“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

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Creating A Skirt Pocket


I had made a muslin for my daughter in law for a short, mostly straight skirt, with a faced waistline.  The fit was good but when she wanted pockets, I went in search for a skirt pattern with slash pockets and no waistband.  I really didn't feel like re-inventing the wheel.  I was surprised when I couldn't find a pattern exactly the way I wanted it.  So, I began reading up on how to create this.  I also needed to be careful not to interfere with the darts in the skirt front.

Here is my first pattern draft with the pocket drawn out in red. 
  • I started my pocket 2" in from the side seam and, as you will see later in this post, I think it was not in far enough.  I ended the pocket about 6 inches down and then drew in a 1/2 inch seam allowance.
  • Once the beginning point for the pocket is established on the waist, I drew out another line on the waist an additional 2 inches in for the top of the pocket to attach and be sewn in to the facing.  
  • From that point, I drew a line down about 7 inches and began to shape the pocket bag, connecting it to the side seam, making sure to leave enough of the pocket bag to sew into the seam allowance.  And, I added plenty of notches to match everything up later.  

Once this was drawn out, I placed more tracing paper on top to create the actual pattern piece with the pocket edge.


Then the pocket facing and the pocket bag were traced over the original pattern.  The facing, of course, will be cut from the fashion fabric.  For the bag, since the fashion fabric is wool, I will use a lining fabric to cut down on bulk.  The pocket opening will have to be stabilized so it will not stretch out with use. 


Muslin made up.  As I mentioned earlier in the post, I had only drawn my pocket beginning 2 inches in from my side seam.  I think that is way too too close.  As you can see, I've drawn a line on the muslin an inch further in to see if that will be a better placement.  I think it will be.
 


Hopefully, this all works out.  I'll post more once the muslin has been fitted.

Slan

Sunday, December 15, 2013

When You Need A Little Gift

Something for the ladies I sew with on Tuesdays...

Linen sachets.  Machine embroidered with African Wire Work design from Hatched In Africa.  Black velvet loop for hanging.  Antique buttons from my collection (I do hate to part with my vintage buttons, but these ladies are special).  Sachets are stuffed with crushed balsam fir needles.  Sweet  and simple.

Slan

Friday, December 6, 2013

Vogue 1274, Lynn Mizono Shirt

I have always been drawn to very structured architectural shirts.  And so, when I saw this shirt by Lynn Mizono, I knew that I wanted to make it.  I could have chosen a much more interesting fabric, but I was contemplating doing it as a class and therefore chose something from the fabric store I work at part time.  It is a grey and white cotton, 44" wide.  I mention that because what I failed to notice on the pattern back was that it called for 60" fabric.  Since I made the XS it didn't end up being a problem, but the shirt is asymmetric and the pieces are large and front and back are cut separately.  If you are making the larger sizes, you will need the wide fabric.  Apologies for the pic -- my shirt is not sitting very nicely on my form which looks a bit busty here.  No one was home to take a shot of the shirt on me, but if I get a good one later, I'll post it.

I made View B.  I cut the XS because the few reviews that I read said that it ran very large, and also because it flairs so much at the bottom that there is no need to worry about hip size.  It is nicely constructed, calling for french seams throughout.  It also has 8 corners which could have looked very unprofessional if sewn straight across, so I took the extra time to miter all 8 of them and I am happy that I did.

 It is definitely different and, I am afraid, not one of my favorite shirts.  As you can see from the side view, I have tucked the 'wings' in.  The other option, as you can see from the technical drawings are to leave them out, bring them together in the back and button them.

 


Be aware if you want this effect, you need to be certain that you have cut a size large enough as this takes up a lot of the ease through the hips.  I am choosing to let it fall.

The sleeves also have this 'wing' which I chose to fold over and secure it with a button.  It's an interesting look that I like. 

Why don't I like it?  It is so large and architectural that it really has to be worn with leggings or very slim pants and a heel so as not to overwhelm me.  I also think that, though I am drawn to these designs, they may not be flattering on me.  I am only 5'3" and I think they are pulled off better by someone taller. I think my next effort will be something more tailored.


I have also noticed that many sewers are working on 'swaps' -- putting pieces together for a wardrobe in coordinating fabrics.  I really want to give this a try.  Sewing 'as I'm drawn to things' leaves a wardrobe that is a bit incomplete and I'd like to correct that.  So, I got it this shirt out of my system, and will wear it, but it will not be a 'go to' piece.  

For those who share my love of architectural design in clothing, there is an exhibit currently at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA on Avant-Garde Japanese Fashion which has a lot of these looks.  

Slan

Sunday, December 1, 2013

And, Of Course, The Veil And Belt On The Bride


We had a beautiful wedding three weeks today and I just had to share. As I share, I'm trying to include at least a couple that show off her veil to its best advantage.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, Sarah did want a blusher, and she wanted the longest part of the veil to fall to her fingertip.  The blusher, when worn back, would fall to about her elbow.

I think we managed to make that happen.  (I especially love her fuchsia shoes!)

We also wanted the veil to be very sheer so that when the blusher was over her face, you could still see through it quite well.  Since we used silk tulle, it was no problem.

 The other advantage of silk tulle is that if falls so softly.  There is no stiffness to it at all.  It really is very lovely, though prohibitive unless you are making something this special.

You can get a good look at the alencon trim here. Eight yards were sewn on by hand, following the lines of the lace to secure it well and to hide my stitches.

 

Sarah hand beaded the belt she is wearing.  We tried several on when we bought the gown, but the prices were steep and now we know why!  She had never beaded before, but found a design she liked which we then transferred onto ivory silk via a light board.  And then the hours of hand beading began.  But it was well worth it!



And, the rest, well just sharing!  Bride and groom with me and Steve...

Bride and groom with Jeff's parents...

with Jeff's sister......

And with Sarah's brother and sister-in-law who were married two year's ago...

A wonderful day!
Slan

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Bridal Veils

I've enjoyed all of your posts over the past couple of months, but feel like I've 'gone missing'.  Life has been busy between selling our home in late March that we had been in for 28 years and moving into a condo with wonderful sewing space!  April brought our daughter's engagement and announcement that they would get married n November!  Summer brought failing health and passing for my father-in-law just shy of his 90th birthday.  We should all live so long, but sad that he will miss his youngest granddaughter's wedding.

I knew that with such a short engagement, I couldn't undertake the wedding gown with confidence but did want to contribute in some way so decided to do the veil.  Sarah wanted a fingertip veil with an elbow length blusher.  It would be attached to a comb rather than any kind of headpiece.  I read through lots and lots of articles, tutorials, and books, and still I found myself struggling at the end, though we are happy with the result.

First, for the materials.  I chose silk tulle, despite it's prohibitive price, because it is so much softer and falls so nicely, with no stiffness at all.  I am sure I could have found it on line, but ended up ordering it from Delectable Mountain Cloth in Brattleboro, Vermont.  They only stock natural fibers and the shop has so many beautiful fabrics!  

I trimmed it with 8 yards of re-embroidered alencon lace which I hand-stitched to the tulle.  This was an amazingly slow process - taking 12 hours!


I used two yards of tulle and folded it in quarters in order to curve the edges.  I then unfolded it and refolded it so that the top layer came down the the elbow length we wanted.  The lace was sewn to the top layer first and then to the underneath layer.  Because you want the right side of the lace to show, there is a spot where the two layers meet where the lace switches from one side to the other and you need to be careful to match your motifs. 


If I did this again, I would probably cut it differently, less of an oval/rectangle and more of a circle.  Because I had not cut a circle, my dilemna was that if I gathered only a small amount in the center, the ends would fall into points with the middle a shorter length.  I didn't like that at all.  But I also didn't want to gather the whole width and have the lace framing her face.  So, as a compromise I left 20 inches on each side and gathered approximately 32 inches in the center and attached it to the comb.  This worked well because the tulle frames her face and the lace falls into three layers, at her shoulders, elbow and fingertop.  After all, if you sew lace for 12 hours you want it to show!

The wedding is in 8 days so I will follow with more pictures on the bride.

Slan

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Vogue 8665 Finished

When you see the dress for Sarah's shower you'll realize I changed fabric from my original post!  Both fabrics are from Sawyerbrook in Clinton, MA.  It is a very sheer cotton and, rather than lining it, I decided it underline it with a natural color batiste.  For anyone who may be new to underlining, I've shown below the fashion fabric placed on top of the batiste ready for the pattern pieces to be placed and cut.

 
Because of the underlining, I wanted my fabric to lay flat rather than folded selvage to selvage.  So, for my center panel, which is cut on the fold, I made a new pattern piece so the panel could be cut in it's entirety. I mentioned in my earlier post that I added an inch to this center panel because I felt I needed it through the bust and waist.  Once the dress was finished, I thought the neckline seemed not quite snug enough so beginning about 5 inches down from the neckline, I gradually took that inch out in each of the princess seams.  Since the binding was already on, I removed the binding to shorten it and reattached it.  The other adjustment I made was to pull the shoulder seam up about 1/2 inch to make the little cap sleeve snug up a bit rather than sticking out at an angle. 



When I underline, I do a lot of basting of the two fabrics.  I baste each piece first in the center, followed by diagonal basting on each side, and lastly more basting in an outline around the whole piece. It's time consuming, but worth the effort not to have any fabric shift as you're putting the pieces together.  And, as long as you're not in a great hurry, it's kind of soothing.  I just know that when I go down to my sewing room, I'm going to do a certain number of pieces, and that's all.


Also, because of the underlining, I decided that I would do a lapped zipper with the underside put in by machine and the lapped side hand pricked.  I think this is a really nice finish and one that gives you a lot of control.  When I do the hand pricked side, I place tiger tape along the fold to make certain that my pricked stitches are perfectly aligned away from the fold.  The following pictures are pretty blurry, but you get the idea. 



The pattern calls for store bought single fold tape for the sleeves and the neckline, but I find that making your own bias tape is easier, prettier, and softer, in addition to more economical.  And, I don't like top stitching on a dressier dress so I hand stitched it down.



Voila!
 
And, to keep the dress from being too demure, strappy heels and purple toes!

  

Slan

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

New Dress By Marci Tilton

It is hot in New England!  I think almost every day in July has been well over 90 degrees which is very unusual for New Hampshire.  And, I really needed clothes that can withstand the heat. (I feel like I am always sewing in the wrong season and that I need to learn to sew ahead.  It may be time to abandon summer sewing and think about that Fall wardrobe!) I've seen several reviews of Vogue 8876 by Marci Tilton and decided to give it a try with some lemon/lime cotton embossed with white threaded designs.  Most of the reviews I read said that it ran very large so I made a size 10 right out of the envelope and was happy with the result.  This is one or two sizes smaller than I would normally cut. 







It has some nice visual interest with a curvy front panel, inverted pleats in the front, pockets, box pleat in the back, a very wide band at the hem, and a stand up collar.  HMM - busy!  It was easy to put together and you can't ask for anything cooler.  It's nice and fitted through the shoulders and bust so you don't look too matronly and yet it stands away from your body on those days when you just can't stand to have any fabric too close. The collar calls for a ribbon to be threaded through it to gather it up a bit, but I just haven't found something I like yet.  I may just opt to make a fabric tie and call it done. As I look at the pictures, it appears to me as if the back is skewed, but don't be put off, I've pulled to box pleat off the the sides with my hands in the pockets.  For those who are not as short as I am (5' 2") you may want to be careful of the length.  I did not adjust the length at all and it came to my knee.  This is very unusual for me.  Normally, I would have to adjust the length by at least a couple of inches. 


 



I've not abandoned my dress for my DD's shower.  My pima cotton came in for the underlining but I really thought it was not quite fine enough and opted instead for batiste.  I hope to get it cut out today.

Slan

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Vogue 8665 Sweet Summer Dress

Oh, nothing is more unflattering than muslin!  I just made up Vogue  8665 as a muslin for a quick summer dress.  I like the lines, though when I saw the muslin, I am thinking that it looks better if you are that tall and thin!  But I am plunging forward.

I don't like where the princess seams sit, I think they need to be further apart, so I added 1/2 inch to the center piece (am adding it where it is cut on the fold so I don't disturb the lines of the dress) and am much happier.  If it seems like it needs to be nipped in I can do it at the side seam.
 

 
Adding the 1/2 inch through off the neckline just a bit and I was happy with the neckline so I am taking up the shoulder/sleeve seam just a 1/4 inch on each side.  Losing that 1/2 inch on the small cap sleeve also tightened it up so it didn't resemble 'wings' which I don't like.  I am making it up in this very light cotton from Sawyerbrook.  The picture doesn't quite show the pretty turquoise color along with the gray and white.  It is too light to be solo so I have ordered white pima cotton and am still trying to decide whether to line it or underline it.  Because there are 6 vertical seams, I thinking underlining might work better?


I'm on hold until my white fabric arrives.  Fingers crossed.  If it comes out well, it will be for DD's bridal shower in August.  I've not done a lot of sewing for myself lately so I'm a bit skittish.  I also tend to avoid fitted things and go for a boxier look but I'm trying to be more versatile!

Slan

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Completed Shirt!

Well, my first shirt is completed.  It was a great learning experience.  Some things I am happy with and others are on the list to be done either differently or better next time around.  I did the seams with a flat fell foot and am mostly happy with them.  One thing I did want to share was David Page Coffin's method for putting on a cuff.  (He uses this same process for the collar band and I wish I had known it at the time because I think my band would have been better had I used it).  He puts the outer cuff onto the shirt first, right sides together.  He then adds the interfacing and the inner cuff and stitches the top only, ending before the curves.  He then folds the shirt sleeve so as not to catch is while the cuff is sewn along the around the curve and a couple of inches into the pleated area where it attaches to the shirt.  The end result is a perfect fit, with no fudging fabric that doesn't quite fit.  For a really, really good explanation, his book is a great reference.



Monogrammed, of course....
And, finished.....

The sleeves are a little too full and I will take an inch or so out next time.  I found the process a lot of work, but rewarding, and DH is happy!

Slan


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Men's Shirts

DH has been patiently waiting for over a year for me to begin to work on a sport shirt for him.  The impetus for it is that he doesn't like a standard shirt that he can buy in just any color.  What he loves is the shirts he sees in more cutting edge shops that have vibrantly patterned collar bands, cuffs, plackets (you get the picture).  But, they cost considerably more than he will allow himself to spend on a non work shirt.  He's always looked at me with those sad eyes and said you can do it, can't you? 

And, for good reason, I've dragged my heels.  A well made shirt is not something that you can pull off quickly and the shirt I'm working on for him now is making me feel like a beginner sewer again.  I've had David Page Coffin's book on Shirtmaking for a while now and have read through it.  Carolyn has also made some beautiful shirts for her boys. 

So, with trepidation I have begun.  I'm using an older Vogue pattern because I had trouble finding a more classic shirt with the back pleat and fuller cut.  And, my fabric combinations are below.  The brown paisley will be for the inside of the collar band, the placket and the inside of the cuff. 

I have mostly followed the instructions that came with the pattern since it is my first time out, but in some instances, I have deferred to Coffin.  For instance, Coffin has you attach the shirt to the inside of the yoke, fold  the outside of the yoke over the seam allowance and stitch it down in the same size edgestitching as the yoke back.  I have to admit I did like that finish better.  (The pattern instructions called for attaching shirt front to yoke front and stitching the back over the seam allowance by hand). 


I've just done one of the sleeve plackets and I used the Vogue pattern piece and instructions.  I will definitely defer to Coffin for my next shirt.  When you look at the two pattern pieces you will see why.  On Coffin's placket piece you will see that the tall narrow piece has a square shape so that when you form the triangle, you have a little 'roof' over it that keeps everything neat and professional looking.  On the Vogue piece you folded over a 1/4 hem on both sides of the triangle -- a little messy and more room for error.  I am thinking I don't like my placket very well, but since I'm treating this first shirt as a test, I will leave it.



That's all for now -- more will follow.

Slan