Archive for July, 2011

Wardrobe Wrap-Up

July 30th, 2011 10 comments

I did it!  I knocked off (most of)  the pieces I’d planned for my Threads-inspired wardrobe!  Here are the pieces all spread out on my cutting table:
Well, actually, I didn’t make several of the garments I’d planned.  Here’s the list of what I did make:

  1. a dress
  2. a reversible tank top
  3. a skirt
  4. a print tunics
  5. a solid tunic
  6. (7. 8.) three pair of leggings

That’s a set of   eight coordinated garments which can be interchanged a bunch of ways. The total cost of for all eight pieces was under $60 (USD), or about seven dollars and fifty cents a piece.  (Don’t hate  me; I can go to New York City any time and buy inexpensive stretch fabrics!  At least until the fabric district disappears.)

(My original post quoted a likely total cost of about $70, but I had also purchased several yards of a spandex that I didn’t end up using.)

All eight pieces fit into a single packing cube, rolled up like so:

Here it is, all zipped up with a ninth piece added:

This cube is 13.5 inches by 11.5 inches by 3 inches deep — not too big to carry in a large handbag!

The ninth piece wasn’t part of the original plan.  It’s an eggplant-colored wrap that you may be able to suss out on the lower right of the first photo.  I haven’t blogged about it yet.  I take it along to wear when going from 95 degrees into air-conditioning.

In the end, I didn’t follow my plan exactly as originally intended.  Instead of a wrap jacket, and instead of making two long-sleeved tops, I made two sleeveless tunics.  We’re really hurting this summer on the East coast, so “sleeveless” was a much more appealing idea.  The tunics gave me mini-dresses that I can wear alone with the leggings.  Also, I made only one sleeveless shell, but made it reversible.


  • Sewing with a plan is fun!
  • These garments were so quick to sew that the entire wardrobe could have been done on a week’s worth of evenings.  Choosing simple patterns might be a good way to kick start when motivation is lacking.
  • Because this was sort of a kooky project, I let myself experiment with fabrics I wouldn’t necessarily  usually wear.  It’s good to move outside the comfort zone a bit.  (I’m a linen or technical fabrics wench as a rule.)
  • On the other hand, I learned that a tropical spandex print isn’t really “me”, at least not when it involves long sleeves.  My princess dress wears well, but the wild print makes it feel like a whole body tattoo — and all I can’t think about when I’m wearing it is the way those tattoos degrade and become muddy over time, and the way tattoos look a decade later, when skin has morphed.  Not a pretty image; it kind of spoils the dress for me.
  • It’s a lot of fun to be able to sneak 20 minutes and run in and stitch up a pair of leggings!  Verry satisfying!
  • This was a great way to discover and explore a new (to me) pattern line.
  • If the princess dress were made in something a little more, ahem, mature tasteful this wardrobe might carry me almost anywhere. (If it were a little black dress, for example.)
  • Wardrobe in a pocket; I love it!


Making a Reversible Tank

Threads Wardrobe Storyboard

Christine Jonson Princess Dress 1117

Christine Jonson BaseWear One Top 622

Christine Jonson Skirt 1219

Christine Jonson BaseWear One Leggings 622

Tunic/Tank Dress from BaseWear One Pattern 622


July 27th, 2011 6 comments

Sally lives for the day when anybody is sick.

She’s been known to herd people to the bedside, madly hoping one or more will spend the day sick in bed, next to the desperate cat.  A laid-up human!  Oh, the bliss .  .  .

Categories: Misc Tags:

Tunic/Tank Dress from BaseWear One Pattern 622

July 26th, 2011 No comments

I’d originally planned to make a wrap jacket as part of my Threads wardrobe plan, but changed my mind, and decided to make a couple of  sleeveless tunics instead, figuring that I’d get much more use out of them in a summer wardrobe.

I used  the same Christie Jonson pattern as the one I used for my reversible tank top; the only difference is that I lengthened the pattern to turn it into a dress (or tunic).   Here’s one version, with the vee neck worn to the front:

When this pattern is worn backside-to-front, you can see that the armholes are cut in a bit more; it’s a slightly more athletic look worn this way, as you can see here:

This was a very easy alteration to make; I just continued the lines down the side seams, making room for my hips.  The fit is very  nice, and, like the tank itself, the dress was quick and easy to sew.

I like wearing this print in a sleeveless tunic much more than I do in the dress I previously made.  The “less” of the tunic minimizes the “more” of the wild print, making the overall effect less overwhelming.

I’d originally intended to make both of these reversible, but that didn’t work out well.  The two fabrics I used for the solid version — one black, one blue — did not have compatible stretch.  The black side has what I’d consider to be typical spandex stretch — kind of loose, and equal in all four directions.  The blue side (which you can’t see in this post) has a slightly stiffer hand, not quite as much stretch crosswise, and a fair bit less stretch lengthwise, than the black.

Here’s the side with the vee neck:

Because the two fabrics would not lie compatibly, I ended up hacking off the skirt on the blue — the stiffer — side, which gave me a perfectly nice tunic, if not the versatile reversible dress for which I was hoping.  Turning the reverse into a bodice lining saved the garment, but not the reversibility.  Here’s the way it looks with the round-necked “back” worn to the front:

Each garment can still be worn two ways — with the vee neck in front, or the rounded neckline in front — but not by switching off the external and internal fabrics.  It’s two-way versatile, rather than four-way, now.

I didn’t even try to make the print reversible, but the light mesh I used for the lining turned out to have a worrisome tendency to roll toward the main fabric, even though I’d edgestitched carefully all around.   I added an elastic band at the bottom of the lining to keep it in place, rather like the ones used for shelf bras.

Honestly, I knew better than to try to use two incompatible fabrics in a reversible garment.  The blue I ended up discarding was chosen because the color really was perfect for my wardrobe plan.  Color, however, is not the only consideration.  I knew, even when I bought it, that the variation in stretch was likely to be a problem.  (And yet I forged ahead!)  Let this be a lesson to all and sundry!


Making a Reversible Tank

Threads Wardrobe Storyboard

Christine Jonson Princess Dress 1117

Christine Jonson BaseWear One Top 622

Christine Jonson Skirt 1219

Christine Jonson BaseWear One Leggings 622

Wardrobe Wrap-Up

Categories: Dresses, Tops Tags:

Buttons Galore

July 23rd, 2011 6 comments

I think JoAnn’s just supplied me with the button box of my dreams.  It’s sad, though:  At least in my area, JoAnn isn’t  going to carry JHB buttons any longer.  I walked into our local stores and discovered that all JHB buttons were on clearance, priced at 25 cents to 97 cents.

Here’s the haul, spread out on a table:

Guess I won’t be buying buttons for years!  It might be worth a trip to your own local JoAnn to see what you can score, although the walls I encountered were well-stripped even before I got to them — my haul was fron the dregs.

Some dregs!  I’m a happy camper, but sad that this line won’t be locally available any more.

By the way, I stapled like cards together before tossing them in the box.  That way I’ll know exactly how many of each set I have without undertaking a frantic search when I need specific buttons later.

Categories: Misc, Tips Tags:

Christine Jonson BaseWear One Leggings 622

July 22nd, 2011 No comments

My wardrobe plan includes three pair of leggings, all made from cjpatterns‘ BaseWear One pattern.  I cut the black pair just as the pattern was drafted; the cut is very, very skinny, and these are true leggings.   It’s tempting to think that “leggings are leggings”, but these are very nicely shaped, and I’ll probably use this pattern again and again.  Here’s the artsy cjpatterns envelope sketch:

I made the black ones exactly according to the pattern, and they are true leggings:  they fit like slightly loose tights.  I wanted the medium blue ones to be less narrow, so I cut them  about 1.75 inches wider on each side (legs only), thinking that they would be closer to pants-width than to leggings-width.

Naturally, I failed to check my math, or to consider that the medium blue fabric has less stretch than the black;  I ended up with another pair of leggings, not quite as slim as the first ones, but still too slim to wear without tush coverage.There’s even less stretch in the dark blue  knit, so I reduced those seam allowances by an additional 1/4 inch, which worked perfectly, but made them, also, much closer to leggings than to slim pants.

(The image is foreshortened, but you get the idea.  The shoes are Merrell “Barefoot” Pure Glove Mary Janes.)

The pattern is very simple,  and I made only three alterations:  Length, of course, because I’m short (I took some from the thigh, and some from the calf, to keep the proportions right), and I also lowered the waist line in front slightly, to fit my body better.  I also removed the casing allowance from the waist.

Jonson instructs stitchers to use one-inch elastic and make a casing; I don’t like casings in stretch fabrics, so I simply attached the elastic to the right side of the fabric, turned it, and stitched it vertically at center front, back, and sides to hold it in place.  I used one-inch elastic in the black pair, but wide elastic on the medium blue, as I usually prefer it, and treated it the same way.  I did the same thing on the dark blue pair, using inch-and-a-half elastic, but stitched along the lower edge of the elastic to hold it in place.

In my wardrobe scheme, these are really meant mostly as underpinnings for cooler days or evenings, so there’s not much chance I’ll post a picture of them actually on me you only get to see the lower legs here.  At least not one showing the tush area.  They’d be fine in exercise class, but probably attract too much of the wrong kind of attention anywhere else.

7/23/2011: Updated to add images, because I realized I had a couple of decent (non-tush) photos!


Threads Wardrobe Storyboard

Christine Jonson Princess Dress 1117

Christine Jonson Basewear One Top 622

Christine Jonson Skirt 1219

Christine Jonson BaseWear One Leggings 622

Tunic/Tank Dress from BaseWear One Pattern 622

Wardrobe Wrap-Up


Categories: Christine Jonson, Pants Tags:

Tilton “Original”? Vogue 8761

July 17th, 2011 8 comments

Have you seen this new Marcy Tilton pattern, Vogue 8761?

Have you ever noticed the logo in the upper right corner?  It’s Marcy Tilton’s logo:

If you can’t read the small print under, it says “Vogue Patterns Designer Original”.  Vogue, and Marcy Tilton, want you to know that you’ve just paid for something special:  an original design by a “designer”.  This is (allegedly) something you can’t get anywhere else.

On the back of the pattern, you can see this:

It says:  “SOLD FOR INDIVIDUAL HOME USE ONLY AND NOT FOR COMMERCIAL OR MANUFACTURING PURPOSES ONLY.”  There’s a copyright notice above this line; that means that Marcy Tilton and Vogue own this design, and no one else can profit from it.

Well, that seems fair, doesn’t it?  Marcy Tilton (and Vogue) are selling you the right to make items from this pattern just for your own personal use.

They are reserving the right to make money off this design, because it’s their own, original design.  Marcy Tilton has put sweat, effort, and presumably, development expense, into designing this pattern so that she can sell it, first to Vogue, and then to you.

EXCEPT  .  .  .   EXCEPT that when I bought this pattern, I was wearing this bag, which a fantastic company named Baggallini has sold for years:

This is the Baggallini Uptown bag.  That shiny plate on the front says “Baggallini”.

And, at that moment, at home in my closet, was this bag:

(Yeah, all rumpled.  It didn’t know it was going to get its picture taken today.)

This one’s my favorite Baggallini bag of all time, the Milano, which Baggallini was selling a long time before this Tilton pattern became available this month.

Baggallini is an interesting company.  It was started by stewardesses who wanted better purses for travel.  You know, just people who had a good idea and thought they might grow a business from it.  Kind of like what a designer might do, too, when starting out — imagine things, create them, and grow a business.

At first, Baggallini  offered very utilitarian bags, but in recent years, they’ve gotten more adventuresome, and now offer new, more fashionable, lines.  The Milano, above, is from their trendiest, the “International Collection”.  Apparently, it’s catching quite a few eyes.

Here’s the line drawing for the Tilton pattern:

The differences between the Tilton “designs” and the Baggallini bags are inconsequential.  Vogue/Tilton have even used exactly the same, somewhat unusual, closure for the view B bag as the one that is sold on the Baggallini Milano.

These two bags in the Vogue pattern are not “original” in any sense of the word.  The “designs” were Baggalini before they were “Tilton”.

Although both Tilton and Vogue license this pattern under terms that do not allow you to profit from their work, they apparently, have no problem profiting from someone else’s labor and development, themselves.  They just don’t want to be the ones ripped-off.

Nothing in the pattern, on the Tilton site, or on Vogue’s site, indicates that this pattern is authorized, or licensed, by Baggallini.

This is a particularly interesting situation since it calls into question the value of the Marcy Tilton brand.  What kind of “designer” offers previously marketed work and repackages it as his or her own?

Any one of us might buy a Baggallini bag and copy it.  Home stitchers do this, or some variation of it, all the time.  BUT IF THEY ARE ETHICAL PEOPLE, THEY DO NOT SELL PRODUCTS MADE FROM OTHER’S DESIGNS. And this isn’t a case of someone making one of something for personal use; it’s a case of a “designer” selling something that looks virtually identical to something already on the market, made by another company entirely. And backed by a major publishing house.

This example is particularly interesting, too, because not one, but TWO, unoriginal designs are sold in this pattern envelope — both, seemingly, from the same source.

Marcy Tilton is not a home sewer; she is a person who has made her name, and her livelihood, on theoretically original designs that she creates.  When you buy a Tilton pattern, you are buying Marcy Tilton’s “vision”, her aesthetic:  Something, theoretically, you can’t find elsewhere.  Except, it seems, when you can.

It makes me wonder if somebody saw all those Etsy sellers getting ripped off, and decided that, really, it was OK to lift whatever would sell, because who, really, would notice?

I did.  I have a closet full of Baggalini bags, and I love them.  I buy them because they are clever, stylish, and easy to wear and use. Apart from ethical and legal considerations, Baggalini deserves more respect than this.

And there’s that other nagging question:  Why design at all if you can just take what others have already done and claim it as your own?

If there’s a good explanation for this I’d just love to hear it.

Update 7/18/2011:  A reader has written to let me know that there is a link to Baggallini on Tilton’s website.  Tilton recommends the Baggallini Rolling Tote on her “Life Tools” page.

This confirms that Tilton is familiar with Baggallini products.

The mystery regarding the release of two designs that so closely mirror Baggallini’s, under the Tilton name, without any mention of Baggallini, still baffles.  It’s odd that the designs are so obviously similar, yet no explanation is offered.  This seems a strange choice when the lack of an acknowledged link is virtually guaranteed to raise questions.

Categories: Bags, Misc Tags:

Making a Reversible Tank

July 6th, 2011 5 comments

Trena asked me to share my method for making reversible sleeveless tops like the ones in my wardrobe plan.  I’m glad she did, because when I sat down to make the one right after her request, I completely blanked on how to make this thing work!  So, as much for my sake as anyone else’s, here’s how it goes.  (These instructions are for knit fabrics; without a closure, you’ll need the stretch to get in and out of your garment.)  Here’s the first one I made:

To prepare:  Select a tank top (or dress) pattern and do any alterations needed.  If you use one like Christine Jonson’s BaseWear One Top 622, one reversible top will give you four looks, since the back and front can be reversed, as well as the inner and outer fabrics.  (Check to see if you need to make any alterations to the back to allow room for your bust first, though.)

But on with the instructions:

First, cut out two complete tanks, front and back.  No facings or bindings; just the fronts and backs.  You’re essentially lining your tank, so  you won’t need those extras.  (You could make a tank top or a tank dress using this method, but for simplicity’s sake, I’m just going to use the word “tank” to cover both.). You will need seam allowances, though, so if your pattern calls for binding, make sure you’ve added the seam allowance you prefer before cutting.

Sew only the side seams together. Here they are, both layers, with only the side seams stitched:

Arrange the tanks so that the right sides are together, one tank inside the other.  Stitch around both armholes and both necklines (front and back). DO NOT stitch the shoulder seams!  Here are the tanks with just the armholes and necklines stitched. They’re arranged so that you can see the black contrast, but the two tanks are now joined:

Beginning with the garment lying flat as in the picture above, take one shoulder strap, and pull it out of the garment so that you are looking at the right sides of that one strap.  You should have one strap that is wrong side out, some fabric bunched in the middle, and one strap right side out:

(Sorry, I’m all about the sewing, not so much about the photography.  What we’ve got here is the “wrong side out strap” on the left, the bunched tank fabric in the middle, and the “right side out strap” on the right.)

Update: Same view of another tank, same position:

Hold onto the “right side” strap and push it through INTO the “wrong side” strap.  Make sure the CORRECT strap pieces are meeting!  Don’t do any crossovers here .  .  .  keep those straps on the correct side of your garment.

Notice what just happened?  You’ve got “right-sides-to-right-sides” for one shoulder strap.  Just what you want!

Update: Here’s a view of a different top, from a different angle, looking down into the same strap as the one shown above, after the edges have been evened up:

Trim before you stitch; you’ll be glad you did.

Your straps will be open at the top of the armhole shoulders, and there will be a seam going from the bottom of the armhole to the hem of your garment.  If that seam’s not in the right place .  .  .  weeeelllll, then you’re probably joining a neckline instead of an armhole.  Don’t do that!

Make the edges of the straps even, matching the seams carefully, and making sure that your straps haven’t twisted, and that each fabric is right side to itself.  Both sides of my black fabric are right sides together; ditto for the blue sides.  Black to black, blue to blue. (Update:  Print to print, solid to solid.) You’ll see that you’ve made a small circle with the straps, and you can look down into the tube that will soon be the inside of your finished tank straps. (Update:  Exactly as in the updated image above.)

Baste, pin, or take your chances — your straps are now ready to stitch!

Stitch all around the tiny circle you’ve made with your “right sides together” straps.  Don’t be misled by the photo below:  DO NOT stitch across all four strap layers.  It looks as if that’s what I did here — NOT SO!  You should be stitching only TWO layers all around the top of your straps, forming a tube, NOT closing the tube by sewing it shut.

This is what the stitching looks like, finished and folded so that the two contrasting sides show:

Repeat for the second strap.

Then reach inside your tank, and turn it right side out.  Voilà!  All you have left to do is edge-stitch around the armholes and neckline and then hem all around.

A few tips:

  • I let my hems float freely; sometimes I cut one side longer, so that I have a stripe effect at the bottom of one side.  This eliminates the “how on earth do I get the hems to stay perfectly in line?” problem.
  • Putting lightweight, nylon snaps between layers at the side seams (or even along the hems, for a tank dress) can help keep floating hems aligned, yet let you separate the layers for faster drying.  (Great for travel!)
  • If you’re using a serger, change your outside needle’s thread to match one side of your tank, and then serge with that side facing up.  (I’m assuming the rest of your cone threads will be consonant with your second color.)  That way, if your seams flex, it’s more likely that any thread color showing will match the side being worn.
  • When edge-stitching, use one contrast in the bobbin, and one in the machine needle.  Check your tension carefully to be sure that your stitches are even, and that the opposing color isn’t showing through on the contrast side.
  • Better yet, choose either two prints for your tank, making sure that they share at least one color that you can use for stitching all over (hides a multitude of sins), or use one solid and one consonant print.  Either choice will be more forgiving when it comes to edge-stitching:  Use the solid color for edge-stitching, and it should disappear into the consonant print on the other side.
  • If you don’t want a reversible tank, you can use this method to line a tank with a lightweight mesh.  It’s faster than binding, and gives a really professional look to your finished garment.
  • If you’re into color-blocking, use a different color for each of the four sides of your tank.  Your backs and fronts won’t match, but you’ll have that many  more looks, and you might like the effect!

This whole process may seem counter-intuitive, and may be confusing the first time you try it, especially if you’re impatient!  But it’s actually very easy to do, and, once you understand it, very easy to repeat, especially if you bookmark this page!

Update 7/19/2011: Two additional photos to (hopefully) clarify things.

Categories: Dresses, Tips, Tops Tags: