Tuesday, February 26, 2008



I found a hat pattern on Knitty called the Bloody Stupid Johnson hat. This is apparently a reference from the Discworld novels, which I have not read, but the hat intrigued me, and I assumed it would be a quick, fun knit. It's been fun and it's going pretty quickly, although I had one heck of a time figuring out the instructions. I had printed them out and on the "unravelled" part of the cable pattern, I didn't realize that my print-out had left off a critical red box around a number of rows which had to be repeated several times before finishing the chart totally. So, there was ripping and gnashing of teeth, and it all worked out, but really, even with the box, the written directions are not clear as a bell. Here's the pattern photo.

I'm ready to graft the ends of the horizontal cable section together and then pick up stitches to begin the cap, so I thought this seemed like a good spot for a break. I always have to read my grafting directions while grafting if I want a really good job. I will soon go find my Hiatt book and do it. I think the hat will be for either my brother or a nephew depending on who it fits. Very cavalier attitude, but it feels good once in a while.

I've also begun on a muslin of a Marfy tank top that I've made a couple times. So why a muslin? I've done it in knits before and this is for a woven, which is supposed to work, but I've added very large seam allowances because I'm just sure I'm going to need more ease in the woven.

I want to thank you all for your very kind comments and wonderful encouragement on my coat! Once I finished it, I decided to really do a spring cleaning on my sewing area, and in fact got to work on some of the rest of the basement as well. It's mainly just storage area and some of it has been sort of a dumping ground for whatever didn't find a home somewhere else. It's much nicer now, and I only need a couple more bins or something for yarn. The fabric is pretty much under control, or at least it all has a home. I'm afraid control may be beyond my abilities.
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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Corduroy Coat is Finished

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I finished my coat last night, and I am just pretty pleased with it. It seemed to finish up fast, which was nice and kind of unexpected. I wore it to church this morning, and these pictures were taken after I got home. You can see them all here in greater detail, plus a few close-ups of details.

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I did a lot of hand sewing on this coat, including basting every seam by hand, attaching most of the underlining and some of the interfacing. I also did a hand-inserted lining except at the sleeve hems. It was a nice project, and I didn't mind the extra time it took to baste because I did almost no ripping. There were a few places where I had basted the seam on a curved spot with the corduroy and it still slipped when I stitched. So, I learned to baste and pin in those spots, or baste again. I wasn't using a terribly small basting stitch, but the layers were so thick that it was difficult to do a small stitch even if I wanted to, so at times I basted twice.

Once again Marfy patterns show their great lines and drafting with the subtle shaping incorporated into the style. It's so nice how everything goes together just the way it should, and the way we wish all patterns would. It makes all the difference to the outcome when you match seamlines rather than cutting-lines too. More work at the beginning, but it makes everything else go so much more smoothly all the way through. Proper preparation is worth all the work involved every time.

So, how was it to wear? Very comfortable, and it seems to be quite warm, although we're having a warm-up today, so it didn't get a real test. I like the buttons, but I will admit that they feel very pointy when you're buttoning them. I don't mind my fingers, but I hope they won't be hard on the buttonhole lips. Here it is unbuttoned.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Hepburn as Chanel

Now that's an intriguing title, isn't it?

I listen to lots of audiobooks and podcasts while I'm sewing and knitting, or doing housework or whatever. One podcast I like is called ScreamAndKill by Stella Maria Krazelberg von und zu Brabant. It's billed as an Outrageous Operatic Podcast, and it certainly lives up to its billing. It's great fun, and the music is wonderful. A recent edition is called "Glitter and Be Gay", an obvious reference to Bernstein's Candide, and the aria is included.

What I thought pertained to sewing/fashion was a completely unexpected song sung by Katherine Hepburn. I don't think I've ever heard her sing before, and she's no songbird, but of course puts across a song with verve. (Her friend, Greta Garbo described her as sounding "like Rose Kennedy". Hepburn was about 63 at the time.) She played Coco Chanel on Broadway in the musical Coco in 1970. You can hear her sing "The Money Rolls in Like Freedom" at about 32 minutes into the podcast. It's quite an interesting song, as much about women's freedom as jewels, although costume jewelry plays a humorous part in it.

Cherry Pie

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Late to the blog, but the pie itself was on time. I am not an eager baker, but I do enjoy it when I get it done. This was a Washington's Birthday Cherry Pie. I used a bag of frozen, tart cherries and a recipe from the Farm Journal Pie Cookbook. My aunt, who's a fantastic cook and baker thinks this is THE pie cookbook to have, and I happened to have a copy, so I treasure it, and use it. It's from 1965, when pies were generally homemade or you didn't have any. I see copies on eBay for a wide variety of prices.


Still plugging along on the coat, but not much progress today. The sleeves are in, also the shoulder pads, hems pressed up and I've begun attaching the lining. I'm hoping for more time tomorrow, at least in the afternoon.

I got the latest Town and Country and Harper's Bazaar in the last couple days, so that's been fun. I haven't gotten through the Bazaar yet, but I thought T&C had really good Spring fashion coverage.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Coat Progress 2


Here's the coat with the sleeves pinned on at the top. I'm beginning to really like it, and I did get the sleeves set in this evening too. They went in so nicely. I was afraid with all the layers that it might be a problem. I've got sleeve heads pinned in ready to sew tomorrow, and then I'm about ready to hem the body and sleeves and line it. It's hard to believe I'm this close, but it's suddenly been what I want to work on for hours at a time, or at least as long as I have at any one time.

One thing I really like I hadn't planned on. It happened when I turned the collar right side out. The corduroy undercollar is on the bias with a CB seam, and after I turned it, the corduroy was peeking out around the suede upper collar. I just love the way it looks! It's like a twisted binding, so I hand edge stitched it so that it will stay that way. I did the same on the lapels, reversing below the roll line so that the edge of the suede lapel shows on the corduroy front. I think it added quite a lot. I was really worried about how I was going to make the collar look really finished, as I didn't want to try to topstitch this because of all the layers and the thickness even after trimming and pounding flat and everything else I could think of. I thought about saddle stitching, but I settled on a pickstitch, and I think it looks nice.

Here's a close up of the collar edge.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Marfy Coat Progress

I've been working on this coat for a little while now and finished up one front last night and hung it up with the back on a hanger. I was worried about the little panel at the shoulder above the faux suede. It's cut on a slightly bias grain compared to the front pieces, and I was afraid that the different grains of the corduroy would look odd, so I laid a piece of the suede over that panel to see what I thought. I didn't like it at all. It looked really chopped up, and not nearly as good as the corduroy, even on a slightly different grain. I decided that I needed to really make sure though, and so I took the facing piece, which is suede, as is the collar, and placed and pinned them in place, and it's definitely going to stay the corduroy at the shoulder.

The pink you can see is the flannel underlining. It won't show at all after it's all together and lined.

However, on a hanger the design of the coat itself just wasn't working. I hated it, it looked a yard wide. So, I pinned the one front and the back to my dressform, and it was immediately like a different garment. The side curving around the body really makes the design lines make sense. I was very relieved. Anyway, that's what you're seeing above. Below you can see the same thing but with the front straightened and the collar piece off so you can see the entire front and the shoulder piece.

I had thought I was going to leave the pocket flaps off, then thought maybe I'd better put them on, but now I'm not sure I don't like it better with them off. I don't have to decide this minute, I guess.

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

2008 Marfy Catalog

As I mentioned, the 2008 Marfy catalog came Friday and I've spent some quality time with it. I like to turn down pages for things that catch my eye, then put it aside and when I return to it, see if I'm still pleased with my preliminary choices.

In general, I think this is a pretty good catalog. There are some nice styles, and a couple of must-haves for me. One thing I was interested in was all the lightweight jackets shown over dresses or separates. They're almost more of an overblouse or shirtjacket in weight I think, and although I don't have any of them on my buying list yet, there's one in the free patterns and I love wearing that kind of thing. There must be one with every variation of sleeve, hem shape, neckline, closure, etc., so there's no reason not to find one you like if that's a style that grabs you too.

Click on the Photo Link under any picture to go to a larger image for a detailed view.

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I'll start with a view of the free patterns, which I think are rather exceptional. The inclusion of a Chanel-style suit complete with top is very nice. The babydoll top and cropped pants don't do it for me, but the tunic shown (which could easily be a dress) is, I think, a step up from the Duro dress we saw so much of last year. The overblouse/shirtjacket on the right (which they call a tunic) is very much the style I was speaking of above. Cute pockets and sleeves on this. The little tank under it is a nice basic as well. The suit and the tunic and top all go to size 58 (bust47/hip49) as do many (perhaps most) of the patterns in the catalog. I know there's been some complaining that they needed to extend their size range, and perhaps they've been listening.

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I love this sundress. It's probably my favorite in the group just for its immediacy. I think the neckline is the cutest thing I've seen in a while. I'm not sure I'll do the cut-in shoulders, but it would be cute with a plain sleeveless shoulder too. It's one that would be really cute in lighter-weight denim, although I think a pique would be great, or does anyone else remember Trigger? The fabric, not the horse.... Something like that would be good too.

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I thought the closure on this vest was just so clever, and really cute. We're seeing so many little inset belts or half-belts that this could be cute on a jacket or even pants as well as a vest.

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I really like the lines of this suit, and the neckline is very much au courant without being too trendy. It's almost a basic, but the neckline gives it a nice update.

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This top is one that I immediately liked, but also thought that it wasn't really me. But, I kept coming back to it. I really like all the details, although I think you could leave off the underbust tabs and even the pockets and be just fine. It's the neckline treatment I like, and I'm not sure I couldn't just do that on a top I already have, as empire waists are not necessarily great on me. It wouldn't have to be really fitted though, and it might be quite darling in a sheer or very fine fabric.

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Finally, this coat caught my eye. It's very basic, but it's a really nice basic, and I'd like to have it because I know I'll want that style sooner or later, and there's nothing about it that I don't like. Since Marfy patterns seem to fit me so well, I've decided that I might as well use them for basics if I can.

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Beyond these, there are a couple of things I marked just for one or two details, including some cute pant details, like inset and cargo-style pockets with a hem slightly gathered with a cord through grommets. (Left) I think they could be really cute for summer, but I'll use my own TNT pant pattern instead of re-inventing the wheel.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

New Ideas

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I don't think I've ever gotten 3 packages in the mail on the same day before, but today I did. First, I got the new Marfy catalog which I've skimmed quickly and am now going to go back and look a little more carefully. There are a few things that really caught me eye, so I'll see if they look as good the second time around. They're only putting out one catalog per year now instead of two, but apparently they made their decision kind of late, and so this one is only about 20 pages longer than the regular seasonal edition would be. They're gong to put the next one out in January of 2009, and it will be quite a bit bigger than this.

You can see my interfacing on the left side of the photo, and toward the bottom is the yarn that came from Elann.com. The striped fabric (which perfectly matches one of the yarns) was a find this morning at JoAnn's. I was just on a spec trip, and this jumped out at me. It's a polyester, but the colors are mine, and I like its crinkled effect. I'm thinking of a Marfy tunic pattern that I have but haven't tried yet. I washed the fabric this evening, so it's ready to go.

I am about halfway done with the buttonholes on my coat, and things are beginning to be fun. I have almost all of the underlining attached to the various pieces and am about ready to roll. I hope tomorrow will be a day I can work in. It seems like my days have been really broken up for a couple weeks, and it's hard to get much done.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Snowing and Sewing

It snowed today just like mad, and I don't know how much we finally got, but around 4" and I think it's supposed to keep going most of the night. So, a perfect day for sewing.

I have to admit that I didn't get any actual sewing done, but I did finally get all the pieces and parts marked and cut out for my coat, except I ran out of flannel underlining and couldn't get out today to get any, and of course the lining. I always wait on the lining in case there are changes, but I'm very thrilled to have the main cutting and marking done. I think that's the hardest part of most garments for me.

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I've been knitting away on the Jaeger Tilly pullover as well, and have finished the front and am halfway up the first sleeve. I'm adding length to the sleeve, so it's going to be a while yet before I start the cap shaping. I assumed it was going to take 4 skeins of each color of Little Lehigh to do this sweater, and it's looking like I may only be going to use 3 of each. The yardage on this yarn is really great.

I'll leave you with a perhaps not wonderful, but I think interesting photo of the snow looking out the family room window. I took it tonight through the window at about 9pm, and it was very dark outside except for the lights in the back, and because of the snow, it seems much lighter than it might be.

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Monday, February 04, 2008

Interfacing - To Be or Not To Be

Marji asked a very interesting question yesterday about the interfacing I use (and have recommended, although I am not affiliated with the business in any way. NAYY.)

I don't want to sound like I'm advertising here, but I was asked, and I am always glad to know about someone else's favorite inputs and their sources for finding them so I hope you'll take this in the spirit in which it's offered.

Marji's question was:

I'm intrigued by the link for the interfacings. Would it be really an imposition to ask how each available interfacing compares to the standards available: Angel weft, Armoweft, Easy-knit, Sof-knit? It's challenging that they put their own name on each.

I use mostly interfacing from Pam's Sew Exciting Sewing Supplies along with a good supply left from before the Pendleton Outlet near here closed. Pam started selling interfacing after searching for what she wanted to use for her own custom sewing business, and being unable to find the high quality she demanded, and I was lucky enough to know her through the internet at that time.

As I understand it, the main difference between what she gets manufactured vs what is generally sold to home sewers is the application of the fusible onto the base fabric, as well as the fusible itself. Pam's fusible is flexible, so it moves with the fabric and with its own base fabric. Most interfacing fusibles are sprayed on, and are not consistently applied, thus leading to inconsistent results. Pam's interfacing has the fusible rolled on, and you can see the difference when you have the interfacing in your hand. She also spends time making sure her base fabrics are the best available for each type of interfacing. Her knit fabrics are more flexible than the widely available interfacing fabrics, and combined with the flexible fusible, they're just really great products. Be sure and check the different widths of interfacings from various sources as well, as they can vary from 20" to 60" depending on type, and on the seller.

To compare individually:

Pro-Tricot would be used in similarity to either Sof-knit or Easy-knit. It's been a while since I used those particular interfacings, but the Pro-Tricot is very nice and soft, and doesn't make itself obvious in the garment.

Pro-Weft is what I use in place of what was Textured Weft. I believe it's extremely similar to ArmoWeft and Angel Weft (although I haven't used Angel Weft) simply because of all the chatter about what people were getting to sell as a replacement for Textured Weft when HTC went bankrupt.

Pro-Woven Standard now comes in 2 weights, and I've only used the lighter, #1. It's a very nice, stiffish sew-in.

Pro-Woven Fusible is my choice for cuffs and collars on shirts. It's very firm and is great for things where you want to add body and not just support a fabric as is.

Pro-Tailor Fusible Hair Canvas is very similar to other fusible hair canvas types, such as Acro, but it's perhaps more flexible.

I think we're all looking for the lighter, Armani-style tailored garments, and interfacings are so important for that look and that feel, as well as for every garment we make. It's rare that there isn't at least one tiny bit of interfacing or stabilizer in every non-lingerie garment that we make, even if it's just a bit of selvedge in the shoulder seam of a Tee. There's nothing nicer than having a range of choices for all of our components. We rarely make the same garment twice, and almost never in the same fabric. Each fabric and each garment has its own perfect combination of thread, interfacing, lining, etc. If not all of them, some of them, and it's up to us to find the right combination. My combination might not feel right for you, and vice versa. Thank goodness we have many choices, especially in this age of the disappearing local fabric shop. I'm certainly not asking you to do as I do, and if you do I won't gain from it, but I think it's important to be aware of another choice that's out there.

I felt it was important to write this from my own knowledge gathered over time, and I want to extend my apologies to Pam for any mistakes I am promulgating here, and of course those mistakes are all mine.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Coat choices

I've been working on the Marfy coat, but am still in the planning and cutting stages. It's proving to be an interesting and rather challenging project. Marji wanted to know more about the fabric, and here's a photo of it draped around a bit.

As you can see from the photos below, it's a lot wider wale than a regular corduroy; about a half inch per wale. It's drapey enough that I am using a sew-in interfacing as underlining for the fronts and under collar. At this point, I'm planning to use a heavy flannel to underline the back and sleeves. The faux suede panels have fusible interfacing as underlining. The entire thing will be lined of course, and I'm thinking of interlining as well, although I haven't decided yet. I want it to be warm, and yet I don't want stiffness, which is why I'm not leaning toward using the sew-in on the back and sleeves. I've been cutting out and cutting out and I really hate cutting out, so I've been taking frequent breaks which is not conducive to quick work, but when I start getting tired and frustrated, it's better that I quit than make some stupid mistake.

I've decided on bound buttonholes and I searched through my button collection. I really thought I wanted very large buttons, but have changed my mind I think. Anyway, I've decided for now on the rectangular buttons I got from Fabric Mart. You can see it below by itself, and also buttoned through the buttonhole, and with the other possibles below that. I think the colors are best on the lower photo.

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