Wednesday, October 07, 2015


It may seem a little weird to get very excited about straight pins, but we sewers know that there are pins, and then there are pins.  My favorite used to be Iris Pins, but the last batch I bought simply weren't as good as they used to be, and this seems to be the consensus.  So I've tried various brands and types.  Clover Quilting Pins aren't bad, but I knew I hadn't tried everything out there.

When I was in Portland last April with the Fiberly Group, we went to Josephine's Dry Goods, a lovely store.  She had Insect Pins in Size 2, which I like so far.  I wanted to try some more, and decided to see what other brands and types were available. 

I ended up purchasing Size 000 pins, to see just how much difference there was in sizes.  These are much finer than the Size 2, and bend more easily, although not as easily as you might guess, given how fine they are.  I like the little gold ball heads on the black pins, and have been happy to use these.

The photo above is of various sewing pins in my collection, and the 2 insect pins.  They are the black ones, and the smaller one on the right is the Size 000.  The pin on the far right is  your average every day pin.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Autumn Cocktail Dress

I'm excited about this dress. It's been awhile since sewing has been this much fun, and I'm enjoying it. I'm going to a Friends of Opera Gala fundraiser this Sunday, and I thought I wanted something new to wear.

I'm using a TNT pattern, Marfy 1128. It's a fairly basic sheath dress, but with the gathered neckline under the chiffon collar, it give you a lot of leeway to manipulate the neckline if you don't want the collar.
One thing I have learned with this pattern is to use a much longer zipper than I originally thought necessary. This makes it so much easier to get into. I bought a bag of invisible zippers last time I was in LA with Kathi Rank shopping the Fashion District, and so I happened to have a 34" invisible zipper in an acceptable color (dark green), which goes in the left side seam from the armscye to the hem. I probably would not have purchased this long a zipper on purpose for this, but it's great, actually. Apparently the longer, the better.

I found the fabric at Hancock, and it really spoke to me. It's a very thin, non-wonderful brocade, but I love the colors and the look. This actually shows the wrong side while it's being cut out.
I'm underlining with a thicker satin lining fabric. Originally I thought I would do something along the lines of a car-wash skirt, as they are so current, and finally wearable now that they're not being shown only with absolutely nothing underneath them. However, I like what I have come up with even better. I extended the underlining about 5" below the brocade and then turned it to the outside and asymmetrically attached it. Here's a photo of it on the dressform with the hem pinned. I am pinning a draped effect from the left waist to the right shoulder and I think the bow will be staying, but you never know.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

New York Trip Part V - Fabric (Mendel Goldberg)

Finally, the pièce de résistance.  I've been told for years that Mendel Goldberg was a magical place if you are in love with fabric, and Rosie took me to see it.  Well, you all were right!  We were lucky enough to be there when almost all of the new fabrics had come in, so we saw the stock at its most complete condition.  Wow, just wow!

Every designer you can think of was represented, especially every couture designer.  Of course there were things that I liked more than others, but the quality overall was exquisite.  Rosie took lots of photos, and I will share with you.

As you might have guessed, the first two photos are of the fabric that arrived on my doorstep.  I am so thrilled with them, and although there was choice enough to find fabrics for 20 different beautiful suit combinations, this one leapt to my eye.  The 'plain' fabric with the border texture is to be a skirt.  The border is pieces of fabric and yarns attached to the base fabric, and as the photo suggests, that border will be a few inches above the hem edge of a straight skirt.  Totally frivolous, yet somewhat restrained and severe.  Just my kind of thing.  The fabric to the left is for the jacket, and it's so much more beautiful in person I can't tell you.  The yarns it's woven with are gorgeous and of such a quality that you would think they were high-end hand knitting yarns.  There's a lot of gold in it and the selvedges are beautiful, and will be used as trim here and there.

Now, on to the other fabrics we saw and 'snapped'.

Do you wish you'd been with us yet?

New York Trip Part IV - Metro Textiles (Kashi)

I love it when boxes are delivered, especially when there is wonderful fabric inside.  As you might guess, more of the fabric I purchased in New York arrived here today.  I am going to show you what I bought at Metro Textiles.  It's a great shop that you should plan to visit if you get to New York's Garment District to shop.  This was my second visit in the last 3 years, so I feel very lucky.
 Normally I think of knits when I think of Kashi.  It's not that he has only knits, or that he even has mostly knits, it's just that he always has very nice knits at good prices, and he usually has lots of colors.  If you follow me at all, you know that I like "off" colors the best usually, and they're often difficult to find.  When there is a limited selection of knits, they generally stick to fairly standard colors, and that's fine, but I tend to look for the ones that look like they might have been mis-dyed or something, and I have had good luck finding those here. 

I got 4 knits.  Counter-clockwise from the top left, they are 1. a Grey-green and 2. a Grey-brown, which go beautifully together, 3. a Chocolate brown, and 4. a Burgundy laminated with pink and orange.  It's not quite as wild as it looks, but it is unusual.

I also got a pair of fabrics that I normally would not really consider.  I like this kind of thing, but it's a little more contrast than I usually go for, but it just called my name, and whispered ladylike suit-type outfit.  the first half of the duo is a Rust and Creamy White Brocade-type weave with a beautiful weight and  texture to it.  (I think if you click on the picture, you'll get a larger image that will allow you to see the texture better.)

  At this time, my plan is that it will be a jacket, and the Rust heavy stretch woven satin behind it will be a skirt.  Things could change, but I'm really kind of pleased with this idea so far.  I suppose I could always do a dress, and in fact, I have an idea that this would be really good for, so you never know.  I love the colors, though.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

2015 New York Trip Part III - Fabric (Elliott Berman)

Elliott Berman Textiles has long been a favorite on-line fabric source for me.  I knew that I had to go there in person when I next was in New York, so we went.  One interesting thing about having Rosie for my guide is that I found out that every fabric person in New York City knows and loves Rosie.  It's quite amazing to be with someone who is so well-liked and who obviously knows all of these people well on a personal level.  It was no different at Elliott Berman's, and I have to crow a little bit about the fact that Eugenia actually recognized me (or at least my name) when I met her.  She said I was just about their first on-line purchaser when they began a website operation.  I feel very special!  I have bought a LOT on-line from them over several years, including the cashmere for the coat I made in 2008/09, and the Evening Coat I made in a gold and coral houndstooth, and it has all been top quality.

If you have not been to their website, then GO!  Right now, and drool over the wonderful, top quality fabrics that are simply unobtainable elsewhere, at least for most of us.  They are also on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, so follow for special deals and just good info. 

I found that the wealth of fabrics on their website is only a very small fraction of what they have available in their warehouse area.  We got a lovely tour from Eugenia, and then she left us to browse on our own and take photos and even a swatch or two.  I didn't purchase anything that day, but I took some photos that I may turn into actual fabric.  Here's what I saved to drool over.

2015 New York Trip Part II - Fabric (Spandex & Notions)

I had the BEST guide for my fabric shopping that anyone could ask for.  Rosie Lynshue, who will be joining us on the Fiberly Trip this year (we're going to Portland!!) kindly offered to show me around.  It's been several years since I was in the Garment District, and then I had the fabulous Barbara Bell to show me where to go, but this time I was on my own with hazy memories of where things were, a list, and Google Maps. 

If you've never been, it's not as easy as you'd think.  Some of the places are on the street, but quite a few are above street level, even unto the 9th floor, and there's not a lot of signage telling you where to go and how to get there.  When you do arrive, they are so very gracious and kind, and of course they have the fabulous things we all want.  My only complaint is that I cannot just pop back in whenever I'm looking for just that particular thing that I want and cannot find anywhere near here, but they have it right there.  Oh well, that's my problem, not theirs. 

Rosie and I began with breakfast and moved quickly to Metro Textiles and Kashi (fabric still en route, so I will report later.)  He always has great fabrics at great prices, and this was no exception.  I was especially looking for knits from him.

I particularly wanted to get some swimsuit fabric and foldover elastic as well as looking at zippers and O-rings.  Spandex House , interior shown on the left, was the place for swimsuit fabric, and I got the 4 pieces that you see above.  A yard will make at least a couple of one-piece suits, and I got about 3 yards of the chain print since I think it will make a fun top as well as a swimsuit.  You can see it in the photos below, as well as the foldover elastic I chose, and the O-rings. Both of those items came from Daytona Trimming.

Lastly, a couple of so very sweet treats from Rosie to welcome me to New York.  Totally unexpected and as I was to come to understand, so very much her style.  Thanks Rosie, for everything! 

2015 New York Trip Part I - Opera, etc.

As you probably know, I was in New York City for the last week.  Ostensibly to see some operas, which I did, (top photo is the curtain call from La Donna del Lago at The Met) with Joyce DiDonato and Juan Diego Flórez.

 To the left is their glorious proscenium arch and the rows of balconies and boxes taken before Don Giovanni began.

I was lucky enough to see a  probably once-in-a-lifetime Carmen (yes, it was really that good) with Elīna Garanča (Carmen), Roberto Alagna (Don Jose) and Gábor Bretz (Escamillo).

Even the view from my hotel room window was pretty nice.  Definitely way above brick-wall status, and I have to say I had a wonderful trip all in all.

 While I was there I saw not only the 3 operas referenced above, but 2 musicals and a play on Broadway.  Kinky Boots, Chicago, and It's Only A Play.  They were all really good, and I'm glad I got the chance to see so many productions.  Originally I was to leave Sunday, but my flight was cancelled because of weather, and so I had Sunday to see It's Only A Play.

I did some shopping besides fabric shopping, although I didn't do much buying other than fabric, etc.  There will be a couple posts on fabric, and most of it is still en route to me since I had it shipped.  Saves weight in your luggage.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Gardening Warrior Basket (with Voodoo Rabbit!)

Gardening Warrior Basket

This is a gift basket for a man who is an enthusiastic gardener.   He also has a never ending battle over that garden with rabbits.  It's going to accompany a gift card, and I had a lot of ideas for something cute and kind of funny, so I was elected.  I thought it turned out so cute that I had share.  I hope you think it's cute too.

It includes:
Garden-themed Potholder
Carrot-shaped Candy Bags
Potting Soil
Rabbit-shaped Candy Peeps
Rabbit Voodoo Doll
Ammo, in case Voodoo doesn't work.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Sequin Dress Finished (with Photos!)

This is my New Year's Eve gown.  I was rather pleased with how it turned out, especially since I didn't cut it out until about 3pm on the 30th.  It was all done but the hem by about 9:30.

This is good old Vogue 1250 lengthened and with a baby train.  Very similar to a tan knit gown I made and have loved.  This is however, the first time I've worked with a sequined fabric.  Nancy and Sharon found this for me in Santa Fe and insisted that it was 'me'.  It was also a fantastic bargain, and I was an easy sell. 

I think I was very lucky in the construction of the fabric itself, as it's a 2-way stretch knit (widthwise, which is the usual), and I didn't have a lot of trouble with sequins coming loose when I cut the fabric.  A lot of the information I read talked about taping the cut edges, etc., and I was really hoping I wouldn't have to do that.  I did end up doing almost all of the sewing by hand, with a backstitch.  The end result was much more attractive that way.  The way the sequins were applied, they 'lined up', and I could sew between them, and then  pull them out onto the face of the fabric from the allowances where I needed to.  The holes in the sequins were very near one edge, and so if you happened to stitch through one, or close it into the allowance when it really needed to be on the right side, you'd have a fairly large gap.  You can see that the face is not perfectly even, and so a little variation isn't noticeable, but I didn't want 'bald' seams.

One 'exciting' revelation (to me anyway) was how very uncomfortable sitting in such a gown can be.  I think this is a fabric which is made for standing and just looking decorative.  It's also kind of 'noisy' when you walk.  It's not so heavy when you're wearing it, but there's noticeable weight when you handle it, or put it on or take it off.  I would caution others with a similar plan to watch out.  I kept shoving sequins under a fingernail when I was trying it on, and I actually bled.  Very painful, too.

You can't see much of the train, but there isn't much of a train, really.  That's why it's a baby train.  The top photo especially has the skirt in a strange position at the hem.  It really does hang nicely though, and I think you can see it better in the back view.  It reads mostly as a column, which is my kind of thing anyway.  The 'train' is just a little extra fun, swishiness.

I wore this for a New Year's Eve party, and will wear it again Saturday for another.  I'm sure it will be a handy thing to be able to pull out of my wardrobe.  The color, a very dark navy which sometimes seems to aim toward purple and sometimes toward gunmetal, will be appropriate for any number of occasions, I think.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014


Going to Jane's to get the hem pinned up on my New Year's Eve dress.  Finished it last night.  Pictures will follow.  This is the dark navy sequin fabric from Santa Fe, and Vogue 1250 floor length.  Very swishy!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Graphic Dot Swimsuit

I was running out of PowerNet which I use to do a front lining/shelf bra in my swimsuits and got some at the ASG Convention Vendor Hall from Anne St Clair of Needle Nook Fabric.   I've been collecting fold over elastic for a while and I have some fun prints and colors.  I decided this crimson with black dot elastic would go beautifully with the graphic black and white print.  The fabric is some I got in the LA  Fashion District with Kathi Rank. 
I thought it needed a little something extra so I added a bow, and I have to say I think it's darling.   Who doesn't love a bow?!

ASG Marfy Magic Classes

I've already told you that I attended and taught at the ASG Convention in St Louis, but I never really got to say a lot about it.  My last class was Sunday morning until noon, then we packed all my Marfy garments and everything else in the car and drove straight home to Lincoln, Nebraska.  I was home for a whole 9 hours before I left to get on a plane for a week in Sacramento, California attending the Mu Phi Epsilon Triennial Convention.  That's my music fraternity and we had a wonderful time, but nothing sewing related, except I did get to wear things that I used for display in St Louis, so packing was a lot easier at least.   
Here's the back seat of my car with some of the Marfy garments I took for the Trunk Show/Class.
Naturally I was nervous about how my classes would go, but they seemed to go very well, and I think the attendees enjoyed them too.  This is the Marfy Magic class, which was offered twice.  I have a few photos of the beginning and end of the first class.  

It's fun to work with a crowd that's so interested in Marfy.  As you probably already know, I have no connection with Marfy other than just being completely sold on their patterns.  I find I get my best results using a Marfy pattern, and so that's almost all I've used for quite some time, although I'm not giving up my TNT patterns, of course.  Some of them are Marfy too, though.

I was able to answer lots of questions and allay a lot of fears about using Marfy patterns.  They are really so well made that there is little difficulty in making up your garments even without instructions.  I think that the lack of instructions forces you to make choices based on your fabric, preferences and vision of the finished garment, and it forces you to think about it much sooner than you might if you just dove into a garment following the instructions until you suddenly realized you wished you had done something a little differently.  And then it's either too late entirely, or you have to backtrack a lot.

I really enjoy doing this class and it can be expanded into a longer workshop or hands-on event, so if your guild or group wants a program, I am probably available.  I've had many positive comments from those who've taken it.

Next I'll tell about my other class:

  • Clever With Your Needle