Monday, October 24, 2011

Style Arc Shaza Pant

It's not every day that a pattern is named after you. What a huge honor!

I haven't been sewing as much lately, but this pant had to be first up. I made a size 10 - my normal pant size in Style Arc. I made zero changes when cutting. The only change I made during construction was to change the direction of the pleats - I find the pleat direction I used to be a bit more flattering when one has a belly.

These pants are very loose above the knee and snug below the knee. I did not shorten or hem them. They puddle a bit at the ankle, which I like, though you can't see that in the pictures because I am wearing an ankle boot.


  • Black rayon lycra jersey from Fabrix.
  • 1.5" Fantastic Elastic from Pamela's Patterns. I trimmed off about 1/8" for it to fit the casing. (This elastic is designed so that it can be cut to a narrower width.


I love these pants! I really like how the side drape transitions to a pocket. These are quick to sew up and easy to wear. If you like a harem style of pant, I highly recommend this pattern!

Proof that there are pockets!

Here you can see how the drape looks. The pockets are still tucked inside. (Worn with the red Teagarden T I made last Christmas.)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Vogue 8754 - Marc Jacobs Wool Coat

More pictures


I am introducing a new feature! From time to time, I plan to talk about something that Seemed Like a Good Idea! And maybe it is a good idea. Or maybe it isn't. :)

The Coat

Time for another coat! Though I am no longer suffering from a coat deficit, I continue to make coats. My climate loves a good coat, most of the time. I now have 8 of my 12 jackets and coats completed for 2011. Will I finish all 12? Who knows!

It seems like it took me forever to finish this!!! Started weeks ago, before moving to the sewing room, this is the first item to be finished in the sewing room.

This pattern was new in the fall Vogue collection a couple months ago. I liked the neckline and the binding. And I had a piece of fabric that I thought would work. It does, mostly. But more about that later.


  • Marc Jacobs wool blend, black with harbor blue dashes, from FabricMart (300619). You need to treat this fabric like a stripe. It is super soft and thick - kind of spongy. The design is woven - not printed - so the back of the fabric has floats where the harbor dashes appear; it's a good candidate to be a lined garment. A friend received this fabric in her free mystery bundle from FM and gifted it to me. It's *really* nice. This had disappeared from the FabricMart website and then more yardage recently reappeared. They also have it in a blue colorway with cream dashes. I've also seen this colorway on Fashion Fabrics Club, though it is more expensive.
  • Scraps of Vera Wang pebbled silk for pockets.
  • Lining: blue polyester charmeuse from Fabrix (and left over from another project).
  • Trim: black organic bamboo doubleknit (98% bamboo, 2% lycra) from FabricMart (891855). I cut 2" strips.
  • Interfacing: black tricot fusible from Fabrix for collar and fronts.
  • 3 giant square snaps from Britex.

The fabric front is on the left. The back of the fabric, with the floats, is on the right. The strips of bamboo doubleknit for the binding are at the top.

Alterations & Modifications:

  • Started with a size 18 and made View C.
  • Lowered and enlarged the dart - added 2.5".
  • Lengthened the front interfacing to correspond to the additional length from the FBA.
  • The pattern, just released recently in the fall Vogue collection, is described as a "semi-fitted lined jacket." It is semi-fitted through the bust. It has a dart in the back neckline (2 darts total) and I widened the back another 1" (2" total additional width). I took up the extra width at the neckline by adding another dart for a total of 4 neckline darts.
  • From the waist down, the jacket is much wider through the hip area. I chopped off the hip shaping.
  • I straightened the edge of the inseam pocket because I'd removed the curve at the hip.
  • Narrowed the shoulder seam by 1".
  • Allowed for turn-of-the-cloth at the collar. Because this is a thick fabric, it was a noticeable amount of excess. You can see it in the photo - it was a bit more than 1/4" that I removed.

    Turn of the collar. I cut off the excess. After basting the outer coat to the lining, 5/8" is trimmed off all around the edge and then the binding is applied.

  • I sewed the binding to the coat with a 3/8" seam allowance. I stitched the other edge of the binding by hand.
  • I shortened the sleeves by 2".
  • I hand sewed the sleeve lining to the coat. Lots and lots of tiny stitches.

  • I used three giant navy snaps from Britex as the closure. In the flash pictures, these snaps appear to be a bright blue, but they are actually such a dark navy that they almost look black.

    An accurate depiction of the snap color.

Comments and Conclusion

It seems like these pattern companies make very specific decisions about what constitutes a "Very Easy" pattern, and they don't always make sense. One measure of a "Very Easy" pattern seems to be the number of pattern pieces. In this case, they avoided making any facings. They also avoided any lining pattern pieces. This has some ramifications:

  • There is no back neck facing piece. I went along with this idea, and I didn't love it. I did not sew the four neck darts in the lining, but turned them into pleats. I usually prefer to draft a back neck facing when one is not made available.

    The back lining. You can see, I hope, the four pleats into the collar.

  • There is no front facing. You cut four fronts. This means that the coat is two layers of the main fabric at the front. The coat also has darts, which I made a lot bigger. Since I used a fairly heavy coating, that is a LOT of thickness in the dart area. I think it would be better if they had broken down and created a front facing and front lining pattern piece, to avoid bulk.
  • In general, I had trouble with the darts. No matter how much steam and pressure I applied, I could not make this spongy fabric lie flat at the darts. This bothers me, but I finally gave up, after several attempts.

In the end, it's a serviceable coat. A little boring. The pattern could have been designed better. I probably won't make it again, or if I do, I will draft proper facings and a front lining.

It Seemed Like a Good Idea

You may have noticed the sweater I was wearing in the coat photo shoot, though only a bit of it can be seen. I bought this two years ago at one of those multi-designer sales that happen periodically. It is the softest black alpaca. What attracted me to this piece was the attached scarf. Yes, the scarf begins at the hem of the garment, and then narrows and extends for quite a ways. You can loop it around your neck any way you like, but I generally wear it knotted, as you see.

Doesn't this seem like a good idea?

I thought so, which is why I bought it. I've worn it maybe 2 or 3 times in the last two years.

Why has it received such minimal wear?

Well, I first wore it to Thanksgiving, two years ago, at a friend's house. It was a nice chilly fall day. But once you enter a heated house, you are stuck wearing a scarf that you can't remove. Unless you want it trailing on the floor. It's hard to find an event that has a suitable mix of fancy-ness and chilly-ness to wear this piece.

Oh well, I still like it. :)

More Pictures


Partially closed

Fully closed

The lining fabric is used only in the back, sleeves, and in-seam pockets.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sewing Room Update - Babysteps

Wow, my last post struck a nerve. Too many people thought I was wrong to throw out DD1's stinky, filty, worn-out toe shoes. I did think about keeping them - for all of several seconds. Then I thought, heck, I have the pictures. Let them go. :)

Besides, who needs the toe shoes when I have pictures like this?

Several folks have asked me to please show the sewing room as it is now.

OK. Though I warn you. I am not a decorator. I am not that well organized. I have already lost interest in spending a lot of time on the room. I'd rather sew. It may be a long time before I make any major modifications.

I hope I haven't disappointed you.

The ironing board had to go in front of the windows. For two reasons. One, the view. Two, when it rains, it can leak, and I don't want any power cords or machines in the area until I get it fixed. And that's why you see the towel - because we did have rain this week.

DD1 left her desk behind. I removed the hutch (it was not attached) and am using it to store my serger, felting machine, and my Janome Gem. When I want to work in here, I also use the desk. All I need is my laptop and my iPhone and I can work anywhere. :)

My sewing corner. My friend Heather gave me her Bernina table when she upgraded to a more modern machine. I finally set it up and love it. It is so great to be able to use the knee lift again! I gave up using it during the years that I was sewing on the kitchen table.

A word on having TV in the sewing room. There were some comments about the idea of having a TV in the sewing room. I do understand that it is not for everyone. For example, my ex-husband hates TV. Early in our marriage, I realized why. If he walked into a room that had a TV on, he was unable to resist it. It commanded his attention. His face, turned to the TV, would go slack, and it was hard to pull his attention away, even if all he was watching was an ad. I am not like this. I love to have TV on for company and I multi-task. In fact, I have a hard time actually watching a show to the end. Some folks prefer music. Or quiet. It's a personality thing. :)

DD1 left her armoire behind. It is now full of fabric, patterns, and notions. She also left the stack of yellow boxes behind. I have filled them. One holds lingerie elastic. One holds purse parts. One holds snaps and hooks/eyes. The last one holds fusible tape. The photo is one of the only pictures I have of my mother. She was an amazing sewist. This is her class picture, taken at the age of 13. It feels right to have her watching over the sewing room.

When my kids were 6 and 8, I let each of them choose a kitten at the pound. Later, I found these painted rocks on ebay. Each one strongly resembles their respective cats. Both girls left the cat rocks behind, but I am happy to have the whimsical kittuses. :)

DD1 left her tree of toe shoe keyrings behind. This is one thing I am keeping in the room. Oh, the clock is hers too, but I hope she doesn't remember to come collect it, because it amuses me. :)

Several of you told me that you were not happy with the track lighting in your sewing rooms. So, for now, I'm going to leave this fixture here. I have several area lights and Ott lights, so I don't have a current need for new overhead lighting.

I really thought I would have my coat finished today. All that remains is to hem the sleeves and the snap closures. I still have some evening left, so maybe I can get it done. :)

Monday, October 10, 2011

October Status Update

One of my outfits this week. The jacket is purchased and the cream corduroy pants are Style Arc Linda pants.

Sewing Room Pictures - Before

I feel like I've been absent for awhile, though it's really been just over a week. What has been going on at Chez Shams:

  • I spent the entire weekend before last working on the house. Over the last couple years I have taken over the living room, dining room and kitchen with my sewing. Now that I have a real sewing room, it's time to move the sewing out of the rest of the house. So I spent time sorting, organizing, moving. Some things went into the sewing room, and some things into the basement (formerly my bedroom). This is a herculean task and I have cleaned out the kitchen, and most of the living room, but I still have a fair amount of work to do in the dining room. It's getting there.
  • Last week I went into work twice, for fun reasons. One day to play team-building bocce ball, and another day to have a team lunch with the uber boss (my boss's boss).
  • On Wednesday, DirecTv came and I now have TV in my sewing room! For me, this is an essential part of a sewing room. ;)
  • For some reason, I was reluctant to actually start sewing in the sewing room. To be honest, I think it's because I miss my kids. But I finally forced my way through that reluctance this weekend and made a bit more progress on the coat.
  • This weekend I had several activities, which also limited sewing time. I had an appointment involving DD2 on Saturday morning. On Sunday I went to the Picasso Exhibit at the De Young with friends (so much fun!), and then on Sunday evening DD2 and I had a movie date. We saw The Third Man (1949) at the Castro Theater. It's a wonderful Art Deco theater in the Castro district that shows old films. I had never seen this film before but really enjoyed seeing Joseph Cotten and the young Orson Wells. DD2 tells me she wants to learn swing dancing and she's taught herself to play the theme from the movie (which was quite famous) on her ukulele. Kids. ;)
  • I am now back to sewing in the evenings. I have decided to take time on the sewing room "fixup". There is no rush and, for now, I can keep cutting out in the dining room.

Sewing Room Pictures - Before

Here are some "before" pictures of the sewing room. I took these before DD1 started to move out. The room was not cleaned to take these pics. I'm glad I have these to remember what a neat room she had. :)

The door on the left exits the room - this kid has always had a passion for calendars and wanted 5 or 6 every Christmas - 4 for my house and a couple more for her dad's house. The mirrored door on the right is her closet, which is now full of my in-process pieces, overflow clothing, and some fabric that needs to be hung.

Her bed and stuffed chair. When she was young, there was a chiffon canopy over the bed, which hung from the ceiling. She took the mattress but left the bed frame and the chair behind.

The view from the door. I love love the windows, the light, and the trees. The best view in the house. It's so quiet and peaceful - you would never think you were in San Francisco.

Three females and one bathroom? I could see the writing on the wall and bought her this vanity and makeup stand at the age of 11. It saved a lot of bathroom arguments, believe me. She spent a lot of time at this table.

The crystal chandelier. I feared you might think it was some huge thing, but my ceilings aren't that high. For her, this was one of the most important features in the room, along with the colors. She really wanted yellow walls, a blue ceiling, and a green carpet. "Like nature." Well, she was 11. ;)

Her desk and armoire. I gave her the tall bookcase as a Christmas gift last year. She took it with her (rats). She left behind the desk and the armoire. The armoire is now full of fabric, patterns, notions. The picture on top of the armoire is my senior picture - I was 17. She took it with her. :)

She left behind her toe shoes. While she continues to dance recreationally, she is done with toe shoes. I took a few pictures and then threw them out.

This kid started dancing at the age of three. It is her passion. Before having her, I never knew much about ballet. I didn't like ballet. At all. But after all these years as a ballet mom, I do respect it. These dancers look fragile and dainty, but are tough as nails. Blood and sweat are their daily fare.

So, stay tuned. Over time, I will update with pictures as the sewing room develops.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Saturday Notes - Au Bonheur, Where Art Thou!

Edited to Add: It's Official

I love you guys!

I woke up this morning and really enjoyed reading your comments on last night's post and on the post before. You really know how to make me smile. Thanks soooo much for your insights on your experiences with your own sewing rooms!!

Several of you asked about the independent pattern company Au Bonheur des Petites Mains. Actually, I was planning to bring that up, but hadn't gotten around to it yet.

I think the news is not good.

  • The last time they put up patterns for sale (which was last spring - in early April), they immediately took some of them down again. A few people who ordered quickly, managed to get them, but most (like me) were out of luck, as those patterns never reappeared.
  • Over the last six months or so, they have closed two of their stores in France.
  • Their website has consistently been down for some time now. I've been checking and checking.
  • They have not answered any email I have sent to the address that, in the past, they used for correspondence. But my emails have not been returned as invalid, either. So, either it's unmonitored, or it's unmonitored by anyone that speaks English.
  • I was on their mailing list. The last bulk email they sent out was on 6/21/2011. I dumped the text into Google translate. It says is that they are having a big sale, which is possibly right before they dissolved (if, in fact, they have dissolved). Here is the original French, for those of you who can shed more light on this mystery.
    Mesdames, Messieurs, Chers Clients
    Votre magasin « Au Bonheur des Petites Mains » de CERNAY
    vous propose ses
    Des centaines d'articles soldes entre 50 et 80%
       Apartir du mercredi 22 juin 9h00 et pendant toute la duree legale des soldes
    aux heures habituelles d'ouverture du magasin.
    (9h-12h et 14h-18h jeudi et vendredi
    samedi 9h-12h et 14h-17h)
      Rappel: nous ne prenons toujours pas la Carte Bleue,
    donc paiement en especes ou par cheque
    A tres bientot
    dans votre magasin de CERNAY
    8A rue de La Sauge
    68 700 CERNAY
    03 89 37 44 60
    Vous recevez ce message en tant qu'ancien client de 
    Si vous ne desirez plus recevoir nos messages, cliquez ici
    Conformement a la loi informatique et libertes du 6 janvier 1978 (art. 27), vous disposez d'un droit d'acces et de rectification des donnees vous concernant.   
    Copyright ©  - Tous droits reserves

I think they are gone which, if true, is a real shame. I am so glad I bought as many patterns as I did.

In fact, Dorothy just posted an Au Bonheur's t-shirt review on Pattern Review that is so amazing, I am sure that many have been trying to buy the pattern and are wondering what the heck is up. I've included the picture here so you can drool some more.


Don't you just want to climb into this picture and have some tea and scones with Dorothy and talk sewing?

Both of these t-shirts are from pattern 60005, T-shirt Effet Asymmetric. I never bought this pattern, thinking it would not work on my bust but, after seeing Dorothy's, I am rethinking that idea. Lucky for me, Dorothy is in my sewing group and may let me borrow the pattern.

Pure gorgeousness, Dorothy! Though, to be honest, if you were wearing the proverbial gunny sac, you would still be pure gorgeousness! (And if I had better Photoshop skillz, I just might prove that point. ;) )

If you have any further information on the status of this company, please post it here. I am sad if a source of such creativity has dried up forever!

Here are some related links you might find useful:

Edited to Add: It's Official!

Thanks to Véro, who commented on this post, we have confirmation that Au Bonheurs liquidated their business on August 7th. Thanks so much for investigating this, Véro! I wish the designers all the best. If anyone hears that any of these designers have resurfaced and are designing for another pattern line, please let me know!!!

Friday Ramblings - incl. Vogue Website Anomaly

Table of Contents:

Where is Shams? (and Sewing Room news)

Just a quick update. When I've been quiet people start to email me and ask me what's up. ;)

  • Work is keeping me pretty busy. The usual. Next week is some team-building bocce ball. That should be fun. ;)
  • DD1 has moved out! Yes, she is embarking on the next phase of her life. She is attending a local university part time (she's not sure what she wants to ultimately study, but is considering fashion merchandising) and she has secured a retail job at the gigantic Westfield Mall in downtown SF. That place has been her mother ship for many a year, so she's enjoying her new, deeper, mall relationship. Along with these developments, she decided she wanted her own place and she has moved into a tiny studio apartment. She and I now schedule lunches and time to see each other. It's all new.
  • DD2, a high school junior, is primarily living with her dad, who is closer to her school. We also schedule time to get together, such as the movie night we have planned for next weekend - this kid has a special love for old movies and we are seeing some movie her British grandmother loved as a girl - I've never heard of it.
  • That means I have my house to myself! Just me and the unsociable, but demanding, cat. After much cogitating, I decided to reclaim DD1's bedroom (the former master bedroom) as my sewing room! WOOT! And every closet in the house is now MINE! WOOT! WOOT! (Twenty years ago, before having kids, I used DD2's smaller room as my sewing room.)
  • When DD1 phoned to say she was on her way, a week ago, to come get her mattress and her most needed items to start sleeping in the new place, it wasn't 10 minutes before I was moving my sewing machine and ironing board into her room. When she showed up an hour or so later, she just stood, staring and blinking. I don't think she expected me to move so fast.
  • Building a sewing room will take time. I plan to do this in phases.
    • Phase 1 is to get DirecTv in the room. I have an appointment for next week.
    • Phase 2 is to get rid of the bed frame.
    • Phase 3 is to get a cutting table.
    • Phase 4 is to replace her crystal chandelier with some cool tract lighting. (Wow, I was a nice mom to get her a crystal chandelier - and how weird is it for an 11-year-old to desperately want a crystal chandelier?)
    • Phase 5 is to get some sort of seating that converts to a bed. The research has begun.
    • Later phases include getting new work tables so I can have all my machines up and to get more storage. This will take time.
So, what to do this weekend? There are a lot of sewing activities this weekend, such as PenWAG, and I may participate in one or two, but mostly I plan to work at home. Do I sew? Or do I dismantle a bed and get rid of it?

You see my dilemma.

Also, I've been walking. I am so inspired by my walking friends, like Margy and Peggy. I've always loved to walk but haven't done much lately. Then, on Monday evening, I walked 4.5 miles, towards the ocean, returning in the dark, with blisters on my feet. Today (Friday) I had an appointment in downtown SF, and I decided, very impromptu, to save the $2 bus fare and walk home. Six uphill miles later, I returned home with blisters under my blisters.

I need some better shoes. :)

Vogue Winter Patterns

Did you hear about (or notice) the weirdness on the Vogue website on Thursday? They were having a 4-day BMV sale that ended Thursday night, central time. On Thursday, they released their new winter patterns. After a short while (during which many people blogged and talked about the new patterns on various forums) they were yanked from the website. Evidently, they didn't intend to post the new patterns until after the sale.

Then, at 9:15pm Pacific time, they re-appeared. (Thanks to Marlene who alerted me!) There was a 45-minute window that they were on the site and the sale was active. I swooped in and bought a dozen patterns, half of them new. I love the new Koos coat, the Tilton patterns, the Mizono top. There is some good stuff in the winter offerings! Then, at 10pm Pacific time, the sale was over. Phew! I got in just under the wire and my 12 patterns were less than $40 (plus shipping).

And Sewing!

I am very close to finishing a coat. In fact, I accidentally published the post before the coat, or the post, were finished. I took it down immediately, but the partially completed post (I write my blog entries as I sew), still appeared on Google Reader. Several eagle-eyed people asked to me about that.

Progress has been slow because I have been too tired, or too hot, to sew most evenings. (We had a little heat spell, which is not conducive to sewing a wool coat.) But it's coming!

Artistry in Fashion 2012

Oh, by the way, did you notice that Ronda Chaney commented on my Artistry in Fashion review post? The date for next year's AIF is Sept 29th. Just so you know!

Happy weekend!