Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

I'm so glad we celebrate St. Valentine in February. It offers the perfect opportunity to fill the day with gorgeous color!

This very unstructured jacket is made from a wool jersey from Marcy Tilton. The pattern is also hers, Vogue 8430. I've made it as a vest twice, most recently a year ago. The jersey was semi-felted, and I washed it to felt it a bit more. All of the edges are raw, and the fit is very loose. I'm not crazy with how this looks; I think I'm kind of done with unstructured for now. It just seems sloppy. I really wish I had done something else with this gorgeous fabric, but it's too late now.

This will be a good layer for early spring and fall weather. I wore it to work today but it became a tad too warm as the day went on. It looks good overlapped more in the front and fastened with a pin. Sorry no pictures of that. My photographer has been very busy at work and photo ops are short and infrequent!

I think I'll be moving toward more structure in my sewing, leaving the draped front Tilton patterns behind. I'm currently working on another linen jacket, one I can wear in early spring. You'll be seeing that one soon!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Storm Update and Double Bag Prototype

The Blizzard of 2013 was a whopper of a storm, dropping 27 inches of snow on our town in central Massachusetts. The wind created some strangely beautiful sculptures on our cars. My sedan is parked ahead of the Volvo, close to the garage, and that's a 3 foot drift on top of its roof. Quite a powerful wind!

We're all dug out now and the landscape is dominated by huge piles of snow everywhere. We are grateful to have kept electricity throughout the storm, unlike hundreds of thousands of people in the southeastern part of the state. I can handle shoveling snow and braving the cold, but I really dislike having no power. So, we were fortunate.

One drawback to renting a studio outside the home is not being able to go there in the midst of a storm. I filled Friday evening and all day yesterday with knitting, which helped pass the time but didn't truly satisfy. I longed to sew, and was happy to spend 7 hours in the studio today, working on another linen jacket. More about that in a future post.

There are still some items I made in November and December I haven't blogged about, so I thought I'd show you some bags I made back then.

You may recall the double bags I made last September using Marcy Tilton's Vogue 8590. I had good feedback from others concerning the concept of two bags that hook together for pairing up. But I had an idea to change the shape into a clutch, making them a perfect size for tucking into a large tote.

This also grew out of some really great wristlets I've carried for several years, made by Hobo International. The bags have wallet-like interiors - zippered and open pockets, and slots for credit cards. They're also large enough for a tissue, lipstick, and phone. There's a wrist strap for carrying, but I usually stash mine under my arm. These bags are the perfect solution for running errands, when I don't need to take my entire tote into a store. I just grab the wristlet and go.

Using Marcy's pattern as a starting point, I melded both ideas into one. I maintained the shape of Marcy's bag, but drafted it shorter in height and longer in length. I added a shoulder strap, but have to admit I don't usually keep it on as I prefer a clutch. I kept the exterior pockets, but added a wallet-like interior.

My basic everyday clutch is the gray and black one shown below. The lining is the same green silk faille used in my charcoal felted tote.  The black spherical motifs are painted using Marcy Tilton's "African Suns" silk screen.

The second bag is in shades of blue, gray and black. It looks great paired with the everyday bag. I often carry them together when going out for dinner.

I love the cotton jacquard used on the face of this bag. The back and side tabs are a gorgeous deep blue crushed taffeta that carries the blue color further.

Pleased as I was with this duo, I decided to make a third bag that would coordinate with the basic bag. This time I went with shades of wine and gray.

This side is made with a chenille and metallic brocade. The reverse is silk dupioni painted with another Marcy Tilton silk screen.

All of the fabrics I used are from Sawyer Brook. Several of them are remnants that I truly wish I had more of, as they work so well together.

These bags are really fun to carry. The interiors are all the same, so I can use any of them as a wallet/clutch. When paired together, I can switch which sides are on the outside, so there's a variety of looks that can be achieved.

I'm planning to make several sets of these to sell. I've got a couple of kinks to work out first, though. I'm having trouble finding the metal slide that's used to adjust the strap length, in the black nickel color. I can find gold and silver, but I really like the darker color with certain fabrics. I'm also toying with changing the location of the rings the strap clips on to, from the sides of the bag to the top. I'd really like them to tuck into the top of the bag and slip out when needed. Perhaps most wearers would use the strap all of the time, so maybe that's not so much of an issue. I just think it looks a little strange to have loops and rings on the sides of a clutch. Any ideas?

Friday, February 1, 2013

Vogue 1262: A Jacket Begun

I don't know what sensibility overtook me, but last weekend I decided to make a spring jacket. It must have been the drab winter that drew me to think about sewing for spring. Perhaps it was these noticeably longer days that bring promise of fairer weather (eventually). My normal sewing mode is making things I can wear right away, so it's been an odd feeling working on something I'll need to wait a few months to use. But it's also been fun to sew linen in winter, to be working with colorful fabric when all is gray outside.

A review of the fabrics in my collection is also partially responsible for the genesis of this jacket. I have several solid linens perfect for jackets. I chose a deep blue-teal one, and proceeded to pattern selection.

I've been wanting to make Sandra Betzina's Vogue 1262 for some time. I like the lines of the jacket, and the fact that I would need to do little pattern adjusting because her patterns go up to my general size.

Last weekend I traced off the pattern and did a fit using that interfacing pattern paper stuff - Swedish pattern paper, I think it's called? Anyway, the fit looked to be good and I liked the style on my body. I pressed and laid out the teal linen, only to discover it is too narrow for cutting this pattern. You see, the sleeve and back are one pattern piece, so the fabric needs to be wide. I considered adding a center back seam, but even then, the 54" wide teal linen was too narrow.

Sooo, back to the stash, where I realized all of my linens are in the 54" to 56" width range, and none of the pieces were long enough to cut out this fabric hog of a pattern. But then I came upon a pool blue mid-weight piece from Sawyer Brook (actually, three pieces) that had plenty of yardage for this project. By opting for a center back seam, I was able to fit the pattern on the fabric. That's how I went from deep teal to the pool blue you see here.

This is the double quadruple pocket welt, all ready for insertion. The pocket was a fun construction, and would be easy to adapt to other patterns.

Four rectangles are folded in half, the base ones are basted together, and the top ones laid 1/2" from the center fold. I didn't have a contrast fabric for the upper welts, so I painted them with silver Lumiere paint, using a silk screen from Marcy Tilton. You'll notice the silver is more pronounced toward the center of the piece. That's because the paint didn't go through the screen well, and I hand painted the stripes in with a small brush. (See, I do make mistakes!) Only 1/2" of the welt shows in the finished pocket, so I only needed to paint the center.

The next step is to make a window in the front of the jacket. It is shown here, with Steam-a-Seam II finger-pressed on it.

Working from the right side of the jacket front, I laid the welts under the window and steam pressed them, fusing them to the window edge. Careful edgestitching followed.

There is just one drawback with this pocket: it's a fabric waster. I think Sandra drafted it to make it easy to insert, but as you can see, the welt didn't need to be so wide. The pocket top and bottom are sewn to the top and bottom edges of the welt, but after sewing the sides of the pocket together, 1-1/2" is cut off the top of the pocket. Plus, all four welt pieces were interfaced (non fusible), so there are 8 layers of fabric in the welt area. I trimmed out the excess interfacing and graded the center two pieces of welting to lessen the thickness. I'm knit picking here, but I'd rather not throw out pieces of interfacing that could have been used elsewhere.

I really like the look of this pocket. The painting adds just a touch of interest, but isn't overpowering. I'm careful to not wear horizontal lines across the largest part of my body, but I think these pockets are quiet enough that they won't draw too much attention.

I started the pockets this afternoon, and have only to make a Hong Kong finish around the raw edges. (The jacket is unlined.)

I'll be working on the jacket all weekend, so I hope to have it near completion by game time Sunday night. Yes, I'll be watching. No, I'm not a sore loser. I'm not sore at all that our beloved Tom Brady et. al. will be sitting the game out. Truthfully, the Patriots got what they deserved in that last game. They fell apart. Good luck to both teams in the Harbaugh Bowl!