Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Companion Carpet Bag in silk brocade

I can hardly believe I made this bag--I'm just so in love with it!  As my most recent Britex project, I've been thinking about this bag for a while--I picked out the fabric and pattern months ago, and sat down just this week to sew it.  It turned out exactly like I imagined!

First off, let's talk about this fabric.  Guys, that is silk brocade.  It's a wonderful rough-ish-textured, vintage-inspired medium-heavy weight fabric that just screams handbag to me.  For the bag lining, I went a little unconventional and used a comic-inspired print of extolling the virtues of home sewing. I couldn't help myself.
The pattern is by Samantha from the blog At Home with Mrs. H.  I tested the 12" bag pattern for her months ago, and the pattern is part of the Bag of the Month Club (so not available outside the club quite yet). This is the 8" frame pattern, which features outside and inside slip pockets and an inside zip pocket.

The tubular snap-close frame is so much fun, and creates this gaping bass mouth look, that makes you just want to toss the kitchen sink into your handbag.  It's not quite big enough to stash a floor lamp, like Mary Poppins, but close enough.  You can only imagine how much I can hold in the 12" bag (which I made and will eventually post about :)

Unfortunately, the tubular frame must be ordered from Hong Kong, but it is so worth the wait!  I also purchased the faux-leather handles from the same Etsy store.  
The best part is how well this bag keeps its shape!  I used Soft n' Stable for all the outer pieces and a medium weight interfacing on all the lining pieces.  I wish I had used some kind of spray adhesive to keep the outer fabric and Soft n' Stable together, but it still looks pretty nice regardless.
To keep the bag from sagging at the bottom (look--no sag!  And I have all my stuff in there!), I cut a small flexible cutting board to fit (these exact ones), and drilled holes to attach the brass bag feet (not shown in any photos, somehow!).  It worked like a charm.  
I wrote a tutorial for the custom piping along the front pocket and I'll get that up here shortly.  If you're in a hurry, it's over at Britex right now (and while you're there, you can enter to win a subscription to the Bag of the Month Club!).  

Many thanks to Samantha for providing both sizes of the Companion Carpet Bag pattern and Britex for yet again letting me work with their amazing fabrics!

Sunday, March 08, 2015

My vision, in silk crepe de chine

So when I saw Sunni's outfit here, I completely fell in love with that silk print fabric.  I needed it, so I bought 2 yards from Mood.  And...it sat in my stash for months.  I had an idea in mind, but no amount of searching in pattern books and independent designers yielded what I wanted. This pattern (Simplicity 1692, view A) came the closest, but with some issues (the primary problem being those waist darts!).
I used the bodice and sleeves of the pattern (size 10) and made all kinds of changes: for the neckline, there are some soft pleats instead of gathers, then for the sleeves, I reduced the fullness of the sleeve so there were unnoticeable gathers at the cap, shortened them to 3/4 length and added a tiny band.  I eliminated the waist darts entirely, and then took in the sides to make it more shapely while keeping it loose enough to avoid a closure.  Then, when I realized I had "petite-adjusted" the top too much, I added a 2 1/2" band at the waist.  Which I ended up completely loving.  Is it just me making the best of the situation, or does it make the blouse a touch more modern?
Things I love about this blouse: the back has shoulder darts.  I feel like shoulder darts acknowledge that our backs are also curved, and they create such a lovely fitted shape.  They're lacking in many modern patterns.
Another only-in-handmade-garments feature I love: self bias along the keyhole facing.  
And this self-fabric button THAT CAME FROM MY STASH?  Somewhere along the way, I purchased a garment that came with extra buttons and those buttons were covered with cream colored crepe de chine, as if I knew I'd be making a silk blouse in the future.
Speaking of which,  could I love crepe de chine any more?  No.  The answer is no.  It's my favorite of the silks.  
This blouse reminds me why I sew.  Got fabric and an idea?  Add some sewing skills, and bam, you get a blouse.  I bought some navy stretch twill to make some cigarette pants to complete the vision.  
Resewlution 2015: March garment #2

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Granville shirt in Liberty lawn

I'm pleased to say that I have now, officially, sewn a garment with Liberty lawn! Woohoo!  The price has deterred me for my previous multiple decades of sewing, but a tried-and-true pattern +  20% off at Britex = it was finally time.
I have to say, I surprised myself picking this print.  I had a bunch of Liberty bolts pulled at my last visit to Britex, but I was making the decision mid-February, and I guess I just wanted the most spring-like print in the place. The other selections just felt a little dark or "feed-sack-y", as Geana put it. This strawberry flower print is fun, and such a throwback to my 80s childhood.  
From my original Granville, I made a few slight changes: raised the "petite adjustment" line to above the waistline, shorted the sleeves, and graded in from 4 at the waist --> 0 at the hips .  In terms of construction, I sewed the collar more like Peter's instructions, which works better for me.  And I still don't love the instructions for the sleeve vents, but I made it work for this time around.
The fit is great.  I love sewing up a garment and being able to do some fancier seam finishes without worrying if I'm going to have to take the sides in or redo the sleeves once I try it on.  I may need to make some minor pattern tweaks to the collar; on me, it doesn't lay perfectly in the front, but overall, I like the fit for this style.
For this version, I used French seams for all but the back princess lines (and I'm seriously kicking myself about those!), including the armholes using Jen's great tutorial.   Which was actually not difficult at all, with a switch in the construction order: I set the sleeves (using French seams) before sewing the sleeve and side seams in one long go.
Again, I love the slightly fitted shape of this top, and it really works to tuck into pants.  I'm not really a shirt-tucker, but I could definitely pull it off with this blouse pattern.

I've had a bit of a slow start to the sewing year (which is in no way a reflection of the number of lengths of fabric I have that are begging to be sewn!).  I'm teaching and taking a class (Fashion Illustration), but I've sewn less than when I've had crazy teaching/class schedules.  It'll pick up, I'm sure :)
Resewlution 2015: March garment #1 (though I did the vast majority of the work in February...)

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Stella blouse in stretch silk

This Brilliant Abstract stretch silk charmeuse was seriously calling to me from the Britex website, so I chose it without a clear plan or pattern in mind.  Which, if we're being honest, pretty much describes 95% of my fabric acquisitions.
In the hunt for a fabulous top pattern to go with it, I kept coming back to the Stella blouse, by Pattern Runway.  I've adored the Coffee Date dress pattern for years (don't ask me why I don't own it), sewed up the Scalloped Hem of shorts (my version here), and have just generally liked the slightly more complex designs of PR.  Given my lovely drapey silk, this softly pleated peplumed blouse seemed a perfect match.
The one thing that made me hesitate before pressing "Buy" were the triple-layer sleeves, though. They was just a little too much for me and my broad shoulders.  But you know what?  Therein lies the beauty of making your own clothing; I could just leave off the top, ruffly layer on my version!  Done.
My favorite feature?  The tiny band of trim around the waist.
The pleats around the waist aren't super flattering from the side view, I have to say. But the blouse pulls in at the sides nicely when viewed from the front.

The hem dips in the front and back--so feminine and adorable!
I made a 1" reduction in the bodice length for my petite adjustment, sewing a size 36 in the bust and hips and grading to 38 in the waist.  With those adjustments, I was super happy with the final fit and didn't have to make any "post-production" changes.
I used a combination of French seams (side and shoulders) and serged finish (waist and armholes). Probably not the classiest look inside, but I didn't want to mess with Frenching all the seams, especially with the trim at the waistband.
The neckline is faced and I finished the raw edge with rayon seam binding, and there's an invisible zip at CB.
Definitely a top that can be worn with jeans or a pencil skirt (like this one!  Too matchy-matchy?)
Resewlution 2015: February garment #1

Thanks to Britex Fabrics for supplying the lovely and decadent silk fabric!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Granville Shirt by Sewaholic

Collared, cuffed, button down shirts.  They are a little bit outside my wardrobe comfort zone, to be honest.  They feel a bit masculine to me, and I like pretty.  But, I know I should own some, so I was pleased that Sewaholic released a version with some details I could appreciate: the Granville.

My main beef with button down shirts?  Not enough waist definition.  This pattern style solves that problem with princess seams in the back and significant waist shaping at the side seams.  Enough that I could easily (and very flatteringly) tuck it into pants without looking like a balloon on top.
The sleeve width is narrow and flattering, with no gathers at the wrist.  I know that seems like an insignificant thing, but no extra fabric at the wrist makes for a much more attractive garment, in my opinion :)
I sewed a straight size 2, with some petite alterations.  However, for my next version, I'll shorten the length above the waist, instead of where indicated on the pattern (below the waistline). I also shortened the sleeves by about 2" (which was perhaps 1/2" too much).  I made the initial shortening before cutting out the fabric, but realized they needed additional reduction after sewing on the cuffs. Thankfully, I had enough fabric to recut the cuffs.  This shortened the sleeve placket, but I think it looks just fine.  In the next iteration, I may also reduce the hip flare a bit.
I really like this pattern.  A lot.  Some alterations for a personal fit and construction directions aside (next time, I'll construct the sleeve placket and collar differently than instructed), I am most definitely planning a second.  And next time, I'm really going for it with Liberty cotton, if that gives you an indication of how highly I consider the quality of the pattern :)  Several of the Glenjade colorways would be lovely.
Oh, speaking of fabric!  This is Marc Jacobs shirting from Mood Fabrics (no longer available).  It's light and pretty and the print is a little retro.  I bought it to make an unspecified top a while ago, but since it was pretty inexpensive ($15 for 1.5 yards), I used for this wearable muslin here.  Which reminds me--I made the top (with a second set of cuffs) in 1.5 yards, so that's good to know when I'm shelling out the big $/yard.  
Here's how I wore it, with a bright orange sweater (from Anthro, a few years ago), cuffed-up jeans and maryjanes.  And here is where I start to see the utility of collared, cuffed and button down shirts!
Resewlution 2015, January garment #2

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Camas Blouse by Thread Theory

After making several Thread Theory patterns (peacoat and boxer briefs) for my husband, I was super excited to hear that they were releasing a pattern for women.  And when I saw that it was a not-so-basic knit top, well, I was all over that.   Come to me, Camas Blouse!
Overall the top is just great.  It has a few more pieces than the average knit op, but those small details really make the pattern interesting: button placket, yoke with gathers, and a curved hem.  I sewed the whole top in the same knit fabric, but the original design suggests using a contrast fabric (woven or knit) for the shoulder yoke pieces.  Check out other versions here and here.
I sewed up a size 4 top.  Knowing the v-neck was going to dip low, I shaved off about 1/2" at the top of the front and back (at the yoke seam line) and reduced the sleeves a bit to accommodate the smaller arm scythe.  I also made my standard petite adjustment at the waist.  
For the yoke pieces, there are front and back yokes attach at the shoulder.  However, I ended up combining the front and back yokes into one piece to avoid unnecessary seams at the shoulder.  It worked out great (even with the wacky grainlines).
Even with my new machine (I haven't introduce her yet!) I'm still a bit unhappy about making buttonholes on knit fabric, so I was really excited to see that the directions suggested making faux buttons, which is exactly what I did!  Sewed those things straight through the button placket.
Overall, the top is a bit roomier than I would like, but that's an easy fix.  I'll probably size down to a 2 for the next one, but mostly, I'd reduce or even eliminate all the gathering in the back.  It just looks a bit blocky and blousey on my frame.  Or, it could be the fabric, which is a bit thick.
Oh, so yeah, the fabric (and the elephant in the room, for those in the know).  I used this lovely, lovely knit fabric (Utopia, by Frances Newcombe).  And I oriented it in the wrong direction.  The stripes are supposed to be vertical, but I had it in my mind that the stripes go horizontal.  Since the fabric is a 4-way stretch, it wasn't obvious and still works just great, but yeah, I feel pretty silly.  

Thank you to Thread Theory for providing the pattern and letting me try out.  I am SO hopeful they will continue releasing women's patterns--I love their style!

Am I doing a Resewlution 2015?  I don't know yet...maybe?  If so, January garment #1!