Sunday, February 24, 2013

S Curve

A family member  decided to help me with the laundry recently.  I wish he had warned me so I could have rescued garments in the laundry pile that needed special treatment.  As a result a silk chiffon blouse was agitated to death in the washing machine by a load of jeans and towels. It emerged a shrunken, faded semblance of its former self. I made a replacement blouse and chose the fabric for its colors.  It is a polyester and yes, I am a poly snob.  I wish this print was available in silk.  I was half tempted to scan the fabric and send the scan to a “print your own fabric” service like  Spoonflower to  have it printed on silk.

 The blouse pattern is a semi fitted tunic with front and back gathered into band collar. The front buttoned band forms a pleat. The full length sleeves have elasticized wrists. I always choose raglan sleeves for  fast sewing projects andam then reminded that they are not a flattering style for my small shoulders.  Ah well.

Once the blouse was done and I had worn it with my magenta wool pants, I wondered what else I could wear it with.  Black pants certainly and possible a black skirt, if I had one.  A black skirt is a versatile wardrobe basic, but they always remind always me of the black skirts I had to wear for girls’ chorus and waitressing jobs in my youth.  Leather and fabric is big this year, so I decided to do a black skirt using the black leather and fabric in my stash. The pattern is Burda skirt pattern 103 from  5 2006.


  It is a basic straight skirt with contour waist band and center front seam with kick pleat.   The interesting bit is the “side seams” are S-curves. Because of the odd pattern pieces and darts, I made a muslin of the skirt out of a mid weight cotton to test the fit.  The fit was good except my high hip caused the center front seam to hang off vertical. This was easily fixed by adding 5/8 inch to the top of the skirt on the high hip side.

To accent the seaming I used leather for one section of the skirt and black wool gabardine for the other.

Some construction details: I marked the darts on the back of the leather with chalk
darts marked on leather with chalk

 and I  used an iron-on woven stay tape to stabilize all seams on the leather pieces.

Fusible woven stay tape on seams of leather

  Yes, you can iron leather.  Test on a sample to determine the best heat setting, and if steam is any benefit.  The thread used for construction and top stitching was  Coats and Clark poly thread. The needle, a size 12/70 Top Stitching.  Darts, hems and non top stitched seams in the leather were glued flat with a glue that dries flexible and is designed for porous surfaces.  I used leather adhesive, but SOBO or rubber cement can also be used.
The original skirt had zippers the entire length of each curved side seam. A 20 inch one from back hem to just below the pocket on the front,  and a short zipper from waist to the bottom of in-seam pocket. Talk about air conditioning, No way on the whole seam zipper, but  I did  mentally dither over adding the in seam  pockets with zipper openings because of the unfamiliar  insertion process and hand sewing required. And the uncertain success of top stitching through 2 layers of leather and the zipper tape.  In the end I knew I would be unsatisfied with the skirt if I did not put in the pockets, so one weekend I just did it.   I sewed the seams together, basted the zipper to the seam allowances, top stitched 1/4 inch from seam on both the leather and fabric through the zipper tape.

Zipper basted to seam allowance

Top stitching with Teflon foot 

  Sewed the pocket facing to the zipper tape on the lower side, and the pocket lining to the upper zipper tape by hand , and then sewed around the outside edges of the pocket by machine.

pocket facing slip stitched to zipper tape
   I also created a lining pattern by eliminating the curved side seam. There is an invisible zipper inserted in the center black seam in the leather.  I thought this might be tough to do but it actually was done quite easily since the stay tape kept the leather from stretching.

zippered pocket

Curved Hip dart

Skirt back


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Black and Blue

I got into one of my closet clean out moods recently, and as I reached the back recesses of the cedar closet, I found a pair of  never worn,  me made wool pants. And there next to them was the jacket they were to have been worn with.  Made from Vogue  2952, an  Issey Miyake pattern from 2007.

The jacket is pretty plain in the front, but the center back is cropped with lacing over the opening, I remember making the pants in the same color as the jacket to make the lacing less obvious. But I never wore the jacket because I did not feel comfortable in it.

I tried on the pants and they fit great. I had some soft poly knit that matched the pants perfectly.  I have always wanted to make Vogue 8323 and had just seen it modeled at a recent ASG meeting "Show and Tell".  I liked this pattern for the shoulder princess seaming, which is great for shaping and fitting.

 I decided to make a muslin, probably because I had just finished watching two classes at, Lynda Maynard's Sew the Perfect Fit  and Barbara Deckert's Plus Size Pattern Fitting and Design, both of which used muslins to resolve fitting problems. And both great classes BTW! I am glad I made the muslin. The shoulders were too wide, the sleeves too short and the neckline, shown as standing up along the neck in the pattern drawing, sagged and caused the front to gap. Also on my copy of the  pattern, there seemed to be misprint on the part of the center front piece that folded over to make the facing. It was not the same shape as the part it was supposed to face.  I corrected the facing shape, lengthened the sleeves and shaped the collar to fit up against the lower neck and then folded over.   I also shortened the shoulder seam. My first impulse was to take the extra shoulder length off the armhole edge, but I remembered how Cynthia Guffey altered my princess seam jacket for the same problem by taking in the excess at the princess seam.  That also keeps the placement of the princess seam in the middle of the shoulder seam. I am quite happy with the top and the way it  coordinates with the pants. Our ASG group is having a 5 piece SWAP challenge and I do believe these two pieces will be the start of my SWAP.

 So the top and pants are the blue of the post title. What is the black?  And why don't I have any pictures of me in the top. Because of these guys, who suddenly showed up  and decided to take up residence on the deck outside my sewing room  where I take my pictures.

They are black vultures. I sew three feet from the door where this picture was taken. Kitty decided she wanted to go out one day. I was looking down, trying not to step on her,as I opened the door. I  looked up, and we both froze. I quickly shut the door.  Day 1 they sat all day on the railing in the drenching, freezing rain. Day 2, I heard a sound at the  door and was unnerved to see one standing on the welcome mat, tapping on the glass of the door.  

 When I sent out our attack cat in full bristle mode, or DH yelling and waving his arm like a lunatic, they would fly to a nearby tree.  But back they would come.  Screaming and waving at them is one method suggested by a Google search of the problem,  Vulture eat carrion, or garbage in populated areas. I checked the garbage cans to make sure the covers were tight and looked  under the deck in case some animal  had crawled under there and died, but all was clean and tidy.   After 5 days they quit coming to the deck,  but they are still in the neighborhood. I see them and a bunch of their buddies perched in a neighbor's tree.