Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Draped Skirt Experiment

Note to Self: This experimenting thing is fun. I don't know why I always avoid it.

Briefly: A few months ago (in November to be exact) Kate from Fabricated posted pictures of her draped skirt projects. She draped some on the stand and then posted instructions about how to make a draped skirt from a skirt block. I was intrigued.

So I  used my TNT straight skirt pattern to make this ...
The Geek was quite perplexed as to what this might possibly be.
In my stash I some nice wool (but not so nice that I was reluctant to use it on an experiment) in the recommended plaid so I gave it a whirl.

While it wasn't a total success as I used french seam (my serger thinks I shouldn't air our dirty linen in public and is acting up again) resulting in a overall seam allowance of 3/4 of an inch rather than 1/2 an inch. I agree this doesn't sound like much but I lost a crucial half inch of ease in the process and  have gone from a slim skirt to a snug skirt.

Snugness aside, the larger draped section sits right the widest part of my hips. When I try this again, I will move it, likely down, a few inches.

I didn't get as far as ironing the side seams as I knew this wasn't going to work as-is.

Despite the front being cut on the bias, I am somewhat tickled about how the plaid pattern is working along the side seam. It isn't quite matched but adds some interesting detail, especially on the draped side.

I'm going to try to rescue this skirt but taking it apart to try cutting the front on-grain from the current bias-cut front. It would be a shame to let that pattern matching across the back go to waste.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Bridging Old to New; Unintentionally Slow Sewing

Note to Self: if you plan on steaming wool for extended periods, use your steamer and you won't cook your iron.

Briefly: This suit was supposed to be ready in early December 2015 to wear with this mask to a Mardi Gras Christmas party. But it wasn't finished. And then some Christmas sewing happened (but I will do another post of un-blogged items).
Then I was going to wear it to a Japanese New Years Party. But only the skirt was done, so wore something else. A good thing as, surprisingly, our host's house was hot (close to 80 people will do that).
I finally finished the jacket Thursday morning (yes, January 21, 2016), just in time to wear to a co-workers retirement party.

Looking slightly wilted -it was after 2200 hours and I am usually asleep at 2030.

Goodness! I can't even stand up straight.
I bought the suiting about 10 years ago with the intentions of making a cape. It wasn't until I took it outside the shop that I realized it had metallic threads.

I'm not a sparkly person so it was buried in the deepest stash and only dragged it out when I found this pattern at a thrift store.

And then way back in November, just before I cut the fabric, my serger had a temper tantrum and would not stay threaded. So I threw the rather loosely-woven fabric in the washing machine with some jeans, and then in the dryer to felt it. (After our last falling out I've learned the fastest way to 'fix' my capricious machine is to show it I can manage without it.) Now that the suit is now finished, the serger is working again. But I've gotten ahead of myself

The jacket is OOP Vogue 8123. I made a size 10 even tho' my measurements had me at a size 14.

The skirt is my usual straight skirt pattern.

Since the felted wool is so thick, I top-stitched all the darts and seams to help them stay flat. That and hours of steam -hence the dead iron.

The metallic thread is not as obvious as I thought it be.

The jacket will be great in my chilly office.

Normally this suit would have been done in a weekend so I am not thrilled it took me close to two months, especially since nothing but the little bit of Christmas sewing jumped the queue. I did sign up for SWAP and I am planning mostly TNT patterns, so we'll have to see if I can manage to get my next few projects done more quickly.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

SWAP 2016?

Note to self:  I've put these fabrics in a separate drawer so I can find them more easily come February.

Briefly: Several of the blogs I read have been talking about Sewing With a Plan or SWAP. Last spring I watched those same bloggers make some lovely garments and I'm toying with the idea. myself. I have mentioned before that I am not really a joiner - more of a lurker, so I'll have to see if I commit (in writing) or not.

The rules about what to sew are copied straight from the Artisan Square site or you could follow the link above.

1 "3 pack" of Color(s) A (3 garments)
1 "3 pack" of Color(s) B (3 garments)
1 "Combo Pack" of Colors A & B (2 garments)
1 "3 pack" of Wild Cards

A "3 pack" will be:
2 tops + 1 bottom
1 top + 1 bottom + 1 outer layer
1 dress + 1 top + 1 bottom
2 bottoms + 1 top
Two dresses & one layer.
The final 3 pack option is 1 dress + 1 top OR bottom + 1 layer.

The "Combo Pack" can be just about anything, but they must be garments, not accessories (scarves, belts, bags, etc).  The "Wild Cards" can also be any color, or any color combination,  but for this to work they will need to follow the format of one of the other "3 packs".  That is, you'll need more tops, bottoms, or dresses to make the wardrobe work.

The rules this year seem highly manageable, so I have rummaged around the sewing room and this is what I think I can do.

Pack A: a pair of shorts and two tops.

Pack B: either a skirt or trousers and a blouse. Since we are allowed to use two previously sewn items I may use the window-check blouse from this summer.

 Combo Pack: two dresses.

Wild cards: orange shorts or skirt with a white t-shirt and possibly the 'skeleton key' Oakridge blouse I made earlier this year

These clothes are mostly for casual wear on the the weekends. I am trying to look a little less rumpled on my days off; now I just throw on...whatever... and run out the door.

There has to be some work-wear sewing before all this starts. I find sewing summer clothes so much more exciting than winter clothes, but I still have to go to work, and there are some brighter colours in here. I had plans to sew this fabric for last winter, but obviously that didn't happen. Let's see what I accomplish this year.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Vintage Late Summer Flower Dress

Note to self: next time make some attempt to pattern match.

Briefly: This is another combination of two patterns, Style 4892 and Style 4980, that I tried last July.

The only thing I did differently was to lengthen the front bodice by about half an inch.

I was so sure the dress was mostly purple, but looking at it now, it looks more blue and turquoise. I should wear my blue stockings and not the purple ones; next time -next year.
I should take in the sides a little more around the waist -it bunches more in the back than the last one did.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Not Really Sewing Weather

Holy Smokes it's been hot here! (Please note: that is not a complaint, it is a comment. When I say "Holy Smokes it's been cold here!", that is a complaint.) Never the less, the heat has not been conducive to sewing. When you can break a sweat standing still wearing nothing but a sports bra and a loose cotton skirt, that's hot. And we don't have air conditioning so the house was about 31 degrees C yesterday. (I usually close the windows early in the morning so the house, cooled overnight, usually stays at about 26C, but yesterday we were out longer than I thought -hence the 31 degrees.) One further comment? Our high yesterday was 33C with a humidex of 46C. We prairie folk are not used to that kind of humidity.

Anyway, enough blather. I have managed to sew two other versions of my prototypes.
One is another Oakridge with the back narrowed by an inch (do you like my mix of metric and Imperial measurements? Confusing, eh? Welcome to my life) but next time I might only do 3/4 of an inch, which was my original plan.

I've noticed people don't pay much attention to prints. I've worn this blouse a couple of times but no one noticed the spectacles until the second go round. Maybe they're distracted by the single red button. The one-of button was semi-intentional. I needed one more button but didn't have enough of the grey ones and red seemed like a good choice.

The other is a second version of the Edith blouse with a collar and an increase in the back width of about 3/4 of an inch. (Since one cannot destroy or create matter, I figure I am keeping the archaic laws of physics in balance with these changes.)
My lazy photography; no human model. Here Edith 2 is freshly washed and not yet dry, hanging on my clothesline with the vine monstrosity in the background.

Hopefully we will have a few more weeks of summer, so I plan to make a few more to test my modification ideas. Tho' first I want to finish (ok, start, {I've been dithering over which pattern to use}) a dress for my cousin's 60th birthday party next weekend.

Sunday, July 5, 2015


I've been testing out a few blouse patterns. I haven't sewn many blouses. My friend Flo once remarked that blouses are sometimes more work than dresses and only half of you is covered at the end. Nevertheless, I don't like the way RTW blouses fit. Or rather, don't fit. They are usually too tight in the biceps and too tight across the back so here starts my testing.

First up, Maria Denmark's Edith. The simplicity appealed to my tired brain.
Edith blouse, sans collar.
 I made the first one to test the fit and left off the collar. The fit is a little snug across the back so I added about 3/4" to the next one (currently under construction) . I also lowered the front darts slightly tho' you can't tell they are high here due to the busy print.

The arm holes are touch tight so I added a quick-and-dirty (pronounced 'lazy' vent and lowered them in the next version.

In this photo I missed the neckline but the shirt was in the washer when I realized.
 The back neckline was a little high and pressed uncomfortable against the back of my neck.

Back neck.
 Adding the 3/4" may help that for the next one but I scooped out a bit to make this one wearable.

Gape prevention.
 I interfaced the facings but that made the front a little stiff, so I added a 'secret' button to keep things together. I picked this trick up from Jane (an "of course!" moment) so I have now totally justified my blog reading.
Wow! Now that I've written this it all down, that 'simple' blouse was a bit more complicated than I first thougth.
Cropped Renfrew.
 I've made the Sewaholic Renfrew many times. This time I cut if off just below the waist, raised the neckline, and widened the bottom band. I didn't pull the neckband tight enough so it has a bit of a ripple and the fit is a little tighter than I prefer, but it is a good experiment.

 I am mostly happy with the fit of the Oakridge tho' I'm wondering if I should have gone one size smaller. It is a little bit wide in the shoulders.

Facing sticking out on the left side. I should be more careful when getting dressed.
 I added facings as I have not had good luck with bias tape. This is somewhat full in the back. Maybe I'll take the 3/4 inch I added to the Edith out of the back of this one.

 It also might look different out of a drapier fabric. This cotton is a bit stiff and may soften up after it is washed a few times.

The print is of skeleton keys and the buttons were in my stash. I think I got them from an estate sale a few years ago.
 Sewaholic Belcarra I made last year as summer's last gasp. I like it a lot and will make more. Like the Oakridge I'm going to take about 3/4" out of the back as it gapes a bit.

And a gratuitious shot of my tomatoes which were newly planted last time I posted. The whole garden is growing like mad, in spite of the gloomy weather we've been having. The huge rain we had last night, almost an inch, will definitely keep things growing.