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Monday, April 30, 2007

Finding the Perfect Jeans: True Jeans

I discovered the coolest site while checking out The Fashion Bomb this morning. Whether you plan on purchasing your next pairs of jeans or maybe even making them (like me), True Jeans is a site you MUST check out. This is how it works: go to the site and click the "Get Started" button and create a brief profile.

Don't you love how they have a tape measure around the pear? LMAO

Then you plug in your waist, hip, thigh and inseam measurements(grab a pair of jeans you have with your perfect length and measure).

The next page is interesting. You get to give a little more thorough info regarding your body shape. They take everything into consideration. You give them your height, weight and even your date of birth. I know you're thinking, "Why do they need to know how old I am"? I thought the same thing. The reason behind this is, as we all know, weight is distributed differently over similar frames based on a person's age. You also use the illustrations to select your hip, seat, stomach and thigh shape.

After I provided all of this info, I got quite a few options in price ranges from $54 to $253 and styles from skinny to wide leg.

Whether you buy them or sew them, this gives you and excellent idea of what styles would work best with your figure.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

S.W.A.P. - Summer 2007

I've decided to participate in my very first S.W.A.P. (sewing with a plan), hosted by Pattern Review.com.

Sew a wardrobe.

The object is to make items that can be interchanged with each other. Once this is complete, you will be able to quickly grab something to wear from your closet. Reach in and grab a top, a bottom, and a jacket and you know they go without even looking! You know how you go into a department store (especially in the Bridge line areas) and see all of the collection pieces together, how they tell a story? Well, this is what S.W.A.P. pieces should look like.

11 garments
13 weeks (May 1st - July 31st)

6 tops
4 bottoms
1 jacket

All tops must work with all bottoms so you won’t have to look when you get dressed. Jacket must work with all outfits.

Dresses: Since they are so popular this year, there are options if you want dresses in your S.W.A.P.:

Dress option #1:
5 tops, 4 bottoms, 1 dress, 1 jacket

Dress option #2:
5 tops, 3 bottoms, 2 dresses, 1 jacket

Dress option #3:
4 tops, 3 bottoms, 3 dresses, 1 jacket

For the next day or so, I'm going to think about what pieces, colors and fabric I'll be working with. I know I'm definitely going for one of the dress options. When I decide on the patterns, I'll post updates.

Friday, April 27, 2007

D.I.Y. Fashionista 101 - Part I


Most of you who are like me that drool over the coverage of Fashion Week every March and September, hoard all of the fashion magazines and gush over every fabulous outfit you see and think, "I want that"! Then reality sets in when you eyeball the price tag, the poor fit and the wrong color. You know what? Instead of giving up the mortgage or rent payment, why not DO-IT-YOURSELF? It's really not as difficult as you may think -- really it isn't. It is possible to teach yourself to sew... practice does make perfect. By learning simple sewing skills, you can be whipping out tops, skirts, pants, jackets and dresses too with the perfect fit!

Let's get started!

Tools of the trade

If you don't already have a machine available to you, you can purchase an inexpensive model (you can always upgrade later) from Wal*Mart, Hancock's or Joann's, etc... If you don't have a sewing room, fear not! All you need is a "dedicated space" where you have room to cut, iron and place your sewing machine.

Other essentials

* Pins
* Hand and sewing machine needles
* Chalk and/or disappearing marking pens
* Seam ripper
* Measuring tape
* Scissors and/or rotary cutter
* Bobbins (for your specific machine)
* Thread
* Pattern
* Iron and ironing board

I would suggest this book -- "The Complete Photo Guide to Sewing" as reference material for any beginner. It has great color photos so that you can see exactly what it is that you're suppose to be doing.

Learning your machine

This is the reason I suggested purchasing an inexpensive model as a beginner. Too many bells and whistles will just add to your confusion. Learn the basics and then upgrade. Read your manual inside and out. Play with it! Learn all the stitch that it does. Learn how to make buttonholes. Some models now come with a learning video... watch it!

Size yourself up

If you already didn't know, your pattern size is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT from your ready-to-wear (RTW) size. This is why you have to take accurate measurements.

Grab a buddy and these items:
  • A short, fine chain necklace -- to establish a natural neckline
  • Washable markers -- to draw lines on skin and/or undergarments
  • 1/4-inch adhesive dots
  • Pins
  • Narrow elastic -- to locate and mark the waistline
  • Flexible but stable measuring tape
  • 12-inch ruler
  • A form-fitting T-shirt with set-in sleeves -- to help identify an armhole
  • Twill tape/cotton cording -- for marking crotch length
A. Neckline

Identify the natural neckline with a short chain necklace that settles comfortably, just below the slight hollow at the base of the neck.

• Mark the exact center front of this neckline with a small adhesive or pen dot.
• Mark the prominent vertebra at the top of the spine with an adhesive or pen dot. (Bend the head forward to make the vertebra easier to find.)
• Mark a point on each side of the neck, in line with the hollow just behind the earlobe.

B. Bust point

Mark the nipple location with a cross of two pins on the bra fabric or with an adhesive dot.

C. Shoulder point

Feel for the end of the flat bone at the end of the shoulder, or raise your arm until a dimple appears at the end of your shoulder and feel for the shoulder bone in this depression. It is important to identify an exact shoulder point.
• Mark it with an adhesive or pen dot.

D. Shoulder seamline

Draw a series of dots (more accurate than a drawn line) on the body, from the side-neck point marked on the neckline, along the top of the shoulder, to the shoulder point.

E. Waistline

Depending upon body proportions, there are two possible waistlines: a natural waist or, for people who do not have a naturally indented waist, a de facto (chosen) waist, where the top of skirts or trousers sits. Find the natural waist by tying a piece of elastic around the person's waist, and having her bend from side to side until the elastic settles comfortably in the hollow around the middle of her body; take the waist measurement here. If the person does not have an indented waist, adjust the elastic on her body to sit at the de facto waist. This often entails moving the elastic above or below the natural waist, sometimes to be higher at the back and lower at the front.
• Once established, mark the waistline on the body with a pen; the elastic can shift while measuring.

F. Armhole

Mark with a dotted line. Start from the shoulder point, down into the crease formed by the body joining the arm, on both the front and back. (If locating the armhole is difficult, duplicate one from a form-fitting T-shirt, slipping one hand under the sleeve to trace the seamline onto the body.)

G. Abdomen

Mark a line parallel to the floor across the fullest part of the abdomen.

H. Hips

Find the widest part of the lower body by wrapping a measuring tape around the hip area and sliding it down the body, note that the widest part may be anywhere from a few inches to more than 12 inches below the waist.
• Where the measurement is largest, mark a line exactly parallel to the floor all around the body.

I. Side seams

Draw a series of dots perpendicular to the floor from the underarm to the ankle on both sides of the body.

J. Center front and center back

Draw a series of dots perpendicular to the floor from the hollow of the neck to the waist. Repeat from the nape of the neck.

Then fill in the blanks:


Shoulder length/left:___________ right:___________



Back width:___________

Front shoulder slope/left:___________ right:___________

Back shoulder slope/left:___________ right:___________

Neck to waist/front:___________

Neck to waist/back:___________


Arm length (over arm)/left:___________ right:___________

Biceps/upper arm circumference/left:___________ right:___________

Armhole depth/left:___________ right:___________


Bust circumference:___________

Upper bust circumference:___________

Under bust circumference:___________

Chest width:___________


Natural neckline:___________

Neck edge to bust point (bust depth)/left:___________ right:___________

Neck edge to waist/left:___________ right:___________


Outer seam/left:___________ right:___________


Waist to floor/front:___________

Waist to floor/back:___________


Crotch length/total:___________

Crotch length/front:___________

Crotch length/back:___________

Crotch depth:___________

Waist and hips

Waist circumference:___________


Abdomen depth:___________

Hip circumference:___________

Hip depth:___________

Fullest part of hip:___________

Fullest hip depth:___________

(courtesy of Taunton.com)

Pick a Pattern

Front of envelope

Back of envelope

Most pattern companies have styles marked as "easy" or "very easy" to sew and these are the ones that a beginner should select. One of the pitfalls that new sewers fall into is taking on complicated projects. Get your feet wet by choosing a simply constructed (loose-fitting) skirt, top or pants that will not require a "custom fit" so that you can learn how garments are constructed.

I started discussing fabric previously, but I'll delve deeper into it in the next installment.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

My Shoe

A lot of you wanted to know about the shoe I was wearing with the last two outfits I posted, it's this one.

Via Spiga Mogul, Zappos, $172.95

BTW, Ms. 1969 - Your recognition is uncanny!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Spring Trends: The Crochet Dress

Temperley London Crochet Dress, Net-A-Porter.com - $1,106

Giuliana Testino Genovesa Crochet Dress, Net-A-Porter.com - $600

Diane von Furstenberg Livinia Crochet Dress, Net-A-Porter.com - $395

And mine!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Orange you glad it's Spring!

Project Details

Pattern: Simplicity 4589, View A
Fabric: Embroidered cotton voile (100% cotton)

Description: Square-neck pullover top.

Another easy pattern that sews up in an afternoon. I cut the size 14, according to me high bust measurement. Based on the shape of this top, I didn't need to make an FBA. I did add 2" to the length and at the waistline I cut to a size 16, since the to now reached the top of my hips. I decided to accessorize with a belt for waist definition because this type of top can look somewhat "maternity-ish". I love projects like this that are easy little wardrobe builders that take little to no time with fantastic results.

Pattern: McCall's 5330, View A
Fabric: Stretch Denim (97% cotton / 3% lycra)
Notions: Eight jean buttons

Description: View A has front button closure, topstitching and carriers.

I absolutely love this pattern! I cut the size 18 according to my hip measurements and I didn't have to make any modifications to it. The length and everything was perfect. The only thing I did was add denim-style topstitching. I'm going to use this one again in a white linen.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Anything But Basic - Skirt and Blouse Makeover

In the May issue of Lucky Magazine, they paired swingy square-neck blouses with button-front pencil skirts. Is this not the ultimate in easy dressing?

Here is the patterns I'll be using for this cool look:

These are already on the cutting table!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Vogue 8330 - I know...

No, your eyes are not deceiving you. I, of all people, made these jeans. See, it's a long story, but I'll keep it brief. Let's go back to last summer when I preached on the evils of skinny jeans, declared that they were sent from Satan himself and screamed from the rafters that you'd never, EVER catch me in a pair! Well... these aren't exactly "skinny jeans", they're "straight-leg jeans"! LOL I know, I know -- semantics! I had been seeing a lot of "not-so-skinny" women that looked pretty good in this style.

Alicia Keys


Tyra Banks

Then I saw Chanel with a pair on and she looked fabulous, and I knew right then, I had to atleast go and try on some. So, I decided to bite the bullet, hit the store and try them on. Okay... if I were going to struggle into a pair of these jeans, they had to be top-of-the-line, premium denium. I tried the William Rast Straight Leg Jeans, size 32 that retail for $224, and the fit was not terrible. The only thing I didn't like about them was the very low rise... no way in the world would I be able to bend over and pick anything up without showing all of the goodies.

Since I had made a pair of jeans before, I decided to take the plunge again.

Project Details

Pattern: Vogue 8330, View C
Fabric: Stretch Denim (97% cotton, 3% spandex)
Lining: Lightweight cotton twill - for the pockets (100% cotton)
Notions: Jean button; 7" brass zipper

Description: Close-fitting, low-rise pants have front fly, front zipper, front buttonhole and button closure, back yoke, carriers, front and back pockets, edge-stitch and topstitch detail throughout, with plain back pockets.

These jeans were very easy to make, just a basic pants construction with the exception of the yoke in back and all of the tedious topstitching. There were several modifications I made to get my desired look and fit.

  • Added a couple of inches to the rise both front and back. My rise is 10" in the front and 15" in the back.
  • Added 1.5" to the inseam. My inseam is 33".
  • Added 1" to the leg opening by adding ¼" to each side on the bottom of the front and back pieces. My leg opening is 15" wide.
  • Added darts to the yoke. When I tried them on before I added the waistband, I could tell that I would have some gaping. To solve this problem, I added darts.
  • Drafted new back pockets. It baffles me that the pattern designer didn't think to keep the back pockets proportionate in size as she took the jean size from 6 - 20. I like a larger pocket so I used the dimensions from a favorite pair I own.
  • Topstitching Detail - Front
  • Topstitching Detail - Back
Overall, I'm suprisingly pleased with the results. Michael likes them, gave them the "thumbs up" and the kids like them... said they were "school-visit" approved! LOL

Now... what I'm wearing with them...

Simplicity 3887 - YELLOW!

Just like everybody else, I've caught the yellow fever too!

Project Details

Pattern: Simplicity 3887, View C
Fabric: Cotton Gauze (100% cotton)

Description: Pullover top

This top is ridiculously easy... I can't really do much of a review of this. I sewed this in like 3 hours while watching Wednesday night's primetime t.v. The only changes I made were to the sleeves. Instead of using view C with the elastic, I used the sleeves for view E. I did a rolled hem on my serger for the sleeves and the bottom. This pattern has 6 different variations and I will definitely use this one again for me and my daughter.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Fabric: How do you choose?

Monogamy vs. Stashing

When you purchase fabric, how do you go about it? Do you have a project in mind? Do you see it and buy just because? Usually, when I buy fabric I have a project in mind. I hardly ever stash, I'm very monogamous with my sewing. On the occasions when I do stash, I already have a pattern and they are put away together.

Local vs. Online

Do you buy online or do you have to see it in person? I sometimes buy online but nothing (IMHO) beats going into a store and walking up and down the aisles, fondling and caressing for a couple of hours! My local shopping is pretty limited so I usually get swatches from online retailers.


Just like most people, I'm a sucker for a great deal or a sale. BUT, I will NOT toss quality out of the window just because I find fabric on the $1/yd. table. When I sew something, I want it to last and not become "disposable". As sewers, we put a lot of time into constructing a garment and my philosophy is that you should always buy the best fabric you can afford.

Fabric Trends

Do you follow the fabric trends? I do. Even though sewing provides me with individuality, I still like to be reflective of trends. I usually model most of the things I make by what's current. I flip through fashion magazines, go to stores and boutiques, browse online to identify colors and styles of the season. For example, Spring/Summer 2007's big fabrics are jersey knits (which is a big favorite of mine), prints such as flowers, ginkgo leave and all sorts of exotic botanicals.

Other Characteristics

Grain is very important in fabric. Woven fabrics are "on-grain," if the lengthwise and crosswise yarns are at right angles. Knit fabrics are "on-grain," if the lengthwise rows of loops (wales) in the knit are straight. Fabrics must be "on-grain" so the clothes you make will hang straight and look right.

Wrinkle or crease resistant. Crush a corner of the fabric and hold it tightly for several seconds. Then look for wrinkles. Fabrics that wrinkle easily will require extra care.

Colorfastness. Rub the fabric against your skin or a light colored fabric. Check to see if color rubbed off.

Flaws in construction and dyeing. As fabric is unrolled from the bolt, look closely for obvious flaws in construction. Also, check for fading. Sometimes fading will occur along the fold or where the fabric has been exposed to sunlight.

Odor. Although chemical finishing odors usually are removed by the first laundering, it is wise to avoid fabrics with strong odors.

Care requirements. Read the information on the end of the fabric bolt. It should tell you what fiber the fabric is made from, the width of the fabric, the price, if the fabric will shrink, if there are special finishes, and how to care for it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

In my prayers...

No pretty clothes, shoes, patterns or anything else inconsequential today. Especially as a parent of soon-to-be college students, my thoughts and prayers go out to the Virginia Tech family.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Designer - Tori-Nichel

I just recently learned of Tori-Nichel in the May 2007 issue of Essence Magazine. She has been dubbed by them "The Next Big Thing" and I'm inclined to agree. The 30-year old Michigan native is a graduate of F.I.T., has worked for Dana Buchman and Kenneth Cole and has recently launched her signature label. Tori-Nichel's design philosophy centers on fabric, details and fine tailoring. She says that the inside of her garments look just as great as the outside and fit a woman's body beautifully in all of the right places.

Spring 2007

"Frida Kahlo: A Love Story"

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Spring Trends: The Maxi Dress

Forever 21 - Knock IT Off!
I guess we should just refer to F21 as the "knock-off shop"! The dress on the left is the Foley for Foley + Corinna Smock Long Dress that retails for $440. The one of the right is Forever 21's Chiffon Floral Dress for $39.80.

Pebble Dress by Twinkle, Anthropologie - $288. Made from silk voile and trimmed in pink crepe de chine.

Desiree Dress by Tricia Fixx, Couture Candy - $275. Made in 100% polyester with crochet trim.

Plenty by Tracy Reese Maxi Slip Dress, Couture Candy - $319. Made in 100% silk.

Robbie Bee Split Front Silk Maxi Dress (Plus), Nordstrom - $88.00. Made in 100% silk chiffon.

Sweet Pea by Stacy Frati Mesh Tank Dress (Plus), Nordstrom - $118. Made in nylon.

These dresses are very reminiscent of the 1970's and to me, that's what Spring/Summer 2007 feels like. During the 1970's, women chose who they wanted to be and how they wanted to dress. They wore mini skirts one day and a maxi dress the next... just like this seasons mini shifts and maxi dresses. These romantic, dreamy, flowing full length-maxi dresses in empire waist or halter neck styles should graze the ankle instead of the floor for a "wearable" look that will not be hazardous and should be made in exotic prints and "Pucci-style" abstract patterns. They can be worn with a wedge heel, thong sandals or cute flip-flops.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Spring Trends: Pockets & Squares

Marc by Marc Jacobs Gauze Smocked Dress, $188; Wayne Ruffle Collar Dress, $450; Trina Turk Zima Dress, $238, Lacey Parker Silk Charmeuse Bubble Sleeve Dress, $385, Simplicity 3835 and Vogue 8229.

Adam + Eve Square-neck Shirt, $225; Catherine Malandrino Square-neck Blouse, $325; Adam + Eve Square-neck Empire Top, $325; Butterick 4738 and Simplicity 4022.