Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Zoinks, Another Halloween Costume!

I am doing Halloween candy handout duty. Sitting near the door listening for the sound of voices and feet shuffling through the leaves as the kids come up the front walkway.  We don’t get a lot of Trick or Treaters, so I have time to blog.    I have admired all the cute and creative costumes sewn in blogland these past few weeks, and exclaimed over those that are showing up at my door.  I am remembering all the costumes I have sewn for my sons in the past, starting with this one for my oldest son back when he was just over a year old. He was the cutest frog with his big fat cheeks. The costume is still up in the attic

McCalls 7842

 I was not surprised when he told me that this year, he and his roommates were going to dress up for Halloween as the characters from the cartoon Scooby-Doo.  This is a long running Saturday morning cartoon series featuring four teenagers and their Great Dane dog "Scooby-Doo" who solves mysteries. My oldest son, when he is overdue for a haircut and a shave, bears a strong physical resemblance to the Scooby Doo cartoon character Norville “Shaggy” Rogers.  People always comment on it.    Shaggy is the tall and thin, with wild looking brown hair, craggy features and whiskers on his chin. He typically wears a baggy green V-neck T shirt and brown pant.

Scooby Doo and friends
This has to be the most uninspiring, boring, “costume” I have ever made. For the T shirt I used New look 6084  which include a  “V” neck T shirt pattern for men, a separate and more fitted T shirt for women,  and unisex drawstring pants. The fabric was medium olive green poly cotton from JoAnn's.


For the pants I was envisioning bell bottoms, which gave me an excuse to peruse vintage patterns on  There I found Simplicity 9736, a vintage 1970 men’s bell bottom pants pattern.

 Why make a pair of pants, you may ask.  Because I swear it takes less time and money to sew a pair than trying to find size 32” waist, 36” inseam pants in a specific color at a reasonable price. I almost made them out of brown double knit fabric. I hate to admit it but I do have some in my stash, and double knits were recommended on the pattern. But instead I purchased some cotton/lycra corduroy from  It was rather stiff for pinwale cotton corduroy, even after several washings.

Son #2 delivered the pants and shirt when he went to visit older brother for the weekend. Both garments fit fine and he looked very authentically “Shaggy”. So much so I have scheduled a haircut appointment for him during his Thanksgiving break.  Son  #2  was supposed to be the character Freddy, but he refused to wear the blond wig after someone told him it made him look like a drag queen.  This actually worked in his favor as several playboy bunnies came up to him at the party, asked if he was Hugh Hefner, to which he said "yes", and had their pictures taken with him.
Shaggy and Freddy Halloween 2012

I think I hear another group of  trick or treaters.   Got to go!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Pin Up

Fall has arrived here where I live, with lower temperatures and humidity, weaker light, fading flowers, lots of dead leaves falling everywhere and oh yes, hurricanes.   Can you tell I don’t like Fall?   I have had no motivation to sew any new clothes.   But I have purchased some fabric.   Sigh! Why does have to use box sealing tape on which their name is printed over and over again.  Gee, do they have to announce to my DH that another box of fabric has arrived.  I have a plan to train him to actually look forward to boxes of fabric, inspired by this 1947 calendar pin up girl.

Esquire Girl Calendar Feb 1947
 “Is that another box of fabric” He will ask grumpily. “Yes, dear,  I will reply, “and let me show you how it will look on me!”  as I dash from the room with the box in my arms.  “Ta Da” I say returning and proudly displaying the fabric à la the calendar.  When I asked DH if it would work with him, he leered and said “Why don’t you try it?”  Hmm, maybe this plan will also deter me from buying so much fabric.

Surprisingly, I have been motivated to finish some UFO’s (unfinished objects). Late last summer I decided to make a copy of  this Tibi Jacket. I got as far as cutting out the bodice fabric before I lost interest.  
Tibi Jacket

The fabric pieces, leather for the trim, and the zipper got buried so deep on my sewing  table  that I didn’t find it until a recently cleanup.

 I think resuming a project takes more effort than starting a new one. First  I have to remember why it got set aside. It was usually because of an issue or problem. So  I need to solve that problem to move on.  It actually helps me get started by writing everything that  needs to be done as tasks or steps. Seeing them as individual  tasks makes them much more achievable. And if I start with easy ones first, the momentum to tackle the hard one is usually there,  For this jacket project  step 1 was draft a pocket pattern.   Easy peasy.  A square with bottom corners rounded.  That was done quickly and it was easy to move on to the next step.   Step 2. Modify the sleeve pattern to add pleat and shorten length. This took me a whole afternoon. And  lastly, Step 3. Figure out how to apply the leather binding and zipper to center front.  As this was the last thing I had to do before the jacket was complete,  the motivation to work through it was there.

 The pattern I used for the starting point was jacket pattern 104 from Burda Style magazine from Burda Nov 2010.

Burda 11-2010-104
The Burda pattern is for a shoulder princess seamed front and back, with full length set in sleeves. 
The Tibi jacket had shoulder princess seams in the front, and chest pockets with flaps.    Leather is used for the binding at the neck, center front, sleeve edges, hem and shoulder yokes. The ¾ length sleeves have a large pleat at the shoulder. The back is gathered below a yoke. Obviously some changes had to be made to the original pattern to get where I wanted to go. 
• Bodice - trimmed off seam allowances on center front and neckline.  Leather strips were used to bind  and finish edges.
• Self drafted pocket and pocket flaps patterns.
• Self drafted  pattern for leather shoulder yoke
• Shorten sleeves to ¾ length, tapered to 11” circumference at bottom edge  like other jackets with similar sleeves
• Add large pleat to sleeve cap.   I used instructions from Winifred Aldrich's Metric Pattern Cutting for Women's Wear 

Leather binding  is a favorite way of finishing an edge and adding a bit of contrast.  I have used it many times over the years. The leather binding  is made from strips of lambskin.  The stretchiness and thickness of lambskin  reminds  me of a  medium weight double knit. Nothing to be afraid of if you have never sewn it before. Leather has no true grain, so binding stripes can be cut in any direction on the leather skin.  I use a rotary cutter and ruler to cut accurately.

 For my  3/8” wide  trim, the width of the strip was 1 5/8 “ I suggest determining the width of your binding strips by sewing some samples using scraps. Leather takes more width to wrap around an edge than fabric,  because of it's thickness. To get the longer strips needed for the center front edges and neck opening, I pieced short lengths of the leather using diagonal seams to make longer pieces. I also used the diagonal seams to make the binding bands for the bottoms of the sleeves.

Binding bands for bottom of sleeves
 Clip (rather than pin) the binding strip of the garment edge with right sides together and raw edges aligned.  Stitch the binding to the garment fabric .  Wrap the strip around the raw edge.  Stitch in the ditch from the right side, catching the raw edge of the strip on the back side of the garment.   
Finished sleeve edge
For the zipper and binding on the center front opening:  First  I  sewed the leather binding strip to the garment. Then I sewed the zipper tape to the leather binding strip so that when the binding strip was wrapped around the raw edge, the zipper teeth were located just beyond the bound edge. It took a lot of preplanning and testing, but the sewing was easy and the results exactly what I hoped to achieve.


Jacket Front

Closeup  mitered corners
Jacket Back
I made the princess seamed back of the Burda pattern rather than copying the Tibi back.  The backs of my jackets on a dress form will always look loose and a bit bumpy because  my back has way more curves than the dress form back.

Most of my summer clothes and shoes are packed away, so when it came time to take some pictures of the jacket on me, I just grabbed some compatible garments that were within easy reach, and opted for the barefoot look. Probably not the way I would wear the jacket to work, but fun for a backyard photo session with Miss Ashley.

The prerequisite Twirl picture