Monthly Archives: November 2011

Couture Sewing Techniques- a (mini) book review

Are you a Claire Schaeffer fan? I am. She knows how to lay down some pretty awesome instructions for complex sewing tasks. I own and regularly read her original Couture Sewing Techniques, so I was definitely intrigued by Couture Sewing Techniques, Revised and Updated, published in May of this year.

Let me say I intended to read the new version, cover to cover. But I seem to be alternately obsessed about preparing for and uselessly hopping about on one foot over the VERY IMPENDING birth of my first grand-daughter (due December 3rd – eeeck!). So I didn’t read the revised version cover to cover. I did pretty darn thoroughly skim thru most chapters. I did compare the table of contents. I did compare the index. I found one complete new section in the updated book, entitled Designing with Fabric. I found new index entries, but all the ones I checked were a result of an improved index – not actual new content in the book.  And I guess it makes sense. Since these couture techniques have been around for a long while, umm, maybe there isn’t all that much new to say? I’m just saying…

I think both of Claire’s books are superb references. I think either would be a great addition to many sewing libraries. Either, but not both. Do you own one of Claire’s books? What do you think? How often do you use it?

If you are looking to add a great resource to your personal collection, you can purchase either edition below:

disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links that earn commissions for Sew Maris.

Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen

 

Pattern Review Day – Seattle 2011

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Yes, I know I am late getting this post up. Sorry! But in case you missed the announcement, Pattern Review celebrated 10 years this month, and several cities around the country hosted a PR Day get-together on November 19th. We were lucky enough to have someone step forward to organize one for Seattle – thanks for all your hard work, Jacqui (pretty lady standing in the pix above)!

It was pretty much an all-day event, tho I was only able to hang out with my fellow sewing nerd friends in the morning. We started at Nancy’s Sewing Basket at the top of Queen Anne hill in Seattle.  We were entertained and informed by two lovely young designers, Gina and Elizabeth, from SEWN Square One. In case you have not seen these patterns yet, you are definitely missing something. This new line is a division of Lorraine Torrence, and these patterns are very well-drafted, are fresh, modern designs, and have excellent instructions to boot. One of my students made the Go Anywhere Dress, which was designed by Gina. Adorable. Could successfully be made up in a wide variety of fabrics and be suitable for a range of occasions. Of course, I had to purchase a couple of patterns on the spot – the Swing Shift which was designed by Elizabeth, and the Upline Jacket. I am going to make the Upline Jacket in an “ikat style” print denim I have in my stash, and I am not quite sure about the Swing Shift yet. I do have to say tho,  it is so refreshing to see such hip, trendy YOUNG people interested in the art of sewing. These bright young designers definitely have their game on.

Below you can see Elizabeth is holding several of the SEWN patterns, and Gina is on the far right…almost out of the shot. Ooops. Cute, eh? 😉

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Here Gina is holding some of the sample garments while Elizabeth is describing the design features.

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After learning more about SEWN Square One, I headed to lunch with a pal from ASG, and then sadly had to head home. The rest of the gang went on to Seattle Fabrics and Pacific Fabrics in Northgate. It was definitely a fun day, and I hope to attend more PR events in the future.  If you are not a PR member, join us!

 

Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen

Black Friday

Wow, there is nothing but retail craziness this year. I used to participate a little bit when my kids were younger, and what was under the Christmas tree was REALLY important. But gradually as they grew older we all wanted to opt out of the buying frenzy, and focus more on spending time together, playing card games, cooking, eating, and just hanging out. This year I am going to try to make all or most of my gifts. Of course, that will likely involve some fabric purchases, but I am not really planning anything too extensive. (Umm, actually I have been a little light in the planning department, period, but I am just about to kick that into high gear. 😉 )

What about you? Are you participating in holiday gift-giving this year? Do you plan (or hope!) to make any of your gifts? I’d love to hear your comments!

 

Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen

Gratitude

Life is a gift, and I am very thankful for mine. Even tho I ate more than I should, and made all our traditional Thanksgiving dishes, this holiday is not really about food. It is about a way of being within the world.

Thank you, dear students, and dear readers, for enriching my life in so many ways. I hope you had a blessed and joy-filled Thanksgiving with people you love. I did.

 

Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen

Try a twinset

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I did it — I just finished my first ever twinset! Using a wool sweater knit! If you are itching (no pun intended!) to make something that will give you a lot of pleasure bang for your sewing effort buck, I suggest you try a knit twinset. I used the Loes Hinse Sweater Set pattern, which was recommended by one of my ASG sewing buddies. Simple, simple, simple. The pattern includes a sleeveless, V-necked shell and a cardigan with either long sleeves or 3/4 length. For my first effort, I decided to make the pattern exactly as instructed with long sleeves. I was feeling a little chilly today. 🙂

Seriously, you can make these 2 garments in a blink. I serged all the seams (all 8 of them!), and then topstitched around all the edges as directed. Easy peasy. All together I probably made both garments in a couple of hours. The only thing I found a little odd about the pattern is the cardigan “circumference” is exactly the same as the shell. I wanted just a bit more room in the sweater, so I added a little extra on the side seams. The shell fit perfectly, and I like the extra ease in the sweater.  

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I am jazzed to make up the red sweater knit next. It is a lighter weight but still a wool knit, and I think I have enough fabric to make two cardigans in both sleeve lengths, as well as the shell. Have you ever sewn with a sweater knit? What styles have you tried? I’d love to hear about your sweater knit fun! 

Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen

 

Vogue 8539 – done

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Finally, the double torture is over. I finished the sleeve hems and added two more rows of topstitching to the bottom hem, and decided to call this one good. I DO think it is cute, and it was warm and cozy last night when I wore it to my Bellevue neighborhood group ASG meeting.  And let’s just say I am glad it is out of my sewing room. Really glad. I will definitely think twice before buying double-cloth that needs to be separated again!

And now on to the next adventure —twin sets! I seem to have (ahem) collected a bit of sweater knit fabric. And to think I was considering buying some at Pacific Fabrics the other day! No doubt there is a purchase in my future, but first I am going to make up a few shells and cardigans using the Loes Hinse twin set pattern. I am in the mood for something simple and fun, and this exactly fits the bill.

Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen

 

Love the coat, no love for double cloth

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Thank goodness. All done except hemming the sleeves. All I can say is it is a good thing I love the coat, because I truly hated working with this fabric. Seriously hated it. Enough to consider pitching it a couple of times during construction. Separating the fleece from the nylon was no darn fun at all. My DH was able to rip it apart pretty easily, but I just don’t have the hand strength for that. And there was just too much bulk to retain the fleece in the front facings and hem edges — it had to go.  I used a razor blade to help set the fold line, and ripped the balance after my DH got it started. See how weird the naked front facing looks? Gotta love that perfectly straight edge, huh?

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Did I mention how easy it is to cut thru the nylon when using a razor blade? Umm, yeah.

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I tried mending the holes (yes, holes — I definitely made more than 1!) with fusible interfacing and fusible stay tape. No love from either of these products. Luckily, the 007 Bonding Agent did the trick. It is one big pain to apply neatly, but I repaired my damage and didn’t make it look worse. Always a plus.

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For the hem edge, I cut off the bulk of the fleece I wanted to remove with my curved blade Kai scissors, and then scraped a little more off with the razor blade.  Not a bad result, but definitely tedious.At least I managed to not add any more holes.

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Sooo glad this project is almost done. I think if it ages in the closet for a while I will enjoy wearing it…hopefully!

Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen

 

Double trouble

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I am not sure what I got myself into. <More than> a year ago I bought some fabric at SewExpo because I thought it was super cool, AND because I thought it would make such a distinctive coat for our rainy PNW days. The fabric is double cloth – one side is a slightly heathered, black sherpa fleece, and the other side is a water repellent <probably> nylon.  

Have you ever sewn with double cloth? I thought it would be really easy to whip up a coat with simple design lines, but evidently I know how to make any project more complicated.  The pattern is simple enough — Vogue 8539 —and I am making View A so no buttonholes or hood.  Simple, right?

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Let me just say this is my first double cloth experience. One way to work with this kind of fabric (and my choice for the garment)  is to create a lapped seam so there are no exposed seam allowances. The theory is that you stitch a seam wrong sides together, trim one seam allowance very close, and then pull the fleece away from the nylon on the other SA and wrap it around the trimmed seam and topstitch it down.  Sounds simple, right? Basically a felled seam. Except…..the glue used to adhere these 2 fabrics is FREAKIN’ strong. And I have arthritis in my right hand! So after for about 1 minute of pulling my hand was killing me and the 2 fabrics hadn’t budged an inch. Enter the scissor solution. I decided to trim the fleece very close with small, sharp scissors instead of pulling apart. Almost as good. Problem solved. Then I started to topstitch the lapped seam. Problem number two surfaced. I had lengthened my stitch to almost 5mm, and the stitches were uniform and consistent on the inital seam join. At this point the wrong sides (fleece) were together, and the presser foot and feed dogs were both against the nylon side of the fabric. But when I was topstitching the wrapped seam allowance, the fleece was against the feed dogs and the presser foot was against the nylon. Ruh roh. Those stitches were no longer as consistent….ugh. I ripped. I tried pulling from the back as I stitched. Maybe I should have tried a walking foot? All I can say is, this garment is not going to be an example of my best stitching. I am hoping no one driving down Aurora at 60 miles an hour will notice the wonkiness. Oh, and please notice I thought 2 rows of topstitching would be better than one. 🙂 

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Here is the coat so far – shoulder seams stitched, back darts done, and sleeves attached. Next up are side seam pockets and then the collar. I plan on making the collar fleece side out so it feels warm and soft against my neck. And I am going to have a AWESOME time cutting all that fleece off the front facing turnback. Why did I think this was going to be a fun project? Oye!!

Black double cloth raincoat

Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen

 

Fabric shopping in NYC

In case you were wondering why things were a little quiet around here, I was in the Big Apple for a few days with my DD and adorable son-in-law.  Seriously, what is more fun than being in New York? Ostensibly, I was there to help foil a dresser for my yet-to-be-born-granddaughter, and also attend another baby shower that her other G’ma hosted in Philly. But really, it’s all about the fabric in the garment district, isn’t it? 😉

I was looking for a good (read “inexpensive”) source for interfacing, and a local sewing guru suggested I check out Metro Textiles at 265 West 37th. This place is a little hard to find – it is on the 9th floor and around to the back of the building – but is definitely worth a stop if you are shopping for bargains. The owner’s name is Kashi, and he is delightful and more than happy to help. I saw loads of fabrics that I COULD have bought, but I managed to stick (mostly) to my plan for checking out his interfacing prices and quality. A couple of pretty knits did sneak their way into my bag….but that is hardly worth mentioning. Hardly at all.

Who can visit NYC and NOT stop at Mood? It is my go-to place for best all-round fabric selection—they really do have everything. I am currently obsessed with Japanese selvedge denim, and after buying some in the LA Mood this summer, I had to make a similar purchase from the NY location. No, I haven’t sewn up the piece I bought in LA yet. So what’s your point? Fabrics need to rest after they have traveled around the world, and I thought the LA piece needed a companion from NY. Before being cut up into little pieces and re-assembled into something fantastic, which when you think about it must be quite a shocking experience. Even for denim.

Continuing on my selvedge denim obsession, I also stopped at A.K. Corp which is located at 257 West 39th, and bought another similar but different companion piece. It was MUCH cheaper than the denim I bought at Mood, still has the bound selvedge edge, and is a bit lighter weight and darker wash. It looks to me like the piece from Mood is woven with both indigo and natural threads, and the piece from A.K. Corp is comprised of only indigo threads. They are currently both in the laundry, and I am interested to see how they wash up so I can do a more thorough comparison.

I made a quick stop at the Paron Annex at 206 West 40th – they have some faaaaan-tastic bargains in their 50% off selection. But by this time both my DD and I were getting tired,  intermittently soaked by heavy rains, and we still had one more stop to pick up some silk charmeuse for a bridal accessory customer….which means we did not give Paron’s sufficient attention. But this place is a definite must-visit for the next trip.

Another thing I did not get done this trip was finding a good source for “findings”. Things like zippers and waistband stabilizer. There are so many sourcesto explore in New York….but I just couldn’t drag my eight-month pregnant DD around in the rain ALL day. Next time!

Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen