Friday, May 30, 2008

Sewing Room Temporarily Closed

My sewing room will be closed for about a week. I have to prepare for DD's graduation and party and there won't be much time for sewing. In addition, I have to take apart my sewing room when I have guests. My sister and brother are coming to town for my daughter's high school graduation and the associated festivities. She is the salutatorian and she has received awards for community service and I'm extremely proud of her. So, I don't really have a problem with using the sewing room to accommodate family members who are also proud of her. I have three siblings and we all live in different parts of the east coast. We are rarely in the same place at the same time. For this occasion, three out of four of us will be together. Time with the family is rare. My sewing room will always be there.

Monday, May 26, 2008

BWOF 03/06 #131

I love the design details included in BWOFs. They make the garments I sew look more like RTW and less like homemade. However, those details often present a challenge and elevate the pattern to 3 dots. These pants are a good example.

(click to enlarge images)

The front pocket looks deceptively simple: self fabric flat piping at the top of the pocket and inserted into a dart. But, add BWOF's infamously translated directions and 2 hours of my Sunday morning were gone! I'm not complaining. These details are the reason I love BWOF so much. But, pictures would have helped. Halfway into the process it occurred to me, "This must be a three dot pattern." Doh! The process included careful slashing of the dart prior to sewing; sewing the piping while keeping the rest of the front out of the way; and sewing the front unit to the yoke exactly on the same seam of the dart. Whew! My eyeballs were sore from reading and re-reading the directions. My bottom lip was swollen from being bitten in deep concentration. I have a bald patch from scratching my head.

But it's finished to my satisfaction.

Nothing boosts your confidence like a three-dot BWOF. I feel such a sense of accomplishment for having finished this. Having pictures included in the instructions would have really helped, but where's the challenge in that?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

They'll Have to Pry BWOF out of My Cold, Dead Hands

Some Burdaphiles try to make something out of each issue before the next issue is published. Many are successful and I salute them. But, that has never been my goal. I was satisfied when I made an outfit from the Spring/Summer 2008 Burda Plus Fashion before the Fall/Winter 2008 issue came out 6 months later. My next project is a milestone for just the opposite reason. This blouse is from my very first issue of BWOF - July 2004 – the oldest issue in my collection. Styles have changed in four years but not that much. Blouses are more fitted these days. But, with my midsection, I can’t wear fitted blouses anyway. Besides, I've never been a trendy fashionista. Even though I don't make something out of every issue, I am definitely getting my money's worth. Of the patterns I've reviewed on PR, 62% are either Burda World of Fashion or Burda Plus Fashion. I try to use other patterns – I really do. I always look at other pattern company's catalogs whenever I'm in JoAnn's. I've made several Burda envelope patterns. I like Vogue patterns, but one Vogue pattern costs more than one issue of BWOF (even with first class postage rate). Butterick used to be my favorite pattern company, but even Butterick doesn't excite me the way BWOFs do. There is nothing for me to do but continue to anxiously wait for BWOFs to arrive every month and make sure I always have tracing paper on hand.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Finished: Kwik Sew 2923

This is my outfit for DDs graduation. It was so easy, I almost didn't blog about it. I'll probably spend more time looking for the right jewelry than I spent sewing this. You can't beat Kwik Sew for something fast and easy.

Pattern Description:
From the Kwik Sew site: Women's skirt and tops. The pull-on flared skirt has elastic in casing at the waist. The View A top has bust darts, a V-neckline, a front button closure, side hemline slits, ties on the back and full length sleeves. The View B pull-over top has bust darts, a faced V-neckline, side hemline slits and short sleeves with slits.

Pattern Sizing:
1X - 4X

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

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Kwik Sew's instructions are always so easy to follow. The pieces are so simple you don't really need instructions. The instructions for the skirt consisted of no more than 3 steps.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I wanted a fast and easy skirt and top and this pattern was perfect.

Fabric Used:
The skirt is made from a cotton/linen blend and the top is linen; both from JoAnn.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:
The long sleeved version of this top has a tie in the back. The short sleeved version has no real design details. I felt guilty because the top was so simple, so I put a tie back on my short sleeved top. For modesty's sake, I also added a lining to the skirt and I shortened the skirt considerably.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
This is a perfect pattern for anyone learning to sew. I will probably sew it again when I need another quick, summer skirt.

This outfit was so easy, I almost feel guilty reviewing it. I made the top in a few hours on Saturday and the skirt in a few hours on Sunday.

The Next Step: Drafting a Pattern

For a long time, I've wanted to try drafting a pattern. I have a book with easy instructions. I have a guinea pig (my DD) with a body more typical than mine. School will be out in a few weeks and I'll have some extra time. I've been reading Make Your Own Patterns by René Bergh, and drafting a pattern seems like something I can actually do. I'm going to start with a simple A-line four panel skirt for DD. I've asked myself why would I take on the challenge of drafting a pattern for a simple skirt when I already have several skirt patterns. The answer is simple; to quote British climber George Mallory, "Because it's there." Every once in I while, I need a new challenge. Sewing is the safest area in which to challenge myself. Another reason to try drafting a pattern is to use tools I bought ages ago. Several years ago I enrolled in a certificate program in Industrial Fashion Methods at Philadelphia University. One of the tools we had to buy was a square but I never really had a chance to use it. I also bought a contraption that turns a plastic ruler into a compass. Both of these tools could be used to draft the skirt pattern. I've already spent the money on the book and necessary tools, I might as well draft a pattern.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

I've Been Tagged

1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Turn to page 123
3. Find the fifth sentence
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people and acknowledge who tagged you.

Sherril has tagged me. I’m not reading anything at the moment and all of my unread books are upstairs. So, I closed my eyes and randomly chose a book from the bookcase next to my desk.

An Ordinary Woman by Donna Hill

“You think I don’t know how broken up you were after Steven … and Carl? Of course I do. It wasn’t easy for you. It’s never easy for a woman to lose the man she loves.”

Wow. How shallow. How cliché. Maybe I need to up my game and read something with more “literary merit” (to quote DD's English teacher). Nahhh. I read for the same reason I sew – to relax and escape from the grind of daily living.

Everyone I know has already been tagged. As a matter of fact, I was beginning to feel left out because no one tagged me. It seems this game has run it’s course, but it’s been fun reading everyone’s contributions.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Finished: Burda Plus 403B Pants & 406B Shirt

The Bottom

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I like the 20,000 miles of edge stitching (made easy by an edge stitching foot). the back, the side and back panels in the legs. The technical drawing shows the design details that attracted me to this pattern. I questioned the pleats at the knees and I haven't decided yet if I'm bothered by the fullness these pleats produced. In spite of all the design details, these pants were easy to sew.

Fabric Used:
A sateen finish bottom weight from Vogue Fabrics by Mail. It seemed the blouse fabric coordinated better with the pants fabric when I looked at the small swatches. I don't like the fabrics together as much now that they are made up as clothing.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:
I was forced to make some design changes. For some reason, the selvage on this fabric was very wide and I lost two inches of width. Subsequently, there was not enough fabric for the back pockets or the tabs that allowed the pants to be rolled up to capri length. I won't miss the pockets, but I really wanted the capri option. As a rule, I lengthen the crocth by 3/4 inch (I don't like even a hint of low rise) and the legs by 1 inch. I really didn't need the extra length in the legs.

I'm disappointed that I couldn't include all of the design details I liked in these pants. But, they are comfortable and are perfect for Mid-Atlantic spring-turning-into-summer weather.

The Top

After years of experience, I'm finally used to BWOF directions. However, pictures would have helped in this case. When sewing on the neckline area of the front facing, you stop at the point where the collar begins. This point is marked by a clip. Being a creature of habit, I sewed the entire length of the facing and when I realized my mistake I had to rip out the stitching. A picture would have reminded me that the stitching stopped halfway up the neckline and I might have avoided that mistake.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I liked the design details; the decorative drawstrings, the bust darts from the armscye, the double darts in the back; the slits in the sleeve. Now that I'm familiar with the method, I like the way BWOF does collars. The roll line is sewn-in and is defined and stabilized by the seam.

Fabric Used:
Oxford cloth from Vogue Fabrics by Mail.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:
None, although I could have lengthened the blouse by an inch or two. I need to spend some time fitting the high bust and neck area of blouses I make. Everything seems to settle to far back and I lose any interesting collar details because they are on my shoulder and not on my chest. (Time to hit the fitting books again.)

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I might sew this blouse again in a lighter weight fabric and without the collar. I would recommend it to others.

Because of the sleeve length and fabric choice, this is a good top for transitioning from spring to summer.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

So Much to Sew; So Little Time

Graduation is getting closer and we have nothing to wear!! In the interest of time, I'm going to sew something (gasping for breath and clutching chest) NON-BWOF!

For myself, I'm planning to make this Kwik Sew (view B). I was considering this skirt and blouse from BWOF, but I've made that outfit already. Been there - done that. Besides, I need something fast and they don't call it Kwik Sew for nothin'. I want to make this outfit with as little stress as possible. As much as I love BWOF, they can be a little stressful. I'm using a white linen/cotton blend for the top and a red and white floral print for the skirt (both from JoAnn). My skirt will be considerably shorter than pictured.

DD will be wearing this Hip Skirt from Favorite Things Patterns. Believe it or not, I originally considered this Hip Skirt for myself. I thought "Hip Skirt" meant looking hip, (as in "Hey man, that skirt is hip") not hanging from the hip! I am SO stuck in the 70s, it's pathetic. DDs skirt is a light blue cotton print that looks very summery. Both outfits are quick and easy. It will probably take longer to trace and cut out than to actually sew.

So, I'll be spending every waking minute in the sewing room trying to finish my current BWOF outfit and these graduation outfits. I hope somebody remembers to come and check on me every now and then.

Friday, May 2, 2008

The Last Prom Dress

I wish I could show the faces of DD and her prom date. They made a really good looking couple. But, I made her remove her picture from Facebook and it would just be wrong if I did what I wouldn't let her do. Besides, this is sewing blog, so I'll talk mainly about her dress.

The dress was very easy (McCall 4450). The fabric is a crepe backed satin from JoAnn and is a little drapier than their Casa Collection for Special Occasions. I underlined with organza and lined the standard Casa Collection lining. DD doesn't like a lot of fullness in her dresses -- she doesn't want to look fat. The hardest part was sewing the beaded trim on top of the bodice. The trim was just two or three hairs too wide to fit under the foot (#12 - bulky overlock foot) and it rolled up on itself when I used the zipper foot. I had to hold the trim flat with my finger or an awl while I sewed. I made a matching shawl (with more of the pesky trim), which DD has balled up in her fist in the photo.

Now, back to the prom. A group of 24 prom attendees boarded a "Party Bus" to prom. The after prom party/sleepover will be held at the point of departure. I think the host family deserves a special place in heaven. They are entertaining a group of high school seniors near the end of their high school careers. There were only three house rules. (1) Males and females must remain separated after "lights out" - 4 am (2) Anyone who has a car at the house must surrender the keys until departure (to stop anyone from sneaking out) and (3) NO ALCOHOL. I'm a little wary about the sleepover part of the festivities, but it's really the safest way. The hosts are no-nonsense people and I'm certain they will enforce the house rules. (Please, God!) They've done this before with their other children. Regardless, I'll be a little apprehensive until DD is safely home and I can debrief her about the prom and the after-party.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Living & Sewing in the Digital Age

I am always amazed by the things we can do in the 21st Century. This week, I experienced how digital, fiber optic, satellite technology influences even the humble act of sewing.

On Tuesday, my sister called me (on her cell phone) from North Carolina. My 5 year old niece was singing with her Kindergarten Chorus on Thursday. They were singing songs from the 50's and my sister wanted my niece to look the part. She called so we could brainstorm about Niece's outfit. We settled on plain, 5-pocket jeans rolled up to capri length and a shirt (think Bye, Bye Birdie). Then my sister found out the girls had to wear skirts with white blouses. Sis wanted to keep with the 50's look, so she wanted a poodle skirt. In spite of her husband buying her a sewing machine a few years ago and me buying her Sewing 101, Sis has never sewn a stitch. I believe she wanted me to make the skirt Tuesday night and FedEx it to her by Thursday. But, since we live in digital, fiber optic, satellite, high tech era, that wasn't necessary (or practical).

I photocopied pages from Make Your Own Sewing Patterns that illustrated cutting a pattern for a circle skirt. I faxed these pages to Sis. While I was driving to the library to make the copies, Sis was at Walmart shopping for fabric and notions. Again, we used cell phones to communicate in real time about what was needed, and what was available at Walmart. Once she got home, we got back on the phone and I talked her through cutting-out the skirt. Sis has never sewn a stitch, but she can do amazing things with Stitch Witchery and fabric glue! You see the results of our 21st Century, high tech collaboration -- an adorable black and pink polka dot poodle skirt with pink sequins for the chain! Thanks to digital photography and home computers, on Wednesday morning, less than 24 hours after our first conversation, I checked my e-mail and saw my beautiful niece wearing her poodle skirt.

We live in an age that allows us to have cell phones so we can talk from anywhere to anywhere. We can reproduce pages from books thanks to digital photocopy technology (and old fashioned public libraries). We have fax machines in our homes. I'm able to share the experience through my blog. This would not have been possible or practical 10 years ago. The only thing missing is the ability to beam myself to North Carolina to see my niece perform!