Monday, December 4, 2017

Same song, second verse

Left is the new Jacket; Right is the old full-length coat!
I checked. And just now I double-checked. I made this jacket for my granddaughter almost 5 years ago. My daughter recently told me she had out-grown it. Well, yes, it had become a jacket instead of a coat and it had 3/4 length sleeves, almost elbow length. Sweet, sweet girl, she wore it way too long.

This time, I opted for assymetrical closure, rather than a double-breasted closure.
So here is a replacement. I now see that the original one was a full length coat when I made it. Over the years, as she kept wearing it, I thought it was a jacket. So this time I made the jacket length. This makes the proportions look a bit odd in the comparison, but I think she's really more of a jacket girl than a coat girl.

Kwik Sew 3818
Kwik Sew 3818 is not a quick make. It has a hood, an empire waist line, a sweet belt at the back, and it's double-breasted. The fabric is wool and I chose to line it with a silk-cotton blend called Radiance. Radiance has a satin side and a flat side. I love the weight of it and find it nicer in a coat than my go-to lining, Bemberg Ambiance.

The pattern does not include a lining so I simply made two coats - one from wool and one from Radiance. I followed the instructions which are quite thorough. I used my trusty Pam Howard jacket-lining techniques from our class, Jacket-making Boot Camp. I confused myself while attaching the sleeve lining but pushed through and finally got it right.

The pattern calls for a lined hood even though the jacket itself is not to be lined. The lined hood is sewn to the jacket and then the front and back facings are attached and enclose the raw edges on the neckline and hood. This required much grading and pressing, something else that I learned from my time in Pam's class. What a game-changer that class was!

Fingers crossed that this second coat is as well-loved, or maybe just half as well-loved, as the first one. I look forward to seeing her in it after Christmas. Like I said, fingers crossed. She's 11 and almost 12 now.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Gift 1

It is gift-making season for me. Is it for you?

It must be December. My Christmas cactus is blooming.
Each year Fiber Art Fusion, my small fiber art group, has a 5x7 challenge combined with a dinner party. Each artist is challenged to make one 5" x 7" piece of fiber art, wrap it in brown paper and bring to dinner. Each artist leaves with a piece of art from another member. I have a wonderful collection from 5x7's from previous years.

Such a small piece of art used to make me anxious, the first couple of years I participated. Now I look forward to it. It is not intended to be a master piece. Just a small gift for a fiber art friend. This year I'm incorporating my new-found love of eco-printing.

This is a red maple leaf printed on a piece of cotton sateen. I dipped the lower portion in a black walnut juice and added some darker brown with a Sharpee.

I added a slightly smaller piece of white cotton flannel to the back to give it body. The hand stitching started with parallel lines roughly 1/4" apart. Then I used size 5 Pearl cotton thread to embroider the stem and onto the base of the leaf. Next I added some burgundy French knots. Everything is better with French knots.

The backing is a piece of wool dyed with black walnuts. It is barely visible in the pictures. The cotton leaf print is attached to the brown wool at the top. Lastly I added some timtex to the back of the brown wool, securing a knotted bias tube to it for hanging.

It's satisfying to make something small.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Frankie Day 4

Frankie is done! Here are some of my final steps in my first journey with the new Frankie pattern from the Sewing Workshop (TSW).

Buttonholes and buttons, done. I'll live with these for a while. They were in stash so they needed a showing.

As Elaine on FB pointed out, the exterior of the sleeves is just right, but there is a remaining raw bit on the inside, right at the top of the vent. My French seams didn't help. I find it difficult to smoothly transition from a French seam to another seam finish. In the end I tried to fold under the raw edge and slip-stitch in place but it is a bit of a kludge.

The deep inverted pleat in the back is so pretty, I think. I decided to edge-stitch along the inside fold in the hopes of keeping it pleated as I wear and sit in it.

DH was sweet enough to take a picture of me. I guess this is how he sees me (he's quite a bit taller than I am).

So I did a selfie that may be a more accurate read on this shirt, or at least its proportions on my 5'5" frame. Or maybe it's just the way I see me.

Things I love:

  • Face-framing collar
  • Overlapping seams on the sides of the shirt, as well as the sleeves
  • Back pleat
  • Oh, my, this navy blue hammered silk!
  • The final result.

Things I love less:
  • Overall length was too much for me - I shortened it 3", making deep hems that I love.
  • I wish I had lengthened the sleeves an inch. Next time.
  • That raw bit at the top of the sleeve vent. If I had been working with sturdy fabric, I might have been able to finisse it better. Next time.
  • I should have made a narrow shoulder adjustment rather than fudging it. This pattern has wide shoulders, wider than my older TSW patterns. Next time.

This was a fun and challenging make.

Now it's time to make a few gifts.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Frankie Day 3

Please excuse that fold across the left front - just a random mis-press.
Progress continues on my first Frankie, a new pattern from the Sewing Workshop. I'm using navy-blue silk charmeuse that has a slight pebbled texture. At this point, it looks finished but it's not.

After hand-basting, I inserted the sleeves by machine. And I made a decision about the finish on those raw edges. I found some very light weight silk remnants in stash to use for binding them. I cut strips on the bias and machine sewed them to the raw edges of the set-in sleeves. I placed the bias strips up against the feed dogs so that the bias would not stretch too much. Now I'll wrap the binding around the raw edges and slip-stitch in place.

I also decided on a 3" deep hem on the body of the shirt. The pattern calls for a standard shirt tale finish which would have resulted in a 3/4" hem. This shirt is long - long even for a tunic. There was a time in my life when this would have been a dress. Sigh.

The fronts are cut straight on the cross grain and so I was able to easily create the 3" hem. I stay-stitched 1/4 inch from the raw edge and pressed at 3". Then I machine stitched the hem in place. 

The back hem required a bit more work. It is slightly shaped, dipping lower in center back. I could have just whacked it off straight across the grain, rendering it similar to the fronts. I'm glad that I remembered that the gentle curve adds elegance to the overall shape. So I marked 3" from the raw edge and cut it off, retaining the original curve. The piece removed became a facing by recutting it to match the smaller size of the remaining back hem area.

I attached the hem facing at the bottom with 1/4 inch seam allowance, pressed the seam open and then pressed it in place. As on the front, I stay-stitched the top of the hem 1/4 inch from the edge to make it easy to fold under and machine stitch.

Here you can see the finished back hem:

The choice to shorten this garment was not an easy one. The extra length in this tunic could be dramatic. And this navy blue silk is dramatic. But I feel sure I'll get more use from it in a traditional tunic length. And I love deep hemlines on a tunic, as it adds weight and drape.

The shoulders on this shirt run wide. I'm not sure why - it's not intended to be a dropped shoulder line. I checked the pattern tissue against a couple of Sewing Workshop patterns that fit me well and the Frankie shoulders are 3/4" wider than the others, all in size M. I was able to fudge 3/4" off the shoulder and still insert the sleeves. Otherwise this size Medium runs the same as other size Mediums I have made from The Sewing Workshop (TSW). Beware of the wide shoulders if you have a standard size in TSW.

I am pretty jazzed about this shirt at the moment, even though lots of work remains. The next step is buttonholes. Fingers crossed, mouth held just right. Send good karma, OK?

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.