Sunday, November 29, 2015

TSW Cortona Shirt

This garment was inspired by Martha's lovely ikat Cortona that she posted on her blog. I bought the pattern (Siena and Cortona) when it first came out, but seeing it made up encouraged me to give it a try. I actually ended up making two of them. The first was a little snug for my taste but the second one is fine. It was easier to adjust the fit than I imagined, although making a large slash into the front pattern piece took a leap of faith!

The fabric is a cotton and linen blend that I located in my stash when looking for a suitable prototype fabric. In other words, something that had enough yardage, wouldn't require design matching, and wouldn't be a big loss if it didn't work out.  I have no idea how long I've had it or where it came from. The buttons also came from stash and matched perfectly. I think they were originally on a RTW sweater from many seasons ago.

The predominant feature of this shirt is a horizontal dart at the waist that starts near the center front on each side and continues to the back to form a slight peplum.

I eliminated the center back seam from the upper back because it wasn't really needed and eliminated the need to exactly match up the center back along two seams. I made the narrow button cuffs as they appear on the pattern. I would like to add "Lucille Ball" cuffs like Martha's on a future version for a little more flair.

Here are the pattern envelope and technical drawings to give you some more information regarding this design.

 I'm pleased with how it came out and will make this again, although it's a pretty distinctive design. It would be interesting to see how a stripe or print would look, or without sleeves as a summer top.

I hope to be able to model this for you in the near future so you can see how it looks on a person. Alas, today's photo shoot was indoors due to iffy weather and wind. I've already worn it to work and it went well with a Loes Hinse cardigan I made last winter

Monday, October 26, 2015

Zen for Dia De Los Muertos, Part Two

It's done! And just in time for the upcoming Halloween and Dia de los Muertos season! As I mentioned in the last post, this is the Zen shirt from the Sewing Workshop's "Now and Zen" patterns. I've made the Now shirt a ton of times, and this my third version of the Zen shirt.

There are some cool features, such as a double collar (which I didn't change after all) a hidden buttonhole placket...

and this cool pleat in the back!

The fabric is a "quilt" cotton, and the grid pattern was challenging but fun. It'll be a lot of fun to wear!

The SewWest Closet: In addition to the Zen Shirt, I'm wearing black RTW pants by Laundry (from TJ Maxx a couple of years ago).  The velvet skull slippers are from Fergalicious (from 6 pm). The terra cotta pumpkin came from the floral department at Albertson's!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Zen for Dia De Los Muertos, Part One

It's become a bit of a tradition for me to make a garment for the fall holiday season. Sometimes it's for Halloween, but this year it's definitely Dia De Los Muertos. I bought the fabric at Nob Hill Fabrics here in town, and it features Mexican Loteria figures as skeletons.

Because the print is a grid, I wanted to use a pattern that I was already familiar with. Sewing Workshop to the rescue! I've made the Zen Shirt twice before. It's the one on the left in the picture below. The design doesn't have a lot of pieces to match up and has fairly straight lines.

I cut out the main pattern pieces and purchased notions this weekend, so I'm ready to go. I've reviewed the instructions, and while Sewing Workshop always features interesting techniques, I want this to be an easy sew. Instead of the French seams featured in the instructions (which are lovely), I'll be sewing a regular seam with a serged finish.  I'm also considering a different collar vs. the double collar featured on the pattern since it's distinctive, and I've already made two like that already. Perhaps a band or a mandarin style this time around. Stay tuned to see what I come up with.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Butterick 5567 Vest (OOP)

This little vest is another prototype using stashed fabric. I'm not sure exactly when or where I got this, but it's an "ethnic" cotton featuring various strips of fabric sewn onto the red base layer. Because the strips were sewn horizontally across the fabric, I cut it on the cross grain so the strips could be vertical instead. I barely had enough even for this little garment.

This pattern just recently went OOP, but it's still on the Butterick website, and I bet its still in many of the chain fabric stores like Jo-Ann's and Hancock's. I made View C with a couple of changes. I left out the darts because I didn't want to distract from the fabric appliqu├ęs. I also narrowed the hem from 1 1/2" to 1/2" so I could fit it onto the fabric.

I also used a coordinating fabric for the facing and inner collar because of thickness and not having enough left of the red. Fortunately, I had this black batik in my stash!

Is it perfect? No. But it's still something I'll wear anyway. When I make this again, I'll add some width to the front so it'll close (the pattern calls for a snap closure at the neck) and so I can add the darts. I also think this vest is a little too short, even for me, so I'll add some length.

The SewWest Closet: I'm wearing the exact base as on the last post--same photo session! So here are the Walmart T, black TSW Hudson pants, and Fly London shoes again.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Butterick 6176 Kimono

This is a kimono I recently made from a stashed poly chiffon from Joann's. I've been seeing them around lately and thought it would be a nice addition for my wardrobe. This one is a prototype to see how the pattern would work. 

I made view C, which is around knee length. As you can see from the technical drawing, there were several variations of length, trimmings, and a choice of straight or curved hem.


There isn't really much to say about the construction itself, since the pieces are basically rectangles. The challenge was hemming the edges all around the circumference of the garment as well as sleeves.  Because the fabric was ravelly, I serged around all the circumference, then basted in the 5/8" seam allowance before pressing in the double folded hem (including mitered corners on both fronts). Once all that was done, it was fairly simple to machine hem the entire thing. Sleeve hemming was basically the same process. 

I wore the kimono to church on Sunday and was basically happy with it, although I think there's a better way to handle the finish of the garment. I'd prefer to have a more "authentic" kimono treatment (a band) around the front openings, but that should be fairly simple to figure out. I have a couple more fabrics that I'd like to make into kimono jackets since they're nice little coverups for an otherwise plain outfit.

Another view of mine. You can see a little bit better that the fabric is sheer:

The SewWest Closet: in addition to the kimono, I'm wearing a black T shirt (Walmart!) and a pair of black linen TSW Hudson Pants. The shoes are Fly London.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

TSW Hudson Pants

I've made several pairs of these because they're the perfect weekend pants for me. I've dressed them up or down and worn them with a variety of tops and shoes. They seem cooler than a full length pant, but that could also be a function of the cottons and linens I've used.

Below are an illustration and technical drawing of the Hudson Pant from The Sewing Workshop website. It appears they're currently not in stock on the site but can still be found in stores or on the internet.

I don't have too much to say about the sewing. They're pretty basic pull on pants with the addition of narrow darts at the lower hem. One thing I like about the draft is that the back leg is angled at the waistband, so the crotch depth is added at center back, not all the way across. This avoids some of the "clown butt" look (thanks, Debbie Cook for that description!). I modified the pattern for me but started with a size Small, then added 5/8" at each of the outer leg seams. In my opinion, the pant runs a bit large so check the flat pattern measurements against yourself to check the size you'll need.

This pair is made from a linen and rayon blend that I got at a local ASG fabric sale several years ago. I was a bit meh about the fabric but it has a nice hand, so I figured it could at least be used for a muslin.  However, I've come to like it as I've worked on the pants. I don't know if you'll see it again though. An entire ensemble would be too much of a good thing? Probably. The pants are more successful if a fabric with some drape is used vs. something stiff, even if you are using a heavy fabric.

It's important to mark the darts accurately and I've found that a Frixion pen is perfect for this.  Only a tiny spot of ink is needed at each dot. Once pressed, the ink disappears! I've washed the pants since making them and the ink did not come back.

The SewWest closet: the top is from Coldwater Creek (before their bankruptcy), the sandals are from Th!nk.

Monday, September 7, 2015

A Cutting Line Ensemble (Getting Back Up on the Horse)

After the sewing fail and the conference, this is what I've been working on. It's not perfect, but wearable. I took Louise Cutting's all-day workshop at ASG in 2009 and learned a lot of techniques, but there's a lot you forget. And my experience with Cutting Line Design patterns has been largely limited to the two shells (Pure and Simple and My Heart's a Flutter) that I've made over and over again. So I'm branching out, applying some techniques, and testing some new patterns.

For this outfit, I used the camp shirt from Easy, Ageless, Cool. The upper part (neckline, shoulders, armscye) is based on a Small and the rest is a Medium. Comfortably loose, but I think I'll shorten the sleeves a touch next time, as I did for the bodice. This pattern also has instructions to add front and back darts for a closer fit, but I chose the undarted version this time because of the thickness of the fabric and the embroidery. I also left off the pocket this time, which would be totally decorative anyway.

The skirt is from In the Trenches. I traced it much, much shorter than originally drafted. I'll be tracing off a longer version later on. I used a Medium to start with. The pattern includes instructions to refine the fit to your own measurements, so it's narrower than a true Medium as drafted.

The fabric is an embroidered rayon and linen from my stash. I ironed both garments before putting on and photographing the outfit, believe it or not. Hopefully it will become more pleasantly rumpled instead of creased over time. The detail pictures below show the embroidery better. The picture above is probably closest to the true shade.

One of the things that takes some getting used to with Cutting Line Designs is the amount of detail the instructions contain. Each of the patterns I've examined have had at least 6 pages of instructions. The temptation is to skip over them (like we all do on the Big 4), but I found it helpful to actually follow them step by step and not assume...some of her techniques are different than what we're all used to but they work.

Here are some more details of the garments.  The pattern piece for the collar is one piece; that is, you only cut one layer which incorporates both upper and under collar. The front edges are on the fold. One of the things that I did this time that I will do differently is to use a thinner interfacing. I just used some fusible tricot I had on hand and it was a little too heavy--that's what happens sometimes when inspiration strikes and you can't wait!

The collar features a center back seam on the underside. Once the center back seam is sewn, the collar starts to look like what we're all used to. Louise uses the one piece collar on all of her patterns that have collars because bulk is reduced. She credits Judy Barlup for this technique, and I believe there is also an old Threads article showing how to adapt conventional collar patterns to this.

The shot below also features Louise's deep back facing. She claims it helps to balance the garment. I'm not sure about this (yet), but I have seen a lot of RTW with back facings that use this deeper style.

The shot below shows the Louise Cutting elastic waist and pocket. Keep in mind that the skirt is not as gathered on me as it is on the form. My form is a little thinner than I am. :( I had my doubts about this waistband, but it is quite comfortable. It uses a soft and stretchy 1 1/2" wide elastic that Louise has sourced.

The pocket is cut on with the back of the skirt, brought forward, and then topstitched in place. Again, the purpose is to avoid the excess bulk of additional pocket seams and two pocket bags. I don't know if I'd use this style of pocket every time, but it is an interesting solution to side seam pockets.

The back vent wasn't strictly needed for this short of a skirt, but I did like it because the edges are nicely mitered.

The SewWest Closet: Nine West Sandals, Foster Grant sunglasses from Walgreen's (I forgot to take them off because I wear sunglasses all the time outside--the sun is relentless!).