Sunday, November 28, 2010

I found pictures!

While trying to at least begin some semblance of order in the photo department of the computer, I came across these photos that my son took about 3 years ago.  He had a digital camera and I didn't at that time.  I think that I had some crazy notion that I was going to do a magazine article, or something.  Who was I kidding?  Who would publish something like that?  Well, now that I am master of my own blog - I can post any pictures I choose, write nonsense, and then send it all into cyberspace. 

The reason this jacket came into being, was the need of some sort of sample of felting that would help in promoting the felting machines at the store.  I had already made a polar fleece scarf with pictures cut out of flannel and felted all over.  That was too easy.  I wanted to show that felting wasn't just for the crafty types.  It can be used for "real" clothing, too.

By the way - the pattern is Vogue 8124, which is now OOP. The fabric is a very soft wool flannel that was left over from a client's jacket.  As usual, in such cases - I had a difficult time fitting pattern pieces, which is why a cuff detail became a necessity.  The idea for this felting experiment came from the work of a Japanese lady (name I do not remember) who linked up with Babylock to promote their felting machine.  She does the most amazing work.
Wrong side of fabric

I cut flowers (red, obviously) from quilting cotton - strategically placed them on the wrong side of my fabric, then felted them down with the machine, constantly checking the other side, so that I could stop just as soon as I had the desired effect.  Oh yes, I did chalk out my pattern pieces on the black fabric first, so that I had some idea of where I needed to place the flowers. 

Right side of fabric   

(As you can probably tell, I've learned to zoom and crop and do fun things with photos on the computer!  This is fun.)  After a very short time, you have a shadowy design emerging on the under (right) side of the fabric.  Overdoing is quite easy - you really have to keep a close eye on your work, but it's a lot of fun.

Luck was on my side, because I had the cording in my stash, which happened to match perfectly.  Boring black jacket became not-so-boring.

I quite enjoy playing with the felting machine.  I made various other samples - a vest with swirls of wool roving went to live in my niece's closet (it suited her better), a pillow, which still resides at the store.  I'm not sure that I really need the machine.  For me it would be a fun toy.  There are many more items on the "want" list for the sewing room, which are of far greater importance (like a coverstitch machine, an embroidery machine, an iron that doesn't have "issues" - the list could be quite long, I suppose).  Unfortunately, there are much more pressing needs (like 2 bathrooms that need a total redo), and I am lucky to have the equipment that I do that allows me to sew! 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My first red skirt ever

So what do you do with the leftovers of red plaid fabric that was used to line son's vest?  Make a skirt, of course.  This brilliant idea popped into my head while I was clearing the cutting table on Sunday.  An easy project.  Instant gratification.  Not quite.  The fabric is a rather large plaid - matching absolutely necessary.  Added problem - I must have bought the end of the bolt, because there was all sorts of nonsense stamped at one end of the piece.  No problem!  Don't ask why I was so determined to get a skirt out of this leftover piece.  Well - here it is.

(Along with the ever-present helper.)  I managed to cut the front all in one piece.  The back just wouldn't fit onto what was left without having the stamped numbers somewhere in the hem.  The ink was quite stiff, and I just wouldn't be happy with the result.  Some redesigning was in order.  I laid down the pattern piece from the bottom up and figured out how deep a yoke I would need at the top.  Drew the yoke with a curved ruler.  Took out the darts from the yoke piece.  Voila!

 A bias (sort of) back yoke.  Actually - I really did try to get the yoke on true bias, but it just wouldn't fit, so I just made it fit.  I fused very fine interfacing to the yoke piece on grain, so that there wouldn't be any issues with the zipper insertions, or stretching later on.  Well - I did make it fit  the fabric that I had.  I now have my very first red skirt.  Not a colour that I've ever thought to wear, but the fabric was there.  It's washable, so I can wear this at home with no worries about blobbing something on myself.  I have black and white tops to wear with it.  Perfect.

I didn't line this skirt, because I'd rather not have to deal with lining after washing the thing.  I'd rather wear it with a halfslip, and to ensure that no-one will ever get a peek of my slip - I made a pleat instead of a slit at the back.

It's such an easy thing to do - you just add a rectangle of fabric the width of the slit extension.  (Yes, more matching was required in this case).

I just stitched at the sides, then top-stitched an upside-down V at the top of the pleat from the right side.  You can even lengthen the slit, if you need more room for walking, with never a worry about indecent exposure - just make sure that you remember to also lengthen the extensions on either side of the slit.

Yes, I know - I didn't match the bias plaid absolutely perfectly at the zipper - but the yoke seam is dead on!    When on public view, the yoke will more than likely be covered by a jacket or sweater, so I wasn't in the mood for "unstitching" and redoing.

 Whatever happened to the little bars that were sold with hooks along with the curved eyelets?  Seems to me hooks always came with a choice on the same card.  Not anymore, and since the curved eyelets have to be set further back to allow the "hooking" to happen, they end up showing.  Hence the necessity of making a french tack to be able to hook up the waistband!  Yes, I used the selvage edge, as the finished edge of the waistband - that's why there are little fuzzy threads.

So that's what happens when I get a brainwave while clearing up after a project - only made possible because I just happened to also have some red thread in the drawer (I was seriously worried that I would run out before I finished any visible stitching) and a red invisible zipper (which was way too long, but that was easily fixed).  End result - I had a new skirt to wear to-day, and that made me happy.  Now what was it that I was supposed to be sewing next?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Wearable Umbrella

Had to call it something!  And here it is - modeled by yours truly.  (I figured out the timer button on the camera!  And the TV makes a great stand-in for a tripod.)  And before I go any further I must thank Sue of the amazing photographs for her help.  Sue was kind enough to e-mail me some pointers on how to improve my picture taking.  I'm working on it!

Well, may-be I could have fussed a bit more with the hood, but 10 seconds is not a whole lot of time to get yourself into position if you still have to deal with part of the garment.  The vest, obviously, is a little large on me, but it isn't for me.  Come to think of it - it may not be such a bad idea for rain wear.  It covers your hair completely, so: Option 1.  No worries about getting your styled hair wet and messy; Option 2.  You can hide the non-styled hair, and no-one will be the wiser.  The face is completely hidden.  Again - not so bad:  Option 1.  All the efforts of beautification will not get washed off on your way to wherever during a rainstorm; Option 2.  No need to wear make-up, because nobody can see your face anyway.  Mind you, you also can't see where you're going, but that's another story.   OK, so may-be we won't be starting any new fads here with this style, but I did my best to produce what my son wanted.  Time to pack it up and send it off.  Hope he's happy with the results.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I used the KwikSew shirt pattern.  The hood that's included was nowhere large enough, so I went looking in my drawers of patterns.  It turns out that I have a Folkwear Pattern for the Kinsale cloak.  It has a huge hood.

I cut out the paper pattern, held it up to my head and decided that it would do.  The hood is self lined.  I attached the two layers on the inside at the seam allowance of the back seam - only a few inches from the point down, but that keeps the layers from shifting around.  I didn't gather anything as per instructions.  I did have to make 2 pleats in the hood at the back of the neck, so that it would fit into the neck opening of the shirt pattern. 

I added a zipper at centre front.  Kangaroo pockets as per View B (I believe), and the slits are also part of the original pattern.   We have a Burberryesque plaid lining (yes, I matched at the side seams).   

I finished off the armholes with bias strips.  The outer fabric is some plasticky polyester, so the ripples at the topstitching were inevitable.  I had to keep pinning to an absolute minimum, because the pinholes did not disappear.  Quite a problem for lining up the pockets, so I resorted to my least favourite method of taping (yes, good old Wonder Tape, which, miraculously, I found in a drawer).  I suppose I could have added all sorts of tabs and snaps and whatnot, but I really just wanted to get this done as quickly as possible, and in my opinion, all those do-dads only make for more places that something can rip.  One major problem in sewing such "creations" is having to really think the whole time.  There were a number of instances where I had to stop and think through the order in which I should be doing certain sewing, because ripping out was not an option!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Damian's wish

Frustration!  Just when I have things all planned out for what gets sewn, one after the other - reality sets in.  I owe my son a present (it was his namesday).  Since I was a very lazy mother and didn't get on with things when I should have, I now have to take a break from sewing for me and get going with the present.  From a very early age my children learned that pictures and explanations of what they want got translated into some semblance of their wishes in the sewing room.  That was a very bad precedent to set.  However, I now have to deal with it.  So - what Damian needs is a vest with a hood.  Not just any hood.  It has to look like something on the Dark Riders.  (Isn't that from the Lord of the Rings?) 

Why you may ask.  Well, apparently he needs something to cover his head on the way to and from work on rainy days.  (I take it there's mostly rain in Vancouver over the winter.)  Something that will at least repel water.  Sweatshirt hoods are too small for his liking.  (They probably aren't too rain resistant, either.)  And why does he need such a large hood, you may ask.  Well, because there is entirely too much hair to cover.  Why a blonde boy needs to sport dreadlocks is beyond my comprehension, but that's another story.

Here's the plan.

I have this pattern in my collection.  It's KwikSew 3250.  Now, if I take View B, minus the sleeves, add a zipper at centre front and enlarge the hood, I think that it'll work.  I have a piece of polyester something-or-other that I had bought to make me a raincoat (may-be there will still be enough left for me - maybe), and a piece of some warmish plaid that was supposed to be a skirt for Taya (didn't happen), which I can use for a lining.  Guess that should translate into a vest that can be worn under a coat during the colder weather.  I have a few patterns (for capes) with larger hoods that I can compare, to see what I have to do to make this work.  As you can see, nothing ends up as it was supposed to in my world.  Hmm.  Seems to me that there was a lovely piece of black suiting that was to be a suit for me, but somehow ended up becoming a tuxedo jacket for Damian, because he had to have one that he saw on the Academy Awards.  Beware of teaching your children that mother can make them anything that they can dream up.  And stay tuned to see if I can actually produce something that will make my son happy, but will not make me embarrassed to know that it's walking around the streets at the other end of the country.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Vogue 1166

Finally done! At last report I had the trousers finished, but I still hadn't even cut the jacket.  Well, here  it is.  I couldn't wait till tomorrow, so I took pictures with room lights - not the best, however...

The jacket is a silk tweed (did I mention that previously?)  It has two shades of olivey green, some nutmeg, some goldy colour and a little black.  It ends up reading as a brownish colour, rather than a green.  What a messy fabric!  The whole sewing room is covered in threads, fluff and dust.  The weave is very loose, so I ended up interfacing every single piece, although according to the pattern, the sleeves did not need to be interfaced.  Very simple, actually.  Just a lot of pieces, and you do have to watch the pleating on the top of the sleeve.  My basting kept falling open from handling and I redid those pleats a number of times.  Oh - the only somewhat difficult bit was the little curve at the top.

It required quite a lot of rather deep clipping to get around the curve.  Not so bad when it was tweed to tweed.  A bit more finicky when it was tweed to lining.

Just thought I'd show you how I do hems on jackets.
In this case, with the fused interfacing completely covering the back of each piece, I opted not to add anymore interfacing to the hems.  I fold down the edge of the hem and catchstitch at this point.  (This picture came out most true to the actual colour of the fabric.)

 I then pop the hem in place and catchstitch again at the edge, usually at the seams only.  These sleeves have only one seam, and there are pleats with a facing at the hem - I only tacked at the seam and for a bit at the top of the seam. 

I did actually peak at the instructions, and I believe they said to attach the front bands from the inside.  I decided to pick stitch "in the ditch" from the top.  The stitching got lost in the nubbly fabric and was totally invisible.  This way I could line things up better.

I did understitch the sleeve hem facings and the neck facing.

On to the trousers (pants?) - whatever.

They're rather wide.  I did add a mock fly front zipper.  Don't know why, but that seems to be what everyone is wearing, and I suppose I'm just used to that at this point.  They're a wool flannel (not of particularly spectacular quality, but...) of a dark caramel colour.  I lined them, as I do all wool pants.  Don't want to get the itchies part-way through the day!

Now - what to wear this with...  The neckline does not work with any shirt-type collars, so that's out.  I do have a goldy-coloured high-necked t-shirt (it's my version from a Vogue pattern - I'm not going to look up the number at the moment).  Somehow this looks rather washed out to me.

I think that black would be better.  Wouldn't you know it - I have a rather large amount of a thin black knit!  Tops!  I might make the t-shirt that is included in the pattern and then invent something else.  I have ideas.  The jacket also works with a number of skirts in my closet - black, camel, dark beige - I just need some tops.  I am trying to do "whole outfits" - accessories included - at this point, so I have to take this to the finish, or I'll be back to "nothing to wear this with".

Now - on to the trials and tribulations of fit.  I was almost on the verge of just using my usual trouser pattern, but decided that I needed the challenge of working with a new pattern.  I laid the two pants patterns together to get an idea of what alterations I would have to make.  Surprise!  My usual pattern is an 8.  The 6 on this one was bigger than my old 8.  I don't understand.  I cut the 6 and needed to make very few adjustments - just took in the sides a titch and scooped out on the back seam.  I have not shrunk.  Vogue patterns were always exact in their sizing.  Or maybe I've been dreaming all these decades.  What was then very interesting, was the jacket sizing.  I measured, I read the measurements on the pattern.  I decided that the 6 would do as well for the top.  After all, I'm smaller on top than on the bottom, right?  I did straighten the curve on the side front at the bust to flatten the front (I knocked off about 3/8").  That worked well.  No excess floppies under the arms.  That's good too, especially since it didn't require me doing anything to the pattern.  The hip - was small.  I know, I should have measured there, and not just assumed that since the pants fit, that the jacket would fit.  I ended up taking out 1/8" on every seam (and there were 7 of them!) tapering out from the waist.  Just where the pants fit exactly right, the jacket was too small.  Does this make sense?  Not like I was using two different patterns!
Knit tops should be much faster work.