Sunday, November 27, 2016

Yay! Back to sewing!

And it's a dress! Well, sort of. Or is it a jumper?

This pattern has been seducing me since I first laid eyes on it.  First, I thought the proportions could work well for a petite, shorter person. And you know how I love to mix patterns. BTW, Kenneth King has an interesting article on Pattern Mixing in the latest Threads. 

I will be doing View C which has a solid back, not the strappy back. The strappy back is just too too, at least for me.  I want this to be something I can wear to work with a black tee or such and some black boots. 
A few words about this pattern: Two weeks ago my husband and I drove for seven hours to the Cape to attend a wedding and see our big family. For two of those hours I read and reread this pattern. It looks complicated but if it is broken down and planned out it is quite easy. There are no zippers, buttons, topstitching , etc. It is all pretty straight sewing. But it IS challenging. The challenges are getting the right mix of fabrics in the right combination and fitting. Once that is settled is is all straight sewing.


Whew, those dots are making me dizzy! I have four fabrics, a solid black rayon ponte with a nice drape, a deep cherry red piece of patterned slinky whose color I adore, a knit rayon polka dot and a sheer black point d'esprit mesh knit.  


They are all very drapey but similar in weight and stretch so it should work. The black mesh will be underlined with a layer of the polka dot. Next came planning out what pieces got which fabric. I've always been good at holding color and design in my head so I didn't bother with sketching but I would recommend it if you are thinking of this pattern. Many of the sewists on PR that reviewed this pattern found the sketching very helpful to keep track of what went where. There are 14 pattern pieces! I have a notebook that I used to keep track of my choices.  Next came the fitting.

Again, Pattern Review was very helpful with fitting advice and I highly recommend you visit the reviews if you plan to make this garment. Cocosloft and Star G  have great versions and there are several others as well. Just search Vogue 9108. You will see many people have taken out some of the incredible fullness in this design. First, all that knit will be quite heavy and will pull on the simple bodice, not nice. Next, the amount of volume is HUGE. One sewist took out 58 inches from the hem width ! I wanted a compromise between the two options so took out a total of 24 inches from the skirt width. Keep in mind these are odd fitting pieces so this fit part is pretty challenging. I decided to go with a size Medium with the theory that I could take out any more if needed. It is hard to tell what is needed when it is just in cut form. I tissue fitted the muslin on my form but that wasn't much help. I am so not a tissue fitter!  I can easily adjust the seams if needed so I will stay with the larger than usual size.

If you look at the models on the pattern cover, the bodice appears snug and I am guessing  is pinned in the back for the photo. But if you look at the completed garments on PR, the bodices seam much fuller with a deeper armhole and wide bodice. Some made alterations to use this as a sleeveless dress by raising the whole dress through the straps. By using the larger size I can decide if I want to have a loose or snug bodice. Not sure yet!


One thing to be aware of, which the photo above shows, is that the pockets are rather "kangaroo" and do not fit the garment flatly.  They "hang". They are deliberately wider then the piece they are attached to. This made altering a little tough. In the end I got it done. I took one inch out of the bodice all around and may shorten the the other bands as well. Not sure yet. So 24 inches removed from the width from various pieces and so far one inch from the length. I am not taking out more due to the shoulder strap issue which will become more obvious as to why later on.

The pattern calls for no interfacing but  Step 1 tells you to interface the " pockets, Pocket edges on side front and upper edge with fusible tricot interfacing." Luckily I had some in black on hand So be aware you may need interfacing which is not spec'd on the back of the envelope.  I would at the least interface all the pocket edges no matter the fabric.

So much about the fit will be dealt with as the pieces go together. Hopefully that will work out.


Before I started cutting out I made a pile of each fabric and then put the pieces to be cut out in that fabric on tope. I would have gone crazy otherwise.


Next was time to mark. But first I hand basted the black mesh to the polka dot bodice front. For the rest of the marking I thread marked with different colors for circles, squares, etc. I wrote the legend down on the pattern in case I forget.


Once everything was altered, cut out and marked, I made new piles. Once you are ready to sew this pattern is it quite simple. You put the fron together, then the back, then add the sides and done. So I made piles for front, back and sides of all the pieces needed. Whew, I think I am finally ready to put this under the needle! That probably won't happen till next weekend but I really feel the worst is behind me. Fingers crossed.

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I hope all who celebrate had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day filled with bounty and surrounded by friends and family. We were blessed to share in the spirit of the day with our oldest daughter and her family over a long weekend. The kids made igloos out of the twenty inches of snow that fell earlier and had a great time. Friday evening we went to the new micro brewery that has opened in our little village. One of our blessings is incredible water and made this the perfect spot for a brewery. It is a gorgeous property and lots of fun to visit and share a beer. Here are DD and I sharing a sampler. 











Sunday, November 6, 2016

Sophie's Mini NCW, my #5!


At this point all of my grandchildren have had bags made for them in the past couple months. The one above, which I think is my favorite so far, is for Sophie, a fashion conscious 11 year old young lady. I have learned that girls her age are really into small bags with cross body straps. I provided both the cross body strap as well as the wristlet strap.


The camera is playing tricks making that wristlet strap look extra long. It's not. The mini is quite small, about five and a half inches across.

I've reviewed a mini and the NCW before and you can read that here: NCW

Here's the deets on this one, which really is my favorite of all.



Fabric:

The print fabric is a 100% cotton from the quilting area at Joanns. It is the same fabric used in the Stella Weekender diaper bag I just finished. The print is used for the lining, flap and straps. For the body of the little bag I used a faux leather in black, the same that I used in the Boy Bags.



The hardware is from Emmaline bags.

Interfacings used were  non-fusible  Peltex, SF101 from Pellon and Decor Bond. All were purchased at Joanns using their coupons. I am now buying this by the bolt on those big discount days.

Pattern:

The pattern used is the Necessary Clutch Wallet from Emmaline Bags, better known as the NCW. There is a mini version available and this is  the second mini I have made. My first was scaled wrong, my own printing error but this one was "juuuust right" as Little Red Riding Hood says. It was a tad larger than my first and I was thankful for that. It's really important with these small items to get the scale right. Measuring is done every step of the construction in order to stay on track and when half way completed I figured out the error on Carly's bag. I had to fudge to finish hers but this one was spot on with the proper scaling.  The straps and wristlet were not in the original pattern but there is info in the files on the NCW Facebook page. That includes measurements.

The pattern for the mini is an add on to the original NCW and as such only contains that which makes it different from the larger pattern. The directions are very clear despite them being written by someone other than the original designer. The mini pattern is with her blessing and featured on the Emmaline website. You will definitely  need the original NCW pattern as well as the Mini add on to get this done.

Construction:

I'll just deal with the differences from the big NCW here.


I have found it very helpful to mark the centers of all pieces of this little bag. It will definitely help you as with an item this small accuracy is critical. The mini directions for the zipper pocket simply refers you to page 6 of the bigger bag's directions for the zip pocket. No measurements were given. With the help of those on the FB NCW page I cut my zipper to 5 1/2 inches and proceeded from there. This does have the card slots of the original, but that's something you could certainly eliminate if you think a child won't need them. I kept them in mine as I think they give a "grown up" note to the bag. On the pleats above you can see the Chicago screws  being used. They are so much easier than rivets and far more fool proof, IMO. I probably could do better with rivets if I had the professional punch, etc but I just didn't want to invest in that.


The turn lock is attached with tiny little philips head screws. I had one of that type of screw driver and it has disappeared since a couple weeks back. So I ordered this pack from Amazon of tiny little screwdrivers. I highly recommend if you are going to be using more than an occasional turn lock. Lots of bag hardware has these tiny screws, and whew, they are tiny.

This is the set I got from Amazon. It cost seven dollars and change and is Prime. Well worth it.

You can also see in the bag above I did not top stitch the flap. I simply forgot and when I noticed it I decided I liked it and have left it that way. Out of all the NCWs I've seen, they've all been topstitched. I like this one without.

The flap and body have Peltex interfacing. The lining is all fused with SF101 but I think next time I will used Decor Bond for the  zip pocket. The straps are fused with Decor Bond and fusible fleece. ALL interfacing has the seam allowances cut out, critical! The side pleat area has SF101 on the exterior faux leather. It is cut separately from the bag interfacing so the SAs could be removed. That really made the bulkiest area much easier to deal with. The bag has a really nice heft to it and I like that.

Conclusion:

This is my most favorite NCW yet and it is Number Five! I do hope Sophie likes it. It won't be my last to make either as these make great gifts. Keep in mind, this is not a quickie gift and definitely takes focus and a few "tricks". I highly recommend.

If this dress is looking a bit large for my size, it is. It was a gorgeous find, size large, from the thrift this week. Lots of fabric and I already have plans for it......................Bunny


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Photo Shop, anyone?


Some of you may remember that I took a photography course this past Spring and Summer. The goal was to get knowledgeable about what my new DSLR could do. It was a wonderful class with a very good teacher and professional photographer. You may have seen his pictures, actually. Do you remember this big prison escape that took place here last year, the two brutal murderers who were out on the loose in Northern New York? As Fate would have it, our teacher, Jon, lived right in the thick of it all and his home is right next to the camp where one of the prisoners was finally shot dead. Since journalists  were not let in and out of the zone, Jon was able to  cut a deal with CNN and provided many of the photos you saw, and definitely the best photos.

While we learned about ASA and exposures and much more, John also taught us a bit about Photoshop. I loved that part of the class. It felt very creative to me. It felt like learning magic. I had a photo editing program on my computer already but this was an entirely different level of manipulation. Above you can see a picture I took of my youngest grandson, Zack, It started out as a full length picture of him on the couch watching TV. I cropped it down and then started playing with filters. I really love how it came out because it depicts the softness and sweetness that is Zack. The editing emphasizes what I want you to know about Zack.

Lately there has been much discussion on sewing forums about using Photo Shop. It is certainly used by the Big Four pattern companies and also by Indie pattern makers.

New patterns are released with their best faces forward. I get that. But in some circumstances patterns are released with grand excitement and they haven't been photo shopped. They arrive on the scene, warts and all. I appreciate the honesty of this as it lets me, the consumer, decide if this is the pattern for me. As far as putting out a photo shopped version of a new design, I get that too. Companies are in business and like everything else that is sold in the universe, you have to sell the "sizzle." A great looking garment on an attractive model sells. We all want to look like her. even if only on a subconscious level.

This does sound contrary, doesn't it? It isn't. Both sides of the photoshop/non photoshop argument have value. But,,,,and you knew there was a but.....what of announcing a new design and then with great fanfare putting up the non photo shopped version? OK, I think that's fine. But,,,,,when the complaints come in regarding the product,,, then putting out a photoshopped version to make it now seem just fine? For me there is a dishonesty in that decision that is an affront to potential and past buyers.

For the record, I pride myself on this blog on showing REAL sewing, the kind that can bring out seam rippers on a regular basis. Do I PS? I think it is important to let my readers know my policy. You deserve to know.  Anyone publishing on the web should do likewise but that's just my personal opinion .

I do photoshop, but it is never to change my figure, make me look younger, or make a garment fit better. For one, I haven't developed that much skill yet. But you know those cute boy bags in the last post? The one with the black border had maybe three little white spots of lint. Drove me nuts. I PS'd them out.  I will do that, what we call "clean up." I will also, but not often, erase extraneous distractions. A classic example is a picture of the bridal couple with a tall, skinny tree growing out of the bride's head. I will brighten, increase contrast, and saturate color to provide you with more detail. I really appreciate seeing detail on people's garments and am glad if they manipulate the pic to show that better. That's what I do, not more , not less. I want you to see the details, good or bad, not have a picture with distractions, and have an honest assessment of fit and design lines.  That's my policy and if it changes I will let you know. Do you edit/photo shop your pictures at all? How do you feel about what your purchasing being a PS'd image?  If I learned anything in my photography class it is to never trust any photo again.  EVERYTHING can made to look better and usually is. Our teacher gave us some incredible examples. What really bugs me about this pervasive  PSing is that we do end up with a perfect vision, a virtual non reality of womanhood. Can we really get a garment to fit that perfectly? Right out of the envelope?  Frankly,  I detest that this perfected vision is out there in so many genres for younger girls to see. It  objectifies women. One of my guilty pleasures is reading the NY Times. I savor their magazine each Sunday. While the pages are saturated with fashion ads showing womanhood in amazing unattainable perfection, the NYT staff photographers can be brutally honest and can show the the true beauty of a person in breathtaking reality. I love seeing men and women shown in this very real way. They are so innately beautiful. Sigh.....

Thanks for letting me share my philosophy and opinions regarding this subject. Thanks for any input.  I want you to know what you are getting here....Bunny