Plaid?? Yes, plaid.

So here’s my most recent completed project, the over-sized V9162, a Kathryn Brenne design. I first saw this shirt on a blog post by Ruth at Core Couture. (sorry I can’t link to the exact post) It looked pretty terrific to me. I actually bought the fabric at a real fabric store, off the roll, because it struck me that a large check fabric would really suit the design. It’s taken me almost a year to get to this. When I was finally ready to, I worried I wouldn’t have enough fabric, as it calls for 3 yards. I’d purchased 2 metres, which I figure is enough for anything. As it turns out, it was. After I’d laid out the pattern pieces on the fabric, I let this sit for about 10 days so my thoughts could percolate. I’m glad I did. I’ve never pattern-matched  before (I usually use solid colours, or sometimes subtle stripes). Over the 10 days I pinned and repinned and repinned again as new realizations struck.

 

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Look at that white stripe up the middle? A concealed button placket took up most of the vertical white and blue stripe, which I thought was a shame, but I managed the white stripe.

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Notice anything about the pocket? The decorative sewn-on flap has the blue and grey stripes reversed. I noticed that before I sewed it, but thought it would be a fun way to show the pocket, while otherwise maintaining pattern matching. I had no idea how to match the sleeve to the body, so I didn’t try. Now I see that I could have laid the pattern piece sideways to the body piece and tried to line up the horizontal stripes. That’s for next time.

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Got the side seams matched up. But there wasn’t any way to match the back to the front pieces at the shoulders. I would have had to make a seam up the centre back, and I didn’t want to do that.

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I have to say that navy blue is not my colour. I’ve never, ever received a compliment when I’ve worn anything navy. So when I draped this shirt over my body after I had the fronts connected to the back at the shoulders, I saw a lot of navy right by my face and it didn’t look good. So I decided to make sure I got a lot of the lighter blue, grey and white at the fronts of the collar. I’m really happy with that.

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Weird closed-eye shot??? It’s a good shot of the shirt, so it stays.

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I cut out the medium, but was prepared to reduce the side seams to a small if necessary. As it turns out, it was. When I had the sleeves basted on, and pinned the sides from wrist to hip, this looked more like a cape with sleeves than a shirt. I decided to cut back the sides and arm scyes to the size small, and it’s made a large difference.

Now I’m thinking of making a second one from a very stiff white cotton fabric I just picked up at the thrift shop. But don’t hold your breath waiting for pix of that! It’ll have to wait in line. First, more trousers coming up.

Tentative joiner joins

So, for the first time, I’m joining me-made May. I’ve watched others for the past two years, kind of envying them, but I don’t exactly have a lot of experience joining things … I I finally took the plunge this year, after waffling back and forth. My pledge is to wear me-made every day, but I could hardly avoid doing that as I own only a few sweaters and the odd jacket that I haven’t made myself. The real part of the pledge is to never wear the same combination of clothes two days running. This means  I’ll have to a) put clothes away and b)  make a deliberate choice about what to wear in the mornings. It’s easy when you don’t go out to work to throw things on a chair at night before bed and then throw them on the next morning again. This will be a tough challenge!

As to what I’ve been sewing lately, just futzing with a few t-shirts while I prepare to cut into some lovely plaid material for a blouse. I cut up a long-sleeved over-sized t-shirt I made last year, and wasn’t terribly happy with, and made a paper pattern for a sleeveless tank from a couple of different old RTW tanks.

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Sorry for the bad pic — I was taking a few shots for IG. Some of you may remember the fabric. I do like the stripes.

And I like the top so much that I immediately started another one in a small piece of green jersey.

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Um, pardon my toes.

I just made one pattern piece because the difference between front and back is minimal.

So, check out my outfits on IG if you’re interested. I’ll try not to cheat.

Floral waterfall, or something new

I’ve been looking a fair bit at pinterest lately. Once you indicate an interest in something by saving it, their program sends you more similar stuff. The result is I’m seeing tons and tons of clothes that I like. That’s a first in my long, long, long life 🙂 I’d been looking at a waterfall top/dress pattern from Chalk and Notch (I just had to go look up their name because I was going to write ‘notch and crotch’ and that just didn’t seem right :). I was finally convinced to buy and download the pdf after I saw three or four similar dresses on pinterest.

Those dresses were mostly in woven fabrics. I thought the Chalk and Notch pattern was for both wovens and knits, but mostly people have been making it out of knit fabrics. I wanted to make a maxi dress out of a ‘robust’ woven fabric, something that would make a statement. It’s a bit out of my comfort zone, but still within my “boho” or “art teacher chic” or (my favourite) “bedouin chic” style preference.

Anyway, I thought I’d better start with a muslin, using the shorter top pattern to check the size and the outcome with a woven fabric. After I downloaded the pattern, I saw that they state it’s specifically for knits, so whoops. Anyway, I dug out some floral home decor fabric that I had originally bought to make a window covering.20170322_142003

Sorry for the sideways view. WordPress is not perfect when it comes to presenting photos right side up.

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Try to ignore the undershirt peaking out at the neckline. It was too cold and, frankly, I was too lazy to go upstairs, remove new top and undershirt, and dress again.

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There were a couple of problems due to the woven fabric. First, the sleeves. The pattern did say that if anyone made the garment out of woven fabric, the sleeves might be too tight. It provided bicep measurements for each size. So I took this seriously. I measured my biceps. They were the width for the size I was using (size 12). The finished garment width, which Chalk and Notch also provides, indicated about an inch of ease. I thought that might be okay, but just in case, cut the fabric with an extra quarter inch of seam allowance  down to about elbow level. I didn’t worry about the forearm. That was my mistake. I could barely get my hand and arm through the bottom portion of the sleeve. I was able to pick apart the stitching and resew with about half the given seam allowance (the pattern allows only 3/8 inch). So ….. they’re okay, but I would definitely be better off with slightly wider sleeves for full elbow bends.

I also found that the top pulled across the tops of my shoulders, making it a little uncomfortable. Fortunately I remembered that another raglan sleeve top pattern I have that is meant for wovens, but that I’ve only ever made with knits, has shoulder darts that extend from the neck to curl around the edge of the shoulder bone. (It’s a bit of a curved dart). I decided to try that. I opened up the raglan sleeves to the size 14 marking (I had cut extra seam allowances) and made shoulder darts. The result is that the top is now happy to sit where it’s supposed to.

I also added about half an inch to the bodice bottom, and another half inch to the bottom of the ruffle just because. I made bias binding for the neckline and also for the bottoms of the sleeves because there wasn’t enough wide at the wrists to fold the fabric over.

At the end I was so excited about this that I immediately pulled out the two pieces of wool fabric that I intended to use for the calf-length dress, only to discover that my imagination had gotten away with me again. There wasn’t near enough to make the dress. Not even close.

So I started work on something else instead and have been ruminating grumpily over what I might be able to use instead. Today I pulled out these two fabrics, both of which seem too “precious” to cut into and actually use, you know? Some fabrics are like that.

The bright blue is a lovely textured wool. The other is much more beautiful than the pic shows. I tried north and south light to capture the true colour, but neither worked. This is a lovely pale blue/lavender hammered silk. I think I’m going to use it. I realized I have about four yards of it, which means I could make the dress and have almost two yards left, enough to make a top or bottom later that might get more wear.

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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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.

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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.

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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…

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.

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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.

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

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Can you guess what I used it for?