Sunday, February 28, 2010

Show and Tell

Update on the over blouse. I took it the Fashion Focus group meeting last week for Show and Tell and got teased quite a bit about making my own buttons.

But what should I get in my email a few days later? A newsletter from SewStylish magazine with a link to a story on …. Make your own buttons from polymer clay . It is good to know I am not alone in some of the things I do.

Thanks to Joy for pointing me to Karen's Blog. Karen made the blouse for her daughter and moved the gathers on the blouse up to the bust area. I went back and did the same. The wearablity issues went away. However, I really think the pattern was drafted as a tunic front with very little shaping and the gathers in the waist area are a style detail, not a bust dart rotation.

The center front placket is 2” wide. When the gathers are moved up to the same level as the bust point, the side view is a little strange. I don’t have any cleavage so the placket lays flat against my chest bone between the “girls”. I don’t know if this would work for a person whose bust is fuller in the center front. Most blouses with center front gathers have them on either side of a very narrow front band.

The Show and Tell part of the sewing guild meeting was wonderful this month. Since we were snowed in for two weekends, many attendees had been "sewing up a storm” to use a corny phrase, and had lots of garments to share. Show and tells are fun and inspiring. I always come away from them with a list of more patterns I "need” to buy or techniques I “need” to try. I took 2 other items to Show and Tell. One was a skirt. This fall, I purchased some thigh length sweaters to wear with skirts and pants, a la this inspiration photo. But I needed some help styling them. Many of the magazine photos showed a belt around the waist either over the sweater or on a skirt under the sweater; I suppose to make the eye read the silhouette as if it had a waist. Belts over sweaters look horrible on me, so I looked for a skirt pattern that could be worn with a belt under the sweater. Skirt #110 from the Aug 09 issue of Burda Style fit the criteria and was quick to make, The brown poly wool blend fabric with a cream and black metallic grids went perfectly with a long beige sweater.

My second item was a jacket. Made using OOP Vogue 2896, this Anne Klein (AK) jacket has notched collar, three-quarter length sleeves with turn back cuffs and inset carriers for a belt.

The inspiration for this was another fall purchase, a Tahari wool jacket with similar styling. I liked the fit and style so much I decided to make the pattern.

I thought a brown tweed jacket would be quite versatile given the many brown + color print blouses I have, or worn with solid brown bottoms and solid blue, green, cream or red tops. I found this brown/cream wool tweed at Hancock’s. It actually has some threads in blue and green.

This jacket is shown with a belt and really does require one to look good. There is no front overlap or fastening so the belt holds the jacket closed. There are faced slits in the dart legs and side seams so that the belt can pass underneath the jacket fabric there. The belt only shows at the center front and back. I didn’t like the self fabric belt tied casually, as in the pattern picture, so I used a store bought belt. While the AK jacket is OK, it did not come as close to the Tahari jacket as I would have liked because of 1. the non overlap front which shifts up and down even with a hook to hold the front edges together, 2.the fit in the torso is much looser, and 3. I like the look of the belt showing on the side waist of Tahari jacket (done with double princes seams with slits). But it does go with the skirt and the over blouse so I have a little mini wardrobe developing.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Burda Magazine 3/2009 109 Over Blouse

Do you want to increase the work on a blouse sewing project? Just follow these guidelines.

1. Choose a blouse pattern with an inset neck band/front placket
2. Pick a fabric that can be challenging to work with - example: silk charmeuse
3. Add piping around the neck band
4. Hand dye the fabric for the piping
5. Hand baste the piping in place before final machine sewing
6. Redo piping several times
7. Make your own buttons out of polymer clay
8. Put the placket button holes on 45 degree angles so that button looks like the print,

I loved this Andrew Gn polka dotted blouse with piped trim. Notice how the big buttons on the skirt echo the polka dots. So cool.

I found this dark brown silk printed with cream flower petals that reminded of me of polka dots, well abstract polka dots. This fabric is everywhere. I bought mine at Hancock’s. It was available at at about the same time and is still available at Vogue Fabrics and FashionFabricClub/DenverFabrics. I would love to learn more about the supply chain for fabric. Why are some so hard to get, and others show up everywhere, like this one. I thought this Burda blouse was similar to the inspiration blouse. The fabric used to cover the piping is silk/cotton sateen I found at my local quilting store, of all places. It was bright white. To make it more cream colored, I tea dyed it. A long time tea drinker, I know from personal spills and splatters, just what color the stains are; the perfect light brown tinted color I needed. The grocery store brand of tea, made especially for iced tea or drip coffee makers (cheap, black and strong) worked just great. Five minutes swirling the piece of fabric around in a pot of hot, regular strength tea, yielded the perfect color.

The filler for the piping was rayon rat tail cord. Normally I am a “machine sew everything” person, but I always hand baste piping to a garment for control and careful placement. The neck band has 90 degree inside corners and outside corners. After I had machine stitched the piping in place, I was very dissatisfied with the look on the piping on the inside corner. I remembered a picture of piping on a similar corner, applied using a overlapping technique, from a 2005 Threads magazine article called “Perfect Piping” by Susan Kahlje. There were no instructions, but the picture was clear enough for me to figure it how to do it on my own.

Button sources in my town are limited. Many years ago someone gave a presentation at our ASG Fashion Focus neighborhood group on making buttons from polymer clay (like Fimo or Sculpey brands). I loved the idea. A Google of "polymer clay buttons" will bring up numerous web sites with pictures and instructions if you are interested. With a dollar for a package of clay, and a half hour for forming and baking, you can have machine washable buttons in any size, color or shape you want. I made flat oval buttons, with shapes similar to the larger petals in the print. I used a canapĂ© cutter to cut the oval out of flattened clay, and a corn handle to make the holes for the thread. I don’t know how familiar folks are with corn handles, especially if they don’t eat sweet corn right off the cob. They are little pronged handles you stick in the end of a cooked ear of sweet corn to make the eating a tad neater. They keep the butter and salt off your fingers, but it still gets on your face. I wanted the buttons to look scattered like the ovals in the print. To accomplish this I put the button holes on 45 degree angles, alternating the direction of each one.
I chose this pattern because the neck band was like the one on the inspiration blouse, but I was concerned about the front gathers, which are below the bust. They put lots of fabric in the waist area and not in the bust where I would have expected it. I thought about moving the gathers up to the bust when I sewed the front to the placket, but didn’t. I wish I had, and will probably do it in the near future, when I am in the mood for careful seam ripping. The placket buckles when there is any movement that pulls the fabric over the bust. After I get it fixed, I plan to wear the blouse tucked into a skirt under a jacket, not as an over blouse.