Friday, January 12, 2018

Sewing on a whim: Faux Fur and leather vest McCalls 7693

Do you every make something completely on a whim? An item that is totally unnecessary - more than that, something that you think when will I even wear this? I find that is exactly what I have done, and spent far more time than reason would suggest to sew up this faux fur vest. Which like many things is difficult to photograph, keep scrolling for a better look.

M7693 faux fur vest

I mean, really? I blame Stone Mountain fabrics. In the best possible way 😊.
One day I was there to get a specific color lining - or something very practical like that and just out of the corner of my eye I spied a bin filled with all kinds of interesting furry remnants. The first thing I pulled out was this one - which is a black faux fur on one side and a shimmery black faux leather on the other side. And the piece was $ 12. Madness overtook me and I bought it. Thinking maybe to use for collars or some such details. But no, the idea of a vest entered my mind and here we are.

However the sewing was a saga. It seemed interminable!!! Perhaps because I wanted to retain that leather side, I decided to make it unlined. This seemed like a shortcut but no. More on that later. I wanted to use a simple pattern and I wanted it to have some kind of collar as my neck is always cold, so this pattern seemed like a good choice, as it was a vest and had an interesting collar. In the end I made it work but it was a long way to get there.  McCalls 7693 is the pattern I used.

M7693 pattern envelope

First up - a little pattern alteration. I realized that the collar piece is cut on the bias. But my fabric had no give at all, behaved like leather, so I had to create a rounded back neck section to do with shape what a bias pattern piece could do. I did a small adjustment on the front to lengthen, and then copied all the pattern pieces so I could cut everything at once instead of flipping or cutting two layers which with this odd remnant was not possible.  Here is the layout, I cut with the fur facing down, and still have some sizable chunks remaining for future luxurious embellishments on yet to be imagined projects.

fur vest cutting out


M7693 faux fur vest in sun

And to think I wasn't going to include pockets. Good thing I came to my senses during the construction because now they seem absolutely necessary.

Back to sewing. Here it is completed. This neat and tidy photo does not indicate the amount of fuzz that I have recently endured in my sewing space. And on whatever I'm wearing. And find in every room of the house. I finally came up with a technique which can be referred to as shake the heck out of it and let rain all those little hairs until every pattern piece had shed its fuzzy edges and was relatively safe to handle.

fur vest on form

Details of the sewing conundrum. Since I decided not to line it, then the collar needed some kind of finish on the underside. So the collar was lined and I flipped the seam to the underside of the shawl, so it is actually clean finished on the inside of the neckline and then covered by the lining under collar.  Hard to explain but if you sew this pattern it would make sense. This photo below shows the shawl collar with the lining, which is machine stitched at the outer edge, and then hand stitched to the vest where all the pins are. It gave a tidy finish and I got through a few movies while sitting and stitching.

fur vest before elastic

Note the two piece back. After I was putting it together, I was really sorry that I cut it in two pieces, because the seam did nothing for the fur look, and just made it stiff. But as always, a few hours of dress form time gave me an idea, so I flipped the bottom piece so the leather was on the outside. And to me much better. Also the pattern has no shaping, and in a fabric this might work but the stiffness of the faux fur/leather made it look like a barrel in the back. So I put elastic in the back and it gives it some nice shaping and interest. I think it makes it look more like real leather.

fur vest back view on form


M7693 faux fur vest back view

Back to hand sewing. Call me crazy but I didn't like how the seam allowances behaved once it was stitched together, so I hand stitched every one flat. And in the case of the collar I hand stitched them down before enclosing with the collar lining. Which is a scrap of charcoal grey silk charmeuse I found in my lining scrap bin. Despite all the hand sewing, the actual machine sewing was a breeze. No special treatment - no walking foot, used pins, regular 80 universal needle.

fur vest inside stitching

The armholes are also bound with the silk charmeuse.

faux fur vest armhole binding

All in all I'm very satisfied with the way the collar turned out, it feels great and has the right amount of shaping for a nice shawl collar.

M7693 faux fur vest closeup


The last spot that I had to do a bit of improvising was at the center front sections below the waist seam. In the end I decided to finish them off with more silk and then leave the bottom end raw. The pockets are attached to the waist seam so they won't peek out below the hem edge. I really like the leather side and wish I could have figured out a way to use more of it.

fur vest inside front lapel


M7693 faux fur vest white background2

Every once in a while it's nice to sew something completely wacky, just to stretch the creative muscles. And astound your friends by declaring that you made it.


Time to dash - (can you tell I am enamored of the action shots these days, although I spared you a GIF...next time)

M7693 faux fur vest 2


Happy New Year Sewing,

Beth

By the way, at Hello Stitch Studio in February we have the Copy A Garment class again so if you have a beloved item that is getting past it's prime - clone it! My next blog post should be my copied pants which I am really happy and plan to make pants in any color that strikes my fancy.

Other classes are listed on their website, and if you have a particular class. specific garment or pattern you would like to do in a class please let me know - we're open to any class ideas.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2017 sewing review and look ahead

Happy New Year! Thinking about what I sewed this year, and looking for some theme I realized that as usual I went where my mood and new fabric purchases took me. I am not much of a planner however I did kind of tell myself that I would try to resist the temptation to sew any new coats and jacket. To my surprise I mostly succeeded with that idea. After all I have so many already! In fact on Christmas eve I put on my tricolor coat to go to mass, and that was the first time I had worn it this season. So I'm glad to give sewing coats a rest, although I did make some for other people.

In fact - one of my best items of the year might have been one of the earliest projects, a camel colored cashmere long vest which I sewed for my friend Alice. She bought the fabric in NY at Metro Textiles the previous October. Although I always want to call it a sleeveless coat - which I suppose is a vest. Anyway - here's the post with pattern details.

Alice coat 4

I did sneak one jacket in for myself, which was this blue wool jacket sewn using a Vogue pattern that is about 16 years. Not quite vintage but not new. There are a lot of really great Vogue designer patterns published in the 90's and 2000's.

blue jacket unbuttoned

I sewed a lot of tops, knit tops, woven shirts - so many shirts! I think this is my favorite one, cotton poplin from Mood Fabrics. All my shirts are the same pattern - a very basic Simplicity pattern that I started using maybe 5 years ago and see no need to change 😊

Green paisley shirt front view

Partly because I was doing some specific construction technique posts for Craftsy, but mostly as practice in order to teach at Hello Stitch Studio which opened in May in Berkeley. It's a great space for sewing and classes, the light is beautiful and those big cutting tables are fantastic. We have all kinds of classes scheduled for January and February so if you are in the area check it out. Or even if you are from outside the area and are coming to N. Cal - plenty of airbnb's nearby if you want to make a weekend of it.

Hello Stitch studio view

We have upcoming classes in on knit t-shirts, button front shirts, and I believe we have a space open in this weekend's coat making workshop. If you have piece of wool in your stash that needs to get off the shelf and onto the cutting table to be a new winter coat or jacket here's the link.

Also I wrote a LOT of posts for the Craftsy sewing blog this year, and have created a page here on this blog with links to all of them. One pictured below is how to attach a shirt collar, two different ways. I think the most popular post I had on the Craftsy sewing blog this year is this post on how to change the neckline for knit top patterns.

Collar tutorial


As evidenced by my quick analysis of my own sewing, I made a lot of knit tops, woven tops, a few items in other categories, and a few dresses. That's another category where I have too many - but how difficult is it to resist the siren call of a cute dress pattern?

So speaking of dresses, my absolute favorite dress that I made this year has to be the embroidered denim shift dress.

flower denim dress garden square

Denim! flowers! sleeveless! all my favorite things in one dress. When I saw this fabric at Stone Mountain I jumped up and down with glee. And I wore it so much. And will do next summer and the one after that.

What about new patterns? As per usual I tend to want to sew some new patterns but then usually decide I can make just what I have in mind with a pattern I already have. However I did use more new patterns this year than I have in a while, including Waffle, Closet Case, and my European favorite, Pauline Alice Patterns.


pie chart new patterns used

Including testing Pauline's new summer pattern, the Mirambel skirt, which turned out to be the summer skirt I didn't know I needed! (worn with my sparkly chambray top, fabric for that from Stone Mountain). July was a good sewing month - 3 items sewn that are among my favorites.

Mirambel skirt on me sq

One other development in the category of patterns is that I finally subscribed to BurdaStyle Pattern magazine. And I've already made one top,  with plans to make another item from this issue. (Jacket # 118). Actually I tried it for a 3-month subscription, and even if I don't use it much I enjoy getting the issue in the mail and sitting down for a read-through. But I'll use it.

Burda cover Dec 2017

So that's 2017 - at least a few of the sewing highlights. Onward to 2018. I have so many projects started and not yet finished, which is really unlike me. I'm usually a finish one thing and move on to the other of sewer. Plus this faux fur vest is going to do me in, so much fuzz. I even gave it a once over with my vacuum attachment hoping to minimize the black fibers. Almost done though :)


faux fur vest with pattern


Thank you to everyone for all your wonderful comments throughout the year.  I say it every year, but I will always be grateful that writing this blog has given me the opportunity to get to know people from all around the world that are as crazy about sewing as I am. Socializing, trading patterns, and getting out of the sewing room to meet new sewing friends is the very best part of this blog.

Happy New Year, 
Beth




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