Thursday, December 30, 2010

Finally: A Plan

I've wanted to sew a SWAP for years, but  I knew I couldn't sustain the motivation to sew up to eleven! count 'em, 11! pieces that worked together.  I settled on a mini-SWAP as an alternative.  Even with the bar lowered, I didn't have patterns that cried out to be sewn into a collection.  But then, the stars and planets aligned and the patterns fell into my lap - or out of my mailbox, to be more accurate.  The January 2011 issue of BurdaStyle contained a pattern collection that just might work!
The colors are actually much richer than shown.
I already had the main fabric.  Way back in March 2010 I bought five yards of a crepe-looking wool blend.  At the time, I had no idea what I would do with it, but it was on sale at JoMar for  $1.60 a yard and I couldn't walk away.  The quest for the blouse fabric took me back to JoMar and I found a coordinating solid.   I wanted to include a simple collarless blouse or knit top to wear under the jacket.  I thought I'd found the fabric – a solid cream colored silky polyester, similar to the mauve.  When I got home from JoMar, I realized I was missing that cut of fabric.  I laid my fabrics down while Annette, Karen and I searched through three bins of buttons and I must have left it next to the bins and gone to the register without it.  I learned two lessons from that little mistake:
1. pay closer attention to what I'm doing
2. the cream color was just too boring.
I really wanted a knit anyway. 

So, my first mini-SWAP wardrobe collection has been added to the queue!  For me, a SWAP or four or five pieces is motivating, while eleven pieces is downright frightening.  Hopefully, I'll get to it before Winter ends.

Parting shot:
This photo shows the fabric colors better, but there was a big, gray piece of fur on the fabric that I couldn't edit out.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Hack:  1. Someone in the film industry, usually a director, who works on projects solely for financial reasons, rather than creative reasons.   2.  a person who is a professional at doing some sort of service, but does crappy work.
edited from Urban Dictionary

I'm in danger of becoming a "sewing hack".   I'm churning out countless garments without stretching my skills or creativity.  It's time for a change.  Currently, I'm working on another pair of fly front pants.  Only this time, I'm using new-to-me techniques from Making Trousers for Men and Women (Coffin, 2009) and from Easy Guide to Sewing Pants (McIntyre, 1998). 

The first challenge was a modification on the hip yoke pocket.   I based my technique on that described in Easy Guide to Sewing Pants and I extended the pattern piece all the way to the cut edge on the fly extension. 

I've done this before and I'll use this modification again, but with a shorter extension. If I'm using self-fabric, the extension doesn't need to be as long as the zipper opening.  That just adds more of the bulk I'm trying to remove.  Another option would be to use the method described in Making Trousers for the front pockets.  The front pockets are made of lining fabric and faced with self fabric only where the facing/lining would be visible. This would also remove bulk.

Next, I wanted to reduce bulk at the waistband.  Coffin recommends petersham ribbon rather than self-fabric to face the waistband.  Real petersham ribbon (not grosgrain ribbon) wasn't easy to find in the local brick and mortar stores.  I found two online sources:  Judith M and Vogue Fabrics Online Store. 

The petersham makes a great waistband facing.  It's firm and provides a good deal of support.  I was so eager to sew, I didn't remember to shape the petersham at the ironing board first.  This resulted in a little wonkiness on the outside, but it's a negligible wonkiness. I like this technique too, but I need to work on it a little more.

I intend to up my game and try new techniques to avoid becoming a hack.   Maybe my mojo occasionally leaves me because it's bored.  Instead of blindly following the instructions, I need to look at every project and decide the best way to construct the garment.  A funny thing – when researching online for information on the new methods, I found references to books already on my bookshelf!  I had all the information I needed to avoid hackiness (hacknicity?), but I wasn't using it.  Sewing is a journey and I've been on the same road much too long.   I can continue to use familiar  methods over and over or I can challenge myself and actually learn something! 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Check Me Out!

My serger had to go into the shop for a little maintenance, so I've been working on a quilt.
But ……… my sewing room is featured on Blue Gardenia's Blog!  What an honor! 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Open on Saturday!

I've always wished I could shop in NYC's Garment District more often.   I was operating under a misconception.  In my mind, a Garment District shopping trip meant taking a day off work because most stores were closed on Saturday.  I had evidence to back this up.  I was told many of the stores honor the Jewish Sabbath.  I'd shopped in the Garment District on Saturdays, but special arrangements were made.  Metro Textiles opened when Karen promised and delivered fabric shoppers with money to burn.   Then,  Elizabeth convinced  Metro Textiles and Elliot Berman to open on Saturday for a large group of eager shoppers.  Annette of FabriCate & Mira recently visited the Garment District on a weekday and she noted many more stores were open on weekdays.  So, based on my limited experiences and information, I assumed a shopping trip on any given Saturday would be disappointing. Thankfully, my eyes have been opened.  I don't know how or why I allowed myself to believe otherwise, but I can have a meaningful shopping experience on a Saturday.   I found this out by reading Lindsay T's Shop the Garment District website.   True,  Metro Textiles and Elliot Berman are closed, but eight out of the eleven featured stores have Saturday hours.  Most of the trim stores are also open.  I am no longer limited to the dwindling number of independent fabric stores in the Philadelphia area.  I can jump on a train any Saturday.  I'm sure I could convince the other Philadelphia fabric friends to come along.

See Shop the Garment District for more information.

It's funny how you get a wrong idea in your head and convince yourself that it is the truth.  I wish I'd  come to this realization sooner.  I don't see a shopping trip in the near future.  It's almost Winter and I do my best shopping when I'm not freezing to death.  But, another Spring is coming and if my budget implodes because of fabric purchases, I can always blame Lindsay T and her website.   I consider Lindsay T a friend and if you can't deflect blame to your friends, then what are friends for?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Finished: Burda Plus Fashion FW-07-404 & 405

This outfit represents the last of the fabric I bought during PR Weekend 2010. I can't believe I held on to it for five months!  I knew I wouldn't be sewing them until the Fall even though I bought them in May.  But still - five months?!?

Top  BPF FW-07-404 
The right side of this fabric has a velour-like pile and the wrong side looks like a knit.  It reminds me of a less beefy version of a velour bathrobe.  (I'm amazed at what I don't know about fabric!)  Patterns don't get any simpler than this: three pieces – front, back and sleeve.  This top was shown using a sweater knit so the neckline was not bound, but turned in.  I added a french binding to the neckline because I prefer that look.  I also move the neckline up about 1/2 inch.  Otherwise, this top would have been just too easy!  This is going to be a TNT top for me.  In the winter, I live in jeans and knit tops.  This pattern will definitely get used for more knock-around tops.  I'm determined to sew more knits and this simple pattern is a good one to use.  

Pants  BPF FW-07-405A 
For some reason, the designers decided these pants needed a sewn-on fly facing.  Since I  already took a walk on the wild side when I changed the neckline on the top,  I threw caution to the wind and decided against the sewn-on fly facing.   I just taped the extension pattern piece to the front and continued happily.  The fabric is rather heavy and a sewn on fly facing would have resulted in extra bulk at the fly.

A recent post on Nancy K Sews caused me to think about waistbands.  I pulled out Making Trousers for Men and Women (Coffin, 2009), read the information and studied the samples on the accompanying DVD-ROM.  More often than not, the waistband was faced with petersham or lining fabric rather self fabric.   Since I didn't plan for any waistband modifications for these pants, I didn't have any petersham or lining fabric on hand.   I used bias binding on the bottom the the inner waistband.  I like the look, but the waistband is still bulky.  I am definitely going to investigate further so I can produce a less bulky waistband.

I was able to finish this outfit relatively quickly.  I fought a cold for most of the long Thanksgiving weekend.  The cold won so, except for Thanksgiving Day and a few quick but necessary errands, I stayed home and spent most of my time in the sewing room.