Tuesday, October 13, 2020

WHAT?! Another coatigan?

 Yup, but hold on -- there's a good reason for yet another coatigan. For one thing, the climate here is well suited to a light-weight coat or jacket and it could see wear far into December, then again as Spring approaches. But really, I mostly wanted to use up a length of boiled wool that had been hanging around the stash closet for a while (a couple of years? Maybe). Even though I find cool toned colors more flattering now that my hair is a silver/dark grey combo, I still have a goodly amount of warmer colors in nice fabrics from before -- and what better use than an outerwear garment that can go over the more flattering colors and then be removed when you go inside? See, reasons!

So, once more -- McCall's 7476 in view D, a nice shawl collar (a favorite of mine) and patch pockets for those necessary items when out for a brisk walk in the autumn air. Which is pretty much my only reason for leaving the house these days. 

The pockets were upsized just a bit, and given a slightly slanted top. Instead of a raw edged finish on the sleeve and bottom hems I did three rows of top stitching on a turned up hem. The collar also has the same topstitching, as does the top edge of the pockets. Shoulder and side seams were sewn conventionally, not lapped, and were topstitched on either side of the seam in order to hold down the seam allowances. Only one row on either side of the seam though, not the triplicate of the hems. By some feat of serendipity I found a vintage button in my collection that nicely matched the color of the boiled wool, and instead of a buttonhole I made a simple thread chain to loop around it.

There was some pants sewing also, but not pictured. Nothing much to be seen from navy pants on a hanger. The pattern used was Vogue 8909, an athletic style pant for woven fabrics. So -- sweatpants with pretentions. The fabric used was a Tencel twill from Stylemaker Fabrics. As you would expect, it frayed fairly easily, but was pleasant to sew. 

I'm a bit "meh" about them. They fit, and will get worn, but they won't be a favorite reached for again and again. I made view B, which has self-fabric elasticated cuffs and I knew sewing them up that they were slightly cropped (i.e. above ankle length) but I was hoping to step outside my comfort zone and try something new. Umm, no. That length just doesn't feel as comfortable in this style of pant (to me). Well, live and learn. 

Still hoping to get started on the slacks block pattern from Connie Crawford, but I keep putting it off for other things. I think because I know this block/sloper pattern will require much more work than the two shirt patterns of hers that I just made up. 

Monday, September 28, 2020

B is for Basics

Lots of sewing -- lots of pics.

The weather finally turned cool for a short moment (warm and humid today though, ugh!) and I finally got the urge to sew up a few things for autumn. Nothing fancy, nothing to 'ooh and ahh' over -- just down to earth basics that will see a lot of wear. And the best thing? All from patterns that have been sewn before, so just straight, fast sewing with not a care in the world about fit. 

 I've been a big fan of Style Arc patterns for years now, and I reached way back in the pattern drawer for their Cosy Cardi. It's a streamlined cardigan -- no frills, drapes or fussy bits -- but it's one I reach for time and again. I was using a knit with very little stretch, so this one got graded up in circumference with the length remaining the same. 

It will be worn open, so no buttons or snaps -- the thick knit doesn't lend itself to either. In the photo it's pinned together at the neck so as not to expose the model. Yes, it's just a bit of plastic, but I'm not about to risk running afoul of internet standards.

Next another Style Arc pattern -- Brooklyn. This is sewn in a double sided knit, black with white spots on one side, black and white stripes on the other. It's a loose boxy top and will work well in cooler weather with an under layer.

A twinset (of sorts):  The cardigan is McCall 6844 and the pullover is a mash up of Pamela's Patterns Perfect Tee and the cowl from Sewaholic Patterns Renfrew Top (links in next garment). Fabric is a grey rayon/poly rib knit from Fabric Mart.

I've combined two patterns in the next make -- Pamela's Patterns Perfect Tee for the body, and Sewaholic Patterns Renfrew Top for the cowl neck.

Anyone noticing a neckline trend? Yes, I do love a cowl neck. Fabric is a bamboo jersey from Emma One Sock.

It can't be All Cowls All the Time though -- the next one is Kwik Sew 3658. I love the bamboo jersey knit from Emma One Sock and hope it holds up in the laundry, but I'm a bit nervous that the white markings may crack with repeated washing. Although it is a vee neck, it comes up in the back to keep my neck nice and cozy. 

And lastly, a garment from last season that I don't think ever was featured. I know it was made too late to be worn in the autumn and it really isn't a style for really cold weather. It's a coat/cardigan combo (coatigan?) and is McCall 7476.

Again, it's pinned at the neckline to preserve plastic modesty, but will be worn open, or with a beaded silver/grey kilt type pin that I have.

The fabric is a dark grey boiled wool/rayon blend and the trim is a knit which I think is a wool or wool blend popcorn textured fabric. Both were from Fabric Mart, but I'm sure they are long since sold out.

And a closer look at the trim fabric:

Still no slacks, but I finally got the Connie Crawford slacks/pants sloper, so I hope to start on that soon. 

Saturday, September 12, 2020

The Best Laid Plans...

 ...or, what didn't make the cut.

Normally before sewing starts for a new season I lay out the fabric I want to use, and then search through the pattern stash for what I want to make it into. I leave the fabric out on the counter in the sewing room as a reminder.  But this season life got abnormal. So here are the fabrics that didn't make their debut this season.

I had great hopes for refining the fit on a pair of woven slacks. I was bound and determined to make the Gobi  culottes -- neither happened. In fact, no slacks, culottes or shorts happened. Sigh.

  I am thinking of working with the Connie Crawford pants block from Islander Sewing. I've had very good results with the two bodice blocks of hers that I have recently fitted, so hopes are high that the pants sloper might work out too. I feel good about the fit I get from the Style Arc knit pants draft, but a nicely fitted woven slack eludes me.  The grey twill may still be in play if that happens.

This was the season I was going to make a couple of loose, flowy, silk tops. Nope.

The Liberty silk (background) has been featured before, the red silk from Fabric Mart hasn't  -- these still have a (small) chance to be sewn up soon, but the problem is -- where will I wear them?  Silk is definitely not my go to fabric for everyday/around the house wear.    

Then there were two pieces of woven cotton -- the grey gingham check was slated to be a tunic length shirt, the overdyed seersucker almost made it into a Style Arc top. I'm sad about the grey gingham -- that is a seriously nice piece of cotton shirting. Sold by Fabric Mart as a Thomas Mason shirting, it would make a great man's shirt too, if one were so inclined (I am not.)

And lastly, a border print rayon challis. Sorry rayon challis -- you did not get made into a short-sleeved summer top. Better luck next season!

So, into the stash closet for these fabrics. What will take their place on the counter for autumn sewing? Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

World's Simplest Hat Pattern?


 It's The Egg Hat by Center For Pattern Design and is described:

"The bias-cut Egg Hat is inspired by Madeleine Vionnet's approach to pattern design. It is a simple, clean design which is easy to assemble and yet delivers a timeless elegance typical of her manner."

At the moment, the website seems to be undergoing some restructuring and not all patterns are shown, so here's a peek:

I had a large scrap of navy felted wool so I thought I'd (finally) give it a try -- the pattern has been living in the pattern stash for several years. As it happens, that was not a great choice in fabric for two reasons.  One, the felted wool, even cut on the bias, had zero stretch. (Duh!) But more importantly, it also rubbed off navy dye all over my hands when working with it.  Nope -- I may be a granny, but I can do without blue hair, thank you very much! It's funny, I never noticed that problem when cutting a vest out of the rest of the fabric, but I suspect there was a lot more handling of the fabric with the hat.  At any rate, there's a cut out vest I won't be finishing.

There is only one pattern piece -- an ellipse -- that is cut out twice.  Looks like this:

Sewn right sides together, then turned and folded in on itself, like so:

Scootch up one side into soft pleats and either secure the pleats with stitches, or as I did -- with a pin.  Done!

And a side view:  

While this one will end up as a test model, I do intend to make up another one -- next time in something that will have a bit of stretch, as this one was just too tight for comfort.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Playing with blocks

 I think I need to forget about doing a coordinated wardrobe module and just call this what it is -- "the summer of tops". That has been the bulk of what I've sewn since March, and it continues. Perhaps autumn can be the "the season of slacks" and I can back into a planned wardrobe.

At any rate, I have put some planning into the next two tops. I am a big fan of a shoulder princess seamed top pattern. It suits my build, and is (fairly) easy to tweak the fit for narrow shoulders, large bust, thickening waist, etc., etc. My original go to pattern for this top of shirt had been Simplicity 8053 (now discontinued). It had a sleeveless view, collarless vee neck, regular shirt collar, 3/4 length hemmed sleeve, cuffed long sleeve and tunic length and regular shirt length. It served me well, but after numerous hacks, changing sizes and changing lengths -- plus fit adjustments -- it was pretty much a mass of tan tissue and Scotch tape. It was time for something new.

So, when I saw this I thought it was worth a try. It's a sloper or block (and I have no idea what the difference is) for the very style I needed. Basically, it's a fitting pattern -- you are meant to use it as a guide once you have it fit -- either to add your own customization (collars, sleeve style, etc.) or to check the fit of a commercial pattern of the same style.  Since shoulder princess shirts are fairly scarce in the pattern books, I intend to use the basic sloper and add my own details.  Most likely I will take details from already drafted patterns and add them to the bodice. I have drafted a few simple pattern details from scratch, but my skills are very basic and I see no reason to 'reinvent the wheel' if the details I want can be found in other patterns. Like most who have been sewing for a while I have an extensive library of patterns. 

I made up my test sloper with minimal changes. I shortened the armhole length (and the corresponding sleeve cap height) which is something I need to do for many commercial patterns. I sized the test garment by full bust measurement (as directed in the instructions) but graded out to a larger size in the hip. This change ended up being unnecessary. Although I normally need to narrow the shoulder, I left it as drafted. All the pattern pieces were nicely drafted and went together very smoothly. Results? A pretty good fit right off the bat -- with a few tweaks needed. The shoulders were amazingly close to what I need, although a small amount can be shaved off for a closer fit. The bust fullness needed to be lower -- no surprise there -- gravity is not a friend to the well endowed. As mentioned, the extra width in the hip was not needed, although for my first trial garment I left it in since I was going for a flowing summer top.

For this I scooped the front neckline and seamed the front up the center. The short sleeves came with the pattern. The top of the center seam is simple turned back and stitched down and closes with a thread loop and button. The back neckline was lowered a bit also.

For my second make, I went for a shirt styling. I wanted something that would be good in the heat (which will remain for quite a while) but also have a bit of autumn vibe. I ended up with this:

The neckline is raised back to a regular shirt/collar height -- only the stand was sewn to keep to a summer look. The sleeves (and armhole) were taken from a Vogue pattern, but faced with a contrasting fabric instead of hemming. One sleeve in the photo has been folded back to show that. Some hip width was removed, but more will be needed for a streamlined look. Although a small amount was taken from the shoulder width, a bit more could be removed -- perhaps due to a different fabric? Or, more likely, I wasn't as careful as I could have been in transferring the different armhole shaping to the block. I ended up using natural shell buttons from Wawak as I didn't have enough of the black ball buttons I wanted to use. Although not perfect (as absolutely none of my makes are) I am well pleased with this and will make this my basic sloper for a shoulder princess seamed shirt.  In fact, I decided to go ahead a get the block/sloper for a regular darted shirt. I do love my princess seams, but sometimes a darted shirt works better for stripes, plaids and the like. 

And here's a closer look at the shirt fabric : 

The main fabric is an Italian cotton shirting from Emma Onesock -- lovely stuff, as are most of Linda's selections. The contrast fabric is Liberty Tana lawn from The Fabric Store, a New Zealand company that has a fabulous selection of merino knits, plus lovely linen and some nice Liberty fabrics. 

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Topping Up

 It's been a crazy few days -- which makes it a random Saturday in 2020. Ventured out the other day for the first time since March to a public space (other than neighborhood walks) and it felt quite strange. Precautions were taken, but there was still a level of discomfort. It certainly made me appreciate even more all the essential workers who are out there everyday to keep us safe and keep things going. On to some sewing...

All my plans for a (somewhat) coordinated summer wardrobe have flown out the window. Loss of 'sewjo', lethargy and not having much need for anything new being the main culprits.  I have made a few simple things from my tried & true (i.e. already fitted) patterns and for some reason they all seem to be tops. They also mostly seem to be navy blue or black, so my not so good phone pics will be even harder to see -- so be it.

The recently shared lemon print got made up into a Style Arc Anita peasant style top.  I even managed two tiny tassels that look pretty good and have held up through a wash.

This was a rayon challis from Telio, purchased at fabric.com.  I love the print, but the fabric itself just doesn't have the same body as the rayon challis from Cotton + Steel. Still, it's a fun, breezy summer top and will get some wear.

I was disappointed with the top I did make from some Cotton + Steel rayon challis, also recently shared.  This disappointment is entirely on me.  I really wanted to have some flowing 3/4 length sleeves and in a major idiot move didn't purchase enough fabric to do that. Arghhh! Why is it so hard to remember that it's a narrower width fabric and I need more yardage? At any rate -- a simple short sleeved loose top based on the Loes Hinse pattern 'Rochelle'.

(apologies -- since the Blogger change I haven't a clue how to position the pics in anything but the center of the page -- eventually I hope to master this)

Also, a couple of tees -- these are made from Pamela's Perfect Tee pattern. 

The navy/white stripe is a 100% cotton jersey from Organic Cotton Plus -- very nice stuff, as is pretty much everything from there.  The black tee is a mix of cotton/hemp from fabric.com.

And finally, a tank top -- this is also a Pamela's Pattern, and is a Telio bamboo jersey. Hardly visible, but the trim is simply the reverse side of the black pin dot fabric. Because it's a jersey, the reverse side is purl stitch, but it matters not to me. 

There was one new pattern made, from Love Notions, a pair of Namaste pj's. Those are currently being worn, so no pics -- you're welcome.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Full On Norma Desmond

Well, it was bound to happen. After making (and wearing) wide, turban-style headbands it was only a matter of time until I tried the full turban.

Thinking it would be too artsy or costume-y looking made me pause, but at the end of the day I decided I just didn't care. My hair, my hair cover up. Anyway, who was going to see it and roll their eyes -- my family? Ha! Bring it people -- moms have their own deep wells of embarrassing childhood moments which could be easily retrieved to counter any snarks or snickers. If one were so inclined, of course.

At any rate, the pattern is Surimani by Opian available on Etsy or The Foldline and is listed as suitable for stretch or woven fabric. Two sizes available, with instructions in French and English. I used a large scrap of Art Gallery cotton/Lycra jersey to make my toile and made it up in the smaller size, figuring the fabric would stretch if needed. If memory serves (and it often doesn't) the finished sizes were 56 and 60cm -- translated to American -- about 22.04" and 23.6".

And the result? Not bad at all, in fact, kind of fun. It's comfortable to wear in a cotton jersey -- not too heavy or constricting -- not much more "head feel" than a wide headband. Added warmth might be a factor for some -- temperatures here are currently running in the high 80's, low 90's with heavy humidity (31+C to 32+C to the rest of the world), but I don't plan on being out in that anyway.  I like it worn back a bit on the head and with some hair showing around the face, but with the back hair tucked away.

The pattern itself is 6 pages in PDF format, but only 4 pages need to be taped together. Instructions are brief, but this is a fairly simple design so that shouldn't be an issue. It was a little unclear to me exactly where the back pleats should be started up from the band, but checking  a back view photo (on Etsy) gave me a good idea. I'm not sure how critical that is anyway. My only deviation from the instructions was to fused down the serged edges of the front opening to the inside of the turban so they wouldn't peek out when worn. I also tacked the small band (part C, called a "bow") to the seam allowance of the band so the seam of the "bow" wouldn't migrate out to the public side.