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,, 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.