No Speeding!

PortaPocketsI’m sure you’re tired of hearing me say how overfull my schedule is. But I miss having hours on end to just tunnel into my basement hidey-hole and sew my heart out.

smcrackerinpurseSo in this overbusy time, I snatched a few minutes to cut out and begin sewing a Porta-Pockets Purse Insert from StudioKat. Michele [Lepore-Hagan for State Representative] gave me a fabulous bag from her sister’s handbag line to thank me for all the work I’ve done on her campaign. I have never loved a handbag as much as I love this one. And I’ve never had such a capacious bag – 10″ x 13″ x 6.5″. One can carry lots of stuff in a bag that size, but one can also cram a bunch of stuff haphazardly in a bag that size. I find that I am the latter type of person.

That’s the why of this latest project. The annoyance, though, is trying to do thing quickly, as I was doing in a fifteen-minute sewing break on Sunday night. I fused the interfacing, then sewed the next four steps in the construction, at which point I realized I had put one pocket in upside down.

I spent the next fifteen minutes bent over the project with my seam ripper in hand.

My lesson learned is to move more slowly. If a fifteen-minute sewing break means only one step is accomplished—rather than four—so be it.

Don’t you love those fabrics? The stripey batik has been in my stash for over ten years, and I just discovered it again while mining for fabric for this project. I’m really going to enjoy the finished product!

Stolen Moments

Modeling at the Bernina StoreI’m a sucker for early-morning shopping from my inbox. Once my stash is full, I have to consciously tell myself, “Don’t look. Don’t look.”

imageWhile on vacation, I looked at a Fabric Mart sale email and fell for this black and white “tie-dye” stripe. And I’m glad I did. This rayon/lycra blend knit is soft and super comfortable.

I love the lime green version of Katherine Tilton’s Vogue 8710 that I made in June, but I don’t think it goes with anything but white pants. Summer. In Northeast Ohio, summer is long gone. Additionally, I made the green top with horizontal stripes, as opposed to the vertical stripes shown in the pattern. So I wanted to try a version with horizontal stripes. And this fabric was on sale for FOUR DOLLARS!!! Sold.

The “Stolen Moments” refers to how busy I am preparing for a mid-November “Company” production in Sharpsville. There’s really no time for anything but work and music–and it’s killing me!! So I’m sneaking 15-30 minutes here and there. The Jazzman falls asleep in front of the TV and I race to the basement for 20 minutes of sewing. I’m ready to leave for work 10 minutes early? Sewing time!

You know the old adage, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”? That’s me. I had a will to make this top and found a way!

Here’s the review:

V8710Pattern Description: MISSES’ TOP: Semi-fitted, pullover tops A, B have topstitching details. B: forward shoulder, top mostly cut on crosswise grain, bound neck edge, long sleeves, stitched hems.

Pattern Sizing: Y(XS-S-M), ZZ(L-XL-XXL) Katherine’s Large fits me just right.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, with reservations – I think Katherine and Vogue used a cotton/lycra blend or a heavier knit that my rayon/lycra. To me the pattern illustration looks more t-shirt-y and mine looks more tunic-y. (Looking again at the pattern envelope, maybe my fluid rayon/lycra falls more closely to the body where the heavier fabric just skims one’s curves.) But I love it!

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes. No hiccups, no hurdles.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? For me, this version was an experiment with lengthwise vs. crosswise stretch. In the first version, the body was crosswise, and then I noticed the pattern was lengthwise. So for this version I cut the body lengthwise. V8710Only when I was setting the sleeve in did I realize the pattern calls for the sleeves to be lengthwise also, and I cut them crosswise. Guess I’ve got to make one more version of this! Does the lengthwise make me look taller and slimmer than the crosswise? I don’t think so. Or the camera lied!

Fabric Used: Rayon/lycra blend from Fabric Mart.

bwbackPattern alterations or any design changes you made: I add two inches to the length along the “shorten/lengthen” lines. This alteration and the way I drafted the side for the extra two inches gives me more of a flouncy, twirly hem on this top. Love it!

2014-06-21 16.42.12Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes. Love it. (Did I say that already?!

Conclusion: When I look at the photos, I just shake my head. For some reason, this top—in photographs—makes be look as big as a barn. But when I’m wearing it and look in the mirror, I love how it looks. Oh well. I do love this top and find it easy to make and (in my mind!) flattering. I got numerous compliments on my appearance when I wore it this week, so that must tell the story.

Compare the black & white version to the lime & white. I think the lime is more flattering. Must be something about the camera angle or the fabric.

Maybe I already said: I love it anyway. :)

A Labor of Duty

imageMost of my sewing, when I’m not the intended recipient, is a labor of love. My most recent experience didn’t follow that tradition.

The store owner approached me with three bolts of fabric and a pattern for a little girl’s dress and asked me to make it for a store sample. I was complimented. To my mind, that meant she liked the work I had done on the (much disliked by me) Amy Butler skirt and skirt overlay I had completed a few weeks ago.

Now, I love to sew. Obviously. One could not turn out the number of garments I’ve created in the past 18 months without loving the work. This little dress, however, was a different story. Within five minutes of starting the laying-out and cutting process, I sensed this was not going to be an easy sew.

By the time I was sewing on the final button, I was totally disgusted. I can only hope she’ll give me a bag to make the next time. Or at least something with reasonable instructions!

Here’s the review, if you’re curious:

Pattern Description: Madeline with two variations has a bias cut skirt and buttons in the front. The short dress has a high curved yoke and short puffed sleeves that are finished with contrasting piping and a bias sleeve band. The contrasting fabric is also used as a self-ruffle around the Peter Pan collar and bottom of dress. The other view is sleeveless. The armholes are finished with a bias strip. Pattern includes matching panties.

Pattern Sizing: Children’s 1-4

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes

Were the instructions easy to follow? Some okay; some very confusing.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
1) Be sure to read the entire pattern before beginning, including errata page and extra explanations.
2) Size 4 cutting layout is incorrect. Must be folded on the crossgrain for the skirt to fit on.
3) “Wrap around yoke” – there were four of us, very experienced sewers and sewing teachers, standing around the pattern trying to figure out how to construct the yoke. The instruction illustrations were very confusing, especially regarding the yoke.
4) A French seam on a 1/4″ seam allowance is no good. Once you sew the wrong-sides-together 1/8″‘ seam and trim it, you’ve got two threads holding that seam in place. Then you press, turn, press, and sew another 1/8″ seam? Why not design the pattern with more reasonable 1/2″ seam allowances. That would leave you with a 1/4″ finished seam, which is not too much for a child’s dress. In my mind, this 1/4″ seam allowance is poor design.
5) By this point in the construction of this dress, I was just disgusted. I had cut out the short sleeves, but when I saw the step about piping the binding for the sleeve hem, I decided there would be no sleeves. The instructions and illustration for finishing the armhole on the sleeveless version made it appear that the seam allowance would be visible, not tucked inside. I tried both ways and ultimately turned the seam allowance to the inside, turned the binding under, and whipstitched in place
6) Measurements for cutting strips for ruffle – instructions say to cut 4 (I think – left the pattern at the store) strips of a specific width, selvedge to selvedge. Then you’re instructed to measure the skirt hem edge, front fold line to front fold line. The perimeter measurement was around 205″. You’re supposed to multiply that by 1.75. That’s 359″. You need to cut 9-44″ strips to make that ruffle, not 4! That may seem like a nit, but it’s just recurring sloppy instructions.
7) Turning the leg openings on the panties–given the tight curves next to the crotch–and sewing to make elastic casing was difficult and, ultimately, not pretty. My only consolation as the seamstress on this garment is it’s a store sample and will probably never be worn by a human child!

Fabric Used: 100% Cotton

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: None.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? No. Never. (And given this experience, I’m unlikely to purchase any more patterns from this label or recommend them to any shoppers in the store. Will be advising store owner not to purchase any more.)

Conclusion: Cute dress, twirly skirt any little girl would love, and I can tell the designer(s) put a lot of work into it, but I cannot recommend this pattern. It is absolutely not for a beginning sewer.

Whew! I’m glad that’s over!

Eating Serger Pie

Jocole Yoga PantsYou’ve heard of eating Humble Pie, or of eating one’s words, right? Well, after this weekend’s sewing, I’m eating Serger Pie.

Way back in, oh, 1998, I bought a serger. Honestly, in retrospect I don’t know why I bought it. The magazines I was reading and the classes I was taking at the time all talked about sergers and the beautiful work they allow the home sewist to produce. So I thought I needed one.

I bought the Bernina 1100DA, took the guide classes offered by the dealer in Vienna, Virginia, and then tucked it into a cupboard. I moved a few months later, than again six months later, then four years, two years, two years, one year …. With each of those moves, the virtually brand-new serger went from box to cupboard to box and never came out. Never was used.

Frequently, when sewists get together, we mention the number of machines we own. I would mention my Bernina 1630 and my Husqvarna Viking Designer 1 and my mother’s hand-me-down Bernette. Then I’d say, “Oh, and I have a serger, but I never use it.”

I sew lots of knit garments and get along just fine, thankyouverymuch. I don’t need no stinking serger to make a lovely garment.

And then I began working at the local Bernina dealer. During my first week on the job, I had to learn to operate all the machines on the showroom floor in preparation for selling them.

The stars of that new job aligned with the stars of my daughter-in-law asking me last June if I could make these pants. I searched and searched for patterns, but could find nothing that looked like my finished product would remotely resemble the pants she desired.

And then I saw the Jocole Yoga Pants pattern. They looked doable and comfortable. And the pattern seemed straightforward enough that we could easily tweak it to give her exactly the pants she wanted.

Yoga Pants Waistband

Look at that beautiful, smooth seam!!

She asked for a dark gray heather-y fabric that wouldn’t display cat hair or dog hair as she ran errands after working around the house. After checking the stock of all my favorite on-line fabric stores, I settled on Gray Ponte 320 from Hart’s Fabric. The rayon makes it comfortably breathable, the nylon makes it soft, and the lycra gives it stretch. I ordered two yards.

In the midst of the new job and learning pages and pages of Sondheim for two different shows, I found time this weekend to tape the PDF pattern together, trace off her size, adding 3″ to the length of the long size, and cut out the fabric. (She’s 5’11″. Finding pants long enough is one of the great challenges of her life.)

As I was reading the pattern instructions, I saw the words, “If you use a serger…”. I thought, “What pattern and fabric better for me to get off my butt and practice with this serger.”

I sewed up the first seam and began dancing around the sewing room with glee. That was one gorgeous clean-finished seam!!

I’m a convert.

Here’s the review:

Pattern Description: Ladies Yoga Pants, Capris & Shorts – pdf sewing pattern

Pattern Sizing:XS-XXXL, Pattern includes full length, capri length and short length options. Petites, Regular and Tall.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes!

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes!

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? Clear instructions, easy construction.

Fabric Used: Rayon, nylon, lycra Ponte 320 from Hart’s Fabric. Killer fabric for these pants!!

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: My DIL is 5’11″. We looked at all the measurements on the pattern and added 3″ to the Tall size at the “add here” line. They’re perfect, but she’d like some that are longer. The next pair will have another two inches added to make them more versatile, i.e. for more than just yoga class.

I used the same soft tricot interfacing that I use on my knit tops to reinforce the hemline. I cut 5/8″ strips and fused to the bottom of the legs, then folded, pressed, and double-needle top-stitched with wooly nylon in the bobbin. Perfect. Also double-needle top-stitched the waistband seam allowance to the pant (away from the waistband). Perfect!!

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I expect more of these will be coming off my serger. This is a great pant.

Conclusion: Perfect first activewear stretch pant for beginning sewists or new serger owners. Easy and very flattering.

I can see so many uses for this pant. My granddaughter, at 11, is about 5’8½”. I can see making these in shorts and adding a rayon jersey skirt into the waistband. Then she can jump and run without worrying about modesty. She can do handstands if she wants!

I have a beloved Eileen Fisher skirt that has a foldover waistband. Well, lookee, this pattern has a similar foldover waistband.

I can’t stress enough how simple these pants are. Four long seams, then seam on waistband, then waistband application to waist, then hems and topstitch waistband seam allowance. Bim, boom, bam. Done. Less than an hour.

Now if I can just teach my DIL to cut them out herself, she’d have an entire wardrobe of super comfortable pants in no time!

Favorite Travel Jacket

NikkoDoesn’t everyone have a favorite travel garment? This is mine. Every time I wear it, I receive compliments.

It’s the Nikko jacket from The Sewing Workshop. The fabric is a home dec linen that I found at a store near the university in Tucson. From my googling, I believe the store no longer exists. I can picture it and about where it was, but can no longer remember the name of the street. I lived in Tucson from 2000-2008—eight years. I’ve now been gone from there for six years. I’ve forgotten many of the places, but still remember all the good friends.

I took this picture Monday morning a week ago (Sept. 8) at 4:15 a.m. as we were heading for the airport shuttle for a nonstop flight to San Francisco. I was going to quickly post it to explain why I wouldn’t be sewing and posting at all. You see how well that went!

Now I’m home and busy posting the travel blog—wine tasting in Sonoma and Napa; a long drive down the coast for lunch with a fiber friend; SF fabric shopping with a cyberfiberfriend who can now drop “cyber” from her title; and lots of walking and sightseeing around SF. Great fall vacation!!!

And the Nikko jacket? The only thing I would have done differently is put in a faux bound buttonhole rather than a regular buttonhole with black thread. Other than that, it’s perfect. Great weight for sitting on a plane for hours. And I believe it’s visited every foreign country I have visited.

(If you want to read about our travels, click the Travel tab at the top of the screen. My account will be complete in a few days.)