Friday, June 18, 2010

The California Files: Why I Love San Fran.

This is the Mama Hart:

This is The Papa Hart:


This is Cordelia.


We are all waiting for an airplane to take us to San Francisco.

Well almost all of us. Cordelia doesn’t get to come because she doesn’t sit in  seats so well. And I didn’t really feel like buying her a ticket. And I don’t really trust her with the baggage handlers. Sometimes she yells at strangers.  I'm really not in the mood to sooth some ruffled baggage handler feathers. Talk about awkward.

Why are we heading west?

To visit him:

The Brother Hart.
(also known to some as Scot)

And her:

 The Future Sister-in-law Hart
(some prefer to call her Lauren).

But really cause The Brother Hart is getting ready to graduate.

From Stanford.

With a PhD.

In Mechanical Engineering.

Something to do with Robots.

Telerobotics to be exact.  Whatever that means.

It’s too bad I stole all the brainiack genes and left him with a measly selection of leftovers.

Except for the fact that he’s older and had first dibs at the gene pool. Poor kid shoulda picked better.
But now I’m digressing. . . . .
Point is I’m heading to San Francisco and you know what that means?

Dim Sum!

And Clam Chowder at Fisherman’s Warf!



For those of you who have not visited Britex, please remedy this immediately. Thank you.

Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.

EVERYONE should go.

Even those of you who don’t sew.

Even the Papa Hart has admitted it’s a cool place to visit.

True Story.

What is Britex you may ask? Well it’s only a little piece of heaven. A little piece of fabric heaven. It’s bliss. It’s a dream. It’s magical. It’s four levels of nothing but fabric, and thread, and trim, and leather and buttons. And I’m talking about the good fabric. Like Italian wools, and silk, and fine linen and cotton.

Do yourself a favor. Check out Britex's selection of online buttons.


~See ya in CA
Melisa & Cordelia

Monday, June 7, 2010

The cool Kids Hit the Town

Meet Vanilla Pop.
“Hello Vanilla Pop!” Says Cordelia.
“Hello Cordelia!” Says Vanilla Pop.

So Vanilla Pop is Albuquerque/ Santa Fe’s greatest, hottest, most talented and fun local band.


And even if they aren’t, Cordela and I kind of love them.
Because they wear fantastic outfits.

Like this:

And they sing our favorite songs.
And every first Friday of the month they play at a local bar.
So we go.
And we love it.

Now meet Rosie

“Hello Rosie!” Says Cordelia.
“Hello Cordelia” says Rosie.

Rosie is one of my best buddies and she is the one who introduced me to Vanilla Pop. Thanks Rosie. You rock my world.


Now meet my collection of pencil skirts.

Some may say it’s too big.

But I say it’s not big enough.

Seriously, Cordelia and I love these puppies because, well, they are flattering to our bodies and I can whip one up in about 3 hours.


Well, because we are Vanilla Pop regulars, and because we enjoy sewing, Rosie, Cordelia and I decided to make some fantastic outfits to wear this month.

And because I’m a fan of the pencil skirt, and because Vanilla Pop is a fan of loud nauseating prints I decided to take this fabric:

And turned it into this skirt.

Which looks like this inside:

Bonita! I used the European Turned Underling technique to get that clean finish.

And then I helped Rosie take this bird fabric

And turn it into this skirt.

Which is also equally fantastic on the inside thanks to the European Turned Underlining Technique.


And now I will take a breather to demonstrate, to those of you who care to know, how to do the European Turned Underlining Technique!!!! And, this is a somewhat unknown technique so you should pay attention. Plus their will be a quiz afterwards.


In order to keep a clear sewing teacher conscience,
I must enter sewing geek land and let you know what this underlining thingy is and why you might want to use one anyways.

Underlinings: They’re kind of like a lining but different.

Oh I’m so informative it hurts.
Just Kidding!


OK, ok, for reals this time.

An underlining is a separate piece of fabric that is layered under the fashion fabric. These two layers are then treated as one piece as you construct your project.

Now why in the world would I want to waist all this time and fabric on an underlining?

Because underlinings give support and body to the fashion fabric, so you’ll want to use one in a structured or tailored garment.

They also give opaqueness to garment fabric to hide inner construction. Have you ever found yourself walking down the street and the person in front of you was wearing a pair of white pants where you can see the pockets and seam allowances grinning through? And you couldn’t take your eyes off the stupid pockets because they looked terrible in an otherwise perfectly good pair of pants? I bet you have, and I bet you thought it was tacky (I know that is one of my pet peeves). An underlining would take care of that little problem.

They also prevent stretching in areas of stress, and can act as a nice layer to catch hems or interfacings.



Underlinings = a good thing.

I bet Martha Stewart would approve.
Learn to love ‘em.
I know I do.

So now that you’ve got all that, here’s how you make my famous European Turned Underlining.

First, cut your fashion fabric according to the pattern.


Then take the underlining fabric and add 5/8” additional seam allowance to all VERTICAL seams. (The white fabris is the underlining).

Take a fashion fabric piece and a corresponding underlining piece and lay right sides together.

Sew ¼” from the edge on all VERTICAL seams. Because the underlining layer is bigger it will pooch, but this is OK, you want it to do that.

Press the seam allowances towards the underlining fabric.

Turn the piece right sides out wrapping the underlining fabric around the fashion fabric seam allowances.

Stitch in the ditch. (AKA stich right in the seam. Sew through all the layers)

And VOLA! European Turned Underlining. Do this to all the pattern pieces.


From here on out you will treat both layers as one and construct the garment according to the pattern directions.

So you would sew the darts into both layers.

Easy Peasy.

You can do it!!!

Um, where was I?

Oh right, back to Vanilla Pop.

So we made our fabulous skirts.

And I made my buddy Miko a skirt too. Cause it’s her birthday soon.

Then we got dressed up.

But I decided not to wear my skirt cause that would be too much pencil in one crowd. Instead I wore my knit dress borrowed from the wedding gown.

Oh we look Good! Like a million dollars baby.

Pop Quiz!

Can you place the shoe with the owner?
Which one belongs to:

And we hit the town.
And Vanilla Pop was fantastic.

And they Serenaded Rosie

And they walked around the bar.

But we didn't stalk them.  Promis!

 And a good time was had by all! Except for Cordellia because I wouldn’t let her go. She has no ID and the bouncer wouldn’t let her in last time. And I didn’t want to have to waist time taking her home.

Happy Vanilla Poping!
~Melisa and Cordelia

Drape Drape Drape on the Form Part Deux.

You remember this dress? The one I’m making for a client but love so much I had to have one of my own?

Well guess what?

I made myself one. And I LOVE it.
I’m headed to my brother’s graduation so naturally I NEEDED a new dress (lets temporarily ignore the fact that I have a closet full of dresses I could have worn).

And I didn’t have a lot of time to make one, so I decided this dress would be perfect cause I could make it in a few hours.

And I really didn’t want to go buy new fabric and decided I had to use something from my stash. So I turned to my Fabric Log Notebook and started flipping through my swatches until I found this one.

Now this fabric is perfectly nice, and it has a great print, but I don’t really look so good in yellow. It makes me look ill. But this was the only knit fabric I had in my stash and this pattern requires a knit.
So then I ran to my collection of sewing notions to find some die, and it turns out the only color I had was fuchsia. Now fuchsia isn’t really my color either, but I though, “ey, I’ll give it a shot.”

And I ended up with fabric that looked like this.

And I loved it. So I made my dress.

I changed it up a bit.

For one thing I raised the back a bit.

And I made this piping to create a woven pattern. It looks better on me.  Cordelia had a broader back than I do and streaches it out a bit.

And VOLA, beautiful graduation dress.

Happy Dressing
~Melisa and Cordelia

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Drape, Drape, Drape on the Form.

Firstly, 10 Super Cool Human Points to the first person who can name the above movie allusion.

Secondly, the day has come.
The day Cordelia thought would never come.

at long last,
after months and months of waiting
I finally had a pattern I needed to drape on Cordelia.

What fun! What excitement! We were ready.

But before we begin, I would like you to take a look at Cordelia's reflection in the mirror! What Photography talent! I promise that was 100%, completely intentional. Or something like that.

Anywho, the first step to draping is to take some thin ribbon and some little tiny baby short pins and create the rough outline of the garment.
And again for the back. This serves as a guide and will help me know where to mark my muslin later on
Then I take my muslin (read any inexpensive fabric which has a similar structure and drape as the fashion fabric) and I start pinning it to the dress form until it looks like I want it to.

Oops. Sorry Cordelia did I poke you with that pin?
Well tough, get over it, that’s what happens to dress forms.

Once I have everything pinned in place I grab my marker and mark things like side seams, and the shape of the armhole.

I use my red ribbon to tell me where to mark my back neckline.
I had to pad Cordelia out a bit.  This is why she looks like she has a muffin top.  It's not because she has been eating too many homemade truffles. 

Then it’s just a snip, snip here and a stitch, stitch there, here a snip, there a stitch, everywhere a snip stitch. Old Melisa had a dressform!
Er, um. Waite. What I mean to say is:
I have a completed muslin (read rough draft of the final garment) ready for the first fitting.
Go ahead and call me
But only if you wish.
And when you add a skirt to it, it looks even more exciting. Even though I made this for a client, I love it so much I think I will have to “borrow” the design for myself. I can’t wait to cut this out of some green knit fabric and have myself a fab little sundress.
~Happy Draping
Melisa & Cordelia