Quick Tip – Template for Fly Topstitching

Here’s an easy tip for your Monday morning. When I’m making a garment that has topstitching along the fly or a mock fly opening, I trace the stitching line on a scrap of pattern tracing paper. Then I pin the template to the garment’s front and stitch through the template along the marked line.
Fly Template
Once I’ve stitched, I tear away the paper. Voila!

For me, it’s easier and more precise than using tailor’s tacks, and it doesn’t rub off before stitching, like chalk lines can.


Posted in Tips | 3 Comments

Pattern Review: BWoF 6-2009 120 Shorts

Wherein fabric gets switched, mistakes get made, saves are performed and ultimately all ends well…

Burda 6-2009 Shorts A funny thing happened on my way to the sewing machine. Fabric alchemy of sorts – linen changed to piqué!

Seriously, I went downstairs to put a load of laundry on, including my gray linen for these shorts, when what confronts me in front of the washing machine, but about 2 weeks’ worth of teenaged sons’ laundry. I was (and still am) unconvinced that said teenaged sons’ laundry would get done without maternal intervention, and since both of them were out of the house, I started doing load after load. Which meant that my laundry, along with my gray linen, got shuffled to the back of the laundry queue, and didn’t get done for a couple of days.

But I did have a yard of Blue Aster Stretch Cotton Piqué that was pre-washed and waiting for a project, so all worked out. The linen is now washed, and it will be the next piece I cut into, probably after I finish this post. Allons-y!

Pattern Description: Pleated, cuffed shorts with faced waistband and mock-fly front.

Sizing: 34 to 44. I made a 40.

Fabric Used: Stretch Cotton Piqué (sold out, sorry) from Gorgeous Fabrics (of course). A remnant of a long-sold-out floral cotton voile for the pockets.

Machines and Tools Used: Juki DDL8700 industrial straight stitch to start, then I finished it at home on my Pfaff and my Juki home serger.

Needle/Notions Used: Universal 70/10 needle, 7 inch zipper, 1 metal snap, 2 pairs of D-rings, thread.

Tips Used during Construction: Press that Bad Mamma Jamma and Anything by the Pressinatrix, “J”? or “L”?, Stabilize a Crotch Curve with Clear Elastic.

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes, for the most part.

How were the instructions? Standard issue Burda, meaning they suck. These shorts are pretty well drafted, and as long as you don’t make any boneheaded errors (see below) then you’ll get good results. As it is, even with the boneheaded error it turned out okay.

Construction Notes: I made the shorts more or less according to the directions, though I threw up my hands and pulled out my 1980 edition of the Vogue Sewing Book to remind myself how to do things like mock flies and turn back cuffs, rather than trying to figure out Burda-speak.

I changed the curve on the crotch to more of an “L”, per usual for me. I used a length of clear elastic (not stretched) to stay the CB seam and the crotch curve.

I added ½ inch seam allowances all around, except for the waistline/facing, which were ¼ inch SAs. I sewed all the seams on a straight stitch machine. Because this particular piqué is rather loosely woven, I used my serger to finish all the raw edges.
Pocket and Seam Finishes
To reduce bulk, I used pique for the pocket that is visible, and a remnant of a lightweight cotton for the pocket piece that isn’t.

Bonehead Alert! I know that I’m (in Boston parlance) wickid smahht. Hell, I got a 100 on the Mensa test. As an aside – really? Come on people, if I can ace that test a monkey can get into Mensa. But of course, I wouldn’t be a member of a club that would have me for a member.

Where was I? Ah yes – bonehead! I was happily chugging away, completely ignoring these pretty red tailor tacks I had put at the center front. I installed the zipper and fly, and I was pretty darned pleased with myself and my progress. Then I happened to look at the picture of the shorts. Hey, what’s that button doing at the top? Riiiiight. Faced waistband. Fly zip. Geometric awkwardness at best. Hmmmmm. That’s a boatload of stitching to rip out, and I didn’t have any more of the piqué to cut a new piece. So I improvised. I ripped out part of the facing and redid it.

That's what happens when I get cocky.

That’s what happens when I get cocky.

To keep things neat, I added a snap at the top. It’s not the most elegant solution, but it worked, and as Jim Blinn once memorably stated in a panel discussion at Siggraph, “Brute force is a wonderful methodology.”

The other thing to note is that for this pattern Burda actually gives you a hem allowance. The problem is that, with a fabric like this pique, if you turn the hem under, then when you do the turn back cuffs, you have 5 layers of fabric at one point. And when you’re wearing shorts with cuffs, that can be a lot of bulk in an uncomfortable place. So I cut the hem allowance off, serged the raw edge, sewed it using my sewing machine, then turned the cuffs. That helped a lot.

Inside view of the hem and cuff.

Inside view of the hem and cuff.

Finally, Burda calls for belt buckles for the side belt-tabs. I have several, but none of them were the right size, or the ones that were the right size clashed with the blue. So instead, I used D-rings for the time being. I’m going to New York this week, So I’ll get buckles there. Or maybe not, we’ll see.
D Rings

Likes/Dislikes: These are very cute. My husband really likes them. They are very comfortable to wear. They go together well, as long as you pay attention to your markings. :\

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? I would recommend it. I’m not sure if I’ll do it again. JoAnn had a $1.40 sale on McCalls patterns this weekend, so I picked up a couple of shorts patterns that I might use on the linen instead. But I do like this pattern.

Here’s a sucky selfie. I never wear my shirt tucked in, but this gives you an idea of how they look on me.
And On
I realized after I took this pattern that the fly stitching had not caught the entire length of the facing – that’s why the fly flares out a bit. I hand-stitched the facing down invisibly after I saw that. Now there’s no flare-out.

Conclusion: A good, cute, summer basic that will work for lots of figures.

Happy sewing!

Posted in Burda, Fabrics, Reviews | 6 Comments

On the Cutting Table – BWOF 06-2009 Shorts

I discovered that, other than athletic shorts, I’m woefully short (pun intended) on summer shorts that are suitable to wear about town. I guess that gives me a project for the weekend. I thought about making another set of StyleArc’s Karen Walk Shorts, but I wanted something shorter. So I pulled out my old Burda World of Fashion magazines (now renamed BurdaStyle), and came upon this pair in the June, 2009 edition:

Burda 6-2009 Shorts

Can’t find an online image of it, so here’s a shot from the magazine.

I’m going to make it using this Herringbone Gray Linen from Gorgeous Fabrics

Which, coincidentally, is 25% off through July 6. Just sayin’

I’m busily tracing it off today, and hopefully by tomorrow night I’ll have a new pair of shorts. More later, and in the meantime,

Happy sewing!

Posted in Burda, Fabrics | 2 Comments

Pattern Review: Simplicity 1653 Amazing Fit Dress

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I really wish Simplicity would do something about their website. It is SO slow!

Pattern Description: From the website: Misses’ & Plus Size Amazing Fit knit dress in knee or calf length, surplice front with ties & 3/4, cap or flutter sleeves. Individual patterns for slim, average & curvy fit & B,C,D cup sizes for miss & C,D,DD cup sizes.

I made view B, the short sleeved version.

Sizing: 10-28W. I made a 12 D-Cup Average fit. I tapered out to 14 at the waist.

Fabric Used: Savannah Sunsets Rayon Jersey from Gorgeous Fabrics (of course!)

Machines and Tools Used: My Pfaff home machine and my Juki home serger.

Needle/Notions Used: Stretch 70/11 needles, ¼ inch elastic, thread.

Tips Used during Construction: Check the Grain on Knits, Get More Mileage From Your Fabric, Pretty Much Anything From The Pressinatrix.

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes

How were the instructions? They were okay. I didn’t really use them. Simplicity suggests basting the major seams wrong sides together to check the fit, then removing the basting after you make adjustments, then sewing your seams. I don’t like that approach. I would rather baste the seams right sides together and adjust from there. I think my way takes less time and gives equally good results.

There is an Error/Omission in the Pattern: Simplicity states in the instructions that seams are 5/8″ unless otherwise marked. In this pattern, they mark 1 inch seams for the sides, 3/8 inch seams for the shoulders and necklines. What they fail to mark, though, is the 1 inch seam for the front bodice and skirt. If you use a 5/8 inch seam, as you would assume from the instructions, your front and back won’t match up. Be sure to use a 1 inch seam when attaching the left front bodice to the front skirt.

Construction Notes: I lowered the bust dart on the left side. I used my serger to sew all the main seam lines.

It's hard to see, but the dart is pointing in the right place on me.

It’s hard to see, but the dart is pointing in the right place on me.

Pet peeve alert! For some reason, Simplicity has you purchase bias tape to make facings for the neckline. What the heck? Are we still in the 1970s? I swear, the Big 4 (V/B/M are guilty of this as well) cut and paste instructions that have been around since I was in high school. Talk about a Becky-Home-Ecky finishing technique. Grrrr…
End of rant.

What I did instead is cut a piece of ¼ inch elastic 2 inches shorter than the length of the entire neckline. I zigzagged that along the wrong side of the neckline edge, all the way around, then I folded the edge over and stitched in place, using a .5mm zigzag, 3.0 stitch length. The result hugs my neckline without any gapping, and gives a much better, more professional finish.

The elastic gives a nice snug finish.

The elastic gives a nice snug finish.

I used a narrow overlock stitch to finish the hems.

I actually kind of like this finish after all...

I actually kind of like this finish after all…

I didn’t get too wound around the axle about matching the print on the back. This print is busy enough that I didn’t want to make myself stir crazy.

Likes/Dislikes: This is a pretty, flattering design, and I love the multi-cup draft. And can I just say? I LOVE this fabric. It’s so comfortable and cool. I’m going to wear this dress when we go to dinner on the Boston Waterfront next weekend.

You already heard my rant.

Here are pictures of the dress on Shelley:



…and back

…and back

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? I won’t make it again, but I would recommend it, with the caveats above.

Conclusion: This is a nice dress that looks gorgeous (natch) in this fabric. I think this would make a nice dressy-dress in a more formal fabrication.

Happy sewing!

Posted in Fabrics, Reviews, Sewing, Simplicity | 10 Comments

StyleArc Jacinta Maxi Dress, Take Two

I love the Jacinta pattern so well that I decided to make another version. This time I made the sleeveless view. You can see the pattern review for the sleeved version In This Blog Post. So what follows is a mini review that highlights the differences.

Fabric Used: Golden Snake Smooth Faced Jersey from Gorgeous Fabrics. It’s the Fabric of the Weekend, so it is 40% off our regular price, but only through today.

Machines and Tools Used: Juki home serger.

Needle/Notions Used: 70/10 needles, pro-tricot interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply, thread.

Construction Notes: I did a few things differently this time. I used the bias layout, which caused me some headaches. It has nothing to do with the pattern, it has to do with the fact that I cut out the right back three times before I got it right. The first time, I cut it geometrically perfectly but I didn’t realize that the “stripe” on the fabric is directional, so the sides were 180º flipped from each other. The second time, I cut it out a small but annoyingly noticeable offset. Third time was the charm. Thank god I own a fabric store! :/

Instead of making the neckline and armhole stays, as directed in the pattern, I interfaced the bindings with Pro-Tricot. This stabilizes the openings quite satisfactorily. I also did a rolled hem on my serger. I’m not entirely in love with it. I may re-hem it with a zigzag stitch later. We’ll see.

Likes/Dislikes: I love the fact that StyleArc drafts different armhole pieces for sleeveless versus sleeved. This one has no gaposis in the armhole. Yay! Now why can’t the Big 4 do that? It would reduce much frustration, and it doesn’t take up that much more paper.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? I definitely recommend this pattern! I’ve made two of them, and I’m thrilled with how comfortable it is. I’m wearing it right now! I’ll try to get pictures on me later, but meanwhile here are a couple on Shelley.
Take Two Front
Take Two Back

Conclusion: This dress is so comfortable to wear. I just love this pattern! I may cut it down and make a couple more street-length dresses with it.

Posted in Fabrics, StyleArc | 4 Comments

A Tour of the New Gorgeous Fabrics

Howdy, campers! As most of you know, the GorgeousFabrics.com website was revamped and updated in March of this year. We’ve been tweaking it since then, and we’ll continue to make slight changes over time, but it’s pretty much settled in place.

Before I begin, I just want to give a huge shout out to the team at Gazungle, who did all the work on our site. It was no mean feat to migrate from our previous website to the current one. Thousands of fabrics and customers had to be moved. It’s kind of like living in a house for 7 years, then moving to a bigger, better, more modern house. There’s lots to move, lots of decisions to make, lots to throw away and lots to keep! Gazungle did a great job, and I heartily recommend them. Professional, fast, thorough. Yup, I can’t say enough good things about them.

Our new website has got some really cool features, so let me show them to you!

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On the home page, there are rotating banners that highlight sales, videos, products and whatever comes to my mind at any given time. Then there’s a bar that has products that we’re featuring. There you will find the FotD, as well as cool fabrics that we’re really excited to show you. Below that are featured products that are new, selling like hotcakes or nearly gone, so you can stay on top of the trending fabrics easily!

At the bottom of every page are links to pages that show you the newest fabrics, sale fabrics, Best Friends (our professional peeps), this blog, Gorgeous Fabrics University (our videos) and my favorite, Strut Your Stuff, which is where our Gorgeous customers show off their Gorgeous creations.

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Send us pictures of your Gorgeous creations and we’ll put them up here!

Below the banner on the homepage and category pages, and below the logo on all other pages, are the links to allow you to log into your account, sign up for a new account if you don’t have one, contact us, and access all our social media. There’s also a search box on the right.
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When you log in, you can see all your information and order history from the current site simply by clicking on your name, which replaces the “Login” link under the banner. That will show you your default address, your order history, and your wish list, all in one convenient place!
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There are pull-down menus for all the major category types, so you can see just the types of fabrics you are interested in.
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Each fabric has its own page, where we show both scans and photos to give you as much visual information about each fabric as we can. As always, we include recommended patterns for each fabric. The Elves and I have been working tirelessly to fix all the pattern links that got broken when we migrated. And on top of that, we’ve added hot links to the closest Pantone colors for each fabric, so you can get a good idea of the colors, even if you don’t have a Pantone deck. Here’s a funny story – the day after we implemented that feature, I saw that at least one other online fabric vendor copied us. I’ll take that as a high compliment – I are a trendstarter! :)

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The serene gray background makes the colors truly pop.

Well, that’s a lot for today. I’ll be adding tons more fabrics later. I just got in a big shipment of linings from one of the best menswear designers out there. And speaking of menswear, we’re having a nod to Father’s Day sale. 20% off wools, linens, denims and cottons through Sunday. So go check it out!

Let’s Go Shopping

Happy sewing!

Posted in Fabrics, Sites to See | 7 Comments

Pattern Review: StyleArc Ursula Ponte Skirt

Pattern Description: From StyleArc’s website, “Up to the minute styling gives you a fashionable skirt which is a wardrobe staple for this season. Make it all in one fabric or contrast the side panels as seen in all the latest fashion magazines.”

Sizing: 4-30. I made a 10

Fabric Used: Designer Rayon SCUBA Knit Fabric in Rose Smoke from Gorgeous Fabrics

Machines and Tools Used: Juki MO654DE home serger, Pfaff sewing machine.

Needle/Notions Used: Stretch 75/11 needles, 1 ½ inch elastic from
Pamela’s Patterns, thread.

Tips Used during Construction: And Now, a Word from The Pressinatrix

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes

How were the instructions? They were fine. If you have any sewing experience, you really don’t need them. This is a super easy, really fast pattern to make. It’s just 5 seams and a hem. The trickiest part, if you can consider it so, is attaching the elastic to the inside waistband. And even that is super easy. The SA instructions have you stitch it at the sides to prevent rolling. I opted instead to use a three-stitch zigzag along the top of the elastic. Both will do the trick; my way keeps the elastic in place a little better. But it’s really a minor preference.

Serged all the seams; zigzagged the elastic at the top.

Serged all the seams; zigzagged the elastic at the top.

Construction Notes: I serged the seams, and I used a narrow (.5mm) zigzag stitch set to 3.0mm for the hem. I got some skipped stitches. I tried a different brand of needle from my usual Schmetz, and I don’t think it works quite as well.

Likes/Dislikes: Super, super easy skirt. From start to finish this takes about an hour. I could see making an entire wardrobe of these, if you wear skirts a lot.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Yes and yes. Great pattern, beautifully drafted. It goes together in a flash and gives great results. It’s a great wardrobe builder.

Here are a couple of ways to style it:

With a knit top for a more casual look

With a knit top for a more casual look

Dress it up with a Chanel-style jacket

Dress it up with a Chanel-style jacket

Interesting – IRL, the pinks in the skirt and jacket match perfectly, but the jacket looks more yellow in the picture. Oh well (shrugs)

Happy sewing!

Posted in Fabrics, Reviews, StyleArc | 2 Comments

Pattern Review: Puppy Dress, And…

The pattern is also known as BurdaStyle Spring 2014-102

Can't find a linkable image

Can’t find a linkable image

Pattern Description: “The delicate pleating and handmade fabric flowers turn this dress into a true work of art.” Yeah, whatevs. Sleeveless, bateau-neck dress with shoulder and waistline pleats. Optional self-fabric flowers.

Sizing: Petite sizes 17-21. I made a de-petited size 20 (equivalent to a regular Burda size 40)

Fabric Used: French bulldog print silk crepe de chine that I got from the designer. Sorry, it’s not available on Gorgeous Fabrics. Silk habotai in Oyster (sold out, sorry) from Gorgeous Fabrics.

Machine(s) and Tools Used: My Pfaff, Ham, Shoulder Press, Naomi the Naomoto Iron

Needle/Notions Used: Universal 60/8 needle, silk organza for interfacing, 14 inch invisible zipper, petersham ribbon and hook/eyes for the waist stay, hook and eye at the top for the zipper, thread, an old brooch for the back of the flower pin.

Tips Used during Construction: Anything by The Pressinatrix. The Right Bra Makes All the Difference. Make the Lining First. The What and Whys of Waist Stays.

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes

How were the instructions? Sucked. I know BurdaStyle says they have revamped the instructions, but they are still pretty bad. Fortunately, I made a muslin, and the pattern is drafted well, so I didn’t need them.

Note that there is an error in the pattern instructions. It says to use a 9 inch invisible zipper in the instructions, but the pattern is marked for a 16 inch zipper. If you use a 9 inch, you either won’t be able to get into the dress or you’ll have a humongous gap. I used a 14 inch invisible zip because I didn’t have the right color in a longer zip. The 14 inch worked fine.

Construction Notes: I made a FBA, which you can see In This Blog Post. I added shoulder darts in the back. I also underlined the bodice (the pattern is unlined) and lined the skirt. I finished the bodice seams and the facing edges with a Hong Kong finish:

Front inside, showing the facing and lining

Front inside, showing the facing and lining

I inserted a waist stay, made of rayon petersham ribbon and two hooks and eyes. It’s attached to the dress at the side seams, the darts, the center front waistline seam allowance and on either side of the zipper, where it emerges from between the lining and the outer fabric:

Waist stay hooks at the zipper

Waist stay hooks at the zipper

Waist stay as seen from the outside of the dress

Waist stay as seen from the outside of the dress

I machine hemmed the lining, but I wanted a really smooth, elegant finish on the outer skirt, so I hand hemmed that.

I machine-hemmed the lining, but I hand-hemmed the outer shell

Damn, I’m good!

The shoulder pleats add a lot of bulk at the seam. You really need to use a lightweight fabric for this dress. Even a cotton would be too bulky. I think that’s why Burda put the flower pin there: to camouflage the seam, since it is noticeably thicker than the other side. Even with thoughtful pressing and grading, you can see it.

Three pleats in a very small space

Three pleats in a very small space

Likes/Dislikes: Love it! It’s very comfortable to wear, and the print is darling without being twee. What’s not to love?

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? I probably won’t do it again, but I do recommend it.

Conclusion: A great dress. This is one that would make a great dancing dress. Here’s a picture on Shelley. Sorry it’s wrinkly – I took it this morning, after wearing it last night.
Front on Shelley

And here it is on the hoof. I accessorized it with a black patent leather belt, ivory silk peep-toe pumps that you can’t see, alas, (Phyllis, I liked them better for this occasion than the pink Giuseppi Zannotti shoes) and a Milly clutch. I wore the dress to dinner last night, and our waitress kept exclaiming that she loved it. She was floored when my husband told her that I made it. It’s a winner!
Puppy on the Loose

The reason we went out to dinner? Because 29 years ago today…

Wedding Party

The gown! The hair! The mauve dresses! How very 80s :)

Like the first picture in this post says, “Love Story”

Happy sewing!

Posted in Burda, Reviews | 22 Comments

If You Need Notions to Go With Your Gorgeous Fabrics

And who doesn’t? Here are sites I recommend and use myself, in alphabetical order:

CheepTrims.com. A good source for all sorts of notions and trims. Can be hit or miss, but when it hits, it knocks it out of the park. Not as high quality as, say, M&J, but also not as pricey.

Fashion Sewing Supply. The owner, Pam, is a good friend of mine, and I use her fusible interfacings exclusively in my garments. But in addition, Fashion Sewing Supply sells great buttons for shirts. Wood, shell, plastic and more. You can buy them by the set or (here’s where it gets really fun) by the scoop.

M&J Trimming. From hot-fix rhinestones for dance costumes, to the perfect belt buckle for your Marfy coat, to home dec trim for your couch, this site has it all. No bargains to be had here, but boy, the selection and quality can’t be beat.

Pacific Trimming. Handbag hardware galore, trims of every type, and this is my source for Riri zippers. They have every size and style of snap that anyone could ever need, as well as a huge variety of railheads and studs.

ZipperStop. YKK, rhinestones zips of all sorts, and many others. Jeff (the owner) is so helpful. Their website has expanded significantly over the years to include notions and sewing supplies, and it’s a great resource.

So how about you? Where do you like to get your notions online?

On a project note, the Puppy Dress is almost done. I need to hem it today. I’m going to wear it to dinner with DH for our anniversary tonight. More pictures later!

Happy sewing!

Posted in Sites to See | 2 Comments

Speaking of The Pressinatrix..

This weekend, she had a sit-down to dish with Claire Kennedy, of the marvelous blog Sewing Artistry. If it’s not already on your blog feed or list, I heartily recommend it. Claire is a wonderful teacher, an excellent writer and a good friend.

SewingArtistry Interview with The Pressinatrix

Enjoy, and happy pressing!

Posted in Pressinatrix | Leave a comment