Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Vogue 1143 Jacket, Construction Notes part 2

Thanks for all the encouraging comments on my previous post. I can say this jacket is technically a bit difficult and a little out of the ordinary. I have pushed through the slightly annoying design quirks and come up with a finished outfit that is very satisfying.  When I concluded the previous post, I had set aside the partially constructed jacket in March and just pulled it out of the closet a few weeks ago.  
The next step was to attach the sleeves and that is where the quirks (problems) really appeared. The sleeve is composed of 2 pieces, the jacket continues at the shoulder creating the upper portion, and then a lower portion is sewn on, with a pleat effect at the upper arm. It looked good on paper, but in real life was a droopy mess.  Following the pattern instruction I tacked it at the seamlines but that did not do enough to keep the shape called for in the technical drawing (or the pattern photo for that matter). 
Vogue 1143 jacket sleeve problem
I tried hand stitching it under the folded edge but it there still was pulling and it didn't look right at all. The answer to so many of my sewing dilemmas:  Stitch Witchery
Stitch witchery
Do you use this? I find it invaluable, particularly in tailoring, often where I might hand stitch I find that a little strip of Stitch Witchery is a good problem solver. Note: I rarely use it directly on the fabric where there is no interfacing because it may show on the other side, but for example on lapel facings where two fabrics which are interfaced meet, that is where I might use it to save time and hand sewing (much as I enjoy that). 
I turned the jacket inside out and put a small strip of the stitch witchery inside that fold. That made the fold stay creased and flat so it didn't droop as in the first photo above. Then I hand stitched around the entire circumference of the sleeve, just about 1/4" in from the fold to attach the upper sleeve to the lower portion. In this photo below I am holding the sleeve up so you can just see some of those stitches. So actually a combination of stitch witchery and hand sewing, but as long as it saved the look of the jacket I am happy.


And viola, an acceptable sleeve, although much less "3-dimensional' than it looks on the pattern photo where they use Trickery? Photoshop? Hot glue? Who knows what they do to get the photo illustrations for the patterns...but I have my suspicions.

Vogue 1143 jacket sleeve solution

Next up is my method of sleeve and lining hemming, I was going to continue now but I have to run, so I will post that tomorrow.  
And if anyone is still thinking they might want to try this pattern (even though there are so many others calling to us) here is a look at the lining, same pesky pattern pieces with the underarm gusset and corners to reinforce.  
grey suit lining gusset piecesLining sewing gusset

Happy almost Halloween sewing, Beth

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Vogue 1143 Jacket, Construction Notes part 1

This project, Vogue 1143 has veered perilously near to becoming a UFO - unfinished object.  I started this project back in Jan. 2012 when I rashly offered to sew a Vogue designer pattern chosen by a reader of my blog.  There were times when I thought "be careful what you wish for...or ask for" since the pattern has some real quirks that were quite confounding.  I am glad I persevered and now have it finished.  Even the matching pants, although I used a different pattern for those.  Photos have been taken and I didn't like the length of the pants so I am rehemming, (my pal Alice said it looked like I have no feet - so retake soon.)

A look at the pattern envelope and the technical drawing which commenter Becki-c wanted to see.

 V1143 pattern envelopeVogue 1143 technical drawing
It is a pattern with a LOT of pieces and definitely some work to alter for fit if the jacket pattern is not a good match for your measurements.  I made my typical Vogue size 12 which was good in the waist and hip, if anything I think I could have gone down a size and felt a bit better in the finished jacket across the shoulders and the waist. 

If I could sum this jacket up in one word I would say "Fussy".  By that I mean very fiddly sewing, lots of angles, an underarm gusset, and double layer sleeves that I had to do some maneuvers to get to a wearable version.  Fussy for the wearing also, because it is a jacket that looks best when worn closed, with a belt, so not an easy breezy casual jacket by any means and the lapel turnback is a bit vague as well.

This pattern has a Vogue rating of Advanced-Plus Difficile and I agree.  Two things to note, I didn't make a muslin, I figured if I was going to sew all those darn pieces I only wanted to do it once ☺ and secondly I actually followed the pattern instructions to the letter, mostly because they were the only reasonable way to construct this jacket due to the attached peplum.

Here is a look at the jacket once assembled, minus the sleeve lower portion. The fabric I used was a "denim-look" stretch woven, 73% poly, 25% rayon, 2% spandex, purchased at the big chain store with a half-off coupon so cost of materials about $ 25.  A lucky random choice as it had just the right weight and stretch, and pressed very well.


Here is the start of the "advanced" construction, the underarm sleeve gusset insertion. Any pattern with a gusset and/or one that says "slash"  always gives me pause. Left photo is the sewn on bias square which serves to reinforce the gusset inside corner and create seam allowance where it gets too narrow at the corner to sew.

                  Grey Vogue Jacket bias square1Grey vogue suit bias square2

A look at the underarm with gusset inserted. I put the pattern piece below on the side seam so you can see how that shape fits into the area.  At the two upper corners of the sewn-in gusset you can see the bias squares which are reinforcing the corners.  This is a detail (underarm gusset) you see on a few designer pattern and also on some vintage patterns/garments. It is one way to keep the armhole quite close to the body but allow for some range of motion. I saw this feature on Michael Kors dress I made a while ago,  posted here and here and in that  dress I got away with skipping the reinforcing square since the gusset attachment was a bit different, but on the whole a good technique to know.


When it is all stitched up it looks like this on the inside:


And this sewing took me to March 2012 when it went on this dress form and stayed there in that state for about 2 months, with everyone coming by asking what that "interesting-looking" thing was.  At that point I became very busy with other projects, the warm weather arrived and this moved from the dress form to a plastic bin with all the many pattern pieces. 

Grey Vogue suit jacket started

Next up, the pesky sleeve problems. But no fear, this story does have an end. In fact I have made a couple of  knit tops in the last few weeks, including something from Pattern Magic, finally.  

Here is today's SunnyGal garden photo, these morning glories are trailing over the fence and mingling with the pink jasmine vine. They are from my neighbor's yard and are very late this year. Talk about tough, look how the one vine has twined around the other.  

Morning glory

Happy sewing and I wish everyone lots of finished objects, Beth

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

One hit wonder - the grand finale

Here you go, the dress that got me started on this series of "One Hit Wonders".  Back in May during a break from teaching, I showed my sewing student Karen a few of my previous makes. These are dresses that I labored over but only had limited wearings - sometimes just once.  This is the one that she was wowed by, and I have always loved this dress, in all its 90's glory. 
Navy party dress on me
I made this dress to wear to a wedding, of course,  Seems quite a theme with my fancy clothes.  This was one of the first garments I made in response to seeing a dress in a store and thinking "I could make that".  It was a dress from I.Magnin, a store I miss to this day. Described as a "San Francisco, CA based hi-fashion and luxury goods department store with roots going back to 1876" it was sad when it disappeared but I have many memories of shopping there with my mom and sister.  The dress I saw there was solid navy blue but otherwise exactly the same as what I eventually made.  I think the price tag was about $ 200 which was an enormous sum to me at the time, just starting my career and not having a lot of money to fling at a party dress. 
This was in the pre-cell phone camera era so I went back to the store twice to try it on and the second time I took my measuring tape to note some details, such as the width of the binding and the specifics on this surprising detail:
Navy party dress back full view
The bow !   and the cutout.  Looking at it now I am kind of amazed that I pulled this off, and got it to fit so well.  I can't remember at all how I did it.  We are talking 1990 so 22 years ago, eek.  I takes up a bit of space so why it is still hanging in my closet I cannot explain, except that I love it and have such good memories of wearing it.  Confession time - I wore it twice. So not exactly a one-hit wonder but the amount time it took to make it versus the wearings puts it into the category.
How about some details? The upper half is a basic bodice, with a drop waist. I think I took a plain sheath dress pattern and used that to make the bodice, fitting it very snugly so that the cutout in the back would stay flat.  The fabric is cotton sateen, and the binding is packaged double fold seam binding. I think I bought the fabric at Britex. I lined the entire bodice in navy blue cotton and then finished all the edges using the white binding, stitching it on the right side and then turning it and hand stitching on the inside, which took a lot of time.  I was so proud of myself as I mitered the inside corners on that back cutout, after a bit of practice on scraps. The neckline fastens at the top back with a hook and some added snaps for security.  I made sleeve heads of net to maintain the proper poof in the sleeves.  

       Navy party dress front close upBack opening

Under the bow is a center back zipper so the dress is quite easy to wear.  The bow is stitched to the dress on one side and then has snaps on the other side.  It is not a tied bow so if you turn it over you can see it is the loops and tails all stitched in place firmly to stay perfect.

Bow close up
Oh yeah, that waist is tiny!   Not exactly my size today.  I couldn't quite zip it for the first photo but all in all I am pretty happy I can still get into it (mostly).

More fluff underneath.  The skirt lining is bright fuschia and then on top of the lining I attached some hot pink tulle, but that wasn't quite enough so I added the lighter pink netting which has a bit more oomph and give that full skirt look I was going for.  For the last detail I used horsehair braid in the skirt hem, first sewing that in by machine since the stitching would be covered by the white binding.  I think that gave the skirt the proper shape and showed off the fabric. 

Navy party dress hem and tulle
I wish I could find a photo of me wearing this at the time but so far no luck.  This is the one-hit wonder that will stay in my collection, too many good memories to ever part with it.  Although I would like a cute summer skirt in that fabric.  But don't fear, I won't be repurposing this anytime.  
Navy party dress side view

Here are links to my other One-Hit-Wonder posts, first: a wearable winner, second; an epic fail, and third: reworked and just right.  I sound like Goldilocks don't I?

My Vogue 1143 suit is finished, hurrah.  Photos and blog posts soon, many thoughts on that pattern so that will be up next. 

Here is my SunnyGal Garden photo, my dahlias were very late this year and so I have blooms now, this year I think I will take the plunge and order some of the very showy ones online.  I really like these bi-color ones. Now I just have to find a space for them in the spring.
Happy Sewing, Beth


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Clinging to summer with McCalls 5882

Even though the calendar says October it felt like summer this week since we had the typical late September heatwave in my part of California.  More 100º temps which cause me to reach for a this batik print dress.  Not the most exciting number but so easy to wear. More blue which is certainly a trend for me this year, in any hue. 

Blue batik dress
The weather reminds me of back-to-school time in elementary school. I always wanted to wear my new school clothes which tended to be more of the winter variety. Since we didn't have air-conditioned classrooms (nor at home for that matter) a fashion conscious little me had to choose between waiting or sweltering in my new outfits. In particular I recall that my mom bought me a leather jumper at a boutique in Carmel, not exactly hot weather wear.  Wow that sounds slightly crazy in retrospect, but as I remember it was really cute, caramel color with buttons at the shoulder and worn with a little turtleneck.  I tell ya, my mama was a fashion-enabler from way back. Gotta love her for that (as well as a zillion other things, of course).
I used McCalls 5882 and it had a problem that I find on many patterns from McCalls, Butterick and especially Simplicity, which is that the neckline is far too wide, especially in the front. 
McCalls 5882 pattern envelope
Consequently I had to make it work by putting two pleats in the front neckline. I had worn it for a few weeks as designed and it annoyed me so much that I thought I will either get rid of this dress (even though I really like the fabric bought in Hawaii) or make a somewhat unorthodox alteration. 
Batik dress front close up
So you can see I just pleated the neckline which was already enclosed in the bodice lining, and topstitched down.  Success!  Kind of looks intentional.  Even better!

Since this time I have utilized a different method to choose which pattern size to make. I first saw this on a PBS TV show by Nancy Zieman and it really works if you are having trouble with the upper part of garments not fitting correctly. She calls it the "Right Size Measurement".  You choose the pattern size based on the width of your upper chest and notes that many people will find they should start with a smaller size than had been their habit.  The slight drawback might be that there are more alterations to do from the bustline down, however if the neck, shoulders and armholes fit well then the garment will look really great.  I highly recommend reading her blog post which I linked to above, as choosing a pattern size is always critical so having another insight is helpful.  I usually start with a size 12 in big 4 patterns but following her system I could start with an 8.  Quite a difference and maybe the neckline on this dress would have been better to start with.
McCalls 5882 dress frontMC5882 dress back

sneak peek finale one-hit wonderMoving along with my Vogue 1143 suit, so I will have photos and lots of info before October is over.  Thank you for all the great comments and interest in that one.

Here is a tiny peek at my One-Hit-Wonder Grand Finale dress, the colorful image to the right   ➙

This one you don't want to miss...if you enjoy a good laugh at the excesses of recent decades :)  Let's just say this if this number was on Project Runway someone might call it "overworked".  But at the time it was a hit!

Today's SunnyGal garden photo, a calibrachoa that has decided to take off in a big way lately, and looking very good for it.  Here's hoping it makes it through the winter - sometimes they do.
Calibrachoa pink summer 2012