Yesterday I received a rather odd email. Here’s the text, though I’ve removed all identifying information.
I’m just letting you know of something that recently happened to me regarding XYZ and why I am not ordering fabric online any longer from anyone.
I ordered 3 items online from XYZ. The order went through perfectly, and according to the receipt, I would be charged for the 3 items plus shipping. However, when the order came in, there were only 2 items in the shipment. I called XYZ to find out what happened and was told that the 3rd item was sold out. When I checked my bank statement online, I was charged for 2 items plus shipping on 3 items. XYZ did not reduce the shipping; therefore, I told them I would not be ordering fabric online any longer and that I would advise all my sewing friends, my club, and the American Sewing Guild of their deceitful practices.
I figured she had sent the email to me by mistake, meaning it to go to the company in question, so I sent her back a quick note, assuming that would be the end of it:
Hi [name redacted],
I’m very sorry to hear that happened to you. This is not XYZ. I think you should let them know, I’m sure they would want to be aware of it.
To my surprise, I immediately received this email back:
I am well aware that you are not XYZ, and I did let them know. I am letting everyone know, every person, every fabrics company, every sewing organization in the state and country. Taking advantage of people is reason to put them out of business.
This is the second time I’ve received an email like this. The first was castigating a colleague who was a professional dressmaker. It devastated her, and it angered me, because I know she was a very hard worker and a solid professional. The company in question here is a long-time business that has a good reputation, though I know from personal experience that no matter how hard you try, sometimes mistakes are made, and customers end up unhappy. Any good business, including the one in question here, tries to take care of things. If you have a problem with a company, there are means of getting your complaint heard. First, work with them, and if the solution isn’t satisfactory, tell them. There’s also Yelp, Angie’s List, BBB… the list goes on and on. And if all else fails, you can open a dispute with your credit card company.
But please, don’t send me emails excoriating another company. I have nothing to do with the operation. I can’t help you, and I’m not likely to feel much sympathy.
I have to take Hoover to the vet this afternoon. Poor old boy is acting very creaky so we want to see if he’s in any pain or if there is something we can give him to soothe his joints. But tomorrow – Copenhagen and Maria!
I have SO much to share with you! London! Saville Row! Balenciaga! Diamonds! Melissa!!
And then there’s Copenhagen… But that’s for another post.
DH got notification about a month ago that he had to go to his company’s user meeting in Copenhagen, so guess who decided to tag along? And since we were able to get flights through Heathrow that let us stay for a few days without having to pay any penalties, we stopped in London as well.
So enough of me yammering, here are pictures. Lots of pictures:
We did all the touristy things
So that was all great, but even better was Savile Row!
And while I was there, I met Melissa Fehr of Fehr Trade Patterns, and we went to the Balenciaga Exhibit at the V&A, had Cream Tea in the amazing cafeteria, and then had dinner on her boat. What a WONDERFUL day!!!
Okay, there were two other things that stood out in London. First one, while we were there, it was World Naked Bike Ride Day. At one point, somewhere in the vicinity of 500 naked or mostly-naked cyclists came riding by our cab. It was awesome! It was a really sunny day, and I think a whole lot of folks were going to be really sunburnt at the end of it. My only quibble with it? A lot (a LOT) of them were on the city rental bikes. Sorry – there’s not enough Purell in the world…
And the absolute BEST part of the entire trip…
There is a longer story, and I won’t relate it here, though if you ever want to hear it, I’ll be happy to tell it to you over a glass of champagne or a cup of coffee. The Reader’s Digest version is that we stopped on New Bond Street so I could take pictures of the Sotheby’s Diamonds‘ window to send to the girls back home.
The guard came out to chat, we had a lovely discussion and laughed a lot, and he invited us in. Who am I to say no? After being admitted through (no kidding) an airlock, DH and I got our chemistry nerd on with the gemologist salesman.
After talking for about 20 minutes about the chemistry, physics and cutting of diamonds, he brought us back around to the canary diamond that was at front and center:
We talked about colored diamonds and it turns out that Canary stones are the most “common” of colored diamonds. Ask me why and it’ll be obvious once you know ;).
Anyway, after we discussed various elements in colored stones, he pointed to the Enigma and asked me, “Would you like to try it on?”
What am I going to say, no? OF COURSE I want to try it on! But I did say, with what I hoped was an apologetic look, “I’m not going to buy it.” He was so gracious, and said, “That’s fine. We’re trying to establish our brand so if you would be so kind as to put it up on social media and hashtag #sothebysdiamonds I would be very grateful.”
So here you go. Let’s face it – I make this beauty look even better! 😀
I wore it around the sales floor for about half an hour while we talked about different diamond types and all sorts of nerdy chemistry stuff that I can’t believe I still remember.
That was my Big Adventure in London! No, I didn’t buy it, but if you want it, it’s available for roughly $7.5M at the current exchange rates. Trust me, if I ever hit the lottery, I’m going to SO own it!
Here’s an easy little tip I learned from the local tailor in town. When stitching buttons onto a garment, most noticeably buttons that have two holes, match the direction of the button’s stitching holes to the direction of the buttonhole. This eliminates distortion of your buttonhole and extra stress on the threads attaching the button, especially if you are making a shirt or shirt dress. Now, mind you, it’s a little thing on many fabrics, but if it’s something you want to have for years, why not make sure it will last without undue stress, right? Think of it as sewing mindfulness.
Pattern Description: From McCalls’ website, “Semi-fitted collared shirt and dresses have front and back princess seams, front and back yoke, sleeve and length variations. A: Shirttail hem. A, B, C: Long sleeves with pleat and button cuff. A, C, D: Pockets. C, D: Self-belt. C: Button tabs. D: Sleeveless.”
I made View D, but I cut it off at the length for View C and omitted the breast pockets and self-belt.
Needle/Notions Used: Fusible interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply. I don’t see this one on the site, so it may be discontinued, but I would use ProSheer Elegance. Universal 70/10 needle, iron, ironing board, sleeve board, silk organza press cloth, buttons, thread.
Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes, though mine is shorter than the pattern as sold.
Fitting Adjustments that I made This is a Palmer/Pletsch pattern, which gives loads of instructions and lines on the pattern for adjusting the fit. I love these patterns for that reason. I made a straight up muslin and it fit pretty well, but not perfectly. I made a full bust adjustment, along with a small swayback adjustment. The FBA gave me more ease through the waist, so I’ll probably wear this with a belt, though it looks nice without one. I also adjusted the left shoulder to remove gapping at the back of the armhole thanks to a skiing accident 6 years ago.
How were the instructions? Good. This is a pretty straightforward design, and the Palmer-Pletsch fitting instructions are always excellent.
Construction Notes: The stripes on this fabric run from selvage to selvage, so I used a cross-grain layout. I toyed with the idea of cutting the center front bands and yokes on the bias, but I decided to go with the straight grain/cross grain instead.
I sewed the seams with a 2.5 mm stitch, and used a 3-thread overlock stitch to finish all the raw edges. I didn’t bother to topstitch the princess seams because I wanted to keep the look more airy than structured. I used a selvage of silk organza to stabilize the bias opening edge of the pockets.
One thing I noted on my Instagram Feed is that, when dealing with bias facings, like those used on this pattern, you need to treat them gently so they don’t stretch out too much in advance of sewing them in place. In this case, I cut out the fabric a couple of weeks ago, and in the moving around of pattern pieces over that time, one of the facings got stretched way out. Fortunately I had enough fabric to re-cut, but it’s worth keeping bias pieces out of the way and out of traffic. And when sewing and pressing them, treat them kindly and don’t apply too much tension or pressure to them. You’ll be glad you did.
I turned up the hem, trimmed it to 5/8″ and made a narrow hem. For that, and all topstitching, I used a 3.5 mm stitch length.
Likes/Dislikes: This pattern is very well drafted, and as noted above, the fitting instructions are excellent.
Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? I probably won’t do it again, just because I have lots of other patterns I want to make. But I will be traveling this summer and this will be coming with me. I definitely recommend it.
Conclusion: A great pattern! Here are pictures on Shelley:
Haven’t been doing much sewing lately because…
DS the Elder graduated from UMass! What a wonderful Mother’s Day gift that was. I wore my Butterick B6446 and my Vogue V1527 coat. One of the physics professors (his major) stopped me in the hallway to say, “That’s a beautiful coat!” That made my day 😊
After the Paco Peralta Coat, I wanted something easy, so I rummaged through my pattern stash and came up with McCalls 7249. It’s getting warmer and I thought the sleeveless version would be nice. It only has 3 pattern pieces, so even better!
The pattern calls for “Jerseys, Cotton Knit, Silk Spun Knit.” I used rayon jersey left over from last year’s (successful) Butterick Jumpsuit.
The front piece has two overlays that are gathered into the side seams. That’s where the first issue showed up. The overlays are self-faced on both the top and bottom. That’s where the second issue showed up. They are both sewn at the neckline to the v-necked under piece. That’s where the third problem showed up. The pattern is “designed” to be with sleeves or sleeveless, using the same front and back pieces. That’s where the fourth problem showed up.
As I gathered the overlay, I thought, “That’s an awful lot of fabric going into the side seams.” There are three layers, the middle of which is about a 3:1 gathering ratio. That’s a lot of bulk, even in a lightweight fabric. Another issue I noticed was that the gathered side pooched out at the top.
Second problem, and this was a real issue with my fabric: the overlays are self-faced on the top and the bottom. The facing on the bottom is about 1 ¼ inches deep. With my nice soft rayon jersey, the facing kept falling down, so I ended up sewing the facing in place, which IMO ruins the line.
Also, the upper facing kept flipping outward as well. This was on a dress form, so you can imagine how often I would be tucking it back in during the course of a day.
As you can see from this picture, the third problem appeared at the neckline. The weight of the two overlays pulled the under-bodice to the outside. I tried every which way from Sunday to fix it, but nothing worked. It kept falling outward no matter what I did.
The fourth problem is that McCalls doesn’t give a separate armhole for the sleeveless version, so the armhole gaps like crazy. I should have anticipated this, but if you recall at the beginning I said I was looking for something easy.
Before hemming it, I decided to try it on and see how I liked it.
The good news is I saved myself hemming it. This one is going straight to the fabric recycler in our town. Here are better lit shots on Shelley. You can decide for yourself if you think this is worth your time.
Well, not everything turns out to be a winner, even in my sewing room. I always ask the questions in reviews, “Would you sew it again, and would you recommend it?” Unfortunately with this one, the answer to both questions is “No.”
Reviews like this are never fun to write, but hopefully they are helpful. It doesn’t make me hate McCalls. In fact my next project is a Palmer/Pletsch shirtdress that I’ll make with a fabulous Textured Cotton Shirt-Weight from Gorgeous Fabrics. More on that later.
Happy May, everyone! It’s been a busy several weeks, with work, teaching a very fun seminar (“The Pressinatrix Live!”) for ASDP, and all sorts of things going on. One of the biggest things that is coming up is that DS the Elder is about to graduate from college.
Oh. My. God.
And of course, I had to make something to wear. I made my Butterick 6446 Dress for Easter, but Easter here in Boston was 87 degrees, and we had dinner out on the deck, so rather than sweating in my new dress I decided to save it for wearing to the graduation. Now, since mid-May Boston weather is notoriously fickle, I wanted to make something to wear over it, and after some thought I decided to make a spring version of Paco Peralta’s V1527. I’ve made this before in a heavy wool crepe, so I didn’t make any major changes. I’ll highlight the few differences. First, I shortened it by about an inch.
I made this version from a twill satin from Gorgeous Fabrics. That is long since sold out, but you can find Similar Fabrics Here. It’s got a lot of body, and it stands away from the body. It’s not heavy but it has a pretty stiff hand. This fabric, while lovely, was NOT interested in easing.
It doesn’t shrink and while it didn’t catch and get tucks under the stitching, it also wouldn’t ease into the armhole smoothly. If I were to do it again, I would probably do a slightly different sleeve-head treatment – maybe a darted sleeve head. As it is, it turned out okay, but I’m not really happy with it. You can see why in the detail shot of the shoulder:
Good afternoon, campers! I’ve been busy as can be on several things. You’ll see the fruits of my labors over the next days, and if you follow me on Instagram you can see the slow progress I’m making on my current project. But in the meanwhile, here’s a post that everyone seems to love: Gorgeous Fabrics/pattern combinations to make your own versions of the most current trends in fashion!
All the top models are sporting denim this spring, but not the skinny jeans that have been so ubiquitous in the last couple of years. No, the silhouettes range from voluminous dresses worthy of Tilda Swinton to denim “suits” done up with mom-jeans and jean jackets. My personal favorite is the one that Vogue showed on model Frederikke Sofie in Paris: an easy coat thrown over a denim jumpsuit. Make your very own version by pairing Stretch Denim – Black Wash with McCalls M7330 jumpsuit. Finish it off with a chic topper made by combining Italian Suit Weight Flannel – Black with Burda Style 01/2016 #127 Shell Jacket. You’ll have a look you can wear three seasons of the year! (skip the cigarette, though)
The blush pink trend that launched in 2016 shows no signs of abating. A look I love takes a mannish suit and makes it in pink. The pink tones down the androgyny while the androgynous cut of the suit takes away any saccharine tendencies of the pink. To get the look, pair our Italian Double Faced Satin – Peach Puree/Blossom Pink with Named Patterns’ Aava Tailored Blazer and StyleArc’s Eddie Pleated Pants. Now, that’s a uniform for a tough-gal princess. Oh, and an added bonus – if you don’t want all pink all the time, you can make the jacket using one face of the fabric, and the pants from the other.
Save on All the Featured Fabrics Through Friday!
And to give you even more inspiration, you can save 20% on each of the fabrics featured in this article through Friday, April 21st!
No coupon necessary, the markdown is already taken for you.
I hope that gives you some inspiration for your spring sewing. Spring is coming to Boston – slowly! Until next time, which should be soon…
ETA at 9:43 PM. I took a couple more pictures of the shirt, and the pockets just looked off no matter how I tweaked things (technically the pockets were level). That would have driven me crazy, so I removed the right breast pocket. It’s purely decorative anyway, and I took it off before the stitches had a chance to leave permanent marks. So now I only have one pocket, and no weirdness do deal with. Yay!
The last time I made this pattern was 4 years ago. It’s a classic; it still looks fresh. To remind you, this pattern is a shoulder-princess-line blouse with sleeve, collar, (Oxford comma!) and length variations. I made a hybrid of all the different versions this time. Once again I made a size 12/D-cup at the shoulder, giving myself a little more room at the waist (sigh…)
The fabric I used this time is a stretch cotton striped shirting that was a gift from a very dear friend/fabric vendor. I can’t get any more of it, and I loved it so much I hoarded it for myself, sorry. Sort of. (Bad Ann! No biscuit for you or Gorgeous Fabrics!)
I ran this up on my Pfaff for the most part, and finished the seams on my Juki serger. Alas, my trusty Pfaff is having major trouble with the automatic buttonholer, so I wasn’t able to finish it until I brought Skippy the Emergency Backup Sewing Machine (an old Bernina) home from the office today. I adore my Pfaff’s automatic buttonholer, because you can pretty much set it and forget it, but I’ll give Skippy credit, the Bernina makes a beautiful buttonhole.
Construction Notes: I love working with stripes and playing with grain, as you know if you have seen the Article I Wrote for Threads Magazine. For this version, I decided to have a little fun. I made a half-pattern of the collar and cut it on the bias. As a side note, I probably should have made an under-collar pattern as well, to force turn of the cloth. Oh well. Next time. Back to the bias. This produces some fun results. First, you get the chevron at the Center Back:
Second, when the collar is closed (which in reality it never will be on me, but that’s a neither here nor there) the stripes match across the center front:
Before I say anything else, let me tell you that today, I got sent home by The Elves. I had a cold two weeks ago. I got over it, then DH got a cold and just before he left for San Francisco for business, he gave it to me. So today I went back to the office after an appointment that I couldn’t cancel, coughing up a lung. The Elves looked at each other and threw me out. Of course, by the time I got home, my cold medicine finally kicked in, so I couldn’t even go to sleep. What to do? Finish the blouse I started the other day, so here you go. Pardon me if the cold medicine wears off while I’m typing.
Pattern Description: The description/background from The Makers’ Atelier goes on pretty long, so to save you the TL;dr, here’s my summation: Very loose fitting, front button blouse with dropped shoulders, neckline tie and long sleeves. Two hem length variations.
Sizing: 1-8 I made a size 1-2, and it’s pretty roomy. Make that really roomy. To give you a comparison, I take a 12-14 in big 4, and an 8-10 in RTW.
Available as a PDF? No, it’s part of the pattern set in the book.
The biggest sin in this pattern is that there is NO SHOULDER NOTCH on the sleeve!!! There is a front notch, and there is a back notch, but no shoulder notch, and the instructions tell you to gently ease the shoulder cap. I can’t make this up, so I took a picture.
I sent messages to three friends who are professional designers with backgrounds in pattern making and they were all shocked. As one of them said, there are three match points on any sleeve: Shoulder, front and underarm. I’m sorry to be a negative Nelly, but this is pretty… un… bush… I can’t even. Cold medicine talking but still. No shoulder notch.
Another designer said this method can work for knit garments, but this pattern is designed for lightweight wovens. I made mine in a cotton voile that is pretty gauzy. It has a fair amount of mechanical stretch, but with something like a silk crepe de chine or a cotton shirting, inserting the sleeve the way they say, with no shoulder notch could be problematic or worse.
Oh and the hemming instructions are just pthbbbt. Don’t even bother. Make your hem the way you do with any Big Four blouse: turn the facing so it faces the outer side of the garment, sew the hem at the facing, turn right side out and then make a narrow hem.
Likes/Dislikes: Now, despite my crank factor, this is a good pattern. It has great bones, and it goes together well. IFyou already know what you are doing. I describe the aesthetic as Eileen Fisher meets Japanese boutique. It’s simple, and easy, and if it’s your thing it’s great. The instructions? Not so great, at least for this blouse.
Also, a point of style – this blouse may be a little low cut for some. You can remedy much of that by making a wider tie (the book has instructions for that) or by redrafting the front collar to raise it up a bit. You also really need to make this in a very drapey fabric. Any stiff cotton or linen will NOT work well for this.
Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Uh, hmmmm. No, and maybe with a lot of caveats. I think the blouse itself has good bones. The instructions were not good, but I was able to make it well because I know what I’m doing. I know that’s harsh, but it’s an expensive book, so I want you go to into it with eyes open.
Conclusion: Despite everything I came out with a blouse that I will wear and which I made well. If you know what you are about, you can make this work. I may have made the second most complex pattern in the book (there’s a pair of cigarette pants that I would bet have their own challenges). Here are pictures on Shelley. I’ll try to get pictures on me when I don’t look like death warmed over:
Well, that’s enough for tonight. I hope you are all feeling better than I am.
Wow, it’s been over a month since I posted something about actually sewing. I’ve been busy, just not with making too much. But I have been slowly working on this dress, from muslin to finished project. This will probably be long, so settle in…
Pattern Description: Fitted-through-the-bodice dresses have lined bodice and sleeve/skirt/length variations. B, C: Sash
I made View B, the sleeveless tea-length version with a sash.
Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes
How were the instructions? They were good.
Construction Notes: First I made a straight muslin, then I lowered the bust dart and did an FBA (kind of a cheat, in that I added an inch to the bodice CF length and started at 12 at the shoulder and armhole, but cut to the 14 at the side seam.
One of the standards from RTW that I incorporated was trimming the neckline/lining seam allowance to to ¼ inch.
I decided to line the entire dress (the pattern only called for lining the bodice). I used the view A skirt for the lining (it’s not pleated) and I lengthened it to 2 inches shorter than the outer skirt.
I basted the lining to the outer skirt at the waistline, and attached both to the bodice, finishing the waistline seam with a bias cut binding of soft organza (also sold out, sorry, but oh man it feels nice).
Now, adding a lining presented some construction quandaries, so I decided to use a hand inserted zipper, a la Susan Khalje’s excellent method from Threads Magazine. Alas, my hand sewing skills are rusty, so the tension was all sorts of bad.
So this morning I woke up, undid the hand stitching (which was a major pain in the butt, but worth it), and redid it on the sewing machine.
Lastly, I added some thread chains (made on my serger) to hold the sash at the sides.
Likes/Dislikes: This is a pretty pattern that appeals to the girly girl in me. No real dislikes – it goes together quite easily.
Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Yes to both.
Conclusion: Lovely pattern, goes together easily. IF it ever warms up here in Boston I’ll get a picture of me in it. In the meantime, here are shots on Shelley:
Here’s hoping we eventually get warm enough weather that I can wear this.