Thursday, August 16, 2012

Fabric Shopping

Anyone who reads this blog understands that I love sewing, and I have since I was a very small child!  I enjoy the process from beginning to end.  I was strictly a garment sewist for a very long time.  I started quilting when we were expecting the arrival of our first grandchild in 2001. 

My very favorite part of the process has to be picking out the fabrics.  I love the planning stage of any type of project.  Coming up with a pattern and having a picture in my mind of the finished product, and then trying to come up with the materials just makes my juices flow!

One of my favorite places to be is any fabric department of any store... but of course I have my favorites!! 
These days, I shop for garment fabric from my stash, and when I can't find the right thing there, I have to travel out of town, or shop the Internet.  <Sigh>

Sewists are by nature tactile beings.  We need to touch and feel.  We see as much with our fingers as with our eyes.  I dare anyone who sews even a little to walk through their local fabric source and not touch SOMETHING while they're walking the aisles!!  Nope, can't do it!

So learning to shop on the Internet has been a challenge for me.  For quilting cottons, it's not so bad.  You can learn a fabric line or buy a designer, and you just have to be a little concerned that the colors on the screen are what you really want. 

With garment fabric it's a bit more challenging.  You can learn the various types of fabric, and what they are expected to feel like, or how they would drape.  Books like Fabric Savvy and More Fabric Savvy from Sandra Betzina can help.

But if you really want to know how the fabric will FEEL, if that's important to you before you buy, shopping on line can be very hard.  That's why it's so important to find out some things about your on line retailer.  What is their return policy if the fabric is just not what you thought it would be?  And can you order a swatch, and will it be large enough for you to determine whether it's suitable?

Soapbox warning!!  If you work for a chain store you can turn away for a few second...

I am a big believer in supporting local merchants!  If there's a store in the area that carries what I need, I don't buy on line, even if I can get something a little cheaper.  Because if I'm not helping to support those local stores all the time, sooner or later they close up.  Then we're stuck with fabric from whoever stays in the area, and the choices dry up!  So shop your local merchants, and thank them for being in business in your area!

OK, off the soapbox now.  You can look again.

Enjoy your next fabric shopping trip.  Look around, you might see me there!

Sew On.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Goals, Sewing Goals

I confess.  I am a person with way more ideas than time.  If I made half of all of the things I daydream about making, well, let's just say I'd have a lot more wearable clothing and a lot less stash!

I stopped at Joann's last night to pick up a pattern I keep seeing on Pattern Review.  It gets raves.  It's a fairly simple dress with a draped neckline and a cap sleeve and straight skirt, Vogue 1250. 

There were a couple of other patterns from other lines that had the same neckline shape, but what I liked about this one was the back detail... a back waist seam gives a place for adjustment if you're long waisted like I am.  I have the world's shortest legs, but my back waist measurement is two inches longer than 'standard'.  I never made a dress with a waist seam that didn't need 2 inches in the bodice.

I think one of the things that really made me want to make up this pattern (as opposed to the several million others I already own) was that Pattern Review had photos of several women in two digit sizes who made it and looked fabulous in it.

If you're not familiar with Pattern Review, you should go there and take a look. will get you there.  Scroll down in the left panel and click on Sewing Pattern Reviews.  You can see some stuff without charge or buy a Friends of PR membership and get enhanced services.  I AM NOT BEING PAID BY PR TO SAY ANY OF THIS.  I personally signed up for the free stuff only. 

They have on line classes but the price is not cheap.  My personal opinion for what it's worth is that the access to classes you can get with an American Sewing Guild membership are a better value.  AND you can get on-line classes any time you can turn on your computer.  Of course the class curriculum is a bit different on each site, but again, NOT BEING PAID by anyone, just my humble opinion.

Anyway, back to goals.  My personal goal for fall is to sew a 'five easy pieces' set of garments for myself between now and Christmas.  I want to make a navy pantsuit or pants and jacket for work.  I want to make three tops that go with said navy pants and jacket.

Some likely candidates from my stash of patterns...

Hopefully now that I've written it down, I will apply myself toward actually doing it.

Oh yeah, and I want to get back to attending regular neighborhood group meetings of my local ASG chapter too.  Maybe that will help with the inspiration and provide incentive to sew for me.

Sew on!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tribeca Shirt or Jacket

Last weekend I sewed some buttonholes in a shirt/jacket that I started about this time last year. 

I went to a sewing expo in a small town in western Wisconsin in June of 2011 with my friends Marlene and Judy.  I went mostly because Marta Alto of Palmer Pletsch was doing a pants fitting seminar.  It's one of the least expensive shows I've ever attended.  Including two meals, my pants fitting class and four or five one-hour classes, I spent less than $100!

Among the vendors was one of my favorite independent fabric stores from Madison, WI, called Gayfeather Fabrics.  Virginia, the owner, sells patterns from the independent designers, and fabulous fabric.

On top of that, and a BIG plus in my book, is that she has sample garments made up, so you can try things on.  This helps a lot, because sometimes the drawing on the pattern envelope bears to resemblance to what the garment will look like on my 5'2", NOT size 12 body!

Anyway, I bought this pattern, called the Tribeca shirt

It's a fairly simple design, some neckline detail and some darts for fitting.  This is completely unlined, and with no facings.  You turn under the edges and mitre the corners, and the construction is easy.  The directions are wonderfully simple and easy to follow.

I put more buttons in the front, since I don't like the gaposis that can occur if you're a person who has to make a full bust adjustment in things, which I normally do. 

The fabric was a pinky rosy background with brown geometric lines, kind of a heavy linen.  I can't remember the fiber content but I think I'm going to hand wash or dry clean this shirt anyway.

Here's the product:

 I shortened the sleeve by about two inches, which is a normal adjustment for me.  I'm thinking about adding some shoulder pads, or maybe some Velcro strips in the shoulder seams so I can use removable pads.  I did flat felled seams because the fabric hinted at raveling.  The wrong side is a lighter color, and might show when I wear it, but that's OK because I did a GREAT job on the edges, if I do say so myself!

I used buttons that kind of look like jeans snaps for a casual feel.  It could be a light weight jacket over a tee shirt, or a nice shirt with either brown or white pants.

If you're in downtown Milwaukee tomorrow, you might see me wearing it!

Oh, and I DID finish a pair of trousers from the fitting workshop, but that's another blog...
Sew on.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Oh No, Did I Really?

I had to stop in at JoAnn's the other night for something.  I don't remember now what it even was...

Ohhhh, yeah... it was 50% off!!  And pretty, don't you agree?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

From Wedding Gown...

This past week someone who knows that I sew, and has seen some of my more humble projects such as doll clothes and quilts, asked me if I knew anyone who could make a baptismal dress from a wedding gown, or if I would consider doing it myself.

Coincidentally, I always wanted to do that with my own dress.  My first child was a boy, so I made an outfit for his baptism but I used something more tailored than the fancy crystal peau satin of my dress.  When my daughter was born, I had forgotten about the wedding dress and made her something totally different.

Fast forward 40 years and I get another chance, but with someone else's gown!

The Pattern:

We got together to discuss her expectations -- literally and figuratively!!  Her due date is early November.

My friend brought two patterns along, one she thought was nice but...

the one she really preferred was this one.

Then she brought out the dress.

Here are a few pictures of 'before':

The dress is strapless, the bodice is heavily beaded.  She did think she wanted the satin bow to be reused somehow, but I don't think there's enough money in the world that could induce me to remove and use the bodice.  I think there's enough fabric in the skirt and train for even the longest baby gown.

The lace has a scalloped edge, which will be used along the bottom of the baby gown.  It's beautiful and there is plenty of it going around the back of the skirt of the bridal gown.

And there's even an underskirt with fabric that can be used for lining or petticoat for the baby.

I think I'll pick a nice long weekend to start this... I'll post about it again after Labor Day weekend.

Sew on!