Friday, December 26, 2014

At least one entry before the year's end

Well, this year has come and almost gone. I entered a contest over at Pattern Review that took much of my time from late October through early December (the PR Sewing Bee.) I was fortunate to make it to the final round and it was an absolutely exhilarating (if not exhausting) sewing experience. 

I am almost done with a bodice sloper for my husband, his pants sloper needs some minor tweaks to fix grain issues before I can finally digitize the pattern into Cameo (from Wild Ginger.) 

In the mean time I am planning a new wardrobe capsule based on some tips found on the Vivienne Files blog. I haven't figured out what the color palette will be yet, trying to sift through my stash to see how much I can pull together without adding more fabric to the collection. 

My fabric fast for 2014 resulted in a 75% decrease in spending compared to 2013. If I can manage to sew at half the rate that I found myself doing for the PR Sewing Bee, I might be in really good shape before our move in 2015! 

I hope all of you enjoy the remaining few days of this year. I plan to be a bit better about updating on here in the next few weeks- my sewing groove was given a great jump start back to life because of the Sewing Bee and I have a few things to share. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

From 2D to 3D

My sister joined me for a few days last week for Thanksgiving. The weather was quite awful in the area before turkey day (it was just the two of us this year so we actually made a Peruvian chicken) but I took the forced indoor time to draft a bodice and skirt sloper for J. 

I then transferred the drafted pattern onto muslin, added 2" seam allowances and then pin-fit the pieces to her body. I don't think my bodice draft was too far off of her actual body shape, but my draft for her sleeve and skirt were too long. 

I had the hardest time pinning the sleeves onto the bodice. In class last night we started fitting sleeves. I also had my bodice fitted last night, and apparently I did not do as great of a drafting job as I did for my sister's pattern. I barely had enough fabric in a couple of areas and will need to make some adjustments before my sleeve is fit next week. 

Unfortunately my sister is now back in Illinois and I can't do any more physical tweaking of the sloper on her body. Overall I think I did a decent job given my lack of experience in pin fitting- I've only watched it being done up until last week. 

Here's J all muslined up. I worked on pin fitting her left side. I still see some issues with the bust, neckline, back sleeve/bodice, and center front (although I think this problem was due to poor pinning for the picture), all of which I'll have to judiciously adjust on the flat pattern. Maybe next time she's in town I'll make a duct tape dummy. She'll just *love* that...  

It was really satisfying taking a flat pattern and adjusting it on a live body. I wish I had a custom dress form to be able to do that for myself. 

The next step is transferring the adjustments back onto a master paper pattern.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Trying a new sewing schedule

I was thinking about enhancing the efficiency of my time in the sewing room and came up with a simple schedule. It's based on activities to perform for each day of the week:

Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays: Sewing/Making up my projects

Tuesday and Thursdays: Trace, cut, alter, plan patterns/projects

Wednesdays: Writing and reading sewing blogs, tutorials, forums, books; organize sewing room

Fridays: Finishing projects

It's a very rudimentary system but hopefully it'll keep me focused.

I am taking a pattern drafting course at the local fabric store, we drafted front and back bodices yesterday. The instructor uses Connie Crawford's pattern drafting book, and took my measurements to demonstrate the process for drafting the front. I kept her draft (mine ended up pretty close) and re-drafted another bodice front and back using Helen Armstrong's book.

Armstrong's pattern is on the left, Crawford on the right, drafted by the instructor:

Here's my Armstrong back bodice: 

I was quite surprised at the squareness of my front shoulders, there was a very small slope with the Crawford pattern, none at all with Armstrong's instructions. 

The Crawford back bodice didn't have a shoulder dart. I need to re-draft that one because the waist measurements do not add up to what it needs to be. 

For class next week we're doing a review of drafting the front and back, and then working on a sleeve.

After we have all three patterns we will be sewing the patterns in muslin fabric and adjusting it on my body. 

At this point the front and back don't look like it'll come together (look at the shoulder differences!) but we've been assured it'll all work itself out when we pin and fit to the torso. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Winter 2013 6 PAC

Before 2013 comes to an end, I thought I'd make at least one blog post. I've been busy studying for my CPA exams, my first one is in 17 days! I do try to get some sewing related time in each day, even if it's just to plan or trace patterns. 

Speaking of planning, I just finished putting together my first SWAP project. I am participating in the 6 piece winter collection thread over at Stitcher's Guild. Hopefully between the winter holidays, exams, and my fun classes (I finally got into the pointed pen calligraphy class this fall!), this board will become a reality over the next few months.

I'll be making some wearable muslins for the patterns I have not made before, those are the brown and purple fabrics (the purple one is a cotton pique). The rest will be made out of either cotton or wool knits. 

The patterns:
Jalie 2795, a hoodie (in the beige sweatshirting)
Jalie 2806, long sleeve t-shirt with a gathered neckline (teal cotton knit)
Kwik Sew 1084, raglan sweater (purple ribbed wool knit)
Vogue 2759, gathered long sleeve top (the same purple wool knit? The wearable muslin will be the black cotton knit)
Kwik Sew 3988 and Silhouette Patterns 3400, yoga pants (brown wool knit)

I'm excited to have some new clothes for my wardrobe. This one is meant to be a pretty casual collection to keep me warm and comfortable during those long study sessions.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ruby Slip review

I can't believe my last post on here was back in March! With this year quickly coming to a close I'll have to make a goal to share more projects. 

I returned back to school this summer to work towards obtaining credits required to sit for the CPA exams. Hopefully by the end of 2013 I will be celebrating the completion of this entire process. Until then, my life revolves around school- which I don't mind at all. Life is relatively simple being a college student.

Speaking of academics, I plan to take as many in-residence couture sewing classes with Susan Khalje as I can next year. They are super pricey but they will be my reward/incentive for getting through the entire CPA certification process. This also means I need to put myself on a strict schedule to get my current sewing skills up to par. I want to go into these classes with a solid hand-sewing and tailoring foundation so that I can build advanced skills during my time with the masters. The first courses begin in September so I have less than a year to practice.. yikes!

In the meantime, here are some pictures and a review for my most recent garment sewing project. 

Pattern Description:
Slip with bias skirt and lace bodice. You can download the free pattern and follow the previous sew-along blog entries here:

Pattern Sizing:

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?

Were the instructions easy to follow?
The written instructions along with its photo tutorials were extremely helpful. This was the first time I have worked with lace and it definitely helped having the step-by-step support.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
This was a super easy pattern which resulted in a high-end looking product.

Fabric Used:
Italian silk charmeuse and Swiss-made Venice lace trim from Fabricmart. I also used a couple of plastic lingerie bra rings to make the straps adjustable. The lace was a bit stiff to work with and I don’t know if I would use this particular trim for this sort of application again. It softened up a little after hand washing and the slight heaviness helped the bodice maintain its shape.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I had a difficult time matching the lace motif at center front to create a seamless, mirrored look on the lace. I ended up hand stitching the front two pieces together and clipped through the back layers as well as I could. I serged the edges on all the lace pieces, top stitching the open seams to decrease the bulk. I used French seams on the charmeuse and a rolled hem foot for the bottom edge of the skirt.

I didn’t have the opportunity to fit this slip for my friend (the pattern was cut based on her measurements) so I wanted to make the straps adjustable. I used a ready-to-wear slip to figure out how these straps were attached, the smaller areas were hand stitched in place because there just isn’t a way to get in there with a sewing machine.    

Front view
Back view

Lace bodice back
Lace bodice front

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I already have some lace and silk set aside for sewing some slips for myself. So yes, I would definitely recommend this pattern to others!

I made this slip as a bridal shower gift for a dear friend from childhood. I’m thrilled with how it turned out and she was very touched that I gave her a hand-made gift. I included a bottle of Eucalan laundry wash with her package to help care for her new lingerie.

Because this was a gift, I took extra time placing, cutting, and sewing the lace and silk throughout the entire project. I think ambitious beginners can make this pattern if they’re patient with the process. It is a fabulous pattern to make some beautiful lingerie!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Fighting against the UFOs

I decided this past weekend I was going to conquer all of my unfinished projects in the sewing room this year. Fortunately I don't have too many and if I can dedicate one Sunday each month I should be able to complete (or finally dump!) these by the beginning of summer. 

This past Sunday I worked on a baby quilt my friend Carol had pieced together last summer before I left Korea. I was in charge of quilting, binding, and sending it to baby Andrew (who was born last September). I haven't practiced my free motion techniques in awhile and decided to stitch in the ditch when quilting this blanket.

I am so glad this is finally done. I still need to perfect hand stitching the back of mitered corners, the front looks pretty nice but I can't seem to create the same crisp folds on the other side. 

Preparing backing, batting, and quilt top

Stitch in the ditch

Busy backing fabric helps hide any stitching imperfections

Off to baby Andrew this will go!


Saturday, February 25, 2012

A visual how-to for cutting bias binding

I found this technique online at some point, it's definitely not my original idea. I don't remember where it came from, if any of you can help me make the proper attribution please let me know.

I like this method because it doesn't require marking the fabric and I can cut a lot of tape in very little time, especially if I start with a one yard piece of fabric. I've written brief instructions on the pictures. Please let me know if anything needs clarification.

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Step 4

Step 5

Step 6

Step 7

Step 8