Archive for April, 2008

My Brother

April 28, 2008

My new Brother Sewing Machine, the HE 120 has arrived last week and since I have been looking for supplies for embroidery, like thread and stabilizers.

Here is my first experiment, monogramming letter M:

I’m loving it so far, still have a lot to learn about embroidery.
I have realized how important the combination of fabric, thread, needle, tension and stabilizers are.
I need to come up with designs, and I have a few in my plans.
I was thinking of the Azaleea dress from BurdaStyle with embroidery over the placket, an embroidered tunic, folk style.
What i would like to try is free motion embroidery, and I’d like to create some wall hangings on linen with black or brown thread, representing pictures of Cluj, my home town. Something similar to sketches, but made my needle and thread, with the help of HE (HE is my Brother HE 120).

More to come, stay tuned.

Flying Angels Blouse

April 27, 2008

Flying Angels Blouse, originally uploaded by fmirela.

Finally my fabrics arrived yesterday from Fashion Fabrics Club.
I love that online store, especially for silk.
Yesterday it was folded in the mail, today it’s a blouse.
I have to say I expected this Dark Brown Angel Prints on Ivory Stretch Silk Chiffon Fabric to be less like a chiffon and more like charmouse, I go confused when I ordered it, thinking it would be smoother. I had a PJ and lingerie planned for it, but changed my mind after seeing it’s feel. It is crisp to the touch, but after a wash I decided it could be used for a blouse instead.
First I really was disappointed with my choice, angles print and chiffon…not really my style…
I found it rather transparent so I decided to do something interesting with it, I had not much to loose, since I got a good price for it and didn’t really like it in the first place.
I cut out a simple raglan top, that I initially thought would be gathered at the neckline, but my pattern was already cut out a few years back when I was 2 sizes smaller. Can you believe it?! Two sizes….so now I don’t have to gather it, because it fits just the way it is.
The pattern is I think from Burda WOF January 2003. The blouse was also gathered at the waist line, I remember sewing this one before and hated those gathers, as the blouse had the tendency to ride up all the time.
Enough about the pattern, as you can see it really is simple.

With raglan sleeves, the kind that have a huge seam starting from the shoulder all the way down, I like to place the sleeve pattern pieces together, overlap the centers, see that the grain lines are still parallel and only sew a dart on the top of the shoulder instead of that long seam. This cuts aways some of the width of the sleeve, but for this wide pattern, for knits or stretchy fabrics it works.

After touching the fabric forever when cutting and seeing it move, I started to like it more and more.

Pile of angels

A few pieces were leftover and had quite a big bunch of those angles.
I wanted to reduced the transparency somehow in the front so that I could wear this to work and with that jeans jacket.

Flying Angels Blouse

So I cut out all those angels from the leftover smaller pieces of fabric, overlapped them onto the fabric, exactly over the same angel print and simply stitched “straight” line with the machine over them, starting from the neckline going all the way down to the hem.
I purposly did not stitch those lines straight, one: because I did not have a guide and two: because I know they will never bee exactly parallel, three: I wanted to catch in the seam those flying angels.

Flying Angels Blouse

No, I did not finish the edges of the cutouts. Yes, they will dray eventually, I’d like that.

Now, my fabric has even more movement, my angels jump when I move and everyone thinks there’s something wrong with the blouse, like it is cut or something, I find that very funny and it’s a conversation starter.

I did sew simple rolled hem with the serger at the neckline, sleeves and hem, to finish it off and not have it fray all over.

Jeans Jacket with Organza Embroidery

April 18, 2008

Mirela, originally uploaded by mariuspopovici.

This is my favorite jacket ever!
I have made it based on a La Mia Boutique pattern, I think it was the April issue, 2007, have to check. I like how the patterns in this Italian magazine are perfectly fitted, a lot closer the Burda patterns, this time I wanted to go for the tight fit.
Jeans Jacket

I have chosen this slightly stretch espresso colored jeans fabric from fashion fabrics club, having a jacket in mind at that time, not sure which.
The ribbon is from Ben Raymond’s store in downtown Hollywood. Got it a long time ago, while old Raymond was still there, paid a good 20$ for it, but I had to have it. I was thinking of a silly peasant skirt back then. Unfortunately that little store is closing down, they still have some stuff for sale there, but you have to call ahead of time to see if the seller is there. Raymond has retired, and the owner of the Arts Academy of Hollywood bought some of “If we don;t have it, you don’t need it…” stuff. The number is 954 923 1950, in case anyone would like to call and visit.

My mother got me this La Mia Boutique magazine, I was browsing through it and the perfect project for both my dark brown fabric and my golden organza embroidery was there! Way better then my original ideas!

Since the embroidery was elegant and evening like, it is toned down by the jeans, and the other way around the jeans is lifted up, having a more elegant feel than the worker’s fabric that it is. I guess they even themselves out somehow.
I decided to skip the lining and chose to bind the seams with a silver satin ribbon.
Jeans Jacket

Jeans Jacket

I did the top stitching with a special top stitch thread and special needle with a larger eye.

Jeans Jacket

I attached the embroidery using a gold metallic thread with another special needle, so that was really fast and the seam doesn’t show only if you know about it and you use a magnifying glass.

Jeans Jacket

Hand basted on the sleeves:
Jeans Jacket

These are my first bound buttonholes, against my fearful belief, they are not the difficult to make. I used Vogue sewing book for a guide, they show about 5 kinds of bound buttonholes.
They did not turn out perfect, the kind of opened up too much after hand sewing the facing…maybe next time.

Jeans Jacket

Jeans Jacket

I’ve put a lot of work into this one. Usually I like fast projects, like those simple jersey tops, stuff that can be made in a day. The jacket took a week, working only in the evening and a weekend, but I like the outcome and have a few more jackets plans in the future.

Technology Upgrade

April 18, 2008

Yeay! I’m so excited! I have just completed my order of a brand new sewing/embroidery machine!

I wanted something like this for so long, I am finally getting it. I have read and read the pros and cons and reviews, opinions, features of Brother and Singer Futura and finally decided that this is what I need:

The package

Brother HE 120, I have found it at HSN Home Shopping Network online store, it comes with the PED Basic software and memory card writer, so I can download designs and create my own.

Same drop in bobbin case as in CS 8150:

Drop in Bobbin Case

Many sewing feet:

Memory Card writer and PED Basic software:
Memory Card Writter

But really, are we in 2008?? I can’t believe how Brother is selling us a 4MB memory card on a proprietary memory card type, instead of a simple USB port or a regular SD card, and 4MB? LOL! I mean come on! this technology has been out there for so long, I’m sure it would be easy to just incorporate it into the machine, it should not be so pricey. Not only grandmothers that are oblivious to the present are sewing. And even some of them know what memory is and how available it is for computer usage. We know this is not worth so much, it’s just that there aren’t that many choices out there and it is all about marketing and a more limited market… unfortunately….

Look online for coupons if you decide to buy from them, I got a 15% off as this was my first buy from HSN.

Why I did not go with Singer? After all, I have their Quantum Lock Serger. I also had another serger from Singer, the cheaper one, and I returned it immediately. It was noisy, unstable: really moved off my desk, slow…well… I read mixed opinions about the Futura, which can connect to the computer directly through a cable, did not like that much the decorative stitches, nor the buttonholes (just 2 kinds compared to 8 or 10 from Brother). Some said that the software was not compatible with their computers, got pour customer service, others said it gives constant error messages, and that it is harder to fix problems and you spend more time on that instead of embroidering. Others were very happy with it, others had to return it. So I was really afraid to go that way and miss out on what I have now with my current machine.

I really wanted to keep the functionality of my current Brother CS 8150 that I really love a lot. The HE 120 seams at first sight very similar to the SE 270D that Disney Embroidery machine from Brother, except the SE does not do so many things.

Also I was considering the PE 700 II that was a USB cable and can connect directly to a computer and has a larger hoop, but that is double the price and just an embroidery machine, lacking all those goody utility stitches.

Also PC 420 the new Project Runway limited edition features are already included in the HE at a cheaper price, plus this HE embroiders from the card! Might have a better/safer threading system. Has more decorative satin stitches.

Speaking of utility stitches, so far I have not used all of them of course, but I do like the flower borders and the idea of sewing cross stitches and satin and other decorative stitches.

To compare the Brother machines, I downloaded and studies the User Manuals from the Brother site:

I am only upgrading because I’m curious about the embroidery part. What am I going to embroider thought? I have no clue yet, names, borders, the possibilities are endless, but I will try to use it for clothes, more then home design. I would like to have my custom labels to sew on my creations, also make custom gifts for special occasions.

My dear machine is going to be for sale 😦 in case I’m going to fall in love with this one, after it arrives.

She has served me well and I will always love her.

We never-ever argued or fight no matter what I asked from her.

So did I make the right choice for me? I’ll have to see…
Opinions, suggestions, other options, experiences, what do you think?

Jersey Camisole and Blouse

April 15, 2008

Jersey Cami, originally uploaded by fmirela.

Tired of waiting around for my husband to feel like taking pictures, I took these with the remote, since I have a long queue of projects I wanted to write about.

Pattern: Burda WOF 12/2006.
I like this top a lot, but was in more need of a sleeveless, with built in bra camisole. I made only the front based on the pattern and lowered the back, added the spaghetti straps and turned it into this comfortable camisole.

Jersey cami

I have found this elegant Blister Pearl in a silver setting, in a small Bayside Mall shop, Miami. It is very comfortable on silver satin ribbon, tied in a bow at the back.

Jersey Cowl neck Top

Pattern: Burda WOF 10/1998

This has to be one of my favorite patterns for a blouse. I must have sewn this at least a dozen times. It can be made out of narrow fabrics and can be made with or without the back darts. The cowl neck is really easy to finish, no seams are visible on the right side and I like to make it a bit looser/larger than what the pattern suggests.

I wear this over the cami made in the same fabric and with the Eva Jacket and Burda Skirt made in that gray paisley jacquard.

Book Fair

April 14, 2008
Book Fair, originally uploaded by fmirela.

This picture was taken in November at a book fair in Miami, where I have found this 500 Crochet Stitch Designs book, which is really a treasure, complete with photos of samples, diagrams and explanations.

The top I was wearing is crochet in size 10 crochet cotton, my own pattern, which I’m not so thrilled about, and I’m actually considering unraveling it and changing the neckline. It turned out to be too wide. The back is very low ‘cut’ and I’ll like to try and keep it that way. I’ll have to keep this one in the closet until I’ll find the appropriate patience and inspiration for the makeover. A little update on my other projects: I have finished that jeans and organza embroidery jacket a long time ago, took it to Romania and back on my last trip there in March. I have also finished a jersey cami with built in bra and a cowl neck blouse out of the same fabric. I have sewn the Mina dress from Burda Style, it’s still on my dress form. Did not have a special occasion to wear it to yet. I have finished the knit silk slip from Knitting Lingerie Style, knitting and sewing. I really like the outcome of that although the cups are rather small and it is sort of revealing, not work appropriate. I knit a little thong too, but that turned out to be too large. I have finished the knit part of my second silk slip, using leftover yarn (50g ball) and the leftover fabric from the Mina dress.

The Yarn is Endless Summer Luna from Elann, I love it, but it seams it is not available anymore…


Now all I need to do is get my dear husband take the pictures so I can really brag about everything.

I will be traveling again for training in Tel Aviv and then I will be in Romania again for a whole week of ‘vacation’ at the end of May! I’ll need to make a visit to that little Italian fabric store i my home town, see if I ‘need’ anything. Of course I don’t! but I’m sure they will have something I want in the store. There is also a little Chinese shop with gems and pearls that are to die for, maybe I’ll get some for more jewelry projects. Last time I had the change to get them I did not and felt sorry I didn’t afterwards, so this time hopefully I will.

I plan on sewing BurdaStyle’s JJ blouse in a silk polka dot purple fabric, a purple jacket lined in purple silk. I could not resist myself and bought some more fabrics from my favorite online fabric store:

Dark Brown Angel Prints on Ivory Stretch Silk Chiffon Fabric stretch silk angels

This may be for BurdaStyle’s Jane PJs and some lingerie…

Mini Purple Dots on Black Sheer Silk Chiffon Fabric dot silk

BurdaStyle’s JJ blouse again maybe? I’m not sure, or the Elinor?

Solid Deep Purple Fine Line Silk Twill Fabric to use as lining for the cotton purple jacket. purple silk twill

This I think will be lining for the jacket. The Jacket pattern may be BurdaStyle’s Stella?

I have bought Hemp cord from JoAnns and was pleasantly surprise to see that it is made in Romania! I have made a little owl based on an online tutorial and want to make a grocery bag on big wood handles.

That’s it so far!

Silk Slip – Knitting Lingerie Style

April 4, 2008

This is what the lace section from the Silk Slip looks like, after all that studying on combo knitting and slanting decreases.

Yarn: Patrons Grace
Needles: 3.5

I guess it is pretty close to the pictures in the book, I wish I did not knit all 4 repeats of the pattern, but I’m quite ok with it as a first hand knit lace work.

Both my cups are finished and waiting to dry on the ironing board.

Silk Slip - Knitting Lingerie Style

I have found the right interfacing for it, although I’m still wondering how that is going to feel directly on the skin, especially in that sensitive area…I have found it at JoAnns.
It is a sheer jersey Pellon interfacing that can be applied by steaming only without pressing, and it is transparent enough so that it does not show through the knit work.

I’m casting on the midriff!

Combined / Combination Knitting

April 2, 2008

I just realized yesterday, to my despair, that I knit the combined way.

There is a continental way and an English way, but nooo….I have to do it the combined way…

Why to my despair!? you might ask…After all, this way is faster, yes. Too bad all instructions out there are for the other techniques as are all patterns I have…

So, I need to translate every pattern for machine knitting and switch stitches for hand knitting. When knitting is supposed to be something relaxing and simple, it is anything but, at least during the learning process.

I’m trying to figure out how I’m supposed to do a k2tog and a ssk the combined way.

YO seams to be so easy for everyone, that nobody really explains it.

I’m a beginner at hand knitting, I have only made simple stockinette stitches and always under my mom’s supervision during my school years. It seams that with machine knitting I do not bother that much with right slant or left slant decreases, as I find it easier to just move one stitch over the other, and I never twist the stitches, but I’m a beginner at machine knitting too…

For me, the biggest issue with the combined method is decreasing – to the right or left. Here’s some info I find useful:

  3. a quote from a forum:
  4. “here’s a memory trick–a number 2 has a /in it..
    and a k2tog results in a decrease that leans to right / just like the number 2

    and a SSK or S1, k1, psso –has an S and inside the S is a \ left leaning slant.

    so.. if you the pattern calls for a K2tog the pattern is calling for a / Right leaning decrease

    and if the pattern calls for a SSK or S1,K1, psso, the pattern is calling for a \ left leaning decrease.”

    So it is clearly that I need to reverse k2tog with ssk and the other way around, since all patterns are written for European and Western way…


From the video above, to do a right slanting decrease (a k2tog standard) with the combined knitting method,

  • you slip the two stitches to the right needle one by one,
  • then place them back onto the left needle turning them so that their leading edge is to the front (by inserting the left needle point around the front loop into the loop from right to left – twisting the loop).
  • After reorienting the stitches you do a standard knit two together (by inserting the right needle, around the front loops, through the second stitch and then the first stitch and draw the yarn through, placing it on the right needle).

So in other words, to my understanding:A K2TOG in combined knitting becomes a slip, slip, twist, twist and then knit through front loops together, inserting needle into the second loop first.

A ssk is just a knit the combined way, through both stitches.

Next, I will have to figure out how to do the eyelets. I have tried yesterday and if I purl the combined knitting way the loop that was produced by a YO in the previous row, I do not end up having a hole…

Anyone knows any other/better/right way of interpreting the patterns for combined knitting, please let me know.

P.S. I’m trying to make the Silk Slip from Knitting Lingerie Style…