Friday, January 8, 2021

Goodbye 2020 a quick review

For the last week or so I have been trying to sit down and write a blog post with little success. It just seems odd to focus on a sewing roundup when my thoughts are so scattered. Like my blog name, my outlook is almost always sunny and positive but this last month has been tough. I would be happy with warm and sunny twelve months of the year so this season of late fall and the start of winter are certainly not my favorites, plus we here in N. California have been in some form of stay-at-home order and social distancing since March. Despite this things are quite dire in some parts of the state now. I have read several articles recently (like this one) that outlined how the SF bay area has actually had a relatively good response to the pandemic. 

I appreciate that and yet it means that we have been participating in a strict scenario with most schools closed, people working at home if possible, no parties, no gatherings, no funerals, no visiting family who happen to be in the hospital for whatever reason. It has been tough and the holidays were glum. I am thankful that my family and friends are all well but it seems interminable and at times I'm filled with rage at people who don't abide by health recommendations and thus continue to spread the virus. I guess all that justifies stepping away from posting here or on IG for a while. But a new year has arrived and we are all eager to turn the page. Although so far January has been more of the same dismal news, magnified by shocking events although the Senate race results in Georgia were a moment I celebrated, 

Now I will try to get back to blogging, and sewing some interesting things that keep me occupied during this weird time. I started a project back in November that has turned out to be taking me a long while. I thought it would be fun to make a blazer jacket in a traditional way, with pad stitched lapels and hand sewn pockets. It was fun and entertaining at first  - and then I realized how much I like using a mix of modern tailoring methods. Fusible interfacing forever! So this is my once every 20 years project. I will definitely do some blog posts about it as I've taken plenty of pictures. Here's a little sneak peek. 

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So what did I sew in 2020? Mostly stuff just for the fun of it, or things that caught my eye and I wanted to try as the months went by.   

Here's my top nine as compiled by Instagram. I don't like how they put the numbers in the corner of the images, that seems unnecessary and spoils the look of the grid. 

bestnine2020

Also I don't agree with those being in the top - they are missing two of my favorites. I was so suprised that two things I sewed that came out just to my liking weren't pictured there.

First up, something that I had in mind and it came out even better than I had imagined. My crazy speckled denim suit. Which I finished right as the summer heat started and I have not worn this once. 
You can be that when we are again out and about I will wear this at any opportunity. This one had three blog posts, so the first one is here  and then there are two more with further sewing details. 

Denim suit front view with sunglasses

The other one not appearing in my top nine grid yet making into my personal favorites is this red dress.
I used a lovely vintage-ish Vogue pattern, one of many DKNY designs I've had such good results with. Sometimes when I feel the need for some retail therapy I scroll through eBay looking for other Vogue Donna Karan patterns. There are so many I would love to make. 
Plus this photo reminds me that spring will be here soon and I need to get out and trim the roses this weekend if we're to have lovely blooms in April. Now if only we could get some more rain! So far this winter things are looking like another drought year which just one more thing to worry about. 
Here's the blog post link for this red dress, with some fitting details. 


Red sateen dress 2

That's a belated wrap on 2020 sewing. I've been quite busy lately as I've started doing live online sewing classes via Hello Stitch Studio and now in our third month they are really filling up. It's so gratifying to see everyone again, even if through a computer screen and I'm so impressed with the garments everyone is making. The classes are twice a week, Tuesdays are techniques, construction, how-to's and anything else I can fit into the format. Thursdays are kind of an office hour/happy hour combo, a time to ask questions, check in on how the garment is coming along, and chat with fellow sewing enthusiasts. Classes for the upcoming 3 months are being listed now so check back in the next few days on the Hello Stitch website under online classes.  This month's class has already started, we are making chore coats and a couple of very intrepid students are participating from the east coast and dealing with the 3 hour time change. What is time anyway now that we are mostly stuck at home? 😉
That being noted - we are adding some classes in the next months that start earlier so I will post about those soon.  

Up next on the blog, I will start 2021 with some detailed posts about constructing that tweed blazer shown above. And I've made the whole outfit, silk blouse complete with 70's oversize collar and the pleated trousers. 

Happy New Year and happy sewing. Wishing everyone wellness and everything positive for 2021.
Beth

I watched this guy flying around one day when out walking and he stopped to let me take this picture. I think it's a Gulf fritillary which is not a native Calif. species but has been colonizing here for quite a few decades. It was perfectly coordinated with the autumn leaves.

Butterfly

Friday, November 27, 2020

Patrones 402 Coat No.7 in Teal wool tweed

 While we may not have the autumn color display you see in other parts of the US here in N. California we certainly have plenty of leaves that fall. My street is lined with old sycamores so there are mountains of leaves as well as the beautiful but hazardous oaks - the one behind my house has acorns that are over 2" long and pointed, so I wouldn't want one to land on my head when I'm doing garden chores. I was joking with my sister that we could make crafty wreaths with the hundreds of acorns and a glue gun - however I will pass on that and stick to sewing. 

Making a new coat is not something my wardrobe has any need for - I have hardly worn the beautiful red coat I made last winter. If this was a normal year that would definitely be my holiday coat and be worn to many events, however this year there aren't any events to speak of. It will probably hibernate another year until holiday season 2021. Fingers crossed that things will be better then! In the meantime I selected this wool fabric from Minerva.com without any particular thing in mind, but I do keep buying the Patrones magazine on the app each month, so it seemed a good opportunity to try out one of their coats. They have SO many nice coat patterns. 

Teal coat 1

This project had mixed results. While I do like the color, I don't think the texture of the fabric was right for a coat, and also I have some issues with the pattern.  Here's a good look at the coat on the dress form. It's a loose fitting, raglan sleeve coat with a very straight cut, and 2 part raglan sleeves.


Teal coat front and back

I only had 2 yards which was just enough to make the coat but with scraps leftover I decided to make the under collar out of some faux suede which I recently found at the thrift store. The color match was luckily perfect so it added that little pop of color on the coat. I have about 2 yards of the faux suede so I am thinking of making a dress. As I've said previously, this year is all about sewing stuff just for the fun of it and if I get something interesting for my wardrobe when we return to regular life that's great. 

Teal coat 3

In these pictures I'm wearing a just completed pair of Ash jeans, also for variety I tried the boot cut version of that pattern. I always like a boot cut jean and these came out well, maybe a tad wide so I might narrow the flare just a bit. The fabric is a wide-wale stretch corduroy I bought at Joann's. It's really perfect for this pattern and after I finished these I went back and bought the same fabric in black. I think they had red as well so if I have a super coupon and find myself in there again I will buy it again. Although the thought of going in stores in December always fills me with dread - this year being extra in that area. I just was given a bunch of fabrics by two different people who were destashing so I have absolutely no excuse for buying any fabric at all! The exercise this week is trying to find good spots to stash it all. 

Back to this pattern, you can see both in the dress form picture as well as on my, the raglan sleeve doesn't fall quite right, it has some wrinkles in the inner arm, and feels like there might not be enough room at the top of the shoulder. This is odd for me to encounter as I almost never have issues with the width or room at the shoulder, if anything things are usually to big or too wide in that area. I think my experiments with Patrones sizing will have to continue. On this one I made a size 40 for the neck, shoulders etc and then graded out a bit towards the hemline to have room in the hip. I usually make a size 38 in Burda and after I made this I had some conversations with people who suggested that you should choose two sizes up from whatever number size you make in Burda. So I should try size 42 in Patrones if I use 38 in Burda. I will give another Patrones a try and make a test muslin of a 42 to see how that goes. 

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Here's the image from the Patrones App. Looking at the seaming on the raglan sleeve, I see that the horizontal seam is lower down on her bicep, so perhaps it is correct that I was just one size too small in my choice. This hasn't really deterred me from trying out other Patrones patterns, though. And I have muslined a couple of pants patterns which fit me almost perfectly so I seem to have found my pants pattern soulmate :) stay tuned. 


Teal pockets

As mentioned in a post earlier this summer, the magazine and instructions are entirely in Spanish however I haven't found that to be an obstacle. (note that I rarely look at any instructions so it doesn't matter the language). The patterns are marked very clearly so I didn't have any problem with the pocket placement, and I just did a wide single welt pocket as I would do on any item. Just for fun I faced the back of the pocket welt with the ultra suede. That stuff is quite easy to sew with and presses very well. 

Teal coat 7

Here's a better look at the fabric, which is an wool blend. (Minerva link) I thought it was a tad too thin for a coat, perhaps better suited to a blazer style jacket. I'm not accustomed to this type of tweedy fabric, which is not really one color or the other and realize I prefer a solid bold color instead of a blend of several colors. 


Teal coat 9


Teal coat 4

Circumstances being what they are shopping for just the right button is not really in the cards now, but I rummaged in one of my old cookie tins of oddball sewing supplies and found this covered button kit. Score!  Just the spot to use more of the ultra suede. That button came out perfectly on the first try, and I only needed two so I have 2 more available for future projects. 

Covered buttons


Teal coat buttons

I made bound buttonholes as I figured I wanted fairly large buttons and my machines only make about a 1.2" long buttonhole. This fabric was a bit unravelly so it was not fun but plenty of interfacing does the trick. One other detail, the sleeves were barely long enough so I didn't want to make too short by turning up a normal sleeve hem, so I put a facing of the faux suede there and gave it another color accent. 

Teal coat 6


Teal coat inside

That wild lining makes another appearance, I was given it by Hello Stitch as a remainder after a fabric swap and thought it was  hideous, however I've now used it twice and still have some for another project. (used it in the turquoise blue wool blazer last January).  

So that's the latest on my recent Patrones coat project. I think I will proceed more cautiously next time and work on the fit before I cut out.
Next week (Dec 1) we start our December Sewing Club class at Hello Stitch, and we are making the Toaster Sweater from Sew House Seven. A cozy pick for this time of year! Register on the Hello Stitch website. The class for January will be a Chore coat or jacket - I'm really excited to make one of these. You can choose any pattern you wish in that style.

Making now, doing some custom sewing for other people, and slowly working on a vintage Vogue designer pattern, a YSL blazer, blouse, and trousers from a '70's pattern. Here's a look on my IG page. I'm trying to save the details in an Instagram highlight as I go, since I'm doing it old-school, with pad stitching and horsehair canvas. Which I have not done in ages and forgot how time consuming that is!!

Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving and stay well!
Happy Sewing, Beth

Here's my ode to autumn, with that one lovely red tree in the background. 

Teal coat 8

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Last of the summer sewing: Burda 04/2020 #103 in cotton sateen

Talk about out of season - I am writing about this dress which I finished back in mid-September when the temperatures were still in the high 90's ℉. I never did have a chance to wear it. As with so much of my sewing this year it will go into my closet and hopefully see the light of day and social events in 2021. Even when I have gone places this year things were very casual - and wearing a pretty dress just didn't seem right. It's been a long year of social distance and now heading into winter we are trying to buckle down and do the right thing to get through it. While not going out to dinner, to parties, to meet ups, to the gym, to anything that you would put in the fun category (and even the not so fun - such as funerals or hospital visits) I think it has been worthwhile to keep the pandemic mostly at bay here in N. California. We have a high level of compliance with all the preventative measures and I'm grateful for that. Recently I saw this article discussing San Francisco's success relative to other cities and what the toll might have been had the same approach been taken all over.  In any case I appreciate our mild weather (for a multitude of reasons) so hopefully the outdoor coffee breaks and walks will continue this fall.  

Back to sewing - this dress is from the April 2020 BurdaStyle magazine. That issue was filled with things I want to sew. What is it about the April issue? always so many things I want to make. 

Blue poppy dress 6

I'm not sure I will get used to dress lengths getting longer again, because I'm not very tall I think a hem that is longer actually makes me look shorter - I think due to less leg showing. I actually hemmed this dress and then decided to make it an inch shorter. Plus when I traced it out I already shortened it by about 3 inches. It is long!  

Burda blue white dress 3

I love a square neckline and I have just about perfected the fit on Burda size 38, it fits me very well with just a few little adjustments. So if I do those adjustments on my tracings then I can sew it up just about as it. Sewing satisfaction :)  Although sometimes I do have to adjust the lengths, of straps or hems (see above: not tall)  

Burda blue dress 9


Here's the magazine image of the pattern. They also had the same dress as #104 with a straight skirt. You can see I changed the shoulder ties to plain straps, which is on the # 104. I thought the ties might be  just a bit too girly for me and also I didn't have any fabric to spare. Those full skirts do take up a lot of fabric. I wanted to make a matching fabric belt but again, no fabric scraps for that. 

Burda minerva sundress mag image


Back view, it has that pretty V-neckline in the back.

Burda blue white dress back



MInerva dress 1


These outdoor pictures were taken on a day in October when the air was finally clear - it was such a relief after the smoke filled months due to fires all over N. California. And keeping it real, here are some pictures of my glamorous fitting process. Sewing room mess and sneakers lending a fashion touch, haha. 

Burda blue dress fitting compositie

I made the front and back straps on the dress with a seam at the top which I could sew after trying on, to get the fit right at the upper bodice. A straight across front neckline has to fit fairly snugly and if the straps aren't right it will slouch a bit and not look good. 


Burda blue dress 7

I received this fabric from Minerva.com and it was perfect for a dress. It comes in two other color ways, this one is the turquoise. The description was cotton sateen with stretch but I think the stretch was very little - although perhaps just enough to make it less prone to wrinkles.




Blue poppy seated1

In keeping with the slightly retro silhouette of this dress and the pretty surroundings I decided on one very ladylike pose. 

So that's the latest on my last dress of summer 2020, ready for next year. The weather has turned chilly here (yes it does get into the 30's at night here in N.Cal) which I realize is not exactly arctic but cold for us. So I am sewing things that are more cozy. In fact our next online class in December via Hello Stitch Studio will be for the Toaster Sweater. I'm just about to make a sample garment or two. Doing these classes has been more fun than I expected - I think the getting together online to chat with fellow sewing enthusiasts is just what we all need right now. The class is structured so that Tues. evenings are instruction and garment specifics, and then the Thursday evening sessions every logs in to sew (or not) and chat, ask questions, vent about real life - whatever, it's a sewing happy hour 🍷.

Time for a twirl and then back to regular life. 

Burda dress 8

Happy Sewing and stay well,
Beth

Today's garden photo, taken a few weeks ago but yes, we still have some roses blooming. They don't know that autumn is here. Sometimes I still have roses at Christmas. We are supposed to get some rain tomorrow and oh I hope that happens. 

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Saturday, October 24, 2020

Random Threads #39: podcasts, jeans, and patterns that use a lot of fabric

To underscore what a strange year this is, I just checked and my last Random Threads post was way back in April. I like to do them every few months as I always have things jotted in my notebook to share here. So here are a few of the things that have caught my attention.

Let's start with things that are getting me through the "inside times" as I have seen it called. 

Do you listen to podcasts? Probably so and I listen to a LOT of them, they are such a good accompaniment to sewing, exercise, even gardening.   My new favorite is Fiber Nation, the topics are super interesting and the speaker's voice is extremely calming (something I prize in podcasts these days.) The tagline is Textiles, Craft and Culture so it will likely appeal if you love fabric and fibers.  A couple of other podcasts I like are History Extra from the BBC, and Shedunnit (topic is golden age mystery writers and books with a nice amount of 20th century society/culture included). I will give just about any podcast a try if it's about science, nature, history or sewing. (but my real favorite is How Did This Get Made, which discusses terribly movies in a raunch and hilarious way)


Fibernation


Are jeans over? I certainly hope not, however I've read that people are wearing jeans less and something stretchy much more. It will definitely be the winter of the sweatpant, or leggings or whatever is cozy and comfortable. With our weather here I almost never even put on jeans from June to September, and this year we are still in shorts weather as of Oct 20! And I rarely wear leggings except for exercise. So I'm actually looking forward to wearing some jeans again as our weather cools.  I like wearing them even if I'm spending the day at home, all those pockets are handy and I find them warmer than other pants. Plus I just made a new pair of Ash jeans in corduroy from my stash. For this version I tried the boot cut but I haven't hemmed them yet - I'll have to see how they look with boots or flat shoes before I commit. I bought this wide-wale stretch corduroy many months ago at Joann on a whim, and I like it so much I just bought the same fabric in black for another pair. 

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Size charts - who do they fit? That is an ongoing area of discussion in sewing internet-land. I think there are two issues in that question. The first issue is the size range - whether for a particular pattern it covers all ends of the size range. In particular for sizes above size 16 or 18. Certainly an overlooked portion of the fashion industry in both ready to wear and sewing. I think it's so smart to make patterns for as many sizes as possible.  But to my mind the second issue is the pattern fit. Even if based on the pattern details you are exactly the same as the measurements listed, the pattern may fit poorly and that is due to variations in body shape. I think a lot of people start sewing, and then get a few simple (both to fit and sew) items completed and them move on to items that have a more specific fit and get very discouraged when the aren't happy with the fit. I can only say that it's something that everyone has to deal with - rarely does something fit exactly in a particular size. I think it compares to going to the store and trying on clothes, you can try on 100 items in the same size but they won't all fit. Having taught sewing classes these last 3 years has made me very thoughtful about the process of learning to sew. It actually has so many facets, from choosing the right fabric, learning techniques, fit, using sewing tools and machines and working with a variety of fabric types. Learning to sew starts to add up financially as well, with machines, classes, tools, fabric and patterns as up front costs and then the possibility of sewing something that is not what you want to wear. On the good side, there are so many more possibilities to get help than there ever have been. If fit is giving you trouble I suggest reading all the posts by Gabby on the Sewcialists blog. She is a technical fashion designer and writes so well on all these issues. 

Are you making Zoom shirts?  I think I did on that last top I made.  Basically a shirt that looks good on your computer or phone video camera - that allows you to look put together while in a meeting but you know that under the desk you are wearing pajama shorts and fuzzy slippers :)  Last week I was speaking to my neighbor in the driveway, she had on makeup, a cute top and very pretty earrings, then some very casual shorts and house shoes. Suddenly she said "oh I have to go I have a video call in 2 minutes!" I suspect this scenario is playing out all over the country. Which has me looking through my stash for fabrics suitable for interesting tops. For my December video chat with the tax accountant do you think sequins might add a festive touch or be a bit much?

Do you read Threads magazine? I think if you are looking to level up in your sewing it's really helpful. I can say that I learn something from just about every issue. Even if it's some small little tool that I didn't know about, or a new method for something I am already familiar with, I think it packs a lot in each issue. I'm sure that sewing magazines (like a lot of specialty magazines) are an endangered species but I find they way they explain and use diagrams to illustrate concepts is really outstanding. My feeling on any time spent reading, watching video etc is if I have learned something new then it is totally worthwhile. I far prefer reading to watching videos  - we can all read an article in a few minutes in the time someone on YouTube tells you all about their channel and other extraneous (time wasting) chat. 
Anyway - if your family is asking what you want for Christmas this might be a good thing to put on the list. Like any magazine, in a single issue there are things that are not of interest at all to me but there is always something useful. Look at some of the articles on these covers, better fitting pants, better lining patterns, sleeve heads, invisible zippers, oh yeah baby talk to me 😉

Threads mag image


My current peeve - style have turned to looks that use A LOT of fabric. Like 4, 5, 6, and even 7 yards of fabric. That is a LOT of fabric to haul around on your body. Not to mention cutting out. The current winner might be this Vogue pattern V1723 that takes between 5 to 7 yards of 60" wide fabric. Granted it is described as "special occasion dress" but I think that special occasion looks like you are a member of the church choir. But there are so many patterns out now with full sleeves, ruffles, tiers etc and all these features take a lot of fabric. I guess my taste tends to a more streamlined or tailored style and I can only take so much of ruffles or tiers. Also dress and skirt lengths have really changed in the last while with hem lengths getting longer recently. Let's hope this is not an economic indicator as it has been claimed in the past - here's a good explanation of that theory and why it likely doesn't really apply now-or ever. 
The other thing that always comes to mind when women's clothing has a lot of fabric is that it's actually restrictive - or maybe even unsafe. Can you move fast when wearing 4 yards in a skirt? I have read too many articles about Victorian ladies whose skirts caught on fire or were caught in machinery. Not to mention the requirement in some societies to cover women's bodies. For me, I like to buy between 1 or 2 yards of most fabrics and being short I can make most things with that amount so it's also a question of cost - extra fabric required means extra cost no matter what size you are making. 

How do you feel about message or admonitions on sewing pattern instructions? I fall into the category of "just the facts, please".  Sewing along and following the instructions, and then you come across a line saying something like "Yay, you just completed a welt pocket, now relax with a cup of tea" or "you are a sewing superstar".  Are you kidding me? They seem a bit patronizing and perhaps more in place in a children's book although I think a lot of kids can identify the same type of condescension. Have you seen a cookbook with similar line - "oh you now finished chopping and sautéing those onions, have a glass of wine". Wait a minute - perhaps that's a given in cooking :)  Anyway - I just want very specific and detailed instructions with no extras. Spend the time and space in the instruction pages for better diagrams! So what do you think, these lines in sewing pattern instructions are encouraging or annoying? 

That's enough of my editorial comments for the day - the weather has turned chilly here (meaning temps in the 60's ℉. Yeah I know this is mild for my friends in places like Minnesota or Washington where snow is already falling. For us it means I can go outside and work in the garden without boiling since it was 92℉ just a couple of days ago. Now if only it would rain!!!! Please!!!

And I didn't even get to all the topics on my list, such as pattern companies that are better at marketing than pattern making, annoying ads on Wordpress blogs - why are the ads so gross? Speaking of weird, how about the random male IG followers, so often "military officers" or "doctors" who are surely bots. Why do they choose those identities? Not that I really want to know. And how about the ripoff of the Zadie jumpsuit pattern, which is a great pattern and was copied line for line as a RTW garment by an Australian mfg. Shameless! 

What I'm sewing now:  I am completely hooked on the Patrones app - it's like a mobile game for me in that in a spare minute I scroll through the issues I've purchased (basically all issues released since I downloaded the app). Each time I find more things I want to try. I've heard their coats and jackets are good and their recent fall issues are filled with highly desirable styles. I wrote a post earlier this summer about Patrones patterns (Spanish sewing pattern magazine and app) I'm starting with this one to further test and refine my size in these patterns, and to see how I like their styles.  The fabric is a wool from Minerva.com with an ultra suede under collar as I was down to shreds when I cut it out. Good news is that I have 2 yards of this teal ultra suede I found at a thrift store for $ 3 so I think a cute winter dress might be upcoming. I always wanted to make this dress again although there are other patterns I want to try, but it needs to be something suitable for the ultra suede. Will have to give that some thought. 


Patrones coat plus fabric


After that - I might start on my muslin for that vintage Vogue YSL jacket pattern.
This month I've been teaching a button front shirt class for Hello Stitch via Zoom in the evenings and it's been really fun, a good group so Tuesdays are for instruction and Thursdays are a sewing social hour. Next month is a more beginner-friendly class, elastic waist pants, and then in December we will sew the Toaster sweater (knits).  Classes can be found on the Hello Stitch website. 

So that's all for today's Random Threads - I'm interested to hear your thoughts on any of the topics I mentioned.  

Take care and stay well everybody,
Happy Sewing,
Beth

Today's garden photo - while my hydrangeas are looking kind of sad now, the long hot August and September doesn't do them any favors, the leaves look terrible plus the ash from fires blown over us these last two months has left them with a dusty coating that needs a good rainstorm to clean off. But this one has put out a couple of fresh blooms and I will take my garden joy where I can find it. 

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Sunday, October 11, 2020

Too much ruffle? Burda 110 from April 2018

Ok, here's the deal. Now I'm just making random things to pass the time. Yep, we are barely out of lockdown here in N. Calif so it's more than 6 months of work-at-home, not much socializing, no parties, classes or group meet ups. Yeah, it's getting very tiresome. On the plus side, this summer I discovered that I actually like swimming for exercise. Who knew? Growing up with a pool but not swimming competitively I always thought the the back and forth of swimming laps was boring. To me swimming was a means to all the other water activities I love, like snorkeling, scuba, surfing, etc. But this year with the gyms closed and the air filled with smoke the backyard pool seemed like a good option. I discovered you can really relax and let your mind drift to other things as you swim back and forth. Which means that now I'm a little crabby because swim season is just about over. The weather is cooling off (which is good after the scorcher of a summer we've had) but the pool is getting a bit too chilly. So I'm putting away my swimsuit until spring and figuring out other exercise options. 

While swimming I thought about what to sew next, and whether I wanted to plan some projects or just follow another whim. I have come up with something of a plan, but one last whimsical item snuck in and here it is.  This pattern intrigued me for these many months and I finally decided to give it a try.

purple print top 4

Perhaps this is the ultimate shirt for a Zoom call - lots of visual interest around the neckline. Maybe too much. I had serious doubts as I sewed it but once finished I think it's starting to appeal. But it feels VERY ruffle-y when worn.  

purple print top front 2

This fabric was given to me by a friend who was destashing - she gave me a bin of things and they have been a gold mine. Including the green wool I used for two different coats (tri-color coat and peacoat).
This fabric is a silk crepe de chine. I really love the cornflower blue shade and the print is nice - the only feature I don't care for is that weird yellowish flower but like the pattern it's starting to appeal as well.  

Here's the pattern drawing and the photo from the BurdaStyle website. It may not be noticeable but in their version they call for a contrast fabric, like eyelet or lace as the insert in the center front but I decided to use the same fabric.  The pattern is from the Burda April 2018 # 110.  One of these days I'm going to have to do a bit of analysis - I think I find the most patterns to make from the April issues followed by October (although I think this Oct. 2020 was a complete dud).

Burda 04-2018-110 image

Once you cut out all the pattern pieces it's time to play Burda pattern puzzle :) .  Actually there were a few small pieces that I had to look closely to see how they fit together. I should have followed my own advice of a few months ago when I posted about how to use Burda patterns and matched all the "join" numbers. 

Ruffle blouse pattern pieces

There are the pattern pieces laid out on my table, basically in the same relationship as they sew together. All that is missing are the ruffle pieces, and the button band.  You can see that it is a 2-piece raglan sleeve, and then a front and back inset piece (which look like facings) to create more seams where you insert the lower ruffle. 

purple print top1

This is looking at the center front, with button bands attached and ready to finish off the neckline with the band which extends into long ties.  The lower ruffle is caught in the raglan sleeve seam in the front. 

purple print top back 5


purple print top back ruffle

So much ruffle!  It feels very nice to wear but when I catch a glimpse in the mirror I feel like I'm channeling one of those Elizabethan portraits of the fancy people with their big neck ruffs.

purple print top 7

By the way - those are my Ash jeans, 3rd pair made in slightly metallic denim. My fav summer jeans although I don't think I put jeans on more than twice in the last 3 months. Too warm! I just finished another pair of flare leg Ash jeans in corduroy. With more Ash jeans to come, I'm sure!

Whether I will wear this top is an open question. I probably will wear it for a video call one of these days and see how it looks on screen. But this is just the type of pattern I do like to make, plenty of detail and a bit of a pattern puzzle. 
Now back to my sewing planning. As I said this summer was all over the place, but now I'm in the mood for a specific project. I've decided to go all in on this pattern which I picked up at a Bay Area Sewists Meetup sometime in the past year. It is a single size pattern, my size 12, which is probably why I picked it up. 

Despite looking like a fairly straightforward blazer and pants, it has 9 pages of instruction sheets, fully detailed tailoring steps and seems just the thing to pass the time once we jump ahead with our clocks and I will be spending even more time at home. Yves St. Laurent - tres chic right? I will try to make all 3 pieces and see how it goes. I have a couple of ideas for fabric - but the idea of a burgundy color jacket as the center one pictured is looking so good to me.  (I think I had some shoes just like that, in burgundy suede, alas long gone). So that's the tentative plan, and I will try to document and post as many details as I can along the way.  

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We have hit our stride with the Hello Stitch Sewing club, the Tuesday evening portion is instruction, videos I've made to illustrate specifics, and sewing techniques. Then the Thursday evening sessions are like office hours combined with happy hour, a time to hang out together, get questions answered, sew together and talk. I miss teaching in Berkeley but this really nice considering the constraints we are under - plus you don't have to be local to do the class. I think next month we will be sewing this pattern. 

purple print top 8

Now I have to dash - it's time to pick my last few oranges before some varmint gets them. And do a bit of shopping for the garden - it will be time to plant the tulip bulbs soon 🌷.

I hope everyone is staying well and like me you are thankful for any and all creative outlets we have.

Happy Sewing, Beth

Garden photo for the day, everything is fading and dry but the hydrangeas manage to look interesting even at the end of the summer. This one was bright pink back in May. 


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Saturday, September 26, 2020

Sewing...why? a few more summer tops

The title of this blog post kind of sums up my feelings lately. A whole lot of why. Like my fellow N. California quarantinos (just saw that nickname recently and I love it) we aren't doing much in terms of going out other than necessity or very limited socially distanced gatherings. So it's been a super weird summer but things are looking better. Last night I finished my first class for our Hello Stitch Sewing Club, and despite the limitations of distance learning it was fun and I hope useful. Like my in-person classes at Hello Stitch, I tend to sprinkle each session with extra tips on fitting or useful techniques for better results. The next class for October is a basic button-front shirt (you can use any pattern you have). I think shirts are a great garment for learning all kinds of techniques and a good project for someone who is familiar with the sewing machine and sewing simple items. 

However my end of summer sewing is not a button front shirt - wearing something with a collar and sleeves sounds stifling as we continue to have heat waves. I made three different tops using fabrics from my stash and two aren't my favorites but one will be repeated next summer. If I were playing baseball that would be a good batting average but this is sewing and I want everything to work out :)  

First up is this top from Burda, the June 2020 #114.  I saw my far away sewing pal Ellen show this and it had already intrigued me, so I sewed it up with the fabric remaining from my recent Cielo top. I don't think it is a success, but it's not bad and I'll keep it and see what I think next summer. It was really windy and tricky to photograph, you can see that the arms are open and flutter a bit. Maybe it's the neckline which I don't love, I will have to think of something else. 

Blue flutter sleeve voile top


Blue voile flutter sleeve top composite


Burda June 2020-114 tech drawing

Next up is something I like a lot more. This fabric was also in the stash, a remnant from a previous top shown here. 

Ruffle tank top red 2


Burda ruffle tank composite

I have seen a few versions online of this sewn up and I think I made the ruffle too narrow, most of the ones I've seen show the ruffle cascading a bit over the shoulder, which I think is a more interesting look. I will probably make this again next summer. it would be really nice in silk crepe de chine, which would give just the right drape. 
This top has my nemesis, which are ties that you have to make by sewing a tube and then turning right side out. 

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Honestly - this is one of my worst sewing skills. I almost never have success with this and often end up sewing it by folding, pressing and topstitching. I think this one worked because the fabric is so soft. 

Burda tank top tech drawing

Here's the image from the magazine. This is Burda June 2020 # 106. Super quick to sew. Can you believe this is the 4th item I have sewn from this issue?  The other ones were my blue jumpsuit and the less than successful tunic top.  There are a couple of other things in the issue I really like, but they will go on the back burner until next spring. 

Lastly I wanted to try the Lola top from Fibremood again, without the front ruffle. and so here it is. 

Pink lola top front and back

While I thought the first version with the front ruffle was too much, now I think this one is a little plain. Oh, just like Goldilocks - never satisfied.  Actually I think the front needs something, perhaps a keyhole or other feature to echo the back opening. (Which reminded me of this dress which I made last year and think would also make a good top version, another one for my endless "to-sew" list).


Lola top in pink voile

That's the latest for my stashbusting summer top sewing. I just started a pair of corduroy jeans ( ! ) and despite the forecast for 103℉ tomorrow there is a hint of autumn in the air so next season sewing will commence soon. 

It's been a weird six months and I'm starting to dread the coming winter, but I did find this series of posts very interesting and helpful. (which was shared widely and is also a newspaper article?). Autumn is my least favorite season, it gets colder, darker, the garden is tired and I just feel uninterested. Earlier in life I think this season is more interesting, with school starting, the fun of Halloween, fall sports, etc. but as an adult I just find it blah compared to the glory that is spring and summer. To each their own right? with many people proclaiming joy at the end of summer, to my dismay 😉.
So combine the end of summer with the sixth month of stay-at-home and it's getting very wearying. Plus the election looming, I just want to say wake me when it's over and we have a new president (please!). But enough whining, the air is clear, cross our fingers for no more new fires in N. Cal and we will get through it all. 

Ruffle tank top 1

Happy Sewing and stay well,
Beth

Today's garden photo, here is a mallow that I planted a few years ago, purchased at the local junior called horticultural department sale. It's now over 5 feet tall so a success. And scroll down to see my latest purchase at Costco which means my work is cut out for me when the weather cools down and the soil softens up. 

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