Friday, November 27, 2015

Burda Tri-Color coat 12/2012 # 138, part 1

A few autumn leaves, a couple of frosty nights and my sewing mojo is back. With a chill in the air coat season is finally here!
Do you ever have a pattern that have not bought but keep returning to? Over and over again, thinking about, wondering what fabrics might work, evaluating if it right for your wardrobe? This BurdaStyle pattern is from 2012 and I have probably been looking at it since then. I don't get the magazine but I always take a quick peek at their emails showcasing the new pattern collections so maybe I first saw it there.
Recently someone gave me a gorgeous piece of wool coating and I wanted to use it for something really special. Here is the link to the pattern page.

Burda coat page

The gigantic scarf is obscuring the collar details but fortunately they show it in the other image. And this pattern led me to a discovery that may be well known to you but something I never noticed before. More on that in a minute.

Back to the fabric. That beautiful green wool was given to me, it is a perfect weight of coating fabric. Already pre-shrunk and sealed up in a bag - thus you can see a few wrinkles which pressed out perfectly. I started thinking about combinations for the tricolor coat and remembered that I had a very heavy wool coating in my stash which - wait for it - I bought at some rummage sale or something like  that. It is a 4 yard piece of super dark navy blue wool coating. Just sitting in my stash until needed :)
And I probably paid under $10 for that. So....two fabrics ready and one more needed.

Tricolor coat pics

This is where my silly little discovery happened. I often do a screen capture of the technical drawing image from pattern websites, either to save for a blog post, or to print out and color in with pencils, just to play around with fabric options. This time I had the drawing open in Photoshop and clicked on the paint bucket tool, filled in on the coat and to my surprise it just filled in one section. So I changed color and filled in the other sections. As with so many features in Photoshop (and many many other programs) trial and error or happy accident or crazily frustrated random clicking results in some new epiphany. (or possible erasure of an hour's worth of work but we won't focus on that now). So this may be a well known feature of the technical drawings but it was news to me. And what a perfect pattern to play with this feature.

coat color idea2

I was thinking grey for the third color but my newly found coloring tool helped me decide on something a bit brighter (oh what a surprise, when do I choose the understated). Although the grey is nice and I could imagine this coat in shades of all grey - that would be very sharp looking. So something in the sapphire blue was the winner. Which I didn't have so I had to order fabric. Fortunately I found a perfect choice at Gorgeous Fabrics, a wool coating for about $ 23 yard. Just needed one yard so in the shopping basket it went and you can see it above.

I did make a muslin of this pattern before I cut out my nice wools. Using some scraps of various things and not doing the colors in the same array as the pattern, but I just wanted to check the fit and length. I cut out the Burda size 40 with about an inch added at the hip on the side seams and the fit is spot on. Can I take a minute to rave about the Burda sleeves? I have now made a few Burda jackets and so far their sleeves are really great. Although long! which I guess is better than too short.

tricolor test muslin

Sewing this coat I have taken a lot of photos - so expect a few more process posts along the way.
Here is the first on my sewing process. When it comes to linings, whether in the jacket or coat, or just the pockets, I am not a fan of novelty linings. Inside jeans or shorts it looks cute to have some contrasting cotton and that's a good way to use up scraps, but when it comes to any "serious" coat (defining serious as something I put a LOT of work into and intend to last years) I want the pockets to disappear, or be hidden and have no chance of peeking out.

Pocket seam allowance

So for the pockets which are in the side seams on this coat, I add an extra section of fabric and then sew the pocket bag onto that, which serves to have the coating fabric extend about 1.5 inches into the pocket so the pocket lining stays hidden. Although I did use a dark navy for the pocket lining so it is not very visible anyway.
Sewing process item #2, interfacing. While all these wools are quite thick and this design doesn't need much support (no lapel or traditional collar) the 3 fabrics were slightly different in weight and thickness. I wanted them to all behave the same way so the method to achieve that is interfacing. Also my muslin test showed me that sewing those curvy junctions was very tricky and needed some stabilization.  More on this in my next post but for starters I pulled out all kinds of interfacing and did some tests.

interfacing choices

I always do tests on my fabric and interfacing combos, not just applying the interfacing but then stitching the fabrics together in various combinations to see how they go together. Sometimes I am surprised at what works so the test is always worth the few minutes it takes. For most wools I use this Pro-weft interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply (note I just got an email this morning they are having a sale, 15% off.

Here is the sample I played around with, front and back.

seam interfacing comparison

I tried to create a section that matched the pattern where the 3 colors were joined together, and also included a curve, which I had to snip, making it look like some kind of abstract art face or something. But you can see that the various weights of interfacing applied, then I stitch the pieces together, including where there is interfacing because you want to see how the interfacing does in the seam as well as in the body of the garment. I ended up using several different weights of the pro-weft as well as some knit interfacing in other sections which I will show in a subsequent post. And that image on the left includes a little speck of interfacing on the blue section - something about this wool coating catches every little spare thread or speck of interfacing, which I noticed here on this test and had to be really careful of when I did apply to the real pattern pieces. Also late night interfacing - of course I fused a big piece to my press cloth because it was glue side up. Which is a good indication that it is too late to be sewing and time to turn out the lights, unplug the iron and get some sleep. Also - yay for fusing to the press cloth and not the iron. Thank you Mr. Press Cloth for always being there :).

And now a little sneak peek of the coat in progress.  Lots more details to come for readers who comment that they love to see the in-process sewing and technical details.

Tricolor coat pics

This morning I got some Christmas shopping done, so civilized with my cup of coffee and my laptop. Unfortunately the "one for them and one for me" habit is hard to avoid. Oh well.....

Now off to the gym and then perhaps some garden work is in order. Or I could stay inside and sew. Decisions, decisions. Oh who am I kidding, I will probably sew.

Happy Thanksgiving weekend and wishing everyone delicious leftovers  - one of the best parts of this great holiday

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Buried treasure, Simplicity 2152 skirt

Do you ever rummage around in your closet and find something you completely forgot about? I can confess I do it fairly often. A slight drawback of sewing a lot means that many things get worn a bit when new then shoved to the back of the closet with something new taking up my attention.

However when it comes to UFO's - unfinished objects - in my sewing, I just never have them. Does that sound impossible? Kind of snobby? Believe me, in the rest of my life I have plenty of unfinished objects, tasks and to do lists. (That garden shed is not cleaning itself - despite my thinking about it regularly). But sewing  - I finish almost everything I start. If I am not liking the look of something, due to color, or maybe the shape is all wrong for me, I generally finish the item and then either give it to a friend or donate to the charity shop.

But the other day I was moving something in the sewing room closet and came across that rarest of items, an unfinished object. An almost finished black wool skirt. With pockets! a potential wardrobe workhorse! Which was really great for many reasons, the primary one was that I was just about to cut out a black wool skirt. Eek. So after a few moments of mental fog I remembered that I started last spring, just as it was really heating up around here, decided to set it aside to finish in the fall, and promptly forgot completely about it.

Such a great pattern, super quick to sew, very easy to fit and has nice pockets that are a snap.

S2152 pattern

I never even noticed the View D where the pockets are vertical. might have to try that.
Never mind, mental fog again. I did make that version but it was a bit of an improvisation as I reused the pocket welts from the existing coat when I did the coat refashion into a skirt and jacket.  That blue outfit is SO warm. Which I guess is what you get when you make a skirt/jacket out of a thick boucle wool coat.

Anyway - back to the current version. Not really exciting I suppose but as I said, a wardrobe workhorse and perfect to wear with black boots and tights.

black skirt on me

What is happening, I look rather linebacker-y here? I should give some thought to the Better Pictures Project by Gillian which is such a great idea. but I probably won't :) So sometimes I can achieve nice photos taken in lovely lighting and sometimes we get crappy timer photos as I am rushing off to do something else. Hey I'd rather be sewing.....hmm idea....who wants to buy a bumper sticker?  Aside - does anyone still do bumper stickers, they were a staple of my childhood but I don't see them as often anymore - I think those window cling thingies or the license plate holders have surpassed them. The political campaign ones are occasionally spotted. T-shirts have overtaken bumper stickers as the means to wear one's motto, I suppose. (my personal fav - life's a beach).

Back to sewing, view of pockets and waistband.

black skirt on form front

and inside view. I used a regular zipper for a change. (What a breeze to sew in a nice old fashioned regular zipper). This photo below is more accurate for the color of this black wool,  the one above is a bit overexposed.

skirt zipper and lining

When I pulled the skirt out of the closet the lining was attached but I hadn't hemmed the skirt or lining and also the lining needed to be attached at the zipper. I used a plain black cotton for the waistband inside, and then a bemberg rayon for the rest. Because I don't like itchy wool on the inside but if I use lining there then you have the proverbial spinning skirt. You KNOW just what I mean. How you are going through your day and realize that your center back zipper is somewhere east or west of where it should be. Because the slippery nature of the inside of the skirt lets it move around. So using a cotton there just gives it a tiny bit of grippy-ness that tends to keep it properly located.

What about the t-shirt you are asking? Or maybe you aren't..... It is my favorite long sleeve t-shirt pattern, Burda 6990.

Raglan tees

A look at the pattern envelope. I LOVE this pattern. So easy to make, fits like a dream and it is perfect for using up scraps of various knits. As demonstrated by the one on the left. All remnants for the WIN!
The blue one is a remnant I bought at Stone Mountain (if you go there check their remnants sections, some nice finds in there). Although I am not 100% about the pattern placement but with 1.3 yards you get what you get. And I keep saying I will make the other versions on this pattern, like that big dramatic cowl version, but so far I have not gotten to it.

Burda 6990 envelope

So that is the latest on UFOs and scrap sewing. I have been really busy lately plus some construction/remodel stuff which is now all completed and we are all ready for the rain to arrive. The weather forecasters keep promising but so far not much.

I can report that it is quasi coat weather now. My shorts are all put away and I am planning on sewing a coat. Because there is a pattern that has been haunting me for at least two winters and someone just gave me some fantastic fabric that they didn't want to use, and wanted it "to go to a good home". So nice! Which means that I have to use it well. Stay tuned for coat sewing and tailoring to bust out here soon. I have all kinds of resolve to pound it out over Thanksgiving weekend.
Plus I have 2 silk blouses in the works (well patterns adjusted and matching thread obtained if that counts as in the works).

Speaking of coat patterns - everyone is talking about coats, pinning coats, sewing coats. So I think a Pattern Whisperer post on coats is overdue. Because I am a maniac about fit I think it will be patterns that have lots of options for adjustment to get a good fit. Any interest?

happy autumnal* sewing, Beth

* I have always liked that word, autumnal. even though I could do without autumn
For today's garden photo, a very autumnal coloration of sunflower, which bloomed at the end of summer.

Red sunflower

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Vogue 9032 has improved my attitude about pants

As evidenced by the many many muslins I have sewn over the past couple of years, fitting pants is one category where I had almost admitted defeat. And I'm not quite sure why.  We all have figure quirks, mine being no more or less exceptional than anyone else's. But for some reason I just have trouble with pants.

I think the fact that I can usually go into most any store and with a bit of effort find a pair of pants that fits quite well is also a factor. Why deal with fitting etc when I can find pretty much whatever I need via retail. But it did nag at me, and of course if you want something specific it is never to be found when shopping for just that item. So pants fitting, I have persevered and thanks to Vogue 9032 I think my luck has improved.

By the way - I did have reasonable success with the Sewaholic pants pattern but I do like the idea of the back princess seam on pants which allows for that extra bit of fitting if needed.
OK - enough talking, you want to see some results, right?

Vogue 9032 Pants front view 1

These are wearable but not particularly noteworthy. I just wanted to see if I could get this pattern to work, as it was designed so a basic trouser. I used the version C which is a flat front, slant pocket and more fitted leg. Although I shortened the pants by 3 inches, and did that at the knee so that took away a bit of the slight bootcut look. I think when I make them next (oh yeah, there will be another version) I will adjust the length both above and below the knee so that the leg shaping will remain. I might make them a bit more fitted in the leg as well but I think that is something you can do once the pants are machine basted together but that fit depends so much on the fabric choice.

Vogue 9032 pants pattern

Basting - my secret weapon. Perhaps a bit overdramatic but I mostly machine baste everything I sew. It takes just a few minutes, stitch, hop up, quick try on, a few pins on seams here and there, re-stitch, try on again, until satisfied. Then I go back to my pattern pieces, mark up my corrected seam lines, and happily put those pattern pieces away for next time (which may or may not ever arrive). Then I "for real" stitch up any seams that were basted, trim excessive seam allowances and press press press. Sometimes after pressing the fit might need one more little tweak. Because when trying on something, and pin-fitting a garment cut with intentionally large seam allowances all that bulk can get in the way of pin fitting, and once trimmed away there still might be a tiny adjustment. Probably on a dress bodice I would be super fussy but pants need room to be active so not as critical.

Adjustments made on this pattern:

  • Raised the center back. Despite being on the short side (5'3") I have a super long waist-to-hip length measurement (10.5")  More proof of my claim that body length in the various segments is just as important as body circumference. I guess this is commonly called long waisted - but really it is long-hipped?  Or I would like to invent a new acronym, as we use FBA for full-bust-adjustment. I need the LBA (I hesitate to write it, but here goes...the long butt adjustment). If you try on pants or jeans in the store and you see that tiny 2 or 3 inch zipper and know in your heart that those pants  - even if they fit and zip are basically like wearing a bikini in terms of where they hit on your torso - then you too might need the LBA. Just to show that there in infinite variation in the species, my sister can try on the same pair of pants and the waist could be over her belly-button and verging on old man pants pulled up to the ribcage. Interesting huh? and this is why we sew!!!    Anyway - I raised the back about 2 inches in the center and tapered to actually lowering 1/2 in in the center front. It was OK but is still a work in progress. They feel too high in the front and could possibly be about 1/2' lower in the back and still be comfortable.
  • Took in the back waist at the center about 1" total
  • Added small darts on each back side piece. I could have taken the center back in more or even the princess seams but it would have made those seams too close together and look weird. It might look weird anyway but I will not be likely to tuck in a shirt. I mostly wear sweaters or knot tops. But I am wearing a silk blouse so you can see the whole pants front. 
  • made the waistband about 3/8" wider. It just looked kind of skimpy.
  • Added a seam in the center back of the waistband. For adjustment. Seems like a no-brainer but a lot of women's pants and pants patterns don't have this. I suppose for esthetic reasons but for sewing reasons totally necessary. This pattern does have seams in the waistband at the side seams, and I did take it in a bit there. Basically I fit my hip measurement and then adjust the waist. 
  • All kinds of scooping and changing of the seat, which is also something that will need further experimentation.
  • Fish-eye dart in upper thigh back. Since this pant has a seam running down the center of each leg there is the opportunity to remove some of that bagging under the seat which seems inevitable. I took out about an inch at the center tapering to zero at the side seam and inseam. I'm pretty happy with that and figure if I took out any more there would be no walking or sitting room in the back of the pants.
  • More adjustments with that back seam. I took it in under the bum about an inch. See this photo below. The pants are done but I just drew that blue line to indicate where I took the seam in.


I really like this fabric and have no idea where I got it but a vague idea that I ordered it from Emma One Sock a long time ago. Its a really high quality stretch woven, probably has some cotton, maybe rayon, lycra, who knows. But it is a nice useful grey shade.

Here's the back view. Which I am kind of self-conscious and really don't like seeing however in the interest of pants fitting science...  Yes that backside needs some pockets or something to break up the expanse. Next version. Plus I like having back welt pockets.

Vogue 9032 pants back

If you look at pants long enough you start to see all kinds of wrinkles etc so its best to get them to fit and then move on - literally. No matter how you fit, once you move the fabric will do what it wants and create folds, wrinkles etc. Some are just the nature of the garment and I need to give it a rest. Seeing this photo they might be a bit short but I always have to decide with my pants - flats or heels so I think this pair is more for flats.  Also looking at this the front waist could be slightly lower, but I was trying to make kind of a basic trouser and then figured I could play with that later.

Vogue 9032 pants

The garden is looking terrible, this is the low ebb, nothing  blooming, water rationing in full force, however if I took this today you would see a pile of supplies and tools on the lawn. The patio cover is being redone and the whole wood frame painted to match the house in a pale sage green. Why was it red? I think some previous owner had a can of that paint. Having an older house means finding out all kinds of oddball stuff that previous owners did when they remodeled or repaired. Don't get me started on the irrigation system - it is still working on a wing and a prayer.

So onward to more pants! I have some dark purple stretch woven that I think is bengaline? which I bought a while ago at Joann's of all places (a nice fabric hiding in plain sight among all the crap).

Yesterday someone gave me a giant piece of gorgeous wool coating which I am going to use to make a pattern I have been thinking about for two years. I am so excited! Stay tuned for more tailoring in the near future.
Right now I am finishing up two dresses for my friend Heather from her haul of Mood fabrics. I just cut out a fuchsia wool knit that is the dreamiest fabric. Details to follow.

It was actually chilly today - real coat weather - sort of. I did see some people in shorts and flip flops. Actually we see that 12 months of the year here. I get cold just looking at them!

Happy Fall Sewing, Beth

Friday, October 30, 2015

Save yourself from the clutches of alteration!

Do you ever look at vintage patterns just for the instructions? Perhaps this just shows how deep into sewing obscurities I can delve but my obsession with all things sewing related leads me to purchase completely unnecessary yet interesting vintage (or semi-vintage) patterns.

Some small detail or appealing illustration can be enough to draw me in. As long as the cost is minimal  - and most of these patterns are found at various sales among bins and bins of old patterns for any price ranging from pennies to a couple of dollars.

Which brings me to this pattern I found at a recent ASG stash sale. If you have the opportunity to paw through the stack or bins of old patterns it becomes apparent just how many pattern companies there have been, some still succeeding, some disappearing without a trace, others being absorbed into a bigger entity. Today's independent pattern companies are carrying on a long tradition of sewing patterns and often creating something to fill a particular niche.

This pattern caught my eye and when I got a chance to look through the instructions they did not disappoint! When you read criticism of literature, they often mention the writer's voice. There is no mistaking that the author of these pattern instructions had a very specific voice - which might seem a bit dated but is very entertaining and include some very apt admonitions as well.

Else of California pattern, copyright is 1968. On the back they manage to give the fabric requirements for all sizes for every one of the possible options. Who doesn't want a pair of Flare Bells in their wardrobe?

Else pants envelope

Now we get to the entertaining part, which is not really part of the sewing or fitting instructions, but what struck me as more like editorial comments sprinkled throughout.

"There's a whole new world of pants waiting for you in this pattern...What's matter what size you are, straight as a boy or beautifully bumpy, this pair of pants is going to fit"   

bumpy?  that's a new one.

Else pattern advice

This might be my FAVORITE one of the bunch, where she talks about taking your measurements and says
 "Don't try to conduct the ceremony yourself, call in a close-mouthed friend and swear her to secrecy, if necessary"

Else pants take your measurements

No, wait. This part is my favorite.


I like that idea - being saved from the clutches of alteration. Someone should use that if you are writing a sewing book. Most sewing books are so cheerful and upbeat in a way that is perhaps a teensy bit unrealistic (cue ironic smile here) After all, fitting/pattern adjustment is kind of tricky. And perhaps should be acknowledged as so a bit more often. Although I do have to give a shout-out to some of the Sandra Betzina sewing books, I have a few of her older ones, I think the Power Sewing series and she is so matter of fact about fit issues, what most everyone wants to highlight or obscure. A very rational point of view.
Anyhow, apparently Else of California can save us from the CLUTCHES OF ALTERATION!
I love that phrase! and now will try to use it in regular conversation, to confuse my friends.

Else pants choose your size

Here's the helpful diagram which shows how to get all those variations from this one pattern. Talk about a good value. Which again illustrates my frequent point that there are no new patterns - or very few new patterns/pattern ideas.  I do like how they have both a high waist with waistband or a lower cut pant option in the instructions and suppose you could modify with zipper placement, pockets etc to get all kinds of looks out of this pattern.

pants patterns options2

The fitting instructions are good, I would say they are like a condensed version of the entire Palmer and Pletsch Pants fitting book made to fit on one page which is clever. And sprinkled throughout are more crazy tidbits about hip pillows, baby darts and other fit adjustments that I have never heard of. (or never heard with those titles).

Pants vintage

Lastly we come to the most important pants fitting conundrum - the saggy seat. Which Else has helpfully illustrated with this poor women who despite appearing quite trim and shapely has the dreaded baggy bottom. But Else has a solution. I did get a few tips from her instructions so hey - most anything is worthwhile if you learn something new.

Pants vintage

The pattern pieces have been mostly cut down on the size 38 line (shame on you, non tracer of patterns) so not really useful for me, perhaps I will do a pattern giveaway on this one.  But I think I have learned enough from Else and added a new zingy phrase to my vocab (clutches of alteration-ration-ration, now I hear it in my head with that movie echo effect).

Plus I have made an actual wearable totally satisfactory pair of pants using Vogue 9092 and it was not  ALL THAT BAD! you have no idea how annoying I have found pants recently. Fitting pants sewing patterns, I mean. I have no trouble buying pants - they seem to fit perfectly fine if I buy them, but sewing fit has eluded me until now.  Will try to take some pics this weekend.

Lots of sewing to do this weekend, I am in the midst of another version of this fantastic Burda dress for my friend Heather and I want to make a silk blouse for myself because the fabric is burning the proverbial hole in my pocket. Does that analogy apply to newly purchased fabric? I think so.

Halloween on a Saturday night, clear warm weather. Talk about terrifying! Mine is a very trick-or-treat favorable neighborhood and it so much fun to see the cute little ones that start as soon as it gets dark, and then exhausting by about 8 pm when the ridiculous almost-teenagers are showing up. On the plus side, each year one of my neighbors holds a sort of cocktail party on their front lawn - so we all close up shop, dim those porch lights around 9 and head down the street for some much needed iquid refreshment.

Happy Halloween weekend sewing! 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Random Threads # 16, Musings and pattern talk

Do you know that phrase "be careful what you wish for?" I'm sure you do and I feel that sentiment lately, as I always wish for summer to last all year. However - my sewing mojo has completely disappeared and I attribute that to the lack of autumnal weather. Looking back on the past few years I always seem to have some post in October mentioning how we haven't started wearing jackets or boots but this year our forecast has been extra balmy. Feels a bit Los Angeleno, eek! 80's˚F most every day and I am actually getting a bit tired of it. even though taking an after dinner walk wearing shorts and a t-shirt is very pleasant.
Oh well, check back in January when I am complaining about our admittedly not polar winter. Note for travelers - so many microclimates here in the SF Bay area so check before packing your suitcase, you could find yourself shivering as you admire the Golden Gate if you don't bring a bit of everything.
Anyway - that is a long way round to say that I feel like I have quite a few fall or winter coats and jackets, so even though I love to sew them I just can't get motivated. Recently I bought some silks so I think this fall will be a festival of shirts and blouses.

Apropos of nothing:  I am mildly obsessed with this Marfy dress pattern that I happened to see on their website. Talk about out of season! now that fall is approaching (sort of, see paragraph above). Anyway I am a sucker for a white dress and I can see that exactly as they have pictured, with the ribbon trim. Maybe I will order the PDF and put it away for spring. I had such good luck with my previous Marfy pattern - something about their proportions is very very good. Italiani e la moda, sanno quello che fanno. (they know what they are doing :) By the way they have some links on their website to sewing videos, I watched this one all the way though. While I do these pockets all the time I was kind of mesmerized by the person doing it - with no markings or tailors tacks. And as in the  couture houses I have seen on various documentaries, the person sewing is wearing what looks like a white lab coat. I like that touch - maybe I will get one to up my sewing game.

Marfy dress pattern image

Searching for something new: Not sure I am planning to enter but I saw an upcoming contest on Pattern Review titled "New to me pattern company" and thought that was a fun idea. So I have been looking....and looking, with nothing jumping out at me that I want to try. I was looking for an interesting jacket pattern, and I have already sewn Burda, Pauline Alice, StyleArc, Marfy, all the big US ones, even once made a Grainline pattern. So a new to me pattern company with an interesting jacket - so far nothing found. I saw a shawl collar jacket pattern from Waffle patterns but it didn't really thrill me or seem much different to what I already have.  Any ideas? I might have to try a blouse or shirt.

So far all pattern releases have saved me from opening my wallet - nothing I am craving that is any different from patterns I already have - yay! for both $$ and space saving. I am kind of amazed by how many independent pattern designers jump in with a new pattern that is indistinguishable from the many that are already out there. However talking with friends who are learning I see that the instructions/sew-alongs etc are helpful.  If I produced a pattern (which I am NOT) it would be like Marfy - here are the pattern pieces and sew it up! Mainly because I would be terrible at writing the instructions :)

Flat Pattern Measureing: Do you do it? I read a lot of posts where someone has sewed something by choosing a size but didn't look at the finished measurements or measure the pattern. My advice - do it.  See below, the finished garment measurements are printed on the pattern but if they weren't you can use the measure tape, be sure to omit the seam allowance if it is on the pattern and then add front and back to get circumference. I saw a lot of questions on some knit patterns recently about finished garment measurements and negative ease. If you are really questioning, mark out that number with pins on your chosen piece of fabric and then wrap it around, hips, bust, whatever area you are concerned. If you like how that fabric feels at that circumference then great but if not alter, or find a different fabric. I think doing a bit of testing your uncut fabric, draping it over your arms, or wrapping around can tell you a lot about how it will look as a finished garment and save some time and/or money by helping select the right fabric.

Vogue pattern measure

Burda Plus envelope patterns: There are a lot of hidden gems among the Burda Plus patterns, and particularly in the envelope patterns. (actually I also think there are some good ones in the Simplicity plus patterns too).  For many reasons a lot of Big 4 or indie patterns don't include all sizes and I think with a bit of searching you can find a lot of silhouettes in Burda that can be varied to emulate some of those patterns. I can't speak for all figure types but Burda plus patterns seem to have the proportions more right than others, in that the shoulders do not get so wide along with a larger bust. Anyway - just a little love from me for these patterns - I have used them for various people with good success. Also I love a multi-size pattern, so easy to grade between sizes for top half/bottom half, sleeves etc. I am now in the process of sewing this pattern for someone and it is really nice. I did adjust the neckline slightly for more coverage but will show all the pattern alteration details in a post when it is finished. I also bought the Burda 6713 blouse pattern, which also shows it as a dress. I like that Burda finds ways to create interesting details with creative necklines and dart shaping.

Burda wrap dress
Burda 6713 envelope pattern, dress or blouse

Investment in Sewing Tools: I saw a great post by Karen of Did you make that? the other day,  about which sewing tools turned out to be very good investments for her. I agree wholeheartedly about the wooden clapper, and I have waxed lyrical about the benefits of high quality interfacing many times. (My fave is from Fashion Sewing Supply, all the different types they sell, and I just noticed a sale on now ,15% off,  I will be stocking up on the ProSheer Elegance and ProTricot deluxe).

She also mentioned buying and loving the very expensive invisible zipper foot, which seems like just the thing for a lot of people. In the comments quite a few mentioned that zipper foot plus the walking foot. I wonder if that is a Bernina thing? A machine I have never tried. As I have mentioned probably ad nauseam the machine I use for anything fussy is my Slant needle Singer 401 with the sliding zipper foot, here is a link and post with details on using that foot.  I have so many interesting feet for my vintage machines, they are incredibly well made. However the only ones I use are the zipper foot, the buttonholer and once in a while the ruffling foot or the pleater. I have never quite mastered the narrow hemming foot. To tell the truth I forget about them and just plow ahead with the standard one - so far so good.

Why reading blogs is good for me:  I have very fixed ideas about what looks good, what is the right fit, colors I love or hate, styles that are gorgeous or ridiculous and thankfully everyone else in the sewing blogosphere does not have the same point of view. Wouldn't that be a boring world if everyone had the same taste?
What I am trying to say is there is a lot of stitching available to view that are things I would never choose and that is a good thing. I see colors that I don't like but realize that someone else has picked a perfect shade for their own look. I see patterns that appear crazy or shapeless or difficult to wear and come across a blog post where someone has paired that pattern with a fantastic fabric and created something beautiful and unique. I see techniques that I can't be bothered learning but find amazing and so creative. Sewing blogs (and the related websites, instagram, etc) have really helped me view fashion and sewing in a different way, all to the good.
I probably won't be dyeing any fabric, or adding grommets, felting, embellishing or otherwise manipulating fabric but I have a growing admiration for everyone who does those things. Thinking about when I learned to sew and remembering that my only audience was my family and school friends gives me a greater appreciation for every new sewer that picks out a pattern, gives it a try and posts their creation - often baring their soul regarding fit, body issues and their feelings about clothing and appearance along with their sewing triumphs and failures. I wonder if I would have been quite so willing to share my early attempts.

As for recent attempts, I am trying another pants pattern (pants are my achilles heel, my white whale, my pot of gold at the end of the rainbow) In other words, I am never satisfied at fitting myself with pants. Anyway, giving it another try with this Vogue pattern, which has back princess seams. There are a lot of good versions to see so a girl can dream, right? I will report, if not model.

Vogue 9032 pants pattern

Happy almost Halloween sewing and have a great weekend,

another garden photo remaining from my vacation, in a somewhat autumnal color scheme. I see these Birds of Paradise growing around here in my neighborhood, even though they are a tropical plant. Just have to find the right spot where they never freeze. One of these years I will give it a try.

Hawaii flowers

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Saved by the Muslin: Burda 04/2015 # 116 Blazer with Stand-up Collar

Saved by the muslin! If you do make muslins of new patterns you will know this exact feeling. I saw this pattern a few weeks ago and thought it was just different enough to add to my jacket wardrobe. Interesting details and new shapes keep my interest, sewing-wise. And I don't really want to wear the same jacket over and over, no matter how much I like it. I already have 3 jacket pattern repeats in my wardrobe so I wanted something new. Here is the link to the BurdaStyle page, it is 04/2015 #116 so just released late this past spring.

But I am really glad I decided to test this one out. Just not my cup of tea. (not that anything is the right cup of tea for me - I think it tastes awful. Coffee, elixir of the gods :)
Back to this pattern. A few years ago I had a green cotton coat that I bought on a whim one rainy day when shopping at Macy's. It was really cute, trench coat style, nice buttons, belt, buckle details. But it hung in my closet because every time I put it on I fixated on the weird round shoulders. Which this pattern has as well. I operated on the green coat - tried to reshape the shoulder but it never was quite right so off it went in the donate bag. But this muslin below, when I put it on I just felt like I should be part of the crew of Starship something or other.

Burda jacket pattern

I did sew this test version up using a canvas type fabric I had in the stockpile - vaguely recall buying it at a yard sale or something. So a very small investment in fabric, $ 5.99 for the downloadable Burda PDF., about 2 hours for taping, adding seam allowances, cutting sewing just this far.

And now I will take a moment of solidarity to all those who puzzle through the Burda instructions. I never use the magazine (no way I am going to play spot the pattern piece on those sheets) and I have made a few Burda PDF's or Burda envelope patterns. The instructions are definitely minimal. 9 times out of 10 that's OK by me, I rarely look at them. But once in a while I do, particularly if there are oddball pattern pieces or the order of construction doesn't jump out at me.  See above on the right side, this jacket has an underarm gusset, which in theory is fine but I didn't think it fit well and the markings were nonexistent.

Now let's turn up the whining knob to 11. Something I had not noticed before on Burda downloadable patterns is that the pattern pieces are not labeled other than the number.  I am just crabby this weekend because despite my constant declarations about loving summer and summer clothes maybe I am just a teensy bit sick of this weather - ready to sew and even wear a jacket or two.  OK boo, hoo I should not complain about lovely sunshine but the dry weather is almost getting on our collective nerve here the way I suppose constant rain does in other places.

Burda jacket pattern

So I had to print out that page with the key to the pattern pieces and then scrawl on them with a sharpie. See that underarm gusset, not even a dot or any good marks there. I figured it out but it made me appreciate my lovely Vogue patterns with every little dot and notch marked. I read a fair number of criticisms of Vogue patterns but so far I have never found a glaring error and do make use of all the pattern markings.

There was also a mystery pattern piece which was shaped like a pointy oval, about 3 inches long and named as "insert piece neck edge" but I could not figure out what it was for. Oh well.

As I said, just a bit cranky today so now that I have gotten this out of my system, crumpled it up and tossed it in the paper recycle bin I am ready to start something else.

And I have made a couple of BurdaStyle downloadable patterns that I count as real successes, including the plum shawl collar coat from late last winter, and this interesting jacket in grey tweed. Love both those patterns. And I think the Burda Plus patterns are outstanding, I am about to make this dress again for my friend Heather.

Burda Plum jacket front
Burda Jacket front

What next?  perhaps as a season spanning measure I will make a blouse or two as I do have a bunch of fabrics designated for that.

This pattern is one I bought a few months ago so I the next jacket I will test will be this one. Kind of simple but I did want a new basic jacket pattern that I could use for the next few years. Although I suspect it might be a line for line twin of this Vogue pattern which I have made a few times. (the link goes to my final post in a full series of how I construct a tailored jacket with fusible interfacing) Noticing now that this one below is a 2-button and the older one I made previously is a 1-button. Which does make a difference.

Vogue jacket

Happy sewing, Beth

and another garden photo taken a few weeks ago in Hawaii. Good think as there is very little photo-worthy around here lately!

Hawaii flowers

Friday, October 9, 2015

A skirt, a top, a dress, with a tropical theme

It is safe to say there are some tropical or novelty prints that I find irresistable. Particularly palm trees, or as demonstrated earlier this summer, pineapples. Also I really like Girl Charlee fabrics, they hit my sweet spot of colorful, not too pricey, lots of prints, stuff I don't see in local shops and all around cheerfulness in their array of fabrics. I do find their emails baffling, what is a Knit Fix? OK - please don't answer, I don't need to know. But I have adjusted my email preferences so that I don't get every one of their promos. I guess it is some type of sale where you get a big bundle of fabrics without choosing what is in it, and then people sell/trade for the ones they want.  I suppose it works well but I don't need to get any fabric suprises, the stuff I already have is enough of a suprise. Evidenced by me looking at my fabric closet and wondering when I ordered that and what the heck was I thinking of making?

To get to the point - I ordered a number of things from Girl Charlee over the summer and have sewn up about half. They are pretty much summer fabrics,(** see footnote) or at least not fabrics I would choose in winter. So the remainder is put away for next year and here are the results for the ones I did decide to cut into.

Skirt with rounded hem

That photo appeared on my Instagram during the SewPhotoHop and got a lot of love. It is my beloved Vogue 1247 with a little modification to the hem because it seemed a little plain. As plain as a denim skirt covered with dancing pineapples could be.

This photo is a little bright and I did not wear my shirt tucked in but wanted to show the V1247 in all its  splendor, ha ha.

Pineapple skirt on me

Pineapple skirt front and back
Here it is on is the dress form.  I did lengthen the pattern as I usually do, and then also made it with my "no waistband" modification. Just cut a facing using the top of the skirt. I like a clean finish at the top of a skirt with no waistband, also then it doesn't come up so high at the waist. Although in that photo above it does - I think because that top is kind of a bulky knit. another reason not to tuck in.
I have now made this pattern 4 times with no end in sight. Here is the link to my first "no waistband" version with all the details.  A key to that turning out well is stabilizing the waist, and I don't think a seam binding is enough, needs some interfacing.

As for the hem, bias binding was fine for that. To get the round edge I just played with drawing on paper until I had a curve that would look good. Cut out the skirt as normal. left the bottom of the side seam unsewn, chose where the hem would be and then trimmed the curve sections using my paper template. Easy peasy :)

Pineapple skirt hem

By the way, I was out to dinner when in Hawaii and the hostess at a restaurant looked down at my skirt and squealed - OMG, your skirt is so cute - it has pineapples on it.  Yep it does :)

Second item in my summer of Girl Charlee is this tunic top I made for my mom. I saw these black and white palm tree prints all over this spring and summer in the fashion collections so I was really happy when I saw it on their website. This fabric is a rayon woven and I was pleasantly suprised at how nice it is. Sews beautifully. I did pre-shrink. Very light and floaty but not see-through.

Palm tree tunic on form

The pattern is my trusty self-made pattern, which I started by copying an existing tunic top which is also my mom's. My first post was back in 2012 and then last summer I made one for myself, 
I also did a 2-part post on Craftsy which details exactly how to make a tunic top from a shirt pattern - which I think is good - if I do say so myself :)  So if you are interested in creating a tunic top pattern here are the links to part 1 and part 2.

I love a good black and white item but somehow needed the proverbial "pop of color" so I used bias tape to make the edging. And glad it did, it just needed an extra something. Also it was slightly too low cut so I added the horizontal piece in the center of the V, which we will call a design element!

Neckline tunic top

Peek at inside because everyone likes to see that. I sew the sleeve edges on from the inside, flip to the right side and then topstitch down, which results in a nice clean finish on both sides. I think all that is described in the Craftsy posts.

palm tree tunic sleeve detail

Now last and perhaps least. I am not going to model this one - you will have to take my word that it fits and works well as a beach dress/swimsuit coverup. But maybe this fabric is just a little bit weird.  I'm showing you the side view because look how nicely I matched the stripes on this weird fabric.

Knit stripe dressesKnit stripe dresses

and even thought it is a beach coverup I still made a neckline facing - using some recycled white t-shirt fabic. Because on a lot of knits using bias tape is too stiff and just gets misshappen. Plus facing is just as easy (easier to me).   and then lastly - a closeup shot. I looked at this fabric for quite a while before I cut it out and decided that it didn't have an up or down. THEN sitting on the beach watching the palm trees wave in the tradewinds I realized that yes - this fabric does have a vertical direction. and I got it wrong!

Knit stripe dresses          Knit stripe dresses

so now I feel like they look like spiders, not palm trees. Oh well............pass me another mai tai.

Mentioning Girl Charlee again, my previous dress was their fabric also. And thank you everyone who commented on that dress. I appreciate that you have my sewing satisfaction in your hearts. And will say that I don't feel as bad about the dress as I think was perceived. I do like it and I think it is one of those things that looks much better in person, the colors look better and the skirt moves nicely. The hem is a bit long and uneven but as I said, that will be dealt with come springtime. Quite a difference of opinion on the pockets - some said to get rid of them. Noooo! the pockets are maybe the best part, love a dress with interesting pockets.

** Footnote.  I called the stuff we sew Fabric. And always do a double take (auditorially) when I hear Tim Gunn say on Project Runway  "what are you planning to do with that Textile?"  Do they never say fabric in the academic side of the fashion world? It just sounds funny to me and I wondered if anyone else noticed it.

Speaking of TV - well I am speaking of it. I LOVE the British Baking Bee which is airing on PBS here now. I could have watched it on YouTube I suppose but it's just easier to watch weekly and then I can catch up with friends/family members who like to chat about it. NO spoilers please. and No idea which season it is. But WOW the stuff they have to make is so difficult, and in the time allotted. I am so nervous for them watching it. and hungry sometimes. anyway - a fun diversion.

Onward to new things grabbing my attention. I just taped together the pdf of a Burda jacket mentioned recently. And about to start on a dress for Heather using some of her Mood Fabrics. Using a Burda envelope pattern which I have never seen sewn up - for a wrap dress that has a difference and I can say Burda LOVE!   Highly recommend. Burda 6946.  Expect raves when I post. Great pattern.

Happy weekend sewing,  Beth

garden photo is from Hawaii.

Hawaii flowers
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