Editing the Pucci top/another V 1550 (Peralto Pant)

I finally decided to alter the Pucci top that didn’t work from a few weeks back.  First, I put buttons down the back (simple purple shirt buttons).  Second I took in the sides:  I added a “curve” to the straight box cut by taking it in 1/4 inch (1/2 inch total each side) on the side, tapering to the hem and up to the bust dart.  Third, I added fish eye darts to the back (total of 2 inches removed at narrowest part of back) and front (one inch total).  Yes, I removed 4 inches from the waist to provide a semi-fitted silhouette as opposed to a straight one.

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BEFORE
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AFTER

I like it much better, but the second problem is not fixable.  I really think the print overwhelms my frame.  No matter, I will wear this running errands.

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The pants are Vogue 1550.  No changes from the black pair I made some months back.  IN fact, I started these the week of my dad’s funeral back in April and they were the first things I completed when I started sewing again.

The fabric is a cross-dyed linen from Marcy Tilton that I bought last year.  The threads are black and hot pink, which combine to give a purplish appearance.  It’s quite lovely.  This linen is more wiry than the black, so it’s not as appropriate for this pattern in terms of drape, but it’s manageable.  It was a bit shifty though, and the grain is slightly off.

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Grumbling about photo quality, yet I’ll not do anything about it…

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Comfy Summer Dress: Vogue 8645 (OOP)

It’s hot and humid in Florida in the summer.  But I’m headed to NYC for a few days, where the canyons can be just as miserable.  What do I need? – a simple, pack-able dress.  I bought the fabric with a long maxi in mind (before the trip was planned), but decided the pattern wasn’t right. I asked the fasters on the RTW fast FB page about a few options, but in the end, decided against a maxi.  Enter Very Easy Vogue 8645 (c 2010)IMG_0007.

This is a loose-fitting pullover dress, and without the sash and shoulder ties, strongly resembles some of the dresses on the Zulilly ads I see on my FB feed.  The dress is comfy (has pockets),  and I expect to make another, but with some modifications.  I was too lazy to try to do selfies, so the pictures don’t really show how cute the dress is.  The v-neck is relatively modest, compared to some v-necks from Vogue.  The ties hold the fabric tighter against the skin, so the likelihood of a wardrobe malfunction is reduced.

The fabric:  a sold out viscose challis from Marcy Tilton.  I love the colors in it, but I’ve never worked with this type of fabric.  It’s very soft, and very drapey.  I will consider buying another viscose challis (especially for this pattern) now that I have a better feel for the fabric.  I decided that a maxi in this floral could over whelm me, so I went with the shorter version of the dress.

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I lined it with a cotton/poly batiste I bought from Susan Khalje.  It’s softer and drapier than cotton batiste, but in the end, I still think it’s a bit too heavy and crisp for the viscose.  I will go with a silk CDC or forgo lining it next time.  If I skip the lining, I will use narrow facings for the neck and armholes.

By  the way, the pattern recommends some crisper fabrics – batiste and handkerchief linen – but you’ll get a far different look.

Changes I made: I didn’t make many changes. Of the three that I did, two I will keep, the other go back to the original plan.  I like that I did a narrow machine hem for both the lining and the dress – it’s a cleaner finish in the viscose.  Second, I did not top-stitch the neck and armholes – I didn’t think it would work with the viscose.  I decided to hand apply the lining to the dress, because I  don’t always get a good result in the approach recommended in the directions (sew at arm holes and neck, pull  through shoulders, then finish shoulders).  I used the couture method from Susan  Khalje which I have used successfully before.  I don’t like the result as much this time (and doesn’t seem to be worth the effort, given the shoulders are hidden by the tie on straps).

A new dress (front on left, back on right).

 

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Black & White (McCall 7600 & Vogue 1247)

Leftover fabric, a new pattern, an old pattern, and keeping it simple:  I love the outcome.

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The top:

The pattern for the top is Nancy Zieman’s  color block top (M 7600).  It’s really super easy and the directions have little tips for sewing knits. When I first bought the pattern, I didn’t realize it was for knits, but I think you could easily adapt this pattern for woven fabric too.

I made view A.  I originally cut a size 14, given how everything else was fitting lately, but when I basted the top portion together for a test run, it was way too big, so I cut the entire top back down to a 12.

I used the same black rayon doubleknit from Gorgeous Fabrics as the dress I just made, plus some of the off-white she had in rayon doubleknit.  The remainder of the black and white are reserved for a color block dress for the fall.  This fabric is luscious: it has body and drape and feels good on the skin.  I’m not fond of working with knits – the stretchiness and rolling are annoying.  Double knits are more stable though, so I tend to choose them over jersey (and if I buy jersey, it tends to sit in the closet).

There isn’t much to the construction of the top – though I made some changes.  First, I left off the embellishments.  Second, as described, the armholes and neckline are bound.  I didn’t do that.  The rayon is heavy and I felt the binding would distract/detract.  So, I interfaced the edges, serged them (trimming 1/4 inch), folded over 3/8 inch, pressed carefully and slowly topstitched. I did the same with the hems.

The final change I made was to pick out the top stitching under the arms (it’s actually forward on the top, toward the center seam by about 3 inches, as you can see in the picture. I had my doubts when I was doing this finally step.  Sure enough, when I put it on, the drape was compromised.  I was worried about wardrobe malfunction, but it doesn’t seem to be a problem (though it might be on a larger-breasted individual).

In the end, I find the top cool, sophisticated, and flattering (despite the lack of shape). I’ve worn it a few times already.

The skirt:

The skirt is one I’ve made four times now – the ever popular Rachel Comey (Vogue 1247). Funny, I never blogged the other three skirts.  I used the last of the black cotton sateen (with stretch) from the old Gorgeous Fabrics that I used for the not-great Pucci pant.  Of course, sateen reflects light, whereas the black rayon absorbs it, so the two blacks really don’t go together… but I’m okay with it … for now.  And this makes black skirt number 6 in my wardrobe.   A staple!  – different styles, fabrics… and two are near retirement.

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I did this quickly – it’s an easy skirt – making a few changes from the original.  First, I used the serger to finish my seam/hem edges, rather than binding them.  I’ve done both, and I’m indifferent on this skirt, with this fabric, so I went simpler.  Second, I’ve eliminated the pockets.  For some reason, they poof out weirdly on my, so only one version of this skirt ever had pockets.  And finally, I added six inches to the length.  This skirt is only 15 inches in length in its original form, and I wanted to be able to wear this to work, too.

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Impossible to photograph black.

One other note: I cut this out starting at a 12, adding 1/4 inch to each side (total one inch to the circumference).  Since the difference between a 12 and 14 is about 3/8″, I originally sewed 1/2 inch seam allowances (total 1.5 inch circumference).  The skirt was too loose, so I went back to the regular seam allowances.  I think the difference (and what I failed to take into account with the Pucci pant) is that the fabric has some stretch.

Yes, more wardrobe staples, and black/white can get boring, but I’m working on things I can wear for a trip to NYC later this summer.  I don’t want to pack a lot, but I want to look chic.  I can add bits of color here and there to change things up.

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Basic, but oh so wardrobe friendly (McCall 7121)

Today, I would have arrived in Ukraine for a few days.  I’m a child of the cold war, coming of age in “West Germany,” graduating from an American military high school in West Germany the same year Chernobyl melted down.  I grew up with Realpolitik and understanding NATO and the Warsaw Pact far better than the US governmental system.  In college, I studied all things Soviet and Russian (and Ukrainian) – politics, language, culture, literature, history, geography.  Even though that world fell shortly after my college graduation, East of the Iron Curtain still fascinates me.  I was excited about Kyiv.  Unfortunately, we had to cancel at the last minute.

This is one of the dresses I made for the trip.  Simple – easy to accessorize with jewelry, hats, jackets/sweaters, scarves.   Modest, because visiting Ukrainian churches requires women to cover knees, shoulders and heads (men have restrictions too).  I like it, and it makes me feel better about my figure (yes, I still have a waistline).  I have some adjustments to do on the fit, but this will be a versatile piece in my wardrobe.

Sometimes, we focus on the fun and funky to blog and forget the everyday.  Well, here’s to the everyday.

From McCall’s website, M7121, view C.

The pattern:  McCall 7121.  This is a basic a-line dress, in three lengths, with options for color blocking or placing stripes on the bias.  Most of the reviews I saw were of the maxi-length, with the bias stripes.  That’s why I originally bought the pattern, but never made it.  I made view C, the just below the knee length, but changed the back. I made a 14, adding two inches to the length at the waist.  After wearing it, I think the shoulders through bust point should be a 12, and I should only have added 1.5 inches (I didn’t account for the slight blousing from the elastic).

The fabric:  a black rayon blend doubleknit from the new Gorgeous Fabrics.  Ann’s out of the black, but she does have it in other colorways.

What I did differently:

  1. I didn’t add the elastic, since I intend to wear this with a belt.  But the rayon is heavy enough that it needs the support of the elastic if you don’t belt it.
  2. The neckline, armholes and hem are the typical narrow hem: fold and press 5/8, open, then fold to the pressed line, top stitch.  This would be bulky in the doubleknit.  I used the lightest interfacing I had (Fashion Sewing Supply, Couture weight) to add 5/8″ strips to all of these edges.  I then serged these edges, trimming off 1/4 inch.  Then, I pressed under 3/8″, and top-stitched.  Cleaner, smoother, less bulk.
  3. I changed the back.  I didn’t want racer back, and I didn’t want a v-back either.  So I meshed together the pattern pieces for view A and view C to fill in the v-neck.

Final thoughts: I like this, but need to continue working to get the best fit.  When I sat in the car, the dress slumped in the front.  I didn’t do it so much at the restaurant (my posture is far better at a table than in a car, obviously).  But I still need to take the shoulders up a bit.  It’s also slightly big in the armhole above the bustline (in front and back).  I’ll make this again, perhaps in a fun print and shorter length, if I find the right fabric.  (Oh, and those front and back center seams – they aren’t straight or on the grainline, so cheating by using the fold line won’t save you time.  They add shape.)

 

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Vogue Couturier 1394: Pucci Pant and Top

Sometimes I have a grand vision of an outfit and how I will look once I’m finished putting it together.  Then reality hits.  I’ve wanted to make the Pucci pant and top (Vogue 1394) for some time, delayed only by looking for the perfect fabric.  I made it last week, but my conclusions on seeing it on me:  it does nothing for my figure (which peri-menopause keeps changing).

But it’s not a complete loss, for I did enjoy making it and learned a few new lessons.  You would have thought that making a muslin would be enough, but not in this case.  I didn’t  get the real sense of it until I finished.  This outfit works for those who are slender and tall, which I used to be.  My waistline/weight has been a problem in recent months (despite diet and exercise) and this top didn’t help.

The top/over blouse:  nothing complicated here.  However, despite the slightly curved line drawing, the side seams are perfectly straight and there is no shaping in the top.  Add in that I needed to grade out from a 14 (old sizing, it would be a 12 today) to at least a size larger to accommodate the hips, and you’ve got a triangle shape.

The fabric is a linen/cotton blend remnant I picked up from Emma One Sock.  Though Linda doesn’t identify the Italian designer, Marcy Tilton had the exact same design, but on a cotton, from Ratti. It’s a loose weave, and frays, but quite lovely otherwise and easy to work with.

The directions are quite good, though a bit different in terms of order from current instructions.  This plays out in the facing, and constructing the “shoulder” seam.  There is no shoulder seam, rather the back piece (cut in one) comes over and is stitched to the front to form the square neckline. I took my time with it to ensure a professional and perfect match.  It’s the first time I’ve been able to do this type of join cleanly.

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Four things done differently:  I under stitched the facings, by hand (not requested).  Since I could not get a perfect blind-hem with this fabric, I top-stitched the lower hem. I also used french seams for the side seams. And, despite repeated attempts, I could not get my machine to produce a decent button hole.  Every time I’d do step 3 (go in reverse to stitch the right hand side of the button hole), the machine seamed to protest going in reverse and stitch a big knot.  Since the button holes would show on this fabric, I sewed snaps instead.  After the first wearing, I’ve decided to sew buttons for a decorative element, but also to keep the facings from pulling away as I move.

The “slim pants”:  I needed to grade up a size, so I did.  I traced off the pattern, cut, spread, and added the equivalent of a size, using some books I had about maintaining the proportion.  The first muslin revealed a crotch smile and a side seams curving at the waist line pointing to the belly button. Oh, and they were still too tight. I was sad that night, as I began to get realistic about my changing body.

The next day, I made the fitting adjustments suggested by Pants for Real People.  I added a quarter inch to the sides, straightened out the center front (from notch up), and added a smidgen to the inner leg seams, tapering to the notches.  Felt good to go, so I cut them out.

These pants aren’t difficult, of course: faced waistline and hems, side lapped zip.  The novelty here is the tab (and I managed a decent button hole).  In no time I had the pants sewn together, all but facings, tab and zip. I pulled them on and they looked and felt fantastic (side zip not in, but opening pinned shut).

I completed the pant and … the waist is still a smidge tight, and I have too much fabric everywhere else, especially between my protruding belly and the crotch line.  They aren’t comfortable to wear for long periods of time.  I’m trying to decide if I can make adjustments on the final pant, but not sure where to start.

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Not a fantastic photo, but I took it looking down at my feet, pinching out the excess fabric from between the belly and the crotch line.

The black cotton sateen is medium weight with a bit of stretch.  I purchased it from Gorgeous Fabrics in 2016. I have one yard left – a skirt or shorts?

If I can figure out the fit and/or slenderize me, the pants do have potential.  However, next time I will consider facing the hems and waist with a lighter weight fabric to reduce bulk. I would also consider a different way to apply the zipper, facing and tab.  I prefer my zipper tops to be sandwiched between the fabric and the facing, but here, the zipper is applied after the facing is completed.  Because of the bulk, I finished the lapped zipper by hand using a pick stitch.  It didn’t look great top stitched on, especially since I could not keep the line nice and straight (again, bulk).  The only other thing I did differently was under stitch the waist band seam.

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In with the new… The Portside Travel Set

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Somewhere along the line, I developed an aversion to checking my luggage when I fly.  This was after 9-11, but before all the tacked-on fees.  I just hate waiting forever at the luggage carousel at the end of a trip. I ditched my nice luggage in favor of a Nike gym bag.  That gym bag is sturdy and has traveled to three continents over 20 years. It is still serviceable if unattractive.  An upcoming vacation pushed me to upgrade. The Portside Travel Set had been on my to do list since seeing Lladybird’s version and Rhonda Buss’s Sew-Along for Sew News.

Grainline Studio’s Portside Travel Set has been around a while, so I won’t go into too many details on construction.  It comes as a paper or a pdf pattern.

Fabric: A sturdy fabric is necessary, unless you want your unmentionables on the jetway.  I finally settled on three fabrics.  The black cotton canvas duck and the Hudson 43 postscript cotton blend home decor fabric are from JoAnns.  I originally purchased solar outdoor fabric in black – but you can’t press it without melting it, so I went with the duck. I lined all three pieces with some cream cotton broadcloth in my stash from Gorgeous Fabrics.

Notions:  This is where you’ll spend your money.  I used a denim needle, size 18, plus heavy duty thread from Coats and Clark (and a longer stitch).  The metal zippers and nylon webbing came from JoAnn, while the D-rings and swivel hooks are from Pacific Trimming.  I used a lightweight interfacing (pro-sheer elegance medium) from Fashion Sewing Supply.  I chose a light webbing for the strap from JoAnns after ordering a very heavy one from Pacific Trimming.  I wouldn’t be able to sew the heavy one with my machine, but the one from JoAnn is too light.  If I can find a better webbing, I’ll replace the shoulder strap.

What I did differently and cautions:  I didn’t do that many things differently.  I mostly followed the Sew Along and adopted the changes there.  I did underline the pouch, so it would be lined like the dopp and duffel. I also edge stitched everywhere – to add extra strength to the seam lines, though my edge stitching leaves much to be desired.   I did as Rhonda did in the Sew Along – I fused the interfacing to my lining pieces rather than my shell fabric.  The shell fabric was rather firm, so I wanted to give the lining some body to hold up.

Cautions:  when choosing fabric, keep in mind thickness.  This is important so that you can machine-stitch through the layers (think jeans).  It’s also important for turn of the cloth.  The directions (which are very good) clearly note the zipper openings should be 1/2 inch wide. If you don’t pay attention, you won’t get things to line up properly. (Also remember to use 1/2 inch seams.)

Looking forward to traveling with my new stylish bag.  It’s bigger than my old one, but should still fit in the overhead.  BTW, the front pocket won’t hold an iPad – at least not a newer generation.


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Repeat: Paco Peralta’s 8-gore skirt

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I love the fit and flattery of the ivory wool skirt that I made last January from Paco Peralta’s 8 gore-skirt pattern so much, I made another one in linen.  This skirt is so easy, and I always receive so many compliments.  I wore this version yesterday to a ladies’ luncheon and it was a hit.  I took the selfies after the luncheon, so please excuse my wrinkled self.

The fabric is from Marcy Tilton – the dogwood linen.  This a beautiful and easy to work with fabric.  I lined it with white cotton batiste.  The only difference from the previous version is that I moved the zip to the left side, and used a hand-applied lapped zipper.

The very wrinkled top is Vogue 9187, blogged here.

PS: Marcy Tilton is having a sale, that ends tomorrow night (5/11/2018), and of this moment, this fabric is still available!

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Just realized I took this in front of the dogwood.
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Dogwood linen, in front of the dogwood tree.

Life sometimes takes a difficult turn.

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I haven’t posted in some time, but I wanted to say that I’m okay, or I will be.  In the last few months I’ve buried my father and institutionalized my mother.  It was unexpected.  It started with a phone call last January from my sister – who never calls – to say they had been in a car accident, but were okay.  But they weren’t.  The trauma pushed my (unharmed) mother into late-stage Alzheimer’s.  My dad cracked his sternum, but was okay and recovering.

But then, March 4, my dad called to say he wasn’t doing so well, and was headed back to the ER.  I flew up to visit, pay bills for him, clean house etc. While he seemed well, I froze.  Everything stopped.  My dad seemed so fragile.  My mom was so happy in her new situation – chatting away about all the old days (I got lucky and saw her on good days).  She talked about her husband, and how proud she was of her children (even though she didn’t know who I was).  But I froze.  Every day – phone calls.  Then my dad got better, though he still hadn’t gone home.  Then last month, he contracted pneumonia in the nursing facility, and died three days later.  None of us expected it.

I told my sister-in-law, who lost her father nineteen years ago,  that I finally understood her pain.  I told my students that you cannot understand and that no one prepares you for the loss of a parent.

It’s been almost a month now, and I’m not nearly as frozen anymore.  I’m partaking in things I enjoy again for the first time since my dad called March 4.  I’m still writing letters to my parent’s friends, and that helps work through the grief.

My mom was the artistic one, the one who taught me to sew.  My dad was the introvert, and he was the parent I was closest too, the parent I am most like.  He was the one I called and emailed.  He encouraged me to learn, study hard and pursue my degree.  He is with me always.  I’m reminded of him everywhere.

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Another Mandy Boat Tee

The Mandy Boat Tee is a free sewing pattern from Tessuti Fabrics in Australia.  It’s the first pattern I made with my serger, and I reach for that top regularly.  I needed a top with sleeves to go north next week, so I made this in the red rayon doubleknit leftover from a failed Butterick top last fall. The fabric has body, so works well with this top.

This is very easy, doable in an evening. I made no changes from the previous top, though next time I think I’ll lengthen it a couple of inches.IMG_0005

A wee blurry, and after being worn.

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