Tabula Rasa Jacket 2

Here is the “nice” version of the Tabula Rasa.

Fabric – wool crepe that I bought a very very long time ago. This blueish grayish color is a favorite neutral, but it’s not always easy to find. This version is lined; I followed the instructions for lining and they are just fine as long as you don’t mind hand stitching. I have yet to bag a jacket lining…one day…. This version does not have any closure. Bound buttonholes seemed too tailored for this style, but I didn’t want standard machine buttonholes, either. No prob, since a fastener-free kimono front works fine.

Again, not a good photo. I’m so sorry not to be able to get an informative picture of this jacket for you. I think you can see the part that I am happiest with, though. That’s the lack of excess fabric through the shoulder and underarm. For an art-to-wear type jacket, that is an outstanding feature.

Fit for Art 2

Here it is with the brightness turned way up…maybe it will show a little more what I mean.

Fit for Art bright

No long navel-gazing, although this is sure to be my last post for 2014. I didn’t sew as much because I didn’t need much! The stash is down to a very comfortable level. I experimented with some lagenlookish styles but they didn’t take. There you have it, my sewing year in review.

Wishing you all a happy and peaceful 2015!

tabula rasa jacket

The Tabula Rasa is from indie pattern company Fit For Art. As the name of the pattern indicates, the jacket is meant to be a blank slate for your piecing, color blocking, or embellishment. Likewise, the name of the company shows their concern about fit. Lots of art to wear jacket patterns are just big and boxy, I guess that you are supposed to ignore that and just look at the embellishments. This one, while still a relaxed fit, has eliminated much excess fabric and provided bust shaping. Details on that a little later.

We had a little cold snap here that made me realize I had a few tops that didn’t really work with my coats. A cardigan-like jacket with a warm lining would fill the bill. First I went to my Ottobre and Burda magazine binders, but didn’t find exactly what I was looking for. I’m glad I remembered this pattern that I’ve kind of had my eye on for a few years. It has a folkloric-type feel to the design that I like – a little bit like a kimono but with a skosh more fit.

Lightened, but you still can't see anything. Sorry.
Lightened, but you still can’t see anything. Sorry.

The illustration on the pattern doesn’t do this design justice. That’s really too bad. The jacket is designed with no side seams. There is a side panel that, combined with the uniquely-shaped armscye, provides vertical princess-like lines front and back. A band finishes the center front and neckline, your choice whether to add a button or three or not.

On the topic of fit – you can tell that a nicely-fitted jacket is the designer’s goal here. There are two different front pieces included in the pattern – one for A/B busts, and one for C/D that has an extra set of bust darts rather than a single larger dart. There are also two different side panels – straight sides for narrow hips, and an angled side for full hips or if you want a swingier jacket. Horizontal balance lines are also included on the pattern. The intention is that you will first make an actual muslin muslin with the balance lines marked to aid in evaluating the fit and where adjustments are necessary. The very complete instructions (a 15-page booklet) advise making a real muslin with the balance lines, and then a wearable muslin in a fabric similar to the artsy fabric it assumes will be used for the final version. In addition to some fitting advice included in the booklet, there is an eleven-page document available on the website with instructions on how to address 16 common fit issues. Lining, interfacing, and seam finishes are all discussed in the instruction book.

Unlike other arty jackets, this one does not have extended shoulders. That’s one reason that the fit seems relatively trim. Also, a lot of fabric that is usually bunched up under the arm has been eliminated.

I skipped to the wearable muslin, but marked my balance lines in soap (washable jacket). I used one size up from the size recommended for my bust measurement, because I wanted a jacket that would fit over some other layers. I went ahead and made a forward shoulder adjustment before cutting out, and added an inch to the length. I had to cut an inch and a half off the sleeves. They were long!

The jacket went together very quickly. Took me about four hours to complete, and I am not Speedy McSeamstress by any means. It was fun to sew, too. The unique sleeve and lack of side seams mean that the construction is different, so I followed the steps in the booklet. They include lots of other specifics that are often left out, like which side to have on top when stitching and which way to press the seams. My only nit-picky point on the instructions is that there must be some tricks to making the finishing of the band a little easier. I’ll have to search through my Cutting Line patterns and see if there are some band finishing instructions that can be borrowed.

Still doesn't tell you anything except that it needs to be longer.
Still doesn’t tell you anything except that it needs to be longer.

So…wearable muslin is done and I’m really pleased. Sorry the photos don’t tell much since it’s black. My only fit issue is that the upper back is a little wide, so I’ll consult the fitting document to see how they recommend adjusting that. I’ll also make the next one two and a half inches longer than designed. Some wool crepe is earmarked for the nice version, once I get some nice lining for it. I dabbled with embellishments for a little while and decided that they aren’t for me. I enjoy doing the work, but didn’t like wearing the garments. So plain wool crepe it is. Maybe with some topstitching to emphasize the seams.

You can probably tell that I like this jacket, since I wrote so darn much about it! It could be adapted to a nice tunic, too.

discover something novel


It’s rare that I have a vision of exactly how I want to make up a pattern. Generally I collect patterns, collect fabrics, and match them up depending on my needs.
When this pattern came out a year or two ago, I knew exactly how I wanted to make up the vest/top – with indigo ikat fabrics. It’s just taken me this long to get around to making it.

The fabrics came from eQuilter. They have an extensive selection of quilting cottons, but also have a nice selection of fabrics that are more down my alley, too. There’s a section of the website devoted to oriental fabrics. But even better, a search on the term yarn dye turns up all kinds of lovely things that to me are just right for patterns with just a few pieces, like the Cutting Line styles. Check out a few samples:

EIGUARAMTCIKAAOLTCSEM4IRThere are lots of nice chambrays and cross-woven fabrics, too.

They had a several patterns of indigo and white ikat to choose from. I picked three, two that were related in value and one for contrast that was the inverse of one of the main fabrics. Estimated how much to buy and I was a little short – so I had to cut separate lining pieces for the lower fronts and back. If you buy enough, these pieces are meant to be cut all in one, so that there is a fold rather than a seam at the lower edge. Less bulky that way.

The vest is fun and easy to make, especially if you buy enough fabric to start with. If you have a lot of interesting scraps, you can piece it any way you like to use up all the little pieces you can’t bear to toss.

The front opening crosses low enough that the vest requires an underlayer. I picked up a cheapie tank at J.C. Penny’s that will work just fine. It seems like it should be easy to adapt the vest to be a top, and I actually started to draft that up, but couldn’t decide exactly how the closure should be handled, so just went with the vest as drafted.

I also made the pants, so I have the whole ensemble. There was fabric in the stash for indigo pants, but that seemed a little matchy-matchy for an “artsy” outfit. Instead, I used a dark gray cotton/hemp blend that was pretty much the same value as the indigo. Followed the fitting instructions included in the pattern, knowing that they would work for me. The hemline for the pants is faced, so there’s no adjusting length at the end of the fitting process. I decided to make up the first pair as drafted, and then adjust the length later on if I make another pair. I saw Louise wearing these at an expo last year and hers were just above the ankle. I have fat ankles, and these hit me at a wide spot – I think I’ll make them just a hair shorter if I make them again.

Vision accomplished!

I kind of like the lantern-shaped pants I’ve made, both these and the Marcy Tilton ones. I do like them better in drapey fabrics. This pair will probably soften up with a few more washes – and may shrink up a little in length, too, which would make them really nice.

This is a fun outfit. I don’t think I’ll make another complete ensemble, but might make each piece separately again. The pants would be very cute in black with ballet flats and a slim knit top.


SAM #4

Sweet Liberty!

Shirt-A-Month #4 is Sewing Workshop’s Liberty. It’s also the overlayer part of my spring 6-pak, and can be worn as a jacket over either of the previous matchy-matchy columns. Way to make one garment count towards multiple goals, right?

The skinny (I wish) on this Liberty: The double-sided linen was purchased a long time ago from Fashion Fabrics Club. It was a clear must-have for me. One side matches my eyes and the other side matches my hair. Someone doing historical reinactments could have done the whole Civil War with this fabric if they had had enough. One side for the Union, the other side for the Confederacy. Anyway, the fabric was very special for me and I dithered for years over what to do with it. One pattern after another was considered and cast aside. Finally I decided I wanted to make the Liberty with hems and facings turned to the outside. The irony here is that you could absolutely make the same effect with two contrasting fabrics. The only place the double-sided characteristic of the fabric was utilized was the hems, and you could easily cut a hem facing in your contrast.

Other changes from the pattern: lengthened an inch. I have made this before and did

not really care for the wavy collar in the pattern, so this time I cut a straight band. Also, the instructions call for french seams. Since this linen is pretty heavy, that was not the way to go. Instead, I pressed the seam allowances open and then turned them under, using a triple stitch topstitch on either side of the seam to secure.

This is the way it looks from the outside.

And this is the way it looks on the inside.I’ve only used decorative stitches on my machine a very, very few times. The idea for using the triple topstitch came directly from Carolyn of Diary of a Sewing Fanatic fame.

There must be something about the Liberty that makes me want to use the decorative stitches, though. My previous version (also linen) used a wing-needle and hemstitching along the hem and facing edges.


This is a very fun pattern to make, and not difficult, but it is so distinctive that I may not make it again. But I see that an Eskandar design (at Nieman’s) seems to have a similar hem/vent in a longer length. That might just be different enough to give the pattern a third whirl.

JAM #11

Jacket #11 is another Anything But Ordinary. This is such a simple jacket which lends itself to interesting fabric. And since it’s simple, it goes together quickly.

In one of her newsletters Louise suggested making an ABO ensemble, using the pattern for both a shirt and jacket, but cutting the collar of the jacket a half inch shorter so that the shirt collar peeks out all around. Since I had bought this lovely Japanese cotton from Louise specifically to make an ABO, I went stash diving to see what there was for the shirt portion. There was a nice mid-weight silk that reminds me a lot of chambray. They looked good together!

I made the shirt first. Simple pattern + plain fabric can be pretty boring, so I decided to channel stitch the collar and center front openings. All was going smoothly until…..slice….I had my first serger accident and nicked a three-quarter inch V out of one of the sleeves. What to do? If it had been in an inconspicuous place I would have darned it and figured no one but me would ever know. But there it was, right on the front of the sleeve, saying “Hi, I’m your big fat mistake and I’ll be your design opportunity this evening”.

So, the nick got patched. To make it look more intentional, I duplicated the channel stitching from the collar on the patch.  And to keep the fluidity of the silk, the edges were frayed instead of turned under. To further the illusion that I did it all on purpose, patches were scattered randomly over the top.

I was pretty disgusted with myself when I made the boo-boo, but now I’ve gotten over that and actually like the way it turned out. Three cheers for cooling-off periods!

Here are the front and back views of the shirt. With patches. And the CF is fastened with snaps.

On to the jacket. Even though this was planned to be worn over a silk shirt, I wanted to line the jacket to give it a little extra substance and so I could wear it over other things. I just loooooove the print and think it will be worn a lot. Around this time, Sewing on the Edge had a post about her “cheater” lining method that she used on her fab corduroy jacket. Just what was needed!

The lining meant that I could put shoulder pads in and they would be hidden. Louise is a big shoulder pad fan…that is, a big fan of the pads, not a fan of big pads…and always recommends them. What a difference it makes! Sets the jacket squarely on the shoulders and improves the hang.

My main issue with many Cutting Line and Sewing Workshop patterns, the ones without darts, is that they hike up in the front and I don’t know how to do a FBA without adding a dart. I tried adding a bust dart on a previous iteration and did not like the outcome at all. It went in the trash. So for this one, I decided that I would go for an angled hem, and cut it about 2 inches longer at center front. Well, it hangs straight. So I am pleased with that but would still like to know how to do an FBA and maintain the perfectly perpendicular CF and hemline that these designs are supposed to have.

Here’s the stacked collar shot. I love these buttons on this fabric!

I feel like I’m getting a handle on art to wear that I’m comfortable in. This ensemble has had its first outing and I didn’t regret wearing it one bit.

JAM #9

When you can’t sew (because new lighting is going in the sewing room – yay!), the blog posting increases.

This is my recently-completed Anything But Ordinary jacket from Cutting Line Designs. It’s an oversized, boxy jacket, easy and cozy to toss on. Basically 4 pattern pieces without a lot of fitting necessary, it is an easy sew.

I shocked myself by deciding to test out this pattern as a pieced jacket. Ya’ll, this is so unlike me, but it came to me in a vision. I love natural linen damask/jacquard type weaves, and had scraps left over from my last CLD jacket. I also had a natural linen skirt in a different pattern that was never going to be worn, so I cut it up to use. Added another couple of linen scraps and here it is.

The effect is rather subtle. I got so carried away with art-to-wear-ness that I actually used one of the “fancy” stitches on my machine to embellish the plain linen stripe. White thread on cream fabric…doesn’t really stand out, but it does enliven the surface a little.

herringbone stitching on the lightest stripe, if you can see it

I put this together with foundation piecing, using batiste for the foundation. That made the jacket really cuddly, and none of the piecing shows on the inside. The method was easy-peasy, very much like the string-quilting technique shown here on Quiltville, except that my pieces were bigger.

I even used statement buttons to finish it off. This is a departure for me, but I like it. I especially like the magic built into that collar that makes it want to stand up.

Before I make this again, I’ll do some pinning on this one to see if I can reduce the volume just a little bit, and maybe try adding a dart. Just tweaks. I do have some other fabrics in the stash that I think would look very nice made up in this pattern.

Updating to show the fabrics used, since they didn’t show up very well. The first two were used for most of the jacket. Numbers 3 & 4 are the prominent stripes (which continue down the back and match at the shoulder), and the last one is cotton ticking used for the facings.

Chain Mail

This morning we checked out the Main Street Art Festival over in Fort Worth. Lots of painting, photography, wood, glass, ceramics, and the like – and mostly all interesting to look at! There were very few fiber artists, but there was one booth with wearables that blew me away. Check out the chain mail tunic!  (the photo should enlarge if you click on it) These people had some amazing goods, all made out of this linked material which is used to make shark suits. Camisoles, beaded scarves, necklaces, some show-stopper purses. I could not buy, but maybe you can. Here’s a link to their website: Unzickerdesign. I may save my pennies; the material was very, very fun to handle, and I think I would like a scarf.

Another fiber booth featured hand-loomed wraps very similar to the Mildred wrap in the Fall 2010 Ottobre Woman. However, the hand-loomed fabric seemed almost machine-made in it’s perfection, so it really wasn’t very interesting. When I think of hand-made fabric, I think texture, but it was missing there.

I have been doing a little sewing myself, mostly in half-hour increments – like while dinner is in the oven. No PSDs are in my future for awhile, but there’s nothing wrong with sewing in little bite-sized bits of time. In a half an hour I can sew and press a seam or two, and I find I make fewer mistakes when I’m not in a sewing marathon.

Here’s another top from Simplicity 2614, a nice pattern with different fronts for different cup sizes. No closures, no zips, goes together fast. I made one of these to go with my Tasteful Lady jacket in silk (don’t think I posted a pic). This one is cotton, in my signature steel blue with a dot texture made from clipped threads. Is that dotted swiss? I remember swiss always having white dots.

The pattern has one sleeveless view and two with different length sleeves, but the sleeves are gathered and to me that looks too juvenile. For this one, I drafted little shoulder flanges that run from the front to back armscye notches. The flanges were cut double, with the edge on the fold, so they needed no hemming. Then I turned and stitched the rest of the underarm. I’m wearing this tomorrow so it will have a chance to prove itself in action.

While I am waiting for the lining for the next JAM jacket to arrive, I am working on another pair of Hot Patterns Metropolitain Slouchy Jeans to go with the jacket-to-be. When fitting challenges have already been worked out, pants are another item that lend themselves well to sewing with scraps of time.