Friday, September 30, 2011

Vests and the next project

I don't think I posted a photo of the blue wool vest I made. I hadn't decided on the buttons, the last time I posted. DSCN2771 I went with the same clear plastic button as I used on the jacket of the same fabric. I also made real welt pockets. I love wee, vest pockets! DSCN2772 Here is the newest vest (waistcoat to my English readers), made from the beautiful but thick, orange Italian wool I got from Darrell's and from which I also made a jacket (but maybe didn't blog about - I can't find an appropriate entry anyway). In spite of loving vest pockets, I didn't make them on this one because the wool is too substantial and would only cause me more grief than they are worth. DSCN2773 I used the fabulous printed lining from the pink raw silk jacket. DSCN2774 I put in a piece of elastic at the back waist so the garment would have a bit of shape. DSCN2775 Next, I have been wanting to make a fitted jacket with a peplum for some time, and I got this Vogue pattern because of the jacket. DSCN2777 I believe I am too short/small to wear the full skirt, as much as I might like it. But the jacket appeals to me. DSCN2778 I got a remnant of some plaid wool at Darrell's this summer but I may have been dreaming in technicolor to think that all the pieces of this jacket would fit onto the fabric, especially as the plaid is about 4 inches on a side! The extra fabric required for the peplum might sink using the plaid for this jacket pattern. I have to go back upstairs now to play around with it all.

Monday, September 26, 2011

I'm back!

I seem to have taken the entire summer off and more. Good for me! You can check out a bit of a holiday we had in New York State, if you are interested, at my Flickr site here. I taught at Algonquin College all summer too, but they didn't ask me back for the Fall semester. Then, I got the brainstorm that everything in my life had been leading me to study philosophy, so I signed up for two undergrad courses in philosophy at Carleton University! I've been biking over to the campus every day, Monday through Thursday, 8 kms each way, and reading and reading and reading. I love it. Anyway, my "Rule" prevented me from starting a new sewing project, so I had to finish that raw silk jacket I last blogged about in May. So I did. DSCN2510 Where I left off was with a problem of a sagging hem. Because of the method of construction suggested in the pattern, I didn't sew the hem up first and just attached the lining hem to the jacket fabric hem and this was the result. I had to go in and sew up the hem - attach it to the body of the jacket. Thankfully, this fabric is so loose and coarsely woven that I was able to stitch it up and have the stitches blend in with the fabric. DSCN2585 Then I saw that the raw edge of the front facing was going to unravel even if I sewed it down, so I decided to attach a wee bit of bias made from lining fabric. DSCN2586 I folded the bias around the raw edge and folded under the ends and sewed the whole thing down. DSCN2587 I'm aware that only I will see this or even know about it but it makes me satisfied to know that it has been done right. DSCN2589 I also pick stitched all around the neck edge, to keep the lining from rolling out and give a nice, flat finish. DSCN2763 Here it is! Very plain in terms of construction, because the fabric is so busy, especially with that gold thread. DSCN2764 Because the fabric is so loosely woven, I had to think more than twice about how I would do the buttonholes. I ended up using a broad zigzag machine stitch all around where the hole was going to be, to secure all the loose weave and reinforce the fabric. Both the jacket and the facing fabric have iron-on interfacing backing them all along the front. Then, I cut open a buttonhole and stitched all around the edges with a small blanket stitch. If you click on this photo and go to Flickr and make it as big as possible, you can see that detail. I got some cheap but interesting buttons. I did my usual comparison method of choosing - you pick one button, then choose another and toss the one you like least. Keep doing that until you settle on one. The buttonholes are large enough that I could go get some different buttons and substitute them. Next, I have a simple vest that I am tossing together, made from a remnant bit of orange wool. I have come to terms with the fact that I really like to wear vests and I am not going to worry about what others may think. Vests are a small bit of extra warmth and they can dress up a casual outfit. The more I have, the better!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Not another pink jacket!?

So there I was, having finished the reversible pink jacket, wondering what to do next. I got out my new Badgley Mischka pattern, thinking I would use it to make the raw silk fabric that I've had for ages, into a Chanel-like jacket.
I even got new fabric, so I could make it the first time without using expensive or coveted fabric and not worry about having it turn out poorly. But the idea of the stand-up collar didn't sit well with the loose, scratchy silk fabric.

Then I found myself thinking ahead to the weekend, when we are attending a wedding. It's not like I have nothing to wear! I got out the linen dress and jacket I made last year and wore at the Pink Tea. I wasn't happy about how high the slit in the back went. At the time, I sewed it down so it wasn't so long. But I felt nervous about what might happen if I bent over - would my underwear show?
So I jury-rigged a box pleat over the open slit.
I cut a piece of fabric about 16 inches wide, so it would form a deep pleat in the back. I figured out how to attach it to the existing opening.
And now my dress has a nice big pleat in the back!
Something prompted me to pull out my well-used vest pattern and I dug out the little bit of left-over pale blue wool from the suit I had just made. I knew when I cut the suit out, that I had just enough fabric for a vest. It might be a bit 80s but I don't care - I really like a vest as it gives me a bit of extra coverage and warmth without being a whole jacket.
And vest are such fun to make! Almost like baby clothes, because they are small and fast.
I even made real, working welt pockets, just for fun. When I made the suit, I speculated about brass buttons but ended up with clear plastic which I still like. I got out a treasure trove of metal buttons I have to see if they might work on the vest. I don't think the gold works but the silver might. I only have one of the silver button that I do like (third from the left at the top - I used them on another wool vest I wear a lot), so I'll have to go shopping. DSCN2439 Making that vest reminded me that I had just enough orange wool to make another vest so I pulled out the wool, the raw silk, the lining I had bought for the silk, and some other pieces that might serve as vest lining. Another embarrassment of riches! DSCN2442 I got out the first and only jacket I have made with New Look 6619. DSCN2441 Tried it on and it fits nicely. So I made a command decision to cut out the silk and be done with it. I got the lining a couple of years ago at Darrell's, specifically with this silk in mind. It is substantial fabric in some man-made fabric (acetate or polyester, I can't remember), and funky fun with the print on it. As I was cutting, I realized it would work equally well with the orange wool for lining.
Here is the original plan, with the silk and the printed lining.
And here is the jacket body, on the judy. I have fused interfacing to the entire front and around the back neck edge. The fabric is a loose weave so it will benefit from this. I have already started to sew the lining pieces together. As Hannibal Smith used to say, "I love it when a plan comes together."

Friday, May 13, 2011

Reversible jacket finished

My pink reversible jacket is done!

I am especially pleased with how comfortable it is. It is soft and cozy and unrestricting. I decided in the end to sew on large snaps as fasteners. I had thought of using the hammer-on snaps, knowing they would show on the outside of the garment but when it occurred to me that I could sew them on inside the fronts, I realized they would not show on the outside and so make the reversibility even less obvious. I had some 11 mm snaps but went out and got the biggest sew-on snaps they had - the 15 mm variety.
Going back to where I left off, I did a flat fell of the entire underarm seam (as usual). This jacket has to look as good on the blue side as the pink side. The fabric is a little bulky, being double-sided, but it isn't as stiff as 10 ounce denim so it wasn't that difficult.
It's always fun to sew down into the tube of the sleeve and come out at the far end of the sleeve. I put this photo in for a friend in my writers group who sewed his own shirt recently and wondered how flat felling this seam worked.
I made a sort of "couture" hem on the back (and then the sleeves). I used a single layer of the pink fabric that I got from the selvages and folded it over the raw edge of the hem. This photo is at the back where the side seams meet and the front bands end. On the right, everything is unfolded and on the left, I have started to pin everything down for top stitching.
Here are the cuffs, before and during hemming. Another friend said I should make turned-up cuffs in the contrasting colour, even though I made a point of really limiting the amount of contrast elsewhere on the jacket. I thought she was right.
Here's the jacket, almost finished (I haven't sewed the snaps on yet) with the cuffs turned up. Now that I have been nominated the next president of the board at BCA, it will be nice to have another bright pink jacket to wear for certain occasions. Breast cancer has surely appropriated the colour pink and it will serve to promote our charity.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Reversible jacket and other things

Other things first: My Dad wrote a book some years ago, about his time in Korea in the early 1950s. It is well written, nice clear prose, and interesting. What was especially poignant was the fact that when he was in Korea, he was only 24 years old. It is interesting to think back to when I was 24, and compare our life experiences. He has set up a website now, and will be posting reminiscences in the form of a blog. He can use some traffic, so here is the URL:
If any of my readers have a military connexion, you might be interested in the book. It also has U.S. military connexions, as he got some training at Fort Lewis in Washington (chapter 4). That chapter contains an intriguing anecdote about the recycled barrack box he was assigned and which now rests in my garage. In any event, I wanted to give old Dad a plug here, until he figures out how to increase his blog traffic. Go check it out!

Back to sewing! Here is the two-sided denim, all ironed and laid out. I have far more than I need for a jacket and I don't know what to do with the yard or so I have left over. Not a skirt - it is too quilted and bulky for that.
I am modifying this pattern.
I used the original to good effect on this jacket that I wore all over France in 2008. But since I wanted to make the jacket truly reversible, I needed to make some changes.
I wanted to have a one piece sleeve with no cuff. I also needed the front to be plain so I could turn it inside out. I pinned the two front pieces together so they wouldn't have a seam (or a pocket). I might still add a pocket later, but not until I try wearing it.
I thought I would use two colours of thread on top and bobbin but it turns out I can use just the pink successfully, due to all the quilting stitching.
Another reason for a one piece sleeve is to make the flat felling of the armscye easier and neater. Once that is done, I can sew up the entire underarm and side seam in one go and finish it neatly also.
I have decided to limit the amount of the other fabric that shows on each side. I could make the band around the front contrasty and have cuffs that turn up and such like but I think it is busy enough without that. I have the single sided selvages that I can use when I hem the bottom at the back or I could let the blue show more on the pink side. I believe I will wear the blue side out more of the time than the pink side but I don't know for sure. I have decided it is a lot more casual fabric that I remembered it being. Anyway, by modifying the pattern it is going together very quickly (fewer pieces) so I'm not investing tons of time in it.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

An embarrassment of riches

Now that I've finished the red linen outfit, I am on to new things. I have been thinking about this double-sided (two layered) fabric I bought some years ago after I won a gift certificate to spend at Fabricland.
It's a thin layer of denim embroidered to a thin layer of bright pink cotton. In addition, there are frayed flower shapes on the denim, which actually make it less sturdy. My plan is to make a reversible jacket, even though I will probably wear the denim side out most of the time. But making it reversible will allow me to have a bright pink jacket for the times that I want one. Now that I'm doing a fair bit of breast cancer awareness work, I suppose the pink will come in handy, although I bought it years before I even got diagnosed. I'm planning to use the Butterick 4741 pattern I used for the bright yellow twill jacket I wore to France in 2008, but adapt it with plain sleeves (no cuffs or placket) and a one piece front so the jacket can be truly reversible.

While I was hauling the denim out of the stash, I re-discovered all these other fabrics too! Hence the title of this post.
Speaking of France 2008, here are four of the Provencal cottons I got on that trip. I think I will make either shirts or skirts out of them. They are not heavy weight fabric and will probably wear forever as shirts. Delicious looking!
Then there are these lengths of rayon of the soft, challis variety. I bought the two complementary blue ones on the left side and have made a dress out of the larger print already, with accents in the small, geometric print. So now I have to make something with the geometric print. This fabric is actually stiffer than the other rayons and seems to have more dye in it or something. It has a batik look to it. I am thinking I should make dresses out of this fabric, as it is lightweight and drapes well. My only "issue" is that I don't really have much need for dresses - I can get more wear out of shirts. On the other hand, if you build it, they will come. Maybe if I make dresses, I will find places I can wear them!

Anyway, all this to say that I am still sewing up my stash - no new fabric for me! And I write this to help myself resist going and getting this green polka-dot fabric I saw when I was getting the lining for the red outfit. It reminded me of this cute shirt dress I had when I first went to law school, that I wore with a pink jacket. That was 1981 folks. Good times.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Red dress success!

I was really pleased with the outfit (and it was comfortable!) and got lots of compliments on it. The Taiwanese folks at the residence were kind enough to tell me that the large gold character probably was "horse" and it was right side up, even if they thought it might be a mirror image. The jewelry I am wearing was created by Karen McClintock and worked perfectly with the outfit. Each earring is one of the square Swarovski crystals that make up the necklace and the bracelet. I couldn't afford all the pieces and frankly, I hardly ever wear necklaces and bracelets. However, I did buy the earrings and I do wear earrings all the time. They were over $100 with tax.
DSCN2375 copy
Here is a bit of a close-up. This photo was taken using my little camera by a local photographer who does charity events like this, Frank Scheme. He has posted his pix over at his website.
Let me just back track a little. Here, I am flat felling the armscye which can get tricky when the fabric frays or is too stiff. I was lucky that the linen, while substantial, was not that thick. I have done this with denim, so it isn't too horrible. [I went to dictionary dot com and discovered I have been mispronouncing "armscye"! Horrors. I have been saying arm-ski, when it should be arm-sigh.]
I decided instead of just turning up the sleeve hems, I would do a sort of couture hem, even though no one but me would ever know it is there. I used a strip of the black linen...
... which I machine sewed to the raw edge of the bottom of the sleeve. Then I ironed it up and hand sewed the folded edge of the black linen to the sleeve.
I remembered I had a single large brass/gold button leftover in my collection and it even had a sort of Oriental look to it. It works well.
I look a little glassy in the flash! But I'm really not. And I see I will eventually have to do something with that dark front tooth. I fell off my bicycle when I was 8, scraping my face down the pavement. The tooth bled into the enamel and made it darker than the others. On the other hand, I am aging all over and getting a bit of a chicken neck and age spots, so I have to ask myself if I care about the tooth.
Here are a couple of more pix from the event. It is graciously held at the residence of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Ambassador, Dr. David and Mrs. Lin Chih Lee. They even feed us while we are there. We have a silent auction too. Mostly, I like it as a social event that raises awareness but also provides an excuse for survivors getting together. All in all, a success.