Monday, October 5, 2009


Here's the first piece for the 2009 wardrobe SWAP.
I suppose it's OK but I think that collar is trying to back out of the picture. It might not be missed if I open that seam and let it run off into the woods.
I'll consider.
I must press on however, 31 days or no, October will be over before I know it. Back to the grindstone.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Stash SWAP 2009

The President reminded me today that success is necessarily built on failure. Therefore, I am not going to let my past failure to complete either of the two SWAPs I entered deter me from having another go at it. If I finish in time that will be a good thing. In the past, all I've needed to do is announce my intention to join a SWAP, then the pixies get indignant at my hubris and usually find me some illustration work to do. All of a sudden, there's no time to sew. That would be a good thing too, considering. So, forward––– march!
I have no right on earth to go fabric shopping of course so went into the stash for project materials.
I began with the topper fabric, a wool broadcloth I have had for about twenty years. It is a salmony terra cotta color (absolutely the choice of someone 20 years younger than I am). I spent some time pulling yardage out and trying to make connections. Of course none of the stash was acquired with even a faint notion of compatibility. I got some things going but the next day, realized it wasn't right. Then I remembered the
Color Schemer program. I'd played with it once on line and went back again to find coordinates for the salmon/terra cotta. The program is aimed at web designers, allowing them to test out page design color schemes. Above you can see some of what I came up with. And once I started, I realized this is also the same information in a number of the painting books in my library as well as an excellent book by Deb Menz: "Color Works". I decided that I didn't have to restrict myself to either a complementary, split complementary or analogous palette since I wasn't likely to wear all the items at once. All I have to do is make choices that coordinate with the topper color; oh, ----- and make garments that can be worn with that topper. By this I'm referring to fabric to garment compatibility. That dark green velveteen can't be made into a shirt because that would be uncomfortable to wear under the jacket, for me anyway.
I just realize one fabric is left out of my storyboard up there.
This is a wool jersey from my mother's stash. It will turn into one of the tops.
I did have some consternation about my penchant brightness and color contrast. I'd checked out a Hot Patterns interview where the nice lady forecast the monochromatic palette for the upcoming season. Then I saw this photo on my favorite fashion site: Advanced Style. Well alrighty then! This is where I'm headed.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I've been looking to replace the go-to black nylon purse I was not clever enough to buy two of when I had the chance. I bought it at the 99¢ store; that's just how devoted to fashion I am. It's main attraction is that it is not too big. I don't want a purse that wears me or that I have to fumble around in to find things. I thought I'd found in Walmart (sorry to drop names) a cute replacement with rainbow polka dots but it would not accommodate a wallet, keys, sketchbook and pens, cell phone and lip balm. That's when I discovered yet another thing that has vaulted onto the list of things up with I can no longer put: Purses with Black Linings. I can't see into a black purse that's deeper than six inches.

Butterick 4147 has the selling point that I could see myself using each of the bags included. I made view E, a design I've been curious about. I think it is made to stay on the shoulder better than just a straight strap. Constantly hitching something into place (like a shoulder strap) is another thing on the aforementioned list.
I used a home dec suede cloth. Found it on line, on sale, I no longer remember where. I liked that there was a pocket to hold cell phone or iPod on the strap. It can also be worn across the body.

For a good portion of the sewing, I marched my sewing machine along turning the wheel by hand. The fabric is thick to begin with and sewing through three or four layers of it, interfaced, was not going to happen quickly. My machine has a device that makes it stop dead in it's tracks when it encounters to too much to sew through. I was using a size 110 needle, thinking that's what upholstery fabric called for. It was a little easier with a smaller, size 90 needle but sewing slowly is the answer here. This fabric is dense and not easily punched through. I made the stitch length longer and when topstitching was called for, longer still. I used gold, top stitching thread used for blue jeans on top, regular gold colored thread in the bobbin.
For the lining, you're asked to use the same pattern pieces as for the front, back and sides. What I used was more home dec, a yellow and white striped remnant.

Here you can see the extra pocket I added. I knew there would be a problem using another sturdy fabric for the lining, how could it fit inside the bag if the pieces were the same size? That was an issue, and unless the bag is turned inside out, the lining bunches up to fit. Another thing to consider is there are some tightly curved corners in this pattern, too tight to press flat. I trimmed them and mashed them a bit with the iron but the fit between lining and bag wouldn't be satisfactory if this were a jacket. When I first put some items in the bag then pulled them out, the lining came along with so I did some back stitching down one long seam opposite the zipper, feeling for the suede cloth seam allowance underneath the lining. I continued this stitching along the bottom seam line as well. Now it stays inside.
Here's an example of one tight corner, this is the main part of the shoulder strap, it has to be smooth here. With the difficulty of sewing on the interfaced suede cloth and the narrow radius of this turn, I stopped and marked the stitching line. This was also the place to go slowly. Another method would have been to baste along the seam and then sew.
Two 12" zippers and two 1" D-rings are all the hardware necessary. For you purse mavens out there I stumbled on a new trimming store in the garment district. Botani Trimming inc. I do mean new, it looked like they were busy filling hundreds of little drawers when I showed up. They have a large selection of much nicer D-rings than I was interested in as well as all kinds of zippers and buttons.
The pocket flap closes with Velcro but maybe I'll add this Sculpey button. I'll try the messenger bag next.

Monday, August 31, 2009

It's a Housedress!

Thanks to my dear Madeline for this wacky fabric, of indeterminate vintage (1970's?) I used to test New Look 6863.
It worked for me. It has become easier for me to think through making new patterns from my sloper than to take a pattern out of the envelope and pin it down, wrestling with it to correspond to the sloper, figuring out, with the multiple sizes where seam lines are, etc. This is a pattern it would have been simple to just copy but I want to have the skill to alter a pattern as an option. I referred to Nancy Zieman's "Pattern Fitting with Confidence", which re-states material from "The Sew/ Fit Manual, A guide to making patterns fit by pivoting and sliding".
I started by comparing my sloper to the pattern. I lined them up from first the shoulder then the waistline. I decided to use the center front waistline to start my adjustments. I'm 5'4" and that 1 1/2" to 2" difference between me and the pattern companies' models isn't all in the legs. Some of it is in the shoulder area, from nape of neck to under arm. It could also be from under arm to back waist. I think it makes a difference. Things hang from the shoulders but the armholes are anchor points, garment length must be accurate there. It wouldn't do to use that lengthen/shorten tuck positioned in the bodice under the armhole if the discrepancy isn't there. Can you picture the dress with too deep armholes, keeping you from raising your arms, that has you always tugging the waistline into place because you compared your back waist length to the pattern's and shortened it? I think I made that dress___ more than once. This problem would be more pronounced in something with a waistline seam, not this dress.
Looking at the pattern, I cut a size 14 at the shoulders, extending to size 16 directly under the arms tapering out to add about 1 1/2"at each side seam for a total of 3" more width at the hemline. I also added 1/2" to the front waist length alone after I compared my front neck to waist length to the pattern's, making allowance for a C cup.
I traced another sleeve, making it elbow length. In the sleeve cap area between the notches, I followed the size 14 line, extending at the underarm to size 16. If you don't do this, the armhole of the bodice will be larger than the sleeve cap. When I sew this again I'll shorten the sleeves, the length was awkward (you notice I'd already started folding them up) and giving myself a little more ease in the sleeve width. My fabric wasn't particularly stretchy. When it's hot enough to wear this light weight knit, I don't want to feel anything on my arms.
I added the pockets without the drawstring and added 3" length at the hem. I've lived through miniskirts__twice, which is as much as any sane woman ought countenance in my not at all humble opinion. I can't say what men should be permitted when it comes to miniskirts.
On Pattern Review, Sheila457 inspired me to make this dress. Do check out her review here. She uses a beautiful border print that shows this dress doesn't have to be a housedress at all. She also has notes on the neckline construction related to the stretchiness of your fabric choice.
I put this little bit of turquoise rick-rack at the neck here for no good reason other than it matched. I also included the little ties in back which nailed the it into the housedress category. That house dresses are marked by cuteness confuses me because there is nothing cute about housewifery that I've encountered, nothing.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Where was I?

I'm going to pretend like not posting since um… March? is no big deal. I have run up quite a string of wadders since, quite a string.

I am not going to go on about the folly that was the "ugly fabric" contest entry over at Pattern Review, that I didn't finish partly because before I dove into elaborate alterations to make the thing fit, I re-read the contest rules and realized the contest was not to make something ugly from ugly fabric, but to make something attractive and wearable! I can only say is that I was granted the wisdom to know the difference.
Also, what wasn't a flat out wadder was something way too pedestrian to go on about, such as a work apron from this site. I think this is a fabric store in Japan. They have lots of free patterns for clothing and house wares. All are in Japanese of course, and I don't read Japanese, but they're also technical drawings for drafting the patterns and sewing them. I enjoy reading technical drawings, they're my kind of fun. My apron came out well but is already covered in paint so I'm showing the original above. Here is another clever idea I'd like to try:

Friday, March 20, 2009

Monkey see…

Monkey Do.

I am guilty of one of the most common failings: Love of The World, manifest in this instance by my attachment to the iPod. This one replaces my old Mini which still works. I did not imagine four years ago that I even knew more than a thousand songs. Well after you've rationalized buying an iPod, you may be chagrined to encounter yet another petty need screaming for your attention when you're holding that slippery jewel in your clammy hands, getting fingerprints all over it. It needs a case. It needs one because by bringing that iPod home, you have opened yourself up to the possibility, nay, inevitability of sharp anguish and remorse should its perfect shininess become marred. But now (that you have the little thing that makes you so happy) you can see a bit more clearly into the abyss of "Want!" And when Apple sends emails to show all the ways you can pimp your iPod, and you peek into that abyss and see there is even more spending required, spending that is not as much fun as it used to be… well that is when the worm starts to turn.

This was an easy project, finished in one evening with the TV on. That said, all props are due to the people overseas who actually sew these things together. I am convinced they have more than one specialty sewing machine to accomplish the task but that needn't stop anyone from making their own. Just having the iPod satisfied all my superficial status urges. I didn't need a status case for it, I needed one that it wouldn't slip out of and that wouldn't slip out of my hand.
I've had this soft red leather for ages, a gift from my friend Caroline. I have a whole skin but the amount I used for this was negligible. I decided the suede side of it was perfect for clinging to the iPod. I traced the front and back profiles and cut each out twice. I cut out a single strip for the side gusset piece to fit the depth of the iPod. I used a piece of an old polyester mattress cover to add padding between the leather pieces, making sure the suede side was on the inside, I sandwiched the polyester between each front and back piece.. I used a size 100 needle and regular thread, sewing very slowly, especially around the opening for the earbud jack. For the front flap, I cut a piece of plastic from a fast food container, cutting a slit on the inside to slide it between the leather flap pieces and zig-zagging over the slit to close up the opening.
When it was done, it fit poorly, and the openings for the screen and click wheel didn't line up too well. I just pinched up the excess, eyeballed how much I needed to take in the seams and sewed them over again; a fitting, like a slipcover. Using a straight stitch and then zig-zagging the edges together. Somewhere in this house there is always some styrofoam, clinging to something where it shouldn't be. I put a small piece of that, the width of the iPod, in the bottom of the case to be a cushion and also to further prop up the pod so I could see the window clearly.
Baffled as to how to attach this to the loops I've sewn over the back pockets of some pants to hold the iPod clip, I sewed a strap on the back with a buttonhole. The buttonhole is simply small stitches around a slit. If I did this again, I wouldn't make those stitches so short, it probably weakens the leather rather than strengthens it. Then I got fancy, wanting this strap to be strong, I doubled it an cut it from the irregular edge of the skin, using one of my machine's decorative stitches in yellow to hold those pieces together.

It's a little lopsided, which suits. And it was completely free, which delights.

Materials: Soft red leather
Batting, not too thick.
Plastic fast food container
Sewing machine ( this could be just as easily done by hand).
iPod ( a good model, it holds still for fitting purposes).