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Using Paper Dolls to Improve Sewing

Sometimes, my eyes are definitely bigger than my ambitions. I wanted to make my son a coat that would be nicer than what he wears for work and he pointed out a coat in this bookMen’s Coat Book that he wanted.

A pea coat. But I wanted to make it a bit more stylish than that (yes, Aunt Toby realizes that the pea coat is a men’s style icon but if I’m only going to get one shot at making my son a coat that he can wear for everything from a concert to a trip to a restaurant, then I want to make it a bit more fashion forward than a pea coat), so I looked through all my Burda pattern magazines and found a man’s jacket with what we’d refer to as ‘princess seams’ (if it’s a man’s garment, do we get to call them ‘prince’ seams?). My son is a bit more narrow in the shoulders than he is in the hips, so having extra seams would give me more fitting spots for him. So, being not the ‘forward thinking person’ that I should be, I just frankenpattern’ed the two of them together, making a new pattern. (more…)

Turning a Sweater into a Vee-Neck

I know a lot of people out there LOVE to go to thrift and consignment shops. Sometimes it’s for the bargain hunting and sometimes, it’s for vintage. But sometimes, what they’ve got is…just…not….perfect. And yes, Aunt Toby knows I covered this sort of thing before, but I think it bears repeating and re-demonstrating, which is when things are not perfect, (more…)

More Mommy Sewing

Once I got started looking for non-preggo patterns (I should trade mark that) that can work for the ‘in process’ moms, I got more and more ideas, which I thought I’d pass on. One of the advantages of using a regular pattern is that ‘post arrival’, you will still have clothing that fits, looks non-maternity and cute. Here are a few I found today – these are from vintage sites but they are not ancient history fashion-wise; you’ll be able to find ones in the current pattern catalogs that look pretty similar. (more…)

Mommy Sewing

The home sewing ‘market’ has changed a lot in the past 25 years: large numbers of independent pattern designers, some of whom specialize, smaller numbers of local fabric stores (which in the old days used to be staffed by people who actually sewed more than quilts), sewing may (or usually may not) be taught in Home Ec in junior and senior high schools nationally. A lot has gone ‘by the way’ – on the other hand, the Internet has spawned a huge Renaissance in personal sewing with sites and blogs and fabric stores. It’s enough to make you dizzy. (more…)

Oh Sheet

The sheets supposedly chosen as being the finest (whatever that means – ‘best quality? Most comfy? Hardest wearing? No clue) in the world are supposedly made by Thomas Lee. They are 500 threat count pima cotton. best sheets They cost $239 regular/ $179 on special. That’s one fitted, one flat, and two pillowcases.

Now, it’s not that Aunt Toby and the DH are willing to sleep on burlap sacks. A good closely woven cotton (ok, perhaps with a bit of poly in it) sheet set is a joy to sleep on (more…)

What a Waist! (waistband, that is)

There are places in sewing an article of clothing that I like to call “drop dead points”. These are places where if you make a mistake, you might as well pitch the entire deal as trying to fix the item becomes truly onerous. The first one is at the cutting out stage; if you don’t measure your important bits on the paper pattern, you could end up cutting out the wrong size. Even if it’s too large, it’s a pain in the neck to fix. One of my favs is putting on a waistband. There have been a number of times when I’ve made slacks or a skirt which ‘seemed’ to fit me perfectly and then after I put on the waistband, the item looked hideous. (more…)

Vintage Sewing Patterns – Thoughts

There are a lot of sewers out there who buy, collect and use vintage patterns (and no matter what the online retailers call them, I’m not sure you can consider Nolan Miller “Dynasty” sewing patterns from the 1980s to be exactly ‘vintage’ but that’s a discussion for another time). Everyone looks for something different. Some people are just looking for a particular style of dress from the 1950s or 1960s. Other people are more focused on sizing and pattern measurements (for the reason that people are just bigger and taller than they were 50-60 years ago, though for some people, it’s exactly the opposite problem). Other people have armed themselves with ‘how to redraft patterns’ skills so that they don’t care what size it is since they are going to redraft the pattern in their size in any case. (more…)

Twill, Baby, Twill

Recently, I read on another blog that I frequent the author’s question about what sort of fabric he’d gone and bought to make himself a pair of pants. Male Pattern Boldness

He thought it might be ‘some sort of twill’. Several of us recognized immediately that what he had was not twill but I thought that perhaps a little bit of information on what twill is…and ain’t..might be useful.

The picture at the top is a twill (more…)

Red Dress Redux

For those folks who requested an actual shot of the dress from this post because it disappeared into the laundry before I could do it, here you go. Apologies for the armpit shot, though it does give you an idea of what a honkin’ broad back I have (courtesy of genetics, weight lifting et al.).
Again – to recap:
Pattern: Vogue 8241
Fabric: Bamboo and lycra jersey for the dress, nylon mesh for the lining in the bodice
No zip – one button at the back of the neck with a thread loop
(oh, yeah..the shoes are Chinese Laundry from a couple of years ago, for those folks who want to know, and the belt is Chico’s)

Best Summer Party Dress: Vogue 8241

Aunt Toby doesn’t do a lot of pattern reviews, but when I find something that works on me (5’2″, shorter-than-normal arms, a bit thick in the waist), then I’ve got to promote it. Seriously. This is a great dress for anyone.

Very Easy/Tres Facile. Misses/Misses Petite Dress and Belt: Semi-fitted, pullover, lined dress with waistline casing in seam and blousing in the bodice, back neckline opening with button and loop closing. Knee and floor length. I made the floor length for a ‘black tie’ affair we had at the local university last night. Also comes with pattern for tie or covered buckle belt.
Fabrics: Crepe back satin and soft faille. Also for A: Lame and Sequin. (more…)

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