“Whether or not God has kissed your brow, you still have to work. Without learning and preparation, you won’t know how to harness the power of that kiss.”

Twyla Tharp

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Louise Cutting's Artist In Motion

 I've been keeping an Inspiration Board on Pinterest to try to get a handle on the kind of styles that I am drawn to so I can incorporate them into my sewing. I really like this look - sort of represents how I'd like to dress on a casual day -- a little boho chic.  So, I am in search of the right pattern to  duplicate it.

My first attempt was with Louise Cutting's Artist in Motion pattern.  It has a vest and shirt - the vest is one size fits all and has a lot of the angles and loose fit that I am looking for. It looked as if would be shorter than I wanted so I  added an inch to the back and front - unusual since I am only about 5'3".   I didn't want to take the time to make a real muslin so went straight to some fabric that's been in my closet for a very long time.  It's very lightweight, almost lawn and has a floral pattern that is sheer in places.

I'm relatively happy for a first round.  It would look much better with a collared shirt and the right jewelry, but I  do like the fit and and the draping..  I think it has a lot of potential - the sides are open with a button at the top, but I can see then closed as well.  I can also see the front and back pieces cut up and seam allowances added to give the effect of the picture above.  The neck and armholes/sides have self made bias binding.  The edges have nice mitered corners, so typical of Louise Cutting's impeccable designs.  I'm anxious to continue to play with this one but am excited with its possibilities. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Bright Red and Leather Tote

Although I have more bag patterns that one can proverbially 'shake a stick at' I was still intrigued by Anna Graham's (Noodlehead) book Handmade Style.  This book is lovely to look at and very well written.  I especially like the bag below which isn't available on her website, only in the book.  I thought it was the perfect project for some red canvas and brown sueded leather that I had.

One of the things I like about Anna's bags is her use of rivets and other metal pieces which, I think, really adds a professional look to a bag. And, I am really into using light weight leathers and suedes these days which, again, I think adds a lot.  If you are looking for smaller pieces of leather, there is a wonderful company called Brettuns Village located in Lewiston, Maine.  It is primarily mail order and is only open to the public from 10 - 2 on the first Thursday of every month.  But they have lots of small and large pieces of leather in various colors.  And, since it's unlikely that many will be lucky enough to make the trip up there, they are very helpful in answering any of your questions or making a recommendation if you tell them what size and what project you are looking for a piece of leather for. 

 The space between the rivets is open and great for a cell phone, sun glasses, pen or other necessities one needs to reach quickly.  I couldn't find exactly what I was looking for to use as straps so I ended up with brown webbing which I stitched red grograin ribbon onto.  


Below is just a quick zip make up case to throw into the bag!


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Variation On A Shirt

My husband is a big fan of visual interest in his shirts.  It started a while back while window shopping in Palm Beach and coming across some prohibitively priced shirts that he fell in love with.  Gamely, I promised that I would give them a try.  This is my second result, which is better than my first.  Hopefully my shirt making skills will continue to improve.

If you are going to invest time in a shirt, I highly recommend David Page Coffin's book, Shirtmaking, Developing Skills For Fine Sewing or the DVD Shirtmaking Techniques.  Actually, there is a great deal more information in the book so I highly recommend getting both.  Although I used a commercial pattern, most of my construction techniques come from Coffin's book and DVD.  His work is beautiful, both inside and out, and he walks you through techniques that hopefully guarantee a professional looking result.

Some photos below. 

The buttons I used are from Sawyer Brook. Sadly, the owner is retiring and looking for a buyer for the business.  I so hope she finds one and that it stays in New England.  Although mainly mail order, you can visit the location most days.  We have so little left here in New England for garment sewers.  Quilt shops galore, but sadly not so for fine garment fabrics.

And, of course, there is the mandatory monogram on his shirts, with a tiny border of the contrast fabric along the top of the pocket.

One tip I will pass along is the importance of changing out presser feet often.  It takes just a moment, but the results of using an edge stitching foot for the huge amount of edge stitching (and top stitching as well) are well worth the effort.  A flat fell foot is very helpful as well, though you can duplicate that effect pretty well by improvising with a standard foot as well.


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Thank You, Pretty Lady

My mother was my first sewing teacher and my biggest fan.
My world is a little smaller now. 
Thank you, pretty lady

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Marcy Tilton 8934 for Vogue

I have wanted to make this Marcy Tilton raincoat for such a long time!  I love the shape -- sort of like a Japanese lantern.  It is fitted through the shoulders and then has some flare that is controlled at the bottom with a series of eight darts.  And, I have had the fabric that I wanted to use forever.  It's from Apple Annie Fabric and I have no idea what the composition is.  It's an embossed very light weight, almost plastic feeling fabric.  When I bought it I had no idea what I would use it for until I saw this pattern and decided they were made for each other. 

Because the fabric is so thin, and I knew I wanted to be able to wear the coat more than on a rainy summer day, I decided to line it with a flannel back lining -- this one is a beautiful lipstick red from Sawyer Brook.  It was so slippery that I had to use a dual feed foot to control it as I sewed.  The pattern has a hidden placket for the buttonholes. 

In between the front and the front band is a double row of rattail cord.  Because I didn't think the fabric would press well, I interfaced the collar and the front facings with black silk organza that I sewed in.


I think the coat runs large.  I cut a Small with no alterations.  When it was finished I did shorten the sleeve a bit.  So, for those of you who are taller than a mere 5'3" you may want to consider the length. 

Absolutely love the coat and would consider making it again in a very different fabric, perhaps including some of the design elements suggested in one of the other versions.  The directions were excellent and easy to follow.  


Monday, July 21, 2014

McCalls 6741 Quick and Easy

This worked up quickly for daughter-in-law Sheryl.  We had done the muslin last year and she had purchased the fabric but then it was put aside for warmer weather.  The fabric is a pretty peachy sherbert swiss dot and the lining is a bright aqua light weight cotton.  The dress has princess seams as well as a center front seam that ends several inches below the neckline so it can stay up or fold back to reveal the blue lining.

There are pockets in the princess seams which made Sheryl very happy!  This version had short cap sleeves which we eliminated and just hand stitched the lining to the fashion fabric around the arm. 

The dress needed very little alteration.  I eliminated about 1 inch in two different spots through the pattern before cutting since she is just 5 feet, and as you can probably see, there is a very small hem because of the fullness in the skirt.  So if one is on the taller side you definitely want to add some length before cutting!

Cool, breezy, comfortable and pretty for these hot days!



Something for young nephew.  Pillow is machine embroidered with designs from Urban Threads - Steampunk Alphabet for his monogram and Steam Motifs arranged on either side .  I love the designs from Urban Threads as they are very unusual and a little on the edgy side.  As you can see from the close ups, the detail is exquisite.  I did think the build up of threads was a little excessive.  I'd have to work with them more but on the compass rose, I thought some of the layering of stitching was a little bit too much.

The pillow is 18" x 18" and was embroidered on the Majestic Hoop.  I've owned it for a while now but this was my first time using it.  It worked perfectly eventually.  I say that because it took me a long time to figure out that the design had to be transferred directly from my computer to my machine.   Using the USB, which is my preferred method, just didn't work.  I kept getting an error message that 'the color block placed on both sides of the hoop was not allowed."  It took me most of a day to track down a solution which worked perfectly.

The other problem I had was completely my own doing.  For those who haven't used the majestic hoop, it stitches out one side first and the you turn your hoop for the stitching on the other side.  While it was stitching the first side, I tugged at the fabric in the hoop a bit to straighten it.  Big mistake because when I turned the hoop, the design didn't completely line up and I had to do a fair amount of editing to get them lined up.  There is still a spot in the middle of the "J" that I'm not really happy with.  Why I didn't realize that earlier is beyond me. 

The back has a hidden zipper and on the flap is a vintage clock face and button.