Saturday, October 24, 2015

Shirt sewing

I am sorely in need of tops to wear. I seem to have the same 5 or 6 in constant circulation and they are getting very tiresome.

So I got to work making some shirts.

The pattern is Vogue 2634, which is out of print.

This is a really nice pattern, a good basic shirt. I made view C with the 3/4 sleeves. All versions have a classic two piece shirt collar and band. I had very few alterations to make, just a 1/2" taken out of the armscye area and the sleeve cap. I shortened the body 1" but after making this first version, I will keep the original length.
The fabric is a lovely fine cotton/lycra shirting from in Canada. This is a small company based in Vancouver BC, offering quality dress fabrics, and wonderful service. In fact, I just saw a wool coating on that site that is so tempting. I am going to resist as I have this boiled wool coat in the making, but if I didn't, I would be jumping on this double-faced coating asap.
 I am going out of town for a couple of weeks, but if that coating is still there, I might just get some when I return. Beautiful coat fabrics are priceless in my opinion, and I am a real sucker for them.
The other shirt I have made is an older Jalie pattern, I think it is out of print as well.
I found the cotton fabric in my stash and cannot remember when or where I bought it. Just glad that I came across it while cleaning out a box and decided to give the Jalie pattern a try. Several members of our guild have made this shirt pattern and it looked good. I was pleased with my rendition of it.

Close up of the collar, which sits very nicely
You could use Jalie 3130 which is the latest shirt pattern from Jalie. It has a few more options than the pattern I used, but looks basically the same. Jalie patterns have all sizes from children to adults nested on the pattern, it is amazing to see how many sizes they get in there and you can also see how sizes grade up from one to another. It is rather fascinating. I was pleased with the fit of this shirt and will make it again.
Shirt making is very satisfying to me. I like the precise sewing involved and it is particularly gratifying to have the collar and band go on well with nice top-stitching to show it off.
Plus with shirts, you know that you can throw them in the wash time and time again, give them a quick press and they look great for a very long time.
I have a few more shirts planned for the fall/winter season, quickie projects to sew while working on the longer project - the coat!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Coat progress

I am really keen to get going on this coat, and today dawned with nothing in particular to do except to sew!
In the morning, I cut out all the pattern pieces, and then found some scrap fabric that would work for a muslin. It always surprises me how little time a muslin actually takes and it is so worth taking that time, in order to be sure of your fit before cutting into the good stuff.
My muslin showed that the shoulder line was too long on me, so I removed 5/8" from the end and blended that line back into the armscye. This will make the sleeve fit better, which seemed to have a little bit too much ease in it to work well.
I had already shortened the pattern in the upper chest area, and again just above the waist. And removed 2" from the sleeves; yes I have short arms.
I sewed the fronts and backs together, sewed on the under collar, sewed the facings over the collar and set in one sleeve. Up to the full length mirror with shoulder pads in hand. A couple of things were clear right away. I needed more room over the tummy and hip area, and the coat was too short.
So I added 3/8" to the seams of the center front/side front and center back/side back. The side seams were in the right place, which made me decide to add the extra at those inside seams, rather than at the sides. The overall length is easy to fix; simply cut the pattern pieces longer.
All of this was done by 2 pm, so I took the dog out for a walk; it is a gorgeous fall day here. And then back to the drawing board. Yes, there was time to cut the fabric and the lining. And whoa, what did I find in my stash?  The perfect shade of blue Kasha lining so I don't have to use the cream stuff I bought the other day.
Over night I remembered that I had a bolt of this blue Kasha from years ago, when I was teaching outerwear classes for MacPhee Workshops. Kasha lining is satin lining fused to thin flannelette, so you are basically underlining the coat when you use this stuff. It is much warmer than other linings and Canadian seamstresses are quite familiar with it, as our winters are so cold.

So here is the coat all laid out, you can see the lining at the top, that shiny blue stuff. Lovely firm lining that is perfect for this weight of wool coating.

And yesterday, I pulled some tailoring books out of my sewing library and I settled on these two reference books. The Singer Tailoring book is a dream, with lots of beautiful photos to show you just how things should look. The garments are dated, but the techniques haven't changed for what I want to do, so it will be my #1 reference. The Palmer/Pletsch book is an easy read, with some good fitting tips and some shortcuts that may just come in handy.
All of this is now packed up in a box, and the next step is to cut the hair canvas and sew that in by hand. I am looking forward to that peaceful hand stitching. And hair canvas has never disappointed me.
One year I taught a jacket class and one student decided to make herself a winter coat. This was over 20 years ago, and I had only ever used sew-in interfacings. So I recommended that she use hair canvas in her coat and I showed her how to put it in. She later told me that coat was her essential piece of clothing that winter, and she wore it for a long time. She thought the method of all that hand-stitching was a bit tedious to begin with, but she didn't regret it later when the coat continued to look good after months of wearing.
Buttonholes are a concern at this point. I could do bound buttonholes, but don't want to. I want hand-done keyhole buttonholes. But I know that mine are pathetic. Unless I get some practice in and get much better at them, I think I might just take this to a tailor here in town and pay him to make them once the coat is at that point. There are two tailors who could do this; one is Mr. Chung who makes suits for men, and another is a tailor who specializes in military apparel. Perhaps I will ask to see samples of their work before committing to them.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Project - a Coat!

I popped into our local fabric store the other day, with a firm resolve to just buy buttons for the shirt I finished, and a spool of white thread for some other shirts planned.

But wouldn't you know it, I passed by a table of boiled wool coatings, gorgeous stuff and I simply could not resist. My first choice would have been red, but there was only a burgundy colour which just seemed dull. However, there was a brilliant royal blue and, with only a brief second thought, I bought 3 metres of it, plus got the Kasha lining and thread and picked up this pattern as well. I have tons of coat patterns, and only went to the catalog to check the yardage but this seemed like a classic style that would work really well with boiled wool.

I stopped in again yesterday and bought hair canvas, as I plan on tailoring this the traditional way. A fabric like boiled wool deserves your best effort and my experience with heavier fusible interfacings leaves much to be desired. They probably would not adhere well to a nubby surface like boiled wool. So I will use hair canvas, pad stitching it lightly over the centre front piece and on the collar to make a nice curved fold over.

I am so looking forward to this project. Tomorrow I plan on cutting out all the pattern pieces and constructing a muslin. I am not going to take any chances with this one. It has set me back quite a bit money-wise (close to $200) so it is worth doing it really well. I am going to make view D, which is just above knee length and I think I will make the patch pockets, as one review said the inseam pockets are very small due to their position in the coat. I need good pockets in my coats.

It has been quite a while since I made a coat and jackets and coats are my favourite projects. I have been inspiring myself with Tany's blog, She has made many wonderful coats and has several tutorials on a variety of sewing techniques. I will be checking out her posts on hair canvas once I reach that point.

Burda 8292
royal blue boiled wool, 100% wool

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Sewing Knit Seams

A great post by Tasia on sewing knit seams to have the look of an overlock seam. For those of us without an overlock machine, this is a terrific option.

I might even be tempted to try leggings myself now.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Cleaning Out

For some time now, my sewing stash has bothered me. So much fabric accumulated without even trying. Fabrics that I couldn't resist while running my online business, and ends and more and more ends. The last couple of yards of a bolt that would only be sold at the price I paid for it, so it seemed that I should just use it myself.

Only it doesn't get used.

So I have been trying to clean out one box per week from the attic bedroom where there must be 20+ containers of fabric. Most of it is neatly folded and catalogued in binders, so that I can just flip through the binders and see what I have. But some never got put away and those are the boxes I am working on first.

To my delight, I discovered a gorgeous piece of shirting fabric, soft green with purple, and it is on the line to dry. I had even put it away with the Jalie shirt pattern, intending to use that pattern after I saw several versions made up by sewing guild members.

Cutting will be done today, I have trimmed my size out of the multi-size pattern. It is amazing how Jalie get all those sizes onto one sheet of paper, with twenty of more sizes nested in one outline.

And I did clear out one box, removing a pattern that was pinned to fabric I no longer like. The pattern has been saved though, and another one was tossed with the fabric put into a box for my granddaughter Hannah who has said she would like to make a quilt. I plan on bringing her a box of cotton scraps for practise, as she has not used a sewing machine before, and I found an old Singer at a yard sale that will be perfect for her. A machine from the 80's with all metal parts; I had it serviced last month and will bring it up to her next month when I go to visit. Another grandbaby is on the way!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

May/June sewing

The last month has seen quite a lot of things finished in my sewing room. Not terribly exciting stuff, but wearable and much-needed clothes for summer (if it ever gets here). 

The first Oakridge blouse could use a little tweaking. Since I have no hip curve, I don't need the shaping that this pattern has for the waist and hip area. In the second version, I eliminated that curve and cut the side seams straight. If I make another one, I will also make a petite adjustment in the armhole area, taking out 1/2" of length in the upper front and sleeve cap. This will have the effect of raising the neckline a bit, something that we shorter women need to do.
While we wouldn't be considered petite because we aren't tiny women, our height does cause problems and patterns are too long in all sorts of funny areas. I would always think of this if I was sewing for someone else, but when it comes to myself, I am just too anxious to get going on the sewing, and sometimes overlook small adjustments that make a big difference.

I think this is a great reason to sew a pattern at least twice. The first can be considered a wearable muslin and then you get it right the second time. Therefore best to save the fabric you really love for the second version.

These are two skirts from Kwik Sew 2788. The black one is a brushed cotton twill, the kind of fabric I love to live in. The beige one is made from a stretch twill that isn't soft like the black one. Not sure that I will like this one all that much, it is really stiff. Perhaps multiple washings will make it more wearable. 

I had a lot of cotton striped interlock and made one V-neck tee with black binding. Prior to that, I had spliced a pattern to colour block. Using the black on the shoulders area, and then carefully cutting the top of the sleeves so that they would all join together perfectly at the armscye. I was absolutely thrilled to see that it had worked and I got the proportion correct.

Both are Kwik Sew patterns, 2900 for the V-neck version and 2766 for the colour blocked tee.

I took the time to hand baste all seams on these tops, in order to get the stripes matching perfectly. So then how did I manage to cut the back of the second tee crooked and end up with an uneven hemline?  duh, how silly not to have counted the stripes as I lay the pattern out. Oh well, no one will notice it except for me, it only shows up at the back hem, I did manage to get the front hemline straight.

Another shot of the black/striped tee. I am really pleased with how this one turned out. 
Last night I attended our monthly sewing guild meeting. The June meeting is always a mini fashion show with members showing off their creations from the year. Rather than modeling the clothes, the members hang them up on display boards and then give a short summary of the patterns and fabrics they used. There are always some lovely garments to view.
One member Mary was wearing a gorgeous top from Vogue 8793 by Katherine Tilton. Another member had worn her version of this top at the May meeting and I am sure there will be a run on that pattern at the local fabric store.
Mary used a graphic print in lime green and yellow that had some black in it. She then made one collar (there are two in the red version above) in black and the second collar in the print. The added embellishment is a separated zipper sewn into the collar edge. Mary also made one sleeve in solid black and did the cuff in the print. Her top was smashing, as the British would say.
It certainly got me thinking of things to do with the various knits I have here. Another member had discovered the Natalie Chanin sewing world and, while on vacation in Hawaii, she had brought along some hand sewing to do. She made a skirt with some reverse applique on the hemline and then repeated the applique on her top, which she then embellished further with beading and sparkles.
For those who are intrigued by the Chanin sewn garments, but feel that a garment with allover applique is too much, this would be a good option.
Several members showed items they had sewn by hand and both talked about the enjoyment of hand sewing. There seems to be a reverting to the past in order to combat the fast pace of modern life. For those of us who find our relaxation in sewing, hand sewing provides even more of that contentment. Perhaps there will be more hand sewn appliques and beading coming in future garments of guild members. There certainly was a positive response to these items last night.
Here is a link to the guild's website.
I am sure that some photos of these garments shown last night will be up there sometime this week. Our webmaster is a very talented fellow Minh, who is a self-taught sewist. He drafts his own garments and always has something new to wear to the meetings. He does a great job with the website and brings great vitality to the guild.


Friday, May 8, 2015

Double Duty

Years ago, I read that you have to make a garment three times to work out the fitting issues. Some people are lucky and their patterns fit fairly well with little or no alterations. That used to be me when I first began sewing seriously in my early 20's. It was great to cut into a piece of fabric, sew it up, try it on for hemming and wear the new outfit the next day.

But time takes its toll and some of us pick up fitting problems with each decade. The bust-waist-proportion of the pattern doesn't resemble us even closely, so many alterations are in order. And one alteration affects another area, so there can be a multiple of alterations that are required.

With that in mind, I have been sewing a couple of patterns multiple times in the past few weeks.

First up is the Oakridge Blouse from Sewaholic Patterns. I really liked this pattern when Tasia first announced it and bought it right away. Then purchased three lengths of cotton shirting from Blackbird Fabrics. I was trying to be economical and skimped on the fabric, buying 1.5 metres of each, thinking that the 60" width would accommodate the pattern. Almost, but I had to cut short sleeves which is okay because we are actually getting warm weather now and short sleeves will be perfect for the next 4-5 months.

Making a pattern up more than once and doing it right away, rather than starting another project and then returning to the first pattern, really makes you concentrate on what changes you need to make to improve the fit. I worked out a number of small issues in the first version and then promptly made a second Oakridge with some fine cotton lawn from the stash.

Pictures will be coming in the next post. I don't have any just yet.

Then I decided that I needed a new spring skirt. There is no need to shop in my world, as I have hundreds of patterns, most of which haven't even been taken out of the envelopes. Out came Kwik Sew 2788, an out-of-print pattern, just the style of skirt I was looking for.

I had some black brushed cotton twill with lycra in just the right length to cut view B. A few adjustments were necessary after the first try-on, but I got it fitting the way I want and have just cut out a second version in beige cotton twill, my favourite summer fabric.
This pattern is a gem. I used to wear skirts mid-calf but that seems to be out of fashion these days. And I am not going to go the maxi route, I am way too short to carry that off. So knee-length it is for this summer, despite the varicose veins that have popped up. When did that happen? 
This pattern has a contour waistband, definitely the most comfortable waistband other than an elastic one. I don't know why I put up with straight waistbands for so many years. Once I discovered contour bands, I was a convert. They sit just below the waist and sit on the hips, without riding either up or down. I think their great fit is because they mimic the body shape, what a novel idea!
These white legs need some sun really quick in order not to look so sickly.
I feel quite satisfied with myself for using up three pieces of fabric from the stash. I didn't even need to buy thread or zippers as I had those in the stash as well. Although I am getting low on good interfacing and that may have to be ordered online. The local fabric store doesn't carry the quality of interfacing that I got used to when I ran my fabric business. Actually I used silk organza in the waistband of the Kwik Sew skirt as I didn't have anything else suitable to interface the band.
Lots of things lined up to sew for summer. Spring and summer sewing is my favourite as I get to sew the fabrics I love most, linens and linen-cotton blends. And there are lots of those in the stash, plus many gorgeous new ones at the fabric store.