Sunday, August 31, 2008

Mini Wardrobe - August 2008

I'm finished. Somebody say, "Hallelujah!"

It's Labor Day weekend. I've finished laboring; now I'm going to go sit in the sun like a turtle.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

BWOF 8/08 #108 Knit Top

Pattern Description: Raglan cap sleeves and a standing collar furnish the chic pullover look. Our sewing tips: Use an invisible zipper in centre back so that the collar fits snugly. Stitch all the hems with twin needles to guarantee suitably elasticity.

Pattern Sizing: BWOF sizes 34-42. I made a 38.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes.
Were the instructions easy to follow? They weren't too bad for BWOF, plus I've already made #109, which is the same top without the collar. I still don't get the instructions for the underarm bands, but then again, it works fine just folded and topstitched.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? It's a great basic shape, nice and streamlined to fit under jackets.

Fabric Used: Cotton jersey picked up at Jomar just on Thursday - it was a remnant, so the total cost was $1.25.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: None, this time. When I originally planned to make this top for my Falling in Love with Fall mini-wardrobe, I wanted to do the mock turtleneck in a gold sweater knit. Then the sweater knit arrived and it was tan, so I went to a bright orange-rust poly, and made version #109, which had some changes. When I found this fabric a few days ago, I went back to my original plan and made the zip-neck mock turtleneck.

This was my first invisible zipper in a knit, and it actually went in without any trouble, so color me surprised. The mock turtleneck was easy, though BWOF said to cut a piece 15.25 x 4, and then stretch it "slightly" while pinning it to the neck. Let's say the stretch was far more than slight, but it did fit. I finally found some interface bias tape, and that helped immensely with stabilizing the arm and neck openings.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I wasn't sure how I felt after the orange top, but it rurns out I really like this one. Go figure! I'm going to play with the pattern a little and draft full sleeves for it because I think this pattern has a long life in my wardrobe.

Conclusion: Great little top! And yes, I noticed the unfortunate placement of the circle on the top, but only after it was sewn. Oops!

Friday, August 29, 2008

All Hail Jomar!

Yesterday we took a mental health day and drove up to New Hope, PA and Lambertville, NJ for some shopping, people-watching, and a very nice dinner at the Mansion Inn. It was a gorgeous sunny day, and we had a great time.

My favorite part of the day (not to seem ungrateful, you understand) was the half-hour stop at Jomar on our way out of town.

Ah, Jomar. Let me try to explain. The store's slogan is, "It's all here. You just have to find it."

I'm a sucker for a store that brings out the hunger/gatherer in me, and this place does it in a big way. I generally go to the store in South Philadelphia, although there are other locations in and near the city. The downstairs is mens- and womenswear, kids stuff, housewares, all kinds of discounted stuff.

Upstairs, it's all FABRIC.

Except when it's trim. Or lace. Or buttons. Or zippers priced at a penny per inch.

I don't know where the stuff comes from, and the quality varies wildly between crap and I-can't-believe-they're-selling-this-stuff. It's pretty much equal, but then again, what I think is crap may be just what someone else is looking for - like the rack of fleece which I wouldn't feed into my machine at gunpoint.

There's also a ton of home dec, including a lot of Waverly, an entire corner of lining fabrics, priced from $1 - $3 (really), a short section of tie silks, a large section of regular silks, wools, cottons, quilting cottons, all kinds of prints and solids, and entire tables of random fabrics that are priced $1 and $2 per yard. Did I mention the laces? And the table of pre-cut remnants, all priced under $5?

I got a wonderful scalloped black lace for $2 a yard, some olive-green glen plaid bottom-weight (close to a stretch moleskin, but not quite), more shirt fabric for Mario, 2 yards of a drapy brown rayon jersey, a caramel velvet remnant, a map-printed stretch jersey remnant, and lining fabrics in black, brown, striped, light gray, dark gray and nude (for the lining of my Prada knockoff), for $39. That's 28 yards of fabric, people. That's an almost obscene breaking of the fabric fast, but who am I to resist that kind of pricing?

What I went in for was lining fabric - the lining drawer was almost empty, and my local store charges $2.95 and up for lining. That's okay if I need a yard or so, but not if I want to stockpile for the upcoming colder weather and the mad sewing inspiration that will hit at roughly the same time.

Ever since I raised my bleary eyes from the fall fashion magazines, I've wanted to start my fall and winter sewing. No matter that I still have some summer sewing - including a really cute pair of seersucker pants - cut out and not finished. No matter that I'm almost finished a nice little wrap dress - it'll be great for fall!

I want textures and sweater knits and more reasons for lined jackets. I want to make more pants, now that I have a TNT pattern that I know will work. I want to make a gray-based wardrobe (sorry, Carolyn, I'm not being a deliberate copycat, I just realized that I have 8 different gray or gray patterned fabrics that I really like). I want, I want, I want. And now I have some of the fabrics that will get me there.

It's a long weekend, and the only things on my agenda are photographing my Mini-Wardrobe Contest submission and sewing.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Let's Bring back the Gilet

Here's an interesting item of clothing from Constance Talbot's Complete Guide to Sewing: the gilet. Ever heard of that one? I hadn't, though when she described it as a sleeveless blouse meant to be worn under a suits or sweaters, I knew what she meant. Why has this useful little item fallen out of fashion? I can only imagine in the wartime era of the Complete Guide, thrifty women were rummaging through their scrap bins and making gilets from the remains of beautiful party dresses (perhaps with a contrasting solid back, since it would never be seen).

Wikipedia says that it comes from the French gilet, from Spanish gileco or chaleco, and ultimately from the Turkish yelek. They claim it is "a sleeveless jacket resembling a waistcoat or blouse. Currently, a gilet is a sleeveless jacket or vest. They may be waist- to knee-length, and are typically straight-sided rather than fitted. However, historically, they were fitted and embroidered. In a further derivation, in 19th-century dressmaking a gilet was a dress bodice shaped like a man's waistcoat."

Well, okay, but I'll go by the cool illustration in the Complete Guide that it's a sleeveless top, and leave the shape, closures, and length up to me.

The closest we have to a gilet these days would be a shell, except I always associate shells with bad 80's polyester and little button closures at the back of the neck; nothing pretty enough to set off a suit, just a piece that you have to wear or else be naked under your jacket.

With all the jackets that I have, I think I may have to bring back the gilet.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

BWOF 8/08 #109 Top

First Things First: The top is not that orange! It's just one of those colors that doesn't photograph; I've tried flash, daylight, everything, and it looks fluorescent. I promise it isn't. Okay, on to the review.

Pattern Description: This top simply can't be topped! It just clings to your body as it's made up in fine knit, the plain raglan cut allowing the unusual print to tell the story.

Pattern Sizing: BWOF 34-42. I made a 38.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Pretty much, yes. I'd started out making #108, with the mock turtleneck, but when I decided not to use a zipper I changed to pattern #109 and just banded the neckline.

Were the instructions easy to follow? They were pretty clear for BWOF, but then again this is a pretty straightforward top. Like Dawn, I had trouble understanding what they were talking about with the armhole bands, so I omitted them entirely and turned the fabric under and stitched it. Unless you stare at my underarms, it's not obvious.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I liked the raglan sleeves, and I wanted a turtleneck for my Mini-Wardrobe to set off the collar of the jacket I made. I intended to make it in a gold sweater knit. Does this look anything like a gold sweater-knit turtleneck? Well, no, but I still really like it, and unless I change my mind, it'll be the last piece of my wardrobe anyway.

Fabric Used: Since my sweater knit turned out more tan than gold, I picked up this vibrant rust poly knit at my local store. The closest I can come to describing the hand is to show my age and say it feels like qiana. Remember qiana?

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: I omitted the zipper right off, as soon as I realized I could get my head through the neck opening. I didn't want to put a zipper in a sweater knit, and I didn't relish the idea in this drapy poly either. Losing the zipper meant losing the mock turtleneck, so instead I just made a band collar and topstitched it down. I lengthened the top by about 1" because a lot of BWOF's tops just don't work for me lengthwise. I could have left this alone, but the length is okay - the fabric is thin enough that I can tuck it in if I want to.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I'll definitely sew this again, and maybe next time I'll use a fabric sturdy enough to support a zipper so I can make the collar I'd intended. I really like the two-piece raglan sleeve, though I may play with it and turn it into a real sleeve instead of having the armhole open at the bottom. But that's still a recommendation, it's just a pattern to be played with depending on the user.

Conclusion: A cute top with relatively unmystifying instructions, and I think this one has potential to be turned into other interesting tops.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Orange Monster Tote

One of the first things I found during of the last few evenings of fashion magazine inhalation was this purple Dior bag.

It's not exactly like the Hotpatterns Metropolitan tote, but it doesn't have to be for my purposes. First of all, I'm going to reduce the size of the tote so it isn't quite large enoug to carry my cats around in, so I could definitely slant it more in the direction of this Dior bag. I like the seamlines on the Dior - there aren't any on the Hotpatterns bag, but I was neither here or there on that; I knew I could always add them if I wanted.

The orange leather I purchased at Leather, Suede, Skins is actually in large enough pieces that I could make the bag without piecing, but I think this would give a more interesting effect than just flat leather, especially since mine isn't textured. Why did I think I didn't want textured leather? (Probably because it cost the earth, and this only cost a mid-size continent?)

Now I'm off in search of the perfect lining. I do have a ton of home dec stuff in stash, which would add a bit more stability to the bag, and if I put the lining together first, I can muslin out the size of the bag. There must be something with a little orange in it . . .

Parting shot today is Lily, my feline sewing assistant. She's almost the only cat allowed in the workroom - she's very well behaved, except when I'm working with linings. She loves to chew on the slippery fabric and then spend the rest of the night wandering around the house, coughing dramatically and giving me that guilt-inducing face that only a cat can give ... "you made me eat the acetate, you forced it on me, and now I'm choking and it's all your fault." That face.

Friday, August 22, 2008


That's what I am today. It was worse last night.

Yesterday at lunch I went to the bookstore and bought about 12 lbs. of fall fashion magazines. I have a subscription to Vogue, but it hadn't arrived yet, so I thought if I purchased a little competition it might show up. So I got W and Elle's fall fashion issues, and when I got home last night, there was Vogue, sitting in the hallway waiting for me, snugly wrapped up with the Fashion Rocks magazine just to add to the excess.

After the gym and dinner, we curled up on the couch - Mario with the remote and a fine selection of presidential politics and me with the post-its and a stack of magazines.

Several hours later, when I looked up, I couldn't see straight. Ever play a game on your computer for so long that when you go to bed you can still see it moving behind your eyes? I felt like my brain had been put into a blender with a box of crayons. Colors and textures and fabrics, oh my.

Lots of ideas, lots of colors, lots of things to try to work into my fall sewing. Like Carolyn, I loved all the lace that Prada was showing (and I'm lusting after that brown lace she got from Kashi). Liked the pencil skirts and some of the retro-looking stuff. Hated the bow blouses (some parts of the 1980s just shouldn't return). And the fact that D&G, among others, are still doing some form of boho/peasant/gypsy makes me happy, because not for anyone am I giving up my love of dressing in several patterns at once and doing fishface if someone asks, "Does that actually ... go together?"

I left W in the office yesterday because I couldn't carry both magazines home with my other shopping. The post-its and I are going to have a lovely lunch today.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Tale of Two Skirts

The mini wardrobe entry is going to consist of the Chanel jacket, a top and two skirts. I was going to make one skirt and a pair of pants, but I have quite a few pants and I'm trying to get into wearing more skirts. Besides, the one skirt I really wanted to make had to be brown, and I just didn't see myself getting a lot of wear out of olive green pants. Maybe I would, but the fabric definitely would rather be a skirt.

The first skirt is BWOF 8/08 #121, the fitted skirt with the godets at the bottom. The photo in the magazine caught my eye - it actually shows the skirt instead of hiding it - and the line drawing was even better. I liked that the godets were cut with the skirt, rather than having separate godet pieces which are always such fun to line up. The skirt ended up really full at the bottom, but quite fitted at the top. Actually, what I put in the review (drafted, but not yet up) is that this is a booty skirt. Seriously. If you have one and want to conceal it in any way, find another pattern. If you have one and want to show it off, or if you don't have much and want to make it look better, get your tracing paper now. Seriously.

The second skirt is BWOF 2/08 #111, the pencil skirt with the sewn-on bands. I didn't like this at all in the magazine when it came out. But then again I didn't really like anything in that issue, and now I've made two things and have a few more on the radar. Sometimes it just takes a while to sink in. The original plan was to topstitch the bands in brown, gold and green, to match the jacket and the other colors in the min-wardrobe, but I tried that on a scrap of the fabric and just didn't like it. Topstitching in green will at least give me the option of wearing the skirt with different things.

Both of these skirts fit without alteration in a size 38, which makes me happy. Usually I have an issue with BWOF skirts in that while I may have hips, they are apparently not in the same place that BWOF thinks they should be, because I always need to adjust the hip curve. Not this time. I think for the brown skirt there were just so many pieces it gave a really flattering fit without having to tweak. For the green, I'm not so sure, I think it might have been that the skirt darts were actually horizontal, and are hidden behind the bands, instead of the usual vertical darts. There are no darts at all in the skirt back, just a wide back yoke that meets up (or almost meets up, depending on which side of my skirt you're on) with the front bands.

So I guess doing these two skirts isn't really repeating myself - they really don't have much in common, except that they fit and I like them.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Drumroll, please . . .

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present the completed Chanel jacket?

Last night I sewed the last button on top of the last covered snap and did some final pressing. Earlier, I had thought that would be all, but it struck me that some kind of trim along the seam between the jacket and the lining would make it look really finished. So on Tuesday I had jury duty, and aferward I went down to 4th Street to the fabric stores to look for trim. Nada. Zip. Nothing. If I wanted to look like grandma's favorite chair, no problem. If I wanted to glitter, sparkle or walk down the aisle - they had it all. But a simple, narrow green braid? Pfffft.

Yesterday at lunch I walked down to my local store, knowing that they would have absolutely nothing, and while they pretty much met that expectation, they did at least have some satin rat-tail cord in the right shade of green, so I bougth a few yards of that, pressed it flat, and hand-stitched it along the seam last night while watching TV. (It's nice every once in a while to bring some sewing into the living room so that Mario knows I still live here).

That being done, I pressed some more, and here's the jacket, resting comfortably on Evelyn after all my labors. There will be photographs of the jacket on me, I promise, but not in my current, ratty-haired, thread-covered state. And preferably wearing something other than camo shorts and a tank top underneath. Though a nice jacket can make almost everything look better.

Maybe not that, though.

After having wrestled with covered button, covering the snaps wasn't hard to do, and the look was exactly what I wanted. I might not want to try this with little bitty snaps, my patience not always being what I think it is, but with these big babies, it was really ... a snap. Sorry. I had to.

I think my favorite part of this jacket, aside from the fabric, the lining fabric and the buttons, is the collar. It's the most vintage-looking part of the jacket to me, it's really flattering on, and it's just different from anything else I have.

All in all, I'm really happy with this. It's been a good few weeks of work, and there's nothing better than being happy with the result of work that has engaged you this much.

A friend asked me by email the other day, "How many jackets can you possibly need? Why would you ever want to make another one?" Funny, because it's not like she's not creative herself; she's a painter. I asked her if she'd never paint again if she ran out of wall space and she said, "Of course I would. It's my art."

There you go; one person's art goes on the wall, another person's art goes in her closet. Who's to say which one is better? I think for both of us it's really as much about the process as the result, she just doesn't see my finished product as valid in the same way as a painting or a piece of sculpture, whereas I think that if you put your efforts, thoughts, creativity, work and, occasionally, blood into a project, it's art if you want to call it that.

Can you tell she made me a little grumpy?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Finishing Touches

Since I last checked in, I finished bagging the lining and pressed everything. Have I mentioned how much I love pressing this fabric? It presses almost to a knife-edge, which you wouldn't expect from something bulky and fluffy. And yet it retains its bulky fluffiness while somehow looking neat and tailored. I love good fabric.

I pressed and steamed and rolled the collar and it's behaving just the way I want it to.

I've sewn on the pocket buttons. I love that the small buttons are full-size facing animals, while the large buttons are just animal heads.

I've marked where I want the snaps, and I've started to cover them. Once I've finished, I'll sew on the rest of the buttons. There’s a great tutorial on Patternreview for covering snaps - good thing, because my first attempts looked like a kindergarten project. These were a little more difficult anyway, because of the size - the tip of the snap can't just poke through the fabric because it's too big, so I put a tiny drop of fabric glue on the back of the lining fabric, let it dry partway and then cut a small X in the fabric so I could slip it over the snap. The tacky glue just makes it adhere better to the metal so there'll be no fraying.

It seems like I've been working on this forever, but I think that's because I was sewing it in my head for a week solid before I ever took scissors to fabric. Actually the project has gone along pretty smoothly, considering the number of extra steps I've added to a more or less straightforward jacket pattern.

And considering that I've never actually looked at the instructions for the pattern, either. When I laid out all the pieces and started working on the muslin, everything made sense without the instructions, so I decided I would look at them later. Later on nothing ever happened that made me need them, so I'm pretty happy about that. Once I'm done the jacket I'll read through them, if only for the sake of the pattern review. Interesting how sewing lots of BWOF and Patrones has made me less reliant on instructions.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My Loss = Your Gain, Part 2

Okay, I had a surge of energy the other night (and an equal surge of disgust at the state of my storage shelves, trunks, closet, bins, tubs, etc.), and here's a partial result of my organization. All fabrics shown are free to a good home, I only want to be reimbursed for postage (Paypal preferred).

Tale of Two Denims: purchased at my local store's remnant section. I should should know better, but they rarely have anything there that I like (the store's main purpose for me is thread and zippers), and when there's something usable, I find it hard to resist. I bought these because I wanted to make new shorts. However, I bought these several years ago, and finally found a shorts pattern I liked this year. Problem: almost nothing in my current wardrobe goes with these two fabrics, and I don't really want to buy new fabric to match shorts fabric that isn't even shorts yet. That would defeat the purpose. One yard of salmon/orange denim, 2 yards of the aqua. Nice mid-weight, pre-washed.

Next, the fabric that never became a dress: 3 yards drapy poly crepe in warm brown with violet flowers. This fabric probably began my love affair with brown. So why have I never sewn it up, you ask? Possibly because while I love brown, I don't like purple. Maybe because I don't like how I look in clothes with that much drape - though I could have just made something not so drapy with it. Not quite sure, but it's been hanging around for at least 4 years. Originally from, pre-washed.

2 yards beige/tan bottom-weight (lighter bottom-weight). Love the feel of the fabric - it's almost sueded - and I like the faint herringbone. Problem - it's one of THOSE tans. You know, the ones that look tan until you put them with brown, and then they look gray. But if you put them with gray, then they look tan. It would play well with other colors, just not the earth-tones in my wardrobe. Pre-washed, been around so long that provenance is unknown, suspected to be remnant rack of local store.

1 yard green Provencal print cotton. This was purchased from about 3 years ago for a specific home dec project that never materialized. Would make a cute home dec project or maybe a bag. Pre-washed.

1.5 yards tan poly gabardine. Nice basic color, nice drape. Doesn't do a thing for me. Nice, but not fabulous, would make a good wearable muslin. Doesn't weigh much so if you take something, this wouldn't add much to the postage.

2 yards coral/melon poly satin (my local store calls this Italian satin). Purchased to make PJs for Mario's sister, but it didn't match the robe fabric. Pre-washed and dried, no shrinkage. Something nice about a fabric that takes abuse well.

So there we are, round 2 of the stash purge. Take it away. Please.

There's still more where that came from, I just can't face thinking about it right now.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Mini Wardrobe Contest

Like I don't have enough on my plate. But I'm closing in on the end of the jacket, and it really does need some friends . . .

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Open Jacket, Insert Lining

Wow. That's all I have to say. Every time I look at that lining, I smile. Maybe the insertion could have been better - there are a few tiny puckers along the top that don't seem to want to press out - but the combination of fabrics just makes me happy.

I still have to attach the lining to the sleeve hems and finish the bottom, but the facing part and the neck seam are done.

Before I sewed in the lining, I dealt with the pocket issue. I've been flip-flopping between patch pockets and faux pocket flaps, and I finally went for the patch pockets, mainly because I had two scraps of boucle big enough to make pockets. They are lined in the silk as well, and since I have 6 buttons and only need for the jacket front, the last 2 will go on the pockets.

I am so loving this jacket.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Full Steam Ahead

And I do mean steam. I put in the sleeves last night, and I have to say, between removing the excess ease and the magic of steam on wool, they went in beautifully. I literally had to put in about 5 ease stitches, and I think I did that mostly for the joy of steaming it into shape.

While the sleeve was resting on the pressing ham, I played with the collar. I really like the shape of this collar, and I can see that I'll have more quality time with lots of hot steam getting it to stand and roll the way I want.

I debated about the collar - there was only enough boucle for one, and I thought that doing the under collar (for which there is a separate piece - I love thoughtful patterns!) in the boucle would make it bulky anyway. So I was torn. I probably should have done it in the solid sleeve lining fabric, but the pattern-loving part of me couldn't resist using the lining silk.

Speaking of the the lining silk, I constructed the lining tonight - patterned body, boucle facing, solid sleeves. I like it. A lot. I think I finally understand how women can forget the pain of childbirth, because when I was fighting tooth and claw with that slippery silk charmeuse, I didn't think I'd ever be able to sit back and admire my lining without remembering the pain. Guess what? Looking at the result, I can barely remember how much trouble it gave me.

I suppose that's how the human race has survived this long.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Christmas in August

Presents for no reason at all are sometimes the best kind. Yesterday was one of those days.

I was making cookies last night and the doorbell rang. It was my plumber. Now, he was just out the other week doing some routine stuff, but there was no reason for him to stop by. I ask what's up, and he says to come out to his truck, he's got something for me. I follow him outside, and in the van is a 1951 Singer table model sewing machine. One of his customers gave it to him and he thought of me.

He didn't even know that I sewed; he thought it was old and pretty, and even if I didn't know how to use it, he thought it would look nice sitting around my house. We lugged it inside, and it's sitting in my dining room right now, where it might actually stay - it is a nice dark wood table and it does look good under the window, there's no more machine space in the workroom, and if this thing is as heavy-duty as it looks, it's going to become the leather machine and I'll just use it downstairs.

There's a box of what he called "parts" (I'm assuming presser feet, ruffler, etc.) that he left in the shop and will drop off next week. In the table drawer, there were about a dozen bobbins, still with thread. I'm pretty excited to have a new (old) toy to play with.

Even more fun, I received a copy of the August 2008 issue of Knip Mode. I've never gotten to look through one of their magazines before, and it looks pretty interesting. After Patrones, I'm not put off by the fact that it's in Dutch; their line drawings are extremely clear and the illustrated instructions I saw didn't need to be in English to make sense.

Knip Mode is apparently as parka-happy as BWOF (is it me, or is this not what you think of when you think "parka?"). Whatever. It's cute, and I like it. Maybe instead of a BWOF parka, I'll try this one.

I also like the back section of the magazine, where there were 3 pictures of actresses/famous women - Kate Winslet, Nicole Kidman and someone I don't know - with a pattern and styling suggestions for reproducing what they're wearing. I like the Nicole Kidman jacket - wouldn't mind making that up. I'm pretty sure I have several fabrics that would work for this. Two or three. Or more.

Anybody out there have any experience with Knip Mode? I'd be curious to hear how their sizing runs as compared to BWOF and Patrones. There have been a bunch of issues on Ebay lately, so if I like this, I'll consider picking up a few more. You know, to join the BWOFs and the Patrones subscription that should be arriving one of these days.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Moving Right Along

I've been busy, busy, busy with the Chanel jacket. It's been hard to drag myself out of the workroom to do anything else. Isn't it fabulous when a project takes over?

Oh, the picture. That's the back of the button. Not only are they from Paris, but they even say so. How cool is that?

The interfacing is done, and the batiste is hand-stitched to the boucle. I like underlining so much more than interfacing; it really adds to the texture of the fabric, where most of the time interfacing changes the nature of the fabric completely. I still needed some interfacing for the collar and facing, but without using a fusible, I got less stiffness than I expected – which was good.

Last night I stitched the body of the jacket together. I think it works. Because the front/facing pieces are cut shorter, it looks a little odd when I put it on. But all will be well in the end, or so I hope.

I've decided not to attempt buttonholes in this fabric – bound or traditional. Bound buttonholes would be really nice, but I haven't done them before and I don't know as this is the fabric I want to experiment on. Boucle just fuzzes everywhere – ask my sewing machine. I picked up some oversized snaps (almost penny-sized) and I'm going to cover them in leftover lining fabric. Yes, the urine sample lining fabric will be prominently displayed so that all those who turned up their noses at it will be staggered by how perfect it is.

Up next: setting in the sleeves. Otherwise known as spending lots and lots of quality time with the iron and the pressing ham.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Pattern Alterations

Last week I put together of a muslin of the jacket pattern out of some mismatched home dec fabric I had in the closet. The pattern fit pretty well right out of the envelope, but isn't there always room for improvement?

My main change to the the muslin was to take in the top between the front piece and the side front piece – it seemed a little roomy up there, and I could envision it getting worse once it had a big collar sitting on it.

And even though it's easier to ease a sleeve in wool than in just about any other fabrics, I still folded about 1 ½ inches out of the sleeve cap. Honestly, I don't know why pattern manufacturers think we need that much space in a sleeve. Most RTW doesnt require that kind of easing, and RTW manufacturers have all kinds of steam gadgets and pressing hams outside my wildest dreams. If it was necessary, I'd like to think they'd do it.

The third alteration was for my own satisfaction. The front of the jacket is princess-seamed, but the back just has a center seam. That seemed off-balance to me, so I redrafted the back pattern piece so that the seams mimic the front. Not that it will really be visible in the boucle, but I'll know it's there, and it'll fit better because of it.

So other than those 3 alterations, the pattern looks good as is. I like the length – even though it is a little short and boxy, not always a good look for me, the appeal of the pattern is its vintage style, and that's the length this jacket should be.

Friday, August 1, 2008

One Minute Past Midnight

And I started my jacket. I've been itching to get at this project ever since the stars aligned and I found the perfect lining fabric in NY for the Chanel boucle I bought in Baltimore. And when I realized that my animal head buttons from Paris would work with those fabrics - well, I've had to sit on my hands not to pick up the scissors before the official start of the contest.

So last night, after watching the end of the Knit Contest on Patternreview to make sure there were no problems, and having taken myself a nap earlier in the evening (I wasn't kidding about that 12:01 start), I laid out my pattern pieces very carefully on the boucle and started cutting. And there was almost enough. Actually, there was enough - the shortage was expected because I had laid out the pattern pieces on the boucle and altered the pattern to suit what fabric I had. The center front piece doubles as the inside facing, and when I came up the tiniest bit short, I decided that I didn't need a full-width facing, I just had to make sure there was enough facing to support the buttons and buttonholes (or covered snaps, I'm still torn at this point).

I'm also limited on silk for the lining - when will I ever learn to buy enough fabric? - but there was enough to compensate for the half-facing I'd cut. I went to my local fabric store last week with a scrap of the silk to try to find fabric for the sleeve linings and came away with an acidic green that matches the yellow-green of the silk almost perfectly. One of my co-workers refers to it as "urine sample green." Isn't that lovely?

The jacket fabric, the cotton batiste underlining and the lining fabrics are all cut out. I also cut interfacing for the collar and the jacket facing. I'm using a lighter weight woven interfacing. I decided to go with a sew-in rather than a fusible because even though the boucle irons beautifully, I don't trust most fusibles to stick properly, or forever. On a project that means this much, I'll suck it up and sew it in by hand.

Since nothing photogenic has happened yet in the workroom, I leave you with a shot of hazy, hot and humid Philadelphia, as seen from my train stop this morning.