Darn it!

Before I embark on my next dress, I thought I’d start off 2016 fixing a few items that are in bad shape that I wear all the time.

First up, these mittens!

IMG_0459Not so bad on the outside but wait!

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Ouch. No bueno in the thumb area.

So, why fix them?  Well, you’d think I could find rockin’ Thinsulate mittens here in NYC, but apparently it’s only THESE 22-year old gifted Canadian mittens that actually keep me toasty.  After buying many replacement pairs  that turned out to really not cut it, I realized I needed to make these bad boys last, especially given the intensely cold winters we’ve been having the past few years (much less the 12F we had today). That said, the thumb area in particular is deteriorating.  I have resewn them many times already but they just kept getting worse.  Having seen this tutorial about darning on Colette Blog a month or so ago, I thought it was time to give actual darning a shot.

I didn’t have a direct match of embroidery thread, so I went with a coordinating lavender Perle cotton I had on hand, got out my grandmother’s darning ‘thing’, shoved it in the thumb and started sewing.  They don’t look good – at all – darning is rather tricky it turns out, but the thumb areas feel solid again.  (If this doesn’t work, I’ll likely make a little patch for each thumb.)

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So there you go.  Ready (enough) for winter!

Have any of you darned anything?  I’m especially curious about woven fabrics.  I have a much beloved shirt with a tear in it – I’m wondering if I matched the thread if it would end up being invisible enough to wear again.  Thoughts?


THE DRESS – FIT Draping 1 Final Project

For our final project we were to drape a princess seam dress with a collar or interesting neckline and sleeve and then transfer the design to paper and then sew it up and present it at our last class (tonight!).   We were told a color story (white/black/grey/red) and then got to collectively choose a theme “Alice in Wonderland.”  My dress is the Knave of Hearts – a black and white princess line with a back cut out that suggests a heart.  Behold!


I love this neckline!  It was a bear to execute and line up the facings for it though.  I did multiple versions of the facings and they are two color to match when folded under – really can’t express what a pain in the ass they were.  Tons of clipping, pressing, more pressing, even more pressing was the only way to get them to lie flat.  Close ups!


The back has a hand-picked zipper and honestly I can’t imagine why you would ever do any other kind.  So easy.  I hate putting in zippers – I haven’t quite mastered the spacing around the tab area and even messed it up with the handpicked.  The difference with handpicked is it was super easy to fix and get it to a level I liked it.

The black fabric as you can see above was a lint magnet.  This is AFTER I went over it several times with a lint roller.  Oh well.  I love the white fabric.  It feels completely luscious to the touch but is a bit on the thick side and was only with the FIT ironing set up that I could get things to iron down at all.


The sleeve turned out to be a bit complex to pull off.  It is set in but only across the upper half of the shoulder and then moves off to the main garment.  I finished the open part with a bias facing.  The white one is a little squirrelly (dropped my ‘execution’ grade to an A – bah!) but you can see what’s going on a little better here.

I learned a ridiculous amount in this class.  I can’t believe I designed this dress and then I can’t believe I sewed it up.  I’ve never made anything this complex and learned a lot from ‘what not to do’ and ripping things out.  Still, I’m very pleased with how it turned out.

Here are a few bonus action shots – the drape and the pattern I traced off, and the like.

So much work. We spent a month of this and I spent probably – no kidding – 80 hours on this project. I really didn’t think I had it in me. Apparently I did! So fun.

The ‘Term Garment’ Sketches

My friend John pointed out I never posted all of my sketches.  So here they are.

There are two sets  of sketches.  The first set was deemed too ‘ready to wear’.  Here are those.  I actually LOVE these dresses and want to wear them.  Maybe I”ll make these for me.


She gave me a day to redo them (yikes, not a lot of time).  Also, she also made us (as a class) pick a theme and colors and we went with Alice in Wonderland with a color ‘story’ of Red/Black/White/Grey.   Here are my more thematic drawings.

This above is the one I’m making. It’s 1/3 white and the rest is black. I’m also going to add a double box pleat at the back as a kick pleat. Very cool.  Here are a few others.

Hope you enjoyed!


FIT Draping – Dress 5 a/k/a We Can’t All Be Winners

Poor little Dress 5.  So close and yet so far.

We proceeded with our training to a Princess Seam Dress.  I based my design on my Term Garment (next project) for which I’d submitted and gotten approved a flat sketch weeks ago. Here is a photo of the Term Garment sketch:


We were allowed to use our term garment as a basis for Dress 5, but Dress 5 also had to include a collar and flares/godets/pleats (at least one type) in our design.  My term garment design absolutely does not want a collar so I decided to do the whole ‘go big or go home’ and it was, indeed big.

IMG_0416 IMG_0417This is a Bias Curled collar (which one student labeled Cinnabon because that’s what it looks like before you cut it – a giant snail shape)  which… maybe works? but I personally HATE IT.  Since the neckline of the term garment is so cool and I’d draped it well, it killed me to hide it under this monstrosity.  I told friends that it reminded me of a scene early on in True Lies where Jamie Lee Curtis is shown in a very fuddy dress with a huge collar and ruffle at the bottom which she ends up ripping off and ending up in a great dress.  That’s me here.  Rip that Cinnabon collar off and you have a great neckline.  With the collar – meh, oh well.

The whole thing is compounded by my totally failed bell sleeve.  Points off for that one.  It was too late to fix – so ugly.

I kind of like the collar in the back but still meh.  Works better without a collar.


Overall, collar and sleeve aside, I had a horrible time fitting with this dress.  She actually didn’t reduce me for that which I was amazed b/c the fit is so dumpy and I couldn’t figure out where I went wrong with it. Should I have added additional side darts?  But my approved drawing didn’t HAVE darts and the professor is an Eagle Eye for stuff like that.  If something’s missing, she will immediately notice it.  And fitting for a close but breathable (enough ease) fit is still not something I can see easily  In any event, she said I merely needed to adjust the side seam, taking it in from waistline up to armpit and then letting it out from waistline down to hipline and I tried that and the fit was instantly almost perfect.  Amazing.

Shot of the back:



Yes, this design gets merely a participation award.  Also, I’ve fitted this thing so many times, it’s stretched out beyond usability, so I’m having to redrape the term garment from scratch starting tonight.  Still, doing something a second time takes about 1/3 of the time and it’ll be really nice to have a cleaner garment.  Wish me luck.


Don Carlos Quilt!

When my friend Ranta told me she was going to have a baby, I was very excited to make her a handmade baby quilt. One of the reasons I like making baby quilts, aside from (a) the size (not too tough) and (b) a personalized special gift, is it is really fun to pick out baby fabric–there is so much good stuff available these days. I located the perfect fabric for her in Riley Blake’s Little Flyer collection. I went with the Gray color way and ordered a fat quarter set of all 7. Coupling that with solids and a few other prints I already had on hand, over the summer I pieced together the quilt front and back while down the Shore (using the Airflyte). IMG_0210

Here’s the front. Ah summer!

Just when I was about to start quilting this quilt in August, my Brother decided to break. You all know that saga, but the upshot is that by the time I got my machine back from repair the second time, I had started taking draping class at FIT and had literally no time or energy to finish it. Last weekend, with Ranta two weeks overdue, I realized it was now or never if I were to deliver it to her when I first met the little guy. So I buckled down and did a sweet simple quilting and got it done. I’m really happy with how it turned out.



Back.  Leftovers plus this great big piece of dog fabric.  Ranta and Ross may have a cat but I know they have a soft spot for dogs. Might as well indoctrinate little Don Carlos to dogs early on.



Some close ups of the main Little Flyers squares:




Darling, right?  For the quilting, as you can see, I did a simple ¼” (ish) straight stitch along each seam in a coordinating cream/yellow. I used Kona ‘Royal’ for a non-bias binding (didn’t have enough to bias) and made a simple label for her baby whose name had not yet been selected by his parents and thus I went with the name all their friends had been calling him during gestation, “Don Carlos.” So he can remember his roots, of course.


In any event, Welcome Don Carlos! To Earth. He was finally born on 11/4/15 and I got to see him a few days later. He is cute as a button. Very fun to have him finally out here in the world with us.  Congrats to Ranta and Ross on your new family!