02 February 2009

Fashion Illustration and Thanks to La Sewista!

First things first - big shout out to La Sewista for the tutorial she wrote about Hong Kong seams! I don't have a serger so I'm always at a loss as to how to make the insides of my garments look nice. I confess, if it's not lined, I usually just leave the inside seams raw. As my sewing grows I expect I'll need to pay more attention though! Especially if I'm sewing for someone other than myself. So thanks again for such a wonderful post! I think La Sewista's Hong Kong seam technique looks so cool :)

I've always been interested in drawing and especially fashion illustration. When I was little I was always drawing pretty pink dresses with puffy sleeves. So, I bought a few books, some new special drawing pencils and dug out my old sketchbook I had from my motorcycle gang comic drawing phase. I'm not kidding on that one :)

I haven't done much sewing over the weekend as I have a bit of a cold, but drawing seemed like just the thing to do. The picture to the left is my adaptation of Vogue 7521, a dress I'm conside
ring making for my rehearsal dinner in May. I may not wind up with this exact dress, I'll have to see where the fabric takes me. That reminds me, I need to go to the fabric store.

The dress below is Vogue 8408 wh
ich I am nearly done with! I have done a lot of modifications on this dress but it is fitting great. Thanks to my darling bf for the help marking the spots it needed to be taken in at! I tried to imitate the fabric and the brown-thread top stitching in the drawing, but I'm not that talented! So I just did the best I can. The fabric is a very loosely woven wool blend with a slight herringbone pattern in brown, cream and ice blue. I am going to love this dress for a long time!

22 January 2009

Hood Obsession

I am in love with hoods right now. Yes, that warranted the bold typeface. The picture to the left is from designer Biddell, Project Runway Canada Season 1. I love his use of big floppy hoods!

Christopher Raeburn, from Project Catwalk Season 1 also had a fabulous hood in episode 5, but no luck finding that picture!

So, I want to make a jacket with a big floppy hood. Not a sporty, fleecie, sweatshirty type of hooded jacket, a nice jacket. Almost like a suit jacket that a really edgy girl would wear (yes, that is my dream). I have a wonderful dark grey wool blend that would be great for this project. I am sure I can find really cool lining for it too. I'm thinking something with a print.

The problem is, I can't find a pattern. I want a front zip and a giant hood but I haven't seen anything like it! I don't mind if the fit is a tad boxy but it can't be too boxy. I think a little bit of a boxy shape looks good with a hood. Burda 7750 is /sort of/ what I'm looking for (the beige jacket on the right), although I'm a bit apprehensive that it will turn out looking like outerwear instead of innerwear (is that a word?) I really want a zipper in this jacket, but the diaganol zip from Burda 7750 might be a bit over the top for me. A) It wouldn't hang nicely if I left it open with a shirt underneath and B) I'm making a suit jacket with a hood, I can't take too many more risks than that in one garment!

I've looked for patterns in the big 4, Burda and Hot Patterns but I see nothing. This might be a self-drafted pattern exercise, or I may modify a pattern I already own, like New Look 6852. It really could work. What do you guys think? How difficult would it be to add a zipper to a jacket that is meant to have buttons? One of these days soon I plan to make a muslin out of this jacket and give the hood & zip a whirl. :) Any advice is welcome, wish me luck!

14 January 2009

Fitting Issues

I spent some time reworking my grey coat this week. I just never was happy with the button closures. As I'm writing this I'm trying to focus on the main thing I didn't like about it, but honestly I have zillions of reasons, which I will list below!

A) I admit, I made the button loops WAY TOO BIG... so the buttons had to be scooted over on the jacket to an awkward place. Rather than being able to throw on my coat and button and make a graceful exit like in the movies, I was forced to bend my arm into a weird position and kind of try to button my coat under my left arm. No good. So this week I decided to take off the button loops and toggle buttons and use standard buttons and button holes. I'm so much more happy with this coat now!

B) The toggle buttons themselves were kind of floppy.

C) I used simple black cording for the button loops. I think it could have looked much more professional if I would have made custom loops out of the grey wool.

I'm having a bit of a struggle with the fit in some of my garments. This coat fits ok but it does have a weird fold at the upper bust. I wonder if I should have done an FBA on it. I'm not really sure yet how to make things fit exactly perfectly. Why didn't the fit on my Armani knockoff turn out as well as Tany's coat or Erica B's coat? I need to invest in a good book this weekend. I know how to do an FBA but I wonder if I'm just making things too big in general. I actually make one size smaller than the big 4 suggest on their sizing charts. Still, sometimes things seem to swim a bit.

I'm nearly finished with my new grey fleece tunic. It is turning out so cute. I took a quick picture last night that shows the keyhole and the neato seaming on the front of the garment. The only things I have left now are to put in the zipper, put in the neckband and figure out what to do with the bottom of the sleeves. I drafted a pattern for sleeves for this tunic, since I was going to be wearing it for warmth. I made them extra long and with a slit on the outer wrist. I might use facing in them so that I can fold them up. That might be pretty cute. Anyway, I should have this shirt done tommorrow!

The shirt does seem a bit big, even though I scaled it down one size. This pattern is so great and I want to make it again using nice fabric, so I need to figure out the fit :) I'm sending this message out to the great void.... if anyone has fitting tips or recommendations for books, I'm all ears!

08 January 2009

Black Loungewear Pants

Do you remember the post I wrote a few days ago about the frog I sewed for my bff growing up? Well on that same day she posted her pictures from Christmas and whaddya know, she made it all the way to the white house holiday party. That's her on the right. I am confident that the frog I made her played a part in making all of this possible :) Congrats Salamander, that's an amazing achievement! I think it would have been fun to go into politics... although I have to say that business can be fairly political sometimes.... but we don't get any cool meetings with the president. Congratulations again!

In other less fabulous news, I finished sewing my black sweatshirt material loungewear pants last night. What a great pattern. These pants took about 1.5 hours to cut & sew and they are so warm! I'm wearing them now and will wear them constantly this winter around the house. The details are below:

Inspiration: My favorite loungewear pants from Victoria's Secret

Simplicity 3640 (Out of print! but you can still find it at the stores)

Fabric Used: 1 3/4 yards of black sweatshirt fleece. the pattern only calls for 1 1/2 but I bought extra in order to make the pants long enough. I could have gotten away with 1 1/2 I think.

Notions: 2" Wide black elastic

These pants have a fit that is fabu. As I mentioned in a previous post, the only alterations I make to them is:

1) Decreased the rise by 1". Without the lowered rise the pants fit right at the belly button. I like them to be a bit lower than that. (Don't worry, the 2" elastic in the yolk prevents any undie peek-a-boo in the back)

2) Lengthened the pants. I think if I made them according to the pattern they may be around 32" inseam. I need to add a couple of inches to that to avoid looking like a total nerd.

If you're looking for cute, easy pants to wear around the house, this is your pattern. I have made them before in ponte knit, they were nice but not as warm as I wanted. I might make them again in a few days with all of my leftover grey fleece from my grey coat double-lining!

What's on deck next? Well, I'm continuing my plight to make warm cozy tops/pants to wear around the house while still retaining some sense of style. Don't get me wrong, I like my fleece half-zips as much as the next girl but I REALLY do believe that I can find a more stylish way to use fleece. So. I've been sewing cute tops using fleece even though fleece isn't even close to being one of the recommended fabrics. Does that make all you sewers out there *cringe*? Sometimes it works, sometimes it might not but all in all I'm usually only out about $4 to $6 worth of fleece if it doesn't work out.

So, as part of this mission I went to the store last night and I found THE BEST PATTERN I'VE EVER SEEN. I planned to purchase Simplicity 2760
, which is a pattern made specifically for fleece (again, trying to use all my leftover grey fleece) but instead returned with this awesome awesome pattern. Simplicity 2927 I love the tunic, I love the dress, I love everything about this pattern. It is possible that I love it so much that I might even trace the pattern off, rather than cutting into it. I've even considered making a muslin.... but that's a bit hard to justify considering I'm constructing the tunic using $4/yard fleece that is totally replaceable. I'm making the tunic with pockets. It might even be cute to make it in grey with orange pockets, we'll see! I also might make it with long sleeves, rather than short or 3/4 length sleeves.

Anyway, hope all of your sewing projects are going well!

06 January 2009

Pattern: Vogue 8548

Fabric Used:
3 yards of brown quilted material. It is part of some sort of designer 'dark collection' but I should have paid more attention. What can I say, I bought the material before I had a blog! I al
so used 2 yards of cream-colored lining.

Two 1 3/8" brown buttons

Lined coat has bodice with pri
ncess seams, A-line skirt and full-length sleeves. Length is mid-thigh.

I really do love
this coat, but I had to make some alterations to it. Mostly the alterations were not due to the pattern not fitting, but because I was trying to fit into 1 size smaller than the pattern instructions had indicated. Sometimes I fudge the size a bit. I usually go one size smaller than the pattern instructs, but this time I tried two sizes down! I should have known that my shoulders would not fit into a smaller size... and my arm-length is similar to that of a chimpanzee!

So I had to alter the pattern to make it fit. I left the back the same but I cut out new pieces for the front bodice, front facing, front skirt and front skirt lining. I cut them out in the correct size and then added several inches to make the coat fold over a little better in the front.

I also had to add length to the arms, despite the fact that I added an inch to the sleeve when I cut them. They were still a bit too short when I hemmed the sleeves, so I took out the stitches and sewed another 4 or 5" inches to the end of the sleeve. Then I folded the newly sewn piece inside the sleeve, pressed it and then sewed it to the lining. So the very fold of the sleeve has a seam on it, but it doesn't look too much like
a hack job. I don't think anyone would notice it. I'm sure that's not the best way to lengthen sleeves, but I'll tell you I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

Next time I would cut the coat in the correct size! Or maybe even make a muslin first. I wanted to make a muslin but I was out of fabric and eager to get going on the coat. What an ammeter mistake!

Editors Note: I should also mention that I completely ignored the instructions for lining this coat. The instructions suggest that you sew the bodice lining in and then sew the skirt lining in and then somehow hand sew the two together at the end. I didn't take the time to try to determine what they were asking me to do. I just sewed all of the lining together as one piece and then sewed it all (bodice and skirt) into the jacket using the standard methods once the entire outer jacket was finished.

I'm dying to
get going on my next projects, using the lovely fabric I picked up in South Carolina, but I am in dire need of some warm lounge wear pants for around the house. For around-the-house pants I use Simplicity 3640. I add length to the pants for a 34" inseam and also reduce the rise by 1" so they fit a little lower. I also have some extra grey polar fleece from my wool coat project in an earlier post. I'm hoping to make another fleece top out of that, but I haven't determined what pattern to use yet. I plan on sewing tonight instead of after I clean my house.

My First Sewing Project, Ever.

Most of the women in my family sew and I grew up watching them sew project after project. It is neat to think that many of the bridesmaids dresses from my mom's generation were individually sewn by each of the bridesmaids. I have often wondered if that was just a common thing to sew back in the day because more women were sewers or if that is something that is unique to my family. If anyone has any insight into that, I would love to hear it.

My mom, grandma
and aunts sewed clothes for themselves, clothes for me, curtains for my room, doll clothes for my Cabbage Patch Kids, etc. I especially like to reminisce about the navy, pink and white eyelet lace balloon shades my mom and aunt made for me when we moved to a new town in Wyoming when I was 15. It was incredibly special to have my new room so beautifully decorated.

I should also mention that my Memaw sews A LOT. I think nearly everything in her closet is sewn by her. She has a fabulous pants pattern that she can whip up in no time flat. She also makes a lot of her own curtains and has made curtains for my mom recently --- as my mom has been working a zillion hours & has grandkids to sew for now! Also, my Memaw can fix ANYTHING. It's great to know a person like that. (Once I got a silk tie in the mail from Thailand and I cut through it with scissors when I openened the envelope. She even fixed that.)

Many times as a teenager my mom came through for me when I thought I had "nothing to wear". I would help her cut the material out and sh
e would sew (sometimes late into the night) so that I could have something cute for the next day. For Christmas, when I got my first Cabbage Patch doll it meant the world to me that my aunt sewed me a whole collection of doll clothes that included shirts with hearts on them, pants and cute drop-waist dresses. How thoughtful was that? I am sure there are many times that they sewed for me that I can't even remember.

My first sewing p
roject was when I was in 3rd grade. It was a self-drafted pattern for a frog that I made out of some scrap material that my mom had. the top of the frog is dark purple kind of suede-like material and the bottom is off-white muslin. It is completely hand sewn, filled with rice and I used psychedelic red and blue buttons for the eyes. I remember that it turned out to be much smaller than I had anticipated!

I remember bathing my frog growing up, can you believe it? Somehow this hand-sewn frog filled with rice has made it through multiple situations where it was lathered with hand soup and washed in the sink. At least we know it's clean, I guess. I cringe to think of what the rice inside of it looks like at this point. I still love that frog, though.

I still have my frog, Francis around. As you can see from the pix, I have pictures of Francis hanging out on my tea cup when I'm having my morning cup and also pictures of him looking at my computer. Probably watching You've Got Mail or something playing on the macbook.

I also made a frog for my BFF growing up, Katie Alexander. She was also known as "Salamander" as the name Alexander sounds a bit like Salamander to little ones. Her homemade (couture even?) frog story is one of love, lost love and the ultimate reunion. :) Her frog was a little larger than mine, as I had learned some lessons from the construction of my first frog. It had cupcakes on it as I made it from a summer jumpsuit of mine that no longer fit. I gave it to her at church and the next day she took it to school with her and it was stolen! It was a sad, sad day. Then, at the end of the school year, someone returned it to her by leaving it on her desk. I was glad that she got it back.

I'd still make her 100 frogs today. Hopefully no one at work would steal them, though! Oh, the humanity!

Anyway, I'd love to hear from anyone who has stories of their family members sewing or stories of their first sewing projects!

Sometimes I Knit

I would say that most of those who sew also knit.I only partially fit into that category. At this point I don't have much of a desire to take on any large scale apparel knitting projects, although I do enjoy the lovely posts from Tany (Couture et Tricot) and Cidell (Miss Celie's Pants) with their latest knitting projects.

Me? I mostly just knit dishcloths. Isn't that odd? I really like colorful knitted dishcloths, they are really scrubby an
d yet they don't scratch anything! My favorite knitting pattern is that neato diagonal orange/white dishcloth with the neat edging. That particular pattern is called "Grandma's Favorite" and I've included the directions below. It turns out to be really cute. This is a really great project for beginners or for people in need of dishcloths :)

Grandma's Favorite Dishcloth
Materials: Sugar and Cream yarn or any cotton yarn; Size 6 or 7 needles (US)

Cast on 4 stitches
Row 1:
Knit 4

Row 2:
Knit 2, yarn over, knit across the row. Repeat Row 2 until you have 44 stitches on the needle.

Row 3:
Knit 1, Knit 2 together, yarn over, knit 2 together, knit to the end of the row. Repeat Row 3 until you have 4 stitches on the needle. Then bind off!

I have purchased beige, black, red and white cotton yarn and one of these days I'm going to make a pseudo Burberry plaid dishcloth. I should do that soon, wouldn't that make a great "just because" gift for friends? I think I would just do full rows of knit and then purl so the dishcloth turns out with no ribbing. It seems like I should knit 5 beige, knit 1 red, knit 5 beige, knit 2 black, knit 2 white, etc etc. I wonder if that would work out. I wonder how I would keep all the yarn from being a tangled mess.

Currently I am knitting a raspberry and charcoal plaid scarf. I am using the same pattern I use for plaid dishcloths but I have upgraded the size 7 knitting needles to size 10.5. The scarf is turning out to be kind of wide though. It should be pretty warm with the nice grey wool. :)