A sense of gratitude and my latest sewing adventures

How is it that it’s the end of November already? With the Thanksgiving holiday happening here in the U.S. next week, I find I’m presently reflecting on things in life I feel most grateful for. The list is long, but what presently comes to mind are loving, personal connections, the gifts of creativity, a sense of purpose and joy, not only with completing projects, but also in the discovery and problem-solving process inherent in learning through trial and error.

Soon on the heels of my “More Free Motion Fun” post last May, I flew to the Midwest for a month away, teaching singing and performing in faculty recitals at the wonderful music academy I’ve had the privilege to be a part of since the summer of 2004.

Upon my arrival back home, I embroidered twelve canvas tote bags for a local non-profit here in town.

Next up was making a trial muslin for Susan Khalje Couture‘s Circle Skirt Dress pattern. But before that happened, I finally padded out my dress form to better resemble my actual body proportions. It only took three years since acquiring this new mannequin! Turns out this process is harder than it looks!

My dress form cover is made from #4200 “Princess Sheath Dress” by Silhouette Patterns

I must say, Susan Khalje’s Patterns are beautifully drafted and I look forward to exploring more of the same.

Inspiration photo from Threads Magazine

Here are the front and back of my Circle Skirt Dress muslin. I’m guessing the fit model for this particular pattern must have been somewhere around 5’8 or taller. For my 5’3 figure, I ended cutting off 4” from the hem.

Great length if making a maxi-dress.
Here is my Circle Skirt Dress muslin with the new length
and modeled by my newly-customized dress form. Hooray!

After this initial attempt, I am pleased with the fit and looking forward to making my first “real” Circle Skirt Dress using a pretty Rayon print. (see below)

Chosen fabric for my first SKC Circle Skirt Dress.
A gorgeous Rayon Viscose woven print found at the newly-launched Closet Core Fabrics

After the Circle Skirt Dress muslin was completed, I then entered the ClosetCore “Pietra” pant-fitting muslin vortex. Four (yes four) muslins later, I believe I’ve finally arrived at a flattering overall fit. (Photos of same to follow in a future post)

Length and circumference adjustments for this particular pant pattern were easy enough to do, but the main challenge for me was achieving the correct proportional balance with crotch-curve angles and length of same between front and back. What finally made the most difference was transferring shaping and dimensions from a well-fitting simple pant block I already had in my pattern stash. Why didn’t I do this first? I was curious to see how this pants pattern would fit right out of the gate. A “blank canvas” if you will.

Judging by the multiple customer reviews I’ve read, even though many people reported the overall rise tended to be a bit on the long side, (it is intended to be a high-waisted style) most reviewers concluded that the “Pietra” pants pattern fit them wonderfully from the get-go. I wanted to see if this applied in my case too. Well, no. The fit model for this pattern is definitely taller, has a longer torso/different crotch-curve shaping and of course, longer legs, no surprise there. (I’m 5’3 with with 28-29” inseam, depending on the style, shoes to be worn etc.) Interestingly enough, most Ready To Wear Petite pants sizes have average inseams of 27”, another example of why one size (petite RTW) doesn’t necessarily fit all.

While the above photo does not feature the “Pietra” pants pattern, this tissue overlay example illustrates what has now become a typical crotch curve adjustment for me. I typically place the well-fitting trouser “block” pattern on the lower layer as this helps me to see what I need to do to alter the new pattern. First I line up the horizontal crotch depth and vertical straight of grain guidelines on each and then I can gauge where and how much I need to extend or subtract at the crotch length area. This pattern reference step tends to save a lot of time for me in the initial muslin making process.

Lastly, I wanted to write about a fun and inspiring thing I did recently; visiting a sewing friend/kindred spirit for a whirlwind couple of days spent fitting patterns and muslins, engaging in great conversations, and enjoying delicious food and drink.

My friend’s wonderfully inviting home is located a five hours drive away, up in the wine country, just North of San Francisco. She and I met in October, 2017 at one of Peggy Sagers’ (Silhouette Patterns) fitting workshops held in the San Jose area. Not only do we share a love and passion for all things sewing, we also love sailing!

As I was packing and preparing for our recent pattern fitting rendezvous, I anticipated we would get much completed, helping each other fit a variety of garments including the hardest of all, pants. While these activities eventually came to fruition, what I hadn’t fully grasped beforehand was the profound sense of personal connection, liberation from ineffective fitting results and ultimate creative renewal such an endeavor would inspire, especially after months of isolation due to our current pandemic. Additionally, it was fun to see all the quilts she’s made, especially those intended for charitable purposes. But the real treat was viewing all the garments she’s created; the bold color combinations, fabric choices, fun buttons, design modifications and her unique take on how to make patterns her own.

During our many conversations, my friend and I shared with each other the realization that while we’d managed to stay productive, making masks, quilts and garments, participating in online sewing classes and contests during this last year and a half, it was also a lonely time in our sewing spaces. We further reflected that we were not unique in this regard and thought about those individuals who lost all motivation for sewing in general. Of course, it goes without saying that many in our world have experienced much worse, personal loss, illness and heartache during this particularly trying period in history.

In light of all expressed above, I continue to remain grateful for the gifts of community, the healing benefits of creativity and personal curiosity, inspiration in unexpected places and the rejuvenating spirit of renewal.

2 Replies to “A sense of gratitude and my latest sewing adventures”

  1. Cathy,
    I enjoyed reading about your trip to visit your friend and what you were able to accomplish with your fittings! I imagine talking and sharing sewing projects with a like- minded friend was uplifting and inspirational !
    I love the fabric you’ve chosen for your circle skirt dress! I am excited to see the finished product!!

    Liked by 1 person

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