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Monday, March 23, 2015

McCalls 6752 /Easy Knit in time for first signs of Spring in Asheville

       Asheville is starting to witness the first signs of spring.  Yes, the daffodils and yellow-bells are blooming.  The fruit trees are getting ready to pop with color along with the azaleas; all of which has me thinking of something easy to sew for spring. I ended up sewing McCalls 6752, easy knit blouse view A.  Check out the pattern:

      Fabric: Purchased 1 1/2 yards of a beautiful dark teal cotton jersey knit from Hancocks.  With a coupon I ended up paying something like $7's.  Of course, I went back to purchase more it completely sold out the next day.

      Notions:  1/4" wide elastic, matching poly thread,  ball jersey needles and of course the decorative 7" zipper.  All of which I purchased at  Hancocks when they had their notions sale. 

     First things first, I have never worked with knits until I sewed this blouse.  Of course the internet is wonderful for researching sewing knits, with or without a serger.  Also, I do not have a serger, but do have an overlock pattern on my machine so I knew it would be o.k.  
First Signs of Spring in Asheville

      After sizing my fabric, I used a rotary cutter to cut my fabric. Sewing:  I used a small zigzag stitch for all horizontal seams and straight stitch for all vertical seams. Then I trimmed seams to 1/4" and then used the overlock stitch. 

       The pattern was very easy to understand.  I didn't have any issues sewing the fabric together. Although, I did question the front neck facing, but it worked.  Even though cotton jersey knit is not as crisp as a woven fabric like cotton; it did iron well and wasn't nearly as "headache" worthy as silk charmeuse. 

       Adjustments:  I did a pattern fit and it looked like it was long enough in the torso; however, after sewing it up I really should have lengthened the torso about an inch.  Yeah, there is not a lot of flowing fabric near the waist line.  Easy fix for next time. 
Spike likes the blouse too!

        All and all I think this is a very easy pattern.  And cotton jersey knit is so comfortable.  I am not really a t-shirt person (unless I am exercising or working in the yard) so this blouse is a great compromise. I plan to make another one in a different color after I finish a summer dress that is already cut and ready to be sewed up. Also, I do plan to sew up the cut dress version. Lastly, I do want to get a pair of white slim jeans for spring to wear with this blouse. 

      Onto another completely different topic:

       We just put our Asheville house on the market for sale.  After living in Asheville for almost 10 years, I couldn't help but miss my family and friends in New Orleans.   With years of debates, we finally came to a decision to move. I closed our business last year and decided to make the leap.  It sounds crazy, but I have hope that it will work out. 

       We put in lots of landscaping....I mean, veggie garden, herb garden, spring garden, fruit trees, blueberries, grapes, etc.  We are crazy gardeners, and the yards have really matured after 5 years.  Check out some photos:

The front of our yard

Backyard with blueberry patches

Glenn with grape crop last year/2014

Digitalis with Spike (Can you see him) 

Last year's snow in backyard
Asheville is a beautiful place to live, but for us, New Orleans is home. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Nice dancing dress in Tango Red Linen/ Butterick pattern 5951

    Where did January go?  In my sewing world, I spent January sewing up a cute new blouse; which was suppose to start the New Year off properly.  However, after making an amateur mistake, yes, I made a pattern adjustment without a muslin test, the blouse turned out wonky under the arms.  A simple bust dart would have taken care of it, but since I did not "fit as you sew"......I ended up donating it.  Oh well.  Moving forward to February.

     In my sewing desk drawer, I had a muslin already cut and ready to sew for pattern Butterick 5951.  As soon as the pattern came out I purchased it.  I love the detail elements, like the elastic in the sleeves, gathers on the front and shoulders, and of course just the over all shape of the pattern. I can see this dress in a summer, fall and spring version.........depending on the fabric. Check out the pattern:

     After sewing up the first muslin I made a few adjustments and moved forward and sewed up another test muslin in Tango Red Linen with a black bemberg lining.  Check it out:

Tango Red Linen

    Fabric and Notion Details:  100 % Tango Red Linen, around 2 1/4 yards.  Purchased from Hancock Fabrics on the clearance section. Cost around $9.00  Also, used black bemberg lining from my stash to line the top of dress. Since I wasn't sure how linen would sew up in this pattern....I didn't line the bottom of the dress.  Purchased Gutterman thread 250 yards for $2.00 (on sale) and from my stash had a matching red tradition zipper and black bias tape for hem and Hong Kong zipper seam. 1/4" elastic for sleeves; which is what I had on hand, but the pattern does call for 1/2"

Elastic in sleeve

   Adjustments: 3/8" FBA. (Although, I could wear the dress without the FBA, I felt uncomfortable, so I went ahead and added it. )  Lengthened the torso 1 3/4" (typical for me) Shortened skirt 2".  Full upper arm adjustment.  (For the next dress I sew in this pattern I am taking a 1/4" off the cap sleeve.  There is just a little too much puff for me) Raised v-neck an 1" up.  (If I would have left it like the pattern called for, I think many people would have a gotten a nice view of the girls.) For future summer dress version I will shorten the sleeves.

   Techniques:  Since I did "fit as I sewed" on this linen dress, I went ahead and machined basted the stitches to make sure everything lined up and fit well.  Then I seam ripped the basting stitches and sewed up like normal.  I used my over cast stitch from sewing machine for seams except for the zipper seam........that I used black bias tape and made a Hong Kong seam.  Also, for the hem, I sewed and understitched black bias tape and then hand hemmed the skirt.  Oh, I hand hemmed the sleeves too, along with the lining to the zipper.  With so much fullness, really hand stitching is the best way.   Now I did "cheat" and machine stitch the lining to the waist line.  Yeah, I have hand sewn lining at the waist line before only for them to come undone.  (I am still perfecting my hand stitches). Also, let me mention something about the neck and shoulder pattern pieces.  It is a little odd making the sharp/pivot turn, when you sew them together.  So I highly suggest basting those pieces together before sewing them.  

Silly dance photo

    Overall Thoughts:  This is a great pattern.  I love that the pattern has a vintage and feminine feel, and is so comfortable and easy to wear.  Now I can start sewing up my fall version in a beautiful dark teal faille. Also, I will fully line the fall and summer version.

spike wanted to join in the fun!



Monday, December 22, 2014

Simplicity 1692 in navy silk charmeuse

     Inspiration for sewing something new can come in many shapes and sizes. Way back when, I received a present, a  beautiful pair of earrings ...........however, I really didn't have anything to wear with them until now.   check them out: 

Inspiration: Earrings

    About a year ago, Fabric Mart had a wonderful silk sale and I was awe struck when I saw this beautiful navy silk charmeuse.  Yes, this would be the fabric to sew up Simplicity pattern 1692 and would match my beautiful I ordered 2 1/2 yards.
Sewed View A

      Fabric:  2  1/2 yards from Fabric Mart at $8. a yard.  I hand washed this fabric and then air dried it.  Also, I used matching Gutermann silk thread, about 220 yards. 

       Notions:  Five 1/2" buttons.  I made black bemberg bias tape for the zipper seams and the back placket.  Purchased one pack of single fold bias tape for the hem.  Also, used stay tape for the shoulder seams and zipper seams. I have a set of shoulder pads but I did not sew them in. Oh, a little pellon interfacing for the cuffs.

      Pattern Adjustments:  I did sew up a couple of muslin tests. (However, I did forget to sew up the muslin with the shoulder bad) Adjustments made: shortening the sleeves (typical for me) lengthening the torso about 1 1/2"(typical for me) , upper arm adjustment (typical for me) . Added 1/4" more to the hips.  I wish I had added a little to the back sleeve for a back adjustment, next time. 

      Techniques: Sewed using French seams, Hong Kong seams for zipper side and back placket. Sewed stay tape along shoulder seams and zipper seams.  Sewed bias tape to create a neat narrow hem. 

Bias tape hem, bemberg on zipper seam

     Sewing  Issues:  Charmeuse is very slippery and has a mind of its own.  I had a hard time keeping the tucks lined up vertically, they tended to wander off kilter.  I had to sew the neck binding twice.  The first time the gathers weren't centered, again the fabric moved around. Even now the left shoulder seam pulls forward a little. Otherwise, this is a straight forward pattern and wasn't terribly difficult. 

Finished Blouse S1692

     Overall:  I love this blouse even though there are a couple of small issues.  Silk charmeuse feels so good next to the skin and I love the way it shimmers when the light hits it. 
Blouse with corduroy jeans

Silk glamorous!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

McCalls 6902......Easy but do let me count the errors of my way


    Yes, I have been dreaming of sewing up a fall suit..........specifically a lined jacket, but nothing too fussy with a matching pencil skirt.  I already have a simple skirt pattern altered to fit, so I just needed a jacket pattern.  I was drawn to M6902 as soon as I spotted it because of its simple design and that pretty printed "easy" word.  In my mind I thought I could whip out this jacket in 2 days............ah such dreamer! 

        Easy Pattern M6902:

    First lets start with the fabric: Black and blue checked heavy linen purchased at Hancock fabrics for about $4 a yard.  I purchased 4 yards, enough for a skirt and jacket. Please note:  Even though the pattern calls for a fabric with good drape, I choose this heavy black and blue checker linen; which is a little stiff.  Something about this fabric caught my eye and I decided to go for it.  Maybe it wasn't the best choice. I think a beautiful wool suiting would have been a better choice. Live and learn.

   Lining: black bemberg from JoAnn's.  Yeah, I purchased it with a coupon so I paid something like $4 a yard.  Again, I purchased 4 yards. 

    Piping: purchased 2 packs of Wrights pre-made black piping.  The pattern suggested ribbon which is top-stitched to the pattern; however, I thought piping was a little more high end looking.

   Notions:  In my stash I had the black rose button. Even though the jacket calls for hook and eyes..........I wanted something more glamorous.  Although, I still put in a hook and eye on the inside, for extra holding power. (Should I say suck in power)

Check out my outfit: 
Jacket and matching pencil skirt

   Lets get to the heart of the matter, fitting issues, design changes and the lining.  

   Fitting:  I did make a bodice test muslin for the jacket.  (Actually 3 muslins all total)  My first mistake was not adding the sleeves to any of the muslins.  If I would have added the sleeves, I would have realized I needed a little bit more room in the back area. Second mistake: I should have added a hook and eye at the waist to the muslin so the front of the jacket would close like on the model.   Instead I kept pulling the jacket to get a good bust fit; however, each time I did that I had to increase the FBA.  I ended up increasing the FBA almost 2 inches, but later after the jacket was finished I had to take apart the lining from the jacket and decrease bust area an 1", because it was way to big. Third Mistake:  After adjusting the torso (length and shorten three times) my pattern became skewed and if you notice the closure at the waist is not straight.  Fourth Mistake: Lining the jacket. I should have used the bag method; which I found after the fact.  Instead I followed the instructions and tried to sew the sleeve lining to the sleeve jacket seam; however, I admit I am not good at it. Fifth Mistake: Design change in sleeve cap, I added a pleat.  In my mind I thought it would be a beautiful detail; however, I think it would have looked better if I used a softer drapey fabric.  Sixth Mistake:  Under-stitching the lining to the outer fabric.   Did I miss a step or miss read the instructions?  But how can you underline the jacket if you sewed the lining and jacket together all the way around?  Anyway, I ended up top stitching the jacket to lining once I turned it right side out. Final mistake:  I wish I would have added more fabric to the front center so the V shape wasn't so wide at the top.

                 More images: 

Jumping to stay warm

Cool mural on the side of a bar.

Another mural

Backside showing peplum

      Suggestions:  Keep in mind the jacket closes at the waist.  I highly suggest doing a full test muslin first before cutting into that expensive fabric.  Also, I would like to try this jacket again, but with a new pattern (since my adjusted pattern is a mess) and a drapey fabric.

     P.S. I owe a big thank you to my photographer, who not only got up early on a Sunday morning but also took photos in 35 degree weather.  Awesome! 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Navitat Zipline/ Blue Ridge Experience

    Sometimes you need to get out and enjoy life to know you are still alive.  For a while I have been wanting to fly through the sky on Navitat zip line or take a hot air balloon ride to see the fall "changing of the leaves".  When I presented these two options to Glenn, he immediately ruled out the hot air balloon ride, so it was a matter of "working" on him to go with me on the zip line.  I told him, he would love it.  Although, after he read the disclaimer; which needed to be signed, his hand stopped moving on the computer mouse and I had to click submit for him. So, the disclaimer mentioned something about death, and broken bones, heart attacks...blah, blah, blah.  I told Glenn, " You are more likely to die in a car accident then zip line". Seriously!

      Please note: there are a couple of different zip line options.  We choose the Blue Ridge Experience, because those particular zip lines have a self braking system, the longest zip line in the South East and Glenn said he wanted the least amount of physical activity (less hiking).  The other option is Moody Cove, which includes more hiking, rappelling, and you have to self brake. 

      Some how the universe worked in our favor and gave us a green light.  Yeah, there was snow a couple of days before we were suppose to go, but on our reservation day, the weather turned warm with sunny skies.  How awesome! 

       Once you arrive at Navitat you check in and they weigh you.  Fortunately only the lady behind the desk sees your weight and as long as you weigh under 250 you are good to go.  Next up, the instructors introduce themselves and then you are harnessed up.  Then your group is put in to a van and you are driven up a steep bumpy road to the top of a mountain.  The van ride really was more like a carnival ride with bucket seats.  After enjoying the view at the top of the mountain, you are then led up a narrow path to where you reach the first platform. 

      Check out the instruction photo:  I am in the back looking spastic and Glenn looks concerned.   It is do or die at this point: 

        This is what it looks like while on the zip line:

       This is what it looks like when you leave the platform (looking back): 

     Check out this incredible view:

        Here we are ready for our final run.   At this point we feel like professionals and are a little sad that this is going to be the last run. 

  If ya'll get a chance to  visit Asheville, definitely check out the Navitat zip is so worth the effort and cost. Also, I should mention the instructors were hilarious, and professional.

Monday, October 13, 2014

White Clipped Silk Cotton Voile in McCalls 6650

  Silk Cotton Voile is a dream to cut and sew............and is at the top of my list for most favorite fabrics.  It presses beautifully and feels great next to the skin.   In addition, I feel for clothing it is very "office" friendly.  

    Recently, I completed (another) McCalls 6650 using a white clipped and light blue teal silk cotton voile.  Then using Butterick 4989, I  sewed up a matching blue batiste camisole to wear underneath, and to complete the look I sewed up a winter white worsted wool pencil skirt underlined with Bemberg lining.   Check out my latest fall or spring look: 
Pretty blouse and comfy skirt

 Blouse fabric:  silk cotton voile, purchased earlier this year at Mary Jo's in Gastonia, NC.  Purchased 2 yards at $24 per yard or something like that. 
 Camisole fabric: batiste, purchased a yard around $3.00 on sale at Mary Jo's.  
Pencil skirt fabric:  St. John's worsted wool, purchased one yard at $34. Purchased from House of Fabrics in Asheville.  2 yards of a cream Bemberg lining purchased at Jo Ann fabrics for about $4.50 a yard.  I used a 50% off coupon, otherwise it would be like $8.99 a yard. Fortunately I didn't have to order via internet, and my local Jo Ann fabrics keeps black and cream in stock!

Changes I made to sew up blouse:  I used a clear snap in the back of the blouse instead of a hook and eye.  In addition, I hand sewed in silk organza for an interfacing. Sewed using French Seams, and used bias tape on the hem to make a neat finish.
bias tape for hem...makes a neat finish on the inside 

Time frame:  It took me a couple of days to sew, but could have been sewed in a day once the pattern was adjusted. 

Camisole:  no changes made to the pattern. It only took a couple of hours to sew up. (yah)
matching camisole using pattern Butterick 4989

Winter White skirt:  I have a "go to" pencil skirt pattern.  I did make the skirt an 1" longer then my standard.  Also, for a closure,  I sewed two loops into the waist facing which goes around two beautiful buttons, above the zipper. Also, I underlined the wool with Bemberg lining.  Hong Kong seams, and for hem I sewed bias tape around rough edges then turned up and used a catch stitch. 
This skirt took about three days to sew up.......of course I made sure to hang up my skirt before hemming. 

button loop closures instead of hook and eye

Catch Stitch for hem, Hong Kong Seams

I like rainy days

Next up: a heavy navy and black checked linen suit lined with black Bemberg lining............but you know I will go back to McCalls 6650 but sew up a different view.  I love this blouse pattern!


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

McCall's 6650/ View C easy work blouse

    This (wearable muslin) blouse has been waiting on me to get photographed for a second try.  Yes, the first photos were awful so I retook them and all in all I think the photos came out well.  Check it out:
Check out that breeze action!

    Even though I did a test run with some scrap fabrics, I wanted to make sure I got the proper fit before cutting into my (real fabric) a sheer silk cotton clipped voile.  Yeah, a few months back my Mom and I went to MaryJo's in Gastonia, NC and I purchased this gorgeous fabric there. Check out the fabric: 

Love this fabric 
       Wearable Muslin Fabric:  an "everyday deal" poly charmeuse  fabric from Hancock fabrics. I think I paid something like $3 a yard.  The blouse took 2 yards. As a side note: I must mention that due to the lack of quality in the fabric, it frayed faster then I could sew up.  Also, it was super slippery and went off the grain a little bit.  I really should have mirrored the front and back panel patterns, so I wouldn't have to cut it on the fold.  Oh well, live and learn.

trying to show slit in skirt

     Techniques:  I sewed up using French Seams.  Also, I did use bias tape for the hem to give a clean neat finish.  Check it out: 

bias hem for a neat finish 

     Sewing Issues:  I was a little confused at first by the placket but after making the first test run with scrap fabric, I felt comfortable sewing it up again. Also, the shoulders were a little large and had to be cut down. I did find the waist was way too large and tapered down 2 sizes smaller, creating more of an hour glass shape instead of the boxy shape of the pattern.  Of course, I did have to make an upper arm adjustment; which I thought was weird because the rest of the pattern was so large.  Also, I shortened the sleeves by an 1" too.   Normally I have to lengthen the torso, but not in this case.  

     Time:  A few days to sew up once I adjusted the pattern pieces. 

     Over all View C is easy to sew up once you get the fit you want.  

     Lastly, I sewed up Simplicity 5259 (skirt) in a black cotton twill.  I underlined the skirt with black bemberg.  Yeah, I hand basted the rayon to the twill, then sewed up following directions.  Changes: I added a silver exposed zipper and made a high waisted facing.   Purchased bias tape for the Hong Kong seams.  I love the front slit on this skirt.........and the cotton twill is very comfortable.  

      Fabric: cotton twill and for underlining Black Bemberg

inside zipper and finished seams

      Techniques: Hong Kong seams.   Hand basted lining to cotton twill then sewed up normally. Exposed silver zipper. 

       Time: A few days.  Pretty easy once I got the correct fit with the changes I made to the original pattern.  

Finished outfit

    I have already started to sew up the silk cotton voile blouse and am looking forward to wearing it............and showing it off!

Happy sewing.