Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Back into the sewing groove soon

I've been bad at posting lately because, honestly, I haven't been sewing! January has been strangely busy for me, and I hope things settle down soon. The origami hem coat is still a work in progress. I figured I should get my January BWOF Project of the Month out of the way first, so I cut fabric to make one of the blouses; hopefully I'll have pictures this weekend.

Adriana asked me to post some information on how the origami trim is made. I'll do that as soon as I get to it. Adriana - if you email me (my address is in the sidebar), I will try to explain it in more detail to you since you are probably anxious to get going on that!

Speaking of origami trim, I popped into Zara this past weekend while I was in Vancouver and I noticed this blouse with interesting pleating on the button placket. This is one to save this in your inspiration folder...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Dusk as closing time nears

During this trip to the Bay area, I managed to make it to Britex! I had been there one time many years ago, but I saw it with new eyes now that I have more sewing experience under my belt. I think Nancy described the 4 floors of Britex perfectly, so I refer you to her blog for the details.

Examining a remnant

Can you believe I didn't buy a single thing? I figured I'd get a nice cotton for a spring blouse, but I was feeling miserly that day and left empty-handed.

I inquired about that oh-so-elusive fabric, silk jersey. They are located on the 1st floor, and the saleswoman pointed to some way high up shelves to show me their selection. They have some solid colors and a few prints, I squinted and saw a few potentially interesting designs. She said the prices start at $60 - $70/yard and go up from there. I didn't ask her to pull anything down for me.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Off the radar for a few days

I'm heading to the SF Bay area tonight, returning Tuesday evening, so I won't be posting again until later next week.

I decided not to bring the coat trim to work on during my trip. Just feeling lazy. I'm feeling like I'd rather be lost in books and magazines.

In the meantime, I leave you with a photo of our dear Tilly. This past weekend when I was sitting at my sewing machine, Tilly wanted to sit in my lap. She put her front paws up on the chair, looking for a good place to jump, and I kept having to block her as I knew it would be difficult for me to work (and I'm sure you know how hard it is to say "no" to a kitty who wants some lap-time). As soon as I stood up to do some ironing, she took my chair!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Someone forgot to order the props for the Vogue photoshoot... they had to make do with the table from the staff breakroom.

Okay, that's fine, it's subtle.

Vogue 1037

Work another angle, I like that.

Vogue 1041

Sure, I'm game, let's try one with a little cube.

Vogue 1038


Monday, January 14, 2008

Tracing paper

Gaile asked what kind of paper I use to trace patterns. I use tracing paper that comes on a roll from an art supply store. Specifically I use this 24" x 50 yard white tracing paper. There's an Utrecht shop nearby so I buy it in person. I trace with a pencil because I always make some kind of mistake that needs erasing, but the cool thing about this paper is that you can write on it with markers, including Sharpies, and it won't bleed through.

The paper comes in different widths: 12", 18", 24", and 36". I feel like the 36" might be a little too unwieldy, for me at least. I like the 24" width; only a few times have I traced something that required me to tape sheets together to be big enough.

The first roll I purchased lasted me nearly a year; I just purchased my second roll a couple of months ago. Sometimes I try to be really conservative, saving all the little scraps I end up with, and other times I just throw them out.


My Burda Easy Fashion coat is coming along together quite nicely. I just need to insert the lining and make the origami trims which will be hand sewn onto the sleeve and coat hems. I have a feeling this will take a while - making the origami trim itself requires a lot of hand sewing. I am going out of town for the weekend; if I get my act together, I'll get it prepped to the point where I can bring the trim (but not the coat) on the plane and tackle the hand sewing in transit.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Notes on the coat

Pre-treating the fabric

Thank you Carolyn for reminding me that in my last post I talked about how I pre-treated my fashion fabric, but I forgot to mention that I also pre-treated the other fabrics to be used in the coat. This is a very important step! I ran both the cotton flannel underlining and the Ambience rayon lining through the washer and dryer. So, there should be no shrink mishaps down the line...

Figuring out the construction

Lynda asked for pointers in constructing the coat given that there are no English instructions. I know some German but it is more conversational and I didn't even bother trying to translate. Instead, I used these pieces of information to figure out how to put the pieces together:

1. The illustrated pictures that are provided in the magazine - Unfortunately the pattern piece numbers are not shown on the pictures, but I was able to determine what pieces were shown by comparing their shapes to the pieces that I had; each pattern piece is fairly distinct looking. The illustrations are an excellent guide.

2. The numbers on the pattern pieces - Many of the corners of the pattern pieces are numbered - i.e. 1, 2, 3 - each number will appear on at least two pattern pieces, and these indicate corners that must match when you are sewing seams.

Edited 10/11/08: Rose pointed out that these numbers also indicate the sequence in which the pieces are sewn together. Aha! Good to know.

3. The names of the pattern pieces - This might sound obvious, but I know that the "side front" and the "center front" will be sewn together, so the names of each pattern piece will point you to the correct "geographical location" of each piece of fabric. Just make sure the numbers I mentioned in #2 match so you know you have them oriented correctly.

I keep the pattern pieces pinned to the fabric pieces until I actually sew them.

With this particular pattern, I found the pictures - both the line drawing and the illustrations in the instructions - to be very helpful.

And, when in doubt, whip up a muslin! Yes, it sounds like a total drag, but Toya and I talked about this recently - muslins really don't take that long, and they allow you to check the fit and become familiar with the construction process, totally worth it in my opinion.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

My weekend, part 2: The splurge

I was anxious to get started on the Burda origami hem coat, and the thought of ordering fabric online and waiting a week (or probably more) for it to arrive seemed unbearable. So I decided to treat myself at my local fabric shop. Nancy's Sewing Basket is a favorite among Seattle seamstresses, it's here that you'll find supple Italian wools, silky soft Swiss cottons, and everything in between.

My goal was to find a type of fabric and a color that would make the coat wearable in the spring. I spotted a Nicole Miller matelasse - an ivory cotton with gold metallic threads running through it - and it was love at first sight. Before making my final decision, though, I folded some of the fabric to see what the origami would look like; I wanted to make sure the fabric would hold the folds crisply and that multiple layers would not be difficult to manage. It passed the test!

I failed to take pictures of the fabric this weekend when the light was good. Still, I want to share some of my progress, so please excuse the dark photos...

I included a swatch of the matelasse with a load of laundry I was running. I ironed it dry and it held up just fine, so I hand-washed the entire yardage before cutting. I let it line dry, but I hurried it along a bit by ironing it using low heat.

I decided to underline the fashion fabric with cotton flannel to provide a bit of structure, and minimal warmth too, as the matelasse itself is not very substantial. How convenient that the current issue of Threads (#135, Feb/Mar 2008) has an article by Kenneth King on underlining! As described in the article, I first cut out the underlining pieces (in the cotton flannel), and I used those as my pattern pieces for cutting out the fashion fabric in a single layer. The underlining is basted to the fashion fabric before cutting.

So far I've got the bodice and sleeves of the coat complete. Each seam provides shaping, and the fit is fantastic.


A few notes on the Burda Easy Fashion magazine...

As you may know, Burda Easy Fashion is only available in German (it used to be available in English but perhaps it wasn't profitable?). Those of us in the US can order it from GLP News, just like our BWOF subscriptions.

Each grouping of coats, blouses, pants, etc, is essentially one pattern with several variations. For example, this is the pattern sheet for the jackets & coats; they've all got the same bodice but it is easy to mix and match elements like collars, pockets, etc.

The patterns are printed on a tissue sheet, and the pattern pieces are not overlapping like the regular Burda magazine. Still, I traced the pattern so I can preserve the original sizes. The markings on the pattern sheet are shown in 3 languages: German, English, and Russian.

The instructions are entirely in German. If you use BWOF, the format will be familiar to you. Well, except for the pictures! Yes, there are some pictures included to illustrate the construction process. Here, most of the pictures are included with the instructions for the first jacket, 1A, then additional pictures are provided with the instructions for 1B, 1C, 1D, etc, that show details specific to those garments.

My weekend, part 1: The purge

On Sunday I conducted a major wardrobe purge. Every garment of mine was hastily inspected and tossed into one of three piles: Keep, Sell, or Donate.

Hasta la vista...

The "sell' items are those that are still in good condition, fashionable, and/or have a nice label (including my favorite line, "Christina Sonja") for which I can hopefully get some cash at a local consignment shop. "Donate" items will end up in a Seattle thrift store.

Fabric money?

The garments that made the cut were re-admitted to my closet, and I also installed a new over-the-door shoe organizer that I got for Christmas. What a treat it is to not have to get on my hands and knees, groping in the dark corners of my closet floor to find my shoes!

I love how I feel when I purge my closet. I keep peeking in there just so I can see how neat and organized everything is. (I know from experience it won't stay that way for long.)

Thursday, January 3, 2008


Have you noticed the origami details popping up here and there?

Hoss Intropia

United Bamboo

Y & Kei

Galliano for Dior

Of course Burda is on it!

Burda World of Fashion, November 2007, model 101

Burda Easy Fashion, Fall/Winter 2007, model 1F

I'm tracing the Burda Easy Fashion coat, I like the waist detail a little better than the BWOF coat. The origami trim at the hem is formed exactly the same in both magazines though. Burda Easy Fashion also shows this trim on a blouse, dress, and skirt; it's a great addition.

I don't have any fabric for this coat yet. I was thinking of using a wool, both to use up my stash and to enter it in the Pattern Review wool garment contest. But, I'd love a fabric that's a little more dressy, maybe with a shine to it. I think I'll be taking a trip to my local fabric shop this weekend.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Tracking yardage

Carolyn asked for some details on how I plan to track my yardage. I will use this blank book that a friend gave me last year, it's got old catalog pictures of vintage fashions on the cover. I plan to use the first several pages to track yardage, and the rest of the book is where I'll keep project notes (versus my current system of using the backs of envelopes, paper from the recycling bin, post-it notes, etc that I can never find when I need them).

For yardage sewn, I'll make a line listing of:
  • fabric type, color & width
  • cost/yd
  • yards used
  • pattern company & style number of the garment
I'll do the first two bullets also for yardage purchased. I won't, though, take an inventory of the fabric I already have. That's going to be grandfathered in...

I'm sure as I go along, I'll learn what I really do or don't want to track. It would probably be better to track it electronically but I want to use my cute little book.

Now I hadn't even considered posting a running total in a sidebar on my blog, but I have seen people do this before and it is kind of interesting. Okay, I'll go for it!