Sunday, November 22, 2009

Strong Shoulders Revisited - Burda 12/09 Overblouse 108

I posted earlier this fall about strong shoulder silhouettes. My fascination with these extreme shoulder shapes was around the technical details. How did they construct them and what was used to maintain their shape? Some of the pictures in my idea file featured this sleeve used by Dolce and Gabbana in their Spring 2009 collection.

Yesterday my December issue of Burda magazine arrived in the noon mail and there was a “over blouse “ with similar sleeves. Shown in a brocade fabric, it was styled with leather pants, a wide black cuff bracelet and a clutch purse. Sort of a dressy up casual look, for holiday parties.

I had started working on a wool jacket that morning, but it was “same old stuff”. This over blouse was much more interesting, and after reading the instruction, I just had to make it. Was it a bit fashion forward for the Richmond fashion scene? Yes. For a lady my age? Yes. Would I wear it a lot? Probably not. But sewing is my hobby, done for pleasure, not production! If a new technique or style excites me, I will try it just for the experience. Okay, I do have a practical side. The blouse is actually a fitted sleeveless top, that is completely finished prior to attaching the lined oval shapes over the armholes to form the “shoulder puff’ sleeves. So when this fad passes I can remove the sleeves and have a very nice fitted holiday top.

I had a bunch of silk brocades in my stash, part of a bundle of tie fabric remnants bought years ago. So if this blouse reminds you of your husband’s tie, it may be the exact same fabric! And I keep a supply of lightweight separating zippers because I like to use them for blouses and indoor jackets. So I was ready to go. The blouse is in Burda Tall sizes. I fall in between the 5’9” of their tall size and the 5’6” of the regular size. I always make the regular size and lengthen leg and skirt lengths. I was prepared to “de tall” (shorten) this pattern, but during a test fit the bust point and waist fell in the right place for me. I did shorten the top at the hem a bit so it did not hit mid hip (widest point on me).

The sleeve pieces are two similar oval shaped pieces that are interfaced and lined. They are attached to each other along part of the seam that goes over the shoulder. I used a non woven fusible that tends to stiffen up fabric. It, along with the natural stiffness of the silk brocade, worked nicely to hold the sleeve shape. And the seam allowances on the shoulder curve are not trimmed. They are pressed open on both the lining and fashion fabric adding a lot of stiffness and shape in that area. The back sleeve piece is actually slightly bigger than the front, because it has go over the rounded contour of the shoulder back. I like the oval shape of the sleeves better than the circular shape used by D&G. It looks more “couture” to me. Someone did a very good job drafting this pattern.

Is this sleeve comfortable? Yes, when my arms are down or only bent at the elbow. (Note to self: Only drinks with straws, no bottled beer) When I start to lift my arm, I feel the stiffness of the sleeve edge, which is strange. If I lift my arms up a lot, the top goes with it. (Another note to self - restrained dancing only, hip shimmies and shoulders rolls) Ah ha, I just realized why they showed a clutch purse with it in the magazine picture. A purse strap would crush the sleeves. Ummm, I hope it’s warm the night I wear this. I can’t imagine what kind of coat or wrap to wear over it. I haven't seen a name for this sleeve. I think it should be called the Pauldron Sleeve. A "pauldron" generally refers to any kind of shoulder-pad style armor, covering the top of the shoulder. And the definition goes on to say that when the pauldron extends past the armpit, movement is restricted. I'd say that is accurate.

Laughing and head shaking is permitted.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Winter Coat - Vogue 8548

Yes, I am still around, Lots of weekend activities have cut into my sewing time, and then more recently, uncertainty over my job (layoffs) dampened my enthusiasm to sew clothes for a lifestyle that might soon be changing. Even though the severance package would have been great and we could live just fine with one wage earner, it was still stressful. Last week I was told I still had a job and I could feel my spirits lift as I drove home from work that day.

I reorder my clothes closets twice a year when the seasons change. I pull the fall/winter clothes out of the cedar storage closet and move them to the bedroom closet, at the same time I take the spring summer clothes to the storage closet. I also do the same thing to my sewing patterns and fabric. I put all the patterns and fabrics that I never got around to sewing this summer, in a storage closet, and bring out the winter type patterns and fabrics. One cold day a couple weeks ago, while fondling a pile of wools, I looked out onto the deck and backyard and noticed a startling large number of squirrels, all with acorns in their mouths, darting too and fro between the planters and the flower beds. Darned lazy varmints! They prefer to bury their nuts in the soft soil of those locations, rather than the hard packed clay of the yard. Every spring I have to pull oak and black walnut seedling out of the planters. I wondered if the mass squirrel scamper was a harbinger of impending colder weather. I really believe animals can sense weather changes before humans. For a winter coat, I tend to rely on an ancient lined raincoat. It works well for all weather conditions such as rain, sleet and snow, if combined with quick dashes between buildings and car. I haven’t made a coat in over 25 years. Not since I moved away from rural central Pennsylvania and its cold snowy winters. Ah, the memories of the 40-minute drive to work, following behind the snowplow on a narrow winding two-lane road. Anyway, I always read magazine articles about finding the perfect fashion forward, slim fitting, warm winter coat. Dashingly accessorized with a non hair crushing, non static generating hat, and artfully arranged scarf. Well, I decided to up my winter fashion game a bit and make a nice coat. I remember being impressed last fall with EricaB's version of Vogue 8548 coat.

It was stylish, but still fairly easy to sew. No notched collar, no buttonholes, and lined to the edge. I made version C ( gray check in picture above) with corded button loops and the smaller neck opening. The fabric I used was a charcoal gray and red jacquard purchased recently from Fabric Mart. I thought the fabric would be jacket weight. When it arrived it was definitely coating weight. I used the darker, predominately gray side, as the "good" side. I reversed the fabric on the lapel facing so that if it is unbuttoned, it shows a bit of a brighter color. I was able to squeeze the knee length coat out of two yards even after lengthening it by 2 inches.

Even though this was an easy pattern, I managed to sew the skirt piece together in the wrong order, I guess I was "sewing while distracted" and ignored the notches. I did not notice the mistake until the bottom half was finished, lined, edge stitched, hemmed and ready to attach to the bodice. Arggg, I hate ripping out stitching, especially on thick fabric in a coarse weave. The threads are embedded in the fabric and there is a higher chance of catching and cutting the fabric. While working on the coat, all the things I did not like about coat making came back to me. Working with heavy fabrics, especially the weight of the nearly finished coat than must be heaved about when working on final finishing details. And the fitting issues. I can fit a blouse or jacket, but am uncertain on how much ease is needed in a coat that will be worn over other garments. I made the size 16, but I think the bodice is a little large. The shoulders extend beyond my shoulders and the back the upper back is too wide. However our weather has warmed up again, so rather than tear the coat apart to downsize the bodice now, I think I will wait and wear it a few time over clothes to see if I really need to alter it.
Our cold weather spell, followed by recent warm wet weather has the poor Camellia bush confused. It is blooming profusely now, about 4 months early. But its red and yellow bloom look great next to the turning leaves of the red maple (both in the background of the picture) Can you till my favorite color is red? Not only in my wardrobe, but also for flowers and leaves of the plants I grow in my yard.