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 bouclé 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

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Big Coat Inspiration

Big Coat -- Mixed Emotions blog

I like to start with a coat, because to me, a coat or jacket is the element that really pulls a wardrobe together. I want my coat not only to make a statement, but I want it to work with all the silhouettes I am likely to wear in the coming season. Last winter, I realized that the coats in my closet didn't really work with my slouchy pants. If you wear a short coat with wider pants, it will cut across your thighs, and chances are it will make you look stumpy. I looked at a lot of runway photos and I find that knee length or longer is a much more flattering  length. Check out my Big Coat  Pinterest board for some of my faves.
I plan to use this Burdastyle pattern:

Burda 08/2010-102

I love the shoulder detail (no set in sleeves!), wide lapels and overall roominess. I've already started on a muslin and I think it will work just as well with or without the tie belt. Of course, I really want to use my green wool from Mood, but it isn't very wide, so I'll have to come up with a creative way of laying out the fabric for the sleeves to be long enough. I hope it works, because even though it's still summer, I can't wait to wrap myself in its cozy goodness. Do you get as excited about sewing coats as I do? Marilla plans to make 2 this winter. How inspiring!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

One Last Summer Dress

Burda Dress 128-06/ 2013

Just before we left for the States, I decided my travel wardrobe wouldn't be complete without a lightweight jersey dress. So I started making this one, but ran out of time and finally finished it when we got back home, after the jet lag wore off. Of course, I didn't really need this dress on our trip. In fact, it never got terribly hot, so I wore mostly skirts or loose pants with long sleeved shirts.

The pattern is #128 from the June 2013 issue of Burdastyle, and I used a rayon jersey. I generally find rayon jerseys too unstructured for dresses, but they can work well in loose styles such as this. It was a very easy make. My modifications were to raise the elastic waist casing because I don't like too much poofiness in that area and I had to take in the bodice at the sides quite a bit.

So, I'm done with summer sewing till next year. Looking back, I think my makes this season have been quite consistent, even though I never set out with a formal plan. If you know yourself well enough, there is no need for worksheets and mathematical formulas. I find it much more satisfying to follow my intuition and sew what I need as I go along. This past season, I let myself indulge in this blue and grey phase I was in, and the result was a very versatile wardrobe that was perfect for travel.

See some of my favorite summer blues here: Nettie Bodysuit + 90s Sarong, here: Comfy Linen Pants, and here: Floral Cynthia Rowley Top.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Back From New York 2

My NY fabric purchases

I told you I didn't get much!
My stash is overflowing, so I concentrated on what I really needed.
I went to Mood looking for coat fabric. I had my mind set on Forest green and they had several choices. This 100% wool won me over. It is just the right shade of green, is really lush and has a wonderful drape. It was in the bouclé section and has a nubby texture, but it's tightly woven, unlike most bouclés. This picture is closer to the actual color:

Wool coating from Mood.

I also really wanted an emerald green matte jersey for a dress and I found it too. You can see it in the first picture on top of the wool. It is a really nice and substantial rayon matte jersey. I don't know how the color shows on your monitor, but it's really more emerald than kelly green.
I must say it was a very pleasant experience to walk into a fabric store and leave with exactly what I had come for! Most of my fabric purchases are from the market in Bordeaux, and you never know what will turn up. I've found some really nice stuff there, but rarely what I was actually looking for.

Belraf Fabrics, NY

The other two fabrics are from Belraf in the Lower East Side. There used to be quite a few fabric stores downtown, but most of them have closed down. This one is worth the trip though. It's stocked from floor to ceiling with all kinds of apparel fabrics, including some gorgeous designer silks (which I ignored) and prices are really good. I was looking for deep blue pants fabric with maybe a little bit of stretch. I couldn't find anything because this store is really disorganized, so I asked the owner. He looked first in one area and found nothing. Then he went to the opposite wall and pulled three dark blue cottons. The one I picked has this neat texture which I think will be more interesting than a plain chino type fabric. I also asked him about matte jerseys and he pointed to a few different areas in the store. I finally found this magenta matte jersey (not pink! I just couldn't get the color to show up correctly for some reason) which is a polyester and not quite as substantial as the mood one but still nice. In this picture you can get a good idea of the texture of the pants fabric.

I have a color palette in mind for my fall sewing. You might remember my Water Lilies skirt. Well, that fabric has all the colors I want to wear this fall, so I'll be using it as my reference. There are beautiful shades of green and blue, a caramel brown and shots of magenta in there. The fabric was a chance find at the Bordeaux fabric market and here is a picture of it for memory.

Other sewing related purchases were these fabric covered snaps from Pacific trimmings. I can't find them here and I think they look neater than the self made version. I plan to use a few of them on my forest green coat.

Fabric Covered Snaps

I also got a couple Vogue patterns at this really cool shop in Woodstock called Sew Woodstock.

Sew Woodstock

It's a really nice space where they have sewing classes, sell organic and repurposed fabrics, notions (including Merchant and Mills), and a selection of patterns. I got these for 5$ each which is much cheaper that what they cost in France.

That's it. I'm definitely gearing up to start sewing for fall. How about you?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Back from New York

A messy view of the Brooklyn Bridge

I grew up between New York and the South of France, but when I visit now, some neighborhoods have changed so much, I hardly recognize them. From certain angles, it can seem like an entirely different city, so I sometimes feel a bit like a tourist. The city is ever evolving: it's part of its DNA.
When I think of all the changes my grandma, a true New Yorker, witnessed in her lifetime which spanned most of the 20th century, it's mind boggling. She was there when most of it was being built! She loved her city and knew it inside out. Pick a building and she could tell you who built it, when and what for. My friend Leah, also a true New yorker, is like that. She spent several days walking around with us and was an amazing guide. It's always better to visit with a native :)

Diane Von Furstenberg's living/workspace near the Highline.

To be perfectly honest, I liked the city better before, when it was wild and dirty and dangerous, and most of the old neighborhood shops hadn't been replaced with luxury chain stores. It had more soul then. Now, walking around in Manhattan can sometimes feel like you're in an open air shopping mall and all the fit New Yorkers walking their pretty dogs seem almost suburban. It used to be, there was a surprise at every corner. New Yorkers were, in general, more eccentric and unique and that was really stimulating.

Pearl Paint has just closed down. How sad!

Of course nostalgia doesn't always paint a totally truthful picture and I also remember feeling like I had to build up an invisible armor, so I wouldn't be too permeable to the misery and filth in the streets. I wonder how I would feel about taking my kids to such a city today. It certainly is much safer and cleaner now.

I love this picture my husband took of the girls and me in Nolita.

And there's the Highline and Brooklyn Bridge park, (new parks are always good) and that beautiful Frank Gehry building with its rippled surface, which in my opinion is the best recent addition to the NY skyline. You can also see One World Trade Center and the Woolworth building in this picture.

Frank Gehry's Beekman Tower

But what makes me really happy are the things I love that haven't changed and that I can now share with my daughters, like the Alice in Wonderland statue in Central Park and free Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte theater (we were lucky to get tickets to King Lear).

Alice in Wonderland statue in Central Park.
We didn't stay in the city the whole time. We also went upstate to visit dear friends in Woodstock and Rhinebeck and it was wonderful.

Lots of birdhouses in Woodstock!

Such a contrast to the city! Apart from the addition of a few trendy shops, Woodstock hasn't changed. Although....

One of you asked to see my fabric purchases. I was very reasonable, but I'll show you what I got in my next post...

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Floral Cynthia Rowley Simplicity 1366

Simplicity 1366 by Cynthia Rowley

You've been seeing a lot of blue from me. I swear I have other colors in my summer stash, but I've just been reaching for the blue fabrics lately. And I enjoy playing with combinations of shades of blue in my outfits. There really is so much variety within a color range, monochrome definitely doesn't have to be monotone!
Anyway, in August I plan to begin sewing for fall and I'll be looking at a different palette. In the fall, I tend to reach for earth tones and jewel tones.

This one is made of a lovely printed Swiss dot cotton and the neckline is finished with jersey bias tape, turned under and topstitched. You can see the drape of the cotton is quite different than the rayon I used in the other top. The result is more structured but also more casual.

Simplicity 1366 by Cynthia Rowley

Back view.

Are kids in other parts of the world all making these colorful rubber band bracelets? It seems all the parents I know around here are wearing them because all the kids, boys and girls alike are making them.

We're taking off for New York tomorrow, to visit friends and family, and I need to pack! I wish you all a wonderful couple of weeks!