Sunday, December 4, 2016

Zip-a-dee-doo-dah - Burda 6637 Jacket

The weather has finally  cooled down and I actually feel like sewing winter clothes.  A recent  impulse fabric buy was a beautiful pink, purple, grey ombre brushed wool from  When an  online fabric vendor implements PayPay, as Emma One Sock did recently,  it become dangerous for me. Pay Pal eliminates the need for me to enter credit card info, which is when I ask myself, Do I really need this? (For fabric the answer is always No! ) Shortly after the fabric arrived, I saw this picture in my inspiration file.

And I just happened to have Burda Jacket pattern 6637 and some coordinating separating zippers in my stash.

The pattern description reads “ Both jackets have a slightly higher waist and easily lend a chic touch to any outfit. Although your favorite knit cardigan is great for a casual look, some occasions may call for a bit more elegance. Choose the jacket which suits your style and best flatters your figure.”

The inspiration jacket has a deep V  to the waist and a cutaway starting at the waist and  extending to the hem. The Burda pattern has a shorter V neck. I felt that the pattern was better for a convertible jacket, especially the cropped version because it would have small section of vertical front edge to use hooks and eyes to hold closed if desired.

Design Decisions I had to make.

1. Waist Seam Zipper – trim or functional – I decided to go with  a functional zipper so that bottom of the jacket could  removed.

2.  Zipper tape exposed or not – This decision determined the method of zipper application/ insertion and whether waistline seam allowance was needed. Exposed – could cut off seam allowance.  Non exposed, seam allowance needed  as zipper is inserted between lining and outer fabric.

3. Lining   -  Pattern is for unlined jacket.  I would have to draft a lining pattern.  The decision was Yes, a lining was definitely needed because the back of the wool flannel would catch on any garments worn underneath.

Additional changes for my body  - lengthening the back and shortening the front to get a horizontal waistline. Getting old is hell! Alterations for square, forward, narrow shoulders. This pattern has very wide shoulders. I removed about 1/2 inch in width.  I should have removed more. There is some extra fabric between the front armhole and the bust that bugs me.  It shows on the models on the pattern front too.

The fabric had two repeats of the ombre coloring just the right length to make it easy to cut and  match the colors across the jacket.

I ended up lining both the top and peplum to the edge of the waist seam even though I sewed the zipper tape to the outside of the fabric.  I reasoned that if I ever got tired of the zipper, I could remove it and sew the seam as designed.

I used two separating zippers. The separating ends were butted up to each other at center back.  Each zipper closed as it went from back to front.  In the front where the zipper extended past the front edge, I removed about 4 teeth on each side with wire cutter pliers.   I  removed the metal stops at the end of the zipper with the pliers and relocated them to the tape where the teeth ended at center front. I cut off the excess zipper tape at the end of the section where I removed the teeth, and turned it under.
Zipper Modifications

Zipper Modification Tools
I hand basted the closed zipper to the jacket top and peplum, making sure center back, side seams and darts lined up vertically. I top stitched the zipper in place near the zipper teeth and again near the outer edge of the zipper tape.

Back Zipper

Front Zipper

Photographing  sewn garments is  difficult in the winter. It is dark when I leave for work and dark when I get home, so weekends are the best time for outdoor photography.  But my idea of an ideal  winter weekend  is one where I do not have to leave the house. Comfortable clothes, no makeup, sewing, reading etc. I swear I have a hibernation mode. The only reason there are photos of the jacket on me is that DH, DS2 and I had to go to a nearby drugstore and get our Hepatitis A and Typhoid immunizations for an upcoming trip.   If I was going to get dressed for shots, it might as well be in my new jacket.


Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween Post

I am so proud of myself. I  sewed an ensemble, a complete outfit.  It included a statement jacket with trim details like this Givenchy jacket currently available at Pert-A-Porter,  a top with

the gathers and  ruffles that are so on trend, and a pair of loose fitting cropped pants.  Unfortunate it is not for me, but for a client that want to look like this for an event.

Yes, my client wanted a Captain Morgan costume.  Captain Morgan being a brand of rum that features a rather dandified “pirate” on the label. But I did find similar coats on historic figures of the early 18th century
Wardrobe of Peter I Russia
Admiral Edward Russell (1652–1727),
I used Simplicity pattern  4923 , a still available, still very popular pattern for costumes and historical garments.

The jacket is knee length with gores inserted at side and center back.  The sleeves are shaped, and have gigantic cuffs.

Captain Morgan Jacket

Captain Morgan Jacket side

Captain Morgan Jacket trim detail
The fabric I used was poly cotton (JoAnn’s).  The  pattern called for 6 yards of 45" wide fabric. I used  5 yards with the only compromise being that  pocket flap and cuff linings were cut  on the lengthwise grain.  The trim is gold, medium weight linen/rayon strips with finished width = 1”.   For trim used on front button area, the fabric was cut on straight of grain.  The trim for all edges where there was curvature,  hem, neckline and hat brim, was bias cut.  I used the bias maker for the straight grain strips too, in order to speed up turning under the  seam allowances. Needless to say, my 1 inch bias maker and edge stitch foot got a workout on this project. 22 large buttons were needed for the version of the  coat I made. Big buttons are expensive and any store in my area only has a couple cards of the same style. My solution: I found a large bag of cheap white plastic buttons. There were 25 buttons of the same size, but not the same face design. Disregarding that, I strung them all on a  piece of cotton twine between two deck chairs,  spray painted them all gold, let them dry and sewed them on. 

Spray Painted Buttons

The shirt was very loose fitting with gathers everywhere, neck edge,  and on the sleeves at both shoulder and cuffs.  The fabric for shirt was a 100% cotton twin size sheet.  I purchase white cotton sheets, when they are on sale,  for muslin, costumes and curtain linings.   My client could not tie the collar closed on his 16” neck so he wore the shirt open. However the front slit is 14” deep which revealed a bit too much hairy man chest, so I tacked the slit closed for bottom 6”. The client could still pull shirt on over his head.

Shirt Simplicity 4923

The pants or breeches are calf length with authentic bagginess in the front and back crotch area, and buttons on lower side seams.  The front closure is a flap that buttons to front waist band.  Fabric used was a navy medium weight rayon/linen.

Captain Morgan also has a hat. Not a plain black pirate  No, his is red with gold trim. A bit to matchy, matchy for my taste, but my client wanted it.  Researching "make your own  pirate hat" on the internet, I found  the easiest ones  started with  a woman's brimmed  hat. You cover them with felt or leather look material, and turn up and tacking the brim to the crown in three equal sections.  I found the hat below in the sale bin at JoAnn's.

I attempted to spray paint the hat red, starting with the upper brim and crown. It looked like a spray-painted straw hat. Time was running out, so in the end we settled for a black brim with gold trim.

Captain Morgan Pirate Hat

Boot covers were planned, but  there was no time for them either so Captain Morgan wore tall leather work boots. My client was very happy. He got lots of compliments and requests for photo's.

Captain Morgan and swashbuckling sidekick

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Flamboyance of Flamingos

While waiting for the weather to cool and inspire me to sew some of  the patterned boiled wool  that jumped into my stash recently, I sewed a blouse.    I chose a pattern with a asymmetrical front band.

 I have always wanted to make this Burda pattern from June 2007, style 111 and why not in a bright pink cotton fabric printed with white flamingos.  Are there white flamingos I wondered? Yes.  The feather color of flamingos is dependent on pigments from the algae and crustaceans they eat. And the lack of pigmented food during feather-growth results in white or very pale feathers.  Flamingos  lose color in captivity if they were not fed Flamen Oil or some other dietary beta-carotene color additive. Hmm. I  guess you could say the  flamingos on my fabric are "in captivity".

Burda 6 2007 111

The asymmetrical  bands are easy to apply. They are sewn to the wrong side of the fabric and turned  to the front.  A couple thing to watch out for on the bands. You will need to make a separate pattern piece for each both the left and right band from the front pattern pieces. The bands are asymmetrical and shaped differently at the neckline. Yes, I tried the shortcut method it and it doesn’t work.   Watch the grain line of the band. I didn’t, putting the long straight side of the bands on the straight of grain. This was probably a benefit when sewing the bands to the bias cut edge of the left and right fronts but it means the flamingos on the front band lean a bit .  Only a close sewing friend would notice this.

I have been pursuing other creative  endeavors lately.   A 6 week Natural Dyeing of Yarn and Clothing class at the local art cooperative  has been especially fun.   For the  dye, I have been collecting plant materials from my yard and other nearby sources. Color is extracted by simmering the plant material in water for an hour, removing the material from the liquid   and using the liquid to  dye wool and silk fabrics. Black walnut husks from my own back yard created a rich brown. Mushrooms collected in the heavily mulched beds under the trees at work  yielded golden and dark browns. A coworker asked me if I was gathering my dinner.  Golden Rod flowers collected under the right of way of the power lines dyed the fabric a beautiful golden yellow.

 Tobacco leaves yielded a pale olive green color and Harlequin Glory Bower vine flowers (a houseplant that became invasive when planted in the yard) a great verdigris green.  I treated my son and his girlfriend to dinner at a local Mexican restaurant that makes table side guacamole, so I could ask for all the trashed avocados seeds (dyes fabric pink). All of these dyes work especially well on protein fibers like wool and silk, not as well on cotton.  Other class members had to scour the 2nd hand shops or order online for their wools and silk.  The local JoAnn's certainly didn't have any.  I wandered down to my stash cave and pulled out yards and yards of off white wools and silks. I knew there was a good reason I bought them long ago. Stash to the Rescue!

Hopefully I will have enough dyed  fabric to create a garment of some kind by the time class is finished.  What can I do with this new  knowledge? Well, perhaps I can dye and sew authentic historical reenactment garments when I retire. DH and I are currently doing some financial and lifestyle planning for our upcoming retirement. I will probably  become "that crazy old lady" who does odd stuff! You have been warned!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Knit Knack

A lot of sewing has happen since the last time I posted.  I will start with the most recent activities since they are fresh in my mind. This past Saturday I gave a presentation “Using self-fabric to embellish knit garments” for my local ASG group.

  Awkward and unexciting name, but I couldn’t come up with a better one. Every year I volunteer to do a program presentation and I choose a topic that is something I want to learn about or explore, but that will appeal to the whole  group.  This is not always an easy task. The small ASG group I attend is called Fashion Focus, but of the 30 attendees maybe 6 regularly sew garments. A program on some  topics I would like to study, such as  armhole drafting, would probably not be well attended.  So where did my topic come from?  I was on Pinterest one day and saw a picture of a unique textured fabric.

I followed the link back to the picture source and found a post with lots of different knit embellishment techniques. The info was on one of the Russian internet blog sites. The text was in Russian but I was so interested I took the time to translate it with Google. The title  translated as Decorating Knitwear,  by Irinka Prosto. Thanks for sharing Irinka!

The techniques shown used strips, circles or random shape to add decorative trim and textures to knit wear. The techniques utilize some of the unique characteristics of knit fabrics,  non raveling, soft texture, and for some knits the tendency to roll up on cut edges. These embellishment applications are especially effective when the fabric for the trim is the same fabric as the garment. I showed  many examples of RTW  garments embellished in this way.



For my presentation samples I used T shirts. I bought two of the same T shirt on sale. I used one as the garment to be trimmed, and the other as the source of matching fabric for the trim.  Here are some samples I made using strips for embellishment.

Gathered strip trim
 The ruffle at bottom of the T shirt is made from a 2 inch strips attached by machine to the  bottom edge of  the T shirt. For the front embellishment I drew curves on the T shirt using a wash away marker.  I sewed down the middle of ½" wide strips following the guidelines, pushing pleats randomly under the pressure foot with a stylus. I added coordinating beads for more texture.

 The 2nd T shirt sample was embellished with strips that curled in on the sides and resembled cording. I drew guidelines on the garment where I wanted to apply the trim. I pushed the curled sides apart and stitched  each strip down the middle following the guidelines.


 The third sample was a T shirt trimmed in fabric flowers made from, you guessed it, strips and circles of fabric. I picked my favorite fabric flowers from the  wide variety found on the internet, made samples and shared them with the attendees.


 There are so many kinds of flowers you can make.  I was inspired by posts showing similar flower embellished garments by  Jane and  Sherril    The flower embellishment appealed to my audience. In fact there were requests for me to teach an ASG member mini class in flower making.  We will see. I still work full time, and I do not have a good ‘teacher temperament”. I was told “No, you cannot choose which students can attend the class.”  The  mini classes, being very inexpensive, can attract attendees that want a morning out for the social aspect, rather than the learning opportunity.

The top I wore while presenting the program was a knit and the embellishment was from self-fabric, however the application was a bit off topic for my presentation. I traced a favorite RTW top to get the front and back shapes.  The fabric was a rayon lycra stripe knit.  I cut circles out of the front in various sizes.  I cut corresponding circles from scrap fabric. I sewed the circle shapes into the holes  in the front using a 1/4 inch seam allowance, rotating the stripes slightly to create some visual interest.

And those circles break up the stripes in the tummy area. 

Then as an example of where you can really go with  knits and embellishment, I showed the group my recently completed Alabama Chanin corset top made from the instructions and pattern in the Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns book.

Gardening is such hard work1
Right now I am taking a break from sewing knits, waiting for the weather to cool and inspire me to sew wools and silks for fall.