Posted in Uncategorized

Spring 2008 MSB

The new Spring (or is it Summer?) Mrs. Stylebook is out. I picked mine up last weekend at my local indie bookseller. This month includes a couple of hats and a few knitting / crochet projects. I’ve scanned a couple of my favorites.

I love the whispy layers of this blouse

It’s the sleeves here I like with the traditional collar

There are a number of pretty dresses in this edition. Some are shown with ankle socks and heels. I will never get on board with that trend. Didn’t like it in third grade when Madonna did it. Don’t like it now.

The cutest apron project. It’s made from a men’s shirt!

There is also a tutorial on pants drafting. So, this too will go with the other four of these I own. Sigh. Some people collect patterns, I collect the magazines!
Posted in sewing

Tailoring the Cascade Duffle

There are so many good resources for tailoring out there. I use the Singer Sewing Reference Library “Tailoring” as my main resource. But, I have a slew of others that I tend to read through before a big project to refresh my memory and help me make some final decisions. The original pattern is very lightly tailored. A friend showed me photos of her Gloverall coat and the Cascade definitely is more in line with traditional methods. That said, the Gloverall is a beautifully heavy melton wool and my fabric isn’t as thick, so tailoring it is!

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Personally, I prefer a fusible rather than hand or machine tailoring methods. Ok. Admittedly I haven’t tried hand or machine tailoring. But, I like the speed of the fusible. I love structure in garments. So, I deviated a little from the included interfacing instructions for the Cascade Duffle.

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First, I interfaced the entire front instead of just the upper bodice with medium weft interfacing. While double sided, my fabric is a little on the limp side. I love a coat that can stand up on its own if I’m being honest.

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I did use the included interfacing pieces to cut my fusible horse hair canvas for the armscye reinforcement. I have an insane amount of it and wanted to give it a go. It’s lovely. When I make a no-nonsese tailored work coat I’ll be using this.

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The pattern instructions have you interface the upper back bodice and the armscye. I just did the upper back because the back stay I added (below) would cover the back armscye. The back stay is a poly muslin blend from my stash. Normally, you wouldn’t interface AND backstay. But, my upper back was cut on the bias and I wanted to stabilize it so there wouldn’t be a chance of it stretching out.

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I also added interfacing to the hem of the coat at the back (the front is already interfaced). If you recall, this pattern has a separate hem facing that I decided to integrate into the back and front. I’ll also be using wigan on my hems when it comes time to do the actual hemming (and when my order from New York comes in).

And, I interfaced everything else called for using the weft interfacing. Oh, I also interfaced my pockets and zipper band — not sure if that’s called for in the instructions.

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Finally, I waffled a bit (too long) on the sleeves. I don’t mind block fusing per se. But, I didn’t want the sleeves to feel stiff. I also really personally hate when my sleeves wrinkle at the elbow crease during wear. So, after flirting with a few ideas I decided to underline the sleeves with a cotton batiste from my stash. I considered silk organza (too slippery to be bothered), muslin (too stiff). This will hopefully give the garment the light support I want in the sleeves and stave off wrinkles.

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And, for the sleeve insertion I added a sleeve head to give the cap some support. I think I’ll skip a shoulder pad. But, I’m undecided.

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I just need to bag the lining and I’ll be all done (man am I glad I already sewed the lining!) Quite ahead of my Christmas schedule if all goes well. But, never fear. I bought more coating last weekend at Fabricmart ūüėö.


Posted in sewing

A long rambling post on the joys of teaching garment sewing

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As I alluded in my last post some four months ago, I’ve started teaching sewing classes at a new fabric and sewing studio in Baltimore, Domesticity. I’d been interested in teaching group classes since July 2016. So, when Domesticity opened up and a mutual friend of the shop owner ¬†connected us, it was serendipity. Also, when I sew or put on makeup, I like to pretend I’m on my YouTube channel or my own TV show anyway ūüėÉ. Now, it would be the same but with a live audience¬†ūü§∑ūüŹĺ‚Äć‚ôÄÔłŹ.

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What I didn’t expect was how hard teaching can be, that there were things I would learn about myself and how much I would LOVE it. Want to read about it? Get a cup because there’s a short novel below.

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Plaid matching her pajama pants!

Hard? Wutt? Yeah. It’s hard. Teaching takes preparation. Any technique I told people to do I wanted to have an example of it, be able to explain the benefits of it, talk about why it works how it does and a clear way on how to do it. That’s not all just in my head. I had to research and make sure I was using the correct terms and perhaps correct any bad habits I had picked up.

I didn’t want people to pay me to watch them read directions and follow along.¬†I wanted people to feel freed from basic instructions, learn techniques and order of construction. Often I’ve thought of in person sewing classes as unnecessary. I’ve said for years if you can read you can sew or cook. Just follow the directions! I had to learn that not everyone learns the same way. Duh. I changed my mindset. But, if someone were coming to to a class and paying money to be there, I wanted to be able to show them things that weren’t in the instructions.

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These are made from a double cloth and are luxurious

The indie designers to give A LOT of detail in their patterns. For how I sew it’s just too too much. But, for a beginner sewer though, they are learning from these. Yet, the lesson here is that even with 30 pages of instructions there are still things to teach. Sewing is vast and there is more than one way to skin a cat. There are alternate finishes of necklines, seams, hems. Ways to topstitch. What your sewing feet are for. What is the difference between needles. How do you pick which needle size, etc. etc. I had more than one student tell me that our classes taught them to love their sewing machine. Or, they’d never used any of the other feet their machine came with.

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Pajama pants are such a good first garment. Lots of techniques to learn and something wearable.

I love seeing how excited people get when they complete a garment! Yes, I goad people into smiling when I take a photo. But, for real… they are happy and it makes me all kinds of warm inside.

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The tee shirt class might be my favorite because you learn to conquer your fear of knits

I’ve had to put aside personal biases about some indie patterns. ¬†Beginner sewers see a lot of independent designers on social media and that’s what they want to sew. But, imho *just* sewing indie designers is limiting. So, I make sure to include patterns from the Big 4 so that students are comfortable going between the two and don’t feel limited to just sewing indie. There are some designs I don’t teach because they are too basic for the money or aren’t something I would ever personally wear. I felt it only right to teach designs I could personally vouch for and work in to my wardrobe. After all, I was going to be sewing samples for myself and the shop. Why work on something I think is trash or dumb?

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Two of my three pajama samples went to Jordan

I’ve had to make my samples show worthy and not just good enough. I mean, I love to sew. But, I’ve definitely learned what I am willing to let go of. But, when everyone is going to be staring intently at my work, I want to make sure it holds up. Those pajama pants? Plaids match every which way. Seams are beautifully finished. They came out so nice I can’t get them off of Jordan to actually use in class. He wears them ALL the time. And, I teach finishes for when you don’t have a serger. Guess what I rediscovered? Many of those finishes are WAY nicer. I am back in love with French seams, flat fell seams and a blind hem finish.

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Our classes are small and intimate

I use a lot of different tools and notions. Ok, for real. The start up costs for sewing are not small. It’s not like knitting where you need a set of needles and a ball of yarn. I brought in rulers, marking pens, hams, seam rolls, rotary cutters, nips, zipper templates, twill tape… you name it, I have it and I brought it. Yes, it can be overwhelming to a student. But, it also lets them see how I get the results I do. Near the end I had a bit of a personal mutiny and stopped bringing so many tools. My living room looked like a mudroom and I couldn’t find items in my sewing room. And, you know what? A few students said “This is a job for a ham” when they were opening up seams or pressing in darts. They understand what the tools are for and that’s fantastic.

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This is the best looking muslin I’ve ever seen. It’s the Farrow Dress from Grainline.

I’m way more obsessed with fit than I realized. Prior to teaching I’d have told you people spend too much time obsessing about fit. But, as I developed the coursework, I realized I worked fit into every class. I didn’t want people to walk away from sewing because they didn’t like how clothes looked on them.

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I suggested people sew muslins. I taught FBAs, swayback adjustments, broad back fixes and ways to make an armhole more comfortable. Yet, my constant refrain was, “I’m not a fit expert. But,….” It helps to have an arsenal of fit books to refer to.

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I mean just look at her face ūüėä

Assign homework. There wasn’t a class I taught that didn’t require you to sew some at home. And, I think that’s really necessary so that people realize they can sew on their own. It also reinforces whatever you taught the week before.

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Teaching doesn’t feel like work! Yes, I mean, I still have deadlines of prep work I need to do and late nights/ early mornings getting it done. But, when I’m with students in the classroom time just flies. It doesn’t feel like work to talk about sewing and teaching sewing. I do have a part time day job in my field. And, I don’t know that I could or would want to teach sewing full time. But, when I’m there it feels like hanging out with friends.¬†I don’t know how long I’ll be able to teach. But, I’m enjoying every bit of it right now. It’s fun to help create a community of sewists in Baltimore. I feel like I’m really *doing* something.

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Posted in sewing

Cashmerette Springfield Top

*ETA: Jenny of Cashmerette reached out to me about what I thought was a mismatched yoke in the pattern draft. Nope. The pattern is fine. The mistake was mine. ¬†Despite having measured and traced the pattern several times in two different sizes, I managed to insert the center back upside down during five different versions of the pattern¬†ūüė≥ That made for the mismatched seam allowance that I noted in an earlier version of this post. I’m removing this post as it’s not an accurate review of¬†the pattern or my alterations. The flipped pattern piece likely caused my fit problems in the back¬†and this post should reflect sewn correctly garment.

My resulting top is the bomb diggity though, so I’m leaving a photo of it up until I get around to sewing this again.

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Posted in sewing

Look Who’s Coming to Dinner!

Robin ¬†of A Little Sewing on the Side emailed me a few weeks ago and said that Gigi of Behind the Seams would be in town and asked if I could meet up. Sadly, I had to decline because I was scheduled for my Santa Fe weekend. I later found out Gigi would still be town after I got back. She, Robin and Gretchen ¬†of Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing are all taking a Susan Khalje course up in Baltimore County. This was my third time meeting Susan. I think *one* more meeting and I can make a pitch for my adoption into her family.

Gigi and Anna

It was great to finally ask Gigi all the questions I’ve been wondering all these years.

  • Does she speak German? Yes
  • What does EdgeKote do? It finishes and seals the line of leather.
  • How big is your stash? A fabulous hand wave and a discussion of how stash makes us happy.
  • Are industrials hard to work on? Not at all

It was like having a living¬†/ breathing sewing¬†encyclopedia next to me!¬† She was funny and gracious and let me do all the fawning I needed.¬† What I suspected about her all along is true. She is smoking hot. Seriously. I dare you to take a bad photo of her! Best of all, she brought the Burda Duffle Coat I’ve been drooling over with her to Baltimore. She needed it! It was 85 degrees in Florida and¬†a scant mid 40s (7 Celsius)¬†in Baltimore the last week! I was also able to thank her personally for helping me purchase binders when I went to China last September.

It’s so funny. When you start blogging you feel like you’re never going to meet anyone. Or that you’ll never know anyone personally who sews. But, the world is so small now¬†that you’re bound to meet up someday.

Gertie and Robin

Gretchen was across the table so we didn’t get to talk much. I did let her know that despite my vast collection of eyewear (15+ pairs), I wore contacts to dinner because my glasses just couldn’t compete with her retro style. She assured me that her glasses¬†are not just a Williamsburg hipster prop (she’s from Queens after all!). Like me, she actually needs the glasses too!