Friday, November 17, 2017

Frankie Day 2

My ten-year-old grandson spent part of today with me. He had to miss school for a cold. He asked me, "Grandma, what do you DO all day?" I told him I read, I sew, I do laundry, run errands and cook sometimes. Mostly I sew. He said, "But don't you get bored with that?" No, I said, I love it. "But why?" Well, it's like when you get a new Lego kit. You cannot wait to work through the instructions and make it. That's the way it is with me and a new pattern. He rolled his eyes and smiled.

After he went home I had a few hours to sew and made progress on the Frankie shirt from the Sewing Workshop. Because it is made from silk charmeuse, I'm taking it nice and slow. Here is today's result:

That is correct. I made two sleeves. And I had a blast, Lego-boy!

Beyond the challenge of the fabric, these are somewhat intricate sleeves. It is a two-piece sleeve (hooray!) with an uneven vent. The vent mirrors the design of the overlapping seams on the body of the garment. So pretty.

Constructing the sleeves required more pressing than sewing. I made good use of my TSW pressing templates. I first learned about pressing templates in a class I took with Linda Lee years and years ago. It was a class at the Atlanta Expo. I think that the templates were actually provided as part of the class registration. Imagine that!?

It was again one of those cases where I could not visualize the construction ahead of time. So I followed each step carefully with fabric in hand. By reading and re-reading the instructions, and lock-stepping through them, the vents came together like magic.

I did have to unsew a few things but the silk recovered nicely. There is top-stitching at the top of the sleeve vent that holds the vent together. It is easy to get extra stuff caught under the presser foot when sewing up inside a finished sleeve:

Next up - setting the sleeves. I have not decided how to finish those raw edges. French seams are sometimes dicey in a set-in sleeve, but I don't want flat felled seams either. I may try some hand-sewing after inserting the sleeve. I'll let that perk overnight.

What a fun pattern - have you bought it yet?!?  I think that this is interesting and lovely design.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Frankie Day 1

Today I had the extreme luxury of a full day of sewing. That really is as good as it gets. Quiet time in my sewing studio with no sound except sewing sound.

silk charmeuse for Frankie; maybe pants with the wool plaid
It was a good day to start the new Sewing Workshop pattern, Frankie. There is a sew-along going on via Facebook with tips and hints on the Sewing Workshop blog, so I have virtual sewing companions.

Wanting to use what I have in stash, I finally settled on a piece of silk charmeuse. It is solid navy with a pebble texture. Let's just say I am flying without a net. No experience with the pattern. No toile/muslin to make sure it fits. The worst possible fabric to sew. I do like a challenge.

Kenneth King once said he'd rather chew broken glass than sew with charmeuse. And I get that. It is like sewing on jello. But look at how luscious it is:

Really, it will be worth it, right?

Using pressing templates for center fronts
The pattern has interesting lines and I scratched my head more than once while working through it today. I had skimmed the instructions ahead of time, but some just do not make sense to me until I have the fabric in my hand. For example there is a piece labeled front/side. There is no side seam, as this one piece wraps from the front into the back. There is an underarm dart that runs under the arm about half way down.

The back piece contains an inverted pleat and it underlaps the front/side piece, rather than simply being sewn right-sides-together. That sewing was a leap of faith. And it worked out exactly right!

I used silk thread to baste the back pleat in place. I still have sad feelings about the time I made a pleated skirt from silk charmeuse. I basted the pleats in place with cotton machine sewing thread. Of course, when I removed the basting, I had little holes down both sides of each pleat. Everytime I put it one, I grimaced. It was a lesson well-learned.

French seams in progress
The pattern instructs you to *finish* edges at several junctures. I think that this means serging, but I feel like that would be too heavy handed for this fabric. So far I've used a mix of mock-felled seam and French seams. So glad I did not try any of this late in the day!

French seams in the shoulders
My last step today was to attach the collar. This part at least is quite straight-forward. I interfaced the collar with washed silk organza. This gives it some body without being stiff.

Collar needs hand-sewing to fininsh
So far, so good, but fingers crossed.

On a sad note, I feel I must mention the passing of Nancy Zieman (1953-2017). I wonder how many sewists all over the world have been influenced by her via the long-running TV show, Sewing With Nancy. I know that she inspired me on many occasions. Years ago when I had not yet discovered the American Sewing Guild and there was no social media, I sewed in isolation. I could always count on Nancy's show to record on VHS and later DVR. I could never get up that early on Saturdays, but I played the recordings later and enjoyed them very much. I felt like I had a sewing pal. The largest quilt I ever made was based on one of her shows. I still love that quilt. You will be missed, especially on Saturday mornings  afternoons, dear Nancy.

Monday, November 6, 2017

White Linen Again

White linen is wonderful to cut, press, sew. This one started life as a large man's shirt - lots of potential. And it is currently a woman's linen shirt. It's like full circle. But the ride was such fun.

The MixIt top from Sewing Workshop is often my starting place with upcycled items. I like that it fits throught the shoulders and bust and then there's plenty of room below. The original shirt was plenty large for cutting out the MixIt Top.

Above I have the MixIt Front piece on top of both the left and right fronts of the original shirt. I aligned the fold line on the tissue with the buttons and buttonholes on the shirt. That is, I aligned the Center Fronts. So I did not disturb the buttons or button holes on the original shirt at this point, figuring to make my shirt button up the front too.

The back was cut on the fold, using the fabric below the original yoke. This was a BIG shirt. I rather like the shape of the man's shirt tail and so decided to keep it, removing only enough of the hem stitching to sew my side seams.

This shirt was big enough for me to cut long sleeves. I used the sleeve cap for the MixIt Top and the rest of the sleeve was cut from the MixIt Shirt. That is such a great, versatile pattern. I still had to reshape the lower portion of the sleeve a bit to smooth out the lumps. But I was able to keep the button placket from the original shirt.

Then I began to play with the leftovers.

The original yokes became sleeve cuffs, though I had to use a piece of white Kona cotton for the back side of the cuffs.

Oops. this needs pressing!
The original cuffs became my collar.

The original collar became my pocket.

And then I began to puzzle how I would deal with the buttonholes from the original shirt. Of course they remained on the left side of the shirt, as is traditional in men's shirts. That's awkward when you've been buttoning the other way for nearly 7 decades (!). And it was fun to think about options.

At Gail K in Atlanta I found these silver coin buttons. These are obviously not made from coins - they are too small to be nickels and check out the tiny ones I used for the pocket and upper sleeve placket. I love these little silver buttons. They remind me of my Texas roots for some reason.

My current solution to the closure puzzle is this: I used some of the scraps to make bias tubes and threaded the tubes through the button shanks. Then I threaded the tubes through the original button holes and tied a knot in the tubes on the back side. Also I added a new row of buttonholes to the right side of the front.

One added advantage to this solution is that I can easily remove (most of) the buttons when I launder the shirt. I thought it might feel wierd when I wear it, but it does not. So far. I can always change it. And that's one of the best reasons to sew.

Bottom Line:
Thrifted Shirt - $2.75
Buttons - $18.00
Time spent - Priceless? Yep.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Twice as Nice

Fear not; I'll wear this with a jacket.
A few weeks ago I took a class from Marsha McClintock of Saf-T-Pockets. As you may know, her focus is on travel garments with lots of pockets, many hidden, as well as reversable garments. In this class we made a reversable shell from her pattern Twice as Nice.

It would hard for a pattern to be easier and still worth the trouble. There is one tricky bit, but otherwise it's a straight-forward make.

It is composed of a front piece cut on the fold, a back piece cut on the fold, and an optional pocket. I did cut out the pocket but then decided to omit it.

a pocket from one of Marsha's sample tops
The top has armhole darts that are not illustrated anywhere on the outside of the pattern envelope. To me, that's a feature to be highlighted, especially in a sleeveless garment, so I am not sure why that was omitted from the drawings.

I chose fabric from stash for the class version. Both the purple and the black are cotton lawn - light enough to make a reversable shell.

The tricky bit is the clever way you attach the armholes of the two layers. The two layers are constructed as separate shirts through bust darts and shoulder seams. Then they are joined at the neckline in the usual right-sides-together method. Next the two shirts are attached in the arm holes, using a burrito method. I had seen this done with vests where the two sides of the fronts allow you to pull things through the shoulder opening, but I could not visualize it without the front openings. The geometry is counter-intuitive.

It was worth making a reversable garment just to try out the trick.

The vents and hemlines are to be joined together so I decided to leave the layers loose. I like that the other color shows.

It is a nice basic pattern and I like having those in stash to retrieve from time to time. It does not take much fabric so it's perfect for remaking an old garment.

A while back I made a tunic from this bright red linen. And then I seemed never to reach for it. Time for a remake.

This version looked most interesting in the scarecrow pose.
Following the class Marsha sent us a PDF pattern for a sleeve to add to this top. It is a short sleeve that I lengthened to 3/4 length. I did not make this one reversable. Marsha does include instructions for doing that but I am not sure I'd really like two layers on the sleeves even in a lighter fabric.

I was unable to cut either the front or the back on the fold which turns out to be a good thing. More vertical lines; more opportunity for sashiko.

It's plain. I think these will be good layering pieces and an opportunity for jewelry or scarves.

One tip: the front armscye includes clips for the dart legs, as well as a third clip for attaching the sleeve (or pocket). I managed to confuse those and only discovered it when I tried to match the sleeve notch to the garment notch. Next time I hope to watch for that.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Grainline Archer

The Grainline Archer shirt is a popular shirt. There are 129 (!) reviews for it on Pattern Review. And I do think it's a shirt pattern I'll make again.

The envelope contains two views. View A is the classic shirt with an inverted pleat off the yoke in the back. I made view B with its "lower back detail," that I would call a peplum. It is a little low for a peplum as I learned from other reviewer. So I raised it by 2 inches. That is, I shortened the back piece by 2 inches and lengthened the lower back piece by 2 inches.

There are many things to like about this pattern, starting with the instructions. They are contained in a convenient 8.5 X 5.5 brochure. I do hope this catches on. It is sooooo much easier to manage than those huge fold-outs I've used for years, decades. Also the instructions are well-written and clearly illustrated.

The seam allowances are 0.5 inch; that worked out fine as soon as I noticed it.

The pattern includes a separate right and left front. The left front has a cut-on button band and the right front has a separate buttonhole band. My fabric is this pretty Ikat cotton purchased from Topstitch in Decatur, GA. Initially I worried about matching the weave of my fabric both vertically and horizontally.

Finding center front seemed important. I searched and searched but found no center front markings on any pattern piece. Now that I've completed the shirt, it's fairly easy to determine CF. It's 2.5 inches from the raw edge on the left front; 0.5 inch on the right front; 1 inch on the buttonhole band.

I don't know why I worried about all of that. In the end, I did my best and I like the result.

The Archer, like a lot of shirt patterns, includes a bias-bound vent in the sleeve, rather than the classic placket. I love plackets on sleeves so pulled out my favorite shirt instructions for that and the yoke. Cutting Line Designs' the Blouse Perfected has the best instructions for these techniques, IMO.

This changed the size of the cuff so I putzed with that a while before adding a 3rd pleat to the sleeve. It's just barely noticeable, but I cut the yoke on the bias:

The next time I use this pattern, I'll make a few changes:

  • Shorten the sleeve by 1 inch.
  • Decrease the circumference at the wrist by about 2 inches.
  • If pattern matching is involved, I'll cut two left fronts. The buttonhole band is only needed if you are creating a contrast there.
  • I'll use 0.5 inch seam allowances from the beginning.

In sum, this is a really good pattern. Go ahead and try it. You can be the 130th reviewer on PR if you hurry!