11.18.2016

Gray Ribbed Corduroy Pants | NewLook 6216

These pants were cut out on a Wednesday night right before heading to bed, completely finished by 2:00 p.m. the next day and being worn out the door to attend a casual function at 2:30 p.m.  That's pretty quick for me!
NewLook Pattern 6216 is an elastic waist straight leg pattern I've made twice before, here and here.  I've always eliminated the cording in the casing.  Love these pockets!
When those earlier versions were made, the size 10's seam allowance was the width of the serging. This time I wanted to see what a true size 10 with a 5/8" seam allowance looked like and am quite pleased with these.  I like the more straight leg appeal here.
Warning... this pattern runs big!!!  If I followed the pattern's sizing suggestion, I'd be making a 14! No Way!
I'm a huge fan of elastic-waist pants because my weight tends to fluctuate back and forth a pesky five pounds.... just enough to affect the fit of fitted garments.... and these types of pants are simply more comfortable for daily wear.  But..... I do not want to 'look' like I'm wearing elastic-waist pants and believe the way to sort of get around that, is to size back to where the elastic waist barely makes it over your hips as you are putting the pants on, then that way there's not a lot of extra fabric gathered in the elastic waist.  If that makes sense?!
Wearing a rtw shirt and vest here and tucked the shirt in and added a belt to show you how the front rides a little high.  This is actually a little higher than my natural waist but though it was important to show you the entire pant.  Feeling a little frumpy here.
Ahhh, that's better.  The high front waist is a little bit of a bother, but one that's manageable. 
The back rides a little low on me, and next time may do a full butt adjustment.  Bwhahahaha!  Sorry!!  Everytime I say or write that it makes me laugh..... even though it's so true!!!
As I was setting up the camera on our deck this morning for this post, our woodland creatures were oh so active.  You'd be amazed at how much noise squirrels and chipmunks make in the leaves on the forest floor.  So much to my complete amazement... a buck and doe came through as if no human were around!  And oh what noise they made!!!  Thinking I'd missed my chance at a shot, but kept my camera in hand, a few minutes later the most clattering of leaves was heard as this adolescent deer came happily bounding by trying to catch up with mom and dad and sweetly posed for ever a slight second at the top of one of our trails for me.  *insert big smile here*
It's been a very nice morning!
Happy Sewing Everyone!  :)

11.16.2016

A Knit Frilled Bolero, Pattern x from 'Stylish Party Dresses' by Yoshiko Tsukiori

My version of Yoshiko Tsukiori's lovely Frilled Bolero, pattern x from her book 'Stylish Party Dresses' has been recently finished. 
 And as it seems with most of the garments I make, there is a story to tell.
Way back in March 2016, I was thrilled to find this book, 'Stylish Party Dresses' by my one of my most favorite authors Yoshiko Tsukiori, at my local Barnes & Noble.  Having already  made a handful of lovely things from her other books, I knew her patterns usually fit me well and I love her style.  In fact, I am wearing my Monet dress in this post from 'Stylish Dress Book' pattern a, and you can see the other items I've made from her patterns here, here, and here.  About the same time I was reading this book, sweet SaSa posted about her lovely Drape Top she made from the same book and I knew I had to begin a project immediately.  I chose pattern x Frilled Black Bolero.  My Bolero is not black, so I am calling this pattern Frilled Bolero.  :)
In all my happy exuberance, the suggested fabric was not read well  at all, and a very stretchy, thin knit was all cut out, marked and ready to go when I realized polyester georgette was the recommended fabric.  My knit was the furthest thing from a polyester georgette as there could be and I was struck with instant paralysis at my ill-chosen fabric.  *insert big sad face here*  As the happy exuberance was now completely deflated, all was carefully laid aside and life went on.
Then around a month ago, the online Facebook group, Sewalongs & Sewing Contests I'm a part of, inspired me to pull out my one and only UFO (unfinished object) and see if it could be salvaged by a UFO group deadline.  I missed the UFO finish date by a mile, but plugged away and now am very happy with this finished Frilled Bolero.
The knit behaved fairly well for being so thin and stretchy, though to be safe, I sampled e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g before applying to the 'real' fabric.  Luckily I had enough fabric for all the sampling, as I used a lot before this bolero was done!  Not sure why it's twisted on my arm here.  It does fit fairly snug on my upper arm, so it can only be worn with a sleeveless dress.  Was thrilled my Monet dress has the same color blue in its fabric, as this was not the original planned dress to be worn with this bolero.
Love the waterfall frills.  Hard to see in these photos, but it is 2 layers of frills.
Even though it is Fall here (and finally starting to feel like it!), my summer dress worked well with this lightweight bolero styled with black tights and my black shoes.  Not sure what to call these shoes...... boots?  Anyway, surprised myself with how much I like this look!
Okay, let's talk about the construction.  As a person who is not a fan of sewing set-in sleeves because I can never get the sleeve cap ease just right..... after carefully reading the instructions over and over again for the umpteenth time to overcome the fact I did not read them well earlier, it dawned on me I could sew in the sleeves the flat method.  I think this is what it is called.  Where you sew the sleeves in right after sewing the shoulder seams, then when sewing the side seams, you sew the arm seams at the same time.  And yes, it worked like a charm.  I wanted to include the line drawing to the below, right, so you could see how the double frill works.  It is actually a large circle, doubled back on itself.
I cut a size 8, as per my size in Tsukiori's chart, and this was fine for the knit.  Sometimes with knits vs. wovens you need to adjust the sizing, but in this case all was fine.  My biggest fear was stretching out during sewing and/or stretching out once it was worn so the shoulder seams and neckline was stabilized with thin strips of Heat 'n Bond Lite, a fusible tape.  That, coupled with straight stitching seems to be working well.  No stretch stitches were done on this knit, as I was trying to make it behave like a woven.  
Back view.  I was a little disappointed that the double layer of frills don't show better. 
Anyway, after recently completing an Ottobre top with lots of serged rolled hem finishes,  it gave me the idea to finish the edges of the frill with a serged rolled hem and it was the best choice because it gave a nice pretty finish to the frills, and kept everything all drapey and flowy. I was awfully proud of the pretty straight stitching above the frills too.
The sleeve hems were serged first to give the knit a little stability, then turned up and finished with a machine-stitched blind hem.  Love it!
This photo below..... what can I say..... so proud of my work here!  You have no idea how loooooong and how many samples it took for me to get this binding put on with this degree of perfection.  Oh my goodness, it was a major learning curve of hours and hours of bias binding stitching to neckline samples.  But I needed that experience and feel it improved my skill level in this area that was weak.
Inside out.  Here you can see how I chose to finish the inside seams.  This is an unlined bolero and these seams will be seen.  I considered wrapping them in binding, thinking it would also stabilize the bolero, but at the same time was afraid it might alter the design and possibly stretch out the knit with so much to cover, including those lovely curves.  Again, turning to my serger, using 3 threads, I set it at maybe a 1.25 length stitch.... a stitch that is very fine and close together.... and using my differential feed was able to serge all interior seams with no puckers, pulling or stretching AND I love the 'look' of the seams! 
Back view.
Back view of bias binding applied to the neckline..... Yes!!!!  And between stabilizing the seam before any stitching took place with the fusible Heat 'n Bond Lite, then all the straight stitching applying the binding methinks this neckline will not stretch out.  Seems pretty stable now.  Hope so!
As always in sewing, it's always a nice surprise to me when what I thought was a brilliant original plan, becomes something else entirely and is even maybe nicer than I'd imagined.  This little frilled bolero is one of those nice 'surprises', especially paired with this particular dress that was not on my radar at all.  This dress had always sort of been an orphan, with no particular cardi looking proper with it...... so now it has found a friend in the blue knit Frilled Bolero.
Happy Sewing Everyone!  :)

10.28.2016

Corduroy Pillows with Piping and Zipper

Who wants to look at boring custom-made black corduroy pillows, complete with piping and zipper.... when you've got a cute little toy Maltese around!  Yep, thought so.  :)
We enjoy shopping at our local Sam's Club and I could not believe this 60" x 70" gorgeous faux fur leopard throw lined with a most luxurious microfiber suede was only $29.98?!!    Seriously?!  There would be more $$ in the fabric alone to make it myself.  Machine washable and silky soft I knew it must be mine and this one purchase triggered a little re-do of our hearth room.  Ya' know.... coordinating pillows must be made.   There might even be new windows treatments in the works.  Maybe.  ;)
Modeling must be such hard work
Thinking pillows would be a boring post I enlisted Towa's modeling help today.
Cracker?!  Did someone say cracker?!!
The (purchased non-zipper) pillows I had on this loveseat were getting old, but the stuffing was good and the size was perfect.  Using the old pillows as my pattern, I was able to match the cording size for the piping and found enough black corduroy in the stash for pillows around the same size.  Black velour found in the stash was used for the piping.  Kind of thought it'd be nice to have texture on texture even though black just sort of fades into black.  These pillows measures 20 1/4" x 20 1/4" because of fabric limitations.  The old pillows measured 21" x 21" with a 1/2" seam allowance, so figured I was pretty close.  I made 2 identical pillows.
I've made lots of pillows with piping in the past, but never one with a zipper so figured this would be a good chance to learn that process.  I could've used invisible zippers, now that I've got an invisible zipper foot for my machine, but decided to use black all-purpose zippers from the stash because they would never be used in a garment now.  I'm sold on invisible zippers in garments!!  Anyway, got everything cut out and ready to go and found I just could not wrap my head around how to sew the piping AND install the zipper.  A quick Google search later and stumbled on the best video by Peg Baker "How to Sew a Pillow with Piping and Zipper".  She used an all purpose zipper too so I simply followed her easy-to-follow steps and am pleased with how my pillows turned out.  You can see in the photo below the zipper pull I forgot to tuck in for the photograph (whoops!).... and how the zipper butts right up next to the piping at the bottom back.
Another view.... with the zipper pull tucked in.... how it all lays nice and neat.  There is an additional seam that you can see here, where the zipper is sewn in, but I like it.  It's not that noticeable and sort of tucks everything in.  Again, this is at the bottom back of the pillow.
Now that the modeling session is over, little Towa looks more like her usual self.... all happy and sunshine-y.  She's 10+ years now and as you can see from her white eyes, almost completely blind now.  We love her.
And Suzi wants to say hello too this morning!  She's been a part of our lives ever since I gave her to my mother-in-law years ago for a companion dog.  My mother-in-law is unable to live independently anymore, so we are thrilled to have Suzi with us now.
It was fun to pull all the supplies for these two pillows from the stash.  Sometimes that's when it feels more 'creative' to me...... see what I can make with what I have.  Now back to garment sewing!
Happy Sewing Everyone!  :)

10.12.2016

Ottobre Design Woman 05/2016 no. 15 'Like a Warm Hug' top

As our South Carolina mountain weather has cooled a bit..... (finally!), it's a perfectly perfect day to venture off to Devil's Fork State Park wearing my new top.
The first thing that might grab your attention are the exposed serged rolled hem seams.  Front v-neckline, center front, center back, sleeve hems and hem are all serged rolled hems. 
The more I make Ottobre patterns, the more I really like them. 
They seem to be designed for my lifestyle and body shape; so, without too much trepidation, I cut a size 38 and stitched this up with no modifications using a sweater knit with terry pile to the inside purchased at Hobby Lobby for @$6.00/yard.  I used 2 yards.   
It really does sew up looking just like the line drawing.
An initial struggle for me was deciding the best way to create the exposed seams.  Should they be left as raw edges, should they be serged, should they be serged rolled hem with matching thread, contrast thread..... on and on... somewhere along the way the thought struck me to use red.....
 ....so red it became!  Not only did those very visible front and back (and of course side-to-side) stripes have to line up..... there was now the concern of the very visible red seam.  I knew if it was not done properly, the mistakes would be glaring.  Struggling to match the stripes with my new Brother 1634D serger to these high expectations while serging, not to mention too chicken  I could not bring myself to take out the stitch finger to use the rolled hem stitch ability as I did not want any drama getting it back in... I thought of my very old Bernette for Bernina FunLock 006D serger that was placed in retirement a few months ago when the Brother was purchased, and decided it must be brought out of retirement and be used again.  Let me pause here a moment and say.... I love my old serger!  Purchased new in the mid-1990's it has been used ever so much with nary a day in the shop, but the last year or two the left needle thread tension had gone out, so I'd only been using it as a 3-thread serger until I bought the Brother.  The Brother cost about what a shop repair would've been, so figured that was being a good steward of my money.  And I do like the Brother for day to day serging..... but oh my goodness..... the Bernette/Bernina purrs and serges oh-so-smoothly compared to the clunkier Brother.  Anyway.... with a click of a lever, the Bernette/Bernina serges the most beautiful rolled hem AND keeps my fabric moving through more evenly than the Brother, even though both machines have differential feeds.  This top begins by serging a rolled hem on both sides of the front V-neckline.  In the photo below, I've already serged the rolled hem on the neckline and have it set up to serge a rolled hem down the center front.   Thanks to a serendipitous photo Carolyn put on IG showing how she pins both the beginning and end of each stripe, I did the same, below, and it worked beautifully.  You can see a little of how my sweet machine has yellowed with age but still serged beautiful rolled hems on this top.  A workhorse!
 The stripes aren't perfectly matched..... but they are acceptable to me.
When I make this again I'll probably add a little to the hip width.
Side view shows stripe matching there too and may I say it was sooooo much easier stitching right sides together, using my Bernina 1230 sewing machine.  Nothing wiggled or moved while sewing there! 
Instead of the 3/8" stretch grosgrain ribbon the pattern required for binding and stabilizing the back neckline, I used bias binding made from a scrap of coordinating fabric from the stash.  Love the way Ottobre has you bind the back neckline as all raw edges are covered and tucked in nice and neat.
I was afraid I would not like the serged rolled hem for the sleeve and top hem, but find it doesn't bother me at all.
The top goes well with my red Ottobre no. 14 pants.  Overall I really do like this top and can see it getting lots of wear this cooler season!
Also this is the first item completed for the Make a Garment a Month October Challenge of 'Sew One'.  Sarah Liz, our lovely moderator of the Make a Garment a Month group comes up with our creative monthly themes and she can be contacted here if you are interested in participating too.  My take on this theme is to use 1 sleeve pattern for 2 different tops. 
The two tops, no. 15 and no. 8, are circled below.  In this 05/2016 issue, Ottobre designed two different tops with the exposed serged rolled hem as a design feature..... with both tops using the same sleeve pattern.  How cool!
And back to today..... thought it'd be fun to share the very first photo I took this morning when walking upon the sand......
....and the very last.  They flew right over my head.  :)
Happy Sewing Everyone!
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