Monday, May 22, 2017

Random Threads # 27: retail snooping, denim and pattern thoughts

It's a lazy Sunday afternoon so what better time than to sit outside under the patio cover eating strawberries, watching the hummingbirds zip by and catch up with a random threads post. As usual my notebook has plenty of ideas scribbled down. Scribble being the operative word. I have famously bad handwriting - such that often I can't decipher what I have written. You would think that would motivate me to go a little slower and try to make my notes clearer but no.

Which means I had one jotting that said "shopping online or in the store, mbnolpdd.sgubprdd. I have italicized the incomprehensible part of my note. What wisdom or pithy observation was included in that attempt at words we will never know but it probably had to do with the recent economic news about the not so slow decline of many retailers. It's a mixed bag, supporting retail shops. I like to support local business, and it's quite convenient for all of us when they have a web shop as well, so that no matter where you are you can buy from them. Plus I'm not the biggest fan of shopping as a pastime (actually it is so not my thing). I'm more of a strategic shopper - have a goal, find or don't find and get out.

However I did wander into the Anthropologie store the other day - there is a new multi-level store nearby, which actually took over a spot where there previously was a Barnes and Noble bookstore - so take whatever commentary on society that provides. In any case, I wanted to tell the sales people that "hey - I wore so many of these styles when I was in high school" thus proving that everything comes back in style. They have a lot of cute stuff and actually are good for getting ideas, plus I saw so many things that to my sewing eyes leapt right out of the pattern books or indie pattern shops. (time for me to trot out my oft-repeated phrase - there are no new patterns!). I did see something that sparked my interest enough to snap an iPhone pic. It is a simple enough denim shift dress which has appliqués of other colors of denim. Super cute. It was right next to another one that also caught my eye, at a mere $545 check this one out. A mix of suede and denim pieces. And so easy to make. (File that in the one of these days I might get around to it category:)  This summer I have so many denim projects in the works - and I saw this video on the Refinery29 website the other day about how jeans are made, here's the link to it. Including how they get all those holes and artfully placed slashes all over the jeans. I've always thought buying jeans with rips, holes and sanding seems ridiculous - perhaps my N. California bias is showing but I prefer original Levi's jeans or something similar that you have to actually wear into what you want them to be. That's what we did when I was 16 and some habits stay with you!

Anthro dress

Here's my question for other stitchers this week: why don't people try on things as they sew them? By that I mean in order to make adjustments before finishing. It seems like I saw a number of people sewing things up and then noting the fit problems - many of which seem like they could have been adjusted while the garment was being made. Particularly sleeves that are too long, or a skirt that is too wide. Straps that are in the wrong place. Waist seams that are too low. How about a wrap dress tie that is too long?  We can't magically add fabric when something is too small or too short but a lot of thing sto do with "too much" can be adjusted as you go. I think once you move past introductory sewing patterns and start to tackle more complex things then the desire to complete the project (which is totally understandable!) can supersede the opposing desire to slow down, check the fit and adjust. I know, tweaking and adjusting the fit is not really the most fun, the achievement of a perfect placket or a crisp collar is so much more rewarding. But the investment of time and money in the garment merits a bit of double checking as you go to get a finished time that you will be happy with.

On that same point - basting is your friend. I think machine basting is a really good way to construct most any garment. Yesterday at Hello Stitch Studio in the skirt class I taught I was extolling the benefits of basting and hopefully convinced a few to try that for their next garment, at least for the crucial fit points.

Pattern talk: it's no secret that I love a pattern with multiple views. Or multiple garments within one pattern. I'm kind of surprised that indie pattern designers don't put out more (or any) of these patterns.  I wonder why?  Sometimes there is an expansion pack released later which is additional expense. Perhaps the logistics of creating a pattern and packaging/instructions is a lot to tackle but I perceive more value with a pattern with perhaps top, skirt, dress etc. is there. . Vogue patterns have a lot of this type, with multiple pieces or views, and so does Simplicity for that matter. Here are a couple examples.

New Look 6864 patternVogue 8787Vogue 1247 skirt and top pattern

For my skirt making class one of the patterns I suggested was this one, Butterick 6182. You can guess I'm not a fan of the color palette in the top and skirt but we all were really pleased with how cute the skirt is. I said I thought the top had possibilities and maybe even the dress. And after some sewing last week I can say it does - will post the finished version soon.
Butterick 6182 pattern env

So what do you think of this new Amazon Echo Look which they call a "hands free camera and Style Assistant"?  I think it sounds like a nightmare! I suppose there are people who want advice from a variety of sources including - dare I say - a robot. But aside from all the issues with a wi-fi enabled camera taking photos in your bedroom, it just sounds like more ways to dress like everyone else. Don't do it, people! Get creative, unique and bold with your choices. That's why we sew, right? So you don't have to limit yourself to the ready-to-wear choices available.

Back to my actual sewing. A few weeks ago when I posted this McCalls pattern t-shirt  I showed how I lowered the front seaming so it was in the right place for me. Thus the upper part of the diagonal seaming didn't match up but since it was a knit I could ease/stretch to make the side seams match. Someone noted that I should have also adjusted the back to make the front and back exactly the same - however the idea is to adjust only the front, and have no change in the back. I wanted to revisit that and show that the seaming matches up perfectly along the side, and is only off at the top near the sleeve where it will not show. This is intentional as that is the place where the space is needed. So if anyone was wondering about that pattern and not sure about that adjustment give it a try.

side seam match diagonal strip t-shirt

Do you feel the online sewing world is slightly fractured these days? A lot of people have noted that they find they are blogging less, or commenting less, and/or tilting towards Instagram to connect with other sewers. I do post on IG and get some great sewing inspiration by seeing what people are posting but I don't like reading/commenting there so much. I bet like a lot of people, IG is something you look at on the run - so a quick glance and it doesn't really penetrate into your thoughts, and it has something of the firehose effect, just a blast of photos passing by making it difficult to remember or go back to anything interesting. I wonder what the next development will be? I love reading so blogs are my preferred category. Once in a while I might click on someone's video within their blog and I always think "get a move on"  If I see the length of the video is more than 2-3 minutes then nope - I could read multiple posts in that time. Just too slow for me. What about you - videos, do you watch?

Ok that's plenty of my opinions and observations for one day. Sometimes I read over these Random Threads and hope that I don't come off as a too cranky. There's so much great online content for those of us who sew but it is kind of fun to see if the stuff that I notice is noticed by anyone else.

What have I been sewing? A few things for sewing clients which are notable enough to have a post soon. I am on a denim kick as I mentioned earlier so here's a sneak peek of something I referred to above. If this fabric looks familiar its because I used it for a skirt for my friend Alice last summer and liked the fabric so much that I bought some for myself. This one has turned out to be a perfect match of unusual fabric with the pattern so I am HAPPY with this one.

Denim eyelet dress peek

Whew it is a hot one here in my corner of the Bay Area today. Like summer dress and sandals hot. Which is great for the tomato plants but a bit much in my sunny sewing room. Oh well, be careful what you wish for, right? I always want summer to be here but spring was so lovely...

Happy Sewing, Beth

How about this for today's garden photo. Alice took this one with her professional camera and it really shows. What a gorgeous photo. Also - I didn't plant this allium, it just appeared in the flower bed. Sometimes in a bag of bulbs there are some randoms but this was a lovely surprise. Might have to look for these next year.

allium v1

Friday, May 5, 2017

Fabric Store recommendation and review of McCalls 7094 top

Where do you buy fabric? The web has opened up every possibility to us all, and I'm like many of you - jumping from one site to another because you saw a great fabric on an IG or blog post. I'm sure a lot of us are disillusioned with the chain fabric stores. It seems the fabric they sell, while sometimes useful, is kind of the lowest common denominator of fabric choice. At the same time I am coming around to the idea of supporting local and small business owners - particularly when they are selling products for so many of the things I love, be it fabrics, garden supplies, books, the special produce market in my neighborhood or the hardware store with the helpful guys who know how to fix everything.
Which is a long way around to introduce a fabric shop, The Confident Stitch, owned by Kate who I met a few years ago when she came for a sewing and fitting lesson. She is originally from my corner of the bay area but moved years ago to Montana and has now fulfilled her dream of owning a fabric store. I don't think I will every make it to Missoula but happily we all can order from their lovely selection.
Confident stitch image2
I like the way she lists the fabrics on the site, the photos show the color and drape of the fabric. I saw some interesting Japanese fabrics and even the ever elusive tencel denim (I love tencel-cotton blends and in denim colors they are great for a wear-everywhere shirt dress.) But for a coat and jacket maker like me I was really pleased to see the pressing tools listed - they sell a 2-in-1 Tailor board very similar to one you have probably seen on my blog. Plus lots of marking tools, like Chalkoner chalk markers and Frixon pens. If you have been lamenting that you can't find these tools near you give a look at The Confident Stitch website.

Fabric - Kate offered to send me something from their website so I chose a couple of cotton lawns that I had seen in person as I met the fabric designer (who is based here in my local area).

First up is this dreamy floral print, the poppies evoke California (our state flower) but the color way is a bit different than the usual poppy prints with the pink background. It reminds me of Japanese porcelain. I decided to try out a new pattern, McCalls 7094.

McCalls 7094  front on form

I've been on a tunic top kick lately as I will be teaching a Sew a Tunic Top class at Hello Stitch Studio in Berkeley which starts next week, so I made a few different patterns to check them out.

McCalls 7094 pattern envelope

This pattern has pleats at the shoulder which I like, and a sewn-on placket plus an interesting collar that meets at the top of the placket. However I will say that this part is a bit tricky to sew. It's one of those areas where you have to stay-stitch and then snip the fabric to the stitching, and then apply the placket and collar precisely so they meet and create that v-notch on either side of the neckline. It looks nice and this fabric had enough body to deal with that little minefield but I think in a silk or something that ravels like linen it would be a nightmare.

McCalls 7094 back view on form

Do you ever make something and think it is really pretty then try it on and it's "just not you"? I don't have that happen very often but when you are on a kick to try new silhouettes you encounter some that just won't work. I felt like it was both much fabric and and a bit frumpy on me. But I loved this fabric - so mentioned to my pal Alice that I had made a new top which she might be able to wear to work, an extra pretty scrub top if you will. When she came over she said, "oh no, that won't be for work, that is going in my actual wardrobe. And it looks great on her!

alice cotton top front view

I'm coming to the conclusion - when in doubt about my sewing choices - give it to a tall friend and it will be fine :)  Or try to grow a few inches myself. Which is probably not going to happen.

Here's a closer look at the neckline and fabric.

M7094 cotton top front neckline

I also chose a coordinating fabric from the same designer, and used that to make up my favorite tunic top pattern (New Look 6688 which I have sewn several times already, in eyelet, silk, silk, and rayon. So version five is in cotton lawn and the name of this fabric is Sun Spots - which I didn't realize but is kind of fitting for me.

Tunic top dots on me

This one is great with my red jeans but I am seriously tempted to remove the sleeves and have a top I can wear in our hot weather. However I think I will refrain and then have a cute casual top to wear a little bit now and then again in the fall when it cools off. I love the painterly dots of this print.

dot tunic top on form front view

The pink lawn is just a tiny bit softer than the blue dotted one, I did wash both but probably with another wash it will soften up some more. By the way, both these cotton lawns are organic cotton. I've seen a summer quilt that incorporated these plus other fabrics from the same designer and it is gorgeous.

So that's the scoop on The Confident Stitch - check them out. Thank you to Kate for sending me this fabric at no charge and I'm sure I will find more to purchase on her site.

Here's me and Alice and a corner of my garden in full bloom - this is the best time of year for a California garden, still so green.

me and alice cotton tops

Up next - I have been sewing quite a few things for others, some I will share including a plaid coat I am working on, the boucle fabric is an unraveling mess but the result is turning out so well.

Happy Sewing,

today's garden photo, a close up of that yellow rose shown above. It starts out a bright yellow touched with pink and fades to a pale almost white.

yellow pink rose


Friday, April 21, 2017

McCalls 7538 knit top with diagonal seaming

When I buy new patterns for knit tops or t-shirts the number one criterion for the purchase is that the pattern has to have something distinctive. It needs some detail that makes me want to sew it and wear it. A plain tee is just not going to catch my interest or my pattern dollars. I am kind of amazed at how many knit tee shirt patterns are circulating around the sewing world lately - that all look the same to me. How do you decide which one to buy and sew? and why make such a plain item? But of course that is the beauty of sewing - you can make exactly what you want and what appeals to your personal taste.

So when this pattern came out I bought it right away, I think the example dress on the pattern envelope looked so good to me - it has a lot of energy, if you could say that about a dress. So I sewed up the top to try out this pattern and it's pattern love on this one.

Mc7538 on me2

Although the details don't really pop with this fabric. Which I had in my stash and seemed like a good  bet for a first version, to work out the details and see if I liked the neckline and fit.

So far so good for this first version!

Mc7538 front view on form

I really like the shape of this top - fitted but not too much so. And the neckline, shoulders and sleeves fit really well. Lately the fit of the size 12 of Vogue and McCalls has been spot on for that crucial area. Not too wide in the neckline - something that drives me crazy (usually I find that in Simplicity patterns designed for wovens).
In any case - I did do some pattern fitting before I even cut out the top. Because I looked around the web at other versions sewn up and I think that on most women the seamline crosses the bust at not quite the right spot. (too high, bisecting the apex of the bust).

So I added some length to the upper pattern piece - which is cut on the fold. I added 3/4" at the bottom edge. That doesn't change at all how it attaches to the rest of the pieces, just makes the front longer than the back. Which I will deal with later :)

Top yellow arrow, showing the extra 3/4" added to bottom edge of Pattern Piece # 2.
Bottom yellow arrow, showing that I added 1/2" to the hip area (also on back pattern pieces not shown).  I always add a bit in the hip and then can take away later if need be.

Mc7538 pattern pieces

One thing to note about this pattern is to sew the segments in the order that they instruct. I wasn't paying attention, just started attaching them together and thought how can I sew that corner of piece number 8 into the triangle created by 6 and 7? But no - if you follow the directions you actually end with straight seams to connect - which is much better! So even though I say that I never look at the instructions that is not completely true. Usually when I am zipping along and then hit a point where I think "oh this is stupid'. So I read the instructions and find that it's me that is being a bit dense and they have worked it out much better!

We might as well get to the next question - how to deal with the difference in length front vs. back now created by my pattern adjustment. This is where knits are so nice. I just stretched the back a bit to make it meet up with the front. 3/4" is a very small difference in most knits, you could probably add up to 1.5" and get away with it. Alternatively you could gather the front piece a bit to ease it into the back. Arielle on Instagram tagged me recently that she tried this method which I guess I wrote about long ago? and that it worked well which I'm glad to hear :)

MC7538 side seam

Here's the pattern envelope. McCalls 7538. I really like the dress version and have some striped knit that might be just perfect for that. I was thinking about doing the V-neck version in a variety of scraps of striped fabric - which may look like a clown outfit or could be very cool. Time will tell.

McCall env template rev2

Here's another place where I decided to follow the directions and am pleasantly surprised. I do NOT like knits where the neckline is turned and stitched. For some reason that seems to me.
Like I'm sewing my own clothes but I will make the minimal effort. Harsh? Hey everyone has a details or two that they can't abide and that is one of mine. But for this semi-tester version I gave it a try (meaning I wasn't going to be heartbroken if this top didn't look great since the fabric was one of my $2 sale bargains).  And it came out nicely. I think this technique doesn't work on all knits - they have to have enough stretch to turn the round edge but not too much that they stretch out. If that makes sense!

Mc7538 neckline

Mc7538 back

Am I shrinking or are patterns getting longer? I think the trend is for longer tops, even in t-shirts. I hemmed it and then decided it was too long so very lazily turned up the hem again and stitched to shorten it another 1.25".  So the hem is a bit bulky. But now I know for the next version.

You can see on the dress form that adding the 3/4" of length on the top piece means that the seam does go under the bust point which I think looks optimal. Plus the diagonal seaming/stripes create kind of a slimming effect, which is fine with me!

Mc7538 close up diagonal

So that's the scoop on this cute t-shirt pattern, definitely a winner in my view. And it matches my new royal blue jeans (which I ordered from Lands End - a lot of their pants/jeans fit me perfectly so I am on the lookout for when they put them on clearance price). Expect to see these jeans a lot - they are such a great color for my wardrobe :)

Mc7538 on me

And don't you miss the pink jasmine on the back fence, I'm so sad to lose it however today is a plant sale at the local junior college horticultural department. So I plant to stock up on lots of new stuff that I will then have to find a home for in my yard.

Hello Stitch Studio in Berkeley where I will be teaching sewing classes is now open!  Some lovely photos on the space now online to view. You can register on their website for memberships and sewing classes. You don't have to be a member to take the sewing classes so I hope to meet some of you there. My first classes: Sew a Tunic top (morning) and Sew a Skirt (afternoon) start on May 13 and there are a few spaces still available.

Up next, I'm sewing a couple of items for myself in some beautiful cotton voile. Love that fabric! And working on various projects for sewing clients - with some interesting features that I will blog about.

Happy spring sewing,

Today's garden photo - you can see the gorgeous yellow rose in the pictures above that is at its best this time of year, but the star this week is the orange tree. In full blossom, covered in bees doing their job of pollination and the orange blossom scent is intoxicating!

orange blossoms

Monday, April 10, 2017

What season is it? New Look 6374 top in Silk twill

What season is it? As is typical here in the bay area we had a burst of glorious warm weather - sunshine, temperatures where I live around 80˚F a week ago. I know this for a fact because I went to buy some heirloom tomato plants at a master gardener sale. The line was long and the sun was intense. I went in the morning - decided there were too many people and I didn't want to spend a glorious Saturday morning standing in line. So I went on with my other errands, had lunch and then around 1:30 decided to go by there again. Eureka! No line and they still had some of the varieties that I wanted.
But as for planting - the area wasn't quite prepared and I've been in the midst of having a fence rebuilt which also involved tearing down my lovely pink jasmine. It will grow back, or so I hope. So the vegetable patch is still a work in progress and in the days following the great tomato score the skies have opened up. A crazy rainstorm! The poor shivering tomato plants wonder what is happening and so do we all.  April showers, right?
That brings up the question of what to wear. Not really summer clothes weather, not yet time for shorts or floaty summer dresses. As it happens I had started making this silk twill shirt and find that it is just right for those transitional seasons which we briefly have here. Although my usual caveat - if you are visiting the bay area our microclimate weather could mean arctic by the ocean and sweltering 10 miles inland. Visitors you are warned!

green NL blouse2

It was raining when I took this picture so that's why I taking refuge under the patio cover. And you can see the new fence:) minus the lovely pink jasmine which was just starting to bloom :(.   We are a fenced-in bunch here in CA. I was amazed when ages ago I went on a business trip to N. Carolina and saw all the houses and not a fence between them. Plus it was spring and everything was in bloom, I thought it was lovely. I did ask my hosts how everyone kept their dogs in their yard but I don't recall the answer.  Where I live there are so many swimming pools and it's the law (for safety) that they have to be fenced.
Anyway - back to sewing. This top is a silk twill which I actually had some doubts about as I was sewing but now that it is completed it's dreamy to wear. Very floaty, but with substance if that can be a thing. I bought this fabric at Metro Textiles in New York last October and after making this I have about 1 yard left. I saw the same fabric on the Gorgeous Fabrics website, here's the listing.

silk twill shirt front view

silk twill shirt back view

Here's the pattern envelope and drawing. I made this top previously, also in silk and in green which is a funny coincidence, and both of my versions look so different from the envelope version. That looks boring and a bit frumpy. (that dark blue lace, blech)  My previous version is here. I love this top and have worn it a lot.

NL_6374 pattern evn

My and my shivering tomato plants.

green NL blouse w tomato plants

Sewing-wise I don't have much to say about this pattern, it is a bit fiddly to sew, at least that skinny placket is but the instructions are very clear and if you follow each step it should be perfect. If you haven't done a placket like that before I would suggest a first try with a nice well behaved cotton. This silk twill is super slippery and wants to leap off the sewing table at every opportunity. But that's what makes it very comfy to wear.  I cut out this version to the length the pattern specified, as I couldn't do that when I made the first stripe version due to minimal fabric, but this seems a bit long in the back. So since I took the photos and wore it once I shortened the back about 1.5 inches. It still has the hi-lo hemline but just not so long in the back.

silk twill shirt neckline view

I tried to match the dots on the placket but maybe not so well. I think this is a thing that sewing people might see but nobody else will.

This image is probably the best representation of the actual color. I made the sleeves full length and added a regular shirt cuff. For the opening I did a continuous placket which is softer and easer on this type of fabric.

silk twill shirt sleeve cuff

So that's the latest scoop on what I've been sewing. And while I have one quick knit top which I just completed for myself (pattern love! McCalls 7538) my other sewing recently is for other people. Including a coat in plaid (eek) which I will share. And a silk charmeuse blouse (also eek). These tricky fabrics!

Thank you for all the kind words my last post - where I mentioned that I will be teaching sewing classes at a new studio in Berkeley:  Hello Stitch Studio. We are getting sign-ups at a steady pace so if you are interested check out the website and reserve your place in the class.

Happy Sewing, Beth

Here's my garden photo for the day - under the apple tree which is in full bloom and making a carpet of pink petals. And despite the rain still covered in flowers. The prolific nature of this old tree amazes me. And the flower petals look like snow when the wind blows. So pretty!

green NL silk blouse apple tree

apple blossom video

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

I'm teaching classes at a new Studio !

Hello Stitchers! I couldn't resist opening with that greeting as I am happy to tell you that I will be teaching classes at a new studio opening in Berkeley starting in May.

Hello Stitch Studio - a fully provisioned sewing and quilting studio located in Berkeley CA. 

I'm so excited to have this opportunity and will start with a few different garment basics classes as well as a fit lab class. Coming up in the future are classes for a button front shirts, jeans and of course coats/jackets!  It is a fully equipped studio so no need to bring machines or equipment (although you are welcome to bring your own to use).  The owners are quilters as well as sewers so the studio will have something for everyone.

Hello Stitch website image

Here are the details on the classes for May and June. The Tunic Top class and Skirt class have two different sessions scheduled. On the website the class listings have more descriptions of what I will be covering such as choosing your size, seam finishes, and even how to make changes in the pattern to make it just right for you.

Basics - Tunic Top Class
Saturday May 13 & 20, 10am-1pm  and Sat. July 15 & 22, 2pm-5pm

Basics -  Skirt Class     
Saturday May 13 & 20, 2pm-5pm  and Sat. July 15 & 22, 10am-1pm

Basics - Shift Dress
Sunday June 4 & 11,  12:30pm-4:30pm

Fit Lab - Fit a pattern just for you.
Saturday June 17, 10am - 5 pm

For the garment classes details on on the website listings, I have suggested specific sewing patterns, choosing an indie pattern option as well as a Big 4 pattern but if you already have a pattern for a tunic top, skirt or shift dress I'm sure that will work. Also when you register we will provide info on what to bring and prepping your fabric before the class.

From their about page:

"Hello Stitch is a creative studio in Berkeley CA that specializes in quilting and sewing. Owners Stacey, Kristen and Terri wanted to create a space where people can be inspired to sew and create things by hand. We believe that working with textiles can serve as an outlet for expression and a way of life. A way for people to feel better about their lives. By providing a variety of classes and sewing machines to rent, we hope to excite people new to the craft as well as experienced crafters."

Sign up for their newsletter to get updated on all the classes and details. We'll be scheduling more classes for the coming months as well. The studio is located on University Avenue, a few blocks down from Shattuck (walkable from the Berkeley Bart Station). Classes are available to anyone and the garment classes come with 2 hours of studio time so you can arrive early or stay after to continue working on your item. They offer membership so if you want to sew with others, get a discount on classes or need a fully equipped sewing space that is available. That info will be on the website in the next few days.

Can you tell I'm super excited? I hope to meet lots of local stitchers and sew together there. Or even out of town stitchers - add it to your bay area vacation :)

If you have any questions feel free to email me  (the link to email me is at the upper right under my profile pic).

Happy Sewing, Beth

Quilt hello flags

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Vogue 9205 knit top in stripes

Ok, it won't be quite so long until another edition of Random Threads (my previous post). You really like those! I enjoy the comments so much. Of course everyone likes to have their opinions validated - the topic of scuba fabric brought a lot of you to exclaim how much you dislike wearing it. I think in carefully chosen garments it could be an OK choice - but I will stay away. Not that I was planning to sew anything using it. There are so many other better fabrics waiting for me.

I just looked at the new Vogue summer pattern releases and didn't see anything that caught my eye. Which is just as well - plenty of patterns on my to-do list already. In fact a lot of them were unappealing to me - however the previous couple of releases had some items I want to make or have made.
Including this pattern repeat, Vogue 9205. Which is a simple knit top pattern, and it even breaks my rule (not really a rule, more of a note-to-self) in which I only buy patterns that have multiple views or multiple garments in one pattern envelope. The idea of short or long sleeves, or doing a sleeve in a contrast color hardly counts as another view. But I love this pattern and am really glad I tried it out.

navy blue stripe dart top

I would say it while not ideal for stripes it worked pretty well. I bought this fabric at Stone Mountain - they really have some bargains in their upstairs space. Since they stopped doing classes they have a lot more square footage for fabric. This was something like $ 3 per yard, a really nice weight of rayon knit. I have some remaining which is always good to have for pattern testing, I use my knit scraps when I am playing around with a knit pattern to see style and fit.

navy blue stripe top on me1

When I cut it out I thought I had the sleeve stripes matched up but they are off just a little bit. Oh well - for a first try on this pattern it's not too bad. And do non-sewers notice stuff like that?

Vogue 9205 pattern piece

Here's the pattern piece for the front. I cut a size 12 and the fit was just right. I think the McCalls/Vogue patterns are perhaps reducing the amount of ease included these days - or designing for a closer fit? Does anyone else think so?  At least the patterns for knits that I have used from Vogue and McCalls have fit fairly well with minimal alterations. I do always look at the finished garment measurements and see how that shapes up as compared to my measurements.

navy blue darts closeup
On another note - I am really pleased with the neckband and how I very carefully cut it out so the light blue stripe would be centered on it. I can't even remember if I used the pattern piece (usually I don't) but I think I did since the rest of it was going together so well.

navy blue dart top back

navy blue dart top on me

My pal Alice took these photos on the same day as we did the photos for my recent blue jacket. You can see that I'm wearing this knit top under the jacket. I think it goes well and makes a good combo.

Not a lot of sewing detail and I'm sure I'll repeat this one for a long time. Perhaps with short sleeves in a lighter color.  Although I'm really itching to try this McCalls 7538 which is a dress or top. And I have plenty of striped knits in my stockpile ready to use.

That's all for now. I just started sewing another pattern repeat (a New Look pattern) and have plenty of other things in the queue.

After thinking about scuba fabric last week, and hearing the comments (particularly on pants made of scuba, that sounds like wearing a sauna) I thought that the only scuba fabric I have or will wear is the real thing!  Here I am in the Caribbean on a sailing/scuba vacation. My scuba suit was a shortie and almost not necessary as the water was warm and beautiful (although when you are toting the tanks etc it's helpful to have that layer as a base). I'm a tropical scuba only kind of person - no to the chilly California coast and yes to Hawaii or the Caribbean :)

scuba pic1

So stay cool everyone, summer is on it's way here and everything is so green. Which may last a bit longer this year due to our epic winter rain.

Happy Spring sewing,

The daffodils are almost done blooming but the other day when wandering around with my camera I came across this one - so pretty. It pays to plant lots of daffodils, all kinds of varieties as they come back year after year. Plus I don't really keep track of where/what I planted so there are lots of nice surprises.

white yellow daffodil

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Random Threads # 26 - seasons, shapes and thimble questions

What? This is the first Random Threads post for 2017? Time to expand on the scribbles in my notebook and discuss.

Seasonal wardrobe

Since it is timely - at least here in alternately sunny and rainy California its timely - when do you change over from winter clothes to summer? Or do you even do that? It's commonly said that here in the bay area we don't really have seasons, but I beg to differ. As long as you are not near the often foggy coast, the summer days can be absolutely lovely or even stinking hot. So I had a childhood of switching out the winter clothes, boxing them up and placing on the high shelves of the closet, with the accompanying exchange of shorts and swimwear that had been tucked away for the winter. I love that moment when it is warm enough to wear shorts and sandals, walk barefoot on the grass and enjoy the warm evenings outdoors. We're not quite there yet - as it has been off and on rain for the last week or so but we had a spell of warm weather and I am ready for more. So I did put away some wool sweaters and cleaned up the t-shirt drawer. Bring on Spring! Do you pack away your winter clothes or have a multi-season wardrobe?

Trying new shapes and styles

I can be kind of stubborn when it comes to sewing up a new shape or style, sticking to what I like. But at the same time I am always on the lookout for something new that will still make me feel good about wearing it. Here's a dress I sewed last year that was a bit of an experiment, summer ended so I didn't wear it but I will try it this year. Recently I did some sewing for someone else and she brought me a pattern that I would never have chosen myself.

Butterick 5861 envelope

Butterick 5861 gold blouse

I sewed this version for her, and while it is not a color I would choose the shape and style of the pattern I really like. I sewed View D shown in red on the pattern envelope. This is the only pattern I have ever seen that specifies using elastic thread to create that small gathered section in the center back - a nice detail. Anyway, I reserve the right to slip on things I am making for others (for educational purposes :) and I thought the shape of this top is lovely. So I traced off the pattern pieces and will try to make one for myself later this spring. If I find a nice silk it would be really pretty. I can tell you that this one was kind of a test - and then I made another version for her in silk chiffon. eeeeeekkkkk!. All those little tucks down the front. whew. I don't know the pattern rating but I would not call it easy. I must really like it to do those tucks again!  Anyway the whole exercise proved to me that I need to try on stuff that I think I won't like, just to see. Although I did that with a cold shoulder top in a department store and almost fell down laughing as I thought it looked ridiculous - on me. Some versions look great on others. That's just the reason to try various things out.

Lining or no?

I just saw a new trench coat pattern (Deer & Doe I think) and it has no lining, just taped seams. There are a lot of jacket and coat patterns with no lining, or not even an option of lining. This is something I just don't get. I put linings in everything and the thought of doing every seam with bias tape would make me scream. Yes - sometimes it looks nice and works, mostly on casual jackets but I wouldn't wear a coat or layering piece that didn't have a lining. Mostly I like linings because then your jacket or coat wears better, less wrinkling, slips easily on over your shirt or dress. I have a Lisette jacket pattern that is really cute but I suspect it has no lining - so I'll have to give that some more thought.

European patterns

Even though I rarely buy them I like to look at the European indie sewing patterns. My pal Sewing Tidbits just did a round-up of French sewing pattern companies with lot of links. And she is starting to create her own patterns, exciting!  Pauline Alice patterns are my favorite so far, perhaps because she does unique things (not another basic top but instead very distinctive styles) I sewed her Quart coat, Saler blazer, and Alameda dress and loved them all.  Named Clothing from Finland have a lot of interesting styles - but nothing that has grabbed me. For the most part if I see an interesting detail, either in ready-to-wear or in a pattern, and if I don't already have the pattern or one that could be adapted, then I look at the BurdaStyle website and usually find something similar. For some reason putting together a $ 6 PDF pattern is way less annoying than putting together a $ 20 PDF. But they are all still annoying. Anyway I am always on the lookout for some interesting and more advanced patterns so let me know if you discover anything.

Thimble news


Were you sad to hear that the Monopoly game is discontinuing the thimble as a playing piece? I was. That was always my choice when playing Monopoly. Do you use a thimble? I certainly do for certain tasks. Sometimes it is the only way to prevent puncturing your finger when hand sewing through very thick fabric. The metal one above is great for that. The pink one is a sort of soft plastic, with a slight grippy texture and it makes sewing quicker, at least for me. The ceramic one someone gave me, I suppose you could use it but I keep it around because it's pretty. Using a thimble does take a bit of practice but once you get the hang of it then it really helps.

Sewing Lace Fabrics

I see a lot of great garments made with lace fabric and it has been really popular on the runways for the last few years. But it's just one of those fabrics that I have no interest in sewing with, or making a garment for myself to wear. Along with scuba. Scuba fabric to me feels like wearing 7 layers of polyester fused together - not an appealing idea. But maybe I'm wrong about that. In any case, if you touch a fabric in the store and it gives makes you shudder but not in a good way then I imagine sewing with and/or wearing would be no different. Is there a fabric that is just not for you?

Not really improved

Did you take a look at the Colette Patterns reissue of their free Sorbetto top pattern? They have been revising their design work, I believe revamping their blocks and sizing. So they revised their Sorbetto tank top pattern. And it looks.....not good. I can't stand the way they do bust darts, always too long so they are too visible from the front. They seem to choose fabrics that don't match up well for what they are showing, and they never fail to have the examples fit poorly on the models. For the same $18 the patterns from Named (mentioned above) seem a lot more sophisticated.

New Fabrics

Nothing much since my trip to NY last October, and I am making progress on a few of those fabrics. But I did pick up a couple of things recently.

new fabrics stripe and metallic

On the left a couple of jersey knits, I have a this McCalls pattern which is calling my name for spring. Not sure if I will make the top or the dress, or both. And which color. But the past few years I have been sewing a lot of stripes which I find very fun. But the real treasure is the fabric on the right which is a cotton chambray with metallic silver threads. Unfortunately in this picture you can't really see the metallic and the color is slightly more blue than it appears. I didn't buy much, maybe 1 yard but that is plenty for a little sleeveless top for summer. I knew I had to buy it because I looked at it on 3 separate occasions at Stone Mountain. 😊

That's all for today. Up next, another version of Vogue 9205. my current fav t-shirt pattern. (so fickle, always a new fav which is usually the last thing I sewed).
And some work in the garden, replacing some fences, removing the ivy which I can't stand, and hopefully creating more sunny spots, for more plants! But in the meanwhile its a disaster zone.

Happy sewing and Happy Spring!

today's garden photo, more tulips.

purple tulips

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