A summary of 2012…..

A summary of 2012…..

Last year I wrote a blog in my head,  it went something like this……..

Pack up four children, four dogs, three cats, and various small animals,  and move to CT,  to an old barn that needed renovation, spend the next six months, with builders, painters, carpenters, electricians and heating companies ….

Realize that what had been the office/study and originally the family room in the oldest part of the house would be the perfect sewing room.  My first ever.   The light is amazing, new windows and doors on three walls, tucked at the back of the house overlooking the garden and oh so very quiet and always warm.  I hate the cold.  Words cannot express just how much I love this room and how much time I spend in  there with my beats, audio books and  the occasional wandering dog or four.

and finally I start sewing again.  

Last year was not super productive in terms of quantity but quality wow, a huge confidence booster.

I started with a simple  project to ease back in  -- New Look 6658

 I had been meaning to make this for at least five years, it was one of the first patterns I ever bought.. This came together beautifully,   a Ralph Lauren 100% black cashmere that was so light  and incredibly soft  from Michaels Fabrics  on sale , a thinsulate black silky lining I had picked up in NY at some point and leather closures from the always amazing Mood Fabrics.

I wish I had made this a long time ago,  the weight of the lining keeps it all hanging nicely , the arm openings are at the perfect height and it looks great with everything.

My  sewing obsession was back and so  onto a  quick dress for summer using a  mid weight stretch cotton sateen from Mood in my favorite  colour  of red.

Burda 7494  has made numerous appearances on blogs, its  is such a great dress for so many reasons.

Burda's instructions are ridiculously frustrating so I just ignore them.  I could write a entire  post  on  just that alone.    I made a muslin in a non stretch cheap  cotton which needed some major changes , I like things fitted  so I ended up tracing  down two sizes and adjusting the back ease another inch.    Its a pretty perfect fit now.  , it  sits on my waist without riding up and the sleeves are so flattering.  Can't recommend this enough.  

And then I started getting ready for Susan Khalje's  French jacket class, can I just say wow and wow again.

Extraordinary experience, life changing in terms of sewing improvement and Susan is as many have said before, the most wonderful person  and a incredible teacher.  I was completely  hooked.

I bought  a black  Valentino boucle and Valentino black and white lining at Mendel Goldberg on the prearranged shopping trip, I wanted a colour I would use often.

 It was my first trip to Mendell,  I thought over the years I had visited every fabric store in the city,  probably for the best that I had not known about this, credit card overload.    Needless to say I have been back a number of times,  just to gaze at  the Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Valentino fabrics among countless others.

I had read accounts on other blogs about the making of the French jacket,   Marina from Frabjous Couture wrote a great account of her time in Baltimore the previous year,  I read her blog entries through a number of times and they were so helpful ... 

As it turned out I  was signed up for  a second class  in  October before I was half way through my first week.  Just loved  it,  loved Susan,  loved every sleep deprived, hanging out until midnight with such a lovely group  of women minute in every day.

Back home and fired up,  I finished up the Chanel jacket,  140 hours in total,  hand sewing had not been my thing, I was slow, this is certainly the boot camp  for improving.

I have worn this jacket so much, its got a grown up  rock chick vibe  and I love it!   One of my  daughters assure me I would love it more on her, not happening :-)

 Then a summer vacation to the West coast, two nights in San Francisco  with Britex Fabrics  as my first stop,   I bought two different Missoni pure wool Boucles  there.  

A  quick flight down to LA to meet my brother,  niece and mother in law in  Venice beach ,  and two  amazing trips to Mood in two weeks let me fill my suitcase with yards of amazing silks, I have visions of loose flowing sundresses in my head.  Just a taste.....Cavalli, Oscar De La Renta and Vera Wang, some Pucci..........

Got a henna the first week

and a tattoo the  second week, I love it!!

Watched Californication being filmed.....hello?? ......SO cool!!

My want to be director daughter was stunned when we happened to be walking by and we stumbled on to it,  we stayed for hours and hours tucked out the way on the back alleys of Venice  Beach watching the filming……..  I could only imagine it being the equivalent for me  of ending up in some Parision atelier for a day.    Shame I won't let her watch it,  such a great show.

and then it was  home to  prep for my next Susan Khalje class.

A challenge this time,  Marfy F2643 I knew I could make this at home but  how well would be open to debate,  I needed  Susans  advice and vast knowledge   into couture techniques and construction.

I had never made anything this elaborate before…….plus I had spent $$$ on

fabric and was not cutting into the twelve yards of Valentino silk  Charmeuse and Chiffon   I bought from Mood  without a whole lot of hand holding!! 

Marfy patterns are like a jigsaw puzzle,   the pattern arrives folded into inself with no instructions but they  do have match up notations on some pieces,  and a detailed picture on the web for reference.

It took a day to get the muslin made and basted together, there were a couple of  bodice confusions that took time  to work out but can I just say  that Marfy patterns are truly perfect.  This dress needed absolutely not alterations, nothing, nada, no tweaks, do overs or adjustments.  How often does this happen?  its also so beautifully drafted,  when I stopped to look at the pattern you can see the subtleties that elevate it from the big 4.

Packed and ready to go , I squashed  my  dressmakers form still  wearing her beautiful muslin into my car and set off  for Baltimore again .

and this is how it went ……More pictures here

I learnt so much, it gave me the confidence and belief that I could do this at home.  I am so pleased with the dress, the fit, the drape and  especially the back bodice.

It was a tough cut as their  were  two different panels Mood picture, one with trees and one with cherry blossoms , all meant I think for the same collection - three panels  of one and two panels of the other,  in both chiffon and charmeuse  so we alternated the panels on the skirt, and used a cherry blossom panel  for the back bodice  and a tree panel  for the front.  I took care to make sure the colors were cohesive where they came together on seams.

All told eleven and a half yards of Valentino used, a small pile of cuttings left at the end and six yards of crepe de chine to line the skirt and bodice, about 15 hours at home to tweek and hem and another garment finished.

So onto a dress I  had been looking at for a long time in my pattern stash,   Cynthia Rowley Simplicty 1939 that was  getting no love on the web , and I knew it could go either way but I had bouught a Nanette Lapore silk charmeuse in Mood a couple of years ago, and it seemed a good fit for the pattern, a dark enough print to add a sweater and boots to for winter, but great with flip flops in late spring …

I actually love this, I ended up cutting three  sizes smaller than suggested because when I measured the pattern, the ease  allowance was 10", which even for a loose dress in nuts, talk about adding pounds.

The middle band is supposed to just hang  around  the waist to hips  I think  but it was so unflattering,  I put in a 1/2" elastic all around the top seam allowance and now I can almost place the seam  on my waist and have it just stay there. It gives the whole dress a little more shape and me some definition.    I left out the side zipper, it was not necessary, self lined the bodice , french seamed the skirt and added a light weight silk for the lining.

 Today,   I find myself with a project cut out and ready to go , a physical blog that my patient son  and husband have offered advice and help on …..and  what feels like a very quiet empty house after my extended family all flew back to England two days ago…

So every Monday starting today, a  blog entry  about what I am making,  for the next two years.  That seems like a manageable thing to do..........

This months project is   Burda #132 Tailcoat.  My  plan is to hand tailor this entire jacket using traditional Saville row methods, completing as much by hand as possible.


Have a great week.......

Burda tailcoat jacket #132 09/2012

Burda tailcoat jacket #132 09/2012