Learning to (sew a) fly. Guy LaRoche pants (V2578).

Wow.  Where did January go?  I was so busy at work this month, I was too exhausted to do much more than read a book before bed.  I started these pants at the beginning of the month, but only just finished them.  Meantime, the passage of time included me taking up running again, which is making sewing (fitting) a little more challenging as my body starts re-shaping itself.

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The pattern is from 2001: a lovely Guy LaRoche pant and jacket.  I had considered making the skirt in stead of trousers, but decided to push my self to learn new skills and work on fitting.  I’m planning on making the suit with a lovely dark brown tropical wool and the jacket multi-toned tan wool.  Description for the trouser:  “Semi-fitted, straight-legged pants have contour waistband and fly zipper closing.”

But since I have limited experience with a fly closure, practice was in order first.  And, as I’ll write below, I’m not sure if it’s my limited experience or the directions, but I did a fair amount of ripping out.

I first practiced the fly with the muslin (though not the waistband, which would have highlighted an error in the instructions).  The muslin revealed (to me at least) horizontal wrinkles, so I graded out to I think a 16 (or between 14 and 16).  The pant is narrow, but my thighs are wide.  I was also going to need length, so I added an inch.  I did not encounter issues with the fly.

Three weeks later, I found time to do the fly again.  And again.  I was proud of my first attempt:

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I’ve pinned out the pleat.

Until I realized that I put in the right fly backward.  I also couldn’t figure out how I got a pleat at the bottom part of the zipper.  I followed the directions, but I think it has something to do with the second step in the middle of the photo – you’re to fold over and press, tapering to nothing.  I can’t see that in the picture, and I clearly didn’t do it right.

 

Rip out, redo.  Looks great.  I proceeded with adding the waistband to realize that the left fly is mis-marked for zipper placement.  I painstakingly marked the fabric, and it’s about 1/2 inch too close to the fold. You can see in the directions below that the fold should line up with the top stitching on the right.  And, when I attached the waistband, I had an extra half inch.  I trimmed it, at this point, because it was too late to do anything else.  However, it did make it difficult to put the button hole in neatly, because there wasn’t enough space…

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My left fly doesn’t line up with the right fly top-stitching as it does in the sketch below, and I ended up with extra waistband and a funky button hole.

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Does anyone know how to prevent the funky turn at the corners you see in the picture below?  I was super careful cutting, stitching and turning, and yet the corners are distorted.  Enough that I will likely wear these trousers only with tops un-tucked.  It’s like I pulled too much and stretched the fabric out of shape.

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Oh, speaking of the fabric:  a tropical wool with stretch, cross-woven black and white to produce a lovely blue grey (from Rag & Bone).  I purchased it as roll end from Emma One Sock last fall.

Other random thoughts:  I intend to wear these with a kitten heel, as they are too short otherwise (even after adding an inch).  I’ll add length to the next pair, to help elongate the legs.  These were lined, btw, but I left out the lining.   I will start the jacket for the suit before the brown pants.  I want to re-muslin giving all the running I’d doing.

And, with that, it’s time for a run.

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Vintage Ralph Lauren tank in silk (V1724)

For most, summer is almost over.  Here, in North Florida, our version of fall will come soon too: its crowning distinction isn’t cooler temperatures, but drier air and no thunderstorms!  (77 days this summer with severe thunderstorms).  That means I can still sew summer-like items.  Unfortunately, this tank failed for me.  Of course, if I had toiled it, I could have made adjustments to prevent the problem.

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Vogue 1724:  I should have taken note of the under arm gap in the photo.

But first, the details:

The pattern:  Vogue American Designer pattern 1724, Ralph Lauren tops c1986. I made view A, the tank, buttoning at the top shoulder.  Absolutely nothing complicated about this one.

The fabric:  a devine 3 ply silk crepe from Gorgeous Fabrics.

Construction notes: nothing of note, really, as this is a simple top.  I did change the button top (I couldn’t find two teeny 1/4in buttons) to snaps, and added a button for decoration.  I used french seams on the side seams, and finished the facing edges with the serger.

The problem? The armsyce is shaped funny and gaps. In the pattern, at the point of the gapping, there are instructions to ease fashion fabric to the facing – but they fit together without the need to ease.  I blithely sewed til completion and was met with disappointment.  I don’t know how to save this at this point, as the armsyce is already rather revealing. The seam has been sewn, understitched, and clipped. I have no scraps left either (though I do have some in off white).  I attempted to snug it up with some narrow clear elastic, but you can see from the photos that it only introduced more problems.

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Here’s what happened when I tried to add narrow clear elastic to tighten it up.

 

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The other side, sans elastic.

What to do?  For the moment, Ralph hangs on the dress form.  I’ve begun a serious weight loss/exercise program, and usually lose in the bust first.  I’d like to see how it hangs after that (at a size 12, it was just a bit too close and pulls some, and the gapping tends to occur above the bust point).

Yes, I’m disappointed.  I had hoped to wear this to work yesterday with a new pair of those fantastic Paco Peralto pants I keep making – this time in a pale pink linen.

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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The Azalea Skirt (Anne Klein II, V2778, OOP)

Spring is here.  How do I know?  The itchy scratchy throat and eyes.  Yes, the pollen. Enough of that…

The azaleas are BLOOMING!

Friday afternoon, I decided that I wanted something bright and cheerful to wear on Monday (today).  I hunted down the hot pink floral fabric that I purchased from Emma One Sock in 2015, that was always destined to be this vintage pencil skirt.  I just finally got around to making it and wore it to work today.  When I started working with the fabric, I realized the color matched the azaleas in my yard, and the flowers were very similar.

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The pattern… I remember buying this pattern in 1991!  I even bought the fabric for the skirt, body suit, and jacket.   Talk about UFOs… I never made the jacket or the bodysuit, and I’m not sure what became of the fabric.  I did make the skirt in a rust wool with a royal blue rayon lining.

Here’s the funny part.  In my relative newness to sewing in 1991, I started the skirt.  The directions are for an underlining… not a lined skirt.  I didn’t know the difference then, but was really disappointed that, after constructing the seams, I had raw edges to deal with – not RTW at all!  I remember thinking – “the instructions are wrong”.  I was disappointed and set it aside.  Life flew by and I found it and the pattern after a move a couple of years ago. I could no longer fit in that version, but I have made the skirt twice since, well three times now.  I also know the difference between underlining and lining, and generally prefer the underlining now.

I still have the other two skirts – one is a straight size 12 in a black wool broadcloth, underlined in black silk CDC.  It’s a little short, and is too small now, but I really love it!  The other is a vintage floral bouquet, size 14, lined in cream silk CDC, blogged here.

This one was quick and easy.  I knew I didn’t want it lower than the knee in this fabric, but the designed version was too short.  Because this skirt is tapered to the knee (or thigh), I lengthened the skirt at the lengthen/shorten lines by two inches.  It’s just above the knee.  I also graded it out at a size 14.

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The fabric is a slotted weave in cotton from Emma One Sock. It has a fair amount of body, and a quilted feel to it.  BUT, you can see through the slots.  So, I underlined the entire skirt (as per the instructions) with white cotton batiste.  I considered a matching pink.  I had some leftover from a previous project, but not quite enough and didn’t want to be bothered with dye.

In terms of construction – I serged my raw edges instead of using Hong Kong finishes (which I had done in my previous versions.)  I added a bar tack above the back slit, inside, to help prevent mishaps.  And, I inserted the invisible zipper.   On this skirt, and the 8 gore skirt though, my zippers aren’t invisible.  I don’t know what I’m doing different, but the top hardware is not hidden.  Suggestions anyone?  I don’t think I’m doing anything different, but I must be.

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My son took the picture this morning.  He’s six!  And it was grey and raining, so none in front of the azaleas.  The blouse is Kate Spade, purchased last fall.  It would be an easy make – and is trimmed with rick-rack.

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Double Knit Comfort in Vintage Style (Vogue 9187)

I have some things I want to finish, and a few new, more complex projects on the way.  But first, a quick comfortable, yet stylish top.  Vogue 9187 is a re-release of a 1960 close-fitting top.  I think I have a version of the original pattern from my grandmother (it has buttons up the back).

img_3195I first did the muslin on this sometime last year, with handkerchief linen in mind.  This top is too close-fitting for linen.  I had some of the rayon/spandex double knit left over from making my niece a dress, so I thought I would adapt the pattern for a stable knit.

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I made view D, in a size 12.  There is very little ease here (great for a knit).  I eliminated the back zipper (placing the seam line on the fold).  I lengthened the torso 2 inches; this one barely came to my belly button, so that was necessary.  It’s still a bit short, but since it’s designed to be worn untucked, it’s okay.  For a bit more wearing ease, I sewed 3/8 inch side seams.  This led to some gaping under the arms.  To fix this, I tapered to 5/8th seams under the arm, starting about two inches down.

 

If I had given it any thought, I would have changed how to do the facings for the neck and arm holes.   With no back zipper, you can’t simply pull through, as instructed.  So, I stitched the neckline, under-stitched, and pressed.  Then I use the techniques from inserting a lining from Susan Khalje’s Couture Dress class to hand sew the facings in for the arm holes.  Took longer, worked just fine.

I love this top.  I will probably try the true vintage one I have first though before doing this pattern soon (I have a duppioni in mind and the buttons down the back would be pretty).

And, yes, I know, I have to get some pictures of these things with me in them.  Just haven’t wanted to photograph myself lately.

When to set aside a project?

In this case, when I can’t muster the enthusiasm to work on it and keep thinking of the next project.  I’m afraid that I will be sloppy as a result.

I’ve been working on the top to Vogue 1213, in a beautiful, easy to work with 3 ply silk crepe.  I love the blouse and I will finish it – in fact I don’t have far to go and I’m not putting it completely away.

You see, when I started this project, work was calm.  Then it became a storm – a hurricane.  I think I may have found one hour in an entire month to sew.  And now that things have calmed a bit, I’m not interested in working on it.  Part of the problem is that my brain has moved on to the next project.  And part is that the formal part of my job has ended for a few months (I’ll be working from home) and I don’t need a silk blouse right now.  I need summer dresses.

So here it is, and I do plan to finish it:

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Why do you put something aside?

 

Updated Vintage: Vogue 1213, part 1

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So I fell in love with an embroidered linen, on line.  Bought it, and then had to consider how to use it.  I knew I wanted a skirt, but I needed a pattern with simple lines.  I had had my eye on the top for Vogue 1213 (Lanvin-Castillo) for some time (the jacket too).  I thought I could make a work and heat friendly version of the the skirt and blouse.  One day I will make the jacket, not for a suit, but for jeans.

Lo and behold, I went to make this, and was missing the directions.  I made an appeal and Kate of Fabrikated emailed me photos of the directions from London.  I love our sewing community!  Thanks Kate!

This is an easy, easy skirt: front, back, pocket, waistband.  I didn’t really need the directions for the skirt.  But it was nice to know that I had planned to do the pocket the same way.  You see, the pocket is hidden in that front pleat!!

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The pockets were cut in batiste. I’m basting the pocket to the fashion fabric, right sides together.  The center line with pins is the cutting line.

I still had to do a muslin, as the pattern I had was for someone teeny tiny.  I needed to add 4 inches of girth.  I ended up adding most of it to the side seams, but did shift the center back and center front off the fabric fold by 1/2 inch (one each each total) to shift the darts and pleats to the right place.

I was also watching Susan Khalje’s Couture dress on Craftsy and decided to try out a few things:  the way she cuts out the fabric and uses stitching lines – not cutting lines, how she marks the backing fabric/underlining, and her hand stitched lapped zipper.

 

So the details:

Pattern Description: Vogue Paris Original 1213 by Lanvin-Castillo. “Slim skirt has side front pockets.”

Fabric:  Embroidered linen (white on black) from Farmhouse Fabrics.  Underlining (and pockets) Japanese cotton batiste from Emma One Sock that’s been stashed for some time.

Pattern Sizing:  Size 12, but the old Vogue 12, with a bust of 32 and hip of 34.  I wish.  See above.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?  Yes, but the linen isn’t as drapey, and mine is shorter on me. I’m still not sure I like the length, but I’ve got some room to play – and when I do the blouse I’ll post a photo of me in the outfit for comments about the length (hits me mid/lower knee).

Instructions? Great – though I only half used them. I’ll really need them for the blouse.  I love the old school directions.

 

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The hidden pocket

What do you like or dislike about the pattern?  Clean lines, simple. The pocket hidden in the pleat is really cool – it’s not really on the side, but further in on the hip.  They aren’t that deep/big though, so don’t expect to stick your heavy keys or smart phone in there.  I also liked that this skirt is underlined, rather than lined.  I’ve come to prefer this treatment.  It gives the fashion fabric a little something extra, and with linen, reduces wrinkling. I forgot to add in the original post:  when I traced the stitching lines onto the muslin, I noticed the darts were ever so slightly curved – not straight angles.  It made for a much nicer dart, skimming over the curve of the body.

 

Pattern alterations or design changes?  I changed the sizing.  I hand inserted a lapped zipper.  I did serge the seam edges and didn’t give myself enough to do a proper lapped zipper, so I had to insert/baste in some grosgrain, which solved the problem, and stabilized the hip curve.  I also sewed the waist band on according to her out-of-print

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The lapped zipper, with grosgrain added to widen the seam allowance.

book.  There you staystitch the waist, baste grosgrain in place, sew the waistband on, fold it over the grosgrain and finish as desired. The inside of the waist band (facing) is serged, and I sewed it in place by stitching in the ditch.  I finished my edges with the serger instead of hand overcasting.

 

 

Would you sew again? Recommend?  Sure.  I haven’t made a skirt with an actual waistband in a while, so let’s see how I like that in the Florida heat.

Conclusions:  A simple skirt, with a fun pocket that allowed me to work on fundamentals in couture.  While I didn’t apply everything I’m learning from couture classes/books, I think what I did do helped considerably:  from the muslin to the backing to hand placing the zipper.  I feel I improved my skills and I’m happy with the final product.  Surprisingly, I found all that basting quite meditative.  The end process is a skirt that I really love that I feel I did a great job on.  Even though it took longer than normal for me to make, I enjoyed every step of it, which is nice.

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Pictures don’t do it justice.  It doesn’t fit the dress form; on me, the waist sits flat and does not flare out.  A new dress form?  Or just time to go outside for pictures? Or find someone to take pictures?