Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Silk bow top and a Vogue knit top puzzle V9227

Looking at the calendar I just realized I haven't done a blog post in a while, despite sewing a lot this month. It's been a month of doing some custom sewing, as well as some experimentation which may or may not turn into Craftsy sewing blog posts. (Probably yes - as sleeves are having a moment so plenty to write about manipulating sleeve patterns).
In the meantime I picked up two projects that I had set aside back in December because I was vaguely dissatisfied. And decided to finish both. Now, whether or not I am satisfied is still an open question.
First up is one of those items where I want to follow a fashion trend, despite the fact that I don't like extraneous bits. When I say extraneous bits I mean things like decorative ties, lacing, zippers for decoration, trailing ruffles or other parts that just get caught up when you wear them. Or at least when I wear them. But the idea of a bow neck blouse is kind of interesting and I have had this fabric for ages. Long ago I sewn a blouse for someone and less than a yard remained. At same the time I saw it on super sale from the same place so ordered a bit more, enough to make up some kind of top. And then it went into the bin with other silks never to be noticed.
But stretch silk charmeuse is the perfect fabric for many types of shirt or blouse - the lycra content is probably small, similar to stretch denim.

silk bow blouse 1

More pattern manipulation with my trusty shirt pattern, Simplicity 2329 but any basic shirt pattern would do. I used the front version where I have manipulated the bust dart into shoulder gathers (see this post if you want details). Then I cut the center front on the fold and also created a facing to enclose the V-neckline.  That neckline is obscured a bit by the ties in that photo above.

silk bow blouse front and back

Here you can see it a bit better. I created a really long tie piece which I attached as if it were the collar around the back neckline, and then it meets the facing edge at the dropped shoulder seam. So it can be tied up at the neck or lower as in the first picture.

silk bow blouse side view

I love silk charmeuse and since I wear a lot of pullover sweaters this works for that, with just a peek of this rather crazy print showing at neck and cuffs.

Speaking of cuffs, a stretch silk charmeuse is a garment where you have to pick your battles. Or at minimum use the technique that matches the fabric. On a crisp cotton shirt I would do a shirt sleeve style 2-piece placket but for this soft unstructured fabric a continuous bound placket works best. You can see also that I never make the cuffs smaller to match my wrist, just place the buttonholes way over so it fits me properly :)

silk bow blouse cuff

So that's it for the slightly out-there print silk charmeuse shirt. It gives me a 70's fashion vibe but I am seeing 70's looks everywhere lately so... I'm going with that.

Onward to the second item that I started in the fall and set aside. This one I fully admit was intended as a test item, the fabric was a scrap from this Burda dress so it worked for this pattern, to wear it under sweaters (a theme of my wardrobe). But I kind of hate it. And I will bet that a lot of you looking at this will like it.

black diagonal stripe top front view

First thing first, I did not have enough fabric for the sleeves. But actually the solid color sleeves is a feature that I think looks sharp. OK that detail aside. there are several things that bug me about this pattern, at least this View A. It is so short! Super short! And I am not tall. (under 5'4"). Look at the difference on the same dress form comparing the silk blouse at the top, and where that hem ends  - a typical shirt hem for me. Ok this is a stylized top and different than a shirt but it is weirdly short in the back particularly.  Pattern is Vogue 9227.

Vogue 9227 pattern env

black stripe top back view

Come on - that looks like some kind of vest or waistcoat thing, right? Picture the waist of your jeans or pants. The hem of the top lands at a really odd place, at least on me. I could tell when I was cutting it out but decided to plow ahead since it was a test version.

black stripe top side view

Here you can see the difference in length between the front and the back. I guess to create the effect of the points in the front the side had to be higher, and thus the back higher as well but all in all not my style. I will give credit to the use of the stripes - that works out well and is visually interesting.

black stripe top collar view

The other thing I rarely like is buttonholes in knits, or perhaps these specifically. Since they end up being worn on a diagonal, and yet are stitched vertically on the button band (as they should be) then gravity pulls the body of the shirt downwards which distorts the buttonholes ever so slightly, and since it is a stripe I notice it. OK I notice small stuff like that but now you can see it too, right?  Making a collar with a stand in knit is also not the ideal, it ends up a bit thick. so I left off the top buttonhole and put a snap there. I have seen just one or two versions of this top online and the collar was a woven which looks nice and crisp so that is probably the way to go.

As for this pattern, I like the shapes in the other views, but might just use a different knit top pattern and add the details. McCalls 7046 t-shirt (blog post here) fits perfectly in the neck and sleeves so it's easier to just use that and add the details.

If I get a move on today maybe I will pop into the backyard for some photos of these items on me and then add them to this post. We have sunshine today but more rain coming in tomorrow (Yay! for more rain - things are looking up on the drought front here but after 5 years of drought one good rainy winter is only a start).

I just finished another shirt with a super cool fabric which I just bought in the bargain area upstairs at Stone Mountain Fabrics, came home, shrunk it and cut out the same day. That doesn't happen very often! All done and a sneak peek on Instagram soon.

Happy sewing, Beth

garden photo today, first daffodils!

first daffodil

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Cashmere coat to start the sewing year, Burda 02/2010 #126

What a way to start off the sewing year, with cashmere! This fabric is so gorgeous, and while I typically don't like neutrals this warm camel color just begs to be a coat. Or in this case - a vest. But for some reason I just can't call this a vest, to me it is a coat without sleeves, probably because of the traditional shaping and collar/lapel.
In any case - this delicious fabric was not mine - it was purchased by my friend Alice on our New York adventure back in October at Metro Textiles (#wineandcheesewithKashi). There is even a photo of her in that post with the actual bolt of fabric. I think a few other people purchased some that night as well and I am looking forward to seeing what have come up with.  Alice nor I can recall where we got the idea but somehow came up with this style of outerwear, a long straight sleeveless coat and I think it has turned out just as we imagined.

Alice coat 4

What a weather week we are having here in N. California - plenty of rain (finally) which didn't help with our photo session. The sky opened up about 5 minutes after we started but I did get all these pictures - it helps when your model/muse/friend  looks good in almost anything :)

Alice coat3

I think this is one of those styles that perfectly suits the wearer, so I am really happy how it turned out. The fabric was a dream to work with and pressed so beautifully. However - I barely had enough fabric - not sure if we weren't thinking clearly when we bought it or I just miscalculated but it had mere scraps when done cutting out. In fact a tiny area is pieced but I'll get to that later.

Some sewing details: here's a look at it on the dress form. It may look slightly lopsided but the wearer has asymmetry in her shoulders and my dress form is very crooked.

camel coat on form front full length

The pattern is Burda 02/2010 # 126 Three Button Coat. No matter what I am looking for I seem to be able to find it among the Burda PDF's available. I think because they don't do the "discontinued because Out of Print" that the big 4 patterns do, and make available styles from the past 5 or so years purchasable as PDF patterns that the selection is so good. Plus they are just great at coats and jackets.
I really wanted a super simple coat with no seaming, just straight cut and sleek looking with a traditional lapel. Here's the pattern photo and the tech drawing.

Burda 3 button coat pattern photo

Burda 3 buton coat tech drawing

I omitted the welt pockets as I didn't want anything to break up the front of the coat, so I put side seam pockets instead. As for the collar, I made a muslin and was disappointed in the shape of the upper collar, it had a slightly pointy strange shape and you can see the horizontal edge of the upper collar portion, I prefer it to be at a more 45 degree angle so I changed the design. Also there was not a different upper and under collar piece, so no accounting for turn of the cloth or cutting the under collar on the bias. No No No - that was a deal breaker for me so I tested on a 2nd muslin a bias-cut under collar and then a slightly larger upper collar and it worked fine. Also changing the angle where the collar and lapel meet, maybe just by shaving off 1/4 inch but I could see the difference.

camel coat dart

For shaping the coat does have one dart under the lapel.

More sewing details, I did my usual catch stitching of all the seams, and used Pro-Weft Supreme fusible interfacing for the upper portion of the coat and the under collar. I had tested using the Medium weight Pro-Weft but it took away some of the softness and drapeability of the cashmere so the lighter weight fusible was a better choice. I always planned to sew the lining in by hand so I turned up the seam allowance around the armhole as well and catch-stitched that down. Because the interfacing is there the stitches are completely hidden.

camel coat inside interfacing

We bought this Ambiance rayon lining at Stone Mountain Fabrics, any excuse to go over there and I always know I will find the perfect color of lining. I omitted the back neckline facing and extended the lining up to meet the collar seam. Hand stitched in the lining around the collar facing as well as the armholes.

camel coat inside back neck lining

Now we get to the part where I had to piece the fabric. The cut of fabric had a section that was dirty so I had to cut around that, leaving the front lapel facings about 5 inches too short. Look at the bottom near the hem, I had to extend the facings by sewing on another piece there, on both sides. I was really careful when pressing as I didn't want that seam to show through on the front.

camel coat inside view

Back view, completely plain with no darts, however there is a bit of shaping in the center back seam. And that long vent, necessary for walking and it just looks cool in a full length coat of this style.

camel coat on form back viewcamel coat inside back vent lining

This is the "let's get going it is starting to pour" last photo but her smile makes it.

Alice coat closeup

I love this and hope she wears it all the time! It looks best unbuttoned and moving as she walks. Alice is not always freezing as I am so the idea of a coat with no sleeves to wear over some other layers is OK with her. Plus she looks so fantastic.

Alice with coat

Next up I'm not really sure - perhaps during these grey, stay indoors days I will have another go at pants.

Yesterday I received one of my gardening magazines proclaiming spring - the shivering birds outside my window will disagree.

Wherever you are I hope you are surviving these dark days of winter by sewing something fun. Of course if you are in the southern hemisphere then from my blog reading it appears you are enjoying sunshine and summer vacations (so jealous!!)

Happy January sewing,

today's garden photo - one last fiery red rose that bloomed in mid-December. Making it the last one for 2016. Now it is time to get out there and prune back all my roses but not until the rain stops. Maybe this weekend?


Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year and a look back at 2016

Happy New Year to all!  But I can say it doesn't really feel like New Year's Day to me - what, no Rose Parade? No Rose Bowl today? It seems they have a never on Sunday rule but with leap years etc. it actually doesn't happen that often. So I can't recall one however today was one such day. It is an odd New Year's day here. Probably not so odd to the rest of you but strange to us. And don't even get me started on the college playoff system. I like the old version of the Rose Bowl. Oh well - not that important in the scheme of things.
And while 2016 was a strange year who knows what the next will bring. Not going to think about that now - let's talk about sewing instead. A topic that I am always able to talk about with anyone!

As usual I didn't have any particular theme or goal - just went where my whims and pattern inspiration took me. Though it was definitely the year of the shirt - I made a lot of them. More on that in a minute.

For now I have to say 💗 Thank You  💗 for all the very nice words on my last post of 2016, the Vogue 1526 Paco Peralta jacket in holiday red. I was bowled over with all the compliments, here and on Instagram and I really appreciate it. Also thank you for mentioning how much you like the sewing details, on all my posts. I enjoy doing them and it is so interesting to see what sparks some comments or conversation. Plus it gives me ideas for future posts. Here's a picture I didn't use on the previous post - where I am dreamily looking skyward (actually trying to not be such a dork when my photo is being taken, haha).  And I have to note I had a comment from Paco, the pattern designer who said he loved my version so that was quite a thrill.

red jacket walking 2 edited

In fact I am looking at this pattern with fresh eyes and wondering if I can create a pattern piece to make it a long sleeve. One of these days I will give that some attention.

Since my sewing was, as usual, wherever my mood or whim took me during 2016, my stats don't really tell much.

For myself I sewed 33 garments, which include one or two items that I made as example items for my Craftsy blog posts. Wearable but more for experimentation or working out some technique. By far the biggest category was woven tops - due entirely to the fact that I made a number of shirts including silk blouses. This is the year that I decided to not treat anything as too nice to wear - and if I ruin a silk blouse with a drop of salad dressing or some such thing, well then I will just let it go and sew up another one :)
pie chart 2016 garment sewing

Here's the breakdown on pattern brands that I used. Simplicity for the win because I used my trusty Simplicity 2339 to both make long sleeve shirts and as a basis for any other shirt, including designing a popover version.  

Pie chart sewing by pattern brand2016

There is no doubt that I have become a fan of Burda patterns as I sewed up a few of those - both envelope patterns and PDF downloads from the BurdaStyle website of the magazine patterns. I almost put a subscription to Burda Magazine on my Christmas wish list but then gave a good hard look at those pattern tracing sheets and decided that despite hating the PDF taping process it was far better than trying to trace. It is a bit like knitting for me, I just can't get the hang of it. Thank goodness for regular envelope sewing patterns printed on the tissue paper. I prefer them and if my favorite companies discontinue them someday then I will do all my sewing from vintage (and recent vintage) patterns that I will scour the listings of eBay for. Because as I have said many times - there are no new patterns!   (based on some of the indie releases recently that is a fact you could carve in stone! Seen it, sewn it, either wore it in high school or hated it when in style the previous time). Eek, I have been sewing a long time but I will remind you I started when in about 3rd grade so that is a good while for styles to cycle around. That is my story and I am sticking to it!

My absolute favorite pattern of the year was one of those not vintage but not new patterns that I stumbled upon, New Look 6677 which is a simple yet elegant tunic top I have used 4 times and will probably make more versions next spring. It works in a lot of different fabrics and has no closures so super quick to sew. Pattern Love !  I also used New Look 6374 which is a new pattern and that one will see some repeats as well.

blue eyelet top front viewpurple silk top on form 2

I tried to limit my coat sewing this year and succeeded which is great because I already have way too many wool coats that I love and a girl can only wear one at a time, right?
Another pattern repeat, this is Simplicity 2311 which is a great basic pattern and just right for this lovely green wool coating. And I have had more than a few strangers comment on how much they like the coat and color when I am out and about. Those are always a jolt of pure happiness, right?

green coat view2edit

So jewel tones, lots of tops, and pattern repeats (including this Vogue dress which I always wanted to sew again and finally did this past summer.) Emerald green, purple, royal blue, bright coral, and a smattering of denim. Those are my hues and I am sticking with them! A few striped items, including a striped dress in predominately black which I am sincerely meh about, although I love the pattern. (A lot of readers liked it so I will give it another try when the weather warms up) Maybe it will go to a friend of mine and I will remake it in a fabric I like better.

I have to mention my Random Threads posts - it appears I wrote nine of those this past year and they are some of my most popular posts with people who don't ordinarily comment doing so. I love that! It's great to have found a way to get a bunch of topics (and nitpicks) off my chest and into a discussion. Or at least know that things strike the same chord with so many of us. If you think of some other topics I can include in a Random Threads post send 'em my way - I can produce an opinion on most any sewing topic (oh who can't, right?).

This past year I have had the pleasure of teaching sewing to more individuals and I look forward to meeting more of you in 2017. Plus it's great when I hear from some of my previous students - send pictures - I love to see what you are sewing.

And of course a big highlight was my trip to New York - which was 5 days of pure fun, fantastic shopping and great food. Getting the opportunity to meet people who I knew were already my friends  - although we had not met in person previously - proved the power of the internet and all our various ways to connect. It was more fun than I could have imagined and I will definitely be back.

As I have said every year, the very best part of writing this blog is getting to know other people who sew, and in fact meeting people from all corners of the globe who share my passion for the art. 

If you had told little 3rd grade me way back when I was sitting in front of my Singer sewing machine, struggling to put in a zipper that someday I would make friends all over the world because of what I was doing at that very moment it would have been hard to imagine. I'm so glad that I figured out how to put in that zipper and I'm so glad to meet all of you, whether in person or on the blog. 

Wishing everyone happiness, health and good fabric finds for 2017!

Happy New Year,