Sewing Vloggers

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Want to come up and see my sketchings?

After I finished the boucle top my studio was a disaster, despite picking up every day when I am done. I took a whole day to recover from the boucle episode but just kept going, and going, and going,,,,,,,,,,3 days later my whole den of  Sewing Zen was reorganized and I was happy. Once again, I knew where everything was and now it was time to move forward.

In my cleaning I discovered a sketch pad I really thought was blank. I opened it to find all sorts of drawings I did back in the late 80s and 90s. It was really fun to review them. There was a lot of patchwork, fringe, just all sorts of over the top surface embellishment. I still like them today but would probably tone them down a tad, a big tad! Those were the days of 60-80 hour work weeks and if I couldn't make my ideas in fabric, at least I could draw them out on paper. After going down memory lane, I  took a pledge to start sketching again. These days I seem to go from brain directly to fabric cutting. Back then I enjoyed putting what was in my head down on paper first. Then,  when I did have time to shop and sew, reviewing my pad was like reaching into a toy box and deciding what special toy I would play with  that day. I am definitely going to sketch more.

This is the blanket skirt I am working on. It is Simplicity 2655.  It has 6 gores and a deep waist yoke that goes from upper hip to high waist, at least it will when I am done with it. I am using View E, bottom left.

It is SHORT but will be worn with my fleece leggings and boots, hopefully a good look.  The center front gore  will be quilted with diagonal blocks. There will be a border of just meandering scrolls sort of  around all of  the hem. My own input is making it a wraparound skirt and doing the center front panel asymmetrical.  The pattern uses a zipper.

 It will be  underlined with cotton flannel. This little skirt needs to provide some warmth! This blanket skirt is  a bit of an oxymoron with its short length and cashmere/flannel fibers. Their primary function,however, is to allow the decent wearing of leggings without exposing our divine lady bits to the entire world. I think it's a great concept and have seen many in our climate wearing these.  Some look like short little "puffer" versions and others look like short little heavy sweaters. Many are just heavy fabric skirts, like this will be.

I really lucked out here with the fabric. In my organizing frenzy, I found a BIG piece of black cashmere that was left over from making my cashmere coat a few seasons back. You can just see the glow. It is so yummy.  Score!  I had no idea I had this big piece of cashmere hanging around. The underlining is 100% cotton flannel, the better to keep my booty warm.  It's going together pretty quickly so hopefully I will have more for you soon   We have a lot planned this weekend and I was hoping to wear it but won't happen. I want to savor the process. Everything on this should be easy.   

I've gotten a big positive bunch of compliments on the Vogue top. Thank you to all for your kind thoughts. It was a challenge but that was a lot of my own making do to my choice to not follow the pattern as written. But isn't that what patterns are about? Inspiration and guidance? Heck, this blanket skirt isn't going to be like the Simplicity pattern either! .......Bunny
P.S. Did you catch the date on the sketch below? Upper left.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Vogue 1642 - I think I overdid it!

I have so much to say about this pattern. I am just going to throw it all out there. I like it. It is warm, wooly, cozy and the perfect thing to wear with that snowy environment you see behind me. Recommended fabrics are medium weight wool, flannel and fleece. The design of this pattern makes for some serious bulk with those fabrics and that took a lot of care and attention. Because I chose a wool,  I felt my fabric required techniques that would be more involved than any fleece or flannel versions.  I did a muslin as you saw in a past post here and made even more changes, leaving the hem the length the  pattern specified and taking down the sleeve width even more. I wore this out socially last week with friends. I got oooos and ahhhs but I am still not sure where I stand on this yet. We'll discuss.................I will review this by it's parts, a bit different from my usual format but I'll start with pattern and fabric. 


This is Vogue 1642, rated "EASY". I do not think so. The inset corners on the collar alone take this out of easy status, right there, so be forewarned. This top has raglan sleeves fitted with darts at the shoulder which I like. The sleeves are cut VERY wide. I removed a full inch of width from them but would remove even more if I make it again. It is intentionally cut large and I like that as I most likely will have a turtleneck or sweater on underneath this top.  It also contributes to that cozy sweater-y feel. The way I constructed it makes it an outer garment if it is not super cold. There is a lot of volume here but that is well shown in the photo on the pattern envelope as well as in the width measurements on the back of the envelope. Don't be surprised unless you didn't do your due diligence. I did the XS size and the bottom width is 41 inches, pretty much the same at the bust so I didn't do my usual FBA.  I did petite the pattern as always. I also cut the height of the collar down about 3/8ths of an inch and cut down the pocket and flaps as well. 


The fabric is a 100% wool boucle. I believe I got it at Fabric Place Basement in Woburn. It is lovely and I am glad I used it for this design. Using this in wool, IMO, requires that it be lined. Despite the fact that wool is recommended as one of the fabrics to use, no lining is offered. Not a good idea.  What I chose to do was underline my boucle with Bemberg rayon lining fabric. It worked out well.  I did not interface the collar as I wanted a sloppier look and there were a lot of layers going on here. 

Underlining  meant the only two vertical seams were finished with a Hong Kong treatment. You can see that above as well as the lined sleeves felled to the underlining.  Since the facings would show when worn and since the boucle was bulky I bought some lovely THIN rayon ponte. Wrong move!


For the sleeves I really wanted to use a Nancy Zieman technique I like and you can see more of here. The sleeves are fully lined and hand stitched to the bodice in the end and it's very easy. Initially I cut the lining wrong but I was able to piece a new lining. Unbeknownst to me, bemberg rayon has a nap so it doesn't match. Who knew? Who is going to see the inside of my sleeves? No one! The sleeves had a full inch of width removed from them from the wrist to the armpit. 

I hand stitched wiggan to the hems of the sleeves to give them some more body and a bit of a roll, the way I learned with Claire Shaeffer. They would be limp other wise and I like that extra body.  

Above you can see how the sleeve was sewn to the lining at the hem edge. then the wiggan was installed and the lining pulled up and the hem pressed into place and the lining then  cut. This was all opened up again as you see above and the entire lining and sleeve seam is sewn in one operation. The sleeve is then pressed, turned and the lining fell stitched into the bodice.


The collar consists of two sections - the back and the front part with the zipper. The back and the front both are faced with the ponte but there is a "pleated underlay" that is seamed between them at the zipper, also of the ponte. The underlay is also faced with more ponte. So at that zipper we have two layers of ponte for the underlay, another layer of ponte for the facing, the zipper tape, and the boucle, five layers in all. Then at the bottom of the collar unit we have all of that plus 4 more ponte layers for the pleats, the underlining and sewing across through the zip and inset corners. This is no easy pattern, people! Just to get things even was difficult. I never do but this time I stay stitched all edges involved on the collar and the bodice with 1.5 stitch length. I sewed in the bottom only of the collar finding the nylon coil not too bad to sew through. I also found sewing through that lightweight ponte was like sewing through iron. It took a few needle tries to get the right one, a size 16 stretch and all the layers were happy. 

Above you can see the bulge of all the layers, crazy!

After sewing that little bulky bottom part I graded out as I could, respecting the zipper and the unraveling boucle. The boucle unraveled in the direction of the seam so if I serged it, it would have just pulled off, oy.......... Once that was all secure, I  decided to to a trick usually saved for plaid matching. I matched my staystitching lines on the collar and bodice and slip stitched them by hand  in place on the stay stitching lines. There was a subtle curve to the collar and it would have been lost if I just machine stitched it on.  This is starting to be a major hand to-do! After the collar was all slip stitched into position, then I could turn the top inside out and machine stitch the seam on the hand stitching line. 


When I wore this top out last week I didn't have any sort of closure on the pockets. You couldn't even see them. I had been all over the web and to the chains looking for rose gold buttons or such to put on the pockets, total strikeout. Then a bag making friend suggested I tried magnetic bag snaps but here is her brilliance. Magnetic bag snaps do not show on the outside of a bag. They come in pretty, shiny colors but they are on the inside of the bag and they stick. I did not need my pocket flaps  to really close. I just needed some bling to match the zipper. My friend suggested just putting the male part of the magnet snap on the outside and be done with it. Brilliant! There is nothing for it to fit into as the male part looks more like a big rivet and can't function without it's better half and there is nothing to connect that better half to and still show. Just too cool! 

So I installed the magnetic male stud and was very happy. There is a piece of crinoline then a piece of wool  for the legs of the magnet to be hammered down to. 

One caveat about these pockets. if I were to make this again or if you do, make the flaps a bit wider. They are the exact size of the pocket width. The garment moves and sways due to its volume  and these flaps can look like they don't line up with the pockets because they are the exact same size. I would make each side a 1/4 inch wider. 

In conclusion: 

If I were to make this again, and I might in a lighter weight fabric, I would totally eliminate the underlay. It serves no purpose and makes the collar lean way out in front of the wearer's neck. This would eliminate a major amount of bulk that is in the area at the bottom of the collar at the base of the zipper. I would make the flaps for the pockets wider. I would decrease the width of the sleeves at least another half inch, for a total of an inch and a half. I would like to try this in a heavyweight linen or such and see what happens. In the end I think I have a beautiful jacket that feels really great on my body,and that I will wear for many years. It is warm, comfy and stylish. I just think it would look better and be more attractive without that pleated underlay.. I would not hesitate to recommend this to an experienced sewist with the above caveats. I think you will be glad you made the effort. It really is nice...........Bunny


Friday, January 10, 2020


photo courtesy

Blogging started for me with the discovery of sewing bloggers back around 2007. I had belonged to sewing forums for some time and it was natural curiosity that made me click on that first link to a blog. I am 99% sure it was The Sewing Divas.  I was hooked. I found women who, like myself,  were passionate about sewing garments. Living in much isolation in the Northern Adirondacks in NY state gave me lots of time to sew and lots of time to read. These blogs were the human connection to my passion and pastime. I searched for more blogs and eventually started writing my own. Back then they were of great substance, being written out of a driving desire to share one's passion. There was no monetization, no Indie pattern makers, no fangurls, just those seeking to share their most favorite pastime. It was the era of The Sewing Divas, Gigi Sews, Summerset Banks and Lindsay T. You got quality information, high level tutorials and a place to comment, communicate and be part of an ardent community. (I've given you links, where possible, to these blogs so you can see just what I mean. Enjoy. ) While blogging was in it's infancy, it was also in it prime. Bloggers gained commenting followers. Those commentors started their own blogs. We communicated our sewing love and techniques to each other.

As more and more sewists began to read blogs, they began to write their own and the platform proliferated. There were "blogrolls" to connect each other and to not let anyone go unnoticed. Skills, fails,  fabric photos and successes were shared generously and sewing blogging grew. Everyone wanted to blog. Looked easy enough, right? That bandwagon was getting jumped on!

Enter monetization.

The sewing blogging world started to change. Not a good or bad thing, just evolving. With the promise and ability to use one's blog to sell to other sewists, it grew so quickly that it became the Wild, Wild West. Now I have no problem with monetization. I say go for it. However, what developed was blogging whose prime reason for existence was making money, not to share a passion, a skill, or a technique photo or even enjoy doing such.  This was not confined to just the sewing blogosphere. The substance of content of those early years became watered down.  The  experienced sewing bloggers continued to blog.  Sewing blogs grew beyond experienced sewists sharing. It was now cool to be blogging and a new demographic started publishing sewing blogs. Some were written by people just beginning to sew who were passionate about their new found hobby and impressive with their drive to learn. Others were written by new sewists as well but were highly monetized, lacked text and substance, usually had beautiful photos and lots of very misinformed tutorials. Many newbie bloggers stressed themselves with set schedules of posts to keep their followers coming. Many the conversation I read about "I don't know what to put on my blog".  For other sewing bloggers it was "I don't have enough time to blog. This is a lot of work and my husband wants to know where the money is. " It was a round robin Ponzi effort to get  clicks with blog tours, and other gimmicks because the belief was that if you did it right digitally,  you would be making six figures off your blog in no time. I really think if the passion came through on these blogs, getting clicks would not have been an issue. 

This growth of blogs for money invited  inevitable criticism which  gave rise to forums such as GOMI (GetOffMy Internet). Sites like GOMI were fed by the fangurl phenomenon, loyal followers of a blog who would defend with their last ounce of energy the greatness of a particular faux designer and her patterns and writings. Thankfully , Father Time has done his job and these sorts of blogs are dying out. The good news is that all of that ruckus did bring a new generation into sewing and I have seen some amazing things being made, particularly in the bag making arena. Newer sewists are really succeeding in that niche and have a really fresh, inspiring  vision. 

As often happens in a flooded market, the cream rose to the top and out of this phenomenon came many solid designers of patterns. Not surprisingly,  they were the ones with either industry experience, design school credentials or even both.  Seven Pines Design is my favorite of this genre. I've learned much about pattern drafting and design from her blog.  Sewing Adventures is another great blog for children's heirloom clothing and Kathy D is an expert and very popular teacher in the heirloom sewing world. There are many more designers who are experienced, credentialed and have survived. Those who did not have the sewing chops but did sport great ambition often found as time went on that they either had to step up their skill game or buhbye. And that is what many have done.  But their are other reasons some of those initial indie blogger/designers have moved on. 

Last week on a FB group of blogging sewists that I follow, much was said about traffic to these blogs having dwindled to near nothing. Clicks weren't getting clicked. A whole industry has developed of email marketing, SEO skill development and other digital techniques to drive those "customers" (not necessarily passionate sewists) to one's blog to make money. It appears the concept of blogging to make money and using just enough of a topic to make that palatable is failing. While it appears that way, I think if a blog has great content backed with passion, people will click. However, many are now using the quick hit of Instagram to share the love, instead. Blogging takes a lot more time. It is work. The blogging world is evolving once again. Influencers are using Instagram. Those who are passionate on any subject, from D.C. Politics to couture sewing use blogs. Some use both as they are not exclusive of each other but they are different animals. Blogging conventions seem to be on the decline. I remember when so many were jumping on that crazy bandwagon, such a bubble. 

About the same time as the FB blogettes, Look At Me Blogs arrived on the scene. Sewing blogs that had strong content became more personality centered. I think as sewists the majority of us love fashion. Didn't we all love playing dress up or sewing for our Barbies?  Sewing bloggers  have learned to be our own models and with DSLRs and a few lessons we're pretty good at making our new constructions look quite fashionable. But some of us really want to be models/sewing personalities as well! Some ache to be downright famous. I love looking at sewists, all styled up, in their completed garments. I like to  compliment them on how great they look and the amazing sewing they have just completed. They inspire me all the time to try what they just did. I get blown away by the challenges faced and overcome. But a whole segment of sewing bloggers traded text of sewing content  for blogs with twenty photos of themselves in  the same garment against 5 different bushes. It became boring after a bit.  Beautiful women with great sewing skills that didn't show much sewing anymore. Sigh.....I get that these more fashion oriented and less sewing oriented blogs appeal to some, maybe many. They are just not my cup of tea. We all have limited time and pick how we spend it. I would rather read Carolyn of Diary of Sewing Fanatic explain how she made her latest garment fit or how she struggled over a certain detail. I prefer not to watch Jane Doe twirl in front of the same grafitti covered cement wall 20 times in the same outfit and say nothing about construction.  Just me..........boring.

I think at this point in sew blogging evolution, it's a case of the strong have survived. A lot of people have stopped blogging completely. I get that. Life surely happens. Kids grow up and now want to wear what their friends wear, tees and jeans from Target.  Mom gets a job. People move, retire, even some dear bloggers pass away. Priorities re-prioritize.  That is all good and normal.  I am seeing  many newer sewing bloggers who are so full of passion for  their craft and write generously about it. Seven Pines Design , Star's Threads, Dressmaking Debacles, Sew Help Me, Cashmerette are all wonderful, informative, filled with youthful personality and sewing substance.  Two of the original four blogs quoted in the first paragraph, through the magic of the internet, are still here for your reading pleasure and sewing inspiration and I hope you take a moment to read them and be inspired. We know Meg of Lindsay T Sews is now working for Vogue and Summerset Banks has left sewing and blogging about it to enjoy a life filled with MUCH hiking with her family, which she blogs about a lot.  I applaud all those who have stuck through it all or have gone and come back, bloggers like Carolyn of Diary of a Sewing Fanatic, Tany's Couture et Tricot, Girls in the Garden, Rhonda Buss, the Mahogany Stylist and so so many more, far too many to mention. You bring such joy to my day. Thank you. You are the passionate sewists out there that inspire me  daily. I know you inspire thousands of others.  Your love of the self made garment comes through your blogs and you continue to inspire month after month,  year after year. 

I do think this platform has survived and will be all the stronger for it. We need to share with each other what is working. Sewists  need to have a place, unlike FB and IG, as fun as they are, that has substance, camaraderie, and inspiration. Blogs can do that. Any thoughts on the matter? Any great new blogs you would like to share? I am always looking for new sewists to either inspire or help along. This is my convo for the month of January. How do you currently feel about Insta now that it has been around for awhile? Does it make you feel inadequate with it's incredible fashion photos of sewn garments as it does many I have seen share on PR and FB? Inquiring minds want to know!
I have finished my woolen boucle top. It is a very interesting garment. I got lots of compliments when I wore it. It's not 100% ready for primetime as I was not getting lucky finding closures for the pockets to match the rose gold zip which worked out nicely, BTW. But I got a great idea from a sewing friend and went down a different rabbit hole. As soon as my closures arrive and get installed I will get it modeled for you all and reviewed. It was a very interesting sew and I will definitely wear it a lot. Next, a blanket skirt to wear with my fleece leggings and boots. Happy Sewing......Bunny

Who owned this pattern?

Recently I've had the opportunity to charge ahead on a long anticipated project, searching down some great thrift shops. This has not be...