Thursday, November 26, 2009


I remember being about 5 years old, and shopping for patterns and fabric in Kmart with my Mom. I remember a dark blue and white gingham and matching blue pants. I remember not being able to figure out where the paper pattern went when she made my clothes (I thought it became part of the fabric).

Although I don't remember it specifically, I'm sure my Mom bought this pattern to make me an outfit. It's dated 1979, and I was wearing a size 6 then, so it makes sense. I don't remember the vest that she might've made, since that's the only part of the pattern that was cut when I opened today to make my daughter a skirt to wear to Thanksgiving dinner.

I smiled when I emptied the envelope and saw that my Mom packed it away the same way I pack my patterns away now, with the most recently used pieces neatly folded inside the instructions for easy retrieval, should I choose to make it again. I silently thanked God and McCall's when I saw all the needed pattern pieces printed on the same sheet of paper (nothing like waiting until noon to start a skirt that needs to be done by 3 pm)!
I used a piece of black corduroy from the stash that I bought at Joann's last fall, in hopes of making her some nice pants for school. I had the zipper already, too. By 2pm, it was all done, and I could get myself ready for the 2 mile trek to dinner! It went together very nicely, and I will be making her a couple more of these before she outgrows the pattern (single size pattern in those days)! She can't work the hook and zipper in the back, but I don't mind helping her. It's a really nice skirt and she's really happy with it, too.
Thanksgiving always makes me think of the nights across the table from Mom, chopping celery and onions for the stuffing. Laughing and talking about the expectations of the following day, or just catching up on regular chit chat. It's been 11 years since I spent a night like that with her, and over 2 years since I heard her voice. I found great comfort today in the thought that she probably very much enjoyed watching me, her little girl, think of her Mom today as she sewed for her own little girl.
Hoping you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends, and found yourselves grateful for all the people past and present that have gifted you with their friendship and love.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

4th generation...

My grandmother, born in 1902, sewed on a treadle machine, clothing her 8 children, and hand-basted every garment first, to perfect the fit.
My mother sewed on a Singer (that I broke when I screwed up the timing) and made her daughters doll clothes, even for my cabbage patch. She taught me how to sew when I was about 13.
You know my story...
And now, I'm teaching my daughter the ropes. She's great at working the pedal, and stopping to remove each pin as she sews. She's starting to get the hang of keep the edge of the fabric on the seam allowance line, and does a mean "runway" walk!

This week we worked a little each night on her nightgown, and today we finished it. I did all the gathering of the sleeves and the hem, but she ran the machine for the rest of it. It's our own version of Butterick 4647, and the fit is good (with room to grow). If the print (Strawberry Shortcake) wasn't so big, I'd make a matching one for her doll for Christmas.
I got creative with the back closure, as thread loops aren't very easy for a little fingers to handle. Instead, I used a short piece of beading elastic, knotted it into a loop, tucked the ends into the neck seam allowance, and stitched it in by hand.
Today, as we were finishing it, we had this conversation...
Her: "Momma? How far away is New York?"
Me: "Well, just an hour if you take an airplane."
Her: "Really??? That's not long at all!"
Me: "Yes, well... airplane tickets are expensive, though."
Her: "One day when I'm old like you, and have lots of money, I can go to New York and buy you some fabric, okay?"
Out of the mouths of babes!!!

When I finished this sweater vest, I emailed a "thank you" to Sandra Betzina (via her website) since I really enjoyed making it so much. A week later I got an email asking permission to post my photo and today it showed up at the "Garment Gallery"! Here's the link, it's part of Sandra Betzina's Power Sewing website. Kinda cool. Took her class at the Expo and she is so funny. I would love to really learn more from her first hand...
*****************************************Now that the nightgown is finished, I can finally re-thread my machine with blue and get some serious work done on my wool jacket. I looked at Claire Schaeffer's "High Fashion Sewing Secrets" and decided to add interfacing to the top of the back pieces. Burda showed strips of interfacing just around the back neck and armscyes, but after reading the book, I understand the purpose of the back interfacing, so went in that direction. I think I'll take an interfacing class next year at the expo, as there are so many different ones and so many ways to apply them.
I spent most of tonight hand-stitching the seam allowances down to get the seams to lay nice and flat. The wool is thick, even though it's not a coating, and I'm trying to reduce bulk. The shoulder and side seams were last to get sewn tonight, so I'll catch-stitch those this week. Here's another view of the front, all closed up. I bought some great snaps in NYC at Pacific Trims that are a perfect match, but I'm tempted to go the "normal" road and use buttons instead. Hmmm....
Hope you are all enjoying productive weekends and I'm looking forward to seeing what you're working on! I've made a new rule for myself: no sewing unless I've done my exercise for the day. So far, it's working. All week, I've only missed one work out this week, and I'm making exercise a higher priority than sewing. The soreness is also helping to keep me on track with lots of water and healthy food choices! No pain, no gain...
p.s. Salinda: Your fabric is going in the mail on Monday!!! Thanks again, so very much!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mail Call!!!

Two packages came in the mail today, but I had to wait to open them until Little Miss Princess when to bed!

In my last post, I asked if any of you wanted to swap doll clothes patterns for fabric. Salinda quickly replied, and not only sent me a doll clothes pattern, but also included a pattern I've been wanting for so long! (Sorry, Blogger rotated them and I can't seem to fix it...) I was rather confused (but very, very pleased) to find 4 more patterns, too! Apparently, her daughter outgrew them before she had a chance to make them up, and knew I would be able to use them. Thank you, Salinda! You are amazing! You said you'd love some sweater knit, so I have these 2 to pick from: There are 2 yards of each, and both are 60" wide. Both are light (wear a cami under!), and will be perfect for you in Louisiana! Let me know which you prefer, but I should send you both since you sent me 6 patterns!!!
They are both poly/cottons and are both soft. The ivory has accents of taupe and the black has a nice amount of teal.

I also posted a classified "wanted" ad at Pattern Review, and also got a quick reply from Alice, who had 3 patterns, for the price of shipping. I love the internet...
So, there ends my happy tale, and I must keep them under wraps, as the doll clothes will be Christmas presents! Hope you all are just as fortunate in your sewing endeavors this weekend...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Wanna Swap?

Wanted: Patterns for making 18" doll clothes. Santa is bringing Little Miss Princess her first American Girl doll (Julie) and I'd like to make her some outfits to play with. I have enough scraps and fabric for a million outfits, but could use a couple of patterns!

Up for Trade: Fabric. Patterns. More Fabric. Name your need, and if I have it, we'll swap!

Any takers??? Also, if you are experienced in making 18" doll clothes, what tips do you have to offer me? I've done this once before, but it's been about 4 years!
ETA: Found this website, that offers a variety of patterns for FREE. Actual American Girl outfits! 3 outfits for 6 different dolls! These are the older dolls and the outfits are more antique than I was hoping (Julie is from 1974, what a great year...), but with modification they will work.
If you still want to swap, I'm still interested though!


In other news, the blue wool for my Burda jacket is cut. The lining is cut. The interfacing has been applied and the darts have been marked. I picked up matching thread and shoulder pads this weekend, so sometime this week I will start assembly. Thanks to any of you that offered fit opinions, I really appreciate it. I know it's not nearly as much fun as pictures of finished projects, but you guys are the only ones that can offer me the best advice in this arena! I never would've thought to drop the armscyes without you mentioning it, so thank you!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Jacket Muslin #2

This morning I woke up with sinus issues and a very sore throat, so I decided to stay home. My daughter also woke with a runny nose and cough, so I had to take a day off, regardless. Since I couldn't sleep the day away with the kids underfoot, I modified the jacket pattern and recut a new version. Between the comments here and the assistance on the discussion boards at Pattern Review, I had some food for thought about my changes. I love the internet sewing community and how quickly I can see other versions across the globe!
  • Ana's version, she commented on the last post. Love her version, especially the buttons!
  • Okie2thdoc, from the One Wool Contest thread at PR
  • Phyllis C's version, from the reviews at Pattern Review, with details on how to do the snaps.
  • Burda Fashion: Petiting a Pattern (from the PR board "Patterns and Notions"), which is also great for un-petiting a pattern, just work backwards!
I decided to add an inch of length to the bodice, but I did it as two 1/2" increments, one above the bust dart and one closer to the waist. I grabbed the clear ruler and some construction paper, making a bunch of strips to speed up the process. I also decided to drop the armscye 1/2", since Bunny made such a good point about adding shoulder pads. I let out the side seams 1/2" on both sides to give myself a little more ease, too. Sorry about the funny camera angle, this is my first time using the timer!

I am happy with the new result, and think I will let out a 1/4" on each back princess seam from the armpit level down to give myself a pinch more ease, as it still gets hung up on my hips/butt. Although I plan on wearing it open, I may be inclined to snap/button it at the bottom, and wouldn't want a bunch of creases on my back/bottom!

I've never made 2 muslins before, but I'd rather perfect the fit than be done with the project. I love this fabric, and would rather take a day to make the necessary and correct changes than rush through and end up with a jacket that I never wear because the fit just isn't quite right. Since taking these pics, I've left the muslin on to update this post, and find the fit quite comfortable (unbuttoned), and look forward to the weight and warmth of it in lined wool!

Now, I must head to bed and get some good rest and kick this bug out of my sinuses! Do you think muslin #3 is necessary, or am I ready for the "final copy"?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Help with Un-petiting a Pattern!

My next project is jacket #119 from the August Burda.
It's only drafted a "petite" (height 5'3"), but I am 5'6". I might be a little short-waisted, but I never shop in the petites department! This is the muslin of my jacket, and I'm happy with the fit but unsure of the length. I know there are pull lines in the back, but that's just because I'm holding it closed and in a hurry to catch my photographer before he left the house!

1. What do you think about the length? This is unhemmed, so it is supposed to lose 1" at the hem. I think I'll split the pattern and add 1" to 1.5" to the bodice length. Keep in mind, I will mostly wear it open like the model photo, not all snapped closed.
2. Are the bust darts right? They seem a bit high to me, but what's your call? Also, you can see in the side view that the front lays more flat that it appears from the front.
I am impressed with my newly acquired speediness. I traced it off Friday night, and cut the muslin Saturday. Last night (Tuesday) I put the muslin together during "Biggest Loser", and only referred to the instructions long enough to figure out the notches on the sleeves for correct placement. Damn, I'm good... (except for only bothering with one sleeve on the muslin. shhhhh...)
Also, a great big "THANK YOU" for all your comments on my vest. I hope I didn't offend anyone, as DH and I seem to have a lot of fun lately with my sewing photo shoots. While he may not be enthusiastic during construction, it's always fun to see what background or poses he has in mind when it's all done. Sharing some part of my hobby with my husband is actually really nice. So, pardon the sexy/trashy/provocative poses, it was all in good fun.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Lovin' the Leather!

I think DH was more excited about me finishing this vest than I was! You may think I am a mild-mannered school teacher that likes to sew, but in reality....I'm a biker babe!!! Don't. mess. with. me.Hee hee... Okay, time to be serious about sewing now.
Here is my previous post with the basics of how I got started, and here is my review at PR.

I did the whole entire thing (except for the buttonhole) on Martha, my 1926 White Family Rotary (electric). She handled the layers of leather and wool like a champ, never hesitating or moaning/groaning/buzzing like my Viking when I try to hem denim! I had so much fun on this maiden voyage project with my vintage machine, not just getting used to driving her, but smiling at the irony of making such a modern and trendy garment on an 83 yr old machine! The only trouble I had was as I attached the trim, the grommets were a little tricky to navigate and in hindsight, I should've switched feet. But it's done now, and I absolutely love it. Here I am with more... ahem... appropriate undergarments...
The amicale is a wool/cashmere blend from Gorgeous Fabrics, and it so very soft. The combination of the leather and wool is a little soft/hard, but I'll be able to wear this with my dress pants or skirt to work. I'll bring a whole new meaning to "tough math teacher"!

I'm very proud on the inside finishing I did on this, being leather and all. The pattern was really great, nice instructions with quality detail work. For example, the trim was attached before closing the lining so the stitches wouldn't show on the inside. It may seem silly, but too many patterns (especially Simplicity) dumb down the process often and produce a home-sewn product. Not this time, and I'm really glad to see that! Below is the inside of the collar at center back were I had a lot of leather to get through, almost unscathed! There is a little bumpy part where the feed dogs caught, but it was the only place on the whole garment where this happened. I used a regular needle (new 70/15 Shmetz) and a regular foot (no roller foot for the vintage machine), binder clips instead of pins, and the hammer to press the thick seams flat.
Here is the inside of the shoulder seam where I stitched down the inside front by hand to the stitches in the leather.
And, here is the inside of the front where the lining (Ambiance from Joann's) meets the wool. Again, all done on the vintage machine, and not so much as a pucker!
I would've done the buttonhole on the vintage machine, but I was too scared to try out the vintage buttonholer. Maybe next time ;)
DH and I had fun doing the photo shoot today. Not many days left like this around here, so afterwards we jumped on the bike and went for a quick ride to dinner. I really enjoy the opportunities we get to ride, all the fresh air and it being just the two of us (for once). Hope the last days of fall are finding you equally happy in your sewing spaces!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Vest Progress

Pattern: Simplicity 2556, view A (pictured on envelope)

Fabrics: Amicale (fashion fabric) from Gorgeous Fabrics (1 yd), Leather (collar and yoke) from Fabrics and Notions co-op (7.3 sq. ft. lamb skin), Ambiance lining (1 yd).

Notions: 2 yds of faux leather trim with eyelets, and 1 button. *The pattern called for interfacing for the front pieces, but I didn't want to mess with bubbles on my gorgeous black wool, so I hand-basted a matching piece of light, black, cotton muslin. In the picture below, you can see the texture of the amicale. That light blob on my leather only shows in pics, it's not there in real life?! Last night, I finished cutting the last of the fabric, as I cut into the leather and watched the Yankees win the World Series. Tonight, I marked the placement lines for the trim, attached the "interfacing" to the fronts, and pinned as many pieces together as possible. Here you can see how the leather collar will look with the front pieces... (ooh, I'm so excited!)
I am pleasantly surprised how much I don't mind hand-stitching since my class in NYC. All it took was 1 couture Chanel jacket to solve that problem, sheesh! I marked the placement lines on the wrong side with chalk, but didn't want to risk a "marking malfunction" on the right side, so I basted the placement lines for the trim. It was fast and now I know the trim will be in the exact right spot! Here are the back pieces laid out together...A long time ago, Sommerset gave me wonderful advice and recommended pinning as many pieces as possible, then sewing a bunch and moving forward. It is a HUGE time saver, and it's also something I can do in front of the TV, or when I can't get to my machine (a.k.a. "motherhood"). Tonight it's "Project Runway" keeping me upstairs!

I think this will go together quickly, so my plan is to have it done by the end of the weekend! I'm a little nervous about sewing real leather, I've been wanting to work with this leather for months, and I finally have the perfect use, so keep your fingers crossed for me...

I'm already looking ahead to the next project, which will probably be a wool jacket. Like I said, this is the season for wool!!! When I was in NYC, I took along the August Burda for fabric shopping, with this jacket in mind (119). I looked for a light blue wool (like the magazine), but instead found this beautiful blue/grey (and lining to match) at Paron's. It's doesn't photograph nearly as well as it appears in person, it is really, really gorgeous!
My only fear is that it will be too warm to wear as a dress jacket, but if that's the case... awww, geez, too bad! Another coat, what a bummer!!! Also, PR is having the One Fabric: Wool contest this month, and this would make for a good entry. I also picked up the snap closures in NYC, so I'm all set for my next project! Hope you are all finding success and enjoyment in your sewing rooms...