Again with the Fabric Organization

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As promised in April for my birthday, Liz came back to help me fold and organize more of my fabric. We put together the second shelving unit, which is narrower than the first but helps fill in the wall almost perfectly. The second shelf on the right holds mostly knits. These include athletic knits (Nike Dri Fit, Under Armour Cold Gear, Suziplex), wool knits, ponte / double knits and some swim knits.

 photo IMGP8189_zpsa8fa35c0.jpg I also filled in more on the left with things that came out of the bins. At the top I’ve chucked all the things already folded on to cardboard. I’m like those to hold linings and slippery fabrics. But, when it hit 1:00 am we realized we just didn’t have anymore energy to keep going. And, so many bins there were. Sigh. There’s one bin left of fabric to sort, mostly huge cuts of lining, silk organza and cotton batiste.

** Post note: We started cleaning the basement out and I have found another bin of fabric. I literally live in a fabric warehouse.

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I now have a bin of larger scraps to donate to whoever picks them up from Freecycle today. I’m hopeful (and pretty sure) it will be gone by the end of the day! The drawers are still framed with silks and laces. Those will have to wait for another day. All in all, I’d say I’m 2/3 of the way done sorting my fabric and 50% done with getting the room in order. What don’t I ever need more of? Black tricot knit. I found about 20 yards of it all told. I like it for lining knits and athletic wear. So, it appears every time it’s on sale for $1 or $2 a yard I bought five yards of it.

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Liz made use of my giveaway knits and made some headbands for herself on my serger while she was over. I am going to make a sewer out of her if it’s the last thing I do…


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As noted in my last post, I didn’t get my pink seersucker dress done in time for the picnic wedding. I guess I’ve also forgotten how to sew, because I sewed and serged the side and shoulder seams of this lined sleeveless dress. I’m 90 percent sure I’ll course correct with bias binding at the neckline and clean finishing the arms.


Now,  I’m off to the store. I’ve run out of cream thread to sew the lining of the above dress! Also, my invisible zipper foot from Bernina (it was on sale last month) has come in! If you’re interested, the shelves are from Sam’s Club. The narrower one was ordered online. But, as you can see, it didn’t come with five shelves. Just four. So, I need to order a fifth separately.

Exposed Facing Silk Jersey Top: New Look 6648

I’ve been blogging for seven years now and can hardly believe it. Many people I greatly respected when I started blogging no longer blog. And, that’s fine. Life happens. But, thankfully, most have kept their blogs up with old tutorials still available to us. Today, I have to give a nod to Gigi of the Sewing Divas and Gigi Sews / Behind the Seams fame. Not only have I totally copied her 2008 tutorial on adding an exposed facing to this New Look top. I actually used the same fabric in a different colorway from her third iteration.

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This fabric has been in my stash for six years (insert maniacal laugh). And, don’t fret, I also have it in the same rose/ pink colorway that Gigi does. I don’t have terribly much to say about this much reviewed pattern that hasn’t been said before.

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Oddly enough, I made this top six or seven years ago from cotton and gave it to my mom. In a lot of ways I feel like I’m just easing back into sewing after a long break. This seemed like a good palette cleanser.

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Now, I essentially did all of Gigi’s alterations: lowered neckline 1/2 inch, brought in shoulders one inch on each side (I have narrow shoulders) added the exposed facing, removed ruching from waist.

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What I didn’t do (and should have) was take care to match the waistband motif with the bodice. Sadly, the stripes didn’t match up and I didn’t have enough fabric to recut.

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And, I used my coverstitch whenever possible. Here on the sleeve hems and to secure the waistband. I think I HATE having my photos taken for blogging by Jordan and it shows all over my face in these pictures. It feels so awkward! And, I feel like a massive nag by telling him to retake photos, take more than on in each pose, check the exposure, zoom in on this detail of that. Argh. I think I’m just going to stick with my tripod in the future. The tripod does exactly what I want and doesn’t get salty when I give ‘helpful suggestions’.

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I am 100 percent in love with this top and it’s totally luxurious in silk jersey. I was going to use this fabric for the Vogue 1244 dress I just completed and I am so glad I didn’t. I’m all about upgrading my look for a more expensive vibe.

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This past weekend was the wedding weekend I was rabidly sewing for last week (before Minneapolis). Sadly, I didn’t finish my pink seersucker dress. I just didn’t have time! So, I wore a ready to wear one I’ve had for a few years in pink and white houndstooth. No face featured as this was one of the worst sets of photos I’ve ever taken, LOL.

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I’d love to remake this dress (with an FBA). Kindly ignore that fold above my bust.

Also, we traveled with Linus this weekend to upstate NY for the wedding.  He sat on my lap the entire way there and back.

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We also forgot his food bowls. Hence, he drank from the Days Inn ice bucket. Which, is nearly as big as him.  He’s a great dog to travel with. I had no idea!

Fabric Heaven and Minneapolis

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Wearing Vogue 1224 an unblogged Tracy Reese knit dress.

We had a great time in Minneapolis over the long Memorial Day holiday. I was going to bore you twice with two posts about our trip. But, I will just compress it into one. I’m also burying the lede here and telling you that SR Harris Fabric Outlet in Minnesota is the greatest fabric store on earth. Bar. None.

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But, let’s start with the trip. First, I’m embarrassed to admit that All I knew about Minneapolis is that Prince was from there. We went because J.’s law school roommate lives there with his wife and daughter. My only condition when asked if we could go was to not go in winter. For serious.

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Knowing my trepidation, J. pretty much planned the entire trip from the Mall of America visit and Guthrie Theater production to our road trip into Wisconsin and attending a Twins game.

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Above: Vogue 1086 blogged here.  Minneapolis is beautiful!!! It’s incredibly diverse. The food scene is amazing. The biking infrastructure is PHENOMENAL. There really are 10,000 lakes!

 

There are a dozen museums. Public art is everywhere. The streets are so clean. Midwesterners are so very friendly. The antiques are plentiful. And, best of all, I found the fabric shop of dreams.

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Listen folks. I have been to a lot of fabric stores. I have never been gobsmacked over the size and volume. I planned about one hour at SR Harris fabrics and ONLY went because of emails and comments here that I should stop by. I figured I had seen a lot of fabric and I didn’t need more. I mean, how great could this place be? We got there at 8:30 when they opened and I barely emerged two hours later. I ONLY left because J. was sitting in the car waiting and I thought if I spent any more time it would be a bridge too far.

This place is 30,000 square feet. I barely left the knits aisle. Why? I had a list of things to look for (pique for polo shirts, nylon wovens for men’s swim shorts, brocade for neck ties). But, it was so totally overwhelming I decided to just focus on the gobs of Nike dri fit fabric for honeymoon wardrobe sewing (we’re making a bike trip).

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The fabric selection was extensive as were things like trims, elastic, zippers, etc. And, all the fabric was 50 percent off the marked price. The Dri Fit was about $5 a yard. Five. Dollars. A. Yard.

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I’m already plotting how we can go back so I can buy ALL THE LEATHER. Crap. I think that woman is pointing at the piece I want.

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Here’s one more thing that I did find kind of funny. I hate the way Joanns cuts my fabric. Well, can’t complain about that because you cut all your own fabric at SR Harris.

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Here’s a pic of some of the pieces I got. I hope to sew what I got up very very soon. I bought about 10 cuts.  Jordan will get about five new basic tee shirts in technical fabric. I’ll make some wicking dresses for the bike trip and some pajamas too.

To sum up. If you can get anywhere near the SR Harris Fabric Warehouse in Minnesota, run. Don’t walk. And, plan for several hours. Bring water and trail mix. And maybe bread to leave yourself a trail. I got lost twice. Sadly, not kidding.

Bodice Muslins and Black Tie Weddings

I used to read about women who had a range of clothes in their closet for the different weights they were at. I’d never quite understood that because my weight was fairly consistent. I mean, I would go up in size, but didn’t yo-yo. Right now, I am definitely in a place where 50 percent of my wardrobe doesn’t fit me. I don’t love it. But, I don’t hate myself for it either.

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That said, this left me with a bit of dilemma this sewing weekend. I started on a 2007 Burda pattern that I’m making up for a ‘picnic wedding’ in upstate New York at the end of the month. Now, the old me sewed a 38 with a 1/2  inch FBA. Umm, no.

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The current me, after  FOUR muslins, seems to need a 40 with a 1.25 inch FBA. Heavens.

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Above is the 40 with a .75 inch fba (and the darts lowered and angled differently). I went ahead and added another .5  inch to my pattern because of pulling side seam *only* at the bust and some drag lines at the waist pointing to my bust apex. I didn’t muslin that one. So, let’s hope I don’t have saggy bodice when I’m done!

I’d rather have a dress that fits right ‘now’ than feel uncomfortable in something that’s just too snug and hopeful it will fit later.

So, which body do you sew for? The one you have now? Or the one you kind of want to have back?

Other weekend notes. Black Tie wedding was this weekend. This was the second of two black tie events that prompted J. to just buy a tuxedo instead of renting one twice. I’m still wearing a RTW dress. After these last two formal outings. I don’t know that I’m going to ‘bother’ sewing a formal dress again. I’ve made three formal dresses myself. And, the only home sewn formal dress I’ve come close to getting the same number of compliments as I do in RTW is this silver one. And, I put in a TON OF TIME for a dress that I only wore once.

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I hope to wear my two formals at least two more times. But, for the level of effort vs amount of wear, I’m going to have to go with the under $200 formal on sale rather then making one.  And, I’ll be honest, my RTW formalwear has details and fabric that I can’t do nor afford. And, because I CAN sew, it’s easy for me to make simple alterations to have a custom look. Maybe this will change later on in life. But, for now, it’s not worth it to me to sew these kinds of clothes anymore. What about you? Do you always sew your formals or do buy them?

 

Never Say Never. Dress Into a Skirt.

I’ve always said that I ‘sew’.  I don’t ‘refashion’.  When I went to Florida to visit my dad, one goal to was organize my mom’s personal items. My dad was just. not. ready.  But, he was good about me taking any mementos I wanted. So, I went ahead and selected a few items from her closet that I wanted to preserve in some way. It was remarkable to go through her things because an unbelievable amount were either items I bought for her when I worked retail, clothes I made specifically for her, altered for her or clothes for myself that she got when they no longer fit me. She was always happy and excited for any of them. So, there were a great number of memories in her  closet.

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Inow have this fairly sizable stack of clothing that belongs to her that I don’t want to just give away (won’t fit me because she was teeny). But, I also don’t want to be a hoarder! That leaves me with a bit of refashioning to do. Never, say never. Refashioning these items will allow me to keep the memories of the garment, but still get use of them.

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This dress I made six years ago in 2008 (WHERE DOES THE TIME GO??)  I loved this dress!! But, it was before I knew to make a FBA. And, I couldn’t wear it with my strapless bra which made me my ‘real’ size vs smushing me in. So, I gave it to my mom who wore it to church with a little jacket. I always loved this fabric from my trip to Ghana and worked *really* hard on the dress: silk organza underlining, motif matching, pieced waistband, hand picked zipper — the works!

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So, I’ve turned it into a skirt! I removed the bodice, redistributed the pleats and added a narrow waistband. I can’t tell you how much I love the Perfect Waist Maker by  Dritz (below). Perfect for making interfaced straight waistbands. I need to buy it by the roll.

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Now, the fabric is back in my life, I get to remember my mom, and I have a new skirt.

I sewed like I was single over Mother’s Day weekend. I sent J. to his parent’s house and sewed, sewed, sewed with Linus at my side. Which means, I have three (!!) completed projects — all previewed on my Instagram and to be worn on my Memorial Day vacay to Minneapolis. Love the colors of this knit dress!

About Those Bernina Feet

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Before I made it home from the airport on Saturday, I  went to the Bernina supplier nearest me. I won’t lie. I did not walk away empty handed. I also asked Jordan to wait away from the register as my purchase was rung up.

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  • Walking Foot (which cost more than any one of my non Bernina sewing machines!!!)
  • 1/4 inch / Patchwork foot (I do piecing and I love it for the welt zipper tute by Kenneth King)
  • Edgestitch foot (on order) I live for stitching in the ditch
  • Button sewing foot (I wish I’d had one for the last project. Sometimes thick fabric needs this kind of attachment)
  • Low Shank Adapter

I’m eating Ramen noodles for the next two months. From now on, I’m on the one new foot at Christmas and my birthday plan. Or maybe the foot on sale at the dealership….

My machine did come with a bunch of feet:

174 4mm Lap Seam/ Feller 
20 Open Toe
28 Pintuck foot
181 Clear applique
452 Buttonhole
003 straight stitch hemmer
419 Tailor Tacking
168 2mm Roll and Shell Hemmer Foot
016 Blindstich
470 Overlock
16 Extra wide gathering
007 Zipper
030 Embroidery
000 Zig Zag
285 Small Darning foot

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I really wanted the Low Shank Adapter so I could make use of the ‘regular’ feet I already have. While I would like to have *all* Bernina feet, I am not the recipient of a lottery winnings. I also was desperate to see how my vintage buttonholer would work.

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So, I did, like, 20 buttonholes. They aren’t terrible. But, no matter what, I couldn’t seem to get the spacing wider in the middle. You can see my progression from stitches being right on top of one another to getting a but more wiggle room in the middle.  I’ll need to be super precise when cutting them open. Anyone else use an adapter / vintage buttonholer combo? I just can’t go back to a four step buttonhole ::shudders::

Which leads me to my Singer 301. I think I need to sell her. I bought that machine to have one at my parent’s place in Fla. I brought it home because my dad is certainly not ever asking me to sew for him when I visit. I was going to keep it to do buttonholes but I have my Featherweight and my Kenmore 1030. So, I’m going to list the 301 on Craigslist (pricing will be ‘firm’) and hope for the best! That might at least cover one or two more new Bernina feet!

Review: Hot Patterns 2004: Mr. H.P. Hemmingway Windcheater

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Almost three months past his birthday, Jordan’s got a new jacket! I bought this HP pattern back in 2013 with the thought I would sew it up for a Hanukkah gift. Then, I promised it as a February birthday gift. Luckily, Jordan is patient.

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I love how the HP Windcheater is modeled after high end and very expensive jackets. I submit to you the Filson Fisherman Parka

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At $500 that was never going to be purchased by me.

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I think my version looks pretty similar to theirs in blue!

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So, fabric is a cotton from Mood that I purchased in store in 2013. It’s navy blue cotton with a waterproof layer sandwiched in between. I don’t think it’s super breathable, but, it has great hand. It generally sewed fine with a regular needle. But, when I got to the buttonholes on the front I tried three different needles before the stitching ‘took’. I used a leather needle as it is A designed to go through non-wovens and performed like a champ.

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The lining is a cotton flannel from Joanns that he picked out himself. The sleeves have a silky lining to make it easier to take on and off.

Alterations:

  • Add an inch in length to the jacket
  • Add a inch to the sleeves (he likes them long)
  • Broad back adjustment for movement ease while on his Vespa
  • Added a pleat to the lining for movement ease
  • Scoop out the center front neck at the hood to accommodate for his larger neck.

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Looking at the completed garment I think the shoulders are a little long/ wide for him and I’ll shorten them a bit next time. And, the neck is still tight for him and I’ll need to scoop that out some more.

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For the zipper, I used a two way zip so when he’s on his Vespa or bike, he can unzip from the bottom. I bought and had it cut at Stadham Sewing.

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I also skipped snaps and went with buttons.  He chose these buttons from my stash.

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I didn’t do the drawstring waist. He said he would never use it.

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I added a zipper to the chest pocket. Just big enough to hold his iPhone.

So, I don’t want to gush, but I think he looks so stinking good in this jacket! And, not because of my sewing. I think it just fits him really well, and I love him in navy (and dark green and browns).

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It took me a long time to make this pattern because I’m lazy and it’s the first ‘real’ thing I’ve sewn since last July! I can’t believe how long it’s been since I’ve *really* sewn.  It felt incredibly good to sit down at a sewing machine and watch a project come together.

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I can see using this pattern over and over and over. And, I’d really like to make a two-tone version for myself like these Universal Works jackets that retails for $345 (it’s unlined).

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The next time I make this, I will use pre-installed drawstring and elastic. You’ll note that I have in the grommets. But, no drawstring yet.

And, I will add interior pockets like so

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and so

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Too bad it’s now too warm for him to wear the jacket…

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Sewing Meet Ups / New Fabric/ HOT PATTERNS!!

Except that time I got married, today was the best day I’ve ever had in Florida!  Tracey (no blog — yet) was kind enough to spend the day with me and we headed out to meet the Hot Patterns duo of Trudy and Jeremy for lunch. I couldn’t stop running my mouth! I was full of questions about them, the company, design philosophy — everything!

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Proof. See. Seriously. Laughing, laughing, laughing.  That’s Trudy in the middle and Tracey to the left.

I’ve long admired Hot Patterns as they were the first non Big 4 pattern makers I’d been exposed to. I’ve had some lovely results from their designs and wanted to thank them for being fashion forward. They are just as passionate about sewing and design as we are and love what they are doing. It was an absolute pleasure to meet them. Plus, I’m a sucker for a fabulous British accent!

After lunch, we went to the newish Pennie Textiles down in Sarasota. Ahmagah.

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It is a *real* fabric store. With linens, wools, silks, fine cottons, shirtings, knits. Like, real, garment sewing fabrics. Last year, my mom and I tried to find a fabric store to make her a skirt in Tampa. Joanns and Hancock were the Land of Fleece. This, now, this is fabric shopping.

Crap. Why didn’t I buy that red and white striped knit below??

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And, then I laid my eyes on this:
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I cannot resist a star themed fabric. Nevermind in three different silk weights.

I also got a STUNNING black eyelet, but I didn’t take a photo. Hopefully, I’ll sew it up so soon I won’t need a photo of it all folded.

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Tony at the cutting table was a doll and happy to talk to you about what they have in stock.

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After fabric shopping Tracy and I headed back up to Tampa where we had dinner with Myra and Andrea. I look tipsy in the photo below. I wasn’t. I swear.

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I had such a good time connecting with these fabulous sewing ladies today. And, I’m coming home with two beautiful pieces of fabric. The last three times I’ve been to Florida it’s been too busy.  This time, it was just me and my dad so my schedule was much more flexible.

I need to figure out a way to take a year off of work, travel the world and just meet other sewers and sewing bloggers.

Anywho, I’m heading back home to Baltimore today with a suitcase full of fabric, patterns and a new to me sewing machine. All in all, a good time in Sunshine State.

The Machine Above All Other Machines?

Greetings from humid Florida!

Remember a few weeks ago when I talked about getting a Bernina? Well, folks, it’s happened! Meet my new-to-me Bernina 830 Record. Mechanical. Solid. Mines.

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Why a new machine when I have three others (Kenmore 1040, Singer 221 Featherweight, Singer 301)? Because I love sewing machines!! And, making Jordan’s jacket last month reminded me I needed a machine with a free arm (had to borrow a blog-reading neighbor’s) and it’s nice to have a heavier full size machine that won’t whine over tough seams. That’s not the fault of my Singer 301. I love that machine. I just needed something stronger.

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Trena seems to think that if I have a Bernina, my machine collecting will be behind me as I will have ‘the one’.  I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that’s just not true :-) I do still have my eye on a modern Juki straight stitch (I’m a lover of speed) or a vintage Singer 201. But, I will let the universe bring those to me just as it brought the Bernina 830 in my path. How is that you say?

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Well, I have to thank blog reader Patti for making it happen. After I posted last month, she emailed to let me know she lived within 30 minutes of my dad in Florida and 15 minutes away from both a Bernina 83 0 and 1230 that were on Craigslist. Not only did she live close, she offered to test sew them for me! And after test sewing, she let me know the 830 was the bees knees and she’d be happy to procure for me if I wanted!

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Can we have a collective hug for how terrific the sewing community is? And snaps for Patti? I have been on pins and needles to get down here and try it out. And, I do love it. The stitch is beautiful. It’s solid and heavy. The packaging is so well designed. All I have to do now is take out a small personal loan from the bank and start adding to my presser foot collection (1/4, walking, straight stitch, button).

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Can’t wait to get her home and start working on my next project.

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And, I can’t wait for Friday! I’m meeting up with other sewists! Trudy of Hot Patterns and Tracy (no blog) and I are doing some fabric shopping in Sarasota. And later on we’ll head to Tamps to meet up with Andrea and Myra. Again, I need more fabric like I need a hole in the head. But, I always need good sewing company and conversation!

Vogue 7104: Men’s Cummerbund and Tampa Bound

If we’re facebook friends or you follow me on Instagram, you’ve already heard this tale of woe.

We all have slapdash moments. Saturday, was mine. We bought a tuxedo for Jordan a few months ago knowing we had two black tie events within three weeks of each other (fundraiser for theater I’m on the board of and a wedding). And, at around $170 a pop, it didn’t make sense to rent a tux. I took charge of the tuxedo ordering (wool and cashmere blend on sale from Macy’s) and said I was out of the process. Shoes, shirt, etc. were now on him.  Totally forgot about the tuxedos and went about my business.

Saturday morning, “Did you ever get me that tuxedo vest?”

Me, “No…!?”

Him, “Well, what should I wear?”

Me, “I have no idea.”

Him, “Are you going to be able to hem the pants today?”

Me: WHAT?

Him: “Also, the waist is loose and the jacket kind of boxy.”

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I cannot stress this enough: alterations are the worst.  So, that is how I spent my Saturday. Making a cummerbund, taking in his jacket, hemming the pants and taking in the pant waist. Now, the truth is I bought a blind hemmer with the thought I might need to mend and hem pants in my future. But, I wanted to finish my UFO Hot Patterns Windcheater jacket on Saturday!

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There was no way I was going to make a vest that day. So, I elected to go with a cummerbund from Vogue 7104. I chose view F as it mimics the peaked lapel of his jacket. Did you know that the curved look of the cummerbund was designed to mimic the look of a shawl collar tuxedo? Who knew? Not me!

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As for the cummerbund. It’s ‘fine’. I will be remaking it for the wedding we are attending next month. The pattern calls for sew in interfacing and I used silk organza.  But, what it really needs is Peltex or similar tough stiffener. I also want to make him a wider, self-tie bow tie out of the same silk faille. And, a pocket square. I’ll also go with B. Black and Sons to order cummerbund hardware (plus some for bow tie).

Of course, I watched this video after I’d made the waist covering. If I’d seen it first, I’d have used the right interfacing. And, seriously, big ups to A Fabric Place. I sent Jordan to buy cummerbund material while I did the tailoring.  The silk grosgrain / faille was a steep $60 per yard, but you only need 1/4 yard for the style cummerbund I chose.

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It was worth it. He looked like James Bond. But, this also means that his Windcheater is still waiting for buttons to be sewn on. It’s going to be summer by the time I finish that jacket.

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The gala’s theme this year celebrated the work of the costume shop. It was AMAZING.

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They did a fashion show highlighting their work over the past 51 seasons of the theater. I might try and arranage a back stage tour this summer as a meet up. Wouldn’t that be fun?

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This is my third time attending the gala. I’ve always made my dress (First and second years). But, this year I didn’t have the right fabric on hand nor the mojo.

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This year I bought on sale online. This is how I roll. I buy like ten dresses online from stores with free shipping and returns or where  local returns are possible. I pick the ones that work best and send the rest back. Oh, this one had to be hemmed too. But three inches. At least I got a headband out of the excess!


I’m leaving on Wednesday morning to see my dad for a few days near Tampa (in Hernando County). Does anyone want to try and meet up? I head back to Baltimore on Saturday morning. But, other than picking up my vintage Bernina (squee!!!) am flexible with time. Plus, I’ll have a car so I can come back to Tampa too. We don’t have to go to a fabric store. It could be drinks or lunch or anything really!