26 April, 2010

Corduroy capers

Being in the throes of an utterly fabulous spring, I persuaded my child to part with his fave (mom-made) wool slacks. Kids being the perfidious creatures that they are, the only way I succeeded in prying the wool off his legs was, a la matador, by waving some new mom-made slacks in his general direction.
 One of the really great things about accumulating fabric for oneself is that useful freebies do periodically accrue. Here, two lengths of fine-wale cotton corduroy.  Nice enough, but not necessarily what I see myself wearing to work. Freshly armed with the confidence in trouser-making that the Jalie jeans and, not least, Jalie instructions, recently gave me, I knocked out two pairs (one olive, one blue) from the Burda 9699 slacks pattern above. Loose fitting indeed!  Why is it that pattern companies assume that you're going to squeeze your child's belly like Mammy did Scarlett's (You done had a baby, Miss Scarlett, an' you ain' never goin' to be no eighteen an' a half inches again - never.)  Really, if not for the fact that I added elastic to the back waistband, he'd probably have had to wait till next spring to wear them.  I confess I omitted the back pockets - as a matter of fact, I had to fight hard my urge to sew the front pockets shut too - kids slouching about with their fists stuffed in pockets - precisely like in the pattern pics above - are one of my pet peeves. These are the first pants with pockets I made for him, actually.

Moving on.  I realized I had just enough remnants left over to make a very nice unlined spring jacket to match the two pants pairs.  Yes, using the Burda 9700 pattern above. 

I managed to squeeze out two pockets, upper collar, upper cuffs, and cuff openings with the blue. And was lucky indeed to find buttons of the exact shade of brilliant blue.  Dad gets the credit for the matching blue headphones :)

As things go, this was a relatively painless set of projects.  The Singer buttonholer is a veritable godsend! No pain buttonholes henceforth, oh thank you Mr. Singer!  Lovely, quick, easy, beautifully reproducible.  Not only that, but since I already had the cover over the feed teeth, for the first time in my sewing career I tried to sew the buttons on by machine (using the zig-zag stitch).  Whaddya know, it worked!  Six buttonholes and six buttons all done before morning coffee got cold - a winning morning!

I also learned something very useful with this project:  sewing corduroy is delightful - the stuff sticks together like glue, seams stay straight, fabric doesn't overstretch, and as long as one remembers not to overpress, especially from the right side, the results are very consistent and pretty.  Shhhhh! don't tell the boy child - he's of an age when pretty no longer applies.

09 April, 2010

Did you notice????!!!

Pattern Review has added a nifty little tweak to its Comments feature: the commenter's icon now appears along with her (or, albeit rarely, his) comment.

For example:  this one!   Now, when checking out all the pats & brickbats your sewing mates choose to give you for your effort, you can attach a face - or not, as in (ahem) yours truly's instance - to the kudos and guffaws.   And, we never forget a face, do we? So this will aid in keeping things civil. Won't it?  Yes. Indeed.  Emphatically.

Love it! A wonderful touch! Thank you, Deepika!

Oh, and BTW: Did You Know? 

04 April, 2010

Scribble jeans!

 Today Yesterday I decided to try production line sewing. A few stretch cottons from an internet vendor were ordered. After ordering them, I noticed that our Fabricland was selling stretch denim for a song. So I grabbed a couple - er, few - of those too.  Moral: if one needs fabric, it's advisable to check locally before paying for international shipping.

So I thought, OK, can do - two at once?  Why not?  I laid the two (pre-washed, ironed flat, folded lengthways) fabrics one on top of the other, and then placed my Jalie jeans pattern pieces on top. I'm a scissors cutter, and my scissors are getting dull - so I cut two fabric thicknesses at a time.

I had transferred my pattern changes from my muslin clamdiggers onto  the pattern pieces, feeling fortunate the changes were few and straightforward: a small downward scoop of the back crotch, and a big tuck of the back waist. To that, I added a reduction of upper front, by tipping the zipper to decrease front waist by 1 cm (each side). Roll your eyes if you will, but I grew up in paint-me-on jeans, and that's the way I like'em. Not that I intend to dress like that at work.... well, maybe for casual Friday. We'll see.

Today then I made two pairs of jeans. I set up my trusty old 20+ year old Kenmore and my lovely nearly-new serger on the dining table, and a crotchety old lady in my study upstairs.  The old lady did the hardest work of them all: topstitching.

Just look at her: up at the crack of dawn, working hard on the back yoke of my scribble jeans.  This gal belonged to my husband's grandmother, and was passed down the generations... yes, a real family treasure, very well worn around the edges, crotchety to the nines, noisy, smelly, slow....temperamental to a T... took a lot persuasion to get the job done, but still. She doesn't just pre-date me: she pre-dates my grandmother!!!  Really. Can you just imagine?  Four generations of homo sapiens have been born, and three are still living, since this old biddy's first year on Earth.

My husband tells me he remembers this old lady in use by various and sundry adults in his home when she was still a treadle.  While he was only a young child, she was modernized to a motor drive with knee-actuator. Have you ever tried to sew with your thighs?  It gives the adductors a good workout, and far more productive than anything they'd be working in a gym! Funny thing is, I'm so accustomed to sewing with a foot pedal (which takes ever so little muscle energy) that I'd automatically slip off my right shoe, only to realize I'd be a hapless, prince-less Cinderella at thee olde machine.

Another interesting tidbit: the bobbin was modernized at the same time as the old gal was electrified; incredibly, the bobbin and bobbin holder are identical to those in my trusty old Kenmore.  Interested in more Singer machine history?  Take a fascinating long look through Alex Askaroff's Singer Through The Ages.

There's something charming, nay magical, about getting a pair of I'm-so-modern jeans sewn up by a piece of equipment already owned by a family member over a hundred years ago!

Ahem, don't look too closely.  Yes the hems are sagging, because I was running out of daylight.  And the (lovely linen self-drafted pattern) top (made last year) is covering the waistline because (cough-cough) the belt-loops are just tucked in, and the waistband just held together with a pin -that's what evenings are for, people!

In other news, El Nino decided to give us the most incredible Easter weekend in living memory. We clocked 29C at the airport yesterday:  that's 11C warmer than the previous maximum recorded in over 70 years.  July weather.  So I was not only 1. playing Easter Bunny; 2. playing with my sewing machine(s),  3. making two pairs of jeans; I had to 4. take my silly old lawnmower out for a spin (in the second pair of barely-finished-today brand new Jalie jeans).

So, that's my Easter Sunday.  Loved every second of it.

Scribble, scribble...

01 April, 2010

Let me call you Sweethearts - updated with pics

Isn't it the most charming song?  I love music, and couldn't resist.

Can you sewing power gals guess what I'm on about?  I'm sure Kay (TSL) can - (can't you, Kay?) - as she's partly responsible for it!

I'm in the process of perfecting my personal fit of the Jalie Sweetheart top 2794.

Just finished my 2nd iteration, and I'll update this post with photos tomorrow morning (now updated, see below), after the sun smiles on the day. And a glorious day (superglorious Easter weekend!) it's going to be over here.  So, on to the photos!

Above, iteration #1 in blue argyle.  It was fine, except for the lengths of the bindings.  The pattern said, 23 cm for the front, and 37.5 for the neckline+yokes.  37.5?!!!!!!!!!!!!!  That has GOT to be an error, I thought. Throwing a tape measure around my neck and to my armpits, I measure an unstretched minimum of 65 cm, and that's without accounting for the much larger than minimum curves of neckline and yokes.  I was (and still am) convinced that 37 cm would strangle me!  But, you wouldn't believe it, the pattern does NOT say 37.5 times two: just 37.5, not a single millimeter more.  I doubled it anyway, to 75 cm. (ETA: yes, it was supposed to be doubled; their location for the fold marking was in an unusual place is all - very confusing, but all's well that ends well. I'm just glad I'm a compulsive measurer, otherwise, I might not be alive to write this ;) - just imagine, strangled by my own sewing machine!)

Once completed, the top felt.... loose.... floppy....and I spent two additional evenings shortening both bindings: front to 19 cm, and neckline too, by cutting off 5 cm.  Considering I had to unpick a whole bunch of 4-thread serging and this was a measly $5 of fabric, do you think I could've just tossed the thing and started over?  Oh yeah, surely I could've and probably should've, but not stubborn old me: I persevered, all the while quietly bitching about the time 'twas awastin'. Unpicking a serged seam has got to rank right up there as one of the most thankless tasks in sewing.  Believe it!

But shorten them I did and wear it I shall, mostly because this happens to be a fabric that hubby picked out, and he truly loves it.  It's a very guy sort of print, blue argyle is, and definitely out of my usual space, but isn't it nice to wear something that gives your  fan club a little pleasure? 

On to iteration #2, out of same thin rayon knit (different colourway of COURSE).  I cut the front binding to 19 cm, and the yokes/neckline binding to 65 cm.  Whaddya know, it worked out pretty beautifully.  I wouldn't want it any smaller - it could do with being up to 5 cm longer, too, if I felt like exposing a tad more of my bony upper real estate. Clavicles, anyone?

I changed the order of construction a little: it's wonderful how just a little experience can make a simple top come together more easily.  After putting on the front binding, I sewed on the yoke/neck binding to both front sides, (leaving the neck part loose - you have to be careful not to put in an extraneous twist there!) and stitched the front edges of these sections of binding down onto the front, so they don't curl backwards. It's much easier to do that on flat fabric without sleeves and back panel getting in the way than after the entire top is completed.  I then put the yokes to the back along the shoulder seams, and THEN sewed the yokes and back neckline onto the entire yoke/neck binding.

I made the bindings a little wider, and I prefer this look; it's also easier to sew, as it has a little extra SA, and these knits are light, loose, and liquid.  This time, I was also a little more cavalier about serging off the seam allowances on armscyes, sleeves and sides, and the overall fit is better. Better than any of the previous ones, I think. As it is, this is a size smaller than the 2805's I've been playing with last week.

Since I was tracing three Jalie tops almost simultaneously, I compared the shapes of 2794, the 2805 tee, and the faux wrap top 2449.  You may be surprised to hear that they're NOT all identical. For example, sleeve shapes differ.  More to the point, the hem of 2794 size U is at least 2 sizes narrower than the 2805's size U.  Is Jalie making allowances for the fattening of North America, ie, its clientele?  Tsk! I'd prefer to know that size U follows the same dimensions no matter which pattern I pull out of the envelope. Wouldn't you?

All this is in advance of making a wool jersey sweetheart top.  Already pre-washed, pre-dried, ready for my evil scissors.  RRRRAAAAHHHH!!!!!