Monday, April 14, 2008

Sewing Workshop Village Bag

This was so much fun to make. I haven't made many bags in my sewing years so some of the process was new to me. I bought this bizarre fabric on the Pattern Review LA weekend. The shop owner told me it was real leather (have you ever seen leather with a selvage?), gave me a bargain instead of $60 it would be only $30. I had this type of bag in mind though I didn't have a specific pattern for it. I guessed at needing 1 1/2 yards and paid for that... $45 plus tax. When I laid it out to cut I found he had shorted me and I only had 1 1/8 yard. Maybe he didn't intend to (???) and that happened because of the stretchy quality of the fabric. It is all puckered up in a design by stitching with elastic thread on the back side of the "leather". Anyway I had just barely enough to cut out the big main piece of the bag.

I wanted a fun lining for the bag so I chose a bright red brocade with an Asian design including panda bears. In studying the pattern ahead of time I did not realize that the lining would show. I thought there was a facing at the top but that pattern piece was the lining. When I got to the point of sewing it all together I discovered that the red would show. At first dismayed, I thought I would need to cover this somehow. But I quickly came to like the hint of red at the top. It makes the bag more playful.

Sewing Workshop suggests upholstery weight ultra-suede for the straps. I found some at a reasonable rate on-line and ordered it in dark brown. The color looks alright in person but photographs looking lighter. If I did it over I would use black as the brown faux leather reads as more black than brown. Or I would cover straps with the flat selvage area of the fabric. I would redo the straps but that was the hardest part of the project. My poor machine really did not want to sew through 4 layers of faux leather, 4 layers of lining, 2 layers of interfacing, and 4 layers of ultra-suede. I made it do it but I had to hand turn the wheel. This would have been a good time to have an old, sturdy mechanical machine on hand.

The heavy duty magnet closure I ordered with the pattern from Sewing Workshop. It was so strong I needed my DH's help getting the 2 pieces apart. When sewing it was an amusing struggle as the magnet attached itself to the feed plate and wouldn't allow sewing to continue. Also trimming the threads with scissors was an interesting problem as the magnet grabbed the scissors. But, now that it is sewn in as instructed, the magnet is not strong enough to hold the bag together.

The bag is very big as you can see but hangs in a nice, comfortable slouch. It has handy interior pockets, 2 zippered and a third with pleated space for the cell phone.

I think this will be really fun to carry especially on outings where I need to carry a wrap, extra shoes and a water bottle, a guide book, and my knitting.

Friday, April 11, 2008

McCall's 3404 Kimono top and SW Plaza pant

I found this wonderful 4 ply silk with Kodiak designs at the recent PR LA weekend. I was very pleased to discover that the 4 ply black silk that I've had for years in my stash coordinated with the new silk. So what to make? I definitely wanted an Asian influence in the top and I had planned to make Sewing Workshops Plaza pants ever since I heard Linda Lee rave about how much she loved wearing her 4 ply black silk Plaza pants. Here are my reviews:

Project Photo:photo
Pattern Photo:

Pattern Info provided by Ann Smith

Pattern :Easy & Great for Beginners
Pattern Description: This is designed as a loose fitting wrap top with dropped shoulders, tie ends and sleeve variations. You can choose standard or traditional kimono type sleeves.

Pattern Sizing: Two combinations: Y which includes Xsmall through Medium or Z which includes Large and XLarge.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes although I would not use the description "loose fitting" as they did. It looks fitted in the drawings and is fitted on me.

Were the instructions easy to follow? The instructions are basic and fine

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I wanted an Asian looking top that did not pullover my head. This was one of the few in my stash that fit that description. I chose the traditional kimono sleeve to emphasize the Asian look. I think the ties are a bit too short and would lengthen them if I made it again.

Fabric Used: A 4 ply silk with Zodiak designs. 4 ply is a wonderful fabric to use as it usually handles well and drapes beautifully. I had some trouble as I started with silk thread because I was out of my regular black thread. My machine really did not like it and puckered all the seams and darts. I changed needles with no improvement. Eventually I got a hold of some regular cotton wrapped poly thread and redid all the stitching. No problem with that. I don't know if my machine needs an adjustment or what the cause of this problem. Silk thread should have been fine.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: I shortened the length by 1 1/2 inches. Also I changed the tie to go around the back underneath the garment. To do this you leave the seam opening on the left instead off the right. I like the garment to fall loosely down the back.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I made this once before but it was quite altered as I lined it to be a jacket. I like it better this way as a blouse. I definitely recommend this to you.

Conclusion: A simple but effective top with that Asian influence I like.

Project Photo:photo
Pattern Photo:

Pattern Info provided by Ann Smith

Pattern Rating:Highly Recommend

Current Tags What is a Tag:
Pattern Description: This is Sewing Workshop's wonderful Plaza Jacket & Pant pattern. I have made the jacket several times and the pants once before. It is a very loose-fitting unlined jacket with dropped shoulders, one piece sleeves. The pants are semi-fitted with straight legs and a flat front waistband with back elastic. The pants have a tucked front seam detail. No side seams on the pants.

Pattern Sizing: Sizes XS through XXL in one envelope. I made the medium with no alterations except for length.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes indeed. Here's the back.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Excellent instructions. Sewing Workshop does a great job with their instructions including interior finishing.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? These are basically a one seam pant that has the added tuck down the front. This is created with a seam but you could eliminate that and have a regular one seam pant. I love the slimming effect of the tuck.

Fabric Used: 4 ply silk. Years ago I heard Linda Lee of Sewing Workshop rave about her 4 ply silk pants from this pattern. She wore them several times a week. So I have intended to make a pair myself. I finally got to it when I realized the black 4 ply silk that I had in my stash coordinated with my new Zodiak silk from the recent LA PR weekend adventure.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: None

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I will sew this again for sure. Highly recommend.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Sewing Workshop Salsa Blouse

I originally reviewed this 4 years ago and highly recommended it. Somehow I wrecked that blouse in the wash and I've been wanting to make another one ever since. My new version was made to go under the Anne Klein ultra-suede jacket. I wanted a soft, draped front to fill in the lack of closures. This fabric, from my stash, is a rayon crinkle with a border print. That is why one side of the front looks empty of the print. I arranged the print to be featured on the wrap over part and the back. The fabric was a nightmare to work with. Very wiggly and unstable. It also was flawed in the printing and had white streak areas I struggled to avoid..

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Pattern Review Weekend in LA $1 fabric

I was excited to get to my new fabrics from the PR weekend. Not that I'm short on fabrics but the newest stuff always gets my attention. First I attacked the $1/yard fabric from the FIDM Scholarship store. These were my first purchases.  I wish we had been able to go back there because the fabrics were interesting and quality for no money.

The red/khaki/cream circle fabric is a 4 way stretch probably poly with lycra. I had only 2 yards but it was 62 inches wide so I was able to squeeze out the Sandra Betzina skirt Vogue 2933 with one side panel and a crossover top from Simplicity 4095. I had to cut the sleeves sideways to fit them on my small yardage and I couldn't do any print placement. As a result the circles are not attractively placed on my bosum. Too bad cause otherwise I really like this top. I like the skirt too but not together so much.

The red fabric became New Look 6929, a longer faux wrap with crisscross bands and a wrap around sash. I think if I make this again I will go shorter as this longer tunic length isn't the best for me.