Wednesday, October 30, 2013

C'est fini! - my Faux French Jacket, V7975

Finalmente finito! Because this jacket seemed to take me forever! Okay, not really but I have so many other things in the queue that I wanted it to be finished. I think it was the fringe! Plus the plaid matching, the hand sewing, the constant vacuuming. Okay, not really on that either, until I couldn't stand seeing all those little boucle fibers everywhere.  The final result:

jacket on me
Just think if I had done the real "Shanel" method, with the hand quilting. Although that does not seem so bad to me, I love hand sewing and if planned I could stretch it out over a few weeks at a relaxing pace. Next time. On my previous post Carolyn asked if I "planned to add any additional embellishment to the trim?"  As you can see in the photos, there is no blue trim to be seen. I did the fringe with the intention of putting the blue braid trim on last but when I was making the pockets it just looked weird to me. A bit too much, so I tossed that idea aside and just did only the fringe, which I am quite satisfied with. Perhaps the light blue braid trim is too much of a contrast on the black, so I will set it aside for a more springlike fabric pairing. 
Here is my final pocket design, small square pockets, hand sewn on with a fringe edge on top. Better, huh?

Pocket experimentjacket pocket2

The lining is silk charmeuse and I intentionally made it a tiny bit bigger than the jacket, it doesn't change the shape of the jacket on the outside but makes it roomy enough so that it does not pull across the shoulders during normal movement. There is a also small pleat in the lining center back.
I used silk organza for the neck and front edge with a one inch seam allowance, then turned that back and hand sewed with silk thread. I sewed the lining in by hand, up to the edge of the seam allowances.
So quite a few changes to this pattern which is Vogue 7975. If I made it again I might change the neckline a bit, maybe make a slight V-neck.

French jacket neckline organzaInside neckline1

lining front

jacket back
I am really happy with this plaid matching. And I have two more plaid wools in my recently acquired stash - should I keep going on a plaid kick? maybe a skirt. Or I am thinking of somehow blending two plaids in one jacket, could be great or an epic fail. 

The previous posts had a lot of details on construction. 
First post on this jacket: all about matching the plaid and some tips on marking.
Second post on this jacket:  some details on marking and sewing sleeves, plus a closer look at the fringe which is added to the jacket body.

jacket on  me 2
Who says we don't have fall color here in N. California?  Just a little bit sometimes. That is a crepe myrtle tree behind me turning all kinds of orange, plus the start of a few pale pink camellias in the background.
This jacket needs some other pieces, I have to figure out just what top to wear. That shirt was in the back of my closet but is just the right shade of blue to set off the boucle threads. I could see wearing this jacket over a solid color dress, blue or black. Or maybe a black suede skirt. 
For a change I accessorized, a la Chanel, pearls and another 50's vintage necklace from my dresser drawer, by way of mom. You can see the bracelet in the picture above. The color is much more white on the pearls, it came out a bit golden in the light when I took this photo. There are some earrings as well. I should wear that bracelet more often...

black white jewelry

Now on to the next thing(s).  
Happy almost Halloween,     Beth

Friday, October 25, 2013

Faux french jacket - more about sleeves

Hello stitchers and happy Friday! I am in the home stretch on this jacket and just getting to the point where I want it to be done. Always happens with coats and jackets, they are so much more involved than dresses, even this simple one. Plus my sewing room is a mass of black fibers as this boucle type fabric sheds constantly. Even migrating to the rest of the house. Do you ever see a dark squiggly thing on the floor and think it is a bug only to find on closer inspection it is a piece of thread? Happening extra often with this one.
Plus yesterday I was trying the jacket on for last fitting before doing the lining and trim when I decided that the fit was not quite right. Needs shoulder pads?  Something else? So I let it marinate during the evening, and finally decided that I should have narrowed the shoulders at the princess seam. Which is quite an easy adjustment with shoulder princess seams and one I could have done from the start. So now I have to open up those seams and adjust. Here is the jacket with some pins to indicate the alteration, about 1/2 inch out of the seam at the top tapering down about 5 inches frot and back. I am kicking myself as I did this same adjustment on this very similar Vogue 8865 blogged here and here.

shoulder seam change

OK, enough whining, now on to sleeves. I have noticed when I teach sewing students that sleeves are a big mystery to a lot of people.  How to fit, sew, ease, grade, press etc. They do have a lot of details that I think the pattern instructions, whether in Big 4 patterns or indies tend to omit or don't show in excruciating detail. The attention to detail and some tips can help take some of the pain out of sleeve sewing. In this post there is a run down of all my steps for putting in the sleeve in a tailored jacket if you want more info.
Getting a nice sleeve starts with marking the pattern pieces. Here are the upper and under sleeve pieces.
On the under sleeve it is easier to see, but on both sleeve parts there are both LARGE and SMALL dots. It is really important to mark these dots and use them.  When I was first sewing I never really paid attention to the various dots and it showed!
sleeve pattern pieces
Red arrow, back of sleeve is always double notch
When you mark your sleeve pieces mark all the dots. You know I love tailor's tacks so that is my method of choice and on a textured fabric like this boucle I think it is the only reliable method. The LARGE dots, circled in red are used to place the sleeve in the jacket body. There is another large dot at the top of the sleeve cap which I have not marked here but those are all match their corresponding large dots on the jacket front and back. The small dots circled in blue are for matching the seams of the under and upper sleeve to each other. Note they are on the seam allowance and when you match them up the top of the sleeve often looks kind of strange but it works.
Here is is with the upper and under sleeve sewn together. Once those pieces are sewn together the result is a sleeve that matches the armscye (armhole but I think it is fun to use this archaic sounding word). Some of the dots are close together and it is tempting to ignore them but it really does help to get the sleeve lined up properly. Same goes for all marking dots on patterns. It is very tempting to match up the top ends of the sleeve and just stitch but if you do that you will find they are off at the hem edge and your sleeve armhole will not be quite right. Although on this pattern they have continued the seam allowances out properly so you could do it that way. But I like to match the dots, for some reason it is like ticking items off a to-do list, as I go along a little voice in my head is saying matched here and here and here. Steps accomplished, yay! Small victories, but in a long process the little steps add up. 
sleeve muslin 2

My lining is sewn together and I need to do one more thing before I sew it in. Carolyn(cmarie12) asked if I was planning any other trim and the answer is yes. I have been experimenting with fringe and this is the result. The fabric is sewn onto strips of silk organza and then fringed. Last night I watched 2 hours of Project Runway (the reunion show, hilarious and those people are crazy) and then the All-Stars Episode 1, also crazy, but entertaining. While I pulled the threads and made fringe. Strangely relaxing and mindless occupation.  I think I will add the trim, fringe and multiple pockets...or will look at it and hear Tim Gunn's voice saying " edit edit edit".  Time and staring at my dress form will tell.

jacket fringe
Thanks for all the great comments and letting me know you appreciate the plaid matching tips. One comment really made me smile, from Laury who said "you have some mad skills". You have no idea how happy that concise comment made me. Big smile!
OK, off to meet a friend for lunch and then time to get this jacket completed - time to move on to the next thing. 
No garden photo today, everything is looking very dreary. And it is chilly today - I have to wear a jacket, and real shoes, eek, no more sandals for a while.  oooooh I so dislike autumn, despite the fun fabrics and patterns.  
Happy weekend sewing, Beth

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A little something of a jacket

It is easy enough to post about my latest project, but when it comes to writing the title I was stumped. This is in the style of, and mostly inspired by the classic Chanel but oh, so far from the meticulous versions I have seen recently. So I wanted to call this my "faux french jacket."  It is faux because the fabric does not deserve the full treatment, quilted lining and all but I wanted to play around with the pattern and proportion on a jacket for myself.

This boucle-ish fabric is some kind of wool and acrylic blend which has been in my storage closet for almost 3 years. To see my first use of it scroll down to the bottom of this post - which also has lots of tips on working with plaid. Appropriate as I decided to focus on plaid matching in today's post, in particular sleeves and how to match them to the body of the garment.

I did make a muslin of this jacket because I wanted to cut it apart and then use each muslin piece to cut out the boucle fabric in a single layer. That is really helpful for matching the plaids as you can see everything lining up and don't have to rely on the folded or doubled fabric layers staying aligned. It may not be visible but I have marked all dots and notches in pencil on the muslin and then will do tailors tacks.
French jacket cutting out

Ok, lets talk plaid matching. Firstly it is soooo much easier with an even plaid, which this is. If you look at older sewing and tailoring books they usually have great examples of even and uneven plaid. But my tip - stay away from the uneven ones unless you want to tear your hair out. 

French jacket muslin matching map
The red squares indicate places where the plaid should match. This fabric has 1" squares of blue thread and then a black metallic thread so I am using the blue as it is easily visible. I actually started with the front pieces, and matched at the center of the bust on the front princess seam and them moved from there. Depending on the style it may get wonky as you go around the jacket but you want the front to be the very best spot. Important NOTE:  the matching is at the seam line, not the edge of the muslin or the paper pattern piece. Does that make sense?  This is more noticeable at the shoulder, where the edge has a sharp angle. Sometimes it is not possible to match completely here, and a princess seam makes it a bit more tricky, but I just chose a spot and matched front and back. 
I made a note about the one inch seam allowance at the neck as that will come into play later.

Once I get the body of the jacket all stitched together then I cut out the sleeve. Sometimes I do it all at once but I think it is better to do it after, then you can use your muslin pieces and see where the notches etc. are actually landing on plaid.

French jacket sleeve matching
To place the sleeve on the plaid, I match the front single notch of the sleeve to the single notch of the jacket front body. If the pattern is properly designed, and you have kept on the straight grain then the sleeve should match at the armhole and match the jacket body as the arm hangs. This is a simple 2-piece sleeve, on a non-faux version it would likely be a three piece sleeve. But let's not get crazy for this not worthy fabric. For the under sleeve, I match at the top where the double notches are on the back seam. This seam is more likely to show than the front seam which is more hidden under the arm. Grainline is very important here, and then there is usually some ease on a good pattern for the elbow as I note above. 
I am pretty impressed with this pattern, Vogue 7975. I started with a size 12 which is my usual Vogue size and only adjusted a little at the hips. The sleeves fit very well into the armholes with no excessive ease. I am making View B which meets in the center front, no buttons. What is up with View A here? She is looking a bit stern and cranky as I would be if they put me in that weird neck bow version. 

V7975 pattern envelope

So after all my persnickety plaid efforts how did the sleeve turn out?  Here is a sneak peek at the jacket in progress. I am happy! Maybe this fabric is not so unworthy after all. In any case, the sleeve is just sewn on, no pressing or sleeve head yet. Plenty more steps and some sleeve sewing details in my next post. As for the trim, I got that last week at Discount Fabrics in Berkeley where I was pleasantly surprised to realize just how many unusual things they have on their shelves. Most trims were about $1.29 a yard. Every time I go there I pet all the leather and suede of these days I will buy one. So this trim,  I am still pondering but leaning towards yes, seems like this jacket needs a bit of punctuation and the color match is perfect. 

French jacket sleeve finished
Can you see my yellow tailor's tacks there in the princess seam?

So that is the progress so far on my "Shanel" and credit for that name goes to Goodbye Valentino who just finished her gorgeous classic version here

Truth be told I started this jacket as a dry run. One of my sewing clients inherited a piece of Irish wool from Avoca handweavers and it is going to be sewn into this style jacket, soon I hope. My mom has always wanted a Chanel style jacket so I think one could be in the works for her as well, with more of the classic handstitching details. She deserves it :)

So onward with my fuzzy ravel-ly black fabric, I am at the "just want to be done with it" stage.

Happy sewing,  Beth

Today's SunnyGal garden photo, some purpley blue asters which are outgrowing their pot.

Blue aster

Monday, October 21, 2013

A very quick post on T-shirts, Sewaholic Renfrew

According to the calender autumn has been here for a few weeks already, however for the most part I am still wearing sandals, shorts and lightweight summer dresses. And that is fine with me :) But one of these days I will need to dig out some sweaters. To that end I bought (finally) the Renfrew knit top pattern, solely for view C which is the cowl-y turtleneck version. Based on this first version I am very glad I did.

Renfrew cowl maroon
This was very much an experimental version using a tissue weight knit I ordered last year from Fashion Fabrics. I wasn't thrilled with when it arrived so I set it aside for who knows what. To make my first Renfrew cowl version I rummaged through my bin of knits, coming across this which seemed fine for a test version. Once I laid it on the cutting table I realized how sheer it was, and having a lot of yardage I decided to do a double layer for the front and back as I have seen on ready to wear. Worked like a charm and I actually do like it, and can see wearing it with my olive green corduroy jacket. Two items totally outside my usual color range but maybe time for some variety?
Here you can see how thin the fabric is.
Renfrew maroon close up
One of my layers was a bit raggedy as I was near the edge of the fabric and I meant to put that on the inside, but as you can see I did not. Oh well. I decided to leave the edges raw because I liked the look plus how could one hem that fabric? I'm sure there is a way but it seemed like a very fiddly fabric to hem.
Here is the pattern envelope showing the options. I also made the neckline of Version A on another top to see where that landed on the body, and as a comparison to my Jalie T-shirts which I really like.
Renfrew pattern envelope

This version below was definitely a test, just to see if I liked the shape and the neckline. On this pattern I made a size 10 and I really like how the armholes fit, although I narrowed the shoulders a bit on the version above. The top of the sleeve seam was about 3/4 inch further out than it should be but that is just my usual knit top adjustment. The top below is kind of a goofy knit I just bought at an ASG sale, it is the same type of knit as you find in golf shirts so not super stretchy. I will probably shorten the sleeves to a very small cap sleeve, take it in at the waist and maybe even cut the hem band off. Not crazy about that, I think a regular t-shirt hem would look better, but it is a good idea in terms of not having to do a hem on tricky fabrics. I think I prefer the neckline and band on the Jalie pattern so I will probably to some blending in the future if I make any more tees. Happy on the stripe matching if I do say so. There is a little bit off at the front upper arm but hey, the back looks good!
                        renfrew stripe frontrenfrew stripe back

As for my next project, I have tentatively stuck my toe into the French jacket pool and hope to have that finished this weekend. Not really an authentic version - more like a "faux" French jacket but something for myself to work out the details on fit and finish. My mom has always wanted one so perhaps hers will be the real thing, hand-sewing and all.

Here's hoping all your halloween costume sewing is completed by this weekend so you can move on to other things!
Happy Sewing, Beth

My SunnyGal garden photo for today, getting to be slim pickings this time of year, although I did spy a camelia yesterday. This one is basil, going to flower now with a background of red hibiscus.

Basil in flower

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The black denim jacket, final version, Part 2

Yesterday I did a post titled black denim jacket, final version however I ran out of time for blog writing so here is the real final version. In that post I have links to some of my previous posts with details on how to copy an existing garment and make a pattern. It is a really useful skill, particularly as it gives you a fitting shortcut since the original item usually has the fit you want. Even if you don't recreate exactly you can learn a lot by making a pattern from clothes you already own in terms of proportion and shape.

Denim jacket self-draft pattern on me
This is exactly what I wanted in a lightweight denim jacket, something to wear with black pants or prints that included black. I like that the fabric is not a solid but has slight charcoal grey tint and a linen-ish weave. Plus a touch of lycra which is nice as this style is very fitted so the lycra makes it very comfortable and not too tight across the shoulders. I wore this jacket on my vacation to Hawaii where you don't need a jacket in September but I always need something on the plane or airport since the AC is cranked up to ridiculous levels (to me who is always cold).
As I mentioned in the previous post, I made this pattern from an existing RTW jacket that I had in my wardrobe. I made the pattern from that jacket and actually sewed this very fast because the hem length, sleeves etc. were all done exactly as the original, so no measuring, no fitting, just quick sewing and a bit of topstitching. 

Denim jacket black with buttons finished front

Here is the original jacket that I used to create the pattern. The blue denim fabric is a bit heavier and so it holds its shape on the dress form but when worn they look pretty much the same. I never button it, not that type of jacket but it looks nice here so I did. 

Blue denim jacket front buttoned

Back view of new jacket. You can really see the fabric with all the slubs that make it different from plain denim. 

Back view black denim jacket
The original jacket had welt pockets and then pocket flaps that were sewn on above the welts. Which seemed like an odd way to do it, but actually is good because often with thick fabrics and a lot of layers, the pocket flap does not want to lay flat on a welt pocket. So the welt pocket is finished and then the flap is sewn about 1/4" above the welt. 
Pocket flap with button
I did have one oddball issue during construction. I put the sleeve on and it seemed kind of twisted, so I shifted the sleeve head, moving what I thought was the top of the sleeve about 1/2 inch forward. 
In image below, sleeve on left, not shifted and sleeve on right is shifted. Problem solved! I will chalk that up to slight issue with my patternmaking or marking. But happily not a big problem. 
Sleeve discrepancy
A look at the inside, unlined and all seams serged. I played around with the pockets on the inside and did a bit of improvisation, turning the seam allowances inside so there were no raw edges on the pocket bags.

black denim jacket inside out on form
Lastly the buttons. I think they cost more than the fabric for the jacket but that is OK, I am still under about $ 25 total. I brought my fabric swatch over to Stone Mountain and was looking at all the possible buttons but couldn't decide on anything. One of the women that works there came over and took a look at my choices, thought none of them were working and pulled out their latest shipment they had not even put on the shelf. She dug through the box for this exact button and insisted I use them (in the nicest possible way).  So almost $ 16 for buttons but I am very glad I bought these which are an interesting shade of brushed metal. 

Front pocket with buttons and hem
That is the last item for summer sewing, to me the weather is turning chilly (OK I know that is a relative term for all of you in the great northwest or east, not to mention Canada or parts of Europe). So time to change gears and pull out some wools. Confession: I just bought a nice wool tweed at Stone Mountain in a kind of pale plummy mixture, and so far have auditioned a number of patterns from my stash but so far no decisions. 

Happy weekend sewing, Beth

Today's garden photo is gardenias. A big planter box next to the front porch of my house holds 3 bushes so the smell is intoxicating as you come up to the front door. The gardenias in both the front yard and the few scattered around the back bloom profusely in the spring, kind of retreat in the super hot summer months and then go wild again in autumn.  More blooms to come, at least for the next month or so. Intoxicating!

Gardenias in October

Friday, October 11, 2013

The black denim jacket, final version in time for fall, Part 1

Have you ever felt like Goldilocks with your sewing?  I have been feeling a bit like that lately in my quest to make a lightweight jacket from an interesting black denim because nothing has been "just right." For my first version I tried a Simplicity pattern which seemed interesting and you can see the result here in this post. I even tried a new sorta fancy half-lining technique which was fine but not really worth the trouble. In the end I just didn't like the style or fit on me so I gave that jacket to my good pal Alice and it suited her very well.
Then I made the Jacket Express from Islander patterns, which is available via a Craftsy class. While I liked how it turned out that was mostly due to the red color and super soft denim fabric. You can see that jacket here in this post. I also did a review of the Craftsy class here.
But I still wanted a black denim jacket and every time I put on my old blue denim jacket I thought why isn't there a pattern just like it? That question bugged me and then one night around nine o'clock the proverbial lightbulb went off in my head and I realized the answer had been there all along. Right in my closet. So I grabbed that jacket and made a pattern from it.
Here is the original which is a Ralph Lauren dark blue denim jacket I bought at Macy's ages ago, maybe 7 years? and have worn so often. I like it because it is a shaped like a blazer, not a western style in the traditional Levi's blue jacket look (although I have one of those which is even older and I cannot part with, something so great about an old perfectly worn out Levi's jacket).
Blue denim jacket front buttoned
The fabric on on this original jacket is a little bit stiff, so you can see it holds its shape very well and give a nice curve at the waist. I realized that the latest version is much lighter fabric so doesn't have that shaping on the dress form but when worn looks just about the same. 
Here is the pattern I created using mostly the method described in this post. I use a combination of the rub-off method and a some educated guesswork, particularly for the sleeves which I find tricky but not impossible. You can see a fold in the main sleeve part where I had too much fabric on my tissue pattern piece so I folded it out.  Now can I say it, "Look Ma, no muslin". Yes, I confess I was in a giddy mood after I made this pattern and went directly to my fabric and cut it out. No testing at all :)
I do NOT recomend this but I just had a feeling it would be OK. Plus I did walk all the seams, and flat pattern measure against the original to check dimensions. At this point in my sewing life I can look at a pattern and judge that the dimensions look right, checking if the shape of the armhole or collar, the sweep of the princess seam seem correct. That is why I do a lot of adjusting on purchased patterns, in particular my pet peeve - dress patterns with a sleeved and sleeveless version, the sleeveless version is often so clunky and needs refinement. 
Self-made denim jacket pattern

When you make a pattern from an existing garment it is really important to give yourself a lot of guide marks for placement of things, all those notches and dots that we frequently ignore on a printed pattern are sorely missed when you do a self-made pattern. But it is easy enough to create them. Here is an example of the two front pieces and the collar.
Detail view self made jacket pattern

And this is the shoulder seam, I marked a dot where the front princess seam matched with the back shoulder seam, which may seem unnecessary but every little bit helps.
For interfacing I used Pro-Sheer Elegance Fusible, not sure if it was the lightweight or the medium weight but either way that stuff is the best and pretty much all I use now.
My sewing tip for this jacket is to press all the seams open before you press them flat. I hope this photo shows what I mean. That is the collar where I have trimmed the seams down to about 3/8 inch and then press open before turning right side and pressing the flat collar. If this were a wool jacket I would grade the seams but on this type of thin denim it is not really necessary. 
Pressing collar seams
OK, I am going to do it again, leave off here with a sneak peek. I just looked at the clock and need to get moving. I will try to post the finished jacket tomorrow.
Front pocket with buttons and hem

happy sewing and I hope you can stay out of the fabric stores - Halloween is just around the corner and their are some frantic costume makers shopping this weekend and next!

Today's SunnyGal garden photo is the lonely apple. Just three or four on the tree this year, it barely bloomed which was a complete mystery. And there is the colony of bees living in it so it should have been covered in apples. However it is a good thing because the apples are terrible and make a big mess. Thus I can admire the lonely apple and appreciate its pretty color knowing there are not hundreds to pick up!

the lonely apple

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tunic top for the queen of the kitchen

In early August I needed to zip over to Stone Mountain Fabrics in Berkeley for some lining. I was making a silk duppioni dress for a client and I wanted rayon bemberg lining in a matching shade, gold or light coral. I am appreciative that such a good shopping resource exists close by, they have a great selection of fashion fabrics but it is the supporting players - lining, interfacing, china silks, buttons, etc. that are often the make or break item which can be difficult to find.

I asked my mom if she would like to join me on my quick shopping excursion and she said "sure and could we stop at the Market Hall?" The answer is always "of course."  Another shopping venue that epitomizes life here in the bay area. Here is the link, Rockridge Market Hall, if you want to check it out. They do have an online store if you see something you can't pass by. The fresh pastas are some of the best I can find, and they have a great array of other goodies including a cheese shop, charcuterie and lots of items to taste. Are you a grazer? I cannot resist. They often have jams, mustards, cheeses, olives, fresh bakery items, I taste them all! Mom bought a selection of salads for our take-home lunch including a little tomato tart which she analyzed closely in order to recreate. Side note - I got the sewing bug, she has the foodie bug and loves to try restaurants for new inspiration. Then she really does recreate or try new items at home - and we in her circle are the very happy recipients of this effort.

When shopping at Stone Mountain we saw this fabric on the half price rack in the back of the store. The colors are so vibrant and I thought it would make a nice tunic top. It is 100% cotton, but seems a bit nicer than ordinary quilting fabric and once washed it was plenty soft to wear.

Swirl tunic for J
For the contrast pieces I found a 100% linen upstairs in the half-price section and bought a yard because I think it would be useful for accent or trim next summer if I ever get around to making a top like this for myself. 
This style may look familiar as I made a top like this for her last year, here is that post Garment Clone - Tunic Top. There are details in that post on how I copied a RTW wear top she already had to create the pattern.
I did make a slight boo-boo by making the center V a bit too deep, looking at the original it has buttons so I need to make a note on my pattern piece for the future. I put a piece of the blue linen to fill in the neckline and I think it looks OK. Maybe it needs some buttons? I will have to rummage in the button box. 

Swirl tunic close up
Post-vacation I am not really in a sewing mood, this is just about the only item I have made since I returned. Maybe because it is fall and time to put away these luscious beachy colors?  Only 264 days until summer here :)
As for the garden, on Saturday I bought these from a local grower so I hope to have some fresh salad greens just outside the back door. I am planting in larger containers and hoping to keep the garden mauraders away. Arugula, mache and rainbow chard.
Happy sewing, Beth

New greens