Sunday, January 30, 2011

The fur is flying

Remember my fur coat?  (Just ignore the actual subject of that earlier post and scroll right to the bottom.  The Sewing Lawyer will get back to that partially-constructed leather jacket a bit later when spring is in the air.)  "Furla" as the coat is known around here (obviously not the Italian high fashion leather products company), is partly deconstructed.  It's going to be the very luxurious inside to a weather-proof outside, using Vogue 1083.  The muslin-modification is in progress, and The Sewing Lawyer is gathering the inner strength needed to tackle fur coat sewing.  Removing the pocket bags and invisibly closing the openings in the coat fronts went very well, suggesting the project might actually be feasible.

Here are some in-progress photos.  First, introducing Furla.  

Here you can see the original smock-like cut of this coat.  I've removed the original line-backer shoulder pads.  The front and back are actually gathered onto the yoke.  The sleeves extend from the yoke, and are pleated at the cap for extra fullness, and pleated/gathered into fur cuffs.  The armscye is extremely deep (hits me at about waist level).  The back-neck length of the coat is a full 50" (127cm).  It hits me only a few inches above my ankles.  And it's very large - the original owner was clearly tall and a big lady!  This coat must have cost a fortune when new, there is SO much mink in it.

Now, introducing my first muslin of the pattern.  Here are some pictures from the Vogue site to show you what it's supposed to look like.
I see I managed to accomplish the look of stunned concentration that seems to go with the task of taking-a-picture-of-myself-in-a-mirror.

These photos show a couple of problems with the pattern.  It's too voluminous in a thin fabric.  I'm going to be using a thin fabric.
It won't fall beautifully like a wool coating, which is what this pattern is designed for - check out this photo (also from the Vogue site, and yes, the length shown here is more accurate than the line drawings - the back length of the coat pattern is 45" or 115cm).

I also found that the dropped shoulder sewn according to the pattern is not sufficiently dropped to get the graceful look on the pattern envelope - far from it, it stuck out most unattractively.  In the above photo, I have pinned a curved dart starting at the curve of my shoulder which will pinch out 3cm in total from the armscye at the shoulder.  There is also (surprisingly, since the cap is very flat) quite a lot of ease in the sleeve which contributed to the unattractive stick-outy look.  I'm going to have to take out a lot of width at the sleeve cap, but I don't want to lose the height since the angle of the sleeve is good.

So where am I going to remove volume?  First, from the lower front at the CB - I may take out about 20cm at the hem.  Second, in the front, I'm taking a vertical tuck of about 3cm in width to the outside of the bust dart, tapering to nothing at about the shoulder point.  I've pinned it out in the above photo.

The other adjustments to the pattern I'll have to make are dictated by Furla's neckline.  It is about 1.5 cm lower at the back and wider at the shoulder than the Vogue pattern.  I want the necklines to more or less match.

As for Furla, my plan is to leave as much of it as I can intact.  I'll let the yoke of the outer coat skim over Furla's gathers, for example. I have removed the upper collar for future purposes.  The under collar will line the Vogue shawl collar which I will wear standing for extra coziness.  I have to take the back yoke and collar in at CB by approximately 3cm because it's far too big in that area.  I am taking off the fur cuffs, which I will save, maybe for some leather mittens since they are quite small.  I will definitely have to remove width from the sleeve below the arm, and take the coat in at the sides, below the sleeves.  Hopefully this will have the effect of raising Furla's armscye enough to match the Vogue pattern, which is also pretty low in that area.  I will also have to shorten it.  My current plan is to simply attach the fur to the edges of the coat at CF and around the collar, which will let the fur peek out only slightly.

I'm taking this a little bit slowly since I have to think it through in terms of construction and inner materials as I go.  I expect to use lambs wool to pad the entire coat yoke, and I think I'll use fusible interfacing to stiffen the collar and front edges enough to support the fur.  Closures remain to be decided but I have some big buttons in stash.  Maybe round elastic button loops?  Should the cuffs be fur or fabric?  Any thoughts on any of this?

Wish me luck!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Ready for spring?

Early cycling season might just be a lot more fashionable chez The Sewing Lawyer, now that my new bike jacket is all sewn up and ready to go.  Now, if only it wasn't -25C outside (-30-something with the wind chill)....

This little number is made with a pattern which for some reason I think was the house brand of the late-lamented Textile Outfitters store in Calgary.  It's Storm Mountain Designs "Golden Triangle Cycling Jacket".  I can't find any sign of its origins in the packaging or on the internet.  My copy is an antique - imagine, the multi-size pattern looks suspiciously like an actual blue print.  Does anyone use that technology any more?

Anyhow, here it is - pretty blue goretex purchased last year from Ressy's Coop, lined with some sort of athletic mesh in white (from stash) and embellished in a practical sort of way with retro-reflective piping (Montreal, St. Hubert Street) and nylon ripstop printed all over with a retro-reflective pattern (stash).  I used the retro-reflective fabric at the collar, back yoke and lower band.

I split the front to create a yoke seam where I could insert piping, and did the same on the sleeves.  The piping starts at the back yoke, and runs diagonally across the sleeve so you can see it in the front.  To the right, the back, in pretend biking position.  The lower back curves down so that when I'm really on the bike, there is no risk of gaposis; the hem should be more or less horizontal in that position.
In the photo to the left, you can see how the upper back yoke is only attached at the CB.  Even though goretex is more breathable than many waterproof fabrics, I expect it to be pretty steamy on occasion and this will help.  If you click on the photo to the right, you can sort of see how the retro-reflective stuff performs.  Naturally it's even more startling in the complete dark, but that's pretty hard to photograph!

For even more ventilation, I added pit zips (these are zippers with 2 pulls that operate from the middle).  I added a plastic pull on a cord to make it easier to grab the pull when moving.  There's another on the front zipper.

Again, thinking about air flow and being too hot, I made the sleeve cuffs adjustable using a velcro-ed tab.  To my astonishment, I found coordinating blue velcro in the stash.

The pattern calls for a lot of fancy pockets, but I only used the lower front ones that open at the side seam.  I'm strictly a practical biker (i.e. I commute to work in the 8 or so months a year when there's no snow) so I have no need for stashing energy bars or whatever the high-test cyclists put in those pockets found at the lower back of almost every cycling jersey or jacket sold around here.

I'll enter this in the PR activewear contest currently running.  Vote for me!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Pattern question - a diversion

I picked up the January Burda Magazine and am quite smitten with the dress on the cover.

This one.  It looks very plain here, but demurely interesting in the magazine photo.

Here's the schematic drawing.  I think cuffs at my elbow would drive me crazy so I'd lengthen the sleeves.

I have some really nice navy teal (if that's a colour) lightweight wool & cashmere blend fabric, with a jacquard/texture combination woven into it. Scrumptious and understated - hopefully not boring (Montreal, 2010).

Then I started thinking of jackets because a lightweight wool dress doesn't cut it for warmth during winter here in Canada's capital.  (Don't laugh, I might get to it before spring!)

I have another piece - truly scrumptious hand spun, dyed & woven Merino wool from sheep raised by the spinner/dyer/weaver close to home in the Ottawa Valley (Fabric Flea Market 2009).  It's a cushy jacket-weight, multi-coloured including teal/turquoise, and definitely not lightweight.  I don't have a great deal of this, about 3 metres but it's only 90cm (36") wide.

I identified two candidates from the October Burda Magazine.  This was my first choice, subject to a question for you:

Second choice - ignore that it's shown in shearling; I'm confident it would work in wool:

So here's the question.  Which of these two styles would you choose to wear over the dress?  Can two vaguely shirt-style collars get along?  What if I modified choice #1 so it's single breasted with a slightly lower front neck (maybe 5cm or 2" lower)?

Any other pattern suggestions for my hypothetical jacket?

I have a feeling I know what you're going to say, but go ahead anyway!

(PS - I do remember I've got some UFOs in the sewing room, but a girl can daydream...)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New bike jacket

In keeping with the recent trend in which I have been making active-wear, I'm about to start on a new bike jacket.  I'm reusing the same pattern from which I made my current jacket, which has got to be 15 years old, at least.  The pattern is the Golden Triangle Cycling Jacket from Storm Mountain Designs which I bought at  the late-lamented Textile Outfitters store in Calgary.

I made my first iteration of this jacket from a synthetic known as "super microft", also sourced at Textile Outfitters.  While this jacket is still very functional and not too worn out, its time is coming to an end.  It lost some of its water-resistance over the years and the wash-in stuff (Nikwax) seemed to interfere with its breathing ability.  The reflective tape is worn out in spots and looks quite ratty (though it's still pretty reflective).

Here's the front view.  This is an extremely basic design featuring roomy raglan sleeves and stand-up collar.

There's a low curving hem in back to guard against gaposis.

I added reflective tape all over the place for visibility.  I ride my bike to work except when there's snow and in the fall, it's really dark on my way home.

At the side, there is a lot of zipper.  The zip below the reflective tape is the pocket; above it is the "pit zip".  This is a zipper (18" or 45cm long) that's closed at both ends with 2 pulls that meet anywhere in the middle.  It's inserted in the side/underarm seam and provides ventilation.

I had the forethought to purchase 3 sets of pit zips at Textile Outfitters and after 15 years have 2 left.  That should be a lifetime's supply, I figure, at the rate I'm going!

My new jacket will be more substantial than this one since I'm making it from Goretex and it needs to be lined to protect the membrane.  I've got some athletic mesh lining in the stash.  To further increase ventilation, I'm splitting the back to create an upper back vent (sort of like the back of a trenchcoat).

To make my new jacket as safety-conscious as my old one, I'm going to use some retro-reflective plastic piping (looks clear in ordinary light) and as an accent on the back (from the stash), fabric with an overall retro-reflective print (looks boring grey in ordinary light).  Flash!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Working through it

The Sewing Lawyer is starting off 2011 with a humdinger of a virus (until proven otherwise) which has her laid up at home drinking plenty of hot tea with sugar and devouring murder mysteries.  Thus it's astonishing that there are three new garments to show you!

Granted two of them were cut out before the end of 2011, and they are all from Jalie patterns, which are renowned for their ease of construction and general reliability.  However, the Sewing Lawyer is taking her accomplishments as the victory they are over the dreaded whatever-it-is that makes it painful to swallow, and has turned her brain to mush.

First, a version of Jalie 3024.  Oh, is this supposed to be a dress?  I thought it would make a really nice workout top, and indeed it does.  I made the crossover bodice, front and back.   The fabric is a thin cotton knit which I purchased at PR Weekend Montreal.  Fitting, since that's where the dress pattern was first débuted to the sewing world.

Here's the back.

I used self fabric for the neck and armscye binding, a technique which is included in this pattern and also had its world début when it was demonstrated by Jeanne Binet at PR Weekend Montreal.  There's also a little illustrated tutorial here (yes that is the same fabric I've used for my new top).  It is a super-simple technique which produces great-looking results without elastic.  Genius!

Peeking out at the neck edges of this new top is that same periwinkle blue supplex seen in my previous post - it's a new sports bra also made from the Jalie dress pattern.  This time I used elastic (the pattern is well-adapted to make the switch) and stopped at the under-bust band, adding elastic there for security.

I decided to make this piece for two reasons - first the Jalie top is too low cut for any other exercise bra I own, and second, I had the fabric and wondered if it would work.  It does. I cut the neckline scoop a tiny bit higher so it would show.  Jalie 3024 is quite a versatile pattern.

Then there is Jalie 2795, the zip-front hoodie designed for fleece.  Another winner from Jalie.  I love the high neck and the kangaroo pockets.  The only negative to report is that the sleeve length is extra-gorilla-long.  It is designed with a cuff (width about 2.5" or 6cm). The piece is still sitting in my sewing room.  I turned up 1" (2.5cm) for a hem without it and the sleeve length is perfect.

I made this from a "fleece end" purchased at Fabricland for the princely sum of $8 which I believe is Polartec PowerStretch.  It's gorgeous cozy stuff although a bit fiddly to topstitch.

The resulting jacket is the perfect thing to wear while sipping hot tea and reading murder mysteries!