Monthly Archives: May 2009

By special request

One of my close friends recently had a very premature baby.  He’s doing pretty well considering how early he was born, and we have lots of people holding him in their thoughts for his continued good progress.  In preparation for his homecoming, his mom asked that I make him a wooby (spelling???).  Her first son has one and she wanted one made for the latest addition to her family.  Fair’s fair, right? 

I don’t have any experience in wooby making, but I will give it a try.  Having never seen one before, I asked her for an exact description.  She said that it was a soft cotton on one side and flannel on the other with batting inbetween and quilted.  There is no binding.  The dimensions are 36″ by 54″.   I have never quilted before, so this project will definitely challenge me.  I want to make this as simply as possible to ensure a quality outcome, but still have it be beautiful. 

If you’ll recall, I have the perfect fabric for a little boy.  Shall we take a look at it again?  Oh thank you for saying yes! 

Jack's fabric's with orange cotton lining

Jack's fabric's with orange cotton lining

I am going to use the rockets print.  Isn’t that so cute?!?  I bought a really cute orange striped flannel from recently and it goes perfectly with the rockets cotton. 



I’m so excited.  I think I already have batting from when my mom worked on a quilt at my apt a couple of years ago.  I will have to see I have enough of it though.  I think I will use the flannel to create a simple binding too.  And I will embroider his name and birthdate on it too!  I have those options on my Viking Emerald 183.  Ooooh, I have so many ideas right now,  I can’t wait.  Maybe I’ll start this tonight!

My only question is, what kind of design should I do for the quilting???  Any suggestions?  A rocket shape?  Is that too complicated?  Free form?  a grid?  Help people!  I know that when my mom quilts, she tries to incoporate the theme of the quilt into the actual quilting.  *sigh*  Uh oh, I feel beginneritis coming on again…

Well anyway, happy sewing everyone!


Day 2 — Moulage Class with Kenneth King

My apologies for not writing this sooner, but yesterday was just too full a day. 

Wow, I am just digging this class.  I am so excited to see each stage and to see the sloper take shape.  It feels like magic.  It’s like when you see a photo as it develops in the chemicals.  Suddenly a shape, a figure, just appears out of nowhere.  Now if only my thighs weren’t so scarily large.  😉 

We finished the front pattern piece and here’s the funny thing, drew the back piece right on top of the front pattern piece.  Because all of the measurements refer back to each other and the system of points and axes (plural of axis) are also referential, it makes sense to put both pattern pieces on the same piece of paper.  So cool!  The back pattern piece went together much more quickly than the front. 

Two things of note:

  1. When we added our darts, Mr. King instructed us to make the inner side (towards the center) of the dart a straight line and the outer side of the dart to be curved inwards.  I didn’t exactly catch the reasoning behind this, but will ask again at the next class.  I thought it was important to mention here.
  2. My pelvic tilt is quite significant:  2 1/2 inches different from back to front.  When incorporating this in the sloper, Mr. Kind said that I should only put a 1 1/2 inch difference and that we’d tweak it in the muslin fitting.  I will be interested to see how much tweaking we’ll need to do here.  And who knew I was so crooked!?

The next stage was to transfer the patterns to fresh sheets of paper.  The class syllabus had asked us to bring kraft paper to draw our patterns on, but I only had pattern tissue at home, so that’s what I brought.  And boy was I glad that I had it for this stage, because all I had to do was trace it out.  No need for the tracing wheel and carbon paper.  Whoopee!  I was done in minutes while everyone was arduously using their wheels.  *patting myself on the back*  The only downside to the pattern tissue is that it’s more delicate than kraft paper.  So, at some point, I may want to transfer my sloper pattern to a more durable paper.   However, my extra time meant more conversation time with Kenneth King!  He has some great stories and a wonderful sense of humor. 

Once we had our pattern pieces traced, Mr. King showed us how to check our crotch curve.  He layed my pattern pieces over each other.  You could see how the crotch curve needed some tweaking, otherwise you would have a very painful seam there.  Here’s a drawing of how he smoothed out the curves (it’s a very basic drawing made with a hard to use pc program, so please don’t laugh).  The red line is end result for the crotch curve.curve

And here are pics of the patterns as they stand now, after Mr. King smoothed the crotch curve.

top pant sloper fronttop pant sloper backfront and back pant slopers

It’s very hard to photograph tracing paper I’ve found, so these are the best pictures I could get.  (Please ignore the toes in the bottom right.)

Next week, we are going to cut out the muslin and start sewing it up!  And then, we’ll make fitting adjustments if needed.  Ok, who am I kidding, we’ll probably have a lot of tweaking to do.   But how amazing is it that I will have a pants sloper? 

Can’t wait!!!

Please give Hope for Kai


Kai is a little boy who lives in my neighborhood in Lower Manhattan.  He is only 5 years old and has been diagnosed with leukemia.  Kai needs a bone marrow transplant to live.  He needs it now, yesterday even. 

The great news is that you can help save his life just by registering to be a bone marrow donor.  If you’re not a match for Kai, you may be for someone else.   You could be hero to Kai, to someone, to me, to everyone by doing one small thing…  Please consider registering to be a bone marrow donor.  It’s just a simple test, swabbing your mouth.  And then, if you’re a match, it’s just a simple out-patient procedure to donate bone marrow I know you haven’t even thought about (thanks to Patti Digh for pointing that out). 

Please give Hope for Kai!

Hello, my name is Elizabeth…

and I am a beginner.   Yes, this is an admission.  I don’t like thinking of myself as a beginner at anything (let’s just ignore the title of this blog, shall we?).  To spend an eternity in the beginner stage sounds like my version of hell on earth.  Let me tell you though, I feel like it’s been an eternity since I’ve been in the beginner sewist stage.  So I’ll let you do the math and figure out where I am right now.  Are you visualizing flames and pointy beards?  Then, yes, you guessed correctly — I’m in beginner sewing hell.  I know enough to toss around words like “sloper” and “single fold bias tape,” but not enough to actually trace out a Burda pattern or even sew one. 

Yes, I am admitting to something else — I haven’t traced out the Burda top yet.  I went so far as taking the pattern pages out of the magazine, looking at the pattern and reading the instructions.  And became stuck.  Warning: this next part is going to sound like I’m mentally impaired!  I couldn’t figure out one of the pattern pieces.  It didn’t have a title, and seemed to have three places where an arm could go.  It just didn’t make any sense to me at all.  So I looked to the instructions for edification, but none was found.  Because as we all know, Burda instructions are few and far between.  ARGH.  Nothing makes you feel dumber than reading plain English and not understanding it.  Nothing!

My friend Victoria keeps sending me subtle messages (like writing in bold capital letters) to use Simplicity patterns.  I think she may have mentioned this tip 2 or 3 (ok, really about 40) times.  Apparently Simplicity and Kwik Sew patterns have more and better written instructions than some other pattern companies and are geared for really stupid people like me beginner sewists.  Heather from Luckylibbet suggested this Kwik Sew top as a close alternative to the Burda one:

Kwik Sew 3603

Kwik Sew 3603

I think I am going to “listen” to all the hints I’ve been getting (thanks for being persistent Victoria!) and start with this Kwik Sew pattern and some other Simplicity patterns that I have been researching on PatternReview before I get into more difficult pattern companies like Burda.  

I guess it all just boils down to wanting to bite off more than I can chew.  Hello, my name is Elizabeth and I have beginneritis.  Symptoms include:

  • delusional belief in personal sewing prowess
  • the urge to make really complicated things way beyond the scope of said prowess
  • the urge for perfection from day 1
  • delusional belief that no wadders will occur

Do you notice the trend in delusional thinking here?  I am sure there are more symptoms, but those are the top ones of which I could think.  Thanks to Victoria, I now have an Rx for this pesky illness: a steady diet of simple patterns, a la  Simplicity, Kwik Sew or Very Easy Vogue. 

And so my more advanced sewing friends, I will put in an order for new, simpler patterns tonight and adjust my sewing goals to my actual current skill set.

Until next time, happy sewing!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Now that I am a mother, I understand my mom a lot more, as I am sure all new mothers do.  For instance, I used to think she was joking when she prayed for patience.  Now I know better; she was praying for patience so that she wouldn’t end up in jail for seriously harming any of us.  The main difference between me and my mom in terms of parenting is age.  She was 21 when she had me and I just made it under the 40 mark when I had Jack.  4o years old is a generation older than 21, especially considering starting a family.  However, I still feel as helpless as she did most likely at times, despite my years and the “wisdom” they supposedly bring.

I have new-found respect for my mom when it comes to domesticity.  She was the queen of a clean house and a dinner on the table by 6pm, despite a full time job.  I don’t know how she did it.  I find that take out is my best friend and let’s not even get into how I fail at “keeping house”.  We almost never had takeout when I was a kid.  My mom cooked every night!  She was one of the few moms in the neighborhood that did.  Everyone wanted to have dinner at my house.  As a matter of fact, there was one point in my early adolescence that I refused to go out to dinner with the family because my mom’s cooking was way better than restaurant food.  I would rather have had cheerios at home than go out to dinner.  And I did.  Stay home and eat cheerios, that is.  My mom is an amazing cook.  She grew up cooking only Mexican cuisine, but, in adulthood, she mastered American favorites and studied French cooking when she lived in France.  When I found out I had been accepted to Northwestern University’s opera program (after three attempts!), I asked that she make Steak Au Poivre for my victory dinner.  It was amazing and I still remember it.

My mom is always there for me.  No matter what.  She is always supportive of whatever I do.  Music, purple hair, dropping out of college, returning to college, sewing, and Jack.  When I announced I was pregnant with Jack and going to raise him as a single parent, she was the first to stand behind me.  When Jack was born, she stayed with me for five weeks while I recovered from a C-section and was hazed introduced to motherhood, all the while fighting her own extreme tiredness. 

She may not think she is brave, but she is.  She may not think she is strong, but she is.  She is the strongest person I know.  I guess that’s why she’s survived so many struggles.  I have heard that God doesn’t give you what you cannot handle.  Well, apparently my mom can handle a lot.

I hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day Mom.  Know that I am finally starting to understand what it means to be a mother and what you did for us as a family.  I have lots of hope and dreams still, even as a woman “of a certain age”, but my main dream is to be as strong, supportive and as wonderful a mother to Jack as you were to all of us.

I love you Mom.

My family (Mom's on the bottom right)

My family (Mom's on the bottom right)

Moulage class — Day 1 debrief

Wow!  I am so glad I am taking this class.  It’s amazing.  Kenneth King is amazing.  This system is amazing.  Truly!

So, where to start…  Kenneth King gave a brief history of moulage and spoke about his teacher (sorry forgot her name) and how he was taught.   Very interesting.  We were given two worksheets and an instruction booklet on how to create our custom pant pattern or sloper.  Basically the pant pattern is based on three main measurements beyond the obvious of the length measurement and where they fall on your body.  The natural waist is the starting point.  After finding and measuring your natural waist, you find and measure the half hip and the full hip points on your body.  From there, you plug in those measurements (and others) into some equations in the booklet and voila, you have all the information to start drafting your sloper!  I can’t believe how simple it is.  Of course, the real genius is coming up with those equations, which Mr. King so kindly provided. 

We buddied up and took each other’s measurements (that’s where errors might occur right off the bat, but you can correct them, if any were made,  in the muslin).  Next up, we used those measurements to calculate all the points with which to draft our sloper.  Kenneth was hilarious throughout the  class and what a great teacher.  He astounded us with his amazing talent of figuring out the calculations in a nanosecond — we’re talking fractions here, not a decimal system in sight.  There were two FIT students in the class, but he treated the newbie students (one of which was me, of course) no differently; he was never condescending.  Oh and he’s really patient with dumb people (me again) and he’s a natural teacher.

Then we started drafting one of the front pattern pieces (two legs = two front pattern pieces).  Here’s a pic of the top of my sloper so far.  Apologies for the poor picture.  I was using pencil to draw my lines on tissue paper and it really doesn’t photograph well.pant-sloper-front

 The top line is the natural waist.  The next line below is the half hip and the third is the full hip.   You can see the crotch curve on the right. 

The instructions had all sorts of directions, based on your measurements and calculations, to adjust the sloper so that it would work in 3-d form.  For instance, if point G was more than 1/2 inch away from axis E then move point G to within the zone of axis E and adjust the same amount on the other side of the sloper.  If you don’t understand that, I’m sorry but I don’t know how to explain it better.  Makes sense in my head!  😉  Now I know why pattern instructions are so inscrutable.  It’s really hard to write good instructions.   So I had a couple of those adjustments to make and now I have one of the front pattern pieces to my sloper done (well almost — we still need to add the waist darts).  But how awesome is that????!!!!!

We have 5 more classes and I can’t wait.  Mr. King said he would teach us how to make different styles of pants by adjusting our sloper too.  So cool.  I am one of those people who learns by seeing and doing, so taking classes is really the way to go for me.  It’s hard for me to translate written directions into the physical world.  I think I may have already mentioned that before once or twice.  😉

Happy pattern drafting everyone!

Sew excited!!!

Tonight is my first class with Kenneth King at Sew Fast Sew Easy and I can’t wait!  It’s a class on moulage to draft our very own personal, customized, just for us pant pattern!!! 

Courtesy of Sew Fast Sew Easy, here’s the class description:

The moulage is the foundation of the couture pattern drafting system taught by the Ecole Guerre-Lavigne in Paris. This is a system of measuring the figure, calculating, and drafting a pattern. Using this system of measuring, you will draft your own custom fit pant pattern.

In this class, you will learn:

–  Some history of the development of pattern drafting systems
–  The proper way to measure the figure, for this system
–  Calculations of the measurements in both inches and metric
–  How to draft the Moulage front and back pant pattern.
–  How to make adjustments to the muslin pant pattern to ensure proper fit. 
–  Demoing how to add side front pockets, pleats, high faced waistband, fly front—details to enable them to actually make a trouser they want to wear

I thought this might be too advanced for me being the humble beginner that I am, but others have assured me that now is a good time to take it.  So I am!  And I can’t wait.  Did I mention that already?  That I can’t wait?  Oh wait, maybe I did.  Well you can’t blame me for being excited. 

I have Mr. King’s book, Cool Couture, but have only skimmed through it yet.  Hmm…  guess I should have already, shouldn’t I have?  It looked divine though.  I also saw him on Threadbangers and discussed all over the “internets”.  Kenneth King sounds like an amazing teacher and I can’t wait to take the class.  (Oh I said that already.  Oops!)

Stay tuned for the first class debrief tomorrow!