Here’s to new beginnings

A very happy 2018 to all readers!

It’s a good day to begin again with this old blog. It has been a very long time since I have posted, and there are plenty of reasons for that. For one thing, since the last post we have moved twice. It seemed like the entire year was filled with downsizing (again and again), packing, and preparing three houses to move into or out of. It has taken me a long time to feel somewhat settled in what we intend to be our permanent home, even though I am very happy to be here.

Meantime, my old blog theme is no longer supported and there is no telling what this post will look like, but I really wanted to get back in touch with the sewing world out there. This is a first step in that direction.

So, enough with the background and excuses! I have some sewing projects to share. They are unimpressive, but show that my heart is in the right place.

The last two days of the old year I sewed two much needed tops. They are both loose pullover tunics in stable knits. The fabrics were purchased from Fabric.com back in the fall, both manufactured by Telio. I have much better luck with Fabric.com when I buy fabrics with brand names. It’s not fun to open the box and be disappointed with fabric quality.

go_to_aCutting Lines Designs fans might have heard of the “Go-To” top. This is not a printed pattern, but a set of instructions for changing up the top from the Anything But Ordinary pattern. Basically, the body is widened, the sleeves lengthened, and the details are omitted. A link to the directions is at the end of this post. I extended the bottom to tunic length, easy to do because it’s perfectly squared off and you just add as many inches as you want.

go_to_b

CLD patterns are designed for woven fabrics, but this one worked up just fine in a stable knit. I even used the neck facing, topstitching both the edge and near the seam, rather than binding the edge. Looks OK to me.

Top number two is from Ottobre 2/2017. It’s style number 2, called All Day Long.

otto2_2017_2

It has binding on the curved hem as well as the neckline, and is supposed to have ribbing for the cuffs. My fabric had a horizontal rib which made a nice little detail when vertical strips were used for the binding and to replace the ribbing.  (Heads up – if you want to do this, make your own pattern piece for the cuff. The one in the magazine is sized for genuine ribbing fabric and won’t work unless your fabric has significant vertical stretch.)

Pics of this top:

otto2_2017_2a

 

These were both really quick sewing, and both will work with black leggings. Nice comfy basics that I really need.

What’s ahead in 2018

No long list of sewing resolutions, but there are two things ahead that I will be working on and blogging about.

  1. New sewing blocks and basics. In the last few years, the projects where I adapted a basic block (already fitted to me) to copy an admired design have been my most fun and rewarding garments. Those old blocks don’t fit any more. Good news, it’s because I lost weight about two years ago. So a project I really need to get to work on is picking some new patterns to be my starting blocks, or re-fitting some old favorites.
  2. Downsizing means I need to say goodbye to most of my old sewing machines. I used to have the space to collect…and the spouse knew that whenever he needed a present, he could do well by going to a second-hand shop or antique mall and buy the weirdest-looking machine for me. My plan is to buy a new basic machine with a good automatic buttonhole, and let the other machines (except the Featherweight) go. They will either get traded in or go on something like Craigslist.

Thanks for visiting! I will be trying to get the blog refurbished, better organized and whatnot, so that the next post will look better.

Links:

directions for the “Go To” top can be found in the first post on this forum thread: artisanssquare

Browse or purchase the Ottobre Woman 2/2017 issue here: Ottobre

 

 

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SWAP 2016 progress

This is the first year I’ve participated in SWAP for a long time. I do actually need clothes, and the rules suit me fine, so the timing was great this year.

Most of the sewing is done. There is a pair of black linen pants and another white top to make, and that’s all. Here’s the SWAP so far. Head is cropped off because I am having a bad face day. 🙂

Here we have a pair of narrowish pants in a gray twill with a lot of body. They are from a Burda plus issue that seems like it has no date on it. At least, I can’t find it. The pants have four narrow waistline darts in front, four regular darts in back, and a cute little ankle slit. The original pattern had a faced waist, but I added a waistband. The pants are paired with a Cutting Line Hearts a Flutter top that I changed up with a button front.

SWAP1Front and rear views. Of the things I’ve made so far for SWAP, I’m most critical of these two. I’m glad I added the waistband to the pants, because some elastic needs to be added in there to help them stay in place.  Maybe I will take in the side seams a just a little bit, too. However, I have worn these all day so they might be a bit bagged out. Maybe the best thing to do is wash and dry them a few more times to see if there’s some shrinkage still to come. A little shrinking might be just the thing in this case.

Critique on the top – here Photoshop has come in handy to show what it would look like if I shortened the top a bit more than an inch. Better proportion, I think, and totally worth doing. In fact, maybe it will get shortened even a little more. To be fair to the designer, I did lengthen the top when I made it up. Mistake!

SWAPproportion 1

 

Here are the same pants with the Hot Patterns Sunshine top. There was a thin knit in the stash that was way too sheer for a regular top. My reasoning was that the volume of the gathers would mitigate the sheerness. They do, but I will probably always wear a light jacket when leaving the house in it. The scooped neck of the Sunshine top is both deep and wide. I used a smaller size for the neckband and just gathered the rest of the top to fit.

SWAP2

What happened to my shoes?

The boxy jacket is from Burda, the 2/2009 issue, #134. The original had bust darts that I converted to shoulder princess seams so that I could flat fell them. Shouler darts in the back were also converted to vertical flat felled seams. I also eliminated the bottom band/peplum that was in the original pattern. What did I keep? The cute vented sleeves! Cooper must think that jacket = walk.

SWAP3

Another grouping, and the Birkenstocks are back. The top is Cutting Line’s Plain & Simple shell, modified to mimic a Style Arc pattern I like . It’s made up in double sided double gauze, with the reverse used for the shoulder yoke. I picked apart the layers at the seams for the yoke, so that the seam allowances could be hidden between them without cutting two yokes. There are some gathers at the yoke in center back, too.

The Tabula Rasa jacket pattern was selected because I wanted something kimono-ish for that indigo chrysanthemum print. The fabric is fairly heavy, and I underlined it, which gave me another boxy jacket.

Pants – another Burda style. I have been calling them “carrot” pants, but maybe it would be better just to call them pleated pants that are narrow at the ankle. I like them a lot. They are from the 09/2011 issue, style #120.

SWAP4

I don’t know if this top actually fits the rules, because it’s a recycled piece from my last 6-pac. I cut it down to make the little Ottobre dolman T, #17 from the 02/2015 issue. This is a quick and easy top to make, but there are a few things not apparent from the drawings and photos – the neckline is not as scooped and wide as the drawing, and the shoulder and sleeve fit is really snug. I will probably make another one of these.

Parts of the SWAP not shown in this post are the Miss Fisher trench coat from last year (rules allow a previously made item) and purchased blue jeans.

Two more pieces to go, and that should do it.

comparing curves

The mysteries of the crotch curve. After all these years, I still don’t have a firm understanding of this critical concept. I’ve been in another round of pants fitting (lost significant weight and it was time) and had an aha! moment about what I need in a curve and how it should be placed. Coupled with that, there’s been an interesting discussion going on at Stitcher’s Guild regarding this shape. These things motivated me to do a little tracing and comparing.

This would have been a better example if I had basic trouser patterns in all the pattern companies represented, but my Knipmode sources are limited to two magazines. Knip was critical because that is the curve that I really wanted to compare. So I selected the knip style that I had and then went on to find similar styles in the other companies – as close as I could.

Sizes – I used a 42 inch hip measurement – very close to the 106 cm measurement used by Knipmode and Burda. This meant that McCall and Vogue were size 18, Burda was a 44, and Knipmode was a 42.

Deciding how to align them for the overlay was a puzzle. I decided to align them based on the deepest part of the curve, with the grainlines parallel. For Knip and Burda, I positioned them so that the points were vertically aligned. I did the same for Vogue and McCall, too, but then backed them away a bit because they are designed to come together at the center of the body. The European cuts come together more towards the front. Maybe there is a better way to align for comparison?

So here is the picture. My lines are a little wobbly, but it’s easy to see that there is a clear difference in the four curves.

back curves

 

Observations:

McCall and burda have almost the same angle of slant, but the McCall is much more L shaped.

Knipmode is the only one that has an actual hook. The lowest point of the curve is not at the point.

That Vogue curve is very shallow. When I look at it, I know why people need to scoop to alter some patterns.

Burda has a curve that I can imagine conforming to my contours. But look how the Burda seems to allow for a thicker waist than Knipmode.

There is more to fitting than crotch curves, of course, and that’s one of the reasons it is such a challenge for someone like me to understand. Side seams and the angle of the waistline relative to the center back and sides are also parts of the equation.

But what I understand from comparing these curves is that, depending on a person’s own anatomy, one of them would be a better starting point than the others. And you wouldn’t be able to just make the same kind of alteration across the board to get them to fit. One might need a scoop, another might need a wedge either added or taken out, and so on. In the most recent pair of pants I fitted (Burda), I tried tweaking in all the usual ways to get a better fit with no luck. Finally, I put them on inside out and pinned the center back to conform to my body. Turned out the curve needed to start higher.

I’d like to develop TNTs for a few more pant styles, so there are more muslins in the future. Here’s an exercise to add to your yoga practice…starting in mountain pose, twist to one side until you can pin the center back seam of your pants. This pose is called “the seamstress”.

 

Kenmore 158.650

A new sewing machine followed me home yesterday. I absolutely did not need another machine, but it was only $30 and was super clean, so I bought it even though it didn’t have a manual or accessories.

Kenmore 158.650

It is a tank of a machine. 40 lbs — I weighed it — and look how stripped down and minimal the exterior is. That was part of its appeal!

It makes a beautiful straight stitch but is almost as loud as a tank, too. This week I’ll attempt to diagnose what is causing all the noise. It has a single cam in it, so I also need to check out what that does and try to locate a plain zig zag cam for it.

There’s already a first project planned for this baby, too.

Kenmore 158 back

If anyone has any experience with a machine like this, or knows what this dial on the back does, I’d love to hear about it. Sears is out of manuals for this machine.

Miss Fisher coat – complete!

otto 5_07_20_frontSide note – there is a planning post on this project here with photos of the inspiration coat.

This was a super fun project. I enjoyed sleuthing out the details to make a semi-faithful knockoff, enjoyed sewing, and will get plenty of wear out of this coat.

After waffling between the Ottobre pattern (# 20 from the 5/2007 issue, “Raglan-sleeve trenchcoat”) and some possible candidates from old Burda magazines, I decided to go with Otto. It has an a-line cut, while the Burdas were either straight up and down or extremely swingy. Besides that, I am just going through a period of Otto love and wanted to use theirs.
Modifications: Converted to single breasted, added length, eliminated their sleeve ties and carriers and substituted tabs, and rounded the collar points to imitate the inspiration coat. Eliminated the back facing. Shortened the sleeves a little bit, too. Otto sleeves are always too long on me. I did not do a forward shoulder alteration; maybe a small one would have been in order.

The fabric was a Kaufman linen/cotton blend from stash. I thought I’d be able to order more (the pattern is for a shorter coat) in order to not worry about getting the length I wanted, but the source was sold out. With some thoughtful single layer cutting, I was able to get the whole coat out of the original piece! I was really pleased, because even though my fabric is a little heavier than Miss Fisher’s actual coat, I really wanted the weight and drape of this particular material.

otto 5_07_20_backBack view – the back is plain except for a center back seam.

All the seams were flat-felled, so the inside of the coat is clean finished. For the facings and hems, I thought about finishing with bias strips from lining fabric, but remembered I wanted to try the “Hug Snug” rayon seam binding that Wawak carries. I liked the Hug Snug very well. It molded itself around the facing curves nicely, and the shiny contrast to the linen makes it look a little bit like piping.IMG_6780

The coat was sewed on the trusty old Singer 66 with buttonholes courtesy of an old style buttonhole attachment on this rotary Kenmore machine. I was surprised at how easy the attachment was to use, and am glad that the unreliable computerized machine that I was keeping around for buttonholes can finally be retired. Now I’m on the lookout for more buttonhole templates, if they exist. This particular kit was complete, but only contained 5.

singer66

kenny buttonholer

I like the coat and don’t have any cautions to pass on. I made my usual combination of Otto sizes, and the coat is plenty roomy to go over sweaters and other layers. I have lost some weight, but feel like the coat would still be big enough for layers even if I hadn’t.

otto 2007_05_20

This coat is item #1 in my 2016 SWAP. There are a few made-before-the-deadline pieces allowed in this year’s rules. This will probably be the only one for me. Because I had so much fun copying this piece and the Eileen Fisher tunic earlier this year, my SWAP will feature knock offs. This will be my first SWAP in years, and I am really looking forward to it!

fall 6-pac

The extra material for the Miss Fisher coat is on the way and should be here later this week. Fabric.com took their time getting it in the mail, but shipping is free so I am not complaining.

ejvc hosts seasonal sewalongs on Stitcher’s Guild that are built around 6 coordinating garments. There are always some resulting collections that are really inspiring. The threads are great sources of ideas for both simple and challenging projects, and usually also have lots of discussion of color, as well.

I bought a couple pairs of leggings for fall, something I never thought I would do. Because of that, I really did need to make some tops to wear with them. No short tops with leggings!  2 pairs of leggings (one black, one navy), one purchased gray top, and the three sewn pieces below make up my “cheater” 6 pac.

OTTO 5_15_17This Ottobre top was written up a couple of posts back. The more I think about it, the less I like the high/low hemline. I won’t do that again. But I like the fit of the rest of the top with the slouchy extended shoulders. Good for casual and relaxed wear. This is #17 from the 5/2015 issue of Ottobre.

Burda 5_11_131The silk tunic was adapted from Burda Style 5/2011 #131. I chose it because it has both front and back gathered into the yoke, and bust darts in addition to the gathers. This particular pattern also fit me well in the shoulders and has an armscye and sleeve that I like. I added extra width to both the front and back because I was afraid that without the extra it might look skimpy in the lightweight silk. Maybe I overcompensated? It does feel very lovely and swirly to wear, and probably looks a little more body conscious in motion than in a still photo.

OTTO 5_15_4One of the features of the 6-pac is the suggestion to include a jacket. I went with a long cardigan. This is also from the 5/2015 Ottobre, #4. There are two versions of the cardigan in the magazine. One has a curled raw edge on the front band, the other is pieced of different colors and has a hood. I made the pieced version and went to the trouble of topstitching the seam allowances down on either side of each seam in an attempt to emphasize the piecing. This was mostly wasted effort! With the texture of my fabric, the topstitching doesn’t show unless you look very closely.

I wanted a really drapey cardigan and that’s what I got. The fabric was described as a rayon sweatshirt knit. The textured side has silky short fleece-like fibers, kind of hard to describe. Ottobre called for merino wool, and I think on the whole a more stable fabric, like a medium weight wool knit or real sweatshirt knit, might have been a better choice. Especially if you plan to put in the pockets as designed. I interfaced the heck out of my pocket openings, but they are still droopy, so they are going to be sewn up.

2015 Fall 6 pacLastly, here’s the whole shebang. The purchased tunic is the last on the right…and I only photographed with the navy leggings. If I were sewing this over again there are a few things I would do differently, but that’s always the way it is. I’m satisfied with my little 6-pac and will wear all of these items a lot this fall and winter.

plans for another knock off

There are no completed projects to show here this time. My half-purchased half-sewn 6pak is complete, and I will take some photos to share in the next post. This one is being put up to host some photo inspiration for an upcoming project.

One of the members on Pattern Review, PammyJ, started a thread on a linen coat worn by Essie Davis in the Miss Fisher murder series. I vaguely remembered a duster type coat that she had worn motoring and flying an aeroplane (a little period spelling here), but couldn’t recall any details. However, the next episode up for viewing on my TV featured the coat, and then I wanted one, too.

Here are some decent photos of the coat gleaned from the official Phryne Fisher Pinterest page.

obscured by lovely scarf
with yet another lovely scarf
with lovely scarf number three

So many lovely scarves hiding the details I need to see to make this coat!

However, from watching episode in my queue (no scarves) I could see the following: below knee length, unlined, single breasted, buttoned sleeve tabs, raglan sleeves, flapped pockets, slightly rounded collar, center back seam. PammyJ thought there were bellows pockets, but on second viewing it looks to me like they are just patch pockets with flaps.

Here are a few more poor quality photos that I snapped off the TV.

Fisher coat 1 Fisher coat 2

I also found a pattern to use for my copy in an old Ottobre Woman. This is #20 from the 5/2007 issue. This should be pretty simple to adapt.

otto 2007_05_20

I had a piece of cotton/linen blend that has the right weight and drape, but not enough to make the duster length of the original. Luckily, fabric.com still has some and a few more yards are on their way to me now.

In my research, I read that the costume designer for the show intended this coat as an homage to classic detectives. Phryne Fisher and Sam Spade all wrapped up in one coat! I’m pretty excited to get started on this soon.