Sunday, August 24, 2008

Mrs Stylebook - Pleated Neckline Jacket

I am still having fun with MRS Stylebook. My latest creation is a short cropped jacket with "V" shaped yokes in back and front, neckline pleats held in place with beads, and pleated cap sleeves. That is my description because I can’t read Japanese. Issue 145, page 25. This is the third garment I have made using the same sloper as the base for drafting the pattern. In answer to a question Anna asked. "If I understand it, one could use an already personalized sloper, modifying it with the drafting measurements from the magazine. What do you think? My answer is Yes, but to get the same look and fit as the pictures in the magazine, you will need a sloper similar in fit and style to the MRS Stylebook sloper. In this case I am using the undarted sloper that has 10 cm (4 in.) of ease at the bust line. The sloper can be drafted from a drawing in the magazine, which is what I did, or you can print one to compare to a sloper you already have from the download provided by TwistedAngel. MRS Stylebook Sloper Download

I liked the bead detail at the neck line of this jacket. It looked comfortable and cool with just enough coverage to look professional worn over a sleeveless top, on a hot humid summer day. I went with a shorter length, 18 "center back length, to get a 1/3 top to 2/3 bottom ratio in a outfit, where the jacket is 1/3. I was a little concerned about the cap sleeves on 50+ year old arms. I chose to ignore the voices in my head because the cap sleeves add a horizontal element at the top of my body, where I need it.
The fabric is a tightly woven, light weight, shirting material, probably a blend, from a Fabric Mart Fabrics free bundle. The changes made to the basic sloper to draft the pattern include scoop out the neckline. Adding V shaped yokes in both front and back, with bust dart/shaping incorporated into the front yoke seam. Drawing slash lines from the yoke bottom edge to the neck line, and opening the top at the neck line to add extra fabric which will become tucks between the beads. Caps sleeves were drafted using the partial armhole dimensions, so that the sleeve front edge matches the yoke seam at the armhole.

I lined the jacket. This made it easier to finish the sleeve and armholes. The sleeves are lined to the edge and then inserted into the top of the armhole openings. The body lining hangs freely. It is not attached at the hem. This allowed me to easily sew the lining to the sleeve hole opening by machine, cleanly finishing the bottom armhole. For the beading at the neckline, I had hoped to use the eyelet button hole stitch on my machine to make small finished holes through which I could thread the cord for the beads. I thought this would make it easy of switch out the beads for different looks. Here is a sample of gold beads with black cording.
But no matter what I did with stabilizer, stitch width, etc., the eyelet stitch would not end where it started, on either my Designer 1 or my trusty Viking 1100 backup machine. So I went to Plan B, which was to use a large sharp needle and lots of tugging to thread the hemp cord through the pleats of the fabric. I bought both the bone beads and the cord at Walmart. They are permanent.

Here are other examples of bead/pleats embellishment on RTW garments. One is a print tank top by D Collection with beads of alternating colors. The latest issue of SewStylish magazine had an article on Snoop Shopping and had a blouse with pleated bands with beads. I think the bead/pleats could also be used for re-purposing or altering RTW clothing that is too big at neckline edges, sleeve edges, waists on dresses; anywhere you want to take in fabric.

I am so encouraged by my pattern drafting success that I have decided to try drafting a pants pattern using the MRS Stylebook instructions. Last night I took my own hip, waist, crotch depth measurements with the help of a mirror. I made some interesting observations. 1. My waist is rising. I had noticed the length of my tops from front neck to waist has gotten shorter in recent years, but assumed it was because of back curvature. My fat reserves are at my waist and are in a tube shape. If I lost them my waist/natural indentation would be lower. Back near the top of my hip. (Chanting to self. "Sew for the body you have now, not the one you wish you had!") 2. My front waist to crotch measurement is the same as my back waist to crotch. That doesn’t surprise me, as I have no butt. So it will be interesting to see what my crotch curve looks like.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Stash Augmentation

We were kid free this weekend. One at church camp, the other at the "rivah" house, as they say around here, of a friend. DH suggested a road trip to some of the small towns on Virginia’s Northern Neck, a peninsula nestled between the Potomac and the Rappahannock Rivers and spilling into the Chesapeake Bay. We drove up to the town of Tappahannock, which is on the Rappahannock River. I love saying those names! We had a nice lunch and wandered through several antique stores. I found a couple of sewing related items in one of the stores. A 1965 McCalls pattern for a interesting top. It has a U shaped yoke that extends into cap sleeves.The pattern description reads "Blouse with a bias front yoke and front draped neckline, is lightly fitted by a French dart in front and vertical back darts, has a center back zipper." For $1.00 I couldn’t pass it up. I also bought a copy of Singer Sewing Skills reference book published in 1955.
It has instructions and lesson plans designed to familiarize the reader with the sewing machine and all the attachments. Though the book was published several years before I was born, the machine pictured in it looked just the like black Singer sewing machine I was allowed to use as a kid. All metal parts and indestructable. I recognized all the attachments: tucker, edgesticher, multi-slotted binder, narrow hemmer (now called a rolled hem foot, adjustable hemmer, and ruffler. There were even lessons in bobbin work and free motion sewing. The book was $5.00. Trolling around I came across the same book offered for $30.00, but it included precut fabric pieces that supposedly went with the actual lessons. Etsy Listing . The other book I purchased was a 1959 version of The Bishop Method of Clothing Construction. I haven’t had a chance to take a good look at it yet, but there was a section on tailoring a coat that caught my eye.

We also visited George Washington’s birthplace, a beautiful location on a creek with a view of the bay. After reading all the plaques and watching a movie, I realized the first president of the USA came from a very wealthy, well to do family, he married a wealthy woman and a large part of his career, before becoming president, was in the military. Very similar to one of the current presidential candidates. And this is where my comments on politics stop. Just an observation, nothing implied.

On Sunday while DH was on his weekly visit with his mom, taking care of her finances, prescriptions, and shopping needs, etc. I headed out to run errands. We have two Hancock Fabric stores in this town. One is being remodeled, and a big mess according to a friend. After debating about it for three weeks, I had decided to return to the store and if it was still available, allow myself to buy an oriental print, silk burnout fabric I had seen and absolutely loved. Loved except for the price of $32.00/yard. Some stores carry quality silk worth that price, Hancock's does not. I was hoping it would still be available and on sale. There was no sale sign posted over the silk, but when the bolt was scanned, the price per yard that came back from the corporate computer was discounted to $13.32. Still no bargain, but a price I could work with. Many other fabrics were on sale at 50%. Simplicity patterns were $1.00. Long story short, I did some serious stash augmentation. For each piece of fabric I bought, I had a specific pattern or garment in mind. Then on the way home I stopped at Walmart to see if I could find more of a specific denim I had purchased at another Wal-Mart in another state. It was a medium weight, gray cotton denim with lycra. Last winter I tried to find a nice pair of gray RTW jeans, but had no luck. Though I don’t usually sew jeans, when I saw this denim it was the right weight and color and price. I couldn’t pass it up. This store had the same fabric, again a small amount of yardage left on the bolt. Between the two pieces I now have enough to make a pair of jeans. Sometimes Walmart has some really weird fabric on their sale table. There was this dark red, sueded fabric with a black knit backing. It was soft, but not stretchy. On a whim, I asked the clerk if I could have a little of her bottled water. I put a couple drops in the palm of my hand and dropped it on the fabric. The water rolled right off the fabric and onto the table, every drop, none soaked in. My current raincoat is 15 years old and desperately needs to be replaced. The stores are full of cute trench style coats, but most aren’t waterproof, or even water-resistant. It has to be raining for me to wear a trench coat. I am not enough of a fashionista to wear one just for the style. I bought 5 yard of this 60" wide stuff, at $1.00/yd, to make a raincoat.
The guilt hit over the fabric purchases hit when I got home. I don’t need any more fabric, no matter how much of a bargain it is. With a large house and good cash flow, space and $ aren’t limitations. My limitation is sewing time, but it is in the future, not the present. I have yet to find a fool proof way to summon the willpower/motivation not to buy fabric. Stash augmentation - sounds like staff augmentation. But staff augmentation is when you add extra workers to meet an increased workload or demand. Stash augmentation is when you buy more fabric for your stash and add to your future workload. Maybe if I wrote this on a card and carried it around in my wallet………

In the mean time, I am finishing up a BWOF jacket and starting on another MRS stylebook jacket.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Mrs Stylebook - Lands' End Jacket

Gosh, this summer is flying by. We just got back from our annual beach vacation at the Delaware shore. It was lovely, but this week it is back to work. Right before I left, I completed my second project from the Japanese pattern magazine MRS. Stylebook (MSB). A jacket from Issue 150, pattern 179. It is a fairly simple style, no collar, no front fastenings, princess seaming with a side panel, and ¾ length gathered sleeve. It was drafted from the same unfitted (undarted) sloper as the blouse shown in my last post. The challenge in drafting this pattern was adding double pointed darts to the front and back, and creating a side panel using the darts as the edges.
Some of the international pattern magazines contain patterns for copies of designer garments. About every pattern in Patrones is attributed to a hip European designer. What tickles me about the jacket pattern I chose from MSB is that it is one of the few with a "designer" label, and it is Lands’ End! You can see the label in the photograph of the jacket. (The blotchiness of the photo is because my scanner had problems with the shiny page and dark color of the jacket). For those readers who might not know, Lands' End is a USA based Internet and catalog retailer known for it basic, conservative styles, very good quality and excellent customer service. Not what I would call a "designer". The jacket style was simple, but current. And nothing like any jackets I had seen in Lands' End US catalog or web site. On a whim I googled "Lands’ End Japan" and found this information.

The catalog and online retailer of classic American casual wear has flourished in Japan. The key to the company's success has been a thorough localization of its website, products and services while keeping with the company's breezy and accessible identity.
Lands' End established a wholly-owned subsidiary in 1993, beginning its local catalog sales with only five or six people. After its website content was carefully structured to fit the Japanese consumer, the company launched its online shopping venue in 1999. In addition to localizing the website, Lands' End tailored its clothing to fit Japanese body shapes and offered more styles that satisfy local preferences for a more refined look. Its call centers practices were also changed to adhere to local conversational formalities as hours were extended to accommodate later shopping hours.

The jacket was not shown on the Lands’ End Japanese web site either. However, I spent some time browsing the web site, translated to English, and copied Japanese characters for different sewing related words, like "pleats" and "linen", to add to a list I use when trying to translate MRS Stylebook.
The jacket is made out of a dark red, coarsely woven, burlap type material in a mystery blend. It has been in my stash since the 80’s. I shortened the jacket 2 inches to high hip, and lined the body, since the fabric was so ravely and slightly see through. I did not line the sleeves. I did have to make my normal alterations for jackets made from US patterns. I added back shoulder darts and length to center back for curved upper back and prominent shoulder blades. Then because I was so inspired by recent mini wardrobes done by Robin Robin's Capsule and Sheila Sheila's Capsule, I pulled some other fabric out of my stash and made a few coordinating tops. A tank top in a red/cream silk knit print from Simplicity 4192
and a top from brown cotton with red and gold embroidery using Butterick 4549.

I wear the brown top with brown slacks. Both the brown and cream slacks were sewn last year.
I actually read sewing books on the beach during my vacation and did some sewing, which I'll tell you about in my next post.