Saturday, February 28

Mardi Gras Celebrations: My new top Vogue 8747 and StyleArc pants

Well, hello all, today I come to you with two new pattern playmates.  We have the Katherine Pants, from StyleArc Patterns, sharing the spotlight with a true success!!!. a shirt from the Vogue 8747 patterns, which may very well become one of my favorite button downs.
 
I don't know about you, but I like to eat my dessert before my dinner...just in case I get too full, at least I had the good stuff first.  Thus, it is with this post...I will give you the gist on the top first.
mardi gras colors
Vogue 8747 top view D:
I call this my Mardi Gras blouse, because a friend told me, after I showed here this fabric; "Oh, those are Mardi Gras colors!  How exciting."  I had no clue.  I bought that fabric last year, and was just drawn to the beautiful watery movement of buildings nearly hidden in the print. I'm embarrassed to say just how much per yard I paid, so if you don't know, then you are like I was, "Clueless".  For those of you who do know about "Liberty of London", can I join your club?  OOOOwee!! this stuff feels fine!!

It's made from some of the best cotton I have ever sewn, REALLY!!  I will shout that one from the roof top.  I did not know that "Liberty of London" was so special.  I do say that stuff is expensive!!  Yes, I did use all caps, and several exclamation points...that is how I feel.    Shoutout to Josephine's Dry Goods in Portland, OR(non-sponsored)  Because, they had a boatload of the stuff and the finery was to die for and go to sewing heaven.  
It takes time to "build" a wardrobe of lovelies, those pieces you will pick up and wear over and over again.  That is why it took so long.  This fabric was destined to become a button down the moment I lay eyes on it, but I still had to find the buttons.  Not just any button would have worked.  There again, they just floated into my life whilst shopping for a client I came upon these gems of the ocean to be added to this sea of buildings.  Feast your eyes, oooh my goodness is that not delicious or what?  That was my dessert.   YumYum, that smile is from the internal satisfaction I get wearing this shirt.
Shortening the front band from apex to neck ensures modesty at the decollate' for the over 40" crowd.
Construction notes for the top:  
The pattern has multiple views to choose from, a regular with the Vogue basics line of patterns, a true bargain when you are spending big bucks for the material.   The pattern represents the hem as having a shirt-tail shape, but I don't see it.  It isn't as pronounced as I would have liked to have in the back.  I will take care of that in the next top.  There will be another, and another, and another.  (I'll keep going and going and .....as with "Peewee Herman")
  • NO FBA!!!  Yeepee!  I cut a size 14 as usual, but this pattern had the A-D cup bust sizing.  I used the D cup. (Actually, I think its a little too roomy in the bust, but it may be the design of the gathers along the front placket) 
  • I Shortened the center front between apex and the neck.  You see the little wedge along the front under the neckline.  That wedge is magic for the over 40" crowd. (Meaning over a B'cup)


  • A swayback adjustment was taken as usual. (See piece 10 above...)  
  • Also added a 1/2" broad back adjustment. 
  • Totally straightened the center back.  Vogue seems to always add a bit of a curve to all their princess backs, which isn't something I need.
  • I did not lengthen the top this time, but I intend to do so on the next go around.
  • Lowered the back neck by 3/8" 
  • You won't see in the alterations, is that I added 1.5" to the hips graded from the waist to the hem.  (I will add those changes to the pattern before I mount it to tagboard.)
StyleArc Katherine Pants:
First off, these are indeed tailored pants.  Another wardrobe staple for me aside from the button down.

stretch woven wool.

To be honest with you, this review has been in the making for quite some time, while I tried to decide how to present all the information to you.  I don't want to burden your blog reader with too much information at one time.  So, I need you to tell me the format in which you want me to dissect these pants.   I only found ONE (1), yes, one pattern review on these pants.  I also contacted the designer for construction assistance with the pockets.

The fabric is a fine light stretch tropical wool...which in and of itself gave me headaches when I tried to topstitch the center front crease seam.  It is a great fabric, but I think I might have a slight sensitivity to wool, because it really makes me itch when and sneeze to wear it or sew with it.  I equate this fabric to a high-end bengaline, because it has a cross grain stretch which resulted in my laying the patterns on the cross not the along the selvage.  I wanted the stretch to go "around" my body, I was thinking if I left it go up and down, then I would get saggy bottom.
topstitching on the bernina 780 using tropical wool stretch
Fitting notes:  "Balance in worklife and personal life is everything."  But what about "Pattern Balance" in your sewing?

In order to keep them straight and balanced at the center front where the seam is on the actual crease, I had to remember to make any width adjustments on both sides of the leg, inseam and out-seam, at the center leg seam...but I forgot just near the end, when I decided to add just a smidgen more right before I cut.  (((((WRONG MOVE....))))


The legs are 20 inches at the hem, not to be confused with the "slim" 15" leg of the barb pant I made here.  They should hang straight down from the side hip, and the crease "should" be in the center of the leg.   Because of this it's important to keep the balance of the pattern when making adjustments. Most fitting guides tell you to increase at the sides. That's doesn't work.
An unbalanced worklife.
Come on my fellow pattern nerds, what have we resorted to with this fitting craze?  I have decided to wear these damn pants, no matter what the fit police say.  Posting my butt all over the internets, for the advancement of the sewing sciences, proves I love my rear end in all its round glory.

I know, I know...."Andrea, of all people, you teach fit!! "You have blah, blah, blah..training, blah, blah, duh."  So, what are you talking about, you should have ALL the answers."   But wait.... I say, Fitting is a moving target, YO!! and at each junction you decide what part of it you are willing to forgo for the current fashion item you choose to construct.

This is especially true if you insist on making different garments from a different pattern and different fabric with every project.  At some point, I just want to say, "enough is enough!"

Thus, for me I have decided, in my own infinite wisdom, to forgo new pant patterns and just design around my sloper ONLY.  At least for a while, ha!  Right, we will see how long that last.  To get me focused, I signed up for Kathy Ruddy's Craftsy class " One Pattern Many Looks" when they had their last sale.
The side front of StyleArc Katherine woven pant....notice the grain line, it would only prove why the pants tend to twist on the leg.  It seams this should be changed to line up with the body, and not be left the same after the alterations.  
Please stay tuned for the next installment of this post giving you the full blown internal guts and gores of the pattern workings, the pocket making and the fitting of Miss Katherine.   Its deep yawl.

....until then, keep studying your patterns.
Andrea

Wednesday, February 25

Comfort Pants: StyleArc Barb

Meet Barb, a StyleArc pattern, a yoga pant type, basically, a comfort pant. I have had a few problems fitting these and other StyleArc pants on my figure. You will see a few more in post to follow, since I need to get more pics of the pattern alterations. For now I wanted you to know about these.
They have a simple elastic waistband. The way the waistband is installed, actually, saves bulk at the waist and keeps the area flat. You use a 1.5-2" elastic, sewn on the flat band and then folded before attaching it to the pants.
The problem I have had with accepting the StyleArc RTW concept is this-- "If Ready-To-wear does not fit me, then why would I want to deal with a pattern that purports RTW?" It doesn't seem to make much sense to struggle so much with a pair of pants that pose all the same fitting issues I deal with in RTW.
The following are the long list of challenges that plague me with RTW, as well as have shown to crossover into the StyleArc pants patterns: I cut a size 16.

1. Back rise had to be raised by 1.5 inches
2. Front crotch had to be lowered 1.5 inches
3. Crotch extension in the back was extended by 1/2 inch
4. Removed over 1 inch excess crotch extension from front
5. Took out 5 inches (yes, five) from the waist
6. Deepened the back crotch by 3/8 inch.

Mind you this was a basic pair of stretch pants. Considering the simplicity of the pattern, this was a lot of alterations. Oh, and yes, I did follow my sloper to determine some of these changes. Although, I think part of the problem falls with the skew of the grain-line in these pants. The pattern has the grain almost straight along the side seam causing the inseam to be on a more pronounced bias than that which my sloper is based.
I used a patterned Ponte Roma knit from my stash. This is a very stable knit with excellent recovery. It has the handle and weight of a Sofia Ponte knit.

Because I did so many modifications, I almost lost interest in this make, but, didn't want to waste the good fabric by throwing them into a pile. So I pressed on to get them done despite my frustrations. With that, I have now decided these will be my quick makes for comfort pants.  They really sewed up pretty quick, aside from the alterations, it took me less than an hour, mostly done on the serger, including adding the waistband.

Everyone should have a basic pair of comfort pants to sew up anytime. Do you have recommendations for other great Comfort pants patterns to try, that you have perfected? I would love to try others.

as always, thanks....Andrea

Wednesday, February 11

Gringos and Cowboy Hats- Rodeo fashion...

Did I say season?  Oh, yes, this is Houston, Texas.  We have the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, better known as RodeoHouston, the world's largest live entertainment and livestock exhibition. (wikipedia.com) RodeoHouston is only second to the International Quilt Festival.  So, it is only right that I celebrate both in my Gringos and Cowboy Cowgirl hat, like baseball and apple pie, they go together during this time of year.
cowboy boots, RodeoHouston, cowboy hats and fashion
The weather during Rodeo season is just as unpredictable as bronco busting, you never know which way the cowboy will be thrown, so we have to be ready for anything here.  I decided to wear a simple dress I made to go with my boots or my house shoes, slippers to some of you. The day started with a bank of fog all over and a slight chill, and ended up by mid-morning at nearly 70 degrees.  This is why we call it Rodeo season.
cowboy boots, RodeoHouston, cowboy hats and fashion
It's quite fun dressing in Houston, because you can actually have the best of both worlds...excluding the summers.  I get to sew summer clothes during the "Winter".  I made this dress from McCalls 6346, which is now out-of-print, but my lovely boots are new to my wardrobe.  These Old Gringo boots, as they are branded, are the most comfortable I have ever worn.  The website says: "Our distinctive style makes us a life style brand with a vast following unlike the average "cowboy boot" company.  They have a "following," now that is interesting.  
cowboy boots, RodeoHouston, cowboy hats and fashion
We all migrate at some point in our lives to a particular brand or style whether it be in fashion, cars, or sewing machines.  We all have a preference.  Why that is the case only we personally know ourselves, and explaining it is useless.  I like sewing with Bernina sewing machines, and wearing Old Gringos, simple as that, no explanation needed. 
cowboy boots, RodeoHouston, cowboy hats and fashion
Out of curiosity, have any of you ever been to RodeoHouston or just plain enjoy wearing cowboy boots and hats during any season?  

Thursday, February 5

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) and Pattern Fitting

Sewing for and working with ladies trying to get patterns and clothes to fit their body has reminded me of my own insecurities that were present in my early years.  My studies have taught me that pattern companies and clothing manufactures must use standard measures based on norms they have found helpful as a basis for sizing sewing patterns and ready-to-wear clothing.  
BDD, pattern fitting, body dysmorphic disorder
These sizing standards of measurements, I think, however, can form insecurities in us that may contribute to our obsessions regarding our body and cause use to feel "we" are abnormal.  While, in actuality, the sewing patterns in this case just don't "fit" us.  

When I was younger, I thought that as long as I was fitting into the size 10 pattern as it was drafted with no knowledge of FBA's, Sway back, prominent buttock adjustments and the like, then I was "normal" and of good weight and build, and therefore, acceptable.  I fitted into the "CHART" used by the pattern company.  This was my guideline to know whether I was healthy, or so I thought. 

However, as "normal" life changes occurred, so too changes in my body occurred.  Unfortunately, my young mind of twenty-something, did not register or conceptualize, that "those" standards were not absolutes, and thus, were not a goal for me to maintain.  Nor did those "CHARTS" change to recognize a females body changes.  So I was basically trying to fit into a pattern which only took into account the norms of someone half  my age.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder: Signs and symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder include: 
  • Preoccupation with your physical appearance with extreme self-consciousness 
  • Frequent examination of yourself in the mirror, or the opposite, avoidance of mirrors altogether 
  • Strong belief that you have an abnormality or defect in your appearance that makes you ugly 
  • Belief that others take special notice of your appearance in a negative way 
  • Avoidance of social situations 
  • The need to seek reassurance about your appearance from others 
  • Excessive exercise in an unsuccessful effort to improve the flaw 
  • The need to grow wear excessive makeup or clothing to camouflage perceived flaws 
  • Comparison of your appearance with that of others 
  • Reluctance to appear in pictures 
I don't think I suffered from BDD, but it was unfortunate for me, that I was a small 135 pound muscular woman with young kids, yet still a Weight Watchers Poster Child, who thought I was overweight, and needed to loose some pounds to "FIT" into my patterns.  Yes, even back then, I did not often purchase ready-to-wear clothes.  OOOH!!! so wrong and naive was I. 
That me on the right at 26.
Unfortunately, I am finding that this feeling and belief is still a problem for many women no matter the age.  Fitting "into" sewing patterns still creates a culture of sewist who think something is wrong with them.  This in no way assumes these ladies have low self-esteem, however, it is apparent we still have some level of insecurities, and just can't pinpoint the actual cause, except the issue of pattern sizing.  Neither does this take into account that pattern companies have made it part of their mission to make some adjustments in the size groupings now available for the different life stages of their market.

Thus, I now have made a conscious effort to avoid my old way of thinking by increasing my knowledge and understanding of fit, and also to no longer obsess over every little wrinkle and fold in my handmade clothing.  To accept my body as it is, and make things "FIT" me, not me fit them.

So, as corny as it seems, my business name, or my web name was changed many, many years ago to "SEW-TO-FIT." and that's what I try to do now, sew-to-fit for me.

I hope this information will help anyone, who can relate at some level and help a young person with their own body image.  

Tuesday, February 3

Cast Your Vote Now...!!

Shameless self promotion!!! 

 Click here to vote.
Thanks to Rhonda for all her hard work in making this contest possible.  You can now vote on your favorite entry through Monday, February 9th.  Of course, I know it's me you can't wait to vote for, so I made this fancy button to assist you.

You can find the original blog post "Project Runway contestant or not?" here, explaining my complete process and inspiration for creating this lovely two-piece outfit.  The fabric was the main reason and inspiration for the challenge.
To make it even easier to vote, here are the instructions:
  1. Click on the picture above or here.
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the page where you will see the group of Get Your Motors running entries.:
  3. Cast your vote by clicking on the heart shape in the upper right of your selection.

 Entries
Everyone did such a wonderful job.  If I weren't a contestant, I would have a hard time voting objectively. 

What will I win?  I get to win an online class from Craftsy.com and personal satisfaction for actually participating.  Well, is that a win, or should I already have that.  Anyway, it was fun. 

Sunday, February 1

Project Runway contestant or not? This is my contribution.

A few years back I completed the current application for Project Runway contestants. While answering the questions I began to question my competitiveness.  I chose then not to participate because I didn't want to put my creativity under the gun like that.  Not very many people can pull me into a competitive event, but in this case....
Rhonda, you did it, here I am...competing in a fabric creativity contest.
contest entry for sewing expo.
 I was excited to receive the print, a bark cloth with a one way boarder design.  What was I to do?  I know I couldn't just stick to the black and white, since I prefer color burst in my designs, I thought it would be good to die the print.  That quickly left my thoughts, since I was not sure how it would turn out.  I only had one shot at this.  So I tested some machine embroidery,  and copying the print onto another fabric.  That didn't work either.   Painting, was my next option, and of course it did work, and that was what I set out to do.
contest entry for sewing expo.  painting fabric with sewtofit.com
I wanted to make the print a reverse affect or release onto the second adjourning color to give it a continuous flow across the seam lines. In order to do that I traced and transferred the design from the main fabric. To do this I used a color pencil along with tracing paper.  Once I traced the design onto the paper, I then used the end of the paintbrush to draw it to the fabric using wax transfer paper.
The paint use for the release on the black was by Jacquard Lumiere Metallic Silver.  I got it from my local art supply store, Jerry's Artarama.  The paint orange paint is a glitter paint pen by DecoColor, also purchased at Jerry's.
The fabric used included the contest piece, a bark cloth, provided by Rhonda at Rhondas' Creative Life.  It has the texture of a linen/cotton, and has a terrific drape.  Complimentary fabrics:  Black- peach suede, and the coral fabric is a poly crepe, both from my stash.  For the top, I used a black ponte knit in conjunction with the coral crepe.
The patterns were Vogue 9004 for the top view A and McCalls 6755 skirt.  For the skirt I omitted the right side seam in order to not break the flow of the print and make it appear to wrap around the body.
On the back of the top, I continued the design freehand into the the waist and up the center back.  This way it would look like I have one continuous flow from floor to should blades.
piping the skirt and painting the back of the vogue top.
I added flat piping to the front to give a contrast between the white and the coral.
This was a fun project.  I love painting and thus will most likely include paint into more projects in the future.  As for Project Runway, well, I need to develop just a few more skills in time management.

I would love if you would go over to Rhonda's blog and vote for my entry.


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