Friday, August 26, 2016

Bet This Wasn't The Dress You Were Expecting


Bet this isn't the dress you expected to see, is it?
After sewing 2 muslins of Hot Patterns 1201 Montpelier dress I decided that it was not going to work for me.  I thought that I could make a very loose fitting dress into the semi fitted vision I had in my head and that I had drawn on my croquis.  I was running out of time and I still needed a dress for the Orthodox wedding we attended this past Tuesday, which is why I just didn't wear the black and white dress I wore to my cousin's wedding.  It was a Boro Park wedding and very traditional.  Ok, if you are knowledgeable about Jewish custom, you're saying,  scoop neck?  bare upper arm?  Well, by this point I really needed a dress and it wasn't all that immodest. No comments or looks were made, but the other dress, really not suitable.  This is from oop V2882 by Tom and Linda Platt that I'd made a few years ago. It was published in 2005.  Wow, I must have made this a lot of years ago!  I made this top  but not this skirt.  This pattern, unusual in designer patterns these days, has two different tops, two different skirts and a pair of pants.  I had made the knee length skirt before and it doesn't fit me. While the top did fit, I decided to make both pieces in the same fabric.  I made the long skirt which I love and I envision wearing it with boots and more casual fall and winter tops.  The fabric is fairly heavy so I got lucky it got cool that day and that the catering hall was freezing! 


Fabric: 6 yards of Rag and Bone acetate polyester lycra stretch crepe from Mood.  I already had 3 yards of this and since Mood still had  stock, I ordered 3 more yards.  I wanted a pair of pants out of it too, which is what I had originally bought it for.  I managed to cut out the top, skirt and pants.  The fabric true to crepe, drapes beautifully.  The only issue I have with it is the description on the Mood website.  I often find that their overly flowery, wordy descriptions don't really give me the  information I need to understand if the fabric meets my needs, and this was true here as well.  It was described as 4 way stretch, or stretch in length and width. If I hadn't checked to make sure that it had the required stretch for this pattern I would never have realized that there was minimal stretch in the cross grain, and the required stretch was in the length. I ended up cutting it in a single lay on the cross grain.  

Changes made:   The top pattern was already cut out in size 14.  I use a 16 these days, which was in the pattern, but I stupidly didn't re draft it back to a size 16!  I had tried on the previously made top, which was made up in matte jersey.  Thinner, and maybe a bit more stretch. Anyway, I ended up lowering the underarm and using up about 3/8" of my extra seam allowances in the body and sleeve. Fortunately, I always use a 1" seam allowance to side seams.  The top calls for side seam slits at the hem, but I didn't find that they were flattering so I left them out.  The top also calls for a cb invisible zipper but I had enough room to leave it out.  I made a few minor fitting fixes, especially narrowing it at the front chest.  

Because I am larger than a size 16 on the bottom I added about 6" to the hip and waist. This pattern has 9 gores with 2 in the front.  I love skirts that have different size and shapes to the gores and this one works beautifully for me.  I don't find A line skirts flattering, but this fit and flare skirt works for me. The other big issue I had was getting the hem to be even without ruining the flare.  I know, I should have made a muslin but I didn't.  I could have actually marked the waist when I tissue fit this, but again, I didn't.  I have a very uneven waist, with the front waist needing to come down a good 4 inches.  My left hip is lower and shaped differently than my right side; the back was fine just where it was.  I stood on the stair landing(great stand in for a fitting platform) with a 1" wide elastic that I use for fitting with a velcro fastening,  while my dh sat a step lower and he measured from the floor up as I pulled the waist up above the elastic.  When the hem was level he marked the bottom of my elastic.  It worked really well.  I did however, need to really take the waist in and re shape the upper hip.  Lots of fit as you sew went on.  
When I enlarge bottoms of multi size patterns I usually add only at the seams that change size.  I decided that it was too much to add at each side seam so I added about a 1/4" at all of the other seams except the cb.  

There is an invisible zipper at the cb. The pattern called for a narrow waistband that met at center back with a hook and eye fastening at the waistband. I hate having a hook and eye that doesn't have any backing against the skin; it's uncomfortable.  Instead I made a version of my pants waistband with a petersham facing and overlap with a heavier pants hook and eye. It's flatter and much more comfortable.





 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Finally Figured Out How to Make an FBA In a Dior Dart!

I knew I had seen how to alter a Dior dart somewhere, but I combed my fitting books, and I have a lot of them!   Could not find it anywhere.  Finally this post from from Cenetta of The Mahogany Stylist on how to make an fba with the new or newish, Y dart made me remember that I hadn't looked in Palmer/Pletsch's Full Busted DVD, which is where I found it.  I've also been playing around with moving darts and dividing my very large dart into multiple darts. It's fun and kind of empowering not to be tied to that very large dart my DD bust needs.



In case you don't know what a Dior dart is, it's a short dart from a side panel. Burda often uses them and Hot Patterns used it for their new Montpelier dress which I am making.


As you can see, this dress has a side panel which extends as the under sleeve for this dolman sleeve, if that's what you call this cut on sleeve?  But, regardless It has a side panel with a dart in the front panel. The side panel is far from the bust apex.  A princess seam would run over the apex or close to the apex of the bust.  Here is an example of how Dior used it in the 2015 Spring collection. 


I love this example with the top stitching.  I turned my single Dior dart into two to make them smaller.  Jennifer Lawrence had a dress on  that had three small darts from a side panel that was very attractive too. It really molded the bust beautifully.

My alteration of the Montpelier dress looks like this, showing how  I've divided the dart into two, but I am going to make two front versions one with one dart and one with two as it is here to see which I like better.  I also shortened the dress since this is a very awkward length on me, to just below the knee.

Here's  the Y dart I made. Because I have a low bust I made a smaller Y section, about 1/2" with the remainder, about 1" in the side dart, because it widens the upper chest  where I am not wide.  The sleeve gets cut off in this type of sleeve so that you can make the second part of the fba like you would in a regular armscye. Then it gets re attached and any opening filled in with paper.  This is smaller than the usual fba I make.  But, when I tissue fit it this is the width I needed.  It remains to be seen if this sews up well in a muslin. 


Sunday, July 3, 2016

Why Do I Only Seem to Finish Winter Coats at the End of the Season?

Seriously, I never seem to finish a coat at the beginning of the season. I dither about the  pattern, I make at least two muslins after numerous fitting alterations.  I play with the details.  It's a  time consuming process.  This coat is my all time favorite of  coats that I've made. The fabric is a gorgeous mohair, wool and silk blend that I've in the collection more than a few years.  It was bought at one of Michael's online 50%off  sale .  If I remember correctly it's Zegna. It's fabulous. The mohair and silk make it light and airy while the wool gives it stability.  The lining is a silk charmeuse from one of  Fabric Mart's famous sales.  My inspiration was a Saint Laurent coat selling for over $2500. I had a Burda pattern that I'd made a muslin from. for a round necked coat. . I liked it because it had a shoulder princess line in front and a plain back.  I wanted a slightly oversize coat that would fit comfortably over a heavy sweater or two, and it does.  I've taken all of Suzy Furrer's classes, which are fabulous by the way, and used her neckline and collar class to change the plain front to a notched collar.  I change necklines, especially in knits, all the time but this was my first notched collar  and I am very pleased with it.  

I love  simple coats with something different that makes them stand out and here it's the oversize pockets.  I made several paper samples and I still ended up making them twice.  The coat also has bound buttonholes, my go to for coats.  I hadn't made them in awhile, so that meant lots of samples with some different methods. Judy Burlap's bound buttonhole instructions, available on her website, are some of the easiest, best I've used.  I made three buttonholes that  match and all of the lips are even. 

When I plan a coat I debate endlessly with myself about how much tailoring structure I really want in the coat.  For this one I wanted a light soft look and feel because the fabric is airy and light.  Allison Smith's class on Craftsy gave me the opportunity to try hybrid tailoring.  It's light but gave me just enough body for this coat.  I think that I am addicted to Craftsy classes!

 All in all I am very pleased with the coat, especially the fit.  I finally got the armscye and sleeve fit perfected.  I have a low right shoulder that has a bit different rotation than the left one due to an old injury, so while the left one will hang perfectly, the right one is a different story.  I learned that I need to rotate it more than the left one.  I also learned that my narrow shoulders need a higher sleeve cap. to hang perfectly. This I got from another Craftsy class, Lynda Maynard's fitting class.   I've had the shoulder problem for 34 years but age has changed it as it has the rest of my body. Learning to fit my aging body has sometimes been a challenge.






 Do you ever find that you have more ease in the front or back of a sleeve cap?  This
was one of  my problems.  I could feel the back of the cap against my shoulder.  The sleeve cap ease needed to be balanced.  I walked the front and back of my sleeve against the front and back of the coat armscye.  When I got to the shoulder point I marked it on my sleeve cap.  The ease needs to be the same on either side of the shoulder point on the sleeve cap.  I adjusted it by removing from the front and added to the back of the cap.  It really works.   I found this information in Sarah Veblen's Photographic Guide to Fitting.  I keep finding more and more useful information in that book. Because of my shoulder issue I still had to adjust the right sleeve cap a bit more than the left. It worked and as you can see in the photos there is no excess at the back or front of my cap. It's fits into the armscye perfectly.  The back of the coat looks a little big, but this is exactly how the original looked and it makes it easy to wear over heavy sweaters.  Here I'm just wearing it over a t shirt. 

The other thing I do to accommodate my uneven shoulders is to add to my right shoulder pad. I add padding and keep trying it on until both shoulders look even.  Then I use some tailor tacks to keep the layers together.  




I usually start with existing shoulder pads, especially if I want to use extended pads which are not easy to make yourself.  Apple Annie fabrics has some very nice shoulder pads that are a combination of set in and raglan. Years ago Threads had a series of articles on Armani tailoring and this is the  type of shoulder pad he uses.  Because my low point is really that my arm is lower, this really makes it easier to even up my shoulders. I add the padding to the end of the pad but not into the extension.  As you can see, it works well. It also fills out the sleeve cap. I didn't use a sleeve head.
The photos we took that showed the lining weren't great, so when I get a chance I'll take some new ones and post them.  



Thursday, June 16, 2016

Color

Color, as you can see I haven't quite succeeded in adding a lot of color to my wardrobe. I do wear red lipstick, which I've done for years.  The current color is Beso by Stila. I love this stuff.   Red lipstick is usually high maintenance but this one doesn't come off all over the place. Well, some of it does come off when you eat.  Oily foods are the worst.  But it doesn't come off in the usual course of the day and it stays on all day.  I  have added  other accents of red to my wardrobe; a red everyday handbag, red glasses, red sandals.  These are big steps for me. I've got a red pashmina too, as well as a black and red silk scarf I bought in India years ago.  I've been using them more.  

Seamwork, the monthly magazine from Colette patterns posted an article on how to find your colors.  I downloaded the recommended Sherwin and Williams app.  I took selfies of myself and ran the program.  Problem is, I didn't like most of the colors.  I don't wear pastels.  Can you really imagine me in pastels?  I can't.  There were lots of grays and some black as well as a number of different reds, yellows and golds.  These are colors I can relate to. I already have plenty of grays and blacks  in my wardrobe.  Big step for me, I ordered a red and white stylized floral for another Gypsy top.  I've got a nice gold rayon knit in the collection (thanks Caroline; a much better word than stash!) that will work with my gray, black and white neutrals. I also ordered a coral, gray and ivory knit from emmaonesock to go with gray or white pants. I have three pairs of gray pants and I'm making a pair of white linen pants.  I've got some red linen that would look pretty as a summer woven tee with white and gray and my multitude of black pants.  Baby steps for the color.  Oddly I did make some pieces a few years ago with more color but they are gone from my wardrobe due to stains or relegated to exercise clothing due to wear. 


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Big Style


As you can see above in Bill Cunninham's Sunday NY Times offering,  off the shoulder tops are very much in vogue right now. and there are lots of ways to wear it. I finished a blouse version of Hot Patterns Urban Gypsy Friday and wore it out to dinner with friends.  This top is in a lovely black and white stretch cotton from emmaonesock and probably as old as the fabric I used for  my dress!     Every season I make a list of sewing projects and a blouse is usually on it and until now hasn't made it to the sewing machine.  





This version uses the alternate sleeve that comes with the pattern.   It's quicker to do well, no baby hem. It's still not the original version with it's shirt tail hem.  One more would be nice, using the tie sleeves, and the original hemline.   After all, I bought a strapless bra for my dress and I wouldn't mind getting a little use out of it!   

I really enjoyed working in a nice woven cotton instead of my usual knit tops.  Knits can be finicky, and this was not in the least.  the only issue I've have with this top is that I made the elastic too short to stay further down on my arms. I think I may open it up and put longer elastic in. it's a fine line between too long and not long enough!  I would ere on the longer side if you make it.  I didn't really notice it until I sat in the car.  Because of the seating angle I think, the shoulders rose. 
One of the reasons I bought this pattern was how current it is.  But, I am not a big fan of over sized shirts or anything else for that matter.  This shirt has too much ease as drafted in my opinion.  I carefully measured the hips and even at a size smaller there was 8".  I of course then added an fba and made it worse.  It's also totally straight at the side seams. When I altered it to make the dress, in addition to narrowing it I shaped it at the side seams, in at the waist and pegged the hem a good inch on each side. I do have to shimmy into the dress a bit to get it over my hips, but it's fine once it's on.  I have to keep saying that if you are making a muslin  add Horizontal balance lines.  I could see that the one for my bust was pulling down at the sides, so I added another small dart to level it out.  I rotated it into my existing two darts and then equalized the two darts.  I almost didn't see it, but after spending a long time looking into the mirror I realized what the problem was.  Finally learning to see after all these years!

I have a number of shirting fabrics in my stash for that planned shirt that never materialized.  I saw a gorgeous white cotton and  linen shirt from The Row in Elle magazine that I would love to replicate. (of course I have several whites to choose from) It has a large notched lapel and collar.  The Row's shirt wraps, but I'd probably add some buttons and a bit more shaping.  Now to find a pattern, or maybe I'll finally  draft it myself.  I've taken all of Suzy Furrer's drafting classes and several in person from Kenneth King.  I have Kenneth King's cd books, but I found Furrer's classes easier to understand.  I drafted a notched collar and lapel for a coat I made in late winter.  I tried to draft it using KK's book and couldn't get what I was looking for, but I did using Furrer's class and it came out exactly what I wanted.  I'll write a future post on the coat.  I love it and it's probably the best coat I've ever made. 

Monday, May 23, 2016

I'm Back

I never intended to take such a long break from blogging but time creeps up on you.  I thought about not continuing but in the end I've missed you all.

We had a wedding to attend on Sunday and I needed a dress.  I have such a difficult time finding dress patterns for my aging body that are stylish but not too exposed. That make me feel chic and not dowdy.  My arms have seen  better days but my shoulders are still fine. When I saw Hot Patterns Metropolitan Urban Gypsy Blouse I bought it immediately not thinking about making it into a dress for this wedding but thinking that it was a chic top I would wear all  summer.  Looking for an idea for a dress I looked at my favorite fashion sites and kept coming back to dress versions of this top.  I drew a couple of different dresses on my croquis and sent them to my daughter. She immediately picked the off the shoulder one. I am so glad I took her advice.  Two muslins were necessary to work out changing this to a dress and some fitting details, but it was really easy to get this to fit me.  It's a good pattern. There was too much ease even though I made it a size smaller.  I rotated the fba I made into the neckline so that I have 4 darts now in front instead of two.  Not having gathers was a big plus for me in this pattern.  Darts much more flattering to my large bust than gathers above it.  In all I think I took out about 4 "in the waist and hips. Instead of being straight the side seams now curve in at the waist and I pegged the bottom.  There was still plenty of room for the back gathers to fall gracefully.

Everything for this dress was from my stash. The print is a silk crepe de chine that was wonderful to work with.  It stayed put on my cutting table, the print was on grain and it's just great quality and a nice weight. I bought it on clearance sale from a pattern designer who was phasing out fabric and I can't think of who it was. I had 4 yards and used most of it including two samples to practice the narrow hem that I haven't done in years.  Of course I could have just used scraps but I wanted to see how hemming the opposing curves would work.  The original does not call for lining but it does have instructions for putting in a shelf bra, which I used to a point. My lining isn't stretch, it's one of the nicest Bemberg rayons I've ever worked with. It's heavier than what I see now. It was also on sale from a website that closed.  Can't remember their name either; both pieces have been in my stash for a good long time!  I attached it at the neckband and I finished the armscye openings tacking them at the underarm seam and French tacks at the lower seams.

 I used French seams for the top of the sleeve which I didn't line. Even though I lined it I  finished the side seams with my serger because of raveling.
We had to drive almost two hours to get to this wedding and I was sure I would be a mass of wrinkles by the time we got there, but there weren't any and after a whole day and more than two hours to get home there still weren't very many wrinkles.  If you ever think that you don't want to bother lining something, remember my wrinkle-less dress and think again.  I do think that the weight of the lining helped. 








I love this dress!  Was it Donna Karan who said that the last thing to go are a woman's shoulders?  

Trudy of Hot Patterns designed a fantastic pattern that's exactly  what's being sold all over the place in RTW.  I am in the process of making it in blouse form, also in black and white, but cotton.  It's a top, or in my case a dress that I think can be worn by almost any  woman. For once I'm thrilled with what I wore to a wedding. I'm also happy with my sewing. I make so many really simple knit tops and simple pants that I felt like I was losing my sewing skills. This, while not a particularly difficult dress,  was more challenging than my usual fare.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Do You Wear What You Buy?

I have a friend who will buy 3 of almost anything that's on sale.  Doesn't matter if it fits her well,  or if the quality could be better, but it was on sale!  She once tried on a  dress that she'd just bought on sale, and of course non returnable, that really didn't fit her well. She wanted to know if I could fix it.  Aside from the fact that I don't sew for people, there was no way I could fix this too tight dress. There was virtually no seam allowance to use, so no way to let it out.  I can only assume that it languished in her closet unworn; I never saw it 
again. 
 I read this great blog post today http://myyearwithoutclothesshopping.com/shopping-clothes-emotions/common-items-women-buy-but-just-dont-wear/  It  made me laugh.  While I no longer buy much in the way of clothing, I buy patterns I'll never make up, they were on sale, or fabric that really isn't something I'd buy if it weren't on sale!  I am much better about that  last one these days but while what I buy on sale may suit me, do I really need more basic black or gray in my stash?  Carolyn from Diary of a Sewing Fanatic wrote a great post today on the spring fashion trends that she was attracted to.  Floral being one of them.  While I may love it on other people, and I love the floral dress she just made, I can't really see it on me.  White on white I'd wear but it would have to be in a fabric that can be bleached since I am a stain magnate.  I have to toss my favorite white tee since I can't get a stain out.   The one that attracted me the most was the bright mixed colors.  It looks fun and  I think that I'd wear this trend but only in work out clothing and not in 3 colors. Two is about all I can imagine myself wearing.  Bright blue and orange or red, or red and pink as long as the pink is bright enough.  
This all goes along with my desire for a small, manageable wardrobe with things I wear again and again, but isn't boring. 
My grandmother used to say that clothing you buy just for an event never gets worn again.  You bought it because you had to, not because it really suits you. She had great taste and a wonderful wardrobe.  I wish that I had that fabulous Bonnie Cashin coat I remember from my childhood.
Do you buy things on sale just because they are on sale?  Do they languish in your closet with the tags still on them?   What's in your closet that you never wear or have never worn?
How much in your fabric stash will never get sewn?