Wednesday, December 29, 2010

the Liverpool interruption

I've taken a short break on sewing the vintage Patou jacket. Partly it's because of Christmas, partly because my mojo is missing right now, and partly because I wanted to make my mom a Liverpool shirt to take with her to Florida.

She came over today, so I showed her the progress and she ended up taking it home to finish the hem and buttons! Honestly, I did not mean to do that to her this time but she insisted.

She had admired the pattern cover photo with the shirt made up in this print, so I decided to use up some fabric stash and make it for her. Little did I know this time the pattern was going to give me fits. I put the collar on three times. The cuffs twice. By the time I sent it home with her I was glad to see it go!

Now, back to my regularly scheduled jacket sewing. Maybe.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Vintage Vogue 1593 - Underlining

I have had the great fortune this week (and next) to be on vacation from work. This means I've had plenty of free time to sew, right? Well, not exactly. My oldest son has also been off from his preschool, so while I've had a little bit more free time than usual, the schedule is also plenty full.

I managed to get the body pieces of the vintage Vogue 1593 Patou jacket underlined and sewn together this morning, which was some feat considering what I finally decided to use for underlining fabric!

While I worked on the muslin of the jacket (made out of an old bedsheet), I noticed that each pattern piece instructed me to cut one of fabric, underlining, and lining. Knowing absolutely nothing about underlining, I posted on Pattern Review's board asking for advice. Bingo! A very kind expert weighed in with the suggestion of using silk organza. I shuddered in fear, but she was right.

Silk organza it is! I wanted a little body with no extra thickness or warmth. Thus, flannel was out. Cotton batiste or broadcloth would have been ok, but I really like the body of silk organza. I bought two yards (this substantially increased the cost of this project, so I hope I LOVE it when it's done!), washed it on hot and dried it to the bone in the dryer.

(You can tell I was sewing with a child around, hence the anteater and kitchen tongs on my cutting table.)

Then I cut each pattern piece out with about one inch extra seam allowance. Why? Because the way silk organza moves underneath my hands, I didn't want any risk of not having it entirely underlining a section. Does that make sense?

I read various suggestions on the technique of underlining, but the one that seemed the best suggested not machine basting the underlining to the fabric pieces because of the risk of rippling. Instead, she suggested rolling the piece over your arm and pinning or tacking the underlining after doing that. The roll makes up for the curvature of your body, and the difference in the two fabrics' body. Wow, that was wordy.

Anyhoodle, the underlining of the front and back sections is done.

And Merry Christmas to me! My new dressform came today by UPS. I haven't had a dressform since I sold my rickety adjustable one in my giant fabric stash yard sale last spring. I love my new one, as much for its form as its function. According to my misshapen body, I should be a 10 on top and a 14 on the bottom. So I ordered a 12. It's close enough (1/2" off at most) in all the measurements to be good enough for me, and cost approximately $220 with free shipping versus $800 for a dressform made to my own measurements.

Up next...assembly, sleeves, and lining. I hope to be able to show you progress on the Patou jacket on the new dressform. Exciting!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Up next... vintage Vogue 1593

In between eating Christmas cookies and eating more Christmas cookies, I've started a new sewing project. Good things it's not pants, because they wouldn't fit.

I bought this vintage Vogue Patou pattern off Etsy a month ago and couldn't stop thinking about it. The green! The tie! I love it. I wanted to find green wool just like what is pictured, but sadly no one had anything quite that... bold. So I took a great leap of faith and ordered a pink/peach/coral/rose wool flannel from Gorgeous Fabrics.

This is my first online order of fine fabric, can you believe that?! I've ordered other fabric online, but I'm always leery to spend a lot of money on something I can't see and touch. Luckily, the wool flannel feels lovely and looks exactly like what I expected. I ordered two yards but when it arrived, it's even wider than I expected and I only needed 1 1/4. So I believe a slim coral pencil skirt may be in my future.

The cutting has begun. Each pattern piece is both underlined (I am using silk organza) and lined (the polka dot charmeuse). Cutting should only take me sixteen hours or so.

AND I made a muslin this time, can you believe that?! I'm not picturing it because I made a huge goof and sewed half the thing inside out. I know, it doesn't make sense but believe me, that's what happened.

I figured I should test out the fit before cutting into my expensive new wool. Because ladies were considerably shorter in the 60s than they are now, I will be adding four inches to the bodice length in order for the jacket to clear my waistband. I am not a fan of the bolero look.

Wish me luck, progress updates to follow....

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Simplicity 2700 - Close, but no cigar

Now that I'm sewing again, I'm determined to only make things I want to wear. It sound obvious, right? Sadly, for me, it isn't always that simple. I tend to enjoy the process of sewing a whole lot more than wearing the finished product. I will never be one of those people who makes their entire wardrobe, I know that much.

But I do enjoy sewing and I love fabric, so I'd really like to occasionally be able to make something that adds to my wardrobe and certainly doesn't scream I MADE THIS AT HOME.

Here's where my latest project comes in. For work in the winter, I typically wear dress pants and a blouse or sweater. I used to exclusively wear Banana Republic pants and suits because they fit me the best, but their fit and sizing had changed in the last few years so now it looks like I'm wearing mostly J Crew dress pants, suits, and blouses.

I have had this beautiful piece of black pinstripe wool/lycra in my stash for the last two years, so I pulled it out this week, determined to make an exact duplicate of the RTW pants I love so much. I even traced the front and back of my J Crew pants and made a muslin of those, contemplating the idea of drafting my own pants pattern. Then I scratched that idea and poured over every single pants pattern I could find. I spent countless hours on Pattern Review.

And then I chose Simplicity 2700.

That was my mistake.

Here are my thoughts on this pattern. In no particular order because I'm tired and frustrated and considering taking a class in trouser construction/pattern drafting.

The RTW pants I love have side seam pockets, and S2700 have diagonal slash pockets. This is a HUGE difference. The look is just not the same. I cannot get the hips to lay flat to save my life, and I'm convinced it's because of the pockets.

I insist on welt pockets on the back of all my dress pants. Not because I want to stash a bunch of things, but because my fanny looks bad unless it has some extra construction framing it. That sounds strange, but it's true. My butt needs more covering than a single layer of fabric.

The waistband on my RTW pants looks to be constructed separately and then applied to the pants. In S2700, they instruct you to sew the waistband pieces to the leg sections and then stitch the pants together. In my opinion, this creates a look of a yoked pant instead of dress pants with a waistband. Come to think of it, I have some J Crew yoke-style pants with diagonal slash pockets and no back welt pockets, and they aren't my favorite. They tend to "grow" as I wear them, falling down on my hips. I digress. I also found the waistband to be way too wide and the rise to be about an inch too high for my taste. That was an easy fix, though.

If you're new to sewing, DO NOT BUY THIS PATTERN. The instructions for almost every step were ridiculous. The zipper?! Holy cow, they must not have wanted anyone to ever attempt a zipper fly insertion ever again. I didn't even follow the rest of the instructions because I was so peeved with the zipper portion.

The finished product is okay. I'll wear them, I'm sure of that. I just don't love them and I really wanted to love them.

I cut the Slim version, after comparing Slim and Average and realizing there is very little difference. I often find patterns for clothing to create a much more voluminous end product than what you find in RTW.

Final judgment? Close, but no cigar. Next time I think I'll actually try to use my self-drafted trouser pattern to re-create the J Crew pants I love.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pattern sale? Why yes, thank you.

If you happen to live near a Hancock's Fabrics, then mark your calendars (and if you don't, keep on reading til the bottom). They're having two great pattern sales in December.

December 9-12:
McCall's and Butterick patterns are $1.99

December 16-24:
$1.99 Simplicity
$2.99 Butterick
$2.99 McCall's
$3.99 Vogue

Merry Christmas to me, right? This is the only time I really buy Vogue patterns, when they're $3.99 or sometimes when they're 75% off. So stock up for the cold long winter nights.

And if you're not so lucky as to have a craptastic Hancock's near you, just email me. I've been known to ship patterns to fellow addicts!

- H

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Fabric. And lots of it.

Well, it appears as though I'm back. Although I will be honest, I am going to try super hard not to let this blog take over my life! So my posting may be sporadic and lame, and hopefully will only record my progress on actual projects I'm sewing so I don't let my hobby run me over.

Anyhoodle, onward and upward, right?

A year or so ago one of our local fabric stores closed and they sold off all their stock in a big clearance sale. I was into fabric hoarding at the time (I've since placed myself on a strict no-fabric diet which is working about 60% of the time, thank you very much) and so I snatched up a bunch of their better woolens at 75% off.

I don't remember exactly, but I think I ended up paying less than $10 per yard for these Pendletons. And I haven't sewn a stinking thing with either one. Luckily, the moths found one of my better cashmere sweaters and not my wool stash, so they're in great condition. I steamed them this evening and I'm ready to make a decision.

What to sew?

Here are the fabric choices. Four and a half yards of lovely British khaki with one-inch windowpaney checks. Why so much? I have no idea! For a split second I considered making the Lady Grey out of it, but my mother's wisdom prevailed. It's all wrong for that pattern.

You can see the size of the check, as my cutting board underneath is in one-inch increments. Increments, check me out with the big words.

And two and a half yards of a winter white with 1/2" navy and brown check.

Both have a lighter feel to them. Not exactly tropical wool, but not heavy coating either.

I am considering making Simplicity 2648 out of one of them, I'm just not sure which one? And that pattern is not supposed to be lined, but I will be lining whatever I make with this stuff.

So. That's the problem. If you have any pattern suggestions, please throw them my way. I have tons and tons of current and vintage patterns.

I leave you with a gratuitous puppy shot. Except my gratuitous puppy is an enormous goon now who takes up quite a bit of square footage in this house. She was in desperate need of a bed for her "spot" in the kitchen, so I made something with fleece for the first time in for-EVER. Hate fleece! But she loves it, especially with the zebra on the one side, leopard on the other, and a foam pad in the middle. Ruby's in doggy heaven.