I Am the Lorax! a.k.a. DVF/Vogue 1549 Version 2

This weekend I made myself another version of Vogue’s Diane Von Furstenberg 1549 wrap dress. As a side note, McCalls recently did a Very Good Post explaining why you are unlikely to ever see them reissue this pattern. To what they said, I’ll add that in the cases of other designers, the licensors who used to work with Vogue Patterns have been swallowed up by huge conglomerates like LVMH, Kering and the like, so dealing with their licenses can be taxing to a small to midsize company.

Anyway, back to me. I decided to make a second DVF Vogue 1549 wrap dress. I made a few changes to it, but not enough to warrant a complete review. Here are the particulars:

Fabric: I made this version from Walk in the Woods Smooth Faced ITY Jersey – Multi from Gorgeous Fabrics (of course). This is a much lighter-weight fabric than the First Version I made of this dress (a rayon doubleknit).

Changes to the Design/Construction: This particular jersey has a very fluid hand, and it is very soft. I omitted the cuffs and collar, which I thought might be too floppy unless I interfaced the bejeebers out of them. I cut the hem down to a 5/8 inch narrow hem, rather than the 3 inch hem in the pattern. I used a 5/8 inch narrow hem on the sleeves as well. I’ll probably push the sleeves up most of the time anyway. Other than those changes, I made this the same way as the first version. It went together very quickly, and this version looks a little less formal. This fabric is light-enough weight that I’ll definitely need to wear a jacket over it (Boston in January, don’t you know).

And why the Lorax reference? Well, check out the finished dress:

Doesn’t it look like a forest in the fall?

Bodice detail so you can see the print closer

And the back

The other reason is because I plan to wear it to a meeting tomorrow night where I will speak for the trees. It’s town stuff, and not what I like to do, but I believe in wearing an impact outfit in situations like this. I’m saving the really big guns for the meeting where the town takes a vote. For that one I’ll wear the Red DVF.

When I was setting up to photograph this dress, DH saw it and said, “Wow, that’s a gorgeous fabric!”

Happy sewing!

Posted in Fabrics, Vogue, Wrapapalooza | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

“Make” is a Verb

I make myself clothes.

The verb, “To Make” is conjugated thusly

I make
You make
He/She makes
They make

The clothes that I make are garments or projects or objects.

“Make” is NOT a noun.

I’ll make one exception: when filling in the “Make/Model” of your car at the RMV.

End of the grammar lesson.

Posted in Commentary | 35 Comments

A Relaxing Sunday = Another StyleArc Ann Tee

Today was the kind of Sunday I like. Quiet, cold outside but warm inside, we didn’t need to be anywhere. So I baked bread and sewed up another Ann Tee Top from StyleArc. I don’t have many TNT patterns; TNT isn’t my style, but I make an exception for this pattern (the DVF wrap dress is another exception, and I have one in process).

I didn’t do anything differently in constructing it, so I won’t bother to review it. I made this version from Run Cheetah, Run Rayon Jersey from Gorgeous Fabrics. Wow – for once it isn’t sold out! But it is on sale for 20% off until midnight tonight, so go get yourself some if you like it. I’m eeeeeevil, I know. ;)

Anyway, here are the front and back views on Shelley:


and Back

At this point, I can cut out and sew up this top in under 2 hours from start to finish. I love the neckline (I don’t care for high necklines these days), and this fabric is super soft. I’ll wear this tomorrow at work with jeans, brown short boots and a moto style jacket my BFF gave me for my birthday.

I love quiet Sundays, don’t you?
Happy sewing!

Posted in Fabrics, StyleArc | 2 Comments

Cool Tool – Telescoping Mini Magnet

I was in the hardware store with DH a few months back and came across this nifty little tool. It’s a pen-sized telescoping magnet.

Telescope Magnet 1

Oh man, my sewing table is disgusting.

This is awesome for picking up errant pins, snaps and other notions! When retracted, it measures about 6 or 7 inches, and it’s the same size as a ballpoint pen. This one has a clip so you can keep it in your pocket. It has a very powerful magnet tip.
Telescope Magnet 2
Extended, it measures about 3 feet.
Perfect for grabbing pins off the floor.

Perfect for grabbing pins off the floor.

This little tool cost 99 cents, and it has paid big dividends. Because of the telescope, it can pick up items on the floor as easily as it can pluck stray notions on my sewing table. You never know where you’re going to find great tools, so keep your eyes open when you go to the hardware store!
Check it out - it's like a sewing Sputnik!

Check it out – it’s like a sewing Sputnik!

Happy sewing!

Posted in Tools | 5 Comments

Some Thoughts on Links and Affiliations…

My friend and fellow sewist Renee did a thoughtful and thought-provoking post recently on affiliate links. I’ll say upfront that I almost never comment on other people’s blogs. That’s been my policy since I started Gorgeous Fabrics. I read tons of blogs, but I don’t want my comments to be viewed as self-serving. But Renee’s post got me thinking.

I don’t do affiliate links for Gorgeous Fabrics. There are many reasons, and I’ll try to explain some of them here.

When I first started my business, I was immediately approached by a very large  company. They wanted an affiliation. There was no contract in place – they didn’t ask for one, and we didn’t even shake hands; I just agreed to consider the agreement. I didn’t understand the unwritten nuances, and it bit me in the butt, a difficult situation for an entrepreneur. I won’t go into details, but the good news is that because the nuances were unwritten, I was able to get out of the affiliation without any great harm. It was a lesson that was hard-learned, but I am grateful for it.

Having that sort of kick in the pants has the benefit of forcing you to step back and evaluate what your goals are, while you’re still able to pay the rent and the vendors. So at that point I started to formulate policies for my business. At the same time, several bloggers were beginning to gain some traction with sewists on the internet. I approached a couple of them about advertising on their blogs. As you might imagine, I was greeted with great excitement, and it was mutual. I took out ads and some of them were quite successful.

The wonderful thing about blogs is that many people read them. The difficult thing about blogs is that there are so very many of them. Suddenly I was getting lots of emails from bloggers asking me to advertise with them. I have no problem (at all!) with anyone monetizing their blog, but I only have so many dollars to spend on ads each year. Concurrent with that, I started getting dozens upon dozens (maybe in excess of 100, certainly a lot) of solicitations from bloggers who wanted me to give them a commission in exchange for an affiliate link. What did that mean in real terms? 5% to 10% of any sale thanks to a link from a blog. It was interesting to see the emails – they all said the same thing, with a few tweaks. I had to wonder if some blogging guru had sent out a blast email on how to monetize your blog.

I didn’t have Google Analytics at the time, and even now that I do, tracing exactly where a sale comes from can be difficult. If several bloggers have affiliate links to my website, how do I know who is responsible for any sale? So I politely declined. The result was that those bloggers then deleted all links to my site. I was shunned. That’s fine. I was a bit of an outcast in high school. What did I do about it? I became the yearbook photographer. {big old sh*t eating grin}. And in that spirit, I’ve kept on doing what I do – supplying great fabric.

Recently, I’ve seen some commentary that suppliers to the sewing community should “get with the times” and give monetary compensation to people who link to them. To that I counter, I link to tons – tons of companies from my website and blog. And I expect NOTHING in return. I’m not being sanctimonious. It’s good business. I want other sewing businesses to thrive, so I will recommend patterns, notions, books, teachers, classes, sewing machines (the ones I own, anyway) and other sewing related items. But let’s understand one thing right up front. I do this for one reason and one reason only: it’s good for my business. The old adage of the rising tide raises all boats? I subscribe to that wholeheartedly. I build up a lot of good will with those links. No one owes me anything, and I don’t owe anyone anything, except Gorgeous Fabrics.

Happy sewing!

Posted in Commentary | 16 Comments

Book Review: Fabric for Fashion – The Swatch Book

Though I state it in the Disclosure and Disclaimer page, I’ll say it here as well, because I’ve seen a bunch of book “reviews” lately that make me crazy.

  • I bought this book with my own money.
  • I bought it without anyone asking me to review it.
  • I am not part of any blog tour.
  • I’m reviewing it in the hopes that this will help folks decide if they want to get their own copy.

Okay, now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk about the book:

And if you click through, I don’t get any kind of kickback, so be my guest!

Bookish Details
The edition I am reviewing is the 2nd edition, with 125 swatches.
Authors: Clive Hallett and Amanda Johnston
Publisher: Laurence King
Publication Date: 2014
ISBN: 978-1-78067-233-5

What I Like About the Book: Swatches! The reason I bought this book was because of the swatches. Being able to see and touch a fabric makes the definitions come to life. Three of my absolute favorite books on fibers are the “All About…” series from Rain City Publishing. Each of those books come with swatch sets. They, along with Claire Shaeffer’s Fabric Guide, are the books that first taught me so much about fabrics and fibers.

I like that the swatches are mostly white or neutral colors. It lets you concentrate on the weave without the distraction of a print or bright color.

I also like the writing style. It’s easily readable and accessible by anyone from novice to expert.

What I Don’t Like as Much About the Book: There are a few places where they don’t include swatches. The section on fabric construction, at the beginning of the book, talks about different weaves. Unfortunately, there aren’t swatches for some of the weaves described: basket weave, leno, pile and jacquard are just a few examples. For consistency’s sake, I would have liked to have seen swatches of each type of weave. Because it is a survey book, covering all types of fabrics, fibers and weaves in 88 pages, it doesn’t go into as much detail as the Rain City books. It also doesn’t give much practical information on use of the fabric, or details that would be useful to construction with fabrics. Both Rain City and Claire Shaeffer’s books go into much more depth on technical details that are useful to sewists.

The book also seems kind of betwixt and between. As I alluded to above, it’s similar to the Rain City Publishing books, so it’s good for home-sewists. But it tries to make a stab into more textbook-like detail, and only goes about halfway. I have a couple of college texts on fabrics and fibers. They are dense. They aren’t books that I would recommend to the average sewing enthusiasts. I was a little frustrated that this book started going into more depth, but came up short. It also seems like it can’t decide if it wants to cater to professionals. There’s some great technical information about fibers in here that most home sewists don’t need/care to know but professionals would. And the section on sourcing fabrics is disappointing: it’s not useful for home sewists or pros.

So, Is This Book a Must-Have? A qualified yes. If you don’t have access to the Rain City Books, most definitely. The swatches make all the difference. There are a few minor points that keep it from being a must-buy, but it’s certainly a very, very nice-to-have.

Happy sewing!

Posted in Books, Reviews | 5 Comments

A Quick Tutorial on Gift Certificates at Gorgeous Fabrics

Ho ho ho and Happy Holidays to everyone! Tomorrow is Christmas, and for you procrastinators in the bunch, we set up an unheard-of special at Gorgeous Fabrics. Today only,

Get 10% off Gift Certificates!!!!

That’s right. Today only, until midnight eastern, you can save 10% off gift certificates. Just enter the coupon GC10 at checkout, and we’ll automatically deduct 10%. WOWZERS!!!

And here’s a quick tutorial on how to send a gift certificate. It’s really easy. First, add the gift certificate (available in any whole-dollar amount you wish) to your cart. Screen Shot 2014-12-24 at 9.24.45 AM

Enter the coupon code in the box at the left side of your screen and then click on “Proceed to Checkout”.

Screen Shot 2014-12-24 at 9.18.59 AM

At the bottom of the checkout screen, you can opt to either send the gift certificate to yourself, or to some other lucky recipient. If you’re sending it to a lucky duck, just enter their email along with a message, and voila! The gift certificate will be in their inbox before you can say “Eggnog!”

Have a very Merry Christmas, Happy last night of Hanukkah, Fabulous Festivus, and a Splendid Whatever.

Affectionately, Ann and the Elves

Posted in Fabrics | Leave a comment

Pressing Impressively without Impressions

My dears, have you missed your Pressinatrix? She has certainly missed all of you. But The Pressinatrix has been very busy in 2014, preaching proper pressing in all the fashion capitals of the world…
(ed. note: I wish)
Visiting with designers from Boston to Barcelona

Muy guapo!

(ed. note: Okay, that happened)
And generally flitting about, encouraging sewing aficionados everywhere to press on!

But she is back now, and poppets, Your Pressinatrix would like a word. Or rather, several. Dear hearts, let us talk about pressing that doesn’t leave impressions – except for the impressions you leave on others when they realize that you made your couture garment. How many times have you looked at a garment and seen visible imprints of the seam allowance’s raw edges on the right side? The Pressinatrix has seen many, and far too many from those who would have you believe that they are expert. It is enough to give your poor Pressinatrix fits of the vapors. There is as much danger of ruining a garment by over-pressing as by not pressing enough. This is especially true with delicate fabrics like velvets and velveteens, cashmeres, alpaca, vicuña and even some fine wools. Here are two examples, using the wool flannel from the coat by The Pressinatrix’ lesser self alter ego. First, a seam

And even more obvious – an edge, like you might see on an over-pressed lapel

The good news is that there are a few simple techniques to help you avoid this dreadful fate. First…

Lighten up Frances.

Yes, that’s right. Sometimes you achieve the best results by using a light hand. The Pressinatrix’ lesser self alter ego demonstrated this when she pressed her hem:

Note that the iron does not actually touch the fabric

By hovering the iron a scant 1/8 of an inch above the fabric and steaming generously, then leaving the fabric on the board until it cools, she achieved a soft hem that is deliciously attractive. Using a similar light touch on seams and elsewhere will help you avoid the dreaded “Pressed to Death” look. Sometimes, though, you do need to apply a modicum of pressure to achieve the desired results. In cases like that, a simple tool is The Pressinatrix’ best friend: a paper bag. The Pressinatrix cuts strips of brown paper, wider than the seam allowances, and places them between the seam allowance and the outer layer of the garment.

Place them on either side of your seam line

Let the seam cool before removing the strips

Lightly press on the outside, and voila – no lines!

If you are pressing an edge, like a lapel, you can shape your brown paper to match the shape of the lapel like The Pressinatrix did for the Marfy coat.

Put that between the outer layer of the lapel and the seam allowance and press. You’ll have a perfectly pressed curved seam with no unwanted impressions. Because the only impression The Pressinatrix wishes to leave with you is a good impression.

Well, kittens, The Pressinatrix must go now and wrap gifts. Rest assured that, just as Your Pressinatrix perfectly presses her seams, so does she precisely crease her gift wrap, and that is what The Pressinatrix shall do. So to all you poppets, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Fabulous Festivus and a Splendid Whatever. But above all else,

Happy pressing!

Posted in Pressinatrix | 8 Comments

Marfy 3201 On the Hoof

My usual photographer (DH) is at work, so I coerced DS the Elder to get a few pictures of me in the coat. It’s crappy weather here in Boston, so we got some shots near the tree.

On the Hoof

This is how I’ll usually wear it – unbuttoned at the top

Buttoned OtH

I’ll button it up when it’s really cold out

Good Morning Mr Scrooge

I was going for “Good Day, Mr. Scrooge” but I think it turned out more “Auntie Mame at the fox hunt”

And now, on to something completely different.
Happy sewing!

Posted in Marfy | 21 Comments

Pattern Review: Marfy 3201 Coat with Attached Cape

Well, that was epic.

But yes, folks, after a year, two months, and four days from when I decided to make this coat, it finally is finished! If you want to read the back-story, you can check out these posts:

The Muslin, Part 1
The Muslin, Part 2
Cutting it out
More Tailoring

And you can see the more recent progress in the last few posts. So, on to what matters… My opinions! :)

Pattern Description: Double-breasted trench-style coat with cape lined in tartan jersey, flared bottom, and short belt that emphasizes the waist.

Sizing: 38-58 (Euro/Italian Sizing). I made a 44.

Fabric Used: Bright Red wool flannel and Square Deal Silk Charmeuse in Red tones, both from Gorgeous Fabrics, of course. Both sold out, sorry.

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2130 home sewing machine. All of The Pressinatrix’ favorite tools.

Needle/Notions Used: For the lining, Universal 60/8 needle. For the buttonholes, Topstitching 80/12 needle. For the coat, Universal 80/12 needle, Sew-in hair canvas interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply, shoulder pads that I’ve had in my stash for a long long time, twill tape for stabilizing the roll lines, leather from my stash for the belt, belt buckle from M&J Trim in New York, buttons from Botani in New York, large snap from Pacific Trims in New York, Japanese hand needles and Sleeve Head Tape from Susan Khalje. Thread.

Tips Used during Construction: Anything by The Pressinatrix, A Tutorial on Topstitching, Hemming the Marfy Coat, a Tutorial. Probably some others that I’ll add as I think of them.

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

How were the instructions? Hahahahahahaha! You’re so funny…
Seriously, Marfy comes with no instructions. You’re advised to print out the picture to use as a guide, and you are expected to know what you are doing. It’s best to have a Good Sewing Book next to you for reference when sewing Marfy. Marfy patterns, or at least this one, are beautifully drafted, and while a bit intimidating, they go together well. Just take your time, check your sewing references when you need to and trust your abilities. And if anything goes wrong? Well, fake it til you make it.

Construction Notes: I could probably write a novel, but I’ll keep it brief.

Marfy Patterns come printed without seam allowances. I used 1-inch SAs for the major seams, and ½ inch SAs for sleeves, facings and enclosed seams.

I shortened the length by about 4 inches, to make the coat less formal. I also found that there was a drafting error I pointed out in the muslin phase: the sleeve capes are not the same length as the back cape. I’ve only seen one other version of this pattern made up, and I notice the same issue on that one, so I think it’s fair to call it a mistake. But it’s an easy mistake to fix, so I didn’t get too wrapped around the axle about it. I shortened the sleeve capes and went along my way.

There are a few things you should note if you decide to make this coat. One is that if you make the caped version (there’s also a view that leaves the capes off), you must use a lightweight wool, like the one I used. Why? Look.

At one point, there are nine, count ‘em, NINE layers

I’ve seen mille-feuilles with fewer layers. Be prepared to spend a lot of time grading and trimming.

For that same reason, I decided against sewing the epaulets into the shoulder seams. It would have been too much bulk, especially with the shoulder pads. Instead I finished the raw edges and topstitched them at the shoulders.

I put a large snap at the waistline on the inside to secure the under layer

Oh, snap!

I spent a long time last night testing out buttonholes. Originally I was going to take the coat to Jonathan in New York, but I won’t be able to get there before the end of the year. Instead, I broke out the trusty Pfaff and used the semi-automatic buttonhole feature to make corded buttonholes. I set the buttons so I can either close the coat all the way to the neck, or leave it open:

Note the roll of the cloth on the lapel. That’s on purpose…

Because when the neck is open they roll to the right side. Oh yeah!

Enough of that, let’s just cut to the chase. Here she is in all her glory, on Shelley:

With the lapels unbuttoned

With the lapels buttoned up

The Sherlock look

I love the cut of this

And, the back!

Likes/Dislikes: I LOVE this coat! It will be really really warm. I love the lines, I love the drafting (that one error in the capes aside), I love the fit. Yes, it was worth the wait!

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? I won’t do it again. This is a statement coat and I only need one. I definitely recommend it, as long as you have the skills and patience to do it well. This is a demanding coat, and it demands attention at all phases. But if you’ve got better-than-intermediate skills, and you like a challenge that pays off, absolutely go for it!

Conclusion: Love. It! I’ll try to get pictures on me tomorrow. Now I need something easy and fast for my next project.

Happy sewing!

Posted in Couture, Marfy | 21 Comments