Saturday, March 30, 2013

Red leather skirt

I've had this red leather in my stash for a little over 2 years. There were three skins to start off with, then I made this dress last year and used up a whole hide. (It was suppose to have sleeves but they ended up pulling the dress oddly so were discarded.) For the remaining two skins I knew I wanted a skirt. There wasn't enough leather for anything with fullness so it had to be some sort of pencil skirt. But, being me, I didn't want plain and simple. I'll do simple if my fabric is busy but with solid colors I really like complicated designs.

This is skirt 116 from the September 2010 Burda. I love this design so much. There are no darts, and the shaped pieces fit together and mold around the body. It's totally unique. (I also love the dress version included in the same magazine - don't know when I'll get around to it, though.) Leather is totally unforgivable to sew with. Once it gets a hold punched through it with a needle there is no getting that hole to go away. I made a muslin to perfect the fit and found I only had to let the waist out a bit at the top side fronts. I let out a total of 3/4", which is a typical alteration for my somewhat square shape.

The fit of this skirt turned out really nice. It is figure hugging but not too tight. I shortened the pattern to hit right above the knees and had to remove the vent because of material shortage. As long as I don't try to climb any super tall steps it's not at all restrictive to movement.

I have no dressform pictures to show you the details because I could not get it over my dressform's hips. The reason for this is that the bottom is slightly pegged. Arg! Here are the front and back seaming details with the skirt flat on my bed:

Everything was going smoothly until I tried to put that zipper in. The first time I pulled the leather too much and ended up with a dimple below the bottom of the zipper. The second time looked better but I could see some of the holes from the first attempt and it no longer felt very sturdy. I took a day off to calm my nerves and ponder what to do next. Next day I ripped out the entire vertical seam, applied some iron on interfacing to the edge where the zipper was going, and re-stitched the seam taking a slightly bigger seam allowance. And would you believe I stretched it too much again and had yet another dimple at the bottom?!!! Out that came and I tried it once more, gritting my teeth and praying for mercy. It is still not perfect but oh well, I am not attempting another go.

I lined it with red Ambiance from The directions did not call for any but I added interfacing to the top edges of the skirt. I really appreciated the separate lining pattern included with this design that didn't force me to reuse all the pieces that make up the front. Leather glue was used to affix the bottom hem in place.

I love my skirt! The leather is incredibly soft and buttery feeling. Hopefully I won't have any trouble creating outfits around this bright statement piece.

Here is the line drawing from the Russian Burda archives:

Sadly I did not get around to making an Easter dress this year for me or my daughter. I couldn't decide if I should make something warm or summery because the weather here tends to be unpredictable this time of year. Oh well, I've lots of pretty dresses to choose from. I'll check the temperature tomorrow morning and go from there. I hope you all have a wonderful Easter Sunday! I'll be cooking Easter lunch for my dad and immediate family and thanking God for the resurrection of his son Jesus!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Green + gold lace statement skirt

It's lace month at the Mood Sewing Network and in the past few months there has been a flurry of excitement and activity concerning the picking out of a choice piece of lace. I did not participate in any of that excitement, though, because way back in July of last year I used my Mood money to purchase some exquisitely beautiful green lace. (It sold out quickly so I unfortunately cannot link you to it. Here are some of their other laces.) Oh I had plans! I bought 3 yards and could have done just about anything.

So why are you looking at a plain straight skirt that could not possibly have taken all 3 yards to make? Because I screwed up, people. I had wanted to make a dress but I picked a pattern with princess seams. Despite all of my careful laying out and measuring to make sure this linear lace lined up, a dress with princess seams on the bodice simply will not look good with any fabric that has to be matched along the seamlines both vertically and horizontally. Plus I made some dreadful mistakes while cutting it out. I was very fortunate to be able to salvage the skirt portion. But oh, how my heart aches for that lost yardage!

This is my TNT straight skirt pattern, McCall's 3830, which I used for the straight skirt portion of the dress. I've used this pattern quite a lot lately and you are probably tired of hearing about it.

Thankfully I didn't make any laying out mistakes on the skirt portion, and the pattern of the lace flows nicely across the side seams and back.

I used green bemberg from Mood for the underlining and lining. I tried several different colors but kept coming back to the dark green.

I really wanted to underline this skirt so that the seams of the lace couldn't be seen through the skirt. I also wanted uninterrupted scallops along the hemline. In order to get the look I wanted, I had to sew the lace to the underlining down to the top of the scallop. Then I sewed the bottom of the lace together, clipped the lace to the seamline at the bottom of the underlining hemline, and sewed the underlining together. I pressed the scalloped lace to one side and secured it with some hand stitching. After that I had only to whipstitch the underlining in place. This is a difficult process to describe, but here is what the final outcome looks line:

This picture is of the lace and underlining with the LINING PULLED UP AND OUT OF SITE.
And here is the pattern I used, McCall's 3830:

This skirt is not what I had pictured in my mind's eye, but I do love it. The fabric is very fancy with gold thread woven throughout, so this skirt definitely fits my lifestyle more then a dress would have.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Yellow velvet blazer

I am in love with the color yellow and have been for the past 10 years. There aren't many shades of it I don't like except the greener/browner hues that tend to make me look sickly. My phone case in neon yellow - very easy to locate in my cavern of a purse. One time I pulled it out while wearing my neon yellow jeans and was asked if I match my phone case to my outfit on a daily basis. Ha! I only wish I had the time for that kind of fastidiousness. (Not that I would do it...) Where was I going with all this? Oh yes, I love everything yellow. So anyway, a year or so ago I spotted this yellow cotton velvet on and had to have it. And what does one do with yellow velvet? Make a 70's inspired blazer of course. It's so obvious!

This is pattern 119 from the November 2009 issue of Burda. I really love to make and wear fitted jackets, and had my eye on this design for the past 3 years. Burda tends to be a few years ahead of runways in this country. The bomber jackets that were all over their magazines in 2008 and 2009 are now popping up everywhere. 70's fashions are coming back, people. Brace yourselves for it if you need to.

I really loved the wide (though cut down considerably from the pattern) notched collar, the fun pockets, the back V-yoke, the fully vented sleeves, and the miles of pick stitching. I made a muslin (in January) but for some reason only noted that it wasn't too small when I tried it on. The actual jacket body was tortuously fitted after it was cut out to get the fitted look I wanted.

Cotton velvet wrinkles like nobody's business. Take that into consideration if you are planning to ever sew with it. I like my jacket but oh my, after half a day of wearing it I look a bit disheveled. I have a few pairs of 3 hour shoes - meaning they become unbearably uncomfortable after wearing them for more then 3 hours - this will just have to be a 4 hour jacket. That gets taken off when I'm driving.

I did machine topstitching in the yellow thread I sewed the seams with, then went back with brown heavy duty polyester thread and did all the pick stitching by hand. And boy did that make it easier then trying to measure it out or eyeball it. It really helps that the machine stitches sink into the plush of the velvet; I'm not sure handstitching over machine stitches would work on a different type of fabric. I believe I cut the collar and lapels down by a whopping inch! Those were some really wide lapels/collar!

I was pretty sure the pockets as drafted were going to be huge and awkward looking, so I cut them smaller from the beginning. That turned out to be a mistake, so then I had to recut them both out and remake them the original size. Mine are stitched with the outer sides abutting the side seams, as opposed to them wrapping around to the back per the pattern design.

Finding buttons for this fabric proved difficult. All the yellow ones at my local fabric stores either weren't the right shade or were too childish looking. I finally settled on these brown ones with tan centers. Then I went back to get a third button to add under the top two and the 7/8" size had been discontinued! I had to get the bigger 1" buttons to get three the same size. Honestly, I should have stayed with the 2 button closure because the bottom of my jacket bunches up uncomfortably if I try to sit down with it buttoned closed. There is a reason longer jackets like these don't have buttons past the waist!

All my buttons were sewn on with thread shanks. Velvet is really thick and all of my buttons have 4 holes. If I'd tried to sew them on without the shank the fabric would have bunched unattractively beneath.

 These fully vented sleeve cuffs were my first lessons in mitered corners. (They were sewn before my previous dress; I put this project aside to finish that one.) You can see my tiny miscalculation on the buttonhole side. Burda, with it's notoriously bad instructions, completely dropped the ball in even mentioning how to finish off the sleeve vents. I had to really ponder what to do here, and I think it turned out pretty well.

This jacket design has a built in collar stand, something I've never seen before in a jacket. I love collar stands on blouses and dresses - insist on them in a pattern - and was really interested in seeing it here. If you look closely you can see the longer stitches of the pick stitching on the underside of the collar/lapel.

The matching Ambiance lining was ordered from I always go there for Ambiance if I can't find a good color match locally or from Mood. They have every color imaginable!

Here is the blackline drawing of the original design. I forgot to mention that I eliminated the welt buttonholes. I tried to do them, honestly. I am intimidated by welts but I went ahead and gave it my best shot. This velvet did not want to comply with tiny bits of fabric being sewn to it.

This is another project of mine that was labor intensive. I started work on it in January and worked on it for most of February. There were a number of times I wanted to heave it into the trashcan and move on. I do like it but I am feeling mostly relief at having it completed.