Paris Velvet-Project One

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I’ve been so excited about my two luscious pieces of silk/rayon velvet that I purchased in Paris. By the way, I washed and dried both pieces as soon as I got home, and they came out of the dryer in perfect condition. Now the search for what to do with them…

After looking around Pinterest and with memories of a beloved rust bomber jacket from years ago I decided that the rust colored velvet should become a Rigel Bomber from Papercut Patterns in New Zealand. While waiting for the pattern to arrive (It took almost 3 weeks!), I decided to try a bit of snow dying to have a few coordinates for the velvet.

I’ve done most types of dying, but something about scooping up a bunch of snow outside my studio door and dumping it on my fabric was a novel approach. The basic process involves first soaking the fabric in soda ash diluted with water. The second step is folding or scrunching your fabric in a flat plastic container and dumping a bucket of snow (or ice) on top. The third step is to simply scatter dry fiber reactive dye on top and let the whole thing melt and process for 24 hours. There are plenty of detailed instructions on the Internet if you want to know more, but this was the easiest dying ever!

Velvet-and-coordinates

Here are the results with my two pieces of Paris velvet. I loved the simplicity of the process including the surprise results the next day. I processed one piece of PFD (prepared for dying) white Kaufman Radiance fabric, and one piece of PFD rayon/silk velvet from Dharma Trading each in their own tubs. Now I have a hip lining and a coordinating piece of velvet that I hope to use with the purple velvet.

One thing about the Rigel Bomber is the lack of a lining. Almost all of the sewists out there are drafting their own lining pattern, and that is what I did. I also cut the interfacing out of the velvet, but had nothing but problems with it. Velvet is a VERY difficult fabric to sew with and with the zipper I just couldn’t get it to work out for me. Instead I recut the interfacing pieces out of the lining fabric. I could have made this one piece, but unfortunately by this point I didn’t have enough fabric to cut a second one-piece lining.

For all the velvet seams I used ¼” Lite Steam-A-Seam to keep the fabric from slipping while I sewed the jacket parts together. It worked like a charm and I would recommend the extra step to save one’s sanity while sewing velvet. The cuffs, collar, and waist ribbing all came from The Rain Shed. There is a website, but you still need to call them, and they are super helpful on the phone. The cuffs are ready made so have no seams and they even have colors, but I still decided to go with black.

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The runways have shown plenty of embroidered bombers for a season or two and I thought it would be fun to do a bit of embroidery with my new machine. I purchased the Parisian themed designs from Urban Threads. While I’m developing my skills at designing my own embroidery, I think this set is perfect for this project. I tried the back embroidery once and wasn’t happy with the outcome, but luckily we had a Husqvarna Viking sewing expert, Alix Graham-Michel, give a class last week and my second embroidery came out perfect. Thanks Alix!

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Au Revoir!

Pants that Fit!

I decided that a classic straight-leg pant would flatter me more than a skinny pant, but where to find a selection eluded me. Yes, I could find black, but for a straight-leg it seemed there should be other choices. Oh yeah, I sew! This led me to buy the Craftsy class The Pants Sloper by Suzy Furrer. This may not be my most exciting post, but what a challenge! The sewers will understand, and my next post is lots more fun….

To my non-sewing friends, a sloper is the most basic fit pattern that you use to develop other patterns. The sloper can then be made into wide-leg pants, tailored pants with a waistband, or any other shape one wants. I’m looking forward to making some wide leg linen pants for summer.

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Furrer is very clear and easy to follow, but my first muslin was too small. Hint, listen to the teacher and don’t take your own measurements! I also missed one step in the drafting…sigh. The second sloper was close, but needed some adjustments. The third try was made with a yucky fashion fabric that I’d saved from the trash just for this purpose. Eureka!

Pants-sloper

So after days of measuring and sewing I have a pair of pants that fit fairly well. I think this pair is just a touch large, but probably just needs a little adjustment since the fabric is stretch. In addition, I’ll be lowering the hem by the time this post is published, but I’m very pleased overall.

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The fabric is a fantastic stretch woven from MarcyTilton.com (no longer available). Since the fabric is stretch I was able to make the sloper without any alterations to the waist. I even kept the darts so I wouldn’t have any gathers at the waist. I just added a nice wide piece of elastic and interfacing at the waist for a smooth front.

The class was excellent and I can highly recommend going through the process. I plan on taking her other sloper classes soon, and even purchased her book, Building Patterns, The Architecture of Women’s Clothing. Obviously I like a good challenge!

Match it, Match it good!

I finally finished the plaid shirt! I’ve never spent so much time on a project with this inexpensive of a fabric, but I’m glad I did. I posted my hopes and intentions on my last blog. That sure put me on the spot, and I needed to follow through. May not do that again…

IMG_2307To add complication, I decided to make a pattern from my favorite shirt shown on the left. There are two of these are in my closet in different colors. I’ve only drafted a pattern a few times, and never with a complex piece of clothing (darts, pleats, placket, pockets). The drafting went well, but the first muslin was too small. I know it looks great on Roxanne, but she is the size I want to be. LOL

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After adjusting the pattern I jumped right in without a second muslin. Frankly, I couldn’t wait to post this, but a few fitting adjustments still need to be done on the final shirt. The changes then need to be documented on the final pattern for next time, and there will be a next time!Plaid-shirt4

Referring back to the last post, most of my stated design goals were accomplished in the shirt. Two related coordinating fabrics are used to break up all that plaid. My new embroidery machine performed flawlessly, and I smile at the unexpected fine embroidery on the casual flannel fabric.Embroidery DetailThe final desire was an interesting back pleat, and on the diagonal. The uneven plaid was tough to match in back, but at least I avoided matching the sides.Plaid-back

However, the sides came out well despite my not even trying. Don’t you love it when things just work out like that? Is this what you expected after reading my first blog?Plaid-back-side

Plaid Shirt…coming soon!

So much to share and so little time! As promised months ago I plan on sewing slower in 2016 and showing you more process, including how I come up with my ideas. This may be my last blog of 2015, but I plan on starting in January with lots of new projects.

The big news: I bought a new sewing/embroidery machine! It’s a Husqvarna Viking Epic, and this baby is huge! The embroidery hoops are as large as 360 x 360 mm (14” x 14”). The Epic has all kinds of new features that I will be exploring in 2016. What sold me on this machine over other brands? Well for one thing, There’s great dealership close by called The Sewing Circle. But best of all, the machine is spectacular. It has a large (iPad size) touch screen. Then there are tons of beautiful stitches including appliqué, sequin and very large decorative stitches, not to mention the embroidery function. The instructions are on the machine screen, so I stitched an embroidery pattern right out of the box! The machine has Wi-Fi capability so it can be upgraded, and stitches can be uploaded without dealing with a usb stick. Usb will disappear sooner than later. Wi-Fi is the way of the future, so this was important to me. I’m already planning projects to use the new features.

That leads me to my next project. This time, instead of showing you the finished project, I’m going to try and explain my thought process before I even start sewing. My BSF and I spotted some wonderful thick flannel plaid at Jo Ann’s Fabric (of all places!). We both thought of a warm winter shirt to wear on casual days.

Well I don’t want to make just a shirt. That’s fine, but what else can we do to take this to the next level of design? First it’s off to Pinterest to get some ideas flowing. What struck me was how many times I had pinned plaid (or tweed) with floral appliqué or embroidery. I have started a new board named Project Ideas where I can pin inspirational photos for upcoming projects. The board currently includes this shirt plus some ideas for the silk velvet purchased in Paris. You are welcome to follow me on Pinterest!jacobean-plaid

Second, BSF and I decide it’s time for further inspiration by purchasing an accent fabric. I found these two florals and bought 2/3 of a yard each. 1 yard was too much and a ½ yard seemed too little! At this point, I was thinking the darker, smaller print for facings and the larger print for an appliqué or two.

But wait! I decide to buy this new sewing machine that embroiders. Of course I go online to see what is out there in the world of pre-designed embroidery patterns and find a set of Jacobean florals that almost match my fabric!Jacobean-Fabric-and-Embroidery

One of the great things about searching the Internet is I didn’t know I was working with a Jacobean style floral. Isn’t it fun to learn something new? The threads of this embroidery can be changed to match the cotton floral fabric. Now the design process is getting exciting!

Third, the pattern needs to be picked and/or altered Here is a mood board of my favorites from the Pinterest file. mood-boardThe grey and black tunic from Soft Surroundings (bottom right) is the closest to the shape I want, but I love the bias pleats of the Alexander McQueen shirt (top right). The shapes of these two shirts aren’t completely compatible since the McQueen shirt would be boxy in shape.

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I made the shirt on the left last January with pleats in the back, but I can stitch the pleats together at the waist similar to the shirt to the right.

Now it’s time to start cutting, sewing and embroidering, so this is where I will leave everyone hanging  (hopefully) in anticipation! I still need to decide where to place the accent fabrics and embroideries, but I think I will decide as I cut out the pattern. Some things need to be spontaneous. You will all have to let me know if the final shirt looks like you imagined from this post.

Adventures in Italy and France with my BSF: Part 1 Italy

I’m back (and over the jet-lag) from our wonderful adventures in Italy and France and it could not have been more fun. The weather was perfect, in fact almost too warm for the cold weather clothes we packed! My BSF and I simply had a wonderful time, and our week with the Tilton sisters was fantastic.Positano Steps

The first two days were all travel to our first destination in Italy. Two planes, two trains and we were exhausted. Finally, a charming young Italian gentleman met us at the door of our train in Salerno. He was holding our name up on a sign, and Debra and I almost hugged him!  We were so relieved to be done with the complex travel changes of the last two days.

On the way, our driver calls the hotel and speaks Italian and then explains the streets are too small to park right in front. You have to picture this: the two of us get to our hotel and a porter meets us at the car and takes our two big bags. We start to follow him up some steps with out purses and carry on luggage. Then up a few more steps under a covered walkway. Then more steps to turn a corner, and then there are more steps! I had a breakdown at about 60 steps. My FORMER BSF, Debra looks down from the last 10 steps and starts laughing at me from the hotel entry! We both found it funny a few minutes later, and our adventure had officially begun.

Anna and DebraMy daughter Anna met us in Positano. She lives in Sicily and is getting married to a lovely Italian man in 2016…lots to talk about! She showed us the ropes of how to order fabulous food in Italy.

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The view from our hotel balcony was stunning, and Italian linen and clothes made from the linen fills the stores in Positano. We both bought a piece of clothing since it was warmer than expected. It’s always good to have an excuse to shop! In one store the seamstress didn’t speak english, but we had one word in common, she was sewing on a “Bernina”. After 4 days of relaxation we were ready to head to Rome for a few days of true tourist. I won’t bore you with lots of tourist photos of Rome, but here are a few highlights.Near-Coloseum-web

We are by the Coliseum walking around the ruins, and just being tourists for a day. I’m wearing one of my 45 minute turtlenecks and a hidden zipper scarf. It was still too warm to wear the sweaters and coats that we both made for the trip.Nun-Bride-and-Groom

Love this scene…so Rome!

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We had a tour of the Vatican Museums including the Sistine Chapel. It’s an overwhelming museum and there were bits and pieces of sculpture lining the hallways. I call this photo “Big foot and the Putti”…I so wish I had a band.

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The last night in Rome we had pizza and a movie in our room watching our iPad. Paris on the next post, and I promise we will be wearing the clothes we made!

Tried and True

stripe-tunic_3I thought I was going to take this to Europe, but decided against it because of the weight. The two stripe knits are wool that I washed first, and while very comfy to wear it’s a little bulky to pack. I used my TNT pattern Vogue 8962 which I love to sew with striped fabric because of the back detail. Isn’t this a fun back? stripe-tunic_4I didn’t have enough fabric so I cut the pieces out with a corner missing, thinking that something could be done with the other color to fill in the missing piece. I think the split tail is kind of fun, so I ended up just leaving it and adding the square on the upper back for balance. I also didn’t have enough fabric for the cowl neck. I pieced both colors for the top, then decided that it would be more comfortable to have cotton knit instead of wool around my neck. I love having a stash in my favorite colors just for something like this!stripe-tunicI‘m in Paris at this point, but hoping to have photos to post soon!

Leaving for Paris and Rome

It’s been over a month since I’ve posted an entry! I haven’t been idle, but busy getting ready for my trip. For the first part of the trip my BSF and I are flying to Rome, then visiting my step-daughter in Positano. Then we return to Rome for a few days and then off to Paris with Marcy and Katherine Tilton! I can barely sleep, but haven’t had the time to take photographs. I wanted to catch up before I left so I’ll be posting a couple of entries to show up now, and in a week or so. Posting on vacation will depend on lots of factors, so I won’t promise, but I’m sure to have a few photos to post on our return.

Without further ado, here is my last piece of clothing for the vacation. discharge-silk-shirt_3

I used Vogue 8746 for the basis of this heavy silk shirt, but with quite a few changes. The silk came from Elfriede’s Fabrics in Boulder. She can always find something for a special project.

The discharge dying is what really stands out and I had so much fun dipping this beautiful dark brown silk in (horrors!) bleach. Yes, I know silk can dissolve in bleach, but I didn’t have the patience to order the appropriate product from Dharma Trading. I tested about 5 samples, which serendipitously turned mustard yellow a color in my travel palette. I did have a stop-bleach product so at least that part of the discharge process was correct. I decided to go for it. What happened? Some of the shirt panels started to dissolve!! Arggh!…Cool… a design opportunity is knocking.
discharge-silk-shirt_4I took some soft fusible knit interfacing and ironed it on the back of golden part of the fabric. Then I started to scribble with my sewing machine to hold the fabric together. Vertical red lines connect the scribbles. While it would be smarter in the future to order the correct product, I’m thrilled with the result.

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There were several alterations to the pattern. I brought the shoulders in, and added a pleat in the back stitched closed at the neck and waist. A piece of LFN labyrinth tape at the top adds design and strength.

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The original hem is a shirt-tail hem and I extended the straight hem to the bottom of the tail, then added slits to the side. Then finally, I didn’t want the fussiness of a cuff, but kept the little pleat at the cuff line.

I almost forgot! In the end I made another hidden zipper scarf to match!discharge-silk-shirt_5

Travel Vest

Travel-Vest_2I’ve been holding off blogging about this vest because it is almost done. Yes, I made a mistake, which I’m prone to do more often than I admit on this blog! It’s not a big deal and I have an interesting fix in mind, but I had photographed it before I realized the problem. So here is the vest just the way it is, and yes I can wear it this way. If I have time to fix the mistake, I’ll re-blog the fix. In the meantime the only hint is that the collar isn’t correct.Travel-Vest_1

The khaki color reminded me of a safari vest, but I think embroidered silk is a fun replacement for canvas. The lining is the mat side of a red silk charmeuse. Both fabrics are from the fabulous Elfriede’s Fabrics in Boulder, Colorado.Travel-Vest

I used Kwik Sew #3930 as the base pattern. I like the ties at the neck, but wanted a button at the waist. To keep the gathered waist, lining the vest allowed for a casing between the fashion fabric and the lining with a bit of ribbon and a piece of elastic for comfort. The zipper pocket detail from the Moto Jacket replaced the patch pockets giving me another safe spot for valuables or just glasses and lip gloss.

Now you see it, now you don’t

Hidden-Scarf_1

Of course, I need a scarf or two for stylish Paris. On the internet, I noticed a scarf with a hidden pocket for travel. Oooh! good idea! My BSF and I got together and made one, and then I made a second one today. These fabrics coordinate with my travel wardrobe so they should look great with my outfits.
Hidden-ScarfSee that little white piece of paper sticking out of the scarf on the left side? That’s where the pocket is. Pretty handy place to keep that extra stash of important stuff.

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A cozy knit will feel good against the skin for this second scarf. The fabric is left over from my two recent 45-minute turtlenecks. Hidden-Scarf_2Hidden-Scarf_3Now you see it, now you don’t! zipper-install

Simply add an invisible zipper to the first side seam while sewing up the scarf. Above is the open zipper and the two pieces of fabric that will turn into the pockets. Then I just finish the tube up with a twist to make an infinity scarf.

Two scarves should be plenty, however I have yet to do a travel mock-up of my outfits. The next week should include some sewing and some planning to find where the missing pieces are. There is still time to sew another piece or two! 5 weeks and 4 days to Paris and Rome!

45-Minute Turtleneck

After last week’s post of the complicated moto jacket I decided to give myself some instant gratification. Turtlenecks are inexpensive to buy as long as you want black! A muted teal green or the perfect taupe is almost impossible to find. I used to have a purchased funnel neck turtleneck (in black of course) that I loved, but it faded and I tossed it into the Goodwill pile.45mintneck_2webThe Debra Zebra Top by Style ARC is a simple three-piece pattern that sews up in 45-minutes! If you add cutting the three pieces then maybe an hour from start to finish. I did have to make alterations before it became the 45-minute wonder. One must purchase a Style Arc pattern in a single size. I choose a 12 and my first try fit perfectly…too perfectly. Every lump, bump and bra strap showed! The shoulders, sleeves and armhole fit well, but the neck was even too tight. I have very little experience with pattern alterations, but it seemed to me that a pivot from the shoulder would open up the pattern to the bust area and then another pivot would keep that open line straight down. It looks like a FBA but flatter and no dart in the end. It worked! The neck was a simple addition to the seams.45mintneckpattern_web

I proceeded to make two more tops in about 2-1/2 hours, including changing thread etc.45mintneck-back

The seams are serged with very little pinning. The hems are finished with a double needle in my sewing machine. I can do a cover stitch with my serger, but not in 45 minutes! The other advantage of a double needle is the wider choice of thread colors for the hem. BTW, do you know that double needles come in a stretch needle? I didn’t until my Amazon account suggested them.45mintneck_1web