Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Forgive me, Rodgers and Hammerstein!

(Lyrics by Shams)

Issey Miyake and Koos Van den Akker,
Japanese textiles and felted alpaca,
Int'resting zippers, bizarre fastenings,
These are a few of my favorite things!

When my work bites! When the cat screams!
When I'm feeling baaad!
I simply rev up my sewing machine,
And then I don't feel soo saaaaaad!!!

This popped into my head while the Olympics were on. Oy. Sometimes I have no idea what goes on in there.

Look what I was playing with last night.

I think I'll go with the black, though the green has its merits. But black, I think.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

What the Heck, Vogue?

I posted yesterday about the new Vogues. I was in a big hurry and wanted to post while the sale was still active.

Now that the rush is over, here are some musings.

For some time now, sewists in the blogsphere and participating on forums have been wondering what is up with the poses Vogue is using to feature their new patterns. The image at the top of the post was taken from their new patterns page. It has been pointed out, quite rightly, that it is reminiscent of the wall of a high rise building. Or maybe a Top Model version of Celebrity Bingo. A model "shadowbox", as it were.

For example, let's look at the model in the third square on the top row.

Is she going to the bathroom? Is she channeling a samurai? Or is she hiding freakishly fat knees? Inquiring minds want to know.

The same dress, in a different fabric:

So... crouching is possible in this dress? Good to know!

This dress is actually the Lynn Mizono dress, Vogue 1312. My Tablecloth skirt was inspired by the RTW version of dress, which I still haven't seen in person. It will be interesting to compare the Vogue pattern to my version.

How about the second woman in the second row:

Cat burglar?

This is a Chado Ralph Rucci dress. I like this dress very much. The seaming is lost in the red fabric, but if you study the line drawings, you will see how interesting it is.

How about the styling of this Marcy Tilton bag?

Muriel, Costco is having a sale on leaves today!

Thanks, Hilary! But I'm good.

Shoot, I need a bigger bag!

I like the look of this bag very much, even if it won't hold my jumbo leaf.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Fall Vogues have Dropped - and on sale!

Vogue 1312

The fall Vogues are out! And the BMV sale is on through the end of the day so hurry hurry!

For me, the most notable pattern is Lynn Mizono's dress. It's the "Tablecloth skirt" in dress form! Yay! This was her original design, and I'm glad she's made it available.

I just ordered a few sale patterns, so I will wait for now. But go check them out! Marcy Tilton, Katherine Tilton, and Sandra Betzina all have new offerings.

I have some demands on my finances, so I've decided to sell a few things. In fact, I just posted my first ebay sale ever. If you are interested, check out the Blue Nuno Silk and Merino Wool Felted Jacket.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

More on the Koos Bag and Thoughts on the Creative Process

Empty on the left, loaded with 6 lbs of canned food on the right.

First, I want to thank each of you for your comments on the Koos bag! It really was a fun project, thanks to all those rich home dec samples. I don't know if I've mentioned on the blog that I used to be an avid quilter. After my eldest was born, I made her a baby quilt and there was no turning back. I was obsessively into quilting for several years, until my kids started school, and my projects turned to Waldorf dolls, toys, and kids clothing and costumes.

But calling myself a "quilter" is a bit misleading, as I didn't actually quilt. I tried it once or twice, but didn't enjoy it, especially on the large bed quilts I usually made. What I loved was piecing. I typically sent my quilts out to be quilted, once I realized it was more pain than pleasure. Making the Koos bag brought back the fun of piecing.

Over on Pattern Review, someone asked me how the bag would look if it were carrying a substantial load. Being an obliging sort, I grabbed about 6 pounds of canned food and headed to my backyard. I found the loaded bag to be quite heavy, but tolerable when worn on my shoulder. The photos at the top of the post shows how it looks compared to an empty load.

I think it looks pretty good! It's certainly heavier than I'd ever want it to be.

I made a quick-ish project yesterday. I got all of it done in one day, except for the hem. I'll finish it up today, though I'm not sure if it will get blogged today or some day this week.

Thoughts on the Creative Process

There is something I've been musing about recently. It's that elusive mojo. For the first couple years after I returned to sewing, my mojo was firing on all cylinders. At the time my wardrobe was pretty dire, and there was lost time to make up. It was like uncorking champagne.

But this year, it's been a different story. My mojo comes and goes. Even when it's visiting, it often feels feeble. As a result, I've often found the hardest part of sewing recently is to make a decision on what to make!

I often feel very Hamlet-like in my indecision. I don't "need" much in my wardrobe, so I am sewing for the creative aspect, not because I have no clothes. I have fabric galore. I have patterns. I have ideas. But, still, it can be extremely difficult for me to land on a project. I've spent time musing about why this is and I think there are several things to consider:

  • I want the project to interest me. There needs to be some creative aspect that excites me.
  • Creative ideas don't fall out of the sky every day. Even when an idea does hit me, it may not work. Designers have lots of failures, that's part of the creative process. And, no doubt, the bigger the designer, the bigger the risk, and the greater the chance of failure. All I'm saying is that failure visits us all, whether we admit it publicly, or not. :)
  • As much as I want to, I can't force it. Whenever I try to force the process, I am not happy with the results. It feels labored.

I'm sure everyone is different, but my creative process tends to be:

  • Stroke my fabrics to see if any are speaking to me.
  • Look at patterns. Imagine different fabrics.
  • Look at RTW, mostly online. Look at catalogs, visit stores. (Though usually I am going through this process in the wee hours.)
  • Feel frustration. Repeat first three steps ad infinitum. Or at least for several hours.

Since most of my sewing occurs on the weekends, I like to have my weekend project decided on and ready to go by Friday night. The weekend tends to go better if I can hit the ground running in the morning. It doesn't always work, but that's the goal.

I'd be interested to hear more about your creative process. When you aren't sewing from a wardrobing need, what motivates you?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Vogue 1311 - Koos Bag

When this Koos bag pattern came out in late April, I was smitten. I decided it was just the thing to make now that I am replete with red FabMo fabrics.

Auditioning FabMo samples for the sides and straps. The bag bottom, completed, is underneath.

I hoped it would be a quick project but, like all bags, it took longer than I expected.

This bag has some interesting details. First, it is shaped like a squat cylinder, however the location of the straps means that it falls into a spherical shape when held. Top-stitching on both sides of the circular seams at the top and bottom, flatten the seam allowances and further encourage a spherical shape.

Strap Holes:

You might recall when I made the Koos coat that it had wonderful buttonholes. In fact, I recommended that you buy the pattern, if only for the buttonholes.

The bag uses the same design element, except this time they are used for inserting the ends of the straps.

Strap holes, in process.

One thing I did differently from the pattern: it instructs you to fold the raw edges to the insides of the little squares. To reduce bulk, I mitered those corners.


The pattern calls for fusible hair canvas interfacing. I used fusible fleece. Once I applied the fusible fleece to each piece, I stitched in the ditch along the piecing seams to quilt the fleece to the outside layer. This shouldn't be necessary, but I find that fusible fleece peels off fairly easily.


The fabric I used for the straps is double sided. So I pieced the straps to use both sides. Also, the last few bags/totes I've made have had straps that were too short. So I lengthened these by a bit over 3". I used the fusible fleece inside the straps, as well.


The bag calls for a 16" zipper. I started the project last weekend and I was not in the mood to leave the house for a zipper. My zipper box did not have anything appropriate, when I noticed a white zipper, approx 18" long. This was a nice heavy duty separating zipper with metal teeth and two zipper pulls. I bought it, long ago, for a few cents at Fabrix. It had a white cotton tape.

I decided to paint it. (At first I thought I'd dye it, but I had no red dye and did not want to go out to buy that either.) I bought fabric paints a couple years ago when I was experimenting with silk screening, so I painted the zipper with Metallic Crimson Lumiere paint by Jacquard.

I hung it outside to dry...

steam set it with the iron, and shortened it (from both ends) by approx 2".

I was very happy with the new color. There was some paint on the metal teeth, but most of it seems to have rubbed off already. Lumiere adheres to fabric, but not to metal.


This pattern has two views. I made view A. View B is similar, but has overlays and bias binding covering the edges of the overlays, similar to the recent Koos swing coat pattern.

Pattern pieces are provided for the piecing. I used the provided pattern for the top and bottom of the bag, but I was not satisfied with the 5 pieces provided for the side of the cylinder.

I ended up using 10 pieces for the side, instead of 5.

Note that if you wanted to make this without any piecing, it would be easy to do. They provide pattern pieces for the interfacing and lining that are not pieced, so you could use those for the outside, as well.


View A has no pockets. View B has one pocket. I made two pockets, using the pattern from view B. I like these little pleated pockets. They are sewn to the lining so that they extend over the upper seam that attaches the circle to the side.

I did not have any FabMo lining fabrics long enough for the side, so I pieced together five silk samples, changing the direction of the stripe. Hanging off the ironing board is one of the original silk samples.

I finished the bag last night. It's ridiculous. It's big, like an overnight bag, and I love it! It makes me smile. I just need an overnight invitation to use it. ;)

When I did my photo shoot today of the finished bag, I decided that it resembles a pumpkin, so I plopped it into some plants that resemble pumpkin vines. (I'm informed that these are nasturtiums.)


Recently, I've been checking the Vogue website daily, waiting for the Fall patterns to be revealed. When I opened the site this morning, I saw they are featuring this pattern on the front page.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Vogue 8819 - Pleated Woven Jacket

More pics

I loved this Very Easy Vogue pattern when it came out at the end of April. I immediately ordered it before the BMV sale ended. When it arrived, I was a bit surprised. On the Vogue website, they show the jacket on a live model:

However, when the pattern arrived, there is only a diagram on the envelope:

Strange, no?

Anyway, this pattern went on my short list. I don't have a lot of striped knit fabrics in the stash, and the pattern specifies a knit, so it awaited the perfect fabric.

Meanwhile, some months ago, I ordered a pleated woven fabric from Marcy Tilton. (It's no longer on her site.) This fabric is very interesting. It's reversible - striped on one side, and plaid on the other. Being pleated, it's rather stretchy. However, it's also rather stiff. When I machine washed and dried it, it became even more pleated. I really liked it, but had no idea how to use it, so it marinated.

One day, it occurred to me that I might use the pleated woven for the cardigan. The fabric has lots of ease, due to the pleats, as well as the bias cut. Why not try it? I decided to avoid a dart and take advantage of the bias. The pattern also has a peplum, which can be difficult to fit, so I quickly whipped up a sample garment using black ponte. It needed a few tweaks, but I decided it would work for the pleated woven.

I decided to sew this jacket completely by hand, including felling of the seams so the inside is neatly finished. Sewing a pleated fabric by hand gives you more control of the pleats. It might not have been necessary – I didn't really experiment with sewing the fabric by machine. But I do think that some of the construction would have been much harder by machine. I enjoy hand sewing, and this is a simple garment, but it did take me awhile.

I made the longer version. I cut the pattern out along different size lines: smaller in the shoulder, larger in the bust, and so on.

Alterations and Modifications:

  • Widened the sleeve. This pattern has a fairly narrow sleeve.
  • Narrowed the shoulder.
  • Lengthened the peplum in front to accommodate my bust.
  • For the back neckline, I used the reverse side of the fabric.
  • Eliminated the facings. Instead, I finished the front and hem with rayon grosgrain ribbon from Britex.
  • I didn't have enough fabric for full length sleeves, so I used 3/4 length sleeves and added a contrast band, using the reverse side of the fabric.
  • The jacket is not designed to have a closure, but I added a single button closure. The perfect button is from Britex and the corresponding button loop is a short length of elastic.
  • I had some problems with the armscye. Though I widened the sleeve, I found that the armscye is rather snug. It also hit me strangely on the body. The front was too wide and the back too narrow. It took a fair amount of fiddling to get a reasonable fit at the armscye. I will be wearing this over a shell.
  • Added a patch pocket. I didn't want to distract from the bold graphic design created by the stripes, so I carefully matched the stripes to make the pocket as invisible as possible.
  • When I cut out the bias, I cut the stripes going in a different direction that shown on the pattern.

Vogue arranged the stripes in a diamond shape. My stripes form an X shape.

In back, Vogue arranged the stripes in a V-shape on top and horizontal in the peplum. My stripes are arranged in an A shape on top and vertical in the peplum.


I'm happy with my jacket. In fact, I liked the unusual fabric so much, I went back to Marcy's site and bought some in the blue/gray/cream colorway. I think this one should become a pair of pants!

More Pictures

Worn closed.



Back neck

Hem and front finished with rayon grosgrain ribbon.

Sleeve band detail

Patch pocket