Thursday, February 28, 2013

Outfit Posts this month

I'm going to be doing outfit posts this month, because I've packed my Elna off to its annual maintenance trip and *I* am spring cleaning instead of sewing.  (Today I vacuumed mattresses.)

If I think of philosophical things to add, I'll be doing that too. 

Outfit post the first:  Red wool jacket with turquoise dress.  Both made by moi.

We were all wondering how I'd get use out of that red jacket that really made it worth making... me included!  Well, it looks terrific with my favorite turquoise dress.  Being a Spring with intense coloring, this kind of color combination is something I'm right at home with. 

The wool and silk jacket cuts the wind beautifully, and made it possible for me to wear this out on date night.   Sorry about the photo, it's absolutely brutal to get a decent picture in my house in the afternoon.  There is such a thing as too much light!

How this full skirt looks with the red jacket gives me some courage to make the red skirt in a similar style.   The classic "ladies who lunch" form is more of a pencil skirt, but frankly a slim skirt doesn't do much for me.  This works, and it's not "too too" girly... well, at least not for this girly girl.  :)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Shirt Thoughts: From the Win Pile

When planning to do a little frankensteining... it's a good idea to get your visions on paper.

I love this neckline.
(This is my princess sloper shirt.  Yes, it fits.  But princess seams are a pain in the rear to sew properly... I was hoping for something darted and a tad bit easier to deal with.  Ironically, this is the same fabric I used for the blouse that I don't like at all.)

I love this collar - and I love the sleeves. 
(The fit is a bit "ish" - but hey, this was my Easter dress from 2011? I've learned. Still use the bottom as a skirt.  Textured paisley eyelet... one of my best fabric choices).
  • Can I combine the neckline (and shoulder fitting - yikes) from the top blouse with the sleeves from the bottom blouse?  Or some other sleeve?  I am *so* over sleeveless (thank you, pictures).
  • Should I just use the bottom "blouse" entirely... but fix up the fit?
  • Which is the more basic top? 
  • Which is more flattering?
  • Which goes with more of my skirts/goes with my life in general?
Remember... I'm not trying to make a fabulous new thing, I'm trying to get a basic workhorse that I can mix and match and switch details around.
Lots of thinking to do.  Maybe I'll sew up a couple of the things on my "sewing for others" mental list and get them in the "out" pile.  Or a dress.  I do still have some turtle fabric calling my name!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Not quite a fail

As soon as I had the white eyelet blouse made up, I hit my fabric stash and found some shirting fabric and cut another one.  Since I knew that the kimono sleeves hadn't quite looked good on me, I cut the sleeves down to a tanktop shape.

But I didn't do any other changes to the pattern... and I didn't check it before I started sewing.  A very nice job of sewing...

Sigh.  Look at all that extra fabric at the armpit!  (I rather like how it's falling at my neckline though, perhaps I might try a soft cowl sometime).  And yes, it's a tad tight over the bust.  Another 1/2" would be lovely.  (I really have to figure out wearing ease with a full bust - it is not as straightforward as all the sewing books would have you believe.  If you doubt me, I could show you some very sad experiments with princess seams and increasing the ease the same amount from waist to chin.  Bad.  Very bad.)
Well.  What do you do with extra fabric?  You make a dart.
The dart helped.  Some.  Not enough, as you can see.  I still have too much fabric .. now it's just higher up.  And somehow my darts didn't end up quite even.  -sigh-  I could unpick them and re do them... but with a slightly too-tight bust and too much fabric  and... yeah, it's not worth my time.
Wadder?  (In sewing terms, straight to the wastebasket).  Oh no.  I live in a very warm climate, and a thin ivory tank top is a *basic* item.  I can throw an overshirt on (which I do quite often anyway) and no one will be the wiser.  I'm tired of wearing tank tops as stand-alones anyway.
I think it's time to draft my own basic blouse.  I have the skills... I know what I want... it's time to cut a pile of sheets up and get there!  And my shirt... my shirt will have sleeves.  And it will *fit*.
Kinda a bummer, but kinda not.  Onward!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Awesome Idea

Debi over at My Happy Sewing Place is running a week of "Sew Grateful" posts.

Her blog is well worth checking out, particularly if you're into 1940s fashion.   Her *attitude* about life and about sewing is amazing and beautiful.  Her Sew Grateful week is entirely typical ... a week to remind us of what we're "Sew Grateful" for in our sewing areas.

Things I'm grateful for:

My husband, who encourages me in my sewing and who made me a great new sewing area.

My parents, who encourage me by buying books and occasionally bringing me loads of fabric from the Pendleton outlet. 

My friends, who encourage me by squeeing appropriately over new makes, and occasionally coming along for the ride.

Children who enjoy the whole thing and occasionally make random requests.

The online community, from which I have learned so much!

God, who makes all of that possible and pokes me to do the right thing - including in my sewing room - all day long. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013


Steph over at 3 hours past was asking about our purses,  and I'd actually prepped an accessory post (by taking the pictures) a week ago, so here's my purse.

I got it off of etsy - it's vintage tooled leather and I love it.  I love the color, I love the roses.  I love the size.  Not the most practical thing for tromping around amusement parks, but for everyday - perfect.  I can carry my nook and my normal purse stuff and have plenty of room.  But basically I love it far more for its looks. 

It goes with everything, it's a big step up in "classy" from my old purses (more structured, more neutral, higher quality materials) and yeah.  Short story?  I love it.

These are my shoes.  I broke my foot in half some years back and I have to wear good supportive shoes.  I wear skirts all the time, so the usual "sensible shoes" won't do - and anyway, they're ugly.  I got this pair around Christmas ... I need to buy a couple more in different colors, as I'm over-wearing these.  (You're not really supposed to wear the same shoes every day).  They go very nicely with my purse - and again, the quality shows.  They definitely don't look like I got them at the discount store, even though they are mary janes.   And I think the cork texture is cool/interesting.

This is my hair cover that I wear most often.  It's a comb about the size of one of my hands.  It's comfy and holds my hair very well.  I alternate with scarves and other combs and whatnot - but this is totally my go-to.

You'll note the warm brown goes with the shoes and the purse.  LOL.  But seriously - caramel brown is my accessory color.  Matching accessories is a good default position to start from.  If you want to go from there to fun stuff, you can - but you need to have a solid fall-back position.  (Says the woman who had a jade green purse).

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Portrait Blouse: Win

My first make from Gertie's Book for Better Sewing, which I received from my folks for my birthday in December.   I'll be making many a garment from this book!

Things I want to say:
1) They're YOUR clothes. Make 'em how you want to make 'em.
2) Love this.
3) I'll get rid of the kimono sleeves next time. My sloper has a good sleeve pattern for me. I can use that.


The original pattern called for one large tuck at the low-waist.  I changed it to two small (1/4") tucks at the high waist.  It's 3" longer, because I always tuck my shirts and I hate the line across the middle of my belly.  The back tuck has been made up to shoulder-blades.  I didn't need the side zipper, so I didn't put it in.

Incredibly comfortable, very flattering.  I can make this with different necklines, a more flattering sleeve length (or lack-of-sleeve), in different fabrics.  I think I found my "uniform".

I didn't use facings - I lined it with some soft cotton "shirting" that I got online which actually has the texture of really soft old sheets.  Nice, but not good for the outsides of clothing.  (Would rock for a summer nightgown).  Outside is that eyelet cotton.  Tight with my layouts - a yard each.  Total cost?  About $10.   And it took about 2-3 hours, even being picky and careful.  Yeah.  I think my life can involve a few more of *these*.

So, tomorrow I'll be rummaging around for fabric remnants that would make nice blouses... LOL. 


Happy Birthday, me.  :)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Sewing: In process for the next thing

Starting work on the Portrait Blouse...

(This is the picture of Gertie from her pattern book, I snagged it from Bing)

This is an extremely basic pattern - but I still tissue fit it onto Betsy (my dress form).  I still cut out a quick muslin.  (I solicit elderly sheets from my friends and relatives, so I always have junk fabric lying about).  And even though this is such a basic pattern... there are still changes!

I'm sitting here in the muslin. It's comfy. :) I've already moved the tucks up - and my husband told me that they needed to move up yet again, so I'm going to split the tucks into doubles. I *like* tucks, so that's fine by me. Deciding how I want to deal with the lining - the eyelet will have to be moved. And sadly I think I need an extra inch around the hips. :p

I don't think I'll need a zipper once I add the extra width though.  We'll find out! 

One of the great benefits to being hard-to-fit is that I take all of this as just part of the sewing process.  I don't get fussed about "the design says one tuck" when my body says, "do two".  If two looks better on me, then two is how many there will be. 

I *think* this may seriously be worth all the trouble... ;)  It's cute and comfy and even in a muslin, I'm forgetting that I'm wearing it. 

We shall see!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Sewing Post: Gertie's Starlet Suit Jacket

I'm finally done.*

I have finished my journey through the Starlet Suit Jacket.  Twice, no less!  (Remember I made a wearable muslin out of twill and acetate).  Six and a half hours of just Craftsy tutorial... I've been working on the red jacket for about a month, with a brief break to dash in and make my daughter a quick jacket.

It's ridiculously luxurious.  I had to go up to the fabric district in Los Angeles to get the fabric.   Wool is hard to come by in my area - a bright wool that would work on an extremely feminine suit?  Forget it.  The fashion fabric is a plushy wool melton and the lining is silk charmeuse.  Yes.  Silk.  I don't like man-made fabrics.
I started this project because I fell in love with the suit when Gertie put it up on her blog last year.  I knew the lines would be very flattering to my figure.  I knew it would be difficult, and expensive.  It was both! 
I have learned, and learned, and learned.  I feel like tackling something this difficult, this picky and timeconsuming - and this expensive, so that mistakes weren't an "oops, oh well" but a "this won't happen, and if it does, I'm fixing it" - has improved my sewing skills dramatically.
  • Tailoring.  I've padstitched and steamed and shaped and hand-tacked twill tape and pickstitched and... yeah.  Do I feel like a great tailor?  Ha.  But I have a clue now ... a tailored jacket holds no fear for me.  (Which is good - before I lose all momentum, I have an overcoat to make).
  • Bound buttonholes.  Time consuming, good looking things.  Fun or tidy in melton?  Hah.
  • Covered buttons:  Not nearly as difficult as I thought they were - and they're no more expensive than any other button.  I'll be using that little skill!
  • Silk:  I hadn't dealt with silk charmeuse before.  It's supposed to be a pretty mean customer.  It wasn't bad - I enjoyed myself.  (I keep telling my husband that he should be quavering in fear at this comment and hiding the credit cards, but he laughs and tells me that I'd be wearing it anyway).  Cutting was pretty easy, after I got it all layered in tissue.  And God was totally with me for the sewing up.  I'll need proper tools to tackle it again - I want fine pins and needles, mine had a hard time.
  • Wool:  As mentioned above, you don't get a lot of wool less than 100 miles from the border.  I found out that the absurdly plushy wool I picked might have been better as a less tailored item - I'm never going to get those collars completely flat, not if I sit on them.  Learned quite a lot about fabric manipulation too.  Wool's a dream to work with, pity it's usually too warm to wear here.
  • Pickiness:  I am *not* a perfectionist.  I skip steps, take big stitches and get on with the next thing.  For this project, I took my time and did as I was told.  It made a big difference - I'll have to go back to my wearable muslin and re insert the sleeve linings the *right way* so they don't bag out.  (Granted, my fingers were pretty sore from handsewing through twill). 
  • Welt pockets:  I've never put pockets on except for on-seam pockets.  But now I've done welt pockets!  (On the muslin - I didn't think I needed the bulk at the waist, so they're not on this one).  This worked out very well for my daughter - who *loves* the welt pockets on her jacket.  And they're sturdy... she sticks her hands in them all the time and they're not ripping out. 
  • Handstitching:  Most of this jacket was handstitched.  Not the seams, obviously.  But I spent much more time with needle and thread than I did at my machine, using any number of different stitches.  I've learned to keep my tension loose and have radically increased my lexicon of stitches.  More to the point, I've learned to do them quickly and well.  Not neatly, I'm not neat.  More neatly.  ;)
This has been a great - albeit extremely timeconsuming - experience.  I'm super glad I did it, and I'm super glad to be done.  I am making some easy cotton things to get a little semi-instant gratification and then I'll go on to the next big thing.
I wish the fitting was more perfect - there are always nasty surprises for me after I get everything completely done.  I'll learn in time, and for now I'm comforting myself with the fact that plenty of professional jackets don't fit like a glove, not in this heavy of a fabric.  (Yes, Mom was right about the melton being a bit thick).  It does look good... and anyway, even a two-story suiting store didn't have much in pure wool suiting colors.  Endless black and grey and navy, of course. 
Final cost, probably around $250, including the skirt which hasn't been sewn yet.  That's materials and pattern and the online class.   *Really* expensive for me, but there's no way I could get a suit out of materials like this and a fit like this for less.  And I've learned, which is to me of great value.

*I will make a skirt to go with this, but there's no rush, and it's not a hassle.  I need to figure out what skirt to make.  I'm not actually a "lady who lunches" anyway.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The inside

is *certainly* lovely.  Even if I am tired of the project as a whole.  I am very glad that my "real" jacket is made from "real" materials - they are every bit as lovely to my hands as they are lovely to the eye.  And I've found that I actually rather enjoy sewing silk charmeuse, although fine silk needles and pins will be *required* if I'm going to continue doing so.  Listening to the machine punch holes in the fabric was a bit like listening to the fabric of the universe being punched, and any number of my pins refused to go through the silk.  (I even changed to a fresh needle after the sound of that first seam.  It helped.  Not enough).

Hemming the lining tonight.  Should be done, if the Lord wills, tomorrow.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Sewing: Pattern Tracing/Adjustments

Next up in my sewing adventures - a (hopefully) easy and flattering blouse.  If it is both easy and flattering, I'll be cranking a pile of them out - my selection of blouses is pretty sad at the moment.

This is the Portrait Blouse, from Gertie's Book for Better Sewing. 

I found out that on my jacket, my vertical proportions aren't too far off of Gertie's, and this is a loose-fitting blouse, so I did a simple pattern grade.  I wasn't necessarily going to trace off the pattern... until I saw the pattern sheet.

Her publisher chose to put lots of pattern bits overlapping one another, a la extremely vintage patterns and patterns from magazines.  Much cheaper - and they used good paper - but it makes tracing off a requirement, not an option.

So I am starting with a size 10 (in Gertie land) on the shoulders/neck, grading to a 14 on the back and 16 front.  That *should* prevent me from having to do a FBA, which seems a bit odd, on such a loose item.   I made my notes on my pattern pieces, and when I'm ready to start working with them, I'll tissuefit and make  quick muslin before I do much of anything else.   I am hard to fit, so since I don't have a sloper for this kind of thing, I'll need to take my time and make the adjustments.  As far as the jacket worked, Gertie-land is pretty kind to my figure, so not only do I like her patterns, I hope that fitting won't give me the usual fits.

Tonight I was too tired to tackle my lining for the suit jacket and too fidgety to sit at my computer any longer, so that's why I traced this out.  :)  I can't wait to sew it up... I'm going to use the eyelet that I brought home a couple of weeks ago for my first go-through.