Friday, November 22, 2013

Fabric choices and a Tunic style Renfrew

Do you think some people have an extra-special talent for choosing fabrics? I do. We all have those garments where pattern, style and fabric are a marriage made in heaven. Sadly we also suffer through the opposite were the fabric is fighting us all the way and the end result shows it. A trip around the sewing blogisphere shows so many creative uses of interesting fabrics. I find lots of inspiration and occasionally a desire to copy outright.
Do you start with the fabric or the pattern? For me it mostly starts with the pattern, I am more attracted to shapes and techniques and then I find the fabric in the color family that I like.
Currently I am making a few garments for someone who had already purchased the fabric and her choices got me thinking about it. This is unusual as most often I work with a sewing client from the beginning to choose both the style and the fabric. In this case I think she has a real eye for choosing interesting and beautiful fabrics and the results have been a good stretch for my creativity.

She wanted a top made from a textured sweater knit and described a "drapey turtleneck type top". Which made me laugh a bit because I had been so wanting to get the Sewaholic Renfrew top pattern and that is why I made a few test versions last month before cutting into her lovely fabrics. By the way, all her fabrics were purchased at Stone Mountain in Berkeley.
Here is her Renfrew top, which I lengthened to be more of a tunic as she requested.
First a close up of this interesting fabric, very Missoni-like don't you think?

Renfrew fabric tunic

Renfrew tunic
A few sewing details. I put a strip of knit fusible interfacing along the hems and then turned up about one inch and stitched. I lengthened the top about 5 inches? something like that, as much as the yardage would allow. I sewed this on the standard sewing maching, straight stitch and then after it was put together I serged the seam allowances. I don't like to serge things before they are sewn together, I think it distorts the pieces. 

The item that I sewed first from her stack of fabrics was this dress made of silk duppioni. I have kind of a love-hate relationship with silk duppioni fabric, the colors are fantastic, it does press beautifully but the dress/design needs to fit perfectly and the pattern needs to be a good one as there is no fudging the seams or easing sections like you can with a nice malleable wool. 
This plaid fabric really scared me, I was actually kind of shocked when she pulled it out of the bag and said she wanted a dress. I think this looks much better as worn rather than on the dress form, the warm bronze and coral colors give the wearer a golden glow and it is very pretty. 

Anne dress front
Anne dress back

Some sewing details, I used New Look 6643 which is my favorite basic sheath dress pattern. I made a muslin for fit, ended up lowering all the darts by about 3/4" and then made full pattern pieces (both sides of the front and back) so I could lay the full pattern pieces on the single layer of fabric and hopefully match the plaids everywhere. One thing to note when making a dress with plaid, if you have bust darts at that side seam, you must match below the dart. I recall I jumper I made in junior high where I carefully matched at the top of the side seam and then cried when I sewed it up and saw my mistake. Good learning lesson!

Anne side dress match             Anne dress bust dart

My last interesting project for her will be a 3-piece outfit (if yardage allows). The sheer embroidered silk will be a floaty jacket and the silk charmeuse will be a pajama style pant and sleeveless tank.
I plan to line the pants and tank with bemberg rayon. It is interesting how the design on the sheer fabric shows more when contrasted with the darker grey silk.
grey silks2
Here is the pattern I am using for the jacket. I like the style of this but the pattern has turned out to be very problematic but I have finally succeded in making a muslin that fits nicely. So this weekend will be all about sewing silk.
Vogue8089 jacket

In garden news I impulsively bought bags of daffodils and tulips the other day - I cannot resist the colors on the packages - so those will need to be stuck in the ground. Then I will be on squirrel watch. Last year I read that the brown papery layer on tulip bulbs are like potato chips for squirrels and they find them irresistible. Nature, a constant battle even in suburbia.

Happy weekend sewing,  Beth

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Sewing book Giveaway Results

Here are the winners of the sewing book giveaways:

First random draw is comment # 15, that is Carol S

Singer sewing for style cover  Drawing result # 1

Second random draw is comment # 30, that is Shar

Palmer book coverDrawing result # 2

So if you would email me and I will get your sewing books in the mail next week.
sunnygalstudio (at) gmail (dot) com.

I will keep on the lookout for more of these Singer books and I suggest you check your local library system. Search "sewing" in the catalog and you will be quite amazed at how many they have. My county library system is very good and I put an on-line request whenever I see a new book that seems interesting, have it transfered to the hold shelf at my local branch and pick it up at my convenience.  Use those local libraries so governments will know we treasure them!  Confession I checked out the BurdaStyle book 3 times - remember this coat I made last year?

Also a quick search on Etsy (search words: Singer sewing book) yields a few of this series as well as quite a few vintage books.  You can tell the books in this Singer series that I am referring to, they all have the same style cover, a photo superimposed with Singer in red and the title in white letters. There are a few copies available of "Sewing for the Home" and I can't tell you how many times I have referred to that one. It shows all the variations on decorative pillows, window coverings and comforters/bedspreads etc.

Thanks for all your great comments on my black tweedy plaid jacket and you have motivated me to do more process and technique posts in the upcoming months. 

happy sewing, Beth

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Time for a Giveaway: in Autumn we turn to Tailoring

There are a lot of good sewing books out there but my favorite is the series of Singer Sewing Reference books. They have clear explanations and great photos to illustrate any technique. I have a couple that I bought ages ago in a bookstore but over the years I have found many of them at estate and ASG stash sales. If you see one, buy it!
Topics include Knits, Pants that Fit, Home Dec, Time-Saving tips, Formalwear, and my favorite, Tailoring.  I see they are available on Amazon (search Singer sewing reference library). Books with illustrations (only) just don't do it for me, the way this series photographs the works in process and also shows many alternative methods is really key to my understanding a technique.
I am always on the lookout for these books and this week found one that I already have in my library, so how about a giveaway?

Singer sewing for style cover
The title is a bit misleading because it mostly about technique and construction, and covers a lot of tailoring as well. I don't know how they cram so much into a relatively thin paperback. They include pockets (all kinds), facings, creating a lining, lapels, shoulder shaping, shirt collars etc.
Example of page from the book: how to sew a shirt collar with a stand. That looks a whole lot more comprehensible than the instruction sheet in a pattern. 

Style book page collar stand

Second find for the giveaway and now I will contradict myself! These Palmer and Pletsch paperbacks are only illustrated, no photos but they are good. Very clear. If you are a beginning to intermediate sewist I suggest reading this like a novel - run through the whole book and just let it sink in. Perhaps these P & P books are the graphic novel for the sewing set. Lots of good tailoring info and they include tips on fitting, fusibles and timesaving techniques. 

Palmer book cover

So leave a comment if you would like to be in the drawing for one of these books (random drawing, first name gets first book, second name gets second book.)  International is OK. 

If you are a member of Pattern Review and you liked my Faux French Jacket, I entered it in their Lined Jacket Contest. The voting is now open until the 9th so click over there and vote for me today :). Despite thinking it was an item that would have limited usefulness, I have worn this jacket so many times in the last week and really love it. So all that fringe-making and hand stitching was worth it!

jacket on  me 2

As for my previous post on the potential refashions, thank you for lots of great suggestions and I will report back in an upcoming post. Not sure when I will get to them as I suddenly have quite a sewing to-do list plus I feel like re-organizing my sewing space....eeek.


Edit:  drawing closed now (11/9, 10:30am Calif. time).  I just did the random number picks and will be posting later this afternoon. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Struck with a passion for refashion and I need some suggestions

Merci beaucoup for all the great comments on my faux french jacket. I wore it today when took a shopping trip over to Stone Mountain in hopes of finding something to make a top but didn't see anything that grabbed me. I am about to start on a similar jacket for a sewing client using the same pattern but the look will be very different, more on that soon.

Recently I got together with my neighborhood friends for a clothing swap. Great way to clean out the closet of some no longer worn items and maybe get something new. Of course I intended to come away with nothing but more space in my closet but instead I got 3 pairs of pants, including some black jeans. Yeah! No shopping or trying on in stores, just a fun get together (drinks involved and lots of encouragement). In preparation for swapping I did a closet clean out and came across some items that I never wear but seem like they might be good candidates for some refashioning. So I am looking for suggestions, please chime in.
First up is this suit I made about 9 years ago, pattern date is 2004. Dates back to my former life of tedious meetings negotiating with ambitious people all trying to outsmart each other. Yikes, could it be any more serious?
Business executive nun?  Tweedy schoolmarm or librarian? (no offense to any of these lovely vocations). What was I thinking? Although I didn't run around with the jacket all buttoned up like that of course. Wore it with a silk top, nice heels etc. I don't like black but this fabric tempted me to try it.

black white suit
                                        black white suit skirtBlack white suit jacket
Separately the pieces have potential. I played around with the skirt and I think that changed into a pencil skirt instead of the A-line I would wear it this winter. It even has a hidden inside pocket at the waist for my mad money and business cards. Prepared, just like a boy scout! Looking at the technical drawing I can see why this jacket fits so well, it avoids the issue I often have of too wide across the top with the front shoulder and back neckline darts. Also I see that I used a size 10 instead of a 12 so I am definitely going to try that on my next Vogue and save some narrow shoulder alteration. A very nice shape I might revisit. It's the little puny collar that bugs me.  What about lopping that off and changing it to a V-neckline? or some other kind of collar.  Ideas welcome.

bl-wh jacket closeup
            V7947 pattern envV7947 tech drawing

Item # 2:  faux fur coat in deep emerald green.  Yes this one is a bit wacky but I have worn it enough to justify making this - maybe 17 years ago?  OK, now you can see that I keep almost everything I make (at least in the coat or jacket category, I do let go some dresses/skirts etc that are past their prime)

green faux fur front

It is a very nice quality of faux fur, despite the color, which actually looks near black at night. The big shawl collar is so cosy. Just imagine wearing for a long car ride home from a party on a late winter night - like having a blanket to snuggle into. Having other coats now I never wear this but hate to part with it. What about a long tunic type vest, maybe with a soft black leather belt for a closure?  Suggestions please!

Item # 3:  men's cashmere overcoat. This one is quite a find. My sister called me one Saturday morning, she was at the local thrift store which was having a 50% off everything sale. She is quite the one for finding expensive handbags among the array of worn out vinyl or cloth bags. So she said, do you want a men's cashmere coat for $ 20? Her words were "I think you can make something with this...maybe for me"  After my initial confusion as to what it was I said yes, absolutely, buy it! I figured it would be in a sorry state but this is what brought home. It seems to have been never worn, or so we thought until we found $ 5 and change in the pockets. But believe me I have lived here all my life and do not know any men who wear overcoats  - it is just not cold enough for that here. The label is Dillards which I believe is in Texas? or somewhere back east. It is labeled 100% cashmere and very luscious. There are few seams which means lots of fabric but do I dare cut it up?  So I am very much wanting to refashion it into some type of jacket for my sister but still giving it thought and welcome yours.

Black cashmere coat front
Those are my potential refashion projects, the second and third are quite daunting and would take a lot of commitment.  If you have any ideas or style suggestions please leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.

Happy weekend sewing and enjoy the extra hour of sleep,  Beth