The Best Thing I’ve Ever Sewn

I’m competing in the Super Online Sewing Match II hosted by Sew Mama Sew and I have made it to Round Four. In between each round the contestants are asked to answer a sewing related question. For Round Four, the question is, “What is the best thing You’ve ever sewn?” Without any hesitation I’m going to say that the dress I made to meet Tim Gunn is definitely the “BEST”!

IMG_0336I attended a discussion and book signing of the well-know television personality and author, Tim Gunn at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco.

IMG_0329You can imagine that I was more than excited to meet Tim and listen to him speak so personally about his life, his experiences on Project Runway, and about his new book, “Tim Gunn: the Natty Professor”.

IMG_1928.JPG Tim Gunn, is the mentor and advisor to the designers on Project Runway. These designers go through grueling fashion design challenges each week.  The outcome of the show is to see who will go to Fashion Week and who will earn some very awesome prizes to help them jump-start their career. Tim explained that it isn’t easy to complete the challenges in the time frame of the show. The judges can be pretty hard on any puckers, bad stitching, and finishes. He says that his roll is to listen very clearly to the designers, then advise and motivate them to “Make it Work!”

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My daughter, Kimberly, presents Tim Gunn

I had to make a new dress for this special event, so I chose Gertie’s vintage inspired Butterick 6094. It has a close fitting lined bodice and contrasting facings. Version A has a full circle skirt cut on the bias, and a petticoat.

IMG_0322IMG_0328It has the cutest back detail, with the contrasting fabric opened out above the zipper and decorated with buttons. I made a muslin of the bodice first, tweaked the pattern to fit me, and then cut and sewed it together. I wasn’t going to add the petticoat, but at the last minute I decided that I should just go for it and make the dress as directed. I drove to the nearest fabric store, 40 miles round trip, and bought 3 yards of lining and 3 yards of crisp veil-like fabric for the ruffle. I sewed French seams on the petticoat and machine gathered the 8 inch ruffle that attaches to it. I was able to roll hem the ruffle, the petticoat, and the skirt bottom on my serger. I used wooly nylon on the upper looper and it worked like a dream! I covered two buttons with the dress fabric, and inserted an invisible zipper. The  lining was turned and hand-sewn inside the bodice and along the zipper tape.

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At the reception, my daughter who works for the Commonwealth Club introduced me to Tim and we posed for pictures.

IMG_0334I told Tim that I had made my dress. He was very impressed! I wore my RTW faster pin proudly and was delighted to explain that all of us fasters had pledged not to buy ready-to-wear clothing. Our goal is to make everything. You can see by his studious look that he was intrigued.

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This is definitely my best and favorite dress of all time. It is so lovely that I have planned  to make another one to wear to my daughter’s wedding in October. It will be made of silk chiffon and taffeta. It might be the next best thing I make!

IMG_0337Enough talk already! Here are some more pictures!

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Thank you, Hannah, for snapping some cute pics of this darling dress!

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I made it ! Round 4 of SOSM!

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I’m super excited and thrilled to have made it to the semifinals with my Cuna Tote and Pouch entry in the Super Online Sewing Match II hosted by Sew Mama Sew. The challenge for round four requires the remaining four contestants to make the Carolyn Pajamas from Closet Case Files. I’ve selected my fabric and I’m ready to cut and sew all the way to the finish line! The competition is fierce because the sewists are all top notch. You can read about the four of us here. Stay tuned for the latest updates on Sew Mama Sew!

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Cuna Caravan Tote and Pouch

SOSMII2 Here’s my entry for Round Three of the Super Online Sewing Match II: The Caravan Tote and Pouch. Kudos to Sew Mama Sew for coming up with another project that allows us to give it our personal touch. I’m thoroughly enjoying competing with such imaginative and talented sewists and I’m anxious to see their interpretation of the Caravan Tote and Pouch. Good luck ladies!

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Front View of Caravan Tote and Pouch

Back View of Caravan Tote and Pouch

All six of the remaining contestants were sent the Caravan Tote and Pouch Pattern by Anna Graham of Noodlehead  and a gift certificate to spend at Kimberly’s Fat Quarter Shop where I spent hours adding treasures to my wishlist. Then I pared it down to several Clementine Charm Packs and matching yardage by Heather Bailey for Free Spirit. Plus, I  bought a great tool for pressing and measuring hems called the Clover Hot Hemmer. Thank you, Fat Quarter Shop! I can see a Clementine Knitting Tote and Pouch being made in the near future.

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Two Way Purse Zipper

For my Caravan tote, I decided to incorporate five small Cuna Indian Molas and Cuna traditional fabric that I’ve had for almost 20 years. I bought them in Panama while visiting my daughter and her husband who were living there at the time. I’m so pleased that I will be able to display and enjoy them after all this time.IMG_1250IMG_1265 One of my passions when I travel, is to admire the different textiles, traditional clothing, and handicrafts made by native peoples. The Cuna Indians have a fascinating dress, from  hand-stitched molas they use to adorn their traditional blouses, their brightly colored skirts and scarves, to their unique beaded adornments on their legs and arms. IMG_0447 IMG_0451Cuna molas

are intricately stitched using reverse appliqué and tiny embroidery designs. They are colorful, bold, and reflective of the Cuna’s tropical surroundings. Inspired by the color scheme of the molas and fabric from Panama, I chose the predominate colors of burgundy and dark blue denim for the outside of the tote and pouch, contrasting yellow/orange fabric for the inside pockets, and the traditional fabric for the main lining. IMG_1375I spent a day just brainstorming and planning how I would incorporate the molas on the tote and pouch. I trimmed all of the bird molas the same size and then sewed larger squares of the traditional fabric right sides together or “RST” as Anna says in her directions. Then I made slits in the backs so that I could turn them out. Finally, I strategically topstitched them on the “front” of my tote. I’m calling the side with the zipper the “back”. I trimmed the Kitty mola so that it would fit the front of the pouch. IMG_1212 I continued to work carefully through all of the directions step by step, switching between a heavy duty needle and a microtex needle as needed. I used clothespins instead of straight pins to hold the thick back and the front together while I sewed it with heavy duty thread. My roll of Heat and Bond hem tape came in handy for tacking down the zipper and the stiff side seams of the tote.

IMG_1309The Caravan tote and pouch were not difficult to put together, it just took time to do it right. Anna’s supply list and the step-by-step instructions with illustrations made it easy to make. It was a rewarding experience resulting in a beautiful and usable tote and pouch. It’s going to be my go-to beach bag because it’s just the perfect size.

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Work and Wine

Often I  need to rely on my experience and patience when it comes to a problem that needs to be resolved.  For example, the snaps were a bit challenging, because I didn’t have exactly the right tools, but I practiced with the tools I had until I could attach them successfully before I installed them on the tote and pouch. Also, I had to piece together the the bottom of the pocket bag using a different but coordinating fabric so that it would be the right size. As Tim Gunn says on Project Runway, “Make it work!”

IMG_1221Making the tote and pouch took me several enjoyable afternoons. I was super focused on being meticulous about every direction, needle change, thread type and color. I even added decorative stitching here and there to give it a personal touch. I seriously considered leather for the straps after seeing so many beautiful Caravan Totes made with them, but I chose to make them out of denim. I used Bosal double-sided fusible foam stabilizer so that the straps would be super comfy on the shoulders.

IMG_1373For the photoshoot, my husband, puppy, and I drove to the nearby town of Fort Bragg to stroll along Glass Beach. We were hoping for fog, which is great lighting for pictures. The day was perfect! There was fog in the morning and warm sun in the afternoon. Everything we needed for a day at the beach fit into the tote and pouch.
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IMG_1310The color scheme of the tote is not too feminine so even my husband didn’t mind carrying it. IMG_1344 My puppy likes it too! IMG_1237 Here’s a short video that I made featuring my project and a special guest! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOqWhFFgvjw

Happy Sewing and Good Luck to all of the contestants! IMG_1328 I couldn’t be happier with my new beach tote and matching pouch. It will always remind me of special people and places in my life. I love it when that happens! Signature

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A Tour of my Sewing Studio

IMG_1214I have a great little sewing room, with just enough room to turn around. It used to be my youngest daughter’s bedroom before she went off to college. Now it’s my dedicated work and storage space.

I’ve been a busy bee, sewing up my Caravan Tote for Round Three of The Super Online Sewing Match so everything is all over the place and I’m too exhausted to straighten it up for any detailed pictures. But, when my sewing room is clean, it looks pretty nice.

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I have three sewing machines set up and ready to go, a Pfaff regular/decorative machine, a Viking serger, and a Janome coverstitch machine. I also have an ironing board, and a small table for students to set up their machines.  This room also serves as a guest bedroom, so there is a bed, pushed up against the wall with big pillows, a basket of finished customer work, and an assortment of handmade dolls. It’s also a catch-all for anything and everything I’m working on.

Luckily, not too long ago, I made a little movie of my room just after I cleaned it. You are kindly invited to come visit. :)

You can check out the other 5  Super Online Sewing Match contestants’ sewing rooms here!

If you are one of the more than 460 followers of this blog, thank you for the validation. Knowing that there are others who enjoy sewing, quilting, crafting, and blogging is very inspiring and motivating.

I’ll be showing off my new Caravan Tote in my next post,
Happy Sewing!

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The Marianne Dress for Round 2 of SOSM

SOSMII2 Here’s my entry for Round Two of the Super Online Sewing Match II. All eight of the remaining contestants were sent the Marianne Dress pattern by Christine Haynes and a gift certificate to purchase fabric at FabricWorm.com. I love their selection of fabrics, but I had something specific in mind for my 60’s inspired dress. I needed a print and a coordinating solid which can be difficult to match without seeing the fabric in person. I did order some very cool fabric from FabricWorm, and I’ll be using it soon to make some soft and comfortable knit pajamas. IMG_1255 On Fridays, Beverly’s Fabric has a half-off sale on all the flat folds on their back tables. Sometimes you get lucky and find really interesting and fun fabrics. I scored on three knit fabrics that had bold designs and bright colors. I also picked up several small cuts of black knit fabric for collars, cuffs, and yokes. I call it “mystery” fabric because the fiber content is not available. I washed and dried all of it before construction, just in case something wanted to shrink or change drastically. IMG_1247 I made a complete test version following the instructions exactly. I found the procedure for sewing clear and easy to follow. The sleeve for my listed size was the only thing that I would need to adjust by widening it along the sleeve seam and making it about a half inch longer on any future versions. I’ll share it on my blog after the contest is over. For my round two entry, I chose this colorful circles within circles print, and used black for the yoke, collar, and cuffs. I made it one size smaller than the dress for me, so that it would fit my daughter. IMG_1273 I added clear elastic on the shoulders to help keep the shape, basted the arm and neckline seams together first, and then serged every seam. I finished the hem with the coverstitch machine, using pink thread to blend in with the dress.Image-1 2Right after finding this fabric, my vision started to materialize. I would make the Marianne dress with the sleeves, cuffs, and yoke, but also add the signature Peter Pan collar. To make it standout against the black yoke, I trimmed it with coordinating pink piping. Because the collar is all one piece, the thickness of the piping made it impossible for the middle to tuck under the band and lie flat, and so it has a continuous pink line from end to end. I think it looks like it was meant to be. ;) IMG_1242The dress was nearly finished with just an hour to go before my daughter arrived to model it. All I needed to do was find buttons to match. I dug through my stash of buttons and tried everything. Nothing matched or looked right on the cuffs. Then, I came across a packet of self-cover buttons. I was so excited after not having the right buttons that I joyfully and boastfully exclaimed how cool my buttons were as I made them. My husband looked at me like I was crazy!Image-1 Version 2 IMG_1266When my daughter arrived, we went out for a photoshoot. We found an ally with this great solid blue wall and took all of the photos there. She did a wonderful job again, and I really appreciate it. She loves the dress and says it reminds her of Megan from Mad Men. IMG_1246Happy Sewing and Good Luck to all of the contestants! Signature

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Ready for Round 2!

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I made it to round two of the Super Online Sewing Match along with 7 other contestants! Visit my previous blog post if you haven’t seen my round one entry yet.

For round two, we have to make the Marianne Dress by Christine Haynes. I’m picking out my fabric now!

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Please send more fairy dust my way!

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The Sutton Blouse Goes Boho!

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SOSMII2Hello friends! Here’s my entry for the first round of sewing in the Super Online Sewing Match II. Our patterns and gift certificates for fabric arrived on June 24 and we had 7 days to make our version of the Sutton Blouse by Kelli of True Bias.

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I immediately went to Hart Fabrics online store to shop for just the right fabric. I fell in love with this bright turquoise, red-orange, yellow, and black rayon print. It’s buttery soft to touch, feels light and breezy, and sews up beautifully. Needless to say, I was very happy with it. Hart Fabrics is such a great store and seems to be well-curated. I  appreciated the fact that they will send you matching thread. That’s a helpful service for me, since I live 20 miles from the nearest fabric store.

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The fabric itself spoke to me, and said, “lengthen the Sutton Blouse so you can enjoy wearing it alone and not share the stage with anything else.” It’s been hotter than H around here so less clothing is more comfortable….. I made the shift.

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I cut and sewed a muslin first, and knew right away what modifications I needed to make. For me, the neckline needed to be a little larger. I also chose to make a small row of gathers, instead of the pleat in the back. I thought it would look better with the vertical stripes.

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One of the challenges I encountered was pattern placement on the fabric. I had to think through this very carefully, because of the center front seam. I wanted the design to be centered and equal on both sides. As you can see, time to think it through and measure more than once, resulted in a red stripe right down the middle that was just as wide as the other red stripes. I’m pleased with that!photo 1

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Styled with wooden slat belt and vintage boots

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French Seams…. ooh la la!

I loved all of the French seaming! I hardly ever do that, because I usually just serge all inside seams, but it feels and looks so couture. I didn’t finish the side seams as Kelli instructs, but just serged the raw edges and left it at that. When I made the muslin, I found that turning the seam allowance under and stitching it down, resulted in added bulk under the arms, and didn’t press flat along the curve.

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I prefer to topstitch side slits and the hem in one continuous stitch instead of crossing over the perpendicular stitches and using backstitching. I start at center back and go all the way around, up and down the slits, and back along the hem meeting up with where I began.

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When I tried the shift on, the length was just about right, but if I turned it up an inch it would be too short. I elected to use bias tape to face the hem. I cut a 1 1/2 inch bias strip from the left over fabric, ran it through the little bias tape maker, and pressed it as it came out. I unfolded one side, and sewed it to the bottom of the dress. I made the little corners on the slits, by sewing the bias tape right sides together with the dress, clipped the corners and turned them out. From that point, it was an easy finish, just press and topstitch. Since you can see the underside of the back, the diagonal print of the bias tape adds a touch of interest.

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I thought this was an excellent first challenge. It was exciting to work through the pattern first as a muslin and then put all my ideas into the final version.  I’m really happy with how it turned out.

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My youngest daughter happened to be here for the afternoon and she happily modeled for me. She looks so lovely and did such a nice job that I think I’ll probably gift her the dress. I’m having lots of fun and I hope the other contestants are too! Thank you, Sew Mama Sew for the opportunity! :)

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