Saturday, November 3, 2018

What the Heck?

I was doing some online snoop shopping and I came across these "Side Zip Ponte Leggings" on a fairly major retailer's website. Okay, it was The Gap.

I was picturing an invisible zipper, but nooooooo. All I could think of when I saw the picture was, "OMG, I would die of embarrassment if I put in a zipper that looked like that." They'd have to pay me to wear them.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Lonely Garments Club

Who doesn't have a lonely garment? One that hangs in your closet and never gets worn because you just don't have the right thing to wear with it? I had just such a garment in my closet, so when the "Lonely Garment Club" contest was announced on Pattern Review, I thought it would be a good time to make something to go with it.

When I first considered entering this contest, I had envisioned a midi-length skirt made out of the same linen/rayon blend I used for this skirt. Before I made my final decision, though, I consulted my good friend, Polly, who told me that a midi-skirt might not be my best look. So I decided on a shorter skirt.

The pattern I chose was Simplicity 2226, a skirt with contoured waistband, lapped zipper and optional tie belt in two lengths, available in Misses sizes 6 to 18. I made the shorter version (because I am short, not because I wanted a short skirt) and omitted the belt loops.

This is a Learn to Sew pattern and the instructions are extremely detailed with excellent illustrations for each construction step. For example, the instructions for the lapped zipper insertion include four detailed paragraphs with very clear illustrations for each paragraph.

I chose a black linen/rayon blend that had been aging in my stash for at least ten years.

There are a couple of reasons I particularly like this pattern...first, it has huge, sturdy pockets. When I say huge and sturdy I mean they hang from the waistband and are easily large enough for a cell phone or a small dog. Second, it has gathers that add a nice fullness, but it is smooth over the hips.

I like this pattern a lot. It's well drafted and what I mean by that is that all the pieces fit together exactly as this spatially challenged individual would expect them to; there are no mysterious places where the seam lines don't quite line up and you have to guess whether you should east them together, chalk it up to poor cutting, or assume that your fabric has stretched.

Even so, I hit a few bumps along the way. After altering the waistband and assembling the skirt, when I tried it on, it was tooooooo big. I took the whole thing apart (so sad because my lapped zipper was p-e-r-f-e-c-t) and took the waistband in a total of two inches at the side seams; it was still too big! I'm still not sure if that was a drafting error on my part or if the fabric stretched that much.

So I re-re-drafted the waistband and re-cut. In addition to re-drafting, I also used a more stable quilting cotton for the facing. And I handled the waistband like it were made of the finest, most fragile silk. The resulting skirt fits as I intended it to, but in retrospect, I wish I had drafted the waistband to sit a little closer to my natural waist than I did. It literally can't fall of, but I feel like it's in imminent danger of falling of at any moment.

I will make this skirt again, but with a re-re-re-drafted waistband. I have a fun border print set aside that will be great for casual wear. I highly recommend it for everyone, but especially for beginners.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Silhouette #418, Fisher's Pleated Blouse

This was my first foray into Silhouette pattern. The blouse is described as:

"New from the Fall 2018 Eileen Fisher runway, this beautiful pleated front blouse is perfect on every shape and size. The neckline is finished with an easy bias binding, the cup sizing is built into the blouse at the side seam so every shape and size has been included. The pleat is stunning and gives the body a vertical line to thin visually. The sleeve is 3/4 length and finished with a narrow band with a button. This pattern is for woven fabrics but could also be done in a knit if using a knit sleeve substitution."
I have had a string of wadders in recent weeks, so I desperately needed a win, and this pattern is a definite winner. It came to my attention while watching Peggy Sager's "Fall Fashion Forecast" video, where she was wearing the blouse. I went immediately to her website, ordered the pattern, then settled in to wait for it to arrive. 

In the meantime, I prepped my fabric, a black linen/rayon blend purchased at least decade ago at Joann. I don't remember what I was originally planning to do with it, but it must have been HUGE because I have yards and yards of this stuff. So I was willing to sacrifice some to the cause of making something that fit.

Silhouette patterns are unique in their sizing. Each pattern includes size ranges 1 to 4 and 5W to 8W. The measurement range for each size represent the finished size of the garment, not body measurements. Needless to say, I was "confused" about what size I would need to make. When the pattern came, I started tracing off a size 3. Then, in a Facebook group dedicated to Silhouette patterns, I noticed that someone who looked around my size had made it up in a size 2 and it fit her nicely. So I retraced the pattern in the smaller size.

After I traced the pattern, I prepped it for a tissue fitting. First, I drew in the stitching lines, reinforced them with Scotch tape, and pinned them together. Based on the tissue fitting, I lowered the bust point 3/4". I'm not convinced that was exactly right; 1" might be better, but it's certainly in the acceptable range. Then I narrowed the shoulders by, again, 3/4".

Then I started sewing!

The instruction were easy to understand, even for this spatially-challenged individual. That being said, I didn't follow them exactly because I wasn't confident in my ability to execute them well. Instead, I fell back on some more traditional home sewing techniques. 

For example, the instructions had you sew both ends of the bias neck band, turn it right  side out and press the seam allowances to the wrong side. You would then proceed to sandwich the seam allowance of the neck edge into the neck band and attach it with only a row of edge stitching. Yeah. That was not going to work for me, so I folded one long edge to the wrong side, then stitched the other side to the neck edge right sides together. Then I folded it to the wrong side and top stitched it.
While this blouse started as a muslin for which I had vague hopes that it might turn out to be wearable, it turned out to be far more than that. The fit isn't perfect, but it's very wearable and I love it.

I do plan to make it again. When I do I'll probably raise the vee according to the directions that Peggy helpfully included in the instructions. It's not that I don't like the vee because I do; it's every bit as slimming as Peggy said it would be. It's more that I would prefer it to be slightly different than the first one. I might also add a skosh more room at the bust; less than an inch, but I won't be sure until I have a chance to wear the blouse and maybe get some female feedback. 

As I said above, this was my first time making a Silhouette pattern and I am very pleased with the results. I'll be purchasing and making more.

More photos. I doesn't show any details. As Nina Garcia would say...not very editorial.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Old Jeans, How Do I Love Thee?

Check out that embroidery!
Seriously, the lengths some of us will go to in order to save a favorite pair of jeans.

I have short legs; so short that I usually need shorten even "Short" jeans. Sometimes I don't bother, though, and eventually, I walk off the hems in the back. Usually I just shrug it off and buy new jeans, but some jeans just aren't replaceable.

Like these 2007 vintage Eddie Bauer embroidered jeans. Yes, I have had these jeans for almost 11 years. They just don't make them like this anymore! These were made before everyone switched to stretch denim, so they feel like real jeans. And there's bonus embroidery!

For those of you gifted with longer legs, who have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about when I say I walk the hems off, let me show you.

These aren't my favorite jeans.
These jeans are undeserving of salvation.
But my favorite jeans looked just this bad.

That's what a hem looks like after you've worn your too-long jeans for a couple of years. It seems like it would be impossible to save them, right?


If I were going to repair that hem on my non-favorite jeans, what I would do - what I did, in fact, do to re-hem my favorite jeans - would be to cut off the entire old hem leaving as much length as possible. You only need about 1/8" of relatively undamaged fabric for the "hem" to make this work.

After the old hem is cut off, unfold one side of some double-fold bias tape and apply it to the hem edge. (On the right side, Paula. The RIGHT SIDE.) Fold the bias tape to the wrong side, press it, and stitch it in place. I hand stitched mine first, because I never trust my ability to catch the bias tape when stitching from the other side.

And the finished hem looks like this!

My favorite jeans, neatly hemmed again!

Hopefully these will last another 11 years.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Working Wardrobe

Published in 1981, I believe (but am not certain) Working Wardrobe; Affordable Clothes That Work For You! was the first book to present the capsule concept of wardrobe planning. The author, Janet Wallach, has impressive credentials in the fashion industry. Her career, at the time of publication, spanned 20 years and included work as a fashion designer, fashion coordinator nad fashion merchandising director.

The capsule concept involves planning your wardrobe around a grouping of basic garments in coordinating colors that can be worn interchangeably. As discussed in the book, a professional capsule consists of 12 garments and provides 48 different looks. The first capsule discussion includes illustrations of all the possible looks for the capsule...just in case you have trouble envisioning all the looks.

The book includes numerous examples and color fashion illustrations of the concepts discussed, as well as 60 suggestions for capsule color combinations, also in color. Also included are case studies of various individuals and how the capsule concept was applied to their specific life circumstances. One of the more useful features of the case studies is a description of how the women used pieces from their current wardrobes as a basis for their first capsules. As the chapter headings suggest, the author has also expanded the concept beyond a professional wardrobe. 

As the book was published in 1981, some of the featured fashions  dated; however, they are very fine examples of 1980s fashion illustrations. Since the author stresses classic pieces the problem is not as pronounced as in some books on wardrobe planning that feature trendier designs. One other thing that dates the book is the inclusion of dollar amounts in the case studies. Truly, some of the figures given are laughably small by today's standards; I could drop more in 15 minutes in Eddie Bauer than these women paid for entire wardrobes!

The book also includes some blank capsule planning charts. If you're lucky enough to be able to purchase a copy of the book, good for you! Otherwise, the charts would be easy to reproduce on notebook paper or in your word processing program.This book is not a must have but it is an excellent book on wardrobe planning using the capsule concept. This book is out of print, but affordable used copies are available on Amazon.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Under Construction

I'm re-thinking and re-arranging the blog, so please bear with me while it's under construction.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Filed Under: It Could Have Been So Much Worse

I love our dogs. Our girl, Shasta, is so sweet and Thor is, well, just like every other little boy...full of mischief.

Like this. I guess this is to be expected when you have to share your sewing room with two big, rowdy dogs.