January Slowjo Sewing

January has been a slow rather mojo-less sewing month this year.  I had all these grand plans, and have felt zero compulsion to sew anything.  So I’ve been fixing, mending and twiddling on a few things.

First, I tweaked the bodice of DD2’s Christmas dress (Burda 12/2012 #110).  Originally it looked like this, with ponte and lace all eased into a higher-than-designed neckline.  It didn’t work, and there was an absurd amount of ease to sew into the neckline. And, because it still wasn’t decent enough, I added a triangular lace insert at the CF.  I was not happy with it – it looked so less-than-custom-made, but it had to do for Christmas.

DSC_0096

Now, after lowering the CF on the ponte under layer (the bodice is unlined) as far as it would go – and as designed, I might add – and removing the CF lace insert, it looks like this.

bodice

Not a big difference, but the fit along the neckline is much better.  I’m still getting my head wrapped around fitting DD2 and what looks good on her.  Most of my sewing queue over then next couple of months will be for her, so hopefully I will learn a lot!

Then I agreed (with dread in my heart) to redo window valances.  I always hate being asked to do things out of my comfort zone, because I hate feeling like I don’t know what I’m doing.  I have no pictures of the project, but let me just say that it was an interesting ride.  In early December, I met with the client and the interior designer, and confessed that home dec sewing is not in my field of expertise.  So the designer measured all the windows, wrote them down for me, and off I went with the valances, her measurements and extra fabric from the client’s storage room.  After pulling one of the valances apart, I understood the method of construction, and started in on the project.  Everything was neat and tidy and I was pleased with my amateur work.  Up went the valances, and the client called me after Christmas to tell me that they were too short for two of her windows.  My bad.  I didn’t check the math of my measurements with a calculator.  And, to top it all off, the designer’s depth measurements were off by 2.5cm, so everything had to be taken apart and re-done so the corner box pleats actually hung at the corners.

And I’ve been BUGGED – BUGGED, I tell you – by the little details of the project.  The valances had a centre box pleat, which should have hung in the visual centre of the windows i.e. in the centre of the centre sliding frames.  But visual centre did not equal mathematical centre, so the centre pleats hang about 4cm off visual centre.  Do you follow me here?  And, of course, the designer wanted the centre pleat to hang in the visual centre, not the actual centre. Ugh.

And that bugs me.  BUGS ME!!  Part of me wants to go back and re-do those damn valances a third time, just so they can all be truly custom-made for those damn windows.

BUT…. and this is a big ‘but’…. I stopped to study a valance in my bedroom which was made a couple of years ago by one of the best drapery guys in the city.  He had worked solely off the window measurements the designer had given him, and after carefully looking at all the proportions, I realized that the mathematical centre of that valance was definitely not the visual centre in relation to my bedroom window.

And he is a paid drapery expert.  So I’m not kicking myself anymore.  C’est la vie, and all that.  But I did learn a lesson for the next time someone wants valances made by little ol’ moi.  Experience, experience!  Best teacher ever.

The next project was to give myself a new ironing board cover.

new board cover

I have no pictures of the old one, but I will tell you that the foam padding had melded to the cotton cover through overuse.  I made mine from washed muslin and the leftover cotton batting (from my first attempt to make interlined Roman blinds).  It looks clean and the thick new padding is wonderful.  I should have done this months ago.

I put the waistband ties onto these hip-hop trousers for DD1.  I made these last spring, I think, and she grabbed them before I could finish them, and has been wearing them ever since.  Yesterday she was walking around the house in them like she’d had some sort of horrible injury in the pelvic region, and I asked her why she was walking so oddly.  She said she had to walk like a weirdo so the pants wouldn’t fall down.  *headshake* The ties have been hanging on a project board since the trousers were made, so today they finally ended up on my sewing table to be properly finished.

And now I’m working through three projects that were cut late summer:

a safari skirt (Burda 04/2010 #140)140_skirt_large

a silk scarf panel top (Burda 07/2012 #118), albeit with different fabrichttp://sewingprincess.com/sewingprincess/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/top.jpgand multiple-gored skirt for DD1 (Burda 06/2013 #132).132_0613_b_largeAnd I had hoped to get myself moving on Jungle January and Chris’s #JeansinJanuary, but I lacked both the conviction and motivation to start in on anything.  So I’ve missed both, but I am determined to finish all my UFOs before I begin something new.

 

Vogue 8600

Vogue 8600 side front

Here’s my latest matelassé project, Marcy Tilton’s jacket.  It’s got a large, oversized collar and deep pleats at the waist for shaping.  The pattern photos must be made with a thin taffeta fabric, because the jacket looks super crisp.  Mine doesn’t because of the bulky fabric I chose to make. Mine also seems to have more shape, because the body inside it has waaay more shape than the model’s, which seem to sit perfectly straight from shoulder to hemline.

The matelassé was bulky and had a mind of its own, so each seam and box pleat is catch-stitched down in order to ‘press’ the seams.  Pressing a scrap of the matelassé completely flattened it. Not good.  I tried ‘pressing’ the pleat edges through the hem bands in the front as the line drawing indicates so that they’d be crisp, but the fabric moves a lot on its own, and the edges/corners would not lay flat.  So I left them alone as a nod at a peplum look.

Vogue 8600 side front 2

The cuffs are very deep – about 8 inches (20cm) – and are designed to be folded back, if desired.  I’ve been wearing them not quite doubled back in half as they seem too short exactly in half, and too long not folded up at all.  And the back pleats release at the bottom of the shoulder blades.  I made a sway back adjustment, and shortened the waist on this version, but you can see how it balloons out in the back while being worn.  I’m sure most of this is due to my fabric choice.

Vogue 8600 back

As mentioned in my previous post, the front facings, undercollar and hem facings were all cut from a crinkle polyester taffeta from deep stash.  The lining is rayon bemberg in a tone-on-tone match with the crinkle taffeta.  No one’s going to see it, because this jacket looks pretty weird unbuttoned.  Here’s the underside of the collar.

Vogue 8600 under collar

See how large this thing is?  It looks fabulous as a dramatic collar, but it’s not quite big enough to keep one’s head warm.

Vogue 8600 collar

My final thoughts on this:  It’s an interesting fabric in an interesting jacket pattern.  I think if I had made it out of a crisp taffeta (suggested fabric, btw), it would have looked like a box with a big collar on me. It has an extraordinary amount of ease – no FBA required! I have long wanted to make up this pattern, just for the collar, and I’m happy I did.

Bound Buttonholes and Matelassé

matelasse taffeta bound buttonholes

I’m working on another matelassé jacket, and kinda sorta wanted to do bound buttonholes.  I used a crinkle polyester taffeta, stabilized with fusible interfacing, as the contrast binding and the facing on the centre front pieces of the jacket.

crinkle taffeta facing

The matelassé is a gold/olive green/black weave in I guess what you would call a ‘patchwork’ pattern. The gold crinkle taffeta was the best match from my stash.

Vogue 8600 buttonholes

Can I just tell you that I decided to make bound buttonholes after the facing and collar was attached?  I had planned to go the lazy machine-stitched buttonhole route, but after a series of trials on scraps, decided bound buttonholes would look the best.  Instead of a straight-forward set of buttonholes, this became a fiddling-redo-rip-out-redo game, but I’m happy with the results.

What’s the best make-it-unnecessarily-difficult-extra-work decision you’ve ever made on a project?

I hate Elsa

Yup.  You read that correctly.  I hate Elsa.  I hate her because she’s got a dress that is impossible to replicate without doing a full toile with numerous fittings and fussy floaty fabrics that would make the dress an investment, not something to make for your 15-year-old DD2 to wear to school and one party.

McCalls 7000 train

Ugh.  I was truly looking forward to this project.  I love the colours of the dress and the sparkly sequins and snowflakes.  The fabric alone had me excited to pull this one together.  But I well and truly hate this dress.  I hate this dress so much I’m probably going to pull it apart and remake the stupid thing because I’m so disappointed in it.  I don’t think DD2 will wear it again, but at least mom will be happier with it!

twirling

I find DD2 is very difficult to fit.  She’s petite, and getting the proportion correct/flattering is always a challenge.  So, needless to say, she always shows up my limits as a dressmaker in the fitting department.  And that frustrates me.  But frustration is good, right?  It means one is pushing through to the next level of mastery.  I measured twice, and cut once, and this is what it fit like at the end of the day. *headdesk*

McCalls 7000 bodice

In my defence,  I couldn’t find any fine stretch mesh or tulle for the upper bodice and sleeves, which would have been ideal.  I plan to go hunting for that and remake this thing ‘properly’.  So, for lack of any better option, I used the snowflake nylon organza-type fabric for the sleeves and upper bodice.  The sleeves I cut on the bias so they would easily follow DD2’s movements.  The bodice is not as fitted as I would like it to be.  I cut it straight out of the envelope, since the bust measurements matched DD2’s measurements, but the shaping is all wrong for her.  I debated altering it, but decided against it because a) I wanted enough ease to keep it comfortable during the day; and b) it was always in the back of my mind that it was going to be remade properly with a stretch upper bodice/sleeves once Halloween was done.  As it is, the organza pulled away from the top of the bodice and some of the neck binding by the end of the school day (which included bowling, btw).

McCalls 7000 back details

Why I didn’t think of cutting the upper bodice on the bias is beyond me.  Oh.  Wait.  I did think of cutting the upper bodice on the bias but was afraid it wouldn’t lie flat and would grow out of shape.  So I cut it on the straight grain.  See?  Bad, bad, ugly bodice.

McCalls 7000 Elsa

The sequins were from hell.  They won’t stay in place, so it looks like sequins are missing in places, and they had to be trimmed from the seam allowances, which I expected, but also contributed to my decision to not alter it until I get the stretch mesh/tulle.  *sigh*  I decided to underline the sequin jersey with polyester lining for this version.  The bodice is also lined.  I bound the neckline and cuffs with skirt fabric (satin-backed polyester crepe), and the armscye seams with lining.

McCalls 7000

The best part is the attached cape.  The nylon is sheer, lightweight and very floaty.  It’s quite lovely when DD2 is walking.

McCalls 7000 attached train

There’s a CB zip (I put it in by hand to accommodate the sequins) to the top of the lower bodice.  The upper back bodice has a button and thread loop.  The attached cape is split to just below the bottom of the zip. See?  It’s the best part of this project.

it IS kinda pretty

This version is a wadder for me, but once I get my hands on some stretch tulle, and do a good job on this, I’ll publish an “Elsa Improved” post for your entertainment.

Rosie the Riveter

Burda 05-2010-119 jumpsuit

I’ve made another jumpsuit, albeit for DD3, this time ’round.

She wanted to be Rosie the Riveter for Hallowe’en, and I offered to make her a denim jumpsuit if she agreed to it becoming part of her wearable wardrobe.http://assets.burdastyle.com/patterns/technical_drawings/000/000/448/May_119_tech_drawing_large.jpg?1274893210  She gave it a few days’ thought, and said yes.  Yay!  After scouring Burda’s website, she loved the May 2010 jumpsuit best, so I found the magazine and purchased it via eBay from Germany last week.  In a perfectly-timed coincidence, Fabricland emailed me a coupon for 50% off any single cut of fabric, and I used it for 4 metres of stretch cotton denim, purchased last Friday.  The Burda magazine arrived on Tuesday, and I’ve been sewing ever since.  Today she wore it to school.

The pattern is pretty straight forward, but, because the magazine is in German and Google translate is horrible for sewing terms, I didn’t follow the directions.  And I made some changes:  I put a proper placket and cuff onto the long sleeves; left off the epaulets; and omitted the elasticized hems on the trousers.

Burda 05-2010-119 front

My DD3 loves blue, and wanted blue buttons and blue top stitching.  The shirt pockets are faux, although I made fully functioning buttonholes because I don’t like the look of buttons sewn over faux buttonholes.  I think it looks unfinished.

Burda 05-2010-119 jump!

The trouser portion of the jumpsuit runs large.. surprisingly.  I cut DD3’s recommended size, and then narrowed each side seam of the trousers 3 cm to get a good fit.  No other changes were made to the pattern.   In retrospect, I’d lengthen the back crotch length, but she hasn’t changed out of it since coming home from school, so it must be comfortable.

Oh, and, because it’s a jumpsuit, here’s another jump!

denim jumpsuit

Excitement in my sewing room

Imagine!My serger gave up it’s ghost last week, and I am in the throes of costume making.  The last big PR Sewing Bee project was made with just my regular sewing machine, zigzagging all the seams instead of serging them.  But today, I just felt desperate at the thought of zigzagging all those costume seams when what I really would like is properly serged seams.So I took my faithful old White Superlock into Joe, who has been keeping my machines healthy for the last 25 years.  He has gently suggested trading in my old serger for a new one every time I’ve seen him for the last five or six years.  Well, look what came home with me today!

new sergerAnd now I can happily get going on this little gem for DD2.  Can you guess what it’s going to be?costume

Croc Matelassé Jacket

Matelassé Jacket

I can’t remember when I purchased this roll end from EOS, but I have finally pulled this gorgeous piece of matelassé from my stash to meet the PR Sewing Bee Round 3 challenge:  a lined jacket.  The pattern is Burda 08/2008 #127, an issue which Burda 08-2008-127 drawingI purchased for a different jacket a couple of years ago, and was pleasantly surprised to find this simple jacket pattern would – with some playing around – accommodate my limited matelassé yardage.  I put the project into queue and forgot about it until now.

The jacket is designed as unlined, but I lined it.  I did not have enough fabric for proper facings.  As it was, I had to piece together the front edge facing and forego the extension into the shoulder as well as the back neck facing.  The sleeves are lined to the cuff edge.

front facing and cuff details

I have never worked with matelassé before, so this was a new adventure.  My fabric made it a troublesome adventure because it was like sewing with two completely different fabrics.  The matte part of the design was stable and behaved solidly like a quilted fabric – much like I expected matelassé to behave.  However, the metallic portion was designed to be difficult, comprised of fluffy loose polyester fibres sandwiched between copper lurex threads and rather unstable black polyester threads.  The lurex was incredibly flimsy, so I underlined it with pre-shrunk cotton/poly broadcloth.

underlining

Then I realized topstitching by machine was not going to look so great, so everything was done by hand:  understitching, edgestitching and topstitching.

front edge pickstitch

The hand work was relaxing, and I liked how it didn’t interfere with the fabric and finished the edges nicely.  I balked at doing the buttonholes by hand, but they disappear into the fabric.

detail

I was pleasantly surprised at how warm this jacket is, even with only a rayon bemberg lining.

Matelassé Jacket

The roll end fabric repeat was a big problem.  I’m not very skilled at good fabric design placement in garments (yet), and my roll end began and ended in the middle of one repeat.  After going back and forth and shading in the line drawing several ways, I settled on the metallic gradation dripping down from the shoulders, and the clean stark line of it giving the illusion of deep cuffs.

 Matelassé Jacket

Just a note on the pattern.  It’s a plus-sized pattern (44-52), and I’m so pleased with the fit of it.  I made a very small (for me) 2cm (3/4″) FBA; cut the back and side back pieces as one to conserve fabric (incorporating the curved side back seams as a dart) and shortened the back waist by about 5cm (2″) by simply moved the centre/widest part of the dart up to where my waist sits.  I did a 1.5cm (5/8″) forward shoulder adjustment and decided I’d put in 1cm (1/2″) thick shoulder pads rather than do a sloped shoulder adjustment.  I felt the lurex matelassé could use the extra help through the shoulders.

croc metallic jacketYou can see more pictures of this project in my Flickr album, and read my PR review here.