Friday, March 29, 2013


 3rd Post: Designing My Daughter's Outfit
for the Wedding Reception
 We first went shopping. We found a pretty coral lace top with underlying coral camisole that my daughter really liked. But it had no skirt. So I decided to make a shirt to match. We bought the top and matching pants.

My daughter's feet are hard to fit. Finding shoes would have been impossible, so we decided to use the only pair of shoes she had that would be suitable. The top is coral, the shoes are dart green. That meant she would wear a coral and dark green ensemble.
The best idea seems to be a straight coral shirt with three box pleats inserted with green fabric so as she would walk the dark green would show and match the shoes. Two box pleats in the front, one in center back. The skirt would be long, but  higher in the front to give a little more pizzazz and ease in walking.  If I could find a dark green knit I could make a dark green camisole for her to wear under the lace top. Here's the design:
I found matching coral linen and the dark knit I needed at Gaffney Fabrics here in Philadelphia (5401 Germantown Ave). The dark green knit even has sparkles! And, wonder of wonders, they even had coral China silk for the lining. So next was drafting the skirt pattern and sewing the skirt.
On the right is a diagram of how the kick pleats would be drafted. This is a design that one never sees in ready-made garments because it would use too much fabric.

Here is the layout. The back box pleat has a two inch seam allowance, but in order to cut the skirt from one length of the fabric the front box pleats each had to have a 1 1/2 inch seam allowance

This picture shows me putting the gauges on my sewing machine for 1 1/2 inch and 2 inch seam allowances needed to sew the box pleat seams. In case you are wondering, I sew on a Pfaff 260, a semi-industrial machine in an industrial table that was manufactured probably in the 1940s. It was designed for industrial personnel to use at home. It is a lock-stitch zigzag machine.
That's all for now,
Laurel published books

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

2nd post - cutting and sewing the skirt

My two-piece gown is done.
I've self-lined both the skirt and the blouse. Here is how I cut and sewed the skirt.

To speed making the outfit and to produce a high-end skirt, as you can see from the pattern I cut the entire skirt in one piece. 
Here is a picture of the skirt after I cut it. It is face-down. I have pinned where I will sew the two narrow edges so that the finished skirt will appear to have a back seam and a right side seam. The skirt was cut the full-width of the 45 inch fabric. That meant I only had to cut the waistline at either end of the fabric, as the selvages run down the left side of the skirt.  It also meant I had no hem to set. The skirt is full-length, slit up the left side seam to the knee. I had made a muslin to make sure I had the length correct.  I wasn't sure I would have enough fabric for a waistband so I waited until I had the blouse cut. But I even had enough fabric to sew cording around the neckline, and the armholes as well and across the top of the cuffs. When done the scraps that were left were enough to fill one hand. The entire ensemble was cut from 4 yards, 24 inches. That was the length of the fabric and the exact yardage needed to cut the skirt and blouse. I really lucked out on that one!

Before I cut the skirt I checked the fabric. It had been folded too long in the store where I had bought it on sale. There was a streak down the entire length of the center of the fabric. So I adjusted the skirt pattern so the right side seam would lie down the exact center of the pattern. Once I had sewn the narrow edge down the right side seam - the pinned center of the fabric in the picture, the streak was gone.
The finished skirt looks really great. The top also sewed well. I set the invisible zipper in the top and it went right in, thank goodness.  The cording was tricky, but I'm glad I put in the cording. The ensemble is very basic so it needed the cording to give it some jazz.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

First post

Today I have begun my blog.For a couple of years I have been posting on my business Facebook page, Contemporary Fashion Education, to see if I would have enough to say to justify writing a blog. Turns out I apparently do. So now I am switching to blogging. 

Here I am at my computer, doing what I do most of the time, writing, writing, writing.  If you would like to see what I am writing please visit, my website for the books that are published.

They and the remaining four in-progress books have been and continue to be tested in my school. To learn more about my school please visit

I've got to stop for now. My family and I will be attending a big, blow-out wedding reception the first Saturday in April, which means I've got to get my outfit sewn up and fast. The outfit is designed, the muslins fit, just got to finish the supporting patterns and sew it up. More about all of that later when I have it done and have the time to tell you about it. Stay tuned. Gotta sew! Sew bye for now!