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! 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Red Wool Pants

Happy December! I thought I'd start off the month right with a festive pair of trousers. I am bound and determined to perfect the fit on a pair of pants, and I am getting closer. This set is made of a red wool remnant from Britex, and my tailoring teacher drafted them for me.
On previous pants patterns, I've never got the crotch quite right. I've got a "J-shape" crotch that causes a bit of excess fabric at the front. As an aside, it astounds me the things I'm willing to confess due to sewing. The shape of my crotch is not something I expected to one day be writing on the internet about, for one. But it does create interesting fit challenges in making pants, so I mentioned this to my tailoring teacher and brought in some pants I had made to show her examples of what was happening. We ended up using one of those flexible curve rulers that holds it's shape to get it right, and that finally did the trick!

We went through several fit iterations, and in the last version we made two tweaks that I think are actually working against me in the finished pant. The first was that we took the darts in a little bit, and the second was that we raised up the back a bit. Just under the waistband, there is a simdge of fabric curling up. I think it's because they're a little snug, and a little too long, especially in the back. So a reason to make another pair to perfect it!
Wool is itchy, so I decided to fully line these. I used rayon bemberg, yet again. It's just so soft and light! I haven't done a fly front with a lining before, so I looked it up on "Threads" and found a good article in #158. It seems a bit odd, so I'm still not sure I've done it right. It's functional, though. The idea is that you hand stitch down the lining to the underlap, and as you near the end of the zipper, you leave a little gap and then handstitch the lining to the overlap. 
Oh, pants. What's funny is that on the first pair of pants I sewed (that didn't contain an elastic waist at least), I thought, "Pants aren't hard! People are nutty. These are good, maybe just a few tweaks." Well, I have to admit that those few tweaks have been hard! This pair is a big step forward, though, and I really enjoy the bright red fabric. If you've got any suggestions for me on the fit, fire away!  

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Brocade Wiggle Dress

Ring a ding ding! This is the Wiggle Dress from Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing. I made it to wear to a rehearsal dinner for a dear friend's wedding in New Orleans, and I have never felt so va-va voom in my life. And look at this fabric! It's a silk brocade from Britex in San Fransisco.
I've sewn two dresses from Gertie's first book, and both required substantial fit adjustments. I was shocked when I did a muslin for this one, and discovered that the changes were minimal. I sewed a size 10, and only had to make four changes: 
  1. Shorten the waist by 3/4". 
  2. Remove 1/2" to the underarm at the sleeve. 
  3. Add 1/2" to the upperarm at the sleeve. 
  4. Took in the hips, 1" to start and tapering down to nothing.
Below was my one and only muslin, before any fit changes were pinned in place. You can see I'm already pleased as punch.
The dress has a kimono sleeve, so the underarms have gussets to allow for mobility. I hadn't sewn a gusset before this, and I found I really liked both the construction and the way it moves while wearing it. I did make one change to the instructions - I added a small square of interfacing at the point of the gusset for extra durability. 
The pattern originally calls for facings, but I decided I wanted to do a full lining instead. It looks so much nicer, and is much more comfortable. I used a rayon bemberg, and it's so soft! 
For the slit, I followed the pattern in the book, but I think I much prefer the method I used on my suit pencil skirt. It's more of a fan than separate pieces, and it's much less bulky when you have a lining. You can see the two vent variations in this tutorial from Tuppence Ha'Penny. 
I did have one calamity with this dress at the 11th hour, and it had to do with hemming. I somehow managed to stitch the underarm sleeve seam of the lining to the upperarm seam of the fashion fabric. The result was a twisted mess. I realized it when I put on the finished dress, and couldn't get my arm in! Thankfully it was easily fixed, although tedious to rip and redo a lot of hand stitching. Minus that one hiccup, this dress was an absolute dream to sew and wear! 

I predict there will be more of this silhouette in my future. I found my wiggle! 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Blog Hopping

My pal Dixie of Dixie DIY nominated me for the blog hop, so let's get leaping!

How does my blog differ from others in its genre? 
It's written by me! That sounds quite silly, but I really think it's true. Before I started Rosie Wednesday, I had a good friend that had been pushing me to start a blog for a long time, and I kept telling her I didn't think I had anything new to add. She argued back that since no one else was me, of course my perspective on sewing would be unique. As Oscar Wilde said, "Be yourself; everyone else is already taken."

That being said, I don't blog for me, so I did set out with a couple of things I wanted to do. For example, I knew I wanted to be honest about my mistakes in sewing and not be shy about sharing them with you. We all make mistakes, and figuring out what to do to fix them or not make them again is how we learn. I thought it would be a shame to make it seem like all my projects turn out perfect, but I do love them anyway!

And I wanted to tell stories, because it's how I talk, and I think that's more engaging to read. Almost every project has a story behind it, and I like rooting that out of all that happened in making it and assembling it back together again for you in a post.

How does my creative process work? 

I love studying creativity, and it's been fun to read everyone's answers on this one during the blog hop. John Cleese has an excellent talk on creativity, where he explains "open mode" and "closed mode." When we're in open mode, we're just that, open. We're more playful, willing to explore the wackiest of ideas, more relaxed. When we're in closed mode, we're focused, executing. Lots of factors can go into why you're in one or the other, or how you could move from one to the other, but my creative process will depend on what mode I'm in at the time.

In an open mode, I'll seek out inspiration from grandmother's outfits, old Hollywood, architecture, anywhere. In closed mode, I find a pattern I like and I sew it up. While I'm sewing in open mode, I'll explore new techniques or details I could add. In closed mode, I'll stick to the instructions and techniques I know. One isn't better than the other, but it's a different kind of work and finished project.

What are you working on now? 
A coat! I am using the Ninot Jacket pattern, and turning it into a swing coat. Pauline Alice did this variation, and I thought it was lovely. I've got the muslin fitted and pattern adjustments made, and I think it's going to look smashing. I recently got Adele Margolis' The Complete Book of Tailoring, so now I'm trying to study up on how to put a fleece interlining to make it warmer.
Source
My fabric is a cream wool blend, and I have a black and white polka dot lining. I'm visiting the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina for my birthday next month with family, and I'm hoping to get it done in time for the trip! 

What are y'all working on?