Thursday, September 27, 2012

Vogue 1143 Suit - nearing the finish line

Who thought this Vogue suit had disappeared in the black hole of space? That mysterious vortex of unfinished objects which exerts such a powerful pull on the pesky, the difficult, the not completed in the appropriate season.  You know what I mean. The waning days of winter, a scratchy wool skirt or a heavy jacket.  One evening you are happily stitching on your winter creation and it seems a little warm in the house. You open the window and hear some crickets, or maybe catch a scent of orange blossoms just outside. It is spring! or very nearly.  Suddenly that heavy jacket or long sleeve dress holds no appeal.  There is some nice linen calling your name. A shift dress in a bright cotton. Anything but the thing you are working on now but will never wear until fall returns.  So away it goes, maybe in a bin or  bundled up into a bag and shoved into the back of the closet.  Have you been there?

That is exactly what happened to this suit.  While it is not particularly heavy fabric, a lined, belted, long sleeve jacket just didn't do it for me once June arrived here. This jacket sat on one of my dress forms for months. In July the thermometer was hovering around 100º F and I finally folded it up and put all the pieces away in a bin.  Last week I saw a few falling leaves - so it was time to revisit this suit and get it DONE.  Here is a look at the 2 pieces, jacket is put together and just needs it lining and lapel facing. 

Vogue 1143 suit in progress
I have to say this project confounded me in so many ways but I see some light at the end of the tunnel and have plenty to post about when it is all finished.  I would never have chosen this for myself but last January I made the bold (idiotic) offer to make a Vogue designer pattern chosen by a reader of this blog.  Ruta chose this Vogue 1143 Guy Laroche pattern and while I am very glad she did it was a challenge.  Lots of weird quirks with this pattern plus the frightening idea of pants.   

V1143 pattern envelope
Just about finished and I hope to have finished outfit photos in the next few weeks.  I need some kind of top to wear with this so I will have to ponder that once the jacket is completed.

Unrelated to the post above, I saw this plant growing next to a wall when taking an early morning walk on vacation in Hawaii. Wonder what it is. Even the random roadside plants are lovely there.

Orange roadside flower

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Vacation wrap-up featuring Jalie 2805 T-shirt

Is summer really over?  The calendar says so but I think we can pretend for a few more weeks. Still sundress and shorts weather, at least in the daytime.  Recently I have been playing around with t-shirt variations and I made a couple of variations of the Jalie 2805 T-shirt.

Purple outfit edited
There was about 3/4 yard remaining after I made the t-shirt so I made a basic pull-on skirt and turned this one into a beach outfit. I am here on a slightly overcast and very windy day at Kailua beach, very famous for kiteboarding, so windy is good! 
I actually made 2 versions, the one on the right is my first version made using an oddball fabric from my stash that seemed useless - but was perfect for a practice t-shirt and has been worn a lot. The first version (white print) has the neckline as designed on the Jalie pattern but it seemed a bit high in the back to me, at least for a summer tee, so I changed the neckline on the second version based on a RTW t-shirt I have and it feels better to wear. 
    Jalie V-neck T-shirtJalie t-shirt white print

Here is the pattern envelope photo, and a look at the center front of the V.  The pattern purchase is worth it for the info on how to make this section of the garment, plus the fit of these Jalie knit tops is so good.  Yesterday I had a light-bulb moment and realized I could use my traced out Jalie pattern as the starting point to make a Pattern Magic top - so hopefully I will get to that soon.
Since I changed the neckline I ditched the neck band pattern piece and used the method detailed in this Threads video. It works fantastically and is so easy! For the V-neck it takes a little modification but worked just as well.

Jalie V-neck t-shirt close up

Jalie pattern photo

I see a knit t-shirt mania in my future. Yesterday I was in Nordstrom and thought "I could make that" "they want $ 90 for that?"  The curse of the sewing fanatic, a lot of RTW starts to seem ridiculous.

Now for a little vacation wrap-up and PR for the island of Oahu.  Many vacations plus over the years several family members have lived there so I have been lucky enough to spend a lot of time in the state. I have traveled to all the islands but my favorite is Oahu. Perhaps I am a bit defensive as most people who go to Oahu see only Waikiki beach which is beautiful in its way but a huge tourist destination with all that comes with that. The city of Honolulu is vibrant, interesting, crowded in parts, lush and quiet in parts, and has all the pluses and minuses of a large city, albeit one that is situated in one of the most beautiful places on earth. The island of Oahu has a huge variety of things to do, fantastic beaches all over the island, every kind of water sport you can think of, and the food is fantastic. (fun for a N. Calif. foodie like me!)

Here is picture I took during an early morning walk on Kailua Beach. Now I am convinced you can get a good photo with an Iphone. Same spot as the first photo in this post with a bit more sunshine. Windward Oahu, the east side of the island. Kailua and Lanakai beach are really all one long beach, and both have been #1 on the Dr. Beach list of best beaches (for beach maniacs like me this is important news!)
Kailua Beach sunrise

And a look in the other direction.  A beautiful beach in a quiet little town (and the place that President Obama vacations with his family when he is home in the islands).  Click here for look at the local support for our president.

Kailua beach early morning

Near the end of our vacation, we were on our way to one of our favorite restaurants (Town in Kaimuki) and I joked that we hadn't seen any of our favorite local celebs and that maybe we would see someone at this restaurant.  My family is/was obsessed with the TV show Lost - of course we were, it was entirely filmed on Oahu. I will never know why I started watching that show as I rarely watch continuing drama type shows but for some reason I saw the Lost pilot episode and stuck with it for the entire show. To this day I still think about it and the themes they convered. If you watched Lost then you will know what I am talking about.  Say it and they will come!  In the middle of dinner in walked Daniel Dae Kim, from Lost and now Hawaii 5-0.  He was seated at the table next to us but we maintained our cool.  More proof that Honolulu is a big city/small town.  (For you Lost fans, check out this link to my Flickr with some photos I took ages ago at a charity event.)  

In the background of my beach photos above you can see two small islands, the Mokulua Islands commonly referred to as "the Mokes".  You can reach them via kayak quite easily and I found this blog which has a fantastic photo essay on the Mokes as well as other locations on Oahu. If you are thinking about Oahu check it out and you will see there is more to the island than tourist shops and crowded beaches.  Warning - that blog is mesmerizing and I take no responsibility for loss of your time spent gazing at the incredibly beautiful images!   
Happy Sewing,  Beth
and I can't help myself, one more image I took a few years ago of this beautiful spot.  
kailua screensaver

Saturday, September 15, 2012

New vacation dress and a new pattern category

What do you call a pattern that is not really vintage but not exactly current either?  I have been pondering this question for a few months and have come up with a category for these patterns which I now title:

Recent Retro: a sewing pattern that is between 5 - 20 years old, dating from the 1990's or 2000's.  Not at all vintage, just something that is not really current but could have timeless appeal or adaptibility. Often found in the bargain bin, overlooked at the thrift shop or garage sale.  Perhaps stored away in your garage or back of the closet, a perfectly good pattern but the styling seems so yesterday.  Something you remember seeing in the pattern books not that long ago. Time flies but is there really anything new in fashion?  

What started this reverie?  I bought the following pattern on Etsy - I could not resist its simple and timeless appeal.  Plus I have such a devotion to the Michael Kors patterns.  Here is the pattern that started my Recent Retro kick, Vogue 2345, copyright date 2000. Twelve years old however to me it seems current, particularly in light of the continuing colorblock trend.

Vogue 2435 Kors pattern

Here is my version, a few suitcase wrinkles showing and maybe not the most fabulous fabric but I made this up on a whim just before leaving on vacation to Hawaii.  The pattern suggested lightweight wool crepe, jersey or double-knit and I had this blue double knit in my stash. Another of my thrift store finds, a 4 yard piece of very nice weight double-knit. For a couple of dollars I bought it thinking I could use it for making test versions of pants but you know I am crazy for the turquoise/black color combo so double knit dress it is.  ( I do have some test pants in the works).

I used a scrap of black ponte knit for the strap and some black knit lining, from cut-out to final hem it took about 3 hours. Instant pre-vacation gratification. This is one of those walk-away dresses,  with most of the interest in the back.

              IMG_0618     IMG_0538
A few construction notes:  I didn't do any topstitching and cut it out exactly as a size 12. These type of halter dresses need a close fit and the finished bust measurement on the pattern is actually 1" less than than the bust measurement for that size, but because of the way the back fits it works out just right. I am still not sure if this is the most flattering dress to wear, but I am a beach bum and love to show off the summer tan so this dress works for me.  On the dressform I see some of the same lines that are visible when it is worn, this was bothering me but further study of the pattern envelope shows the same lines so perhaps it is the nature of the design. I tend to go crazy to get things to be perfectly smooth which is not possible and when clothing is shown in magazine photos they probably have all kinds of crazy pin and tape arrangements going on out of sight.

IMG_0541IMG_0540Vogue 2345 back view on form

Recent Retro: what do you think of this new category?  Do you have any patterns that are not quite vintage but still worthwhile?  I have a few more from the 90's and early 2000's that deserve a second look, and perhaps a blog post on how to update them.  (The pesky problem of gigantic shoulderpads!)

As for this pattern, it will make an appearance again next summer, most likely in a print. After all, a 3 hour dress with no fitting required - a winner to me.

Happy late summer sewing, Beth

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Simplicity 1916 - Knit top

Thank you for all the nice comments on my dress refashion in the previous post. I am so happy to change that one-hit wonder into a wearable dress.  Believe me when I say that the finale to this series will not be so wearable!
I do love those cotton sateens, however I am going nuts for knits this summer. Can I tell you how crazy I am for this pattern which is Simplicity 1916. Perfect for vacation wear and maybe this is the right top for my Vogue 1247 skirt.  I have another one planned with short sleeves. 
Fabric is from Joann fabrics, I had enough to make a Jalie scarf-collar top this winter for a friend and then thought it would work for this pattern. I first saw this top on Myra's blog, it looked really great on her so I was intrigued. She made it a couple of times and in her second post included some very helpful tips on adjustments of the front.
Side and back view.
        Simplicity 1916 Knit top side viewSimplicity 1916 knit top back
Shockingly good pattern matching if I do say so myself, which I kinda tried to do but figured it was not really important.  How come I can't get these results on expensive wool plaid with equally minimal efforts?  Perhaps there is an equation out there which expresses the variables:
Cost of fabric x importance of project = stress factor of person holding the scissors. . .  math problem for another day. In any case, this top is no stress at all, although I did make a few changes.

Simplicity 1916 knit top close up front
For the neckline binding the pattern has you stitch it together at the center back and then apply the binding but I found the upper back was way too big on my first version. For this version I stitched the entire top together at the side seams and then stitched the center back seam last which allowed for some tightening of that upper back area. Instructions call for applying the binding and then turning under and stitching so it is concealed. I skipped that second fold, stitched very closely to the seam to hold it in place which served to make it an edge trim plus it raised the neckline about half an inch.

I did make a third version for my friend Alice, in a brown rayon jersey knit she purchased from the bargain bin at Happy Stop Fabrics in Oakland. After a few months she came over with a bundle of these knits saying she decided they were not going to be sewn into anything soon. So I was rather pleased with myself to make her a top for her birthday with fabric she provided!   Note that she is tall and I added about 3 inches to the length.

Simplicity 1916 version for Alice, brown jersey knit
I could not resist this taking this shot of plumeria on a walk this morning, what a color combo. Happy sewing, Beth.

Monday, September 3, 2012

One Hit Wonder # 3, Refashioned and wearable

Time to revisit my sometime series of One-Hit Wonders, which are dresses I worked hard to make for a special occasion, wore one time and then put in the closet, never to be worn again.  In this instance I knew I loved this fabric too much for it to be shut away. Consequently I did some refashioning and now am more than happy with the result.

Pink green dress

A double treat to wear my "new" dress, for my birthday dinner, on vacation.  I originally made this dress in July of 2010, to wear to a wedding. (that seems to be a pattern for my one-hit wonders,  see the previous ones here and here.)  I think I have mentioned that when Karen was in California sewing with me she was wowed by my collection of super-bright floral dresses. Being a fan of the colorful and floral, she urged me to revisit them and this one had the most possibilities for refashioning.  Actually the refashioning is pretty subtle, but makes it so much more wearable, or at least suitcase packable!

The original dress has the same bodice, but I took off the skirt and cut it down considerably. The skirt on the first version was 120 inches in circumference, with 1 inch pleats at the waist. Very heavy in this cotton sateen. At the time I was going for a retro early 60's technicolor movie style, and it was OK, but a bit too much in retrospect. Removing the skirt I changed it to a much narrower straight skirt, slightly gathered at the waist. It may be difficult to see, but I left the center front of the skirt flat, and then started the gathers near bodice princess seam. I like this look on a dress which makes a gathered skirt look a bit sleeker. I cut the pockets off the first version and restitched them into the new side seams on this, total recycling for this project :)

Pinkgreen front view original pink green dress on form

Lastly, this dress seemed to need a belt so I used one of my belt kits (purchased from A Fashionable Stitch, so glad she has these as I used to find them all the time locally but now they are very scarce). On the left is the fabric covered buckle, half finished so you can see how it looks once you get the fabric stuck on. These are really easy to make, if you have never tried one give it a go. I suggest a very thin fabric (cotton or something similar) for a first try.  On the right is my Singer buttonhole maker which I use to make the eyelets. The smallest template makes a 1/4 inch buttonhole. OK, it is not circular, but it is fine with me and very sturdy.

pink belt bucklepink green belt buttonhole

Not having made one in ages, I made a slight boo-boo on the the little tongue-y thing which is sticking out a smidge too long, but after a few minutes with the pliers and not wanting to snap it off I decided it was just fine.  When I make belts I put the little loop on the buckle side of the belt, stitched in place as the end of the belt always wants to stick out and this makes it look more finished.

pink green dress belt

To see how full the skirt is on the first versionand all my other one-hit wonders see this set.  I used New Look 6457 for the bodice, and here is a previous blog post featuring this same pattern. 

No actual sewing for me for a while, but I was busy in July and August so I have a few blog posts coming up on completed projects, including a few knits (starting to see the possibilities - and instant gratification sewing with knits provides).

The grand finale to my one-hit wonders is coming up soon and you don't want to miss that. Floral, tulle, piping, shoulder pads. . . and you are asking why I don't wear it more often? ha ha. Wait and see!

Summer is not really over but it kind of seems like it on this weekend.  Time for thinking about winter projects?   Say it isn't so, at least not here in the 50th state :) 

Happy Labor day and/or unofficial end of summer sewing to all,  Beth