Monday, November 23, 2015

Fancy holiday skirt in silk taffeta

If you're coming from Britex, welcome!
With the holidays coming up, surely there are a few parties to attend, right?  The iridescent magenta-black color of this stunning silk taffeta is so joyous and opulent that I knew it had to be a sassy, swingy skirt for an evening fête! When the fabric arrived, I was surprised by how stiff, yet light, the taffeta was. My experience with taffeta is pretty limited, so I knew I had a challenge on my hands!
For the pattern, I used Sewaholic's Hollyburn skirt really only as a jump-off point.  First off, I removed the pockets.  This is the opposite of what I typically do, but I knew the style wouldn't look quite right with pockets (the sacrifices we make for fashion!)  Second, I increased the circumference of the skirt hem by about 18" by slashing and spreading the front and back pieces.   With the stiffness of the fabric, I felt like more weight would help it drape and increase the drama.
Finally, after attempting to insert the self-fabric waistband, I realized it simply wasn't going to work with the amazing stiffness of the fabric (at least in my inexperienced hands!).  Instead, I applied wide elastic to create the waistband.  This provided the needed give, and allows me an ounce of wiggle-room for all those party hors d'oeuvrs!
Even after significant pattern changes, the construction of the garment was a bit different than normal. I bound all seam allowances with hug snug, but chose not to press them open; the unusual shape of the skirt is accomplished by allowing the seams to fold inward.  For the hem, I eased the fullness and finished the edge with lace hem binding before hand-stitching it in place.  I worked on each section of the skirt independently (instead of continuously around the circumference) to maintain the in-folding of the seams.  
I channeled fellow Britex Blogger Laura Mae by pick-stitching the zipper--a first for me!  It was way easier than I expected, and while not perfect, I think it looks lovely on this garment.  I tried to make the stitches on either side match up, which makes a big difference, I think.
There is no crinoline or structure under this skirt, so while the rounded shape is due to the nature of the fabric, to keep the shape consistent while I move around, I utilized hem weights at each of the seams.  I have to say, it was kind of fun walking through the hardware store knowing I was shopping for a fashion project!  I used 4 (four!) stainless steel washers at each seamline (two stacked on each side of the seam).  
Did anyone else go to the Legion of Honor in SF to see High Style this past summer?  Clearly, the most amazing dress of all was the Four-Leaf Clover gown by Charles James--stunning!  My little skirt was greatly inspired by that amazing creation.   

Truly, I was thrilled (and a little scared!) to have the opportunity to work with this silk taffeta, so thank you to Britex for the drop-dead gorgeous fabric.  While it had some unique properties, it was surprisingly nice to work with and wasn't nearly as finicky as I had feared.  

My husband helped me with all my photos for this post.  I didn't use these pretty fall foliage shots for the Britex post, I still love them! While it looks pretty safe, between the heels and lack of peripheral vision with my glasses on, I almost tumbled from that fountain more times than I care to admit!  
2015 Resewlution, November garment #1

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Wool knit Linden with lace overlay

If you are visiting from Britex, welcome!  

I was won over by the Linden sweatshirt, designed by fellow Guest Blogger Jen from Grainline Studios, after making it in a sporty quilted fabric.  But the wheels started turning immediately, and I felt like a lace-overlay version would take this basic wardrobe staple up a couple of notches.  

As luck would have it, I was due for my next project with Britex working with one of their amazing knits!  After working hard to narrow down the choices, I decided on this beautiful medium-weight wool knit fabric, in an extra-dark loden (almost black) color.  I'm a sucker for pale pink, so this cotton-blend lace was the perfect contrast.  The image below shows how nicely this wool drapes.  Very luxurious!
The Linden is a super quick sew, and creating the lace overlay only adds a few short minutes (with big impact!).   I wanted to adjust for turn-of-cloth, so instead of cutting both lace and wool exactly the same size, I first cut out the front piece from the wool (in the image, it is shown folded down center front).  I placed the wool on the length of lace, lining up the center front (the fold) with a motif on the lace that I wanted smack-dab in the middle of my finished garment.
Then, the lace was folded around the wool, carefully matching everything up and smoothing the fabric all around.  I pinned around the perimeter to avoid shifting, and cut along right along the wool fabric.  The dark wool is pretty well camouflaged inside the lace!  

After cutting, I carefully opened out both pieces and pinned along the edges, then basted them together.  

From there, the construction is exactly the same, including handling and sewing the neckline and hem binding.

Between this stunning wool knit and the cute lace overlay, this is quite the high-end and fashionable garment!  Such a satisfying project, and good foray into working with both knits and lace.  
Many thanks to Britex for providing the wool and lace fabrics! 

2015 Resewlution, October garment #2

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Renfrew top and a neckline conversion

I've made the Renfrew cowl neck top a couple times (here and here), and I love it.  The cowl is more like a floppy turtleneck, so for it to hang nicely, the fabric has to be pretty lightweight and drapey. After sewing up the Renfrew in this cute bicycle print (purchased at Harts, but it doesn't seem to be available at their online store), I realized that the cowl was just annoying.  It's kind of big and bulky, and doesn't lay quite right.

So after wearing it a couple of times, I realized that I could fix it!  I carefully cut off the cowl and used the fabric to cut the neckline binding.  In about 15 minutes, the neckline conversion was complete!
I love that--being able to make a garment into what you want from the start and/or making adjustments when you're done.  
And check out this completely unintentional awesome feat of matching (the arrow is pointing to the head of the rider from the binding matching the body on the shirt--crazy!)
I've made a few other garments lately, but I've been less good about documenting my work--I've got a Britex project (with mini-tutorial) coming up soon, and a Sewaholic pattern hack on the way!

2015 Resewlution, October garment #1 

Friday, September 18, 2015

City Stroll Skirt in cashmere

With a cute blouse or sweater, skirts are great for my job, so the unusual shape and nice details (pockets!) of the City Stroll Skirt by Liesl & Co definitely caught my eye when the pattern was released.  
For this version, I used a "scrap" of fabric leftover from my self-drafted blazer project.  I couldn't let nearly a yard of cashmere wool tweed go to waste, and luckily, this pattern requires only a small amount of fabric.  (Sadly, I can't wear the two together...)
The fabric is a bit thicker than the suggested fabrics, and I realized I sewed 5/8" seams before reading the instructions (SA is 1/2" FYI!), so the skirt overlap is about 1/2" shy of the proper location (right at the dart).  Thankfully, it's a wrap skirt and while it doesn't look perfect, it's still wearable.

The flap allows for pretty reasonable movement without flashing any unmentionables, even with my less-than-ideal coverage (though I may still add a small snap inside).
Following the suggestion of Shelley from Bartacks and Singletracks (see two of her skirts here, and a little girl version here), I decided to underline (with Bemberg) the skirt and Hong Kong finish some strategic seams. (See my tutorial for details.)  
Here's the inside of one flap of the skirt.  For the underlining, I extended the lining fabric (for the Hong Kong finish) only at the side seams; since the rest are covered with a facing or waistband.  The non-HK finished sides of the lining/ self edges were just basted together with a 1/4" SA.  
I even underlined the pockets, and then finished all the raw edges with Hug Snug rayon seam binding. 
Waistband and "hem" facing
Hem facing with Hug Snug binding, and side seam with Hong Kong finish.
The underlining feels so nice and looks just gorgeous, so even if the fit isn't perfect, I know is that this skirt is well made!  
2015 Resewlution, September garment #2

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Quilted Linden sweatshirt

I wasn't particularly excited about Grainline's Linden Sweatshirt pattern when it was released.  It's cool, but I don't wear too many sweatshirts, and I wasn't sure I could make it look as hip as Jen does! That all changed on my last trip over the mountain to Hart's Fabric.  I spotted this a-mazing white quilted fabric and I hightailed it over to the pattern section to nab the Linden.  It was a match made in heaven, and was the easiest decision I made that day at Harts!
I love raglan sleeves and they seem to make garments come together super fast.  I made the process a tad longer by adding some not-entirely decorative stitching along the raglan seams.  Since the fabric is thick and synthetic, I knew ironing would be a relatively useless.  So, instead of serging those seams, I "lightening bolt" stitched them on my regular machine, opened them, and then used my coverstitch machine (with wide-set needles) to finish.  The continuous sleeve-side seam was serged.
The neckline is regular old black poly/cotton ribbing (I bought the tail end of the bolt at the store).  Worked great!  I opted against the ribbing at wrist and waist, and instead went with coverstitching there and at the neckline.   How fun is that fabric?  

For the sizing, I went with 0, grading out to 2 at the hips. Surprisingly, I didn't shorten the top at all, so if you are taller than me (otherwise known as "normal"), you might want to add some length.
This is a super fun, quick pattern.  I've seen versions in normal jersey fabric, but I'm kind of interested in trying out some sweater's a pretty versatile garment.  I may even size it down a tad to make a normal tee.
If it weren't for the unseasonably warm mid-90s temps we're having in northern California, I'd be wearing this like crazy!  "Winter" will come soon enough, though, and this will be ideal as an outer garment.  

2015 Resewlution, September garment #1