Beth, of SunnyGal Studio, a custom dressmaking and design studio. I create unique, custom fit clothes for my clients and a few new dresses for myself. I love to sew almost anything, formalwear, tailored jackets, children's clothes, vintage styles, and clothes for travel to sunny places. When I am not sewing I work in my garden and obsess about the weather.
Many times I open my closet doors and look through the options, searching mostly in vain for a cute top to wear with my latest jacket creation. Why don't I make more simple tops? They are so useful for mixing and matching with things I want to wear. They take relatively small amounts of fabric and are quick to sew. A new resolution - sew tops this summer. Actually I have a lot of sleeveless tops, but there are times when a bit of sleeve is more comfortable.
With all that said, here is my latest top, from Burda Magazine February 2018 #120. I traced this ages ago and the other night decided to sew it up.
I used some cotton fabric I bought at some rummage sale or other, as I just wanted to see if I liked the style. Verdict: I do like it! and will find some nice silk to make another one.
This top is more interesting from the back as it has a slightly low v-shape with a tie at the center back. I thought that the tie was a continuation of the neck band which would take more fabric but rather cleverly the neck back is a circle and you leave a small gap at the center back where you can slip in another piece to create the tie.
Here's a look at the images and tech drawing from the magazine. In their text they mentioned using a fabric with a matte on one side and shine on the other to create a contrast between the neck bank and the top. I like that idea, particularly in a solid color.
You can spot the difference between my version and the magazine one - short sleeves. The sleeves look ok in the photo, perhaps make it coordinate with the pencil skirt but in real life I can't stand those elbow length sleeves. For one thing I would only wear this blouse in warm weather and then longer sleeves are too much. But more importantly, when you try to put a jacket or anything over that type of sleeve they just bunch up and are impossible to smooth out. So that sleeve length had to go.
I did cut it out with the longer sleeves but got rid of them right away. Much better shorter I think. By the way those are my Ash Jeans (2nd pair). That was a lucky fabric pick at a Bay Area Sewists Meetup swap last year.
I sewed the neck band on the top and then hand stitched the inside edge. I didn't press it all all which I think gives it the soft roll and lets the bias drape a little bit.
I made a size 38 which is my usual size in Burda and took it in a bit on the sides as it was roomy. This is a super quick sew as the sleeves are raglan sleeves with a dart detail on the shoulder to create shaping, this is the 2nd shirt from Burda with that detail that I've sewn, the previous one is here.
Almost forgot, back view on me. I think this top could be really nice in a wide variety of fabrics, silk, rayon, poly, even a lightweight knit.
I think this top will look really nice with white jeans, so I'm looking forward to white denim weather - which we DO NOT have today, as we are getting a weird May heavy rainstorm. I guess I should be happy that the garden will get another good watering :)
Now to the 2nd topic in my blog post title - What is happening with my Burda subscription?? GLP News, which was the distributor through which I and everyone else in the US had a subscription, has closed their doors. Like, they are gone! and supposedly transferring subscriptions to another distributor. I HOPE SO! Because of course I want my magazines and patterns but also because the subscription is $90 per year and I renewed in January. So a fair chunk of change that I don't want to lose. I am a bit mystified by the business practices of Burda in the US. They have a really active website and email subscription list and yet you can't get the magazine from them which seems counterintuitive.
My other Burda topic I've been thinking about is their hashtag problem. Oh yeah, it's a problem. Consider that the success of a lot of indie patterns is partly due to the share-ability on social media of a pattern with a name. It's quite easy to share and search a pattern that has a name and of course just to recall it. Patterns with numbers are also not too difficult to share, for example #V1247 (the best skirt pattern ever, the Vogue Rachel Comey skirt and top pattern). So Vogue, McCalls, Simplicity etc can use the hashtag of the pattern company first letter and then the pattern number, such as #S2311 (both my green jacket and my black coat).
With all that in mind I've tried to come up with a hashtag for Burda magazine patterns. The problem is indicating all the info, i.e. Month/Year/Pattern number.
Here's what I posted on my Instagram story when I shared pictures of my recently sewn pink wool jacket. Which was from the Burda October 2018 issue, pattern 108. Or as shown below, #BurdaMag102018108
breaking that down, it shows Burda Mag, then the month 10, then the year 2018, then the pattern number 108.
So for this bowtie back neckline blouse I've blogged about today, the hashtag would be #BurdaMag022018120
Yes, all this is a bit long but it would be so useful! I look at the #burdastyle hashtag all the time. People from all over the world are sharing their Burda magazine creations, and so often they're not mentioning what the pattern is or even what month or year. It drives me crazy!
Perhaps this is a solution in search of a problem but I'm going to go back and put the hashtag on all my Instagram posts where I sewed a Burda magazine pattern, and I think I will message some people to see if they will do it as well. When I posted in my story I did get a few replies from people who said they would do the same.
That's my rant for the day :) now back to sewing.
Up next, I just finished sewing a few examples for my upcoming classes at Hello Stitch, in my previous post I listed all the classes that are scheduled for summer (scroll down to the bottom of the post for all the info). Last night I made a Zadie jumpsuit and I'm on board with that pattern! The sample I made is a bit long in the torso for me and is actually meant to be an example to show at the studio, but I will be making another version for myself in a print. I like to wear the item when I teach the class, that's kind of fun.
I think I might start on a new pattern soon, Vogue 9357, so I can be ready when the sun finally returns with a new summer dress.
Happy Sewing, Beth
Here's today's garden photo - well two actually. This time of year is the most lush and flowery around here, before the dry heat of summer really sets in. And you know I like to match my flower photo to my sewing. The first is a Salvia, Hot Lips, and the second is a rose that might be called Cherry Parfait.
This sewing project was one of those "I don't really need it but why not?" items where you are in a fabric store and see something slightly ridiculous and yet buy it anyway. For me it was this sparkly denim which I bought at Joann's one day, as it had a nice weight and suitable stretch, plus a subtle silver shimmer. Or can jeans that sparkle be considered subtle? Since you can't really see the shimmer in photos I will say yes.
I cut them out fully intending to make the cropped wide leg version on the pattern envelope, which is one of the 4 options on the Megan Nielsen Ash jeans. (the last view shown in the diagrams).
However I am tempted to say, in honor of May the 4th (Star Wars day) that THESE are not the wide leg jeans you are looking for. If you get it, you get it...and on a slightly meandering note, I saw the original movie as it opened that first summer in the theater. Try to imagine how thrilling that movie was before it was everywhere in our culture. It had everything, adventure, romance, good vs. evil, humor, inspiration and young Harrison Ford! And we had to wait 3 years! for each sequel to find out what happened next. I still love that original trilogy (and have never seen any of the subsequent ones :)
Back to sewing, I did cut these out using the pattern pieces for the wide leg version. And basted them together for a try-on. And decided noooooooooo. Everyone has their pet peeve about how things look on themselves, for me it is things that make me look extra short in the bottom half. As I'm not tall to begin with, and kind of short in the leg half, I don't need clothes that make my bum look even closer to the ground. So I took out my pattern pieces from the slim leg Ash jeans and overlaid them on the legs and recut them to that shape. Below is the back pattern piece, you can see how much narrower the slim leg is. And not just in the outside seam, but also starting at the inner thigh and continuing down to the ankle. I didn't get a photo that showed the whole pattern piece but you get the idea.
The yokes were already sewn on the backs and the pockets and zipper were all done in the front, so it was a quick bit of work to unbaste and then restitch after I had trimmed them down to the slim leg.
Not the best looking photo but I wanted you to see how high these jeans come up on me. I did raise the waist all the way around 1/2" since I'm long in the rise. I bought the Dawn jeans pattern which is described as a high-rise jean so I'll be interested to see how the rise is on that.
The whole time I was sewing these I thought the denim was black with a bit of sparkle, and I used black thread for both construction and topstitching.
I like the pockets to continue all across the center front of the jeans, I think some call this a waist stay, or I in RTW jeans I've seen it called tummy control. Whatever it is I think it keeps the front from stretching out, and also it keeps the pocket bags from creeping out which drives me crazy.
I'll be showing how to do this in my Jeans class at Hello Stitch Studio which is coming up in June, it's two Saturdays June 1 and June 8. I think this Ash jeans pattern is so good, the fit and shaping are really nice. As I mentioned before I made the first pair back in January and I used my hip measurement to choose the size. I took them in at the waist but the rest of the jeans are according to the pattern and I really am happy with the fit. This is probably the most suitable denim I've used, as the other two versions were sewn with denim I got at fabric swaps and a little skimpy on the stretch amount although they worked out ok.
You can see that I rummaged around in my scrap box for some cottons to use as the pocket bags and the waistband inside. I don't really get too worked up about the insides and don't care if they match. They don't show! use up scraps! I put plain woven cotton for the inside waistband instead of the denim as I felt it was the tiniest bit rough and also got quite hot when I ironed it, possibly due to the metallic component. So I didn't want that touching my skin around the waist. Also using a non-stretch for the waistband seems to work well for me.
And here's how I realized these jeans were actually blue and not black.
I put them on with this silk top which is a black/white/green print. And took some photos. Staring at the pictures it was obvious that the denim was blue. Oh well. And the silver loafers are maybe too much with the sparkle jeans....Funny how you see things in photos that you don't notice in the mirror.
Close up view and the sparkles are evident? Also looks like black denim, right? This is in my super bright in the daytime sewing room.
So that's the latest on my Ash jeans. I probably have about 10 pairs of blue denim RTW jeans in my closet, various other colors also and now 3 pairs of Ash jeans. I fully intend to make the Dawn jeans and them it's time to make some shorts maybe? No more jeans for a while. Plus once our summer heat kicks in I rarely even put ON jeans until sometimes mid-Sept or even later.
For May I have a bit of a break in my schedule of teaching classes, as this month has a lot of weekend holidays and other stuff on the calendar so we don't have as many classes. Although we just did a weekday class last Thursday and it sold out immediately so based on that we have a couple more weekday classes now scheduled (Wrap dress and Lander pants classes).
Instead of listing my upcoming classes, here's a screen grab to show you what's on the calendar for June - Aug. There are just a couple of spots remaining in the Fitting class on June 22 and we won't have another scheduled until the fall so if you are interested jump on that. Here's the link to the class page.
Did you see what class is there in the last image? Yes, the Zadie jumpsuit! I'm very excited to make that, I just got the pattern and will be sewing up a sample in the next month or so. And I didn't think it would work on a height-challenged person :) but I ran into Kristin at the Stone Mountain Fabrics 38th Anniversary party on Friday night.
Kristin, who I met in a few of my classes, said her Zadie was hot off the sewing machine, just finished the night before. It looks so cute on her! so now I'm ready to try one for myself. It looks like we are the only ones there but the place was packed with so many stitchers - a really fun event and great to see everyone. The sewing community in the bay area is really lively!
And looking ahead to August and September, check this out. I'm doing another beginner series based around the new Wiksten dress pattern (which I believe is going to be back in stock in the next month or so) and then my Jacket Weekend workshop is official. The class registration is live on the Hello Stitch Website.
The jacket workshop will be a 3-day class (afternoon on Friday and then Sat/Sun). The new Jasika Blazer pattern is a good option but if you already have a jacket or coat pattern that you want to do that's fine with me. I will be showing a lot of techniques and demonstrations on how I do things, including what parts of the instructions I ignore and go my own way :) all my thoughts on interfacings and a faster way to make the lining. Plus whatever else I think of in the next few months. While this class isn't until Sept. we have had registrations the day it was listed so I think we will have a great group. If you have any questions on this please email me.
That's the latest on my Ash jeans, now onward to some summer dresses. I have a couple of things picked out from the last two Burdas and I need to get going on those.
Happy Spring Sewing, Beth
Today's garden photo, I was so pleased with these bicolor tulips that I planted in the fall and promptly forgot were there. They've finished blooming now but the colors were so pretty.
This spring I have repeated something that I've done a few times in recent memory, that being I've sewn up a wool coat or jacket that will not get any wear until next fall. I just finished this Burda jacket from their October 2018 issue, it's # 108.
I've been wanting to make this jacket since that issue arrived in my mailbox. Despite the fact that it has a belt. Coats or jackets with belts and I just don't get along. I often walk around with a jacket open, not buttoned up so what happens to the belt, it just hangs there. But despite those misgivings I loved the collar/lapel arrangement on this pattern. Perhaps also the photo in the magazine was shown in cherry red, so appealing to me. I went on a hunt for some suitable fabric. And also to find a color that didn't already exist in my wardrobe. I wanted a solid color and so around Valentine's day there was a extra 10% on the Mood Fabrics website on all things pink. So this wool boucle jumped into my cart. My regret is that I didn't buy about 1/2 yard more, as I have about 5/8 yard remaining and if I had one yard remaining I could have made a cute 60's style sheath dress to wear with my jacket. Now that would be committing to this color, right? But I will work on finding something to pair with that remnant and come up with a use for it.
I have so many projects going on right now that I didn't do any photos during construction - but if you want jacket sewing details look at any of my previous posts, I've made 3 blazers in the last couple of months!
I did take this one during some late night sewing, and had to ask @geopri123 about the pocket construction as it wasn't quite apparent to me, and of course the Burda instructions are a bit cryptic. Actually the Burda instructions are generally OK, but where the fall down is that they give names to the pattern pieces or various components that don't quite make sense. Perhaps it's the translation. In any case she gave me some info and they came out fine.
I think the belt is a bit bulky, but I didn't get around to making an actual belt with a buckle. I found a nice buckle in my stash so when autumn arrives I will make that and be ready to wear this when the chilly weather returns.
Here are the images from Burda. I just can't with those big snaps, I think they ruin the look of the lapel.
But that means the belt is definitely needed to keep it closed. Sewing note - I added 2" in length to this jacket. My tendency is to have jacket stop well below my hipbone, perhaps because I have a long rise (despite being a short person) a lot of jacket pattern seem too short to me. So I add length which I can always remove if not needed.
I didn't use the pocket welt pieces for the pockets, just cut my own but after I did the first one I realized that they would have been a lot easier to sew if I had made them a bit wider, like 3/8" instead of my usual 1/4" wide. That boucle is a bit thicker than other wools.
See above, that tie belt is just too bulky and regretfully I tied it a bit sloppily when I took the outdoor pictures. On the plus side, the color of the jacket is pretty much exact in the outdoor photos so you can see how bright it is. I think it is more of a coral pink than a true pink. I started a top to go with this jacket in a white/pink print fabric and ended up not liking my super bold sleeves - so it will be revised into a sleeveless top. Which I will probably wear more anyway! I still have the a navy blue/pink rayon woven I bought at Stone Mountain for a top to go with this and I won't mess that up.
So that's the latest on my bold pink jacket. As I mentioned at the top of the post, I've sewn up a wool item just as our spring weather warms up twice before. First with this blue wool coat from the Burda Style Book, and second with this Burda Shawl collar coat . Hmmm, perhaps a theme here, I find the Burda outerwear so nice that I covet these patterns and make them up whenever the mood strikes me. Note to self - sew fall things in the fall. The problem with sewing fall things here in N.Calif. is that it is quite hot in Sept. and often into October so I never want to be sewing warm fabrics then. Perhaps my clever plan to sew them in spring and then put away to be ready for fall is genius! ha ha.
In other news, lots of new classes coming on the calendar at Hello Stitch Studio. Culottes, a jumpsuit, dresses, a cami top, jeans and more. We are focusing on specific patterns for the classes and choosing ones that come in a full range of sizes. Hope to see you in a class soon.
Jacket Weekend Workshop - definitely in the plans. Either in mid Sept. (9/13-15) or mid Oct. (10/18-20) Email me if you are interested and want more details. We will decide on the date soon. I'm now leaning towards the September date plus that is a gorgeous time to visit the Bay Area! P.S. planning on using the new Closet Case Jasika blazer pattern although if you already have a jacket pattern picked out I'm fine with that.
Up next, I made a couple of Tamarack jackets so I will blog about those. Yes, me doing some quilting. Spoiler - I find it a bit tedious, but they look good. And then onto spring, and starting my cropped wide leg Ash jeans,
Happy Spring Sewing, Beth
Of course it had to be a pink tulip for today's garden photo to go with my pink jacket. These striped tulips have been such a pleasant surprise after I forgot that I planted them. That's the thing about gardening, some delightful surprises can appear.
In contrast to my usual style, this season I've actually made some specific sewing plans. Which knowing myself means that I will stick to maybe 50% of this plan. But for me sewing is fun, and I go where my mood takes me.
That being said, I have issued a challenge to myself to limit my summer dress sewing this year to five. And don't laugh, a few minutes ago I was all set to write three, but then I though, nah, that will never happen. So I added a couple more for fun. After all who can predict what prettiness will be in store, like last year when I was thumbing through a not quite vintage Burda and came up with this lovely dress. The other day a friend of mine was saying that she didn't see me wearing my summer dresses last year very often - I replied yes I did wear them, but the fact of the matter is that I have SO many. And there are only so many days of summer.
Which brings me to my sort-of resolution for this year, Separates! Tops, skirts, knit tops, ankle length pants, shorts - anything but dresses. Do you think I will stick to this plan? I have doubts...
But let's turn to my sewing plans. And why not....start with the dresses?
When I saw the April Burda preview this one jumped out at me instantly. I've been seeing things with a flounce type ruffle all over and wanted to get in on the action. And I have two fabric candidates for this dress.
Print or solid. My first inclination was solid - as I don't have all that many solid color dresses and it might be nice to have one. But then I bought this rayon print at a guild sale for $ 2. It has the perfect drape for this pattern. But the purple also came from a freebie pile at Hello Stitch. You know I am all about taking the bargain fabrics and trying to work magic with them!
I think there are more resources for bargain fabric around than people realize. If you check garage sale listings I filter by keyword: sewing, and then read through the description, if it says "sewing machine and any of the following words : tools, fabrics, patterns, supplies, yardage etc. then if I can make it I check it out. I've found some great stuff at garage sales. The important thing is that the listing has to have more than just "sewing machine" because lots of people get rid of stuff they never use including a sewing machine. I think people look at a sewing machine as a useful item that they have no use for! If they don't sew. But they realize it's not something to stick in the trash (thankfully). So a garage sale that has only "sewing machine" is probably not going to yield any treasures.
The other way I find bargain fabrics is at the local American Sewing Guild twice-yearly sale. Check around if there is an American Sewing Guild (ASG) in your area. I don't belong as the programs don't really interest me but they have a twice yearly stash sale and I've found a lot of great stuff there. (I found this red plaid fabric which turned into my best holiday dress).
Meetup groups: I belong to the Bay Area Sewists which was started by someone (Meg) who just wanted to get together with other people who sew - and look how big the group is now! We have great events, speakers, pattern and fabric swaps. People who sew are really friendly and always want to have opportunities to chat about sewing.
Lastly I belong to a local group which is probably a one-of-a-kind group, that meets monthly on a weekday morning and has speakers on various textile and fiber topics. To raise money for the speaker fees at each meeting they have a sale of donated stuff so every month I am there with my tote bag finding all kinds of goodies. At the very least I find fabrics for just a few dollars to make test garments or samples.
Here's what I found there last week, this blue mystery fabric which is some type of cotton. Possibly a lightweight upholstery fabric? or just a textured weave cotton. We are planning to have a culottes class at Hello Stitch this summer, probably in July, so I want to sew up some culottes for myself and I think this floral would be cute. Extra bonus - the pattern was one I picked at the last Bay Area Sewists pattern swap so this will be a bargain project. I'm thinking a red knit top or maybe a red silk camisole to go with.
Back to dresses, as soon as this Vogue 9357 pattern came out it jumped into my shopping cart :) I really like the striped version although the plaid and gingham versions are beautiful too. I really love pattern matching puzzle projects, like this one, although when I'm in the midst of them I sort of hate them! Until they are all cut out. Someone gave me those two black and white fabrics, they are very fine quality Italian cottons. Perhaps a bit too wrinkly for my taste, at least the one on the bottom. I will have to give this a bit of thought, but how sharp would that dress be in a black white combo?
Now onto things that are not dresses. You know I don't sew all that many independent patterns, mostly Pauline Alice patterns which I love, and now I have the same feelings for the Megan Nielsen patterns. Long ago I sewed the Tania culottes and I thought that was a clever pattern. The Ash jeans fit me so well, with almost no adjustments which I realize is a miracle and guaranteed to make some readers annoyed at me...but try them? is the advice I can give.
So I bought this glimmer denim at Joann's a couple of weeks ago. Slightly impulse purchase (as are all fabric purchases at Joann's). It's a charcoal black with silver threads. It might look like white but trust me, it shimmers in the light. So I will be making the wide leg version, since I want to see how they look. I fear this silhouette won't suit me but I will sew it up and see, then I can always narrow the legs to the straight version. Or make them cropped. Or both. Anyway I just want to try the wide leg version.
And lastly on my personal sewing list is another Megan Nielsen pattern, the Dawn Jeans. I liked the Ash jeans so much I decided to try this pattern. I am really long in the rise despite being a short person - so a higher waist jean might be perfect. I think I will make the wide leg version of these as well. This mid-weight cotton mystery fabric, (canvas? twill?) is another of my bargain finds so it's worth a try to test this pattern. Actually I don't think either version looks very good on the pattern envelope but I've seen them in various IG posts and they look good. And I'm definitely subbing out the button fly for a zipper. I just don't get the appeal of a button fly. I think I've had on pair in my whole jeans wearing life and didn't like them. Team zipper!
So that's the list of what I plan to sew for myself this spring. As well as a few other projects in the queue.
This silk blouse for Heather is about 30% completed. I'm making the V-neck version and OF COURSE changing up the pattern details. The blouse shown is a popover with a rather useless little button placket and center front pleat. I've changed it to a regular center front opening, which also is a hidden buttonhole placket. This silk is from Britex and coordinates with the blazer I made for her in February.
So that's the latest on my sewing plans. Now that I've looked this over, I think that black/white/pink rayon print shown above would make nice and wearable separates. In fact it would be ideal for the Pauline Alice Mirambel skirt and then a sleeveless top. It would look like a dress but be separates! OK, that's going on the list.
April is a busy month at Hello Stitch Studio - tomorrow starts our Sewing Level I and Sewing Level II series classes. I'm pleasantly surprised that we have quickly sold out each time we've offered the Level I which tells us that a lot of people are interested in learning to sew!! Also this weekend on Sunday is the Bondi Dress class which might have one spot available - it hasn't been sleeveless dress weather yet around here but time to get ready! Sunday April 28 is the Lander Pants class - this one will sell out so if you are interested register soon. For classes in May and beyond here's the Hello Stitch web page.
Jacket making workshop--> thinking far into the future but it will be here before you know it. We are thinking about the weekend of October 19-20 if you are interested. Email me if you are thinking about it as we are in the planning stage soon.
OK, time for me to get some sleep - busy weekend ahead. Next week will be back to my sewing projects as well as get my tomato plantings finished. And then wish for some sunshine!!
Happy Spring Sewing, Beth
today's garden photo, the tulips are blooming. I have so many beautiful tulips this year, I kind of forgot that I bought a bag of tulips at Costco back in the fall, planted them and promptly forgot all about them until these striped beauties started appearing. I love the serendipity of bulbs - they appear and bloom just when you need them.
Time for another Random Threads post as I have a number of things written down in my notebook, and this time I can read them all. I was careful when jotting things down and tried to make my notes legible to myself, mostly succeeding.
Are you ready for spring sewing? I thought that I could fit in another winter item (truth be told a Burda Easy coat that I've been wanting to make for ages, and I actually have wool coating remnants that are just enough to make a nice color blocked version). But the forecast is sun for the next week or so and spring is just about here, so I will have to put the coat idea away until next fall. That means when there is the first hint of frost I will have a project ready and waiting.
Which means I'm ready to sew for spring and summer. Which despite my love of making coats and jackets summer clothes are by far my favorite to wear. Bring on the warm weather, I ordered two pairs of sandals this morning!
New and Novel: I'm always looking for a new detail in sewing patterns. What do you look for in sewing patterns? My main focus for choosing to make a new sewing pattern is whether or not it has a new-to-me detail. Or some interesting combination of features. Sometimes it's the way the pattern pieces go together, like this jacket. Or a silhouette with an interesting funnel collar detail like this coat. Occasionally I force myself to try a new shape or style with wearable results. I think this is the reason I decided to subscribe to Burda Magazine, as I noticed in each issue along with plenty of repeats they had a good amount of really interesting items, and so far I've found something in each issue that was unique and made me want to trace it out. Granted that I have been sewing a long time and consequently crave something challenging, so complex patterns keep my interest and sew-jo going. Here's a look at a Burda jacket I'm currently making, I had to really puzzle to figure out the pocket construction and that was fun - with a little bit of frustration.
I can't wait to get the Burda April issue as I saw a dress in there that will be jumping to the top of my spring to-do list. I love the combo of ruffle and the twist at the waist. This one will have to be all about the fabric selection as I've made some wrong choices on things with ruffles in the past.
The flip side of this is boredom with a lot of pattern releases that I see around. It kind of amazes me how many knit t-shirt patterns get released by new pattern designers. Like any other product category where there are many of the same product but hundreds of brands, starting with a basic item is a way to develop a relationship with the customer and get them comfortable with your product. But how can you attract customers if your item is the same as so many that already exist? It baffles me. (don't get me started on woven tops. every week there is a new pattern that seems indistinguishable from the previous ones). In any event, I think there are lots of pattern designers that target people who are relatively new to sewing. I will give a shout out to Vogue designer patterns, they often have interesting details or else they include my other favorite feature which is more than one item in a pattern, such as a skirt and top, or dress, top and jacket etc. Pattern Value!
Backstitching - do you do it?
When I'm teaching sewing classes at Hello Stitch we typically have people who are fairly new to sewing. Which means that in addition to learning about garment construction techniques, fabric and fit, they are also getting familiar with using a sewing machine. The machines at the studio are Janome and they default to a 2.4 stitch length, which is quite short and painful to unpick if necessary. Which is most always necessary when you are a beginner, right? So at the beginning of each class I tell them to bump that stitch length up to 2.8 or 3 and no backstitching. And then I prepare myself for the outcry "what?? no backstitching at the beginning and end?" Nope. Not necessary in my opinion.
Here are my reasons. 1) on modern machines with the zig-zag throat plate, that opening where the needle goes down is wider and it is soeasy to have the fabric edge pulled in just enough to make a knotty mess or get stuck. It takes a while to get the feel of where to place the fabric edge to be able to backstitch without that happening. I think it is probably second nature for an experienced sewer but it takes a bit of practice and it is really frustrating for new sewers. 2) If you make a mistake (inevitable - we all do) then the backstitching at the beginning - especially if done enthusiastically is a nightmare to unpick. And sometimes shreds the fabric and causes all kinds of delay and frustration. 3) Most seams are crossed by another seam, which in effect locks down the stitching. And often the seam allowances where the backstitching took place is trimmed away. So to my mind it really is not needed. If you are reasonable gentle with the pieces you have sewn, as opposed to wildly tossing them around your sewing space, they will remain stitched together ready for the next step. Plus it makes your sewing just that little bit faster which is always rewarding.
Caveat on the whole backstitching issue - YES there are times when I do it. Certain seams on certain fabrics really do need it, I'm thinking on a lot of denim items, hard wearing fabrics, or things like shorts and pants. Bottoms of zippers, center seams with an opening, etc, all those spots definitely need some reinforcement. So it's useful but not needed on every seam.
Pattern names are perfect for the Instagram age: I mean pattern with a name as opposed to a pattern number. I think the combination of using a name which is hash-tag-able works perfectly in the Instagram age, it does make searching and sharing so easy. For example V9357 or Burda 12-2019-107 don't exactly have the same ring as Dawn Jeans (Megan Nielsen) or Magnolia dress (Deer and Doe). I noticed this especially as I'm always looking now for examples of items sewn from the recent issues of Burda, and rarely does anyone mention on IG what the exact pattern is. They might use the hashtag #Burdastyle but often don't mention the month/year. Which I realize is a minor problem in the scheme of things but it is annoying. In fact I see in comments people have asked what is the pattern. So hey there, sewists who post about their Burda items - mention the magazine issue! Yeah, this is a futile request. And conversely have you found a pattern appealing except for the name? The word might have an association that does not attract you? Certainly naming of products is a whole field of study in marketing, I just read an article about paint colors and how the name can change the sales numbers if pitched at just the right customer segment (or deter sales if not considered interesting). I'm a pragmatist on this issue, pattern numbers are fine with me and pattern names sometimes are a bit annoying. Maybe that's why I drive a car that has a model number but not a name? Nah, I just chose it in the showroom because I loved the color! (don't get me started on car colors - why are they so drab? so...many...silver and grey...
Ties that show the wrong side of the fabric: I find this bothersome - do you have an opinion? And now I can't recall which pattern I saw recently that had this feature but it looks so unfinished. Some patterns have that warning in the find print "Wrong side will show" and I tend to avoid that as it just never looks quite right. This example below doesn't have that, the tie pattern piece is two pieces sewn together so the wrong side of the fabric doesn't show. I wish I could recall....
Measuring suits: Yes, KS_Sews, it was the Zozo suit that I was thinking of when I wrote "measuring suits" in my notebook. And she has a post where she used the suit to get her measurements. It seems like a lot of work in order to get measurements that you could get with just your measuring tape - and I wonder how accurate they really are, or how they compare to having another person measure you. Here's a really interesting article on the Economist website, the writer tried the Zozosuit and ordered clothes, which were a bit of a letdown. By the way he brings up the issue of all those photos of people in their zozosuits floating around and all the data you've provided to the company. Very interesting.
What's next on the calendar at Hello Stitch? This upcoming weekend is my Sew a Wrap Dress class, a couple of spots still available in that. In April we have plenty on the schedule, including the Learn to Sew Level II which is a three Saturdays dressmaking class that includes a module on fitting a bodice. Still a few spots in that one but I'm sure it will fill up so if you are interested register soon. And we have a Lander pants class, a Bondi dress class (with new option for the Tesutti Coni dress that has sleeves) and many more. All classes can be found here on the Garment Sewing page of the Hello Stitch website. All the classes have been filling up so if you are interested please register while there is still space available. By the way, we're doing the Ash jeans class again, starting June 1. I'm so impressed with that pattern. I think I'll start a summer pair in the wide leg crop version.
What have I been working on? I'm actually making a Tamarack jacket for my mom, as she liked the sample I sewed for a recent class. That was fun and so much different than things I usually make. The ones people made in the class were so cute! I just made a muslin for a blouse for Heather, to sew up in one of the silks we bought at Britex last fall. Here's a peek at the muslin, which I made in some mystery fabric I bought at a rummage sale which test sewing in mind. (grey Tamarack hiding in the photo). I added a bust dart which is a feature I taught the other day in my Adjust the Bust class - even if the pattern fits a bust dart is so useful on a full bust as it add the additional 3-dimensionality that is needed so that the front doesn't ride up. This pattern has shoulder gathers which are pretty but they are hiding a bust dart that is probably insufficient for anyone who is more full busted. I will show details when I blog about this blouse - which may be in the next month or so :)
Next blog post will be my green ultra suede skirt and a wool challis shirt I made that coincided with St. Patrick's day. Good thing as I have now worn this outfit a few times but it will be put away until next fall - getting way too warm here for that.
Happy Spring sewing - bring it on! Beth
Today's garden photo, these little grape hyacinths. I put the bulbs in years ago and they come up every year. But they are so tiny as to be hardly noticeable. But cute and such a pretty color.
Could pink be the happiest color? I saw a hashtag on Instagram for this month that I have no problem participating in, which is #SewHappyColor. Just about my whole wardrobe is a bright color, as you probably know it's the rare item in a neutral shade that makes into rotation for me.
But this color is in another category. In all the photos it looks so saturated, and probably also due to the type of fabric it has a sheen as well. It was a bit tricky to get photos of the actual color and I'm not sure any of them are exactly how it looks in person. In any case - this shirt is very luxurious to wear and I'm so glad I finished it before our warmer weather arrives. The silk fabric is from Stone Mountain as well as the buttons which match perfectly. I always find fantastic buttons there.
Because it is stretch silk charmeuse I decided to do my hidden buttonhole placket which I've done on a lot of silk shirts and blouses. Particularly on stretch silk - the buttonholes are a bit tricky and there's always one that misbehaves. It never fails that it's the top one that shows the most so to circumvent that issue I do the hidden buttonhole placket and hide them all :)
I don't put a button on the collar stand, and you may not even have noticed that it was missing. My shirt my rules! I never button that one up and it's just kind of annoying to do the buttonhole in the silk there so I skip it.
By the way, most all the tutorials and how-to's that I wrote on the original Craftsy blog have been updated onto their new websites, so you can still read them. I have a page here on my blog menu at the top, you can see them all listed and click over to read any.
This one on the hidden buttonhole placket is one of my best, if I do say so myself :) and here is the link.
Here's a couple of views of the placket in progress on this silk version.
For all my button front shirts I use the same pattern which is this dull looking Simplicity pattern. And I've never ever sewn it just as the pattern is designed. I have a couple of different placket variations, and have used it for a popover and a tunic. I think once you have a shirt pattern that fits as you want then it's really fun to change that into other variations. My most recent version using this same pattern is this one in Liberty cotton/silk. Which I noted in that post was version no. 15 so I guess this silk charmeuse one is the 16th. I think based on how many shirt patterns I haven't bought I can purchase some new dress patterns!
One of the changes I've made on this shirt pattern is to rotate the bust dart into shoulder gathers. I'm not sure that it worked as well on this fabric as it does on cotton but it does avoid the dreaded pointy dart which can happen on satiny fabrics.
Of the various silks I find that stretch silk charmeuse is the most difficult to sew, but the most wonderful to wear. I did machine baste the sleeves in, which I generally do, and found this little boo boo which is super easy to fix and then sew in the sleeves with a regular length stitch and no pins.
Yeah those buttons could not match any better - and they were just a lucky find on the wall of buttons at Stone Mountain.
And another look at this shirt along with the wool blazer which I wrote about in my previous post. These two items are a match made in wardrobe heaven.
So that's the latest on my silk shirt. Next up are a couple of pieces that I just sewed in a new-to-me color palette. Not as bright as this, I'll say they are jewel-tone adjacent. And just right for the next holiday on the calendar, St. Patrick's Day.
Sewing class updates at Hello Stitch Studio: next week we have a rare weekday class on the schedule, which is my Adjust the Bust class on Thursday Mar. 14. There are a couple of spots still available and you can sign up for just the morning session, which is hands-on lessons where you will learn to do the various adjustments, or include the optional afternoon session is where we adjust the specific pattern of your choice. Looking forward to the rest of March we have the Sew a Wrap Dress class on Mar. 23. Pick any wrap dress and I will help you with fitting before you cut out your fabric. April is going to be really busy - we have our Level I: Learn to Sew series again as the last two sessions were sold out, so that starts on Sat. Apr 6. The Level II: Make a Dress class also starts on Sat. Apr 6. On Sunday April 7 is the Bondi Dress class - that was so popular last summer and we decided to get it on the calendar in time for spring. Then after that weekend on Monday I sleep in! Finishing out April we have the Lander pants class on April 28. In May we have the following classes scheduled: Knit T-shirt, Wiksten Haori Jacket, Jeans weekend workshop and Copy your Favorite Garment. All the class info and registration can be found here.
There are lots of daffodils around and I see the roses starting to leaf out - so spring will be here in no time. With all this rain I'm planning for a great garden year. Sometimes just the planning is enjoyable - even if what I'm thinking of doing never materializes. And with some initial effort (well a lot of effort) you put the plants in, treat them right and then while you are sleeping they grow and grow. As opposed to those lazy fabrics that don't sew themselves, right?
Thus speaks a person who might or might not go to the garden center and succulent sale on Sunday whether or not there is a space to put any new plants in her garden.
Happy Sewing, Beth
Here's a camellia that lives near the front porch. A few years ago it was a big messy thing that was starting to obscure the view out of the front window. So I chopped it down to stumps and kind of hoped it would croak so I could replace it with something a little more interesting. But it sprouted and a couple of years later is again putting out these flowers. I can understand why so may camellias are planted here in the bay area, they are hardy, green all year, and while messy when the flowers drop they are so colorful in bloom.
It seems like jackets are having a moment. Or at least a resurgence in popularity. Perhaps it was kicked off during the last two election and the pantsuits worn by women candidates, or maybe we were due a return of 80's fashion, which means oversized jackets, suits and dare I say, shoulder pads. Either way I'm happy for this development as I've always loved sewing blazers (also wearing them) and feel like the sewing community is starting to feel the same way.
So during January when I had to wait on finishing the blazer I sewed for Heather, I sewed up this blazer jacket for myself. I have a older jacket in my closet that I can't part with, it's black and white houndstooth check I made using a Ann Klein Vogue pattern ages ago. It's slightly dated and I shortened it a while ago, not entirely successfully (you can see it worn here).
But I had so much use out of that jacket I decided I needed a new one in my wardrobe. This version is the Pauline Alice Saler Jacket pattern. This is my second version, as I tested this pattern for her in 2016. I think she is one of the few people that make outerwear with nice details and I always look forward to seeing what she comes up with. (other coats I've made from her patterns, neither one for me as it happens, the Quart Coat and Hemisferic Coat.
I was out for a glass of wine with a friend and figured I would take a few photos of this jacket but to my delight we happened to walk by this window display which seems perfect for a sewing obsessive like me.
The fabric for this jacket is something I ordered from Fabric Mart I think just after Christmas. On the website it looked more black/white to me and I was slightly disappointed when it arrived and it looks more like grey, the checks are smaller than I anticipated. But it is a really nice quality wool, perfect for this type of jacket.
I decided to make the collar as a contrast and used black velvet for the upper collar, and then black wool crepe for the under collar and the pocket welts. Both small remnants in my stash. I hoard all pieces of velvet and velveteen for uses just like this one because while I love to wear wool I have an aversion to anything itchy touching my neck. Problem solved!
Pressing velvet is a very specific technique and also I have a needle board, or velvet board which I've had for a long long time. Every time I mention it I get asked about it, the brand it Dritz so it's not some exotic item but I think very few fabric stores carry them. I just did a search and they are between $ 70-140 on various places so if you see one at a garage or estate sale buy it!
But using the needle board generally means no worries on pressing things like this velvet upper collar. I use it on other napped fabrics like corduroy and velveteen, even some wools.
I rarely button up jackets like this but it was very chilly! OK chilly for us here in N. Cal.
By the way - I will do a blog post next on the shirt I'm wearing - it's not quite that color in real live but almost. I just got the latest iPhone and am still figuring out the various photo settings. (and I miss the home button!)
Let's talk buttonholes. I wanted this jacket to have a traditional look so I opted for stitched buttonholes and used my ever trusty Singer and the best buttonhole attachment, and chose the keyhole buttonhole template.
That's my Singer (one of them) and the buttonhole attachment. It works on all the Singer Slant Needle machines.
Here is a sampling of buttonholes made using this attachment. It uses templates, the metal keyhole template is shown below. So you can't change the size of the buttonhole once you have chosen the template. I find the templates available cover all the sizes needed, and since I made this reference sample I've found more templates at sales (including a round one that is perfect for making the holes on a belt).
It's definitely the opposite of electronic - it makes quite a noise but I like it as you can go around as many times as you want, with the exact same pattern so you can make a good thick buttonhole which is ideal for a lot of fabrics. If you're super interested in all things buttonhole then I did a post about this ages ago, with a lot more photos and details plus video of the thing in action. Here's the link.
Back view, and it fits me a lot better than on this dress form.
A little inside peek because everyone seems to like seeing that :) I do a combo of hand stitching of seams and fusible interfacing.
Yeah I'm on a roll with the silk shirts lately and now have a few sizable scraps which I'm figuring out how to combine into one jewel toned extravaganza of silk top-ness. Stay tuned!
Note this jacket has shoulder princess seams which make it very easy to get the right fit at shoulders waist and hips. I use my measurements and veer between sizes and then adjust when I have it sewn together, with a bit of nipping in at the waist or hip as needed.
Purple satin lining because that's what I found in my box of linings. A slightly weightier lining but perfect to add a bit of heft to this jacket. I love a nice satin lining and while I don't usually go for any novelty lining a suitably jewel toned one is OK with me.
If you use the search box in the right hand column you can find all kinds of jacket and coat posts with lots of details. Also as I mentioned in my previous post you can look at the Highlight "Wool Jacket" on my Instagram profile page to see all the steps in the wool jacket I sewed recently for Heather.
Up next - I just finished another Burda magazine item, and an ultra suede version of skirt Vogue 1247 - that perennial favorite. Plus a Tamarack jacket as I taught that class over the weekend with lots of really fun jackets accomplished. Coming up a fitting class on Thursday 3/14, and then check the web page for Hello Stitch, classes are really filling up fast. There might be one or two spots open in the wrap dress class which is on Sat. March 23. Something new - I'm going to do a Culotte class as that seems such a great wardrobe item for spring/summer (or anytime). And Ash jeans again - in the beginning of June. Hope to see you there :)
In other news, should I mention that I saw the first tulip in my garden this morning? While we are still in the midst of a very rainy winter (which is great for our water needs!) I think spring is on it's way. At least here it is, I feel for you all in the polar vortex!
Happy Sewing, Beth
today's garden photo, these pink camellias are so messy but such a pretty shade of pink.