All Good Things…

Well folks, to quote the late, great, lamented David Bowie:

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
(Turn and face the strange)
Ch-ch-changes
Don’t want to be a richer man
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
(Turn and face the strange)
Ch-ch-changes
Just gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time

For the last eleven years, Gorgeous Fabrics has been my life, my passion project and the support on which I leaned when I needed it (see “Cancer, Chemo and What I Wore”)

Alas, like all good things, it’s time to bring Gorgeous Fabrics to its timely end.

The reasons are my own. There is nothing bad; there is no horrible thing that is forcing me to close. It’s all good. I’m taking what I have done for the past eleven years and moving on to the next phase. I’m not going away, and in fact I’ll probably be doing more sewing, teaching, and traveling – it’s so exciting!

But where does that leave you, my beloved customers? Hopefully in a good place. And starting now, you can take advantage of our inventory blowout sale. We’re selling inventory at 35% off our regular great – nay, amazing – prices. Use the coupon code FW35 at checkout and we’ll deduct 35% off orders over $50 before shipping.

Don’t wait – the best fabrics (let’s just say cashmere double cloth coating from Italy, shall we?) will sell out fastest so if you wait, you’ll miss out..

Have I said yet how much I appreciated your support, business and love over the last 11 years? Of course not – I’m Boston Irish. We don’t say that kind of stuff. We pretend we’re strong and don’t need anyone. But I think it every day, and I love and appreciate every one of you. I’ll miss you, but I am SO excited for the next phase!

With much love and gratitude, and happy sewing…
Ann

Pattern Review: Butterick 6494 Dress


Pattern Description: Close-fitting top and dress have raglan sleeves and front and back princess seams. Semi-fitted vest has side slits. Fitted pull-on pants have elastic at waist.

I made View C, the dress

Sizing: 6-22. I made a 12, with an FBA that ended up grading out to a 14 at the hem

Available as a PDF? It doesn’t look like it is currently.

Fabric Used: An amazingly soft sweatshirt knit from Gorgeous Fabrics. It’s like French Terry married Cashmere and had a baby. Alas, it is sold out, but you can find Similar Fabrics Here.

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff sewing machine, Juki serger, Reliable iron and board, tailors ham, shoulder stand, sleeve board,

Needle/Notions Used: Stretch 75/11 needles, thread, Pro-Tricot interfacing.

Tips Used during Construction: Press as You Go, Sewing with Knits

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

Fitting Adjustments that I made I made a princess line FBA

How were the instructions? They were fine. If you have pretty much any sewing experience you can make this dress (and by extension the top) readily.

Construction Notes: I made the FBA mentioned above, and I gave myself a bit more room by cutting it out to a size 14 at the side seams. I used my serger for many of the seams.

I must say, I really don’t like the pockets very much. In my (very soft) fabric, they fold and flop around. And the pattern instructions show them as overlapping at the center front, so I would probably eliminate them in a future version. If you have any kind of a pooch, they could be very unflattering.

I worry that these will emphasize a pooch.

Likes/Dislikes: Love the design and lines, not so crazy about the pockets.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Yes and yes! I plan to use this again for an online class I’m going to teach.

Oh, should I not have mentioned that? 🙂

Conclusion: Great pattern, great results! Here are pictures on Shelley. I’ll photograph it on me either before I send it off to the class or after I get it back 🙂 More about that later!

 

Front

Happy sewing!

Massachusetts College of Art Student Works at Saks Fifth Avenue

Yesterday I met Phyllis (of CoudreMode Blog, which alas, is no longer) in Boston. As you know, I was born, raised and learned to drive in Boston, but I haven’t spent much time there in the last several years. In fact, I joke that I know Manhattan better than I know my own town.

I met Phyllis downtown. She was running a little late, thanks to traffic, so I walked through the Public Gardens. It was really beautiful – the leaves are just starting to change, and the light was soft, thanks to the remnants of Hurricane Jose, which is pulling away from the coast. The skies cleared later in the morning and ushered in glorious weather.

Statue of George Washington

When I met up with Phyllis, we walked through Saks Fifth Avenue, which, as it happened, was hosting the results of what looks like a Project Runway-style competition of students at the Massachusetts College of Art Fashion Program. It was lovely to see all sorts of garments from the next generation of designers. It warms my heart! Check them out (needless to say, this is picture heavy)

This appeared to be made from recycled materials – plastic bags, window screening and others

 

The ideas are good, though the sewing and finishing left a lot to be desired. Hems that were falling down, interfacing, or lack thereof, a dearth of boning and support structure in bodices, and a clear lack of pressing. But hey, these are kids, and they are studying to be designers, not necessarily technical sewing professionals. So I’ll just let you look at the pretty…

Okay, now there’s no excuse for that tube to be twisted. That is just sloppy.

I thought these were the best of the lot.

And finally, this one cracked us up. This is NOT the fault of the student. Whoever dressed the mannequin put the pants on backwards!

The tipoff was that the lapped zipper is backwards
The pleats are clearly supposed to be in the front. C’mon, Saks!

So that was a fun day! We also did some snoop shopping and I fell head over heels for this Alexander McQueen jacket. I would totally make this!

They had it in black, too, but I loved this. But not for $5400

Happy sewing!

We Have a Winner in the Sequin Fabric Giveaway!

Good ol’ Google random number generator did it’s job and the answer is…

Yes, I know the post says there are 70 comments. One was wishing that another poster wins, so that doesn’t count.

So that means that the 57th comment, from Yasmine, is the winner! Yasmine, I’ve sent you an email. Congratulations, and thank you to everyone for playing. It was great fun to hear what everyone would make with the fabric.

If you didn’t win and you love that fabric, don’t despair! Through tomorrow, you can save 30% off that fabric and so many others with the coupon code INVENTORY17 at Gorgeous Fabrics! If your order (before shipping) is greater than $50, just enter the code and we’ll take 30% off non-sale fabrics.

So congratulations to Yasmine, and thank you all for playing!

Happy sewing!

Blog Giveaway! 1 ¼ Yards of Sequined Mesh Fabric

Update! I just realized I said the drawing closes on Friday, September 21, but it actually closes on Friday, September 22 – sorry about any confusion. You have 24 more hours to enter, though, so that’s the good news!

Happy Sunday, campers!

Thanks so much for the kind words about my Disco Diva Bomber Jacket. It’s too hot to wear it today, but when the weather cools, I’m definitely going to be stylin’ with it! And as my gift to you, I’m holding a giveaway for a yard and a quarter-plus of the Fabulous Sequined Designer Mesh – Gunmetal that I used to make my M7100 Bomber Jacket. That’s more than enough to make your own, or to make a skirt, dress, or whatever your flights of fancy may imagine! As an added bonus, I’ll include the larger scraps from my projects, so you’ll have more than enough to make something, well, Gorgeous!

There is a line in the middle of the sequins – it’s a manufacturing thing. Just cut around it.

The drawing to win this beauty will take place Friday afternoon. To be entered in the drawing, just leave a comment saying what you would make with it. Entries will close at noon on September 22nd. At 5 PM Eastern that day, I’ll randomly choose one name from the entries.

Because of shipping costs, this contest is limited to US addresses only. No purchase is necessary to enter, of course, and one entry per person please.

Good luck, and have fun!

Pattern Review: McCalls M7100 Bomber Jacket

Or… Every Once in a While You Have to Let Your Inner Disco Diva Out!


Pattern Description: From McCalls’ website: “Semi-fitted, unlined jackets have collar, side-front seams, bands, side-front pockets, exposed front zipper contrast panels and sleeves with shoulder dart. A, B, C: Welt pockets. D: Kangaroo pocket.”

Actually, the description is very slightly inaccurate. The version I made (View C) has an in-seam pocket. There are no welts on that version.

Sizing: 4-26, sized as XS to XXL. I made a Medium, which translates to a 12/14

Available as a PDF? It doesn’t appear so.

Fabric Used: Sequined Designer Mesh – Gunmetal, and Black Wool Doubleknit, for the outer shell (good substitute Here), Gray Stretch Lining (similar Here) for the underlining.

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff sewing machine, Juki serger, Reliable iron/board, ham, sleeve board.

Needle/Notions Used: Pro-Tricot Fusible Interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply, Silver M6/Gray Tape Riri Zipper from Pacific Trimming. Thread.

Tips Used during Construction: Tips and Hints for Working with Sequins, Anything by The Pressinatrix.

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

Fitting Adjustments that I made None!

How were the instructions? When I was starting on this project, someone mentioned that she thought the instructions for attaching the bottom band were not very clear, and I agree with her assessment. I did some things differently because of that, and you can see those in the construction notes.

Construction Notes: First off, I wanted something FUN! I had a lot of sequined fabric left over from the Prom Gown I made, and I decided this should be the perfect way to use some of that up. This pattern (in the version that I made) is great for using up leftover scraps from prior projects. I used less than a yard of the sequin, and just about a yard of the doubleknit.

Because the sequin mesh is lightweight and slightly transparent, I underlined it with some stretch lining I’ve had in my stash for several years.

Here you see the mesh itself. The underlining protects the stitching holding the sequins, and adds opacity

I sewed through the sequins (I know, I know. But this is not couture, this is FUN!). I wanted to finish the seam allowances of that fabric so they wouldn’t catch anything I wore underneath, or scratch me. I thought about using silk organza, but then I glanced at the fabric and noticed the 3-inch wide plain mesh selvages on either side. Eureka! I used those for Hong Kong finishes. I was pretty ecumenical in my seam finishing. In addition to the finish on the sequins, I also used a slightly long whipstitch to finish the neckline, and the serger to finish other edges.

Hong Kong, serged and unfinished, all in one neat photo!

I used the same fabric for the bands and collar as I did for the contrast panels to give it a more dressy finish than the recommended ribbed knit.

The pattern instructions have you baste the raw edges of the front bands together, then, matching raw edges, attach the waistline band around those, then sew to the lower edge of the jacket… yeah, no. I just sewed the bands together at the seam line, graded and pressed the seam allowances toward the waist band, folded the whole shebang in half lengthwise, and sewed it to the bottom of the jacket. Sorry, no pictures, My advice is pin things together as a mockup and then see how you want to proceed with the construction. If the instructions work for you, great. If they don’t take Fleetwood Mac’s advice and Go Your Own Way

I used the stretch lining for the pocket facing, and the doubleknit for the pocket.

At one point, before I attached the zipper and the bands, I put the jacket on Shelley to take a look at it. I noticed right away that the weight of the pockets were distorting the lines of the jacket. You can see at the bottom it’s pulling away from the dress form.

Flippy bottom edges are NOT what I want

To fix this, I simply whipstitched the pocket to the underlining on the front:

This distributes the weight more evenly.

Here’s a shot of two pockets: the one on the left has been attached, the one on the right is hanging free, per the instructions.

You can see the results on the outside of the garment.

It only takes a few minutes, and I would say it’s totally worth it, wouldn’t you?

I ordered a custom-cut Riri Zipper from Pacific Trimming in NY. It arrived in 2 days. They (both Pacific Trimming and Riri Zippers) are GREAT! I’ve tried Lampo zippers from Botani (also in NY), but I keep coming back to Riri. It’s just my personal preference.

Closeup of the neckline and the top of the zipper.

Likes/Dislikes: This is a great pattern! The instructions on the band are a little wonky, but if you rate yourself an advanced beginner or beyond, I think you can handle it and get good results.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Yes and yes!

Conclusion: I haven’t made such a fun garment in ages. This one really makes me smile – it appeals to the Jamaica Plain girl in me (Day Street, for those of you who know the area). I showed it to DH and he said, “Ooooh, that’s so cool! We have to go someplace you can wear that!” It is really fun, and I love it. I can’t wait for it to get cool enough so I can wear it. It will look great with jeans or (maybe, if I’m feeling it) pleather leggings to get my 80s on.

Then again, maybe not. 😆

Here are pictures on Shelley.

Side view
Front
and Back

Happy sewing!

Notion Review: Coats & Clarks Eloflex Stretch Thread

Please note: Coats & Clark did not ask me to review this product, nor did they provide me with any product or any compensation. I bought it with my own money, and you are getting my highly unvarnished (one might say ‘blunt’) opinion.

Lately it seems that lots of bloggers are flogging hyping talking about a new product, Coats & Clarks Eloflex Thread. This is a thread with elastic properties that’s designed for knit and stretch fabrics, and can be used straight – it doesn’t require any specialized stitches. According to Coats’ home-sewers website:

“Eloflex is a new, innovative thread from Coats & Clark that sews, soft, secure, stretchable seams in knit fabrics. Special stitches or a serger are not required to achieve professional results. Seams and hems will not pop when stretched because Eloflex expands with the fabric.
Eloflex is perfect for knit fabrics used in athleisure, cosplay costumes, swim suits, lingerie, and dance wear. Use with knits, but also with fabrics like stretch denim or twill. Use for sewing your own knit garments or for repairs or alterations. Have you ever tried to hem a knit skirt or T-shirt only to have it look stretched-out or wavy? Eloflex will make this a thing of the past.

Repairing a popped seam? Stitch it with Eloflex and ithe thread will stretch with the garment instead of breaking. Eloflex is 27 wt and can be used on the top and bobbin or in the needle and loopers of a serger. A size 11 ball-point or universal point needle is recommended. Eloflex is chlorine bleach resistant.”

(If you want my unvarnished opinion, the Coats Industrial Website has better information and less purple prose.)

Okay, that sounds promising. So I went to the local JoAnn to pick some up. Be warned, it’s not cheap. I paid full retail, without any coupons. Eloflex will set you back $3.49 for a 225 yard spool. By comparison, Coats’ Dual Duty all purpose thread retails for $2.99 for 400 yards, which means the Eloflex nets out to more than twice the cost of Dual Duty.

Okay then, let’s see if it’s all they say it is…

The Test Drive
I figure the best way to test it out is to try it against a control: I pulled out a spool of bright orange Gütermann polyester thread that I have in my stash. I used a royal purple Eloflex. I sewed with both threads on samples of Striped Viscose Jersey left over from my Vogue 9205 top.

I used the same thread in the needle and the bobbin (so Gütermann/Gütermann, Eloflex/Eloflex) on each sample. In all cases I used my Pfaff 2030 sewing machine with the same Stretch 75/11 Organ needle.

I ran three lines of stitches with each thread, all along the crosswise-grain, so they were along the greatest stretch of the fabric.  I ran two lines of straight stitches, each 2.5 mm long. In the line of stitches that has the red pin at the end of it, I stretched the fabric very slightly on both sides of the needle as it stitched. In the line of stitches with the white pin at the end, I didn’t stretch at all, I just let the feed dogs do their work. The third was a line of zigzag stitches, 3mm wide by 2.5mm long.

I used the Integrated Dual Feed (the built in walking foot on the Pfaff), and my presser foot pressure was set to 3 for all samples. I didn’t press any of the samples after sewing, so you see what they look like as they came off the sewing machine.

Eloflex thread: Top row, I stretched the fabric very slightly on either side of the needle while sewing. Middle row, I didn’t stretch the fabric at all while sewing. Bottom row, zigzag.
Top Row: Fabric stretched slightly on either side of the needle while sewing, Middle Row: Zigzag, Bottom Row: Fabric not stretched while sewing.

The Results
One thing I saw right away was that the Eloflex incurred more puckering along the stitching lines than the Gütermann. That was true in all three cases. I don’t know if pressing the stitches will release that. It’s not horrible, but it is noticeable, and it’s quite noticeable on the zigzag stitch.

Next I wanted to test the elasticity of the stitching. So I stretched the fabric along each of the stitching lines. I started in each case with a line of stitches measuring 5 inches.

White Pin (fabric not stretched at all while sewing)
Eloflex: 5 inches stretched to 6 inches (20% stretch) without undue stress
Gütermann: 5 inches stretched to 5.25 inches without undue stress

Red Pin (fabric stretched slightly while sewing)
Eloflex: 5 inches stretched to 6 1/8 inches without undue stress
Gütermann: 5 inches stretched to 5 ¾ inches without undue stress

Zigzag
Eloflex: 5 inches stretched to 6 3/8 inches
Gütermann: 5 inches stretched to 6 ¼

Breaking Point
Next, I decided to see how far each would stretch before they broke.
The Eloflex broke when I stretched it from 5 inches to 9 inches (80% stretch)

Breakage in the Eloflex – it took a fair amount of stretch, but it did break

The Gutermann broke when I stretched it from 5 inches to 6 3/4 (25% stretch)

The Gütermann broke with a lot less stretch

Conclusions
In my highly unscientific test, the Eloflex did a reasonable job. Here are some of my initial observations.

  1. It’s expensive.
  2. I didn’t like the fact that the thread causes the stitching line to pucker, sometimes noticeably.
  3. The Eloflex does indeed have more stretch than all-purpose thread, but I don’t believe it will allow you to sew swimsuits with a straight stitch.
  4. If you’re making a garment that takes a lot of stress through the seams, test out different types of stitches (notably zigzag and triple stitch zigzag)
  5. On the plus side, this thread is very soft, and it would be quite suitable for lingerie and other garments that lie against the body.

So, Is It Worth the Money?
The jury is still out on that. I’m going to try it on the bomber jacket that I’m making right now, and I’ll let you know what I think after I run a few more things with it.

Happy sewing!

Pattern Review: Butterick 5466 Skirt

Imagine, if you will, this scenario: You own an online fabric store. You get some beautiful cotton rough-weave panels in. The panels have fringe at one end. You must cut swatches in case customers wish to see/feel the fabric before they buy (been known to happen). So, you dutifully make a batch of swatches, leaving a piece of fabric that is the length of the panel, and 42 inches wide. It’s a shame to send this beautiful fabric – no, make that Gorgeous Fabric – to the recycler. What to do? Here’s your answer…
A simple skirt will do nicely, thank you! I made this skirt once before, but it used entirely different pattern pieces. So here’s a review of this version.

Pattern Description: Semi-fitted, straight skirts A, B, C, D, E, above mid-knee, have back zipper closure. A, B, C, E: Darts. B, C: Waistband. C: Self-belt. D: Front and back princess seams. D, E: Raised waist. E: Back princess seams.

This time I made View A, the darted version with a faced waist.

Sizing: 8-24. I made a 14, but I should have made a 12 this time. Oh well, no big.

Available as a PDF? Yes

Fabric Used: Fringe Benefits Italian Cotton Blend Panel – White/Blue/Black/Gray – miracle of miracles, it’s available on the site still! What a treat- usually I don’t get to sew with one of my fabrics until it’s long since sold out.

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff sewing machine, Juki serger, Reliable iron/board, Ham.

Needle/Notions Used: Universal 70/10 needles, Pro-Weft Supreme Light Interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply, lightweight invisible zipper from Zipper Shipper, hook/eye closure, Clover Fork Pins, thread.

Tips Used during Construction: Sew from Wide to Narrow, Anything by The Pressinatrix

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes, with some slight exceptions.

Fitting Adjustments that I made None, I made a straight 14. As I say, at this point I can go down to a 12, but habits die hard.

How were the instructions? They were good. This is a very straightforward, easy skirt. You just have to sew the seams, apply the zipper and facings and finish the hemline.

Construction Notes: I didn’t make any big changes, other than the hem. I finished all the seams and the waistline facings using the serger

I marked the hemline (2 inches) on the pattern pieces and aligned the bottom of the fringe with that before cutting out the pattern pieces.

I used the Clover Fork Pins to ensure that I got a good continuous line at the borders:

Side seam view

I didn’t have enough fabric to try to match the patterns across the seams. If I had had a full width, I probably could have matched all the elements for a continuous line, but I was happy with the result anyway.

Likes/Dislikes: This is a great, easy pattern that goes together quickly. From start to finish, it took less than 2 hours to make. It’s a classic design that works with all sorts of fabrics.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Absolutely, to both questions.

Conclusion: Classic pattern, great lines, versatile – what’s not to love?

Finished Front

Finished Back

Oh, and here’s what I had left of the fabric when I finished:

Happy sewing!

Pattern Review: Vogue 9205 Top

Pattern Description: “Pullover tops (close-fitting through bust) have darts stitched on right side of fabric, neck band, and topstitching. A: Short sleeves. B, C: Long sleeves.”

I made View C.

Sizing: XS to XXL, which translates from sizes 4-26. I made a medium, 12-14.

Available as a PDF? No

Fabric Used: Italian Striped Crepe Viscose Jersey in Soft White/Black from Gorgeous Fabrics. And miracle of miracles – it’s still available!

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2030, Juki MO654DE serger, Reliable Iron/Board.

Needle/Notions Used: Stretch 75/11 needle, scraps of fusible knit interfacing, thread, shoulder stand, sleeve board, tailor’s ham.

Tips Used during Construction: Tips and Tricks for Sewing With Knits, Press As You Go, Tutorial: How to Flat-Set a Sleeve.

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

Fitting Adjustments that I made None. I sewed this straight from the envelope.

How were the instructions? They were fine. They are written for a sewing machine, not a serger for construction. Also, they instruct you to sew the side seams first, then the sleeve seams, and then sew the sleeve into the armscye in the round. With a stretchy knit like this, I much prefer to flat-set the sleeve instead.

Construction Notes: After checking the pattern measurements, I didn’t bother with a FBA this time. I tried the finished top on and it could benefit from a very slight FBA (maybe ½ inch), but it’s not terrible. I sewed the darts with a straight stitch, then attached the neck binding with the serger.

As I mentioned above, I set the sleeve in flat, basting first, then running on the serger. I serged the side seams after that. I used a 1mm wide by 3mm long zigzag stitch for the hems

Likes/Dislikes: What I like: this is a very straightforward pattern to sew. It has an unusual design detail (the neckline darts) that make it more interesting than your standard tee shirt. It’s a great pattern for a beginner. What I’m not as crazy about: it’s really long, which can be a plus or minus, depending on your preferences. It also could benefit from some shaping. I may end up taking it in at the side seams. Those are minor nits. Overall I really like it. Here are shots on Shelley.

Front

Back

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? I definitely recommend it. I’m not sure if I’ll make another one. I might make a short sleeve version, but we’re heading into fall so I’ll probably wait to do so.

Conclusion: An excellent basic pattern that has a nice design detail. DH and I are going to see Lady Gaga at Fenway Park tonight, and my original plan was to wear my Paco Peralta V1550, but it’s going to be cold, so I think I’ll wear this top and jeans instead.

Happy sewing!