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!


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.


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!


That’s the amount of money I’m donating to the Winchester Hospital Breast Care Center. Thank you all so much! That’s about $300 more than last year, and it’s all for a great cause.

I’m writing the check out today so I am not tempted to use that money to buy a generator. Grumble grumble stoopid power company.

Thank you again, and happy sewing!

There are Still Some Trims and Texon Available!

Greetings, you philanthropic stitching types out there! You may remember that a couple of weeks back I cleaned out my sewing room and put some items up for sale. All proceeds of the sales went directly to Winchester Hospital Breast Care Center. Well, here’s your chance if you missed out on some of those items. There are still a few available! Someone had spoken for the Texon, but I haven’t heard back from her since, so I’m putting it up again. Texon is used by shoe and handbag manufacturers as a stiffener in soles and bags. It is THE BEST stiffener for hard-sided bags. Kate Spade uses it, as do Bottega Veneta, Gucci, Coach and most other handbag manufacturers. I used it when I was manufacturing handbags, and these are two pieces that have been hanging around my sewing room. The measurements are: 25 inches by 8 3/4 inches (more or less) and 44 inches by 10 1/2 inches (more or less). This time I’m selling each piece separately. The smaller piece is $15 and the larger piece is $20. Spoken for. If it falls through, I’ll let you all know

Texon - the best stiffener for handbags that you can't buy unless you're a pro.

Next up are two pieces of beaded fringe. One is hot pink, 1 3/8 yards, the other is blue, 2 yards. Both pieces are yours for $8.00

Both pieces are $8.00

Another trim is this cute beaded satin ribbon. It’s 3 yards, and it’s $12.00

Great for a purse, shawl or craft project

Next up is this totally groovy vintage ribbon. This is from the late 1960s or early 1970s. It belonged to my MIL and I inherited it. It’s 3 1/2 yards long and $15.00

How Brady Bunch is this??

And finally, a beautiful French beaded, scalloped lace trim. This will look fantastic as an edging for an evening outfit. There are 1 5/8 yards, and it goes for $8.00

This would look fab on a V-neck dress, wouldn't it?

If you want any of these, please send an email to ann “at” gorgeousfabrics “dot” com.

It’s first-come, first-served. I will accept checks from US residents. If you’re outside the US, payment must be made through Paypal, but I’ll redirect it to Winchester Hospital. If you write a check I’ll have you make it directly out to Winchester Hospital so you get the tax write-off. It’s all gorgeous stuff (of course) and it’s for a great cause, so come on down!

Happy sewing!

Hurricane Cleaning, and a Charitable Sale!

For the last week, all we have heard about on the east coast is Irene! Irene! Irene!

Well, she appears to be coming to the Northeast. But man, I can’t wait until she leaves, can you? Here in Boston, we’ve had rain, but no wind yet. That’s supposed to be here tomorrow. Today felt a little like Christmas Eve. Early in the day, the roads, malls, grocery stores and liquor stores were jammed. After about noon, everything was quiet. As a precaution, I took the Mustang (which has a tendency to leak in really bad rainstorms) to the garage at DH’s building. We brought the hibiscus and herbs inside and harvested the tomatoes, so I think we are pretty much ready (I hope).

Since there isn’t much happening here, I decided to clean my sewing room at home. Can I tell you something? I am the worst housekeeper in the world. Honestly, it’s true; ask Phyllis. But even I have my limits. My home sewing room is tiny, and I tend to spread out all over the horizontal surfaces. I needed to clean it. It was at the point where I hated to walk in there. Here – I’m willing to share my lousy-houskeeper shame:

From one angle
From the door
Notions area

It’s really more untidy than awful. So to fix it, I just needed to tidy things up. But tidying takes time, and takes movement, and takes decisions. And it also provides opportunities! You all know that I am a breast cancer survivor (I hope!). While I was cleaning things up, I came up with an idea. I have a number of trims and notions that I have in my stash. I don’t use them, and they can do a world of good. I was treated at Winchester Hospital. So I’m going to put these up for sale, and every penny will be donated to the Winchester Hospital Breast Care Center. Before I go into the details, let me show you what I’m putting up.

3 Yards of Beaded Trim - $12.00
Vintage Embroidered Ribbon 3 1/2 yards - $15
1 5/8 yards of Beaded Lace Scalloped Trim - $8.00
Beaded Fringes: Pink - 1 3/8 Yards, Blue - 2 yards. $8.00 for both pieces

And finally, two pieces of Texon. Texon is used by shoe and handbag manufacturers as a stiffener in soles and bags. It is THE BEST stiffener for hard-sided bags. Kate Spade uses it, as do most other handbag manufacturers. I used it when I was manufacturing handbags, and these are two pieces that have been hanging around my sewing room. The measurements are: 25 inches by 8 3/4 inches (more or less) and 44 inches by 10 1/2 inches (more or less).

If you want any of these items, please leave a comment. These are first-come, first-served. If you are in the US, I’ll have you make the payment directly to the Winchester Hospital Foundation, so you can get the tax write-off. If you’re outside of the US, payment must be made by Paypal, but it will be redirected to Winchester Hospital. I’ll contact you after you comment to arrange payment.

Have a great evening everyone, and survive the hurricane!

Leftovers Aren’t Just for Thanksgiving

Oh man, I couldn't eat another bite - er, sew another stitch!

Ah, Thanksgiving is behind us, and after the ritual gorging comes the Turkey Terrifics. You know those, sandwiches made with leftover turkey, mayonnaise, stuffing and cranberry sauce. It’s heaven on earth and a great way to use up leftovers.

But Thanksgiving isn’t the only thing that generates leftovers. So does sewing! The picture above has leftover fabrics from several recent projects. It’s one of the facts of sewing: there’s fabric flotsam and jetsam left when you finish a project. If you have a couture project, like the lace coat and the gala dress in my case, you can have a fair amount left. So what should you do with that fabric? Several options come to mind.

There are lots of places that will take your scraps and put them to excellent use. My local high school puts on plays and musicals each year. So the drama department is a frequent beneficiary. They love fabrics with visual interest that look good on stage. They can use anything that is a half-yard or larger.

The middle school in my town actually teaches sewing classes, so I give them fabrics that are easy for the kids to work with. Cottons, wools, flannels and the like are much appreciated and can make pajama shorts for young folks.

Many local hospitals can always use fabrics for blankets, chemo caps, comfort pillows and other similar objects. Soft cottons, flannels and fleeces are always appreciated.

Religious Institutions
Check with your local church, synagogue or mosque to see if they can use fabric. Many of them have volunteer groups that do sewing for charity.

Got fleece leftovers? All it takes is a quarter yard of a fleece piece to make a scarf. Contact your local homeless or battered women’s shelter. Many of them teach sewing as a skill. And they can always use wools, fleece, cottons and other fabrics.

Sell It
You would be amazed what people will buy. You won’t get rich on selling fabric scraps, but my daddy always said, “Never refuse cash.” Craigslist is a good option for selling your leftovers. And if you want to do some good at the same time, you can sell it and donate the proceeds to a worthy charity.

You’d be amazed at what people will buy, but you’ll be even more amazed at what people will take for free! If you have a lot of small scraps that you won’t use, put them on Freecycle or other trade site, or put an ad in your local or neighborhood news paper. Poof! It will be gone in a flash.

Local chapters of ASG (the American Sewing Guild) organize swap meets, and often will take donations of fabric for their charitable sewing activities. Find a chapter close to you at ASG’s Website

That’s a good start. How about you, dear readers? Any other favorite ways to keep fabric scraps from the landfill?

Happy sewing!

Happy Halloween!

The Great Pumpkin House
It’s the last day of October, can you believe it? I hope everyone has a great, fun, safe Halloween. I will be staying home tonight to hand out candy to the wee ones and Witches Brew to the grownups. It’s a tradition in our neighborhood.

I just want to remind everyone of two things. One: today is the last day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Ladies, if you are a woman over forty, please: get your annual mammogram. Early detection saves lives. I don’t want anyone to have to go through what I did. But one in eight will, and the chances of beating it are better the earlier it’s found.

Second, today is the last day of the Sale at Gorgeous Fabrics. And this Thursday I’ll be presenting a check for 5% of all fabric sales during the month of October to the Winchester Hospital Breast Care Center, where I was diagnosed and treated. Can I tell you a nice story? My neighbor at the office knew about my cancer. When we were talking the other day, I mentioned to him that I’m making a donation, and he asked me for the information so he could write a check, too. How sweet was that? Thank you Joe!

Have a great day. Phyllis is coming up this morning to the studio and we’re going to sew together. I’ll get her help fitting the corselette for the gala dress.

Happy sewing!

Emmett was in Town Last Night!

Actually, he’s been here since Wednesday. He’s doing work with Gretta Luxe in Copley Place. If you’re in Boston today, he’ll be there from 1-7 doing a trunk show. Go say hi!

Last night, he was a judge for an event to benefit the Faulkner-Sagoff Center, one of the premier breast care centers in the Boston area. They did a gala benefit, the highlight of which was a Project Runway-style show by students at the School of Fashion Design in Boston. Kevin Christiana, another Project Runway alum (season 4) was also a judge. It was a lot of fun, and it raised a lot of money for the center. But enough of me talking, let’s see pictures!

Emmett, me and Kevin. Emmett is really tall and makes cropping photos an adventure.

But, it can be done!
I’m wearing one of Emmett’s dresses, of course.

Courtney, Emmett’s able bodied (and really sweet) assistant.

Me and my BFAM

Check out the centerpieces!

I got to take one like this home. Kewl!

The runway show was a lot of fun. 5 seniors from the School of Fashion Design presented mini collections which were critiqued by a panel of four judges. All five contestants were incredibly talented, but the gal who won did a really superb job and was, as the judges described her, visionary. Here she is with her finale piece.
Here are a couple of other pieces from the collections:

There were also pieces displayed around the reception area. This was one that Courtney and I particularly liked.
The evening was a resounding success. It raised lots of money for a good cause. Emmett, Courtney and Kevin were fabulous and fun. All in all, a very successful evening!

I Have to Show You This Fabric

I have to show this one off. This is one of Emmett’s fabrics for Sewing Hope. I LOVE this so much. It’s a georgette that is embroidered with self-fabric ribbons all over. It is so fabulous! Really I’m showing it off for purely selfish reasons. I want someone to buy it so I don’t! C’mon – it’s for a great cause and all the proceeds from the sale of these fabrics benefit Sewing Hope. It’s sold as one piece. It’s 60 inches wide and I listed it as 2 1/2 yards, but it is really 2 1/2 yards full, with about another half yard that has a chunk taken out of it.

Thanks Allyn!
Happy sewing!