Saturday, February 28, 2009

Vogue #8379 Wrap Dress

Here is my first dress, from Vogue pattern #8379. I entered it in the February Sewing Contest being held on LHCF. Made it just in time as today is the deadline. ETA: I won 1st place and a gift card for the fabric store of my choice! Thanks so much to Queen SH for sponsoring the contest.

The pattern was categorized "Very Easy"...hmph. No comment. It took me 12 hours from start to finish. I had fit issues. I have been losing weight since being on the raw vegan diet so my measurements at bust and waist put me at a size 10. Sadly, my upper arms do not. I have those dreadful saggy wings that probably would have felt at home in a size 14 sleeve. And speaking of arms, the First Lady has definitely gotten me motivated to work those wings right off.

So I consider this dress my summer body motivation dress. It is made from a sheer cotton blend fabric I got off the sale table of Vogue Fabrics Outlet a couple months ago. It looks good from a distance but up close it is a mess! I used 4 different colored threads, the hem is uneven and the armholes are...well, I'd rather not talk about them. It's just too embarrassing. The dress looks good on me, though. The neckline is a lot deeper on me than the mannequin because I wanted a sexier take on this dress. I made a neck sash to give it a flirty, vintage feel.

I would definitely make this dress again, but with sleeves, both long and short. I would also like a longer version in a really nice fabric for evening. I love this dress pattern. I will practice my hemming before I make it again.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Vintage Patterns Galore!

Dress by Pierre Cardin
Image from The Frock

I love, love, love fashion from the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s and it is my dream to be able to sew beautiful garments inspired by these silhouettes. I have lucked up on eBay before and managed to win a great 60s frock pattern for one dollar plus shipping, but got outbid on all the others. Then I happened upon a wonderful site that specializes in beautiful vintage patterns but their prices are too steep for my budget.

As I mentioned in my previous post, we went down to Arcola, Illinois to check out some Amish furniture and antiques. I was more interested in the quilts. My gosh, those quilts--absolutely breathtaking. My gosh, those quilts' prices--absolutely astronomical! But worth every penny, you'd better believe it.

We bopped into a little quaint antique collectibles shop and browsed their wares. They had an old black antique Singer sewing machine in-table for $300--tell me how I left without that? What a beauty. On the way out, partially hidden in the corner of a bottom shelf was a plastic shoe bin filled with what? Vintage sewing patterns! At 50 cents a pop!!! Here's what I bought:

I also managed to find three very unique antique cast iron trivets to add to my collection (I collect trivets and have them proudly displayed on a wall in my kitchen). After we left that shop we sauntered into a fabric shop a few doors down. My, my, my. A quilter's delight! The fabric prices were comparable to those here in the city so I didn't buy any. But I did manage to pick up some very nice Indian horn buttons for a linen jacket I want to sew, some crochet needles at 2 bucks each and some skeins of yarn at 2 bucks each. And now, I don't know what to do next, crochet or sew something? Perhaps a little of each :)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

My First Vogue Pattern: #1020 Top & Skirt

After seeing several rave reviews on Pattern Reviews for this t-shirt top from Vogue pattern 1020, I was convinced that I had to have it. And I would, of course, put my own little spin on it. Probably not the best idea when you're a self-taught beginner like me, but what the hey. The pattern's dress also caught me eye, as it faintly reminded me of this little number from Narcisco Rodriguez.

I love the neckline on this dress, and attempted to do my V1020 top's neckline in a similar manner. So much for trying. Here's my version of the top, in black matte jersey from Gorgeous Fabrics, as well as the skirt from the same pattern.

This was the first top I ever made, and I am quite pleased with it. Setting the sleeves was tricky at first, but not as bad as I thought. I did make other changes to the design of the top besides the neckline. The pattern called for ruching on the right side at the waist. I lowered mine to hit the hip to add a bit of asymmetry at the bottom. I also added a little ruching to the left upper side seam for soft gathers across the chest. They didn't come out as pronounced as I wanted them to.

The pattern instructions called for a side zipper. Why, I wonder? The pattern calls for stretchy fabrics, no zipper needed. As for the ruching, I used the zigzag stitch and string method with no problems.

As for the skirt, it's not that great looking on the pattern envelope pic.

Maybe it's the color? Anyway, I am pleased with the way my skirt turned out. It was very easy to construct and sew.

Both pieces greatly flawed in terms of construction details--slight puckers at the armholes, uneven stitching at the hemline--but I wore this out to a party tonight all the same. I am ready to start taking sewing classes. Where to go is the question. Hopefully I'll be able to find something not to far from home.

Friday, February 6, 2009


In preparing to sew the top from the Vogue 1020 pattern, I decided that I'd like to have the ruching on both sides instead of just one. Sure, the asymmetry of the original pattern's gathers to one side gives this basic tee shirt a nice twist. However, I got tummy issues that would be emphasized with that. One thought that briefly flitted in my mind was "Will this look dated?"

In my search for examples of ruching on both side seams, I got my question answered when I came across this New York mag article:

Bunch Up: Ruching Takes Over Pre-Fall

1/13/09 at 6:51 PM


Photo: Courtesy of Burberry

If the pre-fall collections are anything to go by, February's runways will be covered in texture. You'll practically be able to feel the fabric through your computer screen. Ruching — the gathering of fabric with elastic — was so prevalent, we wanted to break out our old prom dresses. Burberry opted for a textured mini with diagonal downward panels, while Donna Karan had asymmetrical creases finished with untied ruffles. Vera Wang's ruching sticks to the center of a black satin dress, and Nicole Miller and Reem Acra scrunch material from the waist up. For more on the trend, click ahead.

See more trends and the best of pre-fall.

I am particularly inspired by this example:

After reading the pattern instructions, then skipping over to Pattern Reviews, I found that there were certain issues with the pattern itself, such as Vogue's weird inclusion of a side zipper. Also, there was mention of using elastic for the ruching, whereas the instructions call for the good ol' two lines of basting and pull technique. I was not comfortable with either, so I called upon my friends and family for input. The technique I am going to try is the zigzag over a string technique. Thanks, Nikkablue and Momi :) And now, off to practice the technique on an old shirt. I refuse to cut into that beautiful matte jersey I got from Gorgeous Fabrics until I am confident with every step of this project.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

My First Crochet Hat

While feeling under the weather over the weekend plus it being extra cold down in my basement sewing area, aka the Craft Dungeon, I spent most of my time convalescing in bed. All the while, though, I was itching to make something. And I did--my very first crochet hat.

I got the idea from this episode of Thread Banger. I learned the basics of crotchet as a child from my older sister but never stuck with it long enough to make anything. I am happy that it all came back to me as soon as I started, just like riding a bicycle, but making that hat was no easy feat. I kept getting ruffles. I must have started over at least 5 times. Being sick and under the influence of cold medicine probably didn't help. But I was determined to make it.

I began to get a little frustrated with the ruffling but convinced myself not to pull the yarn loose yet again, so I called a friend over to help me out. She convinced me that the hat would turn out fine, but next time keep my stitching tension even. Yes, ma'am! She began crocheting last fall, having learned from workshops with the Double Stitch Twins, Erika and Monika Simmons. She brought over their wonderful book, Double Stitch: Designs for the Crochet Fashionista, and a few of her pieces she learned from the twins. Her pieces were so funky and fabulous! Halters, chokers, headwraps, collars--It was just the inspiration I needed to go ahead and finish up that hat. But first I went online straight away and ordered that book along with another she had with her, Stitch 'N Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker by Debbie Stoller.

I really enjoyed the crocheting experience and look forward to doing more of it.

More Fabric Store Field Trips

Finally made that trip to the "Fabric Dump", which was not a dump at all. The Textile Discount Outlet is just your basic, run of the mill fabric heaven! Three full floors of it. Every type of material under the sun. And the staff were nice and helpful. The selection and prices there were amazing. There was a wide selection of trim and embellishments. As for the organization and cleanliness, the basement section was probably not a good place to spend too much time in. I sneezed several times down there, but again, I am getting over a cold. Otherwise, the store is well lighted, well organized on the main floor, very well stocked and definitely a must for anyone in or around Chicago who sews and designs.

*Please excuse the bad camera phone pics.

There were not a lot of shoppers there, being mid-week, I'm sure, but those that were there were mostly interior design people buying home decor material and lots of it. There were so many wonderful and interesting fabrics. Lots of beaded and embellished specialty silks that reminded me of the elegant saris that Indian women wear. There was some really fabulous lace fabric that reminded me of the lace garments in the latest issue of Burda magazine. I saw a nice sized piece of distressed leather in caramel brown that was calling my name and telling me that it wanted to become a bag. It was hard to resist at only $2.50 per square foot! But resist it I did.

I didn't purchase any fabrics at all, since I promised myself to use what I have already before I buy any more. A promise that I sort of already broke...Prior to going there, I made a stop over at the Chicago Vogue Fabrics to say hello to a friend that works there. She was off, but the designer sample bin was on! And unlike the huge paradise flagship store in Evanston, where the bin fabrics are $4 per pound, the Chicago location's bin price was $2 per pound. I got 6 pounds worth: 2+ yards of really nice white linen, 2+ yards of taupe linen and about 4+ yards of grey cotton twill that has spring jacket written all over it. So that's it for my fabric field trips. And now, let the sewing begin!