Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Holiday McCalls patterns, retreating... and other stuff

I've been preparing to attend Design Outside the Lines with Diane Ericson and Kathryn Brenne in Ashland, Oregon. I last attended two years ago when Carol Lee Shanks was the guest teacher, and I'm very much looking forward to it! My prep included taking two loads to Goodwill last weekend—I had to clear out my car for the road trip!

(And, shhhh, Margy is keeping me company on the ride!)

I have several items to talk about in this post.


Holiday McCalls 2017

The Holiday McCalls patterns came out yesterday. I wrote up a mini review on Stitcher's Guild, so I thought I'd post a slightly edited version here.

This release had some patterns I quite liked!

This would make an adorable bed jacket, and a great holiday gift! I wouldn't use this floral, though. I'd use something lush and snuggly. I might leave off the ruffle, depending on the fabric:

McCalls 7696

I like this long-line moto jacket/vest with ease in the back, by Melissa Watson for Palmer/Pletsch:

McCalls 7694

I like how this top appears to be layered, and not like the bottom was just stuck on. I would make the bottom out of chiffon or something equally flow-y, and use a more everyday fabric for the top (rather than a brocade), because I'd wear this to work AND the grocery store!

McCalls 7689

I love the lines of this jacket, with the fold back collar sewn into the bottom panel. For me, this ticks the box of something new, design wise. Instead of side-seam pockets, I'd add in-seam pockets to the horizontal seam:

McCalls 7693

It was an interesting choice to release this Kathryn Brenne pattern with McCalls, rather than Vogue. But I can see that these would be popular with the cosplay crowd, so it makes sense. What fun spats, though I'd never wear them over heels. I could see these catch on as regular wear, especially in fall/winter, over leggings. VERY FUN and a chance to play with my hardware stash:

McCalls 7706

I can't be the only one to see this vest ALL over Pinterest. I, myself, have pinned it. The original was by J.Crew. How smart of McCalls to make a pattern for it:

McCalls 7695

How cute is this hoodie with the ruched sleeves? I'd wear the dress as a tunic, made with a shorter drawstring so it wouldn't run into my boobs.

McCalls 7688

This design is not the most exciting or new, but I can rock this one (short and over leggings, of course). I prefer view B—much less likely for those sleeves to fall into my cereal or soup:

McCalls 7681

I quite like View F (and ONLY view F) of this top pattern. Though, come to think of it, this single girl doesn't do buttons/zippers up the back. I'd figure out an alternate closure, most likely up the front.

McCalls 7687

FabMo's Textile Art Boutique

I have talked about FabMo before. This organization saves tons of fabric samples and related materials from the landfill, by making it available to artists (or anyone interested in repurposing it). Once a year they have a sale featuring the work of those artists. Each item sold at their sale is made using at least 50% of the reclaimed materials.

One of my gifted artist friends, Luanne Seymour, has been making gorgeous pillows and bags using the rich fabrics donated to FabMo. This post highlights some of her beautiful work.

The sale is this Sunday, October 29th, at the Elks Club in Palo Alto. If you can attend, say "Hi!" to Luanne for me! (Sadly, I have conflicting plans.) It's a great opportunity to pick up some wonderful gifts for yourself, friends, and family. If you can't attend, check out Luanne's Etsy store.

Read more about the sale on the FabMo blog.

Business Cards

I've been meaning to order business cards for years, and I finally ordered some last September! Many times I've been asked for a card, but didn't have one.

I decided to order from They've been around a long time, had an easy-to-navigate website, and offered good choices. I didn't order many because I don't expect to use them often, and I like the idea of creating a different design each time I order.

Since I've had them, I've given one away. I often forget!

Ah well... Maybe I'll get into the habit.

Halloween Prep

Usually, I'm pretty good at saying no, but sometimes I thwart myself. DD1 was showing me her Halloween costume plans and I volunteered... volunteered... to make her a giant pussy bow. Sheesh, I have enough to do. But she tricked me by NOT ASKING ME TO MAKE IT.

She's clever and tricksy.

She bought half a yard of fabric from Britex.

I whipped up a quick pattern. The bow itself was made from an 8" by 45", interfaced strip of fabric. The ties were made from a 4" wide strip, also 45" long, or thereabouts, but not interfaced. This was one of those seat-of-my-pants operations squeezed into an already-overstuffed weekend.

At Britex, I looked for the findings I needed. I bought the clear hook, but they didn't have the figure 8 metal finding I wanted to use to make an adjustable neckband. Instead, I cut up an old black bra. I also bought a length of velvet ribbon for the neckband. (I didn't use those metal circles, also from the bra, but I saved them anyway.)

I'll share pictures of her completed costume after the Halloween parties.

Crazy Lace Stone Buttons

Last weekend I saw some gorgeous buttons on Facebook! Lucas Winter makes buttons from stones. I bought these beautiful crazy lace buttons.

Lucas seems to mostly sell his wares via Facebook, but you can also message him via Instagram.

Britex Update

And speaking of Britex...

I was walking from work to Britex today, using a different route than normal, when I stumbled upon their new location, which I only noticed because of the sign in the window.

I grabbed my camera to take a quick pic and, I kid you not, that very second the door opened and out walked Sharman (Britex owner), Dina (Britex manager), and some other folk. We all cracked up.

I'm not a stalker, really.

The great news is that their new store is next door to Gumps!

I was also in Britex last week selecting my next fabric—it's gorgeous—I plan to work on it while at DOL. While I was there, Kirby escaped the office, the little rascal... Here he is in the elevator, looking a bit chagrined at being caught.


Northern California Fires

You've probably heard of the devastating fires north of San Francisco, in and near wine country. The town of Santa Rosa, where I grew up, was particularly devastated. It appears that the home I grew up in, built by my grandfather and father, is gone, as well as my father's post-divorce house. My mother's post-divorce house seems to have escaped. These houses were no longer owned by my family (my father passed 2 years ago, and my mother many decades ago) but the devastation is very sobering. Here's an article, if you want to get an idea of the extent of the Tubbs fire.

The air quality in San Francisco and nearby areas was quite bad for several days. People were encouraged to stay inside and to avoid exercise due to the high level of toxins released by the fires. Many wore masks when out and about. I didn't have a mask, but I ordered a VogMask, which has the recommended N99 filter. I'll put it in my emergency kit for next time.

Vogmask in houndstooth.
It serves a serious purpose, but why not inject a little fashion?
(I'm blogging at night, forgive the picture quality.)

Oh, last week I published a page on how to write Hero animations for mobile. (These are also called shared element transitions.) This is hard to do on some mobile platforms so, if you are a mobile programmer (or know one), check it out. :)

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Striped Bouclé Coat

Hey! It's Shams of Communing with Fabric with another garment made from a beautiful Britex fabric! For this project, my assignment was to choose a fabric from the Wool category. I quickly settled on this beautiful bouclé, Coat-Weight Black & Winter White Wool Blend Bouclé (Made in Italy). It's 80% wool and 20% polyester.

I absolutely love this fabric! If you know bouclé, you know that it's more loosely woven than most wool fabrics, and it can ravel. And, yes, this fabric ravels, but that means that you can use it to make fabulous fringe! Its content is mostly wool, but I did not find it to be scratchy. If possible scratchiness concerns you, order a swatch.

I've been inspired by recent Chanel collections (and, of course, Chanel is famous for their use of bouclé). The 2018 Spring show was held recently in Paris. If you watch just the first few minutes, you'll see wonderful bouclé dresses, tops, pants, and coats featuring long fringe:

This fabric is perfect for one of these garments! I wanted a long coat with fringe at the hem and sleeves. To preserve the drape-y nature of the bouclé, my coat is unlined. It also has no interfacing or underlining. I had no trouble sewing this fabric, but here are a few tips if you are new to bouclé:

  • Since bouclé ravels, avoid giving it that opportunity. Use patch or inseam pockets, rather than welt.
  • Choose a pattern with fewer seams.
  • Bouclé often looks mostly the same on both sides, so MARK the right side of each pattern piece! You can use tape (such as painter's tape), or safety pins, but I use two straight pins arranged in a plus sign. I like to live dangerously. ;) (Do you want 2 left sleeves? If not, mark the right side!)
  • Once you've cut the pattern pieces, use a light touch. Don't over handle it. (Some people immediately overlock the raw edges with a serger, but I don't. If you do serge, be careful not to distort the edges.)
  • Stabilize seams, especially horizontal, curved, or diagonal seams, such as the shoulder and neckline. I stabilize with 1/4" cotton twill tape. (I bought an 800 yard bolt years ago and it's likely to last for the rest of my life.)
  • Contain the raw edges. As soon as I finish a seam, I contain it, in most cases with extra wide, double-fold bias tape.

    Did you know that this tape has a right side and a wrong side? The "right side", the side that faces you as you sew it, is just a tad more narrow, as you can see in this cream-colored bias tape:

    The slightly longer underside increases the likelihood that it will be caught by the machine needle. I find it's easier when I extend the tape so that it's slightly longer than the seam, and hangs over beginning and the end. I trim it down later.

    I move the needle position closer to the edge of the tape, but this isn't strictly required.

    Finally, I whipstitch the bias tape to the body of the coat. This is an optional step, but it gives the loosely-woven fabric more stability:

For the pattern, I used one of my TnT (Tried 'n True) patterns, Butterick 6328:

Butterick 6328

I successfully used this pattern for another Britex project, a Burberry-inspired coat dress. Using a TnT pattern means you don't have to spend time altering for fit—you can go straight to playing with the design.

I still spent time dithering on exactly how I wanted this coat to look. Some of the options I considered but didn't use: black sleeves, no trim along front and neck edges, fringe on the armholes, fancy (embellished) trim (instead of plain), bias fringe around the pockets. This pic shows the result playtime:

Besides the changes from the last time, I made some additional style changes:

  • Lengthened to mid calf length.
  • Outlined the neck, fronts, and armhole edges with a textured wool-blend, doubleknit fabric purchased at Britex. This fabulous fabric, alas, is not on their website.
  • Added self fringe to the hem and sleeves.
  • Closed with 3 toggles, purchased at Britex.
  • Added oversized, lined patch pockets.
  • Cut the sleeves on the bias. This means I don't have to match the stripe across the body, but that's not why I do it. I do it because straight lines that extend from arm to arm (the entire width of my body), creates visual chunkiness and emphasizes my width. The diagonal lines of the bias sleeves break it up a bit, creating a more flattering line.

Making self fringe

Here are a few tips if you want to replicate the self fringe:

  • I cut strips of fabric, along the selvedge, 3-1/2" wide. I used the selvedge because it is more stable, though this isn't strictly necessary. You could stabilize this edge in other ways. The selvedge edge is sewn to the coat. These are the strips I cut for the sleeves (the selvedge edge has the white seam):

  • I cut the strips along the grain. The cross-grain is not as pleasing because the warp threads are uniformly thin. The weft threads are more varied. This pic shows cross-grain fringe:

  • I use the blunt end of a substantial needle to ease out one or two threads at a time. I pull the threads from the center of the strip, as I find that works better than pulling from an end. The threads are less likely to break, but it also causes less distortion to the ends of the strips.

  • These two loops are the next to be pulled:
  • The strip for the bottom of the coat is ready to be applied:

  • Right sides together, I stitch the trim to the sleeve with a 5/8" seam. Once I open it up, it hangs like this:

  • Until I turn the raw edges up and secure:

I'm starting to pull together my wardrobe for Japan, and this coat may come along.

A few more pics:

That looks like an in seam pocket, right? It's a carefully applied patch pocket. I spent time dithering on whether to outline the pocket with fringe, but decided to stick with a cleaner line.

I like that the bust darts are placed precisely inside a black stripe

I purchased three of these toggles at Britex. I placed one near the top, another at my full bust, and the third at the waist. To make them less obvious (and preserve the clean line of the coat), I placed each one in a black stripe.

Did I mention there's a fair amount of hand sewing in this coat? I find hand sewing to be very therapeutic, and bouclé is wonderful for "absorbing" the hand stitches, but you don't have to construct it that way!

Thanks to Britex for this wonderful striped bouclé! I purchased all other supplies.