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1  CLOTHING / Clothing: Discussion and Questions / Re: Looking for one-yard skirt patterns/instructions - help! on: July 22, 2008 06:17:42 AM
Just recently I made a simple cargo skirt for myself using one a yard 56 inch wide  piece of khaki twill. I shop at a warehouse outlet that has huge remnant bins, and a yard of khaki caught my eye.  I already have shorts, and I look silly in capris, so I decided on a skirt. The side waist is elasticated for ease of wearing, there is a side seam slit for walking and the hem has some darts to narrow the sometimes clunky silhouette of casual skirts.  Rather than copy and paste everything, here's a link to my personal blog entry: http://lincatz.tripod.com/thelitterbox/index.blog/1824895/how-to-make-a-straight-cargo-skirt-from-a-basic-skirt-pattern/ of how I made it.  If you have a skirt pattern with a single dart in the front and back you can easily adapt it.  Oh, you might want to make the side slit a bit less revealing.  I realized i made it too high while wearing it!  It's not incredibly original as I bought one similar to this back in 1998 so this is a bit of a replacement.  I hope this gives you a couple ideas.
2  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Stitch And BOTCH / Re: fevered knitting, not a good idea! on: April 16, 2008 09:19:32 AM
I'm keeping the sock as is. It actually looks like a sock, which is better than some of my other attempts at "firsts"  And now that I'm feeling better and no longer swallowing razor blades, maybe this can remind me that taking a couple days off in the beginning means I won't be forced into taking a week off work later.  And there's still more than enough yarn to make *real* socks, which I still desperately want to learn.  I admire anyone who can make socks, hand knitted socks look so cool.

*~hobbit sock~*  for those days when woolly feet aren't quite enough!
3  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Stitch And BOTCH / fevered knitting, not a good idea! on: April 14, 2008 07:01:38 AM
Two weeks ago my kid came home from college with a present for the family: a flu bug making its way through the student population.  I decided that I did NOT have a flu and I could NOT take time off work.  Which went quite well until Thursday, as I was taken to the doctors with a temperature of over a hundred, a throat that felt like I was swallowing hot razor blades, a cough that wouldn't stop and aches that felt like I had run a marathon.

I had a secondary infection and my hubby was instructed to keep me at home. away from any sewing machines or any other work and to be sure I got plenty of rest.  I was to take antibiotics and some cough syrup with plenty of warning stickers telling me not to operate any machinery, and a note from the doctor saying "especially big sewing machines"

Perfect I thought!  I can learn how to knit socks!  I've been wanting to learn how to knit socks for a while, but I always have trouble at the heel, it requires time and patience, something I am occasionally short on.  Because I am couch ridden, my fevered brain reasoned, I can knit for hours without anyone stopping me!  And knitting needles are not (usually) dangerous machines I can safely knit and not injure anyone too badly.

I found my sock yarn, purchased months before.  I found my double pointed needles, holding flags in a lego city!  I found the instruction book!  I cheerfully and feverishly began to knit.  My huuby made sure I took the pills and the cough medicine and my boys didn't complain as I watched CSI:Miami DVD's all weekend.

There's something about the instruction for short rows and fevers that don't quite mix.  Or something about me not bothering to read the instructions carefully.  Or perhaps it was a defect in my measuring.  No matter what the cause, I now have a single, rather odd, too short for my foot and three times too large for my ankles sock.  I am quite proud of this, for reasons I don't understand.  I am now less fevered and looking at the book, with the steps carefully checked off, including five too many short rows, and the page on toe shaping seemingly missed.  Here's a picture of my sock.  I don't know if I should take it apart and try again, or keep it as a reminder to A. don't knit while feverish. B. Don't knit while on narcotic cough medicine and C. Take two days off when a flu starts, or seven days when I have no choice.

My only comfort is that it is vaguely foot shaped, only for a person with a four inch long foot.
4  CLOTHING / Clothing: Discussion and Questions / Re: painting lycra? on: April 10, 2008 08:01:39 AM
The best paint for painting on lycra is Jones Tones 3D paint.  It's made to be stretchy and flexible and it's designed for use on stretchy fabrics.  I've used it on dance costumes, figure skating costumes, and swimsuits.  It can be used to stick small acrylic jewels to costumes in a pinch.  The clear is also very handy for drawing treads on the soles of slippers and footie pajamas to keep them from slipping, and I also use a line of the clear on the inner waist band of pants and skirts to keep shirts from riding up.  Here's the website: http://www.jonestones.com/indexec0c.html?main_page=index and the paints are available from Dharma Trading's website.
5  CLOTHING / Clothing: Discussion and Questions / Re: What shall I do with several yards of vintage polyester knit? on: April 08, 2008 06:51:33 AM
On the cover of the newest issue of Vogue Pattern Magazine there's a vintage print knit halter dress.  I have a collection of vintage fabrics and that dress just screamed at me saying: MAKE ME FROM A VINTGE KNIT!  It's a wonderful draped halter that would look wonderful in any knit fabric.
Here's the home page for vogue, the magazine cover is in the top right corner: http://www.voguepatterns.com/indexfv.html
and here's the pattern itself: http://www.voguepatterns.com/item/V8448.htm?search=8448&page=1
In a addition, this pattern would also look very good in vintage knit, modern and not tacky at all. http://www.voguepatterns.com/item/V1027.htm?tab=dresses_includes_designer&page=1

I have the pattern in my hands right now and I'm staring later today.  Yes. I know how to draft patterns, but I still buy ones I love, like this!

There's a lot of patterns available right now for knit dresses that would look very nice done in your vintage knit. One local fabric store has a large number of vintage inspired knits available right now, some that look like they came straight out of a Brady Bunch episode..
6  CANADA / Ontario / Re: Kitchener-Waterloo on: April 03, 2008 08:06:21 AM
An update on craft, fabric and art stores in KW

Sadly, Cloth and Clay in Waterloo Square has closed.  I've heard conflicting reports on why it closed, from owner retiring to it not being eclectic enough for the new Waterloo Town Square vision.  That last bit makes no sense as Cloth And Clay was one of the influences that help shape the eclectic shops vision for the mall.  Regardless of why, the truth is the store is now closed and we no longer have our fabulous yarn store right downtown...or rather -Uptown! The outlet in the St Jacob's market is still open, although it has a much smaller array of yarn.

Bead Bazaar is still Uptown Waterloo and still as fabulous as always.  Stephanie has new beads arriving all the time and I have a difficult time not blowing my entire bead budget while there. Not far from there is "State of The Art Supplies"  a wonderful name for a store with an ever changing selection of specialty art supplies.  They have special papers, primed and unprimed canvas gold and silver leafing, and they have silk screen supplies -including kits-for anyone who want to silk screen their own textiles and t-shirts.  On Caroline Street is The Artstore, another art supply shop. They carry supplies for graphic artists and have a wide selection of special art papers.  Michael's is as great for arts and crafts as ever and carries everything from yarns to fine art supplies to beads to you-name it!  Lens...what can I say about Len's?  When we were looking for a house one requirement was that it had to be within walking distance to Len's!

There is still some good news for knitters, however. There is a new specialty yarn store in New Hamburg, just outside K-W, owned and operated by someone who used to work at Cloth and Clay.  They sell many of the same fancy yarns as Cloth and Clay.  it's Called "Shall We Knit" and it's quite nice!  Her's the stores web site:  http://www.shallweknit.com/ They offer lessons and seminars, in addition to many wonderful yarns.

In additional crafty KW news, KW Sewing Machines has moved out of their cramped quarters in Conestoga Mall to a new, larger location in the Fredrick Street Mall.  Steve, (the best sewing machine mechanic anywhere) Sonia and company are all available to help with purchasing that perfect sewing machine to keeping you machines in top running order. They also carry sewing machine accessories, needles, threads, notions, and more. They are the local dealers for Singer and Janome.  The store is opening april 2. They are hoping to offer more sewing lessons in the future, once they settle into their new location.  If you are in Frederick Street Mall, do check out "The Colours of Art"  formerly Racca's Art Supply.  They have an extensive selection of Windsor and Newton art supplies, and they also carry a selection of specialty stitchery threads for needlepoint and cross stitcher's. 

The Kitchener Textiles store on Strange Street has closed after many years. Constant road closures and construction in the area made it difficult for customers to get to the store, which led to a drop in business, which led to the closing. 

On Victoria Street is a tore called Herrschner's. It's main business is mail and internet sales of pre-packaged kits with the retail outlet in Kitchener.  It carries craft supplies, yarns and beads.  I have not been there is a few years, but it's still open for business.  Here's their website:  http://www.herrschners.ca/retailstore.aspx

Out Weber Street East in Kitchener is Fabricland, which we should all know about. Grin Across Weber is creative Sewing Center, the local Husqvarna dealer.  They also carry specialty threads, specialty fabrics, and sewing machine supplies, feet, needles and sewing notions.  Very nice store, although getting sales help can be a bit frustrating at times! They also repair sewing machines. Here's their website: http://www.creativesewingcentre.com/ And not far from both, at Fairview Mall is Wal-Mart.  When the store was renovated they expanded the fabrics and crafts section.  There are fabrics, yarns, beads, and assorted other crafty things for the budget crafter..

And that's the updated list of crafty places for KW crafters.  If I find anything new, different, or tucked in an out of the way corner of the city I'll be sure to post again.
7  CLOTHING / Clothing: Discussion and Questions / Re: Questions about pattern ease! on: March 10, 2008 06:33:50 AM
Four inches across the bust is quite standard for ease, especially if a pattern is to be made from a non-stretch fabric.  The ease assumes that you will be moving in the garment, and some of the bust-line ease is to allow for movement in the back or the garment which expands depending on what you ar doing.  In addition, the chest area also expands because of breathing, flexing muscles, lifting, etc.  You might want to slice it down to two and half inches if you like a close fit, but be careful of any less.  You could pop the side seam or split the back if there isn't enough ease.  Another problem will show up in the fit of the arms and across the back.  Have you measured something in your wardrobe that you love the fit of and compared it to a pattern?  You might be surprised by the ease in the garment.

I liked that bodice/shirt with the bat wingy effect to the cuff and collar!  (I could have used it for a client two years ago for a dance recital for Wizard of Oz monkeys!) It appears that four inches is there because the sample is made from a very firmly woven fabric with no stretch, and there's a bit of design ease, too.  I think it's designed so it isn't skin tight, that it does have a bit of shape away from the body.  In addition it looks as though it can also be worn as a jacket over a tight t-shirt.  If so then certainly the ease is needed for the shirt underneath.  When I make jackets I use a minimum of 4 inches, it seems like a lot when looking at a ruler, but with linings, interfacings and such, it makes for a very snug fitting jacket.  Ready to wear uses 4 to 6 inches of ease.

Try cutting the paper pattern according to the diagram , and then pin the paper together and try the paper pattern on one half of your body.  I think you'll understand a bit better why some of the ease is needed.  It works out to no more than an inch per body quadrant, and that's really not that much.  If it feels too large, then adjust the paper pattern before you cut the fabric, then pin baste the shirt and do any fine tuning in the fabric.  Don't over fit, and make it too tight, the shirt might match you measurements; but you won't be able to move.

The second one would be very simple to make from an ordinary shirt and just add gathered fabric.  That one is styled to have additional design ease in the bodice, It appears about six inches -to give a school girl look. A ratio of 1.3 would be perfect for the gathers, you could go up to a 1.5 ratio.  Bottom edge measure X 1.3= the amount you will need to cut.  Bulky or less drapey fabrics need a lower ratio while drapey fabrics need a higher ratio.  For the fabric in that picture that looks correct.

I hope that helped. I have a couple japanese books, when I adapted to reading them backwards I found them not too difficult.  Actually, with my dyslexia; reading backwards actually made more sense.
8  CLOTHING / Clothing: Discussion and Questions / Re: Pattern Drafting Book on: March 02, 2008 07:21:33 AM
I have about ten different books and each has a different method of coming up with the so called *perfect* pattern.  I use three more than the others, each serves a different purpose.

For anyone who simply want to make patterns that fit well and can be adapted to whatever she can imagine the Don McCunn's How To Make Sewing Patterns is the stand out.  He used a combination of drafting and draping to achieve a basic block that fits well and can be used as the basis of many fashion garments.  It's the book I use when making patterns for custom design clients.  Because the pattern is done to their measurements and no to any arbitrary standard, it fits right away and it saves me many tedious pattern alterations.  The drawing and photos in the book are a bit dated, but the information is worth the price.  For anyone who wants to make their own sewing patterns, this book can't be beat and it's the one I recommend.

For garments that I sell to boutiques I use Winifred Aldrich's metric pattern cutting system. It's up-to-date in fit and the blocks range from an unfitted shift, to the basic darted sloper to T-shirts.  I have few fit issues with these blocks and they ft a variety of figures with few problems.  For production I need a fit that works for as many body shapes as possible.  It's aimed at the industry, yet it isn't difficult for an experienced sewer to follow.

For sewing patterns, which I'm only beginning to work on, the Fashion Institute of Technology's publishing branch, Fairchild Press is the source for my slopers and blocks.  These are what other commercial patterns are based on, so it makes sense to use the blocks that are most familiar to the most people.  It's very difficult to follow, the techniques are advanced and the books are all very expensive. Prentice Hall also publishes an extensive collection of college level pattern-making text books.  All are expensive and difficult to work through without a teacher guiding you.

I'm not a big fan of older books and vintage pattern books.  The basic slopers are designed for the tightly girdled and bullet bra'd figure, some bodices are designed for ice cream cone shaped torsos, and many are too narrow across the back and shoulders for modern women.  I often see questions here and elsewhere on the internet about the problems someone is having making patterns from these old books and they don't always want to hear what I have to say.  Thye are old and out of print for a reason, and a few simply aren't very good at all.

Here's Don McCunn's site, you can order the book directly from him or it's also available on Amazon.com http://how-to-make-sewing-patterns.deofsf.com/   He has a sample of his technique on the site.  It's the best for the average fashion garment maker.  And he's a great guy, too.

Here's the Amazon page for all of Winifred Aldrich's books.  They are quite clear and easy to read. http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_gw/002-8448902-3652852?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Winifred+Aldrich&x=6&y=20  My favourite is the Men's pattern book, simply because I must make all my one kids clothes since he's six feet eight inches tall and not finished growing.

Finally, here's the FIT book.  It's an excellent book for industry designers, not so great if you just want to make a pattern for a cute t-shirt. http://www.amazon.com/Designing-Apparel-Through-Flat-Pattern/dp/0870057375/ref=pd_sim_b_title_36 

You local library should have copies of most of these books and others.  Take them out, look through them and try to decide which one suits your needs, whether you are going into business, or simply wanting to make a cute top from that cute fabric. Oh yes, none of these have anything about sewing that patterns, they assume you know how to do that.

In conclusion, pattern making is difficult, but not impossible.  It takes time and practice and the ability to move one's mind from three dimensional thought to two dimensional thought quickly and easily and see both ways at the same time.  There's no book that teaches that, sadly. 
9  SEWING IN GENERAL / Sewing in General: Discussion and Questions / Re: First projects. on: February 28, 2008 08:37:17 AM
I teach a "sewing for Beginners" class and my student always enjoy the Kwik Sew patterns that are designed for beginners, the Kwik Start line.  The item range from a now sew blanket to a pillow,to simple, yet stylishly versatile tops, shorts, pants, skirts, and accessories.  The instructions are written for beginners and the resulting items -while not high fashion boutique -are all useful and look quite good.  I encourage my students to follow the pattern exactly the first time and experiment the second time.  I tell them to try to do something that makes it unique, such as colourful topstitch thread, adding a braid trim, choosing a fancier fashion fabric...whichever they choose.

One other thing I recommend to beginners is to practice any new technique on scrap cloth before using the technique in the main project. As we all know, we get better with practice, so it's better to make a few mistakes in  fabric you don't care about then apply the lessons learned to the good fabric.  And making tests and samples is quite professional; it's done by pro dressmakers and it's done in design studios all the time.  I always try anything different in scraps, just in case my bright idea sin't so bright after all.

And finally, don't be afraid to make mistakes along the way. Everyone makes mistakes and has project that never turn out the way we wanted.  Analyze what went wrong, why it went wrong, and then try to figure out how not to do the same thing next time.  I have found I learned more from projects that failed then from projects that presented little to no challenge.  Like some wise craftster has in their profile, "the person who makes no mistakes makes nothing" and from the Mythbusters, "Failure is always an option; it's how we learn what doesn't work and more important: we learn what does work."

Sewing can be fun and sometimes frustrating, but the rewards of having something you can proudly wear and brag that you made it yourself makes it all worthwhile.
10  CLOTHING / Clothing: Discussion and Questions / Re: fabric stores in canada? on: February 20, 2008 08:12:55 AM
Suburbia ontario?  Is it just a bit north and east of the city everyone loves to hate?  Or is it to the west? 

Fabricland is a decent chain of fabric stores.  They carry mid range fashion and decorator fabrics and usually have a good selection of colours, wights and fibers. It's where I often go when I want to make a current season's colour or special fabric.  They are usually up to the minute as far as fashion is concerned, nothing that could be considered last year or last season.  It's a good place for fabrics, notions and patterns.  Fabricland has stores all across Canada.

If you want special fabrics then a trip Downtown Toronto is worthwhile.  There's Designer fabric Outlet, or "the orange bag store" as it's often called.  That was the store used in a couple Project Runway Canada episodes. They have some real bargains sometimes. There's many other fabric stores downtown.  Queen West has several including MacFab's (great for bargains)  and the Wool House, my favourite source for some of the finest wools anywhere.  Dundas, Spadina, and Gerrard all have fabric stores.  Some of these places aren't the prettiest from the outside, but they have amazing fabrics inside.  One of my favourite stores is "Finer Fabrics" which is a stone's throw from Yorkdale Mall on Dufferin in North York.  They have some of the finest quality fashion fabrics I've found anywhere, and they are close to my all time favourite mall, a nice bonus.  Finer Fabrics is quite expensive. If you check out google maps for "fabric stores" and "Toronto"  you can get exact addresses.  it's worth planning a weekend trip to the stores, you will find some unique bargains and unique fabrics.

If you live close to Hamilton then do make a trip to Ottawa Street. There are many fabric stores on Ottawa, from fashion to home dec to quilting stores. You can get almost anything in Hamilton.

Finally, there's good old Len's Mill Store, the best place for bargain shoppers.  They carry a wide variety of fabrics and you never know what you will find.  One day they can have bales of denims, the next day there will be fleece from floor to rafters, another day it could be almost anything.  There'are several Len's around SW Ontario, including one in Hamilton.  The largest is in Cambridge and worth a visit, it's in an old textile mill that reminds me of a Charles Dicken's novel.

The best place for mid-level fashion fabrics and patterns is still Fabricland, it's like Joanne's only with sales help who actually help.

And here's the google maps page for fabric stores in Toronto.

For inexpensive Canadian based webstores, check out Wazoodle, they have plenty of good fabrics at good prices.  They have good service and they are always helpful. http://www.wazoodle.com/
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