Layered Raw Edge Letters

I finally set up my Pfaff Creative Vision to do embroidery. Honestly, I don't know why I waited so long. I had forgotten how much fun it is to watch as it stitches! My last machine was a Husqvarna Viking D1. I traded it in for the Pfaff after sewing and embroidering with one in a class at the Sewing and Quilting Expo a few years ago. I fell in love with the precise positioning feature. I had made a few projects which used multiple hoopings before and I did a decent job getting the motifs where I wanted them, but it was nearly impossible to get them absolutely exact which kind of bummed me out. All I could think of was all the cool things I could embroider IF ONLY I could get the designs to line up perfectly. So you can see how I was immediately sold on the Creative Vision. Well that was years ago and I have embroidered a big fat nothing with the machine. Zilch.

I love the way embroidery can take clothing to another level, but I cannot articulate exactly how to get that effect myself. I think the design needs to seem like it is integrated into the garment, and not slapped on as an afterthought. This shirt I embroidered last week is an example of what I mean. Although the letters themselves look great and they are lined up perfectly, to me, it looks like the embroidery was an afterthought. Don't get me wrong, I like the way the shirt looks. But the embroidery does not take it to that other level and I would not expect lettering to do that in any case. I guess now that I have "broken the seal" on my embroidery attachment, I am anxious to do more embroidery. How do I select a design and integrate it into a garment?

New Hair Color!

I have been deliberating for a year. I finally bit the bullet and got a two tone hair color. I think I need a little time to get used to it. Most things need a while to grow on me lately. I must be getting old! My daughter says the hair makes me look younger. I'm all for that! Now all I need is to make some new clothes to go with my new hair.

Keeping It Simple

I love my BURDA Magazines. Some of the photography gives me a chuckle sometimes, but really, it is my favorite fashion magazine. This month, there was a quick beginner pattern. I stitched it up in some artisan silk that has been in my stash for years. A long time ago, I though I would make ties, but I never got around to it and I have since begun using my tie interfacing for sleeve heads. I had to deviate a little form the instructions since the artisan silk has no give whatsoever. Instead of folding the top under and stitching to form a casing, I cut bias strips of a really nice wool fabric that I used last year for a fabulous pair of pants. I used the wool as a facing on the right side. I also cut bias strips to make binding for the armscyes. Lastly, I made one long bias tube and thread it through both the front and the back and tied it at one shoulder. Oh yeah and did I mention that the hem edge is the selvedge? I am working on a skirt to match. I just have to add a contrast band in the green wool at the bottom and face the waist. The top looks really good if I belt it. If I don't, it looks too shapeless on me. Stiffany (That's my mannequin's name - get it? - she's stiff - hah hah!) looks great in it because she can wear anything well. I have a belt buckle kit which I have been dying to try. I think a slef belt with a fabric covered buckle would make the whole outfit look retro chic. In other news, I have been learning about pattern grading and sizing. Here is something I learned. I always thought that pattern sizes were such that if I gain weight, I go up a size. Well that is not the whole story because if a size 12 fits perfectly and I gain weight and move to a size 14, not only has the girth increased but the lengths have also increased so my bust to waist and my back length in the size 14 will have to be shortened ever so slightly. This is also true of RTW. My favorite Ann Taylor blouses were getting to tight and as I gained weight and moved up a couple of sizes, I eventually found that petite sizes fit me better - even though I am 5'6"! Food for thought...

Stash Cataloging

How do you keep track of your fabric stash? I love to come up with elaborate systems of organizing my things - systems which are sometimes impractical for me to follow. Currently, I have three methods of cataloging my fabrics. The simplest is a few digital photographs of my fabric armoire, and cupboards with the doors open. I keep the pictures on my iPhone so I will have them available to review while I am out shopping. Next, I have a page on my blog with snapshots or downloaded images of fabrics. I can pull the blog page up on my iPhone any time I have cell service. My latest inspiration involves actual fabric swatches. After cutting apart my Vogue Fabrics Swatch sheets so I could play "mix and match" with them, I had a wonderful idea to cut swatches of my own fabrics - including those I have already used. I made a spreadsheet file in a program called Numbers. Numbers is like a very pared down version of excel which allows quick and easy creation of charts and tables. It works on Mac OS devices. I used my iPad while watching TV with my husband. The result was a quick template which has 8 rectangles and a few lines of text per rectangle. I cut the rectangles apart with a big paper cutter and stapled swatches of my fabrics to the little paper cards. Under each fabric swatch, I have listed the fiber content, width, design repeat, yardage or finished item, and any special notes. I use these fabric swatches to plan projects and coordinate fabrics. What do you do to keep track of your stash?

Mommy and Me

I interrupted my jacket project to make a little skirt for spring. My daughter loved it and said she wished she had one just like it. So I made one for her with the left over fabric. My first Mommy and Me sewing!

In other news, I have been busy learning fashion design! I have been working with some expensive Adobe software learning how to draw fashion flats and illustrations. I have been learning about flat pattern drafting and dart manipulation as well as pattern grading. All of this learning is fueling my passion for sewing in a way that has my head buzzing with a menagerie of creative ideas. When I figure out how to put it all together, I will have more to share.

What to do with this?

Fashionistas help!! This jacket needs something. I am glad I made this mock-up. I am not diggin' the look on me. It looks like it needs to be a little longer. I had an idea to add a zip on peplum, but I really like the idea of a cropped jacket. Maybe it just isn't fitted enough? Should I take a little ease out of the side seams and see if I like it? Or maybe tack some fabric along the bottom edge and see if the longer length helps? The back neckline is too low and too scooped as well. I feel my mojo slipping... I would rather be sewing spring dresses, but I don't want another UFO hanging around my sewing room. The pictures are cell phone pictures and not the best, but if you click them, they get bigger. What should I do with this?

Tweed Zipper Jacket Mock-up

I have been playing with an iPad app called Adobe Ideas. Above is a sketch I drew of the jacket mock-up for the tweed zip front jacket. I left the sleeves off, but I will be adding sleeves to test my pattern before I cut the Linton tweed. The app is a lot of fun. I can sit and draw pictures while I watch TV with my husband. Below are a few pictures of the real life mock-up on my dress form. The zipper is hand basted in. I will take it out when I am satisfied with the mock-up. The pictures expand when you mouse over them. (Someone asked how I do it. I use a JavaScript and some CSS coding. It doesn't work in google reader, though.) I am enjoying this project. I did some pattern editing, some draping, and some hand sewing so far. Maybe the mock-up will be another wearable muslin. Here's hoping...
My husband and I celebrated our anniversary this weekend. Here are a few parting shots from our wedding album.

Drafting the Zippered Jacket Pattern

Thanks to all who helped me choose which jacket to sew next. I started work on the zippered jacket this weekend. I decided to create my own pattern. First, I had to think about the fabric and the fit to determine what to do with the bust darts. The tweed is a loose weave with horizontal stripes of color and sequins, so I wanted a simple design. I like something with waist definition, so I decided on waist darts for shaping. I have a jacket pattern which fits me very well, but it has princess seams, so I needed to do some pattern manipulation.
I began with the BML belted jacket pattern which I used for this jacket. I cropped the pattern at the waist and taped the side front to the front along the upper part of the princess seam. Then I covered the pieces with tracing paper.
I traced the two pieces as one, converting the princess seam to a waist dart. I also redrew the neckline, using my french curve. For this pattern, I omitted the seam allowances. I find it easier to work with patterns when there are no seam allowances. I will add the seam allowances when I cut the fabric.
Here is what the half front looks like.
The jacket will have an asymmetrical front closure, so I will need to start with a full front pattern piece which I will later cut in two to make a left and a right side. Here I have folded the tracing paper along the center front line and traced the rest of the jacket front onto the folded tracing paper. I divided it by extending one of the dart legs up to the shoulder seam. (I later changed this when I determined where I wanted my neck opening.)
Next, I cut the new pattern pieces out, cutting the left and right apart along the dart leg and its extension.
Here are the two pieces. When I wear the jacket, I would like the zipper to appear to anyone who sees it to go from the top left toward the bottom right. I find that diagonal line to be more appealing than one which goes from top right toward bottom left. That means that from the wearer's point of reference, the zipper will be on the right hand side. Therefore, the larger front piece will be the FRONT LEFT. I always find this confusing and even though I may mark a pattern, I never trust it and I will always double check as I cut. I have learned not to bother marking the pieces. (Does anyone else do this? - second guess yourself to death?? I can't tell you how many pattern pieces I have with markings that are crossed out, changed, crossed out yet again, and changed back to the original markings. I drive myself crazy.)
Here is where I decided on the neckline and the collar. I went back and forth in my mind over having a wider neckline as in my drawing, or a smaller one. I opted for the smaller one with more coverage as I am always cold, and it will look nicer when layered. I drew a dotted line to indicate where the edge of the collar will fall. At this point, I noticed the front opening will not intersect the neckline. That needs to be fixed.
Here, I taped the fronts together and redrew the opening. I am not convinced I like it as much as my original idea with the wider neckline. Also, that diagonal line I had in my mind for the zipper is not going to work out. I think I need to let this marinate a little before I cut any fabric... I may redo it and go with my original sketch.

50s Revival and Vintage Patterns

Is anyone else totally digging the full skirt look? Everything I am wearing here is purchased. I have no trouble fitting into RTW in this style, so I am OF COURSE thinking I might need to do very little adjusting of patterns in this style. I have not bought a pattern in a long time. I am wondering if vintage is the way to go here, or should I opt for more modern patterns with vintage inspiration? I am fairly confident with sewing patterns which have little or no instruction. I know there are many of you out there in the bloggosphere who have taken a turn with a vintage pattern or two. What are the differences between vintage and modern patterns?

Which Jacket is Next?

I don't know about anyone else, but I can't watch TV with my husband without also doing something sewing related at the same time. I am either surfing the web to satisfy my voracious hunger for fashion images and sewing blogs or I am flipping through BURDA Style or Threads Magazine or like last night, planning what I want to sew. I bought this beautiful sequined Linton Tweed a while ago and I have been reluctant to sew it. My first idea was a cropped Chanel inspired jacket, but I was only lukewarm on the idea. I made a mock up and that is as far as I got with it. Then I got an idea to make a zippered jacket with a big fold-over collar trimmed with fringe. The other drawing was inspired by a hole in my wardrobe. I need a longer black jacket. I bought a fabulous cut of cashmere and it would be perfect for channel-stitching. Maybe I'll even add little black seed beads at the neckline. I have to make and test patterns, but I think I can use Bernina My Label software to draft something close for starters. Then I will make edits to add the style elements I want. I'll post all the details as I go.

But here is the real dilemma. Which one should I do first???

More Color

So while I am so ready for spring, it is in fact still winter and here in New England the snow banks are piled over my head in most places. That means I need tights if I want to wear a dress. These are actually ski underclothes, but shhhhhh. Don't tell anyone. How do you like my new yellow bag? I got it at The Limited.

Adding Color to my Wardrobe

I normally do not wear this many colors together. My inclination would be to wear a black jacket instead of the blue cardigan, but I am trying to add more color to my wardrobe. I just love the raspberry wool fabric I used for this skirt. The pattern is the Bernina My Label basic skirt. The top is Cache - just got it this weekend. The cardigan is Ann Taylor 2009.
I am so ready for spring. I bought sandals and a yellow bag this weekend as well. I am rethinking my sewing queue. I want to have more color and pattern. Do you think the design lines need to be simpler as the color and pattern get bolder? I am trying to wrap my brain around a more contemporary style.

Bernina My Label Princess Dress - Another Wearable Muslin!

Look at this fantastic fit! I am blown away!! This is a mock up of the Bernina My Label Princess Dress without sleeves. Another wearable muslin. Since I started using this program six months ago, the only garments I have made that I do not wear are the two qualification muslins I made - because I used actual muslin and marked the waistline. I wasn't sure about this one - the princess dress - since it is so fitted. I didn't want to take any chances so I used this rayon print from my stash to test the fit before cutting into the cashmere I want to use. I widened the hem circumference. The pattern is for a pegged dress, but I made it straight so I can redraft the side seams to my liking. I made two changes to the style measurements. I increased the hip to equal my hip at crotch measurement because that is my largest hip measurement. I also increased the waist to hip measurement and made it equal to my waist to crotch measurement. I did not increase the hem circumference with the software. I did that when I cut the pieces by changing the side seams so they were parallel to the grainline from the widest part of the hip (at crotch level) down to the hem. My original plan was to pin a nice slightly pegged side seam and measure it with a French curve. Then I could make a side seam template for future use. But I decided not to bother since I will probably want to customize the side seams on a garment by garment basis. And I think I prefer more of an A line on my body anyhow, so it wouldn't be necessary to make a template. Here is the back. What do you think? More of an A line???