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!

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.

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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???

 

V9193 top — Revised!

Okay, this is what the top looked like last week when I made it.

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Thank you to those who were kind enough to let me know it was pretty awful, as I myself suspected. I was curious to see how the top compared to a drop-sleeve top, like the Grainline Hemlock, so I laid a hemlock t-shirt on top of the V9193.

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The only difference was a fair bit of extra fabric under the arms of the V9193. I resewed it, matching the line of the Hemlock.

Then I spent a lovely evening unpicking the stand-up collar, and broke the line of the outer sleeve seam that extended from the neck to the wrist. I did this by taking in the seam half an inch (both front and back) at the neckline, and then grading back to the original seam line over 5 inches. So there was then a little bend in the seam line. That little bend opened up space for my rather broad and boney shoulders.

Then I opened up the collar fold, and sewed the thing back, intending to use it as a facing. I haven’t sewn it down yet, because I kind of like how it just flops around now.

Then I threw the whole thing into a dye bath made of a little plastic baggie of Deka dye chrystals that I must have bought back in the late 1980’s. I added a generous dollop of vinegar, and left the sweater in the dye for about three hours. Then I rolled it in a towel to soak up most of the moisture, and laid it on another towel to dry overnight.

Here’s the result.

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So how do you like my jewel-tone top? I have to say I’m pretty darned happy.

If I make this again, and I may, I would use the sleeveless version, and adapt a sleeve from another top. I think this works perfectly fine now that I’ve taken in the underarm, but the structure of an actual armhole would probably be better. I would also add 2 – 4 inches to the top pieces to lower the waist seam down to hip level, and lengthen the whole thing to a long tunic/short dress length. What do you think?

 

 

Ups and downs

Well, it’s been a pretty tumultous time here, what with the onslaught of the rainy season, my first bad cold in years, and an attempted cyber robbery. Let’s see if I can string words together in any meaningful way for a post about learning to serge, and about an outfit that I half like and half don’t.

I bought Vogue 9193 after seeing a totally terrific outfit Ruth of Core Couture made using that pattern, as well as some others. I have to mention that when I looked at the pictures on the pattern envelope, I did raise both eyebrows and scratch my head. Perplexed? Yes. The pictures are not at all attractive. So I looked at the line drawings, and saw some interesting things. I decided to go ahead.

I had some grey merino wool jersey that I wanted to use. And a scrap of purple wool that I thought I could mix in to give it a bit of colour. I don’t love this top.

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I guess what I mostly don’t like about it is the batwing sleeves. I never did like batwings, but I’ve made tops now with such drop shoulders, that they actually have the same profile as batwings. So I thought it was worth a try. Would I like this if there were shoulder seams partly down my arms? I really don’t know. I like the angled seam at the waist and the droopy pocket, which you’d think would give it a funky look, right? It doesn’t. I really don’t like the neckline. Even in purple. Would it be better if I replaced the little stand up collar with an ordinary t-shirt binding? I think this top is too conservative for my taste, although I’m not entirely sure what makes it conservative. All I can say is that it will be useful for the winter. But what  a waste of a beautiful fabric.

While I was working on it, I finally had the free serger lesson I was entitled to at the store that sold me the machine back in the summer. Thus far, I had been sewing everything with my sewing machine, and then serging the seam allowances. For knit fabrics that’s too much work, and the manager of the serger store explained that it was silly to remove stretch by sewing a straight stitch seam, and then add stretch again by serging the allowance. She helped me figure out how to measure for a 5/8″ seam allowance. No clear markings on the machine for that. So I sewed this top together first with a long basting stitch and then tried to serge right on top of it. That was okay, but it struck me that I really should use a 3/8″ seam allowance. So I interrupted my work to whip up a few lounge items, using just the serger, for practice.

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Two long-sleeved t-shirts and one pair of leggings. These are TNT patterns that don’t have seam allowances included.  I couldn’t bring myself to serge the sleeve-into-body seam. Gosh, is there a word for that?? They’re set-in sleeves. Does anybody serge them? Is it safe?

I love that grey fabric. It has some spandex, but not too much vertical stretch. I already have a pair of loose elastic-waist pants that I made last spring. I think I should have bought the whole bolt of fabric. I could make lounge wear, t-shirts and undies out of it forever. The orange is what they call a technical wool. Very soft and lightweight. They were practically giving it away at Our Social Fabric for halloween costumes.

So then I was ready to make the pants that came with the Vogue pattern. I have to warn you, these are a utility pant and so, not conventionally beautiful. But I like them a lot. Have a look.

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I really like the horizontal seam at the hip, with the two front pockets. The fabric is a poly/wool suiting fabric. The colour is, um, a version of khaki, right? I’m calling it “poop khaki”, but that’s not a terribly polite name for it. Anybody have a better one?

The side seam on these pants is around back, rather than right at the seam, and the legs curve in a bit near the bottom. I think these are pretty funky pants, although I’m wracking my brain trying to come up with some other small design detail that I could add to nail home the funk factor. Maybe a thigh pocket that comes out of the side seam? Or a fabric loop emerging from the hip seam?

I plan to make these again, and next time I’ll lower the waist a bit, and increase the dip from back to front. And add some funky little detail if I can think of one.