The Marfy Coat is Coming Along…

It’s just that this is the part of the project that’s like drywall. Lots happening but nothing is very interesting to look at. The coat is completely cut out – shell, lining and interfacing. We had guests again this weekend (more on that later) so I wasn’t able to work on it much until today. And what I worked on today was getting the inner structure ready to go.

Like any tailored coat, this one will be well interfaced. I cut out all the base interfacing pieces: the facings, the collar stand, the under-collar. And I’m considering what to use for a chest shield, or if I even want one on this coat. I spent a lot of time today going through some old Threads books (Great Sewn Clothes and another whose name currently escapes me) to remind myself about tailoring techniques. I’m trying to balance the standard techniques with current style mores, which is always an interesting mental exercise. Most of the tailoring books (not the textbooks: I’m talking about the books written for the home-sewing public) were published before 1990, so it is a fun mind game to figure out how to adapt to current technologies.

So what did I do today? I attached the interfacing to the collar-stand and under-collar pieces. Thanks to the Threads books, I tried a technique on the under collar: stitching the interfacing to muslin. Basically, you cut the interfacing up to but not into the seam allowance, then you stitch it to a piece of muslin, which is cut to the size of the pattern piece including the seam allowance:

3201 Under Collar Stand and Collar Stand
I haven’t decided if I want to interface both collar stand pieces. I’m thinking only the under collar (the one with the machine stitching). I was going to do the same thing with the under collar, but I could only find one muslin piece from my test garment, so I decided instead to just catch stitch the pieces to the wool.

3201 Undercollar Ready for Padstitching

I sewed the under-pieces together, and I’ll be doing pad stitching over the next few days. So like I say, lots being done, not a lot to look at.

I mentioned that I had company this weekend? Last night was the Winchester Hospital Gala to benefit the Breast Care Center. We got the band back together – every year a bunch of us from our ‘hood go to this event. Can I tell you? We are THE party table. 🙂

This is the only fancy dress event I go to all year, and I usually make a new outfit. This year, thanks to my Marfy coat, I didn’t have time to make a new dress, so I wore a bright red four-ply silk dress (Butterick 4343) that I made several years ago for a recital. It’s very plain, very Audrey Hepburn-esque, with a little fun detail that you can’t see from this picture – I used Susan Khalje’s embellished zipper technique and sewed sequins with seed beads along the zipper. It’s one of those things that people look at the dress and then go – hey! That’s really cool!

Here’s a picture of most of the group. BFF Barb and BFF-in-law Kevin weren’t able to make it in time for the group photo.

That's Hoover in Front
That’s Hoover in Front

A great night was had by all, and a lot of money was raised for the Breast Care Center. And at the end of the evening, they gave us a beautiful floral centerpiece to take home!

How did that shot glass get there?
How did that shot glass get there?

Happy sewing!

Guess When We’ll Hit 30,000 Orders and Win a $50 Gorgeous Fabrics Gift Certificate!

Photo Credit: Imbecile Entertainment

Ho-ly-Cow! The Elves pointed out to me yesterday that we are about to hit a major milestone. We are just about to hit 30,000 cut fabric orders!!! I can’t believe that from our humble beginnings in the dining-room-turned-office of my house, we have built a great business! I’m getting all verklemt thinking about it.

So we have to celebrate, don’t you think??? Oh yes, yes we do! And here’s how. I suspect that we’ll cross the 30,000 mark within the next week to ten days. So let’s run a little contest. Whoever guesses the date and time (Eastern) closest to when we actually cross that magic 30,000 number will win a $50 gift certificate to Gorgeous Fabrics! Just enter the date and time you think we’ll hit 30,000. Whoever comes closest to the actual date/time will win. If more than one person gets the correct answer, we’ll draw the winner from those names.

And to make it even sweeter, the lucky person who places order number 30,000 will get his or her order free!

To make it interesting, the order numbers you get by email from Gorgeous Fabrics include swatch orders and gift certificates, which don’t count towards the 30,000. We’re only counting cut-fabric orders (yardage). So pay no attention to that woman behind the curtain. Just enter your guess when we’ll hit our 30,000th order and have fun with it!

And to make the fun even sweeter, remember that through the end of October, Gorgeous Fabrics will donate 10% of all cut fabric sales to the Winchester Hospital Breast Care Center. And ladies, if you are over 40, please schedule your annual mammograms. They save lives. I speak from experience.

Well, that’s it – enter the contest (one entry per person), have lots of fun, and of course…

Happy sewing!

Random Thoughts for an Autumn Sunday

Ann, we spend so much money on a dress that we’ll wear just once, but we cheap out on the things we wear every day.” – Antonina

Boy, did those words hit a nerve. When my friend Antonina said those words to me, I was agonizing over whether to buy a cashmere sweater. I thought, “My god, that’s a lotta money for a sweater.” I was putting the sweater back on the hanger to return to the rack. Her reasoning was that I’ll have that sweater forever, and I’ll get more than my money’s worth out of it. She’s absolutely right. I’ve already gotten my money back on it several times over. It’s gray, reversing to tan, so it goes with just about everything in my wardrobe. I throw it on whenever I get chilled. It’s as comfortable as a bathrobe, and in fact I bring it with me when I travel to wear as a light robe, in addition to its outer-wear duty. It’s long enough that I can use it as a travel blanket, and it’s heavenly soft. I love it, and I’m so glad she said that to me before I put the hanger back on the rack.

The same goes with clothing that I make for myself. I have to admit that when I walk into a clothing store these days, I look at just about everything and think, “Meh. I can make better.” Sewing for ourselves inherently enhances our appreciation of well-made clothing. We understand the appeal of a beautifully constructed, beautifully tailored piece of clothing, because we know the work that went into it. We are easily able to identify the cut corners and cheaping-out that goes into fast fashion clothing. 5mm stitch length? Not strong. 3-thread serging on seams? That’ll last a month, then become fodder for Goodwill and, ultimately, the landfill. Cheap plastic buttons that shatter in the dryer? It doesn’t surprise me.

I’m reading The Coat Route, by Meg Lukins Noonan. It’s a book about the making of a $50,000 bespoke overcoat. It’s a wonderful book, and as a passionate sewing gal, I find it to be a very soothing read. It really affirms what we sewing enthusiasts understand intrinsically – the time it takes to make something well is worth every moment we spend. It also serves up the contrast between the custom made vicuña coat, painstakingly constructed with details that are subtle yet telling, and the cheap, factory-made clothing that the author (rather more sheepishly as the book goes on) wears.

A sad coda to the story of this particular coat is that the button maker, James Grove & Sons, apparently closed last December.

Next up on the sewing table…

… are two things. I’m going to make a top with a brand new rayon jersey print that I just got in (I’ll put it up on Gorgeous Fabrics this week). I’ll probably make another StyleArc Ann Tee Top. I am sure the pattern was not named for me, but boy, it’s definitely my style! I’ll get that cut out and hopefully sewn up today, then I’m going to do my own Coat Route, using Marfy 3201. It’s a very Burberry coat. I’ll start cutting the muslin tonight or tomorrow. I wonder if I can find James Grove horn buttons online. It would be a poignant touch.

Marfy 3201. I’ll make the version with the cape.

I just got a bolt of simply stunning red flannel. It’s tightly woven, but still lightweight, which will be perfect for this coat. I thought about bouclĂ©, but with the cape, it would be too bulky. I’ll put the fabric up on the site tomorrow, and I’ll let you know when it’s up. The lining will be Squared Up Silk Charmeuse in red tones.

Squared Up Silk Charmeuse

This will be fun. I haven’t made a coat in quite some time.

Finally, a reminder

The Empire State Building, in Pink!
The Empire State Building, in Pink!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Ladies, if you are over 40, please make sure to get an annual mammogram. They save lives. I’m coming up on my 4th anniversary, and they found my breast cancer thanks to my annual mammogram. No matter your age, please make sure you do a monthly self-exam. This is the most serious I ever get folks, so forgive my PSA, but it’s important.

And to mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Gorgeous Fabrics will donate 10% of all cut fabric sales to the Winchester Hospital Breast Care Center. That’s where I was diagnosed. The BCC provides care and support to tens of thousands of women in the greater Boston area, so you will really be making a difference to women who need it.

Happy sewing!

It’s That Time Again

Photo credit: Winchester Hospital

That’s right – it’s October, and you know what that means… It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

So folks, here is the first public service announcement of October from Gorgeous Fabrics. If you are a woman over the age of 40, please, please schedule your annual mammogram. Mammograms save lives, people. I speak from experience. I was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer almost 4 years ago. I had no family history of the disease, and I had none of the risk factors that would have raised any flags. Yet there I was, sitting in the doctor’s office looking at that little cluster of dots, heart in my throat and dread in my stomach. One in eight. That’s how many women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and that number is not decreasing. So go get it done. It doesn’t hurt, and it may save your life.

This year, Gorgeous Fabrics will donate 10% of all cut fabric sales in October to the Winchester Hospital Breast Care Center. That was where I was diagnosed, and the BCC provides care and support to tens of thousands of women in the Northeast Massachusetts area. Let’s make this a banner year and do everything we can to stamp out breast cancer!


Misson Maxi/McCalls 6556 in Action!

Even in a surgical boot, my baby can busta move!

Last night was the Winchester Hospital gala, and we had a great time! The party was a blast, but man, I’m too old to party like a rock star any more. I now have several requests for McCalls 6556 for my friends who were there. This was such a comfortable outfit to wear, and I’m going to wear the top over a black turtleneck and black jeans for holiday get togethers. It’s a GREAT top and one of my favorites. If you’re on the fence about this pattern, take my word for it – get it!

We partied Gangnam Style! (thanks for the picture, Kevin)

Happy sewing!


Wow – with all the hurricane Sandy “excitement”, I never got around to posting the final tally from October. Thanks to everyone who purchased Gorgeous Fabrics last month, we will make a donation of $3,595.00 to the Winchester Hospital Breast Care Center!!! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support in this. Today I had my annual checkup with my radiation oncologist. Then I had my bloods drawn for my semi-annual meeting on Thursday with my medical oncologist. So far everything looks good (touch wood). The funds raised will help women in a very dark hour. For that, I thank each and every one who bought from Gorgeous Fabrics in October. I hope you never, ever have to go through this. I’m kvelling here. You all mean more to me than you will ever know. I hope we all have many, many more Octobers together.

And don’t forget – schedule your annual mammogram, if you are a woman over 40! And regardless of your age, make sure you do a monthly self exam. The life you save could be your own.


Pattern Reviews, Sort Of – Gala Dress Finished!

I can’t believe it. The gala is 4 weeks from today, and for the first time ever I’ve finished my outfit well in advance. This year I decided to go for comfort and ease over couture. I’ve made both of these patterns before, so my life was made much easier. For this year’s outfit, I made McCalls 6556 as a top. I am going to wear it over Jamie Christina’s Mission Maxi. I’ll highlight the differences between the two versions of each below:

McCalls 6556 (First Reviewed Here)
Fabric used: Mini Sequinned Rayon Knit Novelty – Pinot Noir from Gorgeous Fabrics. It’s sold out, sorry. But can I tell you? It is SO gorgeous! It drapes beautifully, and when I move in it, it looks positively liquid and so rich. I can’t say enough great things about this fabric. Neener neener neener! Oh wait – that’s not very gracious of me, is it? Anyway….

Construction Notes: I shortened the pattern to top length, by folding it up and pinning the extra pattern paper out of the way. Because of this, I only had two tucks on the front and back pieces (there are 3 in the original dress length)

As you can see in my previous post, I debated for a while on how best to finish the neckline and armhole. I thought about binding them with foldover elastic, but Phyllis pointed out that binding the outer edges would make it sportier rather than dressy, so I decided to bind the raw edges, fold them under and sew them by hand. For the neckline and armhole edges, I used silk jersey. I didn’t have black jersey, but I had some left over from my Paco Peralta top. Since you can’t see them, I didn’t fret over the color, and the jersey is soft against the skin.

You can’t see the red binding from the outside of the garment

For the bottom hem, which can be seen at certain angles, I bound the raw edge with Black Silk Habotaicut on the bias.

Black silk habotai binding can be seen at times, so I wanted it to blend.

Likes/Dislikes: I really love this pattern. It’s very versatile. Yesterday, when Phyllis was over, I tried it on over my top and jeans to show her, and it looks great over a pair of jeans. I think it may be my go-to holiday outfit. It also looks fantastic layered over a long sleeve shirt. I think I’ll wear it with skinny black jeans and a black turtleneck top. Paired with dramatic chandelier earrings, it will make a heck of a holiday look.

Jamie Christina Mission Maxi (First Reviewed Here)
Fabric Used: Italian Rayon Matte Jersey in Black from Gorgeous Fabrics. And hey! It’s still available!

Construction Notes:It’s interesting to note that I had to take in the side seams on this one. The matte jersey drapes and clings very differently than the original ITY that I used. Aside from that, the only thing I did differently from before was to use a rolled hem at the bottom. I’ll probably cut this down after the gala to be a street-length dress, and I’ll get tons of wear out of it. I think I’ll make a shrug to go over it so I can use it year-round.

You can never have too many black dresses in your closet.

The way the McCalls 6556 is drafted. I can wear it as a scoop-neck or turn it around and wear it as a bateau neck with a lower back. I like both ways, but I think I prefer the scoop neck over the maxi dress. Here are pictures of it both ways.

Scoop neck Front…
High in the back. Or…
Bateau neck in front…
And a scooped back neckline. Decisions, decisions.

I have lots of time to decide. For now, it’s just nice to have it all done!

Conclusion: I love both these patterns. They go together easily, and they are classy/funky enough that I can wear them for many different occasions. I definitely recommend them!

Happy sewing!

Gala Dress Part Deux – Choosing the Pattern

I loved Allyn’s suggestion – using Jamie Christina’s Mission Maxi as the under-dress. It appeals to me on several levels. First, it’s bra-friendly. Second, I’ve made it once, so I already have the FBA and other adjustments. Third, I know how it fits, so all guesswork is taken out of it. Fourth, it’s a whopping two pieces. I’m not making the version with the train – it’s too much of a hassle on the dance floor. Thanks, Allyn!

I decided to make it from Italian Rayon Matte Jersey from Gorgeous Fabrics. BTW, did I mention that we’re having a knits sale this weekend? 20% off. Yeah, it’s all good!

Anyway, to make my life easier, I made full pattern pieces for the front and back. Matte jersey has a wonderful drape, but it does get rather slithery, especially when it’s folded on itself. This takes all that hassle away, and making the pattern pieces from muslin took less than 5 minutes, so it’s well worth it.

The fabric is wide enough so I can lay the pattern pieces next to each other. I’ll cut it out tomorrow on my lunch hour and hopefully have it sewn up this weekend. Wow – that would be a first – actually having my dress done well in advance of the gala. What a concept!

Happy sewing!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Welcome to October! You may be aware that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. You may also be aware that I am a breast cancer survivor, so this is a highly personal message today. Ladies, if you are over the age of 40 please, please make sure to get an annual mammogram. If you haven’t had one in at least a year, call to schedule one. The life you save could be your own. I know. I was not in any risk group. I was under age 50; I never smoked; I lead a healthy lifestyle. But bam! There it was. One in eight women will be diagnosed in her lifetime. The earlier you catch it, the better your chances for survival. So don’t wait. Please call to schedule your mammogram.

Also, to steal a concept from Tip O’Neill, I believe that, like politics, all healthcare is local. So this month, Gorgeous Fabrics will donate 10% of all cut-fabric (except muslin) sales to the Winchester Hospital Breast Care Center. Winchester BCC is where I was diagnosed, and they provide services and support to tens of thousands of women in the Boston area. So you can not only look great in your Gorgeous Fabrics, you can feel great about them too!

Happy sewing!