Monday, April 27, 2015

Happy Pants

I do not shop retail much and I don't wear pants much, but last fall I bought a pair of Pixie pants from Old Navy. Mostly pants look like jodhpurs on me, but these Pixies fit really well  The wise Sewalatte complimented me on them and suggested I copy them.

So I busted out my TNT pants pattern. (listen to me...trying to sound all experienced making pants...its my only pants pattern)

I had already made my no butt, no hips, no thighs adjustments the last time I used the pattern (V1294):
  • Fold out the back dart all the way down to the hem
  • Shave 5/8 inch off the back inseam, tapering to nothing at the knee
  • Shorten the rise
The Pixie pants are slim legged and cropped (though not on me!), so I narrowed the pattern from the knees down.

Here's how they turned out:

Not bad, I thought, until I saw the back!! They are really comfy (the fabric has some spandex in it) and I'll probably wear them anyway. Because they're orange. If the right rainy day comes along, I may even take them apart and work on them a bit more.

In the meantime, I made a couple more changes to the pattern:
  • Added back some of the rise (the orange ones feel too low at the back waist)
  • Shaved off 3/8 inch from the front inseam, tapering to nothing at the knee
OMG!!! I feel like taking that little bit off the front inseam made a such a huge difference.

Now I have two pairs of pants that fit me well. And I'm proud to say I made one of them. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Nice to meet you, Mr. Mrak.

This project has been a long time in the making. It began many years ago when my friend Nina D. gave me this Magic-Fit kit. It came with a nice styling ruler that I use all the time. While I had only glanced at the booklet, I couldn't get the hairy hands of the handsome Mr. Mrak totally out of my mind. I had never delved completely into the box's magical mysteries. It was time to let Mr. Mrak out of the box.

Dusan, you beast!

The handy ruler with the handy slots for adding a 5/8 s.a.

I wish I could always have him by my side. (In the sewing room)

His system is a connect the dots approach to creating a fitted sheath dress. You take about a dozen measurements (which I did by myself-so pretty easy to do), locate the dots that correspond to your bust size, connect the upper body darts, slide the pattern to position the waist and hip, then connect the rest of the dots.

There is separate template to create the bust dart. I had a screaming headache the day I did this, so I was sure I misunderstood and had done it wrong.

I proceeded to make a muslin and, low and behold, it was actually not bad. Not perfect, but not bad. I had to tweak the princess dart in the front (made it shorter and deeper under the bust), the princess dart in the back (made the upper part of the dart longer) and made the shoulders narrower. Then it fit pretty well. The neckline was lowered also because I put the zipper in the side seam and it wouldn't go over my head otherwise. 

This system will not create a fitting shell-it has some ease built into it-but instead a fitted sheath dress. The dress has nice high armscyes, fairly narrow sleeves with an elbow dart and a shoulder dart, which I think are all really helpful for making a nice fitting garment for a large busted, small framed person such as myself. Now, I probably won't wear this dress much, but I do hope the pattern will be useful for comparing to commercial patterns.

Once the sheath is drafted, the booklet details how to use it to draft other styles, such as an A-line dress, princess seam sheath, jacket, coat and tunic. Emboldened, I decided to make a jacket. I also made a dumb mistake. I forgot to raise the neckline back up, so when I drafted the collar (with the help of Ms. Armstrong) the neckline is too low for the collar to roll or sit properly. I'm pretty happy with the general fit of the jacket, although the  shitty collar makes it unwearable.  I'm envisioning longer version of the jacket with a mandarin collar.

Even though I got a dress I'm not likely to wear much, and a jacket destined for the trash, I consider the learning part of this whole enterprise to be a resounding success.

So, thanks, Mr. Mrak. It was a pleasure.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


Many years ago, I saw a very elegant Frenchwoman demonstrating Colorhue dyes at a sewing expo. She was wearing a beautiful scarf that was simply a piece of dyed rayon lace and, her being a very elegant Frenchwoman, it looked simple and effortless on her. Who doesn't want that?

I finally got around to making my own version. I started by soaking a piece of lace from my stash in warm water.  I covered my work surface with plastic, then sponged the dye straight from the bottle on the wet lace. I used the goldenrod and brown dyes, but the brown looks more like indigo once it dried.  I had used this dye once before on the trim for this robe and it turned out a much deeper color, so I think this particular lace may have some poly in it.  These dyes are really nice to work with because there's no mixing, heat setting or foul odors.

Once it was dry, I sewed two rows of beads along the length of it. I think I would have preferred smaller, more sparkly beads but these purple-brown and gold beads were the only ones I had that went with the finished color.

I am not a very elegant Frenchwoman, but I do have a pretty cool scarf-neck-lace.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Goodbye, Whales

The finished whales all ready to go to the baby shower and their new homes. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Enough already!

The sewing room is back in order and even better than before. I went all Marie Kondo on it!
If you don't know who Marie is, you should!!! I gave her book to my daughter and it changed her life (her closet, anyway).

I got rid of a few books and reorganized the rest by subject.

I hung all my Threads magazines by their spines over hanging file folders in my file cabinet. Threads is the only magazine I keep after I have read it. If I know I'm going to have some time to kill somewhere I'll take an old Threads with me and I can guarantee I will see something new even though I've already read the magazine once or even twice before. Storing them like this is nice too because you can easily read the contents on the spines.

And I took out all my fabric friends, we snuggled a bit, then I refolded them so they are upright in the drawers.  A piece of fabric may be neatly removed by sliding two file folders on either side of the target. No more rooting around in tangled nasty piles.

I know I am in the minority here, but I never work on more than one project at a time and I usually tidy up between projects. Plus, if a project goes south, I put it out of my mind and my sewing room right away and just move on.

Am I the only sewer who doesn't believe in UFOs?

Saturday, March 7, 2015

My Inglorious Sewing Room

Carolyn over at Diary of a Sewing Fanatic has an interesting conversation going this morning about sewing rooms, so I thought I'd show you some pictures of mine. It doesn't usually look like this. These were taken shortly after the beginning of the installation of my new furnace earlier this week. My sewing room had to be hastily dismantled in order to get to the old furnace and make way for the new. What a mess!!

My fabric hoard (on the left) would just about fit in the box
 the furnace came in. That's a smaller than average
hoard, don't you think?

The new furnace next to my main worktable, along with
my regular machine and serger. Drawers under this table
contain notions and such.

Not so subtle product placement for Haberman Fabrics,
next to sheet metal pliers and whatever that other thing is.

Sawzall and sewing machine foot controller peacefully coexisting

One of two file cabinet that house my patterns
along with parts of the bookcases.
I've had to channel my energy elsewhere this week. My husband and I are going to spend the day today (or the whole weekend) putting the room back together. Looking on the bright side, I'm grateful it wasn't a flood at least. And it will give me an opportunity to thin things out a bit. Less clutter equals a quieter mind!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


They're a thing.  I made these for the challenge based sewing club of which I'm a member. Except I wasn't actually at the meeting to learn how to make them. So I had to rely on the internet for my instructions.


The top series is called "Boston" and the bottom "Detroit". I was watching reporting of the Boston weather while doing the collaged part. The mayor of Boston was telling its' citizens to stop jumping out of second story windows into snow drifts because it was dangerous! We got a lot of snow here in Detroit this winter, but I don't think I'd try that stunt.


This is the collage I started with:

Some of the fabric is from the whales, some is the binding from the pike, some is from the collaged coat from last summer plus there's some Chinese machine made Battenberg lace in there. So cool, no spendature!! They're secured to the background fabric with Wonder Under and Stitch Witchery. There's is a layer of heavy Pellon inside and another piece of a men's shirt on the back.

After I got it all fused together I free motion stitched it. I was happy that I seemed to be getting the hang of it finally, then I looked at the wrong side and the thread was all loopy. I felt loopy when I saw that. Please don't look at the back!

After the stitching is done they get cut into strips. With a rotary cutter. I hate rotary cutters. I think because I'm short I don't have enough leverage.

The next step was to do a satin stitch along the long edges. That's when my daughter came in and asked "don't you have a machine whose job it is the finish the edges of things like that?" So I slapped myself in the head and moved over to the serger! After that they get cut into squares and the short edges finished. That was a bit harder with the serger. Some aren't quite square, so sue me.

Once that's done you get to embellish them with whatever bits of ephemera you might have. I have a lot! Never before has so much effort gone into such a one inch sewing project.

The final part of the challenge is to incorporate them into another project. I don't have any ideas yet...