Saturday, January 28, 2012

New Vogue Patterns

I've been checking out all the posts of fave patterns in the new Vogue line-up. It's always fun to see what my favorite bloggers chose as their favorites. This one seems to be a bit of a sleeper. It may be the color, but I find it interesting.

I even like the line drawings. And I have no idea why. It's not edgey or Asian or asymmetric (unless you count the little slit in the skirt). Maybe it just looks easy to wear. I would make the skirt longer.

I also really like the Katherine Tilton t-shirt. Now that one is a little something different. But it's not the pattern that is different - it's her cheerful use of various fabrics. The Tilton sisters have such a happy approach to sewing.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

TNT Plaza Pants

I've made too many pairs of plaza pants from the Sewing Workshop to even count at this point. They are so comfortable that I have myself convinced they look good too. Maybe they do.

This pair is made from a light-weight wool, interlined with Bemberg Ambiance. It looks almost navy blue in these pictures. In real life they look medium gray.

The interlining required lots of basting to keep things from slipping away. I might have been better off just lining them in the normal fashion. But they do feel great this way. And they hang nicely.
While steam pressing, I was reminded of one of the properties of rayon (Ambiance). It puffs up with moisture. For a few minutes I thought for-sure I had ruined the pants, but a dry iron seems to have fixed the bubbling.

I think it may be time to try a new pull-on pants pattern. Maybe I'm ready for the new one-seams from Cutting Line Designs.

Just some fun

Saw these wonderful chairs at a party last Friday. It almost makes me want to try a little home dec. Almost.


This picture shows some fabric manipulation with evenly spaced pleats. From the book Stitching Magic by Reid. It really is magic, I think. Sometimes.

Friday, January 20, 2012

ABO Complete!

With some extra help from Louise Cutting on Artisan's Square, I have finished my winter jacket version of her Anything But Ordinary jacket. Thanks to Louise, even the top slot buttonhole went in nicely. Thanks also to Terri for her question about the back facing. I thought about her question and decided to take it as a suggestion. What a needed improvement in what I was doing!

This is such a nice classic jacket pattern. Blogger Sew Forth Now and Conquer and others have made this as a vest, so that may be my next use of this clever pattern. I also saw it as a shirt plus a vest by Carolyn on Artisan's Square. Each version is such an inspiration and all from one pattern.

Aren't sewing buddies the best?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Buttonhole Puzzler

Work continues on my Cutting Line Designs Anything But Ordinary coat. Right now I'm trying to puzzle through the slot buttonhole at the neckline. As mentioned in my previous post, Louise has instructions for gorgeous slotted buttonholes at the Threads website here.

The technique requires that seams be pressed open. The slots are formed by leaving a gap in the seam. This worked great on the lower two button holes but I'm perplexed about the one at the neckline.

I made a mistake (well, lots really, but who is counting?) when I thought I could enclose all those SAs in the collar. That does not leave a way to put the gap in the seam for the button.

So off to rip a few stitches.

Any ideas?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Anything But Ordinary - a coat version

Every time the temp drops outside, I am reminded that I need a new coat. I had some nice heavy wool tweed in the stash but needed the right pattern for it. I've made a few muslins but ditched each one in turn. Then Louise Cutting posted instructions for making slot buttonholes here at the Threads magazine site and suggested making her Anything But Ordinary (ABO) jacket in a longer version. There is also a picture of a gorgeous RTW coat posted along with the instructions. Louise's post plus BlueMooney's Paco Peralta T-Coat (gorgeous - go see it) propelled me in the right direction finally.

I'm having to think a bit as the ABO instructions are for an unlined jacket. With this wool, lining is a must. Drafting the lining pieces is not particularly challenging but the order of construction, particularly with the slot button holes has me wrinkling my brow a bit. For example, there is no back facing in the pattern. Rather the raw edge of the neckline is stitched into the collar in back. And I'm working those slot button holes into the neckline too, as described by Louise.

So far I've completed the outer part of the jacket and the collar is almost ready to attach. I need to cut out the lining and construct the jacket lining so I'll be ready to puzzle through the neckline.

Cut-on facing prep for button holes
There is one unusual aspect to this pattern. There are NO notches. Not even on the sleeve. There is a dot on the sleeve cap to match to the shoulder seam, but otherwise no markings on the sleeve pattern. (There are also some helpful dots on the collar.) The sleeves have to be vertically symmetric, I guess. It is a dropped shoulder so there is not a lot of shoulder shaping. Louise's shoulder pads give it a nice shape.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

SAM 1 - Hibiscus from The Sewing Workshop

The Hibiscus shirt was published by the Sewing Workshop years ago. In fact, I cannot find it on their website so maybe it's OOP. I've had it in my stash a while. I kept pulling it out and thinking about it. Then Blue Mooney started the Shirt-A-Month (SAM) challenge on Artisan's Square. I decided it would be my SAM #1.

completed collar & stand
The pattern contains some challenges. The right front goes together like an origami puzzle. I read a review at PR that warned of the need to mark all notches and dots, but I missed a few. On the right front. Yikes!

When I'm making something challenging, I keep the pattern tissue handy to reference again and again. First I had to mock up the right front with the three right front pattern pieces. Then I (re)marked everything. It was still a bit of a 2D-to-3D challenge.

Before inserting collar
The collar stand and collar were very satisfying to make. Sewing friend Lorraine taught the David Coffin method at my ASG neighborhood group a while back. You basically complete the shirt-plus-collar-stand, leaving an opening in the top of the collar stand. Then the finished collar is simply inserted into the opening and it is edge-stitched in place around the collar stand.

shirt sandwiched between stands

right front

right front inside

Finished back

Finished collar and stand

TSW Hibiscus
I kept the outside of the stand on top while sewing, and now wish the inside had been on top, but it still looks pretty good, I think. To Lorraine's (David's) method, I added some stay-stitching on both the upper collar stand and the edge of the finished collar. This made it easier to match up the stitching lines while pinning it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Enjoying some simple hand stitching

What follows is information presented at Fiber Art Fusion last night. Many lovely magic feathers were created by these fiber artists.

Resources & Credits:

Sarah’s Hand Embroidery Tutorials:

Some Stitches
  1. Stab stitch – stab from the top and pull thread through, then flip the fabric and stab from the other side. Most of us started stitching with this stitch but it still comes in handy with thick textiles like leather or when you need to be very precise in the placement of the needle.
  2. Running stitch (sashiko) – Sashiko is an example of the running stitch, a uniform stitch with contrasting thread and very few rules which can be known and then ignored at will. The main goal is a uniform stitch, not a small stitch. The running stitch is zen for me – very calming.
  3. Whipped or interlaced running stitch – Make a running stitch with one color of thread. Then thread a new color and pass back through the same line of stitching, simply thread the second color of thread through the first set of stitches. This produces a twisted effect – especially nice with high contrast in color. See Sarah’s embroidery web site for some lovely simple variations to this.
  4. Stitching beads – just stitch in place until a bead-effect is achieved, softer than a real bead, more durable than a French knot, and easy. Jude Hill introduced me to this stitch. She uses it to good effect.
  5. French knot – a French knot is lovely and, in my world, somewhat unpredictable. If you use a quilter’s knot when you thread a needle, you already know the basics of a French knot. There are many resources on the web for this stitch, but I've include another below (*).
  6. Wrap Stitch (The Magic Feather) – This is a great filler stitch. The thread is wrapped to fill in a space such as a drawn feather. It looks almost the same on the back and the front. The main goal is to keep the stitches relaxed as in when you are enjoying a cup of green tea. If the stitches are allowed to be relaxed, the fabric won’t bunch up and the thread will spread slightly to fill in the space. My mood is evident in this stitch.
The magic feather project was created by Jude Hill and much, much more can be learned from her. This simply describes my experience in using her process. A feather is created by first sketching it with permanent marker on your fabric. See example above. Sew the center line or spine using an interlaced running stitch, same color thread in both passes. Then sew the feathered portion with the wrap stitch. I prefer to have my needle exit the fabric at the spine, re-enter the fabric at the edge.

(*) My French knots are made like this - note that lefties need to reverse references to left/right. 

    • Pull your thread to the right side of the fabric. Call this point A.
    • Hold the needle and thread in the air and grab the middle of the thread in your left hand.
    • Place point of needle close to point A but still in the air. Wrap thread twice.
    • Poke needle back thru fabric close to point A but not in point A.
    • Anchor needle on the fabric back with left forefinger and left middle finger, while holding the thread taunt on the fabric right side with thumb a short space away from the wraps. This will keep the wraps steady while you finish the stitch.
    • Use right hand to pull thread through fabric.

    Monday, January 9, 2012

    Muslin Mania

    Since the new year, I have focused primarily on muslins, with one from 2011 still in progress. Am I ever ready for something real now. I did make the lovely Ann's Cardigan from The Sewing Workshop, and that was very satisfying. Now I'm ready for more stuff to wear.

    Muslins included...

    V 8369 - 1 more shoulder tweak needed
    Nikko muslin
    V8483 - maybe later

    • Ralph Rucci Vogue Pattern #1215: This one only needs a shorter hem. It will be saved for Pam Howard's class in early February. 
    • TSW Nikko jacket - good thing I made a muslin. I don't like the way it looks on me right now. Maybe I'll come back to it someday.
    • Vogue 8483 - also a reject for now. The collar will stand away from my neck and makes me look like a turtle.
    • Claire Shaeffer Coco-style jacket Vogue 8369 - ongoing from 2011*
    • Cutting Line Designs ACA Jacket - I made this once but it is too large across the shoulders. The muslin is size S instead of size M. That appears to work much better. I can easily add for my hips in that area. Louise had generously given me instructions on how to modify the larger one, and I may do that, but for now, I'm glad to know I should be starting with a Small in the shoulder area.
     *ASG Atlanta neighborhood group, City-wide Couture, has a group working on a Coco jacket under the direction of Gail. I started my muslin in November at a guild retreat and got some tweaking advice. Since then the muslin has been through two fittings with Gail. It is almost ready to transition from lowly muslin to working toile. I just need to tweak one of the shoulders a bit and bring up the neckline so I can wear without a blouse.

    Friday, January 6, 2012

    V1215 Muslin - complete

    Even if I never make this pattern up in its entirety, I have learned much from the muslin process. The sleeve finish is something I'll no doubt use with other shirts. There seem to be a number of shirts in my stash that have very plain (and sometimes too full) sleeve hems. This is a clean and lovely alternative.

    It has a two-piece sleeve, but only because a one-piece sleeve was slashed down the center following the grain-line. SAs were added of course. This center sleeve seam facilitates the insertion of a vent using a facing that is cut on the bias. Just imagine this in a plaid! The sleeve also has a tuck on either side of the vent, making it narrow just a bit.

    I'm still thinking about the length. It is long, and if I use a fine cotton as intended, then it will catch on my lower fluff. On the other hand, it has a likable shirt-tale hem cut nearly up to the waist, and that creates a slimming effect on the side seam.

    The tucks on the front and back bodice are fussy, but the style is growing on me. I messed around with them a bit on the right back - see where it pokes out? But now I think I'll just stick with the tucks as drafted.

    I still need to insert the collar into the collar band (though the mandarin collar is kind-of cute), and I should probably practice the fly (placket?) technique on this muslin. But I'm getting close to cutting this out of a fine white Italian cotton. Just need to decide about the length so I don't waste all that lovely fabric.

    Pam's class is in four weeks, so I have some time to ponder the length.

    What a fun pattern!

    Wednesday, January 4, 2012

    V1215 Muslin - first steps

    I have been drooling over this pattern ever since I laid eyes on it. Then I bought it but just kept looking at it. It is rated advanced, and with good reason: details.

    My hope is by making a muslin, I will learn some of the more difficult techniques on cheap fabric and that I'll determine if it is a good silhouette for me or not. I have completed the front and back and, indeed, I've learned some things.

    Fun is different for everyone. My first real job involved programming in binary so maybe I'm more enthralled with details than others. And the mood has to be right, of course. Today details are zen for me.

    But, back to Vogue 1215, a Chado Ralph Rucci design. It appears to be well drafted but the instructions do leave something to be desired. Here is how I think step 2 should read:

    • Use tailor's tacks to mark the darts and tucks. 
    • Stitch dart and press toward center front, not toward the armhole. This is a curved dart, so the tailors tacks will help a lot.
    • The first tuck parallels the dart, so no need to mark it except below the dart. It must be sewn 1/8 inch in width. It helps to have an open-toe foot and/or a foot you know well enough to eye-ball 1/8 inch.
    • Sew this first tuck starting at the top. This will help with the easing. Sewing this tuck is really a stitch-in-the-ditch process where the dart stitch line forms the ditch.
    • Now press the dart toward the armhole; the first tuck will naturally want to be pressed the opposite way. They'll fit nicely together.
    • stitching in the dart-ditch
    • The second dart is a b*%^&. Tailors tacks will again be essential, but it is still a challenging design detail. Pin with a loose hand and drive carefully, again with the foot that allows sewing a 1/8 inch seam. This tuck is challenging because it crosses the other tuck very close to the dart point. I tried some options on this, but the style seems to demand this collision of features.

    tuck 2 pinned
    tuck 1 and dart, right side
    stitching tuck 2 across tuck 1
    I'm going to skip the very clever seam and hem finish for now. I think I can handle that with my fashion fabric. So, now, on to the sleeves. They are so cute in the picture. And then, some day, I'll see if I really like this silhouette on me. But, for now, it's fun practicing new stuff.

    Monday, January 2, 2012

    Anns Cardi - Fini

    The Sewing Workshop has just released another wonderful pattern that is my at-the-moment all-time-favorite pattern. Ann's cardigan is comfortable and cozy like a cardigan should be, but with great styling. Features include

    • set-in sleeves which give definition to the shoulders
    • horizontal seam that creates the illusion of a (high) waistline
    • lower front drape
    • graceful folds around the neck that frame the face
    The pattern arrived on New Year's Eve and so I raided my stash on New Year's Day. Nothing was really singing in there. I had this failed project - the wrap jacket from Christine Jonson's Travel Trio One - one that I had tossed into my sewing closet. That pattern, by the way, is worth the price just for the fabulous pants and t-shirt, but the wrap jacket is not a good look on me.

    So I cut up the wrap jacket, retrieved the remnants also stuffed in the closet and set about to cut out Ann's cardigan. This is a novelty knit, probably with some rayon and polyester. One side is a flat tweed; the other is a cozy, fleecy animal print. Because this fabric has 4-way stretch, it was forgiving of some sins against the grain, but I still had to piece the sleeves, and the front band.

    The sleeves ended up with cuffs, easy-peasy. But piecing the front band in three pieces necessitated a more significant change in the design. The front band is supposed to finish as a single layer, about 8 inches wide. The pieced seams on the front band don't show much at all when the plush (animal-like print) side is used as the right side, but visible inside seams would have detracted from the resulting garment. So I folded the band back on itself, wrong sides together, and stitched in the ditch. 

    The result is still a fairly modest change in the overall design. In sum, this is a great layering piece. I may try the tank top when it's not so cold here, but the star is the cardigan anyway, I think.

    Sunday, January 1, 2012

    Anns Cardigan WIP

    The new pattern from TSW is proving to be lovely - flattering, well-drafted, contemporary but still classically styled.

    This fabric is from a failed wrap cardigan from Christine Jonson. It is soft faux fur on one side and knit tweed on the other. I had to put in some extra seams to make it work but I think I like it a lot already.

    Time for the cuffed sleeves.