Thursday, December 27, 2007

BWOF 11/06 #132 Progress Report

While I'm on Winter Recess (what we used to call Christmas Vacation), I'm working on my BWOF 11/06 #132 jacket. The timing is serendipitous. If I didn't have long blocks of time to work on this jacket, it might take months to finish. I'm confident I'll finish it before I go back to work. A detailed progress report follows:
  • I block fused AngelWeft to the bouclé. I can't imagine working with this fabric without first block fusing. Carolyn was the first to suggest block fusing; Kathryn and Liana at Stitcher's Guild suggested AngelWeft. If I could, I would fall down and anoint their presser feet! Even after the block fusing, this fabric tended to ravel a little. I also serged the raw edges after (and sometimes before) seaming.
  • I made piping to dress-up the lining. This gave me a reason to buy a new presser foot for my machine. I went to King of Prussia (a notoriously crowded shopping area in suburban Philadelphia) on Christmas Eve to get a cording foot. (And this was after buying the wrong foot the day before!)
  • I made the lining and I remembered to install my "little labels" and use seldom-used decorative stitches on the lining. (fig. 1)
  • Rather than a hem and a vent, the sleeves have a facing and a slit. Much easier, in my opinion - especially with the ravelly fabric. (fig. 2)
Fig. 1

Fig. 2

The next major task will be bagging the lining. I anticipate some challenges. Even after lengthening the jacket during the pattern work stage, it was not long enough to suit me. ( I really should have made a muslin.) So the hem allowance is quite small. I'll have to do some fudging adjusting when its time to sew the lining to the hem allowance.

Luckily, while I was working on the jacket, Bravo was showing a "Project Runway" Marathon on the day after Christmas! I've never been a big fan of reality shows (because they usually have nothing to do with reality) so I've only seen bits and pieces of Project Runway. But, OMG! That show is riveting! The back-stabbing! The lying! The gossip! And, oh yeah, I almost forgot – the clothes! I must admit, It made my sewing more fun!

Friday, December 21, 2007

BWOF & Ottobre

I received my first Ottobre Woman magazine. It arrived from SewZanne’s in less than one week. Nothing will ever replace BWOF for me – I’m a die-hard fan. But, I am looking for more pattern company options so I did a little "compare & contrast."
  • I decided to try Ottobre because I’d read most of their designs go up to size 52. Burda only has five or six plus size offerings per issue. The Fall/Winter Ottobre has 16 (out of 20) designs up to size 52.
  • Ottobre Woman is published only twice a year. A subscription to BWOF brings new patterns to my door every month!
  • I've compared the measurement charts to BWOF and Ottobre runs a little smaller than BWOF. The difference is 1/2 inch to 3/8 inch. But I'll be making a muslin when I make my first Ottobre garment to assess the how much difference the 1/2 to 3/8 inch makes.
  • Ottobre's pattern sheet is smaller and more manageable than BWOF’s and the paper is sturdier. Even though I’m familiar with BWOF’s pattern sheet, the Ottobre pattern sheet looks more intimidating. BWOF uses different lines, i.e. dashed or dotted, to differentiate sizes. No so with Ottobre. Sizes are marked at two or three places along the cutting line, though, so you can find you way back if you get lost.
  • Ottobre's directions are slightly more detailed than BWOF's directions. It seems as though they were translated by someone who understands English. However, measurements within the directions are given only in the metric system.
  • The models in Ottobre look like real women. Some are over 30 years old, under 6 feet tall and weigh more than 100 pounds. And, they are posed so you can actually see the clothes. BWOF seems to have forgotten how to do that.
  • The biggest difference is Ottobre’s designs. They are more classic and not as trendy and fashion-forward as BWOF. That won’t be a problem for me since I'm a classic woman. Furthermore, the simplicity of the designs will allow me to make design changes.
I'm looking forward to working on my first Ottobre pattern. Despite these minor differences between BWOF & Ottobre, but I don't expect to have any problem with the construction. If there are no major fit issues, Ottobre may become my second favorite pattern company. BWOF & Ottobre should compliment each other nicely in terms of building my wardrobe.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Quick Tip: Eco-friendly iron cleaner

My 18 year old daughter is very eco-conscious. This tip comes from her. After block fusing 4 yards of bouclé, my iron was a gunky mess. I had no iron cleaner and I was preparing to drive 20 minutes to get some. My daughter suggested using canola oil to clean the iron once it cooled. I didn't really want to drive to JoAnn's, so I tried it. It worked! I poured a little canola oil on a paper towel and wiped the soleplate of the iron with it. With just a little pressure and circular wiping, the iron was clean! I didn't have to inhale that noxious iron cleaner. I'm not sure if there is something magical about canola oil or if any oil would have done the job.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Snow Ball Gown: Epilogue

I finally got my daughter into the gown I finished two months ago. She really had no choice. The Snow Ball was tonight! Actually, she tried it on last week so I could hem it, but Milady would not allow her picture to be taken at that time. Much too busy, you know. I would have loved to show the entire picture, but my daughter doesn't want her face online. I wouldn't let her put her photo on Facebook, so I didn't push the issue. That would make me a hypocrite. (How many parents have been accused of hypocrisy?) I didn't have permission to put her date online, so I had to crop him out, too. Trust me – he looked handsome and she looked beautiful!

Fortunately, Daughter's tastes are very basic (much like her mom) and the dress was very easy to make. I underlined it with organza and lined it with the coordinated lining JoAnn sells. I would have preferred to use a fabric with some natural fibers in it, but I we only went to JoAnn's to shop. When did teenage girls get too busy to shop? I love sewing for her, but she doesn't realize the time commitment I need from her for shopping and fitting. Maybe I better get started on the Senior Prom dress now!

Friday, December 14, 2007

The 1st Step to Recovery

Hi. My name is Elaray and I'm a fabri-holic. I've been denying my stash for years, but I'm finally ready to own the fact that I'm a stasher! In 12-step parlance, I "hit my bottom" today. I came up the lamest reason for buying fabric anyone has ever heard. This afternoon, I went to Fabric Row to buy buttons. The plan was to buy the buttons and come home. Truth be told, I was setting myself up to fail. PA Fabric Outlet has a phenomenal selection of buttons and is right next door to my favorite Fabric Row store - Kincus Fabrics. How could I not go in when I was right next door? I found a fabric I loved almost immediately. And, the lame excuse I gave myself – Snow is predicted and I can sew if we're snowed in. That is so weak; so like a person who is out of control! What about the other seven pieces of fabric I already have? I mean, how much snow is predicted, anyway!!! So, my days of denying that I'm a stasher are over. The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. Except, I don't really want to recover. It's actually liberating to finally admit it to myself. Besides, there is nothing wrong with keeping a moderate amount of fabric on hand.

Now, back to the buttons …
I'm looking for buttons for my jacket. So far I have three choices. In spite of the many colors in the fabric, I decided gray would be the safest choice. (What does that say about me? - Boring!) It was really hard to find the right gray - even in a store with a 25 foot wall of button boxes! The top button is actually the back of the middle button, and that is the one I liked best. But, now that I've objectively studied the photograph, I think I might forget the gray and go back to find a real color. (Any suggestions and opinions would be greatly appreciated!) And if I go back, I'll be right next door to Kincus Fabrics again! There is no hope for me anymore.

Edited to add:

This is the fabric that forced me to confront my addiction. I really love this print and I can't wait to use it!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Next: BWOF 11/06 #132 & #137

My next project is from the November 2006 issue of BWOF (#132 Jacket #137 Skirt). My interpretation will be much less formal than the velvet pictured in the photo.
I'm using the bouclé I bought from Metro Textiles last Summer and the skirt will be black. I'm using an OOP Burda envelope pattern to make a short sleeved shell to wear under the jacket. I realized that I have nothing suitable for church so my goal is to make more dresses and skirts. The bouclé ravels like crazy so I decided to underline it with some plain old broadcloth. Since I'd have to sew around the edges of the cut pieces to control the ravelling, I might as well sew on an underlining. Kashi selected a light periwinkle/lavender for the lining. That man is amazing! I bought four gray buttons for the jacket, but I'm really not happy with them. I'll probably make the jacket last to give myself time to go to Fabric Row (in Philadelphia) to find buttons more to my liking.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Burda 7882 & BWOF 10/06 #133B

I've returned from a short hiatus. It seems like ages since I actually finished a garment. I finished these pants (BWOF 10/06 #133B) a couple of weeks ago, but I was delayed in starting the blouse. Using my Elna, I discovered I really didn't like sewing without a reverse gear. Tying off threads and using a smaller stitch length worked very well to secure beginnings and endings of seams. But, these methods just were not as convenient as tapping the reverse button and I lost some enthusiasm when I had to sew on the Elna sans reverse. I was also paralyzed with anticipation about getting the new Bernina. I put off sewing until I could sew on the new machine. Childish, I know. But, once I got the new machine in my hot little hands, I immediately finished Burda 7882 - my redesigned blouse. I used a silk from Vogue Fabrics. I heard somewhere that a yard of really fine silk could pass through a wedding ring. I'm sure this is a myth, but it sounds impressive. I never tried to pass this silk through my jewelry, but it certainly felt like it could have gone through! I really enjoyed handling it! Unlike some synthetic silkies I've sewn, (how about that alliteration!) it wasn't too slippery and it pressed nicely. The pants are lined. I can remember lining pants only one other time in my life. Lining really does improve the way a garment feels and I'll probably do it more often. They actually feel like they fit better especially in the back. Although, they actually don't fit any better than any other pants I've made. I'm sure the wool I used would have irritated my skin - especially in the winter. The lining also makes them more comfortable to wear.

So, this outfit is remarkable for several reasons:
  • This is the first project from fabric purchased on my NY shopping trip
  • I lined the pants
  • I used my new machine
  • I redesigned the blouse pattern
Quite a re-entry after a short hiatus!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Tip for the Continuous Lap

I came across this tip while killing time at work. I've never heard of this method for finishing a continuous lap placket. I usually sew the diagonal seam across the placket, but I like this method better.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Out with the Old; In with the New

The planets aligned; the sewing gods smiled and I finally got my new sewing machine. My plan was to buy this machine at the end of last summer. That plan was put aside when I had a huge automobile-related expense. At that time, I wanted a new machine, but I really didn't need a new machine. I must admit, I felt a little guilty about spending so much money on something I didn't really need. But soon after, my Elna's reverse button began to work only intermittently and then not at all. Yes, I could have had it repaired but the repair would have cost more than the machine was worth. And did I mention that I really wanted a new machine?

Goodbye old friend
My old friend
There's something I must let you know
I haven't said it much
I guess I've lost my touch
But, my old girl, we sure did sew!

"Goodbye, Old Girl" from Damn Yankees
Apologies to Richard Adler & Jerry Ross

The Diva and I shared lots of memories. We made all of my daughter's Easter dresses; we sewed prize winning Halloween costumes; we made a very expensive dress to wear to my sister's wedding (I ended up wearing another dress to the wedding), and we made my daughter's first prom dress. The Diva served me well.