comfy jacket

A few years ago I got some extra metal zippers (jean fly type) in a shipping error. Making jeans is something I think about every now and again, but my few tries have not been encouraging. On my bulletin board is tacked a picture of a tweedy kind of Chanel-type jacket with zippered pockets. A Chanel jacket is in my future, but it is going to take so much work that I want it to be timeless, not trendied-up with zippers and whatnot.

But I wanted to use some of my zippers and thought that the dark blue/brass zips would look good with a beige/blue cotton stripe that I got from Fabric Finders at the Martha Market. That’s what drove the fabric decision.

For the pattern, I had been wanting to make some fitting tweaks to Cutting Line’s By Popular Demand jacket. And that’s what made the pattern decision. It’s nice when the decisions just make themselves.

Here’s the resulting jacket, which will look good with both natural linen and denim, staples in the closet.

The fitting changes: took out a little width by taking a vertical tuck in the pattern, front and back. Removed about 1/2 inch, so that’s 2 inches total. That worked out perfect at the shoulders, but was just a little too much at the hip. That’s OK, it looks just fine when worn open and I never button my jackets. Next time, I’ll slash along the tuck and spread it just a little at the hem edge so that it COULD be worn closed, even though I never will. Also lengthened the sleeve because reducing the shoulder width means the sleeve cap sits higher…and the hem sits higher, too.

Other fit refinements: did a forward shoulder & neck adjustment by slashing front and back yoke horizontally below the neckline. Spread the back 1/2 inch and lapped the front by the same amount. I need to do this on all CLD patterns.

The jacket was underlined with cotton batiste. I’ve used that technique on several cotton jackets now and really like what it does. The lightweight batiste adds just enough oomph to the cotton outer fabric to give it a bit more presence and a quality feel. And the batiste feels just great on the skin, nice when you wear your jacket with sleeveless tops.

The pockets are placed at waist level and were constructed before underlining so that all the pocket bags are hidden. The zippers were just inserted into rectangular windows. Interfacing the window and a little Steam-A-Seam for basting the zipper tapes made sewing the zippers really easy. They are just edgestitched all around.

The back part of the bags, the part that shows when they are opened, was cut from the fashion fabric. I was a good girl and matched the stripes. The other part of the bag was cut from batiste – less bulky than another layer of the fashion fabric.

The lower part of the back was cut on the fold rather than seamed, but the yoke was cut so that it could be mitered. Anything that brings attention up to the shoulders is a good thing.

On the Chanel thing…Ann Rowley has once again gone the extra mile and posted a detailed photo tutorial on the making of Claire Shaeffer’s latest pattern for Vogue. Having the extra photos and advice from Ann has given me the confidence audacity to actually give the whole process a try myself. Since I’m trying to emulate Ann, I’ve started by gathering all my materials rather than just diving in and making do as I go along. So far I have my fashion fabric, a 100% wool from Apple Annie. The fabric isn’t on the site anymore, so I guess it sold out. Maybe I lucked into the last of it? I need to go into town to get lining, after which thread can be ordered. I want silk thread for the quilting, and the bobbin thread should match the lining. Also need silk buttonhole twist. I’m thinking I’ll crochet the trim, and need to buy some yarn for that. I don’t think I want to unravel enough threads from the fabric to crochet with.

Question – the sleeve length seems to require some bracelets or bangles. Do you think someone who doesn’t wear bracelets should make the sleeves full-length?


SAM #7 and other things

Shirt #7, with no sleeves or associated cuffs and plackets, was a much quicker sew and also just right for hot summer weather. This is that Ottobre shirt from the 02-06 issue, this time in the #4 incarnation, which is sleeveless.

The fabric is a Liberty lawn. This pattern is called “Pepper”, and is probably the ittiest, bittiest  print they make. Since the fabric was so nice, I wanted to be sure to make something classic. I also took care to sew the narrowest french seams I could, and the bias binding for the armholes was also the very skinniest I could manage. I also wanted to use my old-time Singer buttonholer to make the best possible buttonholes, but could not get it to work with this lightweight fabric. When I slipped something stouter under the foot, it worked fine. I did mess with the foot pressure and tension, but to no avail. Does anyone have any suggestions for the future? So the buttonholes were done on the Janome, which makes pretty darn nice ones, just not with as many variations as the  cams in the Singer attachment allow.

Made a few more tweaks with dart placement and think the tweaking of this pattern is finally finished. One thing I’ve noted with Ottobre patterns is that the bust point is much closer to the side than mine. So the vertical darts were moved toward the center; the horizontal dart was adjusted just a bit, too.

If I ever buy another dressform, I’ll get one with a cotton cover. This one has some kind of grabby velour on it that makes it so hard to take a nice photo. Everything clings everywhere.

The shirt is part of my summer 6-pack, and there are pants to go with it. These are the pants in the same Ottobre issue as the shirt, 02-06. Photographing pants is always a problem for me. Here’s a fuzzy mirror shot that at least shows the two pieces together. I modified the pants by replacing the slash pockets (don’t like the gaping) with pockets with a horizontal opening. Which doesn’t show, because I don’t tuck my tops.

When the last Ottobre Woman issue came, I really wanted to make style #10, the cute crossover top. Ordered the perfect striped knit to make it from, and got the thing nearly completed. Unfortunately, my usual Ottobre size was too small! Not only that, but it was too short! I was really put out, because the back waist length on Ottobre has always been just right in my usual size. I may still try the crossover top again.

That effort left me with some good-size scraps. The navy and chartreuse stripe was all peppy and energizing, so I really wanted to use it. There was just barely enough to squeeze out the Linnea top, from Ottobre 02-10, style #1. This is such a simple pattern, and I’ve wanted to try it for quite awhile, but didn’t have appropriate material. That lightweight rayon knit was just perfect. It went together in about 2 hours (probably faster for you if you have more facility with knits) and gave me no headaches! Changes from the pattern: bound the armholes instead of the turn and stitch finish in the instructions. For the hem, I decided to cut a band and serge it to the bottom. I wasn’t sure I could sew a twin-needle hem very well on such a light-weight knit. I love wearing this simple top with its easy neckline, and want to find some other knits that work for it.

Whether you’re sewing or not, I hope you’re having the summer you want!

new season, new 6-pak

The group that is participating in the 6-Pak sewalong at Stitcher’s Guild is so much fun that I had to join up for the summer season, too. But this will be an unplanned 6-Pak, since I also want the thrills, chills, and hair-raising excitement of making it up as I go along.

The first two items are complete, and looky looky, it’s a column.

The pants are from Marcy Tilton’s V8397 in a drapey linen/lycra blend. I’ve discovered that I like these semi-funky pants a lot as long as they are in drapey fabrics. I’m still not ready for the full-on funk of some of the arty pants styles. The top is from an old Burda envelope pattern, 3473. It’s a basic scoop-neck, darted tank top. The fabric is some sort of linen or cotton…maybe originally intended for a tablecloth? Whatever, I liked the texture and cut it on the bias for this tank.

For both of these items, I was dealing with short yardage. I must have gotten both of these pieces at Pursley’s when they were going out of business, so there was no opportunity to buy extra.

For the top, I had just enough to cut the front and the back. To finish the neck and armholes, I made  a bias binding from some off-white batiste. The binding was applied just like you

would for a knit top: folded the bias in half, matched up all the raw edges and stitched. Serged the seam allowances and pressed them to the inside, leaving just a little of the bias showing at the edge so it gives the same effect as piping. Topstitched along the edges.

The pants needed a little invention, too. This pattern has a front, back, and side panel, and each needs to be the full length of the pants. I was just inches short of being able to cut all three pieces full length. These pants have a very short inseam, so as drafted they would have been very short crops on me. I wanted them just above the ankle and lengthened the leg 2″ in order to get them that length – so shortening was not an option.

I love the phrase “make a virtue of a necessity” and that’s what had to be done here. A  poket was added, inspired by the CLD Easy, Ageless, Cool pants (which are very similar to this Vogue Pattern). The pocket enabled me to cut the side panel as two pieces, and it is such an easy pocket to do, too. Here’s what I did:

The side panel is a rectangle. For the lower part, I cut the rectangle as long as my fabric would allow. For the upper part, I cut a shape like this, because I was so short on fabric I didn’t even have enough to square off all four corners. Serged the lower edge (the top and sides will be finished when the seam are completed in the normal pattern steps).

The lower panel needed to be prepped for the pocket opening. I serged and interfaced the top edge, then pressed under an inch and a half for a self-facing. Edgestitched the fold and topstitched along the serging.

Now to line it all up. Took the pattern piece, and aligned the top of the upper side panel with the top of the pattern. Then lay the lower side panel on top, aligning the bottom to the bottom of the pattern piece. I had about an 8 inch overlap. All that remained was to topstitch the bottom edge of the upper side panel through both layers, which makes the pocket bag. The rest of the pocket seams are stitched when the side panel is joined to the front
and back.

The Pocket Project

Here’s what inspired all my thinking on pockets. I am getting into plein air painting, which means lugging my painting gear from the car over possibly rough terrain to get to a spot with a view I’d like to work with. I do have the cutest little pochade box in the world (pochade = pocket in French) that holds all my paints, solvents, and canvas or paper supports. It is attached to a photographer’s tripod so it’s all handy and adjustable.

HOWEVER, you need more than paint and canvas to get you through hours of standing out in the elements. Last time I went out, I packed all my gear in bags and set out for a location that required lots of climbing over rocks. This did not work out well. Photographer Spouse had an excellent suggestion: “What you need is a field vest”, says he. The prospect of having all kinds of specially-sized pockets to hold all the things I need fired up the Container Store junkie in me. I wanted to share the feeling by posting a video of Phil Hartman’s anal retentive fisherman schtick here, but could not find it alas. The point of the skit was that this fisherman got more joy out of storing things precisely in his tackle box than actually fishing….so with that in mind…..

Here’s what I’m thinking of. What follows is a description of the function of each feature…

  1. Pill case
  2. little digi camera (buttoned flap for security)
  3. D-ring for clip-on water bottle
  4. sketchpad. the dotted lines represent sleeves inside the pocket to hold pen & pencil. outside is a loop that will have a rag threaded through it when painting.
  5. phone, again with a buttoned flap for security
  6. the big pocket is for clean-up materials: plastic bags and paper towels. It has a buttoned tab to keep it from gaping open, but I can still reach in with my fingers and pull out whatever I need. The pocket on the outside will contain sleeves for credit cards & ID, and a zippered compartment for some cash.
  7. brushes. there will probably also be a removable brush quiver. this will probably be a bellows/gusset pocket.
  8. this pocket is subdivided to have a compartment that will hold glasses or sunglasses (whichever ones I’m not wearing!) firmly. it will probably need a buttoned flap as well.

In addition to all the pockets, I am going to pad the shoulders so that I can carry the tripod/pochade assembly over my shoulder with a little less discomfort.

I still haven’t identified the pattern I’ll use, but am confident there’s something in inventory. But if you have any suggestions as to the fabric to use, I’d love to hear them! Fabric needs to be strong, lightweight, cool, and easy to work with.

There have been lots of other seamstresses who have made specialized garments for their sports, and I’ve admired the take-charge attitude they’ve shown. When I get this done, maybe they’ll teach me the secret handshake and let me into their club.

Pocket Picker

A little while ago, Robin of a little sewing wrote of having her bulletin board covered with clippings of basic garments rather than flashy showstoppers. Yep, basic & classic are my keywords. I also favor solid or textured fabrics and generally eschew prints.

Classic style + solid fabric can make for a boring wadrobe and boring sewing, too. Little variations can freshen up your sewing experience. Patch pockets are a feature on lots of simple styles; they give interest to what would otherwise be a big old expanse of plain fabric.

Here’s a little meditation on combining basic elements of patch pockets for lots of variations. I am planning a utility garment with heaps of specialized pockets…and that ties back to my previous post about taking advantage of the special touches available to those of us who sew our own clothes.

So….patch pockets. They are classic in themselves.

Start with a basic shape. Corners can be squared, or rounded and angled to various degrees.

 Pick a method of attaching the pocket. Sew it on invisibly? Edgestitch? Edgestitch and topstitch? How about stitching down the top facing with multiple rows of stitching or something decorative?

Want a pocket that means business and can hold a lot? Add a gusset to make poacher’s pockets. Gathers and darts can also add extra volume.

The shape of the top opening can be changed. The top of hip pockets can be extended up and become belt loops.

Add flaps or bands to the tops. The shape of the flap doesn’t have to echo the shape of the pocket bottom. The pocket tops can be gathered to the bands, or the bands could contain elastic and have a ruched effect.

Add a button (snap, velcro) or tab. Tabs could also be fastened with D-rings if you’re feeling sporty. Zipper openings, too, but I’m not going to bother drawing a zipper.

 Layer pockets – the coin pockets on jeans are just the beginning of the pockets you can have inside or over other pockets. You can also subdivide…like a cigar pocket.

Then you can experiment with applique-type shapes. The ideas that are occuring to me are most appropriate for kiddie clothes, but maybe you’ll think of something more sophisticated.

A pocket is a nice defined area for embellishment of all kinds: decorative seaming, such as some felled seams or slot seams, embroidery like hemstitching, lines of satin stitching, or decorative machine stitches; pintucks; contrast fabric for flaps, bands, or edge bindings.

My pocket-palooza garment is in the planning and fabric selection stage. Lots of measuring is involved so that each pocket accomodates the items it is intended to hold. Pockets within pockets will  be involved. I’m also giving careful consideration to placement – where will the different items be most conveniently located? Do I want to reach across my body to get at them? I want this garment ready to go in the fall. It’s the fabric selection that’s holding me up right now – needs to be strong, light-weight, and cool. And easy to sew because I’m going to be making lots of pockets.