"Not Suitable for Obvious Diagonals"

Did you hear that it was -12 degF in Boston yesterday? We Bostonians are a quirky bunch. We line up for ice cream at the local shop in the middle of the winter, and when the temperature hits its nadir, I sew clothes for the warmer months. So, I have this wild print with which I am making a halter top for spring. The pattern is a bias-cut, sleeveless, cowl-necked top. It can be extended into a dress as well. It’s intended for wear under a jacket. But according to the pattern envelope, it is not intended for obvious diagonals.

Now, those words, “not suitable for obvious diagonals” have always been a bit of a challenge to me. It’s like saying “no Irish need apply” (yes, I’m of Irish descent). So of course, I have to make it out of a print that has diagonal tendencies. When you’re dealing with a bias cut, I would think that diagonal prints can be pretty interesting. Suddenly they become vertical, or horizontal. So why not have at them?

Here’s what I mean. The print, when laid out on the cutting table, was a Pucci-type wavy zigzag. Cut on the bias, it becomes (I hope) much more figure flattering vertical lines:

It’s nowhere near complete. I have to add the lower part of the top, insert the zipper and attach the rest of the cowl neck, but I think you can get the idea. I don’t slavishly follow pattern directions. If a fabric and print look like they will work, diagonals be hanged. There’s the lovely thing about sewing. You have control, and you can have lots of fun once you unleash your creativity and pair it with that control.

Happy sewing!

Next Up, More Stash Reduction

I’m going to try to get a little sewing done today before I head out for New York. I’m attempting to reduce my stash pretty seriously before stocking up again. The NYC trip is not going to help there, I know. But I went rooting through one of my stash drawers, and dug out this wild Pucci-inspired silk print:

This was a sample run, and it presents a few interesting issues. First, you can see where the print screens overlapped. Look at the line in the middle of the fabric. Second, this could be considered a diagonal print. I never set much store by the “not recommended for obvious diagonals” warning on patterns. I’m not even sure I’ve ever seen a Big 4 pattern without that warning on it. So this fabric will present interesting layout opportunities. I’ll use a single layer layout for it. I think I’m going to make this out-of-print Vogue pattern that has been sitting in my stash for ages, 2570:

View D is a bias-cut sleeveless top with a cowl neck. It will be nice under jackets for the spring. This will definitely be interesting. Stay tuned…

Happy sewing!

Vogue Early Spring Patterns are Up

Man, this is the boring season, isn’t it? There isn’t too much to really hate in this collection, but there isn’t a lot to love, either. Like the New Looks, this collection is just kind of ‘meh’. I actually had a hard time finding anything to say much of anything about. Except these:

I actually like these fish! They’re goofy, but they are kind of cute. Okay, I admit. I’m a SCUBA diver, and I have been since I was 25 (four years ago), so these appeal to me. I’m not sure I’d actually make them, especially since my kids are getting old for stuffed toys, but I like them.

As far as the clothes? Sigh….. Let’s see. That one? No, it’s a rehash. That one? Yawn, another dress under a Jackie Kennedy jacket. How about that? No, no, no. Such a snoozer of a collection.

Alright, let me snap out of it and see if I can find something, anything.
This dress, 2943:

Has an interesting back, and I like the side panels that wrap around to the front and have bust darts. It presents some interesting fitting opportunities. But those floppies on the hips and at the sleeves can be deadly!

This Sandra Betzina top:

Looks almost exactly like a bias cut OOP Vogue Pattern from the 90s that I made several times.

Another Betzina jacket:

Bears a striking resemblance to a Geoffrey Beene bestseller pattern, also from Vogue:

This suit, 2958:

Presents some good possibilities for playing with grain or contrast in the jacket panels and collar. It reminds me just a bit of a Valentino couture outfit I saw at the Museum of Fine Arts last week.

Other than that, there really wasn’t much that attracted me. I kind of liked 8355:

But back in the late 80s I owned a Thierry Mugler original in a purple wool/leather that looked almost exactly like that. It had straight sleeves, though, and I think that changing the sleeves to a close-fitting straight sleeve and doing it in some interesting fabrications would make it look less “Mother of the Bride”.

There’s an interesting Claire Shaeffer jacket. Well, interesting if it includes instructions for making those buttons:

But unfortunately, my overriding impression was to take a pass on this collection. I’m sure there will be some others down the line that appeal to me, but not this group. Oh well….

Happy Sewing!

Pattern Review – Vogue 8305

I’m singing with Coro Allegro this weekend. Concert dress is black: It can be a long dress with long sleeves. It can also be a long skirt or pants, and long-sleeved top. I have a pair of nice Alberto Makali pants I bought two years ago. So I decided to go with the top. But I don’t own a long-sleeved black top. So I decided to make one. I had this pattern in my stash, and I decided to give it a whirl.

This is the top from the Vogue Wardrobe pattern. From the pattern envelope: “Loose-fitting, unlined jacket has shaped front hems and long sleeves which may be worn open, or lower edges of front can be tied at waist or draped over shoulder. Purchased pin or belt. Fitted top or below mid-knee dress has raised back neckline, back zipper and long sleeves. Tapered pants have self-lined yoke, back zipper and side slits at ankles.” I made view B.

Sizing: This pattern comes in 6-24. I made a 14.

Fabric Used: Rayon matte jersey.

Any Changes to the Pattern? A few, mostly minimal. I did a FBA, which involved slightly more work because the pattern pieces are separate for the left and right fronts. I also left out the zipper, thanks to a comment from Pam on my Works In Progress post. She had found that the zipper is unnecessary, and in her case, just didn’t look good. I decided to try it without a zipper. If I couldn’t slip the top over my head, I would go back and insert a side zipper. As it turns out, the rayon jersey has enough stretch that I don’t need a zipper. I think in many cases, you can leave the zipper out of this top. If I make the dress, I will put it in the side seam using the hand insertion method that Susan Khalje explained in Threads magazine a couple of years ago.

I have to grouse a bit. What is it with pattern companies telling you to insert sleeves in knit garments using the eased-in method? This pattern tells you to, and the Burda 8028 Sweater did as well. Both of these patterns state explicitly that they are for stretch knits only. You don’t need to set in a sleeve in a stretch knit garment. In 99% of the cases, you can sew it in shirt-style (before the side seams are closed up. This is much easier, I think. And that is what I did with this pattern.

I serged all the seams, which was a little tricky on the tension with the gathered side, but it turned out fine. This knit doesn’t ravel, so I took Sewing Diva MaryBeth’s advice and simply trimmed the hems and left them unfinished. I think it looks fine, and it is rather sleek looking.

Comments on This Pattern: This is a very well drafted pattern. It goes together well, and is very versatile. I have more matte jersey, and I may make this into the dress, since I realized I don’t have a basic black dress that doesn’t look dated.

This took me about 3 hours to cut and sew. It’s a good pattern for an advanced beginner/early intermediate level sewist and above. And I think it turned out really well.

Happy sewing!

Gorgeousthings.com Appears to be Down

Hmmm, Barry must have the site down for maintenance. Well, here’s a picture of the coat that I reviewed on Stitchers Guild and Patternreview:

The buttons are two buttons (a flat mother of pearl and a shanked iridescent plastic button) sewn on top of one another. The fabric I used is the camel hair I bought from Kashi in July. I lined it with a brocade he sold me last year.

Oh Gee, sorry – Gaylen reminds me that I should be posting better info. The pattern is Vogue 8307, the Armani coat knockoff.

Happy Sewing!

Narrowing the Choices

I hit the JoAnn Vogue Pattern sale two weekends ago, and among other things, I narrowed my choice for the Winchester Hospital Breast Care Center gig to these two dresses:

Vogue 2801 is a serious contender. I love the draping, and I think the overlay would be great in the charmeuse, with the crepe as the underlay.

I would probably end up bustling the train. We’re expecting about 700 people at the gala this year, and last year I was very grateful to have put a wrist loop on the train of my Flamenco dress. Face it, no one ever intends to step on your dress, but when you get a bunch of doctors cutting loose on the dance floor after a couple of cocktails, it’s better to be safe than sorry.


Vogue 2774 is another strong contender. Thanks to SBanks for pointing that one out to me. I really like the almost Grecian lines of this fabric, and the drape could work in either of the fabrics. I’d have to mock it up on the dress form to see which I prefer – charmeuse as overlay or as the under piece.

The other thing I am on a quest for to make whichever of these gowns I choose is cotton tulle. I have Kashi at Metro Textiles looking for me. He had tons of it last year, but so far can’t find any. Anyone have a source? I’m very grateful for any info. I need it to make the bustier that will be the underpinning of the gown.

Happy Sewing!

Back to the Sewing Room

Thanks for letting me vent yesterday. I went back to the sewing room for some therapeutic stitchin’. And I decided to make a top. Last weekend I made a New Look skirt that I reviewed here at PatternReview. Our best man, JJ, is celebrating his 10th anniversary, and tonight we are going out to dinner with him and his wife. So I decided to make a top to go with it. I had enough of the polka dot fabric to make a shell. And I had this pattern in my stash from ages ago:

It’s an out of print Vogue Basic pattern for a princess line shell with neckline variations. It’s a great pattern. I made it a couple of years back for a “We’re Sick of Winter Party” – a bash we throw each February where we crank the heat to 80, make rum drinks and tropical appetizers and put Jimmy Buffett and Merrymen on the stereo. Everyone wears shorts and Aloha shirts under their winter coats, and we have a great time.

Back to the present. I pulled out this pattern and in about 3 hours had a new top. There are a couple of things that I changed about it, but the most important thing to do when making a top like this, regardless of your fabric, is press the bejeezus out of it as you go along. The success or failure of a garment like this depends directly on how well you press your seams. I wrote an article in Threads magazine and I wrote about it on PatternReview way back when. My students call me the pressing nazi, mostly affectionately I think, because I’m always riding them about pressing properly. Let me put it to you this way. Do you know that, in most factories, the pressers earn more than the seamstresses? True. They spend more time with the garment, shaping it. And I’ll tell you, the simpler the garment, the more critical pressing is to its final look and quality.

Another change I made is to use a more ready to wear approach and insert an invisible zipper in the left side seam. Unlike the directions, I positioned the stop at the underarm and had the zip go all the way to the hem of the garment. Other than that, not much. You can read the full review here on PatternReview. Here’s a picture of the finished garment:

I’m going to wear it tonight, and since it’s getting chilly in the evenings, I’ll probably bring this jamovar shawl that I bought from Heritage Trading on ebay:

Happy Sewing!

Looking for Inspiration

I know it’s early, but I’m already thinking about my dress for the Winchester Hospital Breast Care Center annual gala. This year it’s going to be held on November 11. I’ve been involved with the BCC for quite some time, and this is the one black tie event that I actually am willing to show up for. Since I’m on the board, I want to look nice. Last year I made a dress, dubbed Judy’s Beautiful Dress, named for a student of mine who was undergoing treatment for cancer at the center.

This year, I want to make a dress again. I have some silk charmeuse that has been aging in my stash since last year:
It’s a gorgeous, Italian burnout charmeuse. It has an ivory background with large peonies and flowers in shades of red, yellow and coral. It’s an absolute stunner, and I bought it (any guesses?) for the stunning price of $12/yard. As an aside, that same weekend I saw the exact same fabric on a dress form at Sposabella fabrics on West 40th. I had to check it out, so I dragged poor Sewing Diva Phyllis in with me and innocently asked how much. $40/yard, and the sales lady went on about how good a price that was! Yeah, right. I also bought several yards of peach colored 4 ply silk to coordinate with it when Kashi called me earlier this month.

So now the question is, what should I make? Here are some possibilities:
I like this pattern, Vogue 2801. It has good possibilities for using both fabrics, with the charmeuse as the top and the crepe as the skirt. I also like the neckline on it, and I can use Kenneth King’s CD Book, Birth of a Bustier to build the foundation and give myself a good challenge as well as a great fit.

I already own Vogue 2810, a two piece corset/skirt pattern. I’m not sure I really like it for this fabric, though. I don’t think the corset would showcase the floral charmeuse (big flowers, small pattern pieces). The more I think about it the less inclined I am to use it. I just don’t think it will work. I think I’ll just leave it in the stash for future use.

Vogue 2890 is pretty, but it calls for 60 inch wide fabric, so I’m not sure it will work very well. Plus, the rosettes are a little much with the peony fabric. And if you watch Project Runway this season, you’ll understand my aversion to too much wickety-wack trim. This is tasteful, but it’s still a little more than I am comfortable with.

Marfy 9541 is a remote contender. Unfortunately, I have only made one Marfy pattern so far. It was a skirt. It went togther just fine, but I’m leery about how their patterns are to work with. this one is not too complex, which is part of its appeal. But I can’t tell much about it from the drawing. I really wish they would put technical line drawings in their catalogues, not just these fantasy figure drawings.

Well, I do have some time before I need to make up my mind. JoAnn is having a sale this weekend on Vogue patterns, so I may just pick up a few at that and see if any thing strikes my fancy. I’ll report back, and I’m always open to suggestions.

Until then, happy sewing!