Monday, November 26, 2012

Purple Cheetahs

Whaddaya mean?  You have never seen a purple cheetah?  Really?  Well, let me enlighten you!  This is another fabric from the Hiatchi sweater jersey collection from and I made another twinset.  Same patterns as before (Linda McPhee and Kwik Sew 3752)

I love these colors!  I think that this twinset looks better than the brown one (as a twinset).

Casual 'over the shoulder' pose - doesn't every photoshoot have one of these!!

Again with my plain black 'slinky' top.

More clothes for my wardrobe that will be great to wear to work.  I am one month in to my RTW fast, and I really have not missed buying clothes at all.

Again, it is interesting to see how I look in a photo and as a result I will be making changes to the cardigan (adding shaping via a centre back seam) and making shorter skirts.  But for now, I have a few outfits and my 'Twotoast Private Collection' is beginning to take hold in my closet!!

I think that I have pretty much satiated my 'quick and dirty' sewing, although I do have three more Hiatchi lengths to sew up, and I am looking forward to utilizing the knowledge gained from my recent alterations classes.  Watch this space!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Does Size Matter?

There are a number of answers to that question.  As I am clearly plus sized - my answer is comfortably 'no', however, when it comes to sewing.  It does.  In a big way.  Let me explain . . . . .

This weekend I had the pleasure to attend a 'Fit for Real People' sewing class held by the lovely Janice in her home.  There were just two other ladies present so there was lots of one-on-one assistance.


The course is based upon the Pati Palmer and Marta Alto book of the same name.  Oh boy - what an eye opener!  Following a (very) interesting exercise where we drew round each others' bodies so we could 'see' what we looked like and compare ourselves to' standard' proportions we tried on upper body slopers.  Now this is where the fun started.  I have always purchased patterns based upon my bust measurement - it is the largest measurement and I can always take in the other areas.  Right?  Well, no - actually not.  Turns out that this is where I have been going wrong for so many years.  Turns out that I should have been using patterns based on my upper bust measurement - in other words, using a pattern THREE sizes smaller.  And guess what . . . . all the fitting problems that I have had in the past magically disappeared.

I have avoided fitted sleeves for as long as I can remember - not because I cannot set them in, but because I always looked like a line backer.  I recently bought a number of '80's sewing patterns because of their dropped shoulders - they would fit me, no problem. 

The same with the backs of tops and jackets - they were waaaay too big.  In fact, this can be seen in the back view of the cardigans that I have recently made, but I just passed this off as being 'casual'.  Janice showed me that I needed a FBA (Full Bust Adjustment) - I had heard of these but never really understood why they were required or when.  Oh, and one of the most irritating issues was that tops would slide down my back, raising the front neckline.  I was constantly pulling the front of my tops down.

And this is what my pattern pieces look like:


I should mention here that my dressmaker's dummy is somewhat smaller than the 'current me' - I think that I will have to trade her in for one more my size!  Anyway, there are a few adjustments made that will now have to be added to most of the patterns that I use in the future - but now I know what those adjustments will be:

  • 3" FBA
  • Drop the bust point 1"
  • 1/2" and 3/4"  back adjustment.
There are a couple of other minor adjustments that will make a 'perfect' fit of the sloper, and we will be refining them next week.  It was very interesting and helpful, commenting on the fit issues of my classmates and 'seeing' where the problem areas are and how to handle them.  I am just so pumped up with enthusiasm following this class, and look forward to the next one where we will also be fitting skirts.  It will mean a total change in my approach to sewing - as well as opening a whole new world of patterns as I now fit into mainstream patterns, and despite being plus-sized, the patterns don't have to be!! 

I plan to make some really great TNT patterns just like my heroine Carolyn - I would love to make some dresses and she truly is an inspiration.

The funny thing is (and you know, it is not really funny - it is quite obvious really) but my RTW clothes also have the same fitting issues.  Fancy that! 

The lovely Janice will be holding more classes (I think that I will just pay a retainer and attend them all!) and wants to set up a 'drop in' for us so we can discuss ongoing projects, get advice etc.  I really can't recommend this type of class enough.  Reading through the 'Fit' book this week it is clear that Janice has been following a set training schedule that is similar to a really good franchise such as using specific pins/tape/paper (all for very good reasons), following a step-by-step measuring process that gives accurate results etc., - and she is on first name terms with Pati Palmer - I'm smitten!

So you see - size does matter!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Ikat Winter Collection - Orange Ikat Update

I am loving the Hiatchi sweater jersey from  It is very reasonable priced (even after the Canada mailing uplift) and it sews up easily - I am not too sure how it will wear, but it appears to wash well.  Hopefully it won't pill . . . . .

For the next two garments in the Winter 6PAC contest on Stitchers Guild, I made a two piece dress using my trusty Kwik Sew 3752 and Simplicity 4221.  You wouldn't believe that I had over 500 sewing patterns in my collection would you!!!

So, without further ado - this is how they look:

I have found that the neckline on this top is rather large, so on this top and the brown one I moved the neckline in about 1" and shortened the neckband.  It looks and feels much better!

And you know what, ! am really pleased with them!  I think that the skirt length suits with this drapey fabric - more so than the black corduroy one here.  The fabric is very cheery and the jersey is soooo soft against the skin.  I lined the skirt with black bemberg lining that has no stretch (with black lace hemline trim) - I am hoping that will help prevent the 'bagging' that you can get from jersey skirts and the fabric does have 5% lycra as well - but time will tell! 

The skirt also looks good with my plain black slinky top.

And finally - thank-you hubby for taking the photos!!

I almost forgot to mention - if you were wondering about the headless shots, well those are the ones where my face was out of focus/there were too many double chins/too much background/etc, etc :o)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Ikat Winter Collection - Brown Twinset Update

Well, I have been a very busy seamstress and have made a number of lovely items for my entry into the Stitcher's Guild Winter 6PAC, or Ikat Winter Collection as I prefer to call it!

I have made 5 pieces so far - a black corduroy skirt, a brown, animal print, jersey twinset and an orange Ikat 2-piece dress.    Here are the first three garments - are you sitting comfortably?  If so, here is the fashion show (hey, I watch America's Next Top Model, I know how to pose . . . . )

The black skirt is made out of a fine wale corduroy (from my collection and it is ages old)) is is from Simplicity 4221, a 4-gore skirt   I lined it with black bemberg lining (from and trimmed the hem with black lace.  

Check out the round shoulders.  My father would be appalled at my posture - sorry Dad!

For the twinset I used Hiatchi sweater jersey from  The cardigan is a Linda McPhee pattern that has just three pattern pieces - the sleeves, the front bands and and 'all in one piece' that makes up the fronts and back.  The top is my adjusted Kwik Sew 3752.  I am not sure if I like this as a twinset - it seems very busy.  

Now this I think, looks much better.  I like the patterned top and the plain skirt.  I am a little bothered by the gathers in the front of the skirt - too big, or the wrong fabric?

  I think the back of the skirt fits great - no gathers.  Maybe a tad long though?

Now this is interesting.  This is another Kwik Sew 3752 that I made out of black slinky fabric (from Linda McPhee) and I think that the black 'column' with the patterned cardigan looks much better.  So, perhaps I will institute a new rule - only one animal print garment per outfit?!

So, what did I learn from this little photo shoot?  Well, it appears that my favourite skirts are rather too long.  This black one is about 35" long, but I think that I prefer length of my red and grey flirty skirts.  I have enough of the black corduroy to make a shorter straight skirt, so I will try that out with these tops and see if it is a better match.  And I think a smaller size is in order to get rid of the gathers in the front.

Secondly, I really do need to put a seam in the back of my cardigan's.  Other posters are quite correct when they say that the expanse of fabric is not very flattering.  I also need to make an adjustment for my upper back - something that I learned from my 'Fit for Real People' sewing class I attended this weekend (more of that in another post later this week).

And finally - when did I go so grey?  Like really?  I have a couple of years before hitting 50 and I think that from the back I look much older.  Sigh . . . .   My hairdresser says that it is a lovely color (I think she is just being polite), but all I can see is grey.  As I am not going to dye it (can you imagine the time that it would take and as soon as the roots start growing back I would need to dye it again) as that would eat into my sewing time - so I am just going to embrace it.  But what style to have?  I usually have very short, almost spiky hair but had thought about a Louise Brooks short bob . . .

But I wonder if would just look like a metal helmet on me.  Hmmmm.  I need to think on this.  

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Flirty Skirts!

I love skirts, I really do - long calf length ones, short flirty ones, pretty summer cotton ones, formal suit ones - yep, I love skirts.

So I made a couple more.  Even, if I am on the RTW fast, I still need to dress.  Right?

The first is a simple straight skirt made out of a poly/lycra suiting in a gorgeous crimson red.  I used Simplicity 7740 (OOP):

The skirt is a simple pull on design with a centre split at the back.  It is lined with a lovely red bemberg fabric and finished off with red lace.  I sewed the lining to the sides of the split and added the 'eye' of a 'hook and eye' to the top of the split to prevent it ripping.

This is my 'Frocks and Frou Frou' pose - I have shamelessly copied it from the lovely Lilli.  I know the skirt 'bags' a bit at the front, but I am really not the size or age to wear skin tight skirts anymore - and this is soooo comfy to wear!

I also copied Ms. Carolyn and stitched two rows of top stitching down each side of the centre split - it finished it off rather nicely - the color is a bit off in this photo, sorry about that!

My second skirt is view 'B' of Kwik Sew 3256.  I made a summer skirt using this pattern and I loved how the frill makes the skirt all 'flirty', so I made it again!

This time I used a grey poly/lycra suiting with a diagonal weave that you cannot really see here.  It is lovely and soft and drapes beautifully

I have made a Haider Ackerman inspired 'Jones' coat with the rest of this fabric - post to follow!)

The only thing of note with this skirt is the lining.  The body of the skirt is lined with some stretchy, knitted, lingerie lining, and the frill is a lovely, soft, embossed fabric so when I sit down and the lining pokes out, it looks very cute!  Oh, and I hand stitched the hem - it just didn't look right when it was machine sewn.

I find it very interesting to study the photographs to see what suits and what does not.  I would say that these skirts (on me) are 'short', but looking at the photos they are actually a rather nice length!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Signatures . . . .

If Christian Louboutin's signature is red soles on his shoes . . . . .

then mine is pink labels . . . .

and that is all I have to say on the matter.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

and The Ugly

I was really rather disappointed with my version of the Slimming Jacket by Linda MacPhee.  I bought the slinky fabric, and sewed it up really quick.  I love the design - big rectangles that made up the most lovely of drapes at the front. 
The instructions are very basic, and I could not find anything that addressed the centre seam at the back of the neck.  As both sides would be seen due to the draped collar - which side should I sew the seam?  I chose to overlock/serge the seam on the 'outside' so that when the collar is folded back it cannot be seen.  But in reality, the collar does not fold back as well as I would like.

I sewed the seam down flat, but that only caused more problems - the knit fabric stretched and now it looks all bumpy and horrid.  What a pain,  I will have to do some unpicking and re-do the seam, maybe even sew down part of the collar around the neck, but in true Tim Gunn style - I will 'make it work'!  Hubby really liked this jacket, so that is a project for this week - until my lovely sweater knits arrive from!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Winter 6PAC

Stitchers Guild is running a Winter 6PAC sew-a-long - and I'm in!  I guess that first of all I ought to mention that my Singer Collection is on hold - but only because I am going to take some fitting classes over the last two weekends in November, and I am not wanting to sew any fitted garments until then . . . . so in the meantime I need to make some clothes to fill the holes, no - not holes but CRATERS in my wardrobe (don't tell hubby, he would never believe you!)

Soooooo, I have a few TNT patterns (4 gored shirt, pullover top, cardigan) and a 6PAC would be perfect.  But wait - what is a 6PAC you may ask?  Well, it started some time ago and stood for 6 Piece Autumn Collection.  The name PAC took on a life of its own, and now PAC stands for Pieces of Amazing Clothing.  Cute huh?!  The guidelines are:

You are sewing 6 garments that work together and fit your life and your climate.  You are picking pieces that can become workhorses for you, in your life. Obviously if you are a Massage Therapist in a seaside resort your selections will be very different from a NYC Corporate Attorney. Just choose garments, patterns and fabrics that are worth your time and talent- things that will last, if you want them to. That way you really get a big reward from this type of sewing.

You might not need a coat. If it's Summer coming on in your area, sew for Summer. Depending on how extensive your wearable wardrobe is, you might go for another bottom piece and drop one of the layering pieces. If 6 is too much, make an outfit, say pants, top, and a nice vest or jacket. If time allows, make a 2nd 2 piece outfit and see if you can't just get them to work together.

Fabulous!  I am starting with a good old black skirt - I was half dressed this morning and found that I did not have a longish black skirt (plain, not heathered/striped/anything else, just solid black) to wear.  Sacre bleu - how can this be?  As I have said before, I would love to be in the situation where on a Sunday night I prep a full week of clothes with accessories and footwear - but if I don't have a black skirt, things will be rather tricky!  I found some soft narrow-wale black corduroy in my stash and lined with black Bemberg lining, this will be garment 1.

I am also terribly short on tops, so I will be using this fabric to make a twinset comprising of a pullover top and cardigan - garments 2 and 3:

This is a lovely soft sweater knit (as are the next two fabrics) from

I am then going to make a two piece dress with this cheery Ikat print for garments 4 and 5:

Fortunately I have some solid orange in my stash that matches the the Ikat print, and I think I will make a funky (for me) jacket - three quarter sleeves, scooped neck, maybe Simplicity 2977, 2662 or New Look 6788.  I will have some time to think about that!

I will start cutting out tomorrow, and should have the black skirt, twinset and 2-piece dress completed this weekend - it is a long weekend and I have also booked off Tuesday.  Wow - I will have some choices for work next week!

 These items will be called the Ikat Winter Collection and I am excited to get going . . . . .

I will also be working on my re-construction grey cords-to-a-skirt - I have unpicked the seams, I just need to start cutting!

And finally . . . . . I have made up this (realistic!!) purple cheetah fabric (more sweater knit from into a pullover top and cardigan twinset.  They will work well with my Ikat Winter black skirt, and I hope to get some photos this weekend.  With the nights drawing in, it is dark when I get home and there is no light for pics.

Well, that's me sorted for this weekend - and I hear that it is going to snow, so I am alright (Jack!!)


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Excella Patterns

In February next year hubby and I are moving house (downsizing, but I get a bigger sewing room - how sweet is that?!) and we have therefore been (very slowly) decluttering.  That has included going through some boxes that have remained 'unpacked' from when we moved into this house a few years ago.

Of course this has been great fun, and includes the discovery of some fabulous pink striped fabric shot through with silver - very silky - what to make?! 

I also came across three 1920's pattern catalogues.  I had bought them at least 8 years ago (probably from Ebay) and forgotten all about them.  These photos are from Excella and their January 1929 catalogue:

It appears that Excella were in business from 1922-1936 and were purchased by Simplicity.

The 1920's are by far and away my favourite time fashion wise.  Can you imagine how exciting it must have been for the ladies, having been confined to tight, painful corsets, practically covered from head to toe, to suddenly be able to wear clothes that are practical, sexy and comfortable.  Heady days!

I am interested to see that the patterns cover a large size range, mostly 36"-46" bust.  The description under the patterns states how much fabric is required for the 36" size - I wonder if that was a popular/common size?  It also talks about fabric being 39" wide and I wonder when we moved to 36", 44"/45" and 58"/60" wide fabric?  I may have to look into that.

Fabric suggestions are also given, and although that is something that we are used to today, it is fun to see what fabrics were available - the dresses can be made in silks, crepe satin, rayon moire (apologies for the lack of accents) and tulle.  It is also interesting to see how little fabric is required for a lot of these designs.  One of the dresses (E2853) only used 3 1/4yds even though it has a shaped flounce that is lower calf length at the back and a long tie at the back.


I have two more catalogues to share, and I am sure that I have some other color ones tucked away somewhere - hopefully I will 're-discover' them over the next few months!