Sunday, March 28, 2010

Dress BWOF 5/2009/117 and Coat BWOF 9/2007/105

The dress is done, the coat is finished, and here's proof:

I had both finished just in time for the wedding yesterday, and the road test went very well. I'm usually cold in spring temperatures unless I wear a sweater and pants or boots, but the coat and dress were warm and cuddly (and unbelievably comfortable; I almost felt like wearing sweats!), and not too warm for dancing either. Hooray for real wool fabrics!

The dress went together well. I had reservations about the cut-on underarm gussets, but I can usually make myself bite the bullet by telling myself "If others have done it, so can I", and it often works! I had the hardest time with the fabric, the green wool knit rolled like crazy along the edges, and the lining was so stretchy it was hard to decide on a cutting line at all. Considering the very imprecise cutting I'm surprised it looks as it does (and should). Maybe knit is just very forgiving.

I cut it out like the pattern said which called for a back zipper (in a woven), not daring to cut the back on the fold. (Would've saved myself a lot of pinning...) When Jenny sent me the link to her gorgeous dress which was also in a knit and cut on the fold it was too late. But I knew it could work in a knit and it wasn't just in my head!
I had to pin like crazy (hand basting would have been better but that's really my last resort), and triple checked for leftover pins before I sewed the hems and closed up the gap between the fabric and the lining... What can I say, at dinner last night I felt something poking me and actually found three more pins (that I had to wrestle through the knitting loops of the lining, in a cramped toilet booth, no less!). Another sewing war story to tell.
I cut the dress one size smaller than usual and adjusted at the side seams for width. I took it in a bit more on the bodice, but the skirt was fine.
Final notes on the lining: I underlined the dress; I think a real/separate lining wouldn't work with the surplice bodice. The inside isn't so pretty now; there's a lot of bulk in the seam allowances as is (with folds and two overlapping front parts), and I didn't want to add to it by binding the seam allowances.

For anyone interested in this pattern who doesn't have the magazine: German Burda has a free download of it this month as The Selfish Seamstress has noted.

Finishing details on the coat: These were the best snaps I could buy, and I decided to use them for the time being. (They were prohibitively expensive, over 5 euros a piece, which was probably more than I spent on the coat fabric, although I don't remember exactly.) Gwen is right that self-fabric covered buttons would look best, but I just didn't have it in me to add another labor-intensive step to this outfit. I might still do it, but will realistically be more interested in making something shiny and new!
(The picture looks as if the pattern/embroidery repeat doesn't match. It does match when closed - it fell crooked in the picture.)

Digs asked a question about the coat fabric. No, I didn't embroider it myself. I wish! I adore embroidery, and not necessarily the machine kind, but I lack the patience to do a lot of it. So I need to go to fabric markets and score cute pre-embroidered fabric! Speaking of which: Today is the year's first fabric market! Wahoo!

A final note: I'm finally getting to the point in my sewing where my fantasies and my abilities match up enough that the outfit I envision is the one I get to wear, like this dress/coat combo. A happy place!

And off I go... To market, to market!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Dress - Pattern and lining

I still haven't found buttons/snaps for the coat. An added challenge is that it must be finished by next Saturday, so international sources are out, and the German internet notions shops have less than impressive stock. German blogger Nowak named a source (no internet shop though) I'm hoping to get to. On top of everything, DD has been sick and it's a challenge to leave the house, let alone find time for such negotionables as snap shopping...

While skulking around searching for snaps and handsewing a hem here and there, I've decided on a pattern for the green dress to go with the coat. Again, I might be a bit optimistic hoping to finish it all by next Saturday, but then again, nothing like a deadline to get the creative juices flowing, right?
It's this pattern from BWOF 5/2009:
I thought about choosing a knit dress pattern, but they were all so body conscious/tight, and I'm finding that I like this less and less the older I get - though my figure hasn't changed much (or so I tell myself!). So I chose this pattern which is not for a knit; don't tell me it can't be done because I've already cut it out! (One size smaller than usual.)
Snaps aside, I've had a hard time locating knit lining... What the ...? Wasn't this a basic, a staple, last time I looked?! I could have ordered it online but wasn't sure it would be here in time to start on the dress. (Which is unlined in the pattern; but since it's a wool knit and I don't have a full slip it would be a bit uncomfortable and scratchy I imagine!) I was almost resigned to keeping it unlined when I has a light bulb moment: I could just use a suitable knit fabric from my stash! And I found one:
It's a very thin and stretchy polyester knit that I meant to use for a knit dress when these kinds of prints were popular a couple of years ago. Now I'm not a trendy person, and if I love something I wouldn't care if it's a bit out of style, but in all honesty there isn't much room for such a loud knit dress in my life. I might wear it once or twice a year, if at all. This green dress (if it works out) would definitely get worn a bit more. So it's decided; I'm just not sure about the technicalities - the front construction with all those folds seems to call for an underlining rather than a lining , but it won't be as pretty on the inside - and how to handle those facings?
Must go contemplate. Happy sewing weekend everybody!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Coat collar

The coat has been almost done since before the weekend - just handsewing the hems and closures are left. This is such a personal record I can hardly believe it! It certainly proves a TNT (tried-and-true pattern)'s worth (and the simplicity of the pattern didn't hurt either!). I'm tempted to continue sewing variations of this pattern into eternity - a jacket a week, now wouldn't that be nice?

Thank you for your nice comments on the pockets (I thought it might be welt pockets, but the translation software had me confused there...) and your vote of confidence on the collar. In the end, I followed my first hunch to go with the collar-less silhouette. This is the collar now:



This is how I drafted it:

First, I decided on the size of the neck opening. I wanted the neck to be 3 cm higher on all sides than the opening was when I had just sewn the front/back/raglan sleeves together. Since I have a rather thin neck, I thought this would leave the neck free, including the curve at the nape, so I wouldn't have to put a curve in the collar.

Then I decided on the width of the neck band; I thought 4 cm like the pocket flaps would be fine.

Last, the shape. Since I didn't want the collar to go up the neck, but to lie flat like an extension of the back/front/(raglan) sleeves, I basically just extended those pattern pieces.

How-to: Tape the front, sleeve and back pattern pieces together at the neck.
Put tissue paper on top; trace and extend the seam/front edge lines.

Trace new pattern 1 cm from neck seam line inside the existing pattern and 3 cm outside of it (= 4 cm neck binding). I cut this apart to make two pattern parts: Extension of the front/front sleeve pattern, and of the back sleeve/back pattern, to be cut on the fold.


Full disclosure:

I should have added some width toward the top of the "collar"; it's a little tight at the back neck. I even considered this and noted it on the pattern pieces, but it's so hard to tell the exact fit with upper collar, under collar, facings etc. before the collar is sewn and pressed, and in the end I decided against it.

Also, I made the mistake of not grading the seam allowances at the meeting point of upper collar/under collar/facing. Since I interlined the front and back pieces with cotton flannel, that's a lot of fabric at that seam. I cut it all off too short to grade any more, so in combination with the tight back neck this gives me a little "hump" in the back. Nothing I am going to lose sleep over; just be sure not to make the same mistake!

I'm planning to put snaps on it for closures, not to disturb the clean lines (aside from the embroidered border). I have no idea what's on offer around here; I may have some shopping adventures to share next time!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Flap pockets and delusions of grandeur

I. The pockets

Considering that I don't even know the correct translation ("Pattentaschen" in German), I am extremely pleased with my pockets. Here is one, someone please tell me the correct term (dictionary says flap pockets, but the flap is stitched down on the short ends/open on one side only).

I consulted my Burda book on techniques (same wording as the Burda magazine instructions, but with pictures!), and fearlessly sewed/cut away. I'm still not 100 % sure I did the right thing with the itty bitty triangles, but it looks like it should.

Irrelevant story: About a dozen or so years ago, I sewed an anorak jacket for my now-husband. Which had the same pockets. Being 99 % self-taught, and only going by Burda magazine instructions at the time (I didn't even own a book on sewing techniques), I had no idea that these pockets were hard or difficult to do. Heck, I had no idea Burda instructions were hard to understand sometimes; if I got it wrong, I just figured it was my fault.

Well, long story short, I finished the anorak, it looked wearable but nowhere near as good as this, and I renamed the "Pattentasche" "Fluchtasche". Cursing pocket. Because that's what I did, a lot. I asked DH whether he remembered the jacket. He said, of course, the one with the "Fluchtaschen". He was duly impressed.

II. The collar

This success may have gone to my head, since I am now considering drafting a different collar than what the pattern has.

The pattern is Burda 9/2007 no. 105 that I made this jacket from (there's a coat with basically the same pattern pieces; it's pattern no. 104). I put it on and took a picture to determine whether I'd like it in a coat. And I did not find the collar as bad when I had it on as expected. (The collar is fine; it's just my construction that was lacking.) Hmm.

The collar as you see is Peter Pan-like, and it might be a bit juvenile/playful for the embroidered fabric. After my last jacket went together alright, I would expect the collar to work out this time as well, but still. Here's the coat as it is now:

I'm considering adding a strip of fabric around the neck, like a facing, that does not stand up but just gives a nice edge. The shape would basically be a collarless coat. I think I could figure out the construction (I hope).

What do you think? Is it a good idea? Or am I losing touch with reality?

Happy sewing!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Fickle mojo

My mojo is fickle. My sewing ADD has something to do with that. Does anybody else have this problem?

I love planning a garment. What fabric, what pattern, what else to make that goes with it.

My problem: If I overthink this, the garment is done. If only in my mind, but it's done. And I lose interest.

So I'm trying to trick myself/my mojo. I'm invited to a wedding. I have spring fever, but the crocuses aren't out yet, and the temperatures are freezing. I have this lovely, flowery wool fabric, and this green wool knit that makes me think of spring meadows. Perfect.

(You've seen two of the fabric pieces before. I've contemplated a coat here, and a top here.)

I'm trying to go with the mojo that says, make a coat and a dress. I set scissors to fabric almost right after the thought. The coat is cut out, pockets are sewn, I'm trying hard to sew faster than I can think. Almost.

Next up: coat pattern and pockets.

P.S. Again, I find myself emulating a fellow sewer I admire. Last week, I looked at the beautiful coat Shannon made about two years ago. Now, I find myself making a beige coat (albeit embroidered) with a rusty orange lining. True story: this was the only coat fabric in my stash (about three years old) and the only satin piece long enough for a coat lining (originally bought for a blouse).


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