Archive for May, 2011

May 31, 2011

Sencha in Purple

After making up the muslin on my birthday, I decided that my dobby broadcloth was not destined to be a Sencha. Sencha just cries out for a lightweight, airy fabric and the broadcloth is more of a mid-weight.  I chose to use the remainder of the purple linen from Delphinium and even that seems to heavy for the design.

You’ll have to excuse the backdrop. As you can see, I sew in my kitchen. The shameful part of that is… I actually have a room designated for sewing but it doesn’t get much natural light so I usually haul my machine and pressing equipment out to the dining room where there are big, beautiful, wrap-around windows. One of these days, I’m going to fix the lighting situation so that my husband doesn’t have too look at my fabric scraps while we’re cooking dinner.

I finished the blouse on Sunday. Overall, I’m happy with the results. I wore it today to class paired with a brown skirt that has been hanging, unworn in my closet for the last five years. If that isn’t success, I don’t know what is.

You’ll be happy to know that my camera is back as of this evening. I’ll post some shots of the finished blouse this week and give you details about the sewing experience.

May 28, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me!

It’s my birthday today!  To celebrate, I’m spending my time before work cutting out my Sencha muslin.

This is my first Colette pattern and I now understand what all the fuss is about – even the packaging is thoughtfully laid out. I have a good feeling that this won’t be my last purchase from Colette.

I’m making version 1 for my first go. I decided to cut a 6 at the bust and a 10 at the waist. I’ve read on other blogs that the pattern fits best on busty gals – which I am not – but I’m hoping that I can make it fit with a few tweaks.

I’ve also read that the neckline is a little too high so I anticipate that I’ll need to lower it a touch. I’m cutting it as is though and will make the necessary changes in the fitting.

After I fit the muslin, I’ll be making my first Sencha out of a dobby broadcloth that I recently bought from Vogue Fabrics. It will be my first official blouse for the fall wardrobe! If all goes well, I intend on using the 4 ply silk I bought on Wednesday for my second blouse.

Hope you all enjoy your (long) weekend!

May 27, 2011

Bad Day Silk

I had a really tough week at work and was feeling really down about it all so to pick me up my husband took me fabric shopping. Folks, I went a little nutty with the retail therapy and came home with the most expensive fabric I have ever purchased. I’m not going to say just how expensive but if you’ve ever bought/looked at 4 ply silk, you have a pretty good idea.

Although the price made my heart pressure dip at the register, it is really stunning. I was good and I picked a solid color from my fall palette – a deep navy blue. The fabric is heavy – weighing a pound for the two yards – and has an amazing drape. I’m thinking a blouse – perhaps Sencha from Colette Patterns? I’ve heard that 4 ply silk is an amazing sewing experience but you have no idea how nervous I am to use it.

Luckily, I’m signed up for a sewing-with-difficult-fabrics class with Lynda Maynard in June. I just received the materials list yesterday and it makes me really excited:

1 – 7″ regular zipper
1 – 7″ invisible zipper
1/4 yard grosgrain ribbon
1/4 yard of the following fabrics:
  silk organza
  cotton batiste
  rayon challis
  cotton flannel (light to medium weight)
  crepe de chine
  fusible interfacing
  any knit fabric

This class should give me a confidence boost and allow me to do the 4 ply silk justice.

Have you ever used 4 ply silk? What did you make with it and would you purchase it again? Any tips or tricks for sewing with it?

May 23, 2011

WIP: A-line with Front Button Placket

I apologize for the lack of a “theme post” today. I like to use things from my daily life for inspiration and without my camera I can’t get the pictures that the items deserve. Hopefully I’ll have the camera back by the end of the week and a “theme post” next Monday. Instead, I’ll show you the project I’m working on this week.

This week I’m working on an A-line skirt with a center front button placket. In addition to this being the last skirt for my pattern drafting class, this will be the first piece made by me for the fall/winter wardrobe. You can imagine my excitement then about this project. Luckily I took pictures of the muslin earlier this week to show you.

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May 22, 2011


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May 20, 2011

Gathered Linen Skirt

I’ve been working on the gathered skirt proto-type over the last two days. It came together nicely and looks much more flattering on than the muslin. Once I finish hemming it, I’ll post some pictures of me wearing it. Until then, here are some quick pictures of it in my work room.

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I have cheap steam iron that I’ve been using and it has finally given out on me. The sole-plate has cracked and it spits water with mineral bits out while I’m trying to press.

I’ve been putting off buying a new steam iron because, frankly, they are just too expensive. I’d love an iron with a steam-hole covered plate but I’m saving my money for a serger. Instead, I ordered a dry iron from Home Depot which ran me $30. No more steam-hole indentations on my garments and I can always create the steam I need with pressing cloths, spray bottles, and blotters. I’m excited to see if this fits the bill. Do any of you use a dry iron as your primary?

May 17, 2011

WIP: Gathered Skirt with Straight Waistband

This week I’ll be working on my gathered skirt for my grandmother’s batik fabric. I’ve been trying to decide whether to use a straight or contoured waistband so I worked up a draft for both. I sewed up a muslin for the straight waistband that I’d like to share with you.




I can’t decide if the garment is unflattering or if it’s simply the muslin that I can’t look past. The side shot shows how much the back pops out which makes my butt look 10x bigger but I’m wondering if a more fluid fabric would lie down a bit more. Given that my batik is so precious I’m not willing to take a chance on this yet so I’ve decided to make this draft up in a purple linen to see if it’s more flattering and if it actually gets worn. I’ll be lowering the hem line about 2″ so that it falls mid knee but if I end up using it for the batik I might raise the hem another 1/2″.

Hopefully this skirt goes better than my the seersucker (which will be going in the wash today – wish me luck). I’m really looking forward to using a new straight waistband technique so I’ll post production pictures as well.

May 16, 2011

Theme: Masculine

From top to bottom, left to right: 1. Dark wood grain 2. My husband’s favorite belt 3. Broadcloth from Vogue Fabric 4. Copper pipes 5. The watch my husband bought me 6. Grey wool 7. Striped shirting fabric 8. Geometric pattern

Menswear for women has been a popular trend in the last few years and it seems to be going strong through fall 2011. Save for a few pieces, however, there won’t be many masculine style lines in my fall/winter wardrobe. To me, masculine means materials – woods, metals, and leathers – so naturally, you’ll find the majority of this theme in my fabric and notion selection. You can expect woolens, tweeds, and shirting fabrics but you’ll also be seeing masculine prints like geometric patterns and stripes. In addition, closures, accents, and accessories will all be inspired by this theme.

May 14, 2011

Color Palette Fall/Winter 2011

I’ve worked up a preliminary scheme for the wardrobe based on Palette #1. You’ll notice that the tones are quite a bit darker – this is due to my style inspiration and will, hopefully, make sense as I unveil the theme in the next few weeks. I’m really excited with the grouping and I think it will work into a very wearable wardrobe. The next step will be to collect fabric samples based on these colors. I already have the green – it’s the cotton/silk fabric that I’m using for my school project. I’ll be shopping for the others this week and can’t wait to show you all what I find!

Want a tip for carrying around your color palette? Pick up those color sample cards you find in the paint section of the hardware store. They are small enough to fit in your wallet and there’s enough variety to find the color you are looking for. I usually offer to pay for mine since I’m not shopping for paint but my hardware store has yet to accept my money.

May 13, 2011

Wardrobe Essentials

I’ve been dreading this post. For a week now I’ve been contemplating where to begin with this wardrobe and have felt completely lost. I’ve googled wardrobe lists, looked at dozens of 30 for 30 blog posts, and browsed the bookstore for style guides. Still nothing jumped out at me as the starting point for this project.

Despite the beautiful weather we’ve been having here in the Bay Area, I’ve been seeking refuge indoors from some horrendous allergies. Yesterday, I found myself watching some cable TV and stumbled upon Dresscue Me which is about Shareen Vintage in Los Angeles. I’d rather not get into how I really feel about this show/store but I did have a revelation regarding my collection. Before a commercial break, Shareen was asked to list her top wardrobe essentials. My ears perked up in an effort to find the quick fix to my wardrobe dilemma only to be disappointed when Shareen returned to say that the wardrobe essentials were the items in a persons closet that made them feel the greatest.

But it dawned on me later – that’s exactly where I should start. This project is about making a wearable wardrobe for me so what better than my go-to items to dictate my fall wardrobe. I’m leaving my list purposefully vague in order to translate into my fall collection but here’s my top 10:

  1. A great pair of jeans
  2. A cropped blazer
  3. A little black dress
  4. A silk blouse in a light color
  5. A silk blouse in a dark color
  6. A casual A-line skirt
  7. A pair of dark slacks
  8. A lightweight crew-neck sweater
  9. A black mini skirt
  10. A printed blouse

So what’s the next step? It’s time to define the style of the fall/winter collection. To keep myself focused, I’m going to describe my vision in three words. For the next three weeks, each Monday I’ll post an inspiration board for these words so that you can get a greater sense of what I’m envisioning and I have something to refer back to as I get deeper into the project.