Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Oliver + S Heart Ornament times 10

Oliver + S Valentine Hearts
When some were done and others were in progress

I don't craft too often, but when I saw the Oliver + S heart tree on the Seasoned Homemaker blog, I had to craft.

This was back in early February, around the time I had sewed the red + white gingham flannel shirt and had some scrappy baps left over.

I got this crazy idea that it would fun to make 10 hearts, one for each member of my mindfulness meditation group, and distribute them to the group at the med before Valentine's Day.   After all, one of our teacher's most favorite sayings is, "What is the most loving thing you can do for yourself?"    Which, the night before our weekly meeting Valentine's week, turned out to be giving myself a break and not staying up late to get them all done.
Oliver + S hearts

I just finished the 11th one this week. For the longest time I had 9 of them done (and I had given one away to my work photographer).   So those 8 have been hanging on my wall in my sewing room.

Oliver + S hearts

I downloaded the free pattern here from the Oliver + S website.  There's a really cute family story there too about why Liesl likes hearts on trees.

Because I was going to make so many of them, I decided to cut a cardboard template.  But using the heart as a template meant I couldn't center my heart for cutting out.  I wound up using the leftover cardboard (with the heart cut out) as the template instead, instead of the cardboard heart itself!

Making Oliver + S heart ornaments

This was my first one, where I cut it out straight on and used a thick ribbon.

making Oliver + S Heart ornaments

Cutting it on the bias was MUCH cuter.  As was using thinner ribbon.
It mostly disappears but not completely because the gingham was not printed on grain.
Can you see the heart?

Then I realized, the lines need to match when right sides are together.  But again, there were issues with the printing of the fabric.
Oliver + S Valentine Hearts
Adorbs, right?
Oliver + S Valentine Hearts

I love this basket.
Oliver + S Valentine Hearts

It amazes me how differently they all turned out.
Oliver + S hearts
Like real life, no two hearts are the same.
Oliver + S hearts

Each is unique.
Oliver + S hearts
Some of the lines line up better than others.
Oliver + S hearts

Soooo....what is the most loving thing you can do for yourself?

Be well!!!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Jalie 2682 done

Jalie fleece

Ever since PR Weekend Chicago 2011, I have been wanting to make the Jalie 2682 polar fleece.  PR Member "Kathy in NM" was wearing hers and I just *loved* it.  The quarter zip looked difficult but she assured me it was easy.

Jalie 2682
In the meantime I felt very intrigued by zippers, which resulted in zipper pouches, interior zipper pockets in bags and even a briefcase-style bag with a chunky metal zipper.

Turns out Kathy was right---the front, upper portion of the bodice of the Jalie is lined and inserting the zipper is just like inserting one in a zipper pouch.  It's basically a zipper sandwich.  It is *super cleverly constructed* and generally fun to sew.

I made a muslin and a half and then the real deal.  I consulted with Sunny Gal first who said I would probably need to lengthen the upper bodice half an inch to lower the armhole and give more room, and possibly widen the arms.  She was right!

The chocolate brown fleece is from fabric.com and the zipper from SIL Thread.  I used a 10" zipper; next time I'll use a 12".

Muslin #1:
This was size "V" for "Very Tight" and "Very much matches my bust measurement".   This is way too tight in the upper arm/armpit area and in my biceps.  I couldn't wait to take it off.  I didn't hem it because it was just a muslin. Also the upper bodice ends at a strange place.  Definitely needs to be lower.

super tight Jalie muslin (size V)

Muslin #1.5
At that moment I felt most of my fitting issues were in the upper bodice so I made a sample out of some hot pink fleece from Joann's remnant bin that I've had in stash forever, and a stash zipper that had tarnished in the middle somehow.  I think this was a straight "X" for "Xtra space".  But it wasn't enough.

Jalie muslin #2

The real deal
This is size X, but with a half inch added to the upper bodice and also fanning out the sides in the bust/armpit area to create more room.  That meant the sleeve cap was longer, so I was able to add more width to the sleeve for the bicep.

So here was my snowy look from two Mondays ago.  This was the only decent-ish front picture in the bunch so here you go:
Jalie fleece

My work photographer felt the prior version was much better looking/fitting but it is just too tight for me to wear.  Maybe in a stretchier fabric I could get away with it.  This fleece has 25% crosswise stretch.

The zipper:
Jalie fleece

The sleeve caps were really, really hard.  I had *not* practiced my sleeve caps with fleece and I should have!!  They were lumptastic because I am not used to handling such loft.  Always always always make a sample first.

Finally I got my sleeve cap to look like this.  Finally something smooth.
Jalie fleece

I blind hemmed that bad boy.


Jalie fleece

And because I'm all excited about the serging

Jalie fleece
Jalie fleece

Verdict: I don't know that I love it but I'm glad that I finally made it and in the appropriate season.  Another item to cross off my 2014 goals list!!!  It is now hanging in the magic closet with the muslin.  I might try again with a performance-type fabric that is stretchier...we'll see!!  There are just so many other things I want to sew and I am kind of itching to sew a dress again, and maybe (spoiler alert) another cardigan... I am only behind by two "completed garment" posts now.

Be well!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

McCalls Focus Group at the American Sewing Expo Recap

Hi everyone! Thanks for your comments on my McCalls red gingham pj top.  It makes me smile!  My mom emailed me to say it makes her want angel hair pasta.  Ha!

Sooooo...Shams's multi-day, multi-post write up of her very recent day trip to Puyallup to meet with the McCalls folks based on her Open Letter to Vogue post has inspired me to write a recap of my not-as-recent experience as a participant in one of the McCalls Focus Groups at the American Sewing Expo in Novi, MI at the end of last September.

Friday: with Haberman fake fur
Me at the ASE in 2013, hugging Haberman fabric while wearing a McCalls 6078 top and J Stern Design jeans.

It was my 4th year at the ASE and the first time I'd seen McCalls at the expo.  Simplicity was there my first two years and then stopped going.  I have to say that out of the Big 4 I prefer New Look for the best fit (and that all pattern sizes are in one envelope), and was sad when Simplicity stopped going to the Expo (Simplicity owns New Look), though maybe their staff was happy not to have me lingering at their booth every day!    McCalls owns Butterick, Vogue and Quik Sew.  I haven't sewn all that many McCalls or Butterick patterns, and have only sewn one Quik Sew, but I have sewn several Vogues now and my favorite dress I made last year is Vogue 1351.  Lately I've been sewing more independents (and buying more McCalls/Vogues) but more on that later.

Saturday:  me in Vogue at the McCall's booth with Gertie's dress
Me wearing my favorite dress of 2013, Vogue 1351, next to Gertie's dress in the McCalls booth at the ASE 2013.

I also want to say that Puyallup sounds even more exciting than the ASE based on Shams's description of it.  :)   The recap of my 2013 ASE experience is here.  I agree with Shams, when you return from one of these events you want to hit the sewing machine ASAP.

The ASE had a Survey Monkey poll during the last week of August (I remember because it was my vacation), seeking volunteers to be in one of the three McCalls focus groups.  I had a pretty packed class schedule but there was one time slot that would work, so I volunteered for that time slot.  The questions were basic:  how long have you sewn for, where do you live, what do you sew, how old are you, how much do you make, and I think most if not all questions were answered with radio buttons, not free text.

Somehow I was chosen and my three sewing friends who also volunteered were not, leading to much envy and jealousy on their part (I am not making this up, they were quite jealous!).  We were all from out of state (and in one case out of the country!) but as far as distance I traveled the longest (from NJ) and thought maybe that's why I was chosen, but who knows!

I arrived not having eaten lunch and was pleasantly surprised to see that lunch was provided.  Everyone else was finishing up and I ravenously ate my sandwich and potato salad.   A written survey was provided and we all filled it out.  It was the same survey they had in their expo booth, that any visitor to their booth could fill out.

Keep in mind this was a little over 5 months ago, so some details may not be as clear.  There were about 10-15 of us in my session, the chosen ones.   We sat around a long, conference room style table.  Kathy Wiktor (as seen on Shams's post) was leading the session with support from one of her coworkers.  Various other coworkers (several of whom I recognize in Shams's post) came in and out of the room.  Several chosen ones arrived late due to traffic (I could see the traffic backed up the interstate from my hotel room window).

I only recognized one other chosen one, because she is a past Passion for Fashion winner.  I didn't know anyone else.

We were fairly representative bunch, of all shapes, sizes, and ages, and judging by their answers, of varying sewing experience too, from only sewing for a year to sewing for decades.  Not all were garment sewers.  Some were crafters.  What was also interesting to me was most in my group do not read sewing blogs and as far as I could tell, I was the only one who writes a sewing blog.

I'm not sure that anyone else was wearing clothes that they made themselves.  I wore my ruffled McCalls 6518 that I had made last March, the one where I learned how to use the narrow hem foot on my sewing machine on a curve.  

McCall's 6518 DONE
The narrow rolled hem foot
McCall's 6518 in progress

Here were some of the questions asked.  This isn't the order of the questions, but rather in order of what I thought was most interesting....and the number one most interesting question was:

Q.  Pretend there are no more pattern sales.  What is the maximum price you would pay for a McCalls pattern?  We know that indies are charging upwards of $20, and that you are buying them.  (Kathy noted that the pattern sales are NOT going away.  Just pretend they were.)

A.  $5 and $10 was the most common answer.  Someone said it depended on what the pattern was, they would pay less for a basic pj pattern and more for something more elaborate.

I did not respond but...if I really like a pattern, I will pay for it (and yes, I am paying $20 and more for indie patterns).

Q.  Do you like having the finished garment measurements on the envelope?
A.  OMG *my* answer was a resounding YES.  This is one of my two pattern pet peeves I wanted to voice, and I got to speak my mind.  The back of a Vogue pattern envelope has acres of space, but often it says to see the pattern inside to find out the finished garment measurements.  I'm sure Joann's employees don't want us rifling through pattern pieces to find finished garment measurements.

I said that the measurements should be on the back and that they should include bust, waist AND hip as sometimes only bust is included and if it's a dress, I want to know all 3.  I also said I do not care about the back length measurement, though others said they did care.  I said I usually go to their website to find the finished garment information (but after the expo I have been finding cases where the finished measurements are not even on the web site!)

 As Shams said in her post, the McCalls folks told her they will be adding the finished pattern measurements to the back of the envelope.    Hurrah!!!

Vogue envelope
I think it was in 2008 when ATP told me about selecting a size based on the finished garment measurements, and that started to turn things around for me wrt fit.

Vogue envelope closeup

Here's a McCalls envelope, which is smaller but still, plenty of space for finished measurements.

McCalls envelope

Q.  How do you feel about the size ranges in the pattern envelopes?
A.  This is my second pet peeve.  Usually I am either a 12 or a 14 based on finished garment measurements, OR if it's a dress sometimes I'm a 12 grading to 14.  but sometimes the 12 is in one envelope and the 14 is in the other envelope, i.e. there is no overlap between the ranges..  I said that sometimes, if it's a Joann's 99 cent sale, I'll buy both size ranges just to be sure.  

I tried to find examples of this in my pattern stash to photograph, but they were all simplicity examples.  There are McCalls examples, I just don't have any of their patterns where I bought both size ranges.

Others said they liked when three sizes used to be in an envelope, like the 8-10-12.

Q.  What is your impression of Vogue patterns, McCalls, Butterick and Quik Sew?
A.  I said that Vogue is designer, better fitting, and more fashionable.  Others generally agreed..  Some said Vogues are the most difficult of the bunch.

There is no distinction in my mind between McCalls and Butterick, but others definitely had opinions (and negative at that).

I have no opinion of QS either, but basic and dependable were the general consensus.

Q.  Do you feel the size ranges represent your size?
A.  I thought this may have been  a question in response to several blog posts by indies and sewists alike talking about the dirth of cute clothing for plus sizes, but there weren't a lot of takers on this one in my group.

I think the big 4 could find a niche with the plus size community if they improved their pattern sizing and had better clothing options. Many indies are, by their own admission from the posts I've read, not equipped to have 2 size blocks for their clothing, though others are, like Lolita Patterns.

Q.  What independent pattern companies have you purchased from?
A.  I have sewn:  Jalie, Jennifer Stern Designs, Angela Wolf, Sewaholic, Style Arc.  After the conference I also sewed UHandbag.  The only one I could think of to say at the time was Sewaholic (most likely because of that week long Sewaholic Thurlow bender I was on with my self imposed ASE deadline).  (btw, my next post is going to be about a Jalie I finished up last weekend, and I'm planning on sewing a StyleArc today.)

Others mentioned independents like Cake, Colette, and By Hand London, and some I had never heard of.

After the focus group, I learned from another one of their employees that McCalls actually prints the Sewaholic patterns (she said she knows Tasia and that she's so sweet).  In fact, at the ASE McCalls had designated time in the social media lounge if you wanted to talk to them about having your own pattern line printed by them, and had at least 2 employees from their Manhattan, KS plant there to chat.

Q.  Should there be more craft patterns?  More costumes?  More steampunk?
A.  Well, my answer was hell no, but others were enthusiastically saying yes yes yes, especially more steampunk.  I don't craft that much, I make a few bags, I make a costume once in a blue moon, I'm not into steampunk.

Q.  If we offered kits that included the pattern, fabric, and all notions (thread, buttons, zipper) to make a garment, would you buy it?
A.  It is funny, at the time I said no, but I just bought Gertie's slip kit to make the slip from her newest Butterick pattern.  But I think that's mainly because the slip requires things that are not easy to locally source (like the rings, lingerie elastic, etc).  

I remember someone saying that she wouldn't need the notions because she has a notions stash and there seemed to be much head shaking agreement on that point.

Q.  What do you think of the pattern envelope?  Do you prefer pictures to sketches?
A..  I said YES!  Pictures are better than sketches, by a lot!!  And this is where I threw in that usually it's not the pattern envelope that inspires me, it's seeing the garment others have sewn up and model on their blogs and on patternreview.com
Pictures please!

I never would have bought that vogue on the left based off that line drawing.  I bought it after seeing what Deepika did with it on patternreview.

Q.  If we had youtube videos that offered sewing help, like how to insert a zipper, would you watch them?
A.  Yes! The group was definitely interested.  I think this is where I threw in that I also learn tips about sewing up patterns and workarounds for any difficulties through reading sewing blogs.

Q.  Social media.  Are you on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest?
A.  Well, most seemed to be on Facebook and Pinterest, some on Instagram and I think I was the only tweeter.  (I'm not on the others!)  I asked if they (McCalls) have a twitter acct and they do not.  I said that it is fun to tweet a garment back to the pattern company and have them comment on it.

Q. What sewing blogs do you read?
A.  Me and one other lady were mentioning sewing blogs but everyone else was silent.  One woman said, rather incredulously, "you have time to read sewing blogs????" and that's when I said that I write one.  No one else said they write one.

One of the blogs I mentioned is Male Pattern Boldness and Kathy said "Oooh, that's a good one!"

I was wondering if they had read Shams's Open Letter to Vogue, or KID MD's "Big 4 Experiment" but I didn't say anything.

Q.  Do you use the body type ratings system on the Vogue patterns?
A.  Most said yes, but I don't use this feature.

Q.  Do you use the ratings system on the patterns (like very easy, easy, advanced)?
A.  The past PFF winner said she looks for advanced patterns because she likes the challenge of them.

Q.  When you're at the fabric store, how do you approach the catalog?  Do you like to have the yardage and measurements in the pattern catalog?  (we actually started the hour by being told to pretend we're at Joann's and start looking through the catalogs on the table in front of us).
A.  Well, I generally look at the front of the catalog because that is where the new patters are, but, I don't really look through the book anymore. I know the patterns I want to buy because I've seen them on blogs or saw them on the pattern website.  It's rare for me to sit in Joann's.  Typically I want to get out of there as fast as possible, and I don't have that much free time for retail shopping generally.  I think the last time I was at Joann's was Dec 31.

Those are all the questions I can remember.

The little brochures/being inspired by YOU
I don't think we talked about it, but...in the booth I told them that I *love* the little brochures of their new pattern releases that are included in the patterns when you buy off their web site.   I bought my favorite vogue of all time, V1351, off their website (after being inspired by Sunny Gal Studio) and it came with a little brochure of their recent pattern releases.

BMV brochures

Since then, I've been going to Joann's less and buying from the BMV site during their sales (or if BMV is not on sale, sometimes I buy from etsy or ebay).  I *love* these brochures.

BMV brochures
But mainly I am inspired by YOU, by dear readers, and what YOU do with the patterns you buy. I have bought these in the past 6 months or so because of YOU....do you recognize any of your makes?
inspired by YOU

Overall impression
My general impression is that they are scared.  I think they see the indies pushing their way through the pattern market and hearing the buzz they are generating, especially among the younger sewers who are the future of sewing.   The fact that they are printing indie patterns is another sign....they are printing their competition's patterns!  Or maybe they see the market as big enough or indies as different enough for everyone, but...they definitely want to listen to what you have to say.  Tell them!!!

We each received a McCalls goodie bag and a $50 AmEx gift card (and the free lunch) in exchange for our one hour of time.   I decided that my $50 went toward this sewing machine necklace:
Christmas presents to myself
I bought it from this seller on etsy.

Phew!  Congrats if you made it to the end of this post.  Thank you Shams for inspiring me to finally recap the experience.  And thank you to McCalls for reaching out and letting our voices be heard!  Here is what I found on the Vogue site, as a way to contact them.  

And, as always, Down with Daylight Savings Time!  Let's pick a time and stick with it.

Be well!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Wintertime favorite: McCalls 3006 in red gingham flannel

McCalls 3006 in red flannel gingham
Hey everyone!
I feel like it's been sooooo long since I've written a blog post.  thanks for all your comments on my last post about using the Ikea kitchen island as a pressing stand. It is really fab.  I was using my regular ironing board with my ham which felt really unstable and insecure, and I feel very much in command at the kitchen island.  Highly recommend!

I made this a few snow days back, my favorite pajama top, McCalls 3006.   The first snow day, I goofed off.  The second snow day, I made this shirt.  The third and fourth snow days, I had to work from home.

Flannel + gingham = love.
Gingham printed off grain != love.   The gingham was printed straight in the middle and then curved/slanted off toward the edges.  Kinda weird.  Instead of cutting the pattern on grain, I cut it so the horizontal lines would meet up.  It means my garment is not straight on grain but I'm sleeping in it, not presenting in it.

McCalls 3006 in red flannel gingham
I have a RTW sweater that has this bow detail inside and I thought that would be super cute here too.
McCalls 3006 in red flannel gingham
I love serging the raw edges! Looks so profesh!!
McCalls 3006 in red flannel gingham
I cut the pocket on the bias.  I also fused interfacing to it, but I used Pam's medium weight interfacing which is overkill for something like this.  Light interfacing would have been enough.
McCalls 3006 in red flannel gingham
I placed the pocket higher than the pattern calls for.
McCalls 3006 in red flannel gingham
I make my pj tops larger than me so I can layer up.
McCalls 3006 in red flannel gingham
The red gingham just makes me so happy!
McCalls 3006 in red flannel gingham

Does gingham make you happy?
Happy Wednesday!
Be well!