Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Holidays 2011

Long time no see everyone.  I will admit that my life spun completely in a strange direction when I got my new job.  No time to sew and no desire either.  Really busy digging in at the new company.

Then..... I bought a house.

And I did a lot of this.....
in the back yard.... and if you can't tell, that's drinking, eating and hanging out with friends and family.
Then I got one of these....

Meet Mochi the smallest dog in the world or my world

and we've both been in training........and by the way he won't really wear that sweater more than 30 seconds.  And he poses really well in it because he refuses to walk when it's on.

I also took a work trip to China and managed to go to a few fabric markets, started a quilt, and did I mention ate a lot?  Love cooking in my new kitchen.

Hope to see you in the new year with some updates on that trip and some more sewing.  Take care and have a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder..........

and anxiety makes you sleep less.  But let's talk about what makes me happy...FABRIC!

And now that I've bored you to death with the last weeks of nothing to review, I'll just give you a little update on what appears to be a new hoarding habit that's developing in the fabric world of my closet.
Gorgeous Fabrics
This beautiful print I intend to make Vogue 1224 Tracy Reese style- Why is it you look for the exact fabric that is on the pattern envelope?  When I received the fabric today at work, the package made my day.  It was a frustrating day and it's such a treat to get packages that don't contain more work!
          All fabrics were purchased on line at Gorgeous  The fabric is actually more multi colored that I thought.  There is very little white when you get close it's only in the and then there are tan and taupe mid tones. At first I wasn't sure but it's kinda great.  Look at it on the form!  A bigger motif than the pattern envelope but it's super bright and cheery. Can't wait to see Allison C finish hers version of this style so I know what to expect from the pattern.

Gorgeous Fabrics- the source and the fabric is pretty too!
Next up- this great yellow!   How awesome is this?  Yellow looks great on me for some reason.  I love it.  And the motif has some swirly flower in the middle.  
This is my first time purchasing fabric on line so it's interesting to get to see the full repeat after just the small swatch.  And again, I have literally no imagination and chose a yellow for the fabric.  We'll see if I actually make this style out  of this fabric. Right now, that's what's intended.
          Finally an impulse purchase..............
Kind of a stretchy mesh. Will need an under slip or lining of some kind.  I don't have a pattern for this one but I really like the way it's draped on the form.  If only I had the patience to drape again.......sign.
           So, I haven't been here for awhile due to life stuff that gets in the way of stuff you want to do...... if you know what I mean.         Specifically, I've been trying to sell my house in California because I no longer care to be a long distance landlord and because frankly it's a total pain in the ass as well. It's annoying to have someone complain about your beautiful antique Wedgewood stove when you would rather just be the one using it.  They don't even cook!  I've lost a lot of sleep over the last months and finally I'm in escrow, cue the angels, AAAAAhhaaaa!!!!!.  And for two blessed nights in a row I slept all night for 8 hours!  yay!!!!!!!   Maybe the mojo will come back.
           And speaking of coming back, I will be back from my work trip at the end of April.  Yes, I leave on 3/28 and get back on..........wait for it....................four twenty never.......4/20!!!!!!!  April twentieth!  Stop thinking about the other 420 you freaks.  So, perhaps there will be fabric shopping in Sham Sui Po (totally spelled wrong but it's in Hong Kong) and maybe I'll find something in the market in Vietnam and when I come back the house escrow will be closed and I will have a pile of spring dress projects and maybe.... just maybe it will be above 55 degrees Fahrenheit!!!  Have I said how much I hate to travel?  More on that later for sure.  Or maybe something from the road.
      Thanks for stopping by I'll be here all week and then gone FOREVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Vogue 8685 a Winter Dress and Winter Wonderland

After finishing the wool coat I was exhuasted.  I've been super busy at my new job and I get home every night and just want to lay on the couch after dinner.  But, that's pretty boring and lots of episodes of American Idol and Oprah are stacking up and those are really what I play in the background when I sew cause you don't really have to watch them, I can just listen.

This weekend was amazing.  We went up to Mt Hood for the weekend and participated in Romp to Stomp out Breast Cancer- benefitting the Susan G Komen foundation.  This is a snow shoing event where they have a 3K race, a 5k and 3K "walk" and a little tikes dash for the kids. 

My friend Meg in front

View from the trail
It was a beautiful day with sun and fresh powder and although it was super cold (about 11F) I was toasty in my gear from various Oregon companies (Columbia Sportswear, Mt Hardware, Sorel and Ice Breaker).  We went out in the first wave of 5Kers and stomped our way through the snow and never let up the pace.  My only complaint would be that my face swelled up in welts from the cold later in the day- no dates for me on Sat night.  If you've never participated in a snow shoe, it's super fun and easy!

After dashing home through the snow on Sunday morning I started a project for this Vogue dress.
View out the front window of my Beetle- no chains- scary!!!
 I decided to make a "muslin" to see how my adjustments would work out I used some old knit dresses so that's why it looks like a franken muslin.
I made a 2" full bust adjustment and it lengthened the bodice about 1".  It was way too much and with the stretchy fabric, I decided to reduce the modifications so it wouldn't hang off me later.  I ended up with about a 1 1/2" full bust adjustment and lengthened it about 1/4".  I had to also alter the midrif and yoke patterns for width on the front as well as the skirt.

when I cut it all out on Tuesday night I barely squeeked out the pattern pieces. And the reason for that is because I bought the fabric originallly for a short sleeve Burda style dress.  But because I discovered that even if the office is heated, I'm freezing ass cold all the time there because my desk is by the window (i know boo hoo) and it's just not that warm. 

So if I made that dress for winter I would have to wear a long sleeve shirt under it and that would just defeat the purpose. So, I changed to this cute dress that I was going to make out of matte jersey and might still in the short sleeve version.  I'm making option C, long sleeves and straight skirt.  I'm told that the fashion is going away from "Mad Men" and toward "Boardwalk Empire" but alas, I'm Joan and not Margaret.
More later....

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Pattern Review Simplicity 2508 and More Pics

More photos of the coat with me in it this time. There are some things I would have done better but not enough to make me not wear it.  I wore it once and thought the buttons needed to be repositioned but turns out, they are ok.
cut my head off a lot - need to adjust tripod- sorry

And no shoulders, oops

I did a pattern review here.   Moving on to next project.  One more dress for winter.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Simplicity 2508 Coat Fini!

Ah finally finished....

There is still a slight issue with the front flare being sharp at the edges.  See the pattern envelope- same on there.
It's a raglan.  I'm not sure I could have no drag lines on the sleeves for a raglan, but I could have fit out more than I did.  The finishing went really well.  The weight and feel of the finished garment is great.  I think I will wear it to work tomorrow.

Looks like it's not hanging well on the right, weird.  The weirdest thing about this is that I chose the collar that is straight up the center front edge and laps over the same amount as the center front edge.  I altered the collar 1/2" as I had at the shoulders and oddly it's nowhere near meeting in the center, let alone lapping.  Even if I measure back the amount I took out it's not going to have happened. Strange.  At any rate, I will cope as it's my first coat and it's mostly good.  Might do one button on the corner.

The lining went in really well.  Looks great and feels great in the garment.  I used rayon bemberg twill for the lining. My other issue was that the way the sleeves were made it didn't leave much for gauging length and I'm usually having to shorten sleeves, but these came out bracelet length- not tragic.  Nice with some leather gloves.

I used a jewelry chain sewn into the lining/collar for a hanger loop.  A nice touch I learned from Gigi and went out of my way to make sure I had.  It wouldn't have seemed finished and lovely with out it.  Of course I did not choose her entry to link, where she made the same coat and the collar came out right. Again, I don't know what happened.  Also, I made an ease pleat that seemed substantial but when executed it ended up tiny in comparison to the total but it addressed the issue called out in the pattern reviews.

I love the buttons I chose.  They are two hole and have a deep bowl in the center.  They match perfectly and the pictures don't do them justice.  I don't know what all the belly aching is about making button holes.  I will say that my auto button holer on my machine makes it a no brainer.  The only issue is that if there is an issue in the middle and you stop, you have to start over.  There's no way to fix.  I might have said it before.  

The top stitch I used at 3.5 and with top stitch weight thread.  I think it makes all the difference in the final look.  I love it. More photos when I have it on with something worthy of a wool coat.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The American Apparel Industry

Disclaimer..... this could be ranting......

I just was reminded of the HBO documentary "Schmatta"  about the American Apparel Industry and it's migration over seas.  It really says it all about the cheap throw away garments that we can buy from Old Navy and Target that cost nearly nothing and are made of .....gasp...... CASHMERE!

There are still factories out there in the USA and Miss Celle found one of them posted about here.
So cool to see factories that are left in America.  When I got into the industry in the early '90s it was my job to manage the domestic manufacturing.  In my first job I managed a dye house in Richmond California and the pattern room of the garment dye company.  We had sewers in San Francisco and Sausalito- everything was local!

Moving on to my next job I managed domestic production.  We had factories that worked with us in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, California, New Jersey and Massachusetts. As well we had mills in the south that we bought yarn from and I got to learn first hand about blending yarns from bails of wool and cotton and spinning of every kind type of yarn without even leaving the country.  It was incredible. And now it's all but gone.  To train my team we need to go to China, Vietnam, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

I was just speaking with a co worker yesterday about her old job with Jantzen managing the blazer sewing line!  Amazing experience.  I loved hearing about it.  She was telling me about it when I told her I had been sewing a coat, while we were discussing our issues with the backpacks we are making (in the Philippines).

Here is a great documentary that HBO did that outlines the migration of the US Apparel industry abroad.  It just happened yesterday- it seems. It's called Schmatta: Rags to Riches to Rags.  It's so interesting and I lived it (at the end but still).

Check it out.  It's really interesting. I'm fascinated by the change of the industry in such a short period of time.  I've only been at it for a little over 15 years and here it is a whole new world.  Almost like twitter and ipad but not.....

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Simplicity 2508 Coat part III + Found Fabric

Last post pictures seemed like I was in the same place as before basically but with the addition of the pockets and the collar we have made more visible strides toward finishsed coat. 

Odd thing with the collar.  I took out 1/2" width to account for the width taken out at shoulder seams.  All dots and markings match up, but the collar does not over lap at CF as it should.  How odd.  I don't dislike the effect and so I'm leaving it.  Can't do anything about it anyway. 

Now I just need to cut out the lining, sew lining, button holes, and finally buttons!

These are plaids from my mom's stash that I pulled out of the storage unit.  This brown plaid is my favorite.  I laid it out with a pencil skirt pattern and found some moths took small bites out of one area.  Also, it was a little stinky.  So, after I figured out that despite the moth lunch I still can get a skirt out of the yardage, I trotted it off to the dry cleaners to be cleaned and steamed.  Back this Thursday after 4:30.  Hopfully it will not be stinky when I get it back.  I have some redish maroon lining and will just whip that up after coat is finished for a quicky project.

Then I have one more dress for Winter sewing and will move on to Spring/Summer- I think.  I figured out that with my travel for work I could sew spring dresses year round- danger.

I'm off to Taiwan, Philippines, Vietnam and China soon so I need a few cotton dresses to be comfy for factory tours and meetings over product costs.  I don't know if you are aware but the cost of producing products in Asia has sky rocketted due to labor increases (thanks iphone) and material increases (cotton shortage, oil prices driving synthetics).  We've yet to be effected as consumers but eventually retailers may have to pass the increases on to you.  I know many companies are trying to avoid that at all.  My advice is find some good quality, long lasting products and you will not be victim to seasonal fluxuating prices- or learn to sew and take care of it all that way :-)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Finally some progress Simplicity 2508 Coat

Fitting is better- Dress Form is much smaller than me
Thanks for the encouragement and advice everybody!  One of the things I marvel at when I watch Project Runway (this is a "Project Runway" pattern) is that they move so fast.  Even when I was in school and especially when draping, I fuss, fix, stand back look, fix again, contemplate, and on and on.  I'm just getting worse with age and lack of deadline.  Well, with the exception of early spring, I have no deadline.  And for the last two weeks I just stared at this on the dress form and contemplated moving forward or going back to go forward.

So, after reading this controversial post over fusible interfacing I knew that I was right.  I needed to use different better interfacing- a type that was worthy of the fabric itself.  So I headed out and picked up 2 packages of the Palmer/Pletch PerfectFuse TAILOR Ultra in charcoal/black.  Then I carefully peeled off the old interfacing: Medium weight Pellon- I hadn't fused it all the way but I don't think it would have given a good fuse anyway because it was all bubbly.  I'm done with Pellon.
Love the crispness of the seams with this fabric
Then I took 1 1/4" out total taking about 1/4" extra off each seam and I took a small wedge of flare out of the side seam.  And the strange rolling to the front is still visible and I'm not sure why.  It's not as obvious when it's on me.  We'll just have to see how it works out.  I'm sure there is something glaring that will pop up from someone after I finish that will explain it and it will drive me crazy forever.  But for now I'm driving to finish.
I love the bias on the cuffs
Very happy with button choice!
Next I finished the sleeves by taking them in 1/4" on each seam and then finished the cuffs.  I used my new machine auto button holer after practising a few times on a sample.  It's awfully zipping to just press the button and have the machine do all the back and forth.  The bad part is that if it gets stuck somewhere in the middle there is no way to go back and just finish part of a button hole.  That happened but luckily these are faux button holes and will not be opened.   I just put the buttons on over the top of them.  I added the buttons because I was anxious to see how they would look on the fabric and I'm pretty happy how it turned out.

The other thing I realized I needed to do was get a tailoring book and read up on the tailoring practices.  My mom was a seasoned home tailor and made beautiful suits.  She has notebooks full of hand written notes that I would wager would be just as good as any book of tailoring, but I do also want to reference the experts (and I need pictures).  I set out to find a copy of "The Classic Guide to Sewing the Perfect Jacket, Tailoring" by Creative Publishing International.

But alas there are no copies out there because it's being reissued in May and so I guess all the old copies have been long snapped up.   So I went to the trusty Multnomah County Library and got a copy.  And the library is amazing because all you have to do is reserve it and they deliver it to your local branch and set it on a shelf with your name.  AND I got a handy tutorial of how to download library books from the library to your IPAD!!!!- which is the reason that I have not been to the library in 6mo.  I got an ipad.

I got a few tips from this book for the coat but it's not super tailored so I'll use the info for my first real tailoring project.  My real ah ha was all the tools that are in the book, I now know what they do.  Because of course, I had/have somewhere all of those pieces from my mom but didn't really know what they all did specifically, only vaguely.  I really hope they are not somewhere in my storage unit because I'm about to buy my own.  Much like my mom's canning supplies that I got rid of and regretted, I'm most certain these are gone somewhere after 20 years and many moves.  Sigh.... silly girl, after all these years mom still knows best. Rest in peace mother.

Next, collar, lining and finishing including more buttonholes.  But before that, a trip to the fabric store with the kids to buy pj fabric- a continuation of the Christmas gift/sewing lessons.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Why I ignore my instincts over and over,

is one of the great mysteries of me.  Simplicity 2508 The Coat I've been contemplating since October when I bought the lovely cashmere/wool herringbone- and by the way cashmere is wool so what does that mean anyway?  Why don't they say cashmere goat wool/plain old sheep wool or something?  But, I digress.  Anyway, I finally cut out the coat.

I fused the pockets, collar and the back tab first. And then I sewed the back tab to get a feel for the fabric.  Looks nice. Photo makes it look uneven but it's a weird illusion- I measured.
It took me hours to do it.  I made one mistake doing that- I didn't cut out the right sleeve length for the long cuff.  So I cut the sleeve too long and I didn't have room for the cuff facings but I didn't figure it out till it was all cut out.  Oh, well.

The pattern is a 14-20 which is weird because I usually make a 10 for knits and 12 for wovens.  So, I pretty much knew that I cutting out a too big pattern but I thought I could just alter it along the way.  And I can.  But really that was my first mistake- not making a muslin, but that's so boring.

Sleeve seams are seawn but the the sleeves are just pinned into the garment.  And that's not dust on the vent it's discolored, I checked.
I fused the front pieces and I knew instinctively that the fusing was too heavy for the fabric but like me, I just kept going.   I finally got all the panels sewn together so I could try it on for fitting and it had several problems.  a) it's ginormous  b) it has way too much flare and c) the darn fusing is so heavy that the flare of the side front flops over the top of it.  Am I right about c?

The good news is that it's salvageable.  BUT, I think I have to rip out the front panel and peal off the fusing and use a lighter one.  AND, I need to reduce the flare as well as trim down the size all together.  I think that will help.  I don't have that sinking "this is a disaster" feeling yet, but it's looming.

Anybody have any suggestions?  

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sew a girl a dress, she looks great for one party.....

Teach a girl to sew and all the American Girl Dolls in the neighborhood will have little pillows for their heads.  These two beautiful girls are my best friends daughters.  Lulu 9 and Cece 11.  They had an old crusty sewing machine that was given to them and alas it didn't work.  

Lulu sewing away
So for Christmas I gave them my cheapo brother from Target- works great but I just upgraded for more gizmos. 
Lulu pressing her seams open
I took scraps from their gumdrop pillows and cut out squares to make a pillow so I could show them how the machines works.  We also learned the value of pressing.

Cece at the machine sewing her pillow, Lulu pressing
On the table is Nate's pill with the baseballs.  He actually also sewed a bit of his.  What he did was push the pedal and I guided the fabric but he hung in there for most of it.  The hardest part is guiding the fabric straight and pressing the pedal evenly- admittedly the pedal is not easy to control.

Cece finishing up.
All three pillows unstuffed
Three happy new sewists with their little pillows
I'm told that they are working on piecing a quilt.  Our next project is pajama pants.  Part of their gift was a pattern and a trip to Jo Anne's to pick out fabric. Then cutting and sewing the PJs.  I should have take advantage of that warm up sale last weekend but I didn't think of it.  Darnit. 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Pencil Skirt- Burda 8155- Pattern Review

So, I've finally figured out how to take photos of me in my creations.  I do think they look more realistic on me instead of skinny little faker size 10 (really 4) dress form.

The pattern is not centered on the front of my body in this photo- ok all the following

Side seam
I had fun wearing this all day at work.  I felt great in it and let's face it, isn't that what it's all about?  Making great clothes that no one else has that make you feel awesome.

Of course I work at an apparel company so people notice things more than maybe at other places.  One of my co workers was walking behind me and said "I can't stop looking at your butt- that pattern is memorizing!"  And then she wanted to touch it.

Back View
You know I strut around working just dying for someone to ask me where I got my skirt so I can say- I made it!  Yeah, I'm that girl.  Ok, see my review at Pattern Review DOT com.

Have a good weekend.  I'm off to yoga- as you can see from this back shot, I need it!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Pencil Skirt- Burda 8155- Fini! On to the next project.....

Gorgeous skirt with crisp waistband (not hemmed)
It's amazing what happens when the mojo hits you. It's like you want to do nothing else but sew as much as possible.  Well, when the new Vogues hit I couldn't believe how many great wearable styles there were.  I realized that I had to get through the fabric and patterns I had before the next sale hit or I would just continue to increase the pile of fabrics and patterns in the closet.....
Stitch in the ditch between the two pieces so you can't see
Perfect Waist Maker
I scurried home from buying an invisible zipper so I could finish the best pencil skirt in the world... First I remembered this tip from Cidell about waistband fusible that's made for waistbands- Dritz Perfect Waist Maker.  All you have to do is lay the perforated line on the fold line, press to adhere to fabric. Sew the thinner side to the waist, fold over at the perforated line and press.  I just turned under the seam allowance at the back side and stitched in the ditch on the front side  to finish.  
Styled with the cowl neck sweater from Anthropologie 
Back View with vent- will wear with black suede tall boots

What made me scurry home from the store to finish the skirt?  Not the Waist Maker.... it was the new rule I made myself about buying new patterns or fabric..... Well I think Suzy Orman was involved.  I saw a commercial where she pointed to a pile of money and then at a few dresses and said: "Would you rather have this or this...."  And I was thinking I don't have either one, I have a pile of fabric and patterns.  EVEN WORSE!!!!!!!  And when I went to the store to look at buttons I saw something I wanted to buy- crap!

After I married up all or most of the fabric I have with the pattern that belongs to them, I had a few non matched patterns to store in the back of my mind.  So, made the rule that I can't buy anything that doesn't already have a pattern or fabric in my possession AND must finish one project to buy a piece of next.... so finished skirt...  bought this awesome silk to match up with Cynthia Steffe Vogue dress pattern I already had.  This is such an awesome print.  I never see anything this amazing and there was only 5 yards left.  Yes, it was 20% off but I won't tell you of what price. But let's say you can't buy a silk dress for that much..... and keep it at that.  Quality people, not quantity.  Now I just need purple silk lining.
97% Silk/ 3% Lycra- weird to add lycra.  At Josephene's Dry Goods where I bought the buttons for next project
This is the next project- Wool Coat...... scary.......
Making the long version with single CF placket,  3 button cuff, debating collar. Fabric is Cashmere/Wool herringbone from Parone Fabrics in NYC.  Can't even utter how much it cost per yard, but they did give deal and the rest of the bolt. 
This is a better photo of the fabric. Button is plastic bowl with deep dish in the center.  Really cool.  2$ each- YIKES
One project finished,  permission to buy a new pattern and/or fabric......better get crackin' before I spy some more fine fabric.....