Wednesday, January 14, 2015



Before Christmas I was shopping in Nordstrom's and in their Designer department I saw a leather and sweater jacket that I loved.  It was $500.  You can imagine that I had no intention of paying $500 for a ready made jacket.  I will pay $500 for designer fabric but not ready made!!  So I set about looking for leather and sweater knit.  
I found it on line at Mood and ordered samples.  Surprisingly the samples were perfect so I ordered what I needed.
When I got home from the holidays the fabric had arrived and I then proceeded with the following steps:
 1.  Find a pattern that came close to the desired effect.  Found in my stash of patterns.
 2.  Alter the pattern to get the design I want.
 3.  Make a muslin for fit and design.  (Well, I skipped this part after I was able to kick Susan - Susan Khalje, my couture instructor of, out of the sewing room and locked the door.  Actually I also kicked my cat out at the same time!)
 4.  Test the fit of the paper pattern on my dress form.  That went well.  Yea!
 5.  Arrange the pattern pieces single fold on the leather and sweater knit. (Susan crept in for a spell, but I quickly, after this step, kicked her out again.)
The rest is pretty routine.  Sew it together, fit, etc.  I did the sweater seams in a Hong Kong finish and left the leather seams unfinished.  And since I do not have a walking foot for the machine at the condo, I used a teflon foot for the leather.  I would have preferred to use a walking foot, which may be a good reason for getting one for the condo machine!
The design was a challenge, as I had neglected to take a picture in Nordstrom's, and was going on a rough sketch that I made.  Placement of the zipper took numerous tries, as I had wanted a shorter zipper, but could not find one in a shorter length, thanks to living in Springfield, Ohio and my impatience and not wanting to wait and order one.  The lapel had to be cut in half to be the correct drape.  But all in all it turned out nicely and I love it.
This is my second project of 2015.  The first was a quickly made, no couture at all, tunic. 
Next is a Chanel style jacket that I have quilted and put away until my next sewing time is available.  Headed back to work tomorrow.

I am happy with the final product, which comes really close to the Nordstrom's Designer Jacket.
The jacket can be worn three different ways.  This is one version.

This is the original pattern                                       A floppier version of the front.
with no alterations in design
The back which is sweater knit only.

 And the jacket with the front zipped shut.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014



With little and no time to sew, I did manage to whip out a couple Christmas gifts.


My experience with making men's shirts has been an ongoing process.  Not exactly successful as each new shirt came together, but maybe, just maybe, this one is correct at long last.
     My first attempt I put the buttonholes on the right side of the front, which made my husband absolutely refuse to wear it.
     My second attempt I got the buttonholes on the correct side, but had the buttonholes going horizontally, instead of vertical.  My husband wears it, but complains.
     My third attempt I got the front panel and buttonholes all correct, but got the buttonhole on the wrong side of one cuff so that it buttoned backwards.  I offered to take that apart and fix it, but my husband said he could deal with it; however, the way he deals with it is to have me button it, because he can't figure out how.
     Do you get the picture that I somehow have a problem with buttonholes?
     The third shirt is above.  It's not for my husband (I hope that is not the winning trick).  It is for a skiing friend of mine and was inspired, or I was motivated to make it only because I saw the fabric print of skiers everywhere.   Since he has spent a great deal of time attempting to make me a better skier (he is an instructor), I made it for him as a gift.  The buttonholes are on the right side, the right direction, and so are the cuffs.  Success at last!
     We won't tell my husband, but I also found a fabric with cars all over it at the same time I found the skiers.  Since my husband's business is used auto parts, cars, etc., I purchased that fabric for him, and have made a shirt for him for Christmas.  I think it is all correct, but won't know for sure until he inspects it Christmas morning.
     Now, I couldn't give my skiing friend a shirt without giving his wife something.  She had admired a sweatshirt jacket I had made for myself a long time ago, so I made a sweatshirt jacket for her.
     I cut off the cuffs and lower band and replaced them with a polyester silk print (not a fabric I like to work with, but when you live where I live, you use what you can find if you are doing something on the spur of the moment.) .  Then I sewed panels of the print in stips up both side fronts and both side backs, as well as along the sleeves. 
     Next I made horizontal sewn lines across the stips 6 inches apart, and cut the fleece along each side inside the now sewn rectangles.  DO NOT cut across the top of each rectangle.
     I gathered the loose piece of fleece in the center and wrapped thread around it to hold it gathered up, and sewed a medium size pearl in the center.
     I made a waistband of the silk print, as well as bound the sleeves with the print.
    I finished the gift by making an infinity scarf out of the leftover silk print.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Plaid Dilemna

Self-designed Skirt Pattern

      I bought this plaid fabric last spring, at Mood's, while on a whirlwind trip into the city for a day of fabric shopping only.  I have to say this is a real treat for me, as I live in Ohio, and getting quality fabric where I live is next to impossible.  So, while working in Connecticut, a train ride is just an hour away and I am in NYC.  Awesome!!

       I decided I wanted a long skirt for the holidays, and I wanted it to be on the bias.  This, of course, was a decision I made at a moment's thought, and needed to get it made in a day.  Normally not a problem to make a skirt.  

  However, once I made the pattern, and laid it out on the fabric, I realized that the fabric was not quite wide enough for the circular skirt on a bias.

But that's no problem.  Just piece the small corner where it needed more fabric.  Match the plaid while piecing and you are good to go.  Right?    It took about an hour to get the pieces just right, but I was quite pleased with the final result, once the two, front and back, pieces were cut out.

     But then another "however."  As I went to sew up the sides, voila!  I had completely forgotten to turn the underside piece of fabric around and had simply folded it over and cut both pattern pieces together.  (For someone who makes French jackets, and does a lot of couture sewing, I know very well that you need to cut all pattern pieces out on a single layer.  What was I thinking?

     So the fix, because I really, really wanted to wear this skirt to an informal dinner, with a heavy, turtleneck sweater, was to sew a piece of grosgrain ribbon down the side to separate the two pieces.


Am I happy with the result?  Heavens NO.  I need another trip to Mood to get enough fabric to make another back piece that matches.

And for the last "however,"  I love the skirt from the front and the back, and if my arms were long enough to totally hide the side seams, I would be good to go.

My husband says that no one would ever notice the sides, but I do, and I am quite sure any other true sewer/seamtress would, also.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Three Hour Dress

Free Pattern Wrap Dress

              I have on several occasions mentioned my friend Rhonda Buss and her wonderful blog, Rhonda's Creative Live,  She recently started a Free Pattern Friday blog, and it is amazing the free patterns she finds and posts the link in order for anyone to download them, print them out, tape the patterns pieces together and make.

             At first, I wasn't sure I wanted to go to the trouble to figure out how to tape the pieces of the pattern together to make full pattern pieces, but it turned out to be quite easy and here is the final project.

                                                           Free Pattern (better view)

A first attempt at a selfie!

I had been looking for a pattern that would show off this unusual print, which I loved, and I think this wrap dress does the trick.  The fabric is a light weight jersey knit that I purchased from Mood Fabrics online.
And the dress truly only took three hours to make.  Such fun.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Fall Couture Jacket

French Jacket with Orange Trim

  Having recently returned from a couture jacket class with Susan Khalje the first part of October, I think the finished jacket is well worth the class.

  This view shows the pockets with the fuzzy orange trim and button.  I didn't have quite enough trim, so I split it in half and put the button in the middle, so it actually looks like the trim goes clear across the pocket.

  I'm not very good at selfies, but this at least shows the entire jacket.  I purchased the fashion fabric, the trim, the lining and the buttons in Paris last November.  The fashion fabric is authentic Chanel, and of course, the lining is pure silk.  So wonderful with which to work.

I am so looking forward to making another jacket like this soon, even though it is a tremendous amount of work.  The fashion fabric is quilted to the lining before the pieces are sewn together.  Only the shoulder seems and side seams are sewn on the machine.  The rest is by hand.

The sleeve is a three-piece pattern, and it is sewn together by machine, but sewn into the jacket by hand.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Couture Dress

Couture Dress, Paris Fabric

It has taken a while, but at long last I am posting the picture of the couture dress that I made in a class in Maryland with Susan Khalje.  I love her classes and I learn so very much.

This dress is my own design, so I can't give a pattern reference.  One of my classmates dubbed it "The Parabolic Dress."  It has a piece on the front that is a parabolic shape and drapes/hangs a bit like a waterfall.

The skirt is made of a Dolce Gabbana chiffon that I purchased in Paris last November.  The bodice is a guipure lace that I purchased at B&J's in New York.  It is lined in charmeuse that I got at Mood in New York.

I love the dress and hope that I find someplace to wear in sometime soon.