Monday, May 27, 2013

Finished: Burda 8244 & Burda 3152

These OOP patterns are oldies-but-goodies.  Both are super simple and both are super quick.  If I'd had no other plans and the right color blue thread for the t-shirt, I could have made both pieces in a day.

Burda 8244: T-Shirt
The t-shirt has three options: cap sleeves, short sleeves and sleeveless tank top.  I chose view B.  I added a band on the neckline rather than a facing. I guess I felt a little daring.  The hem of the shirt is pinned up in the photograph above.  The body of the shirt is too long and I need to cut off at least 2 1/2 inches. Another change I might make is to add some shaping to the waist area.  Pamela Leggett of Pamela's Patterns called it "essence of waist" in her Perfect T-Shirt DVD.  I think this t-shirt would be more flattering with some essence of waist.  So it looks like this quickie t-shirt needs a little more time.

Burda 3152: Skirt
After owning this pattern for years and letting it languish in my pattern drawer, it has become my go-to pattern for a fast and easy skirt.  This is the second time I've made it in a week.  I remember teasing my 80+ year old aunt about patterns she held on to for decades. (She has patterns that cost 65¢!!!)  I may be doing the same thing.

I really like this simple outfit.  It's comfortable and is perfect for relaxed occasions.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Chip Off the Old Block?

My daughter is enjoying her sewing journey.  She made this pillow for her fiancĂ©, who is currently in Afghanistan.

I think it looks very military - the red and the gold braid are perfect. 

 Here is her commentary: "You'll notice that the cord fringe doesn't come together nicely like a thinner fabric fringe would so I actually had to tuck both ends of the cord into the pillow and then an elaborate version of the slip knot to secure it all in place. Feel free to post this pic on your blog! "

She is overly critical of her work, just like many of us sewers.  But, she's already meeting the inevitable challenges of sewing.  I think the pillow is wonderful!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Finished: McCall's 6563 & Burda 3152

Nothing says glamour like bias cut charmeuse.  I think this skirt and blouse is more festive than the black dress of the previous post.

The Top: McCall's 6563
For my top, I originally chose a Burda magazine pattern with modifications.  But I was afraid it would be too loose fitting and boxy to be worn with the full skirt.  So I searched the websites and found M6563.  The bias cut gives the top a little more shape than a straight cut.  I went to my local JoAnn and they didn't have the pattern in my size.  I called a second, less local but convenient JoAnn and they didn't have it either.  I called a third, even less local and totally inconvenient JoAnn and thankfully, they had it.   I could have waited until the next day instead of driving 14 miles out of the way, but I'm retired and I have more time than sense.  Besides, I wanted to spend the next day sewing the top.

The top was very easy to sew.  I wanted to be sure the narrow hem on the sleeve looked good, so I did not use my narrow hem foot.  I used the method  for the Chiffon Hem in High Fashion Sewing Secrets, (Shaeffer, 2001).

The Skirt:  Burda 3152
I've had this pattern forever.  I've done two pattern purges recently, and this pattern made it through both. The skirt is a simple four paneled A-line with an elastic waist.  Since it has an elastic waist, it was very easy to cut a larger size to give the skirt more fullness.  And, since it is so easy to sew, I'm going to make at least one other version.

Now that my party outfit is set, I can practice my Wobble and Cupid Shuffle. I might even drop it like it's hot!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Finished: Burda Plus Fashion SS-10-427

Introduction:  My youngest sister is throwing herself a big 40th birthday party.  It started out as a formal affair but has morphed into a less formal party in which the guests are being asked to wear black.  I bought 6 yards of black crepe during PR Weekend in San Francisco and made BPF Spring/Summer 2010 #427.

BPF SS-10-427
Pattern Description:  Dress with princess seams that begin in cut-on sleeves.  The center front panel gathers into the side front seam.

Pattern Sizing:  Plus size range 44 - 52

Fabric Used:  synthetic crepe

Were the instructions easy to follow?:  The trickiest part of the dress and instructions was the inset corners on both the front and the back.  I remember inset corners I made many years ago.  They were horrible.  Burda instructs the sewer to stitch the seams in two steps; breaking the seam at the corner and clipping the seam allowance between steps. There is another way to do an inset corner using organza, but I didn't remember where I saw the method so I depended on Burda's instructions.

Adding seam allowances to the sleeves was interesting.  The pattern piece was oddly shaped and there wasn't enough room to draw on the  5/8 inch seam allowances.  So I didn't add them to the area.  Instead, I rough-cut around the area and marked the stitching line with thread tracing.  The pros mark stitching lines and rough-cut seam allowances.  I didn't freak out when I realized I couldn't draw in 5/8th seam allowances, but felt very professional using this method.

I sewed on the thread traced seam line, then clipped up to the stitching line as instructed.  It worked on three out of the four corners.  I can't explain what went wrong, but one corner didn't come out evenly.

To gather the front, I marked the finished length on a strip of stay tape.  I used the stay tape as a guide when gathering so that the gathered section was  the correct length and sewed the stay tape to the front piece.  The stay tape is sheer and didn't add bulk to the seam.

Burda translations are usually awkward and sometimes funny.  The instructions referred to the left and right front pieces as "center front with right sleeve front" and "center front which lies beneath with left sleeve front".  Every time I read it, I though of a 1950s horror movie like "The Creature That Lies Beneath".

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?:  I liked the gathering because it hides my belly.

Conclusion:  Once the dress was finished, I realized it wasn't festive enough for a birthday party.  Very appropriate for a funeral, but not a birthday party.  I have another plan for the birthday party that will allow me to stay within the party dress code but not look like I'm in mourning.

I wish I could do a better job of photographing a black dress.

It's not easy to tell from the photo, but the dress turned out very well.  I won't wear it to my sister's party, but every woman needs a black dress.  Now I have one.

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Sew-aholic's Mothers' Day Weekend

So … the original Mothers' Day plan was to meet my daughter and her future Mother-in-Law in Northern Virginia where we would do wedding prep stuff.  I made the first wedding dress muslin and we planned to go to G-Street Fabrics in Falls Church, VA to look at wedding fabrics.  It would have been a great Mothers Day. That plan changed when I remembered I bought a ticket to see Motown, The Musical* in NYC on Saturday.  The bus trip included about two and a half hours to explore Manhattan and that could only mean one thing to a sew-aholic:  FABRIC SHOPPING!   I had an agenda.  I was working on the black crepe dress for my sister's 40th Birthday Bash.  The dress was looking too somber, not at all like a party dress, so  I decided to go another way.  I decided to make a skirt with the leftover black crepe (I'd bought 6 yards) and make a shiny silver satin top to wear with it and I'd buy the shiny silver satin fabric while I was in NY.  Since I was with my non-sewing cousin, I planned to visit only B & J Fabrics and Mood Fabrics.

But, there was a problem.  The chartered bus that was supposed to take us to NYC left 90 minutes late, which left very little time to drag my non-sewing cousin to fabric stores once we arrived.  Since we had less time to shop, we went only to B & J.  This was my first time there and I LOVED it!  Brightly lit and so much fabric!  But I didn't have time to browse.  (I MUST go back to that store!)  So … I rushed through B & J and made a rushed, impulsive purchase: a piece of silver/grey taffeta.  We got to our seats about 2 minutes before the curtain went up.

Silver/Grey Taffeta

It just so happened, Bryan Terrell Clark, who played Marvin Gaye in the show, said he attended the same church as the woman who organized the trip.  He came on the bus to say hello, sign autographs and take pictures.

Bryan and me

Traditionally, my daughter makes a big breakfast for me on Mothers' Day and gives me a mushy card that invariably makes me cry.   But this year, she was in VA and I was in PA.  (I still got the card and it still made me cry.)  I took a closer look at the taffeta and decided I didn't like it for a top - it had only slightly more pizzazz than the black crepe.  So I decided to spend Mothers' Day doing what I love -- shopping for fabric.  I tried to find the silver satin I originally wanted to buy either at Fleishman's Fabric, the only Fabric Row store open on Sunday, or JoMar.  I bought a piece of silver satin at JoMar, but I still wasn't totally satisfied. Since I didn't find exactly what I wanted, I ordered Silver Charmeuse  from Vogue Fabrics.

Silver Satin

But now I have about two yards of silver taffeta and a yard and a half of silver satin that I may never use.  (It might be time for a give-away!)

So, although my Mothers' Day weekend was not traditional in the Hallmark sense, it was a very enjoyable weekend.  I saw a great Broadway show; I discovered B & J Fabrics and I hugged a young, handsome and talented actor.  Not a bad Mothers' Day.

*By the way, Emilio Sosa, of Project Runway did the costumes for the show.

Monday, May 6, 2013

View From The Stone Mountain-top

Finally!  My Stone Mountain and Daughter purchases from PR Weekend are home where they belong.  The magenta is a cotton and will be a summer blouse, probably V1260 below.  The blue and white stripe is a knit and will be a t-shirt.  The turquoise?  I have no idea.  It doesn't look the same as it did in the store.  I had no idea what it would be when I bought it and I have less of an idea now that it is home.  It has a silk-like sheen that I didn't notice in the store.  It would make a nice MOB dress, but it's the wrong color.  Maybe I'll ignore the wedding colors and make my dress using this fabric.

I bought V1260, a Sandra Betzina Today's Fit pattern, at Stone Mountain.  I liked it so much, I didn't wait for a $3.99 sale at JoAnn.  Sandra Betzina was wearing it during the afternoon session.  She omitted the pleated trim and I will too.   I need to learn to look past the given illustration and see how I can make the pattern my own.  For example, I could use piping instead of pleated trim.

My sewing habits have really changed.  I now have 20 pieces of fabric in my collection -- more fabric than I have ever had at one time in my life.  Most sewers have lots more, but for me, this is a record. Two years ago, I would have been shocked at this fabric buying behavior.  Today, I feel no remorse whatsoever.  And, I'm beginning to buy envelope patterns more often.  I was the one who said they'd have to pry my Burda's from my cold, dead hands.  But I've bought two Vogue patterns in one month and I can't wait to sew them.  Wow.  Even I can evolve.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

PR Weekend Diary

Wednesday, April 24
     I made it!  I'm in San Franciso for PR Weekend 2013!  I'm so glad I came early.  I got to see Gina, Lindsey's best friend from high school. She is my "other daughter from another mother".  I haven't seen her since graduation.  She's all grown up and a wonderful young woman.  I'm so proud of her.  She picked me up from the airport and drove me to the Marines Memorial Club and Hotel.  We talked for hours, even though I was still on east coast time and was dog tired!

There is no way anyone can stay in The Marines Memorial Club and Hotel and not be made aware of the sacrifice US soldiers have made.  I was on the 5th floor, which housed the Memorial Hall.  The walls were covered with plaques honoring deceased soldiers, most of whom were killed in action.  The 11th floor housed the library/reading room in which were many artifacts, including Gen. MacArthur's corn cob pipe and hat.  The resin sculpture of the bulldog mascot was so realistic looking I thought it was taxidermically preserved, a process I find a little creepy.

Thursday, April 25
     I got up early and walked the short distance to Chinatown.  When I got to the Chinatown Gate and saw the steep hill, I almost turned around. But I needed to buy a rolling bag for bringing my fabric purchases home.  Then, I went to Britex, also a short walk from the hotel.   Britex has an awe-inspiring inventory and eye-popping prices.  People warned me about the prices and when I saw the other stores in the immediate area (Neiman Marcus, Bulgari, Chanel, etc.) I knew they were right.  I bought only a piece of khaki cotton on that trip and went back to the hotel.  Later, I met up with  a group of PR People and went back to Britex for more shopping.  On that visit, I bought black crepe and a batik to match the khaki cotton.

Cotton Khaki twill and Batik

In the evening, I had dinner with Gina and then hung out at the registration table to chat with and meet other attendees.

Friday, April 26
     Today was the Sandra Betzina seminar.  She had so much  information to share, she hardly finished a sentence before she began to talk about something else.  It's a good thing I have many of her books.  The best part was the afternoon trunk show.  We got to see clothes from her Today's Fit collection up close and personal.  She was wearing a blouse from the collection that looked nothing like it's patten envelope photo/illustration.  If I'd seen only that picture, I would never have considered the pattern.  But I liked it so much on Sandra, I plan to buy the pattern tomorrow without waiting for a $3.99 sale at Jo-Ann.  Unfortunately, something I ate for lunch didn't agree with me and I didn't feel well enough to have dinner at Buco Di Beppo. I'm going to bed and pray I feel better for shopping tomorrow.

Saturday, April 27
     SERIOUS FABRIC SHOPPING TODAY!  I had three stores on my Fabric Shopping Bucket List.
  1. Mood Fabrics in NYC
  2. Vogue Fabrics in Chicago
  3. Britex Fabrics in San Francisco
I've been to all three!  After hearing Sandra Betzina mention Stone Mountain & Daughter about 153 times, I added it to my list.  I had my own personal guide, Mary Beth, who took me, via public transportation, to Stone Mountain in Berkeley, Fabrix and Satin Moon back in San Francisco.  Stone Mountain shipped purchases if requested. I can't wait until it arrives home safely. We didn't have to pay sales tax if we had our purchases shipped.  Here is my haul (minus the Stone Mountain purchases):
From Satin Moon: Italian cotton and Indian cotton:  I forgot which was which.

Close-up of Italian or Indian cotton

From Fabrix:  Cotton/poly twill and soft knit.

Sunday, April 28
     On the plane home, I reflected on the weekend.  This time around, rather than traveling in a large group by bus, we were left to our own devices to shop.  On Friday, I felt confident that I could get around by my myself if I had to, but on Saturday, I was extremely grateful for Mary Beth, my own personal guide.   We ran into other PR shoppers at every stop, so it was almost like we were traveling en masse

I had two goals for the weekend:
(1) something black for my youngest sister's 40th semi-formal birthday bash (She wants everyone to wear black - don't ask me why.)  
(2) something blue for my Mother of the Bride Dress.

I got black crepe (sounds so funereal), but I didn't find anything for my MOB dress.  Oh, well. That's a 50% success rate.  Not too shabby.

I wish we had the show-and-tell post mortem after shopping.  It was a fun event in previous PR Weekends.  I hope there is a way to include it next time.

PR Weekends are always fun.  Eighty-five people who are just as obsessed with sewing as I am!  How could I not have a good time?

Next year, Austin, TX.