Beginning of a Season, End of an Era

Happy fall! Or spring, if you are in the southern hemisphere. For me, the autumn equinox feels like the beginning of a new year, far more than January, which has always seemed pretty random to me. With the change of season, I made some big changes in my own life. I think my mother’s passing had something to do with it. I have had a very strong urge in the last month (has it been a month already?) to purge and clean house. On top of that, with both boys off at college, I have more time and space.

So the first thing to go was…

I loved that car

I loved that car

Yup, the Mustang. It’s such a fun car, and it served me well for a dozen years. But it was showing its age and it needed a lot of work. With only two of us at home (and our house doesn’t have a garage) we don’t need three cars. Plus, much as I loved it, the pony was a dog in the snow, and it was the most expensive of the cars to insure. The good news is that I sold it to my mechanic, for his girlfriend. They were both thrilled. She’s wanted a mustang convertible for years, and he knows what needs to be done to it and how to do what needs doing.

I loved these machines, too.

I loved these machines, too.

Right after that, I put the industrials up on Craigslist. For the last two years, I haven’t done much sewing at the office, and I’d rather sew at home at night than trundle up to an empty industrial area. So my machines have been sitting unused, which is a shame. I didn’t want them to just gather dust. The DDL8700 straight stitch machine sold immediately to a nice lady who used to be a professional seamstress, and who missed having an industrial. The serger sold yesterday to a lovely young woman who makes hats and headgear for renaissance fairs. She was thrilled beyond belief and gave me a big hug. I think I may head to King Richard’s Faire to see her. Plus I’ve never been to a ren fair so it could be a lot of fun!

I also cleared out a whole lot of patterns earlier in the summer, and I’ve been Kondo-ing clothing. DH and I are going to tackle the sports equipment in the basement now that it’s cooling off.

So those are the big changes around here. Next on the cutting table is another pair of Butterick 5250 trousers, this time in a Lightweight Wool Flannel in Black Olive from Gorgeous Fabrics. And this weekend we’ll see both boys at a collegiate marching band festival. I can’t wait!

Happy Sewing!

 

Posted in Machines, Miscellaneous | 3 Comments

Pockets? Or No?

What has it got in its pocketses? -Gollum in

What has it got in its pocketses? -Gollum 

I posted a link on the Gorgeous Fabrics Facebook Page to an interesting article titled “The Politics of Pockets” (click on the title to open the article in a separate tab). It gives interesting insight into the history of pockets, and the fact that until relatively recently (the early 1900s) pockets were a rarity in women’s clothing.

A few years back, I took a tour of Nordstrom’s alterations department, where I learned that one of the most common alterations they make is removing pockets from garments to give a smoother line. In fact that’s the second most common women’s alteration, after hemming jeans. I’m not going to delve into the political or gender aspects, but it did make me think: I add pockets to many of my garments if they don’t already have them. I need back pockets on pants to hold my cell phones (one for business, the other, personal). I put pockets in most of my jackets and all of my coats. Pockets don’t have to be obvious; in most cases I put mine in seams, or position a patch pocket in a way that makes it unobtrusive on the garment. I have seen people swoon over patterns because they have pockets!!! I don’t generally get that enthused, but I do find it mildly annoying when pockets aren’t included in certain garments.

So, how about you? Do you like pockets? Do you add them if a pattern doesn’t already have them? Do you cut them out of RTW and leave them off your sewn garments? Inquiring minds want to know! Besides, this is (part of) the reason we sew. 🙂

Posted in Commentary, Sewing | 29 Comments

Pattern Review: Butterick 5250 (OOP) High Waisted Trousers


Pattern Description: From the pattern envelope: “Misses/Misses’ Petite Pamts and Belt: Above-waist, creased pants ABC have fly front zipper and back darts. A, B front darts. C, D: front tucks. A: button trim and cuffs. B: carriers and belt.”

I made view B, but I skipped the belt and I’ll used a purchased belt instead.

Sizing: 6-22. I made a 14.

Available as a PDF? No

Fabric Used: Long since sold-out doubleknit from Gorgeous Fabrics. I think it’s a bit heavier than is optimal for this pattern, but I really wanted to make these pants and I didn’t have a lighter fabric at home when I started cutting. And it’s still fine – it’s just very warm. If you want my recommendation for current fabrics, and for what I would use if I were to make it again, I would go with this Tropical Weight Wool. That said, this fabric will make a great travel option. I have a very long trip coming up early next year, and I think these will be the pants I wear on the flight!

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2030 sewing machine, Juki MO654DE, Naomi the Naomoto, ironing board, ham, sleeve board.

There was a near tragedy today.

I was working in my sewing room at home when DH cheered for the Patriots. I spun my chair to get up and it caught on the thread-catcher on my Juki serger, which went crashing to the floor at the same time Jimmy Garoppolo went down with a shoulder injury.

😱😱😱😱😱

It was a horrifying moment on several levels.

Garoppolo is worse, but neither is good.

Garoppolo is worse, but neither is good.

The thread guide snapped, the cone holder broke and I was a panic sandwich. But like my beloved Pats (I stopped blogging about them because folks – rightly – thought it was kind of obnoxious, but I still love them, warts and all), I picked up the Juki, cannibalized a Janome serger I had as an emergency backup, super-glued the cone holder, and sent it back out onto the field. And we both finished with a win!

I know I'm fortunate, but... whew.

I know I’m fortunate, but… whew.

Please dear God, don’t let either of those things happen again any time soon.

Needle/Notions Used: Stretch 75/11 needles, clear elastic, Pro-Weft fusible interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply, Scraps of lining fabrics for the pockets, zipper, hook/bar.

Tips Used during Construction: Stabilize a Crotch Curve with Clear Elastic, Anything by the Pressinatrix, Color Code Your Thread Markers, Template for Fly Topstitching, J? or L?.

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

How were the instructions? They were very good. This is not a complex pattern, but I thought the fly-insertion directions were very clear and easy to follow.

Construction Notes: I made a muslin first, and before anything else made my usual “L” adjustment to the back crotch. I only needed to carve off a little curvature at the hip – roughly 1/2 inch on either side, and you can see it if you follow me on Instagram. Other than that it fit pretty well straight from the envelope, which was a nice surprise! The muslin was a non-stretch woven, vs the stretch that I had in the fabric I used.

Speaking of stretch, this fabric has slight stretch in the lengthwise direction, so I stayed the CB Seam with clear elastic.

I used the same Stretch 75/11 Needle to sew the elastic in the seam.

I used the same Stretch 75/11 Needle to sew the elastic in the seam.

I took a page from some designer pants I’ve seen lately and used a contrasting color zipper. Okay, necessity was the mother of invention and I didn’t have any 9-inch black zips in my stash, but I’m going to claim designer inspiration! 😂

How fun!

How fun!

I used black lightweight fabric for the pocket backs, but I used the scraps from my Simplicity 8166 for the front pockets, which won’t show. It’s just kind of nice to have these little secrets. It’s part of why I love to sew!

This is why I sew!

This is why I sew!

I finished all the seams and hems with the (thank heavens, working!) Juki serger

That Juki takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'!

That Juki takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’!

Finally, I made a template of the stitching for the fly topstitching. Here it is in process:

And here’s the finished product:

Kind of hard to see, but it's not too shabby!

Kind of hard to see, but it’s not too shabby!

Likes/Dislikes: I LOVE this pattern! This one may become a go-to for me. The instructions are clear, the results are good. We had some fall-like weather earlier this week, but today it’s pretty soupy so no pictures on me yet.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Yes, I will do it again, and I heartily recommend it.

Conclusion: Great pattern! Here it is on Shelley, including the way I’ll style it for fall.

I had to up the exposure to see it more clearly

I had to up the exposure to see it more clearly

And how I'll wear it with my Simplicity top

And how I’ll wear it with my Simplicity top

Happy sewing!

Posted in Butterick, Fabrics, Gorgeous Fabrics, Sewing | 6 Comments

Quick Tip: Color Code Your Thread Markers

Here’s one that I do as a matter of course. I don’t think I learned it anywhere, just one day I had an “aha” moment. When using tailor’s tacks, if two different markings are very close, I use different colored threads so I can easily differentiate between them. As an example here, in the Butterick 5250 pants that I just finished, the belt loops sit right next to the darts – almost on top of them. So to make sure I follow the correct markings, I use a different color for the dart than I do for the belt loops. In this case, the dart legs are marked in white thread, and the belt loops in blue. It makes it easier to discern between different pattern markings, and it doesn’t take any more time. Win win!

Pardon the crappy cell phone picture, but I think you get the point

Pardon the crappy cell phone picture, but I think you get the point

Happy sewing!

Posted in Tips | 1 Comment

Sorry to Go AWOL

Hey folks

First, thank you all for the outpouring of support and love on my mother’s passing. It’s hit me a lot harder than I expected. I was always more of a “Daddy’s girl” and my mother was more of a “Boy’s mom”. But losing her meant losing the last parent between my generation and the hereafter. My logical mind understands that is what happens, but the reality hits harder than I ever expected it would. And Alzheimer’s is a dreadful disease in that you lose your loved one twice: first when they stop knowing you, then when it actually takes them.

I haven’t been doing much sewing recently, but I did go to the local ASDP chapter meeting today which was wonderful – I got to reconnect with friends and listen to a fantastic lecture about Balenciaga. It makes me want to get back into the sewing room!

I’ll try to post more this week. I have been sporadically working on a Marfy blouse muslin and I will finish that and based on the findings from the muslin, make it up in silk. I’ll get my mojo back soon, I am sure. So thank you all again for your kindness and support. It means the world to me.

xox
Ann

Posted in Commentary, Sewing | 12 Comments

Pattern Review: Retro Butterick B6734 Dress

Man, it has been a week. My mother passed away peacefully last Friday after a very long battle with Alzheimer’s. That was a blessing. She’s with Dad now, which is good. The family drama that accompanied her death? Not so much. I’m not going to bore you with the details; every family has its own version, I’m sure. It’ll pass, like a kidney stone maybe, but it will pass. Her funeral was today, and it was lovely. I was able to hold it together until the incensing of the casket. That killed me.

Sigh…

But, as they say, life goes on. Last week I bought Butterick 6734, a retro dress with some style variations. I’m not usually much of a retro girl, but I do like some of the styles from the 1940s and this one really appealed to me.

Pattern Description: From the Butterick website, “ Dress has shaped front with gathers, side seam zipper, shoulder pads, shoulder gathers, sleeve and neckline variations. A: Long sleeves with elbow darts, swan neckline and snap opening. Optional ribbon for bow. B: Three-quarter length sleeves, shawl collar and front buttons. Buttons are not functional.
Circa 1944″

I made a combo of Views A and B, using the neckline treatment from View A, the sleeves from View B, and omitting the buttons.

Sizing: 6-22. I started with a 12 at the shoulders, tapering out to a 14 at the bust and below, along with a whole lot of fitting stuff (see below)

Available as a PDF? It doesn’t look like it right now.

Fabric Used: Space Flowers Silk Crepe de Chine from Gorgeous Fabrics (of course!)

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2130 sewing machine, Juki MO654DE, Naomi the Naomoto, ironing board, ham, sleeve board, shoulder stand.

Needle/Notions Used: Universal 70/10 needles, scraps of interfacing, thread.

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

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

How were the instructions? They were great. I didn’t really need them but I did check them out and they are good.

Construction Notes: I made two muslins. The first was almost straight from the envelope. I say “almost: because I measured the distance from the shoulder seam to the bust apex and (as usual) it was too high. So before I did anything I sliced the pattern and lowered the bust dart one inch. Then I sewed it up to see how it fit. It needed a few mods. First, even though the bust dart started at the right place at the side seam, it pointed up too high, as you can see in this (sucky) selfie

1 - Lowered Dart Needs Adjusting

You can see that the angle of the dart is WAY above where it should be

Really sucky selfie, but the angle is better...

Really sucky selfie, but the angle is better…

I did a FBA, which I transferred to the pattern so you can see it more easily. The FBA added a little bit to the waistline, which alas, I need these days, and as with a wrap dress, I transferred the changes to both sides of the pattern.
3 - FBA and Dart Adjustment

I also lopped 4 inches off the bottom to make it a more modern length.

After the fitting was done, it was really quite easy to put together. I sewed all the seams with a straight stitch, and finished them with the serger.
Seam and Facing Finish

Inset Finish

I used an invisible zipper, stabilizing the seam with scraps of interfacing
Invisible Zip
Zipper Interfacing

The gathers were less full than I was expecting, though not in a bad way.
Front Gathers Detail
I haven’t decided if I’ll add the shoulder pads yet. I want to try it on first
Shoulder Detail

Likes/Dislikes: I LOVE it! I mentioned that I’m not usually a retro girl, but I do love the 40s. They suit me. And this suits me. I was going to finish it in time for my mother’s funeral, but it was really hot and humid so I wore a StyleArc that I made several years ago instead.
Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Yes and yes! This goes together easily and it’s a really pretty pattern. I recommend a muslin because it uses fitting norms that don’t necessarily match to today’s standards.

Conclusion: A winner! Here are pictures on Shelley. At some point I’ll get them on me.
Finished Front
Finished Back

 

And in Happier News This Week,

We moved DS the Younger into his dorm at college. He’s with his (marching band) tribe, and I guess we are officially empty nesters!

Wow, that time went by fast.

Wow, that time went by fast.

Happy sewing! I guess I’ll have more time for it now.

Posted in Butterick, Fabrics, Gorgeous Fabrics, Sewing | 38 Comments

Pattern Review: Simplicity 1325 Bolero Jacket

Okay, before I begin, can I just tell you? This week – I want to just end this week. I want it to be Friday. In fact, I want this month to miraculously turn into September. And even more than that, I want this year to turn into next year, KWIM? It has nothing do to with anything outside of my family. It’s just been that kind of week.

Sorry, had to let that out. Where were we? Oh yes, deep, calming breath. The Elves suggested I go home today after getting a phone call from my sister, so I took their advice and worked on my Simplicity 1325 jacket. They call it a jacket, I call it a bolero; it’s a bit of a hybrid.

I’m going to put this out there. Simplicity has GOT to fix their website. The pattern envelope back is unreadable and rotated.

Pattern Description: From their website: misses’ separates includes a knit crew neck top with long sleeves, a flared jumper dress or tunic with plunging v neck, pants and open front long sleeve jacket with ribbon detail. simplicity sewing pattern by in k.
Alright, here’s my assessment: semi fitted, unlined, collarless waistcoat style short jacket. I skipped the ribbon detail.

Ive been surprised that I was only able to find one review of the jacket in my searches. There are lots of reviews of the dress and top. I wonder if the jacket is the new throwaway piece. Remember a few years ago every pattern included a purse? Okay, sorry, that may sound snarky, but the jacket doesn’t really fit with the rest of this outfit. But it’s what caught my eye, so that’s good.

Sizing: 6-22. I made a 12

Available as a PDF? Yes

Fabric Used: Sold out Italian Rose Print Double Cloth from Gorgeous Fabrics

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2130, Naomi the Naomoto, ironing board, Juki MO654DE, sleeve board, ham, shoulder stand.

Needle/Notions Used: Universal 70/10 needle, Silk organza for interfacing, scraps of (bright blue) silk organza, thread.

Tips Used during Construction: Anything by The Pressinatrix, Sew from Wide to Narrow, Setting a Sleeve into an Armhole.

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

How were the instructions? Typical Simplicity. Never more than 4 pages per pattern. But they were adequate.

Construction Notes: I made a muslin, and discovered that the front darts were WAY too high. Measuring from the shoulder, the bust point on this pattern is 9 inches from the shoulder. That is WAY too short for anyone I know who is over the age of 14. Do yourself a favor and make a muslin, then lower the bust point by an inch or more. The one other pattern review that I have found for this mirrors my experience so it’s not just me.

Lowering the dart on my pattern.

Lowering the dart on my pattern.

After I fit the muslin and transferred the changes, I cut the muslin apart to use as my pattern.

Using the muslin as my pattern

Using the muslin as my pattern

This approach has a number of advantages. First, you can use a single layer layout and save a lot of fabric. Case in point: The pattern envelope calls for 1.5 yards of 60 inch fabric. I had less than yard and a quarter (by a lot actually), and I was able to lay most of it out. I had to piece the facings, but that was because I wanted the rose motifs from the fabric to show.
IMG_4760

Because my fabric is reversible, I decided to use the reverse for the collar. And because the fabric is a double-cloth, fusible interfacing, as recommended in the pattern, could have disastrous effect, especially since one side (and not the other) has a crinkled finish. Instead, I used silk organza and sewed it in.

Sew-in silk organza interfacing on the right

Sew-in silk organza interfacing on the right

IMG_4759

Silk organza encloses the double cloth seam allowances

To finish the seams I used bias strips of silk organza in very bright blue (love!) for a Hong Kong finish. The exception is the sleeve seams, which you can’t see, so I used the serger to finish those. I also used bias organza on the hems. I used a slipstitch to hem the garment and the sleeves.

I finished the slashed darts with a hand-sewn whipstitch

Mostly because I didn't think about finishing the seams until later

Mostly because I didn’t think about finishing the darts until later

This is the inside of the jacket

This is the inside of the jacket

IMG_7610

Yeah, nice.

Sleeve hem with bias organza finish

Sleeve hem with bias organza finish

Likes/Dislikes: Cute jacket pattern that I think gets overlooked because of the easier pieces. The instructions? Typical Simplicity. This is one that will look great over a jumpsuit or jeans.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Not sure if I’ll do it again, but I do recommend it. Here are finished pictures on Shelley. It’s supposed to be hot and soupy for the next several days so I will get pictures on me eventually.

Front

Front


Back

Back


Conclusion: Cute jacket. Definitely worth a look beyond the pattern.
Happy sewing!

Posted in Gorgeous Fabrics, Sewing, Simplicity | 5 Comments

Favorite Garments to Make

I’m working on a jacket today, Simplicity 1325.  Yesterday I was planning to make some knit tops that would transition from summer to fall, but I first decided to clean my sewing room at home. Seriously, it had been over a year since I have been able to see the entire surface of my sewing machine table. And don’t ask me about the piles of interfacing lying on my little cubby cabinet. The room had become overwhelming to me, and I couldn’t function in there, so clean clean clean it was!

How nice to not have to move things around just to sew a seam!

How nice to not have to move things around just to sew a seam!

In the process of cleaning, I came across the aforementioned Simplicity pattern. It’s got a rather cute Breton-inspired top, which is probably what induced me to buy it. And I thought about making that top with my knits. But then the jacket caught my eye.

This has possibilities

This has possibilities

Change of plans. The knit tops can wait. They are somewhat sweatery, and it’s hot. And on top of that, while cleaning my sewing room, I came across a remnant of a fabric that (sorry) sold out on Gorgeous Fabrics a few months ago. Eureka! One happy coincidence and I’m on my way.

As I was making a muslin, then cutting into my fashion fabric, I realized that of all the types of garments I make, jackets and coats are, by far, my favorite. If you look back through my blog, you’ll see that I make lots of jackets, and I make a new coat about every two years on average. For me, they are the most rewarding. I don’t know why. There’s something about the tailoring of a really good coat, the setting of a sleeve, the pressing and everything else that goes into making a well-sewn jacket or coat that gives me immense satisfaction. Don’t get me wrong; I love sewing other things, too. But coats and jackets are really the backbone of my wardrobe, and they give me the most pleasure.

So how about you? What is or are your favorite garment types to sew?

-Ann

Posted in Gorgeous Fabrics, Sewing, Simplicity | 27 Comments

Pattern Review: McCalls 6996 Cardigan


Pattern Description: From McCalls’ website, “Close-fitting, unlined jackets have raised neckline with front or front band extending into gathered back collar, long sleeves and stitched hems. A, B: Lower back peplum and shaped front hemline. D: Self-belt”

I made View A.

Sizing: This is interesting. The website says 4-26, but the printed version I have is XS/S/M. I made Medium, which is equivalent to a 12/14. I can’t remember when exactly I purchased my copy, so they may have changed the sizing since I bought it.

Available as a PDF? Yes

Fabric Used: Designer Rayon Jersey in Steel, from Gorgeous Fabrics (of course).

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2130, Juki MO654DE, Naomi the Naomoto/ironing board, sleeve board, ham, shoulder stand.

Needle/Notions Used: Stretch 75/11 needle, two scraps of Pro-Tricot Interfacing, selvage of silk organza, thread.

Tips Used during Construction: Tips and Tricks for Sewing With Knits, Just About Anything by The Pressinatrix, How to “Flat Set” a Sleeve.

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

How were the instructions? They were fine. I didn’t really need them. This is a pretty simple pattern to make, and it’s really well drafted and goes together beautifully.

Construction Notes: I did a couple of things differently from the instructions. Obviously, I flat-set the sleeve, instead of setting it in the round. They have you gather each center back collar pieces to a 3 1/4 inch length of purchased seam binding. Instead, I stitched the CB collar seam, then gathered that to a single 3 1/4 inch length of silk organza selvage. I prefer silk organza to seam binding for a few reasons. One, I have it lying around my sewing room all the time, so it’s essentially free. Two, it adds no bulk, and using a single piece instead of two pieces of seam binding reduces bulk even more, and three, it’s not at all itchy.

You can see the organza peeking out under the CB seam

I also stabilized the shoulders with scraps of tricot interfacing

I did narrow hems all around

Neckline Hem

Likes/Dislikes: I love the design lines: the quasi peplum

Not too peplum-y

The angled shoulder seams

And the general drape of the garment. There’s really nothing I don’t like.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Gosh yes and gosh yes! I could see making several of these, and I think they would make great holiday gifts too.

Conclusion: This pattern is a real winner! Here are pictures on Shelley. I’ll get some on me when the weather cools a bit more.

Front

and Back

My mojo is still going strong, and I’m thinking I would like to do something more along the couture lines. I have no idea what. But I’ll let you know.

In the meantime, happy sewing!

Posted in Gorgeous Fabrics, McCalls, Reviews, Sewing | 7 Comments

Tutorial: How to Sew a Shirttail Hem Without Ripples

Yeah, sorry – my bad in the last post. I was writing late, after a long day, and DS and DH decided to stream “Stranger Things” on Netflix. Oooooh, shiny! I got distracted. BTW, that show is really creepy good. I love Winona Rider, and the soundtrack brings me back to my youth. But I digress.

Rippled shirttails make my eye twitch, whether it’s in RTW (which is inexcusable) or in something I’ve sewn (which is only slightly less so). The key to a professional, unrippled look is patience, grasshoppers. Here’s how I make a shirttail hem that doesn’t ripple. I did a mockup of half of the Simplicity 8166 hem for this demonstration.

1 – Sew your side seams and any other vertical seams as you normally would.

2 – Run a row of basting stitches along the hemline

I used white thread for contrast

3 – Fold the hem along the hemline and fold it again to form a narrow hem. Pin the bejeebers out of it. Seriously, I pin about every quarter inch, sometimes closer. Make sure you pin down the “stress points” – areas of sharp curves.

It’s a lot of pins, but it is worth the effort.

4  – And this is REALLY important. Before moving to the sewing machine, gently press or steam along the hem. I don’t even let the iron touch the fabric, I hover it about 1/16 of an inch above it and use light steam. But you can apply very light pressure if you wish.

Don’t worry about pin marks. They will come out. I’ve done this with everything from charmeuse to silk to wool and cotton, and I’ve never had an issue.

Post-pressing, the curve has “calmed”

5 – Sew your hem.

IRL I would remove the pins just before the needle reaches them, but here for speed’s sake I sewed over them.

6 – Remove the basting, press, and you are ready to go!

Look ma, no ripples!

It takes a little bit of time. Surprisingly not that much, and the results are SO worth it.

HTH and Happy Sewing!

Posted in Tutorials | 16 Comments