Thursday, September 22, 2016

Pattern Hacks

You see pattern hacks all around the internet. Mine is not especially different but it was fun to puzzle out.

The bias binding hasn't been pressed, so it is a little bubbly.

It started when I saw a blog post at The Sewing Workshop (TSW) involving a variation on their Eureka top. This is such a simple pattern - front cut on fold, back cut on fold, and sleeve cuffs - so it is perfect for some easy hacks.

The folks at TSW worked with knits, as well as some Alabama Chanin techniques and the results are quite lovely. So I dutifully followed their instructions to create new pattern tissue. That's when I realized that such an approach would not let me use some pretty remnants I wanted to use. So I started over with blank front and back pattern tissues. The tissue was cut for the full front and the full back.

Next I placed a remnant underneath the pattern tissue and determined where my slicing of the pattern tissue should occur. I drew a line on the pattern tissue following a straight edge on the remnant. That way, the slicing was based on the specific remnants I had. After each slice, I added tissue for the 5/8 inch seam. Sometimes I added 1.25 inches to one seam in order to max out my use of a particular piece of fabric. This was a fun puzzle to solve.

Finally I put it all together. I am fairly pleased with the result. The drape is very different with a woven fabric than with the knits that TSW used. My fabrics are cotton (black and white shot), silk dupioni (solid black) and a Japanese cotton print.

I also have been *hacking* on a completed pair of pants. These started life as a nice basic (yawn) pair of Valencia pants in a pretty gray textured linen. No sooner had I finished them than I somehow brushed up against some bleach, leaving an ugly spot in a prominent place.

Another Eureka in a pin-striped woven fabric, Valencia pants in gray shot linen.

The spot was not in a particularly great place for a pocket, so I added a hand-appliqued patch using remnants from the linen. Then I added some additional patches so it would not look so odd. It was OK. In fact the patches are pretty hard to see.

But every time I put them on, I took them back off again. They just seemed frumpy to me.

So the next step was to create 6" darts in the hem at each side. These pants have no side seams and that created a slight lantern shape. I liked that better but it still needed something else. So finally I added a 1 inch horizontal pleat right above the dart, and a pocket (why not?) near the waist band. The pants now hit me right above my ankle, as this shortened them by a total of 2 inches.

You have to look closely to see the patches on the left side. You can see the pocket on the right side.

I like these a lot, way more than the original pants. I think I like pattern hacking.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Postmortem on a Travel Wardrobe

For the first time in recent memory, I spent time planning my wardrobe for travel. And it was fun!

pocket purses that are large enough to hold glasses, phone (for pix), passport and credit card

I made sure that every top had multiple pants to match and the reverse. I also kept checking, right up until we boarded the plane. I was in denial. I so wanted it to feel like crisp fall weather.

Part of my deception stems from my first trip to Europe in my twenties. I was living in Austin TX where it is hot, hot, hot in June. We went to Germany and it was cold (to me). I layered clothes that should never have been layered. I have traveled overseas quite a bit since that first trip but the idea that Europe was cold stayed with me.

As it happens, the geography and weather in Europe varies. Duh. What is a trip overseas if it is not an opportunity to learn a little geography? I now know that my current home town and Seville Spain are at approximately the same latitude. And we've had a very hot humid summer. In fact it still feels like summer here in the middle of September.

So here is what I wore a lot, rinsing the pieces out over night.

I also wore a pair of white canvas pants a lot but they are still in my laundry.
L to R:
Sewing Workshop MixIt Top in cotton print
Sewing Workshop Urban pants in cotton cross weave (black and white)
Sewing Workshop MixIt top in white shirting
Sewing Workshop Eureka top in cotton pique
Here is what I wore some.

L to R:
Sewing Workshop Ivy tunic in organic cotton knit
Folkwear Egyptian shirt in linen (plus Gaudi scarf, a fun souvenir of the trip)
Sewing Workshop Helix knit pants (2) - one in red, one in black
Sewing Workshop tunic in rough black cotton
Grainline Studio Lark tee in rayon stripe
Here is what I could have left at home.

L to R:
Sewing Workshop tunic in china silk
Sewing Workshop Plaza pants in 4-ply silk
Sewing Workshop Now shirt in cross dyed silk
Sewing Workshop Hudson top in cotton Ikat
Cutting Line Designs Hearts A Flutter shell in 4-ply silk
And here is what I wanted to wear and never did.

Sewing Workshop Soho coat shortened to a jacket.

A raincoat only works if it is (a) raining and (b) cool. It did rain one day but there was no way I was wearing a coat. An umbrella was the only thing that made sense.

My shoe choices worked just great:

Gray Vionic flip-flops, the most comfortable and supportive shoe ever.
Black leather Vionic ballet slippers - great for dinners and other evening activities
Sketchers in cream lace with add'l orthodics - the best for cobble stone streets and standing in museums 
And I was ever so glad that I packed some talc - great for stinky shoes and other spots!

Lesson learned - the weather won't be ideal but it should not get in the way, either. I had a great time!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Sewing on My Mind

Alcazar, Seville, Spain

When I am not sewing or cannot sew, I am constantly dreaming of sewing. I see people in interesting clothes and I try to determine how they are made. I see colors, shapes, textures, and I wonder how those could be translated into sewing.

Figs in the market, Barcelona, Spain

Spices, nuts, sweets in beautiful fall colors, Market in Barcelona

La Pedrera, Gaudi house in Barcelona, Spain

You, too?

Seville, Spain, hotel steps

And I'm always on the look-out for fabric stores. Funny thing - when I found one, then another would appear. They seemed to cluster.

Julian Lopez, Seville Spain
Three pieces came home with me from stores in Madrid and Seville. I wish I had bought more!

Cotton and lycra knit, black cotton pique, viscose knit (border print, mostly black)
And did you know that you can buy patterns in a newsstand? No English spoken but *Pattrones* was the magic word! Each of these is chocked full of patterns to trace and cost 5 Euro each. What a deal.

And now I am ready to return to my normal life!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A Shirt with No Name

One of the fun things about going to a workshop with Linda Lee or Louise Cutting is that you often get a peek into what's cooking in the kitchen. During Sew Kansas last month, we got to see samples of 3 different tops for future patterns. One of these was this shirt:

I understand that this one might become an e-pattern, as it is pretty simple. It would probably be ideal for that as it has just a few pieces and the fitting is minimal. I really like that they used a cross-dyed linen for the main fabric and a coordinating solid for the little inserts at the side. Towards the end of the workshop, I was allowed to trace it onto pattern tissue.

This shirt or tunic has dropped shoulders, bateau neckline, wide 3/4 length sleeves, and narrow side panels instead of side seams. And it runs big, as you can see in my picture above. I understand that I was trying out the size Medium.

Let's call it the Marseille.

Yesterday I sewed my own version of the Marseille, out of a rough cotton fabric.

I made a few changes and one of those was intentional. Since making the Egyptian shirt from Folkwear recently, I've wanted to try that exposed shaped facing again. So I created a similar external facing for the Marseille pattern, roughly following the shape of the Folkwear shirt.

I forgot that the hem was uneven, so I evened it up. Darn! That would have been cute. So now I need to make another.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Eureka, Again

I'm preparing for a trip and it's going to be warm, so I'm adding a few hot-weather items to my closet. The Eureka seemed a natural as I really like my most recent rendition in a navy rayon pin-stripe.

The new one may be just a little too plain. I started out with some ideas for changing it up a bit. First I added 3 inches to the length, thinking it might work as a tunic. It didn't.

A little *pocket* bag just finished too.
I tried it on before attaching the cuffs and instantly thought, oh, no, scrubs. Definitely not the look I was after. It had to be shortened. But I also think that the green cotton pique is just a little too flat. The texture of the rayon pin-stripe is much prettier.

Then I created a V-neck but my idea was not totally successful. I realized that, it there is a sharp turn across the shoulders, then it is nearly impossible to force the bias binding to hug the neck. The neckline in the Eureka is a narrow oval, rather than a more rounded jewel neckline.

In sum, the garment is just OK. I think that, mid-trip, I may be very happy to have it on hand.

I am ready to sew for cooler weather now. I am certainly ready to put hot weather behind me. What about you? Are you sewing for the coming season?

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Egyptian Shirt - one more picture, by request!

Here is the Egyptian shirt on me. See previous post for the details. Thanks for the kind comments.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Revisiting the Egyptian Shirt

Folkwear pattern #104 Egyptian shirt

This is one of those folkwear patterns that is mostly composed of rectangles. It is fun to make something like that from time to time especially with a fabric that has a distinctive weave. 

The fabric is a yummy linen I purchased from a local custom clothier who was cleaning out the stash in her studio a few years ago. It is very soft, not at all stiff like some linens. I don't know how to describe the weave, but perhaps you can tell from the pictures. It would be too sheer to use in this fashion if not for the geometric shapes in the weave. It is still a little sheer, but the front facing distracts. And I think it works on this BIG garment.

The facing on this is shaped for traditional applique and then lots of embroidery. One day I'll have to try that! The first two times I made this (years ago), I reversed the facing, stitching it to the outside. This time I wanted to focus on the weave of the semi-sheer fabric and so placed the facing on the inside. Also the facing is made from plain cotton batiste so that the linen weave is undisturbed.

The instructions are to press the edges of the facing 1/4 inch before attaching. Then you are to attach the facing, trim, clip, flip, press and top-stitch in place. I think they missed a step. I prefer to stitch 1/4 inch from the edge and then press inside. I think it would be very difficult to get a pretty curve otherwise. Other that this change, I constructed the facing in the same way.

I tried a few experiments with this. The first one was to add some white pearl cotton stitching to the front bib area, similar to that on the pattern. It was easy to take out, luckily.


I also tried a few closures before settling on these loops made from bias tubes. Now I'm wondering if the buttons are not quite white enough. 

Seams were/are a little worrisome with this fabric. I am hoping it does not fray with use and washing. I might consider dry-cleaning or hand-washing. I used a combination of faux flat felled seams and French seams, so everything is tidy inside and out. I hope it stays that way!

These side seam pockets are easy to construct.

Looking back over these pictures, I'm realizing that my favorite aspect of the pattern may be the shape of the front facing. That would be easy to adapt to other more fitted garments.