Valley Girl

I saw this Cali Faye Valley top online at least a year ago and loved it. I had a top like it back in the 1970’s, except in rougher fabrics. I had a small piece of swiss dot cotton, and bought a bit of rayon to complement it. It’s got pirate sleeves!

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There are many things I like about this — the front and back yokes, the single button, the wide sleeves, and the cuffs that open at the inner sleeve seam. I never wear long sleeves with the cuffs buttoned up, so having them open at the inner seam is more logical than the usual. I sewed buttons on the cuffs, but didn’t bother making buttonholes.

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I can’t help but think, though, that this looks a lot like it should be a nighty. Is it too, um, virginal for me?? I have some heavy black silk. I wonder how this would look made up in that? Sophisticated, or more like sexier lingerie?

This was a bit finicky to make. The pattern calls for only the front yoke to be lined, but I chose to line the entire yoke because the swiss dot cotton was so thin. The instructions call for sewing the yoke and the yoke lining and then sewing them together at the neckline. Then you’re supposed to sew just the front yoke to the gathered body, then flip the yoke to sew the yoke lining along the same line. It actually did work. I tried to do the same for the back, but couldn’t sew the full back yoke lining to the body that way. Anyway, it’s tricky enough to sew a yoke to a gathered piece without having to do it twice on the same sewing line. I think if I make this again (and again choose to line the whole yoke), I’ll pin both yoke and yoke lining to the body and sew it once (as you do for a standard button up shirt). Then sew the shoulders together at the end.

I think I’m going to enjoy wearing this. It’s really light and airy.

And now, I do believe I have enough summer clothes, and might take a bit of a break to do a bit of knitting.

Shift in Earth

Isn’t this just the plainest shift you’ve ever seen?

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I made it with fabric left over from a pair of fisherpants, to wear with the pants. The pattern is neue mode S22859. I have no idea how I came into possession of it.

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So that’s the pants and shift together. It’s a very earthy look, isn’t it? I wonder if the colour is not good so close to my face (better for bottoms than for tops?)

It is my intention to dress it up, like this:

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I’ve been seeing long dresses paired with pants, but I’m not sure how I feel about this combo. Does anyone see cultural appropriation? I’m wondering if the shift should be either bigger/looser or tighter? I made no alterations to the pattern other than to lower the bust darts about half an inch, and shorten the sleeves because I ran out of fabric. I made the necklace out of glass beads.

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.

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.

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?

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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?

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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).

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

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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?

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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???