Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sewing from a Suitcase

Yes, that is what I did last week while at of out of town, work related training course. The class location was a drivable distance, so I took along my sewing machine and packed sewing projects in my suitcase. A blouse, with the pattern pieces cut out, the interfacing, buttons, and threads. Pants, cut out, with thread and zipper. I forgot the interfacing for the pants waistband, a different type of interfacing than for the blouse, so I didn’t get as far on them as I had planned. I did finish the blouse.

I wanted to make a blouse to go with the pants in my last post. BurdaStyle and the retail web sites are showing a lot of flowy, lightweight blouses with pants for fall.  I really liked the bouse on the right in the Fall 2011 Lutterloh fashion supplement (pamphlet of patterns).

 But as I am still a Lutterloh pattern neophyte and not familiar with the fit and built in ease of these patterns. I decided to use a pattern brand I was more comfortable with.  This BurdaStyle blouse, from the 9/2010 issue, pattern 102 is almost an exact replica of the Lutterloh blouse including the stand collar, though it is hidden behind stiff, bias cut, double thickness, gathered ruffles.

I drafted my own pattern for the small cascading ruffle that was sewn on the one side of the button placket on the Lutterloh blouse.

Drafting the ruffle:

1. Determine the length and width of the ruffle strip. Length was the distance from the neck seam to the waist. Width was about 1.5 “(no seam allowances included at this time) Cut a rectangle of pattern paper to this size. Label the neck, center front on the pattern piece.

2. Cut slashes from the outer edge to the center front edge, at even increments, leaving a hinge of paper on the center front edge.

3. Open up each slash the same amount to form a curve. The number, location, and open area  of the slashed determine how the ruffle looks and hangs. Fewer slashes, fewer and bigger waves. More slashes, more gentle waves.

4. Trace new ruffle shape onto a new piece of pattern paper, smoothing out the curves. Round off the outside corner bottom edge. Label center front edge and neck on pattern.

5. Cut out ruffle, adding seam allowances to neck and center front edges, and hem allowance to long curved edge.

6. Finish curved edge by desired method.

I did the narrow hem on the edge of the ruffle by hand, while watching Project Runway. Twice, because I turned the hem to the wrong side the first time I did it, distracted by the TV. That helped me empathize with the frustration some of the designers had executing their designs that night, and I got extra practice on narrow hemming.

The fabric is a silk chiffon remnant purchased at the Vogue Fabrics sewing expo booth. I was determined to use silk chiffon for this blouse. It has the most divine lightness and drape, which cannot be duplicated in rayon or poly, IMHO. But silk chiffon is my sewing nemesis, especially keeping the fabric flat and on grain while cutting out the pattern.

This time I did two things that improved the process. I ripped the fabric into shorter lengths, corresponded to the length needed for the bodice pieces, so I had smaller pieces of fabric to square up. And I used a layer of paper under the silk in the pattern cutting out process. I have heard of  this before, but never tried it. I used newspaper because it was handy (I checked for ink rub off first). In hind sight I could have used tissue paper, which I buy at the dollar store for gift wrapping. I am a convert to using the paper! It is easy to pin the fabric to the edge of the paper to keep it on grain. And the cutting, oh my! The fabric does not shift or push up in front of the scissor because of the paper's stiffness. And my scissors cut the paper/fabric together much cleaner and easier than the  chiffon fabric by itself.

Other construction details - I used skin tone silk organza as the interfacing for the front band cuffs, yoke and collar. And French seams to neatly finish inside seams. The cuffs are standard rectangular shirt cuff. The pattern used is from the other, tie neck version, of this blouse in the same issue.
I am pleased with how this turned out. It looks nice with the pants and also worn with jeans as an over blouse. It can also be worn with gray pants and jackets I have in my wardrobe.

That is Ms. Ashley trying to get into the picture. Speaking of cats. I just found out about a book called Crafting with Cat Fur Yes, it is about using your cat's fur in crafting projects like felting. Ms. Ashley is a long haired cat and a prodigious spring time shedder. I have no desire to use her hair for crafts. But I thought some other members of my family, with a potentially large supply of that raw material, might be interested.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Taste of Wine - Burda 8_2011 Pant 137

I seem to be spending my weekends gallivanting off to quilt shows and sewing expos. This results in lots of new ideas and purchases, but very little sewing activity. I did manage to add some color and a new pant silhouette to my fall wardrobe. The color, a wine bordering on magenta, the silhouette - slouchy tapered leg. The pattern is Burda pant 8_2011 137.

Burda pant  Aug 2011 #137

The pants have  a double pleat, one within another. A sewn inverted pleat covered by a larger pleat. I think I interpreted  the directions correctly. They look fine and the waistband fits so I am happy.
 I was concerned about looking like an ice cream cone in narrow leg pants so I did a comparison of the pattern leg width to some other pants in my closet. The pattern leg circumference is 15.5 inches. The narrowest leg pants in my closet were 14"  jeans so I felt comfortable making the pattern.   I did not include the side seam pockets. Most of my hip curve is between my waist and 4 inches below. Side seam pockets always gape on that short, extreme curve.

The fabric is a lightweight wool lycra gabardine from Vogue Fabrics. It is described as washable and came through that test beautifully. It has the soft drape needed for these pants. I did not line them. I looked on the  netaporter  web site  for purple pants and  styling ideas.

Diane von Furstenberg


I prefer pants like this hemmed long, covering the ankle, and worn with chunky high heel shoes.   But looking at the picture,  I think I need to shorten mine about an inch to keep the leg from pooling on the top of my foot. I haven't rotated my summer clothes out yet,  so in this picture I am working the color blocking trend and wearing the pants with a gold sleeveless RTW knit top and chunky sandals.    But the weather is cooling so I am in the process of  choosing a pattern, and fabric from the stash selection below, to make a coordinating blouse.

Just wanted to mention the wonderful 2 days I had at the Chantilly, VA Sewing  Expo. I took a lot of classes, mostly on fitting or sewing techniques. Even if a class is on a topic I am familiar with, it is good to have the refresher and see the demo’s again. This year Cynthia Guffey’s “Fitting your Hanger” ( shoulders and back) presentation really drove home the point that a lot of fitting issues in the bodice are because of poor shoulder and back fit. Before you start messing with bust and armholes, compare the shoulder slope of the pattern to your shoulder slope and make sure they match. Lorraine Henry’s "Crotchety Crotches" class discussed measuring and fitting armhole and leg crotches. I never thought of underarms as a crotch, but they are. She did an interesting comparison of her crotch shape  to that of  several pattern lines,  and a pattern copied from a RTW pair of Liz Claiborne pants. It was easy to see which pattern fit her best ( Liz). I want to do the same comparison exercise myself.  I bought several new pairs of specialty scissors, some independent patterns, fabric and lace. I love sewing expos and always come away invigorated and raring to go/sew.