Monday, November 1, 2010

Pinking Shears

Besides the sewing machine- the one thing I really wanted from my mom's sewing stash was her pinking shears.  I thought they were the coolest.  I begged and begged, but she hardly let me touch them- let alone possess them.

So here I am 30 years later and I am finally the proud owner of my very own pair of pinking shears!  Why did I break down and buy them?  Well it has to do with this terrible taffeta I am working with.  While I love the sheen and look of the fabric- I hate working with it.  It runs easily and is very unforgiving.  I think I mentioned in my last post that I have resorted to using a fine ballpoint needle to sew it with.  It still runs, but to the seam allowance only, so far anyway. 

I only paid about $14 total for the fabric, so I guess there is my first clue that it might not be high quality.  The funny thing is- I wasn't looking to save money- I just liked the color and the polka dots.  Now I wish I had gone with the silk duiponi I was eyeing (the problem there was I couldn't decide on a color.)

Oh- I digress- back to the pinking shears.  The reason for the pinking shears is that after a little research, I deducted that the best way to finish the seams and to help stop any unraveling- is to use pinking shears.  My serger is out of whack and frankly I am scared to let it touch the taffeta.  I would use french seams, but since the fabric is so unforgiving- I was afraid of making a big mistake with the combination of princess seams sewn with french seams.  I am sure that it IS doable?  I just don't trust myself to that one.

cute- but somewhat unwieldy
So pinking shears it is!  They are very cute and they cost me about $22.  I have a feeling I will go back eventually and spring for some nicer ones.  Either that or order some Ghingers. Speaking of which- I am still waiting on my spring loaded Ghingers I ordered last month.  That- and the boning I need for the dress.  It supposed to be here this week.  I tried finding some last week- but to no avail.  I then emailed Yoshimi from Yoshimi The Flying Squirrel.  Not only is she a talented and prolific seamstress, but very sweet and helpful as well.  She has armed me with a translation for boning to show the salespeople.  And she also suggested a couple of stores in Nippori.  I may be taking a trip to Tokyo this weekend!

Wish me luck.  I have less than two weeks now.  The good news is, I have several back-up (RTW) dresses on hand.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Happy Tuesday!  Well I thought I was done with the dress I was altering for my girlfriend.  She tried it on and the zipper is stuck, stuck.  She had to take it off over her head.  It was the lining.  So my thought it- should I have sewed given more room for the lining- it is flush against the zipper teeth.  Or should I used some fusing to stick the lining to the zipper tape to keep it from getting caught in the zipper?  I REALLY don't want to take the zipper out, I really don't.  I still have to get the dang thing unstuck too, erggg.

I have the taffeta cut out for my dress- Vogue 7848.  I did some test runs on a piece of scrap fabric and found that that even with a fine tipped needle- it makes little 'runs' to the edge.  So I switched to a ball point.  I would have never thought to do that and felt like I was breaking some sort of rule to use a ball point on woven.  But I did a little research and it looks like it is a good alternative.  I probably could use a finer tip needle (I forget what the numbers are- I have to look them up every time)- but I would have to order them and I don't want to wait.  However- I still need that boning I ordered from Joann's.  It is funny- I made a small order- should be here quickly.  But it is taking longer than the dress form I ordered!

On another note- I am thinking about discontinuing this blog.  My dream for this blog just isn't coming to fruition and I think I may be putting too much energy into something that is just not going to happen.  I think I might just post pictures of my projects on my other blog, and leave it at that.  The reason I didn't do that in the first place was because I was afraid of boring people with my babbling about sewing.  But I think I can just leave it to posting a few pics and then moving on.  If I become more prolific and develop a sort of following from there- than maybe I will try again with a sewing only blog.  But this really isn't happening for me.  I think I will leave this up for a couple more months- than maybe go "off-air" after that.  Somethings are just not meant to be, and this hasn't felt very organic to me, if you know what I mean.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cherry Limeade Coat completed

I couple of weeks ago I blogged about the coat I started for Sissy.  I have since named it the 'cherry limeade' coat- due to the color and pattern- and the fact that I drank a million cherry limeades from Sonic when I was preggo with Sissy.

Well I finished it (the coat) last week.  I just realized that it is really the first coat, with lining to boot, that I have ever made.  Everything was fairly easy except for the hem.  I don't know why exactly- but the hem really kicked my behind!  It is a Simplicity pattern from Threads that I used. 

 I was really surprised that it didn't have better directions for the hem, and also for the princess seams on the coat lining and facing.  I couldn't find buttons that I liked so I bought a covered button kit and made my own to match.  This is my second time making the covered buttons- if I had known how easy they are- I would have been making them long before now!

I am not sure if I like the coat?  It may be TOO loud?  She hasn't worn it yet- it is really a coat to wear with a dress and boots- like the picture on the pattern envelope.  The important part is that SHE loves it.  I know I say this all of the time- but the smile on her face when I make her something makes it all worth it.  She is so proud to wear my creations.

not sewn on yet- just laying out the buttons to see how they would look.  I almost did them in the polka dot- I am tempted to make some just to see- it's easy to change buttons after all...

I swear the hem is even!  I think maybe the front facing needs to lose some of the interfacing, it is too stiff at the bottom and doesn't hang quite right.  Any suggestions?

my favorite part- the lining!  you can see the dark green bias tape I used for the hem as well- not entirely happy with it.
I am on a polka dot kick apparently.  The dress I am now working on (the purple taffeta), has black polka dots.  Today Jaime and I hit up Yuzawaya and we found some super cute satin for the girls' Halloween costumes- Sissy's is orange with black polka dots and her BFF's is purple with black polka dots.  I am making skirts to go with their kitty ears and tails... 

I just realized I forgot the tulle!  That is reason enough to go back to Yuzawaya.  If you ever visit Japan- you MUST hit up Yuzawaya.  They have EVERYTHING.  Everything.  I found out there is a really big one about an hour from me- it is on  my list as a future weekend excursion.

It is a great start to my weekend! 


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Japanese fabric love

I know- it is silly.  I have been here over a year and only just recently bought fabric!  I was intimidated by the whole language barrier.  Last week I FINALLY got brave and grabbed a couple of bolts and took them to the cutting table.  I was at my favorite store- Yuzawaya.  If you have read my other posts you know I absolutely love that store!!  And I am not sure if it is just that I hadn't noticed before- but the fabric selection has become plain heavenly!

My intention was to buy some black satin to make a quick bag to take the Navy Ball with me.  So I found the sale section and picked up a beautiful black brocade- just beautiful.  I also picked up the cutest cotton border print with lovely little geishas on it.

I handed the brocade bolt over first and informed the man I wanted two meters.  He then proceeded to ask if I was sure- after all the price was about $30 a meter.  OOPS!  I must have been looking at a different tag.  Smart man, he knew I didn't want to pay that much!  I was mighty embarassed as I couldn't explain to him what had happened due to the language barrier and all.  gah

Yuzawaya has 5 floors of loveliness.  So I travelled upstairs and proceeded to find  another  lovely pattern book to my collection.  Have I overused the word "lovely"?

On my way back down I checked to see if the same man was still working the cutting tables.  He was not.  So I found another black satin with a dragon design (this one only $11/meter), and had two meters cut by the nice lady that had taken the man's place.

I ended up not having the time to make a bag.  I think deep down I knew that would be the case.  I was just using it as an excuse for fabric acquisition.  Whatever works, right?  I am still deeply disturbed at how much money I have spent at, and how little I have to show for it (meaning finished projects, not the overflowing closet of fabric.)

Why can't I be more prolific at this whole sewing thing?  Of course I do have a busy life!  While in Japan I am trying to monopolize on the fact that I don't work full time- and use that extra time for sewing.

I did finish the cherry limeade coat (pictures to follow in my next post), and now I am working on altering a friend's dress.  After that I need to get moving on my own dress for the Khaki Ball next month.  Hubby is actually excited that I am making it.  I feel now that I can't let him down!

On top of that, I really want to make Sissy a quick new costume as well.  She found some kitty ears and matching tail the other day.  The kitty ears have an orange satin witches hat attached to them.  How cute would it be if i made a quick little skirt made from black and orange sating to match?  She could wear it with black tights and a black top.  Easy peasy right?  I think tomorrow may be another Yuzawaya day.  I will be more careful about checking prices this time...

Don't you just love this print??  It is a cotton woven with little bits of a sort of swiss dot texture to it.  I am sure there is a name for it- I am not that well schooled in textiles apparently...

I found another pattern book as well.  I LOVE these patterns!  And in it I found the perfect dress for the geisha girl fabric:

front cover, I swear these pattern books could double as coffee table books...
back cover- this little girl is just too cute

I think this will suit the geisha girl fabric perfectly, don't you?

all the patterns included in the book- love love love...

So- I need to learn how to get by without sleep or how to add more hours into my day.  Any ideas?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Shopping on Arab Street in Singapore

Back in August, I had the extreme pleasure to visit Singapore while my Hubby was in port there.  Being the fabric-phile that I am- I did some research beforehand on where to buy some fabric. 

Hubby and I found Kampong Glam after an hour of walking in the wrong direction.  Kampong Glam- also known as Arab Street- is home to the beautiful Sultan Mosque.  I did not go inside the Mosque myself- I wasn't sure of the etiquette and rules so I was happy to just take pictures from the outside.  I have never heard the call to prayer before, it was a truly unique experience for me.

Arab Street is the home to numerous, and I mean NUMEROUS, fabric stores.  I could kick myself for not getting a picture of how they display the fabric.  To entice the customer they will drape the fabric over a mannequin or dress form.  There were so many stores and so many fabrics to choose from- I was literally overwhelmed.  I knew I would bore Hubby to death if I decided to shop all of the stores- so I decided to go back on my own- after the ship had pulled back out.

So after Hubby left for the big blue ocean again, I consoled my breaking heart by buying some beautiful silk fabric...

I bought 3 meters, it has such a lovely drape- I am scared to cut it!

I should have bought 3 meters, but only got 2.  I love the colors- the picture doesn't do justice.
Shopping the stores was a blast.  The salespeople are crazy!  They know their trade very well and could get you to buy your own shoes if you let them.  The saleslady I bought the silk from kept trying to get me to buy more 'meterage' (is that the right term?  I am used to saying "yardage").  I should have listened to her when it came to the border print- but I should be ok.  I plan on making a skirt with it.

I also bought another border print cotton.  I have to find where I stashed it so I can take a picture.  It is an Indian like print.

They also sell rugs, jewelry, baskets, and pashminas up and down the street.  The rugs were beautiful- but they wouldn't fit into my suitcase! ha ha

Entrance to Arab Street

bolts and bolts of fabric- too many to choose from!!

I bought an Indian-print skirt here.  The couple who own the store were so sweet!

Sultan Mosque

Courtyard behind the Mosque.  There were a bunch of shops selling beautiful silk garments and a lot of "boutique" fashions- including a lot of recycled/re-fashioned clothing.  I had already bought too much by the time I found this area.  Maybe next year??
I hope to go again next year- and I will be sure to bring an empty suitcase with me- "just in case".

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Looking at the next project...

I am so close to finishing Sissy's coat, but the hem kicking my butt!  The lining fits beautifully in the coat- but I just can't give it a decent hemming!  As it has been unseasonably warm, I have not been too inspired to finish the darned thing.  I have already taken the hem out at least 3 times and have shortened it a bit as well.  My goal is to finish it by next week.  I just need to swallow a big dose of patience and work it out!  Then all that will be left are the sleeves and the buttons/buttonholes.  I think I am going to do covered buttons.

I mentioned in my last post I have another project in the works.  It is a cute little party dress, I really hope the fabric is as cute as it looks online...

Iridescent Flocked taffeta from

Vogue V7848
I am going to make View C- though I may omit the ribbon if I can't find something I like.  I may shorten it a bit as well, but not too much.  While I wait on the fabric, I will work on the muslin.  And guess what?  I actually HAVE real unbleached muslin in my stash!  I thought I only had a small piece, but it turns out I have about 3 yards worth.  I can't even tell you how long I have had it- it probably came from Woolworths or Newburys (anyone remember those stores?)

Note to self- don't look at your order history for  I can't believe I have spent that MUCH money!  *faints*

Rolling hems and Barbie wedding gowns

I faced my fears this week.  I love to sew obviously, but I do get intimidated by certain fabrics.  One of them is chiffon.  I have a big formal event coming up- like I mentioned in a previous post.  I would have liked to make my dress, but I knew I did not have the time or the resources.  So I ordered this beautiful dress from Nordstrom, crossing my fingers that it would get here on time and actually fit!

JS Boutique chiffon dress from Nordie's
Isn't is pretty?  I was not disappointed when it arrived.  It fit beautifully and it drapes so very nicely.  Of course it was 3 inches too long.  I think they are all made super long, hemming it was unevitable.  I almost sent it back.  In fact, I even boxed it up.  I was too scared to cut the dress and then attempt to give it a decent hemming.  The dress cost $178.  To me, that is beaucoup money and frankly I am surprised at myself for spending that money!

Seing that I am in Japan- there is no way I can find a dress in my price range to wear to the Navy Ball.  Long evening gowns are a rare sight in Japan- and the ones that can be found are very expensive.  In fact, did you know that Japanese brides do not buy their wedding gowns?  They almost always rent their dresses.  The rent two- one for the ceremony and one for the reception.  And- get this- there is a line of Barbie wedding gowns!  Seriously- Barbie- like the fashion doll.  I know this because my daughter had an audition for the fashion show last year (she didn't get the job though.)  They had black and white striped dresses, so different than what I normally think of as a wedding gown.  Here's a little clip from one of the fashion shows...

Isn't that wild?   Back to the subject on hand- my dress.  I decided to put on my big girl panties and go ahead and shorten it.  For the chiffon, since I didn't want to mark the cutting lines with chalk and I didn't trust my eyes to cut evenly, I used my see through rulers and my rotary cutter.  I felt like I was breaking some kind of rule using a rotary cutter on chiffon, but honestly it was the best method for me.  It did snag the fabric once or twice, but nothing I couldn't fix.  For the china silk lining I used my good ol' tailors chalk.  I order it online from Sew True.  Those friendly folks are so kind to mail to FPO's (military post office boxes.)

After trying on my dress, I realized that even when I hemmed it, it would still be too long.  So I took another inch off.  I then did a little reading in my Reader's Digest Guide to Sewing.  It's funny- it was my text book from when I took clothing construction in college (in 1993)- but I never really looked at it until this past year.  I am not sure why, but it took me that long to realize what valuable information that book has!

It wasn't so hard to do the hemming, only at the corners of the front and back panels did I have a little trouble.  My thread was too light as well (times like these I miss having a Joann's nearby).  But you know what?  It turned out just fine!  I can't wait to wear it this weekend.  I'll be sure to post pictures.  I would like to say I made the whole dress- but for now I am content to say I hemmed it. ;)

rollin' with the hem, or sewing a rolled hem- ha ha

You know, I think I am going to buy a rolled hem foot for my machine now...

Did I mention I found some stinkin' cute shoes to wear with the dress?  My daughter got to model them for everyone to see:

ok- you can't see the shoes very well- but I love the way she turned her feet in here- she was having fun!

you can see the rose detail a little better here

there go the toes again!
Yesterday I ordered polka-dot taffeta for the event I am going to next month.  I'll post the pattern and fabric swatch next time...