Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Two Pencils for the Fall!

Dear readers,

Back from dog-cation, we are now on the regularly scheduled sew-cation.  Two more pencil skirts are completed, drafted from my skirt slopers.  The first, made out of wool (feels like soft felt) from Mood, below:

Perfect scholarly-lawyer attire with a vintage feel.  I realize from these fair pictures I might consider improving my pressing skills!
 I love the dark wool skirt - and it's absolutely a perfect fit.  I have to thank Sew LA for the sloper classes - these are really good (and I'm about 10 pounds heavier than when these were drafted but they still fit well).
 A back shot, above - ugg - needs better pressing.
 I drafted a flat waistband using the pattern-making book from Ms. Armstrong.  It's wonderful.

I lined the skirt above in red bemberg ambiance.  

Below, please see a close-up of the fabric.
The second skirt is another wool, but tweed, $6.00 from G-street fabrics:
No waistband, and the fit is better on the first, I believe. 

 You can see the tweed a bit better.

I lined the skirt again, with a heavier weight Bemberg.

I am still having execution problems - my hem is much better (I'm doing blind stitch machine hem).  And, I am doing machine centered zippers (which look not so good!) - but luckily I NEVER tuck in blouses.  My kick pleats could use some work as well.  These are easily (and proudly) wearable but are not, sadly, perfect. . . 

I have not been doing Pattern Review posts since these are all self-drafted.  I've considered it but I believe the intent of the website is for review of existing patterns.    Am I wrong?

This concludes my skirts for Fall - all work-type skirts - again, a necessity but not a ball of excitement.  I drafted three and I will draft one more different skirt - an A-line casual skirt in Japanese gauze with an elastic waist. 

Thanks for your comments - I am having fun with my sloper and I am working on Jennifer Stern's Jeans pattern next!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sew-cation To Do List

Dear readers, I'm almost five days into my sew-cation - here is my list

Draft pattern for bodice blouse and sew
Major alterations on two maxi-dresses
Hems for three shorts/pants/one skirt
Two pot holders  
Jeans, one pair:)
Two pencil skirts for work
One A-line skirt (pending)
Some knit shirts (time permitting) (cancelled - ran out of time)
Belt loop case for doggie bags during walks  (I may do a tutorial - super fun!)
Lined microfiber/gortex case for swim cap and goggles
Doggie polartec sweaters

Let's see if I can make it before Labor Day ends (and I'm spending a long weekend in Mammoth with J. and the dogs hiking).

Monday, August 22, 2011

My first design (based on my bodice block)!

Yes, finally  finished my bodice block!  Hurray!! Finally, I drafted a pattern of my own designing -  based on Ms. Helen Joseph Armstrong's Pattern Making book.  I modified my basic sloper (or block) I made at Sew-LA.
The material is Japanese linen-gauze - very comfy.  I chose to put on regular buttons - and added a peter pan collar - which I used the construction methodology in The Reader's Digest Guide to Sewing. 

What I like about it is that is has my style aesthetic - and is super comfy especially in the bust area.   It has princess seams.    I haven't been able to wear a button shirt in years.  I did make some mistakes - I sewed the button holes horizontal - hey, I know - but I haven't been wearing button front shirts for years.  Thanks J.   

Also, I need to refit my shoulders - they are not quite right in the front.  They don't pull because of the ease in the bodice but they are constricting.

Other than that - I love it!  Really comfy - I can't wait to wear it.  Well, onto more sewcation items.  Skirts, Skirts, Shorts and Jeans.   Did I mention I finished all my alterations -  I feel like I am smoking along!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Jeans Fit Class at ASG Los Angeles

Dear Readers,

I unexpectedly had the best experience.  I was lucky enough to get into Jennifer Stern Hazeman's Jeans Fit class at the American Sewing Guild (ASG) conference here in Los Angeles and even ate breakfast with her (unexpectedly, she's taller than I imagined)!  Fun with celebrity sewists - what a day!

 Here is the link to her BLOG!  We received, among a professional workbook the following jeans pattern (left).  She has a khaki pattern that I already have (right).

Jennifer is delightful!  I did get a perfectly fit pair of jeans seriously thick muslin  - see below:
 The class was large - and we were provided Bernina Aurora 440s and 430s to sew our muslins with (what a luxury!).   I am going to tweak them a bit more once I use actual jeans material (I need to ease in the knee notches so they match and work on some of the back wrinkles - this material has no stretch).

Seriously, Jennifer is probably the best sewing instructor I've run across. I must say she has excellent training skills she employs that are professional and exceed the standards for adult learning.  Great job JS!

And she can really draft and fit patterns.  The class had about 18-20 people (probably the max you can fit in a hands-on class) , and everyone had excellent results - and everyone had distinctly different figures.  She was very fair and spent time with those learners that had difficulty understanding the pattern-making/fitting techniques.

All that said, I didn't need much personalized instruction as I was the only person in the class that had an almost perfect fit out of the box.  I merely made changes for boot cut and a deeper slope in the back crotch line (a mere preference for me!) - I had quite the opposite experience in making my bodice sloper.

I would encourage all to attend the conference - I am thrilled at the variety of the workshops at the conference (bra-making!), and of the sewing level of the sewists attending.  It gives me something to aspire to!

I'm working on alterations, my bodice sloper blouse and now, jeans!  Fun!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Attending a sewing conference?

Dear sewers,

When I picked up my beloved Janome after service (to send to a well-loved fiance') -  a brochure near the register broadcasted that the American Sewing Guild was having their yearly conference downtown LA.
Of course, it's next weekend (during my sew-cation - normally I never have this luck!) .  I missed the registration and its hefty fees.  But, some workshops are open before the conference and they will have vendors!  Exciting!  I am thinking of taking Jennifer's Sterns Jeans fitting workshop (an 8 hour class) the day before the "real" conference begins.

I've never (gasp!) attended a sewing conference.

What do you all think - have you been to these conferences?  I'm most interested in the singular workshop and the vendors?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Bernina Aurora 430! & Embroidery - Yeah or Nay?

Dear Readers,

Yes, with a portion of my tax refund - about three months ago I bought a Bernina from a dealer that was retiring (after 50 years) and received a significant discount.  I chose the Bernina Aurora 430.  I didn't really need a new machine - but I did want to upgrade at the discounted price and try a Bernina.  It was a difficult decision in terms of what model to buy and I didn't have a lot of time to think about it.

I list the pattern review HERE.  I am happy I bought it - make not mistake - this is a luxury.  After purchasing it I gave my Janome TB30 to my brother's fiance because her machine broke.  I love it.  It handles lightweight fabrics better than my Janome.  The stitches and stitching power is greater and certainly it is more accurate (once you discount the user:)).

One big difference is the metal bobbin (like my straight stitch Featherweight 221) - I believe it is more precise than the Janome - but to be honest the Janome is a great machine too.   But now that I've gone Bernina I don't know if I'll go back.

One note is that I could have gotten the Aurora 450 for even a better price.  I was uncertain about the 9mm stitches - this is the standard 5.5mm.  I've heard from commenters that most garment sewers prefer the stability of the foot the 5.5mm.   Any comments?  I also heard the much loved TNT CB hook was very reliable and that this machine is a "workhorse."  I'm always attracted to the workhorses.

Well, one more note - I could buy an additional module for embroidery.  I'm never done it - was never interested in it before - but my interest is piqued. One note this machine requires a PC to hook up the module - so I'd have to buy a netbook (we're a MAC house).   It's a good option.

Regarding the idea of embroidery or embellishment - what do you think - embroidery - Yeah or Nay?

Below see some examples. . .

What do you think?  Do you embroider/embellish or have you thought about it?

I don't know if I would use it other than vintage style mexican shirts and skirts, and perhaps some cool jeans.  Although, I must admit -  I love my RTW Hudson jeans.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

First basic block piece (skirt) turns into something wearable!

Whew!  I've been busy at work.  I took this class in November and am just NOW getting around to making something (after gaining 20 pounds too!).
I finished it on Sunday . . but haven't posted because I've been taking adult swim lessons (to improve my stroke) and it's exhausted me!  It's every day this week - I thought I only signed up for one class!

Now  . . .  what I made - a well-fitting pencil (or straight) skirt:

That said - Wow! Super easy - with my basic block (sloper).  This took nothing at all to sewing up:) I measured a 1" inch allowance but ended up sewing 5/8" (of all things - I tried 1" but it was a bit large).   I do believe I could probably sew an 1/2 inch SA rather than 5/8.   I did not make a waistband.

I also designed a pleated vent (or kick pleat) in back of the skirt.  I did this with the help of my trusty patternmaking book by Ms. Armstrong. I am considering doing a tutorial but I'm not 100% certain I sewed it correctly in the execution and need to conduct more research.   The picture is not so great - I should have used my macro lens and put the skirt on the dressform - not hanging off the ironing board.  Ah, next time.

 And a machine-sewn centered zipper (rather than my normal hand picked zipper).  I also used wonder tape - which does have its advantages (no pins) but it did get my needle and zipper a bit sticky.

Finally, a really well fitting pencil-type brown skirt for work wear. The fabric is wool, so I pretreated it using the steam as this fabric is dry clean only - I hope it works!

Also, note I'm a big chicken - I refuse to change the thread in my serger - so I'm going with the dark blue.  Seriously, I'm not changing the thread - I had it serviced and it sews perfectly.  Don't mess with success.

I fully lined the skirt to the waist (and used copious amounts of facing) with a mid weight bemberg lining.  I then put in a blind hem by machine - and once in, I attached the lace to the lining with a fell stitch.  I do believe I am getting some pulling in the hem due to the machine stitching (user error).  I may take out the hem and hand stitch it in.  In addition, the skirt was a bit short - I wanted a full 1 to 2 inch hem and was able to hem it only 1/2 inch.  Good to know.

By the way, I bought the wool skirt material from G-Street Fabrics near DC for 6.00 - they have a table for fabric ends perfect for skirts!  A great deal!

Yes, I will do this again  -  the entire process probably took less than 4 hours.  I am finding I am enjoying having a sloper skirt pattern.  Next up, the basic bodice block.

P.S.  Well, it is a bit boring!  But I do need some basics and enjoying this "fallish" sewing. . .

Saturday, August 6, 2011


A few months ago, someone used a portion of their tax return to boost the local economy (at least that's what I'm telling myself):

What could it be?

P.S. Now that the menswear is done it seems as if I'm speeding through my next projects!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A wardrobe for J.? Mens' Kwik Sew 3884

Well, no.  But it's a start!  And, J. really wants a wardrobe (of all things!!).
So, we'll get started on some men's tailoring between projects.  For now this project cost me only the pattern and a zipper!  But, I must admit - it did take at least 10 hours of precious sewing time.
The fabric, which had been in my garage stash since at least 1994, worked well for these shorts.  I was very concerned about the use of the fabric but J. loved it.  So these short are a "wearable muslin."  Controversial in the sewing community, I know.
I was worried about matching the plaids but I believed these turned out fairly well (but not perfect).
Oops!  Forgot to cut those threads before the picture!! The full pattern review is Here.  I sewed View B; a new techniques for me were inserting a fly zipper, adding mens' style side pockets and a welt pocket in back.  I probably should have taken the darts out of the back.  During the fitting J. pled for them to stay - for he was afraid they were too loose.  Ultimately  the shorts are a smidge too tight - the pockets pull out.  J. claims they are very comfortable; he wouldn't take them off after the picture!  For reference, Kwik's Sew envelope for 3884 below:

The pockets in front are designed very very shallow (for a man) and I added material after they were in.  We like the pattern but J. wants another pair of shorts in a different pattern for hiking rather than these.  Sigh.

What about you, dear readers, do you find menswear exhausting?  Are you yeah or nay on making your man clothes?  And would he wear them, anyway?