Monday, December 29, 2014

Collar Confection blouse in dotted silk

For my last-of-the-year Britex blogger project, I chose the pattern first: the unusual and lovely design from Decades of Style, the Collar Confection blouse.  The blouse design is interesting and a bit more challenging than a basic top, but still very doable!  The blouse style dictates a fabric with drape, but it also must be fairly opaque because there are facings along the armholes.  This midweight dotted ivory silk fits the bill and, in my humble opinion, is the ideal fabric for this top!
As strongly suggested by the pattern designers, I made a muslin before cutting into my lovely silk.  It was not obvious how I would do a small bust adjustment for this top, so I opted instead to use the size the correlated with my bust, and instead of grading out to the larger waist and hip size that I needed, I reduced the dart intakes.  This reduced the bust-to-waist ratio, which more or less accomplishes the SBA that I needed.  The ease of the original design seemed unsuitable for wearing as an untucked blouse (though perfect for tucking into a high waisted pencil skirt!), so I increased the overall ease at the hips as well.

The main glorious feature of this blouse is the lovely, drapey collar.  It folds over from a faced back neckline into a graceful peter-pan style. The width of the neckline and spread of the collar make it perfect for wearing with a v-neck cardigan.  How sweet is that collar?  
The other distinctive feature of the blouse is the split cap sleeves.  They aren't exactly a tulip (the flaps don't overlap each other), but are created with a curved hem and facings.

I'm a bit self-conscious of my broad shoulders, so this sleeve style doesn't help that too much, but I love how unusual and pretty it is!

For the button placket, I went with these satin-covered tuxedo buttons (1/2" size), and they couldn't be any more perfect.  The semi-matte sheen of the fabric-covered buttons matches the silk and they suit the blouse style just right.
Finishing the inside of the blouse was (relatively) simple with the help of one of Laura Mae's favorite notions--rayon seam binding (her tutorial is here).  I finished the raw edges after sewing the blouse because of all the facings and curved sleeve hems.  I'm still working on perfecting that technique (read: my inside seam finishes don't look perfect!), but at least the easily fraying silk is contained!  This is the shoulder seam between the neckline and facing of the sleeve (below), but I also used rayon seam binding on the side seams.
Overall, I'm thrilled with this new blouse.  If you are tempted to make the Collar Confection blouse, I cannot recommend this fabric strongly enough, but a pretty rayon would also work well.
Thank you, as always, to Britex for providing the fabric, notions (including matching silk thread--the buttonholes look extra special!) and pattern.
Happy sewing to you all in the New Year!  

Resewlution 2014, December garment #3

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Patternmaking Final Project: The Suit

There was a moment there, staring at my textbook on drafting the suit jacket a few months ago when I was actually uncertain if I could finish my Pattermaking course.  See, I went to class for the first month of the semester and then had to take the rest of the class as an independent study.  I visited the professor during her office hours, but by and large, I had to do all the work of figuring out how to draft a jacket (and trousers and knit garment) on my own.  But it's done and I survived (and earned an A!)
Our final project was a suit.  Not exactly the one I envisioned on the first day of class (which had a waistband and back pleats and a portrait collar!) but one that is my own style nonetheless.

I adapted my original jacket pattern to have a feminine rounded collar and lapel, with a scalloped detail at back of the two-piece sleeve.  There are flap pockets, with a welt underneath.

I'm very pleased with how the jacket turned out.  It fits well (and it's comfortable!) and the fabric is beautiful and versatile (from Britex, seems to be unavailable).  All told, the jacket probably took 12-13 hours of sewing time, including taking out both sleeves and resewing them *after* the lining was in place!  Many thanks to my husband for taking the kids to the aquarium so I could have some uninterrupted sewing time on the weekend!

The jacket is fully lined in a lovely aqua rayon Bemberg (using the bag method).  The sleeve hem is created with a separate facing piece.
I have to say, I do not love the skirt.  It was fine for the assignment (it's drafted and sewn well enough), but I don't like the fit or the clearly-not-invisible hem (yikes, it's seriously appalling in these photos!).  To match the jacket, the coordinating skirt has that same scallop at each of the gore seamlines, which I created using separate facing pieces.  Such a pain to sew!
The skirt has a waistband facing and side zipper, with the same aqua lining as the jacket.
Because the skirt has those hem facings, it would be non-trivial to adjust the fit of the skirt, which would otherwise be fairly straight-forward with the many seams.  So, to make it useful, I may just crop it up a bit and then adjust the fit.  But, I have about 2 yards left of the lovely wool twill and plan to make a pair of trousers!
Happy to be done!  Now to start working down my enormous pile of lovely fabrics!

Resewlution 2014, December garments #1 and 2 (not counting a second, undocumented Plaintain tee)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Self-drafted trousers: two brown versions

Wearable muslin (left) and final draft (right).  Slight changes make a big difference!
As part of my patternmaking class, we were tasked with drafting a pants sloper from measurements (I used my own) and then creating a "style" from that basic pattern.  The process of drafting pants isn't too difficult, if you just accept that multiple drafts are required!
This first pair is my "wearable muslin" after doing some true rough drafts.  They have a yoke-like waistband, zipper fly and front pockets.  The assignment required front and back creases, which I normally wouldn't add, but actually quite like.  My back creases are off, but I haven't yet fixed them (if I can even un-crease them).
The fabric is a medium weight wool tweed in a herringbone pattern.  In the photos it appears gray, but they are actually brown.
I underlined the entire pair with dark brown rayon Bemberg, so they are super comfortable.
The back has only small darts and no pockets.
And here you can see my issue with this "wearable muslin"--the back waistband dips at center back. So, I added length to the back rise and made a new pair of pants, the ones I actually turned in for a grade.
These are made with light-medium stretch wool from Britex. The fabric is nice and smooth, so I didn't bother lining them.

Both pairs have been worn to work already, and I love them!  Very versatile, comfortable, and classic in shape.

And here's the inside waistband, finished in rayon seam binding.
Phew, that was a lot of brown trouser!  For my next class project (due tomorrow), I drafted and sewed a cross-front leotard our of lycra knit.  I'm not sure I'll be posting images of that because despite fitting well, it's not the most lovely garment on my body (and looks a little wacky on a hanger)!  Then, for the next two weeks, I'll be working on my final project: a full suit, drafted to my own measurements.  I've made all the components at least once already for my classwork, but I'll be tweaking the patterns a bit for my own aesthetic.  Very exciting!

Resewlution 2014, November garments #3 and 4.  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Late to the Plantain train

So the free Plantain tee pattern was released by Deer & Doe, what, like 20 years ago?  I had printed the pattern, taped it all together and then promptly slide the entire thing under the bed in my sewing room.  I don't recall the circumstances that put it there, but there it sat for months.  Months.  I finally got tired of sucking it up in the vacuum cleaner, so I pulled it out and made the darn top.  
I can't believe I wait so long.  This is a fabulous pattern.
I used the smallest size (34" bust) and shortened the torso 1/4"-1/2".   I'm not sure I've ever cut a single size for a pattern, but there seemed to be enough flare at the bottom of the shirt to accommodate my larger-than-ideal-proportions waist and hips.
Disco dancing? Sure!
The fabric is Anna Maria Horner Sealing Wax, a beautiful knit.  The fabric is pretty stable and easy to sew, not overly stretchy and is super comfortable to wear.  The print is directional, though, so I wasted a bit of fabric trying to flip pattern pieces around (oops!).
I used my new serger  to sew this one up, and here she is:
After being super duper annoyed with my machine for my last wrap dress, I impulsively bought a machine from Amazon, the Juki MO-654DE.  It's a tiny little thing compared to my 5-thread overlock/coverstitch Singer (essentially this one).  I've only used the new Juki a handful of times, but so far I'm impressed.  I chose Juki soley because it's the brand we have at school for both sergers and straight stitch machines.  I'm not scared of threading sergers (so no need for air-threading or it's price tag),  I just wanted something reliable.  It's quieter, smaller, and faster than my other serger, AND the tension isn't all messed up, so hooray!   I was happy enough to buy a bunch more knit fabric, so  I guess that  says something. :)
Anyhow, back to the tee....if you haven't tried out the Plantain pattern yet, go get it!  It's a lovely staple top and a super quick sew.

Sewing Resewlution 2014, November garment #2 (not counting the 2 pairs of undies I made today... :)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Wrap Dress (Onion 2037)

After posting about this semi-fail dress, a reader suggested trying out the wrap dress by the pattern company Onion (I can't find a webpage, but you can purchase pattern 2037 here or here).  After dragging my feet about buying another dress pattern, I bit the bullet when I found this lovely Stenzo cotton/ lycra fabric from L'oiseau Fabrics.  It just seemed like the most perfect fabric for a Fall wrap dress.
As I expected, the pattern directions are all in Danish, with no English translation (that I could find, though I've read rumors...) and no drawings.  After extensive online research about the construction of the neckline/ wrap tie junction, a couple hints here and there helped me along (which I can't find now...ergh).
The pattern was quick and easy, and well drafted.  There are some fit adjustments I have to make for my own shape, but I can definitely see many more of these in my future (especially since I just bought a new serger...I'll make introductions when she arrives and impresses me :)  The only changes I made are to reduce the sleeves to 3/4 length.
The neckline is a wide band, which I completely love.  Feels nice and secure (reduced the length by about an inch to make sure it was snug), though it could maybe be pulled a little tighter at the back neckline--we'll see after I wash it.
There is a small opening in the side seam of the dress (I put it on the right side) and the ties wrap around twice, ending up in the back--makes a bit of a waistband in the front, which I like a lot.
I love the feel, weight and quality of this fabric.  I'll be definitely be buying more Stenzo knits...probably for another one of these dresses :)
Sewing Resewlution 2014, November garment #2

Oh, the trouser pattern and garment are done for pattern drafting class (actually,  I sewed two pairs of wool trousers this week using that pattern) and submitted for soon!  
(my sleeves are equal length, don't worry!)