I have little time, but loads of inspiration!

Well, the new position, along with preparing for hurricanes, means I have had little time for sewing regularly or for any extended periods of time.  I have had the week off because of Dorian, but so has the kiddo.  Still, I began to think about the next few dozen projects.

No really.  When I have no time to sew, I plan.  Here’s a snapshot of some of the projects I’m working on, or hope to complete:

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The good news, some are already in progress.

  1. Vogue 1526, Paco Peralta short-sleeved jacket and pant (I made the shirt some time ago).  This is almost finished, as in hopefully this week.  Details coming up.
  2. The Kay Unger color block is up next, as an easy-do-right-now-option.  I’ll be doing it in black and white rayon ponte leftover from other projects.
  3. To the left of Kay Unger is a Molyneux vintage dress. I’ll be doing this in a gorgeous black/silver bamboo woven.  The pattern is vintage – and too small  – so a little pattern grading is in order.
  4. The Kwik Sew men’s coat is cut out.  I promised it two years ago to DH.  I’ve got to take the time to finish it.
  5. The Patterson Couturier will be in a a gorgeous plaid.
  6. The Guy Laroche suit (top left) is cut out and about half done.  I started it last spring, but it won’t be cold enough to wear it for several weeks.
  7. The Butterick summer dress in a Tori Richards rayon challis print for a Luau in October.
  8. The Paco Peralta zip front in a burgundy denim.
  9. The remaining three (bottom left):  Montana, LaRoche and Edith Head – I don’t have the right fabric for these yet.  And, I have many other patterns paired with projects I can work on until I do…

And, my plans usually get upended. I know there are another half dozen projects awaiting my attention, some cut, some long-desired. And I need a coat.  Hopefully, I get the first four on my list completed without deviating. After that, who knows.

And, no, we aren’t in any danger from Hurricane Dorian, though last week we were prepping in earnest!

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Traveling the west, enjoying the scenery

This is a creative blog, even if I rarely post much beyond sewing.  However, I just returned from a month-long road trip with DH, the 8yo, and the dog.  It was something I would do with my family growing up, though then we usually camped.  Here are some of my pictures (no more than one per location) from the trip.  Where did we go?  The western United States (not the mid, nor the far, but the mountain west).  All pictures taken with an iPhone 10.

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I took this from a moving car, along I-10, in the Florida panhandle.  It’s not the most picturesque of photos, but shows the power of nature.  This is roughly 30 miles from the coast, and shows the destructive power of Hurricane Matthew.  Nearly one year later, they are still making repairs to the infrastructure.  The picture does not convey the devastation – miles upon miles.

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We were playing a guessing game with friends on Facebook – where are we?  Santa Fe, New Mexico.  This is East Palace Avenue, just off the Plaza, and is filled with unique shops and restaurants. It’s also where one of the secret offices for the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos.  Buildings on this street date (originally, I don’t think any of these are that old) to 1692.  The buildings today, mixing architectural styles, are uneven, sloping, and beautiful with amazing interior courtyards (especially Sena Plaza). We’ve been to Santa Fe so many times, we mainly went to eat, drink and buy art.

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The pueblo remains at Bandelier National Monument outside Los Alamos, NM.  The ancestral Pueblo Indians lived here around 1150 CE to 1550 CE.  They carved homes into the volcanic tuff – cliff homes.  This picture is of Tyuonyi which was once two stories tall with over 400 rooms. It was mainly used for storing food.

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Okay.  There is just no way to show the majesty of Great Sand Dunes National Park, in southern Colorado.  I can’t do it!  Just go. We’ve been 4 times now.  This year, we climbed to the top of the first ridge.  When the 8yo was only one, we tried climbing with him on my back.  I didn’t make it, and I was in better shape then.  We made it this time, and the views are glorious, but I couldn’t capture it. These are the tallest sand dunes in North America, and cover 30 sq miles.  Medano Creek (foreground) is usually dry this time of year, but was still running from heavy winter snows.

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Jewel Cave (original cave) National Monument, South Dakota.  I couldn’t get any good pictures inside the cave.  We opted for the lantern tour of the original entrance to the cave.  Everyone carried an old fashioned oil lantern for lighting to experience the cave (mostly) in a vintage way.  It was loads of fun, but I didn’t manage any good photos.  This isn’t the cave itself, but a shelter cave on the nearby Hell Canyon hike.

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Badlands National Park in South Dakota is another one of those impossible to capture locations – at least not in one photo. And the park changes depending on where you are.  This is on a “non-trail” off shoot of the Notch Trail.  This park offers views of prairie, eroded buttes, bison, prairie dogs, fossils and more.

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Close Encounters?  Nah, just Devil’s Tower National Monument in Wyoming.  It’s a sacred place to the Native Americans there, but an American mistranslated the name and it stuck. It’s really a variation on Bear’s Lodge.  This is really an impressive work of natural art.  It’s far larger than you would think!

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We were huge fans of HBO’s series, Deadwood, so a stop in the town of Deadwood, SD, was in order.  A whole lot of casinos.  We didn’t like the movie finale. We learned the entire town burned down in 1879, and most of the residents left.  We thought that would be a better ending – everyone watching the fire, and saying, “Well, time to make a fresh start elsewhere.”

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We made the obligatory stop at Mount Rushmore National Memorial.  We didn’t stay long.  The work is impressive, of course, but we had seen so much natural beauty that it paled in comparison.  We visited at 730am, and missed the crowds (but the sun really washes out Thomas Jefferson).

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We discovered Custer State Park (South Dakota) too late to really explore it.  Amazing park, with so much to do.  See those crevices at the end of the lake? There is a hiking trail that snakes between two of the rocks, and down a gulch.  Strenuous, but awesome.

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The “jail” at Fort Laramie National Historic Site in Wyoming.  Fort Laramie played an important role in the westward expansion of America via the Oregon Trail.  Treaties with Native Americans, later ignored/violated by the Americans, were also established here. The fort was originally established by two French fur traders (one named La Ramee).  The transcontinental railroad, and the end of the Great Sioux Wars, brought an end to the fort.  It was closed, and the remaining administrative duties were moved to Fort Robinson, in nearby Nebraska.

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We did more, and saw more, and spent time with family as well.  On the way home, we stopped for the night in Saint Louis, to see Gateway Arch National Park.  It was way more beautiful than I expected – I walked the dog around it at sunrise and sunset and saw it in many different lights.

Well, the new job essentially started today.  Not sure when I will sew, but I hope to.  I need to finish some work tonight, and turn in.

Alice & Olivia in Silk Georgette (Vogue 1245)

I celebrated every success with this top! My “sewcation” is over and I have two things left to blog – this blouse being one of them. Both items are redos of earlier failures.

Back in early 2018, I wrote about my attempt with two soft silks. In late June, I decided I wanted to finish a UFO- this time the teal silk georgette off the shoulder blouse from Alice & Olivia. The version I had started was wonky and stretched out. I thought I had enough fabric leftover, but I was a bit short. After a couple of hours, the teal was in the trash.

But some how, I got it in my head that I really wanted this blouse. I didn’t want to order new fabric; after a search through my stash, I found this stunning silk georgette in royal blue from Gorgeous Fabrics. I think I purchased it in 2016, but it wasn’t in my spreadsheet. A single layer layout later I was ready to start.

I noticed a difference immediately between this fabric and the teal (from a discount retailer). It felt more luxurious. It didn’t shed when I cut into it.

Still, I didn’t want to ruin the fabric so I researched the options for stabilizing the fabric. I finally settled on spray starch (I did each edge right before sewing). I tested before to see what would happen- staining while working with it, but not permanent as it washed out in cold water.

I still got a little rippling and distortion, it mostly pressed out. I did have some issues with very thick french seams under the arms and keeping the edge stitching even at the top. But in general, stabilization meant this was an easy and fast make.

I love it! And it has received compliments. I have paired it here with the pattern runway white shorts.

Summer time! (New Look 6483; Marfy 1913; Pattern Runway Sweet Scalloped Shorts)

Whew, long title.  I almost didn’t blog these four interchangeable items, but I love how the Marfy top and white shorts came out.  I had to share.  These two outfits make use of old fabrics (the tops) and new (the shorts).  And I now own three pairs of non-running shorts (all Pattern Runway). (Everything was worn and washed a few times before picture time, my pressing needs some work!)

Top: New Look 6483 View C

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I need more tops in my wardrobe, so one day while browsing at JoAnns, I picked up this New Look pattern.  It’s pretty basic, and pretty easy.  I meant to make view E, but cut out C by mistake.  The fabric is a leftover linen print (Marcy Tilton) from when I made this summer dress a couple of years ago.  When I was cleaning out my fabric closet, I found I had one more yard.  The fabric has a bit of body, but works with this loose-fitting top.

I had no problems with the instructions, and I will repeat this basic, but with modifications.  First, the neckline is higher than I expected, but you don’t need the button/loop closure (or hook/eye) in the back, at least for views C, D, and E.  Second, I don’t really find the straight hemline with split side seams a flattering look for me, so I may convert the hem to a curved shirt-tail hem next time.  Third, I suspect the boxy look will be more body conscious with a drapey fabric (recommended on the envelop).

Top: Marfy 1913 Repeat

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Marfy 1913, from the website.

I loved the Marfy top the first time I made it – but I didn’t wear it often because it felt small.  I must have washed it and shrunk it.  When I compared it to the pattern pieces to make this one, it was much smaller than the pieces!

This time, though, I did add some width.  Unconventionally, I added width at the center front and center back at the fold line (shifted the pattern off the fold by 1/4 inch). I also added two inches to the length.  Once again, I didn’t gather the hemline with elastic, but left it to tuck in to shorts/pants/skirt.

The fabric is a silk cotton voile from Milly that I purchased in 2014 from Gorgeous Fabrics. It was softer and more sheer than I wanted for the original project, so was stashed.  It was still sheer and soft, of course, so I decided to line the top with an off white silk crepe de chine.  This made finishing the keyhole/slit opening in the back as well as the armholes far simpler.  I LOVE THIS TOP!  It’s pretty on, cheerful in the very, very, hot sun.  It even held up to a complete drenching when I was caught in a downpour at my son’s outdoor swim practice last week.

It looks way better on me than in these photos (but too lazy to do even a bathroom selfie):

Shorts:  Pattern Runway Sweet Scalloped Shorts Repeat

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I loved the first version of these (and still wear them). I’ve been meaning to make another pair for some time.  I made two pair.  I really love the very clear instructions, and I like the use of differing seam allowances (1/4 inch and 3/8ths inch) to eliminate trimming (which I rarely do evenly). I made a size medium (I wear 14 in big four, often larger).  I also love the flattering lines and good fit.

I didn’t do the welt pockets.  I started with the navy shorts, intending to do the welt pockets, but the fabric had too much stretch and all my stitching lines for the welts were warped and wavy (even with interfacing).  I wanted to get these done, so I carefully picked out the work and moved on.

The navy shorts are a cotton twill from Fabric Mart fabrics.  The fabric was super inexpensive, with more lycra than I would like.  I struggled at times to manage the stretch.  The fabric is what it is, and makes a fine pair of shorts.  And yes, it looks like I need to press them again (ditto for the white).

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The white shorts are amazing!  This “pique texture” white cotton from Gorgeous Fabrics was perfect for this pattern.  (I bought it early June, so I think there is still some left).  I love the Milly/Marfy top with the white shorts!  So summer!

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Turmeric and Black (Vogue 8882 & 1620)

I joined two trends that I’ve seen over past year in this skirt/top combination.  First, I chose a mustard color for the skirt.  Second, I made the skirt in a hi-lo style.  Since I jumped onto both trends, you can rest assured both will be out of fashion soon, if they aren’t already.

Originally, I purchased the “turmeric” linen/rayon blend from Marcy Tilton to make McCall’s 7745, view A:

But multiple attempts to fit the bodice in a muslin failed.   From what I’ve read on the web, this view (but not the others), has some real problems.  For me, the sleeves were too small, with no ease and no room for natural movement (among other things).  I abandoned the project.  (I do think this view would work in a stretchy knit, and those that looked best were, in fact, sewn with knits.)

I got it in  my head that I wanted the high/low skirt, and just needed to pair it with a top. Thus, Vogue 8882 (view E, c2013) and Vogue 1620 view B, c2019).

The top:

I think this top was an afterthought for Vogue to include in the Tom and Linda Platt coordinates (Vogue 1620).  The description:  “Loose fitting top has front slit and back neck opening with hook and eye, neck and armhole binding and top-stitching detail.”  The fabrics are not broken down between the suit and the blouse, with the following suggested for both: “crepe, jersey, satin back crepe.”  Hmmm.

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I chose a cotton silk blend woven I purchased way back in 2013 from Gorgeous Fabrics.  It has a satin weave, so mimics a charmeuse, but with more body and easier handling.  The blouse it self it very simple, but consider your fabric choice.  I think I made a good choice, but having made this, I would do the following differently.

  1. Skip the top stitching.    It’s done to finish the seams on the inside and along the front and back slits.  But with this fabric, and probably any other drapey fabric, it doesn’t work.  In fact, I should have loosened my tension even more, since I got puckers!  I did the edge stitching on the front and back first, then the top stitched the back.  I didn’t like it, but couldn’t remove it without damage.  I only did the top stitching around the opening in the front as a result.
  2. Consider narrow facing around the arm holes for a cleaner look.  And the way they ask you to do the binding doesn’t really work.  You wrap the binding around the 3/8 inch seam allowance remaining, but the strips for the binding aren’t wide enough (I trimmed to 1/4 inch seam allowances to compensate.)
  3. Interface or reinforce the strip of binding in the front that attaches the left and right bodice.  It’s cut on the bias, which means it will continue to stretch…

 

Otherwise, I like the blouse.  I may make another one in the future, with these thoughts in mind.

The skirt:

There is absolutely  nothing complicated about this skirt (view E, V8882).  However, if Vogue is going to give me fabric allowances and layouts that are single layer, then please give me both pieces/ halves, especially when they are really large.

The only recommendation I would make about this skirt is that perhaps an inside button is needed at the waist closure:

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A note about the fabric:  it’s a viscose/linen blend (65% viscose).  Marcy Tilton bills it as having the drapey-ness of viscose, with the structure of linen, and less wrinkling.  I bought it for the drape, color, and tightness of weave (very nice piece of fabric).  But it wrinkles like it’s 100% linen.

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Beach/Pool Cover-up: New Look 6575

My fifth summer in Florida, with the beach close by and a pool in the yard, but I’m only just now getting around to making a beach cover-up.  This is in part due to my indecision on what I wanted.  Finally, I have something, and I’m quite pleased with the result.

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I chose New Look 6575 and modified it.  This 2018 Simplicity group release has no description, but the lines looked workable for me.  I originally bought it to make a tunic, but was worried about the low neckline. I made the medium since I definitely wanted a loose look.

It recommended challis, chambray, cotton lawn, double georgette, gauze, soft linen and silk types.  I chose a very inexpensive rayon challis I purchased from Fabric Mart.  It’s very shifty, and printed off grain, so I didn’t use it for the project originally intended. I figured it wouldn’t matter as much here, though I wasn’t able to match the pattern very well.

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I added trim:  a beautiful embroidered cotton lace from Joyce Trimming.  I ordered two widths and hand-stitched them together to create the width I needed.  I ordered 4 yards and used all but a couple of inches!!!  (And the cut was generous.)  I replaced the front band on view B, and added the lace to the completed sleeve and shirt hems.  Adding the lace effectively lengthened the cover-up to just above the knee.  It adds a bit of modesty, without making it too boring.

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The directions for this were fine, though I deviated at several points. To add the lace to the front, I sewed a 5/8ths narrow hem to the front (stay stitch first!).  I then stitched the lace to the front pieces.  I added the fabric band to the back neck, then stitched the shoulder/upper sleeve seams.  Then I applied the facing for the back band.

The other change was to the casing.  I  stitched the “waist” with the 3/4 seam as requested, but rather than the convoluted method they suggested, I serged the seam together, pressed down. Finally, I top stitched 1/2 inch away from the waist seam to create the casing.

I was right! This is very low cut – below the point of the bra.  Perfect for a swim cover-up, less so for everyday wear.  I was surprised at how flattering something that low cut could be on me though.  And I love the finished product.

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Channeling Roman Holiday: M7906 & NL6407

I’ve been sewing – a lot.  I have multiple projects nearly done, and several more on the horizon.  I’ve been making up for lost time.  And I’m not very interested in stopping to blog about it.  But, none-the-less, here we are.  This was the outfit that got me to spontaneously buy a new (but still basic) sewing machine.  It also strongly reminds of me of ingenue Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday.

Having thin, attractive models sells patterns!  And this is true of the very popular McCalls 7906.  I made the view the model is wearing, but I’m heavier – and so was my fabric choice, a stretch cotton sateen.  I knew I needed some new white shirts/blouses, so I paired it with New Look  6407, view E, in white silk faille.  Both fabrics are from Gorgeous Fabrics.

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McCall’s 7906:  midi button front skirt: There’s not much to say about this pattern – it’s very simple to construct.  The instructions are good and the style is very popular right now.  It is roomy, comfortable, with pockets.  I’d say there are really only three challenges to this pattern, easily surmountable.

First:  make sure you measure and mark your pleats carefully.  This will just make it look nicer.  They are stitched flat for the top 3.25 inches.  It’s a very sharp look.  Second:  the carriers.  I’ve never done them before, so this was new to me.  I’d say I was only semi-successful in doing them well. More practice.  Third: buttonholes.  Okay, this isn’t really a challenge, but my machine is a 4-step buttonhole, and it doesn’t like to go backwards.  They always turn out hideous.  No exception here. What’s the point of perfect, precision stitching only to be marred by ugly buttonholes?  After this, I bought a new machine, one that does automatic buttonholes in several styles.

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Bathroom selfie, with a RTW blouse.
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Back view, with RTW blouse.

The fabric is a stretch cotton sateen, so it’s actually a little loose on me, but super comfortable to wear (I cut a size 14).  I like the skirt, but I see it as more of a running errands skirt than a work skirt, at least in this configuration. Or, wear to work on casual days.

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Ugly buttonhole.

New Look 6407:  view E, short sleeve fitted shirt with banded collar: I love this shirt.  I don’t like the fit.  I’m making it again, in the same fabric, if I can get it.  This was made on the new machine, and wow, wow, wow.  It has speed control, which means I made fewer mistakes, and was far more precise in my stitching!

I’d never worked with silk faille before, and it’s difficult to press. Think of it like a good wool suiting and use a clapper.  I didn’t here.

Again, I’m really happy with the construction – I like my own work (if not my pressing).  How did I miss the fit so badly?  I tissue fit – and it suggested that I should make a 12, grading out to a 14.  No issues with torso length, which I usually have.  Tissue fitting also didn’t indicate an issue with the bust darts.  But this is a fitted style, and I should have done a 14, easing to 16 (sigh), especially with silk faille, which doesn’t like stress on the seams.

The bust darts are way too low.  I’d say this was an issue for me, but you can see it on the dress form too.  I like this pattern and style enough to play with it in the muslin a bit before remaking it.  So, as much as I love the shirt, it’s not flattering to have pulling at the waist, and excess fabric under the bust.  I’ll donate this version.

And the button holes?   OMG, they were so much easier.  The right size, perfectly shaped, rounded button holes.  Evenly dense throughout.

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The skirt needs pressing.  I wore it to Tampa last week, and it got crushed in the car.  I only gave it a cursory pressing for pictures.

I bought a Janome again, this time the JW8100. It’s a beginner’s computerized machine.  It has definite flaws, but I’m going to sew on it for a month before giving you the pros and cons of this machine.