Monday, November 20, 2017

Bamboo coat from Waffle Patterns

If someone asked me what is my favorite thing to sew, I guess the answer would be jackets and coats. Particularly the wool kind. I think making a wool jacket is my version of knitting, a comfortable, soothing, repetitive series of steps that are calming and relaxing. Which might sound odd to a lot of you. I think once you get comfortable with any skill it feels that way. You can be learning to sew, or making bread, or speaking a new language, or skiing, or hitting a golf ball, or any other thing that takes practice, purpose and a desire to improve. But one day you will do it and feel comfortable and relaxed and realize that you are doing this thing for fun and not thinking too much about the how. I suppose what I'm describing is often called being in the mental state of flow - fully immersed, involved, enjoying the activity. Sewing is generally this type of activity for me, and on a good day some of my other pursuits can get there as well. I think a key to feeling this way about sewing is both practicing, learning from mistakes, as well as letting go a bit, not being consumed by the idea of making a mistake. I tell people it's not surgery, it's only cloth and there is always more. Does that seem contradictory? To both focus deeply and let go at the same time?

Back to coats. For my jacket/coat making class at Hello Stitch one of the patterns I recommended was the Bamboo coat from Waffle Patterns. We were looking for a coat or jacket that had a loose and easy fit so as to take that out of the equation, and allow people to concentrate on the technical aspects of sewing and minimize the time needed for fit adjustments. I wanted to sew my own version to see how the instructions were and where there might be some difficulties.

And in fact I sewed this back in October so at the time I had a lot of thoughts, that I should have written down! So just a few impressions remain. The major impression is that it is Drab with a capital D! I like tweedy fabrics, I like a touch of black but there is something about the combo of this fabric with the menswear style that just doesn't give me a thrill. However - a friend of mine with vivid red hair tried it on and it looks great on her. Picture a shoulder length curly gorgeous red-headed bob haircut, coat worn with skinny black jeans and ankle boots and a black leather bag. A perfect slouchy-cool city look. At least that was my impression. I'm always happy when one of my handmade items that doesn't work for me is perfect for someone else!

bamboo coat front on form

My main recollection about sewing this is that following instructions to do details like lapels and welt pockets is kind of difficult. By that I mean that typically I don't read any instructions, and I just do the pattern markings on the fabric and then that's it. I decide where/what to interface, how to sew the pockets or welts, where to put the buttonholes. But for this one I followed the instructions and felt that they were both very thorough and at the same time tricky to understand.

# 1 Positive about this pattern:  The ROLL LINE is marked on the lapel and under collar. Can I say hallelujah? This is my top pet peeve on coat patterns, that very few patterns (even extremely tailored and detailed Vogue or Burda patterns) include the roll line. A few Vogues do and I think they should try to include on on things that are meant to be made of wool. Anyway this pattern has it and you can see that break in the interfacing on what is the under collar. The break there induces the collar to fold (roll) at just the right place.
#2 Positive - lots of interfacing. The instructions are quite detailed on where to put the interfacing, and I think that is what makes the difference between achieving a well-made coat and one that looks, well, homemade. And it is such an easy step but interfacing supports the fabric and gives all the details the oomph needed to retain creases and shape.

bamboo coat back interfacing


inside interfacing front bamboo coat

This pattern has long angled darts which add a little bit of bust and waist shaping without taking away that menswear look.

Bamboo diagram with fabric

Another thing I really liked about this pattern is the hidden buttonhole placket. What a great detail in a coat, it solves the problem of making buttonholes in several thick layers of wool coating because you use a lining inside the placket. Consequently it is one layer of wool there.

Bamboo front hidden buttonhole

And it's only right to include this photo which shows that it might be a good idea for me to look at the instructions more closely - which I thought I was doing. But this hidden buttonhole placket was going so well, and I found some buttons so I just sat down and made the buttonholes. In the WRONG directions. Yep, coat and jacket buttonholes are supposed to be horizontal not vertical. Think about every coat you have had, easier to button if they are horizontal and it keeps the coat closed better. OH well. Can't win 'em all. And I used a lovely piece of of grey that was in my lining scrap bin for the placket facings. I love this type of lining and never see it in the stores anymore. Acetate, kind of hefty and perfect for coats/jackets. Usually with a woven pattern.

bamboo coat hidden buttonhole placket2

The finished coat front is very nice, and the placket instructions were pretty good. (Although I've used this construction method plenty of times before, in my class it was a bit of puzzle for the person who hadn't encountered it before. But a good learning experience).

The part where I put down the instructions and did my own thing was the welt pocket. While the instructions - if you follow them exactly, result in a decent welt pocket with the pocket bag attached - whew they are a slog. A couple of students did them in the class and I hadn't gotten to that point in my coat. So I decided to just do it my own way.  On the right is the pocket piece provided by the pattern, where you stitch it partly on, and then attach the pocket bags, and then fold the sides in and hand stitch some sections.

Bamboo welt pockets 2 types

Ah, no. that seemed way too fussy and not guaranteed to get two matching pockets. So I removed that piece shown on the right. made a wide single welt and used that to make a standard welt pocket. Much better.

welt pocket with ruler on Bamboo

Note that I used lining for the back of the welt, much easier to achieve a crisp edge if it isn't two layers of the wool which was very springy.

bamboo coat on form back view

The back vent is a nice detail. I put some shoulder pads in, very small ones just to keep it from being a bit droopy. Not sure if when I took this picture I had added them yet.

And this is after a very long day at the Hello Stitch Studio - I think this was a day with a mini-class on zippers in the morning and then a knit top class in the afternoon. But I wanted to have a picture with the coat on someone. Also note - I sewed the coat in size 40 with no changes - and the sleeves are way too long for my baby length arms.

bamboo coat on me


We have another session of the Coat/Jacket making class in December, (weekend class 10am-4pm on Dec 16-17) as a couple of people had to postpone from our first in October. Consequently there are a couple of spaces still open so if you have a coat or jacket that you want to do here is the link. The recommended patterns are just a suggestion, email me if you have something else you are thinking of using in the class.

Here's a link to all my classes. One I'm particularly looking forward to is a class we are calling "Pattern Basics: How to read a sewing pattern". I'm planning to cover how to choose a pattern, measuring yourself, how to select your size,  matching fabric with pattern, and then we'll open up some patterns and review what's printed, both in the instructions and on the pattern pieces. Plus some tips on cutting out and marking. I think this will be great for beginners or as a refresher.

In December I plan to do some selfish sewing - including cutting into "my precious" which is a blue two-sided wool that I bought at Mood Fabrics NY last year and has been tormenting me for these many months with the "what should I use it for" question. But I think I've cracked it. It's a lot brighter blue, this photo makes it looks grey.
two sided wool

So that's the latest, I was outside a while ago doing a little autumn weed pulling and pansy planting when the garden lights came on - which means it is too dark to be out there trying to tell weeds from real plants. Is winter over yet? OK, I know it actually hasn't started yet but you know I'm ready for spring.

However I can't complain - even though it has been a bit chilly, no frost yet and I still have lots of gardenias in bloom.

Happy Thanksgiving Sewing,
Beth

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Friday, November 10, 2017

A Shirt and a Shirtdress, Butterick 6333 in paisley cotton poplin

Which came first, the shirt or the shirtdress? In fact the fabric came first, and the idea for the shirt, but then I took a detour to sew this shirtdress.

B6333 green shirtdress close up front neckline

Which is Butterick 6333, a shoulder princess seamed shirt dress pattern with two skirt options.
A really good basic pattern, that I made a little more difficult for myself with some fitting adjustments  that overshot the mark, as well as adding a waistband and zipper. WHAT? a zipper? yep, read on for details.

B6333 pattern env

This is a dress I made for my friend Heather. She has been wanting a shirtdress for a while and we figured it was time to sew up a lightweight cotton one for late summer/fall. I've made a shirtdress style for her previously (probably not blogged) by copying an existing dress she had but for this one we wanted the traditional shirt styling with collar, stand, button band etc. However - and this is a big however, she likes to have a waistband to emphasize the waist, and this pattern didn't have that feature. So I improvised and the waistband you see is actually an applied piece. I sewed the dress as is, but added the waistband overlay on the outside of the bodice front and back, and that worked really well, plus let me do the fitting on the side seams. You know my aversion to sewing the skirt onto the top of a dress in one move, I always do the front, and then the back and sew the side seams near the end.

The second thing that she wanted was not to have the skirt actually unbutton. I can see for wearing that buttons are just a pain, they gape when you sit down and get ruined at the cleaners.

B6333 shirtdress front with text

So I sewed the dress as normal, including the buttonholes all the way down the front of the dress. But from the waistband down to about 5 inches above the hem the dress is stitched closed. The topstitching on the button bands allowed me to overlay them as if they were buttoned and then stitch on either edge of the band. You can't even tell that it is sewn shut but no chance of any wardrobe or button malfunction. I sewed the buttons on in that portion right over the buttonholes (which I didn't slice open, no need). But of course what does this rearrangement require - our old friend the side seam zipper. Which means the dress has to fit at the waist just right, and then the zipper is put in next to last. (the sewing the front shut is actually the last). Well hemming is actually the last.

Dress form view. I did cause myself a bit more work as she has gone down a few inches and so I adjusted the pattern and then had to revise after I cut it out. But thankfully those shoulder princess seams allow for plenty of adjustment.

B6333 green shirtdress on form front

Cute huh? I love this fabric so much. Which is why it made it back with me last November when I shopped at Mood Fabrics.

Mood purchases 2

Heather and I were searching for a stretch cotton in a print, maybe a sateen or a poplin that would work for a shirtdress, and I remembered that I had this fabric from Mood. So I checked on their website and it was still available. They have it still (in 3 color ways) although it says this green/navy is almost sold out. (search stretch cotton poplin).  Soon I plan to use that cotton shirting in the bottom of the photo for another shirt, it goes with so many things in my wardrobe.

Back to fact that I originally bought this cotton for a shirt for me. And here it is, using what else? My trusty Simplicity 2339 shirt pattern. At this point the pattern pieces are getting a bit raggedy, I guess it's time to copy them over onto sturdier paper (maybe 14 versions?)

Green paisley shirt front view

Nothing much to say about this version other than I love the fabric and can wear this with so many things I have.

For every version I have made in the last couple of years I do the front placket as a continuous piece that gets folded and sewn into a small pleat. I was all set to show how I do it but a search through my old blog posts shows that I already did that :)  Here is the link to how to make this type of shirt front placket.

Which you can see a little better in this picture.

Green shirt inside placket front

 The sleeves extra long on this version as I like to wear shirts under sweaters when the weather is colder and flip up the cuffs for a little extra peek at the shirt.  Tower plackets on the cuff opening which are hard to see in this busy fabric.

green paisley shirt cuff

Sewing a button front shirt has turned out to be one of our most popular classes at Hello Stitch Studio in Berkeley where I teach. The next button front shirt class starts Jan 13 as well as some other new classes, including some shorter mini-classes covered one type of techniques. Last week was my first mini class on zippers, and we will be adding more to the 2018 schedule. (including things like buttonholes, welt pockets, facings, linings, popular pattern hacks etc) I'll post when they are available for registration. I think Stacey is in the process of adding them to the website now.

This shirt is a bit longer than other versions, and I changed the shape of the side seam hem edge curve.

green paisley shirt on me

That's it for the paisley fabric from Mood. I have a few good size chunks leftover which might get combined with other retainers and turn into a sleeveless top next summer. But for now they go in the scrap box.

Up next, I have a long list of stuff that is either started or on the proverbial drawing board, including some jeans, a custom dress form, and an assortment of knit tops.

Can you believe Thanksgiving is around the corner - it sounds so trite to say it but this year is flying by. Only 8 more months until summer!

Happy fall sewing, Beth

for today's garden photo, some roses that bloomed back in July. This is one of the oldest rose bushes in my garden, way predates me and despite being in a shady spot puts out these lovely pink blooms. 
So many thorns though - and I've snagged my shirt on it numerous times trying to wriggle past to prune one of it's neighbors. I've planted a number of newer roses in the past few years but these older ones are worth keeping, which they bloom well they are showstoppers. 


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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Aldaia Dress from Pauline Alice, Version 2 for winter

There are a lot of sewing pattern companies and designers to choose from, and I generally stick to my personal favorites, which these days are Vogue patterns, New Look and Burda (which is a new development in the past couple of years but I'm now a fan). However there is one indie pattern designer that I find always suits my style: Pauline Alice Patterns. So it is no surprise that after sewing this pattern back in September I immediately made plans to sew up a version for colder weather. Finding this perfect knit at Stone Mountain Fabrics was the icing on the cake for my
winter version. And it goes so well with several of my coats!  Which might mean that my color palette is not very varied - but I don't really care. Jewel tones all the way.

Pauline Alice Patterns Aldaia dress v1

My first version of this dress is here, in a cotton-lycra jersey. This version is a rayon jersey, so a bit more drapey, and the skirt is nicely swishy - which you will see if scroll further down. I didn't make any changes from the first version, other than to add the sleeves which I lengthened to make then wrist length.

Pauline Alice Patterns Aldaia dress on dress form, front view

This is such a super speedy dress to sew, and one thing I especially like is that the neck band fits perfectly, meaning it sews onto the bodice with just the right amount of stretch to fit against the neck and have no gaping.

Pauline Alice Patterns Aldaia dress v4

Decidedly minimal sewing details for this one. The adjustment I did on the first version worked perfectly so no need to change that. Looking at my previous post I see that I didn't detail it so here goes. I added one inch of length on the front bodice pieces and attached the skirt at the center front using up that extra inch, and then tapered it away at the side seam. Note that I always construct things with side seams in the order of 1) all the front 2) all the back 3) sew the shoulder seams 4) play around with the fit of the side seams to fine tune. However this does mean that you have to be aware of how the waist seam will match up at the side seams.

fitting blue knit dress

Also note plenty of machine basting (mentioned in my previous Random Threads post) which is the quickest way I know to try out and fine tune the fit, then once it is OK I can sew each seam with normal stitch length, super quick with no pins or fussing since it is basted together. I also took it in a bit under the arm to make the bodice fit closely, however the sleeve is on the slim side so I didn't change it, just eased it in which worked fine.


Pauline Alice Patterns Aldaia blue dress dress back on form

Pauline Alice Patterns Aldaia blue dress dress wrap front

Close up look at the bodice pleating. At my knit dress class everyone asked if I stitched the band with a twin needle - answer is no :) I just did two rows. To me twin needles are kind of fiddly and find it's easier to just stitch a 2nd row of topstitching.

This dress is a little bit twirly and I spent the better part of the afternoon learning how to make/upload a GIF. Be warned, now that I have this minor superpower I will find it hard to resist the lure of the GIF.

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And if that isn't funny enough, when I looked at my photos at home I laughed again.


Pauline Alice Patterns Aldaia dress v5

Because my selected location gives off a distinctly "Miniature Stonehenge" vibe. For those of you who are fans of This is Spinal Tap you will know what I mean. I figured it was time to get out of my backyard and find a new photo location.

Anyway - this dress is a winner and I'm sure it will be worn frequently in the coming months. Now I'm thinking about adding a collar and waist tie to this pattern to give it a bit of a DVF wrap dress look.

Up next - I just ordered a couple of patterns from McCalls including this vest pattern M7693 because I impulsively bought this when I was last at Stone Mountain. Who doesn't need a faux fur vest, right?

Happy Sewing, Beth

Do you laugh and/or cringe when you look at the photos for your blog posts? In this one it appears I'm impersonating a tour guide giving all the details of the mini-Stonehenge... "we couldn't afford the full size replica but this one is portable. Next year we are adding a Sphinx the size of a garden gnome and a 7 foot tall Leaning Tower so you can take those goofy holding up the tower with your hands photos without dealing with tricky things like perspective!"

Aldaia dress v2


Thursday, October 19, 2017

Random Threads # 29 thoughts about basting among other subjects

My notebook list of topics and things that I want to either mention, praise, or rant about is filling a whole page which means it's time for another Random Threads post.

By the way if you are new to this blog, the previous edition of Random Threads is here. If you haven't read that it's entertaining to read the comments and see that the issue of evolving sewing terminology is something that everyone has an opinion about.

Basting - Do you do it? With every year and every garment sewn I am more and more convinced about the benefits of basting a garment together. At my last knit t-shirt class I had a number of people who were just past beginners, and not at all familiar with sewing knits. I asked them to baste at a couple of points in the construction, to attach the neckband, and then when putting on the sleeves. They thought it seemed like extra work but I said try it. Why baste the neckband? Who hasn't had one of those little blips where you are happily sewing along and all seems well, then you turn it over and see this?

knit band mistake

Or perhaps putting in the sleeve and not having any success with distributing the sleeve cap ease. Or trying to make a skirt more fitted and stitch it up with tight little stitches and then put it on and realize you need another inch?  Basting takes just a few minutes. It actually goes quite quickly since the stitch length is longer. Then a quick examination or a try-on to check fit and it all is OK you can sew the whole seam with NO pins - which is also quicker and easier. Without exception I pin sleeves in a garment, then machine baste, sewing over the pins (yep I do that most all the time) and then after removing all the pins I can carefully examine the sleeve, see how the cap looks, make sure I didn't make the seam allowance too wide which is kind of easy to do on a tight curve. Then all the little fixes can be taken care of by snipping out the basting stitches in the section that needs attention. I even usually do the basting in a contrast color, so I can really see it on the fabric, and then sew the real stitching just a fraction to the side, so that there is no need to remove the basting. Anyway by the end of the class I had convinced a few about basting and their final neckbands looked great.

Here's an example of basting, on a side seam, I baste, try on, straighten out the transition from one seam to another, and then when it fits as I want  - then I sew it up with a regular stitch length.

Basting side seam


The Walking Foot: What's up with the devotion to a walking foot? I have never used it! This subject is definitely a "to each her own - whatever works for you" type of topic. Every week I see mention of this with people saving up their sewing $$ to buy the Bernina walking foot which must include the precious sewing magic dust to sprinkle over each project for sewing success.  OK - I'm being a little sarcastic but I wonder what I'm missing. Or conversely that I have never needed it for any garment sewing that I've done. I think my philosophy toward sewing is similar to the way I also feel about cooking. It's less about tools and more about having the basics that you use to make any and everything. Perhaps it's also how you learned, if you didn't have a certain tool then you learned to do it the  - dare I say - old-fashioned way and it still works. That may be why I don't use the serger all that much. It is handy for finishing ravel-y fabrics like denim but other than that I don't like to use it.

Patterns that are the same: Recently I saw a new indie pattern release and it looked exactly the same as a New Look knit top I made a couple of years ago (which is still available). This week I saw the new Colette dress pattern, one that has so many virtually identical cousins available in other pattern companies, from Burda to Vogue to plenty of other indies. Do you have loyalty to a specific pattern company and then wait for them to release a specific type of garment? Is it the pictures of the samples that sells you on a specific pattern? I mostly look at the line drawings to decide on patterns, and am always looking for interesting or new details. Having said this before, I am kind of over PDF patterns. The printing/taping part is just so annoying to me.

Refashioners: the things that people make by refashioning something is just fantastic. This year it appears the challenge was to refashion a men's tailored suit into something different and wearable. What a great place to start. Last year it was denim jeans and I thought that was great as well. What could be next year's starting point?

KonMari method: Why do I have a possibly irrational antipathy to this method of organization? Fully admitting that I probably have junk I could get rid of, but I'm not much of a shopper or hoarder. Somehow the pared down minimalistic vibe bugs me. This type of life management is marketed as a brand just like a lot of others and is still selling something, be it a books or seminars if not actual products. I give her credit for not starting to sell physical products like closet organizers etc. but the warning that you shouldn't keep things only because they might be useful someday disregards the fact that a thing you are not using today will actually be useful. Here's an example: I have 5 pyrex glass pie pans, which are my preferred type. I love to make pie, do it often in the summer, Thanksgiving etc but I don't make a pie every week, or every month for that matter. But when I want to make them I can, and if I bring a pie to a friend's house I can leave the leftovers and get the dish back whenever. Same thought goes for tools - lots of different pliers and screwdrivers, paint rollers, garden implements. All that stuff which you have to store but would be silly not to keep. The same analogy goes for clothing, I have things I rarely wear but they are needed then they are there. Plus it seems wasteful to get rid of things just for the sake of decluttering. As I have mentioned before I come from a long line of string savers (my term) people who kept small glass jars of various screws, nails and other useful bits so that when you needed something it was there. And why I keep a lot of my interfacing scraps in a plastic bag so when I need a small piece I feel like I'm utilizing something that would have been wasted. True confession though, my sock drawer storage method is to chuck the clean socks fresh from the laundry in the drawer and then fish around for a matching pair when needed. works for me:)

Sewing sleeves flat: I generally sew all sleeves in the round. Meaning that the side seam and sleeve seam are sewn up, and then the circle of the sleeve is joined to the circle of the armhole on the garment. Recently I saw a post with someone sewing a woven sleeve into a woven fabric garment in the flat way. I object! Have you done this? Do you think it works out OK? and then what about the dominant seam? i.e. the long seam continuing from sleeve down the side. It seems a less elegant finish to a garment and I don't even do it on knits. Hey, I am slapdash with my sock drawer but not with my seams!

Are the 80's back? Oh I hope not! Whenever I go to a garage sale or some other spot where you can browse though boxes of older patterns selling for pennies, there are so many hideous 80's patterns! I can't get past the shoulder pads and the shapelessness. Certainly every era including the 80's had interesting clothes but you would not guess that from looking at the sewing patterns from that era. However the 60's patterns I come across are often super cute and wearable. And the older ones 40's and 50's have such interesting details. Let's skip the 80's revival, please!

Check out this website:  TheThackery    Craftsy asked me to write a post on sewing with cork fabric. And I said Ok, but what is it? ha ha, did some googling and pinteresting (a word I just made up) and the cork fabric looked interesting.  I ordered some cork fabric from an eBay seller and in the package was a business card for The Thackery. So I looked at the site and they sell the cork fabric and a bunch of other cool stuff, art supplies, magnets, very classy looking Italian sewing shears. Here's a look at sewing the cork fabric, it sews like a dream, really easy to work with and it just might convince me to make a handbag, or something like that. The natural cork with tiny metallic splatters on it is so pretty - would make a great clutch bag for summer.

sewing cork


Once again I am slightly concerned that I sound super cranky in this post - but based on the fact that these Random Threads get more comments than any of my other posts we all need to vent a little bit! And I didn't even get to these topics:  Stretch thread...necessary? worthwhile? marketing gimmick? How about new pattern releases - I'm starting to think that I am completed jaded with new pattern releases, even from my usual favorites Vogue and Burda. (Once again I turn to the thesaurus and see all the alternatives for that word "jaded", meaning weary, glutted, inured, unmoved, blasé. ) Yes all those things exactly!  Or perhaps it's that it is fall/winter and come spring I will find all kinds of new patterns to tempt me. Very likely!

Up next, a new shirt using fabric I bought at Mood last October, a knit dress using fabric I bought at Stone Mountain last month, and after that who knows.

This Saturday is the start of our Button Front Shirt class at Hello Stitch Studio in Berkeley which is sold out (although we will be scheduling this one regularly as it fills up) In the afternoon is the Knit Dress class which I think has one or two spots left. In December I'm doing a Copy an Existing Garment class which should be fun (also filling up). Actually they are all fun - I am meeting some amazing and interesting people and enjoying every class. People who sew are the best! Maybe I am biased. Ha ha, biased, sad little sewing pun there.  Check the website and see what might interest you, Jacket/Coat class also scheduled again in December.

Happy Sewing, and try a little basting too!

Beth

Today's garden photo, I got this mallow plant which seemed less than promising back in the spring at the local junior college's plant sale. It was a spindly thing but now it is about 5 feet tall, and covered with the prettiest pink flowers. A winner, I will definitely get another one to fill in some other bare spots.


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Sunday, October 8, 2017

Something different, Butterick 5861 top in poly chiffon

Every once in a while I try to step out of my style rut. It could be trying a new silhouette, sometimes it means sewing up a different color than I would normally wear, or even a different fabric than I typically use. This blouse seems to fit into all 3 of those categories, as it is definitely a new shape, in a new-to-me shade, and a fabric I haven't sewn with in quite a while.


bow blouse 1a

I made this pattern a few months ago for someone else, and after I finished it I gave it a quick try-on just to see how it looked. Kind of interesting, was my initial reaction so I make some copies of the pattern, gave the original back to the owner and set it aside with the intention of finding some nice silk. However one day I was at Stone Mountain and found this polyester fabric in their upstairs bargain section, so for about $ 7 I figured it was worth a try. Since I wasn't entirely sold on the actual pattern. While I suppose it is a blue, it is an awfully tepid shade, I see it as grey. Although friend came over and saw it on the dress form, and said "I love that shade of teal blue". So I guess it is in the eye of the beholder what color things appear.

A better look at it on the dress form. This fabric is on the sheer side, not see-through but more like chiffon than not. You can see where the layer is doubled, at the shoulder yoke and down the front button bands where it's more opaque.


bow blouse front on form

And this pattern has a lot of details. A surprising lot of details but that's what made it interesting to sew, and I think makes it look appealing when worn. It has raglan sleeves that attach into shoulder yokes, a button band which has a slight angle right at the top to create that V opening. And then there is the pleating. All those tiny pleats. Which are also on a slight angle, not straight lines. QUITE a task to sew and don't look to closely. Not exactly precisely even but I don't think anyone will ever notice.

And then the back has some gathers at the neckline, and then a section at the center back where you stitch with elastic thread to create the ruching, plus it has vertical darts. Like I said, a lot of details. Which perhaps would show better in a solid color fabric but I think a print makes it easier to sew the little pleats in the front.

bow blouse back view on form


Butterick 5861 envelope

Here's the pattern envelope. I think it is a few years old - maybe even 4 or 5 but fits into that boho style that is trending now.  I didn't copy the other version, it looks a bit shapeless for my taste and has that elastic stitching on the sleeves instead of the flat yoke pieces.

Speaking of shapeless, I sewed this a few months ago, and have worn it once but it felt so loose and too blousey on me. The other day I tried it on again and decided to take it in all along the side seams up to part of the sleeve. So I took out a seam about 1 inch wide on each side, tapering away to the middle of the seam under the sleeve. Much better, that raised the armhole considerable, and took out a total of about 4 inches in circumference.

bow blouse back

bow blouse 5

So now it's still loose and flowy but I don't feel like I'm swimming in it. And I made a size 12 with no adjustments, my usual size so it really is a loose style to start with.

bow blouse front close up on form

There's a look at all those little pleats down the front. They came out a bit wobbly on each version I have sewn, one in polyester and one in silk chiffon which I forgot to photograph. But that silk one was a challenge, although it came out nicely in the end.

bow blouse6

This is my go-to outfit when the weather cools off. A t-shirt or a top, some ankle length pants or jeans and loafers. Not quite dressing for autumn but in the evenings it is getting cooler. Ok we're still wearing shorts and sandals in the day so I can't complain. Ooo I don't like it when it starts getting dark early.

So that's I have to say about this blouse, still not wild about it but perhaps now that I took it in I will like it more. To me the color is a bit drab, and the print/color/fabric combo are kind of geriatric to me.
Also the neckline is just suited for this time of year, in about 3 weeks I will be wearing sweaters and lots of layers. Perhaps it is my short haircut but my neck is always cold once summer fades.

Onward to the next thing. I am sewing up the Waffle Patterns Bamboo coat that I started for my Jacket class at a very leisurely pace, which is rather pleasant. We have another session of that class scheduled for Sat/Sun Dec 16-17. Maybe for that one I will make the one of the other patterns for one of the owners of the studio. Because I don't need any more coats! Although I will have another gorgeous coat in the works before this year ends - a little hint - my favorite European Indie designer has created another gorgeous one so I plan to sew that up for a friend.

I saw on IG that Stone Mountain just got in a shipment of interesting printed silks so I think I will pop over there this week and check it out.  Other than that I plan to make some new long sleeve tees and maybe a new dress before the holidays.

This is the time of year to stay out of the chain fabric stores - the once a year Halloween costume sewers are in full force and while I have some pity for them I don't want to be in line behind them at the cutting table :)

Happy October Sewing, Beth

The garden is looking very crispy and uninteresting this time of year, however it was a great year for all my annuals, lots of blooms and this white petunia is still pushing out all kind of flowers. It's visible next to my feet in the pictures above. Some years the petunias are better than others and this year was a good one. Unlike the tomatoes - everyone had trouble with those but that is a story for another time.

IMG_3128




Thursday, October 5, 2017

Giveaway winners and some questions answered

Thank you all for telling me what is the sewing step that you dread. It's really helpful to hear about which techniques cause trepidation. In fact in my sewing class last weekend we did a bit of sample sewing on scraps which always helps to get familiar with the technique on the specific fabric.

From the comments I see that the common feature among them is things that are front and center of a garment - with the top 3 being these
  1. Buttonholes
  2. V-necks in knit and woven (I will agree, this is a tricky thing that take some practice)
  3. Collars, collar bands, buttonholes in the collar band.
I just added a page to my blog with a list and links to all my Craftsy sewing blog posts.  I'm starting to accumulate quite a few step-by-step tutorials there with enough to have subcategories on various topics. So note the link up top Sewing Tutorials on the Craftsy Blog, which will take you to that list. I'll add new ones as they are posted. 

I've written a couple of things about collars with some good photos so I hope those are helpful. As for buttonholes - now I have some ideas for new posts so those will be written in the next few months.

Now for the winners of my little giveaway! Please email me and let me know where send them.

     Denise in Canada - the New Look 6374 pattern

     Lyndle  - a pair of Frixon pens

     Diane Menard  - a pair of Frixon pens

Here's a picture I posted on Instagram after last weekend's jacket making class at Hello Stitch Studio. Kathy (who came up from LA for the weekend class !!) was making a white wool version of a pattern I have made, (my green wool jacket) and it's going to be so pretty. I did a demo of the buttonholes and then she made some practice ones on a scrap (which is a MUST in my view). And good thing - spot the problem.  On the wrong side of the fabric, interfacing up :)  However she got over that practice hurdle and the real ones are a thing of beauty!

buttonhole practice

We have another session of the Jacket Essentials weekend class scheduled for December 16 & 17. 
And a new class, Copying an existing Garment on Dec 2 so that will be fun. I already know what I am going to use for my demonstration item and it will be a treat. Here's a link to all the Garment sewing classes at Hello Stitch Studio.

Speaking of posts on the Craftsy sewing blog, I had two posted this week which might be useful.


princess seam matched up correctly


How to Match Seams up Correctly on a Pattern 
See that little pointy piece sticking out in the armhole? It looks kind of strange but is actually correct...


jeans composite edited

How to turn old Wide-leg jeans into Skinny jeans
Maybe not exactly skinny, but slim legged. I have already operated on all the jeans and pants in my closet that I wanted to convert, so I went to the thrift store in search of some boot-cut jeans. And sometimes you just get lucky because I found this pair of dark denim, in my exact size, with the Macy's store tags still on. Score! and they fit me perfectly. Sometimes when you're not really looking you find the right thing...


What's on my sewing table? I'm finishing up the coat I started for the class which is Waffle patterns Bamboo coat.  There are some things I really like about this pattern and others I'm not too wild for. Such as the welt pockets - to me a very goofy way to do them and I will talk about why in a future post. And I ended up doing them my own way - with good results.

Waffle coat pocket

after that, some shirt making with all the luscious fabrics I bought at Mood last October.

Happy Sewing, Beth

oh the good garden photos are going be a bit sparse going forward, at the end of our dry and crispy summer with nothing blooming for a while. I hope this plant makes it through the winter as the color is so unusual. Nicotiana alana  (lime green). It came from a local nursery, Annie's Annuals which if you are a gardener is a treat. They specialize in California natives and also in the cottage garden style which I love although I am just over the hill and out of the zone where it grows better (closer to all that dampening fog).  Their catalog is really nice to page through and dream....


dahlias etc



Friday, September 29, 2017

A Pattern and marking pens giveaway

Time for a marking pen giveaway, and a pattern giveaway for my Canadian friends!

Let's start with the pattern. I recall reading some time ago that Simplicity and New Look patterns are no longer available in Canada. Is this correct? That seems weird, from a business point of view. Why would they stop?  In any case, you know I really like New Look patterns, and this one is one of my favorites - despite the hideous version on the pattern envelope. Not sure what prompted me to buy it one day but I am glad I did and have used it several times, will certainly more to come.


NL_6374 pattern evn

I found a new copy for 25 cents at a rummage sale so if you are in Canada I want one of you to have this pattern.
Here is the blouse I first made from this pattern. I wear it all the time but that could be due to the luscious floaty silk.

green silk stripe front view



Giveaway # 2:  Frixon marking pens (2 sets)
As I have mentioned previous years there is a very old-timey store in Honolulu (Fisher) that is just shelves and shelves of stationery supplies, office stuff, pens, pencils, notebooks, everything that you could ever think of. And most of it is on the shelf, like the pens. Not in the packages...you can buy just 1 pen! and you can test them out. You can get every color Sharpie marker or 20 of just purple! Is it a bit silly to love office products? I know I am not alone, from the most gorgeous Italian paper and stationery palaces in Italy to the Japanese dollar store in my nearby mall, I love to check out stationery stores and always seem to find something. So now when I go to Fisher I stock up on these Frixon pens.
Which are erasable on paper, and disappear with heat or ironing. Warning - as we have all probably read, the marks can come back in the cold, but come on - for sewing use them for marking INSIDE the seam allowance and you will not have a problem!

pens

So I will give away 2 sets,  a color Frixon pen and something new, a pink highlighter Frixon pen. Which I tried out and is really cool - makes a slightly thicker line and is easy to see.

So, the catch....I would love for you to answer a question. Now that I am teaching classes on a variety of topics I find that the things people want to learn, or fixate on, or can't get the hang of are all over the place. Obviously everyone is different but let me know what you find most challenging when sewing - other than fit. Like what technique is most troublesome and why. What part of the project you fear tackling, or what construction do you avoid because you just can't deal.

Please leave a comment and let me know your sewing dilemma, and then I will draw names sometime next week. Canadians - I might have to do this again with a nice Simplicity coat pattern - there are a lot of good ones and it really boggles my mind that they are not sold there. Plus I am feeling very warmly towards Canada lately, our sensible neighbor to the north.

Thanks to all for reading and commenting - I've been blogging now for seven years and I still really like doing it. I have a lot of sewing in the works for the next few months so stay tuned.

Happy weekend sewing,  Beth

By the way - this weekend I will be teaching my Weekend Jacket Intensive class at Hello Stitch Studio in Berkeley. We're putting another Jacket Weekend on the calendar in December so if you couldn't make this session look out for the next.

For the class I am sewing up some examples, here's what I have started and I am really liking it. The wool fabric is from Stone Mountain. Not sure where this coat will end up, maybe a friend or one of the ladies at the studio might like it - we'll see. Or I could selfishly keep it but I am reaching maximum coat storage around here 😊

Wool tweed Waffle coat fabric



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