Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Biker Jacket Blazer - Burda 7_2013 102

Its been so long since I blogged, I’ll bet you thought the contest put me off sewing forever.  Not at all.  I started sewing a jacket in early Nov, but it  took forever to complete. Lots of different reasons. Holidays,  business trips  that kept me away from my sewing machine  and  required traveling on the weekend to be on site early Monday morning.  Boy, do I resent it when work encroaches on my precious weekends.  And,  oh yes, some sewing mishaps and sourcing issues.

 The jacket  is from Burda  July 2013 –102  The full sewing course instructions are included in the issue.

The jacket is described as" biker jacket meets blazer". It has some biker jacket details, but they are rather weak.  Burda made it in  “ natte” because it was “ soft and breathable.” I have never heard of natte so I looked it up – it is more a weave than a fabric. A basket weave made with contrasting colors in the warp and weft; also  a fabric with such a weave woven usually from silk, rayon, and cotton. 

 My fabric was very different,  a black lace bonded to grey felted wool blend,  purchased at JoAnn Fabrics. The face  is 60% Cotton 40% Polyester, the base fabric: 40% Wool 60% Polyester

   It all over the internet. Vogue Patterns made a cape from it.

 One of the participants in Marcy Tilton’s Coat Sew Along  (no name provided in Marcy's post ) made a suit from it. Which I love.

  And fellow blogger Sigrid   has a lovely blue background version that I like even better  than my fabric. I can't wait to see what she sews from hers.

 I chose the pattern because I thought the edge binding would be a good finish for the heavier double sided fabric and  give me the option of wearing the jacket lapels open, with the contrasting gray showing.

I made a number of changes to the pattern. The lapels are single layer, not faced as per the instructions. I rounded the corners of the shoulder and pocket flaps to echo the lapel's rounded style.   I eliminated the shoulder seam in the shoulder flaps to get rid of extra layers of fabric at the shoulder sleeve point. The pattern directions called for double welt pockets with the pocket flap sewn under the top welt. The welts were to be 3/16 “ wide. I know the limits of my abilities and 3/16 welts in just about any fabric is one of them. I went with a single welt pocket with flap, where there is one bottom welt.  I made the welt 3/8" and of  the same lighter weight fabric used for the binding.

The jacket required  5 " open ended zippers in each sleeve. Specialty zippers are impossible to find at local stores. I was thrilled when I found two in my stash.  It was only after inserting  them  and sewing up the sleeves, that I realized they were dark navy blue, not black and one had silver teeth, the other gold. Was I wearing my glasses that day? Out they came, replaced by two black 5 " purse zippers with closed ends. All I could find.  I  cut the ends open with my  husband's dikes ( portmanteau of "Diagonal CutterS" pronounced "dikes")  Now if my electrician/ husband ever asks me to hand him the dikes, I know what he is asking for. There was a bit of confusion when I described my zipper issue and he told me what tool to get from his toolbox.

Closed End Zipper


 The jacket is fastened with snaps. Since they would show when the lapel was open, I thought about using covered snaps, black on the fabric face and gray on the back. But I hate fiddling with the home sewer  method of covering snaps with fabric. You know the "cut circles of fabric, work a running stitch around edge of circle, gather .....etc."  Recently  I was putting away a summer jacket with covered snaps, and noticed that each side of the snap had two parts, like a covered button.

 I searched the internet for snaps like this. "A cover your own, with snap on backs" No luck. Lots of already covered snaps though.  If you know of a source for  no sew, cover your own types of snaps,  please let me know. I ended up going with black metal snaps.

 I have had no time now to take pictures of the jacket on me. I will try and do it in early Jan. Right now I need to get off my computer and wrap some presents.

I wish everyone joy filled holidays and  I will be back in the new year!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

I'm Out!

7th Challenge result:  I’m out! 
A wave of relief swept over me when I read the email during my lunch break. And even after thinking about it on the ride home, I feel the same way.  No disappointment and no regrets.  It had it highs. Two challenge wins. Lows - “of all the fabrics they sell, they sent us this?”  But  I have my life back.  I can play with the cover stitch machine I bought on eBay 3 weeks ago, finish the pair of pants I started back in Sept, read my new book on Draping, get back into my exercise routine, have relaxing weekends, etc. 

There are three young sewists toiling away on their entries for the final competition.  Good Luck to each of you!

 I have to thank the ladies at the Fabricmartblog for running the challenge.  I know it was a lot of work for them.  Like the first time for any online contest, there were a lot of questions, mid stream changes and instructions, and perceived favoritism or unfairness.  If the judges plan to do this again I hope they ask for feedback from the 1st challenge contestants.  It can only make future challenges better.

I also learned some things about myself.  I can sew under crippling time constraints.   When doing so I should plan time for mistakes and unsewing. I should not sew after attending a wine tasting event.  And I should listen to the design voices in my head. When I do everything turns out great

And another high - one of my challenging entries, a non winning one, caught the attention of an editor of a sewing magazine who asked if they could feature it on the sidebar of an article about a technique I used.  More on that in the future.
Now I am off to a relaxing  evening; dinner with a glass of wine, and no sewing!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Challenge 7 - Mixed Prints

My tunic won Challenge 6.  Amazing!  Thank so much to all of you that have voted for me and left encouraging comments.  This challenge is wiping me out.  There are some days I am so tired of sewing or even thinking about sewing. DH is being very understanding and supportive,  so I took a break to spend some time with him this weekend.

Challenge 7 is mixed prints

Mixed prints are a recent fashion trend. This challenge was to make an outfit of mixed prints and come up with a story on where you would wear it.  This was an excuse to delve into my fabric stash and look at the print fabrics in a whole new way. I usually store fabric by fabric content or by color schemes (great for SWAP planning). I pulled  all the prints out these storage bins and piled them on the table looking for interesting and unique pairings. It was a real challenge.

Prints can be mixed on one garment like a dress of coat or you can wear separates, each in a different print. 
Regarding  print separates, one style blog commented that  mixing prints  was scary,  but pointed out that once you get a handle on it and start creating combo’s you have never tried before, your wardrobe combinations and permutations increase exponentially,   you can get dressed faster and you will impress your fashion friends effortlessly. Well, I appreciate her positive spin on it.

I chose to go with the separates option so I can also wear the garments in more sedate pairing with other items in my wardrobe.  My comfort zone is mixing small scale prints, in the same color way. This is a holdover from my quilting days.  I  decided to push my comfort zone a bit in the print scale dept.  But at my age,  a motley mixed print combo  combined with a bad hair day can come perilously close to "Bag Lady" look.  So I made the garment silhouettes fitted and classic and the prints current and modern. So the outfit would look deliberately fashiony,  if you know what I mean.

Here are the prints I chose.


 I made three garments. Which garment from which fabric?


  Pamela’s Pattern   - The Magic Pencil Skirt,

  Vogue 8262  OOP

Burda 7073
Pamela's pattern Magic Pencil Skirt
Burda 7073

vogue 8262

Where am I going to wear this outfit?
Where am I going to wear this outfit?  The Visual Art Studio (VAS) Patrons Preview later this month.  I have taken many classes at the VAS over the years. Rug hooking, stained glass, shibori dying, and several in pattern drafting and design. My DH and I also make charitable donations to this organization, which are matched by both our employers. This bumps us up to the patron category that gets invited to art sale  previews, events that attract an eclectic crowd who dress in unique garments  and jewelry. I will probably be one of the more conservative dressed attendees. But maybe I will find some fabulous jewelry, just when someone would appreciate a holiday gift suggestion for me.


The last challenge was announced.  3 pieces that can be worn together as one outfit or two outfits.

Argg, didn't I just sew that.  So tired.........

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Challenge 6 - Judges's Choice

Using the fabric the judges selected for us, we were challenged to make a unique garment and work with a material we may not have used before.

The fabric was in the judges words “ a pretty chiffon panel print” My description is “polyester chiffon, stripes in 1980’s colors of muted forest green, mauvey pink, milk chocolate brown with a border. I believe the challenge was to work with chiffon, which can be difficult. For me this challenge was the fabric print.

Challenge Fabric

Immediate ideas for garments were a maxi dress, or beach type cover-up, neither of which I would wear So I asked myself what to I like to wear in silk chiffon and one of the answers was thigh length, body skimming tunics, over cami's and skinny pants. They make me feel elegant, lean, and covered up at the same time. So I went looking for a tunic pattern that would somehow use the border. After much internet searching and looking through back issues of all my pattern magazines, I found the one that inspired me, that motivated me to move beyond my dislike of the fabric. It was in issue 154, (2009) of Mrs Stylebook.

Mrs Stylebook Tunic

 Mrs Stylebook is a quarterly Japanese magazine  full of drafting instruction for women’s garments that are slightly different styles than what you would find in other pattern magazines. No patterns, but diagrams that show you how to take your sloper and by dropping the armhole 2cm, extending the bodice length 18 cm, or drafting a sleeve based on the length of the your front and back armhole, you end up with a pattern for a garment that will fit you perfectly, because it was drafted using your sloper as a starting point.

Mrs Stylebook tunic drafting instructions

  This pattern was a fairly easy draft. It is a basic un-darted shirt with shaped flounces added to the bottom edge. The collar is a simple rectangle that is gathered to fit the neckline. There are two layers of flounces, one shorter than the other, both with points that hang down in the center of each front and back side panel. I cut the body and sleeves from the striped part of the fabric. I cut the flounces on the border print area. One of the problems I have with this print is that it is busy. There is no one shape or color my eyes want to focus on. And if made it into a garment, an onlooker would have the same problem. So I happened to have a polyester organza ombre fabric colored from light tan to milk chocolate brown. I made the front button placket in this fabric starting with the tan at the bottom and ending in the darker brown near the face with the collar in the same shade of brown. The flounce edges are finished using a serged rolled hem. I have used sergers for 30 years and this is the first time I have used a rolled hem on a garment. You can teach an old horse new tricks! Though I need some more practice, the stitching was not as pretty as the quide book pictures. French seams were used on all straight garment seams and serging finishing on the armholes. I actually like the finished garment. And it is fun to wear, very flowy with lots of movement. The pattern is definitely a candidate for making again.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Vintage Challenge - 1931 Dress

The 5th Fabricista Challenge was to sew a garment from a vintage pattern. All entries can be seen at  Fabricista Challenge 

 My favorite decade for vintage fashion styles is the 1930’s. The long lean lines of the garments and the fascinating array of style lines and embellishment techniques really excite me. There are lots of decorative seaming, godets, flounces and  bias cuts.  Though the bias cut was used predominately in movie wardrobes and evening wear. Everyday garments, as pictured in the 1930 Sears catalog, were cut with economic use of fabric in mind.

Since I have never made a 30’s garment I chose one for this challenge. It may have been a risky choice from the contest point of view. 40’s and 50’s vintage seem to be more popular and they have the tucks and gathers the Challenge description mentioned. But the challenge prizes for this contest are token, so there has to be something  to  motivate me to  sew the specified challenge garment.

I chose a dress pattern from a 1931 issue of the magazine Praktische Damen und Kinder Mode - Practical Women's and Children's Fashions.   This German publication was produced during the early part of the 20th century, providing patterns and instructions for homemakers to use in creating fashions for themselves, their family and their homes. Original copies and photocopies are available on eBay and Etsy.

 The patterns in this magazine are printed in one size and must be traced from a pattern sheet, much like modern day Burda magazines. There was a paragraph of  instructions, but they weren't of any use to me as I do not read German. And the magazine was printed in a very ornate script that was difficult to read or I might have taken the time to type the words into an online translator.

 The dress I chose has a lace V inset in the front bodice, narrow fitting lace sleeves and a lace border with godets inserted in the front and back princess seams.

I had many questions I had to research and resolve as I made this dress. I knew the dress illustrations in the magazine were horribly exaggerated with respect to the model's height and width. How did these dresses fit the real ladies of the day? What kind of undergarments did they wear. Should the dress be lined? Should the border be unlined?   Were the godets so high they would be indecent without a lining. What was the best way to insert the godets, which had square inset corners where they hit the border and narrow points that merged into the princess seams. Which way to press the seams? Why were the shoulder so wide and square? Was that the style or more related to the physique of German ladies of the time. Especially helpful in answering these questions were sewing books published about the same time as the pattern. Three by the Woman's Institute of Scranton PA; Cutting and Fitting, First Steps in Dressmaking, Designing and Decorating Clothes, and a 1927 copy of the Butterick Art of Dressmaking

There were missteps and frustrations along the way. I have narrow shoulders, 4.75" wide and the dress pattern's were 5.75". I decreased the shoulder width, not thinking about the impact, which was to chopped off the point where the V lace inset hit the sleeve exactly at the shoulder. And then I read that shoulders were wider in the 30’s, so I recut all those pieces to be the original shoulder width. The dress bottom edge was a horror of mismatched lengths before the border was added.  I am not sure how that happened. I had to press DH into service to pin mark a level hem and hardest of all, trust his accuracy, when I had to cut 1' off the back and none off the front. He did a great job.

The dress was supposed to be Grosse(Size) 2 according to the illustration page, but the pattern instruction page said it was Grosse 3. It was huge and had to be taken in on all seams. This impacted the shape for the border and I had adjust those pattern pieces.

The fabric used for the dress was a green poly blend knit. Not my fabric of choice, but it was the only fabric in my stash that matched the green lace.  I lined  the bodice lace insert with a skin colored knit, but all other lace was unlined.

The dress is shown with a belt. I chose not to use it. It cut up the fit and flare lines of the dress and emphasized my uneven hips. The judges of this contest are not familiar with non symmetrical bodies and send me comments  about ' not sewing matching curves".  Yes, after every challenge we receive an email with a nice comment and a constructive criticism.  They are based on the judges' interpretation of the pictures and can be, lets say, interesting. Sewing this dress was a rewarding experience. I loved doing the research and reading. If I made it again I would do a better job of sizing the pattern before I cut out the fabric. ( no, I did not do a muslin) including redrafting the bodice for slightly narrower shoulders. And use a fine fabric, not a poly knit. Wool crepe would have been lovely

During my research I found a couple  similar dresses from the same decade. Some very charming and one that  I think is fascinatingly ugly. I'll let you guess which one that is.

Handmade Jane Blog

Tea with the Vintage Baroness


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Little Black Dress Challenge

For the latest Fabricista Challenge, we were to be creative and make a little black dress for our perfect night out. We had to create a story that told where we were going and what we were doing in our dress.   All  the wonderful entries are posted at Fabric Mart Fabrics Blog  Check them out and vote for your favorite,

My mother was a big fan of the actress Audrey Hepburn. And I was born in the midst of her popularity. Hence my name. Several of the black dresses that Audrey Hepburn wore in the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s ( 1961)  are famous. So how could I not use this challenge to make a dress from this movie?

Audrey Hepburn - Breakfast a Tiffany's

 One dress in particular, with a sleeveless fitted bodice and a pegged skirt trimmed in feathers, is featured in many books on "iconic" dresses. Two such books are targeted towards sewers.   Famous Frocks - Patterns and Instructions for Recreating Fabulous Iconic Dresses and Sew Iconic - How to Make 10 Classic Hollywood Dresses.

I used the pattern from the first book. Their variation of the dress has the gathered waist pegged skirt like the original movie dress. The bodice of their version has a cowl neckline. A much better style for me than the  scoop neck fitted version of the inspiration dress. And I just happened to have 4 yards of the most perfect feather trim in my stash.

I made the dress out of black wool challis. I chose this fabric to achieve a nice drape on the cowl neckline and soft gathers at the waist, but I was a little concerned a challis skirt would sag under the weight of the feather trim. Fortunately it did not, because the grosgrain tape that covered the quills of the feathers was a bit stiff .I thought the pattern was surprisingly well drafted. The cowl facing is slightly smaller than the cowl and acts as a stay to keep the cowl close to the chest, preventing gaposis. The skirt has shaping in the side and center back seam to achieve the pegged shape.

Fabulous Frock patterns are in 4 sizes,  XS (bust 31") to L (bust 37")   5/8" seam allowances are included in the pattern. However this info is buried in the sewing directions of the dress. The directions are basic and do not include any information on sewing the vent, inserting zipper etc.

Famous Frocks - Audrey Dress

cowl neck

Feather Trim

There are two rows of feather trim sewn to the bottom of the skirt. One two inches above the other.