Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Threads Industry Insider Techniques DVD

I asked Santa for this DVD. Apparently I was a naughty little girl because Santa did not bring it to me. So I bought it for myself. Before I sat down to watch it, I decided how I would judge it. If I learned something new, I'd be happy. If I learned something I could actually use, I'd be thrilled. Well, I'm thrilled!

Louise Cutting is the "Industry Insider" on the DVD. I'd seen her on TV (Sew Much More, I think) and I liked the techniques she demonstrated. I intended to buy her booklets, but never did. I suspect the techniques demonstrated on this DVD (and on the 2nd volume) are the same ones in her booklets. I'm a visual learner and I prefer having the DVD.

The techniques demonstrated are
  • Fuse and Interface a Hem
  • Hem Sheers With Ease
  • Mold the Smoothest Darts
  • Draft & Sew a Perfect Collar
  • Miter an Asymmetrical Corner
  • Create Bulk Free Facings
  • Serge Quick French Seams
I saw Cutting demonstrate the collar technique and the french seams before. Everything else was new to me. I'm sure I'll use the dart techniques and the mitered corners in future garments. Since this is a DVD, the techniques are arranged in chapters and you can skip to the chapter you want to see. The camera work is very good. The close-ups allow you to see exactly what is being done.

I'm going to buy Industry Insider Techniques, Vol 2 also. I'm not even going to waste my time asking Santa.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Finished: BWOF 08-08-129 or I Love Natural Fibers!

In a perfect world, I'd sew with only natural fibers! The last two blouses I made were of microfiber and that was like sewing MDF board. After that, sewing this 100% cotton blouse was a dream.

Pattern Description:
This blouse is tunic length and has long slide slits. It has vertical waist darts to give it a slimming silhouette.

Pattern Sizing: This blouse is one of BWOF's plus size offerings.

Were the instructions easy to follow? The main problem I have with BWOF instructions is the way they are translated. For example, substitute "fold" for "lay" in this passage and the instructions make more sense: "Fold front edges to inside of blouse at pleat fold and topstitch fold edge the marked width. Lay front edges forward again, lay pleat to one side and press." Why did the translator use "fold" at the beginning of the instruction and then change to "lay"? However, the more one uses BWOFs, the easier the the instructions are to understand.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? The blouse has tucks at the sleeve cap, a design detail I haven't often seen. The original design called for mismatched decorative buttons sewn randomly within the front placket. I liked that detail, but eliminated it for no particular reason.

Fabric Used: The cotton I used was tightly woven and appropriate for cold weather. This fabric behaved so nicely while it was being sewn! It held a crisp press, fusible interfacing really stuck to it and hand sewing needles passed through easily.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: The original design had elastic cuffs. I'm not a big fan of elastic cuffs so I changed the design by adding a cuff and placket. I narrowed the sleeve because it would not be gathered into the elastic and I used pleats to manage the fullness. I drafted a rectangle for the cuff and used the placket from Shirtmaking: Developing Skills for Fine Sewing (Coffin, 1998). I really like Coffin's method for sewing a placket. The method has lots of steps but the results are well worth it. Now that it's too late, I might have preferred a continuous placket in this blouse. Coffin's tailored placket looks best in a "man-tailored" blouse. The sleeves and the placket are a little incongruous. I made a muslin to determine the length of the cuff, but I guessed at the amount by which I narrowed the sleeves and the depth and number of pleats.

Conclusion: Normally, I sew coordinated outfits and this blouse has coordinating pants waiting to be sewn. I'm not crazy about the longer length and maybe this blouse might look better with pants other than jeans. If necessary, I'll cut off a few inches to make a more conventional length.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Reason #1,284 Why I Love BWOF

I live a very casual life. I wear pants to work everyday and I usually change into my "play clothes" - jeans - when I get home from work. I only dress up for church, including weddings and funerals. So, I often wondered what someone of my body type and age would wear if I attended a dressy affair. BWOF to the rescue! The plus size collection in the March 2009 issue suits my tastes perfectly. I can imagine a solid color dress with a brocade jacket. The sheath dress is boxy enough to compliment my silhouette and the jacket camouflages my belly. I like the skirt from this issue, also. Another issue, Burda Plus Fashion FW 2008 had a nice collection of evening wear, including a top that would work nicely with this skirt. I wish I had a nice formal affair to go to so I could sew this outfit!

^ * ^ * ^ * ^ * ^ * ^ * ^ * ^ * ^ * ^ * ^ * ^ * ^ *

Daisy is the winner of the give-away, Rip It! by Elissa Meyrich, who was a student and instrutor at Parsons School of Design. (Did you know the infamous Kenley of Project Runway is, or least was an instructor at Sew Fasy Sew Easy, Elissa Meyrich's school?) Congrats, Daisy! E-mail your mailing address to me.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Next: BWOF 08-08-129 Blouse & BPF FW-08-411 Pants

After giving my sewing room a good cleaning, I'm ready to start my next project. I am so ready for winter to be over, I'm making this is my last winter project. Everything after this project is considered "transition". I'm using wool for the pants that has the potential to irritate my skin and make my legs really dry and ashy so I'll be lining them. The blouse is a tweedy looking cotton. I bought both pieces on my last NYC shopping trip. (Doesn't it sound like I shop in NYC all the time!) It's hard to tell in the photograph, but the fabrics are brown. I like the browns, but they don't thrill me. Is there a law that says we have to wear somber, dark colors in winter? If so, it's time to repeal it. Show me a bright color before I scream!

I'll probably change the cuffs on this blouse. I don't own any blouses with elastic cuffs. Maybe I should have at least one, if only for the sake of variety. But then, maybe the reason I don't own a blouse with elastic cuffs is because I really don't like them. And yes, those are more tucks on the sleeve cap. Lately, I seem to be in a tucking rut.

The pants, from Burda Plus Fashion, have a subtle, but unusual detail with the hip pockets. The seam extends past the usual point at the hip and goes down into the thigh. Plus size BWOFs have details I see nowhere else. That's one of the reasons I like BWOF so much. The plus size offerings from the Big Four are pretty homogenized and I can't imagine them having hip pockets like these. Before I adopted my "All Burda – All the Time" policy, I felt like I was making the same blouse or pants over and over again, regardless of the pattern. I've never had that feeling with BWOF.

With the lined pants and the tucking sleeve cap, this project could take quite a long time to finish. So, I have a nice, long audio book to listen to as I work on this outfit – Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier. This book is a perfect choice for wallowing in the misery of winter. Hopefully, this outfit and audio book will be the last cold things I'll have to deal with this season.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Giveaway #2: Get Creative

Give-away time again!

Sewing doesn't have to start with a pattern. You can deconstruct and reconstruct clothes already in your closet.

From Barnes and Noble:
Rip It! shows how simple and fun it can be to transform a tired wardrobe into hip, one-of-a-kind new looks without spending a dime. Elissa Meyrich, owner and teacher at the popular New York sewing boutique Sew Fast Sew Easy, has been passing her sewing secrets and style tips on to students for years. Now she shows beginners and experienced sewers everywhere how to customize pieces found at cheap chain stores, thrift shops, or the far reaches of a closet and create fabulous new designs.
  • Jazz up old t-shirts with stretch lace and zippers
  • Turn faded, falling-apart jeans into a hot new denim skirt
  • Change a pullover into a cute cardigan
  • Make a thrift-store dress into a hipster skirt
  • Create an instant poncho

I thought I'd try something a little different for this giveaway. Don't worry - it's easy! To enter the drawing, answer the following question:

According to Elissa K. Meyrich's biography on the Sew Fast Sew Easy website, what famous New York school of design did she attend and serve as an instuctor?

Put the correct answer in an e-mail to with "Give-away" in the subject line. Deadline for submissions is Sunday, February 15, 2009. The winner will be randomly drawn from entries with the correct answer. (Sorry, no international entries)

Disclaimer: This giveaway is a personal venture and is not associated with any author, publisher or school.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Finished: BWOF 07-04-133

I love this dress! I didn't love it in it's original form - a long blouse - but I love that I changed it into a dress. BWOF has design details that I almost always love - in this case it was the pintucks. I also love the fabric. It's a tropical weight wool that drapes beautifully and feels great to fondle and even better to wear.

The orignial design had side slits. I was prepared to include them, but luckily I didn't need them for walking ease. I think the slits would have added a casualness to the dress that was incongruous with the fabric.

About half way through this dress I began to get nervous. When the front and back were sewn together, I tried it on and I was really happy with the way things were going. That's when I started to get nervous. I thought to myself, "I'm really loving this dress!" and I was afraid something would go wrong!

A Little BWOF Mystery: The cuffs were supposed to be pintucked, too. After marking and sewing 19 pintucks in each outer cuff, the outer cuff was considerably smaller than the inner, un-pintucked cuff. I assumed I'd pintucked the wrong cuff, so I checked the measurements and cut new cuffs. During this, I realized I had NOT pintucked the wrong cuff. According the the instructions, there are supposed to be 19 pintucks in the cuff 5/8 inch apart and sewn 1/8 inch from the fold. The cuffs were the same size after only 5 pintucks were sewn. There is either something I missed in the instructions or my beloved BWOF provided bad measurements. I prefer to think BWOF made the mistake, although that is unlikely.

I almost ruined this dress with the wrong buttons. I was obsessed with finding the right color button. I was able to match the color, but, blinded by my obsession, I didn't realize the buttons did absolutely nothing for the dress. Carolyn advised me to think of the buttons as jewelry for the dress. That statement woke me up and I went out to get better buttons. Moral of the story: sometimes you do have to sweat the small stuff.

NB: I used the word "pintucks" fourteen times in this post and the previous post. Call Guiness! That's gotta be a world record!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Muslins: A Necessary Evil

It's not a secret - I don't like making muslins. I think they are a waste of time. Even after I made pants that fit as horribly as any pants have ever fit; pants that would have been saved if only I'd made a muslin first; I resisted making a muslin for BWOF 04-07-133. But, people whose sewing skills I admire and respect, advised me to make a muslin for this project. There are 18 little pintucks on the front. Each of the 18 pintucks had to be traced with a tracing wheel and carbon, then thread-traced so the lines would show on the front, then pressed to make a stable fold, and then stitched 1/8 inch from the fold. While making the muslin, I discovered thread tracing by machine wasn't the best option, so I thread-traced 18 pintucks on the actual garment by hand. That's a total of 36 little pintucks - 18 of which will never be seen because they are on the muslin. Just thinking about this ordeal makes me tired all over again. Whew.

I've always known the advantages of making a muslin, but I never liked making them. Yet I'm glad I made this muslin. When I tried it on, I was so relieved that it fit. I had that sense of peace of mind when I started the actual dress so I didn't really mind making the pintucks 18 more times. (Well, maybe I minded just a little.) While I don't allow myself to get overly upset about wasting fabric on a failed project, if I'd had another fitting disaster with this dress, after all those time-consuming little pintucks, I may have lost my mind (up in here). So, I'm working to change my attitude about muslins. I won't lie and say I'm going to make a muslin for every project. But, if there is any doubt about the fit of the finished garment or if there is a potentially tricky design detail, I'll grit my teeth and just make the darn muslin.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sincere Thanks

I really enjoy blogging! I enjoy writing my own blog and reading other sewers' blogs. I enjoy the online and the real-life sewing buddies I've met through blogging. It's great to have people with whom I can share my passion for sewing. I learn from the blogs I read and I learn when I do postmortems on projects for my own blog. For those reasons, blogging is a rewarding experience. So, I was really honored when -E, SewingShay, Omega and JC nominated me for the Kreative Blogger Award. These awards always come with obligations. (To whom much is given, much is required. Luke 12:48)
  1. Copy the award to your site. (√)
  2. Link to the person from whom you received the award. (√)
  3. Nominate 7 other bloggers. (uh-oh)
  4. Link to those on your blog. (wha?)
  5. Leave a message on the blogs you nominate. (sorry)

But I must be honest. I simply can't fulfill Requirements 3 - 5. There are dozens - scores - possibly hundreds of blogs better than Another Creation. I know this because the all of the blogs I would nominate have already been nominated.

So, let me say publicly, Thank you -E, SewingShay, Omega and JC for nominating Another Creation! Thanks to anyone who takes the time to read Another Creation. Thanks to the readers to take additional time to comment. Your attention is truly appreciated.