Sunday, February 20, 2011

Burda blouse complete

Finally got around to finishing this blouse. Where does the time go?
In completing it, I can say that I do like this style, but am not sure it is wise for me to wear it! too short, just too short. But it will be a comfortable house blouse, and in a brighter pattern, with some piping like the original, I would make this again. In another Burda magazine, I found a very similar design without the front tucks and perhaps that would be the one to make a second time. I think this is a tuxedo styling, if I am not mistaken.
The blotch on the lower right front is water from the iron, which makes me admit it is time to replace this iron with a better quality one.

I did not expect to find the back of much interest. But I have to say I find these tucks really pretty.
The pattern was drafted well, everything fit beautifully together. I will have to trace off more Burda patterns for future garments, they seldom disappoint.
This blouse/shirt could be called a "poet shirt", something you wear when you are being creative. Perhaps I should take up painting or perhaps write a novel and wear it during that time!

And now on to Jacket #3 - the Palmer Pletsch jean jacket in a paisley brocade. Looking forward to this garment.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Front Complete

When I open this page and see this photo, my first thought is that it is someone's underwear! not so attractive.

Front bands stitched, pressed and edge-stitched onto front inserts.

Well I figured out what the Burda instructions meant. I guess it took actually having the pattern pieces in hand and following the directions exactly to "get it". This entire front yoke is top-stitched onto the front pieces, rather than being stitched in a curved seam. This allows you to construct the front bands and top-stitch them onto the front inserts, and make that funny loop at the bottom of the band before the entire piece is then plunked on top of the blouse front and edge-stitched in place.

This works well; my only complaint is that the raw edges inside now are raw; I should have serged them single layer before beginning the whole process; now they are sewn through at the center front, so that you cannot serge the seam allowances without stopping short of the middle and beginning again on the other side. So, I took out my old pinking shears (I don't think I have used them in over a decade) and simply pinked the edges. If I make this blouse again, I will finish the raw edges at the start and solve this problem.

Front bands laid on top of each other and pinned in place, ready to put onto the blouse front.

Blouse front pinned onto my dressform. This fabric is too light for this design, from what I can see at this point, and I am thinking this looks like a maternity blouse rather than a cute tunic top. We shall see as it progresses; it may end up on someone else. Actually this might work better as a dress than a blouse, if it were longer.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Burda Blouse

I'm not quite ready to start Jacket number 3, and want to sew some nice cotton fabric, easy to press, but with a little challenge. This blouse in Burda Jan 2010 caught my eye. I used to have a blouse very similar to this thirty years ago! and loved the comfort of it.

But I have a love-hate relationship with the Burda magazine. Even though I have subscribed for years, I have not often made anything from these patterns. It is that darn tracing issue. But yesterday, while the potatoes were baking, I thought just do it, and found it only took half an hour to trace off this pattern.

I read over the instructions several times; they are sparse as Burda followers know, even less directions than the patterns from the store. And this blouse has a button tab that extends below the seam that joins the front to the front insert. I could not make any sense of the directions, so I may just alter these tabs to be included in the seam and thereby avoid the weird stuff that seems to be going on. We shall see; I plan on starting this today.

My fabric is a lilac cotton shirting from the stash; if this turns out well, I will invest in something nicer and brighter to make another version. If anyone has seen a nice paisley cotton like the one in the photo, please let me know.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Review of Connie Crawford's Tee

I have numerous t-shirt patterns, but can't resist a new one when I see it. And so I bought Butterick 5215, a pattern that gives three different fits on a classic scoop neck tee. I chose View B, the semi-fitted tee and compared my bust measurement to the pattern size, choosing XL. This is for a size 42-43 bust and I found that the pattern actually has very little ease in it, giving only 1" at the bust. Not enough for this woman; the days of wearing snug tees that reveals midriff rolls are over as they should be for everyone. But the young don't seem to mind showing off all those middle rolls. Is it just me or do young girls have more these days? I don't recall that same kind of flab when I was younger. Is it our diet that is making women's shapes different? I digress.

I cut the tee 1" longer because the picture looked a little short to me, and the styles are longer right now. This wasn't necessary as I found later and ended up cutting it off again when hemming.

The fit is good, I think Connie has incorporated a nice shape into this pattern; the shoulders are a nice length and the sleeve is up high. Actually View C, the shirt fitted tee, has a looser fit and a dropped sleeve with a longer shoulder line. (glad I didn't make that one, I think it would be like those sloppy tees that I don't like - perhaps good for gardening chores).

I followed the directions exactly because I wanted to compare Connie's pattern to the many others I have made. So I like the fit, my only quibble is with her neck binding application. It is like the Jalie 2005 one; press under 3/8" on one edge, sew the binding right side to wrong side of neck, then press over to right side and topstitch in place. This results in four thicknesses of fabric on the neck edge, that is fine if your knit is really fine, but in a cotton/lycra jersey, I find it bulky. And this method also presumes that you have very good top-stitching skills and can make that line of stitching the perfect distance from the edge.

My preferred method is to apply the binding right side to right side, fold over and either stitch in the ditch or topstitch, then trim away the excess fabric. This results in one less layer of fabric in that neck edge and will probably look better for most of us.

One more criticism of the pattern: the neck binding should be 1" shorter; the ratio seems to be one to one, and I like the binding to be slightly shorter, which results in drawing the neckline in closer to the body. It lies flatter when done this way. Plus the binding is cut on the bias - why? A knit cut on the stretch works just fine; bias knit doesn't make much sense to me.

All in all, a good pattern and I will use it again. It compares quite well to my favourite pattern which is Cecelia Podolak's Fearless Tee. In fact, when placed on top of each other, the two patterns are very similar, with Cecelia's having a higher neckline.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Jacket #2

So far, so good. This topic of a Jacket a Month is keeping me on track. Well, I do realise that we are only in the second month of the year, but I do feel the necessity to keep going and to actually complete projects.

Today, I completed my wool coat and have put up a photo of the coat plus one of the inside. I did quite a lot of hand sewing on this coat. First, all the hair canvas was catch-stitched to the fronts, the collar, and hems of sleeves and coat body. Plus I did all the hems by hand. There is no top-stitching on this jacket at all, which is unusual for me, since I love top-stitching. But it just didn't seem to be right for this fabric and style.

The fit is good, loose enough to wear a sweater or jacket underneath and the coat is also short enough and light enough to be the first choice when popping out of the house to run errands.

I must remember to keep the lint brush close by the door, however, as Teddy our beloved canine, christens every item of clothing with his white and grey hairs. As I saw on someone else's post, her dog is a part of every thing she makes!

Today I picked up the buttons that I needed to complete the coat and of course, checked out the pattern catalogs as well. The new Butterick patterns that Carolyn posted last week, haven't made it to our neck of the woods yet. But I did pick up a t-shirt pattern from Connie Crawford. I haven't tried any of her patterns yet, and thought this would be a good one to start with. Three versions of a classic tee --- shirt-fitted, semi-fitted, and close-fitting. Two sleeve variations, short or cap. It would be easy to substitute a long sleeve I am sure.

So that pattern is next on the list to make, as I am always in need of new tees. And winter is just so long, that I will make this in something bright from the stash.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Goodies Come in the Mail

Yesterday we were housebound by that storm that has hit half of North America. It brought around 40 cm of snow to my region, that is 2 1/2 feet for those in Imperial measure. A lot of shoveling, my husband is a gem. Not only do we have our own drive and sidewalk to do, we have the corner lot as well, since we own that house and rent it out. Tenants don't shovel, so landlords must do the chore.

This is a view of the street across from our house in late afternoon yesterday. More snow fell overnight with more shoveling this morning.

Being housebound, I managed to sew more on my wool jacket. Having charged ahead and realised I completely forgot to insert the pockets, I had to unpick the side seams and put those in. Which prompted me to post about pressing, since I was trying to press pockets in a garment that was half-constructed and no longer flat. Never say you won't make the same mistake twice!

On to the lining. This pattern gives a cheater method for putting in the facing and lining, the instructions tell you to simply place the facing on top of the lining and fold under the raw edge and top-stitch it down. That goes against the grain for me, so I trimmed the front lining so that I could seam the two together in the traditional way, and I also put in some piping in that seam. My friend Mary puts piping into all her seams like this and it is a nice touch. She uses old ties that she picks up, getting some nice silk that way. I used some polyester blouse weight fabric that I had, with red and black in it.

Some years ago, in an outerwear jacket class, Barbara Emodi had us make piping for insertion into seams and she recommended using knitting yarn as the filler. I have used it ever since, because it is soft and squishy and gives a fine piping that isn't stiff.

Here are the front linings ready to be sewn to the sleeves and back. So far, I now have the lining constructed, ready to put on the collar to lining/facing unit and also to the jacket and then put the two together.

And this is what arrived by post this morning! I ordered three pieces of fabric from Vogue Fabrics
Being in Canada, the mailing costs are quite high, so it is simply not worth ordering just one small piece of fabric; you have to make the order worth while. After all, shipping costs $32.95 to Canada regardless of the size of your order. But this mailing of swatches didn't pose a problem; I had no difficulty choosing enough fabrics to order!

The one on the bottom left is Comeback Linen, a cross woven flax at $14.99 per yard. I ordered enough to make pants and a jacket. The swatch looked quite grey, even though it is called navy and, sure enough, it is a lovely subtle navy in the full yardage. The fabric in the middle is a polyester chiffon in lovely soft shades of blue grey, and coordinates really well with the flax/linen piece. I can't resist those sheer fabrics that are so soft; I am planning a shirt/jacket with this one, that can be worn over a dress. The piece on the right is a polyester jersey knit, black background with grey and white spots. I have enough for a knit top in this one.

I have been ordering fabrics from Vogue Fabrics for about a year now and have always been very pleased with the quality of their fabrics and their excellent service. They also sell all sorts of notions from thread to lining to shoulder pads, and also quite a few independent patterns. I highly recommend the company. I look forward to their bi-monthly mailings that come with about 30-40 swatches of colour-coordinated fabrics.

I do realise that I should be buying at the same rate at which I sew, but I just can't help myself sometimes.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Where to Improve

While working on this jacket, I realised that I needed to improve my pressing skills. Being an impatient sewer, I want to "get through" the steps to see something emerge that looks finished. As a friend once said "if we enjoy sewing so much, why do we always say 'thank goodness, that's finished?'"

I need to take more time to press. I read on someone's blog recently, but can't find it now to give the link, that we should expect to spend more time pressing than we do sewing at the machine. And she commented that, in factories, workers who do pressing are paid more than those who sew. I have heard that before, and it reflects the importance of the skills.

I recall visiting a friend years ago; she had just completed a jumper for herself. My first impression was how "home-made" her garment looked. I knew immediately that she had sewn all the seams and did not press as she sewed, but pressed the garment at the end. The result was a finished jumper, but how bad it looked! I didn't say a thing, but registered that she was only doing half the required work to make something look good.

So today I resolved to spend more time pressing. Exactly like all the many books I have read: press the seam as sewn, then press it open, use a press cloth, check that you have the right pressure and steam to get the results you want. Better to underpress and press again, than to overpress and have that scarred look.

Wool is probably the easiest thing to press; it is so forgiving. But you still have to be careful about seam impressions on the right side; better to go slow and carefully, taking precautions such as putting strips under the seam allowances to avoid them striking through to the right side.

Years ago, I remember having made a jacket for a fashion show and I was humbled as I saw it modelled - I had overpressed the pockets and you could see the seam allowances pressed through to the right side. Not to mention the fact that the plaid pants weren't cut right either! Yes, we can learn from our mistakes.

The time spent on pressing things correctly during the sewing process is time well spent. Because if you skip it, you can't get those seams pressed quite the same way after the garment is complete. As one sewing instructor said to a class - "you have one chance to get it right now, so get it right!" She was talking about fusing interfacing to a jacket, but her words could apply to pressing just as well.