Saturday, 31 August 2013

August in Review...

August was a very busy month. But not sewing-wise. There was much to do in the garden, fighting mosquitos, picking beans, herbs, spaghetti squashes, cucumbers, sharing and cooking. Busy, busy month! I did manage to sneak in some sewing.

  • 68.76 metres of fabric, 
  • 23 previously unused patterns
  • 7.6 metres of trim
  • 17.50 packages of seam binding,
  • 10 zippers
  • 16 spools of thread
  • 4 sewing machine needles
  • 18 snaps,
  • 3 hook and eye
  • 52 buttons and
  • 3.8 metres of elastic.
And this this year I've added to my stash:
  • 42.7 metres of new fabric
  • 15 new patterns,
  • 2 metre of trim,
  • 15 packages of seam binding, 
  • 8 spools of thread
  • 2 sewing machine needles,
  • 12 buttons
  • 2 new sewing feet
  • 4 metres of elastic.  
Happy Sewing!

Friday, 30 August 2013

Feminism, Fashion & Finances

Part I:  Feminism and Sewing

There has been a lot said recently about the "youth" picking up "needles" as "sewing makes a comeback" (Metha, online edition).  Last month, a Winnipeg Free Press headline read "Sew Cool" as if advertising the domestic arts (I would like to address that phrase later) to the younger generation. Historically, advertising sewing tools to youth is nothing new.  Singer Sewing Company created a toy sewing machines for "making dresses for dolly" in the early twentieth century (Askaroff).

There are stories of learning to sew at the lap of mothers or at least catching the sewing bug from watching adults engaged in the activity. And yet there is also a generation of men and women who never learned how to sew.

Domestic arts (sewing, cooking, canning) were frowned upon. And they still are, in my workplace I work with a generation of women who dismiss sewing as something that is beyond their skill level. These are university educated women many of who embrace scrap-booking with an unmatched passion.

"I can't sew", I've heard many times.

But what is more telling is their response to my comment that it is a relaxing activity that I compare to doing a puzzle.

"I don't have the patience for that," the common dismissive response surfaces.

Could it be that it is a feminist backlash to the domestication of women's work?

In the nineteen eighties and nineties there was a move away from the "domestic arts" taught in school compared to previous years.

Works Cited

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Favourite Dress Pattern

Stash Busting 2013:  Project #33

Fabric Used:              2.3 metre of purple polyester crepe

Pattern Used:            Simplicity 2372

Lace Trim Used:       1 metre

Basting Tape:            44"

Zipper Used:             22" invisible zipper

I think it is pretty safe to say that Simplicity 2372 is Mama R's favourite dress pattern. This is the latest version of the dress. It is the neckline detail that Mama R is quite smitten about. 

The fabric has been in my stash for years until I passed it on to Mama R. She has been waiting for me to use this fabric for a new dress for quite some time, years actually. I can finally cross it off the list.  

I won't go into great detail about the dress, it is basically the same as all the others. Some have the tucks stitched down and other are like the one here. 

The only difference is that I stitched lace along the hem edge before I turned it up and did a blind hem. I did not have a perfect match on the lace, the fabric is purple and the lace is a navy blue. Despite the difference in colour, I think it gives the light-weight fabric some stability.   

Happy Sewing!  

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Tim Gunn Project: Dress Pants

Stash Busting 2013:  Project #32

Worst. Photograph. EVER!
But you get the gist of it, right?

Fabric Used:              2.3 metres of wool and cashmere suiting fabric

Pattern Used:            Vogue 1325

Bias Tape Used:        30"

Pant Hook and Eye:  1 set

Zipper Used:             7" regular zipper


I finished these pants on Sunday but I just can't get my photography act together. It has been really humid here lately which also doesn't motivate me into putting on a pair of wool pants to photograph.

But I do love this wool fabric. This is the most luxurious fabric that I had in my stash. It is a fairly recent addition to my stash. Once I discovered that Vogue 1325 was a pant pattern that worked for my body shape, I picked up a nice wool.  

First, I had to pre-treat the material. I used this method, it works great. I highly recommend trying this next time you have wool to pre-treat. The fabric is a lightweight wool so I opted to use the wool fabric instead of lining fabric for the pocket and waist facings. I did interface the facing pieces and everything worked out fine without too much bulk.  

This is the third time I used Vogue 1325. I'm quite smitten with this pant pattern, these pants are extremely comfortable and easy to sew. Don't be scared off by the pattern's "advance" rating.

For this pair of pants, I thought I would add the belt loops (I left them off the other two pairs) but quickly changed my mind after trying to turn over the fabric without the aid of a loop turner. Once upon a time I had a loop turner, no idea where where it would be hiding. I'm good with the fit even without the belt loops. I just thought I would make these look a little different from the navy pair.

I'm happy to report that almost everything was busted out of my stash. The only exception was a dark charcoal spool of thread used for the topstitching around the waist and fly. I did make a quick trip to the store and I'm glad I did because it is a perfect match that I used for the blind hem too. I used a blue seam binding stash busted out of Mama R's collection which matched the thin blue pinstripe in the dark charcoal fabric. Thanks Mama R!

Well, I need to get out of these wool pants and into something much cooler.

Happy Sewing!    

Monday, 26 August 2013

Pants in the Papers

In this weekend's paper there was an article about pants by Associated Press Fashion writer Samantha Critchell. Timely, in the sense that I'm a pants sewing kick right now.

What caught my attention was a comment made by designer Nanette Lepore, "higher waistbands are on the way" (Critchell D13).

I would like to make a correction to this article.

Behold Vogue 1325 and Burda 7122 with their tastefully on-trend higher waistbands. I do like a higher waistband.

There is an important piece of advice within this article. It is about fit.

Sewists know that fit it can make or break any garment. It is much more than finding the magic size number or style to unlock the mystery of good fit. For me personally, discovering my pant fit was an epic quest to understanding my body shape and quirks. I have to admit that I did have some help along the way. Luckily, I found Fast Fit: Easy Pattern Alterations for Every Figure by Sandra Betzina. It is a treasure trove of useful advice. And many yards of fabric were sacrificed along the way.

I just have to edit one more thing. Lepore's comment "[f]ind your fit and a good tailor, and the kind words will come." My edit would be "find your fit, a good pattern and sew your way to the kind words that will come."

Happy Sewing!    

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Reasons Why I Sew: Reason # 9

I sew in order to avoid clothing seconds that is being past off as new.

This item was found at Wal-Mart. At full price, you would think that you are paying for a brand new undamaged item. Instead, it's item that has already been repaired and patched.

This item of clothing failed in meeting quality control but yet it managed to sneak into the regular clothes. 

I don't know why I am surprised in the era of fast-fashion. But I am. I believe that if a retailer is going to pass off an item as regular price merchandise then they should uphold a certain standard. I know, we're talking Wal-Mart here. George isn't exactly high end. 

Sewing mistakes happen. I get that, but at least admit to a flaw. I guess when they shipped all the sewing jobs overseas they cut out the inspectors.  

Retailers should not be trying to passing off clothing seconds as quality merchandise. 

And that is another reason why I sew.

Happy Sewing!  

Monday, 19 August 2013

In Sewing News Today...

Can you believe I unknowingly walked into Fabricland right when they had a big 50% off sale. Dangerous situation for a fabric addict like me.

Yes, I did walk over to the wall that had the chocolate brown cotton/spandex knit that I had my eye on for quite some time. And I did take it over to the line-up at the cutting table. It was crazy busy in there, you wouldn't believe the line-ups! Apparently, there are others with fabric addictions.

It was a good thing that there an insane line-up to get yardage cut. It allowed me the opportunity to talk myself out of the purchase I had in my hot little hands. Yes, I managed to escape without any new fabric. It was close though.

As I was in line I started thinking about all the fabric that I have in my stash and am trying to stash bust and then I walked back to the knit fabric section, put the bolt back and returned to the cash line instead. I managed to leave with the items that I went in there for. One spool of dark grey thread for the top-stitching. Another package of pant hooks and if the Vogue patterns were out the latest Marcy Tilton pattern. And the Vogue patterns finally arrived!

I finally have my hands on Vogue 8934, Marcy Tilton's coat pattern. I love this design and the loose fit will be perfect for layering during the Winnipeg winter.

This coat fabric in my stash with plans to make Vogue 1083 for well over a year. Well, those plans changed when I saw this pattern. I think the hemline darts are neat.

I can't wait to try this out. I have no excuse except for the Tim Gunn projects that are waiting to be stitched up. The coat will have to wait a few weeks or more.

How about you, are you thinking about fall/winter sewing projects?

Happy Sewing!

Sunday, 18 August 2013

The Tim Gunn Project

One out of the nine projects are done and now it is time to move onto the next project. Well, actually two...

✄ Vogue 8904 (Basic Black Dress)
  Vintage Vogue 1985 (Day Dress)
  Butterick 5365 (White Shirt)
  Vogue 8333 (Blazer)
  Vogue 1325 (Dress Pants x 2)
  McCall's 8246 (Sweatsuit Alternative)
  Advance 8436 (Sweatsuit Alternative)

Yup, up next are the dress pants. I have to admit that my wardrobe has been lacking good dress pants for quite some time. I made a pair of navy wool using Vogue 1325 and I'm pleased with how they turned out. I even used the pattern for my jeans! I wouldn't mind a couple more of these pants and I plan to use the same pattern.

The first pair I'll make out of fabric that I splurged on big time. I picked up a beautiful wool and cashmere blend in a grey with tiny blue stripes at Mitchell Fabrics. Even at 50% off this fabric was a hit to the budget especially during a lay-off. Let's just call it an early birthday gift (I picked it up a couple of weeks ago) and a can't wait to get back to work gift. But it is beautiful to the hand and these will made a work appropriate pair of pants.

For the second pair, I have a solid black British wool in my stash that will fit the bill. It is a really nice suit quality fabric but nothing like the wool and cashmere blend. None-the-less, these two fabrics will do nicely for work appropriate dress pants.

So, have you ever splurged on an expensive fabric?

Saturday, 17 August 2013

The Tim Gunn Project: (Non-traditional) Jeans

Stash Busting 2013:  Project #31


Fabric Used:              2.9 metres of red denim (and pink cotton sateen for lining and facing pieces)

Pattern Used:            Vogue 1325

Bias Tape Used:        30"

Pant Hook and Eye:  1 set

Zipper Used:             9" regular zipper


I've been holding onto this denim for a few years now. The plan has always been to make a pair of jeans. The stall has been the search for a suitable pattern. I opted for a pants pattern, Vogue 1325, that previously worked and now I have a pair of red jeans!   

The pink sateen that I used for the pocket, zipper lap and waist facing I've had in my stash for over twenty-two years. I just have a small piece left (less than a metre) and it is quite narrow. It worked out perfect for this project reducing much of the bulk from the waist that the denim would have added if I cut the facings out for the denim. I did not interface the facing pieces. The pink sateen is also found in the pocket facing.

The threads were a recent 2013 addition to my sewing stash, everything else was stash-busted.

Changes that I made:

  • I went up a size on the outer leg just below the lower edge of the pocket. 
  • And then I reversed that change when it just made the pant leg too wide. 
  • And then I narrowed it a smidge more.   
  • I lengthened the leg from my original adjustment. This change gave me more of a hemline to work with and options for the hem width.  
My biggest challenge with these were the hem. I did a two inch machine stitched hem and folded the edge to hide the serged edge. At certain points where the inner and outer seams were found, I would be sewing through six thicknesses of denim. Needless to say, my machine did not like this process.  

I overcame this stitching challenge by using the walking foot, a 2.6 stitch width and the jean-a-ma-jig.  

Sew, there is the first project from my Tim Gunn 10 Essential pieces list. Well, I'm off to take a nap before I get into the birthday celebrating.

Happy Sewing!


Friday, 16 August 2013

In Sewing News Today...

Guess what! I was over at Butterick's Facebook page because I submitted pictures of my kAtheRine Tilton top, B5891 and I was looking over the comments. Guess who saw the pictures?