Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Random Threads # 32: after the fact fixes, pocket placement and the old Singer Buttonhole attachment

Time for another Random Threads as my notebook page has quite a few topics jotted down, and for once I can read all my scribblings. Actually after the last few times when I looked at my notebook and realized I had absolutely no idea what I wrote down I've tried to be more careful. After all, a brilliant revelation or hilarious sewing observation could have been lost due to my less than perfect penmanship. Why is my writing so bad? Not sure as I am so fussy in many other things. But it has been this way since I first picked up a crayon and probably not going to change now. (And all of you with lovely handwriting have my admiration:)

First up, Do you do after-the-fact fixes? By that I mean adjust or alter a garment that you have sewn, and likely worn, after it is completed. I do this all the time. Well, not all the time but often. Here are some things I have done: changed sleeve length, changed hem length (those are probably common). Adjusted the center back zipper - even to taking it out and altering fit there and then sewing it back in. Changed a facing to bias binding. Changing armhole shape. Narrowing shoulders. Adjusting sleeve width. Changing the buttons (rarely - as I hate sewing on buttons). Changing the neckline. Adding a drawstring or changing the elastic. Even adding more interfacing if it was possible and I thought the item needed it. All in all, I figure if I liked it enough to finish it and wear it, then a small issue that bugs me can be fixed, and I will like it even more.
My most recent fix is this knit dress. It had an elastic waist and then a tie sash, which didn't seem to add anything. Also I made the elastic too short so it was fine when standing but when I sat down it wanted to roll upwards.

drawstring on knit dress I I took out the elastic, added two buttonholes at the center front, made the elastic about 3/4 of my waist measurement and then made a couple of 1/2" ties which I attached to the ends of the elastic. So now it is a drawstring, with elastic, which is a really nice way to do a drawstring, super comfortable and you never need to adjust it as you wear it. So a tiny refashion and now this dress is 100% satisfactory.

Pocket placement: Do you have an ideal pocket placement idea? I mean the patch pockets on the backside of jeans. When I look at pattern details I feel like Goldilocks - pockets too high, pockets too low, and then just right. Of course just right is in the eye of the beholder. And this beholder likes them right in the middle of the bum, above the crease formed where your cheek meets the top of the thigh. This is for women's jeans, men's are a whole different category. Just personal preference, to me the pockets look out of proportion or misplaced when they are partly on the back thigh. Where they end up has a lot to do with a person's body shape, and length of rise, and if the jeans are high waisted or low rise. You see this more often on guys, I think because on most men their jeans are not held up by the hips as women's usually are, so they tend to migrate downwards, even if they are not intending that look. Sometimes I see a guy with his jeans pockets somewhere south of what looks comfortable (or safe) and you can see the outline of phone and wallet. That's when I think isn't that uncomfortable and or possibly hazardous to your phone screen to sit on it all the time? As a relatively short person 5'3" with a long rise I have been making pants and jeans and thus scrutinizing my backside pockets. Not the most fun in the sewing room but worthwhile to get a fit I like.

News stories about the business of fashion: I love to read business stories that cover fashion and the apparel industry. Inside scoop on a Paris fashion house or behind the scenes peeks at a major magazine or line, yes please! I recently read this one on Bloomberg Business News about LuLaRoe Leggings and the problems with that firm including the speculation that it is a multi-level-marketing scam in addition to a clothing company. Also inter-family drama. Also my opinion - they look like toddler clothes for grown women - which should be the real scandal.

Custom fabric to the extreme: did I show this link before? let's turn to something that made me laugh out loud. And actually show it to a family friend who I thought might want one of these pillows. Result: she did not.

Vintage Singer Buttonhole Attachment: I love my older Singer sewing machines and think that they make the best buttonholes. Plus they do the Keyhole buttonhole which looks so professional on a jacket.  Recently Morgan (@crabandbee) posted a pic of a recently inherited sewing machine which is the same model as one I have. She asked about some of the accessories so I figured I would sift through my photo file and find the slightly blurry video I made a while ago of the buttonholer in action.

buttonhole attachmt SaveSave

Here's a link to a post I did in 2011 (!) with lots of info, photos of the various parts that are needed for the buttonhole attachment and how they work on the sewing machine. And the video. I just tried to upload it here and it is taking forever, but if you click over to the 2011 post you can see it there.

Topstitching - what is it about this that people love? I like the look of it but I can take it or leave it. Some things look nice with it and I do it but it's far from my favorite component of a project. Some stitchers go into raptures over topstitching...maybe people who love order and tidiness and get a thrill out of those perfectly uniform stitches marching across fabric.

Pattern Review website - do you use? I think a lot of people would agree that it would be great to have a website that incorporates the fun and friendliness of Instagram with the usefulness of Pattern Review. And had a better visual appeal (with no brown  - websites with brown graphics are sort of sad looking). I use PR for pattern evaluation, it's really useful to see the combo of photos of a pattern sewn up, the fabric choice, how it looks on different body types and then read a few paragraphs on the pluses and minus of the design, construction and what the individual person might have done to change up the pattern or make it easier to sew. I also look on Instagram but the specific search result on PR is quite handy. I post reviews because I figure if I am going to use it (for free) I should contribute in the same way. Instagram is a more fun interaction but I am always wanting more info and details than the snippets people post. Picky picky, right?

What makes a well drafted pattern? I see this phrase used often and sometimes I wonder what the person meant by it. It can mean that it sewed up correctly? That the pattern pieces fit together easily? It could mean that it fit well for the size that they chose. It could mean that the designer took into consideration the drape of the fabric and thus it resulted in a nice garment. Maybe just that it was really on trend and so gave the stitcher the item they wanted for right now. Sometimes I see this phrase used and I think the pattern they are referencing might have sewing together with no problems but the torturing of that fabric has turned out an awful result. Interestingly I don't think you can apply this designation to any particular pattern company, each one has some things that go together well and others that look like they were trouble from the get-go. I just sewed up two different wrap dress patterns from the same pattern company, one was great and one was a problem child so I might have more to say on this topic soon.

What is with the terrible darts on the red carpet? I think the most famous offender is Prada and this dress might be from the same design house. I saw this during the coverage of the Cannes film festival and that satin fabric is not helping the matter. But eek, that is not the way I would want a dress to look when being photographed a zillion times. Although the jewels are quite something.

darts not sewn well

My diagnosis from afar - doesn't it look like there is a structured corset on the inside of the dress and the outer bodice fabric is too long, it should be more taut above the dart ends to avoid that ripple. Who knows and I'm sure these dresses get shipped around the world to wear for just a few hours without the proper fitting they would do if you were a customer. Not that I would buy that dress - the worst color! (although I know some of you love the neutrals!)

Up next, some blog posts on sewing that's not blue - I've been on a blue streak lately but it's time for a different color.  Sneak peek here for an upcoming Wrap Dress Class (Sat. Aug. 4 - choose any wrap dress pattern, or wrap top and we will cover some of the tricks to a good wrap dress fit)

red wrap dress bodice

At Hello Stitch Studio: still some spots in my Pattern Reading class this Thursday night 6/14, and then my Skirt class on Saturday 6/16. The studio is closed during the week of July 4. In July we have a Pants Fitting class (limited to 4 people) and also a Button front Shirt class (Tues. 7/17 in the evening) plus another Bondi dress on Aug 12. Everyone is making such cute Bondi dresses - it is the ideal summer dress.

Pattern fitting and adjustment classes include the Pants class mentioned above, as well as another Adjust the Bust pattern fitting (7/15) another Garment Copy (7/22) and a Pattern Hacks class (7/28).  All garment classes are here. 

So plenty to do this summer, and the weather is heating up, which means I can wear my summer dresses, yay! And a sewing meet up with friends later this week that I am really looking forward to.

Happy Summer Sewing,

today's garden photo, there are so many foxgloves blooming, in shades of white, pink and purple. They even seem to self sow, which I hope means more blooms from the smaller volunteer plants later this summer.



Thursday, June 7, 2018

Burda 08/2014 #116, a dress for a spring breeze

Do you ever finish a project and think, yes! This was the perfect fabric choice for that pattern. I recently had the opportunity to choose a fabric from The Confident Stitch, which is a gem of an independent fabric store in Missoula, Montana. I met the owner Kate a few years ago when she came for a fitting lesson. She has bay area roots but has lived in Montana for many years. Kate decided to open a fabric store which sounds like a dream but I imagine is a lot of hard work along with the fun of thinking about fabric all the time. On their blog they have great versions of indie patterns sewn up with their fabrics. I like to see how things look on real people, instead of illustrations, don't you? In particular they have sewn up versions of the Sew House 7 patterns which make me want to stitch up those immediately!
Looking at the website, I had a really hard time choosing as they have a lot of lovely knits, cottons and double gauzes however I will always gravitate towards the tropical and the turquoise blue, so I chose this woven rayon Island Batik. I chose the fabric first, with no plan. And then had to think about how to use it to take best advantage of the weight and drape. In the end I chose a pattern which fit into my vague plan to try new silhouettes and shapes this year.

blue rayon dress back view 2

How's that for something different? This is the first time I've ever sewn something with a hi-lo hem. Admittedly not a drastic one, but it does have that lovely swishy feeling as you walk around. And not to overlook the other feature of this pattern, the opening at the center back. This pattern is super easy to sew, and has an elastic channel in the front, then the opening has a drawstring all around the opening which you can make more gathered or less, depending on how much of your backside you want to show.

Seriously, so easy! Just 4 main pattern pieces, a facing for the back opening to make the casing, a bias binding on the neck and then turn and stitch hem for the sleeves and hem.

Blue rayon front on form

Here's a look at the pattern from the BurdaStyle website. Now I notice that they are also leaning into the "looks good with the wind blowing" aspect.

Burda 08-2014 116B

So Burda...from August 2014. Yes, I saw this dress ages ago and always wanted to make it. When in doubt of what to do with a fabric, I look at the various pattern websites, especially BurdaStyle because they have a lot of dresses with interesting features. It might be that I'm not interested in actually using their pattern, often I have a similar pattern in my stash already but the inspiration is helpful and I do like their tech drawings.

Changes - I think I shortened the whole thing about 3 inches - but note I am 5'3" so typically shorten everything. I lowered the front neckline about 2 inches at the center front. The drawing looks like a scoop neckline but it was too high on me and I like the way the back looked. Otherwise no changes. I cut a size 38 and graded to a 40 at the hip, but I probably could have made a 38 all over, it has plenty of ease.

Blue rayon close up back on form

The only other small nitpick is that I followed the pattern when placing the buttonholes at the center back which the tie threads through to the outside, and they are a bit too far apart (about 2.5 inches) As it is, when the bow is tied there is about 2 inches of fabric that isn't gathered up. However it doesn't show so it's not a problem. I also thought about making it a sleeveless look, as I usually don't like cap sleeves but I am SO glad I didn't. The shape looks perfect and cap sleeve balances out the rest of the details.

The color of this fabric is so pretty - it's like the perfect blue sky on a summer day. They have a number of these Island Batiks at The Confident Stitch. It would be a good choice for a similar easy fit dress, a tunic top or a maxi skirt.

Blue dress3

blue rayon side view close up

There is a bust dart which gives nice shaping to the front, and all but disappears in this fabric.

blue rayon dress back view6

blue rayon dress front4

It was really windy when I took these pictures - which worked out for the best.

So that's the latest on my new dress with fabric from The Confident Stitch. I can't wait for a warm evening to wear it out to dinner.

Next up, a Random Threads posts is in the works, and then my other recent sewing projects. Which are Not Blue! I just looked back through my blog posts for the last 5 months and the majority are blue. Not intentional and time to change color course.

Last weekend I had two days of great classes at Hello Stitch Studio.  On Saturday we sewed the Bondi dress, and all the version were so nice! This Bondi dress class is on the calendar again, Aug 12.  On Sunday I taught a pattern fitting class and I really enjoyed meeting everyone, sharing fitting dilemmas and finding solutions to make clothes that you want to wear (and sew again and again)

Speaking of Patterns - I am really excited about a new class we have put on the schedule: Sat. July 28, which is Pattern Hacks: add new elements to your existing patterns. You know I can't leave a pattern alone - so this class will cover how to make changes and hacks like redesigning the neckline, combining 2 patterns together, adding pockets, or plackets and just getting more mileage out of the patterns that you currently sew. Like some of my the other pattern fitting classes this will be a workshop style class where we slice and dice sample pattern templates in order to learn how to make these changes.

class at Hello Stitch Upcoming classes at Hello Stitch:
Sat. June 16 and 23: 2 morning sessions Skirt class, pencil or a-line skirt style, you choose your pattern.
Sat June 16: 2pm  Knit t-shirt. I think this class is close to sold out - so if you are interested hop over and register.
Thurs. June 14: 6-9 pm How to Read a Pattern, I really like this class, even if you have sewn a few patterns already it is a great overview and discussion of what makes a good pattern, how to get the most info from the pattern envelope and pieces plus choosing the right fabrics for success.

In July we have a Pants fitting class (Sat. July 14) and another session of  How to Copy a Garment class (Sun. July 22).
In August we will have a wrap dress something for everyone I hope.

Link here to the Hello Stitch Studio class listing page. 

People who sew are SO interesting! I have met such fantastic people in every class and as one person said on Sunday, it's just great to spend a day with others who want to talk about sewing. I agree with that!

Not able to resist using this photo to say gotta run and good-bye! Places to go and fabrics to sew. With the back opening a bit lower in this one - showing off my lingering Hawaii tan....

blue rayon dress with breeze1

Happy spring sewing, 

I was going to skip my garden photo - as you get a glimpse of all the foxgloves in the background there plus the hydrangeas just starting to have blooms, but I did get a new camera. And this is the time of year when there an abundance of things to photograph. 

Hanging basket with petunias and a calibrachoa which has survived through the winter. Plus experimenting with focus.


Wednesday, May 30, 2018

McCalls 7549 color blocked cropped jacket in double sided fabric

When it comes to planning what to sew, to summarize, I don't. Meaning I don't really plan, I just go where my mood takes me. Sure I have a vague idea that I might need some new knit tops, or want a certain color of denim skirt. But mostly I just go with what fabric I find or a pattern that catches my eye. I suppose I do have the luxury of sewing for a good long time, so I have plenty of coats and jackets to wear as well as all the summer dresses a person could need. But desire for an item, that is a different story. There is always something fun to discover around the next sewing corner, an inspiration from the web or another stitcher. So while I sew according to my whimsy, I am very strict with myself when it comes to two things. 1) finishing projects and 2) blogging things I have sewn in the order I sew them.

Kind of goofy, huh? If I have sewn something, and then completed something else, I have to blog items in the order they were sewn. Even if I have been wearing both all the time. A strange self-imposed order to my typical sewing abandon. So today I am doing a blog post on an item that I am really happy with but was as yet un-blogged. Despite finishing it ages ago - before other stuff that I have recently blogged. To the point that it was like a pebble in my shoe! Silly but there it is. Perhaps because I actually took quite a while to finish this. I started it around Thanksgiving and finally completed it in March. Only because so many other obligations pushed it aside. And now a wool jacket that will be put away until fall!

blue wool jacket side view

Stay tuned if you like sewing details, pattern matching and design changes because this project had it all. It started with this wool which I bought at Mood Fabrics in NY back in Oct 2016. I really love the color and the fact that it is actually two sided, so it is one fabric which appears as dots on one side and then lines on the other. But I wanted to sew a jacket that could use a lot of both sides of the fabric, not just a small amount like edging of one side and the rest as the other. I saw this pattern from McCalls and strangely I have seen very few versions sewn up. If you look in Instagram there are a few (very cute) versions and a couple of people made it more than once. It's a really easy pattern and a great choice for a first jacket - not hard to sew but a lot of interesting options.

Back to the beginning, when I saw this pattern I figured it would work for the wool, and started playing around with the fabric placement. Here's the pattern envelope.

M7549 pattern envelope jacket

In order to decide how to place the fabric, the dots and lines which give a different shade of blue, I copied the technical drawing from the McCalls website, and then painted in the colors in Photoshop to see how it would look. I've also done this by printing out the page and just drawing with colored pencils or sharpie pens. You would be amazed at how much of an idea you can get on a tech drawing once you add some color and pattern.
I will show some more examples of this next time I do a Random Threads post.

coat color test 2

Here's a nice look at the jacket so you can see how it compares to my color sketch. Not bad for getting the idea.

Front angle view blue 2side jacket

But before I got to that point there were a few hurdles. Like making a test version just to see if I liked the shape. To tell the truth this jacket has two features I am not really a fan of, those being no collar and cropped length. But I am trying to sew new shapes and silhouettes so I figured I would give it a try. With my precious precious fabric!

Warning! Do not laugh at my hideous test garment which used up scraps and quilting cotton. Hey at least it gave me the idea of how the various elements would look, and the fit was spot on.

test muslin for wool jacket

Onward to cutting out where it turned into quite the sewing puzzle, in that it was a bit confusing to keep straight which side I wanted as the right side for each section. So I put the image in my photos and referred often as I was stitching it up.


This fabric quality is Gorgeous with a capital G. The type of wool that sews like a dream. You can see the dots on one side (they are really little squares are made by the intersection of the lines on the other side.

Pattern changes: I knew I wanted the overall jacket to be longer than designed. The pattern version is very short, at least for me, probably landing about 1 to 2 inches below my waist. I added about 1" to the center sections, and then added also at the hemline. I lengthen the bottom section of the sleeve to be a regular long sleeve instead of a mid-wrist length.


This photo I took to show how much shaping there is in the jacket, what looks like a boxy front has a noticeable curve which becomes sort of a bust dart, or at least bust shaping. In the last Garment Copy class I taught one of the students had a top with this feature, and it was striped which helpfully showed us how much shaping was incorporated in what looked like rectangular pieces.

Next obsession on this journey - pattern matching.

IMG_3547 I set aside the remaining fabric as I decided to cut out the front bands later, once I sewed up the front and then I could match the lines precisely.


Sewing satisfaction! Actually the dots lined up as well because the other side is the lines which aligns with the bands when I pinned it together to sew.

Interfacing info.


I never look at the pattern instructions when it comes to interfacing but do my own thing. Which usually means more interfacing. On this one I put weft fusible around the neckline, and the top of the sleeves. the front bands have the medium weight Sheer Elegance interfacing on the outer  band and then more on the inner side which you can see in the next picture.


I put interfacing on the top of the band as well as on the lining fabric which is sewn to the neckline, as I think it needs some oomph to make a structured neckline and sharp corners at the top.
I attached the lining by machine stitching at the neckline and down the front edges, but then did the sleeve hem and bottom hem by hand. Because I'm not a fan of bagging the lining - even though in this jacket it would have been fine. Prefer the control of hand stitching the lining and it seems just as quick to me.

More sewing satisfaction :)  so happy with how the sleeve pattern lined up with the jacket body.

blue wool 2side sleeve plaid

And yes, I did add a vertical dart in the back. It might take away a bit from the style, but I thought it looked terrible on me without any shaping. Stuck out in a weird and boxy way so I just added vertical darts.

Back blue wool 2side jacket

It looks a little loose in the back but that is the dress form (who has very upright posture!) when worn it conforms better to the shape of my back.

blue silk blouse with jacket lining

blue wool 2side with blouse

I showed those pictures previously - here or in Instagram but I am repeating as the outfit is complete! Here's the link to the silk blouse post. And I think next winter I will wear the jacket with blouse and bow. It's such a beautiful color.

front blue 2-side on form

I have enough fabric remaining to make a skirt but that might just be too much! although I held up the dot side to the jacket and it looked quite good. Maybe a mini skirt worn with boots and a turtleneck? A project for the fall when wool wearing weather returns.

blue wool jacket front view

Now I'm striding onward to the next project 😀.

Which this weekend is two days of classes at Hello Stitch Studio, on Sat. we have the Bondi dress, and on Sunday our Pattern Fitting and Adjustment class (I think the Fit Lab portion might be full - but there is space in the classroom session, and we repeat this class regularly so check back).

I recently indulged in the ruffle trend so I have a summer silk top to share, and a dress with a strategically placed opening which is far cuter than I expected. Plus a Random Threads soon.

Happy almost summer sewing,

Today's garden photo, a pink snapdragon with some purple-blue pansies in the background.



Friday, May 25, 2018

Bondi dress from Tessuti patterns

How could I resist a dress named after a beach? When it comes to nature a sunny ocean beach is my favorite spot. Plus this dress is a great summer basic, I love the shaping of the neckline and shoulders and it works in so many fabrics.

Bondi dress 1

We were looking for a versatile pattern to use at Hello Stitch Studio for a dressmaking class and Stacey, one of the owners saw this pattern and loved it. Which was great as we were planning to make one in each size!

I think this dress is really versatile. With a little pattern hacking you could change up the neckline (I made one sample with a V-neck) and yesterday I sewed a tie belt which works with this lightweight rayon fabric.

Bondi dress wth belt 2

Sewing and pattern details: I used a woven rayon fabric that I had in my stash. I must have bought it at some kind of tag sale - maybe at the local ASG stash sale that they have 2 times per year. It had a piece of paper pinned onto it that said 45" wide 3 yards and was serged on the cut ends. Nice when I find a remnant that is ready for the pre-shrinking like that. Irresistible as it is a sort of tropical floral in my favorite colors. Super soft and great drape as well, which I think works nicely for this pattern.

Here's the line drawing for the Bondi dress pattern which is from Tessuti Fabrics in Australia.

Bondi dress line drawing

This is the first Tessuti pattern that I have sewn. They are a great choice for beginners or any level as they are mostly simple shapes that show off the fabrics, not a lot of fitting and I found the instructions to be very good.
For our class the pattern is included when you register, you will receive the PDF of the pattern and the instructions to keep, but perhaps the best part - you don't have to print it out because it is already done at the studio! So you can trace out your size. How do you know which size? Because between myself and the studio owners, we have sewn a Bondi dress in each size so you can try them on, figure out which size to make and trace away :) Here's a link to the next session of the class (Sat. June 2) . If it is full then I believe we are scheduling it again before the summer is too far gone.

bondi dress pattern pieces

The pattern pieces are on sturdy tagboard and they have large tracing paper at the studio so this might be the easiest tracing project ever. Which was not ready when I made a couple of the sizes 🙁 so I had to trace for myself. On the positive side - we had the patterns printed at PDF Plotting which was great, super fast service, and quite economical, especially if you have multiple patterns printed in one order. Although recently someone told me about a copy shop here in my town that is equally good and local - so instant gratification! Now if I could just drop off my Burda magazine sheets for them to trace out I would be a happy girl!!

Bondi dress front on form

I made a size 10, and the neckline etc. was just right. I took it in just about 1/2" on each size above the bust dart as the armhole was a bit gaping on me, but otherwise no adjustment. I was thinking of making the size 12 for me but last weekend I tried on the various ones at the studio and realized the 10 would be better. So a win for the try-on system.

Here are a couple of the samples at the studio. Left, size 8, made as pattern indicates, and on the right, in a soft linen from Stone Mountain, the size 14 with the neckline changed to a V-neck and the shoulder edge brought out to a more standard sleeveless dress placement. (also on that one I did an all-in-one facing instead of a bias binding, so that's an option as well.)

Bondi dress examples

Closer look at the neckline on my dress. I love this back yoke detail and the simple closure. Time to confess - I don't make the bias loop for the button - I sew a piece of 1/8" elastic as a loop. So much easier!

Bondi closeup front and back on form

More true confessions - I do make sewing mistakes, usually one per project and on this one I sewed the pockets on backwards, i.e. with the wrong side of the fabric facing outwards. The pocket design on this dress is clever so that you have a stitched on pocket on the front of the dress but that means you need to have the right side of the fabric on the wrong side of the front inside. Makes no difference in the green linen version above as both sides of the fabric are the same but in a print...

Pocket mistake Bondi dress

Late night sewing fail. Oh well, unstitched and did it the right way.

Bondi dress pocket closeup

Bondi dress belt on form

For the tie I just cut up some remnants and stitched together to make a long tie, about 1" wide. Didn't really pay attention to the length, and found that it goes around my waist twice with room to tie which works well in this soft fabric. I think in a linen it wouldn't work as well with a waist tie. This look reminds me of the Sway dress from Papercut Patterns which I have always liked.

Bondi dress back view

Back view. Just FYI, for a bra I tried one that I have where the straps can be changed to an X in the back and it worked perfectly. Although there is probably a peek of strap at the opening in the center back yoke. Which I think is better than the straps sticking out at the shoulders (ugh that makes me crazy to see that).

So that's the latest on my Bondi dress. Pattern love!

Bondi dress with belt 4

After these pictures were taken I looked at the thermometer on the patio and it said 59℉. Yep, it was a bit brisk for a sundress. The weather is weird, people. But you know that. In any case, we are supposed to have a nice warm up this long weekend, which is Memorial Day, so a bit of sewing, some garden work, a sewing student tomorrow, a plant sale on Sunday, plus dinner reservations and a holiday get-together. I had better step away from my laptop and get moving!

Upcoming classes at Hello Stitch Studio: 
Sat. June 2:       Bondi dress class mentioned above
Sat. June 12:     Sewing Pattern Alteration and Fit Lab
Thurs. June 14:  How to read a sewing pattern 6-9pm. *I love to do this class - and it's not just for beginners  - it's a great way to discuss sewing patterns, find out about what makes a pattern good/not good, how to match the right fabrics to a pattern, how to choose your size and all kinds of other details before you sew a stitch. (p.s. this one is post-workday so I think we will include a happy hour element to the class 🍷
Sat. June 16:     Pencil skirt  (two session class)
Sat. June 16:     Sewing with Knits, Basic T-shirt
Sat. July 14:     Pants clinic: Diagnose your fit issues.
Tues. July 17:   Button front shirt class (two session) any shirt pattern
Sun. July 22:    Copy your favorite garment.  (we just did this one last weekend and it was So Much Fun! and a few people emailed that they couldn't make that date so here's another session)

and one more that's not on the website but will be soon:  Pattern Hacks, (Sat. July 28) where I will show how to use the patterns you already have and create new necklines, add or move darts, change sleeves, mix and match two different patterns and generally have fun with hacking up your existing patterns.

Happy Weekend Sewing,

for today's garden photo - May means rose season, as you can see in the photos above, most of my rose bushes are blooming like mad. Which is lovely and means I have an abundance both outside and in the house. We have to enjoy them now because they get a bit tired in the August heat, particularly that yellow one. But today's rose is one that blooms all summer long, and might be 30 years old? no idea as it was here way before me. I would love to know which variety it is. I think maybe Mr. Lincoln. (for you rosarians, I think it is a hybrid tea, canes are about 3-4 feet long and then stems grow anywhere from 2-5 feet long, and puts out either single flowers or a cluster on the stem. I probably have that nomenclature all wrong but you can get the idea. Also it has a lovely rose fragrance and the blooms last at least 2 weeks often longer).


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Tropical shift dress - my Akris knockoff

Do you like to do a bit of comparison shopping? Looking at the seriously expensive designer clothes to see what fabrics they use, to check out interesting and unusual details of pockets, zippers and trim? Like most of us who are interested clothes and fashion I look at a few websites for inspiration but don't really spend much time doing that. So my pinterest boards are not really full of ideas - very occasionally I put something there - mostly sewing patterns and once in a while a dress or sewing idea. But maybe two or three times a year I go into the Nieman Marcus or Nordstrom store in my local town and practically paw the designer garments. Despite being in suburbia they have a large selection and I especially like to see tailored pieces and interesting dresses and jackets or coats. A few weeks ago I saw a dress where I really liked the shape but the fabric didn't appeal.

And that is the beauty of sewing your own clothes, you can take ideas and inspiration from things you see all over but make something in the fabric or color you want. Or you can make your own version at a fraction of the cost.  I saw a dress from Akris Punto for $ 1390 (I erroneously referred to it as Prada on my IG but it was Akris) and decided to use that idea to make my own version.

blue ruffle dress front view

Here is the inspiration dress that I saw in the store. I thought it was silk, but looking at the website today I see that it's a rayon blend. For a mere $ 1390!

Tropical shift dress papaya

Maybe I'm smiling because my version cost me about $ 8. I bought this blue tropical print fabric upstairs at Stone Mountain, so it was $ 3.50 per yard? I think around that and I bought 2 yards not really knowing what I would use it for, but flowers and palm trees on a bright blue background. You know I couldn't pass that up, especially at that price. It's a cotton poplin with a touch of lycra so it has just the right amount of body for this dress and the hem ruffle.

Blue dress with ruffle1 (1)

blue ruffle dress neckline

Closer look at the fabric. For this dress I used my TNT pattern, something I have been using for a very long time. As I purchased this pattern when it was new.

Which I know because it has the stamp on it from New York Fabrics, a store that used to be around when I was a teenager. And spent many happy hours there after I got my driver's license and could go on my own on a weekend to shop without having to beg one of my parents to take me there. Also the patterns used to come in a 3 size range instead of the multi-size of today with perhaps 6 sizes or even all the sizes in one envelope.

Vogue 7769 pattern envelope - favorite pattern

I have used this pattern as is, modified it for other things, used just the top half as a bodice, used the neckline shape as a template, used the armhole shape as my ideal,  and added/changed the darts as needed for various styles. I have had more than my money's worth out of this one and it is the only pattern in my stash that is copied onto thick paper and hangs in the closet ready for repeated use. Shall I mention the pattern publication date? It's.......1990. Yes I was surprised to see that. So I've been using this pattern for 28 years. I wonder if anyone can top this? not just a pattern that you have kept for a long time - but a pattern that you have been using for this long. Somehow I bet Carolyn (of Handmade by Carolyn blog) or Tany (of Couture et Tricot blog) might have something that is still in current rotation.

blue ruffle dress back view

Back view, looking a bit wrinkly on the form. Although this dress was perfect on vacation, that bit of lycra in cotton fabrics is so nice - the wrinkles are minimal and fall out on the hanger.

blue dress with ruffle2 (1)

And here I'm standing in front of one of my favorite stores in Hawaii. This is one where I do tend to pin a lot of their looks, Tori Richard. This is kind of my ideal clothing range, beachy, vibrant colors and tropical prints. Plus recently I have bought a few of their fabrics so I am really happy to have found them. (Listed as famous Hawaiian designer fabric, hint hint). My previous post dress is one of their fabrics - I think.

Sewing details - I made an all-in-one neckline and armhole facing for this dress, similar to what I did on this dress. Although no lining, not really needed. And cut it out about 2" above my knee length, then played around with ruffle depth and amount, just improvised until I liked how the ruffle looked.
I had a few random compliments from strangers as I was walking around which is always nice, so this dress/fabric combo must be a winner.

Why is this girl smiling? Could it be the tropical drinks? quite likely. Could it be the incredible re-use of a perfect TNT pattern? probably. Could it be the bargain fabric find? Definitely. Or just the Aloha spirit. Yes to all of those options.

Blue ruffle dress in bar 3

And now home from vacation and back to real life. Until the next time.

Some spots still available in my Fitting Class: Adjust the Bust this Thursday 2-5pm at Hello Stitch Studio in Berkeley. This Thursday's class is part of the Maker Faire Bay Area celebration, so if you sign up for the class their monthly Sewing Clothes Support Group session from 6-9pm is included. I'm going to stay for that and be available to answer general sewing and fitting questions so bring all kinds of projects to share, discuss and get some progress made. And have a bit of happy hour fun with some fellow stitch fanatics :)

On Saturday we have the Copy your Favorite Garment class which is one of my favorite things to do and to teach. I show a variety of methods in this class so you can learn which one is best for different  garment styles. How about recreating a favorite pair of pants? I think this is where learning this technique really pays off - I copied a pair of jeans and now I'm turning that into my TNT pants and jeans pattern.  The class is Sat. May 19, 10am - 3pm. The class is half demo/lecture and then after that I will help you with making the pattern from your own garment that you have brought.

From 4-6pm that same day (Sat. May 19) is my Zipper Confidence class, so if you have been struggling with zippers register here.

Note that all the classes at Hello Stitch come with an extra hour of studio time so you could use that to cut out things on their large tables or perhaps hem a bunch of knits on their coverstitch machine. And a 20% discount coupon for Stone Mountain is included when you register.

Upcoming schedule:
Sat. June 2:  Sew the Bondi dress from Tessuti patterns  - register here. I'm just about to make another one for myself in a print. This pattern is such a perfect summer dress with great pockets and lots of options for personalization or pattern hacking.

register here for any of these classes or to get more info.
Sun June 3: Sewing Pattern Alteration - Tissue Fitting and Fit lab. register here.
Sat. June 16 and 23: Pencil Skirt
Sat. June 16: Sewing with Knits - Basic T-shirt
Sat. June 23: Garment sewing - Easy Tank top
Sat. July 14: Pants Clinic - Diagnose your fit issues - Pant pattern fitting

Also in June and July we will have a couple of weekday evening classes which are not listed on the website yet but will be soon. If you're in the bay area and interested in a class but can't make it to what is scheduled or have something else in mind please email me and let me know. We're flexible and want to do classes that will work out for your schedule.

Now back to what's on my sewing table - a few things that are in progress and so many great summer fabrics piled up in my spare bedroom which I want to sew up and wear Right Now!

Happy May Sewing, 

Today's garden photo - this is the time of year when there are so many to choose from. And who doesn't like that. I think May is my very best garden month, or maybe June. We shall see next month. 

But for now it's all about the roses!


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