Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Finished: V1260

Vogue 1260
I took a baby step outside of my comfort zone with this blouse.  First, it's not Burda!  I sew Burda patterns almost exclusively. Lately, I've been looking at, buying and actually sewing other patterns.  Second, it's not a style I would normally choose for myself.  Sandra Betzina wore it at PR Weekend San Francisco.  I liked it on her, even though I passed it over in the Vogue catalog.  I bought the pattern the next day without waiting for a $3.99 sale at JoAnn.

I find Today's Fit designs a little quirky.  Vogue's writers describe it like this: "Semi-fitted blouse. Shirred effect is caused by elastic sewn to seams.  Optional trim or cording. Optional sleeve tabs."  Today's Fit sizing is also a little quirky.  Sandra Betzina devised a whole new table of measurements that seem to suit me quite well.  One of the things I like about this pattern is the many options it provided.  It can be color-blocked or solid, trimmed or untrimmed, long or capped sleeves, buttons or snaps.  I chose individual options, but I like the gestalt of this blouse.  I couldn't name a particular feature that appealed to me, but I knew I had to have this top.

Sandra Betzina provided extra tips and techniques in her Today's Fit patterns.  The instructions were easy and the tips, in this case hemming with Steam-a-Seam and shirring with clear elastic were helpful.  I didn't use the Steam-a-Seam hemming technique because I couldn't find 1/4" Steam-a-Seam.  Sandra has you apply the S-A-S to the right side of the hem and double fold it, the iron to adhere the hem before sewing.  I just serged the edge and double folded using the serging as a guide.  The clear elastic shirring technique is much easier than the technique I normally use.  I cut the elastic to a specified length and stretched it as I sewed it to the seam.  When the elastic is relaxed and returned to it's original length the shirring appears like magic.  No fussing with gathers as I've done in the past.

I used my favorite summer fabric - LINEN!  I love sewing and wearing linen, in spite of the wrinkles.  This color is not the best for me, but I loved it on the bolt.  Still, I'm happy with this top because it represents a change for me.  I usually sew Burda and I usually stick to boring plain designs. This is a nice, light top for summer.  and it will be perfect for the 90ยบ+ days I know are coming.

Another step outside my comfort zone:  I didn't have to crop off my head in this photo.  I use a self-timer to take photos for this blog.  I have a hard time producing a natural looking facial expression when I'm interacting with a camera instead of a human.  I end up looking like I just witnessed (or committed) a vicious murder. So, I spent $75 on Photoshop Elements so I could, among other things,  pixelate or otherwise distort my face.  And wouldn't you know, after spending the money, somehow I managed to squeeze out a natural looking smile.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Fastest Knit Top in the West

Burda Style Magazine:  04-12-139A
I remember when sergers were first marketed to the home sewer.  Part of the hyperbole was "Make a t-shirt in hours!"  This must have been the t-shirt they were talking about. This top was so freakin' easy!  I'd bet I spent more time prepping (photocopying the instructions, tracing pattern etc.) than actually sewing.  This top is essentially the same as the charmeuse top I made for my sister's birthday party.  The only difference is the fabric:  woven v. knit.

This little top officially ends my "I-don't-like-sewing-knits" period.  All it took was for me to learn more about knits by sewing lots and lots of t-shirts.  I learned about different types of knits and I learned I like sewing some types more than others.  For instance, this knit was easy to handle, but I doubt if it has even one natural fiber in it.  It doesn't breathe at all.  So, if I'm careful about the knits I choose, sewing knit garments will be as enjoyable as sewing wovens.

Friday, June 7, 2013

I Took a Craftsy Class

I toyed with the idea of a Craftsy class for a long time. I downloaded several of the free classes and watched them while I exercised.  Finally, I paid for a class that I actually sewed along with.  The Classic Tailored Shirt was perfect for me.  I love classic tailored shirts.  I already owned the pattern used in the class -- Kwik Sew 3586.  I'd made this blouse so many times I was sick of it.  When I learned it was the pattern used in the Craftsy class, I got excited about sewing it one more time.  I cleared my mind of all experience with this pattern and, for the sake of the class, I approached it as if I'd never made it before.

My Craftsy Classroom
Some people watch the entire course all the way through before beginning to sew.  I chose to watch one lesson all the way through and then sew along with that lesson before watching the next lesson.  Pam Howard, the instructor, was very thorough and relaxed.  She didn't fill empty space with useless chatter.  I don't know if other Craftsy instructors do this since this was my first class, but I appreciated her quiet style.  As I sewed along with the video, it felt like I was in a real class.  The background noise was another sewing machine and someone talking about sewing.  And I didn't have to shlep my sewing machine to another site!

In the Craftsy platform, students can post questions and the instructor posts responses.  The uploaded questions are time-stamped so that if someone entered a question 15 minutes into the lesson, it will appear onscreen in an unobtrusive sidebar at about that time.  As I watched the class, I could read related questions and answers (and not ask a question that has already been answered).

Even though I'd made this shirt many times, I learned new techniques from the class.  I chose this class because I wanted to make flat felled seams.  I don't think I like flat felled seams.  This was the first time I made real flat felled seams and the process seemed too fussy.  I have two felling feet for my machine, but since I was following the class instructions, I decided not to use either of them.  If I ever make them again, I'll use the feet!

My goal was to sew the shirt exactly as instructed.  I didn't use a serger because the instructor didn't use a serger.   I followed instructions right up until the time she sewed on the buttons …… by hand!  I just couldn't do it.  I sewed mine on by machine.

My first ever flat felled seam

Would I take another Craftsy Class?  Yes, definitely.  I want to crush my dislike of sewing knits and Craftsy offers two classes of interest:  Sewing Fashion Knits, taught by Linda Lee and The Ultimate T-shirt, taught by Marcy and Katherice Tilton.  I'm also considering Sew Faster, Sew Better: Garment Insustry Secrets taught by Janet Pray.  I've added these to my wishlist and I'm waiting for the next Craftsy sale.

My Craftsy blouse

Craftsy comes very close to duplicating a real live class experience.  The only things missing are real-life people.