Monday, April 30, 2012

My Wardrobe Basics

End of the line and I actually finished! Sort of. I had originally planned a trench coat as well, but as it warmed up outside, I just couldn't get myself motivated. I love the design though, so keep an eye out for it come fall.

Anyway, my 9 basics were:
1. Black slim pants - New Look 6082
2. Dark skinny jeans - Vogue 8330
3. White button down shirt - Vogue 8747
4. Black turtleneck - burdastyle 09/2010-121
5. Camel/Khaki skirt - McQueen knockoff
6. Tie Waist Sweater - MyImage W10/11 - M1003
7. Puffy Vest - Vogue 2657
8. Faux Fur vest - Simplicity 2149
9. LBD - Burda 7189

I have really gotten a lot of mileage out of all of these basics, and I'm really glad that I knuckled down and sewed them. I do have a tendency to sew "fun" things to the exclusion of wardrobe expanders like this. I don't want to overdo the "outfit" part of this, but the whole point was to see how many different looks can be combined from these 9 garments, so I'm including a few here. It's a fun opportunity to be creative with mixing, too!
Here are a few of my favorites.
There are a few more in my Flickr Set.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Simplicity 2377

Myra isn't desperate for clothing, but I didn't want to leave her out of KCWC, so I made her a quick peasant dress with my favorite pattern of this style, Simplicity 2377.
The fabrics are "Tutti Frutti" plisse from Joann. They are a cotton poly blend, and I am really a fan of them for children's clothing. The cotton allows them to be cool and comfortable, but there is just enough poly to make the garment wrinkle resistant and hard wearing.
I had a really hard time capturing the color accurately today. The sun washed the color out in the modeled shots, but they aren't quite as dark as the hanger shots. Myra chose the fabrics, herself - sort of. There was a sample dress at the store and she went crazy. She actually brought me the bolts of fabric and insisted that she had to have that dress.
I added a little polka dot ribbon to the bodice. I am pleased with the layout, since I managed to center the floral butterfly nicely at center front, and could frame it with the ribbons. I also deviated from the pattern for the sleeve finish. The pattern calls for cased elastic at the sleeve hem, but I like a little ruffle, so I hemmed the sleeve and used two rows of elastic shirring to gather the sleeve 3/4 inch above the hem.
I also lengthened the dress a total of three inches. I added 1 1/2 inches to each tier to balance the addition and keep the proportions even. Myra likes her dresses long and twirly and I like that it'll take a while to outgrow it.

This is the last garment I had planned for the Kid's Clothes Week Challenge, but I still have a day to go! I'm thinking I'll start on another pair of shorts for Duncan and see how far I get.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Ottobre 03/2009-23

With the completion of the popular "Bert" shorts from the 03/2009 Ottobre, Logan's outfit for KCWC is done!
I can see why this pattern got so much use when it came out. It really is great, with fun details, but still easy to sew.
For Logan's shorts, I went with a more understated color for the topstitching. This is the "jeans" topstitching thread from Coats & Clark. I added a single Mater applique to the leg of the shorts just for fun.
Much like Duncan's shorts, these feature a nonfunctional fly, which is topstitched down. The pockets are patch style, which gives you more opportunities to show off your topstitching skills. My twin needle made short work of these. Since I couldn't cut the pocket opening on the straight grain for these, I interfaced the opening with a strip of interfacing.
In back are patch pockets and a deep yoke. The waistband assembly is a little fiddly, but resulted in a really professional look, so I think it was worth the extra effort.

Now I just have to convince the ornery boy to actually try them on. Next up is a purple butterfly/polka dot dress that will definitely get worn. That little princess of mine can't resist a new dress. Wonder where she gets that?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Ottobre 03/2006-12

The KCWC is going great so far! Thanks to my sweet hubby, I have managed to sew at least an hour each day and I have caught up from missing Monday, so that is great. I just finished the most complicated of the projects I have planned for the week - Duncan's cargo shorts.
The pattern is Ottobre 03/2006-12, which is the same pattern that I used for his Easter shorts. This time, you can actually see all of the cool details, since I used a high contrast thread for topstitching.
The front has a nonfunctional fly, which is tacked down with decorative bar tacks. There are hip pockets, also topstitched, which are fully functional. For these I used a tip from Sandra Betzina's Power Sewing and cut out the pocket bags with the pocket opening on the straight grain, which puts the pocket bag on the bias. This gives you a nice stable pocket opening that won't stretch out of shape as well as a bit of give in the pocket itself.
From the side you can see the cute cargo pocket that I didn't use on the dressier pair. The pocket has little darts at the lower corners that add fullness. I used a square of velcro as a closure. Don't all boys love velcro? Rrrrrrip! I also added a couple of appliques from the Mater tee shirt fabric. Since they're knit, I just stitched them on without finishing the edges. Boy clothes are fun like that.
On the back, there are plain patch pockets. I added another small applique to one. All of my topstitching was done with a twin needle on my vintage Singer. She had a bit of trouble sewing this fabric at first, which is unlike her. I realized about halfway through that the presser foot pressure was turned up from 4 to 7. No wonder she was pulling on the fabric so hard! Once I lightened that up, she did fine. I pivoted the corners with my twin needle using this tutorial.
The fabric I used is a stretch twill that I think came from Hancock. It's been in the stash a while. It has a nice bit of stretch, which I hope makes these comfy. I've a coordinating pair for Logan cut out, and should have that to show you soon.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Ottobre 03/2008-29 & 03/2011-6

Well, after a slow start, I'm getting some things done for KCWC. I started with the tee shirts for the boys, mostly because Logan has been really excited about the Mater fabric I found for him.
Here are my cuties in their coordinating shirts! The fabric is a cotton interlock from Print Knit Studio. It's a nice sturdy knit, but still soft. Perfect for kid's clothes. The ribbing is cotton rib knit from I debated what color to use for the ribbing and binding. None of the blues I had seemed quite right, so I let Logan choose. He surprised me with the red! I really like it. So much so that I coverstitched all the hems with red as well.
Logan's shirt is from the 03/2008 issue of Ottobre. This was my first issue ever and I have sewn a ton from it. This is the first time for this particular shirt though. It is a basic tee with slightly forward shoulder seams, a rib knit neck band and stitched hems. The neckline is a little larger on this one, which is actually good for Logan, as he has a pretty large head and small necklines freak him out. It has a relaxed fit, which Logan also prefers. I did add 3/4 inch to the length of the sleeve. They looked a little short to me, and I think they were. The finished length here is just about right.
For Duncan, I used #6 from the 03/2011 issue of Ottobre. It is photographed in pink on a baby girl, but it looked like a good boy shirt to me. It is a sleeveless tee with an envelope style neckline. It is a great fit on Duncan without alterations. Since all of the neckline and sleeve edges are finished with binding, this was a super fast sew on the serger and coverstitch machine. It only has the two side seams to sew! Everything else is bound. I'm definitely going to make Duncan a few more of these.
Silly boys!
I did want to add just a little note about sizing in general. I've noticed that the newer issues of Ottobre (after about 2009) have a much closer fit, while the older issues are much more generously sized. You can really see that in play in these two tees. Both boys fall between sizes based on their chest and waist measurements. For both boys I used the larger size. Logan's tee (from a 2008 issue) is quite loose fitting with a slightly dropped shoulder line. Duncan's top (from 2011) has a very snug fit and the shoulder is right at his shoulder point. So, for those who sew with Ottobre, just be aware that the older back issues do tend to have a bit more ease built in to them. If you are looking for a closer fit, go with a style from a newer issue or size down

Linked up

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Burda 7189

My final piece in the Wardrobe Basics SAL is done! And I accomplished a sewing goal that I have had for several years, so I'm doubly pleased.
I finally made an LBD!! The pattern I chose is Burda 7189, a shirtdress with interesting seaming, which of course you can't see in black. Erm. The fabric is a poly/rayon gabardine from FabricMart. It's quite nice and drapey, so I'm glad I bought a lot. You'll be seeing it again... This dress only took about a yard and a half.
Here is the line drawing, so you can get an idea of what the seaming looks like. Cool, eh?
I lightened a couple of photos so you could see how it turned out in real life. Sewing the back was tricky, as you can imagine. Getting all those corners to be sharp and unpuckered was no mean feat, but I thought Burda's directions were actually really good here. Instead of the Big 4 method of reinforcing, clipping and trying to pivot right at the match point, Burda has you sew the seams in 2 passes, meeting at the point. It usually takes me several attempts to get corners right, but I did these in one try. Love that!

In front, you can see the single point and the neckline and button band. The neckline is finished with a bias strip, which is topstitched down. The pattern calls for an additional 2 strips of bias cut self fabric to be inserted into the neckline seam with "irregular tucks and folds". I could see how this would make for an interesting dress, but I wanted this to be a more versatile piece, so I skipped the decorative elements. The button band is interesting as well. Burda has you stitch the buttonholes into the facing only, then fold the facing back and topstitch it down so that the buttonholes are enclosed within the facing. The point here is to allow for another tucked and folded bias strip, which I again omitted, but the method leaves you with a nice clean line in front without visible buttons. It's a bit of a pain to button though.
I really like that the vertical seams provide a sort of princess seamline to allow for fitting. (I used my usual Princess FBA method described here.) I did make a few alterations to the design as well as for fit. The most obvious is the skirt, which is slimmed from an A line to a straight, more pencil style. I also lengthened the skirt 2 inches so that it would fall below the knee. The pattern calls for the lower front edges to be topstitched together, but I left them open, both for the  more traditional shirtwaist look and also because I needed some walking ease, since I took out the width provided by the A line skirt.
I'll leave you with a little outtake from my photo shoot. I usually take my pictures when the kids are sleeping, but this time I went for it during the day. Duncan was quite the helper. Can you see the purple yoghurt all over his front? Yeah, you turn your back for half a second... Guess I'll go back to the early morning photo shoots from here on out, eh?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Kids Clothes Week! and some catchup

Tomorrow begins the Kids Clothes Week Challenge over at Elsie Marley. This is the third year she is hosting this challenge. I've wanted to participate before, but was always swamped with other things. This year, I am still swamped, but I decided to go for it anyway. My kids need stuff.
The official challenge is to sew 1 hour per day, 7 days a week. Obviously the plan is to sew kid's clothes during that week, which I really do need to do, particularly for my poor neglected boys. My plan is to make one outfit per child. Both boys will get cargo shorts and short sleeve tees, and Myra will get a dress (that counts as an outfit, right?) I'm not sure I'll crank all of that out in a week, but I know that once I start I will finish, and that's what counts here! I don't generally keep track of my sewing time, but I think it would be fun, in the spirit of the challenge, to be sure I really do log at least an hour a day. I'll report back how it went once the week finishes. What are your bets? Over or under??

Before I start the kids stuff though, I have to finish my LBD! All it needs is a sleeve, side seams, hems and buttons. Hopefully, I can get that knocked out Monday morning and dedicate the rest of the week to the kiddos. LBD sewing time won't count for the challenge, so getting my hour in on Monday might be tricky...

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

McQueen Knockoff skirt

My second to last piece in the Wardrobe Basics SAL is done! I still need to make my LBD, but I think I'm going to come in just under the April 30th goal. Yay!
I fell in love with this Alexander McQueen skirt that floated around Pinterest and really wanted my own. I spent a lot of time contemplating this skirt and went back and forth on what pattern to use. Initially, I thought I'd use McCall's 3630, since it is a TNT for me, but it is a pretty straight skirt from the hip down, and the McQueen original is clearly pegged. I wasn't even thinking about it when I went in to Hancock's to pick up a couple of Burda's that had been on my list. When I brought home Burda 7248 I realized it was the perfect base for this knockoff.
You can see the hi-lo shape of the flounce a little better from the back. Sassy! For the flounce, I used Vogue 1269. Drafting the flounce from scratch would have been pretty easy, but the Vogue was a perfect fit as it was, so I decided to go with it. In retrospect, and in comparing the pictures of the original with mine, I can see that my flounce is a little bit shorter, although since my skirt portion is a bit longer, I end up at the same place.
The original design closes with an invisible zip at center back, which I did. I deviated from the design in that I added a waistband. I prefer a stable waistband to a faced waist in general, but particularly with this fabric, which is a very stretchy bengaline, I didn't want to worry about it stretching out. But, in keeping with the feel of the original design, I installed the zipper to go all the way up to the top of the waistband, eliminating a button or other closure there.
Although it isn't clear from the description if the original was lined or not, I suspect it probably was. I lined the upper portion with an acetate jacquard lining which I cut on the bias, so that it would have some stretch with the bengaline. You can see from the photos on Net-a-porter that the original flounce had Hong Kong finished seams, which I replicated. The original had a faced hem. I really wish I had done that or lined the flounce. I did a narrow machine stitched hem, but it was a serious pain. Since the flounce is circular, the edge  includes quite a few bias sections, all of which stretch in different ways. It was ugly. I think I did more ripping on the hem then I did sewing the entire rest of the skirt. Live and learn.
Overall, I am pleased with the skirt and with the success of the knock off. Not to mention that I actually used something I pinned!! Woo hoo!
Linked up.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Wedding Plans

My adorable Brother-In-Law recently discovered the girl of his dreams and they are tying the knot in August. We couldn't be more thrilled for them both. 
Aren't they cute!?! And I get to make the dress!!!! Yeah, I couldn't be more excited. Breanna wants a 50s style dress with a fitted bodice and a full, just below knee length skirt. Elbow length sleeves and a lace overlay will complete the picture.
We're going to start with New Look 6723, and alter from there. I think we'll need more volume and perhaps a bit more length in the skirt, but otherwise this pattern has really good bones. Y'all know how much I love a princess seamed bodice.

So, we've got the dress all figured out, but Steven and Breanna could still use a little help funding their dream wedding. You can help, too!! Just go over to and vote for their video to help them win a $50,000 wedding package. They're couple #13! 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Princess Seam FBA

I had a couple of questions regarding my princess seam FBA method, so I thought the easiest way to tell you about it was to show you how I go about it. I've spent some time really struggling with FBAs, particularly on garments with a waistline seam. The traditional method of doing an FBA, where you slash and spread, adding a horizontal dart, also adds width to the waist, which I don't need. (Don't be a hater - that's just the way I'm built.) I've dealt with this by deepening or adding a vertical underbust dart, which helps, but I end up with big honking darts that are tricky to sew without dimpled points. So a princess seamed bodice allows me to have a snug fit in the waist, while still allowing plenty of space for the girls, without gigantic darts.
We don't always want to look like this...
I've tried a lot of methods for doing an FBA on a princess seamed bodice, but many of them still add width in the waist, since they are basically just a slight modification of the traditional method. My favorite method (and the one I used on this dress and this dress) can be found in the book The Perfect Fit.
Basically, you add width to the side princess panel at the bust point (where you are the fullest) and then taper out to nothing at the notches. You do need to make sure to also lengthen the front princess panel, also at the bust point. I always have to shorten the neckline of my tops, so that is why my front princess panel isn't evenly lengthened.

Another option is to muslin your bodice (or tissue fit) and leave the princess seam open between the notches. It will gape open over your bust when you try it on for fit. Measure the widest opening and add half of that measurement to your side princess panel, again lengthening the front princess panel to fit. If you have a lower bust, this is a particularly useful method, as you can easily move the bust point at the same time by adding fullness where you need it, without any regard for where the pattern has it.
My typical method is a combination of these. I make the flat pattern alteration as above, then make my muslin and alter it if I need to using the open seam method. It's taken me a few tweaks to get it just right, but I think it was worth it. Now I have a princess seamed bodice I can count on, and no more Madonna boobs.

Friday, April 13, 2012

New Look 6587 and Gertie's crinoline

My first sundress of the season is finished!
Isn't it fun? I'm really enjoying wearing it. I even got an unsolicitation  from a total stranger while I was out running errands! Yay! The fabric is a fun striped stretch seersucker from It is very lightweight and comfortable.
The pattern is New Look 6587, and is one of the "New Vintage Looks" line that was recently released. I bought this pattern because it reminded me so much of a favorite dress from High School, although that dress was white.
I liked quite a lot about this pattern. It was a quick sew, since I left it unlined. Princess seams are lovely for shaping and easy to do an FBA on. I actually used the front bodice pieces from Simplicity 2403, since I had already altered them to fit. The major issue I had with it was the back neckline. It gaped horribly! I imagine that this would be less of a problem in the view with the collar, but it looked dreadful on this one. I took two half inch darts in the back neckline, which helped.
I love the pockets! The body of the pocket is gathered into a trimmed band. The placement markings on the skirt were strange though - too low and too close to the front bands. I was really glad I had waited to put the pockets on until after the dress was constructed. You can also see the trim on the dress in this shot. The entire front neckline and button band are trimmed with a ruffled grosgrain ribbon. I initially thought about piping here, but I'm glad I went with the little ruffle. The effect is sweet.
The skirt also isn't super full. It isn't a straight dirndl skirt, although there is a small amount of gathering at the waist. It is sort of a semicircular gathered skirt. I really like this, since it minimizes the amount of bulk at the waist, but I would have liked more fullness at the hem, which would be easy enough to accomplish by just slashing and spreading the skirt pattern at the hem, but leaving the waist measurement the same.
When I first tried the dress on, the skirt was limp and a little sad. This fabric doesn't have a lot of body on it's own. I considered horsehair braid at the hem, but I wanted fullness throughout the skirt without adding weight at the hem, so I decided to make a light crinoline. I didn't want it to be costume-y (the dress is already a little OTT), so I just lightly gathered some nylon organdy into three tiers, much like Gertie's Modern Crinoline. Mine has a much shorter yoke section and an extra tier, but the effect is the same.
For the waistband, I really wanted some picot elastic, but I only had black. I ended up using FOE, and I actually really like it. It isn't as pretty a picot elastic, but it is very flexible and comfortable, while still being sturdy enough to hold my skirt up.
Day to day, I'm usually a jeans and knit top kind of girl, but a few more dresses like this one could convert me. It is comfortable to wear, looks cute and I can even chase the kids in it! The length is good - I don't have to worry about a gust of wind showing off my unmentionables, but the skirt is full enough for movement.

Now that I have satisfied my urge for a random cute dress, I'm back to the Wardrobe Basics SAL. I've muslined my McQueen knockoff skirt and it's awesome, so I'll be sewing that up next, then my LBD. Stay tuned!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

And the winner is...

Thanks so much to everyone who commented on my blouse and who entered the giveaway. After wearing it all day, I find I like it rather more than I thought I would, so everyone wins!

Without further ado, the winner of the pattern (Simplicity 2614) is...
House of Pinheiro!!

And if y'all haven't been by her blog, be sure to click on that link. She does magic with her sewing machine.

She said,
I love a challenge to make a pattern look more exciting. Im in !
I can't wait to see what you do with it! Send me an email with your mailing address at katiedeshazer (at) gmail (dot) com and I'll get the pattern out to you.


Monday, April 9, 2012

A New Space! (sort of)

After I finished up my sweater on Saturday, I had to pack up my sewing room in preparation for these...
We went to Ikea and got a wall of shelving for my fabric! My sweet honey and the big kids spent all afternoon putting them together. Then I had to do something about this...
Don't judge, mmmkay? I spent most of the rest of the weekend putting everything away and organizing my room. I'm so thrilled with how it all came out, I want to show it to you.
Here is the finished fabric wall. My sewing space isn't that large, but for reference, the shelving is 90 inches wide. The fabric is loosely organized by type, with knits filling the entire left side unit, cotton prints, shirting, woolens and silk/silky fabric in the middle and linen, rayon and bottom weight fabrics on the right. Next to the fabric wall you can see my envelope pattern files. They are organized loosely by type.
Across from the fabric wall are my machines. The Singer has her own table. I mostly use her for her superlative buttonholes, topstitching jeans and for sewing thicker fabrics that Janome has trouble with. You can see Janome in the middle. The coverstitch machine is behind her, and the serger is to the far right. I love having all my machines out and in a row. My chair is on wheels, so I can just scoot from one machine to the other. Totally awesome.
In the middle of the room is my ginormous cutting/pressing table. I love this thing so much. It is a 36 inch wide hollow core door that I padded with wool army blankets and covered with linen. My sweet honey made me two sawhorses that are the perfect height for me to stand comfortably and cut, trace and press at the table. Under the table, the are two sets of drawers that hold my yarn stash, some interfacing and larger tools and notions as well as cone thread. The file boxes in front are my Burda and Ottobre magazines. Sandra Dee is watching over all from the corner.

I'm so excited to sew in my "new" space! And I found some fabric I had forgotten I had! I love that I can see it all now. What to sew next?