Tip: Clip the Selvages Before Laying Out Your Pattern

I’m taking part (albeit quite late to the party) in the McCalls Pattern Shirtdress Sew-Along. I’m making Kwik Sew 4155, from a lovely lightweight shirting from Gorgeous Fabrics (of course). After pre-washing my fabric, I saw that it was puckery along the selvages. That’s not at all unusual with woven fabrics. Because of the finishing of the fabric at the edges (to keep it from unraveling), the tension on the selvage threads is higher, which can cause some puckering:

Puckered edges before clipping

Well, at a sit and sew with the wonderful couture teacher Susan Khalje, I learned a little trick to release that tension.

Simply make small cuts along the selvages. These cuts are about 1/4 inch deep in the case of this fabric, and spaced about every 2-3 inches. I did make a cut right at a pucker if it seemed pretty tight. I cut on a diagonal, but I don’t think it makes much of a difference if you cut perpendicular to the selvage. The picture below shows what it looks like after snipping, and I didn’t press it or otherwise flatten it out, so you can see what a difference it makes.

It only takes a few seconds to do, and it will make sure your fabric lays flat so you get an accurate cut close to the selvage.

Same section after clipping. Much better!

This is closely related to the tip I wrote a while back on Trimming Your Knit Selvages. Same principle, and it will make your life a lot easier.

Shameless Plug Time: Speaking of Susan Khalje, if you ever have the opportunity to take a class with her, do it! Susan is a delightful person, a wonderful teacher and, as a professor at FIT said, “She sews a mean stitch.” One of my bucket list items is to go on her Paris Tour. I can’t do it this year because of a very big (!) family commitment at the end of the year, but hopefully soon! Full disclosure: Susan is a dear friend of mine, but she is one of the BEST sewing teachers out there, bar none.

HTH and happy sewing!

Posted in Plugs, Susan Khalje, Tips | 3 Comments

Pattern Review: New Look 6428 Knit Dress

Update on May 23, 2016 It was a warm day today, so I said, “What the heck!” and wore my dress. I got three compliments on it. One from DS the Younger (“Nice dress, Mom”), one from DH (“Nice dress! When did you get that?” “I made it yesterday.” “Wow, really? Nice!”) and one from the young woman working the cashier at the grocery store when I stopped there after work (“I really like your dress!”) I’d say this pattern is a real winner!

Good luck finding this if you don't have the link. Simplicity's new website sucks.
Pattern Description: From Simplicity’s website, “ These preppy Just 4 Knits dresses for miss are easy to sew and figure flattering for comfortable stylish wear. Dress can be long sleeve or sleeveless with round or notched neckline. New Look sewing pattern.

Sizing: 8-10. I started with a 12 at the shoulders, and tapered out to a 16 at the bust (to avoid doing a FBA). Then I made a 14 everywhere else.

Available as a PDF? No

Fabric Used: Lightweight Athleisure Cotton Jersey in Heathered Black/White from Gorgeous Fabrics (of course!).

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2130 home sewing machine, Juki MD654DE home serger, Naomi the Naomoto, sleeve board, ham.

Needle/Notions Used: Stretch 75/11 needles, lightweight mesh invisible zipper from Botani in New York, Pro-Tricot interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply (BTW, in case you need interfacing, Pam is having a big sale through Wednesday, May 25. NAYY, just a good friend and happy customer), thread.

Tips Used during Construction: Check the Grain on Knits, Tips and Tricks for Sewing with Knits, And Now, a Word from the Pressinatrix.

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

How were the instructions? Good. Basic, but understandable. This is a well-drafted pattern and it goes together easily. For inserting an invisible zipper, I prefer Els’ instructions from The Sewing Divas.

Construction Notes: I serged all major seams except the CB, which I sewed with the Pfaff. I serged the edges of the CB seam, catching the edges of the zipper. I also serged the raw edges of the facings.

Zipper and facing finishes

I lowered the side bust dart one inch.

The original dart point was 9 1/2 inches down from the shoulder.

Since this is going to be a weekend dress/beach coverup for summer, I didn’t bother doing a ton of fitting. I applied scraps of interfacing at the back shoulder seamlines before stitching to stabilize them. I undertstitched all the facings, and I stitched in the ditch along the seam lines and neckline darts to affix the facings. They still have a tendency to roll out, so I may tack them in several other places as well.

Likes/Dislikes: This is a really cute dress for casual wear. As I say, this is for my summer weekends and I’ll wear it over a bathing suit at the beach. It reminds me of an independent pattern that I have seen, but it was a fraction of the cost and I like the neckline darts and the CB seam that gives you the ability to fit it easily.

Closeup so you can see the neckline dart

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Yes I would do both. I am tempted to make this in the sleeved version. The fabric I used has some stretch, but I think that if you use a fabric with a lot of stretch you can eliminate the invisible zipper. In fact, if I make it again, I’ll probably eliminate the zipper, sew the CB seam up to a few inches below the top, and add a button/loop closure so I can just pull it over my head.

Conclusion: Cute dress! I was able to make it from start to finish in less than one day (today). I definitely recommend it. Here are shots on Shelley:

Front…

… and back!

Also this weekend, I made myself another StyleArc Alannah Tee. This one took me less than 2 hours yesterday from start to finish. I don’t have much to say beyond what I said in my first review of this shirt. I made this one with Designer Viscose Jersey in Cashmere Rose. I love it – it’s so comfortable! I’m wearing it now. Here’s a shot on Shelley yesterday:

Alanna3

On top of all that, we got the tomatoes planted, put the kids’ old bunk beds up on Craigslist, got DS the Younger a bicycle to take to college, swam Hoover and cleaned up a good chunk of the house. Dang, what a productive weekend!

Happy sewing!

 

Posted in Gorgeous Fabrics, New Look, Patterns, Reviews, Sewing | 3 Comments

Congratulations to Dorothy!

The Random Number Generator picked 68

Screen Shot 2016-05-20 at 12.05.39 PM

The 68th comment on the post was Dorothy’s (I didn’t count my response to Jessica’s comment in the parameters). Congratulations to Dorothy, and thank you to everyone for playing! I’m sure there will be more giveaways coming.

Happy sewing!

Posted in Giveaway | Leave a comment

Blog vs Instagram

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A blogger whom I admire (Bunny, in case you’re wondering) just announced that she’s taking a hiatus from blogging. Her explanation boils down to not enough time. She’s certainly not alone in this. I’ve noted a slowdown in the blogosphere, at least in the little corner that I follow. You can see it in the blogroll to the right here. New posts seem to be fewer and farther between. I’ve even taken to removing links to blogs that haven’t posted for more than a year (with a few exceptions).

My own posts have slowed from the prolific days of several years ago. It seems that the general influence of blogs has waned. Instead, I have observed a trend of people, myself included, turning to Instagram. I’m not a prolific Instagrammer, and I still have an aversion to selfies, but I find that Instagram is a great way to track works in progress, and to micro-blog, if you will, projects that don’t merit a full post. For example, I made yet another StyleArc Ann Tee. I love it, but it certainly doesn’t merit a full post on this blog. But a few quick snaps and ta daa! It’s out there for all to see. A picture of my garden beds isn’t something most of my blog readers are interested in, but it’s easy to show on IG that I do things other than sewing and selling fabric.

I’ve pondered in the past if Blogging is Dead (or dying). I think it’s certainly evolving. My blog is still a much better place for showing in-depth reviews and techniques. Unlike IG, I can take higher resolution and larger pictures for clarity and instruction. But Instagram gives that “quick hit” that I sometimes prefer.

So how about you? Are you on Instagram? Do you think it will take the place of blogging, be an adjunct to it, or something else?

May 30, 2016, ETA: Thank you everyone for your kind words about this blog. I really appreciate it! I’m not planning on quitting blogging. Really. And this wasn’t a fishing expedition to get compliments or pleas to remain on the interwebs. I’m going to continue blogging – I enjoy it! :) I’m really just commenting on the slowdowns and stoppages I’ve noted on other blogs. Thanks so much!

Posted in Commentary | 21 Comments

Book Giveaway – Make Your Own Dress Patterns

May 19 Update: Folks, there seems to be some misinformation floating out there. The drawing will take place tomorrow, May 20th,at noon EDT.

I was cleaning off my bedside table this morning and realized I have two copies of one of the seminal (for me) and still one of the best (IMO) books on pattern making out there: Adele Margolis’ Make Your Own Dress Patterns, with over 1000 how-to illustrations.

IMG_4585Published in 1985, and the illustrations reflect that:

IMG_4621 IMG_5023 IMG_6084

this book still has some of the best information on pattern making and, by extension, modifications of existing patterns.

Here’s the drill on how to win. Just leave a comment in the comments section to enter. One entry per person. Feel free to say how smart/talented/classy/gorgeous/whatever you think I am for doing this. It won’t help, but it couldn’t hurt! 😉

The giveaway is open to everyone everywhere, but if you are outside of the US, you will have to pay for shipping (I’ll send it book rate or the cheapest possible way).

The winner will be chosen by random drawing. I’ll announce the winner at noon this Friday, May 20th. You can enter right up until then.

Have fun, good luck, and happy sewing!

 

Posted in Books, Giveaway | 88 Comments

Vogue 7488 on the Hoof

Vest by Mom

He loved it!

With Hoover

Gratuitous Hoover Shot

Happy sewing!

Posted in Fabrics, Vogue | 6 Comments

Fabrics for Formalwear and Bridal at Gorgeous Fabrics

I sent this out to the members of Gorgeous Fabrics’ email list, but I also thought those who don’t receive the emails might like to see it. Pattern and fabric inspiration posts seem to be popular so here you go…

Formalwear Fabrics for Fabulous Occasions!

Prom and wedding season are upon us, and Gorgeous Fabrics carries amazing options from some of the top designers in the world. We have an entire section dedicated to it, and all of these fabrics are included in the big sale going on right now. Let’s take a look at a few of them and give you some inspiration for how you can use them.

Lovely Lace

Lace is for more than just bridal these days, though of course it’s great for that, too! We have an amazing array of laces. From designer laces with scalloped edges suitable for the hautest sewing, to stretch laces that are perfect for fun tops and dresses. This Gorgeous scalloped edge lace from Nicole Miller would work great for a dress like Simplicity 1606, a jacket like Simplicity 1250 or a flirty top like New Look 6450.

Click Here for Lace Fabrics

 

Brilliant Brocade

Brocade is one of those fabrics that can strike fear in the hearts of many, when in fact it is very easy to sew! The texture forgives many mistakes, it has great body and it takes to tailored items like a dream. You can use it for jackets, accessories and even cool vests for men’s formalwear. Try Vogue 9068 for a luxe take on a classic jacket, Vogue 9164 for a beautiful clutch bag, or Vogue 7488 for a man’s formal vest.

Click Here for Brocade and Textured Fabrics

 

Sexy Sequins

Sequined fabrics are all the rage on the runways this season. When we think of sequins, we often envisage slinky gowns that are worthy of the red carpet. But you can also use sequins to elevate a simple top or dress. If the idea of sequins is a little intimidating, use them as an inset or an overlay to get your feet wet! Some great options include McCalls 7051, Lekala 4495 and McCalls 7047. I wrote a post on Tips and Hints for Working with Sequins, to take some of the fear factor from this fabulous fabric.

Click Here for Sequined Fabrics and More

 

Luscious Lamé

Finally for today, have you tried sewing with lamé or other shiny fabrics? They are so fun! Use the smallest needle you can get away with, and let your imagination soar. You can go with a classic dress, but don’t limit yourself. Try a simple top, and let the fabric have center stage. Or go for a designer-inspired vest. Talk about a luxurious surprise! Some exemplary options include Butterick 6243, Butterick 6156 and Butterick 6138.

Click Here for Lamé and Shiny Fabrics

Hopefully that gives you some ideas for these exciting fabrics. Have a great day, and

Happy sewing!

Posted in Fabrics | Leave a comment

Pattern Review: Vogue 7488 Men’s Vest

Friday is DS the Younger’s senior prom. His date is wearing a red dress, and since I am a fabulous mom, I told him I would make him a vest to wear.

Pattern Description: Lined vest has low armholes, shaped hemline and back belt. A: Notched collar and welt pockets. B: Double-breasted and welt pockets. C: Angled shawl collar and mock-welt pockets.

Sizing: Men’s XS to XL. I made a medium at the shoulders, tapering to a small at the waist.

Available as a PDF? No

Fabric Used: Greek Key Silk Blend Brocade in Bright Red from Gorgeous Fabrics (of course!)for the main fabric, red silk habotai (sold out, sorry, but you can find Other Colors Here) for the lining

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2130 sewing machine, Naomi the Naomoto, ham, sleeve board, point presser, clapper.

Needle/Notions Used: Universal 70/10 needle, Pro-Weft Interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply, D-ring from my stash, buttons from my stash (from the long-ago days of Fabric Fix in NH, sigh), thread.

Tips Used during Construction: Anything by The Pressinatrix, Make the Lining First.

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Well, not exactly. For one thing, the line drawing omits the stitching lines on the collar/lapel joint.

Also, the line drawing and photos indicate that there is a pronounced notch. But if you look at the pattern piece, the lapel is definitely curved.

There’s no stitching line indicated, so like a good little sewing automaton I followed the lines and notches. Also, from the pictures and line drawing, it looks like I sewed the lapel incorrectly to the collar, but again, I followed the notches and instructions, and this is what I got.

There is a distinct possibility of operator error on my part, since I was doing this after work and I’ve been running on fumes all this week. The good news is that he loves it as-is, so I’m not going to squawk.

How were the instructions? Um, okaaaaay… see my comments above.

Construction Notes: I sized the vest based on his measurements. One thing I didn’t realize in advance was that this pattern runs very long in the torso. I found that out after it was complete. I ended up taking up about an inch at the shoulders, so if you make this pattern, you’ll want to measure the front against the wearer beforehand to see if you have the same issue.

This pattern goes together quite easily. I debated about interfacing the entire front, since this fabric has a fair amount of body to begin with, but I decided to use Pam’s lightweight interfacing and it adds just the right amount of stiffness.

Likes/Dislikes: He loves it, so I’m happy!

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? I might do it again. Then again I don’t get too much call for vests.

Conclusion: He’s thrilled so I’m happy. Here are pictures on Shelley. I’ll get pictures on him tomorrow night.

Front

Back

 

And the welt pocket

Happy sewing!

Posted in Fabrics, Reviews, Sewing, Vogue | 6 Comments

“It Reads a Little Missy”

Last Sunday I had the delight of spending the day with my BFAM Emmett. We snoop shopped the 4th floor (Evening Wear) of Bergdorf Goodman. Afterward, I drooled on the windows of Van Cleef and Arpels, then we went for sushi at the Plaza Food Court (seriously – a food court at The Plaza? And it wasn’t outrageously overpriced, and it was really good).

On the 4th floor of Bergdorf’s, caftans are the big thing. Liza and Liz in the 70s, with a little “Maude” thrown in just for good measure.

$4900? Seriously?

$7500 because the tag reads Oscar de la Renta.

Star Trek shore leave outfit, yours for a cool 4 grand.

I need to invest in horsehair braid, obvs.
Seriously, who wears this stuff? There were also some beautiful gowns that you can see in the background, but man oh man, I am SO glad I sew.

After I got home from New York, I worked one finishing my third StyleArc Lori jacket. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen the work in progress, along with my debate beforehand about another possible pattern. For various reasons (mostly fit through the sleeves), the other pattern didn’t work out. I won’t review the Lori again, but you can read my prior review of it Here. The zipper is a Riri from Pacific Trimming. The title quote was Emmett’s read on the fabric when I showed him a swatch – he hadn’t seen the jacket yet. But hey, what are brothers for if not speaking truth? He suggested adding denim, so I’ll give it a shot this week and see how it works.

Enough about last week; here are the pictures of the latest Lori on Shelley:

Front, showing the Riri zipper I bought at Pacific Trims

Silk habotai lining from Gorgeous Fabrics, of course (sorry – it’s sold out)

That’s what’s been happening around here. I hope you had a wonderful Mothers Day if you celebrate it. More on DS the Younger’s prom vest shortly.

Happy sewing!

Posted in Fashion, StyleArc | 3 Comments

The Good and the Bad About Vacations

Ah, I do love going away!

Until things at Gorgeous Fabrics remind me that I’m a (very) small business owner and I can’t really, really go away. But I try!

This week, DS the Younger led the band marching down Main Street at Walt Disney World. As you may know from reading this blog, he is the drum major (conductor) of the high school band. Every three years the band goes to Disney to march. Last time they went he was a freshman, playing baritone saxophone, and his big brother was the senior drum major who led the band. This year it was his turn to lead. Mind if I take a proud mama moment? It was really lovely. I’m still kvelling…

He marched backwards while conducting.

He marched backwards while conducting.

Then he marched forward between numbers, while the drums kept the beat.

Then he marched forward between numbers, while the drums kept the beat.


It was delightful to see the kids, even though we really didn’t see them except when they were marching, and for about 30 minutes the day before the march, when he and his BFF were exhausted and starving. We treated them to noodles and orange chicken at one of the myriad fast food places at Epcot, then they gave us big hugs and took off to be with their friends. I’m laughing as I write this – the life of a parent, right?

Anyway, the kids did great, and it was a highlight of their high school years. It was fun (in a cha-ching! way) for us, too, but I’ll tell you – ya go on vacation when you own a small business, and ask any business owner, your computer comes with you. I’m not complaining. I did work over coffee in the morning, then I headed out. But I am WAY more relaxed about business when I’m home. And I’m home now, so it’s more relaxing. :)

One thing that was a highlight of this trip, besides seeing the kids march? I got to have dinner with my friend Karla. Many of you know Karla – she’s not a blogger, but she is active on Pattern Review and on Facebook and she is the FUNNIEST person I know!!! We had dinner, and we laughed and laughed and laughed.

Yeah, it was a good time. I’m back in the office tomorrow – but it will be great memories for DS the Younger’s lifetime – and for mine!

Happy sewing!

Posted in Sewing | 3 Comments