Monday, October 27, 2014

Pants are hard!


Last year I traced a pair of ready to wear pants that fit pretty well. I made a few muslins and sewed them up. They weren't bad, but they weren't good enough. Good enough, to me, means that I'm pleased and comfortable enough that an item becomes part of the regular rotation in my closet.
So, I pulled those pants out again a few weeks ago, pinned here and there, compared them to other pants in my closet, made up a couple more muslins and sewed them up again. This is where it's at.



It's so time consuming, you know, because every change in the main pattern pieces means you have to redraft all the little bits and pieces to match.


There are still wrinkles that I would rather see gone, like the whiskers at center front. I keep altering that curve in every muslin, but it's never quite right.


I'm ok with having a little extra room under my bum, as it's useful for sitting, but maybe there's still too much there. I would love to hear your thoughts and advice, my friends. And I mean it, don't hold back! I would really appreciate some constructive criticism. I need more of these straight legged pants, and I would like them to be as good as they can be.


The fabric is a slightly stretchy deep navy cotton with a brushed surface. It's pretty stiff and maybe a softer fabric would be more forgiving.


The top is another Simplicity  1366 I made with the leftovers from my Dolores dress. This is my first time making it in a knit and I finished all the openings (neckline, waist, cuffs) with bands.


See one of my favorite pairs of pants here: Comfy Linen Pants

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Dolores Batwing Dress


Dolores Batwing Dress

I bought this fabric a year ago. At first I loved it, then I kind of hated it, so I put it out of sight. But the colors were so right for me... I pulled it out again for fall, though I wasn't sure what to make with it. When I saw So Zo's Dolores Batwing Dress, I thought it would be perfect, so I entered the giveaway Zoe was having on her blog. I'm so glad I won. Thank you Zoe! Sometimes, I find, when I'm unsure about a fabric, it's a just a matter of finding the right pattern for it.
I love this dress and have already worn it a couple times in the past week. I no longer have any doubts about the fabric. I'm actually pretty smitten with these crazy tile shapes.




When I measured the pattern, I found it had negative ease around the hips, so, since my fabric, a double knit, didn't have very much stretch, I cut two sizes bigger. Of course, I sewed it up and ended up trimming it back down to my size. But, you know, if I'm not making a muslin, I'd rather give myself a little room for adjustments, even in a knit, rather than cutting something and finding that I cannot wear it. So, in the end, the sizing was perfect, no mods needed.
I like my dresses to be knee length, but this may be just a smidge too long... The fabric is heavy and it seems to grow a bit. I might slice off an inch or so.



I'm glad I chose a very loose style for My Coat, so I can comfortably wear it over these types of dresses. Something that really puzzles me in ready to wear, is that you see a lot of oversized sweaters, but coats tend to be fitted, with narrow sleeves.
See my wings:



You might have noticed it's similar in style to Last Week's Dress. What can I say, I love these relaxed dresses! This is my version of sweatpants I guess... I like to be comfortable, but I still want to feel pulled together. I'd say the major difference between the two patterns is that this one was designed exclusively for knits and the Cynthia Rowley pattern is for either knits or wovens, so it has much more ease in the skirt and sleeve bands.  Also the sleeve shape is actually quite different and the neckline here is more of a boatneck. I'll probably use this one for knits and the C.R. for wovens in the future.


I made a matching slim belt with metallic beads at the end. I almost always make these to go with my knit dresses. I don't always wear them together, but I like to have options. Last week's dress also has its belt, though I chose to wear a leather belt for the pictures.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Cynthia Rowley dress and Blog Hop!

Cynthia Rowley, Simplicity 2472
I like having a bunch of loose jersey dresses that I can wear over my yoga gear (so I'm always yoga ready!) and look presentable while feeling comfortable all day. Here I used Simplicity 2472, a Cynthia Rowley pattern, and I made it up in a cotton jacquard knit.

Cynthia Rowley, simplicity 2472

It's a very quick and easy make, but there are a couple details which I think make it special: the neckline frames the collar bones nicely, and I like the balloon shape of the sleeves, which are gathered into loose fitting bands. I also like that it can be made in wovens, which is how I'd like to make it next time.




There really isn't much else to say about it, so as I continue to show you views of the dress, I'll move onto the blog hop now :)

I was tagged by my dear Sasha of fruits,flowers&clouds. She and I started blogging at the same time and we connected immediately. I have watched her, in less than a year, grow from beginner sewist to WOW!!!, So yeah, watch out for this ragazza! (Thank you Sasha :))

Why do you write?

I started blogging because I knew no one else who sews, or at least not with the same passion I felt for the craft, but I'd been following amazing sewists on the blogosphere and I wanted to take part in the fun! I can say that blogging has changed the way I look at what I do. It has given me some very welcome breathing space between myself and what I'm making, helping me to step back and see the bigger picture. I don't want to just churn out garments one after the other. I want a more conscious approach. To keep in mind how everything fits in together and  build something that feels consistent with who I am.

Rue Sainte Catherine is the longest pedestrian street in Europe!

What are you working on?

I've just finished making SoZo's Dolores Batwing dress, which I love, and can't wait to show off. Right now I'm working on a pair of cigarette pants and I've put a lot of effort into the fitting end, so I'm hoping they will fit.

How does your blog differ from others of its genre?

Well, I'm not there yet. I want to put more of all the different stuff I'm interested in here. Art, style... So far, I think it only represents a small portion of me. I admire bloggers who have a wider scope.

How does your writing process work?

Well, not much to say here. When I have something to write about, I sit down and write :)


I used the wrong side of the Jacquard because I love how textural it is.


So here are the two bloggers I would like to pass the torch to:

Carolyn of Handmade by Carolyn. I have admired her for years, long before I started blogging. She has that overall vision! She not only sews everything in her wardrobe with great virtuosity and refinement, but she follows her own, very personal course and has been building a beautiful wardrobe of very unique clothes that couldn't be mistaken for anyone else's but her own. I find her approach very inspiring.

Marie of Imaginary Animals. I've only been aware of her for a few months now, but I love how her blog really functions as a window into her creative world. She's a wonderful artist, makes the prettiest clothes and have you seen her gorgeous sewing space?

Cynthia Rowley, Simplicity 2472
A BientĂ´t!




Tuesday, September 30, 2014

New Look 6314 from Scraps

New Look 6314 Colorblock sweater

I wanted to make this last winter but never got around to it. I had these beautiful wool knit scraps leftover from making a cardigan for my husband and a dress for myself. Neither was enough for anything, but combined, they could be a sweater. I had forgotten about this project but when I saw some of the amazing pieced creations from Scraptember, like Katie'sMorgan's and Debbie's beautiful makes, I felt inspired to dig up those old scraps and finally sew them up.



Please ignore the wrinkles on the sleeves. I should have ironed them out, but I hadn't noticed! Please ignore the cat hairs too while you're at it. Oh, my!



I used New Look 6314 which is a new pattern for fall. It's a nice slouchy style and I made no alterations for fit. I was going for a pretty simple color blocked effect: black sleeves / marled blue body, but there wasn't enough of the blue, so I added a strip of black at the top of the back. I also had to add a center back seam because of the shape of my scraps (I topstitched those seams on the coverstitch so they lay flat). I think those modifications add interest to the garment, which goes to show, restriction can be a good thing!



The neckband is made from the reverse side of the marled blue which is a gorgeous silver and I'm so happy to show it off because it was completely hidden in the dress I made last year from the same fabric. I love that dress too and I'll try to get some pictures when I unpack it for winter, since it was never blogged.

New Look 6341 Colorblock Sweater

This was a really quick and easy project. Knit garments can be so fast to put together on the serger and so stress free. I just love making them!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

McCall 6600 Shirtdress in Radiant Orchid

Mccall 6600

I think shirtdresses are the perfect seasonal transition piece. They can be buttoned up more or less, sleeves rolled up or down to adjust for warmth or sun protection and they layer well.

McCall 6600


I used McCall's 6600, which is a tent shaped dress, and ended up giving it a slight bit of shaping at the sides so I could wear it unbelted. I did make the matching sash, but it gives the dress a very different, more formal vibe in this particular fabric. I tried it with a variety of belts, but I really like it loose. It's so comfortable this way, and I think it has attitude! Also, a belt would disrupt the drape from the back pleat which is one of my favorite features in this dress.

Mccall 6600

I was surprised when I realized I had sewn something in the Pantone color of the year. At least I think this is pretty close to Radiant Orchid (the color of this fabric varies depending how the light hits it). I do check out the Pantone color forecast every season, but it never really speaks to me. The fabric shops around here don't seem to care about what Pantone says either. As sewists, are you influenced by it? Do you find that those seasonal palettes are well represented in the fabric shops you go to?



This fabric has metallic threads in the warp. I'm not sure of its contents but the burn test seems to indicate it's cotton. The guy at the market said it has some silk in it. I don't know... maybe. In any case, I really like it. It's pretty lofty and has this crinkled texture and subtle sheen that make it unique.


I love the look of the slim cuffs, and check out the pretty vintage button!



I'm really pleased with the fit of the shoulders (the only part of this dress where fit matters, really!) They allow for forward shoulders, and contour mine well without any alterations. Shoulders are the area that I usually need to fuss around with the most, so this was a nice surprise. I think that with such a loose style it's very important that the shoulders sit well. Oh, I did size down though. When they say it is "very loose fitting", they mean it!


One unusual thing about this pattern is that the front placket facing is not turned under, so its edges show when it is unbuttoned. McCall's tells you simply to "finish the long edge of the facing", well, they really should tell you that it will be visible from the outside. I chose to cut the facings along the selvage, so they're self-finished and bulk free, and I like the look of that sliver of darker magenta at the edges. If I make this dress again though, I will probably adapt the facing so it is turned under.


I also used the selvage as a stabilizer in the shoulder seams, as you can see in this inside shot:



Another inside shot: the yoke facing.


I would like to sew a more wintery version, like in a cozy flannel. But I think I can wear this one at least through fall and most of winter, and then again in the spring.

McCall 6600


If you liked this dress, you might also want to check out the shirtdress I made last spring: Classic Shirtdress

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Big Green Coat.

Burda 08/2010-102

It's so hot out right now, it seems crazy to sew a coat, but I know I'll be reaching for it soon enough.

Burda 08/2010-102

It's a lot easier for me to envision my fall wardrobe now that my coat is sewn. For me, outerwear is key. Once you have your coat or jacket, everything else falls into place. Now I have tons of ideas for things I want to sew!


I wanted my coat to be in a color (be it a dark one), because it doesn't feel as safe as a neutral and I wish to explore a more complex palette. Dark green will work with all the colors I love for fall : jewel tones, earth tones, peach, blue, grey, black... but I think the combination of any of these colors with the green will always be more interesting than with a neutral.




This isn't the fabric I had originally planned to use.  This one is a herringbone wool in a slightly different shade of green, yellower in hue. I know the Mood bouclĂ© will find its purpose eventually, but it wasn't wide enough for this project. Since the sleeves are cut on the cross grain and I wanted long sleeves, I needed wide fabric. The original design has 3/4 to 7/8 sleeves, which is lovely but not practical for me. I like my arms to be warm too!


Even though I did make a muslin, lengthening the sleeves is the only change I made to the pattern. It's a very loose style and no fitting alterations were necessary.
I had planned to use fabric covered snaps, but decided against them eventually. This way I can adjust the front wrap overlap to make it snugger if I need more warmth.
Sewing a coat is always time consuming, but this one wasn't particularly difficult. No set in sleeves, no buttonholes... The pockets are in-seam.
The only slightly challenging detail is the angled shoulder seam which must be interfaced and sewn with precision.

Burda 08/2010-102 Angled Shoulder Seam

 Of course the collar should be shaped so it rolls nicely, for which I use the technique in my Burda book, "La Couture Pratique". The English version, which is called "Burda: a Practical Sewing Guide" seems to be out of print, however In the Mood for Couture has all the steps :)


 Some people like to cut their undercollar on the bias, but I don't, because then it won't pop!


Hand worked belt loop:



I used a flannel backed lining so it will be nice and warm. (I run cold, though I must admit winters aren't terribly rough here in Bordeaux).


This coat is exactly what I had envisioned and I can't wait for the temperature to drop so I can cuddle up in it!




If you like coats, check out the peacoat I made last fall and which I look forward to pulling out again this year!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Green Twist Dress

McCall 5484


This is McCall's 5484, an out of print pattern that I have sewn before, maybe 5 years ago, and that old dress is still one of my favorites. It always comes with me when traveling because it's versatile, unfussy and flattering, I think. I was actually wearing the old dress when I went to Mood on our trip to NY and one of the things I was looking for was fabric to make another one of these. So I picked up this rayon matte jersey which is beautiful, has a lovely drape, but it turns out is a bit too heavy for this style. In spite of my swayback adjustment that I had already worked out for my first dress, the fabric fell plumb straight away from my back because of its weight. I should have taken before and after pictures, but see this side view?


Imagine the fabric falling straight down from my shoulders to my butt instead of following the contours of my body. Not flattering, and not comfortable because of how it pulled down to the hem. The front is fine thanks to the under bust twist seam, and because I stabilized the neckline, but I had to come up with a creative solution for the back, so I added an elastic casing.

What do you think? I'm calling it a design element. The original design of the back is really quite boring without it anyway, and it does its job of keeping the dress snug against my back and taking some of the weight off the hem.

If you like green dresses, here's another one I sewed last spring: Classic Shirtdress