Thursday, June 30, 2011

Announcement and another Giveaway!

I had quite a lot of exciting things happening in the last few weeks: I started guest blogging on BurdaStyle.com, then I took a class with Susan Khalje, made my own Chanel-inspired jacket using the finest couture sewing techniques, then I reached 100 followers threshold and, finally, dear readers, this week I quit my job!

Ok, that's it... There is no follow-up announcement... I didn't win a lottery, or inherited money from a rich aunt; neither did I get a TV hosting or publishing deal... Readers, I decided it's time to make the next step! I learnt a lot during the last 2,5 years at my job and am ready for more. As importantly, from August on I will take some time off to help my daughter start her first year at school. Meanwhile, I will have more time to sew, to learn new couture techniques and to write, and I hope this will lead me where I want to be... but more about it later.

Now, to celebrate this new stage in my life I wanted to offer my followers this giveaway, as a thank you for being part of my life for the last few months. I really feel I got so many new friends all over the world - I talk about you during breakfast, lunch and dinner (ask Mr. Frabjous). I read your blogs and I can even anticipate what posts each of you is likely to comment on... Anyway, this is becoming very sentimental, so to cut the long story short, here is my giveaway:

This pattern was made by a talented indie designer Tasia of Sewaholic and is the second of her three patterns so far. I also have her Pendrell Blouse and pre-ordered her very-soon-to-be -released Lonsdale Dress, which I love, by the way. She hosted Sew-Alongs for the both released patterns with step-by-step images. In addition, there is a Flickr Group featuring creations by her readers - check it out for inspiration.

While I like this Crescent Skirt, I realised, after I bought it, that it just would not suit me - so I would be happy if you, readers, will have fun sewing and wearing this skirt.

So, for a chance to win this pattern you just need to be a follower of this blog and leave a comment under this post - that's it! 

I would also love to hear from you about your favourite indie pattern companies/designers, but this is not a condition for winning this pattern!

Last day to enter is July 5th - the winner will be announced on July 6th.

Good luck!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

In search of collective wisdom: Muslins

Dear readers, as you may know already, I am guest blogging at Burdastyle sharing my experience in learning couture sewing.  My first post was a couture quiz, and then I blogged about the making of a Classic French Jacket.

My next post is about muslins, and with so many talented sewers and bloggers around, I wanted to include your feedback. Your answers to the questions below will help me make the post as relevant as possible, because it will show examples from our home sewing rooms! So, please take a minute to look at these questions:
  • How did you learn to make a muslin? If you haven't made a muslin yet, why would you like to learn it?
  • What projects do (don’t) you make a muslin for?
  • Do you use your fitted muslins more than once? if yes, what type of garments are those?
  • Any big muslin disasters or muslin-making tips you would like to share? 

If you want, add a link to an image or a post to illustrate your thoughts. All quotes and images used in the final post will be accurately credited and linked to your blog, if you have one, of course! 

Thank you!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Finished: Oliver & S Ice Cream Dress

So, here is the finished Ice Cream Dress from Oliver & S. The print is a screen printed cotton from Robert Kaufman. I pre-washed it, which caused the fabric to get off-grain. It took me some pressing and stretching to grain the fabric, but there is still some distortion...

The next on the list is the V-notch on pockets and on the neckline. I blogged about the infamous V-Notch Tutorial yesterday and will try the techniques you suggested this week. If you also struggle with sharp V-points on your garments, check out comments under the linked post - there are some really great suggestions there. As for print matching - I think it was overall quite fine - and it was pretty easy

the back of the dress...
...with a little perl button
I also understitched the hem by hand - really enjoyed the process after a stressful working week!

Here is my little one modeling the dress. No ice cream, but a lot of Hello Kitty stickers on her hand :-)

She wears it with confidence! That's a good sign, or? :-)

Monday, June 27, 2011

V-Notch Neckline

ok, this technique was planned as a tutorial for a V-notched neckline (you will see below the final look), but instead, readers, you will see how I failed to master it. But as they say, those who never make mistakes lose a great many chances to learn something, right?

So, the starting point was the Oliver & S Ice Cream Dress, which has a V-notch yoke and pockets. When it comes to making the V-notch, pattern instructions give the following hint:

"When you reach the lower point of the V, take one stitch across the bottom of the V before pivoting again to stitch up the other side. This stitch will permit the V to form a sharp point when you turn the pocket yoke  right side out."

I was happy to learn something new and followed the hint!

I then trimmed the seam allowance to 1/4", notched the neckline and carefully clipped up to the stitching at the point of V.

By the way, I am pretty proud of this notching and clipping (sorry for being such a nerd :-) Anyway, if you wondering, it was very easy with these great Gingher Tailor's Point Scissors. They are really great and are recommended by Coffin in his Shirtmaking book, Kenneth D. King and Susan Khalje. They are small but strong and perfect for small cutting jobs like this one.

Back to the subject: this is my finished V-notch. Note the absence of a sharp V-shaped corner, ahem...

Now, I know that there are some very experienced sewists lurking here. I appeal to you! Explain to me, what did I do wrong?

Just to show that I am being proactive, here are my suggestions:

A. the yoke fabric is too delicate (relatively lightweight silk/cotton blend) for that one crosswise stitch!
B. the technique is not perfect, and, you know, I read in a Claire Schaeffer's book and another couture reference, that to make the V-point sharp and durable you need to decrease the stitch length close to the V-point.

It's your turn now!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

And the winners of the ...


So, again, the winners are:
  • Paunnet
  • Suzy
  • House of Pinheiro

Congratulations to the winners and thanks to everyone for participating!! send me a mail at mvk(dot)fashion(at)gmail(dot)com with your mailing address to claim the prize!

Thank you, Hollie for offering this fantastic giveaway and good luck with your invention.
If you want to learn more about the tool, please visit Hollie's website

Your most dreaded sewing steps...

It was so interesting to read about your most dreaded step in sewing that I had to combine your comments in one post! So, find out what are the most dreaded sewing steps among the readers of this blog:

1. Laying out & Cutting

  • I dread the most the laying out, pinning and cutting. If all the pieces were cut out for me and all I had to do was just sew, that would be great. (Sew Tell)
  • I actually like the cutting of the pattern pieces (as long as there are not too many) but I DREAD wrestling with my fabric to get the selvedges lined up properly without any twisting of fabric...really dread it, teeth gnashing experience.... (Meri)
  • I absolutely despise cutting and it always takes so long.....This 'lil gadget would really speed things along for me. I'm always double checking my measurements for the seam allowance so I end up having to cut the fabric at least two times! Always cutting off the excess that I left "just in case" my bazillion measurements were wrong... (Tara)
  • I sew extensively and almost daily and cutting takes most of the time so i am quite excited and love to win this. (Creative Mama)
  • I dread the cutting out process the most so this would always come in handy. (Jali)
  • cutting out the pattern is my most dreaded event (Joyce in NC)
2. Buttonholes
  • I think my most dreaded sewing step is machine buttonholes simply because I feel I can't control them. If the machine decides to do one of them smaller/ different/ bigger than the other it will. Unpicking buttonholes is not fun. (Suzy)
  • The worst thing ever?? (Machine) Buttnholes. No matter how many time I do practice ones and even if I get all those PERFECT - I will end up having to redo 9 out of 10 buttonholes on the garnment. I have countless of shirts waiting to be finished... all I need to make are those #@!§$&%€ buttonholes!!! I want a 'clip-in/strap-on-buttonhole-maker'... did you read that Hollie??!! Please!!! (DaneMum)
  • My most dreaded chore is button holes. My machine can't be bothered to make them all the same or even to complete them a lot of the time. Maybe one day I'll learn to do hand stitched button holes. (BeccaA)
3. Marking Fabric
  • Most dreaded step for me is marking fabric after it's cut. There is no easy way and it's SO time consuming! (Forrest Nicole)
  • hmm... probably marking my cut pieces, especially on something like tweed... takes forever! (Emory)

4. Tracing Patterns
  • I hate tracing patterns and pressing. If those were not an issue, I'd have a lot more clothes made, lol!  (Shayla Sharp)

  • Oh that gadget looks extra fab to someone who makes their own patterns! I wouldn't have to sit there with a ruler tracing around the pattern! Now that is a step I dread...(Candace Clay)

5. Hemming
  • I dread hemming. Not the actual hemming, but deciding how long an item should be and marking it. (goodworks1)
6. Hemming and Grading Trims
  • And I hate a number of things but there's a tie between hemming and, strangely, grading/trimming seams. I'm always SURE it's going to make the garment fall apart in my hands, LOL! (lakaribane)
7. Adding seam allowances
  • one of the most frustrating sewing steps is adding seam allowance to a pattern (that) doesn't have any :) (Stephanie)
8. Ironing
9. Fitting and Muslins
  • My most dreaded sewing task is probably the most important one, the fittings and muslins to get a proper fit. (Helen)
10. Understitching
  • My most dreaded sewing step is understitching. I botch it up at least once almost every time! (Paula Gardner)
11. Agonizing over Perfect Pattern (I can so sympathize with this one!)
  • Dreaded.....I wracked my brain for a bit, and I think at this point I can honestly say there is NOTHING about sewing (so far!) that I dread. There were a few things that were scary until I dove into them, and now I'm finding that anything brand new is just another exciting challenge to try. Hopefully I've learned enough patience at this stage of my life to treat formerly boring tasks as more of a zen-like exercise in patience now. Yup, even thread tracing and and seam ripping.... And now that I've said that out loud, I've no doubt that some new dreaded task will rise up to bit me in the butt lol! :D Oh oh wait! I know! I DO have dread! It's agonizing over the perfect pattern for a fabulous & pricey & irreplaceable cut of fabric, and then second-guessing my decision as I finally cut into it.  (Jilly Be)
Thanks to Hollie for the great giveaway that triggered these comments, and check out her website to learn more about her Seam Allowance Guide:

To check out the winner of the giveaway, go to this post

Friday, June 24, 2011

Last Day to enter Seam Allowance Guide Giveaway

Dear readers! Today is the last day to enter the Giveaway for three Seam Allowance Guides!

If you haven't entered yet, leave a comment here, or under the original post!

Good luck, everyone!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

70 Hours to the Dream: my new Burdastyle blog post!

Dear readers, if you are still not tired of the Classic French Jacket Class, please read this Guest Post on Burdastyle.com!


I am blogging on Burdastyle every two weeks, sharing my experiences (and failures) in learning couture sewing. If you have any suggestions for next topics, I would love to hear them! I will be happy to research, try and write about anything couture - the more challenging, the better! :-)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My Chanel-inspired Jacket: The pics

Readers, I have promised you pictures of the finished Chanel-inspired jacket. I didn't have an opportunity to wear it - so I hope you will forgive me that I am not modelling it and showing it in action. Once the heat is over, I will post the update.  The good news is - I am starting a new one - stay tuned to new updates. But for now, enjoy the pictures! 

I would love to hear your feedback, so please comment!

Day 1: NYC Shopping | Day 2: Show & Tell / Quilting | Day 3: Goodies and Seams | Day 4: Epic Sleeves | Day 5: More Epic Sleeves | Day 6: The Finale |

Friday, June 17, 2011

How to get rid of yellow stains in vintage lace and linens!

The vintage lace is on its way to our giveaway winners in New York, UK and Canada; and I while I was packing it today I thought it would be a good idea to share with you some tips on removing that typical light yellow staining from the lace before you use it.

So, here are couple of things you can do to get rid of it:
  • Lay the lace out in the sun and turn it over after a few hours. A day in the sun should be enough to get rid of most of the staining.
  • Next, soak the lace in one gallon of hot water mixed with one scoop of OxiClean for a few hours (OxiClean is milder than a regular chlorine-based bleach), or until the stains are gone. Do not use OxiClean with anything metal (such as metal container), because due to resulting oxidation, the metal can rust and stain your lace even more. Also, test on a patch before using with colors.
  • After a few hours, remove the lace and drain it out.
  • Now, rinse the lace first in a distilled vinegar solution to neutralize OxiClean and then in cool water.
  • Drain and let it dry on a drying rack or a towel outside in the sun.

Voilà! Enjoy your lace!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The mystery package and what to use these weights for!

I promised you to reveal the contents of a package that arrived from the UK last week.  So, here it is:

Nope, there is no fancy fabric! What you see here is premium quality tie interfacing and two types of lead weights!

The supplies come from MacCulloch & Wallisa great UK-based tailoring supplies store and the only one I could find that sells quality tie interfacing. But more about ties later this month.

I wanted you to have a look at these weights! I have to admit - it will be my first! And I am going to use them for my linen skirt vent. It should help to prevent the vent from spreading too wide and standing stiff open after a while. I don't know how about you, but my skirt vents look very unsightly after just half a day in the office.

Lead weights are reportedely used in couture to weight vents or hems, especially for evening gowns. It is one of the heaviest metals on this planet and quite affordable for sewing projects, unless you go for gold or platinum, of course. In addition, lead lends itself well to shaping.  The latter is especially useful, because you will sometimes want to hammer the weight flat, so you can hide it in your hem inconspicuously – just handle it with gloves and a mask to avoid the health hazard, and wash your heads after you finished working with it.

More tips on working with lead: covering the weight in a fabric and sewing it into the hem will help eliminate the risk of lead poisoning, which happens through inhaling or ingesting the hazardous metal. And, of course, lead should be stored in a sealed plastic bag out of reach of children.

Have you used lead weights in your projects? Weighted vent tutorial, anyone?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Yay, a new Giveaway! (with an exciting update!)

(don't miss an exciting update at the end of this post!)


Thank you so much for your feedback on my LBD muslin. While I am tinkering with it, here are some new goodies for you! Yes! It is another giveaway!

This is a special giveaway, though, because the tool below has been invented and patented by one of our fellow home seamstresses. Can you imagine?!

Hollie Bell, who lives in Australia, studied engineering many years ago, but then fell into her current career of building loan calculators for mortgage brokers and banks. “I am very lucky that it only takes up five hours a week,” she said. “I love being self-employed and hope never to have a real job again.”

Now, readers, admit, how many of you sympathize with Hollie? (by the way, if you want to pour out your frustration about full-time working, please feel free to do it here! I doubt your employer will look for your comments on my blog.)

Oh, how much I have to say, but back to the subject. Holly is quite an experienced seamstress, readers: she started sewing when she was 12. “I have resurrected my love for sewing in the last few years,” she said. “Although, it’s very hard with two high-maintenance little kids.”

She invented the tool last year, when she was working on a top from Marfy patterns (the ‘notorious’ Marfy patterns - no seam allowances, no instructions…). “I was a bit annoyed at the whole tracing process and my mechanical brain knew there must be a far simpler way.”

The seam allowance guide functions as a magnetic attachment for your scissor blades, which guides your scissors as they cut the fabric at a consistently equal distance from the stitching line.

Hollie has been offering the tool on her website and has received a lot of positive feedback since the launch. “I love starting a project from an idea to seeing it in my hand, and even better when the feedback has been so positive,” she said.

Thank you, Hollie, for offering this unique tool to Frabjous Couture readers! So, here we go, friends! I have one seam allowance guide to give away, and all you have to do for a chance to win is leave a comment here, and, if you like, share with others what’s your most dreaded sewing step.

Good luck!

Of course, I forgot to enter the last day to enter! Shall we say Friday next week? So be it!

The Update!!!  Due to such a positive response, Hollie has generously decided to offer two additional Seam Allowance Guides to Frabjous Couture readers! 

All you need to do to win one of these two additional guides is back-link to this giveaway by using "Links to this post" at the end of the post and then creating the link! (Alternatively, just post a link on your blog and let me know here that you did it!) If you have already commented on this post, you can still back-link to increase your chances to win!

Disclaimer: this is not an advertisement and I am not getting any reimbursement from Hollie for promoting the tool. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Meet my fitting companion... and the scavenger hunt challenge!

I am done with assembling my muslin for the first LBD fitting (the picture is at the end of the post), but before we proceed to the mystery challenge, I thought I need to share with you something I found extremely valuable throughout my fitting experience (ok, I admit, my fitting experience is a work-in-progress thing). Nevertheless,..

...meet my fitting companion, this Moleskine notebook. It is my best friend when it comes to fitting! And if you want to have one too, here are some suggestions on how to use it:
  • Get yourself a nice notebook in an appealing color (I love Moleskines, for example, and if I pick a nice color like red or hot pink, it motivates me to use the notebook more often). So, from now on, this notebook will be your fitting reference!
  • Every time you make a new note, write down the date.
  • Take your measurements and write them down (don’t forget the date!). 
  • Before fitting, put on your regular undergarments (be daring! treat yourself to some very nice underwear). Now, take a picture of yourself from all sides: front, back, left side, right side. The point is to take a look at yourself and your irregularities from a different prospective. I was surprised how much more I discovered through such a picture. Next, paste it on the first page of your fitting notebook (you can also write a note: “I love my body!” - I did - or be even more specific about what you love about your body most!)
  • Now, whenever you fit a garment, take pictures from all sides and paste them in the notebook. Make notes, doodle, have fun!  
  • Next to the pictures, make a note of what adjustments you made and how. Most likely, you will need the same adjustment many times, so why reinventing the wheel.
  • Store you fitted muslins and reference them in your notebook for any similar designs. 
And, finally, my LBD in pre-fitted stage (however, after some crazy adjustments - the pattern was two sizes smaller). 

By the way, please feel free to critique the muslin: the more comments, the merrier! I am in the process of refitting it, and I would love to read what you think. Some comments on fitting are already there, now it's your turn! Treat it as a scavenger hunt challenge! And, please-please-please, no "it looks great" comments - we want to learn together, right? 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

And the winner of vintage lace is...

... there are three winners, actually! The fact is I am hoarding a large box of vintage lace I received from my Austrian grandmother-in-law some fifteen years ago. I will never use all of it, so I decided to pick three winners instead of one. Here is the list:

1. harmony and rosie of Harmony and Rosie will get the prize featured in my original post
She said: "I would definitely incorporate it into a garment, I'm currently collecting vintage sewing patterns so it would be fitting to use the lace with one."
2. Etcetorize of Etcetorize : 
"I'm hoping to make a short white peasant dress for summer with lots of lace accents~"
and 3. Bunny of  La Sewista:
"I use lace a lot, usually in children's garments and collect vintage lace as well."
Etcetorize and Bunny will get similar lace from my stash.

To claim your prize, please send me a message to mvk dot fashion at gmail dot com. I apologize for the format, but that's the only more or less effective way to keep away spammers. 

Congratulations to the winners and thanks to everyone who participated - I am really thrilled to have so motivating and inspiring followers!

There will be at least two more giveaways this month, so stay tuned!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

One Day left to enter 100 followers vintage lace giveaway!

Two weeks are almost up and tomorrow we will draw the lucky winner of the 100 followers vintage lace giveaway! 

If you haven't entered yet, check out this original post and leave your comment for a chance to win these three pieces of vintage lace.

Good luck!

Friday, June 10, 2011

What is genuine design?


Yesterday evening I was looking for inspiration for a new dress in some fantasy print, which I would describe as a 'jungle' print. So, while looking, I came across this Erdem number from his Resort 2012 collection (his dresses sell at $1000 and up)

Image: Vogue.com
While I loved this particular collection, this dress has instantly reminded me of the Vogue Paris Original design by Laroche. The technical drawing reveals more detail.

We all heard about how designers are complaining about low-priced knock-offs. In most cases, copies are made in cheaper materials and using cheaper manufacturing processes... but, let's be realistic - Hermès clients won't be buying a Birkin bag from a table on a Canal Street sidewalk....

I also blogged about Project Runway's finalist Andy South knocking off Pattern Magic designs in his final collection. Well, how far will he make it after this experience?

But, what about when a star designer practically copies most of the design (of course, shape and construction are not the only elements of design). The question is, what exactly is the Erdem design vision when it comes to the above dress?

What do you think, readers? Are there designers with an authentic design vision?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Dreamers Into Doers

Readers, I skipped a day of blogging, because I was
  • chatting in my online Little Black Dress Class,
  • unpacking goodies from a UK-based tailoring supplies store that arrived yesterday, 
  • thread-tracing, fitting and assembling my LBD muslin,
  • hemming Mr. Frabjous’s new chinos
Forgive me, I was very busy. And, in a due course, I will share the highlights of this day with you!

However, while busy with all this, I wanted to recommend you a site that I enjoy very much. It reminds me of the fact that we are capable of changing our lives to the better by making our fantasies real. Yes, I admit, I do dream of doing fashion and sewing for living, but I am not there yet… So, for now, I am being inspired by the experience of many other women who turned their dream into business! 

I am talking about Martha Stewart’s ‘Dreamers Into Doers’

Do check it out and register as a community member. In addition, I wanted to share with you a link to a their most recent quiz, which helps you find out what kind of dreamer you are by answering eight simple questions. I haven’t discovered a secret weapon to turn my fantasy into reality, as the quiz promises, but I did enjoy it nevertheless J Hope you will too!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

10+ tips to succeed in an online sewing class

Now, I have to confess – I took the Little Black Dress class before. I had three different fabrics from my stash to choose from and the same number of patterns, and… it didn’t work, I just could not decide which pattern to choose and so on.. than my daughter got sick, then I got sick, then I started a different project, and then the class was over.

So this time, I knew I need to change my attitude, be focused and organized and make it work! I also drafted a set of rules I will try to follow for the duration of the class and after it. Here they are! Maybe, dear readers, you will benefit from those as well (I hope so!)

before the class…

  • Make the class your main sewing priority! There should be no other significant projects or deadlines that could interfere with your learning process.
  • Set a timeline with significant dates and milestones and make it easily accessible.
  • Organize course materials – save them on your computer, online or mobile devices out for easy reference (try to be environmentally conscious and reduce printing to a minimum)
  • Shop and prepare all necessary supplies well in advance – you won’t have to stop the project because you are missing a zipper, do not have sufficient fabric or require special sewing needles for your project.
  • If the class covers the process of making a garment, choose a pattern and fabric and try not to change your mind when the course starts.
  • Post any pre-class questions on the class board early enough so you don’t have to wait for a last minute answer.

during the class…

  • Become an active member of the class - participate in class discussions and chats
  • Start a binder for samples of techniques or fabric swatches you tried out for the first time in this class. Add sheets for your notes and keep the binder for the future reference
  • Carefully read other participant’s comments and posts to learn from their experience and challenges, ask them questions if something is unclear
  • Take work-in-progress images and upload them to a dedicated album on the web, a CD-Rom or your hard drive.
  • To maximise your learning, do post questions about the project on other sewing forums to find different solutions to one problem

after the class

  • Harness the power of social media and share your experience on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, or other forums – you will be surprised what an interesting exchange of ideas and resources it will most likely trigger
  • If possible, stay in touch with your classmates, check their blogs and follow them on twitter – their future work may provide inspiration to yourself, and you will know whom to ask if you need some advice or help with something. Also, chances are, your classmates worked on slightly different projects during the class (different fabric choices, different hem treatment, different sewing techniques) – you may end up sewing a project similar to theirs and will know where to look for information.

A tip for iPhone, iPad owners:

Save the pdfs from the class on Google Docs and install Adobe Reader Pro app on your mobile device. This great application allows you to download PDF documents from Google Docs and view them on your iPhone, or iPad. I often read my course materials while commuting  to work.

Monday, June 6, 2011

My Little Black Dress- the beginnings

Dear readers!

After the whole Chanel-inspired jacket epic you have probably realized that I am obsessed about taking sewing classes. The ‘problem’ is the more I sew, the more questions I have.

It’s not even two weeks since I have come back from the Classic French Jacket Class and I am already taking another one – The Little Black Dress Class with Susan Khalje (again).  The comforting thought is I am not the only one – some of the other French Jacket Class participants are taking this class as well,

You may ask how it works with a job and a family… So, the answer is it’s an online class, offered through PatternReview.com. The beauty of these classes is that you can learn from home and schedule your time accordingly. The class is also significantly cheaper than any comparable face-to-face class, but you need to be really organized and focused to benefit from these classes.

The instruction works as a combination of PDF downloads, four live chats with the teacher and a message board. Last online class I took generated over 60 pages on the message board – imagine how much you can learn just by reading it!

I selected this Vogue Couturier pattern from 1959. The pattern is almost two sizes smaller than I need, so I will be grading it up, but I will be doing it on a form. By the way, this is another example of how the sizing has changed over the last 50 years within the same company.  I am a size 12 with current Vogue Patterns, but this one runs almost two sizes smaller.

One great thing about vintage Vogue Couturier patterns ( not sure, however, whether it's true for all of them) is that both, the sewing lines and the seam allowances are marked. That means I didn't have to draw stitching lines like on contemporary patterns.

The fabric I chose is black cotton eyelet, which will be underlined with contrasting tan batiste and lined with crepe de chine. This should make a great summer staple that I can wear both to work and to a night out (not that I have many of the latter!). The image below is somewhat purplish, I was taking it late evening.

This fabric has a border, which may prove a little challenging to underline and to hem. Also, I may try making a waist stay. As usual, I will be posting some couture techniques I used on this blog, and feature the finished garment of course (keep your fingers crossed! I hope the dress will turn out the way I want it) . 

Have you taken any online sewing classes? What was your experience?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Classic French Jacket Class: Day 6 (the Finale)

It's my last day, or half a day, to be precise. Tomorrow, I need to get back to work, and so, I need to be back in New York this evening. 

it's 9:00 a.m. I am back to the classroom and join my classmates who are busy finishing their jackets. I am  taking a bus to New York with Rosie today and need to accomplish as much as possible by 2:00. When I try on my jacket, Susan point outs that both center front edges are a little bit too long. I have to take in 1/4" on both ends of the hem. Not happy about another alteration, but I want my jacket to be as perfect as possible, so I unpick, alter and clean up the hem. Also managed to attach another trim section - did I tell you that I didn't have enough trim to run all the way around the jacket hem - M&J had some 3.5 yards only. Finally, on Day 5 I found a way to place it so I had enough. I bought some more needles, pins and sleeve pads from Susan and am now off to pack my bags.

12:00 p.m. I am back with bags. I have accumulated an additional bag over the week - how does it happen?.. Meanwhile, Rosie is checking out pockets on her jacket. Are these pockets supposed to be functional?

12:30 p.m. Before we leave, Susan shows us how to choose and apply the chain.  Rosie's jacket gets a golden chain, while I pick a silver one.

This is a chain from the jacket featured in Threads Magazine, Issue 121.
See, how each link is secured twice with a double-strength waxed thread!

Susan gives us additional tips on how to make a grosgrain waistband for a matching skirt. She points at a section in her Linen and Cotton book, where she describes in detail the technique. I am happy I got the book (it's one of my favourite reference books on couture sewing, by the way).

2:00 p.m. just before we leave I take this picture of Peggy's lining. Isn't this fabric gorgeous?

2:30 p.m. Our cab has arrived and everyone helps to carry a bag. We get apples to eat on the way home -  hugs and promises to exchange pictures of finished jackets!

On the way, I am thinking of what else needs to be done until the jacket is finished:

- resew the hooks (yes, again, because I was too lazy and stabilized the eyes only)
- finish the hem
- clean-up the remaining sleeve vent
- attach the trim
- attach the chain
- final press (steam only)

Once in New York, I give Rosie a big hug, while she promises to take me to a new dumpling place in Midtown, where we both work. It feels like a new stage in my life and it's very welcome.

Now, back to you, dear readers. I still owe you images of the finished jacket - please give me another day  - right now my face is red, and my nose is swollen from the flu that doesn't seem to end. And I would like to model the jacket for you!

And, finally, there is another, final post on this jacket and the class that will come some time this week to summarize the experience and to share with you a few great tips from Susan! But more about it later!

(to be continued)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

A comment from Claire Shaeffer!

Couture Sewing Techniques, Revised and Updated

Dear readers,

Today I received an email from Amazon saying that I got  a comment on my review of Claire Shaeffer's revised edition of Couture Sewing Techniques. And as I have already gave away in the title of this post the commenter was Claire Shaeffer in person! Yes, it was, a little bit, a celebrity moment for me. But what I was more excited about is that we, as readers of these books and customers of Amazon, have this great opportunity to influence what is offered to us by authors and publishers! So, here is the comment:
"Yes, authors read the reviews on Amazon. When I began the revision, I had several goals which included making the book more user friendly and making it different enough that owners of the first edition would want to buy it. I reviewed the posts for the earlier edition and listened to comments from my students.  
I own many of the garments photographed in the new book so I could examine them again and again if needed. This isn't always possible with museum garments.  
I cried at times because I had to replace many of the photos in the original book and highly recommend you buy it. There are some text deletions and many photo substitutions in the Revision.  
Yes, writing is sometimes painful; but, if you like the book, it's worth it. 

Claire Shaeffer"
Do you review books on your blog, or on Amazon, or anywhere else? If yes, what's your motivation to sit down and to write a review?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Sewing Gadgetmania: Walking foot and why you need it for sewing a Chanel-inspired jacket

This Gadgetmania post is also a part of my Classic French Jacket class project, for I am featuring here a walking foot – an essential tool for quilting the lining and the fashion fabric in a Chanel-like jacket. (I am still sick, by the way, so forgive me any incoherence here) 

What makes this foot special is that it has its own feed dog to move the top layer of fabric. Usually, we would use only the machine’s own feed dog that moves fabric layers from underneath only.

It’s only logical that with slippery fabrics (like charmeuse, or crepe de chine used in Chanel suit lining), the upper layer would shift without additional feed. If you use a walking foot, both layers are moved at the same rate, preventing puckering and pleating of the fabric. 

I have never heard about the foot before the class, and thanks to Dawn (she was my classmate in the Classic French Jacket Class) I am now using it for all my silk / slippery fabric projects!

Prepare paying some $60 to $140 for this tool. And, beware, the ones available for less on eBay are often not original ones, so read the description carefully. (I am not sure they are bad - but I always try go for original tools if they are a little more complex than a sewing needle)

I am featuring here my Bernina foot, but there are quite a few other brands available on the market. Just check the website of your sewing machine manufacturer for the available accessories. 

Have you ever tried sewing with a walking foot? What other non-beginner, or relatively rare tools are you using in your sewing?

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