Sunday, April 19, 2015

Bruyere Blouse and Briare Slip

I have accomplished some sewing towards my 'hot days' wardrobe, which is alarmingly scanty this year.

The blouse is the Bruyere by Deer and Doe. It is the first pattern i've used by this company and the fit is quite nice on my figure. I added 1" of length to the bodice and made no other changes. I like the fit, i like the design, i like the idea of drafting to remove the waistband and trying different hems, even lengthening the whole shebang into a dress. Not to mention the possibilities of sleeves! The Bruyere very well could end up a being a TNT for me ("tried and true" pattern). 

I chose a linen/rayon fabric and embellished it using the same Alabama Chanin inspired technique which i used on the Riding Peplum. For this blouse i used the Paisley stencil.

Underneath is my first go at a Tina Givens design, the freebee Briare slip. Many ladies have commented on the voluminous drafting on Tina Givens's patterns, and some have compensated for this in various ways (such as substituting another bodice like the Sorbetto as twotoast has done here). But i wanted to try something different, thus i made this one up as drafted in a very airy cotton voile.

The neckline and armholes both are nicely modest. I really love the huge sweep of the hem, and this slip works beautifully with a lot of pieces i already have in my wardrobe which surprised me. 

I am now on the lookout for fabric i can use to make up some more of Ms. Givens' designs as they are not only fun to sew and wear but also very practical for the hot days in this area. They do require a lot of fabric so i am glad i sewed up a freebee using less expensive material on my first go. I'll feel more confident shelling out some real dough next time.

Did i say this voile was very very sheer? It is indeed! I will need to wear a slip under this slip to wear it as a dress!

This winter has been nasty with various colds and flus around here. I got a bug about three weeks ago which devolved into a sinus infection...thankfully i'm on antibiotics which are helping. I appreciated the ease of construction of the Briare slip, as my mental capacity was and is on the low end due to all this infection and it was a treat to be able to do something besides moaning around the house.

For anyone interested in these lagenlook designs, head on over to Stitcher's Guild Forum and check out the Lagelook Sewalongs which Garden Girl (Rene) is hosting. I made the Briare Slip as part of one of these sewalongs, it is great motivation and the members a tremendous source of knowledge. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Bride of Frankenpattern

Frankenpattern: "To pattern using multiple styles and mis-matched pattern pieces. The end result is a combination of the garments that leaves the patternmaker horrified as to how it was put together, but usually no one else knows that from the end result. (phew!)"

Yes, dear reader, i too have fallen prey to this internet fad! Actually, i have been all about frankenpatterning since before the internet was a gleam in Jacques Vallee's sleepy French eyes. Sometimes, whilst working over a long period of time with various shapes, one is struck with inspo as to a different way to 'solve the puzzle', as it were.  Conversely, one may incur a yen for a particular garment and whilst ruminating realize that various pieces already in one's possession may combine to produce an item damn close to the desired result.

Frankly i forget which way this one came about...however from the moment i saw my beloved Beatrice dress (Marcy Tilton's best selling Vogue 8876) i knew i would love a skirt with a similar vibe. I also knew it would be difficult if not impossible to pull off, given the amount of ease at the waist. You either take out a lot of fabric and lose the line, or place a metric ton of gathers/pleats/combo of both at the waist and lose the graceful line.

Which is why the Beatrice is a dress, not a skirt.

I've also really enjoyed my version of Hot Pattern's Lantern Skirt. I made it a couple of years ago in natural linen; it is incredibly useful, comfortable, mixable and provides an awesome line with which to work while creating outfits. When i saw this gorgeous olive drab linen at Stone Mountain and Daughters i snapped some up with another lantern-type skirt in mind.

The Bride of Frankenpattern skirt combines three patterns from three different designers. Starting from the top: Waistband and pockets by Mari Miller of Seamster Designs Honeydew Skirt; skirt front and back pieces by Trudy of Hot Pattern's HP1178 Weekender Chameleon Dress; hem bands by Marcy Tilton of Vogue Patterns V8876 "The Beatrice Dress". In the process of making this skirt i altered each of these pattern pieces ( the skirt pieces pretty significantly), but they provided a great starting point. 

I'm especially taken with the 'magic lantern' shape i made at the back of the skirt, it's kind of squarish with the corners rounded off which adds a nice dimensionality to the skirt as seen from the side. Next version of this idea will exaggerate this effect. I'll also lessen the hi-lo differential from front to back. And stabilize the side seams where the pockets insert - i skipped this step and they bag out like crazy!

I'll take this occasion to announce i've acquired another scarf! Always a banner day in my closet, as i wear scarves just about every day of the year yet am chronically short of them. This beauty is china silk with a black/inky blue/inky violet design over cream, found at A Verb For Keeping Warm. Mr. E put his hand on this roll of fabric, there was one and one quarter yards left - a perfect square. I took it home, washed it in hot water and olive oil castille, trimmed the selvedges and along the straight of grain, starched the hell out of the edges and stitched two lines in from the edges. Scarf!

Anyone anywhere near the SF Bay Area should drop into a verb.  The space is generous and gorgeous, massive gobs of natural light pour in from the west facing windows. There's a really nice sized work/class space with plenty of classes offered in knitting, dyeing and garment construction. The highlight for me is the huge selection of natural fiber garment-useful yardage from all over the world. Handwoven African cottons, Liberty of London lawn, more Japanese cottons than i have seen in many online shops - all there for ogling and hugging! Notions from London and France (though i didn't see any underpants). Paper patterns from all corners of the USA, France, London, their own house line, and more!

This shop is stellar, i could not be more excited about this new(ish) player on the fibre scene. They even have movie nights! What cold be more fun? 

I have to laugh at myself, though. I never could make sense of the name, and happened to mention my conundrum to an online penpal. He immediately wrote back: "Making clothes is what you do to keep warm." Okaaaaay - well, put it that way it's utterly obvious! Sometimes when we get too close to things we lose our perspective. 

Happy Saturday!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Rose Strewn Riding Peplum

As soon as i became aware of Natalie Chanin's wonderful stencil and applique technique, i knew how i wanted to use it in my own wardrobe. I saw low contrast, neutral-toned stencils and stitching on single layer linen.

I'd say the droopy eyes are due to lack of coffee - but i'm a tea drinker!

Here is my first attempt. I loved the Riding Peplum's strong, sweeping lines. At the same time, the pattern pieces are big and simple, a great canvas for showcasing fabric embellishment.

I used Alabama Chanin's Rose Placement Stencil (which i had used previously on a tee) and acrylic fabric paint and medium to create the roses (the stencil can be downloaded from this page - scroll down). Then i started stitching. I stitched about half of the roses right at the edge of the paint, the others i eyeballed a margin of around a quarter inch between the stitching and the paint.

I used those triangular makeup sponges you get at the drugstore to do the stenciling. I like the crumpled effect you get from the edges of the sponges. The project took awhile, but was not onerous.

I really love the way it turned out! As you know, i constantly complain about not being able to find fascinating, low-contrast detailed fabrics. Traditional Alabama Chanin style fabric embellishment, with two layers of cotton jersey, is overly warm for a large part of the year around here. Using this technique i can get the look without having to take salt pills ;)

Yesterday I purchased Deer and Doe's Bruyere Chemise after seeing Seamstress Erin's beautiful chambray version while eating breakfast. I have a length of white linen which i will make up first, and an Alabama Chanin paisley stencil which i cut out months ago but which has yet to be used (link here, scroll down again). I am thrilled to start on such a useful and stunning garment - white linen blouses have been more and more in play in my recent outfits.

I cannot help but play with hemlines. The hems of the Riding Peplum and the jacket balance each other out by moving in two opposite directions, so even though there's a lot going on it's not jarring. The low contrast between the two low-saturation garments keeps things from being too crazy as well. I always enjoy echoing the lantern shape of this hat by wearing a similarly shaped peplum or skirt. As these jeans approach the end of their useful life, i am happy to report that Uniqlo's $40 jeans are a good fit on me. I just need to get my hiney motivated to buy a pair!

I experienced an interesting synchronicity whilst working on this garment, centered around roses. Curious readers can find the story here. Even without reading the synchronicity, it's obvious that i adore roses in clothing and jewelry. Do any of you have similar talismans?

p.s. i don't want to say anything about posting more coming up in case i jinx it! Please help me by pretending you never read this "p.s." - & have a wonderful day!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

I Been Busy! V8876, Cake Pavlova, J. Peterman ReFashion

It's a Dashing Eccentric post jam-packed with fresh weirdness!

Or, rather, all new clothes.

I'll start with the star, my newest version of the Beatrice, Marcy Tilton's nationwide best seller Vogue Pattern 8876. For my third version of this gorgeous and useful design, i added sleeves and left off the hem bands to make a species of frock coat in stretch denim. It came together easily (after all that practice it should) and I love wearing it. I purchased the stretch cotton denim from Stone Mountain and Daughter, it's terrifically comfortable and is wearing well. Marcy Tilton has some very similar denims in beautiful prints for sale right now; i've been mulling over the Havilland for a while now. This frock coat is so easy to wear and so fun i may have to pull the trigger - a duster in the vein of Ivey Abitz would be devastatingly chic.

 As it happens, i'd been eyeing the light colorway of this fabric on Marcy Tilton's website for a couple of weeks when i saw the darker colorway for sale at Stone Mountain almost a year ago. I liked the darker version better for winter/fall so i snapped it up. As much as the internet has cut into brick and mortar sales, this is the third or fourth length of fabric i've purchased at Stone Mountain after seeing a similar style online and having time to gauge it's usefulness in my wardrobe. I do my best to apportion my fabric budget between the various stores which i want to stay in business.

I chose a separating zipper in an antique bronze hard plastic for the closure. I added a large hook and eye just under the bust for another closure option. Not much to say that hasn't been said already about this great design (much of it by me), though here you can see a mind-bogglingly sweet endorsement of this piece if you click through. I'm still seeing sparkles!

I made the polka dot top using Cake's Pavlova Wrap Top pattern. This is my first version of this pattern. What an easy, rewarding, useful make! And this draft works wonderfully for a bigger bust. I cut the rayon/lycra ITY fabric out in size 35 with no alterations, stitched it up (by hand, still sans machine), and bob's your uncle. All the pluses of a wrap top - sleek fit, adapts to changing sizes - with no downside of gaping at the bust. You can wrap this top over or under the bust; here i'm wearing it under and still no gaping. There's plenty of  room to wrap over the bust as well, with even less likelihood of gaping.  I cut the  longer sleeve option at just past the elbow, my fave length. Pavlova offers a shorter sleeve length as well.

I was delighted to see a lengthen/shorten line clearly marked on the pattern. This is a major plus, as figuring out where/how to lengthen this design would be tricky. I have two more lengths of fabric who've been looking for their best pattern and now find themselves in the pipeline to become Pavlovas (one is the rest of the digital print i used for these leggings) .  You can wear the Pavlova alone, over a tank or long sleeved tee. Sweet! I am very happy to have a new TNT for winter wear. Thank you Cake!!

Original MaxiDress
Underneath it all i'm wearing a black silk slipdress - oohlala! It started out as a maxi dress from J. Peterman, via my fairy godmother (next door neighbor who volunteers at a charity consignment shop and sends goodies my way). The bottom 3-4" at the back hem were kind of chewed up, so i knew i wanted to hem that away. I also wanted to change the fit through the torso. The original looks okay from the front, but from the side view all that shockingly abrupt ballooning around the bazooms did not create the elegant line i covet. I removed the band, took a couple of small darts under the bust, and gathered in the skirts to the bodice. This created a bit of shaping without too much trouble and allowed me to keep the pockets (yay).

The following picture shows the hand stitching better than this one does
The original dress bodice had wide facings with an acetate lining. I prefer the feel and drape of silk, so i removed the lining and hand stitched the facings through to the right side of the dress using contrasting topstitching thread. Luxurious to wear and a great look.

Hand stitching nicely captured
I originally changed the hem to get the effect of an Ivey Abitz frock, but the overall silhouette wasn't working. I would need more fitting through the torso to balance out all that weight and commotion, and it would be a huge amount of work to change the silhouette if it were even possible. I knew i would like to be able to wear this piece as a slip, so i just hemmed the dress to echo the shape of the V8876/Beatrice dress i made in black and white linen, just an inch or so longer, and loved the result.

Whew! the needles have been flying! I've not got much done the last couple of weeks, as DH and i got down to brass tacks and bought a new car. We've had our Scion XA for ten years now so it was time. Our new car is an automatic transmission and driving it is so much easier on my leg!

The weather has turned cool as well, so i am busy re-making a distressed cashmere cardigan into elbow length fingerless gloves. Over at Acorn Cottage Indigo Tiger is tackling an entire 6PAC designed to keep a girl warm - scrumptious!  Is your wardrobe ready for winter?

Friday, November 7, 2014

Make Your Own Three Tier Skirt

I received some interest from Shelley regarding how to make this skirt. I made it without using a pattern, but it's super easy. So i wrote up some notes and made a video. I hope it's useful enough for any interested parties with some sewing experience under their belt to whip up one of these skirts on their own.

To recap on the general construction steps: I first would cut out the inner skirt/tube and the tiers. Then i would mark the placement of the two top tiers while the inner skirt is still flat. (The bottom tier is placed right along the hem so no marking is needed.) Next sew up the center back seam, and finish the hem and the waistband.

ON EDIT: i realized i haven't addressed the issue of 'how big around do you want the inner skirt to be". In the end it depends on how much ease you want. If you're using an elastic waistband, you need the skirt to go over the widest part of your hips. You will also need ease for when you sit and move - more for a woven fabric and less for stretch. If you're using a stretch with 5% or more lycra you may want your finished circumference to just be the same as the widest part of your hips plus an inch or two.

For woven, non-stretch fabrics you will need more. My hips measure around 37", the finished circumference of this inner skirt is 43" at the hem (the darts at the waist take out a couple of inches). That is 6" ease. If you are a lot smaller around you may want less ease, much bigger or taller and you may want more. My ease of 6" is 16% of my hip measurement of 37" so try starting out with adding 15% of your hip measurement as ease. Baste up a tube of that circumference in your fabric and try it on to see how you like it. Be sure to try sitting down in your mock-up as some of our hips spread out more than you might expect when we sit. END EDIT

 For the tiers: Sew any seams needed to form the tiers into tubes. Finish the upper edges and finish the hems/apply trim (I used a narrow machine hem of 1/2").  Make your gathering stitches along the upper edges (i find that two lines of stitches about 1/4" are easier to work with. I also recommend that you divide your stitches into at least two halves - so you would have gathering stitches run all along the half of the tier going on the front of the skirt and having thread tails at the beginning and end of that sections. Then start another set of gathering stitches with thread tails beginning and end for the back half instead of trying to adjust your gathers all around the entire skirt in one go. Here's a nice video on the basics of gathering fabric.) Lastly, adjust your gathers and sew on your tiers.

You're done.

A few more bits of information. This skirt hits me below the knee and a bit above mid-calf and i'm five foot five and a half inches - this may help you with your own dimensions. I forgot to mention that i have an overlap between the top of the two bottom tiers and the hem of the tier above - about 3/4". I believe i was shooting for a 1" overlap but my calculations got away from me. I think as long as there isn't a gap you will be okay.

Most importantly - please let me know if you have any questions! And have fun sewing, whatever you make.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Vogue 8932 - Made in Blueberry Fleece

Hi! First, i'm getting over a throat bug and the sinus irritation and dehydration is showing on my squinty, frazzled features. Please ignore my expression, i'm actually quite thrilled with this nice jacket pattern from Vogue and am on the lookout for fabric to make the next version.

I've been fairly productive sewing-wise the last couple of months, making a few warm pieces for the upcoming cooler seasons. Unfortunately for 'wear it now!' me, we've been having nice hot days (85-90F+). Ah well, i will be well prepared when things cool down and i am sure i will enjoy this new sensation.

A couple of members over at the Stitcher's Guild forum hoped i would post some pictures of this jacket when i mentioned how much i liked it, so i thought TDE readers may appreciate taking a look at them as well. I find pictures and reviews of patterns so very helpful in my own sewing that i feel an obligation to do so myself, though i fall short of this ideal.  I pretty much made this pattern up as printed, though i did take in the side seams at the waist and hip. I also sliced in a bit of an extra curve under the bust on the side front pattern seam which abuts the center front pattern piece. I also removed some of the length from the points at the front hem - i just took off about 2" from the 'point' and tapered back up to the side seams so that the hem hits me at a more flattering area.

the flash over-exposed this picture but it shows the piecing and stitching nicely so i include it
Other than that i just knocked it out. The whole garment was sewn by hand with topstitching thread (machine is on the fritz) which accounts for the rippling on the center back pattern piece (i didn't do a great job of controlling the thread tension).  The effect doesn't bother me, in fact it seems to highlight the dramatic piecing so i let it be. This is a lighter weight fleece as well, which i believe also contributed to that rippling, so bear this in mind if you want to make this one up and want to avoid a similar outcome (suggestions: choose a heavier weight, more stable fabric; interface for stability; make up samples to check your thread tension prior to construction).

This fleecey-with-some-style will be useful on it's own when we start getting foggy days, and i'm even happier about the idea of a stylish, easy to mix and match, practical and comfortable jacket pattern to make up for fall and winter.  The collar keeps my neck warm, looks good closed as well as worn open.

I am so wanting to finish up with some witty, edgy statement - but mucous-making-virii have dissolved my brain!!! Instead i'll sign off with a Happy Autumn. Whatever you wear, wear it with conviction!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Blue Beatrice: Another Vogue 8876 Dress by Marcy Tilton

You may remember my rhapsodic post about my first take on this excellent and deservedly popular Marcy Tilton design.  I'm still wearing and loving my first make of this dress, and have been on the lookout for fabric to make into more 'Beatrice' dresses since i finished it.

In early spring, i spotted this gorgeous denim-blue printed linen at Marcy's store and did not hesitate to snap it up. The dress went together quickly, as second go-rounds generally do and as far as i'm concerned linen is just about the easiest fabric to sew. I finished it for my birthday in May, hooray!

That date also gives you an idea of how far behind i am on my blogging - (abashed face emoticon).

I got compliments right off the bat with this dress - one lady at the local grocery store was especially nice and thought it looked so perfect in our first heat wave of the summer.

Obviously this dress is just the best for hot days - sleeveless or with a little cap to protect your shoulders from the sun, the abundant, bell-shaped skirts of the dress catch every breeze and baffle it around a bit before letting it go on it's way, squeezing out every bit of cooling action possible. Who doesn't love practicality along with their edgy femininity!

It's a great piece for fall and winter around here too. Plenty of room for layering tees and leggings underneath, and any waist length or cropped jacket, shrug or sweater works wonderfully. The pattern even has sleeves!  Here in the SF Bay Area this will be a year-round dress.

In case you haven't noticed, i've been adding blue to my well-loved neutrals. It started a couple of years ago when i realized how much i liked denim against black, ivory, and lighter khakis and stones. It's been a smooth process, which really shouldn't be surprising considering how the whole point of neutrals is that they go with everything!

I combined two different buttons on this dress. Tony bought the flat, blue-black ones at Stone Mountain and Daughter a couple of years ago for a shirt fabric he decided not to purchase, and i liberated the grey shell ones from a hand me down Eileen Fisher blouse. I used them first fora  little black jersey blouse in an OOP Butterick design a couple of years ago, but when that blouse died i cut them off and saved them again.  They work beautifully with this fabric.

I love the look of lots of smaller buttons close together, it's one of my favorite trademark closures for blouses and dresses. Using two types of buttons gives a bit of movement to the front of the dress which i like, especially combined with the swirls and motion of the print. I've said it before and i'll say it again - never let a nice button leave your stash!

I usually anchor neck drawstrings with a stitch at center back so they don't fall out or move around during washing or wearing. In this case i thought i'd put a button there in order to disguise the stitching - i picked this one as it's a sleeveless dress.

I hope you all are enjoying your clothing-related activities as much as i am! It's really nice for me, having started this whole 'wardrobe improvement' project back in 2009, all those days later i actually have a closet with a decent amount of new to newish clothing that i enjoy, speaks to my style, and is completely physically comfortable. I even have enough stock to avoid emergency laundry and panic dressing, which happened fairly frequently through most of my life. Trying to avoid these type of events was one of my main motivations in my wardrobe project.

On Father's Day i had an incident which showed me how far i'd come. I'd picked out a nice look for the day (BBQ in the backyard, yum!). It had enough dressy elements so i'd feel stylistically comfortable, good shoes for the look as well as for being outdoors and up and down stairs, just a little skirt and top and coordinating chapeau. At literally three minutes until we would be out the door, as i got ready to wash my hands the liquid soap dispenser went rogue and squirted a line of goo right down the front of my top.

In past years, my wardrobe was so disorganized and skimpy that this would have required a total rethink of my outfit. Panic dressing, as i said.  But thanks to all my clothing obsessed plotting and scheming i simply walked upstairs, chose another top, set the soiled one to soak, and left to enjoy the day in another perfect look.

If you've started your wardrobe journey, but you know you've still got a ways to go and you're getting discouraged, take heart! You can do it! Take a break if you need to, but be sure to get back up and put that nose back to the grindstone because the effort is worth it and you will get where you want to be. And it will be even more fun than you thought it would be!

Have any of you had any 'closet breakthroughs' recently? Let us know if you have!