Thursday, April 8, 2021

Hey, Spring!

When I first moved from the northeastern US to the southeastern US, I noticed that no one said "Hello" or "Hi." Instead, people said "Hey." I think it's very southern. And now I say "Hey."

Hey, spring. I am grateful for spring this year, as I hope you are. It feels long-awaited after the year-plus of COVID. And I am loving color. Rich, saturated, vibrant color.

This ensemble jumped out of stash because I wanted color to fit the season. I have a number of other tops and bottoms that work well with these two pieces.

The top is the modified Liberty Shirt from the Sewing Workshop, a technique I first learned from Elaine of the Curvy Sewing Collective

Hers are primarily knit tees. My first version as a pull-over was in a rayon-wool boucle with some stretch. 

This fabric is mostly silk with a touch of lycra. I tend to avoid such combinations but, somehow, there it was in stash. Probably I could not resist the colors and pattern. They are glorious, aren't they?

The shirt is quite plain with a simple jewel neckline bound with bias-cut black silk dupioni, as are the sleeves. It fits over my head though a bit snugly. I may enlarge the neckline at some point, but it is not a struggle.

The angled front seams that create an uneven hemline are the best feature of this pattern, IMO. You can almost see the black piping I inserted using the same black silk dupioni. 

The pants are also made from stash fabric, a nice medium weight linen, the kind that rumples but does not wrinkle. That color in pants is a bit bold for me, as I tend towards black, navy, dark brown bottoms, but this had to be. 

Linda Lee mentioned that the Sewing Workshop's new jogger pants were drafted on the Kinenbi pants which, of course, I have in stash. I made them once.

I re-cut them to my new size and added fun pockets. 

The kinenbi pants have a cut-on waistband. I removed that and used a separate waistband. I prefer this method with most pull-on pants, because the waistband can be cut on the lengthwise grain. This makes insertion of the elastic much easier because there is no somewhat-bias cut edge to finagle. 

As I finished these, I noticed that the front of the Kinenbi pants is wider than the back. Evidently I did not notice that the other time I made these. It's a little strange so I double-checked the tissue. 

Yep, the front waist is more than an inch wider than the back.  I wonder if this was deliberate, perhaps done for stylistic reasons?

This does cause me to do some slight contortions to use my pockets, but it's OK. I probably won't use this pattern again for pull-on pants. From the Sewing Workshop line, I prefer the Quincy pants. But I do really like these pants. They are loose without being sloppy, I think.

This ensemble welcomes spring for me. How are you welcoming spring, if you are in the Northern Hemisphere, or autumn in the Southern Hemisphere?

Monday, April 5, 2021

Ikina 2

Ikina 生名村
a village in Japan that has been combined with another and no longer exists alone

Is it a kimono? a haori? a yukata? Well, perhaps none of these. Clearly it is inspired by Japanese clothing aesthetics and I am always enamored of that. 

Haori made for my daughter using Folkwear's Japanese Field Clothing

I was lucky to visit Japan for a couple of weeks 15 years ago. I would go back in a heart beat. It's beautiful and the people are lovely and friendly. But the biggest draw to me is their love of simple beauty, sometimes not as simple as it seems, always beautiful.

My favorite haori from Folkwear's Japanese Field Clothing

The original Ikina from the Sewing Workshop was a short jacket with interesting side flanges. 

I made it twice. The first time, I lengthened it almost to the floor. I made the side flanges slightly shorter, and the front collar band shorter still. It came out of a workshop here in Atlanta with Nancy Shriber's guidance. We brought fabrics that inspired us and she guided us in planning an artful design.

The second one was a trip back to the weeks leading up to my mother's death from liver cancer, more than 20 years ago now. I bought her a 3-piece ensemble from her once-favorite dress shop in Dallas, hoping she would be able to wear it and feel pretty. The pieces were unlined coordinating linens, fresh, pretty. I think she wore it for a while just to please me.

This second one omitted the side flanges, so it is most similar to the Ikina 2, recently released by the Sewing Workshop. I cut up the 3 pieces in Mother's ensemble and pieced this jacket together. I seem never to have anything to wear with it, but I will not let it go.

Another haori from Folkwear's Japanese Field Clothing, this one made in silk jaqard from SF's China town.

The 2021 Ikina 2 is about 10 inches longer than the original Ikina, in addition to eliminating the side flanges. Little else has changed, as far as I can tell. 

In the drawing, it looks more like a conventional set-in sleeve, but it is decidedly a kimono sleeve, with a slightly shaped sleeve head, much like a man's shirt. Except for the collar band, none of the Ikina pieces are rectangles, as they are in a traditional Japanese haori or other kimono-like garment. The shoulder seams are also shaped and there are neckline darts in the back. There are separate cuffs.

my Ikina 2

The original pattern called for cutting the front collar panel on the bias, taking up a lot of fabric for very little effect, I think. The new version has a more narrow collar cut on straight-of-grain. It hugs the neck and sits in a more flattering manner than the original did.

I did like those flanges, though. Such an interesting take on an otherwise simple garment. I may need to make that version again.

For the Ikina 2, the Sewing Workshop is promoting kits with printed rayon challis. This creates a feminine, relaxed, yet chic look. My first choice was a rayon challis I purchased at Gail K here in Atlanta.

Then, in the middle of the night, I remembered a piece of crisp cotton in stash. During early spring, I enjoy wearing a light weight third piece that I can shed as things warm up in the afternoon. This cotton piece will better fill that role for me as it coordinates with so many of my existing pieces.

Ikina 2 with Liberty pull-over and kinenbi pants

The black and white fabric is a crisp cotton, possibly Japanese. The weave reads window-pane checks and has floats on the back that may prove problematic. I'll see how it wears. I may decide to line it, though I prefer it unlined.

Linen black and cream pin-stripe became piping, after trying out a few others:

This silk check was nearly invisible next to the main fabric.

The pin-striped linen is *vintage* stash fabric. Before cutting large swaths of bias for the piping, I cut out a Eureka top to make later. That may prove foolish as this fabric is ideal for trim and not really a great color for an entire garment on me.

I did not have white rat tail on hand and so this piping is flat. I'm actually happy with that, as there is less bulk to deal with at seam intersections. 

Here, sewing the front bands, starting with the lower front hems and meeting at center back.

Inserting the piping took some time. I wanted the plaid to match across the jacket fronts and collar bands. Also I wanted the piping to spiral in opposite directions on left and right fronts. I took it slowly and did not have to use the seam ripper overly much. That's good because those floating threads can be challenging to avoid when ripping.

As I worked on the front collar bands, I considered how I might use piping on cuffs or even faux cuffs. In the end, I was worried the jacket was beginning to look like a bathrobe and thought the additional piping on sleeves would tip the scales. There are moments when I hold back on details. Less is more. Sometimes.

I have 3" deep hems on the 3/4 length sleeves, as well as the bottom hems. I faced the side vents, smoothly covering the side seam transition and giving the vents some weight. It was an opportunity to use Linda Lee's method of mitering, a go-to technique for me.

For seam finishes, I used a mock flat-felled approach. I have a tuck on one underarm where the 4 seams come together. I worked the flat-felled seams from each direction, meeting at that intersection. It's one of those cases where you are sewing into a hole.

I'm not surprised that a tuck resulted. At least it did not happen on both sides. I'm still carefully removing stitches until I can find enough room to ease everything in. It may all be hand-work. It is hard to control the sewing machine in such instances, I think. There is always a blind side in machine sewing.

I have a few details to add. It needs a back neckline patch. And pockets, too. I'm very short on remnants but may be able to squeeze out 1 or 2 pockets. I'll only do so if I have enough to match the pattern. 

There will be no sashiko on this piece. The weave is too dense. It was difficult enough to hand-stitch the front collar panels down.

True confession - I did not purchase the new Ikina 2 pattern. Instead I modified my original Ikina pattern, lengthening it and re-drafting the front collar band. It was not difficult. And I had such a good time making it!

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

A Few Basics

It's more fun to begin a project with star potential. You know, the piece that outshines whatever sits under it, over it, or around it. But there are times when I discipline myself to make some basics. And the truth is that it satisfies my creative cravings equally well.

Navy cotton-lycra knit Urban tee with Helix pants in a fairly beefy rayon knit.

Recently, I finished two successful tees that I will undoubtedly wear a lot. First up was a cotton knit tee in navy blue. The fabric is inexpensive, easy to sew and comfortable to wear. I returned to the old Urban tee shirt.

I tried to use it recently as just a basic tee - front, back, 2 sleeves - and I failed. My calculations went awry. So this time, I kept the basic design and eliminated the front cascading drape. I was a bit gun-shy in the drafting of my new size with the added adjustments for a simple asymmetrical center front seam. And it worked!

I am fairly certain I'll make the Urban tee shirt this way again, perhaps with cap sleeves for warmer weather. It works on its own or as a layering piece. I am extremely fond of the little pocket though it's only deep enough for a tissue. 

Even the neckline worked out great. I used Linda Lee's 7/8 rule for measuring the neck binding and it fit beautifully. 

With knits, the stretch and recovery varies widely. I find it daunting to sew with them. This cotton-lycra knit from my favorite local fabric store - Gail K - has good recovery and sufficient stretch. It does not have sufficient stretch to consider pants, but just right for a tee shirt. 

I used the same fabric in a yummy chocolate brown for a swing tee, blogged previously. It's a bit long for layering under every jacket it matches, but a great shirt nevertheless.

Next I made a black rayon jersey tee using a favorite pattern - the Odette - also from the Sewing Workshop. I have mixed feelings about rayon, but it looks and feels great. It was easy to sew too. I washed the fabric on cold and dried briefly. I know that it will not remain black long if I continue to machine wash it. But I do hate to have it dry-cleaned, which is neither dry nor clean. And it's not low maintenance. For now, I love it.

The Odette is a good tee shirt pattern because it has interesting lines but still fits nicely under a jacket or vest. I made a white one a while back and constantly reach for it. This will be a favorite too.


I had to carefully label the front side of my fabric after cutting each piece of each of these tee shirts. Both are jerseys and so the horizontal stretch curls to the right side. Also both have different left and right fronts. The Odette is more complex than the Urban, with many more pieces. 

I am also continuing to recycle pants that are too big on me. I find that very satisfying . The red ponte knit pants were not only too big, but they were faded. When I took them apart, I used the other side for the front and now they look fresher and brighter. 

I no longer had any remnants from it (what was I thinking?) so I had to use a different ponte for my added waistband. Since my waistband never (ok, almost never) shows, that's OK. They are so comfy!

Here are the red Helix pants - the cropped version - with a favorite layering piece, Hearts A Flutter from Cutting Line Designs.

I thought I had the Helix pants just right. I added a waistband and adjusted the rise to accommodate that. But just when I think I have got it, I use a ponte with different amount of stretch. I was thinking that ponte is ponte, but not at all. This one has about 5-10% stretch (I now realize).

This ponte is from Marcy Tilton. I love the muted multi color design, black, navy with a touch of light brown. It works with many of my tops and even jackets. Now that I've worn them a bit, I know I need to make further adjustments. I will start by scooping the crotch because that is where it is uncomfortable. Fingers crossed.

Lastly, I uncovered some nice wool knit in stash, probably from Gail K. I stitched them into super comfortable and slimming Helix pants. These are a success all around. And the weather is up and down, so even though it's April tomorrow, I can still wear them some. I'll be happy to pull them out again when it turns cooler. 

I washed a piece of this wool knit and even dried it. It does not look bad but I do think I may take these to the dry cleaners. There is just something about wool that makes me leery of machine washing. I think over time they may become wimpy with less recovery and more wrinkling.

These are hemmed with a bias strip of black silk dupioni, one of my go-to trim fabrics.

There is enough left for a topper of some sort. I was sad to discover that the fabric contains moth holes, another reason I washed it. It was pretty easy to cut out the pants and miss the holes. Making a topper with the damaged fabric will give me an excuse for some boro or kantha mending.

I am ready to sew for spring. It is still that in-between time here when you need a jacket in the morning and short sleeves in the afternoon. Perfect time for these basics, but my creative juices are ready for color! Perhaps we all are ready for bright color, as the promise of a post-COVD time seems possible.