THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

November 25, 2007

Holiday 2007 – Vouge 8313, Preparing the Pieces

Filed under: couture sewing,Embellishment,Fabric — phyllisc @ 10:52 am

This is probably the least interesting part of the construction process.   The pattern has been thread traced onto fabric blocks, and each piece will be cut as I need it to keep raveling down to a minimum.  The seam allowances will also be cut extra wide and trimmed to deal with the raveling. The photo on the left is a back skirt piece from the right side, and the right side photo shows the same piece with a partially basted underlining.  In my mind I went back and forth over whether or not to also add a lining, and then decided the organza underlining would add enough structure, and I would still be able to see and enjoy the reverse side of this brocade, which is just a beautiful as the side I chose.  The silk organza looks much more opaque than it really is because I didn’t use a flash for this photo.

The crystal beads arrived yesterday, so I mocked up the crystal picot edging.  After some experimentation with thread, it turns out that the best one for this application is a double strand of Guterman silk (sold on the blue spool you see below.)  I tried Nymo, a beading thread, but it was too stiff, and a single strand of Guterman was not strong enough to hold the beads upright along the edge of the fabric, which is on a slight bias for the  upper bodice.  However, a double strand of Guterman silk is perfect.  The needle is a sharp with a small eye.  The Swarovski crystals are size 2mm; about the same size as a seed bead.


If I can get all of the pieces pinned and then thread basted to the underlining I’ll be making good progess for today.

November 21, 2007

Holiday 2007 – Vogue 8313, Balloon Appliqué Seam

Filed under: Couture Techniques,Inspirations,Patterns — phyllisc @ 10:01 am

One thing I love about this fabric is the beautiful floral border, which will run along the hem of the dress. A vertical side seam all the way to the hem would split the lovely pattern, and I wanted to preserve that as much as possible.

So I’m planning to combine two techniques; the “appliqué seam”, and a quilting technique known as “balloon appliqué”. If you have a copy of Couture Sewing Techniques by Claire Shaefffer, go to page 55 and look at the horse to the left on the Schiaparelli “Circus Jacket”. An appliqué seam combines a regular seam and hand appliqué when you want to preserve a shape across a seam.

Claire published an article in the May/June 2004 (#94) issue of Sew Beautiful where she illustrates how to do this technique. I’ve been keen to try it ever since, and this project was perfect except for one problem; this silk brocade ravels instantly and badly, no matter how carefully I handle it. There was no way I’d be able to turn under the edges of the appliqué without shredding the fabric.

After giving it some thought, and remembering that I’ll use a silk organza underlining, I recalled reading years ago about “balloon appliqué”. With this technique you layer a piece of tulle or silk organza on top of a motif and stitch around with tiny stitches – at least 12 per inch. Then carefully cut out the shape leaving a scant margin. Make a slit in the backing and turn the shape inside out – now you can place the shape anywhere you like. Stitching the appliqué is easy because the edges are already turned under.Here is how I combined both techniques:

This shows a thread traced piece of border fabric; the thread tracing is the seam line and extra fabric has been cut around a few motifs:

Layer and baste the silk organza backing fabric. The piece is then pinned vertically and the two layers are basted together:


 Remove the pins and stitch only around the motifs:

Trim the motifs up to the regular seam allowance


Turn the appliqué – you have just done the balloon appliqué technique. Now align the seam allowance and sew the seam, stopping at the turned out balloon appliqué. Note: There is also a piece of silk organza underlining on the matching pattern piece.


 Flip the two pieces over and bring the appliqué to the right side.


You’ll see that I will need to finish this raw edge; I’ll probably machine sew a length of rayon seam binding over the raw edge, and then hand fell stitch the edge to the silk organza. Likewise, the edges of the appliqué need to be hand fell stitched to the fashion fabric.

Notes to myself:

  • I trimmed too close in a few spots and the fabric has come apart and raveled; I need to watch for that.
  • The white edge you see is the silk organza; I suspect the black won’t be noticeable.
  • If I see some funny breaks across motifs, I can individually balloon appliqué a full size of a motif on top of another of the same motif.
  • On the real dress the front piece will have balloon appliqués seaming that wraps towards the back; I think that’s the most elegant way to use this seam from a design standpoint.
  • My hand stitching will need to be strong and minute since there will be stress on this seam while I wear the dress.
  • Even though I’ve mocked up the seaming technique; I still have planning to do. I’ll need to figure out the order of construction in advance so I can do the appliqué and hand stitching both inside and out while the dress is still in a partially constructed flat stage. Plus there is a center back invisible zipper to install as well.
  • Today is prep day for Thanksgiving at our house (15 people) and since I’m still waiting for materials to arrive I’ll have a few days think about the construction.

November 18, 2007

Holiday 2007 – Vogue 8313, Muslin Mania

Filed under: Embellishment,Fit/Pattern Alterations,Patterns — phyllisc @ 8:22 pm

So far, I’m up to muslin No.4  on Vogue 8313 and here they are from left to right:

I’m not in the least upset that it’s taken me four muslins to correct the fit, because the challenges are totally due to my shape.  Vogue slopers, as well as McCall’s, have linebacker shoulders, and I’m just the opposite.  When I tried on the original muslin, even though it was a 14, my normal size, the upper bodice was so big it slid right off my shoulders! 

In addition to having narrow shoulders, one shoulder is also higher than the other, and the pattern pieces, when laid out flat (this is after adjustment), really do look very different from each other:

Pretty crazy right?  The differences between the two sides of my body are really apparent when the flat pattern pieces are compared against the Vogue original (the seam allowances have been removed):

Needless to say, I’ll have to do a single-layer layout when I cut the fashion fabric.  The back upper bodice piece didn’t need the indvidual attention of the front, so I’ll able to use one pattern piece:

A few more tweaks and I should be ready to move onto the fashion fabric.  The Swarovski crystals are on their way from Fire Mountain Gems & Beads, and I discovered that  I do have enough fabric for applique seams at the sides.  Gotta order some black silk organza for an interlining, and then the fun begins!

November 12, 2007

Holiday 2007 – Vogue 8313

Filed under: Embellishment,Fit/Pattern Alterations,Patterns — phyllisc @ 6:27 am

Our company holiday party is at the Westin Copley Place this year, and for the first time in quite a while I need to make something other than sportswear! So after an email consultation with the rest of the Sewing Divas,  I’ve settled on Very Easy Vogue 8313:

I’ll do the 3/4 sleeve version.  The fabric is a deep garnet silk taffeta brocade with a floral border design on the cross grain (a gift from Ann of Gorgeous Fabrics). The floral pattern (about 18 inches deep) will be along the hem and it thins out to scattered floral motifs. I’ll bead the deep-v neckline front and back as well as the sleeves with jet Swarovski crystals in a picot edge.

Maybe, just maybe, and if I’m careful and lucky with the layout, I’ll have enough fabric to do an appliqué seam at the sides – it would be nice to preserve the floral pattern all the way around the hem.  The pattern doesn’t call for a lining, but adding one in black China silk won’t be difficult.

The party is December 14 – it’s  time to get going on a muslin!

November 9, 2007

What to do with the scraps?

In a recent raid on Barnes and Noble I found a new publication called “Sew Somerset” – found in with the sewing, quilting, and craft magazines. It was like a window on a whole new world…The cover tag line says ‘the art of creative sewing with mixed-media’. There is a whole slew of ways of mixing paper and fabric and bits of stuff into art, which I have really never explored. It definitely got me thinking, as you can probably guess I do have lots of bits and pieces of cloth, buttons, lace, and trinkets. It closely resembles collage, but goes beyond that into book making, Artist Trading Cards, etc…

I have done a bit of patchwork and appliqué over the years, like this top with the front pieced together with stretch velvet swatches…

Or this patchworked cardigan made from printed stretch velvet swatches…

I have even embellished cardigans with bits of lace and ribbon like this piece.

But nothing like the sewn bits of memory and fancy I found in this magazine. There is a Somerset Studio website, mainly geared towards selling their main product: rubber stamps (there’s a reason the parent company is called Stampington) They produce the magazine Belle Armoire and have a new publication called Altered Couture coming out this month, with lots of tips and tricks for re-fashioning already made garments. Their web page with rules for art submission gives the background on all of their publications for those interested. I am looking forward to seeing what Altered Couture looks like.

I particularly loved the “Sewing Book” on pg 30 of the Sew Somerset magazine: an altered book by Caterina Giglio. She started with an Eddie Bauer catalog and glued and gessoed the pages to make a book. She then proceeded to sew and glue images, buttons, lace, fabric scraps, pattern pieces to make a highly evocative and personal piece of art to express her relationship to sewing and to honor her grandmothers who taught her so much. She is part of a group called Creative Underground in Ft. Collins CO. I found their website and see they have many books and useful products for sale. Well worth a visit!


I made a covered folder a few years ago that reminds me of this kind of sewn mixed media. Covered in stretch lace and embellished with ribbons and scraps of stretch velvet, I felt like I should transfer the technique to a jacket or some other garment. This sewn mixed media magazine got me to thinking that maybe I could play with the scraps and bits for its own sake, and it never need be applied to a garment at all. Hmmm

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