Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Blog sick leave and Happy Holidays!

Dear readers, my family is down with a flu and I am having a second one in a row, so please forgive me for light posting over these couple of weeks. While I will be uploading a couple of posts I have planned, I will resume regular schedule after the holidays.

Thank you for being part of my life this year 
Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thursday inspiration: Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum

Words are redundant  for this post, dear readers. This is Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum:

The best thing is you can download the entire museum and explore the exhibit with a cup of tea or coffee and chocolate pralines until you are completely exhausted  of this beauty and craftsmanship!


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Strapless guipure dress: hidden details / Part 1

I promised you, dear readers, the innards of my guipure dress! Below, I am posting an image of a work-in-progress shell. This is pretty much how this dress left the workroom after the Couture Sewing School in Baltimore.What's missing and will be featured in another post is an inner foundation (corselet) and lining. Here, I wanted you to see details hidden in a finished dress.

If you click on the image you will see it somewhat larger - I had to keep the file reasonably small for the web.
I know some of you wanted to know more about the engineering of such a dress. I planned an in-detail post first, but then I thought I may as well let you speak - I truly enjoy the interaction with you and believe that sometimes it is more fun to change the how-to post format and make it more like a conversation.

So, this time it is your call - ask me any questions about the shell, lace, underlining - whatever you want to be explained on this image. I will then compile a Q&A in a new post. How does it sound?

 And, of course, follow-up posts on the corselet and the final assembly are in making!

Monday, December 12, 2011

(U).F.O. Party: Week 4... & last week's links!

Friends, here is this week's button to link up to your (U).F.O. posts! For newcomers, explanations are here.

Now, let's have a look at last week's accomplishments and we will start with a new star trooper on our starship, Lavender of threadsquare! She made her first pair of jeans - read more about it on her blog. By the way, while you are doing it, add her blog to your blogroll - Lavender is a(nother) Downton Abbey fan and is currently planning to test some early 20th century patterns. I am so looking forward for her updates on it!

Now, let's proceed to our starship commanding officer Devra of Puu's Door of Time. Yay, readers, I am not the only procrastinating sewer here! Look at her flying saucers! Not sure she has finished those two, but right now she is agonizing about Colette's Meringue skirt and Pastille dress, ha!

And yes, she is also a Downton Abbey fan! Now, I got to check Downton Abbey - if it is really so good there is a hope for my UFO pile! I just found out, actually, that as an Amazon Prime member I can watch Season 1 for free. I just need to finish watching first Law & Order episodes, and then...

Ok, fast forward to Rachel of House of Pinheiro, of course! Guess what, she has UFOs as well. I thought she finsihes everything she starts, but no, readers, this one is a good old UFO as we like them. Her initial post about this Chanel-style jacket dates back to September.

Sorry, Rachel, now you got to prove you can finish this one. Her deadline is this week, so let's see whether she can make it!

what about myself, readers? hmmm, I spent most of the week volunteering at my daughter's school, building gingerbread houses, and preparing the house for the upcoming holidays, cleaning, baking, de-cluttering... I don't know how about you, but I cannot sew in a cluttered environment - it just makes me nervous and inefficient.

enough of it, anyway! Good luck and productive sewing week, everyone! I am now off for a good night sleep! Tomorrow, tune in for the innards of my guipure lace dress - I got a game for you!

Winners of the "How much Fabric?" reference cards!

Dear readers, my children's school obligations and holiday preparations kept me from blogging and sewing last week. But here what I have for you today! Two lucky winners are getting the great 'How much fabric?' cards, offered by Gwen to the readers of Frabjous Couture. Congratulations, Isis and Joen! To claim your prize, please send an e-mail to Gwen at gwynhug(at)gmail(dot)com!

It was interesting to see that most of the commenters (and myself) tend to overbuy fabric to be on the safe side. I personally tend to round up to a full yard. Isis was one of the few who asks staff members or checks information in pattern books.

Isis: "I discuss it with someone who work in the store. They usually know pretty well how much fabric that is needed. Or flip through one of the patterns books and look for a similar model. I would love to have set 2."

Joen: "I generally buy 3 yards for a jacket (used to buy 2 but found I never had enough!!) 2 yards for pants or a dress. More yardage is added if the fabric is a narrower width the above usually works but I have been disappointed many time so the guide would be great to win!!! I would need Set 1 if I was the lucky winner."

In any case, I think these cards can help save some money (for extra fabric) or time!  A wise investment in the long run!

Thank you everyone for participating and if you want to treat yourself to these cards just in time for the holiday season, visit Gwen's website here

Finally, the random name picker to document all the entries:

Have a great week!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Stock Photo

Stock Photo
Stock Photo
Stock Photo

Fashion School in New York

Fashion School in New York
Fashion School in New York
Fashion School in New York

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Lace matching at Louis Vuitton: Yay or Nay?

What do you feel when someone tells you: "You did a great job! It looks like a store-bought or ready-to-wear garment." I mean, is it really a compliment?

What we often see in many stores is whipped up by designers in a minimum amount of time. The final product is a combination of the season's trends and frugal production. Not that ready-to-wear construction techniques are bad. What makes difference is the balance between the quality and the cost.

Why am I bringing this up? I loved this spring show by Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton! The colors, the use of lace, colors, layers of sheer fabrics in different textures. I even picked a dress as an inspiration for a guipure dress I started making in Baltimore with Susan Khalje's Couture Camp. Vuitton Dress is beautiful... I thought!

But have a closer look:

Yes - lace matching. You don't have to be a couture aficionado or a sewing nerd to notice it, really! Flowers are off in all directions, there is neither vertical nor horizontal alignment.  It looks like a mess to me, readers. What do you think? I just thought that for a dress that will probably sell for couple of thousand dollars, it should not be a big deal to match the pattern at least along the center seam. If you look on other garments in this collection you will see similar problems. Ok, forget small patterns, but this one is very prominent, won't you agree? This is a luxury brand after all.

But I don't want to be completely negative. I thought there were a few very smart construction details in this garment! Lingerie straps, for example. They are relatively inconspicuous, but at the same time reinforce a lingerie look and feel,  sheer layers, and(!) save the cost of creating inner foundation (corselet and boning).

Finally, another smart detail: a horizontal fold (=dart) on center front helps create shaping on the organza (?) dress without breast or any other darts, which would disturb the repetitive pattern created by the horizontal folds on the skirt part of the dress!

My verdict: this dress is cleverly designed by a very good designer, but the execution is poor. Would I buy it, if I had money? No.

What about you, readers? What do you think about the dress? 

Does your sewing experience make you more critical with regard to RTW construction? And when it comes to the execution of a garment, do you find a lot of inspiring or innovative ideas in RTW?

Monday, December 5, 2011

(U).F.O. Party / Week 3... and last week's links!

More (U).F.O. goodness, readers! Before we have a look at the last week's projects let's link to new ones here:

Now, let's have a look at completed projects! And I am starting with F.O. Champion, Rachel from House of Pinheiro!

She wipped up a Cynthia Rowley Tulip Skirt 2512 in an hour and bragged about it here! Congratulations, Rachel, and thanks for contributing your project! Our (U).F.O. party does need your energy!

Next, the Puu's Door of Time and an insight into her obsession with this pattern, and why it has created a pile of U.F.O. s! (check out the side seam waist gathers, readers!)

Renaissance Bombshell is linking to her U.F.O. challenge: inserting a zipper on a doubleknit dress.

Head over to her blog to help with some tips! She started unpicking the dress, but the further fate of it is unknown!

Finally, my own failure to finish my Clover pants this week, readers! But I have a good excuse and some WIP revelation for you, readers, and more about it tomorrow! It's about holiday sewing, of course!

Now, if you do want to join the (U).F.O. party, post your link above.

Grab the code below to display the badge on your blog:

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Google to kill Google Friend Connect for non-Blogger blogs; Feedburner issues

Attention, all non-Blogger bloggers! Google is killing Friends Connect for all non-blogger sites.


That means, I understand, that you won't be able to use the widget that displays your following, unless you have a blog on Blogger! Here is the quote by Urs Hölzle, Google Senior Vice-President, Operations from the Google official blog:
Google Friend Connect—Friend Connect allows webmasters to add social features to their sites by embedding a few snippets of code. We're retiring the service for all non-Blogger sites on March 1, 2012. We encourage affected sites to create a Google+ page and place a Google+ badge on their site so they can bring their community of followers to Google+ and use new features like Circles and Hangouts to keep in touch.
I don't think it's fair, readers! It seems, Google is trying to stop exodus to Wordpress and other platforms... Independent Fashion Bloggers Community writes more about it. By the way, join this site - you will always be up-to-date on important developments.

Meanwhile, Google seems to be clumsily tinkering on other products as well. If you are using Feedburner by Google, you will notice that your Feedburner widget shows 0 subscribers today! No panic, all your subscribers still receive their feeds, but you should go your Feedburner page and switch to a new Beta version, you subscribers number will re-appear. As for the widget, I haven't heard of any solutions on this one. Let us wait... (Actually, Google has become extremely user-unfriendly! They just cannot handle issues in a transparent and timely manner!)

Back to Google Friend Connect, Blogger sites won't be affected!  However, if you have a non-blogger blog you still have three months to promote other options and let your GFC followers  know about them! Good luck!

Sorry for a non-sewing post - but it affects all of us! What do you think about this move by Google, readers?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Gadgetmania by Maris Olsen: KAI Scissors

Readers, I am so delighted to introduce to you another lovely Gadgetmania Blogger, Maris Olsen of Sew Maris.
Sew Maris works and teaches in her home studio in Bellevue,Washington. No wonder she is passionate about fabrics, notions, patterns, sewing books and tools. She attends sewing workshops and conferences and takes classes whenever she has a chance. By the way, tomorrow, her first(!) granddaughter is due, and Maris is now on her way to New York to spend some time with her family - so, let’s wish them all the best! And, thank you, Maris, for finding time to write this great post! 

(By the way, sorry for the absence of images, as KAI Scissors is very strict about linking to their website, even if it constitutes fair use, such as this review. Just follow the links below to learn more.)

Hi! My name is Maris Olsen, and I am a full-time sewing nerd and part-time instructor in Bellevue, WA. When Marina asked for guest bloggers to write a post about their favorite tools, it was a no-brainer for me. I LOVE KAI scissors!

OK. First order of business – a little description. Kai scissors are made of Japanese steel and vanadium. Van-ah-di-what? I will spare you all the scientific mumbo-jumbo – what you care about is vanadium makes the steel harder. Which means it retains a sharp edge longer. That is goodness for people like me who want to cut fabric into all hours of the night and hate, hate, hate dull blades slowing them down. They also have awesome-ly ergonomic handles. Also, more goodness for prolific sewers, and people who might be developing a little arthritis in their hands. Not because they are old or anything, but just because. ;-)

Kai has several different lines of scissors and tools to suit a variety of uses and budgets. Kai makes 17 different scissor styles in their Standard line – all of which are part of the 5100 series. I own one of these babies – the Kai 5135C 5 1/2 inch Curved Blade Scissors. I use them every day. I love how the curved blade makes grading seam allowances a little easier. I also use them to trim threads when I can’t lay my hands on one of my 4 pairs of the little yellow handled 4 inch craft scissors. Which also, BTW, do an AMAZINGLY fast job of snipping thru a seam I need to unpick.

I also own two pairs from their Professional line – the Kai 7250 10 inch Professional Shears and the Kai 7240-AS 10 inch Serrated Edge Shears.
These are both part of the 7100 series, and are they ever sweet. They cut like budd-ah. The action on both these shears is just a dream, and every time I use them I am happy. I wish, wish, wish I had owned the serrated ones when I was cutting out yards of silk charmeuse for my daughter’s wedding dress.

If you would like to do yourself a favor and own a fantastic cutting tool, high-tail it on over to Kai Scissors and place an online order. You are not likely to regret anything you buy from this fine brand. Hmmm, maybe I should try out one of their universal rotary cutters – works both right or left-handed – sounds like another tool I need!

Maris Olsen

I hope you enjoyed the post as much as I did! I heard great reviews of KAI Scissors and will try them  once I will need a replacement for mine.

By the way, if you also want to contribute a guest post, write me an email at mvk(dot)fashion(at)gmail(dot)com. For more details, visit the original Gadgetmania post (http://frabjous-fashion.blogspot.com/2011/11/gadgetmania-revival-guest-bloggers.html).

What scissors do you own, readers? Share your experience and links!

Master of Couture Embroidery Dies at 82

François Lesage,  a world master of couture embroidery, died this Thursday in Versailles, France, at age of 82. I won't bore you with an obituary since you can check this great article in New York Times yesterday. One thing I wanted to mention though is that I hope that the knowledge and wealth of experience possessed by world-class artisans, Such as Lesage himself will become more available and more appreciated with the time. I think Lesage made a great move in this direction by setting up this unique couture embroidery school, offering a variety of classes, both, long and short term.

I wanted to learn embroidery with tambour hook for a while. There are quite a few resources available on the net, but I have never thought I would be able to learn the techniques from the legendary embroidery house. But see what I discovered! Apparently, if you have a chance to visit Paris, call Lesage atelier and get a copy of this wonderful book that brings Lesage school to your home by teaching  some of the greatest techniques of the house. Thank you, François Lesage! Thank you, Chanel!

As someone who is very inspired by his work, I would like to pay tribute to him by posting links to these two videos featuring the work of his atelier for Chanel.

And this Le Monde web documentary, which features Lesage and other artisans behind Chanel. It's in French, but I think you will enjoy it without words.

What about you, readers? Have you ever tried some of the couture crafts and techniques beyond sewing? Working with feathers? Making your own accessories, hats, buttons, belts... If yes, share!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Book Alert: The Crafter's Guide to Taking Great Photos

There is a potentially great book coming soon: The Crafter's Guide to Taking Great Photos.

Here is what the publisher says about the book:

The Crafter's Guide to Taking Great Photos is your must-have guide to learning to shoot better photos, with tips and advice written specifically with artists and crafters in mind. Amidst the sea of handmade jewelry, apparel, housewares, art, and other crafts that populate blogs, websites, and online marketplaces, you need to make your items stand out. The key is great photography. Beautiful hand-crafted garments, jewelry, artwork, textiles, and home accessories can all be undermined by poor or uninspired photos that fail to represent the detail, color, and artistry of your creations.

With The Crafter's Guide to Taking Great Photos you'll learn that you don't need expensive equipment and a professional photo studio to get quality results. Heidi Adnum teaches you how to achieve high quality results with instruction on how to make your own lightbox, use natural lighting, and properly capture the detail. Broken down into specific craft areas, you'll find tips on how to best generate eye-catching images that will help showcase and sell your items.

Look at the Table of Contents below - I got most interested in  DIY Accessories (Making a light tent or mini studio) Photo fundamentals for Fashion and Fabrics, and Post-production (editing fundamentals). This book is so needed, I would say! My images are really not up to standards!

Getting started
    Camera basics
    How to tell your story
    DIY accessories
Photo fundamentals
Equipment advice, Camera settings, Composition & styling, Common problems & FAQs, Practitioner spotlight
    Fashion & fabrics
    Bags, purses & accessories
    Knitting & needlecraft
    Dolls & toys
    Ceramics & pottery
    Books, magazines & stationery
    Home accessories
Finishing up & getting it out there
    Image storage & backup
    Business advice

Check out the preview here. I hope the rest of the book is as great as this sneak peek, and so, I have already pre-ordered my copy on Amazon (it's $10 less than the price directly from the publisher).

Are you happy with images of your creations? What is the most challenging part about your images? Do you have any great resources to recommend?

Thursday Inspiration: Hermes Scarves

This craftsmanship doesn't need introduction: the making of a rolled hem on a Hermes Scarf. A unique video by Hermes shows the technique in detail!

Enjoy and share comments!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Trouser seam finish: to hand overcast or not?

Hi, readers! Kids are delivered to respective educational institutions after demanding double attention yesterday, and I finally got some time to share with you! Yay!

This U.F.O. celebration worked so far, my cape is finished! Now, I could not make up my mind which project to tackle next - that's always my problem. I wish I had a wardrobe full of beautiful hand-made clothes, but, alas...

So, at the end, I settled with my Clovers. Remember, it was a bonus project for Colette Fall Palette Challenge. Hmmm... So far, I have been working on bonus projects only, not on the planned ones. But, on the other hand, I do need an extra pair or two of trousers, so here we go.

The muslin was done long ago, fabric cut, pants underlined. What slowed me down is the decision on how to finish the seams. You know me, I love to use couture techniques - so, my initial thought was to hand overcast the seams. Crazy, right?

I checked David Page Coffin's Making Trousers for Men & Women: A Multimedia Sewing Workshop - he has a great chapter at the beginning 'Learning from Custom and Ready-to-Wear Garments'. And, of course, what I found there? YSL couture pants from Claire Shaeffer's collection!!! Naturally, all seam allowances were hand overcast... But I just wasn't ready for hand overcasting some five yards of seams with winter approaching soon.... I thought, those YSL pants are vintage - do they really still hand overcast? The answer is, most likely, yes, readers... (I've seen it in documentaries - but I tried to suppress it) So, I was still looking for faster solution. I feel really, really guilty about it!

Let me explain, readers! Hand overcasting considerably reduces bulk and stiffness of the seam edge, which is, obviously, an advantage as it won't show through on lighter weight fabrics, or leave an impression after pressing. However, my trousers, are made of medium-weight stretch tweed, and are underlined, so bulk is a relative issue. Stiffness, maybe.

I went further and paid a mandatory visit to The Cutter & Tailor forum for some advice. I mean who would know better than a bunch of best custom tailors?! There was a discussion on seam finishes, and I finally found what I was looking for.

Is sewing too trivial for a suspense moment, readers?.. Ta-da-da-DAM!

...Anyway,.. I decided to go for serging {Did I say the s* word?} Sorry!.. well, yes, s*rging! However, I used fine silk thread instead of the bulkier polyester. It made soo much difference. It's not as pure (forgive me) as hand overcasting, but it is only tiny little bit bulky and only somewhat stiff.

Of course, it took me several samples to adjust the tension - the thread was breaking all the time. At the end, I got it. Here is the proof:

well, the face side is not that visible, but what's more important is that it's not bulky or stiff.
To conclude, I just wanted to say that I would have chosen hand overcasting the pants if I had more time. Purist or not, to me it seems to be a better finish!

Now, back to you, readers! How do you finish pant seams? What are the pros and cons of your method?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

(U.)F.O. Party - Week 2

Dear Readers, this post is shorter than intended as, again, children having cold... That means shorter posts for the upcoming couple of days, sorry, but, meanwhile, let me give you a brief overview of the (U.)F.O. Party last week. Three finished projects out of five, readers! Personally, your submissions motivated me to finish my own project ;-) so, join along!

A more detailed account of projects is below the link submission tool - they all are worth checking out!

If you want to read the original post that started it all, and get a badge - follow this link.

FINISHED - Juliette of  Sewing and Style Den finished her Simplicity 2568 'wearable muslin' to find out that the style of the blouse doesn't suit her well. Someone else got the blouse and she got to try out a blind hem foot. Read her post to find out more. By the way, I am a big fan of Juliette's blog - I think we both started blogging at the same time.

ON HOLD - Another Sewing Scientist posted her unfinished Laotian Silk Brocade skirt. Beautiful fabric, check it out! And if you love ethnic prints, you will find a lot of projects on her blog.

FINISHED - And check out Puu's (un)finished Butterfly Dress! It is made of a beautiful Silk Print by Etro. If you'll read one of her more recent entries, you will see that the dress is finished and is gorgeous. With a lot of hand sewing, print matching and fine couture techniques it's a treat.

FINISHED - I also made my humble contribution by posting my multiple week project a Bouclé cape with quilted lining. Yay, readers, it's now finished! I've documented the progress in different posts, so if you are interested in Chanel techniques, check it out and judge yourself. For me, it was an amazing learning experience!

ALMOST FINISHED - And you have to see the Vogue 2960 Dress from Greytone of this very new blog Gotcha Covered. The hem finish on the petticoat made with fashion fabric bias binding is a very sweet detail. Very little left to complete the project, so let's encourage Greytone to finish the dress by visiting the blog and leaving a comment!

Good luck, everyone, with your UFOs and looking forward to another productive sewing week!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Gadgetmania Giveaway - The Original "How much Fabric?" cards

The Holiday Season has officially started, readers! And so the search for a perfect gift! So, today, as a part of Gadgetmania series, wonderful Gwen of Gwynhug.com is offerring Frabjous Couture readers all over the world a great holiday gift giveaway – The Original “How Much Fabric?” Reference Cards!

A beautiful fabric catches your eye and steals your heart – you must have some! But, how much should you buy? 
"Basically, I always used to way-overbuy fabric and I finally decided that I needed to put a stop to that," said Gwen, "so, with the help of a friend, I entered the fabric requirements tables from thousands of sewing patterns into spreadsheets and created these cards."  
These sturdy plastic reference cards – the perfect size to slip into your purse – summarize the fabric requirements of thousands of patterns with tables and images to help you buy just the right amount. There are tables showing the minimum, average and maximum fabric requirements for dresses, tops, skirts, pants and jackets – broken down by garment size and fabric width. 

The cards also include sketches that illustrate minimum, average and maximum garments, and “safety margin” tables to guide you in “rounding up” to be as safe as you want, without wastefully overbuying.

The following four sets are currently available in both American and metric versions:

Set 1: Women’s Clothes (6-22/Eur 32-48)
Set 2: Plus Sizes (18-32/Eur 44-58)
Set 3: Men’s Clothes (34-50/Eur 44-60)
Set 4: Babies and Toddlers (Newborn - 6)
Set 5: Children's Clothes (7-16)

Gwyn Hug is a small business built from the combined efforts of four sewing friends. 
To enter the giveaway, leave a comment by Friday, 12 December, answering the following question and stating your choice of the cards (Set 1, 2, 3 or 4).  
How do you decide how much fabric to buy, when you don’t have a pattern in hand?
Don't want to wait? You can order the cards directly from Gwynhug.com

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Image: {Wikimedia Commons}
Thank you for being such a welcoming and wonderful community, for sharing your knowledge and for being there every time I need you!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Shop Small and Support the Garment District on 11/26

Readers, I would like to interrupt my regular blog posts for this announcement from 

Sponsored by American Express, the 2nd annual Small Business Saturday® is a day dedicated to supporting small businesses on one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year.

For details and the list of fabric vendors, head over to Meg's great blog.

You can also support small businesses by shopping onlineCheck out, for example, this Oliver+S page and a special offer . With the Coupon Code SHOPSMALL you will get any paper sewing pattern for $12,50 with the purchase of minimum two patterns. 

And here is the link to the Small Business Saturday Facebook page

If you know of any sewing businesses that participate in Small Business Saturday, post a link! Happy Shopping, everyone!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tested Technique: Chanel faux bound buttonholes

I made them because I wanted a bouclé cape with real buttonholes instead of the easier hook and eye. A hand-worked buttonhole is made on the face fabric (= bouclé), and a faux bound buttonhole is done on the lining, which extends to the edge of the jacket.
On the left, the hand-worked buttonhole (temporarily secured with a silk thread)
On the right, the faux bound buttonhole
Claire Shaeffer is the only one who describes this technique en detail - see the end of this post for available sources. So, I followed her instruction, changing a few things, which I thought made sense to me. Here I am describing how I did it. 

Time spent: appr. 30 min per buttonhole (2 hours in total)

Materials used:
  • silk thread for basting
  • polyester thread for permanent stitching
  • longer Japanese needles for basting
  • shorter Japanese needles for permanent stitching
  • Iron
  • running stitch
  • slip stitch

1. Prepare buttonhole welts

To prepare buttonhole welts, tear couple of 1 inch (2.5 cm) - wide strips of lining remnants on crossgrain. If your fabric doesn't allow tearing then cut on grain. 

I find that tearing the strips not only precisely establishes the grain, but also simplifies pressing and aligning of the strips in the following steps. 

You will need 2 welts for each buttonhole, and to establish the welt length use the following formula:

welt length = buttonhole length + 1" (2.5) seam allowance

Don't cut your stripes into welts yet, just use this formula to establish the total length you will need. it will save you some time. 

2. Press welts

Press your stripes to flatten the torn edge. Fold stripes in half, wrong sides together, and press them again. 

3. Cut welts

Now cut the welts in the required length using the formula above. 

4. Place the welts on the face fabric

It helps, before you do this step, to secure the hand-worked buttonhole on the face fabric (image above). This will minimize shifting of the fabric layers and allow you to align the welts faster.

Place the welts on the wrong side of the garment, with folds facing each other along the buttonhole centerline. It helps if the line is thread traced on the face fabric - it is usually done before the hand-worked buttonholes are applied. This thread-traced line should extend more than 1/2 inch on each side to serve as a guide. 

Using a small running stitch, permanently stitch the welts to the face fabric.

5. Finish lining

Lay the lining over the buttonholes and finish it. Usually, in this type of garment, where lining is quilted to the face fabric, it extends almost to the edge, and is finished using fell-stitches. 

6. Secure lining around buttonholes

Here you see how I basted around the buttonhole (from the right side of the garment) and, then, outlined the buttonholes lines (Step 7)
Before you proceed, you will need to secure the lining in place - this will allow you to cut the buttonhole with minimal shifting. To secure the lining baste around the buttonhole using a running stitch. Silk thread is the best, of course, since it doesn't leave marks on lining. 

This is where the easy part ends, readers. You will need to be extra focused 

7. Clip the lining 

As next, Claire Shaeffer advises to "carefully mark the ends of the buttonhole with pins and carefully clip between the pins, and another 1/16 inch at each end."

Be careful here! Since you basted the lining to the face fabric you have no control over the welts sandwiched in between, so, you have to be extremely careful about not clipping the welts accidentally. 

When  I did the trial buttonhole, I clipped the center line wrong, so it was off. With the next buttonhole, I used an air-erasable marker to draw the center line and the outlines.

8. Finish the buttonhole

To finish the buttonhole you will need to carefully turn under the buttonhole edges appr. 1/8 inch from the centerline and slipstitch the folded edges to the welts. This is probably the most demanding step as it requires very accurate folding and stitching. 

I would recommend using a smaller hand sewing needle and going around the buttonhole twice - this way you don't have to make too tiny stitches. Claire Shaeffer also recommend using needle point to shape the buttonhole corners. 

By the way, you can see that my buttonhole welts are wider than 1/8 inch. I just thought this would work best for me, mainly because I used relatively large buttons, so the buttonhole length is slightly more than an inch. I think solid color would look better with narrower welts. 

It is virtually impossible to achieve perfect rectangular shape with charmeuse, because it is so slippery and frays the moment you touch it. Now, I think fusing around the lining around the buttonhole may help control the silk. However, with silk, I would be extra careful about it and make a sample first. I would also secure the corners with a couple of narrow overcast stitches, because those sections are under the stress every time you (un)button the jacket.

So, that's it readers! 

Am I happy with the outcome? 

Well,  I wish the result was better, but then I looked at pictures of vintage couture Chanel jackets available on Shaeffer's DVD "Behind the Seams: Shaeffer on Chanel". Readers, hand-worked buttonholes look better than mine, but not better than Jefferey D.'s. However, the faux bound buttonholes are often a mess, at least judging by those pictures - I think, with some experimenting it is possible to achieve better results. 

The verdict:

Shaeffer's technique is the most suitable technique for bouclé jackets. Finishing part is really awkward, but if you are a patient person and don't mind going slowly about it, you will get quite good buttonhole. 

Some tips on how to make it look even better:

Mastering hand-worked buttonholes is important for the overall outcome. However, I also realized that bouclé hides a lot of imperfections. Choosing silk thread for the face fabric will blend threads even more. Using quality beeswax helps as well, as the thread will look less dull. 

With the faux bound buttonholes, I thought that print charmeuse (instead of the solid color) is more forgiving, especially if it is an abstract print like mine. 

Finally, applying some pressure to the buttonhole with the tip of an iron makes it look better.

As for the cape, it is now finished, yay! I may also apply chain to weight it in front, because it pulls back slightly, maybe because of the heavier slit on the back. I am still not decided on it... Will be posting the pictures of the finished cape this week, readers!

Here are some sources I used as a reference:

V8259 - highly coveted jacket pattern by Claire Shaeffer Custom Couture (inspired by a strikingly similar vintage couture Chanel jacket). Construction technique include quilting and a three-piece sleeve.
"The Comfortable Side of Couture: Practical Techniques of Coco Chanel" by Claire Shaeffer in "Great Sewn Clothes", Threads publication - describes construction techniques of a typical couture Chanel jacket
"The Comfortable Side of Couture:Practical Techniques of Coco Chanel" by Claire Shaeffer in Threads Magazine Archive, Issue 23, June/July 1989
"Behind the Seams: The Shaeffer Collection" by Claire Shaeffer and David Page Coffin, 2009 - a collection of images documenting construction of Chanel Haute Couture and RTW garments.

What about your buttonholes? Have you tried buttonholes on bouclé, or any other loosely woven fabrics. I am wondering what other options are there... as always post links to relevant posts, projects, tutorials!

Are blog tutorials to be trusted?

Just recently, I have stumbled upon a comment on one sewing blog that made me think about the quality of sewing tutorials, so abundant in the sewing blogosphere.

But first, the disclaimer: I realize, I may upset a few people by quoting a part of the comment here, but I hope the majority of you will agree that it is actually a positive thing because it triggers interesting debates on relevant issues.

Anyway, here is the quote:
It only annoys me because of the many examples of tutorials that are really popular but frankly really ill-informed. And it guts me that people searching for a tutorial on how to do something may latch onto one of these - and think it is a good way to do it when it is harder, less accurate, or otherwise flawed - simply because of who wrote it or how many hits it had had.
So, on the one hand, I agree - there are a few not-so-great tutorials, on the other hand, I think, blog readers should be aware that blog tutorials are nothing else but the author’s way to do it – try it or leave it.

Here are some clues that help me use blog tutorials successfully:

1. Check out the final result

Honestly, I have never had a problem with online tutorials. For example, I saw several ones on hand-worked buttonholes – some had more information, others were basic… But what really counted for me was the final result. Did I like the buttonhole? If yes – I tried to follow the writer’s instructions. It didn’t work out even after some practice? I did more research. 

2. Compare several tutorials, on blogs or in books

One thing I always do is look at several tutorials on the same topic and compare. With my buttonholes, I achieved the best results combining three sources, Jeffery D.’s video tutorial, Cutter & Tailor forum info, and Paco Peralta’s tutorial on his blog (the links)

3. Look for personal experience

I also feel that even if the tutorial is less accurate, you will very likely find some invaluable personal experience that makes blog tutorials so different from sewing books instructions. 

4. Look for references.

References to additional resources are always a good sign - for me, it is an indication that the writer made a research and compared different ways to do something.  

Finally, we are all learning by doing, right? I appreciate the time bloggers invest into tutorial writing, whether good or bad. So, even if I didn't like something, I would always come back and check new tutorials by the same person. 

Post factum edit :-) I also wanted to add that, sometimes, it is the blogger personality, his or her wit, or the garment they made, that inspire a reader to try out a technique - I think this makes blogs a very educative medium that helps spread the word about the craft we all love!

So, readers, what do you think about blog tutorials? Are they to be trusted? What makes a good tutorial for you? Which bloggers out there would you recommend for well-written and thoroughly researched tutorials? 

Ok, having said all of that, there is a tutorial in making on Chanel faux bound buttonholes :-) It is actually more of a review of Claire Shaeffer's technique... I will try to post it tonight, kids permitting ;-)

Monday, November 21, 2011

My labels have arrived!!!

Readers, holding the labels in my hand is like making the next step in my couture adventure.

I know I still have a long and exciting journey ahead of me, but I am already proud of what I have accomplished so far! And, so, I am now documenting that my garments are made by me, by hand, using couture sewing techniques, patiently and passionately!

Do you have your own labels, readers? 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

(U)FO Party - Link your (un)finished project from the last week!

Ok, this is not a Sci-Fi party... And it is also not about United Farmers of Ontario, readers!

It's about showcasing our (un)finished projects? 

Why (UN)finished?

Well, it is great of course if we finish what we planned in time. But, sometimes, the objects are unfinished because we stumble upon a sewing challenge, or work on a complex project (Chanel jacket, anyone?)? Often, even a little step can be a great learning experience for all, a blogger and the readers. Maybe linking to an unfinished project, or a post on such, will remind us about, make us touch it, and maybe even want to finish it? Or, maybe, you finish something that was neglected for a while... A week? Two? maybe more? Two years????!

Whether you will link to a finished or unfinished project, it is more about being more productive (disciplined? yuck). By linking directly to our blog, or image gallery, we will be making this pledge! I hope this new idea will help all of us be more productive more organized and more focused on our sewing projects!

So, this is the first Sunday, grab you link and post it here with the help of the link widget below! All you need to do is to add a URL to your UFO. Just click the link and follow instructions! Real simple, isn’t it?

If you haven't blogged about your (U.)F.O. do it now! To join the (U.)F.O. party link to unfinished objects, work-in-progress, finished stuff - it should be something that took longer than planned! And don't forget to get the badge:

Grab the code below to display the badge on your blog:

For the most dedicated star troopers, here are some tips on how you can spice up your UFO-Party images:

Wear UFO-shaped badges with a little green man at the wheel to create excitement among blog readers for the festivities to come.

Green alien heads can be worn with your UFO. Use foil cutouts to create creepy metallic eyes. 

Creating an alien background is easy with bright green crepe paper that is strung all about the house. If you have children, they can help you decorating foil pie tins to make cute U.F.O.s to hang from the ceiling.

Crepe paper in yellow and black can warn your blog readers of the recent U.F.O.crash site.

Readers can be offered Area 51 staff blog badges to wear throughout the party. They can individualize each with a Polaroid picture of themselves taken as they read your post.

Make an even better alien background by making space pictures on large black poster boards speckled with white for stars and brightly colored spheres for planets.

Brightly colored balloons can be blown up to different sizes and even have colors added to create planets. Hang the planets around the house to create a party solar system. A large yellow balloon can be hung in the center of the room to form the center of your festive universe. (for more inspiration, visit http://boysbirthdaypartyplanner.com/AlienParty.html)

To inspire you even more, here is a video dedicated to all  (not so)supersonic sewers ;-) performed by my most (truly the most) favourite rock band

Enjoy the party! 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

This Week’s Sewing Reveries

This week was all about sewing productivity… or, actually, about the absence of such. 

Source: Flickr Commons
I feel like I have been focusing much more on learning and on the sewing process as such than on getting garments finished. So, this leaves me with 10 UFOs (aka unfinished objects)... {I know some of my loyal readers and friends will sympathize}

Little help with UFOs

Talking about UFOs, do you have any tips to help stay focused on your projects? I thought a plan would help. Not the one in a notebook, but something  public, for more transparency.  A Work-in-Progress widget on my blog (does it actually exist?). Anyway…

Source: Flickr Commons
…finishing projects together is so much more fun!

Wouldn’t it be fun, if we all showcased our finished objects once a week, or whenever they are done. So, I am adding a small widget where you can link to your finished project. Every Sunday, I will be posting a new link collection and you will have a few days to add a URL and an image that will link to your blog or gallery.

What I have accomplished this week…

{I am blushing} … BECAUSE,
  • I spent the week practicing hand-worked buttonholes
  • started a Faux Fur Class with Kenneth D. King on PatternReview and
  • took apart a fox fur jacket I got from my mom (it did need quite a few alterations to become wearable again). I like fur generally, but would rather restyle an older piece than buy a new skin... 
  • guest blogged about Beeswax on Burdastyle, and acquired a collections of beeswax cakes to compare, lol – I need help, readers.
  • tried to re-watch Star Wars on Netflix or Amazon Prime – to no avail, duh. DVDs cost over $100 on Amazon, or you have to subscribe to Netflix DVD service.  That’s the first occasion I wish I had a Blockbuster around the corner.

My plans for the next week…

Errr… finishing UFOs?

So, how does it sound, friends? Shall we start linking up our finished projects? If yes, tomorrow is the start date - I will post the first link widget for everyone to join! 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Sewing Gadgetmania: A Red Dot Design Award winner...

Readers, I am very happy to introduce the first guest blogger: Astrid. Astrid blogs from Denmark at Frøken Hanghøj about sewing, of course. Did you know that "Frøken" means "Miss" in Danish? So, today we are about to read a Gadgetmania post by Miss Hanghøj! 

She got quite a treat for us today: a post on an award-winning sewing tool... By the way, you will need an online translation tool to read her blog, and here is the link to her blog translated by Google into EnglishBut, first, read her Gadgetmania post...

Hi everyone! Marina let me do this blog post as a cultural-exchange post [Marina's disclaimer: this was Astrid's idea! :-)]. I found Marinas blog when I took up sewing again after a long, long break… Reading on all her posts on couture camp makes me so envious that I live too far away to participate – in Denmark.

It also makes me think that the sewing world is completely different from culture to culture. I’ve only sewn here. I’ve been to the US a few times and at one point I even brought a sewing project with me, but didn’t finish one single stitch. Too much to see! Especially in San Francisco which must be my favorite place on earth!

Denmark is well known for Danish design. And pastry (Danish!). And the little mermaid and Hans Christian Andersen. Perhaps if you’re into Scandinavian design, you’ve also heard of quite a few names in Fashion. But our sewing notions? They come from Germany. As with most other things that I buy for sewing. Even my sewing needles say ‘nädlen” in German.

So,.. sorry. This post is looking south (Denmark is located north of Germany on the world map for those who have trouble locating this small country of only around 5 million people).

I’ve picked a sewing notion that I believe is not widely known in the US. I could be mistaken though. It won a 2011 Red Dot Design Award for industry and crafts. Red Dot is a German design publishing bureau. They’re mostly known for awarding the yearly Red Dot design award to industrial design that is both functional and pleasing to the eye. Going through their web store I would like to be able to say “I’d take one of each, please!”

In this post I am introducing you to The Purple Needle Twister. Personally, I would have picked a fancier name for it. But this will do, since it’s official.

[Picture - closed]

I bought it in my favorite local sewing machine shop downtown. For around 12 USD – which is probably a bit overpriced compared to what you’d pay for something similar in the US, but here in Denmark sewing notions don’t go for cheap. Neither do fabric – we’re used to paying around 35USD easily for a scrap of wool boucle. No wonder I often think about going to Turkey or Paris just to go fabric shopping. City-hopping in Europe is a real possibility and if the financial crisis hasn’t gotten to your finances yet – also quite cheap at the moment.

So what does it do? With just a simple magnet it holds all your needles point down and lets you pick and choose the ideal-purpose needle without getting hurt. Like this:

Want to know more, here is a video from Prym, showing the tool in action!

Being someone who carries band aids with her sewing notions, I believe this has already saved me more times than I care to count. And ain’t it fancy? Who doesn’t love purple sewing notions that look like makeup. You can buy it on Red Dots website here [http://en.red-dot.org/2801.html?&cHash=e2d78a8b836d9e2eec2a042e5742466a&detail=8169

Did you enjoy it, readers? I must say I envy Astrid for having access to all these tools! And she said she dreams about having a tomato pincushion! Did you mean one of those, Astrid?

If, yes, than it is already packed and waiting to be mailed to Denmark! 

Back to readers, I could not find the Needle Twister in the US, but got some results on UK eBay when I googled it. If you have seen this notion in the US or Canada, please post a link or more details here!

If you enjoyed this post and also want to contribute to Gadgetmania, send me an email to mvk(dot)fashion(at)gmail(dot)com.

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