B5495 – Empire Waist Top

I can’t believe it’s been 6 months since I last posted.  I’ve been busy taking yet more sewing at FIT – made some velour pants and a blazer/women’s suit jacket in Sewing II but, while they both came out well, nothing really to write home about.  Now, I’m in the midst of the first course of their Haute Couture certificate: Haute Couture Sewing Techniques (will post about that soon).

IOW, I’ve been sewing a lot of stuff NOT for me.  I decided to right that wrong by finishing a Butterick top I started 4 years ago when I didn’t really know much about sewing at all.  I came across it looking for some materials for my current class.  It was 80% done when I stopped work on it – presumably b/c I got distracted by a different, shinier project.  I really need to stop doing that.

In any event, it came out great.. with many caveats.



  • It’s done. I’m very bad about finishing stuff so this is good all on its own.
  • I really like the fabric still.
  • Despite having gained weight since I started it, it fits well enough – thankfully.
  • It’s the same length – front and back.  Having large breasts, often RTW shirts ride short in front.  Since I made this myself, I set up the hem to be even all the way around using my lovely assistant, Duct Tape Alex, to get it right.
  • It’s long enough.  I am longer-torsoed.  That plus my breasts, often tops are too short overall for me.  I made this one to my own hip length.  Even in lower rise pants, my belly will not show. Sweet.


  • This is/was my first knit project and I really didn’t know what I was doing and if you look closely, you can tell.  Oh well, got to start somewhere, right?
  • I had no idea about pattern matching back in 2012.  Had I started this now, it would have attempted to fussily match it to a couture level.  But I made the entire front before I stopped sewing it and there is some weird pattern matching on it (or lack thereof).  Oh well.  This weekend, I made the back so I was able to match the CB pieces so they form a straight line but that was the best I could do without recutting them.  I can live with this but next time, they will match!
  • There is some weird sewing going on on this thing and to be honest, some of it was done as recently as Saturday afternoon.  You can’t see it so I left it but no points for me on sewing.  Bad Alex!

Back – can you see the CB join/pattern match?  Sort of, but not bad.


What I learned on this project.  A lot:

  • How to basically use my serger.
  • Sort of learned how much to stretch while sewing on regular machine with a knit.  Will have to continue to work on this.
  • That certain ‘haute couture’ techniques, while fussy, are a total save.  I thread traced the hem line which was helpful since it sometimes wasn’t level with the patterned fabric.  I also basted the side seams before sewing which allowed me to take in some extra fabric around the armhole making it much less blousey, AND, adjust overall the seam allowance in that area to get a better fit.  Third, I did some blind stitching and you really can’t see it – all those hours of practicing tiny stitching in Haute Couture class are paying off!
  • My Brother NX450 does not love sewing knits.  Could be me (probably) but I’m hopeful my next top will be more serger heavy as I still want to get to know it better.

Blind stitching at neckline.  Hard to find – go me.


That’s it for now.  Next up will be another knit top, this time from Bootstrap, but I have a lot of FIT homework to finish first.  More posting, hopefully, sooner than 6 months 🙂




FIT – Fashion Art I Final Chanel Project

Our final project was to design a mini-collection for Chanel consisting of daytime dress, evening dress, suit (of course!) and a coat.  An inspiration image for this wasn’t required but I used one anyway since it pretty much showed what I wanted – sleek, elegant, classic.


Fabrics – On the left, for the suit-dress: two coordinating cotton/wool blend tweeds; 2nd column  – coat fabrics: faux-mohair (faux-hair?) coat weight, brown silk-velvet (pocket edging) and a photo of the fur I was using (deep brown mink); 3rd column – eve dress: brown silk-velvet, brown poly charmeuse for the pleats and a sample of beaded strap; far-right – suit fabrics: pink boucle-ish tweed (poly/wool) and pink silk for the blouse, pocket trim and ribbon tie.


Suit left; suit dress right.  Her suggestion ‘for next time’ was to do more outlining on the suit components so they’d stand out, same comment for pleat on front of suit skirt which you really can practically not see.  For the suit dress, more horizontal lines so it looks more tweed.  For the tweed on right, I used markers, colored pencil and water colors to get that effect.  Tough but I got close enough to suggest the fabric and that’s all you need.


The above are my favorites.  The teacher coached me a TON on the right (the garment, not the rest) which really made it stand out.  Had a little trouble with the 3/4 view face (which she never saw prior to this) but that was not really something we spent much time on so I think she gave me a bit of a pass on it.  Media used on the dress – marker, colored pencil and brown eye shadow for shading.


Flats of all but the suit blouse (not required).  I think these came out really well.  Here you can see the views not shown in the art work.

A few close ups:


I could probably make this mohair more ‘furry’ next time. IMG_0886IMG_0885

I love these shoes/boots.  They’re a bit out of typical season being white (collection was Fall) but I loved them so much, in they went.

Now for faces.  I see so much improvement from where I started.  Let’s remind ourselves:

Sample of first face project:


A month in I made this:


And this project:

IMG_0884IMG_0883IMG_0890IMG_0889Still need to work on my 3/4 faces (top blonde) but the blonde just above this text really came out great.  Not sure she could be prettier – just what I wanted with this deep brown outfit.

Next up – Sewing II which starts in a week.  We are making a suit jacket/blazer and pants. Thanks for reading along as I learn all this stuff.

FIT – Fashion Art & Design I

Since late January, my ‘making’ hours have been mostly focused on learning to draw and design on paper.  This semester I am taking Fashion Art & Design I at FIT in order to better articulate my ideas by hand and to learn how to create a portfolio should I decide to apply to the school (an outside chance but you never know!).  My art background is limited to 2 2-hour drawing sessions in the ’90s and elementary school so I’m pretty much starting from scratch.  Still, two months in and I’ve learned a lot.

We have drawn many fashion poses (called ‘croquis’) and after merely 2 weeks were already rendering designs (using colored pencils, markers and paints to express fabrics)! The whole experience has been super intimidating (especially as there are folks who majored in art in college in this class) but the professor has encouraged us to just work on improving and not comparing – always a good reminder.  Here is where I started out – some early figures and faces.

One month in, faces slowly getting better.  This exercise was about showing we understood how to draw a collar and put clothing on the form with the correct (cylindrical perspective).


Last Thursday we turned in our first presentation.  We were to make a mini-collection of resortwear at a low price point – think, Target, JC Penney, etc.  The collection needed a unified color ‘story’ and we were also to base it on inspiration images we collected initially.


I found it hard to put together (only three designs?!) but I ultimately got it done.  First I drew many small drawings of ideas and then narrowed it down to three.  I drew many swatches of my print and eyelet fabric.  My fabrics were tough to me but were much easier than some others’ (prints!).  The Prof. was really great at showing us how to render our different fabrics, using various techniques/tricks of the trade.  For instance, so my floral was not oversaturated, the marker is on the back of the paper which is thin enough to bleed through and then I redrew the flower outlines on the outside.  My eyelet is using marker as well as several colored and graphite pencils.  We were required only to do front view flats but despite doing many for Draping, they took forever.  That said, she took one look at them and said they look great.  A plus!

The fabrics are – upper left a white swim suit spandex and then a made up swim suit fabric using the same white as the base and the print from that cotton on top.  To the right is a cotton eyelet; lower left is a blue silk knit and to the right a khaki cotton twill.

Overall, my designs are simple but I stuck to the assignment.  That said, many others complete blew off the price point (which bugged me off b/c the prof didn’t seem to mind that people were turning in $200 dresses for Target – really?) but those students’ stuff looked much more intricate and cooler.  I am hopeful I don’t get marked down for simplicity when I was keeping the market in mind (if I do, I will actually address this with her).  Some other students did jaw-droppingly gorgeous work.  Like wow!  I am definitely in the lower quality work-product student group but for two months, I am really pleased with my improvement (other than swimsuit girl’s tanorexia – think I will skip that marker next time LOL).

Some close ups:




Next up:  A Chanel collection (our final project) – daytime dress, evening dress, suit (of course!) and outdoor coat.  Chanel opens the door to luxury details and fabrics.  Fun!

ETA:  I got an A!

Fabric Giveaway

I’ve been doing some spring cleaning over the past few months (winter) and have some larger cuts of fabric I won’t be needing.  Any NYers want some free fabric?  Here’s what I have:

1.5 plus yds (60″W) Blue and White cotton, medium weight (summer skirt weight but not wimpy), no stretch or very little:

4 yds (60″W) Purple-blue/Green/White cotton/poly medium weight (for a summer dress or lined summer suit), no stretch.  Has a really nice weave, see close up.  Overall colors are more deep than photos show.  And the green is more of a true kelly than shown here.

1 yd plus (62″W)  Donna Karan medium-heavy weight camel color khaki cotton fabric. Has a really really nice feel.  The fabric is so wide you could easily make a shorter skirt with this.  And despite these photos it is darker – more like camel color.

1 yd (60″W) heavy weight hunter green cotton ‘duck’ fabric.  My stepmom had bought this to make an LL Bean type gardening tool bag similar to this.  It’s very nice material for this project if you are making something like that.

IMG_0532Get in touch if you want something and we’ll figure out to meet up.  Happy sewing, all!

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!

IMG_0462 IMG_0460

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.)

IMG_0463 IMG_0464

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.