Thursday, February 19, 2015

Blogger meet-up

This past Saturday I had the awesome pleasure of meeting Renee of Miss Celie's Pants in person during her mini break to San Antonio. Even though she's done this sort of thing dozens of times all over the world, this was the first time I've ever meet someone from the online sewing community. We went for BBQ on a beautifully sunny and warm day and sat talking for couple hours. She and Jordan are such interesting and fun people, and I thoroughly enjoyed my meal with them. Plus all my kids were home with Justin so I got to have an actual adult conversation without interruption!

She brought me gifts:

Three long zippers that will be perfect for outerwear and two kinds of fun buttons in various sizes. I brought her... nothing, because I didn't know that's what you do when you meet a fellow sewist. Sorry Renee!

We went for lunch instead of doing something like fabric shopping because there's seriously no places like that here except JoAnn's and Hancock Fabrics, and who wants to add polyester to their stash? San Antonio might have a lot of stuff to do and see, but practically no sewing or fashion community.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Vogue 1317 - Gray wool knit dress w/ black topstitching

When this Chado Ralph Rucci designer pattern first came out in 2012, I snapped it up faster then lightning. Interesting seam lines and loads of topstitching? It practically had my name written on it. Of course it had to marinate in my stash for a few years while I mulled over the changes I wanted to make.

The first two givens were to eliminate the front ties and raise the neckline slit. I don't find extra bulk around my waist to be flattering. Also I wanted to carve out the neckline a bit because of my phobia of feeling choked. I'm not a pockets-in-the-dress lover so I left those off. I lengthened the bodice 1 3/8" for a long torso adjustment. (Can that be a thing, like the FBA? If I start typing LTA, will y'all know what I'm talking about?) Because of the added length at the waist, I didn't have to lengthen the bottom at all.

I liked the length of the sleeves on the designer example but I noticed that other people who made this pattern had sleeves a little above their wrists. I cut my sleeves 2.5" shorter and used the sleeve facings from a bigger size. The fabric is a beefy wool knit I've had in my stash for years. I actually used a bit of it for this colorblocked dress I made 3 years ago, so was on fabric fumes for this dress. (I got rid of that dress years ago during a closet purge. It was too short and always made me feel self conscious.)

I cut the size 10 for the bodice, tapered out to a 12 at the waist and hips, and got a very nice fit. This is my usual Vogue sizing, but I did use a knit. The fabric suggestions for this dress are doubleknit and synthetic suede. I don't know how much arm mobility you would have with a woven fabric, but you'd definitely need to go up a size.

When I got the top finished and tried it on my dressform, it was really roomy under the bust and around the front waist seaming. On the original, the ties pull this area in for a snugger fit. As I had left the ties off my dress, I chose to add darts. I didn't have enough fabric to re-cut the front waist inset to make it smaller, so I put a seam down the center. It's not topstitched and blends in pretty well. I also had to add a seam down the center front of the underskirt, which you can't see from the outside. The center front skirt was trimmed on the sides. Each dart eliminated 3/4" of fabric, so I took a total 1.5" off the dress diameter.

I love how the sleeves turned out! The fabric has striations in it, which meet in in Vs along the outer seams.

This design has a TON of topstitching. The seams have a double line and all the openings have triple. I used heavy duty thread and a longer stitch length to make them really pop.

Another thing I loved about this pattern was all the facings included. However, since I had such limited fabric, I was forced to use a different fabric for them. I chose a black ponte knit to match the black topstitching. I think it looks awesome peeking out at the sleeve slits that flip up a little when it's being worn, and at the hemline when I'm walking. I trimmed each facing close to the 3rd line of topstitching.

Dressform pictures:

I had a lot of fun making this garment, but I did get really tired of topstitching towards the end. I have decided I love Chado Ralph Rucci and have been scouring Ebay and Etsy for some of his discontinued patterns. They are mostly all challenging with interesting design details. (Some of his shapes are a little beyond my comfort zone though, like that new coat that everyone on the internet went gaga for.) I adore his newest pattern with the complicated jacket design. Who knows when I'll get around to it though.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Vogue 8933 - Hot pink wool coat

I am not fond of winter. Having lived my entire life in south Texas, I am a winter wimp. The only thing I do like about cold weather is the reason to wear cute outerwear. For the past 3 or 4 years I have purchased a coat in January after they are all put on sale, and have the standard colors of beige, black and white. (Also yellow, but that’s not exactly a standard color.) This year I decided to try my hand at making one in a bright hue. I swatched this bright pink and purple checked wool from Mood Fabrics and fell in love with its texture and weight.

I chose Vogue 8933 because it has simple lines and wouldn’t cut up the large squares of my fabric too much. I really liked the angled fronts of this design as well as the asymmetrical closing and welt pockets. I had to cut the collar way down as I feel chocked in high necklines. The back collar is 2″ high, so I believe it was reduced by at least 2.5″. As drafted, the collar of this coat is super tall. The overlap was also very wide, so I trimmed it down on both sides as well. I did that on the fly, though, and just eyeballed it to what I thought would look good.

Another fun thing about this pattern is the ability to wear it in different ways. I can snap it all the way up on cold days when I want my neck to stay warm or unsnap the top when I want more of a casual look. And I LOVE the pockets! I finally conquered my fear of making welts and am so proud of these. This pattern does include side pockets so you can choose which ones you want to undertake. I chose the welt pockets to add a bit of interest.

I cut a straight size 12, my usual Vogue size, and made no alterations for fit. The only changes I did make, other then the collar, were to interface the welt area on the coat, leave off the interfacing on the actual welt flaps and omit the topstitching. I also added 1/4″ shoulder pads. I cut the fabric in a single layer in order to match the lines horizontally and vertically, and I cut the backs so that they would have the same size squares down the center seam.

Typically, when working with wool fabrics, I’ll throw them in the dryer with a damp towel and dry on hot. I forgot to do that this time until after it was all cut out. Happily, when I tested a square with my high powered steam iron, it did not shrink. This fabric has a black webbing on the underside which makes it not ravel as easily as other textured coatings I’ve worked with.

Dressform pictures:

Here you can see the texture of the fabric better. The website calls the color of the lines grayhound but I found them more of a lavender.

I love the look of these giant snaps but they always take forever to sew on. I did my own thing when placing them on the coat. The directions call for hooks and eyes at the top of the collar which I ignored. Also, since I changed the size of the collar, I had to position the other ones so that the front would fall open nicely when the top snap was undone.

I used a lavender viscose lining for the interior, also from Mood. It’s a little thicker then ambiance and I thought it would be good for a coat. All the hems were done by hand which I actually really enjoy.

This is the first coat I’ve ever made and I’m thrilled with the results. I’m not a huge pink lover but this hot pink is such a happy color. If I have to put up with the cold I might as well do so in something that makes me smile.

Note: Both fabrics were purchased with my Mood Fabrics monthly allowance, as part of my participation in the Mood Sewing Network.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Outfit of the day - Sweatshirt Saturday

My Saturdays are usually spent sleeping in, having a late breakfast, taxing the boys to their various practices (golf for Nathan, swimming for Daniel), and a family errand or two. I like to look put together, comfortable and casual. This fashion sweatshirt I made while pregnant is perfect for that. I paired it white my red leather jacket, waxed skinny black jeans and metallic wedges.

I was hoping to post the coat I've been working on for the past few weeks but I still have some finishing to do on it and don't want to rush my way through. After wrangling large amounts of fabric around and putting up with the mess of clipped threads and graded seam bits, the finishing of a lined garment is always my favorite part.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

McCall's 3830 - White lace skirt

I have wanted a white lace skirt for several years now. They were all over fashion blogger's websites awhile back and I kept pinning them to my "sewing inspiration" Pintrest board. After swatching several white laces I finally settled on this beautiful white re-embroidered lace from Mood Fabrics. It had the textural qualities I was looking for as well as the large scalloped edges. For the underlining and lining I used a soft taupe silk crepe de chine, also from Mood.

The pattern is my TNT straight skirt pattern, McCall's 3830, which I have made numerous times. In order to have an uninterrupted scalloped hemline I had to peg the skirt slightly, making it more of a pencil shape then a straight skirt. I used the exact same sewing techniques for this skirt as I did my green lace skirt, so you can visit that post if you want more information. (Also I can't get this skirt over my dressform's hips for any nice interior pictures.)

For this skirt I opted to use some white Petersham grosgrain ribbon for the waistband. This is an easy method for making a waistband that doesn't need any handstitching along the inside. I have done this once before for yet another lace skirt, and was quite pleased with the outcome.

I was careful when cutting out the lace to match the motifs along the center back seam. I tried my best to match them along the side seams as well, but because of the pegged hem there is some slight twinning there. You have to really squint to see it though, so it doesn't bother me. I'll bet you didn't even notice it until I pointed it out, right?

Other then the extra care that goes into sewing with slippery silk fabrics, this was an easy garment to stitch up. I think I have enough lace skirts in my closet now. ;)

This little girl wanted in on the photo shoot!
Note: Both fabrics were purchased with my Mood fabrics monthly allowance, as part of my participation in the Mood Sewing Network

Friday, January 2, 2015

Outfit of the day - Casual silk

Happy New Year to you all!

I've done a year end review only once or twice in the 7 years I've had this blog, but honestly this year there's not that much to review. I only made 15 things, a few of which were maternity that never got worn (which is why I don't make maternity) and a few were dresses for my daughter. I was pregnant most of the time and either had low energy or no mojo. HOWEVER, this year I am determined to sew more and try to do a better job of keeping up with this blog.

To that effort, here's what I wore today running around doing errands with my kids. I'm wearing my Vogue 1367 blouse that I made while pregnant, which really is a great item to throw on with a pair of skinny jeans and boots and run out the door.

My 10 year old took these pictures and I think he did a pretty great job.
I do have a new skirt to get pictures in but that will have to wait until the weekend when I have access to a more senior photographer.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Vogue 1203 - Fit and flare black w/ red polka dotted wool skirt

First I want to thank everyone who left a kind and heartfelt comment on my last post about baby Joshua. Your well wishes and encouragement really made my week. Adjusting to life as a family of six has definitely had its challenges (the laundry! packing!!) but I am gradually figuring it out.

Understandably there hasn't been a whole lot of sewing going on around here. I have managed to make a skirt out of some lovely Rebecca Taylor wool from Mood fabrics. I’ve been eying this fabric for awhile now but couldn’t quite envision what I wanted to make out of it. It’s been sitting in one of my many Mood boards just waiting patiently. I tend to go for bright/sparkly/interesting fabrics and this black wool is more quiet and subdued. But then I was checking through some of my boards hunting for fabrics that have sold out since I added them – as you do if you are as fabric obsessed as I am – and I saw that it was almost sold out. Ack! Into the cart it went, even though I still had no idea what I was going to do with it. And pretty much right after it arrived I knew exactly what I wanted to make.

This pattern is a Tracy Reese designer pattern that came out in 2010. Sadly it is now OOP, and I couldn't even find it on Vogue's website in their out-of-print area. (Though looking these patterns I see tons that I own and still plan to make. This is what happens when you let things marinate in your stash forever and a day.) One of the things I really love about this pattern is the shaped waistband. You can’t tell from the line drawing on the envelope, but the waistband flares out at the top, giving some nice breathing room to the wearer. I also adore the fit and flare shape. It's a nice change from the standard pencil or A-line that I normally go for.

Since my “print” was at such a small scale, I knew I could get away with a design with lots of pieces. However, I had to consider this fabric a stripe when cutting it out and stitching it up as I wanted all my dots to line up. Most of the work was done while laying it out on a single layer of fabric. I was also careful to pin the lines of dots as precisely as possible before running the seam through my machine.

Instead of the exposed metal zipper called for in the pattern I used an invisible black zipper. The envelope calls for a 9″ zipper but I didn’t paying attention and used my standard length zipper for a skirt which is 7″. Since this is a high waisted skirt I am sure I will have to wiggle into it. Next time I will use a longer zipper.

This wool pressed beautifully and was easy to work with. I would have been done with this skirt in record time but I at first thought I wanted to use the reverse side for the center front and center backs. It didn’t look as great as I thought it would so I took all the pieces apart and resewed them with the right sides facing out.

I tried really hard to line up my dots across the top of the skirt and waistband, and had to restitch this area several times. Also the waistband was abnormally large for a Vogue pattern. Normally I have to let this area out to accommodate my square shape but for this pattern I had to actually grade down for the waist.

The full lining was made in black ambiance from my stash. One thing to note is turning up the hem of the lining 1.5″ per the pattern instructions did not work very well with the flare of the bottom. I tried several different methods to make it work and finally had to cut off the excess fabric and do a simple 5/8″ double fold hem.

I am sure you are all tired of these dressform pictures. It's just not the same as seeing it on an actual body, right? Hopefully it won't be very much longer until I'm back in my pre-pregnancy clothing and am able to model my sewing creations. Yesterday for the first time I got a pair of skinny jeans on. (Never mind the muffin top covered by my loose blouse.)