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SusanKhalje


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Member Since: 05/04/2009

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Make a Couture Lace Skirt

An easy and wearable garment teaches essential guipure sewing techniques.

How to Finish Seams on Chantilly Lace

There are a variety of methods for seaming lace. However, they can be challenging if working with delicate lace such as Chantilly. I'll show you a clever technique for finishing seams on tricky lace fabrics.

How to Sculpt With Pleats

Fold fabric like Madame Grès and create works of art.

How to Support a Dramatic Sleeve Cap

When it comes to adding support to sleeve caps, you have a variety of options: standard, shaped, extended shoulder pads, and all manner of sleeve heads. In this case, we needed something different; we needed a little internal support.

Combine Topstitching and Binding for an Elegant Seam Finish

Sometimes seams need to be bound. Other times they need to be topstitched. Here, I'll show you how the two elements have been combined to produce an elegant seam finish.

An Interesting Embellishment Technique

It's rare to see something new and different in the sewing world, so I was intrigued by an embellished fabric that a student brought to class. I'll show you how to re-create this technique.

How to Make a Hidden Button Placket

This placket is subtle, simple, and easy to make.

Re-create Couture Pleated Silk Organza Panels

There's a little more to these pleated silk organza panels than meets the eye. Here's how to make them look absolutely beautiful!

Create Gentle Inner Support with Horsehair

Yes, there's boning. But there are other tools at your disposal too, among them horsehair.

Couture Construction

In this article, Susan Khalje walks you through putting a garment together with couture methods.

How to Dye Silk Organza

It can be difficult to find exactly the right shade of silk organza; especially if it's to be used under lace and meant to match one's skin tone. Here, I'll show you how I do it.

Couture Techniques for a Better Fitting Waistband

Couture expert Susan Khalje shares her techniques and tips on how to add hooks, eyes, snaps, and other small finishing details to achieve a better fitting waistband.

Firming Up Fabrics with Gelatine

Stabilizing fabrics is nothing new - and it can be a big help.

How to Underline Garments

Learn how to select the correct underlining, and how to mark it and join it to the fashion fabric.

How to Work with Lace Fabric

With these skills you will find that lace is versatile, forgiving, and surprisingly easy to sew.

Eliminate Separate Facings for Elegant Edges

Apply a lining to a curved neckline and an armhole edge for an elegant couture technique.

Inside a Designer Jacket

Learn the four key features of a Chanel-style jacket.

How to Use Pins the Right Way

Sometimes it's the simple things that need to be given a little thought.

Creating a Minifacing

Mini-facings, right in the corners of a square neckline, stabilize angled seams without needing separate facings.

The Work of Weaver Teresa Kennard

Take a look inside the work of this talented weaver.

Setting a Sleeve By Hand

This lesson on sewing a sleeve into a jacket by hand is unquestionably a master class technique.

Hand Understitching

There are subtle differences between garments that are hand-understitched and those understitched by machine.

A Pretty Blue Coat

At first glance, it's a simple little coat. But a closer look shows a number of well-thought-out details.

Hanging a Garment Properly

Certainly, the lion's share of making a garment is in the designing, the fitting and the sewing - but there are always a few little finishing details to take care of, and among those is how to hang the finished item just the right way.

Creating Perfect Bias Fabric Loops

It's all in the details (well, not all of it), but an otherwise nicely-made garment can be spoiled by less-than-perfect finishing touches. Here's a guide to creating perfect fabric loops.

A Nice Little Suit

A consignment shop find is full of wonderful touches, both inside and out.

How to Keep Strapless Garments in Place

Careful fitting goes a long way towards keeping a formfitting garment in place.

Little Black Dress From Start to Finish

What is it that makes the little black dress so coveted?

The Other Side of Couture!

Take a look at the beautiful jackets Mary Ellen Velky wears when competing on horseback.

Inside a Silk Charmeuse Jacket

I had a chance to re-visit a jacket I'd made some time back for a client - I thought you might like to see the inside story!

Create Ripple-Free Piping

Sewers of all levels can definitely tackle this wonderful design detail.

Revisit Retro Details

Learn techniques for tying knots with padded cord and how to finish a bound buttonhole.

How to Use Muslin

Sewing and altering a muslin test garment is time-consuming but essential to developing a beautifully fitted couture garment.

Balenciaga in New York

There's a wonderful exhibit in New York - more than 70 of the great Spanish couturier Cristobal Balenciaga's items are on show at The Queen Sofia Spanish Institute.

Sewing findings on securely

It's disappointing to look inside an otherwise nicely-sewn garment and see snaps or hooks and eyes that are poorly sewn on. Happily, couture comes to the rescue with a technique that elegantly combines form and function.

How to Cover Snaps

Fine finishing details are a hallmark of beautifully-sewn clothing. Here's an easy technique to add to your repertoire.

More Vintage Inspiration

Take a look at this sampling of exquisite vintage garments; This time from the collection of a murder-mystery writer, who uses them for inspiration.

Carla's Opera Coat

An elegant couture opera coat from the 60's inspires and educates

Zipper Madness

There are times when a zipper is much more than a simple and unobtrusive closure.

Thread Bars

There are lots of options for closures, and thread bars are often overlooked. Best of all, they're nice and sturdy, and fun to make, too.

Substance: A Boutique with a Conscience

Betsy Stevenson designs a collection for a Columbus, Ohio boutique that has a strong social conscience.

Sewing Perfect Matchpoints on Intersecting Seams

Lining up intersecting seams can be tricky - despite careful pinning, things often shift. Here are a few techniques to improve your results!

Vintage Inspiration

A look through the vintage garment collection of my friend Cindy Dahlin.

Working with Embellished Fabrics, Part 2

Threads contributing editor Susan Khalje shows how to expertly finish a garment created with embellished fabric.

Working with Embellished Fabrics, Part I

Embellished fabrics can be intimidating to work with. Care and effort, however, could yield beautiful results.

Close Up with Charles Kleibacker

An interview with the “Master of the Bias” on fabric, design, and being original.

Installing a Decorative Zipper

This installation is a little different - the zipper is placed into a partially-sewn seam.

The Trousseau of the May Queen

An exhibit currently showing in Paris displays the stunning royal trousseau of Marie-Jose of Savoy and its fabulous array of 1930's haute couture.

Hemming a Pleated Skirt

Here's a tip or two for hemming a pleated skirt. While most of the hem is straightforward, the back edges of the pleats need to be treated differently.

Mary McFadden Exhibit in D.C.

Visit the Mary McFadden exhibit at the National Museum of Women in Washington, D.C. to see this designers amazing garments and her inspiration.

Choosing Chanel-style jacket trims

We'll look at a number of options for trimming Chanel-style jackets

Padded Cord Ties Better Knots

Learn to make padded cord ties to embellish any garment.

A Hand-Picked Zipper is Worth the Effort

Show off your stitches with this easy-to-learn technique.


recent comments

Re: Video: Couture Techniques for Building a Waistband

to Michelle -
Good question!
In that case, I think I often use a clip hanger. Of course you can do the standard hanging loop thing, but I'm never thrilled with that. And from an engineering/weight point of view, using a clip hanger is probably going to support the garment the best, which is what you want.

Re: Video: Couture Techniques for Building a Waistband

To answer a couple of your questions, yes, the orientation could certainly be changed for a left-handed person - after all, it's all about ease of use (and the logic of that), so yes, absolutely. And those are just the sort of adjustments that are incorporated into couture garments.

As for the curve of the grosgrain, it's flexible enough to handle to curve at the top of the skirt/trousers, and of course, once that waistband fashion fabric goes on, it straightens out.

There are times when grosgrain needs to be shaped - and that's when it's used as a sort of inner yoke at the top of a skirt of trousers - and in that case, it does have to be shaped. And if you're using the right kind of grosgrain - the type with the little scallops along the edges, then you can steam it into a gentle curve. You can put it on top of the garment itself, or the pattern - that will guide you in shaping it - you'll see what curve it needs to take. Just sort of curve it and gently pull it as you iron - and you'll find that it curves. You may need to repeat the process a couple of times - it will incorporate a little more curve with each pressing.

Re: An Interesting Embellishment Technique

To RKR - actually, it is machine sewn - pretty rough stitching, but it's definitely by machine. The beads were sewn on last, by hand, but the rest is machine.

Re: An Interesting Embellishment Technique

Hadn't thought of prints - I also think an array of colors would be pretty, too......really pale pastels......

Re: An Interesting Embellishment Technique

To Ooch - Yes, I suppose I could have done this step by step, but hopefully the post gives enough information to inspire you to play around a little bit. Any of these techniques are just starting points - size will vary, the fabric the flowers are made with will vary (though I do think the silk georgette is a pretty good choice - all those little pleats are built in for you).
And another nice feature of having the beads in the middle was that when I pressed the fabric (right side down), they lifted it away from the ironing board, so the flowers stayed sort of fluffy - otherwise they'd have flattened out.

Re: Re-create Couture Pleated Silk Organza Panels

Sorry I don't have a picture of the finished dress - it was one of two projects Cheryl was working on in class, so her focus with this was to master those pleats. The dress was a sheath of black and cream houndstooth wool, done a la Chanel, with parallel lines of quilting and hand-finished inside lining seams. There will be fringed bias strips of the wool around the neckline, the seamline where the pleated yoke joins the top of the dress, on either side of the pleated band that's along the hemline, and along the bottom of the pleated sleeves.

Re: Create Gentle Inner Support with Horsehair

For those of you were interested in the finished inside of the dress, there's now a photo of that at the every end of the post - you'll see the silk crepe de chine lining (put in by hand) as well as the grosgrain waist stay.

Re: Create Gentle Inner Support with Horsehair

To User -
Yes, it is the nylon braid that's fairly flexible - it can be as narrow as 1/2" and as wide as 4" or so. I was somewhat surprised that Norma found this 1" variety in the local chain store - they generally only have the narrow one that comes rolled up in a package (which would have worked, also, but I was much happier with this one).
As for a hard copy of the book, that's a question for Norma!

Re: Create Gentle Inner Support with Horsehair

Re. the horsehair, yes, it does have a mind of its own! We cut it into lengths - 6 pieces, 3 per side - so as to avoid dealing with folds. We didn't compress it particularly - and of course that stitching on it helped control it (and keep the layers together). It pretty much behaved when it was placed against the fabric - there's a gentle curve there, but it didn't need much encouragement. And its rough edges were buffered by all the layers of fabric.

Re: Create Gentle Inner Support with Horsehair

The lining was indeed applied by hand - there's really no other way it could have been inserted. The top edge was staystitched, then it was pressed along that line (to set the curve - pressing it first eliminates cave-ins where the clips are) - and then clipping, then it was sewn to the fashion fabric with a fell stitch. Finally, it was understitched by hand with prick stitches about 1/2" or so below the top edge. The grosgrain waist stay was sewn in by hand, too, tacked along its bottom edge where the boning channels were. It fastened independently, of course, with hooks and eyes, carefully oriented so that they didn't dig into Norma's waist once they were hooked.

Re: Create Gentle Inner Support with Horsehair

Dear LuvThreads,
LOL! I'll inform Mr. King. Thanks for your support!!!
K+K

Re: How to Dye Silk Organza

So glad you all find this helpful - and yes, an extra bath (and stronger coffee) can get the fabric to just the right shade you need. And of course, there are commercial dyes for this purpose, too, should you prefer to use something other than what's on hand. And that's exactly why it's so useful to be able to dye your own organza - clearly, the range of skin tones is huge - and digging through even the best fabric store to find just the right shade is pretty much impossible.
I've only tried dyeing polyester ribbons, and that's not been successful at all - as you might imagine. So I don't think poly organza would be dyeable, at least not this way.

Re: Firming Up Fabrics with Gelatine

And yes, we did pour the left-over gelatine water into the plants (I was teaching at a hotel in Houston, and there was shubbery outside the door.......). I don't think we did any lasting harm to that poor plant - I think it suffered more from the 100 degree heat than the fluid.....!!!
Now, as for stretch velvet, I have no idea....I'd be more afraid of what the water would do to it than what the gelatine would do to it!
I do recall once, though, at another class (this time at The Sewing Workshop in SF), when a student was having trouble with a really slippery velvet, and Karine Langan (owner of TSW) grabbed some sort of spray adhesive - I totally forget the name, and boy, it worked like a charm. It seemed a little drastic at the time, but boy, it did the trick!

Re: Firming Up Fabrics with Gelatine

Yes, it can be pressed - in fact, we had a lot of fun pressing little pleats into the chiffon. Sadly, though, they'd disappear as soon as you washed out the gelatine. Oh well!
And I totally agree, lots of pins is the way to go, as is lots of hand-basting, but - and I'm the last one for tricks or gimmicks - this does firm things up a bit. Will it make the fabric super stiff? No, but it will make it a little easier to work with - and as I mentioned in the post, I kept thinking how much more stable the chiffon, especially, would be, when cutting and applying a bias binding. I've often put an inner layer of silk organza into chiffon bias binding, just to firm things up and make the whole process more stable, but this would eliminate that step. And of course, factor into the whole situation the various hands of silk chiffon - sometimes it's super slick (the iridescent ones in particular); sometimes it's grainier (the georgettes) - but it's just nice to have one more tool when it comes to controlling a slippery fabric.

Re: How to Attach Hooks, Eyes & Snaps

Re. finishing the back - generally, this technique would be used where there are multiple layers, so that back is covered. Unless they're on terribly light fabric (I'm thinking of something like a single layer of chiffon, for a very lightweight placket), snaps usually go on to multiple layers - you tug on them after all, so the while situation has to be somewhat sturdy.
And I've always referred to the two parts as male and female, and sometimes one hears " ball and socket."

Re: How to Attach Hooks, Eyes & Snaps

I'm so glad you're finding this useful - sometimes the smallest things make such a difference!
I generally use Gutermann thread - it's smooth as you sew (not grainy or lumpy), and it's available everywhere. I also love silk-finish Mettler cotton, but it's a little harder to find.

Re: How to Use Pins the Right Way

That little strawberry was filled (back in the day!) with emery (as in emery board....), and it was for keeping your needles sharp. I've no idea where to find it......
Readers???

Re: How to Use Pins the Right Way

And thanks for the mention - I started carrying them in my classes a number of years ago to make life easier for my students (and I still do, and now they're in my store, as you've so kindly noted!). I was so frustrated seeing my students work with awful pins - things that were so hard to work with, that just destroyed the fabric. The fabulous Judy Barlup first told me about them (and the equally great hand-sewing needles) - she said I needed to make them available to my students. She was so right - anything else seems like a pitchfork compared to them!!! Would I use them to hem jeans? No - but anything else, absolutely - they're so nice to work with.

Re: How to Use Pins the Right Way

And yes, I do put the pins slightly on the diagonal - I think they're a little easier to put in that way than on an exact right angle - they do fall into the hand better. Also, I think I've convinced myself - and this verges on the unproven - that I'm getting two pin's worth (or maybe one-and-a-half) of pinning that way - where it first goes in, then a tiny bit further along, where it comes out. Who knows about that one....!!!

Re: How to Use Pins the Right Way

Funny how such a small thing really does make a big difference....my pleasure to add something new!

Re: What sewing skill do you want to learn next?

We recently (well, a few issues back) did an article about hems - and that particular situation was included.

Re: Creating a Minifacing

If you see my earlier post, you'll see that I refer to the lining treatment. Clearly this is much too fragile to be left uncovered.

Re: Creating a Minifacing

Thanks for all your kind words - nice to know you'll find this useful!
And certainly, all of the inner workings will be covered with the lining - and we did do a couture lining article ages ago - I'm afraid you'll have to consult the archives to fine that one!
But basically, the stitching line of the lining is staystitched, it's turned back then fell stitched into place, then it's understitched (by hand) about 1/2" below the edge. An upcoming article deals with this a little bit, too.

Re: The Work of Weaver Teresa Kennard

I know - the thought of sleeping in something so lovely! But, I have to say, the fabric - which combined wool with cashmere - was very, very soft.
And the Denver class was one of my Couture Sewing School sessions - it wasn't a class for weaving or dyeing. Teresa just happened to be in the class, using a fabric she'd woven (and occasionally I get students who have done that). I was so fascinated with the wool and stainless steel fabric that I asked her to show me more of her work....so that's how it all came about. And interestingly, another student happened to have a stash of antique kimono fabrics and antique Japanese stencils...so that added to the experience, too. Very synergistic!!!

Re: Front Edge and Shoulder Pads for Fantasy Fur Jacket

One of the nicest things about being involved with Threads is that Kenneth and I have become close friends and colleagues. I love seeing his creativity in action, and I thought of him today when I read an article by Nick Axelrod in the September issue of Elle Magazine:
"Raf Simons, the Belgian-born creative director of Jil Sander, is not one for lowest-common-denominator dressing. 'Let's say you are in an environment where 50 women are dressed in....something with a clear accentuation of the body. And then there is one woman who is very much the opposite....me, as a person, automatically I would be much more attracted to that woman, because she has a fascinating and different approach. She stands out against all the others. I think, who is she? What is she all about? What's her psychology? Why does she do this?' "
To continue..."This fall, Simons and other confident designers are proposing an audacious, thought-provoking ideal for everyday fashion - an antidote to a decade of cookie-cutter sameness....taking their cues from master craftsmen such as Christian Dior and Cristobal Balenciaga, they're transforming....dresses into elevated yet accessible ready-to-wear for women willing to pay a premium for resolutely distinctive clothes."
I don't know how many of you saw the wonderful Alexander McQueen exhibit recently, but there was a quote from him on the wall as one entered the space: "I will take you places you've never been before." How rare, and how wonderful is that - and I applaud anyone - McQueen, Kenneth King, Raf Simons - who can do that extraordinary thing.

Re: A Pretty Blue Coat

I'm so glad you're enjoying the details in this coat - it belongs to the daughter of a sewing friend of mine, and it was a not-terribly-expensive off-the-rack coat. The color really is prettier than what shows up online - it was sort of robin's egg blue, and a medium-weight wool. And the sample snap I did used other fabric altogether.

Certainly, the extra fabric shaped into those darts could have been dealt with in a number of ways, but I think this use was fun and lighthearted (not to mention a little bit unexpected), and it certainly worked to give the back the shaping it needed.

Apologies again about the lack of a picture of the whole coat, but you'll just have to take my word for it that the rest of it is pretty straight-forward - knee-length, just a continuation downward of what you see.

Re: Creating Perfect Bias Fabric Loops

to Copywriter - yes, you'd most likely have to hold the facing in place some way - so I'd do a couple of things. I'd catch-stitch the raw edge of the facing to the underlining (if the facing went all the way to a princess seam, then I'd catch-stitch it to that), and I'd also do some understitching along the inside edge of the center front folds - again, through to the underlining. That would help hold things in place, and it would also nicely define the front edges.

Re: Creating Perfect Bias Fabric Loops

for mo12 -
If you're using these sorts of loops for a laced-up back - and you certainly can - you'll want to be sure that the bodice itself is sturdy. There's so much horizontal tension that you may need to counteract it with vertical support, in the form of boning along the looped edges - it's easy enough to hide it in an inside layer. And be sure that your machine stitches really grab the ends of the loops - make your stitches really small.

Re: A Nice Little Suit

My guess is the suit is from the 80's, with its safari-style pockets, and yes, the twill is quite light-weight (in fact, the skirt fabric is a little bit lighter weight. The rosettes on the skirt are all cut on the straight of grain, which is why they "deconstruct" so easily.
Yes, it's young, it's fun, and while I wouldn't wear it (though back in the day I would have), I find the details charming and the workmanship first rate. And yes, it's a little surprising that the buttonholes weren't bound, but they are covered up, and they are flatter worked the way they are. And when I first saw the skirt, I figured that front band would be removeable - well, it is, but it's tacked, not hooked or snapped.

Re: The Other Side of Couture!

To LindaLouise -
It really depends on the show. Some are quite strict, and you need a wholesale license to get in; others are more relaxed and sell to the general public as well as to professionals. Often the vendors are reluctant to sell small orders to the general public - and understandably so - they're just not set up for that, and in fact, sometimes they only have sample fabrics with them. Then again, there are vendors who are perfectly happy to sell small amounts of fabric.
I'd contact the office of the show you're interested in and see what they say.

Re: The Other Side of Couture!

Good morning!
I'm so glad you're enjoying this post - I was pretty interested when I saw these jackets, and I'm glad you like them as well. It was a fun post to put together!
I've asked Mary Ellen to respond to some of your specific questions, and I'm sure she will.

Re: Inside a Silk Charmeuse Jacket

To Belinde, about finding the brocade....as I recall, it came from Satin Moon, a small but very nice fabric store in San Francisco. Britex (also in SF) always has a good selection of those Chinese brocades, too. Just bear in mind that they're generally very narrow.

Re: Inside a Silk Charmeuse Jacket

To Wendy's comment about the frog placement - well, you're sort of stuck in that one frog has to go at the fullest part of the bust, and one has to go at the base of the collar, so that sets the spacing....so the others end up where they end up.
And for Martha, about slippery charmeuse - I always use lots of pins - and patience! Normally, there's an underlining involved, and that helps stabilize things, once you get the two layers together. And of course, basting seams is pretty much required - but, it spares you the frustration of re-doing things and a poor result.

Re: Inside a Silk Charmeuse Jacket

To Point Patou -
I agree about the cuffs - but - it's part of an outfit, and it brings up the whole idea of proportion, which is every bit as important as fit, if you ask me. So, I have to think that when the jacket was on the client, with the long brocade gown, with a person in it, maybe the cuffs didn't look quite as exaggerated as they do now! After all, you want to make a statement, and if they're just sort of normal-sized, then they don't become much of a design detail. And while the jacket is a pretty color and that collar is nice and the frogs are cute, there's not a lot going on. Enter the cuffs!

Re: Inside a Silk Charmeuse Jacket

To Laurie Diane -
The nice thing about putting the lining in by hand is that you can sort of sneak those hooks and eyes in there, and pretty much cover them up. They're sewn on first, of course, then the lining goes in, with small stitches around the hooks and eyes so that the lining stays nice and flat.
They're not the easiest hooks and eyes to fasten (there's so little showing of the hook), but at least they're pretty invisible, which in this case, at least, is the more important issue.

Re: Inside a Silk Charmeuse Jacket

Thank you all for your kind words!
Now, to answer some of those questions...
as for the pattern, I don't remember - but I think it was just a standard princess seamed jacket, and I flared the sleeves out a bit, experimenting with the muslin. Looking at it now (remember this was a few years ago), those sleeves look a little exaggerated, but, there was a whole brocade dress to balance it out, so maybe in the whole scheme of things it must have bee fine.
Nanacosta asked about the layers - and we've got an article on underlining coming up so this is timely - each garment section is treated individually, with its layers. The underlining is marked with stitching lines and the straight of grain - and then that's placed over the flannel (lining up the grain lines perfectly, pinned securely, then cut out - and then that pair of fabrics go on top of the charmeuse - again, being careful with grain lines, and then the charmeuse is cut out. So - the 3 layers work together. There's a lot of smoothing out to do, and once the layers are in order, they're hand-stitched around the perimeter. After that, the 3 layers work as one. And the extra layers don't add a huge amount of bulk - they really don't - and you can always trim the flannel out of the seam allowances; that helps a little bit. And in this case, I sort of like the padding and softness that the flannel added.
And Elsa asked about a crisp hem - underlinings help in this case - but often couture garments don't have a really sharp press on the hem. If you look closely at the hem, there was a little row of basting that held all the layers together just inside the fold line - so that helps.
Susan

Re: Balenciaga in New York

Suzannity wanted to know about Balenciaga books - happily, there are many of them, including these:

Balenciaga and Spain will appear in the spring - it's by Hamish Bowles, who curated the New York exhibit.

Baleniaga and His Legacy, by Myra Walker, accompanied a Dallas Balenciaga exhibit a few years back.

And Balenciaga Paris, by Pamela Golbin, was the book published in conjunction with the large exhibit a couple of years back at the Musee des Arts Decoratif in Paris.
So, plenty to read!!!

Re: How to Cover Snaps

If you go to the end of the article, you'll see that that's been addressed. They're pretty much the same, but the other part is a little more slippery (without that ball to hold the fabric in place), so I think it's good to start with this part first to learn the technique.

Re: Inside My Chanel Jacket

I thought that jacket looked familiar!!!
What a lovely job you did!
And enjoy wearing it - you'll look smashing!
X
Susan

Re: Our Friend, Fred Bloebaum

I've known Fred a long time - we met at the first ever ASDP (then PACC) meeting in Las Vegas in 1993. Even then, her style was impressive - and beneath that style was a person of warmth, enthusiasm, and talent. We roomed together last year at the ASG Conference in Albuquerque - one night, after a long day of teaching, we were too tired to go out, so we ordered room service and watched the ABBA movie on TV. We laughed and laughed - and I love thinking about that evening. I was lucky enough to see her on Mother's Day - and we spent much of our visit waiting for our respective children to call (which they did!). I knew it was probably the last time I would see her, but we took a little walk together after dinner, and did, indeed, stop to smell the roses in the gardens in her pretty neighborhood. It's a bittersweet memory of a dear friend.

Re: Carla's Opera Coat

I think we'll try to do a future article (or at least another post)on that gusset. When I'm next in SF (which will be next month), I'll see if I can spend a little more time with the coat, and perhaps take a pattern off it.
And didn't you love the opera-goer's tale!!!!
Susan

Re: Thread Bars

While Canerday's suggestion of looping the base threads around to the back is tempting, I find that it can sometimes distort the thread bar and pull the whole thing out of place. And as for that spiraling of the knots (and it does happen), if you twist your needle as you work (rotate it when you grab it to twist the thread - you're going to be spinning it counter-clockwise, if you're looking straight at your thumb and index finger), that will counter-act the tendency. In fact, that's a good thing to do with all your hand sewing, whenever the thread starts to twist. It beats holding it in the air to let the thread un-twist, at which point the needle often falls off and lands on the floor!
Although you're hardly aware of it, you're constantly re-grabbing your needle - and if you feel the thread starting to twist - and this may never happen, it may happen with every stitch, it may happen every 10 stitches, who knows - just give the needle a little spin as you grab it.

Re: Vintage Inspiration

By the way, I asked Cindy how she thought that ruffle on the chiffon blouse had been finished - and she said it looked as if it had been hemstitched, then cut apart (as suggested above).

Re: Vintage Inspiration

I'm so glad you're enjoying the garments in Cindy's collection - and trust me, this is the tip of the iceberg!!!
Cindy says that the green dress dates from the 1860's, and the embroidered blouse is from the 1890's - 1900.
Susan

Re: Working with Embellished Fabrics, Part 2

I'm so glad you're enjoying the post - it was a fun project. To answer a few questions:
- I stand by my no-smashing-of-beads policy (see my longer comment in part 1)
- I got the fabric at Mendel-Goldberg in New York
- I don't do any extra machine stitching with the zipper - I've found that double thread, coated with beeswax and then pressed, really is strong enough; kind of amazing, but if you ever take one of those zippers out, then you realize how sturdy they are
- and the basting that holds the fashion fabric to the underlining stays in; it's done so that very little thread is on the public side of the fabric (nothing to snag); almost all of the threads, therefore, is on the inside
- and finally, I trained in couture in New York, at a wonderful small couture house called Chez Cez et Bez. Sadly, it's no longer there, but I use what I was taught there every time I sew.

Re: Working with Embellished Fabrics, Part I

I'm going to have to disagree with pheather - I've never liked the idea of smashing the beads (though I know people do that) - I'm uncomfortable with the idea of glass shards, no matter how tiny, inside a garment or in the workroom. And there are chain stitches and there are chain stitches - some pull apart right away, but often they're more stable than you'd think - tugging at the remaining beads will be your clue. I prefer a tiny dab of glue on the underside of the fabric, or an extra stitch or two to hold things in place.
Susan

Re: Hemming a Pleated Skirt

Hi Julie -
No, it's not a kick pleat - it's simply a hem with pleats. And when you hem that sort of skirt, the area at the back of the pleat - that back fold - can get awfully when it's hemmed, when there's a seam along the back edge of the pleat. And with any sort of a pleated skirt, there's got to be a seam somewhere, even if there's only one seam in the whole skirt. So, folding up the hem allowance and dealing with those seam allowances can get a little bulky - they're hard to fold with the seam allowances inside the fold. So this is another way to deal with that. Basically, the seam(s) are open, the skirt is hemmed, then the seams are sewn, sewing through the turned-up seam allowances as well.
I hope this makes things more clear!
Susan