Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Last purchases for 2008

I thought I was done. I said I was done. But austerity will begin anew tomorrow. I took advantage of the Vogue sale ($4.75 per pattern, you just have to wait until January 5 for them to ship) and I picked up OOP Butterick 3344 on Ebay after seeing it made up on Patternreview.

Can a girl have too many knit tops? I don't think so. And a pattern with that many variations is hard to resist. So I didn't. Especially since it was out of print.

The same explanation goes for Vogue 8536 - t-shirt, mock wrap, v-neck, sleeve variations. This one will be the basis for many other things.

I know, I know, my KwikSew T is my go-to T pattern, but it doesn't hurt to see what else is out there, right?

Then there's Vogue 8473, which I fell for when it was released last year. Mostly it's the jacket, but the more I look at the dress, the more I like it as well.

And last, but not least, another out-of-print pattern, McCall 5392 - the skinny jeans that Dei made with such success. I though I should snag them from Ebay when I saw them there in my size.

I feel only so bad about this small binge: two Vogue, $4.75 each; one OOP Butterick, $3.00 plus shipping; one McCall, $1.00 plus shipping. Basically, four patterns for under $20, including shipping costs.

Did I mention there was also free shipping with the Vogue pattern sale?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Last Project for 2008

Done and on my back as I (slowly) type. Full post and review to come.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Least Worn of 2008

Since I did a top 10 list, I should be fair and present my least worn sewing projects for the year. Again, this is a personal list so there are random reasons why these garments all made it here, but the main one is that they've hardly been worn, and that means there's something not right. That differs from piece to piece.

KS 3620 blouse - It's okay. It's a white shirt, so how bad can it be? I'm just not thrilled with it, even with the cool gray buttons that at least make it interesting enough to put on, but not so interesting that I get excited about wearing it.

BWOF 3/08 #108 blouse. Indefinable. It's okay comfortable but not fabulous. I love the fabric. I like the buttons I ended up using, but for some reason I just keep reaching past this one in the closet. I need to wear it a few more times to figure out why, and if I still don't get it, a friend will.

BWOF 3/08 #115 dress - it's almost TOO fitted. If I have to wiggle into the shapewear every time to make this look right, then it's not going to get worn a lot. But it's Liberty of London and I love the fabric with all my heart, so it's going to stay in the closet whether I wear it or not because it's beautiful.

V 7903 Today's Fit blouse - I'm beginning to think I like the idea of blouses better than the reality. I make them, I fit them, I don't wear them. And I really liked the shirting I used on this one. So what's my deal here? Why do I like making shirts but not wearing them?

BWOF 6/07 #113 shaped pencil skirt - I oopsed on this one and didn't cut seam allowances. Since the corduroy was stretch, I did manage to make it fit. It's a bit snug but my reservation isn't the tightness, it's more of a design thing. I tend to like BWOF's oddly pieced pencil skirts, but this one isn't the most flattering they ever did. Now that I've considered it in the cold light of day, it's probably leaving the closet.

V 2980 top - this was a wadder, plain and simple. User error, bad fabric choice, awful fit. But I know this was me, because I've seen many, many great version of this top, so I'll give it another chance in a better fabric.

There were other wadders that never made it to the review stage - such as the Patrones blouse made from the leftovers of one of my Parisian cottons. This was before I realized just how small Patrones ran compared to BWOF. It's still in the 2/3 done phase, but may get finished one of these days and given to a thinner, less boob-ulous friend.

Wadders are a necessity, I guess. If we didn't occasionally turn out a project that made us flinch, what would be the motivation to try harder?

So, onward and upward to next year's successes and wadders - here's hoping there's more of the former.

Hoping everyone had a wonderful holiday, whichever one you choose to celebrate (or not). Mine was mostly quiet, which was what I was hoping for, though not as much sewing got done as I would have liked since I copied Christina and fell on Christmas Eve and strained my right wrist. But it's mending and the workroom is calling my name . . .

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Is it January yet?

I've been perusing the preview of BWOF's January issue, and man, I am itching to start some of these. Of course I don't have the issue yet, and probably won't for at least the first few days of the new year, but here are the top 4 from the issue, including fabric choices:

#106 knit dress.

Isn't this fabulous? When I was in NY last week getting the buttonholes done on my coat, I made a flying stop at Metro Textiles and Kashi talked me into buying some of this new knit he'd just unwrapped. How could I resist? He said I was the first customer to see it. I assumed it would want to be a dress, but it hadn't announced which one until I opened the preview and saw this. I like that the skirt's not too full, the neck's not too low and I love those sleeves! I might actually take them up a bit so that they're closer to 3/4 so I don't drag them through my dinner, but that's neither here nor there - I want the dress.

#114 double-breasted jacket.

This is just the cutest thing. And even before I saw that they did it in a plaid, I was thinking about the red/black/gray plaid I bought at Kashi's in November. And then I looked at their example with the bias plaid band around the edges and that just did it - looking at it when I got home tonight, my fabric is even more similar than I realized, and I think it will work well. I just have to dig through the button stash and find something not-too-flashy for this one.

#109 pea coat.

Okay, so these are the exact same pockets I just eliminated from my brown coat, but now I like them. And this pea coat for some reason wants to be made in a slightly metallic herringbone wool I bought at Jomar last month. Don't ask why - a metallic herringbone wool pea coat seems odd even to me, but I'm going to have one in the not-too-distant future.

#124 waistcoat/vest.

I don't actually have the fabric picked out for this one, but I've been on a vest kick lately and this is a different cut from the ones I've already sewn.

I think first up will be the dress, because it will be hands-down the easiest of the three major projects there. Maybe I'll even get acquainted with my new coverstitch machine in time to hem it!

Monday, December 22, 2008

2008: A personal top 10 list

While I was totally impressed with the way some people went over their projects for the year, noting numbers of garments sewn, which pattern companies, etc., my mind wasn't working that way this year. I decided simply to go over my reviews for the past year, and list my own personal 10 best. There are reasons for each choice, some of which make sense and some of which probably don't, but that's the joy of it being a personal list.

So here goes:

BWOF 9/07 #104 - the most recent major project, the wool coat. For sheer size of project this one had to make the list, but it also has to be there for the number of challenges involved in making it - having the fabric steam pressed, block fusing interfacing to the fabric, using hair canvas for the first time, altering the pattern, having the buttonholes professionally done in NYC. I'm kind of surprised that I made this entire coat without once referring to the directions - I think this comes not just from experience but from the knowledge that BWOF is just as likely to confuse me as cut through the fog. This was a big project in more ways than one. I enjoyed almost all of it, I'm glad it's over, and I'll probably do it again. But not too soon.

Hotpatterns YSL Homage Tote - I thought that my leather jacket project taught me about working with leather, but this one really pushed me. I tried different techniques and notions with this bag and learned that yes, you can iron leather, so long as you use a decent weight press cloth, and you don't always have to glue your seams open if you have Steam-A-Seam on hand. I battled (I won't say conquered) my fear of embellishment and used studs on the bag in a way that I think is really pretty cool. I indulged my love of excessive linings with an orange dragon print brocade.

McCall 5007 - the "vintage" jacket made from Chanel boucle picked up at a Fabric Place during the PR Baltimore shopping day. This was an interesting project - I learned a lot about fit and working with fragile fabrics on this one. Plus it has PR shopping connections, which makes it special. For some reason, I don't wear this one a lot, though. I'll have to figure out why.

Patrones 253-45. This was my first foray into Patrones - full on sewing without instructions. Thankfully their line drawings are clear and their pattern pieces are well marked. I didn't have much of a problem with this one and even added a full lining instead of their recommended facings. So far I've only tackled Patrones that I can understand from the line drawings and pattern pieces. Maybe next year I'll try one of the incomprehensible ones and see if I can make it work.

The Loaves & Fishes dress. This one is a Frankenpattern - pieces of McCalls, BWOF, and vintage-ish bits straight from my imagination. It was made with much less Liberty fabric than the patterns called for, and the fabric somehow managed to last to make the dress, hence the name.

KS 3422 - the chevron striped shirt that caused me to drink much wine. I still want to try this technique on a dress for myself, but I haven't been able to face all those stripes again. Yet.

BWOF 6/07 #126 - Nothing spectacular here, but this has become my TNT pants pattern. It's kind of irritating because this past year I finally worked out a good fly-front zipper and then I realized that my wardrobe and my body type both are more suited to a side zip. (Good thing I finally got the hang of invisible zippers in 2007). I've now made this pattern in black, brown, tan, charcoal gray and green plaid.

BWOF/108 #122 - Burda's poet/artist's shirt. There was no major challenge involved in this one - the placket was tricky and I spent some time swearing at the tiny covered buttons - but it mainly made the list because it caused me to finally use this fabric which I loved and which had been aging in stash. Sometimes it's just the combination of garment and fabric that makes it special and forces you to cut into something that has previously been "too good" to use.

V 7976 - the leather jacket. This is probably my most-worn project of 2008. I had no idea when I started that it would turn out that well, and that I would like it so much. This was the featured piece of my wardrobe contest entry, which explains the orange lining, but more than that it became the featured piece of my wardrobe. When I completed this project I said I didn't need to make another leather jacket but I do. I just bought skins for it this past weekend in NY and I can't wait to get started.

BWOF 5/08 #104 - this one is representative of a whole sub-category of sewing - 2008 was the year I discovered knit dresses, and also the year I discovered that my machines don't like hemming knit dresses. Right now, every one of them is unhemmed, but Santa brought me a coverstitch, so I'll do some makeup sewing in the new year.

To recap, 2008 was a very productive year. I made a lot, learned more, bought too much and, best of all, got to meet quite a few more of my virtual sewing friends in person. Sewing is a solitary pursuit, but not necessarily a lonely one. The loneliness of it comes when you don't have people to talk to about your work, and now I do. Thanks to all I've met over the last year, and to all those who've commented here - I may not ever meet most of you, but your words make a difference.

I hope that Santa fills your stockings with fabric and inspiration, and here's to good sewing to all in 2009.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Fabric Shopping

Just a few quick photos to share some of the bounty of Tuesday's trip to New York: leather from Mood, cotton and silk from Paron's and black diamond-weave wool from Kashi (overexposed so you can see the texture).

There were a few other scores - the floral knit that he talked me into by saying I was the first woman to see the fabric since he'd just opened the package, the olive linen - but those aren't within reach of camera and so will be shared later.

I'm looking forward to tackling the leather. I went through all my back issues of BWOF with Connie when she was down and decided - with her able assistance - which jacket will be the next leather. The pattern I chose looks nothing like a leather jacket at this point, but it will. I hope.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

KwikSew KwikSweater

After a long and complicated project like the coat, I needed something quick and easy to clear my head.

TNT patterns exist for that very reason.

A while back I got some lightweight sweater knits from, and ever since I've been trying to figure out what to do with them. They were a little lighter than they appeared, so they can't be worn without something underneath. I found a black slinky tank top I forgot I had, so that was my starting point: I could use either the gray, the blue or the gray/blue. I chose the blue speckled knit.

Using KwikSew 3263 (raglan-sleeve knit top) as the base, I lengthened the pattern by about 2" and instead of banding the wide neckline as per the instructions, I cut funnel neck about 16" high, folded it in half, and sewed it to the neckline. Then I topstitched the seam allowance to the top, pressed it off, and voila! - something new to wear to work today.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wow. I made a coat.

I'm still somewhat surprised that it's finished, that it turned out this well, that I wore it to work today and it stayed together and kept me warm. Why do we doubt that (even not at our best) we can still make things that are comparable, if not better, than RTW?

I had a lot of time on my hands last week to finish up the coat, and I did, all except for the buttonholes, which were dealt with yesterday. Thanks and kudos and all things good to LindsayT for her recommendation of Jonathan's Embroidery on 38th Street in NYC. I had a vacation day yesterday and we got up early and took the bus to NY and I ventured out into the cold and windy streets, clutching my coat closed with one hand. There was a short line at Jonathan's (5 women, all holding some wooly/velvet/brocade garment to their chests). I was the only one there actually wearing the garment intended to be buttonholed. I soon found out why.

Because they're busy, they make buttonholes. That's all. They don't actually open the buttonholes for you. Oops. Still, I happily paid my $5 for my 5 buttonholes and skipped off to Pacific Trims, still clutching my coat, where I bought notions for an upcoming project and a $1 seam ripper to tidy up my flying threads and actually open the buttonholes.

Speaking of New York, I did more than just have buttonholes made. Big surprise there, right? When I was dropped off at Jonathan's, we agreed to meet up at 1:00 p.m. to go to lunch. That left me almost 2 hours once the buttonholes were done. Yes, I'd like to linger and browse, but what one of us couldn't do a respectable amount of damage when turned loose in the garment district for just under 2 hours? I'm proud of what I accomplished in a short period.

First, even before Pacific Trims, I ducked into Mood. When I was up last month with Connie, Kisha, Lee and LindsayT, I spent some time looking at leather with Connie. I hadn't planned another leather jacket anytime soon, but there were some skins that really appealed to me and they were waiting when I went back yesterday. Mood's prices for leather are actually comparable to the "real" leather stores, so I didn't feel bad.

Next to Pacific, for a 22" zipper for the leather (yes, I have a pattern all picked out), and some square snaps. And that oh-so-necessary seam ripper.

Then back around to 37th Street to visit Kashi and thank him for opening for us last month. And to purchase a few yards of tan doubleknit, some really nice dark floral knit for a dress, a few yards of olive green slightly stretchy linen, and an absolutely beautiful black diamond-patterned wool for a Chanel-ish jacket.

Is Chanel jacket the newest disease? It's as contagious as one, let me tell you. I can see more buttonholes in my future . . .

Last stop, Paron's. I didn't really plan to go there, having already thrown money at Kashi and Mood, but it was right next to the comic book store where I was supposed to meet someone at 1:00 p.m., and it was only 12:30, so what could I do? I was good: I bought 2 yards of a gauzy cotton print for summer, and two yards of a black/brown/gold speckly silk for lining for that Kashi Chanel jacket. If I'd had more time - both for shopping and thinking - I would have run back to Pacific again for buttons and trims.

But I'll get up there again before spring. We took the Bolt bus yesterday, which came in at $18 round trip, and while there is traffic to deal with, in some respects it's better than the train - no change in Trenton, no chasing your departing train down the platform and having to wait . . . but then again there were the 20-somethings in the row behind us who, instead of actually having conversations, sat there in a row with their laptops and read each other's Facebook pages. One of them actually texted the one at the other end of the row.

I must be old.

Friday, December 12, 2008

BWOF 12/08 #118 Skirt - Finished!

The coat is almost done, but the head-cleaning project is finished - and worn already.

Pattern Description: You can't get more feminine than this! Diagonal section seams sculpt this knee-length skirt to the figure while a small back godet adds swing to the hem. Here's a picture of the skirt laid flat to show the section seams.
Pattern Sizing: BWOF 38-46. I made a 38 with no alterations.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? More like the drawing; the photo in the magazine was, as is typical with Burda, not very helpful since the model is holding her bag right in front of the curved seam.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Since I made some changes, I didn't use them. The pattern pieces are a little strange on this one, but once you look at them and see what you're doing, it's not a hard skirt at all. This is the layout for the pieces, to give an idea.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I liked this one when I saw it in the preview, and I traced it off right after the magazine arrived. I've been working on a coat lately and when I needed a break from it, this was the perfect project - not too complicated, not too long, great result. I wore it to my office holiday party today.

Fabric Used: Not quite sure. I bought it at Metro Textiles back in October, and Kashi called it "Italian rayon." I'm sure there's something else in there, but whatever it is, it's a wonderful drapy fabric. I topstitched all the curved seams with both brown and orange thread. Here's a closeup because the skirt photos really don't show the colors in the fabric. The lining is bright orange silk from the stash.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: One main one, which was to change location the zipper. BWOF drafted it to have a front fly zipper, and front seam curves down from the zip, but I thought that had too much potential for bulk, so I transferred the zip to the side and used an invisible one, and just made the front as a curved seam instead and topstitched to accent the seamlines.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Absolutely on both counts. You might not think this would be a repeat because the seaming would make it too memorable, but I don't think so. This skirt, even with the topstitching, is pretty much a basic color for my wardrobe. I'd like to make a summer version in a patterned fabric that would really work with the curved seams and bias godet in the back.

Conclusion: A great, flattering skirt that fits right into my existing wardrobe in both style and color. There are definitely a few more of these on my horizon - it has the fit of a pencil skirt but with more movement.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

BWOF 12/08 #118 Skirt

This skirt caught my eye on the preview, and it only got better when I saw the line drawing on Burda's website. I love shapes that are achieved by non-traditional seaming, and this definitely fits the bill. Possibly more so once I "fixed" it.

The original skirt has a traditional fly-front zip which curves into a wrap-around seam which meets in the back. My version of this skirt has a curved seam in the front and an invisible zipper on the left side, which I feel is way more comfortable and also more flattering - no zipper bunching up under a knit top, my favorite look. There was a left side seam to use, so why not? I actually debated splitting the back piece, which is cut on the fold, but I decided that would actually affect the integrity of the design, so I left it alone.

I started cutting this out on Sunday, during a coat break, and the pieces are as interesting-looking as the resulting skirt. Everything is more or less cut on the straight grain, but I'm getting an urge to try this in a light-weight summer fabric with a chaotic print and just letting bias and straight grain fight it out. Could be fun, no?
The fabric is from Kashi (of course), purchased during the PR October shopping day. I'm not sure what it is exactly, but Kashi said it was "Italian rayon." Whatever it is, it survived the washer/dryer challenge with minimal shrinkage and a slight softening of the texture. For a lined skirt, it's not like that's going to happen very often, but I wanted to know what I was dealing with and it didn't disappoint. Though Kashi's fabrics rarely disappoint, so I shouldn't be too surprised.

I love the colors in the fabric, the tiny flecks of gold and orange that probably don't show up all too well in the picture. I'm thinking that any topstitching I do on this skirt may be orange. Would that be too awful? Should I use gold?

Also, the original skirt has a waistband, and I'm seriously thinking about losing the waistband and making a facing instead. Since I apparently lost control of my waist not long after my 40th birthday, fitted waistbands are not my friend.

Muffin-top is bad enough in jeans; it should be illegal spilling over a too-tight waistband. And since I'm not in my 20s anymore, I choose not to suffer for fashion. (I have clear memories of waistbands digging in to the point of raw, red lines around my waist when I got changed after work, but dang, I looked good during the day. Didn't I?)

Do you ever wish you could go back in time and see how you really looked when you thought you looked fabulous? Maybe not such a good idea after all.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Enough Already

I spent Sunday with my coat. I got the lining in (yay!), got everything pressed flat, and added buttons to the sleeve belts and the back belt. Did I mention I added a back belt? It's not fitted at all, just something to take out some of the fullness without belting the whole coat in. I like it.

The shape of the coat, now that I can see it as a coat instead of a collection of separate sewing projects, is looking very much like one of my relatives' vintage coats. It should have a ratty mink collar to make it look thoroughly aunt-like. But I like the non-shape shape, it actually looks way more flattering on me than it does on Evelyn.

I actually had to take a break from it for a while in the afternoon because I couldn't stand the sight of it anymore. I'll be fine tomorrow to do the finish work, but at about 3:00 p.m. I would have happily pitched the whole thing just to not have to look at it anymore. Ever get that way with a project?

To escape,I went upstairs to the guest room (recently vacuumed for Connie's visit and still cat-hair-free) and cut out BWOF 12/08 #118. It's a skirt with very interesting piecing, and of course, I'm not doing it their way. More on that later.

After getting that all cut out, though, my head was clearer and I went back to the workroom and got the lining into the coat without any problems. Rather than bagging the entire lining, I just did facing to coat and I'm going to hand-sew the bottom and sleeve hems. I did think about bagging the whole thing, but once again, the thickness of the fabric made me reconsider - the thought of turning this whole coat inside out through an opening in the bottom was just risking shred-of-brocade, and that I'm not having.

So next up (tomorrow, unless I need further resting) are all the hems, marking the buttonholes, a good bit more pressing, and sewing on the buttons.

This way, I figure, if it's not too cold on December 16, I can wear my unbuttoned coat to NY, and just button myself up after visiting Jonathan's. That would be way easier than having to wear one coat and carry another. And it will make me very precise in marking my buttonholes, won't it?

Can't wait to start sewing something else. I know I'm actually making pretty good time on this, but I'm tired of it now.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like ... a coat

Kind of hard to tell at this point, and on Evelyn, but it does seem more-or-less coat-like.

I got the collar on smoothly and did a little buttonhole experimentation - I put buttonholes on the sleeve belts because they're not going to get heavy use so it won't be noticeable if they're not perfect - and it proved to me that I'm definitely going to get the rest of the buttonholes done professionally. These don't look bad, but they aren't perfect and the machine actually wheezed a few times when trying to get through several layers of wool. Not worth the effort for either of us when Jonathan's can do them for $1 apiece.

I omitted the welt pockets because I really didn't like them for this coat, and I'm very glad I did, because aside from the fact that my welt pocket abilities leave a lot to be desired, this wool is sufficiently heavy that I'm not sure I'd make anything other than a lumpy mess. I got the first patch pocket on last night, and will do the second one today. It's ridiculous how difficult it is to get things lined up evenly!

After that, we're going to introduce the coat to the lining and see if they like each other. I'm enjoying making this coat, but now that the unfamiliar part of the process is over and it's putting a lining in something and doing the finish work, I'm getting antsy to start something else.

Like maybe that gold and black plaid wool from Kashi. It wants to be a BWOF jacket when it grows up.

But if I had any sense at all, I'd be thinking Christmas presents. Somehow it's the 7th of December and I don't have anything finished yet. Ack.

Friday, December 5, 2008

BWOF 12/08 #127B Robe

Those who received their December issues and noticed that the instructions for #127 were in German, you aren't alone. Burdamode was made aware, and posted the English version of the instructions on their site.

As a public service announcement, they're also printed below:

Burda sizes 36, 38, 40, 42, 44

Back length about 98 cm (39 ins)Materials: 150 cm (59 in) wide stretch jersey: 2.50 – 2.55 – 2.55 – 2.60 – 2.60 m (2 3⁄4 – 2 7⁄8 – 2 7⁄8 – 2 7⁄8 – 2 7⁄8 yds).

Vilene/Pellon G 785.

Stretch lace trim with one scalloped edge, 1 cm (3⁄8 in) wide: 1.90 – 1.95 – 2.00 – 2.00 – 2.05 m (2 1⁄8 – 2 1⁄4 – 2 1⁄4 – 2 1⁄4 – 2 1⁄4 yds).

A twin machine needle.

Recommended fabrics: Jersey or fine knits.

Preparation: Trace pattern pieces from pattern sheet. Follow lines and details for style 127 B. Glue pattern pieces 1 and 1a and 2 and 2a together at joining lines. Lengthen piece 1 as indicated. Trace the facing from piece 1 as a separate pattern piece. Trace pocket piece from piece 1 as a separate pattern piece – it is the same for all sizes. The loop marking on piece 2 is for size 36. Draw in the marking for the other sizes. Seam and hem allowances:Seams and edges 1.5 cm (5⁄8 in), hem 3 cm (1 1⁄4 ins). Cutting out:1 front with collar and sleeve x2 front facing with collar x2 pocket piece x42 back with sleeve x2a) tie belt, 126 – 130 – 134 – 138 – 142 cm (49 3⁄4 – 51 1⁄4 – 52 3⁄4 – 54 1⁄2 – 56 ins) long, 9 cm (3 1⁄2 ins) wide, finished width 4.5 cm (1 3⁄4 ins), b) 2 belt carriers, a total of 14 cm (5 1⁄2 ins) long, 4 cm (1 5⁄8 ins) wide (incl. allowance), c) 2 sleeve bands, 30.5 – 31 – 31.5 – 32 – 32.5 cm (12 – 12 1⁄4 – 12 1⁄2 – 12 3⁄4 – 12 7⁄8 ins) long, 5.5 cm (2 1⁄4 ins) wide.

Interfacing: See pattern layout.

Construction: Sew as described for style 127 A, but working pockets in side seams and sewing sleeve bands to sleeves. – Stitch side seams and underneath sleeve seams as continous seams, leaving pocket openings between markings. See style 120 for inseam pockets. – Stitch ends of sleeve bands together. Stitch sleeve bands to lower edges of sleeves, right side facing wrong side. Lay sleeve bands down and stitch to seam allowances, close to joining seam. Turn sleeve bands up on outside of sleeves, turn in at abutting line, and pin. Baste trim to sleeve, over upper edge of band, turning in ends at underneath sleeve seam. Edgestitch trim in place, catching the band.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Picking up Speed

The coat is now moving along faster than expected, but that's because himself is involved with a special work project and is getting in late every night this week and next , so I can spend massive amounts of time in the workroom without feeling like I've abandoned anyone. (Except the cats, and they're pretty good about voicing their disappointment in my neglect).

The body of the coat is now together, and I'm loving it. Of course with the current state of my workroom, it crashes into something every time I try to sew a seam on it - I'm used to dealing with smaller pieces and more flexible fabric, but since it's more or less cooperating, I'm not going to complain.

Last night's project was the collar. BWOF intends this pattern to be used everything from a light jacket to a fake fur coat, but I don't think they took into consideration the absolute joy of making a two-part collar in wool coating or - sewing gods forbid! - fur. I briefly thought about attempting a collar stand/ collar construction, and then came to my senses.

Since I needed to draft another pattern piece for the under-collar anyway, I redrafted the upper collar so that it was collar-and-stand in one, and then carefully marked the roll line of the collar. Because I hadn't done this before, I compared my resulting pattern piece to several of the collars in the recent issue of Patrones with all the coats (their coats all had one-piece collars) and it looked right. I cut my two-piece undercollar, sewed and pressed, and then used my fusible hair canvas to beef up the upper collar. Even though it's not the "right" kind of hair canvas, I do still like the body and crispness it gives to fabric. Must get the real stuff next time!

The collar went together well. I started at the center seam and sewed outward in both directions so the collar didn't stretch or end up uneven. This is something that Pam Erny recommended in her shirt collar construction and even though it's sometimes a pain to stop and start rather than whizz right along, it's easier than whizzing right along, messing up and having to pick out all the stitches, especially when they sink so nicely into the wool that they're almost invisible.

Kudos to BWOF for making this collar curved rather than pointed, and to me for deciding not to change it, because making nice clean points would have been a bear in fabric this bulky. They would have been do-able, but there would have been some pretty unpleasant language being tossed around the workroom and Evelyn would have turned her back on me. Pressed, pressed again and pinned to the ham, then steamed and left to rest overnight, the collar seems pretty comfortable today.

Next up: attaching the collar to the coat, basting the hems of the sleeves so that the lining can be attached, and yes, attaching said lining. But first I still have to determine the final length of the coat (that might be a good idea), and iron some more of that hair canvas along the hemline. I did that with the sleeves and it really gave me a nice crisp edge.

I have two vacation days left and I'm taking them on December 15 and 16. His project will be done by then so we're going up to NY for the day on December 16, and I've more or less promised that my only sewing-related activity for the day will be to take my coat to Jonathan's to have the buttonholes made. Fingers crossed that it's actually a nice enough day that I can wear the coat unbuttoned instead of having to carry it with me.

Even though it's a little quiet around the house in the evenings, I'm thankful that this work project of his coincides with my coat project because I'm going to have time to get it finished before my day off. My original plan with this was to poke along and take my time and then go up to NY sometime after the holidays, but if I have two weeks of evenings to myself, there's absolutely no reason I can't get it finished and have the buttonholes made this month so that I actually can wear the coat this winter.

That's the plan, and hopefully I'm sticking to it.

Now if I can only stick to the promise to do nothing else sewing-related when we go to NY. I feel myself slipping already.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

BWOF December 2008

A brief break from coat construction to share my delight in this month's issue of BWOF. I wasn't expecting great things this month - the preview looked okay, but how many formalwear patterns do I need in my non-formal life? The gowns were pretty, but none of them stirred the Lust for Impractical Clothing that hides inside us all. The regular clothes, however, really got my attention. There's skirt # 118, which I did notice in the previews but which is way more interesting when you see the line drawing/pattern pieces. And I understand that the fly front is part of the design, but I'm still thinking about just seaming there and putting an invisible zip in the side - I've really gotten to dislike that extra bulk over my stomach. Either way, cute skirt.

There's jacket #106, which I think wants to be made in the shimmery wool herringbone that I picked up at Jomar when I was shopping with the girls the other weekend. I just have to cross my fingers that PA Fabric Outlet will have a 24" separating zipper in a color that would even come close to the color of my fabric. Why can't Pacific Trims just magically relocate here when I want them?

I also like dress # 121, though WTF were they thinking, teaming a plaid dress with leopard print boots and a whomping big tote? When I first saw the page, my response was "Ack!" and then I actually saw the dress hiding behind its garish accessories and decided I really liked it. And yay, it doesn't require fabric with stretch, so I can actually use a very similar plaid that's been hanging out in my stash for about 4 years. I think there are at least 3 yards of it, so I should be fine with cutting the front and back on the bias. See, this is the reason for stash. If I went out now looking for the perfect plaid for this dress, it would be nowhere to be found.

The little clutch purses at #143 are simple enough, and say "Christmas gift" very loudly in my ear. Especially since I'm sure I have things in the scrap bin that are saying the same thing, if only I listened.

And the nightie, which is actually just the t-shirt made long, is cute too. And quick enough that maybe I can put one together for myself. Himself would fall over if I came out attired in anything but a cast-off man's XL t-shirt - which is probably no woman's best look.

Monday, December 1, 2008

More with the Coat

Funny, but going back to work yesterday actually caused me to get more sewing done than I would have if I stayed home.

Sunday night after posting I went back in and sewed the center seam on both sleeves, but I was too tired to press it, so I got up early yesterday morning and pressed both sleeve/shoulder seams and left the sleeves to rest on Evelyn's broad(ish) shoulders.

I love raglan sleeves - no easing, no swearing, just beautiful, curved shoulders! The shoulder pads I picked up at Jomar are for raglan sleeves, and they have a sleeve header built in. We'll see if it's enough or if I need to augment it.

The lining is complete in itself, though the coat is nowhere near ready to meet its lining. It really isn't that screamingly gaudy, but I can't get a decent picture of it with the flash, and without flash it's even worse. So for now, you'll just have to take my word that it's really not that bright.
I walked down to Karlin's at lunch today - I haven't quite forgiven them for the fusible hair canvas, but they're the only game in town - because I needed brown topstitching thread. No Coats & Clarks, and only one little spool of Gutermann in the right shade of brown. Hopefully that's going to be enough. Why can't stores be adequately stocked? When they complain that there's not enough business, perhaps - just perhaps - it's because we can never find anything to buy when we go in. Grumblegrumblegrumble.

Today I also discovered one more really good reason why I sew. Three of the women I work with went to the Ann Taylor Loft on Black Friday for the sales. All three of them came in today wearing the exact same top. This would be bad enough in a big office, but there are only nine women in the firm, so fully one-third of them showed up in the same outfit today, because all three had paired the top with black pants.

I can say with some assurance that will never happen to me.