Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Pleated Blouse

April 2009 BWOF, #122

I bought this fabric last year from the co-op, but didn't have the perfect pattern for it. I knew that this fabric required simple lines, so #122 from the April issue was perfect! When I came out wearing it, Little Miss Princess declared, "Oooooh, Mom... I love it!" I have to admit, I love it, too!!!

I consulted "More Fabric Savvy" by Sandra Betzina to see what "special needs" pre-pleated fabrics have. If you love the look, you can find more pleated fabrics at Gorgeous Fabrics, here and here. The pleats run across the grain (not with it), and I used 2 yards with the same layout. Just a few words of warning about working with it...
1. The Betzina book recommended a Universal 70/10 needle, but I got nothing but skipped stitches until I tried a stretch needle. The poly fibers need a needle to move around them, not through them, so a ballpoint might also work, but I didn't try one.
2. NO PRESSING!!! The pleats will disappear and never reappear, and you don't really need to press since the pleats make the seams a little plump anyhow.
3. 1/2" wide tape is your best friend with this fabric. After I cut my pattern pieces, I carefully ran the tape along every seam edge, lightly holding the fabric in place, but not making the fabric lay flat. The purpose of the tape it to keep the seam edges the same length as the pattern pieces and also preserve your pleats. I did sew through some of the tape with my regular machine, but immediately removed it after sewing the seam, then serged the tape-free edges.
I ignored the BWOF instructions again, just checked for sequence of attaching pieces and how wide to make the casing seam allowance.

My way went like this...
1. Sewed front top and back top at shoulder seams.
2. Used black (purchased) bias tape to turn front and neck edges.
3. Sewed side seams of top.
4. Basted center front seam together to meet with a 1" s.a.
5. Sewed buttonholes in front bottom, using embroidery stabilizer on the back.
6. Sewed side seams of front and back bottoms.
7. Attached top unit and bottom unit with a 1" s.a., then stitched down for ribbon casing.
8. Inserted tie into casing.
*My fabric doesn't fray AT ALL, and I didn't want to flatten the pleats, and I really like the loose look... so I didn't hem the bottom or the sleeves. The "rule follower" in me is pulling her hair out, but my gut is saying, "Leave it alone, it looks *perfect*!"
My bamboo interlock arrived today for my PR contest entry. I'll be using Vogue 8379, and have to play with the trim stuff I bought to make a final decision on what I'm going to do with it. Entry deadline is August 15, so I have some time to play with it!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Twirly Dress

Simplicity 2912 (Out of Print)
I've made this dress once before (last summer) and Little Miss Princess requested another one, since she loves it soooooo much. Nothing like watching a little girl spin, skip, and twirl around the house! I had the fabric all cut out before we left on vacation, and since I've made it before, it went together really, really fast.
I omitted the little fabric flowers (end of the neck ties and on tie belt), and made the ties my own way. I just stitched them in half (lengthwise) right sides together, turned them right side out, and topstitched the edges.As soon as she tried it on, she asked to keep it on for 5 minutes longer, then checked herself out in the mirror and declared, "I look spectacular in this dress!". Such a girl....
The fabrics are both cottons from Joann's, the blue was on a 60% off table after the 4th of July (aside from being red, white, and blue, it isn't actually "patriotic"), so this dress cost under $10. No zippers or buttons, just a short band of elastic at the top of the back skirt. The pattern included sizes 3 - 8, but I cut the 4 last summer (dummy me, I should've copied it). She wears a 6 in RTW, so I'm pretty surprised the 4 still fits (it could be a little longer in the bodice, but the neck ties allow for that adjustment).
She's happy, so it's a success in my book!

Fishing is NOT for me!

Yesterday we returned home from 4 more days of camping. This time we stayed at Metamora-Hadley State Park, which is a whopping 15 minutes from home. You may wonder what the point of vacationing so close to home is, but it's a beautifully scenic park and our friends were also camping with their kids, so we knew we'd have a good time, regardless of the weather!
Being a Biology major (Math minor), I thought I had it in me to skewer a worm on a hook for my kids. Boy, was I wrong! I can pick one up, but when I had to stick a hook through it, the task was just too gross for me! Dawn, I know you're laughing your ass off at me... go ahead, I don't care! Thankfully, there were other moms there that were willing to pick up my slack! Didn't catch anything, but the kids had fun just casting out, and it was really nice just to spend quality time outside! Two sunny days at the beach, and one slightly rainy day when I cut out a paper pattern, but no other sewing activities were accomplished. I finished "Lean Mean Thirteen" in the Stephanie Plum, Bounty Hunter series by Janet Evanovich. I didn't know there were "Between the Numbers" books, so I have more books to read than I thought! I've read all but 2 of them on my Kindle, and absolutely love my electronic book reader. No one can fit 6 books in their purse at once, and I still have room for my next wireless download! If you like read on the go, while you wait in the carpool line, or during the train to work, you should really put this device on your next "Wish List". The price is currently $299, which is the lowest I've seen... (Sorry, I didn't mean to gush, but it is a really neat gadget!)

As for sewing...
1. I'm all registered for my classes at the American Sewing Expo at the end of September, here in Michigan. I was online and waiting at 9 am when registration opened, and got a spot in one of Sandra Betzina's classes! Wooo hoooo!!! I'll also spend an hour with Rosebud of Islander Sewing Systems (Techniques from the Pros) and another hour with a local sewing instructor learning how to work with formal fabrics. There is also supposed to be a Pattern Review member get-together Saturday evening that should be fun. I'm still waiting for my bamboo knit to make my Pattern Review contest entry, but have until Aug. 15 to enter. Oh wait, that's just 2 weeks away!!!
2. The Twirly Dress is the next project (all cut, ready to sew), followed by the pleated top and a coral linen dress to go with/under it. I've had the linen for a year, and it matches the pleated fabric perfectly. I was debating about making linen pants instead, but decided the dress will also serve as the necessary "camisole". and will coordinate with another jacket fabric on the "to-do" list!
I'd better get moving, if I want to get these done by the end of this week!

Happy sewing, everyone!!! (Oh, and don't mind those "Back to School" signs and sales everywhere, it's just a hallucination brought on by crummy summer weather... Summer just started, right?!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Black & White Skirt

April 2009 BWOF #101BLittle Miss Princess told she thinks "it looks fabulous". I guess I'm allowed to wear this one out of the house!!!
Here's my review at PR.
Thoughts not reflected in my review...
1. Would it kill Burda to illustrate just the toughest steps of a pattern? Skip the ugly home-dec-chair-cover-reindeer-head-seashell-wind-chime crap, and just give us a few black and white illustrations!!! I can usually make sense of the directions, but not this time. That front yoke piece was going great until it was time to attach the front center piece below it. Clip what? Start sewing where? Press in what direction? Once I pitched the magazine across the room and did it my own way, I felt much better.
2. I got distracted when I was tracing and cutting this pattern (TV, not kids) and forgot to leave a 1 1/4" hem allowance. With only 5/8" to work with, I stitched hem lace to it, and handstitched the top edge of the lace to the skirt.
3. I was afraid this fabric would unravel in my hands as I worked with it (Boucle makes me nervous), so I serged every free edge prior to construction. On the facings, I interfaced first, then serged the edges.
4. I'm getting faster with the BWOF's! I traced and cut the pattern after the kids went to bed Saturday, I serged the free edges Sunday after breakfast (30 min.), and did all the construction today (roughly 2-3 hours).
I was so very, very tempted to line this baby. But, this boucle from Gorgeous Fabrics is very dense on the back side, a tight weave that (I don't think) is going to get all stretchy-goofy on me.

Overall, I like it, and think it would look really cute in corduroy, with tights and boots...

Stopped into Joann's yesterday and grabbed some Butterick's for 99 cents.
So, next in the line-up is Little Miss Princess's "Twirly Dress", then it's onto the pleated top, which you all encouraged me to pursue! I have some coral linen in my stash (also from Gorgeous Fabrics) that I'm thinking will be great as a summer dress (top most pattern pictured above) to wear under the pleated top, and with other jackets.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

I finally get to sew!

I spent this week finishing my "homework". 10 essays, each 2 pages long, double-spaced, 12 pt font about all sorts of teacher/student/No Child Left Behind topics... there were a few tears shed, but I made it. Every 5 years, teachers are required to accumulate 6 college credits or 18 SB-CEUs when it's time to renew your teaching license. I attended 2 workshops (6 days total), mentored a brand-new probationary teacher all year, and watched 10 online videos. Thankfully, the school district paid for the workshops and the online courses were free. Now, I have to send in my paperwork, pay $160, and I'm good to teach for another 5 years. Okay, I think I'm done ranting now, I'm just really glad I'm done!

So, to keep my sanity this week, I worked on a muslin (between essays) for some shorts. I used a pants pattern from July 2008 that had a simple basic design. How do you know when your fabric is really, truly ugly? When even a 6 yr old tells asks, "You're not making those to wear out, are you?" Thanks to Michelle (the pants making guru) for her quick emails to answer my questions about crotch depth! I was getting a surplus of fabric in the front under the zipper, so I compared the pattern to the curve of my favorite pants/shorts, and trimmed it accordingly. Sandra Betzina's "Power Sewing" was at my side for the fly zipper insertion. That must be one of the things in sewing that makes me really sweat. Mine usually end up puckered and scream, "Home-made!", but not anymore. I'm really happy with both the muslin and final version zippers. I've decided that fitting pants is really, really tricky, and I will learn the right way to do it when I go to New York in August. I know there are more adventurous things I could make, but in reality, I wear pants to work almost daily in the fall and winter, and it's the one garment that really intimidates me to make anymore.

This week's "To-Do" list:
Skirt #101 from the April '09 BWOF in this...
I know a lot of you have made this, and it looks great all around, so I know it's winner (a great place to start my fall sewing)!

Sorry about the photography, but this cotton (speckled with red and white x's) will be another "twirly dress" for Little Miss Princess. I made it up last spring, and it actually still fits! She's been asking to where it everyday, so another sure thing! Just have to buy some red or white for the border and ties! Bunny made this up recently using smocking (out of my league)!

And the "Question Mark" project of the week...
#122 from the April '09 BWOF, in this pleated poly blend?

Another pattern that I know a lot of you have made, so what's the story? Pro: This pattern is perfect for pleated fabric! Con: Is my fabric too "nice" (formal/dressy) for this casual pattern?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Look Familiar?

This is Butterick 5019, the childrens' version of the Retro dress I was considering for the contest (previous post). Here's my review, but in a nutshell...
  • The only difference is that the adult version has a circle skirt, while this one is more of an A-line. Oh, and it's also worn backwards from the adult version (ties in back vs. ties in front).
  • I strongly recommend purchasing double fold bias tape for this project. It might cost more, but you'll save yourself about 2 hours, and be done in half the time!
  • Just over a yard required, not quite a "1 yard wonder" but pretty darn close!
  • After making it for Little Miss Princess, I'm pretty sure I don't want to do it again for myself. That's a lot of bias tape!!! Not to mention that most of you agree the Vogue is better and the Butterick has fit issues.

The floral print cotton came from Gorgeous Fabrics, and since the pre-made tape offerings at Jo-ann's didn't even come close to matching, I bought the blue quilter's cotton there and made my own. I had a lot of bias strips cut and a little left over, so I used some for the button tab in the front (underneath). The pattern has you make a stand-along piece with 2 button holes, but I think that would get lost in the laundry pretty fast!

I also used my left over strips for the tie backs. Cut on the bias, I stitched 2 strips together, but didn't turn them inside out. I wanted to stay with the top-stitching theme and even if they fray a little, that's fine, the dress could use a little character. Little Miss Princess put it on and said, "Oh, I *love* it!" so that's good, right? In the above picture, you'll notice the flowered tab the ties pass through on the back? Very, very necessary, otherwise if the dress fall down in front, it comes up in back and we don't want that!

Gonna be a busy week for me, got 20 more shirts to embroider for another fire department (by Friday) and 4 more essays to write. Yuck. Good news: Only 6 weeks until NYC, though!!! Bad news: Only 7 more weeks until school starts again!

One last thing... My nephew's wife is trying to teach herself to sew, but her native language is Spanish. They live in Colorado (they visited this weekend), and I'm trying to find some Spanish resources for a beginner. Only some of the commercial patterns are printed in Spanish (all in English/French), and I'm not sure she's ready for Patrones. If you have any ideas, let me know... Thanks!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Pattern Review Contest - Expo '09

A few posts ago, I mentioned my excitement about the upcoming American Sewing Expo that will take place here in Michigan in September. This will be my 3rd year attending, and they've got an all-star cast this year for instructors: Kenneth King, Sandra Betzina, and Pati Palmer, to name just a few.

Yes, I know I'm supposed to be doing school work, but this is really important! I've already finished half of the essays, but desperately need a break!
Anyhow, there is a new contest taking place this year, which is sponsored by Pattern Review. Contestants may choose any of the "Best of..." patterns since 2005, and make their own version. I own three from the list, but these 2 are my contenders: Vogue 8379 and Butterick 4790.
The Vogue was my first pick, when the list of options was only "Best Patterns of 2008". I was thinking black jersey embellished with hand-stitching and beadwork along the neckline or hem. A lot of work for me, who has never done beadwork on a garment before! Black on black would be so chic and elegant, something that I could actually wear if the judges don't think it's so great.

Today the contest Gods smiled down and more options opened up, and now I am considering the Butterick, which makes me think of Summerset. Could she knock this one out of the park, or what? Oh crap, she just might. Maybe I should shut up now...
The 2-color view is my favorite, and I know it has a lot of potential, but I'm not sure what I would do with it yet. I like the idea of a flash of color inside the skirt, or a really fancy contrast trim. Maybe a more casual version in a solid with some hand-painted embellishment on the skirt hem?
I have until August 15 to enter, so give me your feedback. These 2 patterns couldn't be more different, but what do you think???

Monday, July 6, 2009

Jersey Halter Dress

Oh! It's you! Good afternoon! Isn't it a beautiful summer day? Would you like to have a margarita with me? Frozen without salt? Me, too!!!I didn't really beat Dawn this month. I won by default... she's been on vacation! It's okay though, I proved to myself that I can make something from each issue within the first week I own it! This issue arrived Friday and today is Monday, so that's not so bad (yes, I know this was a 1-dot pattern at should've been done Saturday morning, but lay off, okay?!). Actually, I was the 6th review from this issue on Pattern Review today, so that definitely tells you I didn't win the race!
I had no idea the dress (July BWOF #124) was sooooooo long. Here's my review. You can't tell from the picture, because the model is frolicking in the waves and has the dress hiked up past her knees. But, since maxi dresses are still "in", I think I can get away with this. It's a lot of print for me to wear (neck to ankle), but I love the colors (black/white/navy/royal/touch of lime green) and this jersey knit is soooo comfy. I got it last summer through the co-op and used all 3 yards of it. Now, I wish I had more!
Gotta love my tan lines. I got sunburned last weekend during my daughter's birthday party, oops! The wrap is a little low in the back, my strapless bra kept peeking out a little. If I make this again, I'll add a shelf bra with cups. (How? I don't know how, but I can figure it out... I think.)
And for you dog lover's out there, here's our German Shepard, Mr R. He loves our kids, let's us know when anyone is in the driveway (or walking down the street) and hates fireworks. This time of year is a little rough on him, but the kids are loving the free shows we can see from the deck!
What's next? Tomorrow we'll have some fun at the County 4-H Fair, where the kids love to see the baby animals in the Miracle of Birth barn and we'll be doing the carnival ride thing. Then it serious school work for me! Yuck, yes yuck, I hear ya! But I've avoided it for far too long, and must tackle it. I'll report back when I've dug my way out. Hope to see you all soon!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Another Simple Dress

McCall's 5890
The first time I saw this fabric, I didn't buy it. But, it wouldn't disappear from my memory, so the next time I was at Joann's (and it was on sale), I had to buy it. When I saw Sharon's version of this pattern, I realized that I already had it and the perfect fabric for the job!

Here's my review. I'm really pleased with it, and wish I had a red belt instead of my black (boring) one. Hey Dawn, can I borrow your Obi belt? Super comfy, but dressed up, and so easy to make and wear. I "highly recommend" this one! This particular print hid all the seams (princess seams in front and back), and I thought that was pretty ingenious on my part... ha, ha!

Happy 4th of July!
DH is working at the Fire Station today, so the kiddos and I are going to visit a couple BBQs later on. The July BWOF finally arrived yesterday, so today is tracing day, if not more! I got a couple days headstart on Dawn since she's on vacation this weekend, but she warned me... (and I quote) "Monday, it's on!!!" Oooh, Dawn... I'm so scared... Can you see me shakin' in my boots? I'm pretty sure the halter is going to be my first piece, the wrap around back is so unique!

Then I'll do the wrap dress for Little Miss Princess with that Black and Pink fabric she picked out on our last vacation. I'd really like to use the flower designs that Dawn used in this blog post, but I don't know where she got them from!? Anyone know? I checked Urban Threads, but didn't see it...

Thursday, July 2, 2009

My 1 Yard Wonder!

Butterick 4176 is a keeper! Sizes 2-5 and 6-8, it's wonderful for many reasons. It was super fast (no facings, just bias tape for the neck and arm holes), no zipper (1 button closure in the back), it's a wardrobe (shorts, pants, top, dress, and sleeves are optional), and loose fitted (comfy kids = happy kids). I'm planning on making more of view D as nightgowns for Little Miss Princess and as gifts for her friends.

The fabric is from Gorgeous Fabrics ("Flower Power" and it's on sale right now for $6.32/yd! Run! Run! Run!), just 1 yard of 45 wide (with enough left to cut two 1" strips and make my own bias, but not on the bias)! It's got some stretch in it, but I bought it for the bright floral print. It just screamed "Summertime" to me. 1 package of rick-rack will get you around the hem, and if you want, you'll have enough to trim the neckline, too. I dug through my buttons and found some to match the rick-rack, so I placed them center front in the same order. Look at the top photo closely, you'll see them! Here's the back neck line with the button closure.
If you have a little girl in your life, this pattern is beyond "fast and easy", as advertised!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

American Sewing Expo 2009

For anyone interested, here is as much information as I have on this year's expo, being held at the Rock Financial Showplace in Novi, Michigan from September 25-27. This will be my 3rd year attending, and I'm sure it will be quite a learning (and shopping) experience, as usual!

I usually spend one (very long) day at the show, taking 4-6 classes, watching demonstrations, and shopping the vendors. Last year, my classes covered machine embroidery, working with leather, reconstructing denim, creating your own fabric (stamping/painting/texture) and pattern software. You'll see from the registration brochure that there are hundreds of classes offered on all sewing topics: fitting, quilting, garment construction, home dec, weaving, knitting/crochet, embroidery, embellishment...

The vendor floor is amazing, with lots more than just fabric and sewing machines for sale. There are a good number of quilt booths, but many more that offer various notions and services. You can test drive any machine or software you've ever dreamed of, watch designers construct garments for the "Passion for Fashion" contest, and many booths offer free make-and-takes and there are also 3 Free Demo stages where classes run all day long. The first year I went, I met and chatted with Chloe Dao (Season 2 Project Runway) and last year's denim reconstruction class was given by Carmen Webber (Season 4 Project Runway). Kenneth King's class sold out in the first 10 minutes that registration was open, so I missed that one!

This year a new contest is being held with Pattern Review to make your own version of the one of the Top 10 Patterns of 2009, with the grand prize of $1000! Vogue 8379, here I come!

So, if you're in the area and planning on attending, I hope this information is helpful, and please leave a comment so we can meet up for lunch at the expo! I usually squeeze all I can into one day, but this year I might beg DH for two...

This is the website for the expo. When you click on the brochure picture on that website, it will open and you can see all the classes being offered. Admission is $12, and class cost starts at $14 per session. All day classes are $98, but considering the level of expertise of the instructors (Koos van den Akker, Connie Crawford, Kenneth King, Pati Palmer, Sandra Betzina...) that very worthwhile! Registration opens July 21 at 9:00am, and if you're interested in a "Big Name" session, you'd better be clicking away not a moment later!
Here are the Top 10 Patterns of 2008 at Pattern Review. Vogue 8379 is already in my stash, and I'm always up for a challenge (that may net me some cash and cover my spending at the show)!!!