Lavender Tops

Back in the spring DD3 expressed frustration with the lack of choices in her wardrobe, specifically in the tops department. I must confess, after the last few unsuccessful projects that I made for her, I wasn’t very keen on risking more failures. They have seriously affected my sewjo.  BTW, this post was originally drafted in May……

I sent her shopping for RTW a few weeks ago,and told her to try on e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. she saw, even if it looked silly on the hangers, just to get her ideas flowing, and to take a lot of pictures so I could we what she liked. She came home with a $100 top from Wilfred, made of beautiful Japanese polyester, but the fit was off, and I didn’t care for the cost:product ratio. So she returned it, and went off to see what she could find that tickled her fancy in the Burda magazine collection housed in my sewing nook.

And I, browsing through my local Fabricland while purchasing thread for several new jeans projects for myself (I may not be trendy and stylish, but I love my me-made Jalie jeans and made three new pairs recently) stumbled upon a pretty lavender polyester satin crepe with a hammered finish. I purchased a 1.5m length, as it was the right shade of lavender i.e. not very pink, washed it, and set it on one of the sewing tables.

And she noticed it. And liked the colour. So I cut out two of the designs she had ear-marked, and suggested one that I had made for myself a while back, which she liked after she’d tried on mine.Burda 4-2016-114The first one is BurdaStyle 04/2016 #114, a very simple top with cut-on sleeves and a deep V neckline in the back. There is a band across the back shoulders which helps keep the wide neckline in place. There’s not much to say about this top. It’s very simple to make,  the most difficult part being the adjustment of the back band to a length that sits properly. In retrospect, it would fit her better if I’d done a square shoulder adjustment for her swimmers shoulders.Burda 4-2016-114 backThe second top is a repeat of Burda 04/2015 #103, which I’d made for me in 2017.  I had her try it on and she liked the style. Burda 4-2015-103It’s another simple sew, although getting the centre front V to sit properly took some very careful cutting. I have plans for at least two of these tops for myself. Burda 4-2015-103 frontThe last of the lavender tops used up some stash silk: lavender chiffon and a darker habotai for the longer layer.Burda 5-2014-128 silk It’s BurdaStyle 05/2014 #128, and DD3 wasn’t very sure of the design, but I loved the longer gathered back, and thought I’d take a risk while sewing up the stash fabric. I was prepared to thrift it if she didn’t like it in the end. Burda 5-2014-128 backThis top is short: I added a full 10 cm to the length.  Burda’s instructions are good and easy to follow, for once! I followed them to the ‘T’.

Burda 5-2014-128

I hand rolled the hems.

Burda 5-2014-128

And there we are: three new tops for her to wear. Funnily enough, the one she reaches for the most is gathered-back top. She’s going to wear it out first, mostly because the chiffon is rather fragile.

Ta da!

The lace tunic is finished.

The lace is quite substantial and the tunic has some weight to it. The silk charmeuse lining is wondrously comfortable, and makes this such a pleasure to wear.

The centre back pleat was a bit of a pain to manipulate so that it lays flat but adding a small flower appliqué helped tack it all down into place. There is a facing which I interfaced with silk organza, under stitched, and then ‘topstitched’ invisibly 5mm away from the neckline in order to keep it in place. I also discreetly secured the edges of the facing through all layers so that it wold behave as one layer.

My solution for the side seams was to use a true Hong Kong finish, using the silk underlining, and then stitching an appliqué on the interior of the hem to hide the bottom 4 cm of seam allowance.

Another close up of the hem and side seam finishing.

I’m pleased with how this turned out.

A happy compromise

I have come to terms with my desire for couture construction, having a garment to wear within a reasonable amount of time (since I cannot commit full days to totally do a garment with hand sewing) and finishing that I will be happy to on and wear.

Exhibit A: the sleeve seams. I undid the bias binding on the sleeve seams, trimmed the bias silk down to 2.5 cm in width, and bound each allowance edge separately.

And because I disliked the way the seam allowances are visible at the hem of the bell sleeves, I chose to appliqué one of the larger flower motifs on the inside of the sleeve to cover the bottom part of the seam.

In the photo, the bottom sleeve is inside out; the top left sleeve is right side out, but you can see the wrong side peaking out with no seam allowance showing – just another flower. Yay!

I am much happier with this, and am contentedly constructing the rest of the garment along the same idea. Hopefully I’ll have a finished garment to show you by the end of the week.

What to do…

Lack of knowledge, expertise and planning are my nemeses, and cause endless delays, doubt and paralysis in my sewing room.

Case in point: this lace tunic.

I made the sleeves first, and bound the seam allowances in bias silk (the same fabric of the tunic lining, which will hang separately from the lace itself, attached only at the neckline and armscyes). But after doing my invisible bust darts yesterday, I’m at a crossroads of decision. Here’s the left bust dart: Did you find it?

And the right bust dart:

…slightly more obvious.

They’re only ‘mezzo couture’, but the ‘invisibleness’ of them is making me rethink the rest of the seams on this garment. I have enough scraps left of the lace that it would be feasible to make every seam invisible: shoulders seams, side seams and the sleeve under seams. If I really wanted to go crazy, I suppose I could attempt to make the armscye seams invisible, too.

So instead of the shoulder seams above, I’d have invisible seams. In retrospect, why didn’t I cut it out without shoulder seams? The seams are bugging me now, but do I want to give myself the extra work? Would it make me like the finished garment more? Would I be happy to wear it if I don’t make the seams invisible, knowing that I could have should have maybe wished I had?

Or is this trying to make ‘mezzo couture’ into ‘alta moda’ and should I even bother with the attempt?

Lace

I’m working on a tunic top with bell sleeves made from this beautiful three-dimensional cotton guipure lace. This is a bust dart, which I’m trying to make ‘invisible’.

Mending

I have been sewing.

Honest.

Three pairs of Jalie 2908 jeans and two pairs of slim BurdaStyle trousers, just in the last 10 days. Of course there’s no photos, mostly because it’s winter and I have no decent place indoors for photography.

I confess to also making a few garments recently that didn’t work out as planned, and they took the wind out of my sails for a bit. The first was a waterfall cardigan for DD3 which just did not work. I was not happy with it, and neither was she. Fortunately, there is a lot of fabric in a waterfall style, so no waste! It will be remade into something else sooner or later.

The second was a deep red silk velvet dress for DD2 which I was hoping would be a success. DD2 is a difficult client, sometimes, and although she loved the dress, she has yet to wear it, and didn’t want to wear it for the function it was made for.

And the last ‘failed’ project was an olive silk velvet dress that I wanted for myself – actually wanted for Christmas, but it wasn’t finished in time – for a wedding in February. The design was inspired by a green velvet D&G dress I saw in September 2018 Vogue, and I have not seen a photo of it anywhere else. But I am not a tall pencil, and I seem to have become more ‘mature’ in figure recently, so it wasn’t the most flattering of dresses. I did wear it, however, but it’s not a finished project, as I want to change a few things.

And now I’m facing a pile of mending, the largest of which is this inner thigh section of a favourite pair of Roots sweatpants for DD3.

Hundreds of tiny running stitches

And this is just one leg. What you see above is about 30 minutes of work. The patch was put in about a year ago, when I had no idea what I was doing. But I have a better idea now, after taking a visible mending class in February.  In order to do this patch ‘properly’ I should cut away the worn fabric and patch from the outside. But this would not look good on these sweatpants, and I don’t think it would be aesthetically pleasing given the location if the patch. DD3 wants it to be as discreet as possible, and I agree. So I will leave it as is, reinforce all around it to about 5 cm beyond the current patch, and see if it holds up for another year or so.  Here’s the rest of the required mend.

Big mend
Monster mend

Winter Coat: Burda 1/2016 #123

So, one of my goals for 2018 was to make jackets and coats: I had declared it “The Year of the Coat”.   I managed to make one.
Green CoatI finally got around to the project at the end of April. I pulled two pieces of fabric out of stash:  a lovely green/brown ‘bubble’ wool from EmmaOneSock in 2013and a piece of velvet linen, purchased randomly from Scalamandre’s Third Floor around the same time. I had this from BurdaStyle’s January 2016 in mind for both: Burda 1-2016-123It’s a ‘tall’ pattern, but I wanted something long and dramatic.  So I left the length, and adjusted the waist length by 2 inches (5cm). Here’s the back: green coat back
I did not like the tie collar (and the linen would not have worked for it, imho), so I frankenpatterned Vogue 2590 (an OOP Montana military-style coat). collar collageI love the high collar, and I must say, working with a Vogue pattern vs. a Burda magazine pattern in the same project was a sober reminder (and an elated reminder) of why I love Vogue patterns so much: there were more markings on the collar pieces than the entire front coat pattern piece from Burda.  A clearly marked pattern makes construction so precise, and easy construct with (relative) perfection. Well, I am happy with it, anyways!

The coat does not have buttons. I debated doing the hand worked buttonhole exercise, but opted for the large snaps Burda suggested. I like them! And, no, I did not bother to try to choose a fabric that would match the coat so they could be covered. I just put them on. Finis!

Some details of the interior finishing:lining

There are in-seam pockets. green coat pockets
Here’s the side view.
green coat side

A loooong belt tie. green coat tie
A tall, statuesque drink of water I am not, which is perhaps accentuated by the tie belt. But I love the length and drama of wearing such a coat.