Sewing Classes and Lessons

Saturday, April 1, 2017

My Sewing Staycation

I had 10 days off of work in March, and instead of taking a fabulous vacation, I took a sewing staycation, and I got a  Spring mini-wardrobe done!  Here's probably my favorite of the bunch:

There are so many new trends that I was itching to try, and I'd been collecting some patterns for them.  Flounces, cropped pants, and asymmetrical hemlines are all trends that I wanted to try out this Spring. I had two woven prints in four yard cuts- one in white and grey, and one in blue and black- all from FabricMart Fabrics precut fabric selections.  So, these formed the basis for my tops and then I added in some solids for the bottoms to go with them

I thought of the white and grey print as my "test" fabric, as I liked the blue and black print more.  So, I started out testing Vogue 9067 which is a very loose fitting top with hem and sleeve flounces. The sleeve flounces are doubled, so you don't have to hem them.  I made a size smaller than my measurements would have indicated, and it is still quite voluminous.  This was really easy to sew, and if you like this look, rest assured that it doesn't take nearly as much fabric as the recommendations tell you!

I do like it, but wasn't sure that I liked it enough to make it out of the blue and black print.  So, on to test top #2 from Butterick 6456, a top with multiple sleeve options and a front pleat.  I chose the mid length sleeves with the flounces- they have just enough flare to be fashionable, but they are not long enough to get in the way.

This style I liked a lot better than the first top pattern.  The only downside is narrow-hemming that small circular flounce for the sleeve was a bear! I also made these pants from a white ponte knit, using the pattern from Pamela's Patterns- Pants Perfected.  This is an interesting pattern because it includes a DVD that you can watch on how to do things like fly zippers and mock welt pockets.  Pamela does a great job of explaining things, and her sizing is very generous, which is great for larger ladies.  I really liked the crotch curve on this pattern, and applied the curve to my next pairs of pants as well.

So, here is Butterick 6456 in the blue and black print.   Sometimes I can get away without doing a full bust adjustment, but in making the test version, I could see that I needed one, as well as a couple of other adjustments- shortening the v-neck and a forward shoulder adjustment.  Here you can see the difference that making these adjustments made:

See how the lower front curves upward in the grey and white print?  And see how it's pulling a little bit at the armholes?  Doing the full bust adjustment fixed both of those problems.  The white and grey one is definitely still wearable, and probably no one but me would notice, but I feel better having done it.  I have however changed my mind, and now prefer the grey and white print, so I wish I had reversed the order in sewing them!

For the cropped, slightly flared pants, I used a light blue stretch suiting fabric and Simplicity 8264.  I'm not sure if these pants really work with the top- they are both pretty bold.  I'd be interested to hear your opinions on this. For fitting, I laid the pattern for the back pants piece crotch curve over the Pamela's patterns version, and blended Pamela's curve into this pattern. It worked great, and I think that this will be the way that I can get a better fit with other pants patterns, but still incorporate the details like leg circumference and flare from the other patterns.  I like the gentle flare on the legs and the pockets on this one, but I don't care for the center back zipper.  I would move that to the side if I make these again.  Also, be warned- I think that these need a stretch fabric, even though the pattern doesn't indicate that. 

I still had plenty of the blue and black fabric left, so I chose one more pattern- McCalls 7579.

 This is a pattern for both a top and close fitting pants from Nicole Miller.  In the pattern, the top is actually cut into many different sections,but I didn't think that the seamlines would be noticeable with my printed fabric.  So, I loosely pieced the pattern pieces together on my cutting table, as well as I could, and then traced a one piece front and a one piece back. It worked, and was a whole lot easier than sewing all of those sections together!  I also simplified the pants by extending the upper edges 1-1/2 inches, and then making an elastic waist instead of a separate waistband and zipper.  I used ponte knit for these too.   You can see the interesting pant seam lines a little in the photo.  I do see that they are bunching up around the knees in the photo, so I think that means I need to tighten it up in that section so there isn't excess fabric.

I have just taken out the excess fabric on one leg, and that was definitely the fix for the bunching problem.  Here is a comparison- you can see the looser leg is shorter after sitting, and the tighter leg stays the correct length.  I will fix both eventually, but wanted to show the difference!😉

So, here is everything all together.   I already wore three of the outfits this week, so I'm pretty sure I'll get a lot of use out of all of these. 

I really enjoyed my sewing staycation and feel refreshed and energized.  Better than a spa!  Have you ever tried a sewing staycation?

Happy Sewing!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Mauve Musings

I've always found the color "mauve" to be a little mysterious.  Is it pink?  Is it purple?  Is it brown?  Is it gray?  Whenever I read about color analysis, mauve is one of the recommended colors for me (a summer), so I thought I should find out a little more about it.   The first thing that I found out, is that I've been mispronouncing it my entire life.  It is not "mahv", but "mov" with a long o, as in stove or clove.  I'm already feeling a little more sophisticated!   According to Wikipedia, mauve was named after a pale purple flower called the mallow flower.  It's use didn't become popular until 1859 when a chemist trying to make a cure for malaria noticed a residue that ended up becoming a mauve dye.  The 1890's are referred to as the "mauve decade" because of it's popularity!

I ordered several different fabrics from Fabric Mart Fabrics to experiment with that all had mauve in the names.  You can see that they range in colors from kind of a pinkish brown to a dusty purple. There really is spectrum, but they all are a little "dusty" in nature.

I started with the cotton jersey, which has subtle silver metallic accents on it.  It's a lightweight and firm cotton jersey, so I thought that it would work well with something that required ruching or gathering, such as this Lisette pattern which is Butterick 6411.

Here you can see the silver accents a little better. I really love the ruched overlay in this design, and it's quite cleverly constructed- much easier than it looks. I'd like to try it again in a solid knit.

However, the dress is a little thin to wear by itself for winter, so I used a gorgeous dusty mauve wool jersey to make a cardigan to go along with it.  I knew that I didn't want just any old boring cardigan pattern for such a special fabric, so I hunted through my stash and found this one:  Simplicity 2148.  This is an out of print pattern, but I really love the details on it- the flared cuffs, the angled hem, and the ruffle detail around the neckline.

The little ruffle trim is made by cutting a large circle out of the fabric, and then cutting a 1-inch wide spiral out of the circle.  Then you run two rows of gathering stitches and pull it until you get a nice ruffle.  I also ironed on some sequins before I gathered it.  I've been watching Zelda (TV series about Zelda Fitzgerald), and have been inspired by the 20's fashions to use a little glitz here and there.  I know that I'm going to get a lot of use out of this cardigan. 

The honeycomb knit, also is a wool knit, but a little heavier than the jersey, and I thought it would be nice in a more fitted dress.   I used McCalls 7469, which is a Nicole Miller design with a boatneck. I liked everything about the pattern- the pockets, the interesting seams, the 3/4 sleeves, except I've never been a big fan of boatnecks.  So, I altered it to be a scoopneck, by lowering the front neckline about 2-1/2 inches using a french curve.   I also made this scarf from one of Fabric Mart's silk chiffons, and it is one of my favorites. 

After it was finished, I thought it was looking a little plain, so I used 7 iron-on gem cluster sets around the neckline as well.  This was surprisingly easy- just peel, stick and iron for about 5 seconds on the wrong side of the fabric. 

Even though the cardigan and dress are different shades of mauve, I think that this dress also works with the cardigan pretty well.  Here are the details a little closer up.

My last fabric was the faille which was a cotton poly blend.  I haven't worked with a faille before, and wasn't sure what to expect.  It turned out to be very stiff and rather shiny.  I washed it a couple of times and the end result was very similar to a washed silk dupioni.  It was less stiff, but still pretty firm, and had a rougher texture to it than before.  This was kind of a wild card in my mind, so I decided to go out on a limb and make into Kwik Sew 3577.

This isn't really my typical style at all, so I can't say that I'm going to wear this one.  First, I think it's too big, and second, the fabric creases too easily for my taste.

My daughter says that I look like I should be giving a speech.  I say I look like I should be serving drinks on a PanAm flight.  Neither of which will ever happen, so I don't know what I'll do with this one!  It might be my styling- the scarf is vintage 1960's and belonged to my Mom- I really wanted to work it in.  Maybe I'll separate the pieces and use them individually somehow.  I'd love to hear your suggestions on this!

But there is a silver lining because I realize that I really do like the color of this fabric- I find it to be a very calming color.  It is more of a mauve taupe, and it definitely could serve as a good neutral for my coloring when looking for fabrics in the future.  This has been a good impetus for me to experiment with different colors.

At the end of every photo shoot, my photographer demands a latte.  A great way to relax and enjoy a little more mauve! 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Vogue 1479 Isaac Mizrahi Coat

Last week, my oldest daughter came over and saw this coat nearly completed on my dress form.  She said "Wow, that was fast!".  What she didn't know was that I had started this project back in December of 2015, when Pantone announced that their 2016 Color of the Year was actually two colors- Serenity Blue and Rose Quartz. I was so excited because I had the perfect fabric- this pink and blue plaid coating.  I remember getting this wool coating for $1.99/yd from when they still had great sales.  Oh, those were the days....sigh...

When Pantone announced the 2016 two color winner,they explained it with this:

Ahhh.  Such good intentions.  Maybe had we all joined forces and wore these two colors together, 2016 might have been better!  I was going to do my part after all.  I got my coat cut out in December of 2015, got the interfacing fused, and then the unthinkable happened- carpal tunnel struck!  To someone who loves to do things with her hands, carpal tunnel is a nightmare.  Now, looking back, I can see where I was getting some signals from my body that I ignored.  But when it really hit, it was like a lightning bolt, and I couldn't do anything with both hands without extreme pain for several months.

I did get better by summer 2016, but by then I had completely forgotten about winter and coats, and even the color of the year that I so desperately wanted to make something from.  It wasn't until I saw a gorgeous version of Vogue 1479 on EliCat's blog, that I was reminded- "Hey!  You've got this pattern too, and you even have it all cut out!"

So, here is the Vogue cover:

I really liked the oversized stadium look of it, and could see wearing big chunky sweaters under it.  Of course, this was in 2015, when we still had real winters.  Lately, it's been so warm, that I think I'm going to give all of my big sweaters away.  It was almost 70 degrees last week in Illinois!

Well, I'm digressing here, back to this coat- I call this my "coat of many pockets", and I love it.  I love every single pocket of the 7, yes, that's right, 7 glorious pockets.  How can that be?  Well there are two welt pockets, 1 inside pocket, and then the patch pockets are actually two in one- you can put your hands in the side or from the top. 

Here is the inside pocket. I used a hot pink grosgrain ribbon for it, and the finish between the facings and lining.

I even put in a hang chain and label!  There's a story behind these labels, but I won't go into it here.  The hang chain is vintage and so are the buttons.

I found these leather buttons on Etsy at  They are vintage Japanese buttons and were very reasonably priced for leather buttons.  They came wrapped in a beautiful handkerchief along with a small assortment of other interesting buttons.  I highly recommend checking this source out if you are in need of interesting buttons! 

 I won't lie, this was a complicated project!  And one that I would not recommend for beginners.  A few sections had me scratching my head.  They used very, very small illustrations of very complicated steps!   I know that I did the inside pocket wrong, but hey, it works, which is all that matters.  I did take photos of the patch double pocket construction, so I'll share those with you.

First, the gray lining, is piece #4, the Lower Pocket Lining.  You sew this to the pocket, but leave an opening for turning, shown by the chopstick in the photo below.  The black lining is piece #5, Lower Pocket Facing.  (I ran out of lining fabric, so didn't intentionally choose different colors, but it may help in visualizing how to do this step).  You pin the WRONG side of the facing to the RIGHT side of the Lower Pocket and baste.

Next, you fold down the lower pocket lining to cover the lover pocket facing and stitch.  (The wrong side of my gray lining is darker, so don't get this confused with the black facing piece.  What you are seeing is the wrong side of piece #4.)

Then you turn this right side out, through the opening. Give it a good pressing, and this is what it will look like.  You are seeing the wrong side of piece #5 on top here.

Now, you need to go in and handstitch the opening closed. 

Then you place it on the coat.  and slipstitch the wrong side of piece #5 to the coat.  Now here is something very important that I messed up- the "placement line" on the coat, is actually for the top of piece #5, not the top of the pocket!  There are circles that are for placing the top of the pocket.  Then you stitch around the pocket, leaving an opening on the outer sides.  This is what allows it to be a double pocket.  SO clever!

When I first put the top of the pocket on the placement line, my plaids didn't match.  I was so bummed, but then I thought, "Oh well, I guess I didn't have enough fabric to match the plaids".  After all, it had been over a year since I cut this thing out!  So I sewed them in place and completed the rest of the coat anyway.  It wasn't until several days later, that I pulled out the instructions and realized my error.  Then I had to undo the lining, take off the pockets, and move them up to the correct position.  Duh!  But thank goodness, the plaids matched, which would have eventually driven me crazy if they didn't.

The back of the coat is rather plain, although there are two piece sleeves. EliCat added a back belt with buttons that jazzed hers up nicely.  But after repositioning the pockets and sewing up the lining again, I didn't have the energy to add any extras.  You can see the dropped shoulders clearly here.

I cut the medium, which is plenty big.  I did add about 1-1/2" to the length on the body and sleeves.

If you enjoy a challenging project, I really recommend this pattern.   Just be patient, get all of the pocket pieces straight in your mind, and allow yourself plenty of time.  Even if it takes over a year, like mine!

Happy Sewing!

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