Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Goes out with a wimper

I'm one of those never say never people. I know dolman sleeves and I really shouldn't be friends, but I like to keep an open mind. I mean, this one even has bust darts!

And look at those darts on the back:  there's a horizontal fish-eye dart meeting a centered vertical dart. I have never seen anything like that before. I have a beautiful sheer piece of silk chiffon I thought would be suitable for this. I decided to make a muslin first out of the most fiddly, shifty fabric ever made. Obviously, there were issues with the hem. You know that old carpenter's adage: "I cut it off twice and its still too short"?, well I evened it up twice and its still crooked. 

I blame this failure completely on poor fabric and poorer fabric selection. I am going to take another stab at it, but not yet with my good chiffon!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Burda 7700--with a warm body in it

Burda 7700
 I got around to modeling and taking photos of the finished Burda 7700 vest. For a change, I didn't need to use a flash because all the snow piled up outside my house really reflects the light so nicely. Thanks, snow!!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Made It!

I finished the other vest from Burda 7700. Isn't the fabric kind of "Grinchy"? I got it a couple years ago for my birthday, in July, from IKEA. I just love it! On this one, I incorporated a buttonhole into the collar seam. The button is vintage. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Burda 7700- the muslin

I have admired this pattern from afar for a while and recently picked it up on sale. I planned to make it into a vest. Fortunately, I looked it up on Pattern Review before I started. This pattern is HUGE! It doesn't really look like it on the envelope, except view D, but this thing's got ten big inches of ease in the bust!
I don't really like to swim in my clothes, so I started with a size 12 and folded out .75 inches on the front and back pattern pieces (for a total of 3 inches smaller than size twelve). Its still a bit big. Next time I'm taking out a full inch (for 4 inches below size 12). I also added a diagonal dart from below the bust toward the hip.
Like most vests, I had significant gaping at the armhole so I put a dart in there, too. But, for the next version, I have rotated the armscye dart into the other dart.
I'm also making the collar half and inch shorter and the shoulders a bit narrower.
I'm pretty happy with how this muslin turned out, even though I found a moth hole in the fabric after I was finished with it, because I'm making the next one with one of my absolute favorite pieces of fabric from my stash. I hope it turns out well.


Out on a limb with Mc Calls 6607

I don't know what possessed me to get this pattern. It's not a style I've ever even considered before. I think I'm too short for tunics and too busty for big low drapey cowls, but I saw the pictures of Margy's and I had the right fabric and perhaps I just wanted to try something different for a change, so I gave it a whirl.
I kind of like it. Its really quick and easy. The pattern envelope says it very-loose fitting and it is. I cut out a 16, but took in the side seams a lot. Next time I would start with a 12. The armholes are way too low for me (the fabric pulls forward towards the bust). I also took out some of the width in the hips. If the right fabric crosses my path, I will make it again.
Deep armhole

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The skirt version of Katherine Tilton's V8837

This skirt is the red headed stepchild to the Vogue 8837 pants. You can see my photos don't tell you anything more about this skirt than the photos on the pattern envelope!

I do like the skirt and will likely make it again. The fabic is a black and grey houndstooth knit. I had a yard and a half, but it was only 45 inches wide, and really couln't figure out what to do with it.  Turns out, It was exactly the right amout to make this skirt--after I shortened it 6 inches!
There are a some things I'll change next time:
I would eliminate the seam in the center front and center back lower panels.
I should have shortened the top yoke part, too
The pattern instructs you to clip the front skirt piece, which is totally unnecessary. The fronts are lapped and stiched over the backs.
Making it in a solid would show off the twin needle topstitching better.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Designer III challenge

This skirt was made for a challenge from the Designer III sewing group I belong to. The challenge was to create a color palette from a photo supplied by the "Challenger". The "Chalengees" could make anything we wanted. This is a basic pull on knit skirt in a grey ponte. I used the antique ruffler attachment from my old Singer machine to gather strips of the ponte. I added a narrow strip of black double knit to cover the gathered edges of the ruffles. Then I used one of the fancy stitches on my machine to sew down the black strips using cream, khaki and orange thread. Then the teal strip was added and sewed down with black.
I really, really like how this turned out.

We also had a gift exchange: we had to make something decorative and functional for the sewing room. I macramed this lanyard for a Clover thread cutter. I keep one tied to my ironing board for those pesky uncut threads that are always popping up.

Wearing it with sweatpants didn't help!

It turns out I don't hate my Tribal Coat as much as I though I did. I think rushing to finish it may have made me overly crabby. Its just okay, though, not great. Plus, I had only seen it worn with sweatpants and sneakers while I was working on it. It's Burda 7497. I took out 4 of the 6 pleats on the back and left off the bow. I think it was looking like a Lucille Ball maternity top on backwards!
The hem pulls up a bit on the left side, but it does have some excellent welt pockets.
I will wear it, but I don't think I'll be making this pattern up again.
I have already moved on!! 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A sort of Pyrrhic victory

I finally finished my tribal fabric coat and while I am happy with the welt pockets I find the rest of the garment lacking. I hate that it didn't live up to my high hopes and that it took up so much of my, lately, very precious time. More later.

Monday, November 19, 2012

99 Welts

When I started this blog, I thought of a bunch of cool names for it. But they were all taken. So I thought up a lame name instead. Then I remembered something from my childhood. 99 Welts. Wouldn't that be a great name for a blog?
To explain: my dear Aunt Kate (actually my Great Aunt) lived in a garage apartment that you had to access from the alley. The next street over was Welts Street and the neighbors across the alley lived at number 99. Whenever we'd go to Aunt Kate's we'd see the neighbors garbage cans in the alley which had their address, 99 Welts, badly spray painted on. I remember always thinking how that address seemed so enigmatic.
To explain further: I have been working on my Tribal fabric coat. Last night I made 2 sample double welt pockets out of scrap fabric and this morning I made two more for real. Unlike the last time I tried, I can get my hands inside!! While I am quite comfortable making the welts, I really have to think hard about how to attach the lining and the pocket bags. Of course Burda's directions didn't exactly clarify the process. Its one of those things I would like to have the confidence to do without thinking twice about. Maybe it will take 99 Welts!
Four down, 95 to go!

Welt #4
The pattern

Monday, November 12, 2012

My Tribe

My grandmother, Emma, raised me. She was born in the Old Country, Russia, but was really German. We are what's known as Volgadeutche. Catherine the Great offered us free land, autonomy and freedom from serving in the army in Czarist Russia. So we left Germany around 1760 for the lower Volga region of Russia. We were a nice little colony of farmers there. I wish I could travel back there. Eventually, Russia became a not so nice place for us Germans so we came here to the U.S. in 1913. What was left of the colonies was completely wiped out by a pogrom in Stalins' time. Being apart from the rest of Germany for so long, our German language was quite different from other Germans. Here in the U.S. other German-Americans didn't think of us as true Germans and, of course, we aren't Russians either.
Then, when I saw this fabric I was drawn to it like sauer to kraut!! Could it be the long lost indigenous tribal print of my people? I'm going to say yes!!   

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Three spools of thread later...

I finished sewing the last two inches of Simplicity 2560 last night.

I used a decorative stitch to do the topstitching. I like how it turned out, but, boy, did it eat up the thread!! I believe this may actually be the first time I have used one of the fancy stitches on my machine.

I've used this fabric quite a few times and really like it. It's Sophia double knit from I did not see it on their site the last time I ordered from them, but I did see it at Vogue in Chicago a couple of months ago. It's what I make the skirts from that I wear all the time. 

The pattern was right out of the envelope and although I originally intended to make it with sleeves I didn't have enough fabric. I'm wearing it over Kwiksew 3658.

The fancy stitching

The back. The gathering extends to the side.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What I learned at the Mall

Clothes are really expensive there. I have saved myself a bundle.
I really didn't see anything that special. Maybe that was because I was crabby and had a headache.
Big low dolman sleeves don't look good on me. I already knew that, though.
There are two kind of boots. Ugly mannish boots and Hooker boots.

The one inspiration I did come away with was this: Tribal Prints.

This image is from an article and slide show called The Strange History of the Indian Trade Blanket that ran on in July, 2011.  I have not stopped thinking about it since I first saw it. I have the perfect fabric for it. It will be my next project!!

In the meantime, I ran out of thread to finish my current project yesterday. So off to JoAnn's. I got up this morning to finish it and guess what? I had two inches to go and I ran out again!!
My husband observed that when he's working on a project around the house and has to go back to Home Depot, its like going to hell for him, but when I run out of something and have to go back to JoAnn's it like going to heaven for me! I suppose it is mostly true, huh?

Monday, November 5, 2012


I have Seasonal Affective Disorder and my clothes do too. I do not like this time of year. The cold and the darkness. The long sleeves and the stockings. Every year, switching my summer and winter clothes makes me sad. So, today I am going to go shopping. At an actual retail store. I'm not really planning on buying much, but more looking for inspiration.
Things are looking up a little, I did get a couple of cute sweaters at the thrift store this weekend.  And I have been doing some sewing, mostly in the utility vein. I made two tops from one of my TNT patterns, Kwiksew 3658. This print ITY came from Field's in Grand Rapids. The other one is a solid dark brown jersey.

I also made two more skirts from Butterick 5539. One is some funky double knit from the 70s I got from the free table at one of my sewing groups. I really don't see getting a whole lot of wear from this one!!

The other one is this really interesting knit fabric I've had in my stash quite a while. It looks almost like a short pile fur. I really like this one!

I made another pair of pants from Butterick 5539, too.

I do have a new pattern I'm working on that should get me out of my current malaise!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A dumb story about a dumb girl*

I came home last night to find my daughter working on her holloween costume. She tells me my sewing machine is "chewing her fabric up" and also, that the stich selector lights are no longer working. Neither is the needle up/down button. Fantastic, right? Well, I cannot be without my machine, so I dutifully packed it up and took it into the shop. The nice man plugs it in, then tells me to close my eyes, snaps his fingers and fixes it in about two seconds!! Miss J had left the bobbin winder in the bobbin winding position. I really had no idea this would render all the electronics in the machine inoperable. I have had this machine almost ten years and this issue has never come up before because when I'm done winding a bobbin I take the bobbin off the little spindle and you have to move the spindle back into the neutral position to get the bobbin off!!!
I really don't need to know the explanation for the fabric chewing.

*I am being careful to not identify the dumb girl as either Miss J or myself!!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

R.I.P. Vogue 2232

We had our struggles, didn't we? I tried to make it work, but your personal demons often rebuffed me. I'm sorry to say I was relieved when I put you in the garbage can.  I hope you are at peace now.  I am, but I will never get that week or that two and a half yards of fabric back. Time to move on.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Pants? Really?

I don't really wear pants much. But I do play racquetball once or twice a week and I try to get to the gym when I can. For the gym you need pants.

Judging by these pictures, I've obviously been spending too much time at the sewing machine
 and not enough time at the gym.

It just kills me to pay 30 bucks for a lousy pair of stretch pants just to sweat in. Plus, they never fit me right: the hips, thighs and butt are always too big. I've only ever sewn a few pants patterns before, but I figured  even I could handle sweats.

I already had this pattern-- Butterick 5539--I've made the skirt at least a dozen times, so I knew to start with a size 12.

I read the reviews on PR and some reviewers noted that view B and C indicated that they sit 1 inch below the waistline. Which is a bit strange for elastic waist pants. At least I think so. Of course we've all seen some girls "sagging" their sweats, but I just don't think its practical for exercising!

So added 1 inch to the top of the waist, even though I'm not quite 5 feet tall. I'm glad I did, though, because they did need it. I also shortened them about 5 and a half inches and shaved a half inch of the inside back leg from the crotch tapering down to nothing at the knee. This is the flat butt adjustment & the absolute only thing I know about pants alteration! I made both the straight leg (C) and the tapered leg (B). Last night I thought I liked the tapered leg, but in the light of day, I don't. The camera and "What Not to Wear" don't lie! Tapered legs are not good, but both are good enough to sweat in!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The last sleeveless blouse of summer

Its a pity, because I like it alot. I will certainly be returning to this one in the spring. Who knows, maybe I'll make some sleeves for it before then. The pattern is Textile Studio's Monaco Shell. I was pleasantly suprised that the neckline didn't turn out as high as it looks on the envelope and though the straps are narrow they ended up in exactly the right palce for me.

The pattern is really super quick to make and I like that too! I made a size medium and added 2 inches at the bust with an standard FBA then eased the difference in the side seam at bust level instead of sewing it into a dart. I cut an extra half inch insurance on the side seams but only used a quarter inch and really don't think I needed that either. I didn't shorten it but will next time. I used steam-a-seam and a twin needle on the armhole edges and hem. The neck facings are simple stitched-in-the-ditch at the centers and shoulders.
The one really strange thing is that the pattern instructions direct you to finish all the raw edges before construction. I guess that was some ol' timey fear of raveling people had back when they first got knit fabrics to work with!!!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Meet the newest Geraldines

I watched a lot of Turner Classic Movies, made a big mess of the sewing room and made two new Geraldines. More about these later.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fast food of sewing

You know how sometimes you're hungry and you just need to eat something fast and you don't care if its good for you or not?  Well, sometime you want to sew something fast and you don't care if your daughter is chagrinned by your 'thing' for velvet. You just do it.
I have been a bit under the weather, so I decided a nice sweater would be in order. This is one of the fabrics I got in the cheap room at Vogue when I was there last month. Its a printed stretch velvet. It's very fluid. I've made this a pattern a few times before, the first time in a woven (which is what the pattern calls for) and really didn't like it. Then I started seeing these sweaters all over the place with these long drapes in the front and thought back to this pattern. When I made it up in a knit I liked it much better.
Its pretty quick to make. The four corners are mitred and the edges stiched down. The thing that takes the most time is applying the steam-a-seam and pressing the seams under.

It has a interesting skirt to it. I should make it someday. I could wear it with the purple printed velvet jacket I have in my closet that my daughter finds so mortifying.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Its insane how fast you can make this dress!

I made another Vogue 1250. In about an hour and a half!

Annie's modeling the new one. I did make a couple of changes to the pattern. Actually, a few. After reading the many reviews on pattern review, I built up the underarm opening and the inside of the cowl, pretty much according to the Sewing Lawyer's instructions. I shortened the back bodice piece by an inch on the first one, then by another .75" on the second one. I shortened the skirt only an inch ( I'm not quite five feet tall, so I imagine it'd be too short for some people). I cut a size 14. And I did an FBA:  but with the hinge burried in the shoulder tuck and the "dart" in the sleeve.
But since I wasn't actually going to sew the dart and because I didn't want to increase the front armhole, I just overlapped it and closed it up:

What a great pattern!! But for now, I'll put it away until spring.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

I fought the Tribeca shirt and I won!

This is the second time I've been in the ring with this pattern. The first time I tried it was with a lightweight linen and that collar just went limp. So I threw in the towel. I guess I'm impatient or something, but one thing I can tell you, I have no UFO's. If something's not working out, I will not let it hang around in my sewing room trash talking me. Out it goes!

Then sometimes I have a change of heart. I bought the pattern again years later because I just loved the darts on it.
I figured I could make a facing for it that would solve that limp collar problem. (The pattern doesn't have facings--the edges are just turned under). Well, that didn't look right either. The facing did make the collar stand up, but it also made my bust look like the entire Northern Hemisphere.
Now, I do have another jacket with a funnel neck I like. The difference is that the collar on that one is open at the top. So I cut a triangular wedge off the front edge of the collar. Voila! It's not perfect, but for a wearable muslin it's not bad.


close up of fabric
In addition to changing the collar, I also did an FBA and shortened it about 2 inches. I cut a size medium which was too big. Since I put a facing on it I didn't do the buutonhole patches. The fabric was from the clearance home-dec table at JoAnns. I cut the buttons off of something back in the eighties.

There will be another rematch!