Monthly Archives: September 2010

Slow down, you move too fast


Thank you to everyone who participated in yesterday’s poll and for sharing your great advice. A lot of the advice was to tell me to slow down and to go with the process. I will definitely do that. The overwhelming voting result was to interface. I put in an order with Pam Erny’s interfacing supply site. But I just found out it won’t arrive here until Thursday. I can’t wait that long people to work on my coat.

Coat update: I cut out the lining two nights ago using cans from my pantry as weights instead of pinning the silk. This method worked great until I realized that one of the cans had oil or grease at the bottom which stained through the pattern onto both layers of silk of the back pattern piece. Needless to say, I was pretty shredded about this.


Long story short: I braved the torrential rain and tornado warnings today to go uptown to Kashi’s Metro Textiles in the garment district for a little retail therapy. I went because I was on a mission for interfacing, but thought I could stop at Kashi’s too. I went to Kashi’s first actually and ended up staying there the entire time. I knew he sold muslin, so I asked him if sold interfacing. He answered what kind; I knew right then and there I wasn’t going anywhere else. He gave me a medium weight fusible interfacing that I think will be great for my jacket for $2/yd. Carolyn had put a bug in my ear about his double knits, so I bought the black and brick-red for my collection. I already had the dark charcoal from the NY Shopping day at the end of August. I also bought one yard of the silk charmeuse so I can recut the back lining without a grease stain, thank you very much! But the piece de resistance was the Ralph Lauren wool suiting in a lovely dark charcoal in a great medium weight with a great drape. Did I mention it was great? Lurve it! I bought 3 yds of that as I wasn’t sure what I wanted to make with it. Mmm mmm good!

T to B: RL Wool, silk charmeuse lining, red d-knit, black d-knit, interfacing

FYI: Kashi will provide a swatching service every three months of all his new arrivals. Call him to sign up! Also, he has tons of new fabrics in right now. It was difficult to be focused while I was there today. ūüėČ

My plans for tonight? Testing my interfacing, recutting the back lining and whatever else I can get done. Wish me luck!

What are your plans for the evening?

To interface or not to interface?

That is the question!¬† My friends, I am trying to decide if I need to interface my fall coat.¬† The pattern instructions say to interface the front and the facing.¬† Ordinarily, I would have blindly followed the directions, but I forgot that I don’t have enough interfacing on hand because I only purchased small samples.¬† So I emailed my teacher Thea to ask her if I could use the flannel I bought as stand in sew in interfacing and she totally threw a wrench into the works here by asking me if I really wanted to interface the coat at all.¬† She asked me how stiff I wanted the coat and collar to be.¬† And now I can’t decide.

When I made my trench coat last year, one of the few disappointments in that coat was that it had no internal structure.¬† No shoulder pads, just the shell and the lining.¬† That’s it.¬† It just didn’t feel substantial to me.¬† I don’t want to make this coat and end up being disappointed by a lack of structure.¬† In fact, I was going to underline the yoke on the back to make sure it didn’t stretch or warp.¬† And speaking of structure, you know how you use a ribbon to stabilize knits on the shoulder seams?¬† Should I do that here too???

So the poll of the day is…

Please vote by 5pm as I am working on my coat this evening.  Thanks!

Retro Jacket

Once upon a time my dad had a corduroy jacket.  He bought it when he was stationed in Germany in 1967.  It was a dark navy blue, with a mandarin collar, and while  not too fitted, it was slim fitting.  It had front pockets at hips level and it was lined.  At one time, my mom appropriated it from him.  Then I wore it all the time in high school and then my sister wore it too.  It was worn to shreds. 

I loved that jacket.¬† I would like to recreate it.¬† The last year and a half, I have looked off and on for a pattern that fit the style details of this jacket but have been fruitless in my searches. First I looked at images on Google images to find something that looked similar.¬† Never found it.¬† Then I looked at men’s patterns in all the usual places,¬†the big pattern companies, Simplicity, and¬†New Look.¬† Couldn’t find anything that worked.¬† I even called upon the esteemed Peter.¬† I thought, “Surely he must have a pattern that fits the bill in his stash.”¬† Actually, it is Peter’s most recent project, the cranberry corduroy suit, that reminded me of my dad’s jacket. ¬†Although Peter had some good ideas how to work around a regular blazer pattern, he did not have a pattern with that mandarin collar I so craved.

And then I remembered Kwik¬†Sew.¬† The Kwik Sew of the famed¬†Xmas pj’s¬†I made last year.¬† So I took a gander at both their men’s and women’s jackets.¬† And lo and behold, there it was.¬† THE. PATTERN.

Enter Kwik Sew 3438 my friends.¬† It’s not fitted, yet is still slim fitting.¬† It’s simple, has the mandarin collar.¬† My father’s jacket didn’t have rounded jacket corners, but that’s an easy fix.¬† The pockets had flaps and I think were on the interior, not patch, but again, a simple enough change.¬† Obviously, I won’t be binding the edges, but I think this may be it!!!

It really closely resembles the jacket in my memory.  Right, Mom???

Question of the day: Do any of you have clothing from your past that you miss and want to recreate some day?  This is one of those projects for me.  Tell me about yours!


You see that?¬† That purple wool up there?¬† Yeah?¬† Well, I’m mad at it.

Why you ask?¬† Well, I spent a little over two hours last night pulling threads to find the grain.¬† I was doing the fringe method because the thread method kept breaking.¬† I mean the thread that I pulled kept breaking because the thread that makes up this wool fabric are very fuzzy and grab at each other.¬† They’re not slide-y¬†and smooth making the pulling a thread method virtually impossible.¬† The self-same¬†fuzziness makes the fringe method equally as difficult too.¬† About an hour into it I realized that¬†I could cut off the fringe as I pulled to keep the fuzzy factor at a minimum.¬† That speeded things up, but it still took me two hours to find the straight of grain.¬†

Why does it matter?¬† Well, I am really excited about this coat and want it to be a successful garment.¬† If I sewed it off grain, it would twist and pull and then I’d never wear it.¬† So,¬†pulled and cut, pulled and cut, and pulled and cut for two hours last night.¬† Needless to say, I never got to the actual cutting out of the pattern.¬† *big sigh*

But tonight is another night.

Wish me luck.

Muslin-y Pictures of S2311

Last night’s session with Thea¬†was very successful.¬† I continue to be excited about this coat.¬† I just adore this pattern.¬† Did I mention that it is well-drafted???¬† And the collar/lapel is just about as perfect as can be.¬† LOVE. THIS. COAT.

So, I realized some errors I had made, but it’s all good.¬† No animals were harmed in¬†the making of this muslin.¬† ūüėȬ† ¬†I forgot I had changed the seam guide on my Featherweight from 5/8ths to 1/2 inch, so all my seam allowances were an 1/8th off.¬†

Oh, and¬†I figured out why my bobbin thread kept breaking.¬† Now this is just a theory as I have not really researched it, but I think the needle position must be in its highest¬†position when you pull out your work.¬† I think the way the machine works is that having the needle position high changes the way the bobbin releases the bobbin thread.¬† Oh maybe I’m on crack here, but it’s just a theory.¬† I experimented last night with keeping the needle up at its highest¬†position whenever I removed my work after a seam and I had no problems whatsoever with the bobbin thread all night.¬† So, I think I’m on to something here.¬† However, this mild success in using the Featherweight did not convince me to use it for this coat.¬† I am still going to use my Emerald 183.¬† I think I need to practice on the Featherweight with¬†less complicated, less important projects first before I sew something like a coat.

Thea helped me fit my coat.  She agreed with me that the fit was basically fine but I could use some shaping in the back to remove some of the bulk there.  The pattern provides a center back seam, but there is not much if any shaping in it, so we added about a 3/4 inch of shaping out from the waist tapering to the hem and yoke.  It looks great now.  We inserted the sleeve pretty easily.  Thankfully there is not an excess amount of ease in the sleeve cap, so very little easing was required.  There was also easing for the elbow which I love.  Gives great shaping to the line of the arm as well as being practical for something pointy like an elbow.  I should mention that I was mistaken about the pattern calling for sewing on the sleeves in the flat.  I just misread them because they have you jump around the instruction sheets from Coat A to Coat B instructions. 

Thea also helped me figure out how to attack the back yoke to the front and collar better.  The pattern itself is missing some markings, so that was part of my problem. The other was not know how to properly sew a squarish u-shaped piece to a straight piece.  I will explain that later.  Ingenious method though. 

Without further ado, here are the pictures of the muslin on me!¬† I wore a suit jacket to fill out the coat a bit.¬† I am really pleased with the fit and look of this coat and can’t wait to start cutting out the purple wool.¬† Please ignore the goofy faces.

Note: the muslin is really stiff. the wool has a softer drape.

Again, the back will be smoother in the softer wool

Happy sewing everyone!

S2311 muslin

There are two things I want to discuss today folks.  So, buckle up! 

First, my Simplicity 2311 muslin for the sewalong.¬† Here’s a refresher on what the finished coat looks like (top left, the short camel version).¬†¬†


I cut a straight sz 14 in heavy weight muslin (think of it as almost like painting canvas).  I found this weight to be extremely helpful to give an accurate read of how the coating would drape if a bit ravelly.  It took me forever last night to get to a point where I could try on the muslin (more on why later).  Essentially I got to the point where you attach the sleeves.  I believe they instruct you to sew them on in the flat as opposed to in the round.  But it was late and I wanted to see the fit, so I skipped that and basted the side seams.   

The verdict?¬† I.¬† LOVE.¬† THIS.¬† COAT.¬† I love the wide lapels.¬† I love the princess seams in front.¬† The back needs some fitting but luckily enough there’s a CB seam to play with.¬† I think I might take some bulk out of the shoulder blade area through to the waist, but that’s about it. This coat is going to rock!!!¬† I was scared of the princess seams, but they were really easy to sew.¬† I didn’t need to clip anything to get them to lay flat.¬† Weird!¬† The collar and lapel have a great shape and lie around my neck and shoulders beautifully.¬† And I didn’t even do the inside facing/over collar yet.¬† This is a really well-drafted pattern.¬†¬†¬†

I’ve decided that I won’t interline this coat.¬† I’m intending it to be a fall coat, something transitional and more like an accessory rather than true outerwear.¬† So, even though I bought cotton flannel for it, I am just going to use the purple wool coating and silk charmeuse lining for this coat.¬† But I could totally see myself making the longer version for a more substantial winter coat next year.¬†¬†¬†

I wish I had a picture of me wearing the muslin, but I was too tired and not camera ready last night, so here’s a totally craptastic shot with my iphone to tide you over.¬†¬†


Thea is coming over tonight to help me fit the back and show me how to sew the back to the front better.  I had major problems sewing that part last night and just did a down and dirty job of it in the muslin to see how it looked on.   

And speaking of problems…¬† I had an awful time using my Featherweight last night.¬† AWFUL!!!¬† I almost dragged out my Emerald 183 from retirement.¬† I couldn’t get the bobbin to wind correctly and smoothly so my bobbin thread kept getting stuck and then breaking.¬† I have no idea what I’m doing wrong.¬† One time when it broke, something jolted the needle thread tension discs and now they are really loose.¬† I hope I didn’t break my “new” Featherweight.¬† I guess the honeymoon is over.¬† ūüė¶¬†¬† As a matter of fact, I am probably going to un-retire the Emerald 183 to sew my final coat.¬† I don’t want to slow down the making of this coat due to machine temperamentality.¬†¬†

Happy sewing everyone.


As I mentioned in my last post, the wonderful Robin and Karen nominated me for the Beautiful Blogger award.

Thank you both again!¬† My part in accepting this award is to share ten things about myself that people don’t know about me and nominate five other people.¬† This list is going to be hard since I’m a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of person.¬† I don’t have much hidden from sight.¬† So here goes…

  1. I’ve read The Lord of the Rings 11 times, long before it was “fashionable”.¬† Probably the last reading was in early 2000.¬† I love these books, so much so that I read a biography of J.R.R. Tolkien to find out more about the genesis of the works.
  2. Related to #1: I started reading TLOTR because I mistakenly thought my father liked the books.  I found a box of his college things when I was a teenager and within it was the entire trilogy.  Thinking that he liked the books, I read them and got hooked on Fantasy/Sci Fi ever since.  Years later (think 20 years later), I mentioned this to my dad and he said that he never liked those books and could never get into them.  Go figure!  Why did he keep them all those years???
  3. I am a terrible joke/story-teller.¬† Really!¬† Ask everyone I’ve ever known.¬† If there ever was a biography written about me, it would be entitled, “Unintentionally Funny”.¬†
  4. I am very particular about how my dishwasher is loaded.  If anyone loads my dishwasher in what I consider a sub-optimal fashion, I will change it to my preferred loading style.
  5. I used to be an aggressive driver before I moved to NYC, but my driving now might best be described as Old Granny style.  I rarely drive now and on the rare occasion that it is required, I am quite nervous about it.  I white-knuckled it a couple of years ago from Napa to Sonoma over the mountains.  I had a line of 15 cars behind me honking the entire way.  I would have pulled over to let them pass, but there was nowhere to pull over. 
  6. I sang from the age of about 12 until I was 34.¬† Opera.¬† I gave it up 8 yrs ago and haven’t sung a note since.¬† Oh I’ve sung a lullaby or two in the years since I quit, but not what I consider¬†real singing.¬† As a matter of fact, my son asks me not to sing.¬† I miss performing and the collaboration¬†with other musicians.¬† But I do NOT miss auditioning and¬†being poor.
  7. My mother gave me my first voice lesson.¬† I remember it clearly as if it just happened.¬† I was in¬†my¬†jr high school choir and wanted to try out for one of the solos.¬† I sang it for my mom and asked her how I could make it better.¬† She suggested that¬†I¬†sing with vibrato.¬†¬†I don’t even think she¬†knew the term¬†vibrato, so she demonstrated it for me.¬† That was the first time I used vibrato.¬† I¬†nailed the audition and I got the solo.¬† My voice comes from my mom; she has a beautiful voice.
  8. At one point, I knew all the singing parts to Handel’s Messiah.¬† And I mean all.¬† Soprano, Mezzo-soprano, Tenor, and Baritone/Bass choral parts and all of the solo parts.¬† I sang the Messiah every Christmas for years and sitting in on all those rehearsals can get tedious no matter how good the music.¬† So I decided to keep it interesting and learned all the parts.¬† I can’t say that I remember them all now, but it was fun learning them.¬†
  9. I have good hearing¬†and I have bad hearing.¬† I have really bad hearing when there’s a lot of background noise, but put me in a silent room and I can hear someone farting two floors below me.¬† This hearing is especially irksome when you are trying to concentrate on a complicated sewing skill and you keep hearing a BOOM BOOM BOOM from your next door neighbor’s stereo.¬† Ask me how I know this?¬† ūüėȬ†¬†
  10. I have never considered myself a creative person.¬† Really.¬† I thought singing wasn’t creative because as an opera singer, you are just singing music someone else has written; singing was a skill I could do.¬† I can’t draw, not even stick figures.¬† I can’t write fiction.¬† I sew from patterns; I’m not a¬†designer.¬† The first time I considered myself a creative person was when I started working with mosaics and created pieces from my own imagination.¬†

Phew!¬† But now that that’s over, I have to nominate others.¬† I have to admit there are too many people I would like to nominate,¬†so I will cop out and nominate anyone reading this post or on my blog list.¬† Sorry!

And in sewing news…¬† I have finally gotten off my arse and started my fall coat.¬† See below for the evidence.¬†

I am sewing up the muslin tonight and will hopefully have muslin-y pictures to show you tomorrow.

Happy sewing everyone!


¬†Hoo boy!¬† Lots to talk about today.¬† I hope you don’t mind, but I might have to do a pseudo power point prez here because to write all that prose is overwhelming me and I will end up just not writing anything.

  • Thank you to Robin and Karen who nominated me for the Beautiful Blogger award!¬† I will address this award and it’s attendant responsibilities in a later post.¬† But for now, a heartfelt thank you to both for their compliments and for the award.
  • I’ve been playing with my “new” Singer Featherweight 221 and it’s been fun and frustrating at the same time.¬† I love how fast it sews, how¬†evenly the feed dogs feed (compared to my Emerald 183), and how good the stitches are (when the tension’s right), BUT, I am having serious problems with the bobbin and needle thread tensions.¬† I have to fiddle with it for about an hour each time I use it.¬†¬†¬† My current theory is that I need a new bobbin case because the one that came with the machine might not have the ability to maintain tension.¬† Anyone with some ideas, please give me a shout in the comments.¬† Here are some pretty pictures of what I’ve been doing with my FW:

Testing thread tension settings

Playing with the binding foot

I made a new tote bag!!!

close up of fabric and topstitching

My lining fabric -- recognize it?


  • I wanted to do a simple project on my FW to test run it.¬† I needed a new tote bag, so that’s what I made last night.¬† It’s a really simple bag, based on the one I made from the PURL class I took a lifetime ago.¬† The most complicated thing about it is that it’s lined.¬† No fancy interior pockets or nuthin’!¬† But it really fits the bill and I love it so.¬† ūüôā¬†¬†
  • I think I am going to use the FW to make my fall coat.¬† How exciting is that?!?!
  • Confession: In order to actually sew the bag last night, I had to clean off my dining room table, I mean my¬†sewing table.¬† Folks, it was do or die.¬† You couldn’t see the table.¬† It was piled at least 1 foot high with sewing detritus, months of mail, and random stuff.¬† I was ruthless with throwing out UFO’s (pregnant clown shirt muslin anyone?).¬†¬†I put all of my patterns away, cleaned up all my notions, etc.¬† It took me 4 hours, but I can see my table again and I know where everything is.¬† Phew!!!¬† I wish I had taken some before pictures, but trust me when I say it was not pretty.¬† Here’s how it looks now…

  • Now, isn’t that sewing nirvana?¬† Hey, I could actually eat there too now.¬† ūüėȬ†¬† Oh and did you notice anything?¬† Do you see my Emerald 183 on the table at all?¬† No?¬† Well that’s because my Singer FW is taking precedence right now.¬† I put the Viking under the table.¬† We’ll see what happens to it after I play with my FW for a while longer.¬† If I get the tension issues worked out, I might have to “make arrangements.”
  • Oh, and I can’t forget to tell you of an impromptu coffee I had with Marji this morning before work.¬† Her boat is docked across the river which she posted on FB last night.¬† I told her I was a ferry ride away and we made plans to have coffee.¬† I have to say it was minor miracle that I got out of the house before 8:30am much less arrive at a destination by 8:10am WITH TODDLER IN TOW, I might add.¬† I am impressed with myself.¬† We talked for what seemed like 5 minutes, but 40 minutes later, I had to go to work sadly.¬† I could have talked with Marji for hours!¬† I hope we meet again.

Marjorie and me!

  • I hope to start my coat muslin tonight.¬† I bought heavy muslin so I would have a more accurate idea re: fitting issues.¬† Wish me luck!

Happy sewing everyone!

Lots to Show and Tell

I’m back from the wilds of the Midwest and have lots to report.¬† I met my new niece Chloe who’s cute as a button.¬† Jack fell in love with her and was so sweet with her.¬† He loved caressing her little head.¬† So cute to see him be so tender.¬† ūüôā¬†

As for those of you asking for pictures of the dress in action at the wedding (ahem, Karen), sorry but no actions shots were taken.¬† I just was not in a dancing mood I guess, and I felt shy about asking anyone to take a picture.¬† Here’s my take on how the dress “wore” though.¬† I’m stealing the interview idea from Tasia

How did the dress look?  It looked pretty good standing still and as I was running. 

What do you mean by “standing still” and “running”?¬† Well, when I stood talking to people it looked great.¬† It was also fine as I was running to the wedding after the taxi driver dropped me off at the opposite end of the pier.¬† I had to sprint about two football lengths in 7 minutes with another wedding attendee.¬† Both of us looked mahvelous!¬† ūüėȬ†¬†

So how did it look sitting?  Funny you should ask actually, as that was the part with which I was most dissatisfied.  When I sat down at the wedding ceremony, my dress rode up so high pooling at my waist and thighs, almost 3 inches of my lining was left exposed for all to see.

Why on earth did it ride up so high???¬† Well, I suspect the underlining was the culprit.¬† I used silk organza because I was being all fancy.¬† The last time I underlined (the Christian LaCroix skirt), all I had on hand was cotton batiste, which worked, but this time I was prepared with yards and yards of silk organza.¬† As most of you know, silk organza has a stiff hand, which helps enormously with preventing SBS (Saggy Bottom Syndrome otherwise known as bagging out) and wrinkling.¬†¬†It also has the added effect of giving the fashion fabric more body.¬† In the case of my Vera Wang fabric, too much body, as the brocade had body already, just needed the protection against SBS.¬† I should have used cotton batiste in retrospect.¬† *sigh*¬†¬† Live and learn I guess…

Any other things you liked or disliked about this version of B5147?¬† I’m so glad you asked.¬† Dislikes: If you’ll recall, I altered the armscye to cut in towards the chest.¬† Boy was that a big oops and I will be putting that back in.¬† Now everyone has the viewing pleasure of the fleshy area between my arm and chest.¬† Isn’t that a great visual?¬† Bet you didn’t know that area could even be fat.¬† Likes: Love the scoop neck.¬† Not too deep but just deep enough.¬† I also pegged the skirt near the knees and really like that silhouette.¬† And I loved the sheathier look of widening the fisheye darts in the front of the dress; they were much more figure flattering.¬† I will definitely keep¬†those changes for future iterations if there are any.

Will you make any more B5147’s?¬† Hmmm… Not sure.¬† My teacher Thea thinks that I can get a much more flattering fit with less fiddling around with a princess seamed sheath dress, so I am going to try another dress soon.¬† I’m considering the Simplicity Amazing Fit sheath dress, S2648.

What’s next in your project queue?¬† I am finally getting to my Fall coat for the Trench Sew Along.¬† I am making another Simplicity pattern, S5380.¬† I already have my purple wool, bought the purple charmeuse at the PR Shopping day a couple of weeks ago, and today I ran out to buy cotton flannel with which to interline the coat.¬† Not sure how much tailoring I am going to end up doing.¬† We’ll see how in depth I’m willing to go later.


Ok, enough with the pseudo interview.¬† Do you want to see pictures of my new baby up close and personal like?¬† I’m talking about the Singer Featherweight 221 from 1938 that received this past weekend.¬† Oh boy am I excited and yet a little intimidated.¬† The directions on how to just thread the machine don’t make any sense to me.¬† It came with a bunch of feet, most of which I have no idea what they are for.¬† Can any of you deduce their purposes?

Original manual!!!

My very own buttonholer!!!

Slightly broken zigzagger with inscrutable manual

Here are the feet for which I have no idea of their purposes:

I think this might be a quilting guide but a slightly bent one

a ruffler perchance?

some kind of binder? if so, what kind?

Let me know if you know what feet I actually have.¬† Can’t wait to start playing with them all.¬† I am super excited about the Singer Buttonholer!!!

Happy sewing everyone!

Quick post with pictures

I am jammed for time here.  I would love to wax poetic about the PR Shopping day this past weekend.  To tell you how awesome it was to meet Robin IRL.  How great it was to see old friends.  But let me get straight to the goodies, because time is short here at Chez Elizabeth.

Our group was so large, we had to split into two groups for the first two stores which opened specially for us, Metro Textiles and Elliott Berman.  I spent most of my fabric budget at these stores. 

At Elliott Berman I bought a Missoni sweater knit which will become a fall tunic (pattern TBD) and a beautiful silk (TNT sheath dress anyone?).

Elliott Berman

Then I really went wild at Metro Textiles.  Kashi had so many great fabrics.  I bought this gorgeous, I mean gorgeous wool silk boucle in gun metal grays and he had a matching silk charmeuse.  I also bought a metallic gray knit for a date night top. 

Metro Textiles

Closeup of boucle

Then I couldn’t pass up this wool knit in purple, my favorite color.¬† And who could leave there without the ubiquitous border knit?!

Metro Textiles

Let’s not forget the silk charmeuse¬†(on the right in the picture below) to line my fall coat and my first double knit¬†for a, wait for it, sheath dress. I have a feeling one never forgets their first double knit.¬† *sigh*¬† On the left, is my only fabric from Parons, a mauve tweed.¬† I heart tweed.¬†

Parons and Metro Textile

By the time we reached Parons I think we were all fabric fatigued.  But it was a fun day.  Again, so glad that so many people came to shop from locales far and wide. 

And, now I know you were all wondering if I finished my dress for my cousin’s wedding which is this weekend.¬† Well….

I did.¬† I’ll do a full review of all the alterations I made when I am back from the Midwest, but for now…¬† Here are some pictures to tide you over.

Hope you all have a great week and Labor Day weekend!