Tuesday, 24 November 2015

A green LBD

Duchess satin is quite a firm fabric and I love pairing this with lace. Hard vs soft. White Tree Fabrics has some very 'different' laces in stock this year so I picked a great black lace.
Can you see the lace pattern?
I really love the selvege!
I bet you can see it now:))

I was trying to create a Karen Millen style dress.

I've been adjusting McCalls 6460 View C to give me the bodice shape I wanted.
The sweetheart yoke wasn't quite what I wanted. So I made a slight change.
This dress doesn't have lining and using duchess satin, I didn't add lining. It's a really firm fabric and doesn't feel heavy, just firm.
This is version #3 in progress.
I raised the bodice up at the centre front so it created a gentle upward curve. Simple.
I initially stressed out about how to position the selvage on this dress so I simply laid it across the bust points. Strategic! 

PS: I used the c-cup bodice.
Above is the back dress pattern showing the shaping I added for my sway back and
petite-ness. The two folds at centre back waist took out some of the fabric pooling and I added this back to the length for the centre hem.
I used the zipper on the dress bodice only and not the yoke. A simple hook and eye worked at the back neckline.
It was a bit tricky using cotton bias tape on the neckline and armholes with pins, so I resorted to using clover wonder clips.
Voila. This little green LBD cocktail dress is ready for a Christmas party somewhere soon. 

Now for a mani/pedi/hairdo.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Not your ordinary sweatshirt

Now that Winter is a distant memory in Australia, I decided to make a sweatshirt (not for the gym) using McCalls 6614 and fabric I bought in NYC from Kashi (Metropolitan Textile Corp) in 2013.
This year Kyle and I spent the day fabric shopping and Kashi was our first stop.
This textured knit hasn't got much stretch so I failed with the neckband but added navy sequin trim on the front shoulder seams. 
A simple sweatshirt
I originally bought the navy trim for a jacket, but I can't see myself making a 'french' jacket any time soon.
Can you see the trim?
Technical info:

This version uses Small at the shoulders and bust by Medium at the waist and hips.
On the sleeve, I moved the shoulder dart forward by 2cm but there's still a drag line showing. I took 5cm from the bodice lengths and did a sway back adjustment on the centre back panel. I'll lower the back bodices by 2cm - personal preference.
I could easily hide in that roll of fabric. I bought some too.
But I really wanted to put up this post because I had a great day shopping and catching up with Kyle again; going back to see Kashi and his really neat fabric store; visiting NYC and being a fabric shopaholic.

PS: I had an 'only in New York' moment while waiting to Kyle to arrive. I was waiting in the building foyer and a man stepped from the lift and proceeded to sing an aria. He was wonderful and it was the perfect building structure for such a well trained voice.
'Only in New York'.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

McCalls HQ

After reading about Lauren's visit and Deepika's visit to McCalls Pattern Company HQ I thought it wouldn't hurt to check with Meg to see if I could visit while in NYC last month.
I'll tell you the story about this jacket soon. 
Meg is the Social Media voice of McCalls Patterns so you may have spoken to her via TwitterInstagramtheir blog.

Well...Meg obliged and invited me to visit her workplace. The pic above was taken by Meg in their inhouse photo studio.
Security at the building was tight and the building itself is iconic so I took this pic so I could really believe I had actually visited their NYC head offices.
Once I walked by the blogger fan board I felt much calmer seeing Lizzy's pic wearing the dress she made during Sewport early October. That was a fabulous seaside sewing weekend you organised this year Lizzy.
Meg took me through every department and introduced me to everyone. 
  • the designers including Carlos Correa - a really nice bloke
  • the notions and fabric team. They had just finished their 2016 trend forecasts.
  • their pattern drafting team. They do the whole range of patterns and I mean from accessories to clothing. 
  • the photo studio was what I expected to see after working in a local media company.
  • the pattern instruction writing - I don't envy them. They have a big job to do.
  • I saw the final garments for their patterns in a special room.
  • I got to look at their pattern catalog archives room with all of their previous catalogs - as you can see from the photo above. These catalogs could easily be a special collection for the Met museum one day.
Their work teams are small but they're lovely and look like they really enjoy their work.
If you're into corsets or Cosplay, you might have seen Yaya Han's sneak peak of this new McCalls corset pattern. I saw this corset at McCalls HQ and the workmanship and fabric is brilliant. 

This was just one of the special pieces I saw during my visit so I was careful to ask permission when I took pics of the WIP patterns. I'll show these pics once the patterns are released. 
I've never seen calendars from McCalls so when Meg gave me this calendar for my sewing room, I took this pic straight away in case it got damaged in my luggage. It's now home safely and I'll start using it in 2016.

I didn't want to take up too much of Meg's time because it was Thursday before Halloween so I was conscious of interrupting everyone with their work deadlines.

Meg gave me some light reading material to make better use of the rest of my holiday flights. Mr V and I still had a few days in Florida and LA to go before heading home after spending time in New York.
This time I saw Margo in the latest issue of Vogue Patterns magazine. I was really thrilled to read about Margo in print! I've been following Margo's sewing blog for a few years now. She's great.
Clearly I loved having the opportunity to visit McCalls HQ. I got to see how they work and how they're trying to become closer to us - the sewing consumer. 

Sewing is a hobby for me and I can be a bit technical at times so this visit filled my sewing geekness.

Many moons ago I used to learn how to sew at the McCalls warehouse in Bankstown and I've also visited the Simplicity warehouse in Sydney. Both of these places are pattern warehouses but HQ is where the design to pattern making processes and brand positioning happens.

Thanks Meg for being generous with your time and for the pressies.

Next up: Kyle and I caught up with Kashi!

Monday, 16 November 2015

Really on a sewing break? Not quite

Holidays means taking a break from everything including sewing. It also means seeing new places, experiencing different cultures and relaxing.
An American indigenous textile display at a trading post in Arizona
Thankfully Mr V is happy for me to 'pop' into fabric stores when we travel so here are some of the places I was able to visit recently when there was a spare 20 minutes in the day.

Quilts on Route 66 in Williams Arizona: 

This store is across the road from the visitor information centre so it was easy to find.

Donna at the store was happy to chat about fabrics and quilting. I saw lots of neat shelves with a great range of fabrics to choose from. We still chat on IG.

A peek inside Quilts on Route 66. There's more fabrics behind me.
The Cloth Pocket in Austin Texas:
This is a small, cosy fabric store. They stock fabric basics and specialise in quilting fabrics. I saw some really cool prints including Nano iro, that I could see using in the future.

There's another sewing store located on the same block as The Cloth Pocket but I didn't go into this store because I ran out of time.

Golden d'or fabrics outlet in Dallas Texas:

This store is really a warehouse of fabrics. There were lots of knit fabrics, bargain dress fabrics, luxury fabrics and home dec fabrics.
Some of the knits at Golden d'or
I bought three knit fabrics that I can't buy locally. The prices were $7/yard.
I bought a moisture wicking knit and a textured sports fabric. Both fabrics came in quite a few colourways so it was hard to choose which colour to pick.
The pieced fabrics at Golden d'or
Near the cashier they had quite a few sewing notions. I was simply blown away by this fabric warehouse.
Some of the spesh fabrics at Golden d'or
Walmart in Page, Arizona:
I found their sewing and craft section while were were driving to Utah. This wonderful section had a selection of patterns and 4 aisles of fabrics.
This is one of 4 aisles of fabrics at Walmart.
Walmart at Arlington Texas also had a sewing and craft section but it was smaller - 2 aisles.

Joanne's in Dallas Texas:

I enjoyed visiting this store. It had a good range of fabrics, notions, sewing supplies and books among their other goods.
I had fun looking at their two sided print fabrics. These prints were vibrant and I just couldn't choose a favourite.

New York:
Pacific Trimming - This store is three stores wide. There's a huge range of every notion you could want.

Elliott Berman Textiles - Lovely fabrics from designers so I had to take swatches and then come back the next day to make my purchases.

Botani Trimmings Inc - This store spans the width of the block. There's a huge range of all the trims and sewing supplies you could dream of.

Butterfly fabrics - They have evening type fabrics too and a good range of wax print fabrics. Their wax print fabrics were $5/yard.

Karen of Bella Industries came up from Washington DC to spend some Museum time, a spot of fabric shopping and coffee with me. Lunch was awesome at the Museum and yes, DC is on our holiday visit wish list.

H and M fabrics or The Material World - This store has a sign in the window that says it's going to close and has a cheap fabric prices. I bought a couple of pieces at $8/yard.

Metropolitan Textiles Corporation - or Kashi's place. Kashi always finds what you're looking for and gives you a hug too. I did buy a few pieces from Kashi as documented by Kyle.
Thanks to Kyle for shopping with me again this visit.

Spandex House - Two stores wide and two floors high. The top floor was the 'mother load' of activewear fabric for me. Meshes, compression type fabric and lace. There's just as much fabric on the ground floor for vibrant dancewear and everyday clothing.

Grinners are winners.
Los Angeles in the Textiles district:
Michael Levine Loft - They had a 50% off sale. Their fabrics are $3 per pound.
Michael Levine - This is their normal store and it's a warehouse-sized place.

Ashanti Fabrics and Clothing - This store is more than just fabric and is small but I loved it.

The top two fabrics were from the UK last year. The rest were from Ashanti.
Golden Cutting and Sewing Supplies - If you're looking for sewing machine feed, sewing notions, this small store is packed with anything you can think of, except fabric. That's still a lot of stock.

Mood - This store is also a warehouse sized place and not in the textiles district. I bought a couple pieces of their Liberty fabrics. I did resist their NYC store.

Just a few...
PammyOh fabric-enabled me on my very last day in Los Angeles and we managed to grab a coffee with Sandra Ms.Mc.Call. It literally was grabbing a coffee because LA traffic starts to get congested early in the afternoon.
There's nothing more special than local sewers who fabric enable their sewing friends on holidays. Yes...I did have to buy another suitcase but I did share the fabric shopping budget over 4 weeks of travel. 

I'll tell you about my morning at McCalls HQ visit in the next post.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Trekking about

I made this pattern (McCalls 5633) a while ago for boardies (board shorts) so this version - 'travelling pants' - uses Minerva Crafts camo fabric.

Camo fabric might seem a bit junior for me and wearing billowy legged trousers wouldn’t be a great idea for me but ‘I really wanted them’ for our Route 66 road trip. It’s the vibe…(reference “The Castle” for the next line).
At sunny Williams, Arizona - along Route 66

This medium weight drill made me consider the leg width for a closer fit without making these trousers too tight to climb trails. I kept the leg width as is so I can refine these after our Route 66 road trip ends. So far, I've enjoyed wearing these cargo pants.
The basic pants pattern:
I still made my usual centre back adjustments – sway back and lowered centre back curve and made the long trousers version. The other thing I do is lower the centre front curve for the same reason. This is something I've learnt over time.
Centre back view after making the pattern adjustments
The pattern instructions
The pattern instructions for McCalls 5633 are a dream to work through. They help you keep the pockets accurate and well finished.

The metal buttons I've used on the pockets and on the waist were easy to find on Minerva Crafts website.
Outer leg pockets
Our weather research indicated it might get cold very quickly so I added kept the longest leg length and didn't add the hem tab. This fabric is printed on white so if I roll up the hem, it's too strong a contrast - white cuff on dark printed fabric.
We visited Zion National Park, Utah.

Those handy pockets
I know from previous trouser making experience, when I add outer pockets:
the base of the pocket can’t sit lower that 30cm from the waistline
the pocket can’t more than 12cm wide and
- to fit my phone, it has to be 16cm deep with a pocket cover.

This planning made placing the outer pockets in the right spot for my 'height' (that always sounds funny to me). When we were hiking along one of the walking trails at Zion National Park, I had my phone in one outer pocket and my camera in the other pocket. Very handy indeed.
Front view.

I used the faced waistband and the belt loop pattern as per the pattern. The instructions are clever so you don't mess up the facing or belt loops.

Being a camo print, I didn’t stress about pattern matching on the side seams and using the faced waistband also meant no pattern matching.
Closer front waist view
I overlocked the seams and used a double thread for sewing the seams to provide more stable seams because of the type of wear these trousers were going to get. The waistline facing and pockets are double interfaced.

Did these pants survive?
All of this extra reinforcement, the trekking we, being washed and dried with commercial machines at hotels - yes these pants are still standing.

I can honestly say these pants are tough. Real tough.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Spring smells so sweet

Wearing less layers is how I like to welcome in Spring so a decent frock made from Liberty print fabric from Minerva Crafts UK and a Cynthia Rowley pattern is my October project of choice.
While this style is very contemporary, I did a 'u-turn' and applied the shirt collar to the dress, giving this dress a 50s ‘Roman holiday’ feel to it.

Now the Liberty fabric followers among us know Liberty fabric is lovely quality both the fabric, print and feel. Stop me from gushing about this fabric now.
To check the fit of the bodice, I made up the shirt version and loved it. The dress doesn’t come with the collar but I love a collared dress, hence I added it to this dress without checking the length of the collar to the bodice neck seamline.
I initially had heart palpitations about the collar not being long enough to reach the centre front and I was about to rip it out and add leftover fabric to lengthen the collar. Hmmm. Then I slept on that idea and in the morning, I left the collar the way it was.
I've lined the bodice with leftover blue lining from my earlier Minerva projects. The skirt is unlined and lovely to wear. The buttons were easy to find on their website.
Here's a progress photo I took to check the fit of the dress before I sewed up the side seams. 

I've gotten into the habit of taking photos as I sew to give me a different perspective on my sewing projects. Sometime I'll put these photos on instagram for feedback.
Then I'll take photos to help me style up or learn to wear what I've made.
Either way, checking your work as you go helps make the finished project work. The last test I do is to wear it for a day and see how it feels. Once the weather warms up I'll put my Winter boots away.


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