Friday, April 27, 2012

Burda 3254 - Striped Top

One of my sewing pals was recently de-stashing her patterns and this one called to me. It's an OOP Burda envelope pattern — my suspicion is that it's long out of print, but I'm not sure. I love how the stripe chevrons all over the place — CF, CB, above the sleeve, below the sleeve. I made a shortened version of view B.

Based on the desired finished size I wanted (4" negative ease at the bust), I made the size 16. The original pattern is designed for woven fabrics, but of course I wanted to use this knit fabric from Marcy Tilton. I added 1" length to the front to accommodate needing a longer length for the bust.

Before making the stripe version, I tested it out in another knit from Fabrix. This is another print that I wasn't that crazy about, but I really loved the quality and price of the fabric at $2.39 a yard. I did not cut this version out on the bias, and I did cut it at full length. It was too long, so I chopped off about 8". Then it was too short, so I added a little flange to increase the length.

Test version. I cut off a bit too much, so I added a flange.

I also shortened the sleeves 1-1/4" and shaved off the shoulder "bump" which was too far out from my natural shoulder.

Despite making the test version, the stripe version, cut on the bias, is a bit snug. Before cutting, I tested the stretch of the bias and it seemed ok, but I guess it was a bit less stretchy than the test fabric. I cut the stripe version 2" longer than the test version (before adding the flange).

For the test version, I cut a 1-1/4" strip for the neck binding and sewed it with a 1/4" seam. For the stripe version, I cut a 1-1/2" strip on the cross grain and sewed it with a 1/4" seam.

For both tops, I hemmed the bottoms and the sleeves with 1/2" Steam-a-Seam 2 Lite.

More Pictures

Giveaway Winner

And the winner is... Laura SJ!

I have never seen the random number generator actually generate a number at the end of the range before, Lucky #1!

Laura, please shoot me an email - my address is in my profile. If you do not want the CD, just let me know and I'll roll again.

Happy Friday, everyone. It looks like my weekend will have wonderful weather, and a couple activities, so sewing will be sparse.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

New Spring Vogues - Hurry Hurry for Sale!

Vogue 1309 - Issey Miyake

The spring Vogues were released this afternoon. Today is the last day of the 4-day Vogue, Butterick, and McCalls sale. If you want to buy any of the new Vogues at the sale price, you have a few more hours!

Here are a few I like. I am dashing this post off quickly, due to the timing, but I think you'll find my picks to be fairly predictable. For example, I like the Issey Miyake top shown above, but I don't think it would look good on me.

Love this Koos bag, Vogue 1311. So fun!

This Very Easy Vogue 8819 vest/jacket has interesting possibilities, especially sewn with a striped fabric.

This Marcy Tilton dress is very cute. I'm not much for dresses, but this one I really like. Vogue 8813.

This Katharine Tilton top has some nice variations. I especially like that some of the views are a twist on the princess seam.

Another interesting dress, this one from Sandra Betzina. Too bad I so rarely wear dresses. For this one, I'd add sleeves. Vogue 1297.

Here are Sandra Betzina's take on the harem pant. The very wide legged pant is pleated into a front yoke. The back is less full. You can leave the hem wide or sew them into a band. I like these. Vogue 1307.

Another great Marcy Tilton bag. Vogue 8823.

I'm not buying as many patterns these days, but I'm going to go make an order. Just 5 or 6 patterns. So long as I do it before the sale ends tonight. ;)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Busty Post, Bra Making Kits, and Miscellany

Several heart sculptures are located in different areas of San Francisco — a reference to the song, "I Left my Heart in San Francisco." Union Square features this sculpture with flames shooting from eyeballs. I love it, but have no idea what it means.

Several things I wanted to mention.

Uber Busty Post

Kathy F noticed that I had the name of the Palmer Pletsch fitting book wrong on the Uber Busty post. I've corrected it. She also noticed that it was in the second edition of the book that the Y-dart was introduced. I added that info to the post as well. Thanks, Kathy F!

Kathy also asked me to clarify how I "convert the dart to a curve" in knits. So I pulled out some patterns and took pictures. I added a section, Pictures of Alterations, to the original post.

The results are in: Folks love having a response to their comments. I will do that from time to time. I'll just get over any minor aversion I have to the inflated statistics on the comment count. ;)

I added a new header called Negative Ease with another picture and a bit more text.

Finally, I added a TOC to the beginning of the post, which is now quite long!

Bra Making Kits

I have zero interest in making bras. It is great for those who are less gravitationally challenged, but my lap dusters require serious architecture. I favor La Mystere bras, which feature molded cups and are up to the challenge of my physiology.

However, if you like to sew your own bras, you might be interested in this opportunity. I learned about it from Don McCunn's yahoo group.

Would you like to buy fabric from a dyer who sells to Victoria Secret? Here is what Don says (printed with permission):

I have linked up with a specialized dying service that dyes all the components required to make a bra. Basically their business is dying for manufacturers such as Victoria Secret, etc.

The last year or so they have also been offering custom dyed bra kits to consumers. They have been trying different ways to offer this service which to the best of my knowledge is unique. The market for this service is not huge. But Craig, the owner, is not giving up on us one at a time bra makers.

I corresponded with him recently when I got a notice he is planning a new dye lot. The way it works is you order in advance so he knows how much to dye, then he dyes and ships out these individual orders. He tells me he is planning to do this twice a year. So if you want some colorful fabric to make bras, now is the time to order. Specifically before May 1st. The current color offering includes the following:

  • Light Turquoise
  • Marina Blue
  • Lavender
  • Camel
  • Rum Raisin
  • Sky Blue
  • Baby Pink
  • Strawberry Pink
  • Black
  • White

For more information and to order, use the link below.

Bra Making Kits

Note that if you want to order extra yardage to make matching panties or slip, you probably can, but talk to Craig.

Sewing with Knits: Ponte

I have received some emails that have mentioned sewing knits for the first time. I want to say that if you are nervous about sewing knits, I highly recommend that you start with the easiest of knits: ponte.

Ponte is a double knit made from a blend of fibers - usually rayon, poly, nylon, lycra. Quality of ponte varies enormously. I have found that ponte high in polyester content tends to pill, so I prefer my ponte to have little-to-no polyester. Some pontes are beefy and very stable (ie. they do not stretch much), so they will need more pattern ease and are well suited to pants. Other pontes can be lighter weight and drapey. For example, the Sophia brand of ponte tends to have more drape and would be good for a top or dress. I tend to favor the pontes that are higher in rayon — they have a nicer feel and drape.

Eileen Fisher, for example, uses a lot of ponte in her line. Start reading garment labels to see what kind of ponte you prefer - note that the labels won't say ponte, but you can recognize the double knit and read the blend of fibers on the label.

I have had very good luck with the ponte fabrics sold by Emma One Sock. They are expensive, yes, but the quality is fabulous. You can't necessarily judge ponte by the price. I have bought expensive ponte that pilled like crazy and ran at the seams. I bought very inexpensive black ponte at Fabrix that has worked well for me. (They do not have any currently and, by the way, if you ask them for ponte, they won't know what you are talking about. Think of it as a doubleknit made from synthetic fibers. Also, when they had it, it was only in black.)

When I re-sold some of my Fabrix ponte to a sewing friend, it pilled like crazy for her. I can't explain it because I'm very hard on my ponte - I always throw it into the dryer. Why did it pill for her and not for me? I have no idea. I only charged her the price I paid, $2.39 per yard, so I didn't feel too badly. ;)

I find that I can successfully use ponte in patterns that call for wovens or stretch wovens. It travels, and washes, well, except in those cases when you have the pilling type.

Unrelated to Sewing: Music

Have you heard of the music group, Walk off the Earth? Very fun musicians and performance artists, they became well known when their cover of Goyte's song Someone That I Used to Know went viral on youtube:

I just love the bearded dude!

I also love the instrument switching they do:

And here:

They sometimes play unusual instruments (they now have more money for production):

They have a lot more videos on youtube and I spent several insomniac hours watching them. Yes, a bit obsessed. In fact, I plan to create a Pandora stream around these guys. ;)

I bought tickets to see them on their upcoming tour. I'm taking DD1 and DD2 (who also plays several instruments, such as piano and ukulele). These impressive musicians write their own music as well as perform covers. They are performing in a small venue - an SF club - and I hear that their shows are visually interesting and include audience involvement. Plus, the tickets were dirt cheap!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Au Bonheur Pants with Seaming and GIVEAWAY

I wanted to thank everyone for their enthusiastic response to my FBA in Knits post. I tried something new this time. I responded to every comment. I am curious. Did you like that? Or did you not care? It felt a little weird to see so many of my own comments - a little self indulgent, like maybe I was trying to inflate the number of responses. Let me know what you think, because I'm not sure that I would do that again.

Let me tell you the story about this pattern. I didn't see it's potential and buy it before Au Bonheurs went out of business last August. Several months later, when Luz Clara spent two weeks in Paris, she visited the store that sells Au Bonheur patterns and found they had some left in their drawers. She very kindly offered to look for any I wanted, but I still didn't realize I wanted this pattern. Instead, I asked her to look for a top pattern, which she found and brought back. Thanks again, Luz Clara!

After Luz Clara returned from Paris, and after I had made the Au Bonheur jeans, I realized I wanted this pattern. However, I knew no one in Paris and none of my stateside friends had purchased it either. I thought, oh well, maybe it will make its way to me some day.

Fast forward to a few months ago. One of my sewing pals, Lynn CC (of the Koos scarf), wanted the jeans pattern and did have a friend living in France. She asked this friend to visit the store, sometime before Christmas, and try to locate the jeans pattern. This friend couldn't find the jeans pattern, but found "another pattern with interesting seaming" and sent it back to the US. When Lynn told me this, I was holding my breath, hoping it would be the pattern — Lynn had no idea until it arrived. It was! She very kindly let me trace off my size at our recent retreat. Thanks so much, Lynn!

This is an interesting design. It has back pockets, with a flap. The "circle" you see on the right hip is not a pocket. It's an inset circle. They sewed a button into the middle of it as a decorative detail. It features jodhpurs-like insets on the inside leg, front and back. It has a waist flap, which I immediately knew I would not use. It has a fly front zipper, with cool button flap on top. (I love this feature, but left it off my test pants.) It has a contoured waistband.

I traced off a size 42. The same size I used (that fit so well) in the jeans pattern. I did made a few changes: I used a rectangular waistband with elastic. I left off the zipper, back pockets, and button flap front. Since I didn't use the button flap front, I left off the decorative button on the inset circle. The pants are designed for a woven, but I used a stretch woven. In fact, this is a wool-blend, washable, stretch woven from Fabrix that I have now used for 3 or 4 pair of pants. This fabulous fabric cost me $3 per yard and is perfect for pattern testing. Surprisingly, I did not have to increase the waist or shorten the leg.

The most interesting detail is the inset circle. This immediately reminded me of the Holey Moley technique that Marcy Tilton shows in her Inspiration Paris CD. This is one of my favorite Marcy CDs, so I popped the video in my Mac to review. I did use her technique, very successfully. Twice! (Yes, I had a little oopsie.)

Look at the beauteous circle! (OK, it's more of an oval.) But, isn't it beauteous?!!
But... WAIT! Oh no! I sewed the two fronts together! And cut a circle out of the seam. Pfffft. At least I had more fabric and could recut the fronts.

I do like these pants. I think the crotch fit could be tweaked a bit, and the leg is rather wide, but I plan to wear these for awhile before I decide if I will make them again as-is. If I do, I plan to use a contrasting topstitching thread to show up the details, and also to include the button flap.


Now we come to the giveaway! This is another one of those ironic coincidences. Just last week a friend sent me a generous box of goodies. In the package, she included the Inspiration Paris CD! Turns out she had an extra and thought I might like it.

Since I already have one, I'm offering it as a giveaway. (I first obtained her permission.) The inset circle technique is a good one, but I also often refer to the included video on sewing a separating zipper in a lined jacket. There is also an interesting video on how Marcy packs when she goes to Paris.

If you would like this CD, leave a comment on this post. If you post anonymously, make sure to include identifying information of some kind. I'll generate a random number and post the winner sometime next week. This drawing is open to anyone, including my international sewing sisters. :)

If you want to leave a comment, but are not interested in the CD, that's fine - just mention that in the comment.

Another thing I wanted to mention. I never had trouble watching the videos on this CD when I was using the Leopard operating system on my Mac. However, when I tried to watch it on Lion, it would not play the videos, though I could view the rest of the material. To workaround this problem, I copied the PDF file to my hard drive and was able to watch it there — the videos are embedded in the PDF file. I talked to Marcy and David Page Coffin, and it seems that I might be an anomaly. I believe the problem is with Adobe Reader and not the CD itself, but I wanted to mention the workaround in case you experience this.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

FBAs in Knits - Advice for the Uber Busty


Quick links:

This post has been a long time coming. I mean, it's pretty hard to avoid the fact that I am mostly boobs. My current bras (I have three in varying states of decay) are 36G... and they are actually too small, purchased when I weighed 20 pounds less. When I sit cross legged and bra-less... well you can imagine the rest.

When I was nursing my babies (a very difficult challenge for reasons I won't go into on the blog), one of my major personal milestones was when the baby's head would finally grow larger than my breast, and it took months. TMI? Sorry. :)

Patterns with Built-in Bust Darts

Before I proceed, I want to put something out there. I really dislike patterns that come with bust sizing. This might surprise you. I dislike them for two reasons: First, the cup size range offered usually ends at D and is nowhere near big enough to fit me. Second, the dart is completely in the wrong place. It is much easier to start from scratch and add a bust dart than to move and enlarge one. I just had to say it, because I have been told by more than one pattern designer, that their patterns "just work".

Generally these pattern designers have a petite (or regular sized) bust.

Are You Uber Busty?

My full bust measurement is 10 inches larger than my waist and 12 inches larger than my hips. So, yes, I have a unique fitting challenge. In fact, I don't consider a D, or even a DD cup, to be large. Of course, that is a large bust, but I have an uber large bust. Are you busty? Or uber busty? Once you can no longer easily buy a bra in Nordstroms without special ordering and are looking at cup sizes like G, H and I, you have entered uber busty territory.

But doesn't everyone have fitting challenges? Yes, I am quite limited in the styles I can wear up top. But isn't everyone limited in the styles they can wear? Every so often I truly yearn to wear a design that I know is totally impossible, but that is hardly unique either. When this happens, I whinge for a minute and then I remind myself that I can wear all sorts of great pants styles and move on. Women who are uber short, uber tall, uber small busted, highly asymmetric, all have fitting difficulties.

Despite this fact, I don't post tutorials on how to fit my bust. This is for a couple reasons:

  • There are many resources available that already cover this topic. My favorites are:
    • Fit for Real People, 2nd Edition, a book by Palmer/Pletsch. (The second edition describes the Y-dart.) This excellent book on fitting is often referred to as FFRP.
    • Full Busted, a DVD by Palmer/Pletsch.
    • Debbie Cook has some good tutorials on her blog, Stitches and Seams.
  • Even where I have gathered special knowledge on fitting my own bust, I am reluctant to post exactly how I deal with it. Maybe this is cowardly, but it's partly because I don't want flak about my approach being "wrong". And, every situation can vary. You have to learn the particularities of your figure — become the master of fitting your body. I am not great at fitting patterns. I am great at fitting patterns to me.

So, I tell you, I have approaches that work for me: an uber busty, but hipless wonder. My measurements are, pretty much, 50-40-38. One of the big reasons I started my blog, over two years ago, is because the uber busty is a body type that one doesn't see much, outside of porn stars or Dolly Parton, and I wanted to represent this segment of sewists.

Also, when the boobage is fake, the fit might be a challenge, but it's a slightly different challenge. Fake uber boobs are generally much higher up on the body - I always have to lower the bust point on a pattern by 2", maybe more. Women with fake uber boobs usually have slim upper arms and a strong shoulder line. I often have to enlarge the arm width on patterns, especially Style Arc or Jalie, which are drafted for a slim arm — the Palmer Pletsch book has the easy alteration for that. I also usually have to move the shoulder in by a couple inches, even on raglan styles or the shoulder "bump" is a couple inches down my sleeve. (Though I don't usually have to fiddle with the shoulder fit in Style Arc patterns, they are drafted to be much closer to my actual body. Many sewists of varying sizes comment that they love how Style Arc patterns fit through the upper chest and armscye.)

Altering a Pattern for Woven Fabrics to fit the Uber Busty

As I mentioned, there is a lot of information available on how to add a bust dart to a pattern for woven fabrics. I favor the Y-dart (covered in the Palmer Pletsch book), which is good for an uber bust. I routinely sew a size 18 or 20 (based on my upper bust measurement) in the Big 4 and add a 3" dart, for a total of 6" of width. Despite this, I always sew the darts and side seams last in a garment. This gives me an opportunity to place the dart exactly where it should go on the body — it can vary for each project. Once the dart is sewn I then pin the side seams, try the garment on, make any tweaks, and then complete the side seams — it is one of the last steps for me. So, I rarely follow the construction order given by a pattern, which usually has you sew the darts first thing. This is why my garments fit as well as they do (not that there isn't room for improvement...).

Another thing I do when altering a pattern (and I have mentioned this in several posts) is that, before adding the bust dart, I chop the pattern in half approximately at the waist. This is because my hips are so much smaller than my bust and much smaller than a size 18 pattern. Before I figured this out, the tops I made were generally tents. So I add the dart to the top half of the pattern, and then re-attach the bottom and kind of merge them together at the side seam. This can create a strange pattern shape and is another reason I always fit the side seams last in the garment - so I can tweak.

To give you a better idea of what I am talking about, in this post on the Liberty top, I show two versions that I made. The first version uses a standard FBA, extending to the hem of the garment. The resulting top has a tent-like, unflattering fit. The second top, uses my modified approach and creates a much better fitting garment. The following images are borrowed from that post:

Both versions.
Left: Size Large with standard 2" FBA. Right: Size Medium, sliced at waist, 3" Y-shaped FBA on top, bottom re-attached, and side seam merged.
Result: Much better fit through the hips.

Another way to prevent the "tent" effect, rather than chop the pattern at the waist, is to sew fisheye darts from the bust to the hem. You might be wondering why I do not make more liberal use of the fisheye dart. However, I am not a fan of this approach. It works fine if you have a relatively small belly, but I do not. This technique can work well for a conventional blouse, and I have used it once or twice in that situation, but it does not work well for the more unusual styles I favor. I mean, can you imagine the Sewing Workshop Liberty top with fisheye darts? I don't think so. If your pattern is asymmetric, or has an unusually seamed hem, a fisheye dart is not likely to work.

Altering a Pattern for Knit Fabrics to fit the Uber Busty

I know that knits intimidate many sewists, and I don't really get that. At the age of 11, in 1970, my mother (an amazing sewist and an A-cup wonder who didn't get how to fit my body at all when it suddenly exploded at age 16) signed me up to take a sewing class at a local Stretch and Sew store.

Back then, there was no such thing as lycra. Imagine that! Knits were generally cotton interlock, qiana (a nylon fabric somewhat similar to the ITY and slinky poly knits you see today, except less breathable), or wool double knits. Stretch and Sew was the bastion of cotton interlock, having built their empire on that particular form of knit, which is a very stable, but not highly stretchy, doubleknit.

So, I have been sewing with knits for a long time. It's true that they require some light handling and a good machine, but I find them to be, in most cases, a delight to sew.

While there are many resources out there for bust darts, there is much less information available that specifically deals with knits. So, how do I handle an FBA in a knit? Well, it depends.

The first question you must ask yourself is, what kind of knit are you using? Is it a stable knit with some heft to it, such as a ponte? A wool double knit? A cotton interlock? These fabrics can handle a standard dart. Though I suggest you might be happiest with a dart that extends into the armscye, rather than the side seam. It will be shorter, less visible, and give a superior fit.

These kinds of knits are easy to sew because they are beefy and stable. For a knit like this, you may want zero ease in the finished garment. In other words, if your bust is 50", you might want the finished garment to be 50": 50" (garment) - 50" (body) = 0" (ease), called zero ease. This will skim your bust without tugging at it and it can look nice. But, to be sure, find a garment in your closet, or at the store (you DO carry a tape measure in your purse, don't you???), using a similar knit that fits the way you like and measure the bust. These days, clothing is more fitted and you might find that a garment that is larger than your bust is too loose. I know I do.

Or, are you sewing one of the flimsier, floatier, highly stretchy, knits such as a rayon- (or bamboo-) lycra jersey, a mesh knit, or a a slippery ITY polyester knit? You probably will not be happy with a dart in a knit like this. It is likely to be wiggly and draw attention where you don't want it. In this sort of garment, I add the FBA, but I don't sew the dart. I convert the point of the dart to a curve, and ease the fullness in at the side seam.

Negative Ease

In a garment made from a stretchy knit, I like to use negative ease. For me, 4" of negative ease is just perfect. For a 50" bust, I would fit the final garment to be 46": 46" (garment) - 50" (body) = -4" (ease), or 4 inches of negative ease. A bit of negative ease creates a garment that gently cups the bust, and the fabric below the bust comes "in" a bit, but doesn't hug the belly. The resulting fit is very flattering. To determine the amount of negative ease that you prefer, measure a garment made from a fabric with similar stretchiness and fits the way you like.

(By the way, when the garment measurement is larger than the body measurement, that is not called "positive ease", it is just called ease. Ease comes in two forms: wearing ease and design ease. Wearing ease is how much ease do you need to comfortably wear a garment. Design ease is purely aesthetic — how much ease do you add to create the design line you want?)

For example, here is a top I made recently and posted here that has 4 inches of negative ease:

But don't forget that the amount of negative ease varies according to the stretch of the fabric. In this garment, posted in Sweatshirt Mashup - Jalie and Au Bonheur, I used a less stretchy fleece but forgot that it would need more ease. I used 4" negative ease and the result is a bit hoochie mama:

When adding a dart to a pattern for knits, I sometimes do not need much width to be added to the pattern at all because I do prefer negative ease. In this situation, I shortcut the alteration a bit. Rather than a normal FBA, which adds both width and length, I add length only: I slice the pattern horizontally at the bust point, lower the bottom part of the pattern by an inch or so, and possibly curve the outer seam at the bustline just a tad - but not too much! This adds the length I need to go up and over the bust, which you still need unless you like your front hemline to be too short.

Note: Remember, when you are adding a bust dart of any kind, that you need to add length, and not just width. This is because, your bust is a mountain and not a rainbow. (And, yes, I made this phrase up. :) )

When constructing the garment, and I am pinning the side seams, I ease the fullness in at the bust level. In other words, I start pinning from the hem so that the front and back are one to one; in the few inches at the top of the side seam, the front seam is longer than the back and I leave the fullness alone — I do not gather it. When stitching at the machine, I have one hand above the presser foot and one below, and I pull the seam so that they ease together. This is very easy because this kind of knit is stretchy. In the finished side seam, you will see slight puckering on the front side, but it works out fine on the body.

Pictures of Alterations

I have been asked for clarification of some of my pattern alterations. I pulled a few patterns and took pictures. These alterations were made on my Style Arc patterns.

Seriously, I LOVE the fit I get from Style Arc and I use these patterns as my TnT (Tried and True) patterns and transfer the fit to other (non-Style Arc) patterns. Yes, shipping from Australia is expensive, but it's the same for our Aussie sewing sisters who order from the U.S. - maybe we need to develop Aussie sewing buddies so we can buy things for each other... And, yes, these patterns come in one size only. But I find that to be a treat - to just cut out the pattern on the lines and go.

The Debra Zebra top with a Y-dart alteration. (The Y-dart is shown in Fit For Real People, 2nd edition.) I have chopped off the bottom of the pattern at the waist and reattached after the FBA is complete. I smoothed the bust dart into a curve - I do not sew it as a dart, but ease (not gather) the fullness in at the side seam. Note that I further tweak the fit in the garment stage, on my body, so this is just a starting point.

Debra Zebra sleeve with the alteration to widen the upper sleeve. This is also explained in the Fit For Real People book.

Adele top with FBA. In this case, the width of the top at the bust is correct, given that I want 4" of negative ease. However, I still need more fabric to go up and over my bust, so I add to the length only.

Breast Reduction - Yay or Nay

Every so often, someone will ask me about breast reduction surgery. Often, it is from a well meaning person who has herself had breast reduction surgery and has been very happy with the results. While that's fine, I have never seriously considered this for several reasons. One, it is expensive. Yes, it can be covered by insurance if you have back problems, but, except for a few notable times in my 20s and 30s, I have never had back problems. I stand fairly straight and my back is generally fine.

Two, I am a complete weenie about surgery. Hate it. Don't want it. Avoid it.

And three, I like my bust. Not in the "I'm proud of my huge boobage" sort of way, but in the "Yes, I have big boobs and it would be convenient if they weren't quite so large, but they very nicely hide my enormous belly" sort of way. Seriously, if I magically woke up tomorrow with a C or D cup size, all you would notice is belly, and I far prefer a dominant bust over a dominant belly.

Besides, my kids, when young, really enjoyed my natural pillows, or Wilma and Betty, as we referred to them. ;)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Style Arc Adele #2 and Pacific Grove Wrapup

Despite my recent posts, I haven't actually sewn in several weeks. At least not any garments. I haven't had energy or enthusiasm for sewing and I've not worried about it much — I certainly have enough clothes. ;)

I don't love the lack of mojo, but I know how these things ebb and flow and I've gotten other things done... like taxes... and playing brain-cell-promoting games on my iPhone (Whirly Word is great, btw)... and editing essays for my college-bound kid... and appliance shopping... and meditating...

Besides, my beloved Bernina died right after the sewing retreat. I took it in for service and picked it up a week ago. (I highly highly recommend Ray's Sewing Center for service and repair. The one-hour drive from SF to San Jose is totally worth it.)

I finally tried my machine last night and, AY CARUMBA! It sews like a dream! Seriously, they will have to pry my Bernina 930 (purchased by my mom in 1986, a couple years before she passed) out of my cold, dead hands. I also really like my backup machine, a small and lightweight, but fully featured Janome Gem 760 that I bought gently used, but my heart sings for my Bernina 930. I am very lucky to have two fabulous machines — it's ironic that I have never bought a brand new sewing machine in my life.

Then, last night, I felt the need to celebrate Friday by whipping up a quick top. I first made the Style Arc Adele last November. I like that one but wanted to try making a shorter version because I really do prefer shorter tops. I folded 4" of length out of the front and back near the waistline: I wanted to preserve the shaping at the hem.

The fabric is a rayon lycra from Fabrix. To be honest, I was not that attracted to the print, but the fabric is high quality, amazingly soft, with killer drape, and only $4 a yard, so I couldn't resist buying a couple yards. I often hem knits by hand, but this time I used Steam a Seam Lite 2 and topstitching — my other favorite method.

For the neckline, I decided to make a very narrow binding. I cut a 1" strip, folded in half, measured the length using the Veblen method, and sewed it with a 1/4" seam. The finished binding, which I top-stitched, is 1/4" wide. This has a very RTW look.

This picture looks a little weird because it was taken at night, without flash, using incandescent lighting.

I do like this top. I certainly like the shorter length and I know I will get more wear out of this than the longer one. The top is designed to be loose and floaty around the hem and the jury is still out for me. The fabric does have a wonderful swirly drape, but I usually prefer the hem of my tops to skim my hips, my narrowest measurement. Feel free to weigh in on this in the comments section.

I am not sure what I will work on next, and don't want to jinx it by telling, but I hope to get more sewing done this weekend. I am also taking DD2 shopping today, which I am really looking forward to.

I hope you all have a great weekend and thanks for stopping by!

Oh, but first, I have a few pics from my recent trip to Pacific Grove to share. I took a couple walks while there, one by myself and another with Dorothy (from Pattern Review). Several of us also hit up a few shops in Pacific Grove. It's a great town — a more subdued, smaller version of its flashy neighbor, Carmel.

Dorothy models some very fashionable eyewear at one of Pacific Grove's most whimsical stores, Tessuti Zoo, as Rita looks on.


Besides the purchased goods they offer, Tessuti Zoo also makes fabric items for sale. Here is an upholstered chair, in their back room. You can catch a glimpse of their fabric stash (not for sale) where they produce the sewn items, which range from dolls, to wall hangings, to kids clothing, to upholstered pieces. It's a really fun store and worth seeking out.

More whimsical items made by the folks at Tessuti Zoo.

A scarf purchased from the Pacific Grove store, Marita's. Marita's mother, an eldery woman living in Germany, knits up a squillion scarves for her daughter's store. I like how she covers plastic rings with the yarn and uses them to end the scarf.

The ocean at Pacific Grove.

Dorothy and I, enjoying the windswept beauty. That woman is a fast walker! I love her black felted scarf with ruffly lime green edges.

Friday, April 13, 2012

A Meetup with Luz Clara!

The sewers in their native habitat, Fabrix

Luz Clara, a blog follower and friend from Stitcher's Guild, was in town recently. Actually, she was in town last summer and we hoped to meet up, but it was the first week in my job of 12 years where I had to go into work every day for long hours, so it didn't work out. I was determined that we should make it work this time around! In fact, both daughters had asked separately if they could get together with me the same day, but I said no!!

We met for lunch at Squat and Gobble, one of my favorite local eateries. After a long, leisurely lunch (she is so easy to talk to!), we headed to Fabrix. I hadn't been there in a couple months and we both found a tidbit or two, as you can see from our bags in the top photo.

Afterward, we decided to visit Japantown. I hadn't visited the bookstore, Kinokuniya, in quite a while — they have a very good sewing and craft section. I bought one of the latest Japanese sewing magazines as well as a book on Shibori dyeing. In fact, the skirt I wore is a version of shibori. I did a little shibori dying about 20 years ago and would love to try it again — particularly now that I have a new clothes dryer and can do my own laundry once more.

Luz Clara also found a book and then we visited the incredibly cute Kunikuniya stationary store. For lunch I had a delicious Greek Crepe, but we both decided that we needed a Japanese ice cream crepe from Sophie's Crepes for dessert. The freshly made crepe was still warm and filled with Mocha Java chip ice cream. Yummmmm.... I really blew my dairy-free, gluten-free, lifestyle that day. ;)

It was so much fun to hang with Luz Clara! She is a fascinating person who makes jewelry, speaks Spanish and American sign language, and is incredibly well traveled — we talked for hours. She gifted me with a gorgeous piece of wool challis from Paris as well as a very cute medal from a Paris flea market. Thanks so much, Luz Clara, and I hope we get to do it again!

The Garment Formerly Known as Tablecloth Skirt

In early February, Rhonda (of Rhonda's Creative Life) posted a picture of a piece of fabric that a friend had gifted to her. This friend had purchased the fabric in Africa — it was a cotton jacquard that had been tie dyed with indigo and kola nut dyes. I drooled all over it, and Rhonda generously gifted it to me.

The first thing to do was to follow the instructions on the handwritten label and give the fabric a vinegar soak to set the dye. I used the bathtub and an entire bottle of white vinegar to give the fabric two soakings. What surprised me was that the water turned quite brown, both times — I had expected the indigo blue to bleed, but it was the kola nut brown. After two soakings, each followed by a thorough rinsing, I machine washed and dried the fabric. Afterward, I thought the fabric looked very much the same as before, the blues and browns didn't visibly change, so it truly was "extra" dye remaining in the fabric.

Rhonda approved of my idea of sewing the fabric into my tablecloth skirt. In fact, several weeks ago she asked me to write a guest post on her blog about the skirt for Fabulous Free Pattern Friday, which was posted today.

For this version of the skirt, I cut the center square a bit larger, so the resulting rectangles are a bit more narrow. The larger the center square, the fuller the skirt and the larger the hemline. The corners are less pronounced.

I am really going to enjoy wearing this version of the skirt, so many thanks again for this thoughtful gift, Rhonda! Again, check out Rhonda's blog for my guest post with details on how to sew the garment-formerly-known-as-the-tablecloth-skirt. (Too many people assume that this skirt is made from a tablecloth, so I do regret that name.)

More Pictures