Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Snowy Mountains Quilt

While on my recent visit to Jackson Hole I finished up the quilt I have been working on there. As it is such a gorgeous area with beautiful mountains, trees, and wildlife I wanted to make a wall hanging that represented that beauty. When I found this design I knew it was just what I wanted. An interesting project to create but not hard or terribly time consuming. At about 52 inches wide it is large enough to make a statement and will go up on the wall in the stairwell.  I enjoyed picking out the fabrics most of which I had to buy as I don't have much of a stash of quilting cottons. But I was delighted to use a remnant from our first grandchild's nursery decor which became the blue sky with stars in this wall hanging. By the time I finished it and found a hanging rod we didn't have time to get it up on the wall. Next visit, top priority.

Thursday, May 31, 2012


What a fun thing happened yesterday. My friend Barbara and I went to SF to see the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit at the De Young Museum. Just as we were starting to go in the exhibit Barbara spotted a familiar face across the lobby space. "Isn't that lady over there with the big glasses the one who posts on Pattern Review"? I glanced over to the bench that she was looking at to see Margy, Jillian, and Shams all sitting there in a row. At about that moment they spotted us and great exclamations of amazement and glee ensued. I'm sure the other people in the vicinity were quite startled by our loudness. We had a great chat there in the lobby. They had already seen the exhibit and described to us how incredible it was. Eventually we went on in to see it. Jillian has put up some great photos on her blog showing highlights of the show and our meet up. Later on Barbara and I met Jillian again at the other art museum in SF to see the "Cult of Beauty" show which is focused on the Aesthetic movement. Two great exhibits, an unexpected meet up of fellow sewists, and a brief stop at Fabrix. A perfect day.

Often I forget to post here about my reviews on PatternReview. Here are the links to my most recent reviews: McCalls 6556 dress and Vogue 1274 Mizono shirt. Sorry I don't have time now to write more about them as I am supposed to be packing. We leave in the morning for a trip to Jackson Hole once again. Jilly suggested I write on my blog first and PR afterward. What a good idea. Maybe that way I won't forget to share here.

As soon as I get back from Jackson I will be in a frenzy to get ready for my club's annual sewing retreat at Lake Tahoe. I have already cut 6 or 7 projects but I really need 12 or more. Last year I sewed up 15 garments. I become a sewing maniac there doing nothing but sewing, pausing briefly to wolf down meals. The first year we went Barbara and I took our hiking shoes. LOL. Never put them on.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Vogue 1309 Miyake Tunic

Where do I start with this?? Many of us loved this striking design and ordered it immediately when it appeared. I do love Miyake and always buy those patterns whether I like them or not. This one looks so great. Let me tell you this is the most befuddling Miyake I have made and I have made many. You don't need to spend much time sewing but lots of time puzzling. And perhaps ripping because you did something wrong or, in my case, think you did something wrong. Rip out and sew back the same way. I fear I may get confused just putting this on and off. It is very easy to get all twisted around.

There are 4 pattern pieces, all rectangles. The very big main piece is a long rectangle that you slash down the middle for much of its length. The slashed edges become the outer edges at the shoulders. This slashed edge is to be bound with bias binding that you make (that is the 4th pattern piece). I don't get why you carefully bind that edge but none of the others. At places the bound edge and unbound edge are sewn together. No mention of finishing the unbound edges. And the bound edges don't really show on the outside.

Careful marking is essential. Be sure to use something that won't fall off or disappear. You really need all those marks, circles, dots and especially the letters. I didn't even see the letters at first as they are very small on the pattern. Also, mark left and right shoulder on the outside. I contemplated leaving the marks on permanently so I would remember which way to put it on!

I couldn't figure out just how to alter to add at the bust so I did a muslin (very rare for me) using the largest size in my envelope which is a 14. I really need 16 or 18 for the bust but never buy that because it is way too big in the upper chest and neck. Maybe it doesn't matter here because those areas are folded under. I discovered that the sizing is entirely controlled by the width of the large rectangle and the width of the smaller underarm rectangles. You can make this wider at necessary but then it may be too big at the hip. Or you could change the shape of the underarm part to accommodate where you need it which is what I did. 

This looks so great in the photos. My knit version looks quite different of course because it drapes like a knit. Done in the suggested fabrics, dupioni, paper taffeta or broadcloth, it will look more like the photo. Be warned though, that it may be uncomfortable and unflattering if the fabric poufs out a lot (as on my muslin).

Here are photos of my muslin. You can see the design lines better here than on the knit. The pink ribbon was just added to extend for fit. Side front, Back, Right side Front

My underarm pieces sagged a lot. I think they stretched while sewing across the top. In a woven this might not happen. I almost left it as a design element but then I realized I could just tuck out the excess since a few more folds would not matter in this design. 

Also be aware that not only is this pretty low cut in center front, butunder the arms it is low and very wide. Your bra may show in theback, front and sides. Note I am wearing a camisole..... essential. Also note that part at the hip in the photo that juts out. That really does jut out. It isn't just the way the model is standing.

You can see that it is really long. I shortened mine 2 inches for my height and may take off another one or two.

The instructions are okay but this is a hard one to explain. One important point is left off and that involves how to keep it from getting twisted and turned half inside out or other weird ways. It helped to drape it on the dress form at times.

I made my muslin and attempted to wear it. I did get it on but it felt like a straight jacket. I didn't notice until my second attempt to sew this that the seam allowances are 1/4". This is not mentioned in the instructions as it should be. It is only in small print in a few places on the pattern pieces.

For trial I used a homespun cotton. After that trial I realized it would be too uncomfortable for me to wear even if it were looser. Also I didn't like the idea of trying to zip a separating zipper on my back. Painful contortions. So I chose to use a rayon jersey. It is very comfortable and no zipper needed. Of course that applied zipper is a very current look and does look cool. 

As mentioned I left off the zipper, I changed to a knit, I widened the underarm pieces. I serged the edges that are meant to be bound. It helps to finish that edge and not the others because it helps you keep straight what you are doing. However, that leads to the aforementioned issue of some edges being finished and others not. I didn't hem this knit.

At first I wrote on Pattern Review that I'm not that happy with this and listed it as Do Not Recommend. However in the knit I find it comfortable and interesting and changed my mind to Recommend with Modifications. I may even make it again now that I really have figured it out. 

Maybe this will work for you. Perhaps if you don't need the FBA or added on for hips it will be right. You know, a more rectangular figure. 

All this said, it is a very interesting design based, as many Miyakes are, on basic geometric shapes. If you like a puzzle this is a fascinating one. See the open drape across the back.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Cut-Up Couture by Koko Yamese

Sculptural Dress with Deep Collar


Balloon Top
Blouse with Buttoned Shoulders
Draped Blouse
I ordered the book, Cut-Up Couture by Koko Yamase, from Amazon without having seen it in person at all. I just loved the concept and the photos of projects on the cover. When it arrived I jumped on it right away and started plotting. Most garments are made with Large or XLarge sweatshirts or tee shirts. I thought my DH had some but he couldn't or wouldn't come up with any to spare. I sleuthed around and found a web-site, Cheapestees.com, that sells such things cheap. I ordered a bunch which arrived quickly. 

You use one, two or three sweatshirts, cut them according to the easy to understand instructions and illustrations, sew for a few minutes, and, voila.... you have something else. Talk about re-purposing! These are fun, fun, to make. The Draped Blouse (using one men's XL sweatshirt) took me 20 minutes to make, including the cutting. The Tunic, using 2 red short sleeve T-shirts and velvet ribbon took a little bit longer. The Balloon Top uses one men's Large sweatshirt and satin ribbon. It was a bit more confusing to construct but still quick. 

My favorite is the Sculptural Dress with Deep Collar made from one Large and one XL men's sweatshirt. My DH thinks I look like an elf in this.

I also made the Blouse with Buttoned Shoulders which uses 3 long sleeve Men's Large sweatshirts. This took the longest to construct because of the 10 buttonholes. Now I have to figure out what to do with the top half of 3 large sweatshirts. It can be worn 4 or 5 different ways including a skirt and harem pants (not to be photographed on me) depending how you button it.

I also tried the Inside-Out Blouse from T-Shirt. It was thrown away within 15 minutes. Ugly on me. Maybe good on you.

For fun, easy, youthful projects try this book. There are also designs using men's dress shirts and neckties. Cute also.

Monday, April 16, 2012

KwikSew 3921 Toddler's Dress

An adorable toddler's dress pattern from Kwik Sew. However, it is not a kwik sew! What with bias binding, set in sleeves, back zipper, gathering, loops and buttons, and 4 different fabrics, it takes a while to create. I think well worth it though.

Kwik Sew describes it as "dresses with lapped front bodice, waist inset, gathered skirt with contrast panels, center back zipper, and neckline and bottom edge are finished with bias cut bondings. View A has decorative loops and buttons, and full length sleeves with contrast cuffs. View B has short sleeves finished with bias cut bindings and decorative ribbon trim at waist". I made View A but in retrospect I think I should have left off the buttons and loops on a garment for a two year old. They are decorative, not functional, but she has not ever had a button on a garment and is way too interested in them. I hope she doesn't pull one off and swallow it. Yikes! Bad grandma.

I made this for her second birthday. She is tall for her age and her measurements were bigger than called for size 2. So I made size 3. As you can see, right now it is way too big for her. I guess better too big than too small.

The instructions are good
 for the most part. I would not recommend sewing a tiny tube and trying to turn it for the loops. I started with that approach and it was just about impossible to turn. I cut a new strip and folded it in and top-stitched it. Much, much faster and easier. 

I used quilting cottons all from my stash and I used an invisible zip because that is what I had on hand.

I hope to make this again, next time in brighter colors. She wore it out to a cafe on her birthday and received many compliments as she pranced around, dancing and lying on the floor.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Vogue 1618 Issey Miyake

I finally made this Issey Miyake pattern from 1985. Sometimes it takes me a while to get around to a project! I've been thinking about this one lately because it seems to be on trend now. Miyake designs were never about trends but classic in their on unique way. Even so, for some years this style seemed too loose and too drapey. Now I feel comfortable with that silhouette once again so I brought out the pattern, found fabric in my stash and plunged in. As often the case, it was hard to find a second fabric to work with the first. Once I settled on black it wasn't hard to find that in my stash too.

Here's the envelope description: "Very loose fitting, pullover top with right front drape extending to side with strap, back diagonal seams, concealed cap sleeve on the right side, and wrist length sleeves. View A has a slouchy collar. Straight skirt above ankle, or straight legged pants with elastic waist and mock hem bands. The skirt has a shaped hemline and the wrong side shows". Although it is described as ankle length, you can see that the short side is knee length. The skirt is one piece wrapped around at an angle.

As this is an older pattern, there is only one size per envelope. My pattern is size 14. I folded out 2 inches of width on the top as I usually cut a 10 at the shoulders. It is still very over-sized. The skirt fit as a normal size 14 would.

Miyake is so original, there are usually spots that are counterintuitive and instructions are tricky. Fortunately the only spot that was like this on this design had a very good sketch. Sometimes words are not sufficient.

I love the draped front and odd strap across. Maybe I would have liked to make the top a wee bit narrower. Love the angled skirt. There is no way to make the short part of the skirt longer without the long part also being longer. I shortened the skirt so it wouldn't hit the floor but that brought up the short part to above the knee.

I used a wool gauze stripe and black ribbed cotton knit. On the top the gauze is attached to the black knit although it looks to be a separate draped garment. This is definitely a fun and funky Miyake ensemble that I will enjoy wearing.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Vogue 1277 Koos Swing Jacket

I made the very wonderful Koos Van Den Akker swing jacket released in the fall of 2011. Big, curving pieces of varied fabrics stitched together to create a work of art. Can you tell I am happy with my jacket? As this is very loose fitting you can use a smaller size. My bust measurements put me in a Large but my shoulders are only a Small so I used that size. I could probably have cut the XS also

The sewing is mostly not difficult. The welt pockets and flat felled seams are the tricky parts. You can choose to leave those parts off and then the jacket is average difficulty. The hardest part of this project is picking your fabrics and cutting them out. There are very awkward and large pieces that use a lot of fabric and leave a lot of waste.

I used light weight wools, faux suede and silk dupioni, all miraculously from my stash. Some of these wools have been waiting to emerge from the cupboard for 25 years. Even the red dupioni was in my stash. I had enough of that to make a blouse, and enough of the faux suede to make a skirt. 

I didn't alter except to shorten the sleeves (my usual need). I even left the collar at its full size as I wanted to be able to fold it to show the red silk. To shorten the sleeves find the straight grain line on the pattern piece and fold out what you need (or lengthen) perpendicular to that grain line. True up the edges.

The main thing I changed was the construction method. Using the lining piece as a base I laid the pieces on top of it, wrong sides together, overlapping to match seam lines, pinned them in place and applied the bias trim over the stitching line and topstitched. The pattern would have you stay stitch each long edge, sew each of these long curved seams with right sides together, trim, turn, press . Lots of work and probably resulting in stretched out seams. Before doing it my way, stitch the bottom edge right side together and turn so that the bottom edge hem is finished. Then apply the pieces one at a time.

The best thing I did to make this go well was to use double sided fusible tape on the back of my silk bias strips. Once fused in place it was very easy to topstitch the strips down without wavering about.

Doing the flat felling was very fussy and took some time. It is especially awkward to do it on the sleeve seam as it gets quite narrow near the wrist. The only reason to do this is to make it reversible. Well, and to look nice inside. I will probably never wear this reversed.

I left off the pockets. I had cut out the pieces thinking I would do them but at the end I decided I like the flow of the design as it was without the pockets breaking up the design lines.

I did the quilting topstitching on the sleeves but decided against it when I got to the body of the jacket. I didn't think my particular fabrics needed any further embellishment. Since I had top-stitched the bias tape through all layers there was quite a bit of stitching on the inside already.

Another thing I did to enhance the look was to add lightweight wire to the outer edge of the front and collar. I thought of this after the jacket was done and I thought the collar looked a little floppy. It wouldn't stand up the way I wanted it to. I had on hand some Design Plus Shape 'n Stay lightweight wire. Perfect. I was able to squeeze it between two stitches into the channel formed by two rows of topstitching without even opening a seam. Now I can shape the collar and front edge as I want them to be. Sort of like wired-edge ribbon.

I'm thrilled with my combination of fabrics. In the 
past I've often not been very successful with combining different fabrics so this feels really good. I love the dramatic style and potential for artistic expression.

To go with the jacket I made Neue Mode 23304 with the silk dupioni and Kwik Sew 3295 with the black faux suede. The reviews of these are linked in the right column.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Vogue 8776

Not the best outfit with this: long sleeves and pants would be better

Open (I like it better closed)

Vogue describes this as a semi-fitted, unlined cape with convertible collar, lower side front seams with pockets and stitched hems. I guess it is a cape. I think of a cape as not having any arm openings and this has them. They providelimited mobility though so maybe we should just go with "cape".  I used size M which is one size smaller than my measurements as usual in an unfitted garment. I made View C, the longest one.

The designation "very easy" is wrong IMO. The slit buttonholes and slit armholes are a bit confusing I think. 

I love the unusual style and shape but I'm not so sure I like the low wearability factor. 

I used a raspberry red boucle that has been in my stash for many years, maybe 25. All this time I thought it was a woven wool. Once I got it down from the shelf I discovered that it is a knit, with a backing similar to fleece. Probably not all wool either as the moths had showed no interest in all that time. I'm quite happy to have this bulky fabric off my shelf. Now if I just had more closet space!

This fabric made the project much harder than it would be with a lighter or thinner fabric. Because of its bulk the buttonhole slits and a few other places were hard to maneuver and required careful hand stitching to make it look right. Because it is a knit, stretch was a factor in sewing seams. I didn't think about it ahead of time as I should have so some seams stretched as I sewed them. The bottom armhole openings grew as they are not reinforced at all. The top armhole openings are doubled with the self facing so they stayed more in shape. Fortunately I used a lining fabric for the pocket lining which helped to stabilize the pocket edge. I left off the extra buttons as the fabric was a nightmare and I knew buttonholes would look terrible.
Have you been watching Project Runway Allstars? Mila made a cape somewhat similar to this pattern. The silhouette is the same but the arm openings are vertical and there is no collar. Very sharp looking.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Sewing Workshop Tosca Dress

This is my third version of the Tosca Dress. Yes, you could say I like this pattern. Yes, the underarms are low but, no matter, I wear a tee shirt with the dress. Think of it as a jumper. This time I left off all pockets as well as the tucks and hem bubbling. Don't need that with this incredible fabric. First version. I don't think I reviewed the second version which I made from linen last summer. 

The fabric is a wool gauze, almost sheer, with an interesting folded and reverse appliqued border on one edge. I did not do this wonderful-ness myself but bought it looking like this from FabriX in San Francisco. The hardest part of this project was figuring out how to use the fabric. Fortunately, when this fabric was spotted, I was shopping with my friend Dorothy. We both were stunned and amazed by this fabric and wanted it. We discussed possible ways to use it. I think she was the one who thought of the Tosca Dress. We had both made this dress already and recognized its potential. She made her version with this fabric some months back. In fact she found a perfect china silk at Thai Silks to use as an underlining so I used that too. 

So not only do we have matching dresses, but we used the same fabric for our tee shirts. Joann's had cotton interlock in the right color to harmonize. We could dress as identical twins. People already ask if we are sisters when we shop together. Why not dress alike? Well, okay, maybe we won't do that.

Close up of the border.
Close up of the collar.
Side back

Anyway, I heartily recommend this pattern to you.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Fashion in Harmony: Chinese Lantern Skirt

I posted a review for the Chinese Lantern circle skirt on PR and I see that my widget linking from here to there has gone awry. Try as I might, I cannot get it to return with my review photos and the links. 

With the Thinker
With the column

Mystical View

This skirt is so totally easy to make. 
Back view

You cut 2 circles, cut an opening in the center for the waist on one circle and the legs on the other circle. Offset the circles at right angles, stitch together at the circumference, add elastic or drawstring for the waist and you are done. Looks much more complicated than it is.

In this version I used a wool jersey which is, of course, a knit. Because of the stretch-ability of a knit it is easy to walk in this skirt. If you are using a woven as I did in my other version, it may be necessary to make the leg opening larger than the waist opening. Depending, of course, on the size of your waist.

You can see, if you compare the two versions, how the draping differs between the two. Both really quite nice. I see more of these skirts in my future.
The Square Version
Reviewed here