Guess the Super Bowl Scores to Win a $25 Gift Certificate to Gorgeous Fabrics!

The nice thing is I officially don’t care who wins!

Okay folks, let’s have some fun! This weekend is Super Bowl Sunday, an unofficial holiday in the US wherein people eat massive quantities of pizza and drink lots of Budweiser beer, if you believe the commercials. Whether you like (American) football or find it a total snooze, you’ll love the contest we’re running. Guess the scores at the end of each quarter, and whoever gets them all correct (or comes closest, if no one gets them all right) will win a $25 gift certificate to Gorgeous Fabrics! You can enter here or on our Facebook page. One entry per person. If more than one person guesses the quarter scores correctly, we’ll have a random drawing to determine the winner. 

You don’t have to say which team has which score, just guess the numbers. We’re keeping it neutral, since the Patriots aren’t playing 😉

To enter, just comment below with your guess for the scores at the end of each quarter, like this:

Q1: 7, 3
Q2: 20, 17
Q3: 24, 20
Q4: 27, 24

The contest starts now. It will close at 6:00 PM EST on Sunday, February 7th. Have fun and good luck!

Posted in Contests | 18 Comments

How to Use Sleeve Heads and Chest Shields

The other day I had a lovely conversation with a customer about making a jacket. Jackets and coats are my favorite garments to make. She asked me where I had gotten the sleeve heads for my Lori Jacket, and mentioned that she wanted to balance out some hollowness in her upper chest. She said, “So I want a sleeve head to put in between my shoulder and the top of my bust.”

I replied, “Well, actually that’s what a chest shield is for.” There was silence on the other end of the line, then she asked, “What’s a chest shield?”

Well, let’s talk about the differences and uses of chest shields and sleeve heads, shall we? This is a long one, so grab a cuppa and settle in.

Q: Ann, what is a chest shield?
A: I’m so glad you asked! A chest shield is a layer (or sometimes layers) of interfacing that gives body to the upper chest area of a garment. A chest shield is generally cut in the same shape as the upper chest part of the pattern. It can be a single layer of interfacing, or, if there is a pronounced hollow above the breast area, you can pad it with batting or several layers of interfacing. Chest shields are quite common in men’s jackets, and they are de rigeur in bespoke tailoring and couture tailleur garments. You rarely see them in women’s ready to wear.

Q: What’s the difference that and a sleeve head?
A: Another excellent question! A sleeve head is a rectangular strip of batting, usually backed with a bias strip of interfacing. It gives support to the sleeve at the shoulder. You do see sleeve heads in better ready to wear.

Both sleeve heads and chest shields are useful in tailored garments. They help support the weight of the fabric and give it good fall along the body. I mocked up half of a jacket (OOP Simplicity 4698, if you were wondering). Here’s the jacket (sans sleeve) on a dress form:

Nothing supporting the fabric, so it collapses

The arrows point to hollows where the fabric collapses from its weight. If you want something that looks more structured, then adding a chest shield will give you the support you need. You can buy pre-cut (men’s) chest shields from tailoring supply companies, but they are simple to make. Just trace the upper chest part of your pattern, eliminating the seam allowances.

Traced off the pattern

In this case I used fusible hair canvas, though you can also use sew-in canvas, or layers of interfacing and/or batting if you need to build up the front.

Applied to the upper front garment piece

Adding that interfacing eliminates much of the fabric collapse in the upper chest.

Much nicer!

Okay, so now let’s talk about sleeve heads. But first, let me go back to the conversation that started this blog post. Here’s a pair of sleeve heads in their natural state:

Batting on one side, bias cloth or interfacing on the other

One long edge of the sleeve head is finished, the other is left raw.

In the spirit of There are No Hard and Fast Rules in Sewing, sure, you can use those to fill out hollow areas in the upper chest. But… look what happens when you do:

It only covers about half the width of the chest.

And, sleeve heads are a lot more expensive than two small pieces of interfacing. So I stick with the chest shield.

Now, let’s talk about how I use sleeve heads. Sleeve heads are inserted into the sleeve at the shoulder seam to control the fall of the fabric down the arm. Here’s the jacket mock-up with sleeve attached, but no supporting understructure:

Note the deep hollow

The arrows show how the fabric collapses down the sleeve. Adding a sleeve head will eliminate that. To insert the sleeve head, sew the finished long edge just inside the seam allowance, with the raw edge facing out into the sleeve. You don’t need to worry about finishing that raw edge. It will be covered and protected by the lining of your garment. I generally attach the sleeve head starting at the front sleeve notch and ending at the back sleeve notch.

In a real garment I use shorter stitches, but I don’t use much tension.

Trim the excess length from your sleeve head (I’m not doing that here because this is just an example and I’ll use those sleeve heads in a real jacket or coat at some point). Here you can see how the chest shield and the sleeve head relate to each other.

Finally, from the outside, here’s how they work together:

Yeah, that’s the ticket!

And for a final before/during/after shot:

That was a bit of tome, but hopefully it’s helpful. Now go and make yourself a Gorgeous jacket!

Happy sewing!

Posted in Notions, Sewing, Tutorials | 28 Comments

Pattern Review: StyleArc Alannah Tee Shirt

Pattern Description: (from StyleArc’s website) This is the T-shirt everyone is looking for, not too tight no [sic] too loose. A great basic to wear will [sic] all outfits.

Sizing: 4-30. I made a 10

Available as a PDF? Yes, Here

Fabric Used: Blooming Branches ITY from Gorgeous Fabrics. I put it up Thursday; it sold out Friday, sorry. But Click Here for other ITY jerseys that would work well.

Machines and Tools Used: Juki 654DE serger, Pfaff 2130, Naomi the Naomoto

Needle/Notions Used: Stretch 75/11 needles, scrap of fusible interfacing, thread.

Tips Used during Construction: How to Flat Set a Sleeve, Anything by The Pressinatrix, Get More Mileage from your Fabric.

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

How were the instructions? I didn’t use them. This is a basic tee shirt and I can sew it in my sleep. That said, I did take a look at them and they looked typical StyleArc. Fine for anyone with any sewing experience.

Construction Notes: I fused scraps of interfacing at the back shoulder seam to keep it from stretching. I used my serger for the side seams and for attaching the neckline band. I edge stitched the neckline to keep the band laying flat. For that I used a .5mm wide by 3mm long zigzag.

Here you can see the edge stitching at the neckline.

I used that same stitch length/width for the hems. I didn’t need to do a FBA on this. It’s relatively loose fitting.

Likes/Dislikes: This is a basic tee pattern. It seems like there are a bazillion of these coming out of the indie pattern companies these days. I think this one was a free-with-purchase from StyleArc a few months ago. I like the shoulder sizing and the shape. It could be a little more fitted, but I made it straight for the first version. No dislikes.

One thing I really like about most of StyleArc’s patterns, including this one, is that they give you whole pattern pieces so you can easily do a single-layer layout for print placement and economizing on your fabric.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Yes and yes. This pattern is very well drafted, and it went together, from start to finish, in just over an hour. It’s great for using up small quantities of fabric, and it is a classic shape.

Conclusion: Another winner from StyleArc! Here are pictures on Shelley. This is a little lightweight for the weather right now, but I’m sure I’ll get some pictures on me when it is warm enough.



Happy sewing!

Posted in Fabrics, StyleArc | 12 Comments

Pattern Review: McCalls 6713 Dress

Pattern Description: (from McCalls’ website) MISSES’/WOMEN’S DRESSES: Dresses have shoulder pads, close-fitting, bias, self-lined front bodice with gathered shoulders and right side, tucked left side, pleated drape, and stitched hems. C and D: close-fitting through hips.

I made View D, the long sleeved, straight skirt version.

Sizing: 8 to 24W. I made a 12 at the shoulders, tapering out to a 14 at the waist.

Available as a PDF? No

Fabric Used: Angular Momentum ITY Jersey – Green/Blue from Gorgeous Fabrics (naturally!)

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2130, Juki 654DE, Naomi the Naomoto, Tailor’s Ham

Needle/Notions Used: Stretch 75/11 needle, homemade shoulder pads from OOP Vogue 8817 Shoulder Pads pattern.

Tips Used during Construction: Anything by The Pressinatrix, Construct from the Inside Out

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? More or less (see below)

How were the instructions? They were fine.

Construction Notes: Okay, so, this pattern looks really cute from the pictures. But here’s the thing – the drape and draped top mean there is a LOT of fabric at one stress point. I made this from an ITY jersey, which falls well within the parameters of acceptability for weight, stretch and drape. But you have a ton of layers converging at one junction. At first I just thought it was thick, with all the layers. I didn’t count them, but there are lots:

6713 Layers

That’s a lotta layers

I basted most of the seams, then I serged them. The instructions tell you to make a casing for the elastic. With all the layers, I decided instead to use the elastic insertion foot on my Juki serger to apply the elastic.

Likes/Dislikes: I like the design of this pattern, but the reality has some issues. There are a LOT of layers, when you add in the linings, drapes and skirt. There is a lot of weight on one corner of the pattern, which drags it down.

6713 Waistline Pull

The skirt is cut on the straight grain. The weight from the drape pulls it off.

Here’s a shot of the drape:

6713 Drape Detail

There’s a lot of fabric converging on one place.

I think to try to compensate, McCalls has you add an elastic casing. It doesn’t help. You really need a waist stay to keep the waistline where it belongs.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? I really like the basic design, but I think there are issues that make it problematic – mostly having to do with the drape pulling the waistline down. If you use a solid jersey, I would recommend forgoing the double-layer on the drape and just do a narrow hem. I need to think about what to do if you use a printed jersey.

Conclusion: An okay pattern. I was going to make the maxi version but I’m not convinced after this version. Here are pictures on Shelley



and Back

and Back

Posted in Sewing | 10 Comments

Weeknight Chicken Soup Recipe

Well, that was fun! I hope all my readers are digging out from the weekend’s storm. It missed the Boston area for the most part, though as you go south in Massachusetts the snow gets deeper and deeper.

Jan asked on Facebook for a repeat of my Weeknight Chicken Soup, so here you go. It’s easy and hearty and nice to come inside to after shoveling the driveway:

1 rotisserie chicken from the supermarket
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
half a bag of carrot chips (from the produce section, not the snack aisle. If your store doesn’t stock them, slice a medium sized carrot thinly and use that instead)
one medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, smushed and minced
3 large stalks celery, coarsely chopped
6 cups homemade (preferably) or low-salt chicken broth
1 bag of broad noodles
Salt and pepper

Skin the chicken, feed the skin to Hoover, and remove all the meat, tearing it into about 1 inch pieces. Set the chicken stock to simmering in a large stockpot. In another pot, cook the noodles according to the directions on the package. While the noodles are cooking, melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the garlic, onion, celery and carrots and sauté, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes or until the vegetables soften. Drain the noodles, and add all ingredients to the chicken broth. Heat until just below boiling. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve to anyone who has a cold or flu and they will know you love them.


Posted in Sewing | 2 Comments

The Pressinatrix Explains Etiquette for Trolls

My dearest Pressing Minions, have you missed your Pressinatrix? She has missed you all most dreadfully. As you may have heard, her lesser self alter ego recently was engaged to write an article for Threads Magazine on Pressing Tools, from the indispensable to the crave-worthy. Your Pressinatrix made sure that her lesser self alter ego gave you information and tools that meet with The Pressinatrix’ hearty approval.

But today, The Pressinatrix wishes to address a completely different subject. Today, your Pressinatrix would like to share the “rules of the road”, if you will, for trolling comments.

Now, your Pressinatrix would, of course, never be subjected to trolls, but she has witnessed troll comments on blogs, including the blog of her lesser self alter ego. And she has observed the characteristics of trolling comments that make them truly stand out. To whit:

  1. Facts Don’t Matter. The best trolls have no time to actually verify that their statements are true, or even applicable to the post on which they are commenting. After all, dears – it’s not about the original poster. It’s about the troll. It’s always about the troll.
  2. Vitriol is King. The more vituperative the commentary, the better! Anger, dear trolls. Righteous, burning anger is what will get you noticed. Constructive criticism is so 2008.
  3. Comment Moderation is for Sissies. Anyone who moderates comments on their site or blog is simply inviting biting commentary. And trolls believe their biting commentary is both witty and charmingly snarky. A site that moderates comments is hiding behind a cowardly technological gateway. Trolls deserve to be heard. Nay, trolls must be heard!
  4. Taunt the Cowards. If a site has the audacity to moderate, be sure to bait the administrator with a follow-up to your initial, pithy comment. Dare them to publish your comment. After all, YOU are the righteous troll; they are cowards. Here’s an example:
    “It will be interesting to see if you are honest enough to put a comment on that is not flattering.”
    How cutting! How irascible! How witty!
  5. Linky linky linky! Be sure to include links to your website, blog or business. After all, dears, it’s not about the site on which you are commenting. It’s about you. Your goal is to show the Internet how superior you are to everyone else out there, and to drive traffic to your site.

My dears, if you follow these five simple rules, you will be the king of the trolls, arbiter of all that is worthy of internet publication, and you shall take your throne in the pantheon under the mountains.

Until the next time, my darlings, I remain forever yours,

The Pressinatrix

Posted in Commentary | 28 Comments

Lori v.2 on the Hoof

Styled with Gap jeans, boots, and Minion Fiction Tee from Sorry for the lousy self-timer shots.

Finished 1

Finished 2

Finished 3

Posted in Sewing | 18 Comments

Lori Jacket: the Couture-ish Version

I like my Lori Jacket so much that I decided to make another one. This one is made from a really cool remnant of bouclé that I picked up in New York when I was there in December. This fabric ravels dreadfully. You should see the floor of my sewing room! I realized the standard StyleArc 3/8″ seams were not going to cut it, so I decided to use some couture techniques that I learned from Susan Khalje. I didn’t go full-out couture on this, but I used enough to deem it couture-ish.

I discovered that I have two copies of this pattern (whoops!), so I didn’t have to worry about damaging the pattern. I trimmed the pattern pieces down to the stitching line and thread-traced them on my fabric. As a side note, my friend Phyllis came up to the studio while I was doing this and helped me, cutting the amount of time to thread trace in half. Thanks, Phyllis! I then cut the pieces out, giving myself one-inch seam allowances. Given how badly this fabric frays, I am really glad I did. If you work with a really ravelly fabric like this, you’re far better off cutting wide SA. You can trim them back after you sew the seams, but it will help keep your sanity intact, and keep your project from becoming a wadder.

The thread color is so you can see it clearly. For the majority of the seams I used matching gray thread.

After sewing the seams by machine, I stitched the seam allowances down by hand. There are a lot of seams in this pattern, so that took the bulk of the time. As you can see from the picture, I used my favored organza stay method to reinforce the back corner seam. This fabric requires it. Trying to use the method in the StyleArc instructions would be courting disaster in this case.

I didn’t use any trim on the shoulder yokes this time. Instead I went for the clean finish.

In addition to the shoulder pads, I used sleeve heads to support the sleeve. I didn’t take any pictures in process, but this is the sleeve head I used. This was a gift from my friend Rosie, who brought it back from Paris. OMG – this is THE. BEST. Thank you Rosie! I need to find a stateside supplier of this.

This works beautifully!

Because this fabric is rather bulky, I tacked the facings to the outer garment at the shoulders, the center back and the sleeve openings. That keeps them all in place and laying nice and flat.

Even with the additional time and care that I spent on the seams, this jacket went together quite readily. This fabric has enough body that I decided to forego block fusing interfacing to all the pieces, as the pattern recommends. The only parts of the pattern that I interfaced were the center front bands, to give support to my closure. This time, instead of a zipper closure, I used a decorative hook/eye tape that I bought at Pacific Trim about 9 years ago. It’s been patiently waiting for the right project to come along and this was it! I thought about tucking the scalloped edges under and using the selvage of the fabric as a transition piece, but when I laid the pieces out, it was too bulky, so I went with just the tape.

Closeup of the tape so you can see the lace.

I lined it with a stretch lining from Gorgeous Fabrics (of course!). That particular fabric is sold out, but there are Lots of Others Here.

A look at the inside

I love the way this turned out! This jacket is really nice and warm. It’s dressy enough to pair with a black pencil skirt or trousers, but I’ll probably wear it with jeans and boots. I really love the closure. I did all the hand-sewing while parked in front of the TV watching NFL playoffs (go Pats!) and Downton Abbey (go Mr. and Mrs. Carson!).

Here are some pictures on Shelley:


and Back. Without the trim the design lines disappear in this fabric.

Oh, and remember at the beginning I said you should see the floor of my sewing room? Here it is.

And this is after I did a sweep halfway through!

Once again, I recommend this pattern. I would definitely do it again, though I think I’ll give it a rest for a while. Next on my list is a McCalls mock-wrap dress that has been sitting on my sewing machine table for a couple of weeks.

Happy sewing!

Posted in Couture, StyleArc | 12 Comments

Getting Rid of My Burda World of Fashions

I just put 16 issues of Burda World of Fashion up for sale on the site. These are mostly from 2007 and 2008, which were (IMO, and I’m not the only one) the best years, with great designs and classic styles. They are $13.50 each, which includes priority mail postage within the US. The truth of the matter is that I won’t get around to ever using them, so I’d rather have them go to good homes. So help a girl out, would ya?

Click Here for Burda Magazines

I’m working on another version of the Lori jacket from StyleArc, this time using couture techniques. Stay tuned for more on that.

Happy sewing!

Posted in Burda, Fabrics | Leave a comment

New Year Pattern/Fabric Picks

Happy New Year! I took December off from doing a fabric/pattern pairings, but now that the holidays are over, let’s start up again! We have some great new fabrics for your late winter/early spring wardrobing (and summer into fall if you’re one of our friends Down Under).

Here’s one that I’m particularly excited about. The dress that started it all! That’s right, almost 9 years ago, I made a HotPatterns Cosmopolitan Dress from an ITY jersey, and that was the fabric that started this whole wonderful adventure! HotPatterns just did a limited re-issue of the pattern, and I adore it with this Brush Strokes ITY Jersey. It’s also available in a Red Colorway, if you prefer warmer tones. Either way, it’s a winner!

Ginger 11251
I just love jeans; they are my uniform at Gorgeous Fabrics Galactic Headquarters. And a pattern that has been made by many of our customers with phenomenal success is Closet Case Files’ Ginger Jeans. It’s a flattering pattern on so many different figures! Give it a feminine and fun flare with our Lovely Leaves Stretch Cotton Twill. You can wear it now right into the warmer weather!

One of my absolute favorite fabrics, regardless of the time of year, is rayon jersey. We’ve received a shipment of the most beautiful, vibrant colors imaginable! I think any of them will look spectacular paired with StyleArc’s Kendall Top. With Valentine’s Day approaching, pair it with our Rumba Red. For a gorgeous color that suits just about any complexion, you can make it with our Lake Blue. Check the Solid Jerseys page to see the rainbow of colors we have available for you!

I almost passed by Vogue 9172 Skirt in the latest collection, but then I noticed the lines and it is Gorgeous! Its deceptively simple, but has some design features that give the fabric center stage. They recommend a knit with some substance. This would look brilliant made up in our Diamond Life Matellasse Knit. It’s comfortable, washable, travels beautifully and wears like iron!

I hope you enjoy these fabric and pattern combinations as much as I enjoy putting them together for you. Hopefully this gives you inspiration and ideas, and tempts you to check out all of our Gorgeous Fabrics. :)

Happy sewing!

Posted in Fabrics, Patterns | 3 Comments