Thursday, September 24, 2015

Follow up: Frixon pens drawing result and some more Random thoughts

Who knew? Some of you really like my Random Threads posts. Thank you for letting me know that you don't mind periodically reading my sewing streams of consciousness :) And I realize they are a good spot to answer questions that come up in the comments for my regular sewing posts.

Speaking of my random thoughts - Thank you, Vogue patterns, from my wallet! (*) So yesterday I saw the new Winter/Holiday 2015 pattern release from Vogue and not one thing caught my eye. Nothing much that I would call original, some seriously droopy stuff (you know I like crisp and tailored so loose/oversize/droopy not my thing). Like this one, is that not a sparkly poncho? and this outfit is hideous although I will bet a big box of bobbins that someone will sew it up and make it look great.

(*) "Wallet"  - I thought about writing "pocketbook."  Is pocketbook another of those words like "frock" that have a specific geographic home range? or just an old-fashioned word that nobody uses anymore? But you see/hear it a lot in news stories.  Maybe it has become one of those storytelling words that only journalists use, evocative in that situation but not used in actual conversation. I digress...

Fortunately (or not - depending on my mood for the day) I have plenty of patterns in the stash so not planning to buy any this month. I did get this blazer pattern a while ago, and it is quite similar to one I made ages ago but some slight differences. Might be worth trying out.

Frixon Pens:  Here are the two names I have drawn for the marking pens. Please email me your shipping address.  My email:    sunnygalstudio (at) gmail (dot) com

Jen L   in New York
Marisa Rodriguez    in Spain

As I mentioned in my last post - I still have a few summer items unblogged so despite the unseasonality in our northern hemisphere I will post those soon. Although still in the 90's here so summer forever. Plus my last dress of summer which I have mixed feelings about. But ONWARD to fall. The other day I had a genius idea for a pattern mashup - using 2 Pauline Alice patterns. (OK genius only to me I am sure, ha ha). Anyway - that's all I will say for now but if it works out it will be so nice. 

Wow, there is a lot of food and cats/dogs on Instagram. I just posted a coat from a few years ago - stands the test of time and I still recommend the pattern. My daily favorite in my Instagram feed is this one:          So clever and entertaining.

Happy sewing, Beth

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Random Threads # 15 and a giveaway drawing

Thoughts! I have so many sewing related thoughts lately - really they are opinions. Perhaps it is the change of season which brings out new patterns, wardrobe discussions and planning, thus giving me lots to read, look at and discuss in my internal dialog. So time to let some of this out. Plus a drawing for a small but useful item to add to your sewing toolbox.

Let's start with some planning. I am starting to think it's time to do a purge - as you can imagine - I have a lot of clothes. Mostly sewn by me and I don't like to part with them. Thus I rarely think I need anything. But since sewing is my favorite pastime more things will be sewn and needing a space in the closet. In fall my mind turns to jackets (although it is supposed to be 100˚F here on Sunday so there is no rush :) This Burda jacket caught my eye, it is just different enough from anything I have to make it interesting to sew. Of course their example is shown in a shade I hate with a fiery passion. Hmmm fiery... how about a warm red color?  That might be nice for winter. The rounded shoulder shape is interesting (code word for possibly weird).  I might keep looking.

Burda Jacket Idea
Next topic: fabric or pattern, which causes the problem?  Ever sewn something that you knew just didn't work, but you couldn't figure out which was causing the issue. Was it the fabric or the pattern? Sometimes the pattern is just not right for you - and I will say that this is a case of learning about patterns and shapes on your body  As for creating a happy marriage of pattern and fabric:
  1. some people just have a knack for pairing up pattern+fabric (let's all agree we sorta hate them)
  2. trial and error, some expensive mistakes along the way = lessons learned and skill developed
  3. stubbornly choosing a fabric and sew it up with the pattern wanted at that minute whether it is right or not
If I could give some advice based on being a living embodiment of all the above points ( learning, luck, mistakes) that advice would be use your sense memory and squeeze the fabric. What? Ok, here goes. Sense memory - when you see a pattern you want to make, use your memory bank - review that type of garment and shape - think about nice version of the silhouette or garment you have seen previously and really concentrate on the good ones - then think about what fabric was used. Use your experience to think about why it was that a certain fabric gave you fits on a certain feature - it could be the bindings were impossible to make, or it didn't gather properly, the clipped corners raveled to bits, the pleats never pressed. Whatever it was you learned something from the experience and use that to choose the next combo of fabric and pattern. 
My second piece of advice was to squeeze the fabric. Yes I squeeze - scrunch - rumple - and otherwise always treat the fabric as the human body does once you wear it. Granted, I am not fond of wrinkles  - rarely sew with linen or something like that - but who wants to make a lovely wool coat or a well fitted dress and then dislike the rumpled result? Especially with wool - if you are going to make a coat or jacket, then you want it to look great for a long time. Some fabrics, and this is totally unrelated to price, just have less body, perhaps it is the fiber, or the weave, but if I don't like what I see on the scrunch test I won't buy it. If it bounces back, seems to have good recovery and yet have a good natural fiber feel, then I buy it. Same goes for silk, cotton, etc. I fold it up and see how I like the feel of several layers together. Something that looks good on the bolt can suddenly be very thick and stiff when folded back on itself, and you figure that a garment is made up of a lot of junctions that are 2, 3 or even 4 layers of fabric together. So scrunch away! I wonder if they think I'm a little nuts at Britex, I walk through the store and anything that catches my eye, I grab a fistful and scrunch. Even if it is $400/yard. Actually I bet plenty of people do it. Do you scrunch?

Most frequent recent question:  what is the fabric I use for knit linings? Every time I show a knit dress with a lining I am asked this question so today I took a pic of the bolt end. It is nothing magical, just a 100% polyester knit fabric that they have at Joann's. Which I never purchase without a 50% off coupon. Today's coupon was 60%! Score!  Anyway - it is shelved with the solid color knits or with the dance wear fabrics. It has a good drapey quality, doesn't stick to jersey or other knits, comes in all the basic colors. I use this color a lot, also black, white and I think they have navy blue. A knit dress with a full skirt or some of the complicated Vogue patterns with the twisty skirts get quite heavy and pull down the bodice so by using a lining it supports the skirt. Or often the knit fashion fabric is too sheer, as in this dress. Also the swimsuit lining can work, that is nylon/lycra so you can use that in a more body-con style and get a bit of a Spanx effect which can be helpful :)  example here.

Knit lining label

Next topic: It's a mystery to me. Some patterns. Like this one. Ok, not my taste.  And so many tee shirt patterns. Wow, there are a lot of knit shirt patterns. Do people try them all? That seems like an expensive way to get a tee shirt. I have a few favorites which are Jalie 2804 and 2005 (I still think the Jalie is the best value as you get the range of size from little girls through women's size in one pattern and 3 necklines). Burda 6990 envelope pattern sewn here. this one also has multiple neckline variations. And this year I made McCalls 7046, a dress and top which has a ruching on the sides but the neckline, shoulders and sleeves fit like a dream so I am thinking of using it as a plain t-shirt base.

Time for a giveaway: 
I am finding these Frixon pens invaluable - I love my Chalkoner markers and I use a regular lead pencil on a lot of things, but these Frixon pens are magic! They are erasable on paper, and on fabric they disappear with heat. So a quick press with the iron and they are gone. Perfect for marking tricky stitching lines, pattern markings etc. Although their benefit is also their downfall - as they disappear, poof! with the touch of the iron so you have to remember to stitch first and press second.

Pen markings using Frixon pen
anyway  - there is this crazy old-fashioned office supply store in Honolulu. The type of store that is long gone from most places. Although this is a giant warehouse. They sell individual pens. Like ANY pen you can think of. One at a time! and every type of notebook, school supply, post it, notepad, paper supply, ink, art stuff, office furniture, mechanical pencil, binder, clip, tape and on and on. Are you a sucker for office supplies? Are you alway seeking the perfect pen? I hate it when you want to buy pens and you have to buy a whole pack or a multi-color pack and it includes stupid colors you will never use, ok I am ranting but the wall of pens at Fisher is a dream. Plus you can try them. I think this store is like the "land that time forgot" because if you wander down the aisles you will see things that were probably discontinued 20 years ago, but they still have them on the shelf. Like those books where the receptionist used to write the messages, and it had a carbon copy, and perforations  to tear out the little notes? Stuff like that. I guess you want to know the name, it is Fisher Hawaii Office Product Warehouse, link here. In kind of a warehouse district, and no air conditioning. Like I said - time has forgotten this spot. It's like the anti-Staples.  Kind of like how Stone Mountain fabrics in Berkeley is the anti-Joann's. Ok more rambling.  On with the giveaway.

Let me know in the comments if you would like to be in the drawing for a set of these Frixon pens.
They are pink, blue and purple so good for various color fabrics. I will choose one name to ship to a US address and one to an international address so be sure and tell me what State or Country you are in. How about until next Wednesday Sept. 23? I will post next week Thurs. or Friday with the names so check back then and you can contact me with your address.

Pen giveaway

Last topic: Plumeria or frangipani?  that was a fun discussion in the comments recently when I showed this flowering tree. In Hawaii they are always called plumeria and often used in leis or worn in the hair. (I bet that happens everywhere they grow, so pretty and the fragrance is heavenly). So frangipani - I have heard that word but didn't know what it was. I think most of the world actually uses frangipani, and a quick look at Wikipedia shows that the plant is Genus: Plumeria. But the nicest thing I learned from that Wikipedia page is that in Persian the name is Yas or Yasmin and the Hawaiian name is Melia, those are both such pretty names for girls and now when I hear them I will think of the lovely flower.

Pink plumeria

So that was quite a random assortment in this Random Threads post, no?  In case you are wondering why I go to office supply stores on my vacation, my sister used to live in Honolulu for 10 years so she was the one that found that store. And appreciates a good pen selection, as one does. So for fun if any of our family is over there and in the neighborhood we stop in.

Up next, a few more things I sewed over the summer and then onward to autumn. Sigh. And a Vogue pattern I just sewed which seemed like a terrible mistake at 10pm but appeared far better in the light of day. That is a topic for a future random threads post - nighttime sewing nightmares.

I hope all your sewing is daytime dreamy!  

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Rainbow stripe knit dress: Lekala pattern and Girl Charlee fabric

Hello there. Or should I say Aloha? Another summer knit that made it into my suitcase for vacation.

Lekala stripe on me front

And a rainy overcast day which is not good for a beach day but works out for taking some photos. Speaking of the weather - this has been the hottest temps I have ever experienced in Hawaii. Global warming is real, people!

At least that's what the newscasters are talking about here. Wow, it was hot and no trade winds which is out of the ordinary. Plus 3 hurricanes passing by the islands with plenty of moisture and humidity. Coming from drought stricken California it was such a change. And everything is so green. I have forgotten what that looks like! Plenty of hurricane warnings but fortunately nice weather most days so all was good. And evening thunderstorms with lots of lightening. Dramatic. Lightening storms are actually quite rare in my home state so a bit exciting for us although not notable for many of you.

Back to sewing - I posted a sneak peak of this dress on Instagram during the #sewphotohop for Day 3: Colorful and a few people loved the fabric, even knowing that it was from Girl Charlee. (You all know your fabrics!).

As for the pattern, it is a Lekala pattern #4271. With a few adjustments  - of course. I was looking at my fabric and decided I wanted an easy pull over the head dress with a racerback. And didn't have any pattern in my file that matched that description. So instant download to the rescue. Using my measurements I ordered from Lekala and the fit was quite good. I really didn't make any changes at all. What I think works out really well with the Lekala and Bootstrap patterns is that you do give your height, so the proportions tend to be nearer to what I want. For example, the darts were in the right place, and the waist was also. Typically since I am shorter than the standard fit I have to adjust things in the vertical dimension but didn't here. Also that was good since I was working with a stripe and I didn't want to mess up the pattern matching.

Lekala 4271 tech drawing

Dress on form. In retrospect I wish I had changed the angle of the strap portion, it is just a bit too much like a tank top in the front, and I would have preferred a more cut in shoulder look. But oh well, not a big deal.

Lekala front stripe on form

Lekala back on form

Another change you can see in the back view on the technical drawing is that the center back portion between the shoulder blades was very narrow, to my eye a bit out of proportion so I did widen it quite a bit, maybe 1 inch on either side of the center? I just drew it with a pencil until I liked the shape and then folded the pattern piece to mirror on the other side.
This fabric is quite thin - way too thin for dress so I decided to line it with another light weight solid knit.
So I cut out the lining first, and marked the waist casing there. By using a lining I could create the casing for the elastic between the outer and inner layers which makes a nice finish. For some reason sewing a casing is one of those sewing tasks that I really dislike so I often try to figure out ways to make casings in another way.

lekala stripe cutting layout

You can see all my tailors tacks for the casing on the lining pieces. Then I put the lining pieces on the fabric and that way could match my stripes perfectly. A late night smart idea - instead of my usual late night stupid mistakes. Don't you always make sewing mistakes at night? I frequently have a spidey sense of "I should stop now" and more often than not if I don't - the big mistake happens. I should have a big loud buzzer that says "Step away from the scissors" when I have been sewing at night for more than a few hours. Hmm, invention idea there.

Onward - inside shot. Everyone always comments that they like to see insides of garments. I'm planning to discuss that next time I do a Random Threads post. Hint - not that important. at least to me.

Anyway - see the darts in the lining. The pattern has darts and I sewed them in the stripe fabric, they were fine but they just made the stripes do something really weird across the bust. Hated them.

Lekala inside view

So I took them out. And used my technique of gathering that section where the dart would have been. On my size pattern the difference between front and back is about 1.25 inches - so that is quite an easy amount to gather and ease onto the back. The stripes here make it more noticeable but since I don't walk around with my arms held over my head it is perfectly acceptable :)  And then the stripes match from the middle of that seam the rest of the way down.

Lekala side on form

Back view on me. Whew horizontal stripes across my backside. Not sure it is the best look but oh well I love the rainbow stripes (for wearing in the land of rainbows - so many in Hawaii, lots of double ones as well.)  I am quite obsesses with this blouson style lately, kind of a change of silhouette for me. I always feel like I need to try different shapes but rarely do. Contemplating something with a drop waist. We shall see......

Lekala stripe back view on me

The only other thing to mention on this dress is related to the thin fabric issue. I got it all turned and under stitched to create a crisp neckline and then saw that dominant purple stripe showing up there in the seam allowance. Not really able to trim it as I cleverly (ha ha ironic use of clever) ironed some stitch witchery in there so that the lining would stay nice and flat before I topstitched. So it is sealed in there. Probably a case of being too picky for a silly beachy little knit dress but there you go. I notice stuff. However I do love the colors.

Lekala neckline closeup

And now a combination Garden photo and dress photo. West coasters - feast your eyes on all that green.

Lekala stripe dress under plumeria tree

Happy sewing. Even though I am home I have one or two more vacation items to show and then I have to think about fall sewing. Wait, do I have to?  Our climate is such that we jump straight into our relatively mild winter. And I don't even want to think about sewing with wool yet. It's supposed to be 104˚C here at my house tomorrow. Whew!

Happy sewing, Beth

Plumerias from that tree next to me.


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Butterick 5455 for this year's Birthday Dress

That last post was slightly serious - even though I am very happy with that blue dress - so it's time to switch gears and indulge in something frivolous, a completely unnecessary floral frock. Say that 5 times fast.  I like that word frock, it seems to be used mostly by Australians as far as I can tell. Do you say that in the UK?  Here is the US we only have the word "dress" for this garment. Maybe frock will catch on. It sounds quaint to me, like something from a movie set in the 20's or 30's. Although Frocktails - that is something I can get behind. Perhaps I should organize for the bay area. Anyone interested?

But this post is all about me, and my birthday. Aaagh, how narcissistic that sounds. but after all a sewing blog is sometimes a bit narcissistic - or at least self indulgent, filled with photos of one's self modeling the latest creations. I do admire the people who can make their photos very interesting, sadly I am not one of them, and have to hope that I can get some shots that are at a minimum in focus and the garment is visible. But for my birthday I am usually on vacation so the background is at least improved:)

Butterick dress on me front

I have mentioned my pattern love for this one before and decided to make a version for myself, as I have sewn this pattern at least 10 times but never once made it for me. It is Butterick 5455 which is sadly OOP. I have mentioned before that I think this is a stellar pattern, looks good on lots of figures, has pockets! and a very pretty neckline front and back. Here is my previous post with a number of versions pictured.

Front and back on the dress form. I mentioned in my previous post that this is a sleeveless dress which is designed as a sleeveless dress. One of my pet peeves is patterns which have sleeved and sleeveless versions, when you take off the sleeves I find the armhole and shoulder to be a bit clunky which this pattern avoids.
Butterick front on form4Butterick back on form

The fabric is a remnant that I found at Stone Mountain earlier this summer. I actually bought it as my sister mentioned wanting a ponte dresses, then I found a dress in her size on sale in just her colors (navy blue and white) My sis and I have a challenge of finding things for each other on the super sale rack. She started it years ago and now we hunt for some perfect item with a price limit of $ 10 in summer and $ 15 in winter. Anything is fair game from exercise wear to tops, dresses, pants and even shoes. You would be surprised how fun it is to shop for someone else with no pressure, with just the potential to find something perfect. I think we are even so far (sisterly competition of course :).

price tag ponte

I am not the biggest fan of ponte and the colors might be too bright for some - although not for me. Turquoise and coral in one print, how could I resist?

back view on me Butterick dress

I didn't really try to match anything however now I see that the print kind of flows across the back skirt. so yay! and eek I need to get to the gym after this vacation - great meals going right to my hips. Oh well, that's what vacations are for.

How about a little inside view and some fitting info?
I made a size 12 which is my typical Vogue/Butterick/McCalls size and this dress is well proportioned so I would not say there is any excessive ease. I always cut things out with a 1 inch side seam allowance at the hip and then fit it as I go on the body, to create just the right fit and hip curve. This metal ruler is something I've had for ages and so useful for long curved seams. And Frixon pens.

Butterick dress side seam

I don't usually take fitting photos in the mirror but I was working on this one and realized it would illustrate one of my fitting mantras which is "pinch an inch". Reading other blogs and feedback on pattern fit I think the preference is very close fitting garments but I prefer a slight difference between the body and the garment measurements makes it so much more pleasant to wear, and actually hangs better on the figure, with no drag lines or pulling. So this dress is fitted but I can "pinch an inch" at the side seam, meaning that it might measure about 2 inches more than my measurement. Of course with knits you can have less ease but with a woven that 2 inches in circumference is really necessary.
and ignore my messy floor - plus my footwear :) those are my sewing clogs. Never step on a pin with those on my feet.

Butterick pinch an inch

Other fit adjustments, I added a bit of length in the upper part of the bodice, about 1 inch at the center.
The yellow line marks where the pattern piece would have been without the addition. Look at the above photo and imagine if I had not added that front bodice length, the seam would have been too high and bisecting at an awkward spot. Interestingly I didn't need to shorten the back bodice which I typically do. I also took it up at the shoulder seam about an extra 1/2 inch which is also typical.

Butterick on form close up

Inside view, lined the bodice with a white poly lining and left the skirt unlined. It's kind of hard to see but the hem mark is thread traced. Once I decide on the hem I usually run a thread trade along the fold and then I can unpin and finish the dress without having pins come out or losing the hem place. It takes a couple of minutes but actually makes the garment easier to handle for the last few steps.

Butterick inside view

So that's the scoop on this year's birthday dress. The weather has been great despite the state being in the path of 3 hurricanes in a row - which all have taken a turn and moved their direction away from the islands. A little more rain than usual, and very hot and humid. But the alternative could have been a lot worse! And we are all saying that it will seem extra brown and dry when we get home to drought stricken California.

Butterick dress on me5

Beach day tomorrow and then dinner at one of my favorite restaurants - what a perfect way to spend a birthday.

Aloha, Beth