Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Butterick 5455 for this year's Birthday Dress

That last post was slightly serious - even though I am very happy with that blue dress - so it's time to switch gears and indulge in something frivolous, a completely unnecessary floral frock. Say that 5 times fast.  I like that word frock, it seems to be used mostly by Australians as far as I can tell. Do you say that in the UK?  Here is the US we only have the word "dress" for this garment. Maybe frock will catch on. It sounds quaint to me, like something from a movie set in the 20's or 30's. Although Frocktails - that is something I can get behind. Perhaps I should organize for the bay area. Anyone interested?

But this post is all about me, and my birthday. Aaagh, how narcissistic that sounds. but after all a sewing blog is sometimes a bit narcissistic - or at least self indulgent, filled with photos of one's self modeling the latest creations. I do admire the people who can make their photos very interesting, sadly I am not one of them, and have to hope that I can get some shots that are at a minimum in focus and the garment is visible. But for my birthday I am usually on vacation so the background is at least improved:)

Butterick dress on me front

I have mentioned my pattern love for this one before and decided to make a version for myself, as I have sewn this pattern at least 10 times but never once made it for me. It is Butterick 5455 which is sadly OOP. I have mentioned before that I think this is a stellar pattern, looks good on lots of figures, has pockets! and a very pretty neckline front and back. Here is my previous post with a number of versions pictured.

Front and back on the dress form. I mentioned in my previous post that this is a sleeveless dress which is designed as a sleeveless dress. One of my pet peeves is patterns which have sleeved and sleeveless versions, when you take off the sleeves I find the armhole and shoulder to be a bit clunky which this pattern avoids.
Butterick front on form4Butterick back on form

The fabric is a remnant that I found at Stone Mountain earlier this summer. I actually bought it as my sister mentioned wanting a ponte dresses, then I found a dress in her size on sale in just her colors (navy blue and white) My sis and I have a challenge of finding things for each other on the super sale rack. She started it years ago and now we hunt for some perfect item with a price limit of $ 10 in summer and $ 15 in winter. Anything is fair game from exercise wear to tops, dresses, pants and even shoes. You would be surprised how fun it is to shop for someone else with no pressure, with just the potential to find something perfect. I think we are even so far (sisterly competition of course :).

price tag ponte

I am not the biggest fan of ponte and the colors might be too bright for some - although not for me. Turquoise and coral in one print, how could I resist?

back view on me Butterick dress

I didn't really try to match anything however now I see that the print kind of flows across the back skirt. so yay! and eek I need to get to the gym after this vacation - great meals going right to my hips. Oh well, that's what vacations are for.

How about a little inside view and some fitting info?
I made a size 12 which is my typical Vogue/Butterick/McCalls size and this dress is well proportioned so I would not say there is any excessive ease. I always cut things out with a 1 inch side seam allowance at the hip and then fit it as I go on the body, to create just the right fit and hip curve. This metal ruler is something I've had for ages and so useful for long curved seams. And Frixon pens.

Butterick dress side seam

I don't usually take fitting photos in the mirror but I was working on this one and realized it would illustrate one of my fitting mantras which is "pinch an inch". Reading other blogs and feedback on pattern fit I think the preference is very close fitting garments but I prefer a slight difference between the body and the garment measurements makes it so much more pleasant to wear, and actually hangs better on the figure, with no drag lines or pulling. So this dress is fitted but I can "pinch an inch" at the side seam, meaning that it might measure about 2 inches more than my measurement. Of course with knits you can have less ease but with a woven that 2 inches in circumference is really necessary.
and ignore my messy floor - plus my footwear :) those are my sewing clogs. Never step on a pin with those on my feet.

Butterick pinch an inch

Other fit adjustments, I added a bit of length in the upper part of the bodice, about 1 inch at the center.
The yellow line marks where the pattern piece would have been without the addition. Look at the above photo and imagine if I had not added that front bodice length, the seam would have been too high and bisecting at an awkward spot. Interestingly I didn't need to shorten the back bodice which I typically do. I also took it up at the shoulder seam about an extra 1/2 inch which is also typical.

Butterick on form close up

Inside view, lined the bodice with a white poly lining and left the skirt unlined. It's kind of hard to see but the hem mark is thread traced. Once I decide on the hem I usually run a thread trade along the fold and then I can unpin and finish the dress without having pins come out or losing the hem place. It takes a couple of minutes but actually makes the garment easier to handle for the last few steps.

Butterick inside view

So that's the scoop on this year's birthday dress. The weather has been great despite the state being in the path of 3 hurricanes in a row - which all have taken a turn and moved their direction away from the islands. A little more rain than usual, and very hot and humid. But the alternative could have been a lot worse! And we are all saying that it will seem extra brown and dry when we get home to drought stricken California.

Butterick dress on me5

Beach day tomorrow and then dinner at one of my favorite restaurants - what a perfect way to spend a birthday.

Aloha, Beth

Friday, August 28, 2015

Vintage pattern nostalgia with McCalls 6544

Having learned to sew as a young child means that once in a while I come across a pattern now listed as vintage that I recall making when it was new. I am sure half of those reading know what I mean and the other half will just have to wait a few years to see their current cute styles listed as "vintage" on Etsy (which has a very loose description of vintage).

I am feeling nostalgic this week for all kinds of reasons. Back in Hawaii on vacation and thinking about travel, family and sewing across the years. Nostalgic because I am here with my family and some very good friends, recalling previous trips, and remembering those who aren't with us anymore. A little sad, a little sweet but good memories. I have mentioned before that my parents were not ones for camping or car trips, but a beach house, some palm trees and spending the day swimming in the ocean was their idea of a vacation idyll. I love being a native Californian but Hawaii is my second home, over the years some family members have lived here for extended periods and I have lost count of the number of trips taken over here but it must be around 100. Family vacations, romantic trips, girlfriend getaways, there were times that it took less time to fly to Hawaii and be on the beach than it took to get up to Tahoe for a ski weekend (if you have driven to Tahoe on a Friday night in snowstorm you know what I mean).

So all those vacations photos tucked away somewhere, the funny thing is if I look at them I can recall most every item I sewed, particularly the fabric if not the pattern. One night I was browsing on Etsy and came across a pattern that I knew I had sewn, and even that I had made it twice! So I ordered it and then promptly set it aside for a "sometime sew". A few weeks ago I came across it in my vintage pattern box and figured why not now?

blue batik on me2

I bought this batik fabric last year over here, and while it is a tiny bit too stiff for a dress that is supposed to be a bit drapey but it works and I love the color. Other than shortening I cut it out as is.

McCalls 6544 vintage pattern envelope

Now is my moment to repeat that there are no new patterns - sewn for a long time and seen it all. Recently I saw a few versions of the True Bias Southport dress and noticed it was quite similar to this pattern. What I like about this McCalls pattern (and a lot of older patterns in general) is that they include the pattern pieces to make the armhole and neckline bindings. Another detail I like is the waistline casing is on the inside and the ties are threaded to the outside via buttonholes at the center front.

blue batik front on form

It doesn't have bust darts, what would be bust darts are rotated into gathers at the neckline which is very pretty. And probably would lay better in a softer fabric. I remember the two versions I made were both rayon challis, one royal blue with black flowers and the other was emerald green (love those jewel tones:)

To fit this I added some length in the front bodice and created horizontal bust darts. If I had not done this then the waist casing would have been pulling upwards. So in this instance the neckline gathers become more for style and less for fit. Other fit changes, pinched out 1.5 inches of length in the middle back tapering to zero at the size seams, as I do with almost all McVoguerick patterns.

The back has a pretty neckline and the same gathers there.

blue batik back neckline

Close up of the front neckline. The pattern has a bias binding that is in the same fabric, that is sewn on and then folded. The pattern says to fold, press under and hand stitch inside - which I like to do but I bet on a current pattern this would not go over very well! Hand sewing seems to be minimized which is understandable, but there are times when it gives a nice result. I suppose it could have been finished with topstitching but for a change I like to see a binding without stitching. In a silk it is especially pretty and I think you have more control with hand sewing tiny bindings.

blue batik front neckline

However the best part of this pattern is that there are pattern pieces included for placing the gathers.
Here are the neckline binding pieces, they give the complete pieces, with that nice diagonal seam in the center back. That is one benefit of the single size older patterns, they could and did include all the pieces for bindings, facings etc and didn't have to create one pattern piece that included all the sizes. It certainly makes working with the pattern a lot easier - not having to hunt for your size among all the pieces. Also the printing was bolder - just a tiny thing but it really makes them clearer. This bias neckline has 3/8" seam allowance, which is clearly marked, plus all the notches, front and back, shoulder seams, etc.

blue batik neck band

This is the clever bit, the guide for placement of the gathers. Shown here the piece for the back neckline. You cut it out of paper and then can use it as a guide to place the gathers, then stitch them into place before you apply the neckline binding.

blue batik stitching guide

Here is the paper guide sewn onto the dress back neckline. And the stitching perforations make it easy to pull it away. Now the neckline is gathered nicely and you don't have to fiddle with any gathering stitches, trying to make them fit while applying the bias neckline binding. It is especially nice for the bodice front, as the placement of those gathers is more crucial to the fit over the bust.

blue batik gathering guide

Back view on me

back on me blue batik

Here is the waist tie, made by sewing a casing on the inside, and making a buttonhole on either side of the center front. The fabric tie is sewn to elastic which makes it very comfortable. And of course pockets in the side seams - as any good pattern should have!  Late night sewing means I scrounged around in my button box and came up with a few cards of these plain blue buttons. Matching well enough and just the right size. It pays to accumulate a lot of button cards when they go on sale.

blue batik front closeup tie

Last fit note, once the neckline was finished I basted up the side seams and decided that 80's shaping (in a word - voluminous!) was not right for me now.  I lopped off a lot of circumference by taking it in about 2 inches at each side seam at the upper bodice and a good 5 inches by the time I got to the hem. It would have been a very full skirt otherwise. I think the finished bust was intended to be about 40 inches - way too much fabric for my 2015 eyes but otherwise a timeless pattern with a lot of good details.

blue batik on me 1

Ok that's all for this one - time to hit the beach. By the way I am participating in the #sewphotohop on Instagram  which has been a lot of fun. A great way to find new-to-me sewing fanatics all over the globe. True confession - I am extra happy when I find some new-to-me blogs this way - I really like reading all the extra details that a blog post can provide.

Up next a few more new items that made it into my suitcase, including a lot of Girl Charlee fabrics. I told you I could not resist a tropical novelty print....

Happy Sewing, Beth

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Fitting facts ahead: Vogue 8787 dress in rayon jersey

Fitting details ahead! Including my hand drawn illustration of pattern adjustments. I have written before that fitting is the final frontier for many a seamstress/sewist/stitcher (take your choice). I am seriously considering doing a post this fall with a before and after approach. Making two muslins, a non-fitted and a fitted version to highlight all the changes I might make. Which sounds like a lot of work. But for some reason the idea is stuck in my head. We'll see how things go in the fall, when summer is waning and I can't face the idea of fall sewing - yes I am the odd one out, fall sewing is not my thing.  (#summer forever) ha ha.
Anyway, onto today's project.

Back in June my friend and sewing client Heather spent a couple of weeks in NYC. There was fabric shopping involved with long distance consultations and a flurry of photos and texts. The grand total being fabric for 7 garments purchased at Mood and some other spots. How long it will take me to sew up these items time will tell.
Some of the fabrics are for specific items, more fall/winter in season so they can wait. I will definitely be repeating this Burda dress as it is a fantastic pattern. One silk fabric is perfect for wearing on a tropical vacation so we will set that aside until needed. A couple of the fabrics were jersey knits which are ideal for dresses most all year round here, so I started with a pattern that I have made twice before for Heather, Vogue 8787, view E with the cowl drape neckline. I like this pattern as it has a lot of options.

Vogue 8787

The dress on Heather. When fall arrives we will have to do a better photo shoot than standing in front of my blank wall but it was way too scorching to go outside that day. The fabric is a lot more blue that it appears here - and looks so nice with her blue eyes/blonde hair. I am so happy with the fit. Waistband in exactly the right spot!

Heather in dress

Here is the finished dress, on the dress form. The fabric is from Mood in NY and it is still available on their website here.  I was a bit doubtful when I first saw it because it has a print that could read or need to be worked with as a stripe but actually this pattern was just right. Nice how the bodice is on the bias giving a bit of motion to the print. And the slight pattern matching creating a flow across the right and left sleeve was a very happy accident. (I should take credit for these things so you can think I'm a wizard - ha ha, not at all, just luck.) This pattern calls for woven or knit so the upper pattern piece has to be on the bias.

V8787 dress closeup on form

Ok fitting details shown here with my slightly comic-book illustration but you get the idea.

V8787 pattern adjustments

Starting with the front pattern piece. I have only drawn one quarter of it here, it is actually the entire front and is doubled so that you cut it on a single layer, on the bias, and it creates its own lining. So the adjustments in green have to be done on both halves and/or side of the pattern piece.

  1. I choose the pattern size based on her circumference measurements. I added to the seam allowance 3/8" to make a full 1" seam allowance on all side seams, which I think of as fitting insurance. That makes the dress likely to be too big but I find it best to sculpt or fit the side seams on the body. Granted it is quite easy to do this on someone else instead of for yourself. But I do it when sewing for myself as well. Just involves a lot of on and off and flitting around in my sewing room in my undies. Worth it in the end. No seam ripping needed :) 
  2. Add length in front bodice. Perhaps a bit unorthodox in terms of an FBA, but it will work. Really works in jersey, a bit more tricky in a woven. Anyway...I added about 1.25" I think. This is to counteract that waistband seam rising up and bisecting the bust. If you are in the full-bust category you know what I mean, anything ready to wear is likely to hit at the wrong spot and pull upwards. Just geometry, folks.  We will deal with the difference between back and front in a minute. 
  3. Raise armholes. She is about 5ft. 3in. and I find that if you are sewing at the high end of the bust range the patterns of course get bigger everywhere - so the height or depth of everything is too much. I use size 12 in Vogue for myself, am about 5 ft. 3.5in. tall and even then the shoulders are too long, the armholes are often too big. I don't like seeing an armhole that is too big on a sleeveless dress, and just tightening it up at the underarm seam is not the answer. You have to adjust the actual armhole, luckily this is one of the easier pattern adjustments. I raised this one about 1 inch. My words to sew by "you can take away but you can't add".
  4. Back bodice. Raise the armholes there also. Then on to my number one fitting mania, the back waist seam. See red section removed. Which I have squawked about before. Here is my primo example with photos from April 2014, A Fiting Post: Watch your Back!   I think this adjustment is more common than I every realized, and often sewing students say something to the effect of "I didn't know I could just cut off there". You can cut off the extra fabric anywhere!  BIG note on this one, I have made this pattern for Heather 3 times now so the pattern is all adjusted, however on the first version I did this adjustment on the body, thread traced my adjustments on the dress, sewed it and then transferred all those adjustments to the pattern for posterity. I will say that every fabric behaves a bit differently so the amount of adjustments can vary with fabric. (Jersey is heavy and pulls more than a woven might).  Also note; the length of the back bodice bottom edge gets a little longer when it is cut on an angle like shown (again geometry:) but I have some fit insurance on the side seams of all my pieces so we are Ok there. But keep that in mind if you do this type of adjustment. A simple sheath dress with a waist seam, where you do this adjustment will need some more length across the upper part of the back skirt to match the back bodice. Hope that makes sense!
  5. Center back. Even with a full bust a person can have very narrow shoulders or just be a small frame carrying a lot of, shall we say, frontage? So the pattern size that accommodates bust and high bust is way too big for the shoulders, even if you don't pick a size by bust but instead choose by high bust and then do an FBA. Anyway - The center back seam is an easy place to adjust and if you do the zipper last as I do then it is really a good spot to get that final fit worked out. In this pattern with the cowl front it is idea, on a more structured style you would have to be more precise in the fit of the front and back. 
  6. What about that difference between front and back side seam? I just treat it like an invisible dart, in that I gather the section that would be a dart on the front side and ease it into the back. A lot of knit t-shirts have this type of easing and even some woven patterns. If the difference is about 1-2 inches more in the front I think that can be eased into the back with little problem. 
Here is a look at the dress from the side, and just imagine that extra 2 inches of length along that back bodice. The waistband looks reasonably horizontal here, maybe a bit tilted but a dress form is not a human and would be a lot lower if that section had not been removed. Also she has extremely good posture which is another contributor to having too much length in the bodice. People who slump over get longer in that dimension, so they can use the extra length but if you stand up nice and straight then your dress might end up bunching around the waist.

Heather dress side view

I lined the dress in a jersey as well. I get a lot of questions as to what I use to line knit dresses and it is not particularly special fabric, after some experimentation I have settled on some poly knit fabric that I buy at Joanns. 100% poly, they call it Jet Set knit fabric, it comes in a lot of colors, washes easily and makes a really good lining for these rayon knit dresses. They have a lot of other types of knits that I have used for lining, check the dance wear aisle. I think some of the nylons or poly that you use for inside dance/gym costumes are ideal for using as lining in knit dresses. My biggest tip is to check the slipperiness factor - you want something that won't stick and grab the outer fabric. But this Jet Set stuff works well and is darn cheap (like between $ 3 to 6 dollars/yard depending on sales or coupons.
I go bonkers when I buy it and the sales associate says Oh what are you making with this. Like I would make a 100% poly thin knit item in that color. Yikes. Although they must be bored and I would ask every customer that if I worked there as well. But I can't tell you the number of times I have bought lining - like actual lining and they ask what I am making with it. Sad lack of sewing info at those places - gripe for another time.

V8787 inside out dress lining

And you can see my seaming is a bit off in the inside. Which makes no difference to wearability so it stays :)

Back view. Oh by the way - I didn't use the skirt that came with this pattern. Never have. I think it has seaming, 3 piece front and back. I was making something else for Heather when I made this first dress, and also muslining a different Vogue pattern which we ended up never sewing in real fabric but the skirt was all adjusted so I frankenpatterned it onto this one. Same basic shape and no seaming.

V8787 dress back on form

I hope this fitting info is helpful, and my explanation makes sense! My biggest fitting tip is to consider the up and down measurements along with the circumference.

Onward with more summer sewing for me, I have a backlog of summer items to post so those will be coming up soon. Including a semi-vintage pattern that is totally timeless. (is it vintage if I made it when it was new, in the 80's when I was, ahem, younger?) Let's just take this moment to remember that I have been sewing since age 8 so I could have been in elementary school. (not!)  Best not to dwell, right?  And speaking of time passing, I have my annual new dress for my birthday, I try to make something fun or different. This year is is a pattern repeat sewn many times but never for myself. Wait and see:)

Stay cool if summer is in full force wherever you are, and happy sewing.

Today's SunnyGal garden photo, what else for the heat of the summer but this fantastic sunflower.


Saturday, August 8, 2015

Peak pattern perfection, 2nd time with Vogue 8904, the shingle dress

Prepare for Stripe-a-palooza! I just made that up. I have stripe-itis this summer. For some reason I have acquired a bunch of striped fabrics and and am sewing up a stripe-y storm. Which is so weird, as I don't think I had anything striped before I made this outfit. That one was kind of a tour de force of stripe-ishness and won't be repeated. Although I told myself to make the skirt again, as it was very fun. Uh, wait. My first stripe item precedes the bias stripe one, and it is this very pattern we are discussing today. Vogue 8904.
Wow, I am rambling this morning. I got 8.5 hours of sleep last night so ENERGY! And it is Saturday morning! woo hoo!  Slight aside, I usually write my blog posts throughout the week, finish them up and hit post on Friday but today you have Saturday morning stream of consciousness blog post. We'll see how that goes :)
Back to the topic at hand, Vogue 8904, a.k.a The Shingle Dress. which I think was coined by my friend Shams. This pattern is a couple of years old now, and there were a flurry of versions that first year but I finally got around to it last year. And was barely satisfied with that one, which was kind of a test version in my mind.
And now the latest version.

shingle dress on form front

Pattern Love !  This one is a winner and maybe I should retire it as I finally found the exact fabric and color way that I had envisioned. I guess this is a ponte knit? Or something like that. I rarely sew with ponte knits so I am not that familiar. In any case a beefier knit that rayon jersey or cotton interlock. Which is really perfect for this dress, it gives it a little more shape and body than a thin knit.
I bought it at Stone Mountain a couple of months ago so I am sure it is long gone. Not sure if you can tell but it is navy blue with emerald green. A very Kate Spade combo.

Sewing details, not that many. If you are interested in sewing this pattern I have details in the first version post. Including how to adjust the shingles so that in the back they don't crumple across your back or bottom (which if you have a substantial backside and are on the short side as I am is quite likely) a genius solution which I didn't come up with. Read that post and see how it is helpful to have sewing friends examine your rear view :)

Yes, I am so hot I have to wear shades. Ha ha,  more like it is 100˚F and time to change into my swimsuit for a dip. Now I know why dusk is the magic time for blog photos. less sweating and glare :)

shingle dress on me

Back view. My slim-hipped form does not fill out a dress like I do. Annoying.

shingle dress on form back

I was quite stumped when I first used this pattern how to get the stripes to match on the side but Shams to the rescue, in one of our conversations she said the trick was to put the bottom cutting edge of the shingle on the same spot on every pattern piece. And that works perfectly. Although see top back shingle here - I evidently didn't finish cutting that piece so could not figure out why it didn't match up correctly on the other side. Duh! fixed now. But I could not see the problem looking at it closely for a couple of days. Example of "can't see the forest for the trees".

shingle dress on form side

I love how the binding turned out on this version. I plotted, planned and carefully pressed to have that green stripe on the edge everywhere. I think it ties the whole look together.  Also on the previous version of this dress, I made the stripe binding at right angles to the dress body. While it looks great it was terrible to sew and proved why knit bindings need to be on the cross grain.

shingle dress neckline

Not sure why this is, perhaps by pattern alterations  - grading between sizes from top to bottom on both versions of this dress I have some triangle-y stick out bits on the edge of the shingles. which I just chop off and it seems to work perfectly. After this version I have concluded that it is the difference in stretch factor between the inner knit lining and the outer fabric. Whatever, even with that little adjustment the stripes still match and that is all that matters.

Edge of Shingle dress

Here is the pattern for this dress. I think the envelope versions are awful, and they look like they belong in a stylish vampire movie. If I had not seen this pattern sewn up by others I would not have given it a chance. thank you internet!

V8904 pattern envelope

A look at my dress in the slightly better lighting. This is one of the most comfortable dresses in my wardrobe. A great twist on the classic sheath dress. Plus a chance to wear my green sandals. Too matchy? too bad I like them :)

Stripe dress edited

So that's the latest stripe update. More bulletins to come. I posted another stripe item on my Instagram a few days ago for the #sewphotohop,  day 3: Colorful. and the fabric was a winner. So that one will be coming up soon.
I am enjoying the #sewphotohop - typically I am not much for blog tours or hops or whatever but it is a fun way to find out what is going on and hopefully discover some new to me blogs (a few weeks in and I still wish people blogged more instead of just instagrammed but that's probably just me. Reading long form sewing posts - I like to get the details!)

Ok, off to savor the weekend. Happy sewing, Beth

and today's SunnyGal garden photo. This is a really interesting Salvia I bought at the local junior college horticultural department's plant sale. I have gotten some great stuff there, such a good resource. The tag says "salvia darcyi" and it has curly stalks and stems so I have not quite decided on a spot for it. Still in the pot but it needs a sunny spot.

Garden may 2015

Friday, July 31, 2015

Pineapple Express denim jacket

This blog post title is not referring to the movie Pineapple Express - a movie comedy with Seth Rogan from a few years ago - but I could not resist calling it that. As it turns out, my latest project is based on what I learned by sewing the Jacket Express, and uses this pineapple print white denim. So in my mind - Pineapple Express.
Earlier this spring I saw the fabric on the Girl Charlee website and showed it to my mom because like me, she has a hard time resisting a tropical print. And I had always wanted to make the Jacket Express pattern for her. In fact I bought the Craftsy class to get the pattern, and figured I would make one for myself to try it. As it turned out that faded red denim jacket is something  wear all the time. For this version I made a muslin in her size and when she tried it on she hated it. I was annoyed but now I can admit that the fit and shape were just not right. So I played around with it, adjusted some of the pieces and tried again. No luck. At that point she said "I like the denim jacket I have, can't you just make one like that?"   um, yeah...but I was trying to avoid doing that. However in the end it was the better way to go.

OK, prepare your eyeballs but this one is a bit crazy.

Denim white jacket pineapple fabric, front view

But kind of cute in a novelty way. And it came out so well!  Now I want to remake next year in a different denim.
Here is the original jacket which I copied.  If you would like to see how I copy the garment here is a post where I copied my own denim jacket, and here is a post showing how I copied a shirt. That second post has more of the details on how to do it. I use a mixture of methods and I do recommend the Craftsy class on how to copy garments, it is quite good. Also the instructor (Steffani Lincecum) has a book on the topic which I got once at my local library so that is an option as well.

Denim jacket original

So my copy looks darn close to the original. I lightened up this dark denim one so you can see the seam lines. I think that jackets are actually the easiest thing to copy, as the pieces on a jacket are mostly small so while it may seem daunting, I just go step by step with all the components, then test the pattern.

Jacket on J close up
And here is my mom modeling her pineapple jacket. The sleeves are long but she likes to flip up the cuffs so I just copied as is.
The only change I made from the original was to add a bit in the upper yoke to account for slight curvature at the upper back - which we will all have after years and years of hunching over computers etc. To accommodate that I added two darts which you can't even see on the outside but are more visible on the inside. I used plain white cotton for the back yoke to make it lighter and also so the pattern would not show through.

Denim white jacket back inside

The jacket front is kind of interesting as it appeared to have very little shaping but as I copied the pieces I noticed that the center front panel is curved and makes a slight princess seam shape. Also that tricky center front panel is what creates the pocket bag, and while it was a bit of a pain to replicate it does work nicely.

Denim white jacket inside front

You can see the front shaping better when the jacket is flat on my worktable. At the upper yoke is just a flap, no pocket as I drew the line on unusable pockets! But I thought it needed the flap. Although then I skipped the button there. Oh well.

Denim white jacket pocket and cuff close up

I really learned a lot from that Craftsy Jacket Express class and used that order of construction here. Also the when, where and how to topstitch as she explains it is very good. That class is called "Sew Better Sew Faster" and it is apt. I think I made that first red denim jacket in about 9 hours and this one was even quicker.

One of the most important things in making your own pattern is to put lots of markings. Reference dots to mark where the collar ends, or were the yoke meets the sleeve. They really help when you go to sew it up.

Denim white jacket close up collar

Another look at mom, and about 10 minutes after I took this we jumped in the pool as it was over 100˚F that day. My folks put the pool in when my sister and I were about 2 and 4, we learned to swim that year and my dad always said that was one of the best "investments" he ever made :) Back in my pre-air-conditioned childhood, we were out there from morning to late at night. And my mom would say "sure, it's fine for you kids but I can't cook our dinner in the pool". Mothers always have the last word!

jacket on J

No more jackets for a while, I just sewed up some of my other Girl Charlee knits and also completed a dress for Heather using one of her fabrics from Mood in NY. So that will be on the blog soon.

I do have enough fabric left from this project - do you think a denim pineapple skirt for me would look goofy or fun? You know I am going to sew it up and see.

Stay cool and enjoy your summer sewing. Or step away from the machine and go outside! I think that's what I will do.


Today's SunnyGal garden photo is a Shasta daisy (I think that is what it is) that I got at a local plant sale. And it is finally spreading out a bit - I want that carpet of daisies to happen.


Sunday, July 26, 2015

T-shirt perfected: using Jalie 2805

A t-shirt perfected. Maybe not perfect - although it did come out nicely.  I guess I am thinking that in terms of fit and shape, I have perfected this type of t-shirt for me. Mostly due to a bit of redesign on the neckline.

multi t-shirt front on form

and a small delight in the results of the binding on that v-neckline. Which I played around with a lot as I was cutting the pieces. To get that satisfying juxtaposition of stripe and color.  This is perhaps the embodiment of a perfect fabric to me. Graphic, angular, predominantly blue, aqua, white. with a touch of black to make it wearable with a lot of other separates. It might seem to bright for many but you know my love for vivid prints. PLUS it was on the half-off shelf at Stone Mountain recently so a nice quality rayon jersey knit top for about $ 10. Score!

multi t-shirt neckline closeup

Also satisfying, the way the print layout is kinda sorta centered and yet not. Perhaps balanced is the right word?  Or maybe I am reading too much into it. But really - I think that often the success of a final garment is due entirely to some serious thought, concentration and planning when cutting out. There are many times when it actually takes me longer to cut out than sew an item.  And cutting out is my least favorite part of sewing (probably also for most people). Grain - I am a bit of a fanatic. Completely flat - no wrinkles. Pattern placement if a print. For stripes and plaids, checking and double checking. Yeah, all this can be super tedious but pays off in the end.

multi t-shirt back on form

Getting back to t-shirt perfected.  I highly recommend this pattern which is Jalie 2805. If you sew for yourself and other people - such as small people:) then the value in these Jalie patterns is incomparable. All sizes from small kids through women's size. 4 different necklines, including a turtleneck and the instructions for the V-neckline are so simple and yet result in a perfect binding.

Jalie pattern photo)

Also once you get the fit down you can riff on the pattern by changing all kinds of things, neckline width, color blocking, etc.
Which brings me to the changes made. I originally made this pattern back in 2012 (here is a link to that post). And while I really like the original version I wanted the neckline to be a bit more open.
I have this t-shirt which my sis gave me ages ago, from a little boutique in Kailua (Oahu) this is no longer there (sad tears, I bought so many cool things there, t-shirts, swimsuits, sandals and when it closed I was so bummed).  Anyway...the neckline on this v-neck t-shirt is just right for me, not too low but a little lower than the Jalie, a bit wider and slightly rounded.  (note I am not super crazy about the strangely abbreviated sleeves on this t-shirt - and I have another copy in turquoise where the sleeves are a bit more normal shaped). So I decided to copy the neckline of this shirt and apply it to the body of the Jalie top. Because why not? And the Jalie pattern actually facilitates this because the way they fit all the versions on their pattern pages is to separate the tops from the bottoms rather cleverly, so the top portions are interchangeable with the bottom pieces. If you have made a Jalie than you know what I am talking about.
One tiny note about fit: I found the sleeves on the Jalie pattern to be a bit skimpy and I am not particularly broad in the back or arms so to counter that on my chosen Jalie size which I think was U, I added 1/2" width on the back pattern piece at the underarm tapering that away by about 4 inches down. and then added 1/2" extra on the sleeve back to match which alleviated that tightness at the back/underarm area. Like any pattern it needs fitting but once you get it squared away it is a workhorse.

original neckline tee

How to copy the neckline? Here is a picture I have that shows a quick and easy method. I think I used this photo on a Craftsy blog post. Wax paper is such a great tracing medium for things that are flat like a t-shirt and you cannot beat the see-through-ability of it.


So that's the scoop on V-neckline t-shirts. Also the neckline binding - I have to admit that I don't use any of the pattern pieces. I just decide on the finished width I want, cut the binding on the cross grain of the knit fabric, fold, press and then baste it on. Yes - I said baste. Machine baste. One of these days I will have to do a post in praise of basting.  Which I don't often see mentioned on sewing blogs but I baste a lot. How else can you check fit and adjust? Or maybe its just that no one mentions it. But I think the former - not done and you should try it :)
Back to the t-shirt neckline, I use the Threads Magazine video method. I have linked to this before and if they ever take down this video I will be bummed as it is the best explanation I have seen for this technique. Plus no pattern piece required!

Realizing I had no photo of me wearing this t-shirt I took this one using the timer feature on my iPhone. Which actually works pretty well. Even though this is kind of a dorky photo. And you can see my bookcase with that big fat copy of Wolf Hall with the red dust cover - probably the current number one "not read" book on many bookshelves. I bought that hardcover at the library $1 sale so low investment and I since I read stuff like that when traveling a gigantic hardcover book is never going to make it into my travel bag. What was I thinking? Oh well. Save it for a rainy day. (ha ha, rainy days are for sewing!)  And I am wearing my Vogue 1170 Rachel Comey skirt in green corduroy.  Which has turned out to be a better wardrobe mix-and-matcher than I would have predicted. (also the black dotted version - nice to wear with a solid top)

multi t-shirt on me

Summer sewing in full swing, I am just finishing a dress for Heather using her first Mood fabric (pattern is Vogue 8787, a really nice pattern that is for wovens but I have made the cowl version in knit twice and it is great,  blog post and pics to come with some fitting info).
And some summer and pre-vacation sewing for me. The usual collection of slightly ridiculous tropical prints...hey whatever makes you happy, sewing-wise, right?

Happy summer weekend, Beth

Today's SunnyGal garden photo, these are miniature roses and this plant receives no attention but like most of my roses keeps on blooming.

June flowers
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