Sunday, 31 March 2019

March in Review...


There really hasn't been much buzz in the sewing room this month. For myself, I've only made two items.  Surprisingly, for me these are made from new-to-me patterns.

There was a vintage slip project gifted but I think I might need to make myself one if I'm ever going to feel comfortable wearing the dress I made. Then again, each time I try it on, I'm more convinced that it's really not my style. Sometimes, I foolishly follow trends that really don't work in the end.  The polar bear print sweatshirt fleece long cardigan was my favourite make this month. It has seen much more wear than the dress.  


This book finally made it into my hot little hands, and could likely be the reason that there wasn't a whole lot of sewing this month.  

Sadly, it's not.  I've hardly cracked this book open. Yet. I hope to get to it shortly.

What's Next?  

There will be some more sewing for others.  A request came this week to make a cork handbag just like the one I made for myself last month. 

And mending.  I really need to tend to that growing mending pile some time soon.  

One last note... 

News reached the sewing community this evening regarding Vatsla who blogged over at Fashion Behind the Seams. Rest in peace and condolences to her family and friends.   

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Stand Up and Sew!

I wrote about standing and sewing five years ago.  It happened accidentally, when I was itching to get back to sewing post-op. Why is it that when we're in recovery mode that our sewing mojo decides to stick around? Back then it did and I was missing sewing something terrible. But I stumbled on something that I didn't realize at the time, how much healthier it is not to spend so much time on one's tush.  

Now-a-days you would have to be from another era to have not of heard that sitting is the new smoking. I am in total agreement with the observation that it truly is the most underrated and misunderstood health threat of modern time.   

That's right, sitting has been linked with a variety of potential ailments from obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, risk of developing cancer and developing a shorter life-span.  Sure, most workplaces now-a-days include the work-life balance rhetoric promoting the idea of hitting the gym but the reality is that the negative effects of prolong sitting can not be countered by brief bouts of strenuous exercise.  

Which brings me to the thought of sewing furniture. This evening I'm flipping through the current issue of Sew News and came across yet another sewer offering a reader's tip of purchasing bed risers.  The idea is that raising the table height helps to alleviate back stress. Not exactly a new concept since standing desks and desk raisers have been around for more than a decade.  Even longer when you think about famous users of the standing desk include Leonardo da Vinci, Ernest Hemingway, Charles Dickens, Sir Winston Churchill and the list goes on. So why is the sewing industry slow to catch on? Why do we have to resort to this?  

Creative solution to the lack of standing sewing tables.
Yes, I know we're a crafty DIY crowd and creative enough to find our own solution. The question remains, when is the sewing industry going to catch up? I'm not just talking about the actual piece of furniture but also foot pedal cords long enough to reach the floor from a standing height.

Sometimes we come so far ahead with self-threading sewing machines that can create thousands of stitches with the press of a button but then we're held back and limited by the length of the foot peddle cord.      

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Trench Dress: Burda Style 6321

The chic nature of the trench dress soared as a trend to watch when in 2018 Meaghan Markle appeared in a blush pink sleeveless trench dress by Canadian fashion designer Nina Khaney's fashion label Nonie. 

The Inspiration dress

The trend took off from there. The trench dress is still available on Nonie's website for a cool $1,085 (Cdn).  As well, independent and the Big Four pattern companies are coming out with their own version of the trench / coat dress.  Sure, the trench has been around since the first world war and adapted as a fashionable look well before this event. Even Tim Gunn as long sang the praises of a good trench coat.  

I'm not really one to follow the latest trends these days, let alone drop a grand on a garment. But I am someone who will be inspired to make something I like to fit my taste. This is how BurdaStyle 6321 ended up on my cutting table. It had the double breasted button front and princess seams that I like in the Nonie version Meaghan Markle was photographed wearing and with some tweaking I have to say, I'm okay with how it turned out. It's nothing like the inspiration dress as mine doesn't have a capelet or the stand up collar and it has sleeves, but this one works for me. And the added bonus, it's in, as Frank Sinatra would say, the happiest colour. 

I removed the waistline seam and cut the bodice and skirt pieces as one. And I added pockets to the side seam adapting out-of-print Vogue 8934 pocket pattern to this design. I'm not too crazy about the button placement on this pattern, it probably doesn't help that I'm a petite sized person and those top buttons are at the perfect placement where I'd rather not draw attention to, I'm going to have to rethink the placement maybe even consider removing them. After that, I think this might be a good work dress.  

The Stats

Fabric:  2.8 metres

Interfacing:  2 metres

Buttons:  11 - 18 cm 

PatternsBurdaStyle 6321 and Vogue 8934

Additional Tools and Supplies:  Scissors, pins, thread clippers, tailor's chalk, tailor's mitt, clapper, collar press, iron, ironing board, hand needle, sewing machine, walking foot, buttonhole foot, serger, threads, seam ripper, buttonhole cutter and a chai tea latte.   

Happy Sewing!  

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Documentary Review: Fashion's Dirty Secrets

BBC's investigative journalist and documentary filmmaker Stacey Dooley explores the impact of fast fashion in the 2018 film Fashion's Dirty Secrets.  Hardly a new topic since Elizabeth L. Cline's book Overdress:  The Shockingly High Cost of Fast Fashion hit the bookstore shelves in 2012. And the emergence of Fashion Revolution movement in the aftermath of the 2013 Rana Plaza tragedy. There has been countless calls for transparency and reform of the fashion and textile industries.  Dooley's investigation travels the globe and interviews the social media influencers, social activists and scientists who all play a part in this global issue.  

Dooley offers a disturbing and powerful look at the impact that the fashion and textile industry is having on the environment and water systems destroying and reshaping geographic landscapes and impacting the lives of communities outside of the textile industry.  

The film starts off examining the environmental destruction of the Aral Sea, located in Central Asia between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.  In 2010, The Daily Telegraph reported the Aral Sea as "one of the world's worst environmental disasters."

In the early 1960s, the Soviet government decides the two rivers that lead into the Aral Sea were to be diverted in a plan to grow and export cotton, also referred to as "white gold."  It became a major export and in the late 1980s, Uzbekistan became the world's largest exporter of cotton.  The disturbing part is that this environment disaster was foreseen in the early 1960s and came as no surprise to the Soviet government.  Dooley doesn't go into the geo-political history of the region, instead she takes the viewers on an expedition into the now barren sea to view it's current state. It's a powerful opener, and echoes the empty promises from the fashion industry with their claims of sustainability and inability to discuss the meaning.

If you want, you can watch it here.  

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Dress Appropriately!

Is a vague phrase in the era of business casual when everyone is tip-toeing around what it really means. Why the fear to attach a definition to it? 

English Fit Puppytooth check wool suit
Source:  Burberry

Could it be in the age of fast-fashion and contract work that organizations are desperately trying to attract and keep young talent until their contract is up? The concept of casual dress codes hit the news again when Goldman Sachs, the last of the Wall Street hold outs, last week loosen their own dress codes. Yeah, the same day that Burberry took a hit on the stock market. 

Times are a changing.  Of course the slow pace towards a less formal suited look comes at a time with technical advancements in the textile industry.  Unless wearable technology could be adapted into traditional forms of dress something will have to give.    

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Sweatshirt Knit Jacket: Butterick 6495

To actually label this fabric as a sweatshirt knit doesn't do it justice.  This fabric is beautiful, light-weight, incredibly soft and oh-so-cozy.  Add a polar bear and mountain print just takes it over-the-top.  

The fabric was teamed up with Butterick 6495 even though sweatshirt fleece wasn't listed as one of the fabric recommendations.  The soft and light-weight nature of this cotton fabric made it an ideal match.  And the pattern was simple enough in its design that it was the perfect canvas for this print.  

The Butterick 6495 jacket is described as "very loose-fitting" but I think I wouldn't go that far. Let's say that it's comfortable in its fit. If I were to style this with a belt as seen in one of the pattern envelope photographs it would certainly be uncomfortably stretched across my body and appear fitted. It actually fits like the central photograph, open without the bands meeting.  

No serious complaints on the fit but I will certainly keep a few things in mind. 
  1.  Cut the armhole and sleeve cap as a smaller size.
  2.  Cut the sides a size larger, maybe even an extra large as I do like a little more ease in the hip area.  
  3.  Shorten the sleeve length an additional inch.  
  4.  Add pockets.  I will actually take this back to workspace and add patch pockets before it moves into the closet.  
The pattern for the jacket is well drafted.  I can't really give an honest review on the instructions as I didn't find any need to look at them.  I did notice the illustration showed a fitted sleeve and I opted for a flat-fitted sleeve instead. It's a very basic design with only four pattern pieces. It's easy to figure it out.  This will be an excellent project for a beginner who would like to build their confidence sewing knits.  

I used Knit-N-Stable tape at the sleeve and bottom hemlines. The entire project was sewn with the lightening bolt stitch and with a walking foot.  These are my favourite knit fabric sewing techniques that I will share.  The hems were top-stitched with the lightening bolt stitch.  

The Stats

Fabric:  2 metres

Interfacing:  3 metres of Knit-N-Stable tape

Pattern:  Butteric 6495

Additional Tools and Supplies:  Cutting table, scissors, pins, tailor's chalk, iron, ironing board, sewing machine, Jean-a-ma-Jig, serger, tweezers, threads, and tea.  

Happy Sewing!  

Monday, 4 March 2019

The Name Behind Kwik Sew Patterns

Kwik Sew patterns emerged on the scene in 1967 under the name Sew Knit and Stretch. Nearly a decade later, 1974 to be precise, a shorter name that captured the ease of these patterns filled its place. 

There is more to the story of Kwik Sew patterns.  Kerstin Martensson, the designer and name behind Kwik Sew patterns, was born in Gothenburg, Sweden.  She received her fashion and design education in Sweden and England and used her skills in the ready-to-wear industry before settling into a career as a fashion designer and pattern maker for the Viking Sewing Machine Company. It all happened by chance you can say. While working with the Swedish based Viking Sewing Machine Company, she became one of the company's international representative to be sent to the United States.  You see, in 1960 Viking Sewing Machine Company released the Viking 2000 which was supposed to be an user-friendly sewing machine with colour coded settings and automatic feed for elastic stitches. Sadly, the machines didn't sell well this side of the pond because the home sewist didn't have the experience with sewing with stretch-stitch capability and these new stitches.  

Thanks to Martensson, the fortunes of the Viking Sewing Machine Company turned around when she was called upon to create sample patterns to help promote the new stitches of the Viking 2000. Her experience in the ready-to-wear landscape where quick and easy methods were reproduced into her sample patterns and the rest is history!  The patterns and the Viking 2000 were hits and the home sewing community could not get enough. International business travel along with designing more patterns for Viking Sewing Machine Company began to take a toll and that is when Martensson had to make a decision on the career path she wish to follow.  

Relocating to the United States in 1967, Martensson struck out on her own with her own pattern line and releasing her first book, How to Sew Knit and Stretch Fabric.  

Sweater dress, circa 1967
The time was right with new knit fabrics hitting the scene and easy-to-wear styles tempting the home sewers with the ability to recreate the fashionable looks at home. Martensson continued to design patterns and write. The instructions found in the vintage Kwik Sew patterns are a testimony to the wealth of sewing techniques she learned during her career.  The patterns stand out both for their craftmanship and perfectly graded patterns printed on glossy hard stock paper.  

Martensson passed away in 2002 and in 2006 became a Sewing Hall of Fame Honoree yet her company name and quality patterns stand the test of time and are still available.    

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Vintage Kwik Sew 941

This weekend's second hand store find is a vintage sewing pattern loaded with nostalgic feeling. It's stamped Janome Sewing Centre The Sewing Gallery.  It is with fond memories that I recall this establishment with a business model that is unheard and unseen today.  More than a quarter century ago, I purchased a sewing machine from this shop without a credit card and the full amount of cash needed for the purchase.  Seriously, not kidding and this is not fiction.  It was back-in-the-day when people were trusted on their word and cheques were accepted.  I paid for my first Janome sewing machine with post-dated cheques and was able to take my purchase home and start sewing.  I even remember the store owner offering to drive me home so that I didn't have to transport my heavy purchase on the bus.  It seems like a life-time ago.  Maybe because it's an unheard act of kindness found in today's marketplace.  I often find myself thinking about the elderly couple who sold the business and moved onto retirement.  They are often fondly remembered by their past customers in the local community for their kindness and knowledge freely shared.  

The pattern brings back memories as well. I guess you're of a certain age or someone who appreciates and wears clothing from a certain era to recall and appreciate the wearing of slips. Patterns like these are often dismissed to the "loungewear" section of a sewing book or website as more dresses are designed to be lined in order to eliminate the need for a slip. The last revival of the slip came in the 1990s with grunge music icon Courtney Love appeared in a slip dress at the Vanity Fair Oscar party. Kicking off a whole new round of inner wear becoming outwear. This is not another revival.   

It's a slip to be gifted for someone who doesn't wear lined dresses. There are still people out there appreciative of the functional aspects of a garment that mediates between wearers outer and under layers of clothing.  

The Pattern

The pattern isn't marked with a date stamp. However, the illustration does suggest that this pattern appeared on the scene in the 1970s based on the camisole style, side slit and Farrah Facet hairstyle on the model illustrations. I will have to add that Kwik Sew patterns were ahead of their time in offering multi-sized patterns when other major companies from this era where offering single sized patterns. 

The pattern has stood the test of time as it's produced on heavier paper stock than those currently found on the market by the big four pattern companies. Independent pattern companies excluded. This is a pattern that is ideally weighed down rather than pinned during the cutting process.  

I'm impressed with the detail instructions and suggestions for turning over the straps and treatment of the elastic at the top edge of the back. You don't often find these in today's patterns. I did use some modern-day techniques in the construction. Instead of finishing the hem with a side slit and lace, I used Knit-N-Stable tape at the hem. This version was cut 5 1/2" shorter and then an one inch hem.   

The Stats

Fabric:   2.4 metres

Lace:  1.5 metres

Elastic:  0.5 metres

Interfacing:  2.4 metres of Knit-N-Stable fusible 

Pattern:  Kwik Sew 941

Additional Tools & Supplies:  Cutting table, scissors, clapper and collar board for weights, thread clippers, sewing machine, walking foot, serger, tweezers, threads, pins, pin cushion and an audio book playing in the background.


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