I love to use Pinterest as my virtual bulletin board. As you might guess many of my pins are sewing related. Click here to see what fun stuff I've found and pinned to different sewing boards.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Jeans Sewing: Skirting the Issue - Absolutely Riveting

I started off by poking a hole through the
many layers of denim, and drill with my seam
ripper. I didn't rip with it, but I used it's
sharp little point just to get to the other side.

Once I had a tiny hole, I worked through with
the pointy end of a bamboo skewer. I had to
do that on either side, and really work it back and
forth, in order to get a big enough hole for the rivet
to feed through.
After I fed the rivet through, and capped
it off, I taped it down with several layers of
masking tape on either side, just to keep it in place and
then moved on to the next rivet.  I have 4 of them
ready to go - two on each end of the pocket opening.

I'm going to get a little help
with the hammer to make the two ends come firmly together.
I did some test work on multiple layers of denim scrap,
 and found that smashing those two ends together
straight on,  isn't the easiest thing in the world.
I believe there is a tool for it, but I don't think it's cheap.
Since I wrote this post, I've realized that probably the correct tool for creating the rivet hole is an awl. The nice lady at the fabric store said she wouldn't bother to spend the $7 on one herself, if the technique I came up with here is working. I'm still considering whether or not to plunk down the money for what appears to be the right tool.

 I don't  know the official reason for rivets, but I would guess they help stabalize certain features of the garment. I'm putting them at either end of my front hip pockets, which have a tendency to gape open, no matter how much trying on and basting I did to get that opening to lay flat. Perhaps they help with that too?

 I do know that the kind of jeans I like, have rivets at the corners of the pockets, so I want to know how to add them.

I'm going to admit right off that I don't know the right way to add rivets. I could keep looking through all the resources I've collected, or buy more (I was told the Palmer and Pletsch have a good video on everything from fitting to sewing jeans), or I could simply forge ahead, get some experience with this fabric, sewing skill set, and thought process. That is the way I learn best - a little reading, a little trying it out, and then go back and read and listen some more. That's why I'm working on this jeans-style denim skirt I've been blogging about.

Trying out new-to-me techniques, like the ones I'm feeling my way through on this jeans-style denim skirt are the kinds of experiences that keep me 
Enchanted by Sewing

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Jeans Sewing: Skirting the Issue - WAISTing Time

I have been spending quite a lot of time with my jeans-style denim skirt waistband. And I'm definitely not WAISTing my time. it seems mighty important that I do so.

As you may recall from other postings in my "Jeans Sewing: Skirting the Issue" theme, I'm using this project to learn skills that will help me when I work on sewing my first pair of jeans. There's a lot to learn, and I don't expect I"ll get it all down before I start my actual jeans sewing project. But whatever I can take away with me, will stand me in good stead with that first pair.

Here are some issues I've worked on, not all of which I've resolved.

* Given the weight of the denim (11 oz - heavy weight) do I interface or not? I went ahead and did so.

* Two layers of this weight denim seems like too much. I lined one side of the waistband with a nice thin cotton print (check out the roses)

* Ugh! Two heavy denim seams at the waist and then you add in foldover bits from the edge of the waistband ... How many layers of denim is that? !!!!  I've been doing a lot of scissor trimming after seaming,  to attempt to cut back on additional bulk in this zone, but there's a limit as to how much I can cut away without just cutting off the whole waistband. This is something to ask around about.

* Getting the waistband to meet properly in front - waist seam to waist seam and the tops at the same height is no easy feat. Is it just me? I have been working on what sometimes seems like an endless loop... baste, try on, unpick, re-baste,  try on, unpick.... repeat steps until.... OK I thinnnnkkkk I've got it! It's worth working to get it right.

Next on the agenda is adding the rivets on the pockets, and the jeans button on the waistband. After all the fussing over getting the waistband to meet right, I sure hope I get the buttonhole centered properly over the button! 

After that the hem. I've already finished the raw edge on the bottom of the skirt and pinned it in place. I still need to try it on and eyeball it.

I've also got several long topstitching threads hanging around in a lot of places, waiting to run through a needle and take through to the back side. It's challenging figuring out at what points to topstitch the different parts, especially on the waistband. Some of it (like on the side seams) had to be done before other garment construction steps.

On the waistband, however, I topstitched too soon. Well, so... a little bit of my topstitching isn't totally continuous. I wouldn't be surprised if the same things happen with my test garment jeans, but once I repeat the process with them, moving onto a second and third pair, I'll start to learn when I can continuously topstitch without being likely to have to release some of the threads.

I was planning to work on cute back pockets and belt loops, like real jeans ones, but frankly I just want to finish this puppy up! I'm kidding myself that I could add those puppies later, but I bet I won't. I've got my Lilacs and Liberty shirt to finish, as well as several knit tops to create - hey the denim skirt cries out for those toppers. I'm also taking a pants drafting class at Cañada, where I'll be drafting my own jeans pattern. So I'll  have another opportunity to get on with those quintessential jeans additions in the not-too-distant future.

Working on my jeans-sewing skill set is almost like being a new sewer. You know what that does for me, right? Yep, it keeps me....
 Enchanted by Sewing!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Ench By Sew-11 Fashion Engineering for Work and Play (Interview)

This month, the Enchanted by Sewing Podcast returns from a London vacation, to it's California Roots
~ ~ ~
Following up on last month's podcast, the tour of the V&A Fashion Gallery Miss Firbank's Pink Linen Cuff  and Elsa Schiaparelli's Roses Get Me Dreaming ... two recent Vintage Threads postings in my regular blog

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Please send your thoughts about this month or next month's topic - Dress Forms-in the Post a Comment section,  below :-)

Early on in the show Susan and Laurel talk about Susan's
creation of this wonderful snake skirt using patterns and
techniques from
The Colette Sewing Handbook,
Inspired Styles and Classic Techniques for the New Seamstress

A denim skirt from the same pattern has also been a mainstay garment in
Susan's wardrobe 

Snakes Alive ! Environmental Consultant by Day
Sewist by night 
~ ~ ~
No coyotes or mountain lions slipped through the parking lot (as we'd both hoped they might), but snakes alive, did we have a good time talking late into the night! Come along and listen in.
~ ~ ~
Hey! The latest and greatest Enchanted by Sewing Podcast has been published!

Two Ways to Listen
i) Listen Right on the Web

i)You can listen to the show right on the web by clicking on the following links

~ OR ~
ii) Click on this link to iTunes to download these shows to your mobile device (iPhone, Android, etc.) free from iTunes 
Did I miss any links mentioned in the show? If so, please post here and let me know, or else email me at,  EnchantedBySewing AT gmail
I never would have guessed that this self-described fashion engineer came to fashion sewing fairly recently. It seems Susan S. owes many of her early sewing creations  to The Colette Sewing Handbook, Inspired Styles and Classic Techniques for the New Seamstress.

Colette has an extensive pattern line

Susan bought her fun snake skirt fabric (pattern from that Colette book above)  at Satin Moon in San Francisco (Richmond district). 

Britex, just off of Union Square, is another favorite fabric shopping spot for San Francisco Bay Area sewists.

Partial to Colette's patterns, Susan prefers tailored and fit styles  often with, a hint of a retro vibe.

Professional and weekend wear are well integrated in Susan's wardrobe. Business casual is her everyday look and skirts and dresses are important for Susan's girly-girl style, whether at home or work.

In the interview, we touch on... 

• Wardrobing, Sewing With a Plan (SWAP), Susan’s work-home wardrobe is well integrated

 Susan gets her fabric prepped and her creations pressed at Broadway Cleaners, RedwoodCity (San Mateo County, San Francisco Bay Area)

 "Nancy donned a sheath" As well as being an inspiration to professional women since the 1930's, Nancy Drew has always been a woman with a distinctive fashion sense.

 Deadlines and Special Occasion Sewing

 Dedicated Sewing Space and Crafternoons

 Google Sketchup is billed as 3D modeling software

 CA Fashion Styles
      One of both Susan and Laurel's favorite field trips in San Francisco ...Walk from Union Square, down Market Street, out to the Ferry building, for beautiful bay views, and the Farmer’s Market, for people watching and scenery

 CA Work Styles
     Styles vary throughout the Bay Area. Ferry Building commuters in San Francisco have their own sense of style. If you visit the heart of Techie Silicon Valley it's all about tee shirt and jeans. One classic Meetup spot where this look dominates is the Red Rock Café on Castro Street in Mountain View. Venture Capitalists? They've got another look all together.

 Personal Fashion Style, and what's the point of it

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Following up on last month's podcast, the tour of the V&A Fashion Gallery Miss Firbank's Pink Linen Cuff

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Please comment on next month's topic - Dress Forms
-in the Post a Comment section,  below:-)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Vintage Threads: Elsa Schiaparelli's Roses Get me Dreaming

Elsa Schiaparelli created this gorgeous design
for her autumn 1937 collection
I encountered this evening coat, designed by Elsa Schiaparelli, in the Victoria and Albert (V&A) fashion gallery, when I visited London in late May. If you come along on my audio tour of the exhibit, you'll hear a discussion I had with a Londoner about these lovely details, and the trompe l'œil urn design ... Is it an urn or is it two women facing in?   You may already recognize this famous double image created by artist Jean Cocteau designed to fake the viewer out. If you want to read more about the art movements that inspired Miss Schiaparelli's work, as well as more details about the garment, follow this link (http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O117953/evening-coat-schiaparelli-elsa/ )  to the V&A.

I've never really been that all taken by trompe l'oeil, but I do love roses! Don't you want a bevy of these beauties? I know I do, and of course the fact that I'm caught up working slowly and carefully through my denim skirt project (learning jeans-sewing skills without yet encountering the challenge of fitting jeans) gets me dreaming about switching horses in mid stream. Best to simply dream and plan these roses, and get the skirt finished, don't you think? 

You can check out other views
of this coat at
How will I use these blooms on that great come-and-do-it-day when I sit down with needle and a mass of silken ribbons? Well.... despite the beauty of this sumptuous evening garment, I know that I wouldn't get a lot of use out of a similar long flowing garment. It wouldn't be too practical  in a software Meetup, on a walk to the grocery store, a bike ride or trip to class. Sure, I might wear it to the ballet, opera or theatre but those aren't places I go everyday. In fact I have a pretty hooded black velvet coat I've been using for special occasions since college, and it still works great. That was a lifetime purchase (I found it in a low-key consignment store), so I won't be creating another special occasion garment with these.

I'm planning to create and use my roses in a rather different way. I wrote about those plans in a posting I wrote in Stitcher's Guild/Artisan Square, when I visited to ask a few how-to questions. 

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Pausing briefly, giving you a chance to sponsor this blog 

I highly recommend the lovely, and informative, book, Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution. It's a lovely read about what  Marie Antoinette actually did wear to masquerades (like our modern day Halloween), grand balls, or just toddling around Le Petit Trianon with the dear little daughter, she nicknamed Mousseline, a fun allusion to the fashions that Marie herself made popular at the time. 

Since I like to keep my iPad happy, I bought the Kindle version of Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution.

BTW, I recently purchased the Victoria and Albert collection-based book, Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century Fashion in Detail: The 17th and 18th Centuries, and can't stop leafing through to enjoy all the wonderful details, dear to a sewist's heart.

~ ~ ~  And now, back to our content ~ ~ ~

I think they (the roses) would look nifty as an embellishment on my denim jacket, placed in a similar way to the ones that Elsa designed.

I know there are a lot of ways to make fabric roses. I'm partial to spider-web roses - but I think these are made differently. They almost look like origami- and maybe some kind of folding technique would be best. Another woman touring the gallery wondered if maybe when they were originally made, did they perhaps stand up a little more 3D, and over time they've flattened out. If so, a little iron steam might do the trick, though the flattened origami-kind of look looks good too.

As you will see, if you visit the forum and read this posting (http://artisanssquare.com/sg/index.php/topic,21274.0.html ), I'm not an expert when it comes to ribbon embroidery. But I got a lot of pointers from the folks in the group. No, the life of a creator just wasn't the same before we had the power of the web, was it? (In fact we used to depend on family members, classes, schools, clubs, neighbors, groups and our local libraries. We weren't that all deprived.)

Some of the basics I acquired reading different people's answers. (Though you will get more ideas when you visit the forum). 

Folks Suggested...

* Either silk ribbon or a strip of heavy bias silk--folded, draped, and layered into a rose shape similar to ribbon embroidery. 

* Intense pink at the center of each rose may be a brush dipped into dye.

* The leaves and golden bits perhaps crewel embroidery.

This gorgeous vintage camisole has
roses similar to the embellishment on the Schiaparelli Evening Coat

I loved reading the different ideas and discussions about antique ribbon work. And what about the beautiful camisole photo that emerged from the question? Yes, another distracting garment!

With the resources and ideas collected in this discussion, I'm expecting it won't be too long before I have my own bouquet of ribbon roses. 

You may also enjoy....

Stitcher's Guild Artisans Square, Forum Posting - "How Would You Create Elsa Schiaparelli's Roses?" http://artisanssquare.com/sg/index.php/topic,21274.0.html

 The Enchanted by Sewing Audio Tour of the V&A http://enchantedbysewing.blogspot.com/2013/07/ench-by-sew-010-v-fashion-gallery-tour.html

 ~ ~ ~ 
* Thanks Sponsors! *
* Thanks so much, to readers who sponsor the work of this blog and the Enchanted by Sewing Podcast, by purchasing books, ebooks and other products through links in this blog.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Vintage Threads: Myrna Loy Made the Clothes

Some women identify with Mariyn Monroe, others with Judy Garland. My favorite vintage film star is Myrna Loy, and my favorite images of Miss Loy are as Nora Charles in The Thin Man .

Wouldn't this be your favorite go-to outfit if you were Mrs. Charles? No woman has every looked as pulled together as Nora in this plaid bias-cut skirt, feather-endowed beret and bow combination.  And the shapely black companion jacket pulls it all together. I'd hazard a guess that the plaid is a mixture  of black and red threads on a white background. 

A modern sewist could pull off  the creation of a very similar  ensemble (she might want to ditch the bow tie and feather, to avoid looking a bit too precious) but she could never really put it together like Nora Charles did.

Some folks say that clothes make the woman, but in the case of this great lady, Myrna Loy made the clothes.
~ ~ ~

 ~ ~ ~ 
* Thanks Sponsors! *
* Thanks so much, to readers who sponsor the work of this blog and the Enchanted by Sewing Podcast, by purchasing books, ebooks and other products through links in this blog.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Vintage Threads: Retro Cow Gal Denim is Thoroughly Up to Date

63 years after filming, these gals duds are still in style
With some fashions we have to wait for a return to retro. But when it comes to denim duds, their style vibe just keeps on working.

Irene Dunn's jean-jacket and Ann Doran's vest and shirt combination are as classic today as they were back in 1950 when Never a Dull Moment was filmed. The topstitching on Miss Dunn's jacket is particularly inspirational for modern sewists. You can see it up close when you click on the illustration.

Just add some pumped up pouty lips, loose flowing hair,
and a come-hither expression.
Then... as soon as our waistbands move back up from their currently
below the waist position - likely to happen any day-
these nicely fitted jeans, with belt and classic plaid shirt will put
this picture right back in style.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Jeans Sewing: Skirting the Issue , Resources

 M6361 is a good basic pattern for
many styles of skirt- No back yoke,
but I have enough sewing challenges working
with the heavy weight denim without a back yoke!

~ ~ ~

Below are a few resources I've been using while working on my denim jeans-style skirt, using the Palmer and Pletsch pattern, M6361

These will continue to be Useful Resources for me as I move into traditional jeans sewing as well

How to Sew Denim


Thread Type
http://www.burdastyle.com/discussions/someone-help-me/topics/denim-and-machine-tension-help-for-a-newbie--2 ... use a size 90 JEANS needle. And only use the topstitching thread in the needle: use standard polyester or cotton thread in the bobbin.


Depends on the weight of the denim, but if you're using jeans weight denim, a cotton thread in a heavier weight like size 40 is good. Or a topstitching thread for finishing the seams - the gold coloured thread that is stitched on the top of the seam.

I generally use a polyester core thread with a cotton wrapping. Coats and Clarkmakes one brand, check out a sewing store. A denim needle is about size 16 - 18, specially for sewing with heavy thread.

Coats Denim Thread is great to have on hand for all your denim sewing needs. Its great color will blend right into the project's fabric.125 yards on spool. Denim Blue

Fly Front Zippers
I always need to review how to sew fly-front zippers, and I found a marvelous fly-front zipper tutorial on Youtube. The hostess is Colleen, of Fashion Sewing TV.

Here's the link ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91gO3iE7YOU )

I used to use Trudy's Hot Patterns fly front zipper tutorial, but for some reason I can't get that to run now.

Attaching Rivets to Jeans

Brian Remlinger - Two Part tutorial
Part 1 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSaycOEOuyw

Part 2 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qAHmyluVTo

Snakes Alive ! Coming soon to a sewing podcast near you....

I just found something more challenging than a sewing deadline. I've got the August episode of the Enchanted by Sewing podcast all ready to fly (yup, right down to the show notes!), but I've maxed out on my storage limit with my service provider. So, I have to wait to publish until some time on August 26'th.

 ~ How about a sneak preview? ~

This month, the Enchanted by Sewing Podcast will return from a London vacation, to it's California Roots
~ ~ ~
Early on in the show Susan and Laurel talk about Susan's
creation of this wonderful snake skirt using patterns and
techniques from
The Colette Sewing Handbook,
Inspired Styles and Classic Techniques for the New Seamstress

A denim skirt from the same pattern has also been a mainstay garment in
Susan's wardrobe 

Snakes Alive ! Environmental Consultant by Day
Sewist by night 
~ ~ ~
No coyotes or mountain lions slipped through the parking lot (as we'd both hoped they might), but snakes alive, did we have a good time talking about sewing styles, patterns, techniques, work spaces, and fashion late into the night! 

I'm chomping at the bit, waiting to publish this show, just so you can listen in!
~ ~ ~

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Jeans Sewing: Skirting the Issue, When Zippers Fly (Progress)

Working with a mock-up of the waistband,
I found that I need to re-baste the side seams
It fit fine before I added that new dimension,
but now it's a whole new ballgame
The basting stitch has been my friend in
this project
I blogged recently about the denim jeans-style skirt ( using the Palmer and Pletsch pattern, M6361)  that I'm making in preparation for learning to sew jeans, but without the fit challenges I'll be working through when it comes to making those jeans. There's so much   for me to learn about working with 11 oz weight (heavy) denim, sewing techniques and jeans-style hardware that this project is plenty challenging. But it is, as I hoped, achievable.

Fly Front Zippers
I always need to review how to sew fly-front zippers, and I found a marvelous fly-front zipper tutorial on Youtube. The hostess is Colleen, of Fashion Sewing TV.

Here's the link ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91gO3iE7YOU )

I used to use Trudy's Hot Patterns fly front zipper tutorial, but for some reason I can't get that to run now.

 I used masking tape to get my topstitching lines in place for the topstitching around my fly-front, and a little chalk for the rounded part. I ended up doing a few tiny hand stitches as well. Would I do a few things differently next time? You betcha! But I'm relatively happy with it. I may still add another line of topstitching coming up from the center seam below. What do you think?

Absolutely Riveting

I've kinda, sorta arrived at the point where I'm ready to put the rivets on my denim skirt. And I've already found the samples I've tried, with three layers of scrap denim, to be plenty challenging! I'll let you know more when I get them figured out.

I've spent a lot of time dealing with fitting, to get this skirt to hang just right. The basting stitch is definitely my friend when it comes to fitting. Today, I basted  a mock-up waistband  (cut out of the teal blue fitting/muslin/poplin fabric you can see in the illustration here) and found that having a waistband greatly altered the fit and hang of the skirt. So, I was quite glad that I gave that a baste on sample fabric before committing. Also I was glad I had only basted the side seams and not yet done the (faux/mock) flat-felling on their seams.

I've decided to do a mock flat-felled seam for this project. I'm doing the traditional topstitching in golden orange thread typical of classic jeans, and it holds things tightly in place.  For my mock flat-fells, I'm just sewing right sides together with an interior seam, not the wrong-sides together then wrap one raw edge over another, that makes a true flat-fell. Somewhere I saw that right sides together is also a legitimate way to flat-fell, though I think whoever said that, did the regular wrap-around with the raw edges.  I'm just faux-serging the raw edges (I don't have a serger, but I use a decorative stitch intended to look and behave somewhat like serging) and topstitching right through the seam allowance. Frankly, it seems like it would be an awfully hard little roll otherwise, but clearly it's done that way on a lot of jeans. Once I get this done and wear it to a sewing class, I'm going to ask around about true flat-felling on this heavy-weight denim. Also I can ask in a sewing forum for jeans, but I'm glad I'm just going ahead and doing my best with this first project before I fuss around with anymore with flat-felling on this heavy, heavy fabric. When I work with a mid-weight denim, like some of the 7 oz I saw, I'll probably try out some more sample flat-felling.

I keep a postIt on top of my machine reminding me to check that I have 'heavy' stitch selected as well as the 'seam' setting and a special tension setting of  7. On the three layers points, I set my tension to 8. I spent quite a bit of time figuring out that these were, apparently the best settings for this particular project. I just had to do a lot of sample stitching through various numbers of layers of the 11 oz denim scrap to get my tension settings. Also I had to fool around for awhile with the heavy weight thread. At first I was running it in both the top and the bobbin, but that gave me a lot of back side of the project problems. I'm now using the heavy weight in the top and regular type indigo blue thread in the bobbin. Of course I have a jeans needle in my machine. Does that go without saying? I use a stitch length of 3 for the seams and 3.5 for the topstitching. Also backstitching to lock seams often jams up the lower thread. I've been hand tying threads to knot.

The side seams where the top-stitched front hip pockets meet, is turning out to be a very challenging area, with the three thick layers. Again, I'm just doing my best to get things to lay flat and hang right. It doesn't have to be perfection, it just needs to get done and be something I enjoy wearing. I will certainly be learning things to try for next time with this skirt.

I like the way it's turning out out, no matter what challenges I'm having, and  I'm looking forward to wearing it a lot. Sewing classes start next week and that is a real motivation to finish it. Also I'm really tired of the pants and shorts I've been wearing this summer. It's good to have pants I've made myself that make my happy, but a little variety is good too. I'm even getting tired of my No. 1 Lady's Detective Agency and Mille Fleur shirts, as I've been wearing them so much. It's good to have garments to turn to that fit well and look nice, but I'm looking forward to getting some more pretty shirts done. That lilac gingham with the Liberty accents (I blogged about that project in Kit1: Progress Shirt Sewing)  is another thing I hope to get done in time for sewing class startup, and if not I hope to finish it in the near future.

Being able to pep up my wardrobe using my own skills,  is something that keeps me enchanted by sewing!