Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Experiment ...

Since I've lost weight (35 pounds), I don't wear men's shirts to cover up anymore. Still, I really love the fabrics & colors of men's wear shirts. So I thought I would try to document reworking one of the shirts to fit me for real. I purchased the shirts at Dillard's when they have their 75% off sales. You can get some really nice fabric for cheap; anywhere from $12 to $25. There is no way you can get these nice Italian cottons for that price anywhere on the Internet (which is where I usually have to shop). I usually buy a large (the neck size is close to fitting me) so this is what I'm going to start working with. If your were going to do this, I would suggest trying on the shirts and buying the neck size that comes close to fitting you. If you are larger on the bottom, I would purchase a size that will fit that area. I'm going to use my favorite Kwik Sew pattern #3555 for the fronts and back pattern pieces.

Experiment - Back

I started by removing all of the inside labels on the back yoke since its not going to be their shirt when I get done with it. I'll be applying my own label when the time comes. Then I removed the sleeves and took out the side seams. This is easier said that done because of all the extra stitching to take out. This particular shirt has a back yoke and I found that laying the pattern on the back that I would have to remove the back yoke seam so my pattern will fit. Ugh. This involved ripping out the top stitching along with the seam itself. But the seam allowances were already in place making the insertion of the back very easy. This picture shows the back removed from the shirt and the pattern laid out.

Experiment - Front

I kept the fronts attached to the yoke and collar. I laid each front and aligned the enter front of the pattern with the center of the buttonholes and then cut it out. Also you can see the yoke laid out to the right. This is how I figured out how much to cut in for the armholes.

Experiment - Partial put together

In this photo, I've reattached the back to the back yoke at the seam and done the topstitching & have pinned the side seams to test the fitting against my dummy. Not bad looking so far.

Experiment - Details, details

Here is a couple of pictures showing some of the really nice detail on this shirt. The under collar shows how they insert stays for the collar. Not that we need stays in our collars, but the workmanship is really, really nice.

The next one is this really nice feature of a beautiful tab in the hem on the side the buttonholes were sewn in. Of course I had to cut if off, but I still think its neat. Why don't we get neat little things like this in Women's wear? Unless you go to a designer, you just don't see this kind of work.

Experiment - Sleeves

I forgot to take a picture with the pattern laid out on the sleeve, but here it is after I cut it out. I did not take the cuffs off the sleeve. I roll my sleeves up even in the dead of winter so it wasn't important to me that the cuffs fit me exactly. Although in this case, they actually do fit fairly well.

Experiment - the finale

I've finished inserting the sleeves, sewing side seams, top stitching and a very narrow hem. The narrow hem was done using a new technique for me. I sewed a line of stitching very close (1/8inch) away from the edge of the shirt. Then pressed it up once. Pressed it up again; sewed it up using a short stitch (2.0mm). No puckering, no tucks, just a nice flat professional looking hem. Now realize, in reworking this shirt, I've avoided making the collar, collar stand, cuffs and the button and buttonholes. That's a lot of work saved. If you like a tailored look without a lot work, this could be the way to go.

I'm pleased with the results. I have a few more shirts that'll be done the same way.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Drapes Center

Here's a close up of the center medallion that I embroidered with our initials. It was a fun project with one exception. I found out if I ever want to make drapes again, I'll definitely need BIGGER tables. Remember, the center piece is a pretty sage green not gray. The pattern is Simplicity 5865 and I just lengthened the side pieces to reach just below my window. LOL

New Drapes

We redecorated our dining room this year and the last thing to be done was the drapes because I just couldn't find anything I liked. So I came up with the bright idea that I should make my own. I've never made drapes before. So then finding a pattern became a priority. I found a pattern similar to what I wanted that I could alter easily and this is how they turned out. The lining and the center piece turned gray from the camera. They are really a pretty sage green. I made these in March or April.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Sewing Room Closet #1

I thought it might be nice to put up pictures of my sewing room/studio. Its a pretty large room, 15 X 16; especially for a house this old. I'll start with the worst first. This closet is full of quilting and garment fabrics. Its overflowing and I need to exert more self control when it comes to collecting. Tee hee. I don't think so! My more recent purchases are piled on top of the wire bins. They need a nice new bin too.

Closet #2

This closet is side by side with the first closet and they are open inside between the two. There are bookshelves holding almost all of my sewing, quilting and Threads mags in that open space between the 2 closets. There are 9 plastic bins with part of my fabric stash. I know its not much compared to the stashes some of you have but I NEED more bins! It (fabric) is starting to pile up and soon it'll start sliding all over the place.


I'm a Babylock freak. lol All but one of my machines are Babylock. Here sits my Ellegante and my Ellisimo. On the far wall is more thread storage and temporary storage for all the rolls of stabilizer I've collected. I'm going out on Saturday to look for a few wire or plastic milk cartons square deals to replace the hanging sweater deal.

Cluttered, cluttered...

This table is about 15 years old and DH has repaired it a number of times. I really need to get a new cutting table one day. What you can't see is the area on one side where the stupid iron leaked all over it one night. Now its got permanently raised lumps on it. That particular iron has gone to iron hell, where all bad irons go. I go through an iron every year or two it seems. My latest is the Rowenta Focus. Its a nice iron except I keep banging the temp dial with my knuckles. Arghh! There's always a feature that ticks me off. The last one had a timer that shut it off; of course, just about when I needed to use it. I think I might have dropped that one and broken the water tank. C'est La Vie.

Computing area & more machines

This pic shows my computer with flat screen/TV, my very old New Home serger and new Babylock Cover stitch machine. Very messy I know, but as soon as I clean things up, I can't find anything I put away. Obviously, its in a very safe place; safe from me! lol On the shelf above, are my machine manuals, Sew Beautiful mags, Designer's Gallery software manuals and a few tutorial DVD's.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ironing station

This pic is my ironing center. I'm fairly happy with it. Its works for me. Its just not pretty. The old dresser underneath houses my pattern collection and projects I've downloaded from the Internet. I've put 2 Rubbermaid tubs underneath my ironing surface so its at the right height for me. Being 5'8" everything is usually too short for me. The ironing surface itself I made. I found precut MDF at Home Depot, covered it with several layers of cheap cotton batting and then stapled on a layer of Muslin. I actually made 2 of them at the time, thinking I would lay them on a bed to iron large pieces of fabric. That didn't happen, lol. Now I use one of them as a design board where I take pictures of the garments I make.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Ah finally! Here is the finished shirt. I'm very happy with how it turned out. This pattern calls for 1/4" seams so I made the side seams a tad wider to have enough fabric to make French seams. This shirt is as pretty inside as outside.