Thursday, December 31, 2009

Summing Up

I notice other bloggers having been reviewing and totally their production for the year. That struck me as a fun thing so I have done it too. I had thought before reviewing that I hadn't really made very much this year since I have been away from home so much. It amazed me to find I had made 59 things. A few are not much.... scarf, baby blanket.. but most are the usual project ranging from simple knit tops to jackets. I didn't do any really time consuming projects this year except for a quilt to hang in my grandson's room. No major lined jackets, fitted dresses, etc. I see a shortage of dresses and pants which I'm feeling in my wardrobe. Here's my breakdown:
Knit tops                   16
Woven tops                 8
Knit skirts                   4
Woven skirts                3
Knit pants                   1
Woven pants                2
Lounging gowns           2
Jackets, Coat, Cape     11
Knit dresses                 2
Costumes                     3
Baby                            3
Men's shirt                   1
Quilt                            1
Scarf                            1

Addendum: Silly me. I forgot the 3 most recent items as they haven't been photographed yet. I guess they are not real until they have a picture taken. 1 woven dress, 2 knit tops.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Simplicity 4434 Baby clothes

I wanted to make a gift for my expectant DIL using a fun fabric. I had made a great blanket for my other DIL using a flannel monkey print and minkie. They are still using that blanket after almost 3 years. I found this wonderful animal print at in Minkie and looked for a flannel to harmonize. I even ordered one with this one but the colors were horrible together. I had also ordered the polka dot Minkie in the same colorway to use for another project. So when these arrived and I had to discard my original plan with the flannel I looked to the dotted fabric to be the reverse. The fabric was thinner than I had expected but that worked to my advantage in this case because using the two together was not too heavy. By careful cutting I was able to make the blanket and have enought left to make this cute little cape. Miraculously I also found a could squeeze out the matching pants. These baby clothes don't take much yardage!

Pattern Sizing: I cut size 6 months. I don't know about how it will fit as the baby (known to be a girl this time) is not yet born.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Very easy. Nice instructions for making the tassels and pompons, something I hadn't done before.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? Cute style, maybe not the most useful for a baby but easy to put on.

Fabric Used: Animal print and dotted Minkie fleece.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: No changes to the cape and pants. The blanket was my own invention. I was going to make the shaped bunting on the pattern but the bias binding I had looked terrible with my fabric. So I changed plans mid stream and cut one square for the blanket smaller than the other, laid the smaller inside the other, mitered the corners and brought the edges over to look like binding.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes. Now that I see how easy it is to make baby pull on pants I will certainly not hesitate to make more. Really only about 20 minutes.

Conclusion: Cute little set. I'm eager for the my new GD to arrive to see it on her. Really, I'm just eager to have a granddaughter. I have 2 boys, my sister has 2 boys, my brother has 3 boys and 1 girl, my son has 2 boys. You see there is an extreme shortage of girls for me to dress.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Kwik Sew 2935 Aloha Shirt

Wow! It has been a long time since I blogged. As usual life has been hectic. A trip to St. Augustine and Savannah from Thanksgiving to the first weekend in December threw me off my usual Christmas prep. We had never been to that area and loved it of course. Lots of wonderful history, architecture, and even Christmas events to attend.

Once home I plunged into the frantic Christmas activity deciding wisely to not decorate as much as usual since, not only was time short, we aren't going to be home from the 22nd to the 28th. Just as I thought I was getting it under control my son called with a plea for a Christmas themed Hawaiian shirt. He needed this for a gig coming up soon where he is playing next to Santa at a shopping mall. The hiring agent really wanted him to wear a whimsical themed shirt. He always performs in Hawaiian or Caribbean style shirts as he plays the steel drum so he has a vast collection of such shirts. He has several that I thought would be good for such an event with red flowers and green background. But no, not good enough. So I ran off to Joann's where, although the Christmas fabric was picked over, thankfully it was 60% off. I managed to find one that didn't look too tacky and raced home with it.

Of course it took me longer than I expected but it was fun making this. The most amusing part was watching my son, via web cam, try to measure one of his shirts with a 12 inch ruler. Eventually he got the required measurements for me to proceed. I mailed the shirt to him and he got it in time for his gig tomorrow. He reported via email that I am the Christmas shirt genius. He said it fits perfectly and the agent will love it. I am a happy mom.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sewing Workshop Bells and Whistles Shirts

I made this back in late August or September but since then my life has been crazy so I forgot to review it. There are two cool shirts in the pattern. The Bells shirt which is the one I made is described as a semi-fitted shirt with a collar and collar band, curved front band closure, left shoulder coverlay and back darts. Below elbow, set in sleeves with a split band and cuff. Floating front band provides buttoning options. Curved shirttail hem. The Whistles shirt is loose fitting in two lengths with front and back placket wedges collar long sleeves and partially concealed button closures.

Pattern Sizing: The sizes range from XS (6) to XXL (22). I made the Small with no alterations although my measurements are on the high side of the Medium. So my garment is probably closer fitting than intended. I usually make the smaller size for a good fit through the shoulders and the larger size at the sides. But I could see that there was enough ease for a comfortable fit.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes.
Close up

Were the instructions easy to follow? The usual excellent Sewing Workshop instructions.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?I don't wear shirts often but when I do I like it to be unusual. This filled that requirement.

Fabric Used: A shibori looking fabric from FabriX in San Francisco. I'm guessing it is pseudo shibori and, although it feels like cotton, perhaps it is not because all the crinkles and shibori looking knot texture stays in after washing. Here's the really freaky thing.... I discovered when looking at other reviews here on PR that reviewer sfshaza made this same shirt using the exact same fabric at about the same time I did! She must shop at FabriX also. But to pick the same pattern for this fabric stunned me. Here's her review.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I tried switching around the grainline so the stripes would go different ways but it doesn't show up very much.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I definitely recommend this shirt. I'm looking forward to making the Whistles version.

Conclusion: I love it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Burda 7594 "Missoni" tunic

A quick and easy tunic which is fun for stripes. The bodice front will have the stripes run diagonally, the back vertical and the lower part around if you use the selvedge as the hem. Burda shows it using contrasting fabrics for the top and bottom sections although it is hard to see in the illustration.

Pattern Sizing: Sizes 36 through 50 in one envelope. I used size 44 which corresponds most closely to my measurements but took out at least 4 inches from the bottom section and overlapped the bodice top and extra 2 inches. So I guess you would say it runs large.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes. Here is the back, without the scarf, and the scarf as a sash.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Excellent instructions with some extras that you don't usually see. They include specifics for using sweater knits such as chain stitch to help stabilize the neckline and hand stitching or double needle stitching for hem finishes. I did the hand stitching on sleeves and neckline. This took a little more time but it still sews up quickly even with the hand stitching.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? Like the simplicity to show off a showy fabric and the ease of construction. Also I liked that it was very easy to alter.

Fabric Used: A Missoni-like open weave sweater knit made of Viscose and poly from EmmaOneSock. It has a double scalloped selvedge which I used for the lower hem on the top and the edge of the scarf. The tunic uses very little fabric but to have the stripes match and the scalloped edge you need two yards. This leaves about 15 inches of unused fabric along the other selvedge. Logically one must make a scarf from this long piece. I cut along the zigzags on the none selvedge edge to have the scallops on both sides of the scarf.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:Reduced size as mentioned above and cut the bottom section sideways to use the scalloped edge as a hem.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I definitely recommend this one and may do it again.

Conclusion: A trendy and easy to wear look. My fabric is a bit springlike so I may have to make another quickly in a more wintery fabric to wear now.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Hot Patterns 3 Graces Cross front top

I made the cross front version of this popular new Hot Patterns top. It is described as having a slightly cowled neckline and a cross-over wrapped front. I choose the extra-long sleeve that is designed to be scrunched.

Pattern Sizing: Sizes 6 thorugh 26 included in one envelope. I made a 10 as that cooresponded most closely with my hip and underbust measurements. My full bust is closer to size 14 but this design is quite generous through the bust so no FBA was needed.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Mine seems to be looser especially through the center front tummy area.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Uh.... no. The on-line video helps a lot but I don't think a pattern should be dependent on that source. Even with the video this top is confusing to get the criss cross right. I'm not sure that I don't have an extra twist in there.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? Love the drapey style. Don't like the excess of fabric in front

Fabric Used: Rayon jersey.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:None.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I probably won't make this style again but I plan to try the looped front version. If you like something a little different try it.

Conclusion: I like this okay although it seems a lot of fabric on my front. The back fits well. The rayon jersey is super comfortable to wear. Here is a view of the top in in action.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Devil Family

Life has been crazy for the last couple of months.... the trip to Israel/Jordan (fantastic), trips to Oregon to care for DFIL and finally for a memorial service (he was 91), a trip to Jackson Hole to see the kids/grandkids and last but not least, a trip to the ER for me after a nasty fall off a ladder. This caused a concussion, torn back muscles, and a bizarre cut at my mouth from the pruning shears. Stitches were required inside and out as the edge of my mouth was sliced open. Eek. This happened on DH's birthday. What a way to celebrate....7 hours in the emergency room.

Now after a month I am almost healed and finally back in the sewing room. The only thing I have sewn in 2 months because of all the craziness is halloween costumes. Here they are.... the devil family.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Off again

I have 3 garments ready to review but due to extreme busy-ness my photographer hasn't been available for the necessary shoots. I kept hoping a moment would open up but now we are leaving for a 3 week trip to Jordan and Israel (part of the cause of the busy-ness) so I won't be able to get to it for a while. Here's a teaser: Sewing Workshop Bells & Whistles.... I made the Bells shirt out of a cool shibori dyed cotton, Sandra Betzina V1101 sweetheart neckline dress from a colorful graphic cotton sateen (not sure I like this one on me) and Hot Patterns Classix Nouveau 3 Graces T Shirt ( the cross front one).

Last minute packing and we're off today.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


Just a note to answer questions:
Anna e le manine d'oro: You are is too hot here in California for boots, probably until November. I liked the look of the skirt with the boots so I donned them but only for a few minutes. To wear the skirt now I need sandles and sleeveless top!

Bobbie, my elbow is much better. The antibiotics attacked the staph infection and then, since I still had a very puffy elbow after 3 weeks, the doctor drained the fluid, injected cortisone and said from the looks of the fluid the infection was gone. Arm still feels a lttle weird but I think it is healing. Thank you for your concern.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Shapes Crazy Eight Top

I was hesitant about this pattern design for myself as I didn't think it would be flattering with the wide neckline and wide sleeves. My friend Dorothy made it so I had an opportunity try it on. I was right.... I didn't like it on me. However, worn backwards I loved it. So here it is, my Crazy Eight top worn backwards. I love having the diagonal drape across the front. This fabric is one that has languished in my stash for many years. I really had no clue what to do with it. I started to cut the top from another fabric (jersey with a one way design) but realized that the flowers would all be sideways as the pattern pieces are cut out across the grain. At the last moment I pulled out this fabric and threw it out on the cutting table. Funny how these things happen. I had spent hours trying to find the perfect fabric and in the end pounced on something with 30 seconds thought. However it goes down, I'm happy with how this turned out.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Ruffled fabric tube skirt

A few weeks ago I had a wonderful day with a Pattern Review friend shopping for fabric in San Francisco. I call her a PR friend because I met her at the May Portland PR weekend but we had followed each others reviews for years. It was so exciting to meet Harriet and get acquainted in the real world. She had a trip planned to SF which is about 90 miles away from where I live. So we got together. I showed her my favorite fabric haunts. One of these is FabriX which is a tiny shop with a chaos of discounted fabrics. You never know what will be there. This time I fell in love with several pieces before we even got all the way inside the store as they have barrels with good stuff spilling out the doorway. This is one of these..... a knit backing with knit ruffles already applied. I've never seen anything like this. It appears the ruffles are knit in, not added. I quickly decided to make a tube skirt, wrapped the fabric around my bum to see how much to buy, and made off with one yard at $9.99. I had thought it would be a ten minute project with one seam and elastic serged on for the waist. But as I fiddled around with the fabric I realized I would like the seam sewn to the outside to create a cascade of ruffles. This took a bit more fiddling to figure out how to do this. I started and stopped each part of the seam under a ruffle to keep it flapping free. At the waist, after applying the elastic I stitched down the top part of the ruffle to keep it flat. Fun don't you think.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Vogue 1114 Issey Miyake

I'm very excited about my latest project. I love the intrigue of Miyake patterns and went into this one thinking it would probably not really be a wearable garment as some of my Miyake's have been in the past. What a great pleasure to find it not only wearable but wonderful! I thought it might require leggings to look right but discovered it is great with regular pants.It took me a long time to come up with two fabrics that work together, partly because there is a lot of yardage involved. The black takes over 3 yards and the contrast 1 3/4 if the fabric is 45" wide. I searched my stash for awhile, then ordered some fabric from which I hated (thankfully they are wonderful with returns), went back to my stash and finally settled on black with the silk chiffon animal print for contrast. I laid out the pattern and discovered my original black was short on yardage. Dipped back into the stash to find another black. This wool dobby (left from some projects years ago) had enough yardage but was quite different than the original plan. But how pleased I am with the result. I think it is even better. All this to point out that I'm sure I spent a lot more time looking for fabrics than construction which was probably around 5 hours.

There is one main pattern piece, cut twice and joined at center back. No side seams. Most of the construction is easy but there are a coupled of places that have the usual Miyake puzzling affect where you scratch your head and study the drawings a lot. But the instructions are all correct and if you follow along carefully (having marked all the dots precisely) it goes together beautifully. Sleeve facings and the contrast piece are the only other pattern pieces to deal with.

I think I like it best with one side buttoned up and the other side buttoned crossed over. I'm unlikely to ever wear it with both sides buttoned across the front but took a photo to show you that look. Also, although I like the unbuttoned look from the back, I'm not crazy about it from the front so I probably won't wear it that way either. I like it both with the sleeveless tank and the longer sleeve.

Friday, August 14, 2009

What I've been doing

Home once again from a fantastic reunion/visit with family in Jackson Hole. Everybody had fun and we survived lots of babysitting time including overnight with the 3 am bottle and 5:30 am wakeup. I had one afternoon with time to myself so I traced several Burda WOF styles for future sewing. I chose simple ones with just 3 or 4 pattern pieces as my time was limited and the set up awkward. Hopefully sewing will start soon.

I'm recovering slowly from a bizarre medical situation that has me functioning more slowly than usual. I woke up 3 am in the motel on the way home Monday with an increasingly painful elbow. After a few hours I got up and looked in the mirror to find a very swollen elbow and arm. A little black mark made me think I had been stung or bitten. Asked the Motel manager if they had scorpions. Fast forward.... fever, chills, red and hot arm. Finally Wednesday I went to the doctor who didn't buy into the sting/bite theory but called it a staph infection. Asked if I had banged my elbow recently. I couldn't remember doing so but what with hiking, rafting, and playing with babies maybe I did. Apparently the bursa at the elbow is a very vulnerable place so that if it gets hurt and then has a open cut, the staph bacteria, which is around us all the time, can invade. I did have roughness on my elbow as though scraped so that must have led to this. Hopefully the antibiotics will work for me although I read that the staph bacteria is very resistant. I'm saying all this so you will attend to any scrapes with disinfectant!!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Pattern Reviews

I finally got all my reviews written. Boy, when you do a lot of sewing, the reviews pile up. I'm leaving, as soon as I pack, for a 3 week trip to visit the babies in Jackson Hole. So, sorry, I don't have time to add anything to my reviews. I hope you enjoy reading them. They are linked to the right. No sewing for me for a while unless my DIL has dreamed up some projects for me to do while visiting. She usually does....

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Writing reviews

I've been procrastinating writing my reviews for PR because it has just been too darn hot to put the garments on. Finally I got organized with the makeup on and DH ready early enough in the morning to do a photo shoot. We took photos of 7 projects all at once! As it got warmer I moved upstairs where there is AC so some of the photos are in the hallway which is the coolest part of the house.

Now to write all the reviews....

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Tahoe Sewing Retreat

Home from the sewing frenzy and exhausted. But happy. Barbara and I were sewing demons once again this year at the 5 day retreat our sewing club holds at Lake Tahoe. Such a beautiful setting with fantastic weather and we huddled over our machines the entire time, from 7:30 am to 12:30 at night. 20 minutes for each meal, a little bit of conversation with others but absolutely possessed by the sewing mojo. Between us we created 25 garments. This year we were quite organized ahead of time by planning our projects and cutting them out before going. We found it often congested at the cutting table and hard to concentrate on the important cutting/altering step in the retreat environment. So having our projects prepared before hand really helped.

I found myself really stupid at times and needed Barbara's help figuring out pattern instructions occasionally. What's with that? I think I'm losing it. One project in particular, an Issey Miyake top and skirt that I have made before, was impossible for me to do without her help. Another time she had to help me rip out about 1/2 inch of stitches, black on black, that I couldn't see at all. I spent 45 minutes with no progress and was ready to quit. She worked at it for another 45 minutes while I held a magnifying glass over it and finally got those blasted few stitches out. Thank heavens she was there.

We're already looking forward to next year. I will gradually post about each project. I'm really happy with all of them which is quite surprising to me as about half I considered experiments or possible disasters for a variety of reasons.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Vogue 1113 Mizono Jacket

For years I've seen Mizono garments in a few boutiques I've windowed shopped in and now here one has appeared at Vogue. I'm thrilled. This is an unlined jacket, loose fitting with asymmetrical hemline, Kimono sleeves with uneven hemline, lapped fronts and neckline slits. There are also pull on pants included in the pattern but I only made the jacket so far.

I cut size 8 (although my measurements call for 16+) and I took in the underarm seam another 1/2 inch. So, it has a lot of ease. Compared to the pattern illustraton mine looks longer on me as I am 5'3" and didn't shorten it at all. You can see that it is quite short in the back.

I loved the unique shaping, easy construction, the neckline, the interesting sleeves, everything.
I used a wool tweed-like fabric that actually has little white colored squares on the surface of the black. A wonderful unique textile I bought recently from the Textile Studios final sale. Boo hoo, sad to see that resource go.

I made no alterations, not even the sleeve length. I worried about the sleeve length as I usually need to shorten sleeves about 2 inches. There is no place indicated to shorten the sleeves although you could do it half way up the sleeve and true the seam. But, after a quick tissue fitting, I decided that the shorter part of the sleeve would hit on the top of my arm and would be short enough. I did move the location of the button slightly to hit me at a more flattering spot.

I probably don't need another soon but I do highly recommend to those of you who, like me, enjoy the unusual. I may make it again someday in a summer weight, linen perhaps.

As you can see I'm very pleased with this new garment.