Saturday, December 27, 2014

Plaid wool blazer jacket with velvet collar

This is the time of year when blog posts about new sewing projects get a bit thin on the ground. Not that I can blame anyone, it is a good time to step away from the sewing machine and devote oneself to all the other fun things that the holidays bring. But the day after Christmas is definitely downtime for me, perfect for a snooze on the couch or wrapping up in a blanket with a screen propped up on my lap. Time to scroll through my blog list and catch up on reading. But where are the new projects? Not so many yesterday and completely understandable. And I include myself in that group - not as many new projects this year which perhaps is a good thing.
So here is my latest project which I had thought about waiting to post until next week, but it is all finished and I have the urge to use some knits + new patterns so this will probably not be the last item sewn in 2014.

Now that it is finished I am not all that sure about it. I love the fabric, the pattern, the collar, but on the whole it leaves me less than thrilled and I can't say why.

plaid jacket front

Although I do love the fabric, which I bought (where else) at the sale table at a sewing guild, for I think about 2 dollars. Is this plaid called Black Watch? Tartan enthusiasts please let me know. I might be second to no one in my admiration and desire for all of Duchess Kate's gorgeous coats, and she has worn a McQueen coat in this or a similar plaid. 
In my previous post I showed a couple of construction details, with the interfacing in the collar which is all from Fashion Sewing Supply. For the under collar I used Pro-Weft lightweight and then Pro-Sheer Elegance Medium for the upper collar/lapel. Once I had the whole jacket sewn together but for the sleeves I gave it a try on (didn't need to prior as this is version 3 for this well-fitting pattern) and I was slightly disappointed in myself for not interfacing the rest of the front. I don't know what I was thinking as I was making this, just sewing very quickly and not really paying attention except when doing the velvet collar. (Where I used my velvet needle board, see this old post for details on pressing nap fabrics such as velvet, which by the way is the same Simplicity pattern as this jacket).

Plaid jacket inside front
So this is me being super-picky but if I had my thinking cap on when sewing I would have interfaced that princess portion you see there partially covered by the shoulder pad. Why? because once I tried it on it sunk a little bit and made a hollow in the upper chess that I didn't like. I thought about slapping some interfacing on it but it was all sewn together so decided I could live with it. But then I rummaged through my shoulder pad drawer and found these you see above which I think are more for a man's suit than a woman's. Very wide, I had to trim and grade them near the neck edge to fit into that shoulder area but they extended down along the chest and do a perfect job to prop up the fabric in that area. They are thin, so don't really add any height at the shoulder but just do the job to support the shoulder seam. I put a sleeve head of bias lambswool sewn in by hand. The sleeves on this pattern are so easy to insert, no ripples or extra ease but they fit perfectly. Interesting, although thinking back I have not had any problems with sleeves on Simplicity patterns, perhaps that is an area where their patterns are just right. 
Here is the pattern envelope, Simplicity 2455, and based on that styling it is kind of frumpy (what else is new?). I chose this ages ago because the jacket has the hint of peplum without being too ruffly or full, plus shoulder princess seams.

And so far I have ignored the real elephant in the room for this project, Plaid Matching! And I am quite satisfied. This pattern has the front lapel piece continuing down to the bottom and then extending out to the side seam creating the peplum portion, so the matching started in the front and then matching the front bodice pieces to the lapel. Then I continued around to the back pieces. I did do the "cut and flip" single layer method to get mirror image pieces.

plaid jacket under lapelplaidjacketback

Since I was working with barely 2 yards it was a bit challenging and I cut the sleeves out last. In fact I thought I might have to piece them, maybe with a velvet cuff but thankfully  - ha - I have very short arms so there was enough fabric. Note that the sleeve doesn't match exactly at the top of the shoulder but as your eye travels down the sleeve it matches the horizontal rows across the body. That was my goal, I like a plaid that matches across the body and sometimes you have to sacrifice the top of the sleeve matching. I would love to know how Burberry does it, I have seen plaid coats that match everywhere - I suspect they design the pattern and all the ease to utilize a specific plaid and it is one system - or their special tailoring magic :)

Someone mentioned in a previous comment that they like to see the insides so here you go. This lining is something I found in the upstairs sale section at Stone Mountain, it says "Guess" in the pattern so we know where that comes from. I think it is acetate which I like to use for cold weather jackets, as it is nice and slippery over sweaters and presses well. The lining is sewn in by hand and I pleated the peplum portion to reduce bulk in that waist seam. I added a patch pocket on the lining big enough to hold my slim new phone (my holiday toy). Note that I generally sew the lining in by hand because I am not a fan of the bagging a lining method and I like to tack down the lapels to the jacket front so they can't shift. Here is a link to a previous post where I show this step.

plaid jacket full lining

And the hem with interfacing along that edge (more Pro-Weft) plus a little pleat in the lining to allow for movement.

plaid jacket hem

Another pattern repeat for 2014. I have made this jacket twice before and wear both versions all the time. Perhaps because they are made with slightly casual fabrics and fit well into my day to day wardrobe. Food for thought...

Link to olive green corduroy version                    Link to blue uncut corduroy version

     Olive cord jacket frontBlue cord jacket front

And a look at the velvet collar. Which I added not for any style or fashion choice but because wool can be itchy but velvet is not!  So a velvet collar makes this jacket more wearable and eliminates the itch factor.

plaid jacket velvet collar

So this is the last jacket of 2014. But I am sure there are more to come in 2015. If I get organized I will try to take a photo of this jacket on me and add to the post. 

I hope everyone had a great holiday and is enjoying the long weekend. Nothing to do in the garden this week other than watch the leaves pile up and notice a few daffodils starting to peek out of the ground. 

Happy almost New Year,  Beth

today's garden photo - the oranges are just about ripe. I was worried about a this year's crop as the drought made them look kind of forlorn but the welcome rain seems to have done wonders and they have plumped up nicely. Valencia oranges, not great for eating but just right for juice. Plus they don't have to be picked like navel oranges, so can stay on the tree all year round.


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Holiday Greetings

The holiday sewing is finished, 
the presents are wrapped, 
the cooking is underway 
and I want to wish everyone 
a very Merry Christmas.

Tree pin

Thank you so much for reading my blog. Meeting with other sewing enthusiasts, whether in person or on-line has been the gift that the internet sewing world has provided these past few years.  
Up next will be a post on the jacket pictured above, and I plan to start the Burda coat after the holiday. 

Have a wonderful holiday !


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Pattern Whisperer creation and tailoring sneak peek

Happy Holidays and welcome to so many new readers. I noticed a whole lot of clicks the other day and then Karen's post on Tailoring Resources popped up in my blog reader. Thanks for the compliments, Karen! As it happens I have a tailoring project in the works right now with another one planned.

Holiday party season is approaching - or actually upon us and I selected Rachel of SewSouthLondon as my first Pattern Whisperer choice for some party dress pattern advice. I gave her a bit of a challenge by recommending Vogue 1342 but knew she could do it. And wow, has she ever !!! Gorgeous. I love it on her and especially love the color which looks fantastic. I won't spoil the details but just give you a sneak peek at her and urge you to pop over to her blog to see the full effect.

Rachel sample
Rachel of Sew South London in her Pattern Whisperer dress selection
If you are in the midst of party dress sewing, there are plenty of other recommendations in my post for party dresses patterns that have lots of opportunities for a good fit so check it out.

Now making a u-turn from party dresses, moving on to tailoring. In between sewing other things this December I decided to make a wool jacket. I had a piece of plaid wool flannel that just seemed very holiday-ish without being red and green so I decided to extract it from the stash and sew it up. And I thought OK, this will be a straightforward project, no fitting, using an old pattern...However, plaid !

That is guaranteed to add extra work to any project. Thankfully this is an even plaid (here is a link to some plaid tips from an old post). But I was able to sew this up fairly quickly and now it just needs the lining sewn in. 

I find the key to getting a good result on jackets is all about the interfacing. Well that, and trimming and grading, pressing, basting....ok a lot of things are needed. 
Below you can see the various interfacings used, all from Fashion Sewing Supply. Note that I have stitched down the neckline seam allowances using a catch stitch. Here is a link to an old post with some details on doing that.

plaid jacket collar interfacing

And just a hint of my pickiness on small details.  I have the sleeves basted in  (I always baste sleeves first)  and see how the shoulder seam got caught flipped back on the one on the right. I will unpick that section and restitch flat. Might seem like a small detail but it is an easy fix and if not done there might be a slight bump there that cannot be eliminated later. 

plaid jacket sleeve seams

When I was doing the collar I noticed this and thought it made the one of the best illustrations of the turn of the cloth that I have done. Collars are three-dimensional (duh, all clothes are but you know what I mean) Collars don't lie flat on jackets, they rise up from the neck and fold over toward the jacket back. So the upper collar needs to be longer than the under collar and that difference needs to be maintained when sewn but even more importantly when pressed.

Turn of the cloth3
That's all for this jacket now, I hope to finish it by this weekend and start wearing right away. Under my rain jacket when out and about - as it is raining a lot. This is our holiday gift for California this year :)

Happy almost Christmas sewing,  Beth

Here is today's garden photo - the bright red camellia blooming just in time for the holidays. These blooms are so big and are adding a nice spot of color to the otherwise drab winter garden.

camelia red 2014

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sew a child's apron - new post on the Craftsy Blog

Are you making progress on your holiday sewing? I am giving myself a break this year - sewing very few holiday gifts this year which certainly takes the pressure off. I have ordered so many things online, such a civilized way to shop! Everything comes full circle. Somehow ordering via the web and having packages delivered by the cute UPS guy makes me think of history lessons we learned in school here in the west. Is this is the 21st century version of that iconic Wells Fargo stagecoach bringing goods to our pioneer forefathers (and mothers) living in isolated towns, waiting impatiently for their shipment of muslin and calico, needles and thread? Not to mention Christmas trees - if you believe what you see in Hollywood movies or TV commercials.

I digress - back to holiday sewing. I have a new post up today on the Craftsy blog, with a quick step-by-step photo tutorial on how to make a child's chef apron. And my neighbors proved to be great models :)

Apron blog post

In other sewing news, I have started another blazer jacket (I know - how many jackets can one person wear). I had a piece of fabric that was just begging to be sewn up for the holiday/winter season so I plan to finish that today. Wool + Plaid + velvet = I will wear it immediately.
Thanks for all the great comments on the Burda dress. It does look great on her. Bonus, I have a small remnant of fabric remaining which might become a V1247 skirt for me.

OK - back to the sewing machine! with a detour later to plant more bulbs. A little late in the season but I went into the garden center to buy a gift for someone else and came out with that plus some half off bulbs. I am helpless in the face of discounted plants. pathetic !

Happy Holiday Sewing, Beth

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Burda plus 11/2013 #113B - sew this dress now !

Every once in a while I come across a pattern that I think is just perfection and this is one of them. Not to say that it didn't need a bit of fitting adjustment which is normal but the shape, the style, the simplicity and the details are in my opinion, fantastic! This was one of my Pattern Whisperer picks for really good daytime or work dresses and now that I have sewn it up I think so even more. (Plus the model looks so glam in her sunglasses).  This one is Burda Plus #113B 11/2013.

Burda plus 113B

I showed this pattern to my friend and sewing client Heather and she instantly said yes, so we added this one to our list of items to find fabric for on a recent trip to Britex. She wanted a few dresses that would work for winter, be right for office wear and warm also. I found the fabric among the wool knits and I am not really sure what you would categorize it, maybe a sweater knit? I want to call it marled but my yarn knowledge is nonexistent. Kind of a black white grey blend and nicely stretchy but substantial.

Here she is modeling the dress. Apologies for a not very good photo - she came by to pick it up very late on a grey day so the light is not ideal. I have so much trouble finding a good spot to take indoor photos. Anyway - I think it looks great on her, the darts give nice shaping and I really like the neckline that adds a nice bit of interest.

Burda plus 113B Grey Sweater dress

OK, some details and better photos. Here it is on the form (and obviously one of those items that looks so much better on a real body than the dress form.) I lightened up the photo a bit so you can see the dart detail.

Burda plus 113B front darts

I mentioned in a post a few weeks ago that I was sewing up this pattern and had added an additional horizontal bust dart so here are the details. This is the front bodice pattern piece before adjustments, note it has a center seam, a large dart which starts from the bottom inside edge, and then a small shoulder dart. I played around with it on the dress form as well as doing comparison by flat pattern measure and decided to do a bit of a full bust adjustment and add another dart to increase the "three-dimensionality" of the bust area.

Burda plus 113B bodice front original

So here is the adjusted pattern piece.  Below are listed the changes made which are noted by my scribbly red numerals.

Burda plus 113B bodice front adjusted

  1. Moved the outside edge of the shoulder seam in about 1/2 inch as she is rather narrow in the shoulders as compared to bust measurement. (same slight adjustment on bodice back)
  2. Lowered the front neckline about 1/2 inch as it was proportionally too high for her height.
  3. I should have numbered these in reverse, as I did # 4 first. I drew a line sort of parallel to the center edge up to the tip of the big center dart, and then continued to the armhole. I cut a slice from the side seam to the tip of the dart, as if there was a horizontal bust dart there and then spread the whole thing in typical FBA fashion until I had added the amount I wanted, about 1 1/4 inches. So now I had a dart on the side seam but I didn't like the placement and angle of it, so I measured the amount, and then drew it up higher and at a more pleasing angle. Also note the tip of that dart stays well away from the big waist dart. No need to connect the dots there - that would not be a good look !   Lastly I added the additional width added in the center waist to the outside edge of the skirt front. 
Once I had made these adjustments the front shaped really well and I think the side dart makes a good change on this pattern if the wearer is very full busted. Here is a look at the bodice, hard to see that dart but that is a good thing - it is doing its job but is not a prominent feature.

              Burda plus 113B side view 2Burda plus 113B side view

Other adjustments: I had to shorten the back bodice by a good 1.5 inches in the center tapering out to the side seams. It is hard to know just where the skirt should be on someone else, so for her I always baste it on but then adjust on the body. I did a slight bicep adjustment on the sleeve but the real adjustment was to shape the side seams so that the dress fit in a curve hugging way at the waist. The only way to do that is just try it on and pin+baste, and continue until the fit is just right. I like how this dress is slightly pegged at the hem.
I did a full lining using a knit fabric. My solution for lining these knit dresses is to use a poly knit which is usually in the dance wear or active wear section at Joann fabrics. The back has the same diagonal dart detail as the front.

Burda back lining

All in all, a very flattering silhouette with the darts and neckline to make it different from the standard sheath dress. I think it will work well for spring/summer in a print and with short sleeves, and I could even picture it as a two-color version with a solid bottom and maybe a print on top to give a blouse/skirt effect. I even suggested it could be a knit top as well.

Pattern satisfaction ! In a few weeks I will do my year end analysis and this one is definitely in the top tier of pattern for 2014.

In other news, after all our worrying about the drought we are poised for a tropical storm tonight and for the next few days, with up to 10 inches of rain in some areas. So yay for us! My garden (and the farm economy of our state) will hopefully recover. Plenty of sewing plans this weekend, hoping to get back to that Burda coat and I think I will sneak one more wool blazer in before the end of the year. A few Christmas gifts to be sewn, and who knows what else will distract me before the year is over.

Happy December sewing,  Beth

And here is my garden photo which I took last week, a sight I have not seen in a while. While the birdbath needs a good scrubbing, the birds don't care as I am sure they are happy to have it filled with rain.


Monday, December 1, 2014

The Goldilocks top - a self designed Tunic top in cotton voile

For the longest time I have wanted a lightweight tunic top in my wardrobe, but somehow never got around to making one. Like Goldilocks every fabric was too heavy, too thin, the wrong color or some other issue. Also I am not a fan of woven tops, I have a few button front shirts but otherwise mostly wear knit top or t-shirts when I am dressing in separates. But there is something about the classic tunic top that appeals to me, very beachy and relaxed.

It just needed the perfect fabric which I found on Gorgeous Fabrics earlier this year. (to my surprise it appears they still have some). It is a cotton voile from Milly, which is one of my favorite NY designers. Someone recently said to me that all the items that I sew are "so you". Which is a little bit indefinable but I know what they were getting at. I think that is a big part of sewing success, at least for me. Sticking to things that I know appeal to me in either color, shape or fabrication means a better chance of liking the finished garment.

Here is my finished tunic top which I made by adapting a basic shirt pattern into the tunic shape and then designing the placket. There was a slight ulterior motive in this as I wanted to write a post for Craftsy on designing and sewing a tunic top using a basic shirt pattern.

TUnic top on form

I am sure for some this fabric might seem a bit wild but I love it, the color combination is definitely "so me". And it is the lightest, most comfortable cotton voile which feels lovely to wear.

Sorry this picture is a bit blurry, my camera is driving me crazy and getting my family to take blog pics when on vacation is not high on their agenda :)  Also overexposed? or the light was fading a bit so the color of the top is off. The view above on the dress form is more accurate.

Tunic top on me2

The placket is a lightweight 100% linen, with some fusible knit interfacing to give it a bit of shape at the seams. I played around with it a bit and then decided it need the punctuation of white piping against the turquoise placket. I didn't have any piping so just used some white bias tape which works well as piping on something like this. 

Tunic top close up

The post on Craftsy has what I think is my ultimate tip on pressing and shaping the neckline placket - so take a look over there for lots of details! I would post the construction details here but I am swamped with projects so for the sake of time will just refer to that Craftsy post. Also there will be a part 2 so I will edit here to include that link. The Part 2 post has my method for creating the clean finish neckline with no facings which is certainly not original but hopefully a good explanation.
Edit 12/1/14:  Here is the link to the Part 2 post on sewing the top.

Tunic top inside sleeve

Tunic top back

Oh how I love this fabric. That makes 2 items sewn with cotton voile this year that have turned out to be favorites, the other one was this Vogue 1353. There is something about cotton voile that is just so breezy and floaty, it feels delicious but you have to choose the right style to take advantage of its qualities. 

I am in serious sewing mode trying to finish a bunch of things that need to get done here in early December. I finished a dress I mentioned in my last post, the Burda 11/2013 #113B dress with the interesting diagonal darts and that dress is a WINNER! Fantastic pattern and I will give you a look plus some details on a few adjustments including adding another bust dart for shaping. 

Whew I can't believe Thanksgiving has come and gone. In between other stuff this weekend I did plenty of on-line holiday gift shopping. Hoping to do it all that way but not likely. And it is just as difficult to avoid the "one for them and something for me" syndrome when shopping on-line as it is in the stores!

Happy December Sewing, Beth

Here is the hydrangea in the back corner of the garden, where I take most of my photos in the summertime. By now it has faded to a lovely autumn shade of purple, to complement the grape leaves turning gold that trail behind it and up the fence.

autumn hydrangea

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Coats and other things in process

Sometimes I start writing a post and choose a title, but then have so many alternatives that could have been used.  They stick in my mind as subtitles, footnotes, sarcastic asides, admonitions to myself and all manner of other ways to describe what I am doing. This one could have been "things I have spent time sewing that I shouldn't devote time to right now" or "items I started sewing that I really don't need" or "garments that someone is waiting for and I better hurry up and finish".  So that is where my sewing is this weekend, a bit scattered but definitely some goals on the horizon.

The weather has taken a very welcome turn and we are getting rain! Time for the happy dance or just a very big thank you to the weather gods as the water situation in most of California is still quite desperate. We won't be the Golden State but instead the golden brown state if it is not a good winter, plus how will we have a chance to wear our winter creations? OK, minor point in the scheme of things but all in all the stormy weather is so welcome and a great reason to pour myself a cup of coffee and settle into the sewing room for a nice long session.

Here is what I am doing this weekend. Or in this case I should say did. Last night I whipped up this muslin version of Burda. I think it looks fantastic, even in this version on the dress form.  Note to self : do not use swedish tracing paper to make test garments of coats or jackets. It does not have the feeling or ease of fabric, even muslin is better. I think it fits but is strangely constricting for movement in the shoulders and arms. After I tried it on I compared the paper pattern pieces to those for my blue Burda coat, same size (40) and they measure near identically. I attribute it to the tracing paper which has some pluses for pattern tracing but maybe not so good for size testing on a coat. Also I had already taped together the pdf, and drawn in the seam allowances, so late last night only had to cut out the coat and stitch it up  - yet that took me about 2.5 hours. waaaay longer than a muslin usually takes. 11pm sewing after a long week, not a good idea, at least not for me.

Burda coat muslin

The pattern is this one, a BurdaStyle PDF pattern which I fell for the minute I saw it in their email. It is the Shawl Collar Coat 11/2014 # 111. Not sure if it also appeared in any of their magazines and it does have that dreaded tiny dart in the front princess bodice seam which I despise, but I decided overall it is a lovely coat and something quite different for me.
Burda coat 111 shawl collar pattern
When I actually sew up this coat I will give more details on pattern alteration and the inside scoop on the insides (interfacing etc) which is yet undecided. I will be using the fabric mentioned in this previous post. It is very soft and seems like a good match for that collar. But we shall see!
purple grey wool
One more coat fitting item to mention, I am starting to like using these Burda patterns that have no seam allowances. For flat pattern fitting they are quite good in that you can measure the pattern pieces without having to mentally subtract all the 5/8" seam allowances that are on the Vogue etc patterns (which don't get me wrong - I like having them there). But let's make lemonade from the lemon in the sense that you have to take the extra step to add them, but the benefit is that checking the finished garment measurements is easier. 

Using the finished garment measurements is the only way I can decide if something is going to fit. I don't ever depend on the pattern size, or previous experience/history. I measure every pattern......and I like to make notes right on the pattern at the appropriate spot. If I write it on one of the pattern pieces then it is there for my future reference. Here is an example of my scribble and if I made a math error never mind. Who knew that paying attention to the school lessons on fractions would be so critical in the future ? Not little 2nd grade me. Funny what things from school are so useful everyday and what things now seem so useless.  Also note that the finished Hip measure is larger than my hip measure by 5-6 inches and that is totally necessary for a coat. Could actually be a bit more for some styles but this is more of a coat-dress style.  If your finished garment Hip measurement on a coat is not at least 4 preferably 6-7 inches larger than your actual measure, I think it will always pull a bit in the front or the overlap will not close as nicely as it could.

garment measurements ex

The coat ideas are set aside for now as what I should be finishing today is this dress plus two others in various stages for one of my sewing clients. 
I recommend this Burda dress in my previous Pattern Whisperer post and now that I have sewn it up we are loving it. I recommend it even more.
Burda plus 113B

This is not the most flattering view, but this is turning out really well. And a case of making a perfect fabric choice for particular pattern (chosen by my client Heather when we shopped at Britex a couple of weeks ago). It is a wool sweater knit, quite stable, maybe they would call it a boucle? Anyway, holds its shape and presses well. Perfect for a winter dress. In the photo below not sure if you can see the side bust darts I added, not a difficult change and really helped with the fit. I will detail in another post when I finish this dress as I think it is worth some review. 

Burda dress

Here is a closer look at this fabulous fabric. Now I want some for myself :).  The dress will have long sleeves and a center back zipper. I think a fitted dress, no matter the fabric needs a back zipper for the best possible shaping. 

Burda dress fabric

So that is what I am working on today, and probably quite a bit over the Thanksgiving holiday as well. After I recover from Pumpkin Pie Overload. (I love the Thanksgiving meal but oh, the leftovers are always the best - turkey sandwiches with cranberry sauce and all the pumpkin pie that the rest of the family doesn't like as much as apple :)
OK, off to the gym now in preparation for the aforementioned PPO (pumpkin pie overload). Then it's back to the sewing machines.

Happy pre-Thanksgiving sewing, Beth

and a garden photo for fall. I plant more violas every year, some get eaten by gophers but for the most part they are quite hardy plus self-seed so they pop up in unexpected places - like cracks in the front walkway. They are a reliable cheerful bit of color when the weather turns grey. 

yellow pansy

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Pattern Repeat -Simplicity 1916 top and Vogue 1170 Skirt

Here are some separates that have languished in my closet since July. Both unblogged and unworn. Strange, huh? as I love this Simplicity knit top pattern so it is strange that I sewed it up and then didn't wear it. Not for lack of trying. I even put it on a few times but then decided to change into something else. Maybe it's the color, a bit saturated and very purple. Perhaps too much even for me. But I have decided that what is bugging me are the sleeves.

purple top black skirt copy

I really like flutter sleeves, or at least the idea of them. They always seem so pretty. But perhaps not on this top, or maybe just not on me. In any case, I have decided that flutter sleeves probably look best in a light and floaty silk and this top is a cotton lycra knit. Which is just right for the body of the top but not so great for the sleeves. So having a lot of fabric remaining, I am planning to take off these sleeves and put long sleeves on. Then I am sure I will wear it. 
You can tell I took this photo way back in July - as I am color-coordinating with the hydrangea in the background which is now just a few dry blooms and stalks. 
So what is the excuse for the skirt? Actually when I made it I realized it was not really a good summer item. The fabric is really weird - something I found at a garage sale (is that refrain starting to sound like a broken record?) It must have some wool in it as it just has the weight and drape of a woven wool, and presses like one. But it has these raised white dots similar to a dotted swiss. Very odd, but quite right for this skirt which has a flouncy shape at the back. 

black dot skirt back

The skirt pattern is Vogue 1170, a Rachel Comey pattern (she of my beloved Vogue 1247 which I have now made 3 times with a fourth in the works). I did make this 1170 previously, in St. Patrick's day green corduroy.

Vogue 1170 skirt and top

black dot skirt front
With both these Vogue skirt patterns, on the second version I have modified my skirt to have no waistband. I just find them to fit me better, and be more comfortable. The one trick to making a no- waistband skirt is to stabilize that waist edge so that it holds the shape and does not stretch out. I either use a stable interfacing or silk organza depending on the skirt fabric. 
I didn't do it on this one but both times when I have made the skirt I felt like it should have pockets in those diagonal seams you see in the front. That would be a perfect pocket spot  - with the caveat that the pattern pieces would need lots of stabilization there as that seam is at an angle. OK, next time I make this I will try it. 
A view of the inside. With my two-tone lining in green and black. I really wanted to use Bemberg rayon lining and this small skirt is a bit of a fabric hog. So I cobbled enough lining from scraps to make this two tone lining which hopefully will never be seen :). And a regular zipper which I think looks good on a skirt - as opposed to a dress where I prefer an invisible zip.

skirt inside zip

Here is a look at the top - this is a very accurate depiction of the color. Vibrant, right? Although I love to wear purple so I really should buckle down and do my above mentioned sleeve modification. 

purple top  only

Here is this Simplicity pattern 1916, and today's purple one is my third version, first one here and I made another one for a friend.

My only quibble with this pattern is that it comes out a bit long on me so I have to cut off a bit at the bottom when I hem, which loses a bit of the triangular bit at the side. But not enough to make it worthwhile to shorten it anywhere else. 

So that is just about the end of my summer pattern repeats - hopefully I will wear this skirt soon with boots and tights if we every get a bit of chilly weather. 

This weekend I am doing battle with some sleeves - hopefully to come out triumphant. It is a pickle of my own making, as I am working with a pattern that I altered quite a bit and consequently the armhole is nothing like designed. So more head-scratching but I will persevere. Failure not an option!

Happy sewing, Beth

How about a something also lingering in my photo queue from July...this penstemon finally bloomed after a year in the ground and very worth the wait.

penstemon pink

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Bootstrap Fashion - a new custom sizing pattern company

The calendar says November, but wow, it still feels like summer here. I went outside for a workout the last few days in a tank top and shorts. OK, you know I love summer but it's getting a bit weird - and we SO need some rain here in sunny California. That means a new coat is off the table for the time being, it just seems silly to make another coat that won't get much wear.
Instead I will think about spring, Ha Ha! like I need encouragement for that one. And I still have some summer stuff remaining to write about.
A few months ago I had the opportunity to try a few patterns from a new pattern company that offers custom-sized patterns called Bootstrap Fashion.

turquoise dress front

It was very intriguing once I took a look around their website and I did have a lot of questions which I will discuss further down in this post - but to get to the important stuff - yes, it fit with minimal alterations.  An important caveat - I fully acknowledge that in general I fit into the middle sizes of most current patterns, so I might not be a super difficult person to fit. However - I very often have complaints about things like armhole depth, or excessively wide necklines and I was so very pleasantly surprised that the neckline and armholes of this pattern fit me perfectly. It is a very rare instance that I don't have to shorten at the shoulder, or perhaps take in at the upper back. So no neckline gaposis - at least not for me. 
The one change I had to make was to add a bit of bodice length in the front, very similar to the adjustment I made on this pattern. I could have gotten away with not doing it but I could tell that the front waist would be just a teeny bit high without. Because of the design with radiating star dart/pleats in the center front it would have been a pain to add at the bottom of the bodice. The horizontal slice was easy since those aforementioned darts could be avoided.
Here is the tech drawing of the pattern I made.

Bootstrap tech drawing
One change that I made was to swap out the skirt on the pattern to a different pleated skirt. This design with the cartridge style pleating in the skirt is cute but I thought it would get lost in my print fabric. I used the skirt portion from an old New Look pattern. By the way this fabric is something I bought at a rummage sale, for about $ 2. It is a really nice cotton, not a quilting cotton but an apparel weight, and a slightly slubby linen-like texture, just right for a dress. Another score! 

turquoise dress back

So Bootstrap patterns are kind of interesting. The first thing I noticed was the similarity to Lekala so I asked about that. They told me that they have purchased the same design software so that is why many of the styles are similar or the same. The difference is in their website which is much more elaborate. Their patterns are available to use for apparel manufacturers so they seem to be targeting that market as well as the home sewer. There are additional fit adjustments options seen on the second tab below which I have only played around with a bit. I did fill in all the numbers on the Customize tab, and no seam allowance. I suggest no seam allowance as you will get a printable PDF, so you will probably be tracing and then adding whatever seam allowance you like to use. It is easier to flat-pattern measure the pieces for a double check if you have no seam allowances. 

Bootstrap adjustment choices

What I think might be their standout feature is "Belly protuberance" which is a very matter of fact term for something that is exactly that. They have 6 choices which range from super flat abs to 7 months pregnant.  OK maybe not quite but I don't know how else to describe it. However it's described it is darn clever if it works. And so far I think it does. I ordered patterns for two other people I sew for and chose from the various selections, then made muslins to test. So far I did not have to make any sort of adjustment in the tummy area so I give that feature a thumbs up! As for size range, you can see that the circumference measurements have a very broad range so anyone from a petite to plus size can customize these patterns.

On the second Fit Adjustments Tab they have some more adjustments that have to do with proportion, such as Torso length and arm length which could be very useful. I clicked on the Shoulder Width so you can see the options they are giving, which are Narrow, Balanced or Wide. These are all pretty subjective but if you know you always have too much fabric in the upper back then giving Back width a "narrow" adjustment couldn't hurt. I will note that I have to do that adjustment on most Vogue patterns but on this one I didn't - perhaps because they are creating a custom proportioned pattern based on bust and underbust. I think that underbust is a very useful measurement because it indicates how big someone's ribcage or torso is and I kind of wish more pattern companies would have that measure. I may be grasping at straws but I use that underbust measure as an intuitive part of my overall fit assessment when I measure someone - just to get an impression on their body frame. The arm measurements could be quite helpful too, a lot of people mentioned wanting sleeves in my Pattern whisperer posts and if you have a full bicep it would be nice to let someone else do the pattern modifications.

Bootstrap adjustment 2nd tab
What else? Their PDF are reasonable, not an excessive number of pages, nothing is nested so you could tape together and cut out the pieces. There is a layout page so I use that to figure out how to print out, and also to find the page which has that square which you print and then measure to make sure it is printing out on the right size. Does anyone else have an issue with their printer? I have to print that page, measure the square and often have to change the settings on my printer, as my printer seems to always want to print PDFs at some other % scale. Anyway - so worth it to test with that print square page and get the setting right before printing 30 pages or whatever.
The other pattern I have in the works is this one for a sewing client, who happens to have a very full bust and the princess seams fit very well - I would say about 80% there (if I could give a ratio of how close the proper fit was). So some minor adjustments but nothing like I would have had to do with a standard pattern. And the bust was in the right place! hurrah! that alone is a testimonial.

Bootstrap # 58739

I do notice their website is a bit busy - lots of moving parts and you have to scroll through a bit to find things. If you are open to choosing patterns just by the tech drawings then it will be perfect for you. I go by the drawings so that is great for me, I tend to ignore all styling on any pattern company - other than to notice a lack of pressing or hideous fabric choices. Prices are $ 7.00 per pattern with discounts if you order more than one. 

Some more details on my dress. Those star burst pleats really get lost in this fabric but reminds me of this dress pattern which I love. Although this pleats are at the neckline, but the effect is similar. You can actually see it better in the lining. 

                 turquoise dress darts Bootstrap fashion patternturquoise dress lining Bootstrap fashion pattern
I like to have a belt for these fit and flare style dresses so I made one and reused an old covered buckle from a previous dress - which is long gone but I kept the belt with an idea to reuse someday. The color is not an exact match but close enough.

turquoise dress w/ belt Bootstrap fashion pattern

turquoise dress belt Bootstrap fashion pattern

I even used the old belting that was inside the previous belting. I sewed a fabric tube and then hand stitched it on. Nothing fancy, and finally used one of the fancy (read: utilitarian) stitches on my modern Singer machine to make the holes. Remember to use a denim needle when sewing through the belting which is kind of thick.

One more look at this one in action. My photographer was making me crack up here. 

Turquoise dress on vacay

Thanks for all the great feedback on my Pattern Whisperer posts and I will be picking that up again soon with some ideas for jackets and coats. You can be in cute outerwear even if I am not due to our excessive sunshine  - yeah, boo hoo for us here in NorCal, right?

Happy November sewing, Beth