Thursday, April 2, 2015

Random Threads #12: stuff in progress and how sewing lessons work

What, April already? So trite to say but this year is flying by. I am kind of flitting around in my sewing projects, nothing much planned and that is fine by me. It impresses me when people do a big seasonal planning of their sewing, or a wardrobe revamp, or deep analysis of what they want to have. Not me, I just sew up whatever strikes my fancy. Once in a while I decide I need something particular, like a dressy winter coat, or maybe an outfit for a certain occasion, but for the most part I just finish one project and look around to see what can come next.

What has come next was a pattern that I have had for a long time, I even recommended it in my Pattern Whisperer post for daytime and work dresses, which is New Look 6097. Sewn up by a lot of people to great success. I am still on the fence for my version, entirely due to fabric choice. About every two years I sew something using ITY knit and so far have never liked it. Must remember to skip the poly knits!  Is ITY knit always polyester? Seems like. I really love rayon jersey so I will stick with that for the future. Anyway - here are my version(s) of that New Look pattern. I started with long sleeves - decided that was a mistake, went for short, decided that looked dowdy, tried much shorter sleeves, still not working. Took off the sleeves and liked it better. The final version will have another change and I might get to that this weekend.

Mostly it is down to fabric choice - kind of a "what was I thinking" selection. Was on super sale at Joann's so cost about $ 12 - and I had that very nice matching belt already. I love the blues but it is just not doing it for me. Maybe when finished and it is a nice warm spring day I will like it :) Stay tuned.

blue ity dress with sleevesblue ity dress without sleeves

NL 6097 pattern rec

My friend Michelle had a birthday recently and I generally sew something for her. As mentioned before she is just about the same size as me so it is a "cut and sew" operation to make something for her. I decided that a floaty tunic top would be different as I have made knit dresses and a knit top previously.

Red tunic

I used the pattern I designed last summer when I made a tunic top for myself. Which I am very much looking forward to wearing again since the weather is warming - I only wore that once last year in Hawaii before autumn.
I had thought about putting a contrast fabric on the yoke but everything I tried looked odd, so I used the self fabric and added trim which is soutache braid (red) and bias tape turned into piping (white). Have you ever used that soutache braid before? It is really fun to work with, and I have to say kind of easy. It behaves well and steamed into place for curves or corners. I first used it when I made this vintage dress - also red! The fabric for this tunic top is a lovely cotton voile I found at Stone Mountain.
.Red tunic closeup

Sewing lessons - or more accurately sewing instruction. I get questions about my sewing "classes" so I thought I would just write a few words about what I do. It usually starts with someone emailing me after reading here and asking how it all works.
It starts with the individual and what they want in terms of sewing instruction. I don't teach a specific class, we just schedule a day or days and I teach whatever you want to learn.  Here are a few typical scenarios.

  • Fit a basic pattern. We would talk beforehand about fit issues, what might be previous issues with fit or what makes a good dress pattern. I suggest some basic dress or other patterns that we can choose from, we take measurements, look at the pattern, do some flat pattern fitting adjustments, cut out and sew up a muslin, adjust that muslin, then transfer the adjusted muslin back to the paper pattern. At this point we are usually exhausted :)  That is a full day usually, and at that point my suggestion is to for the student to make a second muslin at home to see how all the changes fit - usually quite well. This same process applies for anything else, like a jacket, shirt, skirt etc (but I confess not pants, just not my area). 
  • Technique: it can be anything from cutting out and marking a pattern to how to get a perfect lapel. I love the technical side of sewing but the majority of my students have be interested in fitting - no surprise there as it is something we all deal with. How and where to use all the different interfacings, and why. How to press and what tools are helpful. Zippers, buttonholes and my favorite: welt pockets. 
  • Pattern and fabric: Sometimes we have spent an hour analyzing patterns and discussing why certain patterns might be better for one figure or another, which patterns are good for various levels whether beginner, intermediate or advanced. Why certain patterns are more simple to fit and adjust than others. What about ease? is it a conspiracy put over by the pattern companies? Answer: no.  What size to start with? that is a good one and just like bras many people are starting with the wrong size. I love it when someone brings a bag of patterns and garments so I can see what has been going on in their sewing room and hopefully give some suggestions or ideas for their next projects. 
So those are some of the things I have covered in teaching sewing during these past few years. Plus lots of sewing talk - since we now are all connected via the sewing web and have all kind of friends in common - even though most of them we have never met in person! 

Up next, finish that dress, I completed a couple of cute t-shirts which I will show soon, including McCalls 7046 which I just might have to repeat in the sassy dress version.

Happy Easter and happy spring sewing, Beth

today's garden photo, one of the first tulips.

Pink tulip


  1. That is such a cute top for your friend Michelle. What a lovely generous friend you are :)

  2. Oh I love that floral print! It must be a really icky fabric to the touch for you to not like it. Love it with that shorter sleeve, too.

  3. I am one of those sewers who loves to plan and end up almost never finishing what I've planned since it is always more than I can get finished. Or something else strikes my fancy! I should take a page from your book and maybe not plan so much!
    I hate, hate hate polyester knits! I was persuaded by the chatter on how wonderful ITY knits are to buy some and make up a top. I bought a very nice quality piece, made up the top and hated wearing it. I found it cold and clammy in colder weather and way too warm in hot weather. Exacerbating the issue was the fact that I was going through menopause around that time. But, I still won't wear any of it. I'll stick to rayon or cotton knits, rayon being my favorite.

  4. Happy Easter! I love your dress, the colours are lovely. I don't like the belt with it much - seems a bit heavy?

  5. I like both versions, with sleeves and sleeveless! Very pretty!

  6. I am going ga-ga over that floral dress. I do hope it grows on you. It's a beauty!

  7. I personally like the sleeveless version and feel the dress is beautiful! However, I also understand what you mean with the floral print because I struggle with prints too! I've had this pattern in my stash for quite some time and have not made it yet. Maybe I will make it this year, I don't understand why I am tearing this pattern!

  8. … By the way I used to be one of those planning sewers and after many years of not completing all of my plans, that went away very quickly!

  9. I love both the pattern and your fabric. I'm very partial to those shades of blue and I really like the sleeveless version. I'm sure your friend will love her pretty top.

  10. I too love the dress you've made:-) but I agree it looks "lighter" sleeveless. Maybe removing the collar would "lighten" it another notch? Anyway, great dress and lovely top:-)