Monday, November 26, 2012

Velvety Blouse

Hi everyone!
I had such an exhausting week and weekend. Let me tell you, mini wars are hard on the soul. As you probably know, a cease fire was announced a few days ago, I still don't know what I think about the whole situation, it's confusing as I'm extremely happy it's quiet again and that all my soldier friends weren't sent into the Gaza Strip, but it feels like we didn't accomplish anything. Though I'm sure we accomplished much more than I know when it comes to a military point of view (quite a few Hamas activists were killed) it feels like in six months we'll be showered with rockets again. The only thing I can say confidently is that I'm so glad I don't have to lead a country! So many difficult decisions to make and people that rely on you. I much prefer sewing, mind you.

Speaking of which, since this is sewing blog, I'll proceed to the subject which I'm really supposed to talk about, which is not Israeli politics.
This is another installment of my Fall Look Book. In all honesty this is one of my favorite blouses I've EVER made. I've never seen anything like it (people don't wear much velvet in general, do they?) and I just love the cut out detail and the color and everything about it!

cut out shirt, velvet shirt, heart cut out, steam a seam, curved hem, fall look, green velvet, hunter green blouse

  I used a stretchy hunter green velvet (or maybe it was velveteen? whats the difference anyway?) I got for like 4$ a yard. I was kind of afraid at first of sewing velvet (and at this point was kind of angry with myself for being stingy and not buying Claire Shaeffer's Fabric Sewing Guide - I've heard it's worth it weight in gold!) so I did some research, and all I could find was scary warning about ironing velvet the wrong way and not top stitching velvet and so on. In the end I decide to do a few test runs on fabric scraps and see how it goes.
I checked if I could:
1) iron the fabric with and without steam (check!)
2) top stitch without it looking ugly (semi- check, I decided that it was ok but better if I can avoid it)
3) be serged. (also semi check, I had to play around A LOT with the stitch width and length before finding the best outcome. (small stitch length and small stitch width + keeping the fabric very tout))

cut out shirt, velvet shirt, heart cut out, steam a seam, curved hem, fall look, green velvet, hunter green blouse
sorry for everything being lopsided!

This brings me to the next hurtle in this project - the cut out. I was set on having a heart cut out in this shirt, I loved the way it turned out for me last time I made a heart cut out and I thought that this dainty detail would clash nicely with the green velvet. Since I didn't much like the look of the top stitching (though it wasn't terrible - I did opt for machine hemming the sleeves and hem) before, I decided that topstitching around the heart isn't a great idea. I thought of hand sewing the facing but immediately decided that there must be a better idea to do this (I HATE HAND SEWING). After doing some reaserch on the internet I found this product: Warm Company Steam-A-Seam . This is basically a fusible strip that you can use for hems or any kind of fabric fold that you seek to attach seamlessly (huh! pun!). I decided to try this on my heart cut out. Before I explain the whole process let me give you a spoiler - it worked beautifully!

cut out shirt, velvet shirt, heart cut out, steam a seam, curved hem, fall look, green velvet, hunter green blouse

I cut out the heart from the bodice and used the same heart pattern to cut out a matching facing. I then sewed the facing to the bodice right sides together along the edge of the heart and pushed the facing inside the heart shaped hole. Next I gave the heart a little press and then inserted the Steam A Seam strip between the bodice (wrong side) and the facing (wrong side) little by little (as the strips don't curve) I permanently bonded the facing to the bodice. It was that easy! I love this thing! I can't wait to try and use it on lace and other light fabric because it promises to disappear - we'll see about that! Have you ever used Steam A Seam?

cut out shirt, velvet shirt, heart cut out, steam a seam, curved hem, fall look, green velvet, hunter green blouse

cut out shirt, velvet shirt, heart cut out, steam a seam, curved hem, fall look, green velvet, hunter green blouse

I wore this shirt to work a few weeks ago and I still can't decide if this was a good idea. Why, you ask? well it's kind of.... gapey. (evidence in the photo above, so much boob and armpit showing from very little movement) Also, the heart tends to ride down a little and my bra peeks out occasionally. Now, I know you're probably freaking out about this (as I'm sure you have very strong feelings about what I wear to work) but I have a very low key, casual and um.. revealing work environment. A lot of the people working at the company are my age and some wear tank tops to work and even shorts, so it's not like everyone was staring at me! Anyway, it still made me slightly uncomfortable so I may have to restrict this shirt to going out only.

cut out shirt, velvet shirt, heart cut out, steam a seam, curved hem, fall look, green velvet, hunter green blouse

Finally let's finish with the hem. I have come to the conclusion that this is my favorite style hem, it just gives my butt such a butt lift I'm surprised it's mine when I look in the mirror. Something about the way it hugs it in a curve does wonders! What do you think? Am I imagining the improvement in my rear area?

I wore this shirt to a dinner out with friends and a friend liked it so much I made her a dress (it was basically the same, only longer) with this cranberry velvet. IT WAS SO BEAUTIFUL! I know I was talking earlier about how I like that the cutout clashed with the green but this silhouette was made to be sewed in cranberry!
Has this ever happened to you? Visioning a project in one color and then realizing that it would have looked perfect with a different fabric? Do tell!

That is it my friends!  Have a great rest of the week!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Um... Oops

I was just going over my pins looking for inspiration for this fabric I bought yesterday and saw that I pinned this shirt a while ago!

I didn't even remember I pinned it! Can you see how similar it looks to my recent shirt?

I can't believe I copied a shirt without even consciously doing it!
I guess we can call it subconscious copycatting!
I have no idea where my head is these days.

In other news, things aren't much better here. It's been quiet for the last few hours, but we haven't left the house that much in days. I had to drive out today for some errands and I was stressed out the whole time because if the sirens go off while you're driving you need to stop at the side of the road, lie on the ground and cover your head. And while you do that, you can see the rockets flying and being intercepted over your head (or at least this is what a friend told me happened to her). You can see why I wasn't keen on that happening. Not to mention I'd feel really silly lying on the ground with my face in the sand for ten minutes.

Well, I just saw the picture of the shirt and had to share!
Have you ever been subconsciously inspired?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

In which I strip. Well, use a (bias) strip.

Hey everyone,
I don't know if you guys know of this, or are following the news about the middle east, but the IDF killed a top Hamas commander today. We've been under rocket fire for a very long time now (I live in the south of Israel) but I feel like this is going to make it much worse. The news is talking of Israeli forces being gathered in the Gaza Strip border (which may mean war) and the Hamas are threatening with strong retaliation. I just heard on the news that at least 70 rockets have fallen in the last 4 hours, some of them very close to my home town. It feels pretty terrible waking up in the middle of the night to sirens and being afraid for the life of your friends and family all the time. It's surreal that we've lived in this situation for so long and that it's getting even worse, and we're still managing to live our lives. I've lived through quite a few wars here in Israel and I keep being overwhelmed with the idea that this is my reality.
I don't mean this to be a political statement, I don't think this is the right platform to talk of these things, I just thought of sharing my private feelings and how it feels to be just a normal citizen in an extraordinary situation like this.

Anyway, moving on to lighter and more blog appropriate things -
I've made a new shirt! I actually wore this shirt to my first day of work! It was really exciting!

bias strip shirt, bias strip sleeve, satin fabric, satin shirt, satin bias strips.

I took my own advice (and Modcloth's) and used bias binding as an embellishment. I quite like the effect! Making the bias tape wasn't as tedious as I thought it would be as the bias pieces are pretty short. A tip from me to you while making bias strips from a slippery fabric - LOAD UP ON THE STARCH! I starched the bejeezuz out of the bias strips, it was the only way to make them stable enough to actually iron them. I made the starch myself by mixing a glass of hot water and three table spoons of starch and letting is cool to room temperature.

bias strip shirt, bias strip sleeve, satin fabric, satin shirt, satin bias strips.

I made this with the remnants of the Cinderella Dress. Can you believe I had this much left?? I had enough to make another half of a shirt, which I did and will show you soon!
It's really slinky and feels great to wear, the only thing is that every little drop of water CREATES A HUGE WATER STAIN. After five minutes at work I managed to spray myself with water from the sink in the bathroom and almost cried. I hate hard to manage fabrics, I don't know why I'm so attracted to them and I never think of how problamatic they are when I do my fabric shopping, it's like I'm a child, I can't think ahead.

(How impressive is my Jesus picture? Let us all imagine this is what I looked like when I figured out how to make these sleeves: (with a bunch of white cloak clad angels singing "Ahhhhhhh" in the background))

bias strip shirt, bias strip sleeve, satin fabric, satin shirt, satin bias strips.

After thinking about it for a few minutes I  managed to figure out how to attach everything to everything without leaving raw edges. I just LOVE figuring stuff out! The bias strips are still a little stiff from the STARCH which makes the sleeve look a little wonky but other than that I LOVE the way it turned out!

bias strip shirt, bias strip sleeve, satin fabric, satin shirt, satin bias strips.

While trying this shirt on in one of my many fit-checks (do you guys to this too? I feel like a third of the time I spend sewing I'm trying on stuff) I decided the shirt looks too blank, after much thought I decided to make a little bow and attach it to the front of the neckline. As you can tell I changed me mind since then (apparently even if I do a lot of thinking I can never make up my mind) and opted to attach it on the left side... I think it's cuter this way! I managed to make the cutest little bow in the world, it perfectly proportioned (have you noticed how difficult it is to achieve the perfect proportion between the bow and the band in the middle?). see?

bias strip shirt, bias strip sleeve, satin fabric, satin shirt, satin bias strips.


bias strip shirt, bias strip sleeve, satin fabric, satin shirt, satin bias strips.

I created a curved hem for both the front and the back - I think it's such a flattering silhouette! Especially in the back, it gives your but a but-lift! who doesn't want that?
I finished the sleeves and the neckline and sleeves with bias strips and serged the bottom of the shirt and hemmed it without bothering too much with it.

What do you guys think? Let me know if you have any question about making the sleeves or anything about the blouse!
Also, I'd be happy to answer question about my first paragraph, but please express yourself in a respectful way, I'm sure you don't all agree with whatever is going on, but this isn't the place to express your thought if you don't, unless you really want to ask honest questions, which I'd be happy to answer.

Thanks for reading! I hope you're having a good week!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Skirt Embellishment

As I told you guys in my last post, I feel like there's something missing in my Mystery Pocket Skirt. It's a little too.... navy. A reader suggested I top-stitch some of the seams of the skirt, but I'm so AFRAID of top-stitching! I always worry that after putting so much effort into a garment I'll ruin it with my bad top-stitching. Do you ever feel like this? You feel that's something's missing but don't want to over do it at the same time.

I thought about adding gold buttons at the top and bottom of the slits, but am still unsure if I like the look. This is where you guys come in! what do you think?

What do you think? ( I know the buttons are kind of awry, I couldn't get them to sit straight because of the shanks!)

Also, I thought of a fun idea if I ever decide on making this skirt again, it'll be really cool to make the back of the pocket in a contrasting color so that it'll pop just through the slit.. what do you think?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Copy Cat Mystery Pocket Skirt

I've been a little less creative with my last few projects (evidence here), which is why I have no shame in calling myself a copycat. I LOVE looking at a garment (especially more intricate vintage garments) and figuring out how to recreate them myself. Even though it's not my original idea (though I do try to add my own twist to it and not outright copy it) I feel so proud of myself for going through the whole process of drafting and sewing the garment from start to finish.

My all new copycat garment comes from Suzannah's Adventures in Dressmaking. Suzannah holds a Sewing Circle, where readers send her questions and she answers them (very thoroughly I might add!) while asking other readers for their opinion and input. How cool is that?
Anyway, in Suzannah's last sewing circle (for the full post click here) a reader asked for advice on making the following skirt:


To be quite honest, I didn't much like the skirt in the beginning. I have a issue with A line skirts, I feel like the don't do much for my body, but after inspecting the skirt I realized that the fact that it grazes the hip right before it flares out (rather than being much wider than the hips) may be quite flattering.
Most of the talk in the post was about the unique pockets, which upon seeing them immidiatly got me thinking of how to recreate them. I was so excited for the challenge! OK, I admit, this was the reason I made this skirt. I cannot admit defeat, even if it's over a skirt I don't really like in the first place.

Stay tuned for a joined tutorial Suzannah and I will post tomorrow on how to draft and sew this skirt! (link to the tutorial here)

This is my version!
I have a few issues which I will share with you along the showing of the pictures.
I tried to imitate the original outfit, so I wore a chiffon shirt, which I though was a good enough effort. what say you?

What do you think of the pockets? they look the same right? huh? huh? huh?
I love how they turned out! they're not very functional, as putting something in them kind of distorts the whole look. it's not very pleasant, but who care about functionality?

This is kind of a weird shot of the back, but it's the only one I have. I admit there's not much to see, but lets all appreciate my invisible zipper for a second.

I think I can officially say that I love invisible zippers. they are SO much better than regular zippers. there, I said it. they're better. I feel like regular zippers are so much more work, no? I may have forgotten how to sew a regular zipper. does that make me a terrible sewer?

One of the issues I have with this skirt it that I stupidly decided not to line it (out of pure laziness. I hate myself sometimes) and I think it lacks the sturdiness of the original skirt. I think I'm going to line it, but I have to rip some seams which I am not looking forward too.

Another issue is that because I made this skirt in navy, it kind of reminds me of school girl skirt... I kind of like the idea and don't at the same time. I thought of adding gold buttons above and below the slits of the pockets... what do you guys think?

Don't forget to check in tomorrow in for our tutorial!
update: here's the link to the tutorial 

Tutorial for Mystery Pocket Skirt

As I said yesterday, Suzannah of Adventures in Dressmaking and I are doing a joined tutorial on the mystery skirt she discussed previously in her sewing circle. I'm pretty impressed with how similar it came out (if I do say so myself). Part I of the tutorial will be featured here - the pattern drafting part. Part II - the sewing part is featured on Suzannah's blog, so don't forget to check it out one you're done with Part I!
This is my version of the skirt! (for more pictures of the skirt you can check out my full post about it here)

Let's compare it to the original skirt:

When I draft a pattern, I look at the basic qualities of a skirt in order to assess what my basic pattern will be and what I have to add to it. So, let's take a look at the skirt:
1) the silhouette: The skirt is an A line skirt with a waistband and seam in the center front. The dress is high waisted and form fitting.
2) the pockets: the pocket look like they are part of the panel of the skirt rather than a patch pocket. The pocket consists of a slit and a square pocket sack in the inside of the skirt (which I saw through the fabric in one of the close up pictures)
3) Fabric: The fabric seems quite sturdy and doesn't really drape, thick cotton? cotton sateen? wool?

General Thoughts:
1) I decided to really make the pockets part of the panel of the skirt rather than a patch pocket, BUT I will add instructions throughout the tutorial so that you can make the patch pocket version if you like. The patch pockets are much easier if you ask me, but they don't achieve exactly the same look as the require to stitching and have a little more bulk. You're welcome to chose which ever way you like!
2) lining - I chose not to line my skirt, I don't really like to line my skirts but in retrospect I kind or regret this decision and I may add a lining anyway. You may want to line your skirt as it will add more structure to it (as the original skirt has) and the inside of the pocket isn't the prettiest so you may want to hide that as well. I'll add instructions for lining as well throughout the tutorial.

This tutorial will include the following segments:
How to draft a form fitting A line skirt
How to draft a built in slit pocket/ patch slit pocket.
How to sew an inverted corner.
And of course how to draft and sew the whole skirt!

Lets get on with in!

These are your basic materials for drafting the pattern, you will also need pattern paper. The french curve isn't a must have but it does help drawing.. well, curves.

1) First, Measure your waist and divide by 4 (you should probably add between 1\4 to 1\2 an inch ease to this measurement unless you like your skirt to fir very very tightly). Mark this measurement on you pattern paper.

2) Next, measure the distance between your waist and your hips (the widest part of your butt). Mark this at a right angle to your waist measurement.

  3) Measure how long you want your skirt to be down from the waist and mark it down on the same line you marked the wait hip measurement (it will obviously longer. well, hopefully) and square the whole thing (meaning two sides will be as wide as your waist and two  sides will be as long as your skirt will be).

cut this square out.

Devide your rectangle into three equal pieces.

Slash on the lines that you mark, BUT DON'T CUT THE WHOLE WAY.

  See? I left a little tiny bit of paper in the end.

Now we're going to take a new sheet of pattern paper and mark our Hip-Waist measurement we measured before.

 Match up the rectangle we slashed and the measurement we marked on the paper (they should both have waist-hip measurements marked on them.

Tape that whole slashed part down, we don't want that one moving!

  measure around your Hip and divide that by 4. Mark this measurements at a 90 degree angle from your waist-hip measurement at the Hip Level.

Spread the slashed rectangle across the Hip Line.

Spread out the slashed rectangles so that the edge of the right slashed rectangle lines up with the end of the hip measurement. The Middle rectangle should be in.. well, the middle. Tape everything down!

Trace the bottom curve.

 Trace the upper curve.

Trace around the whole thing!

Cut the traced pattern out. Notice I marked the pattern with center- this is the side of the rectangle we taped down first - the side that doesn't flare out. This will be our Center Seam for the back and front.

Next we're going to draft the waistband. Mark a line an inch and a half down (or however wide you'd like your waistband to be) that follow the curve of the top of the pattern.

Cut along the line

We now have the pattern for the back skirt and the waistband!

Retrace your back pattern. we're going to make a front pattern out of this. (this is the back pattern without the waistband)
 Mark 2'' down and then 10'' down on the side seam of the pattern.

Measure 4'' and 7.5'' out and trace the trapeze we created.

Trace a round corner using your french curve (or your eyes) creating the rounded top of the pocket.

Measure up 3/4 inch from the bottom line of our trapeze. Mark a line up to this point. This will be the bottom of the pocket.

Mark a line 2'' away from out 10'' line and perpendicular to it. Then mark two points, one 2'' from the top and one 3'' from the bottom on the line we just drew.

Now we'e going to draft the pocket slit. in those points that we just marked, we going to create w 1/2 inch by 5'' rectangle. meaning, we're going to draw 1/2'' lines through each point and connect these line to create a rectangle.

Trace around our pocket and cut it out!
we now have all our pattern pieces! the pattern above is the front skirt and the pocket, and we already made the back pattern and the waistband in the first part of the tutorial.

For the sewing instructions check out Suzannah's Post!
Let me know if you have any questions!

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