Thursday, December 31, 2015

Pretty in Pink (Paisley)

I  posted some comments on far away blogs this morning and  and the date/time stamp was already 2016.  Yikes! I had to pull myself away from blog reading and make myself finish my last post of 2015.

My Christmas holiday did not include any gift buying or exchanges or holiday decorating. It was "no stress" bliss! Instead we spent time with family and friends in a beautiful, warm location. We had such a good time in Puerto Rico last year, we went back this year. We found a different house via   VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) in a gated community in  Humacao, on the east coast.

The house had a pool with waterfall, and  met the sleeping requirements for our group of 11, but it had a few idiosyncrasies. We have used VRBO for many of our vacation rentals in the USA and abroad.  All were good experiences.  But it is always interesting to discover what the pictures  do not show. For this rental, one bedroom could only be reached through another bedroom and a bathroom.  Awkward is so many ways. The stairs to the second floor was only slightly better than a ladder.

Stairs from 2nd floor
 The living area was multi level with bright white tiles that it made it very difficult to see the steps.  After a few stumble and tripping episodes, with no alcohol involved, we dug out a roll of  lime green duct tape, and put pieces on the edges of the steps,  barely visible in the lower RH corner of photo above, so they looked similar to this.

 Both Sis and I had neglected to read the description details and confirm there was a dishwasher.  Hence we also discovered that our young adult children are spoiled, poor dishwashers and champion procrastinators. One day I was horrified to  hear my mother's words come out of my mouth.  "Those dishes are not going to wash themselves!"

This house was near a scenic beach and a nature preserve with bike/walking trails and lagoon kayaking. We walked  the Iguana Trail hoping to see some of the big lizards. "Chicken of the trees" as our PR host called them. They are edible.  We didn't see a one.  However as we were walking across the common area of the neighborhood we came upon a couple.

Ereptile Dysfunction

We did touristy things like visiting the Bacardi Rum distillery, sailing and snorkeling on the offshore islands, and exploring beaches along the coast. And I ate my annual quota of mofongo (mashed fried plantains).

I decided to make a new bathing suit for the trip.  If you search the internet for bathing suit styles for women over 40, you are advised to wear a one piece in a solid ‘jewel tone” with strategic peats or ruching to detract from the inevitable bumps and lumps of the mature figure.  Well, I went with part of that advice. My suit is a one piece, but there is not a lot ruching or pleats and it is certainly not a solid jewel tone color.  The swimsuit fabric that called to me from my stash was a pink paisley (fabricmartfabrics).  I have wanted to sew this swimsuit from the June 1997 Burda World of Fashion magazine for a long time.

Burda 6 1997  Swimsuit 128
What I liked about the Burda pattern was the interesting front seaming which formed a keyhole opening in the center front.  However after I traced the pattern and read the directions, the “wadder” sensor started tingling.  Fit issues -   minimal coverage in the crotch area front and back and no center back seam to assist in shaping fabric to the lower back and derriere.
 Construction issues:  Though the instructions were the illustrated sewing course for this issue, the methods and instructions were not complete or up to date. The lower back ended in a sharp "V" which was to be faced.  Definitely a potential weak spot. The only elastic used was 1/4 “elastic on the leg openings. None on the front/back neck opening or armholes.  And no elastic cut length measurement were given for the leg opening, just one written  line about using .8 cm  of elastic for every 10 cm of fabric.   

IMHO, successful  one piece swimsuits have 3/8" elastic around every open edge, armholes, leg openings and neck/ shoulder area.   If the pattern instructions do not include elastic cut lengths, I use the guidelines from Singer  Sewing Activewear book.

Elastic Cut Guidelines for Swimsuits
My suit ended up being a combo of two patterns.  The front is from Burda June 1997, swimsuit 128. But the  back is from  OOP Kwik Sew 3064, which has the center back seam U shaped lower back and the butt coverage I prefer. 

One measurement I always check on one piece swimsuit patterns is the torso measurement.

To measure my torso measurement,  I run a tape measure down the back from where the shoulder meets the neck, through the legs and back up the front. (In other words, make a loop).

Measure torso

To determine length adjustments needed for pattern.

Method 1 - If pattern include a torso measurement.

 I have only seen this measurement published in  Stretch and Sew (where it is called overall body measurement) and Jalie patterns. Jalie has a very good Tutorial-sizing

Method 2 - If pattern does not include a torso measurement. 

Divide my torso measurement in half.

Measure either the front or back pattern piece from shoulder to crotch taking into account the seam allowances.

measuring the torso length of the swimsuit pattern

Compare the difference between body measurement and pattern measurement. If body measurement is larger that pattern, the difference is the amount that will needed to be added to both the front and back pattern pieces.  If body measurement is less than pattern measurement,. the difference is the amount that will need to be removed from both the front and back pattern pieces. 

Example: My torso measurement is 62" ( back and front combined).  I divide by 1/2 because I only plan on measuring the front pattern piece. Half of 62" is 31" The Burda pattern front was 30". On the pattern pieces there are length adjustment lines, above and below the waist, where you can remove length (by folding the lower line to the upper), or adding length by slashing the pattern and adding more paper.

I added 1/2" at the upper and lower adjustment lines on both the back and front pattern pieces.  Note that is 2" total when considering the  torso measurement which includes back and front combined.

I also added extra S/A at the shoulder seams in case I needed extra length in the upper back (an alteration I always make for tops and jackets). And I always do a try on of the suit before sewing the shoulder seams and adding the elastic as recommended below.
 The suit is fully lined. The elastic was applied using a zig zag stitch, and top stitching was done with an overlocker.   I am really pleased with how well it fits.
Burda Swimsuit Front

Kwik Sew 3064 back
The champagne is chilling  in preparation for the countdown to the new year.  This year we have a jar of Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup to add to our champagne. The champagne bubbles cause the flower blossom to unfurl and it is so pretty. And you can eat the flower too.
Wishing everyone a wonderful new year!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

New Look 6330 for Travel Wardrobe

I have been spending every other week in Chicago on a work project.  The planes used between Richmond and Chicago are small and carry on space is limited.

 So my Chicago travel wardrobe is minimal, based around gray or black pants and coordinating sweaters and tops I can layer. One pair of comfortable black shoes. One black trench coat.   You get the idea.  This past weekend,  I felt a desperate need for something new to add to the travel wardrobe. But it had to be a quick sew project.   I pulled some wool knits out of my stash and sewed up a long sleeve cardigan View B of New Look 6330 and the T shirt from the same pattern.

This cardigan has princess seams in the front and a shaped center back seam.  All of these seams flare out starting at waist level. This creates a fitted look in the bust area with lots of softly draping fabric around the hips.  The front closure is sort of unique, two large fabric loops, attached on the inside front princess seam, crossover and loop around buttons in the front below the bust creating gathers of the fabric in the front panels. My cardigan is made from a printed wool sweater knit purchased on eBay.  Normally I don’t wear styles that bunch fabric over my tummy and flare around my hips.  But  I think it looks nice in a feminine way.

loop closure

    I loved the fit of the finished cardigan. I had a few hours of sewing time left on Sunday afternoon and decided I could sew a coordinating T shirt in that time.  I assumed if the jacket fit well, the T shirt in the same size would fit just as nicely. So I skipped the "compare the finished garment measurement to my preferred T shirt (ease) measurements" step.   The T-shirt, made of a wool/lycra, is huge and unfitted. The sides can be shaped, but the real problem is the front is too wide between my shoulder points and does the cowl droopy dance in the middle of my chest.   I guess I could remove the neck binding, gather the excess fabric in the center front  and reattach to a small circumference neck binding.   But  I hate unsewing and alterations. It is more fun to start a new project.  So who knows if that will ever happen.

  The Chicago project was successfully completed this past week. Yeah!  The next work project starts in Jan in Pennsylvania.  Boo! However  on the next flight I take,  which is tomorrow, I will be wearing short sleeves and sandals.  As my father liked to say "Snow at Christmas is overrated!"  
Wishing everyone Happy Holidays!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Slits and Slashes

My local ASG neighborhood group, Fashion Focus, has an annual challenge.  This year it was to sew an accessory.  The  meeting presentations during the year leading up the Challenge meeting included related topics like sewing purses and bags, scarves, etc.

I chose to make a couple of leather bags.

Last Christmas we received a gift box of citrus fruit from DH's aunt who lives in FLA.  The fruit was wrapped in plain brown paper, but the paper had slits in it which allowed it  to the conform to the rounded shape of the fruit without being folded. I  thought it was interesting and  saved it for scrap booking/art projects.

 When I saw this bag in a Japanese craft book entitled Leather and Cloth Bags ISBN978-4-529-04843-9, it reminded me of the slit paper.

  This particular bag has an outer layer  made from a large oval of leather with a pattern of cuts that create an expandable mesh.  The liner is a simple drawstring bag made from fabric.  The inner liner bag can easily be made of a variety of fabrics and changed out for different looks.  The book is available from different online sources and contains patterns and instructions for making a variety of bags combining leather and fabric.  I had no difficulties understanding  the drawings showing measurements and construction. My leather was thick and soft.  Similar to a heavy ponte knit.  How to cut slits accurately in soft spongy material?  My solution was to trace the slit pattern, from the book’s pattern sheet, onto freezer paper, iron the freezer paper to the leather and use a very sharp box cutter to do the cutting.
tracing pattern on freezer paper

 I used a straight edge to cut the straight slits and carefully freehanded the curved ones. The freezer paper worked great in stiffening the leather just enough to facilitate cutting. And peeled off  the wrong side of the leather easily leaving no residue.

completed slits

My inner bag was sewn from a homespun weave remnant and a turkey toile ( the name on the selvedge) print.  So appropriate in that the Thanksgiving holiday is coming soon and includes a meal that features turkey.


 This purse is a bit saggy because of the leather I used. My leather stash ( yes, I have a leather stash too!) is mostly soft supple leathers suited for fashion garments.   I  would like to make this purse again from a slightly stiffer leather. I  also found some other cutting patterns  that I would like to try.

From slitting leather to slashing it.

My second bag is a copy of  a Burberry Prorsum Fringed suede tote. There were pictures of this tote in every fashion magazine I read in Sept.

 It is available in burgundy or tan suede and retails for $2,795.

 I used some burgundy suede I had in my stash.  My suede was definitely a poorer quality that the suede used in the BR tote. And the size of my purse was dictated by the widest skin  that I had.   I was able to cut  four 6.5”x 27” rectangles  of the suede for the  fringed side pieces.  But I had to piece the bottom side piece  to make a 4 " by 27" rectangle.  I fringed the long edge of each of 4 side pieces. I put a piece of  low tack painters tape on the back of the suede 3” above the edge as a cutting guideline,  and used the grid on my cutting mat to  keep the rectangles square while I used a rotary cutter and clear ruler to  cut  fringe ¼” wide by 3” long.  .

To stiffen the suede so the bag would hold it's shape, I used iron on interfacing on the side pieces.   I used double sided sticky tape to position the fringed section of one piece over the solid part of the section below and topstitched in place just above the fringe. Similar colored pleather was used for the piping around the bottom and the handle.  There are also ball metal feet on the bottom just like the BP tote  and a magnetic snap on the top edge to hold it closed. I am really tempted to use a gold paint pen and scribe something like "Bluberry Possum" at the top edge where the Burberry Prorsum name is located on the inspiration bag. Same number of letters and easier to remember. I mean, what is a prorsum?  (latin adverb meaning absolutely, entirely, utterly, by all means)

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Fuzzy and Flared for Fall

 I just completed these two garments from one issue of Burda Style magazine.

 I usually average one garment per issue.  And there are a couple other patterns in this issue I liked too.  I started with the slim fit pullover top 112 that is featured in the sewing lesson.

Burda 11 2015 Top 112
  It is semi fitted with French darts in the front and a cut on collar.  There are several variations of this pattern in this issue: sleeveless,  and as a dress  with back darts  and high collar.  I made my top out of a piece of wool blend boucle knit.  I had only 1.33 yards of 54  wide fabric. This pattern caught my eye because it didn't require a lot of fabric.  I put an exposed zipper on one shoulder as shown in the magazine. Without it, the neck opening is too small to pull over my head.  My serger and sewing machine had feed issues with the thick/ thin yarns of this fabric.  They would be sewing along fine until they hit a fat yarn slub and  then no forward motion, but lots of thread buildup.   It took some doing but I got it sewed together

Burda top 112

Burda top 112 exposed shoulder zipper
The skirt is shown in three variations. None of them really appealed to me initially. In fact on the  color blocked version, I thought the point of the light fabric at center front was in an unfortunate place. The line drawing convinced me that it might be a good style for me. 

Burda 11 2015 Skirt  105A

The skirt fits closely through the waist and hips, with separate flared sections at the bottom.   The line drawing turned out to be inaccurate. The flare occurs at the center front and back and at the bottom side seams,  not evenly all round the bottom as the line drawing would have you  believe.  The photo's are accurate. If you have ever done the pattern drafting exercise of adding a flared section to a straight skirt, you may remember that the flaring/opening of the pattern has to be done where you want the folds to appear.  The top edges of the  skirt sections would have had to be curved like the one below for  this line drawing to be accurate.

The top shape of the inserts, with a wider angle than that of the center front and back insert points pushes all the flare  to the middle and sides. Interesting to note for future drafting exercises.

Pattern Pieces Skirt 105

 The skirt has darts in both the front and back  that start at crotch level  and extend up toward the hips.  In the back the dart shapes and the curved center back seam create cupping around the wearers bottom.  As someone who had a wide flat butt (as you will see in an upcoming post about pants) I was ridiculous excited to have this skirt create the illusion of derrière curves. My dress form is not too curvy either, and I even tired to pad her to get a better picture, so there are a lot of wrinkles but you can see the darts start under the curve and end at the highest point

 My skirt fabric was a light weight, crepe weave, black wool.  Burda doesn't  mention a  lining. but I wanted one  because my fashion fabric was not opaque.  After sewing the darts and inserting the flared section into angled corners in the fashion fabric,  I decided to simplify the lining.  I rotated the darts to the waistline and extended the sides, center front, and center back straight down to knee length.  It sewed up quickly and worked well as a lining.

It was too hot and humid today to wear these for more that the picture taking.  But I am headed to Chicago for a week and the predicted temperatures are perfect for wearing my new skirt and sweater.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Of Corset is a Sewing Post

I have had Vogue pattern 7639,  in my pattern stash for a while.The long Labor Day weekend was the perfect time to sew it.

Vogue Pattern 7639

 The pattern envelope description is “Close-fitting blouse has length variation, princess seams, top stitching , boning collar, front hook/eye closing  view AB long sleeves with cuff View C halter back."

I made view A which has is hip length and has long sleeves.  I used a cotton chambray fabric, one of my favorite fabrics.
 I first wore this fabric in RTW chambray “work shirts” back in the mid 70’s.   I had hand embroidered mine with flowers and animals like this one.

 I put a quilt panel on the back of  the work shirt I customized  for my boyfriend, now my DH.  At dinner tonight,  I asked him if we had any pictures of us wearing  those shirts and he surprised me by saying. 'I still have the shirt".  He not only has it, but it still fits.  He said "it was too precious to throw away."  Aww.  That is why he is a keeper. 

Those work shirts were unfitted. This blouse is very fitted. The multiple seaming in the waist and hip area below the bust is similar to seaming used in corsets.  In fact one Etsy seller of this pattern describes it as “corset inspired”.

This pattern uses hook and eyes for the closure on the front and the sleeve cuffs. Specifically ½ inch  hook and eye tape.  The assembly instructions assumes you are using this tape. My attraction to patterns with unusual styling details and closures often causes projects to take extra time to complete, what with the time I spend driving around to the local sewing stores trying to find certain sewing notions, closures, button, or zipper styles.  My local JoAnn’s and Hancock’s did not carry the tape.  A Google  search returned many widths of hook and  eye tape with the most common being the wide type used for bra closures.  I finally found a good picture of the type of tape used on the blouse  from an Etsy seller based in China and after studying it for a while I decided to make my own.

  Basically it is a stripe of woven fabric, double folded with raw edges inside. The hooks or eyes are sewn inside, with only the hook or eye sticking out beyond the tape edge. I use a poly cotton woven sew in interfacing for the tape; lightweight but with body/stiffness. Another hard to find item.

I sewed the hooks and eyes to the inside of the tape using the button setting on my machine. This is basically a zigzag in place stitch. The stitch length is set to 0 so there is no forward movement, with tacking (FIX button on my machine) to tie off the threads.

Machine sewing Eye  to tape

Top stitching the long open edges of the tape together was easy for the eye side.  I just went slowly to avoid hitting the metal legs of the eyes.  There must be commercial machine that does this on the hook piece. One that can maneuver easily around the lumpy hook.  I was able to sew along the edge of the tape between the hooks, stop and pull the hook under the pressure foot and resume sewing on the other side.  I used a zipper foot which acted as one side of the pressure foot, but to feed the fabric evenly, I had to use a finger as the other side like a pressure foot.  You guessed it, the needle tried to sew my finger to the tape.  Not a deep or painful bite, but it did bleed.

Finished tape

My homemade tape was perfect, once it was completed and the blood stains removed.
While I was doing all this sewing I got to thinking about corsets.  I don’t understand the fascination with them, but there sure are a lot of  patterns, sewalongs, and blog posts on how to sew them. One site listed these reasons for buying a corset.

Why buy a Corset ?  Would you like an hourglass figure? Would you like to appear slimmer? Would you like to train your waist into shape? Do you need back or posture support? Would you like a beautiful, authentic lingerie item for the bed room? Do you want to join in the latest fashion trend? If you've answered yes to any of these questions, then an authentic quality corset may be just what you're looking for!

 Um Okay.  Sorry but corsets don’t fit into any part of my life, real or role play.  But I recalled the lacing often found on the back of corsets to cinch waist in, and thought it might be amusing to add lacing to the back of this blouse.

HenriToulouse-Lautrec Woman in Corset
   It was easy enough to do.   I made some long interfaced tabs with metal eyelets and sewed them into the back darts at the waist level.  Some white soutache braid from my stash was used for the lacing.  
Back lacing

Though the pattern calls for boning in the seams below the bust, I didn’t think that would be real comfortable when sitting, so I left it out. Actually the seaming doesn't show up real well even with the top stitching, but the fit is good.

Well, I need to go pack for my business trip to Nashville. Unfortunately, there will only be time for work.  but the following week I am taking a couple days off for a sewing related class. Something I am really excited about. More on that later.