Saturday, July 12, 2014

Charles James Metropolitan Museum of Art

In case you can't make it to the exhibit you can check out the videos on the Metropolitan of Museum of Art website.  The second video which shows the detail of the installation. I was really impressed with the the way the Met displayed the dresses in a way that you could walk around them, and the robotics, as well as the cross section images and pattern information.  If you're a fan of Drape Drape, you will enjoy this show.

On the left bar you'll find more information including images, social media and audio interviews.



Charles James and the Clover Dress

Charles James at the Metropolitan Museum of Art NYC




Monday, May 26, 2014

I See Fabric and Potential

You all know I've been clearing things out of my closet and in my latest charity drop off I made the mistake of going in to the store.  I saw this skirt, and I couldn't see anything except the inky black color (which I am a sucker for), the fiber (linen), and the bias embellishment.... I thought how much would a yard of this cost me?  It followed me home.


I can't wear it as is, the bias has stretched out and the yoke really looks tired on the body, but fear not, we will make this into something cute.


It could be a tent dress, just kidding, see this is where I need your help, I almost considered this.


How about if I cinched in the waist?

No, no, no.... if it were a silk that would be another story altogether, I have been fooled by this dress form before and it's not getting me again.

OMG put it back together, what have I done?
More tomorrow.....

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Perfect Skirt Length..... another skirt alteration

While finishing the pretzel skirt, I stopped at the hem.  It's a pain to hem for oneself, do you have the right length or not?  Once it's stitched, will you go back and rip that hem out because you missed it by 1/2"? I have been guilty of doing that, and find that it comes to haunt me later I thought.... what?  it's not perfect, no way I'm not ripping it out, I have far too much fabric, so many projects to get to, but with every wear I'm reminded that I could have done better.  So here's where we need to stop and be smart about things.  Figure out what your Perfect Skirt Length is first, and pin it up and try it on, then go ahead and finish that puppy off.

I found a blog that explains the information very clearly at Crewsing Thru My 50's  (if you are younger don't be put off by the title, these rules are for everyone.

So armed with that knowledge I used it to hem my pretzel skirt, and my shorts, and now my new circle skirt redo.  You have to remember though that the fuller the hem of the skirt the longer it can be, also if you are wearing it with heels, wear them when you are determining your length.  So my pretzel skirt is a tad shorter than this one.

This is what happens to clothes that sit in bins waiting for alteration, they get a little wrinkled.


It looks nice enough what's wrong with it? Oh, that's what's wrong.... image

Time to take it apart... Here we have the inside waist area, which shows the same treatment we've all seen in pattern instructions. There's the fabric skirt, and the inside facing (with fusible interfacing)and lining. image

Then we have some interesting construction details... here is the seam binding once again, to stabilize the waist edge.


Then we have thread tacks to keep the pleats attached to the waist facing.

Draping the skirt.


Zipper removed, and waistband shaped... image

Looking for fabric to finish the waistband.... this is why they say don't bring an item to be altered unless there is plenty of fabric to work with, which is why circle skirts and full skirts are good candidates.

waist band

Iron and trim...

New waistbands

Parking the skirt

The skirt is 99% done, just a waist band hook, and hem away.... and when I find my tapestry needle I can get rid of those thread tails on the lining.  I am stopped now but I am considering what treatment to use on the hem. 

 The bias panel which was attached to the bottom is turned up and basted.  I am curious about how this will wear over time, and if I should abandon the nice wide vintage hem, or trim it back.  I like the weight that is added at the hem, but when they finished the edge off on the bias, the stitching distorted the bias and it has a soft lettuce effect.....


... all will be revealed at month end, and you can judge if I've achieved the perfect hem length in these alteration exercises.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

One Option for Altering a Circle Wrap Skirt

Trying to keep the momentum going, since my first attempt at altering the skirt didn't satisfy me, I tried again.
This version has kept the wide hem, but the attached waist sash is now a casing for a 1" elastic, and it is very cute on.


I didn't have the space to lay the skirt out and trim the hem properly, it was trimmed while on the dressform.
The raggedy edge was tamed by my trusty serger, unthreaded, here are some before and after shots.



The hem looks razor sharp.

Friday, May 16, 2014

That Lovely Norma Kamali Wrap Circle Skirt.....The Fail & Construction Details

I loved this skirt, it made me feel bohemian, in my youth I wore a lot of full circle skirts, I was thin enough to do so.  Fast forward 20 years and now not so much, so this was one of the garments that I could not part with.  The fabric is a black matte jersey and in perfect condition, but here's the issue.

20 years ago, what a lovely skirt....

Today.... Oh Dear...

Originally there would have been an 8" overlap at the waist, and instead of that lovely long tail at the waist, I have a lovely lumpy knot, and the danger of arrest because the overlap does not exist anymore.

Now, I did remove the waist band, and adjusted the skirt but it no longer suits me.  I am determined to use this fabric because it wears well, it's black and easy to wash.  Here's to the hardheaded among us.

Before I tear into it one last time, I wanted to show you some of the construction details.  This skirt is dead easy (and thrifty... except for the yardage) to make.

The waist band is a single layer, turned in and stitched at the edges.  
The skirt edges are finished in the same way (center front and hem).
(sorry for the blurry pic)
This is the band and center front skirt intersection.

It has a slit in the side seam waist band that is reinforced with topstitching,

There is a rayon tape that is folded in half and attached to the waist piece to stabilize the waistline, the top and bottom is stitched down through the waist and skirt seam allowances.
There is no other interfacing.

The seam allowances aren't even finished, but they don't have to be for stable knits.

So it hasn't worked for me as it, but look what we've learned.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Shorts for Summer Vogue 2532

This pattern has been around for ages, but I needed a pair of basic shorts that were flat fronts, long enough to cover my legs, and were just a step up from casual to wear with a growing collection of fine gauge knit tops in my wardrobe (that are never worn, until now, yay!).   Vogue 2532 was in the pattern stash, a project that was cut and put away in November, I remember having made my adjustments, (for a flat bottom / sway back,  short rise), so these did not fit me perfectly out of the envelope.  The only thing that bothered me was the length of the zipper, it looks very long, the pattern calls for a 7" zip, and once you add the topstitching it finishes around 8".  I don't know if it's that I've gotten used to the shorter rise, but these fall at the true waist, and took a bit of getting used to.  The pattern also called for tiny slits on the outside seams which I left off.  I do like the style of short, and will wear it for a bit and see if it needs a sister in another color.  The fabric is a Zegna cotton twill, purchased during an online sale at Michael's Fabrics / A Fabric Place.  I purchased just one yard, so was happy to get a garment out of it.

Vogue 2532

Vogue have put out a newer pattern with a contoured waist that might be worth looking into Vogue 9008

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Why I hate to throw out scraps..... the pantie project

It is apparent now that I have a problem, I worked out that if I sew all of the fabric I have I wouldn't have the closet space to house the wardrobe I would create, especially if I don't even throw out scraps.  Can you blame me though?  Fabric is expensive and I want to use all of it.

Remember this little number?

 I've worn it a lot and have discovered I should have bought more of this fabric because it was a very high quality cotton knit, and it has been washed and dried and not faded, or shrunk. So I am happy that I saved the scrap because it's a perfect candidate for these... now if they only had it in solid white, or black but they didn't, and isn't that always the way.

  cotton lisle pantie 

 So it's not just the cotton knits I hang on to, it's silk scrap as well...

  silk jacquard pantie 

 Well at least I'm getting practice attaching elastic, using new types of elastic. I can throw out some of the tatty panties in the drawer, because these are all natural fibers, and they breath and fit well. Not feeling like hanging onto scrap was such a problem now :)

  pantie collection

Have you noticed the ones on the left that are woven look so much larger than the ones on the right that are knit, it's the perfect visual for explaining ease requirements between knits and wovens.

I still have a ton of scraps and I think that June will be Salvation Army pantie time.  I'm sure they'll be happy to get some new ones for the bins, and that will make space for new elastics.... yes hopeless.

Monday, May 12, 2014

My Closet is almost empty....Repurposing ties - The Pretzel Skirt

I know I should feel like I have renewed energy, but I'm not going to lie to you, it was a trial.  Time to start filling the closet up again and building a wardrobe.

 Vogue 1247 - Navy drill
I've made this pattern before about 2 years ago but I think it's a classic and very wearable, once you add 6" to the hem length of the original pattern.  The first version was finished with an overcast stitch on the seam allowances, the pattern calls for a Hong Kong finish.  On the boards at that time 2 years ago, there was some discussion about using tie material for bias, and repurposing the wool flannel that many of the ties have inside for sleeve heads on jackets.  I was finally able to use the ties I had purchased from the Salvation Army for this purpose.

 Here's what I didn't know, how many yards of bias would I be able to get from a tie? I was able to get 4 yards, and 10" of 1 1/2" wide bias.  If you are going to do the same, you will need at least 2 maybe 3 ties to finish this project.  I used all of the tie bias then used lining cut into bias strips to finish the remainder.  I like it on the inside as much as on the outside.  The tie was a funky pretzel print, but since it was cut up, only we know what it was.



Friday, May 2, 2014

Repurposing or Keeping the outgrown size range... the slippery slope.

As I go through the bins, I find I have bins filled with yardage (uncut fabric and lace), labels and shoulder pads, and yarn (with paraphernalia), and to my surprise the more troubling categories, some UFO's, scrap and clothing.   There are a disproportionate number of bins (nearly half), of non yardage textile inventory.

This little beauty is finally departing, the fabric was very expensive, so much so, that I could only afford a little bit of it, and my mother the master of making every inch count, had to patch the facings (which was done symmetrically on both sides, pic on bottom, camouflaged with hem tape).

Clothes that no longer fit
Some of you very disciplined folk have gotten rid of the clothes that don't fit you, I find I have hung on to some of them.  Why you ask?  To be frank, I know I will not get back into the sizes that are 6" too small for me, even though it seems like yesterday those clothes were too large.  Memory is a funny thing, (it would appear that I have been trying to lose the same 10 lbs for the last 8 years, not the last 6 months).  I told myself that I would keep them for my niece.... flash back 3 months when she was visiting, and I showed her my prized possessions that were mostly met with a quizzical look. The last reason, was that I could now use those garments as muslin, or part of a quilt, or maybe pocket linings.... yes don't laugh, I'm hopeless.

Is there enough fabric in the garment to realistically refashion into another garment that you would wear?
If yes than work on it, and complete the garment in 7 days.

If it doesn't fit, and it's small yardage and it's in good condition - donate  or sell it
If it can't be donated because of stains or damage - it probably gave you your money's worth - retire it.

If you are keeping it to re purpose wash it - take it apart and store it.  Huh? Yup because if you can't be bothered, get rid of it.

Finally, if you think that someone can use it as is instead of repurposing it, weigh that option as well.

Then there are the items that are made of such high quality fabrics, I can not bear to part with them, what will become of these? If I have the space I'm keeping them but if you have suggestions I'm open to hearing them.

Old Sheets anyone? It would seem that in the process of eliminating clutter in all of the other areas of the house would cause me to recycle any textile item to my sewing bins.  Sheets, linen table cloths, needlework fabrics, napkins, it's all fair game.  What to do with these?

I'm keeping them, I need some practice quilting and when they are finished I can donate them.
They are good for muslins, they are also put in use protect furniture and beds from kitty hair.
They are also good for interfacing, since they are tightly woven, light weight and are preshrunk.
Also can be used to line garments, especially summer dresses.

Linens... as in the linen fiber table cloths
Keeping those as well....... have you seen this nuns quilts by Cindy Needham?

Sorting :) because I want to make a crazy quilt this year and the most interesting ones I've seen have been made out of a million different fabrics.

They are being sorted in bags by fiber content... how much do you want to bet that some of these bags don't make it back to the sewing room.....

Wish me luck, you won't hear from me again until this is completed.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

When is it all too much ? Hoarding or Stash?


There are a few times during the year when the idea of streamlining your stash becomes attractive, for me,  the time has come.  So when does stash building go wrong?  When does it become hoarding?  After an illness last year, I was forced to make room for caretakers.  Every bit of the stash was moved to a storage unit 6' x 6' x 10' , and proudly every inch of space was utilized in a way that I could get to it easily, with just a little shifting.  Convinced I would only need to keep the space for 3 months, the cost of rental seemed reasonable.  Fast forward 5 months, it all has to come back in.  A new opportunity to apply new priorities to the existing stash.  My beautifully empty home will be invaded once again (that's not to say I didn't miss my stash).

We've all seen the hoarding shows, we tell ourselves, it can't happen to us, what were these people thinking?  Yet, we all love a bargain, who can resist it?  Making our money last with a bargain and having that rush of getting something for free, or finding a beautiful cut of fabric, or that hard to find notion that will make our lives easier, or and the list goes on.  One of the few non fattening indulgences we allow ourselves.

Think about this.... some of the hoarders on these shows have been traumatized, either by physical illness, or emotional upheaval.  There are a number of things that can leave us immobilized, loss of a loved one, a divorce, an illness, there are pitfalls everywhere.  The mail keeps coming, the bills keep coming, the magazines the inserts (that we don't ask for), there will always be stuff coming into the house for as long as we are alive.  So we try to keep ahead of it, by taking out the trash, donating, and swapping or selling things, but sometimes the "creep" wins, and we find ourselves tackling the piles all over again.

Many of the tips to streamline your wardrobe (if you have mostly clothing fabrics), and declutter tips to focus your craft supplies (which for me now include quilting) can be applied here.

First step - Like Items with Like Items -  Go through all of those bins and put like things together, everyone will have a different set of categories.  I have whittled down the yarn collection to 2 bins and a knitting machine.  The silk boxes are a mere 3 bins, the linen 1 bin, the wool 1 bin, the quilting paraphernalia has grown to 3 bins from 0.  Depending on how you sew, bead or knit, your categories will be different.

Second Step - Inspection -

Eliminate anything that smells that you aren't committed to cleaning.  If it smells musty because it's been in the bin too long chances are you will never get a fresh cleaning garment out of it, and if you keep it with other fabrics that aren't musty, know, that the musty will spread.  Also this is something that is really important if you frequent garage sales, thrift stores, or craigslist remember to smell any garments or fabric you are bringing into your home.  Sometimes our enthusiasm gets the better of us and by the time we are home it's too late.  Also as a friend cautioned me, the threat of bed bugs is another issue, so maybe a quarantine would be in order.

Toss anything that is dirty, damaged or stained  I kept some threads that I have tested and they are sun bleached along the ends, and break very easily. These might be useful for thread art, but seriously, not even for that, the chance of them disintegrating further and spoiling your project, it's just not worth it .  Some of the pearl cotton which was inherited from my mother's stash, has yellowing, this could be used for displays or photo shoots, but I don't do that sort of thing.  Broken supplies, like plastic rulers, those items missing an important component that makes it non functioning need to go away.

Separate things to donate or sell 
Will you ever use it?   These are the items that are still useful, and can find a home somewhere else. That double knit polyester from the 70's might find a home on ebay or the thrift store for a kitschy 70's costume. Those specialty items you purchased as result of a class, or your dreams of making the largest pom pom in the universe, they need to find a new home.  Do you have fabrics that aren't the right color for you or that now you can't stand the feel of?  I used to wear poly knits to work all the time, loved them, they wash well, were fluid, had a nice drape, maintained their colors, what's not to like?  Well, I find I can no longer tolerate them, they are simply too hot for my climate, so they have to go.  Remember that yardage fury when you entered the stash busting contest, and decided you would win with the 4,000 tutu's and circle skirts you were going to sew up in 10 minutes.  Don't be ashamed, maybe a children's theater group can make good use of those fabrics.... unless you wear petticoats, and there's nothing wrong with that either.  Just be realistic here.

Now that you have those piles organized, get them out of the house as quickly as possible.  Do not allow yourself to go through the elimination piles again.

Next.....The slippery slope..... repurposing.