Monday, February 8, 2016

Chiffon blouse sewing progress

The bodice is complete and here I have basted it to the skirty part. Do you like my stripe matching at center front? Eh pretty good?!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Let's make a blouse!

At some point last year I was shopping with my mum in Santa Barbara. We went to Fine Fabrics on State St. and picked up an amazing length of snake print silk chiffon in white and teal. I knew I wanted to make a sexy, floaty top with it. The owner helped me eyeball how much to get and I ended up with 2.75 yd because she cuts generously.
You know how it goes. The fabric sat around for a year while I was busy with other things. And so 2015 was the year I did no sewing. Well 2016 is upon us and my obligations have mostly cleared up. The chiffon started calling to me.
I contemplated for literally weeks before I decided on the kind of top I wanted. I knew I wanted maximum floatiness. I considered how it looked over white versus black, and black won hands down.
Print over white is ethereal

Print over black is vivid

 I considered getting silk charmeuse (satin) or silk crepe to underline. I looked at pictures of slips and chemises from the 1920s to the present. I rejected bias cut because of the stripe found in the snake print. I considered drafting something myself. I considered various kinds of darts.
Then it came to me. I had a sleeveless blouse pattern, that I'd used before, that would probably work with a woven.
Fabric is striped

Saturday, December 13, 2014

More Baby Clothes


Just did the onesie on the left

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Blue silk blouse

Windy day
Lovely Blue Silk. I love natural fibers!
I wear a lot of separates, so for my latest project I decided to make a blouse. I recently finished the skirt in Simplicity 3688 and a while back I did the pants. Obviously I was happy with the 1940s style, so I decided to go ahead and do the blouse.
When I saw this blue silk at the fabric store, I was blown away by the vivid blue color. The blue did lose a bit of punch after I washed it, but I didn't let that stop me from forging ahead. This is a lining silk, so crinkles quite a bit, like parachute jumpsuits of way back when.
I did make a few adjustments to this pattern. I changed the neckline to be faced, added shaping to the back, took in the shoulder point a little, redrew the sleeve to be larger, took up the hem, and took up the sleeve for lack of fabric.
Now that I see the pictures of it on, I know I still need to work on some fit concerns. I will definitely make this blouse again. It's much easier to perfect the fit when reusing a pattern. Furthermore, this pattern is great for plain colors, which I wear often.
I took these pictures around Chico. The earrings, bracelet and broach (on chain) are Swarovski, and the jeans are NYDJ. The plain neck of this blouse is great for jewelry, no? 

Sleeves are just below elbow length

I added shaping to the back

Thursday, January 16, 2014

First step is to always MEASURE!

I have made a PDF MEASURING CHART that can be filled out or printed.

By garment type:
  • For dresses, measure 1 through 14 and A, B, C.
  • Skirts would be 2 through 6, and 12.
  • For sleeves, include 15 through 20 and D, E.
  • For pants: 2 through 6, 12, 21 through 24, all Fs, and G.
  • H is just for jumpsuits.
Or keep it easy and measure them all!

Use the space on the bottom to add relevant sizing information, for example: is perfect size 6 pant at Banana Republic; left shoulder higher; gave birth 12/2013. Weight if you find size and weight shift together. (None of these things are true about me.)

Monday, December 30, 2013

Websites for Parents

Over a series of classes I've had to come up with good internet resources for parents (parents-to-be, guardians, etc). It's a lot of work to go to waste, and these links should actually be helpful. (If you are a professional dealing with parents regularly, you might need a list like this yourself.) Check it out.


  • Baby-Safe Safely surrender your newborn baby anonymously
  • Mother to Baby Fact sheets on in-utero exposures for parents-to-be
  • March of Dimes Non-profit seeks to educate for healthy pregnancies
  • Glowing Glow is a free fertility app






Butte County / North State / California

Friday, December 13, 2013

Simplicity 1947 Suedesays Men's Corduroy Jacket

View of Cascade range as seen from tracks in Durham, CA

It was in summer when I got the pattern and fabric for Simplicity 1947, a men's casual jacket with a bit of a 50s edge. I am making this for my partner Mike. Upon consult we are omitting the horizontal topstitching details, the waist tabs, and the hood. I have chosen a grey corduroy for the jacket and a checkered shirting in white and blue for the pockets; I will also use it for bias binding the seam edges.
I fabricated this garment in November. It took about one week for preliminaries (layout, cutting, marking), two weeks for construction (stitching and seam finishing), and about one more week for finishing (final topstitching, hand stitching).
There was a rough patch where the sleeves were too long. I cut them off, shortened the sleeve, and applied new cuffs (yes both of them ugh).
Waiting until a garment is complete to check the fit often results in extra work, especially if you have to rip out finished seams to correct the fit. It's very important to try on your garment at certain points during construction to check the fit and refine it. Pin-fitting along the way is easy to do and can save a lot of time in the end. -Mary Ray, Threads Magazine  "10 Better Sewing Habits" 
 Lesson Learned.
The day Mike opened up his holiday gift he wore it. The fit is good. I am happy with the hand of the cloth. Time will tell whether the seam finishes hold up in the wash.

My Review on PatternReview
This project took me the most amount of time of any garment so far. Overall I like the pattern, the fit is good, the styling is neat.
I made this as a holiday gift for my partner Mike. I made him a size L; he's a 40R. I made this using cotton corduroy; for the pockets and seam finishes I used cotton shirting. I used a denim needle. For hand stitching, I used a thimble.
For this jacket we chose to do view B and omit the horizontal topstitching, the tabs at the waist, and the hood.
The first regret is using corduroy and cutting it with shears. There's a lot of cutting and corduroy is TOUGH like denim. I complained so much afterwards about my hand and forearm that Mike bought me a rotary cutter and mat for the holidays. If you have to use shears on bottom-weight corduroy then DEFINITELY do your cutting over a couple of days.
The second regret is my choice of seam finish. I honestly think I did it wrong, for starters - I applied bias strips it like binding on a neck edge, rather than a 'hong-kong finish' where the back side is ironed out so it catches much more easily. OOPS. After the garment was washed I went back and restitched the bias strips by hand for maybe an hour.
My third regret is not checking the sleeve length. The jacket hangs off the shoulders in an unusual way, so I didn't thinking testing the sleeve against an existing garment would work. There's a lot of pattern pieces, so there was no way I'd make a muslin/test garment. I just dove right in and never made Mike do a test fit... until the cuffs were on AND topstitched. The sleeves were two or three inches too long: OOPS. I chopped them off, shortened the sleeves and took them in, and made new cuffs. It looks OK now. This particular error is also my own fault.
My fourth and final regret is the sloppy job of easing the lower edge to the waistband. It's not something other people would notice (I hope!) but once it was all pressed and I looked at it, I saw my error. This was the last step and by this point I was just over it, so the uneven easing stays.
The other parts of the jacket I had trouble with include getting the points on the collar and collar band to match (this may be the fault of the corduroy being such a wide wale). I had some trouble with getting even topstitches, but there's SO MUCH that by the end I was more comfortable. I also had trouble visualizing the construction steps of the flange - I ended up doing seam finishes on parts that were completely enclosed.
In the end, I think it's a nifty-looking garment and I wish I got to see it on Mike more.
I like the look of the corduroy and the construction details: the topstitching (I used the heavy buttonhole thread), hand buttonholes, even the flashy check lining fabric. I love the flange design and the exposed zipper with the big collar.
I didn't have any more trouble than usual with the instructions - I grade them a B. I look forward to doing the matching SuedeSays trousers.

Party Dress Butterick 5761: In Action

My sister's wedding was a smashing success. Here are some photos of my party dress on the big day.
Bridal party of  GLAMOUR

Serious face in the ceremony

My family
Phase II: comfortable ugly shoes

Don't watch old movies? This is what you should see...

Statuesque  villainess in Ministry of Fear
More often than I would have ever imagined, people tell me they don't watch old movies. Maybe I am the only person left who still makes a habit of going to the video store? You don't know what you're missing. Here are some ideas of where to get started.

Romantic Comedies

I think old romantic comedies are about 10 times more funny than modern ones. Maybe because the sexism seems appropriately old fashioned rather than cringy.
Pick any of these actors for a satisfying black-and-white romantic comedy
  • Cary Grant
  • Fred Astaire
  • Katherine Hepburn
  • Mae West, so glamorous
  • Myrna Loy
  • Audrey Hepburn
Or try these films

Film Noir

It's imposingly French sounding, but the essence of the genre is simple. These movies were popular at the same time as racy detective and spy novels. Story-wise, films noir are gritty, exciting, and often require who-dunnit thinking on the part of the viewer. Fundamental to noir, however, is their visual style. These black and white movies were crafted very deliberately. Old cameras and lighting equipment were fussy, so that speaks to the time and care used in lighting (or shadowing) parts of a scene. The mysterious plots, with ambiguously evil characters, give substance to the extensive use of careful shadow. Good noir films have a lot of visual interest and a lot of thoughtful depth. If you like dramatic thrillers, tragedies, or suspense, check out noir. If you like photography, cinematography, or visual art in general, you should check out some of these classics.
If you don't want to mess around, pick something well recommended off a list:
from The Killers (1946)

Some personal favorites:
  • The Third Man
  • Ministry of Fear
  • Double Indemnity
  • Touch of Evil (by genius director Orson Wells)
  • The Maltese Falcon (with Humphrey Bogart, who is in a lot of noir)
  • Clash by Night (by Fritz Lang with Barbara Stanwyck)
  • and basically anything by Alfred Hitchcock
Hitchcock gives us noir shadows in The Wrong Man

More Black and White Winners

Black and white has practically become a genre. Kids these days, get off my lawn and so forth. Here are some extra credit movies to check out.
Do you have a favorite black-and-white era star?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Party Dress - Final Pin Fitting

final fit
Finally I have bitten the bullet and completed the pin fitting on the party dress. I hesitated for fear of doing it wrong... but decided enough was enough and just did it.
First I marked all the take-ins, then I took out all the pins and laid the pieces out flat. Then, I could measure the total amount I took the dress in. There was a lot of variation - with much more taken in at the front. Having decided this looked weird, I divided the total amount reduced by the number of edges - giving me 36mm.
waist and hem level

The other modification I made at this time was lowering the neckline - by literally just cutting it down. I did this on the front center piece, lowering 3/4", and the side fronts (including arm hole) tapering to nothing at the side seam.
Then I repinned everything back together with an even reduction at the waist of 36mm per edge.
Next was a fitting. Having decided the waist was adequate I was disappointed that the repinning didn't eliminate another problem I was having - the front hem riding about 2.5" higher than the rear.
The solution was lengthening the dress at the lower "raise or lower here" marking - which I had forgotten to mark on most of the pieces. Poo!
So I marked each piece, unpinned from the hem to about there, cut across the line, pinned in a scrap of fabric, and finally re-pinned all the lower skirt edges. I lowered the front 2.5", tapering to 1" at the side seam and to nothing at the rear princess seams. I used checkered fabric which was really quite helpful in terms of measurements.
Five checkered extensions were added: one center front, one each side front, and one each side back. You can see them in the pictures.
with shoes
Final fitting... on the corset goes again. I was satisfied with the hang of the lower hem now!
I am satisfied with all of the fitting (sleeves not included... don't know what I'm going to do about those still) and am ready to move on to the next step - finalizing the muslin pattern pieces for cutting.
I have made all of my fabric purchases now - rayon lining from, and silk crepe de chine for the underlining from where I also picked up some silk charmeuse.
The crepe de chine has great drape and all - but does nothing for the opacity of the dress. But it turns out that the sorta-impulse purchase of charmeuse has perfect opacity to conceal the corset. I was only going to make little drawers but now a corset cover (in this case a little camisole) is in the cards (if I have time).

love that level hem
P.S. sorry for the blurry mirror photos. They may be awful, but they help a lot with fitting!