Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Simplicity 2683

Did you even notice my "repair work" on the back view? I will get better pictures Saturday with hair done and proper shoes, but for now... this will work!

Tonight I attached the skirt to the bodice, inserted the zipper, and fine-tuned the hem (tucking corners and trimming threads. The belt needs to be attached at the side seams, and the belt ends need to be finished, then this baby is finished. Or is it?

There's been talk of some gathered tulle under the hem, but I'm not sure if it's really going to happen. The (brief 2 hour) dance is Saturday afternoon (3 days away), and I don't have the tulle on-hand. I have a dozen knit caps to embroider for the local police department, and the golf team at school has 40 polo's and 20 caps for me to do, too. So, my feeling is... if there is time, I will make one. I can only do so much in 3 days, ya know?!

Not to mention that I have a whole new distraction to add to the mix. A little while back, I mentioned that DH wanted to splurge for my birthday and buy me a Kindle from Amazon. Well, it arrived today, and it is the absolute coolest thing I've ever owned. I took a couple pictures for you to see how small it is, and honestly... the screen really does look like a printed page.

Can you believe how thin it is? Just like hold a set of pattern instructions!

I haven't downloaded any titles yet, but just getting through the user's manual on it was enough to make my head spin (in a good way)! It's so light, and has a million features built in, like a dictionary, adjustable font size, and a small keyboard to write yourself notes (clippings) that you can save and refer back to. You can save many books on memory at the same time, so I'm not sure what I'll download first. Definitely a Jodi Picoult title... I've read all the Twilight books, so none of those...

What favorite books of yours should I look into?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Phew... that was a close one!

I've never been thankful for papers to grade, but I really needed time away from the blue dress to wrap my brain around the problem (see previous post). I've also never been so thankful that I kept the fabric scraps until the completion of the project! I sealed the edges of the border, as recommended, and let the pieces sit overnight to dry competely. Today afterschool, I very slowly and very carefully attached the border to the bottom edge of the missing skirt pieces. There was the tiniest bit of the dark blue at the edge, so that really helped the border seam blend in. Actually, I stitched it on twice: once at 2.5, and again at 1.5.
Once I saw how narrow the seam allowance was, I applied another layer of Fray Check and after it dried, I pressed the seam up toward the skirt.

Recut the pattern piece from the newly bordered fabric...

Not too bad... now lets see how it fits in with the center back pieces:

Okay, I can breathe again. I thought I really messed it up beyond fixing, but it doesn't look so terrible. I don't think most people will notice it actually, since it's in the back and she'll be dancing. I'll know it's there, though... ugh. Let. it. go.

I've attached skirt front to skirt back, so it's time to rethink again.

I really want to add a tulle/organza underskirt to peek out for that extra-girly-fru-fru factor. So, I'm thinking...

1. Cut the same skirt pieces out of the underlayer, but add 1-1.5" to the length.
2. Cut a rectangle 6" wide by 1.5 times circumference of the hem, fold it in half lengthwise, and gather.
3. Attach it to the top side, 3" above bottom edge, so that it sits between the blue skirt and underskirt. (Clear as mud?)


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Help! I screwed up BIG TIME!

So close... and yet so far away...
This is what I have so far, but I made a big boo-boo.
I don't know what's gotten into me lately, but I've been making some really stupid mistakes. This one takes the cake, though...
It's started when I traced off the dress pattern for Miss Princess's Daddy-Daughter Dance Dress, and missed the "Cut 4" on the side back/side front skirt pieces. I counted up my pieces and had the 7 I needed, laid them out (placing all the skirt pieces on the fabric border where the color changes from powder blue to navy blue. Since I missed the "Cut 4" fact and was ignoring the pattern cutting layout (again, because of the border), I assumed it was "Cut 2" and now I am short 2 pieces of skirt back. Stupid, stupid, stupid (said while slapping myself in the head...)

I have a perfect skirt front... and a really fugly skirt back!

Here's what I have to work with...

  • Enough "regular" (non-border) fabric to cut the 2 needed pieces

  • 2 scraps of border long enough to cover the hem of the 2 pieces (good thing I save every scrap until the project is finished!) with only about 1/8 - 1/4 inch edge above the border
Here's what I'm thinking I'll try...

I have some fusible web. By fusing the scrap border pieces (and I little beyond the top edge), I will prevent fraying and enable myself to stick the border to the skirt piece. Then, I will stitch ever so slowly and ever so carefully along the top edge of the border to sincerely attach the border to the skirt hem. I will then use my applique scissors and trim away the rough edge above the stitching line. See the row of "dolphin/paisley" creatures? That's what I want to keep and stitch around!

I'm afraid that a normal seam will be too bulky/visible, but maybe I'm wrong.

But, it will be noticeable anyway because the color gradient change is missing.
The center back skirt pieces were cut correctly, so I have 3/4 of a perfect skirt (Scroll up to see skirt back pieces laid out together).
Any ideas out there???? The good thing is I have a million papers to grade today, so I can't touch it. Only think about it. Maybe that's not a good thing...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Belated Christmas Gift

This is BWOF 09-2008-145, which was supposed to be a Christmas gift for DH. I got slowed down by the Challenger Shirt for FIL, then we all got the flu, so DH is finally getting it now.
You can see that the line drawing doesn't include buttons on the placket, but without them, the shirt really looked unfinished. DH was also hoping for ribbing at the sleeve cuff, but I couldn't find any to match. The fabric is from Gorgeous Fabrics, and is a fabulous knit with fleece on the inside. It is so soft, but the finish on the smooth side is sleeker than a typical knit/fleece. I'm really, really happy with it, and still need to write the review for PR. This is something he'll be able to wear with khaki Dockers or jeans.

Miss Princess and DH are going to their very first Daddy-Daughter Dance next weekend. It occorred to me that she could use a new dress for the occasion. What girl doesn't need a new dress??? The event is described as having a "formal theme", with Daddies wearing ties and jackets, so I dug in the boxes to see what I could find that's fit for a 5-year-old.
While her first pick was the pick cotton floral print, I felt it wasn't quite "formal", so I talked her into this blue and gold silky sari print. I bought it last spring at Joann's, thinking it was going to become a sheath dress that I would wear to chaperone prom. Obviously, my plan did not come to fruition!

I am using Simplicity 2683 (couldn't find on the Simplicity website?!), which I just got last weekend during the 5 for $5 at Joann's. I'll have you know was very good, and only bought 2, both for Miss Princess! My only reluctance with this pattern and this fabric together is the border print on the fabric. I really want it to run along the hem, so we'll see how this will pan out. I have 2 yards of this fabric, and had to lay the pattern out perpendicular to the grain to use the darker blue and border at the hem. Since the border happens on both selvedges, I've got 2 yards of border on the other end that I'm going to use at the waist for the sash and ties. Because the gold is woven in (rather than printed on), the back side is gold with blue accents. I'm thinking that I have more than enough fabric left over to make the coordinating jacket/shrug, and wondering how it would look with the gold side out? Opinions, please?
My "Mid-winter Break" from school starts today, so I'm home through the weekend! No travel plans, just a nice restful super-long weekend of sewing projects. Must finish DH's shirt, alter the prom dress muslin, turn a window panel into 2 valances (I hate boring jobs), and embroider a few fire dept. shirts. Want to dive into the Daddy-Daughter dress asap!
One more question... I'm toying with the idea of having some navy or gold organza peek out from under the skirt, like a crinoline. Too fru-fru? Too much? Not right with the shape of the skirt? Your thoughts on this???

Saturday, February 14, 2009


My First TNT Pants Pattern

BWOF June 2008 #104 (size 44)

It's been traced and cut forever (since Dawn first made them in July), waiting for the right fabric. I made a muslin last month in grey, but since the fit on these is soooo much better, I doubt I'll wear those much anymore. I've got another grey wool piece like this brown one that I will use to make one more version. I got both pieces of fabric at the same time through the co-op, and love them. Great bottom-weight with a touch of stretch, and I think they were only $7/yd.

Either I didn't realize that BWOF extra pattern pieces (a, b, c, etc.) don't include seam allowances, or I messed something up? Belt loops had to be recut, which was a huge pain since I didn't lay them on the yoke and find the mistake until after I had turned, pressed, and topstitched them. But, it did give me another opportunity to use my tube turners and press bars. I usually dread turning tubes, but this time it was effortless. Goes to show you how the right tools can make a job easy. I took a bunch of pictures, but am too lazy now to track down the camera to post them. Maybe later this week... I recommend you take your 40% off coupon to Joann's and pick them up if you don't already own them!

This time I added pockets and belt loops. I might remove the pockets on my next version, as I'm not crazy about the added "girth" in the hips. I certainly don't need anything extra there, and I really don't use pockets on dress slacks, so what's the point. The belt loops are super wide, which is great since my favorite black belt is able to slide through with no trouble at all! My favorite fly zipper tutorial is Sigrid's. I printed it and keep in my a binder next to my machine. You can see it here and she's got quite a few tutorials to check out while you're there. In conclusion, I'm really, really happy with these pants and will make them again. You can see my review at Pattern Review here. Time to start scheduling in "gym time", I absolutely hate the pictures below.

Looking for a recommendation: A couple years ago, I bought 20 yards of fusible interfacing so I'd always have it on hand. I bought the 99 cent Joann's fusible version, and (thank goodness) I'm nearly out. It never stays fused and I need recommendations for a replacement. Any advice out there?

For any embroider-ers out there, All Threads is a great place to shop online for embroidery supplies. Always FREE SHIPPING and fast delivery. 2 rolls of stabilizer, 50 pre-wound bobbins (half white, half black), and 20 Schmetz Universal needles arrived onmy door step yesterday. Yes, that's a lot of needles, but with my embroidery machine, I replace needles every 8 hours of embroidery.

As for the other projects I had planned yesterday, they are still on the "to-do" list, and since I have a short work week (just Mon & Tue, then off for Wed-Thur-Fri !) they will get done very, very soon!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Since I don't work in an office where I get to brag openly, I have to do it here! DH sent me roses at work yesterday, and it was such a wonderful surprise. They are the same colors I carried in my wedding bouquet 10 years ago... I'm such a lucky girl! But, he's working today, so just me and kids for Valentine's Day this year.

The prom dress fitting went well, just a few minor adjustments to make, and one biggie. Big time thanks to Summerset for all of her advice, and to "artfulenterprises" at the Threads discussion board. Your help with this project is really educational, and will help immensely!

The straps definitely had to be shortened (at least 3") to support the halter top, and we're closing the center front gap 2-3" up (I'll be recutting it on the fold!). The big adjustment is that she wants to drop the center back top of the zipper down a few inches. This means re-fashioning the top band with a steeper slope, which will also mess with the length of the straps (add that 3" back in!). I have a little work ahead of me before I cut the real fashion fabric, but nothing too bad. She was very happy with the muslin, and is very excited for the real thing! I'd better get accustomed to formal wear... 2 more girls came to me yesterday asking if I could still make their prom dresses, too. I *love* doing formal wear, and am much more excited about these projects than the "can you turn this window panel into 2 valances?" project I brought home yesterday (Zzzzz).

So, I can't stay and chat... I've got an entire Saturday to sew! I've got a new version of the 06-2008-104 BWOF pants on the table, that I'm already halfway through. I tweaked the pattern after seeing how the grey pants turned out, and I'm working with a fabulous brown/black speckled bottomweight wool that is sooooo much nicer than that poly-crepe-crap I used before. Why do I keep wasting my time (and money) with el-cheapo man-made less than great fabric??? *Note to self: the Red Tag aisle at Joann's is only for muslins and kid's clothes...
DH's shirt finally is ready to be finished with matching buttons and hems. And, Miss Princess has requested a new skirt, since she's outgrown hers. So, I've got this really cute embroidered denim and McCalls 5169 to work with also. With the snow falling and Little Man not quite well enough to go visit Grandpa, we'll be home all day, relaxing. Sounds like a great Valentine's day to me!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Prom Muslin Finished

The fitting was supposed to be today, but I'm home with the Little Man and his green nose. He's in no shape for daycare, so here I am at home today! Mixed blessings... I hate to see him sick, but it is nice to have a day at home to catch up on laundry, dishes, and sewing.

The prom muslin is finished, and I already have a few concerns. The reviews of this patterns were all positive, so I wonder if I'm being nit-picky.
1. I have to figure out how to re-sequence the zipper insertion. I really don't like the zipper being applied over the bodice lining, rather than inside it. This is formal wear, so I'm really frustrated that the pattern company "dumbs it down" rather than having enough confidence in home-sewers to do it the right way, with a clean finish inside. This kind of deep thought requires another cup of coffee...

2. The girl wearing this is an 11th grader, and has already requested more coverage in the cleavage area (Thank God! Otherwise, I wouldn't be working on this project right now!) My current plan is to have the center front edges of the bodice meet in the middle, so I can stitch that area closed for a good 2-3 inches up from the skirt. There is slight gaping at the curved edges leading up to the shoulders. How do I prevent that? I'm thinking part of the problem will be solved when I adjust the straps in the back... but not completely solved. Ideas?
3. I made a full bust adjustment for a C cup by adding a 1/2" width and length from the apex. I did a slash and spread, thinking this will help with 2 things: the C cup and the need to close the center front up (see #2). Now that the muslin is done, I 'm not happy with how bumpy the gathers under the bust are. Maybe I should've left the pattern alone? Maybe it's the effect of 2 layers of fabric being gathered (top + lining)? Maybe I should make the gathered area wider, spreading the gathers out farther towards center front and sides?
4. This dress has a fairly low back, and I was planning on putting bra cups inside the bodice between the lining and the outside. My issues here are mainly because I've never inserted bra cups before and need to do some research!

So, I will do the fitting tomorrow and see what happens. Maybe once it's actually on a human being, some of my concerns will cease to exist. Keep your fingers crossed...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Loose Ends

I have a bad sewing habit. When I get to the end of a project, the little finishing details bore me, so I put them aside and move onto a new project and a fresh piece of fabric. My sewing table was cluttered with three of these projects, so I spent Saturday finishing them.

Project 1: Pants from BWOF 06-2008-104
These poor pants have been waiting patiently for 3 little buttons since December! I used pattern #104 from June 2008 BWOF, with a few modifications. The fabric was too light for the weather (poly crepe from Joann's), so I lined these pants. I also eliminated the pockets and the belt loops. Part of the delay was my indecision of snaps vs. buttons, and then trying to decide on the right buttons. I ended up using some silver ones I found in my stash. I like the pattern, but it needs a little fit adjustment in the waist. I love the color, though (it matches this BWOF blouse so nicely). I'll make them again in a better fabric now that I know how the fit needs to be adjusted. This was the first pair of fly front pants I've made in a few years, so I really need to get better at this!
Project 2: Black Wool Skirt from 01-2009-128
I started this last month, and needed an invisible zipper to continue on with it. I was also a little intimidated by the attachment of the lining and the back vents, which is a really silly reason to get paralyzed on a project! So, I made a trip to Joann's and was able to finish the skirt Saturday. I love the fit, and although this pattern is made for a solid that topstitching will really show up on, I'm still happy with my version. I like how it looks with my Burda sweater, and there's another top I made to match it (just keep reading...) Really, it'll go with just about anything with all the colors in the wool. The fabric is a wool from Ressy's Co-op, and since I only needed a yard of the 2 I bought, I sent the rest to Dawn, who is sent me some awesome black stretch twill for some pants. I'm thinking I'll use it to make another version of the Project #1 pants. You can see in the picture below that I did okay matching up the white yarns and the double vents at the hem.

Project 3: The Prom Dress Muslin
I finished piecing the skirt, so I just need to baste in the bra cups, attach the bodice, and baste in a zipper. I've never used bra cups in a dress before (bizarre, I know), so I hope I do it correctly.

Last week, I threw this top together from BWOF 12-2008-113. I used some blue knit that's been in the stash for 3 or 4 years, and it was really very easy. I'll be making more of this pattern, it was so fast! The color is a perfect match for the skirt, but just a little too casual with this wool. Still a great shirt with the comfort of a t-shirt, but lots more style!
Word of warning: It runs big, so I made a size smaller than usual. Next time, I'll add cuff bands for a tighter fit in the forearms.

I have another UFO on the table from Christmas to finish, and the prom dress fitting. I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Half of a Prom Dress

I've started the "muslin" for a prom dress. The customer is a student of mine, and she found a picture in a prom catalog that she originally wanted to copy, with a couple modifications.

Before I had a chance to object, she requested a much more coverage in the cleavage area (Thank God!), and she even found the perfect pattern for the job: New Look 6401. I'm using the bottom left view (light pink). I did have to alter the pattern for a FBA to a C cup, so we'll see if I did it right! I used my "Fast Fit" book, so we'll see how it turns out...

I picked up some $1/yd formal wear fabric at JoAnn's for the muslin. The real fabric for the job is a burnt orange/rust colored satin. Not a "spring" color, but that was her non-negotiable (her boyfriends' favorite color).
I'm really surprised how the bodice of this dress is constructed. It's fully lined, and uses just a 1-1 1/2" strip of fusible interfacing along the front edge of the bodice and top edge of the back for stability. I've never seen a "Big 4" pattern use this approach before, but I'm pleasantly surprised, it's a very thoughtful and smart addition.

I'm also surprised at the sequence of construction with all the back straps. I'm not quite sure what I expected, but it all seems like a lengthy process for some criss-cross straps. Oh well, I know it'll go faster on the "real deal".

Now that the bodice is done, I just have to piece the skirt panels together and attach it to the bodice. I should have her fitted by this weekend. With prom not until May, maybe I'll have enough time to take another job. Man, am I a glutton for punishment, or what???

The most exciting news this week is the planning of my New York City trip. I've decided to make it an educational trip, and have contacted a Student Tour Agency to help with the arrangements. Lindsay T has been instrumental in helping fine-tune the itinerary to make the trip not just fun, but phenomenal for all of us. I really can't thank her enough!! The tour company has arranged a nearly all-inclusive trip with airfare, hotel, 7 meals, a tour of FIT, a tour of the Statue of Liberty and the World Trade Center Memorial, the NBC Studios tour, a Broadway show, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute all for $1200 (students) or $1450 (adults). So, keep your fingers crossed for me. I need 17 girls/adults to sign up in the next 2 weeks to make the trip a reality. I'm a little nervous with the economy being what it is, but a lot of people keep telling me what a great price we've gotten, so I'm hopeful. If you'd like to join us, we'll be there from June 16 - 19, and take $250 off the price (you'll have to get your own airfare!).