Monday, August 30, 2010

Sneak Peek #5

I wanted to share what I will be working on, when my schedule allows, over the next few days.  I actually got a bit of a jumpstart on it this weekend.  It will be a pencil skirt and blouse combo.  I have not yet determined which skirt pattern I will be using.  I purchased the interesting black and white fabric from Fabric Depot during my recent trip to Oregon.  It is 100% cotton and feels like a soft, woven, twill of some sort.  It reminds me of a fuzzy black and white TV screen.  The solid black fabric is semi-sheer, lightweight, 100% cotton.  I do hope everyone is off to a trouble free week!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Simplicity 2369 in Vibrant Coral

Let me just say, "Oh wow! I adore this top."  The neckline does not gape and the fit is superb.  Simplicity 2369 is a pattern designed for stretch knits.  You have the option of making a mock wrap tunic or dress with different sleeve options, or wide legged pants.  I made View C, the tunic.  Sizing is from 8 to 24 and I made a size 10.

I have had this vibrant, lightweight, coral-colored, rayon/lycra knit in my stash for over a year.  It has a lustrous sheen and I acquired it from  When I went to Oregon a couple of weeks ago, I went to Fabric Depot, one of my favorite places to shop in Portland, and bought the Bali rayon blue and coral fabric.  When I returned home, I was overjoyed to find that the two pieces complimented each other.  

I made two alterations.  When  I saw Lori's review she mentioned shortening the ties to make a knot instead of a bow.  I have a couple of tops now with bow accents, so I liked the idea of a knot better.  I shortened the ties by 9.5 inches.  I also shortened the length by 4 inches.  If I had made this to go with the wide-legged pants or skinny capris, I would have left the length alone, as it is long enough to cover your backside, but with my skirt, the top looks better a little shorter.  I see I didn't straighten out the top for the "back view" picture, so the center back seam is off-center.   

One thing I didn't notice, neither on the pattern envelope nor in the reviews I read, was the three pleats on the front wrap piece where it attaches to the tie.  I think this is a stylish design detail and is the reason for the beautiful draping on the front.  Here is a close-up of what I am talking about.

I may have mentioned this before, but I just thought I would throw it out again.  I have found it is very important to cut your pattern out in single layers when working with knits.  Although this is more time consuming, you are less likely to go off grain on the layer you can't see, and almost always the second layer piece will not be true to the pattern shape, especially if you are using scissors.  Hope this helps someone!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sewing Archives

I am working on a new sewing project using Simplicity 2369 and my tnt bias cut skirt pattern.  I've seen generally good reviews on this wrap top pattern and I'm anxious to try it.  I have some bright coral rayon/lycra knit that I will be coordinating with one of the bali rayons I picked up during my recent trip to Oregon.  In the mean time, I thought it would be fun to show you some of my past sewing baby projects. 

I really like to sew for babies.  They are so small, so the projects are usually pretty fast and you can find the cutest fabric these days for young ones.  I would have to go through my pattern archives to find out which ones I used for these two outfits.  If you really would like to know, leave me a comment and I will find it for you.  I know they are both from Kwik Sew.

This first bodysuit was made out of 100% cotton rib knit.  Frogs were the theme.  It has a snap closure at the inside legs and one of the shoulder seams.  

This top is made out of a bamboo knit.  I have to say it was a challenge to sew the neckline without stretching it out and as I recall I made it twice to get it right.  This was before I had my coverstitch machine.  I appliqued the robot on the front from the pants fabric which is a 100% cotton jersey knit from The Fabric Fairy, purchased last year. 
The diaper bag is made out of corduroy and has a coordinating bib and changing pad.  I made the bias binding using one of the binding makers from Clover.  I found the surf themed fabric at Hart's Fabrics.  The quilt is a called a "Stacked Coins" quilt and I saw the pattern for it on this website.  I used greens and blues in keeping with the frog theme.  The white "coin" in the quilt actually has a frog print on it.  This is the first quilt I have ever completed.  I do have another quilt started from when I was in my first trimester of pregnancy with my first son over 11 years ago.  I love the color combination in it.  It is an "Around the World" quilt, but because I was very nauseated while making it, every time I look at it, I feel sick, so I haven't finished it.  But one day I will and hopefully the nausea will pass.  I will share a picture of that one with you some day too! 

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Skinny on Red

I am happy to report the skinny red pants were a success!  (Even though I had one silly error which I will discuss below)  Here is Vogue 1204, an Issey Miyake design, styled with a ready-to-wear top.  You may like to read my previous two posts for more information on the construction details.   
The pattern describes these pants this way: "Fitted, below waistline pants has front side slant pockets, back patch pockets, fly zipper closing, back yoke, waistband, carriers and topstitch trim."

It comes in size 6 to 20 and I cut out the size 10.  The pattern has the hip width printed on the tissue paper and a size 10 had 37" hips.  This pattern is designed for a non-stretch bottom weight, and that is why I figured that this was either going to be a hit or a miss as far as sizing goes.  A 37" hip only gave me 1" of wiggle room, so I was really hoping it was accurate.  From the results, I would say this pattern runs true to the printed measurements.  

I was slightly panicky on my first fitting.  I could not pull the pants up all the way over my thighs.  Uh oh!  Thankfully, I had basted the side seams, and had enough room to sew them up in a 1/4" seam instead of the allotted 5/8" seam.  So from the waist to the bottom of the side pockets, I kept the 5/8" seam, but from there I tapered out to a 1/4" seam, rejoining the 5/8" seam at the knee.  This is the only fitting alteration I made.  

Perhaps the back area beneath my derriere could use some adjusting since there are some horizontal lines, but I'm not sure how I would fix that just yet.  Any thoughts?  Overall, I am happy with the cut and fit of these pants and will wear them.  I would also like to make them again in denim and find a source for rivets.  Another great thing about these pants is Vogue cut the back higher than the front, so they do not feel like they will fall down, even though they are low-waisted. 

Here are two others details worth mentioning.  The waistband is one continuous curved piece and is interfaced on both the inside and outside.  I like this.  The waistband feels very sturdy.  I mentioned in a previous post that you can construct the inside front pockets using french seams.  I decided to use pinking shears to finish my edges instead.  Since the pants are very fitted, I think this did give me less of a seam line, than had I made the french seams.  To further minimize bulk, I also cut the pocket lining from a lightweight cotton batiste.  Also, the pockets are quite long.  I would probably shorten them on future versions.    

I did make one error in construction of the belt carriers.  When I finished my waistband and was ready to attach the carriers to it, I wondered why they were so long.  I should have gone back to the instructions and read them carefully.  They were long so that you could tack them at the bottom as well as the top.  My solution was to trim the carriers, since I did not know they should have been tacked at the bottom.  So my carriers look less ready-to-wear than they should.  I won't make that mistake on future versions.  

The SWAP I have been working on has been good for me, because it has challenged me to think about how to use new fibers and colors.  Skinny red pants were not something I would have bought, but with red twill on my fabric shelf, I thought, "Why not give them a try?"  Since they worked out, here are four more ways I plan to style them.  The first three pictures are with items I've already made for this SWAP.  The last picture is with a ready-to-wear t-shirt.  To finish that look, I think a black or grey boyfriend jacket would be perfect.  This is the second time I am wishing I had one.  Soon, I've got to try to make one!


Thursday, August 19, 2010

So Close!

My Vogue 1204 pants are nearly finished. This pattern really is designed to give you a very ready-to-wear looking pair of skinny jeans.   Do they fit?  Soon...soon you will have the answer!  Either way, this has been a great pattern to work with, pushing me to learn new techniques like flat fell seams in a curve, and honing my front fly zipper and topstitching skills.  Psst...I think I need some more practice with belt carriers though.    Here is a glimpse of the back.  Hang in there and so will I.     

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sneak Peek 4

I am working on these pants.  I may attempt the tunic at some point, but really I would like a great fitting pair of skinny pants.  I am using a $3.00/yard clearance priced red twill that is a nice bottom weight.  I am starting with the size 10.  The pattern does not call for a stretch woven, but rather denim or brocade.  If they turn out too small, you will only be seeing them on the table and not on me.  But you have to start somewhere, right?!  If I get lucky, like the last pair of Burda pants I made, and they fit right out of the package with minimal adjustments, I will use them as my final bottom for the SWAP I am working on. 
Here is where I am at so far. 
Again, I really like Vogue's directions for constructing a fly front zipper.  They are very detailed and have lots of pictures to help you along.  Also, another neat thing about this particular pattern is it includes how to do nice finishes on the inside, like binding the fly with thin bias tape and french seams to join the front pockets together.  I admit, I skipped the french seams, since I really want to try to avoid a ridge where the pockets are, and used my pinking shears instead.  I'll have to see if that was a good choice once I can try them on.  Here is the inside fly bound with bias tape.   
My daily sewing time has been cut down considerably with school and soccer underway, but I look forward to every little bit I can squeeze in right now. 

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Simplicity 3927 and Retail Re-Fashion #2

Simplicity 3927 is an "It's so easy" pattern for a tunic with handkerchief-like sleeves (View A) or a sleeveless version (View B).  The bodice is fully lined.  I made View B.   
Although this pattern is designed for wovens, I decided to use a matte jersey print from Gorgeous Fabrics.  Since my fabric is a knit, I eliminated the center back zipper.   If I make this again, I will eliminate the center back seam and cut on the fold.  I didn't do it this time because I wasn't sure if I would need to do some adjusting to the back neck line.  I found out, I did not.  The back neckline does not gape.  I cut a size 10, but had to do several modifications to "Make it Work". 

The bust is probably designed for a large B or C cup.  I am not that big, so I had to take about 1/2" off the bottom of the bodice top where you would gather for the cup.  I also decided to add 1/4" to the front and back shoulder seams to give me more room in the armhole.  This lowered the front V.  The V-neck is already cut pretty low so I ended up taking 5/8" off the center front bodice section.  This raised the V-neck considerably and reduced the size of the cup.  So it was a good adjustment for me.  Since my bodice was now reduced by 1 1/4", I also had to reduce the midriff front and lower front panel by the same amount.  Once I did this, my pattern pieces matched up and came together perfectly.  I didn't make any adjustments to the back pieces.  I took 4" off the hem.   

One thing I do not like about the pattern is that the midriff pieces are cut wider at the top and narrower at the bottom.  This shape causes some gaping under the bust along the midriff line.  In the future, I would cut my midriff piece like a rectangle and eliminate the wider curve at the top.  My bust is so small, I don't need this curve.  Also, the instructions do not tell you to understitch along the neckline or armhole.  This is imperative if you do not want your lining to show at the neckline or armhole seam.  It was especially important for me since I ran out of fashion fabric and had to cut my front bodice lining pieces out of white matte jersey.  Overall, I am happy with how this top turned out and it is a great travel outfit, since it does not wrinkle. 
I made the skirt from another clearance dress that I picked up with this dress.  It is a petite size 6 made out of black matte jersey.  The bodice did not fit me, but the six paneled skirt portion did, and it was well made.  So I cut the bodice off and attached 1" wide elastic to the top and turned it down and coverstitched.   
Oh, I love a skirt that is this easy to come by!  Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Home Again...Home Again

I'm back from my travels.  I had a whirlwind trip sticking to a very close schedule in order to see my family which led me to drive most of the western side of the state of Oregon.  I didn't mind the driving though, because I can't get in a car and drive like that here!

My sister and I enjoyed a wonderful time together in southern Oregon.  In the past, we have made it an annual routine to float down the Rogue River with inflated kayaks.  So this was a top priority.  The river hadn't changed a bit.  It had been 5 or 6 years since our last float.  The weather was perfect, sunny with a slight breeze, and somewhere in the 90's with a water temperature of 53 degrees F.   My favorite part was the smell of the wind snaking through the evergreens as it skimmed across the surface of the water.  Here are some Canadian geese having a soak.     
Prior to the day spent on the river, my sister kindly drove me to her local Jo-Ann's where I was delighted to find the Founder's Day Sale going on.  Vogue patterns for $3.99, scissors for 1/2 off, buttons for 1/2 off.  I stocked up!  The cream buttons in the photo came from Fabric Depot's outdoor sale.
We also went to an antique shop and I stumbled upon a drawer full of vintage buttons.  I picked these up.
The next phase of my trip was spent in central western Oregon with my brothers and their families.  There is never enough time, but I am thankful for the time I had. A highlight was meeting the newest member of this side of my family with one on the way in October.  (You will probably see a baby sewing project in the next month!)  I also had the opportunity to go boating on Fern Ridge Reservoir.  I had never been on this lake before, so I appreciated seeing the different environment, which was more on the marshy/wetland side with loons instead of geese.  
Then it was on to Portland for the last day of my trip.  More time with family and friends and fabric shopping.  I went to Mill End and Fabric Depot.  Here is the fabric I purchased.  There are several different types including lining, knit, rayon, linen, and cotton.  I will describe each one as I sew them up in the upcoming months.  The fabric stores here are so small that I had forgotten how overwhelming gigantic fabric shops are.  Can there really be so much product in one place? Yes, and I couldn't possibly see it all.  But I did find some beauties - be it the texture and/or print. 
The flight back was perfectly orchestrated.  When I sat in my seat I could see that the young lady next to me was feeling poorly.  I asked her if she had a cold and she, with a questioning look, answered that she did.  I assured her not to worry.  We would be perfect seat mates as I too had a cold.  So we sniffed, coughed, and slept our way back to the island. 

Thank you all for the kind compliments on my last outfit.  I really am pleased with it.  My sewing will slow down a bit now that the lazy days of summer have come to an end.  I must recover and plan out my curriculum and goals for the coming year with my boys.  We begin next Monday and all three have now been contacted by their soccer coaches.  Excitement for the new season is in the air!  Can't wait to catch up on all your projects and news over the past 5 days. 

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Swap Outfit #4

Here is SWAP outfit #4.  It feels fancy without being over-the-top.  As I mentioned in my last post, the top is Burda 8287 and the skirt is Kwik Sew 3580.   I am very happy with how both patterns turned out and will be using them again in the future.
The blouse is made out of a navy stretch satin.  I am guessing it is polyester.  I expected it to be a little difficult to sew with, but it wasn't.  I used smokey grey shell buttons on the front and spaced them 2 inches apart.  The pattern was well drafted and all the pieces fit together perfectly.  I made a size 10 and did not have to alter anything.  I love the little bit of stretch in the fabric.  The blouse is comfortable and has a flattering fit. 

The skirt pattern is a high-waisted design and it is also quite flattering.  It has 4 darts, an invisible zipper, belt carriers, and a self tie.  I used a linen blend in a dark beige color.  I over-laid it with navy lace.  There are no directions on how to do this in the pattern.  It doesn't have a lace overlay view, so I did my best to figure out construction on my own.  I hemmed the front and back linen pieces first, then I laid the lace over the linen and basted it on the sides and top.  From that point I constructed the skirt as one layer of fabric.  I am pretty happy with how I laid out the lace, but still have much to learn.  My main goal was to have the bottom scallop match all the way around.  I had to fudge on one seam, but I think I blended it nicely enough that it isn't too noticeable.
I am off for my mini-vacation to visit family this weekend on the mainland.  I plan to be back to sewing and posting in about one week and will share with you some of my adventures.  You all have a super weekend!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Back to my SWAP and a Short Trip

Wow, August came fast.  There is still so much to do before we jump back into full time school which will start for my boys on August 16th. I've already gotten a call from one of their soccer coaches.  My youngest DS' practice starts this week!  I didn't get the school room painted this summer, but I am currently making cheerful, bright, soothing curtains for the windows.  Here is the first set.
I also want to get back to my SWAP and here are the patterns and fabric for my next project.  I am hoping to have it done before I leave for a short five day trip, this Thursday, to the mainland to visit family and a couple of dear friends.  I haven't left Hawaii for 2 1/2 years and I am so excited to see everyone.  I will also enjoy a day of fabric shopping in my old hometown of Portland, OR.  I can't wait!

I also wanted to share with you some Vogue patterns I bought recently through an online sale. There are no fabric stores which carry Vogue here.  So sad.  My last success with Vogue has certainly motivated me to try more.    When I leave for the mainland, I will bring fabric measurements for several of these as I browse the fabric stores.  I will be excited to share with you what I find when I get back.  Of the seven, my two favorites are the Cynthia Steffe dress (V1151) and the Donna Karan (View B) tunic and narrow slacks (V2064).  I don't know if any of these are new for the season, but these are the ones that spoke to me when I searched the sale. 
I've enjoyed seeing what many of you are excited about this fall with regards to patterns and fabric.  I think it will be an exciting and always inspiring sewing blog season!