Monday, November 22, 2010

A Crochet Moment

A while ago, in a fit of creativity, I decided make a crochet dress. I hadn't crocheted since I was a little kid, helping my mom make squares for a quilt. But after seeing Ms Erica B's creation, I was truly inspired (isn't she fabulous?). And she made it in a month? GADS!
Now <cough> <cough> two years later, I finally finished MINE!

Yep, there were a lot of mornings at Starbucks, airline flights with curious onlookers, fighting off cats and A LOT of swearing before it was done.  This is a Lily Chin pattern. For those that are interested in making it, the link to the pattern is here. I used Panda Cotton Bamboo Yarn, available here. It has a nice soft feel to it.
Like Erica B., I took out the top part of the bodice, to give it more of a sweetheart neckline. I made a simple slip dress as a lining out of lining knit from Joann's.

Of course, now that it is November, that means I will have to wait until next spring to wear it. Bah, humbug!

Burdastyle Magazine 03-2009-111

I am finally done this corduroy blazer. The lining seemed to take me forever but I am glad I could use this fabric. I'm proud to say that EVERYTHING is from my stash! (Okay, except for the buttons)

Pattern Description:This is a lined shortish length blazer with a yoke, side panels, pockets with flaps and optional topstitching.

Pattern Sizing: 36-44

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?They used a linen pinstripe, I used corduroy. It looks like the technical drawing. Except for the topstitching, I made very little changes.

Were the instructions easy to follow?Not too bad for Burda. However, for the collar, I referred to my Claire Schaeffer Sewing Shortcuts book, which is a much easier method than what Burda uses.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?I loved this pattern. I especially love the contouring for the bust by way of the dart. It gives this jacket a great shape, rather thank looking boxy. The only thing I disliked was that it is a little short for my taste, even though I lengthened an inch.

Fabric Used:Fine corduroy I purchased a year ago online. Hated the color when I got it, so it sat in my stash!

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:As stated, I lengthened it about an inch all the way around. I cut an inch off the sleeve cap. This seems a necessity with every Burda jacket I have made.  I used a contrast color zigzag topstitch instead of a straight stitch.

I added a sleeve head to one side and when comparing with or without, the less structured side without the sleeve head looked better. So out it came.

I had been dying to use this equestrian fabric for years but could never find anything to make with it. So I decided to line the jacket with it. Isn't it cute? And the saddle colors match the corduroy.

I added some satin bias tape to the lining edge. Again, found in my stash. I see this done so often on rtw jackets, I thought it was time to incorporate it into mine!

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?I love this jacket so much, I think I will make it again, in another fabric and will add more length to it.

Conclusion:The equestrian look is so 'in' right now and that was my particular theme with this jacket. And I have the perfect matching color riding boots to go with the jacket! (Not that I actually ride my horse in this getup, god forbid I get them dirty!)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

What have I been working on lately?

My last post, I vowed to make an effort to post more. And 3 months later...erm, here's my next post. I HAVE been sewing, though. My latest project has been a corduroy jacket. I saw this jacket on a retail site.

I thought the color and zig zag topstitching was nice.

And then I remembered that deep in the gallows of my fabric stash was a pinwale stretch corduroy in exactly the same colour. I ordered it online and actually hated the color when I got it and thought I would NEVER make anything with it. I was going to actually throw it out but my husband the enabler convinced me to hold onto it. Well, I can thank the husband for this one, because a year later, I love the color and I have been hard at work on this Burda Jacket from March 2009 - this is pattern number 111:

Details to come!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Something Easy For a Change!

After my last difficult project, I decided to put the redo on hold and  go with something light and fluffy. This pattern was just right:
McCalls 5853

What a great deal this pattern is - 4 for the price of one. Although I doubt I will ever do the bubble bottom top, that is still 3 patterns - and I think I bought this pattern at the 99cent sale at Joanns!

I used a periwinkle blue activewear fabric from Fashion Fabrics Club when it was on sale for $3.95 a yard. (Does anyone else get frustrated with how pathetically SLOW their site is sometimes?? Especially the search function, which I use a lot).

I'm not usually a ruffles and frills type gal, but I think this is subtle and pretty, plus I love the asymmetric look of it. The only tricky part was the binding. I wasn't fond of the way they have you do it because the fabric was pretty thin and I thought it would be a hot mess in my sewing machine or serger. I ended up using my sewing machine with a zipper foot OFF of the binding so that it would not get pulled and it worked pretty well.

 This frustration with binding prompted me to buy THIS:

No, it is not a medieval torture device. It is a double fold bias binder specifically for my Babylock Evolve serger coverstitch. I'm excited to try this out!!  Erm,  as soon as I figure out how the hell it works!

Anyway, I'm happy with the way my top turned out - and all for around 5 bucks, too!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

When great sewing projects go bad

Sigh. Fitting woes - they happen to all of us at one time or another.
Now that nice weather has finally arrived in N. California, in between riding my horse and mountain biking, I have been working on a top from Burda Magazine May 2010:

It's a cute top, and since I had just made a pair of pants in beige and had enough material left over, I thought it would make a nice outfit. Although I find topstitching to be a royal pain, I love the look. Not only does this top have a lot of topstitching BUT it has 4 flap pockets, a collar, buttonholes and an invisible zipper.

[caption id="attachment_192" align="aligncenter" width="150" caption="Technical Drawing"][/caption]

Over the years, I have learned to adjust Burda patterns accordingly to my size -which means lengthening just about everything - a lot. I added 3 inches to the waist and an inch to the peplum. Everything was coming along great, although the tab front is a bit tricky. The thing with this pattern is it is a little tough to know how it really fits until it is almost done.  Turns out when I was completely finished and I tried it on, it fits me quite nicely, but is a little snug across the chest. The fabric is a medium weight poplin with crosswise stretch. Even with the stretch there was little breathing room. Although the fabric is stretchy, it is quite stiff, which is adding to the discomfort factor. When I was testing the pattern pieces on the dressform, there was enough room in the bust and I did not do a bust adjustment. If I had about an 1/2 inch more on the sides, it would be fitting much better than it is.

So, great job on the sewing if I do say so myself, but the fit is not quite right. After 2 months of making this top, I'm left deciding what to do. Suck it in and wear it, adjust it, toss it, or make it again.
Even Annie the cat is all exhausted over it:

I could always rip it apart and adjust it, but sometimes that can be more time consuming than starting over.

I really like the top - (obviously!) so I have decided I will remake it in a softer, more giving fabric - and with more room to breathe!

It's a learning experience, it's a learning experience, it's a....

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Burda Magazine 10-2008-135

I'm finally getting around to reviewing this jacket I made for my husband. I was pleased with the results and he loves it :)

Pattern Description:
A traditional seaman’s jacket, made of high-quality woollen cloth with sleeve tabs and a single row of buttons, adapts to modern men’s wear but retains its typical navy blue and practical pockets. An absolutely essential classic! He will always look his best in straight flannel trousers with pressed creases because they can be styled for sporty or elegant occasions. Burda Link

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="224" caption="Not my husband"][/caption]

Well, ok. I made a corduroy pea coat to be worn for jaunts to morning coffee - most likely worn with jeans.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="306" caption="This is my husband"][/caption]

Pattern Sizing:

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Somewhat. I did omit some things and the corduroy gives it a slightly different look than the wool they used.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
As easy as Burda Mag can be. The sleeves are designed a little different than the norm as there is a side piece that they attach to.

You can see better in the drawing. 

This pattern has been reviewed once before so thanks to Crisford's review, I was able to understand better how to sew the sleeve in!

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

Love the topstitching detail and the overal design. The topstitching was a little difficult with this bulky corduroy so I used a regular thread. Needless to say, it does not show up as well as a thick thread would. But DH likes the subtlety. The jacket is fully lined. I used the normal bag method of lining the jacket with a polyester lining fabric (also from my stash!). The pattern does mention to leave 1 cm extra in the back lining piece in order to have a nice middle pleat.

Fabric Used:
Wide wale corduroy from a fabric mart free bundle that I received years ago.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
When he first tried on the coat, I thought the sleeves hung down a little low from his shoulder and this was causing some bulkiness. I adjusted the sleeve seams and back yoke until I got a better fit.

DH requested that I not add the sleeve tabs or the back tab either Heh, less work for me!

The pockets were placed a little high in the original design, so I lowered them. They have a nice flap detail.

Being that DH will most likely never do up the tab collar fully, rather than have a longer piece on one side, I evened them up.

Would you sew it again?
No, I will not sew again, as it is a pretty unique design. (Mens patterns can be so boring, but I love the designs in Burda)

Would you recommend it to others?

DH loves the jacket, he feels quite spiffy in it.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Cats and Sewing

[caption id="attachment_147" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Pudgie"][/caption]

Yesterday I had to say goodbye to my cat of 19 1/2 years, Pudge - Pudgie as we affectionately called her. Renal failure had finally taken its toll over her little body. We counted ourselves lucky to have had her around for 7 months longer than we thought we would. She was terrified of travelling in the car and we were thankful that our vet made house calls. She loved being a California cat and hanging out in her cat condo gazing at the view from the window in my sewing loft. Her last moments were on her favored cushion looking out at her view of the California hillside and San Pablo Bay.

She came into my life a pudgey little kitten,  a companion for my calico cat. She has been with me through ups and downs, boyfriends, breakups and 8 different moves over the years. She really bonded with my husband and accepted him into that inner sanctum of felines.
Pudge and Annie

He was not fond of cats originally (they came with the package, honey) but he was tearing up right along with me yesterday over the little buddy he had gotten to know and love over the last 9 years. When I lost my other cat in 2003, I brought a replacement calico cat home from the shelter, hoping Pudge wouldn't know the difference. She did. But soon her and Annie became best friends and even though Pudgie was half Annies size, she was definitely the queen cat. Over the years she lost some of her teeth which made her mouth appear to have a permanent Elvis type sneer. It suited her personality. She may have been tiny, but she didn't take shit from anyone. And if she was gracing your lap with her presence, you better damn well be petting her.
Getting to the topic of this entry, as I lay awake last night feeling great sadness from the lack of her presence, I began to think about how she was not only a big part of

[caption id="attachment_154" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Pudgie using Annie as a pillow"][/caption]

my life, but a huge part of my sewing world. I know this is a common thing as I see other sewing bloggers writing about their cats, too. From casual observers to thread chasers,  our cats find sewing as fascinating as we do.  
Pudgie liked patterns. Only the tissue paper ones that tore easily, of course. She just loved the sound they made on her paws as she walked across them (this was usually after I had spent an hour carefully laying out the pieces on fabric). When I lived in a small apartment I did not have a table big enough so I would do all my cutting on the floor. If I was dumb enough to leave it out overnight, I would discover the fabric 'rearranged' and claw marks in the tissue paper the next day. It was like I had my own Tim Gunn critiquing my work and rearranging it in the middle of the night. 

Pudgie liked thread. (I  have heard horror stories of cats ingesting thread, but luckily she did not acquire this habit) Especially thread wrapped in shiny bobbins.  Somehow, she would find a bobbin on my sewing table (especially when it was the last bit of thread I had in that color) and proceed to bat it around the apartment until all thread was unwound. I remember one instance leaving my cats in the care of a friend while I went on vacation. When she went over to feed them, not too long after I had gone, she was horrified to discover a complete tangle of thread throughout my apartment. I had mistakenly left my bobbin storage open and sure enough Pudgie had taken each and every bobbin and had a field day. There was just about every color of thread wrapped around table legs, under the bed, in the sofa. from the living room to the bedroom.  I wish she had taken a picture, it must have been quite a sight. My friend actually tried (in vain) to wind all the thread back up for me!

[caption id="attachment_155" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="The stitch ripper/cat toy"][/caption]

There are a lot of shiny things involved in sewing, and Pudgie liked most of them (thank goodness she didn't like pins). The ultimate for her was the elusive stitch ripper. I estimate I have gone through approximately 50 stitch rippers in 19 years. Pudgie liked to carry them around in her mouth and take them to all parts of the house. I remember when I moved to the U.S.  and I was clearing out my condo. Lo and behold, I found a hidden STASH of stitch rippers that she had obviously been collecting for quite some time. 
I'm sure you know those projects that just frustrate you , you want to rip everything out immediately. That would usually be the time I could not find a stitch ripper ANYWHERE!

[caption id="attachment_152" align="alignright" width="300" caption="The Elvis sneer"][/caption]

Of course, the cat had made off with it. Thus would begin the search - under sofas, beds, closets for the missing stitch ripper, followed by an 'AHA! Here it is!' followed by a 'Bad kitty!' and her reply, 'Meh!'
Cats have a predisposition to climb and sit on things that are high up, usually so they can look down on their cat-dom. Pudgie thought the ironing board was part of her personal jungle gym. I could be carefully pressing an armhole, and the cat would simply appear - and proceed to sit on the very fabric I was ironing. It must have been the warmth on her bum. Who knows.

Which brings me to the subject of cat hair. I doubt there is a home sewer with cats whom does not have the ultimate cat hair defense tool – the sticky tape lint roller.  It’s a given that if you have cats and sew, you are going to be lint rolling that fabric a lot through the process of making something! You could lay out the plushest, softest blanket for Pudgie to sleep on  - but she much preferred the expensive silk jersey I had just bought. What can I say, she had refined tastes.

Pudgie could also be my faithful observer, sitting on the desk in my sewing loft as I would put pieces together, or hang out during my agonizing throes of learning to sew a welt pocket. She was happy to just sit there – for hours sometimes – and watch the process. In the last week of her life, as I was ironing a pair of pants I was making, I saw her out of the corner of my eye climbing up onto my desk. Even though her back legs were giving out on her, she proceeded to jump on the ironing board and plant herself on my fabric – and then glared at me with that defiant look only cats have. Feisty right until the end. Making sure I did not forget her. And I won’t. She was annoying, a mischief maker, a constant chatterbox and a purring princess. She was awesome.

We'll miss you Pudgie.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Vogue - WTF?

My previous post praised Vogue's new site look and new patterns. But today's new offerings brings a wtf...I give you....

The Satin Burka


A new design from Chado Ralph Rucci.

Ralph, I love ya, I even bought the Star Trekkie pattern from last year. But an epic FAIL for this one. I can't think of any way this would look flattering on anyone!

The I-want-my-ass-to-look-twice-as-big Jumpsuit


Really, Vogue - seriously?? There are no words! I am assuming since the model is wearing high heels that this is evening attire. If you are going to a restaurant, there is plenty of room in case you eat too much!

Another very odd dress:


All in all, I'm pretty underwhelmed.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Hurrah for Vogue!

Vogue/Butterick/McCalls  have completely redesigned their websites. As they are all the same company, they have tied all 3 together. When you buy from any of the 3, it all goes to one shopping cart. All I can say is: It's about time! I like some of the new designs for Spring and there is a $3.99 sale on right now - so I am off to shop!

Love this!


and this




Monday, January 4, 2010

New Decade, Time for Some Sewing!

I'm finally back and adding a new entry to this blog. In the past year and a half I started a new business so my sewing took a back seat, unfortunately. I have done some projects but never found the time to post them up. I know that a lot of people refer to this blog for sewing ballroom dresses. I am not sure if sewing more of those is in my future, but I am excited to work on some regular sewing.

Early last year I got a new sewing machine, a Project Runway Brother LB6770PRW:

Brother LB6770PRW Limited Edition Project Runway Sewing Machine

It definitely has a lot more stitch choices than my 25 stitch Kenmore plus it does embroidery which I have just started playing around with. Getting  new sewing machine takes some getting used to. I felt like I was driving someone else's car for the first couple of months. I was used to old reliable (Bessie), the feel of it, I knew the exact way to hold things, loop things and there were no computerized thingies. I must admit I was frustrated at first and a few times I went back to trusty Bessie. But over time, I began to get more comfortable and now I think it is a good machine. I have named my new machine Scarlett, after Austin Scarlett on PR. I have only come across one issue just now. I have been sewing some riding breeches for myself. They have a full seat of microsuede. I was excited to see Scarlett has a blanket stitch, several variations of it. I wanted my breeches to look like the expensive ones  and I especially liked the look of the stitching on this retail pair:

Knowing that I might have trouble on a home sewing machine with thicker thread AND thicker fabric I experimented on scraps of microsuede. I determined that the topstitching thread they sell in  the fabric stores is impossible to use on Scarlett. It jams. Upholstery thread is a safer bet or in my case I could not use the color I wanted so I went with quilting thread. A regular sewing needle will not work on the microsuede so I went and bought jeans and leather needles to try. My dilemma: they would not fit in my sewing machine! The shank seems to be too large, for some reason. I have never had this happen before on Bessie, they are just Schmetz needles. All the other Schmetz needles I have fit fine.

I took a closer look at the jeans needle package. I went to the Schmetz website to investigate further. The Jean needle package says 130/705H-J and the size is 100/16. Apparently 130/705H is a household sewing needle. I'm assuming the 'J' is for jeans. I've looked in my sewing machine manual and nowhere does it list restrictions on needle size. It references 100/16 needle size a few times. Right now I am at a loss. In comparing the shank size to my other Schmetz needles, they look the same. What gives?

Update: I have determined there was one bad needle in the packet as the others fit. Go figure. However, the leather needles - 110/18 - do not fit in my machine.