Behind The Seams

Ramblings of a sewing fanatic

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Location: Fashion Hell, Florida, United States

Monday, October 30, 2006

A Sew-Along it is!

Several people have mentioned that it would be fun to take the weekly designer-inspiration piece and have a sew-along! I love that idea! I am going to host the sew-along over at The Sewing Divas. I'll be using the Hot Patterns Plain & Simple Tee as the base for several designer tops. You can use it or another tried-and-true basic tee pattern.

It will take me a few days to get the materials together so hang in there!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Aren't you glad you sew? Blumarine

I absolutely love snoop shopping so I thought it might be fun to start a weekly feature showcasing an expensive designer garment that would be easy for us to duplicate (oops, is that a run-on sentence?). Sound like fun?

Today's garment is a rayon/lycra knit from Blumarine with a retail price of $1,070 (all photos are from While I would never spend that much on a tee (let's face it, that's what it is), it's important to note the little details that make it special. Details which you and I can easily duplicate in our own sewing rooms for a small fraction of the retail price (so that we can spend the $1000 or so we save on more fabric).

Granted, it would be impossible to find the same print but easy enough to find something that would give the same luxurious feel. The neckline of this top is trimmed in leather - how impractical is that? Since the binding is so narrow, it would be easy to get the same look with a faux leather. I, personally, would choose Ultraleather because it has good stretch across the grain making it perfect for this application. Believe me, no one will know it isn't the real thing. Additionally, since I cannot get away without a bra, I'd narrow the neckline just a bit to hide my straps.

The neckline is trimmed with two large and eight small crystals at the center front. Yay! An excuse to buy sparkly things!

The sleeve opening is also trimmed out in leather and features button-and-loop closures trimmed with crystals. I have a nice little stash of expensive crystal buttons purchased during my employment at Maggi's For Fine Fabrics in Boca Raton (known as THE place to buy buttons in the tri-county area). Maggi's may have closed but I have a good portion of the inventory right here! If they are washable, this might be a good project to use them on since my formalwear days are practically non-existent.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Well, finally, there's a name for my affliction: Age Activated Attention
Deficit Disorder. Yes, I have it. Last week, I had lunch with my friend Vivian and was telling her that I have to write everything down and make lots of lists - otherwise, the day goes by without my accomplishing anything I'd set out to do. This morning she sent me an email explaining the proper name for my disease: AAADD.

The email came at just the right moment too. But first, a little background: I received a $100 gift card for Home Depot this week. I'm a chronic DIYer and spend an awful lot of time and money there. I've been wanting to upgrade my wonderful 14.4V Ryobi drill with their new 18V One+ drill. The 18V One+ battery fits a myriad of tools: circular saws, jig saws, routers, reciprocating saws and more. I've been lusting after it for about a month but figured I'd just put it on my Christmas list. Well, since I'm famous for losing/misplacing gift cards I figured I'd better rush right over to Home Depot this morning and spend that sucker!

I immediately went to the tool department and grabbed the drill/flashlight combo pack (which comes in a nifty suitcase) and, seeing the fabulous right-angle drill, grab that as well. Hey, I'm in a mood to splurge! I pick up a few other things on my list, wait in line, pay, get in my car and drive home. When I get home I realize that I failed to use my gift card. Then I received the email. Apparently, pinning notes to my shirt is the next step.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

It's here!

Some of you may remember me saying that I'd purchased a 2nd coverstitch machine - a flatbed - some months ago. Well, my friend (and mechanic extraordinaire) has been busy (as have I) so I didn't pester him about the machine. I stopped by the shop last Wednesday to drop off some fabric and was excited that the machine was being delivered that afternoon. He finished building the stand yesterday and DH brought her home this morning. He wants to know what in the world is inside this machine that makes it so unbelievably heavy (the stand actually has steel reinforcement rods). I guess weight of the metal parts and the casting add up. Still, it's hard to believe that this weighs so much more than my walking-foot machine. I told him to be thankful we have a single-story house!

Since I'll use the flatbed much more than the binder, I upgraded to the 8800 series. Not that I'll ever need it but it will sew 6000 stitches per minute. Yikes!

And now that's it, I'm officially out of space. I'm sure my husband is thankful for that!

She's all set up and ready to go and I just realized I forgot to put the rubber feet on the stand. :-O Fiddle dee dee, I'll think about that tomorrow. I don't dare ask DH to lift this tank twice in one day!

Monday, October 23, 2006

New shears!

I didn't really feel like sewing when I returned home yesterday afternoon. But, I did want to do something sewing-related so I made permanent patterns of a couple of my newer favorites. I have all of the usual pattern making tools: bunny punch, notcher, tracing wheel and screw punch. But, after struggling once again to cut out heavy poster board (I know, I've finally decided to break down and buy a large roll of oak tag) with my Fiskars I decided it was time for some serious shears.

So, I headed off to the store this afternoon to treat myself to a pair of shears for pattern making only. When I told my friend Greg (of Azar's Sewing Center in Davie, Florida) what I wanted them for, he recommended the knife edge Mundial 12NPKE. I thought a 12" shear would be a bit much for me to handle but they are very comfortable and cut the heavy paper easily. No more raggedy edges!

UPDATE 10/24/06: Kelly asked about other patternmaking tools - I apologize, I just assume everyone knows what I'm talking about. Guess I know what that makes me. ;-) I will allow expert patternmaker Kathleen Fasanella to fill you in! Kathleen discusses the basic patternmaking tools here, in her post entitled Tools and Supplies. She left out my favorite thing, the bunny punch (my nickname is Bunny) but discusses it in another post entitled - what else? - Bunny Punch. Here you can also see the hooks that are used to hang the patterns and keep all the pieces of each style together.

When I visited Simplicity last year, I noticed that all of their paper sample patterns were hung on hooks so their use isn't limited to oak tag patterns. I must mention that Simplicity's NYC staff not only gave our group a fascinating tour but were incredibly gracious as well. If I lived in New York, I'd beg them for a job! For decades I disliked Simplicity patterns but they have made such wonderful changes to their product line in recent years that they have become one of my favorites.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Hallo Strand!

I'm headed to the beach for a few days' R&R. Just an excuse to lay around, read, sip umbrella drinks and nap, really. See you when I get back!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Feelin' Hot, Hot, Hot!

Woohoo! The Hot Patterns arrived today! I wanted them all but only ordered the Cosmopolitan Dress:

and Flippy Skirt:

for now. I have *cough, cough* several HPs in progress and really, really need to finish my UFOs before buying too many more patterns. Couldn't resist these two though! If only I could look like Beyonce wearing the Cosmopolitan dress....

I knew this was a must-have after seeing it on Erica B.'s blog, Hook & Needles.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Metro Textile samples

I received these samples from Kashi this week. These are gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous cottons! Unfortunately, they are not my color. :-( The shirred fabric is a very delicate voile (or gauze) and is elasticated. The pintucked fabric is cotton batiste. They go together beautifully! If you're interested in these, you can give Kashi a call at 212-290-0418. I'm not affiliated with Metro Textiles - just a very happy customer!

Happy Day!

My baby is coming home from college today and I'm so excited! I haven't seen him in over a month, since Labor Day weekend. After this visit I won't see him again until Thanksgiving. :-( He's bringing home the bar stools from his apartment so that I can reupholster them. Fun, huh? At least I stopped him from bringing home all the dining chairs as well! I guess I know what I'll be doing over the Thanksgiving break.....

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Mit Glitz

A few years ago, a friend of mine had a Swiss girlfriend who looooved sparkle - everything had to be mit Glitz! Last weekend I was whipping up some new casual tops (I just cleaned out my closet and am in need!) and came across two sparkley iron ons that I had purchased at Ben Raymond's a long time ago. Sometimes, I am inexplicably drawn to glittery things and so I bought these stars with no clue as to what I'd ever use them for.

No one could argue the fact that most knit tops don't have a very long lifespan. This is not investment dressing, to be sure. I decided to live a little and pulled out my favorite pattern (out-of-print Kwik-Sew 2643), two gorgeous rayon/lycra fabrics (the green from and the beige from ) and heat-sealed those stars on before I could change my mind. You know what? I like them! Sometimes it's fun to try something different.

Package from Kashi!

I love ordering fabric from Kashi at Metro Textiles in NYC! Where else can a Sewing Diva get top-quality fabric at discount prices *and* receive personalized service? Once Kashi knows what you like you can expect to receive calls to alert you to new inventory. Isn't that great? Here's what I received today:

Swiss-cheese eyelet in white - 6 yards: I will save this for next summer. It's destined to become a full-skirted wrap dress.

Brown eyelet - 3 yards (with 6 more coming!): I'm planning on making a skirt out of this. I envision something fitted through the hip and full at the hem. Although it is October, it's still pretty hot here so I'll be able to wear this for awhile. I'll make a dress out of the 6 yards I have coming from the 2nd shipment but probably not until next Spring.

Waves eyelet - 3 yards: This I bought sight unseen, Kashi made it sound so pretty. I'm going to make a shirt out of this - it's really even prettier than I thought it would be. A white eyelet shirt will go with so many things!

I was so excited to hear that Kashi had some good-quality cotton eyelets. I've been looking for them all summer! Except for the nice black piece I bought from him this past Spring, most of the other eyelets I've seen have been pretty awful - poly/cotton with horrible stingy embroidery. Oh, I did find a gorgeous broderie Anglaise for $200/yd but passed on it. Kashi's eyelets were $14/yd for the whites and $10/yd for the brown - such a deal! I know he is again out of the brown, but I believe he still has the whites. He also still has some of the beautiful brown velvet eyelet I bought a few weeks ago. Call him at (212)290-0418 8:00-6:00 Monday-Friday, Eastern time. Reasonable shipping rates too!

Yesterday afternoon a little bird flew into the French doors in my living room. It managed to bounce off the glass and grab onto one of my patio chairs. I was a little worried about it because it was obviously pretty stunned. Here in the photo you can see how it's little eyes are mere slits. It stayed like this, motionless, for several minutes before shaking it's little head and opening it's eyes all the way.

My four cats were quite entertained by the little bird. It was pretty funny to see them all lined up against the doors watching Kitty Television. I was so relieved that it was alright and able to fly away a few minutes later.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

What's on my nightstand?

The Beautiful Fall: Lagerfeld, Saint Laurent, and Glorious Excess in 1970s Paris

I just started this book which, unfortunately, did not arrive in time for my mini beach vacation. I am just beginning to comprehend the genius that was Yves St. Laurent.

Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution

Diva Phyllis is already reading this book, she made it sound so good that I had to buy it. The Marie Antoinette feature in the September issue of Vogue really piqued my interest in the book and the movie.

Debut: Yves Saint Laurent 1962

I miss you too!

I've received so many nice messages and emails after my recent departure from an online sewing community (which shall remain nameless). I am so touched by your support and, yes, I do miss so many of you! However, after a year of unpleasantries, this latest incident was simply the final straw for me. I cannot continue to support a site whose owner condones that sort of behaviour and hope you understand that I had to move on.

On a more positive note, I've been hanging out at Stitcher's Guild (link on the sidebar) when I'm feeling chatty. Maybe I'll see you there!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Hot Patterns Sunshine Top

Finally, here is the photo of my completed HP Sunshine Top. To be honest, I generally wear fitted tops because fuller ones can sometimes look too maternity on figures like mine but I LOOOOOVE this top! The cut actually makes me look slimmer and smaller busted - it's a real winner. The secret is the cut and depth of the neckline. Beware that this is probably not something you'll wear to the office as it is (it is in the Weekender collection, after all) although the neckline would be very easy to raise if you so desire.

This pattern uses the new HP sizing. I used a size 10 because that's what I normally use in HP tops and dresses. I should have tried on my Hippie Chick Dress before beginning because, due to weight loss, it was a little too large through the upper chest. As in the Big 4, an 8 is the best size for me to start with. As always, I had to make a full bust adjustment as I didn't have enough room in the front even with the gathers. I am very pleased with the fit except for one tiny issue that my fellow Sewing Divas helped me work out. I will show those alterations as soon as I redraw the pattern. I'll tell you, it is such a luxury to be able to bounce these things off of my very talented sewing friends. The thing I love most about sewing is the constant learning of new skills. I've been sewing for years and still have so much to learn! How nice that we never lose those Aha! moments.

One thing you'll want to be aware of in this top is the length. Hot Patterns are drafted for a tall woman - I am just under 5'4" with most of my shortness being above the waist. I cut about 3" off to finish the top at mid hip. Otherwise, this pattern was well drafted and went together without a hitch.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the metallic transfer is the Blomster Print from Shop Onion. I use a lot of transfers in my business and can assure you that these are of the highest quality.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Wow, I'm honored!

Fellow Sewing Diva Mary Beth found this article about top sewing sites on the web today: Ten Best Sewing Blogs

I was thrilled that the Sewing Divas were mentioned and about fell out of my chair to see my personal blog mentioned. Needless to say, this has made my day. :-)