Friday, September 21, 2012

Mood Network: September project

No it's not finished yet. I haven't even started properly. I got this beautiful paisley (possibly Etro) at the Mood New York couple of weeks ago. It's a heavier weight wool, and the first thing I thought was a coat.  Then, I thought that would be too much paisley for me if I made a coat. It would be unworn most of the time.

Then I thought - a dress. There is some nice movement on this fabric and with some tweaking I could tailor a nice piece, but then I decided the fabric may be too heavy for a dress. 

Meanwhile, look what I unearthed from the Etro Fall 2006 collection:

I do like the jacket, and I am thinking whether I should just focus on this simple style. I just don't want to butcher the print and a simple jacket like this would work great with black pants or jeans (which I tend to wear a lot). It could work with silk prints, like on the image above... And, if I cut economically I may be able to make a pencil skirt as well. 

What's important is that this fabric is my Mood allowance for September. I need to make a decision and start working. Ok, there is no $100,000 prize on stake, and most likely I won't be eliminated, yet I want to have a wearable piece that I like and that reflects my style. So, I give myself another day to think it over and then I should start working. The fact is I need to finish it by next Sunday... yes 

any thoughts?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

On my wish list: new books about couture sewing

Ninety-one new books on sewing, readers!!! NINETY-ONE! It's not just a sewing revival, but a revolution! And what gems did I find among those ninety-one books.

She did it again! I am so glad there is now a book on tailoring by Claire Shaeffer. I have almost all her couture patterns, and I usually reference them for techniques, but it is so much easier to have it all in a book.


So, Couture Sewing: Tailoring Techniques, a 128-page publication with a DVD edition, will be released in February 2013. Of course, I am pre-ordering it now - just look at the description:

If you want your notched collars to lie smoothly, like Ellen Tracy's, or your buttonholes finished to custom-tailored perfection, or your interfaced hems to have the impeccable look of Chanel, this is the book to have.
Tailoring presents sewing methods used in the European ateliers of Paris, Rome, and London. Via the DVD, Shaeffer will instruct readers in essential techniques such as making a bound buttonhole, converting darts to ease, creating a patch pocket, interfacing a hem,  hand-stitching a fly zipper, and fitting sleeves. Where there is a trick or shortcut for a sewing method (without lowering the quality) Shaeffer demonstrates it, along with a host of more complicated tailoring techniques that improve the quality, looks, and lifespan of garments.  


My second pick, Vintage Couture Tailoring by Thomas von Nordheim, which has been released this month, may look more like a self-published book, but if you check it out more carefully you will notice that it  is written by a London-based expert in the field of tailoring and an experienced couture instructor. For several years Thomas von Nordheim worked at the last surviving great London couture house, Lachasse. When the house closed, Thomas established his own successful business offering tailoring to private clients. More information about the author is available on his website. Honestly, I would do anything just to have a little glimpse at couture tailoring techniques at Lachasse. The book is ordered and a review is pending, readers!
The trade secrets of couture tailoring are revealed—an invaluable guide for professionals and enthusiasts. Traditional tailoring has not changed for many centuries, however, the techniques are now known only by a few practicing in the best couture ateliers and bespoke tailor's workrooms. Nothing feels quite so luxurious as custom-made clothes, but the tailoring skills they require are often thought to be shrouded in mystery, and the clothes therefore only accessible to the rich and famous. 
This practical book brings vintage couture tailoring within everyone's reach. With step-by-step photographs and professional tips throughout, it shows how a lady's jacket is made and thereby introduces a range of fundamental tailoring techniques. These can be used for garments for either gender, as well as other sewing projects. The book discusses molding fabric to shape with the iron, employing loose interfacings, hollow shoulder construction, pad stitching canvas, interlining and weighting hems, making tailored and bound buttonholes, and more forgotten techniques.            
And, finally, this publication by Threads, Fitting for Every Figure. I have never been disappointed by any Threads book, really. And I am pre-ordering this one too. With the planned release on October 16, 2012, I won't have to wait too long for it to arrive. 
Fitting is the most in-demand topic for sewers. Whether you are a home seamstress or a professional designer, knowing how to create garments that fit every figure is essential. With Threads Fitting for Every Figure, the toughest fitting challenges are solved. This comprehensive sewing reference from the editors of Threads covers the basics of pattern fitting and includes easy-to-follow sewing techniques that are the hallmark of Threads magazine, a household name in garment sewing. With material appropriate for all skill levels, this book also offers solutions to intermediate-level fitting quandaries and advanced couture-level fitting techniques. Featuring 200 color photos and 100 illustrations, these pages cover everything from assessing your figure and working with patterns to fitting the bodice, fitting for pants and skirts, as well as specialty techniques. With more women learning to sew their own clothing and accessories, Threads Fitting for Every Figure is bound to be an instant classic.
I am off to rearrange my sewing books. I need more room for these goodies, so, stay tuned to some book giveaways in the near future :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Burdastyle September Challenge: A 3/4 sleeve wool top

It took me a while to select favorites from this month's Burdastyle magazine. I wanted something that complements my existing wardrobe, is easy to wear with casual pieces, but also easy to upgrade to an evening look. I did love the leather-trimmed lace skirt, but another skirt for the challenge would have been too much. My creative ache was relieved when I saw a Bottega Veneta ad in Elle Magazine.

This tailored black top looks so chic, but styling is the key, of course.  Long leather gloves, a large-scale brooch, pearl earrings, burgundy lipstick - it's all about a strong, self-confident woman.

This look immediately resonated with me - if I was still working in an office environment I would make several looks from this collection. I love tailored styles and I am a big fan of black. Actually, I am lucky since back in Georgia (Caucasus), where I come from, black is a part of the cultural identity, and now, here, in New York I can comfortably wear black again.

So, it was just natural that I could match that chic Bottega Veneta look with this 3/4 sleeve top in the September issue of Burdastyle magazine.

Amanda of Amanda's Adventures in Sewing, my fellow blogger in the Mood Sewing Network, has already reviewed this top. She made a black version as well, and thanks to her review I can see that I may want to fit it a little bit more, especially the sleeves, But otherwise, I love it.

As for the fabric, I will be using a woven (Amanda used a double-stretch wool). It is a beautiful wool from my stash, which I bought in Mood two years ago. I loved it so much that I got four yards, and now I am happy I did because I do want to make pants as well, but this is a when-I'll-have-time project.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Joining the Mood Sewing Network

This must be a week of new beginnings and I am so excited to be part of a new project launched this month by Mood Fabrics.  Mood has always been my go-to store for affordable high-quality designer fabrics, and now as a member of the new Mood Sewing Network. I will blogging once a month about my fashion sewing projects alongside an amazing group of bloggers of Amanda’s Adventures in Sewing, Diary of a Sewing Fanatic, Erica B's DIY Style, Ginger Makes, Goodbye Valentino, Miss Celie's Pants, Oonaballoona and Sew Well.

Each month Mood Fabrics will provide the Mood Sewing Network bloggers with an allowance for fabric that we can spend online at or in Mood NYC or LA stores. Each month we, in turn, will sew a garment with Mood fabrics and then blog about it on our blogs and the MSN webpage. Now, isn't it a great motivation to sew? Check out the first posts and add the site to your Google Reader.

Big thanks to Meg and to the Mood team for this amazing opportunity and an exciting project, which I hope you will all enjoy and support.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fabricaholics 12-Step Programme - Step 2: Organize your fabric

First and foremost: these tips are not intended to stop buying fabric. I don't want to cure my love for fabric. What I want is to stop buying fabric I don't need. Even the most beautiful fabric has little value if it is stored in a plastic container, without being used, for a year, two, or even longer. My fabric buying habits have improved since I joined the Simple Living Pledge a few months ago. Two most valuable principles I have adopted since then are decluttering and elevating experiences above possessions (that is sewing and wearing above fabric).

I am happy to say that my gigantic (for my standards) stash stopped growing since then. It is still large, but I was able to cut it down to certain extent. So, let's move to the next step.


  • Make an inventory of your fabric. Separate it into piles. But do not organize it by color - this may have some visual appeal, but it is less functional.  Organizing it by fiber content and type is much more helpful.
  • Get two bins, one for fabric that can be sold, another one for fabric you will donate. I discovered a bag full of synthetic linings, as well as few other synthetic fabrics which I no longer sew with. Two bags were delivered to Salvation Army. If this is an emotionally difficult process for you think why you haven't used a specific fabric, especially if it was in your possession for years. Your style may have changed since you got the fabric, or you might have found (and bought) a better piece for the same purpose...
  • Store you fabric so you can see it every time you sew. This way you will have a clear overview of what you have. It is important that your fabric is not exposed to the sun, so keep it away from the direct sunlight.

Let me show you my fabric stash (and I really don't claim that this is the best way to do it - it's just an example of what works for me). All fabrics are organized by content and/or weight or type.

Ok, it's not the prettiest sight, but I know what I have, and seeing this so often I keep this image in my head every time I go fabric/notions shopping (which happens at least once a month).

There is a basket on the top shelf - it is a box full of organza yardage, mostly in white, black and skin tone. I extensively use it for underlining and always have sufficient supply. (I put it into a lined basket because it is so slippery and impossible to keep in one place otherwise). If I spot a good deal on a good quality organza I buy it without feeling guilty. In the shelf compartment next organza there is silk charmeuse and silk crepe-de-chine - I use a lot of it for linings, lingerie or light-weight tops and blouses. 

Print silks are stored separately (you can see them under the basket) - I don't have many of those but I am always on a lookout for nice silk prints, which I also love to use for linings in jackets or coats. So this is another 'may buy'. 

Bouclés take up whole three compartments, so it reminds me that I have too many of those and however tempting, I won't buy bouclés during my next store visit. Also, medium and light-weight wools haven't been used much, so I am sticking to what I have for now. And I don't sew much with cotton... 

You get the idea.

I am not saying this system would work for everyone, but it worked for me. I spend much less on fabric. I see what fabrics I use most, and what fabrics I haven't touched in ages. So, if I shop for fabric, I go for those that I've been using more frequently.

That's it for the Step 2, readers! I have a few more tips and will post them regularly, but I also want to ask you to contribute. If you have good fabric management tips post them here and I will include them in my next post. Or, you may want to write a guest post on this topic - let me know at mvk(dot)fashion(at)gmail(dot)com

Related posts:

STEP 1: Hi, my name is Marina and I am a fabricoholic.
Five more signs that you are a fabricoholic

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Setting-in an in-seam godet, step-by-step

In this post I wanted to show how I set in an in-seam godet in my Burdastyle Godet Skirt.  To see the links to the other  godet skirt construction posts, scroll down to the end of the post.

Once set-in, the godet piece will look like on the image below.
in-seam godet finishing
  • The godet piece is inserted before the skirt pieces are sewn together. 
  • The godet is hemmed and the layers basted together as shown in the previous post and the image below: 
  • The tip of the godet and seamlines must be marked, as well as the match points on both skirt pieces where godet is inserted.  
Baste one vertical edge of the godet to the matching skirt piece. Stitch the godet and the skirt layers together starting at the hem. Reduce the stitch length closer to the tip. 

Repeat the same for the other side.

Trim the tip of the godet. Using a zipper foot (to avoid the bulk at the godet tip) stitch the skirt pieces together starting at exactly the match point at the tip and using short stitches.

I graded my seam allowances at this point.

Clip skirt seam allowances at the match point as close to the match point as possible. This will ensure that the seam allowances will not bulge and will lie flat.

Finish the edges. My personal preference is to catchstitch seam allowances to the underlining. I must say it would have probably be enough to use one row of catch stitches encasing seam allowances of both, the skirt and the godet pieces. As you see below, I got carried away here - always happens to me when I catch stitch.

I wish I had more pictures to show the work in progress - I realized it once I was typing this step-by-step. I will keep it in mind for the upcoming projects.

In the next post I will cover the use of the stay to stabilize the skirt shape. As always, let me know if you spot any inaccuracies, or have more helpful tips - I will be happy to add them to the post.

Related posts:

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Five more signs that you are a fabricoholic ( and a warning)

Who knew there are some raging fabricoholics among my readers! Seriously, look at this - five more signs you are a fabricoholic, all by you, readers.

WARNING: the following list features tricks performed either by professionals or under the supervision of professionals. Accordingly, Frabjous Couture and associated authors must insist that no one attempt to recreate any activity mentioned below
ok, here we go:

  • You avoid looking at your fabric stash because it reminds you how much you spent on some of your fabrics (Sewing Galaxy)
  • You know you have a problem, but don't want to be cured (mblow)
  • You believe fabricoholism is also a therapy and not only a disease (Marie)
  • You have a collection of Mood bags (free for purchase of over $50) (Anonymous)

and by far the canniest (You're good, you know who!)

  • You pay in cash to avoid your purchases showing up on your bank statement (Ginger Makes)

More about fabricoholics:
10 signs that you are a fabricoholic

Keep 'em coming, readers! 

10 signs that you are a Fabricoholic

Hi, my name is Marina and I am a fabricoholic.


Welcome to the Fabricoholics Anonymous (FA). I am making my first step towards addressing my fabric dependency issue -  I am admitting that I can leave a fulfilled life only if a have a significant fabric stash, and I am saying 'Yes' to most of the following statements:

  • The first place where you go after receiving your paycheck is a fabric store
  • Fabric store employees know you by name
  • You have a special discount in at least one fabric store
  • You hide your fabric purchases from your family
  • You run out of storage space for your fabrics 
  • You have a secret stash place
  • You bought the same fabric more than twice because you lost an overview of what you have
  • You are a big fan of sewing blogger meetups (aka fabric shopping sprees)
  • Your adrenaline skyrockets just from browsing online fabric stores. 
  • Parting with fabric (even if you are never going to use it) makes you feel sick. 

Do you recognize yourself as well? Well, then it's just about the time to join the club. Repost this list (I would appreciate if you link back to this post) and just admit your dependency. More to follow!

Look at those comments by you, I picked five more signs, and some are really smart...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Hemming a lined in-seam godet: a step-by-step tutorial

As promised here is a step-by-step tutorial for hemming an in-seam godet. I used Susan Khalje's tips she generously shared with me for my August Burdastyle couture challenge. This month I worked on a tweed skirt with an in-seam godet from Burdastyle magazine from August 2012.

Godet from the inside.  The form is held with the help of a powernet stay

  • Before you transfer your pattern and cut the fabric, add appr. 3 mm (1/8") to the length of the tweed piece at the hem (the fashion fabric) to turn it over for hemming. 
  • make sure you have at least one inch (2.5 cm) seam allowance, otherwise you will have very little allowance left to work with after the pieces were hang.
  • finally, it is essential to use extra fine silk pins if you are working with silk to avoid pin holes in the fabric.
  • to avoid permanent marks on silk, use fine silk thread and fine needles (I prefer Japanese). Test on a swatch first. If marks are visible after testing, remove the basting thread before pressing (thanks to Sewing Galaxy for reminding).

Hang both, the godet and the lining piece for a day or two so the vertical edges can stretch out. This will prevent stretching and fabric distortion after the godet was sewn. If you, like me, are working with tweed and charmeuse you will notice that charmeuse tends to stretch out more than tweed.

Retrace the pattern of the godet on the tweed piece using white chalk. Thread-trace if necessary (I do prefer to thread trace because the chalk will become almost invisible once you start pressing).

At this point I would also taper the top portion of the godet. Tapering vertical edges at the tip of the wedge is especially helpful if the godet is relatively wide, a quarter of a circle or more. The godet in this skirt was not as wide, but considering the weight of the fabric I wanted to reduce the bulk at the tip as much as possible. I measured down approximately 4” from the tip, then, took out ¼” on both sides of the wedge creating a slight inward curve on both vertical edges, gradually blending it with the original seamline on both sides. The vertical seams will curve in only on the top portion of the godet, blending in as they get closer towards the mid length. It is possible to make this step on the pattern and then cut accordingly, but I preferred to do it after hanging out the godet piece.

Align both godet pieces (tweed and charmeuse) along the grainline, then smooth out the lining over the tweed and carefully pin the two layers together from the grainline towards vertical edges.

Carefully turn over the two layers to baste them together. On the image below you can see that the stretched out lining is not trimmed yet.  I usually cut any excess fabric after stitching. Next, baste the rounded hem.

Stitch the fashion fabric and the lining and press the two layers from both sides to meld stitches. Fabric is much easier to manipulate if the stitches were set in (flat) on both sides. This is especially true if at least one of the layers is not a lightweight fabric.

Trim all the excess fabric leaving just 3/8" (slightly less than 1cm) seam allowance at the godet hem.

Thanks to Sewing Galaxy for reminding me to add the following information. It is also a good point to grade seam allowance, with the outermost layer having the widest seam allowance and the bottom layer - the narrowest. Start trimming the latter and move on to the outermost layer. I will add a quick how-to these days - there is definitely a need for a set f basic couture techniques tutes, which I can refer to in my posts. 

With the both layers still on the ironing board and the lining on the top, carefully turn over the lining so you can reach the seam with the iron tip. Carefully press the lining towards the hem seam allowance. This step will help set the hem curve of the godet, before you start clipping and turning it over.

This is how a portion of the godet hem looks like after it was pressed:

Lay the lining back over the tweed piece. It will look like on the image below:

It's time to clip the hem allowance. This technique is called staggering and it's used on curves. Essentially, you are not clipping both layers at the same time, but separately and at a distance.

Turn over the lining, folding in the tweed appr 2 mm (or 1/8") from the edge. It should look like on the image below.

STEP 10:
Finish the hem by pressing it and understitching to keep the seam allowance in place. Carefully realign the grainlines and vertical edges following the markings on your tweed piece and baste the two layers together.

The godet piece is now ready to be inserted into the skirt. 

Thanks for helpful comments on this post to:
  • Sewing Galaxy - (you will need Google translate to read her blog, but it's worth it!)

Please let me know if anything is unclear - I will be happy to edit the tutorial. In the next part I will cover how I inserted the godet into the skirt seam, and talk about the godet stay, a great technique I found in Threads archive. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Making of the Burdastyle Godet Skirt

Soaring temperatures and humidity in New York these past days are not particularly stimulating to start working on a fall wardrobe. I must admit, usually, fall pieces lounge on my work table waaay past winter months. So, actually, I am quite happy I had an early kick-start, and here is the latest project, made after a month-long holiday break.

With the help of Susan Khalje - founder of the Couture Sewing School, author of Bridal Couture, and contributing editor to Threads magazine - I made a couture version of the Godet Pencil Skirt from the August 2012 issue of burda style magazine.

The project (which is also a of my couture wardrobe challenge on  is relatively easy – a straight skirt with an in-seam godet. I like this small detail, which adds playfulness to the otherwise formal style. Besides, I am sure I will get a lot of wear out of this skirt. But what’s in it for you, readers? Well, I chose this style for the challenge because of the godet and all the related construction, which can sometimes be really tricky.

Wool tweed was my choice for the style, so I decided to line the skirt for the wearing comfort. I underlined all sections, except for the godet, in China silk (sometimes also called silk habotai). As lining I chose silk charmeuse, my favorite to line wool as it makes it feel very soft and drapey from the inside. Finally, I used a small piece of powernet for a godet stay. I was lucky to source all fabrics at Mood - it saved a lot of time and legwork.


Because godets are usually cut on straight grain, the vertical edges of the wedge will always have some degree of bias. This requires careful handling to avoid fabric distortion.

“When inserting a godet,” Susan explained, “I always like to let it hang out – there are almost always off-grain edges there, so they’ve got to relax before things are sewn in place. I’d just hang it from the tip for a day or two, let it stretch out – same with the lining – then sew them together.”

After two days, the vertical edges on the lining stretched out almost an inch forming a heart-shaped wedge, while the tweed hardly stretched out at all. If you worked with bias before you would probably just shrug your shoulders, but I always get excited about the results imposing my observations on my family as a dinner conversation topic…okay, back to the godet. I retraced both pieces aligning lengthwise grains. Underlining was skipped to reduce bulk, especially at the top of the godet piece.


I hemmed godet before assembling the skirt. “Godets are always tricky to hem nicely – it’s hard to get a pretty curve, so, stitching them at the lower edge solves that problem,” Susan suggested. “Sew the hemline of the godet to the hemline of the lining – clip and press the seam allowances towards the lining; then press the folded edge. That way, the curved edge of the godet is nicely taken care of. Baste the vertical seams of the two layers together (make sure there won’t be any shifting) and then insert them.”


If the godet is relatively wide, a quarter of a circle or more, I would also taper the vertical edges at the tip of the wedge. The godet in this skirt was not as wide, but considering the weight of the fabric, I wanted to reduce the bulk at the tip as much as possible. I measured down approximately 4” from the tip, then, took out ¼” on both sides of the wedge, gradually blending it with the original seamline on both sides. It is possible to make this step on the pattern and then cut accordingly, but I preferred to do it after hanging out, retracing and hemming on the final godet piece. If you do it the same way as me, make sure you adjust your seamline markings accordingly and sew along the new tapered line.


Godet stay is the final detail of couture engineering I wanted to cover. The magazine describes it as lining, and the original instruction calls for a wedge that is only slightly narrower and shorter than the godet piece. “It’s really more of a stay to keep the skirt shape than to tame the godet,” Susan explained. “Maybe if the narrower ‘lining’ wasn’t there the skirt would lose it’s pencil skirt-like shape. You could do that in addition to lining the godet.”

I found some information on the construction of godet stays in a Threads magazine article on Hillary Clinton’s 1993 inaugural gown (Threads, Issue 51, February/March 1994). As one of the construction secrets, the author explains the use of a spandex insert to control a fish-tail godet in the back of Clinton sheath skirt.

Using stretchy fabric for the stay is a perfect solution: it controls the figure-hugging shape, but, at the same time, allows for movement. I made my stay from a nylon powernet and sewed it by hand to the godet piece. The stay is 5” long and 3” wide. Following Susan’s advice, I pressed all seam allowances towards the skirt, so they were all covered up once the skirt lining was sewed in.


Since I covered a lot of couture finishing techniques in my previous posts, I will only show the details that are different here. I didn’t use the ease pleat to hem lining, but sewed it edge-to-edge using tiny fell stitches.

Finally, as a personal preference, I decided to go for a faced waistband – a technique I learned from Claire Shaeffer’s Couture Sewing Techniques, Revised and Updated (p. 111). The waistband is faced with the same lining fabric as the skirt and feels great against the skin.

I am really happy with the skirt and can’t wait for the fall to start wearing it. My favorite feature is the godet and the contrasting bright lining, which does show off when I sit. That’s it – no boring tweed pencil skirts this year!

BurdaStyle Godet Skirt: Finished!

I've been practicing posing in front of tripod this morning, readers. Seriously, at times it felt pretty silly, and I shot 300 pictures, running to the ironing board several times, readjusting hair etc etc. At the end, I just started moving and playing with the godet in front of the camera, and those are by far the best pictures I think (not with regard to the quality). I think they show how the skirt moves, and this was the most important thing to me. As for photographs - I am practicing and I promise you they will get better.

Since I made this skirt for my Burdastyle Couture Challenge, an overview post appeared there, which I will repost shortly. As for step-by-step tutorials I've included the links at the end of the post. Please forgive me if I am slow (my scalloped dress and the beaded skirt are not forgotten either) - family is my priority right now.

Add caption
So, a few words about the skirt. I love the flirty godet, which breaks up the otherwise formal (=dull) tweed skirt. And, if it was not enough, I added the contrasting lining. The color picks some threads in the tweed - you can see it below. All fabrics are from Mood, bought a while ago. The yellow china silk was used as underlining, and the raspberry charmeuse for the lining.

The lining again :)

first efforts to take pictures, I am staring at some UFO.

'Tortured by Tripod'
Not looking at the tripod anymore - it works!

Ok, I could not resist showing you the lining again, I really love the contrast. Check out my BurdaStyle post for the construction overview.

Related posts:

Love you!


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