Thursday, May 16, 2019

Blue Mix

The inspiration for my latest sewn garments is this picture. I liked the combination of the crisp blue striped jacket and the floral print top.  I had similar fabrics in my stash. A medium weight blue stripe cotton chambray fabric and a blue and white silk  scarf print.

For the shawl collar jacket I considered  a recent  BurdaStyle magazine jacket and Kwik Sew 4223

 I chose Kwik Sew thinking it would be the easier sew.  In hind sight I would have been much more satisfied with the Burda pattern fit. I had forgotten how much ease  Kwik Sew patterns have. My measurements put me in a Large size. I chose to make a size Medium based on the finished garments measurement for that size,  which still had 3-4 " wearing ease over my measurements. The shoulder and back widths are also wider than other patterns I use. I  reduced both of those areas which was easy enough to do by moving  the armholes in about an inch on each side.  I changed the front  lapel,  which was double breasted, to single breasted and adding elbow darts to shape the sleeves. To make the chambray fabric a bit more robust and reduce wrinkles,  I underlined all the pieces with a white silk jacquard fabric. Another piece from the box of fabrics gifted to me by my aunt.

The fabric for the top was a "remnant" or "by the piece".  I am a sucker for these types of bargains.  Buyer beware. Below is the website description.

When the fabric arrived, the colors coordinated beautifully with my jacket fabric and the silk was a lovely weight. But the new guy must  have been running the printing machine because this is what the print looked like.

The pattern and style of top I had planned to make required two full square scarf panels. Sigh! The project stalled until one day I was  sitting in my car, at a very long red light, with a  bag of "to be donated" sewing patterns on the passenger seat beside me.  I grabbed a few off the top to confirm they were no longer need.  One was Simplicity 2570.

I noticed the top was designed for wovens and had gathering at the center front, sort of like a scarf might be gathered if worn under a jacket.  I decided to play around with the pattern pieces on my weirdly printed fabric.  With some creative pattern layout I was able to get a top I liked.

Simplicity 2570 top in scarf print

Simplicity 2570 top back  in scarf print

Kwik Sew 4223 jacket, Simplicity 2570 top

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Blending In

Ah, the quick trip to the sewing store to find some buttons for the current project. But the buttons are located way in the back of the store, probably on purpose. Does anyone study the meandering of customers in JoAnn's Fabrics?  I stay in the main aisle, eyes forward, reach the button section and amazingly find buttons in the perfect shape, size and quantity. I turn to retrace my steps. Just a quick glance in the direction of  the discounted fabric table.  And what do I see, a print in the same colors as my current project, in a natural fiber, and on sale.  How can I resist.

A soft cotton  pin wale corduroy with the name "Red Watercolor".  It had many shades of red and purple in it. I love red. It is my favorite color.  

Red Watercolor
Did I decide what I will make with it before purchasing.  Heck no, what fun is that? It is only later that I ponder what corduroy garments I need in my wardrobe, and nothing comes to mind. So I research what designers make from printed corduroy. Just about anything really.

Designer Printed Corduroy Garments

In the end I decided a top or shirt would be the best for me.  Something that would not to be tucked in as even the softest cotton corduroy has a bit of  rigidity due to the raised wales. I chose  Burda 10 2018 #117.

It is described as a classic white blouse with a modern wrap style. With the promise that the” full dip of the V-neckline and a tying waistband make it an incredibly figure flattering look.” The few I could find online, one at Patternreview and several on the Russian Burda site, were made in solid shirting fabrics like the inspiration picture.  All looked very nice.

 Both my fabric and the design were easy to sew. No issues of any kind.  Of course because I had not planned my project when I purchased my fabric, I did not have enough fabric for the tie belt. 

When I was looking for spots in the yard to take photos, I discovered that my yard was going through a red/purple phase. If I am anything, I am consistent in my color preferences, even for garden shrubs and flowers.

Loropetalum,- Chinese fringe bush and top

one button on cuff

Crab Apple tree and me

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Fruity Suit

Spring has sprung where I live. Flowers are blooming, leaf buds are bursting out, and weeds are popping up everywhere. All excuses to get outside, either to enjoy the color or work in the garden.

Speaking of color, fashion sources are featuring lots of pantsuits in bright colors.   Vogue Magazine UK calls the trend Fruity Suiting.
courtesy British Vogue
  The styles are often  longer “skim the body” jackets with either tapered/cropped, or wide leg pants.   Similar to the styles of the 1990’s. Being a sewist of mature age, I have many patterns from that time period.  I have wanted a reason to make Vogue 1395, a Claude Montana design, circa 1994 for like..  maybe 25 years. Lest you think Claude is long forgotten, e-commerce site Farfetch recently  partnered with vintage site Byronesque to re-create 11 of Montana's classics.

Vogue 1395 State of Claude Montana

When a  wool blend suiting in "bright plum" (LOL, a fruit color name)  popped up on sale at Fabric Mart, I knew I had found the perfect fabric.

The jacket is unlined, except for the sleeves, and all seams are finished with a Hong Kong finish.  What I really liked about this jacket is that it is all business in the front and back, but with side slits up to just  under the sleeves.  The bottom edge and side slits are bound with bias binding. I stressed and sweated over that bias binding.  Cut from the wool poly blend, I wasn’t sure how well the bias binding would shape to the wide bottom edge curves and the tight curves of the slit top, or if it could be pressed neatly.  It took many samples, careful work, and massive amounts of hand basting, but it turned out great.   I did shave 1/2 inch off the shoulder width as I have narrow shoulders to start with.  Other than that, no changes to the pattern. The jacket is paired with high waisted pants, to provide color continuity from a side view.  I made my matching pants using an old favorite for a high waisted style, Burda 12-2010 108, rather than the pattern pants. For my waist (mis) shape,  darts are better than pleats and a separate  waistband. And quicker to sew.

 And interesting video on high waisted pants and how they can elongate the legs was discussed on a  Facebook group I belong to. It is targeted towards men, but some of the principles apply to women. Should you wear high waisted pants

I mentioned in an earlier post that my mom now lives with us. She moved to Richmond from a small Delaware town. She is making up for lost time on the cultural activities.  This week we attended  both the play The  Book of Mormon, and the Richmond Latin Ballet’s dance tribute to the life and works of Edger Allen Poe (an interesting mashup,  but surprisingly entertaining). She and I like to dress up for these types of events, and this suit was the outfit of choice for me.

The suit jacket and pants can be worn separately with other garments.  While making the pants I noticed that one of the silks, received in a gift box from my aunt, coordinated beautifully.  It was a 4 yard piece of paisley printed chiffon with a jacquard stripe.  Perfect for the New Look 6303 blouse with bias cut, draped double layer (lots of fabric) front.

 Such an elegant, comfortable blouse to wear when made of silk.

New Look 6303

Thursday, March 7, 2019

In The Pink!

I started 2019 “in the pink”, which means in very good health and spirits. I also sewed several items that were pink, so I thought it was a good title for this post. The item that started it all was a holiday gift. A throw for my son’s girlfriend. She loves pink.  She spends her weekend visits to my house wrapped in the wool throws I have scattered in the living area.  When I saw this medium weight wool blend houndstooth knit, I knew it would be perfect for a throw to add color and snuggle warmth to the great grey slab of a couch she and my son have in their apartment.

 As for my son, I reasoned that grayed pinks in a masculine pattern shouldn’t scare a male confident in his masculinity.   I order two yards or the fabric, machine washed and dried it, serged the edges and spent several evenings hemming the four sides by hand.  They also needed some cushions. I bought a gray sheepskin pillow and sewed two others. A pink corduroy and velvet stripe appliqued with the letter “e” cut from sweatshirt fabric.  Both son and girlfriend’s names start with “e”.  And a knitted cabled pillow made from a thrifted wool fisherman’s sweater (a Pinterest idea).

While the threads in the machines were pink, I decided to sew up the asymmetrical wrap jacket from an older Burda pattern 8848.
Burda 8848
Burda 8848 envelope back

 The suggested fabric for the jacket and skirt was “wool”.  No specifics on  what kind of wool, knit or woven.  I used a brushed wool knit. It had the minimal stretch and the feel of a boiled/fulled wool.  When it arrived, the surface was brushed, but flat and matted. After washing (cool water, delicate cycle) and drying fabric by machine, the surface was fluffier. There was very little shrinkage.

This jacket is very easy to construct. The seam and hem allowances are included in the pattern. The only task that takes some time  is mitering the three corners on the front pieces. No mitering lines are given, so use your favorite method.   Hems were sewn with the cover stitch machine.  I like to fuse of hems on knit fabrics in place with Steam a Seam before coverstitching. It prevents stretching and bunching of fabric while hemming.

It is warm and cozy, and reminds me so much of  a blanket sleeper.  Some of you may remember what they were and the way they felt.

Blanket Sleeper

The third item is a loose-fitting  blouse from the Jan 2019 Burdastyle magazine.  It is described by Burda as a raglan sleeve.

BurdaStyle 1 2019 109
 I have always called a design like this, which combines the sleeve and the yoke into one piece, a saddle yoke. I was  interested in sewing a garment featuring a saddle yoke, but had only seen them in older patterns until recently.

The fabric is a hand painted silk.  Several months ago, my aunt, having heard I sewed, sent me a surprise box of fabric. It included many beautiful high-quality fabrics she had purchased while living overseas. This fabric is a Japanese hand painted silk. Really pretty.

Hand painted silk

BurdaStyle 1 2019 109

BurdaStyle 1 2019 109

Life has been a bit busy as we were preparing our house for moving my 82 year old mother in with us. Painting, installing  hand rails on stairs and grab bars in showers, as well as curtain alterations (hemming and converting tabs to pleated headers). Mom is now moved in and we are in the process of blending cat families. My one and her two. If you are a cat person, you probably know how this process is going. Any suggestions  are welcome.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

2018 Holiday Party Dress

 I enjoy sewing a dress for year end holiday parties. It gives me an opportunity to sew a dress, which I don't wear much,  in a fancy or luxurious fabric.  The holiday party this year was at the historical  Jefferson Hotel, a 5 star/diamond ( depending on rating organization) hotel  in downtown Richmond.  Attire was specified as Cocktail.

Jefferson Hotel Holiday Tree

"A dress straight out of Hollywood. Diagonal section seams sculpt it to the figure and godets flare the hem. Panne velvet in iridescent gold furnishes high fashion. Add extravagant earrings, a small luxury bag and delicate high heel sandals and you’ll look ravishing for your rendezvous."

I have wanted to make this dress since the magazine was published in 2006. At that time I was intimidated by the combination of bias cut edges and seaming,  drapey expensive fabric, and potential fitting issue.   Finally 12 years later, I felt up to attempting this dress.  There were some backup party dresses in my wardrobe, just in case.

The fabric recommended for the dress is panne velvet. Panne is a description of the finish or nap of the velvet.  I have seen both panne finished woven and knit fabrics.  I am fairly sure this dress was designed for woven fabrics though it is not specified. The fabric in the picture looked  like the .2 silk, .8 rayon panne velvet fabric available at high end fabric shops.   This fabric is expensive, around $30 per yard and often quite narrow.  In 2014, I purchased  some 100% rayon panne velvet from FabricMartFabrics  for $14.00 yard.  The drape and feel was similar to  the higher priced fabric.   And since it was rayon, I  machine washed and dried it  before cutting out the dress, so there would be no surprise shrinkage when pressing during construction.

The dress was cut out in a single layer both because of the asymmetry of all the pattern pieces and because of the shifty nature of the fabric. The fabric wouldn't stay in place on the cutting table, so  I laid the fabric fuzzy face side down on the living room carpet which is a wool oriental rug.

Floor layout
 The fabric stayed in place while cutting, thread tracing the seam lines and even applying iron on interfacing to the curves seam line of the panels ( as per the directions).  The  carpet was like Velcro to the velvet, and the wool fibers of the  were not impacted by the heat and steam of the iron.  A little unorthodox but it worked.  I just had to make sure I picked up all the stray pins so family members and the grand dog did not get any in their feet.

I cut the dress in a size 42 above the waist tapering to a size  44 below the  waist.  The dress was still a bit unfitted in the waist and wasn’t attractive ( think 1920's flapper dress). So I took in more on the bodice side seams.

While pressing seams during construction I used a 5” by 13 “needle board  design for pressing velvet, velveteen and other pile or napped fabrics to prevent flattening the pile  .  It worked really well. I Googled "needle boards" and was shocked to find the same size needle board, brand  new, was selling for $145.   In this age of manufacturing innovation and automation, I wonder why these things went up in price?
Needle Board

Velvet is notoriously challenging  to sew. It has a nap requiring careful pattern placement, special tools are needed for pressing, it creeps when trying to sew a seam. There are many sources with tips and tricks for working with velvets.  I checked a couple of them to refresh my memory.  But my "go to" is  hand basting all  seams before machine sewing.  I much prefer hand basting to ripping and resewing.

The dress in lined in bemberg rayon. I created a lining pattern for the dress by  taping the pattern sections together to create a non pieced lining pattern and omitted the godets.

Burda 11 2006 110 Panne Velvet Dress


I enjoyed the challenge of this sewing project and I am happy with the completed dress for fit and comfort. My next sewing  project will definitely be something easy.

2018 Xmas Party

Friday, November 30, 2018

Fun with Fads

I enjoy fashion and some of the fads.  It is one of my guilty pleasures. This fall  it was the plaid suits worn by the glamorous “somebodies” during fashion week in London, NY, etc.

This is the look shown on a lady close to my own age.

and here are others on younger models to show the variety of colors.

The jackets were often  double breasted, with a peaked lapel.  The pants either  tapered or cropped.  

So where did  I go for patterns for these styles, –   Burdastyle Magazine

 Lets start with the pants

Plaid pants. Not for everyone. In fact for some they are associated with playing  golf or  the  basics of a clown's wardrobe.

I like plaids, but I realize plaid pants put horizontal lines on my widest body part.   The safest plaids for pants  would be muted /dark colors with very little contrast.  Boring.   How about a navy, gray, red plaid wool flannel suiting from Denver Fabrics? The colors made me happy.

When I sew my own plaid pants, I can achieve  a customized fit, and better plaid matching than RTW.  And if I don't like them for everyday wear, I tell myself  that  I just made a pants muslin with obvious horizontal and vertical  lines  that I can use to fine tune fit.

The pants pattern I chose was a high waisted, tapered leg style from Burdastyle 12 2010 108.

An easy sew as I left them unlined. The wool fabric had a gabardine weave and hard finish.  Not itchy at all.



Ah yes,  I also bought  a pair of  cream boots. Fast fashion faux leather for less that the price of a yard of wool fabric from Mood.  They remind me of the white Go Go boots I had in grade school.

 I remember those boots because it was the first time I had an article of clothing that was considered in style,  and I was so excited about wearing them.  Thinking back, I don't  believe my mother bought them for me, too frivolous.  They must have been a present from my doting paternal grandmother.  I remember her fondly for her habit of buying me cool presents (impractical and not age appropriate in my mother’s words) from expensive department stores. I loved her presents. That she thought I was the type of person who appreciated the latest fashion and jewelry. Even though my mother was right. I remember disliking the scent of the Windsong perfume, and the beaded hippie necklaces didn't go with the dresses I wore to school. But the perfume bottle sat on my dresser for years and I still have those necklaces somewhere.

Back on topic.

For the blazer, the style had to be double breasted with welted flap pockets and a peaked lapel. Patterns for this style of jacket are offered every couple of years in Burdastyle. Burda 7/2015, model 125 and 9/2018 model  117 are almost identical.  I chose the latest incarnation from the Oct 2018 issue. It is in tall sizes. I am an inch shorter than the tall size height. I decided that was not enough lack of height to  worry about alterations.

 If I had really thought about all the work this blazer was going to require, this project would have ended before it started.  Many seams, plaid layout and matching, welt pockets with flaps, collars with stands and shaped lapels, I haven’t made a jacket like this in years.  When  it was time to do the welted pockets or the collar and lapels,  I definitely needed remedial help. The YouTube series "How to sew a jacket" from Atelier Saison  a Japanese sewing factory that sews garments individually, was just what I needed.  The video series was recommended by Tany .  And while the videos have no verbal instructions,  and minimal text translation, which are only visible in full screen mode on my computer, the footage is very clear and the process flow is logical.


And though I don't think I would wear both pieces as a suit, at least not to work. I did have fun cavorting around the back yard in them. And taking photos that would embarrass my children.