Tuesday, March 17, 2015

a new Green Shirt for St. Patrick's day

To my surprise I have not seen one green item in my reading of sewing blogs today. I suppose St. Patrick's day is considered another goofy holiday and excuse to drink beer but with my heritage it is the real deal. Having visited the farm in Ireland where my grandfather was born (which is still in the family) I can attest to the fact that you have not seen green until you have been to Ireland. Dazzling in hue and variation.
So that means I will wear something green and here is this year's item. I got this knit fabric at a Bay Area sewing meet-up fabric swap earlier this year and figured it would be good for trying out a t-shirt or something. But last week I had the idea to make a regular collared shirt - but in knit instead of woven.

Here it is, and while it has a few quirks I am quite happy with the result - super comfortable and I love the color.

green shirt front

OK first off let's just note that there are no buttons down the front. Yes. I took the easy way out. I had made it with a placket front, and then in the trying on and fitting process, when I was pinning the front together I had a minor revelation - knit shirt - no fastenings needed! I can pull it over my head. So I just sewed it together in the front, overlapping as if it were buttoned. So lazy and yet it worked out fine. I may just sew up another of these knit-y shirts. Also I forgot to put interfacing in the placket and buttonholes + knit fabric with no stabilization = very unsightly buttonholes. Maybe I should sew on some buttons but I think why bother? In fact the next one may have a placket at the neck like a tunic top.
What pattern?  My trusty Simplicity 2339 Amazing fit shirt, which I have made 3 times before, flannel version, cotton voile version, silk charmeuse version. How's that for versatility? And this has to be one of the most hideous pattern envelope versions. Fine, let's just stipulate that most pattern envelope photos are terrible. The ones that are good looking are actually the minority. My suggestion - LOOK past the styling - study the technical drawings. I was just talking about this over the past weekend. That probably people who are newer to sewing do use the photo of the actual garment to base their choices on, whether for good or bad. I try to ignore (or scoff at) the photos, whether indie or Big 4/Burda and just use the drawings to decide on a pattern.

Blue silk blouse pattern S2339

Back view. I did do quite extensive fitting alterations once I had the side seams basted together, realizing it was way too big for a knit shirt (but works fine for a non-stretch flannel). So I took it in about 2 inches on each side seam, narrowed the sleeve by 2 inches, and moved the shoulder seam in about 3/8".  Now that it is done I am not 100% happy with the bust dart placement, could maybe be a little lower but whatever, I can live with it.
green shirt back

I used a lightweight cotton for the cuffs and collar stand as I always see these cute shirts with mixed prints or accent fabrics and wanted to try it out. Making those sleeve plackets is not that bad, it's like buttonholes or zippers, once you do it a few times it goes really quick. And as you can see I could probably narrow the cuffs for my smallish wrists but I just move the buttons to where it fits better. Note to self, the sleeves are a bit long and I still haven't shortened the pattern. Probably because of my extra short arms I am used to all sleeves being too long and never even think about it. Duh!

green shirt cuff

Things are green around here but I had to actually water some plants over the weekend  - it's going be a cruel summer.....

me in green shirt

Happy St. Patrick's Day and happy sewing, 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Random Threads # 11 pattern choices and fabric purchases

Spring is well and truly here in Northern California - not that winter ever fully arrived. Thank you for all the nice comments on my last jacket project, I appreciate it and while I am very happy with that pattern it is going in the closet until November or so. No way I would have any opportunity to wear it as our temps are hitting the 80's (F) this weekend so I am breaking out the shorts. Once again I apologize to you in the snow zone - but when you have a lush green summer and we are parched and scorching then the tables will be turned.

Speaking of summer sewing - I bought some new fabrics recently. Which may seem a typical thing to say but not for me as I hardly ever buy fabric in a store lately. It seems I have found about 75% of my fabrics at garage sales or sewing swaps. To tell the truth I just bought some this morning, some turquoise blouse weight linen and a two tone cotton, both destined for shirts, investment four dollars.

Also I have been looking through my patterns and deciding what to make. This past year was all about pattern repeats but I want to crack open a few that I bought with full intention to sew and haven't. Plus I need to talk about my abiding pattern obsession - which is any Vogue pattern by Donna Karan. It is so strange as I don't really get any charge out of her collections when I see them. Probably due to the use of black, earth tones, a lot of oversized items. They just look too New York for this west coast life. But the shapes are often so flattering on a female body and that is the beauty of sewing, picking the fabric and color that suits you personally.

So here is a collection of my DK patterns and some thoughts on what I might make next.
First up:  these are two I plan to make this spring. The one on the left, V1220 was picked up at a pattern swap at a Bay Area Sewists meet up - my friend Laura Mae dragged me over the the table and said "you have to take this pattern, it looks good on everyone who makes it"  OK I was sold. The one on the right,  V1236 seems such a simple yet easy silhouette to wear, and uses almost no fabric so I will give that a try as I live in shift dresses when the temps go over 100F.

V1220 imageV1236 env

And now two patterns that I have had for a while - never purchased them as new but got them for free at other swaps. They always were on my "I wish" list but due to my miserly tendencies hadn't bought them at retail. But free - can't resist. I like them both and have seen seen nice versions on the web, particularly the V1087 on the left. (checkout this version). I almost started the one on the right last summer, V1281 but kind of ran out of time so didn't get that made. (But again Carolyn did, in a completely unique version).

V1087 imageV1281 env

Sometimes these Karan patterns start to seem a bit similar, as these two look kind of alike on the envelope but are not at all. The one on the left, V1287 I made for myself back in 2012 and have only worn it twice. It is just too much drapey fabric on my, I probably should have sized down and maybe taken out some fullness. So not a winner. Although I like the skirt design with the drapey (droopy?) pockets. The one on the right, V1159 was much better. I made this for a friend and while the pattern has some issues (gapey armhole problem that everyone encountered) it is very glamorous and I was really happy with the result. Here is the link to that dress's blogpost.  I also did a post comparing this pattern to a Vogue Michael Kors dress pattern as they are similar in idea, and that is one of the most read posts here on my blog.

V1287 envV1159 env

What's left in my DK Vogue pattern stash? This one qualified for my designation of "Pattern Love" which I don't hand out lightly. And I hate the version on the envelope.  I don't even like cowl necklines as a rule. But this dress is SO well designed, sews up beautifully. Can be made in a knit or a woven.  I have made it 4 times, my first version here and then a couple more times for a friend.

V1351 env

Some honorable mentions - this one below V1250 doesn't appeal to me but I made it for a friend and it looked great on her. I think if you have a fuller upper body and slim lower - which some women do - then this dress looks very flattering. If you lean more towards the full hip and smaller bust then the pattern above  (V1351) gives a similar cowl effect but might be better. The V1250 is maybe one of the easiest dress patterns I have ever sewn, Vogue or otherwise.

V1250 env

And my Donna obsession goes way back, as this one below is my most treasured pattern. Just a simple sheath dress but somehow perfect for me. The copyright date on my pattern says 1990. This dress is a keeper - truth be told a bit snug now but I will never get rid of it. Wore it a zillion times, made with coral wool crepe and has held up beautifully. I think wool crepe is a perfect dress fabric as it shapes beautifully, the colors are fantastic and holds up to wear.

V2470 envRed DK dress front

So those are my DK pattern obsessions, the strange thing is I have not bought any of the most recent releases for maybe 18 months? If history is any guide I will be snapping them up later at a swap or trade.

What about all that fabric I bought?  Here is a quick rundown.
First a purchase from Girl Charlee. They have so many fabrics I like but this cherry blossom blue knit print has caught my eye for many months. The pineapple print denim is a bit goofy but I showed it to my mom as I thought it would make a cute little denim jacket for her. So I ordered 4 yards. I may end up with some wacky shorts as well.

Girl charlee fabrics

A few more. The dot/stripe knit I got at a fabric swap, and will make a cute summer t-shirt. The paisley blue cotton print I bought at Joann fabrics this week, along with the blue mosaic floral print ITY on the right. The paisley print for a button front shirt and the ITY jersey for a wrap dress which may look slightly polyester and/or geriatric but I will give it a try.

blue paisley cotton and dot knitblue mosaic floral ITy

Some stripes - the light blue and the black/white I got at a fabric swap, good for t-shirts. The Navy blue with kelly green stripes is another actual purchase ! which I bought at Stone Mountain, for another version of the shingle dress Vogue 8904 which I wore a lot last summer.

trio of stripes

So as usual a heavy dose of blue in all forms in my sewing queue. However I am working on something green for St. Patrick's day,  a long standing tradition in my very Irish half of my family.

green knit shirt

Happy weekend sewing and I hope the leprechauns don't hide your scissors as they sometimes do to me!


Today's garden photo, the Spanish lavender seems to have bloomed overnight and I can't get enough of these gorgeous colors, purple and green are perfect together. 

Spanish lavender

Friday, March 6, 2015

Burda Shawl Collar Coat 11/2014 # 111 in plum heathered wool

The calendar still says winter but it feels like spring around here - and yet  I have just completed one of the warmest garments I have ever sewn. This pattern grabbed me the moment I saw it despite the fact I have no need for another coat. I had this piece of wool bought at Stone Mountain about a year ago so I decided to give it a try. Note I bought the PDF pattern download from the BurdaStyle website, not the magazine pattern.

Burda Plum jacket front

Burda coat 111 shawl collar pattern
And I really wanted to make a full length coat but once I started cutting out I realized I had nowhere near enough fabric so it became a jacket not a coat. To compound that, I was this close to making a very major mistake - totally forgetting to cut out the facings. At least until I did my usual step back and do a little mental origami. I run through all the pieces on the table and "construct" the item in my head - and that is when I realized I had not planned to cut out the facings, which definitely show on this design. Whew!

Burda plum coat back

I didn't make any changes in the pattern - actually sewed it just as is. Oops one change, it had buttonholes marked about an inch above the waist seam but I decided it was a perfect design to make the in seam buttonholes, as I did on this other Burda jacket. Can you believe I found these buttons at Joanns? I just went in there thinking I might find something so I could finish it and maybe get better ones later but these are just right.

Burda Plum coat buttons

Burda plum coat collar

Interfacing on upper and under collar, plus all the way down the front. I also catch-stitched down those seams where the collar joins the coat so it would stay flat. This fabric was so thick and springy, it really needed a lot of trimming and grading.

Burda plum coat insideBurda plum coat seam trim

It was about 70 degrees this afternoon and I ran outside and took a pretty terrible iPhone timer photo so you can see how it looks on and how the collar falls. I think this will get plenty of wear next fall but for now it being put away in the closet with the other winter stuff!  my apologies to everyone in the snow zone.
Burda coat on me

The lining is ambiance rayon.

Burda lining plum coat
One thing I might need to change is to add something onto the hem edge, I should have put a seam finish there because it is raveling a bit. As you can see, I didn't sew the lining to the hem, kind of not the typical but I like a lining to be loose from the jacket or coat bottom, once in a while I attach it but mostly I don't.

Burda hem plum coat

One last look at the coat with the collar up. When I first posted the coat muslin I think there was a comment that it was a Fashion coat as opposed to a Winter coat. But I think it could be a very warm coat and you could easily put another button or other closure at the top. It is a very easy pattern and perfect for a beginner.

Burda plum coat collar up

So onto the next projects which might be pants, I really want to make some crazy print pants for spring. And just ordered some pineapple print denim from Girl Charlee. Summer is coming !!!

Happy Daylight Savings Sewing, Beth

and something in the purple range for today's garden photo, violas in violet.

viola violet

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sewing a perfect waistband and other recent Craftsy posts

It seems I am not the only one who doesn't like to sew buttons - based on the previous post's comments there are plenty of you who are with me on that one. Give me a nice zipper closure anyway. Although separating zippers - I find those a bit of trouble also. Oh well, unless I am going to sew myself into my clothes as they sometimes do on Project Runway I will have to deal with all manner of closures, whether buttons, snaps, zippers or whatever other interesting details I can think of. (my friends Shams and Jean are both brilliant at coming up with interesting closures, and masters of the separating zipper on jackets).

A couple of posts on Craftsy recently that you may be interested in. And a plea to readers for some topic ideas - I am blanking out this week on any ideas for topics. Please suggest something to me :)

This one was very dear to my heart - it really bugs me to see the waistband not lapping properly at the top of a zipper - check it out to see examples, what to look for and how to fix.

Waistband craftsy post image
Plaid perfect waistband

And one that I always think is nice for spring/summer sewing:  How to create a scalloped edge. You don't need to look for a pattern that already has this detail, you can customize any pattern. Using "tools" from the kitchen. What?  Check out the post and see.

Scallops Craftsy image
scallop dress photo

Happy I can't believe it is already March sewing, Beth

and a little daffodil sunshine for you. I love daffodils, they naturalize, they multiply, they reliably pop up year after year. A perfect addition to the garden!

daffodils front yard

Friday, February 27, 2015

Button sewing, more that meets the eye

Hi and Happy Friday. Thank you so much for all the nice comments on the Quart coat, I really appreciate it. It probably goes to show that I really like making tailored wool items. I am about 3/4 of the way through making the Burda coat which I mentioned way back in November, the pattern is Shawl Collar Coat 11/2014 # 111 however mine is turning out to be more of a jacket than a coat. Which is probably just as well as a jacket is more wearable for me. 

How about buttons? That Quart Coat has 8 buttons, it is a double breasted coat and I made 4 working buttonholes on the outside plus one on the inner side so that it would stay closed if buttoned up all the way. When I was sewing on the buttons I had some issues and thought it might be interesting to see. 
Here it is all buttoned up, and the two extra buttons. I always buy two extra buttons for something really nice, it would be so annoying to lose one and have to replace all of them. Plus a coat is the garment most likely to lose a button, at least in my experience. 

finished all buttons

Note these buttons only have 2 holes. I find that this type of button is slightly more troublesome to sew on and have it stay in the orientation. As you can see these are square - they go nicely with the plaid but wanted to turn and twist after being sewn.
Why? because buttons are tricky. Kind of like Goldilocks, you can sew them too tight, or too loose, or just right.
I sewed these buttons on so many times I lost count. I am kind of fanatical about button sewing, and yet I really dislike it. But if sewed in the wrong place - even by a few millimeters it just ruins the front of the coat.

Probably hard to see but here is the example. When a button is sewn just slightly in the wrong place it can create a bump or ripple, or can offset the whole row of buttons and have the front be crooked. In this case I worked my way from the top down, sewed them all, and checked each time that they were OK. I thought they were fine but the one indicated there is a troublemaker.

button comparison edit

Here is a super closeup view of the button and buttonhole. I put the yellow dots so you can see the actual buttonhole opening. So even though the button is not too tight on the garment, meaning it has a little thread shank of about 1/8 - 1/4" it still was not in the right place. I think I sewed it on once more and then had to adjust another one as well.

buttonblip closeup edited

Whew! finally got them all in place although as you can see in the first photo it is a bit of a conflict because if they are sewed very tight so that the plaid lines up exactly then they would make a pucker at each buttonhole. Sewing buttons too tight causes just as many issues as sewing in not the exact right place. No wonder I dislike sewing buttons, my least favorite thing!

All's well that ends well, and I think these buttons are just perfect. Stone Mountain fabric store in Berkeley to the rescue once again.  Here is the finished coat although better views in my previous post.

front buttoned collar up copy

Spring is just around the corner here - or actually here, a bit early with daffodils in full bloom and tulips getting ready. I read all the snow zone blog posts with sympathy (horror) and know I would not last more than a minute any further north than, let's say, the Napa valley. Ok slight joke but I can't take winter. Hope it warms up for all of you very soon.

Happy weekend sewing, Beth

The last week or so has had the most amazing sunsets, the other day I was driving home from Marin and the sky looking out over the water towards the Golden Gate bridge was the most gorgeous shade of pink and gold. It does seem like living in a postcard sometimes as I travel around the bay area.
Behind my garden is a beautiful old California oak tree, three times as tall as my very large apple tree and home to an amazing number of birds and squirrels. Live nature entertainment just outside the sewing room window!

Oak tree at dusk

Friday, February 20, 2015

Quart coat completed! Pauline Alice coat pattern

The Quart coat is done. There is something very satisfying about this pattern title, I have to ask the designer Pauline Alice where she got the name. An almost alliterative name to say out loud and a very pleasing pattern to sew. I'm just wild for the pleats although I do think that fabric choice can make or break the coat, it needs to be something that will press nicely. I will have a follow up post on buttons and buttonholes but here are the final project pictures and the coat as worn.

This is Jaime wearing her new coat. Lots of photos in this post but I think this coat is worth it!

Jaime 1 copy front buttoned collar up copy

Whew, that plaid + double breasted + pleats, I will admit that fully half the work was just cutting it out. And it is a subtle plaid, but it needs to match. This wool was really a perfect texture, a wool flannel but just a tiny bit more crisp than the usual wool so it pressed perfectly. This was actually a lucky break for me. I happened to have two fabrics that would have worked, one was this and the other was more of a tweed, mixture of tan, lavender, grey. Slightly dull. In retrospect I think she chose the better one but at the time I was hoping she would select the tweed, because...not plaid!

pleats close up copy

Jaime2 coat

coat back copy

Ok, lots of readers like the inside view so I made sure to flip the coat inside out. I omitted the back neck facing and cut the lining so it went all the way up to the bottom of the collar.  You can't see it here on the navy blue lining but is another post for a Burda coat I made in 2013 that shows this lining change.

inside lining frontlining back copy

A couple more details. Someone asked in the previous post about the lining hem and the pleated section. I confess I didn't read the instruction so not sure how it was supposed to go but I just cut a piece of lining, about 3/4 of the length of the pattern piece and then just hand pleated it at the seam to fit it in that section. I machine stitched the lining hem just in that section, then the rest of the lining is hand sewn to the hem with a little jump pleat to allow for movement.

hem lining copy

Pockets, of course. Same lining fabric which is Ambience rayon. I think pocket linings should disappear, and usually I cut a little extension on the coat body so that it sticks into the pocket further but I forgot. But these pockets are on the front princess seams and they hide well.

pocket lining copy

I had my doubts about this collar but now that I have finished it I really like it - lots of ways to style it.

collar close up copy

I could not be happier with the combo of coat, style and wearer. I think she is too :)

Jaime smile

We took these pictures in Marin on the bayshore - it looks cloudy but just a little fog. No rain for us, unfortunately.

I did two previous posts that included this coat, the first is here, just a sneak peek really of the inside and my extremely zealous tailor tacking, and the second post is here, with some details on construction. Pauline contacted me last summer and asked if I would try out her pattern which was still in the design stage, she sent me some photos and I said a resounding yes. Then I was swamped with other stuff, made a muslin, gave her feedback and decided I would not sew it as I don't care for double breasted all that much on me, and though it was not really a coat nor a jacket because of the length. Then I thought about changing it to single breasted - which could easily be done and it would look just as cute. Also thought about lengthening. However when I showed it to Jaime she wanted it exactly as designed, and I think she was absolutely right. (of course she is 5'8" and everything looks good on her :) A pattern with a lot of possibilities, probably not a beginner project but definitely a nice challenge.

Onward to my next project, I am still pondering the Burda coat, and thinking it might be jacket length instead - how many coats do I need?

Happy sewing, Beth

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