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I’m Not Invisible Anymore!

23 Jun

This is a self-serving and gratuitous post to get my picture on the wonderful Not Dead Yet Style blog.  Thanks so much to Patti for making we women of a certain age visible again!

Now run along and check out my picture. : )


Slow But Steady Progress on Vogue 8804

11 Dec

It’s been awhile since I’ve updated you on my progress.  I’ll start at the beginning.

As I said in the last post, it took a long time just to gather the materials.  Once I did that, I realized some of the items were not quite right.  For example, the chain I purchased from somewhere (can’t remember) was too big.  I discover this when I went snoop shopping in the Chanel Boutique at Nordstrom.  I noticed the chain was much smaller and sturdier than the one I had.  Claire recommends a 1/4″ chain, and that may work, but the Chanel chains that I saw were 1/8″.  So, I went in search of a new chain.  This is the one I bought from Susan Khalje Couture:

Moving along, after everything was cut out, thread traced, and marked, it was time to practice buttonholes. The buttonholes were VERY challenging for me, mainly because I’m a perfectionist in my sewing, and I kept trying to get it “perfect”.  After I made the buttonholes, I had to put the whole project away for a few weeks to get some distance from the imperfection of the buttonholes I had created.  As is usual for me, once I went back to the project, I realized that part of the charm of a couture piece MUST be the little imperfections, so I’m okay with the buttonholes at this point:


Once the buttonholes were placed on the front, it was time to quilt the front a prepare the back of the buttonholes, which are made somewhat like a bound buttonhole:


It’s a good thing, too, since the backs of the hand sewn buttonhole are not very attractive.  Here is a picture of the quilting before it is pressed:


Notice the little dart in the lining.  That dart is in the lining only, the public side is actually eased and shaped with heat and steam.  I am learning so much about how couture garments are made, and loving every minute of it!  This type of dart shaping is continued as long, horizontal darts on the front and back pieces to shape the waist.

I’m currently working on quilting the back and shaping the darts there.  More later on the Chanel jacket.

Here is a little side project I worked on during my hiatus from buttonholes.  The inspiration came from Margy on Stitchers Guild.  I don’t know if she made hers or not, but when I saw hers, I had to figure it out.  It’s a unique scarf for a Christmas present:


Here are the instructions, unfortunately without pictures:

1. Cut lengths of knit fabric, about 1″ wide. The length will depend on how long you want the scarf. I would start by wrapping a measuring tape around my neck and measure from there. I think on the one I made, I just cut it 1 yard long because that’s how long my fabric pieces were. But, I do wish it were longer. When you cut the fabric, it will role automatically, either a little bit or a lot, depending on the fabric.

2. You don’t finish the edges. Leave them raw.

3. Let the lengthwise fabric role as it will. Pinch the rolled ends together and sew, overlapping the seams slightly. You now have a long, sort of rolled circle.

4. Make as many of these circles as you want, depending on how thick you want the scarf.

5. Put all of the overlapped seams together, and wrap a piece of rectangular fabric (the band) over them to hide the seams. Hand stitch, making sure you take up some of the circles to hold the little band in place.

Here are some more pictures that might help:




Vogue 8804 – Chanel Style Jacket

27 Sep

It’s been awhile since I’ve had anything happening in the sewing room that I felt was blog-worthy.  Now, however, I have an EPIC project that I want to document and share.  It’s the new Claire Schaeffer, Chanel style jacket sans motorcycle helmut and leather gloves:

It’s an epic project because of the preparation and sewing techniques involved.  My goal is to greatly improve my sewing skills during the construction of this jacket.  Hope springs eternal.

I bought the fabric during a wild shopping moment in London.  Don’t ever go to Joel & Son unless you want to unload some cash!  It IS a wonderful fabric store, but I’m glad it isn’t located in my town!  The fabric is a beautiful pewter gray boucle with “Chanel” written all over the selvedge.  I don’t really know what that means, except that perhaps the fabric was made for Chanel?

I purchased the lining at this shop, as well.  It’s a gray stripe silk – a beautiful piece that will look perfect with the boucle.

It took several weeks to accumulate the notions and trims, especially the trims.  Here is what was needed:

I had to get silk thread in this exact, sort of odd gray color, silk buttonhole twist in the same color, 1/4″ cotton woven stay tape, gold chain, buttons, interfacing and trim.  Most of that had to be ordered online, since there were no stores in my area that carried these items.  For the trim, I took some of the fabric apart and made a braid.  I made two other braids with some lighter and darker mohair, then I plaited the three braids together.  If I use this braid, I will put a black petersham ribbon under it, since I can’t find a gray ribbon to match.

The other option for the trim, and one I am favoring at the moment, is to fringe the boucle and use that as the trim.  The fringe on the boucle is really pretty, as you can see in the picture, so that may be the one.

I have just finished cutting out and marking the boucle.  Here are the pieces:

Now I am ready to cut out the lining and interfacing.  I am a very slow sewist as it is.  This will take some time, and I intend to enjoy the process.

Travel Wardrobe 2012

7 Mar

I have decided that I am hopeless at blogging, mainly because when I get stuck in my sewing, I get stuck in my blogging, as well.  That makes for a fairly sparse blog.  Here is a brief update:

The Koos jacket is still unfinished.  I decided somewhere along the way that it is NOT my style.  This was one of the best sewing failures I’ve ever had, in terms of what I learned:  I cannot wear clothes that don’t fit around the shoulders.  Forgive me if I am repeating myself, but I really have no shoulders to speak of; therefore, anything loose-fitting around the shoulders makes me look like I’m playing dress-up in my mother’s clothes.

The Koos jacket sat on my dress form for months, while my sewing and blogging languished.  I finally said to the Koos jacket, “Off with your head!”  It is now folded up in a corner of my sewing room…resting.

In the meantime, I have started my travel wardrobe for 2012.  In August, we are visiting family in Stockholm, and then taking a side trip to Budapest.  It will be very hot in Budapest, so I’m going for a very cool and casual wardrobe, which for me means loose-fitting and light-weight.

I’ve been working on this “packing for travel” thing for a long time, and have decided that knits are the way to go.  They are cool and comfortable, they pack light and fold to nothing.  I can wash them in the sink and hang to dry.  Knits are really perfect for a travel wardrobe.

My travel wardrobe will look something like this for a two-week trip:

1.  7 knit tops

2.  2 knit pants

3.  1 skirt

4.  1 or 2 knit overlayers (shirt or cardigan)

Marcy Tilton has some wonderful fabric she calls “Paris microfiber knit” that I used last year on some casual pants.  I loved the ease of wear of this fabric, so I bought a ton of it for this year’s travel wardrobe, both in black and gray.  Here is what I have come up with so far:

Here, I am following Nancy Nix Rice’s idea of a column of color as a base.  This will make me look taller and thinner…maybe : ).  The top is the StyleArc’s Annie’s Cami and the pants are Cutting Line Design’s Discover Something Novel.

I threw a Babette blouse from my closet over my shoulders, and viola, an outfit:

Then I made this StyleArc Creative Cate top to go with the pants:

Finally, I added this StyleArc cardigan to the mix:

The cardi is not hemmed in this picture, but you can see that I’m working my way to a functional summer travel wardrobe.

Vogue 8120 and 8634 – The Six-Pack Continues

16 Nov

One thing I’ve noticed about my sewing skills lately is that I’m finally to the point of being able to look at a mistake without having a complete nervous breakdown.  Now, that’s progress!  I ALMOST see a mistake as a challenge to be overcome.  It definitely means less wadders.

I’ve just completed Vogue 8120, and yes, I made a few mistakes (shhhhhhh).  I made the white view (3/4 sleeves), but with buttons.  Here is the completed top, worn with my Vogue 8435 skirt:

I used a pattern that went from size 6 to 12, which I really hate because my hips require a size 14.  I wish they would just put all the sizes in one envelope.  I would even be willing to pay more for a pattern with all the sizes.

I decided to use the size 6 through the neck and shoulders, but I still had to do a narrow shoulder adjustment.  This was complicated by the fact that the top has armscye princess seams, and I wasn’t sure how to do a narrow shoulder adjustment with these seams.  That, and having to grade up to a size 14 at the hips led me to do the unthinkable…I made a muslin.

I’m glad I made the muslin, because the adjustments were pretty easy, once I could see what I was dealing with.  I’ll never say “I never make muslins” again, but I WILL still say that I hate making them.

This fabric is either a viyella (cotton/wool) or more likely a wool challis.  I decided to use french seams, and I even did them on the armscye:

I love this blouse, and will probably make it up again in white cotton.  It would be the perfect white blouse.

I had been looking for a cowl neck that wouldn’t fall off my shoulders, and many people recommended Vogue 8634:

I made the middle view with 3/4 sleeves:

I liked this top so much, I made it in a sweater knit, as well, which I will show you on another post.

Both of these tops go with the Vogue skirt I made for the six-pack.  So, I have three pieces done and three to go.

Some of you asked me to post a picture of my jacket with me wearing it, so here it is:

I included a side view so you could see that it is not a swing coat, like the envelope would have you believe.  It’s okay with me, because I love the way this coat turned out, but if you have your heart set on a swing coat, this is not it.

I am on my way to New York City tomorrow to go fabric shopping for the Koos Coat that is a part of my six-pack.  I’ll have lots of NYC pictures to share when I get back.

Out of Print Vintage Vogue 2884

20 Oct

I was six years old in 1954 – a long time ago.  I never thought I would want to go back to that era’s style, but when I saw this jacket, I just had to sew it.  Of course it was out of print, so there goes $25.00.  I’m glad I purchased it, though, because it made a wonderful jacket that I’m sure I’ll wear a lot.  Here is my version:

Buttoned Up




This is my first “advanced” pattern, and I’m very pleased with the way it turned out.

I had two big challenges.  One was learning how to make bound buttonholes.  I must have ripped the buttonholes out at least five times each before I got the hang of it.  Lesson learned:  make a few practice buttonholes before you attempt to forge right into your final piece.  What was I thinking?  It turned out well, anyway, and I now know how to make a bound buttonhole.

The second big challenge was straightening out a rather crooked and ripply hemline after I topstitched it.  I owe a rather large piece of chocolate to my wonderful sewing instructor, Marla Kazell, for getting me through this part (and all parts, really).  The main thing that Marla has taught me is how to “feel” the fabric until you determine where it doesn’t feel right so that you can adjust.  Marla is known by her students for having “magic fingers”.  I’m hoping some of her magic will rub off on me.

The fabric is a gorgeous piece of navy camelhair that I purchased on sale for $9.99/yard from FabricMart.  I lined it with a rather abstract print silk charmeuse.

I’m pretty sure I’ll make this jacket again someday.  It really is a timeless piece, and it went together very well.

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