To Boldly Sew – A Star Trek:TOS Womens Uniform and the Captains Shirt

When Hubby learned that a studio full of recreated sets from Star Trek:TOS was offering tours, I knew we’d be going to visit. And for that, we’d need uniforms.

A genuine Tribble from the actual set and episode

A genuine Tribble from the actual set and episode

My Mini Dress 

The womens dresses on TOS are one piece long sleeved mini-dresses. The outfits worn on the series feature unusual style lines. The bodice is divided into fan and wedge shaped sections, with seams forming a starburst pattern. My vintage Star Trek:TOS pattern is a simple pull over tunic. I wanted something a little more authentic.

It wasn’t hard to find PTN-018, which is an authentic replica of the starburst style mini dresses. I believe it was originally issued by Roddenberry Shop. I purchased my copy from Xscapesprops.com

But before I bought it, I checked Sewing Pattern Review. The reviews of this pattern were pretty bad. So I began searching both vintage and modern dress patterns, from the big commercial companies and small independents, looking for any dress or top with the wedge shapes pieces and starburst seaming. I could find nothing except PTN-018.

If you want the authentic starburst style womens uniform from ST:TOS, this is the only available pattern. But be warned – it’s a terrible pattern!

I was prepared for a challenge. I knew a mock up was vital. It would be foolish to skip this step with this pattern.

Wedge shaped pieces, cut on pleat

Wedge shaped pieces, cut on pleat

I knew I’d use stretch velvet for the actual uniform, so I chose a hippie-style print knit for my mock up. Both have nap, the velvet has the pile nap and the print has a one way design. The velvet came from Fabric Mart about a year ago. I’m not sure where the hippie print came from, I suspect maybe a Fabric Mart bundle.

This pattern is a wasteful fabric hog. If the fabric has nap, nothing can be done about that. Some of the odd shaped pattern pieces must sit on the grain at an awkward angle,

so the fabric will stretch and hang properly. If you are using a good 4 way stretch fabric with no nap and no right or wrong side, you might be able to squeeze pieces closer together to reduce waste, by flipping them upside down or setting them on the crossgrain. I couldn’t do that, and so I ended up with a big pile of scraps from both the mock up and the final uniform.

The instructions apologise for having one pattern piece printed on two separate pieces of paper, requiring you to tape the pieces together. There’s a lot more serious issues here than just taping one pattern piece together.

The Instructions

The Instructions

In theory, it isn’t too hard to put the pattern pieces together. Piece A is sewn to piece B, etc. But the instructions are completely unclear. The crude, hand drawn diagrams showing how the pieces fit together are essential guides.

The neck opening on the mock up turned out stupidly large. As in, 42 inches large. How do you even draft a pattern with a neck opening bigger than the hips??

I “fixed” the problem by taking deep darts along the neck. As I looked at those darts on the inside out mock up, I gradually realized I had actually added a shoulder seam to the design. The downside of this solution is that it raised the waist well above my natural waistline.

This pattern is SHORT!! Yes, I know these uniforms are VERY short on the women in ST:TOS. I made the mock up just an inch or so longer than the pattern. But, I wanted something that covered my bottom and at least part of my thigh, so I added about 6″ to the length of the skirt.

There is no Lengthen Here marking on the pattern. And 6″ is a lot to add in one spot. I picked two spots, and lengthened the skirt 3″ at each spot.

The sleeves were just a little short. I added about 2″ or so for a nice hem on the final uniform.

The instructions suggest sewing both the upper arm seam and the lower arm seam completely, then applying the rank insignia braid. It’s much easier to leave most of the under arm seam unsewn and apply the brain to the flattened sleeve. Then finish sewing the under arm seam and hem the sleeve. I used replica braid from Xscapesprops.com.

On the Bridge

On the Bridge

To apply the braid I used clear thread in the machine and ordinary thread in the bobbin. I used an even zig zag stitch to apply the long braid strip. I used a narrow to wide to narrow zigzag stitch pattern to apply the broken braid sections.

The armhole is high and there’s little ease in the upper arm. I used a very stretchy fabric, so these fitting idiosyncrasies weren’t an issue for me.

The corner of the pleat on the skirt is supposed to be tacked to the closest starburst seam, but it actually ended up in the middle of my belly. The pleat needs to be deeper to reach the nearest seam (it might work better on someone with a flat stomach).

I was surprised the narrow collar was just one piece. It didn’t make sense. Maybe you’re supposed to cut two pieces and seam them together along the long, straight side? But the pattern piece says “Cut 1”, and the instructions don’t say anything about sewing two pieces together. All they do is suggest interfacing the collar if it’s too soft.

I made the collar about 3/4 inch deeper, and placed that long straight side on a fold. I cut the short ends and shaped long side. I applied the folded collar to the neck edge with my serger.

I omitted the zipper. My fabric is stretchy enough to pull the dress on and off.

The zipper instructions didn’t make any sense. If I were to make this costume again, in a fabric that required a zipper, I’d ignore the instructions completely and put an invisible zipper into one of the side seams.

In the end I am happy with my uniform. But it was a long struggle to get this pattern to that point. Unfortunately, I could not find any other patterns, and didn’t want to draft my own, so using this pattern as a starting point was the only solution.

The Captains Shirt

Captain and Friends

Captain and Friends

Hubby’s costume was much, much easier. The mens uniform shirts are just raglan sleeve pullovers with a slightly modified V-neck. I have several raglan sleeve pullovers in my size, but none that would fit him. Instead of messing around grading one of my patterns, I picked up Simplicity 1605 and cut a L-XL.

I used a gold stretch velvet from Spandex World, and black polyester ribbing from my stash. The pattern was simple, but I mismeasured the neck band. So, as a quick fix, I took a tuck in the neck band on each side at the shoulder seam. I have plenty of ribbing, so I plan to replace the neckband before he wears it again.

Simplicity 1605 is a nice raglan sleeve pullover and pajama pants or shorts pattern. I didn’t look at the instructions until I decided to review the pattern, because I didn’t think I could write a complete review without looking at them. They were correct, concise and clear. They explained how to sew the seams on an ordinary straight stitch machine, a zigzag stitch machine and a serger.

The pattern pieces fit together perfectly. The notches matched up and the shirt fit. This is a good pattern for beginners. The top is a great basic piece that can be made up in short or long sleeves, in one solid color or color blocked For more advanced sewists who want to play with a raglan sleeve  design, this pattern is a nice starting point.

 

 

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Sewing a Sweater : FabricMart 2016 Sew Along

Well, I was not picked to participate in this years Fabricista contest sponsored by Fabric Mart. But, I can still sew along!

Sweater knit and pattern

Sweater knit and pattern

The challenge was to make a sweater knit garment. The participants were given three yards of abstract print sweater knit. The rest of us in the sew-along were on our own!

I dug through my stash and found several possibilities. One was a red-pink leftover, I thought about combining it with black denim (the rules don’t specifically exclude other fabrics, and I’m just sewing along so I can bend and even break rules).  I still may do this, maybe in a jeans style jacket.

In the end, I chose a black and heathered teal stripe polyester sweater knit from Fabric Mart. The contestants got three yards, but I had only two.

Sewing Tip: Not all knits are the same! Most patterns made for knits have a stretch chart printed on the pattern envelope. The pattern is sized for knits with that amount of stretch. If your knit is not as stretchy, the finished garment may be hard to get on or off, or maybe not fit at all. You can use knits that stretch more, but not less, than the amount the pattern needs.

I like the collar from McCall’s 6796 . I extended the bodice to tunic length. I also lengthened the sleeves. Some designers are showing very long, ruched sleeves on sweaters this fall, so that’s what I did with my sleeves.

Then I was left with one final, difficult choice. Which buttons to use? I found several possibilities in my button box, and settled on some plastic copper-ish colored  shank buttons featuring a smooth dome wrapped with a rope.

Extended sleeves, one ruched, the other not yet

Extended sleeves, one ruched, the other not yet

Sewing Tip: Gravity Rules. Knits are stretchy! Soft, stretchy, drippy knits can slide out of shape when you’re pinning the pattern on them. When cutting knits on a table, it’s important to keep ALL the fabric on the table. If the knit is allowed to drape off the edge, it will begin to stretch, pulling and distorting the rest of the fabric under the pattern pieces. The end result is badly cut, possibly misshapen and maybe unusable pieces. Keep all the fabric on the same level to prevent distortion.

I vacuumed the hallway carpet before moving my cutting mat and fabric onto the floor. I used the floor because all the fabric is on the same level. It can’t fall off a table or drape over an edge. Kay-see Cat (aka the Cheshire Cat) loves to lay on fabric and roll on the cutting mat – when everything is on the table. When the cutting mat is on the hallway floor, Kay-see won’t step on it, she tiptoes along the edge against the wall to get past it! Silly cat it’s the same mat!

The pattern is simple, a front and back both cut on folds, a sleeve and a collar. There are no darts. It was easy to cut the single layer collar. It was a little trickier to make sure the stripe ran smoothly all the way across the folded fabric, I used pins to identify which stripe was which.

Buttons, buttons

Buttons, buttons

The main construction steps went fairly quickly. I stay stitched along the front and back neck edges. I sewed the shoulder and side seams directly on the serger. I sewed a strip of narrow satin ribbon into the shoulder seam to stabilize it and keep it from stretching. I sewed the sleeve seams on the serger. I sewed quite slowly, making sure the stripes matched along the side and sleeve seams.

Sewing Tip: Don’t pull on it! Knits sometimes move unevenly under the presser foot. The feed dogs pull the lower layer back away from you while the presser foot pushed the top layer towards you. The top layer creeps down the seam while the bottom layer creeps up. If you’re sewing something like stripes, the stripes won’t line up.  It’s really tempting, especially on a serger, to try to fix this by stretching both layers until they appear even. They might be even, but they will also be distorted. A seam that’s stretched as it’s sewn on a serger will ripple. Use a stabilizer or tissue under the seam or over the seam or both. On a regular machine,  try a special walking foot. Some machines allow you to control the presser foot pressure, if yours does, you can try easing the pressure a bit. On a serger, you might need to adjust the differential feed (see your sergers instruction manual or a serger reference book).

Finished Sweater

Finished Sweater

For the collar, I folded it right sides together, serged the short ends, turned it right side out, and basted the long, raw edges together with a long machine basting stitch.

I’m not sure I love the way the instructions tell you to install the collar, and I’m not sure I love the way I installed the collar, and I’m not sure if the method I used is the method the pattern is describing.  I serged the long raw edge of the collar to the neck edge, on the right side of the bodice. Then I folded the serged hem allowance down against the inside of the bodice. I moved the collar up and out of the way, and topstitched the seam allowance down against the bodice. The stitches blend in with the serged allowance on the inside, and are hidden under the collar on the right side.

The sleeve has a high cap so I used a line of ease stitching to fit it into the armhole. I stitched this seam on the regular machine first, then finished it on my serger.

I love my new sweater! I finished it when the weather was still warm (unusually warm for Ohio). I finally got to wear it in mid-November!

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I won! I won! Sewing a Trench Coat – Fabric Mart 2016 Sew Along

When I saw Round Two of the Fabric Mart Fabricista 2016 was a trench coat, I was not enthusiastic. A trench coat, any coat actually, is a lot of work. I didn’t really need or want another trench coat. And, I had a busy weekend planned.

Front of the Trench coat

Front of the Trench coat

Research was the first step. Trench coats started off as practical, utilitarian clothing, not as a fashion statement. The contest rules included a link to the Wikipedia entry for Trench Coats, but I found the Gentleman’s Gazette guide to Trench coats much more informative and entertaining https://www.gentlemansgazette.com/trench-coat-guide/   Many features of a traditional trench coat serve (or served) a purpose. The rifle flap kept a soldiers gun dry, the back flap provided rain protection for his back pack. The D-rings held canteens (or according to some sources, hand grenades). The deep collar could be turned up against the weather. Pockets covered with a flap provided water proof storage. IWrist straps pulled the sleeve hem close to the wrist, to keep rain from dripping in when a soldier raised his arms (this was before the invention of the ribbed cuff). Epaulets held rank insignia.

My pattern stash offered nothing suitable for a trench. So I turned to my favorite pattern download site, Lekala, where I found a classic trench coat pattern # 5488, called Double Breasted Raincoat.

Who says downloaded patterns are instant satisfaction?? My printer seldom has a decent cartridge. I like to send my stuff to the local FedEx-Kinkos to print. They usually have it done the same day, and they are open 24-7. But, I still have to drive over and pick it up.  Then the pages must be taped together, and, finally, the pattern pieces must be cut out. That’s not my definition of instant!

On the plus side, Lekala patterns are customized to your measurements. When you’re in between or crossover sizes the way I do, this eliminates a lot of time consuming tweaking for fit.

As my downloaded pattern file went off to Fed-Ex Kinkos, I dug down into my fabric stash. I had some nice water resistant and repellent pieces, in burgundy, emerald green, and navy blue. The emerald is a sort of double-cloth, with a black lining. I also had some pieces of canvas, including a water-resistant Greek key design in an olive green and gold. But, the solid colors weren’t exciting and the Greek key canvas was too busy.

The bolt for the fabric

The bolt for the fabric

Then, I stumbled across an old bolt of fabric. The label said only “Assorted Wovens”, with price tag of $1.99 per yard.

The fabric itself is a wonderful ivy print. It looks a lot like a Dorothy Draper print I saw in the Trellis Room when I visited the Greenbriar Resort in West Virginia earlier this summer. I knew it would make an exciting and different trench coat. And, when I spilled a little white wine on it, I learned it’s actually quite water resistant. Or at least, white wine resistant.

My limited stash of polyester lining fabric had nothing suitable. I found an army green challis-like rayon that might have worked, but it had the price sticker still attached, and I didn’t want to use $5 yd fabric to line  $1.99 yd  fabric.  I kept searching. I was very close to giving up and using the rayon when I popped open a bin of old sheets. And there, right on top, was a sheet in the perfect color, in perfect condition.

I trekked to Fed-Ex, picked up my pattern and some tape, came home, and made dinner. Afterwards, while watching TV with hubby, I taped the pages together and cut my pattern out.

Back of the coat. The flap matches so well it disappears into the back

Back of the coat. The flap matches so well it disappears into the back

Most Lekala pattern instructions are little more than a brief outline of assembly steps. This coat had almost a full page of instructions, 17 steps. Some steps were quite verbose, yet cryptic. I’m still not sure what the relieve edge is. Throwing caution to the wind, I  set the instructions on the china cabinet and tackled the project my own way.

First, I laid out the pattern pieces matching the bold print as best I could. This time consuming process gobbled up fabric. The back of the coat is three pieces, center, left side, right side, princess seamed. Starting with the center back, I matched the pattern along the princess seams. Then I matched the back flap to the back. The front is also princess seamed, with four pieces. Two center pieces that overlap to make the double breast, a right side and a left side. Ideally, I wanted both center fronts to be exactly the same with the sides matching at the princess seams. But, I didn’t have enough fabric. So the right side front matched one center front piece, the left matched the other. But the center front pieces do not match each other.

The patch pockets match the fabric under them, the pocket flaps are made from the contrasting lining fabric.  The sleeves are two pieces. I wanted to make them so the pattern is mirror image, but it was impossible. The print has a distinct up and down and a clear left and right side. So the pattern runs front to back on one sleeve, and back to front on the other.

Then I cut lining, belt and contrast pieces from the cotton sheet. I omitted the interfacing in the coat itself because the fabric is really stiff on it’s own. The belt is interfaced, because the sheeting was way too soft without it.

Back of the Trench

Back of the Trench

I sewed the back pieces together, the right front to the right center, the left front to the left center, then the shoulder seams. I did the same with the lining. I applied the pockets to the front, then the contrasting pocket flap. I stitched the upper and under back flap together, trimmed the corners, turned it right side out and top stitched it. I basted it into place along the neck.

I made the collar using the print fabric for the under collar and the contrasting lining for the upper collar. I basted the collar to the neckline, over the back flap.

Then, I sewed the lining into the coat, sandwiching the raw edges of the flap and collar between the coat and lining at the neck. I top stitched around the front edge.  Next I added buttons and buttonholes. Usually a double breasted coat has two vertical rows of buttons. One is functional, the other is decorative and provides visual balance. I used only one vertical row of functional buttons.

I assembled the sleeve and sleeve lining pieces. I turned the sleeve right side out, and the sleeve lining inside out. I slipped the lining over the sleeve and trimmed the lining to be a bit shorter than the final sleeve length. Then I slid the lining down the sleeve, so the hem raw edges lined up. I sewed the raw edges together. I slipped the lining off the sleeve, and stuffed it back inside the sleeve. I pulled it up on the inside so the raw edges at the top of the sleeve and sleeve lining lined up. This pulled the lower edge of the sleeve, which was longer than the lining, to the inside of the sleeve, making a hem. I pressed the hem in place, and inserted the sleeve into the coat.

 

D-ring on Pocket Flap

D-ring on Pocket Flap

I had loads of o-rings and split o-rings and even a few square rings in my stash but no D rings. So I went to the hardware store to find some D-rings. As I was picking through the bins, a helpful store associate asked what I was using them for. When I told him they were for a trench coat, he said a lot of artists had been in that week buying hardware bits, and asked if a big art show was coming up. He seemed a little disappointed when I told him it was for an on-line sewing competition.

D-ring as belt loop

D-ring as belt loop

I added the D-rings to the pocket flaps, the collar and the back flap. I also used D-rings for belt loops.

I finished the raw hem edge of the coat and lining on my serger, turned them up and top stitched the hem.

Two features that appear on traditional trench coats that I did not add were epaulets and cuff straps. The slightly strange collar would hide epaulets anyway. I originally planned to add cuff straps in the contrast lining, but I simply ran out of time and energy.

The final step was photos for Facebook. I uploaded my photos just hours before the deadline.

And I won! A rotary cutting tool and two patterns. Yay me!

 

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Silk Shorts – Sewing Pattern Review Sewing Bee 2016

I wasn’t planning to enter the Sewing Pattern Review 2016 Sewing Bee. Until I saw the first contest was woven shorts. Shorts made from woven silk suiting have been sitting on my “to-make” list for most of this summer. I wanted something a little dressier than the knit shorts I normally wear, but still offered the comfort and coverage of shorts. I explored this idea by making a couple of skorts. Now, the Sewing Bee is the Round Tu-It I need to get these silk shorts  made!

Fabric Tag

Fabric Tag

I already had the fabric. I like the Style Arc crotch, and I’ve tweaked the Elle pattern to fit nicely as pants or shorts. But, Elle is designed for stretch wovens! My silk suiting doesn’t stretch. So, I decided to cut the Elle pattern in a larger size, the size I used before tweaking the fit. I can take things in in if necessary.

Fabric, zipper, pattern

Fabric, zipper, pattern

The second problem is the Elle pant is a pull on. SB rules clearly specify no pull-ons, and require a closure. Adding a fly with a cut on extension is not too hard. A quick look in my stash turned up a suitable blue zipper, and I had pants hooks-and-eyes. Thank goodness the rules allow elastic in the waistband, because I’m a big fan of comfortable elastic waistbands.

My silk suiting has some lovely, wavy stripes. The question is, which way should they go? I was planning on horizontal until I actually laid the pattern pieces out. At the last minute I changed my mind and made them vertical. I think it was the right choice.

The stripes wobble a bit making it tricky to get the grain straight

The stripes wobble a bit making it tricky to get the grain straight

Next, I drafted a simple fly shape, onto non-woven, non-fusible interfacing. I shortened the pants to the length I wanted, and added the fly extension to both front pieces.

I’ve worked with similar silk suiting before (a lovely pink!), I know how easily this stuff can ravel. So I serged all the raw edges of each piece as I cut them out.

Waistband

Waistband

I cut two pieces of fly shaped fusible interfacing. I applied the pieces to the cut on fly extensions on the inside of the front pieces. I also interfaced the waistband. After interfacing the band, I stitched the short edges together.

Usually I make pull-ons, and my next step would be side seams. But, stuff like flies are easier to work when the sections can be laid out flat. So I sewed the crotch seam from inseam to the point where the zipper base will sit, then basted the rest of the crotch seam to the waist. Normally I might need to snip at the point where the seam ends and basting begins. But, the serger knife already made the cut when I serged the raw edges to prevent raveling. So, everything already lays flat.

Fly installed

Fly installed

I turned the pants to the inside, lined up the edge of the zupper tape with the basted seam and stitched the zipper to the fly extension only. Then I turned and stitched back up, again stitching the tape only to the extension. I flipped everything and stitched the other side of the zipper tape to the other fly extension.

I left the crotch seam basted shut for the time being. I sewed the side seams, inseams, and back crotch, connecting to the base of the front crotch seam. Then I removed the basting stitches so I could open the fly.

Inside the shorts, showing the zipper

Inside the shorts, showing the zipper

Time for the first fitting test! The length was good, there was plenty of room in the waist. But, they were too big through the hip and thigh. I took them in, and tried again This time the fit was relaxed and comfortable without bagginess.

I applied the waistband, folded it right side out, and anchored it by stitching in the ditch. I left a gap in the ditch stitching just in front of each side seam, so I could insert elastic through the back of the waistband only. I added a pants hook-and-eye closure to the waistband.

Heming was the last step, I simply turned and top stitched.

Me wearing my shorts at the festival

Me wearing my shorts at the festival

Close up of front closure

Close up of front closure

The front of the finished shorts

The front of the finished shorts

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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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