Monday, March 14, 2016

Sonya's Blouse Photos

As promised, some photos of my two versions of Sonya's Blouse from Silhouette Patterns. I cut size 7W for the first version, it fit everywhere quite well, except that the neckline didn't look like the pattern.  So in version #2, I cut a smaller size in the neck and shoulders, then back to the original size everywhere else. This opens up the neckline so that it looks more like the pattern photo.

This pattern is going into the tried-and-true box.

Version #1 in a lovely cotton shirting from BlackBird Fabrics

Close-up of neckline

Close up of neckline, cut in a smaller size

Blurry photo of version #2

Better photo of version #2

Standard photo with hands on hips
On Saturday afternoon, I decided to listen to one of Peggy Sager's videos about her patterns and fitting. These are available on YouTube, just search for Silhouette Patterns. There are loads of videos on there, some on specific patterns, others on more general topics such as fitting, wardrobing.

Peggy is a real goldmine of information. She began her working career as a pattern maker for a clothing company. It was only after about 15 years doing this, that she crossed over into the sewing world. And she realised that home-sewers were meeting disappointment with their efforts because they had no idea how to fit.

Peggy's patterns are based on garment finished measurements, not on body measurements. The reason for this is that she says we all wear our clothes according to how much ease we like in them. And no one can tell you how you like your clothes to fit. Only you can do that.

So take a blouse or dress that you like and measure it across the finished bust. That is the size you choose when sewing Peggy's patterns. Then she provides different bodices for B, C, and D bra cup sizes.

Her explanation of the three elements of fit was very enlightening to me. She says keep in mind, three things - L, C and D.  L is length, this is the first thing you alter. The old, measure your back waist length and alter the pattern to fit that. Then C is circumference, this will ensure that the garment will fit or close over your bust or largest area. All other alterations fall into the D category which is depth.

Anything that is angled on a pattern is something that affects the depth. So the angled shoulder line is depth. Peggy explained brilliantly how the shoulder line is actually a dart worked into the pattern. Bust darts are obvious angled lines, but so are princess lines, crotch curves. All of these fall into the third area of fitting. Length and circumference are done first. Then you make a muslin and work on the depth changes.

It all sounded so simple to me when I listened. But I know that there is a learning curve and, as Peggy says, we have listened to the wrong advice for so long, that it is hard to rewire our brains. So I am going to give this a try.

She suggests taking her Classic Blouse, one that I have made twice already, and cutting out just the front and back in a knit fabric. Yes, you can check the fit of a woven blouse by sewing it in a knit. Peggy suggests cutting it one size smaller than the finished measurements of something you wear, the knit will provide stretch, and cut the armhole for a smaller size, which will make the change necessary for a sleeveless garment. That armhole should be cut higher up, in order to bring the armhole up underneath your arm and prevent gaping. Sleeves require more room to be set in, a sleeveless garment doesn't need that room.

So I am going to give this a try. The result is that you end up with a nice tank top, that has shaping because the pattern has both front and back vertical darts, plus a bust dart. For the raw edges, simply turn them under and topstitch without stretching the curve.

This all makes so much sense to me. I think I am going to be listening to more of Peggy's videos in the future and trying more of her patterns. After all, she has the vast experience to know what she is talking about.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Sonya's Blouse

Pictures will follow, hopefully tomorrow.

I have made two blouses from Peggy Sagers' Sonya Blouse pattern.

It is always a good idea to make up a pattern more than once, particularly if you like the first version. Of course, there are some patterns that we never want to see again, but if you like something, the second go-round is always better. It sews up much faster, and you have fine-tuned the fit. No surprises on the second version.

I am going to keep a box with patterns that I have made a few times, that pass the test of being good patterns. The advantage of having TNT patterns, which you will know from having read Caroline's blog -  - is that you can use those patterns to test the fit of other patterns before you even cut them out. A great time-saver, not to mention saving in fabric costs.

So keeping track of fabric sewed up since last post:

3 metres sewed up  (total of 9.3 metres this year)
0 metres bought

Thursday, February 25, 2016

New purchases February 2016

Guilty, guilty as charged. I bought new fabric, despite my resolutions to sew from the stash and only buy one piece for every two stash items sewed up.

I did make a skirt, using up 2 metres of beige stretch corduroy, and also a shirt, using up 2 metres of a cotton print - both were from the stash.
And a tee shirt, which only took 1 metre, also from the stash.

But I bought 3 knits from They are gorgeous. If you live in Canada, you have to check out this resource in Vancouver. Amanda carries really top-notch fabrics, her service is terrific. And if you buy over $100, shipping is free. Her fabrics are not inexpensive, but I have been very pleased with everything I have bought from her this past year and will continue to patronize her business. We have so few online fabric resources in Canada, that we need to support the ones we have.

The striped knits are bamboo and cotton blends, they are very very soft. The purple one is modal jersey knit, not really sure what that means but it feels like a rayon/cotton knit to me. All three knits will become tees for the spring/summer season approaching. You can never have too many tees.

This print, also from Blackbird Fabrics, is a rayon ikat poplin. Rayon is a lovely fabric to wear in the heat, and this was bought with the intention of a soft shirt, with gathers or a pleat in the back to give the shirt some drape.


And then there was a trip to Texas. One visit to Hancock's Fabrics in Tyler was the only shopping I did. Not terribly inspiring and the sale didn't seem to extend to anything I bought. So the price tag surprised me for 3 patterns and 2 lengths of fabric. Over $80 - not impressive.

We can't get Simplicity patterns in Canada any longer, at least not in Halifax where I live. Simplicity has decided it is not worth their while to export to us, so Simplicity can only be bought online or in person in the US. Therefore I picked up three patterns in Hancock's rather than pay shipping for them.

The fabrics are 2 lengths of cotton, one a grey/white seersucker and the other a very fine plaid cotton in shades of pink and green. Both will be summer blouses/shirts and I am looking for a companion print for the plaid to make the inside collar, placket and cuffs.


So keeping up with my goal of tracking the inventory, this results in

February  5 metres sewed up
               11.7 metres purchased

That's it for now, time to start sewing some of these beauties.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Kwik Sew 3915

Most sewers will admit that there are a number of failures in their sewing experience. This pattern was a failure on a previous attempt. I made view B in a cotton lycra knit, but the knit was too heavy. And the neckline is a gathered band that is very pretty, but in a knit of the wrong weight, it was darn right ugly. I wore the top once and then put it into the GoodWill bag.

About a month ago, I passed a table of very drapey knits in Fabricville and, even though the content was 95% polyester, 5% lycra, I thought I would chance it and make version A of this pattern. Well this one is a success in my books. The fabric is very soft and silky, it sews beautifully and was just the right weight and drape for this knit top with the ruched neckline.

I wasn't even that sold on the print when I bought it, but I really like it made up into this pattern. The instructions have you put sew-in interfacing on the back neck and shoulders, I used fusible instead. If I make this again, I will also interface the front V before attaching the collar, so that it is easier to clip into that V and sew the collar on with less fuss.

I need to pick up four pearl buttons to sew to the neckline, there are fabric loops on the one side. But you can't even see this because the print is so busy.

I have resolved that I will sew mainly from the stash this year, as so many other bloggers are also doing. This is not good news for fabric stores, and when I was operating my online fabric business, I hated to hear that people were going to sew from their stashes! But I will have to let the new generation of sewers support the fabric businesses, as I am being squeezed out by my huge stash and I feel the need to use it up or at least make a substantial dent in it.

I hope to record here monthly how much fabric I buy and how much I sew up. And the latter must exceed the former by a ratio of about three to one. I saw this on the blogger 

and it is a great example to follow. Plus her blog is so inspirational, her sewing is perfect.

So this month so far, I sewed up:

2.5 metres boiled wool coating
1.8 metres poly/lycra knit

I am not going to count linings, interfacing or any of the notions needed to finish projects, just the basic yardage. This is a determined attempt to reduce the stash that currently fills one entire room in our attic. And I should feel a whole lot less guilt about my addiction.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

First project of 2016

 I have finished my coat. I did everything I wanted to do on this coat, with the exception of handworked buttonholes. After some practise, I was not pleased with my handiwork and opted to go over the buttonholes a second time by machine. The result was just fine by me. And so I sewed on the buttons and called it done.

View of the inside of the coat. All the gunk inside will only be known to me, and the beautiful Kasha lining (flannel-backed satin) covers everything up.

Yes, we still have our old faithful dog Teddy who is now 15 years old. He is in great shape for his age and I attribute that to good genes plus all the exercise we have given him over the years. Even last summer, he jumped over obstacles that the grandchildren had set up when they pretended to be horses. Teddy joined right in.

So far, winter has not been bad. We are keeping our fingers crossed that we will not get the kind of weather we had last year. So far, I'm not complaining. The sidewalks are clear and it isn't that cold, so I can keep up my regular walking.

Next up, some shorter projects to give me some new clothes to take to Texas in February. I hear that this is when the bluebonnets bloom, I really hope to see them this time.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Note to self

Don't sew when you are either sick or tired or both. You may get something done, but there is a good chance that you will mess up.

As in sew the side back lining to the front and the front side to the back, then sew one side front to another side front. So much ripping out, finally got it right but am going to leave the actual sewing of the lining into the coat for another day. One can only handle so much frog-stitching!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Coat Progress

Okay, so I have been making progress on my coat. But the warm weather has not been much of an impetus to get it finished. I have been taking my time, doing lots of hand-sewing (which doesn't show up at all). I hand-stitched hair canvas to the fronts, upper back, and all hemlines. I put hair canvas on both upper and under collar and pad-stitched the under-collar. The fabric is really thick and fuzzy, and no stitches showed through to the outside even if I took bigger stitches than just little pricks. 

Given the thickness of the fabric, I didn't want welt pockets, I didn't think I would do a good job with them, so I opted for patch pockets. And they are interfaced with hair canvas, then lined, and then hand-stitched twice to the coat so they will be nice and secure without any stitches showing.

I also added a back stay using linen fabric from the stash. This will help keep the back shoulders from stretching out and will also hide any outline of shoulder pads.

At this point, before the sleeves were set in, I made the buttonholes. I made six preliminary buttonholes by machine and the plan is to overcast these with buttonhole twist so that I will actually have handworked buttonholes. I have been practising those, and so far they are not looking good to me. I may resort to going over the buttonholes once again by machine and calling it a day. 

Here you can see the interfacing strips in the hem area. With hair canvas, you cut strips on the bias that are 1 1/2" wider than your hem allowance, then position the interfacing so that it extends 1/2" below the hemline. It is hand basted along the hemline and catch-stitched along the top to the coat itself. Then when the hem is turned up, it is catch-stitched to the interfacing and it never ever shows on the outside. The bias interfacing also gives a nice soft edge to the hemline. I also did this on the sleeve hems.

Here is a photo of the inside of the front of the coat, it isn't the greatest photo. But you can see the hair canvas which covers the entire centre front pieces. I also interfaced the side pieces of the front to about 9" below the armholes. And you can see where the sleeves have been put in, I used tie interfacing (since it is on the bias) to ease the sleeve caps and then that interfacing is turned out into the sleeve caps to provide a sleeve header. After that, the shoulder pads are stitched in place. 

This is the back where you can see the linen back stay which covers the back from neck to under the armholes. Underneath the stay, there is more hair canvas. I tell you there has been so much hand-stitching on this coat. But you know, where I live, winter is a really big deal. It is wicked and lasts for four months of the year. We can wear winter coats for five months so it is worth doing all this work because this coat will get worn a lot.

Full photo of the back with all the inner stuff showing. Pretty unsightly, but it will be all covered up with beautiful shiny Kasha lining (flannel-backed satin) in royal blue and none of this will ever be seen again.

I was planning on getting buttons to match the coat in colour, but I am thinking now that I should perhaps go with jet black buttons. The coat looks really plain, and perhaps a contrast button would be a good idea. I am thinking that this coat needs a gorgeous sunny yellow scarf tucked inside the neckline and I am on the lookout for one in the stores. Funny when you want a specific colour in something, it is nowhere to be found. I may have to make one.

More later, I hope to have this finished by Christmas day.

Merry Christmas to all.