Wednesday, June 30, 2010

~a grey tweed dress~

Yesterday I finished Style 3109, a shift dress from 1971:

I used some charcoal tweed from stash, and I just had enough to squeeze View B out minus the facings, so I cut them in a fine black wool instead.  The tweed is a wool/silk and is so very soft, you could probably wear it next to the skin.

I love the cut of this dress, the neckline and armholes are perfect, and the back has only a CB seam with no darts but sits perfectly.  The only alteration I did was to take in the bodice side seams above the waist 1cm on each side, and a 1cm sway back adjustment.  The pattern is actually a half-size, but that was great for me because I'm short waisted. 

It is winter here - do I look cold enough?!  However the sun did come out and made some cool grapevine shadows, and elbow shadows:

Then things got a bit scary-movie-like!:

But I did catch a close up of the buttons and half belt:

Speaking of buttons, I will probably change these square ones for round ones in a larger size - this was the only set of six I had.  Because I am still uncertain of the size I haven't yet buttonholed the belt, I just sewed it all together to rush you these very important photos.  I could get the dress on alright, but do you think I could darned well get it off?!?!

Anyway, here is the square 30L buttons compared with some 40L on the R - does everyone agree that this size looks better before I make my big investment?!

Monday, June 28, 2010

~halfway there~

One down, one more to go!

Marlene Sock by Cookie A, Knit 1 Fall/Winter 2008

I loved this design the moment I saw it in this magazine, and waited patiently for the right yarn in the right colour to come along.  I settled on Naturally "Waikiwi" 4ply, a blend of 55% NZ Merino/20% Nylon/15%Alpaca/10%Possum.  It is gorgeous - soft and warm and perfect for socks - I really recommend it.  Unfortunately the colour range is a bit restricted and masculine, but they do have one of my favourite colours - steel blue, which is shade 404.

I started these way back in March, so you can tell I haven't been knitting much lately.  Most of the knitting has been done at my boy's swimming lessons, this being my 'grab and go' project.  If I get cracking I might have the second one done before winter ends!

It wasn't long ago that I thought who in their right mind would knit socks, but once I knitted my first pair I was hooked - they are the warmest socks I have ever owned, and they make great gifts.  Are there any other sock knitters out there?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

~the suit in action~

About six weeks ago I posted pictures of my new suit that I had made, and several readers asked to see it on a real person.  Well, I finally have some photos to share!

My first photo doesn't show much because of the patches of sunlight:

For the next shot I stepped back a bit into the tree to get out of the sunlight, so please excuse my horrified expression as I wonder what creepy crawlies are lying await in the tree.  The things you do just to get pretty golden ginko leaves in the shot!

The suit is a bit crumpled after a day's wear and tear, but not bad for a natural-born-scruff like me ;)

I'm actually not that happy with the fabric, it is a bit too fine and limp, and in retrospect I should have blockfused all the back panels as well as the fronts.  The wind whistles through it like gauze and it really is not suitable for winter!  Maybe I should have underlined the skirt too - not only would this have reduced the wind chill, it would have concealed the hemming.  Despite taking the tiniest possible stitch, the hem still shows.

I repeated the gathering and bow detail of the pockets at the back skirt hem, which is kind of flirty.
I don't like how the undersleeve wrinkles at the back, but I left it because the extra fabric is needed to bend my elbow and brush my hair!  It bugs me and I might try and remove it.
I do like how this suit actually gives me a waist!

And from the side view, it makes be look like I have a bust! 

Overall I really like it - it's a really feminine suit, and both times I have worn it I have had compliments.  I think it will be good for autumn and spring with some snappy shoes. 

Thursday, June 17, 2010

~a game of tag~

You might have noticed a game of tag going around sewing blogland lately, and I've been tagged by the lovely Tasia from Sewaholic!  This means I have to answer eight questions and tag eight other bloggers in return - so check if you are listed at the bottom of this post ;) 

1. Which pattern/vintage style have you been thinking about lately?
I love the 1960's!  There is something about the Mod graphic styles of Mary Quant and her era that has always appealed to me, I have purchased a few vintage commercial patterns from this period recently - the latest being Vogue Couturier Design #1670 by Galitzine of Italy:
I would love to make this at some stage but I don't have any suitable fabric yet.  The recommended fabric is wool or brocade, and the complete dress and coat is cut on the bias so it sounds like fun - look!:
Irene Galitzine's claim to fame was the palazzo pant, and that was all I really knew about her, but a quick google reveals she was also a glamorous Russian princess!  Born in Tblisi, Georgia in 1916, to Prince Boris Galitzine, and her Georgina mother Nina Kovaldji, the family fled Russia during the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution to exile in Rome.

Irene assisted at the prominent Roman couture house Fontana.  More influenced by the French designers Dior, Balenciaga and Schiaperelli, she opened her own atelier in 1946.  In 1959 her collection incorporated evening trousers in both intricately embroidered tapered styles, and soft full flowing styles.  Supported by her prominent friends - Jacqueline Onassis, Elizabeth Taylor, Greta Garbo, Audrey Hepburn - her couture shows were a highlight of the social season.  The location of the shows - Palazzo Palli - inspired the moniker "palazzo pyjamas" by Vogue's Diana Vreeland, to which the soft full flowing pant style is still named today.

In 1962 Galitzine was declared Designer of the Year by the Italian press.  But the company was declared bankrupt in 1968, and her designs became manufactured under licence throughout Europe at a more economical level.  In her later years, she revisited Russia, and opened a store in Moscow in 1996, the same year she published her biography "From Russia To Russia".  Irene Galitzine died peacefully in her sleep, aged 90, at her home in Rome in Ocober 2006.

Anyway I digress!  Next question:

2. What is one place that you really want to visit that you haven't been to before?
Mt Everest:

I don't intend to climb Everest itself (lol!), but I do want to trek to Everest Base Camp, catch a glimpse of it's peak and inhale the surrounding majesty.  I love being in the mountains - it is so exhilarating.  This is Namche Bazaar, the first stop on the trek - check out that steep trail!

3. How do you relax?
I think I only relax when I am going to sleep! 
I like to be doing something at all times, and this usually involves making something, or making something better.  I am not one to relax by lying on a beach or watching TV - I suppose you could call me a constant fidget!

4. What is your favourite holiday?
I can't decide between:
  • Five months backpacking around India and Nepal when I was 21:  
  • Two weeks exploring beautiful Bali:

  • Or driving around the Great Plains of the USA chasing storms with my crazy husband:
Each holiday is a favourite, but in a completely different way.

5. What is one sewing skill you want to learn/try out?
I want to be able to fit garments on myself, both front and back, without pulling a tendon or stabbing myself with pins in a mirror that tells you left is actually right.  I am used to fitting on a fit model, or a patient bride - it is so easy compared to fitting on yourself!

6. Can you knit? crochet? any other crafting talents?
I learnt to knit and crochet when I was a child, and I love embroidery, but sewing suits me better because the results are more immediate! 

I joined Ravelry last year and went on a bit of a knitting frenzy, but I found a lot of knitwear was poorly designed (why are the fronts and backs the same shape?!) and much of what I made was disappointing in fit.  I don't subscribe to the philosophy that because something is stretchy it doesn't need shaping!  I considered designing knitwear, but my heart's not in it.  I did design these socks and write up the pattern though:

It is currently for sale on Ravelry, but I will make it free here for my lovely readers soon!

7. What garment/accessory do you wear the most?
I have been wearing my house dress a lot lately!  It is winter here and a bit cold for it now, but I wore it so much I am thinking of making some more in other better colours.

8.  How much time do you spend reading blogs (per day or per week)?
This is highly confidential.  If my husband found out he would realise why the paint removal and sanding on the west wall of our house is proceeding at such a slow pace!

I couldn't resist another question!:

8b. Your motto/mantra?
"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"
 If everyone did this, wouldn't the world be a better place?

So who are the lucky eight bloggers that I am going to tag?
Your homework is to answer 8 of these 9 questions - on your blog by Monday!
Look forward to learning more about all of you!

Monday, June 14, 2010

~tricks of the trade: turn of cloth allowance~

I was prompted by a couple of questions in the comments on yesterdays post about my pink jacket, to write this post. I started with a brief reply in the comments, but have ended up with an essay instead!  Cloth allowance is a simple but really important concept to understand if you want a professional finish to your sewing.

So what is 'cloth allowance'? 
It is an allowance to compensate for the extra millimetres taken up when fabric is folded.  See this pink fabric - when folded it uses about 4mm of fabric just to turn the corner:

This fabric is quite thick, most fabrics will use about 2mm, and chiffon will use even less.  The thicker the fabric, the more cloth allowance you need.

Why do you have cloth allowance?
On most bagged out edges we don't want the seam to be visible, we want it to sit slightly underneath the edge out of view.  It just looks better!

For instance - the edge of this pocket flap:

the edges of these neckline and armhole facings:



The edges of this collar:



How do you add cloth allowance?
To enable the seam to lie underneath the edge, we need to add an additional allowance to the edges of the outside piece, or alternatively trim some off the edges of the inside piece.

For example:
The pocket flap - make a separate pocket flap lining, but trim 2mm from all bag out edges (red line).

For the neck/armhole facing, trace the outer bodice and trim 3mm from the neckline and armhole edges (red line).

Now collars (and lapels) are a little different, because they have two folds - the roll line, and the bagged out edge - I hope my dinky diagram is legible:

To accommodate the bagged out edges, I added about 5mm to the outer edge of the top collar.
To accommodate the fold over the roll line I added an additional 6mm.  This was done by adding 3mm at the neck edge for the stand, and 3mm to the outer edge for the fall.

So a total of 11mm extra length was added at the centre back for my pink fabric - this is quite a lot, most fabrics only need about half this amount.

The front facing on a typical jacket deserves a special mention too.  The front facing is outermost at the lapel, and becomes innermost below the breakpoint.  You need to add cloth allowance to the front facing around the lapel, taper it to zero at the break point, and subtract it from the front facing at the front edge, like this:

Some people compensate for cloth allowance whilst sewing, by purposely misaligning raw edges or pinning tucks.  But I'm a patternmaker so I do this at the pattern stage - not just because it suits bulk production, but  because it is also more precise.

Note that in some cases you will not require cloth allowance - if for instance you are going to pipe an edge, you will want both raw edges to meet exactly.

Your pattern may or may not have cloth allowance incorporated - to find out lay the pieces on top of each other and see if there is any difference, or enough difference for your type of fabric - and adjust accordingly.

How do I know how much to add on/take off?
The amounts noted above are what I actually used in those examples, so you can use that as a guide.  You will need to add more or less depending on the thickness of your cloth, and you soon get a feel for what you need with experience.

You can also gauge approximately how much you need by using a dress stand, or a friend.  Cut two pieces of equal width, pin them together at the neckline, and fold your mock collar down - your 'top collar' will fall short like this: 

This difference is the amount you need to add for the roll line only, I double this to add for the bag out edge as well.  This photo is telling me I need to add 5mm for the roll line, ie 10mm in total - which is almost what I did. 

But now one edge is longer than the other and so it won't match!
This excess is intentional, and trust me it will sew together alright, just make sure those notches match!  If you do have difficulty (I sometimes have problems getting small slippery pieces like pocket flap linings to fit) sew with the longer edge underneath, so the feed dogs of your machine assist you to ease the longer layer in.  Once you turn and press, everything will fall into place just like magic - well almost!

Hope this helps and happy sewing.  Now you can make your cloth go around the bend, instead of it making you go around the bend!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

~a pink jacket~

I'm a little bit over my trench coat at the moment, so decided to take a break from it and whip up something more fun - a little pink jacket!

The fabric is a textured wool that I picked up in the Global Textiles sale recently.  I'm not normally a pink girl, but this was quite a unique shade and I loved the retro nature of the fabric.  I bought it with the intention of making this style - which is #102 from Burda 3/2010. 

Here is a close up of the stand-away roll collar.  My fabric is quite thick, so I added almost 1cm of cloth allowance to most of the top collar to enable it to sit correctly. 

Burda suggested covering snaps for the fastening - I've never done this before but I had some white plastic snaps and used some of the lining to cover them, and stitched on the upper snap so I could wear it out last night!  I quite like the vintagy touch, but I'm not sewing the other two on yet until I explore other options.  I have a vision that won't go away - of pink metallic spray painted snap fasteners - am I crazy?!

Overall I am very happy with my new wardrobe addition - it is cute and fun, covers my muffin, and adds some much needed colour to my wardrobe!

On the subject of colour, we were treated to this gorgeous show of Blue Ginger (dichorisandra, for all you garden buffs) in our garden recently - isn't it awesome?

I think I need a dress in that colour!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

~trench coat: collar draft~

Yesterday I managed to get my trenchcoat cut and fused.  There are so many bits and pieces!  I almost completely forgot the epaulettes and the belt - luckily there was still a piece long enough to cut it in one piece.  I thought I had plenty of cloth, but there is practically none leftover.  Plus there is a couple of muddy cat footprints on the L front facing.  I am sure Tiggi thought I laid the fabric out just for her, she walked straight down the middle like she was on the red carpet at the Oscar's.

I've chosen to have a collar with a separate stand on my trenchcoat, rather than having the collar and stand cut as one.  It is going to have hooks and eyes to fasten the CF collar stand and will look something like this, so I can wear it open (L side) or closed (R side):

Then I can live out my spy coat fantasy!

I thought I'd share how I drafted the collar and collar stand, and just in case you prefer this style collar to the one on your pattern you can do it yourself - it's really easy! 

First measure your front and back neckline:

Measure the stitching line only excluding all seam allowances (I needed an extra arm here - the tape measure wouldn't stay on the stitching line and it looks like I'm doing it a bit wrong!).  My back neckline measures 8.5cm from shoulder seam to CB seam, and my front neckline is 12.5cm from shoulder seam to CF:

For the collar stand, draw a rectangle 8.5cm + 12.5cm long (or whatever your necklines measure), and 3-4cm wide:

You need to shorten the upper edge slightly so it sits in towards the neck a bit.  Mark your slash lines - I have more in the front neckline as I want more curvature there.  I marked these 2cm apart and another one 2cm behind the shoulder.  Slash to within 1-2mm of the edge leaving a hinge.

Overlap each slash 3mm and stick them together:

This is essentially your collar stand pattern without seam allowances, so try in on your stand to check how it sits:

All is good, so time to start on the actual collar.  Trace around the stand pattern, then sketch the collar outline over top.  My collar is 2.5cm longer at the CB and shoulder seam, and about 4.5cm longer at the CF - this is to allow for the roll of the collar, and enables the collar to cover the neckline seam.

The lower edge of the collar needs to be widened, so I have added 3mm to the CB and CF edges, and marked four evenly spaced slash lines.  Cut these leaving a 1-2mm hinge at the top:

Now trace around this piece, with each slash spread apart 3mm, to get your basic collar shape.  In total the lower edge of my collar has been flared 18mm:

Cut it out and try it on the stand, your collar and collar stand should meet perfectly along the upper edge because one was traced from the other.  You can add more or less flare to the collar if you like - you are the designer!

Now all you need to do is add your seam allowances, turn of cloth allowance and notches, and you're done! 

It is best to make a toile in calico to check the final shape before cutting your actual cloth.  You can make this as easy or as complicated as you like.  I make it easy, and trim off all bag-out seam allowances such as the outer edge of the collar, and this gives me enough idea of the end result. 

Happy sewing!