Sunday, March 20, 2016

A Vest for Travel


Travel Vest

I've been inspired by Margy!

Over the years Margy has made several travel vests, using crushed taffeta and lined with stretch taffeta. Now that I've started sewing for Paris, I decided it was time to follow her lead.

The colors for my travel wardrobe are teal, cobalt, and black, so I searched for teal crinkle taffeta and teal stretch taffeta. I found both on ebay, though the crinkled taffeta came from Big Z Fabrics in Los Angeles.

The pattern I chose is another Margy inspiration. She has made three vests from Vogue 1453, a Sandra Betzina pattern. I quite liked the elasticated neckline on this pattern, but I was a bit dubious about the huge elasticated pockets. I decided to forge ahead and make them as designed.

I started with a size 18 and made the following modifications:

  • A FBA resulting in side seam darts.
  • Removal of fullness at the hip. The pockets almost didn't fit after this alteration!
  • Omitted the back pleat/zipper.
  • Omitted the back yoke seam. There was no shaping in this seam, and I didn't want an unnecessary seam in the pleated taffeta, so I omitted it.
  • The armhole is high and small. This makes sense for a sleeved garment, but seemed strange for a vest, so I cut a larger armhole.
  • The pattern is unlined, but I lined it.
  • Since the point of this is to use it for travel, I added interior pockets. (Another reason that a lining was necessary.) Margy puts lots of pockets into her travel vests, but I don't like pockets over my bust (not even in the lining), so I have two large external pockets and two large internal pockets. The internal pockets are zippered.
Omitting the back pleat and the back yoke

Years ago I bought these two zippers at JoAnn's. I decided to use them on the inside pockets. I love that they are different.

One of the zippered pockets, and the beautiful Italian buttons from Britex.

Marking a larger armhole

While I like this vest—I particularly like the color and how it's nicely finished on the inside—I am not sure it's the most flattering. I think that the gathered pockets create a strong horizontal line that makes me look a bit boxy. I will probably sew this pattern again, using different pockets. The collar is great!

Maybe you noticed that I've started collecting some teal accessories. I really like these "Crave" boots, by Taos Footwear, but I didn't like that the teal color comes with brown laces. I am much happier now that I've swapped them out for black laces!

I like the black laces better!

Vogue 1453

Online Shopping - Simply Bella

I've never taken a "no more buying RTW" vow because, well, I sometimes like to buy RTW! Most every day I'm either all, or mostly, clad in my self made clothing, but I also love to buy garments and accessories that I could not, or would not, make myself. I often buy from artists and I feel good about supporting their work.

In my neighborhood in San Francisco is a little shop that's been open for several years, Simply Bella. I have been shopping here since it's opened. As it's only a few blocks from my home, I often pop in to check out the inventory and to chat with the owner. Bella knows that I sew and sometimes I'm studying her garments for inspiration, and sometimes I'm opening my wallet. Particularly when it comes to sweaters and shoes. :)

Bella has just launched a new website and I think it's a very good one. In the photo above, I'm wearing a sweater that I bought from her yesterday. Unfortunately, the sweater is not on her website— it's selling so well that she probably won't be able to list it before it's sold out.

Her small brick-and-mortar store also sells shoes but, unfortunately, those aren't on the site.

Just in case you have to wonder, I am not being paid for this. I like Bella and I like her shop. If nothing else, it's a great site for inspiration!

Simply Bella

Issey Miyake Exhibit and Book

I heard about the Issey Miyake exhibit in Tokyo over the holidays.

Oooooooooooh, how I wish I could go!

If you are going to be in Tokyo between March 16th and June 13th, get yourself over to the National Art Center for a real treat!

My vacation days are already "spent" for this year, not to mention my vacation budget, but I ran to Amazon and pre-ordered the exhibit catalog, then I promptly forgot about it.

It arrived this week and what a monster catalog it is! This hefty tome, written in both English and Japanese, contains hundreds of pictures. They aren't high quality, glossy images, however. They are matte and a bit low resolution. I'm still happy with the book, because it is a wonderful resource, but be aware of the image quality. This page shows a number of images from the book.

And if you are lucky enough to go to the exhibit, I'd love to hear about it! I'd love it even more if you posted some photos somewhere!

Dither Dither

A dither storm

Dither dither dither. I can't be the only sewer who can be immobilized by decision paralysis. I try to figure out my next project before I finish my current project. That way, I can get some, or all, of the dithering out of the way and can dive right into creating.

I'm happy to say that I have started a new project. It's a very easy one, though. It won't take me long at all. I have a sewing retreat coming up in a couple of weeks, so I need to get serious and make some decisions!

On another topic...

Do you like games? Do you like a challenge?!

When I was in Whistler, I learned about a web-based game that many folks who work at Whistler were playing. It's called GeoGuessr. Using the Street View mode of Google Maps, it drops you into some part of the world. You move around and study your surroundings. Then, based on the vegetation, signs, vehicles, you guess what part of the world it is by placing a location pin on the map. Sort of like pinning a tale on a donkey. It's a pretty addictive game!

You're welcome! Or I'm sorry... ;)

I'm also sharing this on Patti's Visible Monday.

I hope you have a great week!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Speaker at Cañada College and More!


Speaker at Cañada College!

Last summer I was approached about two separate speaking engagements. The first was for Haute Couture Société. The other was for Cañada College's Fashion Department.

I was very flattered and agreed to both.

The event is to be held at Cañada College in Redwood City, on Saturday, April 16th, at 7:30pm. Space is limited so, if you would like to come, please RSVP to

I believe there will be some light refreshments. And it's always fun to meet other sewers! (I promise, it will be fun!)

I have to tell you, this will be my last speaking engagement for the foreseeable future. It takes so much time to prep for these things.

I hope to see you there!

Oh, I almost forgot! The folks at Cañada College asked me to do an interview. Check it out!

A Wadder

After returning from a recent getaway, I wanted to sew something quick.

Of course, sometimes "quick" really isn't quick.

I had a novelty knit that I acquired when my friend Sue was de-stashing last year. I wanted to make it up and, after much thought, I decided to use a pattern I had purchased some time ago, the Paprika sweater/dress by Jasper Patterns.

I bought this pattern back when Dilliander made a couple of nice versions.

I loved the collar!

I had even printed the pattern and instructions out.

But I still had to tape together the 44-page print out. (Maybe one of these days I'll try going to the copy shop...)

I traced off a size 9. (The pattern goes from size 1 to 10.) The 9 is drafted for a 46.5" bust with a finished dimension of 47.5". The 9 is drafted for a 39" waist with a finished dimension of 46".

The resulting top was far too big! My only alteration was to shave off fullness at the hip. The reported finished width was off, as the finished waist on mine was 48", as you can see in the following pic, and the bust was even larger (the bust is not laid out completely flat):

It seemed particularly loose through the back.

I could have salvaged the top. There are no side seams, but there are front and back princess seams, which allow fine tuning the fit, but I decided against it. I didn't like how the collar lay, at least in this knit.

If I do make this again, I'll trace off a smaller size and will be more careful when choosing the fabric.

Tracing Paper - A Brilliant Idea

Over two years ago Gayle Ortiz gave me a wonderful tip. A tip that I had passed on to others but hadn't tried myself until recently!

I'm not sure if its her original idea, but it's a good one!

She went to the party store and bought a wedding aisle runner. It comes on a roll. It's similar to non-woven interfacing or Swedish tracing paper. It's nice and wide at 36".

And it's very cheap!

A roll costs about $20 and comes with 100 feet, or over 33 yards. Thatsalotta tracings!

For comparison, Swedish tracing paper is 29" wide and about 10 yards for $16, at least that's today's price on Amazon.

I haven't used Swedish tracing paper in years, so I can't comment on precisely how they compare, but the aisle runner works very well! I used it to trace off the Paprika Jasper and it was very easy to see through. It's much sturdier than tissue paper. You can sew through it—it's designed to handle a bride's stilettos, after all. ;)

I bought mine on Amazon for $22, but I see it's currently listed at $25, so the price is a bit volatile.

It arrived in a box that was 5 feet long though, inside, it was in a 3-foot long box that was labeled as coming from Oriental Trading. I didn't check the price on the Oriental Trading website, but that might be a cheaper way to obtain it. Or head to your local party store!

Whistler, B.C.

Taken on the flight from Oakland to Seattle, I think this is Mt Shasta

I mentioned that I was missing Puyallup Sew Expo this year because my boss scheduled a team building trip to Whistler at the same time.

No, I'm not complaining.

A bus ride from Seattle to Whistler. Here we are passing through Squamish

The snow portion of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics were held at Whistler, which is about one hour from Vancouver, by car

I had first heard of Whistler back in the early '90s. I was thrilled to have a chance to go, even though I don't ski!

Luckily there was more snow this year than last year, though it's still not up to normal levels. The weather was glorious while we were there.

I went dog sledding with several colleagues.

It was fun! My sled mate is Kathy, friend and colleague. Hal is our driver.


I went inner tubing at Coca Cola Tube Park. I have always wanted to try inner tubing!

The tubing runs. It was pretty deserted on a Thursday afternoon!

The view as we rode up the conveyor belt to the top of the tubing run.

I rode the glass bottomed, Peak-to-Peak Gondola between Whistler Peak and Blackcomb Peak.

Several times.

View from Whistler Peak

Glass bottomed gondola

View from Blackcomb Peak
It was fun, but I did miss Puyallup. I hope to go next year!

Thrummed Mittens

I wanted to share something Kathy made for our trip to Whistler.

She's a knitter and she decided to make some thrummed mittens. I had heard of thrummed mittens but was curious to see how hers would knit up and how they would work, in practice. I had never seen real live thrummed mittens, but then there's not much need for such heavy duty hand coverings in the San Francisco Bay Area.

If you aren't familiar with this term, thrumming is a technique where tiny tufts of wool roving are knitted into a garment.

The fluffy part of the roving is on the inside and, with wear, it felts and creates an even warmer layer.

Pretty clever, but the inside looks freakishly weird.

The inside of the mittens

She used a pattern from Knitting New Mittens and Gloves: Warm and Adorn Your Hands in 28 Innovative Ways.

Her mittens were so cute and kept her hands cozy. As you can see when we went dog sledding:

Satin Moon Fabrics

I'm sorry to report that Satin Moon Fabrics, on Clement Street in San Francisco, is closing at the end of 2016. This was a special store, run by two truly unique sisters. I always enjoyed visiting.

In 2010, the San Francisco Chronicle published a piece on the Miyamoto sisters.

They've been threatening to retire for years, and it's finally going to happen.

I definitely plan to squeeze in another visit or three before the end of the year!


I am half way finished with another garment—this one is slated for my trip to Paris.

If all goes well.

I leave you with a cartoon that came across my Facebook page. It amused me.

I tried to locate the name of the artist to link to her site and give her credit, but was unable to figure it out. If you know, please leave a comment!

Have a great week!