Friday, September 8, 2017

Sewing for Happiness- Self drafted Skirt and Top!

Sewing for happiness!

I hosted a party the first weekend of August,  a housewarming party for myself. My divorce is final and I am all moved into my own apartment in the city. Radio silence is over and I am coming to terms with my new life!
All smiles in my new outfit and in my new home!

Prior to this I had done a little bit of sewing here and there but nothing very inspired, it felt like something that I was doing because it felt safe and comforting and I needed that. I ended up spending a lot of time setting up my sewing space and feeling out my new space. You know what it's like! A new place and everything just has to find its right home. I never imagined how sweet it would feel to have my own place and to decorate how I wanted and not have to think about anyone else! It may sound a bit bit selfish... I needed some selfish time, I needed to find me and it felt liberating, freeing and just down right good!


Anyhow... as the the craziness, of any major life change causes, started to wind down I wanted to host a party and invite my friends to come and share in my happiness and to be a part of my new beginning. As I started to plan my party, I was suddenly very inspired to sew myself a new outfit. This outfit is one from my 2nd half of 2017 sewing plans! Woohoo!! I am so very good at putting together sewing plans but not always the best at following through with those plans!
This was a sketch that was included in the 'In the Sketchbook' series.
The original intent was to use the green as the under skirt.
 However, as I was constructing the skirt I changed my mind.
I am much happier with the light pink fabric as the second fabric.

Pink is a happy color for me and I really wanted to make a pink outfit that picks up the pink accents in my new place AND i wanted to just share my happiness through my clothes!

This is the same skirt pattern that I used for the yellow and black print skirt in 2016.
A great master pattern that I developed with guidance from Sarah Veblen.
The skirt is my own self drafted flippy A-line skirt. This is my third iteration of this skirt and I really like how this fits. This time I made it as a double layer skirt with the over layer being 2 inches shorter than the under layer. The light pink shirting under layer is a shirting remnant from Fabrics and Fabrics in NYC. The dark pink overlay is a beautiful linen remnant from my fabric collection. I used a lapped zipper application from Janet Pray method and it came out beautifully. I made one big oops on this skirt... I have 2 copies of the pattern, one for stretch wovens and one for non-stretch wovens and I accidentally used the wrong one which resulted in it being too small! UGH... I had to pick out the seams on both skirts and re sew them with a smaller seam allowance. I'm worried that this may have affected the integrity if the linen and am concerned I may have weakened the fabric at the seams. I guess only time will tel!  
Top left, right and bottom right: Lapped zipper application
Bottom left hand stitched hems on both layers. 


The top is a self drafted top with a back invisible zipper. The fabric was a remnant left from my Corner dress that I made last year. I like it that I was able to get an entire new outfit from remnants!
I drafted this from my master princess line button up bodice. I went with a wide U neckline and a partial collar. Some books call this a portrait neckline, although that may be a full collar and I have a split collar.  For the bodice hem I made a shaped hem, longer in the back, higher on the sides and then back down in the front. Back is lower than the front.

The sleeves have a detail that I have had on my mind for quite a while. I wanted to use a turn back wing detail with a facing in the dark pink linen. To get this detail to show as I wanted I used a trick from Sarah Veblen and first played with this in paper! I realized that when I kept the seam straight and just folded back the corners the fold back part, or the wing, was too small. I wanted something slightly more pronounced. I started by drawing on the pattern the size of the wing that I wanted. I then taped some paper onto the edge of the pattern and folded this back over the drawing and then traced it, unfolded the paper and cut along those lines. Once I got the wing size and shape to where I wanted it I then added seam allowances. With the facing made and the wing turned back I then went to my button collection and found light pink fabric buttons, in the perfect shade!, to sew to the seam line between the wings. This carried over the 2 shades of pink to the sleeve detail.


Left: Sleeve detail, top Right: double collar
Bottom Right: serge finished seam allowances.

Once the bodice and sleeves were done I put the garment on my Dottie and went to work drafting a collar.  The collar was drafted from muslin and basted onto the bodice to determine the size and shape. I first drafted the bottom collar. Once I had that I went on to the top collar. I actually cut a single layer for each out of scraps of the fashion fabric to get a good look. I left this overnight, made some final tweaks, developed patterns for both sets of collars and voila!!

Everything went together like a dream except for the back collar at the top of the invisible zipper. Just too many layers! 6 layers of fabric, 3 layers of interfacing and the zipper. Long story short... I ended up flattening it with a hammer 😳. Still a bit bulky but of course always more noticeable to the maker than anyone else!
I really like the hem shape of the top! it is very pleasing to my eye!

I think the final outfit was quite close to the original design except for the change of the under layer of the skirt fabric. 

Happy Sewing!!
So very happy to have the support of my girls!!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Some days you just need to sew!

With my blogging hiatus and my back up of posts things may be a little all over the place! kind of like life can be...

I moved back in May and have a place of my own and a wonderful new place to sew... Yes, I will do a proper introduction of my sewing space soon! Once, I was all settled in, I just felt like I just needed to sew. You know that feeling, the act of preparing fabric, planning the details, cutting it out and construction. By the time construction starts the process is almost completed! It just feels good to have your hands on something and before you know it... a new dress or two!



I went to a good old standby for this project, I didn't want to really think about too much. I pulled out a couple of knits and decided I could use a couple more wrap dresses. They are so dang versatile! They are great to wear while traveling, they take up such a small amount of space in the suitcase and you still look put together and smartly dressed.

2 new Appletons and one new topper, Marcy Tilton Vogue 8975. I almost never just sew up a pattern from the envelope. I almost always go back to my master pattern and re-draft for the design therefore insuring a great fit for my body. This was a total exception! It is such a weird pattern and there was not an easy way to look at it and ascertain how the puzzle of pattern pieces fit together. So I took my measurements and went for the corresponding pattern size and hoped for the best! One of these crazy toppers are enough for my wardrobe.



See what I mean...
that line drawing doesn't make any sense and the construction order is crazy.
Part of the side panels is attached to the sleeve and things just are weird...
Somehow it all works out!
One Appleton was done for summer, with short sleeves and a slimmer silhouette. The knit is also a lighter weight so feels great to wear in the heat. The accompanying topper makes it equally as comfortable in the summer indoor air conditioning. The Fabric for both the dress and the topper came from Fabrications in western Michigan. A lovely shop run by an even lovelier couple!
Bad hotel room selfies in the mirror!
This one shows the colors much better!

The second Appleton is the first of my fall sewing and has several modifications to it
1- I added a center back seam and took out a closed wedge. I did this because this is a beefier knit and I did not want the fabric to blouse out or bunch up. I wanted a smooth line from nape of my neck to the base of my spine.
2- I added width to the skirt to make it more full. This gives it a bit of a fit and flare look.
3- Addition of in-seam pockets. I love having pockets and miss them when I don't. So, I finally got my butt in order and added a set of pockets.
4- I added a ruffle or more accurately 'easy pleated trim' This was inspired from a Mary Ray day long seminar I took back in January. The technique she used was on a woven and I think cut on the bias. For mine I just cut 1 1/4 inch wide strips on the grain. I did a practice run to make sure I liked the technique and to see if I could easily do it. Heck yeah! It's the easiest thing to do. I just laid the dress down and sewed while I used my fingers to tuck the fabric at fairly even intervals under the presser foot. I did this all around the front edge. I started on the underlap side just about an inch below where it wraps over (to keep from having to much fabric bunched up under the overlap) and I sewed around the band and down the center front to the hem. Pleated and attached all in one go!

This fabric was a gift to me from a special sewing friend! I'm so glad she likes what I made!!
Applied 'easy pleated trim' It really just makes the garment pop!
Added in-seam pockets.
No pictures of me in this one yet.
 I love that the print is random enough that you can't tell there is a center back seam unless you really stare at it!

Sewing up those 2 garments really got my sewjo back into high gear!!

 Happy Sewing!!
Princess V and Me!




Friday, September 1, 2017

My fancy, fancy dress!!

Now that life has settled down into it's new normal, I realize that I have a backlog of blog posts! This one dates back to the beginning of May when the Haute Couture Club of Chicago had it's annual fashion show.

Wendy and I at a charity gala in Chicago.

I had several entries for the show but this one is by far one of my favorite and one of my biggest projects successfully completed. In my last In the Sketchbook post you saw the evolution of the sketches that led up to this final design. 
The design is all mine and the pattern was totally self drafted. I started out with my bodice master pattern and my skirt master pattern and figured out how to merge them into one with a little guidance from Sarah Veblen... hah!! who am I kidding!! It was a lot of guidance and it sure was good! I learned sooooooo much from this project. 

Muslin number 1.
Very first try from merging the bodice and skirt master patterns together.
Muslin number 3, I think... There were about a total of 6 muslins. 

Close to the end of the muslin stage.
This shows the final neckline I decided to go with.
I had multiple fashion fabrics, underlinings and linings and overlays... Lots and lots of handbasting and then a lot of handsewing. Almost as much if not more than the amount in my french jacket!

The main fabric of the dress was a superfine dark grey wool with a red pinstripe with the Savile Row  of London woven in the selvedge. Each panel of the princess lined dress was underlined with black silk organza to give it an extra bit of body. The 'V' insert was done with red silk georgette and the entire dress was lined entirely in red china silk except for the godets.

Fashion fabric from Savile Row via A Fabric Place in Baltimore and
the black organza hand basted to each piece. 

The godets along the hem of the dress were designed with the sizes graduating from the skinniest in the side fronts to the widest and longest in the center back. This gave a feeling of movement and the look of a slight train. Each godet was cut out of a layer of red silk organza with laser cut black scuba hand sewn to it. each of these were basted into the godet, sewn, trimmed and then the lining was hand stitched to the edge of each godet. 

Godets. I used the actual mislin pieces for my pattern pieces. Each piece of laser cut scuba was hand stitched to the organza in 1" spaced zig-zag rows so you could not see the stitching.

The jacket was self drafted from my master jacket pattern.. I was very careful with the front neckline so that you had a peek of the red silk georgette. The front bodice and the back yoke used a red and black circular jacquard with the laser cut scuba overlaid and hand stitched on and faced with the jacquard. the sleeves and the back were cut from red silk organza and again covered with the laser cut scuba and lined in red silk organza.
Sooooo much hand stitching!!
This was such an enjoyable garment to design and create!

I wore this at the HCCC fashion show 2017, Never in My Wildest Dreams.

Kind of a weird angle shot from the student photographer at the HCCC show. 
On the runway!


I wore this outfit to a charity gala in Chicago in June. I also plan on wearing it to the Opera. So exciting to have beautiful clothes to wear!



More Catch-up blog posts on their way!
Happy Sewing!
Princess Victoria taking time to smell the flowers!

Friday, August 25, 2017

In The Sketchbook- August 2017

Welcome to In the Sketchbook, a monthly look at fashion design sketches that we are working on for ourselves. Sketching garments on a personal croquis is a great way for the individual couture enthusiast to move beyond the use of commercial patterns and into a world of personalized design! It can be intimidating at first, but with a little bit of practice it becomes something you look forward to. Join us for a look of what we have going on In the Sketchbook! Brought to you by Wendy Grossman of Couture Counsellor and Steph King from Siouxzeegirl Designs.


It seems crazy that we are going into the last week of August!! Time sure has just flown by.

Several of my very good friends and I got together for several days of girls sewing time in Baltimore last weekend. It was so much fun and I feel like I have so many new ideas. Getting together to sew always gets my sewing mojo into high gear!

This month I did a lot of thinking about my fall and winter wardrobe. When I moved back in May, I embarked on a major de-cluttering project of everything I own. One area that I quickly realized that I was lacking in is outerwear. Nice outerwear. I have a puffy winter snow coat but am totally lacking in any nice wool coats or work appropriate coats and trench coats for the late fall/early spring and the deep cold Chicago winter.

I now have several fabrics to work from for all sorts of cold temperatures and have been going through some inspiration pictures and doing some sketching of ideas that I want to move forward on.

The first three sketches are of trench coat ideas in 2 different silhouettes. The first is a more traditional double breasted trench coat. It is OK, it certainly did not excite me enough to draw a back view!
Fairly typical looking trench coat.
 The next 2 are much more fun and have a bit more personality. The silhouette is fun and flirty and it has some personality. I showed it buttoned all the way up to ward off the rain. I am playing around with an idea in my head that includes a hood. I will need to sketch a couple more ideas around that. For me it would make sense to have a hood of some sort that will keep me nice and dry for the times that I don't have an umbrella handy. I'm wondering if it could be detachable or maybe one of those that roll up into the back collar or a back pouch... So many ideas!

Fun and flirty silhouette with some soft gathers on lower side panels,
inseam pockets, waist definition and some fun flap details.
eek... I really need to learn how to draw faces!



Next up are a couple wool coats. The first is a total knockoff from a designer coat that I really like that has a pricetag that is way out of my budget! I have some great ideas for this one!

Designer knockoff coat

The second is what I am calling my Public Transportation Coat. A utilitarian winter coat that will keep me snug as a bug while I walk to the train, catch a taxi or wait for an Uber. This will be wool, underlined with flannel and lined with a flannel backed satin. It will include zipper welt pockets, a zippered breast pocket for my metra card, as well as interior pockets. Three piece sleeves for easy mobility when all bundled up and the wrists will have internal knit cuffs to keep the elements out, I love that feature on winter coats! It will probably also have a main zip down the front to provide wind blockage which means most or all of the buttons will be purely decorative.

Hmmmm... looks like I forgot to add bottoms in this sketch! LOL!!
 A fun and well thought out winter coat!
Are you thinking of sewing for the next season? Usually I am so late to the game that I feel rushed. I suppose having a real need for these garments is keeping me on my toes!

Make sure to stop by Wendy Grossman of Couture Counsellor to see what lovely sketches and ideas she is working on. Please feel free to share your sketches and ideas!

Happy Sketching!

Friday, July 28, 2017

In the Sketchbook- July 2017

Welcome to In the Sketchbook, a monthly look at fashion design sketches that we are working on for ourselves. Sketching garments on a personal croquis is a great way for the individual couture enthusiast to move beyond the use of commercial patterns and into a world of personalized design! It can be intimidating at first, but with a little bit of practice it becomes something you look forward to. Join us for a look of what we have going on In the Sketchbook! Brought to you by Wendy Grossman of Couture Counsellor and Steph King from Siouxzeegirl Designs.


This month I want to show off a particular project. One that started as a series of sketches and eventually went through several iterations before I came up with my final sketch and dress!

I first started these sketches a full year ago! If you go back to my In the Sketchbook- July 2016 you can see the original post.



While I really like both of these ideas and still would like to make them someday, they just were not right for the fabrics. Every time I picked up the fabric and played with it I was so uninspired to turn them into either of these designs! 
So, I went back to the drawing board so to speak and continued sketching more ideas and I came up with this. This felt so much more inspired and less forced and more importantly it got me excited and I could not wait to get this beautiful design made into a garment. 




Here is the final garment! Stay tuned for a blog post on my adventures making this dress!


Make sure to stop by Wendy Grossman of Couture Counsellor to see what lovely sketches and ideas she is working on. Please feel free to share your sketches and ideas!

Happy Sketching!

Friday, June 30, 2017

In The Sketchbook- June 2017

Welcome to In the Sketchbook, a monthly look at fashion design sketches that we are working on for ourselves. Sketching garments on a personal croquis is a great way for the individual couture enthusiast to move beyond the use of commercial patterns and into a world of personalized design! It can be intimidating at first, but with a little bit of practice it becomes something you look forward to. Join us for a look of what we have going on In the Sketchbook! Brought to you by Wendy Grossman of Couture Counsellor and Steph King from Siouxzeegirl Designs.


Feels good to be getting back to a normal routine!

This month I have played with sketching both pants and colors.  In real life I am working on perfecting my master pants pattern. Sarah Veblen has been working with me on this and let me tell you, it has been one heck of a process! I have been learning so much about fit and crotch length and depth and how to make flat fabric mold around my body and look good. As well as how to not ignore the wrinkles!



I had a very good fitting master pants pattern back before all of the health issues. Fast Forward a year and a half, give or take a couple months, and a very big weight loss and now I am starting from scratch again.

As I look at these sketches, I realize that I need to adjust my croquis a bit for the hip size. I just need to take them in a bit in the width. 

I have been playing with pants ideas and with colors. My goal is to come up with a solid set of Master Patterns for pants. 

  •  Regular woven pants master. to be used for both work and casual use.
  •  Regular woven- stretch pants master for wovens with lycra.
  •  A knit pants master.
From those I can come with any number of great styles and shapes!





Cotton sateen or lighter weight denim in summer wider leg cuffed cropped look.

Long flowy pants, out of a drapey crepe fabric or a soft washed linen.

Shorts. I realize in this sketch they look unproportionately large! Mostly due to me just trying to draw in the details and such. My intent is not to actually look that way!!

Slim fit capri's out of a stretch woven. denim/lycra or cotton sateen/lycra. 

Slim fitting pants with fun pockets. Can be any woven bottoms fabric. A great basic!!
Make sure to stop by Wendy Grossman of Couture Counsellor to see what lovely sketches and ideas she is working on. Please feel free to share your sketches and ideas, leave either of us a comment or just link back to one of our posts.

Happy Sketching!






Monday, June 26, 2017

Sometimes life is a bit crazy...

Life getting crazy + moving to a new place + personal chaos =  time off from blogging and sewing!

Things are settling down
Life is renormalizing
The brain is becoming calmer
Tension is slowly dissipating
My smile is returning
Creative energy is starting to stir

AND

Sewing and designing is once again happening.

Regular blogging to commence soon!

Friday, March 31, 2017

In The Sketchbook- March 2017


Welcome to In the Sketchbook, a monthly look at fashion design sketches that we are working on for ourselves. Sketching garments on a personal croquis is a great way for the individual couture enthusiast to move beyond the use of commercial patterns and into a world of personalized design! It can be intimidating at first, but with a little bit of practice it becomes something you look forward to. Join us for a look of what we have going on In the Sketchbook! Brought to you by Wendy Grossman of Couture Counsellor and Steph King from Siouxzeegirl Designs.

This month I have 2 very different options for sketching that I often do. 
The first option is more of playing with an idea, quick sketching, adding notes, etc.. This can be done in pencil, marker, combinations.
The second option is more of a finalized sketch. It has gone through several iterations and this is is usually my final sketch of something that I really want to design and create. I almost always already have the fabric and am working in the colors that I will be using. This gets hung up on my cork board to keep the idea fresh in my head.


This is a mini notebook that Sarah Veblen gave to all of the attendees of her Design 1 class. I reduced the image of my croquis to fit in this little book and it is always in my purse. This lets me quickly pull it out and sketch some ideas if I see something that captures my interest. I often use this when I am on an airplane. I have my iPad with me and I keep a folder of inspiration photos and very often will go back through them and pick up new ideas that I want to try.

This idea for a pintuck panel at the bottom of a knit skirt came from inspiration photos that I took from the Mary Ray workshop I took in January. I think it will be a wonderful way to enhance a plain fabric. I also like the idea of a single side panel that incorporates a pocket.
Here you can see that I have jotted down several notes, including my thoughts on fabric type, construction ideas and general thoughts. this way when I go back to this at a later date it will jog my memory.


This one is also from inspiration from the Mary Ray workshop and it is a band at the bottom of the skirt with inset triangles. Again there are notes that include my ideas.
The same goes for the shirt sketch below- it is an idea to pair with the skirt and therefor making it a complete ensemble.
The really nice thing about all of these sketches is that they work right off of my master patterns and I can just add the details or make some minor changes without having to start from scratch.




This next set is playing with my markers and then into final sketches. Sometimes I just site and use the markers to play with ideas. I find that if I let my hands just go I can come up with quick ideas that capture the essence of the design I am thinking about... and sometimes it is just a mess! The thing about markers is that they are freeing, you can't go back and erase and change your mind. I just go quickly and see what happens.


Originally I was not even going to include this. However, I thought it might be nice to show that my first drafts are not always so nice at all! but they do capture the spirit of what I am going for.

The drawing on the left is the final iteration of the quick sketch on the previous marker drawing on the left. You can see here that I took my time refining it and adding in the details and the colors that I want to work in.
The dress on the right is just a line drawing with the design lines added in for a new iteration of a dress that I like. 

The dess on the right is an idea that I keep coming back to so I decided to really get the ideas and details added in and this will go on my to-do list. I have a beautiful chambray that will become this lovely summer shirtdress.
the dress on the left is playing with ideas for a sheath dress. I did not add in the marker yet because I have not decided on what fabrics I will like to use! 

Make sure to stop by Wendy Grossman of Couture Counsellor to see what lovely sketches and ideas she is working on. Please feel free to share your sketches and ideas, leave either of us a comment or just link back to one of our posts.


Happy Sketching!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

A hidden gem of a Museum with an amazing fashion exhibit!

 If you get a chance you really need to get over to The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
Much to my surprise the museum is not just all about cars! The complex is is comprised of The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation as well as Greenfield Village, Ford Rouge Factory Tour and the Big Screen Experience. You could easily spend a full day at the complex.

Somehow Wendy found out about this fashion exhibit, American Style and Spirit, that is on display until April 2, 2017. It really is such a shame that the exhibit is not going for a longer period of time! It was an amazing exhibit. Such a wonderful collection from a single family in Wisconsin. Can you imagine having such a collection plus more stored in one attic! Not only did they have clothes but journals and receipts and photos and so much more. The curator has brilliantly set this exhibit up. In my experience this rivaled any top fashion exhibit I have seen, including those at the MET in NYC.
Wendy, Liz and I at the Henry Ford Museum

If you aren't able to get to see the exhibit the catalog that goes along with it is quite more than just a collection of photo's and descriptions. It is the story of the Roddis Family from 1850 to 1995. It is a great companion to the exhibit but goes into much more depth and includes more than just what is seen in Dearborn. Here is a link to resources where you can purchase this book.

Enough of my prattle! The rest of this post is photos. I took a huge amount of photos! There are an amazing amount of details and an endless amount of inspiration!

A photo of the general layout of the left side of the exhibit.

Collection of children's clothes.
 I love how every display has photos of  the family members in the clothing.

As you can see in this picture they had photo's from the time period along with many documents. 

This was a very interesting part of the exhibit! It showed dresses that were made by the family along with notebooks detailing their sewing notes and samples.
The rest of the photos are of dresses and outfits that I either loved or details that really interested me.
Enjoy!!















Are you inspired by fashion exhibits? I know that I sure am!!

Happy Sewing!