Preppies, Knitters & a New Feature on the Blog packed with Free Sewing Stuff!

Collage

I hope everybody had a terrific Halloween.  It was raining here 😦 but we still received some trick or treaters and decorated the house with spooky style.

Halloween Photo Collage

 

Preppy Fashion

Muffy, my socks are itchy!

This year, Kitty dressed up as a dashing 80s preppy boy and wore a hand-knit sweater vest that his Gramma knit for him (thanks Mum!!)  His argyle sweater vest was completed with a prep school sew-on crest (from 1987, of course).

Cat Argyle Sweater Collage

You can get the free knitting pattern here from knottygnome crafts.  Now, if you look carefully at the sweater, you can see something special about the Argyle pattern.

Argyle Sweater Fish Pattern

It looks slightly askew compared to the regular diamond pattern of argyle, yes?  No!  Look closely.  They are fish!!  And, because they are knit in gold yarn, they are goldfish!  I KNOW!  I died.  Then I came back to life and died again.  😉

Look Muffy he thinks he's one of us

Where is my polo shirt??  Maybe I’ll rough it this weekend in my khakis and madras.

The Official Preppy Handbook

Anybody have The Official Preppy Handbook from 1980 and did you follow any of the ‘rules’, however satirical they may have been?  Come on, you can tell us!  For those of you still preppy, the author has a newer book out: True Prep: It’s a Whole New Old World, 2010.

-New Feature on the Blog-

I have recently added three new sections to the blog!  At the top menu, there is a drop down menu labelled FREE PATTERNS/BOOKS/RESOURCES.  Free Patterns Books Resources

The first section, Websites with Free Sewing Patterns, has a number of websites that contain a variety of free sewing patterns.

Websites With Free Sewing Patterns

The second section, Free Sewing Patterns, is a compilation of free patterns of varying styles and difficulties that range from couture to casual.

Free Sewing Patterns

And the third section, Free Sewing Resources (Classes, Tutorials, Books -vintage & new), contains downloadable books, both vintage and new, resources, classes, pdfs, videos, etc. that cover everything from needle selection to couture sewing techniques.

Free Books Resources

I will be updating these sections on an ongoing basis, so check back periodically to see what’s new!

If you have a free sewing pattern or resource that you would like added to the site, please feel free to leave a link in the comments section.

Kitty All Tuckered Out

photo credits: Brighterman, The Official Preppy Handbook

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And the Giveaway Winner is!….(also some Inspiring Women, Guinness and Connect Four)

I hope you all had a terrific International Women’s Day! Thank you to everyone for entering the Giveaway Fabric Magazine Pattern Tote Winning Bundleand for leaving such heartfelt comments about so many wonderful women that inspire you.  Here’s a rundown with some links, and quotes by all of you.

Inspirational Women

Family Inspiration: mother, grandmother, mother-in-law, Nana, aunt, sister and daughter.

Generations of Women in Adama, Ethiopia.  Source.

Generations of Women in Adama, Ethiopia. Source.

dottiedoodle says she was inspired by her husband’s Auntie. “She did an enormous amount for others and raised hundreds of thousands for Cancer Research.”  How wonderful Denise, I hope she inspires more people to raise money for good causes.

Kat Eldridge. wrote about her Nana, “she taught me to be true to myself and loved me for who I am.  She died at 102, after calling me and saying that she thought she had seen everything she was meant to see.” Wow, Kat E, I want to go exactly like that!

Shelley c’s grandma “was a botanist in the 1950s, helped people of all races register to vote, and was a well-known philanthropist in southern California.  She always rejected the rules placed upon her.” Shelly, I am in awe!

everystitchthoughtout gives a big inspirational shout-out to her daughter who suffered burning and scars from a horrible accident and picked her self up and moved on, just two days after her month-long hospital stay!

Ulyana Sergeenko collection, 2011

Ulyana Sergeenko collection, 2011

Betsey Johnson in the Red Dress Collection, 2007 for the Heart Truth Campaign (raising awareness of heart disease in women)

Betsey Johnson in the Red Dress Collection, 2007 for the Heart Truth Campaign

Style Inspiration: Betsey Johnson and Ulyana Sergeenko about which MaZeLiving said, “she is a Russian designer who combines just the right amount of vintage, modern and feminine.”  I would have to agree MaZe.  You can click on the link to see for yourselves.

Personal Inspiration: your teachers and good friends.

Kat H was inspired by her high school chemistry teacher, “-she was fabulous, didn’t care what other people thought, super intelligent, and clearly loved life.” I sort of want to BE her, KatH!

teacher

Jane P said: When I was 7, I entered school for the very 1st time.  I couldn’t speak any English and was very shy.  My form teacher was extremely kind to me.  Although she only taught me for a year, she changed my life forever.”  Sounds like a terrific woman, Jane.

Nancy Zieman

Nancy Zieman

Sewing Inspiration: Nancy Zieman, Steph of Sewing Cake, Indie Designers, Bloggers you follow and sewing groups like The Monthly Stitch and WSBN about which 1107nikki said, “I get to chat and gossip daily.  I consider myself very lucky!”  Me too, nikki, there are some absolutely fantastic bloggers, indie designers and sewing groups out there that inspire me every day.1955 elna sewing machine ad

People making a living by their handmade goodness also inspire me!” said EmSewCrazy.  It is definitely not an easy job, but we are all pretty happy they do it!

The Brontë Sisters, painted by their brother Patrick Branwell Brontë (died 1848)

The Brontë Sisters, painted by their brother Patrick Branwell Brontë

Literary Inspiration: the Bronte Sisters and the character, Kirsty from The Peasant Girl’s Dream, by George MacDonald (1893).

The Bronte Sisters, Emily, Anne and Charlotte wrote Jane Eyre (Charlotte), Wuthering Heights (Emily), and Agnes Grey (Anne) and, since in the 1800s, it was not commonly accepted for women to author, they originally wrote under male pen-names.  The three sisters published a joint volume of poetry before their untimely deaths.

margueritedesigns wrote: “How on earth did so much creativity exist in one family in such an out of the way community?”  I have no idea marguerite, but I’m so glad that it did!

Sociological Inspiration:  Arlie Hochschild.  Meri feels “her book The Second Shift (The Second Shift: Working Parents and the Revolution at Home, 1989) should be required reading for all young women.”

Hochschild imparts the idea that human emotion and feeling—joy, sadness, anger, elation, jealousy, envy, despair—is, in large part, social. Each culture, she argues, provides us with prototypes of feeling.  She has written several books including:

Famous Inspiration:  Angelina Jolie “for her work with the UN and her bringing awareness to women and children in unsafe conditions overseas.” (wrote Kristin).  Important work indeed, Kristin!

Scientific Inspiration:  Marie Curie.  Colonel Hazard wrote that “she was so dedicated to her work and was recognized for it at a time when women in science were still dismissed as oddities.”  I love that kind of dedication!

Marie Curie in her laboratory

Marie Curie in her laboratory

Marie Curie won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903 and in chemistry in 1911.  She is the only person to win a Nobel Prize in two different sciences.

By far, the winning inspirational woman in your lives was….Your Mom!  (mom is so proud 🙂 )

laurahoj’s mother “was dedicated to her family no matter what came up.  She fought cancer, refusing to take pain meds at the end.  She always stood by what she believed.”  I’m sure her bravery and commitment rubbed off on you, Laura.

She not only taught me so much, on her last years on earth, she taught me patience compassion and tenderness.  You see, she had Alzheimer’s and it really took its toll on her when my father passed away.” wrote cathynd95, about her mother.  Let’s hope that there is a cure soon, Cathy.

Lisa Eck reminds us that a mother never stops mothering. “Even now that I am older, if I need any advice or just a word of inspiration, I know that I can count on her.”

Kristin took a philosophical approach to the relationship with her mom. “We think very differently, we argue all the time, and we tend to talk only a few times a year, however she’s a very strong person.  She pushed me a lot growing up and while I hated it so much, I also learned to stand on my own and achieve anything I want.  If I had some strange new goal, after my mom told me it was a terrible idea, she would sit down and help me figure out how to get there.”  A wonderful reflection on the fact that not every family is the Waltons or the Bradys and not every mom is June Cleaver, yet we can all still learn something from our situation and accept others for who they are, not for who we wish they were.  Thanks, Kristin!

OH, I almost forgot.  The Giveaway Winner!

The Winner

Kitty decided to combine Game Night with the winning entrant selection.  He often has guests over for some board games and cards, where he’ll kick back, put on a casual tee and pour some Guinness.  Tonight’s featured game is Mini Connect Four!

Remember Connect Four?

Remember Connect Four?

First, Numbers 1 to 44 (the number of entrants) were written on the teeny tiny Connect Four pieces.

First, Numbers 1 to 44 (the number of entrants) were written on the teeny tiny Connect Four pieces.

Next, all the Entrants were assigned a number from 1 to 44.

Then All the Entrants were assigned a number from 1 to 44.  “I Writed Da Numbers”.

When the winning piece is played to win the Connect Four game, the number on that Connect Four piece that corresponds to the Entrant's number will be declared the Winner of the Giveaway! Get it?

When the final winning Connect Four piece is played, the number on that piece that corresponds to the Entrant’s number will be declared the Winner of the Giveaway! Get it??

Let the Connecting of Fours Begin!!

Let the Connecting of Fours Begin!!

Ready! Snacks, games, Guinness. No, that is not a giant cell phone from the 70s, that is Merlin!  Remember Merlin?

Ready! Snacks, games, Guinness. No, that is not a giant cell phone from the 70s, that is Merlin! Remember Merlin?

Guest Has Arrived!  Let's Connect the Fours!

Guest Has Arrived! Have a Guinness and Let’s Connect the Fours!

My Turn.  Hmmmmm......

My Turn. Hmmmmm…… (Kitty’s Garfield shirt says “Do I Look Like I Care?” Strategic dressing to help psych out his opponent)

Your Turn.  Not an Easy Game.

Your Turn. Not an Easy Game. Am I winning???

Blocked You!  Muwah ha ha!!!

Blocked You! Muwah ha ha!!!

My Move .....Wooooaaaaaahhhhh!  It's the Winning Move!!

My Move …..Wooooaaaaaahhhhh! It’s the Winning Move!!

I WIN!!!!

“I WIN!!!!” Kitty. “I Sad.” Dawg.

In Your Face, Dawg!!

In Your Face, Dawg!!

N'Awww, Dont be Sad, Dawg, have a Guinness.

N’Awww, Dont be Sad, Dawg, have a Guinness.

Don't Mind if I Do.  BEER!  Nom Nom Nom.

Don’t Mind if I Do. BEER! Nom Nom Nom. (Send your complaints of animal abuse to: ,,,,,,)

And the Winning Piece Number is FIVE! (5)...Which corresponds to the entrant name....

And the Winning Piece Number is FIVE! (5)…Which corresponds to the entrant name….

Kat Eldridge!!  Congratulations Kat!  Please send over an email and we will post your wining sewing notions out to you.

Kat Eldridge!!

Sewing Notions Winning Package

Congratulations Kat! Please send over an email and we will post your winning fabric and haberdashery out to you.

A Plethora of New Sewing Skills with Gertie and Twinkle (& a Freebie)

Twinkle Sews and Gertie's Sewing Books OutfitSewing BooksI have completed my makes from Gertie’s New Book For Better Sewing by Gretchen Hirsch and Twinkle Sews by Wenlan Chia.  For both of these projects, it was my first time utilizing a variety of sewing techniques, seven to be exact!

New Skills/Techniques

  1. Invisible Zipper
  2. Skirt Yoke
  3. Inverted Box Kick Pleat
  4. Lining a Skirt with an Inverted Box Kick Pleat
  5. Side Lapped Zipper
  6. Hand Picking a Zipper
  7. Hand Stitched Invisible Hem

So, for January’s Monthly Stitch: New Year = New Skill 2014_01_badgechallenge, we are all trying our hand at new (to us) techniques.New SKills Outfit10

Twinkle Twinkle, Little Skirt

I used the Masculin et Feminin pattern from the Twinkle Sews book for my skirt, which I made from a lovely stretch silk fabric that I received from Kristin at Sew Classic.  Thanks Kristin!

Since the fabric was a stretch woven, I opted to also line it with a stretch woven.

Skirt Lining

Skirt Lining

The skirt hem was bound with fold-over elastic before hemming.  This was my first time putting a yoke on a skirt as well as inserting an invisible zip.  Having the zip extend below the yoke meant I had to make sure the fabric change points were exact.

Invisible Zip and Yoke

Invisible Zip and Yoke

This was also the first time I’ve used an inverted box kick pleat.  For the skirt, it was not too difficult, although tricky to remember which way to fold and iron.

Inverted Box Kick Pleat

Inverted Box Kick Pleat

However, when it came to inserting the lining, this is where we entered a bit of a grey area.  The pattern pieces for the lining were different from the skirt and the instructions did not seem to correspond to these pieces.  She wants you to “stay stitch a V of reinforcing stitches the length of the kick pleat as indicated on the pattern piece [it wasn’t].  Carefully cut a slit in the lining to the point of the V.” This somehow did not make sense to me since there were 2 back lining pieces that you sewed a back centre seam.  So, why would you cut a slit?  And where?  And then what on the skirt are you sewing these two sides to, since this is a closed inverted box pleat and not an open vent.  There were no pics of the completed lining in the book. I had help from a volunteer sewing instructor and she did not understand these instructions either.  If anybody has made this skirt, please do share how you did this!

I ended up altering the back lining pattern pieces to be mirror opposites of the skirt back pieces and sewing an inverted box kick pleat in the lining.  I then sewed the line of topstitching that lies horizontal to the top of the pleat to include all the layers of fabric of the lining and skirt, to hold the lining in place.New SKills Outfit Back2The book divides the projects according to difficulty and this skirt was classified as a ‘beginner’ project.  I’m not sure I agree with that as there were many aspects (yoke, lining, inverted box kick pleat, invisible zip, waistband, lace overlay, working with slippery satin fabric) that are not necessarily beginner skills.

Another noteworthy aspect of this book is that there are:  no construction pictures; no technical drawings of any kind; no diagrams, just text.  This does make it more challenging to follow along if you are a beginner or a visual learner.New Skills Outfit8The book includes a cd with all  the patterns included in pdf form.  One thing to watch out for:  sizing.  To find your size, according to the author, you need to measure your hips and then add 2″ for seam allowance and then 1″ to 2″ for ease.  (For tops, you measure your bust, add 2″ for SA, then add 3″ to 5″ for ease.)  Now the thing is, I did not realize nor do either of these measurement add-ons before cutting my skirt!  I found my measurements on the measurement chart and printed out that exact size.  The skirt fits me rather well, and, while it’s true I made the skirt from a two-way stretch woven with a small to moderate stretch and the pattern called for a non stretch, I still think the skirt would have been really huge if I had added on an extra 3″ to 4″!!??

I plan on making one of the tops next, but I don’t think I am going to add the extra 5″ to 7″ (for tops) as specified in the book. This seems really extreme, especially since the skirt fits without my adding any SA or ease.

The book, however, does have some simply beautiful garments in it.  They are all very creative and interesting, constructed from a variety of different fabrics and styled nicely, as well.  This is what immediately appealed to me when I bought the book.

Some exciting news:  Threads magazine has one of the dress patterns from the Twinkle Sews book available for free!

Click here for the free pattern of this dress.

Click here for the free pattern of this dress.

So, if you don’t have the book and are interested in sampling it, here is the link to download the free dress pattern and instructions.

A Portrait of Gretchen’s Blouse

The top I chose to make from Gertie’s book was the Portrait Blouse.  The pattern was fairly easy to put together and included some nice touches, such as hand sewn invisible hems

Hand Sewn Invisible Hem

Hand Sewn Invisible Hem

for the sleeves and bottom as well as a hand picked side lapped zipper.  It is sewn with a wool / cashmere blend, or at least that is what I was told by the vendor at a sewing expo where I purchased it in the ends bin for $5.00.

Hand Sewn Invisible Sleeve Hem and Bound Seams

Hand Sewn Invisible Sleeve Hem and Bound Seams

The instructions for the side lapped zipper did seem a bit lacking, as I could not completely understand how to insert it just using them alone, so researched online to find tutorials.  I noted that each tutorial was a bit different in their approach.  Does anybody have a favourite tutorial or way of inserting a lapped zip?  Please do share it!

Side Lapped Zip

Side Lapped Zip

The zip was ‘hand picked’ or hand sewn using what is really a very tiny back stitch.  I also hand sewed the hems, using a slip stitch.  I really enjoyed the hand sewing aspect; time moved nice and slowly and precision was so much easier to achieve than by machine and the stitching did, indeed look invisible afterwards.

Hand Picked Zip

Hand Picked Zip

Gertie’s book includes drawings for each step within the instructions, as well as a one or two sentence synopsis of the written instructions.  It includes paper patterns for all the garments.

The book also provides a plethora of information regarding pattern alterations, sewing techniques and, because this book is a take on the 1952, Vogue New Book For Better Sewing, it gives you a lot of insight into vintage patterns.

I thought that this top would be ‘untuckable’ due to the zipper at the hem, but actually it tucks in fine and the zip is not bothersome!

Tuck in your shirt!  And, stand up straight!

Tuck in your shirt! And, stand up straight!

Road Testing With the Sewcialists / Spoolettes

I also ‘road tested’ the skirt at a recent Sewcialists / Spoolettes meet-up.

The Twinkle Sews Skirt in Action

The Twinkle Sews Skirt in Action

Spoolette Meetup

Yours Truly, Gillian, Clare, Sara and Andrea. Hi there, Sewing Sisters!!  Cheers Clare! ‘clink’

small spooletteSewcialists

This was not the first time I’d seen these fantastic lovelies in person and each time it gets better and better.  I can’t wait till the next outing.  Who knew that my new-found hobby/past-time would bring me such joy, not only in solitude, when sewing, but socially as well, through social media, the blogs and, the best part, in real life!!

And, look how happy we all are! 🙂

I leave you with Wonder Woman…

Da na na na na na na Wonder Woman!!

Da na na na na na na Wonder Woman!!