So, remember that fabric fast for the rest of the year I announced a few weeks ago? I specifically excepted blue velveteen and lining for a planned coat, so I took advantage of that loophole post-haste. Of course, then it immediately plunged below freezing, where it has hovered for the past several weeks (ugh!!!!!), and nothing less than my Inauguration coat will do, so the intermediate (high 30s to mid-40s/about 2-8 degrees C) coat project has been back burnered.
I ordered the velveteen from Fabric.com, thinking velveteen would be a better choice than full velvet because, as I learned in my disastrous foray into a beautiful velvet, I can't have nice things. I carefully read the laundering instructions, which said it could go in the washing machine. So I pre-washed and it came out horrible and crinkled! I was so mad! But then I let it air dry and voila, the nap was restored. Velveteen is definitely a better choice for me.
I got the poly print as a lining, but decided that I don't like it for my blue coat. It will be used a lining eventually for something, so I'm not worried.
The purple knit was not permitted. The product code indicated that it was a Vera Wang poly knit. I bought 10 yards of the nude-colored VW poly knit to use as knit linings and it is wonderful. Although it was priced significantly above the $1.95/yd I paid for the nude, I threw it in. I am planning a Kate Middleton/Issa-inspired dress out of it and the serger is threaded in purple right now so I think I am still within my technicality as I did not allow purchasing for stash purposes. If it gets sewn before getting shelved (yeah, it's still hanging up from the pre-wash a couple weeks ago) it never becomes stash, right?
And why is the serger threaded in purple? Well, it's my mom's favorite color and the holidays are coming up... Stay tuned.
As I mentioned in my frenzy of sewing and posting the last couple weeks, I was working on an entry for the PR Endless Combinations contest. Each item had to match with one of the other items in the set, and there could be no isolated pairs. I am very proud of myself for sticking with a sewing plan for 4 garments in a row (the pink knit print top and dress were bonuses I didn't have in the plan). Seriously, this is sewing willpower that is seldom seen on my end. It was a monthlong contest but I lost two weekends with Thanksgiving travel and cookie baking, so I was glad to have six pieces. I have since finished another top to go with the skirt, but it might not get blogged until next year.
Voting is now open in the contest gallery, which I recommend you check out. There were some truly prolific participants!
I have been inspired by this Black Halo dress since last year, and have been intending to make it out of this fabric, purchased from G Street's $2.97/yd table last November, for a year. I am always amazed when I actually follow through on these things.
For the bodice I used vintage Stretch & Sew 1582, previously reviewed here. I have made this pattern probably 6 times by now and this is the first time of knit, though the Stretch & Sews are (as the name indicates) meant to introduce us to the wonders of jersey. It's a basic raglan sleeve peasant blouse with an elastic casing at the neck. Elastic is the least glamorous of the sewing notions, isn't it? Except velcro, I suppose, but that is not used in grown-up clothes. Odd to use elastic in a project imitating a relatively expensive original. Rather than finish the sleeve with elastic, as in the inspiration and the pattern, I used a cuff.
You don't need to look for this pattern. Burda publishes a peasant blouse every three months or so and I'm sure the Big 4 have at least one among them.
I cut the bodice at the marked waistline so that it would have excess fabric to blouse over the waistband.
For the midriff, I just used a straight strip of fabric 4 inches wide (including allowances). I cut the waistband lining of a firm double knit, as it needed to support a fair amount of weight with the skirt as well as hold the bodice up so it could blouse. When it was too late to do it, I realized this could actually have used an underlining *and* a lining of the double knit. The skirt is quite heavy, and it would have allowed me to have a nicer finish on the inside.
The skirt is what gave me so much trouble. I thought it would be simple, but getting that little upward jog at the hemline turned out to quite the ordeal. My rendition isn't perfect and is not quite as charming as the original, but I got close (after many hours of experimentation).
Start by cutting a rectangle for the outer skirt. In my case, my 60 wide fabric had those annoying super-wide selvages, so my width was about 46 inches. Cut the length you want for your finished skirt plus 2-3 inches (I used a lightweight rayon knit as my skirt lining, which is prone to stretching, so I went 3 inches to make sure that lining would never droop below the fashion fabric).
With my swayback, I had to add back darts to the skirt.
Cut an A-shaped skirt lining with the lower edge the same width as your outer fabric and the waist matching your midriff's lower edge (my midriff is quite snug, as explained, so I cut the skirt lining an inch or so wider and eased it in for comfort). The lining should be 2-3 inches shorter than the outer fabric so that your outer fabric will bubble.
Sew them together at the lower edge, right sides together. Then pull the lining through to the inside, so wrong sides are together, and line them up at the waist.
Find the center front of your skirt lining. Match up the outer skirt to the lining at the waistband from center back, so that the excess width of the outer skirt is at center front. Mark the center front of the outer skirt, then stitch along that marking for an inch or so (I sewed down about 4 inches, mistakenly thinking that the stitching would be entirely enclosed in the final pleat. It is not, and I had to pick it out). Then baste the skirt and lining together at the waist, from one side of the pleat all the way around to the other side. Do not catch in the pleat.
Next, find the spot halfway between center front and the side. I went for the right side, but it appears I did it opposite the original. Mark this spot.
Now, take that fabric in your large center pleat and match up the folded edge with your marking. Pin the folded edge in place at the marking, pulling the folded edge about 1 3/4 inches above the waistline of the skirt. This is very important, as raising that pleat is what gives you the upward dip (bump?) at the hemline.
There should be slack in your large center pleat, it should not be stretched over to that spot. If it is, you have to move your spot closer to the center.
Now take the slack in the large center pleat, and use it to form smaller pleats, continuing the raised line above the waistline. Pin the pleats and then stitch across the waistline to keep them in place. Clip off the overhanging pleat fabric, then sew to the midriff.
And you're done! If you don't have to take the time to figure it out, this is actually a quick little project and a lot of fun when it's completed. It's not my most successful knockoff in terms of getting it right, but I am pleased nonetheless.
All photos are here and the pattern review is here
Every winter I realize I have no work tops, and every winter I somehow still don't have any winter work tops no matter how many I sew. I embarked on Two Weeks of Winter Work Tops in 2008. I made several tops last year. And yet, I still have no winter work tops. I mean, I have a few, but I loathe almost all of them. So, the Endless Combinations contest got me to put my shoulder to the boulder of this Sisyphean task once again. I tried to be strategic, thinking about what tops I actually *like* in my closet. I turn to the yellow version of Simplicity 4539 as often as is reasonable, so I added another one of those. I find silk very warm (can't wear it in the summer), and I adore Burda 02-2009-123, so I made another of those. And I threw in a turtleneck for layering. Winter work tops is still a large hole in my closet, but at least I've made a few baby steps here.
First on the list was the famous Burda 09-2010-121 turtleneck. I don't care for turtlenecks, really. They make me feel chokey and I think my collarbones are one of my nicest features so I always prefer a lower neckline. But we are having such a COLD winter so far that I figured I should get around to making this as a layering piece.
I got the idea for the thumb opening (in use is the side view photo of the above collage and the photo below at right) from Noile. This was the first time I'd heard of this, but it's apparently everywhere as in this Lululemon running top/jacket. Since I don't buy RTW other than a pair of jeans once or twice a year, I miss a lot of little stuff like this.
It's hard to take photos of black fabric, so if the details don't show up on your screen I have demonstrated the thumbhole with a measuring tape here. I marked where my thumb naturally fell on the sleeve and then clipped into the seam allowance to the stitching line on both sides of the opening. I stitched down the resulting seam allowance flaps, then serged the sleeve seam above and below the opening (not an exact science that requires some fine tuning with the sewing machine). The only issue is that in a one-piece sleeve, the seam naturally falls along your pinkie line, not your thumb line, so I have to twist the sleeve to put my thumb into the opening. For future projects, I might do more like a welt/bound buttonhole concept for that opening.
My only other real change was to add a center back seam for swayback shaping.
I cut my usual size in this--34 at shoulders/bust, 36 at waist, 38 at hip--and it came off the machine absolutely enormous, more like a tunic than a turtleneck. I sewed this in a lightweight rayon knit, which doesn't have much recovery, so I think maybe 1/3 of the oversizedness can be blamed on the fabric, but some has to go to the pattern. I took 2 inches out of each side seam and 2 inches out of the center back for a total of SIX inches at the waist, slightly less at bust and hips. That is crazy talk. Looking at the back view, I see I should have taken even more width out of the upper back.
I cut a really generous 4 inch hem allowance because I am so sick of short tops that ride up when you lift your arms. Although I am short (5'1"), I have the torso of a woman of 5'5" (oh yes, my legs are that short) as Cidell and I learned when doing each other's measurements as our torsos are the same length. I like that this extra-long top will definitely never show my belly.
This is a great layering piece that I am sure will get a lot of wear this winter! The cut-on, self-faced turtleneck is quite comfortable and doesn't feel chokey. All photos are here Pattern review for the turtleneck is here
Simplicity 4539 is one of my staple patterns for all seasons. I am wearing the black and white version right now! So I knew I couldn't go wrong with this one.
Sometimes I curse my cutting efficiency, because it makes cutting such a long, tedious, and annoying process. But I managed to get a dress (coming soon) and this top out of 3 yards of fabric with annoyingly wide 6 and 8 inch selvages *and* a distinct pattern repeat break every 36 inches.
To change the drape a little I twisted the cowl when pinning it to the neckline. I lined up the center back seam of the cowl with the CB seam of the top on the the outside, and then on the inside twisted the cowl's CB seam about 3 inches to the left of the top's CB seam. With my busy print, it's hard for me to evaluate if this made the cowl more interesting or not, but it's fun to change things up.
I would like to experiment with making a longer cowl with this pattern, but because of fabric limitations I was only able to make this about an inch longer than drafted. For this version, I serged the doubled cowl to the neckline, in contravention to the directions. The pattern is drafted so that the upper edge of the cowl hangs free, which is just too fussy to wear. I have in the past hand-tacked the upper edge in place or sewn the lower edge to the neckline and then layered the upper edge over the seam and topstitched. Sewing both layers as one is simple, and the seam does not show in wearing.
I copied the sleeve from another Simplicity tee, shaving some height off the sleevecap, as I'd had some trouble with the sleeve I drafted last time. It worked perfectly.
This pattern is long out of print, and although cowls are very fashionable right now and the Big 4 have many different cowl patterns, none of them have this kind of tee-with-separate-cowl-piece as an option. Odd. Kwik Sew 3740 is the same style, though I understand the cowl has a more nuanced draft than this one, which is just a straight rectangle, as you can see here. However, you don't need to buy a pattern for this, really you don't. You can easily alter any t-shirt pattern to get the look with a low scoop neck and a rectangle cut to the width of your neckline.
All photos are here and the pattern review is here.
Another piece I love is the Burda 02-2009-123 wrap blouse, so I added a third version of this to my closet. Love. I got this snakeskin print silk chiffon (with a crepey texture) as a remnant at G Street for around $9 in October and knew it was destined to be this blouse. I had not-quite-enough fabric (of course), so I had to narrow the sleeve a tiny bit and use a cuff to make it full length. Well, not quite full-length, it's a smidge shorter than I'd like. Unfortunately, it turns out I needed that missing sleeve width, and that I could really use a broad back adjustment in this pattern. I didn't notice the latter with the navy version as it is quite a stretchy charmeuse and the flutter sleeves give enough movement that I didn't notice in that version either. So I'm a little concerned that I will eventually burst through the fabric at the bicep and upper back on this one but I'll wear it until that happens.
As per usual on silk garments I used French seams throughout. I know French seams are meant only for straight seams, but where the fabric is very lightweight and the sleevecap is not excessively eased I find it possible to do a French seam at the armscye as well. For this one, I set the sleeve in flat as a French seam, and then sewed the sleeve and side seam as one (leaving an opening for the tie, as explained here).
I finished the back neckline a little differently on this than on previous versions. I used a bias strip, as called for by the pattern, but here I turned it into double fold bias tape and encased the back neckline in it, with the bias tape showing on the right side.
As with the other versions, I used the serger to finish the collar and hem edges. However, I had a *devil* of a time with this. I recently purchased a new-to-me Bernette serger, and I could not get this fabric to stay over the stitch finger in single-needle serging. The fabric was aligned correctly, the knife was trimming it off, but the stitch would not come anywhere even close to the fabric but would just form as an unrelated chain off to the side. It was so, so frustrating. I may have to abandon the serger if I can't do a single-needle rolled hem finish, one of the great things about having a serger. After trimming off way, way more of the fabric than I would have liked to, I managed to finish the edges, supplementing with the sewing machine as needed. So it's not as nice-looking as I'd like but it would only be obvious on close inspection.
I had only tiny scraps left after cutting, so I used velvet ribbon as the tie.
All photos are here and the pattern review is here.
Marathon post! There's only one piece in my Endless Combination left to discuss, so stay tuned.
I planned to make this in the Spring as part of a self-imposed endless combination of red, pink, and orange, but quickly discovered that one cannot wear a high-waisted pencil skirt in the heat. Major sweattage is soooo not Mad Men. I was glad when the Endless Combinations contest got me to make this for Fall/Winter instead. I got the fabric from Kashi at Metro Textiles in March for $5/yd (I bought a yard and a half). I have no idea what the fiber content is--I don't think it's entirely poly but a good portion of it is, along with a generous dose of lycra. I was hoping this would keep it from wrinkling, but no such luck. It is so hot pink. It is like 80s flourescent pink, before we called it "neon." Hot. Pink. So hot pink that I wasn't sure if it was work appropriate just because of the color. I wore it anyway, of course.
I really liked similar Burda 03-2009-104 high-waisted pencil skirt with a seamed waistband--I made it twice!--so I've had this one on the list for quite some time. There have been some gorgeous versions made, very inspiring.
The only adjustment I made to this was for swayback. The center back skirt and waistband pieces create, as per Burda's usual nonsense, a completely flat line. The spine is not built that way, even for people without a swayback. I lined up the center back waistband piece with the skirt piece at the seamlines and drew in a curved line. In sewing, I ended up taking a little bit more width out of the waistband at around the middle of the piece, and I think I also should have taken a small swayback tuck.
Other than the flat back, the draft on the skirt is very good--the corset pieces fit together nicely, and the side back seam on the waistband matches perfectly with the back dart--but the proposed finishing is dreadful. Burda just gives you a facing strip for the waistline and that's it. Terrible! Like everyone else, I fully faced the waistband, using the waistband pattern pieces, and lined the skirt in a very stretchy woven purchased at Jomar for such purposes (it's so hard to find stretch lining!).
Most people boned the waistband, and I considered doing so. I interfaced both the outer and inner waistband pieces with a medium-weigh stretch interfacing, and decided to put together the outer shell of the skirt to see if I felt it needed boning. With my firm fabric and the interfacing, I found that I didn't need boning. The waistband does not collapse even when I sit, I think due to it being so very high.
I know this is why you people muslin, but the fit isn't great. At first I was ready to curse my belly, but analyzing it more it is actually a problem in the front thigh that is causing the wrinkling. There is actually plenty of room in the belly, but the thigh pushes the fabric forward to create arrows that make it seem like it's the belly. This is good--I have no qualms about an athletic front thigh adjustment. "Athletic" is not a euphemism here, and I have worked hard for every millimeter of that muscle!
Believe it or not, even in that Schiaparelli shocking pink, this goes with several pieces in my closet. One of the reasons I was keen to make it was to go with Vogue 2859. This 1930s vintage Vogue reissue is extremely, extremely short. The only skirt I had to wear it with was the black double-knit one I made to go with it, but it is kind of vavoom for day. This look is more wearable for every day.
Unfortunately, I think I waited a little too long to make this skirt and the moment for the extremely high-waisted pencil skirt has passed. This is only a few inches below my boobs. While the look isn't "dated" in the classic sense, it looks costumey now. I could have worn this last winter with no problem, but this year I think I will always wear the top untucked over that high waist. But I'm sure I will wear it a lot--it is definitely a color that winter needs more of.
All photos are here and the pattern review is here.
I bought McCall 5661 some time ago for its trendy neckline pleats and bubble sleeve, and it looked like a great match for the Akris dress. On the original, the sleeves appear to just be gathered a little at the bottom, but I always like a little more pizzazz.
This is one of the Palmer-Pletsch patterns, and they are awesome because they have adjustment lines printed on them. The pattern insert contains information on how to make some of the marked adjustments, but not all. For instance, there are lines for a broad back adjustment and it is mentioned in the text, but there is no information on how to actually accomplish it. Luckily, I have the technology to do this adjustment. I found the swayback adjustment to be too skimpy, especially as I was lengthening this into a dress so I folded out their swayback line and took out an additional swayback wedge.
For the small bust adjustment, they had you narrow the dart (which I would normally do) and also shorten the side the seam. I don't know how to tell if that made a difference or not. I don't think I'll add it to my usual SBA repertoire, because a broad back adjustment adds length to the back at the side seam and then taking more length out in the front would result in a huge mismatch.
As wool challis is quite sheer, I needed to line the dress. The bubble sleeve is constructed with a stay, so it required a little decisionmaking to decide how to construct it. In the end, I decided to sew the sleeve and stay into the armscye as one and then hand-stitch the dress lining to the sleeve. There seemed like just too much fabric and gathering to do it the other way (outer sleeve to fashion fabric, stay to lining). Although this made construction easier, it doesn't look perfect on the inside.
To ensure my lightweight fabric would retain its poof at the sleeve I interfaced the lower half of the sleeve with a lightweight knit interfacing. I then gathered the lower edge and sewed it to the sleeve stay.
Then I sewed the sleeve seam. I constructed the dress with French seams, so I did that in the sleeve seam as well, even though it would be enclosed in the bubble. They're starting to look like sleeves!
To sew into the armscye, I treated the sleeve and stay as one. I stitched in place and finished the seam with the serger.
The final step at the end of the project is to hand-stitch the lining to the armscye just beyond the stitching line for the sleeve/stay. I had a hard time getting the lines to match up exactly, so it's a little ugly under the arm. I think the difficulty of this hand sewing might have negated the ease of constructing and sewing in the sleeve. Next time I do something like this I'll see how it is to sew the sleeve to the fashion fabric and the stay to the lining, though I'm having a hard time figuring out the order in which they can be sewn. Perhaps set in flat, sewing the side seams last?
It's lined in rayon satin from fabric.com. It was on sale in September for $2.79/yd, so I got a bunch of pink, turquoise, and ivory. It's heavier than a normal lining, but since I use slippery lining mostly for cool weather clothes in which I will be wearing tights the weight is actually perfect for my purposes. Love the pop of color inside the dress, and I even like that it shows a little bit as the sleeve stay. There are still a few colors left, though for $5.58/yd.
The pattern is drafted with a center back button closure and a facing for the neckline and button panel. I have no interest in a back-button blouse, as I live alone and have tight shoulders. I added a seam allowance to the marked center back line and put in a back zip.
I did the neckline pleats last, after the bodice and lining were fully constructed. As with a pleat neck dress I made last year, I treated the fashion fabric and lining as one in doing the pleats. To finish the neckline, rather than use a facing, I used a bias strip (as I had for that project), sewn along the neckline and catch-stitched to the lining. I lowered the front neckline about 1 1/2 inches from where it was drafted. The back neck sticks out a bit and really needs a dart, so I may eventually get around to doing that, but I'm pretty sure I serged the bias strip on so it will really have to bother me for me to get around to it.
I am really liking this dress. It is a little more exuberant than the original, with the more voluminous sleeves and wider skirt. But I am more exuberant than the original, so I suppose it was inevitable. This was the first piece of my Endless Combination project for the PR contest and it looks great with the next piece in the combo (tease). The only problem with the contest is that I somehow have to find time to photograph and review five more pieces by the middle of next week. Challenging.
All photos are here, the in-seam pocket French Seam tutorial is here, and the pattern review is here.
When planning a project with McCall 5661 out of wool challis, I knew I wanted to do French seams for this lightweight, delicate fabric to ensure the project stayed in one piece. However, I got obsessed with wanting in-seam pockets as well. I had worn a Spring dress with a sweater over it for Fall, and it ended up being a little chillier than predicted. The dress has pockets and it made a remarkable difference in my comfort level to be able to keep my hands warm in them. So for this short-sleeve wool dress that can go into Spring and start up again in early Fall, I wanted pockets.
I had never heard of nor done side seam pockets in a French-seamed garment, so I went on the hunt to see if it is even possible. I found two tutorials. This tutorial for sewing pockets into a French seam includes a video showing how to do a basic French seam and a written description of how to do the pocket. This tutorial has photos, but the pocket itself is a little unusual and the tutorial only took me so far (other than marveling at the detail put into such a tiny piece of doll clothes). So, it seemed my dream was possible.
It actually turns out not to be difficult or complicated at all. You just sew a French seam with a bump in it for the pocket. Because of the bulk at the pocket, it can only be done in quite lightweight fabrics.
First, proceed as usual for in-seam pockets and sew the pocket bags to the front and back at the markings, right sides together. As per usual, I sewed this at a 3/8" seam allowance rather than the full 5/8" so the pocket bags would roll to the inside.
This is the only raw edge that will show in your garment, so finish that joining edge. I used a zigzag because I could not visualize all the way through to the end of the process. If I'd realized it would show I would have used a serger finish.
Second, take the first pass of your French seam. Pin the side seams--including the pockets--wrong sides together. Every time I do French seams it is *inevitable* that I will do the first pass as right sides together on at least one seam. I chant to myself "French seams are WRONG, French seams are WRONG, French seams are WRONG" over and over as a reminder, which helps a little. Stitch the first pass with a 1/4" seam allowance, pivoting at the pocket bags and sewing along their outer edges. I loooove using the serger for the first pass of a French seam, but I don't have the dexterity to use a serger for that pivot point, which makes this fairly fussy to sew.
Once that first pass is sewn, turn the side seams so they are right sides together as for normal sewing. Press, making sure that your first pass seam is at the edge. Your next step will enclose the raw edges of the first pass, so if you didn't use a serger make sure that your seam allowance is trimmed to 1/4" or smaller. Very small!
Now you sew that right-side-to-right-side pass at a 3/8" seam allowance. Again, pivot at the pocket bag, making sure that you are beyond the seam allowance from the first pass so that it will be fully enclosed. Press this seam. I normally press side seams sewn in a French seam toward the back, but in this instance you have to press toward the front because otherwise the pockets will be facing toward the back of your body.
You can see that this creates a lovely finish on the inside with no raw edges (other than the pocket joining seam).
And this is what it looks like from the right side, including the inside of the pocket. Very clean! You can also see that I sort of haphazardly drafted this pocket on the fly and it ended up way too small. I can barely fit my hands into them--so much for keeping warm!
I am very pleased to have figured out a new-to-me technique, though I'm not sure I'll use it much. The bulk at the pocket pivot point causes the dress to bulge out ever so slightly at the upper hip. I don't need any help there! This would be better for a dress with a waist seam and full skirt where a little extra width doesn't matter.
All photos are here. Full review for the dress is here.