Monday, December 31, 2012

Peter Piper Pleated Plaid Pants

Peter Piper didn't really pleat my plaid pants but I think I shall pick a peck of pickles anyways.  

These are my lightweight wool pants inspired by the Ralph Lauren fall collection.  I use the word "inspired" loosely because I really just copied them.  I ordered the fabric a few months ago after seeing the pants on the Ralph Lauren website.

I used the pants pattern that I have adjusted and changed to fit perfectly every time.  I love the pattern because it has a yoke and not a waistband.  I also put a side zipper in this pair of pants.

I added an extra large pleat at the waist by redrawing the pattern on some grid paper.   I traced one side of the pattern  and then slid it over 3" and traced the other side.

Problems?  Well, I pressed the pleats to the hem and then hated them.  I like the soft pleat instead.  I also didn't like the way the pleat looked coming out of the yoke, so I added a belt loop with a large button.
The pants are navy and green, the buttons are black. I'm still not too sure about my button choice but I used what I had in my button drawer.  I will wait a few weeks and if they still bother me, I will switch them.

I had the vest in my closet, given to me from someone who found it at a second hand store.  I switched the buttons and I think it turned out to be a smart pairing with the pants.

A sharp look for a math teacher...
Yes.  Especially if I wear my glasses and carry a yardstick!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

My My, Missoni-Style

My My, Missoni-Style

Found in my stash was a lovely piece of chevron fabric that I bought while shopping with my Mom in Las Vegas.  I love fabric shopping with my Mom.  I remember when the big department store sold fabric and my Mom bought me a piece of burgundy plaid wool when we went to the city for my annual check-up.  I was so excited to get home and match those plaids!  I still get just as excited about fabric shopping with Mom.  I can only allow myself to buy one or two pieces that I adore.  I then fly back to Alaska, notebook in hand, sketching my plans for the fabric on the plane ride home.  I have many sketches of what I would make for this chevron fabric.  One of them is shown below.

One of my sketches 
A sleeveless dress was appealing, but I seem to always fall back to the sleeveless dress, so I decided to go with an unlined, tight sleeve and a scoop neckline.  Not quite like the sketch.

A few of the challenges/considerations for this dress:
  • The chevron ran lengthwise on the fabric but I wanted it to go across the dress.
  • The fabric is a sweater knit and must be lined.
  • The fabric had a lovely finished selvage that called out to be used on the dress.

I decided to use princess seams, keeping the panels narrow and sewn to a lining. The lining would help keep the fabric from sagging as a result of cutting it across the grain.  I used a lovely piece of ivory Sophia knit.  The fabric has a wonderful weight, keeps it's shape and is so comfortable.  I adore this fabric from and have pieces in a variety of colors.  I was able to line up the hem of each piece with the edge of the fabric to take advantage of the lovely selvage. It also is at the hem of the sleeves.

Just a hint of sparkle

A close up of the neckline.

 The remaining selvage went along the neckline.  I embellished the neckline with some flat black seed beads and a smokey crystal.  The beads matched the threads, so the effect is very subtle but gives just a hint of sparkle.  A necessary detail, of course!

A simple dress, with a perfect fit. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Too much sparkle? Impossible!

A Little Sparkle!

In my stash, I had a variety of sparkly knit that was supposed to become a mermaid costume.  I never got the inspiration to figure out the costume details (like how to make the tail walk-able but still tapered as a tail).  As a result, the fabric just hung there.   After observing that people often wear black to parties,  I decided to stand out at the new year's eve party this year by making a sparkly dress.

 The fabric is light-weight knit with little dots glued on it.  The machine needle will pierce the dots but there are some issues to consider:

-Glue from the dots will gum up the needle.
-Pressing the fabric could result in a melted mess.
-The fabric may buckle when sewing pieces.

I tested some pieces first and found that a warm iron that briefly and lightly touched the fabric was enough to heat the dots and help them to bend to lay flat.
I also could clean the needle often to help it sew successfully.

I sewed many strips together with varied widths using my serger.  The long strips sewed together nicely at first but by the end, the feeding was irregular and rippled.  I tried to control the feed by holding each layer separately with my fingers as they fed through. I gently pressed each seam.  I decided that the best way to construct the dress would be with princess seams. This would shorten the width of the sections and they would be secured to a lining, helping them to lay smooth.   I used some black swimsuit fabric for the lining.  This worked nicely.

I love piping AND I wanted the dress to match my new black shoes.  So I used piping to accent the side front and side back seams.  I also used it to finish the arm holes and neck.  I hand sewed the piping seam allowance to the lining, so it cleaned up the edges nicely. I didn't need a zipper, since it is a stretchy dress.  I sewed seam tape at the hem and hand-stitched it to the lining.

A photo of the dress at the New Year's Party...

with my new shoes, on their very first outing!

Friday, December 28, 2012

A New Year-A New Challenge

I can't sit still and I can't seem to control my need to purchase just one more piece of fabric if it is a good price.  I also can't throw away scraps.  The result, as you can guess, is a sewing room that is full!  I have pieces of fabric on shelves, in drawers, in baskets, hanging over the door.  Frankly, it is a wee bit embarrassing!  This challenge is designed to break me of the compulsion to purchase a piece of fabric.  It will also challenge me to find some innovative ways to use those scraps (this will be fun).

Day 1 will begin today...December 28, 2012. 

I knew this day was approaching since I committed to this challenge about a week ago.

My first reaction-"cool"  "great"  "what a good idea"

My second reaction-" oh no, what if I don't have lining fabric to finish the things I am making!"  "I have to buy some fabric before Day 1-just things that I know I will need"

So I went to and bought some lining fabrics to match a few pieces of wool that I currently have and then I threw in another piece of wool, just for fun.  Whew!

Christmas arrived and I received a pair of Louboutin shoes from my husband, outrageous!  Considering that I make all of my clothes, use every scrap, buy fabric on sale, am very practical...this gift was so unbelievable!  What was I to do?  I had to make sure I had some black fabric to make something to go with those shoes (everything looks great with those shoes, however).  So I headed back to
With a coupon and plenty of good prices, I ordered a few pieces of fabric.  

Now my stash was even bigger!  

Last October, I did the Whole30 challenge.  Eating clean for 30 days.  The night before I started, I ate plenty of bread, drank some wine and ate my fill of cheese.  Since I wouldn't eat them again for 30 days, I just had to do it.  Well, I think that same thing just happened with my fabric purchases.  After 30 days, I felt fantastic, had better control over my food choices and didn't want cheese anymore.  I wonder how 365 days of no fabric purchases will change me.  My prediction?  I will be more careful about planning my purchases, finishing the project before starting another.  Or at the very least, I will have drawers that are easier to open!

3-2-1 Go!