Sunday, April 24, 2016

Not a New Look for me

I have seen the question "What is the inspiration for your next sewing project?" posted on blogs. 

It varies for me. Sometime the inspiration for my next sewing project is the piece of fabric lying on the top of the  nearest pile.  Is this the  LIFO (last in first out) inventory method? Probably not when that piece  recently came from the depths of my stash.

  Our ASG group recently did some community sewing. Duffle bags for foster children  with the local chapter of  Catholic Charities. A group of teenage boys.  So the bags had to be in boy type fabrics. I dug deep into my stash of denims and cotton twills, from the pre lycra era, and pulled out a large piece of sueded, dusty purple colored cotton.  It yielded a couple  of duffle bags, but there was still a big piece left over. On its way back to the depths of my stash it happened to take a rest stop  by a piece of  rayon gauze print. An unfamiliar fabric in non typical colors. A "Why did I order this?" Internet purchase. But they coordinated. So I decided to make a jacket out of the cotton and a top out of the gauze.  I wanted to make a short jacket to go over a longer top. Like the multi layer, cascading look of this HP pattern, which I order, printed, taped together, compared to my sloper and decided the required alterations were not worth the effort.

 I chose New Look 6633 for the jacket because it had simple neckline and princess seams for fitting.    I created facings instead of lining it to the edge and did channel stitching around the front and sleeve edges.
I chose New Look 6213 for the top  because it was long and had the drapey tie in the front.  I decided to make view A with the flutter, cut out shoulder sleeves because the cold shoulder fad is quite big now in RTW.

New Look 6213
New Look 6213

My final feelings on this combo.


Stiff cotton fabrics do not make flattering jackets.
One piece sleeves is stiff cotton fabrics quickly start to look like corrugated pipes.
Donate all old cotton denims and cotton twills to charity !

New Look jacket 6633


Rayon guaze is interesting fabric. light weight but stiff, easy to sew.
Dusty purple and pale pink are not my colors.
The cutout shoulder flutter sleeves

New Look 6213 view A
New Look 6213  - cold shoulder

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Vogue 1493 Part 1 - A Battle with Bias

I have been working on the latest Koos Van den Akker jacket from Vogue Patterns for the past 4 weekends plus some evening session when I wasn’t traveling for work.

 And I am still not done.

 Don’t underestimate the time it will take to make the version of this jacket with the embellishments and appliqu├ęs.  What takes so much time? It requires yards and yards of bias binding.

  ½ “ and 1 “  finished  width, single fold bias binding for the  embellishment on the  garment front, the front band and sleeve cuff. And on the inside, the raw edges of the seams are finished with ½ “  double fold bias binding  to prevent fraying and give  a couture look.  I wanted binding in specific colors and fabrics, which meant I had to make it before I could apply it.

The pattern instructions for forming and applying the bias trim are very clear and complete, however I chose to use some  different processes and tools for making and applying the bias on my jacket.

Embellishment Bias

My embellishment  bias binding was made using a linen  blend.  It was easy to cut  and press into shape.  

Cutting - I used the rotary cutter and a clear see through ruler to cut 1" strips from the fabric, not the pattern piece supplied. This allowed longer strips and less joins.

My method
Pattern methods
Forming  - I used a bias binding maker tool .

Applying -  I applied the  ½ inch binding to the cuffs and front  bands using a 6mm cover stitch. 

Pros – Fast!  Because  both edges are stitched down at same time sides at once.  Con – adds thread/weight to backside of sleeve cuff and neck band pieces.  If you are considering applying the bias with a cover stitch machine, you might want to narrow the binding from ½ inch to 3/8 “otherwise there is a lot of space between the edge of the binding and the stitching.

Inside seam finish bias.  

I always admire the work of sewing bloggers who finish the  inside of their garment with couture level techniques.  But I also think they must have a lot of time on their hands.  No day job or kids etc.  I ignored the "just serge the seam raw edges" thoughts going through my head. and followed the instruction to finish the inside seam edges with bias.  Did I feel accomplishment and self satisfaction? Nope, overwhelming boredom and frustration. The fabric I chose for the bias was difficult to work with and extended this "prep" step. I really wanted to get to the construction of the jacket.

 I used a jacquard acetate/rayon lining fabric to finish the edges of the seams and hems.   Argh! This fabric was horrible to work with because it slithered and stretched at will.

The instructions have you finish the raw edge after you sew the seams.  Essentially you are sewing the length of each seam 5 times if you finish the raw edge with bias binding as the pattern instructs. I decided to make the double fold bias using the bias maker tool.  The fabric I had chosen stretched out of shape so badly the when  I tried using the bias biding maker, it became too narrow to cover the edge of the fabric. My next strategy was to use the bias binder pressure foot for my sewing machine.

 It allows you to feed an unfolded bias strip into a cone shaped opening that folds the binding around the edge of the fabric while sewing it at the same time.  This foot is difficult to use on the edges of fabric  that have already been seamed.  So I marked the seam lines on the wrong side of my fabric and bound the raw edges with the bias binding before I sewed the seams. The binding adds a bit of width to the edge so the seam lines I marked in the earlier step were essential for accurate seaming.

This jacket is described as very loose fitting.  I made a size Small (8-10). My measurements put me squarely in a Vogue size 16 so in theory I should have made the size L/G(16-18). I have slightly narrower than average shoulders and the shoulder seams of this jacket are designed to fall beyond the shoulder. I felt I would swim in a L/G size. 

There are no finished  garment measurements printed on the pattern pieces, so I measured the  width of the  pattern pieces at the hip area and compared it to my hip measurement  The size S finished garment circumference at the hips was 49”, 8 inches over my hip measurement. Plenty of style ease for a  loose fitting garment. The main jacket  fabric is a tencel twill purchased from Denver Fabrics.  it has a sueded surface and a nice weight and drape.

Now I can start the fun  process of  creating the applique.  but unfortunately  it will  have to wait  until  I get back from this week's business trip. 

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Marfy Make - Blouse 3888

I pre-ordered the spring summer 2016  Marfy pattern catalog back in Jan. and it arrived in my mailbox a couple weeks ago. I have about 7 issues of this catalog, some purchased as far back as 2002  Each issue comes with a couple of  "free" traceable patterns on an insert,  in sizes 42 to 50  ( US equivalent 6-14).   The insert patterns are usually simple tops, blouses and the occasional pants and jackets. While browsing through my latest issue, I realized l have never made one of the 'free' Marfy patterns.

Free Patterns Marfy Spring Summer 2016

 And that became my next sewing project.  I have been seeing lots of black blouses lately, in BurdaSyle, on the Internet fashion sites, and this one caught my eye. Blouse pattern 3888, with a stand collar, shaped lapel,  3/4 sleeves with contrast trim on the cuffs and center front, and armhole princess seams in both the back and front.

Marfy 3888

Near the top of the fabric piles that threaten to topple onto my work space, were a couple of fabrics that were perfect for the blouse. A light weight black, machine washed, silk dupioni, and for the trim a burgundy and black, cross woven, linen metallic. My measurements matched Marfy size 48 in the bust and a size 50 in the waist and hips. I checked the finished garment measurements and there was plenty of ease in the waist and hips of the size 48, so that is the size I chose. I did check the pattern against my sloper. I had to make the same upper back and shoulder alterations I make on any other commercial pattern. I am 5’ 8” tall which is usually a couple inches taller than pattern companies draft patterns for. When I used the patterns in the Italian Mia Boutique magazine I had to do significant length changes. Surprisingly I did not have to lengthen any of the body or sleeve pieces of this Marfy pattern.

 There are no directions with Marfy patterns. This slows me down because I have to think about and plan for next steps while sewing. I gave a lot of thought to the contrast trim. Cutting off the seam allowance and using bias binding seemed the logical choice until I realized that would be difficult to do neatly on a cuff that had to be seamed to a gathered sleeve bottom with a placket. I also had to figure out the width of the trim I wanted. My original choice of 1/2 inch was to wide for the narrow cuff and the front extension ( distance between center front and front edge). I ended up using a version of the "Mystery Bias Binding" described in Roberta Carr's book  "Couture, The Art of Fine Sewing" and attributed to Chanel. Contrast bias binding is attached to the top layer of cuff and lapel. Bottom cuff and lapel facing is cut from same contrast fabric and when sewn together looks like under cuff/facing wraps around to upper piece. Except I didn't use the contrast fabric for the lapel or cuff facings.
Marfy blouse 3888

Neckline Marfy 3888
Cuff Marfy 3888
 Marfy supplies an upper collar, lower collar and  front facing pattern pieces, but no back facing pattern. So I drafted one myself. I like back facings because they nicely cover the neckline seaming and provide a great place to attach a label.

  I am very happy with the fit of the finished blouse and am considering sewing  some of the other free blouse patterns.

After spending so much time on the blouse, it was fun to whip up a TNT( tried and true) skirt  from Pamela's Pattern The Magic Pencil Skirt  in little over an hour. The fabric is a stretch suiting from Vogue. One side is a tweed, the other is a tweed with blotches of a black shiny substance. I don't know what the black coating is,but I pressed it with the iron on high heat with no change or melting. Cool looking fabric.



Marfy 3888

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Keeping Warm - Wool Tunic Vogue 1456

I spent 3 wonderful days at a sewing retreat a couple weeks ago.  One of my project was Vogue 1456, a Sandra Betzina tunic, semi fitted top with front princess seams, zipper closure and artful draping with hidden pockets at the side hip. There is a vest and a tunic in the pattern. The front of the vest has different draping than the tunic.  For some reason, the line drawing does not include the 4 darts in the tunic lower back hem. 

I am a big Sandra fan , and always attend her workshops or seminars when they are offered locally. I was saddened to learn that she is retiring and will not be traveling after next year.  But given her age 70’s ( which surprised me)  I totally understand. I also hope I look as good, and dress as creatively as she does,  as I get older. 

The fabric used for the tunic on the front the pattern was a wool challis, mentioned by Sandra in a video (link below) , but not listed as a recommended fabric on the pattern envelope.  I just happened to have the same wool challis print in my stash, in two color ways; gray and black and green and black. Vogue Fabrics had the blue and black version for a while, but it is sold out.

My green challis print was a bright Kelly green, a “Yikes!  Not what I expected.”  online fabric purchase (FMF) surprise.   I had never dyed wool fabric before, always concerned that the required hot dye bath and slight agitation would change the texture (felt)  of the wool fabric .  But with this fabric I  had nothing to lose,  so  I simmered the fabric in a pot of  grey blue dye.  It successfully darkened the Kelly green somewhat and did not affect the fabric feel and drape.  The pattern calls for a 24 inch separating zipper.  Because only heavy jacket zippers were available locally, I  had to ordered a  light weight separating zipper from SewTrue
 The tunic was a fun sew, in that there is some unique seaming and the  draping is different and not something I had done before.  The directions are fine, but I did refer to the illustrations a lot.  I also practiced the pleats on the pattern paper before doing it in the fabric.  There is a 2.5 minute preview of the tunic pattern available on Sandra’s Power Sewing site.  And a link to a full length  tunic construction video which is available to watch free for a limited time. Power Sewing Tunic Vogue 1456  She emphasizes interfacing the center front opening  to support the zipper and give tips on how to place the drapes if more room is needed in the hip area. Well worth watching.

Many of the retreat attendees that wandered by to see what I was working on expressed concern on the location of the drapes in the hip area, and that the silhouette would be unflattering.  The informal consensus at the ‘what do you think” modeling session; the semi fitted top nicely offsets the flare below the bust.  Drapey fabric is key to a successful version of this garment. Unless you are slim hipped, then you have the option to use fabric with more body.  The style is a bit too “different “for my casual business work environment, but is perfect  for wearing around the house on a weekend or for a outing with  kindred "creatives". It is fricken cold outside and very windy so unfortunately the photos were taken inside.

Vogue 1456

Vogue 1456 side

Vogue 1456 hidden pocket

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Crossover Cape Collar - McCall's 7243

A quick post on a quick to sew dress.  My husband recently passed  his  30th year anniversary with his current employer, and  one of his coworkers had reached 35 years. So there was a celebration dinner, with spouses, at a local restaurant. I jumped at the opportunity  to sew a dress to wear to the dinner, because I don't have many activities these days where I can wear a dress.   I chose McCall’s 7243, a close fitting pullover style with  what I would describe as a "cape collar".


 My thoughts were that  the collar would bring attention  up to the wearer's face, and create a more hourglass silhouette if the wearer has wider hips (comme moi).   The  fabric  I chose is a stable sweater  knit, in a poly/acrylic blend, purchased at Jo Ann Fabrics.  My like of the fabric color and pattern overruled my aversion to the fact it had acrylic in it.

McCall's 7243 Front

McCall's 7243 Back

 Some of you may notice that my dress's collar overlaps in the opposite direction than the pattern picture. I was cutting out the dress on the kitchen table, between meal times, when my workspace got invaded by hungry humans. The room got very hectic and I lost my concentration, forgetting to place the pattern pieces that needed to be cut out of a single layer fabric (fronts) with the correct side up.  Once I realized I had done that, I had to do the same thing with the collar pattern piece. so that all pieces had the right side of fabric in the mirror image of the pattern.  Also I did a poor job of checking the finished dress length before cutting out the pattern pieces.    I held the front pattern piece up to my body,  looked down and decided to add  an inch to the bottom edge. Yes I know, not the best way to check hem length, looking down combined with bifocals. Next time I will use a mirror. When I did the first try on of the dress, I was dismayed to find I needed about 3 inches more to cover my knees.  I had very little fabric left. Barely enough for a 3 inch wide hem band. So I faced the band with tricot to maximize the width. The seam where I attached the band to the dress looks very much like the topstitched hem, recommended by the pattern directions, would have.

Faced Hem Band

   I will probably wear this dress to work one more time and then cut it off at sweater length.  It will get more wear as a sweater.  I think View B, the sleeveless version would make a really cute summer dress.

McCall's 7243

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Pretty in Pink (Paisley)

I  posted some comments on far away blogs this morning and  and the date/time stamp was already 2016.  Yikes! I had to pull myself away from blog reading and make myself finish my last post of 2015.

My Christmas holiday did not include any gift buying or exchanges or holiday decorating. It was "no stress" bliss! Instead we spent time with family and friends in a beautiful, warm location. We had such a good time in Puerto Rico last year, we went back this year. We found a different house via   VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) in a gated community in  Humacao, on the east coast.

The house had a pool with waterfall, and  met the sleeping requirements for our group of 11, but it had a few idiosyncrasies. We have used VRBO for many of our vacation rentals in the USA and abroad.  All were good experiences.  But it is always interesting to discover what the pictures  do not show. For this rental, one bedroom could only be reached through another bedroom and a bathroom.  Awkward is so many ways. The stairs to the second floor was only slightly better than a ladder.

Stairs from 2nd floor
 The living area was multi level with bright white tiles that it made it very difficult to see the steps.  After a few stumble and tripping episodes, with no alcohol involved, we dug out a roll of  lime green duct tape, and put pieces on the edges of the steps,  barely visible in the lower RH corner of photo above, so they looked similar to this.

 Both Sis and I had neglected to read the description details and confirm there was a dishwasher.  Hence we also discovered that our young adult children are spoiled, poor dishwashers and champion procrastinators. One day I was horrified to  hear my mother's words come out of my mouth.  "Those dishes are not going to wash themselves!"

This house was near a scenic beach and a nature preserve with bike/walking trails and lagoon kayaking. We walked  the Iguana Trail hoping to see some of the big lizards. "Chicken of the trees" as our PR host called them. They are edible.  We didn't see a one.  However as we were walking across the common area of the neighborhood we came upon a couple.

Ereptile Dysfunction

We did touristy things like visiting the Bacardi Rum distillery, sailing and snorkeling on the offshore islands, and exploring beaches along the coast. And I ate my annual quota of mofongo (mashed fried plantains).

I decided to make a new bathing suit for the trip.  If you search the internet for bathing suit styles for women over 40, you are advised to wear a one piece in a solid ‘jewel tone” with strategic peats or ruching to detract from the inevitable bumps and lumps of the mature figure.  Well, I went with part of that advice. My suit is a one piece, but there is not a lot ruching or pleats and it is certainly not a solid jewel tone color.  The swimsuit fabric that called to me from my stash was a pink paisley (fabricmartfabrics).  I have wanted to sew this swimsuit from the June 1997 Burda World of Fashion magazine for a long time.

Burda 6 1997  Swimsuit 128
What I liked about the Burda pattern was the interesting front seaming which formed a keyhole opening in the center front.  However after I traced the pattern and read the directions, the “wadder” sensor started tingling.  Fit issues -   minimal coverage in the crotch area front and back and no center back seam to assist in shaping fabric to the lower back and derriere.
 Construction issues:  Though the instructions were the illustrated sewing course for this issue, the methods and instructions were not complete or up to date. The lower back ended in a sharp "V" which was to be faced.  Definitely a potential weak spot. The only elastic used was 1/4 “elastic on the leg openings. None on the front/back neck opening or armholes.  And no elastic cut length measurement were given for the leg opening, just one written  line about using .8 cm  of elastic for every 10 cm of fabric.   

IMHO, successful  one piece swimsuits have 3/8" elastic around every open edge, armholes, leg openings and neck/ shoulder area.   If the pattern instructions do not include elastic cut lengths, I use the guidelines from Singer  Sewing Activewear book.

Elastic Cut Guidelines for Swimsuits
My suit ended up being a combo of two patterns.  The front is from Burda June 1997, swimsuit 128. But the  back is from  OOP Kwik Sew 3064, which has the center back seam U shaped lower back and the butt coverage I prefer. 

One measurement I always check on one piece swimsuit patterns is the torso measurement.

To measure my torso measurement,  I run a tape measure down the back from where the shoulder meets the neck, through the legs and back up the front. (In other words, make a loop).

Measure torso

To determine length adjustments needed for pattern.

Method 1 - If pattern include a torso measurement.

 I have only seen this measurement published in  Stretch and Sew (where it is called overall body measurement) and Jalie patterns. Jalie has a very good Tutorial-sizing

Method 2 - If pattern does not include a torso measurement. 

Divide my torso measurement in half.

Measure either the front or back pattern piece from shoulder to crotch taking into account the seam allowances.

measuring the torso length of the swimsuit pattern

Compare the difference between body measurement and pattern measurement. If body measurement is larger that pattern, the difference is the amount that will needed to be added to both the front and back pattern pieces.  If body measurement is less than pattern measurement,. the difference is the amount that will need to be removed from both the front and back pattern pieces. 

Example: My torso measurement is 62" ( back and front combined).  I divide by 1/2 because I only plan on measuring the front pattern piece. Half of 62" is 31" The Burda pattern front was 30". On the pattern pieces there are length adjustment lines, above and below the waist, where you can remove length (by folding the lower line to the upper), or adding length by slashing the pattern and adding more paper.

I added 1/2" at the upper and lower adjustment lines on both the back and front pattern pieces.  Note that is 2" total when considering the  torso measurement which includes back and front combined.

I also added extra S/A at the shoulder seams in case I needed extra length in the upper back (an alteration I always make for tops and jackets). And I always do a try on of the suit before sewing the shoulder seams and adding the elastic as recommended below.
 The suit is fully lined. The elastic was applied using a zig zag stitch, and top stitching was done with an overlocker.   I am really pleased with how well it fits.
Burda Swimsuit Front

Kwik Sew 3064 back
The champagne is chilling  in preparation for the countdown to the new year.  This year we have a jar of Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup to add to our champagne. The champagne bubbles cause the flower blossom to unfurl and it is so pretty. And you can eat the flower too.
Wishing everyone a wonderful new year!