“Whether or not God has kissed your brow, you still have to work. Without learning and preparation, you won’t know how to harness the power of that kiss.”

Twyla Tharp

Sunday, November 22, 2009

More on Jacket and Oh No! A Fabric Mart Sale!!

Okay, so before I even started my day today, my e mail told me that Fabric Mart is having a 20% sale on almost the entire site! And, even though I said I was making due with what I have, I fell off the wagon! Here's what I bought...


3 yards of a basketweave with eyelash accent (don't know why the picture from the site is so bad); 3 yards of a Vera Wang Cotton/Poly weave; 2 skins of Sheep Skin Suede sold by the skin (nice handbags?)

And I only spent $45 with shipping!

Now back to work.....

The collar on this jacket is a pretty large rolled collar and since it is so much a part of the jacket's statement, I wanted to make sure I took some time with it. I interfaced the under collar and am now thinking that it may have been better if I had interfaced both upper and under collars since my fabric is a bit light, but hopefully I'll be okay. Shown here is the collar interfacing and also the collar turned to the right side and basted on the diagonal (albeit somewhat messily) after smoothing it so the under collar was forced slightly underneath. After pressing it this way, I then shaped the collar on a ham and steamed where the roll will be.

The finished collar is basted onto the jacket and I'm only 75% happy with the match. It is close, but if you count the black lines that converge on the tip, I get 7 on the left side and only 6 on the right. Hopefully, no one else will count them!
The pattern only calls for pinning the under collar to the jacket since the upper collar will cover the seam allowance. However, because I am lining the jacket, I wanted to make a back facing, so I have pinned the entire collar on. My pattern piece for the back facing is below. As I mentioned yesterday, I use Connie Long's book when I have no lining guide. In this case it was easy -- place your material for the new pattern piece (I am using Swedish tracing paper here) on top of back pattern, trace off your neck and shoulder. For the width, use the same width as the shoulder area on the front facing. My back is seamed and, since I did not want the facing seamed, I cut off 1 1/4", as shown, and will cut the back facing on the fold.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Using What I Have!

I decided that I wanted to be a bit disciplined and use some patterns I already own and some fabric I already own -- go figure! I decided on V8300, View C.

I cut it out in a medium, filling out to a large at the bottom. I'm not sure it was really necessary since the jacket is open at the bottom, but I like the way it flares out a bit. I tend to like structural things so it works for me. I needed to move the dart down about 1 to 1 1/2 inches and to do that I used the Palmer & Pletsch Real Fit For Real People method of marking where the dart should fall, drawing a square around the dart, cutting it out and moving it down on the pattern piece. Tape it where it belongs, pointing to the new bust point and then go back and tape some tissue or other filler in the missing space. Reshape the side of the pattern to fit the new dart. I had to think about it a bit, but I do think I like this method. It seemed to work well for me.

For my fabric I got to use some beautiful silk suiting. It feels like silk noil, but slightly heavier, as though there is a touch of wool also. My mother had purchased it years and years ago and passed it along to me recently. It's cream and black, but also has a nice line of dark green and another of dark blue, so you have a few different colors you can pair it up with. I do love it. There's a bit of matching and this time, to make certain I was accurate, I used my fabric pieces to cut from. For example, after I cut one front, I left it on the tissue and flipped the whole piece tissue side down onto the fabric and lined it up exactly where it belonged (visual below). I think you can get the idea from the first picture, but I've added a second with some paper in between the two layers so it's a bit clearer. I know I've learned this trick from a fellow sewer rather than one of my books, so apologies that I cannot remember so I can give credit.

In my case the front and back of the fabric is the same, so you have to be careful to mark which is which before you transfer your markings so you don't end up with two right fronts. (Can you tell I've done that one before??)

It calls for loops, but I didn't think loops would look good with the plaid fabric. The fabric would just get lost. Since I'm pretty sure my buttons will have some black in them to make the jacket more versatile, I decided on black cord/rattail instead and I think it's probably a good choice. It seems to stand out the way I want.

The pattern doesn't call for a lining, but I prefer a lining and the fabric definitely needs the body of a lining. Unfortunately, it doesn't have a back facing, so I've turned to Connie Long's Easy Guide to Sewing Linings. The link I've included is for the E Book, but I have the paper copy, which is definitely my preference -- I spend enough time looking at a computer! This wonderful book has step by step directions for making a lining for all possible situations. In this case, it will be easiest if I make a back facing to attach my lining to and, of course, there are directions for how to do that and it's quite easy. I'll also use her directions for cutting lining pieces, since none come with the pattern. I'm using black ambiance rayon bemberg for my lining.

I've promised myself I'll quit before I get tired, so I'm done for the day. Next step is interfacings, collar, facings, sleeves, then lining. I've sent away for my bemberg so that may hold me up for a bit.

By the way, I saw the Iris Apfel exhibit yesterday at the Peabody Essex Museum. It was truly inspiring! You'll want to throw away everything in your closet -- it will all seem so unimaginative! My mother gave me and my sister a wonderful present of the book, Iris Apfel, Rare Bird of Fashion, Thank you!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Swishy Skirt!

I love, love, love this pattern!

I was in Sym's a couple of weeks ago and tried on a skirt that I loved -- slim through the hips and flaring out at the bottom. But, it was far too long and too much detail would have been lost had I shortened it. The very next day, on Pattern Review, this Burda pattern was reviewed and it had the exact look I wanted.
I had some black cloth in my stash that had a wonderful drape and was a nice cooler weather weight. It came together really well, but with some caveats. First, I want to talk a bit about the seams and topstitching. The front and back are each comprised of 3 pieces that are put together at angles. It is designed well because it sews together with no problem. On the topstitching, I tried something I had picked up from Anne at Apple Annie Fabrics (one of my very favorites) and that is to thread my machine needle with two strands of thread in the same needle and topstitch with a very long stitch (I used a 4). I did this and loved it! But, as you can see, when I went back to do the seam on the left the next day, I forgot to adjust my stitch length and didn't see it until the end. I hate when I space it and do something like that! Carolyn asked last week what we hate and, having just finished my skirt, that was my contribution. The fabric was such that it could not be picked out without risking harming the skirt.



If you click on the picture you can see the stitching in more detail. The double thread and long stitch does look nice.


I said I had some caveats and here it is. The skirt calls for a side zipper and facings. The reviews in Pattern Review also warned that it fit very, very tightly. So, I stuck strictly to the size chart, but when I basted the sides, I could pull it on and it still had plenty of ease. I took out an inch on the sides through the hip and waist area and it was still the same. My fabric had enough crossgrain stretch that it really behaved like a double knit. So, I decided to fold over the top 1", and insert a 3/4" elastic. I really didn't want to do this, but when it's on there is really no obvious extra fullness. I'm enclosing a side view as well, and you can see some fullness there, but I think that is more a combination of the fabric and the way I'm standing.



This is a pattern I will definitely revisit in another season and play with some more. I really do love the look and hopefully I'll find the right combination of size and cloth!

I'm off on Friday to the Iris Apfel exhibit -- I hear it is wonderful...

If I don't post again before next week, have a wonderful Thanksgiving. If you are driving, be safe!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Iris Apfel Exhibit

If you're in New England in the next couple of months, there is an exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum that looks like great fun. It's Rare Bird of Fashion: The Irreverent Iris Apfel, and it's there now through February 7. What looks particularly interesting is Friday evening, December 4 which features conversation between Iris and Michael Vollbracht followed by a fashion show and Saturday, December 5, which is a complete day of fashion with a variety of goings-on that are described in full on the website.

Salem is a great town to hang out in and just a stone's throw from Boston, so if you have the chance, it might be interesting. I hope to get there this week, but in case I don't make it there for a bit, I wanted to spread this news around for those who may have missed it.

The Boston Globe had this to say about the exhibit. "This show is strictly about a New York woman who, for the past 70 years, has possessed an uncanny skill for putting together Nina Ricci dresses with tag sale brooches or pairing African beads with a Bill Blass jacket - and making it look perfectly fabulous. She started mixing high end and low end decades before it was the norm. Her natural flair for styling bold ensembles has inspired designers from Jason Wu to Isaac Mizrahi."

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Little Knitting, A Little Sewing

I've finally finished a scarf I have been making for DS for too many months now. I loved the look of it when I started -- the stitch creates a very flat scarf with a handsome, subtle herringbone pattern that looks more woven than knit. The edges are very different as well. The pattern was a download from knitty.com


It was a tad tedious since it is knit lengthwise with 452 sstitches, a very fine yard and #2 needles. But it does look nice, and not too home-made. I think he'll like it.


I feel like it has been forever since I accomplished anything substantial sewing. I'm a tad frustrated and bit bit all over the place. There's a part of me that still isn't sure what I want to sew. I'd like some TNTs so everything isn't such a production, but I've not developed any yet. I also struggle with making things that fit my lifestyle which is mostly at home vs making something really extraordinary.

I thought I wanted to perfect a v neck jersey pattern since I have no experience with knits, but after a couple of attempts, I've decided to put that aside for a bit. It seems like so much work for a jersey or Tee, although, I know that once I master some of the details, I will have something (many somethings) that are much nicer than I will find in your average department store. It also messes with my sense of order to work on fabric that doesn't lay nicely the way wovens do.

Can you tell I'm not in a good place sewing wise? Too many choices and not enough focus -- not even quite sure what style I want to be. Loose and artsy like Sewing Workshop? Tailored a la Vogue and Burda? And then there's always the ten pounds I want to lose before making a commitment to a skirt pattern because this really isn't my size (Oh, dear, how long have I been saying that for?) Does anyone else get like that?

I have been playing a bit with fleece as you can see from an earlier post. I had the opportunity to purchase double sided fleece in several beautiful colors. I just finished this Lois Ericson vest. I love the lines in this pattern, the back angles deeply into the front for an asymetrical look that I think is slimming kind of funky.

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The pattern did run quite big I thought. Although it didn't call for darts, as you can see I had to add them to get rid of the gaping in the front armholes. I also took it apart once it was finished to slice an inch off the back seam and then resewed so it was a bit slimmer.




It's a great showcase for the fleece and is certainly easy. But, now I really have to get with it and work on something requiring a bit more skill!