Monday, November 25, 2013

Holiday tie and pocket square for your man

With the holidays quickly approaching, the season of get-togethers and parties with family, friends, and co-workers is nearly upon us!  Whether it's as a gift for your sweetie or a unique statement to be worn yourself (you budding tailors out there!) sewing a special tie and coordinating pocket square is actually surprisingly easy.
While silk is the classic material for menswear ties, exciting trends using a vast array of fabrics have been popping up (think wool suiting).  I'm no style maven, but it appears a though the only hard and fast rule regarding ties and pocket squares, interestingly, is that they shouldn't match.   And in my opinion, the combination you put together, both in color and texture, can really make a statement.  For my tutorial today, I'll be using an eye-catching silk print from Britex  for the tie, with a lovely silk-linen blend for the tie lining and pocket square.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Lady Skater Dress in wool sweater knit

Continuing the parade of wool clothing from my recent, multiple visits to the fabric store is my latest work/ holiday dress.  I'm the biggest fan of dresses for any and all occasions, particular those that are stretchy and flattery, so when the Lady Skater Dress pattern by Kitschy Coo started making the rounds, I was really excited.  However, the weight of the knit is really important for this style, and without a decent local source for heavy knits with lycra, I was a bit stuck.  However, the moment I spotted this wool sweater knit at the fabric store, I knew it was the right fabric for the job.
The fabric stretch is significantly less than the 40% recommended by the pattern, so I inserted an invisible side zip.  However, even with only a slight stretch, I can pull the dress on over my head, so the zipper wasn't needed.  While not specified in the pattern directions (I don't think!), I applied some 3/8" clear elastic at the waistband, which helps the dress maintain it's shape and keeps everything in place.
The most significant change I made to the pattern was the neckline.  Since the fabric had too little stretch, the neckline from the original pattern wouldn't work so well (and didn't seem to suit the fabric style).  So originally, I attempted to make a wide cowl neckline.  Uh, yeah, big fail there.  So instead of removing the "cowl", I sewed a casing and inserted elastic to gather the neckline.  Then, folded it over and hand stitched it to the stitching of the neckline.   What a happy accident!
The fabric isn't itchy at all, though a slip is required for wearing with tights.  I need to make a gorgeous silk slip so I don't hate wearing them [the polyester versions] anymore!

Overall, I love the dress and will definitely seek out more fabrics for this pattern.  (And definitely add pockets next time!).
Here's the wearable "muslin" version of the dress, from a knit of some type and while it turned out fine, I feel pretty self-conscious in such a clingy fabric.  I wore it to the grocery store, but it took some bravery! It's amazing how different the same dress pattern can look with fabric selection and a few tweaks!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Hooded Woodland cape in cashmere!

Cashmere, guys!  This super soft and lovely plaid cashmere was one of my many finds at the wool sale from last week.  At $35/ yard, it wasn't a steal, but I certainly couldn't leave it there, especially since I had purchased the Woodland Cape pattern by Liesl & Co a while back and hadn't found the right fabric for the job.  A little Sherlock Holmes, "Where's my magnifying glass",  no? :)
This pattern is super simple--just three pattern pieces--so my plan was to whip it up between some bigger projects I have in the works.  However, I couldn't shake the idea of adding a hood, so with some drafting help from this tutorial and a couple of trial runs, I finally made something hood-like.  I don't love it, but that's okay.  It is just a hood, after all!  I used a self-facing for inside edge of the hood so it the blazing red lining wouldn't show quite so much from the front.

The lining is an orangey-red matte silk.   Cashmere and silk makes quite the high-end cape, no?  The non-slippery texture works well, since I don't want the cape shifting all over the place.  
Not wanting to break the bank on buttons again, I got these from Joann's.  The tag says "genuine leather", so we'll go with that.  The next smaller size secures the side flaps.
The cape is surprisingly lightweight and warm, perfect for this time of year in Northern California, and the colorway is just so Fall!
I have to say, it took a bit of nerve to wear it out of the house.  It's definitely a statement garment (well, maybe just for my quiet wardrobe!).   For those interested in the pattern, get yourself some awesome fabric and make it.  Its fun and easy.  However, the garment has some issues, so I'll give you fair warning:  there's no pockets and you can't sling a bag onto your shoulder. Really.  Makes it fairly impractical, but hey, not all fashion multitasks with cargo pockets. 

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Renfrew in double knit wool

As one of the Community Match winners in the SOSM, I was awarded three Sewaholic patterns.  In my opinion, it was the best prize of all  (among many awesome awards, by the way!) and I was super duper thrilled!  Always the pragmatic, I chose the Renfrew top, Thurlow trousers and the Alma blouse, figuring I could get lots of use out of those, for both work and "play" clothes. Of course, work has been keeping me from my sewing room, so it wasn't until I overbought at a big wool sale at the local fabric store that I was pushed over the edge and I finally couldn't resist anymore.  (By the way, if you're in the South Bay in Nor Cal, Eddie's Quilting Bee has more gorgeous wools, silks, and other apparel fabric than one can take, and it's all 50% off until 11/11.  No I don't work there, just an honest plug for a great selection of fabric :).  
With several wool knits in hand, I chose to start with the Renfrew top and this rust colored double knit wool.  I was a little worried that the collar would be a bit much with this thick of fabric, but I actually kind of love it.  Definitely a statement!  With a fitted wool shirt, I was worried about the itchiness, but this fabric is surprisingly soft and not at all itchy!
I left the hem and sleeves unhemmed (at least for now) since the fabric doesn't fray at all and I was concerned that folding it under would make it look too bulky.  
(Ignore the clay on my pants and sleeves!  Ridiculously, I chose to wear this to help with the pottery class at my son's school, where I somehow fell into the role of assisting the kids on the wheel.  Not a bad way to spend the morning, but probably should have photographed the top beforehand!).  
Overall, I was incredibly pleased with this pattern.  I made a size 2 with a petite alteration in the waist, though usually I like my tops a bit more fitted, so I'll try a 0 next time.  With some major strategic planning and clipping about an inch off the length of the cowl, I even managed to cut the pattern from about 1 1/8 yard of fabric.  Next up: a wool dress?  We'll see if I can pull off two garments in a week!