Sunday, September 30, 2012

Variations on a Tee #4: Waterfall Cardigan and Mini Wardrobe

Waterfall Caridgan Thunbnail

As usual, I am a little late to the party--the waterfall cardigan has been a thing for several years now.  In fact, the first time I saw one was on a fellow traveler when I took a bike trip in Italy in 2004!  But hey, better late than never.
Etoile Isabel Marant
Lexy Leather Trimmed Boucle Jacket, $430

The fabric is a stable knit from the $2.97/yd table at G Street Fabrics.  At first I wasn't crazy about the fact that it is essentially striped, but then I saw this Isabel Marant jacket/cardigan and felt a little better.  Heh.

This is a pretty simple variation to draft.  It looks like McCall 6084 is the same style, though I've only looked at the line drawing so I don't know what the pattern pieces look like.  All you do is extend the front neckline at the inner point of the shoulder the same length as the back neckline (I did not bother redrafting my back neckline to be straight--the curve on my TNT sloper is gentle enough that it didn't make a difference) and then extend center front your desire width.  I made it as wide as half the front--doubling the width so that each front half is as wide as a whole front.

The only tricky part in sewing is keeping track of what is being sewn together where.  It might be helpful to add notches at the shoulder for this.   This photo might help you visualize how it looks to put together:

Clip Into SA at Front Neck Extension First, you sew the center back neckline seam of the fronts together (the upper edge of that extension you added to the front neckline).  Next, sew the shoulder and neckline all at once.  Pin the front and back together starting at the outer/armscye edge of the shoulder, continue the line by pinning the front neck extension to the back neck, and keep going onto the other shoulder.  You will need to clip into the seam allowance of the front at the shoulder/back neck extension to get a straight line to sew.

Then proceed as normal.  I like to set the sleeve in the flat and then do the sleeve/side seam all at once.  The last thing is the long hem that goes all the way around the cardigan and the sleeve hems.  This is a really simple project and only takes a couple of hours to make.

Pin Interfacing on Wrong Side

The sweater can be worn a variety of ways.  I liked the idea of being able to tie the fronts together, so I pinned and marked the spot at the waistline where the regular tee ended and the extension began so I could make a hole to thread the ribbon through.  I pinned a large interfacing patch to the wrong side.

Trim Interfacing, Then Fuse

Next, I stitched the buttonholes from the right side.

After the buttonhole was done I trimmed the interfacing patch to only slightly larger than the buttonhole before fusing.

Because of the texture and pattern of the fabric, the buttonhole is nearly invisible, and certainly not noticeable while wearing.

To keep the ribbon with me but out of the way while I'm wearing the cardigan a different way, I stitched a loop of elastic into the side seam just below the armscye.  The ribbon hangs through the loop and doesn't dangle down to the outside.

Dress + Cardi
Silver Top + Skirt + Cardi
This is a fun little sweater that I ended up liking more than I expected.  I don't have many cardigans in my closet because I buy so little clothing and I find it hard to make a cardigan that doesn't look homemade, as so much of the commercially-manufactured versions are done on specialized machines using techniques the home sewist simply cannot duplicate.  The waterfall idea obviates the need for the special ribbed collar and placket finishes.  I foresee more of these in my future.

All photos are here and the pattern review is here.


Mini Wardrobe Contest 2012

The cardigan is the "key" piece in my 2012 Mini Wardrobe Contest entry.  The wardrobe had to be 5 pieces, at least 4 made during the contest period.  I had one more piece planned, but just didn't have time to get to it so I pulled a dress out of the closet.

The idea was to make neutral separates that will go with a lot of other things in the closet.    It is not like me to wear neutrals or dark colors or solids, but sometimes I do feel the lack of them in my wardrobe.  These pieces do take me a little closer to a versatile closet!

Self-drafted jeggings
Self-drafted waterfall cardigan
Manequim 02-2012-216 cowl sleeve tank
Burda 02-2011-103 godet pencil skirt
Burda 05-2010-105 Grecian draped dress (from the closet; I made this in 2010)

The items actually make 10 combinations (6 is the minimum) but I forgot to photograph one of them.*

Silver top + jeggings
Silver top + jeggings + cardi
Silver top + skirt
Silver top + skirt + cardi
Cardi (as a top) + jeggings
Cardi (as a top) + skirt
Dress + cardi
Dress + jeggings
Dress + jeggings + cardi

My mini wardrobe review is here and the photos of all the combinations are here.

*Dress + Jeggings + Cardigan, if you're counting at home.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Manequim 04-2012-216, Cowl Sleeve Top

Manequim 04-2012-216 Thumbnail

Melissa made this top a while back and I was very intrigued.  It's a twist on the cowl top with the cowl at one of the sleeves instead of the neckline.  I thought it might be a good pattern for a special piece of silk that just can't decide what it wants to be.

I found the magazine on eBay and getting it was a drama.  The Post Office left me a peach notice slip, which I dutifully signed.  The next day they left another one, which I again signed.  Then they sent the package back to Brazil.  Then I had to pay shipping *again.*  Finally, it got to me.  I was *quite* annoyed with the USPS and sent them an email, which they assured me would be answered in 24 hours.  Three months later I'm still waiting.

Anyway, tracing this pattern was crazy!  The pattern sheets are about as dense as the new Burda sheets, but actually slightly easier as most of the items only come in one size and therefore have only one set of lines.

This is in 5 different pieces, as I recall, that you then have to connect once you have them traced.  The final pattern piece is HUGE.  This photo does not convey, but I can tell you that I cut on my dining table, which seats 4, and the pattern piece is hanging off the edge.  HUGE.

This top comes only in size 44, which is somewhere between a Burda 42 and 44.  I wear a 34-->38 (transitioning from bust to hip) in Burda, so sizing was a concern.  Before I started tracing I naively thought I might be able to do some grading but seriously, no. 

So instead I went slapdash, my default mode.  I figured I'd need to narrow the cowl armscye and generally make the whole thing smaller in circumference.  I also thought I'd probably need to shorten it between shoulder and armscye.

I folded out width as follows:
 -Shortened at non-cowl armscye in front (1 inch)
-Narrowed back neckline (1 inch)--I still ended up putting in back neck darts
-Narrowed the cowl armscye (8 inches) tapering as I reached the hem (4 1/2 inches)

Attempted Tissue Fit

I thought it might be helpful to do a tissue fit.  Ha!  There are some disadvantages to tissue paper, LOL.  I first tried to do it on my body, but I really couldn't get any information out of that.  So then I put it together on my paper tape dress form.  Um, yeah.  Without drape, it was really impossible to tell what was going to happen in fabric.

So I just went ahead and cut it out in this very drapey silver poly satin from the G Street $2.97/yd table.  I bought it for lining.  Before I had it cut, I shook it vigorously to try to create static electricity.  When none developed I was satisfied and bought five yards.  Well, I think that was just a particularly humid day because it is indeed extremely staticky and therefore not useful as lining.  Grrr.

Band Show-Through

As I was putting it together I determined that I should have shortened the shoulders in the back, so I took up an extra inch there.

All in all, the fit isn't too bad.  Because it's meant to be a drapey style the same size can fit a fairly wide range of figures.  Melissa found to her surprise that the cowl sleeve doesn't reveal her bra.  It does on me, unfortunately.  Not terribly much and only if I lift my arm up and away.

Neckline and Armscye Finish

This fabric was not fun to cut--very difficult to keep on grain.  I sewed it with French seams, and finished the neckline and non-cowl armscye with bias tape.  I tried cutting bias strips of self fabric, but it was just too wiggly to get it right, and the fabric doesn't take a press very well.  Although it doesn't look like it in the flat, the bias tape does not show in wearing.  I topstitched the bias tape in place 1/4" from the edge. The cowl armscye and hem are turned and stitched.

I gathered the cowl armscye shoulder by hand and then hand-stitched a decorative band in place encircling it.


Alas, this pattern will not do for my special silk.  I really like the cowl armscye and think the drape is especially interesting from the back.  But the front is pretty plain and blah.  I don't think it looks quite as bad as in the photo at left, but not a whole lot better either.

The pattern is quite interesting--very Japanese.  The patterns in the Drape Drape books are generally one piece like this, which creates interesting drape as the grain moves around the garment.

I won't be making this again, so if you'd like the tracing (let me be clear--the tracing, *not* the magazine) let me know in the comments below.  Please make sure I have some way of contacting you; to protect your email from spam harvesters add spaces and write out words such as "at" and "dot."

All photos are here and the pattern review is here.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Self-Drafted Jeggings

Jeggings Thumbnail

A couple of months ago I got the idea in my head that I wanted some jeggings.  I am really not sure why this idea took hold of me so strongly, but I couldn't shake it.  I finally bit the bullet and ordered some fabric from Tissu in the UK on Melissa's recommendation.  I refuse to convert the shipping, which was bad enough in pounds, to dollars to figure out how much I paid, but I got the fabric in 3 days so I got my money's worth in shipping, at any rate.  The total cost came out to about $15/yd, which is a fair price for the fabric--it is as opaque as one can hope from a knit and has reasonably good recovery.

I have had a pair of RTW yoga pants for probably 10 years that are really perfect for me.  When they started to wear out, I tried to buy a new pair but the company, Marika, had changed the fabric content in the meantime to a cotton blend.  I have just not found cotton knits to have adequate recovery or to be good for actual, you know, yoga, so I rubbed off a pattern and made a new pair, which are perfect except that the leg seam swings all the way around at the bottom so that the inseam is at the outseam.  Annette Hickman said this is a grain issue.

A Million Little Pieces
The yoga pant pattern was my starting place for the jeggings.  I based the leg width on a pair of running tights, laying them on top of the pattern and tracing off from them.  Creating the pattern with its million fiddly little pieces (front facing, front yoke, front pocket facing, back yoke, coin pocket, and back pocket) was a horror and took about 2 1/2 hours.   But the construction went faster than I thought at about 5 hours.

Cereal Box Templates

I copied the details, including the pockets, the back yoke size, and the topstitching patterns from a pair of Levi 512s.  I made 3 templates out of a cereal box:  back pocket, coin pocket, and fly.   What is a better material for this that can stand up to a steamy iron?

My main concern was that all the piecing and topstitching would compromise the stretch so much I wouldn't be able to pull the pants on.  I set the zigzag width to 1 for all the topstitching and stretched as I topstitched.  As it turns out, I have no trouble getting in and out of them, but I don't think I'll tempt fate by doing a straight topstitch on the next pair.

I've never made jeans and don't have a jeans pattern (I don't think), so the most taxing part of the construction was figuring out what order to do things in.  I now totally understand why people gripe about the thread-changing aspect of jeans construction.  You can structure the construction to some extent so that you group items needing topstitching together, but plenty of the topstitching has to be done before you can move to the next step in construction.  I switched back and forth between regular thread and topstitching thread probably 8 times.  I used nearly an entire Guterman spool of jeans topstitching thread.


My Levis, interestingly, do not have a typical front pocket.  There is a pocket opening and a pocket facing, but the inside guts is a pocket stay that goes all the way to the fly.  So I copied that detail for my jeggings.  Because the jeggings are a pull-on, I cut the front facing and front yoke on the fold at center front, so they sit smoothly underneath the fly and offer a tiny amount of tummy control.  I cut them out of a thin black knit heavy on the lycra.

Blind Fly

If you thought I finally tackled the fly front...well, think again.  Ha!  There is no zipper in these, but I wanted the look of a fly.  I cut the center front seam with a fly extension.  I basted above the fly extension and then pressed the extension to one side.  Using my cereal box template, I topstitched the extension in place with the CF still basted shut.  Then I opened up the basted seam and topstitched it and voila!  Fly.  Or close enough.  I based the length of the fly on the distance from front crotch of some low-rise jeans I have.  I did not want the fly to be too long.  However, it ended up being bizarrely short.  Will definitely lengthen the fly next time.

Pocket and Fly Detail

The waistband is elastic.  Off the body, these jeggings look like terrifying mom jeans, but the waistband sits fairly smoothly while worn.  Not that it matters, as I *never* plan to wear these styled so that the waistband is showing--helllooooooo saddlebags.  Even so, I topstitched at the top and bottom of the waistband so it wouldn't look too plain.

Back Crotch Compare
Front Crotch Compare

So here's an interesting comparison:  the crotch on the RTW yoga pants is nearly *identical* to the custom-fit crotch created in Annette's class (will write about the second class when I have time).

I thought the yoga pants fit so well partly because of the fabric's stretch, but apparently I just happened to have found pants that were built almost exclusively for me on the sale rack of a Ross or TJ Maxx sometime in the distant past!

I am pretty happy with these though they are by no means perfect.  The grain is still all wrong--the bottom hem spirals all the way around so the inseam is at the outseam.  I have read that the grain should be parallel to the seams, but that just isn't working.  I placed the pattern on top of my custom pants pattern, aligning the crotches, and drew the grainline from the block, so it's now at a bit of a diagonal on the jeggings pattern.  We'll see if that helps the next pair.

I most likely will not get a new, improved pair done before I go to Portugal in a week or so (eep!), so these will come with me, but here are the changes for next iteration.  The pattern has already been altered and is ready to go.

-Pocket facing double in size (the edges show inside the pocket window, ugh)
-Coin pocket moved lower
-Back pockets closer to CB
-Faux fly lengthened by one inch
-Raise front waistline 1/2 inch
-Take in CB waist by 3/8 inch

All photos are here and the pattern review is here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pants Drafting Class with Annette Hickman

Although I do not plan to become regularly be-pantsed, it really would be nice to have a pair or two for those winter days when it is too cold to wear a skirt even with wool knickers.

But pants.  They are impossible.  Impossible, I tell you!

It was time to turn to the experts.  For the first time in my life(!!!!), I signed up for a sewing class.

G Street offers drafting classes, one for a bodice and one for pants.  I keep meaning to develop a bodice sloper.  I haven't out of sheer laziness but feel that I can do just fine for that on my own as I have made many reasonably well-fitting dresses.  But pants.  I need some professional help.

It is a big time commitment for me:  the class is 4 hours for 3 Saturdays in a row at the Rockville location, and with Metro broken every weekend it takes me 1 1/2 hours each way to get there.  I left my house at 8:30 on Saturday morning.  If you knew me, you would understand the depth of my commitment to these pants.  Ain't no 8:30 on a Saturday morning in my life.


We started the class by taking detailed measurements.  We did the measurements ourselves rather than pair up (there are 7 people in the class, but one is a man sewing for his wife so pairs would have worked out).  As Cidell pointed out, the benefit of this method is that you learn how to do them on yourself for the future.


Then we used this crazy complicated mathematical diagram to draft them.  I have seen this type of drafting instruction before in the blogosphere and it makes me tired just to look at it.  It turns out if you just take it step-by-step...who am I kidding, it is still crazy complicated and way beyond my ability to follow.

Luckily, our fearless and fabulous instructor, Annette Hickman, took us through each step with a demonstration.  Her patience and humor made this much less painful than it ought to be.

Pants Draft

This photo is not so great, but if you squint you can see what looks like a real life draft!  So exciting.  I felt very professional and all ready for Project Runway.

For our class this Saturday, our task is to (1) look at other people's butts, (2) read the materials in our course packet, and (3) trace our draft into muslin and mark two inch seam allowances.  We will partially construct the muslins and Annette will help us fine-tune the fit.

However, I could not resist throwing together a quick and dirty muslin.  I traced the draft onto tissue.  While tracing it I noticed the back waistline seemed oddly, freakishly narrow.  I measured it and compared it to my exhaustive measurement chart and lo and behold it was two inches too small.  I added them to the waist and blended that line into the crotch.  So any back crotch problems may be the result of that.

Without further ado, here it is:

Back Front

The waist, belly, hip, and upper butt fit are excellent.

The front crotch is pretty good.  4 out of 5 stars.  The crotch isn't totally perfect, with tiny wrinkles forming a sort of handlebar mustache right under it.  It feels like the problem is the crotch not snugging up high enough rather than a crotch shape problem, as the wrinkles are not always there (or at least visible in the mirror).  Crotch crotch crotch.  The joys of talking about pants.  My quote of the day in the first class was, "Can I ask you to come take a look at my front crotch?"

Muslin 2-Back
The back, well, not so great.  2.75 stars.  I've got the downward-pointing chevron of wrinkles below the crotch.  The good news is, the wrinkles do not seem to extend all the way down the leg  in a cascade of nested chevrons as seen in this Burda pant (this is version 2.0 of the Burda).  But that may just be a function of the sturdier fabric and relatively short length.  At any rate, it is about where I ended up with the Burda pattern after 4 painful muslins, so I am actually pretty satisfied to be starting where I gave up in frustration last time, rather than starting at the beginning.

I am super excited to have Annette fit these on Saturday!  It is almost worth getting up at 8:00 on a Saturday morning.  Almost.

All photos are here.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Burda 02-2011-103, Godet Pencil Skirt

Burda 02-2011-103 Thumbnail

It's Pattern Review's Mini Wardrobe contest so I figured I'd get in on the action and sew some separates (I am in no way guaranteeing I will finish this month!).  I needed a plain black woven skirt--the one I wear all the time is a thick knit that is getting a little worse for the wear with pilling.  When did its crazy Vera Wang closeout at $1.95/yard for really good quality fabrics a couple years ago, one of the things I picked up was 3 yards of a black stretch wool so I would have enough on hand to make several skirts as needed.  This was my first time to sew with it and it is fabulous!  It was advertised as suiting but I find it too thin for a jacket.  But for a fluid skirt, really lovely.

I was intrigued by the lines of Burda 02-2011-103.  I haven't seen it too many times in the blogosphere or on PR, but those who've made it liked it so I gave it a shot.  I thought it might be the perfect hybrid:  a pencil skirt that is bikeable because of the back godet.

I traced my usual sizes, 36 at the waist, 39ish (between 38 and 40) at the hip.  The instructions say this must be made with stretch fabric and they are not kidding.  This fits me, and it's not bursting at the (smaller-than-intended seam allowance) seams, but I'd be more comfortable with a little more room.  So if I make this again I go up to full size 40 at the hip, maybe size 41ish.  There are wrinkles at the hip/saddlebag that aren't solved by moving the skirt up or down at the waist, which would indicate the curve was in the wrong place for my body--I think it's just plain not quite enough width.

I narrowed the front dart to accommodate my rounded belly, adding in this extra to the center front waistband piece.  I am very happy with the fit in the front, which does not strain or create arrows that point to the belly.

Shortened Pattern

I knew this was going to be way too long as drafted on me.  It's meant to be a longer, below-knee skirt, but on me it was going to be mid-calf.  So I shortened it two inches.  The front I folded out in one piece below the hips, but because of the shaping dart in the back I did the shortening in two places.  The final length finds the right balance between flattering and the style, I think.

Back Closeup

The back intersection of the CB seam, back darts, and godet is not so much tricky as just requires a commitment to precision.  I pinned carefully and it miraculously came out pretty close to right on the first try.  I had to do a little "sculpting" with hand-stitches to get the intersection perfect.  I'm quite pleased with it.

Godet Rolled Hem

For the hem, you're dealing with two very different shapes.  The body of the skirt is just a regular, relatively straight-of-grain hem.  The godet's hem is a circular, bias-y affair.  Rather than try to hem both pieces in the same manner, as recommended in the instructions, I used the type of hem most suited to each piece.

I started by doing a machine rolled hem on the godet.

Insert Hemmed Godet

Then I inserted the godet.  Note that the skirt's hem allowance extends beyond the finished hem of the godet.  I pressed the seam allowances outward from the godet toward the skirt.

Finished Hem

To hem the skirt, I folded the allowance up over the godet and used a machine blind hem all the way around.  I had to secure the hem allowance to the godet/skirt seam allowance by hand, because the blind stitch foot can't deal with that situation.  I had considered doing the whole hem by hand, but honestly the machine does a much nicer job than I do.


I lined this with a stretch lining purchased at Mood.  I really wish I knew how to find a quality stretch lining.  I was grateful to find any stretch lining, which is impossible!, but this is very thin and the edges roll up like crazy on the cut pieces.  I hand-stitched the lining, which does not have the godet (as per the instructions) to the skirt/godet seam allowance to keep it in place.  I may undo it, though, and just stitch it at the top of the godet insertion.  The placement was really hard to get correct and I think I have created some puckering at the seam that wasn't there before.

This was one of those projects that thwart you at every turn, trying its very best to become a wadder or at least a UFO.  I don't think I managed to sew a single seam only once.  My "best" mistake was sewing the center back seams to the side front seams, then applying the waistband, then serging everything.  Fun.  If you plan to make this, bring the tech drawing/instructions with you into the sewing room.  And the back dart is NOT sewn into the side seam.

Then in the lining I somehow managed to sew one side of the center back to the side front, as I had for the fashion fabric.  At least I'm consistent.  I sewed the other one upside down.  Seriously.  I just cut a whole new lining rather than unpick that mess.

FrontBurda 02-2011-103
But the joke is on the skirt. After more time spent seam-ripping than seam-sewing, I finally had a skirt!  One with a sort of bubbly zipper ending and too-small hip wrinkles.  But still.  I think those are more minor quibbles than fatal flaws.  It is indeed figure-flattering, or at least figure-revealing (which the boyfriend seems to think are the same thing, so who am I to judge).  I like the high waist, which looks nicer for tucking than a lower waist.

Others had dubbed this the "shark fin skirt" because the godet sticks out a bit, but in my fluid fabric that is not really an issue.  So add that to your list of requirements the fabric must have, in addition to a whole lot of lycra.  I think I will get a lot of wear out of this as we transition to Fall.

(For those who are curious, the top is Simplicity 2594.  I really like it, but it has to be worn tucked in because I really botched the front hem on this bias-cut poly chiffon.)

All photos are here and the pattern review is here.