Year of the Little Black Dress is Coming Up!

Grettings, you fabulous blog readers! For any of you in the Boston/New England area, the countdown is on to the inaugural Year of the Little Black Dress meeting. Sue Bennett will lead a seminar on fitting as the kickoff. ASDP and Sue did a fitting seminar that was incredibly well received last year. Even if you attended that one, I’d encourage you to come to this one. The focus will be different, and will cover things not covered last time. It’s going to be a great time. Hurry, though – space is limited and it’s filling up!

Date: Sunday, October 2, 2011
Time: 1:00 PM
Location: Berlin Town Hall, Berlin MA
Cost: $20 (free for ASDP New England members)

To register, contact
Maureen Egan, 12 Hamilton Way, Westfield, MA 01085

In addition, there will be classes with Susan Khalje and Anna Mazur, and it all culminates in a fashion show for participants! For more information on the entire series of The Year of the Little Black Dress, check out the ASDP New England Website.

The Perfect LBD Fabric
Of course, I would be remiss not to mention that we have the perfect fabrics at Gorgeous Fabrics to make your LBD, whether you’re taking part in the YotLBD or just looking to make yourself a spectacular dress or suit. For my own version, I’m pairing this Italian Tropical Stretch Wool/Cashmere fabric with Style Arc’s Paris Dress. I think it’s going to be great. The drawing is very Lee McQueen or Victoria Beckham. And this fabric? Omigawd, it’s soooo fabulous! It’s incredibly soft. The cashmere makes all the difference. I just want to roll in it!

Please note that the ASDP and ASDP New England do not endorse Gorgeous Fabrics. I’m just putting in a shameless plug for my business along with plugging the series.

Parting Shot: Peridot!
Love this color from Chanel. It’s supposed to be the hot color for the fall. Last week when I was snoop shopping in Boston, I decided to treat myself.

It’s got more green and blue in it than shows up in the photo. It’s very iridescent. I think it will look great with a LBD, don’t you?

Happy sewing!

Pippa Dress Muslin

You are probably wondering, “Where does the Pippa Dress stand?”  “You promised us pictures”, you’re probably thinking. I know you think about me all the time, right? 🙂

Well, I did promise pictures, and I’m making good on that promise.

I’m taking my time on this dress. Much like the dress I wore to the Gala last year, I really want this one to be perfect. So I’ve been futzing with the fit. I want it to be comfortable; not too tight, but really well fitted through the bust and shoulders.

That’s what’s been taking so long. Alas, I have about 20 years, two kids, and treatment for breast cancer, over Pippa Middleton, so I can’t just “whip it up” without a few (give or take a dozen) changes.

The first thing that needed to be done was an FBA, along with lowering the bust point (sigh) and adding a dart. Kenneth King showed me the most wonderfully easy and painless way to lower the bust point. Basically, it involves adding length between the shoulder and the BP, then taking up an equal amount of length between the bust and the waist. Doh! Why didn’t I think of that? KK is a god.

Front of the muslin, without the cowl overlay

After trying it on, Susan Khalje and I agreed that the V-neckline as it was drafted was too high for me. I don’t want to show any cleavage, but I wanted it down about an inch and a half, so we lowered it. I also was not thrilled with the way the sleeve sat on me. It sticks away from the body. The stiff muslin exacerbates the effect, but I knew that I wanted it to sit closer to the shoulder line like the original McQueen did. So we put a curved center seam down the sleeve and reshaped it, changing the point where it goes into the armscye. It looks much better on the body this way.

Original cap sleeve...
... And after adjusting it

You can also see that I’ve adjusted the angle of the V-neck to lay close to my body. Moving around the back, lowering the bust point meant adjusting the style lines. You can see the original seamline for the upper back bodice (the dotted line) with the redrawn line below it. I also did a slight swayback adjustment.

Muslin back

Some minor changes that I also need to make include taking in the hip area a bit. I’ve got a swimmer’s build – big on top and not very curvy at the hips. I also need to add a couple of inches in length to the skirt.

Finally, we checked the fit of the cowl. It needs a little more length, thanks to the aforementioned bust adjustments. We also put darts into it to give a much smoother line.

Cowl overlay

The thing that’s taking the most time right now is that each of these minor details needs to be transferred back onto the lining, which is a darted sheath. The neckline, the sleeve and armhole, the length; all of these need to be changed in the lining as well. So I’m taking it low and slow. I don’t need the dress until December 3rd. And the reason I’m taking my time? Because the real dress is going to be made from these:

Because I'm worth it.

The fabrics are 4-Ply Silk Crepe and Silk Habotai (both these colors are sold out, sorry) from Gorgeous Fabrics. The lace is a French beaded lace from Lace Star in New York. Needless to say, I want the muslin to be perfect before I cut into them.

Have I told you lately how much I love muslins? I know people whine about them, but nothing gives you the down and dirty fitting precision of a muslin. This dress is absolutely worth every minute it takes to make it fit right. In fact, I’d say that’s true for most things we sew. It’s worth it, and so are we!

So that’s where the Pippa Dress stands. More as it progresses…
Happy sewing!

Pattern Review – StyleArc Hepburn Riding Skirt

StyleArc Hepburn Riding Skirt

Pattern Description: Basic “A” line skirt with inverted front pleat and slant pockets suitable for any woven fabric.

Sizing: 6-24. I made a 10.

Fabric Used: Stretch Denim in Bright Indigo from Gorgeous Fabrics. It’s sold out, sorry, but I do have several stretch denims that would work up beautifully into this pattern.

Needle/Notions Used: 70/11 needle, thread, two skirt/trouser hooks and eyes, invisible zipper, Pro-Tricot fusible interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply.

Tips Used during Construction:
And Now, A Word from the Pressinatrix
A Tip for Stretch Fabrics
Els’ Invisible Zipper Tutorial (at the Sewing Divas)

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

How were the instructions? Minimal. StyleArc Patterns assume that you have some basic knowledge of sewing. They don’t spoon feed you. For this skirt, you need to know how to insert a zipper. You need to understand terms like “bag out” and “sink stitch”. I did find one error in my pattern instructions. They tell you to topstitch along the pleat per the markings on the pattern. I didn’t transfer any markings for the stitching line when I cut the pattern out. I figured I had overlooked it, but when I checked the pattern, there were no markings on it. No big. I eyeballed it and stitched down 4 inches from the top of the skirt front:

4 inches from the top, with 3/8 inch seams

Construction Notes: Not too many. I serged all the seams, and I serged the waistband to the skirt. I used a slightly brighter blue thread than the denim for all the topstitching and the hem. After debating about whether to blind hem or not, I opted not. Instead of a button, I used two hooks and eyes for waistband closures.

I stole this idea from a pair of RTW pants I own.

One thing to note is that this skirt is pretty long. I’m 5’6″, and I had to take 4 inches off the bottom to get it to knee length.

Likes/Dislikes: This skirt pattern reminds me of the skirts I used to wear for my high school uniform. I think it’s cute. This is a pretty heavy denim. It will be an end-of-the-summer-into-fall skirt. I think it will look great with boots. Before then, I’ll wear it with espadrilles and a tank top.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Yes to both. I think making this in a softer fabric would change the entire look and feel of this skirt. I’m tempted to try it in a soft cotton next.

Conclusion: I am really, really impressed with the StyleArc patterns I’ve sewn so far. They are beautifully drafted and practically fall together. I can’t say enough good things about them. NAYY, just a big fan. Here’s a picture of the finished skirt on Shelly. Mind you, she has a much smaller waist than I do these days, so it sits a little funny on her.

Ta daa!

Next up, I have to make a paso doble skirt for Tatiana. Big ol’ circle skirt. Lots and lots of matte finish milliskin. Stay tuned!

Happy sewing!

Pattern Review – StyleArc Laura Knit Legging

Pattern Description: From the website, “LAURA LEGGING: Easy to make this pull on legging. Must be made in a knit stretch fabric.”

Sizing: 6-30, I made a size 10.

Fabric Used: Modal rayon jersey that I’ve had in my stash for several years. Naturally it came from Gorgeous Fabrics. I used the same fabric to make Hotpatterns’ Uptown Downtown Dress.

Needle/Notions Used: Stretch 70/10 needle. Elastic from Fashion Sewing Supply. Thread.

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

How were the instructions? They are pretty minimal. These patterns assume you have some knowledge of sewing. I also constructed them differently than the way the instructions indicate (more on that later).

Construction Notes: The steps I used to construct these leggings are as follows:

  1. Sew inseam of each leg.
  2. Turn one leg inside out and the other right side out.
  3. Put one leg inside the other leg, having right sides together. Match inseams and notches at the front crotch and back crotch.
  4. Stitch crotch in a continuous seam.

These leggings practically sew themselves, they are that well drafted.

Any changes? Nope.

Likes/Dislikes: Love the way these go together and how they look on. I’ll get a picture on me at some point. These are for the fall, and it’s kind of warm right now for them. One minor nit: these are really long. The inseam on the full length version is 33 1/2″. I actually kind of like it, and I’ll “puddle” them at my ankles, but if you want something less lengthy, you should adjust the length in advance.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Yes and yes! Seriously, this is a great pattern. It took less than an hour to cut out and sew. There’s one pattern piece. This is a great pattern for beginners as well as advanced stitchers.

Conclusion: Love! Here are some crappy phone pictures on Mutt:


Happy sewing!

Pattern Review – StyleArc Creative Cate Top

Pattern Description: From the WebsiteCREATIVE CATE TOP: This is such a great versitile top that can be worn in lots of different ways – just leave it up to your creative imagination. Simple to make and simple to wear!
Adding to that a little, this is a cowl neck pullover top with cut-on cap sleeves.

How Easy Is It to Sew? On a scale of 1-10, 1! This is a great pattern for beginners

Sizing: 6-24. I made a 10.

Fabric Used: Soft and Elegant Jersey in Bright Turquoise Blue

Needle/Notions Used: Stretch 75/11, thread. That’s it!

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

How were the instructions? They were pretty minimal. I haven’t looked through all the patterns I purchased from StyleArc, but I get the feeling they assume you have some knowledge of sewing – not much, but they don’t spoon feed you. That said, this pattern is, indeed, simple to make. It practically falls together.

Construction Notes: I serged the seams and back neck binding, and used a narrow zigzag to make the hems. Seriously, this pattern practically sews itself. It’s a one-hour top, start to finish.

Any changes? Nope.

Likes/Dislikes: Simple, easy to make, hand drafted (!!!). I love the fit on these patterns. Unlike some that I have sewn recently, they are closer to RTW in their shoulder/upper chest drafting. I think I’m going to order a jacket pattern to give them a real smoke test.

Edit on 6/5 at 10:30 AM I am wearing the top now, and there’s another thing I really love about it. It doesn’t fall off my shoulders and it’s bra-friendly. I just walked Hoover and didn’t have to hike it up on my shoulder even once. That’s a nice change from some of the cowl-neck patterns I’ve sewn in the past.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Oh yes. This is a great pattern for beginners or advanced. I can see this becoming a go-to pattern for summer tops. I’m going to wear mine today.

Conclusion: Another winning pattern from StyleArc. Here’s a picture on Shelley:

Easy and stylish!

Now I need to hit the sales at Nordstroms or the local thrift shops to find some stylin’ clip earrings to play with.

Happy sewing!

Pattern Review – StyleArc Cruise Club Kim Dress

Pattern Description: From the StyleArc Website – “CRUISE CLUB KIM DRESS: Fabulous all occasion dress – an easy comfortable shapes that doesn’t cling to our lumps. Pop on a necklace and heals and you are ready for dinner or a pair of flats and you will be looking good for a day’s sightseeing.

Adding my own to the description, this is a slightly A-line, knit tank dress with bound neckline and armholes.

Sizing: 6-26. Each size comes separately. I made a size 10.

Fabric Used: For once I used two fabrics that I still have in stock! The main body of the dress is Soft and Elegant Rayon Jersey in Bright Turquoise Blue. The bindings are Abstract Animal-y Rayon Print Jersey.

Needle/Notions Used: 75/11 Stretch needles, scraps of Pro-Tricot interfacing, thread.

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

How were the instructions? Minimal. This is a very easy pattern, and it practically sews itself, so you really don’t need instructions. But for beginners, the instructions might be a little confusing. For instance, they tell you to apply bindings, but they don’t say how. You can use one of (at least) two methods, either Bound Edges, or the one I used (see construction notes).

Construction Notes: As I said, this pattern goes together beautifully. I serged all both the seams. I fused scraps of Pro-Tricot interfacing to the back shoulders before sewing them. I decided to use This Method to Apply the Bindings. I used my regular sewing machine to do the hem.

Any changes? None.

Likes/Dislikes: I like the ease of this dress. I like the drafting of the pattern – hand drafted! Full pattern pieces! Yay! I also really like that the pattern came with a sample of fabric so you can see the weight and stretch that they recommend. There is one issue that I found, and it’s pretty minor. There is an extra pattern piece that isn’t accounted for in the drawings or instructions. It’s called “Raw Nk Trim”. It’s not obvious what it’s for, and the instructions never mention it. Just use the neck binding instead.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Oh yes! This is a great pattern that goes together in under an hour. Definitely a keeper.

Conclusion: It’s chilly today or I would be wearing it. It will be perfect for summer. It’s the kind of dress that you can style lots of ways, up or down. I can see this dressed up with a black belt and sandals, or just by itself on hot days. Here are some pictures on Shelley:

Close up of the neck/armhole bindings

Next up is the Creative Cate top, in the same blue fabric.

Happy Sewing!

StyleArc First Impressions

First off, thank you, everyone, for your lovely wishes on Larry’s and my anniversary. It was a wonderful day. With some wild-ass weather! We missed the tornadoes – they went south of us, but there was still a lot of lightning. Even Hoover, who is usually blissfully unaware of thunder, didn’t like it. We were luckier than many.

I’ve been grabbing some spare minutes here and there to work on a couple of StyleArc patterns. Not the Pippa dress – I’m saving that one for the Winchester Hospital Gala. Besides, I want to try some of the others before I dive into that. I have almost finished the Cruise Club Kim Dress. I just need to hem it. I threw it on for a preliminary look, and it’s pretty great for a weekend dress. I also cut out the Creative Cate Top. That was a freebie with a purchase in May. It looks good so far. I want to show you something I really like about these patterns. Actually, two things. First, they are hand drafted. No software – these are done meticulously by hand. Can I tell you how much I love that?

Second – full pattern pieces!!! Not “cut one on fold”. Just lay these patterns out on your fabric and you’re good to go. Here’s a picture of the fronstpiece of the Cate top. I love it for two reasons. First – notice the pattern label is upside down (that’s the hand drafting). Second – full pattern piece!

Look ma! Hand-drafted!

I hope to have both done for the weekend and I’ll review them as soon as I do. In the meantime,

Happy sewing!

Springtime At Last!


At last!

Halleluia, the sun finally came out! Honestly, I think I started to grow moss behind my ears, it’s been so wet for so long. But yesterday, just in time for the Junior Prom (more on that later), the rain stopped, the clouds parted and the sun came out. Today, we spent the day re-potting tomatoes and herbs. Phyllis gave us a bunch of tomato plants when we visited them a couple of weekends back. In years past, we’ve had a small garden, but last year we decided to plow it under and this year we’re growing in pots. In addition to the tomatoes, we have basil, rosemary, Thai basil, oregano, thyme and cilantro. All of them are on or next to the deck, so they’ll be handy for cooking.

I haven’t made any progress on my Vogue dress, since it’s been so lovely and I wanted needed to be outside today. But I’m hoping to cut out the lining and get going on the construction tomorrow. I’m anxious to get that done so I can start on my next set of patterns. My mojo has returned with a vengeance, and that coincides nicely with the delivery of my patterns from StyleArc.I stumbled across them recently on someone’s blog. Sorry, I can’t remember where I first heard of them, but Sherril has been working some of their patterns up recently, so maybe it was on her blog. I bought several patterns from them, including:

Cruise Club Kim Dress

Cruise Club Kim Dress

which will be perfect for vacation this year in this Abstract Animal-y Rayon Jersey

Sailor Sue Palazo (sic) Pant

Saucy Sue the Sailor

Hepburn Riding Skirt (Cidell – this looks like it might be a great biking skirt)

I'm thinking denim...

Samantha Top

Everyone needs a good raglan top, including me.

And just for fun, and possibly for the Winchester Hospital Gala this year, Pippa’s Dress

Not in white for me, but perhaps in red a la Alexander McQueen

As a bonus, I got the Creative Cate Top

I do love me a cowl neck top

Well, that gives me a hobby.

Parting Shot: Prom Night!
Last night was the Junior Prom, and DS the Eldest went with his girlfriend (!!!). Here they are at a friend’s house for the parental pre-prom photo-op

Note the matching lime green Converses

Happy sewing!