Darcy Lewis Design

Adventures in "Good Enough" Design

Archive for the tag “Sewing”

Cozy Fall Jacket

Good grief, time has really flown by!! I’m in law school full time, while also running my business full time, and that has left precious little for any other projects or even keeping in touch with the outside world!

However, in early October I went to the LA Textile Show and swooned over these incredible fabrics from Italy that blend faux fur and wool together in one fabric. I just had to have some!! Well, on Black Friday they finally came in, and I just had to make a cozy little jacket for our extended fall weather to celebrate!

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I used 1 panel of  this new Italian wool-and-fur fabric for the body ($42/panel), plus 1 yard of this quilted faux leather-and-wool fabric for the sleeves ($45/yard). The neckline is finished with 2 yards of the gray snakeskin piping and the black jersey seam binding.  The strip of fur along the selvedge is there naturally (I just had to neaten it up a bit – it’s not perfectly even).

I used Burda pattern 8332 as the base and eliminated the side seams and front darts, so the ONLY seams on this jacket are the shoulders and armscyes!!

Total time: 2-3 hours. Total material cost: $101. Finished look: worth at least $250!!

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Floaty Chiffon Top for Summer!

I adore a floaty chiffon top for summer.  I pair them with camis and toss over jeans or anything else, they can even be worn over a dress for a different look!  This was my original favorite:

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It was light, comfortable, elegant, and I could (and did!) wear it for weddings, parties, date night, or even just to run errands.  However, it was time to replace it.  I ended up selecting a black and white chiffon with a waving dot pattern that felt a bit art deco to me.  I wanted a design in keeping with that, and I loved the ombre effect and the kimono sleeve of the original….

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(This is me doing my dramatic rendition of “Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him well!” )

So I made symmetrical squared-off open kimono sleeves, the sides are laced together with ribbon and there are more ribbons sewn onto the shoulders (deep dark secret: the ribbons were added to the shoulders to hide my accident with indelible marker…).  On all corners (sleeves and body), I sewed little stacks of beads to weight the top and create a nice swingy movement.  All in all I’m pretty happy with it, though I got very little opportunity to wear it this summer ( ;(  )

What’s your favorite garment you keep remaking?

The Knit Challenge

Before I tell you about the knit challenge, I have to share this story with you.  Today I went to one of my sewing groups, and a member I barely knew and had no real previous interaction with handed me the sweetest card she’s tried to mail me – congratulating me on my Fulbright.  It was so incredibly adorably sweet!!!  Talk about Giving Warmth!!
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On to the knit story… that same sewing group just had a knit challenge.  A couple of months ago, members were instructed to bring a piece of knit fabric – either one piece that was 2 yards long or 2 pieces that were each one yard long.  They were anonymously redistributed and members had until today to make something. Though I was happy with the fabric I got, I couldn’t find any design I liked, and so the day before it was due (of course), I bit the bullet and picked a pattern I thought might work…. (Mind you, I was the co-presenter and one of the more expert knit sewists in the group, so I had a certain standard expected of me… GULP!).

Here’s the fabric I received, it’s from JoAnn Fabrics, their Nicole Miller line.  A nice weight, soft hand, I’m guessing a cotton blend.

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My weight keeps fluctuating right now, so I prefer drapey tunics.  I chose McCall’s 7437, view B (the one the model is wearing), from my stash:

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I decided to actually make the pattern as shown (for me this is shockingly irregular, I did the same thing last week with the gray fleece cocoon kimono trimmed in pink plaid – I must be getting sick or something! I never make patterns!) – though without the fringe.  I thought the fabric print was too busy to make the whole garment out of it (plus, I’ve never been able to make a whole garment out of just one fabric…), so I paired it with a magenta slinky knit from my stash.  I wasn’t happy with the poor design for the hemming, so I redid it and just bound the bottom hem and back neck in the black jersey seam-binding from my shop (find it HERE).  I didn’t like how it hung without sleeves, but once the sleeves were in, it was kind of cute.  I wanted to break up the color block a little more, so I choose to make the sleeves in solid black – I used the jersey crepe from the shop (HERE), and since I’d banded the shirt body with the black jersey trim, I decided to finish off the magenta colorway and band the sleeves with it.  All in all, I’m fairly happy with how it came out, though obviously the shoulders need to be raised.

What do you think?  Have you sewn with knits before?  Want to try our challenge 😉  ?

More News…

I thought the chaos in my life would end once Expo was over, but of course it didn’t…

I’m very honored to announce that my application for a Fulbright scholarship to study the preservation of ethnic clothing through modern fashion design in Asia was accepted!!!  I’m officially a Fulbright Scholar!

Also, I finally had my wearable art coat, The Temptation of Eve, officially appraised, and am absolutely thrilled that it came back valued at $2500!!

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Back to sewing…  The next project I’m working on will be a jacket (of course – that’s like 90% of what I sew!).  I found this really cute bold print fabric at IKEA:

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And for reasons unknown even to myself, I decided I simply HAD to make a jacket out of this…  Stay tuned for the blog post…

TWO T-SHIRT ALTERATIONS!

I found two adorable shirts at the store, but they were clearanced and not available in my size.  ;(  Nothing for it, I HAD to have them, so I bought with the intent to alter…

 

The red and blue shirt perfectly matches the red feathers!  So I tried on the feather shirt to see where I needed ease.  It was snug but fit ok over the bust, but the body didn’t look good – especially with those elastic-gathered sides (made me look very pregnant!)  I measured the shirt against another shirt I like the fit of (recognize my French knit shirt? 😉  ):

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So I  cut triangle wedges out of the side of the red shirt (really is pretty symmetrical, just laid out badly). Cutting them out of the sides not only saved the body of the shirt for alteration #2, but meant there was a seam down the actual side, so it looks deliberate, not like an alteration:

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And sewed them into the feather shirt.  The red shirt is not actually hemmed, so I hemmed it to match the lines on the feather shirt, and I think I need to lengthen the sleeves, which I will do by adding more mesh.  And now I have an adorable shirt that actually fits!! (Though I still suck at selfies 😉   )

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That left me with a cut-up red shirt that needed bigger sides of its own…  I have some beautiful navy cotton eyelet in my shop that I needed to make a sample with for expo anyways, and it blended perfectly with the blue on the red shirt, so… The only caveat is that it’s a woven not a knit, so I had to make sure it’s full enough to compensate.  I based the size for this shirt on a favorite sweatshirt.  Then I cut rectangles (not squares, bc I wanted the shirt to be a little longer in the back than in the front) that were 13″ x 15″.  I hemmed the 2 sides first, then sewed the insets into the shirt, making sure to match up fronts (the selvedge edges with a wider hem), and hemming the red shirt to match the insets.  And now I have a gorgeous shirt that looks like a designer original, which, of course, it is!!!

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I think I need to hire a photographer 😉

 

What do you think?  Tell me about some of your favorite alterations!

Sewing Room Hacks…

DIY TRACING TABLE/LIGHT BOX:

One of the sewing groups I’m in had several members asking how to see the pattern lines under thicker tracing paper we sometimes use, like medical exam paper (a popular choice) and butcher paper.  Vintage patterns are especially prone to having faint lines that can be difficult for even the most eagle-eyed of us to trace accurately.  My friend Adrianna has the best, easiest, solution for this!!

She took 2 saw horses, stuck a glass table top from IKEA across the top of it, took two clamp-on work lights and clamped them to opposite legs – pointing up at the underside of the glass.  When they are turned on, they make even the smaller notches and marks crystal clear!  Plus, the set-up can be used as a regular table, is easy to disassemble and put away, and you even easily put a little bit of storage room underneath the table!!

Bonus: Don’t forget, light boxes can be used for all kinds of crafting projects where tracing would come in handy!

 

PATTERN STORAGE AND ORGANIZATION:

I’ve also seen lots of questions about how to store and organize your patterns, so thought I’d share my method.  I use filing cabinets – I have one vertical and 1 lateral.  I divide my patterns into two main groups: New patterns, and patterns I’ve already made.  Patterns I’ve already made are put in their own drawer.  On the front of the envelope I put a post-it note that says which view I made, which garment it is, and any critical notes (doesn’t fit right, take in bust 2″, lengthen 3″, etc.). This is only a short note – I keep full notes separately (see below).

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New patterns are sorted by type of garment – jackets, skirts, dresses, pants.  On a pattern with several garment types – like the photo above, I file it under the garment type I am most interested in. I also keep a list of the patterns in an Excel spreadsheet that lists the brand, pattern number, and location (ie, filed with jackets), and any other details I care about (size, fabric type, yardage, whatever is most important to you).

In the lateral filing cabinet, I needed a way to keep the columns of patterns neat and separate so they didn’t squish into each and get untidy.  I found my local grocery store yielded two IDEAL box sizes – 1 for normal-width envelopes, 1 for wide:

The boxes are almost exactly the same length as the drawer, and they allow me to fit the pattern columns very close together!  To save on both space and the number of boxes needed, I alternate 1 column of loose (boxless) with 1 column in a box.  Here you can see all the patterns tightly wedged in together very neatly:

 

And finally, my tip on how I keep my pattern notes.  There are many different ways to do this, this is NOT the most efficient, but I like it… I buy an 8″ x 6″ spiral-bound artists pad.  I only use 1 sheet per pattern, and always leave the back of the sheet blank – so if I ever rip them out and put them in a notebook, I don’t have to choose or worry about splitting the page 😉

On the top of each page, I put a descriptive name for the garment: “Sakura”, “Gray Roses”, “Silver Rain”, “Opera Cloak”, etc. I put the date I completed the garment.  Then I list any patterns I used, their view and size.  I list the fabrics used and the price I paid for them (best guess), ditto with any trims or closures. I tape in a tiny swatch of the fabric(s), add notes about needed alterations, the amount of time it took to make, and anything else I might want to know later.

 

What kinds of tips and tricks do you use to keep your stash organized?

Adventures with Knits…

I took the day off from studying and house-cleaning to try a patternless, easy-peasy, knit shirt (you already smell disaster coming, don’t you?).

I love wearing knits, wanted something easy and fast, and most important – it had to be fool-proof since I’ve been unhappy with everything I’ve made recently (regardless of the actually objective quality of the outcome).  So… PINTEREST!!

I’d been eyeballing this shirt for some time, and in July one of my local sewing groups is presenting a knit challenge, so I wanted something easy to teach…

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This was the image on Pinterest (hyperlinked).  No directions, measures, or other info.  So I started with a t-shirt I liked the fit and length of (excuse the photos – I suck at selfies!):

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I picked out this knit from my shop (hyperlinked) so I could use this as a sample for the Sew Expo:

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I wanted the thick navy part at the bottom, and the fabric, folded in half selvedge to selvedge was the exact same length as my shirt.  I wanted my sleeves about 7″ longer, so I measured 7″ from the side edge and stuck a pin in.  (Sorry, forgot to take photos of all these steps!)  Took my t-shirt and folded it in half, aligning my sleeves and pinning them and the shoulders.  I laid the shirt out on the fabric, with the sleeve end starting at my pin (that was 7″ in from the side), with the shoulder and neck at the top where the white part is, and the shirt hem at the bottom where the navy centerfold was.

I traced the sleeves and side and side swoop, then used pins on the new fabric to mark the center front and center back (where my t-shirt was folded in half), then folded that in half along the center so I’d have even fronts and backs.

Then I cut it out – 4 layers at once (2 fronts and 2 backs – both front and back aligned down a centerfold so no seam and not actually 4 pieces).  This is the after I cut out the main part – sleeves and sides not yet cut out (don’t forget to cut along the fabric fold at the bottom to make sure you can put your body in 😉  Shown here still folded, not yet cut.):

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Then I basted it together and checked the fit…

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Yes, that’s a grimace.  I do not love the shirt.  The fit over the bust is a little snug (how?!), the collar is too tight (easy to fix), and the flare is not as dramatic or pointed as I expected (and would have liked).  So I marked the center point of the new neck line, and the shoulder, and recut the neck.

Then I serged the inside seams in plain white thread, then used fancy woolly blue (I had 2 blues in stock: black (closest color match) or a blue that was darker than royal, but lighter than this navy.  I went with that since I wanted to play up the blue and white look.) in the upper looper to serge the sleeves and hem.  For the neckline, I used the navy jersey seam binding from the shop (have I mentioned how much I LOVE that stuff?!?!)

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Oh, and here’s a close-up of the serged edge with the blue… it made a lettuce edge, but overall ok:

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Ultimate verdict: Don’t love it, but it was really easy, took about 2 hours – start to finish, and will be fine for a sample for Expo, though I don’t think I’ll ever wear it – will probably put it in the shop for sale at some point.  I think it will be much nicer on someone with a slightly smaller bust than mine.

The shop: http://stores.ebay.com/beautifultextiles

Check the category of knits for the fabric, the jersey seam binding will be under both Knits and Trims.

Baking!

Gosh, I know I’ve been so bad at keeping this updated!  It seems like I wake up, do the bare minimum to keep my business and life running, and suddenly it’s 1am and bedtime!  Every day feels like nothing got done, but I know that isn’t true and vast amounts of unpacking, settling in, organizing, and LIVING are happening.

So, some highlights of the past month (as proof 😉  ):

ONE OF MY JACKETS WAS FEATURED ON TELEVISION!

On a local morning talk show, to be precise!  That was tremendously exciting, and I only found out about it the night before!  They’d seen my work in one of the galleries I show in here, and decided to grab it!

Also, have been asked to teach several workshops, some open to the public, some not.  So if you are local, or visiting the Greater Detroit area and you’re a member of ASG, I will be doing 3D Quilting in March and Velvet Embossing in May for 2 different local chapters.  You are welcome to come join.

Tried my hand at decorating for winter for the first time this year.  Hopefully, will improve with experience 😉

Strung one of our smallest trees with ornaments (no lights ;(  )…

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Hung up 2 large lanterns filled with twinkle lights and ornaments… 1 at the end of the drive, 1 on the front porch by the door.P1000229

I decorated the wreath myself!  (Very proud of my first attempt 😉  ) – this is hung by the garage door we use most.P1000230

Put a little reindeer by the porch… he needed a nose, but not red (I hate the story of Rudolph.  Moral: People will come to like you when they realize they need you?!), gold seemed to match…P1000248

My husband decided this wasn’t enough, so he wrapped ME in lights and planted me on the porch.  We are not amused….P1000234

 

AND, I’ve spent the past month baking up a storm!!!  Husband waited (3 times!) until the last minute to ask me to make something for the company bake sale fundraiser for Toys for Tots, then there was the company potluck, then he wanted something to bring as a present for colleagues, then he ambushes me with a demand for more (he miscounted), PLUS could I make a special batch for one person who is gluten-free (well, his diet is).  Ok, that was actually more like 5 times, wasn’t it?

So I bought a ton of the mini-loaf pans (Bed, Bath, and Beyond has a set of 4 for $10, don’t forget your coupon!) and an average cake recipe divides neatly into 4 minis!  Yay math!

I made lots of cranberry cakes, many different versions! (Note, I skipped the nuts in all these recipes because they were for gifts and I didn’t know who had allergies.)

Our favorite ended up being this delicious coffee-cake version from Cookie Monster Cooking – though I skipped the almond extract.  (Confession: The first time I made it, I didn’t have a spring-form pan handy, so I poured the batter into a bundt cake pan, carefully putting the streusel topping on the bottom of the pan first. This worked out shockingly well!!!  It was QUITE good!)

Topped with the frosted cranberries from Life, Love, and Sugar (which were awesomely good!).  We don’t like white chocolate, so I skipped that part of the LLS recipe, and found that without it the cake was ok – very dense and heavy, but we preferred the lighter, more open crumb of the CMC recipe.

For the gluten-free recipe, I found this recipe from Martha Stewart which really did come out quite well!!  I used the gluten-free flour blend from Krusteaz that was available at my Kroger grocery.

I found a super handy trick for using mini-loaf pans, that surely will work just as well with almost any pan… Use a strip of parchment paper (does not have to full cover the bottom of the pan, can be less than half the pan in width) to line the pan first, pour your batter on top of this, and then gently pull the tabs of paper up to release the baked cake!  I’ve seen recipes that call for lining the pans, but never suggesting just a little strip.  It makes all the difference in the world!  Those little cakes popped right out, neat as could be.  Any batter that had stuck to the paper and burnt on could just be brushed off gently and did not adhere to the cake, and all the little cakes (I made about 50 mini and full size cakes this month, and have a request for another 2 dozen!) came out beautifully!

Here is what it looks like before, waiting to receive the batter… (forgot to take the other pictures (during and after), so just try to imagine how they’d look…)

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Happy holidays, everyone!!!  Wishing you all a year full of joy, health, happiness, friendship, peace, and love!

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