Recent Projects

Brass Whimsy Blog

posted Oct 28, 2012, 12:01 PM by Jen Brass Jenkins

See more recent projects at the brasswhimsy sewing blog

Stripes: Brush Holder

posted Oct 17, 2012, 8:23 PM by Jen Brass Jenkins

I have somehow managed to fit in small creative projects in the coupla' weeks. Two Sundays ago I made a brush holder for my water color brushes. I started this water color class on a whim with a friend and am hoping to continue taking it next semester (the intermediate section). This is the first-ever formal watercolor training I have had, and I am loving it. So, though it is half-way through this semester's classes, I did finally get my brush holder made (an item which was recommended by our teacher). I built it as a pillow cover (which structure @legally_aud so cleverly noted). The process looked something like the following (although I forgot to take the pic of how I sewed the sides and then flipped it right side out):


It's working quite well to date. I just need a few more watercolor brushes!

Pink Is the New June

posted Jun 27, 2012, 6:41 PM by Jen Brass Jenkins   [ updated Jun 27, 2012, 6:55 PM ]

Pink Lace on Pink Cotton
Or at least pink is my June. I would say that I have made record-breaking purchases in the pink color array recently, but really I have only ventured into a certain shade. (I have always been strongly attracted to Schiaparelli's pink: shocking pink (known to the lay-person as fuchsia), since I worked for a designer at the Utah Shakespeare Festival who designed fabulous things in Le Shocking Pink). But I digress. Of late all of my sewing projects have been pink (if you hadn't noticed in Kimono-Sleeved Shirt), so it feels as though June really has been paletted in pink. (But don't worry if they offend your eyes, there are many other new and beguiling projects in the works.) So, here are the last two I completed recently.  

Of Ruffling Ratios

Pink Ruffled Skirt
 Remember my lovely pink lace on pink cotton fabric? I did make it into this ruffled skirt, and I think it turned out quite fetchingly. I tried to proportion the fabric so that the ruffles at the top were about 1.5 lengths to the length of the top yoke, so 1.5:1, and at the bottom the ruffle/skirt ratio is about 2:1. I am finally starting to maybe master those proportional concepts. I also love the double elastic waistband, so I make an effort to use that style on my skirts and pants. I find it distributes the gathering more evenly (this is also why one of the gathering techniques that you may learn is to sew two very long threads along the top of a ruffle or skirt to gather it. It tends to even it out.) The one thing I would change about this project if I did it again is that I would have made the lace ruffle just a little more full.  

Of Circular Ruffles

I also finished a project I started circa March or February. It is a dress for my mom, also in the color
Mom Modeling Her Pink Dress
pink. I have a pattern that I have made for her based on a favorite (and very basic) nightgown off of which I pattern variations of every estimable kind. Around Christmas time I made up about three nightgowns off of it and more recently I have been working on dress variations. For this particular piece I suggested a ruffle detail on the front similar to one of my sister's shirts involving ruffles of the circular kind. This took me rather awhile to pattern, as I had to recut some ruffles to get the right fullness. I also sewed one on in the wrong place too. (Whoops. That's why it seemed too short.) But I got it all figured out and together the night before I started my new job. Nothing like getting a project out of the way.

It even turned out so well that my mom exclaimed she would have to wear it to a wedding reception or some fancy occasion. I love to see her do that little "I love it, and I am so pretty!" dance. Totally. Worth. The. Time.

Pink by Aerosmith

And last, but certainly not least, I will also confide to you that when I first heard this song, I was obsessed. It may have driven my new appreciation of Le Shocking as well.

Next Up: Work clothes! I don't own enough! And I can never find anything that I want to wear per se. Although I did come across some one-piece jumpers (THEY'RE BACK) in the Kardashian Sears collection the other night when I was frenetically seeking out some new ensemble to wear...

Pink, it's my new obsession, yeah 
Pink, it's not even a question 
Pink, on the lips of your lover 
'Cause pink is the love you discover 
Pink, as the bing on your cherry 
Pink, 'cause you are so very 
Pink, it's the color of passion 

Moi in Pink

Kimono-Sleeved Shirt for Graduation

posted Jun 6, 2012, 2:55 PM by Jen Brass Jenkins   [ updated Jun 27, 2012, 7:05 PM ]

Pink Textured Knit

I really want to make something...

This last weekend I had the most fabu experience of graduating with my Master's Degree in Communications. While I originally intended to make a dress for this occasion, as usual, the dress I was thinking of fell out of favor for a quicker solution. Somehow I found this fabric (actually it was in my stash) for maybe $3 if (I remember right) at JoAnne's, and for some reason I thought it could work into something. You know those fabrics that are bordering on tacky but could be cool if you use them
Blue Shirt
the right way?
Also, I thought it could present an interesting sort of print for this season of mixed prints. (I don't know if the whole mixed prints thing is becoming big because it has been so popular on Project Runway, or if it started before then, but I'm on the bandwagon.) I also had a skirt my sis had given me, oh, maybe four years ago or so, that I have never worn 'cause I needed something to wear with it.

So I lifted a pattern

I lifted a pattern off of a shirt that fits well with a kimono sleeve (please forgive very bad picture; it's actually a navy blue shirt with sliver stripes) and then added a cowl neckline to it. Alas, I had only a yard and a half of fabric and a cowl neckline must be cut on the bias. So here is
Creative Cutting
me doing some creative cutting—as in I totally pieced the back. I used to pride myself on piecing. Yah, whatever. It's way too much work!

Seaming the Shoulders I even made sure to put twill tape along the shoulder seams. The twill tape keeps the seams from stretching out too far. Usually I'm too lazy to do that, but this fabric had enough stretch that it was w
orthwhile. And, wah, lah: (notice the diagonal stripe on the shirt, which indicates it's on the bias. Also the shirt tapers at the bottom to fit not too snug, but nicely around the hips.) Of course, it looks much, much better with the ensemble as a whole. And that was my fabu look for graduation.
                                Finished Shirt                              
Final Effect

Weekend Finery for Of Mice and Men

posted May 7, 2012, 8:44 PM by Jen Brass Jenkins   [ updated May 7, 2012, 8:46 PM ]

First Vest Fitting

What. A. Weekend. 

I can't even tell you how drama-fied it was. I will start first, however, with notes about the vest I was making for dapper Misha to wear to the opera. If you will recall, we had picked out the fabric, two prints actually, and I was ready to do the first fitting. 

Cutting the Collar
The vest fit perfectly, and Misha and I were both quite pleased with how it was shaping up. I took special care to cut the collar and welt pockets with that nice pinstripe at a diagonal. Notice also that I lined up the center front lines (which I had marked quickly with a pink thread hand-sewn along the center front line) and pinned the vest there to ascertain the exact fit.

Of Welt Pockets and Grommets
Sewing Welt Pockets

Next up came the welt pockets. I was so excited to make such a gorgeous vest with functional welt pockets that I commented to my sister that I had never made a one before. Then I realized what a dumb statement that was, since I have made literally hundreds of vests in my work at Utah Opera (USUO); I have just never made one out of my own studio. I did experience a few trying moments of "OMG! How come when Mili cuts that, it's so much better!" (Mili is the tailor I worked for at USUO.) I did manage though, somehow, to come out with a decent product.
Back Vest Fastners

I also grommetted (can grommet be a verb do you think? I certainly use it as such) the back fastners so they would have a lace-up effect rather than using the traditional buckle (the lace-up back on a vest is more period than current fashion, and I think way more posh looking). The grommetting process is always fun, but a bit nerve-wracking since you want the grommets to set properly and not pop out at a random moment.

There is also a real science to pressing the fabric also after you have sewn in the welt pockets or the lining or added grommets. It's a sort of steam and pull approach in order to get the seams to relax a little and lay exactly how you want them to. Alas, this fabric was a bit more difficult to work with than I had expected, but still turned out pretty beautifully (I thought). 
Finished Vest

The Evening Out

And finally, the events leading up to the actual evening were pretty crazy. They involved a deflated me due to dress trauma, a damaged tire (seeing Mindi standing in the Firestone lobby in her sky-hi shoes and formal dress getting a new tire was somewhat memorable), glacial service at our pre-performance dinner, and rather haphazard parking arrangements due to extreme lateness. We did manage, however, to take our own photos on the red carpet (we were too late to join the official photo-shoot line) in the two minutes before we rushed to our seats in the opera house. And the opera was a bit of a tear jerker, so I was really glad my mascara seemed to be waterproof. Nothing really went as planned (and this has been a month in the planning), but, it was certainly an evening to remember.

Current State of the Blue Dress
Also, I'm not sure if you recall, but I had hoped to make my own dress to wear that evening. Alas, when it still wasn't coming together after 30 hours of work up to the day before the evening out, I decided to call it quits. (Hence the "deflated me" statement above.) I think I can still pull this dress together somewhat, but I need to do a few more alterations: re-cut the sleeves, fix the hem, and buy the right accessories. This photo of it gives you a little idea. I am going for a very vintage feel with a slip underneath involving ruffled netting and a hem that stands out via horsehair. But making a dress for myself is ever-so-much harder than making something for other peeps! Fitting, in particular, is a challenge.
A Night at the Opera: On the Red Carpet

So, there were some successes for this occasion and a wee failure, but you must pick your battles. Right? We still managed to look fairly good and have an interesting evening. After all, there is always next season to begin planning for!

Waistcoat Whimsy: Fashion for a Friend

posted Apr 17, 2012, 3:22 PM by Jen Brass Jenkins

Dapper Misha
At the last opera (Elixir of Love by Utah Opera) I met a new friend. He has a marvelously dapper figure and a flare for the dramatic, so his date, Mindi, and I decided to surprise him with a custom made vest for the upcoming opera.

Here is our process and tentative schedule to date:

April 14 - Picked out fabric and pattern and took measurements
Week of April 15–21 - Cut vest according to basic measurements for first fitting

Pattern and Fabric
We stopped by more than one fabric store and ended up finding our fabric choices at the Design Company Fashions and Fabrics. The pattern is a basic McCalls. I prefer to start with a base pattern and alter from there rather than draft my own completely from scratch. 

The purple (though the color isn't quite as vivid in the pic as in real life), raised velvet satin is the vest front, the pinstriped fabric the contrasting shawl collar, and the silver the back and lining. I'm quite excited to see the mixed prints together as I plan on cutting the pinstripe shawl collar on the bias/at a diagonal.

Next up: fit, add welt pockets, lining, buttons, and back lace up

Elixir of Love Skirt

posted Apr 12, 2012, 6:32 PM by Jen Brass Jenkins

The evening of March 10 was an excellent outing. Though I have sewn since I was 12 and made things for many, many people, I have rarely sewed for myself. Thus, though it was odd, I decided I finally needed some fancy things here and there to call my own. I determined to create a skirt out of some copper-colored fabric I had in my collection to wear to Utah Opera's spring production, Elixir of Love, and actually got it done in time. Shocking!

Copper-Colored Fabric
I could pretty well picture what I wanted the skirt to look like from the beginning—the fabric spoke to me as it were (it is a copper-colored weave, probably polyester). I tend to like at least partial elastic waistbands, and an a-line shape seems to look best on my figure, so I dreamed up a skirt with an asymmetrical hemline and ruffles, oh so many ruffles. (I'm not quite sure what it is about ruffles, but I have something bordering on an obsession with them. The blouse I wore with the skirt has ruffles as well...)
Ruffles, Oh So Many

I didn't use a pattern at all for this, just drew one up according to my hip measurements. Now that I have that basic pattern (called a sloper), I will use it to draft other skirts from. I did have to do some finegaling (technical term) to get the darts right (the back of the skirt has elastic in it and the front is flat with darts; also there is a side zip). Fitting things on yourself is not the best method. But, I ended up with something I was reasonably pleased with and, more importantly, that would not fall apart if I wore it. All in all, the evening was a great time.

Finished Skirt
On the Red Carpet at the Elixir of Love

1-7 of 7