Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Working from Home

I am working from home, like many other people. As per company communications, I will be doing it for at least the next two weeks.  I personally do not like to work from home.  I have always enjoyed sewing and dressing for a corporate work environment, and interacting daily with “in the flesh” people. At home, there are too many domestic distractions.  Pets, sewing projects, my DH wanting to talk about the inspection and repairs on a rental property we just purchased.  Also, my neighborhood is a black hole of Verizon phone coverage, so I must use the house phone for conference calls. Good thing we still have a house phone.   And how is it that coworkers with 30 plus years with the company have never used Skype or don’t know how to share their screen on a Webex?  Yes, I am an old grouch!

How nice that I had just returned from a sewing retreat (gathering size = 10 ) and had a new, appropriate for working from home, top to cheer me up.  McCalls  7842 “Semi-fitted, button front shirts have sleeve variations and shaped hemline.

I made view C,  the multi fabric version, in coordinated plaids.

1. Red plaid from a thrifted XL size shirt
2. Black linear plaid from Vogue Fabrics
3. Black red plaid from deep stash

I found the perfect red plaid to coordinate with my black plaids in a thrifted men's shirt. An XL size provided enough fabric for one front  and the upper back.   

All that remans

Pattern construction instructions are good. Only issue was that there did not appear to be a matching square on the front pattern piece for the square on the lower edge of the back overlap.  I assumed it was supposed to match with the seam line and this appears to have been correct.  The back overlay is lined and then topstitched to the  rest of the garment,  1 inch from finished edge.  This resulted in the front points curling back .  I tacked the overlay to the rest of garment closer to the edge using the machine hemming stitch.
tacked overlay

The front placket is designed to hide the buttons, but the way the pattern wants you to construct it results in 6 layers of seam allowances that must be dealt with at the front bodice placket seam line.  I chose to use an easier to sew and construct hidden placket. The front right-hand side placket is double width and folds back over itself to hide the buttons.
Hidden bucket placket

Surprisingly there aren’t a lot of blog posts or reviews of this pattern online.  One good one is Pati Palmer’s, which features details of a full bust adjustments.  She also made a different hidden button placket.

Palmer Pletsch

McCalls  7842 

McCalls7842 back

Oh,  and other domestic distractions; my camera, great outside light and the urge to blog.  Now I’ve really have to  get back to work.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Feb BurdaStyle Duo

I loved the Feb issue of Burdastyle.  It had so many styles that appealed to me.  These two were perfect for an upcoming vacation.

The blouse is cropped in front, and longer in back.  The pants have deep waist pleats, panel seams on the legs and welt pockets.  I used a silk print  ( Anna Sui, FMF, I think) from deep in the stash for the top and a lightweight wool gabardine with a lot of drape for the pants.

"Wow it's windy" Copy the Magazine pose
pocket detail BurdaStyle 106 pants
The BurdaStyle instructions for the welt pocket were really difficult to understand, but what really surprised me is that none of my sewing books (and I have many) had any information on making this type of pocket, with a single vertical welt .  Neither did online sources.  An ancient issue of Threads magazine saved me.  There were detailed instructions in Issue 75, from 1998, in an article called Pant Pattern Upgrade  - Use menswear techniques to improve the comfort, appearance, and quality of any basic pants pattern, by the late Mary Ellen Flury.  I  extended the top of the pocket pieces, as suggested by the article, so that they were caught in the  waistband seam to prevent sagging and pulling.
Threads Issue 75 -Pant Pattern Upgrade

This is a fun and comfortable outfit to wear. The pant legs are a voluminous and taper quite a bit at the hem. There is a dart up the center back leg, starting at the hemline, in addition to the seaming on the front legs.The hemline is so tapered, it is finished with a facing rather than a turned up hem. A friend calls them my "baggy pants".

The vacation was in AZ,  where it is a felony to steal or kill the state's iconic saguaros cactuses.  In this case the Airbnb owners built around it. And we were very careful when driving the car into the garage.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Ogee Oscar - Vintage Vogue 1678

I recently participated in a Instagram vintage sew along #joyvivsewvintage.  The patterns had to be from 1995 or earlier.  Well geez, that was not a problem, Back in the 90's   I  was working in corporate America, where the work wear was still dressy. I sewed many of my work suits and dresses.  But I also had two young children, so a lot of pattern and fabric purchases never got used and went straight to the stash.

 I dug out this  1995 Vogue designer pattern from Oscar De La Renta.

Vogue 1678
I have long wanted to sew it,  mostly because of the challenge of the shaped inserts, the ogee or parenthesis shaped inserts to be more specific, especially the ones on view B yellow dress. About the same time, I was making this dress, DH was watching a woodworking show that described the serpentine, extended curve as an Ogee curve.  I googled Ogee on a favorite online fabric site and pages of decorator fabrics came up.  The ancient tile in our bathroom  has a similar pattern and when I googled “ogee tile”, a picture of it popped up on the screen.  Who knew?

Vogue 1678 

I gave a lot of thought on how I would seam the pieces to get the perfect curves. I used a technique based on one I had used for applique quilting many years ago, when  I made several Baltimore Album quilts.  A high level description of the technique would be to turn under the seam allowance of the curved edge using a template, Hand applique/tack the curved edge to the background fabric, turn to wrong side of garment and machine stitching on the seamline. Remove applique/tacking stitch.

If you have access to old Threads Magazines, these article  describe similar techniques.

Easy Applique for complex shapes    Beatriz M. Grayson        60 AUG/SEP 1995 69
Add Style with Graphic Fabric Insertions   Pamela Ptak        113 JUN/JUL 2004 48

For my template I used freezer paper.

1. Copy the pattern piece for the  curved shape including seam allowance onto freezer paper.
2. Iron waxy side of freezer paper to wrong side of fabric.

3. Stitch a scant 5/8 inch from cut edge through the paper and fabric. This line of stitching acts both as stay stitching and the seam allowance  turn under line.
4.  Remove the freezer paper in the seam allowance. This should be easy to do as the stitching perforates the paper.
5. Clip seam allowance of fabric  on curves and press back over the edge of the freezer paper along stitched line.
Wrong side of dress front with seam allowance pressed over freezer paper template

6.  Lay piece on top of adjoining fabric piece, along seam allowance line . Hand stitch the two pieces together along seam line just catching a tiny bit of the turned edge. I use a fell stitch.


 7. Flip top piece over so right sides are together, exposing seam allowances.  Remove remaining freezer paper. Sew along seam line just a smidge to outside of the stitching that marked the turn line, on the garment side of the line.
Sewing seam to outside of blue turn line stitching. Orange stitches that cross blue thread are the fell stitches 

8. Remove basting stitches

The fabric I used is actually older than the pattern. Both the black and white tweed , and the purple wool crepe were purchased in the early 80's at a place called Surplus City in central PA, where I lived at the time.   You are probably starting to guess at the age and size of my stash. Yes, it is scary.

I used a size 14 above waist and 16 below.   I took some length out of the bodice above the bust, probably the space intended for the shoulder pad.  I redrafted the sleeve head to fit the resulting armhole better.   I add an insert at the neckline to add interest and fill in the neckline. It was actually easy to create the shape. I laid view A  front pattern over view  B front pattern and the resulting difference between the two  necklines made a great Ogee shaped insert. Same for the back pieces for the two views.

View A of this dress  comes down the runway in this YouTube video   OSCAR DE LA RENTA Fall 1994/1995 New York at  6:21 min. It is mini length, which make it look a lot less matronly than it does on the pattern envelope. And the hat it is worn with is outrageous. It was interesting seeing all the super models of the time Naomi, Helena, Yasmin when they were so, so young.

Vogue 1687

Vogue 1678 side view - weird shape
Vogue 1687 back

Monday, February 3, 2020

Wardrobe Basic - Denim - Black Flair Jeans

Back in December,  Stefanie of  Sea of Teal Blog announced her  Sew Your Wardrobe Basics challenge for 2020. Every month she publishes a theme or a piece of clothing she wants/needs in her wardrobe, along with  inspirations and pattern ideas …  and she  invites anyone to sew along.

January’s theme was denim. The most worn denim pieces in my wardrobe are black denim.  Not only jeans, but I even have a black denim jean jacket. Black goes with so many garments in my wardrobe.  I was getting tired of the skinny and straight leg jean styles that I have so many of.  This challenge prompted me to add a new style of black jeans to my wardrobe: flare leg.  I have sewn jeans before, but they never seem to fit as well as RTW.  My favorite pair of flare leg jeans is a pair from the brand  Nic and Zoe. The fabric is a heavy 95% cotton, 5% lycra  fabric that may even be a knit. It is hard to tell. They fit well in the butt and are very close fitting in the hip and thigh area.

 I  copied the N&Z pair. There are many ways to copy Jeans. Just Google it, or look on YouTube and chose your method.  My first attempt, using the rubbing  method, resulted a slightly wonky looking pattern.  The second attempt,  pinning paper (Dr's examination table paper, Thanks Jane!)  to the seams of the pants, resulted in a much more accurate pattern.

copy of  N&Z  pant pattern
 The fabric I chose to use was   Telio Atwell Denim Twill Black Fabric.  Contents 65% Cotton/32% Polyester/3% Lycra Spandex.  Description: This medium weight (6.5 oz. per square yard) denim has a soft hand, a nice drape, and about 15% stretch across the grain for comfort and ease.

This fabric had a lot more stretch that the original pant fabric and I was a bit  apprehensive to do jean style top stitching on a stretch fabric.  So I added fusible, straight of grain, seam reinforcing tape (Japanese Tailoring tape) to seam lines to prevent stretching  specifically on the back yoke, the front pockets, and the center front zipper area. 

Fusible tape on  yoke seam

Leather trim on back pocket.
  I faced the waistband with elastic, something I saw in another pair of RTW jeans.  I have a problem with jeans' waistbands stretching out which  means I am constantly tugging my jeans up all day. I stamped the elastic with an "a" for Audrey.

Waist faced with elastic.

I am very happy with the fit.  Only problem is the fabric seems to be a big lint attractor.

I even dug the black denim jacket out of the back of the closet, a Burda Style magazine pattern that  predates my blogging, so at least 15 years ago.

Who picked this paint color? I need my shades!

Monday, January 20, 2020

Dressing to DIscuss Dying

I was asked to give a program on “Dyes, Types  and Uses” for an ASG  neighborhood group.  In general, I don’t mind giving a presentation about something I enjoy, though I always make sure my audience knows I am not an expert.  For my presentations I like to incorporate something in my outfit that supports or illustrates the topic.  I spotted this outfit in the Oct 2019 BurdaStyle magazine. #115.  It was the perfect outfit for the presentation.

Burda Oct 2019 115

  A colorful, easy to sew top, and  coordinating necklace. That could be used to illustrate the use of dye on different materials; fabric and wood.  

I dyed some very inexpensive wool lycra knit using Rit brand, general purpose, Aquamarine dye and the instructions for protein fibers.  I had bought this fabric specifically for experimenting with dying and fabric manipulation.  I prefer silk and wool when I do this, but these types of fabrics can be expensive.  So, when I find some light-colored wool or silk yardage sold “As Is” because of defects or dirt, I snap it up.
My wool sucked up all the dye in the solution, resulting in a deep color. There were some light streaks and dark blobs, which is not surprising when dying wool with general purpose dyes.  There are better dyes designed specifically for protein ( wool ) fibers. But they are not available in grocery, big box or hobby stores.

The Burda top is easy to sew, I serged the seams, and used a coverstitch for the hem on the sleeves and bottom edge. I tapered the sleeves to be narrower from elbow to wrist. A style preference.

Burda top 115 from Oct 2019 issue
Burda top 115  Oct 2019 issue
The necklace was made of unfinished wood circles, (Amazon) rubbed with the undiluted dye, the edges colored black using a sharpie pen.  And sprayed with a gloss finish spray.   To form the chain from the circles I cut a slit in the rings with a handsaw. The slit allows just enough flexibility to interlink the rings.  I have strands of Christmas tree “chains” made this way.  That is where the idea came from.
Dyed wooden necklace

The presentation went well, and I got a lot of questions about the necklace.

ASG Dying Presentation 
As part of the presentation I talked about using Rit Dyemore and IDye Poly to dye synthetic fiber wigs. At the end of the presentation I donned a wig I had dyed using Rit Polydye.  

My silly selfie of  me as a “blue hair”


Love the  Urban Dictionary's definition: "An old person who's white hair appears blue. Usually it is the only thing you can see over the steering wheel of the car they are driving."

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

2020 A New Year

"Why, Audrey what is that you are wearing?"  My new Atacac stripe body stocking. Thanks for asking. Doesn't it fit beautifully? And the stripes disguise any body flaws. "But where ever to you wear it?"  Oh you know,  creative photography sessions, or to  perform  improv dances. And I sewed it myself!

 The pattern is  available from Atacac as a  downloadable PDF,  either free or  for a contribution of 10 euro.  For a pattern as unique as this, I felt it was worth the donation.  This body stocking was designed to support the  PhD thesis "Kinetic Garment Construction" of one of the Atacac founders. The thesis is available on the site and makes for interesting reading. As well as the Atacac business model and manufacturing philosophy.  Check it out.

Back to the pattern.  There are no directions and the pattern only comes in one  size.  A size 3. It is a bit short in the torso for me. I suspect it would best  fit a body with the dimensions below and a height of  5'6" - 5'7"

The pattern is very unique looking

Atacac Body Stocking pattern

I purchased  3 yards of 60 wide cotton/lycra knit from Fabric.com.  I was disappointed the stripes on this rather expensive fabric were printed rather than knitted, fearing sloppy stripe printing would cause major matching issues.  The printing was accurate. Any matching issues was mine.

Some piecing was required because of the odd pattern shape and I didn’t feel like spending time to see if there was a “no piecing required” layout. My  joints can only take so much crawling around on the floor, which is where I had to do the pattern layout and cutting.

One side of pattern

There are points around the pattern labeled with letters.  These points are used for putting the pattern together.  Mark every one of the matching points,  with letters. They are critical, as the fabric wraps and twists around both the legs and arms in a very non intuitive way.

Recommended Sewing Directions
  1. Sew the neck dart and the back head dart on each side piece.
  2. Sew the leg seam on each side piece. The foot has some weird tight curves. Use those match points!
  3. Sew hand /arm seam on each side piece.   I hand basted the 1 mm seams allowance on the fingers before sewing on the machine. There was no way I would have been able to successfully sew the small seam allowances in small curved areas, in a stretch knit,  without the basting.  Another option is to rough cut around the hands leaving fabric between fingers. Mark the seams around the fingers on the hands, sew around the fingers on seam line, and trim fabric from between fingers.
  4. Sew the zipper(s) in the back seam.  The website description on the purchased  body stocking says" the body stocking  is closed with a invisible  zipper running across the head and down the seam at the back. Since I had trouble sourcing an invisible longer that 36". I used two invisible zippers in the back seam; a 9 inch and a 26 inch. They both start at the same point at the back neck , the shorter zipper opens towards the head and the longer one towards the crotch.   I inserted them in the back seam at this point  in the sewing, to make the insertion and stripe matching easier.
  5. Open the zippers and sew the seam from the top of the head, where the short zipper ends, down the front and under the crotch to the point where the longer zipper ends.
Voila, Put it on and startle your spouse and pets.

Reality - I need help to get it on. It is also a bit difficult to see through the fabric.

  I have several other Atacac patterns in the queue. Stay tuned.