December 30, 2013

Leopard Armor Dress

Somehow my sewing year would not have been complete without culminating in one last animal print garment. The pattern is McCall's Fashion Star 3789. A fitted lined color-blocked dress with seam detail at the yokes, a neck band and a peplum. That is a lot of action in one dress, needless to say I was so excited to try the pattern.
Previously when I made my leopard print blazer, I mentioned I picked up a secondary leopard print cotton canvas from Mood Fabrics. Unfortunately Mood is now out of this cotton canvas print (There must be quite a few of animal print sewers out there!) but they have a vast selection of other cotton canvas options. Cotton canvas was perfect for the center front and back placement of this dress design, it is thick and stable and acts as a fabric armor plates in this dress. 
My contrasting solid brown fabric is Mood's Doe Solid Cotton Sateen. I choose the doe sateen to compliment the cotton canvas because it was thinner than the canvas and would drape better than another canvas for the peplum feature. The doe sateen also had compatible stretch with the printed cotton sateen.  

 Neckline band and seam detail
Pattern adjustments were my standard: square and broad shoulder adjustments and petite torso adjustment to accommodate my frame. 
 During construction I amended the peplum. The pattern utilized a single fabric peplum with a narrow hem.  
I elected to french seam the side seam of the peplum and set off to narrow hem but I was dissatisfied with the results. It was lifeless and I hated the visible stitching of the narrow hem, the bulk over the side seam and the hideous peplum points. 
It was immediately scraped and I re-drafted the peplum pieces omitting the side seam. I cut a new peplum and also a lining. After the construction I yielded crisp clean peplum sides with perfect hems, no visible stitching and lovely symmetric points. 
And now you can see pops of my burgundy lining (because this dress needed more action) which also gave me an excuse to dress it around burgundy, one of my favorite colors. 
 Silly photos in the cold winter air
Happy New Year to you and yours! 

December 21, 2013

Contrast Bow Blouse and You Win Some You Loose Some Pants

The pattern McCall's 6601 stood out to me because of the contrast bow blouse. I liked the idea of a busy print with a solid bow framing the face. The print fabric is a synthetic challis; which has a stiffer hand than a silk or poly sateen. Due to the stiffer hand the challis behaved much better during construction. Hey look, Vogue 8872 also found this fabric to also be perfect for a bow blouse. The solid contrast is a cotton broadcloth. Even cut on the bias for the bow the fabric does not have much drape. Thus a stiff bow at the neck, I like the effect but commonly the bow neck blouse is desired with a loose draped bow like the pattern envelope photos in which a silk or poly sateen with wonderful drape is utilized. 
Look this is me attempting the models pose on the pattern envelope. At least it is a variation of my go to hand on the hip pose. I have patented that pose its Melodic Steel a la Blue Steel of Zoolander fame.

The broadcloth was perfect for the cuffs and vents because of the fabrics properties so I elected to make the cuffs in contrast too. The vent detail was a one piece folded tab vent, if the vent fabric was a slippery sateen I would have cried. This detail was challenging with all its turns and folds. I followed the construction steps for the blouse completely and yielded great results. 
OK so lets swallow my pride and discuss the sad state of these pants. I did not go into making these pants with any grandiose plans of them being magical britches. 

The Fashion Star Patterns have options for pattern manipulation. I really like those and always give them a second glance. This was no different, I thought it would be a challenge to manipulate this wide leg trouser to a sleek urban Capri. Like all pant patterns changing the leg shape is the least of the manipulation complications. 
I shortened the seat to my measurements, then decided to attempt a wearable muslin in a scrap fabric. The fabric is a navy thin poly crepe suiting, I was not in love with the fabric it is too thin for my taste in a great trouser, perfect for trial and error. In the end lots of errors. I am not a fan higher waist pants on my frame. I dislike front pleated pants. The rear needs a lot of adjustment for my body: raise the center back, contour the waistband and adjust the welt pocket placement. Al in all this is not the pant pattern for me. The pant pattern did have some great features. The waistband opening laps over the left front pocket with out a zipper, which is neat and not common. And I had not attempted welt pockets in quite some time so the back welt pockets, positioned through the back darts, were a fun refresher. They turned out pretty good and now I want to make more. You win some... you loose some. 

December 18, 2013

Cozy Camel Coat Simplicity 1942

The pattern is Project Runway Simplicity 1942 (OOP). I purchased the pattern to make the cape with leather detailing however while rummaging through the stash I stumbled upon a plush camel fabric. I received the fabric in a mystery bundle and never had the slightest notion of what to do with it. I would call it an upholstery fabric; it is hefty backed fabric with a pile on the surface. The pattern was a great match for the fabric, is is a wonderful weight for outerwear and the kimono sleeve is perfect as a set in sleeve would never work. 
My pattern modifications were minimal; I shortened the torso and squared the shoulders. I also added a lining as the reverse side of the fabric was incredibly stiff and scratchy.  
for the closure I used sew on snaps in lieu of button holes and the buttons were sewn to the outside for a bit of detail. 
My favorite construction detail in the pattern were the shoulder epaulets. I had to adjust a few pieces to remove some bulk of the material to get the feature to work in the fabric. 

First I serged a raw edge of the looper piece then triple turned and top stitched in place. The pattern intended me to create and turn a narrow tube to achieve a looper that was never going to happen in my hearty fabric.

I was then able to stitch my loopers to the outer jacket arm.
I was very proud of myself that I was able to manipulate the jacket on my machine bed and get both sides of the loopers turned under and machine stitched to the arm. 

Yeah me! I will do anything to get out of hand stitching. 
Next the tab was threaded through the looper. In order to tame the bulk of the tab I cut the under ply from lining fabric as two plys of the outer fabric would not have turned cleanly. 

Finally a button was sewn to anchor the tab. 

December 15, 2013

Plaid Wooly Jumper McCall's 5923

Pattern: Out of Print McCall's 5923 (year 2009). I had planned to make this dress since the day the pattern was purchased yet for years the pattern sat bundled up in the wool. 
 The dress is a tapered mid-knee dress that is partially bias with princess seams and an empire front waistline with bias band. 
Bias band at front
It is intended to be fitted however I enlarged the skirt circumference for comfort and ability to wear it while working, I also knew I would be wearing the dress over shirts as a jumper. I may go back and take the skirt in slightly at the waist area I feel the bulk is not doing my waistline any favors.
No big surprises here; I flat lined my version of the dress. The outer fabric is a thick delicious plaid worsted wool therefor the dress is only intended to be a winter garment and the lining helps keep any inner scratchy business at bay.
Against my speed sewing nature, I attempted to take my time matching my plaid in the end this was the best I could match my bias side seams. Not perfection but it will do. 

Another surprise, I amended the construction directions. 
I really do not like it when the sewing instructions direct you to sew the sew the the shoulder seam last when a full neckline and armhole facing are implemented. With that construction method I find the shoulder seam to be unstable and bulky. The last thing I wanted in my worsted wool dress was bulky seams so I constructed my facings to the dress body using an all in one method:
First the shoulder seams are constructed in both the facing and garment fabrics. Then the facing is attached to the dress;  the neckline and armscye seams are constructed. 
Next seam allowances are graded and clipped. No bulky wool seam allowances. 
Each side back piece is pulled to the front through the facing and upper bodice front turning the right sides out.
Press the seams down.
Attach the skirt front at the empire seam and stitch the side seams together.
Turn the facing to the inside and tack at the under arm. Presto all in one facing to garment and a super smooth neckline and arm in wool. 
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