Saturday, November 24, 2012

Style Arc Audrey Jacket,

Thank you for all the great comments on my coat refashion project. That blue boucle coat keeps on giving, as I used the remaining fabric for a portion of this new jacket. It is the Audrey jacket, from Australian pattern company Style Arc.

StyleArc jacket front view
When I cut up my coat to make a skirt there was not quite enough to do the whole jacket so I rummaged in my fabric stash and found this wool plaid which was a complementary weight and color palette.  Here is the technical drawing and my little sketch of color ideas. I often do this when I am going to make something that has mixed fabrics, or deciding which way to have a plaid go. Despite my less than artistic efforts it is really helpful and fun to play around with my colored pencils. 
Style Arc jacket sketch 2
You can see that I originally thought about doing 2 solid colors but it seemed like more of a mish-mash than the plaid. Threads magazine had an article in the last issue about mixed materials and showed a few plaids so that was the inspiration. 
On the pattern the collar band was about one inch wider and that seemed too tall, so after it was all sewn together (practically finished) I cut open the top seam and shortened the band by one inch, and then sewed it by hand, which worked out fine. The collar is interfaced on both the wool plaid and the satin lining to give it some structure. My lovely incredibly matching blue buttons from the original coat reappear here on this little jacket, which called for just two buttons on the band, however I had a remaining buttonhole on my coat so it appears as the bottom right one, and then the left one is sewn on to match.

StyleArc neckline buttons

Here you can see that original vertical buttonhole - but I think the 4 buttons solves that problem nicely and becomes a design element. OK, that is my story and I am sticking to it. To complete this jacket front I had to piece a tiny section, which you can see here on the right, just at the shoulder seam. Instead of bothering me I actually quite like it - it is virtually unnoticable when worn but just a little reminder to me of enjoyment in figuring out this whole project. 

StyleArc jacket buttonsStyleArc jacket pieced
A look at the back and the inside with my typical two-tone lining. Whatever is in the lining box and matches gets used up. To get the length I wanted I had to piece the bottom as a band and take in about two inches at the center back seam so the jacket is not as wide as designed. I did cut out the front pieces on the existing fronts of the coat so no facing needed.

          StyleArc jacket back viewStyleArc jacket inside
Someone mentioned that it might be a bit too matchy to wear this jacket with the skirt and I think that is right. Here is one option, I bought this jersey turtleneck which picks up the teal in the plaid. The pants are my test version of the Sewaholic Thurlow trousers and I am boo-hooing a little, as I made them from a denim tablecloth that someone gave me. As fabric goes it is a little lightweight for pants and has no stretch (oh how we [read me] have become accustomed to stretch) so I never intended to wear them. But they fit so well...I might just put them away for a pair of lightweight summertime pants. One of these days I plan to get some photos of these recent projects as worn.

Audrey jacket w pants

Today I was outside surveying the blah-ness that is my November landscape and noticed that the leaves on the apple tree are doing their own color block thing with the branches yellowing from the bottom up, and the tips are still green. How have I never seen this before?  Very pretty and soon it will just be bare branches and lots of leaves to rake. 
Happy late November sewing, Beth

Apple tree yellow leaves

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wrapped up in Blue

How difficult can it be to learn to knit? Just something simple, maybe a scarf. As it turns out,  impossible in my case. I have tried a few times, with some very patient knitters showing me the basics, with no success. My sample squares are comic, they get tighter with each row and some random dropped stitches. Every time I try to cast on I need to look at a video.  But I did make a sweater!
NL6150 Sweater t-shirt front
Or a T-shirt. Or a sweater type of shirt. But not a sweatshirt. Whatever it is, I am crazy about it. Here is how it started out, as big giant knitted thing.  I don't know much about knitting (obviously) but it seemed handmade, perhaps on a knitting machine. On left, the "fabric" about 40" wide and 2 yards long. On right, close up of the edge. And where did I get this knitty thing? At my magical mystery thrift  store, where my secret sewing alter ego is slowly donating fabulous fabrics, as always in blue. (To read about my other fab finds here is the post.)

                  Sweater knit fabricSweater knit fabric close up

A few details: I did think the fabric would unravel when cut but it behaved well if I handled it carefully.  I used New Look 6150 view D, the plain top. ( I have finished the wrap front version as well, a great pattern and I will post soon).  On the right is the top neckline without the band. I did zigzag all the edges once cut out. I tried the serger but it seemed to chew up the edges. The yellow thread across the front is my error-prevention system. With a top like this the front and back don't look very different once you remove the paper pattern so I put some type of indicator on one piece, in this case a thread trace. Usually I just mark with chalk on the inside but this was easier for the sweatery knit.

  Pattern New Look 6150NL6150 front piece indicator

A closeup of the neckline. I used the same technique as on my previous t-shirts.  To see this technique done here is a link to the Threads video. I did a couple of practice versions on scraps to get the hang of it and now I use it on everything t-shirt related.

NL 6160 T-shirt sweater neckline

One last little tip for sleeves on knits. It is much quicker to put sleeves in knits with the garment "flat" i.e. before the side seams are sewn up. However, I don't like what this does to the underarm intersection, creating a seam ridge where there should not be one. It is an issue of the "dominant seam" as discussed by Kathleen on her Fashion Incubator website in this post A better way to sew lining and facings.  She explains it perfectly and this is something I think I knew intuitively but her photos make so much sense.  In order to avoid the dominant seam issue on the sleeve+side seam, I sewed the sleeves while the garment was flat, just stopping at the last inch on each end. Here you can see the sleeve is attached (and tossed over the shoulder - kind of a weird image but hopefully you can see the area where I have left it unsewn. Then I sewed the side seams, and finally finished that last couple of inches of the sleeve as if it was a set in sleeve.  A tiny extra step but I like the result. Then the entire sleeve seam can be trimmed down and finished. 
NL6150 sweater t-shirt, sleeve construction
There is just one more of these sapphire blue items to show you, my finished Style Arc Audrey jacket which used the remaining pieces of the blue coat fabric. And then we are done with blue for a while. Ha ha until the next find.
With the remaining sweater knit I made a scarf, so here is my top shown with my refashion project: Coat into Skirt. Oh yeah, I am very please with my rhapsody in blue.
Sweater with scarf

Tomorrow morning is all about Pie baking, my assignment this year is one apple and one pecan. Then Friday will be a sewing day, with plenty of lovely turkey sandwiches, etc for fuel.  (the best part, yum:)
Today's SunnyGal garden photo, a new pink Salvia. Things are looking a bit bedraggled in the garden, as to be expected this time of year. Lots of leaves and newly sprouted weeds after the rain. 
Happy Thanksgiving to all, Beth
Salvia Pink

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Coat Refashion part 2: making the skirt

If you have been reading this blog then you know that bright blue is one of my favorite colors so the idea to take a favorite wool coat and refashion into some new pieces was very appealing. Originally made with a Burda pattern, my wool boucle coat was well worn in its early years but had dropped out of the regular wardrobe rotation long ago, probably due to the linebacker style shoulder pads and just being displaced by something more recent.  Not to mention that I don't exactly live in an artic zone - so coat wearing days are not that frequent.
As mentioned in the previous post, doing a bit of analysis on the coat showed that it had more than enough fabric to make a skirt and with some judicious pattern piece placement (say that three times fast) I could squeeze out part of a jacket too. This skirt became all about the pockets since they were pre-made.  Didn't notice when I took this photo but it is not quite straight on center, but you can better see the pocket welts which are on both side front sections. Pattern is Simplicity 2152. This version has a center front seam because I could not find a wide piece to use for the center panel, so I cut that on the center back seam.  Call it a design detail.

Skirt 2 showing pocket and seaming
To review, here is what I started with, front and back of this coat. Lots of fabric there. I did find one little hole up by the neck, drat those moths, but I repaired it with some fusible on the wrong side of the fabric. 

         Blue swing coat original lookBlue coat back view
This weird looking image is the coat laid out on the floor after the sleeves had been removed. Which I did using the razor blade method. Very fast and perfect for this fuzzy fabric. I have only seen one other sewing blogger use this method, the very talented Bunny of La Sewista.  I would say practice and chose your battles carefully if you want to go that route. I wield a straight blade like you use in a wallpaper scraper.
Blue coat with sleeves removed
The inside of the skirt once it is assembled, featuring those pre-made pockets.
Skirt from coat inside the pockets
Skirt side view, plus the reused coat lining. Strange fading on that lining fabric, it almost looked dyed that way but it was just how it was after being stashed away for a long while.  Looks like I need to finish stitching it down along the zip. Which is a navy invisible zip - because that's what I had in the zipper box.  A no new notions garment! With the fuzzy boucle it really does disappear. You can see the waist facing is blue cotton, I like the waistband area to be cotton so it doesn't twirl around as you wear it. 
                 Skirt inside with reused coat liningSkirt side view
Shown on the left, I used portions of the sleeves to make the skirt waist band pieces. The remaining sleeve fabric went to make the side panels for the Style Art jacket . . .more on that to follow. When I have a waistband or facing and I want to cut it out not using a fold I just make a tracing and tape it to the original piece as I have done here. Very handy if you are a fabric miser like I am and trying to use less than the suggested fabric requirement - which I generally treat as only a suggestion.

Blue coat sleeve used for skirt waistbandSkirt back view
One last step is the hem. I did put the bottom of the skirt at the jacket hem in case there was a mark or line which actually disappeared with some steaming (thank you nice quality wool fabric!) but I left the original interfacing from the coat hem there to give the skirt hem some shaping and softness. I just saw a comment from Trena (The Slapdash Sewist) on my grey jacket sleeve hemming post and she asked if there were any problems pulling out the tracing thread once the fusible is ironed on. That is more an issue with tailors tacks - those pesky threads can be stubborn to pull out but these thread traces on hems are very light, mostly on the right side of the garment and I just yank them out. If it lifts up the fusible a bit when it gets pressed again the glue remelts and it seems fine. I cut a bias strip from some remaining lining and put a binding on the hem, kind of a thick one but I wanted as little as possible of that potentially itchy fabric getting near me. The white is the fusible armo weft that was on the original coat hem.
Skirt hemSkirt hem finished
I am really happy with my new blue skirt, call me crazy but this afternoon I bought some blue tights to go with.  Will try to take some photos tomorrow.

Perhaps it is time for a little moratoriam on blue in my wardrobe?  I do have some really weird blue multi-color sweater knit fabric I found at where else - the thrift store which is a perfect match but no rush on that.  How about magenta? I have a small piece of wool and plan to remake the most wearable skirt in the world (Vogue 1247).

Now that I have finished this skirt I see refashioning possibilities everywhere, no old coat or dress is safe so I may be revisiting some more of my long abandoned coats, who knows?

Happy refashioning, Beth

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Coat Refashion: preserving the pockets

For at least a year I have been looking at a well-loved coat in my closet that I no longer wear, trying to decide if I should keep or donate. For some reason I couldn't part with it, the color is so nice and it seemed wrong to divest myself of a well-fitting coat.  A few interesting articles about waste in the garment industry and no-scrap cutting plus the push of a contest on Pattern Review gave me just the motivation needed to take scissors to this blue boucle.

So this swing coat became a skirt and one half of a jacket. A skirt with pre-made welt pockets!  If only all welt pockets were this way, ha ha, that would speed up construction considerably. Half a jacket because that was all I could squeeze out of the original coat, so I used some wool plaid in a complementary color I had, which I bought - where else - at an estate sale.  

Blue swing coat original look
Skirt made from blue coat

Jacket plus skirt

This little jacket is a Style Arc pattern, the Audrey Jacket. The most recent issue of Threads magazine has an article about mixed materials so it was timely to use the plaid on the jacket although I am not sure it is entirely successful. The skirt is Simplicity 2152 which I previously made here. It is a great skirt pattern, quite easy to fit on the fly and I added a center front seam in order to cut it out from the coat.
Do you want details?  I think you do based on the great comments on my previous posts about the grey Vogue 1143 jacket, comments which I appreciate very much.  Often I see tutorials and think that the info is already available in sewing books but what I have come to realize is that blogs are like example problems in a math class.  You may know the drill but it is really helpful to see a technique applied in multiple ways.  Or am I overthinking it?  Let me know.  In any case, I took photos of this process so here you are, a look at the "vintage" inside and outside of this coat. 
The pattern (Burda - maybe one of the few Burdas I have ever made) had a stand collar and a clever and easy to make hidden buttonhole placket, one of those details I really like. Here you can see the lining, it used to be the matching blue but has faded to a streaky watercolor-ish lilac now.  

Blue coat hidden buttonhole closureBlue coat inside front

And that very re-usable welt pocket.  That was definitely going to make an appearance on the skirt and it was actually easier to incorporate it than to try and cut around it.  Here is the pattern envelope, which is long gone from my files but I found this image on the Vintage Patterns Wiki after searching on Etsy for Burda swing coat pattern. I am constantly amazed at what I find on Etsy with simple searches.  

IMG_0193Blue coat welt pocket

I am crazy about this new skirt, perfect for winter but I am still on the fence about the jacket. As designed the collar is a bit high so I have not put in the buttonholes, still thinking about reducing the height of it. Also I don't really plan to wear them together, might be a bit too much.
Next post: some details on construction for the skirt and the jacket plus a better look at my lovely pre-made pockets :)  Can you tell how excited I was to reuse those pockets? 
Happy sewing, Beth

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Vogue 1143 Jacket, how I hem sleeves

Thank you to everyone for all your fantastic comments. There certainly was widespread interest in seeing this jacket made up, lots of people said they had the pattern but were waiting to see a few reviews before taking the plunge.  I used a stretch woven that was just the right weight for the jacket but a bit too light for my liking for the pants but I am not sure what would be better.

When it comes to hems I am slightly obsessed with invisibility - and it is entirely possible with a few extra but easy steps.  Nothing new here, this method is available in many sewing texts but I was taking photos all the way through this construction so here is the process.

First step:  decide on the sleeve length.  Pin hem and then mark the edge with a thread trace, as in photo on the right. No need to press the hem, that comes later.
Second step:  apply a strip of fusible interfacing.  For this lightweight fabric I used fusible knit interfacing, for a tailored wool jacket I would use a woven weft fusible. For both these steps a sleeve board is invaluable. A necessity (and often available at garage sales, the older ones are so sturdy).
Grey suit sleeve preparation
Next step: I hand sew the hem catching just a few threads of the fusible interfacing and not picking up any threads of the actual sleeve fabric.  Nice and loose - there should be a tiny bit of play in the thread so that it doesn't pull.  I think this is key in hem sewing, the actual hem should have a tiny bit of slack to prevent a stress line across the garment.
.         sleeve hem1Sleeve hem3
On the right, finished hem, slightly out of focus image but you get the idea.  Next step: while the garment is on a hanger or dress form, cut the sleeve lining about 1/2" longer than the finished hem. Careful with the scissors here!  Let's just say that scissors + finished garment edge can be a dangerous combo.  Moving on...
Next step:  press under the cut edge of the sleeve lining about 1/4" or so.  No need to be super exact. Then turn up sleeve and lining and pin lining to sleeve.  By turning up the sleeve and lining this way you get that little bit of ease in the sleeve lining that allows for arm movement. Easier to show here in the photo below.

Sleeve hem2
Next step: stitch the lining to the jacket sleeve. See the photo below, I stitch the lining just below the crease, so it is hidden and retains that bit of ease we added with the folding and pinning.Sleeve hem7

The lining for this jacket was well designed, I thought it fit perfectly which does not always seem to be the case. I actually sewed it in by machine as the pattern instructed (a rarity for me - I usually just hand sew in linings - I like that step) Although the bottom of the lining is hand stitched. The lining was a acetate satin that I had in my lining box - a lucky find of just the right color. Well not really, when I find a good lining on a super sale I buy 5 yards or so and stash it away. (grey, navy, black - always useful.)

    Sleevehem6Lining back

Is that a pocket you see on the lining front?  Yes!  Once I finished the jacket lining and pinned it in for a check I thought this jacket needed a pocket, for a bit of mad money or business cards. It had to be hand sewed in, usually I would machine sew this type of inner pocket into the lining before it was finished. If you do add this type of pocket - go around the outer edge with your hand stitching twice, with a few random knots. You will be glad you did if you put anything weighty in the pocket, such as the aforementioned phone.
Inside jacket pocket

The front closure:  This is another reason why I mentioned in the previous post that this jacket should be worn closed and belted.  The pattern calls for snaps to close. Not the prettiest method.


OK - this pattern is DONE!    one last look at the finished jacket. Someone mentioned wearing it with other things, and now I am thinking a skirt but I will have to play around with proportions.

Jacket front finished

Onward to other projects. I am just about finished with a garment refashion (a coat into something else). As I mentioned previously, I remade the Thurlow pants pattern and they are fantastic. Finished a new knit top (New Look 6150, a winner, both versions).  And the holidays just around the corner.  eeeeeek!

Blue flower from AliceHere is today's SunnyGal garden photo - a plant given to me by my pal Alice. She has a green thumb and end up with lots of giveaway plants. I need more of these, so pretty.      Happy Fall Sewing, Beth

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Vogue 1143, Finally finished

Time for some autumnal weather so I can wear this suit.  Yes, it is finally finished, taken out of the sewing room and put in the bedroom closet, so I know it is done.  Although I still need to work out what top to wear with it.  Ages ago I offered to sew a Vogue pattern selected by a blog reader and Ruta picked V1143.  I will put links to previous posts at the end of this one.

Jacket front finished
Judging by reactions of friends and family I would say it is a success but there is just something about it that is...fiddly. What does that mean? Well a suit that has a belt, and only looks good with the belt all done up, that is a bit fiddly to wear. The lapels are odd, they have the right structure but don't quite know where to go when worn, up or down. There is a lot of room in the upper arms which is part of the design but a bit too much for my size. I didn't choose the most fancy fabric, my fault there. It is a bit thin which works in the jacket's favor as it has a lot of layers (those sleeves, the double peplum) but for the pants the fabric is just a smidge too thin for my preference. So that is what I mean by fiddly. I also think this is one of those outfits that looks way better in real life than on either the dress form or standing at attention for the requisite photo. 

Grey suit front new photo
In fact I took photos on 2 separate days, because for the first one my pal Alice said it looked like I had no feet, the pants were too long and wide. In the photo above I have shortened them and taken in all over but they still look too wide to me so may have another go at that.
Here I am looking footless, in a shadow and the suit looks so much darker grey. Not the best choice of backlight. Also, unrelated to sewing, I am in that "decided to grow my hair out" but now "it looks like a bubble" phase.  As a lifelong short hairstyle person, periodically I get the urge to have longer hair, it usually lasts for about 6 months of torture and then I run screaming back to my hairdresser saying "pixie cut please".  Anyone else know the feeling?

Grey suit side view 2
A look at the front, where I made a design change, to keep the belt separate. The pattern would have you sew the belt on the jacket and just leave the front sections of about 4" unattached, but it just didn't feel right to do it that way. So I created a detached belt and added carriers. Can you believe I found this leather buckle in my old sewing box? I am a big saver of buckles, buttons and other trinkets and it is amazing how many times I find the right item in my stockpile.

Jacket front belt closeup

Jacket back

Jacket back finished

The pants were made using a different Vogue pattern (one of those Claire Schaeffer patterns) which I used a few years ago with success although they were in a dark wool fabric  which tailored better.  Since I made these pants I remade the Sewaholic Thurlow trousers in denim and now I have a pants pattern I can turn to for all types of fabric. 

One more post to follow, some inner details on hems for sleeve plus lining. Plus a hidden pocket in the jacket. 

Audrey asked what type of interfacing I used on the jacket. Two types of fusible from Fashion Sewing Supply, Pro-Sheer Elegance on the jacket underlapel and jacket front, and then Pro-Tricot Deluxe on the lapel facing pieces. As a rule I put interfacing on both sides of any jacket lapel or facing pieces. All the Fashion Sewing Supply interfacings are fantastic and now they are all I use, plus they are an extremely good value and 60" wide.

Construction Notes on Vogue 1143, post number one
Construction Notes on Vogue 1143, post number two

and to see how I got here, the original post where I decided on the reader suggestion.

Keeping up with the family tradition of creating and crafting, my sister is now making holiday wreaths as our grandmother originally did. She has an Etsy shop, BettyAndJo, named after our grandmother Betty and her sister Jo (my first sewing teacher). Have a look and here is a coupon code for a 10% discount (BLOG10)  to use if you would like one for yourself. I have many memories of  collecting the tiny pine cones and I can still hear Nana telling us to save the pretty wrapping papers on Christmas morning. They work as a centerpiece or as a wall wreath.

Sewing projects in the works:  some new Thurlow trousers and more knit tops, I am becoming obsessed with them. 
Happy November sewing, Beth