Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009: The Year in Review

It's that time of year again. It's time to look back and evaluate my sewing performance and set goals for the future. This year, rather than simply counting finished garments, I chose a few projects that had the most potential for learning and rated them on a five-star scale. The star rating is based on my satisfaction with the finished project. Then, I identified a plan of action based on how well I learned the lesson the project had to teach.

#1: The Ugly Blouse
In 2009, I tried to break away from the pattern instructions and make design changes. I learned I am not a designer. This blouse (BWOF 08-09-129) didn't know if it wanted to be a feminine blouse or a man-tailored shirt. My big idea was to change the elastic sleeves to cuffs. Bad idea. The cuffs were at war with the tucks in the sleeve cap and the result was a very confused blouse.

#2: The Better-Looking Dress
On the other hand, not every design change has to be a disaster. BWOF designers saw 04-07-133 as a long blouse. I saw it as a dress. The change was minor - I just added a few inches to the bottom and changed the shirttail bottom to a straight hem. The fabric used for this dress was not cheap. In fact, it was way more than I'm comfortable spending. But it was a delight to work with and I love wearing the dress.

#3: Quilting Is Fun
One of my goals for 2009 was to make a quilt. I made TWO! I was surprised at how much I enjoyed quilting. I wasn’t sure if I could finish a quilt on my own without the benefit and motivation of a weekly class. But I did, and I think I gained a new hobby.

#4: A Clean Sewing Room is a Happy Sewing Room
I took a major step toward a permanently organized sewing room when I assembled a thread storage cabinet. It holds up to 800 spools of thread and each spool is visible! My thread collection is now sorted by color and I won’t waste money buying the same color over and over again.

#5: Love Your Fabric
I don't understand why I continue to make poor fabric choices. I don’t like plaids. I have never liked plaids. So, I bought this fabric because
  1. I was under duress
  2. I was bullied into the purchase
  3. I gave in to bad judgement
  4. All of the above
I did a good job matching the plaid and that is what saved this project from earning only one star. But, from now on, I’m only buying fabric I love … or at least like a whole lot.

#6: Muslins Are Friends
I used a muslin the way it is supposed to be used. I made of muslin of Vogue 7903, assessed the problems (and there were many), made the necessary adjustments and ended up with better fitting blouse. I still don’t like muslins, though, and I don’t make them as often as I should.

2009 was a good sewing year because it wasn't about the number of garments I produced or whether I achieved all the goals I set for myself at this time last year. It was a good year because I learned a little more about my passion and what I need to to do get better.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

What's Going On?

Burda. Babe. What's up with the web site(s)? Cidell, a fellow Burdaphile Blogger once referred to "BWOF" as "BWTF". Of course, it's not even "BWOF" now – technically, it's "BS" – and both sentiments fit.

Every month, I make index pages of the plus size patterns in Burda Magazine and add them to a binder I maintain. By the end of December I'd been trying to make my January Burda index pages for weeks - but where was the January preview? Certainly not on the familiar Burda website. Eventually, I found a preview by following a link on The Selfish Seamstress Blog. But it's … different. And I like … same. Here's the way I want it to be. I want to go to the old, familiar BWOF website and browse through the current fashion photographs and technical drawings, transfer the photographs and technical drawings to my index pages, then add the pages to my index binder. I don't think I'm asking for too much. For January's index, I had to serendipitously happen upon a link to the January issue, ignore read German (a language I FAILED in college, by the way – but that's another rant) before transferring the images to my index. And if all that weren't enough to deal with - one technical drawing did not even match the fashion photograph.

Yet, I have faith. Eventually, the website will complete it's metamorphosis and I will be able to do things my way again. In spite of my ranting and raving, I still love sewing BS ("sewing BS" – that sounds kinda funny!). But, why do things have to change? It's so hard for an old dog like me to learn new tricks.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Finished: BWOF 05-06-132B Blouse & BWOF 01-09-130 Pants

It seems like this outfit took forever to finish, but I know it was just the holiday preparations that postponed it's completion. I let three whole days pass before I sewed the last buttonhole and button on the pants!

Blouse: BWOF 05-06-132B

Pattern Description: Long Sleeved blouse with vertical darts on front and back.

Pattern Sizing: European plus sizes 44 - 52

Were the instructions easy to follow? I've made this blouse at least twice before so I really didn't need the instructions. The construction is very straightforward. I didn't like the instructions for the sleeve placket so I used the pattern and directions for Shirtmaking (Coffin, 1998)

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? This has become my TNT pattern for long-sleeved blouses. I particularly like the vertical darts in the body.

Fabric Used: Rayon from Vogue Fabrics by Mail.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I used the collar demonstrated by Louise Cutting in the Threads Insider Techniques DVD. I also applied this technique to the collar stand.

Pants: BWOF 01-09-130

Pattern Description: Typical fly front pants with hip yoke pockets. The waist band is extended.

Pattern Sizing: European plus size 44 - 52

Were the instructions easy to follow? I wish I had a nickel for every pair of "fly front pants with hip yoke pocket" I've made. I'd have enough money to buy very nice fabric to make another pair. Because of my familiarity with this type of pants, I didn't need the instructions. Again, the construction was straightforward.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: Every time I've made this style of pants, I'm disappointed when the pocket extension doesn't quite reach the center front. After 100's of these pants, I finally remembered to extend the extension to the center front. I added a buttonhole and button to the welt pocket on the back. And to think, I used to be afraid of welt pockets. I wish I'd lined these pants. I should begin to line all the fall and winter pants I sew.

Fabric Used: Italian wool

Conclusion: In the past, I rarely made patterns twice, but I've been doing it more lately. I've never had a BWOF pattern I would consider TNT, but these classically styled pieces have earned the coveted TNT status. I can definitely see the advantage of a TNT pattern.

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

I'm not sure how much sewing and blogging I'll be able to do over the next two or three weeks. My daughter has invited a friend from Germany (who is spending a year in the US before going to college) to spend Christmas with us. As the responsible hostess, I'll have to come out of the sewing room occasionally. So, I'll take this opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Oh, No! It's Happening Again!

I've got a new addiction. Here's how I know I've been bitten by the quilting bug: I'm beginning to buy quilting books. I can't go into a store without looking at the selection of quilting books. Late last spring, I realized storage space in my sewing room was disappearing, so I sorted through my collection of sewing books and donated lots of them to the public library. I was very proud of myself. Now I'm buying more books. Of course, I knew this would happen. I just didn't think it would be quilting books.

As a beginning quilter, these are the books I've found most helpful.

1. Quilter's Mix & Match Blocks: This book contains instructions for 50 blocks. Some blocks are very easy and some are more challenging. As a beginner, I appreciate the step-by-step block construction directions. I bought this book a few years ago, but never found the motivation to use it. Now, I'm really glad I bought it. It also includes directions for borders, batting and binding.

2. Start Quilting: This was the reference for the quilting class I took last spring. It covers all the basics, including directions for 6 easy blocks. As with the Mix and Match book, it has all the information you need to make a quilt from beginning to end.

3. Machine Quilting: As in garment sewing, there are certain quilting "celebrities" and Alex Anderson is one of them. I think the actual quilting (as opposed to piecing) is going to be the hardest thing for me to learn. I bought this book hoping Alex would make it easier. She didn't. It just takes practice, practice and practice.

4. The Quilting Answer Book: The subtitle of this book is "Solutions for Every Problem You'll Ever Face - Answers to Every Question You'll Ever Ask" and I really think that's true. Whenever I've had a question, I found it covered in this book. This book 6 1/2 x 4 1/2 and 1 inch thick - small enough to stick in my purse and carry around.

Book buying is not the only sign of my addiction. This week I drove TWICE to Steve's Sew and Vac in King of Prussia, PA – a notorious black hole shopping/traffic area, especially during the holiday season. And, after Steve's didn't have what I wanted, I drove 25 more miles to Hayes Sewing Machine Co. in Wilmington, DE. I had to get just the right fabric!

A few years ago, I got hooked on soap making. After the initial thrill wore off (and I had almost 100 bars of soap), I settled into making soap only when the mood hits me. I think the same thing will happen with quilting. So, I'm not worried that quilting will replace garment sewing as my major obsession. I will always, always be primarily a garment sewer. Quilting just gives me more of a variety of projects to sew.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Finished: Quilt #2

Quilts = Comfort. Using a quilt can certainly bring comfort. What is more comfortable than wrapping up in a quilt with a good book and a cup of something hot? But who would have thought making a quilt would be just as comforting? For a multitude of reasons, Nov. 16 - 20 was one of most stressful, annoying and frustrating work weeks I've experienced in quite a long time. Finishing my quilt over the weekend and immediately wrapping myself in it was so satisfying, it all but pushed the previous week out of my memory.

This is not a prize winning quilt. The piecing is imprecise. The quilting is wobbly. However, the quilt still does what a quilt is supposed to do, as demonstrated below!

I am so pleased with this quilt, in spite of its imperfections! I love the vibrant colors and I love the fact that I made it! And because I'm so sure this quilt will become a priceless collectors' item, I even made a label!

I'm already planning the next quilt.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Finished: BWOF 06-09-136 & BPF FW-09-404C

Familiarity breeds contempt.
- Syrus (Publilius Syrus)

Though familiarity may not breed contempt, it takes off the edge of admiration.
- William Hazlitt

Nothing is wonderful when you get used to it.
- Edgar Watson Howe

Sorry, Messrs. Syrus, Hazlitt and Howe. I respectfully disagree. After a short fling with KwikSew, Vogue and even Burda envelope patterns, I am very happy to be back to my old familiar BWOF. I still think BWOFs are wonderful and I admire the resulting garments.

• • • • • • • • • • • •

Blouse BWOF 06-09-136

Pattern Description:
This blouse has long sleeves gathered into a cuff; mandarin collar and back yoke.

Pattern Sizing:
European plus sizes 44 - 52.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
I made a very minor change, but my blouse still looks like the photograph.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
I remember how much I used to hate BWOF instructions. Again, familiarity is not breeding contempt. Being familiar with BWOF instructions is definitely an advantage. The instructions gave me no problem.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I liked the way the collar and front band came together. Usually, the front band inserts into the collar. In this case the collar inserted into the front band.

Fabric Used:
100% polyester

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
BWOF necklines are usually lower than I like, so I raised the neckline by 1 1/2 inches. To make the change, I extended the grain line and slid the pattern up. Then I traced the new curve, blending the lines into top. The top of the band was not changed.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I would make this blouse again, and I would recommend it to others.

I really wanted to see how this blouse turned out because I followed my intuition to make the changes to the neckline. I'm happy with the way it turned out.

Pants: BPF FW-09-404C

Pattern Description:
Fly front pants with hip yoke pockets.

Pattern Sizing:
European plus size 44 - 54

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?

Were the instructions easy to follow?
While sewing these pants I experienced a "Why didn't I think of that?" moment. Usually, the instructions have us baste the belt loops to the top of the waist, then completely sew on the waistband before attaching the top of the belt loops to the top of the finished waistband. BWOF almost always has a two-piece waistband as opposed to a single waistband piece that is folded over. In these pants, the tops of the belt loops are neatly sewn into the seam that attaches the waistbands. The idea is so elegantly simple, I wonder why I never did it before.

Fabric Used:
Rayon and lycra denim. (By definition, isn't denim supposed to be cotton?)

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I made no alterations or changes to this pattern. I did not add the inch to the length as I usually do and discovered I really don't need the extra length.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Even if I never make these pants again, I'll be using the belt loop technique again.

• • • • • • • • • • • •

I really enjoy working with BWOF patterns. I have a certain mindset and pace that comes from being familiar with the patterns and it felt good to get back to what I know.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Next: BWOF 06-09-136 and BPF FW-09-404C

After knocking out three tops in quick succession, I'm happy to get back to sewing at a less desperate pace. In addition to returning to the relaxed pace, I'm returning to BWOF – 06-09-136 blouse and Burda Plus Fashion FW-09-404C pants. My fabrics are easy to work with so I'm set for an enjoyable experience. The blouse fabric is 100% polyester; the pants fabric is a rayon/lycra denim (dry clean only - ugh!) and both were purchased from Vogue Fabrics by Mail.

In studying the blouse technical drawing, I noticed the top button is level with the bust darts. That means everything above the bust is open and that means the potential for a display of cleavage. If I have any criticisms about my beloved BWOF, it's the depth to which their necklines plunge. If I were in my 20's or 30's and had a smooth, perky cleavage, I wouldn't mind quite so much. But, one must make concessions to one's age unless one wants people to laugh behind one's back. I could wear the black cami I bought for the last BWOF bodice-baring blouse (how's that for alliteration!) I made, but I'll feel more comfortable with a button.

To raise the neckline, I needed the straight portion of the front band to be longer so the position of the top button would be higher. I drew register lines on the front band pattern piece an slid it up a couple of inches between the register lines, retraced the curve and maintained the position of the top of the band. In the photo to the left, red lines represent the pattern changes. I made the same changes to the blouse front and checked the pattern to make sure the front and front band would still fit together. I followed my intuition to figure out how to make this change and I'm eager to see if it works out. No guts, no glory - right?

This blouse was pushed back in the queue because the gathered sleeve pattern piece didn't fit on the fabric originally intended for this blouse. I didn't have enough fabric to open it out and cut on a single layer. Several years ago I took classes in industrial sewing methods and I learned the pros cut on a single layer. I don't like to cut on a single layer unless I absolutely have no other choice.

Rushing through three consecutive projects is not the way I like to sew. I'm looking forward to returning to my comfort zone. Yes, it's good to step out of my comfort zone occasionally, but it's called a comfort zone for a reason!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Three Tops - Quick and Dirty

I needed blouses in a hurry so I cranked out three over several days of quick and dirty sewing. Here are the results.

KwikSew 3586

This blouse was so easy, it's hardly worth importing the review template from Pattern Review. KwikSew patterns are the best patterns to use when you need clothing in a hurry.

Pattern Description:
Long or short sleeved Oxford-styled blouse.

Pattern Sizing:
1x - 4x

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Totally. I like KwikSew for including instructions for sewing a blouse yoke without hand sewing. The method is now very common, but years ago, I saw it in KwikSew's sewing instructions first.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
This is a classic, casual blouse. I needed a blouse quickly and I liked this pattern because it's fast.

Fabric Used:

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I'll probably come back to this pattern whenever I need a quick blouse and I can't decide what other pattern to use.

Burda 7882 (OOP)

This was another very simple pattern, but it wasn't born that way. I was prepared to spend more time on this second blouse, but I couldn't use the pattern I originally chose. Burda 7882 won by forfeit.

Pattern Description:
The original version of this pattern has a bib insert. I eliminated that design element and made the blouse more ordinary.

Pattern Sizing:
44 - 56 (European plus)

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Yes. Since I eliminated the one feature that might have given me any trouble (although I don't believe it would have) the instructions were very easy to follow.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
"Like" or "dislike" was not a consideration. I just needed a blouse.

Fabric Used:
A cotton tone-on-tone stripe.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I would have liked to have made this blouse without any design changes and included the bib, but I wasn't sure I had enough fabric. Besides, did I mention I was in a hurry?

Vogue 8151

I made the black and white BWOF top pictured and, in my prudish opinion, it showed way too much skin. So, I made this top to wear underneath and cover up my oh-so-sexy decolletage.

Pattern Description:
In addition to the t-shirt, the pattern contains a mock-wrap shirt.

Pattern Sizing:
This is a Today's Fit by Sandra Betzina and uses her special sizing (A - J)

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Basically, yes. I made minor design changes.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
There isn't much you can say about instructions for a basic t-shirt. The pattern contained instructions for a tie that was not pictured on the pattern envelope.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I needed a knit top that fit closely around my neck without being a turtleneck. I was only trying to cover up skin.

Fabric Used:
A ribbed knit of unknown content. It looks and behaves almost like tricot, but it's the weight of a jersey. I needed a black knit and this fabric was a black knit. Remember, this was "quick and dirty" sewing. I'm not a big fan of knits and I learned a valuable lesson while sewing this fabric: when sewing knits, the conventional machine is your friend, too. I basted the neckband with the conventional machine and then serged it. This method yielded a neater appearance and allowed me to keep the width of the neck band consistent.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I learned from a previous Today's Fit pattern the top would need to be lengthened. I slashed and spread at the "lengthen or shorten here" line to make this change. This pattern has two sleeve lengths - a 3/4 length for the t-shirt and a long sleeve for the wrap top. I put the long sleeve on the t-shirt. To do this, I traced the t-shirt sleeve cap onto the long sleeve.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I recommend this top with the following caveat: measure the pattern for length or make a muslin. I'm taller than average (5'9") but I felt the torso was unusually short. I usually add about 1" to the length of tops and blouses. I added almost 3 inches to this blouse. I had to do the same with another Today's Fit pattern I made.

I'm still not totally happy with the look of the black and white top with the t-shirt underneath. Since the black and white print fabric came all the way from Morocco, I really want to be able to wear it. My daughter sent the picture to her host-mom in Morocco - the one who helped DD select the fabric. The host-mom , who sews professionally, liked my results. If I see an inexpensive black turtle neck, I'll probably buy it to layer under the blouse. Or I could just be satisfied with what I have.

– • – • – • – • – • – • – • – • – • – • – • – • –

After this quick and dirty period I'm ready to get back to my usual, leisurely pace.

Friday, November 6, 2009

I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plan

Plans are important to me. I believe one should not go through life without a plan. Most of my sewing projects are planned several weeks in advance. Sometimes though, I've had to step away from the plan.

I'd originally planned to use an aqua colored tone-on-tone stripe for BWOF 06-09-136. As it turned out, the fabric wasn't wide enough to accommodate the extra width of the gathered sleeves. I would have had to cut the sleeves on a single layer and that type of layout required more fabric than I had.

So instead, I used Burda 7882 (OOP), a blouse pattern I redesigned back in December 2007 for the aqua and I was able to finish the blouse quickly and without incident.

I could not abandon my plan for BWOF 06-09-136. I've learned when BWOF shows a V-neck, it will be cut too low for my taste. After making the pattern changes to raise the neckline, I was eager to see those changes manifested in fabric. So, I reassigned the BWOF to the next fabric in my queue - a gray and black print I bought from Vogue Fabrics by Mail.

Plans are certainly necessary and helpful, but they are seldom chiseled in stone. When I was young, I thought, "Why bother to make a plan if you're not going to stick to it?" Now, I know better.

Friday, October 30, 2009

What's Right? What's Wrong?

Ultimately, the solution to my latest self-made quandary is totally up to me. But, my OCD is showing again and I have to know the truth.

The Backstory
I bought a piece of Italian wool on my last trip to Les Fabriques in Charlottesville, VA. I call the color "olive gray". Naturally, I wanted a coordinating fabric with which to make a blouse. Neither the salesperson nor I could find anything in the store and I was a little worried I'd have to settle for a cream color or something equally boring. When I got home, I checked my Vogue Fabrics by Mail swatches and I found a match! (Click photo to enlarge) I love Vogue Fabrics by Mail, but their swatches are very small. It is sometimes difficult to know what the fabric actually looks like when you have only a 2" x 3" swatch. This was the case with my fabric choice and the beginning of my quandary.

The Quandary
Way back in junior high school, I learned fabric on the bolt is folded right side in. If that is the case with this fabric, I'm in trouble. When I received the fabric, the right side was not at all what I expected. (Click photo to enlarge) There is very little of the olive gray in the fabric and more rust-brown. I couldn't see this in the small swatch. The wrong side of the fabric coordinates better with the wool. What's an obsessive person to do? Use the wrong side?!?!? (Let me sit down. I'm feeling light-headed.)

Fortunately, I have evolved enough to be able to use the side that matches best without any regard to the conventional right side or wrong side. (Well, almost.) Other than me, who's gonna know? But I am a recovering obsessive-compulsive. I still want to know which side is actually the right side.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Next: Two Blouses

I don't understand this mystery of the universe: every time I do my seasonal closet changeover, I discover some of my clothes have mysteriously disappeared. I usually toss out a few things when I put away off-season clothes, but I'm convinced some things just evaporate when I open the vacuum-sealed space saver bags. I feel like I have no fall/winter clothes and I'm desperate to replace the clothes that have vanished. I've already bought a few things. Now, I'm going to be sewing like a fiend for the next several days. Rain is forecast this weekend and I have to stay home and wait for a repairman on Saturday, so I should be able to accomplish a lot.
First in the queue is Kwik Sew 3586. I've made this blouse once before, so I consider it a TNT. Even if it weren't a TNT, Kwik Sew patterns really are kwik to sew and have no interesting design details to slow me down. At this point, my goal is to have blouses, not a meaningful sewing experience. For the meaningful sewing experience, I'll work on BWOF 06-09-136, a classic long sleeved blouse - BWOF style. The distinctive design detail is the collar. Somehow, BWOF patterns take a simple detail, like a stand up collar and make it a little different. In this case, the front bands extend up to the top of the collar instead of stopping at the attachment seam. I'm not totally sure I even like this treatment. It looks a little weird to me.

I prefer to make outfits, not individual pieces but I just finished black pants that can be worn with these blouses. Once these blouses are finished and my wardrobe crisis is minimized, I can go back to working on the meaningful outfits that offer opportunities for growth and learning.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Adventures in Quilting

Quilting is turning out to be quite an adventure. It presents a whole new set of challenges for me. Most of the challenges stem from the fact that a quilt is much bigger than the projects I usually sew (including my first quilt) and all of a sudden I didn't have enough room to sew.

First I had to find space to pin-baste. Based on my limited experience, I believed I had to completely spread out the quilt for the basting, and this probably is the best way. I took the layers down to the living room and spread everything out on the floor. Crawling on the floor is for younger quilters. My poor old knees really hurt while I was crawling around on the floor trying to get the backing taut and the batting wrinkle-free. In addition, I didn't have the T-pins recommended in Alex Anderson's book to hold the backing taut by pinning it to the carpet. So, I brought a heavy, cumbersome folding table up from the basement and taped the backing to the table. The table was barely wide enough but I was able to pin-baste the layers together in sections. Somehow, it didn't occur to me to take the quilt layers back upstairs to the cutting table. I guess all that crawling on the floor and the pain in my knees reduced the blood flow to my brain.

The final challenge was finding the space to actually quilt. In my small, sewing room, the sewing machine cabinet is in the corner. There isn't enough space behind or beside the machine for the bulk. Since I'd already dragged the heavy, cumbersome folding table up one flight of stairs to the living room, I decided to drag it up yet another flight of stairs to my daughter's bedroom. It's still pretty cramped, but at least I have room to spread out the quilt. I predict more problems as I reach the center of the quilt and have to keep the bulk rolled up enough to fit through the machine. (That huge, expensive Bernina 830 is looking pretty good about now.) Every time I want to quilt in the future, (if, in fact I will want to quilt in the future) I have to set up a temporary workspace in my daughter's room. It's a good thing she's away at college!

I often wondered if quilters were a different breed than sewers. I bet one of the differences is that quilters have more room!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Finished: BWOF 09-08-137 & 138

09-98-137 Top

Pattern Description: Pullover blouse with pleated neckline and gathered wrist.

Pattern Sizing: European plus sizes 44 - 52

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? The blouse did look like the photo, so I shouldn't have been surprised by the low neckline. As with most BWOFs, the neckline shows a lot of skin. That is very evident in the photo, but I was still a little surprised.

Were the instructions easy to follow? The instructions were very easy to follow; much easier than most BWOF instructions.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I chose this pattern because I thought it would be a good match for the fabric. I'm not really happy with the neckline. I'm wearing a cami in the photograph, but I'll probably look for something else to wear under it. Even with the cami, it shows too much skin for me to feel comfortable wearing it to work. It's not that I'm a prude. I work in two elementary schools and I think the blouse shows too much skin for school.

Fabric Used: I used fabric my daughter brought from Morrocco. I don't have any idea about the fiber content.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: Burda recommended "fluid blouse fabrics ", although knits were used in the samples shown in the magazine. Since knits were used in the samples and I was using a woven, I was concerned about the fit in the bust area. Just to be safe, I added 1 1/2 inches to the bust circumference. This blouse has two sleeve length options: a full length sleeve gathered into a drawstring and a 3/4 length sleeve gathered into elastic. I thought the drawstring would be a nuisance so I used elastic in the full length sleeve.

09-08-138 Pants

Pattern Description: Fly front pants with shaped waistband.

Pattern Sizing: European plus size 44 - 52

Were the instructions easy to follow? I always read BWOF instructions carefully, even when I don't think I'll need them. I didn't really need them with these pants because the construction was very straightforward, even considering the waistband treatment.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I really liked the waistband of these pants. Of course, when I wear them, no one will ever see the waistband I like so much. I didn't audition the buttons I selected. They were too big for two buttons to fit on the top waistband section. No one will see that little problem, so who cares?

Fabric Used: Stretch twill purchased from my favorite online source, Vogue Fabrics By Mail.

Conclusion: I like the way these pants fit. I usually don't make patterns more than once, but I just might break my own rule with the pants pattern. Since the blouse fabric has sentimental value I really wanted this outfit to turn out well and I'm pleased with the results. I just need to find the right garment to layer under the blouse.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sewing on TV

I wish there were more sewing shows on TV. In my area, I have the choice of watching Sewing with Nancy, Love of Quilting and America Sews. These three shows are broadcast on PBS beginning at 6:00 AM on Saturday. Who wants to get up at 6:00 AM on a Saturday - even to watch a sewing TV show? Thankfully, I have DVR! I watch theses shows (well, not America Sews) because they are the only games in town. I really miss Sew Much More with Susan Khalje and Sew Perfect with Sandra Betzina. These shows featured primarily garment sewing and were geared toward an experienced sewer. Sewing with Nancy has been on TV for 25 years! I guess she's covered just about everything there is to cover in the realm of sewing.

Why is it we have 100's of cable TV channels, many of them programming for specific niche audiences, yet so few sewing shows? (Project Runway doesn't really count.) Seems to me, DIY or HGTV or even the Style Network are perfect venues for sewing shows. We can watch people play poker or fish on TV, yet we can't learn to improve our welt pockets! Where is the justice in that? Maybe I'm living in the past. Maybe there really isn't a market for sewing on TV anymore. When a programmer schedules a show at 6:00 o'clock on a Saturday morning, he doesn't expect a lot of viewers. Web TV and other digital formats may be the future, but I miss curling up on the couch with a cup of tea and learning something about sewing. Sandra Betzina and Alex Anderson have moved their shows to the internet. David Page Coffin has written a book on making pants with an accompanying DVD-ROM. But, it's hard to curl up and get comfortable in front of a monitor at a desk. If I insist on watching sewing shows on a TV screen, DVDs are an option, so I've begun to buy DVD's to satisfy my Sewing on TV addiction.

Which brings me to my next complaint – where are the sewing celebrities of the future? I think Kenneth King would have a great sewing show! I've seen him as a guest on Sew Much More and I read about the class LindsayT took with him. His designs are a little too "over the top" for my taste, but the techniques demonstrated (and featured in his book, Cool Couture) were fantastic. Does anyone have information on sewing TV shows they'd like to share?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Oh, Yeah!

I vowed to keep politics out of my blog, but I have to acknowledge this!!!! Put one in the win column for the United States!

President Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize.

The Nobel Committee said it best – “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Back to Sewing

My company has come and gone and I've reclaimed my sewing room. My sister's sister-in-law wasn't able to come, so I did all that purging, simplifying and de-cluttering for nothing!!!!! (Just kidding) (No, I'm not) And, my sister would not accept the craft supplies I offered so they go in the trash. My daughter and my sister both have birthdays in October and we had a small celebration. It was a really good to have my daughter and sister here at the same time. Sis left this morning and DD will be here until Tuesday.

Ann has started a fun meme on her blog. She asks "Who would you cast to play you in a movie?"
That's an easy one for me!

Queen Latifah epitomizes the self-confidence I wish I had. She puts her "plus-size-ness" out there and if you don't like it – that's your problem. I wish I had that. In addition, she's very talented.

Today, since my house is clean, I'm going to lounge around and read. Back to the routine tomorrow!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Purge! Simplify! De-clutter!

My daughter, my sister and my sister's sister-in-law are planning to visit on the same weekend. I haven't been sewing because I had to get the house ready for company. It would have been easy if it were only my daughter or only my sister, or even my daughter and my sister. But my sister's sister-in-law counts as "real company" and I want to make a good impression.

Whenever company comes, I have to dismantle my sewing room and use the extra bed. I wanted to store the cutting mat under the bed. There were boxes of seldom used craft and soapmaking stuff already there so even sliding the cutting mat under the bed proved to be a small challenge. The idea of a purge made me tremble and sweat, but when you can't even slide a cutting mat under a bed, it's time!

I began by reminding myself that I'm a sewer. Yes, I enjoyed the little crafty projects, but in my heart, I'm a sewer. The big foam stamps, little bottles of paint, and jars of dried-up Mod Podge just waste valuable space. I can't even remember when I last used the stuff under the bed. I haven't actually thrown the stuff away yet. I'm going to store it in the basement (I purged the basement a few months ago so there is room). Then, I'm going to offer it to my sister while she is here. She and my nieces might be able to take if off my hands have fun with it.

The next time I need to put someone up in the sewing room, it should be a simpler matter because I'm determined to de-clutter. I always feel better sewing when my space is organized and neat. I probably even sew better in a neat environment. It's too bad organization and neatness are the exception and not the rule.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Quilting : Sewing :: Sewing : Quilting

My grand plan was to alternate sewing and quilting and I've been moderately successful in sticking to that "sew-quilt-sew-quilt" schedule. Although, I did sneak an extra "sew" session in when I sewed my last dress. (So, sue me!)


The "Tradewinds" quilt top* is finally finished. The "old OCD me" would have obsessed over the placement of the blocks. The "new me" just grabbed blocks from the pile and placed them randomly. Well, not entirely. I didn't want blocks containing the same strip sets to be adjacent so I had to do just a little planning. But that's all the thought I put into it. Getting the corners to come together precisely was a challenge. That isn't obsessive – it's good quilting. Hopefully, I'll get better with time. I want to finish this before the weather gets cold. I think it will be a perfect quilt for cocooning under when I fall asleep in front of the watch TV. I have to buy the backing and batting next, so this is a good place to stop quilting and start sewing.

*Free "Tradewinds" and more quilt patterns here.


My next sewing project uses one of the fabrics my daughter brought back from Morocco. The black and white is glossy, fairly stable but still silky enough to warrant careful laying out and cutting. Since the fabric has sentimental value and I want the blouse to turn out well. The solid black is a stretch twill. I also want the pants to turn out well because the next two blouses in my queue are meant to be worn with these pants. (Here comes the OCD again!) Just so I'm in the right frame of mind when I start this outfit, I'm going to take some time off and not sew anything. An organization I belong to is sponsoring a flea market and I'm in charge of the food table. It's going to be a busy week with little time for sewing anyway.