Monday, January 31, 2011

Christine Jonson Travel Trio I - Tee Shirt

What fun to (re)discover some soft rayon knit I bought at Gail K a couple of years ago. It's almost like free fabric so it is the perfect fabric to test the T-shirt in Christine Jonson's Travel Trio I t-shirt pattern. Not only is it soft, it is easy to sew and I love the chocolate color. (The color doesn't reproduce well in these pictures.) And it fits! So it's a definite choice for the upcoming Pam Howard class, SWAP* Knits Wardrobe. Now I just need to steam my wool jersey and cut out the top, skirt (Pam's Flirt Skirt), and jacket (pattern TBD - maybe the wrap top in this same pattern envelope).

I tried out the Jean Muir hem technique that Ginny brought up at Sew Incredibles recently. This is also covered in Marcy Tilton's book, Easy Guide to Sewing Tops and T-Shirts. It definitely improves the hems, giving them more weight and definition.

I used an old TNT Stretch-N-Sew technique from the 70's for the neckline. It's strip cut cross grain 2 inches wide, longer than needed for the finished neckline. First sew the binding to the neck edge, about one-to-one using a 1/2 inch SA. The jersey stretches a little as you go and this creates enough *give* in the seam. Then wrap the binding to the inside and stitch-in-the-ditch from the top. It's OK to trim the inside but I think it's more secure with the remaining SA left intact.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Ginny's Gift Bag

Some months ago, dear friend Ginny gave me a lovely crocheted vegetable bag out of denim blue, one of my favorite colors. She also made a charming little batik bag to hold it. It was a gift for one of those big-oh birthdays that she and I each celebrated in 2010.

So when I was looking for a quick hostess gift to take to a party last night, I remembered the cute gift bag and set out to copy it. I made it out of two batiks - one red with frogs, and another olive-brown geometric patterned. I used an olive cord to gather it up.

First I cut each batik piece about 7 x 16 inches. Then I placed them RST (though with batik it makes no difference) and stitched the ends at about 1/4 inch. I also stitched down each side from the end about 1.25 inches. This forms the little flaps at the top edge. I clipped, turned and pressed. Then I returned it to the RST position. I grabbed the red piece in the center, forming a tee-pee so that the only red piece was folded onto itself RST. Next I stitched the red side seams up to about 1/2 inch from the flap stitching. It's important to stop about 1/2 inch from the previous stitching to leave room for the channel that gets gathered. I did the same thing for the olive piece, but I left an opening in one side large enough for my hand.

I turned it to the right side and shoved the lining inside the red outer bag. Then I pressed everything flat. You can see that in the picture where it is not gathered. I then formed the channel for the cording by first stitching across the top (creating a rectangle of stitch on each flap). Then I stitched in a parallel fashion about 1/2 inch down from the first line of the channel. This of course leaves the sides open for the insertion of the cording.

Inserting the cording was fairly easy. I looped it through twice to make it easy to open and close. When gathered (closed), there is enough for a bow. I edge-stitched the inside lining together where I had left it open for turning. It's *almost* reversible now.

Lastly I placed a piece of sweet-smelling handmade soap by Rena into the bag. Voila - hostess gift!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Olive Top continued

Work on my first Olive top is suspended, maybe indefinitely. I'm thinking it will be a cool top for my petite pregnant daughter. But will she wear it? I think it will look great on her with black leggings.

It's not so cute on a *mature* figure but I'm still working that angle too. This particular size S is definitely for DD, not me. I used black silk knit for the sleeves and they feel yummy. It's an odd pattern. I wasn't expecting it to be so form-fitting.

Given my funky fabric, I had to do something different with the neckline as well as the back. I'm fairly pleased with both. And of course there is no point in trying to do anything with the hem. It has to be left raw - otherwise the fun of the fabric is lost. So maybe this version is complete.

I've decided there may be more to this pattern than I first imagined. The angled seams are interesting. I've now made an official muslin - out of cheap interlock knit. I've moved up to a size M-L but I think it is still too closely cut for my figure. It's pretty snug on my dress form and she is much more toned than I am.

Maybe it's time to try a different pattern. But isn't the hemline fun?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Olive Top - Crazed Fabric

Some months back I bought some *novelty* knit. I only just realized how novel it really is. I'm not sure if that is exciting or maddening. The base fabric is black knit as can be seen in the picture below (back side of fabric showing). The front side (at left) of the fabric has strips of knit sewn vertically to the black backing. The strips are gray on one side and white on the other. They flop all over the place. I'm learning that I need to sew edges carefully to avoid strange corners of the strips popping out from the seam. Of course, I'm learning by unsewing :|

If I don't become overly anxious, this may turn into something fun. It's hard to control and I'm so glad I selected the Sewing Workshop Olive top for it. It has a minimum of seams. The pattern calls for an exposed zipper going down the back. I'm pretty sure I don't want an exposed zipper going down the back of this top. It is purely decorative anyway - the top slips right over your head. When I cut out the left and right backs, I purposely evened up the seam in anticipation of this.

The only trick to cutting was to be sure to AVOID flipping the pattern pieces over when laying it out. The left and right backs are quite different from one another even though I evened up the back seam. The front could not be cut on the fold for the same reason. Only the sleeves could be cut double.

This fabric was a little pricey so I only bought 1.5 yards - not enough for the Olive top. That's going to be OK though. I don't think I'd like extreme texture all over. The sleeves will be solid black jersey, as will the neck band. I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out, if I don't lose my mind in the process.

Is wine considered a sewing notion?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Christine Jonson pants pattern

For years, I've seen Christine Jonson patterns without paying close attention. Pam Howard and Sew Incredibles friend Karen caused me to take another look, and finally purchase one of her patterns. Pam is teaching SWAP Knits Wardrobe for ASG in 3 weeks, which I am hosting. I've been stock-piling knits and experimenting with them some in anticipation of this very popular class. Pam included CJ patterns in her list of possible knit patterns and so I decided to actually buy one. I chose Travel Trio One which includes pants with a yoke (like that) and princess seams (like that too). It also includes a basic T and a cardigan that I may try later.

I've just cut out the pants and read over the instructions. It looks very easy and fun. There is no way to test fit without essentially finishing the pants, given the way the yoke attaches, so I'll baste the side seams and hope that is where I need to adjust. I'm using some more of this fabulous ponte knit from Gail K which is such a pleasure to sew and (perhaps) forgiving if the fit isn't perfect. We'll see...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Verona Coat - (S) curves ahead!

These serpentine curves are some of the most extreme I've ever sewn. And they are simply an interesting detail on the interior of an otherwise staid coat - the Sewing Workshop's Verona Coat. The S curve is used where the front facing is sewn to the lining. I think the key is stay-stitch and clipping in the right places. I start by stay-stitching each piece about 1-2 threads away from the 5/8 inch seam line. Then I clip only the convex curves (valleys) on each side. The pattern included 2 notches on each side, which helped line things up. But with careful stay-stitching and clipping, it just melts together and sews like a dream. Of course, I have to sew slowly and remove pins as I approach them. The light-weight wool and Ambiance lining are pretty thin so I have to control my speed over or near the pins.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Verona Coat, version 1.1

The Verona Coat saga continues. Last night I completed the pockets with the pocket band made out of the wool used for the rest of the coat pieces. I *thought* that would be OK, even though the attractive pictures on the front of the pattern show it with contrasting pocket bands, as well as contrasting under collar. I wasn't OK with my idea. Too boring. The wool itself is sooooo understated (black and white shot wool that reads gray) that it just couldn't carry off self fabric on the pocket bands and the under collar. After I appliquéd the pockets onto the coat, I could see that I was not going to be happy with the result so I removed the pockets. I replaced the pocket bands with a textured silk piece from Gail K. It is actually a brown base with silver or gray threads and a few other more subtle threads creating a textured stripe. Because the pockets also looked a little longish to me, I didn't add the new pocket bands to the tops of the pockets. Instead, I wrapped the pocket bands around the tops of the pockets, like wide binding. After again appliquéing the pockets on, I was a happy sewer.

Last night's success led to a change in the collar this morning. I decided to make both the upper and lower collars from this gray-brown textured silk. I'm really please with the way the coat is shaping up now. I had already cut a collar from silver silk dupioni to use as the under collar, so I just used it as the interfacing. This textured silk piece is actually a bit sheer so that gave it more substance.

I tried an old Nancy Zieman trick for making the collar. First I decided that I wanted the stripes to run vertically at the front edge, just like the pocket bands do. This was going to require cutting the collar off grain, at a minimum. So instead of an upper and lower collar, I placed the opposite end of the collar on the fold, lining up the stripes and cut (in effect) a left and right collar. This requires a center back seam and the front edge ends up on the fold. It looks lovely right now. I hope that when I attach the lining and facing, I'm still happy with this technique. I think it's all in the grading and I won't know if that is OK until I attach the lining and facing.

I'm thinking that I may use some more of the brown-gray textured silk as some kind of cuff on the sleeves. I'll set the sleeves in first to see where they hit me on my wrist. Now I need to go read that article in the latest Threads - something about slow sewing. It can be very satisfying.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Year, New Project - The Verona Coat

With the new year well under way, and my sewing expenditures already mounting, I'm starting the Verona Coat with well-aged light-weight wool from the Wool House in Toronto. They always come to Atlanta for the Sewing Expo. I bought this piece almost 3 years ago. As I say, nicely aged. I made the Verona as a short vest in 2010 and have enjoyed wearing it. This time I'm following the instructions fairly closely. I learned some things on the vest - some things worked out great, some not so great (the join between the collar and the front edge, for example).

The wool is probably what's called tropical weight and has a nice hand to it. It's a joy to sew, very cooperative under the machine foot and pressed beautifully. It's a cross weave or shot, with black threads on the weft and off-white on the warp thread. The overall effect is of course gray. I tried using black dupioni silk as the contrast in the collar and pocket top but it's too stark so now I've decided on using the wool for all pieces. It may result is a rather boring garment (I hope not!) but I'm pretty sure I'll get more use out of it this way.

OK, wrong, I'm not following the instructions perfectly. I already dislike the pocket - it is unlined. This would be fine with some fabrics, but this light-weight wool needs lined pockets, so lined they are! They look a lot longer than in the picture but, for now, I'm sticking with them.