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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Treasure from Emma One Sock

Here is an interesting knit fabric that I ordered from Emma One Sock http://www.emmaonesock.com/
 It is a poly/spandex knit. I am planning on using it for a tunic similar to this:

 I will cut the hem straight on this next tunic to take advantage of the amazing border print!

Pre-washing Fabric

 More and more I wash fabrics prior to cutting out a garment. Actually, I frequently wash them before adding them to my stash. As clothing has become more relaxed and less "buttoned up" fabric that doesn't look brand new is more stylish and comfortable.
Here is a photo of some linen yardage.The piece on the left is unwashed and the piece on the right has been washed. The picture may not show the contrast very well, but I much prefer the look and feel of the fabric on the right.

  I serge the cut edges so that the fabric doesn't fray, and then I throw it in the washer and the dryer.
If after the first round the fabric still hasn't softened to my liking I will repeat the process.
 I have washed all types of fabrics including silk and wool. A hard finished wool that looks like it needs to be made into a very tailored garment can soften and get a little "fuzzy" making it suitable for a more relaxed styled garment.
 It is no surprise that this process will frequently shorten the yardage, sometimes significantly, but the surprises that emerge from the dryer are often very exciting!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Helping the Economy

We have a new shoe store in town. Today I stopped by to check it out. It is really cool, and carries many brands of shoes that I have never seen before. The fellow who waited on me has been selling shoes for 40 years and really knows how to choose the right shoe for each customer.  He had me try on a lot of shoes. I chose a really comfortable pair of black flats to help me cope with the hardwood and tile floors in our house, and then he said wait for a minute and be brought out these shoes.

 These shoes are unbelievable comfortable and quite chic with the aged "platinum" leather and the nickle studs. I love, love these shoes!!

 There was a 20% discount on purses so I also bought a Baggalini purse.

  This purse is great! It has many pockets and it is light weight and sort of  sporty and sophisticated at the same time.
 Two pair of shoes and a purse "set me back" a fair amount, and then I came home and wanted to shoot some blog photos, but discovered that my camera had finally conked out, so I went back out and bought a new point-and-shoot camera.
 Gee, that was a big day!  I am glad that I helped some local retailers and had a lot of fun, too!!!!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Covered Button Tool

Here are some photos of a fantastic tool that I bought about 14 years ago at an estate sale. It is one of my favorite tools. I don't use it really frequently, but when I need it I am always SO happy that I have it available!

 This is a button covering machine. It produces the beautiful covered buttons that I used to have to order by mail. This thing is very heavy!!

                     Covered buttons used to be very popular for "The Woman of Fashion"!

       The machine came with a die cutter set for each of the many sized buttons it can make.

                                     Here are button fronts and backs for one of the styles...a half ball button.          
      I love having the ability to make covered buttons in my shop! All of the original paperwork was included with the machine. It is even older than I am, but with the way it is built it is sure to out last me!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Style Arc Patterns

                 I just ordered my first Style Arc patterns: http://www.stylearc.com.au/stylearc/

Lizzie Wrap

Gina Tucked Top

                  There are quite a few patterns in the collection that call to me, but I am going to
                   start with these two. There is a bonus of this free pattern during the month of April!

Friday, April 12, 2013


 This is a cape that I made a few months ago. It is a rayon/poly knit. I used Vogue Pattern  8776.

Vogue 8776

 The blue/grey knit fabric drapes beautifully and looks good with my grey hair! I wore this to a surprise anniversary party over a black turtleneck sweater, narrow black pants and knee high black boots. I felt quite chic!
 I looked for buttons in my giant button stash, and also at the fabric store but couldn't find any buttons that seemed right, so I got out my button covering tool, and made my own buttons. Now that I am writing this I think that I will do a blog post about that tool. It is fantastic!!!!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Sewing Weather!

                       This photo shows why today will be a day devoted to sewing!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Thoughts on Fitting

 I have been thinking a lot about garment fit lately. It is one of the most important aspects of sewing, and one of the most challenging to master. I had a class of new students this week, and I thought of a way to describe the importance of learning pattern alterations.
  If a sewist puts together a garment without checking for fit prior to cutting, then essentially she is investing a lot of time and money to discover that the garment does not fit. At least when shopping for ready-to-wear we learn of poor fit the minute that we see ourselves in the mirror in the fitting room. Making a garment that fits poorly takes a lot of time!
 For people new to sewing the discord between the size they wear in ready-to-wear and the correct  size pattern  is often the first hurdle. I am sure that there are many people who enthusiastically choose a pattern without  comparing their own measurements to that of the pattern. In fact it is likely that the majority of novice sewists don't even know their own measurements.
  A reasonable person would feel safe cutting a size 12 pattern if they usually wear a size 12 in ready-to-wear. I actually usually wear a size 8 in purchased clothing, but I use a size 12 pattern. This is not a huge problem unless we don't understand this discord.
 One of my favorite fitting books is "The Perfect Fit" from the Singer Reference Library.

 The copyright on my copy of this book is 1987, so it is far from current. That however doesn't mean that it isn't a very useful book! The photographs of real women in ill fitting garments accompanied by very clear photographs and written descriptions of flat pattern alterations are the most user friendly of any fitting book I have ever read.

 The dated 1980's  styles should be overlooked as the information is so valuable. Actually for those of us who sewed in the 1980's it is really sort of fun to revisit those styles!
 I have recommended this book for years, and find that it is always available at half.com www.half.com   or from Amazon. I have ordered copies for as little as $.75 plus shipping at half.com.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Silk top with Abalone Buttons

  Here are a few photos of a silk top that I made. I washed the silk jacquard to soften the fabric and then I designed a sleeveless top to feature some of my gorgeous antique abalone buttons.

                   Narrow knotted bias ties  embellish the placket on each side of the buttons.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Gravity Feed Iron

                               One of the very favorite tools  is a gravity feed iron.

Gravity Feed Iron
 This type of iron is  heavy (approx 4 1/2 lbs). This weight improves the iron's  pressing capabilities.
Gravity feed irons are fitted with a water tank that is suspended approximately 3 feet above the ironing surface.

Water tank with filter crystals

There is a valve and plastic tubing that carries the water from the tank into the iron's steam chamber.
There are filter crystals (they are dark blue in the photo) that are an added insurance that there is no sediment that can build up on the inside of the iron even with the use of distilled water.
 This iron puts out beautiful, even steam, and never "spits". The steam flow is controlled with a button on the handle. I set the temperature carefully at a low enough temperature to ensure that fabrics don't melt, and high enough that the combination of the steam, heat, and weight of the iron conquer any wrinkle.
 The Namoto iron that I have is very high quality. It is turned on in my sewing studio at least 10 hours a day. It sits on a rubber pad as opposed to sitting on it's end like a household iron.
 This brand of iron is about $400 but lasts for years. I purchased a less expensive gravity feed iron for my daughter, and at $120 it is fine for her purposes. I have students who also run out and buy this type of iron after using mine.
 These irons can also be used vertically to steam wedding gowns, etc.
 Once you have tried a gravity feed iron you may wonder how you can sew without one.