Friday, January 14, 2022

New Pattern Reviews: Butterick 6862 blazer and VikiSews Lora Pants

This year I'm going to try and do more posts about the patterns that I sew, with sewing details and definitely some critiques. When I make things for myself it's usually for one of the following reasons.

  1. I need an item to wear to an event. (although events have been thin on the ground as we well know these past 18 months. Also my closet could probably yield anything required).
  2. A new-to-me pattern that I just feel like sewing. It could be a new release pattern, something that catches my eye, or a vintage pattern. But at the moment I notice it I can imagine how I might wear it, and then my "must make" urge sets in. 
  3. Fabric attraction. Very often I come across a fabric that appeals and I just want it in my wardrobe. 
I think most every who sews and reads this blog can relate to these feelings. Some people are wardrobe planners but I've never been that way, no plan for the year or pledge to sew up specific things. But I'm always on the lookout for novelty and yet I do repeat patterns a lot. For my Blazer Jacket class that I taught online last fall in addition to the Jasika blazer that I made for my friend I decided to try a jacket pattern that was a new release from Butterick. 
To sum up my response to this jacket pattern - I didn't like it! The fabric I used ended up being problematic (more on that below) but in general the pattern didn't work out for me and I will explain why. 
Although some of you might take one look at the color and blame it on that :) which is understandable. Also I didn't really need a matching pair of pants but wanted to further refine this VikiSews pants pattern and had the fabric to make them. 
pink suit2

To review:  I was looking to make a blazer during my class to show some construction techniques and also I wanted to make something different than a blazer pattern which I have made already 3 times, that being the Pauline Alice Saler blazer. Here's a look at one of my favorite versions. I've made a blazer with peak lapels as this Butterick blazer has, and I wanted to make a single breasted jacket as I have a double breasted version - which was also a success. But you know the desire to try something different always gets you when looking at patterns. Also this is a Palmer and Pletsch pattern and I've had such good success with those patterns. But this one - not so much.
Here's the pattern envelope image and the technical drawing.
B6862 Butterick jacket diagram
Once I start sewing things I get very particular on details such as the shape of the lapel or angle of the pocket. But for once I was determined to sew up a pattern as is so I could follow the instructions and discuss the steps in the class. As it turned out almost every one was making the Jasika or McCalls 6172 which is a good pattern I've recommended a lot. So in the end I didn't really need a second example to sew along with the class. But since I had started it I did continue. 
So what didn't I like about this pattern? I started with my usual size 12 in Vogue/Butterick/McCalls and yet I found this jacket very oversized in a way that it didn't appear on the pattern. The shoulders were a good inch wider than other jackets I have and I moved the sleeve cap in about 1/2". The slanted welt pockets didn't appeal to me, I preferred the flap pockets so I used the front hem shape from View B and the pockets from View A. Now looking at it I don't really care for that much of an angle on the front pockets, maybe just a look I have to get used to. The sleeves were really a problem, they were huge! in terms of width, like at the elbow way too wide. It's a two piece sleeve so I narrowed it using those seams but I still think they are a bit big. My biggest issue was with the lapel design. 

lapel change pink2 jacket
I think they are just an awkward shape and I've made other jackets with this lapel which seemed more elegant to me. I took these pictures showing the inside and outside of my lapel, before and after changing the shape so you can see that I sewed it very accurately and didn't have an issue with pressing and trimming. So I decided to do some redesign on the lapel shape and changed it into more of a standard notch lapel. It still looks a bit out of proportion to me but I think it looks better.

Pink jacket and blouse1

Now onto the fabric issues. I fully admit that this was a piece of fabric that was given to me so I had no investment in this project (other than time and interfacing). The color was pretty albeit a bit on the vibrant side, even for me. It seemed like a nice woven wool. But it was evil! There was something about this fabric that didn't press correctly and I've never run into this issue before. Sometimes sections would press perfectly well, and other areas would give a strange result, kind of a rippled bubble effect. 
Here's an example.  Look at that sleeve, I have pressed it normally and those wavy rippled lines appear. Sometimes I could press them out and other times pressing would make them appear. It was maddening. 

pink jacket fabric issue

Other areas pressed fairly well, both pockets came out OK which was good. By the way I bought that beautiful single button at Stone Mountain. So glad they are open for shopping again as their button wall is my go-to for perfect buttons, particularly for jackets and coats. 

pink jacket pocket and button

Here's another area that is a bit wavy, the lapel. Although I think I pressed this multiple times and got it to settle down. Using this fabric just reinforced my opinion that the plaid wool I used in the Jasika jacket was perfection. 

pink lapel



Pink jacket back

I think you can see how wide it is at the back of the armhole. I did make a muslin and moved the armhole in but it didn't seem quite so problematic. I figured it would hang differently (better) in wool than in a cotton muslin. Wrong!  In any case this whole project was just a disappointment and I don't have that happen very often. 
Shall we talk about something else?  I'm really impressed with VikiSews patterns. I bought this pants pattern to try them out, and they fit very well right from the start. 

pink pants2

The VikiSews patterns are single size patterns and I prefer that. I think for pants it's a lot easier to just start with your hip measurement, choose the size and then adjust other sections, like waist or length, as needed. I chose the size closest to my hip measurement and the website tells you how much ease is in a particular style. For this pattern the hip ease is 4 cm. so about 1.5 inches.  That's the total difference between your body and the finished garment, which seems about right for close fitting pants. 
Things I like about these patterns:
  1. The crease lines are indicated and you use those in the pressing to shape the pants.
  2. The pattern markings are excellent.
  3. The shape of the hips and crotch curve are more like ready-to-wear pants or at least pants that I own.
  4. The instructions are very detailed and specific on how to shape the pants front and back using pressing/steam before you ever sew a stitch. This is how I learned to make wool trousers and it really builds in fit and shaping before you even sew. 
  5. The instructions are photographs and are extremely detailed so you can't really go wrong. 
Vikisews pants image

pink pants front

Once again I will blame this annoying fabric for my less than stellar pressing. Also if I were planning to wear these pants I would have added a lining as this is a bit too itchy to wear without. But for working out this pattern it was fine. 

Here's a look at the diagram of this pattern so you can see the shaping. It definitely accounts for a hip curve which suits me well. I perhaps could have used one size smaller as I did have to shave off about a 1/4" at the widest part of the hip and also take out about 1" total at the center back waist but I tend to start with a larger pant as despite being relatively short I have a long rise. 
Lora pants diagram


Vikisews pants1
And here my expression says "what a lot of sewing time for something I am not going to wear." Although I am tempted since my suede shoes match so well with this outfit :) I neglected to take any pictures of the back of these pants so I will wait until I make another pair and get some better pictures then. 
So that's a start to my intention to blog more often and dive deep into sewing and pattern details. I have a few other items finished and then it may be time to contemplate spring sewing. What? Winter comes through fast here in N. California. Yesterday I saw plenty of out in shorts walking their dogs. Although we are hoping for more rain, still needed. 
I'm still teaching classes at Hello Stitch Studio in Berkeley, they are closing their doors as mentioned in my previous post but will be open through February. After that I have a some opportunities to teach at other venues so I will update soon.

Happy Winter Sewing,
Beth

Today's garden photo, something to remind us that summer is coming. I took this back in July and didn't even see the little extra visitor until later when I was looking at the image on my phone. I'm posting this today because due to that big rain we had last month, and then warm sunshine all the sunflower seeds that fell from these flowerheads are sprouting along my driveway, and some are almost 2 feet tall. Sunflowers in January! ok that is weird even for us. After some frosty nights they look a bit worse for wear but I think a few might make it and be full grown in a few months. Climate change in my front yard :)

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Monday, January 3, 2022

Goodbye 2021 a quick review

To write a wrap-up post for this past year I looked back at what I wrote for my 2020 summary and kind of laughed, as in many respects I could have copied and pasted a lot of the same sentiments. I mean really - are we still here? Although to be fair this year has been much better than the previous weird one. Everyone (I mean everyone) I know is vaxed (cheers to the bay area!) and so life has been very much closer to normal here. Not 100% but a lot better. And perhaps the comparison to what was missing the previous year made a simple thing like having relaxing dinner with friends outside on a warm summer evening so much sweeter. 

Even though it felt like I was sewing constantly throughout the year I actually didn't make all that many things for myself. For one my closets are about to explode - how many summer dresses does a person need? Also I had hardly worn the things I made in 2020, so I used every opportunity to wear those things, and that made me happy. 

Closet 2020

1.Vintage Vogue DVF wrap dress, blog post. 
2. Denim Suit, Burda jacket pattern, blog post
3. Red wool coat, Burda pattern, blog post
4. Sundress, Burda pattern, blog post
And I have yet to wear this red dress but I will definitely do that this upcoming summer. Like I said, too many summer dresses!

So what took up my sewing time this year? Actually looking back I see that I made a number of things for other people. Mostly due to teaching online classes but that's how my friends end up as the recipient of some pretty nice item - if I so say so myself :)

sewed for others

1. Jasika blazer as example for my online tailoring class
2. Merchant and Mills boiler suit for jumpsuit class 
3. Closet Core Blanca jumpsuit for same class 
4. Vintage Vogue DVF wrap dress for a friend who went to Europe

I taught an online class almost every month this year and they have really been great. A very fun way to connect with sewists all over the country and world, and a good way in the difficult times to keep our sewing community together. In October Hello Stitch carefully resumed in-person classes and they were beyond filled up with every spot taken, I think a lot of people realized during the shutdown that making their own clothes was fun, rewarding and totally do-able. 

Hello Stitch Studio in Berkeley, where I have taught in-person classes since 2017 made it through the difficulties of the pandemic however they have decided to close their doors at the end of February. A variety of reasons but the short story is that the building was sold and they aren't able to find a suitable new space. I am so sad that they are closing but so grateful for the wonderful place that it had become. I couldn't have dreamed of a better opportunity to teach a big variety of classes to all levels and it's been a joy.

jacket class
My Tailored Jacket Class at Hello Stitch Studio in September 2019 


Meanwhile they are still offering online classes and I have a shirt-making class starting Jan. 11 and then a jumpsuit/boiler suit class in February.  Beyond that I'm working out some options for continuing to teach the live/online classes so I will be updating that soon. 

Despite getting out of the house and back into the world this year I also had some family members who ended up in the hospital and then recovering, not covid but accidents and other random things. Everyone is fine now but I spent a good amount of time on nurse duty which I am not exactly cut out for. And I have a very high regard for all the patient and kind medical personnel I encountered this year. They are champions!

So all that goes a long way to say I didn't sew all that much for myself this past year, and that was great. People keep giving me fabric which is also fine as I end up using a lot of yardage for all these examples and other things - but I do need to spend some quality time my spare bedroom and get it organized. 

As for sewing in 2022, who knows? I'm never one to make a plan, I just follow whatever whim strikes me at the moment. Which is probably why I have a lot of things that don't go together but I it doesn't bother me. I have a few things to post that I finished in the last weeks so onward with fresh ideas. And some new to me patterns, including VikiSews. My quick review - they are very good. But I will write a more thorough review soon. 

Wishing to everyone a Very Happy and Healthy New Year,
Beth

 
Today's garden photo, something very bring and cheerful on this rainy Monday. Rain I am not complaining about - we finally have lots of rain and snow in the mountains which gives us all here in N. California something to be very grateful about. Things were getting dire and while we are not in the clear yet it's certainly trending away from drought and a lot more green. 
This is a dianthus which is one of my favorite little plants, reliable, hardy and it's sometimes called pinks which is because it looks like it was trimmed with pinking shears. The most sewing themed of flowers!


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Thursday, December 23, 2021

Very Merry Christmas to you and some sewing too

In the words of the song, so this is Christmas, and what have you done? As the great John Lennon said in the next line, Another year over and a new one just begun. This certainly is a time for reflection and this strange year has given so many opportunities to think about what we have all been through and what is to come.  Last year in December we were hoping for a better year and in many ways it has been. While life isn't completely back to normal here in N. California we are doing quite well and fingers crossed it will stay that way. I wonder what it will be like in 5 or 10 years to look back on this. 

Life moves on and the holidays are a time to celebrate. Let's talk sewing - I've been seeing friends and getting a chance to wear some of the things I sewed last winter that never got out of the house, especially my red coat. 

Holiday coat2

I finished this coat in early 2020 and wore it to one event at the end of that February. It's so strange to think of that time and know that we had no idea what was on the horizon. I did three blog posts on this coat as it was quite a project so here are the links.
In case you don't read those, just to review, this is actually a plaid, up close you can see that it's a basketweave design so I did match it as a plaid. I ordered the fabric from Mood in NY and everything about it was perfection, including that color. 

As for new sewing, under the coat I'm wearing a new top which I think will be one of the most popular magazine patterns for Burda this year. It's Burda October 2021 # 112.

Green turtleneck3

This is about as far as I will go on the big sleeve trend, I just find the sleeves annoying when you put on a jacket so these are interesting but not gigantic. Also the slim long wrist portion keeps them precisely in place when you are wearing this top, it's really comfortable.


Green turtleneck top

Adjustments:  I made a size 38 at neck and shoulders and graded out to fit at the hips. I shortened the cuff portions 1.5 inches. I cut them out as they were and sewed them up but the end of the cuff was just about at my elbow bend which wasn't comfortable. Since I had attached the bottom of the sleeve but not sewn the cuffs closed I just shorted 1.5" at the bottom and snugged them up there at the wrist. Plus marked it on my pattern pieces so I can make another one! The turtleneck portion ends up needing to fold over 3 times to wear it, and I think that might be a bit excessive so I think I will shorten that as well in future. This is a super quick top to make and a little more interesting than the average turtleneck. It could also be nice with just a flat neck band, eliminating the turtleneck. 
The fabric is a mystery knit that I had in my stash - I think I got it in the last year at a rummage sale. It's kind of thick but not a ponte. Bonus points for the fact that it coordinates so well with my green corduroy Ash jeans which have turned into a wardrobe staple - I wear them all the time. 

And you can see that I wasted a few minutes playing around with Photoshop when I could have been sewing to blur the background in the restaurant. We were a group of 12 and we had an outside table on a very cold day - so I dressed warmly. As it turned out the outside table was in a tent (the standard for dining here in N. Cal) and there were so many of those outdoor heaters that it was boiling! But I would always rather be too warm than cold so it was fine with me. You can see the color of the top better here, standing in front of a green Christmas tree in a green outfit does mean you will slightly blend into the background. 

Restaurant pic copy

Here's the image from the Burda website and the tech drawings. Yes that turtleneck is a bit too much. In the magazine I think it's also a dress version which would make a nice cozy winter dress. 

Burda top 10-2021

Another look at my very green outfit. I wish I could find more stretch corduroy in colors, a royal blue would fit in my wardrobe nicely. 

Green turtleneck

So that's the pre-Christmas sewing. I have a few other projects in the works which I hope to post in the next two weeks. And then I will start another round of classes at Hello Stitch and online. 

Now it's crunch time in terms of baking, cooking and wrapping. I've made about 6 Italian panettone so far and this is my new favorite thing to bake, although it does take a lot of time. Mostly waiting during the rise and then baking. So an ideal thing to make while at home sewing with a few dashes into the kitchen to move it along. 

Merry Merry Christmas to everyone and I wish you health and happiness this season and all throughout the New Year.

Beth


Holiday coat1

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Jacket Sewing Class completed and a Jasika Blazer for a friend

Perhaps it's the year we've all had or the fact that I have enough jackets to last me a good long while, but as I started to prepare to teach my Blazer Jacket class in October I looked around for someone else to be the recipient of a new jacket. My next door neighbor Marissa was happy to oblige - and it's very convenient to have such a nearby fit model! Plus she got this blazer out of it. I have to say that this is one of the best things I have made in a while - due to being meticulous with every step in order to show details to the class via photos and video. Also I decided to up the degree of difficulty with plaid fabric, but I think it's ideal for this jacket and I'm so happy with the result.

Plaid jacket lapel

I also note that this is one of those items that doesn't photograph all that well, it might look a bit drab but I think that up close it looks so nice and it can be worn with so many different looks.  Here's Marissa wearing her new jacket. It's the Closet Core Jasika Blazer. About half the people in the class made this pattern and the rest made others. I like to have my classes be very general purpose so you can learn basic techniques which apply to any pattern. 

Jacket M edited

I made a size 8 for her with just some small adjustments in the hip area and lengthening the sleeves. She's tall but the hem was at a good spot so I didn't adjust the length.  

My online class started in October and went for 6 weeks, with Tuesday evenings for instruction and Thursday evenings for sewing time, questions and discussion. That was longer than any other online class I've done but it worked out well since a blazer has a lot more steps than other projects. I really enjoyed it and plan to repeat it again in a couple of months. I've done this class both in person and now online and while they are different both are a lot of fun and have different pros and cons. Here's a quick video with some snippets from the class - I'm learning to use iMovie and now you can't stop me :)   If it doesn't have the play button if you click on it, then you will go to the Flickr page where you can view. 


Jacket class video

You can see she is a bit taller than I am, maybe 4 inches? I'm wearing my Pauline Alice Saler blazer which is one of my most frequently worn jackets, that color is my favorite.

Final jacket 1 edit

Here's a look on the dress form. 

Plaid jacket


Jacket front and back edit

This fabric is 100% wool and I think it's been in my stash for more than 20 years?  Is that even possible? I know I bought it way back when I was working in the corporate world and we wore suits a lot, but I just never sewed it up so it stayed with me - across a couple of moves and occasionally I would pull it out to make sure it didn't have any moth holes. I am 95% sure I bought it at Stone Mountain and I used about half of what there was to make this jacket so I still have a piece remaining. I just might make this same jacket for myself. It's really lightweight and not at all itchy, yet has the perfect press ability and non-wrinkle tendency of a high quality wool. 

Plaid jacket front edgejpg

For the class I also made another blazer from a new Butterick pattern, which made me long for my Burda jacket patterns - more to come when I post about the Butterick. Although with that project I did  try out VikiSews patterns to make pants to go with it and they were great so it was a productive project in the end. 

I hope the video is entertaining - let me know what you think and also if you are interested in joining in a blazer class in the next couple of months. It's been a happy side effect of this pandemic that I've started these online classes and had the chance to meet and interact with people who I might have known as names in a comment here or in IG. 

This has definitely been a year of making some fun things for friends - I plan to do a year-end post so I will mention all those then. Meanwhile I'm so happy to be wearing a few of the coats I made last year as things here in N. California are very good (fingers crossed it stays that way) and we are mostly out and about with precautions. 
I've made a few holiday-ish items for the season including what I think will be the Burda top of the winter, so I'll post those next week.  

Until then, Happy Holidays and take care,
Beth

Final jacket 5 edit

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Random Threads # 40: Finding Fabric, new Patterns and sleeve doubts

What?? It's been a full year since I've written a Random Threads post! Looking back I see the last one was October of 2020 when I wrote about my opinions on magazines, podcasts and patterns that use a lot of fabric. Today I have thoughts on some new acquisitions, elusive fabrics, styles that don't appeal and my obsession with Russian patterns.

Why is it so difficult to find nice corduroy? I really like to wear corduroy jeans or pants in the fall and winter, especially in interesting colors. But while I can see a variety of shades in ready-to-wear it seems really challenging to find nice fabrics to sew. I've been looking for some interesting blue colors, not a muted shade but perhaps royal blue. You know how I like the jewel tones. Or a rich olive green, I think that would be a good neutral. I do prefer the stretch corduroy for pants or jeans, and around 14 wales per inch, not the pinwale type. I see some on a fabric website at $22/yard or so and my bargain hunting self thinks that is too much. Because of the fabric nap I do need around 2+ yards. So perhaps the availability is not the problem but my miserly tendencies :) 

All the pockets:  I bought the Anzu skirt from Waffle Patterns. I think it looks like the perfect travel skirt for the upcoming trips which look every more likely these days. Who dislikes carrying a purse or bag when doing some sightseeing - I certainly do and it would be great to have sunglasses, phone, wallet, etc. at hand and safely attached (or even hidden) on your person. Plus it's ideal for denim. I hope to get to this one after my current jacket class concludes. Until then I'm immersed in lapels, sleeves and all things blazer jacket. 

Anzu skirt3


How do you wear a jacket?  Every time I see a pattern with great big sleeves I think this. Don't those sleeves bunch up uncomfortable inside the arms of the coat or jacket?  And the fluttery ones, those would drive me crazy.  Once in a while I make something that has elastic at the wrist, with the bottom of the sleeve creating a ruffle and that also annoys me so I have learned not to make that, despite being a pretty shape. Perhaps I'm overly fussy - I feel the same way about labels in clothes, particularly ones at the center back neck - the worst! I always extract those from any t-shirts or fleece tops. 

Sleeve examples


Iron conundrums:  I have been a loyal Rowenta iron user, despite the leaking and other issues. I just like how they press, they are nice and large, the "platinium" sole plate (if you can find this model) is amazingly non-stick and easy to clean. I admire the marketing genius that came up with that word which means nothing and yet names their sole plate material. But earlier this year my shoulder was hurting, a combo of lots of pressing on my relatively high work surface which means I am lifting a heavy iron up near my shoulder, particularly when using a sleeve board or other pressing tool. 

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So I decided to get a lighter weight iron. At the studio in Berkeley they had some of these Black and Decker Irons and they worked well so I ordered one. It's great! much lighter than my Rowenta and has really good steam. And the price is right. At the studio they also have these Oliso irons with the retractable feet which I actually despise - I just don't see the point and I can't get used to putting the iron in that flat position. If you love them then great - irons are like sewing machines, everyone has their specific preferences. 

VikiSews Patterns: these are my new obsession. I bought a couple of patterns via their English language Etsy shop and had them printed via PDF Plotting. I made the pants and ordering the size based on my hip measurement they were just about a perfect fit. Could this be my holy grail of pants patterns, I think so! The one I made is Lora, shown on the right in blue.  I made them as a test in some weird printed corduroy but now I think they might be wearable. To be determined, I will hem them and post. 
Vikisews pants image

So I then ordered a couple more patterns, from their actual Russian website. On their website that is English language they have a good selection of patterns but they actually have many more that they are working to translate. I don't really need the instructions so it doesn't matter to me, however their instructions are perhaps some of the best I have ever seen.  I will definitely do a post all about this pattern brand. Stefanie (whose style I admire very much) blogs and posts @seaofteal She has written about these patterns, she has made several and they look fantastic. 
I couldn't resist that blazer on the right shown in green, it's so sharp but actually I think I will make the Riana blazer first, it's a more casual look and simpler to fit. I'm also planning to make those Anne pants, maybe even in a ponte as I have a couple of pieces in my stash. 

Vikisews jackets image

Burda pattern magazine repeats:  I'm  not the only one who has noticed the repetitive nature of patterns in the Burda magazine this past year. I think this happens if you have been subscribing for a while. At first all the designer are new-to-you, but then as a couple of years roll by you see the same knit tops, the same pants, and variations on the same dress. I also wonder if just like the Big 4 pattern companies their output has slowed due to the effects of the pandemic, lockdown, etc.  I didn't see any interesting jackets in their fall issues which usually has some outstanding and interesting looks. Perhaps this explains my interest in the VikiSews (actually for that I credit Instagram).  Anyway, I have some faux suede fabric in a nice dark green and will probably reach back to a pattern from 2018 or 2018 to make a holiday dress this year. 

A new coat is not needed: but if I did have thoughts of making a new coat this one caught my eye. I'm not that wild about the front, I think it doesn't match the back but I really like that inset creating a full skirt effect. Actually looking at it more closely I think it would be nicer with set-in sleeves instead of the raglan. See - that's why we sew - we can pick and choose elements of design and come up with something interesting.  Anyway - I have hardly worn the last two coats I made. The other evening I met friends, sitting outside at a restaurant and I wore this plaid coat. It was almost too warm for it but sitting outside I thought it might be chilly. (if the temperature is below 70 Fº I am freezing!)
Actually I'm really looking forward to wearing this red coat which you will see me in all through December.  Also, this Vogue pattern takes between 3.5 and 5.5 yards of fabric, depending on length and size. That is a lot of fabric, both in expenditure and to tote around on your body. 


V1837 coat patterns

So that's the rundown of my opinions for this Random Threads, I didn't even mention my dislike of the trend of exaggerated collars with ruffles on the edge. They remind me of pilgrim costumes. Timely for November I guess.  
Up next, I am working on two blazers for my current online Jacket Making Class, which is heading into its 3rd (of 6) weeks. Back vent, and starting on the collars are on the sewing table now. I'm making the Jasika blazer and the Butterick 6862 with a lot of details and a bit of compare and contrast as I go along.
Perhaps we will run this class again in the spring if there is interest. 

Hello Stitch Studio:  very gratifying - all the in-person classes we've scheduled through the end of this year are sold out with waiting lists. I think people are thrilled to get back to doing things in person and also to learn to sew, something they may have tried during lockdown and are now ready to get some in-person instruction. We're just starting to plan for 2021 so if you are in the bay area and have a class suggestion let me know. 

Happy Halloween to all - my neighborhood is VERY popular with the trick or treaters, so I might have to rest up this afternoon as the evening will be busy! I think it will get started early and finish early as it's a school night - let's hope so.

Happy Sewing,
Beth

Today's garden photo is this beautiful Salvia Mexicana "Limelight" which I think I got at the local junior college horticulture department sale a few years ago. This weekend they are finally opening for a sale again in person, after almost 2 years so my calendar is marked!!!  This plant is so pretty and a late bloomer (October here) so a nice addition to the not so thrilling fall garden. Plus I took a cutting and made a second plant which makes me like it all the more.

 
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Monday, October 11, 2021

A silk shirt post with lots of construction details

It finally feels like fall here in N. California. Not exactly coat and scarf weather but a slight nip in the air, and some falling leaves. Actually today is a swirl of fallen leaves and a red alert for wind and fire danger but we will cross our fingers and hope for the best. This is the scariest time of year and I don't mean Halloween!

Last week my sewing thoughts turned to long sleeved shirts and I decided to use this beautiful silk crepe de chine fabric. My favorite local sewing store Stone Mountain Fabric  has just reopened to the public after being online only during these many months and this silk fabric is the last thing I bought in person there. In fact purchases the very day before we started the first day of lockdown here in California back in March 2020. 

Blue shirt1

I've been doing a lot of preparation lately for my jacket class that starts next week, so I have construction details on the brain and thought I would share some of my silk shirt construction methods with this post. I used to do more detailed posts and would like to do some more this fall and winter. The problem is remembering to take pictures as I sew!

For this shirt I've used the same exact pattern that I use for almost every button front shirt I make. I like the size and shape of the collar and the way it fits across the shoulders, so why try something different when a shirt pattern is just the starting point. I have changed this same pattern up to do a popover placket, gathers instead of darts, hidden buttonhole placket, cut-on faux button band, faced front and tunic top versions so if you check the search bar on the side of the blog you can see many other versions. It's Simplicity 2339 which is an Amazing Fit pattern from around 7 years ago? 

To start with I evaluate the fabric and decide which method I will use for the closure at the center front and then which interfacings would give me the shaping I want. For this shirt the fabric was just about the same as this one, which I wear A LOT and whatever I did was successful so I decided to use those methods. (actually if you look at that post there are some god construction details) However I couldn't remember what I used in the collar/collar stand so I unpicked it a little bit at the center back neckline so I could see into the seams. As it turned out I used a combo of lightweight fusible and silk organza. Also I used facings at the front, so there is no sewn-on button band. Sometimes on a silk shirt I think it looks smoother with facings. 

In the photo below I'm getting ready to apply the fusible to the collar, and so I place the fusible on the silk pattern piece, pin it lightly down and then use the paper pattern piece to make sure the shape is retained. Some fabrics just seem to wiggle or change shape and then once you apply the fusible you are stuck with an incorrect shape. I do this a lot with a variety of pattern pieces, particularly V-necklines to make sure they are still the same shape as the paper pattern piece. 

Silk shirt collar fusible

I do the same for the collar stand, check the shape before fusing. For the collar stand side with the silk organza, that fabric is quite stable, it stays the same shape as the paper pattern piece so you can use that as the guide when joining that to the fabric. 

Next up is taking care of the facings. I like to use the fusible which is in fact a woven fabric to finish the edge of the facing by stitching them right sides together and then flipping over the fusible, clipping the seam and then fusing the rest in place. It is a bit of a fiddly process as you don't want to fuse it crooked, or with a wrinkle so I just move the iron about 1/4" at a time from the seam edge towards the other edge. 

Facing edge with fusible

The result is a very clean finished edge inside the shirt, and then you have the facing showing where the neck falls open at the top, so you see the right side of the fabric. This fabric has a distinctive different shade of blue on the wrong side and for a while I was trying to figure out how to use that as an accent but it's not really distinctive enough so I let go of that idea.


Blue silk shirt facing


Silk shirt front

I wish I had measured the piece before I started cutting it out, it was probably 1.5 yards of 55" wide fabric. So that's enough for me to make most shirts or tops with some inventive cutting out - however I did have to omit the inner yoke piece in silk. In fact I often use some solid lightweight fabric there anyway so it worked out. 

Blue silk shirt inside

As I was sewing I realized I wanted the seams at the side and in the sleeves to have some nicer seam finishes so I did what I think is a faux french seam, in that I press it open and then press to create two folds which are stitched closed. Perhaps more work than the traditional method of a french seam but I never remember to do it and then have to use this. So often I am just sewing on auto-pilot with something playing in the background. I'm currently watching a variety of British, French and Italian mysteries on Britbox and Mhz channels. And I definitely need the subtitles on the French so that means I pay more attention to the screen than to my sewing :). 

Silk shirt french seam

For the cuffs I put both a lightweight fusible and then on one side I put silk organza, that combo gives the cuffs just the right amount of stiffness. I just cut out some "close enough" pieces, baste them on and then trim to match the cuff edge. 

Silk cuffs interfacing


Silk shirt back

Blue shirt back

I wanted the back to be loose and flowy so I put a small pleat in the center back. 
For the cuffs on these silk shirts I don't do a tower placket, I prefer the continuous binding which is a bit softer. 

Blue silk shirt cuff

So that's the latest on my start of fall sewing. I am vowing NOT to make any coats this year, I've made 3 in the past 18 months and the red coat only had one wear. I plan to wear that all through the holiday season!! 

It will be blazer sewing from now to Thanksgiving. We start the Live/Online Jacket Tailoring class next week on Tuesday night. There's still time to register, here on the Hello Stitch website.  It's  Tues/Thurs 6-7:30pm so hopefully that works no matter your time zone. And you don't need to have all your supplies for the first class as I will be covering a lot of that information then and you can get your project together after that.

I've now taught a couple of in-person classes at the studio and it was really fun to be there, I think a lot of people either started sewing during the pandemic or decided it was time to learn because we are almost fully booked. In January I think we will have lots more garment sewing classes so I will update when we get the schedule finalized. 

I'm looking forward to wearing my new silk shirt, and this is actually how I will probably wear it most of the time, underneath a cashmere sweater. 

Blue shirt with sweater2


Happy Sewing,
Beth

For today's garden photo, a closer look at those hydrangeas which were a bright lilac blue earlier in the summer. I tend to leave them on the plants and just see what colors they turn. The other day I saw a floral designer refer to this hydrangea bloom as "antiqued" which is I suppose a fancy name for fading flowers. 

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