Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Embarrassing moments in sewing

This morning, as I was preparing for work, I took a few minutes to read from one of my favorite books - Rise and Shine: A Devotional by Liz Curtis Higgs.

In the story I read today, Liz (I feel like I know her so I'll call her Liz) shared a story of what could have been an incredibly embarrassing moment. She was at an airport looking for a place to sit while she waited for her flight to be called. She spotted two seats joined together on a t-shaped base and one was available. She sat down and the other women happened to stand up around the same time and Liz flipped the seat over and landed face down on the ground! (If you're not familiar with Liz Curtis Higgs, she's a big woman [her words] and one of the funniest speakers I've ever had the pleasure to listen to.) I probably would have been mortified but she wrote about how hard she laughed at herself when she thought of what she must have looked like.

As she wrote "...remember the wise words of Ethel Barrymore: "You grow up the day you have your first real laugh...at yourself."

I guess I grew up a while ago because I have had the opportunity to laugh at myself many times.

Her story got me to thinking about all of the embarrassing moments in my life. Which was the most embarrassing? And how would I choose? There's so many of them!

I think I'll share my favorite embarrassing moment another day. For today I'll stick to embarrassing sewing moments - or more accurately embarrassing sewing projects.

For this one you need to travel back with me to the 70s when I was in junior high school. I'd been blissfully sewing for a few years and, as a self-taught sewer, was completely oblivious to the "proper" way of doing things.

One of my many sewing projects was this awesome knee-length cape, complete with hood, sewn from this incredible denim that had photographs of stop signs printed (in blue) all over it.

As I was wearing my trendy new cape one of our neighbors asked if I had made it. I proudly answered yes! To which she laughed and laughed and laughed and told me that I had done it wrong.

Turns out there's this sewing layout called "with nap" and "one-way" fabrics that I didn't know about. So when I made my cape the stop signs printed on my denim fabric were right side up on the one side of my cape and upside down on the other side.

In response to her laughter, I held my head high, squared my shoulders, looked her straight in the eye, and informed her that it was a design element and I had intended to sew it that way. Then I turned around, walked slowly into my house, took the cape off and never wore it again. You see, I was embarrassed by my lack of sewing knowledge and was afraid of being laughed at again if I wore it.

If she didn't like that cape I wonder why she didn't comment on the "gorgeous" poncho I sewed in 7th grade Home Ec class - out of a gold and red floral cotton fabric complete with red ball trim!
So....what's YOUR embarrassing sewing moment? Pin It

Monday, April 02, 2007

Have you heard the one about the Sandra Betzina pattern recall?

Nope, its not a joke. I only "heard" about it because I was surfing through the boards on Patternreview and saw one entitled "Sandra Betzina "Today's Fit" Pattern Recall
Vogue 2913 and 2948".

Since I typically purchase most Vogue pattern that Sandra Betzina releases, I was pretty sure that I had these two in my stash. Sure enough, here they are.


I had traced the pieces for pattern 2913 soon after the pattern was released intending to make a muslin, tweak the fit, and then sew some winter wool pants. However, some reviews on Patternreview and sewing blogs were not favorable for this particular pattern so I put it aside.

Curious as to why the patterns were being recalled, I followed the link provided to Sandra Betzina's website, where she posted an explanation. Apparently the patterns printed and released by Vogue patterns did not match the one that Sandra Betzina had sent to the company. The difference was in the crotch curve. Vogue patterns admitted that the error was on their end and recalled the two patterns.

The patterns were to be corrected, reprinted, and re-released on April 1, 2007.

If you purchased either of these patterns before that date you can send them to Vogue patterns, attn: Consumer Services, and let them know if you want a McCall's Stitch n Save or a Butterick See & Sew. You will receive the replacement patterns for the Sandra Betzina patterns plus a coupon for a free pattern (Mcalls Sew n Sew or Butterick S&S) as reimbursement of your postage.

My patterns are ready to mail back in tomorrow's mail. I'm glad to know that Vogue was willing to take responsibility and replace the patterns, however, I wonder if I would have even found out about the recalled patterns if I hadn't been browsing the boards at Patternreview? Perhaps Vogue is planning a larger recall notice after they reprinted the correct pattern.

That's why I posted this here, just in case any of you have either of these patterns in your stash and missed the topic being discussed on the sewing boards.

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

HotPatterns Butterfly Top Pattern Review

The other day I picked up one of the new HotPatterns that is now being carried in Hancock Fabric stores. The styles are very trendy and the patterns are being marketed as "No Sweat Sew Easy" patterns.

My goal was to test one of these patterns to see whether or not I would recommend them to a brand new sewer.

The instruction sheet does not provide a lot of detail but there is a large illustration of each garment that is to be sewn.

For someone who is not very experienced or only familiar with terminology from the Big 4 pattern companies, the instructions could be a bit confusing at first, but by following along as written the top will turn out as designed.

The one part that could be confusing for a beginner is the written instructions for sewing on the back facing piece and finishing the neck edge. The back facing is sewn to the back, turned, edgestitched and then placed over the shoulder seam encasing the shoulder seam and finishing the neck edge. If you've sewn a neck edge like this in the past you'll understand what to do.

Seam allowances are all 5/8".

The instructions also includes sections such as a skills list, how to use this pattern, and why you should make a muslin.

This particular pattern is described as "designed to have a slim but not-too-tight fit. Both tops have a deep hip-band and full sleeves."

As I noted the other day, there are only four pattern pieces for this knit top. The sewing of this top was as quick as I anticipated it would be - just over an hour.

However, there are adjustments that will need to be made on future tops, so I am calling this version a wearable muslin.

Keep in mind as I tell you about my experience, that I did not do any measurements to the pattern before cutting it out and sewing it up and there are no finished size measurements included on the pattern pieces. In retrospect, that step would have helped me choose a better size to use.

First of all, I was not familiar with sizing on this brand or how much ease was built into the design. Should I cut smaller and do an FBA or just begin with the larger size? I choose to begin with a size 12 and adjust from there. I based that decision on the description provided that said the styles were designed to have a slim but not-too-tight fit.

There is a lot of ease in this top. When I tried it on it did not have a "slim but not-too-tight fit". It looked sloppy. While the neckline has a wonderful full drape it was really deep. Beginning with a smaller size would have given me a better fit in the shoulder area and decreased the deepness of the v-neck. The top was quite loose in the body and the wonderful flutter sleeves were too long on me.

Based on the pattern illustration and the description of a "deep hip-band" I expected the top to end up right around my hip. In reality, it fell to the top of my upper thigh and looked more like a tunic.

I also expected the lower band to pull in fullness from the top creating a slight blouson effect but the lower band was almost equal in size to the lower edge of the top.

If you look at the line drawing on the back of the pattern envelope it gives a more accurate idea of what the bottom of the shirt looks like. As you can see in the line drawing the bottom of the top is not gathered, even slightly, into the hip-band.

After the initial try-on, I removed the hip band, took the entire side seam in by 1" and made the hip-band smaller.

The photo below shows the smaller version which still appears too large. The front of the top was longer in the front than the back by about an inch.

At this point I pulled out the pattern pieces and began measuring and comparing. As you can see, the center front is indeed longer than the center back.

Now I would have thought that my bust and the top's blouson effect would have taken care of the longer center front, but that wasn't the case. Perhaps by making the hip-band tighter and shortening the top so that it rides at my hip, rather than below it, the longer in front will not be noticeable.

I ended up removing the hip-band, cutting off the excess length and sewing the hip-band back on to that the bottom of the top was even all around.

The top was still too large and rather than continue to try and remove the excess fabric from the shirt, I asked my daughter to try it and see what she thought. She loved it and it looked great on her. She has a broader back and shoulders than I do so I know that I need to begin with a smaller size next time.

Here is the finished wearable muslin that has found a home in my daughter's spring wardrobe. She really liked the drapey cowl neckline on the top and she was planning on wearing it as a tunic instead of bloused as shown on the pattern cover.

She especially liked the flutter sleeves.

I'm not sure that I'll recommend this pattern line to the new sewer right now. I'm going to wait until she has a some experience under her belt. If she likes this line I'll help her with the instructions and the fit so she can use the pattern she chooses multiple times.

My final opinion on the Butterfly top? Its a keeper! In fact, I have another one on the cutting table for my daughter. She liked this one so much she requested on in black.

Its quick to sew, very stylish and only takes two yards of fabric - so splurge on a fantastic piece of knit for a top that'll turn heads. Pin It

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