Bay Area Sewists Meetup and Pattern Swap!

Many patterns

This year began with a bang:  In January I was promoted at work and I also decided to take up the reins as the new organizer for the Bay Area Sewists meetup group, which I mentioned in this earlier post. So life had been super busy, which is why I’ve hardly posted anything in 2014.

But I’m happy to report that on Saturday, February 22, the first official 2014 Bay Area Sewists meetup that I organized, finally happened in Berkeley. It took me a while to get going because I needed to find a free place to meet. One member suggested the San Francisco Public Library but I don’t live in San Francisco and you need to be a resident to use their meeting rooms. Then I discovered that the Berkeley Public Library has a great Community Meeting Room that Berkeley-based organizations can use for free. Our group qualifies because I’m in Berkeley.

I asked Kirsty of Tea and Rainbows if she could help me with this first meetup and she was happy to help. She checked out a Berkeley cafe and restaurant for potential meeting places and she arrived early to help set up. She also had her husband print out some labels for the various pattern categories (dresses, skirts, tops, menswear, etc.) And Meg of Made by Meg, Bay Area Sewists founder, also came early to help set up and stayed to get the room back in order. Thank you Kirsty and Meg!

The room has great tables on wheels that you can easily position around the room. I decided to put them in a square so people could wander around and look at all the patterns. As more and more members and patterns arrived, we added more tables. We began with four tables and ended up filling up eight tables. Dress patterns took up two tables!

Looking over patterns.cropped

More than 20 members came, and nearly everyone brought patterns – anywhere from three or four to more than 30! I handed out “tickets” (small history cards that I had at home) for each pattern. The idea was that people could take as many patterns as they brought.To be fair, everyone who brought a pattern got to pick one pattern, and then after everyone picked one, they got to pick a second one, and then we did a few more rounds and then everyone could just pick however many patterns they wanted.

I brought seven patterns and picked up these four at our swap:

Patterns from swap

I absolutely adore the hat patterns! I have another Patricia Underwood Vogue hat pattern that I got a few years ago. I really like her designs. I want to make that black hat. You can never have too many hats, right?

The vintage Simplicity pattern is from 1967. I always liked those dress/jacket outfits you see in those 1960s films. And now I can make my very own combo!

The Vogue dress pattern appealed to me because of the dropped waist and pleats. And I thought the Very Easy Very Vogue pattern could add some nice casual staples to my wardrobe. And all of these patterns were uncut.

At the end of the swap we held a drawing for Christine Haynes‘s lovely Emery Dress pattern, which was won by Nancy. Thank you, Christine for donating your pattern for our meetup!

If you make the dress, be sure to check out Christine’s Emery Dress Sewalong blog posts on making the dress. You’ll find tips on making adjustments and installing the invisible zipper, and plenty more.

More than 60 leftover patterns were donated to the nonprofit East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse in Oakland. Just for fun, I did a count and discovered that among this pile were 27 McCalls patterns, 12 Simplicity, 11 Vogue, 9 Butterick, 3 New Look, 2 Burda, and 10 miscellaneous (not Big Four).

Patterns donating

Oh, and as I counted the patterns, I found this XL, XXL pajama pattern – perfect for my husband who needs some new pajama bottoms.

Pajama pattern

Karen of Blinky Sews brought her husband to our meetup and he took some group photos at the end. Unfortunately, mine came out blurry so I won’t post them here. But Meg wrote a post last week about the meetup and included a nice group photo, which he also took. So be sure to check it out!

Fabric Inventory

Print fabric swatches

The timing on my sewing machine is off (I’ll write more about that unhappy event in another post) so this past weekend I decided to do some fabric inventory of my stash. I decided that slide sleeves would be a nice way to organize swatches and brief descriptions of the fabric. I’m going with the low-tech approach rather than spreadsheets or software or digital photo albums.

So last month I stopped by the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse – they have all kinds of stuff there – to see if they’d have some slide sleeves for three-ring binders – and they did! The slots for the slides at 2 inches x 2 inches. I got about a package of 17 slide sleeves for $1 (20 slots per sheet). And these were heavyweight 10 ml plastic. Perfect!

knit fabric swatches

I don’t think I have a huge amount of fabric but I’m starting to lose track of what I’ve got. Plus my husband was rather loudly complaining about my fabric: WHY do you have so much fabric? It’s everywhere!” Well, not quite every where, just in the bedroom, the bedroom closet, on and around the dining room table, and in the tiny back room. No fabric in the kitchen, bathroom or living room. Heheh.

So I’m trying to be more organized about what I’ve got and note when I’ve pre-washed something by using yellow highlighter. I cut small swatches of fabric to go in the slide sleeve opening and I cut 3 x 5 inch index cards into thirds and then trimmed an inch off the bottom to create small squares to go in the sleeve next to the fabric. I used the extra bit of index card left over to push the fabric swatch into the slide sleeve and help keep it in place. You can see the extra bit of white index card behind the denim and red twill fabric below.

Solid fabric swatches - csews.com

I spent half the weekend measuring fabric and putting the following information on the little cards:

  • type of fabric (knits, cotton, linen, fleece, denim, or interfacing)
  • where I bought it
  • what year I got it
  • yardage
  • width

As I mentioned above, yellow highlighter indicates that the fabric or interfacing has been pre-washed. Why should you pre-wash your fabric? Check out my 2013 post: Pre-washing Fabric.

Then I organized the fabric according to type and then whether it was a print or a solid.

Here’s the interfacing I’ve inventoried so far – (Yes, I already soaked all of these in warm water!):

Fusible Interfacing swatches - csews.com

I went through about 19 fabrics in my stash and then the four fusible interfacings above. Whew! Now I just need to get a binder to pop to store the sheets.

How do you keep track of your fabric? Software? Spreadsheets? Your smartphone? Piles on a shelf? Bins in your basement? Your photographic memory? I’d love to know how other people are managing their stashes.

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My Vintage Weekend

Last weekend was my vintage weekend. On Saturday I stopped by the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse, which was having a sale of vintage clothes, shoes, and other accessories. This place  occasionally gets vintage goods from its estate services.  The next day I went to the Alameda Flea Market a.k.a. the Alameda Point Antiques Faire (its official name), where hundreds of vendors convene on the first Sunday of the month, selling a huge array of vintage (and not so vintage), upcycled, and funky items, everything from furniture and toys to clothes and jewelry. I’ll write about that fun experience tomorrow.

The Depot is a nonprofit organization loaded with donated art and craft supplies, vintage goods, fabric, furniture, and more, which it sells. Its mission is “to divert waste materials from landfills by collecting and redistributing discarded goods as low-cost supplies for art, education, and social services.”

I looked at the clothes at the Depot but they were either too small or the styles weren’t what I was interested in. But I was thrilled to find some vintage patterns for $1 each. I spent many minutes looking through two small boxes of patterns from the 1950s and 1960s.

Here’s what I bought. All the patterns included the original instructions but I haven’t checked yet to see if any pattern pieces are missing. They patterns are for bust size 30, 32 or 34, smaller than my 36 but I’m hoping it won’t be too difficult to grade up. I’ve only graded up one size when I made a dress from a vintage Vogue pattern.

I might start with the blouse below (Vogue 9961). I’ve been assured by Melizza (@mujerboricua) via Twitter, that it’s “totally doable.” She had a vintage pattern that she graded up from a size 40 bust to 44. She told me that she used the book Fit for Real People as a guide and she kindly offered to lend it to me if I’m ever in the Peninsula.

This Vogue 7034  dress pattern is size 14, which back then, as you can see, meant a 32 bust and a 35 hip. No vanity sizing back then!

1950 Vogue dress pattern
Vogue 7034 dress pattern from 1950

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vogue 1955 coat pattern
Vogue 1544 coat pattern from 1955 (apologies for blurry image!). One of the recommended fabrics is “wool hopsacking,” a loosely woven wool.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vogue 1960 blouse pattern
Vogue 9961 blouse pattern from 1960. For this pattern, a size 12 meant a 32 bust, 25 waist, and a 34 hip. This top has a waistband.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vogue 5380 dresses - no copyright date listed
Vogue 5380 dresses – no copyright date listed

 

 

Vogue 6419 dress (no date but looks very '60s)
Vogue 6419 dress (no date but looks very ’60s)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vogue 7282 dress pattern (no copyright date, 1960s)
This Vogue 7282 dress pattern says “new sizing” on the front. Here a size 12 was 34 bust, 25 1/2 waist and 36 hip. No copyright date but looks ’60s 

 

Vogue dress pattern 5968, 1960s (no date)
Vogue dress pattern 5968. I like the buttons on this dress.

 

I love vintage patterns of the 1950s and ’60s. I’ve also bought some Vogue reissued dress patterns from the 1950s. Have you made any clothes from vintage patterns? Did you have to grade the pattern? How did it turn out?

 

Choosing the Right Interfacing

V2984I’ve been thinking a lot about interfacing lately because I’ve been trying to figure out if I want to use what this Vogue pattern (V2984, now out of print) recommends (60″ nylon fusible knit interfacing) for this wool crepe jacket — or use something else. I’m not sure what that “something else” will be so I thought I’d take a moment and write about what I’ve learned about choosing the right interfacing.

The most important things to keep in mind is:

  • the hand of your fabric,
  • the weight of your interfacing,
  • and your pattern.

For example, if you’ve got lightweight fabric, such as cotton voile, and your pattern calls for interfacing for the collar, you don’t want to use a heavy-weight interfacing or you’ll have a really stiff and uncomfortable collar. Plus you’d change the hand of your fabric from something that’s light and flowing to something thick and stiff.

What does interfacing do? It provides additional support for your fabric; it’s most commonly used in areas that get a bit more wear and tear, such as a neck facing or a waistband.

Earlier this week I tweeted (as @csewsalot): “Do you use fusible interfacing? If so what are your faves? Any that you avoid?”

Erin Erickson (@yorkiemischief), who blogs at Dog Under My Desk, replied: “It depends on what you’re using it for. For quilting cotton in bags I use SF-101 (Pellon’s woven fusible) + sew-ins”

She followed that up with a couple more tweets: “I’m sure there are good applications for non-woven fusibles, maybe clothes, but definitely not on quilting cotton.”

and then: “This is what happens when you fuse non-wovens to quilting cotton”

interfacing2
(photo courtesy of Erin Erickson of Dog Under My Desk)

As you can see, selecting the right interfacing is really important. (Thanks to Erin for sending a bigger photo!)

I bought the above Vogue pattern in 2009 and I remember reading the back of the envelope and thinking — uh, what’s nylon fusible knit interfacing? I went to Britex Fabrics and looked at some but they didn’t have any that was 60″ wide. I wasn’t ready to make the jacket and hadn’t bought my fashion fabric yet so I put it away.

Not long after that, I was reading Anna Maria Horner‘s book Seams to Mewhich has many lovely projects and patterns, and she mentioned that she didn’t like interfacing. In fact, she recommended using flannel or some other fabric for some of the projects in her book. This made me rethink interfacing.

I went through a brief anti-interfacing moment. Here’s what I made during that time.

Knit top - no interfacing
The result of not using interfacing in the yoke of this knit top

I decided not to use any interfacing on this rayon knit top, which as you can see, was a mistake. Knit is very drapey and the yoke really needs additional support. I had made this top once before and used a medium-weight fusible interfacing that was too stiff so the yoke didn’t look quite right. When I made it again, I went in the opposite direction and so I got this saggy front. Though I can wear the top I need to pair it with a turtleneck, which gives it something to stick to, and I have to remember to sit up straight so it lays right. So I don’t wear it very much even though I really like the fabric.

White dress - flannel interfacing
Using flannel as interfacing on this dress

On this vintage dress pattern (a Vogue reissue of a 1953 pattern), I used white flannel as my interfacing. But I think it was a little too thick. The white cotton fabric was of a lighter weight and had a different hand than the flannel. However, I got the five yards of fashion fabric for about $10 at the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse in Oakland and  I was experimenting. It was sort of my muslin but I’ve worn the dress a couple times a year with a vintage black straw hat so I guess it worked out. It was a good learning experience!

Here’s the pattern:

Vogue 1953 Dress Pattern

And here’s my last example. On this vintage dress, I didn’t use any interfacing. The red cotton fabric has a crisp hand to it and it didn’t need any additional support.

Red dress - no interfacing
The bodice, front detail and reverse side (finished with seam tape)

I’ll be writing more about fusible interfacing but if you have any interfacing nightmares or successes, let me know. Or if you have any suggestions for interfacing alternatives to nylon knit fusible (organza perhaps) for wool crepe jacket, please comment below!

 

Sewing a Patricia Underwood Vogue Hat

Patricia Underwood design

The first hat I made was for cold winters in upstate New York where I grew up. Using some fake sheepskin fabric, I made a hat with ear flaps. I think I was inspired by some Russian hats I’d seen. I didn’t have a pattern. I just cut and sewed. I’m not sure what happened to that hat, which I made it when I was in high school (oh so long ago).

The second hat I ever made was after I graduated from college. I was inspired by a picture in a magazine. You can read about that experience in this post, “The Red Velvet Hat.”

I took a long hiatus from making hats – until I began sewing again and I wanted to tackle making a hat from a pattern. I flipped through many pattern books at Joann Fabric and Craft before deciding on V8440, which has some great hats by Patricia Underwood.

To make the Patricia Underwood hat, I used an upholstery sample I found for a couple of dollars at the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse. I wanted to use a fabric that I liked and that would be good practice for making the hat with more expensive fabric. (See my post “Fabric at the East Bay Depot.”)

The sample wasn’t very big, less than the yardage of the pattern. But I thought I could make it work by cutting it on the bias, which would make this rather heavy fabric a little less stiff.

Sewing the Hat

Back detail

The pattern is simple – four pie-shaped pieces of fabric with four darts. You use the same pattern pieces for the main fabric and the lining. The trickiest part for me was the topstitching because there’s a lot of it and you have to go slow if you want your stitches to be equidistant and even. This pattern has topstitching along both sides of the seams of each “pie” piece and five parallel lines of topstitching along the brim (see photos below for details). I had to be really patient when I did that part.

After I finished the top stitching, I tried on the hat and realized much to my dismay that the hat was too big! I was aghast. I had just done all that beautiful topstitching! How could this be?

Well, I didn’t take into account that I was using a heavy fabric and when you make a hat, every 1/8 of an inch really counts. When I cut the fabric, I likely made each pattern piece slightly larger than it should have been. Plus the fabric had a tendency to fray so when I sewed it, I should have compensated for the fray and stitched a slightly wider seam and trimmed the seam after I was done.

After setting it aside for a day, I decided I couldn’t let all that sewing go to waste so I decided I to add two additional darts in the back, taking in about a half-inch each. I held my breath, took my scissors and sliced through the finished edge (five rows of topstitching!). Then I sewed two 3/8-inch darts and put the hat on again. It worked! Now the hat could fit on my head instead of falling over my eyebrows. (Click on the images below for larger views.)

5 (!) rows of topstitching
Topstitching detail
One of the extra darts

 

 

Fabric at the East Bay Depot

The East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse in Oakland, California, sells all sorts of things, including art supplies, fabric, notions, and sewing patterns. All items are donated to this cool nonprofit organization whose goal is to “divert waste materials from landfills” and to increase awareness about the benefits of reusing materials. Teachers get a discount for things they buy for their classes (paint, paper, etc.).

Toward the back is the section where you’ll find all sorts of fabric in varying lengths that people have donated. I’ve seen wool, cotton, brocade, knits, velvet, and vinyl rolled up in the cubby holes here. And sometimes rolls of fabric are donated. The price per yard? $3/yard for fabric on the bolt, $2/yard for fabric in bundles, regardless of the type of fabric. I’ve also spotted leather scraps and belt buckles here at one time or another.

Fabric section at the East Bay Depot

Sometimes the fabric selection isn’t so great but you never know when something new will turn up, such as a collection of home dec fabric donated by a furniture upholsterer.

And if you have too many fabric scraps and remnants, it’s an excellent place to donate some of your stash. Someone will put them to good use.

The Depot sells notions and patterns as well. They aren’t particularly well organized but if you’re willing to spend the time to hunt through the bins, you could be rewarded with something unique. I’ve found vintage patterns, zippers of all kinds, a vintage fabric belt kit, and buttons. Patterns are just 25 cents. Loose buttons are sold by weight – about $8/pound, which isn’t very much when you’re only getting a handful.

Happy hunting!

Notions at the East Bay Depot

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buttons are sold by weight
Patterns for sale at the Depo

The Trench

The Trench

This coat is the first thing I made from Christine Haynes‘s book, Chic & Simple Sewing. It has only has five pattern pieces: jacket front, jacket back, sleeve, pocket, and bias tape. And the last two items are optional as you can make the coat without the pockets and you can buy bias tape rather than making your own. It’s pretty easy to make and looks great.

I had a few yards of this rich dark grey wool fabric that I got at the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse, a cool nonprofit organization in Oakland which sells all kinds of things that people donate (art supplies, fabric, furniture, beads, yarn, baskets, small appliances, you name it). I only paid $2/yard for this fabric! I also found a yard of lightweight herringbone tweed wool fabric at the Depot. So when I was looking at my fabric stash, I thought those two fabrics would make a good combination – the dark grey for the coat and the herringbone for contrasting bias tape. (For more info, check out this post “Fabric at the East Bay Depot” by yours truly.)

This was the first time I made my own bias tape. Before I bought Christine’s book, I had been reading about bias tape in Anna Maria Horner‘s beautiful book Seams to Me. Her instructions and diagram on making bias tape were very clear and easy to follow. (For an online tutorial, see Coletterie’s “How to make Bias Tape”.) I hadn’t thought about making my own bias tape before and Anna Marie’s book used bias tape tohttps://csews.com/clothes/the-trench such lovely effect, I was hooked. I went out and bought a couple different sizes of bias tape makers. I really wanted to make something with my own bias tape. And then I saw this coat in Christine’s book and realized this would be the perfect thing.

Like the title of Christine’s book, this coat is simple to sew. After you cut out the pieces, you sew each front piece to a sleeve piece and then the back edge of the sleeve to the back piece. It has raglan sleeves as you can see from this photo below.

The Trench has raglan sleeves.

It only became slightly tricky when I wasn’t quite sure which side was the “right” side because the fabric I was using was the same on both sides.

Once I sewed the main coat pieces, it was on to the bias tape along the front opening of the coat and then around the collar. At this point in my sewing life, I had not used things like Steam-a-Seam or other fusible webs, which make it easier to get nice looking seams. So I blithely sewed the bias tape to the front edge and soon realized that the lightweight herringbone I was using for my bias tape didn’t look so good. The seam didn’t quite lay flat and was a little puckered in some areas (darn it). My solution? Rick rack to the rescue! I bought some black rick rack that I sewed right over the seam, which made a nice transition between the herringbone bias tape and the dark grey of the main fabric.

Then I had another problem. The coat flopped open instead of staying upright like the one in the book. It was the fault of the fabric I choose plus the bias tape and rick rack added a little more weight that made it “flop.” So I decided that I needed a covered button to keep it together at the top. I put the button on one side and made a loop out of black corded elastic for the other. Click on the photos below to see larger versions of the rick rack and button. (Christine chose a medium-weight cotton fabric for her coat. I’ll be making another version of the coat using a heavier weight purple cotton fabric and striped bias tape.)

Bias tape, rick rack detail
Covered button detail

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last step was to hem the bottom and sew on the patch pockets, which are really useful. I love big pockets. The Trench has pockets large enough to stow your cell phone, a paperback book, wallet, and keys. I wear this coat a lot in the Bay Area. It’s perfect for cool weather here. But when it gets a little chillier, your arms will get cold because the sleeves are 3/4 length. So heave some arm warmers ready or wear a sweater underneath.

If you make this coat, you’ll be sure to get compliments on it. Thanks for a great pattern, Christine!