Thursday, April 13, 2017

STYLE '17 + 40% off admission

I was contacted recently by the organizers of STYLE '17, asking if I would be interesting in attending the show April 29-30th.  Since I didn't know anything about the event, I checked out their website to see what types of artists and vendors might be there.  There are some really exciting and diverse crafts being represented (check out this jewelry maker's biology-inspired items!).  And when I saw that the show takes place in my town at the Computer History Museum, I was completely sold (I can even bike there!).   If you are near-ish and would like to come, the organizers are kindly providing 40% off to my readers (details at the bottom)!

Here's the official info from the organizers:

STYLE '17 – Silicon Valley’s celebration of independent design presents the jewelry, textiles, accessories and home goods designs of nearly 70 locally and internationally renowned artists in an exclusive two-day show, sale and benefit. You’ll find gorgeous one-of-a-kind and limited edition pieces with prices ranging from modest to luxurious. For a complete list of designers, go to

Your purchases support Art in Action, a national non-profit that provides visual arts curriculum to 75,000 students each year, including children in 185 Bay Area schools.

When:  Saturday, April 29 + 30, 10:30 am - 5:00 pm
Where:  The Computer History Museum, Grand Hall, 1401 N. Shoreline Blvd., Mountain View, CA

Weekend General Admission: $10 - Buy tickets online and save 40% off the general admission price when you use code NICOLE40 on the last page of the checkout.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Draped silk blouse

I'm about halfway through my last semester at WVC and I am loving my draping class!  I've taken two flat pattern drafting courses, which were amazing too, but draping to create garment designs is just a whole different skill.   So much fun!
Since I work on a dress form that has a similar bust size as me, I can use certain class drapes as designs for myself.  Here's the original drape from our exercise in class (photographed on my personal form at home, though I did the actual draping on on the good Wolf forms at school).  

This is my first go at using a drape to make a garment out of fashion fabric and I'm so excited at the result (and the prospects for future garment designing!).    I didn't even bother copying it onto paper--I just used my muslin as the pattern.
Obviously, the huge benefit of draping directly on a form is that the result should fit perfectly. The dress forms at school are not exactly shaped like my body (or ANY body, for that matter), so that only works in theory (or for standard sizes).  My own form at home, however, has been padded and altered to be a better representation of the my shape, so I look forward to doing more designing on that.
The original draping exercise in class didn't offer a suggestion for closing the neckline.  I opted to go for a big ol' side bow as my closure, with long ties hanging down in the front and back.  I am in LOVE with this feature!

The fabric is some leftover silk crepe de chine (from this dress) from the 2nd floor (sale items!) of Stonemountain and Daughter in Berkeley.  It's perfect for this design!
We're starting our mid-term project next week and I've chosen something that I hope can be translated into a garment for myself (naturally!).  I suspect there is going to be lots of draping in my future!


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Textured check Bronx dress

I have a thing, apparently.  If I like a pattern, I make it at least twice, in quick succession.  There are many examples, but this is the most recent instance; the Bronx cowl dress (see first version, here).
Clearly, I love this pattern.  More specifically, I love this silhouette and look for me.  A fit and flare dress just works with my every day life.  And again, for those that think dresses are fussy, count the number of garments I have to coordinate and put on my body.  Yup, that number is 1.  Easy-peasy.
Let's talk about the fabric, though; it is the true star of this garment (at least that's my impression based on the number of approving comments I received when I wore it!)  I purchased it last month with an allowance from Britex Fabrics and unfortunately, it's not available anymore.  I normally wouldn't pick a polyester knit, but I just adored the raised square texture!   The fabric is on the thick side--not quite a scuba knit, but with a good heft.  I don't think I'll enjoy the poly knit in the blazing heat of the summer, but it was very comfortable for our early spring temps.
Here's a close up of the tiny raised squares.  It's really fabulous!
Knowing that the fabric was a little thicker than my last version, I expanded the cowl a bit to help it drape better.  To do this, I slashed the pattern horizontally across the bodice at the bustline.  Then, I cut the remaining upper part vertically and expanded the cowl arc.  This expands the cowl while leaving the bust and waist measurements the same.  

I did want to break up the fabric print with  belt, so I added some belt loops at the side seams.  I just ran my serger while pulling the 4 threads to create a "chain" and then attached them to the dress on the inside.  If I don't feel like wearing a belt, I can pull the belt loops inside the dress to make them less visible from the outside.
I suspect I have a couple more of these dresses in my future, though perhaps using the scoop neckline and short sleeve variation for the summer.

I'm also realizing that my last bunch of posts have all been navy garments (and there is one more, I'm afraid!)  Navy is the new black :)

Friday, March 10, 2017

Cypress Cape

The Cypress Cape by Sewaholic hasn't been getting a lot of attention in the sewing blog world.  The style probably isn't for everyone, but the fact that it's different and interesting is why I was drawn to it in the first place.   Nevertheless, it took me a long time to actually sew it, despite buying the fabric right away (over a year ago!).

The delay was in part because the few people I showed the pattern to expressed "concern", but also there were always faster and easier things to sew first.  But perhaps most critical to the delay is that California had been, until this winter, in a serious drought and an unneeded garment wasn't high on the priority list.  So, with all the rains over the past few months, it became important to be well-outfitted for the CA monsoon season.

For the pattern, I sewed a size 0, which wasn't a good idea.  I was concerned about not being able to make petite adjustments, so I wanted to sew the smallest size possible (hey, it's a cape, right?).  It's actually a very fitted cape, at least around the chest and shoulders.  Size 2 or 4 probably would have been better, so I could more comfortably wear a sweater or vest underneath.  It's definitely wearable as-is, so no big loss.
The fabric is from Hart's Fabric in Santa Cruz (I bought it  year ago, so it's out of stock).  I's a pretty perfect fabric for this application.  The instructions call for nylon ripstop, but this fabric is a bit more thick and sturdy.  The drape is still good, though.  The color is definitely a bit metallic-irridescent.  
The only change I made was to turn under the hems, instead of using bias tape.  My primary motivation for this switch is because all I could think about was water dripping down the sleeves and making the cotton/poly bias all wet.  However, it also gave me the opportunity to shorten the jacket a bit to fit me better.  In the end, I like the look of it a lot better.
The zipper/ velcro closures design in the front look super professional, though it would have been nice to have the zipper go all the way up under the chin.

The back pleats turned out well, though they are generally hidden under the hood.

The one thing I don't love about the style is that it's not really possible to put a bag over your shoulder.  I end up keeping my handbag on my elbow, which I do a lot anyway, but you can't elegantly haul all your groceries while wearing this.   

Overall, sewing this cape was enjoyable and it's definitely fun to wear. I suspect the rain is done in CA for the season, but if not, between my last rain jacket and this one, I'm ready!  

Monday, February 27, 2017

Stretch lace tee tutorial

Did you ever consider that stretch lace could be used to sew up a simple tee shirt?  It just takes the right pattern and a few small sewing modifications!   Here, I've used this lovely stretch lace in "Naughty Navy".
When choosing a pattern for a stretch lace tee, here are a few guidelines:
  • Keep the number of pattern pieces to a minimum--a style with just front, back and sleeve pieces will work better than one with many style lines.
  • Bust darts are okay!
  • A jewel or boatneck would work best, but you can also modify a favorite pattern to have the neckline of your choosing. 
  • Look for a style without closures.   
  • A semi-fitted style would be most appropriate.
For my version, I used Vogue 8151 pattern, (apparently out of print, but I found it in the store) but here are some others that might work well, too:
In addition to the stretch lace fabric, you will also need about 3/4 yd of lining fabric, in a lightweight knit (such as lightweight cotton, rayon, or bamboo knit).  Choose a contrast or matching color; here I went with this peachy knit fabric to highlight the design in the lace.

Step 1: Cut your pattern pieces (front, back, sleeves) from lace.  I made some fit adjustments and widened the neckline, but otherwise stuck pretty close to the size Small for this pattern.
Step 2: Cut the front and back pieces from your lining fabric.  No need to line the sleeves!

Step 3:  If your pattern has bust darts, sew them now in both the lace and lining.

Step 4: Sew the shoulder seams of the front/ back pieces in lace.  Then, sew the shoulder seams of the lining fabric.  I did not include 1/4" clear elastic at the shoulder seams, but it would be useful.  If you choose to apply clear elastic, sew it into either the lace or the lining (not both).

 Step 5: With right sides facing, line up the necklines of the lace and lining fabric.  Sew using a stretch stitch or overlock.  Lightly press on the lining side.
Step 6.  Now, treat the lining like an underlining.  Baste the lining and lace together along the both sides and the armhole to keep the layers together.  I used a simple straight stitch, but you can use a 3-thread overlock and then trim it off as you overlock the side seams together later.  
Step 7: Sew in the sleeves, easing the curve if needed.
Step 8: Sew the side seam, from wrist to hem, trimming off your basting stitches as you go.
Step 9: Hem the sleeves and top using a stretch stitch, double needle, or coverstitch machine.  

Step 10: Wear your beautiful creation, dressed up with wool pants or a pencil skirt, or dressed down with jeans.   Easy!

Many thanks to Britex for providing the fun lace fabric!