Monday, January 24, 2022

Blanca Jumpsuit in Floral Corduroy

Sometimes I come across a piece of fabric and instantly know what I want to sew with it. There are several textile and sewing groups in my area that have periodic fundraising sales of fabrics, supplies and patterns where I've found some real gems. I snagged this piece of floral corduroy earlier this year and thought it would be great for another Blanca flight suit for my friend Halnya. It's rare to find a nice floral corduroy, it must be a few years old as it has no stretch and was 45" wide but the piece was around 4 yards so enough to fit the jumpsuit with a bit of pattern puzzling. I made this pattern last spring when I taught an online class and it's fun to put together. More details below but FYI I'm doing this class again starting Feb 1, here's the link


She is a fashion risk taker so was very happy to wear this jumpsuit which I think has a 70's look about it. Here's a better look at this fabric. I think it actually looks better with a leather belt rather than the fabric belt. I really like corduroy and unlike other fabrics that I am fine with ordering online, for corduroy I want to feel it and see the weight and the color in person. Lately I've been looking for stretch corduroys in interesting colors, it's always on my list and if I see some I will buy for the stash. I guess it's out there but I find that the price seems too high for my liking. For some reason I would pay a fortune for a imported wool but I feel like corduroy should be in the $10-$15/yard range which is probably unrealistic. 
Anyway - this was a bargain of a few dollars, and then I ordered a zipper from Wawak, their selection and shipping speed is amazing. 

Back pockets blanca

If you note in this photo above I made a change to the sleeve design. On the pattern the long sleeve has a seam down the center and then no cuff, just a snap to make it smaller at the wrist. Which is feature that I didn't really care for so I extended the short sleeve pattern piece into a long sleeve and added a cuff with snaps. 
For cuffs I just decide how wide I want them, how much overlap, measure the finished sleeve opening (where I added a small pleat) and then draw up the cuff piece right on the fabric. And then use that one to cut out the second.

making cuff blanca

For the opening into the cuff I just used the continuous bound placket and then let the underlap of the cuff be about one inch longer so that the cuff would overlap.

sewing on cuff blanca

Since the zipper was metal I thought that snaps would look good on the cuffs instead of buttons so that gave me an opportunity to get out my snap tools. Which consist of a bunch of snap kits that I keep in an old metal cookie tin. So many sewing supplies in old metal cookie tins, right? Another one is full of buttons. 

applying snaps blanca

I've found that these Dritz snap kits actually work very well. The key to using these is to follow the diagram on the package exactly. Also not lose any of the little pieces! Now I just buy replacement snaps as I have the snap setting components that came in the kit. Also when I apply the snaps I put the rubber disc on a piece of wood and then the snap holder plus snaps/garment on that, and then hammer on that. The block of wood gives a firm surface to hammer onto and also kind of absorbs the hammer blow so the snap doesn't smash but locks into place. 

Here's a look at this pattern and the technical drawing.

blanda jumpsuit cover art

When I first made this I was a bit cautious as I really don't like sewing bulky zippers but it came out fine. In my class I have some further details but here are a couple of tips for getting this zipper in just right. 

Zipper top Blanca

When it comes to zippers I work from the top down, as this type of zipper is very visible on the garment and the opening is the most important. It has to be even at each side of the collar.  I mark the stitch line where the collar will attach and then placed the top of the zipper in relation to that line. Then I pin the zipper down to the zipper stop. As it happened this zipper was a bit too long so I cut off the bottom, hand sewed a new zipper stop and then covered the bottom with lining. I did remove the teeth from the zipper tape below the new stop. 

basted zipper blanca

After fixing the bottom of the zipper I hand basted the whole thing and then it was ready to stitch in. I find it takes a few minutes to hand baste in something like a 22 inch zipper but the time is so well worth it as you can then sew it in by machine, with no pins and be sure that it's in just the right location, and centered. 

collar blanca

So that's a second go round with this pattern and I think another friend wants one so it may again be on my to-do list. Meanwhile I might also make up another Merchant and Miller Boiler Suit for Stacey as she wears her first one constantly. I made both of these pattern back in April when I did my online class for Jumpsuit/Boilersuit and that will start again in February, here's the listing on the Hello Stitch website.  I'm happy to say that Hello Stitch will continue as an online entity and continue to offer classes in sewing and quilting so I will be teaching more online classes this year. 


I'm turning into a jumpsuit fan, maybe I will even make one for myself!


Up next, more completed things to post here, and on my calendar next weekend a trip to Britex with my friend Heather. I want a tweedy wool in tones of burgundy for a jacket, and she wants some camel color wool for a coat. That's the plan but who knows what we will come home with!

Happy winter sewing,

Today's garden photo, a flower from the mallow bush that I got a few years ago at the local community college horticultural department sale. The flowers are so pretty and this thing is incredibly hardy, I think it's about 6 ft x 6ft now and that's with a periodic chop. 


Friday, January 14, 2022

New Pattern Reviews: Butterick 6862 blazer and VikiSews Lora Pants

This year I'm going to try and do more posts about the patterns that I sew, with sewing details and definitely some critiques. When I make things for myself it's usually for one of the following reasons.

  1. I need an item to wear to an event. (although events have been thin on the ground as we well know these past 18 months. Also my closet could probably yield anything required).
  2. A new-to-me pattern that I just feel like sewing. It could be a new release pattern, something that catches my eye, or a vintage pattern. But at the moment I notice it I can imagine how I might wear it, and then my "must make" urge sets in. 
  3. Fabric attraction. Very often I come across a fabric that appeals and I just want it in my wardrobe. 
I think most every who sews and reads this blog can relate to these feelings. Some people are wardrobe planners but I've never been that way, no plan for the year or pledge to sew up specific things. But I'm always on the lookout for novelty and yet I do repeat patterns a lot. For my Blazer Jacket class that I taught online last fall in addition to the Jasika blazer that I made for my friend I decided to try a jacket pattern that was a new release from Butterick. 
To sum up my response to this jacket pattern - I didn't like it! The fabric I used ended up being problematic (more on that below) but in general the pattern didn't work out for me and I will explain why. 
Although some of you might take one look at the color and blame it on that :) which is understandable. Also I didn't really need a matching pair of pants but wanted to further refine this VikiSews pants pattern and had the fabric to make them. 
pink suit2

To review:  I was looking to make a blazer during my class to show some construction techniques and also I wanted to make something different than a blazer pattern which I have made already 3 times, that being the Pauline Alice Saler blazer. Here's a look at one of my favorite versions. I've made a blazer with peak lapels as this Butterick blazer has, and I wanted to make a single breasted jacket as I have a double breasted version - which was also a success. But you know the desire to try something different always gets you when looking at patterns. Also this is a Palmer and Pletsch pattern and I've had such good success with those patterns. But this one - not so much.
Here's the pattern envelope image and the technical drawing.
B6862 Butterick jacket diagram
Once I start sewing things I get very particular on details such as the shape of the lapel or angle of the pocket. But for once I was determined to sew up a pattern as is so I could follow the instructions and discuss the steps in the class. As it turned out almost every one was making the Jasika or McCalls 6172 which is a good pattern I've recommended a lot. So in the end I didn't really need a second example to sew along with the class. But since I had started it I did continue. 
So what didn't I like about this pattern? I started with my usual size 12 in Vogue/Butterick/McCalls and yet I found this jacket very oversized in a way that it didn't appear on the pattern. The shoulders were a good inch wider than other jackets I have and I moved the sleeve cap in about 1/2". The slanted welt pockets didn't appeal to me, I preferred the flap pockets so I used the front hem shape from View B and the pockets from View A. Now looking at it I don't really care for that much of an angle on the front pockets, maybe just a look I have to get used to. The sleeves were really a problem, they were huge! in terms of width, like at the elbow way too wide. It's a two piece sleeve so I narrowed it using those seams but I still think they are a bit big. My biggest issue was with the lapel design. 

lapel change pink2 jacket
I think they are just an awkward shape and I've made other jackets with this lapel which seemed more elegant to me. I took these pictures showing the inside and outside of my lapel, before and after changing the shape so you can see that I sewed it very accurately and didn't have an issue with pressing and trimming. So I decided to do some redesign on the lapel shape and changed it into more of a standard notch lapel. It still looks a bit out of proportion to me but I think it looks better.

Pink jacket and blouse1

Now onto the fabric issues. I fully admit that this was a piece of fabric that was given to me so I had no investment in this project (other than time and interfacing). The color was pretty albeit a bit on the vibrant side, even for me. It seemed like a nice woven wool. But it was evil! There was something about this fabric that didn't press correctly and I've never run into this issue before. Sometimes sections would press perfectly well, and other areas would give a strange result, kind of a rippled bubble effect. 
Here's an example.  Look at that sleeve, I have pressed it normally and those wavy rippled lines appear. Sometimes I could press them out and other times pressing would make them appear. It was maddening. 

pink jacket fabric issue

Other areas pressed fairly well, both pockets came out OK which was good. By the way I bought that beautiful single button at Stone Mountain. So glad they are open for shopping again as their button wall is my go-to for perfect buttons, particularly for jackets and coats. 

pink jacket pocket and button

Here's another area that is a bit wavy, the lapel. Although I think I pressed this multiple times and got it to settle down. Using this fabric just reinforced my opinion that the plaid wool I used in the Jasika jacket was perfection. 

pink lapel

Pink jacket back

I think you can see how wide it is at the back of the armhole. I did make a muslin and moved the armhole in but it didn't seem quite so problematic. I figured it would hang differently (better) in wool than in a cotton muslin. Wrong!  In any case this whole project was just a disappointment and I don't have that happen very often. 
Shall we talk about something else?  I'm really impressed with VikiSews patterns. I bought this pants pattern to try them out, and they fit very well right from the start. 

pink pants2

The VikiSews patterns are single size patterns and I prefer that. I think for pants it's a lot easier to just start with your hip measurement, choose the size and then adjust other sections, like waist or length, as needed. I chose the size closest to my hip measurement and the website tells you how much ease is in a particular style. For this pattern the hip ease is 4 cm. so about 1.5 inches.  That's the total difference between your body and the finished garment, which seems about right for close fitting pants. 
Things I like about these patterns:
  1. The crease lines are indicated and you use those in the pressing to shape the pants.
  2. The pattern markings are excellent.
  3. The shape of the hips and crotch curve are more like ready-to-wear pants or at least pants that I own.
  4. The instructions are very detailed and specific on how to shape the pants front and back using pressing/steam before you ever sew a stitch. This is how I learned to make wool trousers and it really builds in fit and shaping before you even sew. 
  5. The instructions are photographs and are extremely detailed so you can't really go wrong. 
Vikisews pants image

pink pants front

Once again I will blame this annoying fabric for my less than stellar pressing. Also if I were planning to wear these pants I would have added a lining as this is a bit too itchy to wear without. But for working out this pattern it was fine. 

Here's a look at the diagram of this pattern so you can see the shaping. It definitely accounts for a hip curve which suits me well. I perhaps could have used one size smaller as I did have to shave off about a 1/4" at the widest part of the hip and also take out about 1" total at the center back waist but I tend to start with a larger pant as despite being relatively short I have a long rise. 
Lora pants diagram

Vikisews pants1
And here my expression says "what a lot of sewing time for something I am not going to wear." Although I am tempted since my suede shoes match so well with this outfit :) I neglected to take any pictures of the back of these pants so I will wait until I make another pair and get some better pictures then. 
So that's a start to my intention to blog more often and dive deep into sewing and pattern details. I have a few other items finished and then it may be time to contemplate spring sewing. What? Winter comes through fast here in N. California. Yesterday I saw plenty of out in shorts walking their dogs. Although we are hoping for more rain, still needed. 
I'm still teaching classes at Hello Stitch Studio in Berkeley, they are closing their doors as mentioned in my previous post but will be open through February. After that I have a some opportunities to teach at other venues so I will update soon.

Happy Winter Sewing,

Today's garden photo, something to remind us that summer is coming. I took this back in July and didn't even see the little extra visitor until later when I was looking at the image on my phone. I'm posting this today because due to that big rain we had last month, and then warm sunshine all the sunflower seeds that fell from these flowerheads are sprouting along my driveway, and some are almost 2 feet tall. Sunflowers in January! ok that is weird even for us. After some frosty nights they look a bit worse for wear but I think a few might make it and be full grown in a few months. Climate change in my front yard :)


Monday, January 3, 2022

Goodbye 2021 a quick review

To write a wrap-up post for this past year I looked back at what I wrote for my 2020 summary and kind of laughed, as in many respects I could have copied and pasted a lot of the same sentiments. I mean really - are we still here? Although to be fair this year has been much better than the previous weird one. Everyone (I mean everyone) I know is vaxed (cheers to the bay area!) and so life has been very much closer to normal here. Not 100% but a lot better. And perhaps the comparison to what was missing the previous year made a simple thing like having relaxing dinner with friends outside on a warm summer evening so much sweeter. 

Even though it felt like I was sewing constantly throughout the year I actually didn't make all that many things for myself. For one my closets are about to explode - how many summer dresses does a person need? Also I had hardly worn the things I made in 2020, so I used every opportunity to wear those things, and that made me happy. 

Closet 2020

1.Vintage Vogue DVF wrap dress, blog post. 
2. Denim Suit, Burda jacket pattern, blog post
3. Red wool coat, Burda pattern, blog post
4. Sundress, Burda pattern, blog post
And I have yet to wear this red dress but I will definitely do that this upcoming summer. Like I said, too many summer dresses!

So what took up my sewing time this year? Actually looking back I see that I made a number of things for other people. Mostly due to teaching online classes but that's how my friends end up as the recipient of some pretty nice item - if I so say so myself :)

sewed for others

1. Jasika blazer as example for my online tailoring class
2. Merchant and Mills boiler suit for jumpsuit class 
3. Closet Core Blanca jumpsuit for same class 
4. Vintage Vogue DVF wrap dress for a friend who went to Europe

I taught an online class almost every month this year and they have really been great. A very fun way to connect with sewists all over the country and world, and a good way in the difficult times to keep our sewing community together. In October Hello Stitch carefully resumed in-person classes and they were beyond filled up with every spot taken, I think a lot of people realized during the shutdown that making their own clothes was fun, rewarding and totally do-able. 

Hello Stitch Studio in Berkeley, where I have taught in-person classes since 2017 made it through the difficulties of the pandemic however they have decided to close their doors at the end of February. A variety of reasons but the short story is that the building was sold and they aren't able to find a suitable new space. I am so sad that they are closing but so grateful for the wonderful place that it had become. I couldn't have dreamed of a better opportunity to teach a big variety of classes to all levels and it's been a joy.

jacket class
My Tailored Jacket Class at Hello Stitch Studio in September 2019 

Meanwhile they are still offering online classes and I have a shirt-making class starting Jan. 11 and then a jumpsuit/boiler suit class in February.  Beyond that I'm working out some options for continuing to teach the live/online classes so I will be updating that soon. 

Despite getting out of the house and back into the world this year I also had some family members who ended up in the hospital and then recovering, not covid but accidents and other random things. Everyone is fine now but I spent a good amount of time on nurse duty which I am not exactly cut out for. And I have a very high regard for all the patient and kind medical personnel I encountered this year. They are champions!

So all that goes a long way to say I didn't sew all that much for myself this past year, and that was great. People keep giving me fabric which is also fine as I end up using a lot of yardage for all these examples and other things - but I do need to spend some quality time my spare bedroom and get it organized. 

As for sewing in 2022, who knows? I'm never one to make a plan, I just follow whatever whim strikes me at the moment. Which is probably why I have a lot of things that don't go together but I it doesn't bother me. I have a few things to post that I finished in the last weeks so onward with fresh ideas. And some new to me patterns, including VikiSews. My quick review - they are very good. But I will write a more thorough review soon. 

Wishing to everyone a Very Happy and Healthy New Year,

Today's garden photo, something very bring and cheerful on this rainy Monday. Rain I am not complaining about - we finally have lots of rain and snow in the mountains which gives us all here in N. California something to be very grateful about. Things were getting dire and while we are not in the clear yet it's certainly trending away from drought and a lot more green. 
This is a dianthus which is one of my favorite little plants, reliable, hardy and it's sometimes called pinks which is because it looks like it was trimmed with pinking shears. The most sewing themed of flowers!