Friday, November 26, 2010

Easy Way to Turn Ties Inside-Out

Have you ever sewed ties for a dress, straps for a chemise, or handles for a bag, and been frustrated with the fiddly task of turning that narrow strip inside-out once you've stitched it?

Here's a simple trick so you can do it in a jiffy.

When you stitch that long edge seam, leave 8cm thread tails at both ends (in case one end breaks).

Take a fat darning needle or other shunter with a blunt end and knot the thread over it.

Poke the needle inside the tube (same end as it's tied at), and pull gently.

The threaded edge of the tie will bend inward and get stuck.

Ease and pull fabric gently while keeping tension on the needle. It will soon begin to slide inward. Sliding is good. The easier it slides, the quicker you'll pull your tie right-side out.

Shunt the fabric over the needle toward the tied end so it scrunches up like a concertina, but don't let it get so tight you can't move it. Ease these folds.

You will need two hands for this task, which isn't shown in these pictures because the hand you can't see is holding the camera.

Some fabrics, like flannelette, are pedantic in slide-mode, but be persistent without forcing and they will respond. I recommend you learn this trick on slippery fabric so you get the feeling for how it should slide.

Extra Tip:
Is your garment too big around the bust, at the back, or under the arms?

The addition of ties fixed into the bodice side seam will enable you to pull the garment to fit your shape. It doesn't have to be a big chunky tie. These skinny minis work wonders and form a cute little bow.

Friday, November 19, 2010

An Eye for Style: how to become a home shopping hostess

A New Zealander in London is showing the English what and what not to wear. Fiona Williams is a fashion savvy Kiwi who married an Englishman. She works from her lovely old six-bedroom home in the Cotswolds, with frequent trips to London and Europe, an interesting juxtaposition which started from a very small idea.

She purchased a dozen garments in London and invited her friends to her house for a clothing sale. Every garment sold, with demand for more. She hosted another party. Demand grew. So did the size of her parties and the number of garments she purchased for them. She has never advertised, but the word has spread about her eye for quality garments at good prices and her knowledge of how to put outfits together to suit the individual. Ladies flock to her parties and spread throughout her large house, trying on clothes and asking her advice.

Is this something you could do? Like Fiona, start small. You don’t know where it could lead!

For those of you who think you might be able to gather a crowd of stylish ladies in your living room, here’s a tip: Get yourself on the mailing list of companies that stock the type of product you’re interested in promoting. For example, below is a notification I received and what could have been done with it. had a pile of stock they needed to move at the end of the spring/autumn season in order to restock. In mid-November they offered 5-suit packs at a 74% reduction, and 10-hat packs at a 65% reduction. There was no guarantee of what colours or styles a client would get in these mystery packs*, but with an initial layout of US$500, one could resell those items for a nice profit and one’s guests would appreciate the chance to try on the suits and hats before purchase, which they couldn’t do if they ordered from the website themselves. The hostess could arrange her suit party prior to the wedding season, when she knew there would be mothers-of-the-bride looking for an outfit.

*The store guaranteed choice of size or sizes between 8-26. Purchaser would receive 5 different suits from the unique collections of award winning designers Lisa Rene, Donna Vinci, DVC Exclusive, and Dorinda Clark Cole. Limit was 2 Suit Packs per customer.

Have you ever had the thought, “Someone should do something about that”?

The person who actually does something about “that” is an entrepreneur.

Do you see a lack in modest clothing options in your region? Do you have an eye for style? Do you enjoy giving fashion advice? Do you have friends who need fashion help? You can become a home shopping hostess!

"Every great advance...has issued from a new audacity of imagination."
- John Dewey

"If you can dream it, you can do it."
- Walt Disney

"Change starts when someone sees the next step."
- William Drayton

"Decide what you want, decide what you are willing to do for it. Establish your priorities and go to work."
- H. L. Hunt

Entrepreneur, Problem-Solver, Modest Fashion Hostess, I wish you well in pursuing your vision. Go get 'em, and let us know how you get on!

BoutiqueNarelle thanks models Hannah and Lydia for their cooperation in the fashion shoot for this post. Couldn't have done it without you, girls!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Nightie Nightmare

Are you familiar with the frustration of a finished garment that looks great but doesn't fit?

Then you know something I've experienced many times. I've learned that this is part of learning to be a good seamstress. Nobody gets it right 100% of the time. The key is to know what to do about it when it does happen.

My case in point is my search for a comfortable, modest nightdress design, one that I could wear confidently around the house during summer without needing a dressing gown. (Don't ask me why I don't just get dressed, because if you don't understand that, my explanation won't help!)

A confirmed pyjama afficionado, I discovered to my surprise that nightdresses are even more comfortable than pyjamas. I'd worked out how to make pyjamas modest (apply interfaced patchpockets), but I didn't have a nightie pattern that had a plain, button-up bodice like my pyjamas. I decided to be clever. I would gather a simple, full-length skirt onto an underwear bodice with sleeves.

This first nightie effort was two layers of cotton topped with a confection of lace and ribbon. Very pretty. Very soft. Terrible fit. That bodice almost gave me nightmares. Why didn't I know there is a good reason why nighties are baggy?

1. It wasn't wide enough across the back to allow me to lie comfortably on my side.
2. It was too wide across the front. The square neckline, despite modification to the scoop, gaped whenever I shrugged my shoulders or leaned forward.  That's not a problem in bed, just out of it. (Like at the bathroom sink with a mirror in front of me, or the kitchen sink with a window in front of me.) I don't like having to remember to place my hand on my chest when I lean, plus what if I need both hands for my task?

1st remedy: I tried pinching a double pleat on each side of the neckline, right on the sleeve seam. Result: better at the front but not at the back.

2nd remedy: I inserted a complex concertina diamond, using as much bodice length as I could without cutting into lace or ribbon. This certainly made a difference, allowing me to sleep in peace -- some of the time.

Positive Points:

a) I liked going to bed in something so girly, a style I wouldn't wear in the daytime; and
b) the dobby cotton lining was a raving success. I adored the luxurious softness of it against my skin, and found that on the hottest summer nights when I couldn't bear any bedcovers over me, I was happy in my cotton 'sleeping bag' nightie, yet didn't get chilled once the night air cooled.

I cut my next nightie bodice a size larger. You'd think it would have been a happy affair, given the fabric I used, but I quickly realized that the bodice was too short. This was a problem on the first nightie, but I was so focused on fixing the other problems that I forgot about this one. Now I woke every morning with the waistline two or three inches higher than it should have been, and I'd have to haul the whole garment downward to get comfortable again.

My realignment of the neckline would have worked well but for that nightly rise. I was modest out of bed, but choking in bed! My solution: wear the top button undone when in bed.

After such failures, would you give up making your own nightwear? I nearly did. I bought a few flannelette nighties for winter, but they wore thin after one season plus I was frozen from the knees down. After another summer of sleeping with my beautiful nightmares, I knew I'd have to figure something out.

This is the result. I used a zipped dressing gown pattern -- the option without a waistline. I made the pink one first, raising the neckline of the pattern, adding patch pockets, and applying a placket to keep those cold zipper teeth away from my warm skin. I also added length to the sleeves (for my long arms) and gathered them onto narrow bands to keep out sneaky drafts.

Victory! I actually made a comfortable, modest nightdress! And the embroidery was so pretty to look at in the cold darkness of winter. I loved wearing it...and hated having to make do with something else while it was being laundered.

My second one was even better. I added extra width to the hem with a godet [a triangular piece of fabric sewn into a skirt or sleeve for extra fullness; pronounced “go-day”]. That worked well, so I'll include that fullness in the skirt of my next nightie.

My first nightie nightmare is being pulled apart -- I'm going to use the skirt fabric to make a summer sleeping bag for my 1 year old niece. I'm sure I'll create a happy use for the smiley faces as well. I've found a nightie pattern that works and I hope to have one or two new ones ready for next summer.

Now you know one of the sea-storm processes I went through on the journey toward becoming a competent seamstress. What have we learned from it?
  1. Compare the size of similar garments you wear with the size of what you're making. If you're not using a stretch fabric, pay attention to shrug allowance.
  2. Try fixing what you have before contemplating a replacement.
  3. Don't give up. Try again, but remember, doing the same thing the same way will get the same results, so look for another way.
  4. When you find something that works, keep doing it!

All the best with turning your own nightmares into victories!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Modesty Isn't About Rules

I know you love getting girly with like-minded girls.  It's a precious thing to have sisters and/or girlfriends who share our values and make time to be with us.
In those girly times, has one of you brought up the topic of modesty? How did it go? It's so easy for friendly discussions to turn into arguments over hemlines.  Were you able to get past the technical do's and don'ts and dig to the core of the matter?

If you did, you know that modesty isn't about rules. Modest is a heart issue, and it effects our relationships.
I know you care about your relationships with the people around you. Take six minutes to find out how you can enhance yours by listening to Elizabeth Inrig in this video answering

What is modesty? who cares? why bother?

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