Monday, May 27, 2019

Random Threads # 36: practice, being brave, and sewing indie

All weekend I've been meaning to sit down and write a blog post, but it's been a weird holiday around  here. In the sense that it doesn't feel like Memorial Day, the weather has been cold and rainy (more snow in Tahoe!) and every is a little bit grumpy waiting for summer to start.

So I thought I might have something seasonal (meaning springtime) to blog about but many things are in process and I'm not in the mood to do photos. However my notebook page for random threads has a number of entries so onward with that.

Ban the seam ripper! Is that crazy to say? It took me a while to comprehend that in the UK it's seems to be referred to as the unpicker, which maybe is a slightly gentler word. Below is an array of items I use to undo a seam, in descending order of use. I explain below the image.

seam rippers

Small scissors or thread snips will always be my implement of choice, I find that snipping the stitches, then gently pulling apart the two fabric pieces, then snipping again and so on is as fast as using a seam ripper and far less traumatic on the fabric. I unpick a lot of seams when I teach my classes, often helping people out after they are at their wit's end. I totally understand the frustration of making a sewing mistake and then having to remove, and then removing itself is a tricky operation so I like to help people out and get it over and done with so they can get back to the project itself.
Second choice and often first depending on the fabric is the razor blade, works great on denim and other stronger fabrics. It takes practice but once you get the hang of it then it's really quick. Third, I might use the curved blade thing, this works for small spaces where you are extracting just a few stitches. Lastly I might use the seam ripper but I find you have to pull too hard to break the threads and often can poke a hole in the fabric. Anyway - try to snip instead of rip and see how it goes :)

Practice makes.....proficient: You always hear the saying practice makes perfect, and it's understandable that has become a common phrase, but somewhere I read recently that practice doesn't necessarily make perfect but it makes you proficient, defined as competent or skilled. I like the thesaurus words even better: competent, masterly, adept, adroit, deft, dextrous. I think becoming adept at something is such a good goal, learning how to do something almost like second nature. Not having to think about it, and relying on yourself and your skill to do it right every time. Sewing has so many of these tasks to learn, and granted it does take time but one day you put in a zipper or sew a collar and didn't even think twice about it, you don't look at the instructions or stress about the outcome, you just do it and then perhaps realize you have become proficient at that skill. Such a good feeling!

Sew Brave - how do you define that? I really like reading the Sewcialists blog . Because of that I've come across people and ideas that I might not have encountered, and I'm really impressed with the way writers have shared their perspectives. The topic in May has been Sew Brave, to discuss pushing out of your comfort zone and talking about sewing a pattern, fabric or style that scares you. The various posts got me thinking about this and trying to come up with my own Sew Brave moment. I don't really have any things that might scare me about sewing, granted my sewing life started early and I got most of the scary things out of the way long ago, as my high school and college wardrobe would show if it had been documented on social media as it would be today. A lot of pattern/fabric pairing mistakes and misguided style choices along the way but as we alway (sarcastically) said in my family "it's a learning experience".  So my current Sew Brave moments might be when I cut into ultra-expensive fabrics. Almost always when sewing for someone else - those $ 400 pieces of fabric make you really measure twice before cutting once but after a while it just becomes another fabric. So far I've had great success, fingers crossed for luck, now that I've said it aloud I would not be surprised to make a big boo boo in the next year. Hope not!  This silk blouse and skirt pictured below are something I sewed for a client, she bought both fabrics in NY so not something you can just run back and get some more! Also that print placement was a challenge, blog post on that outfit is here.


Sewing Indie patterns: That's not something I do all that much, I always find things I want to sew in Vogue patterns, Simplicity, New Look, Burda Magazine etc. But recently I've been sewing up some samples as we mostly do classes at Hello Stitch Studio based around popular indie patterns. We've found that a lot of people already have the pattern, or have seen versions on IG etc so they want to make the same items, which is understandable. Plus all the patterns are available at Stone Mountain Fabrics which is nearby. I'm always looking for something complex or new to me so I tend to stick with Burda/Vogue etc. But it's been fun to make some of these patterns, and I've had both pleasant surprises and some small frustrations in doing so. On the plus side, some of the styles are unexpectedly appealing.

True bias class samplesDeer and Doe dress class sample

I recently sewed these to prepare for the upcoming classes. I made the straps wider on the Ogden cami as that was a request from a few people, and it's a pretty easy change to make I will detail in class. In all the samples I make I choose my size based on the pattern envelope info, just because it's easy to sew my size and then try on to see how they fit. (also selfish sewing) The pleasant surprise of the bunch is how much I like the Emerson pants, I will definitely be repeating those soon. The Mysotis dress is a good item for learning how to do darts, plus sleeves. It's not really my style but I have a few pattern hack ideas that I will try to do before the class.
And then, ta da! The Zadie jumpsuit, which I sewed in some free fabric that Stacey from the studio gave me and turns out I really like this pattern, along with a zillion other stitchers! Although I will do a few fit adjustments on my next version and I think I will make it sleeveless or some other changes. Stay tuned!  On the not so good side, I cannot get used to the variety of seam allowances on various indie patterns, I'm a 5/8" automaton and have to really concentrate not to use that.

zadie jumpsuit 2

It was absolutely pouring the day I ran outside to take these photos - where is our spring??

My sewing worktable - I keep saying that I will show more details on this homemade item which  me and Craftsman drill created it a few years ago. Here's a completely keeping it real view of part of my sewing space featuring a dress in progress for Heather (Vogue 8787 and fabric from Girl Charlee, will blog when finished).  Anyway - sewing table in the foreground, along with power strip cords, many fabric scraps that I let fall to the floor, and the more interesting detail in the background, my low-tech way of adjusting dress forms with strategically wrapped towels or padded bras to add circumference. Works find and costs nothing, score! Anyway, I will take some 360 video and post in my Instagram story this week.


So those are my random thoughts for today, and I already have a few jotted down for the next thrilling installment. Including my opinion on a very popular dress pattern, something about it really bugs me so stay tuned and see :)

Coming up at Hello Stitch Studio, the aforementioned classes on the Emerson Pants, Ogden Cami, Myosotis dress, and the Zadie Jumpsuit. I think the next Fit Lab class is full (spaces available in the morning session which is pattern adjustment skills) and my Jacket Workshop in September is almost full (yay!!!)  All my classes at Hello Stitch Studio in Berkeley can be found here. 

Up next, I started a denim skirt yesterday, from a recent Burda magazine and I can tell it will be a summer staple. Other than that I haven't been super motivated to sew for myself as the weather is so weird but hopefully summer shift dress season will arrive soon. ugh, how boring to talk about the weather but it really affects both mood and sewing mojo, right?

Happy Spring Sewing, Beth

today's garden photo, this coral color rose was a weakling in one spot, then I moved it to a better location and wow the shade of these roses are electric on a sunny day. This one was just about to open but I liked the sunshine streaking through the petal.

coral rose 2019

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Tie back top, Burdastyle 02/2018 #120 and what about our Burda subscriptions?

Many times I open my closet doors and look through the options, searching mostly in vain for a cute top to wear with my latest jacket creation. Why don't I make more simple tops? They are so useful for mixing and matching with things I want to wear. They take relatively small amounts of fabric and are quick to sew. A new resolution - sew tops this summer. Actually I have a lot of sleeveless tops, but there are times when a bit of sleeve is more comfortable.

With all that said, here is my latest top, from Burda Magazine February 2018 #120. I traced this ages ago and the other night decided to sew it up.

red tie back top 1

I used some cotton fabric I bought at some rummage sale or other, as I just wanted to see if I liked the style. Verdict: I do like it! and will find some nice silk to make another one.

This top is more interesting from the back as it has a slightly low v-shape with a tie at the center back. I thought that the tie was a continuation of the neck band which would take more fabric but rather cleverly the neck back is a circle and you leave a small gap at the center back where you can slip in another piece to create the tie.

tie back top bow

Here's a look at the images and tech drawing from the magazine. In their text they mentioned using a fabric with a matte on one side and shine on the other to create a contrast between the neck bank and the top. I like that idea, particularly in a solid color.

Burdastyle 2-2018-120 drawing

You can spot the difference between my version and the magazine one - short sleeves. The sleeves look ok in the photo, perhaps make it coordinate with the pencil skirt but in real life I can't stand those elbow length sleeves. For one thing I would only wear this blouse in warm weather and then longer sleeves are too much. But more importantly, when you try to put a jacket or anything over that type of sleeve they just bunch up and are impossible to smooth out. So that sleeve length had to go.

tie back top with longer sleeve

I did cut it out with the longer sleeves but got rid of them right away.  Much better shorter I think. By the way those are my Ash Jeans (2nd pair). That was a lucky fabric pick at a Bay Area Sewists Meetup swap last year.

tie back top 4

I sewed the neck band on the top and then hand stitched the inside edge. I didn't press it all all which I think gives it the soft roll and lets the bias drape a little bit.

tie back top front2

I made a size 38 which is my usual size in Burda and took it in a bit on the sides as it was roomy. This is a super quick sew as the sleeves are raglan sleeves with a dart detail on the shoulder to create shaping, this is the 2nd shirt from Burda with that detail that I've sewn, the previous one is here. 

Almost forgot, back view on me. I think this top could be really nice in a wide variety of fabrics, silk, rayon, poly, even a lightweight knit.

red tie back top 2

I think this top will look really nice with white jeans, so I'm looking forward to white denim weather - which we DO NOT have today, as we are getting a weird May heavy rainstorm. I guess I should be happy that the garden will get another good watering :)

Now to the 2nd topic in my blog post title - What is happening with my Burda subscription??
GLP News, which was the distributor through which I and everyone else in the US had a subscription, has closed their doors. Like, they are gone! and supposedly transferring subscriptions to another distributor. I HOPE SO! Because of course I want my magazines and patterns but also because the subscription is $90 per year and I renewed in January. So a fair chunk of change that I don't want to lose. I am a bit mystified by the business practices of Burda in the US. They have a really active website and email subscription list and yet you can't get the magazine from them which seems counterintuitive.

My other Burda topic I've been thinking about is their hashtag problem. Oh yeah, it's a problem. Consider that the success of a lot of indie patterns is partly due to the share-ability on social media of a pattern with a name. It's quite easy to share and search a pattern that has a name and of course just to recall it. Patterns with numbers are also not too difficult to share, for example #V1247 (the best skirt pattern ever, the Vogue Rachel Comey skirt and top pattern). So Vogue, McCalls, Simplicity etc can use the hashtag of the pattern company first letter and then the pattern number, such as #S2311
(both my green jacket and my black coat).

With all that in mind I've tried to come up with a hashtag for Burda magazine patterns. The problem is indicating all the info, i.e. Month/Year/Pattern number.

Here's what I posted on my Instagram story when I shared pictures of my recently sewn pink wool jacket.   Which was from the Burda October 2018 issue, pattern 108.  Or as shown below,

breaking that down, it shows Burda Mag, then the month 10, then the year 2018, then the pattern number 108.


So for this bowtie back neckline blouse I've blogged about today, the hashtag would be

Yes, all this is a bit long but it would be so useful!  I look at the #burdastyle hashtag all the time. People from all over the world are sharing their Burda magazine creations, and so often they're not mentioning what the pattern is or even what month or year. It drives me crazy!

Perhaps this is a solution in search of a problem but I'm going to go back and put the hashtag on all my Instagram posts where I sewed a Burda magazine pattern, and I think I will message some people to see if they will do it as well. When I posted in my story I did get a few replies from people who said they would do the same.

That's my rant for the day :)  now back to sewing.

Up next, I just finished sewing a few examples for my upcoming classes at Hello Stitch, in my previous post I listed all the classes that are scheduled for summer (scroll down to the bottom of the post for all the info). Last night I made a Zadie jumpsuit and I'm on board with that pattern! The sample I made is a bit long in the torso for me and is actually meant to be an example to show at the studio, but I will be making another version for myself in a print. I like to wear the item when I teach the class, that's kind of fun.

I think I might start on a new pattern soon, Vogue 9357, so I can be ready when the sun finally returns with a new summer dress.

Happy Sewing, Beth

Here's today's garden photo - well two actually. This time of year is the most lush and flowery around here, before the dry heat of summer really sets in. And you know I like to match my flower photo to my sewing.  The first is a Salvia, Hot Lips, and the second is a rose that might be called Cherry Parfait.

red and white salvia 2019

Pink rose 2019

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Ash Jeans again: 3rd pair in sparkly denim

This sewing project was one of those "I don't really need it but why not?" items where you are in a fabric store and see something slightly ridiculous and yet buy it anyway. For me it was this sparkly denim which I bought at Joann's one day, as it had a nice weight and suitable stretch, plus a subtle silver shimmer. Or can jeans that sparkle be considered subtle? Since you can't really see the shimmer in photos I will say yes.


I cut them out fully intending to make the cropped wide leg version on the pattern envelope, which is one of the 4 options on the Megan Nielsen Ash jeans. (the last view shown in the diagrams).

Denim metallic Ash jeans

However I am tempted to say, in honor of May the 4th (Star Wars day) that THESE are not the wide leg jeans you are looking for. If you get it, you get it...and on a slightly meandering note, I saw the original movie as it opened that first summer in the theater. Try to imagine how thrilling that movie was before it was everywhere in our culture. It had everything, adventure, romance, good vs. evil, humor, inspiration and young Harrison Ford! And we had to wait 3 years! for each sequel to find out what happened next. I still love that original trilogy (and have never seen any of the subsequent ones :)

Back to sewing, I did cut these out using the pattern pieces for the wide leg version. And basted them together for a try-on. And decided noooooooooo. Everyone has their pet peeve about how things look on themselves, for me it is things that make me look extra short in the bottom half. As I'm not tall to begin with, and kind of short in the leg half, I don't need clothes that make my bum look even closer to the ground.
So I took out my pattern pieces from the slim leg Ash jeans and overlaid them on the legs and recut them to that shape. Below is the back pattern piece, you can see how much narrower the slim leg is. And not just in the outside seam, but also starting at the inner thigh and continuing down to the ankle.
I didn't get a photo that showed the whole pattern piece but you get the idea.

Ash jeans wide leg conversion

The yokes were already sewn on the backs and the pockets and zipper were all done in the front, so it was a quick bit of work to unbaste and then restitch after I had trimmed them down to the slim leg.

Sparkle jeans waist view

Not the best looking photo but I wanted you to see how high these jeans come up on me. I did raise the waist all the way around 1/2" since I'm long in the rise. I bought the Dawn jeans pattern which is described as a high-rise jean so I'll be interested to see how the rise is on that.

Ash jeans front pockets outside

The whole time I was sewing these I thought the denim was black with a bit of sparkle, and I used black thread for both construction and topstitching.

I like the pockets to continue all across the center front of the jeans, I think some call this a waist stay, or I in RTW jeans I've seen it called tummy control. Whatever it is I think it keeps the front from stretching out, and also it keeps the pocket bags from creeping out which drives me crazy.

I'll be showing how to do this in my Jeans class at Hello Stitch Studio which is coming up in June, it's two Saturdays June 1 and June 8. I think this Ash jeans pattern is so good, the fit and shaping are really nice. As I mentioned before I made the first pair back in January and I used my hip measurement to choose the size. I took them in at the waist but the rest of the jeans are according to the pattern and I really am happy with the fit. This is probably the most suitable denim I've used, as the other two versions were sewn with denim I got at fabric swaps and a little skimpy on the stretch amount although they worked out ok.

Ash jeans inside pockets

You can see that I rummaged around in my scrap box for some cottons to use as the pocket bags and the waistband inside. I don't really get too worked up about the insides and don't care if they match. They don't show! use up scraps!  I put plain woven cotton for the inside waistband instead of the denim as I felt it was the tiniest bit rough and also got quite hot when I ironed it, possibly due to the metallic component. So I didn't want that touching my skin around the waist. Also using a non-stretch for the waistband seems to work well for me.

And here's how I realized these jeans were actually blue and not black.

Jeans with stripe shirt

I put them on with this silk top which is a black/white/green print. And took some photos. Staring at the pictures it was obvious that the denim was blue. Oh well. And the silver loafers are maybe too much with the sparkle jeans....Funny how you see things in photos that you don't notice in the mirror.

Close up view and the sparkles are evident?  Also looks like black denim, right? This is in my super bright in the daytime sewing room.

Ash  jeans close up zipper front

Sparkle jeans 3

So that's the latest on my Ash jeans. I probably have about 10 pairs of blue denim RTW jeans in my closet, various other colors also and now 3 pairs of Ash jeans. I fully intend to make the Dawn jeans and them it's time to make some shorts maybe? No more jeans for a while. Plus once our summer heat kicks in I rarely even put ON jeans until sometimes mid-Sept or even later.

For May I have a bit of a break in my schedule of teaching classes, as this month has a lot of weekend holidays and other stuff on the calendar so we don't have as many classes. Although we just did a weekday class last Thursday and it sold out immediately so based on that we have a couple more weekday classes now scheduled (Wrap dress and Lander pants classes).

Instead of listing my upcoming classes, here's a screen grab to show you what's on the calendar for June - Aug. There are just a couple of spots remaining in the Fitting class on June 22 and we won't have another scheduled until the fall so if you are interested jump on that. Here's the link to the class page.

Register or see more information for my 
Garment Sewing Classes at Hello Stitch Studio

HS classes this summer composite

Did you see what class is there in the last image? Yes, the Zadie jumpsuit! I'm very excited to make that, I just got the pattern and will be sewing up a sample in the next month or so. And I didn't think it would work on a height-challenged person :) but I ran into Kristin at the Stone Mountain Fabrics 38th Anniversary party on Friday night.

Stone Mountain anniversary event

Kristin, who I met in a few of my classes, said her Zadie was hot off the sewing machine, just finished the night before. It looks so cute on her! so now I'm ready to try one for myself. It looks like
we are the only ones there but the place was packed with so many stitchers - a really fun event and great to see everyone. The sewing community in the bay area is really lively!

And looking ahead to August and September, check this out. I'm doing another beginner series based around the new Wiksten dress pattern (which I believe is going to be back in stock in the next month or so) and then my Jacket Weekend workshop is official. The class registration is live on the Hello Stitch Website.

Classes in Aug and Sept

The jacket workshop will be a 3-day class (afternoon on Friday and then Sat/Sun). The new Jasika Blazer pattern is a good option but if you already have a jacket or coat pattern that you want to do that's fine with me. I will be showing a lot of techniques and demonstrations on how I do things, including what parts of the instructions I ignore and go my own way :) all my thoughts on interfacings and a faster way to make the lining. Plus whatever else I think of in the next few months. While this class isn't until Sept. we have had registrations the day it was listed so I think we will have a great group. If you have any questions on this please email me. 

That's the latest on my Ash jeans, now onward to some summer dresses. I have a couple of things picked out from the last two Burdas and I need to get going on those. 

Happy Spring Sewing, Beth

Today's garden photo, I was so pleased with these bicolor tulips that I planted in the fall and promptly forgot were there. They've finished blooming now but the colors were so pretty.