Monday, August 29, 2011

PJ tops

Though the styles definitely are worlds apart, I made a peasant style top to go with my zero-waste monpei pants. These are PJs so the goal is comfort, not style. I've already worn these PJs twice and they are definitely comfy. I look a little like an aging flying nun, but I am comfy. That's a good thing.

This top gave me a chance to try something I learned from blogger Off The Cuff: how to sew a "designer" casing for elastic. That little edge-stitching before inserting the elastic just makes all the difference at a neckline. It doesn't roll and makes nice even gathers. That idea is a keeper.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Aspiring to Zero Waste

Final waist from front
The Zero Waste movement in fashion continues to be interesting to me. I made my first waste-free garment last summer (as an aside, it was also waist-free). It was just an experiment but I find that it is my go-to summer top. So waist-free or waste-free, I think I rate that one a success.

The monpei pants pattern found in the Folkwear Japanese Field Clothing pattern can be waste-free. I've wanted to try it out to see what is sacrificed when simple pull-on pants are constructed waste-free. Unlike the super-clever and well-schooled designers who manage attractive, fashion-forward approaches in their waste-free design, these pants are composed of  simple rectangles. This of course makes it fairly easy to be waste-free, especially if you have traditional Japanese fabric which is 14-17 inches wide.

I thought this pattern might work well as PJ pants, and I definitely wouldn't want to experiment with an unusual pants design using costly Japanese fabric, even if I had some. I did happen to have some semi-sheer, soft cotton with an interesting texture. I wondered if I could squeeze PJ pants out of the fabric left over from cutting a PJ top.

It barely fit - so I guess these really are zero-waste.

So how do you construct pants out of rectangles? Basically you cut 4 rectangles that are long enough for your pants, and wide enough for your hips or waist, whichever is larger. Then you cut a wedge out of the two back rectangles right at the hem. This wedge is flipped up and sewn back back onto the pants to form the crotch. A gusset. So cool.

Gusset in progress

Finished gusset
Then each back leg is sewn to each front leg. Of course, given the removed and reattached wedge, the grain of the back legs is off at the bottom. But this actually gives it an interesting shape there too. There is a small patch pocket on the front and pleats are formed in the waist of both the front and back.

Once the front and back legs are attached at the inner seam, then the crotch seam is sewn. So now only the side seams remain. They are sewn from the hem to within about 6 inches of the waist. This is left open. A combination waistband-plus-ties is sewn to the top of the fronts, and another is sewn to the top of the backs. The back ties are supposed to wrap around to the front and tie; the front ties are the opposite.

The ties did not work for me. Just too uncomfortable. I could barely stand to look at them on me.

And the crotch depth was too shallow for me.

pants from back
So I took the waistband off, sewed up the side seams, attached another waistband one-to-one to the top of the pants, then used the old waistband to make a tie to thread through the waistband.

Much better now. I can pull up the drawstrings to have it sit on my hips, not at the waist where the shallow crotch depth becomes a problem.

Maybe I'll make another pair and try to adjust the crotch seam so that it is longer. The only thing needed is a longer rectangle. Still not a perfectly fitted pair of pants, but certainly interesting and fun!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Little Projects

Corduroy skirt for DGD1

Hem ruffle

Inspired by sewing buddy Rena in my ASG neighborhood group, I made this simple pull-on skirt from my grandgirl. It is the same light-weight corduroy as her younger cousins dress. It's always a bit challenging to make something for DGD1 as she lives so far away. I hope it fits!
Odd quilted bag


Then there is this odd little quilted bag. I needed to practice some free-motion quilting in preparation to quilt a huge quilt of mine. I had fun messing around with little quilt sandwiches and even sort-of like the quilting that results. BUT then I could not just throw away all these little practice sandwiches. I bound the lower top edge, stitched the sides together, added more binding, loops and a corded strap. Quick and fun.
BTW, I decided against free-motion quilting on a huge quilt. I can just imagine my shoulders up around my ears, my mouth pinched, my eyebrows knitted together. Not really too fun. I just strapped on my walking foot and did the huge quilt that way.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Music Box Jumper

Recently while visiting my favorite little quilt shop in Atlanta, Intown Quilters, I purchased a pattern from Oliver and S, the Music Box Jumper. I also bought some light-weight corduroy, and coordinating striped cotton to make the piping. DD was with me and helped make the selection.  That's something I really like about Intown. She carries more than simply quilt cotton.

There were a few challenges with the pattern. The markings for the front pleat on View B have to be wrong. I had to sew-and-rip several times to get the front skirt to fit the front yoke. And then the notches for the front yoke are missing from the pattern tissue. And then the online description says that the pleat is in the BACK. All of this was a little frustrating but really not that big of a deal.

It did turn out pretty cute, I think. And DGD-H wore it her very first day of Kindergarten. What better endorsement is there?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Can These Pants Be Saved?

Sometimes I overwork a piece. The Sewing Workshop Quincy pants pattern is my latest example.

I made and like the Quincy top. It is loose fitting and so I'll use it more as a jacket than a top, though I had intended it as a top. I'll make the top/jacket again.

Not so with the pants. Though I made them with my usual (for TSW) large, they were HUGE on me. I'd like to think I've lost weight, but alas, the scales indicate otherwise.

And so, innocently, the (over)work began.

First I removed the elastic inserted at the waistline in order to take in the side seams. Then I unsewed the side seams and resewed with an extra one-half-inch of seam allowance - that is, a total reduction of 2 inches in the hips! I slipped them on without the elastic - still pretty loose.

So then I thought - how about a vertical tuck down the front and back of the pants. Yeah, those vertical lines are always nice.

I'm fairly certain the vertical tucks threw off the grain, even though I thought I was very, very careful to keep it on grain. Too bad I didn't get a rear-view picture BEFORE. But pictures don't lie anymore than my scales do. There are drag lines across the butt. Gotta be a grain problem.

Perhaps I need a new seam ripper. Or is this a wadder?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Vest Revisited

This is my second vest using Mary Ray's techniques. I think it may be my first success. I just realized that I never posted the finished first vest. I think it may be related to my dissatisfaction with that one. Both use Nancy Erickson's FSG 1945. This is a TNT pattern for me after taking a fitting class with Pam Howard in 2010.
This one combines my better understanding of Mary Ray's techniques with a piece I made in order to teach Sewing With Curves in my ASG neighborhood group. It was my demo piece for brute-force-curved piecing. I had imagined it as a summer top. The brute-force-method threw off the grain so much that it was never a satisfactory piece for a top. Following Mary Ray's class here for ASG, I realized it might work using her techniques.

Mary's quilting technique requires that only the lining layer be on grain. The top-layer may be in any direction and the quilting process stabilizes it all. I used a quilting technique - foundation piecing - in my first quilted vest. Way too stiff.

Back After
For this one, I cut up the curved pieces from my demo so that I could distribute those meandering rivers over the vest in a somewhat balanced manner. Then I worked on the center back pieces. I found that my choice of fabrics to piece was too busy.

So after simplifying that, I moved on to the other pieces. I had to adjust in a few other areas too. The vest is lined with Berberg Ambiance. This is great stuff for a bottom layer in a quilted garment. Fluid. Light. Especially with Mary's recommended batting: Hobbs Premium Wool. 

But the lapels fold back and it would not do as a surface fabric. Initially I thought I'd use the cotton batik that is dominant on the piece for both the top and bottom layer in quilting the lapel. This felt heavy and stiff, so I pulled out a remnant of a solid brown linen-rayon blend. It is soft and the solid color provides a nice resting place for the eye. It also shows the curved quilting nicely.

Using Mary's version of the Hong Kong seam, I finished each seam with china silk. I also used a larger bias strip of this to finish the hem. The armholes are finished with a narrow bias strip in the dominant batik fabric so that it blends. The front edge is finished with a different batik - sort of a curved stripe. I included a bias loop on one side of this edge so that I could use a large button as a closure.

Mary covers a great technique for single layer jackets with collars and lapels. It is in Threads issue #100. I used this on my previous vest, but decided I'd rather omit the collar on this one. When the weather is cooler, I think I'll like it with a turtle neck. 

Now I'd better get started on back-to-school sewing for my grandgirls!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Aspirational Chop

I aspire to Art. I make clothes, though mostly from patterns created by others. Maybe someday I will be an artist who makes wearable art.

In the meantime, I'm working on a label to put in (some of) the clothes I make. The garment I am currently working on is as close as I get to wearable art. It is my first garment since taking Mary Ray's class. Her garments are as beautiful inside as out and include her trademark label. So I thought I'd work a bit on my *chop.*

A while back I took a class with June Colburn entitled "Making Your Own Chop." We were to design a chop, a Japanese signature in block form. Such a signature is seen often in Asian art. Hers was lovely of course, a wonderful stylized version of her name. Mine failed to emerge during class or even afterwards.

Then this occurred to me. I like that ART is in the middle. I even like that HA is at the end. It's not to be taken too seriously, after all. Then the mountainous M. I rather like that too.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Mary Ray's visit to ASG Atlanta

Mary's Purses
Shopping at Gail K
Special Lapel Treatment

Shopping at Whipstitch

A Mary Ray pile of inspiration
Beautiful inside and out

Mary Ray visited Atlanta this past weekend. What an inspiration! She is also a great teacher and generous person.

I had a great time, mostly just listening, taking pictures and absorbing as much as possible.

I hope to take another class from Mary again very soon!