Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Silk Crepe Bellini Blouse

I can't believe I've been sitting on these photos for two three weeks already. Time does fly doesn't it! I also don't seem to have been sewing at all in the past two weeks, though I am working on a dress currently.

This is a picture heavy post.


I made another Bellini blouse, this time in silk crepe which I got in the remnant bin at Britex. It was a good 2 yards as well, so I have enough for a sleeveless top or accents on another top or something similar!


As mentioned last time, the pattern needed some changes. I was too lazy to retape the pattern together, so instead I modified the existing one: I extended the bust circumference by about 1 inch, and increased a bit more at the hips. I did this by keeping the shoulders the same and cutting and extending into the armhole. Then, I remade the armhole curve. It worked ok, especially in the back. I should have made the armhole deeper in the front though.


I'm standing crooked in this picture, but the back flows nicely I think. As before, no swayback necessary. Side view and another front view below.  I'm not sure about the drag lines - whether they're because of how I'm standing or not. Now, I'm not the thinnest person around, but I think part of the drag lines also come from the belt I am wearing. I'm always wear jeans with a belt, and it seems like I need to account for that in my makes from now on.

I'd appreciate some feedback otherwise if you have any. I wonder if I should have made a proper FBA on this pattern - I don't think so, but any inputs are welcome!



Construction wise, I used french seams everywhere, and this time I overcast the edges of the front facing, since I didn't want the blouse to ravel at all.


I made bias binding as before, and I also used it to finish the hem, since I wanted something easy - no one will know anyway, and it's not more bulky in this fabric. Also, otherwise I would have been left with a perfectly usable length of bias binding :)

The only embellishment I made was to add 3 buttons on top instead of following the placement.


I saw this in a pretty shirt one of my friends has, and thought I'd replicate. In hindsight, they could have been closer together, but it's always hard to tell with buttons.


Unlike before, making the collar was a lot easier - I knew what to expect, so that was part of it. Come to think of it, making it was very easy overall - no issues with slipping silk or anything.

I wore it a few times already!


Saturday, 8 November 2014

Sewing #throughglass #1

It's a bit silly that the first videos I took through Glass were of a mistake... but I did a whole video of it nonetheless. The problem was that I sewed the pockets on the wrong side of the skirt.

Here's the full video below. I also published the individual videos that make this one up on my YouTube channel in a playlist, which you can access here.


Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Wearability Report: Silver Afternoon Blouse

I'm looking at clothes I made after I got a chance to wear them a few times, and report on how it went. I'm calling this the wearability report, where I'm listing the good & bad workmanship, the pattern merits & faults, the fitting strengths & failures, and following up with a general wearability score for the garment on a 1 to 10 scale, and general thoughts on it, a few months after it was made.

This summer I made two Afternoon blouses, with fixing some fitting issues between the two makes. The second version, in silver linen, I blogged about here.



Let me start by saying - I love this version of the blouse, and it has been one of my most successful makes this summer. The first version I'm not super happy about, with the dreaded front-sway/bib issues, but I managed to fix that problem. It's also lucky that this one has enough ease and my strength training this summer hasn't really been a problem in terms of fit. It is one of the first things I reach out for in my closet.

I have mostly good things to say about this make:

1. (pattern, fitting) It fits - this is all sorts of amazing - no swayback issue, no swayfront issue, enough room to move in; you'll note I made the corner-y version of the pattern, not the one that looks like a potato
2. (pattern) The pattern works well for my lifestyle - I get to wear a woven with jeans but not look too out of place at work. Bonus points that this version works well with my recent V1247.
3. (workmanship) I really took my time with this one, and it shows. Virtually every seam is topstitched, and the topstitching looks good.
4. (workmanship)  I could have done better with the facings: I didn't catch stitch the facing down to the fabric, and I should have - the floppy facing bothers me when I iron it after washing. Not a big thing, but really helps in terms of finishing.
5. (workmanship) I overcast the facing edges, which I ended up not liking - the fabric doesn't ravel as it is, and it has fusible interfacing too.
6. (fabric, cutting layout) I made this from a fabric remnant, which is why I had to use another fabric for the facing, and also cut part of the front slightly off grain (maybe 15 degrees?). This is not visible or noticeable, but I know that with wear the off grain side shifts a bit. I didn't have a choice and I knew it would happen: I'm lucky that it's not visible, but want to point it out as something where I got lucky.
7. (fabric) This fabric is of very good quality, and withstands washing amazingly well. It's also well suited for this pattern. I wish I could say fabric type&characteristics were a conscious choice when matching with the pattern, but they weren't - I got lucky.

Lessons learned: - it's worth spending some time at the end to make sure the inside is as nice as the outside
- not all raw edges need special treatment
- the right fabric makes a garment

Quality score: 8 (3 good - 2 neutral - 1 unavoidable - 1 lucky)
Conclusion: This pattern works very well for me, and I did a better job than average on workmanship this time around. Most of the quality minuses come from how I did things - I took enough time with the process that everything that bothers me right now can be fixed. 

Friday, 31 October 2014

Winter wear: V1247, maybe better this time?

I made another Vogue 1247 skirt. Hopefully this one will wear better than the last one.

Obligatory Auto Awesome
You see, I saw this on someone (I'm sorry, I have no idea who you were! but it was short and black and white checks or something!) at one of the London meetups I joined when I was still living there. I thought it was lovely, although as far as I remember the wearer was wearing it quite short.

This time, I lengthened the pattern quite a lot, and also added the waistband that came with the pattern sheet:


Now I have an office appropriate (for me!) winter skirt. I have been told after my last post that I am crazy and the length for the black skirt was perfectly appropriate :) heh

I used some checked wool I bought in Romania a couple of years back - it was going to be a dress, so I still have about a meter of this fabric left I think. I was thinking a 60s style square top maybe. I'll think about it some more.

I initially wanted this to be an easy project, but then I realized I was sewing with wool, and it was checked, so this really deserves some proper techniques, so I went all couture on this one, so it took a whole weekend + a bunch of extra sewing evenings.

I mostly followed the instructions in Susan Khaljie's Craftsy class - because in this situation the material matched well with the class.


I started off with underlining in silk organza, then cutting the pattern just right. I traced the stitching lines. I hand basted. I catch stitched allowances. I trimmed bulk and used a clapper dilligently.



This skirt has in total 4 visible seams (2xside, 1back, and a horizontal line where the pockets are). I am massively proud of how well I got the pattern to match. In fact, because I will wear it with even longer blouses than the one in these pictures, you usually won't even be able to see the non-matching bits.



I wasn't really able to fully match the waistband, but I did my best for it to match at the back and at the front. I used a lapped zipper (first time ever!) instead of the recommended invisible zipper because I thought the fabric was just too thick for a invisible zipper.



I also changed the waistband, for the same reason. In the original pattern, the waistband folds over itself, but I thought that wouldn't be great since the material was too heavy. Instead, I just cut the front, and a facing. 



I stitched the front to the skirt, then folded the 5/8" at the top. I then applied petersham ribbon. Sadly here I didn't have wide enough, so the waistband top is actually wavy in places because the ribbon only extends about 70% into the waistband width. I then hand stitched the facing using fell stitches:


I used silk habotai for the lining, the pattern for which came from the main skirt pieces. I mostly eyeballed where I had to cut (bad Laura!). 


I like the two-color effect. The white habotai is from London and not great quality. The brown one is the one I was raving about in my coat post - this is the rest from lining the coat sleeves, it just about fit. The lining is attached with fell stitches to the waistband and zipper:

I realized when I took the pictures how badly I matched the lining edges at the zipper. Sob.
For the hem, I used the same treatment that Susan Khaljie uses in the Craftsy class - skirt band turned up and secured to the underlining with catch stitches. Because the wool is heavy and I wanted a hefty hem allowance, I used two rows of catch stitches. 

For the lining, I left a bit  of room at the bottom and folded it as you would a coat lining - maybe about 1" turned up or so. Then, I used tiny fell stitches to attach it. This is good, because it gives me some extra ease in the lining for sitting down:


I'm very pleased (for now) with this result, and I wore it out once already. Hopefully it will last the winter!

I have a bunch of "Through Glass" videos from construction, I'll sift through them and post them online soon.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Wearability Report: Vogue 1247, A Not-So-Perfect Little Skirt

I'm looking at clothes I made after I got a chance to wear them a few times, and report on how it went. I'm calling this the wearability report, where I'm listing the good & bad workmanship, the pattern merits & faults, the fitting strengths & failures, and following up with a general wearability score for the garment on a 1 to 10 scale, and general thoughts on it, a few months after it was made.

Earlier this summer, I made this skirt, from Vogue 1247, blogged about here.


I loved the pattern, actually I still do and I currently have another version on my sewing table (this time for winter - it's in danger of turning up a bit squee as it stands, but we will see how it goes!).

A  few good things, and several issues:

1. (workmanship) All the seams align well, I'm mega proud of this.
2. (pattern) Pockets gape, especially when having a phone inside. To fix I just catch stitched them to the skirt front - which worked very well, and was an easy and unobtrusive fix. Should have been in the pattern instructions.
3. (pattern, fitting) It's really short, which makes it unusable for work. I wore it for a while at home, but the shortness makes it uncomfortable even there. I tried to wear it at my high hip for extra length but it's just too snug for that - the size I made is the right size if the skirt sits at the waist.
4. (workmanship) The back zipper - a normal zipper since I didn't have a black invisible one on hand - was quite shoddy and didn't look very straight. It basically ended up as an exposed zipper that had that frightful homemade look. Unfixable:


4. (workmanship) The crooked waistband, where I went off pattern and invented my thing. At least no one could see this one - I wrote about it in the original post.
5. (fabric quality, workmanship) I'm afraid I don't have a picture for this. The linen got really nasty after washing, with all topstitched seams bunching up. No amount of pressing helped. I think part of this was my underlining in silk organza and then throwing it in the wash.
6. (workmanship) The piping worked and looked nice, even though it limited the color options for the top.


Lessons learned: 
   1. spend more time sewing up the waistband correctly.
   2. underlining has a time and place; summer garments are not it

Quality score: 5  (2 good - 1 neutral - 3 bad, out of 6)
Conclusion: Pattern too short as designed, very very poor workmanship. Because of the fabric quality issues and my faults while sewing it up, I have relegated this to the wadder pile, and will be throwing it out soon.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Blog direction

Not a massive change, but I had some ideas about series to write and wanted to explain them before they magically appear on the blog.



First, the internet has been brewing with wadders lately. I really appreciate these posts, because let's admit it - who doesn't have wadders! But I feel that more interesting would be to know what happened to the good / almost there clothes later. Were they really good? Did you end up wearing them? Carolyn of Diary of a Sewing Fanatic does this sometimes, most recently here. I think I want to do this too, and the format I'm thinking of is in two acts:

Act 1 - Wearability Report. I'd write this 4 to 6 months after the make, or at the end of the season (of example, most my makes this summer would get one of these) - did it work, did it not work? Did I end up using it? How did it fare among my other stuff?

Act 2 - Whatever happened to... Report.  I'd write this about 1-2 years later. Are they still in the rotation? Did I wear the thing to death?

I think it's important to do this in two acts, especially because I tend to wear the things I really like a lot, so they deserve two updates (instead of just one). We'll see how it works.

Then, I just got a Google Glass from a friend. I got this with the express purpose of doing a series titled Sewing Through Glass (see here for my very first one!). I'm not quire sure how this will go, but I would like to just video the stuff I make step by step. I'm getting ready to sew Vogue 1381 for example, and that will be interesting to see. It's also going to be cool to see just how often you do mess up while making something. Then, if I do take all these little videos along the way, I can add a "making of" video when I write up the make at the end.

Since I want to make many small videos, I'm not sure I'll end up posting them on the main blog feed - I might just add a new RSS feed for the videos and make a weekly round up or something. It will be interesting to see how that turns out.

Thirdly, what I was considering for a while, but haven't given it much thought in a few weeks, was to do weekly or bi-weekly What I'm wearing posts. This would be more interesting to me than to any of you, but someone told me on a recent work offsite that I wear things I make quite a lot and I really liked hearing that! Then I wondered if it was really true. Now, actually doing this requires me taking a picture each morning before I go to work, which doesn't always happen, but I am considering setting up my camera in a semi-permanent position and programming one of the remotes to do auto-picture taking. It will also be an interesting effort in finding out wether tshirt + jeans really is the tech uniform! Actually maybe I should just call the series Tech Uniform :D

I'm leaving you with a picture of my current project - a winter version of Vogue 1247:



What do you think about my plans? Good? Bad? Let me know!

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Rain coat: construction

I have a bunch of pictures with details about my rain coat. This was my original construction plan. This is a very picture heavy post.


I'll start one by one. First, interfacing. The Robson coat pattern suggests less interfacing than I ended up using. I mostly used a very lightweight fusible interfacing (to match my very lightweight silk), but also silk organza.



I forget what the pattern asks for (I will edit this later), but I did the following:
* front facing - fusible
* front of jacket - lightweight organza
* everything floppy (lapels, epaulettes, back rain guard) - fusible
* collar / undercollar - fusible
* top of sleeve - fusible
* hems - a slightly stiffer lightweight organza

The pattern doesn't suggest interfacing the belt, and I didn't have enough interfacing left for it, but I think that would have been useful as well.

The top of sleeve and hem interfacing was an idea from Nordheim's Vintage Couture Tailoring. The top of sleeve is very simple - just cut a matching fusible piece and fuse.

The hems are using bias silk organza:


The process here is that you have wide strips of organza and you overlay them from seam to seam:


Then, you pad stitch them to the seam allowance:



Then they are turned up along the seam line.

I also sewed a lightweight chain inside the bottom hem, along the hemline. It helps with making it a bit of a round shape when I wear it closed.



I didn't bias-bind all seams, but I instead I used the hot pink for the pockets and lower hem. I then used a chocolate for the facing.


This way, there's less of a pink peek when you see the insides. The seams are flat felled and topstitched in pink:


Construction went together well, and I am pretty happy with it. It does need a good press often though.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Dixie Charm: the stealth shawl

With autumn and winter fast approaching, I wanted to get back into crochet. I even have a mini yarn stash, so I decided to choose from it. I had two choices: a dark silver silk/linen blend and an autumnal color cotton blend. I went with the dark silver since it had a pretty sheen to it that would work well with anything.

I wanted something easy, because my next project will be to tackle the mitts I got stuck with last winter. Hopefully now that I have a few more projects under my belt, I can tackle that again and be more successful than last time :)

Easy crochet project (Ravelry link), I thought something that requires no fitting would be good, so in order for it to be useful at work, I figured a shawl or a wrap would do. I wasn't quite sure I would like wearing one of these with normal clothes, but it didn't turn out too bad - see top picture!

Knowing I wanted a shawl or a wrap, I hit Ravelry looking for a crochet pattern that would take up to 600yards of sport weight yarn, and I found this lovely item called Dixie Charm, so I started with it. I bypassed gauge making and everything too (pattern instructions condone this!):


It's very cute at first :) The pattern is crocheted in a V shape, going around the outsize. It has a one row setup, 3 rows of lace work and two rows setting up the filled spaces. It went together pretty easily, although I did skip a bunch of double crochets (UK trebble) at the beginning. By the time I got to the 3rd pattern repeat I had the "go in 2s" thing sussed out, and the rest went smoothly.


I'm calling it a stealth shawl because of the form it had when blocking - a coworker suggested it, and I thought it was a good idea.

It seems I have 7 full repeats. Because I was running out of yarn, I didn't finish as the pattern suggests. Instead, I did a short repeat of Row 4, Row 5,  Row 8, Row 9 and then finished with a row of single crochet (UK double crochet) all around (including the bottom).

I thought it would be too short a good way through, but actually it didn't turn out small at all, it's perfect length and it covers my arms well. This will be useful for my Californian trips - the AC is always on there.


I find it is very pretty - I really like the lace work. No, this is not me sounding old at all!

I also didn't realize these things actually stay on your ams without you constantly adjusting them, so it works really well as office wear.

Here's a back picture.

A very successful project, no?

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Finished Bellini

I like to let the hype die down with pattern companies and patterns when they appear (too much hype on the interwebz in general!), but I kept going back to the Martini dress from Capital Chic Patterns.

I like the cropped view, so when I got that pattern I got the Bellini as well since I always like tops. I wear jeans to work most days after all! It also so happens that they have a sew along, so perfect timing?



The first thing I liked about this blouse happened right after I opened the zip file I received by e-mail. It's only 15 13 pages long! Anyone who tapes PDF patterns together will know this is a really nice achievement - only 13 pages is extremely good (the last two are just blank pages). In the end I printed only 12 pages since page 13 is the scalloped collar and I'm not a great fan of those - I do however, like scallops in general. The eating kind.

Sloper

I started by comparing the pattern pieces to my sloper:

They looked similar enough, although notice how the front shoulder seam is a good 2inches lower than my sloper's front shoulder. The rest looks OK. I wasn't sure about the shoulder seam, so I decided not to go with my Liberty fabric for this make.

Fabric

I used the same cotton fabric as for my blue afternoon blouse. Not sure what type of cotton it is, but something light - a voile perhaps. This fabric isn't great now  - actually I decided while sewing this up that it's pretty terrible, all things considered. As an aside, I bought this fabric at the same time as a lovely lovely other cotton which I ruined on an ill-fitting Laurel blouse. Talk about priorities.

Construction

Construction went together relatively easily. I had to revert to instructions for the collar. It was a new-to-me method because the blouse has facings, but the collar itself is finished cleanly with the raw seams to the inside, so you have to do some strategic clipping to get things to align. It was a bit fiddly, but easy enough overall. The drawings in the instructions for this stage were good, so probably achievable by an advanced beginner.

I steered away from the instructions after that, but from what I can tell from the sewalong I sewed it up in a similar manner.

The pattern calls for 5 buttons - I ended up using 4, as I never button up the collar. The only difference was that I sewed the buttons horizontally rather than vertically as the pattern instructions said. In hindsight, this was a mistake - I checked later and all my RTW shirts have vertical buttons, and there is a good reason for it: fabric pulls otherwise.




The facing felt a bit wide during construction, but then I wore it 3 times last week and I didn't think it was too wide so who knows. I finished it with hand overcasting. I did it just so it was there, but I don't think most fabrics (this cotton included) need a finish when they have fusible interfacing applied.





There is a simple row of topstitching on the collar and the fronts.

The instructions say to use bias binding for the sleeves. I'm not a fan of making bias binding, so I just used a faster method. What I did was cut 1" bias strips from the fabric (continuous bias method) and pressed in half:


Then I attached as you would a neckband: stitch band to right side of the fabric, raw edges together at 1/4". Trim seam allowance. Turn band to the inside and topstitch from the right side just inside the 1/4" line, so you catch it with the stitching. The results are similar to the use of bias binding, but I find this more straight-forward.

Fit

Let's start fit with the good parts -  no swayback necessary. This is all kinds of amazing, because I have a love-hate relationship with that adjustment. The back of the sloper predicted this would be the case.

However, after wearing it to work, I realized that the front fit is rather off. Here's a picture of the problem in a picture where I was sitting straight:



Not enough room around the bust, making the blouse ride up, which makes it show midriff and puts the collar in a weird place.

Given my sloper fit the pattern pieces, I wasn't sure what was wrong here. Now, some of this is due to the fabric, and some due to the unfortunate buttonhole direction. But overall I thought the measurement itself was off.

So I took out my measuring tape...  my back is 3/4" wider than when I made the sloper.  I also had a "shoulder measurement" taken at the gym - it's a standard one they use, and I last had it taken mid-July. They take it with arms by one's side, just underneath the shoulder joint. That measurement showed an increase as well, by roughly the same amount. My other measurements stayed the same, so this is a direct result of the gym.

So now I need a new sloper. 

I'll keep wearing this, because I like the blouse. But now that this version is done, I want to do better. I'm planning to cut a new version, one size up, which I think should do the trick since the problem is the back measurement rather than the front measurement.

I leave you with an Oktoberfest bier shot:



Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Hello Rain Coat

Oh my it feels like I worked on this for quite a while... I guess that's because I did, it took me almost 4 weeks to finish it - but then, I was away to Ireland for almost a full week, and then was so annoyed with it that I didn't pick it up for another 10 days.


This is Sewaholic's Robson Coat.  I had this crazy idea back in February that I should make a trench coat made of waterproof fabric, so went ahead and ordered the pattern. Then, I bought the fabric (waterproof silk) at MacCulloch & Wallis the same month, and also chose some super fine matching fusible interfacing. Then, I ordered blue buttons and blue seam binding. Then, I did nothing about any of this until late August, despite having the wettest summer since records began in Switzerland.

This allowed me time to understand that I will be making a rain coat rather than a trench coat because of the fabric - very flowy as it is silk twill. I was happy with that, and actually I wonder if this pattern works very well in a stiff fabric - the pictures on their website also show it with a bit of extra fabric. But then again, plenty of stiffer fabrics in the blog circles with this coat, so I might just be crazy :)

I also last minute ended up choosing pink over blue for the accents:


I wanted soooo much to sew this up for my Ireland trip in late August, but sadly I put in a sleeve the other way around and just ended up so upset over this whole thing that I left the thing be and didn't touch it again for two weeks. I had to cut the sleeve head away and piece together another one - see the horizontal seam in the arm below. I didn't have enough fabric to recut the whole sleeve, and didn't want to wait for more fabric to be shipped from the UK. I'm happy that episode is over.


I initially cut a size 8 at bodice and moved to 6 at hips, but didn't think I really needed to go through the trouble after sewing up a muslin, so the actual thing is size 8 all around.. I did shorten the pattern by something like 10cm - I'm 163cm (5'3") and it would have hit me somewhere at midi length had I left it as it was. The length as it is now hits just above my knees, which is ok for a rain coat, but if I were making a trench coat I would have had to cut another 10cm or so from it.



I shortened below the hip, ignoring shorten/lengthen lines, because I wanted to remove as much from the flare as possible, since I am not pear shaped so I was worried it would be too flared. Looking back, I should have removed about 3-4cm from the waist area rather than all going from the below-hip since the pockets are ever-so-slightly too low. Not stupidly low mind you, but low enough for me to notice.


Fit - I *think* this fits in the bust and shoulder area. I mean, it looks ok to me, and it feels OK, but would very much like someone who knows fitting better to tell me if I'm wrong. I'm no fitting expert and also have little interaction with real people on this stuff so would appreciate feedback I think the drafting was good - the sleeves in particular, these are things I am particularly afraid of, and they went in very easily.

I wore it in Strasbourg over the weekend, including to dinner. Dinner was actually a fully me-made outfit:


Looking at this pic, I was very vintage 20s-looking, although that was not the look I was going for. Good to know though. The skirt is V1357, the blouse is the Belacarra

This post is getting a bit long, so I think I'll do another one on insides. The pictures won't be as nice, as all the pics I took during construction were phone pics. To give a sneak preview, I interfaced a LOT more pieces than the pattern requires, and I also  interfaced hems with organza. I'll do a round up of that later.