Archives for the month of: October, 2013

Spent all of Friday at the Creativ Festival.  Did a bit of shopping and 2 classes.

First class was with Janet Pray of Islander Sewing Systems, called “Kick it up a Notch.”  She presented info to help improve your sewing, and covered things like understanding how the feed dogs on your sewing machine affect your seam, great top stitching, and no-gap fronts on V-neck tops.  Most of it I had learned in the Craftsy class she does, called Sew Better, Sew Faster.  Her techniques are really good, especially if you’re ready to start improving your sewing skills.

Second class was “Pants: No Fail Front Fly Zipper” with Maria Calautti.  She called it her “goof proof” method of zippers, but I was half brain dead so goofed at all 6 steps.  Got the gist, though.

Every year, Creativ Festival offers workshops in all kinds of creative arts including knitting, beadwork, fiber arts, scrapbooking, sewing and more.  The value is that you can immerse yourself in your favorite craft, and expand your learning in a short period of time. It’s a great way to pick up hints and tips, and to create samples of specific techniques.

The other reason I go is for the trade show.  There’s a pretty extensive list of vendors with booths at the show, so you get a chance to find out who sells the supplies you need for your hobby.  Over the years, the makeup of the vendors has changed:  when I started going in 1989, sewing was much more popular.  Now, beading, quilting and scrapbooking are very popular, although knitting is holding its own.  Sewing, not as much, but it’s hanging in there.

Many vendors offer hands-on experiences in their booths, which is a great way to try things out.  Of course the sewing machine manufacturers are there, so you can try every type of machine imaginable.  Some of the big names in yarn were there (think Rowan), plus big stores like Michaels.  You could try beading, knitting, soap making, scrapbooking, weaving, spinning (my head is spinning!).

Needless to say, I think it’s a pretty good event.  If you’ve never tried it, I encourage you to visit and see what’s coming up next spring, or fall.


Yesterday, I was at day 1 of the Creativ Festival, taking the all-day class “Achieve a Better Fit:  Pants” with Robert Wylie.  Using Vogue 1003 fitting shell, we drafted a pants block based on our unique shapes – the class was all women, and all shapes and sizes.  The pattern size was chosen based on our hip measurements.  I’ve been trying to make a pair of pants that fit forever, so flat pattern adjustments aren’t new to me.  But there were some good learning points and interesting moments:

1.  Most of the pattern companies base their pants pattern on the same block, so if you get a good fit from the Vogue block pattern, you can apply it to all other pants patterns.  You’ll use the block to identify what to change on the pants pattern – you make the same changes to the pants pattern as you did to the block.

2. If you’re struggling to get pants to fit well, it’s really worth taking a class – not only will you have time to learn, but it’s a real learning experience to see what adjustments mean to different body shapes.

3.  Getting the grain line on the front and back are critical, as they allow you to line your block up with commercial patterns to adjust them to fit (these also equate to the fold line for ironing).  To get the grain line, fold the pattern piece in half – line up the bottom hem line right at the edges, while making sure that the crotch line (that stretches horizontal across the pattern piece) stays lined up on the horizontal line.  You won’t be folding each piece in half exactly – it’s in half at the bottom, but the top might vary, based on your unique shape.  The key is to create a grain line that’s perpendicular to the crotch line (or hip line), that bisects the pattern piece exactly in half at the hem line.  Think about what it’s like to iron slacks – the outside and inside seam never line up exactly, which should be a hint that the pieces don’t get folded exactly in half all the way up.  Of course, you’ll need to do this on the commercial pattern, as not all grainlines are marked in the correct place.

Once you have your grain line, you can see whether centre front and centre back is on the grain line – if not, and if you’re making slacks from stripes or plaids, you’ll have to do some pattern matching in these areas.

4.  If you need to increase your crotch length (A Fashionable Stitch has a good description) make sure you walk the seams on the inseam after you’ve made your changes – you might need to lengthen the front or back inseam length at the hemline.  This means your hemline might be uneven.  On my pants front, the hem was 1/2″ longer on the inseam side of the pattern. The extra length is taken up when the seams are sewn together.  This means that if you’re doing a plaid, it will be noticeable that the hem is not on the cross grain of the fabric and the plaid won’t line up at the seams.  Robert’s suggestion was to make a separate cuff, matching the plaids, then attach it.

(Walking a seam means lining up the pattern pieces all along the seam, as if you were pinning them to sew.  It’s a way of making sure that the length of each pattern piece is the same.  We all know what it’s like to sew a skirt or pants, and have one piece longer than the other…which one is right?  Walking the seam on the pattern usually lets you see that so you can adjust properly).

In a 6-hour session, we did all the mods to the pattern block, and tissue fitted – it’s not a trivial exercise, but if you can get pants that fit well, it’s certainly worth it.  After the festival is over, I’ll make a toile from the block and analyze the fit again. So, more to come…

Any fashionista will tell you it’s hard work keeping up on what’s in style. But what she’ll also tell you is that it’s pure pleasure to page through a fashion magazine, scroll through an online catalog, read some of the many blogs. One of my favorites was to watch Jeanne Beker on Fashion Television, which sadly is no longer produced. But the internet is filling that void in a big way!

Following another blogger – une femme d’un certain age – I discovered a link to The Edit ezine, by Net-a-Porter. This issue has a great video on wearing the current trends in coats, including big coats, duffel coats, pea coats and more. Most of the clothing on this site is out of my price range, but you can learn a lot from looking at the clothing and how it is styled – then applying it to clothing that fits your budget.

Why not take a quick look yourself – maybe you’ll find a different way to wear something, or some inspiration for this weekend! Happy Friday!

Casual Capsule Outfit #1: A Little Bit Cheeky!

Casual Capsule Outfit #1: A Little Bit Cheeky! by melaniemac featuring black knee high heel boots

Ann Taylor Grisaille Suit

Ann Taylor Grisaille Suit by melaniemac featuring a knife pleated skirt

Ann Taylor sweater

Ann Taylor blouse

Ann Taylor top

Ann Taylor top

Ann taylor jacket

Ann Taylor pants

Ann Taylor jeans


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