Saturday, January 28, 2012

Winter Wool jacket progress

Yesterday the temperature in my part of the world was around 72ºF with plenty of sunshine and people walking around in shorts.  OK, I can probably see someone in shorts here 365 days of the year, even when it is in the 40's. But it is January, which should be the season for hibernating, wearing my cozy winter sweaters, and looking longingly at gardening catalogs.  But not this year, the January without winter.  So either we will have a excessively rainy spring or jump straight into hot summer with too little water in the reservoirs.  Which is a long way of saying that I am trying to speedily sew my winter wool jacket so I can actually wear it this season. This is a Vogue Anne Klein pattern V2853 from 2005 which is a great pattern and goes well with some tailoring techniques.

This weekend I hope to sew together all the components.  I like to make jackets in units, a system which I am sure I have seen in some sewing books.  
grey jacket collar stitched on
I tend to sew a jacket using my own mental checklist, no matter what the instructions say. Here is my order of tasks for making a lined jacket.  First step, of course is cutting out the fabric.  
  • Mark tailor's tacks on all pieces, chalk mark wrong side of fabrics
  • Apply interfacings
  • Jacket fronts - finish welt pockets, bound buttonholes if needed
  • Jacket back, sew seams and apply upper back shoulder stay
  • Shoulder seams, sew fronts to back
  • Attach under-collar, trim and tack down seam allowances
  • Sew and press sleeves, set aside, sometimes stay tape on this seam
  • Cut out lining - using pattern pieces now removed from fabric
  • Attach upper collar to upper lapel, trim and catch-stitch down seam allowances
  • Sew collar and lapels together, press and turn
  • sew side seams
  • attach sleeves, with sleeve head and shoulder pads if required
  • sew lining pieces together
  • sew in lining, by machine or by hand
  • jacket hem, lining hem
  • tack lining down at shoulder seams
  • machine buttonholes and buttons
  • hem sleeves and sleeve lining
  • final pressing!
Did I miss anything?  whew, it does seem like a lot of steps, but a lined tailored jacket has a lot of components, inside and out. The reason I do the jacket in this order is mostly to be able to work "in the flat", possibly one of my made-up technical terms? But I like to be able to sew the collar/lapel and then do that pressing without the side seams sewn up, which restricts the way I can move the jacket over my ironing board and tailor's ham. Just so much easier.  If you are interested in tailoring or just want to make a jacket using a great method, I recommend Sherry's Ready-To-Wear Tailoring Sew Along, on her fantastic blog, Pattern-Scissors-Cloth.  She is a great instructor, and I really appreciate her analysis of fitting and the fixes to apply. 
Here the jacket back with undercollar, so you can see the way I have tacked down that seam using a catch-stitch, which is a hand stitch that uses an X pattern to keep the seam allowances flat.  I used turquoise silk thread, so you can see it better plus it is fun to sew with a bright color that will later be hidden. You can also see the back stay which is cotton and I cut out on the fold using that back pattern piece. I find the back stay makes the upper back nice and smooth, so if there are any shoulder pads they disappear under the fabrics.  This pattern calls for shoulder pads, and I think they work well in a tailored jacket, to help it hang on the body better and support the jacket weight. Also the sleeves look very good on a well-designed jacket pattern with shoulder pads.
Grey jacket cross-stitch inner collar
The woven interfacing is cut on the bias on the undercollar, same as the fabric, however I did add a crossgrain piece which you may be able to see in the photo, at the lower part of the collar.  If I had used hand-stitched hair canvas for the interfacing that is where the extra shaping would be, to give the collar a roll line and structure.  Time now for a brief rant on patterns, which never include the roll line on collars. If you look at this post from last year on my black wool coat, I had a little rant on this topic and showed the roll line I created. 
Even though I love this grey fabric I need some pop of color somewhere, so I put a line of bright blue piping inside. I cut a bias strip 1.75" wide, folded in half, stitched at 5/8" and then have a nice line of blue on the black lining. On the upper lapel and collar I used Pro-Sheer Elegance fusible knit interfacing, see photo on the right.

piping for grey jacket

grey jacket upper lapel inside

So what's next?  According to my list above I am about in the middle:  Sew upper-collar/lapel to jacket, then press and turn.  And onward!

This morning I took a quick trip to Britex Fabrics in downtown San Francisco as I am making a dress for a "creative black tie" event for someone and we were in search of some interesting fabric.  Driving in over the bridge the city was spectacular and I wanted to get a photo of it all but for once there was no traffic and we were zipping in too fast for a nice photo of the Golden Gate Bridge with hundreds of sailboats and a cruise ship docked at the pier.  So instead, despite the "no photography" signs posted in the store here I am among the lovely rainbow of fabrics that is Britex. Wearing my blue/black houndstooth jacket, same pattern as the one in grey I am making now. 
Britex photo

No purchases for myself there, a triumph. I averted my eyes and thought about all that fabric at home!  

Happy Weekend Sewing, Beth

Monday, January 23, 2012

Interviewing the Interfacing

It was a great weekend for sewing, lots of cold and rainy weather plus a nice collection of unwatched stuff on my Tivo equals some quality sewing time. While I have many, many projects on my to do list, I did spend more of that time than I should have on my winter wool jacket. Now that winter has arrived here (sort of) I want to wear it soon.

In the second part of my previous post I showed the pattern and fabric selected for this jacket.  Doing a tailored wool garment is one of my favorite projects, so throw in a little plaid matching and I am in sewing nirvana. I cut it out about a week ago, rather slowly for me, taking about an hour which is a lot for a pattern that is already fitted. This fabric has an even plaid but it is very faint and so it took some deep staring at the fabric to get it all matched. 

Picking up this project on Saturday, the first thing I did was interview my interfacing.
Sounds a bit silly but this is one small task that has a big payoff.

Grey jacket front pattern pieces
Pinned to the wall is the interfaced jacket front piece, paper pattern piece, and right side of the jacket front showing all my lovely tailor's tacks.  (I have written before about my obsession with thread tailor's tacks).  The jacket front is completely interfaced with Pro-Weft Fusible from Fashion Sewing  I am now a total convert to using these interfacings, they really are fantastic and one of the best things about them is that they FUSE properly with very little effort, as opposed to other fusibles that need to be practically cooked on to get them to fuse and even then leave some bubbles or peel off. 

Grey jacket interfacing samplesBefore I get to this point, with all that fun fusing, I test various types of interfacing on my fabric.  In this case for the under-collar and under-lapel I tested the Pro-Weft and the Pro-Tailor Deluxe. You can see my test sample here, the photo is lightened a bit so the samples are visible.  After I fuse the samples, then I stitch a fold in the fabric to simulate how it will feel under the two layers of fabric, as well as how the edge feels.  I haven't used the Pro-Tailor Deluxe much and thought this was just the project for it, but as it turned out it gives a slightly stiff feel, and the Pro-Weft felt better. This fabric is a very soft Italian wool and just didn't need the crisp interfacing but I think the Pro-Tailor will be perfect next time I make a coat.   I keep the labeled samples stapled to the instruction page for easy reference. 

Grey jacket interfacing stitch sampleThis may seem like a lot of fuss but it takes just a few minutes plus some fabric fondling to see how it will feel when all sewn up. The fold and stitch is important as sometimes the fabric plus interfacing feels just right but then when seamed gets too springy or stiff.  OK, don't laugh, but I do this test with closed eyes so I can see which one really feels the best - sometimes I am surprised by the winner.  
I completed the jacket fronts, with their darts and welt pocket. The pocket flap is also interfaced with the Pro-Weft. It is NOT pressed so it looks a bit wonky but I am satisfied.  The plaid matching so far is coming out nicely, but perhaps sharp-eyed readers will notice that there is no way the seam on the right could match both above and below the pocket (see pattern piece above, dart and small cut-out wedge which creates pocket welt) so I chose to match the sleeve and jacket back with the jacket upper front and the rest of the seams below the pocket, going around to the jacket back and so far it is working out fine. Note if you are trying out your first plaid matching project - choose a pattern with continuous and even up and down seams, not one like this!  A skirt is a great place to start, and for a jacket Simplicity 3628 has good seaming and nice collar options.

Grey jacket pocket unpressed
Today is Monday and I think this project will have to be put aside for a few days but I hope to finish it by next week as well as catch up on my blog reading.

Reaching back to last August, here is today's SunnyGal Garden photo.  I was looking through some of my camera roll and don't think I ever posted this one.  When I was barely upright last August due to my back problems, I took a slow early morning walk around the garden and saw this dragonfly on the rose. I carefully returned to the house, retrieved my camera and approached the rose bush again, and he was still there.  The result is one of my favorite garden photos ever.  I just planted 4 new bare root roses so who knows what will be seen this spring.  Is it here yet?
Happy Sewing, Beth

Red Rose and Dragonfly

Friday, January 6, 2012

Vaguely Vogue - still deciding on my first project for 2012

Yes, still deciding, but certainly not inactive.  I am always making something, however for my first big project of the year I haven't settled on anything yet.  Perhaps due to the run of strangely warm and dry winter we are having I have little desire to make a wool jacket or coat. This extended sunshine makes it seem like summer-dress weather.  OK, you know I love the sunshine and just tolerate winter, but I do like to break out the wool coats once in a while, plus the garden is not happy without a bit of winter rain.  

As for sewing, a little update on recent non-blogged about projects.  I made a pair of wool flannel slacks for my mom. I did a slight alteration on a black wool RTW pair that she had, so I made a pattern from those and then made a pain in charcoal grey flannel.  They are about 3/4 finished, need another fitting and then lining, etc.  I copied exactly her existing pants but the new ones were about 2" big all around, how did that happen?  Pants are so squiggly - you can't really lay them flat and copy as easily as a dress or blouse.  Plus I kind of rushed and used tissue paper, I have had much better success copying onto muslin which you can pin on and mark with pencil.  But once they are done I will have a nice pattern for future use. I did some closet cleaning, and was just about to get rid of a pair of my old pants, when I realized I could cut them apart and make a pants pattern for myself.  Eureka!  I like making pants, they are really quick, but I DISLIKE fitting pants, yuck, that is the worst.  So this may be just the trick, and be helpful for plans outlined below.
Which brings me to my new projects for 2012.  In my December giveaway post I asked for your nominations of a Vogue pattern for me to make in 2012.  There were some great suggestions, really fun to see what you suggested. Although perhaps a bit more glamorous than my usual lifestyle requires. I narrowed it down to 4 choices.

Lisa's choice Vogue 1230             Sham's choice Vogue 1223        Angie's choice Vogue 8754
Badgley Mischka dress                Anne Klein dress                       coat reminiscent of 
                                                                                               Jill Sander's designs

I like the neckline of the Badgley Mischka dress, but gosh another dress, maybe if I get an invite this spring to a formal occasion.   The Anne Klein dress, really pretty and I just got some fabric at a thrift store which will be perfect, so I will put that idea aside for late spring.  The coat on the right - love it - but I have soooo many coats, and this week I am wearing short sleeve t-shirts.  

My choice, suggested by Ruta, is Vogue 1143. I love the jacket, so chic.  I think Vogue frequently does a terrible job on their fabric choice for their photo shoots, almost impossible to see the details and this one is no exception.  The jacket has two layers on the bottom and an interesting shape.  So fabric choice is still holding me up.  Plus it requires knit or woven with stretch . . . interesting.  I did get some grey but I am not sure about it.

Not sure about it because I bought this charcoal grey and blue plaid fabric pictured below in the fall at Stone Mountain Fabrics in Berkeley.  I went on a shopping trip with my sewing pal Jean and had intentions of making a jacket plus maybe pants or a skirt. I am not a stash builder - not when I spend $$ on nice wool, so I would like to get it made up.  I was looking at new patterns and then remembered this pattern which I made about 5 years ago - fits perfectly and will work for matching plaids.

V2853AK suitGrey blue wool plaid

Here is the jacket, which I do wear all the time. It is an odd combo of black and dark blue houndstooth, which seemed like a good idea but it doesn't look quite right with solid black or solid navy blue pants.  However I did make a skirt and pants so I have the whole suit.  It works really with with dark blue jeans, so I often throw it on when I want to look slightly snappier than jeans and a sweater.  The color in the photo on the left is more accurate, on the left shows the front dart into the welt pocket detail.

Blueblack wool jacket V2853Blueblack wool jacket closeup
So that is my plan - to quickly whip up this wool jacket and get that fabric out of the stack and a new jacket into my rotation before wool weather is gone (if it ever arrives).  

Happy Weekend sewing, Beth