Thursday, December 22, 2011

No Dart FBA for Kay

No Dart FBA for Knits

Pattern piece altered in 3 areas: Front neckline, bust, front center hemline.

I recommend using Pamela’s Patterns Perfect T for a starting point. Her pattern is made for us mature women – the shoulder is forward and sloped (I think those are the changes she uses for her basic patterns). Her techniques are basic and I’ve made a ton of these t’s with all sorts of necklines and sleeve length (including sleeveless).

For my former shape (since reduced) I added 1 inch at the neckline and center front hemline for this no-dart technique.

I will have to retrace the pattern and figure out how to fit my new shape (this is a SWAP goal). My former shape required a 1 3/4 inch spread when doing a traditional Y shape FBA. I think my new shape requires a 3/4 inch spread (not as reduced as I requested, evidently!). I had this surgery in June and I am still unable to wear a traditional b r a – I’m still wearing a sport’s b r a and will be for quite a few more months. Therefore, I’ve been told, I have a uniboob. Sigh. (Mothers!) And I’m quite self-conscious in posting photos. What is still healing are the underlying muscles – there is no way I can even wear a larger size band for 5 minutes. So I have no idea what my final size will be but I’m thinking a D cup based on my latest attempt at trying on b r a’s.

More info than you requested, but this is about making clothing to fit our unique shapes and the challenges thereof.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Thread Troubles and Green Fake Velvet Cardboard Vest


This keeps happening to me.

With different threads.

Different machines.

Sometimes near the needle. Sometimes near the tension knob.

And NOT when I’ve just started sewing with a newly threaded needle. Nope. I can be sewing along for many seams until this nest forms.

And ignore Nora’s dustiness. I polish her up and oil her well between uses. I absolutely love her…but her bobbin case gave me fits today! The bobbin thread kept coming out of the little slot. Think I ought to tighten it?


Meanwhile, my Koos Coat is growing on me. :) I made a simple A-line skirt out of the red/grey to wear with it. It took me about an hour – no waistband, only elastic – I’ll have to show you what I did. Fast and easy and I think it will be very comfortable. And I made a Loes Hinse Bolero jacket today which still needs a final pressing. I’ll photo those in the next few days hopefully…tomorrow is errands and packing before the long drive to DC on Friday.

Here is the olive green fake velvet cardboard vest I made a couple of weeks ago. Really awful stuff. Don’t know what I was thinking.


Pocket (love these pockets) and button from my wonderful button stash. It’s not a large stash, necessarily, but I have the cutest buttons. I think my grandmother must have cut off every button before getting rid of a garment. I’ll post a photo of my glass jars one day.


Not one raw edge, she says smugly.


This was meant to be a jacket for my 2012 SWAP. However, just before inserting the sleeves, I realized I’d never wear a green fake velvet jacket that feels like cardboard. But I might wear it if it were a vest.


See? Comfy.Well, comfier than if it were a jacket. The hem is wonky, so that will need to be fixed.

And see this photo?


Well, lesson learned and filed away. When performing a sway back, I need to add the length BACK at the hem. Right? Who knew. I missed reading – or remembering – that part of the sway back instructions. So, I’m going to fix this whole hem, which won’t take me too long. I think I’ll bring this project to DC with me. I have JUST enough olive green thread left. I hope.

And totally not styled. I’ll wear with a nicer top and scarf and whatnot.


Doesn’t look too bad from the back except that I over compensated for the sway back thing on this square cardboard-like jacket.

But what do those wrinkles tell me? I already performed a sloping shoulder adjustment – think I need more? Or a broad back (which I did prior to my surgery but thought I wouldn’t need any longer. Maybe I do?)


And, yes, this means I need a substitute fabric for my SWAP. G Street anyone????


Yeah yeah. Hush with the spoiled dog thing. He NEEDED picked up. Doesn’t he always? 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Koos Coat Final





Darn! The rear view is blurred. And it has gotten too dark outside to retake.


 PC202377  PC202379 PC202380 

Sleeves and before welts.


Welts. Before adding the pocket lining.


After the pocket – straightens up the edges nicely. Hmmm….looking at the photo, the top welt looks wonky, but in reality, it is fine.






















I ended up not binding the outside edge. I cut off an inch or so all around the perimeter, and cut out the lining from the hem allowance. I turned a bit more than an inch for the hem. Before topstitching the hem, I turned the raw edge in 1/2 inch.

PC202389 PC202391

My daughter thinks it’s too much in the front. I agree. I think it would have been better if I had not used spray adhesive on the lining. The glue changed the hand, making the lining – well – crinkly feeling.

My husband, on the other hand, thinks it is fine.

I could have cut a size extra-small all around rather than just in the neck/arm area where I cut a size small. According to the pattern measurements, I should have cut a medium. No. Extra small.

What do you think? Wear this when visiting family in DC for the holidays? Or opt out.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Koos Coat: Auditioning Binding



Before I journal the construction details for today (thus far, set in sleeves, finished neckline), I need to audition binding for the outer edge of the coat.

Above is the same lightweight binding I used between fabrics and what I plan to use for the pocket welts. No. Too much of the same. I don’t think the light weight would give the needed heft at the hem.


I like this but it would use up what I have if I have to cut a chunk on the bias. I’d not be able to make a skirt. And I want a skirt. What do I want more? This for the binding or a skirt? Decision: skirt.

I can’t use the red/grey because of the ravel factor. It would need interfaced and that would defeat the bias purpose. The photo below shows the interior of the jacket (giving you a sneak preview of the finished interior) – notice the black interfacing I used on the red/grey. The interfacing is of such a nice quality that I did not have to line that piece as I had thought would be necessary.


I used the subtle grey stripe (under the red above) for sleeves. I don’t want to use it for binding as well. It is my least favorite fabric in the whole coat. It makes a great sleeve as it is very soft and of medium weight. Plus the stripe shows off the unusual characteristics of the twisted sleeve pattern. I’ll show you that later.

PC192366 PC192367

Which leaves me with the black. I’m leaning towards this because I chose the black for the outer piece of the coat and using this will keep the overall look as it now stands. It’s of a good weight to weigh the hem, it isn’t too thick (like the red/grey or black/white plaid). I think I have enough that I could still make a pencil skirt.


[Note: See the little bit of unsecured binding in the left photo above? There are little fiddly bits like this which need to be hand-stitched and fixed even though I went slow slow slowly on the binding stitching. Some pieces just will not bow to submission!]

There is time to weigh in with your opinion (please!). I’m heading off to make the pockets. I imagine that will take me the afternoon to complete between loads of laundry and whatnot.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Koos Construction – Day 2


Plus the sleeves are sewn (they have a spiral seamline) and one sleeve has been inserted. The other sleeve was fiddly so I took that as a sign that I was too tired to do more tonight. The difficult armscye is the one Murphy is sitting on – see the plaid on the bias? It is all stretched out. I need to press it back into shape and top stitch. Notice that the other armscye has different fabrication and, therefore, was much easier to work with.

Construction photo:

I am using Koos method of construction – this is the right side. I trimmed the seam allowanced, pressed open and laid the bias tape on top. It wasn’t the best option. I progressed to pressing the seams in one direction and then laying the bias. That was better


But the best method was to press open and stitch very close to the seam (1/8 inch) and then trim before laying the bias. This is the method I used for the bottom bias (between plaid and black dots).


I have yet to: Set in the second sleeve. Welt pockets. Neck line. Trim off 5/8 from outside edge, finishing bias. Hem sleeves.


Question: If I were to make a skirt to match – which fabric should I choose???? I have enough of most everything (except, perhaps, the solid red Shetland wool).

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Koos Coat – Construction Day 1


Taking this slow and steady.

For me, that means I do a bit and walk away. Do chores. Run errands. Cook a meal. Visit with my daughter home from college and my husband who has the next week off work. This is not one of those projects where I can obsess and work till the wee hours of the morning.

Yesterday: I cut and constructed a size medium muslin. I did not petite it. My usual petite is one inch above bust plus one inch above the waist. I determined that I would cut a size extra-small at the shoulders and a medium elsewhere. Holding my breath that this is a good fix to the armscye issues on the muslin – they were too large and needed to be cut much higher. I think it will be fine.

Today’s advancements include:

1. Deciding to rearrange the order of fabrics. I will use the black speckles as the main body rather than the red/grey. The red/grey does not have much body. I think it would be great for a one-layer jacket, but not quite suitable as the base of this construction because there will be NO sew-on or ironed on interfacing used. We’ll see it in the piecing as the days progress.


2. I cut, sewed, folded the bias tape. Pain in the tuchas (!) as the wool did not want to keep a crease. I ought to take a photo of my process: using one of those 1/2 inch bias turners PLUS about 5 or 6 pins in the ironing board to keep the folds in place while drying to set. I hope I don’t have to fiddle with it too much once I start using it.


3. I ran out to our town’s little quilting shop to be met with a sign on the door: Jeannine and her husband Jean are both in a nursing home and the shop may never reopen. I plan to pay them a visit tomorrow. I learned quite a bit from Jean about machine repair. The loss of this shop will be a great loss. In order to complete my errand, I needed to venture to the next town to Walmart. The week before Christmas. I had quite a mental debate with myself about the greater need – but forged on singing along with my radio’s Christmas carols. Thankfully, it was just 10am so that the crowds had not yet descended, though the parking lot was jam packed. There was no line at the registers as I paid for my spray fabric adhesive.


4. Attempted to spray adhesive on the facing fabric (the silky leopard print) to stick on the wool, but it was too windy outside (and cold!) and the fabric kept blowing away. Rethinking options, we shuffled cars so that we could use the garage. The adhesive didn’t end up sticking very well – we’re debating whether the cold has anything to do with it, or the time it took to fiddle with the silky facing fabric in order to place it properly onto the wool.  (The “we” is my hubby.)


5. Pinned the wrong side of the facing to the wrong side of the wool, cut a wide margin around the pattern pieces, traced the pattern with chalk and pen, then ran a couple of lines of free form quilting to adhere them permanently.



6. I re-attached the paper pattern to the quilted piece to cut more precisely….remembering to place the pattern face down on this one layered piece.


All of this quilting of facings is because I do not plan to line the coat. I’m following Koos’ methods.

Mental note: Cut off the 5/8 inch seam allowance on the outer edge before placing the final bias tape. I’m leaving it for now – to allow this seam allowance to ravel during the construction and manipulation of the coat.

This is what I accomplished thus far:


Did you notice that the facing doesn’t complete the circle? I don’t know why I opted this – I think I felt it unnecessary to have the facing along the bottom back. Hopefully this will be a good decision. 

Tomorrow: Sew these pieces together and start construction of the basic coat.

I’m still undecided about what to use for outer-edge bias and for the sleeves. I have options but I’m not thrilled with any of them.

I’ll take more photos tomorrow of the process. I forgot about taking photos till this evening and missed recording some interesting details. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

More Koos Fabric Planning


I never claimed to be an artist. This jacket is a puzzle, isn’t it? I needed some way to visualize it in order to piece it.

Original plan below:



The problem with the above plan was that some of the fabrics weren’t coat quality not to mention a tad monochromatic.

I found the following two at Fabric Mart last week and was quite pleased when they arrived today.


The newest plan is as follows:


Is that a tad blurred? Or is it my sleep deprived eyes?
The top fabric will be the bias – that’s the reason it is shown on the diagonal. The bottom red/grey will be the main fabric – on the front it is the collar and center front, around to the bottom fabric in the back. The order of the rest are as stacked, top to bottom, with each separated by the diagonal grey stripe bias.

My color key – and a second view which I adjusted for color of the fabric.



I’m still having a difficult time photographing a true color for the red Shetland wool – the below gives you a good idea of the wool textures.


I have decided that I will not be lining the coat. I’ll follow suggestions in Koos’ book for finishing seams. I have to decide what to do for a facing. Perhaps I’ll just let the reverse side of the red/grey provide the facing contrast (it’s mostly black).


At any rate, I spent the evening cutting the pattern pieces to a size medium – but not cutting where the small was on the outside margin because I have yet to make a muslin and I’m not sure about the size. I hear it runs big. I’ll have to re-trim the pattern once I come up with a proper size. Yes, I’m cutting into the tissue. I doubt I’ll make a second of these coats any time soon. Besides, tracing these pieces is quite daunting! Have you seen them????

I’ll make the muslin out of the lining pieces which I won’t be using on the final coat. At least I won’t need to piece the puzzle together just to make a muslin. I’m really looking forward to starting this process tomorrow, except my daughter is coming home for winter break sometime tomorrow and I’m determined to bake some cookies for her, have Sangria in the frig chilling for her, and, of course, a home cooked dinner of oven breaded chicken and cheesy cauliflower.

Coordinating Blue Wools





Just wow.

Fabric Mart.

The floral plaid is a Marc Jacobs angora. Soft and beautiful. I have one yard.

The other is Shetland wool, a bit stiff.

How to coordinate these two will be a creative process.

One option is to make the floral plaid a skirt and the denim a jacket.

Or I can make the floral plaid a comfy jacket or vest and use the denim as an embellishment of sorts…binding, pockets, etc. I could also make a matching skirt of the denim.

I’ll let it simmer until I know.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Simple Tool Used to Set Seam Allowances


How many times do we change the size of a seam allowance or stitching line in the making of a garment? It’s not too much of a problem if your machine comes with an engraved needle plate, but Necchi machines do not.

My solution is this Quilter’s Gauge by Dritz.

Simply slip it under your presser foot.


Slip the needle through the appropriate measurement. (I simply eyeball it.) And set your metal gauge next to the edge.



Viola! Accurate seam allowance in a jiffy.

My only complaint with this tool is that it does not have 3/8 inch, which I frequently use when sewing knits. I mark 3/8” with a piece of tape – which I took off for the sake of the photo above.

I’ve never seen this tool listed on anyone’s “notions I can’t live without” lists. But it certainly tops mine. Do you use an unusual notion on a frequent basis?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cooking the Koos Coat



I received a lovely note from a dear gal who doesn’t like to make herself known publicly on the blogs. She is in the process of making the Koos coat with a sewing buddy (how fun to have a sewing buddy!) and offered some welcome advice.


In response to my inquiry regarding Koos’ method of construction, she pointed me to the book Koos Couture and Collage by Linda Chang Teufel, available for $15 on Linda’s rwebpage, Dragon Threads. Before constructing the coat, I’m going to read this book, so sewing will have to wait. I’m not convinced flat felled seams are necessary, especially at the shoulders. There has to be a better way.


My pattern finally arrived and I’ve given it a once over. I’m just a tad intimidated. :) I think I’ll make a one-layer, one-color coat to start. In other words, I’ll follow the example of my anonymous friend and make a coat from the lining. I have a couple of lengths in just the right weight and length.

PC072278  PC072279

That blue is a bit bright but I can imagine wearing with black jeans.

Below is a length of wool – it’s a bit meh. I’ve never loved it. The real color is a bit more bright – with yellow tone. I imagine it will be a dream to sew with.



The below fabrics are the ones I’m mulling over for the layered coat.


I found the red/grey just last week at Hancock’s on 40% off sale. It is quite ravely and will be a nightmare, I’m sure! I’m thinking of interfacing with a light weight knit interfacing to make it easier to handle.


Next in the stack is this beautiful piece of  Merino wool with a subtle tan stripe.


I realize I have a problem with each of the other fabrics – they are either too light weight or have stretch.

The below piece has black/white threads, forming a perfectly neutral grey. The problem is the weight. I’d have to interface with a heavy interfacing, changing the original hand a bit. I don’t know if that works or if there would be too much of a difference in heft to make it work with the red/grey.


This piece I LOVE.


But it stretches.


Bah! Would interfacing and/or underlining work?

The next one – click on it to increase the size so you can see the texture – is wonderful. But light. I could use it for the binding.


Or I could use this light weight stripe for the binding, which is the direction I’m leaning.


Once again, a lovely stack of possibilities but with issues.


Another idea is to add another bit of color.


The coral/red actually blends quite nice in real life – if I don’t use them directly next to each other. The color below is more true. I only have a yard of this Shetland wool which came to me in a Fabric Mart bundle.


Or, thinking, ditch the red/grey bulky fabric entirely and go with the lighter weights.

Meanwhile, while I await the arrival of the Koos book, I think I’ll pull out another coat project. In the blue. That blue is speaking to me today.


Vogue 2988. Perhaps.


Or Kwik Sew 3095  which I’ve chosen for my SWAP. I think this is a sleeper pattern. I have been drawn to this pattern for quite some time. I could start the fitting process today.


Do you ever feel like flipping a coin to help decide what to do????