Thursday, January 23, 2020

Want to come up and see my sketchings?

After I finished the boucle top my studio was a disaster, despite picking up every day when I am done. I took a whole day to recover from the boucle episode but just kept going, and going, and going,,,,,,,,,,3 days later my whole den of  Sewing Zen was reorganized and I was happy. Once again, I knew where everything was and now it was time to move forward.




In my cleaning I discovered a sketch pad I really thought was blank. I opened it to find all sorts of drawings I did back in the late 80s and 90s. It was really fun to review them. There was a lot of patchwork, fringe, just all sorts of over the top surface embellishment. I still like them today but would probably tone them down a tad, a big tad! Those were the days of 60-80 hour work weeks and if I couldn't make my ideas in fabric, at least I could draw them out on paper. After going down memory lane, I  took a pledge to start sketching again. These days I seem to go from brain directly to fabric cutting. Back then I enjoyed putting what was in my head down on paper first. Then,  when I did have time to shop and sew, reviewing my pad was like reaching into a toy box and deciding what special toy I would play with  that day. I am definitely going to sketch more.



This is the blanket skirt I am working on. It is Simplicity 2655.  It has 6 gores and a deep waist yoke that goes from upper hip to high waist, at least it will when I am done with it. I am using View E, bottom left.


It is SHORT but will be worn with my fleece leggings and boots, hopefully a good look.  The center front gore  will be quilted with diagonal blocks. There will be a border of just meandering scrolls sort of  around all of  the hem. My own input is making it a wraparound skirt and doing the center front panel asymmetrical.  The pattern uses a zipper.


 It will be  underlined with cotton flannel. This little skirt needs to provide some warmth! This blanket skirt is  a bit of an oxymoron with its short length and cashmere/flannel fibers. Their primary function,however, is to allow the decent wearing of leggings without exposing our divine lady bits to the entire world. I think it's a great concept and have seen many in our climate wearing these.  Some look like short little "puffer" versions and others look like short little heavy sweaters. Many are just heavy fabric skirts, like this will be.



I really lucked out here with the fabric. In my organizing frenzy, I found a BIG piece of black cashmere that was left over from making my cashmere coat a few seasons back. You can just see the glow. It is so yummy.  Score!  I had no idea I had this big piece of cashmere hanging around. The underlining is 100% cotton flannel, the better to keep my booty warm.  It's going together pretty quickly so hopefully I will have more for you soon   We have a lot planned this weekend and I was hoping to wear it but won't happen. I want to savor the process. Everything on this should be easy.   



I've gotten a big positive bunch of compliments on the Vogue top. Thank you to all for your kind thoughts. It was a challenge but that was a lot of my own making do to my choice to not follow the pattern as written. But isn't that what patterns are about? Inspiration and guidance? Heck, this blanket skirt isn't going to be like the Simplicity pattern either! .......Bunny
P.S. Did you catch the date on the sketch below? Upper left.


Saturday, January 18, 2020

Vogue 1642 - I think I overdid it!


I have so much to say about this pattern. I am just going to throw it all out there. I like it. It is warm, wooly, cozy and the perfect thing to wear with that snowy environment you see behind me. Recommended fabrics are medium weight wool, flannel and fleece. The design of this pattern makes for some serious bulk with those fabrics and that took a lot of care and attention. Because I chose a wool,  I felt my fabric required techniques that would be more involved than any fleece or flannel versions.  I did a muslin as you saw in a past post here and made even more changes, leaving the hem the length the  pattern specified and taking down the sleeve width even more. I wore this out socially last week with friends. I got oooos and ahhhs but I am still not sure where I stand on this yet. We'll discuss.................I will review this by it's parts, a bit different from my usual format but I'll start with pattern and fabric. 




Pattern:

This is Vogue 1642, rated "EASY". I do not think so. The inset corners on the collar alone take this out of easy status, right there, so be forewarned. This top has raglan sleeves fitted with darts at the shoulder which I like. The sleeves are cut VERY wide. I removed a full inch of width from them but would remove even more if I make it again. It is intentionally cut large and I like that as I most likely will have a turtleneck or sweater on underneath this top.  It also contributes to that cozy sweater-y feel. The way I constructed it makes it an outer garment if it is not super cold. There is a lot of volume here but that is well shown in the photo on the pattern envelope as well as in the width measurements on the back of the envelope. Don't be surprised unless you didn't do your due diligence. I did the XS size and the bottom width is 41 inches, pretty much the same at the bust so I didn't do my usual FBA.  I did petite the pattern as always. I also cut the height of the collar down about 3/8ths of an inch and cut down the pocket and flaps as well. 

Fabric:

The fabric is a 100% wool boucle. I believe I got it at Fabric Place Basement in Woburn. It is lovely and I am glad I used it for this design. Using this in wool, IMO, requires that it be lined. Despite the fact that wool is recommended as one of the fabrics to use, no lining is offered. Not a good idea.  What I chose to do was underline my boucle with Bemberg rayon lining fabric. It worked out well.  I did not interface the collar as I wanted a sloppier look and there were a lot of layers going on here. 



Underlining  meant the only two vertical seams were finished with a Hong Kong treatment. You can see that above as well as the lined sleeves felled to the underlining.  Since the facings would show when worn and since the boucle was bulky I bought some lovely THIN rayon ponte. Wrong move!

Sleeves:





For the sleeves I really wanted to use a Nancy Zieman technique I like and you can see more of here. The sleeves are fully lined and hand stitched to the bodice in the end and it's very easy. Initially I cut the lining wrong but I was able to piece a new lining. Unbeknownst to me, bemberg rayon has a nap so it doesn't match. Who knew? Who is going to see the inside of my sleeves? No one! The sleeves had a full inch of width removed from them from the wrist to the armpit. 

                              
I hand stitched wiggan to the hems of the sleeves to give them some more body and a bit of a roll, the way I learned with Claire Shaeffer. They would be limp other wise and I like that extra body.  


Above you can see how the sleeve was sewn to the lining at the hem edge. then the wiggan was installed and the lining pulled up and the hem pressed into place and the lining then  cut. This was all opened up again as you see above and the entire lining and sleeve seam is sewn in one operation. The sleeve is then pressed, turned and the lining fell stitched into the bodice.

Collar:



The collar consists of two sections - the back and the front part with the zipper. The back and the front both are faced with the ponte but there is a "pleated underlay" that is seamed between them at the zipper, also of the ponte. The underlay is also faced with more ponte. So at that zipper we have two layers of ponte for the underlay, another layer of ponte for the facing, the zipper tape, and the boucle, five layers in all. Then at the bottom of the collar unit we have all of that plus 4 more ponte layers for the pleats, the underlining and sewing across through the zip and inset corners. This is no easy pattern, people! Just to get things even was difficult. I never do but this time I stay stitched all edges involved on the collar and the bodice with 1.5 stitch length. I sewed in the bottom only of the collar finding the nylon coil not too bad to sew through. I also found sewing through that lightweight ponte was like sewing through iron. It took a few needle tries to get the right one, a size 16 stretch and all the layers were happy. 



Above you can see the bulge of all the layers, crazy!

After sewing that little bulky bottom part I graded out as I could, respecting the zipper and the unraveling boucle. The boucle unraveled in the direction of the seam so if I serged it, it would have just pulled off, oy.......... Once that was all secure, I  decided to to a trick usually saved for plaid matching. I matched my staystitching lines on the collar and bodice and slip stitched them by hand  in place on the stay stitching lines. There was a subtle curve to the collar and it would have been lost if I just machine stitched it on.  This is starting to be a major hand to-do! After the collar was all slip stitched into position, then I could turn the top inside out and machine stitch the seam on the hand stitching line. 

Pockets:



When I wore this top out last week I didn't have any sort of closure on the pockets. You couldn't even see them. I had been all over the web and to the chains looking for rose gold buttons or such to put on the pockets, total strikeout. Then a bag making friend suggested I tried magnetic bag snaps but here is her brilliance. Magnetic bag snaps do not show on the outside of a bag. They come in pretty, shiny colors but they are on the inside of the bag and they stick. I did not need my pocket flaps  to really close. I just needed some bling to match the zipper. My friend suggested just putting the male part of the magnet snap on the outside and be done with it. Brilliant! There is nothing for it to fit into as the male part looks more like a big rivet and can't function without it's better half and there is nothing to connect that better half to and still show. Just too cool! 

So I installed the magnetic male stud and was very happy. There is a piece of crinoline then a piece of wool  for the legs of the magnet to be hammered down to. 

One caveat about these pockets. if I were to make this again or if you do, make the flaps a bit wider. They are the exact size of the pocket width. The garment moves and sways due to its volume  and these flaps can look like they don't line up with the pockets because they are the exact same size. I would make each side a 1/4 inch wider. 

In conclusion: 




If I were to make this again, and I might in a lighter weight fabric, I would totally eliminate the underlay. It serves no purpose and makes the collar lean way out in front of the wearer's neck. This would eliminate a major amount of bulk that is in the area at the bottom of the collar at the base of the zipper. I would make the flaps for the pockets wider. I would decrease the width of the sleeves at least another half inch, for a total of an inch and a half. I would like to try this in a heavyweight linen or such and see what happens. In the end I think I have a beautiful jacket that feels really great on my body,and that I will wear for many years. It is warm, comfy and stylish. I just think it would look better and be more attractive without that pleated underlay.. I would not hesitate to recommend this to an experienced sewist with the above caveats. I think you will be glad you made the effort. It really is nice...........Bunny

 













Friday, January 10, 2020

Blogging

photo courtesy edgetech.com


Blogging started for me with the discovery of sewing bloggers back around 2007. I had belonged to sewing forums for some time and it was natural curiosity that made me click on that first link to a blog. I am 99% sure it was The Sewing Divas.  I was hooked. I found women who, like myself,  were passionate about sewing garments. Living in much isolation in the Northern Adirondacks in NY state gave me lots of time to sew and lots of time to read. These blogs were the human connection to my passion and pastime. I searched for more blogs and eventually started writing my own. Back then they were of great substance, being written out of a driving desire to share one's passion. There was no monetization, no Indie pattern makers, no fangurls, just those seeking to share their most favorite pastime. It was the era of The Sewing Divas, Gigi Sews, Summerset Banks and Lindsay T. You got quality information, high level tutorials and a place to comment, communicate and be part of an ardent community. (I've given you links, where possible, to these blogs so you can see just what I mean. Enjoy. ) While blogging was in it's infancy, it was also in it prime. Bloggers gained commenting followers. Those commentors started their own blogs. We communicated our sewing love and techniques to each other.

As more and more sewists began to read blogs, they began to write their own and the platform proliferated. There were "blogrolls" to connect each other and to not let anyone go unnoticed. Skills, fails,  fabric photos and successes were shared generously and sewing blogging grew. Everyone wanted to blog. Looked easy enough, right? That bandwagon was getting jumped on!




Enter monetization.

The sewing blogging world started to change. Not a good or bad thing, just evolving. With the promise and ability to use one's blog to sell to other sewists, it grew so quickly that it became the Wild, Wild West. Now I have no problem with monetization. I say go for it. However, what developed was blogging whose prime reason for existence was making money, not to share a passion, a skill, or a technique photo or even enjoy doing such.  This was not confined to just the sewing blogosphere. The substance of content of those early years became watered down.  The  experienced sewing bloggers continued to blog.  Sewing blogs grew beyond experienced sewists sharing. It was now cool to be blogging and a new demographic started publishing sewing blogs. Some were written by people just beginning to sew who were passionate about their new found hobby and impressive with their drive to learn. Others were written by new sewists as well but were highly monetized, lacked text and substance, usually had beautiful photos and lots of very misinformed tutorials. Many newbie bloggers stressed themselves with set schedules of posts to keep their followers coming. Many the conversation I read about "I don't know what to put on my blog".  For other sewing bloggers it was "I don't have enough time to blog. This is a lot of work and my husband wants to know where the money is. " It was a round robin Ponzi effort to get  clicks with blog tours, and other gimmicks because the belief was that if you did it right digitally,  you would be making six figures off your blog in no time. I really think if the passion came through on these blogs, getting clicks would not have been an issue. 

This growth of blogs for money invited  inevitable criticism which  gave rise to forums such as GOMI (GetOffMy Internet). Sites like GOMI were fed by the fangurl phenomenon, loyal followers of a blog who would defend with their last ounce of energy the greatness of a particular faux designer and her patterns and writings. Thankfully , Father Time has done his job and these sorts of blogs are dying out. The good news is that all of that ruckus did bring a new generation into sewing and I have seen some amazing things being made, particularly in the bag making arena. Newer sewists are really succeeding in that niche and have a really fresh, inspiring  vision. 

As often happens in a flooded market, the cream rose to the top and out of this phenomenon came many solid designers of patterns. Not surprisingly,  they were the ones with either industry experience, design school credentials or even both.  Seven Pines Design is my favorite of this genre. I've learned much about pattern drafting and design from her blog.  Sewing Adventures is another great blog for children's heirloom clothing and Kathy D is an expert and very popular teacher in the heirloom sewing world. There are many more designers who are experienced, credentialed and have survived. Those who did not have the sewing chops but did sport great ambition often found as time went on that they either had to step up their skill game or buhbye. And that is what many have done.  But their are other reasons some of those initial indie blogger/designers have moved on. 

Last week on a FB group of blogging sewists that I follow, much was said about traffic to these blogs having dwindled to near nothing. Clicks weren't getting clicked. A whole industry has developed of email marketing, SEO skill development and other digital techniques to drive those "customers" (not necessarily passionate sewists) to one's blog to make money. It appears the concept of blogging to make money and using just enough of a topic to make that palatable is failing. While it appears that way, I think if a blog has great content backed with passion, people will click. However, many are now using the quick hit of Instagram to share the love, instead. Blogging takes a lot more time. It is work. The blogging world is evolving once again. Influencers are using Instagram. Those who are passionate on any subject, from D.C. Politics to couture sewing use blogs. Some use both as they are not exclusive of each other but they are different animals. Blogging conventions seem to be on the decline. I remember when so many were jumping on that crazy bandwagon, such a bubble. 

About the same time as the FB blogettes, Look At Me Blogs arrived on the scene. Sewing blogs that had strong content became more personality centered. I think as sewists the majority of us love fashion. Didn't we all love playing dress up or sewing for our Barbies?  Sewing bloggers  have learned to be our own models and with DSLRs and a few lessons we're pretty good at making our new constructions look quite fashionable. But some of us really want to be models/sewing personalities as well! Some ache to be downright famous. I love looking at sewists, all styled up, in their completed garments. I like to  compliment them on how great they look and the amazing sewing they have just completed. They inspire me all the time to try what they just did. I get blown away by the challenges faced and overcome. But a whole segment of sewing bloggers traded text of sewing content  for blogs with twenty photos of themselves in  the same garment against 5 different bushes. It became boring after a bit.  Beautiful women with great sewing skills that didn't show much sewing anymore. Sigh.....I get that these more fashion oriented and less sewing oriented blogs appeal to some, maybe many. They are just not my cup of tea. We all have limited time and pick how we spend it. I would rather read Carolyn of Diary of Sewing Fanatic explain how she made her latest garment fit or how she struggled over a certain detail. I prefer not to watch Jane Doe twirl in front of the same grafitti covered cement wall 20 times in the same outfit and say nothing about construction.  Just me..........boring.

I think at this point in sew blogging evolution, it's a case of the strong have survived. A lot of people have stopped blogging completely. I get that. Life surely happens. Kids grow up and now want to wear what their friends wear, tees and jeans from Target.  Mom gets a job. People move, retire, even some dear bloggers pass away. Priorities re-prioritize.  That is all good and normal.  I am seeing  many newer sewing bloggers who are so full of passion for  their craft and write generously about it. Seven Pines Design , Star's Threads, Dressmaking Debacles, Sew Help Me, Cashmerette are all wonderful, informative, filled with youthful personality and sewing substance.  Two of the original four blogs quoted in the first paragraph, through the magic of the internet, are still here for your reading pleasure and sewing inspiration and I hope you take a moment to read them and be inspired. We know Meg of Lindsay T Sews is now working for Vogue and Summerset Banks has left sewing and blogging about it to enjoy a life filled with MUCH hiking with her family, which she blogs about a lot.  I applaud all those who have stuck through it all or have gone and come back, bloggers like Carolyn of Diary of a Sewing Fanatic, Tany's Couture et Tricot, Girls in the Garden, Rhonda Buss, the Mahogany Stylist and so so many more, far too many to mention. You bring such joy to my day. Thank you. You are the passionate sewists out there that inspire me  daily. I know you inspire thousands of others.  Your love of the self made garment comes through your blogs and you continue to inspire month after month,  year after year. 

I do think this platform has survived and will be all the stronger for it. We need to share with each other what is working. Sewists  need to have a place, unlike FB and IG, as fun as they are, that has substance, camaraderie, and inspiration. Blogs can do that. Any thoughts on the matter? Any great new blogs you would like to share? I am always looking for new sewists to either inspire or help along. This is my convo for the month of January. How do you currently feel about Insta now that it has been around for awhile? Does it make you feel inadequate with it's incredible fashion photos of sewn garments as it does many I have seen share on PR and FB? Inquiring minds want to know!
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I have finished my woolen boucle top. It is a very interesting garment. I got lots of compliments when I wore it. It's not 100% ready for primetime as I was not getting lucky finding closures for the pockets to match the rose gold zip which worked out nicely, BTW. But I got a great idea from a sewing friend and went down a different rabbit hole. As soon as my closures arrive and get installed I will get it modeled for you all and reviewed. It was a very interesting sew and I will definitely wear it a lot. Next, a blanket skirt to wear with my fleece leggings and boots. Happy Sewing......Bunny

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Vogue 1642, Let's judge the muslin!






It's time for the judgies to happen! First, my husband LOVES this although I had to once again explain the philosophy of thin fabric muslins to him. He now gets it again. He also loves the design, probably even more than me! Above you see the top all zipped up. It is just too big all over. I cut the Small 6-8 size. I have now adjusted the pattern for all to be recut in my fashion fabric in the Extra Small 4-6  size. The bust on the small is 43 inches around. On the Extra Small it is 41. I like the bigness and will probably always have a turtle underneath and it will be sweatery so the largess is OK and expected. You can see this  clearly in the model photo on the pattern envelope. But this is way too big. It also looks a bit like lines are pointing toward the bust, usually an FBA alert, but I believe that to be from the weight of the big collar and it's facings, interfacings, zip and such made up in such a thin fabric.I think in my wool it will be fine. The sleeves are cut wide on this. I believe that to be a design detail, not a fit issue so be aware of that. They were cut way down in the XS size. Haviing just one pocket also tends to pull things askew. 

Here is another view with the big collar open and the underlay. I like it that way. My underlay will be a black rayon knit ponte.  Sorry for the white background. It was so dark and dreary in the house that I thought the white would help but it really didn't despite editing. 


And here is hubby's first pic. He always takes big background in my clothing pics. I really appreciate my Mr. Liebowitz but I do need to explain that what I want a picture of is what I am making and not anything else really. Photoshop helps. In this pic above you can really see how large this is on me. The sleeves will be shortened and 1 1/4 inches length  removed.  They will also be narrowed by an inch with the new size. I also downsized the pockets a bit, too. 

So now I am ready to cut and sew!, Yay! I've cut my new smaller size pattern tissue out and made the new tissue double so I don't have to cut anything on the fold. I will do the bodice first and that will get an underlining and Honk Kong seams. You probably won't hear any more on this until I can show you the completed top.  I doubt that will be until after Christmas but you never know. 
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Thank you to all who contributed the great comments on the last post about speed sewing. What a fun convo that was. I am going to try to have some more social convos about once a month as I gather topics cruising the internet. It is wonderful to see such vibrancy in the sewing world. 

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photo courtesy christmasprojects.com

I wish you all Joy in the New Year, lots wonderful time with loved ones, and bales of fabric in your sewing future. God Bless You All!

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Have to vent!




photo courtesy teepublic.com, great stuff





Rant:

What is up with the speed demons of the Sewing World? A recent discussion on the  Pattern Review forum had the original poster ask how long it took to make a pair of pants. It wasn't until near that end of page two that someone said "why do you want to know?"

Are we sewing to meet deadlines? Is that the goal, to beat the clock? If I know I can whip out a pair of tried and true pants in 2 1/2 hours, do I save that for the last two and a half hours before I go out to an important meeting, a big date, an evening with friends? Who on earth sews with this pressure and therefore, why is it important? Over and over again I see the Speed Question. On the numerous pages I visit on FB, there is a constant bragging deluge of unpressed, poorly hemmed garments that are considered incredibly wonderful because they were whipped out in two hours. THEY LOOK like they were whipped out in two hours. Is that the goal of sewists today, how quick we can make something? Is it the measure of a great sewist to be able to make it faster than anyone else? Where are we racing to that we take something we profess to love doing and can't get it over with fast enough? This is not one reaction to a forum question. I have seen this over and over the past few months all over  sewing social media. There are requests for skirts I can make in an hour, dresses in two, pants in one flying all over the internet and getting answered.

Why is the fastest completion possible the goal for a sewist? Why does it supersede a quality, flattering construction? Someone tell me. I just don't know and don't understand. There was a time, way back in my teens, where I might have been unexpectedly invited out on a date with nothing to wear. I would "cram sew" to have something decent and pretty for the date. My mom knew I had a limited wardrobe and would kick in and help me. I was proud that I could sew a much needed something or other in time enough to look good for my evening out.  I didn't particularly enjoy the "cram sewing" but did it because I had to. It was not a common occurrence. I just didn't prefer to sew that way. What I am currently seeing is not like that. It is definitely more of a brag in who can make the quickest leggings. I guess I am just missing something. I love sewing. Sewing calms me. It gives me peace. It lets me express my self creatively. It's something I want to do well. I don't want to do it fast.........glad I got that out of my system. Thanks, dear readers......Bunny

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Vogue 1642, Part One


I fell in love with Vogue 1642 the minute I saw it. It had that casual but stylish vibe that I am constantly searching for lately. Active wear just isn't my thing unless I am being active. My  current lifestyle is such that I want really nice casual in really nice fabrics, but still casual. After taking class with Claire Shaeffer and making a couple of Chanel inspired pieces I was always on the lookout for more wool boucle. I found the above at Fabric Place Basement a few years back and eventually decided I loved it but did not want to make a Chanel jacket with it. I wanted something more sweatery and cozy. The pullover top on Vogue 1642 fit that bill. While the fabric gives off a bit of a commercial carpet vibe in the pic it is really soft and cozy and should work perfectly for this project. Here's my plan. 

I am going after a soft, slouchy  sweatery look.  The pattern description is "very loose fitting" and I had to keep that in mind as I made my muslin. There is a lot of ease here, 43 inches for the size small bust but it seems to all work out. 

I definitely wanted a Bemberg rayon lining and this is the best color I could find. This fabric will never show and will be used to underline the garment. I will use Hong Kong seams  and a Nancy Zieman lining method that I love for the sleeves. The facings of that big neckline, which will show, will be a lighter weight rayon ponte in black, the better to not have the wool be scratchy on my neck. I hope to treat the hems with wiggan. I want to go all out on technique with this to do justice the price tag of that boucle. This also meant that a muslin was critical. 


This is the start of my muslin making with the hem loosely tucked up and just laying on the dress form to make a point. I found the markings on this pattern a bit confusing. In a couple areas the dots, and there are a variety being used, were glommed together with very close seamlines and it was not easy to distinguish exactly where they went. I did my best but in the end found that if I just marked my seam lines on the muslin with a mechanical pencil I could more accurately match up the seams. You can see how nothing matched with the dots so maybe I cut the pattern wrong, which wouldn't surprise me as I did find it difficult to distinguish what went where. This also made me realize that any marking on the real garment will be with thread tracing and tailor's tacks. Do you see this heading in the "epic" direction here? I did get things to match perfectly with my pencil method. 



 Making the neckline had me reading the directions several times over but it all fell into place. Do you see the problem with the above? There are lots of bias edges here and I just sewed away on my underlay. When I pressed it I realized it really looked cockeyed and you can see how it stretched out in the above pic after being sewn. Because the fit is critical amongs the pieces on the collar it's important to remeasure against the pattern pieces as you go along and before stitching those seamlines. I recut where necessary to bring it back into line. 

 I found the width the zipper is sewn from the seamline in the collar is critical to getting the inset to fit perfectly into the bodice so watch that.  


Here the collar unit is just layed on top of the bodice for you to see what's happening, not sewn in yet. I made a decision, not in the pattern, to make my collar more slouchy, not the upright version you see here. This will be a matter of light interfacing and facing and a lighter zipper.


I have a long, thin neck and narrow shoulders and just thought it would look better on me. I also just like that softer collar look with the boucle  fabric. I think I am going to veer from the pattern with the collar installation and not sew the faced unit in as one piece. Instead I will leave the facing free and treat the edges differently, probably a Hong Kong seam. We'll see. 

The sleeves on this pattern are raglan and darted at the shoulder. They are way too long for me and really the only adjustment I needed to do size wise, that is, other than my "always" petiting of the pattern. I had to make sure I "petited" the whole neck unit as I did the bodice so it would all match up. Almost forgot! 

I am using a size 3 zip metallic nylon coil zip, love those, in rose gold for the neck unit which I got on Etsy. I thought the size 5 zip would be too chunky and might interfere witht he slouchyness of the collar. Above is a size three zip but most jacket zips are five. 

I made one pocket on the muslin but will have two as the pattern specs. They will be scaled down a tad for "petite-ness" as I always do. 

I am a down and dirty half hour muslin maker, but not on this one. I wanted to work out every detail, not just the size so made the design up pretty much exactly as spec'd. It was a great lesson and now I am confident and ready to go on the "good stuff".  I can't remember when I've made a muslin all detailed out like this one but it was the right thing for this project. Usually my muslin making simply involves checking fit issues but I wanted to make sure fit, scale and skills were all in order before putting shears to boucle. Stay tuned...........Bunny

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Flower Power Denims!


The Age of Aquarius has dawned with this bit of clothing fun! I am not sure what to call it. Is it overalls, culottes, a jumper, a culotte jumper? You tell me. I'll stick with a Flower Power Denim for now!  It started out as a  mashup of two patterns, and ended up like this:



Then I went back to just one of the patterns and redesigned it to work for what I had in mind.  A  light bulb moment then reminded me I had a perfectly fitting wide strap bodice on another pattern and I dug that one out for the top of the garment.


I had to really lighten the above photo so you could see the topstitched seams  and detail. Hubby and I both agreed it looked better with the sash. I tried a leather belt, no belt, and a self sash. I like the sash as well. 


I cut these pant legs extra wide and long and love them. They skim above the floor a bare half inch. I know  the trend is for a cropped version and I wanted that to work but several who I asked for opinions told me straight out NO and to go long and I agreed. The proportions were just off with my shortness and shape. Picture the above about 6-9 inches off the ground. I don't think so and you get it. The pants are VERY comfortable with all their space and I may make more just in a pants version, no top. Here are more details. 

Pattern:

In the end I used Burda style 6408, a spaghetti strapped, no waistline divided pant dress and New Look 6866 (the Dandelion Dress) was used for the bodice. I did the scooped neck bodice. I relocated the dart to the neckline and gathered it. Don't you love rotating darts? It is just one of the best sewing tools you can have in your tool box and offers so much creativity.  You can see the closed dart and the open pleats on the tissue below. 


I also ended up adding to the sides seams and inseams to get more width into the legs. I did later alter the top of the side seam.  I brought it in an inch and moved it out gradually to meet the waistline. The muslin looked much better with that adjustment. In the pic above you can see wide straight neckline put in with tissue. I ended up taking this out as well and going with the scoop. Here was the final pattern, committed to oak tag as I will make this again. 


Something else I did, after cutting, was to further lower the armscye.  This gave it a more casual look.  I also did not add the back waistline darts. I wanted this pretty loosey goosey. 

Fabric:

For this project I used a midweight 100% cotton denim, washed twice. The front bodice and some of the hip and leg were stenciled with a simple floral design in various colors. I was going to use the same flower repeatedly but found the various sized flowers much more interesting. I experimented before I put any thing on the denim. I've washed my samples and the paint is in there solid as a rock. I used simple acrylic craft paint, whichever brand had the right color and traditional stencil brushes. There are no facings, or interfacings used here.  You can find more info on the fabric painting here. 



Construction:

Getting the actual pattern made required playing with three different patterns,  two muslins and lots of experimenting with paints and technique. Now I have a really simple pattern that I can use again without much thinking. 

All seams were stitched on the machine, then serged together with a 4 thread. They were pressed to the side and topstitched with the triple stitch, the one people foolishly  call a stretch stitch. It is basically a mock flat fell  jeans seam. My topstitch length was 3.5. 

The facings were serged and simply turned in and topstitched. I banged them with a hammer where layers made bulk before attempting to topstitch.  That really helped a lot. The denim had enough body that the lack of facings did no harm. The hem was serged and turned an inch and 1/2 and topstitched as well, all really simple sewing. I used a neon pink for my topstitching.  The back of the garment has an invisible zipper and a v neck, very easy to get in and out of. 


If you take away the fussy topstitching, the fabric painting and the mashup attempts with three different patterns, this is really a simple easy pattern. I am talking the original Burda Style 6408 here. 


I keep thinking of making this up in a chambray for the summer with the more drapey flowy look that you see in the pattern. Love these wide legs! Highly recommend. Just look how flowy and drapey this is in the khaki color.  It is a really simple construction. I've had really good luck with New Look patterns lately!

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My husband and I will be going to the Azores this summer, a celebration of our milestone anniversary and a gift from our children who asked where we would like to go. Right now I am studying climate and what we will be doing and needing. Do the words "vacation wardrobe" ring a bell?  If you've been to the Azores in late July early August please let me now about clothing needs or anything else, thanks so much.............................Bunny

Sunday, December 1, 2019

The Feminine Pad Making Tute, Part Two


Welcome back to part two of this pad making tutorial. We will get into the sewing and the closures and then you will be able to give this a try! 

If you look closely at the picture above you will find each pad a bit different from the other. Let's look at the lavender pads first starting on the left. You can click the pic to see it larger and closer. In the first pad you will notice the edges are pinked. I thought this would be quick to just sew wrong sides together on the stitching line and pink the edge and be done with it. I then did a zigzag on the edges as well. It's a bit rough but made it through the wash OK.  I did not like the look.  Lavender pad number 2 from the left has the separate pad on top and is double stitched all around. The pad is double stitched as well. It had the Warm and Natural in the pad. All of this made a very nice pad but a little more bulk than needed. The all pink pad in the center has pinked edges and one line of stitching. There are several channels stitched into the pad to attach it to the base. Lavender pad second from the right is double topstitched and the pad is triple zigzagged to the base. The first pad on the right is one line of topstitching and the same as it's neighbor on the left. The difference with the purple pads is that one is triple zigzagged for topstitching. I didn't like that. The following construction  has the features I liked best from all the experiments above.  It is what I felt gave the smoothest finish on the pad to go against the body with the least amount of bulk and effort. Let's Sew!

Sewing




We'll make the Base first. If you look at Pad#1 again---it is overkill and took too much time. I found 90 % of the instructions out there have you sew the Base right sides together leaving a section of the seam open to turn the Base. Then you stitch the Base closed.  You do the same with the Pad and stitch it on top. Too much time.  Also, all that extra row of topstitching adds bulk. My goal was to make this easy and quick so steps have been changed and/or eliminated. You have lots of leeway in making your own so again, do what feels right for you and experiment. 

Place your two Base pieces right sides together.  With all the curves on this critter, I found it wise to use a few pins to secure the pieces from stretching. Stitch your Base pieces together right on the stitching line you drew from your template. This is where those big awkward seam allowances come in handy. Hold on to them and STITCH ALL AROUND THE BASE. Give it a press. Trim the edges down with your pinking shears or scissors to a little over an eighth of an inch. Give one or two clips into the inside curves as well. Be careful snipping there. Now, grabbing your center of the base, separate the two sections from each other. Pull them apart in the middle.  Pinch the center of one side and fold the Base there. Give it a little clip vertically. Be careful to ONLY CUT ONE SIDE. Lay it down and go into your little slit with your scissors and cut about a 4 inch slit  down the center of the Base and use this to turn the base right side out.  This slit has to be small enough to hide under the Pad. 





Stick your fingers in the turned Base and push out the edges. I find rolling them helps. Press them nice and flat. Your Pad will cover the slit nicely if you kept it centered. Once neatly pressed you will return to the machine and topstitch once around the base between an eighth and a quarter of an inch from the edge, just one row. Press again. 




Take your Pad sections, two layers plus a PUL layer at the bottom if you are using it, and center them on the Base. Your really need the three pins as this will want to shift, even with a walking foot. You will sew the channels first on the Pads to secure it down and give it body. 


The way this pad is sewn to the base became my favorite. It makes a totally smooth transition on the edge and feels very comfortable with no sense of feeling an edge of any kind. The cross channeling helps it hold up in the wash as well. Stitch your channels with a basic straight stitch. I draw the cross on with a Frixion pen. I do the straight channels half an inch from the edge. I sew them first and the cross last. Then I go around the Pad with a triple zigzag 5.5 wide and .7 long.  Once that is done on all your pads, give them a press, clean up any stray threads and get ready for the closure. 

The Closure

I have chosen to close my pads with Kam Snaps. I did a review of this product two posts back but you can click here to see it again. There are many ways to close your pad. You can use snaps. They will require machine or hand sewing them on. You can use little flat buttons, also requireing more sewing. One tutorial I saw suggested safety pins  but the thought of that gave me the shivers and that was totally out. The Kam Snaps require buying the tool and snaps, about 20.00 on Amazon with loads of snaps, and it is easy to use. 


Your KamSnap kit will come with a sharp awl as you see above. Turn your pad, outside facing up. Overlap your two wings and about a half inch or so in push your awl through the two wings completely. Be careful not to go through the pad itself. I then rub the awl back and forth to make a big hole. Take it out. 


Install the snaps per the directions remembering there are male and female snaps and that you are overlapping. If you did it right, looking at the bottom of the pad, it should look like this above  to function. That is a female stud on the right. Here is what it looks like on the right side, the side that touches your body. That shows a male stud on the left. 


Those wings wrap around the crotch  and then snap. I have found that I do not feel them AT ALL. Once installed the snaps are quite thin.  I have also found that the pad does not move around. This may be a feature of the flannel being more grabby. I don't know. 


It you put your snaps in wrong, no problem. I did two wrong. You just cover them with a piece of fabric and give them a bang with a hammer. They will fall apart and you can pick them right off and try again, in the same whole, an advantage over metal type snaps installed the same way.  Other than that, they are really in your pad or garment tightly. They are going nowhere!

If you are looking for really deep info on all the options available for fabric in making your own pads, including heavy period pads, as well as other insights and links, here is one link I have found the most informative: Cloth Pads 101. I thank Danielle for all the knowledge she has shared.  Let me know how your journey goes and if you have any questions. 

Care

I have worn and washed and dried my pads. The flannel was well preshrunk. It did not shrink further as a pad and measured exactly the same as the ones I had not washed yet. Of course, flannels can vary, so protect your self and prewash  your fabrics 2 or 3 times. The pads do come out of the dryer wrinkly, like any cotton. I just stretched them a bit and they were fine. I am going to just let my next batch line dry and bet they are a lot less wrinkly. This did not effect their comfort or function at all. 

ETA: I worn and washed these a fair amount at this point. I've gotten the best results washing on WARM, not HOT.  I then take them out of the wash and stretch them out and smooth them and either hang them on a hanger with clips or just flatten them out on the top of the dryer and let them dry flat. They come out quite nice this way. I've had one pad shrink but it went into a hot wash and dry and with other pads that didn't shrink at all so it is specific I think t the flannel. These were all well washed before making, two or three times. 

In conclusion

I am really glad I took this journey. Thanks to all the women who have told me they have been making and using their own pads for years. Who knew? My opinion is this is easy, inexpensive sewing that more than pays for any effort involved. It helps save the planet, save a few dollars, and just feels so much nicer than the alternative. Happy Padmaking!............Bunny

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Bunny's Feminine Pad Making Tutorial, Part One





I am going to be direct in this blogpost. It is about feminine hygiene products and will involve discussion of those products  in all their variations. There will be frank commentary about our bodies and it's needs. My readers are welcome to comment and be as frank as they are comfortable with as well. So let's get started. Should anyone care to, feel free to move on. 

My Mission

My goal is to make a simple, soft mini-pad, aka, panty liner, that would be so confortable that I wouldn't notice I was wearing it. I wanted to replace the retail pads I have been buying for some time as I disliked the thought of them being used every day, like pampers, and filling landfills. I was also looking for a thriftier alternative  to replace constantly having to buy another package of pads. I wanted something totally able to  wash and dry and that would not fall apart in that process. It had to be natural fibers, for me anyway, as well.


I did not want to make period pads although that can easily be extrapolated from this process. There is also tons of info on the web to help with that need. I wanted something well made but that wouldn't take a lot of time to construct and out of natural fibers. 

Supplies

You will need: 


  • Sewing machine that can do zig zag or triple zigzag, an edge stitching foot is nice as well as walking foot capabilities but not necessary
  • Scissors, rotary cutter or craft knife.  Pinkers are optional. 
  • Oaktag for making your template 
  • Markers to draw on your fabric
  • Fabrics and thread, more on fabrics in a moment
  • Iron
  • Ruler to measure and use with rotary cutter if using



Fabrics

Before I go any further let's have a bit of vocabulary so we are all on the same page. If you look at the #1 picture further up you can see the pad consists of two parts. I am going to call them the BASE and the PAD. The Base is the large winged section and the Pad is the strip down the middle. 

This is where it really gets interesting as there are so many options. I am focusing in here on a "light"pad.  If you have had twins in your thirties like my daughter or gravity has prolapsed your organs, like myself, or need something for the last day or two of your period, this is the level of pad I am making.  These pads shown are made out of 100% well washed cotton flannel. I like it because it is very soft, very washable and easy to sew. There are two layers in the Base and two layers in the Pad. #1 above also has a layer of Warm and Natural quilt batting inside the Pad as well.  Many really like the wicking capabilities  and feel of bamboo knits and bamboo fleeces, both of which run a fair dollar amount more than Joann's Snuggle flannel bought on sale. I may give this a try but I am finding the flannel fulfilling my needs just fine. I have seen some sewists use Minky, a total poly,  and that, to me, would be hot and not absorbent, but they like the way it feels on their "area". Others use quilt cotton which frankly is a bit harsh in my opinion.  Even others use Polar Fleece for the actual bottom outside Base layer. Too hot, IMO. Another suggestion, should you go the period pad route is to use a black flannel for the top layer. Not too friendly mentally but a heck of a lot easier to maintain in the laundry. A lot of makers use the black flannel. Not sure that is my cup of tea.  Also remember that you get to decide how many layers of fabric you want your pad to have. Mine have a total of four. I suggest some experimentation before you commit to cutting out a dozen of these. 


 There is also something called PUL. It stands for Polyurethane Laminate. If you know someone who makes their own baby diapers, this is what is used to keep the pee inside and not on your lap. It has two sides, one cloth and matte and the other shiney and plastic-y. The shiney side is against your body. The matte side faces out, looking at  your feet. Some pad makers use PUL as the actual back outside layer of their pads and this certainly would be wise for period pads. It is very thin and must be covered with absorbent layers of other fabric. It does not absorb. For my own mini pad needs I would back the center strip (more later) with a layer of PUL if you feel you need it. For now I am seeing how I am doing with just layers of flannel and so far so good. My needs are mostly discharge from a vaginal moisturizer prescribed. Just know it's out there and used to prevent leakage to the outside world. I've been told you can get it from Joanns and have seen it on Amazon.  One of my dear sewing friends, an amazing heirloom sewist who has made many a gorgeous baby diaper, gifted me with this huge bag of PUL scraps. Thank you so much, Kathy. Here is a blatant plug to her Etsy shop in return. Her heirloom children's patterns are the best. Now we will return to regular programming! So know that PUL is out there.  I haven't used it yet and seem OK.  Another fabric used a lot in pad making is 100% cotton fleece, aka, Warm and Natural quilt batting. I made my first pad, per instructions, with a layer of Warm and Natural and 2 more layers of flannel. It is the #1 pad you see above. I  found it a bit bulky for my daily needs but it would be a great combo for a light period pad with some PUL in the back. 

More on Notions

Oaktag or heavy card stock that you can accurately cut is needed to make your templates for cutting. Also, if you have an 18 mil rotary cutter, this will help A LOT. They are hard to find in retail but I got mine on Amazon some time ago. They are still available there. If you don't have one a good craft knife will suffice to cut your template.  For thread, any cotton poly will do and there is no need for any special needle. I had a size 12 Microtex in the machine already and went with that just fine. I used a Frixion Pen to mark on light fabrics and a Chacoliner to mark on the dark fabric. I ironed as I went along. 

Let's get started!

Your pattern

Sorry for the mispelling on the template. 
This is your pattern/template. It is 8  inches long and 3 inches wide. The wings are 6 inches wide. I am five feet tall and 107  pounds on most days. If you feel you need more area, simple extend the length of the base. I based this size on a purchased pad I use. Make what works for you. 




Your Base template is cut out on the stitching lines. There are no seam allowances added to the template. This is because you will be tracing (not cutting) around the template for the base pieces right on the edge and that edge is the stitching line. 

I found it best to draw my base first  on 1/4 inch graph paper and then cutting it out. I could then fold it on the grid lines to find the center and make sure the curves and everything matched. Then I used that to draw the Base on the oaktag.  I cut out the Base template from the oaktag with a 18 mil rotary cutter on that stitching line. You could use a 45 mil as well.  

You won't need a template for the Pad section. 

Cutting Out

Here is one yard of flannel folded so selvedges are on the left and fold on the right. This gives you two layers of flannel on top of each other. You will be able to lay three templates across. You need to leave space in between and feel free to make it as much as you can. This space will become your seam allowance.  Draw around the template three times on the crosswise grain for three Bases. ROUGH CUT your  Bases out. When you get to the stitching part the extra leftover outside of the seamline will make it easier to sew. You will be stitching right on the line you drew. 


To cut the Pad, simply cut a two inch wide strip by whatever length you would like. I did 6 1/2  inches but may go to 7 next time. Even off your ends. This is a double layer of flannel. Take the strip and fold it in half along the length. Grab it at the end and pinch so you can cut a curve with your scissors where you see the dotted lines above. The one above is not folded in half but it's easier to get a good cut when it  is. 

If using PUL, you have the choice of making it a full layer inside of the Base or a layer inside of the Pad strip, your choice.  Think of your personal needs. Is it half a thimbleful or an occasional gush that you are seeking to hold back? This is the advantage of making your own pads, totally custom. This may take some experimentation until you get to the perfect pad for your needs but worth it. 

A bit about the shape of the pad:  Sewing the curves on this pad is the hardest part of the entire project. It is not easy to get topstitching accuracy going in and out of these small curves. There are two solutions. #1- No one will see this but you, ever, so don't sweat perfection in topstitching here. #2 - There is a pad pattern out there with no curves,  having corners at the top and sharp angled wings and if you are interested  it is called the "Cher" pattern and can be seen HERE . I chose #1. Only my hiney, washing machine and I will know my stitching imperfections and so what! It functions.  If these were for someone else, whole different story. 

Since there is a lot to this tutorial I have decided to break it down into two parts. The next part will get into the sewing and closures.  I hope you have some flannel and oak tag on hand to give this a try. Any questions? Till then,,,,,,,,,,,,,Bunny. 















Want to come up and see my sketchings?

After I finished the boucle top my studio was a disaster, despite picking up every day when I am done. I took a whole day to recover from ...