Are you a ‘sewer’ or a ‘sewist’? Podcast & Giveaway

Stitches Episode 2 Are you a Sewer or a SewistToday’s podcast features a very fun & special guest, Leila from the blog The Three Dresses Project.

Leila was so excited to be on the show she was aflame. And Mari was a burning ball of fiery enthusiasm to have Leila as a guest star. Much giggling occurred during this chat about what we call ourselves as people who like to sew.

This podcast is also available on PodOmatic.

Show notes:

  • It seems the most well known term among people sew & those who don’t is ‘sewer’. But when written out it looks like the ‘sewer’, as in those subterranean pipes that carry all manner of sludge & ickiness.
  • Because of that people- bloggers especially- started calling themselves ‘sewists’, but when seen as a cross between ‘sewer’ & ‘artist’ some people (Mari) think it’s pretentious.
  • Hobbyist’ can also rub people the wrong way if people use it demeaningly, as a way to say you’re not serious about your craft.
  • The worst term might be ‘Becky Home-ecky.’ How are we to be taken seriously about handmaking our clothes when Tim Gunn is freely using this term on Project Runway?
  • Dressmaker’ & ‘Seamstress’ seem less controversial but also imply that someone is making clothing for other people for a living. The word ‘dressmaker’ suggests someone who makes fancier & less practical things like fine dresses. ‘Seamstress’ implies someone who does more utility sewing- as in everyday clothing & mending.
  • Tailors’ are the male counterparts to ‘dressmakers’ & ‘seamstresses.’ Can a woman be a tailor? It seems nowadays there’s more cross-over when it comes to tailoring & gender roles.
  • Can calling yourself a ‘couture sewist’ be snooty or does it just describe the kind of sewing you do?
  • In the fashion industry the people who sew clothing are called ‘stitchers,’ a more gender neutral word. But, the industry delineates what each person does more specifically for the purposes of clarity. At home we do everything: we’re pattern makers, drapers, cutters, etc. Is calling yourself a ‘stitcher’ implying you only sew?
  • Historically we haven’t heard of anyone using special terms to label themselves as someone who sewed unless they were sewing for a living. Sewing was something you had to do because you were alive- it helped shelter your body from the weather.
  • Sewing was an everyday thing & an expectation. Brides were given a basket with basic sewing supplies to mend and make the clothes they had last longer.
  • As bloggers we’re taking on more roles as we branch out into business. What do we call ourselves when we’ve got a professional business, but didn’t go to fashion school or have an apprenticeship? What about when we only sew for ourselves & don’t do custom projects for clients, but own things like pattern companies or teach sewing classes?
  • For further thoughts on this topic, see this Sewaholic post.

Recent sewing bloggers turned home sewing pattern makers include Steph from 3HoursPast & Cake Patterns, Melissa from Fehr Trade, Amy from Cloth Habit, Maddie from Madalynne & Tilly from Tilly & the Buttons.

To celebrate all these emerging indie pattern designers Leila & I are having a giveaway of Steph’s patterns from Cake Patterns. Now, Leila works for Steph & Steph graciously offered to donate these patterns to the giveaway for free. But we’re the ones who will be sending you the patterns. Leila & I aren’t doing this as agents of Cake Patterns. We’re doing it because we just recorded a podcast & because we love indie pattern companies.

Comment to win the Pavlova pattern once it's been released.
Comment to win the Pavlova pattern once it’s been released.

So, comment here to win a copy of the Pavlova pattern– we’ll ship it to you once it’s been released. Hop on over to Leila’s blog & comment to win a copy of the Tiramisu pattern. The giveaway is open until February 27th.  International entries welcome. Here’s how to win:

  1. Leave me a comment saying what you call yourself as someone who sews. Please specify that you want to win & leave a way to contact you.
  2. Get an extra entry for mentioning in the same post that you have subscribed to my blog.

And just for fun- not extra entries- fill out this poll. What do you call yourself? If you choose ‘other’ write in what that ‘other’ is. 


Ice Cream Social Tiramisu Dress

I finished this dress the other week so I could wear it to an ice cream social & get cute pictures. Alas, the lighting & Q’s camera phone did not get along. But now I have much less noisy images to show you. Let’s just pretend I’m posing all cute with a scoop of ice cream in one hand.

The tall building with the antennae to the right of my glasses is the Hancock. The tallest building on the far right is the Sears Tower. I refuse to call it Willis tower. Please look at the far off buildings instead of my accidentally flipped up sleeve trim!

Shortly after I found out I’d be getting to test sew the Tiramisu pattern I ran across this ice cream jersey & knew I HAD to use it for this dress. I even thought I might use it for the entire dress. But then I remembered the name of the company, Cake Patterns. Wearable, everyday basics. I might be tempted to wear a really loud dress with ice cream cones shooting off in all directions (like how the striped version of the dress forms big chevrons), but knew I’d get more use out of it if I kept things somewhat conservative. A band of ice cream cones around your torso is more office friendly than an explosion of ice cream cones.

If you’re interested in the ice cream fabric, it looks like Girl Charlee only has a half yard left. Months ago I saw it on other online fabric sites, but they were more expensive. Besides, if you’re only going to use it as an accent fabric a half yard should be enough. But note that it is very thin. I had to underline the midriff with white jersey.

Less than a yard of 78 wide fabric, but I managed to get everything for the Tiramisu dress cut out (except for the midriff) as well as a pair of Rosy Ladyshorts.

As for my main fabric, it’s a lovely, thin to medium weight double knit modal. Because it’s modal it’s drapey, but being double knit it wasn’t as finicky to work with. A very nice compromise. I got this lovely fabric from FabricMart, a site I adore. But for the first time ever they disappointed me. I had ordered a yard, but for long stretches the fabric was less than a yard long. It had been cut unevenly & was as short as 32″ in some places. There was even a run on one side! But because the fabric was 78″ wide, I was just able to squeeze in the rest of my dress pieces- and the pattern called for 2-1/2 yds! My cutting layout was tweaked even further so I could fit a pair of Rosy Ladyshorts on the fabric. Getting the cutting layout just right took a long time, but I’m glad I squeezed every last inch out of that fabric. It’s so soft.

I won’t go into many fit or construction details since I already covered most of those in my previous post about my Tiramisu muslin turned t-shirt. The only difference between making the shirt & the dress was that I needed to take more ease out of the midriff. I suspect this has to do with the weight of the skirt pulling the midriff down- you know like when you pull saran wrap taut so it doesn’t sag down. I think extra weight pulling the midriff meant the fabric was not loose enough to conform to my figure.

The back midriff gets bunched up when your hands are in your pockets. Otherwise it’s nice & smooth.

One final fit note. I didn’t correctly diagnose the problem of extra fabric under my breasts on my t-shirt because the chevron print was too distracting. And of course I didn’t realize what was going on until after I serged the seams on this dress- the gathers start too far to the sides if you’re a younger lady who hasn’t breast fed. So bear your breasts in mind while sewing.

Thanks Steph for letting me try out your pattern! It’s very nice having such a comfortable surplice dress that doesn’t gape open & expose me for all the world to see. And who doesn’t like pockets? These are just the right depth.

It was windy & a little difficult to keep the skirt down. I’m guessing this means the dress will be perfect for twirling about while dancing.

Glass Blowing!

From left to right, the first ornament I made to the last one.

Glass blowing!!! GLASS BLOWING

I've wanted to learn for years. Can you tell by my bolded exclamation points & underlining? Ok, I must admit this wasn't really real glass blowing. It was glass blowing lite.

This weekend a friend & I took the Blown Glass Ornament workshop at the Lillstreet Art Center. So. Much. Fun. Everyone was provided with five glass tubes with cyclinders at the end. With real glass blowing you wouldn't be using a pre-fab cylinder.

Bits of colored glass shards called frit were poured into the cylinders. The cylinders became the ornament part & were cut away from the tube. After adding the color you heat the cylinder, puff it up a little, repeat, then heat it up red hot & do some hard puffing to make (semi) perfect globes. Results varied. Oh & a cool little fact- you cool your glass in vermiculite, the same stuff that you garden with.

My friend Betsy scoring her glass in preparation for knocking the glass tube off the end.

I wore my new Tiramisu top after having washed it & achieving the perfect fit. No floppy fabric flying around was a very good thing. The teacher told us that a previous student had burned a hole right through her top because as she bent over to blow her ornament her shirt had come along for the ride.

In order to get our glass hot enough, the torches we used had to be extremely hot. I burned myself on a torch someone had had tuned off for several minutes. Really, I'm a menace to myself. But it's just a light brown mark, nothing to fret over.

I'm a major cultz.

Burning myself is the least of my worries though. Now I have to figure out which person on my Christmas list gets which ornament. By that I mean how many can I keep for myself? Can I keep them all & just give everyone nice cards for Christmas? No? Alright, fine! I'll part with some of them.

Do I keep these for myself or give them away for Christmas? Hmmmm.

I really wished I could have blown more, but alas five ornaments was all we were allotted, which was a shame because right at that point was when everyone started to feel like they were getting the hang of things. But you know what that means? Next year I have to take the workshop again.


Tiramisu T-Shirt

Cake Patterns is a new independent sewing pattern company run by Steph of 3hourspast. I was chosen as a test sewer for the line's first pattern, Tiramisu. However, a little hiccup meant I didn't receive my pattern until it was released, I'm sharing my version of it with you now.

The pattern is based upon a different system of sizing. You choose your bodice according to your upper bust measurement, which is then broken down into cup sizes, although you're supposed to choose your cup size based upon your measurements, not necessarily what size bra you wear.

This part tripped me up a bit. My upper bust is 33″ & my bust is 35-1/2″. Based upon this I was directed to choose the size 30 front & back bodice pieces. However, on the front bodice pattern piece it gave the full bust measurements for the different cup sizes. The 30D was listed as making a 33-1/2″ bodice, which had me worried it would be too tight. The 30C came in at 32-1/2″. I generally wear a C cup, although the odd D will fit.

I tried the 30D & surprisingly found it to be too large. The under bust seam hung down a little far below my breasts & the shoulder seams fell towards my back. Still, the fit wasn't bad & I could still lean over without having the top gape open & expose everything for all to see. So I decided to chop off the midriff band & turn the muslin into a top.

Her you can see the shoulder seam falling towards my back, an indication that the front bodice piece is too large.

From the midriff band I based the pattern for the body of my top. I took in the side seams on the midriff for a more fitted look, shortened the band according to the measurements of my short waist, then extended the side seams out & down with a curved line. My hip curve ruler came in handy for this. Very luckily, I got all the curve angles correct on the first go & didn't have to make any further adjustments aside from letting out the sides a bit (I had forgotten to add seam allowances, doh!).

Ah yes! A near perfectly fitting back- so rare for people with swayback. I'm also cuffed at how I was able to match the chevrons.

I also attached the body a little higher on the bodice to help take care of the 'too large' problem. However, while my bodice now seemed to fit properly just at the base of my bust, it now rode up a little as I moved. Disappointing. Until I washed the top on cold & air dried it. Magically, it fit perfectly after that! It no longer really rides up & I finally, finally, finally have a surplice top that sits where it's supposed to! Major win in my books.

Let's talk stripes. Instead of the usual grainline, Steph has stretch/stripe lines on the pattern. They look like regular grainlines, except they're longer & don't have arrows at the ends. Just having a written reminder on the pattern pieces about the direction of the stripes helped save me from a grievous placement mistake.

I've worn the top a few times now & I can say that it's very comfy, not restricting, & I think it makes my boobs look a little larger. But best of all there's no gaping neckline when you bend over! Huzzah!

Hooray! No gaping neckline. Breasts are in place.

Now for the fabric. It's not my usual style, but it was so cheap. Plus, I was eager to try a crepe style knit. Crepe style knits stretch just like regular knits, but they have a slightly bumpy or pebbled surface- & I'm not talking purl bumps here. It's good to toss in the novel every now & then. Still, I'm adjusting to the print. I'll say it again, it's just not my usual style. It's funny how I don't think a neon green top is too loud, but black & white chevrons are. Maybe i just need the chevrons to be ridiculously large in order to feel at home in them. The smaller size seems a bit busy. Yet the top fits so well that I've enjoyed wearing it regardless. I need to make some more in a solid fabric to suit my normal tastes. What do you think dear readers? Do the bold chevrons suit me?

If you're interested in procuring the fabulous Tiramisu pattern you can also look forward to a 30min/day sew along starting in January. Plenty of time to get the pattern & fabric. I can't wait to see all the pretty dresses everyone makes! And check out this awesome version of the Tiramisu dress in a lovely purple. I almost made my dress in purple & now I'm wishing I had!