Sunday, October 8, 2017

Joining Instagram - For a Good Cause

Kyle from Vacuuming the Lawn has so generously donated her time and energy helping out those in need in her own special way.  She created a beautiful tote bag and held an auction on Instagram to help those in Texas who suffered the wrath of Hurricane Harvey.  I did not participate in the auction but did contribute via my church.  It was heartening to see that my local community center collected supplies from my neighborhood.  My employer also sent out a mass email providing links to organizations that were providing assistance.  It was heartening to see everyone coming together to help those in need.

Kyle did it again for Puerto Rico.  She took the time to make this beautiful floral bag and held an auction on Instagram to raise money to help our fellow U.S. citizens. With Puerto Rico, my church did not hold a fundraiser.  My local community center did not collect supplies.  My employer did not send out a mass email.  One can speculate as to why (I don't want to get into it here) but my heart sank as I made these observations.  I am of Puerto Rican descent so this disaster has had a personal element for me.

I have for the longest time resisted joining Instagram.  I felt like it would provide me with another avenue to spend the little spare time I have.  I would rather sew!  But when Kyle held this auction, I just had to participate.  I joined Instagram (my link: Instagram) just so I could participate in this auction and I placed the winning bid!  See the Instagram auction feed by clicking here.

This bag is of high quality professional workmanship and came beautifully wrapped with a fun card.
Thanks to the generosity of others in the sewing community, a total of $580 will be donated to the Hispanic Federation which is working tirelessly to help the residents of Puerto Rico.  One poster matched my bid while two others contributed as well.  So what this tells me is that there are so many different ways to help those in need.  And there are so many good people out there!

Sometimes it seems like the world is unraveling...with one disaster coming right after another.  It sometimes feels overwhelming and I often feel so helpless.  But what those in the sewing community have shown is that we can all chip in in our own special way.  Every little bit helps!  

If you wish to contribute, you can do so via the following organizations:



In addition to Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and other islands in the Caribbean also suffered extensive damage and the citizens of Texas and Florida still need our help:


Saturday, September 9, 2017

I'll Wear it Next Year

Several weeks ago, I finished a little floral summer skirt made from a medium weight cotton/linen fabric purchased online from Michael Levine.  I purchased the fabric 2 years ago and it has since been sold out.

I love the "denimy" blue background color.  The roses remind me of my mother who loved all flowers but especially roses.  The motif also reminds me of a couch I once had - ha ha!



The skirt is self-drafted but you can find a similar pattern from one of the big pattern companies or independent pattern companies.  I am wearing it with a self-drafted knit top I made some time ago.  I would like to make a little woven top to go with it.  Maybe in a navy blue or perhaps I will pick up one of the colors from the print.  Anyway, I don't know when I will get around to making a top for it.  It has been so cool here in the Northeast U.S.  It feels like fall weather came way too early.  Unless we get a few hot days, I will wear the skirt next year.

Following is a close-up of the skirt.  The waistband seam sits at my natural waist.  The waistband width is 1 1/2 inches.  I was debating whether to make the skirt with chunky wooden buttons from my stash but after consultation with my daughter and with Kyle from Vacuuming the Lawn, I decided to go with the blue buttons.  I matched the motif along the center front fold:



But I did not have enough fabric to match the sides which I am ok with.  Below are views of the side and back.


Instead of folding the waistband under and slipstitching, I decided to finish the raw edge with a Hong Kong finish.  The inside side of the waistband is flat instead of folded under...



so I could stitch in the ditch from the right side.  I find this method reduces bulk and creates a polished treatment.


What do you think of the buttonholes?  Beautiful, yes indeed!!  I got them done at Jonathan's Embroidery, 256 W. 38th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues.  You mark the buttonhole placement on the fabric and tell them what type of buttonhole you want.  You bring a button with you and a sample of the fabric so they can make a test buttonhole for you before they proceed with your garment.  They use industrial machines that create beautiful buttonholes.  They also use gimp to prevent the buttonhole from stretching over time.  The machines punch a hole (in the case of the keyhole buttonhole) and create a little slit.  You then finish opening the rest of the buttonhole at home.  They charged me $1 per buttonhole.


If you ever have the opportunity to get buttonholes done professionally, do it because it is definitely worth the effort.

Happy sewing!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

A Simple Knit Top

Honestly, I can't believe how fast time flies!  We have about 4 to 5 weeks left of summer weather here in the Northeastern U.S. before it starts cooling down.  I decided to make a simple knit T-shirt type of top which I can wear for the rest of the summer.  I almost did not blog about this top.  There really isn't very much to say about it.  The fabric is a medium weight cotton jersey from Mood Fabrics.




Due to my very busty figure, I usually make my tops a little long.  I find longer tops more flattering on me since a longer length creates a longer rectangle shape versus a boxy square.




The neckband is created from the same fabric using a technique I learned at FIT and described in a previous post.



For my figure, I need darts even in knits.  I made sure to match the stripes at the side seams all the way up to the dart.  I created the dart using the technique described in a previous post.  The stripes get distorted above the dart but that is OK with me since my arm is down most of the time.




Here is the back view.  Like I said, it is just a simple little top.  The pattern is self drafted.  If you want to make a similar top from a pattern, since it is so basic, you can find a similar silhouette by searching one of the major pattern companies or the independent pattern companies.



I hope you are enjoying the summer (for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere).  I will be savoring the rest of it.

Because I don't want to part with a photo of my back, here is a beautiful photo taken from a hike I went to in Northern New Jersey:

Franklin Lakes Nature Preserve, Franklin Lakes, NJ
Happy Sewing!
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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Hot Colors, Cool Dress and Lots of Work

Since summer is in full swing, I have been very much in the mood to sew with linen despite its tendency to wrinkle.  I find that if you wash linen in a washing machine and dry it on a hot setting, the linen still wrinkles but it does so softly so that is what I did.


McCall's 7562 was the inspiration for this dress.  I love the colors chosen for the sketch of View B.


However, I did not want the neckline and sleeves illustrated.  I also wanted the top orange section to be longer so that the style line did not cut me in half so to speak.

I recently received a fashion book as a gift that had pictures of shift dresses from the 1960's.  I was a toddler then but still remember my mother sewing shift dresses for me and my sister.  Nostalgia set in so I decided to make a 1960's inspired shift dress.  I drafted the top section and bottom section of the dress but I used the pockets from McCall's 7562.


I thought this dress would be one of those easy-to-make summer dresses...oh so carefree...comfortable and perfect for a hot summer day!


While the finished garment is certainly very comfortable and perfect for a hot day, it actually was a lot of work to put together.  Following is the saga...

For me, the raw edge of linen feels scratchy to my skin.  I have tried in the past finishing linen edges with a serger but it still feels scratchy.  I therefore decided to finish the edges using a Hong Kong finish.  It resulted in a beautiful finish in the inside but it did take some time to cut the bias strips (out of Bemberg lining fabric) and apply them.  Since the linen is lightweight, I also thought it would be a good idea to line the red bottom section to make sure there was no see-through.


Another issue I encountered was the bust darts.  Since I am a bit top heavy, the dress required that I make a huge dart for it to hang correctly.  However, no matter how carefully I sew a large bust dart, there is always a rather noticeable bubble that forms at the dart point.  In an effort to minimize the bubble, I tried using a technique suggested by Virginie of the blog Jazz Couture where she recommended that you fuse interfacing to the end of the dart.  I tried that but I still had a rather large bubble.  I also read in a Sandra Betzina book (don't know which one) that sewing a small piece of fabric to the end of the dart would eliminate the bubble.  I have tried that in the past as well and still got a large bubble.  I am sure each technique would work on its own were my dart not so massive.  So this time, I combined both techniques and had a much better result. Thank you Virginie and Sandra Betzina!



Now yet another issue was the large dart take-up which you can see in the above photo.  I did not want that large expanse of fabric to show on the right side so I trimmed the dart and finished the edges by hand with a blanket stitch.  I thought that serging the dart would result with a ridge showing on the right side so that is why I chose to do a hand blanket stitch.



Here is the right side of the dart freshly pressed.  In the wearing of the garment, I have noticed that the bubble has come back but it is small, not the huge bubble I had before combining the two techniques.



I noticed once I had the main pieces put together and the pockets sewn in, that the pockets flopped open.  Ugh!  What I did was fuse a piece of woven fusible stay tape along the pocket edge (the side that is facing outside).  That worked like a charm - whew!  So if any of you want to make View B of McCall's 7562, do stabilize the pocket edge along the top.  Since I wanted to make sure the tape would stay put in the washing machine, I decided to secure it with a catch stitch.  You can see I pinked the edges of the pockets...again, I did not want ridges to show through on the right side.


I did make a muslin of the dress to make sure the fit was just what I wanted.  Everything was A OK in the muslin.  I went ahead and cut out the garment and stay stitched the armholes.  I was going to use purchased pre-packaged bias tape turned to the inside because I like the clean finish it provides.  I used this technique on the neckline of my previous dress.  So I applied the bias tape, turned it to the inside and topstitched.  I tried the dress on and was horrified to discover that I had inadvertently stretched out the armholes.  You could see most of my bra!  Oh no!  What to do?

FIXING THE STRETCHED ARMHOLES:

I was brainstorming with my dear sewing friend, Caryn.  (She makes the most beautiful garments.  She does couture level sewing.  She is so very talented and an inspiration to me).  She suggested using fold over elastic in red since it would pull in the armhole and add interest with the red color.  I thought it was a great idea except I was pretty sure I would not find the correct red.  Instead, I decided to pull in the armhole with basting stitches and make my own bias tape from some of the left over red fabric.  I proceeded to remove all of the bias tape I had applied, an arduous task indeed.

I fixed the stretched out armholes by sewing a running stitch by hand along the armhole edges.  You can faintly see the basting stitches in the below photos.  I then pulled the thread which created ripples (photo on the left).  I then steamed and pressed it to flatten the ripples as much as possible (photo on the right):


Then I applied the red bias tape to cover the ripples:



WooHoo!  I do love the effect of the contrast trim along the armholes (thank you Caryn!) so I applied it to the neckline as well.  I think that without the red trim, it would feel like something was missing.  It was one of those happy accidents!!

Here are the back and side views of the dress.  I used an invisible zipper at center back.


A shift dress is not the most flattering view from the side (thus the face) but overall, this dress is a great dress in vibrant colors that is cool and comfortable.  Its simple silhouette belies how much work it was to put together, but it was worth it!




Until next time, peace, love and happy sewing!



Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Fun Dress: McCall's 7562

After seeing how wonderful McCall's 7562 turned out on Dressmaking Debacles, I decided I would give it a try.  It is not a silhouette I would normally choose for myself.  It is a very loose fitting dress with a split kimono type sleeve which means there is a lot of fabric under the arms by the bust area, an area that I do not want to emphasize.

When I made the muslin, it looked like a hospital gown to me.  It was so huge and long!  I picked a Medium based on my measurements but I eventually took in 4 inches total from the sides which put me into a Small.  I also shortened it by 6 inches!  (I am short but I normally shorten by 3 inches.)  Muslins are usually very unattractive garments so I did not let the hospital gown look dissuade me.  I had purchased this beautiful fabric at NY Elegant in NYC (40th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues).  I love the print and colors.  It is a drapey rayon which I felt would be perfect for this dress.

Despite my misgivings about the silhouette for my figure, I do not regret going outside my comfort zone - something I need to do more often.  It is a very comfortable dress, perfect for those hot humid days.  I do love the split sleeves with ties.  I also love that it has inseam pockets - yay!


I think the shirt tail hem adds another element of fun and interest to this dress.  I hemmed it to knee level at the front:



But the higher shaped sides add a little pizzazz to it:




As recommended by others who have made this pattern, I omitted the center front neckline placket.  I also raised the neckline all around by 1 7/8 inches.  

What do you think of my beautiful necklace?  It was lovingly hand made by my very dear sewing friend, Vivian, who gave it to me as a gift some time ago.   She is one talented lady!  Her eye for what beads go with other beads is unbelievable.  It is the perfect necklace for this dress.  



Here you can see the very loose fitting design of this dress:


The pattern includes a neck binding piece that you attach and slipstitch but I decided to use bias tape. It is the prepackaged single fold bias tape you can find at JoAnn's.  I like the clean finish of it.


On my figure, even though the dress was loose fitting, I found I still needed to do a full bust adjustment to make it hang properly.  The full bust adjustment also reduced some of the extra fabric under the sleeve since I had to add a dart.   You can find instructions on how to make this alteration in the book by Palmer Pletsch, Fit for Real People.  The full bust adjustment always has the effect of lowering the dart too much for me so I must either redraw the dart to point to the correct spot or I must raise the whole dart.  In this case, I redrew the dart since there was no room to raise it any further due to the kimono type sleeve.  Since I butchered the pattern so much, I traced the altered pattern onto fresh paper.  


I love this dress and look forward to wearing it often during the hot humid days of summer!


Happy Sewing!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Fun with Sleeves: M7542

McCall's is running an online contest where contestants are challenged to create pattern M7542.  It is a simple basic bodice with several different versions of sleeves.  In some circles, I have read that it is the "Year of the Sleeve."  I thought it would be fun to participate so I made Version D with the flounced sleeve.

I used a striped blue and white cotton shirting fabric.  I decided to add my own little twist by lining the flounce in a solid blue cotton poplin.  I also added piping above the flounce in the same solid blue color.


McCall's M7542, Version D

It's been some time since I have made a woven top (I usually prefer knit tops) and I do need more tops in my wardrobe so this contest was just what I needed to get me working on another top.  The pattern's bodice has a boxy shape which I normally avoid but I do like how this top turned out.  



In case anyone is interested in lining the flounce, following are the steps:

First, for each sleeve I cut the flounce in each fabric of course:


I hand basted them right sides together and machine stitched with a 1/4 inch seam allowance.  I hand basted because I wanted to make sure the pieces did not shift as I handled them.  Using the 1/4 seam allowance meant I did not need to trim the seam allowance and it would make it easier for me to press the seam open.


The trickiest part was pressing the seam open.  I pulled the circles apart at the small center opening and inserted my Dritz seam roll.  I placed the seam over the end of the seam roll and pressed with a steam iron 2 inches at a time.  I did not worry about wrinkling the rest of the flounce.  I could always press out any wrinkles later.  For this important step, what mattered was making sure the seam was pressed open.


Once all of the seam allowance was pressed open, I turned it inside out from the center opening.  I pressed the edge flat making sure that the edge did not favor one or the other side of the fabric.  


I basted the center opening closed and continued with constructing the sleeve treating the flounce as one.  Once the flounce was attached to the sleeve, I pondered how to best finish the inside.  I could serge it but I did not want the serged edge to show when I lifted my arm or should the wind blow.  My solution was to cut a bias strip and bind the raw edge.



For the back closure, the pattern's instructions tells you to use a hook and eye.  However, I thought using a button and thread chain would create a more polished look.  I used a light blue button I found in my stash but I may change that in the future.



The cotton shirting has a very tight weave which made it difficult to ease the sleeves.  There is one sleeve I am not completely happy with so I will unstitch and re-attach that one (the left one).  I did not have time to finesse the sleeve because the deadline to enter the contest was today, May 7, and I needed to finish in enough time to have photos taken before my photographer had to leave.  I may make this pattern again with one of the other sleeves.  Perhaps I will make it in another cotton shirting or a fabric with a looser weave.  I may also add waist darts for more shaping but I will do so only if I use a solid color fabric or a busy all over print.  The options are endless and that's what so great about sewing!

Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A Close Call

Faye from Faye's Sewing Adventures is currently having a Tops That Pop sew along.  I decided to participate so I made the below red and navy striped top.  The fabric is a cotton jersey purchased from Mood.  The fabric is medium weight and has stretch but not very much stretch.  I was originally inspired by the top made by Lori from Girls in the Garden.  It is just so cute on her!

Self-drafted knit top with Ginger Skinny Jeans
I originally made a simple fitted T-shirt top but when I put it on, I discovered that I cut the armholes in too deep (think narrow shoulder adjustment gone wild).  This resulted in the sleeve being too tight along the sleep cap and there was pulling across my upper chest since the sleeves were pulling out at that area.  The top was uncomfortable.  (This is a self-drafted pattern.  I made a mistake - oops!)


As I was considering whether to declare it a wadder, I realized that I could save the top by making it a cold shoulder top.  The armhole was just right for that type of top.  So I unstitched the sleeve cap of the sleeves and folded it down.  I basted down the sleeve cap and then topstitched from the front along one of the navy stripes.  I then cut away the excess.    For the sleeve hem, I wanted as much sleeve as possible so I folded it up by only 1/4 inch and topstitched from the right side.  This alteration alleviated the pulling across the sleeve and upper chest and now this top was suddenly a fun on trend top.


Jersey fabric curls to the wrong side and that is what the fabric was doing along the exposed armhole edge.  To prevent this from happening, I fused a strip of fusible tape along the armhole edge.  I did not want to make the armhole go in any deeper by turning it under so instead, I used a decorative stitch along the edge to further stabilize the armhole and also help keep the tape in place should it ever loosen in the wash.


I used a strip of the same fabric for the neck finish and I attached it using the technique described in a previous post.  For my figure, I always need to sew darts even for knits so I used the method described in a previous post, Sewing Darts in Knits.  I used a ball point needle and a stitch length close to 3.0.  I serged the side seams and neck band.

This top was not the look I originally wanted but I am nevertheless happy with how it turned out.  Sometimes mistakes bring about the best results!



Happy Sewing!