Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Vogue 1285 - Pink embroidered wool knit dress

This month I made a dress using a rose floral wool knit from Mood fabrics. The slight translucency of the fabric reminded me of the envelope example from Vogue 1285, which I have waited 3 years to find the perfect fabric for. I’ve never worked with this thin of a wool knit before and was afraid the fabric would stick to itself too much, especially at the front skirt overlay. Thankfully that wasn’t an issue. Since this fabric contains some wool, it’s a slightly warm dress, and I’ll probably save it for early fall or spring of next year.

I’ve always loved the unique neckline of this design but was never sure what to use for the interfacing along the collar and sleeve bands. Recently I read online of someone using organza as interfacing, so I decided to try that instead of a fusible. This blush silk organza was the perfect match. I sewed it along the edges of each piece that needed interfacing like you would when underlining something. It added the needed stability to those areas but didn’t stiffen the fabric like a fusible interfacing would have. This is a very exciting revelation for me! I never know what to do with see-through fabrics because of the interfacing issue. I’ll definitely be using silk organza as interfacing in the near future.

I thought long and hard about whether to make the darts inverted like the pattern design, but ended up sticking to the designer look. Yes they’re a different look that isn’t to everyone’s taste, but to me they look playful and interesting. I did choose to sew the bust darts on the inside of the dress. Despite being (normally) small busted, I didn’t like the look of those fabric flaps in that area.

I cut this out in my normal Vogue size 12 and had no fit issues. The side zipper was eliminated since the stretch of the fabric enables me to pull it on over my head. I also skipped the sewn in lining because I could NOT find the right color tricot to make it out of. Instead I’m wearing a nude color cami and half slip. The insides are all sewn with french seams since the fabric is so thin and tends to run.

This collar was a bit fiddly to sew. I slip-stitched the under side of the collar along the inside and left off the topstitching. I also put a dab of fray check where the collar notches meet the bodice to prevent any issues in that area. I really like the textural qualities of this fabric, which you can see better in the close-ups.

Two small snaps were inserted where the bodice fronts overlap to keep everything in place.

Sadly this Tracy Reese designer pattern is now OOP, but I’m sure you could find it online on etsy or ebay if you are interested. Not too many people made it up, which surprises me since knit mock wrap dresses seem to be popular amongst the sewing community.

Note: This fabric was purchased with my Mood Fabrics monthly allowance, as part of my participation in the Mood Sewing Network.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Vogue 1378 - Black pants in embossed knit + baby pictures

Y’all, I’ve made some pants.

Big deal, right? I’ll bet you make pants all the time. You’re a wizard at crotch curves and the fish-eye dart and all the pants making things. Yeah. Well, in all the almost 7 years I’ve been blogging (!!!) I think I’ve made one pair of pants and one pair of knee-length crops. Oh and a pair of shorts or two. I’m not scared of them per say, it’s just that I’m more interested in making things that I can’t afford to buy or can’t find to fit me very well. Pants I can readily find in stores at prices I’m willing to pay, so unless it’s a unique design or some sort of suit coordinate, you probably won’t find me stitching any up.

These happened to be a unique design. Also they have loads of topstitching. (The top I'm wearing in these pictures is Vogue 8536, made way back in November of 2008.)

The pattern is Vogue 1378, part of the Donna Karan designer collection. You can see nothing of significance in the envelope picture, but the line drawing revealed some really cool construction lines, fun vented hemline, and miles of topstitching. I had to give them a try, but first I had to find the perfect fabric. I read the description for this black floral ponte de roma on Mood Fabric’s website and was intrigued. After my swatch came in the mail I knew instantly what I was going to do with it.

You probably thought they were just plain black, right? In normal lighting conditions the embossed floral motif is subtly noticeable. This fabric is really soft and has a slight sheen to it. Most of the construction of these pants are unfinished lapped seams, so the fact that my fabric didn’t fray or curl in the slightest made it perfect for the design.

There was quite a bit of thread switching going on while I was working on these. First I would stitch them together with black thread to get the placement right, then I would go back with heavy duty gray thread to do the 2 rows of topstitching. It was very much like a puzzle – I had to stitch together two pieces, topstitch, trim the excess away, rethread back to black, figure out where the next piece went, get it positioned, and repeat the process again.

Before cutting out the fabric I made a muslin out of an ugly stretch woven from my stash. It revealed that the pattern was super long, really tight from the knees down, and really tight at the hips. I decided I wanted to leave the bottom of these unhemmed, so I trimmed away the hem allowance as well as another inch in length. I also took an inch of length out around the knee area in a process that is too convoluted to describe. Then I added 3″ to the bottom leg width, tapering to nothing right above the knees. I added 2″ to the width of the hips and lengthened the top of the pants 1/2″.

A sharp scissors and a steady hand is a must if you are thinking of making these up.

The waistband is a simple fold over elastic one. The instructions want you to cut the elastic to your waist measurement plus 3″, which I totally ignored. I can’t have my pants falling down while I’m chasing my kids around!

I had a lot of fun making these. After the muslin and the altering of the pattern was completed, the actual sewing went quickly. This design is pretty unique, but I just might make it up again if ever I run across another perfect fabric.

Now, I want to let you in on a little secret. This fabric is not really ponte de roma at all - Mood has mislabeled it. Is is actually a nice weight scuba knit, which I have been wanting to work with for awhile. When I got my sample in the mail I knew instantly what it was. If you've been wanting to try your hand at working with scupa I would snap some up. At $14 a yard and in black it's an awesome buy. The thing with scuba fabrics is they don't want to lay flat at the seamlines. I did try ironing it at first but the heat made the embossed pattern disappear from the fabric face somewhat. For the interior leg seams I topstitched in black thread. The crotch seam is the only thing that's not topstitched down, but it's only a small part of the garment and doesn't bother me.

Here's a few pictures of my baby boy in case you want to see how he's growing. He has the most beautiful blue eyes. My mother and FIL both have blue eyes, so the gene is on both sides of our family, but Joshua is the only one of us that got them. His hair looks like it will either be blond or strawberry blond. Only Nathan was this bald as a baby and he has red hair.

Note: This fabric was purchased with my Mood Fabrics monthly allowance, as part of my participation in the Mood Sewing Network.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Vogue 1092 - Green wool sequined skirt

I found this interesting wool on Mood Fabrics’ website by searching the word “sequins”. Wool, sequins, embroidery, and flowers in yellow? That’s definitely my kind of fabric. I knew it was wide with a sequined border on both edges, so I only got a yard thinking I would make some sort of skirt. Making my TNT straight skirt seemed too boring, so I went looking for a pattern where I could use the sequined border in a more interesting manner. Enter this OOP Tracy Reese pattern, Vogue 1092. I always gravitate to unusual designs and absolutely loved the way this one was constructed.

I used the borders for the “bands” that criss-cross the front and continue onto the back and I had fabric fumes left over. If I’d gotten 1.5 yards I really could have matched the side seams perfectly. A fun feature of this design is that some of the pieces are cut on bias and some on straight grain. In a striped fabric it would be much more apparent then this herringbone, which just means I’ll have to make it up again.

I made a muslin and it fit well right out of the envelope in my normal size after a few tweaks to the waistband. I don’t usually go for skirts below my knees. A good bit of my height comes from my long torso, so I need my knees showing to avoid looking stumpy. However, I didn’t want to cut off the kick pleat with godet insert at the center back, so I kept it the original length.

The backs are cut on the bias enabling the front bands to wrap around to the back of the skirt. So fun! I'm wearing my ivory silk jersey top to complete the outfit.

This wool behaved very well and ironed beautifully. It is scratchy, though. I would not suggest using it without a lining or for a jacket with collar unless you like that scratchy wool feeling on your skin.

Dressform pictures:

Here’s a close-up of the kick pleat and the herringbone print. This was my first time making this type of detail and I quite like it! It looks kind of 40′s vintage to me.

The lining I made from a lovely dark olive silk charmeuse, also from Mood Fabrics. This fabric is just heavenly. I’m starting to realize not all silk charmeuse fabrics are created equally. Some is thin and cheap but this stuff is medium weight and just gorgeous. I’m thinking of getting some more yardage for a pretty night gown or other form of lounge wear.

I actually finished this skirt in mid February but every weekend since then it’s been overcast and rainy around here. Finally yesterday the sky brightened up a bit between rain storms and I was able to get some pictures taken. And now that it’s daylight saving time, I can get pictures during the week and not just on the weekends. Yet another reason to love spring and summer!

Note: Both fabrics were purchased with my Mood Fabrics monthly allowance, as part of my participation in the Mood Sewing Network.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Blogger meet-up

This past Saturday I had the awesome pleasure of meeting Renee of Miss Celie's Pants in person during her mini break to San Antonio. Even though she's done this sort of thing dozens of times all over the world, this was the first time I've ever meet someone from the online sewing community. We went for BBQ on a beautifully sunny and warm day and sat talking for couple hours. She and Jordan are such interesting and fun people, and I thoroughly enjoyed my meal with them. Plus all my kids were home with Justin so I got to have an actual adult conversation without interruption!

She brought me gifts:

Three long zippers that will be perfect for outerwear and two kinds of fun buttons in various sizes. I brought her... nothing, because I didn't know that's what you do when you meet a fellow sewist. Sorry Renee!

We went for lunch instead of doing something like fabric shopping because there's seriously no places like that here except JoAnn's and Hancock Fabrics, and who wants to add polyester to their stash? San Antonio might have a lot of stuff to do and see, but practically no sewing or fashion community.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Vogue 1317 - Gray wool knit dress w/ black topstitching

When this Chado Ralph Rucci designer pattern first came out in 2012, I snapped it up faster then lightning. Interesting seam lines and loads of topstitching? It practically had my name written on it. Of course it had to marinate in my stash for a few years while I mulled over the changes I wanted to make.

The first two givens were to eliminate the front ties and raise the neckline slit. I don't find extra bulk around my waist to be flattering. Also I wanted to carve out the neckline a bit because of my phobia of feeling choked. I'm not a pockets-in-the-dress lover so I left those off. I lengthened the bodice 1 3/8" for a long torso adjustment. (Can that be a thing, like the FBA? If I start typing LTA, will y'all know what I'm talking about?) Because of the added length at the waist, I didn't have to lengthen the bottom at all.

I liked the length of the sleeves on the designer example but I noticed that other people who made this pattern had sleeves a little above their wrists. I cut my sleeves 2.5" shorter and used the sleeve facings from a bigger size. The fabric is a beefy wool knit I've had in my stash for years. I actually used a bit of it for this colorblocked dress I made 3 years ago, so was on fabric fumes for this dress. (I got rid of that dress years ago during a closet purge. It was too short and always made me feel self conscious.)

I cut the size 10 for the bodice, tapered out to a 12 at the waist and hips, and got a very nice fit. This is my usual Vogue sizing, but I did use a knit. The fabric suggestions for this dress are doubleknit and synthetic suede. I don't know how much arm mobility you would have with a woven fabric, but you'd definitely need to go up a size.

When I got the top finished and tried it on my dressform, it was really roomy under the bust and around the front waist seaming. On the original, the ties pull this area in for a snugger fit. As I had left the ties off my dress, I chose to add darts. I didn't have enough fabric to re-cut the front waist inset to make it smaller, so I put a seam down the center. It's not topstitched and blends in pretty well. I also had to add a seam down the center front of the underskirt, which you can't see from the outside. The center front skirt was trimmed on the sides. Each dart eliminated 3/4" of fabric, so I took a total 1.5" off the dress diameter.

I love how the sleeves turned out! The fabric has striations in it, which meet in in Vs along the outer seams.

This design has a TON of topstitching. The seams have a double line and all the openings have triple. I used heavy duty thread and a longer stitch length to make them really pop.

Another thing I loved about this pattern was all the facings included. However, since I had such limited fabric, I was forced to use a different fabric for them. I chose a black ponte knit to match the black topstitching. I think it looks awesome peeking out at the sleeve slits that flip up a little when it's being worn, and at the hemline when I'm walking. I trimmed each facing close to the 3rd line of topstitching.

Dressform pictures:

I had a lot of fun making this garment, but I did get really tired of topstitching towards the end. I have decided I love Chado Ralph Rucci and have been scouring Ebay and Etsy for some of his discontinued patterns. They are mostly all challenging with interesting design details. (Some of his shapes are a little beyond my comfort zone though, like that new coat that everyone on the internet went gaga for.) I adore his newest pattern with the complicated jacket design. Who knows when I'll get around to it though.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Vogue 8933 - Hot pink wool coat

I am not fond of winter. Having lived my entire life in south Texas, I am a winter wimp. The only thing I do like about cold weather is the reason to wear cute outerwear. For the past 3 or 4 years I have purchased a coat in January after they are all put on sale, and have the standard colors of beige, black and white. (Also yellow, but that’s not exactly a standard color.) This year I decided to try my hand at making one in a bright hue. I swatched this bright pink and purple checked wool from Mood Fabrics and fell in love with its texture and weight.

I chose Vogue 8933 because it has simple lines and wouldn’t cut up the large squares of my fabric too much. I really liked the angled fronts of this design as well as the asymmetrical closing and welt pockets. I had to cut the collar way down as I feel chocked in high necklines. The back collar is 2″ high, so I believe it was reduced by at least 2.5″. As drafted, the collar of this coat is super tall. The overlap was also very wide, so I trimmed it down on both sides as well. I did that on the fly, though, and just eyeballed it to what I thought would look good.

Another fun thing about this pattern is the ability to wear it in different ways. I can snap it all the way up on cold days when I want my neck to stay warm or unsnap the top when I want more of a casual look. And I LOVE the pockets! I finally conquered my fear of making welts and am so proud of these. This pattern does include side pockets so you can choose which ones you want to undertake. I chose the welt pockets to add a bit of interest.

I cut a straight size 12, my usual Vogue size, and made no alterations for fit. The only changes I did make, other then the collar, were to interface the welt area on the coat, leave off the interfacing on the actual welt flaps and omit the topstitching. I also added 1/4″ shoulder pads. I cut the fabric in a single layer in order to match the lines horizontally and vertically, and I cut the backs so that they would have the same size squares down the center seam.

Typically, when working with wool fabrics, I’ll throw them in the dryer with a damp towel and dry on hot. I forgot to do that this time until after it was all cut out. Happily, when I tested a square with my high powered steam iron, it did not shrink. This fabric has a black webbing on the underside which makes it not ravel as easily as other textured coatings I’ve worked with.

Dressform pictures:

Here you can see the texture of the fabric better. The website calls the color of the lines grayhound but I found them more of a lavender.

I love the look of these giant snaps but they always take forever to sew on. I did my own thing when placing them on the coat. The directions call for hooks and eyes at the top of the collar which I ignored. Also, since I changed the size of the collar, I had to position the other ones so that the front would fall open nicely when the top snap was undone.

I used a lavender viscose lining for the interior, also from Mood. It’s a little thicker then ambiance and I thought it would be good for a coat. All the hems were done by hand which I actually really enjoy.

This is the first coat I’ve ever made and I’m thrilled with the results. I’m not a huge pink lover but this hot pink is such a happy color. If I have to put up with the cold I might as well do so in something that makes me smile.

Note: Both fabrics were purchased with my Mood Fabrics monthly allowance, as part of my participation in the Mood Sewing Network.