Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Plaid Advance 6426

It's spring! Well, it's March at any rate, which is close enough for me. Time to start the short-sleeve sewing. This spring, I'm kicking it off with Advance 6426, a 1950s pattern and the perfect blouse by my estimation. Paired with this plaid shirting, I feel like I could be an extra in the original Parent Trap.
There's no way I would make the perfect blouse just once, so of course, this is my second time to sew up this little number. What appeals to me so much about the 1950s style of blouse is the tucks at the waist that give it shape. It makes it easier to tuck in, to be sure, but I also like that it still accentuates my waist a bit when untucked. 

I only made one fit tweak from the first version, and I narrowed the shoulders by 1/4". They're still sitting just off my shoulders, but the more I looked at the pattern, the more that I thought that was the intended style of the time. Once I finished, though, I was back to wondering if I should reshape the entire armscye the next time I sew it. Always tinkering! 
My dear friend Whitney took these photos, and it makes me positively giddy to see all these touches captured so beautifully. It's sewing eye candy. I thought I'd keep my ramblings to a minimum today so you can feast your eyes on these details! 
Happy spring(ish)!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Wool Pencil Skirt

Today's project is a fairly straightforward pencil skirt, with the addition of a little tab detail at the back. It's made out of a lovely wool I picked up in Asheville, North Carolina last year. It's got really nice color variation that's difficult to see in these photos, but there's nice greens and beiges mixed in there. It's just perfect for wearing to work, which is where I snapped these photos!
The pattern for the pencil skirt is made from my sloper. It's got 8 darts total on it, and I find I really enjoy the shape and detail of those darts. In the back, I used a tutorial on Tuppence Ha'Penny to make the small tab above the kick pleat. I used fabric-covered buttons on the tab and up top at the closure to match. 
One of my favorite things about sewing is adding little details like this! This is actually the same skirt as the one I made to match my Coco Chanel jacket, but it feels so different with a skinnier waistband and this pleat detail. 
I used a polyester lining on the inside to finish it off, and sadly, it's a particularly horrendous kind of polyester. It felt a little stiff when I picked it up at Joann's (they always get me in with those blasted coupons!), but I thought it would soften up in the wash. No luck there. I forged forward, not wanting to waste perfectly good, if poor quality lining. In hindsight, it seems a shame to have such nice wool paired with such crummy lining. 

Readers, do you have good sources you go to for linings? Something nice in quality that won't break the bank, perhaps? Bemberg is a favorite of mine, but I have a hard time finding it at reasonable prices.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Ninot Coat

Hot dog, I sewed a coat! A white swing coat to be precise, which came about as a combination of two coats I have adored dearly in my life. The first was a white faux fur coat that I had when I was four. It was a Christmas present from Santa my brother snooped out early, and my parents caught me ooh-ing and aah-ing, strutting around their closet. It was the first time I distinctly remember feeling glamorous. The second was an absolutely lovely vintage seafoam green swing coat that I found at a garage sale when I was in college. It got lost somewhere along the way, but I felt chic and adorable whenever I wore it. And now I have created a coat that combines all those wonderful things!
In addition to wanting a white swing coat, I also had it in my mind that I would wear it with a tremendous brooch. When I found this 1960s whopper on Etsy, I couldn't pass up the chance. 

Fit and Innards

For fit, the most significant change I made was to remove the shoulder pads. I have square shoulders, and I decided I liked the look of the coat without them. I needed some adjustments in the shoulder/armscye area anyway, consequently the fit waters are muddied. I don't think I could tell you at this point what change needed to happen because of me, and what to remove the shoulder pads! At any rate, here's the changes I made on the size 44: 
  • 3/8" forward shoulder adjustment
  • 1" added to sleeve for wide bicep (this is an unusual adjustment for me)
  • 3/4" removed from armscye front, 1/4" from armscye back
  • Length added to sleeve for armscye adjustments
  • 1/2" length removed from back yoke at armscye
  • 6" addded in length
As I mentioned on the in progress post, I added flannel interlining for extra warmth. I now see what Adele Margolis was so persnickety about with barely recommending sewing your interlining and lining as one. It was possible, but there is a lot of bulk that made it challenging to get a nice finish even on a coat as unstructured as this one. I likely won't try that method again, and I might not add interlining at all on future coats. I live in Texas for goodness sakes. It just doesn't get that cold! This is probably the heaviest coat I've ever owned. 

The Pattern

In terms of the Ninot Jacket pattern, overall, I highly recommend it. It is drafted well, and I was especially impressed at how nicely the sleeves went in. I also couldn't find a swing coat pattern I liked the style of quite as well, in other modern or vintage patterns. The instructions are good, but you'll likely need a companion tailoring book as they aren't particularly detailed.

I did have two small hiccups with the pattern, although in the telling of them, you will likely learn more about me and how I sew (namely that I am as persnickety as good 'ole Adele Margolis). When I first undertook the project, I started by lining up the pieces together to visualize how it would all go. It was here that I discovered a slight misalignment of about 1/8" on the back facing piece. I contacted Pauline Alice, and she double checked it. It turned out to be slightly less than 1/8", but she sent me a new facing piece and adjusted the published pattern. A very minor adjustment, but I've found it's hard to fudge and stretch fabric when you have multiple layers, so I appreciated it.
The second hiccup had to do with the buttons, and that has been a fascinating detour.  Pauline doesn't recommend a size for the buttons, but instead tells you how to adjust your bound buttonholes for the size you choose. In her example, she uses 1 1/2", so that's the size buttons I used. But, this lead me to question, does button size really matter? 

I brought it up on the Pattern Review forums, and I've gotten mixed responses. Some insist that it certainly does and it impacts if your garment is centered. Others say it's merely a matter of personal aesthetics. I asked my pattern making teacher from last year, and she said that it will matter if you have a defined placket, because that would have been designed with a certain width in mind. If your placket is undefined, as is the case in this coat, it won't matter. So I emailed with Pauline again, and she mentioned she expected people would stick to a certain range, so she is adjusting the supplies list.

I must say, it is a great project, indeed, when you end with the coat of your imagination, and you learn something new to boot!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

In Progress: Ninot Coat

Just before the season ends, I am determined to squeeze in sewing a coat. And I think I'm just about going to make it! So today I thought I'd share with you my progress so far on the Ninot Coat, Pauline Alice's Ninot Jacket pattern, which I've lengthened to be a swing coat.

I actually had fitting help on this from my tailoring teacher back when I was making my Coco Chanel Suit.  So my muslin and pattern adjustments were ready to go, but I was putting off the cutting. I knew it would take me an age! Here's the very first snip on my very first handmade coat.

It took me about four hours in total to get the whole thing cut. I've got 4 layers - fashion fabric, muslin to give extra body, a flannel interlining for warmth, and the lining. I cut the muslin with the fashion fabric, which I am treating as one layer, and the interlining with the lining. 

I looked up how to handle the interlining in Adele Margolis' The Complete Book of Tailoring, and although she seemed a bit snippy about it, she said that in an unstructured coat, you can get away with sewing the interlining and lining as just one layer. So I'm doing that, since a swing coat isn't structured at all! 
My fashion fabric is Lana Bolito Knit Wool (Hart's no longer has cream, but that's purple). It's got the texture of a boiled wool, and it's really lovely. I was a little worried about it being a knit, despite it being recommended for structured coats, but I confirmed with my tailoring teacher it wouldn't be a problem. She basically said that you can take a woven pattern and use a knit, you just can't go the other way. It's sewing up really nice, thankfully. But I'm jumping ahead! Here is my massive pile of fabric, post cutting. 
Next up was bound buttonholes. I added an extra one because of the addition 6" length I added to the jacket pattern, so I have four total. Here they are all basted up nice and tight. I'm also doing fabric-covered buttons to match.
Then welt pockets, which I had a small calamity with. First off, I stitched the inside wrong, and had a panic moment when I thought I had sewed the whole thing backwards. Thankfully that was an easy fix. Then I realized I made a silly mistake and cut my pockets out of my fashion fabric instead of the lining. After so much ripping and fussing for my first mistake, I didn't want to risk a hole in the pocket area, so I let bulky pockets lie and switched to lining fabric for my second one.

I've been watching a lot of "Parks and Recreation" while I've been sewing this coat, and if my coat was too perfect, I would have had to throw it out ala Ron Swanson so it didn't look manufactured. So thank goodness I made that welt pocket bungle. Tehehe. 
And lastly, a match point! This is the back yoke matched up with the sleeve. I must say, matching points on fabric this thick is quite a tricky beast. I've had to do a lot of hand basting first to get things to go the way they should. But it's worth it in the end! 
I'm so close now! I've just got all the finishes left, so lots of handstitching for me this week. I'm so giddy with excitement. It's looking just how I imagined it!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Corduroy Jumper

This lovely purple jumper has been just the thing for these extra chilly days in Austin lately. It really only gets cold here for about 3 months, and not even all of that, but lately we've had a string of days that made me glad I've done some winter sewing. For this dress, I used the bodice for the Wintertime Jumper from Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing and combined it with a circle skirt. The fabric is a 21 wale corduroy from Hart's in amethyst.
I've made the bodice once before, to somewhat disastrous results. The straps were completely wonky. If you aren't familiar with the concept of Gertie's book, she gives you patterns to start with, and then suggests alterations to achieve different looks. This is one of those variations where you modify a neckline. When I first made this dress, I had never done that big of a pattern change before, and I didn't yet realize that the patterns in this book were going to require substantial fit adjustments for me as well. It was too many variables!  I still wear it with a cardigan over it all the time, but I wanted a chance to redeem myself and do it right. So this time, I started over using my Cambie bodice as my jumping off point. What a difference 2 years makes!
Plaid Wintertime Jumper from 2013
I lined it with teal bemberg (and clearly didn't re-iron after wearing it...), and then finished it off with a matching belt. An aside on the matching belt - this was the first time in ages I've used the Maxant kit, and it was a lark! I normally use my Great Grandmother's belt buckles, trying to muddle through making my own template and attaching it. The template in the Maxant kit comes with an adhesive that helps you get it onto the buckle, making it very easy to get a nice finish. So, sorry Great Grandmother Mary. I will still use your button supplies, but I've found another buckle to love. 
With this fancy purple jumper done, I am now deep in the throes of coat making! I find there is a lot to say about that, so I'll share some in progress snaps with you here soon. Happy winter! 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Knitting Progress: Lavenda Jumper

Happy New Year one and all! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season. Mine was delightful, filled with lots of giggles from my little nephew, visits from old friends and meeting new friends, a tremendous amount of delicious food, and knitting! I caught the knitting bug just this year, and it's such a perfect activity for this time of year. So today I thought I would share with you a work in progress, the Lavenda Jumper from Susan Crawford's A Stitch in Time Volume 2. 

This is what it will look like when finished (hopefully):
Source
This is only my second sweater to knit, hence the hopefully. I'm really enjoying the pattern work on this one (is that how you say it, knitters?). I'm looking forward to those sleeves with all those bobbles, but for now I'm working on the front and have finished the back. 
It looks like I'll be knitting the neckband onto the front and back to attach it, and then I'll seam the rest. Reading the pattern has been much more difficult on this one than my first sweater, which was a guided Craftsy course. It's so rewarding, though! I love that with knitting, it's seemingly so lazy, and then after lots and lots of time, you've got yourself a lovely sweater! 

What are y'all up to? Working on anything fun?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Merry Main Street Dress

Happy Holidays, my sewing friends! I've been doing so much fancy sewing lately, I thought it was high time I made a really fun novelty print dress. This fabric is called "Merry Main Street" by Alexander Henry, and I searched for ages to get enough yardage for a dress. It's so perfectly retro and Christmas-y.
The pattern is vintage Simplicity 4565 with two adjustments. The first was that I lowered the neckline. I've realized with my full bust and short waist, a lower neckline is better on me. The second is the width of the pleats. Mine are about 1" wider than the pattern calls for, so I also have slightly less of them. I just didn't have wide enough fabric. I'll have to make this one again in a fancier fabric with those narrow pleats, because I am quite taken with the pattern envelope illustration. 
Source
This pattern called for a nifty little technique for the skirt opening, which saved me having to put in an invisible zipper as I've done for other half-shirtwaist dresses. You cut a dart, which is concealed in a pleat. The pattern recommended finishing with bias tape, but I decided I'd rather use my fabric. This is similar to what I did on my Dapper Day dress (vintage Butterick 8404), which had you put in a dart for the zipper. 
I wore this dress out for the first time to see a live radio broadcast of "Miracle on 34th Street," and I felt so wonderfully festive. Doesn't my house look festive, too?! I love to decorate for Christmas, and this year I managed three trees in my little house. My dear Papa made the Christmas dollhouse, and also collected the Kiddie Kars. My grandma also made the Christmas tree skirt that's beneath my big tree. Lots of makers in my family, and lots of wonderful memories with these decorations. I just love this time of the year, and it was such fun to sew up a dress just for the season.
Oxford and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas!