Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Response to Nancy's question

Nancy, We went to Delhi, Varanasi (unbelievable place), Agra with the Taj Mahal, several villages in Rejastan, the National Park there where our karma was good as we got to see a tiger, Jaipur, Kochin and the Kerala backwaters, and finally Mombai. It was wonderful and very intense.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Home again

I'm back and working on returning to this time zone. A few more days.....

India was fantastic. I can't believe how exotic and colorful it is. The thing that struck me the most was seeing almost 100% of the women wearing either sarees or salwar chemise outfits. So beautiful and feminine. This includes women who live in tiny huts who must carry water from a village well and business women in the cities. They all wear the draped textiles even to do heavy labor. Silk brocade, chiffon and cotton voile either printed or plain, beaded and sequined or embroidered. Always in strong colors, often with lots of jewelry. I felt ashamed of the way we dress here. It seems so dull and lazy. About the only females not wearing the traditional dress were young girls and they wore school uniforms. Even the girls uniforms were varied and colorful. Only a few teenagers in the big cities wore jeans and then usually with an embroidered tunic or blouse.

The men are rapidly giving up the traditional draped clothing in favor of trousers or jeans. Our guide told us they didn't want to take the time to do it anymore. Not many wear the turbins anymore, for the same reason.

I brought home one silk sari which I will probably cut and use as fabric. Also many other textile things.... table cloths and placemats, wall hangings, silk scarves, wool shawls. I had planned to buy more but I didn't have as much shopping time as I needed.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Passage to India

Hello friends, I had hoped to finish my Vogue jacket by now and review it. I know several of you are interested in the results. But.... it has been chaotic here with no time for sewing and now I'm getting ready to leave tomorrow for a 3 week trip to India! So exciting. Maybe I will come home with some wonderful textiles. See you later....

Monday, October 29, 2007

Answers to your questions re Vogue 2980

Coolobreeze: I wear a D cup also and found adding at the sides worked with no dart. If you are small through the waist and hips I would do the FBA but ease the extra in instead of darting.

Sharon: It appears (from my fabric database) that I bought the animal print fabric from FabricMartFabrics about 2 years ago. It has been hiding under my bed for awhile!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Vogue 2980 Sandra Betzina top

This is just a great top. So easy to sew but with tons of style. And comfortable too. You just have to find a bra that has wide set straps and you are all set.

One thing I really like about this garment is that, because the neckline is folded, you don't have to worry about achieving a professional finish around the oh so visible neckline. Often that is where the stitching shows the "loving hands at home" look. So this is an excellent pattern for knit beginners.

The only alteration I did was to add on to the side seams to increase size C up to my bust size.
My knit is a bit thick so there is a bit of bulk at the underarm side seams where the collar is pleated in. Not uncomfortable but a little odd feeling at first.

Do you like my rooster?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Carolyn's question re Vogue 2987

In response to Carolyn's question about fabric to use for the Anne Klein jacket: I think a nice wool would work well for this jacket. Something that eases well for the sleeve caps and can be steamed into shape. Perhaps wool crepe or even a gabardine that isn't stiff. The suede will work if you make the modifications I've been doing. You will probably need to do those in wool too, certainly adding the interfacing. I think they must have used a stiffer, heavier suede than mine to have the collar work. But then the sleeves would have been even worse.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Vogue 2987 Anne Klein jacket

I've been working on this jacket off and on for a month now, interrupted by trips and other sewing projects. It has been very annoying to work on for a variety of reasons. The pattern specifically calls for synthetic suede. It is the only fabric suggested for the jacket. I have a very nice quality, light weight ultra-suede that I am using. I've sewn with ultra-suede before and not had any problems. This however, has been a nightmare. Perhaps using another fabric like wool crepe the sleeves would work but they are drafted really poorly for ultra-suede. After several attempts to set in the sleeves, using mohair as per Sandra Betzina's technique, I cut off the top of the sleeve to make a flatter curve. It still isn't perfect but I will live with it.

None of the seams would press flat so I went back (after I thought I was almost done) and applied fusible strips under every seam to hold them down. It looks better now but not as good as I would like.

The pattern doesn't call for any interfacing which is bizarre. The collar really needs it. So after constructing the collar I went back in with a sturdy interfacing and it is better. I will also add interfacing for under the buttons. What were the pattern drafters thinking?

And now that it is almost complete I have found another problem. The back juts out unattractively (see photos). I guess it is supposed to have a slight peplum affect but this looks bad on me. I guess I will go back in, pull apart the fused seams (egad!!) and take in the seams at the lower back to pull it in closer to the body. The sleeves are unfinished in the pictures. I left the placket and hem of the sleeves to after setting the sleeves in which turned out to be a good thing. By removing the top of the sleeve head the sleeves are now almost too short. I only have 1/2 inch to hem instead of the 2 inches that I should have.

Meanwhile I am going to set it aside for a few quick sews to get my spirit back..

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Oz as a Pea Pod

Here are photos of baby Owen dressed in his pea pod costume. After this trying on session I decided to move the top pea down a bit as he was sucking on it. And I snugged up the elastic some to fit more neatly around his face.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Pea Pod Costume

I finished the pea pod costume for Baby Oz. We're going to Wyoming to visit him (and his parents of course) in a few days and I had to push to get it ready to take with me. I sure hope it fits. I made size Medium which is for 3-6 months. He will be 6 months at Halloween. His length and weight were within the medium size range so I chose that. His weight was almost in the small size but his height at the medium. I hope he hasn't suddenly grown lots longer in the last few weeks. I will post photos with him wearing the costume when I get back.

The costume is very cute and not hard to make. It did take longer than I anticipated but isn't that always the case? I used a plush bright green microfiber and a dark green felt, both from Joann's. The only tricky part was attaching the stem at the top of the hood. That was probably because I stuffed it too full of polyfill. The peas don't look quite centered because you have to sew them to one side of the zipper. That is my only complaint with the pattern. Oh, and also, they neglected to mention that you need cording (to gather up the peas) in the notions. Fortunately I had just enough on hand to get by.

I'm going to suggest to my son that he dress as the Jolly Green Giant or as a can of vegetables. He will have to make his own costume though. Only so much a person can do....

Thursday, October 4, 2007

What mythological creature are you?

You Are a Mermaid

You are a total daydreamer, and people tend to think you're flakier than you actually are.

While your head is often in the clouds, you'll always come back to earth to help someone in need.

Beyond being a caring person, you are also very intelligent and rational.

You understand the connections of the universe better than almost anyone else.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Sewing Vintage Contest

Be sure to vote in the Sewing Vintage Contest on Pattern Review. The last day to vote is October 10. If you feel like voting for me my entry is the Katherine Hepburn outfit which appears near the end of the list of entries.

I must get busy now with my pea pod costume for baby Oz.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Eva Dress Katherine Hepburn Jacket and Dress

The Vintage Pattern Contest inspired me to try this design. I had seen it in the recent Threads issue that was all about vintage sewing and ordered it from Eva Dress. Not that I am built anything like Katherine Hepburn but I loved the idea of recreating something designed for her in a movie. As the pattern states "this is a very scarce design put out by Butterick as part of their 'Starred' pattern series for a 'costume for women and misses as worn by Miss Hepburn in an R.K.O. Radios Picture'. This ensemble consists of a dress and jacket in two styles with the hat! The jacket for version 'A' features cut-away sleeves and the attached scarf laps over the front to close the jacket with buttons for detail!

Recommended fabric for the jacket blouse: light weight wools, taffeta, satin, novelty cottons, gingham, shantung and linen. (Quite an interesting variety I think). For the skirt and hat: light weight wools, silk crepe, taffeta, or satin, novelty cottons, gingham, shantung or linen to contrast the Jacket Blouse. I found this silk plaid with embroidery in my stash as well as the crepe for the dress.

Eva Dress has reproduced this pattern and added sizes beyond the original which just came in one size. I chose the 12-14-16 because the waist and hips were close to mine and I was afraid the larger size would be too big at the shoulders. I probably would have done better with the larger size though as I needed to do extensive altering at the bust to make this work. The jacket pattern consists of one main piece (with gusset and facings) so it was quite the puzzle to figure out where to add for my FBA. I had to make a muslin to understand how the piece went together and then started slashing to add the extra needed. It worked out okay in the end.

I would say the instructions are okay although one needs some experience to comprehend them. For instance the gusset instructions are vague. I just did things the way I have done before for the most part and didn't follow the instructions closely. I changed a few things slightly. On the dress I made the bodice a full lining instead of using the facings. I put in an invisible zip in the side seam instead of the vintage technique using snaps. I was afraid I would pop those open as this is quite closely fitted. I shortened the dress about 4 inches as I don't have those long Hepburn legs. I did not line the scarf as suggested in the pattern as I feared it would add too much bulk around the neck. I just did a twice turned narrow hem. I also didn't do bound buttonholes for the 9 buttonholes!

I would recommend this pattern if you have some experience and enjoy trying something a little different. I think the dress is quite current looking with the raised, curved bodice seam and the jacket, though unusual, not too costumey.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Sandra Betzina Week continued again & again

I had thought I could resist purchasing fabrics on our shopping day. Ha ha. How silly of me. I have been to these stores many times since I live within range. But I guess the 25% discount given as part of our little group was just too much for me to resist. Here are my purchases from Britex in SF, Stone Mountain & Daughter in Berkeley, Thai Silks in Los Altos, and Aida Dalati Atelier in Menlo Park.

Hard to see these but if you click on the photo they get bigger. In the top photo dark red cotton with ragged embroidery, Japanese cotton with stylized hydrangeas clusters and sage tencel to match. Middle photo has knits: top is wool jersey, then lacy on mesh, rayon jersey stripe and on the bottom a fur animal print. On the bottom silks: brown with copper medallions (sort of organza) with brown silk crepe to go with, chiffon large dots, and finally chiffon sage dots on black with dupioni and organza to go under it. I have vague ideas of what to do with these wonderful fabrics. The chiffon sage dots will be a skirt. The fur animal print will probably be a Vintage Vogue jacket. The rayon jersey - a top, the dark red cotton - a casual jacket.

Sandra Betzina Week continued again

Click in the box to link to Eva Dress and the picture of the pattern.
I'm finishing up my projects started at the sewing camp in SF. Somehow they were very complex and have taken me a long time. Sandra helped me with fitting issues on the vintage pattern I chose which I plan to enter in the PR Vintage Contest. This is the Katherine Hepburn jacket and dress from Eva Dress which appeared in the Threads issue that was dedicated to vintage sewing a few months ago. This jacket is mostly one pattern piece, very oddly shaped. I knew how to construct it but fitting was a puzzle. It was very interesting to see how Sandra figured it out. Very unconventional fitting techniques. It was quite liberating to see her approach. Once she understood the pattern piece and where the bust was (the area I needed to add to) she suggested slashing and adding sort of randomly. Not in any orderly way. I found this very freeing.

I also chose to work on Vogue 2987, the Anne Klein jacket in ultra-suede. I encountered a few problems in the drafting of this pattern, especially in the sleeve cap. The jacket is almost done, maybe 3 more hours. Then I will review it.

Sandra Betzina Week continued

Here are some more photos showing the sewing experience. We sewed in a lovely high ceiling room with lots of windows and views of San Francisco.

Sandra is showing her button stash in her home sewing space. She doesn't stash fabric but she sure has the buttons.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sandra Betzina Week

I'm back from a wonderful week of obsessive sewing. The workshop with Sandra was just as fantastic as I had expected it to be. Many things learned as well as new friends, new fabric, and a few projects almost completed. Sandra is such a driving force, she energizes everyone around her. We sewed all day and into the night barely stopping for food.

Here's the stuff my friend Barbara and I needed to load into my car when we left!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Christine Jonson Ruffle Top and Swirl Skirt

I was thrilled to hear that Christine Jonson will be at the Sandra Betzina sewing camp next week. A surprise! So I just had to rush to make up one of her patterns to wear. I only have a few and haven't used them so I had nothing in the closet to drag out. I decided this skirt and top were the best candidates of the 3 patterns I have. I found this wonderful tie dye flocked with chenille velvet flowers in my stash. I believe I purchased it from Casual Elegance a few years ago. My photographer is out of town so I will make do with Fertilina.

It is a bit dressier than I think is appropriate for a sewing workshop but I will wear it anyway because, well just because. Hopefully it won't be too warm in SF next week as this is a heavier knit and with the double front and long sleeves it is cozy.

I cut the top in a medium and the skirt in a small following the envelope measurements. The skirt is a wee bit snug but really ok. The top is a wee bit large. I took in the underarms and sides but next time I will cut a small and use a small seam allowance.

The ruffle is unfinished on the edges as per the pattern design. It looks good except my jersey wants to roll under some. I guess it still looks fine. The only change I did was to hem with the cover stitch on my Evolve and to shorten the top and sleeves about an inch.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Felted bag

What a fun project to do. Knit quickly on giant needles combining yarns every which way, then throw in the washing machine to transform. No sizing worries like for a hat or garment. The photos with the balls of yarn shows the size before felting. About 18 inches tall by twice as wide. You can use my toes for reference.

Now the only thing left is to decide whether I want to line this thing. I think it would probably be a good idea as it would help keep the shape plus I could put a pocket for the phone and a magnet to close.

I used 5 different colors of Cascade wool yarn, knitting 2 colors together always. Then I added 1 of 4 different novelty yarns (bought at Joann's from their $.97 bin) carried along with the 2 wool yarns. Size 15 needles. The handles are also 2 colors held together knitting an i-cord 42 inches long on size 10 needles.

Wash with the hottest water, a pair of jeans and a few drops of detergent, checking once and a while to see if it has shrunk enough. This was tricky with a front load washer as it doesn't like to be stopped mid-cycle but I figured out a way.

I'm thrilled with how this turned out.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Vogue 2933 Sandra Betzina skirt

I'm knocking out Sandra Betzina patterns in anticipation of my upcoming sewing week in San Francisco with her. I'm so excited. My friend Barbara and I signed up a long time ago to get the last two spots in one of her sewing camps for this year. Of course now that it is coming up I have many conflicts but most of them will have to be skipped or ignored so I can immerse myself in the sewing week. We stay in a hotel in SF from Sunday until Sunday with classes everyday with Sandra. We each have a sewing station (just like Project Runway) with cutting tables, ironing station, etc. all available to us. These spaces will be open late so we can continue sewing into the night if we like. Britex is just down the street in case we need something. Sewers heaven!!!

So of course I decided I needed a few new things from her recent patterns. This time it is Vogue 2933, a pull-on skirt with side drapes. Seemingly simple, it has a few puzzling construction details that remind me of some of the older Issey Miyake designs. Primarily rectangle pieces put together differently. It doesn't take much time to construct once you understand the process. There are a few places in her instructions that could be clearer but generally she does a thorough job including modern techniques. The line drawing makes it look as though there are side seams between the skirt and the drape. It doesn't say to do this in the instructions so I think they are not stitched.

It runs big. I wish I had cut size A although my measurements are closer to size C. It is pretty impossible to alter it once you've sewn the drapes on without taking it entirely apart. And you can't tell how it will fit and drape until that point. Also you need to determine the length and hem before you start. (Doesn't that sound like Miyake?) My knit has a bit of bulk to it so there are more gathers around the waist than I like. My friend Dorothy made this in a jersey with 4 way stretch and hers drapes more gracefully. But still I like it a lot. It is very comfortable to wear.

The fabric is a buttermilk or something similar from EmmaOneSock a few years ago. I picked it because it has mountains and trees on it and I thought it would be fun to wear when I visit my DS and his family in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Vogue 8397 Marcy Tilton pant

This is a first for me. I have now made all 3 views on a pattern. Rarely do I use a pattern even twice but all the views is unheard of. And, all 3 views are black pants. I really didn't need another pair of black pants but I wanted to have a pair of the matching cotton dobby to the Marcy Tilton jacket I made recently. So it seemed logical to use her pant pattern again.

This is view C which is a one seam pant. There are darts at the waistline, front and back, to take out some of the fullness. There are cute outside darts at the bottom to pull in the leg. Also a tuck horizontal to the hem which you can barely see in the envelope photo. You can barely see it on my garment too. I guess if it were a color other than black you could see it. It serves no function except to be decorative. These pants are very baggy in the hip and thigh area. Perhaps with a drapier fabric than mine this would look okay. However I didn't like the look so I took in one inch on each leg at the inseam. No outer leg seam to alter or I would have done it there too.

I cut a 12 which is a size smaller than my measurements. So you can see these run big.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Vogue 2977 Sandra Betzina top and skirt

I read discussion on PR about this pattern when it first came out recently. Some thought it looked like a Robin Hood costume and that Sandra had gone off the deep end. I took this as a challenge.... I agreed that green would not be a good choice but I found this nice jersey in my stash and decided to give it a go. I love it. Of course I always go for the non-traditional, arty look. No tailored blazers for me. I particularly like the top. As Sandra mentions in the pattern, the ruching hides a tummy. I thought it might accent it but I think it is slenderizing. Yea. The skirt is fun but I probably won't make it again as it is so distinctive.

Sandra includes lots of special instructions including using steam-a-seam to stabilize, fitting suggestions, fabric possibilities, needles, serging and so on. Great help for a beginner.

I cut size B at the top and C at the sides. The skirt is a bit big so a B probably would work even though my measurements are clearly in the C range. The top needs to fit snuggly around the belly as the ruching is created by bunching it up.

The only difference between view A and B is the length of the sleeves. I shortened the tunic 1 inch. I also changed the elastic application to my favorite serged and turned technique instead of creating a casing a Sandra suggests. I also used my Evolve's cover stitch for all hems. The neckline is faced which creates a nice un-topstitched looked. However it is rolling, even with the understitching, so I may just top stitch and trim away the facing.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Vogue 7703 Cat Bag

I found this delightful fabric at the ASG Conference in one of the vendor's booths. I just had to have it and the only thing I could think of that I might possibly really sew and use was a bag. So I bought just a yard plus the dotted fabric to use as lining. Once home I studied my many never used bag patterns and decided on this one. I cut view D intending to put the grommets in a the top. The cord goes through the grommets and creates the shape with pleats at the top. I found some large grommets at JoAnn's but they were too big for my grommet setter. I was fearful of the hammer technique to apply the grommets figuring I would make a mess of it. So I changed my plan and made a tab to close using velcro to secure. I added the little bow. It just seemed to need it.

The pattern was easy to sew except for the oval at the bottom with the cording. The tight curves there were a bit tricky and my result is okay but not perfect. I used fusible fleece on the cat fabric and iron-on interfacing on the lining as my fabrics were soft. The pattern calls for synthetic leather or suede, woolens and corduroy with fusible hair canvas to support. My fusible fleece worked great although it is more soft looking than sleek.

I really like having an open outer pocket on my bags to drop sunglasses or maps in.

There is also one inner pocket for cell phone or whatever. Hard to see in this photo but the picture is of the lining with the pocket.