vogue 1247 summer tops

I’ve used two lengths of silk from my stash for a couple of new tops for late summer wear. The first is a silk chiffon, but it’s a bit more opaque than chiffon. The lack of weight to the fabric makes this floatier than the second version, if there is such a thing. (Spell check says no, there is no such thing.)

Vogue 1247 top pink silk
It was so nice to wear these wedges today!

The second is a lovely silk crepe – exactly what the pattern calls for – and the drape of it justifies the fabric suggestion on the back of the envelope.

Vogue 1247 top green
The top is supposed to have a CB seam, as per the pattern, although I prefer to cut it on the fold.

This pattern has been sewn, reviewed and posted about hundreds of times in SewingBlogLand, so I have nothing really new to say about it except for the following:

This top can be squeezed out of as little as 1.2m of 140cm wide fabric, which is less than what the envelope recommends. Speaking of which, when I learned to sew using Vogue patterns, I was taught to always purchase a little less than what the pattern envelope recommended in order to avoid having small almost-useless leftover lengths of 10 or 15 cm (instead of cutting scraps). I don’t follow that advice anymore, for some reason, but I can manage to finagle garments out of shorter lengths than what the patterns call for, pattern matching excepted, of course. Do you do this, too? I must admit it sometimes make a project more work, more involved, more mentally challenging (exhausting?) that it need be. Sometimes I wish I just had enough fabric to lay out the pattern pieces without trying to make it a perfectly-fitted puzzle, eking it out of whatever I have decided should work. On the other hand, it is very satisfying to use up an entire length of goods.

Vogue 1247 top back
I thought this top would be rather twee, but it’s so pretty. And I didn’t need to seam the centre back on this version, thank goodness. I like it better without the designer’s CB seam.

Anyway, these two tops have several adjustments:

  • Centre front has been raised 4 cm
  • Each of the seam allowances under the arms have been taken in by 1.5cm.
  • The front has been shortened by 2.5cm in length, along the hem, grading to nothing at the side seams.

Also, for reference, the lower centre front panels (triangles, really) of the green top have not been cut on the correct bias grain, in order to maintain as much of the horizontal dashy design of the fabric.  I had cut it out as instructed, but the bias grain looked completely absurd with the fabric’s design. I’ll spare you the photos. Here’s the amended, altered version. Truth be told, I was quite displeased when I took photos of this top the other day, so I dismantled the centre bottom panels, turned them around and put it back together so the fabric’s green dashes were more or less running horizontally.

Vogue 1247 green
much more pleasing to the eye, trust me….

Each of the necklines has been finished by hand because I feel like I have more control over the outcome than with a machine, as carefully as I know I am capable of stitching. Besides, it’s good practice. 🙂

The pink top’s understitching along the neckline was also done by hand because I just felt like sitting at my sewing table quietly stitching by hand.

Both hems have been hand rolled. 

Left: hand rolled hem. Right: pick stitched neckline.

Honestly, every time I try to do a narrow hem on a silk top with the machine I hate how stiff it feels, so I just do them by hand now and don’t bother with machine stitching.

hand rolled hem shown step by step, counterclockwise from top left

Both these tops have seen a lot of wear over the last few weeks.  They’re comfortable and a nice alternative to a T-shirt. And I love how they’ve been made from roll ends I’ve collected over the years.

Are you making up anything from little ‘ends’ in your fabric collection?

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.

bespoke drapes: finished project

bespoke bedroom drapesWell, what do you think?  I was so dreading this project because of the sheer size of it and the amount of fabric and the stripes!  I have no idea how to make drapes!  But they turned out reasonably well, if I may say so myself.  I’m pleased with how they look, and I must confess that I really enjoyed putting these together.  All the hand sewing that went into this project was calming, and I looked forward to the times where I could just sit on the floor with the panels spread out over my lap and sew each step.  I so loved the hand sewing.  And why did I choose to sew these by hand instead of by machine?

Well, because I trust my pinning and hand sewing results more than I do fighting with 13 yards of heavy upholstery-weight fabric through a machine that wasn’t really made for industrial type sewing.  I can pin and hand stitch a long hem with the confidence that it will be perfectly straight.  I wasn’t convinced it would be successful with my Babylock Crafter’s Choice machine.  And I didn’t want to rip out and re-sew mistakes.

And I could sew invisibly along the hemline and heading without fighting with an automated blind stitch.  This project was a good reminder of what I like about sewing, and why I like it:  hand sewing is precise, clean, calming and, for me, a great stress relief.  I guess that’s why I used to spend so many hours smocking when my girls were little.  That quiet time sitting down with needle, thread and fabric was a haven at the end of such busy days.

I confess my main reason for making these myself was the savings on the labour costs, similar to why I made my own interlined roman blinds a while ago.  After these projects, I’ll not complain when I get crazy quotes, as I have a first-hand understanding of what exactly goes into making custom window coverings.

Well, for now, I guess it’s back to garment sewing for a while.  There’s no other home dec projects in my future.  Well, actually, there is one that’s percolating on the back burner in my mind.  Initially, the living room drapes were to be of this gorgeous linen/silk/cotton fabric (called “Epoque”) from French decor company Nobilis.  Unfortunately, the only importer in Canada doesn’t carry it anymore.  And therein lies the problem.  I can’t get it anymore if I don’t order 120 yards because it’s out of production.  Um.  Well, as gorgeous as it is, I will never need 120 yards of this fabric.  I wish I did, but I don’t.NOBILIS Fabric,EPOQUE,8989-94I have tried to source something similar, but cannot find anything in this particular sage green-orchid combination.  I’m thinking of trying to replicate it via hand printing on a similar plain background.

bespoke drapes: pleat details

hand sewn pinch pleatsOnce the pleats were marked and stitched by machine into place, I pinched them into two pleats and tacked them at the bottom of the heading.pinch pleats insideThis is the inside of the heading.  Once the lining was stitched to the bottoms and sides of the panels, the heading is folded over and catch stitched or herringboned into place.  I didn’t use any buckram or other stiffening in the heading because this fabric has a coating of some sort that makes it extraordinarily stiff.

I enjoyed all this hand stitching.  It was so relaxing sitting in my room, listening to music, hand sewing yards and yards of fabric.  Some of you love to knit.  I like to stitch.

bespoke drapes: French pinch pleats

draperyThis was the hardest part so far of this project.  Of course I made it REALLY hard by choosing striped fabric.  And stripes/patterns are not always my friends.  I’ve wadded more projects over mismatched patterns or poor pattern placement than for any other reason.

Now, if I were a professional drapemaker and knew what I was doing, I would have measured, marked, stitched and these would have been done by now.  But I’m not a professional.  So I measured, calculated, clipped them into place, tried it out over the width of the window, took it out and repeated the process until I was ready to kill someone.  Eventually it all came together in a way that I thought was pleasing.  (Maybe I just got sick of it and gave up.  We’ll see what the final product looks like before I hand in my verdict on that).  There is a repeat to the stripes – a 4 inch repeat – but I just couldn’t make it work.  So I threw it out the window and did as best I could by eyeballing it and approximation to within a couple of millimetres.

Once I was happy with the pleat placement, I folded the fabric and stitched the pleats by machine through all thicknesses, the full depth of the heading (3 inches).  Here’s what it looks like from the inside.headingThe pleats are then flattened down the centres and pinched into smaller pleats, hence the term “pinch pleats”.  Usually there’s three little pleats per pleat, but this fabric is thick, and I didn’t order enough fabric for a 2 1/2 times the width fullness.  So mine only have two little pleats.  But I like them.  They look pretty custom, no?  How many sets of drapes have you seen with little pinch pleats like this?

pinch pleatsTomorrow, the last of the hand sewing.  Well, tacking, actually.

bespoke drapes: attaching the lining

joinsThe lining was measured, cut and joined to match the drapery fabric.  Now I’m using long basting stitches to attach the lining to drape itself.

The next leg of the project is attaching the lining to the drapery along the hemline, return (sides) and overlap (centre front) of each drape.hemlineThe lining has been cut to match the hemmed drape, and the bottom turned up twice and machine stitched.  Now the lining will be slip stitched along each side and the bottom hem.

bespoke drapes: hemming

drapery hemThis is all I’ve done today, what with summer activities and the time involved for this project. I’m using a catch stitch – or, in drapery language, a herringbone stitch – for the hems. And I’m very thankful for my leather thimble, without which my finger would be shredded.

Baby Blue and Navy Blue

Vogue 2396It’s done and on its way to Alberta.  I couldn’t be more pleased with this outfit – simple, chic and I’m so happy with the way it came together.  The ice-blue sheath is Vogue 2396.  Here it is without the lace shirt.Vogue 2396 sheath dressI pre-washed the linen when it was purchased about 12 months ago (longer, maybe?).  I had originally intended to simply underline it with silk organza, but it was a little on the show-all-possible-undergarment-lines semi-opaque, so I also lined with bemberg.  Vogue 2396 interiorI added a small kick pleat at the CB, since my DF isn’t a fan of hemline slits.  This is such a lovely simple design that it will be wearable for many occasions.  I faced the armholes and neckline with a self-drafted facing instead of taking the lining to the edges as per Vogue’s instructions.  I think this finishes up the edges in a much nicer way, and the support afforded by the self-fabric keeps everything in shape properly during wear.  Isn’t that icy blue such a pretty summery colour?Vogue 2396 facingAnd now the nitty gritty of the lace top.  I folded the lace in half, matching the scalloped selvedges, laid the front of the dress pattern over top to get an idea of the neckline shape, took a massively deep breath, and slashed from the centre front out to the shoulders.  I’m sorry I don’t have pics of this process, but it was pretty simple, and I’m hoping I’ll write well enough for you to follow along.  Then I put the lace “top” on over the dress as it was on Ms. Vintage, adjusted the shoulders so that the hem hung horizontally, pinned it to the shoulders of the dress, and carefully trimmed away the excess to match the dress’s neckline.  Then I tried using my silk ribbon to bind the neck edge.  I’ve not pictures of that either, and for good reason.  It was an atrocious ugly mess.  Of course, I can hear some of you more experienced sewistas muttering, because silk ribbon is not bias, and therefore will not shape smoothly.  Yup.  Stitch and learn.

So I tripped down to the fashion district last Friday and matched the lace with silk chiffon (since French navy silk organza is NOT to be had anywhere in this town and I’ve not tried dyeing anything and didn’t want this to be the start of a foray into that art form).  I cut long 1″ wide pieces of bias and made a couple of yards of narrow bias binding.  Not the most fun job in the world with chiffon, but it worked.lace shirt chiffon edgingThen I carefully trimmed away all but 1/8″ of the uglified silk ribbon neck edging and stitched the chiffon binding around the neckline by hand.  I didn’t trust my machine.  Once the neckline was all finished, I put it on Ms. Vintage again and started draping the side seams.  I ended up trimming 2″ off the front and backs at the sides, tapering to a short sleeved kimono shape.  Then I bound each long edge, back hem to front hem, and fell-stitched 8 inches of the edges together from the hem up to create the shape of the shirt.lace shirt sleevesThe bias binding is not uniform in width, but it’s complementary to the variation of widths in the design of the lace.  I think so, anyways.  It’s a pull-over style, and I’m hoping it will get worn with a myriad of other outfits. When my DF picked up the dress she was wearing a backless spaghetti strap black maxi dress. She tried on the lace shirt and it looked amazing with the dress she was already wearing. And here’s a final shot of the back.  This was a fun project.  I love working with linen and these sorts of garments are what make my sewing heart leap with giddy joy.  Next up:  boring snoring cake for DD1 and another go at the Vogue 1039 skinnies pattern.  *yawn*Lace shirt back

Fixing and tweaking

So, after wearing the Jester blouse for a day and mulling it over for days in my head, I decided I really wanted to do that neckline differently.  Y’know, like Burda had suggested in the first place.  *hand-forehead*  So I unpicked the long ties from the front pieces, all the way back to the front sleeve seam and added a 1/4″ narrow bias binding.

B 11-2012-109 front

I hand stitched it to the neckline with as tiny stitches as I could manage, but of course, everything shows up on this silk charmeuse.

B 11-2012-109 hand binding

I machine stitched the opening in the ties closed, catching the end of the bound neckline so that it would be secure.  Although Burda doesn’t suggest it, I added a thread eye and a hook to the upper edge of the binding to keep it closed perfectly.

B 11-2012-109 hook

I used burgundy thread for the eye, and orange thread to make the thread loop, which can barely be seen in the background above.  Looks good!  I like it better than the lazy way I’d finished it previously.  I can tie the ties higher, in a bow or leave them loose, or knot them lower.  I like the versatility finishing the neckline this way affords me.

B 11-2012-109

And, of course, the button closure lies closed properly now.  I’m always going back to change something once a garment is complete.  Do you continue to fuss with “finished garments”, too?

B 11-2012-109 closed