Lagenlook at last

It was only a couple of weeks ago that I discovered the patterns produced by Tina Givens, available at tinagivens.com. They took my breath away. I immediately purchased two pdf patterns, then a few days later downloaded a couple of freebies, then after the announcement of a half price sale, bought four more. That’s right. I now have eight patterns from one pattern company, all purchased within days of each other. I had to lie down and rest after that burst of spontaneity.

This is the first of them, something called “smock-it”. I liked the vertical lines of the loose princess seams and thought they would help me look long instead of squat. I also thought I could use those lines to determine fit. It can be so hard when making loose, over size clothing to know the “right” size. I first cut the size large, basted the pieces together and decided I was a medium after all. I took it apart and recut the pieces.

The fabric was from my stash, a couple of pieces that I had bought because I liked the colours. Other than colour, neither was something I was really fond of. Well, I loved the batik piece, but I knew I’m not a batik clothing kind of a person. But they were both thrifted pieces, and I figured I could always make toiles out of them. Pardon me for patting myself on the back but I do think combining the two was a brilliant idea.

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This is a completely new look for me. I think it might take some time for me to be comfortable enough in it to wear it at home. Or maybe it’s just not quite the season for this yet.

Here are shots of a couple of details of the pattern.

I used some of the batik for the front pocket bag, and the other photo is of three pleats that occur on each side of the side back panels.

I’ve got a couple of other items in progress right now, but then I’ll tackle some more of these 8 patterns. I’ve got lots of great silks and linens in the stash that I want to use up.

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They should make smashing robe-like tunics/shirts, don’t you think?

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Leisure wear and other changes

It seems like a long time since I’ve been able to sew anything new. After finishing my closet refashion, which turned out to be more physically arduous than I had expected, I had to make adjustments to a couple of pairs of trousers that had shrunk in the wash. I know, I should have pre-washed them. I managed to rescue both of them, thankfully, but it took time.

I should mention that my spring has been difficult in a couple of ways. In January my dear companion, my cat Holy Smoke, became ill and died five days later. This was really hard on me — partly for confronting the suffering of a poor helpless creature, partly for having to make the decision to ease her out of that suffering when it was clear she couldn’t recover, and partly for having to learn to live without her presence in the house. She was with me for almost 12 years. Even now I keep expecting to bump into her when I enter the kitchen, or go downstairs, or, well, go anywhere in the house.

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Holy Smoke, philosopher and fabric aficianado

 

I guess I started the closet reno because I didn’t know what to do with myself. Lugging bag after bag after bag of broken plaster and lumber down two flights of stairs was maybe not the best way to keep myself busy.

For those who don’t follow me on IG, I had a narrow closet in my bedroom under the eaves. A lot of it was inaccessible because there was only a small doorway. I removed the wall and replaced it with curtains, which I placed about a foot further away from the eaves. The result is a LOT more space.

Things are returning into balance now. I was happy at last to be able to make something new. I chose to deal with some fairly thick stretch cotton fabric that I bought on sale at Fabricland in the summer. I thought it might work with an old-fashioned “sewing with Nancy” pattern from McCalls. It’s McCalls’s 3728, dated 2002, and includes a whole outfit including long and short “dusters”. 20180312_165510

 

After I lay the fabric out on the floor it looked like I could make both a short duster and an ankle-length skirt, which is the only kind of skirt I wear at home. I threw it in a cold-water wash, lined-dried it and flung it out across the floor again. It looked astonishingly shorter than it had before. A long skirt was out of the question, so I decided workout shorts would work.

Here’s the duster.

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I’m wearing it with a pair of pants from the free download “Barb” pattern, which I also made in the jumble of the spring somewhere, but didn’t much like until I hit on the idea of adding elastic to the ankles.

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The problem is not really with the pattern, but with the fabric. This is a beautiful suede-look stretch fabric, but it didn’t know how to hang below the knee. I quite like the pants now though.

Here’s the “leisure suit”.

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It’s kind of cool, isn’t it? I used the pant pattern that came in the package, but shortened them, added inseam pockets using some black jersey fabric for the front pocket bags, added grommets and a bright lime green bootlace for a tie. This is not your average warm-up suit 🙂 It was totally appropriate for the weather today, which was sunny and warmer than seasonal. At last, a taste of summer.

 

Hand knit sweater #3

I finally finished my third hand-knit sweater — can I say “of the year” even though it’s January and the year was 2017? This is a top-down sweater from Cocoknits. In the book it looked like this

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I didn’t particularly like the neckline, so I subbed the neckline for another sweater in the book. I also wanted a sweater that flared out into an A-line shape, but that was not pulled in again by a ribbed hem. I actually knit the body following the instructions to add 4 stitches every 12 rows, and then ripped it back to just under the bust because there wasn’t enough flare. I added 4 stitches (2 to each side) every fourth row instead, and I’m happy with how that turned out. The hi lo hem is made using short rows, and because I had extra stitches because of my extra increases, I ended up adding a couple of extra short rows. I like this. It’s totally simple, which tends to be my aesthetic. The yarn is not uniformly dyed, so the splotchy-stripey colour is the design feature.

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You can see the fabric better maybe below

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It took me forever (well, almost two months) to knit this and part of the reason is that I discovered I don’t really like to sit inside my house knitting for long stretches. I enjoyed knitting my first sweater in the summer, when I could sit out on one of the porches. That was a relaxing way to spend some quality outdoor time. So I’m going to wait to start my fourth sweater until it’s nice enough to sit outside.

I had to force myself to not sew anything for the last month so I could finish this!

 

 

Refashion x 3

This is my third time to make/remake a tunic from this wool plaid fabric. I hate to give up on something you know? The first time I made a simple sleeveless high/low shift with a few pleats at the neckline to create some drape.  When I wore it a friend commented on how I always wore such baggy clothes. Ooomph. That hurt. So I remade it, by slicing it down the front and putting on a button band. I also tightened the back up with a pleat. The back was really nice. But I still didn’t care for it. This fabric is drapey and I always thought it needed pleats or gathers or something. You can see it here.

I thought it would be nice to make a tunic like this.

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I had quite a bit of fabric left over and first I wanted sleeves. But after making sleeves I realized there wasn’t enough fabric left to add a gathered skirt all around. So I thought about the Grainline Alder, a pattern I’ve looked at several times, unsure if I liked it or not. Probably everyone has seen the Alder, which has two versions. In one version, the back is gathered. I went to the Grainline site and found the online tutorial for that version. It was pretty easy to follow it even without the actual pattern. That left doing something about the neck, which I had cut too big the first time. There’s not that much you can do when you’ve cut the neck hole too big. I decided to line up a bunch of scraps, sew a gathering stitch, gather them and pin them between the neck and the facing. I left their edges all unfinished. Go edgy or go home right? Then I decided I didn’t want to hem the bottom either, so I just serged around the bottom. I also did a wrist treatment of gathered scraps. So this is the result. The body is very much like the Alder.

 

 

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I love the sideview, and the back. But the front? I’m just not a shirtwaist kind of a person …. I could have sworn it looked better in real than in this pic. And should I trim down the neck flounce? It seems kind of overwhelming.

This is warm and toasty and pretty comfortable. And I’ll wear it this winter partly to keep in view this kind of look that I’ve never had before. Do you know what i mean? There are so many things I like about this, but I’m thinking it’s still a fail. Luckily (!!) the fabric picked up a couple of small moth holes during the last year, so this is doomed anyway. I knew that going in, so this was an exercise in experimentation to see if I could find my way to a great look.

I’m interested in any comments or suggestions about what’s wrong and why.

Trio trousers

Continuing with the two patterns I bought online from The Sewing Workshop, I’ve made a pair of the Trio trousers. And another Trio tshirt with doubled front and back in merino wool. This tshirt isn’t exceptional in any way really. It has raglan sleeves, a high round neck, and is meant to be tight around the hips so it grabs rather than hangs. It’s a nice alternative to the TNT long-sleeved tshirt I’ve made many variations of. But what is exceptional about it is the double layered fronts and backs that I was inspired to create. They make the tops so much cosier and warmer. Yum. I get the merino from Our Social Fabric, which sells 3-metre cuts of whatever colour they have. Usually it’s a lightweight fabric, probably used industrially for what we call around here “base layers”, which is a new word for under-wear, right?

I also got the fabric for the trousers there.

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The vest is a refashion of a poncho I bought off the back of a truck in Rome, Italy, in 1976. There are some things you can’t let go of.

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I just LOVE the trousers. You know how sometimes — all too rarely it seems — you get the style and the fabric exactly right? I’m not talking about good here, I’m talking about perfection. That happened here.

The pants are relatively loose, with short pleats on the fronts, and with two vertical seams down the pant legs, one of them curving. There’s a long, loose cargo pocket with buttonhole on each pant leg. I had bought this fabric in the summer, thinking it had a lovely drape and would be great for a pair of ultra wide pants for winter. The colour was, I thought, a perfectly acceptable neutral. Well, I decided to use the fabric for this pattern, and cut boldly and confidently because this was cheap fabric, probably some sort of blend. When I was almost done making them, curiousity inspired me to do a burn test. And yup, it burned like silk and smelled like silk. It feels luscious against the skin. It’s silk alright, and I’m glad I didn’t know that at the start. Here it is with the Hudson top I made earlier and posted about last time.

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The colour is a grey-brown, which I would still call an acceptable neutral. It goes with about 90% of my closet, so bonus! I can’t wait to make more of these — in linen, I think, for summer.

And p.s. I’m pretty sure I’ve got the first top on backwards. There’s a use for labels …

Double Trouble Trousers and Tee

This week I made another couple of items from the two The Sewing Workshop patterns I bought online. I started with the Hudson pant, which is a really simple and subtle design. I’ve been wanting to use up my stash, particularly stuff that’s not all that nice, but that I picked up for pennies on the pound thinking I must be able to use it somehow, for something.

So I decided to use up some undyed cotton jacquard and think of it as a useable toile. I added some patch pockets. My intention was to move on to a piece of black wool with a subtle herringbone design, which I liked, but which seemed to be too thin really. You can see through it if you hold it up to the light. It also picks up every bit of lint and hair in the house. I suppose it’s not a very good quality of wool.

Somewhere along the way I decided to use the two fabrics to make an inner pant and an outer pant and sew them together so that both would be visible.

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I sewed the black pair to the beige pair at the back waist casing. I left it free at the front, except for tacking the two together at the CF. I left part of the outer legs open. I hemmed the black pair a bit shorter than the beige pair.

I also made pocket welts, without pocket bags, on the black pair. My idea was that I could slide my hands through the pocket welt openings, right into the patch pockets on the inner pant. Great idea, eh? Unfortunately, it doesn’t totally work. There are short flaps of fabric on the inside of the pocket welts, and I can’t really remove them. They get in the way, so I have to scrabble around to get to the patch pockets. Still it’s nice to stick my hands in the welts. And the inner patch pockets could be used to store money, etc. They’d be good traveling pants if one was concerned about pick pockets.

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I like them, but I’m wondering if I should sew the two pairs together at the front waist, rather than letting the black fabric flap around. Thoughts?

Then I moved on to the Trio set of patterns, and cut some grey merino wool for the long-sleeved tee. After cutting out the pieces, it looked to me like it was going to be a tight fitting tshirt, which is not something I want with lightweight jersey. I had just enough fabric left to cut a second front and back. So that’s what I did, and then basted the two fronts together and the two backs together. I’m really really glad I did that, as it has made the top much sturdier and warmer than it would have been otherwise. I’m thinking, in fact, of doing this again with some other lightweight merino wool jersey in the stash.

I have to say I’m really liking the patterns from The Sewing Workshop. I believe they’re meant for mature women. But both the pants and the sleeves were a titch too short, which is almost unbelievable. I added short cuffs to the sleeves. The pant legs are fine, although there’s not much of a hem on the longer leg (who has two legs the same length, anyone?)

 

Style lessons with knit tops

I haven’t posted anything in a while, primarily because I was knitting, but also because I was, I thought, “just” making up a few knit tops, totally easy stuff. But actually, while I was doing that, I was also experimenting and, more importantly, drawing some conclusions about what I like and what I don’t.

I started with a top I made last spring, which I tried really hard to like, but couldn’t. You can see it here. I  removed the skirt, and recut the top part from my old tried and true See and Sew B5203 pattern. Then I reattached the skirt, but along a horizontal line, after having aligned the side seams to the seams of the bodice. There was also a little flare to the skirt that I eliminated by resewing the side seam at a straight angle. Here’s the result — a top that fits me and suits me, rather than drowning me in its oversize folds. What have I learned? Go down a complete size in Vogue tops and don’t take “oversize” as written in stone.IMG_1433

I bothered with this redo because I love the colour and weave of the fabric. I still like the top best because of that. I would like it better if it had some sort of variegated hemline, which is not possible.

So I decided to make a new version of the B5203, with a “high low” hem from one side to the other. Here it is.

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Isn’t that a lovely yellow jersey? Anyway I was contemplating why I love “high low” or “variegated” hemlines so much (doesn’t matter whether the difference in length is front to back, front to sides, or side-front to side-front). And I’ve come up with an answer. Please don’t laugh, as I tell you I should be two inches taller than I am. My legs are about two inches too short for my body. Both my sister and mother have correctly proportioned legs, and they’re both about two inches taller than me. So — a variegated hem gives the appearance of extra length, because of the diagonal line that’s created. It makes me look taller. And it blurs the waist line and the crotch placement, so it disguises the leg length.

I then decided to try the free Lago pattern from Itch to Stitch. Click on the link to get it yourself.

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I like it a lot. The sides of the front pattern piece are wavey — they curve out at the bust, in at the waist, and out again at the bust. You pin and then sew that piece to the back, which has straight sides. This means the fabric skims the body, rather than squeezing it. There’s a slight razor-back, so you have to figure out bra straps, or wear a tanklet under it. I plan to make several more of these. The trousers are Vogue 9193.

And finally, I made up two versions of the Hudson top from The Sewing Workshop. IG followers will have seen that I finally put out the cash to buy two Sewing Workshop patterns, for a total of five garments. I started with what I figured would be a wearable toile in an athletic double-layer fabric. After some experimentation, I decided to cut the size XS (rather than the Medium) because that’s plenty over-size enough. Here it is, with memade fisher pants and Jon Fluevog boots. I love the neck, which is a tube cut on the diagonal for a nice drape.

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And then I went for the bright merino wool version. For this one I narrowed the sleeves at the wrists, and made the back a bit longer than the front (there are side vents separating front from back).

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Those are Vogue Marcy Tilton trousers (I can’t find the pattern envelop, sorry). And orange patent leather booties. And this leads me to two other things I’ve learned about my style preferences. First, I like to wear one colour from clavicle to ankle, and second, I like saturated colours (that might mean dark colours, or bright ones). This top to bottom orange is pretty bright, isn’t it? I spared you the matching orange down-filled sweater/jacket. I will wear this combination. I love it.

That about concludes my report on what I’ve learned over the last few months. Has anybody else learned something new about themselves recently, through sewing clothes?