Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Now Mending

It's that time of year - time to shift out-of-season clothes to a guest closet. And with that shift, I automatically evaluate the clothes I wear most and those I never wear at all. For me, it's fun to see if I can alter the ignored pieces so that I want to wear them again. It's typically some detail I add or subtract. And the details are often the most interesting part of sewing.

First up is my one and only Blouse Perfected, a terrific pattern from the Cutting Line Design. Now why haven't I made that again? It has all those wonderful details found in men's shirts. The fix in this one was easy - one of the buttons was broken. So I replaced the buttons and put the others away for another project.

I love dresses. On other people. Or so it seems. These two are based on a pattern from Indygo Junction, a dress with lovely deep side pockets. Both are linen which is wonderful to sew and to wear. First I added cap sleeves to the blue one and then I changed the angle of the side seam to curve in, just slightly. I do think the overall proportion is better on me with these two changes:

I also added sleeves to the black one, this time 3/4 length sleeves with a draw-string at the hem. As with the blue one, I reshaped the side seam, so that it angles in, rather than out. Now I'm thinking it might be fun to add a draw-string to the cowl collar edge too.

The Hadley shirt from Grainline Studios was last. I actually wear this top a fair amount but noticed that the sleeve hems end in the same horizontal line as the shirt hem. I don't need horizontal exaggeration, so I shorted those to bracelet length. This was not at all dramatic but I enjoy these sewing details. Don't you?

So now I'll never, ever throw away remnants from old projects.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Cottage Shirt

The Cottage Shirt is one of the newer patterns from the Sewing Workshop. I'm such a Sewing Workshop groupie that, of course, I wanted to make it right away.

Honestly I was not that taken with it at first. It seemed so similar to their Trio vest. But once I got into the project, I fell in love. The deep hems and vents are my favorite design feature.

It is a fundamentally different cut than the Trio Vest. It has details from men's shirts but exaggerated and stylish. The yoke is a traditional double yoke installed with the burrito method. The overall silhouette is a wide rectangular shape. This creates soft side folds when worn so that the hemline is not one continuous horizontal line. The deep hems and vents add just the right detail to the overall look.

The shoulder extends into a cap sleeve and there are cuffs attached. That part reminds me of the Eureka top which I've made a number of times. The Eureka has deep enough armholes that the bra tends to show. The Cottage has smaller armholes and a different armscye curve, making it a better summer top for me.

The high for today was 92F (33C) so I'm happy to have a new summer top. I omitted the collar, keeping the collar stand. That is cooler in the summer and I like the look. But I've seen some online made with the collar and those are pretty too. I will need to make it again, I'm sure.

This light weight soft linen from Marcy Tilton was just right for this top, I think. Because of the print and the soft hand, it hardly needs ironing. I can probably wash with cold water, hang to dry, and wear it.

I have another new Sewing Workshop pattern ready to cut - the London shirt. I've traced the pattern pieces and now I have to check out deep stash to see if anything will work. I'm feeling a little uncertain about those dropped shoulders. It reminds me of the extremely popular Liberty shirt with exaggerated details. I'm not always in love with extremely dropped shoulder lines, especially if it creates a little bubble where the sleeve joins the shirt. But, then again, I was uncertain about the Cottage shirt and I love it.

So what do you think about the London shirt?

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Cézembre à deux

Vs 1.0 cotton chambray
I needed to make it twice and now I have. I like the first one best, but I will definitely wear the white one. I'm always reaching for a white top and hoping I haven't spilled tomato sauce on it yet.

Vs 2 in light weight cotton pique
I first spotted this pattern while reading one of my favorite blogs - Camp Runamuck. She frequently highlights tops I would have never noticed otherwise. The Cézembre blouse is my latest. And I really like it. A lot.

Why? Because it fits through the shoulders and neckline (with a few tweaks). Because it has set-in sleeves. Because it has princess seams in the front and no side seams. Because it skims the rest of my torso. Because the name just rolls off the tongue. Try it.

I've already washed and worn the first one several times. It is so soft and I feel good in it.

The first one was made from men's shirts purchased at the thrift store. The fabric is chambray and is very soft.

Like denim it creates interesting fade and resist lines that are fun to incorporate. I am pretty sure these shirts were brand new and so the fabric did not soften or fade through use. The result is still like an old work shirt, but better.

When I picked off the chest pocket, the unfaded (resist) portion was obvious. So I decided to embrace it, flipping the pattern piece to create half of the front. I used the actual pocket as a mirror for the resist portion.

By carefully unstitching the fronts of one shirt, I was able to sew them together to produce the final front piece of my fabric. The resist dyes create pretty stripes, I think.

While I love wearing the chambray one, the neckline is a bit wide for my personal taste, so I changed that on the second one. This of course is my current go-to neckline, borrowed from the Egyptian shirt (folkwear patterns).

I am especially fond of the sleeves on the Cézembre. I think they are the perfect length even for hot weather. I am vain enough to avoid showing my upper arms unless the heat absolutely demands it.

I added a pocket to the second one in the same location as the first. It just did not work and so I removed it. And used the pocket to create the back patch.

Now I'm wondering. Would inseam pockets work with these princess seams, especially if I lengthen it to tunic length? Also it makes me itch to try something new with my old TnT - the MixIt top from the Sewing workshop. Might it be possible to move the side seams to the front of that and then incorporate the bust darts into the princess seam?

The princess seams as drafted on the Cézembre does not fully replace a bust dart. That is the only down side to this pattern, as I see it.

And, oh my goodness, I see another new-to-me pattern up over at Camp Runamuck. She should get royalties from my pattern purchases. Would you just look how cute the Teddy Tunic is? I wonder if I can order it stateside. And the pictured pants remind me of the Hudson pants from the Sewing Workshop. So casual and put-together.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Orange and Purple

I volunteer each Wednesday at a food pantry. It's quite a large operation, providing a market-style experience to about 200 families each Wednesday. Several times a year we volunteers participate in city-wide activities that raise money for our operation and others providing a similar service. And we receive brightly colored T shirts. This year's is bright orange and last year's was purple.

These T shirts are sized for men, wider through the shoulders and more narrow through the hips. I am not shaped like that and I never end up wearing these shirts. But I do like to combine them into a shirt that fits.

I was not terribly adventuresome with this project, using Grainline Lark T shirt pattern pieces. This is a basic (ladies) T shirt pattern that fits me. I cut the front and back from the body of orange T shirt (sized XL), and the sleeves from the body of the purple one (sized M).

Orange and purple is a cheerful color combination, I think. Makes me smile.

This is a good reminder to always have fun while sewing. This was all fun.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Blue Green Machine

Now that spring seems to be here to stay for a few weeks, I find myself wanting blues and greens in my wardrobe. When I finished my latest Tabula Rasa (Fit for Art) jacket in a blue-green cross dye, I wanted more.

Just about a year ago I finished a pair of Fit for Art Eureka Pants in green linen. I pulled the remnants out and realized I could just barely squeeze out a MixIt Top from the Sewing Workshop. This is my go-to top, especially when I make pants and have enough left over.

Since I've made it so many times, it goes together quickly. I fiddled around with the closure and may still come back to it. I also made the collar a bit taller.

I had always thought this green linen was a cross dye. It reads that way, but when I cut a square for the back I saw that it is not. I guess the threads are just multi-colored so that it reads less flat that a solid colored linen.

It looks a little stubby in this picture, but I think it'll look fine with the matching green pants. Or maybe it's too much green!?! Hope I don't look like Mr. Green Jeans.

Sewing with these colors is quite soothing. I think I'll make something else blue or green next, continuing with the spring theme.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Tabula Rasa Indeed

Tabula rasa means blank slate. And that is how I used it with this garment.

the plain version
This wonderful piece of fabric has been marinating in my stash for a number of years. It is a cross weave in light green and bright royal blue. It was purchased from Spanglish Fabrics. She travels to Guatemala and brings back gorgeous hand-woven fabric to sell. It's perfect for bags. There is not a lot of drape and it feels just a little coarse. But this piece needed to be a garment.

the cross-weave needed to be highlighted
Often I find that my sewing goal is to feature the fabric, even though this one is essentially a solid color. The Tabula Rasa pattern involves mostly narrow pieces, so it was just right for this 36" wide fabric. The sleeves on the pattern are the largest piece and I had to be careful to make sure I'd have enough for them. I did end up piecing the collar band with a small patch at the center back. You see it in the above picture because it is cut cross-grain and the rest of the band is cut on the length-wise grain.

Once finished the jacket was quite plain. It needed something. My first step to was to add the square patch at the back neckline. I had already added the little bias loop in the collar band seam.

I love working with bias binding and bias tubes and often look for spots to use them. Because this fabric does not have much give, I had to make some samples, particularly of the tubes. Below is a picture of my tubes and tools. I always start by trying to turn the tube with the Fasturn tube turner. It involves a metal tube and metal wire that slides inside the metal tube. There is a sharp pointed corkscrew shape on the end of the metal wire. So you cut the bias stripe and then stitch it together. For this particular fabric, I settled on a 1.25 inch wide bias strip, a 0.4 zig-zag stitch (otherwise the stitches pop when you're turning the tube), and I stitched it 3/8 inch from the fold (not from the raw edge).

Because this is hand-woven, the cork-screw end of the wire slipped out when I was mid-way through turning it. Dang. Luckily I was able to use the hemostat to reach inside the tube, grab the end and pull it the rest of the way out. I used both tools on every tube.

Then I fetched my favorite instructions for making a Chinese knot: Sandra Betzina's Power Sewing. I find her instructions to be the easiest to follow. And I never remember how it's done in advance! Here you can see how it starts:

The long end is off to the left.
This is how it looks after an *over* and an *under* with the long end:

At this point it's symmetrical and rather pretty, I think. I've been tempted to transfer this shape to a garment for embellishment, but I never have. The final step is to draw it up into a round knot. This take some finagling because it wants to draw up unevenly. It helps to have finger nails.

In the end I decided on a single Chinese knot closure, with a plain loop on the other side. I made sure that the Chinese knot finished with long tails. Then I opened up the collar band seams and inserted the raw ends of the Chinese knot on the wrong wide of the band, wrapped it around and hand-stitched in place.

To create the loop, I simply used one bias tube. I opened up the collar band on the other side, inserted raw ends of the bias tube on the outside, and hand-stitched it in place.

I don't know if I'll ever actually close it, but it was fun to make.

I had a Chinese knot left over. So I added a patch pocket with the extra knot attached.

You can also see that I created a vent in the sleeve that is bracelet length. A sewing friend said in a recent presentation that Coco always liked her jacket sleeves bracelet length since that's the skinniest part of a woman's body.

The inside of the jacket also has its own story with much bias binding in a very light weight Indian cotton. Stripes are so great on the bias. And I love the look of the Hong Kong finish when the inside is flashed.

Or if I want just a little flash, I can turn the sleeves up in a slight cuff.