Sunday, January 30, 2011

In the Queue

My sewing projects will not be limited to the Jacket a Month sew-along, although that will be the prime motivator during the next year of sewing (I hope). I have a few other things on the list of to-dos.

On that list is this dress
A Girl's 1780's Portrait Dress Pattern
which will be made for my grand-daughter Hannah for her First Communion. The girl in the photo bears a remarkable resemblance to Hannah, even to her smile.

This will probably be late May, but I plan on making the dress first in a printed cotton, and perhaps knee-length or a little longer to check on the fit. I have a gorgeous white eyelet in the stash that will be used for this dress, and the sash will be baby blue satin ribbon. I might even make a tie for her twin brother Jacob, nah, on second thought, I have never sewn for boys and don't plan on starting now. Girls' clothes are much more fun.

It is funny to think that today, my daughter Rebecca`s third child Miriam was christened in the gown I made for Hannah eight years ago. Of course, I had to make two gowns - Hannah and Jacob are twins - with embroidery on the bodice. How time flies! I recall doing that embroidery while sitting with a woman who was dying of cancer. The hours were quiet and peaceful as she lay sleeping and I stitched gowns for new babies. Life is bittersweet.

Hannah will be here for a visit in March, so I can check on the fit then, in the chaos that will come with 5 grandchildren under 8 visiting for a week. I must get in gear and have all the meals frozen in advance so that we can just go and have fun.

As well, I plan on following Robyn`s suggestion and make sure that all the jackets have things to wear with them, so that they don't become orphans in the closet. So, for the Chanel-ish jacket, I plan on making a baby blue top in either a knit or woven to wear with navy pants that also must be made. Otherwise that jacket will languish in the closet.

Clothes to go with the coat in progress won`t be a problem; a short black coat will always have plenty to go with it. In fact, I foresee this jacket being worn out in a year or two.

Didn`t get any time to sew over the weekend, but I hope to have a couple of hours tomorrow afternoon to get the black coat under the presser foot.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Progress Made

Today, I finished catch-stitching the hair canvas to the front opening edges, the hems and the under collar. I didn't put interfacing on the sleeve hems yet, as I want to check their length once I insert them into the jacket. I usually have to shorten sleeves even more than the 2" that I have already shortened them.

Close up of the front edge of the jacket, hair canvas has been set back so that it is not included in the seam allowance. Being a stiff interfacing, it is kept out of all the hems and seams, and is catch-stitched to the stitching line. Not being a perfectionist, I always eye-ball this, since years of sewing has made me know 5/8" seam allowance pretty well.

Now I can actually begin machine sewing and it should go fairly quick since this is an easy jacket to construct. No pad stitching or lapels to deal with, and not even any set-in sleeves to get pucker-free!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Butterick 5399

Cutting out Butterick 5399 - only a couple of pattern alterations that I can see. This jacket is quite short, it seems even shorter than the photo shows. I am a short woman and this jacket's finished back length is only 27" which just covers my derriere. Also the pattern does not allow for a hem on the jacket, the lining is stitched to the bottom edge at the usual seam allowance and turned. This would be fine in a lightweight fabric, such as a poplin, but I would worry that the lining would stretch and droop below the hem with any wear.

So I lengthened the pattern front and back by 2" and also allowed for a hem of 1 3/4". These are the only alterations I made; I cut size 18 as the finished bust circumference is 49 1/2", and I would like to be able to wear a sweater or jacket under this. It would be easy to take in if necessary, as the underarm and side seams are sewn continuously and can be checked during sewing to see if this is too big. But I would prefer a generous fit rather than a tight one, as in this winter weather, one wants the option of multiple layers.

I dug out my ancient Vogue Sewing book, a gift to me in 1982, to double check on using hair canvas. I had forgotten whether to sew it to the facing or to the coat, and whether to stitch it to the upper or under collar. Found both answers, trim the seam allowance away and cross stitch it to the outer layer of the coat, and to the undercollar, not the top collar as I would have thought. I will also cut it on the bias grain for the collar so that it will circle nicely around the neck. Will also stitch bias strips of hair canvas to the hem of the coat body and sleeves.

Next step - handstitching the hair canvas.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Jacket #1 Finished

Done! It took about 3 hours to hand sew all that trim onto the jacket, but yesterday was Sunday and my husband was watching two football games, so the time seemed good to sit around and do that. I decided not to put on the pockets, as I wouldn't use them anyway and I just want to be done with this jacket. Having started it in December, I'm a little tired of it.

Now, if only I looked as slim as that profile view. Hopefully the Weight Watcher plan will bring the desired results!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Jacket #2

They say women can change their minds as much as they like, so that will be my excuse. Having posted pics of the brocade and McCalls jackets in the previous post, now I am going with a different project altogether.

I will blame it on the weather. It is cold here, and my overcoat selection is poor. One down-filled coat for walking the dog and running errands, it really does keep me warm as toast. But it doesn't look so good with anything other than casual pants. And I have one knee-length black coat for any other occasion. I also have one very long grey tweed coat, but I feel overwhelmed in it, given its length and bulk. At 5'1" tall, I can't carry off that much fabric.

So I decided that the brocade jean jacket could wait a few weeks and I would make a winter coat. The pattern is Butterick 5399, the shorter version and the fabric is a squishy wool coating that I had in the stash. I even have the satin-backed lining to go with it. Plus raglan shoulder pads and hair canvas for interfacing and thread. The only thing missing is the buttons, which I always prefer to buy at the end once the garment is finished.

I prefer using hair canvas on wool coating. I have had some bad experiences with fusing interfacing to coating; it didn't stick well and it didn't add much stability to the fabric either. I have always figured that the time spent fusing interfacing has to be equal to the time spent cross-stitching hair canvas to the wool, and I prefer the results. I have made a few coats with hair canvas and have not been disappointed with it. More hand-sewing for tv time, I figure.

Butterick 5399 is a nice wardrobe pattern, although I will probably only make the jacket from it.

Here is the back view, I particularly like the raglan sleeves, so much more comfortable in a jacket/coat than set-in sleeves.

For now, I am hand-sewing the gimp to the Chanel jacket and am disciplining myself to finish that before starting the coat. Too many projects go unfinished around here, and that is kind of wasteful on my part. A new year, a new resolution.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Back from Texas

I got back from Texas late last night, and the inevitable laundry and clean-up has taken most of the day. I did pick up some patterns while in Texas, thinking they would be cheaper (not actually). They could be purchased online for less, if I had waited for the BMV sales.

I picked up Vogue 1100, a wardrobe pattern - because I love the neckline on the top and dress, and found the jacket very cute as well. Also picked up another wardrobe pattern, Butterick 5399, because I really liked the coat and have a winter wool here that would be perfect for that pattern. As well, I picked up McCalls 6076, the Perfect Shirt from Palmer/Pletsch and McCalls 5894 The Perfect Jean also from Palmer/Pletsch.

I also found some navy gimp for my Chanel jacket. Our local fabric store is sadly deficient in trims and the gimp is simple enough for this jacket, as I just want to pick up the colour, not make a big statement with the trim. This will be some nice handsewing to be done while watching a movie with my husband, something we usually do on Saturday nights. The trim is pinned to the jacket at the moment, that is why it is hanging down like that. This jacket will be Jacket #1 in the Jacket a Month sew-along on Stitchers' Guild.

Inspired by this jacket in a Chico catalog from last year, I found a brocade that was similar in colour and pattern from Fabrics in Vogue. The question in my mind is which pattern to use.

McCalls 5191 which I have made before and know how it fits,

or McCalls 5860 the new Jean Jacket from Pati Palmer. This jacket will be #2 in the Jacket sew-along.

Of course, I plan on making other things as well, but I must confess the idea of making a jacket, and then making some other things to go with it, really appeals to me. Thinking in terms of outfits, rather than in terms of an entire wardrobe.

Decisions, decisions .....

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year's Resolution

I seldom make resolutions because I know I forget them about a week after New Year's. But perhaps not this one.

I really dislike mess but, because I am a person with so many interests, my clutter tends to accumulate. Especially the sewing clutter. Yet, having an untidy sewing room is a deterrent to my sewing. I haven't admitted that before, but I know it to be true.

On the left is my Bernina 950, which is set into its own table. I bought this machine about ten years ago after attending a sewing show in Toronto. At first, I was intimidated by it, especially because it has a loud motor. But once I put away my other machine and was forced to use this one only, I grew to love it. The stitch quality is superb and I would find it very difficult to sacrifice the quality of an industrial stitch for a home machine now.
I have it positioned at right angles to the east-facing window. This machine will always be in this location as it is best for the light and because I also like to look out the window into the back garden, which in summer is quite pretty.

So my resolution is to de-clutter my sewing space. Since the kids have all moved out, there is plenty of room in the attic bedrooms now to put all the boxes of fabric, etc. rather than have them strewn around my sewing room. So when I return from Texas later this month, that is on the agenda.

This is what is immediately behind me as I sew on the Bernina. My Kenmore 3/4 thread serger and a small bookcase with the sewing books that I refer to most. Plus a CD player and my favourite music. I nearly always play music when sewing and at the moment, I am on a Nancy Griffith kick. I love music with words, actually poetry set to words is what I listen to most.

Rather than clean and sort stuff, which is what I always try to do, and which is why I quit - instead, I will simply remove the stuff that I am not currently working on and put it out of sight in the upstairs bedroom. And have around me only the projects that are on the current agenda. Which would be the 12 jackets written about in the previous post. I can hardly wait to get started on this de-cluttering. But it will have to wait until Jan 20, since I fly out tomorrow very early to spend two weeks with my daughter who is having a baby girl this week.

This is the ironing board, a wardrobe filled with clothes that I have made and are out-of-season. I have to admit there are a number of items in there that I haven't even worn. They will be culled when I do the clean-out later this month. On the far wall, is a Janome quilting machine that I bought at a sewing show a few years ago. I haven't used it much, as I just really feel at one with my Bernina, but the Janome does have nice button holes and also some built-in embroidery stitches that are pretty. And I use it for twin needle work, as the Bernina requires an attachment that I don't have to use two needles.

This is the remaining wall, where I have a shelving unit filled with various lengths of fabric, baskets of patterns and projects cut out, plus on the right is a four-drawer filing cabinet that is jam-packed with patterns. This pattern collection will be sorted and many will be discarded, as I must admit that some of these I will never attempt to sew. And many I am sure, I will rediscover and wonder why I put them away without getting them sewn up. One of my great faults is having too many ideas in mind, always jumping to the next project, and not finishing what I start. This does lead to frustration and gives one a sense of failure. I read that it is best to always finish a project, even if it is not working out, and give it away. There is something deadening about not finishing what one starts.

As seen in the photos above, this room needs some work. I can picture some nice plants by the window as well. This room used to be our kitchen when the house was divided into two flats, my mother living in the lower one and five of us living in the top two floors. We have always managed with small spaces, until we moved to this house and my mother died, at which point we took over the whole house and my controlled clutter kind of exploded. Time to prune away the unnecessary stuff that fills not only the physical space, but my mental space as well.