Saturday, November 29, 2014

Early Christmas

I recently had the opportunity to buy a slightly used Bernina 710, so I'm considering it an early Christmas present to myself. It has way more bells and whistles than the Activa 140 I've been using, and I'm enjoying it a lot. So far, I've made the sweater set that I recently showed you, a pair of pajama pants, and another sweater knit shell (from the Loes Hinse pattern, but it goes with this cardigan that I made a few years ago).

In addition to the machine, a lot of accessories--a table, knee lift, extra bobbins, accessory case, cover, and some feet.

I'm keeping the Activa as a back-up and class machine, while this one will mostly live in the Sewing Cave. It's portable but kind of big to be hauling around.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Loes Hinse Sweater Set

This pattern has been around for quite some time, but this is the first time I've made it up. I traced it out in a combination of Medium and Large, which is typical of  how I trace designs for this pattern line.

The fabric is an acrylic/rayon sweater knit that I discovered at Hancock Fabrics in the fall of 2011. It looks like wool and was easy to cut out and sew. I haven't seen any lately but it does pop up from time to time, so I'll be keeping an eye out for more.

I made both pieces of the set. Here's the shell, which has stash buster potential. It takes less than a yard of 60" wide fabric. There is a seam down the front, but that should be pretty easy to eliminate if a different look is needed.

And here's the cardigan all by itself. It also came together very easily, more so than some McVogueRick patterns that I've used in the past. 

I'll be making more versions of this pattern based on how well this effort came out.  I even have fabric for the next set picked out already!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Loes Hinse Tango Skirt for Fall

Yeah, I know. You're probably thinking..."What? Another Tango?" Yes, this one that you've probably seen in various versions a hundred times.

I can't help it. I really love this skirt because it's so pretty on and so easy to make. This one is made of some rayon that I bought from Fabric Mart many years ago. I'm planning to wear this one with tall boots and I'm still trying out sweaters to wear with it. Here I've paired it with another TNT pattern, my Kwik Sew 2565 T shirt, but I also have a couple of RTW sweaters that would work.

I took this picture last night after Material Girls when it was already dark outside and too late for me to model it on the front patio. But I promise that you'll see it on me at some point. And you'll probably keep seeing new ones too.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Simplicity 2777-Arkivestry Gown

This is not one of my usual garments, but a friend asked me if I could make this for a project he's involved in. It sounded interesting so I agreed to help him out.

The fabric started out as white silk chiffon, then he painted it with Setacolor  to get the red he wanted. You can also see the gold accents he added, but it's difficult to see all the effects he added from applying the paint over scrunched up plastic and adding accents of other colors. The paint does not affect the hand of the fabric too much, but made it easier to handle.

The pattern is this one from Simplicity:

There is a lot of ease in this pattern, to say the least. I made it in the smallest size in the envelope (6) and I was able to try it on with plenty of room to spare.

I originally intended to have French seams throughout, but ended up switching over to serged. I kept sewing the French seams backward because I couldn't tell right side from wrong. Either way, I think it's fine since both types read as narrow seams from the surface of the gown.

I do have a couple of gripes about this pattern that I'll remedy if I ever make it again. I initially thought that the neckline was a casing; it is not. The instructions call for a gathered neckline that's a production to make. And I still don't know what they mean by 2" wide "novelty ribbon braid", which is supposed to encase the raw edge of the gathered neckline. C'mon Simplicity, you own a company that sells trim! So throw us a bone will ya, and tell us what you want us to use! It's not as if there's a copyright issue or anything. I couldn't find a trim fitting this description locally, so I punted and used the neckline technique from the blouse views. Still gathering like crazy, but this version has you narrow hem the raw edge and sew narrow ribbon over the gathers, forming ties. I think it's reasonably successful:

There are two layers of ribbon on mine. I bought satin and organza ribbons to play with. The organza was a little weak for gathering onto, and the satin was a little bright. So I gathered onto the satin and applied the organza on top to knock back the shine. I actually like the ruffled edge, so I hope my friend will too.

The gathers were made by zigzagging over dental floss laid on the gathering line. Excellent technique if bringing in a large quantity of fabric. However, turning under a casing and inserting elastic would have also accomplished this effect with less effort.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Vogue 2637 Evening Skirt

It's been a while since I posted. But in my absence, I've been working on a sewing project in addition to working some crazy hours. Our niece's wedding was October 11 and I needed something to wear. I already had part of an ensemble, starting with a sweater I bought last holiday season from Coldwater Creek but never wore. It was an orphan piece, so I decided to make a matching skirt. I found an excellent match at Silk Baron, so while waiting for the Evergreen silk dupioni to arrive, I began auditioning patterns.

My first choice was the Iris Skirt from LaFred. Unfortunately, this pattern line is no longer in production due to the untimely death of its creator but the design is classic. I traced it off and made a prototype out of one of the many cuts of fabric I bought from the Vera Wang liquidation. This one:

The Iris Skirt pattern is really great. The pattern is well drafted and the view I chose includes lining pieces for a kick pleat. The guide sheet has excellent instructions for installing an invisible zipper, too. I loved putting it together, but quickly realized that it would take longer to perfect the pattern than the time I had available. I've set it aside for now and will revisit it later. A good pencil skirt (with pockets!) is definitely worth developing into a TNT pattern.

By this time the dupioni had arrived and was prepared for sewing by machine washing and drying. I usually prewash dupioni because it knocks down the shine and mitigates the risk of water spotting.  I decided to revisit a TNT pattern that I had successfully used before, Vogue 2637. This is an early 1990s pattern that I previously used for my wedding so I knew it would work.

Like the view of the Iris Skirt that I tried, it's a pencil style with pockets and a kick pleat. But this skirt has an elastic waist instead of a zipper. That's ok because I had not planned to tuck in the matching sweater.

When making the skirt, I underlined the dupioni with flannel. This is a technique I learned from Sandra Betzina and Kenneth King's books. Underlining strengthens the garment and prevents wrinkling when wearing. My mom also used this technique when making dance costumes for me and my sister--it makes the garment look more luxe as well. I have plenty of flannel in my stash and just used one of them. The print doesn't show through the dark fabric.

I also lined the skirt to finish it. Because I had made it before, I had already drafted a lining pattern The poly charmeuse is (again) just something from my stash. It's a nice surprise to have a pretty print inside.

Wedding activities started around 3 pm and continued late into the evening, and the skirt performed perfectly through the ceremony, photos (in the cold!), pre-reception cocktails, and reception dinner with dancing.  The only thing I would have changed is to snug up the waistband a little bit more. I did the fitting without wearing shape wear, but added spanx for the wedding (which I forgot to wear in the photo above!). Oh well, still wearable and easily fixable in the future.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Kwik Sew 2565, Again

I hope you're not getting tired of seeing the many versions of this TNT. I know it pops up often, but when it's a wardrobe basic and tweaked exactly as wanted, what else can I do? At least the fabric is  different each time, as with this one:

I used an incredibly soft rayon knit from Gorgeous Fabrics that I bought this Spring.

I also added a slight mullet hem to this one, because a) I'm on a roll and b) the lower edge of the pattern is not absolutely straight due to a non-darted FBA. I'm at a slight angle in the photo; however the curve is actually centered.

The pants are the same Hudson Pant from TSW that I showed you in the last post. The linen was another purchase from Gorgeous Fabrics.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Revisiting the Eureka Top by TSW

I'm still not ready to let this pattern go so I made another out of the woven crinkle rayon that I used for the Asymmetrical Skirt. The crinkles approximate the stretch of a knit, and I still have a lot of it left over.

This time, I made a couple of changes. I left off the sleeve bands and simply turned up a narrow hem instead. I also made a slight "mullet" hem, with the back longer than the front, and turned up a narrow hem there as well.

The result is a very loose fitting, swingy top that I like better than the original.  It also makes a nice ensemble when combined with the skirt. Thanks for the suggestion,  Janine! Here are a few shots of that:

Also, I couldn't resist a Shams-style twirly shot so you can see the skirt in motion:

Yes, Summer is officially over, but it's still warm and it's fiesta time, so I'll still get some wear out of this before the weather gets too cool.

PS-the black pants are the Hudson Pant by The Sewing Workshop (aka TSW) made from linen I bought from Gorgeous Fabrics last year.