Couture, DIY Sewing Room Projects, Sewing, Sewing Patterns, Vogue 8543

Vogue 8543 – Part 1

Current works in progress: this list is embarrassingly long:

  • a couture Chanel jacket a la Claire Schaeffer, muslin is cut and stitched, I just need to make corrections to the fit – since this is a sew-a-long for the Sutura Club I’ll be finished by Christmas (I hope!)
  • three pairs of slacks (I cut them all at once to save time and then stitch when I am have time)
  • my black evening ensemble – I actually fooled myself into believing I could get sewing done on a busy Saturday – silly me! The muslin for the corset is done and a new pattern is drafted but I need my Pfaff to pull it off – see below
  • Vogue Pattern 8543 – I am making this in a fun wool tweed from Mood Fabrics – changes will be made to the sleeve. I have long skinny arms and a trumpet sleeve just makes matters worse.

Vogue Pattern 8543

The tweed is a pink-grey color and has a lovely drape to it – you can check it out here Pink Wool Tweed.

The great joy of sewing is that there is never an end to what can be made there are always new ideas, new fabrics, notions etc – sigh. That said, my sewing time has slowed somewhat – here is a look into my crazy sewing world.

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It’s been just 2 short years since I set up the living room/dining room as my designated sewing space. I loved the bright natural light in there so much more than the dark, gloomy basement! After two winters however, it has a single, major drawback – all the walls (except the one above) are grey. The room feels chilly and dark during the cold months so, before the snowy days arrive the walls are getting a paint job.

Here’s what my studio looks like at the moment:

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Drop cloths, and shambles! Oh well, it can be put back quickly enough. And the color, which appears white in the photos is actually a very pale pink with a tiny drop of yellow to warm it up. Much brighter for winter sewing!

In the meantime, Nina Rose is still going strong in her little corner:

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allowing me to keep up with some sewing whilst the work is under way.

All in all, sew much to do and sew little time!

Happy Sewing!

Natalie

Atelier, Couture, Bridal Wear, Dresses, Evening Gown

It’s National Sewing Month – Enjoy a Free Evening Gown Sewing Lesson at Hancock Fabrics !

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It’s that time of year again when I start thinking ahead towards the holidays that are just a couple weeks away. The store is already bustling with busy shoppers gathering up goodies for holiday gifts and purchasing fabric for holiday dresses. My assignment this weekend is to create a beautiful evening gown ensemble using the the corset pattern from Kwik Sew. I’ll create the corselette first and then drape the gown to make the finished product. The fabrics that I have selected are all BFF from Hancock Fabrics. The gown construction will be part of a free sewing lesson this Saturday at Hancock Fabrics, Carmel, Indiana. To reserve a seat please call the store at 317-571-9594.

To make the evening gown  I have selected beaded galloon lace and stretch satin for the corselette and underlining the skirt. The cape will be made from shirred panne velvet using a technique I found in The Best of Threads: Embellishments magazine this summer. The quilted lining, shown above, will help ward off the winter chills.

Finally to complete the ensemble display, I plan to add this black, beaded handle, evening clutch that I made at an in-store lesson for Mother’s Day:

Holiday Beaded Handle Clutch Purse
Holiday Beaded Handle Clutch Purse

Photos of the finished gown and cape will be posted next week!

Happy Sewing!

Couture, Fabric

Ways To Save On Sewing Supplies

I had a another conversation recently with someone who was considering purchasing a serger but was concerned about having to buy 4 cones of every color of thread. I posted earlier on thread blending so I won’t belabour the point, instead here are some of my favorite ways to save big on sewing fabrics supplies and notions.

  1. Buy in bulk or from an industrial supplier. There is usually a volume discount available. Share with a sewing buddy if needed. I buy threads from Wawak (woolley nylon) and GoldStar. I love GoldStar for serger thread because the prices are great, the quality is good and they have free shipping. The online color chart is great too.
  2. Be patient with purchases; wait for sales whenever possible (see 7 for exceptions).
  3. Double up on coupons. When JoAnn & Hancock fabric offer the chance to save an additional 15-20% off sale and non-sale items, take it!
  4. Buy things you need all the time, like interfacing, certain colors of thread, and lining fabrics when they hit rock bottom. I posted earlier this week about the sale on Ralph Lauren lining fabric. At a $1.79 for high quality goods, now is a great time to purchase.
  5. Think outside the box. Remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The concept of “it has to look as good on the inside as on the outside” is great, but the person looking at the inside of your garments is most likely to be you. I add funky colors to the inside of garments all the time and smile when I wash. By choosing non-traditional colors and prints and fabrics I can save because everyday prices are often low on things that are less popular. The added benefit is that it adds the “smile factor” to a chore.
  6. Know when to buy. I know that the truck arrives at my local fabric store on a Tuesday, so the best time to check for new arrivals and sale items is Wednesday morning. If you are into higher end fabrics, know the fashion cycle. Understanding it is simple. When the January sales kick in, that means that retailers are making room for spring and summer clothing, and that in turn means that the spring and summer manufaturing cycle is coming to a close. Great fabrics are on sale! Look for then at jobbers like Denver Fabrics, Mood Fabrics and more.
  7. Know what to buy. For example, I love boucle for winter; when a new shipment arrived in a color that I loved I bought it right away. The full price of the fabric was less than a coat made of comparable goods, so I did not hesistate. Knowing which fabrics hold high retail value is important. I saved money in the long run over what I would pay for ready to wear clothing and will enjoy my new coat many seasons.
  8. Try to organize a local Stitcher’s Switch or participate in one. Trading fabrics from your stash that have been on the shelf for a little too long is a great way to get fresh inspiration from unused goods.
  9. Invest in the best. It doesn’t sound like saving money but buying good quality supplies is more cost effective than buying poor quality at low prices.
  10. Shop flea markets, garage sales, re-sellers like Goodwill, consignement shops, and online auctions for great deals. My 2 favorite deals are still the desks I bought and painted, one for my Bernina and the other for my serger. I use old sheets and pillow slips for muslin, lining, and even clothing. If it is made out of fabric – sew it! I bought a jacket for $1.50 years ago just to get the buttons and fabric. Upstyling is good for the environment and the budget.
  11. Buy it and dye it. Shopping for natural fibers makes sound financial sense. They can be used as is or dyed to another color.
  12. Save scraps.  Saving the selvedges, and scraps has helped me out of more corners than I care to write about. Be careful with this one, it can turn into a space consuming monster, lol!
  13. Save old dryer sheet for a multitude of uses in the sewing room.

The final tip is to embrace the place you’re at. If you are a novice then avoid high priced fabric (unless it is deeply discounted) until your skills are up to the challenge. After nearly forty years of designing, pattern making and sewing, I still put myself through my paces before trying to sew on costly goods. This isn’t just about sewing a sample and getting the tension right (both are necessary) but also about practicing the skills I need time and again to create muscle memory.

Fall and winter fabrics should be arriving at excellent prices at this time of year – so I am off to shop!

Happy Sewing,

Natalie

Couture, Fabric, Fabric Storage

Fabulous Fabric Finds & Couture Kitty Fun

“Bridal Fabric? What Bridal Fabric?” Lol! I keep fabric stored inside glass cabinets in my sewing room until I am ready to cut it. I walked in to find Goku (aka Couture Kitty) inside a bag of bridal fabric that I had cut for an upcoming video (shameless plug here). He had somehow opened the bag and made himself quite comfortable on the beaded lace and satin stored within.

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And he looks so mad that I want him to move! Having a pet around in the sewing room adds joy to everyday!

Okay – on to sewing stuff…

The stash blast is over and I am happy with the simple garments that I was able to whip up during the blast. I am even happier to be back to the attelier style sewing to which I have become accustomed. Having cleared out some space in my sewing room, it was thrilling to discover that Fashion Fabrics Club/Denver Fabrics is having a great sale. Whenever these types of sales occur, I always remind myself of a few key things.

  1. See the fabric for what it could be. Just because the site says it’s for dresses doesn’t mean I have to use it like that. Goods that I might not want for the outer garment work well for linings, accessories and more.
  2. At $1.79 – $10.95  per yard, it’s hard to go wrong.
  3. Stick to natural fibers whenever possible. If the color is off, a bottle of RIT dye can fix it.

Silk organza at 4.95/yard in cream? SOLD! I don’t care if it has a bit of light embroidery, I can still use it for a multitude of things. POLO wool for $10.95? YAY! I thought this piece of velvet, stablilized with interfacing would make a fun bag.

Mulberry Print Stretch Velvet – 8019 | Discount By The Yard | Fashion Fabrics.

This piece of black sateen is supposed to be dressweight but I think it would be nice as a luxe lining.

https://www.fashionfabricsclub.com/p812_12895-black-print-sateen. They also have Ralph Lauren linings for around $1.80

Ralph Lauren Lining

Not to be left out, Mood Fabrics has a lovely pure wool gauze from Donna Karan for $7.99 and Hancock Fabrics dropped the price on a stunning piece of Aubergine Wool Boucle by 50% plus my coupon for an additional 15% off. Sigh. Sewing is a lifelong passion and I have accepted that there will always be a pile of fabrics at my house.

Enjoy the sales!

Natalie

Couture, Dresses, Easy Sewing Projects, Fabric, How to use a Serger

Summer Sewing Stash Blaster – Wardrobe Make-Over

Stash of Sewing Fabrics

This fabric has been sitting pretty in my stash for too long. It’s time for a stash blaster! I am determined to work up the courage to FINALLY sew the beautiful silk suiting that I splurged on and give my wardrobe completely made-over. To push myself, last week I cleared out my closet and put about 95% in bags for donation. Now, I have no choice. I have to sew – so here we go! I made my first little foray into blaster mode with the trio of skirts from earlier this week but am kicking it into high gear today.

I’ve also given myself rules for my Summer Sewing Blast.

1) NO BUYING MORE FABRIC UNTIL WHAT I HAVE IS SEWN! Trading with fellow sewists is allowed and purchase of lining and interling is okay as needed only

2) THIS BLASTER STARTS TODAY AND ENDS JULY 30TH

3) ALL RESULTS, THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE GORGEOUS MUST BE SHARED via blog, fb, instagram etc.

4) NO NEW PATTERNS – self-drafting is okay but not one more penny is to be spent.

The first day is the hardest, so I am glad I warmed up. To save time, I am going to work by color. This will allow me to use the same threads on the serger and sewing machine and I can go from project to project. Today is white & ecru. Here is the pile of everything I have that can be stitched up with white and ivory thread.

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Heavier, suit weight fabrics and cottons are at the back, blouse or dressweight is in the middle and knits and novelty are at the bottom. I see some Dirndl skirts, a maxi dress, and some quick tops. The suit weight goods are another matter. A serious review of my existing patterns is in order! However, to build momentum, I am going to start at the bottom and work my way up. Results are on the way!

If you have a stash and want to join in – I would love to have some company.  Happy Sewing!

Atelier, Bridal Wear, Couture, DIY Sewing Room Projects, DIY Wedding, Free Sewing Tutorial, Sewing, Sewing and Embroidery, Wedding Dresses

Sewing an Organza Wedding Dress

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There was a question on PR regarding this dress and my reply is below but I would love to get a second, third and so on…opinions. The train is stunning ideas?

I took the time to make a miniature/quarter scale version of this. Of course, you have been sewing for thirty years so I am sure you will figure it out.It was a fun way to pass an otherwise dreary day. In case anyone else is interested here is what I did.

My model required the skirt to be made of:
The organza layer
an very thin satin underlining.
A second underlining
A lining

The organza sections begin with a long strip of cross grain fabric. There are four sections shown in the photo so I made four rows. The bottom layer (based on my count) has at least eight strips of organza. Layer one, for all rows, is a strip of cross grain at least 3 times the length of the section circumference of the skirt. Using a template for the crescent, I made festoons of various lengths. This is done by cutting wide strips of cross grain fabric into swag shapes. Create the strips by cutting (I am converting this to full size) 20″ WOF. Using a French seam, connect the strips until there is a length 9 times the length of the skirt section. Use a piece of Bristol board to make a template for the swags. Each swag needs to be 12″ at least to allow for overlapping (I don’t know how tall the bride is). The deep swags put the fabric on bias without using circles. Take the strip and fold it so that you get a manageable length but do not over fold or you will lose the “organic” look and wind up with more of a crinoline look (I did this and had to tear it all out). Stack all eight layers together, basting the layers to prevent shifting. Now place your template and begin cutting swags. BE IRREGULAR in the intervals. Next, I used my ruffler attachment to gather the swag layers onto the first strip of cross grain. The ratios of three times the length being attached to nine times the length (it has to be divisible) worked out perfectly for me but I was working on a small scale so maybe do a test run. That completes the first row of organza. The second row seemed to have six layers, as do the subsequent rows. Repeat the process until all four rows are done.

I am assuming that to even attempt something like this you have a dressform. I also assume that other than the boning showing through (seen on another thread) the bodice has gone well, which is great because corsets can be difficult and a downright beast to sew long form IMHO. To create the first underlining I used a half circle skirt for the front portion and a full circle for the back as the back clearly has much more flare and fullness. Place the underlining on the dressform and then put the bodice on so that the skirt is under the bodice. I then marked the end of the lace, (it is uneven) so I would know where to place the first row.

I laid out the underlining on a lap desk so that I could mark the location of the remaining layers. The distance between one layer and the next seems to work out as about 9″ but of course this is variable based on the height of the client.

The organza layers should be manageable now that they are gathered. I pinned the layers, draping each one using my lines as a guide but not sticking to the lines perfectly. This ebb and flow of the rows leaves a very pretty effect. Stitch the rows to the underlining.

The second underlining I made was just a single full circle. I put it on Mary (my scale doll) and then hand stitched the first underling to the second underling, folding and draping as pleased my eyes. The rest is easy, just sew the bodice to the skirt and do the final lining. Done.

There is always more than one way to get the job done but I am pretty happy with how my mini version worked out. I didn’t bother, too tired etc, to make so many layers nor finish the dress but it was fun to figure it out. Good luck and I look forward to the photos!