Archive | February, 2011

Don’t Sew Distracted

28 Feb

I had a GREAT weekend! Lindsay T of Shop the Garment District and Lindsay T Sews (Again), was in town with her daughter Annie. We had dinner on Friday night and I actually ran into her by happenstance on Saturday. It really is Smalltimore (warning, link has expletives). Best of all, she kindly brought me buckles from said Garment District, so I can actually start working on my trench coat this spring!

I put a few hours into my tuxedo jacket jacket on Sunday. These will match the tuxedo pants that still need hemming.  The blazer pattern is from the February 2011 Burda, #126.  I chose it for the narrow lapels, deep neckline, and two piece sleeve. I was quite happy with progress until I realized that I had done the pockets differently than drafted.

The pockets should start about one inch in front of the dart / five inches from center front and end on the side front panel.

I don’t know what happened. Or what I was thinking. But, I placed the pockets about three inches forward — avoiding the side front panel entirely. The pockets are teetering within two inches of center front. I mean, I *knew* I needed to sew the pockets over side front. I test fit the garment and took the waist in there before starting the pockets.

Argh.

Obviously, it’s not the end of the world. But, I’m just not sure what it’s going to look like with the pockets so far forward. I tried it on last night, and if I keep the flaps short, it’s not that bad. I’m worried if I leave the flaps off it’s look to bankerish.

But, lesson learned. Don’t talk on the phone while doing the fiddly bits of sewing.

I would like to have this ready by this Saturday night. But, alas, that may be a pipe dream. I have a black tie event to go to for work and would *love* to rock a Le Smoking. Did you see Anne Hathaway in her Lanvin tuxedo last night at the Oscars? The funny thing is, I have  a Simplicity pattern for the Marilyn Monroe dress too.

Oprah Wears Pants

23 Feb

I’ve been a little quiet over here the last three weeks because I’ve been sweating it out over some freaking tuxedo pants. I wanted to try something slimmer cut and less roomy than what I normally make. The first pattern I tried were hiddy. There were angry wrinkles all over my backside. I made six muslins of the pants with every single adjustment you could imagine. These are from (I think)  the November 2008 Burda.

I had photos from every angle and finally just gave up on them and moved on to another pair with wider legs.  Preview below (these are from the November 2010 Burda, #129):

The thing is, I was hating myself in the slim pants because I just look so bottom heavy. And, it’s not in my head. My legs looked like tree trunks. I’m well aware of the fact that this is where I carry my weight, but I don’t need to draw attention to it and I don’t need anyone confirming it. I was all ready to just stop working on pants and move on to another dress. But, I had an epiphany.

Oprah wears pants.

Yes, Oprah. Oprah, it appears, is larger than I am. She has access to stylists, personal tailors and designers at her finger tips. And, yet. She wears pants. Pants, that IMHO aren’t necessarily flattering.

So, if Oprah wears pants, so can I. I want tuxedo pants and tuxedo pants I shall have!

Photos by the weekend I hope. I just need help getting them hemmed and hand stitch down the lining along the zipper. Oh, how I wish I had more of this purple Bemberg for what I hope will be a matching tuxedo jacket. It looks awesome against the black!

Local Manufacturing

15 Feb

I’ve had an interesting couple of weeks. I’ve been trying to find local clothing manufacturer with the hope of finding someone who will make the occasional buttonholes on my clothes. One manufacturer I found in south Baltimore is Fashions Unlimited. There, I was able to score 16 inch invisible zippers for a quarter each. I stocked up in China, but bought some for friends who don’t have as much access (Pardon the cell phone photos. I wasn’t expecting all this!)

They also have wide and narrow stretch lace for one dollar a yard in several colors. Picot trim for 50 cents a yard. They have hundreds of underwires for a quarter. The fabric available was more scraps than anything. They do have machines for sale, but they aren’t wired for home use :-(.

They do some production on site but seem to do a lot of sample making also. I found them through a Craigslist posting. It was an amazing reminder that we actually still *make* things in this country. I have a couple more places to check out over the next few weeks.

Sometimes Purple, Sometimes Cranberry Pleated Dress: Burda Magazine 10-2009 #119

14 Feb IMGP7438

I don’t know what happened to me. This dress has just needed hemming for the last four weeks. It sat on my dressform. It sat on my ironing board. It sat on the floor. It sat everywhere but my sewing machine. Perhaps it was the bow tie business. After making the ones for work, I had an order for three. Maybe it was the pants business. I decided I wanted some black ones and muslined not once, not twice but SEVEN times. Seven times for me to still have wrinkles in my seat and a big fat bottom half. But, more on that later. It was actually a blessed relief to return to this dress on Sunday.

This is my second go round with Burda 10-2009-119 . I first made it in January 2010. I wore it consistently but shrank it in a vigorous wash over the summer. Sadly, I’m not in love with this version as I was with the first.

I started this dress over the MLK weekend. The first stretch wool version was so snug around my chest it was tough to wear with a turtleneck. Well, this time I added a full inch for a FBA.

In addition, I sewed my non-stretch woven with an extra 1/2 inch at the seams. And because the sewing fairies have jokes, it came out huge. I went back in and took in the sides by everything I added and then some. But, there is just something off about the proportions. This dress could almost use a tuck in the waist so the skirt is level and the sides swing inward. Now, the sides are very curvy, wide and off grain. This makes them swing outward makes me look hippier  than I (think) I am. You can see what I mean here on the bottom right of the skirt.

Both the fabric and lining are from the Carol Collection. The Carol Collection has been a goldmine of solid bold colors for me. Again, I wouldn’t normally pick out this cranberry, but me likey.  Unlike last time, I managed to press my pleats through the front.

I’m also still on my combination facing / lining kick and did the same here.

I finished the dress with my machine’s blind hem.

I’m fine with the dress. Not disappointed enough to fix it. But, very curious about how it behaved so differently.  There are three more former dresses I would like to recreate this year.  This includes the notched collar dress, the Sherlock Holmes dress and the knit jumper.

Two Vintage Finds — Oh. And Home Dec.

12 Feb

I recently discovered Dubois Textiles in Southwest Baltimore. There, they sell vintage clothes and remnant home goods textiles from Southern Mills. It’s not thrift store. They have a massive amount of merch. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera. But, check their Facebook Page to see what I’m talking about.

While there, I bought these two vintage dresses for less than $20 each. If you think the minty green dress has a teeny waist, it does. On me, the buckle is on the largest setting and I will be investing in spanx. But, it’s DARLING. I also dug the flight attendant vibe from the latter garment. These dresses were pristine. Polyester my friends, is indestructible.

I also bought some material at $5 a yard to make curtains for my dining room and living room (you can see one room from the other). They carry Lily Pulitzer too!

The fabric is brown and aqua. My walls are plum in the living room and pale lavender in the dining room.

Now, I just need to actually *make* them. And some place mats. And possibly a table cloth. Oh, Home Dec. How I loathe you.

Cheap Interfacing

4 Feb

I meant to have photos for this post…. but lost momentum after inhaling the fumes on top of my soapbox.

I’ve noted in the past that I no longer use ‘cheap’ interfacing. I’ve been asked how to tell the difference between the two. I haven’t answered before as I wasn’t sure how to answer that question. And, I feel like there is too much snobbery on the interwebs about what fabric, notions, machines and interfacing people use.  Snobbery in that I honestly believe sew with the best you can afford. Sewing is about decisions and it’s up to you to decide what you want to use. You cannot talk me into extrememly expensive fabric. I have too much material sitting in boxes to pay loads of money for a yardage. And, what I consider expensive is entirely different than what someone else thinks is expensive. And people shouldn’t feel bad about shopping at Joanns or any other store. I don’t like it, but I have means (well, not so much means but responsible just to me) and options. So buy what you like / want / can afford.

Recently, there is a thread on PR about interfacing. I and several others noted the brands we liked. A comment was made that one could go broke sewing with our expensive interfacing.

Here’s the thing. I’ve had garments ruined from bad interfacing. The collars of shirts and waistbands of pants bubble after washing. The fuse never adheres correctly. The glue of the interfacing has turned my white garment yellow. The interfacing separates from my garment after a few washes. You name it, it’s happened. But interfacing is no longer a problem for me as I’ve started buying a higher quality interfacing.

So, how do you tell if your interacing is cheap? My ways are this:

  • Does the glue flake off ? I purchased a sample last week for $2 a yard. The glue flaked off on the roll. And, when shaken, glue flakes off.
  • The glue is applied in dots. Good intefacing, IMHO, is almost sprayed on.
  • After pre-treating, is there glue left on the intefacing? This one, what was left of the glue came off and continued to flake. Like dandruff.

Also, I read this by LindsayT:

Pellon interfacing is the worst stuff you can use. I had a couple of instructors go on and on about how awful it is. One told a story about meeting the CEO of a major men’s pants manufacturer; this particular brand has a lower price point. She asked him what interfacing he used and was surprised when he said Pellon. Turns out Pellon was a strategic choice for this company because, according to the executive, it only lasts for 60 washings and then their customers have to buy new pants.

she gives some great alternatives.

So, yes. I spend $4 to $6 a yard on interfacing. But, I see a remarkable difference in my sewing. I’m not saying you have to spend that.  At the end of the day, I’ve added less than $5 to the cost of an average garment and gained many more years of wear.

I do have two preferred brands that I order 10 yards of at a time when I buy. But,  I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned them here. They are Fashion Sewing Supply and Perfect Fuse Interfacing by Palmer and Pletsch.

What about you guys? How do you tell the quality of your interfacing?