Monday, November 28, 2011

Alice + Olivia Cowl Top

I've been doing more sewing than blogging these days, for sure.  I have three completed garments that I haven't yet written about.  Obtaining good photos of me wearing my garments is a challenge.  DH does his best, but doesn't have a critical eye for seeing things that are out of place, nor does he know how to pose me for the best shots.  Oh, how I wish I lived near my professional photographer sister!  Posing for her is a delight, and her photos are the best ever!  Since we live far apart, DH's photos are good enough.

The tunic styles offered by Vogue 1261 appealed to me the moment I first set eyes upon them.  I love an uneven hemline and unusual construction techniques that result in a trendy, edgy garment.  In those aspects, this pattern is loaded.  The loose fit looked promising for my plus size figure.  I made the cowl neck version, and am very happy with the result.

The fabric is a luscious rayon jersey from Marcy Tilton.  It has good two-way stretch, which is required in this version.  The jersey doesn't curl, which was a big help in the cutting and construction processes, and necessary for smooth raw edges.  The armscyes are cut quite close to the underarm, and there are no darts, so the dual direction stretch probably helps with the fit in that area.  There are small folds under the arms, but I really didn't want to add darts, as there are so many other details in the design.  I cut the largest size, and added about an inch to the underarm seams.  I'm quite happy with the fit, although it's just a bit too wide across the chest.  If/when I make it again, I'll probably subtract a little wudth through the chest, to help draw in the fit an inch or so.

The primary design details are seams sewn wrong sides together and twin needle stitched from the wrong side.  I noticed on Pattern Review that several reviewers chose not to construct it this way, but I stuck with it and really like the look. 

I did change how the center back seam is sewn.  The instructions have you press the seams to the outside, butt the seams together, tape paper to them to stabilize the seam, and sew it with a twin needle from the inside of the garment.  This didn't really sound too stable, and seemed a bit risky, so I sewed the seam with wrong sides together, reinforced it with Design Plus fusible stabilizing tape (a great product!) and a layer of Totally Stable (another great product!) to give it stability and give enough bulk for the twin needle stitching to look good.  Since the seam was covered by interfacing and stabilizer, I drew a pencil line to guide me as I stitched.  A lot of effort, but I think it was successful.

I toyed with just using a zig-zag stitch on the outside, but found it was flat and I rather liked the dimensionality added by the twin needle stitching.  Removing the stabilizer was a long, tedious task that I performed in front of the TV.  It took much care, as pulling hard on it distorted the stitches.  Tweezers were an essential tool for this job!  Several layers of Solvy might have been a better product choice.

Viola, the finished seam, outside and inside:

The pattern calls for narrow ribbon to be sewn over the seam allowances, allowing the stitching to show in between.  I think that would be a great look but I knew I wouldn't find ribbon to match this fabric, so I simply trimmed the seam allowances to 3/8", and left them at that.

The reverse twin needle stitching is used on the center back collar seam, collar edge binding, and sleeve head seams.  I skipped the Totally Stable on these seams, and the stitches formed nicely.  Yards of fusible bias tape later, I finished the task.

The sleeve seams are a bit ragged because of the extra fabric resulting from easing the sleeve cap, but that just ups the funk factor.

 I love the drape of this collar.  It falls low enough that I can wear a short necklace, and it adds a bit of warmth without the close fit of a turtleneck.  Since the fabric is quite stretchy, I stabilized the neck edge with fusible tape early on in the construction process.  That prevented it from getting pulled out of shape, which would have easily occurred.

The sleeve and bottoms hems are single needle stitched 5/8" from the edge and left raw.  This was a pleasureable way to finish the tunic, as the twin needle reversed seams had taken a lot of time.  If the seams were all sewn to the inside, this would be an easy pattern to fit and sew.  If constructed as directed, the difficulty is raised a notch or two.  I'm glad I stuck with the original design, as I like wearing things that are a bit unusual.   The tunic is easy to wear, the color is soothing, and I feel very comfortable in it.  It is the first piece of my winter 6-pac, and I plan to wear it often!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Raggedy Linen Vest

For a long time, I've wondered if Marcy Tilton's Vogue 8430 would fit and flatter me.  When I read on her website about the linen vest she made using this pattern, I just had to try it myself.  I happened to have a small piece of navy linen from Sawyer Brook, which was just the right yardage for this garment.

I followed Marcy's directions (scroll down the page a bit) most of the way through the process.  I added darts in the armholes, to eliminate folds there.  She recommends stitching them wrong sides together, but I didn't want them on the outside, so I didn't do that.  The back, shoulder, pocket, and lapel seams are sewn wrong sides together, with her signature "cardiac" stitch covering the seam allowances.
Left Shoulder and Center Back Seams

I used a pale gray thread, not desiring the sharp contrast of white.  The stitch is easy to do, but quite time consuming, as lifting of the presser foot to shift the angle, and reversing the stitch direction is done so many times.  It made me long for a knee lift, for sure!  Fortunately, my Pfaff has an easy to use button for reversing the stitch direction.

I added a square pocket to give more detail to the garment.  I also added a seam to the left lapel, as the top of the garment looked too plain to me.  It did change the drape of the lapel quite a bit.  It no longer drapes nicely as in the top photo of this post. 

The collar of this pattern is cut very wide, so it stands away from the neck.  I think it would stand up nicely in a felted wool, which the pattern recommends using.  My neck is very short, and this collar does not stand up high, but it just doesn't fit me really well.  I'm making a scarf to wear with it, and that might help fill in the empty space between neck and collar, especially in the back.

I usually wear the vest closed with a cool shawl pin from Sawyer Brook:
I'm disappointed in the curls at the lapel corners.  I imagine a heavy or double cloth linen would not do this as much.
All of the raw edges are stitched 1/2" from the edge.  After the first washing, I had lots of raveled threads to clip.  Every now and then, another one appears, but I expect this will end after a couple more washings.
The pattern was easy to fit to my rotund shape, and I would definitely consider using it again with a more substantial fabric.
Wearing this vest is very easy, and it's proven to be a perfect layer on fall days that begin cool, then warm up a bit.  I actually wore it today with my peony top, and ended up shedding it by 2 pm.  Who knew we would have 60 degree weather in November, especially after getting 8" of snow (and 2 days without power) just over a week ago?!