29 November, 2010

With dimensions: a trapezoid tanktop design

Continuing with my variations on the pleating theme, I thought to simplify the overlapping fronts plus shoulder pleats with this design:
 It doesn't get much simpler, does it?  Originally I wanted to have the shoulder "seam" shirred to about 10 cm/4", and to minimize the bulk in that area, made the top of the garment on a fold.  There's actually no shoulder seam at all.

This fabric (an uber-lightweight silk crepe from Fashion Fabrics Club) does very well to show the construction, with its horizontal pattern theme (in flat fabric, the rivers really are perfectly horizontal).  Once I saw it in the mirror like this, it became clear that shirring these lovely waves was going to be just too much. No, it would downright ruin what's already a great feature.  So I left it as is.

The  neckline is bound with not-quite-45-degrees bias, armholes are folded over twice, side seams frenched, and the bottom band is doubled and stitched in the ditch.  Not a single raw or serged edge to be seen anywhere! The top uses practically every scrap of  exactly one yard of 42" width fabric.

Edit: by request, actual measurements.

 These are the finished dimensions.  The raw fabric pieces were:

Main body:  79 cm/31" wide x 112cm/44" long, folded in half along the top. Because the fabric is very light and hard to cut perfectly straight, I allowed 2cm/0.75" for each double fold on the sleeves. The bottom is tapered to 56cm/22" wide.  The diagonals start 21.5cm/8.5" below the fold, and that's also where diagonal seam ends.  The front neckline is cut in a curve that drops it about 3.5cm/1.5" lower than the back, which is straight across.

Bottom band:  a single piece of fabric, 109cm/43" x 20.5cm/8".  I attached it after only one vertical/diagonal seam was sewn, and then sewed it closed in one go with the other vertical/diagonal seam.

The pants, a teeny beige-white pinstripe, are a silk-linen blend from Michael's.

27 November, 2010

The coin toss gets it: 3 out of 5!

We had to wait till a daytime moment while both I and my lucky charm child were home - aaaaand .... just completed the winning coin toss:   ta-daaaah!

Winner (I'm not telling - you'll have to watch the video!)*, please email me (hostahead at gmail dot com) your addy, and I'll post you the pattern. Of course, you WILL make something within the week, and post it for all of us to admire, right? ;)  I'm keeeeding!

Thanks to you both, Ann and Deborah, for giving me the opportunity to have this little bit of fun!

*(oh, OK - I'll tell in a week or so).

23 November, 2010

An experiment in draping

Having first explored the slicing and dicing approach to tee variability, I turned to draping.

The one-shoulder wonders from Burda's Nov. 2010 issue, though a tad impractical for everyday wear (understatement!) or even a daytime Christmas party (lots of those creeping up on many of us!), do have potential.

It occurred to me that they could easily be adapted to something a little more wearable. Especially so when you look at the pattern pieces; top 105 and dress 106:

 What are they, exactly? An adaptation of a tee: one shoulder is removed above the armhole,  and the other side widened sufficiently to make the shoulder seam twice as wide as normal.

It's easy enough to reproduce if you happen to have a "cut one on fold" sleeveless tee pattern piece.

I first redrew the complete front (the right half with a dashed line), then matched the lower right corner of the original half-pattern piece to the drawing and rotated it to the right so the shoulder seam was widened to twice its original width.  Free-handed the neckline curve to the opposite armscye, and cut away the no-longer-needed shoulder piece (marked with X). 

As a last step, after verifying that the overall width was more than sufficient, I pleated out the bust dart.

To make my tee, I cut two fronts and gathered their shoulders to the shoulder seams of my regular tee back. 

I bound the entire neck seam before sewing up the sides; because the two fronts' overlap is quite high, there's absolutely no need to attach them to each other.

I made this up in a very lightweight and sheer polyester crinkle crepe, too light to be a single layered front, but perfect if doubled. The back, in "coffin clothes" fashion, is a plain single layer, but I plan to cover it with a lightweight white blouse ;) at the very least.  

Overall, the effect is oh so modest.  But - if you wanted to have something a little less daytime, you could duplicate a similarly double layered back, gather the shoulders some more and curve the diagonal seam a little lower.  Why not even run that neckline curve below rather than above the bust?

21 November, 2010

White blouse #1 finished, and planning the second

Without much ado, blouse #1:

And here, with the belt - which I made loooooong enough for sure - wrapped twice around.  No doubt it'll also look better without the second belt holding up my jeans under it: you can see how it thickens up the hipline (yuk!).

You can also see just how very light is this fabric - doing a turned edge really wouldn't have worked, I fear. 

Completely see through - it'll never be worn IRL without a tank or cami under it.

Evaluating it for the design, I had deliberately made the shoulder line a little dropped, but now that I see it in action, I do believe that I'd prefer those seams to sit on, not fall off, my shoulder point.  Easy enough, and I already shifted them upwards by 1.5" before I put the pattern pieces away.  The waist darts in the back look like they could be brought in towards centre a little as well.

I'm thinking that my second blouse will share a few similarities with this one:  a cut-on collar and a waist tie.  I plan to base it on Burda 105-6-2009, a pattern which I already used some time ago to make this reversible silk dupioni jacket:

This one has an absurdly dropped shoulder.  You might think that this was my poor quality fitting, but not so! I cut my usual 38 and stay-stitched the necklines to ensure they don't stretch, and, if you look at the model jacket on a dummy, the dropped shoulder is quite evident.  Maybe someone in the drafting department forgot to shorten the shoulder of a jacket sloper originally intended to have linebacker shoulder pads (hello, eighties)?!   which of course are impossible to put into a reversible garment.  Whatevah - I'll just shorten the shoulder seams so the sleeves actually reach my shoulder. 
Here's what I like about this jacket:  the armhole princess seams, which shift the waist tie closer to centre, from way off on the side seam.  I'll change the collar-less lapels to a cut-on collar, and, instead of making it reversible, I'll -probably - add a facing as I did to the lightweight shirt above. Or, if I choose a heavier fabric, just do a facings-less hem and front edge, though I'll probably do at least an interfaced undercollar.

18 November, 2010

Vogue pattern giveaway

As before, I'm inviting you again to help me divest my sewing space of my duplicate patterns.  Vogue's error, they once sent me two boxes of one order. This one is Very Easy Vogue V8436, now out of print, size 6 to 12. 

I love a raglan sleeve, and, with front chest darts, this pattern has good bones.  It would be ever so easy to add front &/or back waist darts to add some shaping, change the shape of the sleeve, straighten the front, add a fold-down collar.... or not.  Now that I think of it, I just might use my copy for my next white blouse.

To be included in the draw (7 days from today), be a follower, and leave a comment here.  That's all!  Shipping's on my dime, of course.

14 November, 2010

Slicing and dicing a simple TNT

The problem with having to make quantities of anything is that the process very quickly goes stale unless you the hobby seamst/ress/er do something to ramp up the amusement factor. 

I'm still working on tees (and will be till the end of Nov), but have just about exhausted the amusement factor out of cutting them on the bias.  So I translated this:

to this:

Cutting through the side dart, I separated the front into a yoke and a two-piece overlapping bodice.You can see that the new pattern includes the dart shaping in the horizontal seam. The back is treated the same way, except the horizontal seam is just that: a seam; it adds no shaping.

I originally cut the bodice diagonal with a bit of a curve, but my first result ended up a bit ripply, so the next ones are cut with the diagonal straight and on-grain.  The overlapping pieces aren't attached together except at the horizontal seam.

This pattern just LOOOOVES stripes!  This blue cotton knit is lightweight but has no lycra and very little give, so I treated it just like a woven. I staved off the boredom factor by making it a boatneck and adding sleeves.  I decided on the sleeves after the yokes were already cut, then realized that I have to widen and deepen the sleeve cap to compensate for the fact that the tanktop armscye is cut differently than a sleeved tee's.

Remembering my near-fiascos with other fabrics with less stretch than the Jalie pattern - far less, in one case -  I cut the sleeves waaaay wider, then ended up taking them in, and in, and in.... it felt a little like "guerilla sewing".

 I then shifted gears to the first of my light-as-air silk crepes:

In this case, I changed the bodice to a one piece, with a box pleat in the front.  Sides and shoulders are french-seamed, while the bottom is selvedge - no hemming!  The armscyes and neck are serged, turned in & topstitched, and that resulted in my only error:  they're a little too big, so I'm hoping a little clear elastic will snug'em up.  I should've added 1 cm to them to compensate for the serge+fold!

12 November, 2010

Make a Keyhole Scarf for someone you love!

Like your sister, your mother, your daughter, ...., yourself! 

Kay and I let ourselves loose on the silk chiffons on sale at our local Fabricland yesterday, and I thought: what a perfect opportunity to try something I've been meaning to do ever since I saw the concept demonstrated.

The Keyhole Scarf!
 This one is made out of a 60cm cut of silk chiffon, 140 cm selvedge to selvedge. The length offers multiple wearing possibilities:

Ankh: looped once around and through the keyhole...

Artless: long end looped back around the neck

Ascot: looped back around the neck and tucked into the loop
This is definitely on my "make for the women in my life" Christmas list.  And that says a lot, because I'm not the "make stuff for people" type of crafty person AT ALL.

You already saw my little tutorial on the Möbius scarf - now pop on over to Kay's and Threads' tutorials for the Keyhole scarf. 

09 November, 2010

Redesigning Very Easy

For my first white blouse I decided to go with a Very Easy Vogue 7998 wrap design. It's now out of print. I  believe I originally bought it because of its "very easy" label. I do like the lay of the collar and the big tie.

 I still like the cut-on collar - it gives a lot of bang for the buck - and the casual yet dressy feel.  But once I took a look at the pattern pieces and the instructions, I decided I don't like it quite so much for my fabric:  a very lightweight cotton voile. I was afraid all the pulling and tugging would do short work of the fabric, and I was a bit put off by all the hemming it requires.  Sooo - I redesigned the pattern a tiny bit.

I always wanted to have a shirt with square armholes, and this pattern seemed to be the perfect integrated basic shape that could be easily converted.

There's a cleverly concealed bust dart in the not-very-right angle of the front piece.  I also wanted the collar and the front curved edge to have a little more body and stability, so I created a front facing.  The ties will be long and skinny, and they'll attach to the logical place, the bottom of the front curve/top of straight edge, with a slit in the left side seam, to wrap all the way around the back.  Hum, it's no longer a very easy pattern - just a regular one!

The nice thing is, if I decide to use the original pattern on a fabric with more body, the original lines are still perfectly visible so potentially I can return to it.

ETA: Angela asks about show-through.  Indeed it's quite light, but this is intended as an over-blouse whose main purpose is to protect my skin from scorching sun and ubiquitous dust, so there'll always be a tanktop under it.  If it makes it back to Canada in any shape, I'm immodest enough to dare a casual outing with a skin-tone undergarment. Ahem. Maybe. In the garden, as the proverbial rose amongst the thorns.

07 November, 2010

"Sky and sand" cotton jacquard pyramids: Soliciting YOUR advice

While I'm dithering on the white blouse, my mind is already racing ahead to next  month's projects.  I recently bought a few yummy yummy fabrics from Emma One Sock.  Today I'll discuss only one of them:
Click to see it really up close!
Gorgeous, eh?  Turquoise, dark teal, purple, and sand, with gold edging to the triangles, and all woven together in quite a striking jacquard.  Cotton, I think.  Washed well, and irons very well.

It has no crosswise stretch whatsoever, but it does have a (very) little lengthwise, so that's why it's hanging (on an ironing board, with a meter stick for scale) with the selvedge running horizontally.  That said, the stretch is so small that it probably makes no difference - the fabric would probably work just as well with the diamonds oriented the  other way.

Next month I'll want to make a jacket out of it.  It'll be one of my wardrobe's anchor pieces next year, and it'll see lots of wear.  How about YOU  point me to a pattern you'd find suitable for this cloth, and tell me what technical challenges I'd have to overcome.  Yeah, help me out.  Please.  I have a terrifically tough time making decisions. And the blogosphere is so full of wonderfully creative fabric artists - yes, you!  So have a little fun: you get play with outré ideas, I get to do all the work :)

Here's another shot to help you visualize it in the "correct" direction.

Go for it!

ETA:  After laundering, I have exactly 2 yards of this fabric, and it's 59" across.

(and thank you for your intriguing suggestions so far!)

06 November, 2010

How sewing fights boredom

 Simple:  play with your TNT pattern!

My last of this week's five tanktops is this ultra-lightweight cotton woven, finished just in time for dinner.  I got so deathly bored with four consecutive iterations of vented sides that I decided it needed a great big floppy bow to offset the, um, masculine to me, except for the colour of course, thread-woven plaid pattern.

The plaid is another of my Fabric Flea Market finds, picked expressly to go with the periwinkle, aka scrubs-coloured, linen (the UFO to  my left, courtesy of hubby-photographer :))).  As you see above, I have a little of the periwinkle linen left over - but the fabric is narrow, and it has some discolouration at one end - I may not be able to make an overblouse of it after all.

The hem band's execution is far from perfect, I'm afraid, but let's gloss over that:  no one but me will ever notice.  Better to focus on the wide-leg, but perfectly well-fitted linen trousers:

These are one of my elastic waistband super-fast jobs.  To make them work-worthy, I sewed front & back creases onto the legs.  Yes, they're loose fitting, but still a darn good fit in the butt, no?  

I do believe it's now time to turn to white blouse #1......

Tanks two to four

To finish the week, two tops in a very lightweight olive handkerchief linen, and one in a coarser, but very soft, zebra print linen, shown above.  There are minor variations on a theme here:  #2 is on the straight grain, #3 has a bias front, #4 is bias front & back with CF & CB seams, and a subtle v-neck both front & back.  I also lifted the bust darts and carved out a little bit at the waistline on #4, which gives it a very nice fitted tunic-y look & feel.

Here you can see them with potential matching overblouse fabrics: a very lightweight cotton voile with a cool combination of colours that include olive, grey, cream and pink/peach, and a solid sand-coloured lightweight linen (already laundered and clearly not yet re-pressed).  The linen was originally intended for another pair of slacks, but honestly - I do believe I already have enough of those!

I thought I could finish all five by week's end, but the last one didn't make it under the needle.  Yet.  I might finish it today. 

Carrying on!

02 November, 2010

Week One of tanks

No, silly, not the big ones with stuff that goes bang on top!  Little sleeveless ones!!!
Using my self-developed pattern, I cut out five from remnants of the pants linens and one very cheerful lightweight cotton plaid (!), and have been plonking along on them since the weekend.  Ten minutes one morning here, an hour of an evening there.... just pecking away at the task, slowly but surely.  Here's the first I actually finished, in a very fine black/white stripe.  The fabric is a $5 find from the Fabric Flea Market that sufficed for both trousers and top. By the feel of it, it's a cotton-linen blend.

Of the five of them, three have bias-cut fronts, two of them with CF seam; a couple have a CB seam as well.  At this point, I think all, like the one here, will have flat felled seams, bound neck & armscyes (sp?), plus vented sides.  There's a reason for all the compulsive over-finishing, and it's that (so I hear) the laundry service over there is very harsh on clothes.  I'd rather put in a little effort up front than find my work falling apart in week 3 of the adventure.  Right?  of course right. 

 I did make an effort to make the bindings as narrow as possible, and this one isn't bad (I've done worse).  The trick is to use a very short stitch and then trim the excess to a scant 1/8 inch (2.5 mm?).  The side darts could come up 1 cm higher or so, I think, and the neckline might drop a smidgen in some of the others.  But overall - especially with a blouse or jacket on top - eminently wearable!

ETA:  all my tops are simple pull-ons.  The back neckline is scooped out about 2 cm (~1") below the neck bump, so there's plenty of room for my head.  There's a little shaping to the side seam as well, but I've kept the CF & CB seams - when they're present - straight.  

I do all of these in the flat:  sew both bust darts, flat fell one shoulder seam, attach neckline binding, flat fell other shoulder seam (catching the open binding in the seam - there's a bit of tricky little trimming that always has to happen here), turn over & stitch-in-the-ditch the neck binding, attach both armscye bindings, flat fell both side seams (pressing the vent SA's at the same time),  finish armscye bindings, press hems, sew all around hems and vents in one go, hide all thread ends, press it all one last time, toss on the done pile, repeat.  ;)