Shameless Plug: Gorgeous Fabrics’ HUGE Summer Sale!

July 4 Sale Starts 6-22-16

I give Shameless Plugs for other people’s businesses, so why not for my own?

Starting right now (actually, starting yesterday), it’s our biggest sale of the summer!

10% off? Pffft. That’s peanuts.
15% off? Guffaw.
20% off?? Keep going…

Everything* is on sale at Gorgeous Fabrics for 25% to 60% off site-wide, so you can stock up and save big. This is our biggest sale of the summer, and you won’t see savings like this again anytime soon, so come on over and get your stash on!

Click Here to Start Shopping and Saving Big at Gorgeous Fabrics!

On top of the super sale savings, orders over $50 before shipping receive a free gift with purchase, and orders over $200 receive free shipping in the US!

Happy saving and sewing!

*The fine print – there are a few exceptions: muslin, gift certificates, swatches and notions. Other than that, you’re good. 

Posted in Fabrics, Gorgeous Fabrics, Plugs | Leave a comment

Pattern Review: StyleArc Artist Tunic

6/22/16 Update: Added pictures of me in it (at the very bottom of the post)

This is a long one, so settle back and grab a cuppa…

Pattern Description: From StyleArc’s website – “Great slimline tunic with interesting slightly dropped shoulder tuck detail falling from under the epaulettes. This is a versatile piece that can be worn over your favourite T shirt, pants or leggings, or even wear it as a “shirt dress” buttoned up. Shirt style collar and cuffs makes this a wonderful addition to your wardrobe.”

Sizing: 4-30. I made a 10.

Available as a PDF? I don’t see it on their Etsy shop, so I’m going to say no. If I’m wrong, someone please let me know and I’ll correct it.

Fabric Used: A sample cut of silk/cotton voile from Milly. Sorry, I wasn’t able to get more than a couple of yards so it’s not available at Gorgeous Fabrics at this time.

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2130 sewing machine, Juki MD654DE serger, Naomi the Naomoto, ironing board, sleeve board, shoulder stand, Clover Hold It Stiletto, silk organza press cloth.

Needle/Notions Used: Universal 70/10 needle, fusible weft interfacing from my stash, buttons, thread.

Tips Used during Construction: Anything by The Pressinatrix, Sew from Wide to Narrow, Clip the Selvages Before Laying Out Your Pattern, Using Pins to Mark Start/Stop Points.

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

How were the instructions? Mmmm, not great. This pattern is rated Challenging/Experienced Sewer. StyleArc is known for their rather cryptic instructions, and if you haven’t had much experience sewing shirts or shirt dresses, I recommend you keep a good general sewing book like the Vogue Book of Sewing handy for reference. That said, this pattern is well drafted for the most part, and goes together well. I say for the most part, because there seemed to be an error on the shoulder mark of the garment body. (see the next section for more information).

Also, the instructions that I have, at step 6 in the construction, say “With wrong sides facing, fold the epaulet in half lengthways and stitch the outer small edge…” It should read, “With right sides facing, fold the epaulet…”

Finally, the Trims section says that you need 11 buttons, but if you follow the markings on the CF Band pattern pieces and the diagram for the sleeve construction you actually need 13 buttons, because they show a button on the sleeve placket, as well as the cuff.

None of those are deal breakers for me, but you should check your instructions before you start.

Construction Notes: As I said, there seemed to be an error in the shoulder. I made a muslin and found the shoulder point on the bodice was off by about 1/2 inch. I have a very early release of this pattern, so I’m hoping that StyleArc has fixed that. I was easily able to fix it on my pattern. but it’s worth checking. It’s really obvious and easy to fix because StylArc doesn’t put a lot of excess ease in their sleeve caps (YAY!).

I did a 1 inch FBA. Also, I changed the layout of my pattern pieces for the collar and cuffs to ensure that the pattern of my fabric aligned the way I wanted it to. IOW, I wanted my handbag motifs to all go in the same direction. So I did a cross-grain layout on the collar and collar stand, and I cut the collar pieces upside down so they would face the right way when the collar is turned down.

The original pattern uses a single piece for the cuff, which you fold in half lengthwise. This means one side of the cuff has the motifs running the right way, while the other is flipped upside down:

If you’re not paying attention, it’s way too easy to end up with the wrong side facing out.

So instead, I folded the pattern piece in half, added a seam allowance, and cut two pieces for the cuff and sewed them together.

So both sides go in the right direction…

I also made self-lined pockets instead of single-layer.

I find it gives a cleaner finish,

I also took a fair amount of time (and 56 pins!) to narrow hem the shirt tail.

Lots of pins!

Nothing makes my eye twitch more than a puckery shirt tail hem, whether I sew it or it’s RTW. The secret is patience, a lot of pins, and pressing the hem before you sew it (yes, over the pins – except in a very few cases, the pin marks will come out).

No rumples, lumps or puckers!

I sewed the buttons on by machine. Here’s a little trick I learned from Phyllis – to temporarily tack buttons to your garment, use a school glue stick. Just put a small dab of glue on the back of the button, press it onto the garment and it will hold it long enough to get it under the sewing machine.

Just a little dab’ll do ya.

Likes/Dislikes: This was a fair amount of work, but it really turned out great. I have been on a bit of a shirtdress jag so far this summer, and this one is a more tailored look than my Kwik Sew version. I love them both!

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? I would definitely recommend it, with the caveat that you need to understand shirt construction. I don’t know if I’ll make it again, because I don’t need more than one, but it’s a great pattern. This fabric is lightweight and slightly sheer, so I’ll wear it over a tank top and pants, probably open and belted.

Here are some shots on Shelley:

Front and Back

Front and Back

Close up of the shoulder, epaulet and pleats

Showing the way I cut the collar and collar stand

And finally, the way I’ll likely wear it – belted over an outfit

Conclusion: A winner! This will be a great topper to wear in the warm weather.

And here are a couple of shots on me (can you believe it?)

See those pasty white Irish legs? SPF50, babies! #nomoremelanoma

See those pasty white Irish legs? SPF50, babies! #nomoremelanoma

I'm not kidding when I say I am the world's worst model.

I’m not kidding when I say I am the world’s worst model.

Happy sewing!

Posted in Reviews, StyleArc | 8 Comments

The Pressinatrix Has A Useful Little Tool…

Hello my dears – have you missed Your Pressinatrix? She has missed you terribly. Fortunately, the world of sewing seems to be taking her advice (well, most of the world of sewing, but we shall not mention those others) to heart and pressing their projects to practical perfection, profoundly pleasing The Pressinatrix.

As you have seen in Prior Posts on The Pressinatrix’s Arsenal of Tools, The Pressinatrix is well stocked to tackle almost any pressing need, but there are a few that she unearths in her travels, and thus The Pressinatrix would like to introduce to you a small, but immensely useful tool that is the most recent addition to her kit:

The Clover 7807 Hold It Precision Stiletto

(NB: the link will take you to Amazon, but fear not, The Pressinatrix receives no compensation for said link, so go right ahead and click with impunity.) 

Clover Finger

Roughly 9 inches long, so your fingers stay well out of harm’s way.

This little tool can save your finger tips and manicure in tight spaces. It has a bent pointed end that is useful for turning points and curved seams à la collar stands, but the true prize of this digit-defending device is the eraser-shaped silicone finger at the other end. It holds tiny areas (like a sleeve placket, say) in place and allows you to precisely press with no worry of burning your fingers. How wonderful!

Tight spot? No problem!

Tight spot? No problem!

At roughly $10, it is a touch on the pricy side, but in The Pressinatrix’ opinion, it is well worth the cost, for reducing stress when pressing, and for preserving one’s tender skin. And with personal risk mitigated, The Pressinatrix believes that her minions darling followers will be more likely to press properly, and that makes it all worth while.

Happy pressing!

Posted in Pressinatrix, Tools | 9 Comments

Congratulations to the Winners of the Blogaversary Giveaway!

Good old randomnumbergenerator.com went to work and pulled these three from its virtual hat:

  • Meg will receive the blue sweater knit.
  • Yvonne will receive the striped rayon jersey.
  • Karen will receive the holographic dot lamb suede skins.

Thank you all so much for your kind words, and for playing. Here’s to many more years of sewing and fun!
Ann

Posted in Giveaway, Sewing | Leave a comment

10th Blog-A-Versary Giveaway

Wow – I just realized that in May I passed my 10th anniversary of blogging! Lots has happened since that early May day in 2006, most of it good. 10 years is a pretty big deal, so I’m going to do a giveaway. Three giveaways, in fact! Three lucky winners will get one of these fabulous prizes…

Behind Door Number 1
Holographic Leather
We have 2 super soft lamb suede skins. They are black, covered with holographic dots and they are so fun!

Behind Door Number 2
Sweater Knit
We have 5 yards of blue sweater knit. The colors are clearer and more saturated than my phone camera registered. It’s really beautiful, and soft.

And behind Door Number 3
Striped Rayon Jersey
We have 5 yards of gray and bright pink striped rayon jersey. There’s enough for a a wardrobe’s worth.

So, how do you go about winning one of these beauties?
Simple. Leave a comment here before Noon EDT on June 10, 2016 saying… oh I don’t know … which outfit or item I’ve made and posted on this blog is your favorite. You got 10 years worth of my fabulousness to choose from, so take your time. :)

Three winners will be chosen at random from the entrants. We’ll choose who gets which piece.

One entry per person. Winners will be notified on Friday afternoon by email. This giveaway is open to US addresses only. International postage has gotten way out of hand expensive, sorry.

Thanks for 10 years+ of reading along with me. Good luck, and happy sewing!

Posted in Giveaway | 75 Comments

Pattern Review: Kwik Sew 4155 Shirt Dress


Pattern Description: From the KS website: “Dresses have fitted bodice with front and back princess seams, armholes are finished with facings, front placket with button closures and waist seam. Flared skirt has side-front and side-back seams with side seam pockets. A: Collar with collar stand. B: Collar stand.”

I made view A.

Sizing: XS to XL. I made a Medium.

Available as a PDF? No

Fabric Used: Lightweight Cotton “Oxford” in Infinity Blue from Gorgeous Fabrics (of course!)

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2130 sewing machine, Juki MD654DE serger, Naomi the Naomoto

Needle/Notions Used: Universal 70/10 needle, Pro-Weft Supreme Interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply, 9 Buttons, thread.

Tips Used during Construction: And Now, a Word from the Pressinatrix, Clip the Selvages Before Laying Out Your Pattern, Sew from Wide to Narrow

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

How were the instructions? They were good. I would do things differently from the instructions on future versions (see Likes/Dislikes for details), but they were quite thorough.

Construction Notes: I made a muslin to check the fit. As I have found with many Kwik Sew patterns, this has a ton of excess ease in the chest area, and I had pretty major gaposis around the armholes. I took about 3 inches (!) of excess ease out by adjusting the princess lines. I could have removed about an inch more without suffering any ill effects. I did an FBA, and I adjusted the armhole facings to match the new gap-reduced bodice.

Because of the FBA, I re-positioned the buttons. I only used 9 buttons, and I put a skirt hook/eye at the waist on the button placket. I will wear this with a belt, so that gives a smoother line.

Kwik Sew’s instructions have you sew the collar stand to the wrong side of the bodice neckline, then turn the seam allowance on the outer side of the collar under and machine stitch through all layers. Instead, I attached the collar stand to the bodice on the right side, and I hand-stitched the inside of the collar to the bodice on the wrong side. After that I machine stitched around the edges. I find that’s a better way to ensure that your collar looks good.

I also added a bar tack on the side seams at the bottom of the pockets, for reinforcement.

To give it a little more security.

Here are a couple of shots of the in-process bodice…

Bodice Front before attaching skirt

And Back

Likes/Dislikes: I like very much the way this pattern is drafted, and I like the lines. I am not that crazy about their order of construction. They have you construct the bodice, along with the button plackets, then construct the skirt, with the button plackets. I found that it’s very easy to slightly mis-align the plackets at the waistline. That happened with mine. It’s hidden by a belt, and even if it wasn’t, you’d have to get close to see it, but I know it’s there. In the future. I would sew the bodice fronts/backs together, sew the skirt fronts/backs together, attach them at the waist, sew the button plackets together and attach them in one piece. Even better, I would re-draft the plackets to be a single piece running from the neckline to the hem. Then I would attach the collar.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? I would do it again, and I do recommend it. I really like the way this looks. I was inspired to make this because of the McCalls Patterns Shirtdress Sew Along. I’m not usually a sew along kind of gal, and in fact I had to have this done before the sew along ends, because I wore it to DS the Younger’s graduation from high school today! I finished it at 11:30 this morning, and the graduation started at 2 this afternoon.

Here’s a picture of the front on Shelley:

And… gasp! A shot actually on me!

Proud Mama Moment!

Conclusion: I really, really like this pattern. I can see making this in a piqué for a dressier look, or a lightweight denim. Do make sure to make a muslin, since it does have (for me) a lot of extra ease. It’s really comfortable, and it goes together quickly. All in all it’s a winner.

Now it’s time to take the graduate out for a celebratory dinner. Happy sewing!

Posted in Fabrics, Kwik Sew, Patterns, Reviews | 3 Comments

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 | 7 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

Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 8.08.06 AM

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 | 22 Comments