Monday, June 8, 2015

A Long Dry Patch Interrupted by Vogue 8793

I rarely make New Years resolutions, other than the "get back in shape" pledge necessary after an indulgent holiday season.  This year, I privately resolved to focus my sewing energy on improving my skills.  I resolved to only spend my valuable time in 2015 creating "couture" pieces with intricate hand sewing and custom fitting.  After finishing my daughter's orchestra dress, I thought quite highly of my sewing skills.  My hubris was punished quickly, with the sewing gods dropping the most annoying projects in my lap: zipper repairs, alterations, and other mindless mending.
My first sewing project of the year was replacing the zipper
in my step-father's "Squall" jacket from the 1980s.  
Early in the spring, I finally started a muslin of a sport coat that my husband had hinted about for some time.  After a couple of fittings, it still hangs on my dress form.  I lost interest after he came home from Hong Kong with a mini-wardrobe custom made for him in one day.
Yes, it has hung on that dress form for 3 months!
It's beginning to look very sad.

My own wardrobe requirements have become very casual, consisting of knit tops and yoga pants or jeans (I work from home).  Nothing to get me very excited about sewing for myself, especially since RTW fits me pretty well.  Why sew my own t-shirt?

Months ago I purchased the Tilton sisters' Craftsy class on "The Ultimate T-Shirt".  It was entertaining to watch the Tiltons sew a simple tee, but it took me quite a while to finally give it a go myself.

A nice piece of cotton interlock hanging in my sewing closet nudged me.  The color seemed a little "off" to me, and I spent several weeks thinking about surface design options that would make the color more pleasing.  Painting?  Overdying?  Stenciling?  Would the surface techniques work on a knit? Or will it look like a teenager's art project? After hours experimenting on the dusty purple/lilac/plum, I finally decided it was fine as-is and just sewed the shirt.

The tell tale signs of an amateur dyer.  At least the
defects were only visible at the selvages.
While cutting, I noticed  a strange color change at the selvage and realized that I must have dyed this fabric myself a few years ago.  I don't remember doing it, but I do remember buying white interlock and some fiber reactive dye as part of an aborted SWAP.  Hmm.   Shh!

I like the end product, though I should have fitted it better.  It didn't appear to need a dart before I put the sleeves in, but after the sleeves were in, it seems to need a bust dart!  I didn't put the funky neckband in my shirt per the pattern, rather I followed the flat neckband in the Craftsy class.  It's a great scoop neckline, and I can see making this shirt again (with a little more room in the bust and a dart).

The pattern seems to run big (I feel that way about most of the Big 4 patterns).  I cut a size small, even though I measured larger (I don't recall how much larger).  The small is perfect for my shoulders and waist, but more room in the bust wouldn't hurt.
An "action shot" of me walking.  I thought my son
was finished shooting, but this was actually the only
decent shot.

It came together quickly, and I can see myself making a few more of these.  I may or may not do the funky neckline, or mix colors and patterns as the Tiltons do.  I love their style, I am just not sure that it's my style.  I'd like for it to be my style, but I am shy about pattern mixing.

As for the Craftsy class, it was entertaining, but I honestly didn't learn anything new.  It is well-suited for a beginner.  I do believe that I am addicted to Craftsy.  I pledged not to buy anymore classes, and made it a few months before breaking down and buying one of Suzy Furrer's pattern making classes.

Apart from alterations and mending, this has been my only sewing project since the fleece jacket.  Life and death have gotten in the way this spring.  Sadly, my dad died in April, yet there has been little time for grieving, with all the work required to wrap up his estate and affairs.  We spent an exhausting week clearing out his house, which had previously been my grandparents' home.  It was a week in the Twilight Zone for me, finding things that belonged to my great-grandparents, as well: pictures, report cards from 1908, utility bills from 1945 and one treasure -- Spadea patterns still in the mailing envelope from 1961.
My daughter knew I would be excited to open this envelope, untouched
 and hiding in the dining room buffet since 1961.

Spadea "Dinah Shore" patterns, the sixth is a large lace collar.
Apparently Dinah Shore patterns were very popular.

We filled a large dumpster after donating all the furniture and working appliances to a domestic violence shelter and begging relatives to take some of the "keepsakes" home.  Like me, most of my cousins are in a minimalist frame of mind.  We did encounter several dumpster divers who were happy to cull through the cast-offs in search of treasure.
The three amigos, REALLY happy to be finished.  It's hard to see just how big that dumpster was.

The experience of hauling off refrigerators that haven't worked in 15 years and monogrammed bowling balls belonging to someone who died in 1969 has spurred me to think about downsizing my own junk.  I don't want my heirs to dispose of closets, cabinets and cartons full of fabric.  I own very few patterns that anyone would be excited to find in 2060.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Vogue 8932: Fleeced

Way back in early January I decided I needed a fleece jacket - Patagonia-style - with nice fleece (real PolarTec).  So I found myself perusing, and went a little crazy ordering fleece.  I don't usually get excited about sewing fleece, but it was January, after all.  The quality of the fleece from Mill Yardage is superb - so nice that I actually do get excited about fleece.  
One of the many fleeces I now own.
"This would be a great project for Pattern Review's Activewear contest!" So I bought McCall's 5252 "6 Great Looks, 1 Easy Pattern."  Honestly, I'm not sure there's one great look in the bunch.

McCalls 5252
I had hopes I could turn one of the jackets into something that would work for me.
Then I ordered several matching zippers in fuschia. And waited, and waited, and waited.  Finally, by the end of January, the zippers arrived.  Too late for Pattern Review.  Dang, I wish I could find zippers locally!
Fucshia zippers

In the meantime, I realized I don't want (or need) another baggy fleece jacket that I would only wear around the house.  Would Vogue 8932 work with fleece?  The pattern recommends stretch leather, ponte or boiled wool. Okay, how about a nice sweater striae fleece?  

Vogue 8932
"How are you going to put a zipper into that?" My husband asks.  Vogue 8932
Well, it worked and it didn't.  First of all, let me say that I love this pattern and I will be making it again.  Just not with fleece.  Or maybe a mix of fleece and something else.  Yes, I am a sucker for Vogue patterns.  

I made version A -- regular seams, with button closure.
The interesting design lines of this jacket were begging to be shown off, so I played them up with extra stitching, a la Vogue 1378.  I initially thought about making versions B, which is stitched with the seams facing the public side, but the fleece was just too thick.  

Vogue 8932, back detail
Back detail, Vogue 8932
To highlight the interesting seaming, I top-stitched 1/4" on each side of most seam lines.  It is fun looking AND it's a good way to force the seam allowance flat.  The side seams and shoulder seams were overlocked on my Bernina 930.
Vogue 8932, front detail
Front Detail, Vogue 8932

Fearing a stitched buttonhole in fleece would quickly stretch out of shape, I made bound buttonholes with evergreen Ultra Suede.  The "graphite" fleece has a bit of green in it, and they look great together. 

Bound buttonhole close-up
Triangular Bound Buttonhole.  The buttons are grey-green and the buttonhole is green.
The rounded front called for a fun shape, so I went with triangle buttonholes. They were surprisingly quick and easy with a homemade template. I will be using that method again. 

Vogue 8932, back
Vogue 8932, back view.  The back is shorter than the front.
So far, I love it.  Then I got to the facings.  The fleece was just too thick to use self fabric facings.  I should have used something thinner (let's say, oh I don't know, maybe the Ultra Suede that I have yards and yards of), but I just liked the idea of fleece on the inside.  I considered no facings, but the back needed the extra weight of a facing, and the lovely neckline would probably sag without a facing. Unfortunately, the manner in which the right front overlaps the left front results in four layers of fleece across my bust, giving the impression of a uniboob.

For the sleeves, I omitted the facings and used a bias strip of Ultra Suede to bind the edge.  

Vogue 8932, side
The shoulders concerned me some, since the sleeve cap is eased and the fleece is bulky and generally un-easable.  This fleece had plenty of stretch, so it worked.  Although the cap looks a little flat in the photo, I don't notice it at all when I wear it.  I probably should have left a little more seam allowance to help give it structure.

I made very few alterations to the pattern: cut a 14 through the shoulders and bust, expanding out 1/2" at the waist and about 3/4" at the hip. Since the back hem sits above the widest part of my hips, it was easy to fit.  I wanted to add pockets, but I just couldn't decide on a good place to put them. 

All in all, I really like this jacket.  It's a great style, and it's very comfortable. It's versatile, looking great with jeans or dressed up.  Although I didn't take any photos, I have worn it many times, once to the symphony.  Can you imagine?  Fleece at the symphony?  Only in Arkansas, I guess.