Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Things We Make, Make Us.

What a great Expo day!  After I managed to survive the brutal commute (which involved 2 segments of road construction and a traffic jam from a collision), I arrived at the American Sewing Expo in time for my first class.  I passed by the Chrysler Headquarters, and this enormous banner has been covering the building for a while now.  Speaks volumes to me, probably in a different way than they intended!
"Making Pants that Fit" was... interesting.  Yes, I learned new tricks.  But, nothing so new as to shake the foundations.  Basically, we were given a kit with 2 yds of Pattern Ease (nice!), a basic pants pattern, a ruler, a tape measure, a red pen, and a length of black draw string elastic.  The instructor measured each one of us, and explained which lines to follow on the pattern.  Her method was to construct the pants as a wearable muslin, but stitching up the center front, and slipping them on without a waistband.  She instructed us to use the elastic to hold the pants in place, finding the most comfortable fit, and marking the placement of the waistband along the edge of the elastic.  All adjustments (pant leg width, center back tapering, etc.) could also be marked and done at this point, tranferring all changes and markings to the pattern.  Like I said, it was a little different than what I was expecting.  She talked about zipper insertion, pockets, interfacing, and where to get her favorite fabric, wool (  Her methods seemed very simple and logical, almost too simple, like... It can't be that easy, can it???  The strangest moments were when she explained how to use fusible interfacing to make pants out of t-shirt fabric (what?), and when she said, "The only fabric you don't need a serger for is a knit!" (WHAT???)  Because it doesn't unravel. (Huh?!?)  Apparently, her take on the serger to strictly for keeping wovens from fraying, and since knits don't fray, you don't need a serger for them.  Hmmm... I'll let you know how the pants pattern works for me when I get around to it!

I starting planning my shopping of the vendor floor, where I stopped to watch the designers working on their Passion for Fashion projects.  I might "audition" for this next year...
12 designers are given their challenge Friday morning, and must complete their look by Saturday evening for the runway show.  Most supplies must be purchased from the vendors at the show.  Just sounds like fun...
My first stop was the Pattern Review booth to check in for the fashion show. I was greeted very warmly by Melody, Lynn, Leslie, and Deepika.  It was so nice to see smiling, friendly faces!  We laughed and talked, they enabled my fabric purchases, and we searched for buttons.  Feeling a part of the sewing community is what the Expo has always done for me, and this year was the best ever in that department! 
As for the shopping here are my goodies from:
Fine European Fabrics...
Pure silk/wool blends! The blue/black/white on the left is mine (skirt?) and the teal is for a dress for my MIL.  I always make it point to buy something at this booth, as the fabric is the highest quality I've ever seen.  Really luxurious suitings in wool, cashmere, and silk... so lovely.

Nifty Thrifty Things and Habermans...
The green underneath is a lovely poly/rayon suiting.  A perfect match for the buttons (which I found first, oops!) The clapper is something I've been meaning to buy (forever), and I really, really need to make myself some shirts! Nifty Thrifty Dry Goods is actually located in Rhode Island, and has the cutest, most inviting, booth at the show every year!
You can't beat 100% silk for $4 and $5 per yard! The left one is like habotai, and the right is a charmeuse.  Really looking forward to the possibility of visiting the store next May for the PatternReview weekend!?

Gorgeous silks for $10/yd!  The left is actually more of a grey (not purple) for my MIL, and the burgundy was the end of the bolt.  So pretty!

Believe it or not, there were some really cool things that I didn't buy! Yes, shocking... I know!
This fabric at Haberman's came in another colorway, and is called, "Gone Too Soon".  Recognize the faces?
This booth had the most beautiful ribbon flowers! Soutache Ribbons is from Chicago, and next year, I hope to sign up for the class!
The highlight of the day was the Natural Fibers Fashion Show, and it was so awesome to visit and chat with Kristin, Robin (we met backstage last year), meet new PR members, and inspect the other entries up close and personal.  Ooh-ing and Ahh-ing over each other's fabrics, trims, and finishes... the pictures on the website just don't do them justice!
I bee-lined for Bunny's white linen jacket, to see the tiny, intricate stitches up close! Bunny's pictures are so much better than mine, but I wanted to show her how it looked today, as it hit the runway!  None of us won the categories we were competing in, but that's okay.  It was fun to just be a part of it! (Robin and Kristin drove all the way from Chicago just to be in the fashion show, isn't that awesome? Hope you guys had a safe trip home!)  Rachelle gets the "I'm a celebrity?!" award for calling my name, and complimenting my last couple blogging projects.  Finding out we don't live very far apart was a huge bonus!
Phew.  I'm tired.  I'm spent.  My feet are aching, but it was worth it.  I had a fabulous day.  If you were one of the fine folks I spent some time with today, thanks for another great day at the Expo.  Feeling part of a "community" is a wonderful feeling, and I hope you felt so, too.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


It's that time of year again! Woo hoo!!!!
This will be my 3rd year attending the American Sewing Expo in Novi, Michigan.  Lucky for me, it's just about an hour's drive, so I pack a lot in and make a day of it.  This Saturday you will find me...
  • Make Pants That Fit! with Judy Kessinger of FitNice (from 8:30 - 11:30 am) Take the smiles out of your pants - they belong on your beautiful face! Learn how to measure and draw a pattern that only fits you by making any necessary adjustments on the finished garment, then
    transferring them back to your pattern. Discover all the sewing and fitting tricks to make pants look and feel perfect.  I'm really looking forward to this class, as I desperately need pants for work since I lost the weight.  Getting the right fit in the waist and hips and crotch... teach me, please!?
  • Eating lunch and shopping the vendor floor!  I'm most excited to see Vogue Fabrics and the Fabric Gallery.  Haberman's always draws me in, but I still have stuff on the table from my last trip there with Beth! I skip past the quilting booths, and check out some of the more unique stuff!  I also need to pick up some embroidery stabilizers while I'm there!  If you're going to the show, I'd love to cross paths with you.  Leave me a note, and maybe we can connect?
  • Serger 911 with Kathy Ruddy of Kathy Ruddy - Live Guides Inc. from 2:45 to 3:45
    All serger owners and prospective owners need to know how the serger operates from the inside out.
    Learn about burrs, how width is used to improve stitches and how to create a perfect balanced-tension control strip. Discover a sequential tension formula that works on any serger and all thread types. A five-minute serger pocket that can be added to any pattern plus some fun projects using a balanced stitch will be demonstrated. (I'm proficient in serging basic seams, but would really like to know more about the rolled hem and the elastic attachment!
  • The Natural Fibers Contest sponsored by PatternReview! I'm modeling my silk dress, and am really looking forward to seeing Robin, Lynn, Melody, and Kristin... and, I get to see Bunny's linen jacket in person! Jealous, much?  Wish me luck...
I will also be keeping my eyes open for buttons for my trench.  I'm 99% sure I'm going with the Vintage Style Faux Jet Square Button, but my gut keeps looking back at the other Vintage Style Black Jet Button (aren't those hearts on either side so cute? Thanks for your input on the last post, I really appreciate your feedback and opinions!
Nearly everyone in my life thinks I'm a total dork for getting so excited for the "Sewing Expo", but they don't understand.  It's a dying art, and finding people who share this interest is hard!  To spend a day learning new skills and fondling miles and miles of fabulous fabrics is like my own personal "Super Bowl" of sewing.  It only comes once a year!!!  Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! I'll report back with my findings!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Busy, Busy, Busy...

Here's my "To Do" List for today. I so desperately wish it had less "Must Do" and more "Fun to Do"!

In no particular order...
1.  Grade 160 math quizzes.  All about statistics.  35 are AP Statistics, and the other 125 are Algebra 2, on the topic of mean, median, mode, stemplots, boxplots... fall asleep yet?
2.  Hemming. DH's work pants and jeans, Princess's jeans and new school pants.
3.  Post Office. Must mail my silk dress to the Expo for the fashion show and contest next Saturday! (Fingers crossed...)
4.  Layout pattern for trench and cut fabric and lining.  I've got 3 yds of Charcoal Grey water-resistant Siltex (so soft!), and a rich dark teal silky (poly) lining.
5.  Laundry. Almost as painful as List Item #1...
6.  Online Button Shopping!  I've found an Etsy seller with the most beautiful buttons and very reasonably prices.  She goes by "The Trim Buyer", and is located in NY, where she is the trim buyer for a US fashion house.  Here are my fav's so far...  but honestly, I have so much trouble "pulling the trigger" when the options are so numerous!  These are within my budget... except for one.  Joanne, you have the most expensive taste!
(Click on pic to enlarge...)
Button A: Faux Jet

Button B: Beaded

Button C: Silver Filigree

Button D: Celtic Knot

Button E: Joann's Pick

Button F: Etched Shell

Button G: Geometric Filigree

Button H: The Seller's Pick

Button I: Square Jet

Ridiculous, right?!?!  My "Top 3 Picks" are B (Beaded), G (Geometric), and I (Square).  What do you think?  I want something eye-catching and feminine, but nothing so bold as to stand out too much.  And, there's plenty of each to get the 14 that the pattern calls for.  Survey says...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

So Close, and Yet...

I'm angry with ebay.  Actually, it's not ebay's fault, it's mine.  I'm just too nice for the "auction game".  I'm really more of a "Buy it Now" girl...

I've been planning out one of my next projects, a trench using McCall's 5525 and some wonderful water resistant, charcoal grey Siltex I bought from Ressy's co-op a year or so ago.  I'm thinking the longer option, view E.  I dug through the stash and found a beautiful teal silky blend for the lining, and realized the pattern called for 14 buttons.  Yikes... 14?

Well, Joann's wants as much as $5 for a card with 2 buttons on it, and I simply won't spend $35 on buttons.  Heck, I won't spend $20 on buttons, and would really prefer to stay under the $15 mark! So the search began...

Sawyer Brook has gorgeous buttons.  Expensive and gorgeous buttons.  So does M&J, Mood, and Pacific Trimming! Ann... I might take you up on your offer!

The Button Drawer was a really neat find, recommended by someone on the PR board.  Great selection and reasonable prices.

Ebay had some lovelies, but my conscience spoke up, and I won't pay $0.99 for a dozen buttons from China or Thailand.  Sorry, but I'm also a "Buy American" kind of girl.  But, I did find the most beautiful set of vintage black glass "mourning" buttons from Oklahoma.  $10 for the set of eleven.  Yes, I know I need 14!  But, when I showed Michelle, she convinced me that I could get by with 11.  Damn it... it's all Michelle's fault! ;)
Aren't they just beautiful???

So I logged on, made my bid, and held my breath.  Tick tock tick tock... I'm still the highest bidder.  2 minutes... 1 minute... 10 seconds... 3 seconds... BOOM!!! The sneaky SOB made the higher bid with 2 seconds left, not enough time for me to re-bid.  Dirty. Rotten. Scoundrel.  Of all the low... wait.  Why didn't I think of that????

So, now the button search resumes.  Those buttons would've been so lovely on my charcoal grey trench... Boooooo hoooooo!!!  If anyone has other great button resources, please do let me know!

And, Michelle?  You didn't fool me, sweetheart.  I know you are the dirty SOB that outbid me, and stole my buttons!!!  St. Louis, here I come...

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Simplicity 3775
Sometimes great projects just happen.  No crazy hunting for the perfect fabric.  No long and involved fine details.  Just a pretty fabric that you grabbed a while ago, and a simple pattern to showcase it.
Pattern:  This is an oldie, but goodie.  I think it was a very popular pattern last year (or the year before), and I've made it up before.  That's what brought me here to this project now.  I tried on the "1st Version" to wear out, and it fit great, but the v-neck made me really self-concious.  Remembering that the pattern had a regular scoop-neck option, I dug it out along with some knits that I had in the stash.  I made View A with the waistband ties and the longer version of the skirt.

Fabric:  I settled on this ITY from Joann's that I picked up in the spring from the Red Tag shelf.  It has a wonderful silky feel, and the print has some lovely shades of mauve, burgundy, and brown.  Perfect for fall!  I used every inch I had (not sure how much I started with), but the pattern calls for 2 3/8 yds.
Alterations:  None to the sizing and none to the pattern.  I even followed the directions, for once!

Notions:  No zipper, not even interfacing! Love this pattern...  just needed thread to match.  Constructing knit garments with a serger really is nice, but I can't really list a sewing machine as a notion, can I?  I used the coverstitch on the hem of the sleeves, too.  "Honey... but I need these machines..." ;)

Skill Level: Beginner!  Just a tiny bit of gathering under the bust line, but that's it.  The waist ties are just 2 tubes wrapped over each other, super duper easy! Part of the reason I also picked this pattern to work on this week.  The first week back to school is a rough one (always), so I needed something to sew that would be easy and stress reducing!  I did a little bit each day, and it was very easy to put down and pick up and day later without confusion.
Warnings:  If you've never worked with knits, you'll need the right needle (stretch) and a zig-zag.  Other than that, this is a wonderful pattern and you can use it year-round with all the sleeve and neckline variations.

Future Plans: This is now a TNT pattern for me, I'll reach for again.  It's comfortable and easy to make, so that makes it a win-win. Not necessarily the case for our Detroit Lions... boy, were they robbed today!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Vogue 1183: Kay Unger Dress

Vogue 1183
Pattern:  This Kay Unger pattern caught my attention as soon as it was released, with it's clean lines and elegant simplicity.  I had cut it in the spring to the size 16, whose finished garment measurements were the closest to mine.  Either I haven't correctly measured myself, or the pattern runs big... I ended up taking it in quite a bit.
Fabric:  A stretch cotton from Haberman Fabrics.  I purchased it last summer (maybe the summer before that?), and couldn't find the right pattern to work with it's texture (like a raised linen) and it's also slightly sheer.  So, I lined it with ivory china silk from Gorgeous Fabrics.  If you've never lined with china silk before, you must... it's so soft against your skin!  Slightly more expensive, but it's worth it.  You're worth it!
Here's the inside of the bodice, showing the china silk.  The same pieces are used for the lining as the outside, but no topstitching.  You can also see here how I machine stitched the opening along the topstitching line to prevent gaping.

Alterations:   Like I said, it runs a little bit big.  I highly recommend making a muslin first, as all the topstitching ended up not quite matching when I took it in along the side seams (about 1/2" on each side).  I also took the back in about 3/8" from the neckline to the hip.
Notions:   The topstitching requires a good matching thread, a twin needle (optional) and you'll also need a 20" invisible zipper.  I used a single needle for the topstitching, but wish I used the twin.  Just a tad bit more RTW, but I'm okay with the final look.
Skill Level:   High Intermediate to Advanced.  Somewhere around "attaching the lining" I got totally confused in the instructions.  Don't ask me how, it's Vogue (not Burda), but I ended up doing it my own way.  The bodice is lined first, so I managed to completely construct the dress (with the bodice lined), and fitted it with the zipper inserted, then attached the skirt lining. Like I said, don't ask me...
Vented at the hem center back

Warnings:   Be sure about the fit!!! Sharon is also working on the same pattern currently, and also ran into the same "fitting issues" after the topstitching was done.  However, she is far, far, far more patient than I, and ripped out the stitching to fix it properly.  Me? Not so much.
Future Plans:   It's a great dress, and now that I know exactly how it'll fit me, I'd love to do another version in a solid.  But, being sleeveless, I don't know about the timing on that, with fall rapidly approaching here!
Question:  Too form fitting for the classroom?  I head back to work tomorrow and was thinking about wearing this later this week.  But, what are your thoughts? Maybe better with a cardi or jacket?