Sunday, May 27, 2012

Vogue 1309 Issey Miyake Tunic

One of the other sewn garments I took to NYC was an Issey Miyake tunic  made from a recently released  Vogue 1309.  I wore it to dinner on Sat night. It is described as a pullover tunic with front and back cut-in-one, no shoulder/side seams, square armholes, left side back zipper, shaped hemline, stitched hem, and unfinished and continuous bias finished edges.

I have been a big fan of Issey Miyake garments and patterns for many years.  They are intriguing in the way they are constructed and the fabrics used  are often quite unique. They are often more works of art than garments. Some are wearable, some are not.  The Vogue patterns allow me to experience the creativity of the design and  construction for myself.  Every time I successfully complete one of the patterns, I marvel at people who can think so "out of the box",  and lament my inability to do so.
I always enjoy the construction/process and  feel these types of patterns force me to use my weaker  creative sewing skills, compared to my fully developed process/ production sewing skills.

The tunic in this pattern is constructed using a huge rectangle, a small rectangle and a square.  The largest rectangle has a slit down the middle of its length which you finish with 1/4 bias binding. It forms the central section of the tunic. The smaller rectangle and square form the underarm section /gusset/ and stays for all the draping. 

Tunic starting point


1. Clearly mark all the dots and their associated letters for your size. My pattern was printed in blue ink rather than the normal black and the letters A-G were teeny and not located right next to the dots as I would have expected. The letter/dot combination is critical to putting this together correctly.  My fabric was busy and textured. I used little pieces of scotch tape with the letters and arrows on them to mark the dots. I peeled the tape off the fabric after sewing the seams.  All seam allowances are ¼ inch, and some are covered with bias binding so my normal marking method,  snips into the seam allowance, was not an option.
Underarm gusset and markings
2. Mark the little squares too; they are for the shoulder shaping. They are really hard to locate on a partially constructed garment, after the pieces are twisted, turned and sewed, Ask me how I know.

3. Read the direction through completely so you understand the whole construction process. Some steps make more sense when you know where you are going with subsequent steps.

I cut the three pieces out of muslin in a roughly 1/5 scale and went through the construction.  Example : Size 14 main rectangle  19.5 x70 in , My sample  4” x 14. It was like making an  Issey for Barbie.  That helped me  a bit.

 I failed to notice that the instructions start with the shaping of the back. I was doing the draping and pinning together on the dress form. I assumed the construction of the garment started with the front. There was a bit of confusion until I read ahead to the end of the instructions and realized you start with the back.  Needless to say, the shaping made a lot more sense when I put the fabric on the dress from correctly.

All seams are ¼ inch. My fabric is a sheer/solid stripe poly in variegated colors that had been permanently pressed with random crinkles. I purchased it at Jo-Ann Fabrics a couple of years ago.  I serged (3 thread) all the edges that were not finished with bias, to prevent raveling. For some of the seams, you are sewing 2 bias bound edges together or an unfinished edge and a bias bound edge. This puts the bulk of the bias trim in the seam allowance. I used a zipper foot so that I could sewon the seam line,  next to the bias bound edges.

I did put in the zipper, but it is hard to see against my fabric. I can pull the tunic over my head easily without unzipping it.
The garment was too big in the bust area, but I fixed this by doing some creative tucking of my own and taking bigger seams on the side panels. There is a big droop of fabric in the back that I think is unflattering , but for someone with more of a bottom, it would be filled and look great. This is one of those garments that will fit different body types, but may be looser or tighter on one person than another due to the bias draping of the fabric and the wearer's height, and size and location of hips, bust, etc. Ann  has also made this pattern successfully in both a knit and woven and they look great. She is a very different body shape than me and she mentions some issues I did not have. I really enjoyed making this and like the way it turned out.
Vogue 1309 Issey Miyake
Side View
Back view

Monday, May 21, 2012

Simplicity Sewing

I just got back from a wonderfully weekend in NYC.  One of the activities was a tour of the Simplicity pattern company.  The suggestion on the trip discussion board was to wear something made from a Simplicity or New Look pattern for the tour. I looked though my pattern stash and was surprised to find I have quite a number of Simplicity and New Look patterns.  Most of them are what I call wardrobe patterns.   On the tour I learned they are called “lifestyle” patterns....the ones that include pants, top, dress and jacket in one pattern.

Simplicity 2443
For my tour outfit I made the very popular Cynthia Rowley jacket from  Simplicity 2443, and a top from a lifestyle pattern. The jacket fabric is a chartreuse cotton/silk woven. One of those impulse buys from, which when it arrived, was nothing like I imagined.  It had a shifty grain and a stiff hand for such a light weight fabric. Washing it created lots of little wrinkles which I could not iron out. It was like the cotton fibers shrunk, but the silk did not. I decided to use the texture as a "design feature".  I interlined the jacket bodice with Bemberg rayon to make it a little more stable and easy to slip on over tops.  The closures are supposed to be tabs and ties.  The ties reminded me of the strands of fluttering banners around a used car lot.  So I omitted them, and wore the jacket in NY without buttons. I stopped by the MJ Trim store and found the perfect buttons there.

The top is Simplicity lifestyle pattern  3505. It must not be a very popular pattern, as the only review on PatternReview is for the shorts, back in 2009. 

The top has a lined yoke with shaping done through released princess seams and tucks.  The fabric is a silk twill print of gray bubbles on a molted chartreuse/olive green background. It reminded me of how liquid mercury beads up when it is not contained. The fabric appealed to me because of the odd colors and unique print.  Most people would probably look at it and say “ugly!” for the exact same reasons.  I wear a lot of sleeveless print silk tops under jackets in the summer. I will definitely make this  top again, but will raise the bottom of the armhole about .5 inches for a bit more coverage.
Simplicity 3505 Front
The tour guide did recognize the jacket I was wearing as the "first Cynthia Rowley jacket"  She also mentioned they do read the reviews on PatternReview, and they do fix legitimate pattern errors when contacted about them.  Other tidbits learned on the Simplicity tour:  The New Look patterns are designed by a woman living in England, which they feel gives the designs a different aesthetic.  She sends the design sketches to NY and they turn them into patterns.  New Look patterns will fit differently than Simplicity patterns in the same size. According to our tour guide,” the New Look form is larger, but the fit is closer”.   I have found that New Look patterns do fit me differently than Simplicity. Though not in a bad way.  I love New Look knit top patterns because they are very close fitting and often have a center back seam for shaping the back. I don’t have to remove gobs of fabric in the bust and arms like I do with Simplicity and McCalls.  On the other hand I have to check the measurements of the New Look pants pattern pieces very carefully, and often add fabric in key areas because the pant fit is every bit as formfitting as the tops.
Walmart is definitely back in the fabric/sewingsupply business.  Simplicity participated in a big joint promotion with Walmart recently that required all kinds of overtime and weekend work.  That sounded familiar.  When Walmart says "Jump!", most suppliers will ask “How high?”  Walking around the Simplicity office, I was happy to see rooms with fabric on shelving is untidy stacks, just like in my sewing room.   Simplicity will often work with Jo-Ann’s or Walmart and make the garments shown in the catalogs out of fabrics being sold in those stores. But they also buy fabric “on the street in NY”.   Their lead time from conception to pattern is, I believe, around 6 months, but if they see a trend on the streets of NY they think will be big, they will expedite a design through the process.   They have a library of sewing techniques they use to create the pattern instructions.  If the pattern requires a unique construction method, it will be written for that pattern’s instruction sheet.

As for the PatternReview weekend, it was fabulous, as they always are. There were great group activities set up by hardworking volunteers. It was so exciting to meet old  PR weekend friends and other bloggers.  You could talk sewing as much as you wanted,  and no one got bored. There were so many shops selling fabrics, trims, notions, tools, and books, that we were only able to visit a fraction of them.  I was restrained with my fabric purchases, just a few select pieces.   But I bought quite a few German and Italian pattern magazines at the Around the World magazine shop.   And the latest Marfy catalog and several pattern drafting/fitting books at the FIT bookstore.  I now have lots of great reading material for the car travel time of my upcoming Memorial Day holiday.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sewing Interruptus

It has taken me over 5 weeks to complete my latest sewing project due to a bad case of sewing interruptus - A disruption of the normal sewing process by external distractions. The distractions were good for the most part, a vacation and out of town technical conference, and some were even sewing related. A wonderfully inspiring two day workshop with Rami Kim creator of award winning Art to Wear garments,  plus I started a 8 week pattern drafting class that has significant homework. All this contributed to a slow pace on the blouse from Vogue pattern 1294.
The blouse is described as semi-fitted, and lined, with a back neck band, pleated flounce, front band with snap closing and very narrow hem. Contrast flounce and bias strip for side front/side back seams/sleeve hems. I used a mint color four ply silk from Fashionista Fabrics for the blouse itself, and a teal silk organza from G Street Fabrics for the contrast flounce and bias strip seam insertion trim.
Blouse Front
Blouse Back
The pattern is designed for light weight fabric that would require a lining. The lining finishes the neck edge. I did not line my blouse because the 4 ply silk was quite beefy, so I created my own facing for the front V neck. Bias cut raw edge strips are inserted in the princess seams as trim. I attached them to the side pieces with a three thread serger stitch which also finished the edges at the same time.
Inside Finish Details
There is an inset neck band on the blouse back and the flounce is folded and inserted into the shoulder seam of that band
Side view
The front closures are snaps and the directions recommend covering the snaps with the blouse fabric.  My fabric was heavier and this is a blouse, not a couture garment, so I chose to use clear heat resistant nylon snaps. The recommended snap placement was a bit unusual. Instead of being evenly spaced down the placket, the three top snaps are located closer together in area where the flounce is sewn to the placket. The closer spacing certainly prevents any gaps in this area. I made a mental note of this for future use. I know I tend to blindly follow the sewing "rules" or standard practices, even when a more creative or unusual solution would be more effective.
Snap Spacing
The pants are made from wool polyester blend twill purchased at Mary-Jo’s Fabrics in NC. My pants are a very similar style to the Vogue pattern but are actually made using a pattern I created by taking apart a pair of well-fitting RTW pants. I compared my pattern to the Vogue pant pattern. The waist band and leg width were exact duplicates. The difference was that my copied RTW pattern already reflected the changes I make to remove excess fabric from the butt and upper thigh area of commercial patterns. I have a piece of boucle fabric that I hope to make into a coordinating jacket and a couple pieces of blouse fabric that coordinate with the pants.

The yard is full of wonderful scents this time of year.  In the flower beds, the sweet william's, confederate jasmine and an extremely fragrant old rose, rescued from an abandoned farm house in  MD, are blooming.  In the field behind the house,  honeysuckle and some sort of scrubby white flowering tree were competing for olfactory attention.   I took the pictures there to enjoy the scents.

 Looking at the pictures, I have decided the pants need more tweaking and I should shorten the blouse by an inch or two if I plan to wear it as an over blouse. It’s bottom edge is cutting my body in half. I prefer the 1/3 top, 2/3 bottom proportions for tops worn out.