THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

May 28, 2006

Build a Bead Stash Fast ‘n Cheap

Filed under: Embellishment,Notions — phyllisc @ 11:57 am

by Diva Phyllis 

Every sewer needs a bead stash, and it’s always a challenge to find the right colors and styles. The challenge is the same whether it’s fabric or embellishment – how do you find what you want?. A quick way to build a bead stash fast and inexpensively is to buy packs of beaded fringe and just cut the beads off and sort them.

This one came from Jo-Ann’s; you can also find them at craft stores like Michaels or A.C. Moore. There is generally about a yard or so in each package, which gives you a couple ounces of beads – plenty for most projects. Plus the color palette is already coordinated. Trying to do the same thing via bead catalogs or shows can just take forever. I usually sort the beads while I’m watching television.

These will be used to embellish the placket this for Simplicity 4124 tunic, View E (blue long sleeve version.)


May 27, 2006

In The Studio

Filed under: Sewing Studios — georgene @ 9:09 am

by Diva Georgene
In any sane person’s house this would be the dining room. I minimized the impression of clutter by positioning a mirrored sliding closet door just inside the door from the entryway. A world of clutter is hidden behind that mirror.
The mirror is an essential part of the studio – I can use it for fittings, and when I close the kitchen door it forms a nice tight corner to use to photograph garments on the dress form.

I now have learned to document most everything that comes thru the door, whether its a vintage dress, one of my own garments, or something I’m working on for a client.
The corner pose with the mirror gives me a front and side view in one shot. Digital photography and storage on the computer has made it so much easier to keep records.

Madeleine Vionnet documented everything that came out of her studio. There is a marvelous record of her work because she took these photos with a mirror on both sides of her corner. If only that kitchen door wasn’t there, I could put up the other closet door mirror as well!

I built a wood frame for the closet mirror, painted it, and jury rigged a way to attach it to 2 Rakks poles. Rakks are great, because they are tension poles, and no mounting hardware is needed to attach them to wall, floor or ceiling. I first started my Rakks system ages ago, and it keeps expanding according to my needs.

May 26, 2006

Women’s War Daily

Filed under: Fabric,Industry,Machines,Notions — georgene @ 4:52 am

by Diva Georgene 

My latest design job took me to Korea and Northern China for most of the month of May. Shenyang China is a stone’s throw from Seoul (less than 2 hrs flight), a thriving little town of about 4 million. As if that wasn’t far enough, I had to take a 2 1/2 hr drive to the town of Yingkou to get the factory where I would be setting the designs up for a Holiday 2006 knitted women’s suit collection.

In this far-off place I found an extremely modern well equiped factory with state of the art German knitting machines from Stoll.

The embroidery department was awe-inspiring with multi-head machines.

I did get to take a couple of field trips to the wholesale fabric and trims market in a nearby town. The market opens in the middle of the night so that people from far-flung places can come and make their purchases and get back to their shops in time to open for business at the regular hour. By 2 or 3 in the afternoon it becomes deserted.

Above is MariAn, my translator. I traveled with a team, including 2 Chinese-speaking Korean technicians, and MariAn. She not only had to translate, she had to learn about knitting technology in order to be able to explain my comments to the technicians (who had only a smattering of English) and to the factory.

Its a covered 2-story market with row after row of alley-like streets of small shops. Some are no bigger than a walk-in closet in an Upper West Side NYC pre-war apartment. (5’x8′?) Most shops have a specialty – hang tags and size tickets in one, fusibles in another. Yet another nearby with elastic and buttons, another with rivets and snaps, but no sew thru buttons.
It was amazing, becuase I’m sure that those of us who search in despair for that perfect button or trim, and sigh at the lack of choice – what would you say to an acre of tiny shops with everything under the sun??

In spite of the vastness of the selection, I couldn’t find the precise buttons and buckles I needed, so I got sent back to Seoul to go to the market there. I will tell you all about that on another post.

PS Please do not invite me for Chinese food for at least 6 months or a year, OK?

May 22, 2006

Jay McCarroll Auctions Sketches for Humane Society!

Filed under: Project Runway — Gorgeous Things @ 5:15 am

by Diva Ann, GorgeousThings

Any sewing diva worth her (or his) swatches remembers Jay McCaroll, the dark horse designer and winner of the first season of “Project Runway”. The irreverent, profanity-laden, but ultimately triumphant McCarroll trumped both odds-on favorite Kara Saun and universally despised Wendy Pepper with a collection that was witty and wearable all at once. And the most charming part? When host Heidi Klum declared him the next great American designer his reaction was, “That’s just nutty!” How can you not love the man, quirks and all?

Well, Jay has taken that quirky fashion sense and with his characteristic flair, is auctioning 9 original fashion sketches that he drew during the taping of “Project Jay”. Portions of the fur-free proceeds will benefit the Humane Society of the United States. You can see the sketches here: Jay McCarroll’s Sketches. But hurry! The auctions end later today.

Happy Sewing!

McCall’s 5137 – Final

Filed under: Fit/Pattern Alterations,Pattern Reviews — Gigi @ 4:58 am

by Diva Gigi 

How many of you have been plagued by neckline gaposis? The neckline looks so pretty laying there on your pressing surface yet when you try it on you want to sob. Naturally, you blame this either on your body or your sewing skills. Yet, it’s more likely a problem with the pattern and, the larger your bust and more open the neckline, the bigger the problem can be. Look at the neckline of this pattern when sewn as-is:

Now have a look at the neckline after altering the pattern:

Which neckline would you rather wear? The problem is that the neckline seam is too long. It needs to be shortened in order to hug the body as in Fig. B below. So, how do we achieve this? It’s actually very simple.

If I can, I like to stitch up a quick neckline sample in my fashion fabric. If that isn’t possible you can tissue fit but fabric will be the most accurate. In this case, I marked the area where the neckline was gaping (this is for my own reference only – you only need to mark the area where the excess will be removed) and pinned out the excess fabric – about 1/2″. I transferred the markings to my tissue as shown below. Notice that I have also marked the seamline at the outer edge. This seam joins the bodice and must remain the same length at the seamline.

Next, I slashed between the 1/2″ marks to but not through, the seamline. To make a small hinge at the seamline, I then clipped from the outer edge to, but not through the seamline. Next, I closed up my neck edge the desired amount, filling in the small wedge that forms at the bodice edge with tissue before truing the edges.

Lastly, you will need to redraw the grainline. The other alteration you see at the top of the pattern piece is where I shortened the entire bodice as mentioned in my first post.

Once the neck inset has been sewn it looks quite odd. But, as you can see from the photos above, it fits beautifully.

I’m very pleased with the finished garment. It’s very easy to fit and sew. This is also one of the few gathered skirts I can get away with. The skirt is gathered at the center front only and falls gracefully in a fluid fabric. A few changes you might want to make:

Bodice and skirt back: Eliminate the unnecessary center back seam.

Back neck facing: If I were making this in contrasting fabrics I’d possibly eliminate the back neck facing and continue the neckline inset around the back. But, then again, if your hair is long nobody will see that anyway. It’s just a thought….

Hem band: If you run short of fabric (as I did here) you can eliminate the hem band facing and sew a regular hem (don’t forget to add extra). In fact, if you are using a wild print like mine you could lengthen the skirt pieces, eliminating the band altogether.

Sleeves: If you are fuller busted, I’d probably avoid the longer sleeve. In my opinion, that’s far too much fabric for most women to carry off. If you are small busted, very slim and/or tall, go for it. For the rest of us, View A will be the most flattering. If you really want a longer sleeve, I’d recommend the Hippy Chick Dress from Hot Patterns instead. I made it last fall and LOVE it!

To avoid too much peek-a-boo, I sewed the side seam up 1″ higher. During pin-fitting I could see my entire bra band when I lifted my arm! I also reinforced that seam with bits of Stay Tape – just as I reinforced the neckline of my graduation dress.

This dress also looks really cute if you wrap the ties around the back and tie them at the center front – Obi-style!

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