekend.  Yes, I know you feel so sorry for me.

Happy Sewing, my friends.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Let them eat cake.

The cake is baked; it's time for the frosting.
The color in the scarf appears in the print of the dress.
How about a purse?
That cross-the-body style purse might be lightweight and convenient, but seeing it in the photograph tells me it's not my best look.  The strap wrinkles the dress, the purse emphasizes my widest circumference and the color is not flattering.  Oops.

Very lightweight, I like the size but maybe not my best color?
This purse is a cute color, lightweight and comfortable to carry, but seemed small.

Hypothesis: If I am sewing the clothing I like, and adding accessories I like, it should all work together.  
I am testing this theory (with a camera, I might add).  

If I select the accessories with the colors & proportions I like, to go with this dress, then by default, these choices should work with other pieces in my wardrobe.  Right?  I am building the whole package based on my preferences.  After all, we don't find ourselves, as much as we create ourselves.  (I tend to think Kierkegaard was on to something.)

What do you think?  Do you find accessorizing difficult?  Honestly, I do.
If it's easy for you, how do you do it - do you just buy what you like, and it all works out?
Do you have hidden piles of purchases you now regret?  I don't like to own too many things;  my wardrobe should fit into a small closet and all of the pieces must play well together.

Happy Sewing!!
Gosh, what will I make next?  Don't you love it when it's time to choose the next project!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

the boring little summer dress

Thanks for all the feedback about the dress when I posted how dumpy it looked.  You had good ideas and I am glad you urged me forward.  You were right.  It is lined (although not underlined) and that is good enough.   I loved suggestions to apply a contrasting piping or trim, so I searched a bit and came up empty-handed.    In the end, I kept it simple with a bateau neckline.  The colors are cornflower blue, pale blue, magenta and straw yellow. 
This will be a fantastic dress on a really hot & humid day,  It is light as a feather!

I put on the dress and went to Nordstrom Rack in search of bargains.   I bought large silver hoop earrings, a necklace and a purse.  But, now I have doubts.  When I looked at pictures, things looked a little different than they did in the mirror.  I left the tags on and kept the receipt ...  I'll post more pics and ask your thoughts.

Isn't it something how revealing a photograph can be?  

More later,
it is so good to be back!

Happy Sewing!!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Status Update

Onward Ho!
Job done: check
Sleep: check
Food: check
Fun: check

Sewing: check!