And I did. Now this is on its way to me
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And I did. Now this is on its way to me
After a rather lengthy hiatus, my sewing mojo has returned with a vengeance. Even the McCalls Shorts Debacle hasn’t stopped me. I have lots of ideas of clothes that I want to sew, and I’ve been really inspired by this online subscription I took out to a magazine aggregator. Suddenly I get to read all sorts of fashion magazines on my iPad before I go to sleep: Vogue, Bazaar, InStyle, W, More, Lucky, Allure, Self… The list goes on (and it also includes Entertainment Weekly and People, among others, for my guilty pleasure reading). It provides plenty of inspiration. It has also rekindled my desire to sew with wovens. I’ve been sewing tons of knits lately, because I love them and they are what I live in. At work, my uniform is usually jeans, a knit top, a jacket, and either sneakers or high heels, depending on what I’m doing that day. I love my uniform, but I want to add a little diversity. So for the late summer/early fall, I hope to sew up some blouses. The first one I’m working on is the StyleArc Brenda.
The Brenda is a long sleeved, darted blouse with gathering at the bustline. There are some doppelgängers out there in pattern land, but I really like StyleArc for their shoulder and upper-chest draft. So I pulled out my copy of the pattern (size 10, my usual) and cut out a muslin.
Since I’ve been working mostly with knits recently, it’s crucial to make a muslin of any garment that is made of woven fabric and reasonably closely fitted. And boy, I’m glad I did. I know that at my age, I will need to make changes to just about any pattern to get the fit I want. And this is no exception. I made the muslin straight from the pattern and discovered a few things that needed to be changed. First off, even though every StyleArc pattern I’ve made in size 10 fits me perfectly across the shoulders and upper chest/back, they don’t all fit the same elsewhere. Brenda is drafted for a much smaller person than I through the front ribcage. Here’s a picture of the original muslin on Shelley.
Shelley is a Wolf Size 6 dressform. Much as I wish I looked like Shelley, two kids, yumpty yump years and one bout of breast cancer later, I’m more like a Wolf size 10. As a side note, this December is (touch wood) my 5-year diagnosis anniversary. And my birthday is in December. Maybe I’ll save up and treat myself to a custom Wolf form. But I digress…
So I’m about two sizes bigger than Shelley. You can see that the muslin fits her pretty well, with not a lot of extra ease. On me, it sits more like this:
It fits perfectly through the back, and the side seams are in exactly the right place. It’s just the front that needs fixing. I’m not going to subject you to a picture of it on me in this iteration. That would be too embarrassing. One other thing to notice is that the bust darts come up WAY too high. They are at bust apex level, even on Shelley, who doesn’t have to worry about gravity.
Also, If you look at the original muslin, the dart was positioned about 2 inches outside of where my bust apex (the little x’s) points are. So I decided to slice and dice. When I was a kid I used to think I wanted to be a surgeon – well, this is surgery, minus the blood and need to learn organic chemistry, right? Here’s the pattern after I made my initial incisions, but before I did all the resectioning:
Here it is once I got done with it:
Here’s the revised muslin on Shelley: much better fit for my real body.
Tomorrow I’ll show you some of the construction methods that I use when I make muslins in general. But that’s enough for tonight. DH just put a Quentin Tarantino movie on.
Also known as Ann’s Epic Fail, but soon to be a save, dammit.
Pattern Description: from McCalls website: MISSES’ SHORTS AND PANTS: Fitted shorts or tapered pants (below waist) have shaped waistband, side front pockets and back zipper. A and B: back pockets. C: carriers and stitched hems.
I made view A.
Sizing: 6-22. I made a size 14 (see below)
Fabric Used: Herringbone Linen (sold out, sorry) from Gorgeous Fabrics, of course. A remnant of another sold-out stretch charmeuse, also from Gorgeous Fabrics.
Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff home machine, Juki home serger.
Needle/Notions Used: Universal 70/10 needle, Pro-Weft Interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply, 7 inch zipper, two trouser hook/eyes, thread.
Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes
How were the instructions? They were good. I didn’t use them too much, but I did check them over and they seem quite adequate.
Construction Notes: I used my Pfaff to stitch all the seams, and I finished the seam allowances (this fabric is, like many linens, ravelly) with my home serger. I changed the zipper to a lapped zipper application, using the instructions in my 1980 vintage Vogue Sewing Book.
Likes/Dislikes: Here’s both a big complaint with this pattern and a major “Doh!” face palm moment at myself. This bugger runs BIG. REALLY big. Like, borderline huge. Shame on me for not doing a flat pattern measurement, but the last time I made a McCalls shorts pattern they ended up being a bit too tight. I had made a 12, so I figured the 14 would be fine. Wrong. The 14 is seriously about two inches too big through the waist. Shame on me for not doing a flat pattern measurement and assuming the pattern draft was consistent. Hah! My favorite ever boss in tech, Joe, had a favored saying: “When you assume, you make an ASS of U and ME.” Joe was so right. I will do flat pattern measurements from now on. As it is, I’ll take in the side seams and be done with it. I don’t get too wound around the axle about summer shorts. After all. I live in New England. Summer will be over in, oh about 3 weeks.
Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Mmmmmm,no.
Conclusion: Good looking shorts. Check the pattern measurements against your own before you cut, or make a muslin. I didn’t do either and the little b*stards are Just. Too. Big. But they are excellently prepared! Here’s the front view.
Coda: Wildlife Among Us!
This evening, these two hen turkeys and their little drumsticks came wandering through our front yard. Hoover really, REALLY wanted to go chase them.
This is a long one, and picture heavy, so grab a cup or glass, sit back, and enjoy.
I was in New York for a series of meetings this week. Yesterday morning, I got a call about an hour before one of my scheduled meetings that the vendor was sick and couldn’t make it. That gave me a couple of hours to kill. Let’s see, I’m in New York, I have nowhere to be until noon. What to do? It took me all of about a nanosecond to hail a cab and head up to the Met, where “Charles James: Beyond Fashion” is on display. I had less than 2 hours, so I booked it right for the exhibit.
The exhibit is outstanding for the most part. It’s split into two areas. The first area houses the iconic James gowns: Tree, Butterfly, Four Leaf Clover, Swan and many others. These gowns are heavy. They weigh between 12 and 20 lbs. Vogue has a fun article about the comparative weights of several iconic James Gowns. For example, Tree:
Weighs 13 lbs, or as Vogue likes to say, about the same as an average sized watermelon. The Butterfly dress, which I am kicking myself for not getting a picture, weighs the same as 5 baby French Bulldogs. Speaking of which, Puppy Dress!!!!
Rather than blah blah blah you to death, let me just share the pictures I took. They allowed pictures, as long as you didn’t use flash. I only had my phone with me, so pardon the low quality.
Something cool that the exhibit did was they had videos, camera shots and ‘x-rays’ of the innards of the dresses. They used robotic arms to highlight the areas they were describing on monitors, and they even (and this was totally cool) had one camera that delved under a dress to show the multicolored layers of tulle that made up the underskirt.
The silk and velvet Four Leaf Clover was there, as was this absolutely spectacular lace and silk version
Here are some more pictures with some detail shots
This bridal dress was designed by Charles for a Modess sanitary napkins print ad. My, how times have changed…
This dress was designed for the opening of a Georgia O’Keefe exhibit, and is meant to reference the female genitalia. Can I just say? I am no prude but I don’t need any literal references to the vajayjay running down the front of my dress.
There’s a reason that look never caught on, Chuck, trust me.
After the Iconic Gowns, the exhibit continues.
On the other side of the museum, behind the Temple of Dendur (which is so cool, BTW) and down in the basement!
Seriously, the gowns are front and center, and the rest of his work is consigned to the cellar. The curators were trying to say something here. Maybe the curators were inadvertently imagining the wearers of his other outfits to be traveling by subway? Who knows. But in the (basement) Anna Wintour Costume Institute, the works displayed were in many cases, remarkably pedestrian. Coats, day and evening dresses, worn by the socialites of the day, and no doubt worn beautifully, but they were not iconic. They are not notable. They are not even memorable.
As I said to Phyllis, ‘These reminded me of Ethel Mertz and Mamie Eisenhower.’ I said earlier that the show was outstanding for the most part. The part that was outstanding was on the first floor, not in the basement. The coats, dresses and outfits – even the gowns, are of their time. They are a wonderful diorama of postwar chic. James is considered visionary, but his vision doesn’t translate across time. They are costumes that were worn by our grandmothers. Beautiful costumes, but costumes nonetheless.
While this may be more of an historical reference, the show is really worth seeing. If you can get to New York to see this exhibit, by all means do! It’s a great snapshot of American fashion history.
Here’s an easy tip for your Monday morning. When I’m making a garment that has topstitching along the fly or a mock fly opening, I trace the stitching line on a scrap of pattern tracing paper. Then I pin the template to the garment’s front and stitch through the template along the marked line.
Once I’ve stitched, I tear away the paper. Voila!
For me, it’s easier and more precise than using tailor’s tacks, and it doesn’t rub off before stitching, like chalk lines can.
Wherein fabric gets switched, mistakes get made, saves are performed and ultimately all ends well…
A funny thing happened on my way to the sewing machine. Fabric alchemy of sorts – linen changed to piqué!
Seriously, I went downstairs to put a load of laundry on, including my gray linen for these shorts, when what confronts me in front of the washing machine, but about 2 weeks’ worth of teenaged sons’ laundry. I was (and still am) unconvinced that said teenaged sons’ laundry would get done without maternal intervention, and since both of them were out of the house, I started doing load after load. Which meant that my laundry, along with my gray linen, got shuffled to the back of the laundry queue, and didn’t get done for a couple of days.
But I did have a yard of Blue Aster Stretch Cotton Piqué that was pre-washed and waiting for a project, so all worked out. The linen is now washed, and it will be the next piece I cut into, probably after I finish this post. Allons-y!
Pattern Description: Pleated, cuffed shorts with faced waistband and mock-fly front.
Sizing: 34 to 44. I made a 40.
Fabric Used: Stretch Cotton Piqué (sold out, sorry) from Gorgeous Fabrics (of course). A remnant of a long-sold-out floral cotton voile for the pockets.
Machines and Tools Used: Juki DDL8700 industrial straight stitch to start, then I finished it at home on my Pfaff and my Juki home serger.
Needle/Notions Used: Universal 70/10 needle, 7 inch zipper, 1 metal snap, 2 pairs of D-rings, thread.
Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes, for the most part.
How were the instructions? Standard issue Burda, meaning they suck. These shorts are pretty well drafted, and as long as you don’t make any boneheaded errors (see below) then you’ll get good results. As it is, even with the boneheaded error it turned out okay.
Construction Notes: I made the shorts more or less according to the directions, though I threw up my hands and pulled out my 1980 edition of the Vogue Sewing Book to remind myself how to do things like mock flies and turn back cuffs, rather than trying to figure out Burda-speak.
I changed the curve on the crotch to more of an “L”, per usual for me. I used a length of clear elastic (not stretched) to stay the CB seam and the crotch curve.
I added ½ inch seam allowances all around, except for the waistline/facing, which were ¼ inch SAs. I sewed all the seams on a straight stitch machine. Because this particular piqué is rather loosely woven, I used my serger to finish all the raw edges.
To reduce bulk, I used pique for the pocket that is visible, and a remnant of a lightweight cotton for the pocket piece that isn’t.
Bonehead Alert! I know that I’m (in Boston parlance) wickid smahht. Hell, I got a 100 on the Mensa test. As an aside – really? Come on people, if I can ace that test a monkey can get into Mensa. But of course, I wouldn’t be a member of a club that would have me for a member.
Where was I? Ah yes – bonehead! I was happily chugging away, completely ignoring these pretty red tailor tacks I had put at the center front. I installed the zipper and fly, and I was pretty darned pleased with myself and my progress. Then I happened to look at the picture of the shorts. Hey, what’s that button doing at the top? Riiiiight. Faced waistband. Fly zip. Geometric awkwardness at best. Hmmmmm. That’s a boatload of stitching to rip out, and I didn’t have any more of the piqué to cut a new piece. So I improvised. I ripped out part of the facing and redid it.
The other thing to note is that for this pattern Burda actually gives you a hem allowance. The problem is that, with a fabric like this pique, if you turn the hem under, then when you do the turn back cuffs, you have 5 layers of fabric at one point. And when you’re wearing shorts with cuffs, that can be a lot of bulk in an uncomfortable place. So I cut the hem allowance off, serged the raw edge, sewed it using my sewing machine, then turned the cuffs. That helped a lot.
Finally, Burda calls for belt buckles for the side belt-tabs. I have several, but none of them were the right size, or the ones that were the right size clashed with the blue. So instead, I used D-rings for the time being. I’m going to New York this week, So I’ll get buckles there. Or maybe not, we’ll see.
Likes/Dislikes: These are very cute. My husband really likes them. They are very comfortable to wear. They go together well, as long as you pay attention to your markings. :\
Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? I would recommend it. I’m not sure if I’ll do it again. JoAnn had a $1.40 sale on McCalls patterns this weekend, so I picked up a couple of shorts patterns that I might use on the linen instead. But I do like this pattern.
Here’s a sucky selfie. I never wear my shirt tucked in, but this gives you an idea of how they look on me.
I realized after I took this pattern that the fly stitching had not caught the entire length of the facing – that’s why the fly flares out a bit. I hand-stitched the facing down invisibly after I saw that. Now there’s no flare-out.
Conclusion: A good, cute, summer basic that will work for lots of figures.
I discovered that, other than athletic shorts, I’m woefully short (pun intended) on summer shorts that are suitable to wear about town. I guess that gives me a project for the weekend. I thought about making another set of StyleArc’s Karen Walk Shorts, but I wanted something shorter. So I pulled out my old Burda World of Fashion magazines (now renamed BurdaStyle), and came upon this pair in the June, 2009 edition:
I’m going to make it using this Herringbone Gray Linen from Gorgeous Fabrics
I’m busily tracing it off today, and hopefully by tomorrow night I’ll have a new pair of shorts. More later, and in the meantime,
Pattern Description: From the website: Misses’ & Plus Size Amazing Fit knit dress in knee or calf length, surplice front with ties & 3/4, cap or flutter sleeves. Individual patterns for slim, average & curvy fit & B,C,D cup sizes for miss & C,D,DD cup sizes.
I made view B, the short sleeved version.
Sizing: 10-28W. I made a 12 D-Cup Average fit. I tapered out to 14 at the waist.
Fabric Used: Savannah Sunsets Rayon Jersey from Gorgeous Fabrics (of course!)
Machines and Tools Used: My Pfaff home machine and my Juki home serger.
Needle/Notions Used: Stretch 70/11 needles, ¼ inch elastic, thread.
Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes
How were the instructions? They were okay. I didn’t really use them. Simplicity suggests basting the major seams wrong sides together to check the fit, then removing the basting after you make adjustments, then sewing your seams. I don’t like that approach. I would rather baste the seams right sides together and adjust from there. I think my way takes less time and gives equally good results.
There is an Error/Omission in the Pattern: Simplicity states in the instructions that seams are 5/8″ unless otherwise marked. In this pattern, they mark 1 inch seams for the sides, 3/8 inch seams for the shoulders and necklines. What they fail to mark, though, is the 1 inch seam for the front bodice and skirt. If you use a 5/8 inch seam, as you would assume from the instructions, your front and back won’t match up. Be sure to use a 1 inch seam when attaching the left front bodice to the front skirt.
Construction Notes: I lowered the bust dart on the left side. I used my serger to sew all the main seam lines.
Pet peeve alert! For some reason, Simplicity has you purchase bias tape to make facings for the neckline. What the heck? Are we still in the 1970s? I swear, the Big 4 (V/B/M are guilty of this as well) cut and paste instructions that have been around since I was in high school. Talk about a Becky-Home-Ecky finishing technique. Grrrr…
End of rant.
What I did instead is cut a piece of ¼ inch elastic 2 inches shorter than the length of the entire neckline. I zigzagged that along the wrong side of the neckline edge, all the way around, then I folded the edge over and stitched in place, using a .5mm zigzag, 3.0 stitch length. The result hugs my neckline without any gapping, and gives a much better, more professional finish.
I used a narrow overlock stitch to finish the hems.
I didn’t get too wound around the axle about matching the print on the back. This print is busy enough that I didn’t want to make myself stir crazy.
Likes/Dislikes: This is a pretty, flattering design, and I love the multi-cup draft. And can I just say? I LOVE this fabric. It’s so comfortable and cool. I’m going to wear this dress when we go to dinner on the Boston Waterfront next weekend.
You already heard my rant.
Here are pictures of the dress on Shelley:
Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? I won’t make it again, but I would recommend it, with the caveats above.
Conclusion: This is a nice dress that looks gorgeous (natch) in this fabric. I think this would make a nice dressy-dress in a more formal fabrication.
I love the Jacinta pattern so well that I decided to make another version. This time I made the sleeveless view. You can see the pattern review for the sleeved version In This Blog Post. So what follows is a mini review that highlights the differences.
Fabric Used: Golden Snake Smooth Faced Jersey from Gorgeous Fabrics. It’s the Fabric of the Weekend, so it is 40% off our regular price, but only through today.
Machines and Tools Used: Juki home serger.
Needle/Notions Used: 70/10 needles, pro-tricot interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply, thread.
Construction Notes: I did a few things differently this time. I used the bias layout, which caused me some headaches. It has nothing to do with the pattern, it has to do with the fact that I cut out the right back three times before I got it right. The first time, I cut it geometrically perfectly but I didn’t realize that the “stripe” on the fabric is directional, so the sides were 180º flipped from each other. The second time, I cut it out a small but annoyingly noticeable offset. Third time was the charm. Thank god I own a fabric store! :/
Instead of making the neckline and armhole stays, as directed in the pattern, I interfaced the bindings with Pro-Tricot. This stabilizes the openings quite satisfactorily. I also did a rolled hem on my serger. I’m not entirely in love with it. I may re-hem it with a zigzag stitch later. We’ll see.
Likes/Dislikes: I love the fact that StyleArc drafts different armhole pieces for sleeveless versus sleeved. This one has no gaposis in the armhole. Yay! Now why can’t the Big 4 do that? It would reduce much frustration, and it doesn’t take up that much more paper.
Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? I definitely recommend this pattern! I’ve made two of them, and I’m thrilled with how comfortable it is. I’m wearing it right now! I’ll try to get pictures on me later, but meanwhile here are a couple on Shelley.
Conclusion: This dress is so comfortable to wear. I just love this pattern! I may cut it down and make a couple more street-length dresses with it.
Howdy, campers! As most of you know, the GorgeousFabrics.com website was revamped and updated in March of this year. We’ve been tweaking it since then, and we’ll continue to make slight changes over time, but it’s pretty much settled in place.
Before I begin, I just want to give a huge shout out to the team at Gazungle, who did all the work on our site. It was no mean feat to migrate from our previous website to the current one. Thousands of fabrics and customers had to be moved. It’s kind of like living in a house for 7 years, then moving to a bigger, better, more modern house. There’s lots to move, lots of decisions to make, lots to throw away and lots to keep! Gazungle did a great job, and I heartily recommend them. Professional, fast, thorough. Yup, I can’t say enough good things about them.
Our new website has got some really cool features, so let me show them to you!
On the home page, there are rotating banners that highlight sales, videos, products and whatever comes to my mind at any given time. Then there’s a bar that has products that we’re featuring. There you will find the FotD, as well as cool fabrics that we’re really excited to show you. Below that are featured products that are new, selling like hotcakes or nearly gone, so you can stay on top of the trending fabrics easily!
At the bottom of every page are links to pages that show you the newest fabrics, sale fabrics, Best Friends (our professional peeps), this blog, Gorgeous Fabrics University (our videos) and my favorite, Strut Your Stuff, which is where our Gorgeous customers show off their Gorgeous creations.
Below the banner on the homepage and category pages, and below the logo on all other pages, are the links to allow you to log into your account, sign up for a new account if you don’t have one, contact us, and access all our social media. There’s also a search box on the right.
When you log in, you can see all your information and order history from the current site simply by clicking on your name, which replaces the “Login” link under the banner. That will show you your default address, your order history, and your wish list, all in one convenient place!
There are pull-down menus for all the major category types, so you can see just the types of fabrics you are interested in.
Each fabric has its own page, where we show both scans and photos to give you as much visual information about each fabric as we can. As always, we include recommended patterns for each fabric. The Elves and I have been working tirelessly to fix all the pattern links that got broken when we migrated. And on top of that, we’ve added hot links to the closest Pantone colors for each fabric, so you can get a good idea of the colors, even if you don’t have a Pantone deck. Here’s a funny story – the day after we implemented that feature, I saw that at least one other online fabric vendor copied us. I’ll take that as a high compliment – I are a trendstarter!
Well, that’s a lot for today. I’ll be adding tons more fabrics later. I just got in a big shipment of linings from one of the best menswear designers out there. And speaking of menswear, we’re having a nod to Father’s Day sale. 20% off wools, linens, denims and cottons through Sunday. So go check it out!