Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Just Keep Sewing, Just Keep Sewing...Pants!

To complete my wardrobe I need to make some pants, but my fluctuating size and food gut issues abound. Therefore, I've been looking for patterns that will allow for these spontaneous changes in shape. I kept seeing the elastic waist Style Arc Barb pant mentioned. While doing my research and checking how the finished garments looked on other sewists, I found out that by signing up for the Style Arc newsletter here I could receive a FREE pdf copy of the Barb pattern. This pattern could be made in a ponte or a stretch woven like the stretch bengaline from Jo-Anns. I could try out the company's pattern drafting and fit first before actually paying for one of their regularly priced patterns. I selected the size 14 (W: 33.5 in. H: 42.5 in.) and they graciously sent over the pattern in that size along with sizes 12 and 16. I had been debating buying their Style Arc Ebony pant (which I went ahead and already bought with the Lola on sale!), whose design detail around the abdomen area would work to flatter my new silhouette.

Style Arc Barb, Ebony, and Lola

The suitable fabrics that I have in my stash for pants are already assigned to specific patterns: a gray ponte meant for Vogue 1411, a Sandra Betzina design with interesting seam lines; chocolate brown stretch poplin to make a muslin for the Built By Wendy pants in Sew U, and an army green stretch woven meant for the final Sew U pants. The only currently free fabric, a gorgeous gray marl woven, was originally meant for a pair of Vogue 1922, then a pair of New Look 6216; unfortunately, now both patterns would need extensive alteration to match the image in my head. However, it could be perfect for the Ebony, but I would like to start with a more practical pant/fabric combo first.

So, my choices for venturing into introductory pants production are Vogue 2002, an OOP Calvin Klein designer pattern from the 90s with a side zipper and a flared leg; Simplicity 1283, a flare leg Mimi G. design that Kyle of Vacuuming the Lawn recommends (minus some of the flare for mine), and the free Barb pant, a simple elastic-waist slim cut pant:

Vogue 2002, Simplicity 1283, and Style Arc Barb

The true goal is to get the front and back rise correct, along with the c-curve so that I can transfer those measurements and shapes to all my pants. So first, I need a winning test sample that doesn't frustrate me or make me dread making more pants, so I'm going to start with the Barb stretch pant.

Have you made any of these and do you have any comments or advice that might help?

Monday, September 26, 2016

Yup, It's Another Bloody* Sewing Plan!

Okay, I've decided, I need to publish this before I change my mind again. I created those first two sewing plans a month ago, and either because of fabric shortage or unsuitability, I've already had to eliminate two projects and may have lost love for two others. Note: I am not allowing myself to buy any additional fabric, so I must already have what I need for the project or not. Notion purchases are allowed though.

So this is what's going on at the moment:

  • Grainline Studio Scout: A matching top for this skirt but it isn't the right shape.
  • Seamster Yellow Tail Camisole: I didn't have enough fabric to make this top.
  • New Look 6977: No more short sleeve tops.
  • Butterick 5429: A TNT top made with winter white ponte.
  • New Look 6216: Only pair of shorts sewn this summer. DONE
  • New Look 6216: Made a navy and gray stripe t-shirt dress. DONE
  • McCall's 7381: Still debating on this one. I'm leery about all that fullness in the bodice?
  • Simplicity 5289: My ponte raglan dress needs a neckband, hem, and topstitching.
  • New Look 6859: Planned in 2010, I need to cut another muslin, the last one was in 2011.
  • Grainline Studio Morris: Scared to mess this up but need this now!
  • McCall's 7254: This new pattern will hopefully motivate me to work on the other jackets.
  • Simplicity 1283: The ponte for this skirt was not thick enough and needs new lining.
  • Built By Wendy Sew U pants: Considerable alteration work needed because I don't want them to be low-riders and I am now larger than the largest size in the book.
  • Vogue 1411: I will make a muslin before I cut into the gray ponte.
  • Style Arc Barb's Stretch Pants: Already made a muslin but they were too tight. DONE
  • Style Arc Ebony: Will be made in 2017 for summer.
*I've been streaming a lot of British sitcoms lately, like Siblings, Crashing, and My Mad Fat Diary!

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Better Late Than Never Philly Report

A few months ago, my older sister invited me to visit her in New Jersey sometime this summer. Well, a few weeks ago I decided to take her up on that offer. Over the 20+ years that she's lived there visits mostly revolved around my nieces and nephew so traveling into oh-so-close Philadelphia just didn't happen. The last time I went into Philly with her was over 20 years ago when she first moved up there. I took a week-long jewelry class at the Moore College of Art and stayed with her in a townhouse on South Street. Sweet, right? Well, on this trip, I vowed to get back into the city...and I did.

I took Amtrak and of course finally read last year's big book (and this year's awaited movie) The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins. I had wanted to read this on my last train trip to Florida but the paperback version wasn't available yet and it didn't feel right to have it on my Nook. When I arrived, I had about 1/4 of the book left to finish on the return trip home.

Hard Rock Cafe on Market Street
1st Day:

The only plans that I made was to meet up with Kyle from Vacuuming the Lawn on the first day of my four-day trip. Kyle was one of the first blogs I read and in 2010 (!) she even sent me this fabric when I expressed that I loved it on her blog. That fabric became two of my favorite well-worn garments even though I think it's really for swimsuits or active wear. She suggested meeting at Reading Terminal Market (12th and Arch Street) for lunch.

As soon as we walked in I saw the most delicious little cakes by the Termini Brothers. They stayed in the back of mind for the rest of the day. I bought one of their limoncello ones on the way out of the city that day and again two days later when I came back in. Sooooo goooood! Melts in your mouth and so creamy. So good, in fact, that I checked to see if they were one of the preferred vendors for my nieces wedding venue...and they are! Hmmm...wonder if the wedding couple likes lemon?

Kyle and THAT amazing bag!

After a great grilled cheese sandwich lunch at Meltkraft (I got the Brielle: cranberry chutney, Brie, carmelized onions, and pine nuts!), the Fabric Workshop and Museum (1214 Arch Street) was to be our first stop; however, they didn't have an exhibit going on at the time. Kyle suggested that we instead catch the Vlisco exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art instead and I said yes, please!

Philadelphia Museum of Art


Hero collection, season 1, 2014

Gala Dress from Congo, 2016

Frozen Dreams Collection, 2009

The Vlisco: African Fashion on a Global Stage exhibition was at the Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building of the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2525 Pennsylvania Avenue) This exhibit was amazing. the clothes were amazing and I wish my camera had been better to capture all the little details. I loved how these seemingly elaborate textiles used the simplest of subjects or images and manipulated them by placement or repetition into intricate patterns and then how the use of the color combinations and layering of hues elevated them even more.


I had a great time with Kyle, she is exactly as she seems on her blog, funny, kind, laid-back, extremely talented, and above all generous. Don't get jealous but look what she gave me at lunch! Yes, it matches that amazing leather bag that she had just finished. A bag that if I didn't read her blog I would have assumed she bought, and yes it does feel like "but-tah". I am chuffed and honored to receive this gift and it should motivate me to make myself a bag that deserves this tassel. Thank you, Kyle! Hopefully, I will see you again at PR Weekend 2017!

On my way out of the city that day, after picking up my 1st limoncello cake, I stopped by their beautiful old school Macy's and then took a few pictures of the Philadelphia City Hall (1401 John F. Kennedy Blvd.) and it's lovely architecture.

2nd Day:

My sister and my BIL told me that the new Philadelphia Pennsylvania LDS (Mormon) Temple (1739 Vine Street) was recently constructed and because it had not yet been dedicated and blessed it was available for non-members to tour until September 9. They had toured the one in Salt Lake City and wanted to see what could be seen in a temple pre-dedication. So two days later, I went back into the city for our two-hour tour.

There was a short video presentation we were shown before the tour but surprisingly besides that, there was  no religious pressure as could be expected. The building was gorgeous and loving interior details as I do, there was always something to notice from the huge and varied floral arrangements in the halls to the fact that the cornices, millwork, and even the door hardware and handles became more elaborate while the finishes seemed more expensive as we ascended floor by floor. No interior pictures were allowed during the visit but pictures can be seen online, in particular for the baptistry and celestial room.

Because of the newness of everything, we were required to place white protective casings over our shoes to protect the new carpet from dirt. I really wanted to get a picture of us with these on, but there just wasn't time. So, just imagine a group of twenty adults people shuffling along the staircases of this structure with basically chef hats on our feet.

The temple as seen from the adjacent roof garden.
After our tour as we walked from the Temple downtown we passed this unique sculpture honoring Benjamin Franklin on the highway overpass at 17th Street and Vine.

Big Ben at Franklin Town
We also passed through Comcast Center in order to view the Comcast Experience video wall.

Comcast Experience video wall, at the Comcast Center.
After a delicious lunch at at Parc Brasserie in the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood, we took a long walk back through the city and stopped by Reading Terminal Market so I could pick up my second Termini Bros. limoncello cake before we took the Broad Street Line back to AT&T Center and then home to New Jersey.
As it turned out, that was the extent of my visits to the city because I decided to hang in Jersey for the rest of the visit. I had a friendly puppy to play with, good food, and excellent Wi-Fi. To be honest even though the weather was fabulous the entire time, the constant walking really took a beating on me and my out of shape legs!

Yes, there were other sewing-related places I had planned on visiting; however, after talking to Kyle about our current and future projects I couldn't stop thinking about all the fabric and patterns I had left at home and how I shouldn't buy anything new, so these stops will wait for another trip: Jomar* (22 Jackson St and 2590 Grant Ave); Butcher's Sew Shop (800 S 8th Street); Fabric Row on South Street; or MADE Studio (305 Cherry Street).

*So which Jomar is the best one to go to?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Put Your Feet Up #2 - Custom Ottoman Slipcover

Ta Da!

Goal: Custom-fitted slipcover for a 62" wide octagonal ottoman on wooden legs.

Original condition: The original top was constructed in eight wedges and tufted in the middle with a self-fabric covered button. The wooden skirt mounted below the upholstery ends in four tapered legs connected underneath by an x-stretcher.

Fabric: Three yards of lime green vinyl "leather" (100% PVC Face/100% polyester for $3 per yard (Purchased at the same time as four yards of green, brown, teal and orange woven ikat print* for $2.70 per yard) from Hancock Fabrics during their Going Out Of Business sale.

Construction: The fabric was just wide enough to cover the ottoman with a few inches of overhang. I arranged it over the ottoman so that the two selvage edges hung down equal.

Turning the fabric inside out, at each point of the octagon I pinned the fabric into a dart, creating a snug fit. I basted the darts and retried the slipcover. I re-pinned some of the darts till I liked the fit and then trimmed the length, trying to cut it all even to the shortest hanging section.

Because I did not want to apply actual heat to the fabric I held steam above the vinyl, making sure not to get too close and then pressed the seams allowances to the side using my quilting ruler. I really must buy a clapper soon!

After I placed the darted cover on the ottoman I realized that even though the darts fit snugly, the edges were not as snug as i wanted and were slightly sticking out from the sides. I needed a way to cinch in the cover and realized a simple horizontal band like the one on the tapestry version would not work in this more stretchy vinyl.

Using the selvage from the remainder fabric I cut lengths of 3 inches deep using my quilting ruler and rotary cutter and cutting enough fabric to go around the sides. I measured the circumference of the ottoman and seamed the sections together to fit that measurement exactly.

I now needed a way to cinch in the cover and realized a simple horizontal band like the one on the tapestry version would not work in this more stretchy vinyl. So I had to think of a way using elastic that would work.

My elastic sample

I used another piece of the fabric and created a channel that would just fit 1-inch wide elastic. I found it would be the best choice visually.

I also wanted a way to attach the band to the base cover and allow me to add the elastic in a way I could then hand sew the opening closed easily. I decided to create an opening in one of the seams that would allow me to pull the elastic through and then out of the "keyhole".

 There is a keyhole opening near the top of this topstitched seam.

I connected the strips of vinyl into a loop that matched the circumference of the ottoman and attached one side of it to the base cover.

Then I thought to make it easier, I could stitch one end of the elastic into the seam so I could place the elastic into the seam before I finished sewing the band to the cover. This way I wouldn't have to thread the elastic through the channel at all.

Folding the other side of the band up, enclosing the elastic.
I then stitched the other side of the band to the base and started to gather the band by pulling on the unattached end of the elastic.
Band attached: inside.
Band attached: outside.

As I pulled the elastic more and more, I started to get disillusioned as the bunchy mess I was looking at was not going to work and looked atrocious. But I kept pulling and pushing the gathers along, bit by bit, until the covered band started to naturally pull and curve under the wooden apron lip. Basically it's like a mushroom cap and I'm pretty proud of how the finished product looks.

*Note: I couldn't get the colors to come out accurate on these photos. But the fabric is amazing and coordinates with the existing sofa, loveseat, and throw pillows even though I chose the fabric purely from instinct and memory. Hurrah!