30 September 2007

Simplicity 3887

First, a few questions and comments:
  • Many commenters asked the same questions as Summerset, "When you're done with this wardrobe, are you going to post pictures of you in the outfits/pieces?"
Yup, my plan is to sew a few more pieces and then start showing some of the possible combinations. In all honesty, I haven't had a chance to model the clothes because I have been too inspired to sew lately. As many of you know, when the desire to sew, sew, sew hits, then you must sew, sew, sew!

  • Carolyn writes, "Everyone I think she is paying a bunch of sewing elves and stashing them in a back shed on her property! Cause these things are coming out just a little too quickly from the Kenmore to me...y'know what I mean!"
Jeez, Carolyn, I can't get anything past you, can I? And just for clarification - I don't pay them, so keep your voice down. If they hear all this talk of wages, the little suckers will unionize and then I'll be up a creek!

: Simplicity 3887

Size: S3887 comes in sizes 8 to 24 - I made size 8.

Fabric: Teal and caramel paisley from Fabricland.

Project Photo
Comments: This is item number five completed in my fall/winter SWAP.

I absolutely adore this fabric, as I have a special place in my heart for paisley prints. So, when I saw it at my local fabric store, I scooped up two metres without having a plan for it. I had used S3887 before and really liked the results. So, I decided to use it again, but this time I made the long sleeved version. As was my previous experience with this pattern, everything went together smoothly to produce a cute, trendy top.

Conclusion: I really like the match of fabric and pattern in this garment (although the photo doesn't really do either one justice). This will be a wonderful addition to my work wardrobe.

29 September 2007

Kwik Sew 2856

Pattern: Kwik Sew 2856 - view A.

Size: KS2856 comes in sizes XS to XL. I made XS.

Fabric: Gold boucle sweater knit from Timmel Fabrics.

Project Photo
Comments: This is item number four completed in my fall/winter SWAP.

I have made this top before and I really like it for winter - it is so cozy. As with all Kwik Sew patterns, the drawing on the envelope does not do the pattern justice. This pattern is well drafted and easy to put together. I estimate I could whip up one of these sweaters (from cutting to hemming) in 1 to 1.5 hours. Talk about instant gratification!

The cowl neckline is very flattering on a small chested, pear shaped woman. It adds width in the shoulder region to balance out the hips and the drape of the cowl disguises the small bust.

Conclusion: I was never a huge fan of cowl neck tops until I made up this top - this pattern has certainly changed my mind. I have already cut out another version of this sweater in a drapey black knit.

28 September 2007

Loes Hinse Tango Skirt

Pattern: Loes Hinse Tango Skirt (view A)

: LH Tango skirt comes in sizes XXS (34" hip) to XXL (48" hip). I used size XS.

Fabric: Caramel RPL Gabardine from Timmel Fabrics.

Project Photo
Comments: This is item number three completed in my fall/winter SWAP.

Loes Hinse's patterns are renowned for providing a flattering garment with simple lines. The 10 gore Tango skirt is no exception. The multitude of gores not only make the skirt easy to fit, but provide nice elongating vertical lines. There is only one pattern piece to cut out and basically straight lines to sew. Can't get much easier than that!

I like the elastic waistband and I find it quite comfortable. On a straighter figure the waist would not be bulky at all. However, since I have such a large difference between my waist and hip measurement, I have a bit more bunching than I would prefer. I will be tapering the pattern piece in at the waist to eliminate bulk to get a smoother line next time I make this skirt.

The only change I made to the pattern was to shorten the skirt to 24". Gotta love those short legs!

Conclusion: I really like this skirt. I have already cut out a slightly longer version in a brown/navy reversible suiting.

27 September 2007

Jalie 2682

Pattern: Jalie 2682

: J2682 comes in sizes F to FF - I made size R (33" bust, 27" waist, 36" hip)

Fabric: Dark teal poly/Lycra knit from Fabricland.

Project Photo
Comments: This is item number two completed in my fall/winter SWAP.

I have made this top four times before and I love it. It is such a simple, easy to sew top that is unbelievably flattering to wear. As with all the Jalie offerings, this pattern is exceptionally well drafted. I can cut out and put this top completely together in about 1.5 to 2 hours. Talk about instant gratification. I cannot recommend this pattern highly enough.

Conclusion: I am sure I will make this top many more times (I actually have another version cut out already in a soft interlock - to use as a pajama/lounging top).

25 September 2007

Q & A

I want to answer a few questions from my last two posts:
  • Paula writes, "Shannon, your first SWAP group is the absolute BEST! Love it! Now, as for the 2nd and third, they don't quite look 'finished'...good colors, but...? I love seeing your submissions to Julie's Timmel Fabrics site...you are truly inspirational! (do the kids in class get hyped, too?) Does your husband do your photography? Great presentations!
Let me answer the last two questions first. Each year my students seem to find out through the grape vine that I sew. I don't usually broadcast it, but the home ec teacher tells them about me. Then each day when I walk into class, I am greeted with a chorus of "did you sew that, too?". The students are always very interested and full of a million questions.

My husband is my photographer - I love to sew, he loves cameras - it's a match made in heaven. I usually pick the general location for the pictures and he rearranges me until I'm presentable. He is an extremely patient and supportive man - I'm a lucky gal!

As for the comment that the 2nd and 3rd part of the SWAP don't look finished. You are basically correct. The original Australian Stitches formula for wardrobing begins with a well-coordinated 11 piece grouping of garments for the first phase. The second and third phases are meant to augment and complement the first phase, without necessarily matching it. On the old Sewing World discussion board, someone (please forgive me for not remembering who and let me know if it was you) posted a "recipe" for the three SWAP phases. My fall/winter SWAP plans are based on this chart, although I have taken some creative license to create a wardrobe that will suit my needs.

  • Summerset writes, "Lovely! I completely understand about the collar size! So what will you wear with it?"
As soon as I get a few more SWAP pieces done, I'll post pictures showing some of my planned combinations. Stay tuned.

  • Vicki writes, "...can I come and visit your wardrobe? I hope you have a spare room just for all your clothes and shoes....sigh....."
Vicki, you are always welcome in my home and more specifically, in my closet. I don't have a separate room for a closet, but I do have a large double closet in my bedroom. It is approximately 12 feet end to end, so I can cram a bunch of stuff in there. Although, it is getting to the point where I have to shoe-horn in new acquisitions.

  • sewcreate writes, "Where do you fit the time between grading papers?"
I attribute my productivity to three things:
(1) I am able to sew at the drop of a hat because I have a huge stash of everything - fabric, patterns, notions (thread, zippers, trims, beads, buttons, seam tape, bias tape, etc) - so there is no need to run out to the store for supplies.
(2) I am unbelievably anal retentive and an obsessive planner. Before, I begin any new undertaking (like my SWAP plans) , I plan it to the nth degree. That's not to say I don't make changes as I go, but the changes are not normally huge.
(3) I have no children. This is the ultimate reason why I am able to get so much done.

  • eme writes, "...how many of your pattern choices are TNTs and how many are new (rough percentage)..." & "...can you go into your thinking behind each phase (why you chose certain patterns/combos, etc)?
I love the concept of TNT patterns, but in reality, I'm too fickle to stick with just one pattern. I do have a few patterns that I have tweaked to the point that they are TNTs, but not many. I am always looking for the next great challenge and using a bunch of different patterns keeps me fresh and motivated. I always say that I have ADSD (attention deficit sewing disorder) when it comes to patterns - I can't concentrate on any one for a long period of time or I go stir crazy. So, I looked at my chosen patterns for the 3 part SWAP and I have made 2 of the 27 patterns once before and another 3 have been made more than once. The other 22 patterns are brand new to me.

My plans start with a colour combo that I like. I collect together all the coordinating fabrics that fall into this colour range. I decide which fabrics will be used for tops, for bottoms and for the jacket. I usually keep all my bottoms in solid colours. Print are usually reserved for tops - this way the prints don't have to coordinate exactly, as I won't be wearing two blouses at the same time. When choosing patterns, I take into consideration how all the pieces will work together. I try to ensure that all the tops' necklines and lengths will work with the jacket. I also keep in mind the style of the tops when picking bottoms - for instance, I don't want too many blousy tops if most of my bottoms are voluminous as well (I don't want to look like the Michelin Man). I also tend to prefer tops that either have long sleeves or are sleeveless if they are to be worn under a jacket (short sleeves bunch up and drive me nuts). Often, I try to include tops that do double duty, like cardigans that can be worn open over another top or buttoned up on their on (so, obviously the cardi can't have a neckline that is too low and revealing if it is worn on its own). Lastly, I check out the latest trends and see if these can be incorporated to an extent in my plan, although I mainly rely on classic, simple pieces.

24 September 2007

Butterick 4865

I have begun work on my fall/winter SWAP wardrobe. But, before I show you the first completed piece. I wanted to answer a few questions from the comments to the SWAP storyboard post.

How long do you think this will take you? If I really buckle down and stay focused, I figure I could get all three phases done by Christmas. Now, I'm not saying I will be done in three months, as I may be side tracked by other flights of sewing fancy. :)

...what does LH stand for?
Sorry, for being confusing. I short form all my pattern companies: LH - Loes Hinse, J - Jalie, B - Butterick, S - Simplicity, NL - New Look, V - Vogue, M - McCall's, KS - Kwik Sew, BWOF - Burda World of Fashion magazine. I think that covers all the ones I use on a regular basis.

...your closet must be the size of a small country! Well...ahem...I do have a few hundred pieces of clothing. Okay, I will be the first one to admit that I don't need any more clothing, but I don't need a lot of things. I like making clothes, I like wearing clothes, I'm not ruining the family finances by buying fabric/notions and sewing is my stress relief and hobby. So, that's my story and I'm sticking to it! Now, if you really want to talk scary, you should see my shoe closet!

Pattern: Butterick 4865

: B4865 comes in sizes XS (4-6) to XL (20 - 22). I used size XS and it is plenty roomy.

Fabric: Embroidered brown velveteen from Fabricland was used for the entire coat, except the under collar, which was made of a brown tropical weight herringbone wool from Textile Studio.

Project Photo
Comments: One day when browsing in my local fabric store, I spotted this fabric and it positively screamed at me to be taken home. Never one to question the motives of talking fabric, I snatched up 2 metres and went about my business. At home, I rifled through my pattern stash looking for a jacket pattern - the jacket pattern. I wanted something with very little seaming as I didn't want to cut up this lovely fabric and minimize the beauty of the embroidery. That is how I settled on Butterick 4865. I had used this pattern before (albeit, a different view) and I liked the results. I am always a sucker for a raglan sleeved pattern, as I love the lines.

This pattern is well drafted and went together quickly and easily. Originally, I had made view D and found it too cropped - view B, the version I made this time, is the perfect length. The only "alteration" I made to the pattern was to not alter the sleeves. Let me explain. Normally, I have to shorten sleeves by approximately 2 inches. This time I choose to leave the sleeves long and turn under an extra long hem - now, I am able to wear the sleeves bracelet length or turn up a cuff to shorten the sleeve to 3/4 length. I like a longer sleeve on a jacket, when wearing it outside, for warmth. However, inside I prefer a shorter length so the sleeve stays out of my way (I hate dragging my sleeves through the chalk when writing on the board).

The only tweak I made to this pattern was to cut the under collar out of an amazing tropical weight herringbone wool that I bought at Textile Studios. I had made a pair of pants from this fabric and I loved the fabric so much I couldn't bear to throw away the few small scraps I had left over. Good thing as the scraps made the perfect under collar. The velveteen is quite heavy and an upper and lower collar cut from this fabric would have been too stiff. Cutting the under collar from the thin wool, not only adds a design element, but it also reduces bulk.

I have to admit I was surprised by the size of the collar - it is quite large. Although, these large, dramatic collars seem to be all the rage right now. I think, because I am a small person, I am keenly aware of the collar's size, so I will have to wear the jacket a bit to "desensitize" myself.

I chose some shiny brass buttons as the finishing touch.

Conclusion: I really like this jacket, although the size of the collar will take a bit of getting used to before I am completely comfortable with it. I think this jacket is a great start to my wardrobe plan. Now, I just need to decide between a top or a skirt as my next project.

22 September 2007

Fall/Winter Wardrobe

Over the last two months, I have been working on piecing together a fall/winter wardrobe plan. After much planning, mind changing and revisions, I have come up with two full SWAPs. Each of the two SWAPs has the full three phases. The first SWAP is based on a chocolate/teal/caramel/camel colourway and the second SWAP consists of an olive green/cinnamon/taupe/beige combination.

After much debate, I have decided the first SWAP will take precedence in my sewing line-up. I am madly in love with teal as of late, so I figured I would sew that colour until I'm sick of it! I have posted my storyboards for the three phases of the SWAP below. Now, as any woman knows, I reserve the right to change my mind as I go along, but at this point, I am content with what I have put together. I hope to make some major inroads on this plan over the next few weeks, so keep checking back.

Phase 1 - 11 garments

Phase 2 - 9 garments

Phase 3 - 7 garments

21 September 2007

Vogue 8258

Pattern: Vogue 8258 (view A)

Size: V8258 comes in sizes S (8-10), M (12-14) & L (16-18) - I made size S.

Fabric: Brown/green/purple silk burnout velvet from Fabricland left over from this dress.

Project Photo:
Comments: I have made up this pattern twice before and I liked it very much. It is a simple little jacket that is so easy top pop on over a tank top and look pulled together. Both previous versions were of the shorter variety. This time I decided to attempt the longer view. I wanted something that would fit into a transitional fall wardrobe - lighter in weight but darker in colour and this left over piece of fabric fit the bill.

I used burnout silk velvet for the body of the jacket and brown velvet ribbons for the three bow closures at the front. I enjoy the juxtaposition of elegant, dressy fabrics and notions with relatively simple, casual designs.

Conclusion: I love how flowy and elegant this jacket is when being worn. It is light and comfortable and will be perfect for work. I can certainly see other versions in the future.

15 September 2007

Vogue 8319

Pattern: Vogue 8319

: This pattern comes in sizes 6 to 20 - I made a 6 in the bust and waist and expanded out to the 10 in the hips.

Fabric: Fashion Fabric - Yellow silk tweed from Timmel Fabrics, Lining - Toffee silk gauze from Timmel Fabrics.

Project Photo

Comments: Let me start by saying, I love the dress, but I don't love the jacket. I have always been enamoured of a good sheath dress. Depending on the fabric used, it can take you anywhere. Use a fun, floral cotton and you're set for running errands on a beautiful summer day. Use a richly coloured wool double knit and you're all set for work. Use a embroidered silk taffeta or a lush sueded silk and you will rock the party. There simply is no situation in which a sheath dress is not appropriate. Thus, I am always seeking out the next great sheath pattern and Vogue 8319 is it. I love the shoulder yokes. This shoulder line on me is particularly flattering, as it balances out my disproportionately large (compared to the rest of me) hips. Also, the princess lines/darts make fitting a breeze.

When I first picked up this pattern, I was smitten with the jacket - it is so Jackie Kennedy. However, like many things in life, sometimes dreams are better than reality. Although I still love the concept of this jacket, I just can't seem to get it to hang properly - the front hem does not hang smoothly, but, rather falls in folds. I think part of my problem is the fabric I used. The silk suiting is fairly soft and pliable - I truly believe a stiffer fabric is necessary. However, not so stiff that the jacket stands away from the body awkwardly. Also, the collar is a pain. The jacket crosses over in the front and it is held closed by three buttons placed off centre. The underlap has one button at the collar to keep it in the proper position. With my jacket, I find that the underlap portion is so heavy that it pulls at the collar, which is not attractive. I tried to remedy the aforementioned problems by using parallel, horizontal rows of stitching on the entire collar, in the hopes that this would stiffen the collar enough to support the weight of the underlap. It didn't work. I also topstitched all around the hem of the jacket in an effort to add some body and force it to hang straighter. It didn't work. In retrospect, I should have interfaced the _ _ _ _ out of the collar and hem - I think that would have alleviated some of the problems. Oh, I almost forgot, to add insult to injury, I fully lined the jacket, which was not called for by the instructions - I guess when I have a wadder, I go big!

Conclusion: All in all, one triumph and one failure. I can't get too upset - at least I got a great dress out of the deal. Also, I have a perfectly fitted, fabulous new dress pattern. At some point, I may take another whack at the jacket, armed with lots of interfacing and fabric with better body.

12 September 2007

Simplicity 3786

Pattern: Simplicity 3786 (view A)

Size: S3786 comes in sizes 6 to 22 - I used size 6 for the bodice and waist and size 8 for the hip.

Fabric: Yellow embroidered cotton from Timmel Fabrics.

Project Photo
Comments: When I saw this fabric on the Timmel site, I knew I wanted to turn it into a tunic. I liked the simple lines of this pattern and the rest, as they say, is history.

Sometimes it's nice to have a roomy, unfitted tunic top in the wardrobe. I think we all have those days when we are feeling less than svelte and the thought of a tight top is enough to make a grown woman cry. This is my solution - a cute top, in a fresh colour that doesn't cling or bind. Worn over a pair of capris with a pair of kicky sandals and you have the perfect, comfortable outfit.

The pattern was well drafted and it went together easily enough. I like that although the style is simple, the lines of the top are a bit more interesting than just a plain "big shirt" style of tunic.

Conclusion: Although this top makes me look a bit rectangular, I don't care because it is comfortable and sometimes comfort wins out over vanity!

P.S. Thank you to all of you that took the time to leave words of congratulations on my last post. There sure a bunch of nice people out there in cyber space.

10 September 2007

Hey, I Won!

Julie of Timmel Fabrics contacted me and told me that I won the Summer 2007 Contest. I am so honoured to have been chosen from amongst the other great entries. A big, huge thank you to Julie for sponsoring this contest.

9 September 2007

More Swag

I cannot tell a lie, I bought more shoes. Hey, how could I resist? They were on sale.

Nine West Florsha - I love Nine West's shoes and these ones are no exception.

Nine West Chanise - another pair from Nine West - these babies are so comfortable. Now all I need to do now is sew up all my green fabric so that I have outfits to match these babies!

Naturalizer - Apparently T-straps are all the rage for fall. I was looking for these even before I knew that they would raise my style quotient. I bought a pair of black T-straps, too. Now, I can't wait for the weather to get cooler so I can put on my T-straps with some tights and a cute skirt!

8 September 2007

I Rock, Therefore I Am

Summerset has nominated me a Rockin' Girl Blogger. Thank you so much for this honour. If you don't regularly read Summerset's blog, you really should start. She is one of the most creative, inventive seamstress/fabric artists that I have ever run across. Her work constantly inspires and amazes me.

I really needed a pick me up like this today. Being back to work this week has zapped all my energy. Not a single bit of sewing got done this week (boo hoo). I hope to be back in the sewing swing of things tomorrow. I will be putting the CONTROL suit on hold for a little while, as I need a few other work wardrobe-enhancing garments before I can commit to a large project.

In other news, I am still waiting (impatiently) for my Fabric Mart order - shipping from the US to Canada can take ages sometimes. I cannot wait to get it because there are a few pieces of fabric in that order that I plan on using for my fall wardrobe. I figured this order would be all I would need for a while and then I went to take a peek at the latest Fabric Mart offerings - bad, bad decision. Now, at least three other fabrics are calling my name. Do I place another order before I have even received the first? Oh, the dilemma!

5 September 2007

Simplicity 3874

Pattern: Simplicity 3874 (view B & C)

Size: S3874 comes in sizes 8 to 24. I used size 8 for the jacket. For the dress, I used size 8 for the bodice and waist and expanded out to size 12 for the hip (I could have used size 10 here, but I wanted extra hip ease since some days I sit a lot at work).

Fabric: For the jacket, I used a navy polyester blend twill from Wal Mart. For the dress, I used a blue box print polyester silky from Fabricland.

Project Photo:
Comments: As soon as I saw this pattern, I knew I had to make it. I love anything with raglan sleeves, so this was a no brainer. I have some other fabric that is perfect for this style, but I wanted to check the fit first, so I used some el cheapo fabric that has been clogging up my stash for a while now. I am not a huge fan of polyester, but after working with these two fabrics, I have to say that they are much nicer than their prices would suggest.

Both the dress and jacket went together easily, as this pattern was drafted very nicely. The only difficult part is getting the jacket collar and front "facings" attached nicely. But with careful marking and sewing, it isn't too tough.

The only changes I will be making for next time are the following:
  • I will eliminate the back zipper, as the dress slips on quite easily over my head.
  • The dress is a little tight across the back, through the shoulder blades. I seem to have this problem a lot of the time. The neckline and midriff areas fit perfectly, but the back pulls across the shoulder blades. This is a real problem for me at work, as I am always writing on the chalkboard and using my arms out in front of me. I looked up a solution in one of my fitting books that I will be trying in the future. I sure hope it works because this pulling across the back is quite annoying.
  • The jacket is cute. However, I find it to be a bit boxy and it tends to obscure the fact that I have a waist. Next time, I will make it shorter or add more shaping to the side seams.
Conclusion: I really like the dress on me - it is a real winner! The jacket is good, but not my absolute favourite. I will be making this outfit again, with the tweaks to the dress and some changes to the jacket. Here are the fabrics I am contemplating for the next incarnation (dress and jacket, respectively).

1 September 2007

Bribery Will Get You Everywhere

Each year when I am done school and then again when I am about to begin school, I allow myself a splurge. At the end of the school year, it is all about celebrating the fact that I made it through another year without maiming any students. At the beginning of the school year, it is self-bribery, pure and simple. Rather than laying on the ground, drumming my heels, whining about not wanting to go, I feel it is far more dignified to spend large amounts of money in an effort to soften the blow of going back to the grind.

So far this year my splurge has consisted of the following:

From Fabric Mart
Turquoise & Black Wool Tweed, Cream, Teal & Chocolate Jersey Knit, Teal Wool Gabardine, Caramel Wool Gabardine, Olivette Cotton Corduroy, Chocolate Brown Silk Chiffon, Chocolate Brown Merino Wool (from Sample Cut Club, so no pic available) - I have had a major soft spot for anything teal lately, so this grouping of fabrics really spoke to me.

From Timmel Fabric
Beige Stretch Lace, Floral Jacquard, Cuenda Suiting - this is a trio of coordinating fabrics Julie posted on her site and I just couldn't resist them.

From The Shoe Company
I actually bought the first shoe in a really neat metallic khaki green colour, but the other two pairs are black.

After all this shopping, I do feel a little bit better about going back to work!