Thursday, June 15, 2017

Simplicity 4403 coat in plaid boucle

The subtitle for this post should be "all the interfacings" as I think I used a little bit of every type in this project. I'm coming around to the opinion that interfacing is the secret ingredient of sewing - along the lines of butter as the not-so-secret ingredient that makes so many dishes taste delicious.

Back to sewing: I recently made a coat for a sewing client using a familiar fabric. When she brought the project over I had to laugh, and then said "a coat?" Eek, I already had one bout with this fabric in a different color way when I made myself a Chanel-ish jacket a couple of years ago.  So plaid...yup. Although in its favor this is an even plaid so it does make matching slightly less painful.

Let's start with that plaid matching. Not sure if you can see due to the dark color that this pattern is a shoulder princess seamed style, which I think is very pretty and nice to fit, it gives a very feminine look although it does mean more seams to match.

boucle coat front close up

I'm really happy with the way it turned out, including the sleeves where the pink lines continue across  nicely. This is both due to careful matching when cutting out and but also to a well designed pattern with a good sleeve.

It's difficult to see in this photo but for a plaid I like to cut out one piece and then flip it over and use the cut out piece as a template to pattern match the plaid for its mirror image. So you can see the under sleeve pinned onto the fabric all lined up. And my trusty roll of blue painters tape. Every piece gets marked on the wrong size with a piece of tape as I cut out because I hate to realize later that I have lost the plot in terms of right and wrong side. Even if the sides are indistinguishable I live in fear that a finished garment will have a color difference in one piece due to being wrong side out. And this fabric is impossible to tell one side from the other but my mind is calmer when all pieces are marked :) and I can just sew on autopilot without thinking about that detail.


boucle coat cutting out


Here's the pattern envelope. I think it is from 2005 or so. There are 17 versions on Pattern Review and lots of really good and different variations that people have sewn over the subsequent years. Perhaps coat patterns don't change as much as other garments because this actual coat looks very contemporary to me. The giveaway that ages this pattern photo are the shoes on the model on the left in the grey coat. Can you imagine walking in those and trying to keep them on your feet?

Simplicity 4403 pattern envelope

Back to the topic of interfacing. Since this fabric does not have a lot of body and is kind of dressy due to the slight sparkle of the fibers, I suggested that I do it in a soft tailoring style, kind of like a boucle jacket but coat length. It's the type of coat that can be close fitting, it will be worn over a dress or a silk blouse, so not needing to have ease to accommodate winter layers.

With that in mind I started with silk organza for the coat center fronts, stitched in by machine. I suppose I could have used a fusible but I liked the feeling of the silk organza combined with the boucle.

You can see the whiskery threads of my tailor's tacks, in pale green and then the stitching of the buttonhole welts in a dark red. My contact lens/eyeglass prescription is off the charts (seriously folks, the proverbial coke bottle eyeglasses*) so I always use a thread that I can easily see. In a fabric like this the stitches will never show and it makes sewing and seeing so much easier.


boucle coat sewing bound buttonholes


Once the bound buttonholes are done I baste them shut and even though there is a lot left to do it is downhill from here. Until a project is about 80% finished, then the finish line seems interminable.


boucle coat coat front without sleeves

Let's pause here and mention how un-ravelly this fabric is. Annoying as anything. Big long strands want to come off with every shift of the pattern pieces. Threads everywhere. OK grumbling over for now. Although I decided I need to buy a new vacuum this week because I have killed my current one by feeding it a steady diet of stray pins and long threads. Oh well, I got about 10 years out of it.


boucle coat unravel fabric


The collar has both silk organza on the upper collar and then fusible on the lower. Front facings also have lightweight fusible (ProSheer Elegance) as well as the upper part of the side front panel. I think across the back also, in the shape of a back stay I put the fusible. It helps when the sections that marry together, such as the upper part of the front princess seam, and then the shoulder area area are all interfaced or otherwise changed to have the same drape and weight so the coat seems to hang better. Also the sleeve has some weft interfacing across the upper part, and then a bias wool sleeve head.


boucle coat close up sleeve inside

I don't know what this is showing, maybe the fusible on the facing. And some of my favorite tools.



boucle coat buttonholes finished



So this is the unlovely look at the inside of the coat. I always kind of laugh to see how the guts look before they are covered up by a pretty lining. I did change the pockets to be on the side seams instead of the princess seams which I don't think looks right. Just my preference. And I did check on the pocket placement on the muslin, the owner of this coat is quite tall and it's nice to have the pockets in just the right place.


boucle coat inside without lining

One last finishing detail, you know I just about never bag the lining - I just like the control that sewing the lining in by hand provides. Plus it behaves better and the coat front is more sleek retaining its shape and not pulling anywhere. However to get that result the front facing must be stitched down to the coat front piece. Shown here in pink silk thread, using catch stitches which are secure but also have a bit of give.

boucle coat hand stitching facing

I'm sorry but I only took a couple of pictures once the coat was finished and none on the owner. My dress form is a bit too small for the coat plus the skirt is slightly a-line so it hangs off a bit but you get the idea.   Wouldn't this look great with a salmon pink or coral color dress underneath?


boucle coat front on form1



boucle coat back on form

The lining is a chocolate brown Ambiance rayon.

boucle coat lining

Now time to admire those buttons - I tried so many selections from the wall of buttons at Stone Mountain and these were the one and only that looked good with this fabric. Not good but great!  The copper color complemented the coat fabric and they were a bit glossy, kind of like this coat. Score! Stone Mountain's wall of buttons never fails me.

 boucle coat front facing and buttons

So that's the scoop on this slightly out of season boucle coat. However living in the bay area the owner can pop over to San Francisco for a night out and have a coat that is hopefully just right for our fickle sunny one minute and foggy the next weather.

Up next I am finishing another shift dress for myself that strikes me as an homage to the Summer of Love, plus some steps out of my comfort zone and a foray into shirt dresses.

Last weekend's Shift dress class at Hello Stitch was great - I'm really enjoying hanging out there and meeting lots of new stitchers.
For July we are repeating classes on sewing tunic tops and skirts plus just added a button-down shirt class.  By that I mean button front, collared shirt - so pick your pattern and join us!

Happy weekend sewing,
Beth

* footnote:  my reference above to coke-bottle eyeglasses is something that was often said when I was a kid, that someone's glasses were like coke bottles, meaning that the lenses were so thick they were like the glass at the bottom of coke bottle. Being that there are not many glass coke bottles and improvements in eyeglass lenses to make them thinner I guess this phrase is on the way out. Do you think in a few years we will still say dial the phone? Officially on a tangent now...I still have an old dial phone in the garage which I kept for when the big quake happens and the cordless phones are all useless. However now the home phone is digital so I guess the dial phone is useless. Drat.

For today's garden photo - it's hydrangea time. I planted a couple of new ones this spring, so I hope to have a rainbow of different shades. We're expecting 100˚F here on Sunday, I'm cooking, and of course my thermostat decided to croak today, but I replaced it and hopefully all will be well and truly Air Conditioned on Sunday at dinnertime!

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Thursday, June 8, 2017

Latest sewing plus some Craftsy blog posts

A quick post today with a little bit of my latest sewing and links to some of my recent Craftsy Sewing Blog posts. The response to my last post of Pattern Whispering was fun to read - and you all really like those posts. What should be the next category for Pattern Whisperer?  I have to give that some thought but I'm leaning towards cropped jackets - think moto style or other jackets that are not a blazer or a jean jacket.
Thank you to commenter Fabric Tragic who reminded me of the name sack dresses, which I had in my mental list but completely blanked out when I wrote the post. Sack dresses, not the prettiest name but describes that style well.

The last day or so I've been playing around with a shift dress pattern in anticipation of my next class at Hello Stitch Studio in Berkeley. It's Sew a Summer Shift dress this upcoming Sunday 6/11, 10am-5pm and there are a few spaces spaces available if you want to join in. While I do love complex patterns having a nice shift dress pattern in your repertoire is so useful. When the weather warms up it turns out those are the dresses I reach for again and again. 

batik shift dress

I sewed this one up to play around with a pattern, and create some all-in-one facings which I am going to demo as well as other finishing options. This fabric is a slightly thick batik I bought ages ago in Hawaii and then got it home and it didn't seem right for any garment. This morning I was looking through my stash and decided that it felt like a lightweight denim - just right for a shift dress. Plus the print works great for this design.

I used this New Look pattern which is really cute but for a simple item you are not going to believe how many changes I made, both in fit and design. Which merit their own post so I will get to that in the next week or so. The pattern envelope says D0562 but the pattern tissue has NL6500 as the pattern number so I suppose it is listed under both pattern numbers.

New Look Shift dress pattern

My other class at Hello Stitch for June is the Fit Lab (Sat. June 17, 10 am-5 pm) where I will show how to take measurements, choose a starting size, and  how to cut and mark the muslin to make it the most useful as a test garment. Then everyone will sew up a muslin garment and see how to adjust that plus the most important part  - how to adjust the paper pattern based on the changes to the muslin. We'll be scheduling another of these classes, maybe in early fall and we just added a Sew a collared Shirt class. Coming up we're planning classes for Jackets (you know that's my favorite!) and perhaps wrap dresses.

In other projects I've had a few posts on the Craftsy sewing blog recently including this one on fitting muslins.

Craftsy post on fitting muslins  

Link to Craftsy blog post:  Fitting Muslins

Collar post image Craftsy

Link to Craftsy blog post:  Sewing Shirt Collars


plant hanger post

Link to Craftsy blog post:  How to sew a Plant Hanger

I've been writing blog posts on the Craftsy Sewing blog for more than 3 years! Doesn't seem like that long. The topics have been all over the place from how to sew princess seams (I think the most popular post) to fitting, sewing pillows, and all kinds of other stuff. They come up via a Google search and you can narrow it down by adding Craftsy in the search terms if you vaguely recall a post I've written and want to find it again. As always - if you have any ideas for topics, either here or as a Craftsy tutorial please let me know!

Up next, more details on how I can make a simple shift dress more complicated, ha ha. Also just finished my once per year item in polyester. Mildly enthusiastic, but it could be the muted color more than the fabric.

This morning it's raining here - which is unusual for June but we N. Cal gardeners take the water any way we can get it. Every week I tell myself no more new plants and yet there are some things that made their way onto the garden bench this week. No self control! Plus a succulent sale on Sat. Plants or fabric - both irresistible!

Happy Sewing, Beth

Today's garden photo, one of those plants I bought at the local junior college horticultural department sale, and what a great value - going on 2 years and lots of blooms. Penstemon "garnet" I believe.  And a couple of posts back I had a picture of a rose, I found the tag in my garden folder and the variety is: Miss Behavin'    I think they are running out of names for these plant varieties:)

Penstemon  variety Thorn

Friday, June 2, 2017

Pattern Whisperer presents: loose-fit dresses

The idea for this Pattern Whisperer post has been kicking around in my mind for a while, but I was stumped about what to call this category of dresses. Loose-fit dresses doesn't really sound descriptive enough. Some of them are cocoon shaped dresses, others are very A-line or have a tent shape. Maybe un-fitted dresses? Basically the whole collection are dresses without a defined waist. Perhaps there's an interest in this shape after a long stretch of body-con styles, and I'm quite late with this trend. And yet it's also a retro shape - think of Balenciaga or Courreges in the 60's. Whatever the reason, once you figure out the right proportion for you then it really is a great shape to wear - and pretty easy to sew as well.

So here are some Pattern Whisperer picks for loose-fit dresses. Or cocoon dresses, or A-line or shift or maybe even muumuu. If you aren't familiar with that one it's a loose dress of Hawaiian origin that hangs from the shoulder. A perfect description of this category. And usually brightly colored - always my preference. And if you haven't read my previous post - that dress definitely falls into this category so it can go on the list as well. 

First up the Xerea dress from Pauline Alice Patterns. I love her designs - my favorite indie designer (which admittedly is a very small list). I really like that she includes multiple variations in this pattern with different necklines and dress shape. Very cute! Available in paper or PDF. and instructions in 3 languages. I will also give a nod to her Malvarosa dress, also with multiple variations in one pattern and pockets. (actually she seems to put pockets in everything, yay!)

Xerea dress image

Now for some BurdaStyle choices.
I adore this dress with just enough ruffle to be interesting and it would be so lovely in a printed silk or even a border print as they show. Also it has darts for shaping and a pretty neckline.
BurdaStyle Flounce Dress 02/2017 #106B  PDF from their website or in the Feb. magazine.

Burdastyle flounce dress 02-2017-116B

Another Burdastyle that intrigues me is this one, which they call the Bat Sleeve Dress 05/2016 #115B.
As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, you have to figure out which of these type of dresses work with your particular figure and style preferences. Someone did just that - and I remembered it when I chose this pattern to show. Allison of Allison C. Sewing Gallery made both the dress and the top and they are fantastic!  You know how some bloggers seem to make all the patterns that you want (or wish) you could make? She is one of those that makes me want to subscribe to Burda and sew up the exact same patterns that she chooses. 

Burda bat sleeve dress 05-2016-1115B

One more Burda - this is is a basic shape but adds some spice with the low back and ties - which I imagine would also keep that deep V on your shoulders. I like it just how they show it in the hot pink but it would be great in a dark color as well.  Shift dress with pockets 05/2011 # 111B

Burdastyle Shift dress 05-2011 111B

And now for Style Arc. Which I have rarely sewn but always see so many nice versions of their patterns. 

The Mila dress offers great color blocking opportunities or mixing up the fabric with a print and solid. The shape of this dress is really interesting - I've seen some great versions online but I know this is one that just wouldn't work on me, not enough fit adjustment potential in the bottom half. Style arc Mila dress

For another take on the cocoon shape, the Adeline dress gives you that slouchy comfy t-shirt shape but in a dress. I think it has side seams plus a center back seam so some adjustment potential. I like the drawing with the model wearing sneaks - I'm all about sneakers and espadrilles this summer. 
StyleArc Adeline dress

Now for something a little bit different, this dress from Butterick B5881. Not a cocoon or tent shape but definitely one that skims over the figure and is not waist hugging. I'm not a fan of linen but I know a lot of people are and this would look great in a lightweight linen. I think this pattern has been out a few years but seems to still be available.  The color block version is a nice idea although I don't care for the example - looks like leftover pieces they wanted to use up!

B5881

From McCalls I found three patterns that could make a nice loose fit dress. The first M7348 is a great beginner pattern - with learn to sew details and designed for medium to heavy weight knits. Also good for learning to sew knits. The M7562 looks really cute in the example on the model, I think the fabric choice would make this dress interesting. Lori from Girls in the Garden sewed it up and ended up changing it into a top - so she has some tips on sizing.  The pattern on the right, M7403 has interesting seaming and looking at the yardage it is not designed for knits even though it kind of looks like it. But you could certainly make it in a medium weight knit that has some body. I like the version C shown in the stripes.

McCalls dresses

What no Vogues?  Yes, here are a couple. This dress  V9107 looks so sharp in the black and white version, and I think it would look chic and sophisticated at a summer party where you could eat all you want and not need to wear Spanx. There, I said it - these dresses all have that comfort factor. Sometimes you want to look all sleek and shapely and other times you just want to relax and wear a cool loose swishy dress. This pattern has nice variations and could work all year round.

V9106 dress

OK - don't laugh - but I LOVE this dress Vogue 9237. The sleeveless version. It's so simple and I might even make it (although I confess I wouldn't buy the pattern - just swipe the idea and make it from one of my basic dress patterns. I guess I'm a sucker for a ruffle and this one is sort of a surprise ruffle. A walking away ruffle.

V9237

Here's a dress that I have chosen previously; the Papercut patterns Sway dress - and I still think it is really pretty. However I haven't sewn it up. But it looks good every time I see it pop up on someone's blog or Instagram. I think this is the perfect traveling dress for any warm weather vacation - whether beachside or in some city cafe.

papercut sway dress SaveSave

Here's another one that is so tempting. And has such an interesting shape, the Named Inari Tee dress.
So many nice versions of this one around, my favorite might be this striped one by Handmade by Carolyn. She looks so slouchy-cool. Is that a state of being? It is in that dress. Also this version by Karen of Did You Make That? The thing to note it is appears that nobody can make only one. Multiples appear. So good value for a pattern, right? And it must be quick to sew. I've almost convinced myself :)

Named Inari tee dress

So that's the round up of my suggestions for loose fit dresses. I haven't decided if I will sew up any of these but you never know. June is busting out all over here, the temps are climbing and a dress like this sound pretty good on a scorching day.

Happy Sewing,
Beth

and today's garden photo  - since I mentioned color-blocking in a few of these dresses how about the original color-blocker?  Mother Nature! Nobody does it better.  Violas in purple and white.

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