Saturday, July 31, 2010

Preparing for ASG Conference Class 'The Little Black Dress'

Deadlines.  It's a word I personally don't use much any more since I haven't worked outside the home in a long time.  But, wow, this year is certainly a year for LOTS of deadlines and no matter how hard I try to stay on top of things, it still leaves me feeling slightly frantic (or should that be frenetic?).

One of those deadlines that's upcoming is preparing for the American Sewing Guild Conference!  Very exciting since I'm sure I won't be going again any time soon.  I chose mostly full day classes since I'd really like to expand my horizons and try things I've never done jeans and bras.  Blessedly, those classes have easy prep--show up with a few items for the most part. 

The only class that has quite a bit of prep beforehand is The Little Black Dress with Susan Khalje.  I'm really anxious excited about it!  We had to choose a pattern for our dress--which I think has been the absolute hardest part!  Pattern selection is usually kinda fun--all fantasy and imagination--which probably explains why I have more patterns than finished products from them!  But choosing THE pattern for a LBD--well.  I guess it's because I want it to be perfect since I know I will have Susan's help getting the muslin to fit just right and it will be a never again repeated opportunity.

So after much agonizing and pouring through the various pattern companies' websites plus the suggestions that Susan sent for patterns, I chose this Butterick 5459:

That would be View C, the middle picture, not the coat views!  I wanted something classic, with a seam at the waist (so I might look like I have a waist), with the waist seam above the waist (so it might actually appear to be smaller), and some darts or princess seams for shaping, but nothing too complicated because then it runs the risk of being trendy.  I also liked Butterick 5396 for all the same reasons I chose B5459, but it came down to a neckline thing--round neck or v-neck?  Although, B5396 does have those nice princess seams in front and back...see?  Who knows?  I might still change my mind!  Once my muslin is cut out and basted together, that will be IT!  No more going back and forth since that muslin has to go to Atlanta with me!

See?  Pattern agonizing is a ton of work.  I'm not generally a waffle-y type of person, but this has been a major piece of indecision for me!  Silly!

Even more silly since I know I'll have plenty of help--I've gotten wonderful, helpful emails from Susan (how does she have time?) about our prep for the class.  And what I learn in fitting this dress, no matter which one it is, I can carry over to future dresses.

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Merry Christmas Tree Skirt

I signed up for a one day sew-in class with our sewing guild.  I've always wanted a Christmas tree skirt and I figured that having an all day class would help get one completed.  Years and years ago, I started a candlewicked one.  Remember that?  Ecru on ecru, using pretty simple stuff like muslin for the fabric.  Anyway, that's sat around as a work in progress but never completed.  It's even survived a dog's gnawing. 

A local lady designed the pattern you see above and instructed the class.  I was a little worried at first since I've NEVER quilted or pieced anything!  (Well, a little crazy patch for a pillow and that floral bag, does that count?)  I went to one of our local quilt shops and got this:


I was truly thankful for the help I received in choosing the fabrics--who knew it was so complicated for quilting?  Movement, no movement, sparkle, no sparkle (that one was easy!  a little sparkle is good), thinking about pattern repeats and how it will look when cut....and the list could go on.

Class day came and it was great!  (Minus the feeling of urgency for these other sewing project deadlines that are looming over my head!  But once I started that evaporated quickly.)  The instructor circulated around the room and I didn't have a bit of trouble with all those log cabin squares.  I got 4 of the ivory/green combo totally completed:

And got the rest started.  Those need to wait for some other project deadlines to be completed first, but I think it will be easy to pick up and start working again.  I hope to be done by Christmas, too!  Wouldn't that be great?  Plus I got a name of a local lady who quilts these for $35!  Seems like a bargain to me and I'll be paying someone else to do that part for sure! 

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Purple Plum Scraps

I left you last with a teaser picture of some of the remaining Purple Plum fabric.  First, I made Simplicity 9958, a simple pair of boxer shorts for dh.  They were quick and easy for the most part.  I had to be careful because of the silk dupioni fabric--all that fraying!  I didn't like the way the crotch seam came together which was a combination of the fabric, trying to make sure all the edges were finished to prevent fraying, and the fly opening transition into the CB seam.  I've heard that Jalie and Kwik Sew have some good boxer shorts patterns, so next time I will try and locate one of those!

Next, my teaser picture showed the Purple Plum fabric being reworked to make a purse!  I mostly made it up as I went along, but had googled free purse patterns and loosely followed Make a Pleated Pouch Bag by Threads Magazine.  It's mostly a rectangle of  fabric with the side seams sewn and boxed.  I lined it which took care of finishing the top, added the ruffled which has raw edges, and added a snap inside of it.

That left me with next to nothing of the lovely Purple Plum fabric!   Nice feeling.  While I was on a roll making purses, I thought the floral dress made using McCall's 6123 needed a matching bag, too.  So I made another one, but quilted it!  I've never quilted anything before and I guess seeing so much quilted stuff around has rubbed off on me.  haha  On the small floral, I followed a white line stopping at each flower hoping  that the flowers would stand out a little bit.  I hardly had any of the large floral left, so I knew I couldn't use it as my main fabric.  It didn't lend itself very well to my geometric, straightline quilting, so instead I tried to pick out white spaces in the flowers and along some of the greenery to quilt.  I think the effect is rather dainty.  If I'd had more time, a few beads would've been lovely on the large floral, too.  No pattern, just sewed the side seams, boxed the bottom and thought it all out as I went along--took a little thought on how to attach the cover but it seemed to work!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Teaser Picture

Here's a teaser picture of a work in progress:

Not sure how well you can see it, but it has 3 sets of 3 pintucks and some swirly stitches from my sewing machine on each side of the pintuck groupings.  More later on!

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Purple Plum -- Simplicity 2497

It's done, it's done!  And I'm excited beyond words about how well it turned out.  I'm sure you've seen Simplicity 2497 on other blogs--I know it caught my eye. 

The pattern was pretty easy--except for that darn ruffle!  I went to extremes and did all the machine basting and handbasted it to the dress, then machine stitched it on.  It meant I had a ton of basting to pick out, but I didn't want to worry about those ruffles shifting while machine stitching it onto the dress.  There's nothing more annoying than having ruffle wrinkles!  When I make it again (and I think I will!  I can see it as the long version in red for Christmas!), I will pull out my ruffler foot and figure out the gathering ratio rather than going through all that machine basting.  I'll confess I've used that ruffler foot a lot lately--I gathered the bottom of the top as well as the skirt on this dress.  The ruffler was handy on McCall 6123, too.  It provides nice stability, no gathers shifting up and down the gathering thread which I like.

Now that you've waded through that paragraph, here's the dress!

I don't think the camera does it justice.  Plus I think it's picked up wrinkles where there aren't any--or maybe it's a poor pressing job.  Anyway, it really is like a Purple Plum--it has that plum color about it but because of the mauve warp, it also has a little bit of the mauve highlight that plums have.  Hence, I named it!  haha!  Some of the other bloggers named theirs, too.  Kinda fun, don't you think?  I had some fabric left, but you'll have to wait until a later post to see what became of it.


-Forward shoulder adjustment
-Slight round back adjustment (dart at shoulder seam)
-Dart at bust (the armhole was gaping and this seemed to fix it!)

Now, onto the real work!  Give me a simple project and I do believe I know how to make extra work out of it!

Other pattern changes:

-FULLY lined! 
-Topstitched neckline prior to putting on ruffle

That's right, I went nuts and fully lined the thing.  That slowed me down quite a bit, but I was a little lazy and used my wavy rotary cutter on the seams to prevent fraying.  The silk dupioni had all seams serged due to its fraying capabilities!  That was the very first step after cutting it out.  Anyway, it feels wonderful to have the Ambiance rayon lining against my skin so I think it was worthwhile. 

No construction photos since I was a woman on a mission!  Don't you love special occasions?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

McCall's 6123 Completed!

I am way behind in posting, but since it's mostly due to sewing that's a good thing!  Here's the McCall 6123 made in quilting cottons:

I love it!  It's a little brighter than I normally wear, but it's very cool and light feeling.  Here are the alterations I made:

-added 5/8" to CF bodice as a full bust adjustment
-darts in the back bodice pieces in the waist since there was way too much fabric
-forward should adjustment

I think that's it on fit adjustments.  They were pretty easy and now I am finally feeling like I know what I need to do to make a pattern fit me.  Having said that, there was still room to take in the side seams, either a lot or a little depending on the wearing ease I wanted, particularly right under the arms.  I've left it as is for the present because I don't want a form fitting dress for the hot summer!  I might go back later and take in the side seam under the arm because that is big which you can see a little in the picture.

Other pattern changes:

-contrast strips sewn on differently
-bottom small floral for the back was cut as one piece, rather than with a center seam
-used flat construction rather than in the round
-fully lined in cotton batiste

For the contrast strips, the pattern direction you to press up 3/8" on one long side, then sew the other unfinished long side into the seam, topstitch and edgestitch.  I hate measuring such long strips and burning my fingers while pressing them up.  I'm not too keen on all that topstitching and edgestitching either, so I changed that part.  Instead I checked the finished width on the contrast, doubled it, and added seam allowances and cut them out.  Then I folded narrow sides in half, pressed them and stitched the raw edges directly into the seams, leaving the folded edge free like this:

I'm using the stick to hold up the folded edge here so you can see that it's not stitched down.  Doubling the contrast adds a little more bulk to the seams, but I serged them all and they seem fine.  Plus the trade off in a little bulk versus all that measuring, pressing and topstitching was worth it!  I did topstitch above the contrast to anchor the serged seam which I'm not sure you can see well in the picture.
Now, for a little surprise!  So my heirloom sewing skills wouldn't get rusty, I added this to the bottom of the lining:

It's a Swiss embroidery with entredeux on either side, attached on one side to the cotton batiste and to some French cotton lace on the other.  Kinda fun and like a pretty slip underneath, isn't it? 

I am very pleased w/ the dress--no hemming, either on the dress itself (the green contrast took care of that) or the lining (the mini fancy band).  I've always dreaded zippers but had to install an invisible zipper for the first time last year.  It wasn't as bad as I thought and now I think I love them!  The internet really helps a lot!  I looked up invisible zippers and am so grateful for the tutorials I've found in various places.  I even got the back of this dress all matched up at the waist, using a technique I read about in a fairly recent Threads magazine issue:

And if you'll look below the waist, you'll see that I matched the pattern of the center back seam of the large floral all the way down to the small floral band at the bottom!  The small floral band at the bottom was cut as one piece, rather than two.  Not sure why now, but it made sense when I did it.

I have more projects to show, but that will have to wait until another time!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

It came!

Well, I am so excited that the fabrics I ordered for the Simplicity 2497 dress came AND that they're beautiful!  Living in an area devoid of fabric shopping, except for quilt shops and Joann's, makes mail order the way to go...sorta.  I mean, you really don't know what you're getting until you get it or want to buy a swatch (or get the swatch and the sale is over or get the swatch and the fabric is sold out!). 

Anyway, I ordered from Vogue Fabrics this time.  I seem to be trying out as many places as possible.  I bought silk dupioni.  It's called 'Risk' which is totally unhelpful.  The web site says it is "...Woven with a mauve warp & a denim-blue weft."  The picture looked good and it was a choice between this and another purpley looking one whose coordinating Ambiance lining seemed to be out of stock or an aqua (one of my favorite colors, but maybe a little too light and bright for evening wear--who am I kidding?  It would not matter since I just ordered a deep lavender/periwinkle!)

I think this is darker in real life, but I really like it!  yippee!  And it is so much heavier than what I was seeing at Joann's.  I almost broke down and bought one of their limited selection of silk dupioni--white, black, reddish, or brown.  Glad I didn't.  This is so much nicer and I have some nice Ambiance lining to coordinate. 

I needed some rayon for one of the classes at the sewing guild's national conference, so I bought this:

I think it's darker than the picture, too.  Even better though, I love it!  I only need a little bit of it for the class and I can see a blouse or casual shirt using the rest of it.  Good weight and very soft!  $2.99/yard which made it even better!

The quest for fabric for Simplicity 2497 is over, so I had best finish up the floral A-line dress, McCall 6123, so I can get busy on that great silk!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

McCall's 6123

While I'm waiting for the fabric for Simplicity 2497, I decided to go on and start McCall's 6123.  I already had the fashion fabric for it:

Pardon the wrinkles, that's the next step!  The picture doesn't have the colors quite right either.  These are quilting cottons from one of our local quilt shops, about the only fabric shopping left in my area besides Joann's.  I'm making View D, the dress in the center right.  Here's the pattern:

I decided to tissue fit this one.  Pretty straightforward adjustments:  adding 1/2" to the center front when it's cut on the fold rather than a FBA (per the pattern since the center is gathered), a dart in each side of the back bodice at the waist (there was a ton of fabric back there!), and a slight straightening of the CB curve in the bodice.  That last was causing the neckline to gap slightly away from the back of my neck and since I don't usually need a high round back adjustment, this should work.  That center back seam was really curved.  I didn't need a forward shoulder adjustment though according to the tissue fit and once I basted the seams and tried it on, yes, I did need that.  So, I'll try and adjust that as much as possible w/ the seam allowance I have.  In any event, it will fit a lot better than RTW!  Adding that extra 1/2" to the CF and with all those gathers looks like an extra boob...I'm hoping the weight of the skirt plus lining the bodice will help that since it's certainly very undesirable!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Small Update

First, our local sewing guild's blanket community service project, has resulted in almost 200 hundred completed blankets, with another bunch cut out and ready to finish so we're nearly halfway to the goal of 500.  Here are some finished blankets from the sew-in:

I think youngest dd takes pretty good pictures considering her age and that she had never taken a picture before!  She came and helped, doing odds and ends like picking up scraps from cutting and folding completed blankets.  Oldest dd helped as well, working mostly at cutting out blankets--lots of them.  She also got to use a serger for the first time!  Fun!

DH has enjoyed the new sewing machine and has already completed an apron for himself on it.  I'll have to get a picture of him wearing it.  He's also stitched up a dog bed, but still needs to do the cover for it.  One of us had to do something with the enormous bag of stuffing we bought!

And there was MORE!  This is after stuffing one rather large dog bed!  It's really soft and fluffy, not like regular polyfill.  We should get a few more dogs beds out of it, don't you think?  This picture really doesn't do the bag size justice!