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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Couture Pants - Part 3 - Pockets

Next up are the pockets. I first started with the pocket flaps. The pattern recommended hair canvas as the interfacing for the pocket flaps. I ran a test on the muslin and discovered that the hair canvas was too heavy and left the pocket flap too stiff. I decided to use Perfectfuse Light. As you see in the pic, the seam allowances are folded under and basted on both the fabric and the lining. The lining is seam allowance is folded under 1/8" more than the fabric. The seam allowance was secured with catchstitches. The fabric is topstitched and then the lining is handsewn to the fabric using fell stitches. Instead of the couture handsewn buttonholes, I decided to do machine ones. Hand buttonholes as you can imagine are quite daunting. I tried this out on my muslin and I was not pleased with the look. I'll practice more on this and try it out on a later project.

Next were the welts. Claire Shaeffer uses the strip method for her double-welt pockets. This is one of the easiest methods I've used and I highly recommend it. In (a) the strips are sewn to the right side of the garment. In (b), the slash is made and the welts are turned through the opening.

The pocket flap is inserted between the welts and the pocket bag is sewn.

The pattern shows one pocket, but I decided to make two. I thought it looked whopsided on me.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Legend Says Goodbye

Valentino said goodbye to the fashion world he helped define Wednesday in Paris, reports Reuters. Last year his business was purchased by private equity firm Permira, and with it the last of the great designers relinquished day-to-day control to the global commercial industry.

Valentino's breakthrough came in 1962. Before dressing the likes of Uma Thurman, the influential Italian designer was impressing European royalty, Jacqueline Kennedy and Audrey Hepburn. Elton John was there with models, industry giants and fans to celebrate Valentino's career and witness his last walk the runway.

Here is his Spring 2008 Haute Couture Collection


Monday, January 21, 2008

Couture Pants - Part 2 - The Fly

On couture pants, the zipper is done by hand. At first, I feared this would be quite daunting because aren't all couture techniques suppose to be difficult? I was happily surprised. This is the easiest zipper application I've ever done! Sew-in interfacing is hand basted on both sides of the fly extension. I used 1/4" wide twill tape to stay the foldlines.

I finished the edges with my serger instead of using hand overcasting. Once the front sections are machine stitched together below the fly extensions, I turned in the extensions on the foldlines, basted at the waist edge and pressed.
The difference between this method and the ever-so popular Sandra Betzina method is this: When using the couture method, you topstitch the fly BEFORE you put the zipper in. And when you think about it, it makes so much sense! I always flub on my topstitching when the needle has to go across the zipper.

The zipper is sewn in by first basting it in place. Now, the part that scared me to death was handstitching it in. I'll admit, I didn't trust my handstitching ability in securing this zipper! The method that is recommended is called stabstitching. Stabstitching is used to sew through thick layers by inserting the needle into the outside and pulling it out on the inside. Then insert it from the inside and pull it to the outside. This stitch is very secure. The stabstitching was only done on the underlap (the side that is not seen by the public). For the right side, the zipper is based into place and secured with running stitches. In my opinion, this method produces a neater looking zipper and it also gives you more control. I'll be using this method for all of my fly fronts from now on.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Couture Pants - Part 1 - Thread Tracing

As if the "CHANEL" jacket was not torturous enough, I'm such a glutton for punishment that I decided to do a pair of couture pants. When doing couture sewing, there is thread tracing. Couture garments are generally marked with thread because it's a durable marking that is visible on both sides of the fabric. I marked my stitching lines on the garment with chalk. I thread traced the seamlines, crease line (lengthwise grain), crotch line, the fly opening, stitch line for the zipper and the welt placement.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

We have snow!

Well, just a little and it's already melting!
It's amazing how less than an inch of snow brings out the goofiness in grown people. I saw neighbors outside this morning that I don't think I've ever seen! ROFL

Friday, January 18, 2008

Getting waisted and the Seventies

Even though we are under a Winter Storm Advisory with the threat of snow (that's a big deal here in the Deep South), my mind couldn't be any more on Spring fashion than it is right now. Spring/Summer 2008 fashions are a throw-back to the 70s. There will be bright, bold colors; Disco (have you seen the Versace ad campaign?); hippie; tribal dressing (check out Oscar de la Renta); maxi dresses (I didn't get around to making one last season) and high-waisted pants.

This trend may not be for everyone, but it's sticking around for a minute. Personally, I love them. It's refreshing to be able to bend over without giving everyone in viewing distance a "half moon". In all honesty, most really aren't that high... most hit below the belly button.

Here are two patterns that I'll be trying out:

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

PR's - Best Patterns of 2007

Pattern Review.com published an article on the "Best Patterns of 2007".

click image to read

Simplicity 3631 was #10 on the list. As you see, Tearsa ("That's Sew Live") made a fabulous one also! Make sure you go and read the entire article. There are a couple on there that I haven't made yet, but I will!

Monday, January 14, 2008

New Look 6757 - Denim Trousers

Project Details

Pattern: New Look 6757, View A
Fabric: Herringbone Denim (100% cotton)
Notions: Bias tape; 7" invisible zipper; hook & eye

I was inspired to sew this pattern from a pair of Habitual Denim Trousers at Barney's and a pair of paper bag waist trousers worn by Beyonce. I really like the style, but I didn't want to go too high-waisted. I wanted to capture the essence of the trend without having a pair of pants that would be obsolete come Autumn.

I decided to use a herringbone denim that I found at Hancock's... another one of those "jewels" that I have penchant for discovering in there. I had to make a few alterations. I added 1/2" to the outer seams for additional room through the hip and also because my pleats were not laying flat on my muslin. I also added 4" to the length. These pants would have produced a 29" inseam if I had not. I added a CB seam to the back yoke. I did this by adding 5/8" to the pattern piece and cut 2 pieces instead of cutting it on the fold. It was a good thing I did this because I ended up having to take in the waistband.

These pants have darts in the back and one pleat on each side in the front and they have a side zipper. I used an invisible zipper and an eye & hook. I finished off the waistband facing with a Hong Kong finish as I always do on pants and skirts and sewed it down using slipstitches. I finished them off with a 1 1/4" hem. I decided to pair them with one of my favorite shirts, my McCall's 5471. I recommend this pattern based on how "beginner friendly" it is. It's one of the more simpler pants patterns I've done.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Club BMV - Opinions Please!

I'm sure all of you have heard about Club BMV by now. I've been pondering membership for days now. Would this really be beneficial to me? Here are the membership benefits:

You receive an "extra 10% off" on Butterick, McCall's and Vogue patterns -- even on sale days. Okay... there is a sale at Hancock on tomorrow: Butterick - $1.99 each; McCall's - 5 for $5 and Vogue - 75% off. See, I keep a running list of all patterns that I want and buy them when they are on sale, especially Vogue. For a person like me who does this, is the Club really for me? I do however like the 10% off on Out-Of-Print patterns, but I only look at those once in a blue moon. I don't buy catalogs and I don't subscribe to the magazines. So, should I just get it for the great price of only $12 just to have it? What do you think?

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Non-sewing, but good info

Another one of my interests is wine. This is from a weekly newsletter I receive, thought it was interesting and wanted to share with other wine enthusiasts. Here are 10 Reasons NOT To Give Up Wine For The New Year:

Reason 1: Drinking Red Wine with fried foods may counter act the effect of the fat attack. Studies find that people who drink wine daily have lower body mass than those who indulge occasionally; moderate wine drinkers have narrower waists and less abdominal fat than people who drink liquor. There is a two for one on your resolutions.

Reason 2: Cancer runs in your family? Resveratrol (antioxidant) helps prevent cancer by limiting tumor growth. Red wine is high in flavonoids (a type of polyphenol), which are antioxidants. One of the most studied antioxidants is resveratrol, which comes from grape skins and seeds. Antioxidants help prevent certain molecules, known as free radicals, from damaging cells.

Reason 3: Wine drinkers less likely to get common cold. An investigation revealed that men and women who drank more than 14 glasses of wine each week had a 40 percent reduction in colds compared with people who drank no alcohol. The association was stronger for red wine and the same findings were not true for people consuming other alcoholic beverages, the report indicates. On average, the men had 1.1 colds per person per year in that time, while women averaged 1.7 colds per person per year. Bottoms ups!

Reason 4: Wine can be expensive if you are cutting down on your spending this year. The Wine Cellar we have wines to fit everyone's budget & a monthly Newsletter with discounts. Also if you buy in bulk you save an additional five to ten percent on the already marked down items.

Reason 5: Too many calories in alcoholic beverages? It is all about portion control and moderation. Red wine 3.5oz has approximately 74 calories. White wine 3.5oz has approximately 70 calories.

Reason 6: Forgetful? Wine could preserve your memory. When researchers gave memory quizzes to women in their 70s, those who drank one glass of wine or more every day scored much better than those who drank less or not at all.

Reason 7: Researchers have found that men who drink an average of four to seven glasses of red wine per week are only 52 percent as likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer as those who do not drink red wine, reports the June 2007 issue of Harvard Men's Health Watch. Men won't need another reason.

Reason 8: Australian researchers recently compared women with ovarian cancer and cancer-free women; they found that roughly one glass of wine a day seemed to reduce the risk of the disease by as much as 50 percent.

Reason 9: Would you rather eat spinach once daily or drink a glass of wine? On average, women who drink moderately seem to have higher bone mass than abstainers. Alcohol appears to boost estrogen levels; the hormone seems to slow the body's destruction of old bone more than it slows the production of new bone.

Reason 10: And most importantly, wine is delicious! How could you live without it? Pair it with a meal, loved one or a night alone because nothing makes you feel as fine as Wine!

Have a fabulous Sunday!

Friday, January 04, 2008

Q & A's

Barbara ask:
Erica - thanks for the great review. I, along with the poster Meg, would love to know how you carve out time for sewing and a busy life? If you have any secrets you can share, this would be wonderful! Maybe an article for Pattern Review or even one of your blog entries. I work full time in HR and unfortunately find that time is "not by own" even when I come home in the evenings - and have other demands too. There has to be a better way to maximize time and you do a great job at. : ) Thanks!!!!!!!
Barbara (and Meg),
There's no secret nor is it a science. I just do it. It's all about what YOU consider a priority. In my world, there's no such thing as not having time to sew... sewing is a priority. It's right up there with cooking, cleaning and laundry. It also helps that those around me respect what I do. My husband doesn't think of my sewing as something frivolous. He knows this is serious to me and something that I love doing.

Kwik Sew 3155 - Activewear

Project Details

Pattern: Kwik Sew 3155
Fabric: Stretch Velour (cotton/spandex)
Notions: 2 eyelets

Description: Misses' top and pants. The pullover top has front neckline slits, the hoods are finished with narrow hems and has full-length flared sleeves. The pull-on pants have a stitched elastic waist and a self fabric drawstring that ties on the left side.

As with most Kwik Sew patterns, the pattern was extremely well drafted and the instructions were superb. This pattern was designed for knit fabrics with a 25% stretch across grain. This pattern uses 1/4" seam allowances. I used my serger for the entire construction. I used a 3-thread overlock stitch for the seams and a coverstitch for the hems.

I did have to make a few alterations to this pattern. But that's the norm with me. There are very few I can wear right out of the envelope. For the top, I wanted to make sure I would have enough room in the bottom across the hip. I cut a size large and blended to an x-lrg. 1" below the waist. I also added an inch to the length. As I do for all knit tops, I used fusible stay tape on the shoulder seams to prevent stretching.

For the pants, I cut the x-lrg. and added 3" to the length (can you imagine how short they would be if I hadn't). I pretreated this fabric by washing and drying as I would the finish garment. I wanted to take an extra precaution that I wouldn't have a too tight or too short garment after several trips to the washer and dryer. I added 1" wide elastic to the waistband and changed the placement of the ties. The directions suggested that they were to go on the side and the holes for the ties were to be buttonholes. I like my ties in the front. Don't you get sick of loosing drawstrings in the wash? I know I do. Instead of buttonholes, I decided to use metal eyelets and knot my ties on the ends.

This is fantastic loungewear that you can wear out of the house. I decided to throw on a fur vest with mine since it was so cold today.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Happy Birthday Brian!

Happy Birthday to my first-born... my only son... my photographer extraordinaire!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Forever 21 and Couture...

should never be used in the same sentence.

Couture Chiffon Dress
might be cute, but couture it is not!

cou·ture (kü-ˈtr), noun - the business of designing and producing fashionable, high quality, custom-made clothing.
Couture sewing is all about the *custom* fit and finishing details. Honestly, do you think you're going to get that at F21??? You're not going to get "couture" at Saks, Neimans, Nordstroms or Barneys. You get "couture" from a custom dressmaker or a designer. Couture does not come "off the rack". This is a term that's thrown around very loosely... too loosely.

I love couture sewing techniques and I try to incorporate them in just about everything I sew. In the February/March 2008 issue of Threads Magazine, there is an article by Susan Khalje on using couture methods to sew a "LBD".

Here are the resources I turn to in order to produce couture results:

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Sewing for others

This is a primary reason why I don't sew for others. Most people have very little appreciation for the skill level of home sewers. They would rather have something "cheaply made" by an 8 year old in a Thai or Chinese sweatshop. I can't imagine somebody comparing a bound buttonhole, french seam or hand sewn hem to something from Walmart or Target. That makes my head hurt. I think it's an extra bottle of champagne calling my name.

Cidell -- "Reminder: Why I don't sew for other people"

Happy New Year!

To all of my readers around the world:

French - Bonne année!

German - Gutes Neues Jahr!

Italian - Buon Capo d'Anno!

Norwegian - Godt Nyttår!

Portuguese - Feliz ano novo!

Romanian - La Multi Ani!

Spanish - Feliz Año Nuevo!

Swedish - Gott Nytt År!

In 2008, the best is yet to come...