Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Finished: KS 3586 BPF FW-09-404

 Blouse:  Kwik Sew 3586
I've made this blouse a gazillion times. Nothing much to say about it.  I've used this blouse pattern so many times because by now, I can sew it with my eyes closed. Gotta love those TNTs!   Kwik Sews are especially amenable to becoming TNTs because they are so easy in the first place.   I always seem to get wrinkles that go from the first button to the shoulders.  I'm not at all sure what to do about it.  Maybe it's my posture, maybe it's button placement.  The second button is not buttoned and maybe that's the problem.  I dunno.  

Pants:  Burda Plus Fashion FW-09-404
The last pair of pants I made were a little snug in the belly.  I'd been in denial for the past few projects, but it was time to pull out Pattern Fitting with Confidence (Zieman, 2008) and pivot and slide a few pattern alterations.  I lengthened the crotch, increased the waist and increased the thighs.  The result was a more comfortable pair of pants.  I could have done without the increased waist, so a small bit of my ego was salvaged.  I took a chance and made these changes based not on actual measurements, but on my perception of my own body.  I admit not measuring was a risk.  I'm sure fitting purists would have been shocked.  I recorded the flat pattern measurements and posted them on the bulletin board for future reference.  But,  I'll probably make slightly different adjustments when I make my next pair of pants.  I'm treating every project like a muslin, which is not a smart practice. 

Considering the number of pattern changes I made, I'm convinced the pivot and slide technique is the easiest method for pattern alterations.  Yes, it took three tracings, but I buy tracing paper in 50 ft rolls.  What else am I going to use it for?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Giving in to a Book Addiction

My best friend is married to an addiction therapist.  Given our personal connection, I wonder if he would be violating any professional ethics if he gave me a few sessions – gratis, of course – to help with my book addiction.  On one hand, I'm giving away piles of Burda magazines because I simply don't have space to store them.  At the same time, I'm buying more books.  Isn't that a sign of addiction?

My most recent purchase was The Dressmaker's Handbook of Couture Sewing Techniques by Lynda Maynard.  Whenever I think of couture techniques, I think of Claire Shaeffer, so I couldn't help comparing the two approaches to couture sewing.  Many of the techniques in Maynard's book are not "couture" in the Claire Shaeffer sense of the word.  Where Shaeffer's techniques are traditional and learned in a Paris atelier,  Maynard's techniques seem more contemporary and bring to mind Fashion Week in New York.    The techniques are divided into three categories:
  • Bindings and Finishes e.g. Banded V-neck on knit fabric, Banded V-neck on woven fabric, Piped double-fold bining on woven fabric, and Baby French binding  
  • Design Details: On Show e.g. Channel-stitched accents, Petersham "Peek" seam, Hong Kong finish on the outside, and Button-on Garment Sections.
  • Design Details: Concealed e.g. Couture Waistband, Organza "Bubble" hem finish, balanced dart, and couture dart.
There is a chapter on Designer Underpinnings in which Maynard tells how fabrics can be "enhanced or inhibited by backing or underlining with various companion  fabrics" and a chapter called Directory of Luxury Fabrics in which she describes fabrics and discusses applications and practical points.  The final chapter is Essential Couture Techniques.  This chapter includes the more traditional couture techniques such as French seams, hanging loops, hand bound buttonholes and covered snaps.

I like the way the book is organized.  The first section of the book is a "couture technique selector" in which the included techniques are listed with short descriptions, thumbnail photographs and page numbers.  I can browse the section, select the desired technique then flip to the directions in the body of the book.  The instructions for the techniques are clear and the photographs enhance the instructions. I also like the spiral binding which allows the book to lay open next to the sewing machine for easy reference.

Maynard's book contains both style details and construction techniques.  For example, there are several methods on applying binding to edges.  One might find the same techniques in a comprehensive sewing book like Vogue Sewing, not a book on couture sewing.  However the use of these techniques goes beyond the basic instructions and elevate the garments beyond typical home sewn garments. 

I have never met a sewing book I didn't like and I admit I didn't need this book (especially since I plan to buy the revised and updated edition of Claire Shaeffer's book when it's released).  But, I'm sure I will eventually use one or two of the techniques.    After reserving it at Borders, I went to the store planning to look through it objectively and critically before making the purchase.  I was fully prepared to walk away if it didn't meet my expectations.   Who was I kidding?  Isn't that the way an addict deludes herself?  I was convinced I was meant to own this book when I got to the register, presented my Borders Rewards card, and got a 33% discount!   After I buy Claire Shaffer's book, I won't buy any more sewing books – and I mean it.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I'm Down with OPP

You down with OPP (Yeah you know me)
Who's down with OPP (Every last homie)
You down with OPP (Yeah you know me)
Who's down with OPP (All the homies) 

          From O.P.P. by Naughty by Nature

Author's Note:  My definition of OPP is infinitely cleaner than Naughty by Nature's definition.  I mean Other People's Projects.  And I'm more "ambivalent" than "down".

Gingham toddler jumper
My OPPs are few and far between.  I sew for a sewing ministry that was started at my church.    I'm thankful that I have a skill and passion for sewing and the means to indulge it.  I believe the best way to demonstrate my gratitude is to sew for the ministry.  (Remember the Parable of the Talents).  Our primary purpose is to make clothes for infants and toddlers in shelters, but we've also sewn walker bags for a seniors in an assisted living facility owned by our church.  I feel good after the sewing is finished, but in the back of my mind I'm thinking, "I can't wait to get back to my own sewing!"  Clearly, my motives need adjustment.  Thoughts like that defeat the purpose of sewing for a ministry.

Crib quilt and dust ruffle draped over the coffee table
My other OPPs are baby's room accessories for my sister and my soon-to-be-nephew.  My sister was so excited when, after a long and disappointing search, she finally found fabric she loved for the baby's room.  Her happiness was contagious.  I sent her a picture of the crib quilt when I finished it and she called me back immediately to tell me I was "the best big sister in the world"!  I could hear her smile over the phone.

Which brings me to my point.  OPPs aren't bad when they are appreciated.  I  am happy to be sewing for children in shelters and my pregnant sister.  Even when sewing for unappreciative clods, I'm building good Karma.  These occasional projects keep things in perspective and force me to tame that little selfish sewer inside of me.   Most sewers readily admit that OPPs can be a PITA and we do as few of them as possible.  But I think we enjoy the feeling of making someone else happy and sewing for a greater good.