Sunday, February 8, 2015

Cranking them out!

Another post within a week and a couple more things to show. I am really cranking them out! I  was working on a jacket before the late Jan sewing retreat. The jacket fabric is a color I do not have in my wardrobe, so I shopped my swap for fabrics to make coordinates.  When I went to the retreat, I didn't feel like packing all the  parts of the jacket, so I  ended up completing the coordinates first.  Here they are,  both made from older Burda Magazine patterns.

The silk print for the blouse was so large and irregular that it was hard to decide on a pattern. It was also slightly linear so I thought the pleated waist might provide some visual interest. The pattern is for a stretch woven. My silk had no lycra, but worked just fine with no size adjustments needed. 
Burda 8 2007  117 blouse

 The pants are wide leg with unique seaming.  I really should do a muslin for designs like this. I sewed them up and then had to unsew them to alter the waist . The fabric is a gray  poly rayon lycra, soft and oh so comfortable

Burda 12 2009 115

Side view of Pant

My poor jacket. Can you guess the fabric color?  It has already been preempted by another project. I am presenting the program for next Saturday's ASG meeting. I spent the weekend cranking out samples for the program.   I can't believe I am saying this but I am so tired of sewing right now.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Misusu Shirt

My beloved sewing machine, a old Husqvarna Designer 1, was recently diagnosed as terminally ill  and passed on to spare part heaven. The timing was horrible.  A week before a sewing retreat.   I had planned a number of projects to work on at the retreat.  Learning to use a new sewing machine was not one of them.  Fortunately work bonuses were announced, and mine was enough to finance the latest Designer model.  The first project made on the new machine was a blouse designed by Elles of the blog Misusu & More.   Downton-abbey-inspired-shirt        I found her blog through a Pinterest picture of the shirt. 

Downton Abbey Inspired Shirt  Source:

 Elles was inspired by a blouse worn by the Lady Mary character in the BBC series Downton Abbey. Her pattern didn’t look like anything I remembered Mary wearing.  The double breasted look reminded me more of the chauffer’s uniform. But after a bit of Internet browsing,  I found this picture of Lady Mary. Based on the picture and the version of the blouse Elles made for herself (Check it out on her blog), I‘ll bet this is the inspiration blouse .   

 There are drafting instruction available for sizes S, M, L and XL sizes. I drafted a size medium per the instructions.  They were very clear and complete.  The only changes I made to the pattern after it was drafted were to lengthen the sleeves and the bodice above the bust. 


   An interesting feature of the blouse is the slash-gathered darts at the waistline to add volume over the hip.    According to one of my sources, this technique first became popular in the late thirties and was used extensively in the fabric shortage of the 1940’s.

I can see how it saves fabric. This usually replaces a seam between two pieces of fabric where one piece is gathered.   When a slash replaces a straight seam,  the sewing line resembles a dart.  A dart with one leg longer than the other. The fabric in the longer leg is gathered to fit the shorter leg or side.  While this is a charming vintage sewing technique, I find it can be challenging to sew.   Half of the height/intake of the dart is the seam allowance and in this blouse the height was 1 cm .  I think the slash gathered dart is easiest to sew in light weight, high thread count, non raveling fabrics. The fabric I used, a cotton chambray from Denver Fabrics, was all of these.

 Below are instructions for sewing the Slash Gathered Dart. They are a compilation of instructions from several vintage patterns and  McCall's Easy Sewing Book 1960 (Thanks Urs !)

Slash Gathered Dart
1. Mark the seam line, and the length to be gathered. Reinforce the point of the seam line using smaller length stitching- suggested 14 stitches/inch. Fig.

Slash Gathered Dart Fig 1

2. Sew line of gathering stitches on edge to be gathered.  Note: some instructions say to 1. Slash dart before sewing gathering stitches and 2. Sew gathering stitches above seam line but below the slash line. Because there would have been so little fabric above the seam line after slashing on my shirt .5 cm.,  I did not slash until step 3.  And I sewed the gathering stitches close to, but just below the seam line. I removed the gathering stitches after final sewing. I knew, with the fabric I was using, there was little possibility of marks or holes after I removed the gathering stitches.
3. Slash to within ¼” of point. Fig. 2    Note – if gathering line is above the stitching line, take care not to cut through the gathering stitches when slashing.

Slash Gathered Dart Fig 2
4. Pull gathering stitches to gather fabric evenly to fit other edge of dart
5. Pin right sides together and stitch as for standard dart. Fig. 3
Slash Gathered Dart Fig 3
6. Press seam away from gathers.
7.  To control gathers and prevent raveling.
  • Topstitch on right side of fabric. Fig. 4
  •  or ZigZag or hand overcast seam allowance. Fig 5
Slash Gathered Dart Fig 4

Slash Gathered Dart Fig 5

Though this blouse has a rather A line look on me, I really like it and will wear it over jeans or under a jacket.  If I make it again, I will reduce the waist gathers or distribute them more to the front. So it looks  more like the front view on the dress form.



Thursday, December 25, 2014

Feliz Navidad!

Feliz Navidad is the holiday greeting used here in Puerto Rico,  where my  family and my sister's family are for our holidays. 

The latest garment out of my sewing room was one  for the trip.  Yes, it is a two piece bathing suit. Yes, it is for me, Yes, my age is closer to 60 than 50. A two piece? yes! Why? Because I can.  Because I am not dead yet!

The fabric is a snakeskin print swimwear fabric from   Quality, adult themed printed swimwear is one of the hardest fabrics to find, even from online vendors.  When I saw this, I hit the Buy Now button even though shipping from the west coast is not cheap. The top is  Butterick pattern 6578, a OOP pattern from 2000. It has halter straps extending into princess seaming on the cup.

  The pattern had pieces for A/B cups and C/D/ cups.    The suit is lined with a skin colored knit swim suit lining. I used the zigzag stitch on my sewing machine to apply the elastic to the inside of the suit edges so I would have control over the stretch of the elastic in key areas of the suit  that have to be snug fitting.  I used my  cover stitch machine for the final finish, turning the elasticized edge to the inside and top stitching with the coverstitch . It was the first time I had used coverstitch for this purpose.  I was impressed by how quick and easy it was .

 The suit bottom is copied from a RTW bottom that fits me well.  I have sewn exercise and swim wear for over 30 years.  I have the same problems with swimwear bottoms that I have with slacks.  Typical pattern drafts  assume that someone with my hip measurement has a booty. Nope, my caboose is wide and flat.   The patterns have too much fabric in the center back and not enough width to cover the assets. When I found this RTW bottom at an end of summer sale, I was delighted and have made a pattern from it.

How did we come to be in Puerto Rico?

My niece’s boyfriend S. is from PR and he suggested we visit and he offered to show us around.  We jumped at the opportunity.  We  rented a lovely modern house  in the town of  Luquilla through the website VRBO (vacation rental by owner).

   Puerto Rico is a US territory.  I won't go into the difference between state and territory, but what it means is Caribbean island passport required. While the cars and road infrastructure are very American, the language is definitely Spanish, and there is a district culture.  We did all the touristy things, like visiting Old San Juan,  and hiking through El Yunque tropical rain forest.

San Juan

Waterfall - El Yunque Rainforest
We took the ferry over to the island of Calebra for a day trip. It has beautiful beaches and snorkeling. It made me angry to read that  the US Army used the island for target practice military exercises until 1975.  As a result there are abandoned tanks scattered about the island which the locals have painted in interesting designs, prettying up the eyesores.

Tank on  Calebra
 In the central part of the island, the cousins zip lined from mountain top to mountain top, 680 ft over the trees . Sis and I watched, taking pictures with the 300x lens of her camera and still only catching small dots moving across the spaces between landing spaces.
Ready for Zip Lining

The guys went deep sea fishing, and caught mahi-mahi, which made a tasty dinner.  Though anyone who has paid for a fishing charter trip, knows that is the most expensive fish they will ever eat.  We also ate at the local barbecue places like Bebo's below,  waiting in long lines for roasted ribs and chicken, rice and (crowder) peas, yucca with onions, and  blood sausage.

 Every morning we visit a local  neighborhood bakery for fresh pastries.   S's family really made us feel welcome. His mother cooked special snacks for us. We ate at his cousin's restaurant, visited his brother at work in Old San Juan, where his boss insisted on giving us free drinks. And yesterday, S’s extended family invited us to their  Christmas Eve party. It was held in a residential neighborhood at the home of his great uncle.

 The meal featured  lechon asados,  roasted suckling pig.

 Some of my family made the trip to the pig farm  the day before to pick out our dinner.  I did not. The party was wonderful, everyone was very friendly despite the language barrier (I speak some French, DS1 is studying Italian, but  no Spanish). There was lots of food, drinks, loud music and lively dancing by people of all ages. It was a lot of fun.

We are already talking about coming back to this lovely island, with its friendly people, and lots to see and do.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

UFO no mo'

I am so proud of myself. I sewed up two UFO’s.

 A pair of pants that I had pre cut and planned to  sew during a sewing retreat this past Jan.   The arrival of the sign up sheet for the 2015 retreat guilted me into finishing  them.  The fabric is off white wool, the pattern a copy of a favorite pair of RTW.  I added hidden pockets in the seam of the waist yoke.

  Pockets just big enough for a few dollars or a charge card. Located in the hollow between my tummy and hip.  That got  me thinking about pockets in women's' pants.  Locating a pocket can be problematic, what with all those curves in the waist to hip area.  Where to find a place for multiple layers of fabric to lay flat.  Not many places on my body.     As I hung the finished pants on the sewing room doorknob, the staging place for garments on their way to my closet, my eye fell on a partially finished jacket I made at the same retreat, using the pattern from  Burda 2/2013 jacket 107

The fabric is a cotton poly jacquard geometric strip.  Just a note: I have decided if the fabric I have used for the garments I blog about was not purchased from Fabric Mart Fabric, I will tell you. Otherwise just assume that is where it was purchased. The jacket pattern has a wide V neck,  and the side  panel  extends from side front to side back.  No side seam.  One less seam to match the stripe on. I took a tuck in the front so that the center front met but did not overlap.


 I hadn’t been able to find the perfect trim for the jacket yet, but there was a 2nd choice trim pinned in place since Jan.  At the rate I was going on finding the perfect trim, I thought I might as well wear the jacket with trim #2 til then.  In 45 minutes the trim was hand tacked in place and the jacket was ready to wear.   Why didn’t I do that sooner???

Close up of Trim

Burda Jacket 2/2013 107


And I finished a basic shirt,  New Look 6266, with  front and back yokes and  side bust darts.

 The fabric, a brown cream animal print, was from a free fabric bundle. A poly rayon challis blend by the feel of it.  The blouse fits well, but the extra fabric in the waist area reminded me of why I prefer blouse patterns with waist fitting, using either darts or princess seams.

New Look 6466 Blouse


But a jacket  hides the extra fabric at the waist.


Since I had a mini coordinated wardrobe going, I went stash diving  and found some other  fabrics that could be used to continue the color scheme. More to come

Friday, November 7, 2014

Autumn Activities

This post has been in draft mode for almost two weeks waiting for better pictures, links to instructional info and more witty prose. Those are never going to happen so here it is, short and sweet.

This time of year my husband would have us road tripping about the countryside every weekend. I convinced him to do one day trips so I could have the other day for sewing. And he would have a day for his "honey do" list. I warned him if I didn't sew, I would be grouchy and compensate by buying more fabric. He knows that is not an idle threat.

This past weekend we visited the Shenandoah National Park and hiked the same trail we did 35 years ago on our honeymoon. The weather and autumn leaf color were great, but the trails and roads in the park were packed with people. I guess everyone had the same idea for a weekend outing. On the way home, we stopped at an orchard and bought a variety of apples. Virginia has an apple growing region. When I was a kid and our family vacations took us through Virginia during apple harvest time, we always stopped at an apple orchard where my mom would buy a couple bushels to take home. The problem was the only place for the apples, in our overcrowded car, was on the floor in front of the back seat; where my brother, sister and I sat.. The last four hours of the trip home were spent trying to find a place to rest our feet comfortably among the baskets of apples, and  whining and complaining loudly. We were allowed to eat as many apples as we wanted, probably to keep us quiet.  The memory of the taste of those just picked apples is one of the reasons I can always be talked into a trip to an orchard.

Thorton Valley Orchard, Sperryville, VA

 My latest makes are a blouse, Vogue  pattern 1412,  in an animal print silk spandex, and pants in an irregular pinstripe cotton poly bottom weight. Both fabrics are from Fabric Mart Fabrics.

The blouse is a tunic style with faced V neck, shirttail hem and gathers at the shoulder and back neck. The button closure on this blouse is fake. And while I am always up for unique details, I am not sure all the effort to mark and press the pleats that make this closure were worth it. The back neck gathers meant I did not have to do my normal alteration for the high back curvature. Not that you can see any of these style details in the print fabric I used, but I think they would be very flattering in a solid color fabric. The blouse can be worn out or tucked into pants or skirt under a jacket. The V neckline is fine on me, but I have no cleavage so I  rarely have the issues with low necklines on Vogue and Burda patterns which seem to bother other sewers. To check neckline depth, be sure and fold out the tuck on the pattern and hold pattern to your body. The front pleat's sides overlap, making the lowest point of the V about 1" above the bottom of the finished neckline opening .

The pants were a copy of a favorite pair of RTW pants. The RTW brand is FOCUS which is a rather inexpensive line. I try on many different RTW brands, both inexpensive and high end, to find brands whose pants fit me well. I have found good fit at both ends of the cost spectrum. The original pants were made from a poly rayon crepe type fabric and had none of the excess fabric in the back beneath my butt, where I normally have it. When they got ratty from wear, I took them apart to make a pattern. I found that the front crotch extension was very short and the back crotch extension very long and tapered sharply from the inside leg. From reading drafting books, this draft is used to snug in the back crotch area to the body and is more typical of jeans than slacks. I still had to tweak the copied pattern a bit. My butt is so flat and wide; I shorten the center back seam 5/8 at the top tapered to nothing at the side seam, and remove the back waistline darts. The small amount of shaping I need when going from the widest part of my hip to my waist can be done in the center back seam and side seam darts. I would have never thought to do this, but when I had a professional fitter help me tweaked a pant muslin years ago, she made these changes and explained why they worked for my shape.