Friday, December 28, 2007

Happy holidays

To all of you, my dear virtual friends, happy holidays. I wish you the happiest New Year ever, full of love and joy...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I've been sewing up a storm (pic-heavy)

I didn't vanish into thin air nor died, in case you worried about me not posting :) Just had a very very busy time at work and spend every spare second sewing. Florin was in Brussels for a week and I took advantage of it. But before I show you what I made in a week (looots of things), here is my Chanel style jacket "in action", at the conference. It looks rather interesting with the black pearls doesn't it?

Last night I had one of the happiest moments ever. Thanks to Sigrid, I've discovered Elingeria, an online shop in Germany, selling bra kits, bra notions, patterns and lots of great things (you'll see below what I ordered). I'm very happy with this shop and they provide great customer service. So here is my Christmas present for myself:

Two big cutting mats(90x60 cm). First time I have a mat and I can finally use my rotary cutters - have two and one of them even has that distance arm (how do you call it??) but I couldn't use them because I didn't have a mat!

Bra patterns (one of them by Beverly Johnson, author of the Bra-maker Manual), bra padding in various colors, bra kits: black/silver, chocolate/turquoise, emerald green/gold, hot pink/purple, dark red. Every kit has all the notions (except bra padding) and enough fabric and lace to make a bra and two pairs of panties.

And now, I proudly present you the result of a week's worth of sewing. Beware, I did nothing else this week but go to work and then go home and sew!

Coat, Burda 10/2007, 119

This is the best drafted coat pattern I've ever seen so far! I made it like it was (it is a petite pattern) and I didn't have to alter or change 1 mm of it! It's amazing! Look how elegant this side panel with pocket included is:

And I love the shape of the sleeve. It has a center seam and not cap ease - I think the pattern is cut down the center and all the cap ease is taken out in a dart. The shape is beautiful and as usual, I didn't even need to insert shoulder pads.

Back detail :

The coat is made out of the same wool knit that I used for my Chanel style jacket. The wool if you remember is very stretchy, therefore I underlined the entire coat with white cotton batiste. I love underlining, the coat is so soft and supple and so light!

Burda, 04/2007, blouse 114 with the sleeves of blouse 101 from Burda 09/2007. The original sleeves of the blouse were short and puffed. I copied the sleeve, measured from front (back) notch to the shoulder notch both on the bodice and the sleeve. The resulting difference (that allows for gathers in the sleeve) I took it out slashing the pattern and taking out 1 cm at each slash. The resulting cap sleeve was copied to the sleeve pattern of the other sleeve. The blouse is made in pure silk and I can wear it both with long ties or with a bow.

Burda 09/2007, dress 117

Dress unbelted

Dress belted

The dress is made out of two cuts (about 0.5 m each) of pure gorgeous wool. Those cuts were given to me by my mother, are at least 20 years old and come from a Romanian factory that used to make only wool fabrics.

See how gorgeous this fabric is, and it has the name of the factory (Libertatea Sibiu) woven in the selvage. "Lana pura" means "pure wool". Have no idea what "London shrunk" might mean. Christina reminded me that Carolyn describes in this post the London shrinking method. Thanks Christina! So this fabric was pre-shrunk in the factory. This amazes me.... I guess it means good quality, doesn't it? I also assume this fabric is wool crepe. I don't know the word in English, in Romanian we call it caşa (pronounced "kashà" - the word comes from German).

The dress is underlined with a great knit lining, silky and slippery (no static of any other problems over stockings, no wrinkling and practically inconspicuous). I used this tip on PR to underline and give a Hong Kong finish to the seams at the same time.

Jeans, Vogue 8202

These jeans are very low rise in the back and I noticed that good jeans are normally higher in the back. I therefore altered the waist seam of the yoke, raising it by 1.5 inches at the center and tapering to nothing at the sides.

I used two spools of topstitching thread threaded in the same jeans needle, as I didn't have any dark blue jeans thread. I'm not sure that I like that tone on tone topstitching, maybe I would have liked a rusty jeans thread better, but I wanted a pair of jeans to be worn with dressier jackets and thought that dark blue thread would be better.

Detail of the decorative stitching on the back pocket

Simplicity 4020

Monday, November 26, 2007

Chanel jacket is finished

Vogue 7975, sizes 6-22. I made size 6, view B.

Not only I wanted to make a Chanel-like jacket for quite some time (since I saw Marji's jacket - read her review here) but I was absolutely fascinated with this jacket) - it is from the Threads online extra to Susan Khalje's article about making a Chanel jacket. This particular jacket is not quilted, but mine is, because I tried as we say in my country "to shoot two rabbits with one bullet) - make this jacket and try the Chanel techniques as well.

I chose this pattern because it was recommended by many (including Susan Khalje) as a pattern adequate for a Chanel-like jacket.

Fabric: Wool spongy very stretchy knit, silk serge for the lining, white wool/poly for collar and cuffs, chain for the hem, silk thread and beeswax.

First of all, I should have made a muslin. I know I should have but patterns do fit me out of the envelope most of the times and I was so obsessed with this jacket that I wanted to start working on it right then. After quilting the entire jacket, I discovered that the jacket was a bit too large and the armhole was not as high as I would have wanted, plus the shoulder was 5/8 too long. See this post about the problems that I had.

See this about how I solved the problems:

1) I took in another 5/8 at each center front
2) I took in the shoulder with about 5/8
3) Dawn gave me great advice about inserting a gusset that would solve my too large armhole problem. She later published a great post about raising armholes and inserting sleeve gussets - read it here. My fabric being very spongy, you cannot see that gusset even if I raise my arm and you're really close :)

My fabric is not exactly the fabric you would use for a Chanel jacket. It's not boucle, but a spongy wool knit - it is very stretchy so quilting it to the lining was a challenge even with my walking foot, because the knit kept growing. What helped was pinning and holding the fabric taut crosswise. Steaming the knit also helped to make it go back into shape.

I would have never thought about making a Chanel quilted jacket out of something else than boucle, but I was inspired by Carolyn who used the Chanel-like quilting on a Jackie O inspired jacket that turned out absolutely gorgeous - see her jacket and read her posts about it here, here and here.

Therefore I used this spongy knit, I sewed the quilting lines with silk thread and afterwards brushed all the sewing lines with an old nail brush, to stimulate the "sponginess" of the fabric and make it cover the sewing. The quilting is quite inconspicuous as a result, as you can see below

The quilting was done 1.5 inches apart (it is usually done at 1 inch apart but I didn't want too many quilting lines on this wool).

I've used Burdastyle Eva 4102 pattern for the collar and the cuffs.

The pockets are not quilted, but lined and attached by hand, with very small fell stitches

Attaching the collar and the cuffs: I left both the neckline and the sleeve ends not quilted for about 2 inches. I interfaced with a soft knit fusible both pieces of the collar and both pieces of the cuff, sewed them together, turned, understitched and then attached them (together) to the fabric part of the jacket, keeping the lining away. The lining was then attached to the cuffs/collar with small fell stitches (see below).

At the time that I bought the pearl trim (more than 6 months ago in Brussels) I didn't know there was such a thing as pearl piping and therefore bought a string of pearls. I sewed them by hand, one by one, to the collar and the cuffs. See how I did that in this post.

I've tried the jacket on before pinning the chain to the hem and it fitted really good, which made me wonder if I need a chain at all. I pinned the chain and tried the jacket on again. A revelation! The jacket hangs so much better with the chain. I was lucky and got both the right chain weight and the right pinning (not too tight, as to gather the jacket and not too large, as to make it flare). Each chain link is sewn by hand to the hem, attaching both the upper part and the lower part of the link with fell stitches, securing the chain perfectly to the jacket.

I'm really very happy with my new jacket and can't wait to wear it. I leave tomorrow for a very important and official meeting outside my town and it will come in handy.

Too bad, but the photos don't show the tiny white dots on my skirt and the little pearl earrings that I wear.

Read my PR review here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Sewing the string of pearls to the collar and cuffs

I use a double thread, waxed and then pressed to melt the wax into it. This gives it strength and it also reduces tangling and knotting. First, I insert the needle in the fold (the fold of the cuff in this pictures) and take it out, making sure the needle and thread are in the back of the string of pearls.

I then bring the needle and thread to the front. What I do is actually a blanket stitch (see a drawing below), but I take care to thread the needle through the thread that joins the little pearls. Hope the pic speaks better than me :)

And this is how the stitch looks...

And now I put the needle in the same spot where I started the blanket stitch, thread it through the fold and take it out near the next pearl.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

More on the Chanel jacket and some other stuff

OK, as promised, another progress report.

After all the problems encountered last week and a good lesson learned (make a muslin, you lazy idiot, even if patterns usually fit you out of the envelope!!!!) I'm finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel.

What I did:
1) took in another 5/8 at each center front opening, that was easy to do, because that seam is stitched by hand anyway.

2) redrew the armhole, as shown in the picture below (sorry for the poor quality of pictures, they're taken with the phone)

3) inserted a gusset to make the armhole higher, as advised by Dawn. Dawn, thank you very much for this great idea, it worked wonders plus as the fabric is indeed spongy, you don't notice it at all.

I've worked like a slave on this jacket, the entire last week, the weekend, yesterday too. It takes quite a lot of work (didn't count the hours and I wish I had) but not only it's worth it, but I discovered that hand sewing is very relaxing for me. I've been hand sewing for ages (four years of Home economics in school plus helping my grandmother with hand sewing - she was the seamstress of the village and she only had one of those ancient Singers, with a mechanical pedal and doing only a straight stitch. Therefore, even if I mainly taught myself to sew, I did have lots of practice on doing fell stitches, slip stitches, catch stitches and buttonholes in my childhood) and therefore am faster than I would have thought. The fake fur coat that you see below is done recently by Livia, my sister (including the hat) entirely by hand. No, I'm not kidding, they moved to Sweden in January this year and she cannot afford a sewing machine yet.

Back to the Chanel jacket: so far, the sleeves are inserted, the cuffs are there too, collar is inserted, the entire lining is closed everywhere with fell stitches. I attached the pearl trim to the collar and center fronts and I still have to attach it to the cuffs. I sewn the patch pockets by hand (it's sooooo good to have a spongy fabric), the hem is done too. I still have to attach the hooks and eyes, but I tried the jacket on and marked their position. I also have to attach the chain at the hem. And let me tell you: last night I tried the jacket on and I said to myself: why should I attach a chain? It fits very nice the way it is. Then, I pinned carefully the chain to the jacket's hem and tried it on again. Boy, what a difference. I can't even explain it, it is a different jacket! I'm so glad that I managed to get the right weight for the chain. I had no idea what kind of chain I should get but I just weighed several types in my hand and let my sewist gut decide for me :)

And now, about my recent addiction: lingerie. It's only Sigrid's fault! :) Sigrid, good luck with the blouse. Don't despair just yet, I'm sure it will turn out great. I had some elastic lace and some cotton/lycra in my stash, I took apart a pair of boyshorts and here you are:

Wide stretch lace

Cotton/lycra and symmetrical stretch lace cut in two lenghtwise and sewn to the fabric with a small zigzag (2.5 width, 2.5 mm length)

Cotton/lycra and scalloped stretch lace

Love these boyshorts, they are super comfy, they show no visible panty line and I think they're sexy too. It takes 30 minutes to make a pair and I cut 4 pairs at once. I now have to find the time and energy to take apart (with lots of care) an old and very well-fitting bra. Then, once I have a good pattern, sky is the limit as one of my friends likes to say.

And before I go ... a teaser :)

Let me tell you, when I bought this pearl trim, I didn't know there was pearl piping. Therefore my pearl trim is actually a string of pearls. I had to sew it by hand, little by little, catching each little knot between pearls in my sewing. I'll show some pics of how I did that in my final post showing the jacket.