Mpressive Threadz Studio Blog

Sharing my love of sewing


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Monitor vs Actual: I Still Like the Color Combination

I love to see and touch my fabrics.  I love to experience firsthand the colors and the hand of the fabrics, get a sense of the drape and let my mind just go until it settles on a vision of the outfit/design.

A few years ago, I ordered fabric online for the first time.  It was a gigantic leap for me.  I am an ex-New Yorker spoiled by the abundance of independent fabric stores in Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx.  I settled in Maryland and I had a hard time settling for the stores and selections available here.  While I appreciate my local Joann Fabric store, I like fine fabrics and that’s not why Joann exists.

Deciding to give online fabric shopping a try, a whole new world opened up.  I found a beautiful brocade in chartreuse yellow and beige online at Fabric Mart with coordinating wool/silk fabric in beige and in chartreuse yellow.  All the fabrics were from the same designer line, so I was confident the fabrics would work together.  I envisioned a brocade vest, beige pants and a chartreuse yellow ¾ length coat.  I ordered beige cotton for a shirt as well.

Well, when I received the fabrics I loved the brocade, but didn’t like the beige color of the wool/silk.  Although the wool/silk was from the same designer line of fabrics, the brocade was more taupe (cool tone) and the beige wool/silk fabric had warm tones.  My eyes and brain would not accept the pairing of these fabrics and that ended the coat, pant, vest ensemble.  A year later I cut the chartreuse yellow fabric and made a sleeveless lined dress combining the bodice from Simplicity 2648 and a self-drafted gore skirt.  I finished the hem of the dress with three rows of topstitching.  I always wore a sweater with the dress.

A few weeks ago I came across the beige fabric and decided to make a jacket. I like the combination of the beige and chartreuse yellow, and decided to make the jacket to coordinate with the dress made two years ago.  Each day I worked on the jacket (Simplicity 2446) for a couple of hours letting the design of the jacket evolved as I made it.  First, the under sleeves, collar and pocket flaps were cut from the chartreuse yellow.  I added inside patch pockets to the lining so I could carry my cell phone with me during a meeting.  One day I got the idea to add chartreuse yellow shoulder inserts before putting the sleeves in.  I didn’t want plain inserts and noticed the topstitching on the hem of the dress, so I topstitched the shoulder inserts and the pocket flaps.  The next day I thought about the collar and decided to topstitch that as well.  The next day, I thought about the under sleeves which were the only place on the jacket that the chartreuse yellow had not been topstitched and I knew I would not be happy leaving the under sleeves plain.  I removed the bottom button from the sleeve vents, topstitched just the under sleeve hems, and sewed the vent buttons back on.

Now that I was happy with the design of the jacket, the hem of the dress haunted my thoughts.  Why?  I had five rows of topstitching on the jacket and only three rows on the dress hem.  The stitching on the jacket was ¼” apart and the stitching on the dress hem was ⅜” apart.  I couldn’t just add two more rows of topstitching to the dress; no, no, noooo.  It’s the little details that bug me sometimes.  I removed the middle row of topstitching on the dress and added three rows of topstitching.  Now, I was happy because ALL the topstitching matched.

While the colors displayed on my monitor when I ordered the fabrics did not match exactly the colors of the fabrics I received, the color combination in the brocade inspired me.  I never would have combined beige with chartreuse yellow, but I like the color combination and I enjoy wearing the dress and jacket.


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Sewing and Celebrating

Yesterday I woke up and knew I had a full day ahead of me.  First, I made a new outfit, quick and easy.  The fabric is a printed poly knit from my local JoAnn fabric store.  I used my go-to knit top pattern, making the scoop neck, and raising the neckline 3” so my bra would not be on display.  The skirt is my go-to gore skirt pattern that I drafted last year during my skirt blitz.  Since this knit had a lot of stretch, I put elastic in the waist.  I made a tie belt to complete the outfit.  My husband thought it was a nice outfit when I tried it on, but wanted to know why I didn’t make it a one piece.  I just smiled at him.  He loves me in wrap dresses.

Next, shower and dress.  I did the wash and go hair.  So where am I going?  My sister’s 50th birthday party in New York.  You know I must love my sister because I am about to spend 4 hours on a Greyhound bus to attend a party starting at 11 p.m.  Yes, that’s my bedtime!  Then, I am on a 3 a.m. Amtrak train back to Maryland because it’s my 25th wedding anniversary and I want to be home.

I had fun at the birthday party.  It was part of a larger dance held at a dance studio a few blocks from FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology).  The music was loud and people were doing the hustle.  That brought back memories.  The key word for me during the late 70s and the entire 80s was “PARTY” and I did that.  I loved New York in those days.  My friends and I could work all day, find a club event on a Tuesday night, dance all night, make it home in order to sleep a few hours, and be at work on time on Wednesday.  We would be tired and watched the clock all day, thinking all we wanted to do was sleep.  Let someone mention a nightclub and we would become suddenly energized and heading for the party.  Last night it seemed that half the songs the DJ played caused my cousins to look at me and say “That was your song” meaning look for me on the dance floor.  We had a good time laughing about our younger days.   

Can I still hang like I use to?  NO, NO, NO!  I slept through most of my 25th wedding anniversary.  My husband spent most of the day laughing at me trying to stay awake.  As you can see, humor is a big part of our marriage.  We also try not to stress about special days.  He thought it was important for me to not miss my sister’s special party.  He stayed home with the dog and the family responsibilities. We plan to celebrate our anniversary in a couple of weeks, maybe with a romantic dinner.  Today’s anniversary dinner, his chopped barbeque.  That’s a lot like our wedding day 25 years ago.  We woke up that morning and decided that was the day.  Our witness was one of my childhood friends who was late getting to Borough Hall.  She was very, very pregnant and riding the subway.  We were hoping she wasn’t in labor on the subway since that would not have garnered her any sympathy on a New York subway train.  That day it was 70 degrees, after weeks of freezing weather.  I wore a mint green blouse and a white wool skirt.  After the ceremony, we sat in the park and ate hot dogs.  Two years later we had a wedding and renewed our vows in front of family and friends. 

Back to sewing matters.  So, I thought I would have the pictures done for sewing the six-gore skirt. The written instructions and cutting layouts are done.  However, this weekend was about celebrating and recovering. 

Happy Birthday to my sister.  Love you. 

Happy Anniversary to my husband.  Love you.


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Losing Sewing Time

Today is Saturday and I feel like I have lost weeks.  The last time I posted was 3 weeks ago.  Unbelievable!  I spent a week in St. Louis at business meetings.  STRESSFUL!   I spent a weekend making a 3 piece suit and giving a sewing lesson.  PEACEFUL!  I then spent a week in New Orleans at business meetings.  STRESSFUL!  I spent this past week trying to catch up from the week in New Orleans.  STRESSFUL!  So today is about sewing and blogging about sewing.  PEACEFUL!

I just finished a Facebook entry hoping family and friends have a creative outlet that allows them some “me” time in which to spend thinking about life.  Sewing does that for me, allows me to think about things. 

Between the two business trips, I made a jacket, skirt and pants from a piece of wool I purchased on my recent New York trip.  It is now official; I don’t like Lycra in my wool pieces.  I brought a black tropical-weight wool suit a few years ago and it has Lycra in it.  The Lycra fibers pill and that’s not a good look on black wool.  The suit I made is a light olive wool and after a few hours of wearing, I saw pilling in the areas where the underarms brush the sides.  The suit also wrinkles horribly.  I have another piece of wool with Lycra which I will sew.  After that, I want my wool pieces to be 100% wool.

I used speed tailoring techniques on the jacket.  My student arrived while the jacket was still open and I was in the midst of making shoulder pads for the jacket.  I pointed out to her how and why I ease the roll line and interface the hems.  She watched me make the second shoulder pad.  We talked about her making a tailored jacket in the spring.  I could have her making simple things like a gored skirt, but I think she will learn a lot more by being challenged, which is why she’s making a Chanel style jacket. 

She’s trying to learn to sew curves smoothly.  She showed me her attempt.  We laughed.  Her homework was to sew concentric circles about a presser foot apart.  This is a lesson I actually had to do in high school on an industrial machine.   It’s important to be able to sew smooth curves because she will need to sew the sleeves into her jacket at some point.  My travel gave her two more weeks to practice and produce another piece.  Let’s see how much she improves.  Circle lesson

Today, I need to cut out my daughter’s Chanel jacket so I can sew along with Kira tomorrow.  I think I will also make a couple of long sleeve knit tops since the weather is changing. Time to start sewing.