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. 

Vogue Patterns

Checking out the latest Vogue patterns there are only a few I have to get. The Sandra Betzina hoodie attracts me for the back but I think I would have to change the front, probably making it shorter, to flatter me. Of course I have to get the Miyake coat. Love that. The 8513 dress interests me although it looks really low in the front. 

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Vogue 8486

This is great, simple dress with a current trendy look. Vogue describes it as slim fitting with or without sleeves, front stitched pleats, back neck opening and back slit. I decided it looked better on me with a sash which I had just enough fabric to make.

It is super easy to make. Mark the pleats carefully and there should be no problem. The top is faced which some sewers don't like in a knit but it works out well here and, with the interfacing on the facing, it supports the weight of the garment.

I cut the 12 and added some extra at the side seams to be sure it would go around me, instead of the usual FBA. I serged all the seams instead of the stupid double stitched seams suggested in the pattern. Why do they keep suggesting that?

Catching Up

I've got so much catching up to do here. I've been on such a sewing spree I haven't taken time to write about it. I did review the Sandra Betzina top 2980 on PR that I made using my very aged Versace deck chairs fabric. This is a lovely quality cotton knit. I'm very pleased with how the top turned out as I've been reluctant to use this fabric, both because it was costly but also because I questioned my sanity in buying fabric with large scale deck chairs as the print. I had cut out the pattern piece for the short sleeve but decided it was widening on me so I omitted it and just turned the sleeve opening under and topstitched. Perhaps soon I will wear this....

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Vogue 8251 top

Vogue calls this pattern EASY. Ha ha, I say. This is a tricky design. Perhaps view A and B are easy but view C, that I did, is NOT EASY. The back twist is inadequately described and at least one of the illustrations seems to be wrong. It didn't help that there is only one teeny, tiny drawing of the back. When my DIL saw this fabric that I was considering for a top she suggested I should make something really edgy since the fabric is sort of out there. So, after searching my pattern stash, this is the one I chose.

I cut a 14 at the sides and 12 at the neck and shoulders. I compared the flat pattern with another close fitting top I have made to check the sizing and decided to go with no alterations. The 14 is 2 inches less than my bust measurement. If I make it again I will cut size 10 at the shoulders and neck, which I usually do, because that should pull up the back more snugly. I took a major deep seam in the center back of the twist to make it all pull together.

Except for where they are almost inexplicable. I was sewing this at the recent sewing retreat with my friend Barbara, a very experienced seamstress, sewing beside me. It took both of us some time studying the instructions and drawings to figure out the front tucks and steps 31 through 40 regarding the back construction. I think step step 40 is just wrong.

I used a cotton jersey with only crosswise stretch. The pattern calls for 2 way stretch. This is important to be aware of because, if you follow the cutting layout, the pieces are laid sideways to the selvedge. This will be okay if you have 2 way stretch. If you don't and follow the layout you won't have any stretch around your body.

My fabric drove me crazy with its desire to roll to the right side. I kept trying to press it into submission but it would not cooperate. Finally, I gave up on that and decided to go for the deconstructed look, leaving the hem unfinished so it would roll like the other areas. I figure the back side color occurred on the right side of the fabric here and there so it looked deliberate.
I hope to sew this again in a more cooperative fabric that is the same on both sides. Now that I understand how to make this it should go more easily.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Vogue 8499 Marcy Tilton skirt

I was much happier with the sewing of the skirt from the same Marcy Tilton pattern with the baggy pants. This went together very smoothly and the result is wonderful. I've already worn this for two days feeling both comfortable and stylish. I found the great zippers in a quilt shop near State Line, Nevada, which was a few miles from the sewing retreat (and we all thought there were just gambling casinos there). That was the only break we took from our obsessive sewing... a quick run to the shop to get zips, buttons, and rotating caddies for our sewing tools. All the quilters had clever things to tote and organize their stuff but we garment sewers had our things strewn all about. So now I have two cute caddies in case I get to go again to such an event.

Meanwhile, the skirt. The pockets are very clever with the mitered bottom. As you can see in the pictures they are very huge so those watching my sewing started calling this my shoplifting skirt. Haha. Not useful pockets because you would really have to bend way over to get something from the pocket. But very cool looking. Read more about it in my Pattern Review at

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

8499 Marcy Tilton pant

The first garment I made at the Incredible Sewing Retreat was the super baggy pants from Marcy Tilton's latest Vogue pattern. Vogue describes these as pull up pants, above ankle length with side front pockets and topstitch trim. What they don't mention is that these are very, very, very loose fitting through the legs. I cut one size smaller than my measurements and took 3 inches out of each leg and they are still baggy. Of course they are supposed to be baggy but on me, at 5' 3", it looked ridiculous. I used a light weight denim with off white topstitching so they look similar to the pattern photo, except for the extreme height and thinness of their model. Plus they probably pinned fullness from the garment in the back. Still, I kinda like them and will probably make them again in a drapier linen.

These took way longer to construct than I thought they would because of the topstitching. Not only does that take a while anyway but I had bought heavy thread to use for it hoping to have it really stand out. That thread and my machine did not want to cooperate and I spent lots of time fiddling with them and different needles trying to make that work. In the end I used regular old thread which looks fine. Then toward the end I cut my elastic too long so the waist was so loose the pants wanted to fall down. Of course that was all serged in place but I persevered and redid that. So my sewing got off to a slow start at the retreat. I stayed up super late the first night determined to finish these so I wouldn't have to face them in the morning.