Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Still Summer here: V1247 skirt in white plus Lekala top

What is the most summery item? To me it is always something white. White shorts, a white eyelet dress, a crisp white top. I love white cotton clothes but haven't made anything in a while but this top just needed a white skirt. The top is a Lekala pattern I made earlier this year, This might be my best fitting t-shirt pattern. Interesting, huh? I need to try more of their tops.

Lekala top white skirt back

I came across a piece of white poplin in my remnant stash which was forgotten, but I must have saved it knowing it could be made into something. What else, the best skirt pattern ever? Vogue 1247. This is my third one (version one and version two) and I have an idea for a really great modification when the weather changes.
Recognize the fabric in this top? When I made another of my all-time favorite patterns (Vogue 1191 twist front dress) some substantial but oddly shaped bits remained, and I loved this fabric so much I couldn't throw these scraps away. In the back of my mind I was thinking I could make some kind of mixed fabric knit top - but probably not as that would entail finding something that actually coordinated. So another item that was scrunched away in the knit fabrics bin. I looked at it periodically when I was rummaging for something and the most recent time I had a brainwave - try the Lekala top. Sleeveless! With complete disregard for orientation. So some parts are cut lengthwise and some crosswise but it makes no difference really, with this 4-way stretch rayon knit.  When I ordered this it also came in a turquoise color version - so that is my fabric "one that got away" in the last few years. Always wished I had ordered that colorway as well. Because I need more turquoise items right, HAH.

coral Lekala tee frontcoral Lekala tee back

After I finished this skirt I found another white remnant which was a bit thicker and I am wishing I had used that instead. This one is fine - the only problem is that the pockets show through a LOT. I cut them down to only about 2 inches deep, which is fine but they still show a bit and look a little weird. I lined the skirt in a lightweight cotton. And it was just a teensy bit too short for my liking so I looked and looked for something I could edge the bottom to add a bit of length. White is really difficult to match. Or things just looked strange, too thin, or too stiff (tried ribbon, that was a fail). I took a tiny scrap of the white poplin to the store and found this trim that matched the white perfectly. Just enough to add an inch.

V1247 hem lace

Here's a look at the ghostly pockets and the waistband treatment. In fact the treatment is to leave off the waistband as I did on my red wool crepe version # 2 of this pattern.

V1247 white skirtV1247 white skirt zip
 I might have put a tiny strip of interfacing on the lining, and then just sew the lining as if it is a facing. Ta daa, a lined skirt. I find these waistband-less skirts sooooo comfy to wear and on me they stay in the right place, whereas a waistband skirt seems to migrate upwards. Probably my error in fitting.

The camera was misbehaving when all my vacation pics were taken, the all seem a bit overexposed. Or it was autofocusing on the greenery and not my sewing stuff.  See...needed that extra length, just looks OK not too mini.
Lekala top and white skirt front

The calendar says Fall but around here, i.e. here in my part of N. California it is still summer. Other than getting dark early but way too soon to put away the sleeveless tees and white skirts. Yeah for that!
And I hate to tell you but I still have a couple more summer items not yet blogged - though they are patterns that can apply for other seasons so there is that.

Based on lots of comments I am planning to do a post on good patterns for holiday dresses - patterns I think are interesting and easily adjusted for fit. Or that fit certain body types.

Just curious - has anyone taken any of the BurdaStyle webinars?  they have a lot and I am very curious about them, format, content etc. Interesting that I have not seen any reviews or feedback on sewing blogs (at least on the blogs I read - which is a lot!)

I have not purchased any supplies or fabric via the Craftsy website but noticed this one the other day:
Dawn to Dusk Knit Top Kit which is on sale now for $ 19.99  It includes one of my favorite knit top patterns New Look 6150, and 2 yards of rayon spandex blend with a choice of colors. Quite a good deal and particularly for those who mentioned in the comments on my pattern costs post that they couldn't get New Look patterns. Although with my sewing students last week I learned a lot about paying duty on items ordered from the US. Whew! it adds up.
By the way - I am not a Craftsy affiliate or get anything for mentioning. I just thought it was a good deal.  Here is the pattern and the tops that I made with it.

Pattern New Look 6150 Wrap top sweaterknitWrap top knit grey stripe frontAqua wrap top front

Yesterday I was out walking and saw Halloween decorations on some houses. It is not even October yet (or wasn't yesterday).  EEK!

Happy (still summer) sewing, Beth

Friday, September 26, 2014

Fitting can be Fun...Really!

Are you intrigued by this blog post title?  Well it can be fun if you have great sewing students like I have had here the last few weeks.
I was well-rested although still a bit on Hawaiian time when the very charming Lucia arrived from Amsterdam to spend a few days learning all about jacket construction.

Look at that smile! We had such a great time making what I will now think of as the jacket pattern for 2014.

Lucia sewing

What pattern?  This one, Vogue 8333. This is the second time I have helped a sewing student with the fit and construction. Previously with Seamstress Erin it was all about the fit, but Lucia arrived with a muslin that was about 85% there, and we just made a few more fit changes so she could cut out and start sewing.  Now that I have worked on this pattern twice - I think my copy will go in the pattern storage bin, I have thought about making it a few times but never quite got there. I will say it is definitely a tricky jacket to fit and I have so many other patterns that already are adjusted or just suit me more. But hey - this one is becoming a mini-specialty of mine. 

V8333 jacket pattern envelope

Lucia said she had been reading my blog and wanted to learn the methods I use combining fusible interfacing and tailoring techniques. She spent the better part of a week working on this jacket, from pattern marking to pressing, fusibles to lining tricks, and left with a jacket about 60% complete. I can't wait to see the finished garment photos! We also found time for a trip to Joann Fabrics as she was bemoaning the lack of availability in the Netherlands of products such as good linings, interfacings, patterns etc. She certainly gave a voice to so many comments that you all left on my post last month inquiring about the cost of patterns and other items outside the US.  As luck would have it (or just a typical day in the US) I had a ridiculous quantity of 50% off coupons AND Vogue patterns were on sale for $ 4.79 AND McCalls too. She went home with plenty of Ambiance lining to last for a good while as well as notions and Vogue patterns (although as we are all quite familiar, some of the patterns she wanted were not in the drawer, typical)
It was a good thing she made some space in her suitcase for all her bargains by giving me a lovely gift.  TULIP bulbs from the Netherlands !!!!   That was so nice of her.  I can't wait to plant them. 

bag of tulips

But I said Fitting was fun, right?  It is, if you have the pleasure of spending the week with Jennifer and Neroli, twin sisters who are globe-trotting Kiwis that arranged for their travel paths to cross in San Francisco.  Honestly, people from New Zealand amaze me, they must be the most well-traveled people on the planet. Jennifer on her way home from Europe and Neroli going on a bicycle trip in N. Calif after her sewing week with me. They had energy - they were determined to leave with all kinds of new fitting knowledge and some patterns tamed into submission - and we achieved those goals with PLENTY of comedy along the way. 
Serious construction mode was in full gear, so our hands were busy but that left lots of opportunity for discussion of patterns, fabrics, blogs, style, celebrity fashion, US culture and all the rest. I don't have any pictures to show you other than this one that I took when cleaning up the sewing studio.

fitting muslin patterns

This photo represents some of what we did. Fitted a muslin fitting shell and a princess seamed dress for Jennifer, and a darted bodice, a princess seam bodice and a blazer jacket for Neroli, plus a super rapid-fire version in Swedish tracing paper of the Kay Unger Vogue pattern on the last morning.  We went over fitting, interfacings, how to translate the fit adjustment from the muslin back to the pattern. After this week I can say that maybe the most important part of fitting is what pattern size you start with, and not to discourage anyone but it is very likely that you are starting with the wrong size. 

They were about 1-2 sizes smaller than me so I could have them try on all kinds of dress and jacket styles from my closet. Which was fun, hilarious and very enlightening. In my role as "Pattern Whisperer" I recommended princess seaming and they tried on muslins and finished objects from these patterns below. I think an empire waist is not as popular as a dress with a waist seam but it does look good on a lot of women and I actually think if you are petite (ok short) it can be somewhat elongating and/or a way to create emphasis and balance if you have a small bust.  

Amazing fit patterns


We ventured over to Berkeley one afternoon for a shopping session at Stone Mountain fabrics and then dinner at one of my fav restaurants (A Cote on College Ave). When we got to Stone Mountain I kind of showed them around every section, knits, silks, denims etc and thought they were not very impressed. Turns out they were just taking it all in, and then went into full fabricaholic mode. Let's just say that they will have some very cute knit dresses, t-shirts and be able to immediately start in with the patterns they have now fitted. 
I think Jennifer and Neroli will have a great advantage in fitting as they really paid attention to each other's fitting adjustments and issues, plus they get together periodically to sew. Sounds fun, doesn't it?  

I feel so fortunate to have the chance to meet these three wonderful women that are passionate sewers and really fun and interesting as well. They all had contacted me for sewing lessons quite a while ago and after we finalize the plans I always wonder...what will they be like?  Will we have things to talk about? But it always works out so much better than I could imagine. Not to get all sappy but I am really happy that one day in 2010 I decided to start this sewing blog, the connections and friendships that have resulted are amazing and rewarding. 

So that's what I have been up to. I still have a few more summer items to post that I sewed way back in July and happily wore on vacation. 

This is the time of year when so many people get geared up for fall sewing, and I tend to run out of steam. You know I love summer and when it comes to autumn, eh, I can take it or leave it. But I am currently testing a coat pattern (something I rarely do) so I think a new coat may appear before the end of the year. I did buy a yummy sweater knit when at Stone Mountain so I will be ready one evening for some fall sewing if the temperature gets chilly. Which I hope it doesn't - I am still wearing shorts (like the UPS delivery guys, although I can't go year round as they do :)  Time for some serious garden cleanup tomorrow...

Happy almost autumn sewing, Beth



Saturday, September 13, 2014

Tropical silk blouse refashion and pattern design how-to

It might seem like I have been raiding my mom's closet lately but not really. She had another item she was going to donate but I thought the fabric was beautiful so away it came with me. It was a dress that was really a top and wrap skirt. I converted the top to this little sleeveless tank as an example for a Craftsy post.


silk top2

The post for Craftsy is based on their class One Pattern Many Looks: Blouses. I thought it was a really useful and interesting class. The teacher is very clear and easy to follow the steps for the various tops she created.  I like the way that you use a basic shirt pattern (as opposed to a bodice sloper) to adapt to different tops so I have several others in the pipeline based on a basic Simplicity button front shirt pattern. You can use any basic shirt pattern so if you have one that already fits so you can use that. (Like the Archer shirt which so many have, or the Simplicity Amazing fit shirt pattern I used) Any darted front shirt pattern will work.

combined silk blouse 2
It looks like a simple top but there are some little details - the bust darts on the original shirt pattern are actually shifted to be shoulder gathers. If you are interested in all the details take a look at my post on Craftsy today. Lots of information on the pattern manipulation and more photos of the details.

There is a cowl neck blouse shown in the class, I am going to do that version using the leftover silk knit from this dress. It will be a perfect top to wear under blazer jackets. 

Coming up soon, a tunic top that I made from some very precious Milly fabric I ordered from Gorgeous Fabric. Precious as I ordered a very small amount on a whim and once it was in my hands it had to be a long-sleeve tunic top. As Tim Gunn says - I made it work.

Aloha and happy sewing, Beth

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Summer sundress with Marfy pattern repeat

Last summer I made my first Marfy pattern and while I really liked it, I thought I wouldn't use it again. Fast forward to this summer and I decided to make a very vibrant sundress for this year's birthday dress. I had a really cute semi-vintage pattern I had stalked on Etsy to finally get in my size, with a nice crisscross strap open back, but time got the better of me and I didn't have the chance to fiddle with the fit before leaving on vacation. So I remembered the Marfy pattern which I had adjusted to fit me (although it was not far off when I started) consequently that is what I used. Also I had a sundress of my mom's that she bought years ago in Hawaii which was a bit of an inspiration for the new one - which you will see if you scroll down further.
So here is this year's birthday sundress entry - and yes - same pattern as last year. Totally unplanned. I am now thinking I will use it again next year and see what I can to to make it look different.

Pink marfy dress front closer view

Totally Hawaiian style, and the fabric is cotton sateen in shades of pink and orange. Here is a closer look at the fabric and on the dress form. Once again my photos are not cooperating and the colors look kind of odd as compared to the real thing. The photo below shows the color most accurately.


pink marfy hem

A look at this year's model and the previous version side by side. In the pink version you can't see the bands across the top and I didn't put the diagonal pieces on the side as they wouldn't even show and are not necessary.

pink marfy front on formMarfy full front view 3

My mom periodically cleans out her closets and makes me take away stuff that I say "oh don't get rid of that - I really love it"  her reply is always, "well then, take it to your house!"  So now this green dress is stuck in one of my spare room closets but I wanted to show a couple of nice details.

Check out how the straps are formed from the continuous binding that goes around the front and side, meeting up in a double row at the strap and then attaching with buttons at the upper back. I think even simple summer clothes used to have pretty little details like this and fast fashion or whatever mass marketing has taken over the world has driven out the interesting details that used to be seen. Even on what I consider mid to high price range items in department stores there is a lot of sameness (just like in patterns as I mentioned a few weeks ago).

green dress frontgreen dress back

And a closer look at the bodice front and the adjustable straps attaching by button to the back bodice.


green dress bodicegreen dress back strap The ruffle at the bottom is a very Hawaiian style touch so I decided to add it to my pink dress. Other than that - a super quick dress to make as the fit was spot on. For once I had adjusted all my pattern pieces due to all that work on the muslin beforehand.

I have one other vintage Hawaiian dress from my mom to show you. I remember she had this one made at a little shop in Honolulu where she picked out the fabric and then came back the next day for the finished dress. I made this photo composite so you can see the front / back / and the matching jacket. Look at how they centered the crane motif in the center of the front and back and the small crane pattern that continues perfectly upward even when the little bolero jacket is worn. So pretty. Plus that is a seam down the center back - fantastic pattern matching for a simple polyester dress. I think it was made in the 70's.

crane composite
Another look at my Marfy sundress, front and back. 

Pink marfy dress front 1 copy pink marfy dress back

For once I am happy with the length on the first try - lately it seems I make things too long, see myself in a photo and decide it makes me look short so go back and hem again. No time for that this time so I just picked a spot and sewed on the ruffle. Used my old Singer with the ruffling foot - that is so handy.

I am just burning through some older stash fabrics this summer  - yay me! And lots more summer stuff to blog about. But there are some winter things on the horizon - a coat pattern coming my way and now I am motivated to use some wools that have been on the shelf for a while.

As for a garden photo - there are bananas growing in this garden, see if you can spot them in the first pic.
This has been a great relaxing vacation - which I really needed. Plus I am resting up in anticipation of second half of this month - lots of sewing students will be joining me soon for some serious jacket-making. Fun!

Happy September sewing, Beth


Saturday, September 6, 2014

McCall's 6513 knit top in turquoise Ikat with bonus skirt

This fabric has been on my shelf for maybe two years? Turns out having this blog is handy for remembering things, I did a quick search and see that I bought in in March of 2012 at Stone Mountain in Berkeley. So for the past three summers it has been saying "pick me, pick me!" and I finally did. I love this fabric, a super soft rayon knit that includes turquoise and white, one of my favorite color combos.

For these photos I was standing in the shade but it was very bright so perhaps the details are a bit lost. It is actually a top and a skirt: pattern repeat time again. The pattern is  McCall's 6513 which I have used previously here and here. Plus I had enough fabric to make a very simple pull-on elastic waist skirt,

McCalls 6513 Ikat top and skirt

I have found this to be a really good wrap top pattern although when I first made it I start out with my usual 12 and it was too large so had to cut it down considerably. At the time I didn't go back to adjust my pattern, darn it. So lots of basting and adjusting which is thankfully quite easy with a knit like this. Interestingly I start with 12 in most things which work out fine but in knits they are always too big so I am going to see what happens with a 10 as the starting point next time.

Originally I bought this fabric planning to make a dress but a top is way more useful. Like this, with my trusty black denim skirt (Simplicity 2152).

McCalls 6513 Ikat knit top with skirt2

OK, my hair is not red - what is going on in this picture? Also doing a rooster thing on top. Anyone else have crazy hair on vacation - and could not care less . . .that's my island attitude :)
But I do like this top with skirts, or shorts.

There was no planning in the pattern placement as I had barely enough fabric to squeeze out that skirt. Which I wanted to be slightly flared, not a circle skirt, but just not a straight skirt. I even had to use pieced together scraps to make the inside of the waistband. Which was good for an unintentionally zero-waste project! By happy accident (due to the width of the pattern piece and the print repeat) the back looks symmetrical which I like. Or at least doesn't bug by being off to one side.

McCalls 6513 Ikat knit outfit front on formMcCalls 6513 Ikat knit outfit back view on form

Here's the pattern for the top. I swear this winter I am going to make the other version, with the slightly higher draped neckline. In a smaller size to start. Although it is so similar to my favorite knit top, New Look 6150.


Mc6513 pattern

This was not my most beautiful sewing, but really, who looks closely at the hem of a print knit skirt - not me. Just a turn and stitch. But this image gives the best representation of the color. The dark is actually a navy blue but it looks like black so this top can do double duty with either. 

Ikat knit hem

Hurray for using a great fabric that has been sitting on my shelf for too long. I don't think I have bought anything since spring (when I bought the seersucker for my jacket). Plus when I was rummaging through the stash I found two wools (purchased at garage sales) which I had forgotten all about. Which are fantastic - so fall sewing has planned itself. 

But fall is NOT here yet - at least for me. 

Did I say fall - no I didn't but as you can see by my fooling around in this photo below I almost had to change before dinner so as not to be sopping wet. Actually it would have been a good laugh for everyone. 

McCalls 6513 Ikat top by pool

Let's hang on to summer for a few more weeks, can we?

Aloha, Beth
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