29 August, 2010

Lovely linen knit

Nothing says summer like a linen top, does it?  And nothing says casual like a knit.  I got this lovely blue & silver heathered linen knit during my mini-shopping spree in NY at the beginning of the year.  Realizing yesterday that the linen dress I wanted to make wouldn't be ready for a fancy-casual brunch this am because it would have to hang for at least 24 hrs to let the bias relax, this became my fallback option.

I started with the Jalie 2805 tee, cut for a high neck and high armscyes (raised the armscyes by 2 cm), with the sides lengthened by about 12 cm and gradually widening, to about  3 cm on each side at the very bottom.  That makes the shape slightly trapezoidal, and enourages the slight curve in the bottom band. The bottom band is 23 x 85 cm, sewed in a circle and folded in half.  I gathered the excess of the skirt bottom into the band, keeping the sides ungathered and smooth, and concentrating the gathering only at centre front and back. 

Armscyes and neckband have the Jalie finish.  However, not wishing to stiffen the fabric with serging nor to have a double needle track around them, I hand-secured the raw edges on the inside using a standard blind hemming stitch.

All ready now for strawberries and champagne!

28 August, 2010

Blissfully blue dress, a sucess!

Funny how a silly garden gnome can lead you to a redo.  After the last post, I literally raced to Fabricland to get some new fabric that wanted  needed to become new&improved casual garden trousers.  No more kevlar-tough microsuede this time, but mid-weight - black, of course - ponte de roma, a poly/rayon/lycra blend knit for you out there not yet familiar with the term.  And, yes, using the same overlapping technique of front&back of a semifitted trouser pattern, I made another pair of one-seam casual home&garden lower limb cover-ups.  I'll spare you the photo -they look just like the gnome's pants.  And feel great.  Honestly, I sometimes wonder why people I even wear jeans - all these seams, all that effort for zippers and topstitching and stuff?!  Why? WHY?!!! My plants don't care!  My husband doesn't care! errr, he does, he does:  and prefers the sleek-as-a-seal no-seam look, if you must know. 

My stingy-sewist nature got its bit of self-gratification when making them up, as I got a mere 1.5 meters of this stuff, and after making a pair of full length pants, still had enough left over for a pair of basic black bike shorts that come nearly down to my knees.  Looking at the bright side, 't makes me a wonderfully cheap sew and sew :))).

In other news, today I accomplished a little sewing revision that I've been meaning to tackle since last summer.  Way back when, I had acquired a very pretty blue-dominated super-light cotton (lawn?), from which I manufactured a (self-drafted) sleeveless top and this BurdaStyle Magazine 06-2008-121 Skirt. And then made a jacket to go over the two, to make them work-worthy.  I like the skirt's double pleats - yet, somehow, every time I donned the outfit, the top+skirt screamed at me, "we want to be a dress"!!! 

Today, I married them, and it's oh so good.  I chopped 4" off the top of the skirt, lifted the shoulders of the top by 5/8", and united them at the hipbone.  That's one happy summer shift dress, and I'm one happy wearer.  I detest: Yes DETEST - waist-constricting stuff in summer.  The united puppy is loose, cool, just delightful, and fun&funky with the doubled pleat which, please notice, no longer rotates to all sorts of weird latitudes the minute I try to walk anywhere ( like, to the elevator?!  am I the only person on earth to suffer from skirt rotation syndrome?!).   And the dress still goes with the jacket.

The jacket, btw, is Burda's #107  from the June 2007 issue. It's a petite pattern, but that's a story for another day.

It's a win!!!!

26 August, 2010

Garden gnome

My everyday "garden casual" look has taken a turn for the better since I started sewing the Jalie tees. This one is their 2910 faux-wrap pattern, generously shared by fellow Ottawan KayY, the Sewing Lawyer - and the pic does double duty as a gentle nudge about our upcoming hosta date, when, Kay?

I do like this top, though it uses a little more fabric than the other ones, due to the fact that the fronts are duplicated, and the edging seemingly went on forever to pin down and sew;  me lazy, much?  Actually  Jalie would make you cut a shorter version of the "underneath" side and leave it hanging loose, but that really makes for an ugly finish and runs the risk of the loose edge showing through in the most unattractive place, right across waist/belly, so I cut it just 1 cm shorter than the overlapped side, and caught them together in the hem.

The garden slacks are probably my first effort from when I decided to start sewing again. They're pre-serger, generic poly microsuede, which was hell to sew (a very thin, sharp needle does help, but I still had skipped stitches galore), but, hooray, no edge finishing is needed.  They're about as easy and simple a pair of casual wear one can imagine:  I took a Burda envelope pattern for semi-fitted trousers, lapped the side seams and cut front+back in one (ie, making these "one-seam" pants), and added an elasticated waistband.  They make terrific casual wear, and are warm too, nice for someone who likes to be outside at the crack of dawn no matter what the temps.

Speaking of which - last night I pre-washed my new hankie linen twice in hot water, along with some lovely white crinkle cotton. Today, I have NO interest in the slightest in sewing these.  Our morning dawned heavenly damp and a lovely 15C - cool enough to throw a fleece vest over the top for at least the first 2 hours of the day - and I'm yearningly eyeing  my wools again.   I'm keen to get started on the Vogue 1155, the fabric has been pre-washed (cold water + 1 tbsp shampoo + 1 hr soak, delicate spin,  now drying on the hammock), so it's entirely possible some cutting may take place later today.

However.  My darling #2 child and only daughter, aka the beloved and beautiful green-eyed little witch, has made an executive decision to engage in a sewing vacation with The Not Totally Evil Mother!  Hah, I'm thinking, is she serious that I'm going to sew stuff for her (or worse, repair her torn jeans? ick!) while she sips wine on the deck?   What say ye, audience?  Wouldn't it be ever so much more fun to, 1. give her the run of my stash and patterns; 2. take her to Fabricland for more options; 3. set up my Husqvarna &/or  my precious new/old Singer 201K for her; and 4. together but separate, lead by example?! Yeah. I thought you'd agree with me. 

21 August, 2010

California dreamin' in sleepy Santa Bee....

Spectacularly bright yet breezy and cool coastlines...

and even brighter, much hotter valleys...

add up to a hankering for the lightest, coolest fabric ever:  hankie linen!

I found this 3.5 oz gem at Your Remnant fabric store: mostly (aka a very large selection of) upholstery and drapery stuff, but also a nice little selection of apparel weight linens, hemp-linens, and linen-rayons in various weights and colours, not to mention some cottons & blends.  Except for the little gem above, I resisted, though 'twas mighty hard.

I then moseyed on to Fine Fabrics - owned by Susanne of Ms. Fine Fabrics for Fashion and Fun! blog,  known to many of you. Like many of us, Susanne has been offline a bit lately, but hinted she's aiming to return to the internet fold very soon.  She and her delightful niece were in the throes of setting up for another Solstiss lace show, some of which you see behind her.

They were also divesting themselves of several basketfuls, helpfully sorted by size, of out of print patterns, for the price of a California smile.  True to my blog moniker (xxxxxxxx-jacket-xxxx), I grabbed six of them. One can never have too many cool jackets! Along with said cool jackets, which come with tons of seaming for fitting perfection, I scored wardrobe "accessories" such as skinny Montana pants, tulip skirts, gored skirts, generic skirts and trousers, etc, etc. 

Hmmmm, I thought to myself.... if only there was a wedding in my immediate future.... I could easily tempt myself to make a charming jacket out of one of these (verrrry pricey!) Solstiss lace numbers.... but - thankfully - for the moment - there is NOT...

... saved by realism: whew!!!  Perhaps when I'm again in Santa Barbara....

Aren't these fantastic trees something?  Textural heaven!

 I shall be home in a very few days, back to my own cool green garden and sunny sewing table.  Till then, sweet dreams from Santa Bee!

12 August, 2010

V1155 part 2: the fabric and the instructions

So here's the fabric - nice and lightweight, with lovely drape and natural sheen. It's ravelly, but other than that, and knowing I'll have to handle it carefully, I've no bone to pick with it whatsoever.

The pattern is not actually difficult. It's made up of 29 separate pattern pieces, some of which are facings, linings, and pockets, meaning that one will have to pay attention to matching all the various and sundry seam and dart lines during construction. 

Apart from that, it's no different than putting together a very limited jigsaw puzzle. Which we've all done at one time or another, with 500 or 1000 pieces, no less, making this akin to a cakewalk, in comparison.

The bizzare aspect of this pattern - bearing in mind that it is just a dress - is, get this, every piece is supposed to be interfaced.  That would be 8.5 yds of 20" wide fusible interfacing.  I can understand the designer's motivation to give it a bit of that otherworldly body and reduce drape, but to wholly interface it?  Big yuck factor here. Nope, I don't think so.  Instead, I'm seeing this as another application of my copious supply of silk organza as underlining.  Bodice and skirt, at least; I'll probably face the midriff and peplums with canvas, interface the lapels and collar, and just line the sleeves.  Oh, and the midriff facings?  Except for the outermost piece, I'm inclined to make them out of the lining material. 

Enough musings for the night.  

Burda dress 104-5-2008, but not a knit

I made this dress from the May 2008 issue - if you follow the link, you'll note that all the pattern links are now gone.  Along with all the other changes, I'm seeing this as the writing on the wall for B.  Burda, Burda, you're broken what didn't need fixing, and are destroying your loyal readership, link by precious link.  And I was so unimpressed by your May and June issues, I didn't even buy them. 

I can only thank Pattern Review for continuing to exist. Here are all the 17 versions so far of the dress.  If you want to see the dress design, go to my Burda Archive, at left.

My version's not made out of a knit, but a woven.  When I first modeled it for my husband - last summer -  he delicately suggested it's not the most flattering look.  I think frumpy was the word, actually.  I think I can see why - that bow thing at the waist eclipses my normal womanly violin shape (Christian Dior exploits it so well in his exaggerated X-shaped garments), and the pull of the fabric gives what's above a vaguely droopy mien.  It all makes me kind of blah shaped.

Could this fix the problem? 

Still I continue to wear the dress, with a white jacket over it to mask its blahness, because the fabric - a cotton-silk from Fabric Mart - is to die for:  soft, cool, practically wrinkle-free, I love its feel against my skin so much that I ordered more - in a different print, of course - for another summer frock.
As a final thought, I have a very nice rayon knit in a black&white print, just enough for another version of this little item.  Maybe I should just try it, just to see whether it'll mitigate the blah factor.

Nah.  Another day, another pattern.  Moving on....

11 August, 2010

V 1155 muslin

I love the futuristic, Star Trekky techno vibe of this Guy Laroche Vogue pattern, and the fact that it could be constructed as a two piece - jacket & skirt - as easily as a dress. 

So, here's the muslin.  Not bad.  I cut a 12, tapering to 10 at the waist, and doing a bit of an FBA to the side bodice.  I also lengthened the front bodice a little, and will lengthen it all around by probably 1 cm more, taking it out of the waistband, so the upper waistband seam will sit below rather than across the bust, and will be 1 cm narrower.   As designed, I find it a little clunky. 

I lengthened the sleeve to 3/4 length, and added a bit of a cuff mimicking the front peplums - with a bit of paper just for now.   Given our climate, not to mention climate-controlled interiors, a longer sleeve is more practical for fall than a short one.

I also lengthened the skirt by 6 cm - now  it's as short as I'm willing to go for work wear.  I'll also widen the underlap of the skirt, for modesty. 

Back view:  looks a little rumpled, but that's because it needs shoulder pads. 

This is going to be made out of a beautiful lightweight wool-poly blend in a fine textured weave with tan, baby blue, and black, sold as menswear suiting, which I found at Fabricland recently. 

09 August, 2010

Lacy top = instant gratification

For this super-quick project I turned back to Jalie 2805.  Considering that I made it a few times already, this morning's project was all the quicker for not having to start by tracing a pattern.   Since the rayon tees I'd made before seem to have grown over the few washes and wears, I took a 5/8" bite out of the SA while serging, and this improved the fit nicely, though it's still very loose in the waist. Just to be a little different, I shortened the sleeves to bracelet length and the hem by 2 cm.

The fabric's some sort of poly-lycra stretch "lace" with rayon embroidery, another freebie from Fabric Mart. 

I intended this top as casual wear, but the pics suggest it has enough coverage to be suitable - with a jacket - for work wear.

08 August, 2010


Just three more weeks, just one more little excursion, and my traipsing round the world will be over for the season (any tips on good fabric stores around Los Angeles?).  In the meantime, I've a hankering for a quick and easy one-day project.  Like a merino wool knit top.

Say hello to my little Christchurch collection.   I sort of overdid it, rationalizing that this sort of stuff isn't readily available at home, and I certainly don't have to use it up all at once (perish the thought!), and the other skiers in my family might also appreciate a cosy layer when the temps hit -20C or less.  And and and.  Having had the opportunity to, ahem, "enjoy" the balmy and humid weather of Virginia - can you believe 106F (42C!) - during the past weeks, I can't wait for our beautiful and bright, crisp, white winter.  Soon enough, I know.

Where did I get these?  Four came from Fabric Bonanza on Bedford Row, and the rest from Global Fabrics on 223 Tuam Street. 

 Both are good stores. FB is attached to a couture shop, and their fabrics reflect what is being sewn there.  GF is much larger, and boy, do they have merino knits! Every weight, every colour of the rainbow - two giant double-tier tables of it, can you blame me for having had a very hard time controlling myself?!

The dark grey at left, the bright tomato red, and the silvery grey at extreme right are rib knits of different weights, and the bright blue plain knit is quite beefy.  My favourite is probably the heathered black-brown next to the red.  The collection has been through the wash now, and is back on the hammock playing chicken with the thunderclouds.  And if it starts to rain and I can't play with my hostas or go for a bike ride, I may just have to sew something!

I leave you with this charming little couple of bronze sheepdogs. 
I heart New Zealand! :)