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Aquamarine Corset

I finished my aquamarine corset!
Aquamarine CorsetAquamarine Corset
The fashion fabric layer is aquamarine dupioni from Silk Baron interfaced with fusible tricot. Strength layer is one layer of black English coutil from King and Company, and it's lined with purple couture linen from FabricMart. I used the King and Company Celine underbust pattern. It's supported by 24 quarter-inch spiral steels, 4 regular 1/4" flat steels (sandwiching the grommet panels) and two of those extra-thick flat steels that sells as 1/4" but are actually 3/8". I put the extra-thick ones in the side-back seams to improve the back support. I boned all of the seams as usual, and used black tubular bone casings between seams for the additional bones.
Aquamarine Corset Front Embellishment Close-Up.Aquamarine Corset Front Embellishment Close-Up.
I embellished it with two different types of lace; a fuchsia stretch lace and a black lace netting "shadowing" the front lace embellishment. The fuchsia lace was a bad choice, it wanted to pull and snag and unravel at every chance. I ended up applying small bits of fusible web and liquid thread with the a flat hotfix tip to stabilize the lace. Next time I'm definitely going to be much more careful about selecting the lace. I like the visual effect of this lace, it was just really not well suited to being cut out and sewn to a corset.

I used black silk threads for the flossing, which was also unnecessarily difficult. I liked the look better than using topstitching thread, but I didn't have any black dupioni so I used threads from another black silk that wasn't as thick and required more threads. Next time I'll either make sure I have the right colors to use dupioni weft or I'll get some silk embroidery thread.

I accented the lace embellishment with hotfix swarvoski crystals. I used a few ss10 AB crystals on the protruding parts of the pink lace, but the majority of the of the crystals I used were the teeny tiny ss6 crystals. I used jet ones on the black shadowing lace lace and a few different colors from a "passion" pack (which contains shades of pink, red, and purple) scattered around the fuchsia lace.
Aquamarine Neck "Corset"Aquamarine Neck "Corset"

I had just enough of the aquamarine dupioni left to make a neck "corset"/posture collar thingy to match. It's kinda cute, but next time I make one of those things, it must have a zipper! I'm not entirely sure how I'll fit a zipper in because the back felt thick and awkward to work with as it was, but it's a pain to get on and off and it really needs a zipper in addition to the lacing.
Aquamarine Corset FinishedAquamarine Corset Finished

Despite my zillion complaints about my choices on this one, I'm actually very happy with the results. This is only the second corset I've made with coutil, and the last coutil corset (the tea-dyed one) didn't have a separate fashion fabric layer, so I learned a lot with this corset.

Velvet and Tricotine

Burgandy Velvet and Dark Olive TricotineBurgandy Velvet and Dark Olive Tricotine
I'm thinking using the dark olive tricotine might be my best bet. It's darker than it looks in the picture.

(Yes dfr, I have unearthed the wool. There is now some blue gabardine in your box on my coffee table.)

Simplicity 2700 In-Progress

Simplicity 2700 Inside Front In-ProgressSimplicity 2700 Inside Front In-Progress
I've been working on Simplicity 2700, the "amazing fit" pants. I'm doing them in a $1.99/yard Dockers cotton I got from FabricMart awhile ago as a mockup for eventually doing them in the lovely striped wool that is dfr's fault.

The instructions aren't bad (and I'm pretty demanding of instructions) but I do have some concerns. For one thing, the left front yoke. As you can see, all matched up, it only extends up to the edge of the fly underlap. This is a problem because the yoke has a facing, which of course requires a seam allowance.. but there doesn't seem to be an allowance.

Simplicity 2700 Back In-ProgressSimplicity 2700 Back In-ProgressThen there's the back yoke. It extends significantly beyond the main pattern pieces on the sides, and I don't see that explained anywhere. It seems that for a pair of pants that includes darts, they completely ignored the effect of the darts when drafting the yoke.
Simplicity 2700 Front In-ProgressSimplicity 2700 Front In-Progress Actually this doesn't seem all that surprising, since the main pieces have three different versions (for "slim," "regular," and "curvy" figures) but they all use the same yoke pieces. That might not explain it, though; to pick a size, the instructions say to "Measure your waist and hip (at the fullest point). [sic] Compare those measurements to the measurements on the pattern envelope." So the waist size shouldn't be different between the different versions, should it? The "curvy" pieces use two darts while the "slim" and "regular" pieces use one. (I'm using the regular pieces currently.)
So they must have neglected to account for the darts in drafting. This seems like a rather significant drafting mistake to me. It also makes me nervous. It's not explained anywhere, and I don't like to trim down pieces when I don't know why they're not the right size. It couldn't relate to the lack of a seam allowance for the end of the left front yolk, because there are notches that match up. (And because that would just be bizarre.)

So, I'm plugging along with the pattern, and hoping that it fits well, but for something that got such rave reviews, I'm certainly disappointed that there seem to be such significant errors.

I should note that this is only the second "real" pants pattern I've sewn. I've done drawstring pants and leggings, but the only other pants with pockets and a fly and all that I've done was Jalie 2908, and not many patterns can live up to that. I think I like that the fly construction method doesn't involve basting the front closed-- apparently that's a very "home sewing method."
I guess I won't really be able to develop a "true" opinion of the pattern until I've gotten far enough to get into the fitting.

Butterick 4609 Blouse, Finished. (And I Used My Buttonholer!)

I finished my with-real-cuffs blouse!Floral Rayon Challis Blouse -- FinishedFloral Rayon Challis Blouse -- Finished
I ended up using stitch witchery in the front band, but I think I actually used too much, it's stiffer than I would have liked it to be. I'll keep that in mind for next time-- and I definitely will be sewing this pattern again.

This one doesn't seem to photograph too well, but I think it's mainly the print that's responsible for that. It's a pretty print, but it's so contrasting that it's hard to make out the details of the blouse! That's not necessarily a bad thing, though, since the front is a bit strange since I overinterfaced (is "interfaced" the right word when I used stitch-witchery to make the fabric interface itself?) the front band a bit. I think the front was supposed to end up slouchier.

While others had reported that the pattern runs large, I found it to be just about right, actually a bit too small in the hips. I ended up letting out the back darts a bit, which seemed to fix the problem. I'm definitely glad that I didn't go down a size.

I'm not totally sure how I feel about the neck tie thingy. It's kinda cool, but kinda silly at the same time. It was definitely worth making, though; quick and easy, and another option for the blouse.
French CuffFrench Cuff
I'm loving the French cuffs. I was afraid they would be goofy, but I really like them. I made "cuff links" out of buttonhole thread and mystery bundle buttons.

And I finally rewired my Necchi BC! (Okay, fine, Kris did most of it.. but he's the expert!) So, with my BC rewired, I now have a low-shank machine in good working order, which means I can use my buttonholer! I got the buttonholer ages ago, thinking that since it was made specifically for Necchi, it would fit my machine.. and then realized upon getting it that it was for low-shank machines, and I use mostly high-shank. Low-shank buttonholers are cheap. High-shank buttonholers are not.

So, with my working BC and my buttonholer attachment, I was able to make nice automated pretty buttonholes! (Up to this point all of my buttonholes had been as-carefully-as-possible zigzagged.


Floral Rayon Challis Blouse with French Cuffs -- In Progress

I've been sewing, so you can't say I haven't!Butterick 4609 View C -- In ProgressButterick 4609 View C -- In Progress

I've been working on View C of Butterick 4609-- the blouse with the French cuffs. I'm doing the sash thingy too. I'm making it out of one of the "Trendy" rayon challis-es I got from FabricMart's most recent 75% off sale.

It's not done, but it's getting there. I still need to hem it and put in the buttonholes, and stabilize the front band. Well, it's not actually a front band it's a self-front-band, basically just folded over and then over again to form what would normally be the front band. It says to catch-stitch it in place. And doesn't say anything about interfacing. I used some stitch-witchery tape in between the innermost layers, I'll probably add another strip on the back. I'm not completely sure, though. I've been playing with buttonholes on scraps. Hopefully I'll pester Kris into helping me rewire my BC so I can use my actual buttonholer. But, uh, I've been saying I'm going to rewire the BC for quite awhile..

This blouse is the first time I've successfully made real cuffs! My first try was McCall's 5929 which caused a huge amount of frustration and ended up being a wadder. The Simplicity 2758 blouse I made back in December to shut dfr up only had those little narrow cuffs and not all the trappings real cuffs like the bound slit-- and the bound slit is the mind-boggling part. (Why didn't I do a post on that blouse? I wrote a review, but no blog post. I thought I wrote a post, but now all that seems to be on my site is the picture. Oh, it was probably because it was while dfr was in Florida! LOL Okay, that explains my lack of a post!
But this time I managed real cuffs! The instructions on the pattern were pretty good, and in combination with my copy of the Singer Sewing Book (1949 edition) I managed to make it work!

It looks a little awkward on my dress form. I do hope it ends up looking better on me. My dress form is slightly crooked, which makes everything look a bit awkward. Most of the reviews say that it runs a bit big, but it actually seems quite snug. I cut a 14, which should be about right, and seems to be, but it's hard to tell for sure before finishing up the buttons and all. I did use French seams, but I don't think they should have made too much of a difference.

I'm hoping to finish this one up tomorrow. Either with buttonholer-ed buttonholes or my normal unautomated machine buttonholes.

Two Free 5-Yard Assortments From FabricMart

Two Free 5-Yard AssortmentsTwo Free 5-Yard Assortments I ended up placing two orders during that time when FabricMart was sending out free 5-yard assortments with any order over $35. And this time it wasn't even dfr's fault! When that turquoise linen went on sale, I just had to get it. (Along with some of the oatmeal-colored linen with the floral print.)

Since they're free, I obviously can't complain, but the first one was three yards of a synthetic coral fabric and two yards of a strange thick black-and-lime-green houndstooth knit. It feels like one of those reversible knits that's actually two knits put together, but the back just looks like a wrong side. I think it's synthetic, but of course knits are a lot harder to pull threads off of than wovens are. The houndstooth stuff might make a cute light jacket. I'm not generally a fan of coral, but I'm thinking the coral stuff might work quite well for grocery bags.

The second assortment, however, I'm quite happy with. There's 2 3/4 yards of the black plant-based (seems like cotton) fabric, and 2 5/8 yards of a nice thick brick red-brown wool flannel. I may not be a big fan of brown in general, but I'm absolutely thrilled to have some good wool flannel! I've drooled over wool flannel before, and the stuff could make a really great lining or interlining. Not to mention the fact that my entire outlook on brown changed with that mushroom brown linen. Brown may not be such a pretty color on its own, but it's the perfect color for floral embroidery!

Mom's Linen Tunic With Silver Embroidery (And Some Book Talk)

Mom's Linen TunicMom's Linen Tunic Mom's Linen Tunic NecklineMom's Linen Tunic Neckline Mom's Linen Tunic BackMom's Linen Tunic Back

I know, I am a bad, bad blogger and I don't post enough. But I have a good excuse! I have lots of them!

You see, first I was reading. And some of that was dfr's fault, because while I was waiting for my other Borgia books to come, I started reading Black Sun Rising, the first book of the Coldfire trilogy. (The second and third books are When True Night Falls and Crown of Shadows.) That's dfr's fault because she's the one who first told me to read In Conquest Born, which is by the same author. My mom actually ended up buying Black Sun Rising for her Kindle while she was here. I'm not sure exactly why she started reading a book I was still in the middle of! My dad got started reading This Alien Shore, another C.S. Friedman book. I'm not sure why he left it here, he seemed to be enjoying it and I was already finished with that one!

The Borgia books I was waiting for were Light on Lucrezia, The Borgia Betrayal, and The Borgia Bride.
I'd already read Madonna of the Seven Hills, which comes before Light on Lucrezia, and
Poison, which comes before The Borgia Betrayal, because those were cheaper.

And then of course I couldn't put up in-progress pictures of my mom's tunic, because then she would have seen them. So really, everything that's not a good excuse is dfr's fault!

I'm actually much happier with the tunic than I am with these pictures. My camera and computer don't seem happy about the color. It's this really beautiful, deep, vibrant turquoise, and the photos just don't do it justice. I tried adjusting the color, but I couldn't get it quite right. Any adjustments that made the fabric color more accurate gave strange hues to everything else.
The actual fabric is a bit darker and much deeper than it looks in the photos-- just a really stunning color, utterly perfect for my mom.

Turquoise and silver are her colors. She already had a beautifully matching necklace with her-- and she didn't know about the tunic until she got here!
(On a related note: our house got burglarized when I was a kid. When we got home and discovered this, we found that he'd emptied my mother's jewelery box all over the bed. And of course found nothing but silver and semi-precious stones. My mom said she actually felt bad for the guy!)

My mom seems to have the same fitting problems as I do, except even more exaggerated. I'm a lot taller, but we're a similar size, so I'd cut the same size as I do for myself. The sleeves turned out to be too narrow, although I did manage to get them fitting fairly well by letting them out a bit within the seam allowance. Her shoulders are also even narrower than mine; I fixed that by taking it in a bit around the top of the sleeve cap. I didn't unpick anything there; I just took in both the top of the sleeve cap and the edge of the shoulder. The final fit seems to be fairly good, although next time I'll probably cut the upper sleeves a bit wider.

That pleat on the back is not part of the pattern. I started doing it because the pattern actually wants the back to be cut as separate pieces, and the first time I made this tunic I didn't take the seam allowance into account when I cut the it on the fold.

I'd planned on doing a decorative stitch for the hem, but I was using the silver metallic Gutermann thread (not the same as the metallic Brother embroidery thread) which fluffs up a bit too much for real decorative stitches, and my mom liked the way the regular zigzag looked, so I ended up just just a plain old zigzag hem. My no-model-name-or-number "Heavy Duty" Taiwanese Necchi had thrown a hissy fit over the metallic thread (and protested the use of top-stitching thread too,) but the BU Mira handles it wonderfully.

Some tips for using that metallic Gutermann thread:

  • Always use a top-stitching needle.
  • Thread the needle using a needle threader, don't try to just thread it normally; It's kind fluffy and frays easily, so it's really, really hard to get all of the thread through the eye.
  • Use a Thread Stand It keeps twisting to a minimum and feeds more easily.
  • Use regular thread in the bobbin, preferably in a color that matches the fabric.

Silk Panel

Silk PanelSilk Panel Silk Panel Pattern CloseupSilk Panel Pattern Closeup Y'all know that "If Microsoft made cars" joke? Remember the line about accepting that every so often, it'll suddenly stop working and you'll have to close all of the windows and restart the car? The other night when I originally took the pictures of the panel, I was having trouble getting my computer to recognize when I plugged the memory-card-to-USB converter into my USB hub. Dunno what the problem was, but restarting the computer fixed it.

So anyway, here are the full panel and closeup views of the silk border print I've gotten in my last two mystery bundles. (I got a two-panel piece in each bundle. They were labeled as two yards, but each panel is actually about 42 inches, so each piece is about two and a third yards.)

It's definitely heavier than I'd think of for chiffon; I'm not totally sure what it is. Crepe de chine, maybe? Georgette? I don't have swatches of either of those in my fabric dictionary. I'll have to go through more of my old mailers to see what swatches I might have that haven't yet found their way to their respective fabric dictionary entries.

It's not too transparent, but I wouldn't call it opaque either. I do have some trouble gauging the sheerness of fabrics that are neither totally sheer nor totally opaque. Are there any guidelines so far as lighting and such for determine how sheer a fabric is? In the picture you can see the two horizontal lines from the glare off of the picture frame that's behind the panel. It recovers well from being pinned to the wall, too. At first I just pinned the selveges on the side, but it drapes too much not to add a pin in the center. The pin didn't seem to do any damage.

I don't know which way is up. Sense seems to dictate that the stripe would be at the bottom, which is certainly the most practical so far as making it into a garment; the horizontal line would be at the hem.
But it almost looks upside-down, doesn't it? Maybe that's because some of those sets of three wedge-thingies are green, yellow, and pink which gives them a traffic-light look. And the design has a kinda martini-glass shape to it. It's that stem-glass shape with a line sticking out the top. Although turn it upside down, and it looks like hanging lamps. Or suspended citrus wedges. Folding or feather fans? But then those sticks point out the top would bop the user in the face.
Why I'm turning a geometric fabric print into some kind of non-blobby Rorschach test, I'm not sure. It just seems like it needs an explanation.

Well, I'm sending one of the pieces to dfr, so maybe she'll be able to explain it. And figure out what it wants to be. She's the one with decent style/overall look visualization ability. My visualization ability is generally limited to spatial manipulations; rotating and flipping around shapes and such. Somehow things like imagining a fabric as a garment, or what a garment would look like in another fabric never come easily to me. There have been quite a few nice patterns that I never considered just because I wasn't fond of the way they looked in the fabric on the front of the envelope. I may be getting a tad better at that with practice, but my progress there is slow.

Copyright note: I watermark photos I upload because I took the photographs, and because images are so very easily swiped on the internet. I am posting these photos of the physical object (fabric) that I received in a mystery bundle, in order to better describe and comment on said bundle.
Obviously I did not design the fabric or the print, and as such, the copyright for the print does not belong to me. The selvedge identifies the copyright owner as Calamo Silk, Inc., which appears to be a custom silk manufacturing company.
(A word of caution about their site: It's a flash site. The sound can be turned off. As far as I can tell, the same is not true for the scrolling background. And by "scrolling background" I don't mean that it scrolls as you scroll down the page, I mean it continuously scrolls horizontally, right to left, underneath the text and everything. It's a grey-on-black world map, and while it's not initially as obtrusive as the sound, it actually started to make me motion sick after a little while.)

My Latest Mystery Bundle (June 2011)

Mystery Bundle -- June 2011Mystery Bundle -- June 2011 I got an order from FabricMart last week, and I still hadn't posted about the mystery bundle because I've been a bad bad blogger who hasn't kept up with posting. I was gardening and reading some zombie books. Yes, I know I've gotta put up more garden pictures too.

So anyways, here's the bundle. It's not bad, but definitely not the best bundle I've ever gotten. The two on the left are synthetics, 1 5/8 yards of a light blue polyester satin and something that's synthetic and navy blue. I'll have to see what it thinks of water; if it's water repellant, it might be useful. Then there's 1 3/8 yards of this "heirloom" cotton print, 2 1/2 yards yards of this cotton/spandex shirting, and 2 yards of the same strange silk print I got in my last mystery bundle. Generally I'm happy with any silk.. but I really have no idea what to do with this stuff! The print is strange and I didn't know what to think of two yards of the stuff, let alone four!

I'll have to do a "best of mystery bundles" post one of these days. I got some really good mystery bundle fabrics last fall, like the green silk gazar and the blue charmeuse.

Fabric Dictionary

I got started on a fabric dictionary awhile ago, when I wanted a better way to reference fabrics than going through FabricMart mailers month-by-month. I used an OpenOffice book template, and then altered the layout to leave room to attach swatches and created a fairly organized mish-mosh list of fabric and fiber types. Some have definitions, some don't, which didn't seem too important since I was using it mainly for swatch organization.
I printed it out and got started started filling it with swatches from FabricMart mailers and the one sample issue of VogueFabrics' swatch club I'd gotten ages ago. (Vogue also has back issues at a discounted price, which is a great way of getting a whole bunch of swatches for cheap.) Then I added in more entries as I came across fabrics I had swatches of but that I hadn't yet put into the dictionary.

I have it divided up by fiber as the top category and then by whether it's woven or knit, so there are various fabric types that occur in more than one place. I have a separate section at the bottom for blends, although in my version, I generally put a fabric that's mainly one thing with just a bit of something else into the category of its main content.

Anyway, there was a question today in the Fabrics and More section on Pattern Review about having a reference so far as what fabric is what, so I figured I'd finally get around to posting this.

Since I put this together using OpenOffice, I'm not sure how it will look in other word processing programs. I saved it in both OpenOffice's native format and in Microsoft's .doc format, but I'm not sure to what extent all the formatting will hold. (Not totally sure why the .doc format version file is so much larger. I didn't make any changes between the two versions besides file type, so the size difference is a function of how it's saved--the content should all be the same.)

Feel free to print this out, adapt it, make changes, etc. I'd love feedback, so if you add anything or change anything or would like me to change anything (etc...) please let me know and/or send me a copy of your updated version!

(Okay, I think I fixed the permissions problem)

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