Archive for July, 2011

July 30, 2011

Evaluating My Closet

What a week! If I had known what I was in store for, I would have saved my mental vacation. Between a back-breaking work week and my school work, I’ve had it. Since I have very little new to show you, I thought I’d go through my closet and pull some garments that I expect to use in my fall wardrobe.

From left to right: a black skirt from JCrew, black jersey dress by She-Bible, grey tweed jacket by Tabitha, blue silk habotai camisole from JCrew.

Fairly straight forward garments but I think they’ll mix nicely with the ones I have planned. I’ve had the majority of these pieces for quite a while and for the most part they’ve held up. I need to get the jacket cleaned to see if it will pop back into shape. The arms have definitely stretched out and it looks a little sloppy at the moment.

In other news, I’m working hard on my class projects in the hopes of using my own patterns for my fall blouses. My deadline is looming though and I’m definitely feeling the crunch! This week has been all about dart manipulation and I hope to have everything drafted and sewn by the end of next week. I should have some progress pictures for you on Monday.

Hope you enjoy your weekend!


July 25, 2011

Storing Muslins

There’s been a lot of talk lately about muslins and I thought I’d chime in and talk about what I do with mine after a garment is finished.

I make a lot of muslins for my pattern drafting class. In the skirt section alone, I sewed roughly twenty five muslins and went through almost thirty yards of material! My instructor recommended saving the muslin and the finished pattern in a manila folder and storing the folders in banker boxes. However, I found that this was a little too ‘out of sight, out of mind’ for me and instead chose to hang them in a closet off of my sewing room.

My muslins are an incredible resource! For nearly any type of skirt, I have a fitted pattern and a muslin to go with it. If I get an idea for a garment, I can go in my closet, select the appropriate style, and play around. I can tack on pockets or embellishments, play around with decorative seams or yokes, or futz with hem length. If I change shape, the muslin can be used to rework the original pattern.

At the end of each unit, I go through my muslins and decide which to keep and which to scrap. For the most part, I’ve been saving the majority of designs but occasionally I’ll run into a style that just doesn’t suit me (like my asymmetrical draft). If I do scrap a muslin, the material can be used for interfacing and scrap material so material rarely goes to waste.

Do you save your muslins? If so, how do you store them? Have you ever actually used a muslin once a garment is complete?

July 22, 2011

Mental Vacation

I took a little mental vacation this week to organize myself and my space for upcoming projects.

  • I took my moulage to sloper.

I’ve been really motivated to get this done because I would like to use my own designs for my wardrobe this fall. I’ll start dart manipulation next week and I hope to be at lines by the end of August.

  • I started planning two knit pieces for fall.

I have sweater quantities of this green and blue Madelintosh Merino Light that I would like to use. Both colors are in my Fall Color Palette and I’ve been really excited to knit with this yarn. I’m thinking a crewneck pullover for one and a loose cardigan for the other but I’m not totally sure.

  • I started dreaming about a trip that my husband and I are taking this fall.

We don’t have anything solidified yet so I feel hesitant to discuss it in much detail (lest I jinx it!). I should be able to purchase tickets next week and then I can start spilling the beans.

  • I cleared my sewing stuff out of the kitchen and put it in the back room.

This is the first place that we’ve lived where I’ve had enough space for a designated sewing room but yet I still haul all of my sewing equipment out and sew in the kitchen. The two things that are holding me back from enjoying the back room are the lack of good natural light and a cramped feeling. Both of these things are easily fixed but I need to set aside some time to take care of it.

I’ll be back tomorrow with regular updates but until then I’d love to hear what you all have been up to this week!

July 15, 2011

Creative Experimentation

School has me pretty busy lately working to understand the moulage. I’m at the final stages with both mine and my husband’s second drafts and I should be able to take them to slopers next week. It’s all pretty exciting but it can be mind-bending work at times. I like to break up these head-y moments with a little creative experimentation. Last night I took out my drafting paper and Tomoko Nakamichi’s Pattern Magic books and played around with adding bows to garments.

I ended up following the directions for the knot dress from book 1 and adding the bow to (none other than) the Sorbetto. I wanted to see how it sewed up and being low on muslin (not to mention that it would be pretty stiff for the draping) I found some scraps of cotton voile.

When I make this “for real” I’m going to redraft the bow manipulation to drape from the sides (I simply eliminated the bust dart) as well as the arms. It’s just a little too much at the top and doesn’t look balanced to me. In addition, I ended up with about 1 inch of fabric leftover near the “knot ease”. You can’t actually see it but if I were to use a fabric that frayed (like this cotton voile!), the edges wouldn’t be finished. I’m not entirely sure where this extra bulk is coming from though, so it’s proving to be a difficult problem to solve.

This project had me thinking about an exhibit at the Museum of Craft and Folk Art from earlier this year. The exhibit showcased the work of Sister Corita, an artist, teacher and activist. There was one particular piece that really caught my attention that I wanted to share with you. I find myself thinking about these rules and how they reflect what the creative experience means to me. Recently, Rule 4 has become my mantra.

The Rules Remade
Jenifer K. Wofford (
2011 Commission

What are you experimenting with lately?

July 12, 2011

Sorbetto Three Ways

When I finished my last Sorbetto, I mentioned that I felt like the neckline was lacking something. I was thinking of adding some embellishments to give it a little more pop but wasn’t sure what. However, I was hanging around the house alone on Sunday and started styling the top in different ways and I’ve decided that with this one, less is more!

I have a predilection towards pieces that have tons of personality. However, once in my closet they tend to be the monogamous sort. I’m sure you know the type – those shirts that only go with one pair of pants. Well, this is what I’ve been trying to get away from to make my wardrobe more versatile. I don’t think that means my garments will be boring – I certainly don’t think the pintucks are plain – but just more strategic with their embellishments.

I’ve decided that my corded pintuck Sorbetto is the perfect blank canvas. It’s not lacking in personality but the outfits are limitless. I found that it went with the majority of my closet and accessories. How great is that? I took a couple (albeit grainy) pictures to show you a few stylings:

You know what else surprised me? In the mirror, I thought that the most flattering one was the untucked loose version and that I looked my worse in the belted outfit. In pictures, that’s absolutely the opposite! I love the belted outfit! Does this ever happen to you all? Has blogging and documenting your clothes changed your perception of what looks best on you?

July 11, 2011

Feet for Pintucks: An Experiment

I was talking (well, typing) with Lavender of Thread Square about pintucks the other day and she mentioned wanting to try them but not having the appropriate foot. It got me thinking about whether a pintucking foot was really needed to get the desired affects so I did a little experiment. I made pintucks with a 3,0/75 twin needle using three different feet on a piece of scrap fabric from my latest Sorbetto. Here are my results:

1. Using a standard foot ([A] on my Janome) and tension set to 8
2. Using a shallow groove foot and tension set to 8
3. Using a deep groove foot and tension set to 8
4. Using a standard foot and tension set to 3


As you can see, it’s possible to make a pintuck using a standard foot! In fact, pintuck (1) was wider than the two that were made using the “proper” feet. I found that by changing the thread tension it was possible to change the width of the pintuck when using a standard foot. Bare in mind that it wasn’t until the tension was set to 3 that the fabric laid flat. I believe this is due to the cotton voile’s weight and with heavier weights you’ll find that the fabric will be more resistant to “tucking”.

I was surprised to find that there wasn’t much of a difference between the shallow groove and the deep groove’s pintuck widths. It would seem that when it comes to pintucks, the only reason to have a variety of feet would be for corded pintucks (to accommodate various cord sizes). Can anyone tell me if this assumption is correct?

It’s worth noting that it’s completely possible to make pintucks without a twin needle, I just find them easier (and frankly funner) with one. If you are using a single needle then a grooved foot isn’t necessary unless you’re using cording. If this is the case then you could also substitute with an invisible zipper foot.

*Edited to Add* I’ve been calling the one of the feet that I used in this experiment a “standard foot (A)” but just to be completely clear it is actually called a “zig-zag foot A” or an “all purpose foot” in the Janome catalog.

July 9, 2011

Sock Blanket

I started this sock blanket last summer but put it away after about 20 squares to focus on some other projects. I’ve been sewing so much lately that my knitting has been cast aside. Being a beginner, however, means that sewing requires all of my attention and recently I’ve wanted a small, mindless project that I could work on while watching a movie with Kelley. These little squares are the perfect project for this. I’m hoping to have the knitting portion done by September so that I can back and bind the blanket. I think it will make for a beautiful throw this fall/winter.

July 7, 2011

Corded Pintucks

If I was on America’s Next Top Model, tonight I would have been sent packing because I still have not learned how to find the light….

I would blame the photographer for not telling me. However, considering that I gave him about two minutes to take the perfect picture of my new Sorbetto it would be rather unfair. Here’s what happened:

Yesterday, I dragged my husband into class with me so that I could fit his moulage. I had every intention of going immediately home to get to work on this project but we wound up at the San Francisco Ferry Building and got very distracted with all the delicious food. We wound up at home in the late evening about ten hours after we originally left. I was just too exhausted and, like every good seamstress, I know that beginning a project tired can spell disaster. However, I figured that I’ve made the Sorbetto in under two hours and I could do it again. Unfortunately, I failed to remember that I intended on “lining” this one and this meant that I would be, essentially, making two! So my two hour project turned into a five hour project and I finished five minutes before my husband was leaving for a group bike ride.

I didn’t want to leave you all with an amateur photo so I after Kelley left, I took a few shots on the dressform.


Pattern: Sorbetto

Fabric: Cotton Voile from (about 2 yards in all)

Notions: 3 yards of 1/2″ bias tape, twin needle (3,0/75), and pearl cotton size 5

Cost: approx. $6


I have never made corded pintucks before, so I was pretty excited with the poll results. I read up on the technique in Fine Machine Sewing by Carol Laflin Ahles and tried my best to match the cording with the needle size. I think, though, if I were to do it again, I would use either larger cording or a smaller needle. This match doesn’t quite fill the entire tube.

 I made a little gauge swatch this morning to see how much the pintucks pulled in the fabric and found that with the size of needle and cording that I was using was taking about 1/8″ for every wale. I was going to manipulate the pattern to accommodate this but then it occurred to me that it might be easier and cleaner to pintuck the uncut fabric first and then cut the pattern after I was finished.

I constructed both tops separately and then staystitched the garments together before putting the neck and armhole binding on. If I had been thinking straight, I should have made the garment reversible but the lining’s wrong side is next to the skin. Oh well.

I must say that compared to my first Sorbetto my stitch-in-the-ditch is really improving.

I used french seams throughout and also a one thread dart. I learned this technique recently at my Sewing with Difficult Fabrics class and am just in love! The points don’t pucker and it’s really cleaning looking.

Construction-wise, I’m thrilled with this blouse. Design-wise, I feel like something is missing especially along the neckline. Do you see that? I’m going to play around with some embellishments this week and see if I can solve it.

I just wanted to thank you all again for participating in the Sorbetto Modification Poll. I have so much more respect for the ladies at Sew Weekly! Sewing on a deadline and with a theme is hard but I hope to keep up these little challenges. It think they’re really good for my creative spirit.

July 5, 2011

Reader’s Choice

Thank you so much for everyone who voted for the Sorbetto Modification! The results are in:

Over 50% of you wanted to see corded pintucks on my next Sorbetto and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I’ve worked with tucks and pintucks but haven’t used cording in them before so I’m excited to try out a new technique.

I’ve washed and prepped the fabric I’ll be using. I picked a cotton voile in a cream with little white polka dots and I’ll be backing it with a navy blue cotton voile because it is very sheer. I think the stiffness of the voile will really make the pintucks pop.

Have you ever used corded pintucks in a garment? Do you have any tips or tricks for me?

I’ll be back on Thursday with pictures of the finished product!

July 4, 2011

Pink, White, Blue…

and a smattering of green. Hey! I tried to keep the holiday theme going.

Last week’s theme over at Sew Weekly was UFO’s and up until yesterday, I was under the impression that I didn’t have any. However, while organizing some fabric I came across this large rectangle stitched in half and I remembered! Almost four years ago, when I first started sewing, I envisioned this scarf and tried to make it up. Seems simple enough but I just didn’t have the knowledge and I struggled with the fringe and finishing up the edges discreetly. So instead of being turned into a scarf it got shoved back in with the fabric.

When I found the project yesterday, I just had to resurrect the project. Armed with newly found skills, I finished the scarf over my morning coffee and am really happy with it.

To construct I unraveled about 6 inches of weft to create the fringe. Then, I used a baby hem on the vertical edges. At this point, I gathered a finger full of fringe and tied a knot near the base. Pretty simple – the majority of my time was spent pulling the threads for the fringe.

The fabric is a Kaffe Fassett shot cotton in fuschia. It’s a really lovely lightweight fabric that would be perfect for a summer blouse. In fact, Very Purple Person just finished a shirt for her husband with a solid shot cotton. This project and Very Purple Person’s post reminded me of how much I love this fabric and I think that I’ll try and make a shirt from it before the summer is over.

Remember to vote (here) for your favorite Sorbetto modification today if you haven’t already. The poll is closing tonight at midnight!  Poll is closed.