Monthly Archives: August 2016

Popover Tunic

This pullover tunic was fast and easy. The stunning border print makes it special. It’s been washed twice, but still retains it’s crispness. It’s cool and comfortable.

The tunic has no darts or other shaping. It’s just a simple back and v neck front. The sleeves were borrowed from a pattern and modified to fit. The neck band and sleeve casings (yes, there’s elastic in the brown bands at the end of the sleeves) are brown bias tape. I used the same bias tape to topstitch a casing for elastic on the inside of the tunic. I positioned the casing low, so when I pull it up to make the top pouf out, the casing is still below my waist for a dropped waist look. The hem is the border print, so I just turned the selvage up twice, about 1/2″, then topstitched it with brown thread.

Yes, I am wearing it over brown shorts in the photos!

Popover Tunic Front

Popover Tunic Front

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Popover tunic back view

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Popover tunic on the hanger

Tag for Border Print

Tag for Border Print

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Little French Jacket

What was I thinking?

I was thinking – this will be cool and fun! A better question is — why did I think that??

Vogue 8804

Vogue 8804

I bought the Claire Schaffer Vogue 8804 Chanel inspired jacket pattern awhile ago. Not because I planned to make it, but because I wanted to see the techniques she used. I knew Claire was fond of hand sewing. I knew her instructions included a lot of hand sewing and many hours of work. I planned to read her instructions, study the methods just for the sake of learning, and maybe adapt an idea or two, for other projects and for use on a sewing machine.

The pattern arrived. I read the instructions. I searched my Threads magazine archive for any articles related to Chanel inspired jackets. Turning to the internet, I found some V8804 sew-alongs, and read some blogs. And then I put it all to one side, in favor of easier projects.

I bought some boucle, planning to make a jacket, I but I had no specific pattern  in mind. I used the boucle for a dress.

Next, I found some black and white tweed. It sort-of resembled a Chanel jacket I spotted on Ebay. And it was inexpensive. I bought the tweed, then tackled a tough decision. Which pattern to use, and if I chose V8804, just how much hand work did I want to do? Well, part of the answer was super easy. I wanted to do as little hand work as possible!

The shell front & back are sewn to the separate side piece, raw edges finished with a serger

The shell front & back are sewn to the separate side piece, raw edges finished with a serger

I almost chose a different pattern. In the end, I took up the V8804 challenge, except I planned to do as much as possible by machine.

Boucle, tweed and suitings tends to unravel when cut. I’ve had projects go badly awry when cut pieces simply unraveled into a tangle of loose threads as I sewed. This tweed didn’t seem too bad. But, the instructions call for quilting the pieces to the lining, and that means extra handling and more chances of unraveling.  I used tape to keep the edges of the tweed under control, and finished raw edges with the serger.

Tag for the lining

Tag for the lining

My goal is always to use my stash, so that’s where I turned for lining. I settled on a polyester charmeuse from Fabric Mart. The tissue thin, slippery fabric made a difficult job even harder. Worse still, this particular fabric shrivels quickly under heat. I will have to wash this jacket in cool water and let it dry flat, not in the dryer.

Trim and button choices

Trim and button choices

I had to choose trim and buttons. I couldn’t find very many choices in black and white trim, so it wasn’t hard to settle on the 1/2″ black and white gimp. The buttons were a tougher choice. My three finalists were brushed nickel, beaded plastic, and glass basketweave. I chose the beaded buttons, the center button in the photo.

Two unique features about this jacket are a three piece sleeve and a separate side insert. The front and back pieces do not touch at the side, instead they are connected with an insert. The cool thing is this insert makes the jacket 3D!

Knife edge pillow. If you took out the stuffing, the pillow would be flat

Think about pillows.  A knife-edge pillowcase is made by sewing a front to a back – just like any ordinary bodice or jacket. A box pillowcase has a separate piece inserted between the front and back. When the pillow stuffing is removed, a knife edge pillowcase lays flat. The box pillowcase will be limp, but still retain it’s depth and dimensional shape.

Box pillow. Remove the stuffing and the case is still a box shape not flat

Box pillow. Remove the stuffing and the case is still a box shape not flat

Adding the clever side insert to the jacket gives the shape depth, it goes from flat to formed. This is fantastic, because the human body is (normally!!) not flat, but 3D with depth.

I didn’t make up a full mock up. Instead, I pinned pattern pieces together and made my adjustments. I knew this jacket would be a lot of work, making a full mock up adds even more work. I suppose if I had used an expensive wool and a silk lining, the time and effort of constructing a full mock up would be worth it. But for inexpensive polyester tweed and lining I felt a pin fit with the pattern was enough.

Sewing the shell pieces together, was easy, even with the extra step of serge finishing the edges. Quilting the shell to the lining was easy, too. I traced the quilting lines from the pattern onto the jacket shell with chalk. I sewed them on the machine with a 3mm stitch and ordinary black thread.

Inside of Jacket

Inside of Jacket

Sewing the lining front and back to the lining side piece was the first tricky step. The instructions are to do it by hand. I wanted to use the machine. I think I may have invented my own seam finish. I folded the raw lining edges together, pinched up an edge, and sewed the lining along the edge. It looks sort of like the inside of a French seam, a little folded pocket and stitches.

The next steps were hard. It felt like I was doing everything in an unnecessarily difficult way. The raw edge all around the jacket – along the front, hem and neck, was turned under. A layer of petersham – NOT grosgrain – ribbon went down all along those same edges. The gimp went on top of the ribbon. Finally, the edge of the lining was turned under and stitched.

petersham vs grosgrain ribbons

petersham vs grosgrain ribbons

Petersham vs Grosgrain

Petersham base for gimp trim

Petersham base for gimp trim

: They look almost alike. But if you look very closely at the edge, you’ll see a difference. Grosgrain

has a a stiff thread along each edge. Petersham has loops. The loops give petersham flexibility. A strip of petersham ribbon can easily be shaped to follow a curve or even make a circle and still lay flat. Grosgrain can’t go around curves without puckering or buckling up. Grosgrain is readily available in craft and sewing supply stores in a wide range of sizes and colors, even prints. Petersham is harder to find and comes in mostly black and white. Petersham is what you want for this. If you can not get petersham, I’d choose a narrow bias tape over grosgrain.

Now here’s where things started to go really, really wrong. The instructions have you installing the buttonholes very early on. There’s one buttonhole in the shell and a separate buttonhole in the lining.  I used black top stitch thread in my machine to make the buttonholes. I also shortened the stitch length a very tiny bit.

I could not understand the instructions for making the faux bound buttonholes in the lining. Just. Could. Not. I gave up and made Spanish Snap type buttonholes. These are basically a small piece of bias sewn to the fabric in a tiny pointed oval. The center of the oval is snipped, the bias bit is pushed through the hole to the back, and held in place with topstitching around the opening.

The Sleeves

The Sleeves

Anyway, I finally reached this step. The shell and lining were complete except

for the chain weight, sleeves and buttons. Then I made a very bad decision, that I will blame on a bottle of very good cabernet blanc. I decided to open the buttonholes. And I screwed them up!!!

In frustration I turned to the unique three piece sleeve, and once again I was impressed. Instead of two pieces of fabric forced into a tube shape, the three piece sleeve actually forms a real tube. I made the sleeves the same way I made the jacket, by assembling the shell by machine and finishing edges with the serger, quilting the shell to the lining with the machine following chalk marks, and finally folding, tucking, and sewing the lining together.

I made machine buttonholes in the vent. I sewed the hem for the shell, applied petersham, then gimp, and finally tucked under the lining and sewed it in place.

The chain weight enclosed in a bias tube

The chain weight enclosed in a bias tube

The pattern uses a traditional tailoring method to insert the sleeves, that is, shaping the sleeve cap with steam. I’m sure this works great with wool. But, my shell is polyester, and the lining is heat-sensitive polyester. Nothing is getting steamed here. I used a gathering stitch to ease the sleeve cap into the armhole.

Almost done! All I had to add was the chain. Oh, yeah, and I had to fix my messed up buttonholes.

I know from decades of sewing belly dance costumes that it’s difficult to sew chain onto fabric. Sometimes the metal is so rough it quickly wears the thread away. Other times, the slender thread manages to find the opening in each link and slip out, to prevent this, you must take at least two stitches per link. It isn’t always necessary to sew every link, but, you can’t skip too many links, either. And the only way to do it on a machine is free motion, and that requires a lot of practice. My solution was to stitch a bias tube to the lining and thread the chain through the tube. Of course the chain is not visible, and half the reason for putting the chain there is so you can see it. But, I was tired of working on this long, long project. The bias tube was

Me in one of my favorite dance costumes, taken around 2004

Me in one of my favorite dance costumes, taken around 2004

quick and simple. Once the chain was through the tube, I secured the chain and tube together with a few hand stitches at each end.

The chain is supposed to provide weight and help the jacket keep it’s shape. I have to say I really don’t see a difference in the jacket with or without the chain. But, perhaps over time, the chain will help in some way.

Now it’s time to fix my buttonhole mistake. Because both lining and shell were ripped up, I was able to access the back of the shell through the torn lining. I sewed small bias shaped patches around each buttonhole. I applied a patch on the inside of the jacket, covering the ripped up lining. I remade each buttonhole with the machine, this time both layers, shell and lining, are sewn together in a single buttonhole.

The last step was sewing on the beaded shank buttons. The buttons and securing the chain were the only steps I did by hand.

Jacket front view Dress, Lekala 4404

Jacket front view Dress, Lekala 4404

This jacket pattern is a lot of work!! If you want a couture quality jacket, you’re using high quality materials, you don’t mind hand sewing and relish the idea of tackling an ambitious project, this pattern is for you. If you want a great jacket, with maybe less expensive materials, and you relish the idea of tackling an ambitious project, this pattern might be for you, if you replace some of the hand stitching with machine work. If you want a quick, afternoon project, choose a different pattern!

Jacket, Front view Pants Style Arc Elle

Jacket, Front view Pants Style Arc Elle

I probably will never make this pattern according to the couture instructions. Hand sewing just isn’t for me. I love the side inserts and three piece sleeves. I like the effect of quilting the lining to the shell. So far the chain seems useless. I think if I can streamline the process of finishing and trimming the neck, center front and hem I might experiment with this pattern again. I most likely will borrow the three piece sleeve for other projects. I plan to use the quilted lining technique on my next boucle project.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fun Floral Knit Top

A sheer, chiffon Nichoals top for 385 inspired my floral sweater knit top. The designer top is lovely but SHEER! Way too sheer for me. Instead of chiffon, I picked a light sweater knit.

Designer - Nicholas Price- $385

Designer – Nicholas Price- $385

The inspiration top features decorative trim along the princess seam lines. As if the sheer chiffon did expose enough, the decorative trim is open cutwork.

Aside from the ephemeral sheerness, the inspiration top has some lovely style lines. The princess seam from the shoulder is slimming. The sleeve ends in a delicate double flute. The upper flute looks like it might be from a border print or matching print. A decorative band accents the flutes. Tiny ruffles edge the neck.

I had a piece of black open cutwork trim that I knew would look nice along the from-the-shoulder princess seams. I thought about lining the open trim with flesh colored mesh. Then I stumbled across an old scrap of fabric. The odd, not pink, not red, not brown color of the polished quilting cotton blended wonderfully with the roses on the sweater knit. So I cut strips of bias from the quilting cotton, and used them behind the openwork on the decorative trim.

The biggest obstacle proved to be finding a basic princess seam from the shoulder top. There were none in my stash. There were none on the commercial Big 4 sites. There were none on the smaller, independent companies sites or the overseas downloadable pattern sites. I did find a LOT of coats and jackets with a from the shoulder princess seam, but no tops or dresses.

Finally, I decided to start with a from the shoulder princess seam jacket pattern already in my stash.

Here is the Princess seam from the shoulder line, open at the top and bottom of the seam

Here is the Princess seam from the shoulder line, open at the top and bottom of the seam

The next problem was a pattern for the flute sleeves. My stash offered up caftan sleeves that should work.

But, I just didn’t have enough fabric to cut double flute sleeves. Back to the stash. This time I discovered a vintage pattern with different flounces on a short sleeve. So I switched to the vintage sleeve, with a double flounce. The inspiration sleeve is full length, mine is only 3/4.

The vintage pattern showed a plain short sleeve, and three different flounce options (but it did not show multiple flounces). I picked two of the flounces to imitate the double flute sleeve on the inspiration top. The under flounce is a semi-circle. The upper flounce is shaped and comes to a point at the elbow, exposing the under flounce.

The sleeve, both flounces, and the trim

The sleeve, both flounces, and the trim

I assembled the sleeves first, just to see how they would turn out.

I finished the hem of the sleeve flounces on the serger with a version of faux piping. I was too lazy to remove the right needle, so I used four threads instead of the three normally used for faux piping.

Edge of the Flounce

Edge of the Flounce

I used ordinary Maxi-lock thread in the needles, and black wooly nylon in the loopers. I reduced the stitch length to slightly less than 1. I tried hard to NOT stretch the edge into a lettuce leaf. I wanted a bit of flare, but not ruffles.

The trim is in place

The trim is in place

Next I basted the princess seams together along the front and back. I pinned the shoulder and side seams along the stitching lines. Then, I tried it on, expecting it to be a touch too big because it was loosely based on a jacket pattern. I was right. I took all the seams in just a touch, and it fit well.

The Finished Top - except for ribbon rose trim at the flounce

The Finished Top – except for ribbon rose trim at the flounce

The strip of quilting cotton I used behind my cutwork trim covered the garment seam. I sewed the front and back princess seams with the serger. Then, I topstitched the trim over the front princess seam lines.

Finally, I sewed the side seams with a serger, then inserted my pre-assembled sleeves.

Now, I had to decide what to do about the neck and the hem. Originally I thought I’d make a neck band and a small rolled hem. But, as I looked at the almost finished top, I realized the cutwork sections were really bulky. The cutwork trim was stiff, it was backed with quilting cotton, and layered over the top. I wasn’t sure a rolled hem would work!

The Final Touch - Ribbon Flowers

The Final Touch – Ribbon Flowers

I realized the finish I used on the sleeve hems didn’t require turning the edge under. I simply serged along the final edge over a single layer of fabric. The test run over a scrap of the trim came out beautiful, so I that’s how I finished the hem.

Finally, I decided to finish the neckline the same way. I worried that it might be tugged out of shape, so I reinforced it with a slim strip of fusible interfacing before edge stitching with the faux piping.

The Fabric Mart Sticky Tag

The Fabric Mart Sticky Tag

Still, it was missing something. It needed a touch of something on the sleeve. The inspiration garment had a band of cutwork just above the elbow where the upper flute started. I didn’t have enough trim for that. I tried a bow, then a piece of lace, and last, a tiny ribbon flower. The ribbon flower was just a touch too small by itself, and I had only 2 dark red ones, so I added a black one on each side.

Finished top back view

Finished top back view

Finished top front view Pants Style Arc Elle

Finished top front view Pants Style Arc Elle

 

 

 

 

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Pattern Review Butterick 6134

This pattern is intended to be a woven or firm knit zip up the back top. I changed it into a zip up the front activewear jacket.

Butterick 6134 in metallic activewear from Fabric Mart

Butterick 6134 in metallic activewear from Fabric Mart

This pattern had the design lines I was looking for in a jacket; raglan sleeves, princess seaming and a funnel neck.

My starting point was view D, because that view had long sleeves, a front seam and an open neck. I omitted the little vents at the bottom and moved the zipper from back to front.

I chose a bright turquoise and metallic silver active wear print from Fabric Mart. The fabric doesn’t like heat, making it difficult to press. I didn’t get a photo of the sticky tag, or for that matter, any photos of this jacket as a work in progress.

I chose a white zipper with silver metal teeth and a decorative pull, and inserted it exposed. The major assembly seams, princess, side, underarm and raglan shoulder, were sewn directly on the serger. The other seams were first sewn with a zigzag stitch. Then the jacket was tried on and any needed adjustments were made before the seams were “finalized” with the serger. I used a sliver metallic thread and a decorative stitch for topstitching around the neck, along each side of the zipper and around the hem.

The pattern itself is pretty easy. The only potentially tricky part is around the funnel neck. I’d make it again, as a kit top or jacket. I’m sure this pattern would look lovely in a woven fabric, but I suggest testing for fit before cutting your fabric.

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Silk Jersey Tunic

This soft, luxurious tunic is a simplifieOff kilter fabricd version of Hot Patterns Riviera T-Shit.

I started off with some wonderful silk jersey from Fabric Mart. This piece was “As Is” because the print is wonky and off grain. The photo shows both cut edges. One cut edge is slightly askew, the other is crazy! The stripes in between wobble about. I knew I’d never be able to straighten it out enough to get the stripes going horizontally. The Riviera T is cut on the bias, so I decided to try that.

I love the piecework on the pattern, but I didn’t want to piece or contrast this particular top. I wanted to keep the lines as simple as possible so the soft silk could speak for itself. So I taped the separate pattern pieces together, creating a front, a back and a sleeve.

Grainline is off biasI was able to cut the sleeves with the stripes even enough. But no matter what I did, the stripes on the remaining sections were too wonky even for a 45 degree bias! Finally, in frustration, I tipped the grainline about 5 degrees. I placed one end of the grainlin20160518_153649e arrow on a green stripe, and tipped it enough so that the other end landed on a black stripe.

I couldn’t decide how to cut the neck band. So I ended up not using a neckband at all. Instead, I stay stitched close to the edge, folded under twice and topstitched.

When it’s all said and done, the top looks great! NO ONE has been able to tell that the fabric was printed off grain. And it’s pure silk — pure luxury.

Silk Tunic with Skort

Silk Tunic with Skort

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Cafe Time!

Where did summer go? Between road trip vacations, sailing, yard work, county and state fairs and family gatherings left little time for sewing. And much of that time was gobbled up by my attempt at the Vogue Little French Jacket pattern. But that’s a story for another post..

Peach Raspberry Almond Pie

Peach Raspberry Almond Pie

So, here’s what I planned to enter in the fairs this year. Peach melba almond pie! I baked it in a cast iron skillet for a family event. But fair rules are very strict about presentation, it will have to go into a regular pie pan for that. And it will have to go next year, too. It took several tries for me to get the filling to gel, it kept coming out soupy. And I had a schedule conflict with the fair dates. So, next year!

Made with Ohio peaches and raspberries.

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Simplicity 1613 Review

Pattern Review Simplicity 1613

Collection of knit tops with short or elbow sleeves or sleeveless and different necklines

Collection of knit tops with short or elbow sleeves or sleeveless and different necklines

 

The interesting twist neckline drew me to this pattern. The off-the-shoulder looks are nice, too. I made it for a long weekend in the West Virginia mountains.

It may not be apparent from the photos on the pattern cover, but this top fits quite snugly through the torso. Unfortunately, snug knit torsos make me look like a sausage!! I’m glad I measured the actual pattern pieces before cutting them out. The front and back bodice pieces have a distinct hourglass shape. I don’t have an hourglass shape. I ended up adding a couple of inches to the waist, just enough to skim my torso without clinging snugly.

I used leftover pink activewear knit, originally from Fabric Mart. My piece is suitable for bottom wear, and has a bit of body and firmness to it. The pieces that gather up to wrap around the collar are doubled up (bodice front + facing), adding extra bulk. My fabric  didn’t really want to gather up gracefully, that was a bit of a struggle. I think a lighter weight activewear, or jersey or ITY would work better with this neckline on this pattern. I think the medium weight that I used would be perfect for the off the shoulder looks.

The facings are a little different, both front and back extend from the neck almost to the waist. I’m not sure why the back facing is huge. If you like going braless, you probably have realized that thinner knits can let a little “too much” show through. The large front facing completely covers the chest, so even a thin knit should be opaque enough to wear braless.

The double layer of medium weight knit makes my version a little bit warm for hot summer weather, but I know I’ll wear it often when the weather turns cool.

Simplicity 1613 and embroidered skort

Simplicity 1613 and embroidered skort

Simplicity 1613

Simplicity 1613

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