Monday, October 11, 2021

A silk shirt post with lots of construction details

It finally feels like fall here in N. California. Not exactly coat and scarf weather but a slight nip in the air, and some falling leaves. Actually today is a swirl of fallen leaves and a red alert for wind and fire danger but we will cross our fingers and hope for the best. This is the scariest time of year and I don't mean Halloween!

Last week my sewing thoughts turned to long sleeved shirts and I decided to use this beautiful silk crepe de chine fabric. My favorite local sewing store Stone Mountain Fabric  has just reopened to the public after being online only during these many months and this silk fabric is the last thing I bought in person there. In fact purchases the very day before we started the first day of lockdown here in California back in March 2020. 

Blue shirt1

I've been doing a lot of preparation lately for my jacket class that starts next week, so I have construction details on the brain and thought I would share some of my silk shirt construction methods with this post. I used to do more detailed posts and would like to do some more this fall and winter. The problem is remembering to take pictures as I sew!

For this shirt I've used the same exact pattern that I use for almost every button front shirt I make. I like the size and shape of the collar and the way it fits across the shoulders, so why try something different when a shirt pattern is just the starting point. I have changed this same pattern up to do a popover placket, gathers instead of darts, hidden buttonhole placket, cut-on faux button band, faced front and tunic top versions so if you check the search bar on the side of the blog you can see many other versions. It's Simplicity 2339 which is an Amazing Fit pattern from around 7 years ago? 

To start with I evaluate the fabric and decide which method I will use for the closure at the center front and then which interfacings would give me the shaping I want. For this shirt the fabric was just about the same as this one, which I wear A LOT and whatever I did was successful so I decided to use those methods. (actually if you look at that post there are some god construction details) However I couldn't remember what I used in the collar/collar stand so I unpicked it a little bit at the center back neckline so I could see into the seams. As it turned out I used a combo of lightweight fusible and silk organza. Also I used facings at the front, so there is no sewn-on button band. Sometimes on a silk shirt I think it looks smoother with facings. 

In the photo below I'm getting ready to apply the fusible to the collar, and so I place the fusible on the silk pattern piece, pin it lightly down and then use the paper pattern piece to make sure the shape is retained. Some fabrics just seem to wiggle or change shape and then once you apply the fusible you are stuck with an incorrect shape. I do this a lot with a variety of pattern pieces, particularly V-necklines to make sure they are still the same shape as the paper pattern piece. 

Silk shirt collar fusible

I do the same for the collar stand, check the shape before fusing. For the collar stand side with the silk organza, that fabric is quite stable, it stays the same shape as the paper pattern piece so you can use that as the guide when joining that to the fabric. 

Next up is taking care of the facings. I like to use the fusible which is in fact a woven fabric to finish the edge of the facing by stitching them right sides together and then flipping over the fusible, clipping the seam and then fusing the rest in place. It is a bit of a fiddly process as you don't want to fuse it crooked, or with a wrinkle so I just move the iron about 1/4" at a time from the seam edge towards the other edge. 

Facing edge with fusible

The result is a very clean finished edge inside the shirt, and then you have the facing showing where the neck falls open at the top, so you see the right side of the fabric. This fabric has a distinctive different shade of blue on the wrong side and for a while I was trying to figure out how to use that as an accent but it's not really distinctive enough so I let go of that idea.

Blue silk shirt facing

Silk shirt front

I wish I had measured the piece before I started cutting it out, it was probably 1.5 yards of 55" wide fabric. So that's enough for me to make most shirts or tops with some inventive cutting out - however I did have to omit the inner yoke piece in silk. In fact I often use some solid lightweight fabric there anyway so it worked out. 

Blue silk shirt inside

As I was sewing I realized I wanted the seams at the side and in the sleeves to have some nicer seam finishes so I did what I think is a faux french seam, in that I press it open and then press to create two folds which are stitched closed. Perhaps more work than the traditional method of a french seam but I never remember to do it and then have to use this. So often I am just sewing on auto-pilot with something playing in the background. I'm currently watching a variety of British, French and Italian mysteries on Britbox and Mhz channels. And I definitely need the subtitles on the French so that means I pay more attention to the screen than to my sewing :). 

Silk shirt french seam

For the cuffs I put both a lightweight fusible and then on one side I put silk organza, that combo gives the cuffs just the right amount of stiffness. I just cut out some "close enough" pieces, baste them on and then trim to match the cuff edge. 

Silk cuffs interfacing

Silk shirt back

Blue shirt back

I wanted the back to be loose and flowy so I put a small pleat in the center back. 
For the cuffs on these silk shirts I don't do a tower placket, I prefer the continuous binding which is a bit softer. 

Blue silk shirt cuff

So that's the latest on my start of fall sewing. I am vowing NOT to make any coats this year, I've made 3 in the past 18 months and the red coat only had one wear. I plan to wear that all through the holiday season!! 

It will be blazer sewing from now to Thanksgiving. We start the Live/Online Jacket Tailoring class next week on Tuesday night. There's still time to register, here on the Hello Stitch website.  It's  Tues/Thurs 6-7:30pm so hopefully that works no matter your time zone. And you don't need to have all your supplies for the first class as I will be covering a lot of that information then and you can get your project together after that.

I've now taught a couple of in-person classes at the studio and it was really fun to be there, I think a lot of people either started sewing during the pandemic or decided it was time to learn because we are almost fully booked. In January I think we will have lots more garment sewing classes so I will update when we get the schedule finalized. 

I'm looking forward to wearing my new silk shirt, and this is actually how I will probably wear it most of the time, underneath a cashmere sweater. 

Blue shirt with sweater2

Happy Sewing,

For today's garden photo, a closer look at those hydrangeas which were a bright lilac blue earlier in the summer. I tend to leave them on the plants and just see what colors they turn. The other day I saw a floral designer refer to this hydrangea bloom as "antiqued" which is I suppose a fancy name for fading flowers. 


Thursday, September 30, 2021

Tops: knit and woven

 It's always fun to make a new dress but really when I analyze my sewing output it's the tops that get the most use. So I decided to dive into the stash and use up both some fabric from the stash and a new arrival. 

First up the stash fabric. This is a cotton and silk blend voile that I ordered from Mood Fabrics maybe two years ago? I was 54" wide so I only ordered 1 yard thinking I would make a summer top. But now that summer is coming to an end I decided to make a slightly more season spanning top. Only slightly, as it is very light and floaty, this fabric is dreamy. 

Pink top 3

And I'm wearing it with my favorite denim skirt made a few years ago. At the time I called it the best skirt pattern ever and it hasn't been surpassed although I just recently bought the Anzu cargo skirt from Waffle patterns which seems like the perfect travel item.

The key to this pattern is a really lightweight fabric, it needs to gather softly in the front and then the neckband is a wide bias piece. 

pink white top front back 

I've sewn this top pattern 3 times now, and there will probably be more. It's from the Burdastyle Feb 2018 issue No. 120, although each time I've made it with very much shorter sleeves. Elbow length sleeves drive me crazy, they always get bunched up inside jacket sleeves. Here's the first version, and the second. 

Burdastyle 2-2018-120 drawing

Pink top 5

It does wrinkle a lot, after being tucked in it was very crumpled but it pressed perfectly. So I guess this is not one of those tops that you start the day tucked in and then change that up later. 

Top Number 2 is something that caught my as soon as I saw the preview for the preview of the June 2020 issue. I love things with square necklines.  You might notice, same day - quick change for blog photos :) 

Green stripe3

I kept looking at this fabric on the Girl Charlee website and finally decided I had to try it plus the price was too good to pass up. The colors are just perfect with my wardrobe. It's a rib knit which I haven't used much, and now that I've worn it a couple of times I will go back and make it a bit tighter around the waist and hem as it's too loose there. 

green stripe T front and back

Here's the pattern image from the BurdaStyle magazine, the pattern is June 2021 No. 108.

Burda knit top
You can see that I didn't do the peplum version (no thank you!) nor the side gathers, I just made it a regular T-shirt. This pattern will go into my "to be remade" file as it's just right for an interesting knit top and I could change the sleeve design to make it more interesting. 

Green stripe2

I'm very happy with how the stripes turned out, I could have done some matching of the shoulder inset piece but I thought it might look weird, and they they would show up as separate pieces. The shoulder piece is at a slight angle anyway.  One fit note I have is that I narrowed the center front part of the neckline by about 1/2"  by pinching out 1/4" on either side of the center front fold line before cutting out. I could just tell that the neckline would be too wide on me as most are. I could even take out a tiny bit more for my next version. 

green stripe matching

And in other news, I am smiling because we are back to in-person classes at Hello Stitch Studio. Although most of our classes scheduled for Oct-Dec are almost full or sold out!  People are ready to get back to doing things and I couldn't agree more. Fortunately we have a very high vax rate here in the bay area as well as people mostly being careful (sensible) about masking etc. So it's just very wonderful to feel some normalcy returning and I hope it stays that way. 

pink top 2 

I do have an online class starting in October, which is Intro to Tailoring: Make your own Blazer. That will be on weeknights Tues/Thurs 6-7:30pm. And it's not pattern specific, so you can use any pattern you would like.

Other than that I'm trying to do some painting projects around my house now that it's not a thousand degrees every day (exaggeration but 110ºF does not make you want to do fix-it projects). We are all crossing our fingers and hoping for a calm fire season - the ones currently burning in N. California are terrible enough but at least in the bay area the air has not been like last year, with the famous orange days. October is actually the most windy month when a lot of fires have started. On a more positive note the Giants are in the race for the playoffs and we are hoping for weeks more of baseball in San Francisco. 

Pink top1

Happy Sewing,

Today's garden photo, these dahlias which grow about 3 feet tall but the flowers are quite small. The color is so nice. I've had almost no blooms on my dahlias this summer and I have to try some different ones next year. 


Friday, September 10, 2021

A different kind of wrap dress: Patrones 423 #10

Almost every month I buy the digital issue of Patrones pattern magazine. While I don't make all that many things I like to look at it almost like a fashion magazine, plus it's on my iPad so always at hand if I want to browse. I still haven't quite figured out their sizing and details for my fit. Their number sizes are shifted slightly from Burda, but with my metric conversions I determined that the Patrones size 40 is pretty much the same as Burda 38, at least in the bodice so that's what I start with. Although I think last winter I made a coat that wasn't quite roomy enough. Like I said - still working out the fit on these patterns. If you want to see my first project with Patrones here's that post from last summer. 

Here's a dress I just made from their recent Issue 423, "Vestidos Faciles" which is "easy dresses" and I can say I complicated it a bit as I didn't quite understand what I was making based on their photos. But it came out well in the end.  

Green dot dress8

By the way I took all these photos in the morning which I usually don't do but we were having a triple digit heatwave and I wanted to get outside before it was too hot. So the colors are a bit all over the place. 

Here's a much better look at this dress on the dress form. As usual with any pattern I did some changes as I went along, and ended up with very long ties, but since it is a lightweight fabric I think it looks ok tied as a bow. The fabric is from Once in a while I order from them and I've been quite happy with the silks and rayons so that's mostly what I look at on their site. 

Green dot dress on form

Here's the page from the Patrones pattern App with their version and the diagrams. I like the red version but since I wanted to try this dress and had this lightweight woven rayon in my stash it was a good match for the pattern. 

Patrones 423 # 10

And now I will confess that I saw that photo of the back and ties held open and didn't really think through on how it would work when worn. In fact I got it all finished and then wrapped it around and it made a big bunch in the center back. After playing around with it for a while I figured the only way it would work would be to go through an opening just like a regular wrap dress, DUH! and then I read the Spanish instructions with a bit of translate help and realized that yes - you need to leave an opening in one side.  

Green dot dress back wrap outside

So that's how it works, the one side passes through the side opening just like any other wrap dress, just that is one wraps in the back. I don't think I've made a dress of this style in a long time or I just wasn't really paying attention. The back V-neckline could have used some interfacing so that it held the shape a little better I think, as it is a bit wobbly. 

green dot dress5

green dot dress tie

Since I really didn't pay attention to the instructions I constructed the whole back, including the tie ends, and then attached the skirt portion with zipper completed to the back bodice. I also constructed the whole front, including skirt, and then sewed the shoulder seams and the neck lining seams. Turned it inside, pressed and under stitched, and then I can fit the side seams as needed once I try it on. This is the order I do most all dresses. 

green dot dr wrap inside view

I turned it inside out on the dress forms so you can see the lining. I used a cotton voile for the bodice as it is the most comfortable for summer dresses, but for the skirt I had a bit piece of rayon bemberg so that  is the skirt lining. I really thought about making a separate half slip instead of attached lining as them I could wear it with other dresses and I still might take the lining off and do that. Maybe next summer!

green dot dress3

There is something about the V-neckline on this dress that I'm not so happy with. I followed the pattern as designed and the V came out very straight, like a triangle, and I prefer a V-neckline to be ever so slightly curved. But probably only I noticed it. And now you, as I have pointed it out :)

For the skirt I also did a bit of cheating, as I had looked at the Patrones skirt pattern pieces and realized they were almost exactly the same as the skirt pieces on a Burda dress I made previously, so I used those.
Here's a quick look at the pattern PDF from Patrones, they are just 9 pages with the pattern pieces overlaid on those, but SO much easier to trace than a magazine as it is just one pattern.

Patrones pdf info

If you want to see the whole Patrones PDF I put a short video here. 

Another sewing detail on the lining is that I don't use the pattern pieces to make a lining for the skirt portion, I just approximate the width, length, and angle of the seaming and then cut out a front on the fold and a back with a seam, and then add to the bodice by folding in pleats as I pin it on prior to sewing. It saves fabric and is quite quick to sew.

green dot dress inside lining

So that's the latest on my almost end of summer sewing. It's getting dark earlier and I think I'm ready to make a jacket or two.  

At Hello Stitch Studio we have in-person classes scheduled starting in September !! So exciting. And as Stacey, one of the owners predicted, they are filling up fast. In fact the first two classes I'm doing which are aimed at beginners are sold out. Whew! I think a lot of people got a little taste of sewing during their lockdown time and are ready to branch out into making their own clothes. Other classes coming up are a Fit Lab, Garment Copying, and then later in the fall a Quilted Jacket class. Plus I am doing a 6-week online Jacket Making class starting in October. Some people have found that the live online classes really work well for their life and schedule (not to mention location as we have people from all over the country).  If you want to get updated on any of these classes I suggest you get on the email list for Hello Stitch and then you will get the class updates. 

I'm not so sure about the color or the polka dots of this fabric, but it is a cheerful dress and I will probably wear it next summer. This year I just got to wear some of the things I made last summer!
Perhaps the bigger win of the pandemic is that I have been cutting my hair - for better or worse for the last 18 months. And I can't see all that much difference from when I went to the salon, so I don't know what that says about my style. Anyway I think I will continue for the time being. More $$ for fabric, right? 

green dot dress4

Happy End of Summer Sewing,

Today's garden photo, a hydrangea that has lived in a pot for more than 3 years and is still putting out these luscious pink blooms. I'm hesitant to move or repot as it is doing so well. 

Pink Hydrangea

Monday, August 30, 2021

Sew sustainable dress and top

During this past 18 months I have purchased very little fabric and yet sewn quite a few items. It seems this was the year when everyone was stuck at home during various lockdowns, and deciding to do a bit of destashing. So quite a few people said "do you want this?" and most of the time I said yes. Needing to sew samples for my Hello Stitch classes for the past few years has used up some fabric in my own stash and I just can't resist if someone has a lovely jewel colored piece of fabric. Sometimes I hit the jackpot - this jacket was a fabric that someone gave to me and I wear it a lot. I belong to a local sewing group and they have occasional stash sales, so recently I added quite a few nice things to my fabric inventory. 

When a fabric costs me just a few dollars and is something I picked up on a whim it seems ideal for using to sew up patterns that are a bit of an experiment for me. This past year I've tried a number of shapes and silhouettes that haven't made it to the blog. So one upside of this weird year has been the time to experiment and not really care how things turn out. Just sewing and having something to pass the time has been great.

So that is a long way of saying that I've made a dress that I don't really like and will probably not wear, or maybe it will be a beach cover up when the opportunity to travel returns. The colors are great but the fabric is not really my preference and I have no idea what it is, other than probably more than a few years old. Sometimes you can tell by the smell of a fabric, and also I think it was a strange width. Anyway I made a dress from a recent Burda magazine - although I changed it up considerably. But the basic style of it could fall into the nap dress, or buffet dress category. ( If you've watched the recent British Sewing Bee that's the term they used and I like it!) 

Burda dress 4

This pattern (Burda 07/2021 # 120) has a darted bodice with a center front that extends straight down to the hem, and then the skirt is a gathered rectangle seamed at the center back. It's meant to fit loosely as you can see in the drawing. I left off the sleeves because summer dresses and sleeves don't mix for my weather. Then I decided the neckline was a bit boring so I gave it the same treatment as a dress I made in the summer of 2019. A dress that I adore and love to wear, and one that I redesigned on the fly to have the cutouts front and back. 

2021 image copy

Burda dress1

In fact now that I am looking at these pictures maybe I will cut it off and make it a top, perhaps with some cropped pants I might wear it. Because those are definitely my colors!

pink blue nap dress 1

But there's more - This was quite a long piece of fabric that I purchased for a few bucks, enough to try out a top as well.
And to continue my trouser experiments with the Tatjana Trousers pattern from Just-Patterns. 

Pants 2

A couple of posts ago I showed how I removed the pleats from the front of the trousers and made some shorts.   The fuller legs are ideal for a walking short style but now I wanted to make a slim leg pant so I continued with my modified (pleat-less) pattern pieces and used another Threads magazine article to narrow the legs. Here's the link to that article on the Threads website which is available (not behind their Insider paywall). I found it really helpful, there are probably a few methods to achieve this but I liked how it worked. I printed it out and stuck it in my special binder of things to keep  - which also includes my first welt pocket lesson and my first zip fly notes :)   Here's a look at the diagram in this article. They do a really good job with their diagrams I think. 

Diagram pants narrowing

Diagram narrow pants2

And a look at my my scribbly calculations for my adjustments. Sometimes I long for the metric system in sewing but I will never get there, my brain thinks in 1/8 of an inch!

Here's the back which I have lightened up considerably as black pants are never easy to photograph. While the fit might not be perfect I'm fairly satisfied. Time to mention that I have a considerable asymmetry due to spine issues which I hide for the most part in my sewing but is a nightmare for pants fitting. So in the words of the song, I choose to "let it go" and fit them well enough without going crazy. 

Back pants lightened

So these pants were kind of a test, I have plenty of black pants so I really didn't need another pair but they are wearable and now I'm ready to make some others this winter. 

The top is also from Burda, it's 08/2021 #109.  Another thing I'm ambivalent about. I did add bust darts which were fine but the armholes are too low for me and the whole thing is kind of droopy. If I sew it again, which I might, I will take it up by 1/4" at the shoulder seam and that will do it. 

Burda knot top1

Knot front top Burda image

The stripe version is cute and it doesn't take much fabric so I will keep the pattern pieces for future scrap busting opportunities. 

B;lack pants3

So that's the latest on my summer sewing. Which has been all over the place but after so much stay at home time I feel disinclined to sew up new clothes for myself when some of the recent ones have not even been worn.  

Up next, I'm making a summer birthday sundress, which I will wear! she says determinedly.  And starting in on some sample sewing for upcoming classes at Hello Stitch Studio. We're planning a 6-week online jacket making class starting in October. We scheduled some in-person classes for introductory sewing and they are all sold out - which is very gratifying. I think once we get back in the swing of things we will have more in person classes as well as continue with the online classes which were really well received. 

Now time to either nap or go to a buffet. Just kidding, I'm off for a swim as it's again around 100ºF here today. And pray for some rain which is very unlikely - better to hope for no wind and some luck for our brave firefighting crews here in the golden state. 

Burda dress2

Happy Summer Sewing,

The garden is limping along with the drought and I'm glad I have planted so many California natives which tolerate this water shortage. Here's a great example, this penstemon which has gorgeous pink blooms. And I've succeeding grown another one from a cutting! Free plants - so happy about that.