Saturday, May 30, 2015

7 Years in the Making

the front
In 2007 (yes, I had to look it up to remember how long ago it was) there was an exhibition of Russian quilts here.  I translated at some of the classes.  One of the quilters was showing jackets that intrigued me.  Up to that point, the quilted jackets that I noticed around were rather oversized bulky things that did not appeal to me in the least.  The "Russian" jackets were fitted, much more stylish.  Upon inspection, they were not really "quilted", but pieced together right on the lining with no batting (foundation piecing?).  I had to have a try.  Pieces of fabric were bought (cotton batiks - at least I had a definite idea about something!), fanned out on the table.  I'd squint at them, walk around the table, squint some more, put the fabrics away.  Buy more fabrics, lay them out, delete some, add some.  This went on for, literally, years.  Fast forward to 2013 - enough is enough - I finally decided that I could continue this process for decades and never put together this jacket.  Out came all the fabrics - I finally made choices.  What I had envisioned as being a "brown" jacket, ended up being more orange, but that's the way it goes.  The jacket pattern ended up being a combination of bits and pieces from various patterns, and I really don't remember what I stuck together.  My main goal was to have very simple pattern pieces to stitch on the patchwork.  I had some kasha lining, and that was my foundation.  Pattern pieces were traced, and then (another long process) I had to decide how to piece.  I had many brilliant ideas - log cabin, crazy quilt... it could have gone on again for years.  Another kick in the behind to myself, and I decided random width strips would do just fine.  If I didn't start stitching, I would manage to drag this out yet again.  I was so very glad when I finally got to the stage where I was actually cutting and sewing jacket pieces!
the back
For some reason the sleeves just refused to be fitted into the armholes.  I simply put in a few pleats at the top of the sleeves.  The collar needed a bit of pizazz...
so I pieced it from little squares (Seminole piecing?).
And then... don't know what happened... the sleeves turned out a bit short.  Never fear - there's always a solution - more little squares...
Oh - just in case you're interested - all the main seams were sewn wrong sides together, then bound and topstitched on the right side.  Nice clean finish on the inside.  Anything sewn right sides together was bound on the inside.

Edges all bound.  Needless to say - I was very happy when this jacket was all done.  There really was no need to make this into such a drawn out project, and I really have no idea why I become absolutely petrified when I dream up something like this.  Next time...


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Men's Shirts

Let's try this yet again.  I never did manage to keep journals, write diaries, and obviously that reflects in my abilities to keep blogging.  I am determined, however, to try again, and perhaps this time I will actually manage to keep going and to post at fairly regular intervals.  How difficult is it to write something, say, once a week?
I do apologize for not having responded to comments, and at this point, I'm sure, that any reply would not make any sense any more, so I'm starting over - clean slate.  I will attempt to be a much more interactive blogger.
Men's shirts.  In the fall I had a class on simple men's shirts.  (I am now getting quite a few men in beginner's classes!  Only fair to gear the topics for their interests.)  Obvious recipient of class samples would be my son.  Unfortunately, he's at the other end of the country, so sizing becomes somewhat of a guessing game.
Here's the shirt and the pattern.  Blue linen with grey buttons.
 I actually followed directions - just because I have to set an example for students!  Well, except for the finishing of the bottom of the collar inside...
Instead of tucking the raw edges into the bottom of the collar, I sewed straight across, then finished with a strip of bias.  Much easier.  Much more secure, especially on such a loose weave.
The next shirt was to be a birthday present.  Birthday is in February.  Shirt(s) were sent just recently.  What's a few months?
My son likes the look of steampunk clothing, but he's not too keen on wearing a "costume".  Perfect shirt would be...
This one I made from muslin - literally.  It's was very wide muslin with a very silky feel.  I had purchased it with thoughts of a shirt or blouse for myself, but it seemed perfect for this shirt.  Buttons are shell.  I was a little concerned about the size - it is a rather voluminous shirt, but then there's the pleat in the front, and pleats in the back...
The package arrived today, so I'm sure I'll be given a verdict soon enough.
I did stick to directions.  (The front "bib" with the pleat wasn't difficult, but it certainly helped to follow the directions.)
My son's request was to change the sleeve opening at the cuff.  I made him another Folkwear shirt years ago (the Russian one).  The cuff buttoned at the sleeve seam, which put the button right at the underside of the wrist.  Not very comfortable when, for example, one is writing.  This pattern had the same "problem", but I fixed that.
This shirt got regular 21st century sleeve vents.
Now that wasn't so difficult.  I actually managed to write a post and add pictures.  It did not take me all night.  I do apologize for the very choppy writing.  I tend to be very wordy, and here I try to keep things short, and then it all seems wrong.  If I keep mulling this over much longer I won't hit the "publish" button, and then there will be no post!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Muslin

Found here
When I started to actually think about the muslin for this pattern, I came to the conclusion that I needed to (wanted to?) use something thicker than cotton - something that would somehow mimic the final quilted jacket.  Also, I hoped that this would result in a second jacket, instead of a limp rag that would get thrown into a box.  I dragged out a remnant piece of navy double faced wool - something that I thought originally would make a vest.  With some piecing of scraps (side front and side back are pieced, and the collar was a real scrap project - 3 scraps to make the collar!), I actually managed to fit all the pattern pieces for the jacket.  To make the fitting/pinning process easier, I elected to sew pieces wrong sides together, with the seam allowances facing out.  Once the the fitting was done, the pattern pieces cut down to "my" size - I got on with work on the quilted jacket.

Then it was back to my "muslin".  How to finish it off?  I wanted a clean finish on the inside, and the seams were all sewn already facing out...  I opened all the seams, stitched them down with a twin needle from the wrong side, trimmed the seam allowances (which were rather ginormous), then covered them up with bias strips. These were all sewn down by hand through one layer of the double wool, so that nothing would show on the inside.
This was definitely one of those cases where my scrap hoarding paid off.  The plaid silk dupioni was left over from some flower girl sashes from a wedding that happened decades ago.  Periodically I would unroll these bits of fabric, thinking what on earth am I keeping these for? - then I would roll them back up and pop them back into the scrap drawer.  Guess I was keeping those scraps just for this jacket, though I didn't know it.  The buttons are green leather - yet again one of those things that I wondered about periodically, but elected to keep - just the right number and size for this jacket!  I suppose I could call this my "environmentally friendly" jacket - zero waste (almost) when cutting the pieces, using up stash - not that I'm a stickler for such things, but it's always nice to give oneself an extra pat on the back.  The result is a jacket that wears like a cardigan, and keeps me quite warm - no mean feat for someone who is always freezing.
Aside from the fact that this pattern runs very large - the only real problem, I found, was the way the sleeves were drafted - no differentiation for front and back (same problem I had with the Simplicity jacket), which made the sleeves skew backward.  My very unscientific method to fix the problem, was to pinch in the sleeve...

until it hung properly, measure the amount of extra fabric, then scoop that amount out of the sleeve pattern.

Hopefully you can see my pencil lines on the original pattern piece - I did scoop out the back of the sleeve a little (top pencil line), and the front was scooped out quite a bit more (bottom pencil line).
 
One more view....  Ah... the buttonholes....  I simply made machine buttonholes, putting a piece of black tearaway stabilizer underneath.  It's hidden in the stitching on the wrong side, with the hope that it will keep the buttonhole from stretching out.  Perhaps I should have corded it, but I didn't.  We'll see how that works out in the long run.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Geisha jacket take 2

This picture of me wearing jacket took some planning - like remembering to pop my camera in my purse when I went to pick up my cousin to go to the opera, and he graciously agreed to snap this picture.  Back view, because that's the one that counts with this jacket.
Is there some way of sitting in a car without making mincemeat of the back of a skirt?
The skirt (not blogged) is the Hollyburn by Sewaholic - lengthened considerably.  For the particulars on this jacket, please see my previous post.  Continuing information, i.e. the story of the muslin - coming soon.
By the way - did you know that the Met has a fashion blog?  Shows what people wore to the opera.  Rather fun.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Geisha jacket

Thank-you to everyone for such a warm welcome back!
Before I delve into the jacket particulars...
Allison - the dressform came as you see it - it's not actually a form for fitting, but a "decorator" piece.
Sheila - thank-you for checking up on me back in July.  I only just noticed your comment.
Barbara - I'll explain the sleeve fitting fix in a later post - I had to do the same for this jacket.
Back view
Front view

I just happened to walk into the store when this fabric arrived - love at first sight!  Quilting fabric - a panel print with geisha girls in my favourite colour  - brown.  Lots of coordinating fabrics.  Normal people put these all together and make a quilt or a wall hanging.  Not normal people (me) need to figure out how to make this work as a piece of clothing.  Part of the same shipment - this pattern.
It was difficult to choose just three fabrics of the too many choices, but I finally did.  And to be sure that this jacket would actually get made, it was to be a sample for a class.  It still took almost three months to get done in-betwixt and in-between various other goings on.
The pattern was an unknown commodity to me.  There was only a finished bust measurement to help in choosing size, which seemed huge.  Like it or not, a muslin was absolutely necessary, and that's a story for the next post.  The "muslin" became a second jacket.  Bonus.
Once the pattern alterations were done, each piece was traced onto the printed cotton and rough cut.  Then the print was layered with batting and lining (a silk jacquard that was supposed to be a blouse at some point, but it just happened to be the perfect match, and... well... lining this jacket was a greater necessity than a brown silk blouse... at the time).  Each piece was basted, then quilted.  Sounds fairly straight forward and easy.  Not quite.  I dithered and I procrastinated and I dithered some more.  It's a scary process, this quilting business, especially if the result has to be absolutely perfect, because people will be looking up close, and flipping to the inside to have a look, and... ( I do such a wonderful job of making myself fell incompetent.)  Oh, and then there was the issue of how to quilt each piece.  Couldn't run lines of stitching through the faces!  Should I do straight lines? diagonal? diamonds?  In the end, each fabric was done differently.  And no, I do not own a walking foot - I just held the fabric taut as I sewed, and I prayed ... a lot.
According to the pattern instructions, the seam allowances are to be serged.  Not on my precious jacket!  I opted for a sort of lapped seam on the inside - hand stitched to not show on the outside.
What a relief to finally get to the binding.  End in sight!
Buttons with flowers sort of blend in
Then there were the buttonholes...  My original intent was to stitch buttonholes by hand.  I machine stitched rectangles, made the cuts.  (Made several samples on scraps.) Those darn buttonholes looked just awful.  Even with two times around in heavier thread, the batting kept poking through.  After having a bit of a meltdown, then ripping out the stitching, I decided to simply wrap the "holes" in tiny strips of fabric and had stitch these down - a sort of bound buttonhole look.  Could have saved myself a lot of time and anguish, had I come to this decision much earlier in the process.
Inside detail at collar
The class for making this jacket was in early spring.  Interestingly enough - not a single person in that class chose the same fabric as I did, and I had thought that the fabric was the star of the show.  Turned out it was the pattern!
Having lived at the store for almost six months, the jacket now hangs in my closet - as yet unworn.  It just seems too "special" to wear on just any old day.  Perhaps I'll finally wear it to the opera this Saturday, even though "going to the opera" around here, is just going to the movie theatre for a live broadcast from the Met in New York.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Simplicity 2153

I'm back.  I had no intention of staying away for so long (have I said this at other times?), but... life became somewhat overwhelming, then moved on to being completely overwhelming.  I'm dealing with it.
I missed blogging... keeping some sort of record of sewing accomplishments... something to keep me on track, a place where I could click, click through posts to make myself feel better when I'm feeling that I'm getting nothing done, a sense of a real accomplishment when I would finally post a project.  Somehow simply hanging a finished garment in the closet doesn't quite equal a picture and a blog post.
Seems like I have a lot of catching up to do here.  Where to begin?  I did keep taking pictures, so it would only make sense to use those pictures first.

As the snow was beginning to fall (all too early) last fall, I was still finishing this jacket.

Simplicity 2153
I was definitely tempted to pack it away as a UFO until spring, but managed to convince myself that it would be a welcome sight in a finished state, come spring.  A number of people were sewing various versions of this same jacket, and I definitely paid attention to what others had to say.  The sleeves needed rejigging to hang better.  Far from perfect, but much better than they were originally.  Fabric is a "novelty polyester", which, I vaguely remember buying for an evening jacket.  That obviously didn't happen, and this casual jacket is much more practical in my life.  The wrong side of the fabric is rather rough, so lining had to happen.  How thoughtful of my stash to produce a very silky poly charmeuse just for that purpose.
Raw edges were treated with a Hong Kong finish, then slipstitched to the lining.
I like a "nice" zipper for a jacket like this.  "Nice" zippers come in a very limited selection locally, so I did have to make do with something shorter than the recommended length.  It worked.  I do know that I probably paid more for the zipper than I had probably paid for the fabric.  No waiting for sales.  No trolling around online.  When I need a zipper I need it NOW, and that means a mad dash to the store, agonizing over the lack of choice, then finally choosing from what's available and making it work.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Embroidered tank

Despite the lack of reports on sewing, there has been a steady flow of new wearables into the closet.  The picture-taking on the other hand, has resulted in rather unacceptable pictures.  Blame the heat, or the humidity, or the fact that ...  who knows.  I'm getting ready to head off to camp for a week, for my so-called vacation.  When I get back I will get things sorted out.  May-be my head just needs a break from the day-to-day, and everything will happen much more easily once I return.  Ah - but there were some usable pictures, so I do have something to show.
What do you do with a sample embroidery?  The one that you have to stitch out, so that you can figure out the placement on the garment that you actually intend to embroider?  Well, you make it into a garment!

Kwik Sew 2498

There have been a number of variations on this - a sleeveless top, this summer.  When it's so hot and humid, it seems like the only thing I really care to wear.  This one is silk - the last bit of a piece that I bought from the Natural Fiber Fabric Club (I think that's what it was called) back in the early 80's.  The precursor of on-line fabric stores.  To make the back, I had to piece strips - serious fabric shortage.
Once in a while I break out the "Spanish hemstitch foot" for doing piecing such as this.  Unfortunately the picture of the close-up of the stitching came out way too fuzzy.  I'll just do a post on this later.  If I waited for perfection every time, I would never post a thing.  The binding...
doubled-up silk chiffon, which just happened to be the perfect match.  (That's why we keep all the bits and pieces, because somewhere down the line something just happens to match or work with something else!)
So now I'll get back to finishing my t-shirt refashions that I'm taking to camp.  It will definitely be hot in that camp kitchen, and I plan to stay as cool as I possibly can.