Tuesday, January 29, 2008

How did I manage so far without underlined pants?

So I've managed to get back (partially, because I'm not sewing with my usual passion) my sewing mojo and finished the first two items of my Timmel SWAP the past weekend. If you remember, my provisional SWAP title is "Not Your Usual Basics" and my first two items are NYU (not your usual) black pants and NYU pencil skirt.

The NYU pants are part of my wardrobe pattern (a requirement for the Timmel SWAP is to make at least three different items from the same wardrobe pattern) - Vogue 2813, an out of print Donna Karan. I don't like pants that sit at my natural waist (I don't like how they look on me) but I do like these pants - they have a really high waist and I call them my "toreador" pants. It is precisely this high waist that made me call them "not your usual black pants". The pants look great with a blouse tucked in or over them (see at the end of the post for a white Burda shirt worn over them) and I finally get to wear my older shorter T-shirts without flashing my panties every time I bend to pick up something :)

Fabric: gorgeous wool with a bit of elasthane.

I must say I find that the pants look better in real life than in photos. Worn them in the office yesterday and at least 6 people asked if I lost weight recently. Believe me, I haven't lost one gram!

Back of pants

Now, regarding the title of this post, I have two things to say: 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. Even for jackets, I'm thinking of using the flatlining method - described by Shannon Gifford in a recent Threads article.

Part of my great liking of underlinings is this gorgeous knit lining 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. The result: I cannot wear unlined pants anymore! :)

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.
See below the finished seam. I bound the hem with a band cut from the same knit lining, to go nicely with my Hong Kong seams.

The method works for vertical seams and I wasn't sure if I could use it on the center seam of the pants, therefore for those seams I used a method described by Shannon in this post. See the center seam below. The method described by Shannon (and coming from a Threads article I think) is a lot like Sandra Betzina's method, that I used for this pair of pants. I must say I like this one better than Sandra Betzina's, first because the underlining is cut with the same seam allowance as the fashion fabric and second because it has a 3/8 (approx. 1 cm) seam allowance instead of 5/8 (1.6 cm) which for me, looks better and cleaner. See it below.

I've used a self-made polkadotted bias binding for the facing (goes well with my SWAP colours - black, white and red and with my love for polka dots) . The same polkadotted satin was used to finish the end of the zipper. Perfect match with my label too :)

The waist facing is boned, I've inserted (see below the wrong side of the facing) 7 pieces of Rigilene boning, quite wide (almost 1 cm/3/8 inches, I think). After boning the waist of this skirt, I'm in love with this Rigilene boning. You don't feel it at all, because it is flexible and it molds to your body (it is sensitive to body heat). I wore this pants yesterday in the office and believe me, I forgot there was boning in my waist. Totally comfortable, no poking, no rigidness - but enough support not to have those horizontal strain wrinkles in the waist. The facing is also interfaced with a strong woven fusible (hope you can see it in the picture).

And now, my NYU pencil skirt - Burda WOF 12/2007, the skirt from the ensemble 123.

Not so usual, because the skirt is cut on the bias and also, because I've added a black-on-black handsewn embroidery near the hem.

Let me tell you, this pattern is gorgeous. The bias cut is form-fitting and curve-enhancing but at the same time there is enough ease over the hips to be comfortable and enough stretch at the hem to be able to walk (there is not slit in the back of this skirt).

The skirt is underlined with the same knit lining and using the same method described above of underlining and giving a Hong Kong finish at the same time.

I bound the hem too at the beginning but then I found that binding made it too tight for walking therefore I ripped it and serged the hem. The underlining is cut on grain and not on the bias, because the knit lining is stretchy enough. This eliminated all the problems you normally have with bias-cut garments and made it beautifully stable. See below that there is no rippling in the side seams and no bubble at the end of the invisible zipper. And that with no special effort, simply due to the underlining cut on grain.

This skirt made me change my mind about my most-flattering skirt length. This year I preferred to hem my skirts just to cover my knee. Now I find that hemming them at mid-knee is much more flattering. Maybe because the skirt stops at one of my thinner parts instead of ending at a wider part.

And last, a blouse made two weeks ago (before losing my mojo) which will probably be a SWAP extra. This is blouse 120, from Burda WOF 01/2008.

Fabric: high quality stretch poplin, black cotton lace

Sorry for the blurry picture... Blouse over the NYU pants

Blouse tucked in my NYU skirt

There is a collar underneath the collar with the lace. It has a bit of a different shape and it acts like a support for this decorative collar. Burda actually has you put two of these decorative collars, not sewn to each other, just two pieces of fabric, one with lace and the other one with a serger finished edge. My fabric having quite some body, I preferred to make only one "floating" collar instead of too. If I make this blouse again, I might ditch the support collar underneath altogether and only put the two "floating" collars.

I've used black lace instead of white. I love the contrast...

Also, I didn't have the special closures required by Burda, therefore made loops out of fabric bias strips and used some mother of pearl vintage buttons for the closure.

The inside of the blouse is secured with two ties, one caught in the side seam, the other one attached to the left front.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Can't find a title, can't make a plan :(

OK, so I wanted to show you my first two bras today but first I couldn't find my camera then I did find it (in a drawer where I looked a dozen times without seeing it) but managed to take really crappy pictures. I'll try again tonight.

What I want to write about today is my plan (or lack of it) for the TimmelFabrics SWAP 2008. The contest takes place between 1 January 2008 and 11 April 2008 and it is about sewing a perfectly coordinated wardrobe made of 11 garments: 1 jacket, 4 bottoms and 6 tops. You can substitute a maximum of two dresses for two tops. In case of jumpers, these would count as bottoms. All the tops must work with all the bottoms and the jacket must go with everything. You can use two previously sewn garments and one garment that was purchased. You must also use a print in this wardrobe. Every year, the contest has a "twist" to make it more interesting and this year's twist is that three garments must be made from a "wardrobe" pattern. The entire text of the rules can be read here. There's also a SWAP discussion thread at Artisan Square, here and see the storyboards made until now here.

It's been at least one month since I'm trying to come up with a plan for this SWAP and I keep changing my mind or hesitating. Therefore I've decided NOT to make a storyboard, at least not for the time being.

My provisional and painful SWAP plan:
  • My colours will probably be black, white and red (how very innovative, right?)
  • I'll probably make a coat instead instead of a jacket and the coat will be made out of my print - the red, white and black boucle from TimmelFabrics
  • I'll probably make 4 bottoms - two skirts and two pants, five tops and one dress
  • My provisional title is "Not your usual basics", as I plan to have several basics (a little black dress, a pair of lined black pants, a pair of jeans, a white shirt) but I will try to give them a little twist.
  • My wardrobe pattern will probably be Vogue 2813, an out of print Donna Karan

My second bra and the two matching pairs of panties are my first SWAP extra :)