Tuesday, March 26, 2013

SWAPus interuptus or Prom 2013

I have taken a very long break from SWAP...against my wishes, of course.  First came the Snow White costume. Then two back-to-back business trips -- one that extended over a weekend, my prime sewing time.  Returning from the second trip I was greeted by a very sick husband and a messy house, then came Spring Break.

Contributing to my lack of time for sewing is my general malaise resulting from the ruling that I can't use my jacket for SWAP.  Technicality: it was started before the rules were made public and finished after the start date.  It would be allowed if I had finished before the start date, or if I would have purchased it.  I briefly thought about purchasing a cardigan or jacket that would work with both capsules, but doesn't it seem silly to buy clothing for a sewing contest?  So I have come to the conclusion that I likely won't complete or compete in this year's SWAP "contest", but I will finish my plan.  Eventually.  I think I have planned some really great pieces that will work well for me, and I am happy that SWAP gave me the momentum to finish the jacket.

Moving on to Prom.  My daughter changed her mind about her choice of dress, which is fine because I like the new one better. In fact, I like it a lot. I was really excited when I saw that it was "Fast & Easy."  Of course that means that I need to give myself some obstacles and complicate it a bit.  I lean more toward "long drawn out and complex" projects.
Butterick 4343 (view D)
It is a very classic sheath dress that reminds me of Breakfast at Tiffany's, at least in the front:

The suggested fabrics included crepe to get that great drape. We had trouble finding a color that we both liked. As classic (and useful) as black would be, it just doesn't scream "prom."  Stephanie suggested hot pink, so I reminded her of the hot pink crepe back satin that we nixed for homecoming.  Instead, I suggested lace with a nude underlay.  "A nude underleg?!" my eavesdropping son replied (clearly horrified).  "What is a nude underleg!?"  Underlining, that is, which reminds me of Roman Holiday.

Audrey Hepburn's lace dress from Roman Holiday (designed by E. Head)

So Stephanie ran with that idea -- she settled on this sparkly blue lace fabric.  Who wouldn't love this?

Elie Saab does lace right.
Of course, this fabric is most likely a beautifully hand-beaded piece of art that we wouldn't be able to find or recreate on our timeline or budget.  Stephanie does have great taste. So we found this instead, at my old standby: Gorgeous Fabrics.  Because I was so distracted with work and didn't order it until yesterday, I got it on sale!

Blue/silver metallic Chantilly lace
As for the underlining, we are going to attempt to dye some silk crepe.  Sounds a little bit scary, doesn't it?  I did, in fact, have a nightmare about it last night.  Just another complication, though.  I'm sure it will be interesting.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Chanel Jacket Post Mortem

Isn't she lovely?

Have I mentioned that my "Chanel" jacket is finished?  Even though I have worn it already, I put it back on the dress form, so that everyone I can admire it while sewing my pants.  Because so much thought/torment/learning went into this piece, I feel I must document the information somewhere.  This is the least likely place for me to lose said documentation.

What I would do differently next time:
(1) Buttonholes down the front.  For reasons I don't recall, I did not design the jacket to button down the front.  Maybe I wanted hooks.  Maybe I wanted it to just hang open.  At some point -- after the pieces were cut -- I did decide I needed buttons. Since I didn't have enough room for overlap, I made loops.  Although the loops came out very nice, and are very stable (sandwiched between two strips of muslin that run the length of the front), I am a little disappointed that I didn't have a more traditional placket.
button loops

(2) Boucle: I love the colors in this fabric, even though it's not my usual palette.  This fabric is tres boucle, though.  The chenille pieces stretch, break and pop out in several places, making it look as though I may have picked up the jacket in a second-hand shop [not that there's anything wrong with that].  I would choose a tighter weave next time around.  I also sneezed a lot while sewing this.  I hope I'm not allergic to it.

(3) Lining: The color of original fabric I ordered to use as a lining did just not look right to me, so I picked up some charmeuse locally.  Unfortunately, it's not silk.  For polyester, it's fairly high quality, but it's not silk.  Next time I will use silk.

(4) Pattern:  When I started this jacket, the latest Claire Shaeffer pattern had not been released and her previous pattern was OOP, and in high demand.  I could not justify paying $150 for a sewing pattern on ebay, so I decided to create my own.  I had an old Simplicity used for a quilted jacket 10 years ago that had princess shoulder seams, but a one-piece sleeve and  I had the Vogue pattern that had a two-piece sleeve, but was loose fitting and too boxy for me.  So I combined the two of them and drafted a three-piece sleeve and a bodice with shoulder princess seams and a side piece cut on the bias.  Since I had no experience doing this, it took me SEVERAL toiles before I had something that looked decent.  I know I must have learned an awful lot in the long drawn-out process.  However, I'm not sure I remember what I learned, since I did not document anything.  It's probably still rattling around inside my head helping me make fitting adjustments.  I did purchase the V8808 a couple of weeks ago when Vogue had a sale.  Next time I will probably use it.

(5) Trim:  I went through at least as many iterations of trim possibilities as I did muslins.  Self trim, ribbon, gimp, braid and several types of crocheted trims with several different colors of yarn, as well as combinations of most of the above together.  I finally settled on eyelash yarn (one strand of purple, one of brown), crocheted into a simple chain with a large hook.  I feel that it balances the large weave of the boucle.  I don't think it would have looked the same on a tighter weave. So I do feel it worked in this case, but will probably torment myself again next time.

(6) Sleeve vents:  As mentioned, the sleeves were self-drafted, and I've never drafted a sleeve or sewn a jacket with vents, so it was a crash course in vents.  They came out fine, but I spent an awful lot of time on them.  I could have easily skipped the buttonholes and just sewed the ends together -- which I considered many times -- but felt like I needed to have real buttonholes somewhere on the jacket.  They were a lot of fun to make and am looking forward to my next opportunity to do a hand-worked buttonhole.  Next time I would put a larger piece of organza into the end of the sleeve to help stabilize the buttonholes.  I don't remember why they were only 2" wide.  Next time I will cut the organza 4" wide.

(7) Pockets: I made 2 patch pockets, but considered doing three or four.  I just couldn't find a combination that I was happy with to extend the number of pockets.  The pocket is lined with lining fabric and interlined with organza to give it some stiffness. I think they came out nicely - I would revisit the 3 or 4 pocket options, though.
Inside of patch pocket

(8) Buttons: One area where I agonized excessively...finding the PERFECT button.  This part of my planning went on for weeks.  Really.  I finally settled on some simple gold buttons from Joann.  They are fine -- classic and simple.  As with the trim, future buttons will just depend on the fabric I use "next time."

All that being said, I don't really know if I will ever have the time to do a jacket like this again!  I did learn a lot of new techniques that I will no doubt use in other projects, though.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Radio Silence Lifted!

My sewing machine has been very busy.  So busy, that I haven't had time to post anything between finishing Project Snow White and trying to complete SWAP 2013.

One entire weekend was spent sewing dawn to dusk (or later) on the Snow White costume. The dress was finished by Sunday night, and the collar and cape were easily finished during the weekday evenings. It came out quite nicely, though my back suffered immensely from the constant sewing.  The good news is that my daughter took a very active role in the process.  She spent Friday night pressing the pattern and the freshly laundered fabric.  There was a LOT of fabric, so she saved me quite a bit of time by being my press girl.  It was also fun having her keep me company.  She did so well with the iron, that I suggested she sew all the skirt seams -- French seams, no less!  While she was at the machine, I finished hand stitching the trim to my tweed jacket.

Unfortunately, I did not get to see her wear the completed outfit, as I had to spend the most recent weekend on a business trip.  My mom took lots of pictures, and Stephanie loved being the center of attention among the young children.  I hope the ensemble gets more than one wearing! 
The fairest of them all

Although I am having my doubts about finishing SWAP by the deadline, at least I FINISHED MY JACKET!  AND I've already worn it!  It's great.

I have made a few tweaks to my SWAP plan, and will continue sewing everything there even if I don't get it all completed by the deadline.  Before leaving town this past weekend, I started the dress pants, and they seem to be coming together very quickly.

The toughest part for me has been finding the right colors in the appropriate fabrics, especially on the "casual" side of the plan.  As a result, I will most likely dye my own jersey for the scoop neck tee.  The "jeans" fabrics have also proven elusive for me.  I was hoping to do them in non-indigo denims or twill.  Some of my orders arrived yesterday, and the pink stretch twill was more of a bubblegum, while I was hoping for more of a faded burgundy.  The wine colored twill that I ordered was misplaced somewhere at the warehouse, and I received a blue and white striped home decorator's canvas instead.  It would probably make some groovy 70's style pants, but not the look I'm going for.

Nonetheless, I am continuing with the project.  Even if I don't make the deadline, just having some nice clothes for myself will be fantastic!