Thursday, November 21, 2013

Burda 05-2009-102, The Agony of Plaid Matching (aka Blazer for Tweed Ride)

Burda 05-2009-102 Thumbnail

Tweed Ride was a couple of weeks ago.  I wasn't sure I'd be able to attend so I hadn't put any thought into an outfit, but I ended up being free that day and I had one week to pull it together.  Eek!  I had just returned from vacation, before which I had engaged in an absolute orgy of sewing and was still kind of worn out.  So of course the logical thing to do was make a jacket.  A lined jacket.  In plaid.  In one week.  But last year I vowed that if I did it again this year I *would* finally make this wonderful plaid (a wool/poly blend, as it turns out) from The Carol Collection into a jacket.

I went through my BWOFs and decided I just loved Burda 05-2009-102.  Unfortunately, the smallest size it comes in is 36 and the pieces are complicated enough that I skipped grading to a 34 at the shoulders and bust as I would normally do.  Luckily, I was able to narrow the shoulders a bit on sewing and the fit in the upper part was pretty good.

Open Wedge in Back

Because the jacket was intended for a long bike ride, I wanted to make sure I had plenty of room for my broad back--reaching for the handlebars gets awfully old when your arms are restricted.  For armscye princess seams, you have to first pin the back and side back together at the stitch lines, mark your L, and then cut along the L and open out your wedge.

Completed Princess Broad Back Alteration

Put extra tissue underneath and tape it to your pattern pieces to the extent you can while the pieces are still pinned together so you preserve the same angle on both pieces, then separate them and fill in the extra area.

Fusing the Pieces

I fused all the body pieces onto lightweight, flexible interfacing (except the collar and lapel, for which I used a stiff interfacing).  I turned my cutting table aka kitchen table into a pressing table by putting an old wool blanket down, then covering the wool blanket with a white fitted sheet I keep for that purpose.  This protects the table and allows me to use lots of steam without worry.

Insert Welt into Front

When choosing the pattern, I figured that shaped front, single welt, and side with integrated pocket would be tricky.  It turns out, it was actually quite easy.  You start by sewing the welt into the front, and sewing the front pocket bag into the seam allowance.  Then you clip into the corner at the welt intersection (the photo shows the right side of one half and the wrong side of the other).

Clip Into Seam Allowance of Front at Corner

When sewing the side front to the front, open out that clip and stitch the angle as though it were straight--the pins show the "straight" line I sewed.

I was pretty amazed at how neatly it comes out.  My corner looks sharp and sits flat.  Once the front and side front were constructed I pressed them over a ham so they would look flat on a round body.  The pocket is caught into the side seam to keep it in place.

Sewing Facing to Body of Jacket-1

What turned out to be difficult in construction was sewing the facing/collar to the body of the jacket.  There is a dart hidden under the lapel to give it shape and Burda's instructions were classic BWTF.  They have you slit open the dart, and then "sew the dart and neck all at once."

I tried a LOT of different configurations before finally figuring it out.  It sounds duh to write it out, but the dart is sewn to itself, the neckline is sewn to the collar, and the lapel is sewn to the facing.  Nothing is tucked into anything else (I kept wanting to catch the lapel in the dart seam because it seemed the most logical way to put it together when all the pieces were in my hand).

You do, indeed, sew from  the bottom of the dart up over onto the *back* neck and back down the other dart.  Then you go back and complete the lapel/front neck seam separately.  If I make this again, I would try *not* cutting open the darts, sewing them as regular darts, and then sewing the neck all at once.  It seemed like they were trying to be cool and innovative rather than trying to find the best construction.

Stitch Sleeve and Side Seams

I tried a new way of setting in the sleeve based on a suggestion I saw on PR (unfortunately I can't give anyone credit, as it is impossible to find the post on the message board).  It's set in mostly in the flat, leaving the last couple inches open on either side.

Once the sleeve is set, sew the sleeve seam and the side seam and press them open.

Complete Sleeve Seam

The last step is to sew the bottom little bit of the sleeve as though it was set in, matching the sleeve underseam with the side seam.

This way you get the easier setting in in-the-flat, but you have a normal seam distribution at the underarm.  With a true in-the-flat with the sleeve/side seam sewn as one, the underarm can be a little bulkier, which isn't a problem in most cases but in a jacket fabric it might feel too much like a wad of fabric under the arm.

Organza Sleeve Head

I put in a strip of silk organza as a sleeve head.  I'm not going to lie to you: it's not cut on the bias.  The earth did not stop spinning on its axis.

I stitched the organza juuuust inside the stiching line of the sleeve's seam allowance.

Taking in the Back Seams

From the bust to the hem I had traced my usual 36 at the waist and 38 at the hip.  It was WTF huge.  Think 10 or more inches of ease at the waist.  I think Burda may have drafted this from a coat block, not a jacket block, with enough ease to wear a puffy snowsuit underneath.  Burda sizing *never* gives me trouble so this was pretty aggravating!

Because of the construction of the pocket, I could only adjust the side seam about 1/4". The rest I took out the side back and center back seam.  I took it in a total of 6 inches.  I had put so much care into the Broad Back Adjustment that I forgot to do a swayback adjustment (I was falling asleep after cutting out the jacket in the evening and started straight up when I realized this), which would have given me a little more shape at the CB seam but would not have solved the problem by a long shot.

Striped Silk Lining

It's lined in a striped tie silk from FFC.  Cidell and I bought tie silk bundles several years ago.  They may have come from an end user factory, because most of them are only about 30 inches wide with one selvage and one raw edge.

I folded this piece in half the long way rather than selvage-to-selvage, so my stripes match all the way down but the colors are off on the bottom.  I actually kind of like the effect. Brings me back to the old days of Tetris.

And now for the bad.  Part of the reason I chose this pattern is that Burda shows it in a Glen plaid and had marked "check" lines for plaid matching on the pieces.  Burda, you screwed me!!!!

 First of all, the front and back check lines did not match up to each other at the side seam.  In retrospect, this is probably mostly due to my Broad Back Adjustment, but I'm not sure that explains the full discrepancy.  I matched the lines and cut off the excess at the armscye.

Second, the check mark on the sleeve pieces had absolutely nothing to do with the check on the body pieces!!!!!!!!!  I was so mad.  I assumed they'd put the check a little above the waist on all the pieces, but the sleeve is offset from the body by almost an entire plaid motif (my plaid has a thread down the middle, alternating yellow and turquoise.  I used a yellow thread as my check.  The sleeves' turquoise thread roughly lines up with the yellow thread of the body). Because of that happy coincidence, the sleeves *almost* look like they match but they don't.

Single Layer Cutting
The lack of vertical matching is all on me (Burda doesn't give vertical check marks).  I had limited fabric and the cutting layout was a nail biter.  I cut it all one layer, then flipped the layer over to cut the other half (the photo shows the first layer flipped over onto the remaining fabric to cut out the second layer).  I had to crawl around on the floor because I needed to see my entire acreage at once.  Here's what I had left at the end--a whole two inches of length to spare.

When choosing to ignore vertical matching, I figured it would only not match vertically at the shoulders, which I could live with.  I was NOT thinking of the front/side front situation.  You don't have to tell me:  I know it looks awful.  I am trying to console myself that I probably didn't have enough fabric to get it right anyway (although they're so close to matching I probably did).  Ugh.


Because of my lack of fabric--I couldn't cut the sleeves full length--I used the cuff variation.  I cut the cuffs and the pocket welts on the bias as accents, and so I wouldn't have to match the plaids!

My buttons don't match but I'm ok with it.  I didn't want to use the larger buttons for the cuffs and I had these smaller gold buttons in stash (both types of buttons are from a Fabric Mart 4 pound bag several years ago).

Tweed Ride

Here is the full Tweed Ride regalia (all my Tweed Ride photos are here).  The skirt is Simplicity 5914 I made several years ago and never wear because the waist is too loose--I didn't tape it and it just stretched way out.  The only fix would be to take the skirt apart and resew the seams and I have not yet made my peace with that annoyingness.  Since the low waist was going to be covered by the jacket--and the trumpet shape is good for biking--I figured it would be ok.  The hat will be reviewed soon!


Although it looks costumey with the full on vintage thing going on, I think the blazer is wearable for every day (plaid matching issues aside.  UGH!).  It will be a challenge for me to find outfits to go with it because I wear so little solid color.  But how cute is it with jeans?  Too bad it's too cold for a light jacket already.  I just need one day where it doesn't get below 50 degrees at night...

I really like this pattern.  It's double-breasted without being 80s-evocative, the shaped hem in front is really nice but the higher back hemline prevents it from being dated (nothing says "I bought my suits for interviews in law school in 1999" like long jackets, not that this describes my sad suit collection, ahem).  The pocket situation is totally clever and well-drafted.  I don't know that I need two of these in my closet, but I am definitely hanging onto my tracing.  If this issue is in your archive, keep it in mind!

All photos are here and the pattern review is here.

Monday, November 18, 2013

DC PR Anniversary Weekend: Tour of Arena Stage Costume Shop

For Pattern Review's anniversary weekend, SewDC arranged for Joe Salasovich, Arena Stage's Costume Director, to give us a tour.  What a treat!  Joe was incredibly generous with his time and vast store of knowledge.  We toured not only the costume shop but the entire backstage area, including the craft shop (where dyeing, millinery, and other non-sewing costume work is done), wardrobe storage, hat storage(!!!), the wardrobing room, the hair salon (who knew?), and the scene shop. 
Padded Out Dress Form

We started in the costume shop, which is full of beautiful dress forms.  This padded out form was incredible!  Seeing that it is possible to make the form fit any size was inspiring to work with what I have (though my problem is the shoulders are too wide on all commercial dress forms and the bust too large).

Vintage Garment Inspiration

 Joe shared their process for making costumes.  They often start with vintage garments as inspiration, many of which come from his personal collection.  They study the garment and carefully examine the design lines as well as the construction techniques.

Muslin and Finished Jacket

When a design has been decided upon, everything is muslined and sometimes more than once.  If you look carefully at the muslin on the left you can see the safety pins that were used for fitting.  The final coat is on the right.  (Also notice the gorgeous roll of silk on the lower right!)

Brown Paper Patterns

Once perfect, patterns are traced onto brown paper and hung on hooks for future use and reference.

Costume Shop

Here's a panoramic view of the costume shop.  They have a mix of industrial and home machines.  Obscured by the table in the right is the Merrow industrial serger.  Gorgeous!  The boxes are for storage of notions, trims, decorations, and other miscellany like handkerchiefs.

The irons are industrial steam presses, and they use ironing tables rather than ironing boards, with hams and sleeve boards for shaping.  I was quite jealous of the ironing table.

Crafty Ryan Gosling

I was amused by the "Hey Girl" memes on one of the cutting tables.  They love Ryan Gosling at Arena Stage...

Plaid Matching OMG

One of the questions we had for Joe was whether the clothes were made to look good from the stage or up close.  He told us that all the clothes were movie ready.  When we passed this jacket hanging in the hallway, I knew he was telling the truth.  That level of plaid matching blows my mind.

Rusty Nails for "Printing"

The shop encourages creative solutions.  When they wanted to create sort of rough and worn looking garments with a print, they used rusty nails to imprint a pattern onto the hem of a dress.  Genius!


I would have loved to have spent a couple hours in the hat storage room with a mirror!  There were shelves and shelves of hats arranged by color.  They do some of their millinery in-house; I was drooling at their hat blocks and head forms.


Arena is celebrating Italian Culture this year and when we visited was in the process of setting up an exhibit of Italian couture (these enticing shipping crates were in the freight elevator).

Group Photo

It was a wonderful tour.  Inevitably for someone who sews, I worked in the costume shop at my college.  It was actually a great shop and the theater program at my tiny college is surprisingly professional, but this was definitely a whole new level.  Thanks so much to SewDC for organizing and Joe for the tour and the group photo!

All photos are here.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Outfit of the Week: A Simple Knit Skirt


Does it drive anyone else crazy when a sub-one-hour, super simple project gets more compliments than a complicated slog?  I finally got around to drafting a skirt unit for my TNT tee for making knit dresses (I have one in the queue to show you).  It took me a while but it finally dawned on me that I could also use it for just a skirt with no tee attached, and knocked off a quick one out of this floral sculpted knit fabric I found two years ago on the G Street $2.97/yd table


The seams are serged, it has an elastic waist, and I used a machine blind hem to sew the hem and the elastic waist casing.  It took 45 minutes and cost a couple of bucks.

I had a meeting with outside people, for which I generally tone down my usual "dressing like a parrot" style, so I paired the skirt with a black tee (which also didn't take much more than an hour to make using my TNT tee pattern) and black tights, and a cheap "statement necklace."  Easy.

Elastic Waist Closeup

And yet, I think just about every one of my (female) colleagues complimented this outfit, and particularly loved the skirt.  Maybe I should stop making anything that takes longer than an hour!  More photos here.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Resurgence of US Textile Manufacturing, Oh and Stashoholism Confessional

Note:  Blogger ate the originally published version of this post--changes were not made to the original text with any malicious intention!

The New York Times has done a couple of interesting articles recently on the return of some textile and garment manufacturing to the States.

First, they wrote about textile manufacturing, which is returning to US shores where the need for nimble responses to demand is a bonus.  The bad news is that the process has become much more automated in the past, and creates many fewer jobs than the textile mills did when they closed down and manufacturing moved overseas.  However, to my mind, a few good jobs is better than no good jobs.  And the reduced labor costs helps in the competitive pricing area so it's a bit of a catch-22.

Then there was an article on the search for skilled sewing labor to keep up with demand for US-made products.  When the jobs went overseas all the skills and knowledge evaporated.  The few people still around who worked in industrial sewing are generally past retirement age and not looking to return to the factory floor.  The article profiles a course for factory sewing that can't turn out graduates fast enough to meet demand for U.S.-made products.

I am 100% guilty of loving my huge wardrobe and deep closet, but this sort of clothes collecting only became available to the masses when jobs went overseas where labor is such a small part of the cost of clothing as to be negligible.  However, labor prices in the third world are rising as money flows into those economies, the cost of living increases, and expectations for standard of living rise.  I hope that we are reaching a new equilibrium that allows for liveable wages and good jobs on both sides of the ocean.


Fabric Mart 9-2013

I have been remiss in confessing some recent purchases.  Fabric Mart got me when they put silk at 40% off.  I'd been eyeing the peacock fabric on the left for a couple of months and finally pulled the trigger.  The side border print is challenging and will require a simple dress without a waist seam.  Would you believe that I have zero envelope patterns without waist seams?  They are essential for fitting with my swayback.  I'm going to try Burda 11-2007-110, a simple dress that will show off the print.

The rayon/mohair suiting was the impetus for the order, as it was the "crazy price" item.  It is much better quality than I had expected at that price and I like the subtle metallic windowpaning.  It will be a work dress.  The striped silk will be a shirtdress, and the mesh polka dot knit is because when do you *not* need mesh polka dot knit?  It will be a fabulous accent to any number of items.

Fabric Mart 10-2013 40% Off Sale

Well then a month later Fabric Mart had 40% off everything on the site.  Diabolical!  They know I can't resist that kind of deal.

The cotton twill is a heavy denim weight with a lot of stretch.  It will be a dress from Burda 08-2013-116.  I'd had my eye on the blue sweaterknit for a while; I love the butterfly wing abstract print and the colors.  It will be a long-sleeve tee and I might also be able to eke a dress out of it as it's very wide.  We'll see how it performs in sewing; it is rather thin and may be prone to rolling and/or disintegration.  The red circles knit is for a dress.  I ordered the gray to make a long sleeve Vogue 1282 Donna Karan cowl variation.  I don't know why I thought it would have a sweatery texture.  It was described as poly knit and it feels like poly knit.  I don't think it's a luxe enough fabric for that project, though I do like the color and print.

The J Crew silk was my "splurge" item.  The olive/antique gold floral print is even more gorgeous and lustrous in person than on screen.  It will be a long sleeve work top.  My first thought was a tie neck blouse, but I'm afraid we're on the tail end of that trend and I want this to be a top I can wear for years.  I'm not crazy about button front blouses--I feel like they're harder to wear with a skirt than pants, and I am in a skirt 98% of the time--which limits me a bit in the classic department.  Any ideas?

G Street 10-2013

I also paid a visit to G Street (incident to a necessary trip to Home Depot, I swear!).  They had these two sweaterknits on the bargain table.  The pink is very sheer and will be a cardigan.  The red is a bit thicker and will be a long sleeve tee.  I'll either line it or double the fabric, depending on how it behaves in cutting.  I am obsessed with never having the perfect red for t-shirts.  I don't know why it's such a compulsion for me, especially since red isn't even in my top 5 favorite colors!  My top five are turquoise, olive, hot pink/fuchsia, blue purple, orange, though my wardrobe doesn't much reflect my love of orange.  What are your top 5 colors?