Monthly Archives: November 2009

Batch cutting

I managed to get some tops cut out over the past few days. I could have accomplished more but decided to finally transfer these two TNT patterns onto manila paper so that took some time.

I cut out three Jalie Sweetheart Tops in charcoal rayon/lycra (from Fabric Depot), cream distressed wool jersey (from Textile Studios) and deep purple rayon/lycra (surprisingly, from JoAnn’s).


I also cut two Kwik-Sew 2845 tops in a heathered wine rayon/lycra from Lucy’s Fabrics and a black/grey rayon/lycra from Bestonline Fabrics (link in sidebar). I also have this beautiful green rayon knit (from Gorgeous Fabrics) lined up for this pattern but decided to stop cutting and work on my exterior lights some more. The sooner I finish my Christmas decorations, the sooner I can put all these plastic totes back in the attic. Any clutter that is non-sewing-related makes me nuts!



Funny, I usually dislike cutting but found that the more I cut, the more I wanted to cut! I should be able to get most of these finished this week.



Filed under Build The Outfit, Fabric, Jalie, Kwik-Sew

Marrakesh Pants #3

I finally finished my 3rd pair of HP Marrakesh Pants – I looove this pattern! I’ve had this piece of sueded Tencel gauze in my stash for at least 4 years. It came from Cynthia’s Fine Fabrics and was originally intended for a skirt. It has a crinkled texture and a nice, heavy drape. I made sure to press all the crinkles out before cutting. If you’ve ever worn anything made of gauze you know how your body heat will cause it to bag out very unattractively because your body is actually “ironing” out the creases. I also over-fitted these, taking an additional 1″ out in width through the waist and hip area because I know they will stretch with wearing.


I’m not a huge fan of contrast facings (not a criticism, they’re just not me) but my fabric is kind of heavy and self-fabric would have been too bulky. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any solid fabric that blended so I used this cotton/lycra shirting. I’m not really crazy about it but no one will see it and it is a casual pant, after all. I intend to wear these with a white tank or tee and flat sandals.

Once again, I did not use the pocket and this time I skipped the drawstring as well. I love drawstrings but my fabric was too heavy for self-fabric ties and I wasn’t able to find any suitable substitute. Since this is a “real” waistband, I interfaced with Pro Sheer Fusible and used fusible straight tape to stabilize the upper edge.


Speaking of straight tape, I also used it to stabilize the bias area of the crotch. I hate nothing worse than a saggy bottom so I use the straight tape in all of my pants to maintain the curve. You can also use twill tape or lining selvage but fusible tape is most convenient. I always lay the pattern on the fabric to make sure nothing has stretched or shifted before I press the tape on.


Once finished, the pants seemed a bit plain without the drawstring so I decided to add cargo pockets on both sides. I made the pocket 5″ wide and 6″ tall and added 1/4″ seam allowances and a 1.25″ hem allowance at the top (I wanted to make sure that the button would be sewn through two layers). The flap is 5.25″ wide and 2″ tall. I used 1/4″ seam allowances at the sides and bottom and 5/8″ at the top. I know the stitching looks wonky in the photo but that’s just the crinkles in the fabric.


I used the Armani pocket flap technique I learned from Louise Cutting many years ago. It’s very neat and flat. Basically, the flap is stitched into it’s final (down) position with a 1/4″ seam allowance and then pressed up and restitched so that all raw edges are encased and no stitching shows on the outside.


Because I wanted the pocket to be soft, I only used interfacing in the hem allowance (mainly because of the button). The flap is not interfaced. To help me figure out the placement I simply put the pants on and pinned the pocket where I thought it looked best.


Filed under Hot Patterns

Shopping for a boiler iron

For quite a number of years I have used a Naomoto HYS-5 for my construction pressing in the main sewing room. My other, bigger sewing room holds my ironing board and an old Euro-Pro EP8000 (a steam generator). This is where I iron my laundry every week and steam-press yardage. Well, this is my 2nd EP8000 and I feel it starting to falter. I’m not too upset about that because it is a home iron, after all, and I do give it an awful lot of abuse, sometimes leaving it on for 8 to 10 hours at a stretch. What I like best about it is that it has a floor stand. What I like least is constantly having to refill it. That doesn’t sound like a big deal except that you must allow it to cool before you can open the steam tank to add more water and then wait another 10 minutes or so for it to reheat. What a pain.

So, given my love of industrial sewing equipment, it was only natural that I should have a look at commercial boiler irons, right? I was going to wait until the EP died but since Santa has bestowed an early Christmas/birthday gift upon me, I decided to go ahead and get it now.

I had narrowed my choices down to these two from Reliable:

The i300:


or the i500:


I was really confused about which one would be best for my needs. The i300 certainly seems like it would be adequate but there are features (like the pressure gauge, optional longer steam hose and plug-in iron) on the i500 that appealed to me. The difference in price is about $200 which isn’t much if you consider this an investment – I certainly do. I remembered Kathleen (of Fashion Incubator) writing about commercial pressing equipment a few months ago so I reread her posts and all of the comments. According to the head of the Reliable Corporation, the i300 is best suited for 20 hours or less of use per week. I’m kind of on the edge there so I thought it best to spend the extra for the i500 (which is the one that Kathleen purchased, BTWl). Oh, and did I tell you there is a floor stand available? 🙂


Filed under Pressing Equipment

Back aboard the train

I finished another pair of HP Marrakesh Pants yesterday. These are made from a delicious piece of corded rayon that I purchased at the Doncaster outlet in Rutherfordton years ago. It has a wonderful drape and is heaven to touch. Unfortunately, it was hell to sew as it didn’t like even the slightest bit of pressing. I ended up folding my press cloth into fourths and using it that way. I actually had nearly two yards of this fabric left after cutting the pants but since I do not ever want to work with it again I cut it up into 9″ x 5″ pieces for my friend to use at his shop.


While this pair was no fun to make because of the fabric, I really do LOVE this pattern. I wore my white linen version yesterday and they looked great even after a few hours’ wear. I wore them to the grocery store with aqua Chuck Taylors and then with sandals later in the day.

I think I forgot to mention that I always tape the bias portion of the crotch curve. IMO, this really helps prevent pants from bagging out in the seat. Since I’ll be making another pair this week I will be sure to take photos of that step. It takes seconds and makes such a big difference.


Filed under Hot Patterns

Making space

Pretty soon I’ll be adding two more machines to my herd: a Singer 143W (with which I’ll be able to zigzag on leather using 138 thread!) and a Singer 112W (double-needle, needle-feed machine for leather). If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time you know space is getting pretty tight in the second sewing room! I already measured and discovered that my two file cabinets (where I store extra patterns) will fit into the walk-in closet of my exercise room so that’ll leave room for one new machine. Then, when I was unpacking my boots (which are stored in Jess’ old closet) I got the idea to move my little Merrow into the left side of closet. I cut the table down years ago so it’s small and there’s an outlet and light in the closet. The Merrow only does a perle edge so it’s one of those machines I’ll use every few months for 20 minutes or so and that’s it. I think she looks rather at home, don’t you?


And now I have space for a 2nd machine next to the window in the sewing room. I’m happy.



Filed under Sewing Machines, This and that