24 December, 2010

Merry Christmas to all!

At last, we've turned the corner on the season:  the winter solstice, our longest night, and its fabulous lunar eclipse, have come and gone, and, in a very few days so will 2010.  I photographed and photomontaged this lunar eclipse with my baby boy about seven years ago, and had hoped to repeat the exercise this week, but was flummoxed by the weather.  I love this moment of the year - the world takes a breather and each day is a few minutes brighter than the last.

My sea and sand jacket is finished, and so is the Sandra Betzina Today's Fit V1036. I'm now working on yet another jacket: V7610.  I'll blog them, and review them.... sometime.  My sewing window is narrowing, and since next year I'll have six sewing-free months, it makes sense right now to focus more on my irrevocable deadline than on up-to-the-minute sharing.

In the spirit of the season, I'm sharing with you  my collection of kolędy, Polish carols, which are the most beautiful traditional Christmas tunes in the world. Us Canadians are lucky to hear them on our national radio station CBC every year.

My own collection is here:  https://docs.google.com/leaf?id=0BwJND8H7q_E_ZTFjMGEzOWEtMWUyMC00Nzc0LTk4NzUtNWU5NDJjZGQyMGVj&hl=en

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you!   

10 December, 2010

Sky and sand pyramids: my take on the V8547 jacket

I'm working on what I call my "sky and sand" jacket. Its construction is still in progress, but very close to completion.  Here's the pattern:


It's a short, double-breasted, lined jacket with a flat collar and in-seam pockets. The combination of bias sleeves and straight front intrigued me. I became even more intrigued when I saw the pattern pieces; especially this, the upper back-sleeve-side front:  

This upper back+sleeve+side front piece is so counter-intuitive!  The narrow part that points to upper right is the side front, while the wide piece pointing to lower right is the upper sleeve. 
There is no shoulder seam - instead, the jacket has a shoulder dart. The two piece sleeve includes an under sleeve that is fitted to the body's side seam with a gusset: the scissors point to the gusset.  Since it's important to make this a neat point, I basted it in, and then, after sewing, topstitched its edges onto the body pieces, to make it nice and smooth in wear.

Undersleeve gusset
The pattern's back design is rather conventional, flat and unfitted.  Like the front, the back pattern piece is one with the upper sleeve.  But of course I couldn't leave well enough alone:  I wanted a jacket that looked as unique in the back as it does in the front. So I added a pleated centrepiece. 

My added back panel at left; Vogue's original lower back and back sleeve pattern piece at right. The diagonal fold lines show my planning process, with the width of the pleat and the sewing allowance. I cut along the leftmost diagonal. 

Back of the jacket, with added central panel.  The collar is just draped over the jacket, not yet sewn in,
Above, hanging over a chair, is the back of the garment, with my added pleat.  I cut it so that the diagonal is on-grain, and the centre forms a pleasing symmetrical design. The pleat edges are edge-stitched to keep them sharp, and will be tacked to the hem when that's completed.

I did run into a bit of a snag at one point, relating to the interfacing.  Both interfaced fronts showed bubbling right where it would show the most: front row centre.  And this was a quality interfacing from a very popular supplier. My solution?  Below:

I sprayed the pieces with water, steamed without pressing, and peeled the interfacings off.  Interestingly, the facings and other bits which were fused in an identical manner but using a different type of interfacing  (from the same supplier) have absolutely no problems. 

I shall re-fuse and continue as soon as the fabric pieces have dried.  Still to be completed are the pockets, the collar (it's only draped on the chair right now), and then the lining.  Easy-peasy!

09 December, 2010

Simplify, simplify, simplify! A simpler neckline.

Several of the tops I've made lately are very simply constructed, with no shoulder seam.  The neckline treatment evolved as I was making them. I bound the first two, but continued to look for a simpler approach.  Finally, I came up with this:

1. An asymmetrically flattened oval template for the neck opening.  It's flatter at the back than at the front, and placed so its long axis is not aligned with the shoulder seam (in the absence of a seam, the shoulder fall line) but shifted towards the front.  The overall circumference should be approximately the same as one's head; it'll enlarge slightly in the finishing step.

2. No binding.  Instead, a line of fine stitching circumscribes the neckline about 1 cm from the cut edge. The edge is then folded over - some clipping is necessary to get the edge to fold over at the tight curves - and stitched down with two lines of very-very short stitches.  

 The second line is created continuously with the first, with a two stitch jog at the end of the first "circumnavigation".  I'm slightly compulsive about tying off thread ends with a tailor's knot and then hiding them into seams, so even this tiny little step is a time-saver for me.

Once the neckline is finished, the flat fabric is folded again and the side seam chalked in and pinned (marked by orange pinheads) - from the right side, since it'll be a French seam. 

04 December, 2010

Why buy poly? Thanks, Mom!

Despite it being December, my declared month of jackets, I'm still working on sleeveless and almost-sleeveless tops.  Apart from that one white shirt, I've done exactly zero long-sleeved tops as yet.  My fiddling with pattern design is slowing me down, yet I can't resist.  But I do now have a nice collection of linen, cotton, and silk tops, and a few lightweight poly ones too.  What?! Poly?! Yes, poly!  the fabric that many of us love to be so snobbish about. 

Ummmm... why on earth would I want to wear polyester in +44°C?!  Well, for starters, it'll be +44 only some of the time.  Better reasons, though, are that:

Poly georgette - the lightweight stuff - breathes.  I always check my fabrics for breathability - I call it the Lauren Bacall method:

Bogie and Bacall, what a great couple.  But yeah, I simply put the fabric up to my lips and blow.  If it doesn't offer any resistance - and these polys of mine certainly don't - I know I'll have a cover-up that'll let the breezes blow in and out and cool me down.

It's indestructible no matter how hot the wash water, or how often you wash it.  I've heard people complain that poly stinks.  But not in my experience:  not if you toss it in the wash after each wearing?  Nor if it's loose enough not to cling?

It's colourfast.  I admit I'm a teeny bit concerned that my linen and cotton tops will turn dingy and drab after a few cycles in the wash, and I'll be left with - gasp! - a suitcase full of nothing to wear!!!  Heheh, here's where the polys will hold their own!

It never wrinkles. So the gal who lives out of a box can occasionally aspire to look like a lovely Rapunzel rather than hideous Rumpled-Stiltskin.

When I was expecting my youngest, my Mom Who Sews made me a three piece outfit out of a poly like that. It consisted of a tank top, a button-down collared shirt, and a wrap skirt that, with velcro and side ties, was able to grow and then shrink right along with me. That was over a decade ago, and I have literally worn that outfit - usually as separates - to death every summer since. To death, yes, except it refuses to die. In fact, it looks as brand new today as it did the day I received it. And, because of its very simple design, it remains chic and timeless.  The way it resists all wear and tear, it'll take a nuclear blast to destroy it.
That's why my money's on a few poly tops as backups if nothing else - just in case.

This latest top is a little different than the last: the side seams are curved, and there's no bottom band. Instead, I used two remnants from this and a slightly different pattern in the same colourway to make a two-sided ascot.  
 I'm not usually a florals type of gal, but I thought a few blue and gold blossoms will do wonders to relieve the unremitting drabness of barren desert and cheer everyone up.

Oh, and am I taking Mom's gift with me on my upcoming junket?  You bet I am.