Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A sewing haiku

cutting is forever
once scissors slice material
it will not grow back

I hadn't sewn anything since I finished my coat a couple of weeks ago and was itching to start something. I chose this from my stockpile of patterns. 

Its Butterick 3371. There was only one review on PR and, although it didn't have a picture, it was positive. I already knew I'd have to lower that neckline. Then both my husband and my daughter said they didn't like the fabric I was using. I think they jinxed me!

I cut it out and started sewing. When the time came to sew on the flounce something seemed wrong. You could see the wrong side of the fabric so I cut another and doubled it. Problem solved. It was looking pretty nice. I sewed the back and the shoulder seams. It was after that I noticed something was seriously wrong! The longer side was on the left in front, but on the right in the back. Naturally, I decided to consult the directions to see if there was some other ruching I had missed since my hemlines were off by 4 inches on both sides. No, there was not more ruching. Sadly, I realized I had cut the front piece wrong side up. I went into "make it work" mode and evened up the hem as best I could but was already singing the "I Don't Care" song by this point. 

Cool roller coaster effect.
Next time I'll use a solid fabric!

Annie does not have scoliosis, but her blouse does!

As it is, its not wearable. But I think I could love this pattern. I'd like to try it in a solid black jersey. That way, if I cut something out wrong again, I can just turn it over!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

My Tweed Coat Revealed--MERRY COATMAS!

I admit I blatantly stole the name of this post from Male Pattern Boldness. I just happened to also finish my tweed coat in time for Coatmas day, so I'm riding Peter's coattails!!

I used Very Easy Vogue 8860 for this coat and it is indeed a very easy pattern. That is, before I made a lot of extra work for myself. You see, I wanted to make an actual warm winter coat, so this project became kind of involved. I quilted cotton flannel to the entire lining, interlined the body with lambswool and quilted that too, made sleeve heads from the lambswool & made welt pockets. I had to make my own buttonholes. Some people are so lucky. The buttons required a trip across town.

I am really pleased with how this coat came out.  Its really very warm and roomy enough to layer, although the sleeves are a bit drafty. Since the color so neutral, I can wear a lot of  furry accessories with it.

Please don't hate me. They are vintage. So am I.


Vintage mouton. Also fake.

No animal this color exists in nature!

The quilted lining. I lined the inside of the collar.
That is some super scratchy tweed!!
I used 2 spools of thread to make the buttonholes (grey and taupe),
it makes them blend in better. 
The fabric close up and classic leather buttons.

Patch/welt pockets copied from a RTW coat
Since this is a swing coat, the pattern did not require many adjustments. I cut a size 14 and shortened the body and the sleeves 3 inches and made the shoulders a half inch narrower. I thought those big patch pockets would look droopy so I changed them. I also made the collar just meet in front instead of overlapping. 

The biggest change I made was to the lining. The pattern calls for the front and lining to be cut from the same pattern piece, then folded over together and treated as one piece. There is also no back facing. That seems like a crappy way to do it, especially on the collarless version. When I saw that, I stopped using the instructions, drew up a separate lining piece and constructed the coat like I normally would. 

The lambswool interlining on his coat is what really makes it a real coat. Its a pity its so had to find. Unfortunately, I seem to have lost the photos of that part. I will be starting another coat soon and will also interline with the lambswool,  so I'll show you later. This is the pattern I'll be using:

Isn't it adorable!!
 Merry Coatmas!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The coat switcheroo

We are now in the single digits and some jerk took my daughter's long down coat and left their cigarette burned, smoke scented, greased stained coat in its place. Nice huh? From yoga class. Don't they know about karma?

Anyway, after my big fail with the last coat pattern, I spent some time in my cozy slanket looking for a new pattern on ebay. I found one that was love at first sight. In the meantime though, I decided to whip up this coat in some tweed from my stash.

I hope to get it done this weekend since I have already finished my Christmas shopping. Record shatteringly early, I might add!!! I have no excuse not to bake cookies now either.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Really Sad Story

First I stalked the teal fabric in the red tag section at JoAnn's for months. It's 100 % wool. It was originally $16 a yard, then $14 and I finally bought it at a half off red tag sale. I couldn't believe fabric of this quality stayed there that long. I had it steamed by a cleaners to pre-shrink it.
I got the black cotton flannel to interline the sleeves from Vogue, then washed and dried it twice
I purchased the black lambswool to interline the body from Bergen tailors supply in New York.
The buttons came from an old coat I made and were originally from ebay.

I had a whole block of weekend free time to devote to my new winter coat:


The finished garment measurement on the tissue for the smallest size I had (a 16) was a bit big (my bust is 42), so I graded the pattern down to a 14 (making it 2 inches smaller). I also shortened it 4 inches.

I made a muslin out of a disgusting old nappy blanket that had had a unfortunate run-in with a washing machine.

Isn't it beautiful!!

Ha!! Does that look like 44 inches in the bust? More like 144! How about those three-quarter length sleeves? You can't even see my hands. And those drop shoulders? The bottom of the sleeve is at my waist!
It fits my husband better than it fits me!

I was so mad at myself for falling for this pattern. I should have known better. I did want a coat with a bit of ease so I could wear it over a light jacket or sweater, but this is ridiculous! The drop shoulder plus any pattern Vogue says is loose-fitting is a really bad combination for me. Maybe a size 10 would have worked, but I am going to just have to forget about this one.

I am so glad I made a muslin and didn't ruin my good fabric.

After my epic fail, I wore my nice cozy slanket while doing my online shopping. Sure is warm. I did find a nice coat pattern on ebay. I hope I'll have better luck next time.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Mise en place

I have a big, exciting project planned for this weekend. I have collected supplies from
my stash, Chicago and New York City but still find it necessary to go to Joann's for a spool of thread!

Here's a peek:

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

FBA Shenanigans

After coming to the realization that I really don't like collared long sleeve shirts,  I decided to give up my quest for the perfect pattern for one. My mind is now free to wander. And wander it has!

What I really wanted was a simple well fitting woven pullover top that could be worn with or without a jacket or sweater.  I started with this pattern: McCalls 6564. I really liked that it has different sleeve options. 
I also wanted to explore and experiment with my FBA. I've had questions in my mind I hoped to answer about the FBA and whether the way I had learned and always done them was the best way and how much difference doing them differently could make.

1. I started with what I think of as the "textbook" way of doing the FBA. 

a. The original pattern
b. Start by drawing these 3 lines: a line parallel to the CF up from the hem to the BP, a line from the BP to notch in the sleeve, and from the BP through the center of dart.  
c. Slash the pattern open from the bottom edge to the BP continuing to, but not through, the sleeve notch, leaving a bit of tissue fro a hinge. Also cut from the middle of the dart legs to, but not through, the BP, again leaving a bit of tissue for a hinge.  Now slide the side front over and down. This will automatically increase the width between the dart legs making the dart deeper and also increase the length at the center front. True the hem at the center front. 
d. Now we get to the part I don't like about this method: if your BP differs from the pattern (and if you have a large bust your BP is generally lower as well) you now need to lower the BP and redraw the dart legs. (in red), but what happens is that it flattens the dart. You can see that the center of the dart is now almost horizontal. Not good, IMO.

2. The second version involved the same steps, but in a different order:

b. First, I move the BP and the whole dart into the right position
c. Then do the FBA. You can see that the center of the dart is diagonal now. Way more flattering! But still not perfect. The front of the blouse sticks out and  I certainly don't want people to think I'm going to be a mother in my 50s!

3a. The next version was a refinement of number 2

a. I added a princess dart under the bust, 
b. Using the principal of dart rotation, I closed the princess dart, thereby shifting the excess into the bust dart.
I now have a simple well fitting top. 

3b. Conclusion

What I learned from this exercise is this:

a. To first move the BP to the correct level
b. Then do the FBA. And to pivot the lower edge of the side front toward the CF ( this substitutes for extra step with the princess dart). 

The Final Pattern:

The original pattern is in black and my adjustments are in red.

I'm planning to get a lot of use out of this pattern this winter and next summer. I think its going to make a great blank canvas.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Fleece Navidad

That's what I'm going to call my friendly neighborhood chain "fabric" store for the rest of the year because that's all they have there now, fleece and holiday decorations.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Copy Kat

This jacket is a copy of a RTW jacket I picked up at a thrift store a few years ago. For this one (it's the third copy I've made)  I used one of my favorite fabrics: Sophia double knit in 'Spanish Olive', available from Vogue fabrics. It is really lovely fabric and comes in a beautiful range of colors with exciting names like 'Hot Sauce' and 'Sangria'. (One of my dream jobs would be naming colors!)

I did it in what I'm calling Alabama Chanin 'Lite Style'.  I machine sewed and serged the seams, then did the top stitching by hand using heavy grey Coats and Clark thread. Like my previous experience hand stitching with this thread, I threaded two lengths of thread through the needle together in the same direction to prevent tangling.

This is the original jacket I copied it from. You can see the first two I made here (scroll down to the bottom of the post)

When I started this, I thought that I could take my time doing the hand stitching relaxing and watching  TV while I had another project going on simultaneously in the sewing room. Well, once I started this, I had to finish it. I just don't know how some people can work on multiple projects at one time. I can't do it!  I am a successful multi-tasker in the rest of my life, I just not when it comes to sewing.Weird! The good thing about it though, is I don't ever have half finished projects laying around.
Now I can get back to that other project!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

It took twelve years to sew these buttons on!

Did you know some people get rid of clothes when a button falls off? Or use a stapler to hem pants? Incredible but true! I have seen this with my own eyes! Not us sewers though. Personally, I love delving into the 'Not Quite Right" pile, doing some mending or tweaking.  Its a nice diversion from a long project or a way to feel productive when you're in a sewing fugue.

As long as it not someone else's mending! Your pants are too long? Let me get the stapler!

I think I made this coat around 2000. I know, pretty crazy mid-century modern, right?

I must have started cutting before it was all laid out, because it was a might short in the sleeve department.  It was a vintage pattern (it even has a shoulder dart) and was supposed to have 3/4 length sleeves but ended up with something more like 5/8th or 11/16th  sleeves! I did wear it, but those no-mans-land length sleeves always bothered me so last winter I decided to look for some fabric to add onto the sleeves. This fur jumped out at me like a rabid fake fur animal!

And finally this week, after 13 years, it has closure!

I made this shirt dress two years ago but never really wore it. I decided to cut it off to a tunic length and see if that helped. I'm not sure if it has, but I have worn it once. I really should make a shirt from this pattern.

This next jacket was made as a muslin, but I liked it enough to keep it. I copied it from a RTW jacket I thrifted.  I got the fabric off the free table at a sewing club, but didn't have enough for facings & I put these old coat buttons on it.  It always bugged me the way the button drooped, so I  switched the buttons. Much better!


 I'm currently working on another of these jackets and I'm very excited about it!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

An old friend

Like a lot of us, I "learned" to sew in junior high school. Then I hacked away at it for many years, finally becoming serious about it 15 years ago, then ultimately becoming obsessed in the last ten years.
This pattern (Indygo Juction One Button Swing Topper-IJ725) was one of the first patterns from early in that obsession period that I fell in love with.  I made it up quite a few times. I even made my sister a couple.
Likewise, these fabrics have been  in my stash for a long time too, so it only seemed fitting to trot out this old pattern to use with this fabric.

Its a cute jacket for mixing prints, but I do realize it doesn't really fit that well. It  needs an FBA to keep it from riding up and tenting out in front. A more drapey fabric helps too.
It's not perfect but it is fun.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Wardrobe bread and butter

I had a bit of the red double knit left over from Vogue 8624, so I whipped up a skirt with Butterick 5539. Well, 3 and a half skirts. I actually made the teal one a while ago, but it was too loose, so I took it apart and fixed it. I wear one of these skirts almost every day! It really is a wardrobe staple and the coverstitch machine makes it that much easier and professional looking.

And now I know for certain how fantastic Vogue 8624 is, because Miss J asked if she could wear it today. I haven't even worn it anywhere myself yet! How could I say no? She's wearing it with a pair of leggings she made herself this weekend.  I'm so proud of her. When she gets a little frustrated, I say "isn't sewing such a relaxing hobby?"

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Vogue 8624, I love it!

I've had my eye on this pattern for a while, but I could never quite bring myself to buy it. I feared it was one of those patterns that could either be really cool or horribly bad! It didn't look good that it had not been reviewed a single time on PR. Well, I inherited the pattern and the fabric so I felt I had nothing to lose.
Well,  I love it! Even with the fairly large volume of fabric, I don't feel swamped by it. It does take a little time to wrap your mind around, but once you do (make sure you mark all the notches, etc!) its actually pretty easy. Like two or three hours easy. 
The only problem I had with it was that it was too wide in the shoulders.  I spent way too much time ripping out and redoing that because I had foolishly serged everything. Just bear in mind, the front piece (#3) will determine the width at the shoulders and if you make it narrower, you also need to make the back (#2) narrower too. 

I am seriously considering making another one!