Friday, July 1, 2016

Random Threads # 22

Well, I guess eyelet and a gorgeous color are a popular combination based on the response to my last post.   Now I really want one of those tops for myself. I have some turquoise eyelet fabric although it doesn't have that cute scalloped edge as the royal blue fabric had. Plus do I need any more turquoise items in my wardrobe? That pattern is a winner and has become my starter pattern for a tunic type top.

Although that leads me into my first random threads topic - do you Sew With A Plan? Wardrobe Architect? What else is it called? Whatever it is I don't do it. In theory it is a good idea but I get way too caught up in some particular color or fabric that grabs me, or a pattern I want to try just for the sake of trying it. So a plan, rarely. Once in a while I do make something because I want it to function as a particular wardrobe piece, like a coat that works over a party dress, or a denim skirt with pockets that I know will be such a daily staple. But a plan - I don't know - seems like it would take a bit of the fun out of it. I guess for that same reason I don't sew everything - especially things like gym wear and swimsuits - just so much easier to buy them and then I can focus on stuff I enjoy making.

ModelistA Website - I don't know how I came across this site but I really like it. ( They post often and show a design and then an illustration of how the design is achieved via manipulation of a basic sloper.  It could be a jacket, a dress, knits, kids, etc. The notes are very short and also in Portuguese so I usually just look at the drawing and they are really informative.  Reading this post for some reason I decided to read the paragraph so put it into Google translate and it was very entertaining - I don't know if the text was written that way or garbled by the translation software, but here is part of their description of what was a simple 60's style shift dress: "Besides being a wild card play, the right dress is for any body type, it does not show any specific curve. A relief for the chicks is not it? After all, no one deserves to go without eating one chocolatinho just to wear a bandage dress. With a few tips you can create stylish looks for different occasions using the straight - cut dress"
Now I am wondering what I have been missing every day by not translating the text. And could not agree more about that style of dress, a relief for the chicks!

Clear Elastic: this is a product that baffles me. I see it used a lot, for stabilizing seams or necklines. I even bought some to have in my elastic stash. But I have never used it and also not come across any reason to. When I have had ready-to-wear clothes sometimes the clear elastic is kind of pokey and always just in a spot on the neckline where it irritates to the point where I actually extracted it from one t-shirt and resewed up the seams - achieving much improved comfort. So let me know if there is some secret use that I don't know about. Also - I don't construct garments with the serger so perhaps it will never get used in my sewing.

Pattern Whisperer: I am working on two different topics, summer skirts and then dresses to wear to summer events. Which I had better get moving on as summer is flying by already!
And since this post is lacking a photo so far, here is a sneak peek of a skirt I just finished for my friend Alice. Using this super cool denim eyelet fabric we found at Stone Mountain. And now I have enough remaining fabric to also make a skirt for myself. For this skirt I made a pattern via copying a older linen skirt she had from Banana Republic. Stay tuned for a post on copying - in this case it was fairly straightforward although the original was on the bias - as this one is.

denim eyelet skirt

Fabric not a favorite? Is there a fabric you don't like? Or actually the question I am thinking of: is there a fabric you just don't get? Like why is it so popular? this may be slightly heretical to say as I see it is extremely popular but the one fabric that I don't get is double gauze. To me it doesn't seem like garment fabric. Or maybe that explains the popularity? It seems a bit limp and lifeless. I have seen it recently in my favorite local fabric stores and while it is great that the inventory is so varied it just doesn't appeal to me. And here is another one, Liberty fabrics. They are nice but I don't see the value for the price. Or maybe I'm being silly as I do see the value in an extremely expensive Italian silk or wool. I guess it is just what type of sewing each person does and then what fits into your own expectation of cost vs. value.

History Podcasts. So what does that have to do with sewing? I listen to a LOT of podcasts (the other day I forgot my phone when I went to the gym and actually thought about going home to get it - but opted to do a workout without any aural entertainment - oh the suffering, ha ha). I heard a really great episode the other day on the history of fashion in France during WWII. It is the Stuff you Missed in History Podcast, they have done a number of their podcasts with a fashion related topic. That link goes to that subcategory. It was fascinating. They also have old episodes on the history of knitting, on Schiaparelli, the House of Worth, and Paul Poiret. Check it out if you like the intersection of history and fashion.  I also listen to the History Extra podcast from the BBC, and they have had some that include fashion info. Although a really interesting episode from a few months ago was about the history of red hair.

Angle of Darts. What does that mean? I didn't know how else to start this paragraph other than to straight out say it - there are some patterns where the angle of the bust darts looks so wrong to me. Mostly the angle is lacking - in that the bust dart is almost horizontal - going straight from the apex to the side seam. Am I the only one that thinks this looks weird? Like a children's drawing? Also I see on some patterns that it is too long, so the end is way too close to the center. My feeling is that the bust dart should kind of disappear from view if it is doing its job correctly.  I have definitely changed the angle of the dart if I think it looks too straight on. I think it creates a more flattering shape and line if it angles down toward the side seam. And don't think you have to leave the dart as is in a pattern - check where it lands on you and move it up or down, or make it shorter, or change the angle. This is another reason why I cut out 1 inch or even more on the side seam allowance, so you can play with the darts if needed and fit as you sew.

Swimsuit styles: I keep saying I will never make a swimsuit but this just might be the year. Mostly because two years ago I left my favorite swimsuit outside to dry after a swim over at my parent's house. Our lifetime habit was to drape them over a railing to dry, but for some reason we all stepped outside after changing and put our wet suits on a wooden bench which encircles a tree in the middle of the deck instead of on the railing over by the pool. And then the next morning my mom phoned and asked "did you really like that blue swimsuit you were wearing yesterday? Well that didn't sound good. As it happens some raccoons were making themselves at home below the wooden deck and they pulled a bunch of stuff under with them during the night, including some suits and beach towels. Most everything was recovered with a lot of effort but the top to my favorite swimsuit disappeared never to be seen again. I was so mad as it was a specific style I searched for and finally found in a shop in Hawaii. Today I was at Macy's and saw something similar but not quite, so the battle may be lost and I will get going with sewing one, or at least just a top. I am a mix and match swimsuit person, and forever a bikini wearer and have plenty of bottoms. Although they are not quite as bikini as they used to be :) One-piece swimsuits just feel strange to me, I think I have only worn a 1-piece for scuba diving or water skiing. In any case I had better get going on this project.

Vogue DKNY patterns: suppose it was inevitable but Vogue patterns is discontinuing and no longer selling the Donna Karan and DKNY patterns. They have had a good run and I would not be surprised if her patterns were consistently at the top of the sales chart in their designer line. I have made some great ones recently and going back many years - if I think of my first work wardrobe I remember sewing a DKNY blouse pattern many times. My all time favorite dress that I have sewed is this one, which is a DKNY pattern. I wonder if these patterns will go up in price on eBay etc. like some of the other designer patterns have. The styles were often so cleverly designed, both inside and out, and also the shapes while simple could be ultra-flattering, sophisticated and yet comfortable at the same time. That is quite an achievement.

Red DK dress front    V2470 DK pattern red dr

In other sewing news I am still working on this jacket and dress for my friend Heather. She is in no rush and we have had several runs of 100 - 105˚F temps in the last few weeks so sewing (or wearing a wool and boucle outfit is not on the top of anyone's priority list. And then there are the detours - such as the eyelet top, the Burda dress, a top for myself, a lot of writing for Craftsy posts and other distractions. But I plan to get it done this upcoming week - just because I am tired of looking at it :)

Happy weekend sewing, and a great 4th of July holiday to everyone celebrating in the US.
Long summer weekend! fireworks! barbecues! Pie making! Ok that last one might only be me.


today's garden photo - Shooting Star Hydrangea - this one was a tiny baby plant just a couple of years ago and now it is finally thriving. I love how the blooms look like fireworks and they move in the breeze.

flowers June 2016


  1. Hi Beth, firstly I love these random threads posts as they cover a lot of ground. I don't sew with a plan as 'shiny thing', I wish I could actually but I'm not focused enough. There is no fabric I don't like, well actually I avoid synthetics mostly (but I did just buy some this weekend), and I love Liberty fabrics but I could not justify the price. I find Japanese cottons are very similar in quality. I like the gauze but it's pretty expensive and it's also pretty unstable so I could use it only as a cool top fabric.
    Dart angles for the usual placed darts are sometimes so off the mark it's not funny. I like those Burda side darts.. although I haven't made one yet. I love the Donna Karan patterns and have quite a lot of them... including the one you have here. Some are already pretty expensive so I guess they'll go up.
    I love how you end with some photo of your garden flowers.

  2. I totally agree about darts - horizontal darts look horribly unflattering to my eye in most cases. I always move mine so they point up. Also I just got my first cut of double gauze from an "it" designer and I can't figure out what to make it into. It doesn't have enough drape for patterns that need it, and not enough structure for those that don't.

  3. Fabric i don't get - scuba - nasty thick polyester _ yuk!

    1. I made some leggings/pants out of scuba one winter and they are SO hot. I think they could only be worn on very cold North Eastern winter days. I see the attraction, but I don't think I'll be making anything else out of scuba.

    2. I bought some scuba fabric to make leggings out of but haven't made them yet...I'm in north Florida, so maybe I should reconsider!!

    3. Me either. Yuk I sweat just looking at it.

  4. That red Donna Karan dress you made is stunning. I also didn't comment on the blue eyelet top: beautiful. I hope I come across some eyelet like that when I visit NYC.

  5. Thank you for the link to the ModelistA site! I have links to a couple of blogs that did similar, but they seem to have stopped posting over the years.

    Darts - I have not been noticing the angle, I guess other things jump out at me when they are off, especially on finished garments - length, pointy, pointing to the wrong place, etc. On those occasions I get to actual sewing, I do move them to suit me. Not always successfully, but I do change them :-)

  6. Clear elastic - never worked for me so far. I have tried it on my sewing machine and on the serger. It has too much drag and it never looks great in the finished product. Do you need a Teflon foot? Love the blog.

  7. I've never sewn darts (or haven't yet), and I don't know what double-gauze is, but I recently read a blog where it was her favorite fabric to use for baby burp cloths. She backs them with cotton tea towels for the best softness and absorbency. She said to use quilting cotton if double gauze is too expensive, so there's that... Love the flowers! And the new skirt looks great...can't wait to read the post!

  8. I have so many comments, lol. How funny that raccoons stole your swimsuit? Funny, but not funny. I use clear elastic when I can find it in my sewing room. Only in knit surplice bodices and in shoulder seams. But, regular elastic works just as well for me. I also don't get Liberty. It's pretty enough. But, so expensive! And, I can't tell a Liberty print from any other fabric. I don't really sew with a plan. There are plenty of things I want to make and the best planning I can do is figure out what I want to sew next :-)

  9. I gasped and laughed at the swimsuit story - sorry. The idea of raccoons taking off with your top is crazy!

    I don't believe anyone who sews with scuba and says it's comfortable. I don't get Liberty either. It doesn't look particularly wearable--I mean I would make a button front shirt in a ditzy print but...meh. And I don't know why anyone would torture themselves with tissue knits.

    I use clear elastic only in the shoulder seams of knit maxi dresses. Which I don't make very often.

    I sometimes sew with a plan but usually just whatever I feel like at the time.

    And I'm super sad about Donna Karan / DKNY. I really like a lot of those patterns!

  10. I don't get Liberty fabric either; cutesy floral prints with an expensive price tag. No thanks. I feel the same about Vera Bradley bags.

    I will sew with a plan off & on. I always have so many ideas running through my head, I forget get started on any one thing. I find that if I make a list of things to make, I will actually make them. I am currently at the point where I need a new list. :)

    (That is so sad about the raccoons stealing your swimsuit!!)

  11. I also don't get the vast majority of Liberty prints but there have been one or two of the special editions I've loved.

    Clear elastic is something I occasionally use to attempt to rescue droopy necklines. I don't get the advice to sew it into shoulder seams on knit tops. I do it sometimes if I'm being fancy, but it doesn't seem to make a difference when I skip it. Perhaps it's because I store that sort of thing flat rather than on a hanger.

  12. The modelista website has an English option( top left). Looks very interesting- thanks!

  13. I don't get Liberty of London fabrics either. Mainly because I find the prints insipid. I started the Wardrobe Architect last year and quickly stopped. It was too much work. I prefer to sketch on my croquis if I want to try a new style. I like to pin up fabrics that I like together for each season and try and work through them, with room for adding inspiration pieces ie buyingnew fabric for. I do look and see what patterns I think will work with these fabrics, and I even make lists. Lists I rarely complete or sometimes even start but they get me thinking. Working from a list doesn't leave room for changing your mind or for making something that just calls to you.

  14. Lots of things to respond to I forgot I hate clear elastic. I don't get it and I have never been able to sew it on so that it works. I also have found that if it deteriorates if it sits for awhile so then it really doesn't work!
    That is a very strange and somewhat funny story about your swimsuit. Racoons only ever get in the garbage here.

  15. I think the Liberty fabrics are pretty, but not my thing. Too busy, too floral, too cutesy, too expensive. I definitely don't understand the idea of using scuba for clothing, but dare I say it, Ponte knits. I don't get the attraction. All I see in my head is Alfred Dunner clothing. Too old for me. I use clear elastic in the shoulder seams of my knits. I prefer cotton knits and it keeps the shoulders from hanging halfway down my arm after awhile. I have very narrow shoulders. Twill tape or selvedge works nearly just as well. I want to sew with a plan, but the furthest I ever get is maybe a couple of bottoms and tops that sort of go together. Bathing suits are easy to make. Sorry but laughing that the raccoons stole your top. :)

  16. So glad to read that someone else doesn't get along with clear elastic. I've tried (and tried, and tried), but somehow that stuff just doesn't behave for me. I was beginning to think that there's something wrong with me, and not the elastic. There are much better options for stabilizing seams, and there are so many other options for elastics.

  17. I don't get the cleat elastic obsession either. Sandra Betzina is a big fan. Why not use a little strip of selvedge?

  18. I do love and adore paisley fabrics, so that along with some of the crazier colour combinations are the Liberty fabrics that I love best. Being born in the Sixties and seeing my brothers wearing the cool paisley shirts to school, well I wanted some of my own. On the Liberty store website, they show the more unusual prints each season. My favorite pj pants are Liberty paisley, that I made over seven years ago.

    Clear elastic- I have used as a stabilizer in the past on shoulder seams of knit tops and dresses, especially rayon.

    There is one fabric that I do not care for- evil nasty poly double knits!! Living in the 'burbs of Houston as a tween, it was the fabric du jour and was so uncomfortable between the humidity and the heat. (Well that and living through the leisure suit craze/phase..)

    I have yet to make a bathing suit or even panties for myself. Those stinking raccoons, pilfering your favourite bathing suit. I do hope that you are able to find a wonderful replacement suit for yourself.

    Thanks for sharing the beautiful picture of your shooting star hydrangea!


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