Monday, September 28, 2015

TSW Ivy (and Urban) Tee

The Odette and Ivy pattern from The Sewing Workshop (TSW) has been out for almost a year, I think. It contains two very different knit tops, so a real two-fer. Previously I made the Odette and like it very much. The tunic length shirt is called Ivy and it is the one I just finished.

I omitted the inset in the left sleeve because I used the same solid fabric for the entire piece. And it's black.
The Ivy contains three separate flanges that float around the hips. I like for things to float around but never land on my hips. Recently, while traveling, I almost bought a black Eileen Fisher tunic that was similar (not as interesting though), but when they did not have my size, I resolved to make my own.

That's what we do, right?

This pattern has some interesting lines and was a fun make. Of course, it is perfect for coordinating knit fabrics but I wanted a basic black tunic. There is always next time for fabric play.

The black knit fabric came from Alabama Chanin, who you may know is a very interesting maker. She designs and sells beautiful hand-sewn (as in, no sewing machine!) garments from USA grown and manufactured cotton knits. She has also published a number of books for those of us in the DIY market where she describes her process in detail. She sells her organic knits by the yard online as well as at The Sewing Workshop. And she offers classes and workshops. All in all, a very generous and conscientious business person.

Back of TSW's Ivy Tee, AC's light weight jersey.

This is the second time I've sewn with the AC knits. I made TSW's Urban Tee during June and never blogged about it for some reason. I think the blue knit is AC's medium weight knit, more beefy like interlock but really nice.

TSW's Urban Tee, AC's medium weight knit

As jersey knits go, it is pretty easy to sew. Not as easy as ponte because jersey likes to curl but still very cooperative. And the AC knit likes the steam iron as much as I do.

I do think that because it is 100% cotton, it does not recover as well as knits containing Lycra. That may be just me, but it seems so. I'm going to do some more research to see if others have noted this.

The recovery issue came into play with the neckline. TSW provides a pattern piece for the rectangle to be cut for the neckline and this is usually just right. You fold the rectangle length-wise wrong sides together and press. Then you sew the short ends right sides together and fold the circle wrong sides together. Using the good old Stretch and Sew technique of quartering the neckline and quartering the neckband, the three layers are sewn together and pressed so that the seam allowances can be top-stitched close to the original sewing line. A nice ready-to-wear detail.

This time though, I could not get it to lay down flat after sewing it on. Perhaps I was too heavy-handed. Before the top-stitching, I removed the offending neckband and re-cut it 1 inch shorter.

It still does not lay down as flat as I would like. But it will probably be fine when I wear it. And we have about 100% humidity right now. That should help.

Has anyone else used this knit? It feels heavenly and I know I'm going to enjoy wearing it. Because it is black I will probably dry-clean it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Home Depot Fabric Department

Not a lot of selection, but just what I wanted for a home dec project.

My introduction to the idea of sewing on a paint drop cloth occurred when a new sewing friend showed her sweet embroidered pillow at a recent ASG neighborhood group meeting. And then my BSF told me she had heard of people using this stuff for upholstery. And now I remember that Diane Eriscon and others have talked about transforming used drop cloths into totes and other pieces.

It took two 6x9 drop cloths to cover my sun room love seats - one drop cloth each. Total investment = $20. Not really. I still ended up replacing the back cushions rather than using the pillow forms from the original. And there were the zippers and thread. My first time with cut-to-length zips. Love that!

Oh and the new rug.

DH was very sweet when he saw this in progress. He said, "I don't want to spoil your excitement, but have you noticed the color?" So diplomatic.

Yes, it's white, but entirely washable and if it gets too bad, then I will get the grands to help me decorate the fabric with fabric paint. That might be great fun, actually.

Final room - still a little cluttered but it is a playroom for the grands and it gets quite a lot of use.

Here is how it looked before:

I had just started replacing one side when I decided to take a picture!

This canvas-like fabric is a blend of polyester and cotton. After I washed and dried it, I liked the feel of it very much, despite the fact that I am normally snobbish about (not) sewing with poly-cotton blends. It could not have too much polyester because it took high heat and steam just great. In fact, it was kind of fun to sew.

Usually when I start a home dec sewing project, I end up bored or overwhelmed or both. Even simple curtains can be so BIG.

These pieces - 4 seat cushions and 4 back cushions - were not terribly overwhelming. And now that it is complete, I am above average happy with the result.

New love seats:

Old love seats:

And of course, I learned some things:
  • Harvest the old fabric to use as a pattern.
  • Use fusi-web to secure the zips before sewing them in. The existing covers had centered zips so I went with that technique. This is not my favorite zipper insertion but it was so easy using the fusi-web and no pins.
  • Rather than individual zips, I bought an upholstery-weight roll of cut-your-own zips.
  • Wrap a dry-cleaning bag around the cushion before putting it inside the new cover. Brute force was still required but so much easier. And the bag is easy to remove by simply ripping it.
I will cheerfully return to sewing garments now. I so admire those who do this kind of sewing regularly.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Florence Shirt

The Florence Shirt may be the most recent pattern released by The Sewing Workshop (TSW). After having such fun with the Cortona Shirt pattern, I have been looking forward to trying my hand with the Florence.

The Cortona shirt has some unusual lines to it and it is a distinctive make. The Florence, on the other hand, seems to be a classic with some contemporary details.

I omitted the buttons on the button band attached to the back, but kept the band. It was a fun place to play with the stripey effect of this fabric but I was not sure I would like sitting on buttons or even leaning on them while seated.

On the classic side, there is the standard collar band and collar, as well as cuffed sleeves and a separate band for buttons and buttonholes down the front. The sleeve is set in and sits nicely right at the shoulder line. The back yoke places the shoulder seam slightly forward. It is really a nice women's shirt pattern with lots of options.

The contemporary details include its tunic length and front hem tucks. It also has a band down the center back with buttons. It does not actually button and in fact is a separate piece that is top-stitched on. I chose to omit these back buttons - could not see myself sitting on them. It is an interesting idea though.

And then there is this cute pleated breast pocket. You gotta love a pocket detail!

The overall silhouette is very appealing to me. The side seams curve very slightly into a lantern shape and the tucks in the front further define that shape.  The proportion is pretty.

Things I changed: 
  • The back yoke is single layer. Easy to fix, of course, by simply cutting a second layer. Otherwise there would have been all those raw edges that get eliminated with the *burrito* method of attaching a yoke lining..
  • The sleeve vents are made with continuous bias strips. Though I've been making tower plackets on my shirts lately, I decided to go ahead and try this out. The technique described in the pattern produced a lumpy edge on the vent. The described technique starts with folding bias strips wrong sides together and pressing lengthwise. Then the double bias strips are attached to the stay-stitched slash. By the time you wrap the double bias around the raw edges and top-stitch, it involves lots of layers and not much room. Now this could have been my fabric, but I strongly suggest testing a sample with your fabric before using the technique in this pattern. I ended up using a standard continuous bias strip as described by Sandra Betzina in her Power Sewing book (what a great reference). 

I finished my sleeve cuffs and my collar stand in a different way, but I think the directions would have yielded the same result. The directions call for the *burrito* technique in these two finishes but I felt more comfortable with hand-finishing.

My fabric came from Gail K here in Atlanta. It is a wonderful indigo blue cotton shirting - one of those pieces that responds to pressing but really does not need it. It is soft to the touch and was a pleasure to sew. It is a kind of Ikat I believe with a striped effect. The stripes ran crosswise so I rotated the main pattern pieces so that the stripes would run vertically on me. The stripes are random in appearance but, like most stripes, it was fun to rotate for some of the minor pattern pieces like the cuffs and the button bands. It was a great piece of fabric to sew.

The buttons are some of those old-fashioned ball buttons. I am not so sure about them. So I welcome your input! Do you think dark blue buttons would be better?

All in all, a fun make. Linda and Erin at The Sewing Workshop have made their versions with border prints and they are fabulous! I am already day-dreaming about my next version.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Sashiko the Nancy Shriber way

Many years ago I took a sashiko class from Nancy Shriber. I have taken other sashiko classes since. Each one has added a bit to my repertoire. I adore using sashiko here and there.  Whenever something is needed in a piece, sashiko is my first thought.

Next month I will teach sashiko techniques to a group of quilters in a local guild. I thought it might be fun to make a few fresh samples for the class. So of course I started where Nancy started me.

  • Solid indigo colored silk dupioni
  • Embroidery needle
  • Cotton flannel
  • Design template (here it is called, pampas grass, I think)
The imperfection is what I like. It's a good thing too!

This is an easy and gratifying technique. The pattern is traced onto the cotton flannel backing. The flannel is layered on top of the silk piece and stitching is done from the back.

Silk dupioni is such a dramatic fabric. The color changes with different lighting.

To set off the 12 inch block of stitching, I framed it with plain silk dupioni. I harvested stuffing from an old stained pillow in the living room, cut out a plain back and finished it.

So why haven't ever made a sashiko pillow before? I loved making this.

Silk + Sashiko = Sweet Satisfacition

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Cortona Top

This top is made using the Siena and Cortona pattern from The Sewing Workshop (TSW). I made the Cortona view. The Siena is very different and also quite an interesting design.

As usual, I made some goofs. I carefully cut each piece out single layer so that I could match the Ikat patterns in some way. Grain lines got in the way of matching everywhere, but the front is good.

Too bad I forgot about the back. The front piece wraps to the back, creating the peplum. I did not realize how the peplum was constructed until I was sewing it. And I do know better than to cut it out without reviewing the instructions.

Initially I was disappointed in this, as the seam lines looked odd to me. But then there is always sashiko, which I  love anyway. I will continue to add some but it is pretty much finished now.

The fabric is a yummy soft cotton Ikat that I bought in Austin, TX at the now defunct Common Thread :(.

The buttons are mottled navy blue ones from Gail K here in Atlanta. I organized them in pairs but it is not really noticeable.

As I was cutting I  noticed that there are some brownish discolorations throughout the piece. I had washed this previously and plan to wash it again. Maybe those spots will come out. Or maybe they are part of the charm of the piece. I am at peace with it either way. More sashiko, if needed.

The Cortona is a sweet pattern from The Sewing Workshop, a sleeper really. It has puzzling (e.g., fun to sew) lines in the front and a charming peplum in the back.

The collar contains a cut-on collar band. It's been years since I constructed a shirt with that collar but it went together easily. As usual from TSW, the instructions were clear and easy to follow.

My sleeves use the Lucille Ball cuffs. The sleeves are 3/4 length in the pattern, as well as in my version. But the pattern calls for a continuous bias vent plus a narrow cuff. It's pretty but I wanted to make the Lucille Ball cuffs again.

I believe that the Siena will be fun to make too. It is completely different from the Cortona, so really you get two patterns for the price of one here. I think the Siena will also make an interesting vest, maybe to layer over the Cortona.

Oh, to be back in Cortona!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Lucille Ball Cuffs

Today's post is a very small tutorial. After a recent post showing these cuffs added to Marcy Tilton's block dress (Vogue 9081), I was asked how the cuffs are constructed. It is a super simple technique and I like the resulting cuff.

Lucille Ball Cuffs:

1.  Cut the cuffs 1 inch wider than the unfinished lower hem of your sleeve pattern in order to create a 1 inch overlap. Because both the sleeve and the cuff are unfinished, you only need to add enough for the final overlap. I like 3 inch deep cuffs, so the raw cuff piece needs to be 7 inches deep. I use a 1/2 inch seam allowance. My finished sleeve is 14.5 x 6 inches before folding the cuff into position. Each cuff is cut 7 x 15.5 inches.

2.  Interface the cuff pieces as needed based on the fabric (*).

3.  Fold each cuff along the long side right sides together. Sew short ends of cuffs using 1/2 inch seam allowance. Turn to right side and press. At this point each cuff measures 14.5 x 3.5 inches.

4.  Mark placement for the cuff overlap on the sleeve hem: My pattern includes a continuous bias vent, so I just used its placement. If there is no other guide on the sleeve, then I suggest dividing the raw hem of the sleeve into thirds. Clip a mark at 1/3 of the way from the BACK seam allowance. This is pretty close to the usual placement of any conventional cuff opening.

5.  Sew the sleeve underarm seam together, as usual.

6.  Pin cuff and sleeve hem wrong sides together. Stitch together using 1/2 inch SA.

7.  Repeat for second sleeve but make sure that the overlap of the second one is the reverse of the first one.

8.  Press seam towards shoulder of sleeve (up).

Seam between sleeve & cuff is exposed when cuffs are folded down. The seam disappears when the cuffs are folded in place.

9.  Fold cuff back into place. I do not press this fold because I like to keep it soft. When it is on my arm, it stays in place better than it does on my armless dress form, so no further stitching is needed.

*This fabric is quite different from the crisp medium weight linen used in Marcy's block dress. Because it is a very soft cotton, I interfaced each cuff piece completely with cotton batiste. For the orange linen dress, I did not need any interfacing.

This idea was inspired by a collar a friend used on a t-shirt. Her collar finished at about 3 inches deep and it probably overlapped a bit more than an inch. I *think* she said the pattern for her collar came from Pamela Erny's web site, Off The Cuff, but I cannot find it. It looks so soft and pretty as a collar and I look forward to using the technique that way too.

This shirt is the Cortona shirt from The Sewing Workshop. I have made a few goofs along the way but it is now moving in the right direction. Stay tuned!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Wabi Sabi

White linen is an example of wabi sabi, I think. Imperfect, impermanent, incomplete.

It also lovely to press, fold, stitch and shape. 

These are pictures of one of two pillows I made for my daughter for her birthday. It is a technique from Stitch Magic by Alison Reid. This is beautiful and informative book, as is a similar one, The Art of Manipulating Fabric by Colette Wolff.

Linen is so cooperative and open to suggestion that I did not even use an iron, except to square the starting rectangles and to square up the finished rectangles. Finger pressing achieved just the right look in these intersecting tucks. No sharp creases, instead soft folds along the grain lines.

Though it was tempting to leave the intersecting tucks as seen above, I was unable to resist the urge to complete the technique by pulling the small flaps back on themselves to create the impression of knots:

I forgot to take a picture of the pair together. The other one was the same size (12x18) but the tucks are more scattered. What a fun and satisfying small project.