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Friday, 13 January 2017
I hear fabric calling to me!

I went to Len's on Monday for specific fabrics. Found exactly none of them. But I did find all these!

Top right is some warm fine sweater knit in a cool purple/grey/black print. Lower left is some grey rayon/ccotton/spandex in the same grey as the print.Upper left is some all way stretch spandex in "liquid leather" OF COURSE it's going to be made into leggings or some other super tight pants.

I also got these little trinkets:

To go with the grey jersey. The plans are: One pair of black legging. One longer length tee with drapery held in place by one of the medallions. Leftovers from leggings and top will be used with sweater knit to make a  dress  -probably this one here:

Thre's a yoke at the hip/waist area and I will use the shiny spandex for that, the grey for the sleeves, one of the ornaments on the neckline and the print for everything else. Or I will make the whole thing from the purple, I have more than enough fabric.

While I got most of the fabrics on Monday I got the purple on Thursday. I saw several colors of ths warm knit and couldn't make up my mind which I liked better. Teal was nice but I have something in a similar teal. Dark blue was nice but it had a bit too much of a 1980's vibe. Purple was nice and I don't have anything purple. There was also several variations of light grey, dark grey and black and almost got that, but that's a rather boring combo so no. SO I bought none of them and decided to think about the options.  By Thursday morning it was the purple yelling at me that it was perfect and the color I needed to buy. So I went back and got it.

I have finished drafting a pattern for leggings. The one I use for t-shirt type knits has negative ease and this fabric needs a fabric with some ease. Otherwise it looks a little too much like Peggy Bundy From Married With Children. They look a little skanky. Can't have that! The t-shirt will be my onw design and the dress will be as above.

So those are my fun fabrics for this week. Off to the sewing room

Posted by lincatz at 9:46 AM EST
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Friday, 6 January 2017
Quick and easy pattern weights.
Topic: Sewing FAQ's
Normally this would be Fun With Fabric Friday. But I don't have any new fabrics to show off. I do however have a link for a little sewing notion projects that I think EVERYONE who sews needs: farbric covered pattern weights.It's the answer to the common "what do I use when I can't use pins?" question.

If you go to enough sewing websites and read enough books you'll hear about pattern weights for fabrics than can be damaged by pin holes. Often they show larger heavy washers from the hardware stores. And as everyone who has tried this will tell you: The metal can and will flake off and stain your fabric.  If it's the underside of a heavy fake leather this isn't an issue -if your unpinnable fabric is a super fine cotton voile in white -the grey rings are a BIG problem. Good idea, doesn't work in reality.

Which is why this handy little tutorial is so great:  this tells you how to cover large heavy washers with fabric yoyo's.  Even though it shows sixteen steps all are quite easy and quickly accomplished. You can make them as large or as small as you wish. If you want to combine washers in a stack to make them heavier you can do that too. Use a bit of gorilla or super glue and those suckers will be stuck together forever.

My local hardware store also sell small metal nuts, bolts and washer in bulk and these can be sued as weights in little bean bag pattern weights. I hate wasting food -such as the recommended rice and beans -in them, and many places no longer sell small lead shot by the pound. Something about weaponizing them -so small nuts, bolts etc. makes a good substitute.

You can also buy pattern weights but they are quite expensive and many are simply larger heavy machinery washers dipped in a plastic coating. Again, you can get larger washers at the hardware store and many of these stores also sell plastic dip coating in the paint section. Save some money and do it yourself. All plastic coatings come with instructions for use so read the label and follow the instructions.

And there you have it! Pattern weights that look good, don't waste rice or beans and  are simple to make.

Posted by lincatz at 9:44 AM EST
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Thursday, 5 January 2017
Sweater and skirt with appliques.

A while back I got some sequinned and embroidered tulle lace. I made a dress with satin under and the black embellished tulle over. It was nice, but it was a little too glitzy and glam for my current lifestyle. After making my winter coat with the embroidered and sequinned applique I though HMMMM...there's something about the contrast between the heavy wool and the delicate embroidered tulle that's interesting. I wonder what else would look nice with wool and sequin appliques...


which led me to this sketch here!The top is a cut and sew sweater knit in a lightweght mohair. The V neck is trimmed with a vintage rabbit fur ruff and the wrists also have the same rabbit fur ruff. Based on the shape, size and everything about the fur pieces they appear that they were designed to be used on a V neck and sleeves. The skirt is a simple bias cut a-line in a wool flannel or brushed twill. The fabric I have -the brushed twill -is a bit heavy so the bias cut adds drape and suppleness. The motifs are appliqued in such a way that it mimics a border print. If there are enough of the appliques I might use some on a satin blouse. 

I already have a cut and sew V neck sweater that is very plain. I have some brushed twill in black. I took apart the dress -the satin is good enough to use for the blouse -and began cutting some of the motifs out so I could applique them. And here's the results: 

I played around with the placement and decided that the idea in the sketch looked best. I picked a couple different motifs and to vary the appearance some were taken apart and had the element re-arranged so it wouldn't look like the same flower over and over.I pinned them in place and when I was happy with the arrangement I sewed them down. They need to be hand sewn. There's no way to do it with a machine. It's faster and more accurate to hand sew.

To use sequined and embroidered tulle as an applique you must leave enough tulle around the motif to sew into. Sew as close as possible to the embroidery and sequins and use small slanting stitches. Do not pull the thread too tight. For sequined tendrils use a whip stitch between the sequins to secure them. On the very end of th tendril backstitch several times into the hole of the final sequin, knot on the wrong side and trim the thread. after stitching trim away as much tulle as possible.

I haven't started the skirt yet because I spent the skirt sewing time shrinking and prepping the wool. Wool must be pre-shrunk before sewing. The best method is something called "London Shrunk" also known as "sponging" no sponges are needed, just a modern steam iron and a water sprayer. Basically, you spritz the wool with water and then hold the steam iron over the fabric and glide over the fabric without touching the fabric. The fabric draws up and ripples in places, but don't panic -it's supposed to.

After spritzing and steaming as loosely as possible roll the fabric up and let it rest. Unroll and re-roll once so the inner part of the roll is now the outer part. When the fabric is cool and dry it will be sufficiently shrunk, unrippled and needle ready. Some wools can be hand washed or machine washed on delicate after a London Shrink. My one hounds-tooth skirt was London Shrunk by the maker and it could be machine washed without further shrinking.

And that's the progress so far. When the skirt is completed in a few days I will post a picture! 

Posted by lincatz at 11:24 AM EST
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Monday, 21 November 2016
A couple vintage finds
Topic: Retro Rules!

A few weeks ago I went to a Vintage Clothing show and sale and got a couple things. I've already posted pictures of the skirt and dress. There were also a few vintage fashion and style books -ones that outlined rules for "correct dress for all occasions" and clothing etiquette and other crap. paging through these books of arcane dressing rules makes me happy the 1960's social upheavals happened and rendered these books irrelevant. There were a few knitting books and a few vintage sewing patterns. There were the usual culprits: the Simplicity Jiffy caftan and the Simplicity Jiffy dress and sleeveless coat were well represented and a couple unusual ones that are hard to find. I got the unusual items and ended up with three patterns and one book.

Nothing says 1980's like the TV show Dynasty; and nothing says 1980's excess like the clothes worn on the show. This is a pattern from a line made by the show's costume designer. The patterns were based on some of the costumes worn by the two leading ladies, evil Joan Collins and nice Linda Evens.  This is a nice Linda Evens dress and it exemplifies every 1980's excess: the excessive draping everywhere, the excessive emphasis on the shoulders (and yes, the pattern has instructions for making shoulder pads) and the excessive bat wing sleeves. There's a cowl in the back for the times you want your dress to have a hood.

The suggested fabrics are polyester jersey and "Qiana" registered trademark of some chemical company. Qiana is a type of micro-denier nylon that was notorious for producing static electricity. I was in a fashion show where we wore these dresses and as we passed on the runway our dresses would cling to each other and few produced sparks and snap, crackle pop noises. The long dress takes nearly 5 yards if fabric. The short dress takes three and a half.

This dress could be made modern by sewing up the sides of the bodice and getting rid of the dolman batwing thing and made sleeveless. The shoulder pads would need to be eliminated to make it modern. It would still look 80's -but more of a revival rather than out of date.

From the era of "Mad Men" comes this dress. It's a transitional style -very late 1950's very early 1960's. I think the model on the envelope looks like Betty Draper -I can see her wearing this for one of her swanky dinner parties.  The title "instand dress" is something I have seen only once before. What it means is that you unfold the pattern tissue paper, place the whole sheet on your fabric and then cut the paper and fabric at the same time. No complex laying out. The instructions also say to trace all pattern markings using a wheel and dressmaker's carbon paper before cutting. It's only "instant" once and it requires you to find the correct width fabric. It only worked on 36 inch wide fabric. The dress itself is very simple to sew and comes with a reccomended pattern to purchase of you want a crinoline petticoat to wear underneath.

This dress would require nothing to make it work today -other than omitting the crinoline. And the wrist gloves. 

 There's something glamorous and elegant about the ladies on the Vogue patterns. You just KNOW they are going to a chic dining place or visiting some other elegantly dressed and coiffed ladies in a chic and elegantly appointed apartment in the city. A dress like this would have been categorized as "afternoon formal" which is why it is pictured with long gloves. This pattern came with a woven cloth "vogue special design" label -and it's still in the envelope but turned yellow from the acid in the papers. This one comes with a pattern for "skirt stiffening interlining" meaning a layer of netting between the lining and the skirt. The one-shoulder draped bodice is bias cut and the pieced skirt has six pattern pieces. It takes over 7 yards of 36 inch wide fabric. You lay out one full width layer of fabric, cut it at the halfway length, lay the second layer over the first, right sides together.The instruction page is three sheets, which is unusual for a pattern of the era. Back then you got one sheet and minimal instructions.

This style would work today in the long version only. The bodice could be made with a re-embroidered lace overlay and lots of sparkling bling added. A large glitzed up motif added to the shoulder with the drapery would be perfect. The dress would look classically elegant and not dated at all. The short dress is too much for daytime but could work for semi formal or as a bridesmaid or wedding guest dress. 

You can't knit a dress in a day, I don't care what the book cover says. These are all knitted with extra large 15 and 20 mm needles and anywhere from four to eight strands of yarn used together. They call the needles "jumbo Jet" needles. These dresses are -um -how to word it nicely? Um -Hideous? yeah, let's be honest. They are hideous and unlike the sewing patterns could never be made modern or worn as dresses. A couple could be turned into cozy warm sweaters for wearing in the winter with leggings, but only after a bit of shortening in length. There's a couple mens' sweaters that are not hideous.  I think the nicest pattern in the whole book is this hockey sweater for guys and boys"

There's a reciept from Coles on Yonge Street Toronto in it. The book was 45¢, 49 with tax. The binding is tight, there's no cracks in the spine and it appears as if the book was never opened again after purchased. The reciet had been there so long that it turned several pages yellow. 

As nice as vintage patterns are they don't always work in modern times. Some can be modified, and a few the basic shapes don't change through the decades as much as accessories change, while some are so tied to looks and the social pressures the era that they can't be updated. And a few -like sleeveless mini dresses made for summer out of cashmere and wool neven made sense even back in their era. 

Posted by lincatz at 10:51 AM EST
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Friday, 18 November 2016
Suede Fringed Purse From Fake Suede
Topic: I Made It!

Still working on the suede jacket. I mentioned a few technical problem related to sewing the fake suede and how I needed to work them out. Skipped stitches and jams were only part of the problem.  It's always important to work out technical issues before sewing the garment so I put the jacket aside for a while I started a small project to hone my fake suede sewing skills. The photo spread for the magazine also included this little bag:


...and the magazine had a small pattern for it in the sewing instructions. It is NOT on the BurdaStyle website, sadly. It was all cut from a measurent chart -cut one piece this big by this big and another this big etc. and the only pattern piece not a rectangle was self drafted.  The instructions were sparse but I've made enough bags that this one was a piece of cake. And it was; taking me one afternoon to sew. It's made with the same fake suede as the jacket and it has a funky modern quilt print lining. The pattern didn't require interfacing or batting so it's soft and unstructured. There's a small purse charm with beads and a tassel on it. I did my own version. There was no zipper or snaps so I improvised my onw button and loop closure. And here it is! 

My fringe isn't as perfectly cut as theirs because I cut the fringe the night before while watching TV.

Her's the inside. The pattern did have pockets so I added two pockets, one for hair doodles and one for my cell phone. Yoyu can also see the large button and the loop.

And here's a picture of the tassel, dangles, handle rivets and the button.

I worked out ALL my sewing problems with this without having to take apart large long jacket seams. I can apply what I learned to the jacket and in the end I get a cute little cross-body bag. It's not going to hold three tons of stuff, but it will hold enough for an afternoon's outing.

When I am done the jacket I can post a picture along with a few things I learned about sewing microfiber fake suedes. 

Posted by lincatz at 10:47 AM EST
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Monday, 14 November 2016
...I Which I help Myself!

I was sewing a fake suede jacket yesterday and my machine was acting up: skipping stitches, thread jams on the bobbin side, breaking threads and more. I tied re-threading the bobbin and the needle and that didn't help. Switched to a fresh needle and that didn't help. The process for fixing the problem after that is time consuming so I went on line for more hlep and to see if there were any quick fixes for bird-nesting. 

There's plenty of help out there and over 75% of the online help about sewing machine thread jams and bird nesting was written by ME. And Usually me telling people to stop looking for quick fixes and do things correctly.  So I took all of my own advice even though it was a lot of work. Turns out the shuttle race was full of lint and the needle needed to be a ballpoint instead of chisel point.

 Thank you me, you really know what you are talking about. There really are some amazing experts on line. You are most welcome me -I've experienced everything first hand so I know what does and doesn't work! And in case anyone is curious the jacket I am making is this:


 Only I am making it from the teal fake suede pictured a few entires previous. And I have made it hil length and I'm arranging the rows of suede differently. And the sleeves will have snaps at the cuffs. But it will be absolutely identical. And why didn't I get the natural color? Because I love teal more. 

Posted by lincatz at 10:18 AM EST
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Tuesday, 25 October 2016
A new warm Hoodie for me!
Topic: Works in Progress


 While I was shopping for a bit of lace for the grey skirt re-con I found the above fabric at Len's.  It's a low loft polar fleece. One side has the buffalo plaid and the other side is solid aqua. There was only two meters on the roll so I snapped it up right away. I wanted to make a hoodie from it and thought about the classic bomber style hoodie, but I already have enough of those. I decided to think about it for a few days then decide.

On one of these few days I got the newest BurdaStyle and found this Siberian Parka styled hoodie:

The Siberian Parka has a large hood and closures at the top. It pulls over whatever you are wearing. Often the hood, cuffs and bottom hem are trimmed with fur. This one has the hood with fur trim only. The sleeves are in the 9/10ths length -one that I can't stand because it looks like the sleeves are a tad too short.

I traced and cut the pattern and pinned the paper together for a quick fit. this thing is HUUUGE. Across the bust it's 52 inches. That's way larger than it needs to be even to fit over bulky things. I ended up putting the large sized pieces back on the master pattern sheet and re-tracing a smaller size. I still had to eliminate a bit of excess under the arms. I added an ease pleat under the center front yoke. That gave enough room to fit over other things and it narrowed the shape enough that it didn't look so large under the armpits.

I've noticed that a lot of burda patterns seem to be very large in the upper body area. Some also have necklines that are way too wide and don't hug the neck. I've been doing a lot of neckline alterations on burda patterns these days and it getting annoying. Some necks are open to a mere one and a half inch shoulder seam. This is too close to the shoulder and it is difficult to keep bra straps covered. An extra inch would be enough for most day dresses while an inch and a half would be best for blouses and tops. One top I pivoted at the waistline to make the upper back narrower and the hip a bit wider to give it less of a wedge fit and more of a contoured fit.

I also lengthened it at the hem and got rid of a weird dipsy-doodle in the hem from front to back. It had a slight high-low hem line and I do not like that look.

After adjustments I cut the fabric and I am now in the middle of sewing it all together. Polar fleece is super simple to sew, requires no pressing or edge finishes and is warm and cuddly. At this point all I have to do is hem and add fur trim. I should have it done by the end of today and I can wear it tomorrow.





Posted by lincatz at 10:53 AM EDT
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Friday, 14 October 2016
Friday Fabric! New and new-to-me
Topic: fun with fabric friday

Happy Birthday to me! Yup, another birthday has come and gone. I did some fabric shopping for my birthday and got some great stuff -both new and from the vintage stores!

Recently a vintage clothing show came to town and I got these two tie-dyed pieces. One is a dress and the other a skirt. The skirt is one the left and the shirring elastic in the waist band is crumbling to dust but that's okay because I don't like the shirring. The right side is a dress and it fits and looks fantastic. The dress will remain as is because I really do love it. I've worn it twice, once as is and the second like a jumper with a shirt underneath. I wore that lace and embroidered shirt I wrote about earlier this year!

This is from the local Goodwill. It's new with tags and appears that it was never worn. The brand, size and care tag are all in mint condition. It's a similar style to the tie-dye skirt above. I am planning to turn one into a nice top and the other will stay a skirt. Right now I think this one is winning the skirt competion and the other will make a wonderful long summer top. I have lots of things that go with this skirt and the other is a little too long and a little too large and full. It has more fabric so it becomes a top. 

This is an elegant long evening skirt made of taffeta with a flocked velvet print. The base of the zipper and the the linings were badly ripped and damaged but it's easy enough to fix.  The waist is way too small for me but the pleats are very deep and there's more than enough fabric to make smaller pleats, attach a satin or grosgrain ribbon waistband and have an elegant evening skirt.  OR I can cut off the bottom few inches so the velvet flocked band is closer to the hem and use that to make a nice waistband. Austin the cat is guarding the skirt!

 This is the prize peice. It's five ounce pig suede, never worn, still has tags attached and the tags appear to have late 70's early 1980's SKU numbers.  The skirt is a wrap one and the fit is really wierd. The hips measure 25 inches across flat, so it's about fifty inches circumference. The waist is a mere 13 inches flat, which fits a 24 inch waistThe hips fit me with room to spare, the waist is inhuman! I will probably take it apart for the suede. I might make a sude skirt and some type of purse and wallet. THre's plenty of suede. It also goes well with the turquoise suede leftovers from the purse I made earlier in the year.  Her's the price tag:

Originally $355-I'll guestimate that to be over 500$ in today's dollars -marked down to 40$. Many years later it ends up in a Goodwill shop and sells for 7$. I can imagine whoever bought it at 40 bucks  tried it on, saw the wierd waist to hip fit and put it aside to have it altered and never looked at it again. Their loss, my gain.

This is brown suede patched together with crochet stitches. It's only a couple inches too small -I could wear it as is if I don't mind it being too tight across the waist -so I am pulling out the center joining line and adding a band for a snap closure. I can make the band anywhere from two to three inches wide and it will still fit in with the style and mood of the skirt. I had one just like this in 1974. It might be the one I had in 1974. It's possible, who knows?  The tag inside is lost, but I am quite certain this was from Eatons back in the day. Now for some new fabric!

On the left is a soft brished nap jersey that's warm and somewhat cuddly. I want to make an easy to wear soft, comfy, and warm winter dress. The bold paisley is a rayon twill and will be either a dress or a cute skirt and top combination. The dark teal is fake suede and will be either a fringed western style jacket or a fringed motorcycle jacket. The different is length -the western jacket is longer and below the hip line and and the motorcycle is shorter and right at the hip line. Either or -there will be fringes and some embellishments on the yokes. I will add snap closures (something inside is whispering you want swarovski crystal snaps and also crystal rivets from dreamtimecreations)

I have a couple desicions to make, such as turning the one skirt into a top or leaving as is for now, How all-out do I want the teal suede jacket to be, sghould I sue a modern or vintage pattern for the paisley and more. But for now I will look at my new stuff, touch it, and let my muse whisper wild ideas into my ear. Like the one about crystal snaps and rivets.

Posted by lincatz at 10:17 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 4 October 2016
Not So Fun With Fabric Dress: COMPLETED!

Remember the Not so Fun With Fabric fabric? Had a weird print with an odd repeat? And how I had to design on the fly with it?  I completed the dress and have gotten to wear it a couple times this summer! The fabric is still weird as all Eff and that weirdness makes some aspects of the dress look weird. But the color is nice and it's very cool and comfortable on a hot summer day and I like the way the little ripples turned out.

And here it is. The placement of the print makes the whole thing look a little skewed for some reason. When I measure with a tape measure everything is even on both sides and when I wear it it isn't all weirdly off kilter, but on the dress form it looks like I was drunk when I made it. 

And here is the backview. I used an older zipper technique where a center back zipper is covered with fabric on the outside and there's a strip of fabric on the underside called a "zipper guard" to prevent the zipper from pinching the skin. It was quite common when all zippers had metal teeth, I used it here because the fit of the bodice is extremely snug.

Overall it doesn't look too different from the sketch. The biggest challenge has been the fabric itself with the odd print. It was impossible to line up or match and no matter what I did the print made the bodice look odd. 

It does look much better when I am wearing it. As I said, the sheer rayon voile is super light, cool and breezy on hot summer days. The halter neck gives it a bit of a retro vintage look. And the bold print is certainly eye-catching. One a scal of one to ten I would give it a solid 6.5. A lot of points are deducted for the print being so difficult to work with and making it far more challenging than it neded to be. 

This dress also pointed out one other problem I need to address: My dress form is now much larger than I am. It's about three inches too large in the bust and two inches too large in the waist. On one hand I'm like UGH! I gotta take it apart and sew it smaller and re-stuff it and on the other hand I am like YAY! I have to make it smaller! 

Posted by lincatz at 10:01 AM EDT
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Monday, 19 September 2016
What I Sewed this Summer
Topic: I Made It!

...and there's more than just these things. These are the ones I took pictures of yesterday. There's a couple things in the laundry.

We'll start with this dress. It from the September 2016 burdastyle only I ommitted the sleeves. It's got a little tie on the V neck and the front and back has pleats and gathers onto the midriff band. It's made from Amy Butler Glow collection in cotton voile. It's cool, light and desperately needs a lkining for the skirt. Same with:

This one, also made from Amy Butler's Glow collection cotton Voile. This is the floaty dress from BurdaStyle that I first posted a year or two ago. I wanted a light cotton and this was light, cotton and I couldn't think of anything else I wanted to make from it. Here's a back detail:

I added loops and laces for a corset back look. It fits quite well and the corset back lets me snug it up to the body. Instead of putting elastic in the sleeves I left them loose and floaty -justy like the dress's name. Next is my favorite:

This turned out spectacular! I LOVE this dress. I tried to keep the sillohette as simple as possible and I tried to keep constirction as simple as possible in order to show off the fabric print. I cut the waistband with the horizontal stripe to add a bit of visual interest and tp help show off this amazing print. The band is shirred with elastic so it fits close to the body wheile the rest of the dress floats around the body. Lets look a the neckkline:

There's the beaded trim that I got for the dress. It's PERFECT!!! I love the look: it's sort of elegant, primitive and tribal, yet citified and sophisticated. And the back:

...carries the front fabric details to the back. There's a center back seam because I wasn't sure if I would need a zipper or no zipper. No zipper, as it turns out.

And finally:  a preview of tomorrow's summer sewing of 2016:

...this knotted top which was the subject of a BurdaStyle sewing lesson found here:

The only thing I don't like is the neckline/shoulderline -it is quite wide and needs to be narrowed. I'm going to re-cut the pattern and alter the neckline. Maybe I will post a tutorial on how to do it I like the results. 

That's all for today. Tomorrow I will post the rest of th projects including the final "not so fun with fabric friday" dress

Posted by lincatz at 10:31 AM EDT
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