Sunday, October 26, 2014

Around the World Blog Hop - stopping in California

The "Around the World Blog Hop" has been passed onto me from Mary in Arizona who writes biblioblog.   Moving from the cacti and hot weather of Arizona, California seems to be depicted as sunny beaches, blonde hair and tanned skin.  Our nearest beach is about 3 hours away, I'm a brunette and have very pale skin but still consider myself a California Gal.  I have lived in Northern California almost my entire life.  I lived in London, England for 4 months during college thru a "Study abroad for a semester" program.   During that time, I met my husband in Dublin, Ireland on St. Patrick's Day in 1991 and we later married that same year in November and we have been happily married ever since.

We live in what's called the Sierra Foothills.  It's a wonderful little town we call home and we enjoy seeing the varied wildlife around our house.  I don't appreciate it when the neighborhood deer eat my plants, but that's a whole other story.  Every other year we have one to two new fawns born in our backyard so we are sort of the neighborhood "deer nursery" if you like.

Ok, enough about me and my general area - onto the Blog Hop questions.

Question 1: What am I working on?
Currently, I am working on Vogue 1331 - a Koos Couture coat that I am changing up quite a bit.  It is my October Make a Garment a Month Challenge project and it is turning out to be quite a project.  I expected that when I decided on it as my project and will be glad when it's finally finished.

In July of this year I joined a "Summer Stashbust".  I can proudly say I have been sewing only from my stash since July, but have yet to make a noticeable dent in it.  A number of years ago my husband said that if I depleted my stash he would take me on a trip to New York to replenish it.  Well, I'm thinking I might sew everything up in the next year or two so New York - look out!  I'm considering making this stashbush some sort of challenge for others as well, but I'm still mulling that over in my head.

Question 2: How does my work differ from others of this genre?
Excellent question and a tough one to answer at least for me.  As a sewer, I think I look at garments differently than the average person.  I look at the lines of the pattern and the fabric combinations. How well does it fit?  Does it work with other things in my closet?  What about trims and fun stuff to mix it up a bit - how could that be incorporated?  My husband often says I just can't leave something alone because I think it always needs a little something else - some sort of embellishment.  So to answer the question I guess my garments have a little "something unexpected".

Question 3: Why do I write/create what I do?
I have been sewing, crafting, and just generally making stuff my entire life.  I think I was born with a pair of scissors in one hand.  I have never liked wearing the same things that everyone else wears.  I've shopped at thrift stores and yard sales for as long as I can remember always striving to find something different or something I could change up a bit.

I started sewing when I was five years old.  My Nannie (my mom's mother whom we nicknamed Nannie) taught me how to sew.  Oddly enough - my mom doesn't sew at all!  I was in 4-H for awhile, but didn't care for their sewing techniques.  My Nannie could sew without a pattern and would just cut something out freehand and it would fit perfectly.  I'm not quite that good, but I think alot of Nannie's talent has been passed down to me.

Here's a picture of me at age 10 holding a doll that I made the dress for.  I used to carry these little dolls with me everywhere and they had a huge wardrobe that I made for them.  My Nannie made the dress I was wearing too.  All of my clothes were handmade by Nannie until I was in the 5th or 6th grade when I clearly remember wanting something with a "label" in it from the store.  My first store bought item was a blue pair of knickers (capri type pants - not underwear for you folks in the UK) with a label on the outside (I was so excited about that!) with a matching white blouse with blue stars on it.

Here I am at 18 making my prom dress.  Like my splatter painted walls?!?!?   So totally 80's!

Question 4: How does my writing/creating process work?
My sewing process is pretty much depicted in the picture above so I haven't changed my habits too much.  I either start with a pattern or a bunch of fabrics on the floor and start playing with them.  I usually have a few piles on the floor of potential next projects that get moved from place to place before they actually make it to the cutting board.

When I eventually cut into the fabric, it may take a few more twists and turns before it's finally completed.  Oftentimes I will leave something on the floor of my room if I am undecided and come back a few times trying to take a fresh look at it.  If all else fails, get out the box of ribbons and trims and start playing again!

That's it for me.  I'm now passing the blog hop onto Winter Queen who resides across the pond in the UK.  She has a wonderful little blog and has made an ironing board cover that is absolutely adorable and has inspired me to create a new cover for my ironing board too.  It's actually inspired a "laundry room redo", but that's a whole other blog post!  Stay tuned!

Until next time - Happy Sewing!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Vogue 1331 - The Lining

Now that I have the sleeve situation figured out, I can move onto the lining.  The jacket pattern doesn't come with lining pattern pieces so I decided to draft them myself.  I really wanted to use this cool tie dye lining fabric leftover from a previous project, but of course there wasn't enough to do the entire lining so I needed to piece it somehow.  I decided to sew big V's in the upper front and upper back pieces.  The remaining lining will be cut from an off-white piece that I already had in my stash too.  Below are the upper back and upper front pieces.

There was just enough room to squeeze in the sleeves too.

Here it is sewn up.  Back view here.

And the front.  I needed to add a facing too because on the original jacket - the overlay is wrapped around to the front and stitched down so there is no facing in the original style at all.

I added a piece of turquoise accent between the facing and the lining.

And guess what that accent piece was?  A piece of double fold bias tape I cut in half and sandwiched in between.

Here's the side view - I'm quite happy with how the V's line up on the sides.

Up next - take the main jacket apart and start really sewing everything together.  It's just basted together at the moment.  And - decide on some buttons.

Until next time - Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Vogue 1331 - The Sleeves

The sleeves on this jacket are meant to be a dropped shoulder, but I'm just not digging the look of that.  Here I've basted in one sleeve the way it is supposed to be and the other sleeve I moved it in about 1/2 further up on the shoulder.  Can you tell from the photo below which is which?  I know it's very subtle.

The left arm is the set-in version (the sleeve on the right above) and the right arm is the version the way the jacket was designed (the sleeve on the left above - very confusing, I know).  To me, the original one looks like you were trying to set in a sleeve but didn't quite make it.  I even pressed the seam allowance towards the jacket (as indicated in the pattern), but still wasn't happy with the look.

The back of the sleeve seems to pull odd on the non-set in style too.  Please ignore the overlay near the armhole above - it's not sewn down yet so it puckers a bit there.

I'm going with the set-in sleeve side.  It's only moved in about 1/2 inch, but seems to make a huge difference in my opinion.  

Up next - the lining.

Until next time - Happy Sewing!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Need a "Healthy" Halloween Costume?

I have the perfect solution!  I actually made this a few years ago and won first place at work!  Halloween is a very big deal at my employer and each year we try to come up with something unique and fun as a theme.  This particular year, we had a garden theme and I really wanted to be a vegetable.  Here's what I came up with!

Yes - I was a carrot that year and it was a huge hit!  

 Side view and back views.

When I finally determined what I was going to be, I thought and thought about how to support the top of the carrot on my shoulders and here's my solution.  This is a view on the dress form looking thru an armhole to the neck/shoulder area.  I used two metal wreath frames and wired them together as my supporting framework.

Shopping for the wreath frames was a bit funny.  I can just imagine the surveillance footage of me in the floral department putting these frames over my head to see if they will work and then searching for the perfect "carrot top" piece of greenery to complete my ensemble.  The security guards probably thought I was just crazy and decided to leave me alone!

The fabric is orange felt with a layer of shiny sheer polyester chiffon looking stuff that I pleated and sewed in random rows across the width of the felt.  Once the fabric was finished, I hand sewed the top portion to the metal framework and then pinned and cut the body of the carrot until it looked right.  

Of course I had to have an organic sign to.  I designed this on the computer, laminated it and just taped it on.

Here's a picture of the costume just hanging on the dress form.  It actually keeps it shape very well and the framework is comfortable to wear (well, that is as far as wreath framework is meant to be worn!)

 Another side view of the armholes.  

It's the hat though, that truly makes the costume I think.  The hat is actually a funnel that I covered in fabric, added some ties and found the perfect "carrot top" greenery to put in the top of the funnel.

A view of the inside of the funnel.  It doesn't look very pretty, but it works.   I just hot glued the fabric and ties in place.  The greenery piece fits nicely into the funnel portion too.

So if you are looking for a different costume this year - I highly recommend being a carrot - it was a great costume and I received a bunch of compliments on it.  

I also carried a basket with me and gave people the option of either taking a bag of candy corn or a bag of small carrots - most people took the bags of carrots.  The cutest thing though was when little kids saw me - their mouths would just drop open and they would be in awe!  After all - it's not every day you see a big carrot!  And not a single kid took a bag of candy corn - they all wanted carrots - it was so cute!

That's it for today - hope this has inspired you to explore a different type of costume this year.

Until next time - Happy Sewing!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Vogue 1331 - Thread play!

I knew this project was going to be very time consuming so it's time for something fun in the meantime.  Thread Play!  All of those cut outs need to be finished with something colorful and fun so it's time to experiment.

Here are my practice pieces.  I started with three different scraps and sewed the tweed on top of the green wool.  Trace the oval shape using a chalk marker.

Cut out just the tweed layer of said oval shape so it looks something like this:

Next are my practice fibers.  From left to right are:
- Green and purple fibers pulled from the tweed fabric.
- Green variegated cotton thread - from stash.
- Turquoise soutache braid - from stash.
- Purple variegated cotton thread - from stash.
- Variegated fuzzy yarn - from the stash too (pretty sure I picked this up at a garage sale).

Practice piece number one:  This is using the green and purple fibers pulled from the tweed fabric.  It looks ok, but doesn't pop like I was hoping.  Too matchy, matchy.  Even though I tried to make the purple stay on top, it kept getting lost in the stitching.

Next up - the turquoise soutache braid.  This was looking ok and I tried to combine it with some of the pulled threads as well.  The pulled threads seemed to just get lost in the mix.

Here's a closer look.  I used just plain green thread on this one instead of the variegated thread.

Next up - the fuzzy yarn. This one is looking promising.

Close up of the fuzzy yarn.  

And here's all three.  My vote is for the fuzzy yarn.  What do you think?

That's it for now.  Next task - fitting the sleeves - yick!

Until next time - Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Vogue 1331 - Fit Test

Remember the muslin?  I was holding out hope that the muslin's nice drape would look better in the finished product, but I was sadly mistaken.

See those nice folds in the back?

Well I knew that something needed to change when the dear husband walks in and says "OMG that's huge!  I've seen tents for sale smaller than that!"   It's a good thing I can take criticism - because he was right!  Sadly, my hope for the nice drapey look didn't carry over to the final product - which I kinda figured it wouldn't anyways, but was holding onto a thread of hope just in case.

So, let's start taking this in and see what happens.  Here I'm pinching about 4 inches on each side.

Hmm, might look better huh?

Don't laugh at my crooked sewing here, but remember, this is just basted together so far.  Here you can see the original stitching at the side seam (in green thread) and it was huge.  First attempt was the next row of purple stitching - still to big.  Second attempt - is the next row of stitching - now it's looking much better.

I ended up taking in the sides 2 inches at the underarm tapering down to 8 inches at the hem.  So if we do the math, that's a total of 8 inches at the bust and 32 inches at the bottom hem.  Considering I normally sew a size 12 pattern and I cut this one out in a size 6 pattern instead, this is still alot of fabric to take in!  The pattern description is "very loose fitting", but that's an understatement I can assure you. Maybe the inspiration behind the original design by Koos came from Mother Ginger in the Nutcracker?  I however, not having any children of my own, don't need the extra room to house anyone.

Now that it's taken in, it resembles more of a rectangular box rather than a tent.  Still oversided by my standards, but at least the extra room for children is removed.

Looks much better on the side too I think.   

I'm holding off on the sleeves for now because I'm sure that one will be a fitting disaster too so I need something fun in the meantime. Time to play with different thread combinations for the cut outs.

Until next time - Happy Sewing!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Vogue 1331 - The Concept

I mentioned in my first post about this project that I didn't like the way the front overlay is just on the front piece and stops at the bottom.  That just looks odd to me so here are my plans to change that.

In the picture below, the pattern piece on the right is the original overlay for the front.  The piece on the left is how I have extended the overlay to carry over to the side of the jacket.

Here's the pattern piece for the back.  Since it doesn't have an overlay at all, I just made this up and tried to make it flow around to the front.

Here's a clearer picture of the front overlay pieces - traced with a sharpie pen.

And the back piece as well.  The areas near the armhole/shoulder with the squiggly lines I am still contemplating. Since there is a back dart, I'm not sure how these pieces will work yet so they are still a work in progress - and, the top circle on the front overlay needs to wrap around over the shoulder onto the back as well.  I'll have to see how the fabric lays when it is basted together.

Here are the two fronts sewn together.  I'm waiting to cut out the circles until it fits correctly, just in case I need to reposition any of them.

The edges are left raw on the overlay.

And here's the back overlay.

Up next - baste together to test the fit.

Happy Sewing everyone!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

My latest listening obsession

I'm a huge fan of listening to audible books on my way to work.  With an hour commute each way, I have tackled quite a few books during the last few years.

I'd like to tell you about a "new to me" podcast that I am now listening to on my computer while I sew.  It's called Modern Sewciety.  It's hosted by Stephanie - a stay at home Mom, living in Florida, who loves to quilt.  Each week she interviews different sewing personalities and asks them how they got started, what inspires them and what's on the horizon.  Even though I'm not a quilter, it is very interesting to learn about the different designers, how they got started and what makes them tick.

Modern Sewciety

I've learned about so many new designers that I'd never heard of before since I started listening to these podcasts. It's very interesting.  She also has a Downton Abbey special (which I haven't listened to yet, but am planning to).  If you'd like to have a listen yourself, here's a link to the website:


Happy Sewing!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Vogue 1331 - The Muslin

I've made the muslin and so far, it's looking huge!  This coat is meant to be oversized with a nice drape in the back, but this just might be a little too big for my liking - and this is a size 6!  I normally make a size 12.  It sort of resembles a lab coat below, don't you think?!?!  Also - the sleeve cap is meant to start lower down on the arm - I'm not sure if I like the look of that either - I may move them up in the final product.

Side view - you can see the draping in the back.  I do like how it drapes on the back, but with the weight of the material I'm going to use and the addition of the continuing circle theme down the back, I'm not sure how the draping will work in the final product.

Back view - hard to see the draping at this angle though.

Here I'm pinching in at least 4 inches on each side and it's still oversized.  I'm going to cut out the fabric as is at the moment, and see how it drapes with the overlay on it first.  Then, I might choose to take in the sides - we'll just have to see how it goes.

Just a quick post for today.  Time to get this baby cut out.

Until next time - Happy Sewing!