Friday, August 26, 2011

Teacher Training, Jetlag, my whereabouts and fabricholism...

Los Angelas was my place to be last week.  I went for the Trained Sewing Instructor program.  Since I love what I do and enjoy more sharing what I do, I thought this would help me in my endeavors as the new instructor at our local Hancock Fabrics. 

I met a really nice group of ladies who shared my same goals.  This program offered more than I thought.  It was really packed full of clear business management materials.  I didn't really need to learn how to sew, just how to teach sewing.  And the program was right on point for helping me get organized.  Here are my fun classmates.

I stayed at the plush Millenium Biltmore hotel, how nice was that.  I even got to see some shooting of the show "Bad Men" while there.  I just kept running into important people, I was totally aloof!.  I didn't know these people. 

I don't watch much TV, so when I met the star of "Single Ladies" I got a chance to get a picture with her, but I still had to text my sister to get her name. """"Stacey Dash!""" What a trip!  You know you are a dressmaker when the only reason you stop to look at a TV show is when you are checking out the fashions.  Forget the storyline....what's that, who is that wearing that dress? are not questions I think.  My thoughts are more in the line, "man, where are the darts to get that dress to fit those curves like that?... 
Of course I participated in a little shopping in the Fashion District. Oooooh! was I overwhelmed. But, I was so on point with my plans and my shopping list. I had to have everything I bought shipped via Fedex, of course, I was not gonna pay for luggage on the plane.  Two boxes of goodies to be exact.  I just got everything in last evening...even though I was anxious to get my stuff, I needed this week to recover. 
I was so very tired after being in another time-zone for an entire 6 days. I had to recover from the jet-lag.
Well, since I know if you are reading this you must sew or have an interest, so without further adure, I will give you a little sampling of what I bought.
Silk, silk, and more silk, dupioni that is.  Oooh so sweet for only $13 per yard.  Yes, I have plans for it all.  Some of it is for my Mom too.
And the ooohh so lovely knits, only $2 and $3.00 per goodness... We are being so ripped off here in Houston. That camel is a nice wool blend for the winter. And the stripe is a really stretchy ??? ITY??? rayon knit. 

Then, of course, I had to get my swimsuit knits....
More knits for t-shirts and the like...

This stretch cotton poplin is so sweet and buttery.....Like feeling chocoate chips. 
Trims were at the top of my list for my LA trip...and Trims 2000+ foot the bill for that.  These collars and insets here in Houston can run as high as $50.00 each.  I paid a whopping $2.00 a piece.  Holy moly....what a deal.

While there I also had the opportunity to take in a class and shop the ASG Conference Exhibit Hall.  And, of course I came out of it with a few nice things too. I had to see my man at "The Wool House."  He always knows how to take care of my husband and step-dad's duds.  Just absolutely beautiful...
That blue and green small houndstooth will be my husband's outfit for the Captains dinner on our December cruise.  The light yellow is a wonderful buttery bamboo.  The blue navy herringbone is a silk/linen I plan to use for my Mom using a Louise Cutting Design...
I have never experienced Louise's designs until now....and I am really happy with what I saw at her booth.  Her choice of fabrics are to die for.  And all her patterns are just my Mom's style.  This will make it oh so easy to help Mom get her wardrobe organic and organized.  Why are those two words alike?  Hmmm.  Anyway. She is totally anti-poly and so all these natural fabrics suit her just well.

More bras...I just find that Anne, over at Needle Nook has better prices for bra and panty kits.  I am so into that.  If you can also see that little green and black sewing box in the background, that I bought at hancock for my Oldest daughter who helps me do all this sewing.  Cause there is no way I can get all I want done without some kind of help.  Of course that's why she gets all the free quick bathing suits.
 Pamela's Patterns, the Magig Pencil Skirt and the Perfect T-shirt will do just fine for Mom also.  She will find these easy to sew and of course, I already have the fabrics at ready for her to try out the new patterns I got her.  I find I really like how that Pencil Skirt is styled.  A quick 1 hour project. 
I had so much fun.  I got a lot of things done and was relaxed on this trip.  I consider it a great success. Now, I will be going into a sewing frenzy for the next few weeks as I prep my class samples and sew up more cutey outfits for my grand-daughter.  I'm almost done so far this week with two more outfits for her.

 I finished this last one before I left town.  She just came over tonight to show that she wore it to school. 
She has already placed another order for this cutey...I just can't keep up with her.
My table is full...but who's isn't.  That really is what keeps us going right?  Now, you all have a great evening.  I'm gonna get some rest and start my project planning sheets with my daughter tomorrow and pretreat as much fabric as I can.  This is gonna be a busy September.  "I can do it...aaah some of it."  LOL
Sew long....

Friday, August 12, 2011

Jumpsuits..a sign of the times, who's copying who?

I wasn't much of a fashionista when I made this 25 years ago.  But, I tell you I was a pretty good sewist by anyone's standards.  

And I did know fashion, also by  the looks of it, I also had a good handle on the moonwalk.  Life was so much fun back then. 
Erica B.  on her blog, says she wants this cutie. Of course the up-to-date version...Kwik Sew 3898
 I just know, from past experience, she will rock this jumpsuit. 

As comfortable for the tom-boy as it is stylish for the fashionista. This jumpsuit, suits all styles.  Dress it up or down, and you have a tough little outfit to do anything in.  I made mine back then, I think, out out a grey brushed cotton twill.  But you have to remember, if you are old enough, that back then there wasn't much in the fabric department to choose from. So, I can't wait to see this made up in the silk crepe de chine she is hoping to find.

I know I wouldn't wear this again, my rump roast is way to big for this type of look.  Something, I just didn't notice back then. But, oh yeah, people didn't really worry so much about that, because just the fact that you sewed something yourself, brought on all the ooo's and awwww's.  It was a part of life to sew for yourself.  Now, it almost seems that you have to prove you can do better than the designers out there.  (Thats another ranting blog..) Cause, I believe what people are so call copying from today's designers, they could just find in their mom's closets and just be-dazzle the stuff a little and accessorize and you have a "look".  

Not to step on anyone's toes, but if you are not copying Carolina Herrera and the likes of her, you are just remaking the same old stuff from back when mommy taught us how to sew.  With that said, just make what you like, and trust, it has been made before.  Nothing is new, and trends are what you make of them.  Use the patterns provided by our lovely pattern designers as a springboard to do what YOU want and enjoy your creations as your own.  Not so you can say I copied a designer original...cause you didn't.  What you DID do is save all that rediculous money they try to charge for the garments.  

OooooK...sorry, I just had to get that out.  No offense to any of my lovely friends in sewing blog land.

Sew til later.. luv ya! 

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Pattern Inventory and studio organization project.

I have come to realize that no matter my attempt to organize my patterns, whether self-drafted, or purchased, it will require some sort of system that I myself am willing to follow and stick to in the future.

Now Flylady has long been the way I attempt to maintain a decent home and a welcoming place for guest anytime.  I must have some kind of routine in order to stay balanced.  But crafting and sewing can take anybody over the top.  In order to be creative, my surroundings have to be organized or at least de-cluttered, or my mind and my thoughts will emulate my surroundings.  As you may recall in my Sewn
Confessions, I exposed myself, my sewing room, at least it is dear to me, so sharing that space with the world is like making friends.  It's personal...  Either way, every since I talked about my disorganized workroom studio, I have been on a quest to put it into a more productive state of organization.  One that beckons the creative mind to actually create.  Thus, I went about making notes of my issues as I approached each one, evaluating each situation for a solution. 

I emptied everything to start....and begin an inventory  of all my contents.  I discovered that the two main problems I have are my fabric stash and my pattern inventory.

I purused blogshere to find any suggestions of order that might be applied to my situation.  I found that Pattern has a pattern inventory system, which I tried to utilized, but to no avail.  Then I contemplated the envelope system used by Victoria over at  Ten Thousand Hours of Sewing yet still, to no avail.  Some systems just don't work for me.  Then there is the system of filing the patterns in binders, or placing them in magazine file boxes.  Non of these would work with my mental processes.  Now I say my mental processes, because, these are all fantastice systems.  And they do work....yet, not for me.  I am a visual person, and I almost have to have everything catalogued and out front, or clearly labeled so I won't forget about it.  One of the biggest problems I have with my fabric stash.  But, that will be dealt with later.  For now, the pattern inventory must be tackled.  As my favorite quote from FlyLady:  "You are not behind! I don't want you to try to catch up; I just want you to jump in where we are. O.K.?" 

So, I dive in...and start taking pictures.  Every single pattern is gonna now be inventoried and catalogued via the almighty digital god.  I invite you to follow along as I get this all done.  And trust me it is so super easy.  I have finished the digital catalog already.  Here are the steps I have comprised:
  1. Gather all commercially produced patterns to one central location.  Even qued items until completion of the organization process.
  2. Have available a container bin, drawer, box, or file drawer for each pattern company to be sorted into.
  3.  Take a digital image of the front of every single pattern envelope making sure to get the pattern number in the pic. 
    • As you take the pics, use a stamp to place on the front of the envelope on or near the number.  I used a smiley face stamp. 
    • Be sure not to stamp over any design details.  You will want to be able to see those when you do your cataloguing on the computer.
    • You may have duplicates, make sure to take pictures of thems too, this is your record that you have multiples.  Don't try to notate the sizes, you should be able to see that on the picture also.
  4. Sort the patterns into the proper bins as pictures are taken. Do not try to do this first, or you will get bogged down.  (Just take the pictures!)
  5. After the bins are filled with the same patterns, its time to group them within the bins.  (You may want to put them into numerical order also.)  That is a little anal, but I plan to do that myself, just not now. Just having them in one place is already a great help.
  6. Now to the you will do the cataloguing of all the information necessary to find what you need.  I will be using this digital catalogue to plan projects, create wardobes, and maintain a list of where my patterns are stored.  I will do this via tagging and captions.  This is now my searchable database of patterns.  Picture database...cause I hate list.  I have to see pictures.  I will also printout contact sheets of the catalogue and place them in a binder for quick reference.  I have already added the digital datalogue to my iPhone as a separate album for quick reference when at the store.  Here are the steps...
    1. Using your photo organizer, I used Windows Live Photo Gallery, set the tags and captions for each set of patterns.  This can be done by multi-selecting patterns and tagging them as you desire. Currently, I am using the company name, type of garment (limit the types). I multi-select when adding tags.  Tagging goes alot faster.  You might want to tag "where" in the house your patterns are...especially if you are like me and don't have room in your studio for storing all patterns. I have also tagged that the garment has been "sewn".  I don't put the date, that too much info. I have a completed project sheet on each garment already.
    2. Add Captions to each individual pattern "picture" if you like.  For this to work, it is best that you do add the numbers.  I add the pattern number as it is on the envelope, which I can see right on the picture. i.e. B5324, V1063.  This seems like it will take a long time...but, this is what you can use as "waiting" room work on a laptop or touchpad device.  Don't take up precious "at-home" studio sewing time to do this.
    3. Use the rating stars to determine your favorites.
    4. Print contact sheets of your patterns, either 4-up or 9-up and hole punch and place in a binder for quick reference.  This is the point you might want to write the date you made the garment and for whom.  However, it is a good idea to keep these sheets clean.  I only had about 146sheets 4-up and 65 with the 9-up, so to get the best printout I may send it to Office Depot or Kinkos for printing the first time around since there are so many. Afterwhich, I will print off new ones at home as I add new patterns to my collection. And we all know, everyone, adds new patterns to their collection.
I now have found that after pulling 25-30 years of patterns together, I have over 582 patterns.  Not too bad for a professional.  I know many of you have plently more.  Therefore, I feel real good.  If you want the pattern number/caption to show up when you print, then you will need to use a different program or order prints online.  But don't make this hard. 

I will bring you updates as I get mine completed. 

Have fun.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Photo adventure...Burda 8488 Pants

Finding Pattern has been so much fun. Knowing there are so many others in the world who want to know how I did with a pattern is exhilerating. It encourages me to complete my projects and try new ones. Taking all the pictures is fun too, yet can cause the family to run everytime you pull out the camera.  But, lucky, my fashionista daugther loves to see the pics come out nice.  So, on her visit she treated me to a fun photoshoot and actually made me accessorize the outfit....Enjoy!

Project Description:
Burda 8488- Wide leg pants that are close fitting through the hips.

Pattern Sizing:
34-44, us- 8-18. See my blog entry-- Making the "Grade" a matter of size. for the size differences with the Burda Patterns compared to the "big four" pattern companies.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
These pants are totally awesome. I saw a Tracey Reese Resort Wear pair that I just fell in love with. This pair, after lengthening them 2 inches, foot the bill totally. They are really long from the envelope.

The front panel as it is designed it is two interfaced pieces, sewn together like a pocket and turned right side out through the bottom, then edge stitched. Afterwards, the buttonholes are sewed on before applying to the pants front by sewing only on the bottom and buttoned up the sides. I ended up sewing it across the top and shortening it by another inch to where it as a mock panel just to get the look. The buttons and holes are still loose.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
The instructions were very clear, as I am a visual learner, actually seeing the layouts and step-by-step instructions are great for me. I layout the garment pieces exactly the way the pattern says. The pics line up with the instruction numbers just great. That is really a plus for beginning sewist. I usually don't follow instructions, but when they are this easy to follow it really helps to stay on task. Something, my sidetracked mindset needs.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
The crotch curve is absolutely magnificent! I only did a 1" rise increase in the back, I was able to leave the curve alone. Normally, I have to extend it to go under the rump roast I carry in the back. They hang wonderfully. I don't have any dislikes for this pattern. I like the fact that the lap zipper is on the side. (finally, a side zip) I like that the panel can be removed from the front and just show the buttons. There is no functioning zipper opening behind the front panel, so its really just a design detail.

Fabric Used:
I dyed a piece of white linen blend I bought from Joann's last summer. I had dyed it then during a class, but ended up removing the color with Ritz Color Remover, it left the fabric a grayish tint. I wanted the color to look worn and rustic…I think I achieved the look I was after.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:

As I said earlier, I increased the back crotch rise by 1". I lowered the front by 1/2", and I added 2" to the hem. The regular length would be just fine for the average 5'5" person such as myself.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I would definitely sew these again, next time I will actually put the patch pockets on them just like the Tracey Reese inspiration pair.

Wide leg pants look great on me. I'm so glad they are back in vogue.

My daughter, the fashionista, insisted I do better at my photo uploads. So she made me change shirts, put on jewelry and heels and get a purse to go outside for a real photo shoot! Enjoy...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Blue Lace Lingerie Set..another happy ending.

 Bra making is quickly becoming my new love.  Its quick and satisfying all at the same time.  Especially when you are certain to come out of it with a perfectly fitting bra.
One might wonder, why it would be ok to publically talk about, let alone disclose the interworkings of your foundation garments.  Of couse, any woman would admit "albeit" in private, that she has always wanted to be open and discuss the problems she has with the undergarments.  We all look for the perfect fit in clothing, whether it be pants, blouses, t-shirts, dresses, and the like.  Who doesn't want their boobs to fit "inside" the bra cups.  Tara Banks was candid enough to have a show about the "bra".  Oprah Windfrey discussed it and women listened.  There spawned the bra fitting craze so to speak.  Even pattern companies increased their offerings.  What is so illusive about fitting a bra or underwear?
 Tara knows how to make us feel comfortable about the requirements of the body.

Moving forward...I remember last month spending 3 hours in the Dillards lingerie department getting fit for bras.  It was horrible, I was tired, my hair was a mess, and nothing fit.  You say, I'm small in comparison to the average woman with bra problems... Yes, I have a small chest area, 1/2 inch is all it takes to cause a bra to sag, and I hate saging.  I want my bra to hug my chest, not sit away creating a ridge under my clothing.  "It does matter." 

After taking my bra class in Atlanta last year, I have only made two additional bras, but during this time, I have been complaining about the ill fitting bras.  I just don't want to get rid of so many bras. However, when inventorying my stock, and I do have a large supply, I found that I am wearing only a select few the most, including the ones I made, which are my favorite.

  So, I look over all these bras and clean house.....

After all that I still saw that I need more of the nice ones.  The ones I learned how to make that just fit me, and me alone.  In comes my trusty pattern drafted especially for me...Intimately Yours, Bras That Fit, by Anne St. Claire. Needlenook fabrics 

I like the kit idea, because I can just work on any item I want anytime because I know all the pieces are there for me.

I made the matching panties from the panty kit provided by Needlenook Fabrics using Kwik Sew 2908, view B- bikini.  The fabric is a wonderfully satiny nylon.  The size may seem off, but trust me, when you really have the correct fitting bikini panty they may appear big.  I was shocked, however, I did not want to change the size until I was completely finished so as to get a true "fitting" of the final garment.  They really fit, with full bottom coverage and a low ride.  No panty lines.  Yee Pee!  The crotch will be narrowed an inch in the next pair, but really these are some great fitting panties.  So if you have buns that cup under a little, these have a nice curved bottom that catches all that rump. 

 Compared to the first pair I made, in which I used vanity sizing, I cut a small, because I figured the pattern has to be wrong.  I got a really good pair of panties that I had to give away....

I used some of the blue panty fabric to line the lace area of the bra for a little more coverage.  Although, the bra kit came with a lightweight nude tricot lining. Anne told me I could have dyed it brown using some strong coffee.  duh  I didn't think of that. More about the bra...  When I first learned to make these bras, my first complaint was that I donot want a "line" to show through my clothes.  But as you can see, the line isn't really that prominent.  I found that the slight curve in the sewn cup actually causes it to sit just a little off and properly fitting clothes just hang past the line.  Aaannnd...the bra isn't pointy, like it might appear.

I especially the way the band covers the side of the body...

...and how the back has the 3 hook/eye combination.  This is much more comfortable and supportive.  Anna has a reason and really good explanations for the structure of the bra.  The whys and why nots are important for someone like me.

Of course, you are not seeing the pesky little rings in these bras.  Thats because you don't need adjustible straps if they were made just for you.  Why do you need to adjust anything? Right? 
For my straps on this one, I tried one of her variations talked about in the book.  I made a 1/2 version.  Although, I really do like the suggested 3/4" or 1" versions.  I will not be making the narrow strap hurts.

You should probably get used to the idea of making your own bras.  My Mom already told me she absolutely loves hers and that I should make some more right away.  "Mom, I will, I am on it for sure." Love you...

Thanks everyone for reading my blog...I really enjoy sharing.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I count today a success. Lingerie set sneak peek...

Summer is a good time of year for most.  However, when you have a burning desire to sew, and the sun is burning up outside, and you have constant company from your lovely grandchild, something has to give.  My sewing time has been sporadic at best. Although, I have some really good systems in place for what I plan to do, and I do actually get some things completed, those items that I get completed are actually GTD project components.  Not necessarily completing a "said" project can be daunting, however.  This is why I find it extremely important to keep a GTD list.  That way I know I am actually making headway on all these projects, although I really don't have any tangible item to show for the hard work I have put in for the day.

However, today was a fun and productive day, if I say so myself.  Besides taking care of the home office requirements, and babysitting...I actually cooked dinner.  Whoo hooo!  You see, I am not a domestic diva.. I'm just a sewing diva.  So, basically anything that I get done which isn't sewing related is a great accomplishment for me.  And of course a great treat for my family. (-: 

I finally ordered my much needed eyeglasses.  And for a trully good deal at Costco.  I even got a pair of prescription sunglasses.  I can't wait for them to come in, I so, so, need them right now.  Especially, since I lost my regular pair. 

Besides planning new classes for the Hancock where I will be teaching sewing related classes, I was able to complete a New Look t-shirt and a pair of panties and make really good headway on a new bra.  I throroughly enjoy making lingerie sets.  This is so fulfilling.  I will blog about those later, for now here is just a sneak peak...

This bra instruction book is from a class I took last year at the ASG conference in Atlanta.  I do plan to increase my skill levels on making padded bras as well.  However, at this time I want to concentrate on one type of bra at a time.  Thus far, I have graduated to completing a lace bra.  T-shirts are not necessarily a need for me, but the skills learned in completing the various necklines, and the resulting knitwear sloper that comes out of it will serve useful for years to come. 

All-in-all, today was a great day.  Productivity is important to me, especially now that school is gearing up to start and my sewing classes are just around the corner. 

So stay tuned for more...I really appriciate all my readers and hope to offer good content that will help you each time I post.  Even though of course, I must have my ranting times.

Keep it sharp..AD

Friday, July 22, 2011

Vogue 1249- My birthday suit...jumpsuit that is.

Project Birthday a Badgley Mischka for Vogue Jumpsuit. V1249..
Line Art
Close-fitting (through bustline), partially interfaced, lined jumpsuit has back invisible zipper.

Pattern Sizing:
Size 14-20, I cut a 14/16. But I actually should have cut the 12/14 up top.

The drawing didn't fall in the front, but she was standing pretty straight and tall. Also, I don't have much curve definition in the front. I am really straight, and my bust are small. So my garment tends to collapsed a little. Next time I wear it, I will wear a padded bra to add to the front curves. I don't want to take out anything there, I want to give the illusion of more…which is why I liked the addition of the ruffles up front. The garment on the pattern envelope was obviously belted a little tight, cause the front on the model actually looked liked gathers, on mine it was plenty smooth with the acceptation of the pleats.

For the boning I used a technique that I invented (at least I think so…) that makes for a really straight seam.
I removed the plastic boning from the channel after initially measuring, I then sew down the channel sides and around bottom. At the curves in the princess line, I always curve the fabric in a cup like fashion thereby shorting the channel to force it to curve with the fabric. So when I reinsert the boning (making sure to have it curl with the direction of the princess seam) the bodice will curve in naturally around the bust and will form right into the chest above the bust at the neckline. So, even with the weight of the ruffles, the neck edge will not try to flop out to the front. (I have found that edge stitching doesn't always stop this from happening.)

You have to remember to determine the direction the boned foundation will face before knowing which way to curve the boning insertion. I faced the right side of the foundation to the wrong side of the bodice…not what the pattern instructions suggest… I wanted to make sure the outside of the garment did not show any signs of boning. It my classmate (a fellow designer) did not realize I had boning until she hugged me.

For the zipper- I used the Threads article "Sew Invisible Zippers like a Pro" from the August/Sept 2011 issue for the instructions. For the remainder of the garment I used the pattern instructions.
I am happy with the back alteration. I shorted it by 1/2 inch to allow for a short back from shoulder blade to waist. I raised the crotch by 1 inch in the back.

I liked the overall design and construction. I felt absolutely comfortable in the jumpsuit all night!!! I really forgot I was in a strapless outfit. The corset foundation was extremely comfortable and secure. I never worried about the top falling, and the fit was terrific in the crotch. I really don't normally get that straight out the gate on any pant pattern. I think I will use this pattern as my pant and bustier slopers for sure.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:

When shortening the crotch, the pleats are moved off grain, they have to be re-adjusted. "Please return your pleats to the upright position before take off." lol536

537I shorted the front crotch 3/4 inch. The pants had enough ease to take care of any extras on the thighs. I didn't need to do any full seat adjustments. I could see that as soon as I cut the pattern tissue. But, of course I had to shorten the front length.

I also lengthened the bottom of the bodice by 1/2 inch in the front and side seams. I will take that out next time, as I believe it may have something to do with the folds forming in the front under the bust.

I also lengthened the pants by two inches. May need to remember to wear the shoes I made the garment to match. They just weren't comfortable to wear all night during the party. A hostess must be comfortable.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

I would definitely sew this again with narrower pants.

Even though I DONOT drink, I must do my Captain Morgan pose. "The joke of the day." I had a lot of fun, and still never was concerned about the fit of my jumpsuit. I literally forgot I was wearing a strapless garment.

It appears that even leaning over, I had no worries. I raised the upper front 1 inch. I never tugged on my bodice anytime during the night. It was a very long night at that.

By the way... the beautiful cake was compliments of my very talented daughter Jennifer..