Sunday, June 30, 2013



Let me introduce myself, my name is Lourdes.

I've been sewing since I was 11, I still remember the blue gingham dress with mutton sleeves and lace trim, that I made with my two little hands (greatly assisted by my mother).  I have always been interested in textiles, design, fashion history, I attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and graduated with an Associates degree in Fashion Design and a Bachelors degree in Production Management Apparel. Later I would go back to school and earn my M.B.A. to meet the demands of the local job market.  Working for large companies and small, wearing many hats along the way, I find myself back to my passion and have spent my time focusing on all things related to fashion and how to make garments in general.  From pattern making to fitting, and learning new techniques, like machine embroidery and dyeing fabrics successfully.  I am blown away by the content available on the web, and how generous this community is.  This is my personal blog, and it is varied in content because I am nothing if not naturally curious.  

Black Valenciennes Lace Blouse with Tulle and Tucks

My room now smells like lavender, as I continue to unpack the stored pieces. I always wondered why mom measured so much when she sewed. If you have ever seen a pattern piece with all of the insert lace plotted out on the surface you would know why. In order to get the Valenciennes Lace to align, and look even, symmetrical, you have to be very patient and very careful. Having to rip out a seam on a piece of lace which is black on black with a tiny stitch wrapped around cotton tulle and lace is just not an option. 

Black lace blouse

Or maybe she was working on the tiny buttons that are covered in a double layer of crepe de chine and tulle.

Black lace shirt close up front

Black lace shirt back

Vintage Silk Nightgown with Valenciennes Lace

My mother the master of  lace inserts. This one is not as intricate as some other projects but still manages to mix three different types of lace, Valenciennes lace, a scalloped ribbon insert lace, and lace edging to finish. The body of the gown is a lightweight silk crepe de chine with a soft daisy print, there are slits on the bottom hem which are finished off with more edging lace. It is very light and begs you to curl up on a high back chair with a good book, cashmere wrap and a cup of tea... or at least to manage to get all that makeup off your face, brush and floss, and fall exhausted into bed.

The lace yoke is a good contrast for a freshly cleaned and buffed face!

Gray Silk lace night gown

Silk lace night gown

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Palmer Pletsch 1 Piece Pant Leg M6571

These pants were very interesting, you cut out one piece on doubled fabric.


This pant has only two seams (inseam and the crotch seam).  The side seam has been engineered out.  I've read about these pant patterns, so was delighted to see it included in this pattern.  At least I wouldn't need to try and hunt it down elsewhere. 


Again the fitting is what takes the longest, and I cheated a bit with my TNT pant pattern, so it moved along faster.  In the end I reduced the crotch depth 2" and the width of the pant about 3-4".  I wasn't sure I would like them but I do.  They're not like your typical elastic waistband pant, this has shaping to it.  There are darts that mark the sides, then another pair on the back and a total of four on the front.   I elected to use the side seam dart, and the back dart, but no front darts.  My next pair will have at least one pair of  front darts, they aid in keeping the pant from shifting and reduce the gathering bulk. You can just about make out the back dart here.


Don't be alarmed, I'm not going to wear these together, I just wanted to see what the proportions look like together to make the top I will eventually wear with them. Below the top from the same pattern McCalls M6571.


With the left over striped ponte, I'll try and piece a top together and hopefully not look like I've broken out of prison.

prison stripes

Palmer Pletsch Boatneck t-shirt Pattern McCalls M6571 With Fitting Instructions

I don't know why people think that knits don't have to be fitted.  Is it because we are so used to this kind of fit, that improving it isn't a priority? 
Example of ill fitting T-shirt


So here's an opportunity to get one version of a t-shirt done to my specifications.

6571  1

Another Palmer Pletsch pattern from McCalls.  These patterns are fun, they are chock full of fitting instructions, and while the style isn't trendy or cutting edge, it is a classic.  View A is a boatneck with a shallow V  just a little different, view B is more of the classic boatneck, with a slightly rounded neckline.

6571 2 first tissue fit

This is exactly how RTW fits, complete with drag lines on the lower back and funky fullness on the front.
Tackling those issues.... sway back is adjusted.

Sway back

Bust dart is marked
bust dart

Changes are made to the pattern and refitted.

6571 full bust and swayback adjusted

It's only tissue and it's already looking better.
Here we are at the fabric stage, just pinned at the shoulders and sideseams.
6571 cut in fabric

6571 cut in fabric back

Tada!! This will be one of these t-shirts I'll wear until threadbare.  Now I changed the fit from the pattern a bit and made it a little less fitted.  The reason for this is that the knit used is fine cotton lisle, 100% cotton, with no lycra.  I don't know if it will shrink substantially but I've left enough ease to wiggle my way back in after washing.  The neckline on this t-shirt is very flattering, so it will be made again, maybe even today.

McCalls 6571 bateau neckline

McCalls 6571 bateau neckline
This is the cotton lisle close up.
Cotton Lisle

I liked the facing on this t-shirt, and while I thought it might make it too precious, it gives stability to the neckline and shoulder area, and makes this t-shirt just a little more refined, and it gives the neckline stability.
McCalls 6571 facing

The t-shirt above is view A, (on the left) which has a slight v.  View A (on the right) has a rounded shape but they are both about the same depth.  The pattern comes with 2 pattern pieces for the front, so you don't have to worry about cutting the "v" neckline and destroying the pattern for the rounded version.

McCalls 6571 line drawings
Here is the other view in the pattern which is the classic boatneck.


Had to make another to go with my striped pants, but the skirt was on the dressform and I think I'm channeling french casual here.  I just need to go out and buy a baguette and beret!  This is the proper boatneck neckline included in the pattern.  I really like how this is drafted, and have learned a little about not over fitting with this pattern.



As a display to show off a necklace.

The pants are in the next post....

Cynthia Rowley Contoured Waistband Skirt Simplicity 1783

I knock around in Banana Republic skirts and shorts most days.  I really need some more casual skirts so when this Cynthia Rowley pattern popped up I jumped at it.


You almost don't see the skirt option on the pattern envelope.


Then realized it has the contoured waist.
I decided to create a muslin, crazy right?  It's such a simple skirt why would you do that?
Primarily because every contour waistband I've ever made with one exception has given me a peak at the side seam.

So I marked the muslin with the stitching line and popped the skirt on the form.
Here's the skirt section only without the waistband.



Looks fabulous so far.... so here comes the waist band


The dark navy is the original pattern, and the red is the new waistband seamline.


Here we are finished marking, and below the changes that need to be made before I cut the garment.


Skirt front

It's a cute little skirt, the hemline vent is on the front instead of the back, and it has the contoured waist.  The waist opening is a little tight, if you are going to make this I would lengthen the zipper opening at least another  inch (which would include lengthening the inside zipper facings).  It is so tight, I couldn't get it on my dressform, and had to photograph it on a much smaller size.  I have no trouble getting into it but it could be more comfortable.  The adjustment made in the previous post on the waistband was very successful.  The pockets on the original pattern are a bit of a mystery to me.  They are patch pockets that are sewn only on three sides.  I can't imaging anything staying in there if the opened side isn't stitched up from the bottom, so I elected to go with a pocket I really like from a YSL pattern (and I already had the template for them so that was a no brainer).

Pocket detail

With the contour waist, the pattern calls for the skirt waist area to be stay stitched, which is necessary.  Here's what the pieces look like matched at the side seam and notches.

Ease waistband to skirt

You might even think that you've cut the wrong size, when in reality you have not.  What's required here is clipping the skirt seam allowance to the stay stitch line (but not through the stitches).  It will then lie flat against one another.

clip to ease stitch

Other than that, the skirt is a little short at around 18", if I were to make it again, I would lengthen it another 4", and maybe add some width at the hem for walking ease.   I thought that cutting a larger size in this pattern might be needed, so I measured a skirt that I wear all the time, and the width is exactly the same.  You might do the same to be on the safe side.   It reminds me of a tennis skirt as is, but this is for knocking around the neighborhood.  It's made out of the same fabric used for the trench made last year, it's a nylon blend faille, so this may end up being my rainy day skirt, which is appropriate as Isaac is just south of us today.

Collar close up

Version 2

Doesn't this look like something from the Easter Islands?
Pocket opening

This is Simplicity 1783 with adjustments.


Simplicity 1783

Added walking ease, longer zipper opening (and facings), and longer length.
Simplicity 1783 skirt

I didn't need as much length as I cut, but wanted options and a deeper hem for this version.

I also added a welt pocket with buttoned flap , and lining.


This fabric was a remnant from 2 other projects, and I was left with less than a handful of scrap that's headed for the scrap pouf. It's very gratifying to use every bit of fabric, a little like finishing a pencil. 

Donna Karan Vogue Inspiration with OOP Vogue 2813 and Butterick 5756


Black skirt

It's black (slimming), it has pockets (practical), it's cotton (feels good against the skin), it has spandex in it (comfortable but manages to hold wrinkles but not a sharp pleat), it's poplin (so it's lightweight).  

  It rustles a bit like the nuns gowns.  When I was putting it together I was reminded of the pleated plaid skirt I had to wear in school.

Here it is without the hem band (way too short).


Here it is with the hem band fully extended (way too long)


The waistband is 1 1/4" wide, and contoured, so I had to make the changes to the curve for a swayback adjustment. The new pattern pieces lie beneath the originals.


As you can see it sits nicely.


Here are the details on the pocket from Butterick 5756, which are hidden in the side seam pleat.  

This is what it looks like inside out.

Here are the pattern pieces for the body of the skirt, they are rectangular.  The round shaping achieved at the band is through the angles of the tucks at the waistline.

We have front and back pieces here with the side seams facing each other.
Butterick 5756 skirt pattern pieces

As you can see, there is a tuck that bridges the side seam front and back piece.


First you add the pockets to the front and back side seam.


You join the side seam as you would any other, about 2" down from the waistband, then from the bottom opening to the hem (see pins), then around the pocket pieces.

Then you open up the seam...

And sew in your tuck

The pocket sits within the fold of the tuck, out of view.

Sorry about the black projects, they are nearly impossible to photograph.

I will say that the nice thing about these pockets is that if you have something in them, the fullness in the skirt camouflages the contents, which might be a nice feature when travelling.

I bought the skirt pattern (Butterick 5756) in the hopes I had found a workable solution for that Donna Karan shirt dress on the Vogue cover back in January, it had some of the elements I was looking for but falls a little short.  It's almost there but not quite.  So a little more tweaking.  The black shirt from Donna Karan OOP Vogue 2813, the Butterick 5756 skirt.


The Vogue dress for reference

Donna Karan 2012 Pearl shirtdress vogue 2012

On the runway
Donna Karan 2012 Pearl shirtdress

I need a wide belt to go with it, but there's no way I can make it out of the scrap that's left.  I did a really good job of getting all of the pieces cut from a limited amount of fabric. So the skirt has a similar silhouette, and it has the bottom hem band, but in black you can barely make out the pleats or any details.

What this really needs is a skirt that's not as pleated, maybe just one pleat to hide the pocket on the dress, and a fabric with a bit of sheen.  Something way happier than this dull black. 
Front - medium width belt

Back - medium width belt

Front - Wide belt

Back - Wide belt

I think I like the narrower belt for this version, so back to the drawing board.