Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Vogue 1515, Sandra Betzina Skirt, meh

I am not crazy about this skirt. I started out liking it but now that it's done it just varies too much from what I saw and expected.

I also think some of the issues were the pattern itself. Here's the down and dirty.


This is Vogue 1515, a Sandra Betzina Today's Fit pattern. Today's fit was just fine but there were other issues. I started out with thinking it was all my fault but now really think it's the pattern.  The description is "below waist skirts have wide yoke, piping, cargo pocket, hidden pocket on front yoke facing, and shaped hem." Choosing not to emphasize my already wide hips I did not do the cargo pocket. The interior facing pocket was just too much futz and I was just not in the mood for piping. I wanted a simple skirt with an interesting cut. The pattern photo is a busy print so really hard to see drape and volume. Check out this line drawing:

I really expected a lot more fabric in the bottom layer of the skirt. It looked like the classic circle cut to me and this shape was why I bought the pattern. Alas, you can see that there really is not that much shape and the bottom tier is really just more fabric added to make it more A line. I also thought where the bottom tier met the middle tier the fabric would sort of "stick out", Marcy Tilton style. It didn't. It really just had a rather ugly little puff at the intersection. It looked bad, IMO, so I stitched again to make a smoother transition.

Then there was the pattern layout. Look at this skirt well.

No, that's not two different fabrics. I SWEAR each piece was marked on the wrong side with masking tape. Each piece was laid out with a nap layout, nothing turned, that is nothing unless it was indicated.

But I think the issue can be possibly found above. The red serrated line on piece #9 indicates the straight of grain and that is how these pieces were laid out.  The green lines show which sides connect to which. You can see that this is really pretty much a sort of odd A-line. The purple arrow/line shows how other than the higher side seam this pretty much is a flat piece, therefore no volume like the tech drawing. Given all that, is my piece off grain enough to look like a different fabric? At the least it is contributing. Moving around the fabric at this point shows it matches but I think having it cut and turned this way makes it appear "off" As is true to all sewing dilemmas, this was discovered near the end of construction, when hems were interfaced, topstitched,etc. Boo hoo.


The fabric is a black rayon/poly/lycra ponte, mostly rayon but I'm not sure of the ratio at this point other than it is mostly rayon.It's nice looking up close and drapes nicely. It is not super heavy. It didn't call for it but I fused the yoke and the  facing with fusible tricot to help stabilize it. That definitely worked.


There are two different "skirts" described in the pattern. One has a zipper, one is pull on so each has it's own yoke. I used an invisible zipper and it came out pretty decent. It had been a while. I really think they are easier than the lapped versions.

I changed the sequence a bit. The pattern has you attach the yoke at the end. I put the yoke on first with the top tier of fabric. It was then very easy to put the zip in with the facing. I used this tutorial from Tessuti as a reminder on how to do a faced invisible zip. At first sight it looks like a Rubik's Cube, but it really is quite easy.

This is the hem I prefer on all the knits I sew now. It is backed with tricot fusible interfacing. It is first stitched on the fold of the hem and then an inch and a  quarter away. The edge stitching really helps the hem drape nicely. Give it a try.

I think, given my work and the folks I hang with, I can wear this skirt with a tunic or long sweater. Hopefully, like most sewists, I will be the only one who sees the shading difference. In the meantime I am just movin' on!


My next project will be with one of my very favorite fabrics. I used it often. It is Kauffman Essex linen blend, a linen cotton yarn dye. This one is the denim blue. I haven't solidified on a pattern yet, but soon!


This has been our focus lately so the sewing has to fight for my time. This is primed and ready for wall paint. Plumbers are called for the changeout. Walls will be painted, shelves put up, and cabinets painted as well. Bye Bye "golden oak" that I have detested since day one. ..............Bunny

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Fur Back Pack, aka, the Swoon Lucy

Is it possible to be in love with a backpack? Yes it is and I am feeling the love. This is so perfect for a winter day up here cruising the boutiques of Lake Placid. I'll wear it to the supermarket, too! Thats how much I loved it. If you saw my post, Fur Fantasies, a bit back, you know these are a rare and incredibly expensive animal. But, hey, we are sewists, right? We can make one of those and I tried and I did  and I think it's a pretty decent knock off of the runway beauties. AND....no animals hurt in this process!  Here is the 411. It was a long process as I am having other distractions at the moment but it got done, yay!


For this project I used the Swoon pattern, Lucy, a sweet little backpack. when I first downloaded it and saw the pieces I thought this is way to small for what I envisioned but I didn't recall that the fur I was using was almost two inches long. The volume greatly expanded once constructed and I was really glad I didn't print the PDF pattern at more than the 100% scale.

The back of the BP has a zipper pocket that is nearly the length of the bag. One of the things I really liked about this pattern is the zipper straps You can use this as a BP or zip up the straps and use it as a sling bag. Love that and I love the look of that zip on the straps.

The inside of the bag specifies grommets in a 3/8 size but I wanted a big statement with a big fur bag so went for the extra large, extra shiny type grommets. The lining sports a divided slip pocket the width of the bag.

I did have an experience with the cutting and folding of the various straps, confusion on my part. I emailed Alicia Miller, designer and owner of Swoon bags late at night and she got back to me the very next morning. It was all clear once I spoke with her and looked at the pattern again. Great to have a quick response and thank you, Alicia.

Fabrics and Notions:

This fur is faux,  gorgeous and looks so much like real silver fox as you can see above. I have used it for hats before, I have tons, and it doesn't get ratty or matte-y. I bought about 7-8 years back from, are you ready for this, Joanns clearance. I think I paid six dollars a yard and I bought the whole monster bolt when I found it. May I say, enabler that I am, never hesitate to buy gorgeous faux fur when you find it. It's use will find you and a little goes a long way. Now, have I seen a faux of this quality since I bought this one? No such luck but I am hopeful. This is something so hard to purchase online.

The lining was a simple quilting cotton in an abstract gray and white print.

The contrast is a gray microfiber faux suede, not the easiest thing to stitch through but a size 14 jeans needles did the trick.

Zippers came from Sew Da Kine. I looked everywhere for these larger, metallic nylon coil zippers. It doesn't show in any of the pics but the zips are very shiny, silver metallic. They read white and are definitely not. One thing I LOVE about these zips is that they can be sewn through like butter. How good is that? The straps added more bulk to sewing than the zipper coils, that easy and they are pretty. They are also now available from Emmaline patterns and hardware, too.  Emmaline is in Canada and Sew Da Kine is in Hawaii. They both ship quickly. Also, Sew Da Kine offers the zippers in "chain" form, meaning by the yard and offers the pulls as well. Emmaline's zips come with closed ends and are called "Vizzy zips".

Grommets and zipper pulls came from Emmaline and are a shiny nickel finish. These grommets have amazing shine and a 3/4 inch hole. They screw in and my set of tiny screw heads and their magnetic holder were priceless for the installation. You don't ever want to be dealing with such miniscule screws without a magnetic screw driver. Trust me.

Interfacings used were  different from what the pattern spec'd. Everything, including the lining got fused with SF101, standard bag interfacing. Obviously I couldn't interface the fur but ahead speak to how I managed that. The flap and the bag bottom got a layer of Peltex. Can you imagine the bulk? I have a work around I'll share in a minute. One thing I did not do, which would have been nice but I couldn't do it at the stage I realized it was to fill the grommet band with maybe Decor Bond. Peltex would not have bent enough for the gathered up edge.

I tried various threads but found that standard Coats and Clark worked best with the triple topstitching.


I followed the instructions pretty closely other than the following:

I added a slip pocket to the exterior. This meant that the area behind the pocket had all it's fur shaved off to reduce bulk.

I used the large grommets which added weight to the top band, only interfaced with SF 101 on each side, not enough.  I did something to help carry the weight and it worked. I've seen it in retail bags with grommets and straps. I made circles of the faux suede and backed them with peltex and fusible fleece. I then cut around them with pinking shears. the inside of the circle was cut out to accommodate the grommet holes. You can see what this looked like with the red arrows. While the edges show with the tilt of the photo, IRL, they don't come above the edge of the bag.  Each grommet got one of these hard circles. When everything was lined up with the holes. E6000 glue was applied to the tiny screw holes and the backs of the grommet parts. Then they were all lined up and screwed in.

The ends of the pull cord/strap were passed through these little odd tubes from the jewelry department at Joanns. I like how they dress things up. I ran them through and just knotted the ends.

Straps were topstitched with regular C&C thread and a triple stitch. I went slow doing this and it took a while but the stitches came out better for it. I did not topstitch all areas spec'd. Those right next to the fur wouldn't show and it was an area of much bulk. 

Another thing I did differently was the interfacing. To add the Peltex to the bottom and the flap without adding bulk I cut it out a quarter inch smaller than the finished size. It was then fused to a piece of muslin. The muslin was then treated as an underlining, getting sewn right into the seams like the top layer. 

One last thing I did differently and it worked, was HANDSEWING the bottom of the bag to the bag sides with a small backstitch, two times around. It's going nowhere. There was no way I was getting all that fur under the presser foot and sewing a really straight line. The backstitching worked great. FWIW, sleeves are sewn into custom tailored suits this way, not on a machine, so don't be afraid to use this technique when you need to. It's a strong stitch. 

In conclusion:

Would I recommend this pattern? Definitely. It's a great backpack pattern and I was impressed with Swoon's customer service response. 

Would I make it again? I would definitely make this pattern again  but not another fur BP. I hope this one will give me years of use and I I am thinking of a summer type BP, something rather preppy. 

Thanks for bearing with me on this loooong journey. I hope you think it was worth the wait. I really enjoyed the challenge of this project and am proud of the results. While modeling on a couture runway is not in line with my genes, do you think I can pull off a couture fur backpack?....Bunny

Monday, February 13, 2017

Bag Hardware

What you see above is a bag fresh from the thrift shop. I paid fifty cents for it. The hardware will be removed by cutting the bag apart. Then I will clean and  polish up what is clearly very dirty hardware and add it to the collection. 

I like to keep as much of the hardware as I can in little plastic ziplocs otherwise the pieces will scratch each other. I also buy hardware as well. Here are a couple of resources:

That nasty bag I just showed you....here's why I bought it:

Is this not the coolest? It is a key fob permanently installed into the interior of the bag. I love it, snake chain and all. I would put one of these in every bag I make if this were available. Hmmm,,,,I think I need to talk to my resources, don't you? 

I have been busy with the fur backpack and it is nearing completion. I have learned that I really need to hand baste seams for the machine to give me accurate seam allowance widths. 

Above you can see how I shaved the fur off off the body of the bag. That is because I decided to add two slip pockets on the exterior and it would be too much bulk otherwise. I have learned that many furs are backed with knits, so really need some substantive interfacing. I've added Peltex all over most of this bag and like the effect. It gets much more shape this way and otherwise it would be a sagging ball of fur. I've also found hand basting is critical to deal with all the layers of fur/lining/suede. This has a nap, albeit much longer than a velvet, and needs that security of basting just like a piece of velvet. Binder clips and/or pins are fine but this really needs to be handbasted. I am liking and enjoying this so much I may make another with a different fur I have. We'll see. Spring will probably call first! 

I would normally have the bag complete at this point but I am remodeling a bathroom, pretty much  on my own. My husband is not in a position where he can help me physically and I really don't want to spend 14,000.00 for this, the cost of my last bath redo. So I am pretty much on my own here with lots of wonderful feedback and encouragement from him and that's great. I have spent the last three weekends working on the bath and then sewing. I ripped out aging ugly wallpaper. Remember Venetian plaster, as in faux wallpaper? I swear I will never wallpaper again. Then it was remove the glue from the walls with two days of work and two different cleaners. That brought us to today which was mudding the sheetrock and letting it dry. Next weekend will be sand and remud as needed then hopefully start to paint. While we have a pretty good idea of what we want for knobs, paint, faucets, etc.....we will go shopping next weekend for all those goodies and see what sticks. It will be a four day weekend for us so hopefully we can make some major headway on this project. I definitely want it done soon so I can concentrate on other distractions. I will keep you posted and hopefully will have that bag done soon. I am really liking the results so far.......Bunny