Sunday, February 19, 2017

Tunics - Slim or Swim

 I am still experimenting with different styles to wear to work, since the dress code went to anything goes casual 2 years ago.   I read style blogs for "mature" women , with topics like how to wear cropped pants, over the knee boot, best skirt length, etc.  I  participate in online “determine your style” challenges.  I carefully consider the “wear a scarf that echoes your personal coloring” or “wear simple garments with statement necklaces” advice. All quite interesting, but when I try many of these recommendations, I always feel I am physically fighting style and color preferences that are deeply etched in my brain tissue. Now I understand why my Aunt Sylvia stuck with her beehive hairdo and dressed strangely for many years.  

Recently I decided to try adding some tunic tops in my work wardrobe.

The first one was See and Sew  B6272,  which is the same pattern as Vogue 8962, minus the skirt. Both are now out of print. 
Vogue  8962


Yes, I am really late to the party. There are many versions/reviews online that I did not read until after I made mine, which was a good thing.  I selected the See and Sew pattern based on the line drawing ( the pattern front picture is ugly!) because it had a slim silhouette and some interesting seaming. There is a back yoke and the lower back pieces are cut on  the bias and wrap around to the front. Great seaming to use with a stripe or linear patterned fabric.  My fabric was a gray, black white abstract stripe knit purchased from  the Louise Cutting booth at the sewing Expo.  It was expensive, so I had only purchased 1.5 yards.  Not enough fabric to make this tunic with the cowl collar. And the neckline without the cowl collar was way too deep and wide. I added back 1 inch on each side of the neck and  2 inches at center front.  I finished the neck with  self-fabric binding.

  I did not have any of the fit issues,  or criticism of lack of fullness in the back or side seam pulling, that were prevalent in the negative reviews.  I think because  this is a slim fit tunic,  the location and contour of a individual’s hip/butt curve  has a big impact on the fit. There were no finished garment measurements on the pattern pieces so I did the measuring myself  before cutting, to ensure the size I was making had enough ease.  I made a size 14 which had 7 inches of ease over my hip body measurement. I wore the tunic to work  with jeggings ( Eddie Bauer travel pant) and a skirt (Pamela perfect pencil  skirt).  I got asked why I was so dressed up when I wore it with the skirt.

Slim tunic with jeggings

Slim tunic back

Slim tunic with skirt

My second tunic sew  was a Nancy Zieman pattern, McCall's 7474, a very loose-fitting tunic with a deep cowl neckline, front insert, back V-shaped insert and shaped hemline.

When a fellow sewer brought her version of this  tunic, made in an ombre fabric, to the sewing guild meeting Show and Tell, I was smitten. I had the perfect  fabric in my stash. Gray/cream marled  poly lycra knit with brown ombre overprint borders, from the G Street Fabrics $2.97 table.  I bought the pattern on the way home from the meeting and finished the tunic the  next day.  The seaming on this tunic was perfect for highlighting the ombre shading. But oh my, there a lot of fabric in  the flare of this tunic. 20 inches  of ease over  my hip measurement. All very drapey and swirly, but I  felt like I was swimming in fabric. And  I made a size M even though my measurements put me squarely in a size 16 or L. Below is the tunic worn with wide leg pants. It doesn't look bad, but it is definitely a " hide my body shape" look.

McCall's 7474 front

McCall's 7474 Side

McCall's 7474 Back

I wore it to work with stretch woven grey jeggings (Walmart).

McCall's 7474  with jeggings

I was comfortable, but very aware of all the fabric.  I had to make sure to gather up the fabric in the back when using the toilet, to avoid accidental dipping.  I actually got a compliment from a male coworker who said "You look nice in that outfit." It is both telling and sad that my first thought on hearing this was "Gee Mark, you must be overdue for  anti-harassment training refresher."  Our corporate  training on that subject is so severe it suggests not making any compliments on a person's appearance, lest it be interpreted negatively.

The pattern is easy to make and the instructions were good. Only puzzler was they have you cut fusible interfacing in 3/8" bias strips and apply them to  the hems , necklines and armholes, aligning the edge of  the interfacing to the edge of the fabric. That means the interfacing is 1/4 from the seam line.  I would think it would be important to interface/stabilize the seam line on the neck line and armhole, not the edge of the fabric.  And the interfacing on the hem edge, I was not sure what the purpose of that was. I had a mental discussion  with Nancy  Z. on those instructions, and decided to use the Burda method instead.  Which is to apply interfacing strip over the seam line, and  only on armholes and neck seam lines.

Conclusion, I will wear the 1st tunic more than the second. And both with jeggings.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Blue Burda 1 2017 Top 118

I, like many others was about to give up my Burda subscription when the 2017 issues started to arrive.  This top caught my eye.

The pattern is available for download from the BurdaStyle web site Criss-Cross Top   The upper  front has V-shaped pleats and overlapping bands secured to the side seams.  A style which adds “stuff” in the right place on my pear shape, no bust body. I traced the pattern, added the markings for pleats and band locations, and cut out the fabric with the appropriate seam allowances. All good, then I read the sewing instruction and tried to follow them.   I could not figure out what center seam they wanted me to sew  or how to form the pleats. Part of the confusion may have been my early morning  brain fog. But I had total frustrated  until I decided to folded the paper pattern along all the pleat lines.  Then the  fog cleared.


The red lines are the center front.  I thought the center front line at the bottom was part of some fancy complicated pleat. When you fold the pleats the three  red line  align to form the center front.

 Center front seam is from neckline point to fold line for first pleat. 

Front with center front seam sewn and pleats

After that the sewing was smooth sailing. The fabric is some kind of super stretch woven, with a crinkled surface, probably poly/rayon/lycra, that I picked up off the giveaway table at a recent sewing retreat. It was the perfect fabric for this top. I did not need a zipper in the center back seam because of the stretchiness of the fabric. I  initially sewed up the top without the bands to make sure it fit in the waist and hips. The top actually looks good without the bands as there is a “V” at the center front of the peplum, but be aware the front peplum waist seam does not align with the back peplum waist seam. The bands covers the the front peplum waist seam. I  also made my normal alterations, lengthening the back, added back shoulder darts, and the reduced shoulder seam by ½ inch.

Burda  1 2017 top 118

Burda 1 2017 118 back

I really like this top.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Chile Trip Report

I have returned from my two week trip to Chile.  I had a wonderful time, but I seemed to come back with a severe case of lazy blogger.  So I set a goal to post this trip update while watching the Super Bowl game. My team is not playing so I am watching for the commercials.  And if I am typing I will not be eating greasy finger food snacks. Right?  So here goes.
 It was wonderful to see my oldest son again and to have him give us a tour of the South American country where he has been living and working for the last year. It was the trip of a lifetime.
The  base for our many excursions was Santiago, the capital city and home for half the country’s population.   It is miles and miles of grey concrete buildings interspersed with occasional  buildings and churches built  many hundreds of years ago and the Andes Mountains towering in the east.

We spent the first few days in the city visiting the markets, museums and historical sites. My favorite museum was  the  Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombro, It is devoted to the indigenous people of Chile  and had some of the finest pre-Columbian  pottery, jewelry and textiles  I have ever seen.

Female Figures

Vase with Rattles in legs. Used in Ceremonies
Statue of god wearing a flayed skin of a human. Gave me chills

The textile exhibit was my favorite, but it was displayed in a  room with special lighting and no pictures were permitted. I bought the exhibition guide which was very good, showing the actual stitching, weaving or knitting technique used to create the fabrics.

Our first trip out of the city was  to the Concho De Toro winery, via the Metro and a local bus.  Concho de Toro is the number 2 wine company in the world behind Gallo. Best winery tour I have ever been on. You can walk in a special section of the vineyard where all varieties of their grapes are growing and taste the grapes right off the vine. I posed by the grapes used to make a Chilean brandy called Picso.

The wine cellars are old and underground. There are three generous wine tastings as part of the tour, and the complimentary wine glasses even made it back to the US in my suitcase.

On New Years Eve I followed a  Chilean New Years  tradition guaranteed to bring me happiness and good times in the new year.
You wear yellow underwear inside-out until midnight when you put them on properly. Ideally the underwear should have been given to you as a gift. And no, underwear that used to be white and is now yellow from being unwashed so long does NOT count.

  Mine was purchased from a street vendor and worn inside out until midnight  when I put them on correctly. 
Street vendor - yellow good luck underwear

Well not exactly midnight because we walked a couple blocks from my son’s apartment to the main Av Liberator Bernardo O’ Higgins to join hundreds of Chilean families celebrate the new year. Kids shot off  huge tubes of  confetti   and adults  drank champagne.  Standing in a huge crowd of people in Jan wearing  shorts and a tank top and  watching fireworks was a unique experience for this  northern hemispherian.

On News Years day we flew to Easter Island. I have wanted to visit this place since I was in grade school.  My elementary  school had only two educational movies and we saw them  multiple times a year.  One was a black and white movie about Easter Island and the over 800 huge carved heads , moais found all over the island.    The island is 3000 miles or a 5 hour flight from Santiago, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with nothing nearby. The natives of this island have  Polynesian ancestors and speak that language. The majority of the island is a national park, with only one small town. First stop after getting off the plane is not luggage pickup, but the park kiosk in the airport to buy park admission tickets (cash only)  We stayed in a small but modern cabana a couple blocks from the town of Hanga Roa.  It is a beautiful, clean island. The weather was gorgeous  80’s, light breeze and no humidity.   The moai are everywhere and awe inspiring .

We  climbed to the top one of four volcano cones on the island for an great view of the water filled cone (crater lake and the sea beyond.

Locals put on “Cultural” dance shows.  Very fun. The dancers wear authentic attire and many of the tattoos are real. I enjoyed watching these guys dance.

The band wore the same lack type of clothing. When the stocky band leader  proudly walked across the stage to his seat and I saw the large circular tattoos he had on his butt cheeks, I almost lost it. The girl dancers had some fantastic hip action. Son #1 got pulled up on stage for the audience participation dance. The girls removed his shirt, but let him keep his pants on.  Wheh! Mom was getting a little uncomfortable.

We returning to Santiago for a few days to wash clothes and rest up and then we flew north to the city of Calama and traveled by bus to  the town San Pedro de Atacama.

A true oasis in the middle of one of the Atacama desert, one of the driest in  the world, it is surrounded by other worldly landscapes.

We visited salt flats with lagoons full of flamingos,

Young Family Portrait - 1970's record album style

valleys of steaming geysers,

and little dusty towns where these guys  wandered the streets.

Llamas on the hoof

One of their friends was in a pen outside a shop that offered classes in  wool dying and spinning.  I would have loved to have had time to take some classes. Llama kabobs were available at one of the tour stops.

Llama kabobs

We flew back to Santiago and then off again on a  two hour bus ride to visit Valparaiso and  Vina del Mar, the twin cities of Chile’s Central coast.  Though they share a harbor, they are very different. Valparaiso has colorful houses on steep hills, like San Francisco.

Our hostel was at the top of one of them . We took the funicular as high as it would go and then we had to walk.  While we huffed and puffed our way to the top we admired the gorgeous street art on many of the buildings.

Vina Del Mar  has a nice beach, but the water was about 50 degrees. Son # 2 gamely went in and played in the waves for about 10 minutes and came out mumbling about “body parts retracting and nipples that could cut steel”.  All because he wanted to be able to say he had swum in the Pacific Ocean. 

 The food was good.  I ate lots of fish, either grilled or as ceviche.  Beef was also  plentiful, which my guys liked. Potatoes were served with everything.  I am not a potato fan.  The markets had a wonderful variety of fruits and vegetables as it was summertime.  Chile exports  a lot of fruit and wine.  The peaches and blueberries I have in my kitchen now came from Chile.  But I was amused to see a USA  sticker  on the apples I bought in Santiago. Wines from the vineyards around Santiago were inexpensive and excellent.  And I drank my share of Pisco Sours, a Peruvian/Chilean cocktail made with brandy, lime juice, simple syrup and egg whites. 

My travel wardrobe worked well.  I loved my cross body bag with water bottle compartment. It probably marked me as a tourist, but boy did I need that water bottle in the desert. Most women in Santiago,  no matter what size or shape, wore tight leggings or jeans with longer sleeveless tops.  So I fit right in. Outside of the city  I wore my reversible shorts to death, mostly on the dark side but occasional on the white side. The garment I wore the most, that I threw in the suitcase at the last minute, was a tencel "denim" shirt. It worked great as lightweight protection from the sun and as a layering piece for warmth in the evening.

Sorry, but there was no sewing related sightseeing or shopping.   Back to regular blog programming in the next post.