Saturday, August 18, 2018

Viva Cuba!

Now, now, don't be afraid. I know this fabric is over the top. I recently showed it to someone and their eyes nearly popped out of their head. Their response was "you're not going to wear that, are you?". Well, yes, maam, I am.

This is Viva Cuba from emmaonesock and I was  smitten. What can I say? The colors are incredible.  I have two panels, the other laying on top of my work table. I have ideas and as of this afternoon, construction is in motion.

The selvedges are really deep, almost 3 inches on each side but it is still about 52 inches wide. I will make use of them as you will see. Let's hope that old car isn't in for a bumpy ride.......Bunny

Thursday, August 16, 2018

The Queen of Soul

I was raised in Lafayette, Louisiana, Cajun Country and center of the oil industry at that time. I knew what discrimination was. I knew I had to use certain water fountains if I was thirsty and others had to use their's. I knew of the existence of the Klan first hand and could tell you true stories of such that you probably would find hard to believe.  But, some way, some how a seed was planted in me about the injustice of it all in an Atticus Finch sort of way. Part of that seed was planted and nourished by my Mom.  This is about my Mom teaching me to love music, all music. Music does not discriminate.

My mom was an opera singer before she had eight kids, singing with the New Orleans Opera Company as a contralto in the chorus. She had a syndicated radio program on opera each week that went all over the South. She had a glorious voice. She sang solos in the choir at the massive St. John's Cathedral in Lafayette, booming her voice unaided from the balcony on the second floor with me in my  finest Sunday gloves, dress  and hat by her side. At home it was all music all the time.  We eight kids had a childhood with background music around the clock. It was La Boheme, La Traviata, Carmen, Madame Butterfly but also Flower Drum Song, Oklahoma, Chet Atkins on his steel guitar and Gospel Music. My mom taught me to love Gospel music, really love it. On Sundays we would watch a tent revival live program on TV, just she and I. It was a special time that none of the other members of the brood shared with her. It was all about the music for us.   That is where I learned to love and appreciate Mahalia Jackson. My mom would teach me why and how Mahalia was truly the greatest voice to ever grace God's earth and I agree to this day. But Ms. Mahalia up there in heaven has a very very close runner up.

It was only to be expected that in my teens the arrival on the music scene of Aretha Franklin filled a void that I hadn't heard in years. I could hear those gospel rhythms in her voice and loved every sound. I became a huge fan and over the years an even bigger one.

I happened to be on vacation and visiting my sister and family in Washington DC when Bill Clinton's inauguration took place. Sis wanted me to experience an inauguration. She had been to Bush's and said it was really something. Well after twelve years of Republicans, Clinton's was a way bigger something. There were performers in tent after tent performing live and for free, fabulous jazz,  great food, and on and on, a huge celebration like I had never seen. I did not know they did this and wow, they did it in a big way! But what I really was waiting for was the arrival of Aretha. I huddled with my sister out in the weather watching her kids and enjoying the scene right where she was rumored to arrive. Suddenly a shiny black stretch limo sidled up to the curb. It had to be her. I couldn't even get close. The story of my life---five feet tall kept me from seeing over the heads of others and what was going on. Exiting from another limo and rushing on ahead were numerous HUGE gentlemen in pink tee shirts that surely were former NFL linebackers. They were pushing the crowd back to make way for the Queen. I figured out if I ducked down to the ground I could see more between peoples legs and I was able to get pretty close up to these guys. Another bevy of pink shirted giants came around the side of the first limo to the door, opened it and another stretched out his hand. A fuzzy flurry of mink peeked from the car and it moved forward with it's wearer stepping out with the aid of her security. She stood up. She was perfectly coiffed, made up and gorgeous. Lord, she had gorgeous skin. She wore a full length mink coat which,  on cue, after sizing up the crowd. she  WHIPPED open as if to say "I am here." I will never forget it. All of the pink shirts pulled in closer to her and all my five feet followed right behind them with my little Kodak camera. Right when Ms. Franklin came  by me, I was so short and they were so big and tall that I was able to slip right between them and get a picture of her beautiful face, up close and personal. Those pink shirts never saw little ole me coming.  I immediately backed out and ran away in fear of those pink shirted guys. Somewhere in my still untouched piles of moving bric a brac is that photo in a tiny album of my DC trip some years back. I have pulled it out often over the years and it is one of my most treasured items.

Aretha Franklin is one of the greatest voices of our time. Her gift has the ability to move one from joy to tears whether it be R&B or Gospel. I will leave you with my favorite song of hers, although there are so many. This one never fails to make me sob. It is  Never Grow Old    ...May she rest in peace...Bunny

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Three Faces of Vogue 1515

Black Handkerchief Linen, Size B

Two prints, one cotton batik, and Nicole Miller poly print, Size A, smaller

Blue Oxford Cloth, a frankenpattern, collar changes

I could say I loved this pattern but I really loved the collar. My long, skinny neck has always made me a bit partial toward face framing types of necklines. This one was really fun to work with, the sizing, not so much. I will try to run through each of these and what I did to hopefully improve each one. You are seeing these in the order in which I made them, all within a few days. Pardon the baggy white pants. They will be taken in as soon as I am done here. I knew they were big but not that big!


The two sleeveless versions are Vogue 1515, a Sandra Betzina design. Her fit is for a more mature figure and I love that she is filling that void, much needed. And while I am definitely mature, I am shorter than her fit sloper and on the petite side so there are always challenges for me with her patterns. Eventually I got it all sorted out. I discussed my corrections in a previous post here and you can really see the differences above. . For the blue top I used Simplicity 1366 by Cynthia Rowley, my favorite designer. I like her simple, feminine take on clothing, youthful yet ladylike and pretty. This is a simple,  oversized,  dropped shoulder tee shirt. I made changes to the Betzina collar and imposed them onto the Rowley shirt. So comfortable and would be great in a knit for warmer weather. 

Issues with the pattern design? I thought it had, to me anyway, a "mushroom" effect around the neckline and it would have looked better with a smoother transition from the bodice to the gathering. This is all my personal taste, mind you, so just bear with me. I am sure others feel differently and certainly does Betzina. I liked the way the original black linen stayed "puffy" on the collar. The oxford cloth refused to do that so I just ironed it. I would have preferred it to have been softer. Originally I did not care for the slightly extended shoulder line but I was using the wrong size. Once it was made into the proper size for me it was fine and probably a bit more flattering to an older arm/shoulder. I like the hi-lo hem, not my usual opinion, and like it even better with the facing on the outside. 


My first poorly fitting effort was in a really nice black handkerchief linen. I love how it glows. It has been in the stash so long I have no idea where it came from.  Here you can see the french seams that I used on the linen first version.

The next version was made with a cotton batik from Joanns and for the facings, which I turned to the outside, I used a Nicole Miller poly print they featured last year. I really like the two together. It's a bit gaudy but it's me. You know I have no fear of color. This batik made realize that this pattern design really works up best in something with a bit of body, not a softer drape. I like the way the extra body makes the shape, if finally and properly fitted, it stands nicely away from the body. 

The third version is a blue oxford cloth, again something in the resources forever. It is just kind of a limp fabric but that's OK on a 90 plus degree day like today.  This collar actually looks pretty good and quite different turned down as well and more on that in a bit. The label is serving a function. More on that, too!

I think all these fabric choices work well. I can see this with the Rowley pattern working well in a knit and I can see the original sleeveless version being quite nice and cozy in a warm boiled wool or minky for the winter. 


Many of the construction issues on the black linen version were discussed in a previous post. I pinked and stitched the facing edges and did French seams. The pinking treatment help keep the bulk from transferring through when ironing. I hate it when that happens on linen and this worked well. I am liking this vintage technique more and more lately. 

Here you can see a bit of what I mean about the mushroom effect from the seamline to the gathering. It's fine in the front but on the bodice back it looks a bit oddly puffy to my tastes, and again, that's just my taste. 

Hems and facings on the linen were just stitched in and edgestitched. 

Facings on the two print version were interfaced by stitching right side of interfacing to right side of facing and then turning, making sure I rolled the edge a bit. The interfacing, a fusible, was then pressed into place and the unit treated as one. This gave a nice finished edge to the facing which was then stitched in and turned to the public side of the garment and topstitched. 

On the blue blouse, I superimposed the bodice from Vogue 1515 matching the shoulder seams over the Rowley pattern. I then placed a piece of Saral tracing paper under the two and drew in the Vogue neckline onto the Rowley fabric. That is where I cut. 

Now to have some fun with the collar. I wanted to try a deeper collar and made it 12 and a half inches wide in the blue version. That would then be folded in half. 

I changed the stitching line for the gathering elastic to 2 5/8ths from the cut edge of the folded collar. I had figured out a much easier way to put this collar in than the way spec'd in the pattern, much closer to the edge.  I marked that  2/ 5/8ths line all around and you can see it in the yellow. 

*fold the collar in half. 
*Match cut edges.
*Mark at 2 5/8ths.
*Right below the mark stitch a line. I used a triple zigzag stitch just for fun. 
*Stitch another about 3/8ths inch above the previous stitching.

Now it gets a bit gnarly. I cut two tiney slits either side of the back collar seam on the inside of the collar and then ran through 1/8th inch elastic. I tried on the top and figured out where I wanted the elastic to be tied off. I knotted it with a tight square knot and snipped the excess off. Then I sealed the slits with Fray Bloc. This later got covered  with my label which you can see in one of the above pictures. So now, instead of having a collar sewn and then turned to the inside and sewn again and then having to stretch them out and topstitch, yikes..... I have both side of the collar being attached at the same time. I stitched them on the machine and finished them off with the serger. far, far easier method. So basically, fold  you collar in half and use both edges to sew the collar onto the bodice and call it a day! 

I did a lot of topstitching on these tops that was not specified in the patterns but I think gave it a bit more finesse. On the blue the hems were topstitched in as well but not edgestitched. 

In Conclusion:

I had a ball facing the challenges this design presented and I think I did a pretty good job of overcoming them. I highly recommend this pattern. I would recommend placing the gathering line closer to the bodice seam and ditch stitching from the shoulder to the gathering  and at the collar center back to eliminate the mushroom effect. I would also try this in fabrics with a bit of body for the sleeveless versions for a better fit/hang. If you decide on trying the frankenpattern, I would suggest a knit for a really nice sweater version. All in all, this was fun and I have some great wearable results. I hope you agree and thanks for bearing with me through this long detailed post. I hope you enjoyed.........Bunny

Monday, August 13, 2018

Is it just too Simple - icity?

I have two  evening weddings to attend this fall. I am considering something along these lines.

Here is another version I like:

What I really like about these two outfits are the tops. I cannot find anything in patterns with the extended scooped out neckline like the red one above. Simplicity has a wonderful possibility in  Simp 8380 which could easily be worked up into a top with the scarf effect. I love the forgiving value of that scarf on the shoulder!

There are lots of versions online of this look. I think it is so feminine and very "Amal" and of the moment. These skirts have been a favorite of mine for many years, featuring my waist and hiding those wide hipbones and booty. I think I can work this. Here's another:

What I really want to talk about here is Simplicity Patterns. Ah, the name, Simplicity, Simple, right? I really don't think so. In my very young sewing days, when I was far more observant than skilled, I decided I didn't like them. Just     too   simple.     I really think they were back then. I can remembert my mom saying "We'll start you off with Simplicity patterns" and it sort of stuck. By fifteen I was knocking out the Vogues and criticizing the Simps. My biggest complaint which some may remember and which I thought at the time was just horrible, is that every pattern had two darts at the back shoulder seam. I would see those darts on the backs of people I knew and tell myself, "that's a Simplicty. Look at those two darts." Rarely did the Vogues have them. What impresses us in our teens, who can explain and what little did I know about shaping?

Fast forward and today I feel totally differently. I know we all have our favorite pattern companies and I would probably still say Vogue for numerous reasons. But, time and time again when I am searching for a design still nascent in my head, I start my search with Vogue, then McC, then Butt, and lastly Simp. Every stinkin' time exactly what I am look for pops up quickly in Simplicity. And the really interesting thing is that it is almost always a Cynthia Rowley design, my favorite designer.

This will easily make my envisioned top with the scarf on the shoulder. I will lower the darts obviously, and probably build a bra into the lining. I hate strapless bras, but we will work it all out. Funny how I still can't get over my dart issues with this company but keep finding just the right styles for five foot tall me and in my favorite designer. I wonder if   Rowley is petite?...Bunny

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Petiting Vogue 1515

This is a sneak peak of the fabric I used for the second version of Vogue1515. You can see this one coming down the road, can't you? But you know how I love to mix prints and do it fairly often and almost always with children's clothing. When I was reorganizing the new studio this two fabrics ended up being neighbors by accident and it was kismet. I had to do something that involved them both. Vogue 1515 is it!  Now to how to petite this pattern:

The first thing I did was cut the smallest size, Size A. The body measurements for Betzina's Size A are a couple of inches smaller than mine other than the waist but there is massive ease in this design and Size B was way too large. Then I did my usual petiting. This means removing length across the front  and back bodices. I am five feet tall, fairly proportional lengthwise and take out 3/4s of an inch by doing a 3/8th inch fold across the bodices usually right below the notches. That area usually keeps the shortening from interfering with necklines and other details but you can move it where it works best for you. Obviously if you carry your shortness below the bust you would make this adjustment there.

By using the Size A an additional 3/4 inch total came out of the shoulder seam. Add that to the petite adjustment and you have 1 1/2  inches in length removed from the incredibly low original armhole front and back. That takes care of that armhole business. Now for all that ease. I like the ease and it is part of the design but it was way too wide for my narrow torso. At the side seam under the arm I went in one inch from the cutting line on both front and back and angled that out to the original hem. I drew that in but before cutting the piece I folded in the dart so that when I cut it came out with the right angles as you can see above. On the original black linen top I added an inch in length as many PR reviewers suggested adding up to three inches in length. I guess they are not petites! I added nothing to this one and it should be fine.

Here's a little peekaboo for you. It will be a few days before I get to  model these for you as we have some commitments happening but I am looking forward to it. It has been fun doing these tops and I may even make another...................Bunny


My husband and I have really been enjoying the beauty of New Hampshire since we have returned. This is from the White Mountain National Park and is the famous Kancamangus Highway. It is one of the prettiest places in the country. While this is a national park, we've made a bucket list of every state park in New Hampshire and are on our way!...Bunny

Friday, August 3, 2018

Vogue 1515, oh, my!

Talk about not come out as planned! I wanted to do a bit of fabric painting and decided on my design and paint, etc. Now for the fabric! I went digging and thought it would be interesting to have my background be black and that this linen in black would be a perfect foil for my plan. Now to pick a small top. I didn't want to do the recently made green linen top again and hunted for something different. That's when I found this top, Vogue 1515,  from Sandra Betzina, that I have wanted to make forever. Bingo! Now, I love SB, and I know her fit philosophy and it's difference from the Big Four. Despite being a fan of her style and adjusting the fit, it rarely works for me. Knowing this I went into this project eyes wide open. But, wow......................

I looked at all the pics on line, PR reviews, etc. I liked the look but some didn't fit the way I'd like the top to fit me. Another crazy issue here is my getting adjusted to a loss of weight. I can't seem to trust a pattern size I haven't used previously and/or I am hung up on my decades of FBAs, I just don't know. Those wide open eyes flat pattern measured everything. There was plenty of ease, but, geez, my bras still fit so I must need an FBA. I did one. I used size B. It seemed closest to my new measurement except the waist larger than mine, trademark Betzina. But this top had no waistline so, who cares? I really should have used the smallest size, A, with no FBA, but even then I think I still would have had issues.

I got the thing sewed up and it was HUGE. I even went back and looked at all the pics again. Reviewers said the armholes were too low. Yup on that! No one complained of the ease, however. It is 'loosely fitting" and it really is. But here is the issue accross the board as I look at other's tops and my own. The shoulders end in an odd place, IMO. They are not wide enough to be a bit of a flattering tiny cap and they are not narrow enough to further feature the unique collar and some nice shoulder bones, if one has those. They are just an odd length, IMO and I took a half inch off the shoulders, a lot for me, and they still sit "out there".

Low armholes? Bigtime. Loose fit? Bigger time. In all honesty and respectfully, I think SB has designed this top as more of a vest and that explains the fit. It works that way and I may use it that way one day. But, I have seen so many pretty summery tops made with this pattern. I think if the armholes were drawn higher and the additional width flared out from the top of the side seam it would all work as a lightweight top. But the extra width of the pattern makes for the " step right up and see if my bra is clean" look that is not for me, that is unless a bulky sweater is underneath.

When starting out I thought if it was a bit too large I would just take in the side seams  and all would be fine. I did sew the side seams a  quarter inch deeper. What to do, what to do? I am loving this top and it's cool collar. I reached into my heirloom sewing bag of tricks and pulled out a fairly common one from vintage garments. A child's sleeveless dress was often made far wider than needed. The excess was folded under the arm into a pleat that could be taken out as they child grew larger. Our Depression Grandmothers really knew how to make things last. Damn it, I'm going to do the same. You can see above a full three inches has been taken out from the entire side seam with the pleat. Now times two sides, that's six inches I removed from under my arms. It gives a better, sleeker fit to the front but still has all that ease and flare. I like it better! This will be topstitch in around the armhole, more pics later.

 To eliminate unwanted bulk and ridge lines when ironing, a linen hazard, I out another  vintage trick. The facing edges were simply pinked ans stitched. Worked like a charm.

Most seams are Frenched. Next time I do this collar I will do opposite of the pattern directions. I will attach the inside first and then top stitch on the outside. Too much drama involved with getting this collar right but it looks good now. It actually looks good inside out with one side not elasticated, just a big pouf, so I may do that to. I did seam binding as a flat casing for the elastic in the collar and that worked fine.

There will definitely be another one of these. I have the fabric picked out and will start tomorrow. I am determined to master this one as it is so cute. When done, I will model both so you can see what I do with the smaller size and different approaches to the details. The painting project, on hold for now but that's coming. Long weekend ahead! ......Bunny

ETA: Just want to say I love Sandra Betzina and her designs. I believe this pattern would be great as is, even for me, if it is used as a sweater vest of some sort. I can see it in a boiled wool with cut edges, so just keep those eyes open if you are contemplating a thin, blouseweight fabric. For a sweater top, use it as designed.;.Bunny

The Periwinkle Linen Dress

The Dandelion Dress served as the muslin for the Periwinkle Linen Dress. I love them both and they  are really both quite different as...