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