Sunday, April 28, 2013

Super summer Simplicity separates

Do you do a closet exchange when the weather changes?  We always did that in my family when I was small and the habit remains. This week I took down boxes filled with shorts and summer tees and gladly packed up the wool sweaters.  As I was hanging up some summer shirts I came across this one which I made last year and have never worn. At the time I really didn't like it much but I can't recall why, it seems perfectly nice now.

Simplicity shirt and skirt
Or perhaps I am just happy to wear a little cotton blouse, denim skirt and some sandals. Probably so. The pattern for the top is Simplicity 2339 Amazing Fit pattern which I previously made here in blue silk charmeuse. This version in cotton lawn looks totally different and in fact neither version looks much like the pattern drawing. On the first one I converted the front to have a hidden buttonhole placket which is very nice feature on a fine silk blouse. 
For this version in cotton lawn I also eliminated the sewn-on buttonhole placket to create a ? faux ? placket.  I am not sure if this has a name, you see it sometimes on high end women's shirts and blouses. It is a good way to save cutting out that long piece, it adds no bulk, the interfacing is hidden and the inside has a beautiful clean finish. With a little math it is not difficult, I will do a follow up post on how to do using fabric that is easier to see than this black print.

Simpl shirt 5

Simpl shirt 4

Simplicity shirt on form
The skirt is Simplicity 2152 in black stretch denim which I blogged here.  This is a great skirt pattern and I wear it a lot as it is great for running errands with nice pockets to store all kinds of notes, scraps, phone, etc. 

In the background behind my elbow you can see one of the foxglove plants. I bought a 6-pack of tiny plants last year and had a few flowers but this spring they are fantastic. The one shown below is about 4 feet tall now.  By the way in the top photo I am standing in front of the very large apple tree, right below the bee colony. Do you think I am brave?  Actually they could care less about people since they are so busy with the lemon least for the time being.

foxglove 2

Happy Spring Sewing,  Beth

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Vogue 8865 jacket in rose red

Did you wonder what happened to this one?  Not that anyone is losing sleep over what I do or don't finish sewing, I didn't mean to say that.  I know you all have better things to to do. Like watch the final episode of the Great British Sewing Bee...which I have not seen yet. And plan to watch tomorrow sometime, so no spoilers. A bit challenging to avoid seeing the results today on line but so far I have succeeded. I have to watch it tomorrow morning because in the afternoon I will be in San Francisco for Pattern Review Weekend 2013!  Couldn't miss that, right here in my own backyard, so to speak. Looking forward to meeting everyone.

Now back to Vogue 8865, a very simple little jacket that I quite like and am thinking this is the very pattern I can use to make a nice soft leather jacket come fall, maybe with some contrast sleeves or something.  Not that I am thinking about fall, to busy enjoying spring right now.

Vogue rose jacket2
Here is the previous post on construction of this jacket with some details on how I sew and trim sleeves - in a word - lots of pins! You can see the seaming better in this photo of the back. 

Rose jacket back1

I did make the version with the slightly strange lapel/collar and I like it OK, the pattern called for the entire jacket (all pieces) to be interfaced with knit fusible, which was a good idea in theory but if I were to start over (knowing what I know now) I would put a thicker interfacing in the lapel and collar area as I don't think it has enough heft to support the fabric with just fusible knit.  Oh well...
Rose jacket collar
I did find this in my big box of linings and I know I found this at a garage sale, it is not quite the exact shade of rose but a nice complement - and the price was right.

Rose jacket lining

Another nit-picky detail is that I added 2 inches to the bottom when I cut it out, just for the heck of it and also I like a wide hem (instead of bagging the lining). Also I held it up to a couple of other jackets and it seemed kind of short. And yet when I got to the hemming, this is what I did:

Jacket hem pink silk thread

Are you kidding me, a 3/4 inch hem?  If I hadn't added those 2 inches to the length I would have been really annoyed, and had a nice bolero. Yes, a bit of an exaggeration but really, kind of short!

rose jacket on me
See, I told you. And I am still not sure about the oddball collar design.  Might make the other version and/or draft some other collar idea, if I can come up with one. 

The top is Simplicity 1916 which I previously blogged here.    Simplicity wrap knit top
The pants are my latest version of the Sewaholic Thurlow trousers, in black denim, more details to follow including a few pitfalls (and how I survived them).

Here is my latest impulse purchase at the garden store, a pink hydrangea which took the place of a sad and spindly old azeala.  Ruthless, I tell you. Produce flowers in my garden or your days are numbered.This new plant better watch out!

Happy Sewing, Beth

new pink hydrangea

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Random Threads # 2

Time for another post where I gather up the random threads that have been occupying my mind lately.

I did finish the Vogue 8865 jacket in deep pink wool, so I will post that one soon. Keeping with my resolution to make anything but dresses and trying to use up fabrics I have, here is a sneak peek at my latest project, all finished but for the photos.

Burda coat sneak peek

Sewing Lessons with me:  months ago I added a page to the blog about sewing instruction and then left it blank. Now I have finally added some content!.  If you are in the San Francisco bay area and would like to spend some time in one-on-one sewing instruction with me,  email me to discuss. (my email is: sunnygalstudio (at)  I have listed a bunch of techniques that you may want to learn and of course there is always fitting. (have you made a muslin or sloper that needs another sewist to fit?)

Pantone Spring Color Trends:  every season a few I like (the bright and bold) and the rest are bleeeh. If you haven't seen them here is the link. After all this is marketing through and through...a way to create desire in consumers to purchase new items.  If you are interested in this I recommend a book I read a few years ago, Color Stories: behind America's Billion Dollar Industry.  Fascinating look at the business of the cosmetics industry. Thank you to my local public library that had this book on the new and interesting shelf a couple of years ago.  I love my library and am a bit worried about the future of libraries in general with budget issues and changes in the publishing industry.

Don't you think this is the ugliest pattern they have ever come up with? Click over and wonder who would look good with a weird boxy bow across their frontage? And the background wallpaper plus the necklace make the outfit, right.  eek...

ITY knits:  I think I am over them.  I have made a few items, mostly because I loved the print but the feel of the fabric is just not for me.  For the future I will stick to rayon, cotton, bamboo or wool knits and if I find the right fabric at the right price a silk knit.

Jean's coat:  have you seen this masterpiece made by my friend Jean Kaori? Lucky her, she went to the Susan Khalje class in SF recently and created 2 fantastic lace garments. This is only one of her talents, her knitting is beautiful and almost makes me want to try.  Almost.

Project Runway:  Ok I will never NOT watch a show that involves some sewing but some is the operative word.  Less and less actual design and sewing of real clothes and too many stunt challenges. Plus the people on this season are as annoying as ****.  No one I care to win. Maybe the whole thing is a bit tired and needs to go away for a while.

The Great British Sewing Bee: A show that actually features sewing!  Moves along at a good pace, discusses the techniques a bit, and the participants are charming/quirky/talented/earnest. My only criticism is the show's tag line, "looking for Britain's best home sewer".  If that were the case it seems they could have found a few more contestants that were actually advanced level, but after all it is a reality tv show  which requires a few interesting characters to make the story move along.  The finale next week is a formal evening dress.  I would not want to make that in a day while filmed, talk about pressure!

A questionable top:  my sister showed me a very cute t-shirt top she bought the other day and I thought I could recreate the neckline. I used the simple T-shirt top from New Look 6150 and played around with the neckline (something I did on this blog post when I made a color block dress).  Now I have a new top which has a nice shape but perhaps is hideous. Or cute?  I can't decide. I threw everything but the kitchen sink into this one, as I wanted to try the gathered short sleeve on the pattern plus I cut the front out about 4 inches longer than the back so I gathered at the side waist to create a ruched effect.

paisley Tee with keyholePaisley Tee keyhole closeup

I like the keyhole effect so that is a keeper, but it is this crazy psychedelic print that is bugging me. But it is soft and comfy. I have more of this fabric (which I threw in the cart on the FashionFabricsClub website when I was ordering other stuff) so it will get used for other t-shirt experiments.

In garden news I recently filled a few knotholes in my huge apple tree so that the bees would not find them and start a new colony as they did 2 years ago. Evidently I missed one but they didn't. I hate to commit bee-icide but in a few weeks going past the picnic table at 4 pm will unnerving.  However the orange and meyer lemon trees are in full bloom and need the pollination.  So the bees are spared for the time being. This is the scene outside the kitchen window, the orange blossom fragrance is heavenly.

Happy sewing, Beth

Orange blossoms

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Winter Wool Coat, Part 2, the pattern details - Burda 7169

More details on the wool coat I showed you in the last post. Coat weather is ending here in N. America but a good coat pattern is worth adding to the stash and I am recommend this Burda pattern if it is in your size range.
Wool coat front 1
I used Burda 7169 for the most part with a few significant changes. Note that this is a collar+lapel style and I wanted to make a peter pan style collar with the center front continuing up to the top.

     Burda pattern 7169 coatBurda tech drawing

I did find a Simplicity pattern that was almost an exact match for the inspiration style, which was a coat from J. Crew, their Lady Day Coat, pictured here on the right.

          Simplicity pattern 2057Jcrew green coat

To prepare my first muslin, I started to fit the Simplicity pattern but about half way through that I decided that the fit would never be right. The Burda pattern is a plus size pattern and I have realized this past year that for fitted garments on someone who is well endowed, (well, ok, busty) the plus size patterns are a really good place to start. I think they kind of save you from having to do a complete overhaul on the pattern, with the cascading changes to the armhole, sleeve etc and then your standard size pattern is a confusing mess. By starting with a plus size pattern where the bust measurement is near your own I think the pain of fitting is reduced considerably. Although I do recommend choosing the pattern by your high bust measurement, not the full bust.  (my friend Shams who writes the Communing with Fabric blog has a page on resources for fitting the busty figure).

Now for some editorial comments - women with plus size figures are not usually 6 feet tall. The fitting difficulty is compounded by the pattern designers (and for that matter RTW clothing) as things get taller as the bust/waist/hip measures increase. Adding another level of difficulty for the beginner/intermediate sewer and making the wearer look like they are drowning in fabric. I know I mentioned a few weeks back that I would do some posts on plus size fitting and I plan to get there soon, probably in May. With all that said, there are still plenty of pattern alterations to do no matter what size range is the starting point but I think the possibility of success is greater. There are some very good Simplicity plus size patterns and if you can look past the styling the basics are workable to convert into a variety of styles. (Simplicity 2917, a nice fitting princess seam dress can be modified to make almost anything).

Muslins...this stage of the project is not very pretty!  First one in cotton, trying to work out the collar and figure out the placement of the waistband. Final one on the right, I decided I needed to try out the top half of the coat in a like fabric, so I used this hideous mystery blend boucle that was a very similar weight to the actual coat fabric. Also by the time I had finished the body of the coat I had altered my pattern pieces so much that I had NO idea what size sleeve to use. I had not cut out the sleeves as I knew that it would be fitted last and be affected by all the fitting changes. In the end I just guessed but used about a 1.5 inch seam allowance on the sleeve cap to allow for adjustment.

H coat muslinH coat muslin2

The fabric for this coat came from Britex Fabrics in San Francisco. Heather went shopping in January and as it happened they had a stock of coating fabrics from J.Crew, which were on sale that day. Talk about luck. We bought the buttons there as well on another shopping excursion. I am happy with the collar, that is the only pattern piece I used from the Simplicity, but modified it to fit the neck opening.

Coat neckline collar front

Back with sleeve and shoulder
Photographing black garments is really a challenge but in this one above you can see the princess and waist seaming, and the 2-piece sleeve which is a sign of a good coat pattern - and helpful for fitting. 

The inside is never seen but the interfacing is what makes a coat like this. Hidden under that lovely wool are interfacings from Fashion Sewing Supply - the are fantastic and all I use these days. Along the center fronts and the under collar I used Pro-Tailor Deluxe fusible (which Pam tells me they no longer have, Pro-Weft is equivalent). For the upper collar and the coat facings I used Pro-Sheer Elegance fusible. On the hems I used Pro-Weft fusible. 
Lastly, the lining. I used a Bemberg ambiance lining in a charcoal grey. I encased the facing edge in a little bit of lining as this fabric is very prone to unravel, and pressed in a half inch pleat in the lining hem to allow for movement.

Hem facing edge

One last photo of Heather wearing her coat. Who doesn't get a little goofy during photo sessions and try the over the shoulder pose? We do.  For a look at all the photos of this project, here is a link to my Flickr set with all the photos.  
Previous posts on this coat:  bound buttonholes and coat modeled by Heather.

Wool coat side back -

It is so windy here today that some of my tulips have had their blooms blown right off, but I did see this one the other afternoon when I was outside with my camera.  In those grab-bags of bulbs found on the sale rack at the garden center are some real gems and this is one of those ruffle edge ones. Like fabric ! 

Happy Spring Sewing, Beth

yellow tulip

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Winter Wool Coat -completed - Burda 7169

It is finally finished and I think her smile says it all. My friend and sewing client Heather came by yesterday to pick up her finished coat and let me take some photos. I am so happy when I see her face as she models her coat. She is a dream to work with and has become a great friend in the last 12 months.

Wool coat front open

Here it is buttoned up all the way. I actually used a pattern that had a standard collar and lapel and I can tell you it was a bit of head scratcher to figure out how to convert that to the straight front with a peter pan style collar but after 3 fitting muslins (yes I did make muslins!) it worked out well.

Wool coat front 2

Back view, and you can see the seaming. The waistband detail was not on the original pattern so that required a bit of drafting as well.

Wool coat back +

More details in another post soon, but for now I can give one piece of advice when working on fit. 
Shoulder Princess Seams!
If you have read any of the Palmer and Pletsch fitting books this is something they frequently recommend.  
Here is the previous post, with details on the bound buttonholes.

Next post, details on the RTW coat that was the inspiration for this, which pattern I used and some other details.  A few weeks ago it was looking like this so there was a LOT of hand stitching between then and now. Also did you notice what I snuck into the title of this post?  BURDA . . . yes, me making a Burda pattern. Granted it is an envelope pattern but kind of a change. Further shock coming, I just finished another Burda. What is happening?  But no magazine pattern tracing...I vow.

H coat front first view

This one will stand in for my SunnyGal garden photo - with blooming tulips. 
Happy weekend sewing, Beth

Wool coat open collar 2