Sunday, January 29, 2017

Black Embossed Scuba Knit Dress

I have a love/hate relationship with scuba knit. On the one hand it's a really interesting fabric and the weight and slight insulation properties make it perfect for Texas winters. On the other hand it does not like to stay pressed and I like a crisp seam. Most of the time I stay away from buying it because of its challenges but this fabric was so unique that I had to have it.

The fabric is an embossed scuba knit and was purchased from Mood fabrics. It was sold out long ago so I can't link you to it. I actually made a pair of pants from the same fabric in March of 2015, but those had the annoying habit of not staying at my waist and were soon after donated. I loved the fabric, though, so I ordered another cut of it and vowed to make a dress of some sort. Inspiration struck when the new McCall's spring pattern were released in early January and I fell in love with the high neck version of 7539.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A New White Blouse From an Old Burda Magazine

I had a Burda (then Burda World of Fashion) magazine subscription for a number of years, starting in August 2008 and use to sew from it quite a bit. I know lots of you dislike tracing and hate the crowded newer pattern line sheets even more, but for me that was never an issue. I have a background in construction and was trained to read building blueprints, so the lines of the pattern sheets don't make my eyes cross. I stopped my subscription in 2012 because I was no longer inspired by the shapeless garments they were putting out, but would still buy the occasional single issue from GLP international if something on the Russia Burda sight caught my attention. Still, though, I got out of the habit of tracing and my backlot of magazines was left abandoned on the shelf. The good thing about having this collection is that when I want to sew something very specific, I can usually find it in one of my magazines. Such was the case for this blouse, which I made purposefully to wear with one of my favorite jackets. (I posted a few pictures with it and the jacket at the bottom of this post, if you want to skip all the pattern information.)

This is from the November issue of 2010 and is style 128. I always liked the uniqueness of this design. It's a basic fitted blouse with a bit of interest with the double-breasted front and long buttoning cuffs. I wanted something collarless to go with my jacket, and lowered the neckline to fall right below it's mandarin collar. I would have found it too high and choking as drafted.

This is a petite pattern and the first time I've attempted to un-petite one of Burda's designs. I cut the size 19 because it matched up the closest to my normal Burda size of 38. After holding the pattern up to my dress form, I decided to add 1.5" to the waist. I also added that same amount to the sleeve length which I did NOT need. This is kind of a weird pattern that seems to be drafted for an orangutan. Check out how long their sleeves are on the example! Of course you can't tell this in the magazine because the model is wearing a jacket over it. I ended up removing a whopping 2" from the middle of the sleeve, and I have normal length arms. On a petite sized person those sleeves would be comically long!

The shoulders were weirdly long as well, so I shaved about 1/2" from that area. After those alterations to the pattern, I quite like the fit. The center back seam gives it a nice tailored look and there's no bunching under my jacket.

I wanted to wear this blouse untucked and to just peek out from underneath, so I shaved some off the center front and center back hem. This fabric is a long time stash resident purchased online and is a stretch Italian cotton. I only had two yards at 45" wide and was forced to cut the cuffs on the cross grain. The inside facings I finished with bias tape and did french seams throughout. The buttons I purchased locally. I topstitched the fronts, neckline and cuffs with a triple stitch.

Here it is with my much loved military jacket, also a Burda pattern. I made this jacket back in 2012 and usually wear it with another top I made years ago. The purples didn't match but were in the same color family so that was fine for awhile. I thought the styles kind of clashed, though, and was ready to pair it with something else. I added a small clasp to the front of the jacket after I posted it to keep the fronts from flapping open and needing adjusting. Basically I don't like to fuss over re-arranging my clothes after I put them on lol.

I love how there's only a peak of white at the bottom of the jacket and at the sleeves. It gives the jacket some interest in breaking up all the purple.

Being able to fill in missing pieces from my wardrobe is something I really love about sewing. Now that I've got the ball rolling and didn't forget how to make a design from Burda, expect to see those patterns more often.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

French Seams For the Armhole/Sleeve Junction

I've been asked a number of times how I do a french seam at the armhole of my blouses, so I put together a little tutorial to demonstrate the process. It might sound difficult, but if you can sew a regular french seam you can do an armhole french seam easily.

The NUMBER ONE rule for sewing with french seams is to make sure you are using a somewhat thin fabric. I've attempted them before on fabrics like bottom weight denim and the outcome is bulky and happy-hands-at-home looking.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Plaid + Black Color-Blocked Tracy Reese Knit Dress

This dress has now been updated!

The color blocking trend is alive and well. In fact, I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to it. To me, color blocking is using two or more of the same type and weight of fabrics in the same garment. Not to be confused with mixed materials, which is two or more different types of materials used in the same garment. (Of which I also have a Pinterest board for.) This silhouette - cropped top over midi skirt - seams to be a current favorite, and is a look I wanted to try out.

The pattern is Vogue 1512, a designer patten by Tracy Reese. I can't find anyone else on the inter-webs that has made it up. I ADORED the envelope example. The cropped top over a fitted dress, the midi length, the oversized zippers on the shoulders - I loved it all. The fabrics I chose were both ponte knits. The plaid is from Mood Fabrics, purchased a year or so ago but currently sold out. The black is a long time stash resident. I was planning a black ponte suit at one point that never came to fruition. 

I cut the size 10 - my typical size in knits - but added some back to midriff side panels. The shoulder zippers I sourced from Etsy. The pattern calls for 3 to 5 inch zippers, and these are 3", but really they need to be 4 inches long. I had to trim about 1/2" off the neckline because of their shortness. I used knit interfacing around the neckline of the lining pieces and at the back zipper area. The hems were done with a twin needle: a 1" hem for the sleeves and a 2" hem for the bottom. 

I cut the plaid out in a single layer to match it up in the center front, center backs, side seams and across the sleeves. 

My zipper pulls keps popping up so I tacked them down with black thread. Aren't these such a fun detail? I was a little fearful that the neckline would be really bulky. There are 4 layers of fabric coming together there! But after some aggressive grading and curve clipping it is laying nice and flat.

The crop top overlay was thoughtfully drafted with mitered corners and lined. I picked a white knit lining that I had in my stash. For the bust darts I pressed the outer fabric's darts down and the lining's darts up. Pressing darts or seams in opposite directions on lined garments keeps those areas from being bulky.

Because I've sewn with this knit lining before I knew that it doesn't like to stay in its pressed position.  To combat that I topstitched it on either side of the seams throughout and they lay don't give me any problems. 

Under the cropped overlay is a nicely drafted bodice that has underbust gathering and is made from knit tricot. It is then lined with the same material and becomes a nicely fitted detail that is never seen. It fits so well that I'm almost tempted to make the dress again without the overlay. The running stitch you see is where I secured the lining to the outside area. I like linings to be secured at some point around the midriff area unless I'm making a simple shift dress.

Here's the full lining. I ran out of this fabric before I could cut the skirt pieces and had to order more. The sleeves are unlined. I overlocked the sleeve seams and armhole seams with my regular machine. Ponte knits don't ravel but it looks neater.

Dressform pictures:

I quite like my new dress but I'm not sure it's the most flattering thing I've made lately. I need under-bust definition to balance out my upper area and this dress does not provide that. Also maybe the strip of plaid right across the girls was not the way to go when laying it out. Maybe if I styled it with high black boots and toughened it up a bit I would be happier. Hmmm...

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Clad In Plaid! - A Wool Mini With Side Button Detail

Today I'm sharing a wool skirt I finished several weeks ago that was suppose to be a fast and easy palate cleanse, but of course it wasn't. Fast and easy NEVER work out for me. Why do I ever think they will?! I can't even blame the pattern or the fabric this time. Nope, just me being picky and wanting to get it exactly right.

The fabric is a gray plaid from Mood Fabrics called "Park Avenue Wool Blend". I selected it last August when it was almost sold out because I really loved all the colors and textures woven throughout. Of course now it is completely sold out. (Usually this is when I link to other similar fabrics, especially ones I've had my eye on or have swatched, but Mood's website hasn't been working for me for the past few days.) I only got a yard in order to make some sort of skirt. I had no real plans and was just going to hang onto it until inspiration struck.

Then I saw this:
They scanned in my exact plaid for their longest view! That sealed it for me. I linked the drawing to Vogue's website if you want to take a look at it. The design is for a simple wrap skirt that has buttons for closures.

I cut a size 14 for the waist tapering out to between a 12 and 14 for the hips. Probably I could have cut a straight size 12, but the waist measurements on the pattern are really small and I was afraid it would be too tight. After all the Christmas goodies I ate I need the extra room. This should be my after-the-holidays skirt lol.

What I really liked about this pattern was the interesting button closure at the waistline, making the design unique and not just another fitted skirt. Those buttons, though, took a good long time to sew on. If you are planning to make this skirt,  use ball or half-ball buttons for the outer areas. I didn't think of it so I had to make thread shanks to keep the buttons flat and not pucker this thick fabric.

The buttons on the right side are purely decorative. I used baby blue thread throughout. After using this type of fabric for multiple garments over the years, I have found that it's best to use some color that can be easily seen in case you need to rip it out. The thread sinks into it and can't be seen except under extremely close inspection. And the baby blue matches with some of the textured yarns anyway. I really love the colors in this fabric, especially the metallic copper thread woven throughout. These buttons were purchased locally.

I left this skirt unlined as drafted. The facings I cut from a baby blue solid wool twill I had on hand, also from Mood Fabrics. I am always doing this with facings and other bits of a garment that don't show on the outside. Why use the expensive fabric for those parts? Plus I like how the blue is just barely visible when the overlay flaps open a bit as I'm moving around. It adds another element of interest.

The seams were finished with the overlocking stitch on my regular machine. I whip-stitched all the facings, button reinforcements and bottom hem by hand. None of that shows on the outside because of the nature of this fabric, and I don't have anything flipping up or out or otherwise getting in my way.

Originally I made the shortest view, which is drafted to be right above the knees. However, after it was completely finished and I tried it on, I decided to chop off a few inches and make it more of a mini skirt. I like my winter skirts on the shorter side. That was revision one. Then after I snapped pictures and posted to the Mood Sewing Network, I decided I didn't much care for the non-functioning buttons on the right side. They were thus removed, which necessitated re-sewing the inside buttons as those were paired with the set on top of them on the outside. Also I moved the bottom two buttons on the left over a bit as they were really pulling at the fabric. All that was revision two. Whew! I think I'm done now.

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