Saturday, May 26, 2012

Why I Love Orange

This is my second entry in the Natural Fibers Contest. I didn't really plan on making a second entry but I spotted this ORANGE print and saw that it was 100% cotton. I had to have it anyway, so might as well enter another garment, right?

Many have reviewed this pattern before me and I did not read them all so this may have been mentioned...the only major insight that I found was in the ruffles. If gathered as patterned they would have been VERY skimpy. I doubled the length and mine might look as full as those on the pattern envelope.

I also have to add that my ruffle inspiration is Sarah of Goodbye Valentino whose gorgeous ruffled creations make all of us want to be more feminine. If you haven't seen her blog, you much check it out.

So, without further ado, here is my review from PR:

Pattern Description: Misses top with trim variations. Separate patterns included for B, C and D cup sizes.
Pattern Sizing:
4-12 I made a 12D
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes, I think so.
Were the instructions easy to follow?
Very easy for the view I made (E).
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
Likes: the ruffles! Like Cissy, I was inspired by Goodbye Valentino's beautiful ruffled garments. Also, the simplicity of a simple pattern with lots of cute variations. I would have disliked the fullness of the ruffle had I used the pattern as given. More on that in changes below.
Fabric Used:
100% cotton for entry in the Natural Fibers Contest.
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I did take the waist in about 2" on each side to give it a little shape. The main change I made was on the ruffle. I did several test runs with my ruffler and found that using the lengths given in the pattern I would never have achieved as full a ruffle as pictured on the pattern envelope. I doubled the length of the ruffle fabric and used most all of that on my shirt. Using the pattern as given the ruffle would have been really skimpy. This pattern has been reviewed a lot so this may have been mentioned...I did not read all of them. There is a close up of my ruffle
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I might lengthen it to a dress. If I do I will scoop out the neckline a little bit. Definitely recommend if you haven't made it yet.
Cute, easy pattern resulting in a fun top. And it's bad could it be?

 Okay, so here's the reason that I love orange...

When I was 5 years old my mom put me in charge of making the biggest decision of my young life.

We were living in Webster Groves, MO and I was starting kindergarten. There was an afternoon class and there was a morning class. She absolutely didn't care which one I chose. Can you imagine the weight of a decision like that on the shoulders of a little kid? (Smart mom...early training for real life.)

Ultimately, the decision became simple and I chose the afternoon class. Why? The morning classroom had a purple door and the afternoon class had an orange door. Boom. There you have the beginning of a love affair with the color orange.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Patterns

I'm not really one who is prone to rant, however, I do tend to get my thong in a wad when I am forced to endure ineptness forced upon me by "the system".

Back in April I was first to respond to a fellow Pattern Reviewer who was giving away 60 (you read that right...SIXTY!!) Vogue patterns from the 70's and 80's in sizes 10-12, simply for the cost of shipping. "What a coup!" I thought as I made the PayPal transaction.

I did a ton of sewing in those eras and would bet money that I used to own some of those same patterns. No matter, it was going to be a treasure trove of delirium going through them with my mind being barraged with ideas, fabric choices, style changes, combinations, etc. Sounds heavenly to any sewing fanatic, right?

I've been like a kid at Christmas with excitement and anticipation of what might be in that box! Every day I stick my head in the office at my condo saying "Do I have a package?" I know the staff is now saying among themselves "that poor woman really needs to get a life."

Enter the United States Postal Service.

The patterns were shipped on May the 8th by the USPS originating in Williamstown, PA. Tracking it online here is the route thus far:

Williamstown, Pa to

Philly to

Jersey City to

Dallas (close...I'm in Houston) to

ATLANTA! (wrong direction) to

Memphis (paying respects at Graceland?? Dunno...) BACK TO

ATLANTA! (Too bad I don't live there any longer...I'd go pick them up)

To date, still no patterns. I now have my local post office on the case. And these people wonder why they are going out of business?

Okay, I feel better now. Thank you. Carry on.

Oh, I just HAD to add this addendum. I just filled out an online survey the USPS sent me about my level of customer satisfaction! I'm sure the will rue the day they hit "send" on that baby!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

I Cracked the Code!

I made my first garment from BurdaStyle magazine!

At first just finding the pattern on the sheet felt like trying to find my way around Hong Kong with a map printed in Chinese. But once I focused in on the pieces that went with my shirt it was like magic...I just started seeing it!

Now I'm hooked! I've already set my sights on another one I want to make. Here's a picture from the magazine of my shirt:

And here's my review...

Pattern Description: Tie-waist blouse. The blouse appears to be two layered separates but it's the front ties that create that illusion
Pattern Sizing:
Burda sizes 36-44
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Were the instructions easy to follow?
Yes, although they were scant. I found it easier to do my own thing.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
Easy! Cute and different style that looks much more complicated than it is. Very easy to put together. I like the puffy little sleeves...they are so feminine. My only dislike, and it is really just more of a personal preference, I would have liked the neck scooped out a little. When I make it again I will make that change.
Fabric Used:
Rayon woven
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I lengthened the hemline by 3". I cut the back on the fold rather than with a seam as suggested. I finished the tie pieces with a rolled hem...somehow they just called for that. The pattern suggests snaps at the neckline closure. There weren't really any instructions for how to close the front so I just overlapped the two fronts and topstitched on both sides of the front tab from my desired neck opening length down to the hem. I didn't put any type of closure at the neck and like it better just left open and draping. The top goes over my head with no problem.
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I will sew this again. I think this layered look lends itself to all sorts of possibilities. I definitely recommend this top. This is my first garment from the BurdaStyle magazine! I've never wanted to take the time to decipher the roadmap but now I'm hooked!
I'm not a virgin anymore and it didn't even hurt! If you've been intimidated by the maze of pattern lines and symbols on the magazine insert, don't be! I found it all to be very logical and well thought out. I used wax paper to trace on and when a wider sheet was needed I just melted to two sheets together with a hot iron. Worked like a charm. Their markings and instructions might be on the slight side but, interestingly enough, this seemed to make things easier. If you have some level of garment construction experience you will breeze through it. Now I'm going back through all my back issues to see what I missed!

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Happy Hoodie

This Vogue 8006  hoodie is my entry in the PR Natural Fibers contest. My review of it is below the photos.

It was fun to make and is my homage to the maxi-dress of the 70's. Which, by the way, I wore then... Scroll way down to the bottom to see yours truly at Pat O'Brien's in 1972 when I wore a sexier version... But for forward MANY years...

And here is my review of this pattern:

Pattern Description: Fitted dresses A, B (semi-fitted through bust) have self-lined hood and bodice, side slits, front zipper, narrow hem and two lengths. A, B, C, D cup sizes. My comment: With the exception of the bodice, I am baffled by why Vogue describes this as a fitted dress. It is shapeless, sacky and baggy below the bodice, which is what you'd expect from a casual hoodie but they are calling it a fitted dress.
Pattern Sizing:
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes, I think so.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Typically Vogue, fairly straitghforward. Although it was not printed in the instructions, the graphics showed topstitching along both sides of the seam going up the hood. I attempted this from both the lining side (printed fabric on mine) as well as the fabric (solid orange) side and I quickly found that whichever side I topstitched on I was not going to be happy with the result on the other side not being neatly aligned to that seam so I left that detail off.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
Likes: the cup sizes first and foremost. I probably wouldn't have given this pattern a second look were it not for that. I liked the fully lined bodice giving the inside of your garment a nice finish. The drafting on this pattern was exceptionally good, the hood and bodice went together very nicely. No dislikes!
Fabric Used:
I am entering this in the Natural Fibers contest and I decided on cotton for my fabric. For the solid colors I used Robert Kaufman Kona cotton in tangerine and curry purchased online at the Fat Quarter Shop. Last week I wrote a review on that fantastic buying experience that you can read
here. The print is quilting cotton purchased locally at High Fashion. This was the dream project as far as fabrics go...good cotton is so awesome to work with. It does need a good press, though, but I'm one of those weird-os who loves to

During my search for the perfect cotton I learned that not all Kona cottons are created equal. I read many reviews on the Kona that Joann sells citing major shrinkage and color bleeding. With the Robert Kaufman Kona I had virtually no shrinkage and no color bleed.
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I cut a 12 D and graded out toward a 14 at the hips but ended up taking that back to a 12.

I did nip the waist in a bit to give it a little more shape.

I shortened the upper skirt portion 3". If you make the long version you will want to be sure to make your lengthen/shorten adjustment on the on the mark given for that above the waist. If you make it on the lower skirt portion, or at the hem, it will distort the proportion of that color in relation to the bodice. It think that's an important detail that should have been pointed out in the pattern somewhere.

It has been quite some time since I have inserted anything but an invisible zipper so after staring at Vogue's instructions and then the zipper package for a while I found a great tip in the Threads Sewing Guide which is poorly reproduced
here. Basically, you baste your seam. Align the zipped teeth to the seam, baste or fuse in place (I used Steam-A-Seam Lite and it worked great) then on the right side lay down a piece of 1/2" Scotch tape with the seam in the center of it and then the tape provides a perfect template to topstitch around and you can see what you're doing as you go. Brilliant!
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I do recommend it and I actually might make it again. My original intent for making this one was to wear to the club when I swim laps. The longer I sewed on it the more I liked it and the less I wanted to be sitting around in a wet, chlorinated swim suit on this beautiful cotton. I might make one out of a synthetic for the pool!
Is it me or is the envelope for this pattern the most uninspiring thing you've ever seen? Even the model photos on
BVM are dull. Like I said, the cup sizes called my name and then I saw the contest coming up, and then when I saw that the bodice and hood were lined, the wheels started turning thinking how cute this might be in some fun fabric...well, anyway, this is what was in my head... which is sometimes a scary place to be!

And now...if you've read this far you must really want to see that 1972 flashback...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Customer Service is alive and well in Manchaca, TX!

It's true! This is a great find...

First of all, I'm a native Texan and have combed this great state from the northern panhandle to the Rio Grande valley and I'd never even heard of Manchaca. Doesn't matter...The Fat Quarter Shop calls it home and that's good enough for me.

After shopping around locally and then online, I ordered Robert Kaufman Kona cotton from the FQS  to make a garment for the PR Natural Fabrics contest. Don't be fooled by the name, their selection of cotton fabrics waaaay surpasses fat quarters.

Rather than re-write my entire review you can see it here. The bottom line is I was blown away by the customer service of this internet-only shop. The owner actually personally replied (within an hour!) to an email I sent on a Sunday afternoon saying someone would follow up with me the next day. Within 36 hours I had swatches in my mailbox. Finally making my decision and placing my order on a Friday, I received the lovingly packed bundle shown above the next Monday!

If you make an occasional quilt, love cute quilting cottons for garment sewing or just love cotton...check out the Fat Quarter won't be disappointed!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Best of PR Contest...One Last V1224

I love this pattern. You already knew I love this fabric.

So repeat both and be happy! I entered it in Pattern Review's BEST PATTERN Contest for no other reason that I was going to make it again anyway, so why not?

Side view...I love the little blouson that the back makes:

And back view:

The final words of wisdom that I have for this pattern is you MUST use non-roll elastic, especially at the neck. If not, you will get a wonky squareness like this:

Rather than a nice round neck like this:

Okay, I'm putting this pattern to bed and starting on something new. Not quite sure what it will be although I do have a great idea in mind for the NATURAL FIBER Contest. ...Stay tuned!