Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Blog Hop-On Hop-Off

Hello to Dublin, where the lovely Inna decided to pass on the blog hopping baton to me. You have to check out her blog - not only she shares the love for couture, but also has a great eye for prints.

Now, the questions...


to connect to the sewing community, share... Of course! But blogging for me is also an educational process, when, after researching and making, you sit down and document all some bits and pieces of the process. Putting what you learned down on 'paper' helps you remember crucial techniques and, sometimes, improve them. Images are a great help too, even the least noticeable mistake becomes prominent. Having your feedback is a reward for this work. 

I am also inspired by the success of those prolific bloggers and designers who were able to turn blogging into living. It is working out for me in some ways, and now, that my life is getting back to normal after the move last year, I hope I'll be able to offer you more. Which brings me to the next question...


That's the toughest one ) All the plans and patterns, and the need to focus... An IKEA Expedit shelf full of fabrics is a major point of distraction - I need to hang some neutral textile over it!

Ok, right now I am working on a couple of new patterns. One is the skirt inspired by a very young Russian designer Eugenia Kim (image), and another (in further future) is a culottes, inspired by this Dries Van Noten piece. 

There is also one simple circle skirt in making, in navy blue silk faille that I initially purchased for a dress ) 

... I keep changing my plans actually. I am determined to focus on those three!

What I am really working on: a tailored dress for my mother (we just had a great first fitting) and another dress for a good friend of mine. I hope I can feature those two soon. 

And, finally, I am in dire need of another 'smart casual' garment for a reception this Friday... I should get on to the next question before I come up with more plans!


I got tons a few drafts saved on my blogger dashboard. But usually it starts with notes, on my iPhone or in my hardcopy Moleskin agenda (I've become addicted to soft cover Moleskin agendas), where I make notes about my measurements, paste inspiration images from magazines, or articles, sketch. I used to keep those things as paper scraps all over the place, and could never find anything when I needed it, but now it's all in one place. 

I also carry around a regular notebook, and pull it out whenever I get a few spare minutes. Then, I draft a rough outline for a future post and a few details. 

I got more ideas than I could possibly turn over, but it is probably better this way than having nothing to write about. Time is limited and, so far, I can manage a post or two a week.

In the near future, besides posting finished garments, I would like to focus more on techniques and tutorials and write more reviews. These are labour intensive posts, but they are the most rewarding ones!


I'd love to hear more from a fellow couture addict, Leisa from A Challenging Sew. We share the same mentor, Susan Khalje, and love for the hand-made wardrobe. 

Question to you, readers! Does your fabric stash distract you from focusing on projects? That's my main issue, I wish I had one or two fabrics only in my stash. On the other hand, a friend recently told me she might take/buy some of my fabrics 'cause I got too many... Oh, my precious!!! Am I turning into a Gollum?.. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

New Craftsy Favorites and a Big Sale.

It has been only a few weeks since my last Craftsy class review and there are already several new classes that I really liked. Since it is again a Big Fall Sale on Craftsy (you get up to 50% off) I thought I'd share a few thoughts on those classes I liked.

Some classes are less than 30% off. Don't purchase them right away. Craftsy offers you an additional 33% off for one class in an email you receive after your initial purchase. This offer is not valid during a sale, so it's worth waiting until the sale is over and purchasing the class with a smaller discount then. 


Steffani Lincecum did it again. She released another great tailoring class, this time it is Coatmaking techniques.

Inside Vogue Patterns: Coatmaking Techniques is currently at 40% off, which is quite a good deal for an advanced level class. Again, even though you are sewing a VoguePatterns coat, techniques are applicable to any coat you want to make. She teaches classic and couture-level techniques and uses a lot of hand stitching. Great sewing class, and, if I am not mistaken, it is the only coatmaking class on Craftsy

Her other classes, all of which I recommend, are

Classic Tailoring: The Blazer 
Pattern Drafting from Ready-To-Wear (51% off)
Sewing Machine Feet from A to Z (FREE)


If you are looking a comprehensive patternmaking class, Suzy Furrer's classes are the best I have taken. The series is a patternmaking encyclopedia, very well presented and organized. When taking this class you need to remember that it is not a fitting class, but a step-by-step instruction. Once you have a fitting sloper, you can draft a great variety of garments after taking these classes.

As in her earlier Craftsy classes, Suzy Furrer mostly follows her book: Building Patterns: The Architecture of Women's Clothing, which, by the way, has suddenly become extremely expensive. It is an out-of print book, and is on Amazon starting at $175. Crazy... It is nice to have it as a reference, but there is so much duplication between the book and the class that you can live without the former. In addition, if you ever purchased Kenneth King's CDs, available on his website and on PatternReview.com, you will find that the drafting method is the same. I must say, however, that Kenneth King has also an Advanced Sleeve chapter as a separate CD (a PDF file, which is mostly text accompanied with images), which you can purchase to compliment Suzy Furrer's class. He has more interesting sleeve variations there.

Patternmaking and Design: Collars & Closures (43% off)
Collars & Closures are for me the most frequent pattern alterations. I often change collar shape or replace one collar with another. You can read about the topics covered in the class in the lesson plan, and, of course, it doesn't include everything. However you get about a dozen different collar variations as well as instructions how to draft matching closures.

Patternmaking and Design: Creative Sleeves (43% off) - The sleeve class starts with sleeve slopers, and then goes on to basic sleeve variations (short sleeve, 3/4 sleeve, bell sleeve, cap sleeve and more). She covers plackets, pleats, cuffs and vents. There is also a lesson on drop shoulder sleeve, which experiences a comeback in fashion. I found that the pace is good, and even though Suzy Furrer's teaching is quite dry, but it is very clear and organized . I'd recommend purchasing this class sooner, because many instructors tend to respond faster and more willingly within the first few months after the release.


I am so happy to see new hand embroidery classes added on Craftsy. As usual, the projects in both classes are rather craftsy for me, so I am taking them to learn stitches and some new techniques, and using boards to ask questions related to fabric handling or other technique-specific issues.

Embroidering Texture and Dimension by Hand (25% off) with Sue Spargo

Embroidery with Ribbon (33% off) with Mary Jo Hiney

You can do amazing things with texture. Look at the Fall 2014 collection by Dolce & Gabbana. One look after another incorporating embroidery and appliqué, creating texture by mixing fabrics ...

In future, I hope, Craftsy will offer a beading embroidery class, and have some garment embroidery specials.


I really liked the idea of being able make my own sewing organizers, so I enrolled in Sew Sturdy Travel Organizers. There is not much to review here - two projects accomplished in the class are an organizer bag and a cosmetic bag. I've seen organizer bag tutorials on the web, but I so much prefer to follow the process either as a video, or in a class. Here is the opportunity )

Fun Techniques with Fabric Paints. I haven't signed up for this class, but it looks really fun for those who like to experiment with creating new fabrics. Stamping, stenciling and direct painting are the techniques taught in the class... Now, typing it, I am considering enrolling. It reminded me of the art of the Cypriot mantilarides who printed headscarves. You can see some of those scarves below, the picture was taken in a local museum in Nicosia. The moulds were made from the wood of olive or oak trees, with some finer designs. The colors were made from a mixture of plant and animal dies. The fabric - cotton mouseline. I will post about mantilarides in a separate post, here I just wanted to share some inspiration images. Maybe making a me-made scarf for holiday season? ... and look at those pretty crocheted trims...

Hand Applique Made Easy (33% off) A year ago I wanted to recreate this blouse by Temperley London, but I was just lost with the appliqué.

I didn't want to do it by machine, since it produces a rather stiff edging, but now I am taking this class and hopefully it will help me accomplish something similar in the near future. The class works on a sampler quilt, but the techniques could be applied to a garment and delicate fabrics. Since it is a relatively new class, and Mimi Dietrich, the instructor, is still available to answer questions.

That's it for my favorite class reviews, readers. I hope you'll enjoy these classes too.

Couture techniques: Bound Slit

It has been a while since I posted a tutorial, partly because of the lack of time. But I am glad I did now, and hope you will refer to it for your projects. As usual, I always recommend to practice the technique on a muslin first.

Bound slit is used in dress or blouse necklines, and if you've made bound buttonholes this technique is similar. The final steps vary depending on whether the garment section is lined or not. In this post, I will explain how to make a squared off bound slit in an unlined blouse, like in the blouse that I've featured in one of my recent posts. The bottom of the slit can be also made pointed as an arrow, or squared off as in my blouse.

A note to my timid sewing friends: I hope the long instructions won’t scare you off. I just tried to be as detailed as possible ) Enjoy

Finished bound slit.  Stitches are done in contrasting thread. 


Thread trace the neckline opening along the the cutting line and the bottom line of the slit. Thread-tracing is most suitable marking technique because the marking is visible from both, right and wrong sides.

Marked slit


Cut two bias strips, about 5cm longer than the finished length to accommodate seam allowances, and about two times wider than the final width of the binding (check on a smaller scrap of fabric before you cut all the strips, some fabrics stretch a lot and you may need to cut the strips wider, refer to step 3 for explanation). My binding is 0.4 cm wide, so I cut a 3.2cm wide bias strip for each side.

The final width should be

2 x finished width + 1mm turn of the cloth + (2x finished width) for the seam allowance
+1mm allowance for the bias

I am adding the last 1mm as an allowance for the bias because during handling, the bias will inevitably stretch and become slightly narrower. 1mm should compensate for this little loss in the width after steaming and stretching described in the next step will 

In my example, finished width is 0.4cm, so the calculation will look like this

(2 x 4mm) + 1mm + (2 x 4mm ) +1mm = 18mm

So, I am cutting twice the final width, at 3.6cm

Cut bias strips

I'd recommending cutting and stretching with steam a small bias strip to test the width before cutting the final binding.


Steam press the strips stretching them while pressing. They should retain only minimal give. This will help you control the bias and produce an even and accurate binding. After pressing the strips will be narrow and longer than when you cut them, in addition, depending on the fabric, you may have to trim them.

You will also notice that the ends of your strip are somewhat wider than the rest of it. You can trim those ends off, after measuring the bias strip again.

Bias strips, one before (top) and another after (bottom) pressing. My sample is made in muslin, so the strip width reduced by only 7mm
Trim the strips to the final width.


Mark 4mm from the trimmed edge of the bias strip using your favourite method: matching tracing paper, disappearing marker or thread tracing. For the first two methods, test on a fabric scrap, especially if you are working with silk or any other delicate fabric.

I am marking with Sharpie to make lines more visible on images. Normally I mark with matching tracing paper and a rounded tracing wheel.  A sharp tracing wheel may leave marks on delicate fabrics


On the right side of fabric, place the first strip with the right sides together on one side of the slit opening, with the edge along the thread-traced cutting line. Baste the strip 0.4cm away from the cutting line, from the neckline edge to the thread-traced bottom line. Repeat for the other side. It is important to keep the basting line evenly spaced and parallel to the thread-traced opening line as it will serve as your stitching guide.

It is very helpful to end a basting stitch at the bottom line marking - this will serve as an additional guide when stitching. I've marked the spot with a short Sharpie line


Stitch the binding along the basting line, reducing the stitch length for the last one cm. Pull one thread end through the fabric, so the both ends are on one side and knot them. Cut off the thread ends close to the knot. Press the stitching lines from both sides: this will make turning of the binding easier and more accurate.


Cut the slit open along the treat-traced line, stopping at 0.5cm from the thread-traced bottom line. On the wrong side using embroidery scissors, clip diagonally the garment fabric layer, not the strips, from the end of the cutting line to the end of the stitching.


Turn the binding over slit seam allowances. Press. Repeat with the other side

Turn the binding around the edge of the cut slit, carefully moving the bottom edges to the inside. Press lightly. Turn under the raw edges: the binding should meet the stitched line, pin. The binding should now measure 0.4mm. Baste.

Basted binding from the wrong side

You can skip basting if you can control the fabric and fell stitch (next step) a couple of centimetres at a time while turning the binding allowance inside.


Using fell stitches, stitch the binding to the stitched line. Repeat with the other binding. Press lightly

Top binding is fell-stitched in matching thread, the bottom binding - in contrasting thread 
Right side after fell stitching

At this point I like to baste together the bound edges to have more control for the next step. Diagonal basting stitch is perfect for this purpose. You can just baste from the wrong side, through the bottom layers.


Fold the garment along the thread-traced bottom line, with the bias binding on the bottom, exposing the clipped triangle, which should lie over the ends of the binding. If you want more control, pin left and right from the triangle. Baste (I skip this step for cottons). Stitch across the thread traced bottom line through the binding edges. Knot the ends.

Thread the needle with the end thread and hide it in the bias binding. Trim the ends to 0.5cm – 1cm

Remove diagonal basting thread and press.


Slip stitch to gather the ends of the  bias bindings on the wrong side and hand-overcast the raw edges. The bound slit is done.

Finished bound slit, wrong side
Finished bound slit, right side

I will be also posting this tutorial on the new couture forum on the web to make sharing and interaction easier than on the blog. Set up in August, the forum lacks ongoing conversation, however an idea of completing monthly couture challenges was quite popular. 

So, if you want, we could add this technique as an October monthly challenge and start building couture portfolio by creating samples and sharing work-in-progress. 

Finally, as a quick reminder, there is a Craftsy Fall Sale going on now, with up to 50% off. I got a post with a few new class reviews coming up this afternoon if you want to wait until then )

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Future of the Me-Made-Monday

At this point I am doubting the content value of Me-Made-Mondays. Since I gained weight this year, there are only a few older looser fitting pieces that I can still wear. Having made only about ten new outfits I keep rotating them in different variations.

I have to add that I am pretty much happy with what I have - I wear everything, frequently. Yet I also see that, because of this, this series is about to become a repetitive content filler on my blog and want to avoid it at any cost. With my blogiversary approaching I am now reassessing what I am blogging about, and see that there is a need for changes.

Without completely giving up on this project, I thought I'd rather focus on on new makes and feature them in a regular monthly overview. A summary post with a few images and links to in-detail posts, tutorials and pattern reviews. A month is not only enough to make something, but also to wear it, once or twice... And, who knows, maybe it will make it easier to readers to search for or to catch up on specific project related posts...

Maybe we could even do it together again and feature links to your makes and your reviews. What do you think? 

P.S. Thank you so much for your comments on the silk blouse!  A sample for the step-by-step tutorial you asked for is almost finished!  I will also try to answer your questions as soon as possible) It actually reminded me why I am blogging in the first place. 

And for those who have a link to share, here is the last Me-Made-Monday linky party

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Behind the Seams: Silk Blouse

Everytime with a new make I get many ideas about blog posts I can write: tutorials, behind-the-seam images, reviews... And, yet, daily life claims most of my time. The same here, in half an hour hour children will be picked up from the school, they will need lunch and then some company. Sewing time was also cancelled today due to grocery shopping, unpacking and just getting sucked in into the housewife routine.  I am looking at the modest beginnings of my next project and wonder when am I going to complete it... So before I get on this bigger project, I thought I'd post detail shots of my recently made silk blouse as I promised couple of weeks ago.

As you see, there are only two side seams, which I worked as french seams.

The neckline and the back slit are bound with bias strips.

A narrow hem is used to finish the hem and the sleeves. It is stitched using three stitching lines, the way Susan Khalje teaches. But three stitching lines produce a somewhat stiff hem. I usually stitch the first line with larger stitch length setting (same as for machine basting) and remove the thread after the second stitching line is made.

Bias binding on the neckline and the back placket. The placket is very soft and that makes it curve a little and appear a uneven. However, it is mostly quite straight )

Of course, it is only now that I see a pressing issue on this image. I removed that dragging line at the base later on by sliding a small piece of oak tag paper between the bound ends of the slit and the garment fabric and pressed it through an organza press cloth

The placket is made using instructions from Claire Shaeffer's Couture Sewing Techniques with some modifications. Her tutorial is good, but lacks more detail and better step-by-step illustration. So, if there is some demand, I'll be happy to post a tutorial.

Have you worked with slits and plackets? Do you think they are challenging, or do you know an easy method that produces good results? Do share!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Me-Made-Monday 8: a Me-Made-Long-Ago Dress

Me-Monday-Mondays help me stay focused, even if occasionally I cannot post. They help me stay focused not only on blogging, but also on making effort with dressing, rather than just pull on jeans, with yet another shirt... It's great to wear jeans occasionally, but when it is two or more days in a row I have to stop myself. Why am I sewing? Lazy dressing should be banned for sewists.   

Thanks to Rhonda of Rhonda's Creative Life for picking up the challenge last week and featuring her funnel neck T-shirt, and a tutorial. As for me,  last week I pulled this dress from my wardrobe - it is a perfect dress for a hot day. Made with silk crepe, underlined with lightweight charmeuse; chiffon overskirt and a lace overlay top, it is probably the coolest (literally) dress I have - I can wear on a hottest day and feel quite comfortable. 

The pattern is from Burdastyle, you can read more about the construction in my Burdastyle guest post. The dress was made two years ago, but I started wearing it more regularly here In Cyprus... for some reason.

Where did I wear it? I took kids to an ice-cream place on the first day of school and it was a perfect colour for an afternoon with kids :) Unfortunately, I don't have images of the place we went to, but it is a nice cafe in the old city, just at the buffer zone. While kids are playing on a relatively large playground that belongs to the cafe, parents can chill out in the shade of bougainvilleas sipping on their oh-so-popular in Cyprus frappe.

Well, back to you, readers! Here is the link up tool for this week


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