Thursday, December 22, 2016

Vogue 1526 Paco jacket in holiday red

My plan was to skip doing a blog post this week and settle down next week with any remaining items I have sewn. Plus do a year-end wrap up and analysis then, with some pattern usage pie charts which I always find entertaining. However something in this color deserves to be shown off in week before Christmas, don't you think?

red jacket walking

I am sure I could not have found a better fabric and color for this pattern if I had tried. Which I did not! As it happens I bought this fabric in New York in October at Metro Textiles (Kashi's gem of a store) The color was so beautiful and it is unbelievable soft - a double faced wool that feels like cashmere (although it is not). There was just a small amount so I bought it and figured I would work something out one day. Then I bought Vogue 1526, the interesting new pattern created by one of Vogue's newest designers: Paco Peralta from Spain. The seaming is fantastic and I love the simplicity of this style.

Figuring this fabric would work perfectly for this vest I pulled out the pattern pieces and had a good look at the envelope  - where I saw that the fabric required for this jacket is 2 1/4 yards for 60" fabric. Eek! What I had was 1.3 yards cut with a slightly crooked edge and a few marks on the fabric. I pondered it for a couple of days and then worked out that if I removed the cut-on facings along the center front I could just squeeze it on the yardage I had. This does make the lining show near the collar when not buttoned but it looks better buttoned up anyway so I will try to wear it that way.

red jacket front view 1

Here's the Vogue pattern envelope. I like the whole outfit but I'm not likely to make that shirt, and the pants I'm wearing are something from my closet that was so similar to the silhouette shown that they work well. I tried the jacket on with some skinny jeans and the proportion seems slightly off.

V1326 vest pattern

How about some sewing details?  The pattern actually calls for you to completely fuse all the jacket pieces with fusible knit interfacing but that would have been too much as this fabric is a bit thicker than the recommended fabrics which are wools, crepe, flannel or gabardine. This red is more like a coating since it is double faced. Although the edges and hem definitely needed some structure so I interfaced as I would on any jacket.

red vest interfacing SaveSave

I also put some lighter weight interfacing around the sleeve hem edges and put pieces of lining selvedge along the shoulder seam to stabilize that area. I love these buttonholes in the seams!

Which deserve their own photo. This asymmetrical collar is surprisingly comfortable to wear. I found these buttons at Joann's and bought them as a possible - but they are just right. So nice when that happens.  All my pressing tools were used - I admit it is not easy to get the edges crisp on a thick coating but I'm super satisfied with this (if I do say so myself :).

red vest collar closeup

I really wanted to make a gif or short video with all these images but instead you will have me being silly and saying "why yes my new jacket does have a satin lining. Also how it looks unbuttoned.

lining red jacket composite

The dress form picture shows that I removed the facings and just lined it to the edge. The lining is a poly satin that I found in my big box of linings - the color is not exact but seems complementary.

red vest lining view

red vest lining hem

Sewing the lining as the facing on the front edge actually made this very quick to sew, since I wasn't sewing the entire lining in by hand - as I usually do. I did leave a generous pleat at the hem so the lining would lay flat and never pull up at the back during wearing.

red jacket back view 2

And pockets - oh yeah I wasn't going to omit those. By the way another sewer who I admire very much also made this pattern - Tany of Couture et Tricot also made this pattern, all 3 pieces and her version is beautiful, plus she has a lot of construction details if you are interested.

red jacket front view 3

red jacket hands in pockets

red vest front view on form

This picture - with all the reds and greens - I was sorely tempted to photoshop in a red hat with white fur trim and some pointy ears onto my head - this is my demented holiday elf photo.  Or perhaps one of those people who works at the Santa Land at the department store. Anyway - I do like this interesting collar. And I put on my holiday pin just for you!

red jacket closeup2b

I am really happy to sew this Vogue pattern which reminded me how much I like their designer patterns, So many gems there.

Tomorrow will include some baking, gift wrapping (which I always leave until the last possible minute) and a few last minute stitches on some stocking stuffers.

Up next I will be cutting into some cashmere for a very special item, but I will leave that until next week.  And a special thank you to my friend Alice - photographer extraordinaire who takes all my best photos.

So I will wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and I hope your holiday is peaceful, healthy, happy and filled with joy.


Saturday, December 17, 2016

Random Threads #25

Time for another Random Threads post as I have a lot of things scribbled in my notebook. Unfortunately some of my jottings are too cryptic to decipher. Bad habit I have - making a one or two word note which makes sense when I write it down but when I go back I have no idea what it is referring to. The one on the page this time is "velvet". So I must have had some idea about velvet for this post but not sure what I was thinking at the time.
However velvet is such a great fabric this time of year. I made a black velvet shift dress for a 10 year old girl a few years ago, and I think with absolutely no change in style the same dress and shape would look great on a woman Classics - they endure for a reason.

My favorite needle:
sewing needle

This one sounds like I might give some recommendation on sewing tools - but it is much simpler than that. I just have a favorite needle. This might sound kind of crazy but I have been using the same hand sewing needle for at least 2 years. Rarely using anything else. I can tell it is the same one because it is slightly bent. Which happens to other needles I use, maybe I have incredible hulk fingers! 
I don't really fuss about needles - and I'm sure there are some very high end ones you can buy, although I haven't. I do have a stash of unused needles, some quite old. Things that were in my great-aunt's sewing stuff and I was the one in the family that got that stash. Also people tend to think of me when they clean out a relative's house and I usually accept because who know what treasures might be found in the old cookie cans with buttons, scissors, etc. If I drop or somehow lose track of the needle then everything stops until I find it. Plus since I use those magnet pin cushions the needle sometimes ends up in them so then I have to take off all the pins onto a wooden surface, spread them out and find the needle. My one trick is to never put the needle into the pincushion without first putting a length of thread onto hit, tied in a knot. Have you ever "wrung out" your pincushion? Needles do tend to disappear into the tomato style pincushions but if you squeeze it then you can find them and force them back out. Weirdly enough that is a task I enjoy. Do you have any special needle wrangling tricks?   By the way - sneak peek of my latest project which is super soft fabric and those lovely in-seam buttonholes. 

McCalls videos: 
Do you look at the videos on the McCall pattern company blog? I love them! Particularly the ones with Carlos where he discusses a specific Vogue designer pattern are fantastic and he is so charming on them. Here's a link the one where he discusses the V1523 Rachel Comey jumpsuit. Check them out - to me it is really fun to see the clothes in action. The "what to sew next" videos are really good also. Plus they make me want to go back to New York. They also appear on their Facebook page. I don't have much patience for most videos about patterns but I guess since I am a big fan of Vogue designer patterns these hit my sweet spot. 

McCalls survey: 
Speaking of McCalls, did you get the on-line survey they did recently? Maybe last week or so. If you are on their email list you might have received it. It was really interesting, asking about pattern preferences, how people feel about paper vs. PDF, what one would want to pay for patterns, etc. I can't recall all the questions but there were quite a few about independent designers. No surprise that my responses indicated that I am a fan of Vogue patterns and particularly the designer patterns. Also tissue paper patterns!!! To me so much easier to use - but I expect this is just because I learned on these and thus seem like the right way (knowing that there is really no right or wrong way).  One question that I thought was interesting was about how we felt about a pattern that had multiple views. I think this is where McCalls/Vogue/Butterick beats all other pattern companies hands down. To buy a pattern that is several garments just gives more options and makes me feel like there is value for money, versus many indie patterns that are just for one item. Particularly if it is a simple item. I just don't get the popularity. But I could drone on about that for days. Anyway I hope that McVoguerick continues to last another 100+ years. (I'll include Simplicity/New Look also do a good job with multiple views and garments in one pattern envelope).

Pantone colors for 2017:

Pantone colors 2017

Since I am wild about color in all things I like to check out the Pantone colors for every new season. Possible to aggravate myself as I usually have a very dramatic dislike of at least two of them. But this time I really like only two, the Pink Yarrow (what a goofy name) and the Lapis blue. The yellow and orange are OK, not the shades I like in those colors, and then the greens look like 70's throwbacks. Actually I have an irrational hate of their color of the year, Greenery. Just a shade of green that is not my thing. In fact the whole collection looks a bit 70's. So we are approximately 40 years on from the 70's - give or take - and are they having a revival? Overalls, pale denim, high waist jeans, poly fabrics, pantsuits. Hmmm not my my favorite fashion decade but I suppose everything comes around again. As for the pale pink and the beige color - blah, not my thing but I'm sure they could look good and appeal to someone. In fact I find all the colors a bit muddy and less than vibrant.

Best pattern survey:
Another survey out now, this one is more of a vote, on to vote for the best patterns of the year. I never think there is anything best about it, as it looks like they chose the nominee patterns by the number of reviews? Not sure about that but I usually don't see many I have sewn, although this year there are one or two. But nothing I would call best. Do you look at or vote in this survey? I do think it is good to break out categories by garment type.

Mood Fabric store emails:
Now that I have actually been to the store in NY I am really a fan of Mood the store. Their emails -  not so much. I suppose I could change my email preferences but I figure oh well, they just get deleted. I find their website kind of difficult to use also. But recently I have looked a couple of things, and realized they are one of those companies that send you an email shortly after saying something to the effect of "hey you looked at this, buy it". If course using a better tone than my phrase but the meaning is the same. I just find it a bit creepy. It's one thing for the little ads for various things to follow you around your browsing but the direct follow up email bugs me. Even thought it makes good business sense for the company to use this technique. Probably like a lot of you I get regular emails for all the fabric sellers. Almost never click but instead go to the various sites when I am searching for something specific. I guess getting the emails keeps them in my mind for when I do need something.

# 1 fitting mistake:

Vogue pattern measure

Here is some unsolicited sewing advice - measure the pattern! I always feel bad when I see a garment somewhere and the sewer says "I really like it but it is just a bit too tight around the bust/hips/waist". Do you measure the pattern? I think this is an essential step, check the pattern circumferences and adjust if needed. My advice: take out "fit insurance" a lot of the time and always on a new pattern I add 3/8" to the existing seam allowance on all side seams, resulting in a 1" side seam. Which gives you a total circumference addition of 1.5" to play with. I often take most of it back out but but sometimes a garment feels better with a bit more room. Particularly with a woven fabric (no stretch) like silk duppioni or wool gabardine. Things with no give. I'm writing a blog post for Craftsy on how to choose the pattern size so I'll go into more detail there and post a link when that is up.

New patterns for Spring:
Already?  it seems we are just starting to wear winter clothes here so I'm not thinking about spring. But I am on the hunt for just the right pattern to use for the two-sided wool that I bought at Mood.

Here's the wool fabric (photographed with a piece of leather purchased as well) It looks black and blue in this pic but it is all shades of blue.

two sided wool

I saw two patterns recently, one in the new McCalls release. It's really cute but I do prefer a slightly longer jacket and collarless is not my favorite.

McCalls7549 quilted jacket pattern env

then I saw this one on Butterick. Which is good for two fabrics but also has a slightly geriatric vibe to me. Is that a weird thing to say? It has potential but some of the proportions look wrong. I might buy the pattern and play around with it.

B6421 pattern env

Lastly I saw this pattern for both a dress and a top. (multiple views in one envelope, woo hoo!). This one I will definitely try in the springtime.

McCall env template rev2
When I finish these Random Threads emails I read them through before publishing and think - wow I sound like a complete curmudgeon but hopefully not. Most of my friends don't sew - so I have to vent  or share somewhere, right? Also it amazes me that these are among my most popular posts, which tells me that a lot of people who occupy the online sewing world want to talk sewing stuff too!

That's all for now, time to evaluate my holiday sewing and make sure I am caught up on any gift sewing I need to do.  The sun is shining this afternoon after a glorious rainstorm earlier this week so I might just head out for a good walk now, with apologies to those of you feeling the polar vortex. Hang in there - spring is coming, the pattern companies say so!

Happy sewing, Beth

not much in the way of garden photos - this time of year I am happy I planted pansies and begonias for a little pop of bright color. 


Sunday, December 11, 2016

Medley of knit tops

For months and months I had a Burda PDF pattern hanging on the wall of my sewing room. I bought and downloaded the pattern on a whim ages ago. I even taped it together and added the seam allowances, then set it aside. A while ago I was trying to figure out how to deal with PDF pattern pieces, particularly these that consist of taped together paper. Folding them up is just not a good option since they take up so much space and get all crumpled. The best storage for me is to hang them up somewhere so I generally punch a hole through the stack, tie a ribbon there and then just stick them on a hanger. One day I was looking at the big sliding closet doors and thought "usable space" so I stitched up a big fabric rectangle, mounted it on those 3M removable hooks and now I have a great space to keep PDF patterns our of the way and still available, plus no wrinkles or curled paper. Its basically a big fabric bulletin board.

Thus this space is festooned with a constant rotation of patterns, yet this one t-shirt pattern sat there, unused and fading into the background. Then one day I was looking for something else and actually noticed it. Interesting! So here it is.  This fabric is dreamy... I got it at Stone Mountain this past summer. They might still have it and I had to restrain myself from getting all the color options.  
blue stripe Burda top 2

Here is the info from the Burda website. The pattern is Burda 02/2013 # 126, here's the link to this short sleeve version, I took the photo from the long sleeve version as the model is wearing a jacket which obscures the cute sleeve detail.  Super cute, huh?  I love a t-shirt that has some interesting detail.

Burda T-shirt 02-2013-126

And you have seen me wearing this one - on my New York trip back in October.  At Eately, the great Italian food market and restaurants. I was thinking of them today as I spent the morning baking Panettone, theirs smelled delicious and I almost bought one when I was there.

me at counter

Actually before I made the blue stripe version I made a quick test version - as I had bought this fabric also at Stone Mountain. They now have all kinds of bargains upstairs so $ 3 per yard, I bought a bunch just for knit experimentation. Consequently I will have an array of this color in my upcoming wardrobe 😉.

green knit Burda top

More random knit tops, I had this fabric which I bought in SF at Fabric Outlet (which is the actual store which operates Cali Fabrics). It is almost a tissue weight knit. Maybe not really suitable for my usual stuff as it is really thin and I prefer a bit more heft in knits. But I wanted to try out this pattern in a knit fabric. Not sure it is successful but I will wear it around the house.  This is New Look 6374, my previous version was in silk.

knit tunic top

And then I still had more of this fabric so I tried out the Presto Popover top from Naughty Bobbin patterns (formerly Savage Coco) which was gifted to me a while back when I had the pleasure of meeting her in person. This is a good layering piece and I like a top to be really snug around the back of my neck (short hair - always chilled there) so I stitched the center front up as high as I could with still being able to pull it over my head. So now it has a bit of a keyhole effect and is a good layering piece under a fleece jacket or a sweater. As designed the sleeves were a bit long for my extra short arms but I like the effect so I just left them that way. Also after I saw this picture I decided to shorted the top a bit and I can't remember if I lengthened it when I cut it out.

presto top

Onward to the next one, which is this color block top/dress pattern from Burda. I had the burgundy color sweater knit leftover from this top. I bought this Burda pattern thinking I can use it for refashioning some old cashmere sweaters.
Burda maroon color block top

Burda 6851 Pattern envelope

The pattern envelope - it does have potential. You can see I used only two colors instead of 3 as they show. Also I put a t-shirt style binding on the neckline, in the pattern envelope they have it as a faced neckline. The grey fabric is a knit I bought at Joanns, surprisingly nice. I actually like the fit better of a different Burda raglan t-shirt pattern that I have, which I have made a number of times. (here and here.

color block knit top on

Don't let that hazy sunshine fool you - we are having rain, YAY!  and it is such a treat.
I had a small piece of fabric remaining, so I made a scrunchy turtleneck accessory which I can wear with this top - very handy.

Burda knit top with turtleneck

And just one more knit, this one is a pattern mashup. The same knit fabric as the first one in a different color way. I think there is a pink also - I might need that. Anyway - the body of this top is McCalls 7046 which is a surprisingly well fitting t-shirt, with or without the side gathers. But I included it because it is kind of interesting. Although I have realized that this type of shirt needs to be close fitting around the waist/hips or it just looks sloppy. And then the cowl neckline is a slightly reduced version of the Sewaholic Renfrew neck grafted onto this McCalls top.

green stripe knit top

I did make another version of this frankenpattern last year from a very cosy knit and I wear it a lot.
Here's the previous version of this top, sewn about 1 year ago.  I love to do the stripe matching on these t-shirts. Hey everyone needs a hobby!

Pink striped top

Ok that's the latest on knit top sewing, next up I might sew up a shirt from one fabrics I bought in NY.

Last year at the very end of winter I finished this Burda shawl collar jacket and posted one quick look at me wearing it - well I wanted to say that I wear this jacket ALL the time. It is so cosy and warm.

plum coat

Plus this jacket has one of my favorite features, in the seam buttonholes. Something about that always appeals to me. In fact - my current project has that very feature. Stay tuned :)

Up next - the project that is in the works, and a crack at some of those fabrics from NY. And a good amount of holiday baking. As mentioned above, today I made my first panettone. Which was surprisingly good. A few more practice rounds and I think it will be great. If I do say so myself!

Happy holiday sewing,

and in the garden, my latest obsession. Succulents. Which are perfect for our climate and super interesting once you start to dive into all the info available. More to come of these.


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Burda 8/2016 # 124B in green plaid - bring on the holidays

Sometimes I get on a kick for sewing or wearing a particular color. While I have made the typical number of aqua, turquoise or blue items I have been favoring the color green this year. Of course if I make a coat in a specific color then I'm off and running trying to create other looks to be worn with the coat. Plus I see so many Burdastyle patterns on their website that have interesting details or shaping. Getting hard to resist a subscription to the magazine. The only thing that stops me is the tracing - far easier to buy the PDF patterns that I actually plan to sew.

Burda 8-2016-124B green dress view 1

This one is from Burda August, specifically Burda 08/2016 # 124B. Maybe not the best choice for plaid - it would have been lot easier in a solid color or some other type of pattern. But I think I succeeded with the fabric. Which has been telling me it needed to be a winter dress. I think I bought it last year at a sewing guild sale so maybe $ 3.00? (most times the fabric at these sales is $1 per yard, and rarely any identity as to fiber). It kind of behaved like wool but I'm sure it is not all wool - some kind of mystery blend. At least it is an even plaid (here is a really good example of an even plaid and then an uneven plaid).

Most of my pictures of this dress are not the greatest - my photographer friend is out of town so I will have to make do with these backyard shots. In any case, the dress form photos show the color most accurately as well as the details of the dress. And my plaid matching! which I am quite happy with considering a) that damn Dior dart, 2) not the best quality fabric, 3) center front and princess seams plus slant pockets made matching the skirt challenging at best (call it impossible).

Burda 8-2016-124B green dress side view

Burda 8-2016-124B pattern

Here is the actual pattern and illustration from the Burda website.  And now for a laugh. When I was hemming the sleeves I thought wow - I just have to turn up a normal hem allowance, like 1.5 inches instead of lopping off the usual 3-4 inches and then I noticed on the pattern photo that is the sleeve is designed to finish above the wrist - do they call this bracelet length? In any case - on me it is long sleeved length due to my short arms :)  I love a dress with this type of pockets, similar to my favorite dress pattern, Butterick 5455. Also looking at this illustration, due to fit adjustments I made on the skirt portion I might have made this green (is it teal?) dress a bit too A-line.  I might go back and narrow the skirt a bit.

Here's a better look at the pocket.

Burda 8-2016-124B green dress skirt pocket

And me with my hands jammed in the pockets. Not such a good look. It went from sunshine to starting to rain in a matter of 10 minutes as I did these photos - thus the dress looks a different color in every picture.

Burda 8-2016-124B green dress pockets view

Some sewing details. I think I've seen questions around asking how to get the front neckline to stay crisp and flat - this is a bit of a tricky one with this style where the neckline has a split and small V. The two sides of the neckline front do tend to not lay flat but often poke out a bit, spoiling the look. I'm fairly satisfied with this result, and it all has to do with  - what else? - interfacing.

Burda 8-2016-124B green dress interfacing center front

Sometimes I add interfacing for texture in addition to stability. This fabric is thin, almost like a lightweight flannel, so I added some fusible interfacing along the dress neckline and center front. But to stabilize the center V portion, plus the actual neckline I also added silk organza around the neckline and down the center front past where the seam starts. Silk organza is to me the miracle item for so many sewing projects in that it stabilizes without adding bulk, and created such a crisp finish to edges.

And now I will show you the inside of this dress. Slightly chagrined to do so. Because I recently read a post by Sherry of Pattern Scissors Cloth where she mentioned why she is not a fan of lining to the edge. I admire her sewing and blog greatly and concur with her points - yet I often do lining to the edge for any winter garment because I have an itch phobia, or mania? Anyway - I can't stand anything potentially itchy on my neckline so I must have lining there. You have seen my obsession with eliminating back neckline facings on coats (example here ). So lining to the edge it was for this dress. Now my miserly use of fabric scraps will be on full display. I hate to not use pieces of nice bemberg rayon lining so I save them for occasions just like this. Yes that is 4 colors of lining. I was happy to have enough of the matching green for the center front which was perfect and then the sleeves being black seemed to coordinate just fine. While I'm not a fan of novelty linings - this piece of purple was just enough for the skirt so there it is. Reduced the lining scrap bin by 4 pieces!

Burda 8-2016-124B green dress lining

In the interest of full disclosure I will show this photo of the back -poorly pressed. One of these days I might just spring for a custom dress form - that doesn't tilt :)

Burda 8-2016-124B green dress back on form

Here's a good shot of the dress in motion - like I mentioned, starting to rain so photo-wise we take what we can get. Which in this case is a nice blink. I am the queen of blinking, anyone else look at your photos and toss out at least half due to that? Hey when you are a kid and you get contact lenses they tell you to blink blink blink - some habits stick with us.

Burda 8-2016-124B green dress view4

As for fit on this pattern, it is a bit roomy but I did that on purpose. I can definitely "pinch an inch" at the waist. (check out this post for explanation on my "pinch an inch" philosophy - maybe I should trademark this :)  But this fabric has no stretch and I think it looks better with some room, plus allows you to sit comfortably and not be too wrinkled. I think a lot of people fit their dress so it looks good when standing still but life is not standing still in a blog photo pose - you need wearing ease to sit, move, put on your coat, slump at your desk, drive, whatever you are doing.

What about fitting yourself? This is a question I am often asked - and I agree, it is definitely tricky but can be done. First is the flat pattern measure - check the pattern and ADD extra where it might be needed, like side seams. I always give myself a 1" side seam which allows a lot of fitting insurance. But that often means taking it away later. More work but good for a perfect fit.

Here's a collage showing some of my fitting process. The dress is basted together, then I adjust the side seams to get the skirt/hip area to my liking. I pin it on the outside, both sides and then do a thread trace of the pins. This might sound like a lot of work but it's really not.

Burda 8-2016-124B green dress fitting collage

What I mean is since the pins are on the outside of the garment you need to transfer those indicators to the inside where you can actually stitch. then I flip the garment inside out, check out my thread trace on each side, kind of take the average of both sides and adjust the curve, and then machine baste the new seam line. It is marked here in yellow thread so you can see it. One other thing to note - no seam finishes - I never do anything on the inside of a item that is going to be lined, why bother and it just adds bulk to the seam allowance.

Burda 8-2016-124B green dress fitting side seam skirt

So that's the latest on my Burda dress sewing. I did buy another pattern - not sure why as it is awfully similar to this. I think I was trying to decide which one to go with. Perhaps I didn't choose the best one as I'm not so sure about those little darts in the princess seams. They seem so noticeable in all these photos but I don't see them when I look in the mirror. Just the lighting I hope.

Burda 8-2016-124B view3

As for the garden - at low ebb with nothing much going on, except tons of leaves everywhere. Since we haven't had much really cold weather the trees are hanging on to the leaves way longer than usual, meaning that raking won't be done for a good while. Oh well, it's good exercise!

By the way - despite this dress being green - really it is more of a teal, it doesn't look well with my green coat - so I will be wearing my trusty black wool coat with this one. What does winter mean to me? An opportunity to wear coats :)  If I worked in an office I would be wearing this dress often but since I don't the holidays are probably a good opportunity. The color seems Christmas-y to me.

Up next, I have stitched up quite a few not yet blogged knit tops in the last few months so a post about those, and then who knows. Wherever my mood takes me. Which might be to my Mood fabrics, ha ha.

Happy Sewing, Beth

today's garden photo, the first camellia. While is pretty enough it occupies a prime sunny spot that might be better for something else. This might be the year for a revamp and out it will go.