Saturday, July 28, 2012

Jennifer Weiner and What I Wore: Simplicity 2633 and New Look 6843

For the past there years I have attended the Jennifer Weiner book readings at the Princeton Public Library. She is a hoot, never disappoints.

This year the deal was, if you wore a vest, you got your choice of a "I read Jennifer Weiner" tote or beach towel. (Why, you ask? Well, she explains why here and here.)

Due to traffic she arrived half an hour late, so I had to book it out of there midway through her visit to get back to a work meeting.  I tweeted that I was sad to miss the bag.  Well, through replies from Jennifer and from the Princeton Public Library, Jennifer's assistant mailed me the bag!  I am thrilled SO thrilled!!!

So here's a recreation of what I wore that day.

I sewed the vest (Simplicity 2633--one of the Project Runway patterns)  waaaay back in 2009, wore it once, never wore it again....Little did I know then, it was fated to be the Jennifer Weiner vest!!  So from now on it is known as the Vest.  It is another fun case study to look at something I sewed 3 years ago and think how I sew it differently today.  (i.e. closing it with a snap and sewing the button on the front...for starters).

I sewed the skirt, New Look 6843, 3 weeks ago.  The Vest and skirt go very well together.
Jennifer Weiner tote and what I wore
Even my dressform loves the bag. I tweeted this to Jennifer and she retweeted and said my dressform has taste.   Awwww!  My brush with a celebrity!
Jennifer Weiner tote

The bag is really high quality too!    The interior edges are finished with a Hong Kong finish (have to look that up to verify that's the right term) and the bag is super sturdy.  I have used it a few times already.

I have finally read two Jennifer Weiner books I bought ages ago but never cracked open--her novel Little Earthquakes, and her collection of short stories The Guy Not Taken (one of the stories, Swim, is the basis for her new novel The Next Best Thing).  And I finally started the Next Vest, er, Best Thing this morning.  Yay!

In other news, I bought MORE black eyed susans this morning to plant.  My car was bursting with happiness, front and back!!
my car o' black eyed susans
I decided that today would be a great day to get my hair trimmed and straightened. And then it started raining while I was at the salon. Let's see how long this lasts for!  I'm in New Look 6071, my favorite dress I've ever sewn.
NewLook 6071, no cami, with straight hair
My hair is getting long! I plan to keep growing it out for at least another year or two. NewLook 6071, no cami, with straight hair
Side view
NewLook 6071, no cami, with straight hair

Tonight my straight hair and I will spend some quality time with my serger video.   I'm going to try rethreading it from scratch (not knotting it and pulling the knots through) with MaxiLock thread.  There's another online chat tmw night for the serger class so I need to keep on making progress.

And what are you up to this evening?
Be well!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Here I go again with my serger

Thank you for your comments on my fitting issues with NewLook 6968 (and where to get a cute tailor's ham--how cool is that, that I can get one custom made??  Very cool!!)

I decided to walk away from the dress.

Tonight I pinned out the the excess on my dressform to make the under bust dart into princess seams...I might redo the side panel so it doesn't have that side dart.   (I'm sorry BeckyMc but I'm really thinking I'm going to name her Becky HomeEcky)....
 pinning out the excess

Speaking of walking away from things, last year Antoinette helped me get started with my serger. Then at the ASE I took the serger "learn and play" class.  And I tried to get my serger stitching properly, and walked away for a lot of months. Lately after sewing fraying wovens, I felt more motivated to learn the serger to have a more professional, no-fray finish on the inside of my woven garments.

Today I started the "Break your serger out of the box" class on by Jennifer Stern, which for me was really "Dust that secondhand puppy off and let's start over". Last time I talked about my serger, I didn't have cone holders and also the upper looper thread was waaaaay far away from the edge.
Well, after cramming by reading some lessons, participating in the class chat tonight, lookee here:
how far I have come these last few hours...
The top row is where I started tonight and the bottom is where I ended. Which I am documenting on my blog for my own knowledge.
tonight's winning numbers
The "thread twisting back on itself" problem I reported previously? It was still happening tonight. I asked Jennifer about it during the online chat and she said to try flipping the serger cone over. It totally worked! Thanks Jennifer!
tonight's winning numbers
And I found 3 out of 4 cone holders! Yes! They were tucked into a crevice in the back of the machine. It was like Santa left them there for me, some unexpected and very welcome gift from the sewing goddesses. And when I got out the MaxiLock thread that came with the kit fee for the serger learn and play class, it turns out I accidentally took home one cone holder with me. Woot!  Still, I used the thread Antoinette and I had purchased in NYC last year.  Maybe tmw I will be brave and rethread my machine from scratch using the color-coded MaxiLock thread. I don't need it so much for identifying the threads as now I have that down pat after the lessons tonight, but it would be cool to try what some say is the best serger thread out there.
mah serger
I did a bunch of planting today and finally have my own black eyed susan plant!
black eyed susans
I also planted some marigolds as my impatiens didn't do so well this year:
black eyed susans
I have tmw off and am looking forward to it immensely!
Be well!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

New Look 6968: I don't know what to do.

I started New Look 6968 today and I really don't know what to do about the bodice fit.
I need a 14 for the waist and hip.

I started with a 14 for the bust, but it was definitely too big.  Waay too big.  Swimming in it too big.

So then I cut a 12 for the bust, grading to 14 at the waist.

It is still too big in the chest.  I don't know what to do?

NewLook 6968 in progress, size 12 grading to 14
 NewLook 6968 in progress, size 12 grading to 14
Here I sewed the front shoulder seam as if it were a 10, bust is still 12 grading to 14.
NewLook 6968 size 10 at shoulder front, 12 at bust grading to 14
Better, side bust point seems to be right instead of too low now, but the under bust dart is almost at my bust point, not exactly what I was going for.
NewLook 6968 size 10 at shoulder front, 12 at bust grading to 14
I don't recall having this problem before with New Look. But I haven't sewn so many bust darts ever, I think just side or under, not both.
Look at what was in my garden this morning!
butterfly and rose of sharon
There have been some butterflies this year--such a great sight! I don't recall seeing butterflies in my backyard before.
butterfly and rose of sharon
Of course, bumble bees!
bumble bee and rose of sharon
And male pumpkin flowers (still waiting for a female pumpkin flower...)
male pumpkin flowers
Princeton Farmers Market flowers this week:
princeton farmer's mkt flowers
I'm going to sleep on 6968. Do I cut the bodice in a size 10 grading to 14 at the waist? Do I Frankenpattern it by making it into a princess seamed bodice? Stuff my bra with socks and pretend I'm a C cup? gosh....
Be well!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

New Look 6843 view D

NewLook 6843 view D
Just a quick post about the sewing I did this weekend: New Look 6843 view D, size 14.  Just like last week's flower skirt, but longer and in plain boring practical black fabric.    What can I say, I needed a plain black skirt that sits at the waist. Almost all of my skirts sit at the hip and I now prefer them to sit at my waist.

The fabric is a mystery synthetic that I've had in stash for YEARS. It might very well be 15 year old fabric.  There is nothing natural about this fabric whatsoever.  It's totally fake.

 NewLook 6843 view D
back view:
 NewLook 6843 view D
as for a side view, you'll have to be satisfied with a bathroom shot from earlier in the day:
New Look 6843 view D
Here it is with different shirts.
NewLook 6843 view D
NewLook 6843 view D
My waistband is probably the best waistband I ever inserted.
Darts are getting better--still need a tailor's ham.  Looked at Joann's this week but the hams were ugly.  Are there any pretty tailor's hams out there??
NewLook 6843 view D
Alas, I have a little difficulty with the invisible zipper.
NewLook 6843 view D
I *swear* when the zip was 9 inches, it curved very nicely around my bum.  I should have just left the zipper tail and not cut it.
But then I cut it down to 7 or so?
and now it sort of juts out. It really seems to be the zipper jutting out there.
It is only noticeable from a certain angle.
NewLook 6843 view D
Still, it bothers me. I think I will wear it to work anyway and see how it flies.
NewLook 6843 view D
My dressform, topless, but with a tape measure "scarf":
NewLook 6843 view D

There's at least one more skirt I plan to make soon:  The Rachel skirt.  I made it last August but it has some issues and I have enough fabric to make it again!  yea!

Here's the flower selection for today--flowers from my yard, my neighbor's yard, and the farmer's market:
assortment of flowers
My mom gave me a gardenia plant and it is blooming quite nicely. The flowers seem to turn yellow as they age.
gardenia: stages of life
Oldest to newest--and for my Texas readers, a Texas bluebells shot glass from San Antonio circa 2003.

Be well!!!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

New Look 6843 view E redux 6 years later

July 2012 New Look 6843
New Look 6843 view E, size 14, finished today 7/8/12.

Thanks everyone for your comments on my Butterick ruffle dress. That one was a real trial but I am happy I sewed it and that it turned out so well.  I wore it to work on Thursday and got lots of nice comments.

So, 6 years ago, on 7/9/06, I sewed New Look 6843 view E in a size 12.
I loved this fabric the minute I saw it at Rag Shop (RIP.) Yes, Carolyn, the one off Rt 1 in Edison (though I also went to the one off Rt 18 in East Brunswick too).
Here it is, the skirt I made 6 years ago:
New Look 6843 July 2006
New Look 6843
 Love my little "notes to self".  Also this was more than an hour....

 I wore it once, washed it, and it shrank (Those were the days of no pre-treatment!).   I could never wear it buttoned up again. But I loved the fabric and made it two more times, as Simplicity 4036 in both the short and long lengths.  So I had three versions of this skirt in total, original NL 6843 and two of S4036. Long length shown here:
Here's Simplicity 4036
Basically, NL 6843 sits at the waist and S4036 sits below the waist. After last year's pencil skirt, I am loving skirts that sit at the waist. And when I had the Big Closet Cleanout recently, I found my three versions of this skirt and decided to take the fabric from the long S4036 and make it into a properly fitting NL6843, sitting at the waist.

It was going pretty well til I realized this, half way through my new skirt:

July 2012 fail: New Look 6843
Flower power on the derriere!   

Yes, two big flowers, one on each cheek and oddly placed at that.  UGH.
So I had a nice meltdown about that, as the invisible zip there is probably the best one of my life, plus I have no more fabric....but then I remembered I still had the shorter version of 4036.

I took it apart and used the front of 4036 to make the back of my new 6843.   That way there would be no center back seam.
I inserted a side invisible zip which induced fear in me but actually went ok!  And I used a snap instead of a button and buttonhole.

invisible zipper on NL 6843 July 2012
You can see how much I have improved (zippers and darts and waistbands all much improved!)!
July 2006: New Look 6843
I have started interfacing the zipper area just to make sure nothing stretches. That was recommended to me by y'all when I had trouble with NL6000 and it seems like a good habit to be in, even if the fabric is woven and non-stretchy.  I also eased the zipper in and curved it following the curve of the skirt as per spottedroo.
interfacing the zipper area
Oh, and I used the back of the shorter skirt to make the waistband for the new one:
July 2006: New Look 6843

The length of the skirt was dictated by the length of the old short one--which sat the hip--so this one is shorter than my usual length.

Some more views: side
July 2012 New Look 6843
July 2012 New Look 6843
July 2012 New Look 6843
Me and my old skirt. (So now I have two versions of this skirt; the one that fits and the one I made 6 years ago):
July 2012 New Look 6843
The calendar says August--I'm looking at future vacation dates--not confused about which month it is...
New Look 6843 July 2012 on left, July 2006 on right
Back of both skirts:
New Look 6843 July 2012 on left, July 2006 on right
The other thing you may have noticed is all the white stuff on the floor. Back in 2006 I didn't finish any seams. So when I took the skirts apart, they were already unraveling and I cut that stuff off and a lot of it wound up on my floor!! Craziness. I'm sure Hal won't mind vacuuming up for me while I'm bringing home the bacon tmw.

So to sum up, my improvements in  6 years include:
  • finishing the interior seams (even though it's not serged, it's better than a raw edge)
  • pressing seams and darts (though I still need a tailor's ham to do this properly)
  • actually marking the dart stitching line
  • following directions for trimming
  • using an invisible zip which looks better than centered zip, IMHO
  • Actually inserting a zip on the side to preserve continuity of pattern on the back of the skirt.
  • using a sewing gauge
  • not zig zagging the hem (Though it's a curved hem and could use some work)
  • ironing the finished product
  • Never drying in the dryer any garment I make that is not pajamas or underwear.
  • pretreating fabric before working with it.
  • ironing fabric and pattern before working with it.
It all makes a difference, but it took 6 years to get there. said it was 100F yesterday; my thermometer registered 90F:
90F in my backyard (100F according to
Bumblebees LOVE rose of sharon and its delicious pollen.  And I love bumblebees.  I love the sound they make, how they look covered in pollen, and the fact that they leave me alone.  Their interest lies in pollen, not me nor my food (unlike honeybees, who love me for my food).
bzzt!  bumble bees and rose of sharon
Did you know? Cynthia Rowley has a line Now your cuts and scrapes can be bandaged in style....
Cynthia Rowley bandaids
Princeton Farmer's Market flowers for this week:
Princeton Farmer's Market flowers
Be well!!!