Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Fun with Panels!

I love working with panels and border prints because they challenge my creativity and present me with little puzzles that I have more fun working out. Okay...I know I'm weird when it comes to fabric but so are you or you wouldn't be reading this blog.
When I saw this fabric on Emma One Sock I was at the same time intrigued and skeptical. It was more or less an impulse buy but one that I'm so happy I made. It is purely a printed cotton, nothing eyelet about it, but it is so unbelievably realistic it's amazing. I bought 2 panels and it was more than enough for my tunic and it afforded me 4 scalloped edges. Here is the uncut fabric:

Truly, with the construction of this pattern and the design elements on this fabric the possibilities were simply endless. I played around with it for hours. When my vision started to gel, I went to Simplicity's website and printed out the line drawing to sketch on and that helped to anchor the color blocking in my head:

The back of this tunic is really cute, too. And I can't reach the hook at the top of my zipper!
I like the inside finishing of the band and the front yoke, which extends into the shoulder straps:
I can't remember when I've had more fun playing with fabric! I'm always on the lookout for border prints and panels. I used to be afraid of them but now I chase them down!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Renfrew, Renfrew, Renfrew

Surely, the renown pinnacle of the campy Brady Bunch show was the "Marsha, Marsha, Marsha" episode. Poor Jan, it was always all about Marsha.
Well, now it's all about the Renfrew. I was late getting on this train but I'm so happy it didn't leave the station without me. I swore I wasn't going to review it but it simply has to be done. Not so much a review as a share the love, kumbaya jubilee. What a great pattern. What a fabulous top. Many a knit top I've made. Many a favorite I've touted. This one has something different, something extra.
I've made it 3 times and have 3 completely different tops. The cowl reacts differently with every fabric. Soft and cozy with the spotty cotton knit from  Hobby Lobby, dressy with the heavy and drapey bronze on black Rococo knit from Vogue Fabrics and luxurious with the sage and nutmeg tones of the Missoni Lace knit from High Fashion.
So, what is that something different and extra? I think it is the band finishing. A total serge-fest. Clean and neat on the inside and oh, so great on the outside.
So far I've only experimented with the cowl version but look forward to making the other views. If you've not yet treated yourself to this fab Sewaholic pattern, please do it. Before the train pulls out!

Friday, November 1, 2013

BurdaStyle U.S. Premiere Issue!

I just downloaded the first BurdaStyle U.S. magazine. The entire magazine! All 196 pages of it. Is it packed with good articles? Check. Cute fall and winter patterns? Check. The patterns themselves? Check, check.
It's a very interesting concept. Some of the patterns are included in the usual style Burda "map" that is at the end of the magazine. These have to be cut and pieced like a regular digital pattern. The rest are available as free downloads from Burda and you are given a code to access those. Fairly brilliant in my opinion. A pretty good sewing fix for $14.99.
Now, were many of the patterns re-treads from previous issues? Yes, but they do that in the print magazine as well. The only downside I see is not being able to preview all the patterns before purchasing. I don't subscribe to BurdaStyle but instead buy it at the local international magazine store...that is IF I decide I want it after previewing.
Check it out! I think it's a cool concept. Those of you who have shied away from BurdaStyle will really enjoy it...there's an excellent tutorial on how their patterns work.
See for yourself! Here's the LINK.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Claire's Genius Strikes Again & a COUPON!

Most of you are familiar with Clair Tharp and her ingenious measuring and finishing tools like the SA Curve for adding seam allowances, and the E-Z Pocket and Shirtmaker tools found at her Etsy shop , but the new SA Curve Measuring Wheel blows me away! Claire has graciously offered to give my readers a 20% discount when ordered on her Etsy shop. Use coupon code ARTATTACK20 for the discount!
When I first heard about the concept it didn't really make sense to me and a pizza cutter for sewing was as far as my pea brain could take it. However, the perfect opportunity presented itself this weekend for me to try it out. After pinning the sleeve of my jacket to the body, it had much more ease than I wanted. I got my magic wheel and set it to zero at one end of the sleeve head:

Then I simply rolled around to the other end. The wheel is segmented into eight 1" sections so counting is easy either by inches, or by complete and then partial revolutions, which is how I did it:

Then I measured the jacket sleeve opening in the same manner. I had a 1" difference. I recut my sleeve 1 size smaller and was then able to sew my sleeve in flat, with a perfect fit and no easing!

Give this little tool a try. Now that I understand the concept (many time simple ideas confound me more than difficult ones!) I know I will find a myriad of uses for it on my sewing projects. No more trying to get a tape measure to stand on its side!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Love My Minoru!

Well, I certainly see what all the commotion has been over this jacket! Sewaholic's Minoru is nothing short of brilliance. It's been quite some time since I've had so much fun watching a garment come to life as this one did.
I've seen so many cute versions of this jacket I soon realized that the possibilities were really endless as far as the look that could be created. I wanted mine to be what I would call "dressy casual". I found this cotton twill at Mood Fabrics. The toile print is large, and also had a 25" repeat, so I worried that it might overwhelm the jacket, but I think it's perfect. Especially in the back:

I used a waterproof zip which looked a little dressier since the teeth are not exposed and it has an appearance of being more of a satin strip than a zipper. I topstitched with black to tie it all together:

For the lining I used a cotton/spandex and wanted to use a print much less conservative than the toile. And, of course, I used snaps on the inside pockets because I could! So loving those snaps:

And lastly, the sleeve lining is Ambience Bemberg:

I vacillated FOREVER whether to make a size 6 or 8 and finally settled on the 8. It is perfect everywhere except the hips. One my next one I will grade down a size or two.  Oh, yes, there will be a next one and probably one after that!
I will post this on Pattern Review as my Lined Jacket Contest entry, even though I am not eligible to receive votes. However, I can vote for the Minoru to possibly be my favorite pattern of all time! Up until now, at least.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Join the PR Lined Jacket Contest!

I'm the contest manager for the Pattern Review Lined Jacket Contest that runs from October 1-October 31, 2013. Even though I'm ineligible to win (so sad) I still plan to enter and make a lined jacket. I hope some of y'all decide to enter, as well, and we'll have some fun with it!
I've finally ordered the Sewaholic Minoru jacket and plan to make that during the month of the contest. I've seen SO many adorable versions of this jacket and can't wait to put my twist on it. I'm making the version without the hood:
I simply love Tasia's version of her own pattern:
I've ordered a cream and rust toile cotton twill from Mood for my jacket. I hope it's as lovely upon arrival as it is on their site:
Actually, I've had really good luck ordering fabric online. I don't think I've ever been disappointed with anything I've ordered. (I know, I know...typical comment from an addict.)
I hope some of you get inspired to enter the Lined Jacket Contest! Complete details and contest rules are on the link above. Join me!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Snap Happy!

I may never make another buttonhole again! I just discovered the wonder of snaps after purchasing the awesome SnapSetter tool from This ingenious little invention is simple in design, easy to use, inexpensive and foolproof. That is the quadrafecta (new word) of bliss for moi.
So, what better welcome to my sewing world could I give the little SnapSetter other than using it to adorn my November Archer? I could think of no better christening.
The biggest dilemma I had was choosing which color pearl snaps to order. My fabric has so many wonderful fall colors in it the decision was a bit daunting but I settled on trying to match the contrast fabric that I used on the bands and undercollar:
I went out on a limb and ordered "Peacock Blue" hoping I wouldn't wince when I opened the package. They are perfect!
This proved to me that the color charts on the SnapSource website are fairly accurate. When I place my next order I may buy one of their complete sample sets that gives you 1 snap in every color they offer.
I aspire to someday be a perfect topstitcher like JStarr4250 but I'm not there yet. I figure I might be after finishing 5 more Archers.
Oh, I almost forgot the Archer. Well, I'm not sure what else to say about it that hasn't already been said. I did review it here. I love it, the fabric is me, me, me but the takeaway I want to leave you with is GET SNAPS!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Officially Sewing For Fall

It happens every year about this time. It's hot a blazes outside, a beautiful fall fabric catches my eye, and I get wistful for that first cold snap. I know...I on the Gulf Coast we have a long wait for that day, so the next best thing is just to start sewing for it, right?
McCall's 6801 is my new favorite dress pattern! It was easy to put together, fits great and has several great looks within one pattern.

I especially love the sweetheart neckline created by the two bodice drapes that cross:

And the amount of ruching front and back which I think is flattering to almost everyone:

And since we must be seen from behind by everyone else!

Read my complete Pattern Review here for my adventures in using my ruffler attachment to ruch this particular fabric.

I love my new dress and my new favorite pattern!

Thanks for stopping by! Are you sewing for fall yet?

Monday, August 12, 2013

One Good Grainline Deserves Another

 Having made 6 of my 12 Grainline Studio's Archer shirts in Julie Starr's fun sew-along, I decided to give the Grainline Moss a whirl. I love it!
The pattern is downloadable and comes in two lengths, a mini-skirt and a longer version that has a bottom band creating extra length. I made the extended version and it is still pretty short! I may lengthen it a little bit next time.
This first Moss I made as a muslin and since I achieved glove-fit right out of the envelope, or I should say right off the printer, it is most certainly a wearable muslin. My first Archer shirt, shown above, has a great hot pink in it and so I made this skirt specifically with it in mind, and used hot pink topstitching:

This skirt, like the Archer shirt, lends itself to a myriad of design possibilities with different fabric, topstitching- more, less or none, color blocking with the bottom band and a whole lot of other ideas that were swimming around in my head as I was working on it. Hmmm...wonder if a "12 Months of Grainline Studios Moss Skirt" sew-along is lurking around out there!
In my quest to continue learning new techniques I tried Grainline's method of fly zipper insertion and I really liked it. 

I did have some fun with contrast cotton for the pocket bags and fly shield:

My takeaway is that Grainline Studio patterns are exceptionally well drafted and a pleasure to sew. I have found their sizing to be right on with RTW in both the Archer shirt and the Moss skirt.

Here is my complete pattern review:
Pattern Description: A semi-fitted mini skirt with optional band at hem. Skirt features a fly front and button closure as well as a yoke at the back. Techniques involved include straight and curved seams, inserting a fly front zipper and basic hemming. Pattern is nested to facilitate cutting between sizes, if necessary. Downloadable version only.
Pattern Sizing:
0-18 I find Grainline Studio's sizing to be right on with RTW. I made the longer version skirt in size 6.
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Were the instructions easy to follow?
The instructions are excellent. I only veered from them a few times.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
Method of fly zipper insertion, drafted to perfection, inclusion of a fly shield, the pattern is drafted such that the pockets have just a little room for your hands and yet there is no gap at the hip when they're empty. I like the bottom band treatment that has a finished hem when completed.
If I have a dislike it is only that the longer version is still pretty short! I may lengthen it some next time but I made this one for a muslin and will certainly wear it as is. No major dislikes.
Fabric Used:
A denim weight cotton/spandex.
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
My changes were minimal. The 6 fit me straight off the page. I did some additional seam finishing and topstitching. I topstitched down the banded hem (at the top part of the band) rather than slip stitching by hand. I used a lot of Wonder Tape at the zip rather than basting. I used a skirt hook at the waist to fasten rather than a button because I didn't want a button interfering with a belt if I choose to wear one. I used a contrast cotton for the pocket liners and fly shield.
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I see many more of these in my future and I definitely recommend it.
Both of the Grainline Studio patterns I have sewn so far have been a joy to work with because they are so beautifully drafted. It really makes me wonder how the Big 4, who've been around since before most of us were born, can get so sloppy with the patterns that come off their drawing boards. Hats off to these indie pattern makers that are giving them a run for their money.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

1940's Retro

I wasn't excited about getting on the peplum bandwagon until I saw Simplicity 1590. To me, it's the true essence of the retro peplum of the 40's and 50's. I love its simple lines, flattering neckline, cap sleeve, cinched in waist and full skirted peplum.
Are these adorable or what?

And there is an interesting fashion history story on the instruction page that I thought was very enlightening:
"Social trends always had a certain amount of influence over fashion. With the onset of WW II, the United States experienced the largest change in fashion to date. Prior to the war, the American designers were traveling abroad for inspiration for their designs. 1941 changed all that and laid the foundation for the United States to become the sportswear capital of the world.
American designers went from full to slim in all silhouettes. Skirts were shortened and were topped with above hip length jackets. Evening wear went from long, flowing gowns to slim fitted sheaths. Designers created separates and coordinating pieces as they were guided by the War Production Board to design fashions that would remain stylish and wearable through the seasons. The American fashion staple of mix and match pieces, or coordinated separates and wardrobes was born."
Here are a couple more photos:
And side view:
I love my blouse! And the polka dots, too.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Dress to Love

I think Rachel Comey has outdone herself with the simplicity and elegance of Vogue 1350. The hidden snap closure down the front gives a clean and classic look. I am simply in love with it! It is easy to wear, fits like a glove and I think it will have lots of versatility when made with different fabrics and then accessorized. I can't wait to make a more casual version in a soft cotton.
Here is a closer look at the front bodice:

And I adore the back neckline!

Completely lined, it just has that nice weight of  an upscale RTW garment:

I need to put Maggie on a diet so my clothes fit her! Back lining:

Here is my complete Pattern Review:

Pattern Description:
Lined dress has yoke fronts extending into sleeves, close-fitting bodice with side back seams, raised waist, semi-fitted skirt, side front extends to lower side back, no side seams, mock front bands, and concealed snap closure.
Pattern Sizing:
6-14 in my envelope. I made my usual size 12
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing it?
Were the instructions easy to follow?
Okay. I have to give the instructions a C-. There is some very intricate work in the bodice around the yoke, front and side front pieces. These same pieces are lined, doubling your pleasure. I just think they could have done a better job with descriptions and made the illustrations less confusing. Once you get through that portion of the bodice, the rest is easy as pie. If I didn't love the finished result so much I might rant a little more, but I have to forgive BVM.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I love the style of this dress and the clean, simple front with the hidden snap closure. The fit is great and it can be made dressy or casual depending on fabric and accessories. My only dislike was the instruction issue described above.
Fabric Used:
A linen/cotton blend. Polyester lining that I regret using now. If I'd known how I was going to love this dress I would have used Ambience or something nicer.
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
None needed.
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I will absolutely sew this again and very highly recommend.
Because of my frustration with the bodice instruction this one was in close danger of being a wadder. I'm so happy I persevered because I adore this dress!

Can you tell?

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Oh, Mother, Where Art Thou?

Not all of our sewing project can be successes.
Many years ago I was making a Vogue pattern that had a button placket down the front, just like this one. It was dark purple, just like this one. I couldn't do it, just like this one. Only many years ago I could go to my sainted mother for her sewing expertise. Sadly, I had to plow through this one on my own. And it shows:
By the time I realized I was not going to have perfection on my placket, I decided to just plow ahead and make it fun. Had I made that decision earlier on, I would have exposed all my orange seams to the outside instead of hidden in the inside...spilt milk:
Oh, well. I actually love it and it will be a fun knock-around dress for lounging and the beach. It just isn't perfect. Thanks, Mom. I know you were watching the whole thing and wishing you could come to the rescue.
For the gory details, read my complete Pattern Review.
Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Pantone Can Keep Their Emerald

I love the silk Archer I made for July but there was something so off about the color. I know something is not my color when I have nothing in my closet that goes with it. I even took it with me on a trip to  High Fashion to find fabric for a pair of pants. Everything was either "yuck" or "meh..."
What to do?
Teal to the rescue! There is something SO satisfying about dunking a piece of silk into a boiling pot of acid dye. Having sandwashed this crepe de chine previously I had no fear about the dyeing process. My thoughts were "what's the worst that can happen? I'm not wearing it the way it is..."
And now I LOVE it and it will see lots of wear. I found that I couldn't focus on my next Archer with that emerald green nagging at me. What a difference a dye makes!
Got something in your closet that you like everything about except the color? Check out the assortment of dyes made by Jacquard. It's fun, fast and virtually fool-proof.

Friday, June 7, 2013

50 Shades of Green

This post is about Dominance and Submission. But wait, before you dash off to your adult toy closet for instruments of pain, let me clarify that I am in the role of the Dom and my Sub is a length of green silk crepe de chine. No whips and chains needed, my washing machine and steam iron were the flogging tools.
Some years ago a friend gave me about 3 yards of patterned silk crepe de chine in an emerald color. Not being a huge fan of jewel tones it sat on the shelf.
Earlier this week I heard whispers of "Archer" coming from my stash closet. It was that green silk saying "I have potential...get creative." Well, don't dare this girl  to get creative and not expect action. Game on! (wink@Julie) I'd been wanting to make View B of the Archer and thought stonewashed silk would be the perfect fabric for this view with the little flounce in the back:
Not having any stones, I threw that silk into the washer set on hot along with a couple pair of bluejeans for some agitation. Then into a hot dryer. I then repeated the hot water wash process but with a cold water rinse and adding about a teaspoon of hair conditioner to the final rinse. Then I dried on a medium setting. Voila! It was faded to a lovely sprucey-teal green and the fibers had compressed to a heavier weight with great drape. It is soft and without that shiny crepe de chine finish, which I'm not crazy about, and it smells great! Although it is no longer emerald, in this pic it does show the pretty pattern:

Now, back to Archer View B. There has been much discussion among some of us participating in the 12 Months of Grainline Studios Archer Shirt Sew-along , as to how View B is going to translate on our backsides. So, I volunteered to pioneer the road here, knowing that there was a definite potential of becoming known as Ol' Ruffle Butt.
However, I had a sneaking suspicion that I was going to love this style shirt and I do! Having said that, I think the success of View B is completely dependent on your fabric. Absolutely use a fabric that is drapey and presses well like a silk or rayon woven. I think with the crispness and body of a cotton you would indeed have a ruffle butt.
The pattern suggests gathering the back flounce but I decided to use my ruffler attachment to make pleats. The first thing I did was to cut a muslin of the flounce piece so I could test out which setting I needed on my attachment:

The perfect setting ended up being my ruffler set at every 6th stitch and then decreasing the length of the ruffle marked area on the pattern by approximately 1" at each end. Perfect fit:

Once the flounce is attached I pressed the heck out of it to really flatten it out. I pressed the seam upwards and then trimmed a little off before topstitching it:

I used the cap sleeve idea from V8886 that I recently made and previously posted here.  Basically, all you do is copy the sleeve cap and make a straight line the length of your armscye seam, which on this shirt is 1/2" Here is a picture of the pattern piece I made over the back side of the Archer sleeve:

I cut 4 sleeves from my silk and used 2 of them for the lining. Stitch wrong sides together at the hem, press and turn and then treat as one sleeve. For the remaining 4-5 inches at the underarm I used bias cut fabric strips to bind. Here is a little closer up on the finished sleeves. I think it's a cute look for summer:

And now for the buttonholes! My thinking on this shirt was that since it is so GREEN, and I didn't use contrast fabric anywhere, I felt like the color needed to be broken up. I found some adorable mother-of-pearl buttons in my button jar and thought they would be perfect since the iridescence picks up the green. Then I sort of went crazy with them and came up with this:
Cute, right? That was 11:00 last night. This morning all I could think about was spacing and  marking 11 buttonholes! Oh, that my Bernina had the ninja buttonhole feature that the newer models have...but sadly, I have to mark, measure and stitch the old fashioned way. Googling around I found a brilliant tip on Sew Chic's blog. She made her buttonhole markings on 1/4" quilters tape and taped it down the bottonhole placket as a guide. Not having any quilters tape I  thought my trusty blue painters tape would work just as well. So...I made some practice buttonholes to get the proper size and then decided where I wanted my beginning and ending buttons to be and started the spacing process on tape affixed to my cutting ruler like so: (Warning! This is very have to be able to count to 10)
And then with the tape transfered directly to the button band:
By the way, my perfect collar points and rounded pocket corners were made using Claire's fabulous EZ Pocketmaker found on her ETSY Shop.
Bottom line...I love View B of the Archer. I have another gorgeous piece of silk in my stash that I've been saving for just the right project. I see August's Archer in my future!