Thursday, August 22, 2019

Random Threads # 37: latest sewing, thoughts on perfect insides and is mending a trend?

Well that was a long stretch since my last Random Threads post which was in May. As usual lately I've been sewing up a storm, but also enjoying summer. I've tried to keep the garden from getting away from me, this is actually the slack time, garden-wise around here. As long as the tomatoes get watered there isn't much else to do. Which means more time for swimming, making ice-cream and having relaxing dinners with family and friends.
On the days when it's not a boiling 100+ degrees Fahrenheit I do get some sewing accomplished. The recent Burda issues have had so many pretty things and I need to resist, although I have one in the works and hope to finish this week. I'm sewing some samples for our fall classes at Hello Stitch and just barely starting to think about fall. I did order some fabrics from Mood this week and tossed quite a few wool swatch samples in my cart so perhaps one of those will be just what I didn't know I wanted.

Burda 6329 Envelope pattern: I have a few knits from Girl Charlee and one day decided this coral fabric needed to be sewn up immediately. I really like this pattern and I think in the winter I'll make the long sleeve version.  Worn here with my trusty Vogue 1247 denim skirt.

Coral burda stripe tee1


Ordinarily the neckband needs to be cut on the cross-grain but this fabric was quite stretch so it worked to rotate it lengthwise and then have the contrast stripes which I really like. By the way, I don't use the neckband pattern piece which came with the pattern, it didn't seem right and I just use my own method which is one I learned from the Threads website - it never fails. Also the sleeves are hemmed about 3 inches shorter than the pattern view, it think on me the sleeve length is just dowdy and needed to be shorter like this, or maybe longer. Anyway - stitcher's choice, right?


Sewing Failures: Thankfully I don't have many sewing failures, and if I can tell something is not working out I just stop mid-project. If I can salvage the fabric and turn into something else I will do that, or maybe save the large pieces for other things. But I think this fabric was my nemesis and I have tried to make 2 things from a very large piece, both were utter failures and it was time to move on!

green gingham dress composite

I thought I would try the longer length and turns out it made me feel like I was wearing someone else clothes. I did like the neckline and pleating on the bodice so that's an idea for another day. Combining the length, the ruffle and the gingham just made me feel like I had refashioned something from the Little House on the Prairie collection. If that was a thing :).  Also that lime green shade is just not my favorite. I think I will take this dress over to Hello Stitch and see if anyone wants it.
To sum up my sewing failures, 90% of the time it's when I pick the wrong fabric for the style. How about you?

Pressing matters: I am a pressing fanatic, and it just irks me to see pattern designers showing their examples that are poorly pressed, or not pressed at all. By this I don't mean the inherent wrinkles in fabric such as linen or cotton, but the seams not pressed sufficiently or hems wobbling. Or even extra creases pressed in where they shouldn't be. It makes me question the professionalism and quality of the pattern product. Do you notice this?

Is Mending a Trend? Seriously? My feeling on mending is that it's good for your wardrobe, your wallet and the planet. I guess I grew up in a family that mended, fixed and repaired before buying something new, so mending seems second nature. But I have friends that get rid of clothes with a tiny hole or lost button. It seems like such a shame to do that. My a ha! moment as a teenager was realizing I could replace the zipper in a pair of jeans and have it look exactly the same. I wrote a post on the Craftsy blog a while ago on this, here's the link, it's not hard and so satisfying. Also for that post I actually extracted the perfectly good zipper from those jeans and then re-sewed it in, as I didn't have any jeans with a broken zipper at hand :)

Piecing: another oddly satisfying sewing maneuver. When I made a Simplicity skirt pattern recently I was down to itsy bitsy pieces to make the ruffle part, and the skirt pieces fit on the large chunks with just one corner of the side seam hanging over the edge. Piecing to the rescue.

Piecing wrap skirt

This little triangle is about 3 inches long. I cut out the skirt front, sewed on a chunk of fabric and then placed the paper pattern piece back on and cut the edge out. I think I recall seeing some vintage patterns that gave instructions for using 36" wide fabric that also included the piecing, or perhaps the design was created with that in mind and no pattern piece was wider than 36". Thank goodness for 60" wide fabric! I think piecing and color blocking or fabric mixing are fun exercises for our sewing brains.

Perfectionism and how you finish the inside of garments: This is such an interesting topic to me as I am so focused on the outside, and I really don't have an interest in doing special finishes on unlined garments. All bets are off on a lined coat or jacket as the lining is likely to be seen when you take it off, so I take quite a lot of care on those items. In fact I typically hand sew the linings in and don't think they come out as well if you bag the lining. Having a lining means that the inside seams are hidden so don't need any special treatment. But on other things, like t-shirts or jeans, I don't focus on the thread color, or if my pocket lining coordinates. I know some people get great enjoyment in doing special seam finishes or bias binding but I find that so tedious. Back in May, Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow wrote a blog post on this topic and I was interested to see her thoughts. We sew very different items but I agree with her on inside thread colors - it's not critical. I wonder if the fact that I started sewing way before I ever had a serger means that using a serger seems extra to me? I think it's nice to use, particularly on denim, but not a deal breaker. I'm constantly amazed in my classes that beginner sewists immediately are planning to go out and buy a serger in addition to a sewing machine. My advice is buy more fabric and practice making garments, but I think I'm a lonely voice in that chorus.

Latest Tunic top for my Mom:  Here's the most recent tunic top I've sewn for my mom, she said she wanted something in green, and I showed here a few fabrics but nothing caught her eye. Then I was in Stone Mountain and found this lovely woven rayon in the sale area, so score! I've made her these tops before and on this one she wanted that higher collar, so I combined this New Look pattern with the body of the self-drafted pattern that I usually use.

NL6544 envelope tunic topgreen white tunic top

The new patterns require So Much Fabric: Ruffles, full sleeves, gathers, longer lengths, all these details call for so much fabric! The fashion pendulum has swung and a lot of the patterns look so similar to those of a previous decade...which I think is 70's?
Case in point, this McCalls new fall release pattern, the Version C in the photo. The fabric requirements for 60" wide are 4.5 yards to 4.875 yards across the size range, and for a 45" wide fabric the fabric requirements are 5 to 6.5 yards. WOW! that is a lot of fabric. For Version A it ranges between 3 to 3.5 yards of 60" wide but that is still a lot! I think it might pay to really figure out what features of these new patterns are appealing to you, perhaps the skirt, or a long poet-style sleeve and choose accordingly, instead of going for every feature in one dress and needing almost 6 yards!

M7998 pattern envelope

That's it for today, although in my last random threads I did mention there is one dress that bugs me when I see it. And that is the Kielo dress by Named Patterns. Named have lots of fantastic patterns, I like their style so much. But the Kielo dress shape seems wrong to my eye, if the tie part was an overlay instead of continuing from the main body piece I would like it more. Also that dress must use quite a bit of fabric as well. Anyway - it's a wide world of patterns and there are so many to choose from.

Up next at Hello Stitch - some interesting classes for fall. If you are interested sign up when they are listed as a lot of them are quickly sold out. There are a couple of spots open in the Zadie jumpsuit class in September, and then in October I'm doing a Tamarack Jacket class and a Jeans jacket class. Not yet announced will be a Wardrobe Sewing class - we'll be using a new and popular pattern set of pants and top - any guesses? I just made the pants to try them out and I will be making more!

August is flying by, school has started around here just as we are getting out late summer heat wave. Temps around 100F here at my house - so here is how I really look when taking blog pictures.

Coral burda tee2

Stay cool and Happy Summer Sewing;

Today's garden photo, some pink gladioli taken in July. Like tulips, I plant these bulbs and then promptly forget all about them, so they are such a nice surprise when they bloom. 

Pink Glads

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Zadie Jumpsuit from Paper Theory Patterns

If you had told me two years ago that I would be making and wearing a jumpsuit I would have said "not in a million years". And yet here I am, wearing this jumpsuit, and teaching a class this weekend on this very pattern. After this pattern came out and I saw so many great versions on IG and blogs I came to the conclusion that it's a pattern that's both simple and stylish, quick to sew, actually easy to get on and off, and it looks great in so many different fabrics. This is the Zadie jumpsuit from Paper Theory Patterns. 

jumpsuit zadie 4

I wanted to take photos and do this blog post this week, so I was outside as the light was fading around 7pm. On the positive side - I had just come home from getting my haircut so I figured bright lipstick, dash out and take my photos. That spot on my patio has a nice blank wall but the light is limited due to the angle and the patio cover. I'm still contemplating painting a section in a nice light color. Oh the things we do for photos these days, right?

This fabric is a polyester crepe ? kind of a textured fabric with a very slight stretch, which I bought around New Years time at Joann's on one of their super sale days. I loved the color but didn't really have any need for some poly, however when I was thinking about this jumpsuit I saw it in my stash. I still have about 1.5 yards remaining so I think that will be a dress. Because now I'm sold on this color :)

Super duper fabric closeup so you can see the texture. Which is a nice feature - it presses perfectly but no wrinkles! And you can see one small change I made which was to add belt loops.

Zadie fabric up close

If you've been living under a rock for the past few months and haven't seen this pattern here is the tech drawing.

Zadie jumpsuit tech drawing

I did make a couple of fitting adjustments, as I made a sample version which is hanging on the wall at Hello Stitch, in my size 10 and which I thought the overall fit was nice the crotch was very low, to me it felt awkward. I decided to raise it up on this version and then if it turned out too high I could always stitch it lower.  Here's the change I made, raising both the front and back crotch curve by 2 inches. That turned out to be perfect and I left it that way after I basted it to try on.

pattern adjustment zadie pants

jumpsuit back view

The slight drawback of raising the crotch curve is that it is now shorter in the body, so slightly more wriggling to get it on since the length of the opening is now shorter, but it is by no means too short and I think the back looks better than on the test version that I made. (In this post if you scroll down you can see the test version that I made).

jumpsuit zadie 3

The other notable change is the length, I added 6 inches to the length, and then ended up hemming up about 2.5-3 inches as I wanted it to be full length, I don't think the crop length looks good on me at all.

This jumpsuit is very cleverly designed in that there are no closures other than the tie belt, but it is really like a wrap dress, so the fronts overlap and provide very good coverage. It's one of the type of garment that probably doesn't look all that great on the hanger if you were to see it in a store but once you put it on then it looks fantastic.

zadie jumpsuit on hanger

Zadie belt

I might have gone a little overboard with the belt loops but that is one criticism of the pattern, or the wearability. Most all of them that I see have the tie belt wrapped but the waist seam tends to slide down below it, and sometimes it looks a bit baggy in the backside. I almost wonder if it would look OK and be comfortable to have a casing with elastic just across the back waist. Might try that sometime in the future.

One other little adjustment was to add to the front edge of the bodice, where the wraps overlap at the center front. This is another of my "I will add a little bit here and if I don't like it when I sew it together and try on then I can always remove it" adjustments. But I left it as it. By adding that small amount on a wrap dress or top you are raising the point where the overlaps intersect. Often this is the difference between a pretty and comfortable neckline and a slightly too revealing wrap neckline.
I wrote an article on the Craftsy blog in the past which is now on the Bluprint site, so it may be helpful when fitting a wrap neckline,

pattern adjustment zadie bodice

One other place when I decided to go off the instructions was in the binding of the opening. This fabric was a bit spongy and it didn't look great with topstitching as a linen or cotton would, so I hand stitched the bias binding around the neck.
It did take a few minutes but the thread really disappeared into the texture of the fabric and allowed me to get the binding even all the way around. Plus a bit of hand sewing is fine when it's SHARK WEEK on Discovery channel. Any other shark week fans out there? It's silly, it's bombastic and yet I find it so mesmerizing. Also as someone who loves to swim in the ocean, I find it both educational and nightmare inducing. But I love anything ocean related so it's really interesting.

Zadie binding

jumpsuite ig

So that's the scoop on my Zadie jumpsuit. This Saturday I have a class on this pattern which is full, however we are offering it again in September and I think there are some spots still open, but I think they will fill up.

What else? I'm sneaking in a few new summer dresses here and there in my sewing time, as I have a vacation coming up. We have a jean jacket class on the calendar at Hello Stitch in October - that will be fun and it's such a great item for our bay area weather. There is one spot that opened up in my Jacket Tailoring class in mid-Sept. I just started on a Jasika blazer this week as I wanted to try out the pattern so I will post some progress on my IG story. Also we're planning a capsule wardrobe class so more details on that soon.

I wasn't going to include this picture but I decided it needed a caption of this type "oh hello, welcome to my garden, where I flounce around in my elegant jumpsuit admiring my flowers, and I ignore the dry patch on the lawn where the sprinklers refuse to cooperate". Or something equally silly but you get the idea.

Zadie 5 jumpsuit

Happy Summer Sewing,

Today's garden photo, dahlias and a milkweed, which I happily planted to help the monarch butterflies. And I was thrilled this week to see some in my yard. Long live the monarch butterflies! 


Thursday, July 25, 2019

Simplicity 8606 wrap skirt and New Look 6107 top

The following photo illustrates my glee at the fact that I have squeezed this skirt from what was left of the rayon print fabric shown a couple of weeks ago. Recall that fabric? which I used to make my faux jumpsuit, seen here in this post.  By the way, speaking of previous posts, thank you for all the sweet comments on my last dress, the purple one, which was quite popular here and on IG. Now I think I might need a purple coat! But it was over 100 F today here so not even thinking about coats!

And yes, I did take this picture in front of Stone Mountain Fabrics in Berkeley where they have helpfully painted this doorway to the delight of all shoppers.

Doorway 1

Let's get to the details of that skirt. I love it!! and you can expect to see this pattern make a repeat performance.

Wrap skirt on form1

I know I started off making the short version, but for some reason I think I cut off 1 inch from the hem ruffle, as it seemed just a bit too long. Well I will check and see when I make another version.
This rayon fabric is the ideal choice for this skirt, although I think it would work in a lot of other fabrics - now for my constant suggestion - a lightweight denim :)

Simplicity pattern 8606

I made version D, which is the short version with the flounce. It is cleverly designed, quite similar to the purple dress in my previous post, in that the part that is underneath has less ruffle since it doesn't show. Which means that you cut the two front ruffle pieces on the single layer. Now I will tell you a tip for cutting out - ignore the grain lines on the ruffle pieces! There is a grain line but when you make this type of ruffle (which I actually call a flounce or a circular ruffle) the grain is only straight on one section of the piece and the rest is different bias angles, so it makes no difference where you cut it out. And that helped me squeeze this onto the fabric I had remaining.
By the way - all the articles I wrote on the old Craftsy blog are on the new Bluprint website, here is the link to the one I wrote on designing this type of circular ruffle.

This is supposed to be a true wrap skirt, where the long tie goes through the waistband and encircles the waist. But I had no fabric for that, so I cut one layer of waistband, made a facing of solid black cotton, and please don't tell anyone but I put velcro for closures which leaves plenty of adjustment room for ice cream after dinner, smart huh?

velco on wrap skirt

wrap skirt closure view

And with the remaining scraps I made a couple of shorter ties to make a bow.

I even had to piece the skirt body at one of the side seams. I always find piecing fabric weirdly satisfying, and have done it 3 times lately. Which may indicate I'm habitually skating on the edge of not having enough fabric but that's what makes it fun.

Piecing wrap skirt

This past Saturday was our Bay Area Sewists Meetup and I saw Meg of Made by Meg  wearing her fantastic Sirocco jumpsuit. She needs to make another one, it looks great on her.
My top is the Bondi top that I made to go with the Emerson Pants which made up my faux jumpsuit.

Me and meg at meetup

Once I finished the skirt I felt like it needed a different top so I rummaged through my fabric and came up with a pink eyelet for a sleeveless top.

This is New Look 6107, a pattern from a few years ago that I also got at a Bay Area Sewists pattern swap. I can't say that it is much like the pattern as designed, I used the basic shape but then I changed the button front area, the pattern has a placket behind the center front and loops for the buttons. That would be too bulky in eyelet so I extended the center fronts so it buttoned like a regular shirt. Then I made some self bias and just kind of winged it around the neckline. I think it shows but it was hot and I just wanted to finish it so it's not my best design but it works. I do love the color.

eyelet top pink 2 on form

New Look 6107 pattern envelope

I am a fan of blouses with shoulder gathers so I might make this one again with sleeves in the fall in a silk or something else.

Eyelet top pink on form

I really like the skirt with a pink top - black is not my favorite so I prefer some other color on my top half. Do you crack up when you look at your outfit photos? I seem to often be looking at something in the distance or perhaps it's the beginning of that phrase "hurry up and take the picture people are looking at me."

Pink top and skirt

And if one version of this skirt pattern is good that two is even better!
My friend Halyna (Instagram: zigzagstitching) saw my version on the dress form and immediately got the pattern.

Two wrap skirts

So that's the latest on my new wrap skirt. Also I can report that this skirt seems to cleverly stay overlapped when walking, sitting etc. So it is a winner of a pattern!

Wrap skirt in garden

Up next in my sewing, I'm making another New Look pattern, in gingham as I have to join in on this summer's trend. And then it's head down with a lot of serious sewing, prep for my upcoming classes.

Speaking of classes - just today we added a new class in October - the Jean Jacket. Here's the link. I think that will be a fun item to sew and it's an ideal garment for our weather. Well it's an ideal garment for every wardrobe. You can use any jean jacket pattern you would like.
There are a couple of spots still open for the September sessions of the Garment Copy class and the Zadie jumpsuit class. We'll be adding some classes for November soon as well.
Also there is one spot that opened up in my Jacket Tailoring class in September so if you wanted to do that here's the link. 

Happy Summer sewing and stay cool! It's supposed to be in the 100's F this weekend here but we are used to it, plus it means grilling outside, plenty of ice cream and lots of dips in the pool. I hope the weather improves for everyone else.


today's garden photo - more hydrangeas, which you can just see in the photo above, on the left side.
This is two bushes next to each other, one is a white and the other the purple version of these shooting star hydrangeas. I didn't even remember getting the purple one so it was a pleasant surprise this year with so many blooms. When the breeze passes by they are just magical.

shooting star hydrangeas

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Flared Dress BurdaStyle #117 April 2019

As soon as I saw the preview of the April issue of the BurdaStyle magazine I knew I wanted to make this dress. The version shown in the magazine is a nice polka dot and I looked around for some fabric like that. As it happened I received a big bag of free fabric that yielded just the right one. Hello Stitch had a fabric swap day a while back and after it was over they gave me what remained to use for making samples for classes. So far it has supplied the fabric for my sample Myosotis dress and my first Zadie jumpsuit - so not a bad haul.

But the one that catches my eye will always be the jewel tone, in this case a purple mystery fabric, probably a poly crepe. I am really happy with the result, although there are a few small things I can gripe about. But on the whole I like it - and have worn it already.

purple dress10

Mostly it's the length!  I am on the smaller side, 5'3" maybe a half inch more if I stand up straight :) and I think the skirt length looks better on me if it's just at mid-knee. So about 2 inches shorter on this one would have been nice. Although I realize it's supposed to be this length and I decided to just go with it instead of fiddling with shortening which would have been a pain with the asymmetrical skirt pieces.
And dress lengths seem to be getting longer again. Fashion - always doing this to us, right?

A change I did make is to lower the neckline a bit in the center front, it was a higher cut, more of a boat neck (where did that name come from?). Anyway - those necklines always feel a bit uncomfortable on me so I rounded it a bit at the center from lowering about 1/2".

purple dress bodice view sq

That twisty waist sash was a total puzzler and thank goodness for this very thin fabric. It is probably impossible to see but the larger side twists and is caught in the skirt under where the ruffle starts, and then the smaller side loops around that and is caught in the seam between bodice and skirt. At least that is what I gleaned from the Burda instructions and looking closely at the example for many minutes.

Purple dress sq4

I think the best thing about this pattern is the skirt and it would be easy to use the skirt portion with a different Burda dress bodice, or just as a skirt alone.

purple dress hem ruffle

I treated this dress as a combo of fancy sewing and speed sewing. In that I took my time with the fit and yet I used some super quick sewing techniques in certain areas. Like the hem for the ruffle. This fabric was super unravel-ly which is not fun, so I just serged the edge of all the ruffle and turned, pressed and machine stitched for the hem. Which is pretty much what the instructions said. But for the neckline and armholes it said to finish with bias tape. Nope - I have an aversion to bias tape. At least the packaged stuff. Far too stiff for most garment sewing.
I could have made a facing for the neck and armhole and almost did that when I was thinking of lining the whole dress, but then I decided to go speed sewing on that and skipped the lining. Although I'm wearing a knit slip I sewed a while ago (for wearing under knit dresses) - which is the perfect layer for this one as well.

purple dress 11

Actually I'm really liking the fit in the back. Maybe I should make this one again? I cut out a size 38 at the neck and shoulders, and then graded out about 1-2 inches larger at waist and hip. The waist twisty sash thing is cut on the bias, and I cut it the same as the pattern and based it on, then later I had to open up parts of the side seam at the top and bottom of the sash as it was too loose there. So basically tightening up the sash so that it would lay flat against the body.

purple dress side view on form

Burda 117 April 2019 tech drawing

Burda 117 april19 image

There's the tech drawing and the magazine photo. I really like the proportions of the ruffle. The skirt is not an overlap but is two pieces with a curved seam joining them and the ruffle sandwiched in between. Also maybe  I need a hat???  (nope)

Purple dress 16 sq

Attempting a better pose for photos here - trying to emulate my friend Laura Mae who I think has master the art of blog photo poses (which I have not :)

What about the inside? Well since I decided not to line it then the neck and armholes needed finishing. I cut bias strips from a scrap of bemberg rayon lining, about 1.24 inches wide, and pressed one edge under by 1/4". Then I stitched it on at the 5/8" seam line, trimmed and clipped that, pressed inside and then hand stitched the bias to enclose the edges. I'm a pretty quick hand sewer so it was probably faster than making a facing pattern piece and dealing with that. You can see the grey basting thread on my zipper - I machine baste invisible zippers in, and typically use a contrast thread color so I can see the basting. And no need to take it out - it's on the inside of the garment so I don't care.

Purple dress bias binding

The one drawback to the combo of this lightweight fabric and no interfacing around the neckline is that it is a bit limp and you can see some ripples when I wear it, but I can live with that.

Purple dress on form ruffle

So that's my latest Burda magazine sewing, with a few new things traced out and ready to go when I find a minute.
But this is not the last of a skirt flounce this summer - my other finished project also has this feature. It's the summer of ruffles  - they are everywhere.

purple dress 17 sq

Happy Summer Sewing,

and today's garden photos, it has to be these purple beauties. Right now I have a wall of hydrangeas across the back of the yard and I couldn't be happier every time I look out.

Blue green hydrangea

wall of hydrangea
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