Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Finishing Details: Bound Buttonholes on a wool coat

Let's start with a photo for a change.

Finished buttonhole
I gave a peek recently at this winter coat at the end of a post and it is nearing the finish line. As I sewed the coat I didn't really take many photographs. A black wool coat is not the best subject for detail photographs and I was really concentrating on progress not documentation. However I have been doing the last steps before hemming and thought the back of a bound buttonhole is worth a look.
Bound buttonholes are my go-to solution  on this type of fabric. My Singer buttonhole attachment works really well but the thickness of the finished coat front precludes its use. Also the feed dogs on the attachment tend to shred the fibers a bit, although I have a little trick using a piece of cardstock that I should remember to show one of these days.
Here is the inside of the coat front, with the bound buttonholes sewn.  But not completed! In fact the front is only half the story.
Bound buttonhole inside
To complete the back here are the steps I use.  
  • sew the facings to coat front and give them a proper pressing
  • baste the garment edge together in a long running stitch (see below in pink silk thread)
  • while coat front is flat on the table, baste around each buttonhole, securing the coat front to the coat facing. This is to keep the facing in the right place relative to the coat front and the buttonholes. (see below in white silk thread)

Bound buttonhole front basted to facing

Now to find where I am going to cut, I place pins through the end of each buttonhole and mark with chalk. 

Bound buttonhole marking where to slice

Then I cut along the chalk mark. The actual cut is very similar to the inverted Arrow shaped cut that is done on the actual buttonholes on the garment front.  Sorry for the out of focus photo here but you can see the chalk marks and the triangle shape cuts.  The most important point here is NOT to cut those buttonhole lips on the front of the garment...which is a bit tricky as the whole thing is sandwiched together with that circle of basting.  
Bound buttonhole back facing sliced

The last step is to tuck those 4 triangle-y bits under and hand stitch all around the edge. It might sound a bit fiddly but it works really well and in this type of fabric the stitches disappear.  Here is the finished buttonhole reverse, just needs some steam to smooth everything out.

Bound buttonhole back hand sewn

Here is another example, on the olive green corduroy jacket I recently made. It is a little easier to see it and I admit, easier to sew it. The black wool plus fusible interfacing made the fabric a bit bulky and not easy to flip those little quarter inch wide flaps inside. 

buttonhole back cord

After all the bound buttonholes are done I like to take a break...or shall I say a sigh of relief? They do make me a bit anxious, despite making them for a good long while. I think because it is so definite - once you make the slice in that coat or jacket front you are commited, no turning back. So time for a small celebration, preferably involving a twist of lemon and some ice cubes tinkling in a glass. You get the picture.
But that is only one side of the coat front, we still have to sew on the buttons. Easy-peasy, right?  This is one of those simple tasks that can elevate a coat to perfectly classy or class clown. I know you have tried on a coat in a store and the buttons were sewn on a bit wonky so that the coat front tugged all the wrong ways, ruining the look. Sometimes sewing students have the tendency to sew the buttons on too tightly causing this same problem.  Buttons need breathing space :) 

Button sewing with pencil
For these large buttons a pencil is the perfect size to use as a spacer. I also have a gizmo which I showed in my corduroy jacket post but I find the pencil works really well too. Prior to hemming I sew the buttons on lightly, with just a few turns of the thread, so that in case they are not exactly right I can easily move. It never fails that there is one rogue button needing to be moved by the teensiest eighth of an inch, but what a difference that makes (see above - button wonkiness).
If I haven't convinced you yet that the button needs space, here is proof. That button shank needs to hold the button through almost 1/2 inch of coat front.   On the right is the button sewn on, looking like some weird flying saucer, surverying the sewing room. Getting a look at my yet unfinished fuschia wool jacket in the mirror. But really it's just to show that the button thread shank is important. 

Buttonhole depth rulerSewn on button

When I finish this coat I will take lots of photos and give details on the pattern(s) used.

Enough about all things button related.  That twist of lemon is calling me.
In other important news, we have Tulips !  oooh I love this photo, so green. We need to enjoy it while we can when the brief green season is here.
Happy Spring sewing, Beth

Tulip pink1

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Tis only fitting, more green with Vogue 1170 skirt

Unable to shake the childhood tradition of wearing something green on St. Patrick's day (and why would I?) I have an opportunity to wear this new skirt today.  The pattern is Vogue 1170 which I recently ordered when I saw it was being discontinued on the Vogue website. Why I never got it before I am not sure, perhaps because it is just like Vogue 1247, a skirt and top by designer Rachel Comey, where I think the skirt is great and top is not my style.
The fabric is green corduroy which I had in my stash. This is more of a test version than anything else. I just wanted to see how I liked the skirt and check the length. Now that it is finished I think in some kind of swingy fabric it would be very nice and less A-line. I am getting a bit of a junior high school cheerleader recollection when I look at it, probably because the color is spot on for that my old uniform.

green cord skirt on me 2

And the back view, the way it creates a ripple in the back is so simple but clever. I need to tweak the fit a bit, plus this fabric must be very old and had some creases that would not press out.  

green cord skirt back on me

Vogue 1170 skirt and top

Here is the pattern envelope, note I am not tall and I added 4 inches when I cut it out, then hemmed one inch. So it is certainly short but easy to lengthen. If I had not added the length then I would have had a nice colorful tennis skirt!  As for this pattern, not quite true love but perhaps a serious like.

Carolyn of Handmade by Carolyn made this skirt up in a pleather fabric and it looks great, I think also in suede it would work well. I have an itch to make something in suede one of these days, I went through a phase a while ago where I made quite a few things but they are all gone from my wardrobe now except a couple of suede tops relegated to the back of the closet.  Perhaps time to refashion...
For a laugh, one of those in the mirror shots. Now I can see this attempt I will not be trying that again. At least the floor is clean.
Green cord skirt mirror image

Happy St. Patrick's day to all,

The daffodils are almost finished and the tulips are next. . Spring starts Wednesday, hurrah!


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Blogiversary Giveaway Winner

St. Patrick's Day is almost here, and the lucky leprechaun drew a name.  And the winner is:

Blog drawing winner


The sewing book and notions will be soon be winging their way to Australia to the incredible Velosewer. She makes everything from beautiful Colette dresses to leather jacket refashions to sports accessories. How does she do it? Not sleeping I think :)

Thank you for the sweet comments on the blog-anniversary post and my most recent post on the work-in-progress raspberry wool jacket. I am reallly happy that the posts are helpful.

Turning to non-sewing topics, I wish everyone a Happy St. Patrick's day. The photo below was taken ages ago in a pub garden in Dublin. Looking very cheerful, aren't I?  I've been to Ireland a couple of times and I would go back in a heartbeat. Great food, great beer, fantastic people and such beautiful scenery. We have cousins in western Ireland and Dublin so here is a funny story. I was enjoying a drink with my cousins in the Octagon Bar at the Clarence hotel which is owned by the band members of U2. We were joking about whether they ever hang out there, and you can guess what happened next. They all walked in and sat down next to us. Yes, Bono was wearing his signature glasses. All my cousin could say was that he lived in Dublin all his life and had never seen them but I was in town for 2 days and they walked into the bar. Can we call it the luck of the Irish? 

Sláinte !

Beth in Dublin

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Rose Red is my new blue, Vogue 8865 Jacket

The last 12 months have been the year of blue. It seems like everything I sewed was blue or some variation. OK not everything but the year did include the vintage dress, the tunic top, the denim skirt, and my whole coat refashion project. It even continued into January with some knit tops, but did you notice a new color creeping into my palette? There was a hint of rose red with the Lekala dress I made for the holidays. I think this will be the year of red. Or pink...which do you think this is?  Actually I call it fuschia. Perhaps raspberry?

Do you recognize this fabric?  Maybe it is hard to tell but it is the same wool that I used for the V1247 skirt recently, or as I like to call it, the best skirt pattern ever.

V8865 inside seamsVogue 8865 pattern jacket

This is a semi-recent Vogue pattern release, so I am kind of suprising myself by making it so soon, ordinarily I let these new patterns age for a while in my stash (unintended, I am just slow getting to the new ones). But this jacket requires very little fabric so it jumped to the top of the list. I bought this fabric at a sewing group sale, priced at two dollars for about 1.5 yards. I could not resist.
I haven't finished it yet but was in the mood to take some photos as I sewed, so let's talk trimming and sleeves.

You know I am a maniac for trimming. This jacket gives lots of opportunity to trim away all those corner junctions where the seams meet. The pin there on the shoulder seam shows how I trim away all those little squares which I feel add bulk and lumpy spots. On the right is a seam junction where I can trim away 4 little squares. I am positively giddy with snipping all these spots on this jacket. I don't know why I like this so much, similar to rose deadheading, somehow very satisfying.

V8865 trimming 2V8865 trimming corners

Sewing sleeves can be tricky on a solid color like this, you want the sleeve cap to be smooth and unrumpled. The only way I can achieve this is to pin it until it looks like a porcupine. Do you put this many pins in your sleeve?  I start at the shoulder and underarm seam, then pin the notches, then the dots which are marked with tailor's tacks. From there I divide the extra ease between those places, pinning at the halfway spot and then again between those pins and so on until it is a mass of pins. And all the ease is distributed.  Then sew inside the circle.  Repeat, inside the circle. Let that be a mantra. Applies almost always for sleeves.
V8865 sleeve pinning
First stitching is long length at about 1/2" seam allowance, take out pins - check the sleeve. If there are any places where the ease is not quite right I take out just that section and repin and restitch until it is smooth. Once I am happy with it then I stitch again in a regular stitch length at the normal 5/8" seam allowance, and then stitch about 1/8" inside that.  Sleeves need this double row of stitching, this is the place that is most likely to fail on a garment. 
After that it is time to press, inside the circle.  Go around the whole sleeve seam with the tip of the iron and just press the seam as below. 
V8865 sleeve pressing

Time to trim.  Just the part from front to back at the notches, close to the inner row of stitching. This makes space for your arm in the armhole. Leave the rest of the seam allowance as that supports the sleeve cap.
V8865 sleeve trimming2

Here is a look at my finished sleeve. This pattern is very well drafted, note that the sleeve fits so smoothly in the armhole. It is a two piece sleeve. The back princess seam looks a bit lumpy as I am playing around with the fit and took that seam in a bit, I haven't decided if that was needed and so I put the sleeves on as that is definitely needed to evaluate the fit of the upper back. The black coat I showed in the last post is there in the background, it still needs the lining and a few more details. I left that scrap of red wool on the floor to give verisimilitude, a fancy word to say that the floor is always littered with a zillion scraps until I can't stand it any more and get out the vacuum.

V8865 sleeve finished

Onward with this jacket and a few other projects in red this spring. I like that Poppy Red in the Pantone  spring 2013 palette so maybe a casual cotton jacket. 

One more day to enter in my Blog Anniversary giveaway from my previous post. 
Happy spring sewing, Beth

Today's SunnyGal garden photo, things are starting to bloom around here. Tulips will be next but here is an azalea that lives next to the front door. I don't really like azaleas and have taken out a few in the backyard but this one likes its spot and blooms very well for a few weeks.

pink Azalea mar13

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Blog Anniversary Giveway and another project preview

Where did February go? Flew past me and I am fine with that, it means we are that much closer to summer. But I did miss my blog anniversary. Three years of writing and reading, making new friends and learning so much from everyone in sewing cyberspace.

To celebrate this I am offering a small giveaway to readers. There have been slim pickings lately at garage sales and thrift shops but I did find this Simplicity sewing book which is dated 1965. Don't be put off by their insistence on the "Simplicity Unit System of Sewing". Which I can go on the record and say I don't agree with - and for the most part they are still doing it in today's patterns. Boiling it down to essentials, they sew the complete top half and bottom half, attach those 2 portions and put the zipper in last. So ignore that and use this book for all the other great information it holds. In less than 200 pages they cover fit, seam trimming (near and dear to my heart, you know) sleeves, collars, lapels, bound buttonholes, pattern alteration, special fabrics, zippers and on and on.

Blogoversary goodies

I don't know about you but I find books that have very simple black and white drawings to illustrate techniques are actually easier to comprehend. The current style of sewing books with lovely photography is beautiful but I can focus in on a small illustration and really see what they are showing. Here is an example for sleeves, on one page they show how to create ease, stitch inside the sleeve and how to press and trim. Although they do refer to this as a "regulation" sleeve which sounds very stern. This is not meant to be a critique of newer sewing books - they are all useful and I am a big fan of the Singer sewing series which is filled with photos.  I just got the BurdaStyle book from my local library and plan to make one of the items in that and I also recommend the Dressmaker's Handbook of Couture Sewing Techniques by Linda Maynard. 

Sleeves from Simplicity book
Also included in this drawing are a yellow Chaco pen-style chalk liner and a metal seam gauge. Both are invaluable tools in my sewing inventory and I couldn't be without them. 

So leave a comment to be in the drawing on March 15 for this little collection of sewing toolbox treats. (international is OK)

After my incredibly productive streak last October through December I have been blogging less but sewing more. I did mention in a previous blog entry that I wanted to some posts on plus size sewing and I plan to get to that very soon. As it happens I have been doing a lot of custom sewing for the client that started me on this quest of flattering fit for any size. I am just about finished making a wool coat for her, somewhat based on the J.Crew Lady Day coat from this winter's catalog. Here is a look at the 60% finished coat.  I started with a Burda pattern but went very far afield from that design. The single sleeve is basted on right now, I am waiting for a fitting session this afternoon but I am pretty darn happy with how it is looking right now.  You can see all my tailor's tacks, and the many different color outlines of possible seam positions. I don't pull out all those threads until I get very near the finish line. By the way, the fabric is J.Crew wool that was a serendipitous find at Britex. 

H coat front first view

So it is back to sewing, as you can imagine I am ready to finish this project and move on to something new. (I always feel that way while working on a big project, I get to the 70% mark and want it to be done!)  

Happy sewing and thanks for reading and all your great comments. They are appreciated.

By the way, I changed my blog setting to eliminate anonymous coments, too many spam comments sneaking through. If you are not able to comment just send me an email (address available when you click on my profile)

Today's SunnyGal garden photo, not in my garden. Walking in my neighborhood I passed by this flowering tree, and the masses of pink blooms caught my eye. Spring is here!