Wednesday, December 31, 2008

BWOF 07•08•133: Redesigning the Sleeve

I just completed a major redesign. It's no accident if that sentence sounds like I just finished a complex home remodel. That's exactly how I feel. My goal was to change the 3/4 sleeve with drawstrings on BWOF 07•08•133 to a standard long sleeve with cuffs. It took me many hours, (spread over 3 days and interrupted by a trip to visit my sister), about 6 feet of tracing paper and about 2 yards of muslin to come up the new sleeve. Whew! To lengthen the sleeve while maintaining the seams, I used the "Pivot and Slide" method described in Fitting Finesse (Zieman, 1995) or Pattern Fitting with Confidence (Zieman, 2008). I drafted the bottom of the sleeve to accommodate a cuff using Couture: The Art of Fine Sewing (Carr, 1993).

The process was made more difficult because of the placement and number of seams in the sleeves. It would have been simpler if there were only one underarm seam. (But, nooooo!) I had to draft the bottom of the sleeve as if it had one underarm seam, include register marks so the pieces could be matched accurately, then cut it apart and tape it to match the two pieces of the sleeve.

Click to enlarge
It would have been easier if I'd just lengthened the sleeve and left off the drape for the cuff. But, Roberta Carr said the drape is necessary; who am I to argue? At this point, I haven't cut the fashion fabric nor started sewing, so I don't know how this will all work out. The muslin still looks like a sleeve after my nips and tucks, so I'm encouraged.

Several times during this ordeal process, I considered quitting and making the sleeves as shown. I also thought about asking for help from Online Sewing Buddies. But, I wanted to feel the sense of accomplishment that comes from overcoming a challenge. I got out of bed before 6 AM - on a vacation day - to work on this sleeve! That's how committed I was!

After I finished this pattern work, I took down my Christmas decorations and did the associated house cleaning. After completing both tasks, I wondered which was more difficult.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Next: BWOF 07/08 131 Pants & 133 Blouse

My next project is from the July 2008 issue of BWOF. You can't tell from the photograph, but the pants fabric is a black and white plaid with barely visible blue and pink pinstripes throughout. The blouse fabric is black microfiber. I'm going to change the sleeves on the blouse from 3/4 length to full-length with a cuff. I have two options. Transfer a sleeve from another pattern or lengthen the sleeve pieces given and add the cuff. Although it would be easier to transfer a sleeve, my preference is to lengthen the pieces because I want to maintain the the two piece sleeve. Although this task sounds easy enough, it's a new endeavor for me. Remember, I'm not used to making changes to patterns. I might have to add some more ease into the sleeve. Anyway, I've got something to keep me busy for the duration of my winter recess.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Short-Patience, Fried-Brain Vacation Project

Seven days off (eleven, counting two weekends)! My patience was short. My brain was fried. What's a sewer to do? Why, make super easy pajamas, of course.

With all the time off, I had to sew something. But, considering my short patience and fried brain, I didn't want to start anything that required much thought. In addition, I'm planning to visit my sister in the Hudson Valley (NY) during winter recess. I don't want to start something and then leave town. I liked my No-Brainer pajama project so much, I decided to make pajamas for most of the adults on my Christmas list. I liked making the gifts so much, I decided to make more pajamas for myself. I can lounge around the house wearing these and not feel compelled to put on real clothes. The bottoms are Simplicity 9330 and the 3/4 sleeve t-shirt is from Ottobre 2/2007 (#2). When I made the Christmas gifts, I bought t-shirts of Alma Maters or favorite sports teams to make the gift more personal. For me, the only requirement is the tops and bottoms coordinate - at least a little! I plan to make more of these and choose fun prints I would never wear otherwise. I can make lots and lots of pajamas in eleven days!

Parting Shot:

Merry Christmas! And a peaceful and prosperous New Year!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

BWOF 05/2006 130 Tunic & 133 Skirt

The tunic has long-sleeves with narrow cuffs. The front has a faced slit opening. I made a design change to the opening. I was going for a more dressy look so I changed the front closure from hooks and eyes to buttons an button loops. I went really wild (wink) and placed the buttons on both sides of the slit. Since the buttons were small, I made the loops really thin - made from 3/4" wide bias strips. Even use my smallest Fast Turn tube turner was too large for these loops. (I must have misplaced the smallest turner) I had to use a low tech tube turner with the fragile little hook and latch on the end.

May I say, with utmost humility, this is one of the best invisible zippers I've ever done? The secret was interfacing and basting. I've been sewing for most of my life. Interfacing the zipper area should be second nature for me. Practically every book I own recommends it. But it's a step I always neglect forget. Now that I've seen the results, I won't neglect this step again. Since I went to the trouble of interfacing the zipper area, I deciding basting wouldn't be a bad idea. After sewing the first side of the zipper with the machine, I basted the second side to insure the alignment of the waistband seams. I'm very happy with the way this zipper looks.

And if a beautifully installed invisible zipper and creative button loops weren't enough, I put hanging loops in the skirt. I saw these horizontal hanging loops in The Dressmakers Techniques Bible, a book I just purchased two weeks ago. The book is already worth the purchase price!

If I hadn't already posted my annual report, I would have included this outfit in the favorites. I'll probably start by wearing it to church on Sunday. This will probably be the last outfit I complete in 2008. I'm glad to end the year on a high note.

Parting shots (concept stolen from Summerset):

Tangi's first Christmas
The bottom of our Christmas tree is Tangi's playground. She's swatted off several ornaments and the beaded garland is best not mentioned!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Annual Report

I love Lindsay T's idea of an annual review. It really is a good idea to look back and evaluate projects.

Garments Sewn: I completed 32 garments in 2008. I'm really surprised I was so productive. I sewed more blouses and pants than anything, but my work wardrobe is blouses and pants.

Pattern Companies: No surprise here. I'm still hopelessly devoted to BWOF and Burda Plus Fashion (BPF). I can't say I will try to use different companies because I'm satisfied with BWOF and BPF.
My Favorite Projects: It seems like green was my color in 2008.

Parade of Dogs: Most dogs were deemed so because they didn't fit or they were unflattering. Considering the number of garments I completed, I had relatively few dogs.

  • Partially lined jacket with Hong Kong finish on exposed seam allowances.
Goals for 2009:
  • Make a tailored suit
  • Finish the quilt (maybe - I'm not going to stress about it)
  • Take some classes to improve and broaden my skills
  • Sew a coordinated mini-wardrobe

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Next: BWOF 05/06 133 & 130

Hopefully, my next project will look nothing like this photograph. It's not that I don't like the skirt and tunic pictured. I'm just making a few design changes. Actually, I made this outfit last year and it looked nothing like the photograph. I made a careless mistake when sewing the front opening (it's supposed to be a slit- not the Grand Canyon) and I had to cover-up the mistake with an unplanned design change. This time, my design changes to the front are intentional. The tunic pictured has hooks and eyes holding the front slit together. I'm going to have buttons and button loops instead. I'm making good on my resolution to step away from the instructions provided.

I bought the fabric on my last trip to Les Fabriques in Charlottesville. I hadn't decided to make any changes at the time I bought the fabric, so I wasn't sure what notions to buy. As I result, I didn't buy as many buttons as I needed. I looked around for buttons I liked as well as the ones I bought in Charlottesville, but I didn't find any. I emailed a picture of the buttons to my daughter and she went to Les Fabriques to get the extra buttons for me. (Thank God for daughters and email)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Sewing with Bert and Ernie

My sister and I often compare ourselves to Bert and Ernie of Sesame Street. I'm Bert and she's Ernie. Ernie is unpredictable while Bert is just the opposite. I see Bert's personality reflected in my sewing. Usually, I stick religiously to the directions and make very few design changes in the garments I make. I focus on the technical aspects of sewing more than the opportunity for creativity it provides. I spend time indexing BWOF issues and patterns when I could be actually creating something. I'm convinced Bert is the reason I see fabric merely as "clothes-I-haven't-made-yet". Bert won't let me accumulate too much fabric or enjoy fabric for it's own sake.

It's too late to totally shed my Bert personality, but I am trying to get in touch with my inner Ernie. I'm resolving to be more creative in my sewing. I have plans to draft a different sleeve for one blouse and substitute buttons and button loops for hooks and eyes on another. I'm not going to be bound by the written instructions provided. Maybe I'll even add some tasteful embellishments where appropriate. (OMG!) In spite of their differences, Bert and Ernie have peaceably shared an apartment on Sesame Street for over 30 years. They prove technical pragmatism and creative exuberance can coexist!

What might happen if I embraced my inner Ernie? Click Bert then play the video to find out. (You may need Adobe Flash player to view the video.)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Finished: Burda Plus Fashion FW08 #403 Blouse & #404 Pants


This is a basic long sleeved blouse with a placket to hide front buttons. When I saw the front placket, I visualized a placket with which I'm familiar. This placket was a little different. It opens on the inside rather than the outside. The instructions were clear and the placket was easy to construct, but pictures would have helped remove the preconceived placket I had in mind. Burda instructions would be so much easier if pictures were included. But, I guess the confusion is part of the charm of Burda's magazine patterns. I needed a basic blouse, but the front placket treatment added a subtle, little extra design detail. i used a microfiber for this blouse. I'm ambivalent about microfiber. It looks and wears well, but it's a little … dense and I don't have as much fun fondling it. I'm amazed a fabric that feels so heavy drapes so beautifully. I've read microfibers really dull needles and it's easy to see how. The pattern had a flounce on the cuff but I chose to omit that. I made the cuff two inches wide to accommodate for the loss of the flounce. I like this pattern because it has versatility. The pattern can be altered to make a few basic styles. If I sew this again, I will probably sew it without the placket if I need a basic button front blouse. My goal has been to make more changes to patterns in order to get exactly what I want.


These pants are are classic fly-front pants with nothing to distinguish them from any other fly front pants. I've been using BWOF method of inserting the fly front, but I'll return to the Sandra Betzina method after these pants. While sewing these pants, I noticed a little funkiness in the zipper. I thought I could get away with it, but it's really evident in this picture. I'll have to get out the ripper before I wear these. Lately, my pants have been a little tight in the upper thighs. I used the alteration for increasing the thighs from Nancy Zeiman's Pattern Fitting with Confidence (or Fitting Finesse). I wish I'd lined these pants. The wool blend is comfortable next to my skin, but lining would make it even more so.

Monday, December 1, 2008

New Publications

While browsing in Borders and Barnes & Noble, I was fretting because it seemed there were no new sewing books or magazines on the market. Most of the books on the "needlearts" shelves were knitting and crocheting books - very few new sewing books. Luckily, thanks to online resources, I stumbled on some new sewing publications.

I'd heard about Stitch on Lori's Sew Forth Now podcast and looked for a copy. I found a copy at Borders and immediately picked it up. For an old sewer like me, Stitch is quite refreshing. The projects are modern and in most cases pattern pieces are included in the magazine. The cover promises "25 Contemporary Sewing Projects Inside" and the magazine delivers. It even includes full-size patterns (on a pull out sheet as in Burda World of Fashion) for three skirts. The sewing instructions for the skirts are included in a "How to" section along with instructions for fabric gift tags, a messenger bag and a Chakla Quilt. Something for everyone! I really like the messenger bag and will probably attempt it at some point. There were articles on green sewing and Natalie Chanin, author of Alabama Stitch Book, a sewer who uses handstitching and cotton jersey to create "eco-chic" clothing. The magazine should appeal new generation sewers - just what is needed to keep sewing alive.

A blurb in Stitch led me to The Dressmaker's Technique Bible by Lorna Knight (Krause Publications, 2008). It contains instructions on many basic techniques including waistbands, necklines, pockets and linings. There are also chapters on embellishment ideas - appliqué, couching, patchwork and piping. I call this book "Vogue Sewing Lite". The directions are not as detailed as those in Vogue Sewing and Vogue Sewing sometimes offers multiple options for the same task. For example, the welt pockets section in Vogue Sewing shows single welt, double welt and welt pocket with flap. In the Dressmaker's Bible, the only option is a double welt. The Dressmaker's Bible is illustrated with clear diagrams of the process and photographs of finished samples. The book is spiral bound so it's easy to have it open next to the machine. It won't replace Vogue Sewing as my "go to" resource, but it is good as a "refresher" for the various techniques included.

I purchased the Dressmaker's Bible from Amazon. Cool Couture by Kenneth King (Singer Studio, 2008) was suggested in the "customers also bought …" section. And, since I was in a book buying mood, I also bought it. King's book is as different from Knight's book as possible. King calls this book his "bag of tricks" and it is not your instructional book on basic construction techniques. The chapter on Pockets and Buttonholes includes, but is not limited to a Hidden Lining Pocket, Hidden Edge Pocket, and a Piped Welt Pocket. The samples in the photos are opulent and embellished just as you would expect from Kenneth King – true eye candy and lots of fun! My taste tends to be bland and boring conservative and classic. I'm honestly surprised that so many of the techniques appeal to me. I don't know if I will actually use any of them, but I love reading the book.

I'm happy to learn new sewing magazines and books are being published. I only have to keep my eyes and ears open to learn about them.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Too Much Fabric

Well, can't you see me standing here,
I've got my back against the [sewing] machine
I ain't the worst that you've seen.
Oh can't you see what I mean ?
From "Jump" (with apologies to Van Halen)

Van Halen's lyrics kept running through my head as I was organizing my fabric collection. I changed the lyrics a little, but the sentiment still applies. When it comes to fabric stashers, "I ain't the worst that you've seen."

My "Stash"

With all due respect to stashers, stashing is a practice I just don't get. I feel exactly the same way about majoring in Math. I respect and admire those who choose to do it; I just can't understand why they do it. I have ten pieces of fabric and for me, that's just too much fabric. Stashers may look at my fabric and see a laughable very small "collection"; I see a very long to-do list. I don't appreciate fabric for it's own sake the way some stashers do. If I see a beautiful piece of fabric, I think, "This will be good for a dress", or "I need a blouse this color". When I buy the fabric, I immediately assign a pattern to it and buy the necessary notions. That way, I have "projects in a queue" or "clothes I haven't made yet", not a stash.

After my shopping trip to NYC, I have ten projects in my queue. Usually, I have no more than four or five. Having so many projects lined up puts pressure on me to finish them. Under normal conditions, that wouldn't be a problem because I've always managed to finish what I start. Just the idea of ten unfinished projects is intimidating. Having so much fabric has taken away two of my most enjoyable pastimes - planning future projects and shopping for fabric. I can't plan anything until I finish what I already have. With ten unfinished projects, what reason do I have for visiting a fabric store? I don't need to buy any more fabric until spring. Having so much fabric puts restrictions on how I spend my spare time. As much as I love to sew, sometimes I want to do something else. How can I enjoy a movie or a book with ten sewing projects calling my name?

Since I stress like this over ten little pieces of fabric, I don't ever have to worry about SABLE (Stash Accumulation Beyond Life Expectancy). Stashing, like so many things, is relative. To me, ten pieces of fabric is a stash. To someone else, ten pieces is the result of a good day of fabric shopping. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I Heart NY

Actually, I don't scared smileys NY at all, but it is growing on me.

First, a little history. I was born and raised in a small city in Central NY State. (How small is it?) This city is so small, the entire population can fit into any big city's NFL stadium and we could each bring a friend from out of town. Then, I went to college on Long Island, NY. Because of it's proximity to New York City, I envisioned myself taking advantage of all of NY's cosmopolitan and cultural opportunities. That didn't happen. At 18, I didn't know myself very well and I discovered small-town me really wasn't comfortable with NYC's "big city-ness". I avoided NY for the next 30 years while I worked in another big city and lived in a first generation suburb. Now that I'm 30+ years older and live about 95 miles from New York, I'm more comfortable going there. I've come to actually enjoy shopping in NY's Fashion district. My most recent trip is a perfect example.

Photo credit: Lindsay T
Karen did a fantastic job of organizing a Shopping Weekend. She and Elizabeth from NJ, Cidell from MD, Trena from DC and Connie from Canada gathered in Philadelphia to shop for fabric. I joined the group for dinner Friday evening. Then on Saturday, Karen, Connie, Kisha and I traveled to NY for more fabric shopping. Lindsay T met us there. It was very cold and very fun.

Karen applied some pressure arranged a two hour visit to Kashi's Metro Textiles for the morning when he is usually not open for business. The four of us had no trouble making it financially worth his while (in our estimation, at least). Then we met Lindsay T for a hot lunch and then made our way to Pacific Trimmings, Paron and Mood Fabrics. I got to do my bad Tim Gunn impersonation and said, "Thanks, Mooood!" as we left. (Luckily, no one was paying attention.) Connie was the only one of us truly on a mission (sewing for TWO weddings) and we finished up at M&J Trimmings for wedding stuff.

If Connie was on a mission, then I was on a budget. But I was able to accomplish my very loose shopping goal, which was, "I need some dresses." Here is my stuff:

  1. Lightweight Italian wool for a tailored dress.
  2. Sweater knit that happens to match the Italian wool. This was serendipitious and I'll make a skirt from the wool if I have enough left over. Kisha's goal was sweater knits and I shamelessly took advantage of her search.
  3. Cotton for a simple, button-down blouse.
  4. Wool for pants to match the cotton.
I forgot my camera both Friday and Saturday so I have no other pictures to show. I lifted the group photo above from Lindsay T. But, I had a great time shopping and it was fun to meet and shop with Online Sewing Buddies. I may come to scared smileys NY after all.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My Quilt

I finally did it. I started a quilt – even though I believe sewers and quilters are two different species and I am definitely the sewing species. I think Amy's Lotus Brick Path Quilt is a good first project for me. There are no corners to match - just rows of offset rectangles. My plan is to work on it between my other projects (including Christmas gifts), so it will probably take several months to finish this quilt.

Already, I've had problems. According to the nice people in the store, I only needed two packs of fat quarters to complete the quilt. I'm convinced the store's display quilt was smaller than the quilt made from the instructions on the Amy Butler website. I was supposed to be able to cut four 4 1/2" strips from each fat quarter. Problem #1: many of the fat quarters in the coordinated packs I bought were cut short so I'm only getting six rectangles instead of eight. Problem #2 is an extension of the first problem. As a garment sewer, I prewash most of the fabrics before I cut them. So naturally I prewashed the fat quarters I bought. I lost up to 1/2 inch more on many of the fat quarters (that were already too short) when they raveled in the washer. So far, I'm not a big fan of quilting!

Problem #3: I am not good at coordinating fabrics; especially finding prints that look good together. If it weren't for the coordinated fat quarter packs I probably never would had started this train wreck project. Even so, the more I work with these fabrics, the less I like them.

Problem #4: I have absolutely the wrong attitude about this quilt. I feel like the child who makes a face and spits out the Brussels' sprouts after taking the smallest taste. I'm convinced I won't like quilting even before I start.

And, if the four problems mentioned above were not enough to derail this quilt, here is another reason why my quilt might never get finished!

The universe is clearly not with me on this one.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Freakin' Placket

Back when I was a Burdaphobe, I encountered a little treatment I fondly called "The Freakin' Collar". The method was totally new to me and I failed miserably when I tried to sew it. I'm happy to report, eventually, I did master the collar. Now that I'm a Burdaphile, new and unfamiliar methods don't phase me as much and I fearlessly faced what I prematurely named "The Freakin' Placket".

Here is the Freakin' Placket in a nutshell:
  1. The fold lines and center front were clearly marked on the placket piece with thread tracing.

  2. The placket piece was folded in half and stitched to the right side of the front. The seam allowance was pressed to the front and top stitched in place.

  3. Buttonholes were worked on the center front line.

  4. The outer edge was folded over to cover the buttonholes.

  5. The placket was finished with short satin stitch zig-zags to hold it in place.

It is really unfair to call this the Freakin' Placket, because it did not give me the same trouble the Freakin' Collar gave me. Eighteen months ago, this treatment would have intimidated me only because it was new and different. And honestly, when I first read the instructions, I freaked a little. But, now that I've had more experience with BWOF, I was more confident in my attack. To paraphrase Oliver Hazard Perry, "I have met the Freakin' Placket and it is mine".

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

Burda instructions really, really, really need illustrations. Sure, the fashion photo and the technical drawings are great. But, just a little more help in the sewing instructions would be so appreciated.

Looking at the photo and the technical drawing, I liked the hidden placket on the front, the top-stitching along the placket; and, oh – little stitches to divide the placket – how cute! But, reading the instructions brought about a WTF?!? moment. After reading the instructions many, many times, I could not picture any hidden placket I’d ever seen. Friends, therein lies the problem : “… any hidden placket I’d ever seen!!!”

The hidden plackets I'm familiar with have an opening on the outside of the placket for your fingers. BWOF’s opening is on the inside.

Since there were no pictures with the instructions, I learned this by making samples. First I used instructions from a back issue of Threads. (Thanks, Nancy K!) I used that sample as a point of comparison with the BWOF placket instructions. About two minutes into the BWOF placket, I realized there was no way BWOF’s instructions would produce the placket I'd just made using the instructions from Threads. After much pinning, basting and head scratching, I figured out that BWOF's placket opened on the opposite side. Actually, this "backward" placket makes perfect sense. Since you don't have to fold back and hold the placket, your hands are in a more natural position for buttoning. BWOF - Gotta love it!

This little journey of discovery made me think about how pattern companies translate garments into patterns. BWOF might do a literal translation. If the designer’s garment has a backward placket, then the pattern will have a backward placket. Other pattern companies, like the Big 4, might change the placket to make construction easier. Or maybe, BWOF’s placket is common in Europe and, from BWOF's point of view, the American interpretation is the "backward" one.

Sewing. Not just a hobby – it's an adventure.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Next: Burda Plus Fashion FW 08 #403 Blouse 404 Pants

I'm glad my last project was so simple. This blouse scares me a little. I'm going to have to venture away from the written instructions for one part of the blouse and depend on the written directions for another part. Talk about conflicted! I've never been a fan of BWOF directions, but totally disregarding them is not easy for me. I'm not comfortable bending or breaking rules. I've gone out on my own (not too far) in the past and I've been happy with the results. I'm going to have to get inspiration at Diary of a Sewing Fanatic and Pins and Needles to remind myself of what can happen when you toss aside the directions and personalize a pattern. Carolyn and Summerset are my heroes.

The changes I have in mind are really simple. I don't like the ruffle/flounce on the cuff. I'm not a ruffle-y flounce-y woman. Eliminating it won't be difficult; in fact, it will be fun. On the other hand, the hidden placket might not be so fun. To be more accurate, the BWOF directions for the hidden placket are not fun. This would be the place where illustrations would be really helpful. I've read the directions given several times and I'll read them again while I trace (to give me visual points of reference). Nancy Zieman addresses a hidden placket in Sewing Express. So, I have the resources; I have the inspiration. I just need to gain the confidence. It's only a piece of cloth, right? I'm not trying to solve the economic crisis. If this blouse turns out to be a success, I'll never have another fearful lapse in confidence again. (Yeah, right.)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Finished: Burda Plus FW 07: 404 Top & 405 Pants

Pants - 405

This time, I wanted a simple pair of pants with none of the design details I usually love in BWOF patterns.

Pattern Description: Fly front pants with hip pockets.

Pattern Sizing: Plus 44 – 54 (Plus range)

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes. I’m getting used to BWOF’s directions. I've learned to look for important information in unexpected places and to read the instructions completely.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? The waistband featured a bias tape finish (essentially a Hong Kong finish) that I haven’t seen in any other patterns, but I have seen in lots of RTW. It really makes a classy finish and I may use it again.

Fabric Used: Wool twill. (probably a wool blend)

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: Usually I add length to the crotch so the waistband is higher (think Ed Grimley). I forgot to do that in this case, but I still like the results. I added one inch to the pant leg length. I added an inch to the thighs using the pivot and slide technique from Nancy Zeiman's Pattern Fitting With Confidence. This alternation is now one of my usual pattern alterations; especially when a fabric "with or without elastane" (in Burdaspeak) is recommended.

Conclusion: Many BWOF patterns are not this simple -- especially the patterns I’ve chosen lately. This is a good starter pattern for anyone wary of BWOF patterns.

Top - 404

Pattern Description: Long sleeved knit shirt.

Pattern Sizing: 44 – 54 (Plus range)

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? yes

Were the instructions easy to follow? This pattern was so easy, the instructions weren’t really needed.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I was looking for a simple pattern and this pattern certainly fit the bill.

Fabric Used: A slinky knit, I think. I don’t usually sew knits, so I’m not even sure what a “slinky” knit is. It was knit, it had a sheen and it slid all over the cutting table. To me, that’s slinky knit. This is a busy print and I think it works well with the simple pattern. (Maybe, I'm finally learning that lesson.)

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: The sewing instructions called for trimming the neckline allowance and finishing with a serger. I didn’t like that treatment, so I serged and turned under the seam allowance. I used a narrow zigzag to top-stitch.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I would like to use this pattern with a sweater knit.

Even thought it took me two weeks to finish a "quick and easy outfit", these may be my "go-to" pieces when I need or want a new outfit fast.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Do Sewers Quilt? Do Quilters Sew?

I love patronizing independent fabric stores. Whenever I'm going to a new city, I use the internet to look for fabric stores in the area. Sometimes, the stores turn out to be primarily quilting shops. I recently learned about a new store in Philadelphia, Spool, that sells quilting cottons. I don't quilt, but that didn't stop me from visiting Spool. I've often thought about making a quilt, but I haven't yet followed through and actually made one. Maybe I'm afraid I'll run out of clothes if I stop sewing to make a quilt. I bought a book (Quilter's Mix & Match Blocks) and played around with piecing using fat quarters. I was never happy with the way my corners came together, so I didn't give quilting serious consideration. Then, I found Amy Butler's Brick Path Quilt on the Spool website. It is a quilt pattern in which my corners don't have to come together in precisely the same place. It's tailor-made for me. And best of all, I don't have to worry about selecting several different fabrics that coordinate. I'm convinced my head would explode if I tried to do that! I can buy coordinated packs of Amy Butler fat quarters. I even downloaded free instructions from Amy Butler's website. So what's stopping me from quilting? It seems to me that garment sewers and quilters are two different species - like dog people and cat people. ( Summerset and Nancy W. are two exceptions to the rule. Their quilts are beautiful.) Most of the independent fabric shops focus on either quilting cottons or clothing fabrics - seldom both. Are garment sewing and quilting mutually exclusive? Do they require different skills – different personalities? Please share your opinions and experiences.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Next: BWOF Plus Fall 07 #404 Top & #405A Pants

No one loves BWOF design details more than I do. But, every once in a while a woman just needs a break!!! My next project has no design details - none! The neckline on the shirt is just turned under - not so much as a band!!! If I complain about BWOF instructions for this project, I need to turn in my sewing machine. The hardest part will be laying out the knit for the top because knits don't like to stay where you put them. Other projects in my queue are more detailed, but at this time, I really want something quick and dirty. I will not get over-confident about this project, though. I am quite aware that Murphy's Law applies to sewing. This would be the time I cut a big hole in ……… no, I will not speak that into existence. Just because this is an easy project doesn't mean I'll finish it quickly. My schedule is full this week and I'll be away this weekend. This is a good time for a little hiatus from sewing – just long enough to make me hungry again.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Finished: BWOF 03-2008 127 & 126B

I took Lindsay T’s posts to heart. (July 14 and July 12, 2008) This project represents the first time I used an interfacing other than the Pellon I buy from JoAnn. I ordered Pro-Woven Fusible from Fashion Sewing Supply. Working with non-Pellon interfacing was quite an eye-opening experience. I kept thinking, “This really makes sense; woven fabric – woven interfacing.” The interfaced areas had noticeably more body, yet the fabric was not stiff.

BWOF 03-2008-126B - Pants

Pattern description: Pants with invisible zipper on the side, elastic in the back waist and double welt pockets.

Pattern Sizing: Plus size

Did it look like the photo/drawing once you were done sewing with it? One of the things I like about BWOF is the garments always look like the photo or technical drawing.

Were the instructions easy to follow: I’ve always said BWOF instructions were sparse, but that isn’t really accurate. It’s just that the instructions aren’t what I’m used to. There is essential information in places I’m not used to looking. For example, hidden in the "Seam and Hem Allowance" section, the instructions say to cut the seam allowance on the center panel 1 inch wide rather than the usual 5/8 inch. When reading over the instructions, I sometimes skip the seam allowances section to go directly to the construction directions. Needless to say, I was confused when I read the directions for the flat-fell seam: “Turn in panel seam allowance on side front trouser pieces 5/8 inch next to marked seam line, and press.” What the … ??? That sentence didn’t make sense to me when I thought the seam allowance was 5/8 inch.
The pants included double welt pockets in the back. I had little confidence in the BWOF directions for welt pockets. Luckily, I found help on the BurdaEnglish website and in "Pants for Real People". I also spent some time last summer practicing welt pockets.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I liked the decorative flat fell seam on the front of the legs. It adds a subtle decorative feature. I also like the double welt pockets on the back. I think double welt pockets add a little class to garments.

Fabric used: 100% cotton twill

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: The only pattern alteration was to add 1 inch to the length.

Conclusion: Making these pants will have a lasting influence on future projects. First, I no longer fear welt pockets. As long as I don’t try to take shortcuts, welt pockets are not that difficult. Second, working with the Pro-Woven Fusible interfacing was a dream. (NAYY) I don’t think I’ll be going back to Pellon.

BWOF 03-2008-127 Blouse

Pattern Description: Long sleeved blouse with princess panels on the front and back

Pattern Sizing: Plus sized

Did it look like the photo/drawing once you were done sewing with it? Yes

Were the instructions easy to follow: I’m becoming more familiar with BWOF English translation. The instructions presented no problem.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? As usual, I like BWOF’s design details. The shape of the hem, the collar, the princess seaming all appealed to me. However, the design details presented challenges. Practically every seam had to be eased in some way or another – sometimes quite a lot.

Most of the time, the ease could be controlled with 50 million pins.

When attaching the rounded corner of the hem band to the bottom of the blouse I used long gathering stitches, but I had to be very careful so it didn’t look gathered. In addition, the seam allowances in the corner had to be clipped.

Fabric used: 100% cotton. Fabric with lycra was recommended. I didn’t use it, but I wish I had. The blouse is a little snug. I used Pro-Woven interfacing in the blouse and I was thrilled with the results.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: Usually I lengthen blouses. I didn’t in this case but I should have. Since I chose not to use a stretch woven, I should have increased the bust a little. I don’t have wiggle room the bust area.

Conclusion: My expectations for this blouse were high and I am I a little disappointed. But the fault is my own. I was being lazy. I should have lengthened the blouse as I usually do, and I should have used a fabric with stretch. From now on, I’ll pay more attention to the fabric recommendations.