Sewing Cafe

Patterns, Tutorials and Works in Progress from the Sewing Studio of Lynne Williams

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Men's Casual shirts - A Student Accomplishment

 This month in the studio a student of mine .....dear Elizabeth, made these shirts for her beau.  He has an upcoming trip to Hawaii and she thought he should have appropriate attire for the occasion.

The skills learned during this project were:

1.  Crisp and proper pockets ( Elizabeth's pride and joy)
2. Buttonholes
3. Collars
4. Top stitching with doubled thread
5. How to cut and mark difficult fabrics ( the blue bamboo)
6. Cutting out a garment with a rotary cutter instead of scissors.
7. Altering the pattern based on a shirt we knew fit him well.
8. Using a serger/over lock machine.  Blade engaged and not engaged, convex and concave curves.

Here they are neatly folded and ready to be gifted:)
These are not her first shirts mind you....I believe her 2nd or 3rd if memory serves.  Her first were more difficult dress shirts and although accomplished successfully, she desired, as do we all, to improve on her first results.  In particular the quality of her pocket .  Additionally she wanted to try her hand at a slightly more difficult fabric.  This pattern was a wise choice for these goals because the simplicity of the shirt allows you to focus on the new skills, while not becoming overwhelmed by the whole project.

Both were made from the same pattern.  Repeating the same task is very helpful in learning new skills, conquering them and imprinting them into your new skill sets.

This shirt is made from Bamboo, it was the 2nd to be made due the higher difficulty level.  The fabric behaves like a rayon challis and is quite a bit more squirreley(so not a word apparently imagine that ..) then previous projects Elizabeth worked on.

This first version is hemp and you can see has quite a bit more body then the bamboo.  It was the perfect training ground. The fabric was easy to work to sew and press.

The shirt has a minimal amount of top stitching but Elizabeth chose to add this small touch at the shoulder line.  She learned how to use 2 threads through her needle to achieve a bolder line.  

Inside each shirt pocket she placed a small hand embroidered initial.
How romantic.

Less romantic was learning how to use the serger.  
This is one of the advantages to learning in my studio, important equipment, like the serger to try out. Multiple machines, various notions and tools are all ready at hand.

This button and button hole are one of the many new things that Elizabeth conquered on this project.  
She used a new tool for these as well, my singer buttonhole attachment which provides a beautiful rounded on both ends proper shirt/dress buttonhole.  This was accomplished on my Singer 401.
  Another hurdle conquered as she learned how to thread and operate yet another machine.

This beautifully pink machine is Elva Mae and belongs to Elizabeth...of course.  
This is the machine she primarily used for this project.
Here it is threaded for that double thread top stitching.  
This machine has such a beautiful even feed, a lovely stitch and the smoothest pedal action.  No delay at all and it can sew incredibly slowly.  It does a rather wide zig zag and the the feed dogs can be dropped.  The only downside is that the needle position is to the far left.....which takes some getting used to and limits the types of feet you can use with it.  It is as heavy as the dickens and will be awesome no doubt for free motion quilting.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Union Jack Playboy Bunny Costume Complete

 This is the completed replica Union Jack Playboy Bunny costume I embellished.

Which is to say that I did not make the base suit for this costume, but was sent the suit with reference photos in order to add the Union Jack Flag embellishment.

Lot's of handwork!

When the Playboy Bunny Clubs first opened this was considered a scandalous outfit...obviously long before Hooters or Strip clubs became common fodder.  
Now it just seems rather quaint.  The girls were schooled in how to properly bend at the knees to serve their drinks so as not to flash to much cleavage at the clientele....honestly.

This 3/4 view shows the lacing which was dyed to match the blue satin, and the iconic bunny tail.  

My dress form is a little more swayback and has a smaller waist then this suit so we do get some wrinkles across the back.

In order to sew the ribbon on I did need to open the costume at the side seam and crotch.

This suit has a placket under the eyelets which protects your hose from the rough edges.  The earlier suits had you place the eyelet in backwards so that the rough side sat on the front.  The placket is a great idea but does make placing the eyelets quite a bit more difficult.

How fun is this vintage picture of the gals greeting Hugh Hefner at Heathrow airport for the opening of the London clubs.

This is the only picture I have with ears embellished in this way.

Speaking of the ears.

Can you believe they went to the trouble of adding this extra detail.  Not all of the reference pictures I had showed this version, but my client of course wanted this special touch.

Makes you want to stand to attention yes?

Even the sides of the headband are decorated!

This is my charming husband Chuck Williams
"pick'n" at it. - LOL

Chuck is my art director and being a sculptor has a fine eye for the details.  He likes to point out stray threads, missing beads or askew trim.....I will admit sometimes it tries my patience but he has helped me to elevate the quality of my work and is an excellent 2nd pair of eyes when you need it.

Thanks for that hon:)

What do we think dear readers...
cute or scandalous?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The 1912 Project

Ahh the Titanic.  
As many of you already realize this year, in April is the 100th anniversary of her fatal voyage.  It has launched many events for this year at Museums and tea rooms around the world. 
 An opportunity for re-enactors to gather in Edwardian Costume and Historians to reflect on the folly of man's pride and ambition.

Janyce over at the Vintage Pattern Lending Library has almost as large a task in front of her as the launching of the Titanic.  
She wants to release all of the patterns from La Mode Illustree - once France's foremost publication of fashion of that era.  
This requires the digitizing of all of the patterns along with scanning the illustrations and writing directions.  She has enlisted the help of seamstresses to test sew each and every garment for her.  So far 400 people
( me included) have gleefully responded, so many in fact that we have been divided up into groups, 33 at last count.! As she completes the patterns she randomly selects a group to send them to.  Upon receiving your pattern assignment your fun begins.  

 This duster pattern was recently released to the participants in one group. 

This skirt is the most recent release.

This wrap should prove simple enough to create, but what an opportunity for some fine embellishment.

Some of the participants have plans to only sew muslin's, some have plans on making costumes to fit themselves or others, and a few have plans on making doll clothes.

Click on this picture to see more
 The participants have all different levels of sewing experience, which provides an excellent testing ground for the Library.  The resulting sewing directions from such a base should provide a superior product when they are offered to the general public.  
 In addition to the web-site a face book group has been launched and the sharing of knowledge and resources is impressive.

So we all have something to look forward to then.  A year of Edwardian fashion to fulfill our Downton Abby dreams.

If your participating please comment with a blog link so we can follow your progress as well:)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Ralph Lauren's fall 2012/13 runway show

Downton Abbey continues to inspire.

Please chime in with your thoughts about Ralph Lauren's Fall line.

I have many, but will hold onto them until I hear from you.

I will tell you this, I am a fan of Ralph Lauren and I am also a fan of  men's wear for women, so Mr Lauren's clothing has always appealed to me for that as well as its clean lines and sharply defined details.
This is why when his show was posted on the 1912 face book page I raced to see it.  
Don't cheat yourself stay to the end as it runs from day wear to evening wear. 

I am also a fan of vintage styles, which he often gives a nod to and so my sensibilities generally find satisfaction on his runway.
You always know what you can expect from him and I like that.
Do you prefer your designers to provide a safe haven for your style or do you like to be surprised each season?

will you be including any of these ideas into your 2012 wardrobe?
Love or hate the jewelry?
Will you be wearing gold soon?
Wool plaid?
cloche hats...I wish....

Friday, February 17, 2012

Eva Dress Contest - Blouse 7482 Complete

 So happy with the way this blouse turned out. Very flattering style and so comfortable to wear. 

 I tried to make it authentic to the period (1938), which is to say no serging/ overlocking inside.  Instead I zig-zagged the seams with the fine thread at the bottom of the picture and used an all purpose for the seaming.  I thought about hand casting the seams.....but having just completed the Indygo jacket, got over it:)

 I looked on line for suitable buttons but in the end decided to cover some 7/16" half domes.  
The pattern shows you how to create button loops from thread, but I decided to make self fabric loops. 

This shows a close up shot of the buttons and spaghetti which makes up the loops.  The 2 buttons on the left are face up and the 2 button on the right show the back.  The buttons required 2 layers of fabric so the metal would not shine through.  This meant that there was to much bulk to snap the metal backs on...they just kept popping off..which meant I needed to do a proper job and cover the back of the button as well.  I am so glad that I did.  Don't they look pretty?

I interfaced the facing, front and back with 1" strips of silk organza.  I did not follow the directions for assembly of the shoulder seams but reinforced the seam first with stay stitching, clipped into it and sewed it with right sides together, just as you would for a shawl collar. 

The pattern has you tie a bow at the front, but I felt the single loop was a little less bulky and contemporary looking.  The bow is very cute though and when I make it again in a chiffon I will more then likely do so.  In the wool it just felt a tad bulky to me.

Look at this awesome picture I found while looking for garments of the period.  This is the cover of Du Barry Fashions in 1938.  A very similar style in the same color.  Mine photographs much brighter but really reads this color in natural light.  Now I just need those fabulous gloves!

After filling out my project worksheet I found this garment cost me $24.10
The blouse requires 1-5/8 yard and I used a wool I had in my stash that was gifted to me by a client so there is no fabric price reflected in my total.  I probably would have included it if I could remember what she paid for it...but alas that paperwork was filed eons a galaxy far far away.  One of the benefits of sewing for others is you are sometimes left with usable "scraps"....Oh Joy!

For more information about this project see post list below:

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Craftsy Block of the Month - February

My blocks for February are certainly bright and beautiful thanks to a very recent fabric purchase at Marmalade.
This block was made using  Lou Lou Thi by Anna Marie Horner ( the aqua bits) and Tonal Kaleidoscope by Michael Miller ( the orange bits)

I learned a new technique for sewing half square triangles on this Balken Puzzle Block.  It is quick but leaves you with bias edges on all your squares!  Not something I would recommend to beginners as they are more apt to stretch those edges while pressing and sewing.  If you have a lot of experience handling difficult fabrics though I would recommend you try this technique.

My Chunky Chevron Block, which I do love  has 2 prints from my January blocks and the chunky chevron bit also from Marmalade is Lark from Amy Butler.

This block also used half square triangles but a different technique for sewing them up and one I had used before.  Amy Gibson ( our instructor) has you cut the squares 1/2" larger then necessary which gives you plenty of room for squaring them up.  I rather liked that actually.  

These classes do assume that you know how to rotary cut squares and strips, as well as know how to sew an accurate 1/4" seam.  But outside of that I think Amy does a fine job of showing you the steps.  Like most experienced sewers, she makes it look quick and might want to slow down a bit so you are careful about your accuracy in cutting and sewing.  Several of the 40,000 participants were having difficulty with their finished  Balken Puzzle block size..this relates to that accurate cutting and sewing, it being more difficult to accomplish on all those bias edges.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

UFO Progress - Indygo Jacket Complete

Sweet!!  My "bed jacket" is complete.  I finished sewing the buttons on last night. 
Don't you think they are perfect? What a find at MJ trim.
I wish I could better express the scrumptious feel of the jacket.  It's quilted layers feel more like a sweater then a jacket due to the fact that there is no interfacing or traditional tailored structuring.
The silk lining against the skin...don't think I need to say much on that score.
The slightly bell sleeve adds to the comfort, no binding at the elbow or bicep.

For a recap....we have a wool and angora blend fabric which has been hand quilted with silk thread to the silk charmeuse lining. 
 The princess and cuff seams are lapped and wrapped in the silk lining.  
The lapels have a self designed primitive flower quilted on them. Which is echoed on the upper back panel as well.
All of the interior seams are neatly hidden.

I changed the hem line to  swoop in the back.  It's very flattering on and protects my lower back from being exposed to the cold morning air.
You can also see the silk bound shoulder seam from this angle.

The back princess seams open to a lapped vent from waist to hem.
The quilting pattern that runs up the back panel is worked in 3 colors of silk thread - teal, brown, and mint greeen

The cuffs have wool applique, needle felting, embroidery and echo quilting.
The hem is also bound with the silk lining.
The buttonholes are hand worked in a teal silk thread (doubled), something I do not do very often, but I think they add just the right touch here.  Quite a bit more delicate then the pattern suggests, but the entire jacket is delicate I think. 

Here we have my project scanner is out of comissh, so I had to take a picture of it. 
 As you can see this idea was launched in 2007 which I believe was when I purchased the wool fabric at a Minnesota sewing expo.  I officially started sewing on it in August of 2011, put it aside for 4 months and committed to finishing it as my "Git R Done" resolution of 2012
The entire project cost $105.00 

You can see the the progress posts at the links below.

Indygo Jacket - 1st post  you can see the pattern, progress and interior seaming here.
                         2nd post  the hand quilting and sleeve seam finish

This pattern was simple to put together, my additions proved labor intensive though.  Needless to say you could machine quilt your layers, or do a standard lining in it and then it would go together quite quickly.  That having been said , I found it a very suitable pattern for additional you just might want to get creative.  The original instructions are complete and easy to follow.  You may or may not want to amend the sleeve cuff ( see 2nd post) and if you have a full upper arm you will need to adjust your sleeve pattern as you normally would.

Jillybe asked me earlier why I was calling it a "bed jacket" and primarily that is because it was inspired by the lounging pajamas from glamour movies of the 30's and 40s.  In those movies even middle class "broads"
had the must outrageous lounging costumes.  
I just think every women needs just such a garment. 

 Let's crawl out of our sweatpants and slip on something luxurious. We deserve it:)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Project Organization - The Notebook & A Give Away

Here we have another installment on how I organize my sewing projects. 
 To see the first installment  click here

This is the note book I keep all my sewing projects in.  
It is a standard 3 ring notebook with vinyl cover The vinyl cover allows you to slide in a paper of your choice to help identify the contents....or to just make attractive.
I used some scrapbook paper by Cosmo Cricket called " Material Girl"

How could I possibly resist that?

Inside my notebook I store my:

                                                                   1.   Personal Croquie
                                                                   2.  My measurement form along with family members forms
                                                                   3.  Sewing Project Worksheets
                                                                   4.  Completed projects - which get filed towards the back
                                                                   5.  Fabric Swatches from stash 

For my fabric swatches I use index cards and I record :

                                                                    1.  Yardage amount
                                                                    2.  Fiber content and washing instructions
                                                                    3. Store where purchased
                                                                    4. How much I payed and saved if on sale
                                                                    5. Date of purchase

I also keep "Preferred measurements" cards in my notebook as well, but I will leave that for another post:)

The advantages to using a system like this, is that it removes the fear and clutter from my brain.  The fear of course being that I will forget some project and the clutter.....well the less said about that the better-lol

Once it goes into the notebook I can move onto more designing and creating. When I am ready to add a project into the rotation I look through my notebook and decide what is appropriate for the season, and difficulty level I am currently willing to add to the mix. It also provides a record of techniques, interfacing and alterations, which is very useful when doing a similar project.

In general I have 3-4 projects going at time.  This generally means that one is in pattern stage, one is in construction and one is handwork intensive.  When I am working on a project it gets removed from the notebook and pinned to my  bulletin board.

I challenge you to try this with 3 projects.  Download the form, or make one yourself, fill them out and see if you don't feel a sense of calm:) 
Comment about your results and I will do a random drawing for a custom note book give-away

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sleeve pattern correction

Remember my annoyance with this sleeve hem ?  Your hems in general should be level with your wrist or if its a skirt parallel to the floor. This is always the case unless you have an obvious design feature as seen with the new swallowtail hems or those elegant sleeve points which fall down over the hand and attach to your ring finger.

But I am looking for a standard and correct sleeve hem and so I will need to make some adjustments to my Eva Dress 7482 pattern.  So lets begin.....

This is what my sleeve hem looked like after making up the muslin.  The dotted line is my hem line.  The seam running up the center is my underarm seam which forms the placket at the hem.  In modern patterns the placket is sewn as a extra piece.  On this vintage pattern the buttons are purely decorative and this little placket closes up with a few snaps. 

I begin by pinning my sleeve seam together along the stitch line.  I can/need only do this for a few inches. Its a little awkward as it does not want to lay flat if I continue pinning to far up the seam.  
Once I do this I can see that where the seam lays, it needs to be about 3/8" longer to be even with the front hemline.

Because my pattern tracing is done on household wax paper I can simply take a strip of wax paper and add it to the sleeve hem by pressing with an iron.
If you use paper of course you can tape your strip on.

Now I re-pin my sleeve seam....

Turn it over and cut through all layers along the front hem cutting line.
In this picture you can see where the buttons are supposed to go.

 I open my sleeve once again and I can see my new curved hem line.
Now  I trim the excess wax paper off the sleeve seam.

This is my new correctly shaped hem and my sleeve is ready to be cut out:)

By the way that is my blouse fabric that the pattern is laying on, my favorite shade of red

Do you have pattern alterations that you commonly make that are not related to fitting?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Craftsy Block of the Month for January

I like to keep abreast with the big wide world of quilting.  Many of my students are quilters and I like to use quilting as a means of teaching accuracy in cutting and sewing.  Oh yeah and its fun.
So when I learned about the Block of the Month class by Amy Gibson and learned that it was free...Well  what an opportunity to learn some new techniques and learn about as well.

Each month, on the first of the month you learn by video tutorial and printable instructions how to make 2- 12 " blocks.  Once you are registered you can access the class at any time , as many times as you want and for as long as you want!  Such a Deal right?

Yesterday,  I sewed up my blocks for January.  

Presenting the Asterisk block - Lesson one in strip quilting....

and the Wonky # block.  Fun right?

I have been wanting to play with some bright and fresh colors and this project will provide the perfect opportunity.  
This is one of the aspects I enjoy about quilting it allows me to explore some fun and new color combinations.

This is a combination of some newly purchased fat quarters that I have mixed in with some stash fabrics.
I love the ric rack print:) Think I will need more of that:)

Then I found some awesome prints at Whipstitch that I want to add..but there are so many cool choices it will be fun deciding.

Quilting classes are not the only thing offered at fact Susan Khalje is offering a dress course which I would highly recommend if you want to improve your garment sewing skills.  She is a knowledgeable instructor and for those of us in remote locations this is a great opportunity to take a class from her.

And have I mentioned that I have wanted to learn how to crochet....can you believe I don't know this already?

Have you taken any classes over at Craftsy yet?  
Which one?  
Do you quilt or are you a garment purist?
Are you a quilter, who we needs to be encouraged to sew garments?  Cuz  I love to help others broaden their skills and interests :)

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