Sunday, April 29, 2012

Finished: BPF SS-2008-404C

Burda Magazine patterns remind me of Ike & Tina Turner's version of "Proud Mary". I can almost hear Aenne Burda singing:

"Y'know, every now and then
I think you might like to sew something from us
Nice and easy.
But there's just one thing
You see, we never, ever do nothin' 
Nice and easy.
We always do it nice …… and rough!"

I needed a pattern for a nice and easy pull-over top. The closest thing I found was from the Spring/Summer 2008 issue of Burda Plus Fashion; a simple, short sleeved pull-over top with shirring on the front.  I wasn't looking for anything with shirring, but one of the reasons I like Burda is the design details they include on the simplest garments.

Burda's instructions for binding the neckline seemed a little rough so I used an easier french binding technique.  The binding doesn't lay flat against my body the way I would have liked.   I checked other reviews on PR and a few other sewers had the same issue.  It's not like I'll be wearing this top to a State Dinner at the White House, so it's okay.

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I wouldn't describe the shirring as rough, but it was fussy.  It was easy enough to couch the elastic using Bernina's Embroidery foot which has a little hole through which the elastic was threaded, but each of the four rows had to be gathered a little shorter than the previous row.  And six rows had to fit into less than two inches of space.  It took some time to arrange the gathered rows evenly.

Karen gave me the rayon challis because she knows how much I like things to match. This fabric has lots of colors in it and is easy to match, just as she predicted. It just so happens, this fabric looks good with the two bottom weight pieces I bought at G-Street recently.

Even with the rough spots, I was able to finish this top in one day.  I'd like to make it again using a knit fabric.

Monday, April 23, 2012

But I Never Win Anything!

On a recent morning, I found this in my email inbox:

Congratulations!  You are one of our five March Lucky Threads Insiders.  Each month we select members to receive a prize and our March prize is our 2011 Threads Magazine Archive.  You can see more information on the Archive here -  The DVD should ship out tomorrow and you should receive it in the next few days.  Congratulations and thank you for being a Threads Insider!

 Robinson Senior Marketing Manager
Fine Cooking
Fine Homebuilding
Fine Woodworking
Fine Gardening

It's my nature to be a little suspicious. Was it safe to click the link? Was my computer being infected with some horrible virus?  Yes, I paid for a Threads Insider subscription, but I never win anything!

A few days later, this arrived:

My luck has changed!  Maybe I'll buy a Mega Millions lottery ticket!  Maybe I'll meet Idris Elba in the supermarket and he'll insist on taking me off to Brazil for a wild, guilt-free, three-day weekend!  And when we get back, I'll find I won the lottery!

Or maybe I should just count my blessings and watch the DVD.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Finished: B5721

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I love camp shirts for warm weather.  I haven't seen anything that looked like a camp shirt from Burda, my first choice in patterns, since April 2006.  I'm trying to move away from my "All Burda – All the Time" stance and sew other pattern companies, including Big 4.  Butterick used to be my favorite pattern company and I was happy to find B5721 for a warm weather blouse.  (The May 2012 Issue of Burda Style has a short sleeved button-up blouse 05-2012-135  but the issue arrived after I'd already started this blouse.)

I bought the fabric, a cotton-poly blend, to coordinate with pants fabric I had, but decided to go another way for that blouse.  That made this fabric perfect for experimenting with a non-Burda pattern.  Butterick didn't let me down.  I like the way this blouse turned out.

There was a little too much sleeve ease.  In addition to my usual finger easing,  (or "ease plus")  I used a method I saw demonstrated by Louise Cutting.  Cutting's method takes advantage of turn of cloth to ease in the extra fullness.  This method is done while pinning the sleeve to the armscye and didn't take any extra time and very little extra effort.  I don't know if piggy-backing two techniques is recommended, but it worked in this case.

Since this was a test garment, I didn't agonize over selecting buttons.  I dumped my buttons out of the jar and onto the fabric and discovered antiqued metallic buttons that looked good. They weren't even green! OMG!

This may be the first pattern from the women's size range I've sewn.  Usually I choose patterns from the misses size range.  Who comes up with theses labels anyway?  Somehow, I feel older and more matronly sewing women's than I did sewing misses.  While this crushed my body image and dented my self esteem, I have to admit, the blouse fits.  Just one more way the universe has of telling me I'm getting older.

Monday, April 16, 2012

My First Hot Pattern

I'm probably the last person on earth to try Hot Patterns.  What's not to like?  There is a great variety of designs from current and trendy to timeless and classic.  All designs come in plus sizes. There is even a whole line called "Plain and Simple" which describes my tastes exactly!  I decided it was finally time to try Hot Patterns.

For my first attempt, I chose HP1133:  Plain and Simple Fitted T.  I had over three yards of a knit I didn't like anyway - just in case the pattern didn't work out.  I chose the size based on my measurements and the fit was too awful to photograph.  With the leftover fabric I tried a second shirt two sizes larger and the fit wasn't any better.  The top really needed darts. The fault was not Hot Patterns' though. My body is just not suited for a fitted t-shirt. The fabric was perfect for experimentation so I really didn't mind throwing it away on two poorly fitting t-shirts. And the shirts sewed up very quickly so I didn't waste a lot of time.  There is a Plain and Simple Relaxed T-shirt that I may or may not try.  So far, I haven't warmed up to Hot Patterns.  (warmed up to Hot Patterns - get it?)

I ordered two patterns:  the t-shirt and HP 1120:  Classix Nouveau Primavera dress.  I still want to make the dress before I completely give up on Hot Patterns.  I'm sure I can find some $2.00/yd fabric at JoMar that I would like well enough if the dress works out and that I won't mind getting rid of if it doesn't.  When I read Hot Pattern reviews on PatternReview, they seemed to need lots of tweaking.   Trudy, the designer, always recommends making muslins, but I have been able to get away with not making muslins when I use Burda patterns.  I liked the online support available for HotPatterns on YouTube, but the YouTube support won't matter if I have to spend extra time fitting and making muslins.

I really want to like Hot Patterns.  I'm trying explore other independent patterns and to loosen the ties that bind me to Burda.  But if the dress pattern is as disappointing as the t-shirt pattern, I'll probably end up doing a giveaway.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Spring Break

At the MLK Jr. Memorial
I just returned from a visit to northern Virginia and Our Nation's Capital. My daughter and I split the distance between us and met there to spend a few days together.  The main purpose of the trip was to see the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

We stayed in Fairfax, VA and our hotel was about 5 miles from G Street Fabrics' Falls Church location.  My original plan was to visit the Rockville, MD location while in the area, but when I realized how close I was to Falls Church, the plan changed. This location seems to have more square footage than the Rockville location (The Rockville store relocated to a smaller site a few years ago).  When you walk in, you think you are entering a small Bernina dealership, but when you go downstairs, you find yourself in a huge fabric store.  It felt a little cavernous – there is room for a lot more merchandise without the store being over-crowded.  I think of G Street Fabrics as a department store because of their wide selection and their prices. I took a quick peek at a price tag in the Designer department ($59/yd), and my purchases averaged $12/yd but great bargains can be found on the $2.97 table.

I needed fabric for spring/summer sewing and here is what I bought:

This light green waffled knit, from the $2.97 table, will become a polo shirt.

My daughter has developed and interest in cooking and my friend Denise designs and sews aprons.  Because she is a huge fan of SpongeBob Squarepants, she selected this pineapple fabric for her apron. (Five bonus points if you know the connection between SpongeBob and a pineapple.)

This pumpkin colored cotton twill will probably be shorts.

The khaki colored twill (with a little lycra) will end up as classic chinos.  This fabric is also from the $2.97 table.

The cotton shirting coordinates with both bottom weights.

I'm working on a quilt in which the binding was to be pieced from the scraps leftover after cutting the block pieces.   Wouldn't you know it, I was short about 8 inches.  This batik will finish the binding.

Even after buying all this fabric from the Falls Church location, I was tempted to stop at the Rockville, MD location on the way home.  Traffic on I-495 was horrible so I dismissed the idea.

This was an exceptional spring break.  The next time I see my daughter will be next month at her graduation from the University of Virginia.  That occasion is likely to be more hectic and won't be conducive to quality mother-daughter time together.  She is much more tolerant of my fabric shopping time now that she is older so we had a wonderful time together.