She Didn’t Let Me Down

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Thanks to all the military relatives and friends who have sacrificed so much for us in America. We can enjoy cookouts, water parks, watching old movies, going to the fro-yo place this four-day weekend, thanks to them. My heart goes out to the people in other countries right now who are dealing with misery and want.

My parents were both in the Army, and my grandfather and brother were in the Navy. One of my sons went into the Army, and has served in Korea, Afghanistan and Iraq. I’m grateful for the mindfulness of the military those associations have brought me. I seem to be enjoying a prosperous time right now, but I don’t want to forget the wars waged, the losses, the changes.

This weekend, Ancestry.com is offering free access if you want to search their military records for records of your ancestors. And if you haven’t set up a pedigree chart so far, you can do so with a free account on familysearch.org. Family Search is getting better and more public records are added all the time. I promise you, researching your ancestors is a fun and addictive hobby!

I decided to do a little sewing, and chose this Burdastyle wrap dress from their March 2015 UK issue.

wrap dress

Cotton sateen wrap dress from Burdastyle March 2015

The level of difficulty was greater than what I’ve been used to, but I tried to rise to the occasion! First, I had to trace the pattern, and it had all sorts of weird pieces. Waistband pieces, facings, slashes, pleats. Interfacing. For notions, I needed 2 snaps and a button. I looked all over and finally found exactly 2 large-enough snaps in the zipper drawer.

snaps

two snaps left in the stash

Would you believe this pack of snaps went for 50 cents? Once again, my grandmother didn’t let me down. She has been gone since 1995, but I am still benefitting from the thrifty cache of notions and sewing paraphernalia in her old teak sewing desk.

Have a great weekend!

Cabin Fever Remnant Project Lineup

“And on the seventh day…”

It’s the seventh day since I broke my foot, and have had to keep it elevated, and will continue until I go to the orthopedist a few more days from now.

The first couple of days I had more energy and a more hopeful outlook. Both energy and attitude have been steadily going downhill. But I don’t want to be negative. In fact, there are several bright facets to that diamond of derring-do, the clumsy trick that landed me here in cabin-feverama.

1) I have more time to read, watch TV, watch Craftsy class lessons, and delete extraneous stuff off my computer that is prompting iCloud to try and get me to buy more storage.
2) Mostly everywhere I go in the house has something nearby that can be converted to a foot-prop. Therefore, I can still serve as a tech-support person, sew, knit, Internet surf.
3) DH rented me a wheelchair so I can get around with greater ease, and crutches for the places that the wheelchair won’t go.

Since becoming bored out of my skull, I decided to do a little work on my wardrobe. This guy, #Adamsays, “I think, no matter what your age is, a pencil skirt is the most flattering skirt out there.”

I like the pencil skirt. I wanted to try out this pattern, especially since the skirt only takes 1 yard no matter what size, and see if it works with some choice remnants in the stash.

Simplicity pattern

Threads Pattern for skirt, top, pants

I chose a 1-yard piece of charcoal Ponte Roma for skirt #1, which normally sells for $12.99 per yard. Ponte Roma is a soft, luxe, drapey knit (in this case anyway). For possible tops, I have an almost 3/4 yard remnant of gray reversible knit that I think will fit the bill for this April 2015 Burdastyle Super Easy vest (normally $16.99 per yard).

April 2015 Burdastyle

BurdaStyle ridiculously easy clothes patterns

Then there’s a .83 of a yard piece of gray, aqua and peach/pink Hacci sweater knit, 57″ wide, that looks like it will make an awesome spring top. And a yard of blush-pink open-work Leno t-shirt knit for a tunic. I’ve seen lots of combinations of gray and blush-pink, and it’s savory together. Hacci knit, normal price is $12.99 per yard. Leno knit piece, normally $9.99 per yard. Of course, sold as remnants, all these cha-ching’d up at half the prices quoted herein.

Having had success with the first pencil skirt, why not another one in black? Not just ordinary black, but a glossy, Sleek Foil Denim Knit that looks a bit like shiny leather? Normally $24.99 per yard, it’s 55″ wide, so a .945 yard remnant actually provided a whole skirt. And to go with it, a top out of animal print sweater knit with a black foil collar. True, the collar piece is supposed to be cut on the bias, however, the fabric stretches in all directions, so this little neckline piece was cut from a scrap of the skirt fabric, on the straight grain. This animal print sweater-knit piece is older and I’ve lost the price tag, so we’ll just presume it is the same price as the Hacci, $12.99 per yard.

Remnant fabrics for 2 skirts, 3 tops and a vest: a little less than $40 (half of what it would be if bought off the bolt). Simplicity pattern: on sale for $1.99 (retail price $18.95). Cost of Burdastyle April issue £4.99 plus postage. Various notions: 2 zippers, thread, single-fold bias tape from stash. Estimated gasoline savings due to not being able to go anywhere because of broken foot: $15.

black pencil skirt

black pencil skirt

gray pencil skirt

charcoal Ponte Roma pencil skirt

reversible vest

reversible vest (Burda calls it a waistcoat)

Hacci sweater knit top

Hacci sweater knit top

Simplicity top

animal print sweater knit top with pleather collar

Leno weave top

Leno weave tunic top

First top was the animal print sweater knit, view C from the Simplicity pattern. Next was the Hacci sweater knit, a combination of views A and C. It has a stand-up collar and the back hem is a little longer than the front hem. I presumed for value’s sake that the two knits were similar. In the midst of sewing, they were not much alike at all. The animal print knit, although soft and light, had a much firmer texture than the Hacci. The Hacci sweater knit frayed at the ends, and while sewing the very first seam, the knit fabric bunched up under the needle and needed emergency extrication by prying up the throat plate and pushing the birds nest up through the needle hole with a screw driver blade. After that, I applied SewKeysE knit bias tape to just about every seam. Stretch needle used for all these knits. Maybe when I get a little more mobile, I can add some P.S. pictures of me wearing them…

Summer Clothes, one from a Remnant

Subtitled: More clothes I’ve Made for Myself that I Wouldn’t Be Caught Dead Wearing…

🙂 Confession: I’m not the greatest seamstress in the world. One reason why is that I don’t get enough practice. And I’m very dyslexic when it comes to reading pattern instructions. I can read a line of instructions over and over again, and still not get it. I can grasp the idea if I have a picture to look at. Some patterns leave a lot out, either in the picture or the text. Perhaps early Alzheimers? No, I’ve always had this problem with sewing…

Maybe this goes back to my traumatic years as a junior-high home ec student. I think our teacher, poor Miz Thomas, retired or went into the nursing home after our class graduated. She certainly had a nervous tic and gritted her teeth all the time when we were on deck. But that wasn’t solely our fault; her daughter, Lucretia (I’m not making this up) was getting married and so she wanted us to go through all the trousseau-building exercises a debutante could possibly undertake in the late sixties/early seventies, along with dear sweet Lucretia, and to do it all up in style. We had to choose ourselves a silver, china, and crystal pattern for our own virtual registry. Miz Thomas did not like that I chose black crystal goblets from the Lenox catalog. From then on, she saw me as The Devil. The A-line skirt I made in class (well, to be honest, my mom finished it because I was totally inept) was one of the best articles of clothing I’ve ever owned. I chose the color (fire-engine red) and the fabric (a bottom-weight cotton blend that maybe had to be ironed a little?) and it fit me perfectly. Thus began my career of thinking up great things to sew. But unfortunately, my best-laid plans often (always?) fell short of perfection. Sigh.

Here is the remnant that started the Summer 2014 sewing binge:

denim remnant

stretch denim remnant

It’s a 2-yard, 60-inch-wide piece of stretch denim I got at a yard sale YEARS ago that was held in a retirees mobile home park. Retiree=hence, the very organized packaging in a labeled zip-lock bag. I needed to use stretch denim for this project, #113 trousers from Burda Spring 2014 magazine.
Burda trousers

Burda 113 Trousers

I finished them pretty quick, and they turned out fantastic except…they don’t fit me in the waist. I don’t know if I misinterpreted the sizing, if I gained way, way too much weight on my recent road trip, or if I neglected to add seam allowance (I thought it was supposed to be included in Burda’s printed patterns?)
trousers

Burda trousers

This is the blouse, or rather tunic (because it’s longer) I chose to make to match the remnant trousers. I bought the fabric at Joann’s (not a remnant) thinking I wanted some more feminine casual wear, rather than my usual sweat-hoggian t-shirts and cargo-shorts. The pattern is view A of Simplicity 2254.

tunic

Simplicity tunic

This also didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped. 😥 For the hem, I used my Blind Hem Foot. The results are less than perfect but with the busyness of the fabric pattern, you don’t see the blips too much.

And then there was this other outfit, also bought the fabric at Joann’s, a beautiful peach stretch cotton sateen for the pants, Burda 144 trousers, and a stretchy knit jersey coordinating print for the top, Very Easy Vogue V8534.

top & trousers

top & trousers

These pants fit very well, anyway. Stretchy, great length, taper in the legs, pretty color. Not sure about the top; it fits well but it makes me look like Shamu…I do have a back-up semi-sweat-hoggian tee-shirt that will also serve…

I snapped this of a woman passing by in Charleston when we were there…nice to see women in lovely summer dresses at work, out to lunch, walking around town…so feminine, so “Southern Living”…but for me to wear a dress somewhere casual other than church, doubtful!

Charleston

fleeting glimpse of Charleston woman passing by

OK, so I fixed the waistline: there were 4 rather large darts, so I re-made them each a bit smaller and added a piece of denim to the waistband, making it a few inches wider. The piping is a day-glo orange, I guess it looks white with the flash.

Burda trousers

finished trousers with piping

Fun Burda Top!

This week’s remnant project features 2 remnant size lengths of a finely woven cotton/poly knit jersey in chocolate brown. I haven’t ventured into sewing knits much because I’ve never had success with them, until very recently. That’s when I began to employ such modern details as using designated “stretch” needles, special stitches on the machine, specific interfacings and seam bindings, etc.

These have been in the stash for years.

The inspiration for this project came when I got my first issue of Burda Plus Fashion, the Spring/Summer 2011 edition, in the mail a few weeks ago.

You can find Burda patterns at JoAnn’s or at online fabric stores, but the magazine, people write authoritatively, carries the true up-to-date source of what women in Europe are wearing now.  Oooh! Ooooh! I want to see what women in Europe are wearing now! The main publication, BurdaStyle, can be purchased at a subscription price of $90. Ouch! Worth it if you do a lot of fashion sewing, because it carries loads of patterns in every issue (loads more than I would make, also.) I bought this one-time issue of Burda Plus on Amazon, because according to Burda, some of my measurements fall into their plus-size category, which corresponds roughly to our RTW sizes around 12 to 20.

I am happy with being in the plus-size category because the pattern selections are somewhat modest compared to the regular BurdaStyle fashions. And, while you’re working up your pattern, you can of course adjust it to any cutting line you wish, even add some that aren’t there. You do have to add a seam (5/8″) and hem (1 1/2″ or whatever) allowance to these patterns, because they come to you mostly without.

The pattern sheet that comes with the magazine

You must take the pattern sheet out of the center of the magazine, find the pattern for your selected project, and trace it onto your own pattern medium (I use pattern-ease). If this looks like insanity to you, then I suggest you go to the store and buy a pattern in an envelope. But if you like doing impossible-looking things that cause you a lot of stress and work and obsessing (which you must or you’d be instead out buying clothes off the rack and not reading a sewing blog, right?) then proceed! This pattern is rated “A little sewing experience and/or time needed” which is half a mark below “General sewing knowledge required!”  It has a gathered front center seam, elastic-casing short sleeves, a low V-neck with a top-stitched neck facing.

Inner and outer sleeves, from patterns I traced

The notions include Vilene Bias Tape/Stay Tape.  Curious, I looked everywhere for it, and finally ended up buying it from Sew Essentials Ltd in Walsall, UK.  I bought 4 meters in black, which seemed like a lot, but when it came in the mail, it was only this much:

Vilene Iron-on Bias Tape

This bias tape [that you iron onto the places you will sew an important seam that you don’t want to stretch] has a chain-stitch along the center, for you to line up your seam stitching. I put it on the shoulder seams specifically, but several of the Burda patterns call for it. Having never seen it, I HAD to find out what it was all about. Considering that the shipping for this and the few other items I purchased, was $7, I figure I can get by using twill tape for the next similar task. It really is light-weight and the adhesive is very light but I was able to iron it on with no problems, unlike the Steam-a-Seam II. Why don’t we have Vilene in the US?

The other thing that Burda (and other patterns) want you to do with knits, is to finish the hems by stitching them from the top side with a double needle. I have tried this many times using different size needles, different threads and settings, and consultations with the staff at A-1 Sewing,  and I always end up like this:

horribly bent and disfigured double needle

So, I guess I’m more prone to just single stitching, although I did use the flatlocking stitch on my machine for the lower hem. I was happy with it, but I think a single row of stitching on the neck and sleeve hems is fine for me. The finished top has a  luxurious soft, clingy feel to it; it weighs 6.5 oz, compared to an Old Navy t-shirt that weighs 5.2 oz.  I have no doubt I will make this top again, maybe with a higher neck so I won’t have to wear a dickey under it.

#420 Top from BurdaPlus spring/summer

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