Monday, April 21, 2008

Not Your Usual Basics - Final wardrobe

Not your usual coat – pattern 115 from Burda World of Fashion no 11/2007 - described in this post (first garment in that post) and this review

Not your usual little black dress – Vogue 8280- described in this post and this review

Not your usual white shirt 1 (with black piping) – pattern 108 from Burda World of Fashion no 1/2008- described in this post and this review

Not your usual white shirt 2 – pattern 109 from Burda World of Fashion no 3/2008- described in this post

Not your usual pintuck shirt – Vogue 2813 Donna Karan (wardrobe pattern)- described in this post and this review

Not your usual wrap top – pattern 116 from Burda World of Fashion no 1/2008- described in this post and this review

Not your usual silk blouse – self-drafted using the instructions in Pattern Magic vol. 2 and the bodice sloper from Mrs. Stylebook - described in this post and this review

Not your usual A-line skirt - Vogue 2813 Donna Karan (wardrobe pattern)- described in this post and this review

Not your usual pencil skirt – pattern 122 from Burda World of Fashion no 12/2007- described in this post and this review

Not your usual jeans – copied after one of my RTW pairs - described in this post and this review

Not your usual black pants - Vogue 2813 Donna Karan (wardrobe pattern)- described in this post and this review

This year I really felt that there was a strong idea behind my SWAP. I recently discovered that I don’t have enough basics in my wardrobe and an initial list of things to sew started to form in my head. Then the idea went further and I decided to make my SWAP a wardrobe of basics… now, part of those basics are to be found in any book or list of things you should have and others, like not your usual pintuck shirt or not your usual silk blouse are my own idea of basics :)

I knew I wanted to sew a basic wardrobe but at the same time, I knew I wanted each item to be one that I would wear a lot if not to death, therefore it was important to add a personal touch to all the items. Hand embroidery on a skirt, pintuck embellishments on another, delicate handmade roses on a dress, piping and covered dotted buttons on another blouse… All this to make these items speak about me and to result in a wardrobe of not your usual basics. Or basics with a twist.

Last SWAP item

A second "Not your usual white shirt"

This is pattern 109 from BWOF 03/2008. Thank God for Christina, who made this blouse - here's her beautiful version - and warned us all that the hem of the cap sleeve cuts into your arm. At her advice, I cut the sleeve on the bias and it is quite alright.

What I like about this blouse is the very trendy design, the feminine shape, its versatility (it can be worn both outside or tucked in, with jeans or a dressy skirt). Oh and the eyelet from Julie is absolutely gorgeous. I have enough left for another blouse and I am really happy about it.

In case you make this pattern, a word of warning: the bias-cut belt is seriously shorter than the bodice, therefore when you pin it on the top, it won't lie flat. Don't worry, this is how it should be. When you wear the blouse, the belt cups your bust in a great way. It's very flattering. And not tight at all.

The blouse lying flat.

No inside fancy views for this one. It's just cleanly serged and that's it.

I love this top and see a lot of tops like this in my near future - I have some pieces of beautiful flowery viscose chiffon that would look great for this pattern, and I'm thinking of using batiste or nylon sheer for an underlining - doing it the "Hong Kong" way :) of course. See here what I mean if you're at my blog for the first time.

SWAP item #10

OK it's been more than a week since I've finished the SWAP but haven't blogged about it. I didn't have the time to take pictures until yesterday and to write a short text until right now. I sent them to Julie and now I'm trying to catch up a bit with my own blog.

I felt like this year's SWAP was cursed for me. Work was busier and more stressful these last months than ever, leaving me very little time to sew. I can't recall a time like that for me in the past 10 years! One week before the end of the SWAP, I had the 10th item half-done and I felt really burned out. I wanted to give up, really, I wanted all the stress to go away. Luckily, I've received encouragement (there will be a separate post on this) and I decided to go on. I said to myself: OK, I have a week, I will take my time to finish this blouse and my final item will be a blouse that I've sewn in January (see it in this post, scroll to the end). It's black and white, it goes with everything else, that's it! And then, on Tuesday night - that Friday was the deadline to end the SWAP - it suddenly dawns on me and I nearly had a panic attack! I hadn't use the fabric I bought from Julie and that was a requirement for the contest! Awful! So I had to gather all my strength and make a final blouse from the beautiful eyelet that I bought from Julie. I took that Tuesday off (I had a very bad cold anyway, my sewing table was filled with aspirin and paper handkerchiefs) and I cut and sewn a blouse...

To make things short, I will introduce you to my SWAP item #10 in this post, there will be a separate post on SWAP item #11 and another one presenting the composite photo and some outfits.

Not your usual silk blouse (sorry, I ran out of inspiration for titles :), but then in my book a silk blouse has become a basic, a must-have)

This blouse is made out of a very beautiful silk, with a texture, you'll see that in a close-up further below. This silk was part of my second price in the PR Wardrobe Contest 2007 and it comes from Textilestudiopatterns.

The pattern is self-drafted, using one of the models in Pattern Magic volume 2 - see here some pictures included in the book. I've used a Mrs. Stylebook sloper to draft the blouse and I was happy to find scans of the sloper, for download on Twistedangel's Studio blog - go here for the sloper in bust sizes 77-89 in cm (approx 30-35 in inches) and here for bust sizes 89-104 cm (35-41 in inches).

Speaking of the sloper, I made a muslin and here are my findings: the Japanese are very petite, the bodice was a bit short. The armhole length was OK, but you should add a bit (I've added about 6 mm - approx 1/4") either between armhole and waist, or simply at the waist seam (that's what I did). The sloper runs a bit large, I tried size 83 (although my bust is 84) and I finally went down a size and used 80 which was fine.

I drafted a short sleeve using the instruction for another blouse from Pattern Magic (my blouse was sleeveless) and I added the "peplum" (I guess it's not exactly a peplum but I really can't recall the appropriate word) from Simplicity 4047.

Here's my pattern (without the peplum part):

The front part extends into the back, forming a yoke. That yoke also forms a fold at the neck that gives that folding effect in the front. It's all folding!

See the front of the blouse lying flat and how the fold is formed at the back neck, extending into diagonal folds in the front.

The bust dart being rotated at the center front, this blouse must have a center front seam. I didn't want such a seam, nor did I want the blouse to button at front. Therefore I made button loops out of the silk and simulated a fake button closure, by covering buttons in silk. See a close-up below (you can also see the special texture of the fabric).

The blouse has French seams, the armholes, zipper opening (invisible zipper on the left side) and hem are bound in silk charmeuse.

Front of the blouse wrong side out

Back of the blouse wrong side out (see how it is unfolded in this photo, in the photo showing the blouse lying flat, the fold at the back neck covers my label).

Close-up of binding and French seams.

I love this blouse although I think this kind of pattern might be better in a stiffer fabric (I'm planning to starch that back part that folds anyway). Pattern Magic is an amazing book, it got me hooked immediately. Adding the peplum to the blouse and making it in silk gave it a vintage feel in my opinion. And I love that. You'll see in my SWAP post that this blouse, tucked inside my high waist pants gives a very 40s feeling.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Rose tutorial

Before showing you how I made the roses, I'd like to thank you all for your comments and appreciation. They did a lot for my morale, especially since when I feel tired, I tend to feel a bit down too. So thank you, my love goes to all of you!

Now, to answer some comments... Melissa, I did insert a link to the nylon sheer on Elingeria, it is in the underlining post, just at the beginning when I'm talking about Powerdry and nylon sheer.

Leslie, I think you're new to my blog (sorry if I'm mistaken) therefore welcome! You're perfectly right, point 3) in the underlining tutorial should read "right sides together" not "wrong sides together". Thank you for bringing that to my attention, it is now corrected.

Vicki, this underlining method supposes that you fitted the pattern first. You can cut larger seam allowances on the fashion fabric and underlining, but you cannot (or it supposes ripping most of your work off) adjust the darts. I'm lucky to have an average figure and patterns usually fit me more or less right out of the envelope. I only do a petite alteration and I'm fine. For this particular pattern however, there is a reason why there are wider seam allowances. I usually cut a size 6 in Big 4 patterns and many times I thought that I could even cut a size 4. This pattern was the first to come in size 4 so stupid me, I challenged my luck and cut directly a 4 (I don't trace patterns, I cut them directly, I know I shouldn't....). The 4 was a wadder, it fitted me but it was too tight for my liking. Therefore on this dress, I cut wider seam allowances to make sure I'm ok. I should indeed buy a new camera pretty soon but it hasn't been top priority for two reasons: 1) I'm spending a lot on sewing books, notions, gadgets, fabrics etc; 2) when I take detail pictures, those are really ok, only pictures of myself wearing the garment, taken with the self-timer are blurry.

And now, this is how I made the roses. First of all , it's not an original idea, I had a rose like that on a hair clip. I just unglued it and took it apart, copied the pattern and tried to figure out how it was made.

Download the rose pattern here. You'll see that there are two pieces, A and B, to be cut both from organza and silk or satin, on fold and on the bias. There is a third piece that I forgot to include in the pattern: piece C (for the ruffle) to be cut on grain, only in organza, it is a long strip, 6 cm wide ( approx 2 1/8") and 40 cm long (approx. 15 1/3"). I'm now looking at my pattern and am not sure if the foldline is clear, therefore the fold is the longer side of the trapeze on piece A and the longer side of the triangle on piece B.

For one rose: Cut piece A one time in organza and one time in silk. Cut piece B four times in organza and four times in silk. Cut piece C one time in organza.

Now, take the two pieces A (in organza and in silk), fold them and press. Don't press too much, you don't want a very crisp, dead fold. Put the two pieces together, the silk one on top of the organza one. Fold both corners and press like in the photo below:

Starting from one of the folded corners, roll the bud (piece A is the bud of the rose, pieces B are the petals) around itself until you're satisfied with the shape:

Tie a piece of thread around the bottom of the bud, to secure the shape:

Trim if needed, apply a bit of Fraycheck.

Now for the petals: again, fold all the pieces on the fold line and press in place. Put one piece in organza and one in silk together, with the silk on top.

Thread your needle and sew running stitches through one of the small sides of the first double (organza and silk) triangle. When you reach the top (peak?) of the triangle, place the second triangle on the first, with the right corner of the second triangle overlapping on the top of the first triangle. Continue with running stitches until you sewed together all the triangles. Hope the picture below speaks for itself, I'm not sure that my explanations are very clear.

Once you're finished, pulled the running/gathering stitches and form the shape of the rose around the bud, by wrapping the petals sewn and gathered together around the bud:

Gather more or less, as you wish. Once you're satisfied with the shape obtained, secure it in place at the bottom of the rose, with several hand stitches.

Fold piece C lengthwise and press in place. Run gathering stitches through one of the lengths. Gather forming a ruffle. Be careful, the ruffle is not a full circle, it is only a part of a circle, you need to leave clear the part where the two roses join, as below:

Glue a rose on each ruffle.

Glue the two roses on a piece of velvet ribbon for a belt or a choker. Sew them on a headband. Glue them on a hair clip or get crazy and sew dozens of them on the corsage or hem of a dress. Sky is the limit :)

Not your usual little black dress

Many beautiful dresses have been made using the Roland Mouret-inspired Vogue 8280 pattern. I won't mention any in particular, cause I'm afraid I might forget anyone and not do justice to them.

This is my interpretation of this pattern. I chose the sleeveless version, because I want to be able to dress it down too, by wearing a white t-shirt underneath or a black long-sleeve. This is one of the things that I absolutely love about basics: you can dress them up or down so easily and transform the respective item completely.

The fabric has tiny white dots, I think you can see them in some of the close-ups.

The entire dress is underlined with nylon sheer. The step-by-step tutorial can be found here.

Underlining the top parts was a bit more difficult and this is how I did it: the flange is overlapped with the front and I didn't want that much bulk. I therefore cut the respective part from the front piece, so I can simply sew together the flange and the front.

After sewing the darts on both the fashion fabric and the underlining, I assembled the flange and the front pieces, thus obtaining two finished front pieces: one in the fashion fabric and one in the underlining. I then assembled the shoulders, leaving the side seams opened.

The next step was sewing the side seams of the fashion fabric and underlining together, using the above-mentioned technique of underlining and Hong Kong seam finishing in one. Turned and pressed but not stitched in the ditch yet.

Wrong sides together, I joined the fashion fabric and underlining at the neckline and the armholes. I turned it right side out (you still have the waist seam open), understitched as far as possible. Gave the entire thing a good press and then I sewed in the ditch, finishing the Hong Kong at the side seams. Treating the fabric and the underlining as one, I sewn the back part and the front part at the side seams. To keep everything in place, I stitched in the ditch at the shoulder stitching, thus securing the fashion fabric to the underlining. Kind of hard to explain in "not your maternal language" :).

I added a satin polkadotted ribbon at the waist. It is not meant to be a waist stay, because the dress doesn't need one, but to cover nicely the serged seams. Plus I really love the mix of tiny-tiny dots with bigger dots. I've used the same ribbon to cover and finish the end of the zipper. The hem is bias-bound, as always.

The zipper is put in by hand, using a small backstitch and inserting a small black bead at each stitch - the technique of hand-picking a zipper using beads or not is described by Susan Khalje in this online extra from Threads.

And here's a close-up of the belt.

The two roses are made from white silk and black organza, cut on the bias, plus a black organza ruffle. They are then glued together on a piece of black velvet ribbon. A tutorial and pattern for the roses will follow either today or tomorrow.

Underlining and Hong Kong seam finishing in one

I promised some time ago that the next time I'll be making an underlined garment, I'll take pictures and try to describe the process.

Recapping things said previously:
  • I'm very partial to underlining lately, I think I said it before on my blog, I like how the underlining moves with the fashion fabric, instead of having two separate garments joined at some seam, like in the case of lining. It is a subjective things, of course, but I'm going to use underlining instead of lining for most of my projects
  • Part of my great liking of underlinings is this gorgeous knit lining (nylon sheer, sold in many online stores as bra cup lining; my beautiful friend Marji also recommends using Powerdry - which I don't know but from what I read about it, it is marvelous because it keeps your skin dry when you're sweating) that I'm using - it is stretchy, thin, it does not alter significantly the drape of pants and anyway it improves it, and it has a silky side that feels absolutely luxurious against the skin. Plus it really minimizes the wrinkling which is very important, taking into account that I spend long working days sitting at a desk.
  • IMPORTANT: I buy this nylon sheer locally and none of the stores sells online. But by looking at pictures on the Elingeria website, I think this nylon sheer is what I use.
Technical details:

I've used this tip on PR for underlining and giving a Hong Kong finish to the seams at the same time. I'd like to explain a bit this method, insisting on the turn of cloth. This method has you cutting the underlining fabric with a supplementary seam allowance of 5/8 (aprox. 1.6 cm) . Therefore the fashion fabric has a 5/8 (1.6 cm) seam allowance and the underlining fabric 5/8 x 2 = 1 1/4 (aprox. 3.2 cm). You then join the fashion fabric wrong side to the underlining wrong side with a 1/4 seam allowance. I must stress that it is very important: 1) to be able to cut accurate seam allowances (I use my rotary cutter and its guide arm); 2) to be able to sew accurate 1/4 seams - use your 1/4 foot if you have one, your zipper foot (mine sews an exact 1/4 seam allowance if I align its edge to the fabric edge). I use my normal foot and a special setting on my machine which allows me to sew an 1/4 straight stitch seam. Now, from the supplementary 5/8 (1.6 cm) seam allowance, 1/4 is caught in the seam (0.6 cm), another 1/4 (0.6 cm) wraps over this 1/4 seam creating the Hong Kong finish and the remaining 1/8 (aprox. 0.3-0.4 cm) is for the turn of cloth. Now, if your fabric is especially thick or thin, you should increase/decrease the turn of cloth and the respective supplementary seam allowance of the underlining fabric. For a thick fabric, you'd cut more than 5/8 supplementary allowance, for a thin fabric, less.

My fabric for this project is a medium weight one, therefore I used 1" (approx. 2.5 cm) supplementary seam allowance on the underlining.

1) Cut your fashion fabric with "normal" seam allowances. Cut your underlining with another 1" seam allowances, or a bit less or a bit more (see above). I use my rotary cutter and its arm to cut accurate seam allowances. This is very important. See here the difference between the two pieces.

Warning: you only add the 1" supplement to vertical seams! The horizontal seams can be finished either using the method described by Shannon in this post, or by simply serging them, treating the fashion fabric and the underlining as one. Teaser pic... see how I serged the horizontal seams on my dress and then applied a ribbon, not to act as a waist stay (this dress doesn't need one), but just to make the seams look more beautiful.

2) Sew the darts in both the fashion fabric and the underlining. Most of the time I press the fashion fabric darts towards the center of the garment and the underlining darts in the opposite direction, to minimize bulk:

For my current project, there are quite large darts at the bust. I decided to slash and press open both the darts on the fashion fabric and on the underlining (only for the top part, the skirt, as you can see above, has the darts pressed in opposite directions):

3) Now, with the right sides together, sew all the vertical seams with a 1/4" (approx. 0.6 cm) seam allowance. I have an 1/4 foot now that makes this job easy. Before, I used my zigzag foot and adjusted the needle position or my zipper foot.

4) Open your seam allowances, then press them towards the underlining.

5) Wrap the underlining over the seam allowances, creating a Hong Kong finish.

6) Press in place and sew in the ditch. Ta-daaa, you're done!

Here's how it looks on the right side:

And the wrong side:

SWAP item #8

My final item from my wardrobe pattern - Vogue 2813. I made the shirt from red silk twill.

I love the look of the high buttoned collar and the long cuffs. I think the shirt has a bit the look of a groom shirt and this is one of the things that made me think of heirloom embellishing. My problem is I don't know what "not your usual" is this... not your usual silk shirt? Please suggest anything if your brain feels more rested and creative than mine right now :)

So, I added a double pintuck with lace, sewn with my pintuck foot, a double needle and cording. See here a factsheet describing this technique. The pintuck and lace where thus placed as to camouflage the waist dart (you can see it in the pic where I show the wrong side of the shirt). After making this pintuck, the shirt looked like it needed something else, that unique pintuck looked a bit... isolated. Therefore I added two more corded pintucks. I knew that the shirt had plenty of ease around the chest and waist so I could afford to loose the bit that was taken into the pintucks.

And wrong side of the shirt - you can see the cording in the pintucks. You can also the finishing of the seams - not French this time, but baby seams (as described by Claire Shaeffer in High Fashion Secrets - see, buying all those books really pays off).

The hem is finished with store-bought satin bias (the same that I used on the hem of my not your usual A-line skirt).

Here's a close-up of the lace and the double button stand (loved this one, first time I try it).

And here's a pic of the collar, I find it really clever: the upper collar is in one piece and cut on the bias, the under collar is made of a collar and a stand and is cut on the grain. Thus, you do have a stand incorporated (and you can see the collar standing quite high on the neck) but you also have the advantage of the bias upper collar wrapping so nicely over the stand.

There's a buttonhole in the under collar (and my advice, if you make this pattern, is to read the instructions very carefully; otherwise, you risk messing up both the collar - the buttonhole must be sewn very early in the process, and the double button stand). The collar can be worn both buttoned or unbuttoned, but I prefer it buttoned. Likewise, the cuffs can be worn as in the picture or turned and looking like French cuffs.

The placket of the shirt is described in this post.

That's it for now. Please give me ideas about naming this shirt. And stay put. I have a little black dress to show you, together with two more small tutorials.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

I'm back...

I don't know if you missed me or not and sorry to be absent so long. I've got a huuuuge amount of work lately, worked late and used my time rather for sewing than blogging. Plus, the NATO summit starts tomorrow in Bucharest (presidents from all over the world arrive today) and the city is a mess because of that: security restrictions, many institutions closed and an awful-awful traffic.

Thanks to all of you who commented meanwhile and sorry for not being able to answer. A special thank you goes to Nedra who delurked and noticed a very important error in my placket tutorial: the placket should be 1" wide, not 1/2! (the imperial system is sometimes a handful for me) . Thank you, Nedra, now it's corrected.

Dawn, thank you so much for tagging me and leaving such a nice comment at my blog. I promise I'll try to name 7 random things about me as soon as possible. Please bear with me!

I've finished meanwhile three SWAP items and I'm going to show them to you, each one in a different post (so it's easier to link to them in my final SWAP review) . I would also like to apologize for the not so good quality of some of the photos (in this post and the next ones). My camera is quite old and I don't know why, some of the pictures took with the self-timer are a bit blurry or too dark. I know I should try taking them in natural light, but I only have natural light during weekends in my home and weekends are already filled with many other activities.

SWAP item #7 - Not your usual A-line skirt

This is the skirt from my wardrobe pattern, Vogue 2813 - a Donna Karan pattern. It is a very interesting pattern, as you will be able to see below. The front has some very interesting details, (see the drawing), there is a slotted seam effect. Each front piece has facings that are sewn and turned under, then front pieces are joined by means of an underlay and topstitched, once at 1/4" (approx 6mm) and the second time at 3/8" (approx 1 cm). The back darts are treated the same: cut open, faced and then joined with an underlay and topstitched. Well, it is a bit hard to explain, hope the drawing and the pictures will speak for themselves. If not, tell me and I'll take a photo of the pattern pieces.

Side view of the skirt:

View of the front slot seams:

Back (the line of the front seams continue in the back):

Back darts

The skirt doesn't have a lining. I chose to underline it using the same nylon sheer that I usually use for that. I laid the nylon sheer over the assembled skirt (yet unclosed at the center back seam) and carefully traced the shape of the skirt on the lining, then pinched the excess with pins, shaping darts.

Tip: If you want to sew an easy hem on a flared skirt and you are willing to bind the hem, here's what I did: I used bought bias tape and when sewing it to the skirt's hem, I stretched it as much as I could. Doing this, the excess flare in the hem was eased into the bias. After pressing, you get a nice binding and when sewing the hem, you'll discover there's no more fabric to ease in, gather, make little darts etc.

I used a decorative stitching on the binding. The same stitching is repeated on the waist facing.

The zipper is finished with satin ribbon (I don't remember right now if I read about this in Roberta Carr or Claire Shaeffer).