Friday, February 17, 2017

What's Your Process?

I'm in the midst of sewing button down shirts. Creatively they are really speaking to me.  I'm working with a mash-up of Butterick 5678 and Vogue 7700. I've posted pictures of the cotton & steel version to Instagram here and here.

The first one is done and I'm working on the second one now. Why?  Because fabric plays a huge part in how a garment fits, wears and looks. But that's not the reason for this post. In making the second one, I'm not using the pattern instructions, I'm sewing organically...and I realize I no longer speed sew.

What do I mean by that? Previously, I would do all like tasks together. Serge finishing all of the pieces prior to sewing, interfacing all of the pieces at once, and cutting all pieces out at one time. I don't sew this way anymore. I'm not trying to be first across the finish line now. I'm just trying to enjoy the process.

I do still think the project out ahead of time, planning out embellishment/trims, picking buttons and insuring that I have the right threads on hand. That's done more because I like having a plan when I sew and I hate to run out of anything halfway through the project. Also, because I like the idea of planning out the order of construction before I sew.

This is my process, so tell me yours. I know that a lot of the conversation this year has been about the political atmosphere in the US right now. This post is all about sewing, so talk back to me. Tell me, do you plan out your sews?  Your construction steps? Whether or not you will add trim to your garments? Or do you just wing it?

Let me know...and thanks for talking back to me! always more later!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Simplicity 8059 - A Blue Velvet Vest

When I was making the cardigans, the blue velvet was my favorite. I loved the look of it, the fabric and the ties, but the sleeves were just too tight. I tried to take some of the seam allowance out of the sleeves, knowing that the velvet holds the memory of stitches. Betting though that since the stitching was on the underarm I could get away with it. However, I didn't have enough space for comfort. So I removed the sleeves and made it a vest.

Otherwise this one was sewn just like the other cardigans...and I really like it as a vest. Also, because I used velvet as the base fabric, I used a navy ponte for the facings because velvet on velvet would be too much. To me the tassels are the detail that I love the most. 

I wanted to share a few details about how I made the tassels. From Joyce Trimmings, I bought a couple of velvet ribbons in shades of blue and the tassels to use as the ties for this version. 

How I put the ties together ~

3 yards of turquoise 1/2" velvet ribbon
3 yards of navy 1/2" velvet ribbon
2 shades of blue beaded tassles
Steam a Seam 2

Cut the velvet strips out - 21" long
Added the Steam A Seam 2 to the back of the ribbon

Placed the tassel between the two strips 

Placed the second ribbon on top encasing the tassel
Finger pressed the two ribbons together

Pressed the ribbons using my needle board for the velvet ribbon
...and a silk organza pressing cloth on the top

To insure the ties wouldn't pull apart I added a line of 
stitching down the center of the ties

Finished ties before inserting them between the facing and vest fronts

Some construction details ~
All of the seams were pinned every 1/2" so that the two pieces of fabric wouldn't shift when sewn together.

I used a stitch length of 3 on my Janome 8900QCP and a #70 Schmetz Universal needle.

Each seam was started with the foot fully on the fabric and then I backstitched and sewed forward for each seam to prevent the bunching that can occur when sewing with velvet.
While this is a simple pattern to construct, I gave it a degree of difficulty by using a stretch velvet. It meant a lot of slow sewing, using my needleboard for pressing, a lot of steam and finally all hems were hand stitched down. However, the extra effort was worth it because it's such a luxurious piece. Truly this is why I sew!

A few more pictures of the vest in action ~

I've worn all of the cardigans and this vest to work and I love the ease of wear. They also feel like me. I wear them with jeans and leggings and a sweater or turtleneck. These pieces make me glad I sew!

Again, these photos were taken by me...the music was blasting and I was definitely getting silly but hey this is me! A silly sewist sometimes...*LOL* always more later!

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Butterick 6389 - A Vest

I love these loose floaty vests and when I saw Butterick 6389, I knew I needed to add a version of this to my wardrobe.

I bought several of these boiled wools from Fabric Mart years ago. At the time I wanted to use them to make short cardigan jackets to go over dresses for the very professional job. So I was thrilled to find new life for them now.

This is a simple sew because it's a loose fitting garment. Choose your size, I used an XXL, cut it out and sewed it up. That's what I did but there was something missing. It was kinda plain.

I let it hang overnight and when I looked at it in the morning the armholes that were kinda long had grown. I'm sure it's because I didn't use the facings that are in the pattern. The facings that I saw no need for definitely had a purpose. Also, the next morning the vest seemed unnecessarily large in some areas. 

To fix this, I took the side seams in some. Then I added a fusible interfacing to the armhole seams that I turned in and stitched down. Instead of hemming the vest, I serged around the edge twice to finish. Oh one more thing, even though I cut the pocket pieces out, I sewed the vest up without them. I realized that I didn't really care if I had them or not so left them off and I never missed them when I wore this to work on Monday.

I also left the collar seam unfinished. The pattern tells you to do a french seam on the collar seam but my fabric was really thick and I just didn't feel like wrestling with it. Since I was going with an unfinished hemline, showing the unfinished collar seam just seems part of the theme.

Here is the finished vest ~

In the above picture I wore the vest with a belt to emulate the pattern envelope. I may or may not wear the belt but it does work for me. Lately I'm more casual and like the loose and flowing look better!  

This was a quick and stylish addition to my wardrobe.  Worn with a thick turtleneck or one of my cashmere sweaters, it will be warm enough for the cold days ahead. I may make a version of the turtleneck that's included in the pattern because I love turtlenecks. However, right now I have button down shirts on the mind so that's what's on my cutting table. always more later!

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Cashmerette Turner Tunic

I really like this pattern cause y'all know I love a dress but dresses only figure predominantly in my wardrobe from late May to September. Somehow a dress in the spring/summer works in my very casual office but not so much in the fall/winter. So I don't wanna wait until spring to make a version of the Turner Dress, that's why I decided to work on a tunic version first.

I went with a border print ponte recently purchased from Chic Fabrics to give it a little oomph. I'm slowly bringing myself around to the "I can wear any color, print, etc. I want camp" even though this is still a print on a black background! *LOL*

How I posted the fabric and pattern to Instagram

Pattern Alterations ~
Now there aren't many of those because Jenny has thought of most things that a plus size sewist needs to do to make a pattern fit and they are incorporated into the pattern.

But it is winter and the neckline was quite low on me, so starting with the bodice front for a C/D cup, I added 2" to raise the neckline per Jenny's instructions in this blog post

Construction Deets ~
I cut it out originally in a size 22 front and a 24 back and size 22 sleeves, put it on and thought ummmmm no. It was way too tight. Some of the tightness could be attributed to using a ponte with minimum stretch and some may be attributed to the fact that the pattern pieces are cut on the cross grain which could be affecting the little stretch the ponte possessed.

Since I bought three yards of the fabric, I recut the front using the 26 E/F cup and the 24 back. I needed all of my extra in the front. I'd already cut the skirt using the border for the bottom of the skirt. There wasn't enough fabric leftover to recut the skirt so I "made the bodice" fit the skirt. A good press helped make it work too.

The original sleeves that I cut from the border print ponte were too tight and I despise tight sleeves. When I went to recut them there wasn't enough fabric for them even when I tried to piece them together. So I pulled out my trusty black ponte fabric (which has a little more stretch) and cut new sleeves from it. If I look closely, I can see the slight difference in the fabric but since the print is so vibrant, that is what your eye is drawn too.

Designer Deets ~
I wish I was capable of just sewing a pattern out of the envelope as the pattern designer made it but I'm not.

Here are the changes I made to the pattern:
1. Made it tunic length
2. Gave the side hems shark tooth hemlines to emphasize the border print.
3. Used Jenny's instructions to raise the neckline
4. Instead of lining the top with self fabric, I used black foldover elastic to finish off the neckline. 

Some pictures of the tunic in action ~

Conclusion ~
I like the ease of this pattern. How easy it is to sew. How easy it is to interpret and change up using fabric and details...and how easy it is to wear. I don't know if I will make another tunic but it will definitely be on my spring/summer to-sew list. I'd like one with a very full skirt and calf length in a lightweight knit. It will be a perfect spring/summer dress and will have more fabric to cover the abundance of behind that I have.

Also, I took these pictures myself. My daughter and the grand kids are all under the weather. I've forgotten how hard it is to take my own photos and I applaud all of you who do!

One more thing, most of these pictures are taken with me wearing sneakers because honestly this is my footwear choice most days. I'm slowly but surely buying interesting pairs of sneakers cause they're fun and since I can wear them to work, I might as well. always more later!

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

It's All in the Details

Honestly, I may never get the other three cardigans photographed. I guess I'm not that good at faking it until I can make it. Thanks Sallie for that reminder! Cause I'm doing good just getting myself together to go face the world every day! *LOL*

So I thought I would talk about the details of each cardigan and how it makes them different. I really made no pattern changes to any of the four patterns, what differentiates them are the fabric and closure choices - you know the details.

First is Fabric Choices ~
My choices were deliberate because I wanted four cardigans that if I wore them all the same week, no one would think I was wearing the same thing. Fabric has a way of becoming the focal point so people stop looking at the style.

I chose a black ponte, a beige ribbed knit, a bold tie-dyed stretch velvet and a hard to look away from border print. BTW, I wrote a post on border prints here if you have any questions on how to use them.

Closures ~
Since the length was going to be exactly the same for all of the cardigans, how the cardigan closed became another important design feature.  I put a lot of thought, and in some instances more money than the fabric cost, into the closures. To me they give the cardigans distinction.  So even though the pattern recommends self fabric ties, I used other items to close the cardigans.

A glass button from the collection for the border print version ~

...and a link to the Instagram video of me making the loop from a hair elastic.

Button and loop in action

Velvet ribbons and beaded tassels for the tie dyed stretch velvet version ~

Braided leather ties for the beige ribbed one ~

Other details ~
To add some additional distinction to the cardigans, I added pockets from a cut-out faux leather from the collection to the black ponte one...

...and some elastic to the sleeve hems on the beige version

...a little lace on the back...

All of these details are how I handle making a pattern over and over again...the details keep me from being bored with the pattern.

If I get to the place where I'm taking photos again, I will post them to the blog. Next up on the cutting table is my border print Turner's almost done and if I wasn't being so social this week, it would be finished.  As soon as it is, I will put it on Lulu and shoot it for the blog. always more later!

Sunday, January 29, 2017


This is one of my versions of Simplicity 8059.  I wore it to work on Friday because I knew I was meeting Tasha, who authors the blog, The Tell Tale Tasha for dinner.

These pictures were taken by my coworker shortly before I left to meet Tasha. I'd planned to take a few photos today of the other three cardigans but I just didn't have the heart to do it. It seemed like such a frivolous thing to be doing. Taking pictures of garments when there are people trapped in airports, being turned away from the United States in foreign countries, and when permanent residents (green card holders) of the United States are not being allowed to return to the US because they happened to be vacationing, visiting family, or working in a Muslim country.

I've alternated between crying and wanting to scream  I can not believe that we've come to this in America...and then in the next breathe...I can because Black people have been persecuted in America for the last 238 years.

These words kept running through my head all day...

"First they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the Socialists and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me."
Pastor Martin Niemoller 

Pastor Niemoller was a national conservative and initial supporter of Adolf Hitler but he became a founder of the Confessing Church, which opposed the nazification of German Protestant churches. He vehemently opposed the Nazis' Aryan Paragraph, but made remarks about Jews that some scholars have called antisemitic. For his opposition to the Nazis' state control of the churches, Niemoller was imprisoned in concentration camps from 1937 to 1945.
Info from Wikipedia

One more thought and Imma tie this all together. I was a small child during the 60's and I remember it as a decade of upheaval...Vietnam, Civil Rights, riots on collage campuses and three assassinations - John F. Kennedy, Jr., Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy.  Up was down, right was wrong and it seemed like we were on the edge of a cliff waiting to fall into a great abyss from which there was no return. I was a small child and I remember the fear and uncertainty.

I've felt that same fear and uncertainty since November 9th...I feel it even more now that he is in office. Because I know that even though it seems like fear should take the day and we should prevent Muslims from coming to this country, I totally disagree with this stance. See I was in NYC when the Twin Towers fell. I didn't watch it on TV from the safety of my living room. I had to come back to the city day after day and walk past the signs where people asked about their missing loved ones. So if I don't want Muslims or refugees banned from entering the country, why do others?

I know in my heart that once they've finished banning them others will be next. Hispanics, Black people, members of the LGBTQ community, women who have an abortion, will we all be banned and censored by hate?

Will history repeat itself? Have we not learned anything as a human race?

So while the world is upside down, when wrong is right, when hate is the currency of the day, and morality has been thrown out the window, I will be sewing (because it keeps me calm and from falling into despair) but I'm not sure I will be smiling in my new garments here. 

It will be a day by day thing because today I can't stop crying...

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Spring Fling Sewing Retreat at Carriage Corners

At the end of my Christmas Vacay post, I mentioned that Gaylen will be sponsoring a Sewing Retreat at Carriage Corners the weekend of March 24-26, 2017. Also that I would be there to work with you on your sewing challenges, developing a TNT, and how to take a pattern and see design changes. Gaylen and I will also help anyone that wants to take a full set of measurements using Cynthia Guffy's chart.  

Some information about the weekend ~

Friday, March 24th ~ 
Arrive by 10am. Then there will be a shopping trip to Fabric Mart where Gaylen will provide transportation so that we can travel as a group. Lunch at a local restaurant. Back to the Inn to set up your sewing area and a wine & cheese get together at the local yarn shop. Dinner on your own and free sewing time after that.

Saturday, March 25th ~
Sew all day - lunch and dinner provided

Sunday, March 26th ~
Check out of your room by 11am but sew until 5pm.

For the particulars on how to register for the weekend, costs and additional information, it's available on Gaylen's blog.

I hope you'll come out and spend the weekend sewing with us! I'd love to meet everyone and spend some quality time shopping at Fabric Mart with you!

(photo credit:  Fabric Mart's Facebook Page) always more later!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

NEXT...Sunday Miscellany

First, you may have noticed this year that I didn't do a tribute post for the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. I don't even know the last time I didn't write one and am to lazy to look it up. There was a two-fold reason for that, that whole Twitter war with Congressman John Lewis just gave me the hebbie gebbies but most importantly I was SICK as a dog and had no energy to move out of my bed!

Instead of blogging and sewing on Monday, I was laid up watching QVC. I don't know how much you know about QVC, the television shopping network, but every day they feature a "Today's Special Value (TSV)" which is supposed to be the best buy of the day. Monday's TSV was a pair of denim jeans by Isaac Mizrahi.

Isaac appeared in about five shows during that day...each one started off showcasing those jeans (btw I did not buy a pair) and then all of these tops he's designed. I didn't buy any of those either but after watching about 10 hours of jeans and tops, cardigans and jackets, I got a clearer idea of what I need/want to be sewing.

See I've made some tops but I just don't get that down in the bones thrill that I get from sewing a dress. I'm sure some of this is because I didn't really need tops in my former life. I made a couple here and there but they weren't up to the standards of some of my dresses. I didn't even have a TNT top/blouse pattern which is why I've probably been flailing a little when it came time to actually sew them.

Of the tops I made my first year only the button down shirt - Butterick 5678 and the tunics from McCalls 7095 are still being worn. I've worn both of the Simplicity 8094 tops a lot since making them and I've actually thought of another version I'd like to make...other than that I've struggled.

Now that I have a clearer idea of what I want to sew and wear, I'm revising some of the top patterns that I shared on Instagram. I have another knock-off from QVC that I want to make using Simplicity 8094 again...well y'all know I like a TNT pattern! *LOL* This one is so comfortable to wear that there will probably be more incarnations.

So tops will be up next...

More Simplicity 8059 Cardigans ~
I finally got some sewing done.  I made four versions of Simplicity 8059. I started these around Christmas time. I got it in my head that I needed more of them and then I just started cutting fabric and making plans. I had a fifth one in my head but I need to move on, there are so many more things to sew.

Here's a quick peek of them, I'll have a blog post as soon as my daughter arrives to photograph me in them.

Meeting Claire Kennedy ~
I've wanted to meet Claire Kennedy, who blogs at Sew Artistry for some time. Claire has impeccable skills and sews for very high end clients back in Oklahoma. For some reason Claire seems to really like my sewing and features it in her newsletter for which I'm so honored. 

She is in town this weekend (probably flying home as this is posting) and we connected at Metro Textiles for some fabric shopping with her and her companions, Susan Theobald from Oklahoma City and Susan Knowles from Shreveport.

Kashi doing what he does best!

I was lucky because Friday I had time to spend with them since hardly anyone was in the office, so I took a long lunch and headed to Metro Textiles. 

Here are a few photos of their adventures ~

Susan, Claire & Susan checking the stretch on a knit

Claire and Susan checking out the wools

Claire checking out one of the pleated polyesters

Let me say these women came to shop! I loved how they went through and pulled fabrics in their colors, for their needs, and bought at least 5 yards. I got a vicarious thrill just hanging with them! Of course some of that fabric shopping rubbed off on me and I did need some retail therapy to soothe my aching soul since it was inauguration day...*sigh* 

Here is what came home with me ~

3 yards of an embroidered denim

3 yards of a border print ponte

While they were shopping, I had time to speak with both Susans and Claire. Susan from Shreveport showed me some pictures she'd taken of an Alabama Chanin skirt she'd recently completed. It was sooooo beautiful. She graciously shared some pics with me...

Detailed view of the hand stitching and beading

Susan wearing the skirt with a black turtleneck

Back view of Susan wearing the Alabama Chanin skirt she made

It's a gorgeous skirt isn't it? I'm always in awe of sewists that take the time to make garments using the Alabama Chanin stencils and hand stitching!

Saturday's Womens March ~
Lastly The Women's March was yesterday. I had planned to go to the march in NJ with my daughter. However, I'm still coughing up a lung and I didn't think another weekend out in the elements would help me get better any sooner so I stayed home and cheered from the sidelines.

I posted this to my Instagram account early Saturday morning ~

I'm so thankful to all of the amazing women who came out and marched both in the US and around the world! It made a statement that we are not going quietly into the good night! May I add that we have to follow this up with activism both politically and contributing to the institutions that this administration is threatening the existence of ~ even the National Endowment of Arts is being targeted!

Finally, I did get to spend some quality time in the sewing room this weekend. It has leveled off my equilibrium and while I still have a cough, I now feel more like myself!

This is what's currently laying on my cutting table ~ always more later!


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