Thursday, March 27, 2014

Holding out for a Hero

Aargh!  The Vintage Vogue pattern line is going downhill, fast.  I can sum up the new designs in one word:  boring.

Vogue 9000

Don’t get me wrong, this is a cute dress.  But such a basic design is easy to find in any modern pattern catalog.  If you are bothering to reproduce something vintage, it should be spectacular (in my opinion).  And as much as I love the styles of the 1950s, would it be possible to get a little variety every once in a while?

Vogue 9000

And then there is Vogue 8999.  What the heck were they thinking?!  This has got to be one of the most unflattering examples of a Vintage Vogue pattern I have ever seen.  Let Molly Ringwald cut this thing up, and leave that adorable pink polka dot vintage piece alone!  Pretty in pink this is NOT!  

Vogue 8999

The illustrator got so bored they did not even bother to put any color on their sketch!  But, to be fair, that bolero looks pretty cute.  

Vogue 8999

Most of the time I eagerly anticipate picking up the new patterns as soon as they go on sale, but I am certainly not going to rush out to buy any of these.  There are a few of the modern designs that interest me, but for now I think I will hold off. 

Vogue 8991

The Shaeffer jacket, for instance, is not my style, but I may have to peek inside at the directions to see if they are worth the price of purchase.  Couture details are something that I can get behind!  So where are the couture vintage pattern reproductions?!  I thought Vogue was for the advanced sewer - please leave the basic reproductions for the Butterick line.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Quilting Advice Requested

My quilt top is finished!  Whoo-hoo! (That went much faster than I anticipated.)  I still need to find a backing that I am happy with, so there will be a few more seams to stitch, but I am getting very close to the actual quilting!  

With this recent obsession, I thought I would pull out my first quilt top attempt to have another look.  

I honestly had no idea how far along this quilt was (I have moved twice since the last stitch was made and I have not looked at it since folding it up and putting it away for safekeeping) – I guess I really don’t feel like ripping it all apart to make pillows . . .

But back to the reason for this post.  I would like to ask a favor of all the master quilters out there!  What kind of batting would you suggest for a new hand quilter?

I know that I want to avoid polyester (synthetics are evil, and I despise them).  The quilt is made of cotton, with cotton thread, and will be backed with cotton.

To make my shoulder pads, I use Warm & Natural Batting, mostly because it is available at my local JoAnn Fabrics and easy to come by.  But I have noticed that over the years the manufacturing process seems to have changed.  My most recent purchases are coated (for lack of a better word) with something and not quite as easy to get a needle through.  For shoulder pads, which require minimal stitching, this is fine, but I would like my first quilting experience to be a good one, and I think I may get frustrated working with the Warm & Natural.

I do not think I want to pre-wash because I am hoping to get that nice wrinkly texture, although that might soften the batting  . . . Help!

I am sure there are some of you with decades of quilting experience and/or some fabulous insight about this, and I would love to hear any suggestions or blogs or about anything that might lead me in the right direction.

Any brands to avoid like the plague?  And how about thread?  I have been using Gutermann cotton quilting thread to piece the quilt and like it, but would be open to suggestions!

Thanks, ever so much!

Flowers & Frocks

This weekend was busy, busy, busy. 

I had to be in San Francisco anyway, so I decided to head over to the San Francisco Opera costume sale that Kelly mentioned on her blog (thank you, Kelly!).  Sunday was the second day, and things were quite picked over, but there was still plenty to explore.

I love examining well made costumes – especially costumes made by companies that have money to spend on builds.  The texture and intricacy is incredible.  Some are on the garish side, but on stage I am sure they looked magnificent. 

Some things I expected, like flatlined bodices with boning channels offset from seamlines for easier alterations, grosgrain waist stays, lots of catch-stitching, and some serged edges.

Some interior markings have even survived multiple cleanings.  Oh, the stories these costume could tell . . .

But here is something I have not seen before.  I have worn a few costumes that have boned bodices attached to skirts using large hook & bar closures to attach one piece to another.  But this zigzag grosgrain ribbon attachment is brilliant.  I would guess that it allows for more movement than the method I am familiar with.  I just love learning new construction techniques!

I would be curious to know why these particular pieces are being sold.  Sure, there were racks and racks of items that have seen a lot of wear and tear, but some of these gowns still look very serviceable.

Then I had a couple of hours to kill, so I headed to Union Square.  Look what I found inside Macy’s!  

I did not expect all the floral arrangements, but I am pleased there was something more interesting to look at than the clothes (especially after all that opera goodness).

All in all, I would say it was a good way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Apple Tart

The weather has been ridiculously beautiful in the Bay Area.  Even though it felt a bit silly making a cotton summer dress at this time of year, it turned out to be weather appropriate with the addition of a lightweight cardigan.  Who could have guessed?!

All in all, a very successful and “free” project (Spring cleaning at its best!).  I even had a teal invisible zipper on hand that worked with the print . . . weird, since I never seem to have a simple black zipper when I need one!

The flowers are blooming, the bees are buzzing, and I am feeling the need to re-organize the sewing room.  Although, the urge usually strikes late at night . . . I wish I would feel motivated during the daylight hours.  But I should probably finish a couple of in-progress garments first.

I think I may have to try making more wearable muslins in the future . . .

Dress:  Made by me, Colette’s “Parfait
Cardigan:  Banana Republic
Shoes:  Miz Mooz 
Necklace & Earrings:  Farmer’s Market

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Wearable Muslin

In the spirit of using what I already have, here is my latest project.  And I even managed to find every single item I needed for this dress in the sewing room – that NEVER happens!

Quilting cotton is easy to work with and, despite all the naysayers, can work great as an apparel fabric, provided your demands are reasonable (if you are hoping for a 1930s Jean Harlow look, steer clear).

These days, I end up making muslin mock-ups for a large percentage of my projects.  But sometimes it gets tiresome staring at white muslin.  There, I said it . . . sometimes all the prep work gets boring.

With Colette’s Parfait, I guessed that there were not going to be many alterations necessary, which is why I decided on a wearable test version of the pattern.  Right away, I knew the length was too short for me, so I took a guess and added two inches there.  The waistline is high, but I think it is supposed to have that look, so I just add ½” to the midriff pieces.  That gives me 2.5" of extra length to work with.

My initial thought was to use another quilting cotton that has been stashed away, but I was not sure I had enough.  And then I remembered this quirky apple print.  It was purchased to make this skirt, but I still had enough to squeeze out this pattern using a multi-directional layout - not ideal in most cases, but since this print is random, it really does not make a difference.  Oh, and I also made a blouse last year - three projects from one length of fabric - whoo-hoo!

The only real change I made was to use the midriff lining pieces as a full lining, instead of leaving raw edges at the side seams.  This adds a bit of hand stitching to the process, but I have never had an issue with that!  Also, it keeps an extra layer out of the zipper seam.

Oh, and since I did not want to mess around with trying to figure out the buttonhole attachment on my machine (been there, done that, and had issues), I opted for bound buttonholes

The red grosgrain ribbon was already on my sewing table from this project, so I swapped the pocket embellishment for the ribbon trim.

Sure, I spent a bit more time on finishing than I would have with an actual muslin, but in the end, I have a new dress to wear!