31 July 2007

Sewing Brocade

In the comments to my previous post, I was asked about special tips on sewing brocade. I really don't have any magical tidbits. I used an 80/12 universal needle (as this was a heavy brocade) with plain old Gutterman thread and a straight stitch length of 2.0 mm. The only words of caution I can offer are: make a muslin of your garment first. You want to know that all the fitting tweaks have been made prior to sewing up your brocade. Taking in seams is okay, taking out seams is not. This fabric has a long memory - once a needle has pierced it, this fabric will always show the holes. If the project is particularly special to you, you may want to even confine pinning to the seam allowance. Also, be sure that you use burr-free pins and needles, as this fabric can snag fairly easily.

Writing this made me think about a few of the gorgeous brocades at Thai Silks. I prefer the silk/rayon brocades to any of the yucky polyester ones. So, for your viewing pleasure, here are some of my major picks:

I really want one of these fabrics to make the pattern below. I'm really partial to the second one at the top. C'mon Thai Silks, it's time to put that one on sale!

30 July 2007

A Formal Affair - Part 2

Yesterday, I started talking about my black brocade party dress. After altering the pattern to get the back scoop that I desired, I cut it out and sewed it up. The only thing I did different this time was sewed slightly smaller seam allowances (1/2" instead of 5/8"). The other times I have made this dress, I used stretch cottons and the brocade for this dress has no give, so slightly smaller seams seemed prudent. Here is the result:

Remember, this dress was to be my muslin. However, I liked it so much, I decided to wear it to the party. Also, I could not find the right fabrics to recreate the inspiration dress. Now, if I ever find just the right lace, I am all set.

A bit about the party. As I said, it was a 18th birthday/debut party for a student that I taught this past semester. I knew the party was to be formal, but, dang, was it ever amazing! There were 416 people in attendance. The young lady entered, flanked by friends and family holding candles, and then performed a waltz with her boyfriend to start the evening. There was hors d'oeuvres, a 6 course meal, dessert and a massive dessert table later in the evening. The birthday girl, her cousins and her friends from school put on a show that lasted around an hour. It was like a Broadway show - there was singing and dancing, all in different costumes for each number - it was phenomenal. The kids worked for a year to put this together.

I can't even begin to imagine how much this whole event cost her parents. From what I was told, this is a major rite of passage in a Filipino girl's life and often the girl's parents will start saving for this event on the day she is born. My student looked like a beautiful princess (she had 2 different outfits for the evening - a pink ball gown and a pale blue beaded tunic/pant ensemble) and she carried herself so well. I was so proud of her!

29 July 2007

A Formal Affair

A few months ago, I was invited to the 18th birthday party of a student. It is a huge formal affair - a "debut" party. I was so flattered to be included in amongst her friends and family - it is such an honour. Unfortunately, I didn't have a dress to wear. Yeah, I know what you're thinking "What is she talking about?...She just did a complete formal wear SWAP." I know, but here's the deal. I already wore two of the dresses to school functions and most of the other pieces are more for winter formal events. So I decided to create a new dress.

I wanted something formal, but comfortable, appropriate, but a bit daring. I searched through oodles of vintage dress images I have saved from the internet and found inspiration in this dress from Vintageous:
I love the high neckline in front, the slim waist and hip, the full skirt, but most of all, the low dip in the back. I decided to attempt a muslin for this dress using a TNT pattern. I don't have many TNTs, but this dress is so flattering that it has been altered to perfection and made 3 times now, with many more to come. The pattern is McCall's 5042:

In the past, I have made both view C and view D, in stretch cottons. These two dresses are so comfortable and flattering:

Looking critically at the pattern, I noticed it was almost perfect for my inspiration dress. The only alteration needed was to draft a new back bodice to create the low scoop. I traced out the central back bodice and fudged in what looked like a good scoop.

I looked through my extensive fabric stash to find some appropriate wearable muslin fabric. I found a 2 m length of black silk/rayon brocade that I bought on a whim, but never quite knew what to do with it - now, I knew what to do with it. I lined the bodice with black Bemberg rayon.

Tomorrow: the dress and party reminiscences...

27 July 2007

Tulle Time

With all 50s dresses and skirts I make, I really need a petticoat. I have looked everywhere for a premade version, but everything I find is either way too expensive or too big. So, what's a seamstress to do? Why, make one of course!

I bought 6 yards of black tulle netting at Fabricland and set to work. I wanted the petticoat to be between 24" and 26" long. I planned on using a premade black slip as a lining layer, by affixing the netting to it. Each netting layer was cut out to be twice as long as the previous layer. As well, each layer was cut with 1" seam allowances. Below is a summary of the finished layers:
The construction was simple - sew each layer into a circle and then gather each layer by cinching up a basting stitch. Attach each layer to the next smallest layer and sew together. Not hard - just time consuming - and boring. Although this project was not much fun (man, I hate, hate, hate gathering), I think the result is pretty darn good. Take a look:

I included two photos. I like the second one because it shows the layers and the slip acting as a lining (no scratchy fabric on the legs).

I have almost finished work on a black brocade party dress. I just need to hand hem it and then I'll post photos. I need the dress for tomorrow, so I better get on my horse...

24 July 2007

Simplicity 4076 & Vogue 8134

Pattern: Simplicity 4076 (view D) & Vogue 8134 (skirt)

Size: S4076 comes in sizes 8 to 24 - I made size 8. V8134 comes in sizes 6 to 20 - I made size 6.

Fabric: Chocolate brown bamboo knit from Wazoodle & Michael Miller Funky Flowers from WalMart (left over from this dress).

Project Photo

Comments: This was another fast and easy summer outfit. My summer wardrobe is sadly lacking and I am in the process of trying to beef it up.

The skirt has four panels (two wide for front and back; two thinner for the sides) and an elastic waist. This skirt sews up, from laying out to hem, in about an hour and a half. It looks quite cute on, considering the simple design.

The top is also quick. I like the cap sleeves and the gathering at the neckline. However, in making this top before, I found the scoop a bit low, so I raised it by 1/2". Next time I will raise it a further 1/2" because my favourite bra shows above the neckline. It can still be worn, just with other undergarments. This is my first time working with the bamboo knit. I'm not sure if I love it. It is really soft and drapey, which at first seems wonderful. However, that soft, drapiness tends to cling to and emphasize every little lump and bump. I may double the fabric next time I use it, to minimize this.

Conclusion: I love the skirt pattern and have plans to use it several more times - it has that 60s A-line flair that I love. I am still trying to perfect the fit of the T-shirt. All in all, another cute summer outfit.

23 July 2007

Fabric Mart Strikes Again!!

As I usually do (several times each and every day), I clicked on the "New Arrivals" at Fabric Mart and I almost fell out of my chair. There, before me, was one of the most interesting fabrics I'd seen in a while. I had to act fast, as there was only 19 yards left. While I was there, I picked up a few other pieces, just to (ahem) round out my order (ahem). So, ya wanna see what I got??

Wool Tweed with Floral Outlined Design - this fabric is SO COOL!

Olive Cotton Ribknit Jersey and Nutmeg Rayon/Lycra Jersey

Green/Aqua/Brown Poly Jersey Knit and Maggy London Gold Rayon/Metallic/Lycra Knit

I only have sketchy ideas of what these fabric will eventually become, but I'll figure it out - I'm sure inspiration will hit in good time!!

22 July 2007

Butterick 5046

Pattern: Butterick 5046

: This pattern contains sizes 8 to 22 - I made size 8.

Fabric: Teak interlock and teak/black floral paisley interlock both from Wazoodle.

Project Photo

Comments: I was looking to make a comfortable, casual outfit for running errands. When I saw this pattern, I remebered these two interlock fabrics that I had in my stash. Although the pattern calls for wovens, I decided to use the knits since they are stable.

The pattern went together very easily. As a matter of fact, the cropped pants are just basic, elastic waist pull-ons. Even though the pants are simple to make, they are fairly flattering and quite easy to wear.

The top was also easy to put together and it looks just like the envelope illustration. However, I should have done some tweaking on the front bodice pattern piece. There is a fair amount of gathering in this area and it is a bit overwhelming on my small bust. Although I don't hate this top, it is not one of my favourites.

Conclusion: I am happy enough with how this outfit turned out. I can see making a few more pairs of the cropped pants in other knits to wear while exercising or walking the dog. The top, on the other hand, is not flattering enough for me to worry about altering the pattern to try again. This will be a nice outfit for cruising around on the weekends.

21 July 2007

All Sorts of Stuff About Me

I have been tagged by both Gaylen and Angie. So, here's all the juicy info:

1. What kind of seam ripper do you use?
- just a cheapo one, like this:

2. What do you use to snip threads at the sewing machine?
- a small pair of embroidery scissors, like this:

3. What do you use to cut out patterns/fabric?
- a pair of Fiskars scissors, like this:

4. Do you stash zippers?
- I stash everything, including zippers (yah, zipperstop.com!)

5. Which takes up more space in your stash — knits or wovens?

- wovens; it's a 2/3 woven, 1/3 knit ratio

6. Are you wearing anything today that you made?

- yes, a knit top and seersucker cardigan (but, the pants are RTW)

7. Does anyone else in your family currently sew?

- nope, not a soul

8. What is the last $$ sewing-related (non-fabric) item you bought?
- my new Kenmore Elite 19005 sewing/embroidery machine

9. Cutting out, pressing, hemming. Which one do you like the LEAST?

- I hate hemming; every time my husband has pants to hem, I cringe. But, I still do it because I am wonderful :)

10. Do you have any non-chain garment fabric stores in your local area?
- there are two stores that carry just quilt fabric within 20 km; for apparel fabric, the drive increases to 60 km.

If anyone else wants to participate, go for it!!

20 July 2007


So, obviously my blog is sporting a new look. Out with the old, in with the new, I say. It was time to shake things up around here and this is the result - new colours, new banner (the picture is of a plant in my garden - Crocosmia "Lucifer") and new profile photo.

Oh great...now, I can't get that David Bowie song out of my head!!

19 July 2007

Oops! I Did it Again!

Ooo...I am so excited. An amazing Maggy London Garden Print Linen was posted at Textile Studio a few weeks ago and I have been stalking it ever since. I would gaze at it longingly for hours, dreaming of what our life together would be like. The dreams we could fulfill, the time spent in each other's company. C'mon folks, you know what I'm talking about. I know I'm not the only one that has a rich fantasy life that revolves around fabric.

Anyhow, Marsha (the little temptress), must have known about my unrequited love. There it was, in the Thursday Special this week...my heart's desire...begging to come home with me. So, I invited 2 yards over for dinner and who knows what else (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). Here it is, my latest passion:
I'm not absolutely sure into what I will turn this fabric. On my short list, I see it as view A of Vogue 7511 (although I will be ditching the bow at the neck). Then it can be worn twice as often, sometimes as a dress, other times as a coat.

18 July 2007

It Was Only a Matter of Time

I have been eyeballing the offerings at Denver Fabrics for a while now. I just never quite got the perfect incentive to take the plunge. Well, this evening, a 30% off coupon appears in my inbox. So, I wandered over to take a little looksie. Silk chiffon for 30% off? In the perfect colours for a project that's been percolating in the back of my brain for months now? How could I resist? Well, I couldn't and the rest is history. So, check it out.

Remember this dress, from Vintageous, which was the inspiration for a dress in my SWAP?

I adore this dress and my quest is to produce a blatant ripoff of it. To that end, I purchased the following two silk chiffons:

Not perfect colour matches, but pretty darn good, if I say so myself! I cannot wait to get these fabrics in my hot little hands.

In other sewing pursuits, I have many new garments to show you. All that is required is some computer time to write the blog entries. Over the next few days, I hope to show you the 3 skirts, 2 tops, 2 dresses and 1 jacket that have now made their way from my fabric closet to my clothing closet.

15 July 2007

Doggone Ugly

No, mommy, nooooooo.......

Honestly, what was McCall's thinking?

14 July 2007

It's a Plaid World

I was on my way out the door to do some accessories shopping (shoes, bags, jewellery, etc.) at the local outlet mall and I asked my husband to snap a picture of me in my latest creation. So, for your perusal,
Gotta love linen, eh? Wrinkles and all, linen is still one of my my favourite fabrics. And my latest love, seersucker fabric - it just screams summer!

ETA: Gaylen pointed out that I look a tad disgruntled in the above picture - I look grumpy because at that moment it looked like it was about to rain on me. Gaylen also mentioned the absence of Simon. So, here's another picture (pardon the blurriness) which remedies the prior two problems. Look, a smile and a sweet pooch - for what more could you ask?

13 July 2007

Simplicity 3887 & McCall's 2101

Pattern: Simplicity 3887 & McCall's 2101

: S3887 comes in sizes 8 to 24 - I made size 8. M2101 comes in sizes XS to XL (4-22) - I made XS.

: Rust plaid seersucker for the top and rust linen/cotton blend for the cropped pant. Both fabrics are from Fabricland.

Project Photo:

Comments:I have made the pants before and when I'm looking for a quick, comfortable, easy pair of pants, this is the pattern I usually use. This pattern does not produce the most fashion forward result, but when I'm in a hurry and need a fast fix, this is a great pattern. I tend to only make these pants if I know I'll be wearing a top out to cover the elastic waistband. A word of caution - this pattern runs large in my opinion. I usually use an 8 for my pants, but the XS (4-6) was roomy enough for me.

This is the first time I made the top and I chose view C. It went together very quickly and the result is quite nice looking. My only alteration is to cut 3" off the bottom, as the top fell at a bad spot on my hip. Although I am fairly long waisted for my height, this top was too long as is. I am pleased with the length now. I would not wear this top without the belt - it looks too much like maternity wear otherwise

Conclusion: All in all, this was a quick and easy outfit. I am behind in my sewing and I am in dire need of some summer clothes. I was able to complete both pieces (from layout to cutting to sewing and finishing) in about 6 hours. This will be a nice, cool addition to my summer wardrobe. I will certainly make both pieces again.