Saturday, March 10, 2018

Fine Fabrics

This is Mom, Mom and I needed a little adventure (if by adventure you mean fabric shopping!) and we took a one day road trip to Fine Fabrics in Norcross Georgia.  For the first hour all we did was walk around and exclaim "oooh touch this" "whoa look at that" "wow it keeps going" "there's more" "ooohh, wow that price!"

If you know anything about Atlanta you know that traffic is a huge deal and a solid reality.  We added about 30 extra minutes to our travel time simply to accommodate traffic on our way to Fine Fabrics, and I didn't even calculate the extra time it took to get home because we left during rush hour and that was a really silly thing to do, learn from our mistakes!!

If you've never been to Fine Fabrics and live within two hours of Norcross and are an apparel sewer, I ask you...WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?  This is a great place for apparel fabric shopping -obviously- but you may want to know a few things about it before you head out.

***EDIT*** One important thing I forgot to mention in the original post is that the individual bolts of fabric are NOT labeled for fiber content.  That is a hugely important note if you are new to sewing and are learning about fabric hand and how differing fabrics behave.  There are large signs that indicate huge sweeps of fabric types at the end of each aisle but they are not conclusive about what exactly you are purchasing. 
  • They cut only in yards and half yards.  
  • If they cut it, you buy it.
  • There's a Cracker Barrel really close in case you are distracted by silly hunger.
  • Gail K fabrics is across the interstate and about 5 miles up the road in case you need a little extra hand holding in making fabric purchases.  They seem to know what they're doing and could advise you and have a lot of beautiful fabrics too.
  • Fine Fabrics is a no frills customer service experience when you're trying to find something on the floor.  I asked multiple times about rayon bemberg and although they were willing to do a burn test when I brought the fabric to them (read drug heavy bolt upon heavy bolt to the cutting table) they were not willing to walk me to the bemberg so I gave up finding it.  I observed another lady having a similar experience while there.  Its ok with me but you just might want to know it before you go.  
  • They will unload your cart if its anywhere near the cutting table. 
  • Have pity on the poor gentleman who's face clearly says, "why wife, why am I here with you, and now I'm lost in the fabric" and point him to the exit.
  • Silks are 9.99 people, 9.99.  I purchased two lengths of adorable crepe de chine silk fabric and they had loads.  My Mom purchased raw silk for a suit, its gorgeous. 
  • Most knits and cottons are 5-6 dollars a yard.
  • Lining fabrics (polyester) were 1.50 to 2.00.
  • Wools were 10 dollars and up if my memory serves correctly.  Whatever the exact price was, whenever I checked the price I felt they were very fair and discounted.  
  • There's a ton of decorator fabric, I did not look at it up close, just from afar because I was tired.  But my Mom saw it up close said it was beautiful but very chemical smelling in that room and she can't abide chemical smells. 
  • Shake off the lady who wants to tell you all about her inexperience with sewing but that she's trying to alter -alter people!- an old dress to be suitable for her daughters wedding and she has no idea what shes looking for and could you please look at my pictures on my phone and tell me what to do because I can tell you sew and I am clueless and I am trying to do this insanity on my own, in a place where only really knowledgeable people should get the picture, I had to drop some truth/real talk on her in a southern way, and shake her off because, no, that's why there are alteration places lady and I wouldn't know where to begin to educate you on the undertaking you think you are ready to embark on.  -Sounds harsh but really, sigh, this was my Mom/daughter adventure day and that felt like a lot of work. 
  • This place is huge, just huge, you need aaaaaalllllllllooooootttttttttt of time to see it all.  Just skip going out to eat and wasting your time, pack a lunch and eat it standing up in the parking lot because... there's fabric to be seen. 
  • They have zippers, a lot of jacket zippers which I'm always on the hunt for.  They have measuring tapes on the shelving with the zippers so you can check the length which is time consuming because they aren't labeled.  
  • They have lots of cool jeans buttons and rivets if you're into that. 
  • They have a lot of elastic.
  • Quilters theres not a lot of quilting fabric.  As an apparel sewer I'm like "ha ha ha" finally a place for us!!! But if you're an avid quilter, you've been warned. 
  • They have a lot of African wax prints and they are beautiful.
  • Fair warning, its pretty overwhelming, at least it was for me most of the time, so I didn't go crazy buying up everything because I just couldn't open that floodgate.  Instead I bought two silks I really loved, a cut of lining (because they cut it before I knew it was polyester), zippers, thread clippers (for 1.00), woven fusible interfacing. 

What I will do differently next time...
  • Leave my house earlier so as to have more time.
  • Buy woolens, because I love a good wool jacket.
  • Buy at least one Ankara print because they are gorgeous (tell myself to disregard the two African prints from Kenya already in my stash)
  • Buy more silk, I love those silks.
  • Buy knits for my girls. 
  • Look at the decorator fabrics, just because.
  • Buy a bunch of those thread clippers for the sewing classes I just started teaching. 
  • Pack rations.
Ok so thats about the just of it.  If you are a pitiful significant other dragged there out of guilt, I'm sorry.  If you're a lady who wants to project runway an old dress but you don't sew, go to Gail K or better, an alteration shop.  Otherwise if you sew your own clothing, get out your calendar and plan your trip....because ITS FUN!
Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

Friday, March 9, 2018

New top, new pants...

 Well hello there old blog! Its been a busy fall and winter and I have long neglected you, I'm ok with that fact.  I'd rather be sewing than blogging on any given day and it seems that I've chosen to do just that these months.  So here we are, its March and spring is beginning along with some spring wardrobe planning, but I just had to share this outfit made last month. 

The pants...
 So here it goes, the pants are a Melissa Watson McCalls pattern (7445) and I like them but have had to get accustomed to the wide leg.

A few pattern notes:
  • There are one inch seams on the out and inseam, don't forget that or you'll (like me) wonder why in the world they are so big if you sew them with the typical 5/8 inch seam allowance.
  • The waist band is not curved.  I much prefer a curved waistband and had to put three darts in the back of these after they were constructed because the waistband stood off of the small of my waist. 
  • The pockets don't extend all the way to the fly (sometimes called a pocket stay) and I think that they fit much better when they do, so I redrafted the pocket on my second pair (yet to be shared) to have a pocket stay.  Pocket stays are great for hiding mommy tummy. 
  • The Palmer/Plestch patterns include alteration lines on the pattern and I love that! 

The fabric used is a lightweight, stretch denim from FabricMart purchased in a kit. Its lightweight quality and stretch made these relax a bit after construction.  The next pair I've made is in a cotton twill with no stretch and I like the fit on them better. As stated above, I had to add three waist cinching darts to the back waistband, sorry no picture is included of the back, I snapped these really quickly and forgot to get a shot of the back.

One alteration I might do to these in the future is to add belt loops, I love the option of being able to wear a belt. In all this is a fun pattern, I would like maybe one more pair in a crazy print and cropped.

The top....

Back when I participated in the Pattern Review Sewing Bee I received the Winter Street Dress pattern, a great little pattern, and I made the bodice into a top since I loved the fit.  I love this top, wear it all.the.time.  When I altered the pattern for the contest I added some volume and gathering at the sleeve head and love the little feminine touch this gives it.  I recommend that pattern for a new to sewing knits person, its beginner friendly.

The fabric is a pima cotton bought at Hancock's a long while back.  I feel that it might have some poly in it but have never done a burn test.  The bolt did not state that it had poly, just cotton, but I strongly believe the bolt lied :)

Well there you have it, two makes in February, I've sewn many others but these are the only two I've captured with pictures.  Here's hoping your sewing machine is happy and busy too!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 13, 2017

McCall's 7595, Vogue 8926, and McCall's 6886

Its become our family tradition to escape to the South Carolina coast for fall break and I LOVE it- the crowds are next to non-existent, the weather isn't scorching and I get a great excuse to squeeze in just a few last summer sewing projects!   

The two projects featured here were a part of my October post for Fabric Mart Fabrics (you can read that post here) and the fabrics were a joy to sew.

I wanted to give a few details about the sewing involved with these projects on this platform.  So here we go... 

McCall's 7595:

For this cute dress, I muslined the bodice and I highly recommend doing so if you plan on making it.  To my eye, the dress on the pattern envelope looks fitted and is described as fitted but I had to make quite a few changes to get mine to fit.

First of all I pinched out under bust darts and added that to the pattern.  I knew that it would help pull in the empire waist and I did not like the volume I was seeing there.  You can see from the side view photo that there is still quite a bit of volume in that area and you need some to be able to pull the dress over your shoulder area.

Second I took in the side seams on the bodice a smidge, and I can't say exactly because I don't remember.  I also pulled the elastic across the top back very tight and still it could've been pulled tighter.  In truth it really needs a different solution back there, the elastic is 1/4' elastic, as instructed in the pattern but it doesn't hold up to the weight of the skirt.  I finally ended up pinning the back to my strapless bra to ensure that it didn't slip down too much.  Not a solution I prefer but I ran out of time to change things up.

If there is a next time I will probably add a channel of wider, sturdier elastic to the back or add some shirrring.  

One final bodice tweak was to sew up the front opening quite a bit.  I know that many would choose to leave it open and if that works for your lifestyle- fantastic!  But for me I knew I would be more comfortable with it sewn up.

Third, I added two snaps to the neck closure along with the recommended hooks and bars.  I really didn't want any awkward wardrobe malfunctions during my belated anniversary dinner so this made me feel everything would stay put!

That about sums up my changes, I really enjoyed wearing the dress, it was perfect for our belated beach anniversary dinner out and rayon challis is always so soft and comfortable.

This rayon challis, in particular is very good in quality.  I have sewn with others that weren't quite as substantial.  It was made for Tori Richards and I can always count on any designer fabrics from Fabric Mart being of the best quality.

Now on to this wrap jacket/top.  I LOVE this little piece, I have worn it several times since making it and plan on many more wears!  I am a sucker for anything wrap so I could be biased in my love for this piece!

The pattern is Vogue 8926 and I have had it in the stash for some time and always pulled it out and put it up not feeling quite ready to tackle it.  The instructions for finishing the inside are very basic and would leave the garment quite vulnerable on the inside so I knew I would need to do some head scratching and configuring.  I ended up sewing the facings down to enclose those seams and mostly serging everything else.  The fabric was a little ravely and tended to fray a bit so in order for me to get a lot of use out of this I wanted it to hold up to many washings and wearings.

To get the look pictured here, I made a few additions to the pattern.  I gave the jacket split hems, rows of stitching (a few extra rows on the center front area), belt carriers and an unattached belt.  I really feel these small extra touches elevate a piece, giving it some depth and interest.  

I know I can get some great use out of this as both a jacket and top since the fabric is a great light weight tencel/rayon blend.  Its soft too!  I can think of a lot of used for a chambray like this one, shirt dress, button down shirt, shift or sheath dress, a cute A-line dress with top stitching....

The dress pictured with this jacket is a McCalls 6886.  Its made up in a techno knit from Fabric Mart and the only change made to it was to add back fisheye darts.  It is such a simple, quick and satisfying make. 

Well there's the sewing details of these makes, I hope they are helpful to anyone who would like to sew these up.  Many times a pattern is a starting place for a look you'd like to achieve and although it takes a little more effort to muslin, pin in darts, or add rows of stitching, I am never sorry that I took the extra time to make changes since it really ups my love for the resulting garment.

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Is it Caftan or Kaftan?

Is it Caftan or is it Kaftan...I don't know, but this beach cover-up was super useful during our recent vacation and it was super simple to sew too!

We recently returned from our much anticipated fall beach vacation and I found myself throwing this cover up over my bathing suit everyday, I like to have something to cover my suit when walking to the beach.  I also like to throw it on when I feel its time to shield myself from the sun.  

I picked up this pattern at a thrift shop this summer and knew that it would be a great cover up for all my time at the poolside and beach.  As you can see from the pattern envelope it is a really simple sew with only three pattern pieces!  I love the ease of sewing up this garment since, its something that I plan to get sunscreen, sand, and ocean water all over and don't want to over complicate the process of making it. 

 The fabric is a rayon challis from Fabric Mart and bought some time ago at a really inexpensive price point, if I am remembering correctly!  Its a super soft fabric and although it does not have the fine quality that their designer brand rayon challis has, it's good enough for a cover up. 

I love rayon challis, admittedly it can be a real pill to sew but it has such a soft feel and drapes so beautifully that I can't resist it!  I recently used another gorgeous Fabric Mart challis to make a great maxi dress.  I blogged that make for them on the Fabricista blog (you can read that here) and hope to do a run down on the slight changes I made to that dress here, hopefully in the near future! 

Happy Sewing and Thanks for Reading!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Getting My Mom Beach Ready

I love to make something for my Mom every now and then and it occurred to me that she might love to have a kimono to wear on our beach trip.  I love making pieces for her like this one since the sizing is forgiving and the project is fairly quick to whip out.  I think this would be a perfect project for a beginner sewist.

I've previously made a Simplicity kimono for myself (for last years beach trip) and while I love that pattern I think this one (which is Butterick 6464) has some really great features.  The shape flares out at the bottom and the kimono sleeves bell out and drape into a really pretty shape.  I also love the collar on this, the way that it lays up against the neck is so pretty and for someone like my Mom, who has narrow shoulders the weight of this collar holds the kimono in place really nicely.  

The chiffon fabric used here was partially salvaged from a failed wrap dress made for the Fabric Mart Fabricista contest way back when.  I held on to it along with the fabric remnants for an opportunity just like this one!  I loved the fabric and didn't want to just throw it out or donate.  The pink linen is left over from a Fabric Mart make as well.  The chiffon is floaty and the linen helps the whole kimono drape better that something light weight would have.

As far as cutting out the chiffon, I used tissue paper underneath and it worked well.  The shape of the pattern pieces cooperate with chiffon.  I used a serger to construct the chiffon and my regular machine for the rest.  I referenced the directions but went my own way in construction. 

My Mom loves this kimono and I think was just as tickled as I was that it looked so fabulous on her.  She is already making outfit plans, scheming about what is in her closet that would look great with it.  

I can't wait to see her wearing it at the beach and now have a great pattern to make her something special with in the future!

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Flint Again

I made the Megan Nielsen Flint pant again (!) and I love them, AGAIN! 

I originally made the Flint pant as a tester last fall and that pair was more work appropriate, made up in a stretch pinstripe suiting.  For this pair I really wanted something more everyday, casual that would work great for our, you guessed it, beach trip.  Yep, still sewing for that.  What can I say, I really do better with my sewing if I have some goal to work toward, I am hugely productive when that is the case.  For some reason lately the beach trip has been motivating my sewing more that all the contests at Pattern Review. 

 In any case, these turned out awesome.  I love them and have worn them two days in a row after making them.  Sometimes I wonder about the shape of these, are they flattering-are they not...but I come back to the fact that I really enjoy wearing them and that's what matters most! 

The fabric is from Fabric Mart Fabrics, and I believe it is a tencil/poly blend or cotton/poly blend chambray.  It has a little stretch and isn't shirt weight or bottom weight, somewhere in between.  So it feels very light, is opaque but not too light.  Helpful for you to know all that, I'm sure!  

I believe it was a "Julie's Pick," and if you aren't familiar with Julie's pick, its a monthly subscription over at Fabric Mart.  You receive samples of gorgeous fabrics each month that only subscribers can purchase.  You also receive a set on monthly coupons which are really good, things like free bundles, free shipping, discount this or that...good stuff.  Worth it if you are new to sewing and trying to familiarize yourself with fabric types.  

As far as construction, and fit, I made the size Medium, like last time.  I also changed the waistband interfacing a little (since it is folded over on itself I added interfacing to only one half the length of the waistband so that it wouldn't be too restrictive or stiff) and added quarters to the hemline to weigh them down (one at each seam at the hem, four total).  This is not my original idea, I read about it on Erika Bunker's blog and thought it was a great tip!

The top is McCalls 6963 and is a Palmer/Pletsch pattern, I love these for the alteration lines that they include on the pattern pieces.  I should've narrowed the shoulders on this one and will do so the next time I make it.  I will also have to rethink the back neck finishing, maybe adding a dart.  It sits out away from my neck a bit.  I like that this is a T-shirt pattern with a little something extra with the cowl neck.  The fabric is from Fabric Mart as well and was included in a free bundle.  I am pretty sure its a rayon/lycra.   


My eight year old is my fashion photographer and in exchange for her time and talents I have to oblige her photo direction and pose however she instructs.  This pose is called "super mom" however I think it looks more like an off kilter yoga pose :)  she is much better at the super hero poses than I!

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Uncommon Beach Wear

This is what my kids see every morning, me gulping down cup after cup of coffee!

I know this is not a swimsuit or a beach cover-up or really a garment that anyone would wear anywhere near a beach, but for me its what I plan on lounging in all morning (and night) while at the beach!  We are having our parents join us this trip and I felt like my current pj's are pretty ratty, or close to it!  And I have a habit of getting up super early, I love the quiet and solitude, sitting on the deck and drinking coffee.  There's something so quieting to my spirit to sit and listen to the day as it begins, so peaceful and grounding. 

 I have been planning on these pajamas for at least a couple of years- sheesh, get your sewing on already right!?  But every time I picked up the pattern, it just looked so involved! 

Its just that I have come to a place in my sewing journey where I really get annoyed with sloppy unfinished facings that just get folded over leaving some raw seams exposed to the washer and dryer.  I've also come to a place that really appreciates all the small design details such as piping. 

All that being said, I knew, when looking at the pattern, that I'd have to pipe the darn thing to be happy with it and then alter the facings to make everything inside enclosed, sigh.  So, two years later, here they are!!

I used McCall's 6659 and made the same adjustments to the back pants piece that I made to the last pants pattern I made and it worked again!  There are minimal back wrinkles!  I also shortened the pant by 2 inches at the cuff.  The cuff finishing is nicely constructed with everything neatly enclosed.  

The originally designed finishing and construction used to make the top were pretty sub par.  I read through the instructions after cutting everything out and as I began to put it all together in my mind I was not happy with the finished product, so I decided to trim down the front facing, graded it, notched it to help ease it in and folded it under, stitching it down to the top enclosing everything.  Essentially its an enclosed button band.     

The only place where I wasn't 100% happy with my finishing changes was at the point where the facing, shoulder seam and collar facing all came together.  There was some snipping of fabric, as instructed by the pattern and then some hangy, thready bits left out to dry.  Ugh, I HATE that.  I tried to catch it all as best I could in my altered enclosed facing.

But for all my nit picking, the finished pajamas are really nice.  I LOVE this cotton lawn, its a Hancock's purchase.  The piping  was from my stash, I did end up running out of it after making the top but luckily had a length of cotton in the exact same peacock green and made bias tape and piping for the pants cuff.  The buttons were from my stash and were on a super old card.

I am so glad these finally came together, cotton lawn is perfect for pajamas, this print is opaque and the hand is really soft.  Just great for wearing at the beach, gulping pots of coffee and listening to the day begin.    

Thanks for reading and happy stitching!