Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Stephanie's Blouse by Silhouettes

I've never worked with Silhouette patterns before, but we are trying them out at Victorian Cupboard to see how they work with our sewing audience. We find it so hard to get new garment sewers - everyone at Open Sew tends to work on handbags or home dec. I think one of the big impediments is fear of fitting issues and the second may or may not be level of difficulty. So we are trying the Silhouette patterns, which are by Peggy Sagers because they make use of b, c, and d cup sizing and promise an uncomplicated pattern suitable for all sewing levels. I've just opened up the pattern for Stephanie's Blouse which is a pretty straight forward shirt. We're offering it as a class at the end of July, so I really need to make it up this weekend so it can hang in the shop for a bit to lure some stitchers!

A couple of interesting things with the pattern. All sizes come in the same package, but are broken down with 4 smaller sizes and 4 larger sizes grouped separately. Also, it has princess lines and there is a separate front side piece for each cup size, which is nice. Additionally, when they give the measurements for your particular size, they give the finished blouse size, not your body size. They do this so you get to choose how much ease you want, and they suggest you measure out a blouse that fits you well and choose your size based on those measurements, which isn't a bad idea. There is no set in sleeve -- the sleeve is built into the front and back pieces. Interesting and easy to sew. In addition to the princess seams, the sleeve is a two piece sleeve, so there is room for adjustment for a larger upper arm if necessary.

One thing I'm not really happy with is the 3/8 inch seam allowance. I like french seams on a blouse. Since I am teaching this, I will do it as the pattern calls for and just serge the edges, but if I were doing it only for myself, I would add extra seam allowance while cutting the pattern pieces so I could do my french seams.

Since it is such a basic pattern, I'm going to jazz it up a bit and am using a nice stripe which I will mix up with some pieces cut on the vertical and some on the horizontal. I'd also like to try to introduce some specialty stitches -- possibly do the bottom of the sleeve as a separate piece and join with the spanish hemstitch foot.

Will post results as I go along. If anyone out there has made this pattern, feel free to chime in with your thoughts and suggestions.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Creativity in Technology

Last night when I couldn't sleep, I was frustrated that I haven't done any creating in a while. Work and everything I need to keep up with has been in the way, or at least I've made that my excuse. But, in fairness, I did see some beautiful things at convention that I want to share with you. The first is my favorite -- a boiled wool jacket embroidered on a machine and embellished with matching yarn. The software is from Viking and, while whoever created this is probably a master at machine embroidery, it does show what is possible with technology and a good mind.

The second piece is, I think, also beautiful. It is also Husqvarna Viking software and is cutwork done with cutwork needles, which cut away the fabric as they sew. Some lovely work can be done with this.

The third piece is crochet done with machine embroidery and cotton thread. Granted, it may not give a true crocheter the satisfaction that handwork does, but it is interesting.

Lastly, something I think would be beautiful in home dec -- also cutwork, but quite modern and with a great deal of texture.

So, there is something to be said for technology. It doesn't come easily to me and I know that if I want to use it, I need to persevere and get through the learning curve -- first comes science, then comes art. There is a place for everything. One just needs to decide how much of it, if anything, they want to incorporate into their craft. It is tedious for those of us who are used to a different way of sewing, but some one of a kind work can be done with it.

Monday, June 6, 2011


Almost midnight, and still awake. Ah, well.

I've been busy - not necessarily accomplishing anything...just busy. Carolyn and I spent a week at the Husqvarna Viking Convention in Reno. From Monday until Friday, I saw no daylight, other than glimpses from my room in the morning and again at the end of day. I can't imagine living like that; a cavernous hole of a hotel with slot machines, restaurants, bars, and no vistas. How sad. The immediate view from my room on all four sides was parking lots. But, if you looked up, you were rewarded with the majesty of the Sierras, topped in snow, and looking different every time you saw them as they moved in and out of mists and clouds. Truly beautiful in an otherwise rather desolate landscape.

It was my first sewing machine convention and my feelings are mixed. I'm not an embroiderer, though we saw some lavish designs that I could imagine incorporating into my work. I'm not a quilter, or necessarily a crafter. I sew. I like patterns. I like cloth. Shape and structure intrigue me. But, I'm becoming bogged down in presser feet, yarn couching and stabilizer. Is this progress, or did I get lost? I'm not sure. I just know I haven't created anything in several weeks and I'm feeling it.