Tuesday, March 29, 2011

These pants are amazing, part 2

Today I finished the grey wool pants that go with a suit I made last year, and maybe it is the fabric that is amazing, as well as the pattern.  Sewing with Italian wools always proves that when it comes to wool and tailoring projects, the better quality the fabric, the better the result.
Rita, the owner of the suit, told me that when she went to Japan last year she had her suit in her carry on luggage, and on arrival, hung it up and it looked fine - practically unwrinkled. 

My number one rule for a good result on wool garments, whether jackets, coats, pants or any other tailored garment, is trimming.  Actually on any garment or fabric.  I am fanatical on the topic.  It makes me crazy to see the lumps and bumps in seams or pockets on some ready to wear clothing.   Have you ever examined a really finely made men's sport jacket - perhaps a cashmere one?  Everything is smooth, the lapel points are so even, nothing shows through the top layer, not a bump or lump to the touch.  

Grey pants Seam allow trim
Here is an example of trimming, in the side seam where the top of the waistband is sewn to the waistband facing.   Before trimming, when the waistband is folded over, at each seam allowance there are 8 layers of fabric.   
Grey pants seam before trimming

After trimming there are 6 layers of fabric, and then the seam allowance attaching the waistband facing to the waistband is trimmed, and graded, further reducing bulk.  

Grey pants seam after trimming

It might not seem like much to remove that fabric, but there are a lot of places on the garment where there is a juncture between two seams and you have those little corners that add bulk.  Particularly on neck facings, lapels, waistbands, darts.  If you think you will be opening the seam later - maybe to let out or re-sew- then don't trim as much.  

For some reason I love to do this trimming on all garments, it is kind of mindless, and I just go around the waist or whatever, snip, snip, and then have a nice collection of little 1/2' fabric squares on the sewing room floor.  Anything with a scissors is fun.  Pruning is one of my favorite gardening activities.  I frequently cut my own hair, much to the dismay of my wonderful hair stylist Lia.  So there is definitely a limit to my talent with a scissors.  

Above I mentioned looking at ready to wear clothes and being dismayed sometimes at the finish, as well as what is charged for that quality.  But at the other end of the spectrum, do you indulge in a little reconnaissance shopping in the high end stores?   My location of choice for surreptitious dress deconstruction is the local Nordstrom's where they have an extensive collection of designer clothes.  Fun and yet tantalizing to examine the details of an Armani jacket, or a Dolce and Gabbana dress.  I always have to supress a laugh when the sales person asks "can I help you?"  because I want to reply, "yes, please, can you hold this dress up while I measure it and also can you turn it inside out so I can see how they put in the lining".   Chances are they might not even care - that department is not exactly swarming with shoppers and I bet it is a little dull at times to work there.   
Grey pants front

Here is a look at the finished pants front.  

I did a bias trim edge finish on the waistband, similar to menswear.  I am really liking this finish on pants waistbands now.

As of now I don't have a photo of the pants being worn, hopefully I will later.  

For the four readers that were first to request one of my "semi-Vintage" Vogue designer patterns from my archive, I have heard back from everyone and will be mailing those tomorrow.  If you make them please let me know I and I can link to your photo.  It will be fun to see these finally sewn up.

SF Bay area Sewing blogger and/or readers meet-up to see Balenciaga and Spain:  Exhibit at the de Young museum is still on for Sat. Apr. 30, so contact me if you would like to join in.

dafodills tete-a-tete

The daffodils are almost done.
Temperatures in the 70's (F) here tomorrow - with plenty of sunshine.  So I will be skipping around the garden.  Ok, a slight exaggeration, but this SunnyGal is happy to get out and pull some weeds.    

Happy Sewing,  Beth  

P.S. I would love to hear about your
designer dress spy mission - what have you done to check out those fancy duds?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

One year of blogging and a pattern giveaway

Time for a little sewing retrospection and a giveaway in honor of my first year of blogging and my 100th follower.  It has been a great year of sewing and of reading so many fantastic blogs.  Quite a contrast with the start of my sewing obsession.  Then I could talk sewing with people in classes or force my coworkers to examine a particularly successful welt pocket  - whether they wanted to or  not.  But today we can all ask a question or float an idea and be assured of great feedback from so many sewers worldwide.  
Yesterday I went through some boxes of old patterns and came across something that became one of my all time favorite dresses.  Sometimes (I wish it was always) I achieve the perfect combination of fabric choice, color, style, fit, everything that makes a dress perfect, and makes me perfectly happy.   
Red DK dress front

V2470 DK pattern red dr                                                                                                              The pattern is Vogue 2470 Donna Karan, View A, coral wool crepe.  Such a simple style, but such a great pattern.  The V-neck in front and back was just right, double vertical darts gave the waist shaping, the welt pocket adding a little interest.   I wore this dress forever, to every possible occasion, I didn't care if people had already seen it many times before.  Change the jewelry, change the shoes, change the jacket, I am not the Little Black Dress type - but coral red, yes.  Kind of sad that now it is shoved in the back of the closet, but things do drop in the rotation.  Truth be told I can fit in it, i.e. zip it up, but its a teeny bit tight.  Kind of a motivator - or at least to remake the pattern. I always wanted try view B. 

Back in the 90's I was just starting in the corporate world, and I made all my clothes for work, mostly suits and dresses, with Vogue designer patterns. I had an impression at the time that the Vogue patterns were better than others, and looking through the stash that probably was correct. I had a Badgley Mischka jacket pattern that I recall making 3 times, as well as an Anne Klein blouse where I made every version. Interesting to see the designers come and go over the years. It looks like Donna Karan has had consistent success over the years, as this dress is a new favorite and there are some brand new patterns that also look good.  I also found a Michael Kors for Style patterns, what happened to the Style pattern company?  
Here are some patterns from my archive, all Vogue Designer patterns from the 90's and 2000.

Giveaway  --->;  If you are interested in any of these 4 patterns listed below, leave a comment as to which one you would like and I will send it off to you.  First comment per pattern will receive it. 
V2436 BadgleyMischka

Badgley Mischka Vogue 2436  

year 2000   Size 8-10-12
never used 
link to see back of pattern info

V1820 AnneKleinjacket

                                         Anne Klein Vogue 1820
                                        year 1996 size 6-8-10
                                        never used
                                        link to back of pattern info

V1409 Yellow dress

Vogue 1409 Tom and Linda Platt

year 1994    size 6-8-10
I did cut this one out, on size 8-10 lines
Made it but actually tossed out, which is sad
since it took a lot of yardage.  I am not the 
flowy dress type, but I always like them on 
other people. 
link to back of pattern info

V1721 DeLaRenta pattern
                  Vogue 1721 Oscar de la Renta
                 Jacket, skirt, dress, blouse, pants
                 certainly got your money's worth on 
                 this pattern.
                 year 1996  size 12-14-16
                never used
                link to back of pattern info

If no one wants these patterns - I understand, as they are not quite vintage  - I hope not !
But who knows, maybe there will be a big 90's fashion craze soon and you will be ahead of the pack.

Thank you to everyone who reads this blog, your comments are appreciated.  
Happy Sewing,   Beth


Thursday, March 24, 2011

These pants are amazing!

Pants are not my favorite think to sew, I almost never make them for myself.  However this week I am making some pants to go with a suit I made for Rita last year.

S2770 pants

Simplicity 2700  Amazing Fit pants
with pattern pieces for slim, average and curvy figure types.
As I said in the title, these pants - or at least the pattern -  are amazing.   They fit well as designed on a variety of figure types. This is the third time I have made some variation of this pattern.  

I am using the average fit - and then did some adjustments in the waist. 

For the fly front I used the Sandra Betzina fly front method - blogged about by many other sewers.

The pants are stitched together and waiting for a try-on so until then no photo of finished item. I take a lot of liberties with patterns and am not exactly an instruction reader.  Sometimes on pants you can see an outline of the pocket bag on the leg of the pant and I think that looks odd, to avoid that I make a few changes.

I cut out the pocket pieces in grey bemberg rayon lining fabric using the pattern pieces, and then put an overlay of the wool fabric on the edge, stitched that together and recut the piece, so that it is edged with the wool fabric but mostly lining.    Here it is already sewn to the pants front, turned and pressed, and understitched.

Grey wool pants 1

I make the same modification on the back of the pocket, use the lining on the lower half of the pocket and the wool fabric on the part that shows, extending that about 2 inches into the pocket.   Then using the dots on both pieces I marked with tailor's tacks ( you know how much I love them)  I match the pocket back to pants front and pin.  Then I sew the bottom seam of the pocket.    With the changes made sometimes the bottom of the two pocket pieces don't line up but that does not matter, the important thing is to get the top and side to match and lay flat.
Lastly I stitch across the top and side seam, to secure the whole thing and keep it flat.

Grey wool pants 2

Now I have a pocket that has disappeared.  No one needs any extra lines or bumps on the front of the thigh.   These pants will be fully lined so the pocket with be hidden inside the lining.

With this pattern, the back waistband is split in two pieces, very much like menswear pants and a great way have that place to adjust fit.  I have been doing this on a lot of waistbands but the pattern does it for you.  Not exactly "amazing"  but a good change in their design.
The resulting waistband pieces all look very similar, so I use chalk to scrawl letters on the various pieces, indicating front, back, center seam.   Scrawl being the operative word.  Not much different than my actual handwriting.   But it will disappear into the garment.  Go ahead, write on your wrong sides!  very liberating and immensely useful.  Does anyone else write on their fabric?

Grey wool pants 4

We are supposed to get up to 2" of rain today - so a perfect day to stay inside and FINISH
so many things that are on my sewing table.  

Pink Azalea 0311

Here is today's SunnyGal garden photo.   On a day without rain last week, I took this photo of one of the azaleas that has burst into bloom.  I want a new dress in this color !

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Balenciaga Exhibit in San Francisco - Can you join us?

I have sewing blogger meetup envy.  Yes, I confess.  Whenever I read a post written by someone whose blog I admire, meeting up with another great sewing blogger - I have a tinge of jealousy.   Most recently I read Carolyn’s post about her trip to Japan, which included a photo of herself, Yoshimi, and Novita.  That looked like so much fun, and what a great introduction to that part of Tokyo.   I recall that Eugenia was in NY last year, and she found some great fabrics as well as a lot of fun meeting up with fellow sewers.    Melissa of Fehrtrade in London has a link on her blog to detail what she calls the Walthamstow Shopping Frenzy, (organized by Karen of Did you Make That).  Any group shopping excursion that ends in a pub is one that I would like to join.  
The shopping . . . comparing patterns . . . talking fabrics.  I guess I need to spring some of my airline points and get on a plane somewhere.

Right now I have no plans to go anywhere interesting, but fortunately, something interesting is coming to San Francisco, so I have joined up (virtually)  with a fellow northern Californian, Jean of J.Kaori Designs to plan a visit to this exhibit:   

Balenciaga and Spain
at the De Young Museum in San Francisco


Balenciaga was a Spanish designer, heavily influenced by the history and art of his country.
 His creations are considered masterworks of haute couture of the 1950's and 1960's

So if anyone is planning to be in San Francisco this spring, we are going to this exhibit with a tentative date of Sat. April 30, but that is not absolute.  Even if you are not planning to be here in the Golden State then, maybe you should!   The De Young Museum is in Golden Gate Park, in the middle of San Francisco, right across from the Californa Academy of Sciences, (which has been completely redone and one of the best places to visit in SF, especially with kids.)

If you are interested in reading a bit more about the origins of this exhibit and the history of this Spanish designer, here is a link to an NY Times blog with some details.  Interestingly, it has been said that of all the great couturiers that he was the only one to personally fit every garment in the collection, sometimes as many as 200 items.   

The exhibit runs March 26 through July 4, so I may have to go twice.
Please comment if you would like to join us.  Or leave a comment if you have sewing meetup envy like I do !

Happy Sewing,  Beth

Monday, March 7, 2011

Call me Scarlett

Yes, that one, from the book, and then the movie.  Scarlett O'Hara, who pulled those green velvet drapes down from the wall.  Somehow she fashioned a gorgeous gown from those curtains because she needed to impress.  Not that it worked.  But maybe she was one of our original reuse-repurpose-recycle fashionistas.  

Brown dress front

A friend who redecorated recently gave me their old curtains, and I thought I could use them to try out a dress design I was working on.   The fabric is a faux silk-duppioni, I am sure polyester, but it had a lining which I incorporated as the dress underlining.
I almost wish I could find more of this fabric as it has a very nice sheen, and a really rich warm brown color, not to mention that it presses perfectly.  

Back to Scarlett - Do you remember the first time you saw that movie?   
When I was around 14 it played in a local theater, decades after its original theatrical release in1939.  What a great way to spend an afternoon, just me and mom and 4 hours (plus intermission) of tears, drama, the sweep of history as only Hollywood can tell it.  However my lasting memory is not so much the story or the characters, but the dresses!
The garden party dress, the black mourning dress, the red velvet and tulle dress.  Amazing costuming on all the characters and how great to see in technicolor on the big screen.
I remember being fascinated by hoop skirts, which also featured in movie versions of Little Women, another novel I read at that impressionable age.  At the risk of alienating some readers, do you think Twilight compares?  From what I have seen, the costumes certainly don't.  I love to watch old movies for the clothes, in particular the 30's and 40's where they did amazing things with bias cut fabrics.

I would love to hear what is your favorite movie based on the costumes, and why?
Most of those Katherine Hepburn movies have great dresses, of course Roman Holiday and Funny Face with Audrey Hepburn are fashion all the way.  I can't think of any newer ones but as soon as I post this I probably will come up with a bunch.

I cannot resist some embellishment, so here is a bias fabric rose which can be pinned on or not.  There are a lot of tutorials on how to make many different versions of fabric roses, I follow an article from Threads Magazine Apr/May 2009 issue.  (which does not seem to be available on their website, I checked)
Brown flower

This muslin turned out to be entirely wearable  :)    so I think it will go in my Etsy shop.

pink camellia

Here is today's SunnyGal Garden photo, 

the camellias are in full bloom right now.
Beautiful but messy when the flowers drop.
I have 6 different ones, all in shades of pink and red.  But not a white one, which was a favorite of Coco Chanel.   
Although I do have an empty space next in the back corner of the yard. . . . .