Update! I just realized I said the drawing closes on Friday, September 21, but it actually closes on Friday, September 22 – sorry about any confusion. You have 24 more hours to enter, though, so that’s the good news!
Happy Sunday, campers!
Thanks so much for the kind words about my Disco Diva Bomber Jacket. It’s too hot to wear it today, but when the weather cools, I’m definitely going to be stylin’ with it! And as my gift to you, I’m holding a giveaway for a yard and a quarter-plus of the Fabulous Sequined Designer Mesh – Gunmetal that I used to make my M7100 Bomber Jacket. That’s more than enough to make your own, or to make a skirt, dress, or whatever your flights of fancy may imagine! As an added bonus, I’ll include the larger scraps from my projects, so you’ll have more than enough to make something, well, Gorgeous!
The drawing to win this beauty will take place Friday afternoon. To be entered in the drawing, just leave a comment saying what you would make with it. Entries will close at noon on September 22nd. At 5 PM Eastern that day, I’ll randomly choose one name from the entries.
Because of shipping costs, this contest is limited to US addresses only. No purchase is necessary to enter, of course, and one entry per person please.
Or… Every Once in a While You Have to Let Your Inner Disco Diva Out!
Pattern Description: From McCalls’ website: “Semi-fitted, unlined jackets have collar, side-front seams, bands, side-front pockets, exposed front zipper contrast panels and sleeves with shoulder dart. A, B, C: Welt pockets. D: Kangaroo pocket.”
Actually, the description is very slightly inaccurate. The version I made (View C) has an in-seam pocket. There are no welts on that version.
Sizing: 4-26, sized as XS to XXL. I made a Medium, which translates to a 12/14
Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes
Fitting Adjustments that I made None!
How were the instructions? When I was starting on this project, someone mentioned that she thought the instructions for attaching the bottom band were not very clear, and I agree with her assessment. I did some things differently because of that, and you can see those in the construction notes.
Construction Notes: First off, I wanted something FUN! I had a lot of sequined fabric left over from the Prom Gown I made, and I decided this should be the perfect way to use some of that up. This pattern (in the version that I made) is great for using up leftover scraps from prior projects. I used less than a yard of the sequin, and just about a yard of the doubleknit.
Because the sequin mesh is lightweight and slightly transparent, I underlined it with some stretch lining I’ve had in my stash for several years.
I sewed through the sequins (I know, I know. But this is not couture, this is FUN!). I wanted to finish the seam allowances of that fabric so they wouldn’t catch anything I wore underneath, or scratch me. I thought about using silk organza, but then I glanced at the fabric and noticed the 3-inch wide plain mesh selvages on either side. Eureka! I used those for Hong Kong finishes. I was pretty ecumenical in my seam finishing. In addition to the finish on the sequins, I also used a slightly long whipstitch to finish the neckline, and the serger to finish other edges.
I used the same fabric for the bands and collar as I did for the contrast panels to give it a more dressy finish than the recommended ribbed knit.
The pattern instructions have you baste the raw edges of the front bands together, then, matching raw edges, attach the waistline band around those, then sew to the lower edge of the jacket… yeah, no. I just sewed the bands together at the seam line, graded and pressed the seam allowances toward the waist band, folded the whole shebang in half lengthwise, and sewed it to the bottom of the jacket. Sorry, no pictures, My advice is pin things together as a mockup and then see how you want to proceed with the construction. If the instructions work for you, great. If they don’t take Fleetwood Mac’s advice and Go Your Own Way
I used the stretch lining for the pocket facing, and the doubleknit for the pocket.
At one point, before I attached the zipper and the bands, I put the jacket on Shelley to take a look at it. I noticed right away that the weight of the pockets were distorting the lines of the jacket. You can see at the bottom it’s pulling away from the dress form.
To fix this, I simply whipstitched the pocket to the underlining on the front:
Here’s a shot of two pockets: the one on the left has been attached, the one on the right is hanging free, per the instructions.
You can see the results on the outside of the garment.
I ordered a custom-cut Riri Zipper from Pacific Trimming in NY. It arrived in 2 days. They (both Pacific Trimming and Riri Zippers) are GREAT! I’ve tried Lampo zippers from Botani (also in NY), but I keep coming back to Riri. It’s just my personal preference.
Likes/Dislikes: This is a great pattern! The instructions on the band are a little wonky, but if you rate yourself an advanced beginner or beyond, I think you can handle it and get good results.
Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Yes and yes!
Conclusion: I haven’t made such a fun garment in ages. This one really makes me smile – it appeals to the Jamaica Plain girl in me (Day Street, for those of you who know the area). I showed it to DH and he said, “Ooooh, that’s so cool! We have to go someplace you can wear that!” It is really fun, and I love it. I can’t wait for it to get cool enough so I can wear it. It will look great with jeans or (maybe, if I’m feeling it) pleather leggings to get my 80s on.
Please note: Coats & Clark did not ask me to review this product, nor did they provide me with any product or any compensation. I bought it with my own money, and you are getting my highly unvarnished (one might say ‘blunt’) opinion.
Lately it seems that lots of bloggers are flogginghyping talking about a new product, Coats & Clarks Eloflex Thread. This is a thread with elastic properties that’s designed for knit and stretch fabrics, and can be used straight – it doesn’t require any specialized stitches. According to Coats’ home-sewers website:
“Eloflex is a new, innovative thread from Coats & Clark that sews, soft, secure, stretchable seams in knit fabrics. Special stitches or a serger are not required to achieve professional results. Seams and hems will not pop when stretched because Eloflex expands with the fabric.
Eloflex is perfect for knit fabrics used in athleisure, cosplay costumes, swim suits, lingerie, and dance wear. Use with knits, but also with fabrics like stretch denim or twill. Use for sewing your own knit garments or for repairs or alterations. Have you ever tried to hem a knit skirt or T-shirt only to have it look stretched-out or wavy? Eloflex will make this a thing of the past.
Repairing a popped seam? Stitch it with Eloflex and ithe thread will stretch with the garment instead of breaking. Eloflex is 27 wt and can be used on the top and bobbin or in the needle and loopers of a serger. A size 11 ball-point or universal point needle is recommended. Eloflex is chlorine bleach resistant.”
Okay, that sounds promising. So I went to the local JoAnn to pick some up. Be warned, it’s not cheap. I paid full retail, without any coupons. Eloflex will set you back $3.49 for a 225 yard spool. By comparison, Coats’ Dual Duty all purpose thread retails for $2.99 for 400 yards, which means the Eloflex nets out to more than twice the cost of Dual Duty.
Okay then, let’s see if it’s all they say it is…
The Test Drive
I figure the best way to test it out is to try it against a control: I pulled out a spool of bright orange Gütermann polyester thread that I have in my stash. I used a royal purple Eloflex. I sewed with both threads on samples of Striped Viscose Jersey left over from my Vogue 9205 top.
I used the same thread in the needle and the bobbin (so Gütermann/Gütermann, Eloflex/Eloflex) on each sample. In all cases I used my Pfaff 2030 sewing machine with the same Stretch 75/11 Organ needle.
I ran three lines of stitches with each thread, all along the crosswise-grain, so they were along the greatest stretch of the fabric. I ran two lines of straight stitches, each 2.5 mm long. In the line of stitches that has the red pin at the end of it, I stretched the fabric very slightly on both sides of the needle as it stitched. In the line of stitches with the white pin at the end, I didn’t stretch at all, I just let the feed dogs do their work. The third was a line of zigzag stitches, 3mm wide by 2.5mm long.
I used the Integrated Dual Feed (the built in walking foot on the Pfaff), and my presser foot pressure was set to 3 for all samples. I didn’t press any of the samples after sewing, so you see what they look like as they came off the sewing machine.
One thing I saw right away was that the Eloflex incurred more puckering along the stitching lines than the Gütermann. That was true in all three cases. I don’t know if pressing the stitches will release that. It’s not horrible, but it is noticeable, and it’s quite noticeable on the zigzag stitch.
Next I wanted to test the elasticity of the stitching. So I stretched the fabric along each of the stitching lines. I started in each case with a line of stitches measuring 5 inches.
White Pin (fabric not stretched at all while sewing)
Eloflex: 5 inches stretched to 6 inches (20% stretch) without undue stress
Gütermann: 5 inches stretched to 5.25 inches without undue stress
Red Pin (fabric stretched slightly while sewing)
Eloflex: 5 inches stretched to 6 1/8 inches without undue stress
Gütermann: 5 inches stretched to 5 ¾ inches without undue stress
Eloflex: 5 inches stretched to 6 3/8 inches
Gütermann: 5 inches stretched to 6 ¼
Next, I decided to see how far each would stretch before they broke.
The Eloflex broke when I stretched it from 5 inches to 9 inches (80% stretch)
The Gutermann broke when I stretched it from 5 inches to 6 3/4 (25% stretch)
In my highly unscientific test, the Eloflex did a reasonable job. Here are some of my initial observations.
I didn’t like the fact that the thread causes the stitching line to pucker, sometimes noticeably.
The Eloflex does indeed have more stretch than all-purpose thread, but I don’t believe it will allow you to sew swimsuits with a straight stitch.
If you’re making a garment that takes a lot of stress through the seams, test out different types of stitches (notably zigzag and triple stitch zigzag)
On the plus side, this thread is very soft, and it would be quite suitable for lingerie and other garments that lie against the body.
So, Is It Worth the Money?
The jury is still out on that. I’m going to try it on the bomber jacket that I’m making right now, and I’ll let you know what I think after I run a few more things with it.
Imagine, if you will, this scenario: You own an online fabric store. You get some beautiful cotton rough-weave panels in. The panels have fringe at one end. You must cut swatches in case customers wish to see/feel the fabric before they buy (been known to happen). So, you dutifully make a batch of swatches, leaving a piece of fabric that is the length of the panel, and 42 inches wide. It’s a shame to send this beautiful fabric – no, make that Gorgeous Fabric – to the recycler. What to do? Here’s your answer… A simple skirt will do nicely, thank you! I made this skirt once before, but it used entirely different pattern pieces. So here’s a review of this version.
Pattern Description: Semi-fitted, straight skirts A, B, C, D, E, above mid-knee, have back zipper closure. A, B, C, E: Darts. B, C: Waistband. C: Self-belt. D: Front and back princess seams. D, E: Raised waist. E: Back princess seams.
This time I made View A, the darted version with a faced waist.
Sizing: 8-24. I made a 14, but I should have made a 12 this time. Oh well, no big.
Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes, with some slight exceptions.
Fitting Adjustments that I made None, I made a straight 14. As I say, at this point I can go down to a 12, but habits die hard.
How were the instructions? They were good. This is a very straightforward, easy skirt. You just have to sew the seams, apply the zipper and facings and finish the hemline.
Construction Notes: I didn’t make any big changes, other than the hem. I finished all the seams and the waistline facings using the serger
I marked the hemline (2 inches) on the pattern pieces and aligned the bottom of the fringe with that before cutting out the pattern pieces.
I used the Clover Fork Pins to ensure that I got a good continuous line at the borders:
I didn’t have enough fabric to try to match the patterns across the seams. If I had had a full width, I probably could have matched all the elements for a continuous line, but I was happy with the result anyway.
Likes/Dislikes: This is a great, easy pattern that goes together quickly. From start to finish, it took less than 2 hours to make. It’s a classic design that works with all sorts of fabrics.
Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Absolutely, to both questions.
Conclusion: Classic pattern, great lines, versatile – what’s not to love?
Oh, and here’s what I had left of the fabric when I finished:
Here’s a clever tool to add to your arsenal. These Fork Pins from Clover are so useful for keeping seams from slipping, which is especially important when you want to match patterns across seams. They are pricey, but you only need one box, and they save you much work and heartache, so IMO they are totally worth it!
Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes
Fitting Adjustments that I made None. I sewed this straight from the envelope.
How were the instructions? They were fine. They are written for a sewing machine, not a serger for construction. Also, they instruct you to sew the side seams first, then the sleeve seams, and then sew the sleeve into the armscye in the round. With a stretchy knit like this, I much prefer to flat-set the sleeve instead.
Construction Notes: After checking the pattern measurements, I didn’t bother with a FBA this time. I tried the finished top on and it could benefit from a very slight FBA (maybe ½ inch), but it’s not terrible. I sewed the darts with a straight stitch, then attached the neck binding with the serger.
As I mentioned above, I set the sleeve in flat, basting first, then running on the serger. I serged the side seams after that. I used a 1mm wide by 3mm long zigzag stitch for the hems
Likes/Dislikes: What I like: this is a very straightforward pattern to sew. It has an unusual design detail (the neckline darts) that make it more interesting than your standard tee shirt. It’s a great pattern for a beginner. What I’m not as crazy about: it’s really long, which can be a plus or minus, depending on your preferences. It also could benefit from some shaping. I may end up taking it in at the side seams. Those are minor nits. Overall I really like it. Here are shots on Shelley.
Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? I definitely recommend it. I’m not sure if I’ll make another one. I might make a short sleeve version, but we’re heading into fall so I’ll probably wait to do so.
Conclusion: An excellent basic pattern that has a nice design detail. DH and I are going to see Lady Gaga at Fenway Park tonight, and my original plan was to wear my Paco Peralta V1550, but it’s going to be cold, so I think I’ll wear this top and jeans instead.
Pattern Description: From Vogue Patterns’ website, “Semi-fitted, pullover tunic have contrast inset at center front, contrast binding and uneven hemline: wrong side of fabric will show. Loose-fitting pants have no waist band. C: Contrast insets and binding. D: Contrast binding.”
I made View A, the shorter tunic, along with View D, the longer pants.
Sizing: 6-22. I made a 12 for the tunic, and a 14 for the pants, though I think I could have used size 12 all the way through with no ill effects.
Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes
Fitting Adjustments that I made I checked the pattern measurements and determined that I would need a FBA.
I made a muslin of the result, and I was happy with it (you can see it in my Instagram Feed), so I started in on the linen.
How were the instructions? They were GREAT!!! Seriously, and you know how fussy I am about instructions. The drafting and instructions for doing the mitered corners on the tunic make this pattern a must-buy for anyone, IMO.
True confession – I lost the second sheet of instructions and they didn’t show up until I had finished and cleaned up my sewing area, so I didn’t use them for the bulk of the pants construction, but the pants are beautifully drafted and went together without a hitch. Also, when I did find the instructions, I checked them out and the second page is just as good as the first.
Construction Notes: As mentioned above, I made a FBA. I finished the facings, per the instructions, with a Hong Kong finish using bias cut silk organza. To tell you the truth, I didn’t bother using the pieces provided in the pattern for the bias binding, I just cut long 1 ¼ inch bias strips and that did the trick. I used the serger to finish all the seams.
I didn’t have a brown invisible zipper handy, so I did a lapped zipper application instead. It’s not my absolute best work, but it will be hidden under the tunic, so I decided it was Good Enough.
There is one thing I would probably do differently next time. The neckline is cut on the bias, so I recommend staying the front neckline with a selvage of silk organza or a twill tape. It is faced, and the facing is interfaced, but I think that a bulk-free stay with organza would also help keep it from distorting.
Likes/Dislikes: I LOVE this pattern! It’s chic, and looks great on a variety of body types. The mitering instructions alone justify purchasing this pattern, but the rest of it is great, too. I’m going to wear this as separates as well. The tunic will look great over leggings, and the pants work beautifully with a tank or tee.
Here are some styling suggestions:
Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? I DEFINITELY recommend it! I may do it again. You know what would be fabulous for the holiday season? Make this using 4-ply silk crepe. Oo la la!
Conclusion: I love this pattern. It’s very Balenciaga-goes-Japonesque. It’s rated as Average, but I think it is suitable for advanced beginner or beyond.
A Note About Blogging
I feel like this poor blog has been suffering benign neglect of late. I am much more active these days on Instagram, where you can see my work-in-progress pictures. I am not giving up blogging. As I complete projects I’ll post them here, but you’ll see me more actively over on IG. You can check it out from the web, without having to set up an account. Click Here to find me on Instagram.
Wow,the first time I made this dress was in 2006! I made a striped version, which I used for a Threads Magazine article on grain, and they never sent back to me. I also made a version that year in a beautiful floral eyelet, that I still have and wear. And I never did a review of either dress. So here you go…
Pattern Description: Misses Dress with neckline variations, bias-cut midriff panel and ¼ circle skirt. I made View B, the surplice bodice with shoulder straps.
Sizing: 8-18. The first two versions I made size 14. They run big, and I’ve lost a little weight recently, so this time I made a size 12.
Available as a PDF? It’s out of print, so no. You can find it on Ebay and Etsy occasionally.
Fabric Used: A tropical floral print stretch cotton from my stash. It was a gift from a fabric wholesaler and there’s no more available. You can find similar fabrics here at Gorgeous Fabrics.
Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2030 sewing machine, Juki MO654DE serger, Reliable Iron/Board, pressing ham, silk organza press cloth.
Needle/Notions Used: Stretch 75/11 needle, Pro-Tricot and Pro-Weft interfacings from Fashion Sewing Supply, thread, Japanese hand-sewing needle, silk organza, invisible zipper.
Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes
Fitting Adjustments? I made a FBA.
How were the instructions? Well, between 2006 and now, I managed to lose the second page, so I didn’t use them. The first page only has the instructions on sewing the bodice. I don’t really like their method – it is a little kludgy, but I didn’t realize it until I was already committed, and in the end it turned out fine. If I do it again I’ll write up a different method.
Construction Notes: The pattern includes a narrow self-belt, that I didn’t bother to make. I sewed all the seams on the Pfaff with a straight (2.5 mm) stitch. I finished all the raw edges of the seams with the serger.
I self lined the bodice, rather than use a lining fabric. I installed an invisible zipper, and I bound the edges with a Hong Kong finish, using bias cut silk organza.
I could have just serged the seam allowances and zipper tape together, but I thought the bright red added a fun little touch.
I made a 5/8 inch narrow hem, and used a 3mm straight stitch.
Likes/Dislikes: 11 years after I made this, the pattern still looks fresh. I wanted a fun sundress for summer, and this fits the bill quite nicely!
Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Yes and yes. This is a classic dress that looks great in so many different fabrications. Keep in mind that it runs rather large, so check the size before you cut. (I recommend making a muslin.)
Conclusion: Great pattern, great fun fabric. I love the tropics and tropical prints, and I can’t wait to wear this! Here are pictures on Shelley – I fill it out a bit more than she does.
Here’s a bit of trivia to store away for a future giveaway – just sayin’
When I was ten years old I started taking voice lessons with Nancy Marsh Hartman, a wonderful teacher in my town. My very first recital was in May of that year, and the song that I used to open said recital was… you guessed it, “Wonderful, Wonderful Copenhagen” from the movie ‘Hans Christian Andersen’. As you can imagine, ever since I was ten I have wanted to visit to see what the city was like. This year, I finally got my chance! DH found out in May that he was going to his company’s user group meeting in Europe. In past years, those have taken place in Paris, Barcelona, London and then this year, Copenhagen! So after visiting London and Melissa, I headed to Denmark to spend 4 wonderful days.
When I tagged along to the Barcelona trip, DH and I took a bike tour of the city, and it was fantastic! So when I knew I was going to Copenhagen, I decided to take a bike tour as well. Unlike London, they ride fully clothed in Copenhagen 😂😂😂
I chose the Greatest Hits of Copenhagen tour, which was great. It was 2.5 hours, about 12 km total. I do spin class 2-3 times per week, and Copenhagen in City Center and along the harbor are pretty flat, so it was an easy ride. There were only three of us on the tour, and our guide is originally from California. It was so much fun! Here are pictures:
And finally, I mentioned a little statue that seems to get all the attention? Here she is:
We spent time at her studio, which is amazing! And we spent time with her son, who is amazing and delightful! We went to an open air market that has little shops and food courts, and a beautiful fishmonger.
I also spent several hours in Illums Bolligshus, the grande dame of Danish design. Can I just say? It was BEAUTIFUL!
I SO WANT this lamp!
Okay, other things that happened: REAL Danish Pastry:
And on my bike tour, we passed by a shop that had not one, but FOUR baritone saxophones in the window. I had to take DH there – he’s a saxophone player! The shop, for those who are interested, is I.K Gottfried. They have been in existence since 1796! The website (NAYY) is www.gottfried.dk.
I told him, when we took our bikes from the hotel, that I wanted to take him there. I think he liked it!
He ended up testing mouthpieces (it’s a horn player thing). They gave him a Selmer Mark VI to play several with. He fell in love with a mouthpiece that was handmade by one of the techs at the shop, and hey, it’s Father’s Day, so…
Maria Has a Magazine, and it’s coming to the US!
Did you know that Maria publishes a magazine? It’s called Sysiden, and it’s coming to the US! It’s geared toward the intermediate to advanced sewing aficionado!!!! I had the good fortune to view the Danish version while I visited with her. It’s FANTASTIC! I have no affiliation, but I am SO excited! I am glad there are lots of magazines and e-zines for beginners, but there is a vast chasm that needs to be filled for the higher-skilled sewists.
She is planning to release it state-side later this year. I’ll post more when I have dates.
One last thing – I discovered a delightful tradition in Copenhagen: throws for outside. Copenhagen is pretty far north (55.67 degrees latitude), so while the sun stays up late in summer, it still gets pretty chilly. To ward off the chill, while still enjoying the sun, Danes supply throws to keep you warm. What a wonderful, hospitable tradition. I’m going to incorporate it at home, especially as the summer wanes and turns to fall.
Yesterday I received a rather odd email. Here’s the text, though I’ve removed all identifying information.
I’m just letting you know of something that recently happened to me regarding XYZ and why I am not ordering fabric online any longer from anyone.
I ordered 3 items online from XYZ. The order went through perfectly, and according to the receipt, I would be charged for the 3 items plus shipping. However, when the order came in, there were only 2 items in the shipment. I called XYZ to find out what happened and was told that the 3rd item was sold out. When I checked my bank statement online, I was charged for 2 items plus shipping on 3 items. XYZ did not reduce the shipping; therefore, I told them I would not be ordering fabric online any longer and that I would advise all my sewing friends, my club, and the American Sewing Guild of their deceitful practices.
I figured she had sent the email to me by mistake, meaning it to go to the company in question, so I sent her back a quick note, assuming that would be the end of it:
Hi [name redacted],
I’m very sorry to hear that happened to you. This is not XYZ. I think you should let them know, I’m sure they would want to be aware of it.
To my surprise, I immediately received this email back:
I am well aware that you are not XYZ, and I did let them know. I am letting everyone know, every person, every fabrics company, every sewing organization in the state and country. Taking advantage of people is reason to put them out of business.
This is the second time I’ve received an email like this. The first was castigating a colleague who was a professional dressmaker. It devastated her, and it angered me, because I know she was a very hard worker and a solid professional. The company in question here is a long-time business that has a good reputation, though I know from personal experience that no matter how hard you try, sometimes mistakes are made, and customers end up unhappy. Any good business, including the one in question here, tries to take care of things. If you have a problem with a company, there are means of getting your complaint heard. First, work with them, and if the solution isn’t satisfactory, tell them. There’s also Yelp, Angie’s List, BBB… the list goes on and on. And if all else fails, you can open a dispute with your credit card company.
But please, don’t send me emails excoriating another company. I have nothing to do with the operation. I can’t help you, and I’m not likely to feel much sympathy.
I have to take Hoover to the vet this afternoon. Poor old boy is acting very creaky so we want to see if he’s in any pain or if there is something we can give him to soothe his joints. But tomorrow – Copenhagen and Maria!
Update at 9:00 PM EDT, Hoover is okay! He’s 13 ½ years old, and yes, he’s an old dog. A little arthritic, but otherwise in good shape. His hips, elbows and joints are okay. We’ll try supplements and a dog food that has lots of Omega3 fatty acids for the next few weeks and see how he responds. But the great news is that there is nothing neurological or major going on. He’s just an old boy. Phew!