Monday, September 30, 2013

Please Vote!

Thanks so much for all of your generous feedback on my challenge #3 entry!

The FabricMart vote for this challenge is already up and, WOW, there are some impressive entries this week!

Please go on over, check them out, and vote!

We received our 4th challenge this afternoon. Though, of course, one of us will not be able to enter it into the next round. I am looking forward to this one. I hope I got all of my "dithers" out of my system earlier today so I can get started.

And, because I don't want you to leave here empty handed, enjoy this eye candy that Margy found!

#3 - Bundle Challenge - It's Moto-rific!

Welcome to Challenge #3 in the FabricMart Fabricista Fashion Challenge!


Rules for Challenge 3

Challenge #2 was so much fun! Challenge #3 presented a different sort of challenge. Here are the rules:

Using the 6 yard Bundle we have sent you, make a 2 piece garment. What is in the bundle is a mystery and everyone will receive something different. Try to incorporate the three fabrics in some way. You can use fabric from your stash to finish your look, but keep in mind that the bundle fabric must make up a majority of your outfit. You will be judged on creativity, craftsmanship, the way you use your fabrics together, and fit.


I received the following three fabrics (clicking the pic takes you to the link on the FabricMart site):

  • Gray plaid flannel, 2.5 yards.
  • Black poly/cotton ponte, 2 yards (though it was actually more).
  • Navy soft cotton print with tennis rackets, 1.5 yards.

In addition to these three fabrics, I added a few supplies:

  • Strips of bias silk organza for making the fringe.
  • Fusible tricot interfacing - used only in the back neck facing.
  • Cotton twill tape sewn to the outer edge and the pocket edge.
  • Two keyrings from the local hardware store - used as closures.

Bleaching the Fabric

I was pretty happy with the black ponte (I've sewn with loads of black ponte - it's right in my wheelhouse) and the gray plaid flannel, but the tennis rackets presented a challenge. While the navy tennis racket fabric was very smooth and soft, I didn't like how it looked alongside the homespun grey flannel. It just didn't work for me. I considered various options, including dyeing the tennis racket fabric to black, chopping it up - for example into bias strips, or using it (as is) as lining.

During my musings, I wondered how it might react to bleach. I rarely use bleach, but I had a container of liquid bleach in the laundry room that was very old, and half full. I first immersed a square of the tennis racket fabric in a 50/50 mix of bleach/water for 8 minutes. It lightened to a mauve color. The tennis rackets were still very evident, but the mauve color worked much better with the grey.

Bleaching the yardage.

The water turned a berry color.

I used the remaining of the bottle of bleach, mixed with an equal-ish amount of water, on the entire piece of fabric, for 8 minutes. After rinsing, I ran it through a cycle in the washing machine and dryer. I can't say that I love the fabric, but the color feels more harmonious with the grey.

The resulting fabric.

What to do...

We received the 3rd challenge on Monday morning. I spent Monday evening trying to decide what to do with my three fabrics. At first I was thinking of using the black ponte for pants and some sort of top with the grey plaid - I'd even started choosing patterns. After thinking on this for awhile, I decided that it was a fairly predictable way to use the fabrics and I didn't want to be so predictable.

So, it was back to the drawing board. I decided that I wanted to make a moto-style vest and to pair it with a black ponte sheath dress with 3/4 length sleeves. Once this decision was made, I had a lot of fun planning the details of the moto vest, which uses all three fabrics: the plaid is on the front, the pocket, and the back neck facing. The black ponte is the back and the front facings and as the armhole ribbing. The tennis racket fabric lines the shell and the pocket.

Garment #1: Vest

I started with my TnT moto jacket pattern which I first made in July, the Eggplant Pleather Moto Jacket. For this version I made quite a few changes:

  • Left off the sleeves.
  • Omitted the collar.
  • Shortened by 2".
  • Did more fitting, especially through the hips. I took in about 6" at the hips between the side seams and the CB seam.
  • Drafted a lined bias pocket.
  • Made bias fringe and attached it around the outside edge of the vest. I also used it around the outside edge of the pocket.
  • Hand sewed charcoal grey cotton twill tape around the outside edge of the vest and also around the outside edge of the pocket.
  • Eliminated all zippers and used two keyrings as the closure.
  • Cut back the armholes and finished with a ribbing made from the black ponte.
    Armhole ribbing. I love this technique as the ribbing pulls the armhole in close to the body.

The front of the jacket features princess seams. I wanted to match the plaid, but with a large bust alteration, you have the choice of matching the plaid either above the bust, or below, but not both. I chose to match below the bust, as I will usually wear this with the lapels open and that will mostly obscure the princess seams above the bust.

Bias Fringe

Three years ago I made a jacket using a Sandra Betzina pattern, Vogue 1036. As part of this project I made some bias fringe to insert into the seams. Bias fringe is different than regular fringe, as you start with bias strips of fabric and separate the threads to make the fringe. It is very time intensive.

Gwen, of the blog All My Seams (and who passed very recently) asked that I write a tutorial on how to create the fringe. You can see my page on Bias Fringe Technique. You can refer to the tutorial for the specifics, but here are some photos of this project.

For this vest, I made three strips of bias fringe. Two were about 24" long and the third was 36" long. The 24" strips took me about 2 hours each to fringe. The 36" strip took me about 3 hours. It was challenging to fringe the plaid flannel, especially once it had been washed. Flannel tends to "grab" itself and doesn't easily separate. This technique is easier with a boucle or a handwoven fabric.

Cutting the 1.5" bias strips.

The bias strips cut and pressed.

The fringe on the right is in process. It is wild and unkempt. The fringe on the left has been "groomed" and pinned to the front of the jacket.

I didn't want the fringe to be overly heavy, so I only lightly trimmed any errant threads, leaving the rest to look a bit uneven and more organic.

After the fringe was inserted into the outer seam of the vest and the pocket, I wanted to add a bit of definition, so I hand sewed charcoal grey cotton twill tape to the outer edge of the jacket and to the pocket. I hand sewed each edge of the narrow twill tape. This step was also quite time intensive, but I enjoy hand sewing.

Bias Pocket

I have showcased zippers quite a bit recently, so I wanted to avoid zippers on this moto vest. I mulled over my pocket choices and decided to add a bias patch pocket with rounded edges. I also featured the bias fringe and the cotton twill tape around the pocket.

Keyring Closures

Look Ma, It's Keyrings!!

Auditioning the key rings, along with the bias fringe. The fringe on top is in process.

A few weeks ago I was in the local hardware store buying electrical wire. At the cash register, they have a display of keyrings, including caribiners. In the display was a silver-colored keyring that intrigued me. On each end of the keyring there is a round metal circle that can hold keys. If you trigger a little mechanism, which you push like a plunger, the larger keyring separates into two smaller keyrings, each with one ring. I was very excited by this keyring, though the guy at the cash register clearly thought I was odd, as his response to my exclamations over the cool mechanism was a dry, "We do what we can." I thought this keyring would make an interesting closure, so I bought one. I went back this week and bought a second one, as I wanted two for the vest.

To attach the keyring to the vest, I made 4 loops out of the black ponte and put one loop through each ring. I top-stitched the loops to the vest.

This may be my favorite part of the entire project.

Garment #2: Dress

For the dress worn under the vest, I used another TnT pattern. I first made the Marcy Tilton Shingle Dress last May. This time I omitted the shingles and made the under layer. I used 3/4 sleeves, the same as before. I made a few changes:

  • Cut the neckline 2.5" lower in front.
  • Used a regular necking binding, a la Sarah Veblen.
  • I shortened the dress by 4".
  • Hemmed the sleeves and the bottom. (The original dress had raw edges.) For this I used my coverstitch machine.
  • Took in 8" (2" from each side seam) at the hips.
  • Took in 2" (1" from the underarm sea) at the bottom of the sleeve.
  • Omitted the shingles (as mentioned).

This dress sews up so quickly, especially if you leave off the shingles. It makes a great LBD!

I thought it might be interesting to show you the fitting I do which is typical for me. I first sewed up the dress as it came out of the envelope (after I'd done my vertical-only FBA, which I did the last time I made the dress. Here is how the dress looked after I'd sewn it up, but before I'd hemmed it or take it in:

Before hemming or taking in the dress. You can see that it is designed for a Pear Shape, which I am not.

After taking in the sleeve (2"), and the hips (8"), and taking up the hem (4").


I'm very pleased with this outfit! I am disappointed by how much the plaid fabric pilled with one trip through the washer/dryer, but I like the overall effect of the plaid moto vest. The dress will be a great basic and I might even cut off the neckline to make it a bit deeper and then replace with a new ribbing. The ponte washed and dried beautifully with no signs of pilling. But my favorite aspect is definitely the keyring closures!

More Pictures

Worn open

Fully closed

One lapel open

Both lapels open

I like how the fringe stands up at the back neck!

Flashing the lining


Sunday, September 29, 2013

Artistry in Fashion 2013

Photo courtesy of Marcy Tilton.

As you know, I attended Artistry in Fashion (AIF) for a couple hours yesterday. Yes, it was too short, but it was better than nothing!

Thanks to my friends, who stayed longer than I did, saw more than I did, and took photos, I wanted to make a little report for those who couldn't be there, but were curious to know more.

There were vendors. Many many vendors! My friend Sue had her excellent booth where she sold her beautiful handmade hats, eco dyed scarves, and felted soaps. I saw a number of hat boxes leaving her booth.

Photo courtesy of Sue Krimmer.

With my limited time, I didn't check out too many vendors, but my friend Dorothy K enticed me into a jewelry booth called AJ's Ear Drops. This artist makes the most beautiful, feather weight, earrings and bracelets. Dorothy bought some jewelry made from plastic bottles that looked like fine Japanese silver. I bought a pair of earrings made from a photograph. The earrings were cleverly attached to a cardboard coffee sleeve (which can be re-used!) and finished with a sticker showing the original photograph used to make the earrings. (You would never guess unless you saw the original picture.)

My earrings were made from a photograph of vegetables. How perfect!

Of course my favorite part of AIF is the people! It's great to see sewing friends again, and to meet new ones. This year, Marcy Tilton came with her friend Martine, fresh off a fabric shopping trip in Las Vegas. I also met Jane Foster, who runs what sounds like a first-rate sewing school in Walnut Creek, Jane Foster Design. Jane, a lovely transplant from England, came with a posse of her loyal students. Photos were taken.

With Jane Foster and Marcy Tilton. Photo courtesy of Marcy Tilton.

With Jane Foster. (And just look at that gorgeous hand painted silk top that Jane is wearing!) Photo courtesy of Marcy Tilton.

Ronda Chaney and Mary Lou Lange. Photo courtesy of Arna S.

Ronda Chaney, the head of the fashion department at Cañada College, is the force behind Artistry in Fashion. (I took tailoring from Ronda back in the 80s. I still use many techniques today that I learned from Ronda and, in fact, she helped me fit my wedding gown and she attended my wedding!) Mary Lou Lange, a longtime friend and instructor at Cañada. (When it comes to sewing machines and sergers, Mary Lou is my first point of contact. She also taught the Wearable Art class I took many years ago and was the first one to start me down that seductive path.)

With Dorothy K and Rita R. Photo courtesy of Dorothy K.

Sandra Ericson, of the Center for Pattern Design, was the guest speaker this year at AIF. Dorothy and Rita are both wearing dresses from Sandra's line. Dorothy is wearing the new Four Square Dress made from a green silk noile. Dorothy told me that when she muslined the dress that she realized that the sleeve was far too tight. There is a gusset under the arm, which she modified to fix the problem. She extended the underarm gusset down through the sleeve, so it had a shape similar to a man's tie (upside down). Before yesterday's lecture, Sandra Ericson admired Dorothy's alteration and commented that she might amend the pattern to suggest that approach. Way to go, Dorothy! (Dorothy said she will be posting a review about this pattern on Pattern Review in the next few days. She has received loads of compliments on her version.)

Rita is wearing the Pyramid Dress, which is also from Sandra's line and is based on Julian Roberts' system of subtraction cutting. Though the pattern calls for woven fabrics, Rita used a mesh knit and it worked very well.

Arna S. Photo courtesy of Dorothy K.

Arna, another highly creative sewist that I know, is wearing a fun, summery version of a Katherine Tilton top. It was perfect for the beautiful (81 degrees) day.

A couple more pics of the day:

Vendor D'arcy Fowkes from Altered Couture. Photo courtesy of Arna S.

After her lecture and fashion show, Sandra Ericson gave a draping demonstration in the large classroom in the fashion department (where they were also holding an Open House). Here she is draping a silk velvet. Photo courtesy of Dorothy K.

The conclusion of the Designer Showcase in the outdoor amphitheater. Photo courtesy of Dorothy K.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Next Challenge and Artistry in Fashion Mini Report!

Thanks SO much for your votes on challenge #2! I have made it to the third round in the FabricMart Fabricista Fashion Challenge.

The third challenge has been announced! For this one, each of us was sent a different bundle of three fabrics, totaling approximately 6 yards. We are to make a "two piece garment" using all three fabrics. Here are the instructions we received:

Using the 6 yard Bundle we have sent you, make a 2 piece garment. What is in the bundle is a mystery and everyone will receive something different. Try to incorporate the three fabrics in some way. You can use fabric from your stash to finish your look, but keep in mind that the bundle fabric must make up a majority of your outfit. You will be judged on creativity, craftsmanship, the way you use your fabrics together, and fit.

I received the following three fabrics (clicking the pic takes you to the link on the FabricMart site):

  • Gray plaid flannel, 2.5 yards.
  • Black poly/cotton ponte, 2 yards (though it was actually more).
  • Navy soft cotton print with tennis rackets, 1.5 yards.

I have been sewing like mad since Tuesday evening. (I was too tired Monday evening and needed some time to think about it.) I got far enough along today that I decided I would allow myself to attend Artistry in Fashion for a couple of hours.

I am so glad that I went. It was lots of fun! I saw many folks I know and met new folks. Pictures were taken, but not with my phone. Some of the pics are in Marcy Tilton's camera and she said she'd send some along, so stay tuned.

By the way, have you seen that Kathryn Brenne is now writing articles for Emma One Sock? She has two up so far, and these are full of great information. In fact, when I saw the pics of Kathryn in the ponte article, I noticed that she's wearing Trippens, and I thought, she's cool! She's also written some great material. Check it out!

I have one garment completed for the challenge and am about to start #2. Wish me luck. Off to sew!