Saturday, January 21, 2012

A WonTon and Background Basics

I recently obtained a piece of loosely-woven wool/poly blend boucle from in lovely shades of golden brown.  I knew I wanted to make a tunic to wear as a top layer of an outfit, but couldn't decide on a pattern.  Until about a week ago when I was scanning some of my Sewing Workshop patterns into the computer.  (I am slowly scanning all my patterns into Evernote so as to have a nice, accessible record of my patterns on the computer and portable on the IPad--It's taking awhile to accomplish!)  I have my SW patterns in alphabetical order, so as I came to the end of the stack, I ran across the WonTon Blouse pattern.  It had just the sleeve and neckline style I wanted.  When tracing the pattern, I simply left out the waist band pieces and extended the body to a tunic length.  I also took a tuck in the pattern to take out some length through the area of the sleeve/arm openings, as the original sleeve openings are very wide when finished.  I'm happy with the results.  It looks a little bulky on the dressform, but looks better on me.  (yes, I'm working on the self-portrait thing of me actually in the clothes.  I'm not very adept at getting a good shot yet)

Underneath the tunic are a couple of what I call "background basics."  Simple tops and bottoms in good colors that complement and set off a great third layer.  For the top, I used Vogue 8536, which has become my TNT for a basic closer-fitting knit T-top.  I use my pattern pieces from this top to compare to new patterns I'm trying for the first time when deciding what size to trace and what alterations may be necessary.  The skirt is Vogue 8435 again--apparently, this is my new favorite basic skirt pattern.  I made these pieces last Friday night and Saturday morning, and then promptly lost the sewing mojo for the rest of the weekend.  I was bummed.  Hopefully, this weekend will be better.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

. . . and Zen

Since I had the pattern out to sew up the Sewing Workshop Now Shirt, I couldn't put it away without making a stab at the Now's companion pattern, the Zen Shirt.  A comparison of the pattern tissues revealed that the basic body and sleeve pieces were essentially identical, with various changes for the differing design elements.  In that regard, the Zen has a double collar (rather than the tube collar of the Now), a back pleat and a covered button placket with a single exposed button and loop closure at the top.  Since the basic bodies were nearly the same,  I traced the same Large through the shoulders and armscyes, extending to an XL through the body as I did for the Now.  I also again shortened the sleeve length.  As designed, the Zen is drafted with a longer length through the body, and I left that as is.  The pattern instructions for both shirts are very good (as is the usual case with Sewing Workshop patterns) and the sewing is fairly simple in execution.  I used a textured rayon from Emma OneSock in a color she called "Cinnamon."

I have to find a better location to photograph things.  We don't have much natural light in our current place, and the interior lights give everything a kind of golden glow--this fabric is slightly less orangey than appears here.

The next time I make the Zen pattern (and I do believe there will be a next time) I will play around with the placement of the upper button loop.  The instructions have you sandwich the loop between the two collars when they are topstitched together.  This placement keeps the collars sitting very close to the neck when buttoned.  I want to see if it is possible to place the loop slightly lower, so as to let the collars spread open just a little bit more than they do.  I think it can be done, with a little strategic hidden hand stitching.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Now . . .

I've realized lately that I've been depending a lot on knit tops to round out my wardrobe--they are quick to make, easy to care for in the laundry, easy to wear, and the colors/prints available now are just so much fun!  Knit tops made from a pattern with interesting design lines in a fabulous print can really make a statement as well--and after all, is that not part of why we sew our own garments?  But I need and want some simple, yet interesting, blouses to wear that can both hold their own as a stand-alone garment (well, with a bottom garment, of course) and be worn under a jacket.  With that in mind, I've set another mission for myself this year to bring a few of my shirt/blouse patterns to TNT (Tried-n-True) status, so that I can just pull the pattern, lay it on a fabric, cut and sew with only a little thought as to adapting the fit for the specific fabric chosen.  I started off with the Now Shirt pattern from The Sewing Workshop.

According to the size chart on the pattern, my current measurements put me in an XL (sigh.  I'm working on that--yet another of this year's personal missions).  I then pulled the tissue and did a little flat pattern measuring.  After that, I decided to trace a Large through the shoulders and armscyes, extending to an XL through the body of the shirt.  I also added 5 inches in length at the hemline.  I knew from looking at the pattern, as well as reading others' experiences with this pattern on Stitcher's Guild and Patternreview, that the Now Shirt was designed to be high hip length.  That length is not terribly flattering on my body structure, so I added.  Then I also ended up taking about 1.5 inches out of the sleeve length.  I have short arms, so this is a common alteration for me in tops and jackets.  (Or, as I read how Shams put it once--"I have the arms of a tyrannosaurus rex"--made me LOL and spit coffee on the computer.)

I also toyed with whether to add an FBA.  Sometimes I need to and sometimes I can get away without.  I decided to try going without the FBA and see what happened.  I ended up with a few draglines from the bust--more visible on the dressform than on me, thank goodness--which I decided didn't bother me.  If I keep my arms moving, no one will notice right?  Finally ready to put scissors to fabric, I went to the shelves and pulled out a beautiful rayon batik in various shades of rust and green.  It has aged in the collection for several years and I decided I deserved to use it.  Can't remember specifically where I got this fabric, but it had to have been Sawyer Brook, Waechter's or  They are the only places from which I've ordered rayon batik in the last couple of years.  Buttons ended up being problematic.  I didn't have anything in my button stash that was appropriate, so I traveled to the local fabric/craft store.  An entire wall of buttons, and only one style really jumped out as working well with this fabric.  Of course, they only had four in stock and I needed five, so I have to wait until they restock to completely finish this project.  In the meantime, however, this is what I ended up with (the orangey tone is a little more muted in reality than in the photos):

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Wool--what a wonderful thing

I guess it's a lucky thing I live in Montana, where wool is wearable (perhaps even a necessity) for at least half the year, if not more.  Or perhaps it's because I grew up in Montana that I love wool as much as I do.  Either way, I love me some wool fabric and I love sewing for the fall and winter seasons.  I recently received a length of wool herringbone weave fabric from FabricMart in various lovely shades of brown, tan and russet.  I ordered it thinking it would become a jacket, but when it came, I knew it also would be fabulous in a skirt.  Hmmm.  Did I have enough yardage to do both?  I've spent weeks toying with different patterns trying to figure out how to get two garments out of this piece of fabric.  Then, just after Christmas, Carolyn on Stitcher's Guild posted two beautiful coordinating sets of tops with sleeveless jackets she made using Cutting LIne Designs Anything But Ordinary pattern.  I promptly slapped my hand upside my head and said "Duh!"  Sleeveless!  Then, being a shameless copycat, I used the Anything But Ordinary pattern to make my sleeveless jacket.  I used Vogue 8435 again for the skirt.

I didn't make these pieces intending necessarily to wear them together.  Considering the recent discussion on the Cutting Line Designs thread at Stitcher's Guild, perhaps I shouldn't be caught dead wearing them together (LOL).  Looking at the pictures, however, I kind of like them together.  Any thoughts?  (And sorry for the crappy indoor lighting in the pictures--the color of the fabric is a little less red than appears in these photos)

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Last and the First

One of my most used patterns this last year was the Sewing Workshop's Liberty Shirt pattern.  I have made it twice as a buttoned shirt/jacket in woven fabrics and numerous times as a pullover t-top in knits.  I had finally put the pattern back in its proper storage bin, thinking I really should move on to something new--in other words, use one of the other hundreds of patterns I have purchased and never taken out of the envelope.  Then, several weeks ago, I was surfin' the 'net and ran across the website for Shirin Guild's winter 2011/12 collection available online.  The collection includes this cardigan

Of course, my mind immediately went to the SW Liberty Shirt pattern and I thought "ooh, I can make this!"  I love sewing!  The original cardigan is made of 100% cashmere knit.  My fabric collection does not contain such fabulosity as cashmere knit, but it did offer up a cushy, cozy wool blend from Sawyer Brook in a soft gray which I thought evoked the same feel as the original cashmere knit.  Then, of course, while cutting out the wool fabric, I decided to cut one last Liberty T-top using a poly/lycra knit recently acquired from Gorgeous Fabrics.

Since the machines were already threaded with black thread, I sewed the knit top first and completed it on New Year's Eve just in time to go out for lunch with My Guy.  This top was my last completed project for 2011.

I'm finally very happy with my technique for applying bindings on knit top necklines--they are narrow and smooth, and almost always lay nicely flat

Upon returning from lunch on New Year's Eve, I started on the Shirin Guild knock-off.  I was hoping to cut the Liberty pattern a little longer to replicate the length of the original cardigan, but could not do so because I was short on fabric.  Bummer!  Oh well, moving on.  I replaced the Liberty collar with a mandarin collar, using a pattern piece from another Sewing Workshop pattern--I have my SW patterns stored in alphabetical order and when I went to pull the Liberty pattern, I noticed that just in front of it was the Kinenbi pattern which had the exact mandarin collar I was looking for.  Love it when a plan comes together!  I also lengthened the Liberty sleeves a bit to achieve the rolled back cuff of the original cardigan.  The sewing process was quick and easy, since I have made so many of these before.  I am extremely happy with the outcome and I think I will love wearing it.  I finished this and the skirt on New Year's Day, so this is my first completed project of 2012.

I paired the jacket with a skirt made from OOP Vogue 8435 in a slightly darker gray heathered wool/lycra blend.  I was recently turned on to this pattern by Janis over at Stitcher's Guild.  I had to splurge on buying this OOP pattern because I think the skirt is a lovely "classic with a twist" and the jacket would be interesting to try as well.  Thanks Janis!  While the patterns calls for knit fabrics, I used this slightly stretchy wool woven and just made sure I had enough ease for my hips.  I had to slightly adapt/modify the skirt pattern, however, as I again was short on the required amount of fabric.  I had to put a band across the bottom of the overlayer in order to get the necessary length.  The jury is still out on whether the band works, but I'll live with it for awhile before deciding.  Otherwise, this is a great skirt pattern.  The colors of the skirt and jacket actually look better together in real life.

Well, now what's next?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year, New Blog

So, I've decided to take the plunge into the world of blogging.  This comes about partly as a result of an early New Year's resolution of sorts I made this fall to become more involved in the internet sewing community.  I've "lurked" in this community for years, but finally decided that actively sharing with the other sewists who have so inspired me over time would be much more rewarding than merely watching from the background.  While I did not initially intend to create a blog, the idea has slowly worked its way to the surface of my mind as an additional method through which to share what I love to do with whomever may be interested.  I also have realized that I would like to have a more concrete way of journaling and documenting my sewing projects, as well as a way to keep my self accountable in working toward some goals--both sewing and personal--I have set for myself.  While I intend this blog to be mostly about my sewing and wearable art projects, I'm sure I will veer off into other subjects here and there.  Topic drift tends to happen sometimes, I have many other interests in life (although few on the same scale as my sewing), and it is my blog after all.  I'm sure the look of things here will change a bit as I learn the technical process of blogging and decide how I want things set up.

I am excited to begin writing about and sharing my adventures in sewing and, hopefully, maybe a few people will be interested in listening!