Taming the Trim Beast

My “Singing Gig Dress” provided instructional to me on several levels. First was the fit/matte jersey issue that I discussed yesterday on the Sewing Divas Blog. The second conundrum I ran into was the trim. The neckline of the dress is curved. The trim I used was a heavily encrusted, beaded trim that was backed with a lightweight buckram. This made it pretty inflexible.

So my quandary was, how to curve this to conform to the neckline edge without distorting the jersey dress? First thing that needed attention was the dress’ neckline. It needed interfacing to stabilize it. I thought about using a hair canvas on the facing, but between that and the buckram backing on the trim, I think it would have been too stiff and would not lay flatteringly against the body. Instead, I interfaced both the neckline and the facing with fusible tricot. This gave the support the trim needs but maintained the flexibility I want.

Once the dress was ready, I designed a template by tracing the neckline of the dress onto oaktag paper. I traced the entire neckline, including the back, and I decided to use that to shape and press the trim into shape.

After a very little experimentation (I didn’t have enough trim to do many tries), I realized that there was just no way to curve the trim around the back of the neckline. The beading and buckram made that impossible. So the trim only extends to the shoulders. I didn’t want to risk ruining the beading, so to press it into the shape of the collar, I worked from the back of the trim, with a silk organza press cloth and sparing amounts of steam. This took a fair amount of time, and I ended up sticking pins in the trim to hold it in place and set the shape while it cooled. The result was a good match for the neckline of the dress.

Once the trim was ready, I used a length of single-strand waxed thread to whipstitch it in place along the inner and outer borders. This project took a fair amount of time and patience, but like anything of this ilk, it was worth both. I’m quite pleased with the results.

Happy sewing!

Tim's Here!!!!

The mail came, and my DS the younger came upstairs with a package for me, saying, “Dad says you’ll be amused.” I was perplexed, until I saw the return address: EMC2. At first I thought that it was from EMC the computer storage manufacturer (old nerd habits die hard), but then I realized it was from Emmett McCarthy, the season 2 Project Runway designer, and I ripped open the package, and here he is!!!
How cool is this? It felt like Christmas when I opened the box. And he signed it!

“I’d like to thank the Academy”

And look, our glasses match!

I know; I’m a goofy goober, but he’s my hero. He will take his place of honor on the shelf in my sewing room, and whenever I get stuck, I’ll look up at him, and he’ll (figuratively) say, “Make it work!” If you want to get your own, pop over to Project Rungay and they have the information for how to order one.

Speaking of making things work, I finished my dress. It turned out pretty okay. I’ll talk about it over at the Sewing Divas.

Happy bobble-heading!

Fit Class Started Tonight!

I’m so happy. My “Fit a Skirt Pattern” started tonight. I have a group of (all returning) students. Tonight’s class was all about explaining pattern sizing vs. RTW, and getting their measurements. It was hilarious and gratifying. We’re going to work from the skirt in Simplicity 5311:
It’s a multi-sized pattern that includes both misses and women’s sizes. The roughest part so far (and I knew this would be the case) is trying to convince students that the size on the pattern just doesn’t matter. They took their measurments and were practically screaming, “What do you mean, I’m a size 16!?!” My assurances that especially in patterns, size is just a number, fell on deaf ears for about 15 minutes. I’m hoping they come back. I’ll let you know.

Happy fitting!

Ramadan Begins

(Image from www.cucinaironia.it)

I’m not sure if there is a greeting for those celebrating Ramadan. I hope those who do have easy fasts and find peace and revelation during the Holy Month. And to quote another religious source (no, I’m not one of THOSE, I’m just trying to keep it equitable), “Peace on Earth, goodwill to all.”

I’m working on the final version of the singing gig dress, so I’ll post about that this week. Meanwhile, happy Sunday!

L'Shana Tova

(Photo by David Morrison)

I hope I spelled that right. Please let me know if I didn’t – I’ll plead Irish Catholic. Happy New Year to those celebrating Rosh Hashanna. I’m singing with a local group in November, and the piece is called “Shofar”. It’s a world premier by a local composer and it is inspired by the blowing of the Shofar (ram’s horn) on Rosh Hashanna. It’s a very cool work, with a 60-piece orchestra.

So happy new year to those celebrating, and happy autumnal equinox to all!

Matte Jersey, Friend or Foe?

The story so far:

I’m making Butterick 4849 for a singing gig I have in two weeks. My decision on fabrication was – and still is – a rayon matte jersey that I bought from Kashi at Metro Textiles in New York. I am n admitted muslin hound. I had not made this pattern before, and I have had spotty results with the fit on Butterick patterns, so I decided to make one. Since I’m working with a 4 way stretch, I started with a size 12. I should use a size 12 in patterns always, based on my cross-chest measurement. But I get lazy sometimes, and use a 14, since I can mostly fit in that size. First I made a bodice muslin without sleeves from a stretch lightweight wool. I hoped to just get an idea of the fit over the bust. I don’t have that muslin anymore, unfortunately. I threw it out last week in a big cleaning fit. But take my word for it, it was the right size, and it indicated that I needed to both do a full bust adjustment, and lower the empire waist seam by about 5/8″ to give myself the room and look I was going for. So I adjusted the bodice pieces accordingly:

Once that was done, I found some remnants of the same rayon matte jersey in brown that I had used to make another outfit. I didnt’ have enough to make the whole bodice, so I had yet more jersey in black (Kashi is very persuasive) that I used for the trim on the bodice and, ultimately, the skirt. I started sewing, and immediately noticed a problem. The crosswise stretch on this beast was huge! The bust on the pattern as it is printed for a size 12 is 40 1/2″. I added room with the FBA, but when I basted the seams together, I was swimming in the top. At this point I had decided to use the muslin to make a dress for myself for the fall, so I went back, adjusted the seams, and re-stitched with much wider seam allowances. It was better, but still big. I basted on the skirt, and then closed up the back seam. I was going to put a zipper in, but this baby has so much room that I can pull it on over my head.

The other thing I noticed was that, like slinky knits (which I have decided I hate, BTW), this fabric seems to be prone to length creep. It’s not as bad as slinky, which I compare to wearing bungee cord fabric on your back, but it definitely gets weighed down. Check out the length of the bodice on this dress:

Definitely longer than the original, two-way stretch muslin was. I haven’t hemmed any of the sleeves or such. I’d like to try to salvage this, and I know what I need to do to make it work (Love that Tim Gunn!). But I think I’ll come back to this one and institute the changes on my final version.

One final note. I did pre-wash all the fabrics to get any shrinkage (significant) out. But matte jersey stretches like crazy. I’ll keep you posted. If I were making this in a non-stretch, I think most of my adjustments would be pretty dead on. But I’m going to have to rein them in with this fabric. Lesson learned – when working with a new fabric (matte jersey is pretty new to me), make a muslin!

I’ll keep you posted, and when the final version is done, I’ll review the pattern.

Happy sewing!

Rumours of My Internet Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

I thought about calling this post “But I’m Not Dead Yet!” , but I’m not sure how many of you are Monty Python fans. Do you remember that skit? John Cleese is walking through the town with a wheelbarrow calling, “Bring out your dead!” One of the others brings out Michael Palin, who says, “But I’m not dead yet!”. Okay, it’s been a while since I saw that episode. If I got the wrong actors, please forgive me. And let me know so I can fix this post. Now back to the topic at hand….

First, please accept my sincere thanks to those who have asked me to continue posting. I promise I will. I will post here; I’ll post at The Sewing Divas. I’ll post at Stitchers’ Guild. I may even post again at PatternReview. I haven’t made up my mind, but I’m not spending a lot of thought on it. I’ll say this, any decision I make won’t be public. That’s no commentary on MB’s post. Which, by the way, was a fine example of irony. Most people don’t get irony. MaryBeth does. Brava, MB!

No, I’m not going away. I’m working on an interesting fitting issue on my Butterick Dress, It has to do with matte jersey and crosswise stretch. I’m going to talk about that as soon as it’s done, which will be tomorrow. At the same time, I’m helping my friend Danielle ready her store to reopen. She was struck by lightning in July. It caused a fire, after which someone broke in an looted the store. Man, people can be so nasty. I wish there was a nasty free zone. I’d send those thieves, and a few other choice folks, there to spend some time. Snarky I can handle. Heck, snarky I can respect. Nasty? Get behind me; you’re not worth it.

And speaking of nasty-free spaces on the Net, I heartily endorse Stitcher’s Guild. It’s a moderated site that attracts a lot of sewing enthusiasts. Many of those have talents to which I can only aspire. Good folks, fair and balanced, and moderators who keep the place on an even keel. Another forum to which I occasionally contribute, and which I recommend, is Threads’ Gatherings Forum.

Nah, I’ll curse/bless you with my presence for while yet. And I’ll make my presence known. I’m a Diva after all. We Divas always have to make our presence known! Yep, stay tuned. There’s lots more to come.

Happy sewing!

My (Other) Babies

Can I show you something? These are two things that make my sewing life a lot easier and my outside life more fun. Last year for my (mumble mumble)-fifth birthday, I took my Threads Magazine earnings and bought myself a Juki industrial straight stitch machine. This baby is one fast little machine! Actually, it’s not little at all. I’m not sure how much it weighs, but it’s more than I do. And when I start up the motor, all the lights in the house dim, and we’re on 200 amp service! But I just love this machine. It runs at 3300 stitches per minute, which means I can make wadders in less than one third the time! It only does one thing – a straight lock stitch. But boy, does it do it beautifully.

BTW, I completely blame this machine on Sewing Diva Gigi. She has a herd of industrials that make me drool. This is my humble beginning. If the joists in my sewing room can support it, I’m going to get myself an industrial serger next!

Up until last year, I drove sedate sedans and station wagons. I refused to succumb to the minivan. That’s simply not in my style lexicon, nor will it ever be in it. Last year, the lease on my VW Passat ended (thank God. I hated that car from the get-go). When my DH asked what I was going to buy to replace it, I debated for a nanosecond and came up with the answer. A Mustang Convertible. I learned to drive in my mom’s ’68 Mustang hardtop. I loved that car, and every time I would see a ‘Stang on the road I would feel a pang of nostalgia. So here’s my other, other baby.

As I said to DH, it’s my mid-life crisis mobile. And as mid-life crises go, this is a lot tamer than, say, an Italian Gigolo! As you can see from the plates, I’m a Patriots fan. I took my real babies (my boys) to training camp this summer, and who should walk right by us? Tom Brady!

Yes, he is as cute as the pictures look. And he was sweet and gracious and signed tons of autographs for all the kids there.

Well, off to work. Happy Sewing!

Oh Pleeeeeeeeze Let Me Be One of the First 50!

How cool is this? The PRunGayBoys have posted a link to Emmett McCarthy’s site. Emmett is hosting a Show and Sale this Saturday at his Downtown locale. Well, being the super-fabulous mom of two young boys, my fall weekends are shot and I can’t make it. BUT, he is selling Tim Gunn bobblehead dolls! And add to that, the PRunGayBoys have made a deal that, for their first 50 friends who order one, they’ll ask Tim to sign them. I put my order in already (Tim will be sitting on the shelf overlooking my sewing room). Oh boy! I’m so excited! I missed out on the Jack Kerouac bobbleheads when the Lowell Spinners baseball team gave them away a few years ago, I’m not going to miss this one!

Happy sewing!

Next Up – A Dress for a Singing Gig

Okay! It’s the fall, that means singing season is getting into full swing. I have two gigs coming up in as many weeks. One is at Tufts University’s Goddard Chapel. It’s just a half-hour recital at the noon hour, but what the heck. It’s a great chance to trot out some things, and it gives me the chance to work with the best accompanist in the Boston Area, Bill Merrill. Bill is also a great friend, and we have done work together in the past. Here’s a page with links to a recital we did together (with our dear friend Monique Argent, who is also a great musician). The week before that, I am going to be the soprano soloist for “Laudate Dominum” from Mozart’s Vesperae Solennes di Confessore – one of the most beautiful pieces in the choral repertoire. I am singing that for The International Catholic Stewardship Conference. It’s taking place in Boston this year and they asked little old me to sing for them. That’s kind of cool! I understand the presiding bishop at this shindig is going to be the number three guy at the Vatican. No pressure, right? Good thing the running joke about me isn’t “Bless me Father for I have sinned. It’s been 37 years since my last confession. Where would you like me to start?” Well, as my dear Daddy used to say, “He likes to hear from strangers.”

So of course, I need a new dress. Preferably one I can wear to both events. I have hit several of the recent pattern sales, and I decided to use this one, Butterick 4849. I’m going to do View C, the one with the closer fitting sleeves. It’s not as instantly dated as the “Duro” lookalikes, and I’ll be able to wear it for several seasons.

I’ll make it with a lovely matte rayon jersey I bought from my Darling Kashi at Metro Textiles in New York. I have three trims that I got from Heritage Trading on Ebay that will work. I’m going to use the middle one. The background matches the color of the jersey perfectly. It looks lighter in the picture, but that’s an artifact from the flash. Oh, by the way, Phyllis, if you’re reading this, I’m going to need some expert help on how to make this work!

Well, I’ll keep you posted. I certainly have enough projects to keep me busy for a month of Sundays.
Happy Sewing!