Saturday, November 5, 2016

Random Threads # 24

Thank you so much for all the nice comments on my green wool coat, both here and on Instagram. I really appreciate it and I'm glad that my posts are helpful. There were a few questions left for me about that so here are the answers.

First question asked by several people is about interfacing. For starters, I buy all my interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply, which you can find here. Their interfacings are great quality, they are mostly 60" wide which is a good value and just plain useful, and they have a variety of different weights and types for use with any fabric. For coats I use the Pro-Weft Fusible, either the Medium or the Light. For any blazer try the light - for a heavier fabric used for a coat then try the medium. For facings and upper collars I use the Pro-Sheer Elegance which also comes in different weights, and I use them all. They now have a "Couture" weight which is perfect in silk blouses. I also buy their silk organza and then the knit interfacings too.

So that's the scoop on which interfacings. As to where, my sewing motto is more interfacing. I put it on the coat/jacket front, under collar, upper collar, lapel facing, pockets, hems (as shown below). sleeve heads and then anywhere else just seems like it might need it. I also use interfacing to change the entire weight of the fabric, or stabilize a loosely woven fabric (as I did on this boucle outfit for my friend Heather).

inside hem green coat

Lastly on coats, Nancy K asked "does it really get cold enough there to wear this weight of coat?" Let me assure you, YES! However I must stipulate that I am a winter wimp. Meaning that when the temperature goes below 70˚F then I am freezing. Like super chilly all the time from October to March. Here's my typical winter outfit, say for going out to dinner at a restaurant or a friend's house. 1) silk knit camisole 2) cashmere sweater 3) wool blazer or jacket 4) coat on top of that 5) leather gloves and then jeans or other pants plus boots. You might think I was going to the Arctic but as I said I am a winter wimp. When I see women in the wintertime wearing ankle length pant and ballet flats with no socks I just shudder at the thought! Or friends who say oh I don't need a coat - I will just be running from the car to inside wherever they are going. Brr. Anyway - I like to have layers :) although usually I just take off the coat/gloves and then remain reasonable toasty. So back to our temperatures - I do think it gets cold here. OK not Minneapolis or Rochester NY cold but where I live the Jan average is 36˚/55˚ and we get plenty of nights below freezing.  Across the bay in SF it is more like 46˚/57˚ and it almost never goes below freezing there - thus the bay area microclimates at work. But if you have been to San Francisco in the summer you will know exactly how cold it can be when the fog is swirling and the wind is on the bay. Hey - I come from a family of weather obsessives and the bay area gives us plenty to talk about, with the temperature at one moment differing by 40˚F over a space of 20 or 30 miles. I wonder if that is the case in any other location?

Enough about weather - back to sewing.

Let's talk buttonholes. For my green coat I made bound buttonholes. In large part because the fabric is so thick and I actually can't get the coat front under the presser foot to make machine buttonholes. Although I do like the bound buttonholes on that one. But yesterday I posted an image of my Singer buttonhole attachment on Instagram for the #bpsewvember post: Up Close. And some people agreed - it does make the best buttonholes and others had never seen one of these before. This one came with my Singer 401 sewing machine - which I have been using since childhood. It is my sewing machine dream date - the one that never lets me down. Ok I am biased but if you have never sewn with one of these you don't know what you are missing. Anyway - since it is a straight-stitch-only machine it needs attachments to do the buttonholes (and zig zag but I never use that). They work with small cams that create the buttonhole shape, including the most perfect keyhole. Plus you can adjust the stitch width and go around more than once which gives you the very dense look on a buttonhole that is much more professional looking.

buttonhole attachmt

Ages ago I did a post about this attachment, and there is VIDEO! So if you want to see this buttonhole attachment in action check out this post. Video is in the middle of the post.

New topic, Pattern chat: What is up with all the poorly sewn samples where people are trying to sell their patterns? I think it is getting worse instead of better. As I have noted before - I am definitely not the target market for most indie patterns, the majority of which are targeted to new or developing sewers who are looking for extensive instructions along with the pattern. So with that stipulated - I would not be adverse to trying a pattern from a new company if I thought the style was cute, but wow, some of the examples are so bad! It makes me doubt their capability if they can't bother to properly press a garment before it is photographed. Also when it fits the model poorly, or the seams are puckered what does that show? That it is not a good pattern if they didn't even do it?

Speaking of patterns, lately I have been thinking about perceived value as regards to sewing patterns. Perceived value being the worth that a product or service has in the mind of the consumer. I always comment that I think a lot of indie patterns are very expensive - but perhaps that has to do with the fact that I don't perceive any value in the instructions, the booklet with diagrams, or even the packaging. This is probably entirely different from a beginning or newer stitcher, who can use this pattern to learn techniques along with making a garment. I like patterns with multiple views, like a Vogue or Simplicity pattern that includes multiple garments (for example a skirt-dress-jacket-top or 3 versions of a knit top). To me that is more valuable. I bought one Marfy pattern which was relatively expensive, I think around $ 20 when you include the shipping from Italy. It was just one dress style with no variations, no info on yardage requirements,  only the paper pattern pieces, no instructions. Here is my finished dress. After I sewed that I decided it had a high value to me - as there was no tracing involved, the pattern pieces are all cut out and labeled, they did have seam allowances, and fit together perfectly. Also the details in the design were outstanding, especially since it was a relatively simple pattern. So a high value to me and I would buy a Marfy pattern again.

What's next on my sewing table? I'm working on some posts for Craftsy, including one on how-to tips for quickly sewing a party dress. (you know the feeling, party invite +  irrational need for a new dress because nothing in your closet is just right = late night sewing).

Stop me before I make a cape. Why in the world would I make a cape? I dunno, it just looks cute. Plus  plaid - you know I love plaid. But I will restrain myself on this one.

New look cape

Along with that thought of following trends, I made this tie-neck silk blouse, as a test version for making it in a different fabric. I thought if it worked out I could wear this with my plum wool Burda shawl collar coat.  But I don't like it at all, on me. The neck tie just bugs and I probably would be totally uncomfortable wearing it. However I was happy with my pattern work, as I used my standard Simplicity button front shirt pattern and manipulated to create the changes in design.
The fabric is a stretch silk charmeuse so it feels really nice. Hmmm,  I might just do a giveaway on this one.

silk blouse with bow tie

That's all my random thoughts for today - and I didn't even get to all of them. Such as the Pantone colors for the upcoming seasons - mostly unappealing, why do I look at them? Exposed zippers - I never think they add anything to a design. Pop ups on sewing blogs pestering you to subscribe to their email list, oh, that drives me crazy.

That's enough ranting for now :)  It's a super sunny day and the garden cleanup chore list is calling my name.

Up next a silk blouse that was a total success and may be my favorite item sewn this year. Until then I hope all your sewing is successful!

Happy Daylight Savings Time sewing - what will you do with your extra hour tonight?

today's garden photo, these morning glories appear at the end of each summer entwining their way up the fence and clinging to the pink jasmine. I love how it looks illuminated from within.



  1. The cape! LOL I purchased that New Look pattern because I thought the cape was cute. I can't imagine what I would do with a cape, but how difficult can that be to sew. The top is cute too and it has darts! If I can find a plaid, I am totally making that cape in plaid. ;)

  2. No cape! I mean, true, they are very cute but they don't seem to be very practical... Although I must admit I would like to sew one someday in the far future.
    The green coat looks fantastic.I must confess I am thinking about using your post as a tutorial for my first coat ever.
    Being from Spain, I get lots of reasonably priced patterns with Burda and Patrones -the fabric is the challenge!. I get consistent results with their very sparse instructions even though I am a beginner. If I need help, I use Threats magazine or an old Singer sewing book. However, some indie patterns do seem to offer nice designs and good patterns (Megan Nielsen and Victory Patterns come to mind, but I haven't tried any of those yet)

  3. I agree completely on the indie patterns and the samples looking rather sad. I figure that if I, NOT an expert by any means, can see problems then what is going on that I can't see? I've been burned a few times, not ready to jump into more indie things right now.

    The green coat is fantastic! I've read about how wonderful that Singer buttonhole attachment is from one than one person, I'm surprised that the sewing machine companies haven't taken a clue from the design. I'd certainly pay for such a trusty buttonhole maker!

  4. Have you tried tying the bow at the bottom of the vee? I had a blouse that I wore that way and loved it. I've been thinking about making a replacement.

  5. Love your posts. All of them. You share so generously and entertain as well. Thank you!

  6. Make the cape!!! It'll be a fun outerwear piece. Do it!!

    That echoes my thoughts on the "value". I don't need hand holding to sew most of what I make. And what do I care if the packaging is "pretty"?! It's going in a drawer with the other patterns. I'm not going to gaze at the envelope with admiration.


    Mmmm stretch silk charmeuse sounds lovely for a blouse.

  7. I love the blouse. Do you think you would like it better if you removed the tie and replaced it with a facing or binding at the back neck?

  8. Ok, I rarely post, but I love your blog and your sewing. I don't care for indie patterns either and have noted that many are just as you said...modeled with wrinkles and not the best fit.
    I loathe not hate exposed zippers. That is one trend I can not accept.
    And I love my button hole maker on my older machine as well.
    Plaids drive me mad. I am not as good as I would like to be in that department and it amazes me at how many ready to wear garments are made the seams not matching. There is literally no way I could wear them.
    Again I love your blog and thanks for no pop ups!!!!!!!

  9. Capes..fine in plastic for visits to the hair salon or home dyeing but why would anyone wear a chunk of fabric with no arms in winter? We don't see capes being promoted in Spring or Summer when you might wear one over a sleeveless dress at church or in a drafty restaurant. Indie patterns...for the young and inexperienced and those who don't own an iron since pressing is the missing option. Valued patterns are the ones that get used so much they are tattered and torn and have to be replaced with new paper or ones like your Marfy that were absolutely delightful to sew and compliments followed. Using weft interfacing in the hems of jackets and coats makes the finish perfect and look expensive.It also gives the sewer something to attach the pinked hem edge to...beautiful!

  10. Thanks for additional info on interfacing. I have 2 winter coat (Montana is cold and I have a coat habit), projects pending as I've been ruminating about properly supporting the fabric with interfacing, without overdoing it. I even bought thinsulate and still trying to work out how to incorporate it, probably as an interlining.
    Oh, and.....NO on the cape!! Yikes!

  11. Yep, you do sound like a winter wimp, not that we live in a really cold climate most winters. My dd has been living in Austin Tx for the last 5 years and she is definitely a winter wimp these days. I live in a micro climate area here on Long Island. We are in Suffolk county on the south shore less than a mile from the bay. NYC will regularly be 5 to 10 degrees warmer than we are except when the summer wind comes in from the west or when the bay warms up. If I go into NYC in the winter I dress much more warmly!
    I have mixed feelings about Marfy. The designs always seem a little bit off to me as far as being stylish. I have been looking for a coat pattern but nothing there. I did find your coat pattern on Ebay and I think that I may buy it. It's a little more fitted than I want, but that's an easy fix and it has a fabulous collar and lapel.
    I think of capes as being incredibly awkward and cold. If you are driving in them your arms are exposed! I made my last coat with longer than my usual sleeves because I hate exposed arms when driving! How does one use a shoulder bag with them? Anyway, that's my reasoning for not ever making one.
    I do wish that you'd do another batch of interesting patterns. I still want to make that plus size Burda dress you made your friend. I have that magazine and bought really nice ponte for it. Maybe this year.

    1. I should add that winter NYC is colder than here in the winter by about the same amount it's warmer the rest of the year.

  12. I love your blog & ideas ! I laughed out loud about the cape. I have crocheted myself 3 ponchos in the last 2-3 years. I think they look darling , great colors etc. Then I try them on to wear our & say -What was I thinking ? I'm just not sure how to style them or wear without fiddling at them -LOL
    Thanks for a great blog !

  13. I have to thank you - your coat post gave me the push I needed to get my winter coat on the cutting table. Once started, the project will move forward. And it's nice to know that I'm not the only one who was constantly cold while living in California.

  14. Ciao Bella! Great information as usual.

  15. Thank you for all of the great information!! I really appreciate the tips on the coat interfacing as well as the buttonhole info. Wow,to think that when I bought my featherweight, it included the buttonhole attachment, too! I love your blog an seeing all of your great ideas! Thank you again for your inspiration!!

  16. Dear Beth,
    Your coat turned out wonderful and the color is amazing!
    I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your "insider secrets" details. It's so valuable! So many sewing blogs seem to have turned into fashion blogs with very little construction detail. I very much value the time and effort you put into your posts! Many thanks!