Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Return to the Scene of the Crime - Farewell meetup for Amy

Is it possible to run out of things to talk about when a bunch of enthusiastic seamsters get together? Purely a rhetorical question because I can tell you the answer is never. This post's title refers to our meetup last year at the same wine bar. The evening was arranged by the wonderful Amy (you know her from her SewWell blog as well as the Mood Sewing Network). We first met just about a year ago when I had Karen who writes the Did you make that? blog as my sewing student for a week here in California. One of the highlights of that week was a meetup that Karen and I arranged at a wine bar in San Francisco, here is a link to Amy's post summarizing that fun night.
More get togethers followed but this was Amy's last meetup as a California resident. Career developments beckon so she and her husband are relocating to Seattle.  She arranged for all of us to meet at Britex after hours and we had a champagne toast to wish her well. Do you recognize that famous staircase leading to all kinds of lovely fabrics and extra special goodies on the upper floors?


It was great to see all these friends and meet some sewists who I have only seen on their blogs. Starting at the bottom of the photo is me, then to my left is Jilly of JillyBeJoyful and next to her  in the white/black coat is Jean of JKaori Sews. Behind in the lime green sweater is Kelly of Bennomusik, a new addition to our group, yeah! Next in the red jacket is Shams of Communing with Fabric. Going up the staircase on the next row are Rebecca (another new face!), Vanessa and then in the turquoise top is Elizabeth of e-bethknits. Right behind her is Laura Mae of Lilacs and Lace and yes, she was wearing one of her fantastic vintage style outfits. To her right in the gingham shirt is Erin of SeamstressErin. With the red scarf is Geanna of Britex, just behind her is Veronique of verte-adelie and then at the top of the staircase in the white sweater is Amy of SewWell and our leader for the evening.
After our champagne toast we walked over to the wine bar around the corner and settled in for some serious sewing chat. It does amaze me that we can go for four hours talking patterns, fabric, blogs, successes, frustrations, sewing books, photography and of course the Great British Sewing Bee.

Sometimes I laugh at myself because I make all kinds of outfits but once the garment is completed and the photo is taken I don't stop to do any more photography - in the wild, so to speak. To prove that I do wear these things I give you a look, at the best photo location for sewing fanatics in San Francisco. Just one door down from Britex, so if you are in the vicinity be sure to wear your me-mades and take the requisite theme photo!  Wearing the world's greatest skirt pattern V1247, blogged here, and the jacket is S2455, blogged here.  The top I am not yet sure about, it is a red rayon jersey cowl neck, NL6901 made with long sleeves, photo at the end of this post. 

Me at Union Square

I took one very crummy Iphone pic at the end of the evening but I just saw a post by Jilly  with more photos so jump over there to see more about this evening.

Britex meetup group at wine bar

I am sorry to see Amy leave the bay area but will look forward to keeping up with her on line. We had a great evening and I think a summer get-together is in the works for this group. If you are traveling to San Francisco and want to meet some fellow sewing fanatics let me know, as we are always ready to arrange a meetup.

Here is the top and the pattern photo for the New Look cowl top. Another blogger connection as I received this pattern in a giveaway and now I can't remember who sent it to me. too many patterns...

                                        NL6901 pattern envelopeNL6901 cowl neck top in red

By the way, Karen (Did you make that? mentioned above) is now a Fashion Blogger with the UK newspaper, the Guardian.  I am so proud !  Ok, nothing to do with me but it is fun to say it. Hey - come to think of it, maybe you should get in touch for some private sewing tutoring with me,  who knows where you will end up?

Happy sewing and I look forward to our next meetup

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Random Threads #3 and Possible new projects

New Projects:
Spring is here and my mind turns to summer dresses despite my best intentions to make anything but. During the recent sales I splurged on a few new Vogue patterns and during a bout of spring cleaning in the pattern file unearthed a few from last year that never made it to my sewing table. Here are the patterns I am considering.

V1353 has made it into the definite category and I have done my pattern alterations. I have a batik print fabric in navy/white with a vertical stripe that I have never figured out what to do with but this might do the trick. So I plan to cut this one out soon and then sew up as time permits. V1329 I ordered as it seems like a cool way to do color blocking however I think this will wait until winter. Don't you think it would look equally good with long sleeves?  Last year I started making V1241 by the same designer and could not get the fit right so I had no intention of trying anything by her again. Oh yeah, every once in a while there is a real stinker that does not make it onto the blog. Not often - but it does happen. It better not happen with my lovely batik from Hawaii.


More possibilities are these two. As long as I have been sewing Vogue designer patterns I have been making Anne Klein patterns, particularly for business wear. I wanted to try that dress on the left, V1327  and I have some dark rose pink wool crepe which might be the right fabric for that dress ($ 2 estate sale purchase). It also has possibilities as a top and would not be too difficult to adapt. The jacket is what caught my eye on the V1293 on the right, however I have taken it out of the envelope several times but never got to the cutting out stage. Something about the fit of the jacket in the shoulders keeps putting me off. Just me or does it look really tight on this very slim model? This one may go back in the pattern box.

Vogue AK patterns

Ok, here is one that would be pure indulgence, do I really need V1281 shown on the left? Not at all but it is so pretty and I am crazy for these Donna Karan drapy styles. I like the dark/light combo they are showing.  At the Pattern Review SF Weekend this was the one and only item I took at the free pattern giveaway. Perhaps this will be my birthday dress which gives me a few months to get it done.  As for V1250, I am making this tomorrow as a present for a friend. 


Last up in the dresses category is a Burda envelope pattern (oh I am branching out aren't I?) I saw this pattern in the little booklet which was on the counter in the notions department at Britex. I skimmed through while on the Bart train on my my way home and my eye kept returning to this one. I have two different fabrics that could work with this, one is a stripe which I rarely sew. I like stripes so why is that? Seems I have talked myself into it. hmmmm.  


So that is the dress plan for summer, those will be the fun and/or challenging personal projects I have in mind. I would like to make another short sleeve button front shirt, and some t-shirts are waiting to be cut out. Plus another pair of Short-lows (Sewaholic Thurlow shorts) and maybe some Thin-lows (slim pants version). 

Bay Area Meetup:
My friend Amy of the SewWell blog is moving to Seattle and she has scheduled a meetup next week in San Francisco. Here is the link to her blog post in case you haven't seen it and are able to join in.  She will be missed by her SF bay area friends but of course we will read about her sewing adventures in a new city and next time I am up to Seattle I will pester her for all the inside scoop on fabric shopping in the great northwest. 

Sewing Instruction:  
One technique I forgot to add to the list of options - reproducing a favorite garment. If you have something that fits well or you just love the shape but would like to have another version we can create a paper pattern from the existing garment (without taking it apart). I did a two blog post on this technique, links here and here.

This is just about the best time of year in the garden, everything is planted and just blooming like crazy. Well most everything is planted... except for the 5 new plants which I should not have bought at recent sale.  Best of all, the tomatoes are doing their thing and we should have some in July :) I hope.
Today's SunnyGal garden photo, where I decided this year to incorporate the tomato plants in with all the pretty flowers. So far they seem to like it.  This is a Lemon Boy yellow tomato, not ripe but getting there.  Yummmm.

Happy spring sewing with patterns new and old, 

tomato May13

Monday, May 6, 2013

Spring Coat from BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook

When I showed this coat to my family, the most frequent comment was something like "another coat?" But what they should have said is "another Burda?" because that is the notable point.  Ok, maybe I don't need another coat but I did have this large-ish piece of fabric remaining when I made this vintage McCalls pattern last year. This was a piece of fabric I found at my local thrift store that was already pre-fused with a very nice interfacing so it made it a dream to sew. 

Blue coat front

The pattern came from the BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook which I found in my local library. In fact I checked it out, came home and found the pattern sheet for the coat was missing. I had to go back to the library, find another copy (which did have the coat pattern) and then point out that the first copy was missing that pattern sheet.  It is great that my local library gets quite a few sewing books - mostly I find them by searching the on-line catalog and then requesting at my local branch. I am kind of torn about not buying the books but I like the library to know there is a demand for the genre. 
I made the pattern almost as designed with one change to make the sleeves smooth at the shoulder instead of gathered. The style is very sweet as is and the gathered sleeves looked a bit pre-teen to me. I also skipped the belt, while I like the look of coats with a belt when wearing they drive me crazy and I tend to leave them at home. 
BurdaStyle book white coat
I was a bit lazy when I traced out the pattern so I didn't even trace the lining pieces, just used the outer pieces to make the lining. I always figure that lining is just a guideline and when I make them I do little modifications for comfort and wearability. It suprises me that many patterns do not add a bit of ease to the lining pieces for outerwear and a center back pleat is a must. When I cut out the lining I add about 1.5 inches to the center back, whether on a fold or seamed, and then just sew the regular stitch line from the neckline down about 2 inches, then press the rest to create a pleat (see below right).

            Blu coat  lining pleatBlu coat lining pleat3

Do you like this lining? Which I found at an estate sale and knew it would be just right for something one day but never imagined this perfect :)
Blue coat lining
Another sneaky reason I don't use the lining pattern pieces is because so often coats have that round neckline facing piece and I prefer the lining fabric to go up the back as far as possible to meet the collar (since coat fabrics are so often itchy).  I kind of improvise and match the front and back lining at the shoulder seam. This works as I sew the linings in by hand most times. One small live and learn moment was that I could have added a bit more interfacing in the collar, it is a bit limp but perhaps just something I notice when wearing.

Blue coat lining at collar
I got these buttons at Stone Mountain fabrics in Berkeley but tragedy nearly struck when I was making the buttonholes as I have broken my cherished Singer buttonhole attachment. I do have 4 other ones but each one has some weird issue, wrong cams, screw missing etc. So they are like the proverbial car kept for parts. Luckily I was able to complete the buttonholes as it was way too late to put in bound buttonholes. Plus I had already decided early on that machine buttonholes would look better.
Blue coat buttons and pleats2
When I was cutting this coat out it was down to shreds of fabric remaining, and actually had to slim down the walking vent in the back.  To keep all its width I finished the edge with some satin lining found in my scrap bag which was a very close match and I like the peek of satin there in the vent. I did put some white weft fusible on the hem to give it some body, it really helps the hem hold its shape and resist crumpling. 
coat vent
Blue coat back

Here is me and my spring coat plus a garden photo all in one.  Rushing as it started to rain! Talk about unexpected but very welcome for the garden.

Happy sewing, Beth

Blue coat on me3