books to improve your sewing

While I'm plugging away at making Emmaline's Easter dress (early, I know, but I'm trying hard to be ready by the 8 am deadline on Friday for the Project Run and Play's special occasion wear challenge), I thought I'd share my two main resources for pattern making and sewing.

First, is the book I've been using since I started to sew: the Vogue Sewing Book.
The Vogue Sewing Book of Fitting, adjustments, and Alterations

Mine is definitely vintage, with a copyright of 1972, but the information is dynamite. It was my mom's back in the day, which is fitting, because my work horse of a sewing machine (a 700 Bernina)was hers, too. Ever wonder what a french seam is, or how to do one correctly? Wonder how to easily put in a zipper? It's all in here baby. There's a 2006 edition of the Vogue Sewing book, with a lovely cover.

Second, is my pattern making book, Patternmaking for Fashion Design by Helen Joseph-Armstrong. 

Patternmaking for Fashion Design (Cloth) (4th Edition)

(I have the 4th edition; there's also a 5th edition now available.) 

This I bought back in the day when I thought I'd make my own wedding dress. My fashion design friend told me to get it and make a sloper to start. I never did finish my sloper pattern, nor make my wedding dress, but this book has proven invaluable. It's a pretty penny, but man, if you are serious about making your own patterns, it's a must have.  Even the wildly talented Gertie from Gertie's Guide to Better Sewing uses it.

Aside from my serger's guide book, these are the two books that I use most often when sewing.

Stash Project #2

For my second stash project, I made another Junebug dress inspired frock.

This time, I took an old house dress/coat I bought at a thrift store in college and cut it up. I completely forgot to snap a before picture, but just imagine a 60s house dress, knee length, sleeveless, with giant buttons down the front. Ah, the days when I loved all things crazy and vintage.  The cotton, albeit retina burning in print, is a really nice heavy cotton that I thought would make an excellent play dress for Miss Emmaline.

My changes to the Junebug dress for this dress are quite different from the Birthday dress. Since I already had the bodice and skirt drafted up, this frock was super easy to change up and crank out.

I added an invisible zipper to the back (my first - I'll never go back to lapped zippers again!), put a button and loop fastener to the top of the zipper, sewed shut the button placket in the front bodice, added two of the giant buttons to the front, and left the deep pockets on the front. Emmaline loves that the dress is "all my favorite colors!" and that she's allowed to play in the mud while wearing it.

Problem is, now that I've made it a play dress, I rather like the fabric pattern on a pint sized person... It may kill me when it gets a stain that won't budge. Ah well, she's got to have at least one dress she can wear while tromping through weeds.

Just wait, I have yet another stash project to share! I'm not quite done with it (it needs button holes and buttons), but it's another failed attempt to enter into the Project Run and Play sew at home competition.

Stash Project #1

My first stash project was making a birthday dress for Emmaline.*  Her birthday was a few weeks ago, but I just got around to taking pictures of it today.  I put a 2 in hem in the dress originally, only to find out that Miss Emma has grown in the last few months and 2 in was too short for her. So I had to rip out the old hem and put in a new one. Hence the lag.

Are you following Project Run and Play? You should. As the name implies, it's Project Runway for kids. They have a "sew along at home" section to the competition, which has the same theme each week as the main competition.  I keep meaning to participate in it, but my designs are never ready by Friday at 8am. The first week's challenge was to design a dress inspired by the Junebug dress designed by Jess. As fate would have it, I've known Jess since we were young. Her mom cut my hair growing up and we attended the same church. Pretty cool, huh? She's a cool cat, for sure.

After reading through the  Junebug  tutorial, I grabbed a lovely red cotton I've had for a long time and set to work. I used a Simplicity pattern to draft up the bodice size, sleeves and skirt, as I have yet to make a sloper for Miss Emmaline. Then I went to work redrafting those pieces to fit with the Junebug bodice. I wanted to have a longer sleeve, since it's winter (albeit a very mild one), and a knife pleated skirt, not a gathered one. 

And because I didn't have enough large buttons, I opted to do ten small ones. I spent forever making those button holes! I'm swearing off button holes for a long while.  For the sleeve, instead of a casing with 1/4" elastic, I used elastic thread and slightly ruched the sleeves. While Emmaline might complain that the sleeves don't go to her wrists, I think the 3/4 puffy sleeve is adorable.

I think the whole dress turned out pretty adorable, too. Yay for sticking to my goal and using stash fabric!

Stay tuned, I have two more dresses to post that I made using stash fabric, one of which is another take on the Junebug dress!

*Don't worry if you are confused, my daughter's name really isn't Emmaline. For the sake of anonymity, I've changed it to a name I love, but will never be able to use, because the Hubs vetoed it.

For starters

Hello! Welcome to my new blog. I think I should get an award for the most deleted blogs.... I can't seem to stick with the same blog address for very long. So, this time, I'm going with a generic www and changing the name when I get bored with it.

I'm also going back to blogger, because while Wordpress has awesome functionality, I couldn't edit the HTML without paying $10 a year. I'm too cheap for that, so back to blogger I go.

I figured it was fitting to make the switch now, as I embark on two rather crazy goals for the year:

1) to use only fabric from my stash.
2) make all of Emmaline's clothes.

I'm not sure what this year will hold for me, but I'm excited to see where only buying notions will lead me. I've already made two dresses for Miss Emmaline's from my stash!

As my bestie suggested, I'm sharing pics of my stash with you, no editing or cleaning prior (and all taken with my iPad). Don't judge me on the state of things in my sewing room. Just keeping it real here, folks, just keeping it real.