28 March, 2010

Meet Jalie clam diggers: the well dressed, hopeful, gardener?

...and another long-sleeved Jalie tee (this gardener colour-coordinates to her implement!)  But, brrrr, it's hopeful gardening only today:  it's cold here this afternoon!

This is my first, test jean.  Normally I can easily get a pair of slacks out of 1.5 meters, but this fabric was narrower than the normal 150 cm, so the legs had to overlap - thus the clam-digger length. No matter, it was the body fit I was checking, not the length, and I really did want (& need) a pair of short ones.

I made size U, but I'm wondering if I should've gone a size smaller. Jeans aren't trousers - they should hug! They FEEL loose.  And there seems a bit too much fabric over the front.

It's a bit of a toss-up as to which length I'll go with - I think short, hubby suggests long. What say you?

Backside, you ask?

I knew I'd have to make some back adjustments: I scooped the crotch into an L and downwards about 1.5 cm, and took in the waist 3 cm on each side of CB.  So I changed the order of construction a bit: the two waistband halves were added first, and then the back was fitted (like with men's trousers). Only after I was happy with the fit, I sewed on the pockets and inserted the loops into the waistband; I had to open little sections for the loops, but as the waistband was being topstitched afterwards, that was fine. Finally, after the waistband was topstitched all around twice, I bar-tacked the loops to the top.

Actually everything else is topstitched too, though you wouldn't know it, as I used matching thread this time - I didn't want to fiddle with contrast hassles while fitting etc.  All the topstitching is done using the triple stretch stitch, so the pants won't be likely to pop when I bend down to pet a plant ;) gardening is a serious sport around here!

I'd welcome constructive criticism on this pair before I cut into my next iteration - yes really, please!!! I've never made jeans before so I'm totally tickled how these came together - and all the credit goes to Jalie's drafting, of course!

24 March, 2010

In the Trenches

Even up here in the Great White North we're rapidly running out of winter.  My beloved shade garden has been snow-free for a week, the front is abloom with snowdrops, and irises, daffodils, tulips and daylilies are in a mad upward race.  I'm loving it.

During our mini-heatwave last week, many of my co-commuters traded their parkas for trench coats.  Some are hanging on to them still, despite the fact that the weather's cooled down again. I HAVE a trench coat - though it's pretty old it's still a very nice one, in a dark teal jewel tone techno fabric, fully lined, long against the rains, double breasted, and nice and loose - just how I like it. So I don't really NEED a new one - but I'd dearly love to HAVE one. A classic taupe. Shorter, more fitted, neutral-coloured . Yes yes yes, I have the fabric(s), the lining, the pattern(s).  I'm like the donkey who dies of starvation because he can't decide which carrot will be tastier. 

While I decide if/when to make one, I browse Burberry's Art of the Trench.  Go see it - every size, colour, and shape. Fun!

22 March, 2010

Möbius Made Marvellously Easy

A Möbius band is a topological wonder: a two-dimensional entity happily residing in a three dimensional world.  It has only one edge and one flat side.

What is it about a Möbius scarf that makes it look so attractive?  It's the half-twist.  Without it, the plain loop looks like what it is: a simple short & wide cylinder hanging on a vertical cylinder (your neck).  But that half-twist is a trompe l'oeil effect that turns the flat cylinder into a graceful bias; or, at least, makes it look that way. It gives you the lovely, fabric-greedy, expensive bias drape appearance on straight-grain cheap.  Best of all, it can be dead easy to make. But, as I'll show below, if you try a slightly different approach, the results can be hilarious!

Start with a rectangle of fabric twice as high and as long as you'd like it to be (plus two seam allowances in each direction; wine is optional).  If you want to wear a single loop, 30" (75cm) will suffice; if you want to double or even triple it around your neck, increase the long dimension appropriately.

Fold this in half along the long axis with right sides together, and sew the long seam, leaving a gap large enough for your hand near one end.  I like to backstitch and clip off only one thread, leaving the other one long enough to sew up the gap once the scarf's finished.

Turn the scarf right side out, and fold it so that both raw edges are at left. Give it one twist as you do that - now the seam crosses under from the top to the bottom of the piece.

Lay the two ends one on the other and pin the right sides together; notice the seams are on opposite sides of the two openings.

Now reach into the little gap in the long seam and pull the pinned sections completely out through it. It's just like bagging the lining on a sleeve hem through a gap in the side seam of a jacket's lining.  Match up the rest of the two ends (they're one inside the other now - AHA!), and sew them completely together.  Once that's done, pull the scarf right side out again.

Now use that long thread and sew up the little gap. Your Möbius scarf is done!

Ready now for the "don't do this at home" trick?  You might wish to be "clever" (ahem) and simplify matters. You might want to sew the short edges together from the wrong side - thinking that it's easier to do that, and just turn the completed loop inside out once finished.  Heck, why on earth not?!

So you do your half twist, place and then pin the raw ends right sides together....

Sew up that short edge, and - you might think - you're all done, except for turning the lovely little scarf right side out.   Right......? 

Right!!! But your results aren't quite what you expected, are they?  Instead of a low but wide loop, you made a tall and skinny one.  Surprised?!  I sure was. 

Perfect if you happen to be one of the lovely Karen ladies, who are famous for having the longest necks in the world. 

That's topology for you, kids!  Live and learn.

21 March, 2010

Joli Jalie weekend - part 2, aka: thinking out of the envelope

My 3rd Jalie tee was this fine little leopard (meow!). I had only 80 cm of it. Because it had a repeating vertical pattern, something had to be done to ensure the fabric wasn't all nilly-willy, so this is all I could do: barely below-elbows sleeves, and NO neck-warmer. Boo hoo. I did consider placing the sleeves so that they'd be dark along the outside (matching the body) but that would've placed bright spots in my armpits - nyeh. I chose "look-at-me" biceps instead.  Notice I rounded the Vee neck for a low-crew neck look.  And notice the matching front&back skunk-leopard stripes down the centre. And how nicely the neck binding is matched to what's below it. 

With all of the above well under control, I decided I have just the ticket to verify how the true crew actually plays, all the while ALSO trying out a child's version.  

This one is size P (31" chest) - in a nice beefy cotton knit, my FM freebie (thank you, FM!  yes some of you will recognize the shade for my rusty coral cashmere coat's interlining).  The kid's actually a size smaller, but he's a Real Boy - trust me, he'll never want to wear skintight clothing. The tee fits (though the sleeves are a tad too long) and the kid's cute, trust me.

[Mom-brag-alert:  I made the pants too - a washable wool-poly herringbone, yes they're dreadfully saggy now because the elastic's died & gone to heaven after too many cycles in the dryer, but he swears they're the warmest, comfiest pants he has. He wore them round the clock in winter - two winters, as a matter of fact, as he's already outgrown last year's version from the same fabric (that's why sewing for kids is such a THANKLESS chore) - END of Mom-brag]

My thinking out of the envelope moment came when I foolishly visited Fabricland to replace a double needle I broke (grrrr) on a pin yesterday afternoon, and came home with, um, a couple (three, actually) more knits for tees, plus.....

..... this crinkle rayon. I love its colour scheme - it's VERY ME, red and black, with a touch of gold, white, and brown thrown in.  Not a knit, but I applied it to the Jalie tee pattern nevertheless.  Because it's a woven, I widened all vertical seams (including the sleeves) about 0.5 cm.  I needn't have bothered: the sleeves are very loose, as is the hem. I rounded the neck again, but it gapped a bit, so I took two little tucks to make it rectangular instead - you can see it quite well on the right.  The left-over scrap became a cowl:

It's a Moebius band, ie, a single loop with a half-twist: I like it!

(((Gratuitous sexy hubby shot (I'm feeling first-day-of-spring-silly):  just look at those giant come-hither paws! Swoon!!!     Disclaimer: I made NOTHING that's he's wearing - not even his tee!)))

I have some more knits. The left one is a poly, in a deliberate experiment to see how poly knits actually wear. For example, do they breathe?

...but really, all of the above are but an exercise in advance of turning these two silk jerseys into something wearable:

I promise not to burden you with any more tees.  Unless they're silk, or make me look like a stick of dynamite in mid-kaboom, or something at least as interesting.

20 March, 2010

A trio of tees: les Jalies sont jolis!

Les très jolis patrons Jalies arrived last night, and I practically leapt on them. Was I surprised? you bet. LARGE format, printed on HEAVY white stock. Realizing I could easily use this pattern for tees for my very own pre-teen très joli garçon, I didn't cut, but instead TRACED my size (V, per my bounteous charms, though my waistline is 3 sizes smaller). The pattern offers four neckline versions: crew, turtleneck, vee, and "Klondike Gold Rush Underwear", ie. a curved Vee with a placket & buttons. Whatever.

After cutting out all the parts for the first version - intended to be the basic long-sleeve crew, by way of a muslin test of the to-spec draft - I nearly had a conniption. Dammit! Whoever arranges the icons on these patterns at Jalie should be summarily FIRED!!!! I mean, honestly - if you saw this:

and this:

and THIS:

you would, wouldn't you, expect that the garment icon refers to the pattern piece that surrounds it, right? Well, nyah-nyah, it does NOT. Idjits!!!

ETA. Example: the two icons on this pattern piece made me believe I was drafting a crew neck. But this piece is for the Vee neckline; the crew pattern piece (views A and B) has the Klondike neckline icon on it. This confusion makes it very easy to err, and err I did.  As a consequence, my tees are all V-neck. No biggie. I like v-necks, but I HATE being made a fool of by some flunkie who seems to think it's too much effort to make sewing a seamless ;) pleasure for the employer's customers.  If you want to get it right the first & every time, just follow the text designations (highlighted in green) and refer to the envelope for what views A, B, C, and D actually look like.

Moving right along. After laundering and drying on HOT, I have three sub-meter lengths of rayon knit from Fabricland, acquired last fall with the idea of eventual tank tops in mind. But you know me, I'm the stingy cutter, right?

First iteration:
I folded both selvedges towards centre, and PIECED (yes I was DETERMINED to make that full muslin out of what I had) one of the sleeves. The left sleeve is vertically bisected by a full length seam - not that you'd ever notice it, with that design!

That scrap of fabric in my hand, you ask? that's my Moebius scarf, out of the scraps. It plays two ways.

Cowl neck:

and, doubled up, "free turtleneck":

I have a long neck that gets easily c-c-c-c-c-cold, so I LOVE to wrap it. That's why I always try to arrange my pattern pieces so that the scraps can be folded into a scarf.

Second iteration:
I placed the vertical seam on centre back. Both sleeves are seamless this time. There's some misprinting weirdness going on near one of the selvedges which I obviously didn't notice 'till after the item was seamed and cut, but this is my spring gardening tee and my hostas won't care.


And the warm-up-me-neckie look again:

Hmmm, I did say three tees, didn't I? Buh-but, the two above give five looks! Oh OK, I have five, yes FIVE more lengths of knit, seven total, one for every day of the week, and two are already pre-washed & will be turned into some sort of tee by the end of the day but it'll be no-outdoor-photos-pitch-black by then and you're already bored, aren't you, and anyway, it's dinner time over here.

17 March, 2010

Forever in blue jeans?

In my previous life, I worked at a university so determinedly egalitarian that us profs had to duke it out with the madding hordes of students for a parking space, my male colleagues lectured in soccer jerseys (on a good day - or worse), and we all lived in jeans. In my case, black ones.

Am I feeling a tad nostalgic for those old days? Nah, I'm just getting a jump on spring, and using the excuse of brilliant weather to model one of my very few jersey outputs from last fall: BWOF 2-2008-123 (note how much lower the neckline is on me than on the model? hmph). I'll be making a bunch more soon, as I've inadvertently stashed a few other rayon knits, and, with the coming of warm weather, will want to use'em up.

To help me with sizing, I bought this cute blue zebra tee while in FL last week. I have a set of Jalie patterns winging their way to me for my casual spring campaign. YES, those FAMOUS jeans, and the updated tee pattern.

Those scruffy old black jeans? Hah, talk about vanity sizing! Gap tall bootcut size 4, and that's in a non-stretch heavy denim. I'll use these jeans' dimensions to make my first Jalie effort.

For the first pair, I'll use this charming scribble stretch cotton, a Vera Wang from Fabric Mart. When ordering, I'd hoped it would be light enough for a dress, but no (the same old story with internet purchases)- so jeans & jackets it is. I'm thinking they'd look perfect with a few strategic splashes of fabric paint on them.

This pinwheel & stripe stretch cotton IS light enough for a blouse or a dress. A shirtdress or a sun dress. Or both.

16 March, 2010

Would YOU take a leopard to work?

The leopard dress, done. No pattern used. Actually, I turned to my La Mia Boutique simple dropped-sleeve sweater dress for the top (shortened to high hip level), and a simple pegged skirt pattern for the bottom section (widened for four 1" pleats front & back, and the top folded down to hip level).

Although the overall look is a bit loose and floppy, I did this on purpose, as this challis is very lightweight (a black cami will take care of the bit of show-through on top) and I didn't want to run the risk of damaging it with pulling and whatnot that's always a risk if a garment's too closely fitted. The skirt is lined with black bemberg to 3 cm above the knee.

The top seems to me a tad too long - viz. the puddling around the waist - and, if I decide it is after some wear, I'll make a horizontal tuck just at the belt attachment, and sew it off invisibly. No biggie. The fabric's very light, and doesn't take kindly to unpicked seams (ahem).

The hip band is long enough to tie into a bow, though I'm not a bow person, and will likely tie a half-bow at most. It's fully interfaced with pro-weft fusible (from Pam Erny, Off the Cuff), and attached only along the horizontal hip seam, leaving about 10 cm space for the knot - that way, I can really tighten it on my hip.

I have another length - 2.5 yds of wool challis, in a cheerful brown-tan-blue-grey pattern, a little heavier than the leopard, that I'd also like to turn into a spring dress, with sleeves. Any suggestions for a must-go-to great pattern?

11 March, 2010

Leopard spots: let's throw down the gauntlet!

In its March 2010 issue, Burda declared itself for the animals in all of us: leopard spots and zebra stripes. Though I'm in the nation's capital, I only get access to any month's BWOF issue in the second - at best - week, long after many other sewists elsewhere have already picked'n'chosen their faves to make, and, lucky them, actually made'em. [I ask you, how fair is that?!]

Back to March '10 Burda: hooray! the natural touch will never go out of style. Leopard spots will find their way to fashion's foremost, no matter what.

I have in mind a lightweight wool challis - a beautiful pure wool, with a dark animal leopard-spot print. I have two luscious yards of the stuff for a dress...from (ETA: sorry, not Gorgeous Fabrics but) Emma One Sock, if you need to know.

I'm thinking of a simple long sleeved dress with some pleating near the neck, and gathering below the waist, perhaps a dropped-waist tie band - and a simple pleated skirt - for a simple, hopefully timeless, garment.

08 March, 2010

Nature as inspiration

That's a ring-billed gull at upper left; three elegant terns, very stylish with their black mohawk hairdos and bright orange bills; a black skimmer in lovely dark brown plumage in the centre; and, rocking dark red stockings and bills, four laughing gulls.

What unifies these is the idea of various shades of black, brown, grey, and white, with yellow, orange, and red as accents. I totally could see dressing like a gull, skimmer, or tern: grey or brown jacket, a coordinating darker shade of grey, black or brown skirt/pants, black or dark red shoes/boots, a white blouse or dress with a bright flame-coloured accessory (scarf, hat, belt, gloves, purse, etc), or alternatively, a bright coloured blouse with a long brilliant white scarf and hat....

The range of possibilities these birds suggest is wonderful. And life - aka our fave fabric providers - offers us so many wonderful options for shades and textures of grey with which to begin the fun....

Stella McCartney
and Givenchy must've been strolling the same beach when designing their collections - pairing exactly that concept of neutral and grey/black/white, with brilliant yellow-orange-red accents. Timeless.

07 March, 2010

Paris RTW Fall 2010

For something a little different, check out Pedro Lourenço - one doesn't see the leather ladder+beads and overlays on organza too often. I'm a fan of leather+fabric combinations anyway, and they've been appearing more frequently in recent years.

But it doesn't have to be organza - the concept lends itself to any other fabric combination, a jersey or even doubleknit, for example, so the garment has some give around all that leather.

Good colour-blocking shapes there. Check him out.

did a great daywear collection this time. The one long/one short sleeve concept with diagonal draping is superb, and the collection shows several examples of it.

Loved Azzaro... and the unique leather shapes of Haider Ackermann....

Comic relief? Well, Junya Watanabe's hair-as-hat conceit is distracting as all heck, but despite that, his well seamed coats and jackets are beautiful and flattering. And Undercover did a great Farmer-In-The-Dell-Goes-Urban collection. My mind kept wandering to Colin Firth in Pride & Prejudice the whole time I was browsing this one; that's as pleasant a thought as any to end on.

05 March, 2010

My NY fabric haul

Sharing one's fabric addiction acquisitions is just the ticket when one is away from the sewing machine on an impromptu vacation business in Florida.

The V7975 jacket was so-so close to being finished before I had to fly off, what with bagging etc all done... so close and yet so far. Yeah, I'm an Olympics groupie. Especially the winter O's - I love winter, hey sue me. Above is a shot of the dark brown silk jacquard I chose for the outfit's lining. I also had a very nice dark blue jacquard, but it was just a bit too in-your-face contrasty with the FF - so low key brown it is, in keeping with the overall "low key classic" idea I've been holding onto in making this outfit. The already-completed top is lined with the same stuff, as is the skirt.

My silk jacquards are not from NY - I got them last year during FFC's silk blowout. I adore silk jacquard - the weaves that create the pattern also add body and make the fabrics totally wrinkle-resistant. And to think they cost less than bemberg lining!

On to NY Fashion District:

I found this very soft pinkish-red gabardine in the same menswear store where I got the brown/blue cashmere currently in progress.

My favourite store in NY Fashion district? It has to be NY Elegant Fabrics.

What I did NOT get at NY E ?

1: wool sateen. I fell in love with their selection of this amazing fabric, but couldn't figure out how I could use it - so decided to wait "till next time". Gentle Reader, advise me on how to use wool sateen, please!

Other stuff I did NOT get at NY Elegant?

2: linen knit - why? it was black, coarse, and felt scratchy. I was tempted but my experience is that black will cook you in summer no matter how nice the fabric. Even though I expect the fabric would've softened in the wash.

3: Missoni knit - why? the colourway was "everything but the kitchen sink", and it was strictly viscose. I'd rather work with a limited palette, and wool.

Moving on to other stores:

Kashi persuaded me to adopt a few lengths of silk, including a couple of new arrivals. He laughs that the stuff sells itself, and he's right. The solid brown is a silk jersey, and the rest "just" twills. Beautiful, dreamy twills.

At Mood Fabrics, I sought out this amazing heathered silver&blue linen jersey:

It was fine, it was soft, it'll make the greatest top for summer wear.

Last (BNL), I got this beautiful cream-brown-black wool tweed at Mood - it's my next-to-do spring outfit.