Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sewing soon....

I have a meeting here tonight of my antique club. Not only do I feel the house has to be orderly and clean but I'm giving the program. So this has had me obsessed with cleaning and organizing since I got home from our trip plus, of course, battling jet lag. Tomorrow, finally, I hope to sew and start messing things up again!!!!  I have a lace project unfinished from before our trip which will get top priority and then, what will it be? So many possibilities.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Home again

I'm home again, this time from a vacation trip to Thailand. It was fabulous of course. Lots of wonderful experiences and way too much of the terrific cuisine. I brought home two pieces of fabric but they are not silk. I was disappointed in the silks I saw. I can do better price wise here in the states. But I did find some interesting textiles and bought a hand woven cotton in colorful stripes and a burn out cotton in a voile like texture. It was hard for me to focus when we were in the shops because it was so hot and humid. I got sort of crazy and stupid. Perhaps if I hadn't I would have bought lots more.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

knitting for Oz

I finally finished the little sweater for Oz. I bought this yarn in New Zealand 2 years ago when he was expected but expected to be a girl. Those ultrasounds are not always right! Fortunately this yarn is multi-colored and appropriate for a boy as well. I wanted to make a little cardigan with a hood which is what I did but I agonized about for a year because I didn't think I had enough yarn. All the patterns I looked at seemed to indicate that I did not have enough. This pattern, which starts at the neck and knits down, gave me the choice of ending with a crew neck or a hood. I figured I could get all the rest done and then make the decision whether to go for the hood. As you can see I just barely made it. I had only a few short pieces of yarn left over! I hope it fits him...

The sleeves are knit in the round which is nice because you don't need to sew up the seams. However I decided I'm not crazy about knitting with the double point needles in a small circle. I think I will try to avoid that in the future. I used vintage leather buttons to make it look a little more masculine.

Nursing modesty drape

My DIL is nursing Oliver so I wanted to make her a modesty drape that I have spotted others using. We just used to use whatever receiving blanket that was handy but this definitely is an improvement. The boning on the top edge keeps the drape away from the body so you can look down and see baby. The strap around the shoulders keeps it in place. I considered lining it with a soft flannel but my friend's DIL commented that she liked having the drape as thin as possible so it would fold up into the diaper bag easily. 

Since I decided not to line it I picked a fabric that looked good on both sides. In cotton prints that's not easy but this batik filled the bill. DIL wanted subdued fall colors thus my choice.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Quilt/wall hanging

When I got involved in making the Wyoming themed flannel rag quilt for Oz I noticed some lovely designs that would make nice wall hangings for the town house in Jackson. I don't really intend to become a quilter but once and a while it is a pleasant diversion. I had never done an applique type project, or at least I haven't for 30 years or so, so I didn't want to start with too huge a design. This one is only 28 x 38 so it didn't take forever. In fact I did all but the binding when we were visiting Jackson at the birth of our second grandson, Oliver. My very, very old Kenmore machine which I gave to my DIL stood up well to the task. It is awkward to thread but handled the monofiliment thread I used to do the quilting quite well. 

It is a little small for the wall I intended it to hang on so maybe I will get ambitious again and try a bigger design.

I purchased the design and followed the colors pretty closely so there is not much originality on my part. I changed the inner border to the brick color to compliment colors in the house.

The photo shows the quilt finished except for the binding. That is done now so all I have left to do is the sleeve on the back and a label.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Vogue 1061 Sandra Betzina jacket and pants

When we first saw this pattern, my friend Dorothy both agreed we had to make it. It looks like just the thing to wear instead of a warm up suit while being just as comfortable. And it is. She has just reviewed her incredible green version. In addition she made it in an almost sheer bamboo knit that is wonderful also. Since she covered everything beautifully in her review I will just add a few things.

The instructions are wonderful and Sandra really helps you out with lots of detailed advice. I did overlook the bit about the wedge in the front and cut the curve off both pieces right at the beginning. So watch out for that. There is a lot of sewing to this jacket. All the back seams are stitched, serged and then topstitched to form the ridge. I don't think there is anything really tricky about this garment, just takes a bit of time.

I think my fabric is rayon double knit jersey. At least that is what it feels like. I've had it a while so I'm not sure. Whatever it is it is incredibly soft and comfy feeling. Because it is a double knit it doesn't drape quite as much as Dorothy's. Be careful in choosing your fabric to pick one that is not too bulky. All those seams in the back add up to a lot of fabric at the back neck.

The pants are those included with the pattern. They are a great fitting one seam pant with a wide waist band. The band has negative ease and holds the pants up. I made no alterations to the pants except to shorten 2 inches. They are the same fabric, cut the same direction as the top so I don't get why the color looks so different in the photos.

Pants back
Pants front
Ruched sleeve
Very large hood
Jacket back
Another view of jacket back
Two pieces, front

I'm looking forward to using this as a travel outfit. In the photos I wore the top alone but I would be more likely to dress with a top underneath, as Dorothy did in her photos. Then I could layer on and off for plane flights or whatever.

Vogue DKNY 2951 skirt

Here is my review of the Thai Silk skirt:

Last year when I was shopping at Thai Silks I fell in love with this silk/rayon burnout chiffon. The celadon dots are velvet and the black is sheer chiffon. Nearby I spotted a duppioni in the beautiful celadon color so the idea sprung forth in my mind to combine the two. Since using the two fabrics together would make a more stiff hand, a more structured garment was called for. I searched through their one pattern book (they don't sell patterns but do keep a Vogue book on hand for such searching) and found this skirt that looked right and didn't call for a lot of fabric. I purchased the chiffon and duppioni as well as silk organza to underline the skirt.

I went home, entered the fabrics in my data base and forgot about it. Why, I was so excited about it at the time?? Anyway about 2 weeks ago my friend who lives near Thai Silks invited me over and told me about an open house event they were having at the store. 25% discount on all fabrics, goodie bags, refreshments were offered. We were encouraged to wear or bring something we made from one of their fabrics. So, you know what happened, I suddenly remembered this purchase and flew into action, sewing up the skirt. Read more about the event on my blog

I decided to cut all three fabrics at once. I have never done this before but I thought the other silks would help stabilize the chiffon much the same way that using paper underneath would. I layered all three and cut away. Then I carefully lifted each stack of fabric to the serger and overlocked all around the edges. This helped immensely in keeping the chiffon under control. Although this was fairly time consuming, the rest of the construction was speedy. This pattern goes together easily and if you are working with a linen, gabardine, faille or other sturdy fabric as they suggest, the skirt can be done in a few hours.

Pattern Description: Vogue describes the skirt as having a pleated front with invisible zipper back closure. 1" below waist and above knee length. The jacket is semi-fitted, lined with patch pockets, princess seams in back, topstitched design trim and buttoned front.

Pattern Sizing: 6-8-10-12 or 14-16-18-20. I made size 14 with no alterations.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes although I made the waist loose so it rides lower than 1" on me. It runs quite short and I like it a little lower on my knee.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Easy

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I like the pockets. At first I thought, why do I want pockets in a dressy skirt but I realized they are part of the design paralleling the pleat. Once done, I love putting my hands in them. I also like that the back is flat. I think if the tulip shape of the front were also in the back that it would not flatter me as well. Another view of the back.

Fabric Used: As mentioned above, silk chiffon burnout, silk duppioni and silk organza.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: None

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes I would sew this again perhaps in a tweed or menswear wool. Definitely recommend it. I see it is now OOP but still available on the website. I'm not crazy about the jacket but bought the pattern only for the skirt.

Conclusion: In the photos you can't really see that the fabric is chiffon. Even in real life it doesn't look much like it but the combination of fabrics make an elegant, unique look.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Thai Silks

I must report about the fun event I went to Wednesday. My friend Dorothy lives near Thai Silks and received a card from them about their open house last week. I haven't been to visit her for a while so we decided I should come then and we would go together to the open house. Thai Silks, which has the most incredible selection of silks, is in Los Altos, California, about 90 miles from me. I have been there several times but not for a year. The announcement for the open house event suggested that we wear or bring garments we have made from their fabric, and as an incentive 25% discount would apply to anything purchased plus goodie bags would be passed out (and refreshments).

I wore this Sewing Workshop Won Ton blouse pattern (http://sewing.patternreview.com/cgi-bin/readreview.pl?readreview=1&reviewnum=3439) which I made about 5 years ago. I also rushed to sew up the skirt that I had purchased fabric for last time I was there a year ago. It has three layers of silk; chiffon, duppioni, and organza. I'm pleased with how it turned out, it spite of my rushing. I will review it soon. Dorothy brought her beautiful duppioni Issey Miyake dress (http://sewing.patternreview.com/cgi-bin/readreview.pl?readreview=1&reviewnum=30947)

One lady wore a lovely outfit, very Escandar inspired, using a silk/linen fabric I had not seen before. That led to great excitement on my part and an expensive purchase, even at 25% off! I'm really looking forward to sewing that up. This lady and I were both wearing the same Marcy Tilton pant pattern (http://sewing.patternreview.com/cgi-bin/readreview.pl?readreview=1&reviewnum=22078).

When we finally left after about 2 hours there we were each handed a goodie bag. The contents were different in each one. Dorothy's had a piece of china silk, thread, seam ripper, measuring tapes, and a few other small things. Mine had a 3 yard piece of silk charmeuse, a silk scarf, seam ripper and thread. Quite a nice surprise.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Kwik Sew 3099 Halloween Costumes

I chose the dinosaur costume for Owen's second Halloween. He will be 18 months old then. Since last year's pea pod costume was green I decided not to use green for the main body but to go with purple for the dinosaur with green trim. I'm quite pleased with the color combo. This pattern sizing skips from 12 months to 2 years so I attempted to size it in between the sizes. It still looks quite big for Owen. And since baby Oliver arrived on Sept. 9th, I felt he needed a matching costume. The Kwik Sew pattern has 6 months as the smallest size so I got out Simplicity 3937 which is a similar shaped bunting and adapted the XS size which says it is for 7 to 13 pounds. It looks really huge for Ollie who is 7 lbs. 9 oz. right now. Maybe he will grow tremendously in one month. Perhaps the costumes should be stuffed with bulky clothing underneath to make a nice, fat dinosaur.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Vogue 8417

I'm calling this my Rain Dress as I made it from ripshot nylon originally purchased (15 years ago?) to make a rain coat. This pattern intrigued me with all the unusual tucks, diagonal seams, twisted back straps, and tucked up skirt hem. The pattern envelope suggests using taffeta, duppioni, , shantung, poplin and broadcloth. I figured my ripshot had a similar crispness to it, was already in my stash and would make the dress less "dressy". I have no where to wear a ball gown so my idea was to make it casual enough for occasional wear. I found a crazy lining to use in my fabric box on the way to being discarded, an invisible zip in my stash (miraculously the right color) and even the appropriate thread. It was meant to be. Or so I thought.

Alterations. Egad. This dress has a lining that is a fully constructed dress with entirely different lines.... princess seams. So alterations for full bust and extra at the waist needed to be done very differently for the outer dress and inner dress. I spent around 4 hours figuring that out. Not quite correctly as it turned out later. Next cutting out: although I had the 4 yards called for, it was only 54 wide, not 60. Maybe 3 hours spent fiddling with the layout to get all the pieces on. This required shortening 8 pieces and turning one around on end. I prayed that the sheen wouldn't be noticeably different.

Next day constructed the underdress. Then started the outer dress. I've never seen such odd shaped pattern pieces. That all went together okay until I got to a point where I could try each dress on. Except for the bust area all the rest was too big. How did this happen? I'm guessing that it just runs big through the waist. It needs to be very fitted to look good. So I embarked on lots more alterations taking in the princess seams above and below the bust, side seams, etc. Finally arriving at the point to put the two dresses together I find they don't fit together at all. This was caused by all my alterations not that the original pattern was wrong. The armscyces didn't work together at all. More fiddling around and I got that worked out. 

Now I can put on the dress and decide it looks bad. Some of the tucks puff out, a tuck in front pulls too much toward the middle because of taking in the side seam and so on. I called my friend Barbara for help since I couldn't really see what was happening, especially in the back. Together we fixed things by tacking down the tucks, taking in one diagonal seam, making a few extra tucks where the fabric wanted to fold anyway. I considered removing the underdress altogether since it was partly at fault in making it hard to fit and look right. If I were to do this pattern again I would eliminate the lining and bind the edges. Finally we were happy with the look and I took it home to finish up.

My friend Dorothy happened to ask if ever used fusible thread which I haven't done but do have some in my stash. Since she reminded me about its existence I got it out and used it for the hem. This was a great idea. It made that long, long curved hem a snap. I put the fusible thread in the lower looper of my serger, whipped around that hem edge, trimming off another 2 inches in length. Then pressed the overlocked edge up and topstitched. So fast and easy.

Now that it is done I must find a place to wear it!!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Oz's quilt

I'm back home and looking forward to sewing something or other in the next 2 weeks before I go to Jackson Hole again for the arrival of baby #2. Meanwhile, while in Wyoming I did some sewing on my ancient (42 years old) machine which resides there. My DIL had some projects I helped her with but more momentously for me (the non-quilter) I made a quilt. A small, cuddly quilt for Oz. I wanted to make one for him that had local animals (Moose, bear, elk, buffalo) and thought of doing a regular appliqued or embroidered version. But I also really wanted it to be a blankey he could carry around and snuggle with. The local quilt shop was extremely well stocked with every western, animal, cowboy, etc. print known to man as that seems to be what everyone wants there. I picked out 12 prints in flannel to make a rag quilt. They were very nice at the shop and allowed me to cut out my pieces there using their cutting mat, rotary cutter and straight edge. Thank heavens for that. I didn't have any of that equipment with me and it would have cost a bundle to add that to the purchase. Also their table was just the right height unlike the dining table at the town house. I enjoyed this project very much. I may go on to make a wall-hanging with the moose, bear, elk, etc. 
The photos show the quilt before and after washing which fluffs up the raw edges, and the back side which is flat. And, of course, Owen with his new cuddly quilt.

Monday, July 28, 2008


I'm leaving this morning for almost a month, driving to Jackson Hole to visit Oz and his parents. Then on to a reunion gathering in Oregon and family visits before returning home. So no sewing for me for a while. See you later.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Shapes Three Fold Vest and Two's Company Tunic

I love the new Shapes pattern line. The designs are simple but with pizazz. They each have something special to set them apart. The Three Fold Vest is just 2 long rectangles overlapped at an angle front and back. The cool part is the Vee shaped piece holding it together in the back. Instead of attempting a button hole in my loose sweater knit, I plan to hold the front together with a hair pick or chopstick.

The Two's Company Tunic is almost 4 yards of fabric in two complete  rectangle layers. The over layer is open down the front but the under layer is not, so the garment must go on over your head. The two rectangles are offset so the back of the under layer is longer and the front is shorter than the outer layer. The effect is as if you are wearing two garments. I changed the stripe direction on the under layer to highlight that affect.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Vogue 2555 Donna Karan top and skirt

Here is another outfit I made at the sewing retreat at Tahoe in June. I worked on this on the last day and I think I was about brain dead. It is a simple pattern which I have made once before. And yet it took me a very long time. Cutting out was slow because I had barely 2 yards and wanted to make both a top and a skirt from this fabric I bought at the Pattern Review weekend in LA last spring. It seemed to fitting to buy this then and now to sew it up from a Vogue pattern. Anyway I was brain dead or at least brain weary and every step was slow. I marked for the gathers where the top attaches to the peplum. They just wouldn't match up somehow so I just did whatever. It worked out okay but now that I have tried it on a few weeks later it seems a bit big.  A simple fix to take in the side seams at the underarm. I might like the top better with a black skirt or pant as it seems like too much "Vogue" with the skirt and top together.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sewing with Rachel

My DIL's parents gave her a sewing machine when she graduate
d from college quite a few years ago. It has never been taken out of the box, until this week. She has been so busy with graduate school and her career that she hasn't had time for anything extra, especially sewing. Now she has arranged for a day or two off each week so that she can "get a life" and one of the things she wants to do is learn to sew. She sewed with her grandmother when she was a young girl but really doesn't remember anything. So this week was the first time she had a day available and I eagerly drove the 90 miles to provide the necessary sewing information and enthusiasm.

We spent a few hours figuring out the ins and outs of her machine. Then, after a lovely lunch she made for us, we headed to Joann's which, unfortunately, is the sewing store near her. For a while it looked dismal for finding a suitable fabric but finally we found a delightful rayon appropriate for the skirt pattern she had chosen (Loes Hinse Swing skirt from my stash). I wish I could have stayed a few hours longer so that we could have finished the skirt. Maybe she will be able to add the elastic to the waist and hem the bottom on her own.

You can see that my son is dubious about this activity.

Vogue 2980 Marcy Tilton pants and Sewing Workshop Mimosa top

I have made the Marcy Tilton pants again, this time in a light weight linen. I'm much happier with the result. I made size small with no alterations. No removing 3 inches from each pant leg as before. My measurements are well into the Medium range so you can see that this runs large. By making a smaller size and not removing the excess in the legs kept the design lines intact. The fit is closer around the upper hip and waist and the legs bell and drape as they should. So if you are using a denim as suggested on the pattern envelope, be sure it is very light weight and drapey like this linen. I also made it in the shorter length which really works better with the shape of this pant.

The top is Sewing Workshop Mimosa top which I have made 3 times. Both the top and pants are linen from Joann's. Yes, that surprised me too, when I saw a selection of 100% linen at Joann's this spring.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Shapes Plus One Tunic

I am excited to try out the new patterns from Linda Lee and Louise Cutting. The simple but interesting shapes are right up my alley. Just the thing to use some beautiful stash fabric. First I used a lightweight linen. As I anticipated it made me look very wide with the horizontal collar and straight across hem at tunic length. I experimented a bit and discovered I liked the affect of the diagonal hem. I trimmed it that way and stitched it up. I left the flange at the side the full length. This is a quick, easy garment.

Then, thinking how it would look very different in a knit, I plunged into my stash once again and found a nice, drapey jersey. Both wovens and knits are suggested fabric choices in linen, cotton, and rayon/viscose. You can see how very different it looks in the knit. I chose to keep it long but belted to give me some shape. This time it was even easier and quicker as I liked the look with no edge finish. A couple of short seams and it was done.