Thursday, April 1, 2021

Some jumpsuits for friends and the beginning of a new coat

Oops I've done it again, sewn up a nice winter coat as our weather changes to sunshine and no layers required. If I look back on the blog I seem to have done this a few times. Note to self, make the coat before November. Yeah, that's not going to happen as it is still quite hot here then so I couldn't deal with sewing a wool coat. Consequently I have another one that I may keep for next winter or pass on to a friend. That seems to be the theme of my pandemic sewing, which is just as well since my closets are bursting and I don't need anything. But there are so many interesting patterns and beautiful fabric that I want to sew up. 
I will get to the coat in a minute - this will be the first of two posts about it as it had a few interesting details. But what I have been busy sewing lately are a couple of different jumpsuits in anticipation of my April sewing class with Hello Stitch Studio. For this class we're doing coveralls. I think that is a great catch-all term for what are variously called boiler suits, flight suits, and jumpsuits. They all have a bit of a mechanic's workwear look and I had to be convinced a little, but now I'm fully on board. However I haven't made one for myself. (see above paragraph re: bursting closets) 

So to familiarize myself with these patterns I sewed the Merchant and Mills Thelma Boilersuit for Stacey, one of the owners of Hello Stitch. 


What a great style, it has just the right amount of ease to be comfortable and plenty of pockets to carry everything. I did puzzle a bit over the instructions but that's why I sew up things before my class so I can explain the construction details. 
Not to be content with making one coverall, I managed another one for my friend Halnya (@zigzagstitching on IG). This is the Blanca Flightsuit from Closet Core Patterns, in a mystery fabric which came in the big stash of fabrics an estate clean-out gave me earlier this year. 


Both these patterns have some clever details and some opportunities to learn new skills (hidden buttonhole placket, center front zipper with placket, both a bit tricky!)  
So if you are interested in making a coverall style jumpsuit the class starts next Tues. April April 6, 7pm. for four weeks. By the way - if you aren't interested in this specific type of jumpsuit but want to join in the class anyway that's fine, on Thursdays we sew together, check progress, I answer questions and troubleshoot how things are going. Plus we all get to have some sewing conversation with fellow fabric lovers. 
By the way, for both these garments I chose a size based on their measurements and the fit was nice so I think these styles have a bit of wiggle room and fit is not such an issue  - although I have some ideas about construction allowing you to fit as you go. 
Back to the coat. When I saw this fabric choice as a Minerva Ambassador I was really excited as I've seen a lot of very cool fashion-y plaid coats this past winter and wanted to try one. The slight trouble with plaid outerwear is that you have to choose your coordinating outfit kind of carefully, but I thought that the grey/red/black combo would work out with things I like to wear in the winter. Note I received this fabric from in exchange for sewing it up and posting about it. 
Here's a look at the fabric and a bit about how I match the plaid. This step was cutting out the coat front facings. I like the facings to match the plaid lines exactly as the outer part, and fortunately I had enough fabric to do so with a tiny adjustment which you will see later. For big stripes like this I draw them on my pattern pieces and it really helps to get everything lined up. I generally choose one dominant stripe and use that as my guide line, so here I used the white line. 

Matching plaid on facing patrones coat

Note that this is an uneven plaid - meaning it is not symmetrical so you have to approach it carefully and decide where you want the prominent lines plus how you can lay it out so it doesn't look unbalanced on the back, for example. 
Here's another look at the plaid matching.  I think this was matching at the side seams, front and back. Also for coats I often put a cut-on extension on the pocket area so that you don't see the pocket lining, so much easier than sewing something on. 

matching side seams Patr coat

This is the pattern I used, it's from Patrones digital app, I will have to look up which issue it's from. But my main goal was to use a pattern with minimal seaming and thus simple pattern matching. 

I did a good rummage through my button box and found these 4 red buttons, which were entirely suitable. If I was running out shopping for every little thing these day I might have chosen some larger buttons but these are just fine and had the added bonus of being right there in my stash!


That's a test buttonhole, extra large but I was trying to see if doing it on the bias was noticeable. I decided it was so I went with that. 
Since I took the photos as I went I'm just going to include all the bound buttonhole process photos for those who like details. 
1. Thread ladder

2. Pin welts on outside of coat, mark stitch end with chalk
Buttonhole patr coat 3

3. Stitch on right side, turn and press
buttonhole patr coat4

4. later when facing is attached I slice open the facing, turn in edges and hand stitch to rectangle of buttonhole on that side. (I don't use the "window" method)
buttonhole patr coat 5

Here's a look at the coat in progress, with buttonholes mostly done but before I attached the facing.


So that's what I've been up to. Spring has definitely arrived, time to get out the sandals although we all wish it would rain again - it's going to be a very dry summer. 
Perhaps my next project will be a spring dress for meeeeeeee! I have my first vaccine and with the next one a couple of weeks away I think this summer will be a big improvement over last year. 

Happy Sewing and stay well. 

today's garden photo, I don't think much of azaleas, as they bloom for a short while and then they are done - but oh when they do, the color is fantastic. 


Sunday, March 21, 2021

Vintage Vogue Suit, completed

Time to post this finished blazer and move on to spring projects. I started this jacket back in late November, as I was looking for a time consuming project that would keep me busy during the winter months. As it turned out my stay-at-home time increased even more, with the weather making most outdoor socialization not possible and the surge of cases here in California very serious. So it was a project for the dark days of December and to be honest, I'm not all that wild about this jacket. In fact since I have so many other jackets which are more colorful I feel like I will probably never wear it and plan to see if any of my friends would want it. 

But onward to discussing the finishing touches. If you want to see the pattern look at my first post which was back at the end of January. The pattern is a vintage Vogue designer pattern, Vogue 1987 Yves St. Laurent suit, I think released sometime in 1978. I also made the blouse in the pattern but I don't like it at all, and then made some trousers using a different pattern however they have a very similar look. 

Tweed blazer sq

If you look at my previous posts you can see that I used most of the traditional tailoring methods for this jacket, with horsehair canvas, pad stitching, hand sewn patch pockets etc. In fact the pattern instructions specify all these techniques which was one reason I decided to use them. I haven't made anything using those techniques in a long time and probably won't again. It was rather satisfying to see all those pad stitches creating a shape but I do prefer using modern fusible interfacings.


I finished the jacket a few weeks ago and on a rainy day when the light was nice I stopped by a friends and she took some pictures in the park. On the whole the fit of the jacket is ok, I did make a muslin and I feel that it is the right measurements on me, but I don't care for the exaggerated and lower lapel shape, plus there is something about the hang of the sleeves on me that isn't quite right. 


It needed some zing so I used this rose colored bemberg lining and with some remaining silk charmeuse from the pocket linings I made some flat piping for the edges. 

tweed blazer sleeve button

The sleeves do have a button opening but it is different from that you see on most jackets as it is a rounded end and just one button. The pattern was great to work with as it had every pattern piece for the lining, interfacing and jacket included. 


I noticed on the pattern envelope it was one that came with this label, however my pattern which I got at at a Bay Area Sewists Meetup swap didn't have it in the envelope, perhaps the original owner used it on her jacket. In any case, I had a few of these Vogue designer labels but not this exact one so I ordered it on eBay. I added that welt pocket inside the front lining, it's not on the original pattern but I often add pockets in the lining of coats or jackets. 

Tweed blazer back sq

Back view, it's a more boxy shape than I've made in a while.  

Tweed jacket with black pants1

Here it is worn with a silk blouse and my Tatjana trousers made in black wool crepe. The trousers deserve their own blog post but I think that will wait until I make them in a fabric that shows up better in photos. The pattern is from my friend Delphine's pattern company, Just Patterns and this is the Tatjana trousers. It's a really great pattern and for experienced sewers it includes all the info you need but can skip the instructions, or if you are a beginner the instructions are quite thorough. 


I think this is the combo of fabric and pattern that would become a slouchy and comfortable blazer, getting softer and more worn in over the years, and due to the wool tweed will probably last for ages. 
In the photo above I'm wearing it with a turtleneck sweater and black jeans, not the pleated trousers. 

Tweed blazer back of lapel

A look at that lapel crease and the upper pocket. I'm very happy with that pad stitching and the built in shaping it gives the jacket, it was a perfect combo with this nice herringbone wool fabric. 


Back lining view which shows the center back pleat. I think the sleeve lining is a bit too long, as it wants to peek out when worn. I will go back and fix that. I didn't shorten the sleeves when I made the jacket (as I usually do) since I had a sneaking suspicion I would pass this one on to a friend.

Tweed jacket and pants2

Yeah baby, the 70's are back. As the expression on my face says, No thank you to the fashions of that era. Big shoulder pads and pleated trousers, not something that I think looks right on me but perhaps it might with some modifications. I've seen so many ruffles, pants shapes and dress styles from that decade reviving now - not one of the best fashion eras but perhaps a lot better than what came next, the 80's which don't deserve any repeat!

Next up some jumpsuit sewing, or actually boiler suit and/or flight suit sewing, as our Hello Stitch Studio class in April is just that. Plus I've a few silk fabrics that are just longing to be sewn up into spring tops. 

Happy Spring Sewing,

Today's garden photo - some very reliable dianthus that are blooming right now. Dianthus are also called pinks and I think they are the most sewing themed flower, with the edges looking like they have been cut with pinking shears. 


Sunday, March 14, 2021

Vintage Vogue Suit part 3

Time to finish my blog posts on this jacket - as I have sewn several other things in the interim and I want to get caught up with my sewing/blogging. The previous post covered the collar and lapel construction, with all the pad stitching and pressing details. Next up were the pockets. I don't think I've ever made a jacket with hand sewn pockets but I decided to follow the pattern instructions and give it a go. IMG_5194

The jacket had the pattern pieces for the pockets plus separate pattern pieces for the actual pocket lining. I actually traced the pattern pieces and placed them over the jacket so I could match the herringbone stripes in the fabric.


The fold line is marked by my yellow tailor's tacks, and then the left and right pockets are differentiated by the yellow and green basting threads shown on the pockets above. 
I did put some lightweight fusible interfacing on the wrong side of the pockets. It just seemed to need a little more structure so they would lay flat and not sag on the jacket front. I trimmed the fusible away in the seam allowance before applying. I made a pressing template from a manila folder, which is my go-to item to cut up and make templates. It really helped with getting the rounded corners of the pocket to press perfectly and all match. 


Behind the pockets on the inside of the jacket the instructions said to stitch a rectangle of firm cotton fabric, to give the stitching at the corners of the pocket some reinforcement. That is the spot that might ultimately tear a bit on a pocket. I did baste it down a bit more than they indicated, so that I wouldn't mistakenly stitch it down with a crease when hand sewing on the pockets. 


Next was applying the pocket lining. I rummaged around in the scrap bag and came up with just enough of this grey silk charmeuse to make the linings. Which was also hand sewn to the pockets. 



Here's a look at my pattern matching, a detail that will be lost when the jacket is viewed as a whole but I just had to do it. 
Then the pockets are basted on, and hand stitched all around. I went around each pocket twice, plus extra reinforcement at the tops. 



Which seemed like it took forever but was worthwhile. I found the trick was not to pull the silk thread too tight as the patch pocket needs to be secure but also almost float on top of the jacket front. 
Once the pockets were completed then the sleeves were next. 
The pattern came with a specific piece for the hair canvas interfacing which goes at the sleeve hem.




After stitching on the hair canvas, then the sleeve seams are sewn up, with the curved self-facings. 
Next up, sewing in the sleeves. 


I basted in the sleeves before sewing the on the machine. As it turned out, the sleeves are the one part of the jacket where I'm not really happy with the fit. I just sewed them in according to the markings and didn't really try it on. Now I think I could have rotated the sleeve a bit forward to change how they hang, which I often do with other jackets. 
The pattern called for a 1/2" shoulder pad but it also needed a sleeve head so I added that, but didn't take a picture. 
After that, it was hemming the jacket, then putting in the lining which I did in the same manner as I have in other blazers I've made. So sewing all the lining pieces together, and then hand stitching it to the the jacket facings and hem. 
Here's a look at the finished jacket - but I'll have more photos in the next post, including the lining and wearing it with my Tatjana trousers from Just Patterns

Tweed blazer sleeve side view

So that's this jacket almost completely blogged - and I'm ready to move on to other things. Which include a plaid coat that I finished as our warm weather is arriving. Another coat I'll have at the ready for next winter, when hopefully we are going out of the house!! 

Happy Sewing,

Daffodils blooming everywhere now.  


Sunday, February 28, 2021

Vintage Vogue Suit part 2

Time to pick up where I left off on this vintage Vogue pattern. It's all finished and on a rainy day (one of our few) I took a couple of outdoor shots. That may be all there is. I'm actually not crazy about this jacket, while I'm glad to have it finished it might just be another one of those 2020 items I give to a friend. However it did pass the time during the winter and reminded me why I like to use the quicker tailoring techniques to make things. Further down in this post I will pick up where I left off with sewing details in my previous post.

It has been finished for a couple of weeks, but it just feels so strange to add substantial items to my wardrobe with basically nowhere to wear things. In fact I was at Trader Joe's this week, wearing my bright blue wool blazer (here's the link) and one of the guys stocking the freezer cabinet turned around and said "great jacket - love the color!" So perhaps I need to wear some of these items for my mundane outings. Fingers crossed that summer is a lot different around here - I don't even want to talk about it (going on 12 months of social distance here in N. Calif 😩. 

As to what I've been sewing - not all that much as I just finished a month of teaching several online classes  via Zoom for Hello Stitch Studio. I can say they are a lot more to prepare than teaching in person but I'm happy to do them. We structure the classes as part instruction/learning time and part social time. I think we all miss our sewing social events so much and while I talk often and even see some friends periodically most of my friends don't sew. (and think that making clothes is a mysterious and unfathomable activity).

We have two classes in our monthly sewing club starting this week, the Button Front Shirt class which is an early session (4-5:30 pm pst ) and you can use any shirt pattern.  Also we have the  Myosotis Dress class 7-8:30pm. If you want to join in this class it would be fine to use shirt dress pattern that you already have. One upside of this whole situation is that people from outside the bay area can join in so it's been great to meet (virtually) some new people.  Here's the link to Hello Stitch Studio for all their other offerings. I made this chambray shirt in the class a few months ago, so I will be looking around in my stash tomorrow for fabric to use in new shirt project in the class. 

Chambray shirt

OK, back to jacket construction. In my previous post I ended with the start of pad stitching on the lapels. The next pattern piece to be pad stitched was the collar. I really feel I am out of practice with this stitching technique but wool tweed is a very helpful fabric and my stitching seemed to work. I like to use a contrast silk thread color as it make me happy to see the stitches marching along in turquoise rows, plus it doesn't show on the other side since the needle takes an invisible bite into the wool on the right side. 


Next step is attaching the under collar to the jacket front. At this point it is sewn on but not trimmed nor the seam pressed.


My next step is to press that seam which joins the collar to the lapel, trim and catch-stitch it down with silk thread. I do this same process also when I have made a jacket using fusible interfacings, it keeps the seam allowances smooth inside the jacket and then the upper collar and lapel can overlay with out any seam allowance getting in the way. 


Onward to the upper collar and lapel. Here is where in deviated from the pattern instructions, they didn't have any interfacing on the upper collar but I don't like the way that looks, although in this fabric it might not have been as noticeable as it might be on a solid or light color fabric. In any case I put some lightweight fusible on the upper collar and the jacket lapel facings.  The seam there was also trimmed and then catch-stitched down.


Time to sew the upper collar/lapel facing to the jacket body. I have no reservations about marking my stitching line on curves, angles etc. It just makes the machine sewing more accurate and avoids having to redo things. Soft lead pencil, chalk or Frixon pens all work fine for this purpose. 


More trimming. Grading the seam of the collar.



Pressing open the seam on the edge of the collar and lapel, and notching the curves which need space when the seam allowance is on the inside. 


Collar and lapels done. Onward to a couple of steps that I have never done before. Hand sewn patch pockets! I had doubts but I do like them. So sleeves, pockets and a few finishing details will be in the next post which I intend to do later this week. I like to blog projects as I go and this has been lingering a while. 


That is a very satisfying lapel :)  The herringbone stripes show off the collar angle nicely. So that's the mid-point on this jacket construction. I did make the shirt that is shown on the pattern but it is just way to 70's for me (the collar puts it out of the range of wearable for me) but I will post it you can see how it looks. The start of this jacket as well as a look at the Vogue pattern and the muslin are in my previous post here. 

Stay well and Happy Sewing,

Today's garden photo, not a lot blooming right now although the roses are all trimmed and sprouting their new leaves and stems. There were tomato plants for sale at the nursery this week. I have a new neighbor who has moved here from Michigan and she was saying that this California garden thing is quite confusing - I can imagine. Apparently they have plenty of snow on the ground in her former neighborhood while we are out walking in shorts and dealing with our drip irrigation in anticipation of the dry year to come. Here's a camellia that always puts out so many of these huge red blooms, filled with nectar for the bees and hummingbirds. 

red camelia

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Vintage Vogue YSL suit, an epic project, part 1

The title of this blog post sums up this project, it feels like it was epic and has taken me forever due to a variety of reasons. I had decided to use traditional tailoring techniques as specified in the Vogue pattern instructions, which call for use of hair canvas and pad stitching for the jacket shaping. I haven't used this technique in a long while, preferring to use fusible interfacings mixed with some hand sewing to achieve shaping in a quicker way.  So that was time consuming - but what else do I have these days of covid semi-confinement. Also I have no need for a new outfit, as I haven't even worn some of the standouts I made in the previous 8 months. So a slow sewing project seemed just the thing. However it did take me even longer than anticipated as I am teaching monthly classes for Hello Stitch Studio via Zoom and have found that teaching in the virtual world is far more time consuming than in person. I'm not complaining - it's just a fact that preparing for the online classes is so different than in person teaching. Although now that we are a few months into regularly doing the online classes I have figured out a lot, and have the camera mount gadgets to prove it :)  

In the next few months we are offering even more classes including Pattern Hacking (you know I love to get more mileage out of a single pattern!)  At the bottom of this post I will add more info and links to sign up if you are interested.

Back to the vintage Vogue suit which my photostream tells me I stared in early November. I am 99% sure I picked up this pattern at a Bay Area Sewists pattern swap sometime in 2019 - back when we could meet in person. It was irresistible since it was mostly uncut and in my size (12 in Vogue), although a little battered around the edges. 


I had forgotten about it but during a clean up session this summer came across it and decided to make it a winter project. First step was to make a muslin as I had some doubts about the round lapels but it looked great when I tried it on.  You can see that this is a piece of recycled muslin - note the dart markings at the front hem.  


Even though the sleeves were a bit long I decided not to alter them, I have arms that are on the short side and thus one day when I donate this jacket to someone else they will fit and not be too short.
The only fit adjustment that was necessary was to add more room in the hip. The style is slightly loose and straight in the body so it fit find from the waist up, but as usual I needed a bit of space there. This might not be the most correct way to adjust - actually what other way is there? I measured the amount added at the hem, divided that by half and added that amount to each piece (side panel and center back).
Note that I add this amount when cutting out and then fine tune the fit in the real jacket. I really prefer to add extra to the seam allowances and then fit as I sew.  It fits me fine despite looking a bit wonky on the dress form. All my dress forms seem to have quirks, leaning to one side or the other. 


Here's a look at some of the main pattern pieces,  that lovely jacket front with the roll line clearly marked for the lapel. Multi-size patterns certainly have their benefits but it is very satisfying to work with a single size pattern - the lines are so clear and bold plus there is no confusion with the excellent and plentiful pattern markings. The basis of my sewing knowledge was started back in my teen-age days when I used mostly Vogue patterns and the single size was still the norm - maybe a few years later they had started to put three sizes in a envelope which is also useful. I think the current parallel might be the capacity to print a PDF pattern in layers and then just choose a couple of sizes that you can grade in between.  While I'm not the biggest fan of PDF's the layers feature makes them a lot more user friendly. 

Wool jacket front and back pattern

Once I decided on this project it was time to rummage through my stash and see if I had any fabrics that would work. I was thinking about doing it in plaid and I had a subtle grey/blue plaid found at a recent sale of a costumer clearing out their studio. It turned out to be too small a piece so maybe it will be pair of Tajana trousers. It took me a while but I knew that lurking on some shelf was a wool herringbone and I finally found it, 2.5 yards so plenty for this jacket. While I don't really like grey it makes a great neutral jacket that can be worn with so many different shirts and blouses. 


And start as I always do, with pattern marking after cutting out the jacket. This bright yellow thread is perfect for tailor's tacks on so many different fabrics. One reason I was interested in this pattern was the use of hair canvas for jacket shaping, which I haven't done in a while. I had a nice big piece in my stash - another swap sale find. Here's a look at the instructions detailing the pad stitching. Which I followed somewhat but also used the info from several books to fine tune it a bit. My go-to books for sewing questions are the Singer Tailoring book and now I have recently acquired a copy of Classical Tailoring Techniques by Cabrera/Meyers which is also a great reference. 

Jacket instructions

For once I followed the order of construction instead of jumping around, so first is sewing the jacket front to the side front, then applying the hair canvas. 


Here are the pattern pieces for this jacket, including the hair canvas interfacing pieces for the jacket body and sleeve hem. 

Wool jacket pattern piece page

One item not included was an additional piece of interfacing for the chest, which serves to fill in a bit of the hollow at the collarbone/front shoulder and make the jacket lay smoothly there. So I added one and machine stitched it as per the books. 


The hair canvas continues around the armhole across the side panel. At this point both the books and the pattern instructions said to hand baste the canvas to the wool fabric with long running stitches. 


The roll line is marked on the pattern and I also marked it on the wool and the canvas. The pattern didn't call for taping the roll line but I decided to do it as I like a lapel to have a crisp or at least structured turn back. It will also keep the jacket shape in the front from stretching out. Fortunately I found some cotton twill tape in my stash - this pandemic sewing has been all about sewing from what I have and fortunately I must have stocked up on a few items for a rainy day. At this point I also marked the pad stitching lines with pencil. It's not necessary and I didn't follow them precisely but it helps me keep straight rows as I stitch. I used silk thread in a turquoise blue color so I could see it well on the canvas side and it's just about undetectable on the right side. 



And away we go with many, many minutes of hand stitching. Which was a good wintertime evening activity but I don't plan on rushing into another one of these projects soon. Perhaps that's why I can't get going with knitting - I'm just not good at sitting still for long stretches of time. 

That's where I will leave this project for now - I have many more steps to go so this will get a couple more posts, plus I've finished both the trousers and the silk shirt. Next time the weather is nice I will venture out for some finished garment photos. Today we finally have some rain here in N. California and it's a big relief although probably not enough to assuage our drought worries.  

Changing topics, here's the info on the upcoming online classes I am teaching via Hello Stitch. We are trying a few different time slots in the next months. Our monthly garment sewing series has been really fun with people signing up for multiple classes, which means we have developed some sewing camaraderie and the chance for weekly sewing chat with like-minded sewists during our Thursday evening happy hour sessions. We call them happy hour but it is a combo of that and just drop in time to ask any questions, get feedback from the group, trade ideas and talk about stuff that's not work, school or the other things that seem to be on repeat these days.   

February Garment Sewing Club   Tues/Thurs 7pm-8:30pm    Pattern Hacking  Change necklines, move darts, modify closures and get more mileage out of your existing patterns.  Starts Feb 9

February 21  10am-12:30    Sewing Pattern Basics for Sewing Success  this is the online version of a class I teach in the studio. If you have any friends who are just getting into sewing this is a good introduction which includes how to read a pattern, pick a size and a fabric, how to measure yourself and other things to get someone started with using sewing patterns. 

February 28   10am-12:30   Pattern Fitting: Adjust the Bust    I'll show you how to measure and adjust the bust on both darted and princess seam patterns.

March Garment Sewing Club Afternoon session 4pm-5:30pm   Classic Button Front Shirt
March Garment Sewing Club Evening session   7pm-8:30pm   Sew the Myosotis Dress

April Garment Sewing Club      7pm-8:30pm      Sew a Boiler Suit   (you know you want to :)

That all should get my sewing mojo back in motion, it has been sorely lacking lately. I think that previously I would sew something and start wearing it right away which is rewarding but now I have a lot of things I have made these last 10 months which are just hanging in the closet. But summer is coming (hurry up!) and I know many people who have had their first vaccine shot. Progress. 

Stay well and keep sewing - that is one of my mantras these days. Perhaps I will even see you online in a sewing class - that would be fun. 

Take care,

This was my last rose of the year and perhaps fittingly it was from my favorite rose bush in the garden which I have never been able to identify (it was here long before I bought the house). I think it's Mr. Lincoln or Chrysler Imperial but there's probably no way to tell. I do know it's time to do some rose maintenance so that is on my garden to-do list.