Saturday, February 25, 2012

Vogue 8497 - Marcy Tilton Top

More Pictures

Thanks to all of you who voted!
I won the Jeans Contest on Pattern Review!

I hope I'm not becoming too repetitive, but I seem to be on a knit top roll. I've had this pattern for a long time, intending to get around to it "one of these days".

I've been collecting some great rayon lycra knits, and I've worked out a TnT pattern that I can lay on top of other patterns and transfer the fit, so there's no stopping me now. :)

I decided to make a variation of view B, which Marcy shows on her website (search the page for "Holey Moley").

Originally, I planned to insert a circle or two as she shows in her tutorial, but the fabric I used is a very lightweight, very drapey rayon/lycra and it would have been more painstaking than I wanted to deal with. (Those circles would be much easier in a cotton lycra.)

Marcy's variation of view B


  • A lightweight rayon/lycra. I think I bought this from Emma One Sock.

Alterations and Modifications:

  • I redrew the shape of the front seam to mimic the tan striped top on Marcy's site. I think this is a more flattering line for my bust.
  • Rather than using the cut-on sleeve from the pattern, I used the armscye and sleeve from my TnT tee.
  • Borrowing the construction from the last few collaged tops I've made, I serged the shaped front seam, shaped back seam and hems. I overlapped the front seams and stitched on the conventional machine. I did the same for the back seam.
  • I used a neckline treatment I have used, and blogged about, before. I saw this on a top in Marcy's wardrobe.

    Same neckline treatment, different top. For this one I cut the strip on the bias and lined up the three raw edges to be even.

    The back neck, from this top.

    To summarize:
    • Cut a 1.5" vertical strip longer than the neckline.
    • Fold it in half the long way and press the crease.
    • Lay the strip against the neckline so that the raw edges of the strip are extended slightly beyond the raw edge of the neckline - maybe 1/8".
    • Top-stitch 1/8" from the folded edge of the strip, pulling slightly as you round the curves. To see my favorite video showing how to calculate a binding for a scoop neck, and how to attach the strip to the neckline, see the Sarah Veblen Neckline Binding for Knits video on the Threads Magazine website. I used Sarah's basic technique for calculating the length and attaching the strip, but applied to Marcy's raw edge technique. It's an excellent video, well worth pinning.


I am really having fun with these rayon lycra print knit tops! They are so stretchy, but with good recovery. They are soft, comfy, and, I hope, flattering, flowing over lumps and bumps but not clinging to them. And I can whip one of these up in an evening!

Oh, you'll never guess what happened! I was typing this entry last night when the control key on my keyboard split in half. It's usable, but annoying, so it's back to the Apple Store today!

More Pictures

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Pants Index

Today I received a gorgeous, and I mean gorgeous, piece of fabric from a blogger friend. I won't reveal it yet, or the person who generously gifted me with it, but I immediately thought I'd like to use it for a pair of pants.

Unfortunately, my memory is no longer the steel trap it once was, and I had trouble remembering which patterns I have used and liked that work well with wovens. This particular woven feels something like a crisp linen, though I have not washed it yet - it needs some special pre-treatment.

So, I spent this evening doing something I've wanted to do for some time: I created a visual index of my pants TnT patterns. Wow, I think this is going to help. In case it's of general interest, I have put a link to Pants Galore! A Visual Index at the top of my blog.

What strikes me now that I've made this index is that I have not made the variety of patterns that I thought I had. I have much more to sew! :) What also strikes me is that some of my most favorite patterns are Marcy Tilton's... and Style Arc... and one particular Au Bonheur.

Thanks, again, for those of you who have voted for me in the Jeans Contest! You guys rock!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

All on the Line with Joe Zee

Have you managed to catch "All on the Line with Joe Zee" yet?

This is a great reality show about the fashion business. Joe Zee (which usually seems to be pronounced 'Josie' when both names are used) is a creative editor for Elle Magazine. He works with struggling fashion businesses to identify their problems and help turn them around.

Joe has a real sense of where the weaknesses of a fashion house are, be they in the creative arena, or the business arena. He works with the designer and associates to come up with a plan. The episode culminates in an appointment that Joe sets up with buyers of a relevant business, such as Nordstroms, Neiman Marcus, or Scoop, and with the editor of, who promises to feature the fashion house if their latest work meets with expectations.

Sometimes Joe works with small fashion houses that haven't achieved the level of success they need to stay in business. Sometimes he works with well known fashion houses that have stagnated, such as Nicole Miller.

I love this show! It gives you a peek into the real world of the fashion business. Far more real than what you see on Project Runway.

As of this writing, there are two completed seasons. They are currently working on season 3. Here is the episode list on IMDb.

I watch "All on the Line" on the Sundance Channel, but a friend with Comcast tells me she that can see it via On Demand. It also seems to be available through iTunes (for a fee).

Shameless Self Promotion

Voting for the Jeans Contest ends the day after tomorrow (2/23). If you haven't voted yet, and are a current member of Pattern Review, please consider voting. I know my jeans are pushing the envelope of normal, but one of the criteria of the contest is to make jeans that "stand out from the crowd". :)

I have nothing new to report, sewing-wise. Last weekend my hard drive died, so it was back to the Apple store for a new one. They tell me the battery is next to go, so I'm hoping there's nothing left on my baby to break!

Meanwhile, I'm trying to catch up with work. It's work work work for Shams. Good thing I like my work, even when it impedes the sewing. ;)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Au Bonheur Jeans Funkiness!

I made the Au Bonheur jeans a third time. The first time, I tested the pattern in black ponte. The second time, I made a pair using stretch indigo denim.

This time I wanted to make a pair that showcased the funky aspect of this pattern. For this pair, I made the following changes:

  • The original pattern calls for contrasting fabrics for several of the pattern pieces. For the first two pair, I used the same fabric for the entire pants. For this pair, I created my own contrasting fabric using my needle felting machine (also called an embellishing machine).
  • I changed the back pockets. I started with the pocket shape from the Jalie Jeans and made a pocket design that incorporated a contrasting element and echoed the angle of the yoke.
  • I made this pair 1" longer.
  • I used white top-stitching thread.

Materials and Notions:

  • Stretch black denim from FabricMart, purchased a year ago. I don't remember the lycra content, but 5" of the fabric stretched to 7". I prewashed the denim many times.
  • White Guterman top-stitching thread (color #20).
  • Scraps of lining and double-faced cotton to finish the lower edge of the front knee gusset and the front and back pockets.
  • Frixion pens. I used these to mark the back of the denim to mark the darts, where the pocket backing would be exposed, etc. These worked GREAT! After I was done with the markings, they were easily removed with steam from the iron.


I LOVE these jeans! I have been wearing the blue pair quite a bit and they are SO comfy. And they STAY UP! I just barely managed to get them entered into the jeans contest on Pattern Review. I had to drive to my DD1's place yesterday to use her Mac and struggle with an unfamiliar environment where I didn't have my tools or my passwords. It took me two hours, but I managed to get it done.

If you are a member of Pattern Review (either free or paid), you can VOTE, if you wish.

Pictures Galore!

So happy to get my computer back, I am dancing!

Needle felting the front knee gussets. The knee gusset on the right has the darts sewn in but not yet topstitched.

Front knee gusset, completed.

Back knee gusset, completed.

All of the needle felted bits. Notice the flowering tree in my back yard? In February? It really has been a beautiful spring this winter.

Back pockets. I started with the Jalie Jeans pocket shape and then drafted my own version.

Front pocket backing. I only needle felted the part that shows.

Yes, they are United Nude shoes.

A "Mom Jeans" butt? I am not sure...

Didya Miss Me?

Cause, SHOOT, I missed you!

My Mac laptop died on Sunday evening, following a routine update. Motherboard - fried. Cable from motherboard to hard drive - fused connector. It's been in for repairs until today (Thursday).

Those lovely Apple folks covered the $600 repair, even though my Macbook is two years out of warranty... Because it happened during the update.

I love Apple service. My laptop is so much faster - I wonder if the new processor is a faster one.

Shoot, it's hard to do much on an iPhone, other than send emails. Though I did manage to navigate two teeny tiny websites and to order three pieces of fabrics, two on sale (which ended yesterday).

By Wednesday, I was starting to get pretty twitchy with no decent computer/internet access. ;)

I will be posting a review soon. I have hundreds of unread emails, yes over 600. I am behind on everything, especially WORK.

Happy Friday!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Vogue 8793 - Katherine Tilton Collaged Top

WARNING! Long post ahead! More pictures.

Since the beginning of the year, I have been on a self-imposed fabric and pattern budget, so when the new Vogues came out a couple weeks ago, I allowed myself only one pattern from the new season and 8793 was it. I can always use more tops, and this one screamed, "Pick me! Pick me! I am fun to make!"

In my last post I mentioned that I recently counted thirteen Teagarden Ts that I have made in the last couple of years. The only downside of the Teagarden is that it is cut from a single, large, awkward pattern piece (not counting the gusset) and it leaves behind sizable scraps. I keep a dedicated bag where I put scraps appropriate for tees: mostly rayon/lycra, cotton/lycra, and poly/lycra varieties. My original intention was to use these scraps to make underwear, but, so far, that hasn't happened.

I now have enough scraps to make underwear for my daughter's entire high school.

I decided it was time to make another collaged T, similar to the asymmetric Au Bonheur tee I made last November, but using the new Vogue pattern.

From the Au Bonheur pattern I borrowed the asymmetric hem and the idea of CF and CB seams. Cutting the front and back in half vertically allowed me to play with a larger number of scraps from the scrap bag. From the Vogue pattern, I was eager to try the double collar, embellished with a zipper edging.

On Super Bowl Sunday, I altered the pattern and played with the scraps. I also ordered some lightweight, molded, separating zippers from Zipperstop. I ordered a few extra because I plan to make this again. It's certainly possible to leave off the zipper edging, but I think that the body it imparts to the collar is part of its charm.

Note that the pattern calls for, and you want, a lightweight, molded, separating zipper. I used the YKK brand, which is a superior zipper. You want a zipper with a malleable tape, small synthetic (nylon?) teeth, and a very long length (hence the suggestion of using a separating zipper). You want it to add body to the collar, but not be too stiff or creased or have teeth that will be uncomfortable against the neck. One side of the zipper is sewn to the curved edge of the upper collar and the other side is sewn to the curved edge of the lower collar. Zipperstop carries the YKK brand, as does Britex. JoAnns does not.

Usually my orders from Zipperstop arrive in a couple of days. Alas, this order was held up in the U.S. mail; after waiting five days, I ended up visiting Britex to pick up a few zippers. I didn't mind too much, as I also needed to restock some thread and elastic.

Since I couldn't finish the first top, because it awaited a zipper, I started a second. For the first top, I ended up using three black/cream fabrics. I spent quite awhile auditioning fabrics; for example, I tried to add in some wild poly fabric, but it just wouldn't play nice with the other fabrics - mostly because its white background didn't work with the cream in the ikat-style print, but also the textures didn't gel.

Auditioning the fabrics I think I want to use for the neckline.

For the second top, I used four fabrics in wilder colors. I chose the fabrics more quickly for this top.

Materials for Top #1:

  • Solid black rayon/lycra from Fabrix. (Sleeves and back sides of both collars.)
  • Black and cream ikat-style rayon/lycra print from Fabrix. (Right front, right back, left cuff, and larger collar.)
  • Black w/ white polka dot cotton/lycra print from Marcy Tilton. (Left front, left back, right cuff, and smaller collar.) This fabric is beefier than the other fabrics, but it worked ok.
  • 28" YKK lightweight molded separating zipper in black from Britex.
  • Dritz Wonder Tape.
Materials for Top #2:

  • Wild stripe rayon/lycra print from Fabric Mart. (Right front - stripe horizontal, left back - stripe vertical, larger collar - stripe on the bias.)
  • Green/black rayon/lycra print from Fabric Mart. (Left front, back, larger collar - backside.)
  • Solid green 14oz rayon/lycra from Emma One Sock. (Smaller collar - front and back, right sleeve.)
  • Black rayon/lycra from Fabrix. (Left sleeve.)
  • 28" YKK lightweight molded separating zipper in dark green from Britex.
  • Dritz Wonder Tape.


I constructed this similar to the Au Bonheur top. Here is the construction order:

  • Serged the center fronts, center backs, and hems to neaten them, as they are otherwise raw.
  • Overlaid the center fronts (with the shorter one on top) and topstitched them together. Did the same for the back, also with the shorter one on top.
  • Sewed the shoulder seams.
  • Constructed and inserted the collars. I used Dritz Wash Away Wonder Tape to secure the zippers to the wiggly knit fabric. This worked quite well and made it possible to top stitch the collars with minimal problems. (More about that in the Tips and Techniques section.)
  • A note about the zippers: When I bought a 28" zipper, as instructed by the pattern, I found it was too short. For the first top, I centered the zipper tape and this did not work well. When you fold the collar so that it overlaps, the layer in front looks bad with the zipper teeth abruptly ending too early. I salvaged the first top by sewing in a tiny strip of zipper teeth to complete the line. Not ideal, but ok as long as no one studies it closely. For the second collar, I offset the zipper so that it was correctly placed on one side. The other side, which didn't have enough zipper teeth, is hidden when the front edges of the collar are overlapped.
  • Sewed the sleeves in flat.
  • Sewed the underarm/side seams.
  • Constructed and attached the cuffs. Note that I omitted the cuffs for the second, more colorful top.
  • Voilà.

Tips and Techniques:

I wanted to share some tips and techniques for sewing on flimsy knit fabrics that work for me. I know many folks are intimidated by sewing knits, but I literally can not imagine limiting my sewing to wovens. I wear knits far more than I wear wovens and I find them, for the most part, easy to sew. Here are a few tips I used for sewing these tops.

By the way, I own a serger, but do not use it for construction - I use it to finish seams and edges. I sew knits with a sewing machine. I do not own a coverstitch machine. YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary).

  • I used the Dritz Wonder Tape, instead of pins, to secure the zipper to the collar. This product seems identical to Collins Wonder Tape - I have both and, other than the packaging, they seem to be the same. Here is how I used it:
    • Place a strip of the Wonder Tape along the straight edge of the collar, and remove the paper backing, exposing the stickiness.
    • Lay the zipper tape down, teeth pointed away from the straight edge.
    • Place another strip of the Wonder Tape along the zipper tape. Remove the paper backing.
    • Carefully lay the straight edge of the collar lining so that the straight edges match up. Gently, but firmly, finger press the little zipper sandwich together.
    • Proceed with the pattern instructions.
  • Once the collar has been turned right side out, and the zipper foot is on your machine, edge-stitch close to the fabric edge. Every half inch or so, I lift the presser foot and gently nudge the top layer of fabric back so that it won't create ripples. I am basically acting as a human walking foot. After the first row of top-stitching, I do a second row, about 1/4" away from the first row of top-stitching. Again, lift the presser foot very frequently (every half inch or so) and smooth the fabric back so that it doesn't distort or ripple.
  • I also did lots of basting on the neckline edges of both collars. I basted the neckline edge of each collar separately. I pinned them together along the neckline edge. I overlapped the collars as they would be on the shirt. For the first shirt, I interleaved the collars, so the left side of the upper collar overlapped the right side and then the left side of the under collar overlapped the right side. For the second one, I treated the collars as one unit, so the left side of both collars overlapped the right side of both collars. For the record, I didn't like this effect as well. Once the collars were situated as they would be on the collar, I basted the neckline edge again, going through all layers.
  • The first two times I sewed the collars to the neckline, I used the typical trick of placing the edge with more ease, in this case the neckline, on the bottom against the feed dogs. This technique usually works great, but did not in this case. I think it was due to the tendency of the fabrics to "stick" to each other and not to glide through the feed dogs. No matter how careful I was, I would end up with many little pleats on the neckline that I had to rip out as best as possible and re-sew, with not very satisfactory results.

    I finally tried a different approach. The third time I attached the collar to the neckline, I put the collar sandwich against the feed dogs and put the neckline on top, against the presser foot. I had to sew carefully, lifting the presser foot frequently and smoothing the fabric, to avoid any ripples. The result was perfect.
  • When I've sewn a seam, if it is rippled, I iron it flat, with steam, before ironing it open. This almost always removes, or at least minimizes, the ripples.
  • I sometimes use Steam A Seam II Lite to hem knits, but, to be honest, I prefer the result of a hand sewn hem. The SAS II Lite leaves stiffness in the hem that I don't like. My hand sewn hems are soft and malleable. The sleeves of both tops were sewn by hand. This is probably where it would be nice to have a coverstitch machine. :)


I did have one major "oops" as I was sewing the second, more colorful top. When I constructed the collar for this top, it went together better than the first top. However, I made a careless mistake when attaching the collar to the neckline.

I sewed the collar in backwards, so that the CF of the collar was at the CB of the top.


It took me awhile to figure this out, because I was busy removing little neckline pleats and trying not to destroy the fabric in the process. When I realized my mistake, I knew that there was no way I could rip the entire neckline seam out. It's almost impossible to rip a seam out of these flimsy rayon knit fabrics. One tends to shred the fabric because the thread really embeds itself into the fabric with lots of tiny stitches.

So, I very quickly (before I could think too hard) cut the collar off the top, sacrificing the seam allowances of the collars and the neckline. I had to re-baste the neckline layers of the collar. The neckline was now larger, so I overlapped the collar a lesser amount and sewed it back on with a 1/4" seam allowance.

When you look at the photos, if the neckline of the second, more colorful, top looks larger, or the collars look narrower, this is why. My solution worked pretty well and saved the top from being a disaster.


These tops were so much fun to make! Playing with the scraps was really enjoyable. The fabrics I used are quite droopy. I think if you omit the zipper edging from the collar, the resulting collar would be quite droopy. With the zipper, the Dritz Wonder Tape (two layers embedded in the seam), and the double row of top-stitching - the collar has a lot of body, almost as if it were wired. I really like this effect.

I will say that I like the first top better. I spent more time auditioning the fabrics for that one. If I'd taken more time, I would have switched up the fabrics in the second top. I also prefer the collar of the first top, which is made as the pattern is designed.

You know the worst part of this? The worst part is that my big bag of fabric scraps looks exactly the same. Not one bit smaller. On my next Teagarden project, I may have to move the scraps into a leaf sized garbage bag.

More Pictures

Teagarden T Number 13. This rayon/lycra is from Mood Fabrics. In the spirit of full disclosure, I have not yet hemmed the bottom. I will sew it by hand.

I was dreadfully overdue for a cut and color. I took this picture just as I walked out of the beauty school.

Loved this graffiti across the street.

I said I loved this graffiti! I had to stand under a truck on stilts to take this picture. I kept wondering if the guys in the garage would shoo me away, but I was quick. :)

DD2 turned 17 this week. All she wanted as her treat were Devils Food cupcakes with chocolate buttercream frosting. I am getting so tired of Devils Food cake, which is all either kid wants for her birthday. DD1 usually prefers it as a 3-layer cake. DD2 also requested a treat I made when they were little. I learned this from my mother, who would put the leftover frosting inside of graham crackers and pop them into the freezer for a quick treat. In this case, I doubled the batch of frosting to accommodate the large batch of graham cracker "cookies".

I am officially the World's Worst Gift wrapper. Just in case you don't believe me, this is one of my better efforts. I used Winnie the Pooh wrapping paper that has been in my stash for, probably, 10 years, back when my kids were young. I've often been known to hold an unwrapped gift behind my back and to say "Pick a hand." ;)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Wet Felting Class - A Polka Dot Purse

Oh dear, you can tell I'm a bit under the weather here.

Last Friday I took the day off work and attended a wet felting class at a friend's house. The teacher, Judith Colvin of Bitterroot Fiber Arts Studio, was visiting from Montana. I had done some wet felting years ago, but it was more on the order of felted soaps, and felted Easter eggs. I had never made anything that required templates and water not neatly contained in a bowl.

I'd always found the idea of water everywhere off-putting, but, in fact it really was not bad at all. I did not bring an apron (don't own one) and I brought a change of clothing, but did not need it.

The purpose of this class was to make a pillow sham but Judith kindly allowed me to make a purse. (I dallied before signing up and the purse class was filled.)

It was a lot of fun! But, wow, after hours of felting, I was feeling it in my lower back. Wet felting is not for sissies. In fact, the reason I gave it up years ago was because it inflamed the tendonitis in my wrist.

The following pictures are from Judith's blog.

Most everyone made a pillow sham, but I made a purse. Judith, our fearless leader, is on the far right.

Felting away...

Originally, I was going to add some embroidery, but now I'm not so sure it's a good idea. I went a little nuts with the pre-felt embellishments. This is what I mean when I say I'm not that artistic. ;)

If Judith visits again next year I just may take her Nuno Scarf class. If you live near Montana, I highly recommend her classes! (She also has an Etsy shop - the link is on her blog.)

Superbowl Sunday

I hope everyone is having a nice weekend and Superbowl Sunday. I have been fighting off a cold and am a bit draggy. I am moving very slowly, but I do have a couple easy projects in the works. I also did a little organizing of my clothes. I now have a shelf of Teagarden T's. I counted 13 of those, but might have missed one or two in the laundry. ;)