Thursday, January 22, 2009

Kwik Sew 3453 – Faux Shearling Vest

My MIL gave me this fabric at Christmas time. She was planning to make a vest out of it for my SIL but got pretty frustrated with it (her machine really didn’t like it). The fabric came complete with the inspiration photo from a Lands' End catalog – Winter 2006. So, I’m only two years beyond on this trend, but that’s about right for me. Most of the RTW clothes in my closet are hand-me-downs from my fashionista sister and they are about two years old, too.

My MIL had tried to copy a different vest that my SIL had, so the front and back pieces were already cut out. I was able to selvage those pieces using Kwik Sew 3453.

This is a great pattern! It has side panels with pockets in the front seam and forward shoulder seams. The seam lines worked well with the lapped seams.

I traced off a size small and didn’t make any fitting alterations to this pattern.

I increased the seam allowances to ½” and trimmed off the seam allowances on the pieces that would be on the top. I trimmed off the hem allowance and left that raw. The armholes are also left raw. The collar pattern piece is twice as high as the finished collar. It is meant to be folded over after the zipper is inserted. I cut the pattern piece in half and left the top edge of the collar raw. The neck edge and zipper are bound with a bias strip of a green and brown woven (the same as the denim jacket lining).

I used a Microtex Sharp needle and didn’t have much trouble with this fabric. I did get a couple of skipped stitches while topstitching along the zipper where the pockets are. There are at least 6-7 layers there – more than half of them being the shearling. I did as much trimming as I could.

There is enough fabric left to make another vest and I think I will offer to do that for my SIL. Unless she isn’t interested in being two years behind the trend…

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Butterick 3344 - Brown turtleneck

In keeping with the plan to alternate one easy thing with a more complicated thing, I made this very easy turtleneck to wear with the denim jacket.

The pattern is Butterick 3344. I used View D’s bodice and collar with the long sleeves from the other views.

This is the second time I have made this turtleneck and I really like it. The first one I made was too short so I don’t wear it, but I was really happy with the fit when I made it.

The fabric is a lightweight poly jersey. It is so soft and lovely to wear. For the most part it was easy to sew.

The turtleneck is gathered at the back and closes with a zipper. The instructions say to fold the collar wrong sides together and then pin the collar to the neck edge. Then the zipper is inserted and somehow you are supposed to get a nice finish at the top of the collar where the zipper ends. Not likely. I put the zipper in before folding the collar down and then slipstitched the edges of the collar to the zipper and the neck seam. This made for a good, clean finish.

1. I added 3.5” in length to the bodice front and back.
2. I “straightened” out the side seam (to avoid it flaring out at the hem) by tapering out to a 10 at the waist and in to a 6 at the hem.
3. I added 8” in length to the sleeve and then gathered up these 8” into 4” with clear elastic sewn next to the sleeve seam.
4. I added 1.5” to the lower half of the collar – the part that is gathered. The fabric I used wasn’t very heavy and I wanted a more “scrunched” look.

You can see more pics in my post about the denim jacket. Now it’s time for something more complicated again….

McCall’s 5007 - Denim Jacket

The denim jacket is finished. I wasn’t so sure I was going to be able to say that. More on that later. I’m pretty pleased with it. This pattern has been in my stash for awhile now. It was very popular on Pattern Review a couple of years ago. I like the simple lines and both collar variations. Nothing about the pictures on the envelope suggested denim, but I thought this particular piece of denim would be a good match.

I found this remnant at the local fabric store a couple of months ago and really liked it. It is a good weight in a nice color and finish. With this piece I thought I would actually be able to make something denim that didn’t scream “homemade!” It is probably best that there was only a remnant left. Otherwise I would have gone back and bought a whole bolt. I had visions of jeans, bags, more jackets, etc.

The jacket is fully lined with a woven cotton print in green and brown.

I don’t think the back is all that interesting. I think it ought to have princess seams in the back too. I didn’t want to bother with them this time around. If I make it again maybe I’ll add them.

1. I added 1/2" in length to the bodice.

2. I decreased the height of the collar by 1/2" and shortened it so that it ends just before the center front.

3. I used the sleeve pattern from Vogue 2793 (OOP). This sleeve has a curved seam along the top of the arm. It results in a nicely fitted sleeve that needs very little easing to set in. I haven't worked with denim very much, but I wasn't real excited about trying to ease this piece. I think the extra seam adds a little interest, too. I did have to decrease the height of the sleeve cap by 3/8" to make the patterns compatible.

I bagged the lining and finished the hem/facing juncture according to the tutorial by Fashion Incubator. This was the first time I had tried this and found this to be a great way to finish the jacket. Completely finished on the inside and entirely by machine.

My first choice would have been to make the pocket flaps with buttons on, but I only bought four buttons, not six. I bought the buttons when we were out of town visiting family, so I couldn’t just go get some more. Bummer. I really liked THESE buttons, so I didn’t really entertain the thought of going to another store and picking out some different ones. So, what to do?

I didn’t like the idea of plain pocket flaps or plain patch pockets, so I decided to try echoing the button motif on the pockets. A few different options auditioned and in the end I chose a single line of machine straight stitching in thread the same color as the buttons. During the “audition” I liked that it was subtle and clean, but now that it is finished I’m not so sure. I think it might be too subtle and would look better if it was a little more noticeable. Oh, well…file that away for next time.

I tried many different machine settings and threads for the buttonholes. While I was practicing on a scrap, my machine did them all just fine. When I started doing them on the actual jacket it skipped more stitches than it made. No need to panic…just change the needle, double check the tension, make sure the pressure foot isn’t angling up or down, etc. Try again. Same thing. Hmmm… Turn the machine off and on and reset. Same thing. Go back to the scrap and try it on there. Same stitch skipping stuff! Grrrrr….What’s going on? I was so frustrated. My sewing machine is the only predictably well-behaved thing in my house and now it was causing problems. I hung up the jacket and had to walk away and cool off. It really put me in a bad mood for quite awhile. The next day I went back to it and tried a Microtex Sharp needle. That worked. The whole thing is still a bit of a puzzle to me, but I was so relieved and really happy to be able to finish the jacket.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Vogue 8536

2009 is off to a good start for me!

I’m pretty excited about the first thing out of my sewing room. I bought Vogue 8536 a while back specifically for View E: the wrap-style top.

I really like the neckline and the wrap style. I found the fabric at Fabricland in November. I don’t remember the specifics, but I remember that it was a good deal. (It always is, isn't it?) The bolt was labeled as a “sweater knit.” I guess this is a sweater knit, albeit a very fine gauge one. I am a little afraid of sewing with sweater knits. Somehow I still have a few pieces in my stash. Hmmm….

This fabric was really nice to work with and is helping get me over my fears. It is however, very sheer. This pattern was a good match for the fabric. The double-front provides more coverage. But, still…I will likely only wear this with a cami underneath.

I’m pretty happy with the fit and I really didn’t do much altering. I was worried about gaping between the neck and arm so I essentially “pulled” the top layer tighter by trimming off ¾” at the neckband of the top front tapering to 0 at the side seam. It seems like this worked. I’ve worn the top a couple of times and there is very little gaping. The side slits at the hem are a nice feature of this pattern, but I omitted them in favor of the extra length. Next time I sew this I will include them. Finally, I added 2” to the long sleeve length – pretty standard for me.

The next project is a denim jacket. I have quite a few things lined up and waiting to be sewn. The rough plan is to alternate more complicated things with easy, instant gratification things like this top. We’re off to a good start.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Here it goes...

I’ve been toying with the idea of keeping a blog about sewing for awhile now. When I mentioned this to my husband* he said “But, who would read it?” Thanks, dear. I let that deter me for a little while but then I decided that I didn’t really care if anyone read it. I would think of it as a sewing journal. You won’t find any sort of “hit counter” on my blog.

I’ve been sewing since I was about 8 years old. Over the years I think it has evolved from a hobby to a passion to an addiction. I have family members that sew, but don’t live near any of them right now. I don’t have any friends that share my passion so I often find that sewing is a lonely hobby. That has never discouraged me from pursuing it, but I have been really encouraged and inspired by the other sewing blogs and websites that I have found. So, perhaps someone will stumble across my entries and will be encouraged or inspired. Or perhaps they won’t. I think my journaling will help me be better at my craft.

A few months ago we moved from a two-bedroom apartment into a house. We are a family of five, so it was good to be able to “spread out” in so many ways. In my opinion, one of the nicest things about the move was that I now have my own sewing space. One of the bedrooms is a dedicated sewing room. I am amazed at how efficient I can be in this space! Very little sewing time is spent getting equipment and supplies out or putting it away. It’s great and I am very thankful for this space. I’ll think of this blog as an extension of that physical space.

*I’ve probably given you a bad impression of my husband. He really is a wonderful man and is very supportive of my addiction. He just doesn’t blog or read blogs so the idea was a little unusual to him.