Vernon Fashion Studio’s Blog

Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

Honest to goodness, I have not forgotten you or my blog but it has been a bit crazy. I discovered I don’t handle a lot of extra curricular activities as well as I would like. I have had ongoing Monday night classes for the last couple of months and an 8 week class I was taking on Tuesday nights. That ended last Tuesday. I enjoyed it but I am glad it is over. Plus I have been job hunting.

Since the new year started, I have been sending out resumes with no interest at all. I finally went to Community Futures which is a provincially sponsered job hunting program. I spent three – 2 hour sessions there making a couple of killer resumes. With a 15% unemployment rate here in Vernon, you have to work hard to get noticed. On top of that the number of jobs available is pretty small. BUT I did get called for an interview yesterday and it went well. Maybe towards the end of the week I will hear something.

At the Studio I have a lot of alterations and hemming coming in so I am not getting much else done there. Some of the alterations have been overly time consuming which makes it worse. I had to implement a one hour rule. I get to do something for myself for at least one hour a day. I usually pick the last hour of the day and anytime on Monday I can get. To that end, I spent 3 hours last Monday binding the oriental/whitework quilt. I plan to do a separate post about the binding but I will show it to you and the finished quilt.


It was hung up for Show and Tell at Guild meeting on Thursday. It was 2 years in the making from the purchase of the oriental charm packs in March 2010. The white batting and backing were purchased in May 2011 and the bulk of the work being done between October 2010 and last week. It will go on our bed tonight.

Here is a close up of the binding. I used the Janome Quilt Binding attachment on my Horizon 7700. The design is a fan from the quilt section of stitches. It took 3 hours to complete the binding. If I had used a straight stitch it would have been a half hour job. Specialty stitches take time. My friend Lola spend most of the time with me and it was possible to actually turn away from the sewing for a short time.


My New Years Resolution was to complete projects that have not been finished or have not even been started. Some of these projects are on the old side. In 2002 or 2003, My parents and I attended a quilt show in Rio Rancho, NM put on by the local quilt guild. This was the second show from this guild we had attended. We all enjoyed it. On the way in and out of the show we walked through the Merchant’s Mall. I had seen the rag quilt on the way in and stopped on the way out to look at the kit and bought it. It has been in the drawer since then. A few weeks ago I got it out and started putting it together. Here it is hanging at the last guild meeting along side the other quilt.


I bought this kit when rag quilts were becoming popular and finally made it after the big fuss was over. Not sure what I will do with it. For the moment it will hang in the Studio and if I get another grandchild, they may get it.

So what is next? I took a Stack ‘N Whack or Kalidescope quilt class in Albuquerque in the early 2000’s. I have the book and the fabric I bought to complete the quilt and I have 12 finished pieces on my design wall. There are also some repeats stacked waiting to be whacked and assembled.


The guild has a one day retreat on Thursday so that will be my project for the day.

I also have some fabric I intend to make a picnic quilt out of. This has been waiting since the early 2000’s also. I am looking for the right pattern to make.

We have a hillside across from our house that the deer like to frequent. This was taken Friday afternoon.


Isn’t Spring great?!


Ann at Gorgeous Fabrics is sewing a Chanel style jacket and she talked about how she stitched down her seam allowances in her January 15th post. We are both using a wool boucle but she didn’t interface her whole fabric pieces like I did. She also didn’t serge her seam allowances like I did. She is using traditional sewing methods to make the jacket like Chanel made their jackets. I am just trying to sew a pencil skirt.

My skirt is lined and if I just leave the boucle seams serged they will stickout and get hung up on the lining and/or look odd over time. So I borrowed Ann’s catchstitching technique and used it to hold down my serged seams.

I am not that big on handstitching but I have to admit, I enjoyed doing this. There are just 2 side seams in the skirt so it didn’t take long to do this. I will probably do this to my jacket, when I get to it.

I quit making a resolution to lose weight many years ago but I do make the odd resolution that helps me focus on bigger projects, that need doing.

For 2012, I am resolving to clean out the nooks and crannies of the house and collect things, for a garage sale, in one place. This one will keep me busy this winter when I am not working.

More important to this blog is my resolution to sew up the many unfinished or planned sewing projects. Some are garments and some are quilts. This will keep me busy for the winter, into the spring. Some of these garments have been on the drawing board for three or more years. My stash is not as big as some sewers have but it needs to be reduced by at least half and preferably three forths.

So yesterday I got started by making a simple curtain for the lobby of the Studio. We have a platformed area in the lobby that houses our mini-sewing museum. Unfortunately, there is a window looking into the office on the back wall. The office is not very attractive so that window has an unpleasant view. I have been wanting to make a curtain to block the view.

I dug out some sewing related cottons from my stash and picked a blue background with thread spools and zippers on it. I just barely had enough of the fabric to cover the window side to side, unshirred. The folded length was good so I hemmed the piece on all four sides. The fold from the bolt was fine so I sewed 1/2″ from the fold then again 3/4″ from first line of stitching, to form the casing. I should have done 1″ but I got it on. The samll tension rod was fitted to the window before putting the rod through the casing.

Office side of curtain

I love my Janome 5030 sewing machine. It is great for garment construction and home dec or small quilting projects BUT when it comes to large wall hangings and lap quilts, it is the pits. It will sew them well but when you have to stuff a wad of fabric through the 6″ bed of this and most other sewing machines, you find its limitations fast. I have spent a lot of time moaning and swearing at the wad of fabric that just won’t move through the hole smoothly and without impacting the needle.

Ever since the Janome 7700 Horizon came out earlier this year, I have been lusting after its 11″ bed. I had a goal of buying one by the end of the year but it didn’t take long to realize that goal was probably unattainable. Elna, a sister company to Janome, makes its own version of the 7700 for less money. It is missing a couple decorative stitches but the trade off was that it had some ingenious built in storage compartments. So I set my sights on that machine.

If you follow Janome, you know they came out with the 12000 Horizon in October. It is a hybrid of the 7700 and the 11000 with added features. You can do regular sewing, quilting and embroidery with a computer interface. It is a lavish machine with all the bells and whistles you could want, with a price to match. It was too much for me. I have a stand alone embroidery machine that I barely use and that much technology would be lost on me. I don’t want to play with my machine, I want to sew.

Lucky for me a lady traded in her barely used 7700 on the new 12000 and I got the phone call.  Hubby and looked at it and decided to go for it.

Isn’t she pretty? She sews like a dream and has enough stitches to keep me happy for many years. And check this out:

A lap quilt through the bed with room to spare and the needle working free and easy! Heaven…I’m in Heaven!

So two of the three lap quilts for Christmas presents are done. Just got the third back from the quilter who quilted the borders for me, yesterday. Tomorrow I will put on the binding, show them next week at Guild meeting then wrap & ship the two out to the States and wrap the third and stash it with the other presents. I need to get things shipped to the States by the end of the month.

Hubby works for London Drugs and he has been busy working on their Christmas party that comes up on the 19th. I need to get my outfit sewn by then and I should make it. The top is the beaded, embroidered, sequined and silk ribboned, silk organza I showed you in a previous post. I honestly am not sure I know what I am doing but common sense says I have to clear the seam allowances of all the fancy stuff so I spent several hours on Tuesday carefully picking out the silk ribbon flowers, beads and sequins. I used Fray Check on the back of the remaining motifs, along the seam allowances, to keep from losing what I want to hang on to. Before:

The white thread is the thread tracing of the seam line. I need to clear about an inch of seam allowance. After:

I did pick out that silver ribbon after I took the picture. I left the embroidery since it shouldn’t interfere with making the seams. Since this is sheer ravely fabric, I want to make french seams at the sides. When you have motifs that extend past the seam line you have two choices: 1. make a regular seam and lose part of the motif in the seam or 2. you can continue the motif on the next fabric piece. To do the second one you have to  do regular seams where you can then applique the motif onto the connecting fabric. In March 2011, Threads magazine #153, page 59, had an article on lapped and appliqued seams. I have used it as reference. I also referenced Couture Sewing Techniques by Claire Shaeffer, page 41-46. French seams are trickier but you can do it .

As you can see there are two sections of motif that extend from the front piece to the back piece. You can also see I did a french seam where I didn’t have motif in the way. I will have to remove the top flower and beading. The thread tracing is the bottom of the armhole. First, is to fold under the excess fabric around the motif, then I will applique the motif onto the back fabric, by hand. This is one time when a sewing machine should not be used.

There are a couple spots where I need filler motifs. Luckily the fabric comes with small sections of motif along the selvedges. The one in the picture is a small roundish one. I think it will end up at the top of the center back. The section in the picture is left side hem so I think a long skinny motif will be appliqued there, angling front to back. That is something you should place with pins then walk away for awhile. When you get back to it, it will be with fresh eyes.

Obviously, there needs to be a lining and that is black silk charmeuse. The back has unadorned silk organza over the charmeuse. I think the skirt will be a pencil skirt of silk charmeuse. I have not totally committed to that yet. I also have some black wool/cashmere fabric I could make a skirt out of.

That is more than enough for now. I will post more about the construction of the top soon.

That is the question from Chanel for Fall/Winter 2011/2012. While other designers have shown peplums on the runway this season, Chanel was the first on I noticed and liked.

What is a Peplum? From the Free Dictionary dot com:
pep·lum (pplm)
       n. pl. pep·lums
1. A short overskirt or ruffle attached at the waistline of a jacket, blouse, or dress.

I can’t be certain but it also looked like Carl Lagerfeld had them attached to the skirt. It can be hard to tell from video and stills. I remember peplums in the 70’s and they have turned up upon occassion since then but it has been a few years since I had seen one. (Apparently peplum dresses were trendy in 2009 but I missed them)

Peplums can be longer or shorter then the hip line. They can be stiff or flowy. They can be made from a heavier fabric like wool or from a light lace. If you have no hips and/or broad shoulders then try one that is stiffer and stands out from the skirt a bit, at hip level. It would help create an hourglass figure.  No Judy Jetson here though. If you are more of a pear shape then keep the fabric light, laying smoothly over the skirt and a couple inches below your hip level. An interesting shoulder detail or poofy sleeve can help balance your shape.

If you have a round or rectangular shape, or are petite, I would avoid peplums. And anyone wanting to try wearing a peplum, should do a muslin first and use it to find the perfect fabric weight and length. Personally, I would make a pencil skirt or sheath dress and add the peplum as a separate piece that can be removed and the fabric reused.  How about a sequin, glittery or embellished fabric peplum over a solid color skirt for a holiday party? The fancy fabric is expensive but a peplum needs less fabric than a skirt would and the effect would be just as fabulous.

See peplum dresses and skirts here:

From Tongue in Cheek website, pics of Top Shop peplum skirts:

So do we peplum or not? I think these are a passing trend that shouldn’t be overly indulged in. They will be trendy for Spring/Summer 2012 but I doubt they will be around next fall/winter. But I have been wrong before. 😉

Previously, we made a padded outer fabric and padded straps. We also cut out the lining fabric. So all we have to do is put all these pieces together. We will work in an assembly line manner.

I usually have to trim one side of the outer fabric sandwich so the side edge is even. If you need to trim, nows the time. Next, fold the outer fabric and the lining in half separately and pin.

Sew all four side seams using a 1/4″ or  1/2″seam allowance, your choice. Press seams open.

Now we have to box the bottom of the bag. With bag pieces still right sides together, finger press the bottom fold line. Then,  with a side seam towards you, lay the side seam along the bottom fold. This will form a triangle. Measure your sewing line by using a ruler to measure side to side 4 3/8″ sewing line. Mark it with a disappearing ink or water soluble ink line. For the lining make the line 4 5/8″. If the lining is just slightly smaller it will fit better in the bag.

You only need to sew this seam once. I re-measured after I sewed it down and discovered I was slightly off. Next cut off the triangle, leaving a 1/4″.

Once you have both the outer and the lining fabrics cut, turn the outer fabric right side out. Grab the handles and pin them to the outer fabric. Make sure they are not twisted and make sure they put in the same place on both sides. I like to have the side seams of the handles facing outwards. The seam will be less noticeable when in use.

Slip the outer bag into the lining bag, right sides together, lining up the top edge. Make sure the handles are completely inside and out of the way. I start by re-pinning the handles in place through all layers. Next I have to leave an opening through which we will turn the tote right side out, after sewing. My personal convention is to double pin on both sides of the opening. For Tote bags I leave 5″ between one of the handles. Now match up your side seams and pin together. Fill in the rest of the tote top edge with enough pins to keep it together while sewing. Sew around the top edge using a 1/2″ seam allowance, starting at one set of double pins and sewing all around to the other set of pins..

I tried sewing a 1/4″ instead of 1/2″ and it doesn’t work as well. After sewing, I press the opening to maintain the 1/2″ allowance. Now comes the fun part, turning the bag right side out.

Once it is turned, press the top edge, pin a bit, then topstitch a 1/4″ from top edge. Guide 1/4″ foot over the handles when you come to them.

To finish the tote bag, you can embellish with Yo-Yo’s made from the leftover squares. You can also use the leftover squares to make prairie points and incorporate them into the design of the bag, like I did. A line of prairie points around the top edge would great also. Enjoy your new tote bag! They make great gifts too!

The parts to this project are the outer fabric and batting unit, the lining and the handles.  Let’s make the handles.

Start with two strips of lining fabric 2 1/2″ x 25″ or longer and two strips of batting 1″ x 1″ longer than the handles strips.

Fold the fabric in half, right sides together. Do not press! At one short end insert the short end of the batting strip 3/8″ into the fabric strip, snugged up to the fold.

Sew across the short end through all thicknesses, 1/4″. I use a quarter inch foot. Pivot at corner and sew down the length of the fabric strip. I don’t show it on this example but you should trim the seam allowances and trim the corners.

I use the Dritz Quick Turn tools to turn things like this. In this case I am using the 1/2″ tube. I am the Queen of Notions and I only just recently bought this Dritz Quick Turn kit. It is the most useful notion I have bought in years. Insert blue tube in the fabric tube, all the way to the sewn end.

Use wood dowel that comes in the kit to push the end into the tube. Try to keep the batting from twisting.

Keep it flat as it comes out. Use your fingers to flatten out the batting.

After the tube is turned it looks a bit wrinkled but do not press. Finger smooth it instead.

Next we do some topstitching. I stitch 1/4″ on each edge but you could use a decorative stitch down the middle or whatever looks good to you. I start at the sewn end and do one side then flip the strap over and stitch from the sewn end again. This should eliminate any puckering.

Trim both ends of the handles to about 24″. Now we are ready to assemble our tote bag.