Sunday, November 25, 2012

Style Arc Susan with Amy Cowl

With DD#1 married and moved, I've realized I don't need as much space and I'm not really interested in the upkeep of a house. So, I moved. I am now living in a 900+ square foot apartment. That means no grass to water and mow but also no yard. The little dog loves the balcony and is adjusting. For me, the biggest change is my daily commute. It is so much easier now and once I get the sewing space settled (below), I think this is going to work just fine!

Naturally, I’ve spent the last few weeks getting organized. Still much to do, but I’m tired of the whole process and needed a break. I pulled out the Style Arc Susan and Amy top patterns and decided to merge them. For my experiment, I used the leftovers from a dress I had sewn in the summer, a ITY. There was just enough to cut ¾ length sleeves. Usually, it takes about an hour and a half for me to complete a t-shirt. This one took at least two hours.

My goal was for a slightly different neck finish than the original Amy cowl. To get there, I removed five inches from the cowl to make it fit into my tweaked neckline. I folded the traced cowl pattern piece at center front and sewed a 1/2" seam, taking up one inch. Another inch was taken from each of the remaining notches. I could have taken the scissors to it and found some tape, but this was easy. What can I say?

The collar ended up about two inches less than the neck opening and just about perfect. Oh, I also raised the neckline on the back a bit to encourage the collar to stand up. I guessed as to the amount. Mostly on the sides and a small amount (maybe a 1/4"?) at the center back. It worked...

While I was at it, I went ahead and cut out two pairs of pants and a few tops. Hope to show them soon!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Three Patterns Tested

Once this sparkly and heathered ITY knit from Fabric Mart showed up, I questioned what caused me to choose it. Could it be the $1.00/yard price? Well, yes, price indeed was the factor that compelled me to purchase 10 yards. Based on other ITY knits I've sewn, I was expecting more stretch, but at $1.00/yard, I've nothing ugly to say. Not perfect, but plenty good enough for assessing new patterns. By the way, this purple above is more indicative of the fabric color than the other photos.

I've had the Style Arc Creative Cate pattern for awhile and had hopes that it would be wonderful. It almost is. Notice the horizontal line at the bust point. I believe that means more fabric is needed there. I never ever need a FBA (full bust adjustment). Ever.

Though the bust measurement of the dress form is the same as mine, the horizontal line doesn't show up when I'm wearing the top. So, if I use a stretchier knit, will the top then be too loose? Looks like I'll be digging another knit out of the stack to find out...I like this style. A lot. The horizontal line? Not so much.

Next, I tweaked the measurements on the Bernina My Label t-shirt. I serged one shoulder (with clear elastic, of course) and switched to the coverstitch. The self-fabric strip refused to cooperate with the binder despite given several opportunities. Eventually, it was replaced with a cotton knit from the scrap box. Can't say that this is my favorite combination, but I was able to finish the project.

This version is too wide across the upper front and there is something odd with the bust at the side seams. While wearing this top, I notice that the fabric wants to make a bust dart - see the wrinkles on the right. On me, I get one large fold. There is too much fabric, but I don't know what measurement/s to change to make it go away. Do you? I suppose I should compare the measurements to my original pattern and that would tell the story. No matter; I'll revert to my older BML t-shirt pattern.

Even if this one isn't a great fit and is a bit strange, I'm gonna wear it anyway. Yep, I am...

The third pattern sampled is this oldie but goodie Burda 1-2006-131. Burda being Burda, I knew better and yet didn't bother to raise the neckline. However, I did skip the center back seam. To avoid using the binder for the neck finish, I added 1/4" seam allowance and serged the self-fabric strip, right sides together, to the top. Then, I folded the strip up and over the seam allowance and coverstitched to secure the back side of the strip to the top. I prefer to use the binder, but I sure did not want another purple top with peachy/orange binding. One is quite enough, thank you.

I chose ivory thread for the contrast top-stitching (coverstitched) as the purple blended with the fabric and the seams disappeared. This pattern will be better once the neckline has been adjusted to a Tammyriffic level (I'm guessing about an inch to an inch and a half).

Burda 1-2006-131
Okay, of the three, the Creative Cate is my favorite. I'm gonna pass on the BML tweaked version as the older one is better. The Burda pick is worth fine-tuning the neckline.

There are still yards of this fabric left...

Monday, October 1, 2012

Uh, Catching Up is Hard to Do...

So, I'm talking with DD#2 and she mentions my blog. She said it had been awhile since I had posted and I should get back to it...Yes, I'm feeling a bit guilty and I do miss it. However, in my defense, my solo workshop has been producing, I've merely skipped the documenting part.

I've yet to show you what I had sewn for the wedding, which by now seems so very long ago. I enjoyed sewing with silk, beaded lace, pretty linings and learned that installing an invisible zipper is much easier than a lapped one.

If your guess for the wedding venue was the front porch of The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island you would be correct. What a beautiful place to have a wedding! If you ever have a chance to visit – do it!

A few details regarding my dress: I overestimated the size needed for the McCall’s jacket. Therefore, the first muslin was a fail. Besides being excessively big, it was also shapeless. I pinned a few other jacket patterns together on the dress form and was not any happier. Finally, because I knew it fit, I pulled out my BML classic shirt pattern and, using the front and back pieces, blended the front and hem of the McCall’s pattern. The muslin looked good and I went with it.

The dress was colorful, comfortable and perfect for the occasion. For the most part, the pictures were professionally done (copyrighted) and those that weren't included folks that might not appreciate being splattered across the web. So, sorry - I'm not going to post pictures.

Once back home and settled, I took the dress to be cleaned. The Bah! Humbug! dry-cleaner refused to clean the dress. Why? It lacked tags stating the fiber content and how it should be cleaned. No matter the sign stating they did fiber testing before cleaning. I was sent next door to a bridal gown cleaning/preserving shop and the young woman there told me that their fees started at $60, but my dress would certainly be beyond that. I haven't had anything dry-cleaned in years and that seemed a bit high. Is it? Months later, the dress still hasn’t made a journey through the chemicals...

Besides the wedding on Mackinac Island, there was also a Texas reception at the Welfare CafĂ© in Welfare, Texas. I sewed the bride's dress for the reception from an ivory beaded lace and silk dupioni.  Lovely. But once again, no pictures...

Since the wedding, I've been sewing everyday things, just no blogging. I had to make a choice. Either I could sew or I could blog. Due to a diminishing wardrobe, it was indeed an easy choice. I sewed mostly TNT's: t-shirts, simple dresses and even a skirt, along with a few pairs of pants. Not many pants as all of the jeans, shorts and pants I sewed last year are still going strong, though I admit that my favorites are fading.

So, see, you didn't miss much. I'll be back. Promise.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Muslin for MOB Dress

Bodice: Bernina My Label princess seam dress
  • Bodice shortened to fit midriff
  • Neckline lowered (may be lowered 1/2" more)
  • Outer shoulder narrowed by 5/8"
  • Gathers added to center front
Midriff: Butterick 4510 Maggy London, from 2005 (OOP)
  • Pin-tucks, pleats, ruching or alternative will be included to add interest (lining pieces were used for this muslin)
Skirt: Burda Plus Autumn/Winter 2011 425A
  • Skirt height trimmed to meet midriff at waist
  • To be determined...

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Beginning of the MOB Dress

With some decisions made, the process has begun. I have been shopping for months, trying to find an appropriate dress to wear at my daughter’s upcoming wedding. MOB dresses seem to fall into the following categories:

  • Las Vegas showgirl
  • Muddy colored polyester knits incorporating sequins and geriatric styling
  • Cringe-worthy MOB regulation uniform 
Well, that just isn’t going to work. I ended up at Sew Elegant, a little shop on West Avenue, in San Antonio. They have lovely formal wear fabrics. My first visit was several months ago during lunch hour. This time, DD#1 accompanied me and when she saw this fabric, we were done shopping!
Now I have to decide on which patterns to use. I’ve looked at every pattern website I can think of along with searches through my own pattern collection. All I know right now is that there will be an unlined jacket from the embroidered silk organza and a simple, full-length dress sewn from the silk dupioni. The lining is rayon - Ambiance Bemberg. I’m thinking there should be an underlined bodice, but don’t really want to underline the whole dress as drapey is preferred for the skirt.

The lines need to be clean. That means no fancy pleating, ruffles, etc. to compete with the embroidery. The purple of the flowers matches the purple of the bridesmaid dresses and the mother of the groom’s dress is a creamy beige lace, so these fabrics will certainly coordinate. Tell me though - does that even matter?

For the dress, I’m considering 425A from the Autumn/Winter 2011 Burda Plus.

And, for the jacket, McCall’s 9700 (OOP from 1998), view A with the short sleeves from view B. View A lacks the front princess seams of view B. No side seams either, but the center back seam, which gives shaping, needs to go as it would be a shame to break up the flowers. Frankenpattern? Likely...

And, yes, a muslin will be happening very soon!

Happy Mother's Day!

Enjoy your week!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Style Arc Anita Peasant Blouse

My new blouse is made from a teal rayon challis print purchased from nearly a year ago. I love it! The cropped pants, Burda Style 02-2011-123A, were sewn last April and have become a favorite.

I have been sewing other garments, too. I put together a pair of the Style Arc Peta cropped pants and another pair of the Ottobre Every-Woman’s Pant (05-2008-16). And, waiting their turn by the Bernina, are the cut pieces for the Style Arc Katherine pants. I’ll get you some pictures soon. By the way, the Style Arc Susan t-shirts fit well and are comfortable. I’ve retraced the pattern with the changes and am ready to make more.

BIG NEWS: DD#1 is getting married! I am making my dress for the wedding and I need to finalize the design and get busy. So far, I have a beautiful turquoise/Capri blue embroidered silk organza that I want to use for a shrug/little jacket thingy. There are also several yards of matching silk dupioni on order for the dress. It will be floor length and fully lined. 

I’ll definitely be stitching a muslin first. Now, the dress should be underlined, right? With silk organza? Bodice only? What is typical? I suppose I’ll need to figure out how to do an invisible zipper/lining combination…

Ah, a learning opportunity…

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Style Arc Susan Top

I keep reading good things about Style Arc patterns. Enough, that I finally placed an order. I went with my measurements for choosing a size and once my patterns arrived, I knew I wanted to start with the Susan Top. After all, you really can’t get more basic than a t-shirt. I traced the pattern and compared it to my Bernina My Label t-shirt. Of course, the sleeve piece was too long. The rest, however, wasn’t too far off and curiosity dictated that I sew it up without any other changes. I pulled a leftover stretch jersey ITY to do the experiment. Yes, you have seen this fabric before.

I put clear elastic into the shoulders only because it took such a small amount and hoping I might actually want to wear the muslin.

The instructions have you turn under the neck edge and top stitch. Instead, I cut a strip two inches wide and did the usual neckband and coverstitched around the outside of the seam once it was sewn on. It helped to fill in the neck area.

I didn’t have enough fabric for long sleeves, so ¾ length for this one.

The resulting t-shirt fits me really well, yet could be a tad shorter. I pulled another less-than-wonderful leftover fabric, a matte jersey, made a few changes and made another muslin. I took an inch off the hem and morphed a new sleeve hem using the cap sleeve from view C (the pink one on the upper right) of Simplicity 5502. Yeah, long OOP, but in the pattern file and handy.

I kept the 2” neck band because I was lazy.  I didn’t steam the fabric this time; I merely pressed with a warm, dry iron. Remember - this was the fabric that grew.

I am going wear both of these t-shirts before making any more from the pattern. I have to tell you, so far I’m pleased, and the sting from the postage is quickly fading!

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Sleep Tee

The Bernina got a break this time as my new sleep tee was sewn entirely on the serger and coverstitch. I didn’t time it, but it sure felt like I’d spent more time changing out the threads and needles than actually sewing.

The usual t-shirt things happened:

  • Clear elastic sewn into the shoulder seams
  • ¼” serged seams
  • Coverstitch neck binding
  • 1” coverstitch hems
Though not glamorous or exciting, this oversized tee it is exactly what I want for a sleep garment. Nope, there are no snaps, buttons, zippers or elastic and it is big enough to be comfortable yet not too loose where I end up tangled in excess fabric.
Thanks goes to the clearance section of Hancock’s for this cotton knit fabric. I washed and dried it twice using hot water and the highest heat setting. The fabric became much softer and I’m hoping that the high temps took care of any future shrinkage.
The side seams are fairly straight and the tee certainly isn’t tapered, so I don’t know why (and frankly, I don’t care) it appears to be on the dress form.

I think this no-brainer project would adapt very well to assembly-line sewing. Well, as long as the thread color remained the same.
Next? Well, winter and long sleeves are over, but still I want to work with variations of my shirt pattern, though it makes sense to produce quick t-shirts and elastic waist Capri’s. So, your guess is as good as mine!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

It Works!

The shirt has been finished, worn and is now resting in the hamper. Though the fabric is not feminine, my greater concern was the fit. It both fits and is comfortable. I look forward to sewing the next one using prettier fabric. But, hey Mary Nanna, at least it isn’t denim!
For this shirt, it didn’t make sense to bother with flat-felled seams if I wasn’t sure what my seam allowances were going to be. Nor did I bother to do a rolled hem. Instead, I serged the edge and folded it up. It looks fine…

I am happy with the sleeve cap adjustment. I have very little knowledge of sleeve cap theory, but I do know that this looks much better and I’m glad I made the effort to tweak the pattern.

I fired up the 403A for the buttonholes. However, prior to the buttonholes, I had to find buttons. There were some natural shell ones in the stash (I’m fairly certain they came from Fashion Sewing Supply). They are ever so slightly larger than I preferred, so I took myself to both Hancock’s and JoAnn’s. No surprise, but neither store had buttons that would work. They were too big, too small or not enough of them in the same size. I gave up, went home, and made buttonholes to fit the natural shell buttons.

Next time, I want to shorten the bust dart. Now, don’t get me wrong, this pattern, just as it is, fits better than anything I could hope to find in retail, but still I think there is room for improvement. I like the shaping the bust dart provides, but it really needs to be less obvious, if only a little. I think I can figure this out. Don’t you?
I haven’t had a chance to try out the Lands’ End sleep shirt pattern yet as I keep changing my mind about which fabric to use for the testing…

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Starting to Look Like a Shirt!

My goal was to finish this today. It still needs a hem, buttonholes and buttons.

The sleeves went in easily but the proof will be in the wearing. Sure, it fits when I try it on, but how comfortable will it be at the office?

Even though I'm considering this a muslin, I went ahead and tried a different cuff technique. Yes, I was supposed to be focused on the adjusted sleeve pattern for this shirt. I got sidetracked.

Sherry, over at pattern ~ scissors ~ cloth, has a wonderful tutorial (under her "Tricks of the Trade" tab). I tried it for this shirt and it really was a "Duh" moment for me. Why I hadn't tried this before, I do not know. Thank you Sherry! What a generous gift!

So, improvements to date:
  • Sleeve cap - smoother
  • Interfacing quality - lovely result
  • Cuff technique - easy and perfect - you really need to try this! 
This is encouraging. Makes me want to sew more shirts...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Little by Little

It is dark here. Rainy and dreary too. And, I’m embarrassed to show you these photos. I’ve tried, (really I have!) to come up with better looking ones.

The jeans were finished almost two weeks ago and the shirt is slowly coming together. No longer entertained by needles breaking and flying while zigzagging belt loops onto several thicknesses of denim, I’ve decided to sew fewer of them. This explains why you see two, not three belt loops on the back. I’m not liking the look, but hey, I don’t wear tucked-in shirts and no one (other than us) will ever know. This is my solution until I can figure something else out.

Oh, now don’t fret about the collar stand – it isn’t yet attached to the shirt; it's not even pinned. As you can see, I haven’t made it to the sleeves either even though I’m anxious to see if the cap/bicep adjustment is going to work.

Once I get a pattern I like, I plan to step up to the opportunities for tabs, pockets and maybe some pintucks or ruffles. This round is simply to let me know if the sleeve is better. Call it a muslin or toile. Take your pick...
Along with the new sleeve pattern, I am also trying out a new-to-me fusible interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply. This one is Pro-Woven Shirt-Crisp interfacing. You can’t tell from the photo, but the collar looks great! However, I’ll hold off buying any more until I know it’s gonna survive the washer and dryer.

I am curious to see what happens to this stuff. I don’t hand wash any of my clothing (does anyone?) but I make considerable use of the delicate cycles. It needs to take a few trips to the laundry room and come back looking good. I think that is a fair test.

Side seam at hem of worn Lands' End Sleep-T
I’ve noticed my Lands’ End Sleep-T’s have seen better days. I’ve worn dozens of these over the years in various colors and prints. Usually, I order several at a time, all the same size, color and print (translation: whatever is on the overstock page in my size) and wear them until someone tells me I should be ashamed…Well, I am ashamed but they are now $39.50 each. I have to admit they are worth every penny, but I’m realizing I could buy a lot of fabric and/or other sewing goodies instead. Therefore, planning ahead, I am going to take the worst looking one and make it a pattern. The way I see it is there isn’t much to loose if it doesn’t work…

Monday, January 2, 2012

Bernina My Label Tailored Shirt Pattern

In looking at the sleeve cap of my BML shirt pattern, I decided that it really wasn’t too wonky looking. You know – having an obvious bump that is begging to be smoothed out. I could take some off the top of the cap to help it fit better into the armhole. However, it occurred to me that I had added to the bicep measurement in the style settings before printing the pattern and that likely added more fabric than necessary. What would happen if I reprinted the pattern using my actual bicep measurement? Would that correct the cap?

To find out, I’ve reprinted the pattern using my real bicep measurement. The clear pattern on the top is the original pattern printed in 2010 while the white paper is the new one.

For fabric, I’m using this black striped stretch cotton ordered from To me, it looks like it should be sewn into a manly country western shirt, complete with pointed yokes and pearl snaps. I had expected pant weight fabric. Thank goodness I paid less than $6.00 for it! Just know I won’t be crying too hard if my changes don’t work. Yet, I sure hope they do…

In other breaking sewing news (hold your breath), I started another pair of jeans. My favorite cropped jeans came from Ottobre Woman 05-2008-16.  For this pair, I've lengthened the leg, changed the back waist darts into a yoke, added a coin pocket and traced the back pocket from the only RTW jeans in my closet (Eddie Bauer). As always, I guessed to their placement.

OttobreWoman 05-2008-16

I’ll probably be able to get another project or two from the roll before it is used up and I need to be deciding what type and weight the next one should be.

Happy sewing and Happy New Year!