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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Velveteen Rabbit...now realized.

Hello all, this is a special day for me, I have come to realize what it means to me to be a designer.  As I was clearing my picture drives I discovered photos of fun times past.  Often times I like to name my creations, mainly, because it sometimes feels as though I have given birth to a part of myself as I create.  Thus, as each creation takes shape and comes to fruition, after all the long hours of designing, stitching, ripping and re-stitching, from one iteration to another, the final product or garment is a beauty to behold. At least for me.  Creativity takes a great deal of effort and time for a perfectionist such as myself.  The execution for me is absolutely minimal.  It is the "creation" planning, and developing stages that are my handicap.  But watch out, when I finally figure out what is to be done...it's on!!! 
Fashion show entry, The Velveteen Rabbit
I made this Velveteen Floral Bustier and gave it the name "The Velveteen Rabbit" from a children's story about that age old wish that most stuffed animals in children's storybooks wish for...real life.  This rabbit, at the time this picture was taken, had not been finished, thus, it was not REAL.
I loved this story so much so, that when I made this bustier out of the brown velveteen I bought off a clearance rack, it immediately made me think of the velveteen rabbit.  Why, you say, because no one wants a velveteen anything anymore.  At least it was so at the time I made this outfit while in fashion design school.  Some fabrics just are not welcome in the fashion seen, unless of course the "really" big names make it so!  Think about it, if a "Big" name were to start using polyester again, you all know it would become the best thing since sliced bread.  (Is sliced bread "really" the best thing?)   "Whatever!"

Well, here you see my model trying on the outfit before completion and the fashion show.  So the hem is still stringy.  My goodness it sure looks good on her... I wish I would have made it in my own size.  However, in design school you are required to make all things to the size specifications given by the instructor.  This makes it easier to find models.  (Whatever!)  This is why I am not a designer in that since.   When I sew, I want it to fit me!!! Waste not want not, right.  I can be my own living, breathing, walking fashion show. "Laugh Out Loud" NOW!!!  HeHe.
Dior Flowers done in organza.
The flowers took some long hours to hand stitch and shape into the roseduds and blooms that I hand stitched to the very thick velveteen. The flowers are not real in the since of natures way, but they are real to me, after all, my blood went into them.  The garment hasn't really  come to life, or has it?  When do things become real? Is it when it is posted online for all to see?  I often wonder like the Rabbit. Is my stuff real if I don't enter it into a fashion show, or put it online for all to see?
“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
“I suppose you are real?” said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.
This is an exert taken from The Velveteen Rabbit or How Toys Become Real is a children’s novel written by Margery Williams and illustrated by William Nicholson. It chronicles the story of a stuffed rabbit and his quest to become real through the love of his owner. The book was first published in 1922 and has been republished many times since.

Because this dress is so real to me, I love it, I don't want to loose it, and thus, this explains why I have not sold it to anyone.  Yes, there have been many young ladies who have asked that I sell the outfit to them for prom or party or whatever, but NO! I say, it is my toy!!! And it if REAL to me!  This is why I am not a designer in that since.  I want to keep all the toys I birth, I want to love them now and in the future.  If I birth a garment for someone, it must be something that they feel strongly about, something they would cherish for ages to come.  That is the absolute sentimentality of it all. I am a sentimental type of OCD kind of perfectionist person.  I REALLY don't need to sell what I design and sew in order for me to feel like a REAL designer.

Details for you to see how much REAL fun I had....
The skirt was made with the same velveteen as contrast to the really smooth and shiny cotton sateen.  The pattern used for the skirt was a Rachel Comey design, for Vogue patterns. (Vogue1170). And of course, there is the fancy trim that I have no recollect of what it is or where I got it, so don't ask. Lol
 The beauty that I see when I look at something I created is deeply comforting and ethereally satisfying. I love what I do, I love all things creative.  You all must forgive me, but this is a deep desire for anyone that designs and sews.  There is that feeling of satisfaction and endless joy gained from the pursuit of that final garment we create with our own hands.  Am I right??? Please tell me there are more of us out there than this small monitor or glimpse of the blogisphere can reveal to me.  Talk to me people.

 The details are always fun to share.  I do it because I know how much I appreciate seeing the how well worked a seam or sewn detail is completed by my fellow sewing person. (some say sewist and some say sewer) Whatever.
 As for sewing with the velveteen against the slippery sateen, it was murderous to say the least.  And ironing and pressing is to be done on the velveteen using a velvet pressing board.
BTW...the skirt hem is actually finished with a band sewn to the inside and then flipped out to the right side and stitched down using a top-stitch thread.




Tuesday, July 8, 2014

"She charged me $6.00." That's highway robbery!!

Of all the things a woman would be upset about.  Lets see, someone stepped on her new shoes, maybe a bird got her just in the right spot, or perhaps she left her passport at the airport. These are things that warrant being upset!!! Absolutely, I would be for sure.  But Noooooo!!!  This woman ranted on about something else.  Of course she had no clue who she was speaking to.  You see I never meet a stranger. That's right, I don't have a problem striking up a casual conversation with anyone. On this day it was about sewing. Yes, my favorite subject. However, this time it wasn't about me and what I do. I carefully held my interest in sewing my little secret until I allowed her to give me her thoughts. Her thoughts were exactly what she gave me, in all its glory.

I'll need to take you back a bit to a time when there was that little ole lady that lived down the block, or was a Sister in the church that sewed.  She wasn't actually a seamstress for all.  Just that little ole lady we all came to love and call upon to do our mending and sew up the choir robes, or usher uniforms or to sew on the patches for our newly deserved high school letter-mans jackets we wore so proudly.  Maybe she made a few really nice designer look alike for your prom or a friends prom or party, maybe she became so good at her craft that she became acclaimed by many far outside our like circle.

Stay with me now....., this is good.  After all this little ole lady's experience and her well earned expertise and how revered she has become, and after all the accolades of today and how you would "go tell it on the mountain"...."over the hills" and everywhere, you tell everyone: SHE is "GOOD!!" The woman is REAL GOOD!!!!
But wait!.. she is not good enough to charge you $6.00 to put a few darts in your jeans.
This was the conversation I endured with this stranger.  My lady (the little ole-lady), she says, charged me only $3.00, how can this new woman think what she is doing so great that it warrants charging me $6.00.  Man I can do that myself!  

To that I say, get a machine, take a class, if you trust the teacher and do it yourself!

I love teaching folks how to sew.  In my humble opinion, I believe two things regarding skilled services.  When it comes to schools and education, each parent should be required to be put in the teacher's shoes for one week in order to respect what they go through, and the other is, anybody that wears "women" clothes should learn what it takes and what goes into producing what they wear from inception to display.  There is a great deal of work that goes into skilled services, and unless artisans and customers are educated, there will continue to be this kind of disdain and low respect for a well earned good days pay.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Sewing is fabric during metamorphosis, as with the Blue Morpho

I am dearly mesmerized by the beauty of the butterfly.  The beauty, the strength and the fragile nature of the butterfly does something to my spirit.  I can't explain why, but to say, I am at peace when admiring God's grander.  I took this picture while at the Houston Museum of Science, Cockrell Butterfly Center, an indoor rain forest built for the sole purpose of raising and harnessing the beauty and natural habitat of the butterfly.   
 Morpho Achilles Butterfly

"The genus name Morpho comes from the Greek epithet of Aphrodite, goddess of love. Achilles was a Greek hero of the Trojan War, the central character of Homer's Iliad. Achilles' downfall was his love of the cousin of Paris, the Prince of Troy during the Trojan War.   Legends (beginning with a poem by Statius in the 1st century AD) state that Achilles was invulnerable in all of his body except for his heel. Because of his death from a small wound in the heel, the term Achilles' heel has come to mean a person's point of weakness." 

I was lucky to get the picture of the Blue Morpho butterfly's upper wing surface, which is really not actually a color.  The color seen is actually "due to the reflection and refraction of light from tiny ridges and pits on the scales covering the wings."  It took lots of patience and stillness to wait for this baby to spread its wings, but the wait was well worth it to see the brilliance of Gods creation.  I am continually in awe!!!


So you say, what does a butterfly have to do with sewing.  Well for me, I continually work to morph fabric into a creation all my own.  Something I can wear with pride.  I have had fabric sit in my stash for decades, yes decades, waiting for the day I can think of an outcome which I would look forward to wearing.  Sometimes, it can be as complicated as a formal fully embellished garment with all the bells and whistles, then there are the times its as simple as a skirt.  I am thankful to God for the gift he has bestowed upon me to be able to sew, to use these talents to transform a piece of fabric.  No matter how simple, I am always delighted at what I can create.

On our "Fun-day Sunday" I took mini-me and a relative from Chicago to the butterfly center an a stroll about at Houston's famous Herman Park.  I wore this skirt I whipped up of an old eyelet fabric I had in my stash. Nothing special about this skirt, yet something very special about the day.  Albeit, it was HOT!!! as with any summer day in Houston, and extremely humid.  My cousin insisted it was comfortable for her.  I warned, you don't live here, so this is a welcome change to the cold of the Chicago.   

I was trying to get these pictures in before I started sweating too badly.  We were not planning to be outside for very long, just from the car to the museum, but she insisted out strolling the park.  Midday in Houston is in the 90s, so I was more than gracious to entertain her.  Yayy me, for my hospitality!!
I let the hem down for the pictures, since I wasn't wearing my heels for this outing.  During the rest of the day, I just had it pinned up in strategic places to the lining in order to give it a bubble affect.
That red mass behind me is a homeless person sleeping in the shade.  We live in a big city, and it is not without its homeless population.  It is sad, and no matter how much we try to contribute to helping others, sometimes, it just seems there are "some" who are happy with their state of affairs, or are just too dismayed to the point of not trying anymore.
Here are a few more pictures of the gorgeous butterflies inside the rainforest.  I didn't get the names of all of them, because it was either enjoy, or study, and I chose to enjoy.  Let me know if you know the names of the those I missed.  Please enjoy.

Rice Paper Butterfly
 

Tiger Butterfly




The yellow is the Julia Butterfly the red & black ones are Postman

Monday, June 2, 2014

Mini-Me the Mermaid- McCall’s 3566

In September of last year I took Mini-Me to an ASG (American Sewing Guild) meeting with me while I taught on bodice fitting.  Mini-Me is totally in tuned to these types of conversations, however, during this meeting she was into the “iPad” games she was playing.  As the meeting came to an end, I was engaged in a conversation with another member about a “mermaid” costume she had made for her granddaughter.  OOOH boy!!!  Mini-Me’s ears peeled up and before I knew it she was standing beside me looking at the digital pics, exclaiming that “we” must make one for her.  Needless to say, she was not happy to hear me tell her to wait until next year, a concept not known by your average child…”next year!!” really Mimi?  “Yes dear, I will get it done for your birthday.” I exclaimed. 

Fast forward nine months and Mimi has come through on her promise…whew!  It was a close call.  Although I got some input from my fellow ASG member and the fin pattern she made, I still wanted the ensemble to be convertible and easy to take off for swimming.  Thus, the three piece was designed. 
 

Someone was really happy!!!  And so was I.  It was a big hit at the birthday party.  She was able to jump into the pool a couple of times before removing the overskirt and swimming in the suit alone. 

The details:
Pattern Description:  McCall's 3566(OOP)  Two-piece bathing suit and cover-up skirt. There are several variations for the tube/bandeaux/tank top, and one bikini top. The bottoms are for shorts or bikini bottoms.

McCalls 3566 Swimsuit/Mermaid costume www.sewtofit.com
Pattern Sizing: She may have fit into a pattern size 4 with alterations, but since I only had a size 10-14, I pretty much re-drafted the pattern or you can say "severely" graded it down since it was a straight grade across sizes. Compared to the RTW grading system I learned in school, this is a straight grade.  That just means there is a set measurement between sizes no matter how large are small the sizes range. I explained this in a little more detail in “Making the Grade.”

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?  I made a few modifications to get the mermaid look, by adding a sequin trim to the front of the tank top and adding the shirring to the waist of the tank.  For the bottoms, I added a 2inch band to make sure it went high under the tank top. (for some reason, I did not write down her bodice length) 



Skirt:  I made the skirt using the basic pencil skirt drafting technique. I measured 4 places- waist, hip and knees and ankles with the measurement for each point in order to determine the the cut.  Then I just slit the back up the middle and inserted the modified “godet” fins with ruffle trim insert.

Were the instructions easy to follow? I did not follow any instructions. The insertion of the elastic was done on my Bernina 234 serger first, and then I folded over the elastic to the inside and finished the hem with a regular zigzag on my Bernina 640 . I stretched the elastic slightly under the rear-end to get it to "cup" under. For the straps, I included elastic inside to keep them taut when wearing. I learned this in my knits class in school, and it seems to work very well for all my swimwear. All elastic used on this suit was 3/8" swimsuit elastic. I buy this stuff in bulk!!! because everybody likes me to make their swimwear.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I love everything about this pattern. I have been using it for a long time. It’s a great versatile base pattern to own.

Fabric Used:
This is swimwear Lycra from Hancock.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
As I have found for me when using McCall’s, the pants crotch is "always" too short, and this was the same for even my GD.

Tank top: I added a sheered band around the bottom to match the skirt as part of the whole ensemble. I could have left that part off, but without the skirt, it would not have still looked "mermaid-ee"

Skirt- was just a pencil skirt made from her measurements and the "fins" inserted as a "godet" inset in a slit up the back.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I have sewn this pattern multiple times over the years, either as panties, or swimwear. Mostly though as a bandeaux and panties (view G with modifications) A really all-around pattern for the entire family. 



















Sunday, June 1, 2014

Contest Entry: Butterick 5895 Crop Pants Review

These are my entry for the Pattern Review “Fitted Pant Contest” that ends on June 9th.  I have been wanting a pair of crop pants for quite sometime now, so this was a perfect time to force me to make a pair.  Entering a contest is not something I normally do, however, after meeting so many fantastic ladies at the PR Weekend in Austin at the start of May, I couldn’t resist participating. 
Sewtofit- Butterick 5895
I used the Butterick 5895 pattern.
Pattern Description:
Fitted cotton crop pants with high waist and tapered to hem.  Has optional roll-up hem. Back zipper, side front pockets and hook closure.

Pattern Sizing:
I cut a size 16 and graded the waist to a 14. 
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?Yes, actually it did.
Sewtofit- Butterick 5895
Were the instructions easy to follow?
Extremely easy.  I only checked the instructions to make sure I didn't miss anything.  I chose not to topstitch the crotch seam.  I hemmed 1 inch instead of 5/8. 
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?The front rise is extremely "High."  I know I usually have to lower mine on all patterns, but I think since this one is considered high waist, then it was over 2.5" too much for me.  My front crotch is 8.5" navel to crotch curve.
Sewtofit- Butterick 5895
Fabric Used: Cotton, with 15% stretch only, I think that is too generous.  When I tested the stretch factor is stretched 1" pass the 4" test length.  Thus, I am not considering this a stretch woven.
These alterations were completed on Butterick 5895

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I kept the design pretty much the same.  However, these are my changes:
Front Crotch- lowered by 2.5"
Back crotch- did not have to increase like normal, the back was already pretty high for my build.
Back waist: lowered it by 1/2"
Front/back thigh: increased the front over the upper thigh by 1" to straighten the side seam, thereby, removing said amount from the back pattern piece.
Pocket opening: trimmed 1/4" from the front pocket top in order to shorten it so that it wouldn't fold out.
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I will be making another pair in a solid color.
Conclusion:
I don't know why they called these jeans on the pattern description, they are not jeans.  Other than that, this would make a great basic pattern from which to create any type of crop pants.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Welcome to my world. "Y'all come back now, ya hear."

Busy-ness in my studio is what I would call "all the activity" going on in my little slice of the world.  However, I have been remiss in sharing with you my daily adventures due to the style of my blog.  I don't want to flood you with rantings, so, I have taken to updating quick post via Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, as a means of rapid firing quick snippets of the fun that goes on behind the scenes of Sew-To-Fit.  Occasionally, I may take on an even more challenging and extended project, such a a wedding dress.  You never know.  You just have to come around to see for yourself.
A Tital-wave of a wedding dress..Now this was a challenge!!!
I actually do alterations sometimes for close friends and family and sometimes "others" if they play well, heck, I may even make a dress or two every once in a while.
OMG, is that grey hair peeking out.  I am so involved.
If someone calls me and I really am up for a challenge, I might accept a charge to remake or rescue a damsel in distress, such as with this bride who ordered, "God forbide" a dress from China!!!!  Oh, the horror.
I call this the China disaster. 
I was delighted to take on the challenge and work it out for her...only because she is a friend and co-worker of my daughter, otherwise, this would have been something she would have had to endure alone.  
Consider joining me, by checking my sidebar or visiting my inta-feeds on Instagram and Twitter @sewtofit and like my Facebook page @sewtofit.  I'm looking forward to having you join me in sharing my daily, sometimes hourly behind the scenes updates.  Then returning here once or more times each week for a more in depth explanation of what I come up with during my sewing journey. 
Just a peek into my world..
You never know you might very well enjoy my ranting so much so that you decide to make my page your homepage when you login to the worldwide web.

Until then, thank you for joining me in sharing the things I enjoy the most.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mini-Me strikes again!!! Simplicity 1510 Review

Did I ever mention how much I enjoy teaching sewing to my grand-daughter?  Have I ever mentioned the amount of intense satisfaction I receive from watching her complete each step of the construction process?  I am not sure if I shared that with you all yet....so I will begin again.
I present to you my grand-daughter...better known as "Mini-Me."

 To all the ladies who met my granddaughter at PR Weekend inAustin, TX....”Mini-Me” was elated to be around so many people that sew!!!! My goodness she was so excited and just booming with excitement meeting all of you. This little girl here could have hung and chatted with every level of seamstress there...!!! She would not have missed a beat understanding "every concept and detail of construction that was discussed.

Pattern Description: Simplicity 1510-This dress is listed as special occasion in three lengths with a bolero. She chose to make dress C, w/o the bolero.

Fabric Used: She chose a cotton quilting fabric from our local Its-A-Stitch. I tried a "quilting" fabric from JoAnn’s when she was younger for a dress I made...and needless to say, "Never again." With all the work I personally put into that dress to have it fade, I decided to buy the best quilting cotton, quilters use. From now on I want the dress last through multiple childhood washings.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? This is a really nice rendition of the picture on the pattern, yet, much more casual. I like our version better.. It seems if you use a dressy fabric for her age, then it would not be a "sundress" or play dress and just might be age appropriate.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Of course the reading of the instructions were done by me, she can read some, but these instructions are for Greek majors.. Thus, I circled the easy stuff for her, and she was able to complete "ALL" the straight stitches and even used my Bernina 640 to make the buttonholes on the straps. (One touch buttonholes---"a wonderful invention") She also cut out the entire dress. I only went back and checked to make sure the cutting was "O.K." to achieve success and not deter her with being too nit-picky.

She also sewed her hem, the straight sides of the zipper (after I setup the machine and placed the needle) She was able to help mark all the pleats and learned about the importance of marking and pressing.

She was so very proud of her work and so was I. Before we have only used the "Kids Can Sew" program which I used to teach some years ago. This is why she has her own garment labels to adhere to her creations.

Pattern Sizing on envelope: The sizes are listed for children up to a size 16 (34"chest) on the pattern...and are sold in plus sizes as well up to 16 1/2 (36"chest) That is a very generous size range for one pattern, considering the big four usually only give just a few sizes. We cut a size 14. Afterwards, I realized that they are fitted the same as for adults and thus I should have gone down a size and cut the size 12, because it was just too roomy, and showed too much for it to be a sundress... I guess if it was closed up on the shoulders and sleeves then a larger roomier size would work. I had to then remove the excess from the side seam.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: My granddaughter is quite the designer, however, since this was her first time out using a "big girl" pattern, we did not make any changes.

I did make sure to shorten the straps substantially for coverage.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? The dress is really nice. I love it. I feel it is about time we get so many nice "girls" patterns for the in-between kids.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I would recommend this wholeheartedly and without hesitation we will sew it again. Best way to learn for her is to do another one just the same.

Conclusion: I love teaching my Granddaughter to sew. I think every child should learn to sew, it helps with following instructions, math and reading a ruler...which she knows from sewing.