Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sewing Meetup in San Francisco - Gaultier Exhibit June 23

Since the last meetup was so much fun, let's do it again!  How about Sat. June 23?

A group of sewists met up in May to get acquainted with my sewing student Karen, of Did you Make That, and we had a great time.  Everyone agreed we should do it again soon. The Gaultier exhibit at the De Young Museum in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park is the perfect opportunity. 

This photo is from Karen's blog - she was able to squeeze in a visit to the exhibit and highly recommends it. (In fact she has only great things to say about San Francisco, it is nice to look at the city from someone else's viewpoint).

So who is in?  Last year was my first sewing/blogger meetup, to see the Balenciaga exhibit and we had a blast.  We met in the lobby, toured the exhibit and then headed to the cafe for a group lunch which lasted several hours. While I had previously commented on their blogs, I had not met in person two of my favorite bloggers, Shams of Communing with Fabric, and Jean of J.Kaori designs and now I can call them friends, both on line and in person. 

If you are a bit shy or wondering what you will talk about with some random people who sew that you have never met - here are a couple of links to blog posts that others have written about these events.  

Amy of Sew Well wrote about our wine bar meetup with Karen
So did Christine of What's Up Cupcake.
Shams wrote about our Balenciaga exhibit visit last year.

Let's plan to meet Saturday June 23 at 10:00 am, tour the exhibit and then take over the cafe for a group lunch.  If you have any questions or want to be added to my e-mail list for this event, send me an e-mail:  sunnygalstudio (at)

This is from our visit to the Balenciaga exhibit last year - it was getting late and we didn't catch everyone in the photo. 

Museum visit1

Hope to see you in June for the Gaultier exhibit!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Thank you for voting!

Can I call myself a winner if I took 2nd place?  I asked my family and they said win, place or show qualifies as winning. So thank you to all who voted for my Milly dress recreation at in the Ready-to-Wear contest. 

Ready to Wear (RTW) Contest

The winning entry by purple dot is a super cute recreation of a Jason Wu for Target dress. Which I would be also tempted to try if I didn't have a zillion other things on the to-do list.

I just did two posts on how I did the dress which I entered in the contest. To adapt a simple pattern to a color block dress, here are the links in case you would like to see how its done.
Here are the two versions I have made (so far).

Black color block dress front closeColor block blue dress bodice view

The most exciting part of this contest is the prize.   
$ 50.00 of Style Arc patterns !

I am looking for suggestions.  As you know if you look at this blog, I have PLENTY of dresses, lots of coats and jackets, but when it comes to casual wear I fall back on my extensive collection of jeans, shorts, denim skirts, beachwear and surfer-type T-shirts. Pathetic, right?

Some cute tops or casual shirts are in order. Perhaps a pair of pants.  If you have a Style Arc pattern idea that you think might fit in my wardrobe, let me know.

In the meantime, I need to take some photos of the V1287 Donna Karan dress which I wore to our SF sewing/blogging meetup 2 weeks ago.  I have mixed feelings on that one. 

I also have been taking photos of some items that are in my closet to show you, under the heading of "One Hit Wonders"     Know what I'm talking about?  Stay tuned :)

In a nod to color-blocking, here is one of the suprising tulips that made an appearance earlier this spring.  The tulips weren't a surprise - but the color variations were.
Happy weekend sewing, Beth

Red white tulip

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Color Blocking, Part 2 of how to adapt your own pattern

The previous post showed how I take an existing dress pattern and make new pattern pieces to create a color block look. Now it's time to do some sewing. I will show the sequence only on the back of the dress, but sewing the front is the same as the back. Easier, as there is no zipper to match there!
Before you do any sewing, some preliminary steps.

  1. Interface all the band pieces.  I didn't do this on my first test dress, and found it really needs it.  
  2. Mark all the dots on the pattern pieces. Matching the dots on the band and dress insures that the band pieces lay smoothly and the curves fit together properly.
  3. Stay stitch all the edges of the band pieces and the dress pieces. Since we are going to clip the curve, this is necessary, plus it keeps the band pieces from losing their shape.
OK, finally some sewing!

Step 1: Clip the curve on the band piece (the convex curve). 

Color Block part 2 step 1

Step 2: Pin the band to the dress piece, matching the dots. Stitch the seam.

Color Block Part 2 step 2

Step 3: Trim and clip the seam, press seam allowance toward the band. Now it's starting to take shape.

Color Block Part 2 Step 3

Step 4: Similar method for the upper band.  Clip the band (convex curve). Here it is shown on the fabric right side, so you can see how the dots match up (marked with tailor's tacks, yellow thread)
Color Block Part 2 Step 5

Step 5: Same as Steps 2 and 3 above, pin and stitch seam, then clip and press toward band.
Color Block Part 2 Step 6

To finish, use the same process for the front of the dress, doing the side bands first and then the neck band.  Of course if you have designed a different color block it may be different.  Another color block look that I like is horizontal bands of color and that is a little easier to work with. To do that, divide your pattern into separate pieces, add seam allowances and sew together.

And now we come to a slightly less fun part of this project, the zipper. For any zipper that bisects pattern pieces you want the lines to match up, but it is so much more noticeable with the color block layout. I was pretty happy with the result, although I didn't get it on the first try.  My method for this type of zipper is to just sew the top 5 inches or so on each side of the zipper, get that intersection point just right, and then proceed with sewing in the rest of the zipper. No need to rip out the whole thing if it is not right. Definitely another reason I don't use an invisible zipper foot.  To see how I do the invisible zipper with a regular zipper foot, check out this post

Color Block Part 2 Step 7
Normally on a dress like this I would apply the facings (which are matching bands with no interfacing) however I wanted to put the zipper in right then. Once the zipper is in then you can't pull through the shoulder seams.  Here is a look at the facing.  I used the regular facing for the dress.

Color Block Part 2 Step 8
So here is the finished dress, side view and front view. That is another spot where the seam has to match, under the arm where the bands meet again. For a simple dress there are lot of little details to consider!

Color Block Side ViewColor block blue dress bodice view

Anyone interested in trying to adapt their TNT pattern with this style of color-blocking?
It's a great way to get more mileage out of a great fitting pattern with a whole new look.

Here is the previous post, on how to make the pattern pieces.

Here is today's garden photo, not really matching but a very nice spring color, gladioli in front of the pink jasmine. 

Pink gladioli

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Color Blocking, How to Adapt your own Pattern

A few readers have asked me to explain how I made the color blocked dress shown in a earlier post, so here is a look at how I adapt an existing pattern to create it. The great thing about adapting a pattern that you have previously sewn is you know how it will fit, the shape of the neckline, etc. so those variables are put aside and you can focus on designing the color blocking.

Color block blue dress bodice viewMy dress in black and turquoise was a bit of a dry run because I had a request to make a dress like this in shades of teal/turquoise.  I just completed it the other day, and took lots of photos during the patternmaking process, so here is the teal blue version.  My details below will show you how to do this style, with a contrast color band around the neck and armhole, but you can do just the neckline or change the width of the bands quite easily.  Lots of possibilities.

So here we go, and excuse the photography, I did edit the images as much as possible so you can see the details.  I will show the steps to make the pattern, and then my next post will give some sewing details.  I have only photographed the back pattern pieces, but the process is the same for the front and back.  I suggest using a very simple sheath dress pattern that has a nice fitting neckline.  This teal dress and my first version are in rayon-blend ponte knits, which are perfect for this and a good choice for testing this out.

Step 1:  Trace your pattern piece. Mark the straight of grain lines. Here I am just working with the upper part of the dress back, and then I will overlay it on the pattern when I cut out. I suggest you use the waistline on the pattern, draw that line horizontally across the pattern and then use the top part you create and the skirt portion of the dress.  Does that make sense?

Color Block dress step 1
Step 2: Draw in your seam allowances.  I find this is really helpful so I can visualize the width of the bands when it is finished.
Color Block dress step 2

Step 3:  Draw in the bands.  For this style, do the neckline band first, and then the armhole bands. I decided on 2" wide for the bands, it seemed to create the correct proportion.  If you can see on my notes, I adjusted the neckline band to be a smidge wider, 2 1/4 inches, as I didn't want it to end too close to the shoulder seam.  Draw in the straight of grain lines on the 2 band pieces (parallel to the original straight of grain line)
Color Block dress step 3

Step 4: Draw in the modified dress back, shown outlined in green. In this step,you are drawing the seam allowances, so the back dress piece will be stitched on the black pencil line, and cut out using the green line.  At this time I also make some marking dots, which really help when matching the pieces for stitching.

Color Block dress step 4

Step 4: Draw in the shapes for the bands.  Neckline band is shown in red, and side band is shown in turquoise.  So now it looks more like pattern pieces, you can see where they will match and be stitched together.

ColorBlockdress all 3 sections

Step 5: Trace off the separate pattern pieces.  Here I am tracing the neck band. Be sure an mark the dots.

Color Block dress step 6

Step 6:  Trace the remaining pattern pieces.  I find it helpful to trace in the colors I used to design the pieces.  Colored pencils are my new favorite sewing tool :) Be sure to trace your straight of grain lines on the band pieces.

Color Block dress step 7

Step 7:  Double check your pattern pieces.  I overlay them on my Step 4 tracing paper to verify that they fit and match. Here they are side-by-side so you can see the finished pattern pieces.

Color Block dress step 8

Step 8:  Repeat for dress front.   

Give it a try!   Next post I will show the steps for sewing.

And for this dress in shades of blue, a photo of something new in my garden, Delphinium.
I took this photo around 7pm, when the two tones of blue really pop.  It almost doesn't look real, but the flower petals are both blue and purple. Maybe a new color block idea?


Monday, May 14, 2012

School's out

For this session, at least. Last week was a fun and exhausting week as I gave a week-long personalized sewing class to Karen from London. Yes, London, as in jolly old England. One morning in April I opened my e-mail to her very interesting query.  I had read her very popular blog, Did you make that? a few times, but it took me a minute to put the name with the blog. 

She had booked a one week couture sewing class in San Francisco, bought her air tickets, paid for the hotel and then received notice that the class was cancelled due to unforseen circumstances.  Her plans were to do the class and then rendevouz at the end of the week with her boyfriend to travel around California and beyond.  I know Karen will be doing posts when she returns home so I will not make a long story longer, but due to the magic of the internet she found me and my blog.  After a few e-mails back and forth, I said yes and we started talking about her project, what she wanted to learn and all the logistics.  

Everything worked out fantastically, we even started planning a sewing meetup for one evening that week and I waited to meet her. (Plus cleaned and reorganized my sewing space - what a good motivation.)  And worried a tiny bit about the whole thing.  What if we didn't click? had a personality clash? she didn't like my teaching style? I can laugh now but I did think about those things.  

Beth and Karen outside
Beth and Karen
True confession - so did she.  We had a good laugh when we both revealed that we had that little doubt in the back of our minds.  Not to worry - we had SO MUCH FUN!

Photo above, a moment of relaxation in my backyard after lunch.  Karen is smiling but perhaps she is thinking I am a tough taskmaster. I so wanted her to finish her project, and she got through most of as she put it "the difficult bits".

I won't post much on her project (I didn't really take any photos, too busy powering through all the steps) but here is a tiny sneak peek including her beautifully completed bound buttonholes, basted closed after you finish them, so they maintain their shape until the garment is finished.  You know I must have liked her :) since I let her use my lovely vintage Belding Corticelli silk thread in a nicely contrasting orange . . . note to self, I need to haunt yard sales this summer and find more of those spools, a shame it is no longer made.

Sneak peek Karen project
What did we cover in her week long session?  Here are a few things:
  • Pattern fitting, in particular vintage patterns with those crazy darts
  • Timesaving methods for pinning and cutting out
  • Marking, both carbon tracing and thread tailor's tacks
  • Silk organza underlining
  • Darts - sewing and pressing
  • Fusible interfacing - a lifesaver
  • hand stitches - how and where to use
  • Bound buttonholes
  • Trimming seam allowances
  • Collar and Lapels
Oh, yeah, we needed a beer on Friday night when we got through all that and more.
Here is Karen in the home stretch, doing some marking for her bound buttonholes:

Karen hand stitching

On Wednesday of this marathon sewing week we met up with lots of other bay area  sewists at a wine bar in downtown San Francisco.  This image is from Amy's blog, Sew Well. It was great to meet Amy and she said the sweetest things! That is me at the back near the wine bottles, wearing a new Vogue DK pattern, which I will post soon.  Several who attended have posted about the evening, including Shams, Communing with Fabric, who I met last year when we arranged a meetup at the Balenciaga exhibit. (note to Bay area readers - Gaultier exhibit meetup getting organized now)

Karen also wrote a great post about the meetup and her general instruction to all potential visitors to SF (her advice, in all caps - DO IT!)
Christine of What's Up Cupcake also wrote and has some super photos. 
I know I am missing a few links to others who wrote about the evening but the consensus was:  FUN, and when are we doing it again?  

Back to sewing, Thursday and Friday Karen and I really motored through her "difficult bits" and she got a lot accomplished. I can't wait to see her finished outfit and I am so happy that she contacted me to get this whole adventure started.  The weather cooperated here in N. California, the garden was blooming and we could sit outside for our lunch breaks to chat about non-sewing topics.  Did we run out of conversation? Not likely.  She answered all my questions about British phrases that I hear due to my excessive PBS viewing, and shared with me that the movie "Pretty in Pink" made her dream of life as an American teenager.

Karen brought me two adorable gifts, a Queen's Diamond Jubilee Tea towel, hilarious, and this super cute Liberty of London pincushion. See the red pins, those came with Karen when she brought her muslin, and now they are mingled with my white and yellow pins.  So I will think of her sewing away in London when I reach for a red pin. 

mouse pincushionTea towel

One last photo of my new and forever sewing pal Karen, which I took just before she left.  She is holding the first fragrant gardenia of the season and wearing her very sharp Burda blouse.  Now she is off to enjoy some non-sewing vacation fun.  

Happy Travels !
Karen with gardenia