Saturday, May 30, 2009

Next: BWOF 03-07-129 Blouse & 130 Pants

I rarely use a pattern twice. It's not that I have anything against TNTs. I'm too ADD to have a TNT. For me, it's BTDT. However, while looking through my BWOF (no more initials - I promise) index, I realized the pattern that best suited my purpose and the fabric was a pattern I'd already used. I was really happy with the way it turned out the first time, so there was no reason not to use it again. The fabric came from my trip to G-Street in April. Both pieces came from the $2.97 table. The blue print is a cotton. A stick-on label said something about "Chaus", so I may have scored something from a famous manuafacturer. The ecru is a stretch woven. I'm sure I bought the same fabric in a different color on my first visit to G Street in 2007. It's more of a transition weight than a summer weight, but it's hard to say no to $2.97 a yard.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Finished: Vogue 7903 & 2913

My Grand Today's Fit Experiment is over and I consider it a success.

V 7903 - Blouse:
It's been years since I've made a Big 4 pattern for myself. I chose this pattern as my re-entry into Big 4 because Today's Fit patterns are based on a new and different set of standard measurements.

Pattern Description:
From the pattern envelope: "Semi-fitted shirt (fitted through the waist) has collar and collar band, front facing or self-lined front, and long or above elbow sleeves with buttoned or turn back cuffs."

Pattern Sizing:
Today's Fit patterns go from Size A - 32" bust to Size J - 55" bust.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Whether the blouse looked like photo/drawing on the envelope is apparently up to each sewer. This blouse is described as "semi-fitted" and I consider my blouse to be "semi-fitted". I searched PR for reviews of this blouse and it's apparent "semi-fitted" means different things to different people. Some people preferred a looser fit and other a more fitted silhouette.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
I liked the "teaching" nature of Today's Fit instructions. More information is included than simply how to put the blouse together. There is information on fitting and different construction options are presented, i.e. fully lined front v. front facing. Betzina's sewing instructions recommend a French seam. I can't remember ever using a French seam in a garment, and I seriously considered using one in this blouse. I practiced making French seams so I would know how much to sew the first time, how much to trim, and how much to sew the second time. After several practice seams, I wasn't confident that my final stitching was actually 5/8" away from the original cutting line. So, I ended up not using the French seam. French seams would have worked nicely in this soft cotton fabric. The instructions included the Islander method of sewing the collar and collar band. In this method the collar and neck area are rolled into the band. This method was new to me but I was able to do it using the instructions provided without consulting another source.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
Most Today's Fit patterns are not my taste. This shirt was one of the more classic, conservative designs. I liked the fit of the waist area. I was prepared to eliminate darts to get the room I needed around my belly. But, that wasn't necessary.

Fabric Used:
I used a 100% cotton shirting. I really like sewing with natural fibers. The cotton is so soft and has a wonderful hand.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:
A muslin told me to lengthen the blouse and remove some ease from the bust area. I used Pivot and Slide method to decrease the bust circumference. I liked the turned up cuff on the short sleeve, but I just didn't want to include it. The cut-out notch in the collar (view C & D) was intended to mirror the cut-out notch in the sleeve cuff. Since I didn't include the cuff, I also switched the collars and used the un-notched collar from view A.

Would you recommend it to others?
Yes, I would recommend this blouse. It's a classic style.

I essentially gave up Big 4 patterns a few years ago and I used this pattern to give them another chance. This Today's Fit pattern still had lots of ease, which is one of the reasons I gave up Big 4 patterns. The pattern adjustments I made were relatively easy, but still more than I wanted to make.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

V 2913 - Pants
Since I made a Today's Fit shirt, I had to make Today's Fit pants as part of my Today's Fit experiment.

Pattern Description:
From the pattern envelope: "Straight-legged, fitted pants have contour waistband and fly closure." In other words, the same fly front pants I've made a thousand times.

Pattern Sizing:
Today's Fit sizing, which includes 10 sizes from Misses to Plus Size.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes, for the most part.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
The pattern instructions included lots of extra information on fitting and techniques you don't normally see in pattern instruction sheets. Betzina's instructions included interfacing the fly front area, a step I always forget and interfacing the hem, I step I never consider.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I chose this pattern primarily because I wanted to experience a Today's Fit pattern, not because of anything I particularly liked. The extended waistband is a nice detail, though.

Fabric Used:
lightweight poplin

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:
After making a muslin, I decided to add 1 inch to the waist. I also added 1 inch to the length. I'm going to move the buttons over to get rid of the wrinkles under the waistband in that area.

Would you recommend it to others?
Way back when I was a beginner, I referred to Vogue Patterns as Vague Patterns because of the instructions. The instructions in this pattern were very clear and I would recommend this pattern to beginners with moderate experience.

Now, the question is: "Will I make more Today's Fit or Big 4 patterns?" These patterns required more pattern adjustments and fitting than I'm used to doing. But, it's the construction process, as much as the finished garments, that keeps me sewing. A respected sewer reminded me pattern adjustments are just part of the process. (Thank you, Respected Sewer!) I shouldn't dismiss entire pattern companies just to avoid them. BWOFs will always be my first love for their stylish design details. But, I will also consider Big 4 patterns more often.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Something's Gotta Give

A recent post by Cidell has forced me to confront a looming problem. Cidell, enterprising young woman that she is, photocopied "At a Glance" pages and organized 60 copies of BWOF on what she called a "lazy Sunday" (hardly!). My problem isn't organizing my BWOFs, but a related issue – storing them. I have reached the point where I have no more room for BWOFs.

Currently, I have 5 years of BWOFs stored in plastic expandable files in a bookcase. The index to these issues is conveniently on the same shelf. But, the shelf is now full and I have few options.
  1. Limit my BWOF collection to 5 years. This is a practical solution. Ann Rowley, a respected BWOF user who posts at Stitcher's Guild, keeps only 2 years of BWOF back issues. She says she wouldn't buy garments that were more than two years old, so why would she keep BWOFs that are more than two years old? This position makes perfect sense. But right now, I can't bear the thought of getting rid of even one BWOF issue.
  2. Get rid of other sewing books to make room for more BWOFs. I tried getting rid of little-used sewing books by having give-aways. In six months, I've given away only four books. Not good enough. My local library accepts donations, so this option holds promise.
  3. Store additional BWOFs in another area of the sewing room. The very small closet in the sewing room is full and not a viable option. There is barely enough space in the closet to hang works-in-progress. Besides, I already have back issues of Threads Magazine stored in the closet.
I vowed to keep sewing paraphernalia within the confines of the sewing room and not let it spread to other areas of the house. My fabric collection is limited to two plastic bins on the bookshelf. (A larger stash is totally out of the question.) It's obvious, even to me, these steps I’ve taken so far have been insufficient. The solution is clear. I’m going to have to “man up” and get rid of lots of stuff. For example, I have a volume from the Singer Sewing Library – Sewing Update 1988. Do I really need to keep that one? My immediate plan is to continue to slowly get rid of seldom used books until I'm strong enough to do a full-scale purge. It’s going to be like waxing unwanted hair. Sure, it’s painful, but it only hurts for a little while.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Hello – Goodbye

No sooner than my daughter returns home from her first year at UVA, she's off to study abroad in Morocco! Yes, Morocco. (I can't get Crosby, Stills & Nash's Marrakesh Express* out of my head!) If she weren't my daughter and I didn't love her so much, I'd be awfully jealous. The farthest I've been from home is San Fransisco. It will be a fantastic opportunity and experience for her. For six weeks, she and her classmates will be alternating between four days taking French classes in Rabat and three days traveling throughout Morocco. I just hope she doesn't get kidnapped by Bedouins. (No offense to my Bedouin readers!)

* CLICK for a little flashback from my generation!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Vogue 7903 Muslins: Before & After

This is the first muslin of the first Vogue Pattern I've made in I-don't-know-how-many years. This is straight out of the envelope - no pattern adjustments at all. I saw the following issues:
  • The blouse is too short. It will be easy to add about two inches to to bottom.
  • The top points of the waist darts are too high. Back when I had a waist, I was slightly high-waisted. The darts are in the general area of where my waist used to be. My breasts dropped at about the same time my waist disappeared, so I'll have to lower the top dart points. I was prepared to eliminate a waist dart if I needed more room, but (Thank you, sewing gods) it wasn't necessary. My new BFF Sandra Betzina promised "increased girth" around the waist and she delivered.
  • There is too much room in the bust area. I like the shoulder fit, but the bust circumference could be decreased. Imagine that. Me. Decreasing the bust (or any) circumference.
I posted the before picture in the Critiques thread at Stitcher's Guild and most people saw the same issues.

Now, this is more like it! I added two inches to the bottom. I like the hemline where it is, so I'll use my rotary cutter guide arm to add a hem allowance when I cut out. I lowered the top points of all of the waist darts by 3/4". I used my favorite method of fitting patterns and pivoted 3 inches out of the bust circumference. After the changes, the blouse looks more like the picture in my mind.

I'm glad I made the muslin first, but I'm not used to so many fit issues that need attention. I can make BWOFs practically "straight out of the envelope". I haven't decided if this experience will keep me away from future Today's Fit patterns. I liked the challenge of identifying fit issues and problem-solving to fix them. But I don't think I'd like a steady diet of it. Now, on to the pants.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Am I the Only Soap Fan?

One of my guilty pleasures is the CBS soap opera, The Bold and the Beautiful. Most of the characters work in the fashion industry in some capacity.

This picture is lifted from the episode that aired on May 13. Take a close look at the bookcase in the picture. Recognize any of the books?

Yes, that's Roberta Carr's Couture: The Art of Fine Sewing.
A+ for the set design department!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Next: Vogue 7903 & 2913

I admit it. When it comes to sewing, I exhibit quite a few OCD tendencies. I haven't been formally diagnosed, but I know it's there. My next project is a perfect case study.

Several weeks ago, I decided to try Sandra Betzina's Today's Fit patterns because of the promise of "new pattern sizing" 1 and patterns that "run true to the numbers".1 For the past 2 years, I've made BWOFs almost exclusively (OCD tendency #1). So, when Vogues were on sale, I bought a few Today's Fit patterns. I did not consider regular Vogues, only Today's Fit. (OCD tendency #2) I assigned some fabric to the blouse pattern and found a BWOF pattern for the pants. I prefer to make coordinating outfits rather than individual pieces. (OCD #3) Since I was experimenting with a Today's Fit blouse and since Vogue patterns went on sale again, I decided to extend the experiment to Today's Fit pants. I mean, I couldn't wear a Vogue blouse with BWOF pants. (OCD #4) so I set aside the BWOF pattern in favor of a Vogue pattern. I actually felt some relief when I had matching Vogues – as if I'd averted some catastrophe! (Definitive OCD!) Of course, I can tell myself that I'm simply experimenting with a different pattern company and I need to experiment with both blouses and pants. But deep down inside, I know that really isn't the case. It's just a touch of OCD.


1 Power Sewing Step-by-Step, Betzina, Sandra, Taunton Press 2000

*~*~*~*~*~ Breaking News *~*~*~*~*~

The winner of the Sew Easy Embellishments give-away is Summerset!
Congrats, Summerset.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Finished: Kwik Sew 3276

Pattern Description: Jacket and skirt with tank top. Skirt has elastic waist.

Pattern Sizing: 1x - 4x

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? Kwik Sew instructions are always easy to follow. I didn't follow them to the letter and I realized too late, I should have. The instructions said "Fold under raw edges [of facings] 1/4" and press". I thought I knew better and serged the raw edges instead. When the jacket falls open, as it is certain to do, a serged edge, not a neatly folded edge will be visible. Lesson learned: think about changes before I make them.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? Kwik Sew patterns are not known for their style or design details. I chose this pattern because it was well-suited for a specific occasion. If there is anything to like, it's that it was quick and easy.

Fabric Used: Skirt & jacket - Polyester/lycra micro-gabardine; Top - 100% polyester – both from Vogue Fabrics by Mail

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: The instructions for the tank top were to simply overcast the neckline and armholes, fold 3/8" hems to the wrong side, press and stitch. I used a double bias binding instead.

Conclusion: This pattern makes up quickly and easily into a nice summer outfit.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Giveaway: Sew Easy Embellishments

Are you ready to add some glam to your creations? Would Sew Easy Embellishments by Nancy Zieman help inspire you?


Product Description: Using full-color photos and clear diagrams, Nancy Zieman leads readers step by step through a variety of embellishments, offering her signature "Notes from Nancy" to teach shortcuts and time-saving methods. Instructions for approximately 50 projects, including clothing, table linens, and wall hangings, are included.

To enter, simply tape your name to a new Bernina 830 (cabinet optional) and ship it to me at …… no, seriously … just send an e-mail to with "Giveaway" in the subject line. Deadline for entries is Sunday, May 10, 2009. The winner will be randomly selected and notified by email. (No international entries, please)


I'm borrowing a concept from online fabric sites and offering my own version of the "Mystery Bundle". The winner of this give-away will receive a second book on a related topic. I'm not divulging the title of the book (that's the "mystery" part). But I will say this: if you are interested in adding artistic elements to your projects, the mystery book is a good first step. (I can say no more!)

Disclaimer: This give-away is a personal venture and is not affiliated with Nancy's Notions ®, SWN Productions and Tacony Corporation.