Sunday, December 4, 2011

Troublesome Trio

My week off and the Thanksgiving holiday was lovely. DS hosted the holiday dinner so the parents would not have to travel far. Here is her gorgeous table before the meal started
and after.


I was taking the pictures. When I had put the camera away and filled my plate, I found that DS the eldest (19) had promoted himself to the adult table and the only empty seat was at, you guessed it, the kid table. So I ate with my nieces and nephews, ages 6-17, and had a great time.

On the sewing side of life, I am working on a 6 piece wardrobe, part of a 6PAC sew along at Stitcher’s Guild 6PAC The goal is to sew a 6 piece wardrobe in 3 months.

The color scheme for my mini wardrobe was inspired by the colors I saw, for what seemed like weeks, on my morning drive to work. Gray skies or fog. Ribbons of concrete top stitched with lanes lines of dull gold and white. A leafy border of fading gold and rust above the ribbed cement noise barriers lining the side of the road. My drive home from work is in the dark.

The colors: greige (gray +beige), brown, gold, white, rust. The textures: smooth, ribbed or leafy. Techniques: top stitching, pin tucking, gathers

I have completed the first three garments. Each of them had an issue/challenge.

The knit top is Burda 1-2011 – 129.


I used a small piece of poly lycra animal print fabric. With a careful layout, ¾ sleeves and 3/8 seams, I was able to get all the pattern pieces cut out. I sewed the bodice using a straight stitch, something I do for fitting purposes on knits because I hate to rip out serging. It was too big, gigunda. I would have expected this top pattern to have been drafted with negative ease. But for the size 42 ( bust 36.25 inches) the pattern bust measurement was 38.5. I removed 4 inches of ease to get this top to fit snugly. Some of this may have been because my fabric was softer and stretchier than the jersey fabric used by Burda. On the back piece, which has the front armhole and shoulder cut on, I did it by creating a center back seam.  On the  front I cut the excess fabric off the sides.


The pants were a challenge because of operator (me) error tracing the pattern.
Where was my mind that day? I didn’t trace the front zipper area extension or the pocket extension. The pants pieces on the pattern sheet overlapped and  I inadvertently traced the grain line for the front pant piece on the back pattern piece and vise versa. It wasn’t until I was laying out the pattern pieces on the fabric that it occurred to me something might be wrong. The pant leg bottoms were not on the cross grain.

I discovered, after 20 years of using Burda patterns, that the grain line indicator on any pattern piece starts at the top edge. I caught the grain line and the front extension error before cutting the fabric. But not the pocket extension. I didn’t notice that until I was sewing the pocket to the pocket lining and they did not match up. The save was easy, but not satisfying. The side seam can be seen in the pocket opening. The fabric is a milk chocolate brown wool gabardine. I do like the style of these pants, especially the close fit in the upper leg with the gentle flare at the hem. This is not mentioned in the copy or obvious from the line drawing.

Finally the jacket – a Sandra Betzina Vogue pattern 1036 with lots of pattern pieces and top stitching.
I chose a cement colored polyester suede fabric. It was the perfect color and texture, but what was I thinking? I must have taken out the top stitching on every seam at least once because of wavering stitches and tension problems. My machine does great top stitching in the center needle position. But when I try to use an edge foot and a needle left or right position, the thread tension goes out the window. I actually have to tighten the tension of the  heavier top thread to fix the problem. And how the heck do you press this type of fabric flat? Heat, steam, both? Too much heat and it melts. Ask me how I know. I broke down and actually used a press cloth to prevent imprinting the suede texture with the iron. But the press cloth  I used was muslin and I couldn’t see what I was doing. It was very frustrating. I was complaining about this to my sewing friends over lunch, after a guild meeting, and one mentioned this Threads magazine article "Make a Press-Cloth Wardrobe," Threads #154, p. 44 Guide to Press Cloths about having a variety of pressing cloths, including one of silk organza which is slightly transparent. The silk organza worked great, but I still had to hand baste edges to hold them  in place for top stitching.  Any "how to press" suggestions are appreciated as I would like to make Vogue 1268, the Guy Laroche shirt dress, out of similar fabric. And to add more rework; I cut the lining for the jacket out of some heavier taffeta like material from my stash. It was too stiff and changed the hand of the suede. So I ripped it out and cut another lining out of Bemberg.
This jacket took forever. If I don’t look too closely at the top stitching, I actually like it a lot.


Right now I am trying to decide whether to make a few new holiday party outfits or wear ones I already have. Making new ones is definitely winning.

28 comments:

Irene said...

What a beautiful outfit. Glad that you managed to get over all the hurdles that seemed to fall in your way. I can understand your frustration at the issue of pressing fake suede. I ran into the same problems with my red skirt recently. I used an organdy piece for a press cloth and ignored the flattened nap for the duration of sewing. Once the skirt was done, I steamed all the ugly areas and raised the nap with a toothbrush (not the one from the bathroom!) Don't know if this will work on all fake suedes.

Marie-Noƫlle said...

Audrey, what afantastic post to read.
The thanksgiving table is outstanding, congratuletion to DS.
You have a very apoetic way of finding inspiration and I can't wait to see your whole 6 piece wardrobe.
The first 3 are fantastic. Actualy, the pants are on my sewing lit I love their line. Thanks to you I will be estra careful with the grain lines. As for the pleather jacket it is gorgeous.
I am sure you'll look fab in the Guy Laroche dress.
Happy sewing.

Carol said...

I made a skirt with lots of topstitching from this same fabric and it was a nightmare to press. You're very brave attempting the jacket in faux suede, but it has turned out beautifully. I really like the lines. I have been contemplating the top, as well, so I'll keep your experience in mind. I, too, would have thought there was negative ease but I've had that same experience with other Burda knit tops. I'm impressed with the pants. I wouldn't attempt that pattern but they look lovely on you. A great outfit.

Karin said...

I love the jacket! The topstitching looks neat to me! The top and pants are also good. What a shame that everything was a bit more work than it normally would be. You have sewn a complete, pulled together outfit. Why don't I do that? You look really smart in it all.

Go on and sew some new party clothes- we'd all love to see what you make! :-)

kbenco said...

You look completely fabulous in your outfit. I would never guess that it was made from such a pesky set of patterns and fabrics. Please don't hate me for thinking it is rather reassuring that someone who sews so beautifully can have a troublesome trio. Your saves are very clever.
I hope your new holiday outfits go together smoothly ;)

Gail said...

What a great set of garments. I particularly like the jacket and wouldn't mind something like this myself but couldn't see the pattern reference for it.

AllisonC said...

Great pieces you are well on the way to having your wardrobe finished. I especially love the jacket, looks like a lot of work but well worth it.

Julie Culshaw said...

Ron Collins would probably recommend using Steam-a-Seal for this top-stitching. I don't like using gluey notions myself but I have to admit his results are beautiful.

Pin Queen said...

Wow, what a lovely outfit! I have this jacket pattern in my stash, with some pale blue "suede" which will be part of my Spring sewing plan. Thanks for the pressing tips which are most helpful.

Bunny said...

Grogeous outfit and it looks fabulous on you. Your "inspiration" story is very interesting.

Amanda S. said...

Beautifully sewn with some really great saves! Sorry you had so many problems - this happens to me regularly. And I hope you do make some new party clothes!

gwensews said...

All pieces are terrific. I love the top with the square neckline, and your jacket is awesome.

Carolyn (cmarie12) said...

I love your first three pieces, they work so well together.

Beth (SunnyGal Studio) said...

Great outfit, you look so chic. I am totally envious of your well-fitting pants, that is my goal for this winter. Fantastic.

sandysewin said...

Nice work! Everything looks fantastic from here, especially the jacket. Lot of work and frustration, but oh, so worth it. :-)

a little sewing said...

Your bravery is inspiring. I shy away from those suede kinds of fabrics out of fear it will melt or misbehave. I can see that my fears are well-founded.
Having said that, what a successful jacket! The pattern is a great choice for the texture of the suede.
And I like your color inspiration. You look great in your troublesome trio!

Mary Nanna said...

how satisfying to have a whole new outfit to wear where it all works together in such a chic way. It's a really beautiful outfit.

I always love seeing the external details of bloggers lives - I was intrigued by the pine tree next to the motorway - the road so high in the sky, the light mist - it was so different to how things look here.

And i just loved how you incorporated the spirit of that into your garment selection. Truly great home sewing is 9 parts craft, 1 good hefty dose art.

Linda said...

Your top, pants and jacket look great! I am trying to finish a SB jacket in faux leather/shearling. It is a bear to sew. I cannot tell from the photo that your topstitching looks off. The jacket looks great from my view.

Robyn said...

I think my favourite piece is your jacket, though it sounds like it was a lot of work. I really like where you drew your inspiration from.

Anonymous said...

Love your trio! I am so in awe of your artistry. And you are a skilled seamstress! ~Valerie

j.kaori said...

What a nice Thanksgiving table! Funny to hear about the kid's table -- I didn't get elevated until I got married, so interesting to hear that it is possible to go back at some point! All of the pieces are lovely, but that jacket is especially nice. I'm looking forward to seeing your new holiday outfits!

SewBarbie said...

Audrey, the top and pants are really nice, but I'm crazy about that jacket! What a fantastic job you did- the top-stitching looks great;

Vicki said...

Love that jacket! And the colours for the wardrobe are really soothing and appealing.

Vicki said...

Just having a re-read and I thought I would mention something I learnt from Marcy Tilton Tshirt CD - leave side seams to last and then pin fit it to you. Sounds like a pain but all knit fabrics are different and you can get the fit you like without surprises if you pin fit first. And thanks for mentioning the grain line starting from the top on Burda. I hadn't notice that either!

Anne-Marie said...

Audrey, as many of us you are so hard on your self, your top stitching is wonderful. This is a difficult fabric to work with that does not want to stay flat when you press it. I wish I had a tip for you. For textured fabric, I often use towels to keep the fluff, but as you mentioned, you have to go blindly.... which is not that bad if you do small sections. I do not know if it works with that fabric ?? You were very patient with the top. The fit is A+. I was never attracted by that pattern since Burda's picture is so bad. The top gaps in so many places. Your version makes me change my mind. Wonderful out fit and great inspiration source. I like the picture with the concrete structure. I haven't been in Virginia for so many years.

Cennetta said...

Audrey, The Thanksgiving table is beautiful and festive. It's good you enjoyed your holiday. Now that outfit is one I can use in my wardrobe. I have both issues of Burda.

The Slapdash Sewist said...

Party sewing is so much more fun than everyday sewing, even though it gets much less wear. Go for the party!

Love your pieces, and your inspiration photos are breathtaking! The jacket really looks great, despite your pain in making it. Looking forward to seeing the rest of your six pack!

Lisette M said...

What great pieces! The jacket really looks wonderful!