Tuesday, 31 July 2012

July in Review

Wow, I can't believe that it is the end of July. I'm still fighting the cough-that-won't-quit and despite being sick this month I did manage to pull off a few items. I'm kind of impressed but then again, I am laid-off from work for the summer. 

There was no sewing for me today, even though I'm itching to finish the pants. I'm busy re-drafting a new resume and cover letter to see if I can get a least one job interview this summer. It is a tough job market out there. Sew, the Vogue 1309 pants will have to wait until I have a new functional resume sorted out and will likely end up in the August in Review listing. Wish me luck.  

And Happy Sewing!  

The Project Runaway meets Fashion Star Dress

Fabric:   2.9 metres cotton fabric (Discounted quilting fabric), $16.24
Interfacing:  .5 metres, $2.80 
Pattern:  McCall's 6554 (reused), $0.00, Simplicity 1880, $13.46
Thread:  $4.87

Buttons:  (50% off)  $3.19
Total Cost:  $40.56
Times Worn this Month:  twice
Time Investment:  (including humming and hawing) 12 hours
Tools Needed:  Sewing machine, serger, measuring tape, fabric shears, ball-point and universal sewing machine needles, pins, seam ripper, tailor's ham, sewing needles, iron and tailor's chaulk.
Would I make it again? Quite possibly.  

Vintage Child's Dress

Fabric:  1 metre stretch cotton sateen (left-over from a previous project), $7.87
Pattern:  McCall's 9794, Gift from Mama R, $0.00
Thread:  $4.26
Zipper:  $1.06
Trim:  $1.12
Basting Tape:  $0.41
Total Cost:  $14.72
Time Investment:  5 hours (includes hand-stitching)
Tools Needed:  Sewing machine, serger, measuring tape, fabric shears, universal sewing machine needles, pins, tailor's ham, iron, sewing needles and tailor's chalk.  

Goldilock's "Just Right" Dress

Fabric:  2.4 metres 100% cotton (Discounted home decor section), $13.44
Pattern:  Simplicity 2372 (reused), $0.00
Thread:  5.36
Zipper:  Gift from Mama R, $0.00.
Basting Tape:  $0.63
Total Cost:  $19.43
Time Investment:  5 hours
Tools Needed:  Sewing machine, serger, measuring tape, fabric shears, universal sewing machine needles, pins, tailor's ham, iron, sewing needles and tailor's chaulk.  

The Dressy Dress Version

Fabric:  2.4 metres Satin-back Crepe (Bargain Centre find), $9.60
Pattern:  Simplicity 2372 (reused), $0.00
Thread:  $4.38
Zipper:  $2.63
Basting Tape:  $0.63
Total Cost:  $19.24
Time Investment:  5 hours
Tools Needed:  Sewing machine, serger, measuring tape, fabric shears, universal sewing machine needles, pins, tailor's ham, iron, sewing needles and tailor's chaulk.  

The Red Skirt

Fabric:  1.5 metres Stretch Cotton Sateen (On sale at 50% off), $13.44
Pattern:  Vogue 1247, (reused), $0.00
Thread:  $6.37
Zipper:  $1.68
Basting Tape:  $0.63
Seam binding:  $1.20
Total Cost:  $23.32
Time Investment:  4 hours
Tools Needed:  Sewing machine, serger, measuring tape, ruler, fabric shears, pins, iron, sewing machine needles, blind hem foot, walking foot and tailor's chalk.  

Ice Pack Cover

Fabric:  Scraps for the scrap pile, I'm going to say $0.00
Pattern:  Winged it, $0.00
Thread:  Just whipped it up with what was in the machine, I'm going to say $0.00
Total Cost:  $0.00
Time Investment:  15 minutes
Tools needed:  Sewing machine, serger, fabric shears, sewing machine needles.  

Additional Costs:  
Sewing Machine Repair:  $70.00 

Okay, I can work with this...

Vogue 1309 is coming along. It is not a perfect fit but I can work with this.

I was surfing the internet to see if anyone has made the pants but I was unable to find some words of wisdom or warnings.

Without a lot of pant making experience under my belt (I know bad pun), I went to work with fingers crossed. The pattern is divine. I like the menswear influence with the front fly zipper.  The curved waistband fits snuggly. And the pockets are deep and perfect.

It is not a perfect fit but I am not discouraged at all. To make this a perfect fit for me there are some changes that I will have to make.

Quoting Michael Kors, I am happy to report that there is no "crazy crotch" going on. That is a huge relief.

Now, there seems to be some problems with the side view. I should be able to fix those with some lunges and sit-ups. Seriously, there seems to be some pulling across the pant front side. According to Fantastic Fit for Every Body I should be able to alter the pattern around the centre front and back curve to make it work.

And there was that issue of the centre back that was a wee bit tight and had to be let out.

It looks like I'm going to have to adjust the pattern for my full tummy and derriere by adding to the centre front and back to get the pants to hang correctly on my body.

That should correct my fitting issues and eliminate the need to let the centre back seam out next time around.

Not too much to tweak before I come up with a nicely fitted pair of pants. I'm almost there.

Have you sewn any pants lately? Do you find them easy to sew or do you also have fitting issues to negotiate? I would love to hear about it.

Happy Sewing!

Monday, 30 July 2012

Front Fly Fun (try to say that fast)

It has been a few years since I've sewn a front fly zipper. I'm presently sewing a front fly zipper on the Vogue 1309 Issey Miyake pants

For this I sought out some additional resources. The 1982 edition of Vogue Sewing states "that the placket in women's garments always laps right over left, just the opposite for men's" (332).

The Issey Miyake pattern has instructions and pattern pieces for a front fly zipper typically found in menswear sewing. And indeed when I turn to the menswear sewing section found in Vogue Sewing the illustrations and instructions read with a sense of familiarity. Even the Issey Miyake right fly pattern piece looks like the one in the menswear sewing section of my book.

Sigh of relief.

With all the pattern pieces that I had to sew for this small section of the pants, I will admit came some fear. That is why I reached for the Vogue Sewing book. This wasn't like any of the "women's garments" that had the fly piece built into the pant or skirt pattern section. There was no need for the reference book other than to reassure me that everything will work out fine and that the Vogue 1309 pattern came with excellent instructions.

Although, one difference from the pattern instructions and the Vogue Sewing instructions is the placement of the zipper height. The Vogue pattern instructions suggest that it might be necessary to make a new zipper stop in order to shorten a 7" zipper. In the Vogue Sewing book the zipper is noted as extending above the front fly opening.

Sew far I'm quite pleased with this pattern, here's a photo journey to show how it turned out.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

New Tripod = Vogue 1247 Action Shots

I finally snapped some photos in the Rachel Comey skirt, Vogue 1247.

I'm wearing the red one that I added twelve inches to the hem length. I wrote about it here.

What took so long to post pictures was not having a tripod for my camera. My old tripod was mysteriously found broken on the coffee table. I finally got around to replacing it.

I took these pictures using a JOBY gorillapod SLR-Zoom. It is a flexible tripod, coolest thing ever. The camera, while snapping these pictures, was hanging off the side of a plum tree branch. I won't be leaving this one lying around the house. Come to think about it, it might be safer on the tree branch?

Anyway, I should get back to the sewing projects on the table and listing new patterns for sale on the etsy shop.

Happy Sewing!

Saturday, 28 July 2012


Have you used or even seen this little piece of plastic? This is another sewing aid that I discovered recently discovered during the sewing class.

It is called a Jean-a-ma-jig and what a handy little tool.  

It only measures 4 mm deep, 5 cm long and 37 mm wide.  The cut out portion is 6 mm wide and about 2.5 cm long. 

It is promoted as an item to help jump the bumps where seams are bulky, such as a jean hems.  

Seriously, this little tool can be used with other fabrics that cause bulk. I'm thinking about that section of topstitching that I was not able to complete on the collar section of the Donna Karan jacket, Vogue 1263.

Unable to jump that hump, I simply lifted up my presser foot, raised my needle and shifted the fabric over the section that was causing the issue. If I tried to tug the fabric from behind the presser foot I would risk breaking my needle or worse damaging my plate cover.

If I had the jean-a-ma-jig I could have successfully topstitched over the bulk.

Here is how it works.

As you approach a section in your sewing that has bulk it has an increased height. The front section of your presser foot begins to raise as it tries to sew through the section.

This is when you want to stop your sewing for a moment and raise your presser foot. Slide the Jean-a-ma-jig from behind over the stitching you have already done to give a lift to the presser foot from the bottom.

Doing sew allows the presser foot to be at a even height with the bulk that you are trying to sew over. It works like a charm. You can now continue sewing.

Some tutorials suggest once the bulky section is sew over that you will want to place the Jean-a-ma-jig in front of the presser boot as the bulk decreases in thickness. I didn't find this necessary and it wasn't taught that way in the sewing class I took.

What was I sewing?

I made a little slip cover for an ice pack. I used a flannel Eddie Bauer fabric and some denim that I had in the scrap pile. The two fabrics were of different thickness and that caused some additional bulk at the side seams. But it was all good with the Jean-a-ma-jig.

I'm adding this little tool to my new top ten list of favourite sewing tools.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

In Sewing News Today...

My Janome is back home and all ready to sew. I picked it up this afternoon from Quilt as Desired where I sent it off to get serviced.

The timing was off and the needle wasn't wasn't able to pull up the bobbin thread but it is working nicely now. The moral from this story:  Don't sew over pins! Sarai's post today about developing good sewing habits was timely. I guess, I could add this to my list of bad habits to break.

Also in the blogs... there is talk about the release of Vogue's Fall sewing patterns. Or more specifically the styling for the photographs. Shams over at Communing With Fabric had me in stitches this morning with her commentary What the Heck, Vogue? Go ahead and read it if you haven't already, it is well worth the visit.

I also thought of Top Model when I saw these goofy photographs. But I just chalked up the styling to an over eager intern who watches too much reality television and was inspired by one of those model search program. Oh, but didn't have a big budget to work with so they put the models up on a window ledge.

I found myself in total agreement with this comment:
Artistically speaking, the photos are great although occasionally humorous. But from a sewing standpoint, not so. (Bunny http://communingwithfabric.blogspot.ca/2012/07/what-heck-vogue.html)
The "artistic" photos did nothing to sell me on the sewing pattern. As a matter of fact, I have to say that it was time consuming to have to click on the photo to get a better view of the details of the pattern they were trying to sell. And seriously, when I'm looking at a dress pattern, I'm really not concerned with whether or not I could do gymnastics while wearing it. But thanks to Vogue and Shams for the good chuckle. It was a nice start to my day.

Talking about patterns, a decision has been made!

Vogue 1309 will be the pattern I'm using to make the pants. I found this link, Making Perfect Pants, that has some pointers on picking the perfect style for your figure.
Follow these basic guidelines for selecting a flattering pant style:
S Shorter-than-average figures look taller when pants and top are the same color.
S  A tall person looks shorter if the pants and top are different colors or textures.
S  Wide legs create an illusion of fullness.
S  Fitted legs are unflattering for the too-thin as well as for the too-full figure.
S  Flared legs are flattering to tall, slender figures.
S  Straight legs are a good choice for the figure with full thighs or a prominent derriere.
S  Gathers or pleats at the waistline emphasize a protruding abdomen.
S  If you have a very curvy figure, select a style that has two waistline darts on each side of center front and back. Avoid a side zipper opening.
S  Avoid hip-hugger styles if you have full thighs and/or prominent hips.
Sew, if I were going to follow these guidelines the Vogue pattern is the obvious choice.

I'm in the process of pinning and cutting the pattern and fabric. I'm going to try it out in a beige stretch cotton sateen. I don't mind if it doesn't come out perfect this first try, beige is not my colour. It only made it into my stash because it was on sale dirt cheap (cheaper than muslin).

If the pattern works out and the pants end up to be a perfect fit, they'll be a good pair for yard work. And then [fingers crossed] I could move on to my preferred fabric and colour choice.

Well, that is all in sewing news today.

Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

My Favourite Time of the Year! (Or the release of the new fall Vogue patterns while they are on sale!)

No, it is not Christmas, Christmas in July (what is up with that?), or New Year's Eve Celebrations.

Nope, my favourite time of the year is when Vogue patterns release the new Fall patterns.

That happens to be today! And it happens to be released while they have a 4-day sale, which ends tonight if you are interested in any of the new releases. See, better than Christmas or New Year's Eve.

Donna Karan and DKNY patterns (my usual favourites) didn't peak my interest with this release, although they are some beautiful designs. A cape, no matter how beautiful the DKNY design, is just not practical for my Winnipeg lifestyle. And there is a beautiful Anne Klein suit that has pants that I was tempted by, but I have two pants patterns I trying to decide on right now. I really don't need to add a third to the mix.

Instead, I want to sew a Lynn Mizono design, Vogue 1312.

Oh and this Marcy Tilton jacket! Vogue 8839.

While I anticipate their arrival, I should get back to work on my dress for Promabalona and pants for the Sew Weekly challenge.

Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Reality Check

This week over at Sew Weekly the theme is Reality Check:  Something Missing from Your Wardrobe.

I didn't have to think too hard about this one. A pair of well fitting pant is missing from my wardrobe. Big time.

[Enter fear.]

I haven't made a pair of pants since sometime in the 1980s. I remember the pattern clearly, it was a Claude Montana design.

I know it is a odd choice for someone who stands five-foot-one. I going to blame this foolish fashion decision on my inexperienced youth.

And pleats! What was I thinking? We all have fashion skeletons in the closet from the eighties, don't we?

The reality check theme is perfect. My wardrobe is seriously lacking well-fitted pants. And I'm no longer in denial about my lack of ability to wear pleated pants that narrow at the hem. Boot or wide leg pants all the way, right?

Sew, this is my challenge this week. I'm going to try to make a well fitted pair of pants for my frame petite, curvy in all the wrong places frame.

But first, I'm off to do some research for tips in Fantastic Fit for Every Body and revisit Tasia's blog post on sewing pants (she posted some great links).

And then I have to decide on which pant pattern I want to work with, Burda 7366 or Vogue 1309. The Burda pattern received a glowing review for it's fit over at Pattern Review. But then the Vogue pattern is tempting because it is described as "loose-fitting through hips", a problem area that I have to address in my list of fitting issues.  

Wish me luck as I set out to conquer my greatest sewing fear.

And Happy Sewing!

Monday, 23 July 2012

Vogue 1247

I now have four skirts made with Vogue 1247 (all seen on the right). This red skirt is my latest and favourite version of the Rachel Comey design sew far. What makes this one my favourite? Where to begin!

First, the colour, it is up there in my top three colours right behind orange. It is such a happy colour.

Next, I'm pleased with the length. The first three skirts I added ten inches to the original Rachel Comey design and they are hemmed up 5/8".

For the red skirt I added another two inches when I was cutting it out allowing for a wider hemline.

The hem on the first skirt (the purple and taupe print) was turned up 5/8" and topstitched by machine.

The blue and green skirt hems were sewn with a rolled hem that also took 5/8" of space.

The red skirt has a 1 1/4 hem that I serged and used my blind hem foot. I'm tickled pink with how it turned out.

I think the blind hem foot has moved into my top ten foot attachments position.

Another foot attachment that has moved into my top ten list is the walking foot.

It came with my sewing machine as part of quilt attachments. Well, anyone who knows me knows that I'm a quilter. I admire the art of quilt-making but it is not my area of expertise.

That said, I'm grateful for the sewing class at Quilt as Desired for discovering the joys of this little attachment.

I used the walking foot to stitch-in-the-ditch at my waistband seam. It worked like a dream. The stitch-in-the-ditch technique is not limited to quilting, there is a excellent blog post about it here outlining when you might want to stitch-in-the-ditch.

The magic behind the walking foot is that it has built-in feed dogs that grab and move the upper layer of fabric that is moving through the sewing machine that same time as the sewing machine's feed dogs are grabbing and moving the underside of fabric. Did that make sense?

Quilters use this specialty foot because it keeps the layers of fabric from shifting while they sew layers of fabric together. They stitch in the ditch using invisible sewing thread so that the stitches are not visible on the other side of the quilt. Cool, eh? I learn something new everyday!

Kelly at Quilt as Desired said that the walking foot would be a handy tool to use when I'm sewing my winter coat.

Have you ever used a walking foot or any other quilt attachments for your non-quilted projects? I would love to hear about it.  

Happy Sewing.  

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Promaballona Pattern Give-away Winners

Hello and sorry it has taken me a bit of time to post the winners. It has been a busy day and I still haven't finished my morning coffee. But I won't keep you waiting. The hat is ready to go and the names for the appropriate patterns are ready to cut out.  

Here goes the first draw for pattern #1, Butterick 5708.  All the names are entered into the hat:  

My charming assistant is picking our first winner.

And the winner of Butterick 5708 is Anonymous! Luckily she left an email address. Congratulations! I will send you an email message shortly.

And the winner for Pattern #2, Butterick 5603:

My trusted assistant is hard at work picking our next winner.  

And the winner of the Butterick 5603 pattern is Adri H.  Congratulations! Could you email me at grrraca (at) gmail (dot) com with your post info and I will drop it in the mail?

And the last draw for McCall's 6466 is ready to be announced.

My talented assistant is hard at work picking our final winner.

Congratulations Amy!  Amy could you also give me a shout at grrracar (at) gmail (dot) com and I get it in the post for you.

Thank you everyone for participating! I can't wait to see what everyone is wearing to Promaballona!

And I would like to thank my handsome and talented nephew for the help folding and picking names for the draw. He also has a blog over here. Shameless plug, I know. But it is the least I can do, right? His is a religious blog called Life of Us and Saints. He wants to be a priest when he grows up. He is a sweet person and I hope his dreams come true.

Thank you for your help Michael!

And congratulations to the winners.

Now, I have to get to work on a dress!

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A few months ago the strap on my handbag broke. The leather strap was fine, it was the hardware that gave out. The strapless handbag sat un...