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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 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.

Reporting on Sew Expo, Puyallup

8 Mar

Sew Expo – exciting, creative, inspiring, and exhausting!  It will take me a few days to recover. Fortunately, my foot held out well, and I was able to navigate the fairgrounds without issue.

I took some wonderful classes, and was fortunate that not one of them was a dud.  When I was teaching, I would take lots of workshops to either brush up on my teaching skills, or to learn new ones.  I would consider a workshop successful if I took just one thing away from it that I could use immediately in my teaching.  So, I’d like to go through each workshop and highlight the one lesson that I will probably use right away.

1.  Cutting Through the Red Tape, Louise Cutting:  This class was on measuring the body and a little bit about making alterations.  I took several things away from this excellent class, but the most important one for me was the sloping shoulder measurement.  There are two body points you need here: one is the shoulder point, which is made by raising your arm parallel to the floor and then finding that little indent where the shoulder meets the arm; the other is the point on the spine right at the waistline.  Measure between these two points and compare this measurement with the pattern. Lower or raise the slope of shoulder seam accordingly.

Another little tidbit I learned from this class is to measure the width of the shoulder from the base of the neck to the little shoulder indent.  I had been measuring across the back from shoulder point to shoulder point.  Maybe that’s why my shoulder seams never come out just right!

2.  Linda Lee’s class on design for young and old – can’t remember the exact title:  I learned a great tweak for the Hudson pants, and if you are a Sewing Workshop fan, you will want to take note.  The Hudson’s can be made into harem-style pants by simply adding a band to the bottom.  Here is Erin from The Sewing Workshop in a pair she made:

You could make the band any width you want, and if you want the pants a little “blousier”, you could just lengthen them and then put the band on.  Cool!

3.  The Arty Cardi by Marcy Tilton:  Marcy, I love you, pure and simple!  Now I know how to make my favorite t-shirt, which is Vogue 8582, into a cardi (actually, you can make any t-shirt into a cardi with these instructions).

First, you make fresh pattern pieces, then you deepen the armhole by adding 1/2 to 3/4 inches at the shoulder seam.  Add 1/2″ or more (per your preference) at the side seams. For a plain front opening, you add 2 3/4″ to the center front (make sure you mark the center front on the pattern).  Draw another line 5/8″ from the center front – that is the fold line.  Interface, making sure the interfacing goes through the fold line.  Press the fold and make the top buttonhole BEFORE sewing on the neck-band (I thought this was the coolest tip). Voila!

I think that’s enough for today.  My next post will be about Katherine Tiltons Arty T class and the Babylock Serger class.  I’ll also include pics of my Marcy Tilton fabric purchases and my plans for them.

My Sew Expo “Outfit” and Second Jacket for JAM

3 Mar


Pamela’s Patterns Jacket and Marcy Tilton Pants

I really didn’t think I was going to get this done.  I just did not have any sewing mojo at all. But I kept on sewing, and pretty soon some desire to sew returned, which is a lesson learned.

The cardigan is Pamela’s Patterns new Shaped Cardigan.  I made it with a double-sided wool sweater knit; one side is chocolate-brown, and the other side is a sort of brown/copper metallic.  I didn’t take enough advantage of the double-sidedness of the fabric, but I couldn’t find a better pattern that appealed to me.  I modified it a bit, since I was using the metallic side as the public side, and I wanted to show some of the chocolate side.  I turned up the sleeve edges to make a cuff.  I decided to stitch down the cuff so I wouldn’t have to deal with it falling down.

The pattern calls for some elastic at the center back neck edge, in order to create some ruching so that the center front will have a flowing look to it.  Unless you have the kind of elastic that you can sew through without stretching out, this will not work.  In the case of my fabric, it probably would not have worked anyway, because the fabric is too thick.  I tried several different elastics that I had on hand, and then I tried to use two lines of gathering stitches to gather it up for a ruching effect, but neither technique worked, so I ended up just sort of bunching it up and stitching it by hand.

I probably should have done a narrow shoulder adjustment on this cardigan.  I’m still having trouble measuring my shoulders and comparing them to a pattern.  Hopefully, I’ll figure that out soon.  I used the extra-small size with the full-bust option for the front.  There are no darts, but there is some easing in the bust area, and this looks very nice.  I believe it is Shams who uses this technique on some of her tops, and I do like it.

When I was finished with the jacket it looked sort of plain, so I put one buttonhole/button on the front as a closure.

I am so in love with the Marcy Tilton, Vogue 8712 pants.  I made view C without the zipper.  I actually put the zipper in, then took it out.  It was just too fussy for me with the ponte fabric I was using.  If I use a woven to make these pants (which I probably will), I’ll put in the zipper. Instead, I used Katherine Tilton’s method of putting in an elastic waist, which is my favorite (see link at right).  It always comes out neat and tidy.

I used the size 8, even though the envelope measurements would have me in a 10.  These pants have a lot of ease, so if you plan to make them you’ll need to decide how baggy you want them to be.  I added 1 1/2 inches to the crotch, which is a normal adjustment for me, but I won’t do that with the next pair, especially if they are made out of a knit fabric.

I love both of these patterns, and like the way they turned out.  Each pattern has a second view, and I look forward to making both of them.  The second view of the Marcy Tilton pattern has more ease than view C, so I’m curious how they’ll turn out.

I’m going to Sew Expo on Saturday and Sunday.  Surgery is on Thursday, so I don’t know how much sewing I”ll be doing in the near future.  Hopefully, this surgery will be easier than the last and I will be able to do some sewing, but I’m still going to have that cast on, so I probably won’t sew until I get it off (one month).

Next up will be a report on Sew Expo, and my one day excursion with my new Aussie sewing friends.  Stay tuned.

My Karma’s Not So Great Right Now

25 Feb

My recovery from bunion surgery has been mostly unremarkable.  It took longer to recover than I thought, but that’s not because the doctor didn’t warn me.  I just chose to ignore everything he said about a time frame, and decided that I could heal faster than most.  That attitude is one that I have had over the years, and it is usually a double-edged sword.  It’s great to have a good attitude about healing, but not if you have a tendency to overdo.

Right before my sister’s illness, I was at home one night looking on the internet for ways to heal my foot faster.  I know, that sounds nutty in retrospect, but that’s what I was doing.  I read that you have to exercise the foot a certain way if you want to get full range of motion back.  So I proceeded to exercise my foot as instructed.  Of course, being me, I thought if I exercised it once, fifty times would work better.

That night, I had terrible shooting pains in my foot and ankle, and over the next few days, as it got worse, I thought I should probably call the doctor.  That’s when I got the call about my sister and I was on a plane to Georgia.

I won’t go into the gory details, but my foot continued to deteriorate while I was in Georgia. When I got back, I made an appointment to see my doctor.  Sure enough, I have a ruptured tendon that is going to require surgery to correct.

I can handle the surgery, but what I’m in a twit about is the fact that I will have a cast on my leg…AGAIN…for 4 weeks, then a boot…AGAIN…for another 4 weeks.

My karma’s not so great right now…ya think?


Saying Good-Bye

20 Feb

What a crazy four months it’s been!  First of all, I had surgery on November 4th.  Silly me, I thought that because I was having surgery on my left foot, I would still be able to sew.  Not so much!  I had a full cast on my leg, and had to keep it elevated.  It was difficult getting around on crutches, and I soon realized that sewing is about more than just sitting at the sewing machine. Needless to say, all my great plans for a winter wardrobe flew out the window.  My foot is getting better…still not 100 percent, but better.

Then my sewing buddy, Gayle Saylor, also known as stashpanache on many sewing and knitting sites, passed away after a long battle with cancer.  She was a favorite of so many on Stitchers Guild because she cultivated and cherished the friends she made there.  She was always a positive presence on the site, and never failed to give an encouraging comment to brighten someone’s day. Gayle and I purchased our dress forms on the same day and had planned on helping one another fit the forms to our bodies.  She was waiting for me to get better, so we could make a day of it.  Sadly, she passed before we had the chance.  Rest in peace, lovely lady.

Finally, my sister had congestive heart failure right after Gayle died.  I flew to Savannah, where she was in CCU at St. Joseph’s/Candler Hospital.  She had been on a respirator, but by the time I got there, she was breathing on her own.  For a few days, she looked like she might recover. Unfortunately, she took a turn for the worse and we transferred her to Hospice Savannah to live out her last week on this earth.  She died peacefully, surrounded by her loved ones, on Friday, February 18th.  I love you and miss you, Sis.

I’m going to spend the next few days recovering, then I’ll be ready to sew again.  I did make this Marcy Tilton jacket for the Stitcher’s Guild JAM (jacket-a-month):


I’m working on a pair of slim jeans in a brown denim.  I’d like to get some things done for the Puyallup Sewing Expo in March, but that date is creeping up on me.  We’ll see how it goes.

Lovely Middle-aged Italian Women Part 1

20 Oct

I began thinking about taking pictures of middle-aged Italian women way back when I started planning my travel wardrobe.  I was trying to see if I could plan a wardrobe that would help me fit in a bit in Italy.  I have no illusion about looking like anything other than an American (actually, someone in Italy asked DH and I if we were Canadians, but that’s probably the only other nationality for which we could pass), but I don’t want to stand out like a sore thumb, either.

As I googled “mature Italian women street scenes” and various other similar words, I discovered…virtually nothing, nada, rien. I became determined to take the pictures and put them on my blog so that others who google “mature Italian women” (and I’m sure there will be many :)) will find pictures of them here.  So here we go:


I saw this a million times if I saw it once. . . grandma's pushing strollers. Notice the no color color.


I like her short hair and shorter skirt. Notice the no color color.

Tourists on the left, native on the right.

Look closely. . .this is a very interesting outfit. You can tell they are Italians because he is carrying a "European shoulder bag".

Women do wear jeans, but they are never sloppy looking. I saw the penny-loafer type shoe a lot.

These quilted jackets were very popular with the middle-aged set.

These folks were "dressed up".

One of the things I noticed is that women don’t go bare-legged, unless they are wearing flip-flop-type shoes, which I didn’t see much of since it is fall.  Another thing that was interesting to note, Italians tend to dress for the season rather than the weather.  On this trip, I saw many Italians with jackets and coats, even though it was in the 70’s most days.

As soon as I can download the rest of my pictures onto flickr, I’ll post some of the lovely women of Venice.

Thanks so much for all the nice comments about my travel wardrobe.  Karen and Sharon commented on getting that many clothes into a carry-on.  The answer is “knits”. Knits fold very compactly.  I don’t think I could have fit those clothes into the carry-on if they had been wovens.  Also, remember that I had a tote, as well.  I carried the raincoat, cosmetics, and toiletries in that.

Kathleen wanted to know about my cross-shoulder purse (which I carried in the tote while traveling).  It is a Kate Spade purse that I got at the Nordstrom Anniversary sale in August for $98.00.  I thought it was a pretty good deal.

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