Thursday, November 27, 2014


Here is the finished skirt!

It did not make it past the first round of The Great Pattern Review Sewing Bee, but I did manage to start and finish a project that has been stuck in my head for years, so I am going to call it a success!

Which is actually a relief.  A week is not enough time to produce a detailed garment (for me, at least!) and the hectic schedule would have stressed me out.

The contest did finally get me to watch the Great British Sewing Bee.  Clearly, the show was not produced in America.  My goodness, everyone was so kind to one another (why can’t reality television in the States be more like that?!).  The snarkiest thing I heard was Ann commenting that she could have made rouleau straps as delicate as those on the winning dress that week – and I believe her.  I actually think that the smocked design looked a bit silly with such tiny straps that would probably end up destroyed after being worn by an active child.

To continue the sewing television trend, I have also starting watching some of the old Project Runway shows.  Wow . . . not quite sure what to think!  The time constraints are ridiculous, and some of the hem finishes are painful to look at; I wonder what they really look like in person.  

All I can say is that I am very thankful the only time constraints and deadlines I have are self-imposed! 

Skirt:  Made by me, Sewaholic Hollyburn Skirt
Sweater:  Banana Republic
Shoes: INC

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

An Experiment in Sewing Notions

Do you ever come up with an idea for a project, and years go by without doing anything about it?  Well, this particular project (or a variation of) has been stuck in my head ever since I first laid eyes on Hug Snug seam binding.  And I finally found the motivation to get started!

I chose a stashed cotton velveteen as the base fabric.  I knew it was going to be a pain to work with the nap, but it was sturdy enough to handle a lot of top-stitching, and it had a few sections of squashed pile that made it less than ideal for a project where the fabric itself would be the focus.

I knew I wanted to use a simple skirt pattern as a base; Sewaholic's Hollyburn Skirt was an obvious choice.  It’s always handy to have a muslin from a previous version of a pattern.  No prep work needed!  I decided to eliminate the pockets (shock, horror!) to keep things a bit more streamlined.

To keep the seam allowances out of my way, I catch-stitched them into place.

The skirt was constructed at the front and side seams, leaving the back open.

I did add 1.5” to the hemline, but I ended up trimming off some of that extra.  Another Hollyburn is probably in my future, and if I have enough yardage, I plan on adding an inch or so to that version since I think this silhouette would look great hemmed at the knee.

Then came the fun part!

I originally intended to leave some of the velveteen visible through the stripes of seam binding.  But what I visualized in my head did not look as good when I tried it out with a scrap of fabric.

Somehow, I did not have thread to match back to the seam binding.  How does that happen with two racks full of thread?!  But other than three new spools of thread, this project was made entirely of stashed items.  And I only had to travel a couple of blocks to the new sewing store right in my backyard to get them.  Unfortunately, the only fabric they stock is quilting cotton which is easy to come by, and lots of poly tulle (which probably had something to do Halloween).  Oh well, at least there is a convenient place to go for a last minute zipper or random bit of thread.

I started at the hemline after giving myself an even thread-traced line to work from, and went to town!

The rows are far from perfect.  Between the nap of the velveteen and the bias bits there were a few frustrating moments.

And the jade green spool of Hug Snug is the first I have come across with major imperfections.  The first five yards or so were too flawed to use.  Something chewed through a section of the spool which was less than ideal - especially when I was working with long strips of the stuff.  Thankfully, the flaws did not mar the entire 100 yards.

As an added bonus, because I started at the hemline each row became shorter and shorter as I went along.  I think I may have given up had I started at the waistline and worked my way down!

In all honesty, the process was not nearly as tedious as I was expecting.

I found a vintage zipper in a drawer that was a decent match for the color palette.

And I decided the waistband needed to be embellished as well - I thought a plain band would look silly next to all that ribbon!

An underlining of cotton was applied before I stitched on the seam binding.

The waistband was hand basted in place to make sure I did not catch any of the binding in that seam.

And a bemberg lining was added to make the skirt more hosiery friendly since this is a winter-weight skirt.

Because the bemberg has a significantly different drape than the velveteen, thread tacks were added at each seam to keep the lining from hanging below the skirt.

It is an extra step that makes a real difference.

Two thread hangers were added as well - the clips on a skirt hanger might smoosh or mar the ribbons along the waistband.  (These were made from polyester ribbon; seam binding is not quite sturdy enough to carry the weight of an entire skirt, in my opinion.)

Is this skirt technical perfection?  Absolutely not.  But, even so, I would call my experiment a success.  And I have a feeling there will be more seam binding as embellishment in my future.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Linen in November

The weather feels between-seasons these days; it is quite warm during daylight hours, but gets too chilly after the sun goes down to be without some kind of cover-up.

And while I do not think of linen as especially suited to Fall, this jacket was just the thing to throw over a skirt and blouse for an evening out.

Yet another unfinished project I finally got around to completing!

I wonder how many others I have laying around, or tucked away so they don’t make me feel guilty . . . 

Perhaps I should continue this trend, and look for another.

Or maybe I would rather sink my teeth into something completely new.

For the moment, I am going to postpone that decision, pull out my knitting needles, and make myself a cup of tea.  The couch and a snuggly Chihuahua are calling . . .

Jacket:  Made by me, Spearmint
Blouse:  Made by me, Simplicity 1692
Skirt:  Made by me, Simplicity1644
Shoes:  Naturalizer

[The fabric for this project was received in exchange for my contributions as a Britex Guest Blogger.]

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Coat & Jacket Weather

Here are a few of the finishing touches on my Spearmint jacket.

Time (or a lack thereof) got in the way of finishing the project .  And then it was more of “out of sight, out of mind” for another month or so.

Then my Cherry Gala Gown took over the sewing room and everything else took a back seat.

Since my choice of fabric was going to preclude me from wearing this in really cold weather, it seemed like a good time to finish it up.

And there were really not that many steps left.  Although, it can be hard to remember where you left off when a project is put on hold for too long! 

Just a bit of hemming . . .

And pulling out all those basting stitches . . .

And the jacket is complete!

[The fabric for this project was received in exchange for my contributions as a Britex Guest Blogger.]

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Last Rose of Summer/Fall

Okay, so it isn’t Summer anymore, which was made abundantly clear this weekend with the time change.  But it doesn't quite feel like Fall, either (until the sun goes down, that is).

I am not a huge fan of diminishing daylight hours.  Which reminds me . . . I really have to do something about the light (or lack thereof) in my sewing room or my creative productivity is going to be seriously lacking for the next few months.

But I did manage to wear this dress on a lovely warm day not too long ago.  The weather today was gorgeous, as well, although driving home from work in the dark makes it feel like the dead of winter.

But a lovely crisp cotton is hard to resist, whether or not it is weather appropriate.

And while I promised myself that this dress was going to be the last cotton garment I make for a few months, my current project is also using the fiber.  In my defense, it is a velveteen, and therefore winter appropriate.

And that is my second Georgia dress.  Perhaps one of these days I will actually make it up as designed, straps and all!

Dress:  Made by me, Georgia “By Hand London
Shoes:  Nine West
Necklace:  Gift
Watch:  Borrowed from Mom