Imagination and Reality

I finally managed to finish a jacket with fabric that turned out to have lots of issues. I posted a pic on instagram of several holes, which I noticed just as I was laying out pattern pieces. I discovered I could lay out the pieces so as to avoid the holes if I turned the sleeve pieces sideways. After I’d cut them out, I realized there were yet other other problems. There were “not-quite-holes” that showed only when I held the fabric up to the light, and broken threads on the right side of the fabric.

I almost gave up and tossed the fabric. It’s a beautiful wool, probably with some silk in it, with a lovely sheen. I bought it for all of $6 at Our Social Fabric. But I’d been imagining a jacket made from it for six months and even made a wearable toile out of the pattern (see my previous post). And more than that, I’d been imaginingg a whole outfit, involving t-shirts and pants from a matching fabric. Aargh.

What the heck is this?

20170211_085319

That’s damage I couldn’t eliminate — thankfully it’s on the facing, rather than the outside. I used a tapestry needle to pull other broken threads to the wrong side, and then ironed on little bits of feather-weight fusible interfacing to hold them in place. I did the same with the “not-quite-holes”, hoping to prevent further damage.

Here’s the finished jacket. You’d have to look hard to find any remaining fabric problems.

img_1370

Like the scarf? It’s a little piece of silk chiffon I was going to serge a rolled hem on but haven’t yet done. If I’d finished this in January, it was meant to go to jungle january 🙂 I doubt I’ll ever have any other jungle prints in my wardrobe.

img_1371img_1374

I was confident cutting out a size 14 after I’d made the purple short version, but discovered, after I’d sewn in the pockets, that it was too tight in the hips, right at pocket level. More growls. Grrrrr. I had to take out the pockets, reduce my seam allowances on all the vertical seams starting just below the bust. Thankfully that was enough.

There was a lot of ease in the sleeve heads and I had to remove both sleeves once and redo them to eliminate puckers. I had two lines of gathering stitches in the purple version, and only one line in this one. I think I should have used two lines, as I managed more successfully with the purple. I may need to try steaming with a ham for these.

I lined it with some silk from my stash, and applied some copper snaps. I love snaps! Have I said that before? I wish manufacturers would make nicer ones. So far the only decent ones I’ve found have been these copper ones, in two sizes.

img_1372img_1373

Now, here’s a mock-up of what the whole outfit was supposed to be.

 

img_1375

The pink t-shirt is from fabric from Our Social Fabric again. Looking at the t-shirt/jacket combo, I’m pretty sure I’ll never wear them together. The striped fabric is a gorgeous lightweight wool, from the same source. As it turns out it’s fairly transparent, which means I’ll have to line it if I make the pants I’d been intending to make. I don’t really like to make lined clothes much. Lining adds formality as well as bulk, and as anyone who reads this blog probably knows, I like a pretty darned non-formal, if not bohemian, look. I’m kind of regretting having interfaced the fronts of this one for that same reason.

I think the fabric would make a great second folded tube skirt, like the grey one I made a little while ago. Or maybe even a dress, like the Keilo dress, which I like. Anyway, I’ve decided to put the fabric away for now and make some other things. Suggestions for what to do with the fabric are welcome.

20170211_110931

This is the pattern line drawing. I had originally also planned to make it two-tone, using either some cream or brown wool I have in my stash. But then I thought that would be a waste of fabric as then there would be leftovers from two pieces, neither big enough to do anything with.

I envisioned so many things with this fabric! And my imagination got untethered from reality I’m afraid. Does that ever happen to you?

 

 

The ‘New Severe’

This is meant as a working toile of a Burda longer length jacket, 32012, which is advertised as a Chanel type of jacket. The fabric, a small piece that I tried several other patterns on, was just big enough to make a short version. That was fine by me. I wasn’t sure what size to make, and I knew I’d have to lower the darts. This time I wanted to do it right, so I actually cut a rectangle out of the paper pattern where the dart was, and repositioned the whole rectangle down about 1 1/2 inches. After sewing up the dart on one side, I repositioned the rectangle up a titch again. The fabric is a dark purple wool with a lovely stretch because of the way it’s woven. I don’t know if there’s a name for this or not –when one side of the fabric appears to be woven as usual, with horizontal and vertical threads, but the other side appears to be woven on the diagonal? Anyway, the combination of this pretty conservative style of jacket with this dark wool gives a pretty severe look, I think.

img_1359purplejacketside

You can see the side panels, which I think allow more movement and comfort than the regular side-seam varieties of jackets. You can also see that the fabric takes on a chocolately hue with any kind of artificial light. It’s a good neutral.

img_1362img_1361

Looks pretty cool with a goodly dollop of orange, eh?

img_1363img_1364img_1365img_1366

Looks like I’ve got plenty of things to wear with this. The orange pants are V9035, you can see info about it here, and the wrap skirt is a vintage Vogue DKNY. See it here. The tops, oh heck I forget.

The pattern called for snaps which are a great alternative to buttons, aren’t they? I found some copper ones with writing cut into them. They were the most natural looking material I could find. I’m disappointed in the pearl, silver metal and gold metal types that my local was offering. They all look fake and cheap.

A few seam details there. I’m loving the darts, which I left open at the tip by about one stitch length to give them a nicer look. And I put on a breast pocket at the last minute, influenced by reading another article on the sexism of pocketless clothes for women. I like chest pockets anyway, and often add one to a shirt or tshirt. This time I realized that the proper placement for a breast pocket for a woman is higher up than for a man, between the collarbone and the breast. I don’t know if designers put it there, but it’s just so obviously where it should be!

This fabric really changes colour depending on the light. I think it’s going to get a lot of wear. And I’m about to lay out the pink silky wool for the longer version. Oh, first I’d better give this one an extra press. Wrinkles. I hope they weren’t a distraction 🙂

And, oh, it seems I’m on time to participate in a #dressmakingbloggerchallenge, thanks to info provided by Thimberlina here.

Reviewing My 2016

I’ve been reading a fair number of blog posts in which sewists look back at the past year, which gave me the idea to do the same with an eye to seeing what I can learn about myself from the photos I published this year. It’s not the individual makes so much as the “looks” that I’m interested in. And this post is primarily for myself and may involve some self-examination, so feel free to skip it 🙂

It was a year of practical sewing, making wearable items to replace a wardrobe that was pretty much non-existent. Although I love clothing and have often spent many an hour drooling over shop windows, I’ve never financially prioritized clothing. I’ve worked at jobs that didn’t require nine-to-five attendance, or the wardrobe to go with it.When I bought an old house a dozen years ago, that pretty much eliminated discretionary spending too.

The result is that I haven’t really known what I would like to look like if I had the choice. Now that I’m sewing, and finding all kinds of places that offer fabric pieces for massive discounts, I do have the choice. So, if not jeans and sweats and fleece, what? The external always reflects and reveals the internal. What I choose to look like will tell me something of what I’ve become by this post-sixty stage of my life.

Here are ten pix I liked  from the last 12 months. While sorting through all the blog posts to find these (and I left out the last three simply because they were so recent, and I wanted to stick to the number ten) I pronounce myself “arty”. Huh. Who’d a thought?

outfitplaypants2pants1IMG_1149angel4IMG_1216IMG_1269img_1303img_1310img_1295

I can also see that I’m pretty happy. I know I’m smiling for the camera, but I remember how I felt when I took all these pictures and I was always feeling pretty good. If I think about it, these pictures reveal that I’m happier than I have ever been in my life. I’ve been aware of this. Over the past two years I’ve sometimes stood looking out my bedroom window at the city and mountains and trees and felt happiness — a quiet kind of contentment — spread like a fine mist inside my body.

I also see in some of these looks a bit of a f**k you attitude. I’m not trying to look attractive. Conventional beauty doesn’t interest me. Conventional clothing doesn’t interest me. I don’t wear makeup and sometimes I think that at my age I should. But I really can’t bring myself to care enough.

Still … if there’s one thing I’d like to see more of — and maybe this will be a sort of goal for the coming year — it would be a kind of quiet, unostentatious elegance. Maybe I’d like to drop the “f**k you” for a self-assured elegance. If I could move in that direction, I think it would reveal greater self-acceptance. So maybe that’s really what I’d like for 2017.

 

 

Copying a fashion mag pic!

I know, I can hardly believe I’ve learned enough about how clothes are constructed in these past two years that I can now manage to copy something from a picture. Granted, it’s as simple as pie. But still … facings, closures, darts!

Here’s the magazine picture.imag0418

Notice that there are some lumps up by the front button? I’m wondering if that happened as they arranged the fold to hang a little diagonally. I wanted the diagonal fold, but not the lumps.

I had a small piece of fabric (less than 1 and a half metres, I’d say) that I’ve lain countless pattern pieces on, hoping that they would fit. No go. This time I took the piece, held in crossways around my lower torso, and by golly, it seemed just the right size to take a fold and work as the skirt I wanted.

img_1355

You can see that in order to get the fold hanging a little bit at a tilt, I dropped the front fold at the waistline a bit. I had to do a little finetuning where I sewed the facing to the skirt, to create a little dip. I aimed for a slight “v” shape. You can still see a white chalk mark that assisted my calculations.

This skirt is a bit of a cheat. I’m not sure whether the original is actually held together with the front button or not. I was figuring out where to place the seam of the tube so it would be hidden in the fold when I suddenly had the bright idea to put the seam at the back. Once that idea came, I realized I could put in a back zip and use the button as a simple design feature. It’s sewed on, through all the layers of fabric. I also sewed a short line of zigzag stitches at the other end of the fold so the whole folded part wouldn’t slide down.

For the back of the skirt I used a wrap skirt I made here as a model. It had four back darts and two side darts. So that’s what I did. Once I had sewn up the darts, I laid the back part of the tube down on some paper, and traced the curve from the CB seam around the side. From there I just continued straight.

The fabric is a really drapey wool blend of some sort. It has subtle stripes woven into it, which you can see if you look really really closely. The colour is hard to capture exactly. It’s actually a grey with a slight greenish tinge to it. It’s going to work with most tops that I’ve made in the last year.

img_1356img_1357img_1358

I like to have a maxi skirt to wear around the house as an alternative to loose trousers. That’s my plan for this one. I’ve been kind of unable to drive anywhere because of snow and icy streets for the better part of two weeks, so I resorted to a nearby dollar store for a zipper. It’s a pretty darned cheap zipper. But I figure that’s okay because this will primarily be a “leisure skirt” for home wear.

Finally, for the first time ever, my plans coincided with a competition! I’m always a month behind or a month ahead of the monthly stitch challenges, but this copy of a design original has been made during Linda’s  (“Nice dress, thanks I made it”) Designin’ December contest. I’m not out to win anything, believe me, but just to participate in something for a change.

Pink hack

In my last blog post, I said I was working slowly on a severe pattern hack. I’m done! It’s Vogue 9193, a Marcy Tilton, top. I made it fairly recently and you can see it here, in case you missed it. It caused me some grief because the batwing sleeve, as drafted, didn’t suit me and I had to make an alteration. I’m pretty happy with the top, but thought it might be interesting to make it longer and use normal sleeves.

That’s what I did. I added 3 inches to the top front and back pieces, which both lowered the waist-with-pocket seam, and made the whole thing longer. I used the sleeveless version of the top and went rummaging through my patterns looking for a sleeve that might work (I don’t know how to draft a sleeve to fit an arm scye). As it turned out, I found an exact match for the arm scye in a jacket pattern. So I simply used the sleeve piece that went with that jacket. It worked perfectly (although I did pinch in the top of the sleeve because I was making this in a knit fabric rather than woven and so didn’t want all the ease). In fact, to be totally honest, I made a toile sleeve and machine basted it in to check the fit before I cut out the sleeves in the “real” fabric.

I had been looking at a turtleneck t-shirt pattern before I did this project, and decided to also make this version a turtleneck. The pattern I was looking at had a turtleneck attached  to the front and back, rather than a separate piece for the neck. Following that pattern, I drew two lines from the neck/shoulder points to create a tube long enough to fold over once.

pinkdress1pinkdress2pinkdress3

The fabric is a piece I picked up at Our Social Fabric for a few bucks. I thought it was wool, but turned out not to be. I expect it’s acrylic. It’s very lightweight and floaty, and has a nice design in the knit (well, I think it’s nice). It reminds me of some kind of old-fashioned knit fabric.

20161226_12152420161226_121104

It has a really cosy look to it, which means I’ll think it’s warm and cosy and wear it a lot. I love the colour. In fact, expect to see a lot of pink in the coming posts, as Our Social Fabric had a lot of it the last couple of months and I snapped up a bunch.

Now on to a skirt I’m sort of copying from a mag picture. Not quite close enough for Designin’ December, I think, but maybe…

Hats and cats

I just noticed it’s been a month since I posted here, and that has largely been because I’ve pretty much hit a wall with regards to sewing. I’ve had to slow down, take it easy,  give myself a break, and whatever other cliche applies! When I really, really couldn’t bring myself to start a new project, I gave myself over to “fixing” some previous makes that, for one reason or another, I wasn’t wearing. That was good!

I’m working on two projects now, but slowly and without pressure. One is a serious pattern hack and the other is an attempt to copy something from a magazine picture. Both allow me a bit more creativity than simply cutting and sewing up patterns, which I’ve done madly over the last few months, having realized I needed a wardrobe, and fast!

In the meantime, I thought I’d share some hat ideas. A few months ago I bought an old hat pattern and have been quite joyfully anticipating making some large berets to match the coats I made last year.

20161218_115030

Pretty cool hats, don’t you think? I have two store-bought berets that I wear. It’s a style I like. I haven’t even opened up the package yet.

Then yesterday I found another hat pattern at a thrift shop. They charged me double what the pattern originally cost, which somehow doesn’t seem quite right, does it?

20161218_115149

I’m interested in the helmet, version 1. I opened the package, checked out all the pieces and read the instructions. There are too many instructions, some of which get complicated. The hat is composed of outer fabric, interfacing for all pieces, lining, and then an inner band which is somehow attached around the edge on the inside and at that point I couldn’t follow. I’m thinking of trying it in a stable knit. It might also look smashing in leather, don’t you think?

Some readers might remember that I sometimes sew head-covers for cancer patients who’ve lost their hair. I started with a padded scarf, which I don’t like at all. Then I tried a snood in two lengths. They did sell (in the hospital gift shop that I volunteer with), though very slowly. As Kate pointed out, snoods drape down and might not look as good on a bald head as on a head with hair. The helmet might work, I thought.

Also, last winter I stopped a woman strolling along the False Creek seawall, to ask her about the headcover she was wearing. It sort of looks like a toque, but is actually a twisted tube. I finally decided, in this fallow period, to give it a shot with a piece of leftover jersey from a top. I made a long tube, then folded it in half, wrong sides together, then twisted the inner layer half-way around and pinned it. I finished it off with a band. It’s interesting, but definitely not my style I think (I don’t look good in toques, or toque-like styles).

20161218_115517

20161218_115436

Here’s what the back looks like, and bear in mind it’s open, rather than sewn shut.

20161218_120038

I might bring this in to the shop as a sample and see if there’s any interest.

There’s a really funny commercial on television here, for a website hosting company. It features a fictional entrepreneur who makes hats for cats. It’s really hilarious. I wonder if I should try to make some for my sweetie pie?

imag0028

She’s been a holy terror lately. The last thing she did was bring in a live mouse to play with. That mouse is still, two weeks later, in the house! I spotted its little turds behind my fridge and stove as I did a kitchen cleaning. Holy Smoke sleeps part of every night in the kitchen and I know she’s preventing the mouse from moving around much, but what to do???

 

Humble housecoat in velvet

Anyone who reads this blog regularly probably knows that I scavenge fabric. And then create clothing with this “found” fabric, like some artists work with “found” materials.

So, I’ve had a few pieces of velvet in my closet that are way past their due date. I picked them up at an outlet store that closed down at least ten years ago. I thought one of them would be great for a housecoat, something to keep me toasty on cold winter days. Like a cardigan, but not.

I decided to use a shawl-collar pattern that I used for a charcoal duster last winter because I like the pattern, and it has few seams. With velvet, the fewer seams the better, I figure. I practiced everything — sewing with a walking foot, serging, pressing — on scraps of fabric before doing it for real. The only problem was pressing. When I pinned the shawl collar facing to the body, I realized there was a problem. It was going to be a really floppy collar and wouldn’t hold its shape. So I found a very lightweight, open-weave but crisp fabric in my stash and made interfacings. I’m happy with the result. So here it is.

img_1334img_1335img_1337img_1336

There was no fabric left to make a tie belt, and I don’t look good in them anyway, so I decided to make an obi style cloth belt for when I want to wear this closed. After constructing various types in my head for a few days, I finally remembered youtube! And yes, there were several versions. I chose the one that suggested making the belt in three parts: one front part and two side pieces. On one side you sew the side piece to the front, and on the other side you only sew the top and bottom of the side and front together, leaving a slit in the middle. I used a sample piece of a quilted fabric for one side, and some leftover silver fabric for the inside. Then I made the tie ends too narrow so I couldn’t pull them right side out. Grrrrrrr. Eventually I managed, by using a pair of tweezers.

img_1339img_1340

And here’s the last tool I had to use. Found it in my carpentry tool box.

nailset

Can you guess what I used it for?