Sunday, September 29, 2013

My Contest Entry---STILL SEWING

By this time in the last two challenges I had my projects finished and pictures taken. Not so this week! I could use some of my sewing e-buddies to come over and help---I'd furnish the wine and chocolate. You couldn't possibly make more mistakes than I seem to be making (which always happens when I'm hurrying to finish something).  I am procrastinating by taking a long sewing break and writing a blog post.
Since SHAMS showed her fabric bundle for the contest I will too (again).  I think it would be fun if the other contestants showed theirs too, if they care to. It would give us all something to guess about until Tuesday when Fabric Mart shows all the entries!

Here is a hint----I liked the dancing girls better than I thought I would and added touches of black and hot pink taken from their design.

Back to sewing!         Oh my, we get our next sewing challenge tomorrow---SEW ON!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Third Contest Challenge announced

Fabric Mart has just announced their 3rd Challenge. I'm delighted to still be around and thank you for the nice comments and for voting for me on the last one!

Of course we contestants have known about the challenge and have been madly working on our designs since Monday.  We have to use the 3 fabrics in the Mystery Bundle they sent us and everyone's is different.
I mistakenly "blabbed" about mine when I received them but luckily did not cut into them at that time---you'll have to go back several blog posts to see them as I'm not letting THAT cat out of the bag again!

I would REALLY love to win the prize this time----a jar of designer buttons!  I do not collect buttons like some sewers, but go out and select just the right ones for every outfit as I need them.  How wonderful it would be to have a selection right here at home!!!        SEW ON everyone---

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Fabric Mart has posted all the entries for their second challenge in their contest. Again there are some great looking versions of the required pattern.    Voting ends Weds. nite so go to Fabric Mart Contest and vote for your favorite.

AND---let me know if you like my "funky" or "elegant" version better!
I'm already working on the next challenge!     SEW ON!

Monday, September 23, 2013

My Contest Entry--"ELEGANTLY FUNKY"

                            This is my entry to the 2nd challenge in the Fabric Mart contest. You can see the other entries and vote for your favorite at  FabricMart Blog. We were asked to start with a particular Salme pattern and add a one or two word title to describe our creation and personality.

This challenge was the perfect opportunity for me to make a "cocktail-type dress that I need to wear to a dressy function I will be attending next month.  The name "ELEGANTLY FUNKY" came to me immediately for the look I wanted. The funky part is really more the "real me" (and will be explained later in this post), but how in the world was I going to pull off "Elegant"??

I would not normally type myself as an "elegant" dresser but decided to "up the stakes" a little bit and try to achieve ELEGANCE in my garment using the following techiques:

1. My selection of fabrics: Brocade and Lace, both new for me and a bit outside of my "comfort zone"

2. By trying to achieve the very best fit possible---again not my normal look, which is flowy and loose!

3. By upgrading my sewing and finishing techniques.
The last two will be achieved with the help of several  CRAFTSY online classes on "Fitting" and "Pattern Alterations" I have recently taken (can't recommend them enough!)  I was anxious to try some of the techniques I had learned.


I wrote a previous blog post with my thoughts on this pattern and my fear of ever getting it to fit me. I really liked some things about the pattern, mainly the sweetheart neckline and decided to give a try to making the pattern as is (only bigger, longer, and with sleeves)
I started by trying to alter the bodice of the dress to fit me. I made muslins, MANY muslins, until I finally was able to fit my bodice (somewhat).   Here is the pile of different patterns and muslins I made (I didn't use actual muslin but a cotton twill that was nearer the weight of my fashion fabric)

Once I had a top that would fit, I needed to find out where my exact waistline was. To do this I put a piece of elastic around my waist and marked with pins the bottom of the elastic line.

I then checked that it was correct by cutting it at the waistline and sewing the muslin skirt on---It worked and you can't see the horizontal seam at the waist now.

I finally had a bodice pattern that fit at my TRUE waistline.  Here is the difference between the largest size Salme pattern and the final draft that fits me----oh my, a lifetime of too many cookies!

Even with the waistline at the right place, I still did not like the way the fullish skirt looked on me!!!

I happened to see an article in the latest "Real Simple" magazine about wearing the new brocades (I'm actually on trend!) and they suggested this silhouette for a person with a straight figure (that's me). So, I decided to go with a one piece body pattern, just extending my bodice pattern on down.  It still made a big difference in the cutting to know where my TRUE WAISTLINE was, so I am glad I went through that drill.

I worked on getting a good fit additionally by much tweeking of the dart and seam placements, and by making adjustments (recently learned in my Craftsy course) for forward-thrusting shoulders, rounded back and asymmetry in my figure.

I'm finally learning to fit my aging body!I am really pleased with the resulting fit and feel of my dress. It feels like it is just skimming my body, with no points that feel too tight or look too loose!


Because I was new to working with both brocade and lace, I had to do some experimenting with handling them both.     

The brocade needed to be treated almost like wool, using a substantial press cloth, and reacted to both moist heat and pressure (time to use my clapper) I found a microtex sharp needle worked best, going between the fine threads without cutting them.

I used 2 layers of lace, a figured one on top and the above tulle-like mesh on the bottom for added strength. It also had this finished rolled hem that I was able to use on the bottom of my sleeves and skirt.

 The article by Susan Khalje in Threads title "Amazing Lace" was invaluable to me. She suggests several methods of finishing lace seams and the one that worked best for me was the "self-bound" seam.  You start with a 1" seam allowances ( I had four layers of lace fabric).Cut all but the outside layer of the seam allowance to 3/8". Then wrap this layer around the others and sew.   Kind of like a "Hong Kong" seam but you don't need an extra fabric strip.

Further techniques I used to upgrade the "elegance" factor were finished seam allowances (several different methods for brocade and lace edges) and a FULL LINING for the dress, both for comfort and appearance.

I carried out the "lacey" theme in my choice hem tape and did lots of hand finishing which I would have previously done by machine!


you are probably asking!  Well, it's there, though not as obvious as usual.  I didn't mention but the event I will be wearing this to takes place on HALLOWEEN, so I added some SPOOKY touches.

If you look carefully at the figured lace, it has figures of bats on a background of cobwebs

The lacey ruffle at the bottom is actually part of a Halloween underskirt:

and of course my fingernails!  

Here are the finished pictures, both with and without the "FUNKY" underskirt:
I'm not sure which I like best!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Fabric Mart Winner and New Challenge

Congratulations to Kathy who is the winner of the first Fabric Mart contest challenge. Her remake of her wedding dress was amazing, especially that dye job!  It's too bad that anyone had to be eliminated but glad it wasn't me. Thanks to those of you who voted for me in the last challenge.

Probably most of you have seen that the second challenge is to make something "representing our personality" starting with this pattern:
Luckily they said we could alter and change it because believe me, it's going to take a LOT of altering to look decent on my 5'10"   "mature" figure!!  I don't think I have worn anything with a fitted waistline in 50 years since my high school prom (and I remember my mother fussing over the waistline placement on that when she sewed it!)       So I'm not sure even where my waistline IS, though I am sure it must be MUCH lower down on the dress than on this pattern------plus my waistline measurement is 8 inches more than the largest size of the pattern!!!!

So I can see this is going to be a real challenge. I keep telling myself that since I was an engineer in "real life"  I should just look at it as another engineering problem.   Actually, now that I have begun, it's really rather fun to study and experiment with what it takes to get a good-looking and feeling fit.

SO---my goals for this challenge are to make something that fits my personality and lifestyle, that I will wear and be proud to have in my closet, and to work on getting the best possible fit and use good sewing and finishing techniques.  This old dog still has a LOT to learn in that final department and something I had already decided to attempt with all my future sewing. 

  Plus, believe it or not, I have had a yearning lately to get a little away from my prior funky, flowy style and learn to make something more fitted and tailored looking  and  SHAMS tells me that is the current trend anyway!
So, as always, stay tuned and SEW ON.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Fabric Mart Contest entries

The wonderful creative projects from all the contestants are in and you can vote for your favorite at Fabric Mart.  The rules for this challenge were to make something with scraps, recycled or unusual fabric. Amazing what everybody came up with!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Fabric Mart Contest Entry

FINISHED!  You can see from this picture just how happy I am to have finally finished the first FABRIC MART contest challenge which was to make something out of scraps, unusual materials, or things you would have thrown away.    There were times this week when I thought maybe I had "bitten off more than I could chew" but trudged through to the end.

There will be MORE PICTURES of the finished outfit at the end but I'm first going to share my process as I created this "recycled" project:

I have quite a collection of leftover remnants and scraps from my years of sewing and selected the following items from my bags:
Fabrics starting on the left, mostly less than a yard each: Shetland wool from FABRIC MART which I previously felted, left over from a coat I made.
2.Icky green pure polyester double knit that could be left from the 70's.
3.Shiny poly print in sort of the same colors
4. "Skirt length" remnant of grey men's tropical weight wool but not enough for MY skirts.
5. Blue wool knit jersey from FABRIC MART which I had foolishly "felted", resulting in a fuzzy, uneven texture (didn't have the heart to throw it away!)
6 A scrap of black leather, from a barrel at the outlet where it was sold by the pound.

A cowl neck tee which I had made from some nice FABRIC MART knit and ruined with a drop of bleach.

Some curtain rings and other drapery stuff sold on the sale table at the outlet. Stay tuned---this will become JEWELRY!

I decided that I wanted to make a dress combining the currently trendy techniques of color-blocking and leather insets.  Finally found this pattern that used small enough portions of each fabric:
It had plenty of color-blocking on both front and back

It took me a whole day to cut out the pattern. Because there were so many different weights of fabric, I underlined them all with a soft knit interfacing (39 pieces!)

I painted the curtain rings with a light coating of metallic paints to match my outfit, and took off the extra hardware with plyers to make them into bracelets and a necklace

Then I was ready to sew!  I usually make zany, flowy outfits and had almost forgotten all the alterations necessary to make a fitted garment fit MY body perfectly. My friend Shams (who is also in this contest) couldn't believe that I was making a traditional garment (though we were pretty secretive with each other and didn't give too much away about our projects---can't wait to see her entry!)

After much sewing, ripping, fitting, pressing and sweating I finally finished the last stitch very late last night and rushed out this morning to take pictures.  Here are many views of my garment:

Here are closeups of the leather inserts and liningand of my bracelets and matching fingernail polish!

Fabric Mart should have pictures of all the entries up on their blog soon so keep checking their site ( Fabric Mart ) to see them all. I can't wait to see all the creations! Oh, and be sure to vote for your favorite to show support and appreciation to FM for having this fun contest.

Now to clean up all the fabric scraps and get ready for the next challenge---SEW ON!

Friday, September 13, 2013

OOPS! Sorry Fabric Mart!

I may have gotten a little overexcited yesterday when I received the wonderful fabric package from Fabric Mart!   Luckily I am so busy working on the current "recycle" challenge due Monday that I didn't cut into it like I was tempted to do (I am so BAD about wanting to start a new project before finishing the hard work part on a current one!)

Anyway, I heard from the famous Kaitlin at FM, who is in charge of the contest, or at least is the communicator to us contestants, that we will be using this fabric in a few weeks for another challenge!

Of course I am really curious now and even more looking forward to using the fabric, but will put it in the "NO CUT" zone for now.  So please forget about the sneak peek I gave you yesterday and stay tuned for further developments.   I'm also broadcasting this so other contestants won't jump the gun and "show and tell" like I did in my enthusiasm!      As always, SEW ON!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Gift from FABRIC MART !!

I have been busy this week working on my Fabric Mart Fashion contest entry, which is due on Monday. I went to the mailbox and found a box from them!    It was filled with a fabric bundle of really nice fabric!  I assume all the other contestants will receive one too and that mine just came sooner because I live less than 100 miles from their store.      No, the picture above wasn't taken today but several summers ago---just wanted you all to see the store front in case you haven't been there.

Here are the treasures---2-3 yards of each!

The first on the left is some of the softest cotton ever with that darling dancer lady print. In the middle is some copper colored raincoat fabric, just in time for fall! The tag on it says 2 yards but it's really much more.  And there is LOTS of the striped knit which also fits into my autumn color scheme.  In fact I can see me making a raincoat and two tops from this to wear with my new brown jeans!

Can't cut into this yet though, because I still have lots of work to do on my top secret competition entry!

We also got our 2nd challenge today. Don't know if we are supposed to tell but it is really interesting and should be fun!

Thanks again, Fabric Mart, and hope the other contestants will chime in with their package treasures---it's a way we can get to know each other without telling what we are making!  Hope you all are having fun---that dyed fabric of Kathy's looks terrific.       Sew on!

Monday, September 9, 2013

I'm a contestant!

Fabric Mart announced their contestants for the "Project Runway" type contest they will be running for the next 8 weeks.   You can read all about it here
All the contestants looks like stylish and knowledgable sewists so I'm really looking forward to seeing the results each week.   The first challenge is to make something out of scraps, recycled stuff, or unusual materials.     Nope, that's not my entry already finished above but a skirt I made several years ago out of several pairs of pants.   I love this kind of challenge and am looking forward to thinking of something different and playing with all my scraps!             So, good luck to everyone and let's have FUN with this---I plan to!