Friday, December 12, 2014

A Disappointing Vest, Vogue 9034

And now I've come to the bottom of the pile, the last of the garments I made during the summer and early autumn of this year. The bottom of the pile also means the last of the photos taken by my sister, Lisa, at the end of October. I'll miss these colorful portraits!

In September, I whipped up this vest and top:




Only after arriving home and editing these photos did I notice I didn't have the lapels of this vest turned back properly. So, I took some selfies to show how the lapels are supposed to lie.


This vest was made using Vogue 9034, a pattern I can't recommend as is. The reasons? Many shortcuts were taken with the pattern instructions and pieces. And it's not a Very Easy Vogue pattern. So, what gives, Vogue?

First of all, the garment is lined to the edges. Not a good construction practice. I much prefer facings and hems, to give the garment more structure. Secondly, no interfacing in the lapels!!! Horrors! I foolishly followed the instructions, and put interfacing only in the collar. Big mistake, as you can see in the photos. Those lapels are crying out for more support.


Thirdly, no tailoring techniques were recommended. To give Vogue credit, the undercollar is cut in two pieces, on the bias. A surprise, considering the lack of any other tailoring tricks. I did know enough to hand sew the undercollar/body seam to the collar/facing seam. But I really should have interfaced the front, faced and interfaced the armholes, and hemmed the bottom. I'm not sure why I blindly sewed along to the directions. I must have been in a trance of some sort!

The fabric is a rayon/linen blend from Marcy Tilton. It was a gem to work with, and I love the color. The jersey for the top is from her, also. I used my TNT t-shirt pattern, Vogue 8793.


I love the print of the top, and it was cool how these two fabrics came together, as they were purchased separately. Too bad I probably won't wear the vest very much. It just looks too sloppy. A shame. I suppose I could take it apart and remake it the right way, but I'm not sure how motivated I am to do that.


I do like the asymmetry of the front of the vest. I'm not crazy about the rest of it, though, so I just might reclaim the fabric for another pursuit. I have at least 1/2 yard of the fabric remaining, so it could become part of another garment.

All in all, a disappointing pattern and garment.

*****
Why in the world, you ask, am I standing next to a Hindu statue (a deity?), with my hand on its head? Because I couldn't resist her. The grounds of the manor where my sister lives is dotted with these, along with a few Japanese and Celtic statues. An eclectic mix, almost humorously positioned among the grasses and Indiana limestone rocks that dot the landscape. I had fun wandering the gardens and photographing the statuary. Enjoy!












Friday, December 5, 2014

Denim Jacket Times Two


No, this isn't a photo of me, or my jacket. Wouldn't life be different if both were true?! This is Butterick 6106, a jacket I've made twice this year, with varying results. Here's the story:


Back in August I married this pattern to a mid-weight, denim-type fabric from Sawyer Brook (now sold out). I liked the striped version on the pattern envelope, as well as a plaid version Katherine Tilton posted on her blog. You know I like to add some paint to fabric whenever it's appropriate, so I jumped in and did it here. I laid the yardage out on my work table and masked off a 2 inch wide stripe about 6 inches from the selvedge. Then I took a brush and some pewter Lumiere paint and used light strokes to paint the stripe. I liked it so much, I repeated it at the other selvedge.

When I cut out the pattern pieces, I tried placing them where they would take advantage of the stripe. I didn't get fancy about matching stripes anywhere. I just wanted the stripes to appear in a balanced fashion. Not a perfect job, but I'm happy with it.


The fabric, which is all cotton, was a breeze to sew, and it stands up pretty well to the collar design. I was really pleased these buttons from Sawyer Brook matched the paint so well:


Sewing this design is like putting a puzzle together because of the asymmetry at the lower fronts. It's not difficult, but it requires patience and attention to detail. As I put the pieces together, I discovered two errors on the pattern. The first involves a mis-placed notch:


The notch at the top of piece #4 should have been about 1-1/2 inches to the right. I only figured this out when I went to attach it to the right front and found the notches were quite far away from one another.

The second error is on piece 13, the right front facing. The lower edge needs to be extended on one side and tapered to nothing on the other side, as shown below:


If you don't do this, you won't have enough fabric to cover a seam later on. So it's pretty important to fix it before you cut. You can see the problem if you lay piece 13 against the right front piece. It's just too short!

Aside from these two errors, the pattern sewed up really well, and was fun to construct. I really like this jacket and expect to get a lot of wear from it, since it's in a good-for-me basic color.


Oh, and one thing about the design of the lower left front. As you can see in the photo above, the lowest piece does "stand out" from the jacket. It's a bit odd, but I've grown to like it.

*****

Three months later, in late November, I decided to make the jacket again. 


And I'm not so happy about this one. First of all, the color is a stretch for me. Even though my eyes and hair are brown, it's hard to find brown that enhances my cool skin tone. I don't think this is bad, but it's not my best color. Agree?

The second problem is a larger one, and it involves an unhappy marriage of pattern and fabric. This is a lightweight denim of cotton, polyester and lycra. It is soft and drapey. Not the right fabric for this collar style. The collar can barely stand up, even with a facing and interfacing. And see the drag lines on the upper chest? Too soft a fabric.



And lastly, the fit of this jacket isn't good at all. I don't know why I didn't notice it back in August when I made the first one. The shoulders are just too wide on me. I should have cut this version in a smaller size. The style is loose, to a certain degree, but I don't think the sleeves should hang off the shoulder by more than an inch. I simply wasn't paying attention.

Oh well, on to the parts of this jacket I really like: the printing. 


Diane Ericson's  Bamboo Forest and Brush Alphabet stencils were a perfect pairing for embellishing this fabric. I used black Neopaque and copper Lumiere paints, which enhance those colors in the fabric (and the buttons, which are from Sawyer Brook). 


What a lot of fun this printing was! In fact, I love the printing so much, I'm not all that unhappy with the jacket. I just don't know how much I'll wear it because of the color, the baggy shoulders, and the drag lines. Honest opinions - would you wear this jacket if it looked like this on you? If not, what would you do with it? I welcome any and all comments!



Sunday, November 30, 2014

A Go-With-Everything Ponte Jacket



Back in September I realized I could really use a basic cardigan in my wardrobe, an easy-to-wear jacket that would go with (almost) everything. So I dug through my resource center and found a black ponte milled for Eileen Fisher, purchased from Sawyer Brook a couple of years ago. The fabric is rayon and nylon, and it has a soft hand and drape.


Now, basic isn't my normal thing. If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you know I like asymmetry, uneven hemlines, and maybe a touch of paint. But not on this garment. I really needed it to be PLAIN. Enter McCall's 6996, view C/D, a simple cardigan with a wide center front band that becomes a collar of sorts. Without buttons or pockets. Really basic.

There is one nice design feature on the jacket - gathering at the center back seam of the band:


I like the extra interest this gathering gives, even though it's a small area that is almost covered by my hair.

A simple pattern and easy to sew fabric made for a quick project. Cutting this out and sewing it up was a dream. A dream in terms of easiness, but I have to admit, it was a bit boring for me to sew, and I was glad to get it over with. But it will be the perfect thing to grab when I need an extra layer over a t-shirt, and I expect to wear it a lot. I'm in the market for a really funky cardigan style jacket to make from ponte but I haven't found one yet. Maybe I'll have to design one that more suits my style.

The t-shirt I'm wearing with the jacket is also a recent make. The fabric is a rayon/lycra jersey, once again from Sawyer Brook. I had visions of combining it with other fabrics, but that never happened, so I decided on a top. It's a lot of print for me, but it will usually be covered by this jacket, or one of my black vests. I used my TNT t-shirt pattern, Vogue 8793, Katherine Tilton's zipper collar top. I made it with a neckband instead of the collar.


I've been on a quest of perfecting my TNT t-shirt pattern. I'm not quite there yet, but I'm getting close.

And that's the news from my little corner of the world. I have some other garments finished but I need more photos. We got 6" of snow Wednesday, so outdoor shots are out. The daylight hasn't been good here lately either, so I'm still waiting for a sunny day so I can take photos indoors. I'll be using my new camera and tripod. Wish me luck!

Friday, November 21, 2014

A Tilton Trio: Butterick 5891

Back in June I made Katherine Tilton's Butterick 5891. I liked the shape of the top so much I decided to challenge myself to making two additional, different garments from the pattern, as a design challenge. Here is the first version I made, following the pattern quite closely:


I made only my normal adjustments to the pattern for this version. I added some length to the body and the sleeves, did a forward shoulder adjustment and a rounded upper back adjustment. Just the usual things I do. It was unusual for me to not need to add width to the side seams. This style is very loose fitting, and there is plenty of room for my extra padding.

I absolutely love the collar on this top. I cut it on the bias and it sewed up beautifully.

One design change I made was to add a center seam to the sleeves, so I could insert a decorative flange and button:


Aren't the buttons fantastic? They are from Sawyer Brook, naturally. I was just thrilled when I saw how well they matched. The fabric is cross dyed linen, in a solid and a coordinating textural plaid. It's also from Sawyer Brook, a few years ago.


There's a funny story about this fabric. After deciding to make it up into this top I noticed on Martha's blog, Now Sewing, I had a kindred spirit. She had made the sleeveless top in this pattern out of the same fabric! I had the pleasure of meeting Martha a couple of years ago when she came to shop at Sawyer Brook. Our style aesthetic is quite similar, and sometimes I wonder if we were separated at birth!


***
Onward to version two, a collarless jacket:


Studying the pattern, I saw I could omit the collar - wonderful as it is - and use identical center front pieces for a v-neck look. The fabrics I chose are a black linen/rayon blend and a cotton printed with a dramatic dragon design, from Marcy Tilton. On this make, I rounded the center edge. It doesn't show up much in the print, but a close look at the buttons gives an idea of where the edge is.


It's a detail that might be wasted in this fabric, but if/when I make this again in a solid, it will show up nicely. I added the half-moon window pockets for a touch of whimsy. 



Topstitching throughout is done with dark red thread that matches the print.


Another great button match was found at Sawyer Brook. I love being able to sew with the buttons I work with every day!


***
And finally, version three, a longer length vest. 


This was one of those makes that changes as you work on it. I started out wanting a go-with-everything denim vest and ended up with one that has a lot of purple in it. None of the purple tops I have look good with it (seriously!), so I made a solid navy crew neck t-shirt. Unfortunately, it was at home, 1000 miles away, when these photos were taken. I had to run out to Macy's and make do with what I could find, which was the v-neck, 3/4 sleeve top you see here. I also forgot my navy pants. Let's just say this isn't styled the way I will wear it!

Anyway, back to the evolving make. As I cut out the denim fabric, I kept wondering if certain remnants in my collection would look good with it. I gathered some of them together, and came up with a combination I loved. They are a linen jacquard, a blue silk dupioni, a rayon batik, and a solid purple rayon twill. I decided to try piecing the center front panels with the fabrics, and once I got into it, I just loved the look. So much for something to wear with everything. But that's what love does, messes up the plan for an end result that's even better than imagined!


As the photo above shows, I used the already cut out front panels as templates for the piecing. I interfaced each of the fabric remnants to give them stability, then I cut out shapes and sewed them together. I worked on both sides at the same time, to keep them balanced. Once the vest was sewn up, I decided to add some hand stitching to bring more detail to the panels.




Wanting a little treat on the back, I inserted a long pieced flange in the center back seam, and topped it off with a button. Just a parting wink!


***

But that's not the end of this pattern. Today I started sewing another version of the top with the collar. It's looking good, and you'll be seeing it here soon!

Thanks to my wonderful baby sister who shot all of the modeled photos in this post. Lisa, you're the best!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Notes from a Fabric Whisperer

As a blogger, I'm always on the lookout for other blogs that might interest me. So when Martha of Now Sewing asked if I'd like to participate in a blog hop, I said yes. If you trace back through this particular branch of the blog hop, you'll find several talented fiber artists. Their work is inspiring!

Martha is an accomplished sewist who makes meticulously constructed garments. She has a bit of a funky style streak, and we often make similar garment styles. Tilton sister patterns are as much a part of her sewing as mine. What I admire most in her creative work is her Sashiko stitching, which she uses to embellish garments, quilts and wall hangings. Martha has inspired me to practice hand sewing and to incorporate it into garment construction. Be sure to visit her blog, if you're not already a regular.

Now, for a bit about me.


What am I working on? 
Today I cut a top out of these two fabrics, using a Katherine Tilton pattern. (I'm not going to disclose which pattern just yet. You'll have to wait!)



These cottons are double cloth, so I had four sides to choose from. The challenge was to use all four sides without any of them looking predominant. I think I did a pretty good job of including each of them in the top. Look for finished garment photos in a future post.

How does my work differ from others of its genre? 
I consider myself a garment maker. My work is distinguished by my use of asymmetry, unusual hemlines, and unique silhouettes. The addition of printed images, either silk screened or stenciled, separates me from most other sewists.

Why do I create what I do? 
Fabric and garment sewing have been part of my life for over 45 years. Knitting came later, but quickly fit in. I'm happiest when fiber of some sort is flowing through my hands.
I added printing with stencils and silk screens to my creative work as a means of making unusual garments that make a statement. I've grown to love the painting process, and look forward to it as a time of play. Recently, I'm enjoying some simple freehand painting, adding a distressed look to the fabric. Here is a piece of linen I painted back in July:





How does my creative process work?
I don't have a very structured method for creating new things. I usually don't know what it is I'll be making next. 
When choosing a new project, I often spend a couple of hours sorting through my fabrics or yarn, listening to what they say they want to be. That may sound wacky, like some sort of fabric whisperer, but experience has taught me I can't force a fabric to be something it wasn't designed for. Every fabric in my resource center has characteristics that lend it better to one particular use than another. The process of determining what type of garment to make with which fabric or yarn is critical to a successful finished garment. Once I have a good idea of what I'm making, I think about design details and whether or not to embellish the garment with paint or hand stitching.
Printing happens only if a garment is a good canvas for it. Sometimes the fabrication does not lend itself well to being printed. Sometimes printing is not going to enhance a style. Also, wearing printed items is fun and playful, but an entire wardrobe of paint embellished garments would be very silly!



With that, I'm going to hand the baton over to Louisa, of Damselfly's Delights. Louisa inspires me with her energy to pursue several different but intertwined creative endeavors. She sews, she knits, she spins, she dyes fabric and yarn, and she grows the plants she dyes with! I'm sure I'm missing another one or two of her creative skills. So get on over to her blog to learn about this multi-talented person!

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Copy of Two Copies

Say what?! A copy of two copies? It's simpler than it sounds. Both Gayle and Shams copied a ready-to-wear tunic. I saw their versions, fell in love with the design, and copied them. And here's my copy:



This is made with three fabrics from Marcy Tilton - red rayon jersey, black and white dotted jersey, and printed mesh knit. They were great to work with, and the top went together fairly easily. The only changes I made to the design were to angle the hem and add a cowl neckline rather than a funnel neckline. I used my tried and true t-shirt pattern as the basis for the draft, and made changes for the details.

The cowl is simply a tube, applied to the neckline as you would apply a neck band. It is single layer, and I left the edge raw:



I've just realized my photos don't show the drawstring detail very well. Here's a close-up:


This is definitely my favorite detail in the garment, and it could translate easily to many different tunic and top designs. It was very straightforward to make, so I'll try to detail the process here.

First, I added an extra 5/8" to the seam allowance in the area that would become the drawstring channels. That gave me a 1-1/4" seam allowance, enough to make a 5/8" channel. Before sewing the seam, I pressed the hem allowances up. (This step is critical. There is no way to turn up the hem once the channels are sewn, so it must be done now.)

Next I made two drawstrings, sewing one end closed on each one. Then I got out some trusty Steam a Seam and applied it to the long edge of both casings. I laid the drawstrings inside the casings, leaving the raw edges extending out of the tops of the channels. I then pressed the Steam a Seam edges so they would hold it all together.


Off to the sewing machine, where I attached my topstitching foot. Starting at the seamline, I stitched across the top and down the side of each channel. That secured the drawstrings at the top, and enclosed them in the channels.


And that's all there was to it. Keeping the drawstrings out of the way while sewing the channels was the most difficult part. I suppose the channels could be stitched, then the drawstrings threaded through, and the top of the channels sewn shut. But this accomplished it all without having to do the threading.

Attaching the flounce was also very easy. It is simply a large rectangle of fabric. I cut away the lower front at an angle - easy to see in the top photo above. The side seam is sewn, ending at the top of the angle. Then the long edge of the rectangle is sewn to the angled side seam allowance, breaking the stitching where the "normal" side seam ends.

Yes, I am *this* happy when wearing this tunic. It is super comfortable, and I love the whimsy added by the details. Thanks to both Gayle and Shams for inspiring me to make this. I'll definitely be sewing it again. I'm thinking a solid color next time, maybe with a funnel collar...