Monday, August 25, 2014

Me-Made-Monday 7: A new silk top

"Cock your hat - angles are attitudes" 
- Frank Sinatra.

I love the new hat top, and it is my newest make as well... Ahem,.. this hat is my new favourite, readers. I bought it on my holiday in Vienna and it is an original Panama hat, made in Ecuador. With temperatures still at soaring 40C (105F), it is a true life saver. The best is, once inside a building you can roll it and store in a small bag!

I'll add a few words about the top. I should, really. It is a Burdastyle pattern #111 07/2014, a  relatively simple inverted trapezoid with 'split sleeve'. I used french seams, bias binding for the neckline, couture version of the bound slit for the neckline opening (I could not resist), and a narrow machine hem for the hem and sleeves. The neckline slit was not really necessary since the neckline is wide enough, but I just went with the pattern. The top can be sewn in less than half a day, and even faster if you omit the slit. I used a better quality silk charmeuse from my stash (!!!!); I bought it four years ago at Michael's Fabrics in Baltimore.

You may recognize the skirt, another relatively recent make.


A close-up of the neckline and sleeve finishing - I will be posting more construction details in a separate post.

Finally, thanks to the following fabulous ladies for sharing their makes last week. Real bombshells, readers - check out their makes!

Jenny of Cashmerette, rocking a Bombshell swimsuit!

Clio of Clio & Phineas, rocking her second (!) Bombshell and a 26-week pregnant belly! Clio, congratulations!

Kristin of Sunny Sewing, with her version of Plantain and Thurlows! 

By the way, I was just thinking that we sewersists developed an amazing new language that no sane person can understand. I was showing to my husband the latest me-made links: "This is Clio - she hacked another bombshell, and Kristin, who cracked Thurlows..."   -     ..?  ....

... and, finally, the amazing Rhonda of Rhonda's Creative Life with A The Perfect Travel Dress.

"Oh frabjous girls! Calloh! Callay!
She chortled in her joy

Ok, here is the next linky party, ladies! 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sewing with CADRUS: Four designer dresses

I am driven by scents, readers. This morning I woke up very early, around 4 am. As I was getting water for my coffee from near the kitchen window, a drift of a heady scent came from outside... it was a fragile jasmine tree that grows next to the kitchen wall... I love those mornings when it is still dark outside, but the air is so pure and light that you can smell the plants talking. This reminded me of John Galsworthy's The Japanese Quince, a short story that describes an early spring morning scent that took by surprise some rather boring English businessmen. Wonderful little story that makes me smile every time I read it.

Forgive me, readers, for this lyrical deviation. That jasmine got me )... Yesterday, I received the most recent issue of my most favourite Atelier (Ателье) magazine , which is a Russian-language edition of Rundschau magazine published by Mueller & Sohn.  The editions are mostly different with regard to the content. The articles in the Russian edition are written by Russian authors mostly, and it seems they got some great agreements with designers in the west. Almost every issue features a case study on drafting a pattern, or draping, of a piece by prominent designers. These case studies are presented by CADRUS, a Russian information technology company related to Mueller & Sohn, which caters for fashion industry and runs a large education centre.  

Last four issues, for example, offered step-by-step pattern drafting for these garments:

Christian Dior, Resort 2014

Prabal Gurung, Fall 2013

Oscar de la Renta, Resort 2014

Roland Mouret, Pre-Fall 2013

Each dress is really unique and it would be fun to try to recreate all of them. If I'll have some time in the near future I will probably consider the Christian Dior or the Prabal Gurung dress, depending on the season. In fact I do need another cocktail dress, and what makes it even easier is that in the most recent issue included a pattern sheet for all four dresses. The patterns are available in two sizes only, so, if I will make them, I will need to measure them very carefully and then off to muslin. I feel lucky

What about you? If you had to choose a dress for a special occasion, which one from these four would it be? and why? 

To-do list: a Eugenia Kim skirt

I just recently came across clothes designed by a promising young fashion designer from Russia Eugenia Kim. Korean by heritage and only 22-year old, she managed to produce a fun and original collection. In this interview (unfortunately, only in Russian) you can see a slideshow of her latest creations - very refreshing.

And while I am not a 17 to 28-year girl (her target customer), I do think I can pull off the skirt below. This cut out image from the August Russian Elle magazine is pasted in my agenda. Pasting inspiration pieces on used pages of my agenda is one of my favourite activities if I wake up too early. I cup of coffee, paper scissors and life is beautiful in an instant.

Don't you love those bound buttonholes? Fun, fun, fun piece that screams Iris Apfel, who is Eugenia Kim's inspiration by the way. As for my learning adventure, that's a good opportunity to try and compare new bound buttonhole techniques!

Who/what has inspired you lately?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Me-Made-Monday 6: A beach dress and another linky party

I have really managed to sew a knit garment. It was an epic fail, but I managed to wear it once last week. A beach dress based on a Burdastyle pattern something as trivial as a rectangle. Made in viscose jersey (which I bought as a test material for sewing with knits), it looked good when I just put it on... 

- I am glad we made pictures before we went out, so I can prove that the fit was ok. Sorry for the messy background - the garden suffered a little while we were on holiday.

...the back was a bit loose, but bearably loose, just good for a beach dress. And I thought, if it bothers me I could chop off some fabric from one edge...

... I am soo lucky I had this belt on, because the moment I came back home and took it off, the back dropped like a jaw and I was dragging an ever increasing train of viscose jersey behind me. 

A question to you, readers? What did I do wrong??? I have no idea! I finished all the edges with coverlock stitch. Was I supposed to stabilize the top edge? I really didn't expect this to stretch thaaat much!  

And for those more confident sewers, here is the most recent linky party. Post your last week's me-made wear!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Visit to Komolka in Vienna and no Me-Made-Monday this week

I missed the Me-Made-Monday post yesterday due to a minor holiday injury. So here I go with a Terribly-Sorry-Tuesday post. My daughter had a nail injury and we spent the entire afternoon in a hospital in Vienna, where we are spending the second half of our holidays. Luckily it's all over now, except that she won't be able to enjoy the next three weeks at the beach or pool back home in Cyprus.

Well, the worst is over and we will be flying back in a couple of days, and the following days she will be occupied with final arrangements for her 5th birthday. She was born end of July, but I cannot deprive her of a birthday party with her friends, who are usually away during the hot summer months. A piñata will be constructed (a party theme has been changed several times already :) and kid snacks and party activities will be prepared. In one word, we will try to give her a fun memory to hold on to.

Back to the blog, I haven't sewn for two weeks and miss it immensely! On the other hand, last week I finally went to Komolka,  the only my favourite fabric store in Vienna. I bought knits and stretch cottons (no unplanned purchases, readers!), which are hard to come by in Cyprus. The three-floor store is great, although it has no real competition in the city. The ground floor has all the sales and new season fabrics, which are neatly laid and organised on special tables by colour theme, so finding a suitable hue is very easy. This year, I spotted so many flower prints in piques, jacquards, complemented by boucles, of which they got amazing variety, ooh. Here are the prints I bought

Crazy, really, and I have no idea what I am going to make with them, but I just could not pass. I am glad  I am not living in Vienna, as my stash would grow again, mostly with fabrics that I have not a slightest idea what to do with.

The Van Gogh flowers is I believe viscose jersey, stretchy but resistant. If you got ideas, please do share. It is only 1.2m long, and 1,4m wide (60"), and on the top it has a large section with a simple blue background.

The other fabric (on the right) is a stretch cotton (1,8m). It's probably best suited for a figure hugging dress or shirt, but, again, I am speechless. What was I thinking? Oona to the rescue!!!

These first-floor fabrics, on the other hand, are my cup of tea. Unfortunately, the iPhone image doesn't reflect the beauty of these pieces... They got a large room with a bridal section and mostly white and cream laces, and also a large section of coloured laces, all organised on separate tables. I remember struggling with finding coloured quality lace in New York, but here it is all available.

I didn't buy a single cut of lace this time - still got enough at home, and, besides, found a wonderful Armenian vendor in Cyprus who sells end cuts of finest Solstiss lace.

Finally, I visited a pattern section in the store, where I could had to enjoy a cup of vending-machine coffee while browsing through new pattern books of the Big 4 and Burda. I liked quite a few patterns I didn't buy at the end because the price in Europe is very restrictive, since they don't offer discounts and sales on patterns like in the US. A Vogue pattern costs somewhere between 20 and 30 euro. Will rather invest this money in fabric and look for patterns on eBay.

I got to finish here and will be back to blogging on Friday, in a familiar environment and with more convenient tools. Meanwhile, if you got any tips for those stretchy prints, please do share! Did I tell you, by the way, that I got only little no experience sewing knits. The only time I worked with knits is when hemming my daughter PE pants. I got a plan I have no idea where to start, but more about it on in my next post... Thanks!

Monday, August 11, 2014

My top five+ Craftsy sewing courses and a 50% sale

Dear readers, these two days are one of the very few opportunities when you can get all Craftsy classes at up to 50% discount, and so I thought I'd share my favourites with you - maybe it'll help you with some options.


(NEW) Couture Dressmaking Techniques, with Alison Smith - these class is great for anyone who wants to learn and practice individual techniques. Besides the repetitive obligatory muslin and underlining you learn quite a few interesting techniques, such as balanced darts, contoured darts, working with princess seams and boning, as well as good habits like securing threads, marking and many more. Some of the techniques are shortcuts: I would not consider rigilene boning as a worthy couture notion. Sorry for the haughty couture talk here but why use rigilene if spiral steel boning is so much more comfortable. To round up, this class is a great foundation for anyone who wants to sew a special occasion garment, or add some power to more casual projects.

(NEW) Couture Finishing Techniques, with Alison Smith - another great class by the same instructor where she shows hand stitches she uses in her couture projects, seam finishes, zipper tips and tricks, buttonholes, hand-rolled hems, horsehair braid hem, interfaced hem and so on.  Again, some of the techniques are more of a high-end RTW, and some things, such as triangle buttonholes seem to be a space filler, but most of the content is great. The best, Ms. Smith also shows a vintage couture Dior dress and the finishing details, oooh....

The Couture Dress, with Susan Khalje - is a classic. Excellent course with great teaching. It is a pity that's the only Susan's class on Craftsy. Her own classes have just launched on her website but cost much more.


All five classes (yes, already five!) here are taught by Suzy Furrer, who was trained by the same patternmaker as Kenneth D. King. It is a true pattern making university! Of course, you'll have to fine tune your initial sloper through muslin making and fitting sessions, but the sloper is not why I recommend this series. What you learn is design in modular sections, creating numerous variations based on your foundation pattern. So, if you wanted to learn patternmaking, this is a great time to purchase Suzy's classes since normally they cost more than many other sewing classes.

(NEW) Patternmaking + Design: Creative Sleeves (w/ Suzy Furrer)

In addition,  Designing Details: Pockets with Kenneth King is a great class to add to your pattern making portfolio.


40 Techniques Every Sewer Should Know, with Gail Yellen
This course is great!!! I am planning to post a review, but trust me, if you do what this instructor teaches you, your garments will look meticulous. Her class opens with a chapter on pressing and it is the best pressing introduction I've ever had from any other instructor.  If you are not signed up do it now!

(NEW) The Essential Guide to Sewing with Sheers, with Sara Alm - sheers can be very intimidating and this is a great class to tackle the fear.

Classic Tailoring: The Blazer, with Steffani Lincecum - very solid tailoring class, even though I still prefer Thomas von Nordheim's Vintage Couture Tailoring book. This class is the best on Craftsy in my opinion.

Hand Embellishing Knit Fabric, with Natalie Chanin - doesn't need much talking. It is great!

Vintage Inspired Veils for the Modern Bride  - maybe one day I will finally make a fascinator for myself. Worth trying. Also check Rhonda's blog for more fascinator goodness.

Here,.. what started as a Five Top list turned into an endless promotion post. Sorry for that, readers. But I hope these notes will indeed help you to find a great course to up your couture game :) I am posting less these two weeks since I am on holiday in Austria right now, enjoying reunion with my mom.  Will be back with the Me-Made-Monday and then back with tutorials and tips end of the next week.

Enjoy learning!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Me-Made-Monday 5: a new poppy skirt

I love poppies, and when I saw this fabric in New York's B&J I knew it would be a simple straight skirt. Another recent make finished UFO. I cut it several months ago, and gained a few kilograms since then, sigh. Luckily I can still fit in the skirt, even though my waist increased by two cm and now fills out the ease. Oh well,  I love comforting myself with a thought that wearing this skirt I will be more conscious about my food intake...

Now that I am writing this post I realize that the images are blurred. Well this is because being on holiday I am using some unorthodox methods to resize images. To add to a blogger's misery, a full day of wearing is visible on the linen shirt and my hair. But before I wait another month to post better quality images... errh, I love this skirt, and the combination with a linen shirt. 

A few words about the construction. I could not resist and underlined the skirt with silk organza. Honestly, it was not necessary, but I often feel like a couture machine: before I had time to think the underlining is already there. What's done is done - the underlining doesn't do any harm really.

I lined the skirt with navy china silk - it does feel nicer with lining.

As for the pattern, I eliminated the side seam, leaving only side darts. This way I didn't have to worry about pattern matching on the side. There is only one seam, in the back.

Finally, I made a faced waistband, with the inner side lined with china silk as well.

I think this skirt will be worn a lot. With shirts and, later, when the fall comes, with nice navy sweaters. And you know what, I packed mostly me-made clothes for two weeks holiday.  It is a first for me! A matching wardrobe full of nice hand-made clothes. I am so proud of myself :)

What did you wear last week?


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