Thursday, June 28, 2007

Those who can do; those who can't...

Teach! Just kidding. Coming from a family of educators, that has been a long standing joke. So, in my constant endeavors to find something interesting to do, I went to Joann's last weekend. As I was perusing their craft aisle for inspiration for my Burda patterns, I happened across the Joann creative classroom and lo, there was someone there! On a whim, I asked if they were looking for people to teach any classes and she said yes! Next thing I knew, I was volunteering to teach a class on sewing knits.

Next fall, I will be teaching a class on how to sew knits at the Gilbert, AZ Joann's Store :)

I was thinking Simplicity 3775:

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Burda WoF 05-2007-124

I persevered, people. I conquered the sinus infection. I beat that bug within an inch of its life. I passed it on to my husband. Now, I know it's small of me to think so, but I am actually kind of glad since now he can relate to my suffering. The man has the constitution of an ox and has only been sick once in the four years I have known him, while I seem to have sinus issues about every six weeks. It's unnatural.

My Burda dress is about 95% finished :) The only things remaining are the straps and the hem:

Pattern Description: From the Burda website: A return to the Sixties and yet so modern – what a wonderful comeback! This dress demonstrates that typical wasp waist and decoratively folded skirt section, highlighted by bright red piping. This trendy style will be easy to make with the help of our illustrated course in the sewing supplement.

Pattern Sizing:Euro sizing 34-42. It seems I am a straight 38 right off the bat, no alterations necessary.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?I would say that it has the essence of the dress in the photo. I just need to learn how to pose. The photos my husband takes of me always have the character of a mug shot. Turn to the right:

Were the instructions easy to follow?This was my first WoF pattern experience and I can understand why the magazine has such a bad rap. That being said, this was part of the "sewing supplement" so it had extra special instructions that were quite extensive. Or I should say, they were extensive for view A, and sort of for view B, not so much for view C. I can't exactly say I struggled, but I did make a few mistakes here and there. Whether that can be attributed to lousy directions or my inability to focus is any body's guess... I think their instructions for invisible zips are particularly bad. Something so simple shouldn't be unnecessarily complicated.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I like the overall style. I don't think I would have considered piping if it hadn't been suggested in the design. This was my first experience with piping, as luck would have it, and I think it came out rather well. The instructions said to basically make your own bias strips for piping, but I chose to purchase actual piping with cording, etc. One thing I learned in construction, with so many piped seams intersecting, is that it is best to remove the cord at the seam allowance to avoid bulk and make turning, zipping, corners cleaner. I discovered this kind of by accident, but it was a happy one as it solved the potential problem of a zipper that was getting held up at the two piped edges in the back. I liked the bodice shaping, as well. Burda fashions are are really tailored to fit the body, unlike the majority of the American patterns which have at least 2 inches of unnecessary ease built in to every pattern. The bust is 35.5" and it fits perfectly :)

I'm not wearing a bra in these photos, mostly because the shape of the bodice edge is not conducive to bra straps, but also because I don't need one. The shaping of the seams actually gives plenty of support.

Fabric Used: A printed cotton blend batiste that I bought at SAS fabrics by the pound for about $2 since it is very light. There was just under 3 yards in the piece. I washed it before cutting because, well, I wanted to. Interestingly, after washing, it was very difficult to iron. It is light enough that i thought some steam and a warm iron would take care of any wrinkles. Boy, was I wrong! Once I realized my method was ineffective, I cut a test strip to play with and managed to burn it and melt some of the print. Awesome for my iron, let me tell you. It wasn't until a few days later, as I was thickening some sauce with corn starch, that it occurred to me starch might help with the fabric. Since I don't have aerosol sprays in my house, I decided to make my own. I boiled a cup of water, made a rue with 2tsp corn starch and some cold water, and then simmered the mixture for about 15 minutes. This was loaded into my spray bottle that I usually use for ironing and tested my theory. Starch did the trick, people. I was very proud of myself for my DIY spirit. The dress could definitely use another starch treatment now that it's sewn...

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: So, the pattern called for just the seams on the lining pieces to be interfaced. I thought this would be too much work and just interfaced entire surface instead. It is because I interfaced the bodice lining that I can get away without a bra. My fabric is light enough that there really wasn't any bulk added. I would recommend it if you are using a batiste, in fact. The other change I made was in the straps. The shape of the bodice as it turned out worked better as a halter than as two shoulder straps. I haven't made these permanent yet, so I may do a criss-cross instead, depending on how I feel.

One thing I would have to recommend that is special attention be paid to matching horizontal seams when using piping. As you can see, my first attempt, while noteworthy, is far from perfect. It so imperfect that I would like to fix it, but I am not sure how to do do so. Maybe it just needs a good pressing...

Now, the photos of me show the dress during a fitting stage. I hadn't yet secured the straps, nor had I secured the lining at the waist, which would have smoothed the wrinkles at my middle. Here is a picture of the dress on the dummy, which, sadly, serves to remind me the past year of inactivity has built itself up on my frame. August of last year, I had the same measurements as this figure :( Well, above the hips anyway.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I don't think I'll sew it again. There are so many dress patterns out there that are begging me to try them. I have three issues of Burda in my possession and each has several dresses that I'd like to try.

It's a nice dress. The features of the dress gave me an opportunity for embellishment, if one can consider piping an embellishment. It was new to me, anyway. And, the extra challenge of the WoF pattern was welcome, if a little daunting at first. I tell you, it took me way to much time to deliberate whether I wanted to thread trace or chalk out the sewing lines. Chalk won out in the end because I was sick and didn't have too steady a hand for hand sewing that particular day.

It's a nice addition to the SWAP collection:

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Vintage Dior...Or, why I love the internet

I've been home sick with this season's sinus infection for the past couple of days. Being home during the week when one is sick is it's own kind of torture. You have limited options; too sickly to enjoy being home and, since I have a sinus infection, too stuffed up to actually sleep. I had forgotten how truly terrible daytime TV is, I mean Martha Stewart is cool and all, but the rest...If I didn't have the internet, I would have gone crazy. And, no, I do not have cable for the express reason that most TV sucks beyond belief and we refuse to pay retail for it.

I have spent the last 96 hours in a sort of semi-awake haze, propped up on the sofa with my laptop, well, in my lap surfing the web. Much time was dedicated to searches of vintage patterns. I discovered this website,, that has an extensive collection that is very well organized and is awesome in all respects, except for the fact that they fleece their customers. Their collection of patterns range from $25 - $65, with the majority being $48. Now, I have said before that I make it a point never to pay retail, and $48 for a pattern, a cut pattern even, seems like highway robbery to me. This of course led me to eBay :) And, Christian Dior #2948:

The drawing and model caught me since the outfit is very much my style. I love the top, with a self-belt, paired with the the pleated skirt. And at $3.95 plus shipping, how could I not bid? Aren't I lucky that it's my size since I actually won the auction...

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Turk does Poison (Scrubs)

Because I am a child of the nineties and I, too, did the running man...enjoy

Sunday, June 3, 2007

And may I present: M5189

Drum roll please...

Yes, she is done. My first garment for the swap is completed. I started this jacket with the plan of it being the test garment, but I think it stands quite well on its own. And, on me of course :)

Making this jacket was quite gratifying, to say the least. Read on for the full review of the experience...

Pattern Description: From the website: MISSES’ LINED JACKETS: Lined jacket with shoulder pads has front, sleeves and pocket variation; jacket D has purchased trim. I made view A, the short sleeve jacket with pleated pockets.

Pattern Sizing: The pattern comes in multi-sized options: I went with AA (6-12) and cut the 12 according to my bust measurement, 34", thinking that I would likely have to size down at the waist since I find most of the big four tend to have more ease than I prefer in my garments. According to the pattern, I "should" have had 4" of ease in the finished garment. Umm...not so much. We solve such problems by being grateful the jacket doesn't really need buttons, styled as it is.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? I would say it looks very much like the envelope. In fact, I would even say it looks better than... But, I am biased since I did the hard work.

Were the instructions easy to follow? You know, my first impulse is to say that they were very easy to follow. Yes, they were easy, perhaps too easy. So easy that they left out notes on trimming seam allowances and such. So easy that I didn't make that necessary step... Well, in most places, anyway.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I love, love, love that everything lined up just like it was supposed to! What a treat this was from my last jacket experience, Simplicity 4146, which I didn't choose myself (Joann's sewing III class). I mean, look, when you are making a tailored garment, one should expect to have to take extra care, manipulate fabric, maybe even curse a little bit when your fabric willfully resists your attempts to control it. Par for the course, right? WRONG! Not with 5189, people, paired with my white cheapo-depot cotton jardage.

Observe the construction of the sleeves:
Step one: baste two rows of stitches on sleeve header, between small dots for gathering. Done.
Step two: sew sleeve sides together. Easy-peazy.
Step three: with right sides together. pin sleeve to armscye, matching side seam, notches, being sure to line up large circle with shoulder seam. Gather to fit. Pin. Here is where I went awry with Simplicity 4146. Observe the beauty of the gathered and pinned sleeve of M5189:

Close - up view of how nicely the edges align. Can you believe this precision took less five minutes. FIVE MINUTES! I timed it. Amazing, I know.

Step four: Baste. Be careful of pricking yourself since you decided to stick the pins in facing outward and are therefore likely to gather some skin along with the fabric. Nice.

Step five: Be grateful of the basting stitch on your sewing machine that lets you do crazy things like leave pins in while you sew.
Step six: Remove pins, turn inside out and observe your handiwork. Admire the alignment of the large circle to the shoulder seam, knowing the permanent stitches, set 1/8" deeper, will be perfect.

Am I right or am I right? Perfection:
For those who need further convincing:

See? Sleeves don't have to be torture. I think it's all about your fabric choice, really. Natural fibers: good choice. Grey, crispy polyester: bad choice.

The collars, notches, pockets, hemline (okay, fine, it's still not done), everything were just as painless, people. Less the numerous scratches I gave myself because, subconsciously, I must believe in the adage "no pain, no gain" when it comes to sewing.

Fabric Used:
White cotton denim or twill with just the right amount of lycra to be easy wearing. Did I mention that it cost me $.90/yard? Same goes for the lining, which was part of my stash. The lining is a white cotton/poly shirting blend, also with a bit of stretch to it. I believe it's a peramanat part of Joann's collection. It's always there on the shelf. I think it's 12.99/yd regular and I marvel people actually buy it.

I believe it's a lifestyle choice never to pay retail and fabric stores are no different. My cheap little heart just loves a bargain.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:
I made the size twelve as is, no alterations. One of the first things the instructions have you do is sew the loops for the buttons. I had difficulty turning the fabric. But, didn't I just go on ad nauseum on the willingness of this fabric to be manipulated, you ask? Well, yes, you are right, but still, I couldn't turn the stinking band so in the trash it went. This was providential, however. Since I made the size 12 as is, I was left with zero ease at the waist. This lead to my, umm, "design" change. Those buttons aren't really a necessity, wouldn't you agree?

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Yes, and yes! I love this pattern! I don't know that I'll do the short sleeves again, but it's very cute and fairly sporty. It works well in the white. I'll just have to remember to trim my seam allowances to avoid bulk...
Fantastic pattern! SWAP worthy, I think. And, making 10 garments to match it will be a breeze!

Friday, June 1, 2007

the fabric of our lives...

Cotton; oh, how I love thee. The touch. The feel. Yes, the commercial is true: cotton really is the fabric of my life. As I said in my earlier post, I am busy creating a test garment for my swap jacket. I picked the fabric up at Joann's a while back during a sale of clearance items so it was a smokin' hot deal at $.90/yd. I bought what remained, which was just shy of 2 yards. The muslin jacket is almost complete and in my opinion, it's definitely wearable:

I cut a 12 because it matched my bust size at 34" and claims to have a finished bust of 38". Now, by my rudimentary math that would equal four inches of ease: definitely enough for a jacket which is meant for the external layer over at least a bra and shirt. I ask you, dear reader, does this look like four inches of ease to you?? Granted, while highly unlikely, it is possible that the girls have grown overnight. However, the jacket is sporty in nature and actually looks good without a closure. I would even go so far as to say that it looks like it's meant to be that way :) Hooray for Rosanne!

M5189 was started with much trepidation. My last (and first) jacket made was not exactly what I would call a success. While not a complete failure, it has remains an Un-Finished Object that I occasionally try in dismay. The fabric for the UFO was a grey stretch polyester suiting that was extraordinarily difficult to work with. Working with my white cotton for this jacket was so radically different, so incredibly non-frustrating, so easy that it gives me new respect for my sewing skills that the grey jacket came out as well as it did. White jacket sleeves: easing and gathering took all of 5 minutes. Grey jacket: three hour session with the help of a sewing pro and still not quite right. Poly is good for some things but maybe not so good for learning to manipulate fabric. The cotton, why, it made want to give a tutorial on how to ease a sleeve, if only just to tell the world one must start with a fabric that likes you and that wants to do what you want it to. World of difference.

Rosanne and cotton, sittin' in a tree. S-E-W-I-N-G. First came poly, then came cotton, then came Rosanne in very own jacket. Lame, I know, but I just can't help myself.

One question:
Do you think the sleeves are too puffy? The husband commented they look slapped on...He is a man of many, many talents however, descriptive verse is not among them. And I was thinking this just might be worthy of entering the contest as a stand alone item. What do you think? Okay, that was two questions.