Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Burda Shawl Coat

I made a new coat! This is Burda 11/2014, models 110 and 111 (the length is somewhere in between the two models, I think I increased the shorter version by 5 inches).

This was a much easier coat to make than my previous one, but it still took aaages to finish. I tried to be careful with everything, and followed instructions in my Singer sewing book closely.

The fabric is a plum wool, I think it might be a boiled wool, but I'm not sure - the yardage came from a store in Bucharest, which is better than most stores in Bucharest at labeling things, but still doesn't really distinguish between the different types of wool.

Truth be told, I wanted something a bit more pink (like the original Burda pictures), but I couldn't find anything suitable, so it had to be either plum or some typical dark winter color (the horror!)

I cut a straight 38, which for Burda coats fits me very well - my previous coat was a 38 too. I didn't need to make a muslin because last May, when I was studying tailoring with Beth, I got to try on her version of the coat, so I knew how it would fit.

The shawl is gigantic - in a nice way! I decided to use 3 big snaps as closures - 2 at waist level and one a bit lower down in the front. There's an additional snap (the black one) for extra warmth, so I can close the collar a bit more.

I covered the male part of the snaps in the fashion fabric, but had to leave the other side uncovered, because otherwise they wouldn't close. Since my lining didn't match the outer fabric color-wise, this was all I could do - does anyone have a better alternative?

 I also added pockets, and I used the Robson coat pocket pieces - the Burda version doesn't include pockets at all, which I find quite strange for Burda.

The pattern also includes a self-fabric belt but I'm not sure I want to create one anymore. I was going to do it (I have enough fabric left over), but now that I've been wearing the coat, I'm rethinking that plan. In theory it sounds good, but in practice the snaps are good enough.

Fabric wise, it is pretty warm, but I think it is a strictly positive Celsius temperature coat. Since I have a couple of coats that work well in negative temps, I decided not to interline, so this will be kept for those 0 through 10 degrees Celsius days only.

I lined the coat with two fabrics. The main body is lined with a cotton of some kind, it's got a shiny side and a matte/fuzzy side and I used the latter on the outside. The sleeves are lined in leftover crepe de chine from my Bellini blouse.

I interfaced the whole front + facing + both sides of the shawl with Fashion Sewing Supply's Medium Weft fusible interfacing. It's a good one, and it was the right choice for this material.  I also closely followed the instructions in the book and pretty much graded all seams, catch stitched everywhere and just generally put a lot of work into keeping the insides stable.

That's about it - what do you think? I'm really quite happy with it.

Friday, 20 November 2015

I made a coat!

I know I haven't posted for about 4 months now - I have loads of posts in drafts, just never quite ended up clicking publish - but I guess I'm coming back with a bang.

Cue coat.

This coat took about 6 weeks to make, although I originally started planning for it sometime in March. I also took tailoring classes to figure things out, and then I prepared all summer. The pictures I have of this are a bit hit and miss, but I have some good angles all around, so I think that will be good enough.

The fabric is this metallic silk brocade, and I have enough of it for another coat and a dress I think. I might have gone a bit overboard on that one. The pattern is Burda  08/2012 #101A, and it was pretty easy to work with. I deliberately wanted an oversized coat (it's almost cocoon-looking on me when closed), which is more of a fashion accessory than anything else. I think what I came up with pretty much fits the bill.

Construction went easily, except I am kicking myself over messing up the collar. If you click through the pattern link above you'll see this coat actually has a proper collar and lapels - which I even practiced making with Beth. While making the real thing though, I completely missed the fact that there was ANOTHER WHOLE SECTION of the seam to stitch and ended up with this:

It's not so bad in the sense that as far as I can tell no one realizes it's not what it should be, but I'm fairly annoyed about this. I guess I'm lucky because it is such an out-of-this-world item, that everything goes. And now I'm also pretty fired up to make something (coat? blazer?) with the same style of collar to prove to myself that I can, in fact, get this done.

Either way, moving on. I was super careful with the placement, as I didn't want it to be very over the top. Here's a front picture:

The two front sides close with snaps, and there are two flowers which seem to leave from the closure. I initially wanted to do bound buttonholes, but I thought it would be a shame to break up the symmetry, and I wasn't really ready to match the actual lines there (I don't even know if this is possible).

I also placed a big full rose on the top of the back, while leaving the rest relatively plain:

You can almost see it when I move, which I think works well. I have one picture on the tailoring dummy:

I think this shows better what I did with regards to placement. I wanted to have a lot of the flowers in the bottom part, and I think this worked relatively well. I lined it with silk charmeuse (lining is gold!), which I sewed in by hand. I covered the big snaps with fabric too, so they're less obvious. Finally, this coat has a lot of tailoring inside - now I know so much more about this than when I started!

What do you think? Despite my big mess up, how did it turn out?

Monday, 10 August 2015

Another Sheath Dress

I'm now on my third sheath dress that's finished, but the one in this post is the very first one I made! Presented here with gorgeous Vienna backdrop, and unfortunately with no back picture since, well - sightseeing!

This is a sheath dress I made from my now TnT pattern that Beth helped me fit (thank you Beth!). It was the very first version I made after the fitting, and it was intended as a wearable muslin more than anything else. However, having worn both this version, and the more fitted one I already posted about, I think this one is the clear winner, since it looks good and it's way more comfortable.  In fact, while I was on holiday last week, I altered that dress to be more like this one - I released the shoulder seam which I had previously raised.

Like all sheath dresses, this one is pretty simple as well - it is made in a cotton poplin I bought at John Lewis before I moved to Switzerland, so it's been in my stash for about 2 years. Being made in poplin, I simply used my pinking shears on the seams since poplin barely frays. I finished the neckline and armholes with a all-in-one facing, and added piping to the neckline only. For the hem, I turned and topstitched.

The only problem with this dress is the fact that I stretched the back neckline while sewing, as seen in this picture. Actually, looking at this picture, I see that also I could change the curve of the armhole. I'll check to see how the other two dresses made from this pattern look, but I don't remember this being the case on the blue/brown dress. Maybe I altered the pattern for that between making this one and that one?

The great thing about this pattern is that you can make it in 1m of 1.50m wide fabric. For this kind of dress you want something that does not have a lot of drape, and this poplin toes the line when it comes to that: it looks pretty good, but I wouldn't make this style in anything less drapey. It is very comfortable to wear, and I find that I can whip out one of these fairly quickly - the latest one I made took about 7 hours and I needed to change the pattern pieces as well.

What do you think? Is this the right path? I'm quite happy with the fit for this one, so after having worn both this one and the blue/brown one I reverted to the pattern I used for this version.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Vogue 1350: fitting and adjustments

I had another post prepared, but I thought I'd write this up now, even without pictures - before I forget what I did. :) I recently made Vogue 1350, if you follow me on instagram (@auxetically) you will have seen construction photos. This is a Rachel Comey pattern - I really like these patterns, they all turn out very well for me! Here is the line drawing for reference:

Despite the line drawing, this pattern is supposed to have a raised waist. I was very pleasantly surprised to see petite lines on the pattern sheet (yay). Here's my finished dress on the dress form:

I made a muslin of the bodice only, in size 14 - my measurements take me between 14 and 16 on a Vogue, but I had the pattern version with the 12-14, so 14 it was. Measurement wise, this dress was spot on - I had to make extra adjustments where I would have needed the bigger pattern size.

The petite line removed 1" out of the bodice, and 1" out of the skirt. I sewed the bodice muslin with the petite marking and the result was more of an empire waist than a raised waist, so I decided that wouldn't work for me. For the skirt, I shortened it at the petite line, and I took out another 2 inches based on eyeballing the pattern tissue on myself. I then also hemmed a VERY DEEP hem of maybe 3 to 3.5 inches to get the dress to look like the model:

I'm not exactly sure who could use the petite markings as they are and get to that result, but I certainly can't :)

Full list of alterations:
 - normal bodice length / petite skirt length
 - took a wedge of 1/2" out of the front neckline
 - stitched the bodice back seam at 3/8" for 4 inches
 - removed one of the front bodice darts
 - removed the front skirt dart
 - stitched the skirt back seam at 3/8" (added 1/2")
 - let out the front / side skirt seamline at hip level for about 6 inches - stitched at about 3/8" so in total I added maybe 1 inch at hipline in front)
 - 1" swayback
 - shortened skirt by 2" additional inches
 - took a 3-3.5" hem

For the future:
- I should take about 1/4" out of the back neckline as well

Looks like a long list, but I really love this pattern! The skirt construction is super interesting, with the side seam ending up being a dart! The two darts on the bodice correspond to a dart on the front skirt and the seamline front/back. This seamline is also curved, so if you were to color block the skirt you'd end up with a very interesting effect.

I'll write up the construction in my next post!

Friday, 17 July 2015

Notches and stay stitching

I made a quick remark in my previous post  about stuff I learnt from Beth when I was studying with her in May. It seems I have always done stay stitching incorrectly. Being self taught from the internet and from patterns, this is not unexpected. :) Regardless, today's post is about matching notches and using stay stitching as a guide to matching seam lines.

The long and short of it is:
a. stay stitch the seam line unless otherwise directed
b. when putting together two pieces of fabric the correct order is: match notches, match beginning and ending of seams, match in between, clipping the seam allowance if required. Clipping is particularly important if matching curves that do not look the same

Here are some pictures as an example. Here I am using the bodice of Vogue 1350, which I am currently making finished making since writing this. I start off with stay stitching everything:

This was a muslin, so I did the stitching again in that corner without removing the wrong lines.

Match notches, then the end of the seam. You can see here that one of the pattern pieces has a bit more ease. This is FINE! That ease is present between the notch and the seam end, so it SHOULD NOT be distributed anywhere else, since that's where it's needed.

Pin the seam, and clip so the piece that seems "shorter" matches the piece that seems "longer". Note - they're not actually different, the seam lines are the same length. If you do the clipping, then you won't be stretching the fabric.

Stitch (not over pins). In this picture you can see how the clipped fabric actually behaves.

That's pretty much it! It was a really good thing for me to learn just in time for making V1350 as well, since this dress has 4 (yes FOUR) of these really tricky corners.

And here is a sneak peek of the dress itself:

Friday, 26 June 2015

Sheath dresses, everywhere

I'm taking a break from my planned sewing to sew shift cotton dresses. Yes, you heard me. I took some sewing lessons with Beth from Sunny Gal Studio last time I was in California (already 6 weeks ago !). We spent almost all the time covering tailoring for a coat I'll be making throughout the summer - nope, still haven't started on it, 6 weeks later - but we also looked at sheath dresses, very quickly before we were done..

I left the lessons with an initial muslin, which had a bunch of things altered, and promised I'd transfer everything and try again on my own. Which I did, although it's much harder to perfect fit on your own.

This is the second version of the dress, and fitting wise it's getting closer. The first version hasn't been photographed yet.

The front looks decent, or almost decent.

There's still some gaping in the neckline, I have to take out maybe 6/8" out of it. I also want to move the shoulders in a bit. But otherwise it's fine.

The back however, is not so fine, and you can see it in this side picture.

There's still a LOT of extra height in the back, and that's after I already took out 1" with Beth and a further 1.5" on my own. Somehow it keeps coming back... I think what I'm doing is right, but in any case, it's strange there's so much extra. You can also see it in the pure back photos, despite the super busy print:

All right, now leaving aside short back length issues, may I say how much I LOVE this fabric. It's pure cotton that my mother brought back from Thailand. It came in a tube (ends sewed together), and I'm told that that's the typical sarong fabric. It's very very pretty, and you can see how I used the print in the front. I was very careful with cutting.

For this dress, I used an all-in-one facing which I drafted myself. Let me tell you - lessons with Beth are great! I learnt so much, and I certainly have a better handle on sewing together different types of curves. I mean most of what I learnt I'll apply when I make the coat, but even now, I can tell I'm sewing better.

For the hem, I wanted to keep the border print, but since this isn't a drindl I had to turn in part of the hem. There's still enough left of the border, and it more or less matches so that's pretty good.

What do you think? I think I'm getting closer with this pattern, but I still need to tinker with it a bit. I'm in the process of ordering tracing paper so I can play with it a bit more.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Vogue 1440

It seems I have not posted anything in 2 months! I did a bunch of sewing in the meanwhile, including sewing classes (yay).

I wanted to follow up on the Vogue 1440 blouse, and I think I have plenty of pictures so I might do a 2-part post. I'll do finished pictures here.

First off, a picture from the front. It is fitted through the bust, with a hidden button placket (4 buttons) and a full collar.

The fun part comes in the back:

The V at the racer back looks awesome, but it needs some faffing around with the bra, normal stuff does not work, you need one that crosses, or a strapless, or something to not show the straps. I wear it with a long sleeved body underneath, this is maybe not the best way to do this though. I'm still considering options.

The fabric is an Oscar de la Renta silk twill from Mood. It was all right to work with, and Mood's description of this fabric is accurate - the drape is more like a crepe de chine, which is why it worked for this blouse:

I managed to squeeze the blouse out of 1.5 yards (with barely nothing left). I think I cut one thing slightly off grain to do it, but I don't remember what that one thing was. The pattern asks for 2 3/4 yards in 45" fabric, so that's more than a yard less - that's great.

As mentioned in my previous post, I altered the shoulder area substantially, but otherwise didn't do much. I love the racer back, it's very unexpected - especially if you have long hair like I do. Usually the long hair covers it, and you can just see a peek from time to time.

Sadly I didn't do my best with sewing the bands on, you can see some rippling there. The blouse is fitted through the bust, and then flares out in a trapeze-like way to the hips ("tent-like" as Mr T keeps saying). The back seam ends in a little split, although it's quite small and not very visible - I don't even have a picture of it.

I don't have much else to say about this - it's a nice pattern, true to size, but I won't be making the blouse from 1440 again, since I don't need more than one of these in my life. It was a good experience while fitting though.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Vogue 1440 - muslin / marking

I got Vogue 1440 (a Donna Karan design) for the blouse.

Last weekend I set out to do a muslin. You may remember I had some questions about the lack of an FBA on my previous project - I figured it out in the meanwhile.

Vogue must have updated the pages that handle sizing on their website recently, since now they are a lot more detailed. In particular, the How to Choose Pattern Size page now specifically says always choose blouse patterns based on high bust, and adjust pattern as necessary, unless you are a B-cup or below. B-cup, by their standards, happens when the delta between high bust and bust is less than 2inches.

For me, either choice will do - but in practice choosing based on high bust seems like a better overall fit for me so far.

This particular blouse is semi-fitted through bust, giving you 4 to 5 inches of ease (5 in this case). Based on the picture above, I think this just about works without an FBA - the grain line is not perfectly straight, however when I cut it up, all I needed extra was about half an inch, which I will get from the seam allowance. Since I am making this in a very drapey silk twill, I expect that will also help.

This also means that for Vogue patterns that are fitted or very fitted through bust, I will need to make an FBA. I also expect this to be true of any semi-fitted patterns I make in stiffer fabric - like a cotton.

Other than that, you can see some pull lines on this muslin. Here's another view:

I think the reason for this is the forward shoulder - no picture of the actual shoulder, but I moved it about 4/8" forward at the side seam - this was alteration #1, and I know I need this one on most blouses so it wasn't a surprise. The other shoulder adjustment - narrow shoulders - isn't needed in this case since the shoulders on this blouse are much narrower than a usual blouse.

Then, the next thing I looked at was the underarm, which is waaaay too low:

 You can see in the picture that even if you count the 5/8" seam allowance, that's still too low. I ended up raising this by 1", I'm hoping I won't regret that I didn't raise it further. This is alteration #2.

Finally, change #3 was taking out a 2/8" dead dart on the back pieces, at the upper back - the muslin was gaping there, and there would be no sleeve to pull it in.

This is pretty much it in terms of changes to the pattern. I managed to cut everything out of 1.5m of 44" width fabric - barely. I would have cut the armhole bands and the back band from a black silk - if I had any on hand, but I didn't. Although, come to think about it, given it's no longer Sunday, maybe going to buy some wouldn't be a bad idea. Still a few days to go until I need them so I can take my time to decide.

I leave you with a picture of the cutting and tracing process. I'm finally done with it, but it took a long time - about 1.5 hours today just to do one of the two fronts.

What do you think ? Any other changes I should have made to this one? Let me know!

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Rebecca Taylor in flowery crepe

I'm starting to be at a loss about what to call these posts you know... after hinting at this shirt for the last two posts, here it finally is.

Pretty windy the day we took pictures!

Later edit: oy, I was just looking at these pics and it seems I was wearing the blouse inside out when I took pictures since the shoulder seam is really a French seam? Oh well. S&%t happens.

I am btw massively happy with my new sewing resolution of taking things slowly. I could have rushed to finish this before a work trip last month but instead I decided to wait and do it properly when I was back, which in the end paid off. Of course, the point of failure of all resolutions (all my resolutions at least) is sustained performance, so we will see how I fare at this over the next few months, right?

But back on track, let's talk about the sewing! This is Vogue 1387, a Rebecca Taylor pattern which features two blouses:

This pattern really is a 2-in-1: there are no common pattern pieces between version A and version B. I made version B.

This is a straight size 12 - the only alteration was shortening the sleeves by an amount which I forget now, but either way I shortened them an inch too much. Hey, you live and you learn - I'm quite keen on wearing this with sleeves rolled up but my OH insists that they are fine as is. Time will tell - what do you think?

I initially made a size 14 muslin, as per pattern measurements, but that was just overall too big. I think size 12 mostly fits well, and the only thing I would change, except for my over enthusiastic sleeve shortening abilities, is narrow the shoulders - maybe something like 1/4 would be enough.

Fabric choice - silk crepe de chine as per pattern recommendation - prooved to be good as well.  I got the fabric in Britex (4th floor), but Mood also carries it for less - do what you will with that info, I'm pretty sure the one at Mood is the same fabric. I like it, and it certainly has a swish factor!

The good news is that in this style I do not need an FBA - this blouse is "loose fitting through bust". If you've read my blog for a while, you'll know I struggle with fit for tops, and the FBA is a question about most tops I make. Well, not this one - it is fine, hurray. I'm trying to understand what this means in the greater picture but for now that's good enough.

I followed instructions as written, except for finishing seams: I'm not sure what Vogue pattern writers were thinking when they suggested crepe fabric and double stitched seams on this one, but crepe de chine frays quite a lot and I don't think that suggestion was a reasonable one. I used French seams throughout instead (including sleeves). I suppose whatever fabric the original sample was made in did not fray, so double seams were reasonable? Still, I would not try that on crepe, and an quite disappointed in the instructions in this regard. They should know better, no?

I also found the instructions for the front placket a bit iffy, and that indeed is the only thing I'm unhappy with - although despite the picture below, the front actually looks even.

Sleeve placket instructions were fine and I followed them to good results - first time ever doing a sleeve placket \o/. Narrow hem as per usual Vogue instructions, with a normal machine foot- I get good results with this method so I'm sold on it. The front and back hems are finished separately before the side seams are sewn.

I used silk organza for interfacing, and it worked fine, but now I bought a bunch of suitable weight interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply so I'll try that next time.

Will I make this again? Well, this type of blouse is right up my alley, so I might make it again.

What do you think about this one? Anything I can do to improve fit?

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Sewing plans!

I did a bit of sightseeing last week, and sightseeing is a lot like sewing... much me-time to plan and ponder and think about life, the universe and everything. Brings things into focus, but also allows for more frivolous pursuit, such as thinking about, and planning for, sewing... lots and lots of sewing.

Before any sewing plans... Check out my handmade wardrobe! The trenchcoat has been great, and my latest Belacarra as well.

I was recently traveling for work, and some fabrics made it back to Switzerland. They're mostly from Mood, and most of them are intended for very specific purposes, with some wild cards.

I'll start with summer sewing, where I have three clear projects, at least one of which I hope to tackle in the following month.

First up, I have great plans for this silk-cotton rose embroidered fabric, to make it into another V1357.

Despite not underlining and managing to stretch out the waist for my previous, winter, version, I am very happy with the waist width increase and want to tinker a bit more. I really want to make a muslin to check fit, since I did some basting / pinning with the last version to remove some pooling at the back, but looking at photos, I could do better.

Second, I got myself this Vogue 1440 pattern, and unlike the rest of the interwebs, I got it for the shirt. Yes, you read that right!

I quite dig Vogue designer blouse patterns and that racer back looks like a winner. I have this silk twill earmarked for it, and the envelope lists "crepe de chine" which has a similar drape.

Come to think of it, I have 1.6m of a nice wool suiting that would work for the jacket... maybe I'll put that on my cold weather sewing list since I wore jackets a lot to work this winter.

Third, I have Vogue 1381, a Ralph Rucci pattern that looks great and I've been planning for since last October.

I have a loose weave off-white linen for it, and I'm planning to use the blue top stitching thread that I didn't use for the trenchcoat. I also want to embroider the skirt in blue. I haven't decided what to embroider with, but I certainly want something abstract. I'm currently gathering ideas on this Pinterest board. Suggestions welcome!

In fact, I am hoping I will be able to start with this dress first, since I have another work trip coming up in May and a 12 hour flight is perfect for embroidering. We'll see how it goes, I expect fitting to be hard on this one judging by the pictures on the Vogue website and the fact that it is not a very popular dress. I'm prepared to give up if it doesn't work.

Finally, a bit of autumn sewing planning. I saw this amazing fabric used in a post on the mood sewing network by Sew Busy Lizzie, and I knew it had to become an  autumn coat. I guess the MSN does work after all!

Since it's a high contender for "most special fabric I ever bought", I want to do it justice. The trenchcoat above is great, but I made plenty of mistakes that I'm not happy with, so this time I must do better.

I'm currently working on picking a pattern for it, but I'll make sure to document everything. I'm planning to get this done slowly - target for finishing it is September.

So there you go, these are my immediate sewing plans. My last plans post was 2 months ago, and I finished 3 items out of the 8 I listed - I only posted about two so far, but I have pictures taken for the blouse too - I just need to go write!

You'll notice fewer dresses than in the past - I guess I'm not a dress person as much as a separates person, and these plans reflect that. They also reflect my desire to understand and achieve better fit. I love that I'm moving more into sewing with great fabric, this is one of the great advantages of sewing for yourself.

What do you think? Do you have any spring/summer sewing plans? Any ideas for abstract embroidery I could use?