Saturday, May 26, 2012

Lime-Orange Twist Vogue 8805

 Line Art

I happen to have collected several beautiful pieces of linen in white and lime green which happen to coordinate beautifully. I had to edit choices carefully, leaving out a solid white and a stripe with wide green strips interspersed with yellow which made the bright white look muddy.  I planned to insert a cording made with the solid green at the yoke.
I added a back seam, correctly guessing a zipper would be essential in order for the dress to slip on.
A trip to my local quilt shop for a zipper opened possibilities to me, even though zipper pickings at a quilt shop are quite basic. I auditioned several zipper colors (after rejecting the idea of an invisible zipper): a perfectly matching lime green, a darker green, and a white. Each of these choices were quite adequate, but I kept feeling that a green color--way was playing too safe for a fun summer sun dress when I pulled out the bright orange and a darker, burnt orange. The brighter orange was the clear choice.
I imagined an orange exposed zipper – inserted on the outside of the dress. Orange thread was chosen for top stitching the zipper – thinking of the exposed zipper would need to matching thread. Right before leaving the shop, my eye found the very last package of large orange rick rack. Imagine my glee when it happened to be an exact match with the zipper!

So I had zipper, rick rack, orange thread, to go with the three fabric choices. I was starting to think I was making a clown’s outfit and fought the temptation to leave the shop with alternative, safer color choices. Once home, I had to carefully consider using orange elements sparingly. I overcame the thought to add orange edge stitching at every seam intersection. Less, in this case, was sufficient.
Quick construction notes:
1. I remembered, while cutting, to be sure to check the placement of large motifs over the bust.
2. I matched the rick rack across the zipper. I measured the placement of the rick rack (took an hour, I’m sure) but still managed to insert it a bit wonky which seems more exaggerated in the photo than in real life.

3. I inserted the zipper on the exterior, hated it, ripped it out the next day, a difficult task due to the washable basting tape I had used. It was too much orange, too large, too bulky, just too much all together!
4. I hand basted and then hand-picked the zipper in place. I give up trying to make a machine stitched zipper look good.
5. I took extra effort to match seam lines where the floral linen meets the solid green.

6. I overcame last minute temptation to bind the neckline in one of the other linen choices in stash. I did make a bias binding of the floral, but used it to bind the inside of the neckline.
7. Oh – this ought to have been mentioned earlier – I added a back seam so that I could use the zipper. I correctly realized that the dress needed a zipper in order to slip on. Even this zipper is a few inches too short and I need to wiggle quite a bit to get into this. (photos  of me wearing it posted tomorrow)
8. I underlined the white floral linen as it is loosely woven…and, being white, more transparent than I like. I did not line the dress – summers are hot here.
9. Edited to add: I changed the shape of the neckline. The original pattern has a small neckline opening, which looks lovely. It’s just simply too annoying and cloying for me to have a tighter neckline during summer heat. I need to feel what air and breezes might come my way.
I think the  lines of this dress is flattering and will likely make another. Or two. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Burnout Bohemian Kati Koos Wannabe Vest from Vogue 8090



Originally I was hoping to make this into a white linen, summery cover-up. When reviews said it was quite loose, I thought I ought to play a bit with it to see if the finished pattern would be to my liking. Here’s the pattern and line drawing:

PhotoLine Drawing


I don’t know what happened, but I pulled out this grey burnout…


which may have come in a Fabric Mart bundle. And Kati Koos became inspiration for something a bit Bohemian. The design started out with the bodice ruffle, morphing slowly over the course of a week. As the week progressed, I bid adieu to my son after he graduated college and moved state to pursue a career, moved my sewing studio from my bedroom to his newly vacated one, then welcomed home my daughter from her junior year of college, having to nurse her back to health when she developed a fever right away due to romping barefoot at night in the rain after her final exam. It has been quite an emotional week.


I took the front bottom piece, traced it off, cut slashes every inch and spread. Then I traced out a new piece. Here you can see the original piece atop my expanded piece.


I further increased the top seam allowance by 5/8 inch in order to fold the ruffle. I would have serged the raw edges if I had had a serger.

P1012666 P1012672

After gathering the ruffle, I laid the fabric atop the original piece in order to bring the gathering back to the proper size so that the top front bodice could be attached . There was a question about how I would treat the back, but in the end, decided the only thing to do is follow through the design to the back rather than sewing the back as the original draft pattern.


Adding ruffles to a pattern that starts off as wide, well, I’m not sure how wise. I trimmed off quite a bit.


Side seams were finished using French seams. Seams that could not be enclosed were finished with edgestitching and pinking using my rotary blade pinker.


Side seams needed a bit of something Bohemian to tie in with the theme. After considering several methods, I decided to simply use elastic to add a small bit of gathering. Also, leaving the side seams open at the bottom for several inches and the hem uneven (don’t know how that happened, but used that error as a design feature) – the back is longer than the front.

P1012703 P1012704

Shoulders presented a bit of a challenge. In the end, I took a pleat in the shoulder because I didn’t like the drop shoulder on such a light weight fabric. I also took a wee tuck an inch behind the shoulder seam. Making a Bohemian-like top allows for tucks, pleats, elastic responses to fitting issues while adding to the design concepts. 



The final design element was to forego the use of a button in favor of ties finished off by little silver doodads I found at the local bead shop.


I have no idea how I’m gong to style it. I originally hoped to wear it with the TableCloth skirt, but think the proportions are off. I’ll try them on together and post better photos in the next days. I think I need to make a Kati Koos inspired top to enhance the look.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

It only took 9 hours

from doorway

My son moved out of the house this morning after graduating college (yay!) and it only took me 9 hours to completely transform his room. Want to take a tour with me?

From the doorway, one sees that I must share the room with a queen sized bed. I am “temporarily” living in a corporate rental, which means all my things are in storage and the furniture comes with the house. I’ve switched the furniture from one room to the next as our needs change. To make this room work, I moved out the end tables and the low, long dresser, and moved in a tall dresser (for the TV). I might switch the tall dresser for an end table. I pushed the bed into a corner – we rarely have overnight visitors here so this works for now. I threw out the old pillows this morning and need to remember to buy some more.


I like to sew in an “L’ shape, machine on one side, cutting table on the other. My primary requirement was to get the machine in front of the window for natural light.

Vew of area1

patterns and vestal 2

Next to the table, my pattern drawers and second machine desk fit well. I opened one end of the machine desk to hold a stack of “working” fabric…these are the fabrics I hope to sew next. Atop the desk (which holds my Necchi I call “Vestal”, sits my Kenmore which does fairly decent button holes.

closet left

I like having a dedicated closet for my sewing!

closet right

I’ll most likely move out of season clothing here.

ironing board

The ironing board will fit in front of the closet. I can’t wait to move into my own place at which time I’ll make an ironing table! This board is not mine, it comes with the house, it won’t close (something is broken). It’s annoying! I put my iron on a surge protector with an on/off switch, also put a lamp on the protector, so that I can remember to turn OFF the iron more frequently. If the lamp is on, so is the iron. Think this will work?

view of area 3

I keep my large cutting board atop my 6 foot folding table. There is room at the end for my little shelf unit with sewing essentials: lamp, threads, containers holding elastic, trims, zippers, Steam-a-seam, buttons, pencils, and frequently used sewing tools. On the wall I like to hang my scissors and rotary cutters.

It’s a good thing I had this project to tackle today because as the boy hugged me goodbye, he said, “Thanks for taking care of me, momma.” It was my pleasure, dear boy, my pleasure.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Pink and Black Skirt


One of my TNT skirts, McCall’s 7316, oop.

I appreciate the way this a-line skirt is cool in the summer and make it with a material with a bit of heft to give it shape.

Material bought from Waechter’s in Asheville, NC last year as were the buttons – a pink and black, both floral and layered pink on top of black.


FYI: Shoes, Reef. Reef is a great little sandal with a great support arch you’d have to try to believe.


PS: We were on our way to our son’s college graduation - - - in the rain. Lovely outdoor ceremony.

View of the platform

The weather cleared in time for the ceremonies.

Friday, May 4, 2012

My Version of Sham’s “TableCloth” Skirt

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         I wasn’t sure that I’d ever make one of Shams’ Wonderful Tablecloth skirts but now I’m not sure how I’d have made it through the summer without one! I’m sure you are all familiar with the wonderful, whimsical, Shams and her free Tablecloth tutorial.

This fabric must have come from a FabricMart bundle because I’m sure I’d never have chosen a grey/pink/puke mustard on a white background fabric on my own volition! Seriously.

However…it’s been growing on me. I laid it out yesterday to make a Sewing Workshop Luna Top, (Luna in yellow), trying out layouts for the plaid, turning it this way and that way…

When all of a sudden, the fabric spoke and a vision of Sham’s TableCloth skirt came to mind. I love it when a fabric so clearly tells you how it wants to live.

I did have a wee glitch – I used French seams for all side seams which made the corners a bit skewed. No one but you and I would know the difference.

Final word: This skirt is fun! If you haven’t had a chance to make it yet, you ought to consider it. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Olive Green Border One-Seam Skirt ala Jennifer Sterns



Two loves. Olive Green. Border.

The border is a misprint and ran on the cross grain. The bolt was printed in the lighter color, however, when I found this fabric at PA Fabric Outlet in Lancaster, PA a few weeks ago, the bolt had been cut to within 1/2 yard from this error. I bought the whole mistake and turned it into a Jennifer Stern One-Seam Skirt, using as much of the dark olive as possible.


Can you see the bit of iridescence (and cat hair)? The fabric was lovely to work with – like a light weight linen. Almost every bolt of fashion fabric at PA Fabric Outlets is marked 100% polyester. A few bolts reported “rayon poly.” This is obviously not 100% poly. It’s lightweight – really light – but has a thick weave so that I decided it was unnecessary to line it, but perhaps I ought to have for durability. Ah well, I can always wear a slip.

If you haven’t taken the time to draft one of these one-seam skirts, do yourself a favor and set aside 30 minutes to do so. This is an elastic-waist skirt with deep side seam darts with additional darts front and back for shaping and works very well in knits. The darts take away the extra bulk around the elastic waist. Once drafted, you can have yourself a skirt in an hour, start to finish.

Since this skirt is woven rather than knit, I made quite a few changes.

First, I added an invisible zipper which is not necessary when making this in knits. I reinforced the seams with interfacing (you will see the interfacing in a photo below).


Second, I added side seams because I cut this too large. I was trying to accommodate the few pounds I’ve put on since drafting the original skirt. The skirt pattern has deep side darts so I simply tried the skirt on inside-out and pinched out the excess and sewed the seam about 1/2 wide.

Third, I had to change the waistline finishing from the elastic called for in the original pattern. I used elastic on the back waist and used a grosgrain ribbon to finish the front waistline (and remembered at the last minute to only sew the uppermost portion of the ribbon!). I opted for elastic on the back for comfort’s sake. I find a whole-ribbon waistline a bit restricting and terribly uncomfortable. The touch of elastic (I stretched it only an inch or so) makes the skirt so much more wearable.

back waist front waist

Fourth, I added a kick pleat.


(Funny how photos show what the naked eye does not! See the iron imprints?)

Think a kick pleat is difficult? Think again. Look below at the simplicity of the shape needed for the kick pleat:



To make this pleat, I cut identical back seams, allowing 3 inches wide and originally cutting the pleat portion much longer than shown. You will need to measure where you want the top of your pleat as you don’t want it too high. [Mental note: make a mark on the pattern to show the cutting height of this pleat as I think it’s a perfect depth for me.] Sew your back seam from the zipper stop to the pleat. I then finished the pleat side seams by turning under a scant 1/4 inch and turning again so that I would have no raw edges. This fabric is very light weight, as I said, and this double turn did not add bulk. Otherwise, I’d probably turn once and zigzag the edges (at times like these, a serger would come in very handy!). Clip one side seam at the top of the pleat as shown, fold the pleat following the original center back seam line. Be sure to line this up precisely. I think some patterns have you baste this seam, but this fabric behaved so well, I found that unnecessary. Finally, sew the top of the pleat through all three layers, starting EXACTLY at the CB seam.


I pulled my thread to the back and knotted off.


I mitered the top (outside) pleat before hemming.


I like to use hem tape to finish my hems. I find it hems with less bulk and just seams like the thing to do. After seeing these photos, I think I need to tweak the under pleat – it appears just a wee tad too long, doesn’t it? But perhaps it’s the way I laid it out. I’ll aim for photos with me wearing it soon – today is cold and rainy and I’ve merely changed out of jammies to sweats this morning.

Making this skirt took longer than an hour, that’s for sure!

Oh – and am I pulling my hem stitches too tightly? Or is that simply the light’s reflection making the skirt appear puckered?  Or perhaps I need to press. I’ve learned to NOT press my hems but to allow them to hang as turned. I think I may have neglected to press the hem stitching.

I have a stack of light weight fabrics calling my name….especially this floral purchased at PA Fabric Outlet – marked 100% poly (of course) but it has a slight stretch so there’s something other than poly going on. I’m thinking wrap skirt or A-line skirt for my son’s college graduation. I love wrap skirts but sitting in them and maintaining modesty is a full-time endeavor. I’ll probably opt out of the wrap and think A-line for comfort.


What do you think about one of these jewel tones for a coordinating top? I made a muslin of a Burda pattern, but don’t love it so I’m back on the hunt for a pattern.