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Saturday, July 2, 2022

McCall's 8220, Something Different

 


There is a lot that is different for me with this top. First the V neck. I rarely wear these as they are almost always way too low in patterns but this one worked out nicely without any adusting. 



It is McCalls 8220, one of their 2021 designs and suggested for wovens. It has a wide, boxy cut and dolman sleeves that are quite puffed. I like them pushed up a bit. As often happens with Big Four patterns, it is poorly photographed for the pattern cover. The garment is pushed back with the shoulder seams not settling where they should to give that half-tucked look. This is not a half tuck top. It is short and boxy, nothing extra to tuck so why fake it? That makes the top button pull the bodice out of whack, oy......


This line drawing gives a far better depiction of the pattern. Bust fullness is accomodated with gathering at center front. There was plenty enough to accomodate my bust, particularly given the width of the top, but with the fabric I chose, it literally steamed out as I pressed the garment. It wasn't shrinkage but more a matter of shaping. When I took class with Claire Shaeffer we did a lot of shaping with steam to hide construction details. On my top you will see no gathers but if you saw it up close there is a roundness in that area that appeared as I pressed the garment with steam and high heat for linen.  

Notice on the pattern that the full sleeve version which I used has far less side seam height. These are serious dolman sleeves. This is a great pattern to disregard some fit issues. 

Fabric:


Beautiful fabric purchased online  from Stylemaker fabrics. It comes in some glorious colors but I have been wanting to put some more red into my life. It's a good color on me, particularly if it is not a solid blob, but more softened as it is in this print. The fabric itself is yummy, a mid weight 100% linen but towards the lighter end, perfect for a top or dress. I might line a dress. This washed and dried beautifully and could easily avoid ironing but of course I did iron throughout the construction process and the end.  It's interesting how over the years I so often end up using Kaufman fabrics. 

Construction:


 This was an easy make and could even be made easier. It is clearly a top that I discovered, after installing my buttonholes, that could have just been a pullover. You could just stitch those buttons on and pull it over your head. 


The seams were stitched, pressed to the side and serged. I have been doing more of that lately, encouraged by Linda Lee of the Sewing Workshop.  This pattern has the band shaped to the neckline and center front. I had a bad experience with a Vogue pattern last year with a similar neckline that was just an on grain strip. If you ever see that in a pattern with this sort of neckline, it WON'T work. 

It was a journey to find the fabric for the binding, which was easy to assume was black but it really isn't. It is a wine-ish colored deep brown. Believe it or not, I found the exact color at Joann's in a 100% cotton. I prewashed and it worked out great. If you look in the pic in the middle of the facing there is a tiny line of stitching. This is where I stitched in the ditch of the piping to secure the facing. It does not show at all from the public side. 


This is the simple treetment for the hem edge of the sleeve, just folded up over elastic to make the gathers. 


Here you can get an idea  of how deep those dolman sleeves are and how wide this bodice is cut. I did no attempt at pettiting here. I have plans to make another by fall. I believe I will cut in a half inch on each side and go up and remove some depth from that armpit area as well, probably a half inch. I plan to make the next one in a nice white and gray knit stripe , a  barely 1/4 inch stripe. I think it will be really effective with the design. I also think I might add some very slight shoulder pads as well. 

In Conclusion:

I really like this top. I love the fabric and welcome the cut, color and style, something different for me.  I look forward to making it again and I know I will wear this a lot throughout the summer. It will definitely be cool and comfy. Without the piping and making the button band permanently closed it would be an even easier sew. I highly recommend.


One of the many public gardens and beautiful churches found throughout the islands. This one is in Angra de Heroismo and much larger than this small segment. The sign announces a tour later in the day.  Happy Sewing,,,,,,,,,,,,Bunny

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Back to blogging!



The view from tea farm Cha Porto Famoso, so beautiful

Hello, dear sewing sisters. First, a big thank you to those  who emailed me with your care and concerns about where I have been. It has meant a lot. I missed you as well and often tried to get back to writing but there was just so much going down. Thank you so much. I think you will understand it all once you read my post. 

In the past 2.5 months I've had a health crisis, my husband followed up quickly with his own, experienced the vacation of a lifetime, saw what must be the most beautiful place on the planet which even included being  chased, literally, by a big ole bull over a stone wall into a gracious stranger's home for protection. I have been sewing, facing life and making great memories with loved ones. With all I had to deal with I just could not fit in the blogging. I will explain each of these a bit more for you. 

These hydrangeas are EVERYWHERE all over the islands, in shades of deep royal blue to white. They line most roads.

As a young girl of 11 innocent years I experienced a life changing trauma. It was a parent's worst nightmare and one they could not have imagined. Given the time and place I was given all the love and care possible, but nothing at all like today's standards. My parents drastically changed their lives for me and did all they could. I will say that this had nothing to do with them, or anyone in my family, was not sexual in nature, but was horrid and extreme, and inthe news. I won't discuss its details further. It affected all my life decisions and was in my luggage as I carried my way thru life. I learned my own coping skills and had tremendous love and support from family and just moved on the road  in front of me. My life was and is a good one with many blessings. I never discussed this with anyone. I, and my family who sacrificed for me,  just went on.

It all came crashing down in a recent doctor's visit when I needed to answer a few questions before getting a scrip for pain meds needed for a fall I took that jabbed me in my diaphragm and was effecting my breathing with spasms and pain. "Have you experienced trauma in your life?" No one ever asked me that question. I answered yes. "What happened?" I spoke maybe 3 words and then lost my ability to speak at all. It was replaced by a volcano. I had what some would call a breakdown. I will spare you the details other than to say my doctor was wonderful, consoling and got me great help. She and her nurse cried for me. I have been diagnosed with lifelong PTSD and currently active PTSD and am getting great treatment from an expert in the field. 

About a month after this event,  a middle of the night wakeup from my husband resulted in an ambulance ride, heart attack and 4 stents. Back home................two nights later, another ambulance ride, another heart attack, and another stent, which we knew he needed. Did you know that there is a world wide shortage of contrast fluid for surgical procedures? He has recovered  beautifully and needs no further surgery.  The doctors told us to go on vakay, relax and just do no big physical craziness. No problem. He did well on vakay and is recovering nicely. 

view in Angra de heroismo from one of our rooms

On our vakay we had our entire family. We went to the Azores Islands in the middle of the North Atlantic between the US and Europe. It was a covid delayed celebration of my 70th birthday and our fiftieth anniversary. Our entire family came with us. Our 2 daughters, their husbands and all grandchildren, all teens. It was the trip of a lifetime and we had a blast all together. The Azores are truly one of the most beautiful places on the planet and we swore we were in the Garden of Eden. Their beautiful cities are on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list for their incredible architectural beauty. I could go on and on. My kids are very seasoned travelers, from Iceland to Beijing and they said there is nothing like this. We shared fabulous food, views, beaches, trails, and culture. The culture was great. We unknowingly got caught up in a small village's annual runnning of the bulls and had to park our car as the street was closed and we could go no further.

I was behind the pillar on the left hiding and taking the pic. 


 We figured it was a parade or something and hundreds lined the streets of this small town. It was a lovely residential area and the homes all had stone walls along their fronts and were loaded with family and friends barbecueing and in chairs set up to watch the festivities. My husband asked a police officer what was happening and he said it was the running of the bulls and it would start in ten minutes. Oh, my. We decided to watch. We stood in front of the wall of this lovely home and talked to the locals all of whom have run off when the pic was taken.  A gunshot went off. The excitement grew. The homeowner came up to us and very kindly said "you need to come into my house. " The next thing I knew this  black animal with horns came around the corner, racing, and came right at us. She yanked the back of my shirt. My husband and I jumped the wall and ran toward her home.  The crowd did the same. Some young men jumped in front of the bull  and lured him away and he ran into a field behind the house and they were able to grab his rope and get him under control. It was crazy. Whew!!!!

Each bag has a tag with a photo of the woman who made it. You have to see these IRL to really appreciate.

The Azores have a huge sewing culture, very skilled but different from what you might expect. There is a very strong religious aspect to their culture with much emphasis on iconography and festivals honoring their saints. We were there for their biggest festival of the year, The feast of Saint John. It was much akin to our Mardi Gras but good clean and safe fun and it goes on ALL night, night after night for 5 days. It provided a lot of  fun for us all but especially for the teens with us. Much sewing is devoted to well respected and in demand seamstresses who make the clothing worn in the dance parades, other events and the competition for "queen" at the annual festival.  There were 4 fabrics shops within a block or two of our hotel. There was not a knit or denim in any of them. They were devoted to making clothing for the various activities of the festivals and for home altar displays of religious icons. There were some beautiful fabrics but nothing I could use, exquisite Madeiran handwork, laces and satins. Think Miss America. Also in the fabric stores were fabrics to make altar cloths for your family shrines which would be dedicated to your saint or the Holy Spirit. There was one shop that sold only bags and wall hangings crafted by women my age who had their goods displayed on a huge table in the center of the room. They sat around this room in white chairs, like ladies at a quilting bee, all stitching their items. They were all of the same style but unique. Each item was out of raw, greyish linen, but VERY artfully painted by them with a sky blue or royal blue mist of paint, like a sun dyed fabric but not. They then had their edges or other areas PERFECTLY hand crocheted with tiny thread into the most beautiful lace like edges in cobalt blue or other shades of blue. The items were all different and some were edgy. These were not rows of  same size zipper bags like we see at craft fairs here. Many were unique with assymetrical shapes and artfulness was evident in all their work. Their shop was well done as well, white like an operating room all over and totally enhancing their product. So well done. Great experience seeing this shop and these ladies having such fun. I took this memory home to try. This shop was in a prime retail location. Love it. 

I also found other inspiration from  a fabulous local designer that I will talk more about later. As ancient as the islands are, there is a sophistication to much that they do. I was so impressed with her work and plan to knock off a few things there as well. 

This is where we are today. I am getting great care, working with my therapist. My husband has made some lifestyle changes and feels better and is gradually getting back to his old self but better. He is starting some rehab this week. Our children are surrounding us with amazing love and watchfullness. I feel so blessed. Life is good. I am back to sewing. I did sew some things in this time and will share with you. I need to do some modeling. Yesterday I finished a different style top for me, gorgeous linen print and look forward to getting that up for you. Thanks for bearing with my absence and most of all missing me. Love you all, 

Bunny, leaning into life



Wednesday, April 6, 2022

About making our undies...............

 


It has recently become pretty obvious that I could use some serious batch making of undies. That got me thinking a lot about the process, which really is so simple. I also thought a lot about the pattern and design, both in sewing and in retail. I looked long and hard at what was available on line and in the store, including my own undie supply of purchased pants.  I refuse to use the "P" word, just don't like it. 

My deep thought brought forth two questions. 

"Why does the front of the crotch gusset end in the middle of the crotch directly under my lady bits and not further up where, frankly, I think it belongs?"

"Why does the front edge of the crotch gusset stay open? Is it to grab profit margin at the manufacturing level?  Does something get stuffed in there I never learned about? (Stop laughing.) Really. "

I went where all sewists seeking knowledge go --- to the Worldwide Masses of Sewists on Pattern Review. It abounds with opinions, multiple levels of experience and always a lot of interest. My visit was well rewarded.  What ensued is now up to 14 pages of incredible information regarding making our own underpants, PRICELESS INFORMATION.  I highly suggest a visit there and you can see it all here.   In the meantime, so much is helpful that I thought it would be nice to sort it all out and organize the info on this blogpost along with some  linkable recommendations. 

Links to actual recommended patterns for underpants:

The Julia Pattern from Jalie 

Zero Waste Underpants from Liz Haywood

The Smoothie Pattern from Jan Bones

Pattern with an ostomy option from Jalie

Kwik Sew 2908 - High Cut Leg

Olive Undies - Full bum,  high cut leg

Maternity undies w/ scooped out tummy

Daisy Briefs, full coverage, higher front gusset

Ohhh Lulu Grace panties for wovens and knits, bias front to back

Muna and Broad, Kapunda Undies "designed specifically to fit large bodies, high rise"

The Rad Panel Undies, lots of style options on one pattern

The Floozy Doozy Undies, paneled and low cut legs

These are in order as they appeared in the PR thread or given to me later. 


Great Teaching Videos

Three styles of undies from Tom Kat Stitchery 

Liz Sews DIY panties from measurements

Sewing Lingerie Elastics with Liz Sews,  I learned a lot on this one. 


Great Tips

-Measuring the gusset and other brilliant measuring lessons are found in this link.
-Merino Wool makes a great gusset.
-Black or red cotton knit recommended for gussets of those concerned about staining as in blood.
-It's OK to keep the leg elastic flat on flat parts of your anatomy. No need to stretch.
-It's Ok to put side seams on the outside if they bother your tender skin. I will.
-Sergers make lumpy seams and many prefer a narrow zigzag on the machine instead.
-It's OK to machine sew the gusset and then grade the seam allowance, much less bulk than serging.
-The Underpinnings Museum
is a great place for ideas and you will be there a long time. 
- The Liz Sews undies are really exquisite bits of lingerie. Make sure you visit her site listed above under teaching video links. 

Please read  Pattern Review for a great discussion on elastics, fabric advice, patterns, stitching choices and pages of so much more. It's fascinating with  wonderful contributions from so many.  I hope you've enjoyed some of these links and the conversation that preceded this post. It was a bit of work to put it together but it helps me as well as you so we all benefit.  I will add more links and tidbits as they appear. Thank you to all on PR who so kindly and generously answered my question and shared their opinions. Now, why do you think the gusset is only sewn on one end and is so short?

ETA: I have added this post to the Tutorial Page above.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Merchant & Mills

 

photo courtey Merchant & Mills

While they call it their "Style and Purpose" it appears to be what we in the US call a mission statement. 

CAROLYN DENHAM AND RODERICK FIELD BEGAN MERCHANT & MILLS IN 2010 WITH THE

INTENTION OF BRINGING STYLE AND PURPOSE TO THE OVERLOOKED WORLD OF SEWING.


Are they bringing style and purpose to your sewing? And just who is overlooking us?

I see their patterns in my local quilt/rogue garment fabric shop. I am not intrigued to buy them. Who are they appealing to? This sort of merchandising does not motivate me to buy their patterns and I would venture that anyone who has a love for this craft might feel the same. 

These pattern covers do nothing to promote sewing at even the most basic level. Denham and Field have clearly chosen to appeal to an unknowing new sewist and pretty much tell them it's OK to make clothing look like crap. Iron? nevah. Fit? What's that about? Color? This year and all others it is  female Russian prison warden blah and if you use any semblance of  the primary colors you have your garment merchandised to the masses in a dark room, what you would imagine as a place where the first stages of war time torture take place. 


photo courtesy Merchant & Mills
While they are entitled to their aesthetic, what the hell does this anorak really look like before it is washed fifty times?  Now I know I can go on line and see it modeled in a dark room by a sullen faced model who seems a bit depressed over their clothing or maybe even something else. I don't know. Field is a photographer and the photos are quite artsy, but are they selling me? Not really. They just tell me he is a good photographer.  This appeal to my wallet is just too dark and heavy for my dollars to fly out. 

photo courtesy Merchant & Mills
Now this is a tee shirt I would be really proud to spread compost in. I mean, really. I know my husband got mad at me once for buying him tee shirts like this from Walmart with a lecture to never buy him tee shirts again. He will take care of that part of our relationship, thank you kindly.


Who and what are we appealing to here?  Is it me? Am I missing something for liking a neat neckband on a tee? Am I odd for wanting a pattern to show me something that will make me look pretty or at least a little special while going about my simple day? Am I being a snob for expecting someone who wants me to sew their pattern to show me a well made garment that fits well? Is it not OK to want a photo on the cover of something I can aspire to, dream about, buy fabric for? What do you think? .....Bunny

ETA: What is really sad is that the newbie sewist that is drawn into this is being led down a path of low standards. They believe designers with pattern envelopes all over creation must be experts, must know style, must know quality.  Well I am here to tell you M&M proves they don't. There is a whole world of patterns out there for all sewists and there are all sorts of patterns for all of us and so many are wonderful.  Surely M&M can set a higher standard with its marketing and merchandising. ....Bunny.......more below...


Another ETA: Last night a great analogy occurred to me for this situation.  Waffle Patterns makes absolutely fabulous and detailed outerwear patterns as well as other garments.  They are modern and expensive looking and I would buy this one in a heartbeat if I go to make this sort of jacket, which I may for next winter.  Since their photos are locked, please check out this link: the Waffle Patterns Walking Jacket.  
Here is a link to their main page.   How does their marketing compare for you?  If you had never seen either pattern before and then saw each in an envelope on a spinner rack, which would you buy?  I sure know which I would walk away from. I love the detail on the Waffle designs, they are clearly presented, in enticing color, and for those who want models who look like them (which I personally don't insist on but get it), the focus is on the garment, not the model, as most designs are on mannequins or faces are cut off.  I know which one I would buy, no brainer for me. I am sure we all have things appeal to us for various reasons deep in our psyches. For me, Waffle is the gold standard. 

Saturday, March 12, 2022

A Tale of Three Tops

 


In the week and a half that followed the making of the batik Eureka top I made two more, each quite different from the first and each with it's own story. Bear with me as I go thru their individual dramas here. I won't be focusing too much on construction as you got that on the first batik version and can read all about that here.  Instead, I will tell their stories. 

Far right:

This is a knit version of the Eureka top. 


 First, pardon the horrific lighting on this photo. Now, more importantly, pardon the fact that I even made this top. Here is my story. I was in Joanns walking the aisles hot with triumph on the little Eureka top and itching to make another. I thought I'd try a knit as that is what the top was originally designed for. The knits all looked rather blah.  As they hung together, draped on their boards, this one, with its gray background and blobs of color called out to me more than the others. This was the one.  Those blobs were interesting, colorful, and the gray background would go perfectly with fabric I had at home for some matching cargo pants. Let's go to the cutting table. Done, on to home. 


I washed the fabric and set it aside for the moment and dealt with other distractions.  Was the fiber poly or rayon or a blend? It was a very thin knit and very very drapey. The knit section is all mixed up so it could be anything and I forgot what the bolt said. I got my receipt and looked up the sku on their website and was mortified. It was part of a whole collection of prints called various names but all together as "African Print Fabric." They were called Kente fabric, Ethnic fabric  and Global fabric.  Seems my sideways blobs were the continent of Africa. I never felt so stupid in my life but more importantly I had this awful gut feeling that this fabric was not mine to sew.  Hubs walked by it later and I asked him what it looked like and he said " a continent", which one,  " Africa".  OK.  So I thought and thought. I know I did not want to appropriate that fabric for myself and apologize for my ignorance to all my sewing sisters. They did have similar fabrics in the store, which I found on a later visit, but this bolt was in a totally different area with the knits. Here's what I decided. I am going to make this and figure it out as I do.  I'll comment a bit on the making and wearing first. 

Above you can see I used the selvedge to make the collar binding which is a french fold binding to the front of the garment. It took a bit of fuss to  get things to lay just right but not too hard. 


I also utilized the selvedge to add a small pocket on one side. You can also see here the sleeve cuffs.  I ditch stitched them at the top and bottom as I did on the batik but they insisted on drooping open and looked awful. I tamed them into submission with a bit of  Steam A Seam Lite mid cuff and it hangs nicely now.  As I am making this my mind is coming up with various ideas of the best and final use of this garment. 


The hem was stitched on the edge as well as in inch further up.  I gave this garment my best efforts. 

Not far from my home is an organization that specifically helps women in need for various reasons. One of the groups they help are new refugees. They take donations of clothing and I have often donated there as opposed to Good Will and SA as I see it go directly to these women in need. I know for a fact that they are helping out a large group of Somalian women and their children, refugees. I will donate my top there, along with some other summer clothing. It makes me feel good to see it go to one of them. When I did hiring at the axle factory years ago, I dealt with Lutheran services and many "Lost Boys" and other refugees from war ravaged areas of Africa.  The women would come for interviews in their beautiful ethnic garb and wore the most magnificent large smiles. I always remember their smiles. How they could muster them after what they had been thru......any way, I will donate this shirt and a bit more to the organization that helps this community and I feel good about that. 

************************


My third Eureka based top, but this one is quite different.  I have been ooo-ing and ah-ing over the Sewing Workshop Gardenia Dress for some time.  I went on a great fabric buying trip last week and wanted to check yardage and details on that pattern in case I actually did get to make it. The more I looked at the pattern the more the Gardenia dress looked like the Eureka top with a few changes. Could I knock it off? Do I dare try? WTHeck and get out of the way!  I studied the details and measurements. I definitely didn't get it exactly but close enough to have a cute top called whatever. When I was all done I compared and I did get a few things wrong but dang, I think I got a pretty cute top out of the attempt. 



First I lowered the neckline by about a half inch in the front to the shoulder seam. I then redrew the pattern front and then divided it into two pieces with that division being about 2 inches to the right of center front. Each piece  had 2 1/4 inches of fabric added to it. This became seamed together and made into a big tuck. I stitched my tuck down like a zipper fly which you can see if you look closely. It is included in the neckline binding. The Gardenia does not have big binding like this and it is not secured down.  This gives it a lighter look than my top. 


On one side of the garment, my left, there are  four tiny tucks between that large tuck and the side seam. Inserted into the big tuck and the side seam is a bias tube that pulls and gathers the excess fabric. I had to open this side of the top with wedges to extend it out about 3 more inches. At the hip, the Gardenia is 8 inches bigger than the Eureka.  I made those tucks and wedges from about an inch below the apex down to the hem. . The tucks are a fat 1/8th inch and about 4 1/2 inches long. You can barely see them in the pic. There is a lot of comfortable volume here but controlled by this tie.  I LOVE this top. I am going to redraw the tissue neatly today and plan on making more. It is not quite the Gardenia, but it is a nice top and could be a dress if need be. Most of all, I had a blast making this pattern work. It was a really enjoyable after noon of brain work, looking at the pic and transferring it from my brain to a new tissue. 

ETA: The fabric is Brussels Washer Linen from Kaufman. It is 55% linen, 45% rayon, easy to sew, easy to wash and maintain. 


I can't thank you enough if you have made it to the end of this blogpost. Like I said, lots of story here. I am now moving on to a batch of undies for myself and than I am going to start on some summer pants. I have lots of fabric to play with and McCalls 8099 which looks great on those I have seen it on. Fingers crossed!.

Friday, February 25, 2022

The Eureka Top!!!

 


 Eureka! And what an appropriate name that is for this simple top!  This boxy little number is designed and sold by Linda Lee and the Sewing Workshop and you can find it right here.   I really have fallen for this simple design. It begs to be part of the "simple design, fabulous fabric" club and succeeds quite successfully at it, IMO. 

I was not sure how it would work out for me. It was quite wide, quite shapeless and I was quite smaller, and with shape. Would it be another artsy type garment I have purchased from other artsy type designers that I have long since learned don't work for me? Big volume overwhelms me. But this design did not come across on me as big volume despite the bust size on the Xsmall being 43 inches! Somehow Lee knows how to make innovative designs without gooping them up with gobs of fabric and it's delightful. Let me get into my review for you. 


Pattern:


I have my hand on my hip and not pushing any fabric to the back here. There is fabric hanging toward the back from the sideseams back where it should be but not a big oversized looking amount.  The garment is cut wide but hangs directly from below the armpits, which are quite low. I found with the cuffs there is no bra showing on me and that is usually a problem on most sleeveless garments for me, never mind one cut like this. I did not have to adjust the angle of the shoulders at all. My shoulders are narrow and a bit sloping. There is a nice curve to the angle of the shoulder area.  


This pattern is sold online at the Sewing Workshop website and includes the skirt, which for some reason I am not a fan of but you will see more of these tops from me. It can be made in wovens or knits. I have bought directly from SW which of course means I pay shipping but it also means that it is on sale now and then. Every week SW features certain fabrics and patterns at a discount and it pays to be patient. However, my local gourmet quilt shop now sells these patterns and I bought my Eureka directly there. They are getting more and more great garment fabrics and patterns all the time which thrills me. I wear the XS in this top but the XXL goes up to 50.75 bust. There are no darts and the garment is much longer than the way I adjusted for my height with the hem. 

Fabric:


I fell in love with this fabric the minute I saw it. I have always loved cotton batiks. They were made for clothing long before people appropriated them for quilting.  I love their tight weaves and distinct coloration but this one was really unique. It shaded with an ombre effect from selvedge to selvedge so I could not use the layout needed for a 45 inch fabric and I just, JUST managed to squeeze it in and match the front and back of the design. It took some serious juggling but it all was on grain and matching in the end. 


It is 100% cotton and its bit of stiffness worked well for the pattern. Today I made another Eureka out of a soft knit. This pattern works better with a fabric with some body, IMO. The exception to that would be the versions I have seen worked up in sweater knits, beautiful! IRL, this fabric is even more interesting. It looks like sewing threads are stuck all over it, glue has rubbed off on it and stuck on, and kind of like it was used to wipe up the garage floor, but in exquisite shades of blues. My husband really loved it. I believe it is made by Kaufman. It came out of the wash and dryer with that pebbly "you don't have to iron me" look like linen gets, really nice fabric. 

Construction:




Obviously, this is quite easy to make. Here are some bullet points regarding the fit and sew:

* I reduced the hem by 4 1/2 inches total. I folded up a 2 1/2 inch hem and the rest I cut off.  I tried my second Eureka today with the designed hem and its proportions were really wrong on my height. Test to see what works best for you. 

* The hem is interfaced with Fusi Knit, serged and topstitched. 

* Lee has you stitch all seams, serge them and iron to the side.  I like how she always goes for an easy but clean look. I have a thing for deep hems lately. 

* The neckline is interfaced for about an inch with Fusi Knit, not in pattern. 

* The shoulder seams are stayed with  a strip of selvedge, not in pattern.

* The only issue I have with this pattern, and quite a few others from PR did as well, is the method shown for the neckline. It is odd and confusing and a crossgrain strip is recommended for all fabrics,  knit or woven.  I tried it and was confused and unhappy with the results. There are just so many ways to bind a neck but not use a bias strip on a woven?  I used my preferred French fold stretchy strip on the second Eureka today and it went together so easy peasy. I will say the strip did fit the neckline perfectly despite being woven and stretched as I sewed but did it lay nicely when done? No. Luckily the weird design of the fabric and the dark spots hide a lot of sin here. I wasn't about to undo a bias neckline of all those stitches and stretch it out and start over. It doesn't look bad, just not great, so I left it. If you have your own method of finishing a neckline that works for you, just use it. 


* The "sleeves" have folded cuffs that you attach easily to the garment.  There is no easing or gathering.  Then you are advised to fold them back, if desired, and tack them in place to keep them in place.  In the picture you can see two tiny red arrows. After I had the cuffs attached,  I ditchstitched them at the underarm seam of the cuff and at the opposite area, on top of the cuff in an arbitrary spot  that just was where the dark blue met the light blue.  I stitched for about 3/4 of an inch and you can't see it at all. I used a 1.5 stitch length. It keeps the fabric cuff in place nicely. Do you see how it looks like threads are all over the cuffs? That's the design!

In Conclusion:


This is a great pattern that I highly recommend. I finished this yesterday and today I made another one and starting cutting out a third. My second is a loosey goosey knit with a totally different look (and story).  Today I started working on my third. The third is very different as I really played with the design.  I had a lot of fun playing around with this wonderful base garment. I think we all need  something simple in our stash that can be turned to in a moment's notice, a garment that will let the fabric shine. It is a garment whose construction is so simple that we know we will succeed and that it can handle whatever fabric we throw at it. Could be a tank top, tee shirt, or a Eureka top. I know I will make this again and again and look forward to cold weather versions, maybe some woolens with felting or applique or maybe more summer versions with painting or stenciling. This top is a canvas waiting for ideas to find their home. 

Please forgive the awful white jeans. These were the only summer looking pair of pants I could find as every thing summer is still packed away, she says as 8 inches of snow has fallen since morning. Those jeans are about three sizes too big but I keep them for the moment when I will take them apart and make them fit me once again. It's not today. I'm busy having my eureka moments. Happy Sewing............Bunny


Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Down and Dirty Muslins

 


The topic of Muslins and sewing can really set some people off. I made one for my wedding gown many decades ago but thru the decades they really became few and far between. I just didn't see the value unless I was making a one time very expensive investment garment. 

Then, around about the 80s , when I got back into the work force and needed and wanted to make professional clothing, I realized I needed to learn a lot to get to the point where I could make my clothing fit well. I studied books, bought quite few, taped videos, bought a few of those as well. Tried loads of techniques and tricks. Eventually I gave making a muslin a try for a complicated garment that I needed to fit. It was this Vogue Bill Blass affair with curving seams that controlled the fit but were not princess seams. The were more like fitting curves on a quilt. I made my muslin, got it to fit nicely, and had a new attitude toward the whole concept of making muslins. I did them over and over, but not too often in the beginning. As time has gone on, I am a total convert. 


This is a top I just finished. Why on earth would I bother to make a muslin for this, a simple top, no sleeves, no closures, no darts, big as heck, and pretty much just a big box? 

I am small. I needed to know if it would be too big and look ridiculous. 

I needed to know if I could get the neckline over my head, sewing it in a woven fabric.

I needed to know where to cut for a hem that would be just past my waistline.  The original is at the end of my hips. 

I needed to know if my bra would show at the side seams with the deep exposed armscyes. 

Now, when I make a muslin, it is down and dirty. People hate making muslins. The way I do it, I am done within a half hour, the most, even that Memphis dress I just made. You can see the blogpost on that muslin here. A muslin takes very little time, yet gives  you incredible feed back. 

I do no closures, using pins instead.

I cut off the hems to see where they land.


I  stay stitch my necklines and sleeveless armscyes and clip them back to the stitching line.  I have seen more people complain about their armscyes being horribly tight but they haven't trimmed the armscye back as they would in the real garment and they proceed to make a fitting adjustment. Oh,my.

There are no pockets, collars or other fussy details.  Although, sometimes I have placement concerns on my short body, wide hips and boobs. In that case I just cut an outline of fabric and pin it on. 

My muslins are brought to their absolute essence of the garment's fit and not much else. Then I try it on. I've seen people do all the details in a muslin. 

My muslins aren't made in printed fabrics. That distracts the eye and plays games with your assessment. Not a good idea to use leftover prints to make muslins, ever.

Then again, some people think they need to make an entire wearable garment in a muslin. Now that, IMO, is downright ridiculous. Hey, I'm entitled to my opinion.  A muslin, in order to give you proper fit feedback, needs to be able to be written on. You need to mark your bodices and bottoms with horizontal balance lines and vertical grainlines. You see those marked with red Sharpie on the pics here.  Why, you ask? Because the minute you put that garment on and those lines are skewed, they will show you exactly what your fitting problem is, no getting diagnoses from the tons of experts at Pattern Review. Instead you can see right where the fit is off with your lines. Next, you can write on your muslin---"decrease shoulders 5/8ths of an inch." Raise hem one inch." Etc, etc. etc. It's priceless and you will know exactly what to do when you correct and cut out your pattern. 

I know, you are a Wearable Muslin Maven, a WMM. I know for a fact that the near total percent of those who sew patterns simply are not the exact height and measurements of what is on the pattern envelope for one size.  Do all you WMMs really enjoy walking around in clothing that doesn't fit? If it fit you probably would not have tried making a muslin to begin with.  The other,  how does it help you?  You can't change much of anything if you need more room or length or have to push things forward, insert wedges, do FBAS. How can you tell if you made the right change? Perhaps another technique would be better. Wearable muslins give you ill fitting garments. Why do that, just why? That would be a huge waste of money for me as I am not about to go out in sloppy fitting clothing of my own make. Oh, but you think you are being thrifty buying cheap fabric instead of unwearable muslin. Uh, no. I use old sheets, many from the thrift, some of my own, very very  cheap. I also re use them, cutting up large pieces into small for newer muslins. No money is wasted here but by now you know me and that I have that cash angle all figured out. It's what I do. 


Then there is the " I don't have the time for that business." Well I guess you do have the money then because clothes that don't fit usually don't get worn and are eventually taken out of the back of the closet and donated or chucked.  In my world, time is money and I hate to waste it.  Again, I don't think I have ever taken more than half an hour to make  a muslin, moments very well spent. 

The fabric above became my extremely simple Eureka top. I have two more in the lineup. It is fast and simple and the next is a snug knit so I will take out some width. I went for the current very popular boxy look with my batik that you see in the first pic. There will be more on the pattern to come but I wanted to share my opinion on the value of muslin making with you all. I know you definitely have your own opinions and I do respect. If you would like to see some great examples of this simple block-y tee shirt which you are probably shaking your head at, click here for a gallery that will show you why I got hooked. Now that the fit is worked out this top can be whipped up in no time. Thanks for letting share my thoughts. 
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I was going thru my woolen fabrics the other day and found this tag on a piece of nice gray wool I picked up at a neighbor's yard sale. I thought you might enjoy seeing the tag from the original store, not the yard sale, that was on it.  If only 100% wool were that price today!


I had to really up the contrast so you could read the faded tag.  Happy Sewing..................Bunny




Monday, February 14, 2022

Don't sew with Covid!!!

 


This picture is really the solution to one of my sewing issues right now but you will understand that in a moment. If I have learned anything in the past couple weeks, it is do not sew under the influence of Covid 19 and it assorted variants. This I have learned first hand. It is just not worth it and I promise, you will mess up whatever you will work on. You won't succeed, as much as you want the endorphins emitted by your usual joy of sewing to work their magic on your exhausted body, they just won't. 

First off, I am just fine now and out of harms way with the blessing from my doc to attack life at full speed ahead. The Omicron variant made it's way through our entire family since Christmas, our daughters, spouses, grandchildren, all and more. Truth is we have deliberately avoided each other to avoid the illness so we know we didn't get it from each other. It's just sticking to and floating about everywhere out there. There is no avoiding it so don't even try. Frankly it wasn't too bad. I have had colds and flus far worse than Omicron. What Omicron had that was distinct from those was the four days of fever and absolute total exhaustion that came in waves.  Just when you think your are better and running down to your sewing space to reclaim your sanity, another wave hits and back to bed you go, FOR HOURS. So much sleep. It's a weird disease but I am glad we are here to talk about it. 


My wardrobe has been overdue for a crisp new white shirt.  In a moment of insanity I figured my bout with Omicron would be the perfect time to start.  Not quite.  Above you see two of the four collars I made before I got one that finally went on the crisp white shirt. What you really can't appreciate in this pic is the bulbous shape of the tips here. I have never made such nasty collars in my life. By the end of the fourth collar I just sewed what I had on. It was far from my usual but in the brain fog that everyone tells you comes with Covid, it was the best I could pull forth.  At least no bulbous lumps. 

When the fog hit so did another wave of fever and I retreated. Next day, in what seemed like a moment of clarity, I went for the burrito yoke, my own personal addition to the plain, flat back of the shirt. First I decided to do a bit of gathering at center back. Then, hmmm, is that backwards? Covid Brain  says "Could be, but maybe not." Not sure how I did it but my gathers look backwards. I stitched it up into my burrito yoke anyway because another symptom of Covid is just not caring. But the burrito deal came out pretty well. Fever's staying away.  Ooops, almost forgot to deal with my facing before I get Covid Collar on. That's the first picture on the top, which you are seeing inside out. Hmmmmm,,,, I made the facing with its folds, fine. Then it was time for the collar band. I did my best Nancy Zieman imitation and uh, oh, trimmed too much off.  So very ugly. 


It's as bad as a case of hemorrhoids that won't tuck back in! I tried everything and will eventually hand sew it to get compliance but I needed to lay down first. I know I went about it all wrong. It was as if parts of my brain were just missing during this four day fog part of Omicron aggravation. That happened as I was shaking with chills despite sewing in a 72 degree room with a sweatshirt and two heavy sweaters on. Back to bed. So ugly. 

Do you get the sense I am not caring? I just want to lay down. I am just giving up on this till I feel better. 

Now I do. Yay! 

Now I returned to my crisp white shirt. 

I had my healthy, brain cleared moment. I'm officially better. 

Let's go take a look at that first picture at the top. When I returned in full health and looked at my white mess, I realized that if I treated that folded front facing as a button band, turned my blouse inside out and made the inside the permanent outside, my blouse looked pretty good. The wrong side of the details were better than the public side. With the burrito yoke every thing was finished and I hadn't sewn up the sides yet.  I had a solution!

- Topstitch my CF facing on both sides and call it a button band. 
-  I could have my gathers that were folding in weird now look just right. 
    

This, above, instead of this below. 


My collar band could look like this instead of that horror I showed you. 


So once I made this decision to turn my crisp white shirt wrong side out and accept it's diversity among my many pieces of clothing inhabiting my wardrobe, there was no stopping me. I decided to use shiny white Kam snaps instead of buttons so I wouldn't have further misery dealing with the top button on that collar band that was already mocking all the sewing knowledge I had ever accumulated.  The other thing my release from brain fog allowed was to do the bottom of my CF button band with the David Page Coffin (R.I.P.) method of turning a corner. I was now actually able to remember such sewing gems. You simply fold the seam allowance over and turn it with a forceps, perfection!


If only I had remembered Coffin's gem when it was time to turn my collar, sigh.........I am blaming the inside out crispy white shirt  on viruses and variants. I'll show you and review the pattern when done. I have been seriously tempted to redo the collar for the fifth time but that surgical trimming I did would leave me nothing to stitch to so it is what it is. We all get a fail now and then but I will make this wearable. 

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Next issue:
Buying Fabric Online

I have had two  big issues rcently with buying fabric online. Actually one issue.  IT IS A CRAP SHOOT. When I put out our hard earned money, I just hate failure. and these two purchases failed me. 

Purchase number one was one of those emails from Fabric Mart and I caved for some seven dollar a yard "French Terry" on big clearance. 3 yards later I had my garbage. The color was lovely. The fabric sucked. It was thin and nasty. If I stitch two layers together maybe I can salvage it as a beach towel. Otherwise, it is not touching my body, anywhere. 

Purchase number two is gorgeous fabric. I am not kidding you. Another sale item but still very costly. I bought it from Emmaonesock. It is a wool sweater knit. It looks like wools I hand  dyed years back when I was into such things and had a big sink in my sewing space. It was gorgeous. It was embroidered all over with open curving vines, beautiful. The description said some of the vines had a bit of "lurex" in them. Now I know what Lurex is. It sparkles. So, I was expecting some sparkle but being sparkly  was not evident in the photo. Again, this fabric is gorgeous. I wanted one yard to make a Eureka top from Sewing Workshop. It makes a darling short sweater. I loved the hand dyed look and the embroidery was not over the top. Wrong!!! It arrived on my doorstep and I raced to open it. It is exquisite and does it sparkle? Well,  Let's just say I am ready for the Met Gala. You won't get the amount of sparkle in my photos because sparkle just does not photograph well for anyone, even Emmaonesock, which is the issue.  Just trust me. It is 1/3 plain embroidery and 2/3 highly sparkly embroidery. Think sequin sparkly. Again it's gorgeous but I don't know what I will use it for. Maybe next year's New Years Eve will find me in a Eureka Sweater in this. It will be a fabric to admire until I figure out something to do with it. 

Backside of the fabric: 

Front of the fabric:


The thin line of embroidery is extremely sparkly and is a holographic type of thread. This pic does not show any where near the amount of glitz this gorgeous fabric emits. Think solar flare. It will not be the short wool sweater I wanted to throw over a turtleneck and jeans and wear to the market, which was my goal but maybe one day it will be something special. In the meantime I will certainly admire it. Sigh..........................

I detest spending money on fabric I won't use, thriftress that I am. My sis is making a Eureka sweater out of plain, solid wool boucle and it is coming out perfectly. I think I need to check that out. Another sigh for all the disappeared opportunities to buy fabric in person..........................................Bunny


McCall's 8220, Something Different

  There is a lot that is different for me with this top. First the V neck. I rarely wear these as they are almost always way too low in patt...