Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sewing Day

It's been hot here. 104 yesterday and maybe a few degrees less today. To make matters worse there are fires in several areas around Southern Califorina, one less than 25 miles away. Needless to say the air quality stinks and no one wants to go outside. It was a good day to stay inside and sit in front of my tiny window air conditioner and sew.

This is my TNT jeans pattern sewn in dark navy stretch denim. I hemmed them a bit too long since denim usually shrinks after sewing, even though I wash and dry the fabric on hot four times before cutting the pattern out. I decided to sew the corduroy pants after I finish these. I thought it would just take too long to get finished if I made them at the same time. If you haven't noticed I like to get garments finished quickly. In fact, I like to sit down and sew until I can try the project on. After that, depending on how it fits, I may continue until it's done, or I may take a break if I have to tweak the fit. These jeans fit every step of the way. That's the great thing about TNT patterns.

This pattern is an evolution of this capris pattern from the Burda Plus WOF Spring 2004 pattern magazine. I've since lengthened them and changed the pocket and leg shape. These jeans are very comfortable and because it's a traced pattern, I can always go back to the original and start over if I ever finally decide to lose weight. After seeing the photos, I've become very motivated to do something.

Tomorrow I'll start on the corduroy pants. I need some opinions. Do you think I should discontinue to topstitch the yoke. I think it gives me a horizontal line right where I don't need it, but it's traditional on jeans. What do you think? Sorry the photo doesn't show more details. In consideration of my readers, I thought a small picture was appropriate because some things just need to be covered. In fact, maybe the topstitching doesn't even matter since I always wear my tops untucked. It's tucked in the photos to show details and fit of the jeans.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

SWAP Progress

To date I've completed five of my 11 garments. I really like a few of the pieces, especially the white blouse. I've never finished a SWAP before, but I've started more than a few in my lifetime.

The colors I picked out were navy, burgundy and white. These are colors that look good on me and I had almost all of them in my stash.

The first garment I made was this silk knit tie-neck Coldwater Creek knock-off top. I drafted the pattern from my TNT KS 2900. I've made this pattern four times now, but I don't think I'm ready to retire it quite yet.

I tried out a new pattern for the moleskin pants. It has a wider leg than I'm used to and I probably made them too long at least for these shoes. I may go back and alter them, but I may not. They won't be my first pick in the wardrobe, but they do work with everything else and several other things already in the closet.

The white blouse is my favorite of all the pieces so far. It's made from the TNT pattern I talked about in my last blog post. The fabric is a beautiful embroidered cotton. The embroidery puckered up the fabric and completely eliminated the need for ironing. I used white Kona cotton for the facing and didn't use any interfacing since the Kona cotton is so much heavier than the fashion fabric. I must have 200 buttons in my stash, but none of them would work for this blouse. Since I'm trying to not spend any money right now, I decided to buy the 90 cent a card buttons from Joann's. I think the plain buttons look good with this highly decorated fabric. Sorry I haven't washed out the buttonhole marks yet.

I don't have a long sleeve pattern for this blouse so I took the puffed sleeve pattern, folded out 3" from the center and cut it out adding length and narrowing toward the hem as I cut. I did have to true the cap after I cut it out. After sewing the sleeves in and hemming them, I discovered I didn't narrow the hem enough. To fix this, I just added two buttons folding out two inches which made a cute little pleat. The buttons are sewn on top of the fabric, no buttonholes were necessary. I really like the way these turned out. I must draft a real pattern for the long sleeve for next time I use this pattern.

The last two garments I've finished are the twin sweater set. For the top I used KS 2900, which is the same pattern used for the blue tie-neck top. Because the poly/rayon/lycra Sophia knit doesn't have any stretch in length and very little in the width, I added a dart and 1/2" to the side seams. I should have added more than the 1/2" to the sleeves as they are just a tiny bit too narrow. In this picture I have a decorative stitch on the neckline where I just folded the edge over. But, as you can see, the neckline was gaping some and even more with the cardigan. So today I spend about 3 hours unpicking the stiches and put on a binding. The binding mostly eliminated the gaping. I was afraid to pull it too tight which would have caused puckers. So, I'm going to live with the slight gape.

The cardigan is another pattern that I've sewn before. It's New Look 6735 which was a Best Pattern for 2008 on I shortened it two inches, but I'm only 5'1" tall. I didn't want to look like a little girl wearing her mom's clothes. I had to also buy new buttons for the cardigan. I'm beginning to think it's a waste for me to have a button stash. I never can find the right button in my collection.

There you have it. My Fall 2009 Sewing with a Plan so far. I have the denim jeans and the corduroy pants already cut out. Since my sub job for tomorrow was canceled, I'll probably work on them. I can't decide if I want to sew them separately, or in assembly line fashion. I'm using the same pattern for both and they are the same color, just different fabrications. I'm hoping the corduroy is more dressy than the denim but just as comfortable. This is a casual wardrobe, so both will fit right in.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

TNT Anyone?

I've been thinking a lot about TNT patterns, or Tried and True patterns. I have a tendency to reuse patterns a great deal. I know other sewists do this too, like Carolyn. I don't think I'd enjoy sewing as much as I do if I didn't have TNT patterns. They are like old friends. You may not call on them regularly, but when you need them, you know they'll be there for you. However, lately I've been depending on them a whole lot. I don't see anything wrong with it either. How many of us wear the same clothes over and over again because it just fits right? Like it was made specifically for you and sewn in the most wonderful fabrics. That's what a TNT pattern can do for you every time you visit the sewing machine, if you want.

New patterns are like meeting new people. You may hit it off right away, but then again, you may not like each other at all. Your personalities can work together if you don't spend much time together, but they won't be there for you when you really need a friend. New patterns have to be altered, for me more than once. It takes a lot of work to get a pattern to the TNT phase and many patterns, actually most patterns, just don't make it to this stage.

Lately, I've been getting a lot of mileage from Burda Plus WOF Spring 08 #418.

This pattern was one that took some hard work on my part to get it to the TNT stage. The one thing it had going for it was that it was a plus half size pattern. Patterns made for short AND fat people are far and few between. The original pattern looked nothing like the blouse I've been using it for.

Of course I made a muslin for it. As you can see, it had some problems. First of all, who thought it was a good idea to put this very high neck on a short fat women? Most of us don't have the long elegant neck of the tall model in their fashion photo. Some of us don't even have a neck. I cut the neckline down so that I could add a collar if I wanted to. As you can see in the composite picture, I made one blouse with a rounded convertible collar and one blouse with a collar and collar stand with the classic button band. Other changes I've made to this pattern was to round the bottom center front for a nice look since I don't tuck in my blouses. I've also changed up the sleeves. Only the top right and lower left blouses have the same sleeve. For the red blouse and the white blouse I used the same puffed sleeve and folded out the puff and added length.

There are still so many ways I can change up this pattern. The only down side to this pattern is that it has so many seams. The back has a center back seam and two princess seams for a total of 6 seams. The front and back princess seams work great for fitting purposes, but these seams also break up the print on any large motif fabric I may want to use. For that reason, I'm still searching for the perfect darted blouse pattern.

I highly recommend that you consider working on getting some TNT patterns. It doesn't have to look like you're sewing with the same pattern over and over again. People will think you're brilliant at fitting, which of course, you are. Making design changes aren't as hard as they look. You might want to pick up a few books on pattern drafting or take a class or two. It's really a lot of fun and look how your wardrobe can grow!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Poisoned Apple

Did you know that tomatoes are a member of the nightshade family? No? I didn't either. The reason I bring this up is because these type of plants are know to be toxic. While several members are actually eatable, like potatoes, peppers, and tomatoes, they may cause problems in some individuals. Tomatoes are know to cause inflammation in the joints of those with arthritis. I have arthritis and unfortunately I've been in a lot of pain lately from eating so many delicious homegrown tomatoes. I've been eating two or three every day for the last few weeks. Someone has to as my four plants are overflowing with big beautiful fruits. So much so that I'm thinking about canning some this weekend.

The only thing I got sewn this week was my burgundy suede cloth pants. I'm not crazy about them because the leg is much wider than I'm used to. It feels all floppy around my leg and I made them too long. The pattern is Kwik Sew 2720.

My muslin fit so much better in the back. I may have hiked the one side up a bit high when I put them on because they don't really fit as badly as the picture, which still isn't the fit I like. the hem is really even too, but doesn't look that way in the photo. Also, I think I hemmed them too long because they drape over my shoe ruining the line of the pants. But they do that in the artistic rendering on the cover of the pattern as well. Overall, the pants will fit in my SWAP and I'm sure I can wear them in rotation with the other garments in this wardrobe. They just won't be my favorites.

I'm going to try to cool it with the tomatoes so I can go back to sewing like a mad woman again. I'm still not working so I hate to waste this time at home when I could be working on my SWAP for Fall.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

First SWAP Garment Done

I did it, finished garment number 1. Only 10 more to go. This has to be the prettiest top I've made in a very long time. I drafted it from my TNT t-shirt pattern, KS 2900. I've reviewed the re-drafted pattern before. It's made with a silk stretch lace knit that I purchased probably 10 years ago. I think I found it at a sewing expo booth being sold by either Peggy Sagers or Cynthia Guffery. It's a frosted light blue with a navy blue under the design. Hard to describe but beautiful in person. I think the reason I hadn't used this fabric before now is because I didn't have enough to cut it out correctly. I think it was only 36" wide. It should have been cut in one direction since light plays on the frosted part and the design is one way. However, since I didn't have enough fabric, I had to cut with the front and back going two different directions. I think only someone who studied the print in the right light with my arms up would notice. The silk feels very different than cotton or rayon knit.

I've already got the next garment mostly done. It's the burgundy stretch moleskin slacks. I just need to find someone to help me get the hem length right and finish with the waistband. The third garment is all cut out and waiting for me. It will be the white long sleeved top. However, tomorrow I'll be visiting the Huntington Library with my family and MIL so I may not get any sewing done.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Fall 2009 SWAP - I Think I Can Do It

I have failed at more SWAP wardrobes than diets. Well, not really but it seems like it sometimes. In case you're new around here, SWAP means Sewing With A Plan. Lynn Cook of Australian Stitches Magazine advocates it as a terrific way to plan your sewing in an efficient manner so as to get a coordinated wardrobe that can be mixed and matched creating many different looks with only 11 garments.

If you click on the above photo, you can see what each of the fabrics will be sewn as. I don't have much white and navy in my closet, but I think they are OK colors on me. I only had to buy three of the fabrics, the rest I already had. I probably could have gotten away without buying two of the fabrics, but I really needed the denim. I must have sewn up my larger pieces of stretch denim already. I only have capris or skirt lengths left on the shelf. Since I'm sewing for fall, I decided to go with long pants.

I don't plan on making the SWAP exactly like the directions since I will be using some more complicated patterns than is suggested. Also, I don't wear skirts to work much after the first few weeks of school when the temperature starts to drop below 90 degrees. I'm more of a pants and blouse or knit top kind of girl.

I'm currently working on a muslin for the Shapely Blouse from Singer Perfect Plus: Sew a Mix and Match Wardrobe for Plus and Petite Plus Sizes. The book comes with four patterns, a jacket, a blouse, a skirt, and some pants. The book suggests you use these four patterns to make a mix and match (SWAP) wardrobe. I like the blouse and jacket, but I don't need the skirt and I already have TNT pants patterns.

I obviously need to do some altering on this pattern, but it's pretty close right out of the envelope. The only changes you see on the muslin is 1/2" added at the hips and I pivoted the back hip 1" away from the fold line for more high hip space. The back armholes seemed large, but I think if I pleat at the armhole and taper to zero at center back, I can do the petite adjustment and a full round back alterations at the same time. The bust darts are almost too high, I may fix this, I may not. I also need to eliminate the drag lines pointing to my bust.

I don't like the neckline shape on the blouse. It's too long and narrow, I 'd like it to be wider around my neck. That means a redraft. Also, it is way too short for me. I think it probably hits where it's supposed to on me since I'm 5'1" and the patterns are designed for a petite body length. I just like my tops longer to cover the belly. I think two inches should do it.

I wonder how long it will take me to sew up 11 garments. I really hope I finish these garments in time for Fall. I also hope I didn't donate all my navy shoes.