Friday, July 29, 2011

The Sewing Lawyer has been on vacation

Which is why there have not been any posts for a little while.  So... what have I been doing?

Well, right after I made my second version of Vogue 1250 we departed for a week away, planned around an extended family celebration in the great urban agglomeration that vaguely surrounds the city of Toronto.

I'm happy to report that I survived the hottest July 21 on record in downtown Toronto - the actual temperature was 38C (just over 100F) and the humidex something like 51C (almost 124F).  It remained hot, but thankfully not that hot, while we attended the family event and during two days spent in the delightful tiny town of Jordan, which is in the heart of the main wine-producing region of Ontario.

Since this is a sewing blog you may not care much about The Sewing Lawyer's vacation, but let me just share with you one photo, which comes close to capturing how gorgeous this wine-producing part of the country is.  (What the photo misses is the country silence, the warm and pleasant breeze, and general feeling of goodwill instilled by being in good company in such a place.)

This was the view from up high on the Niagara escarpment at the lovely terrace of Vineland Estates Winery, where we enjoyed a delicious dinner.

OK, one more thing.

Excellent local wine.  Ahhhh.

Enough of that.

I did have some sewing-related touristical experiences.  In Toronto, I again visited Perfect Leather and bought some brick red lamb leather to make another jacket.

Toronto has realized that it ought to celebrate its different districts and there are a few pieces of public art in the area around Spadina and Queen, the heart of the garment district.

The thimble which sits on a pile of giant buttons at the corner of Richmond and Spadina is well-known.

A quick internet search informed me that this was created by Stephen Cruise, and was commissioned as a result of a City of Toronto juried public art selection process.  It dates to 1997 when street cars were reinstated on Spadina Avenue.

These two metal sculptures are located at a streetcar stop on Spadina in the heart of the "Fashion District".  

These are part of a series of sculptures at different intersections created by Randy & Berenicci.  According to the City of Toronto, the pieces "represent the people and events chronicled in existing public domain images that record the changes to the neighborhood throughout this century. The structures supporting the vignettes recreate the shape of the original Hydro poles, whose function to carry and transmit power and communications is maintained in a metaphorical sense, transmitting the history of the neighborhoods. Replacing the glass insulators of the original poles, overscale cast glass birds sit on various support struts, adding an element of three dimensionality and an air of whimsy."  Whew!  

The fact that Hamilton Ontario also has a little garment district is less well known.  It's on Ottawa Street, and I had a chance to visit en route to Jordan.  My semi-planned destination was Bra-Makers Supply, renowned purveyor of all things necessary for beautiful and supportive undergarments.  My visit was fast, since there was little on the premises that was of much interest to my husband.  Not having enough time to consider and reconsider what I was doing (my usual shopping pattern), I bought The Book (Beverley Johnson's Bra Maker's Manual), two patterns, a bra kit (all fabric and other materials needed for one bra), two additional findings kits, some spiral steel boning, and I forget what else.  Oh yeah, two pairs of foam cups.  I was fitted for these by Beverley herself, with 3 students taking the intensive 2-month course preparatory to opening their own custom bra businesses looking on.  Fastest fitting ever.

Fortunately for my husband, many of the more interesting stores on Ottawa Street seemed to be closed for vacation, but we discovered more garment/sewing themed art.

The artist is Daniel Davelaar and it's the result of another juried public art competition.  According to this site, the sculpture is 3m (10'-0") high and "draped in cloth in such a way as to recall classical Roman and Greek sculpture. It is ... carved from a single block of Mountain Rose Granite."  The dark parts are polished and the lighter drapery is left rougher so it looks completely different.  I love it!  

Back at home, I'm almost finished the jacket from Vogue 8718.  The only thing left to do is the front fastenings.  The pattern calls for 4 smallish snaps.  I don't like that idea - they would be kind of ugly if the jacket is not done up, and the size Vogue wants me to use (9mm or 3/8") seem all too likely to pop open at the slightest provocation.  I'm toying with the idea of using hooks on the overlap side and making thread loops (almost invisible) on the underside, but I haven't decided.  The overlap is very small (about 1.5" in total or 3cm) so buttons are really out of the question.  Anyone have other ideas?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Betcha can't make just ONE

Vogue 1250 comes in pairs.  Like everyone else, I could not quite stop at one.

I whipped this up today out of (as you can see) an outrageously large print.  It seemed perfect for a pattern with hardly any seams.

I stared at the print for a while before concluding it would not be useful to try to actually plan for any part of it to fall anywhere in particular.  And then I blithely folded the fabric and cut the big piece, not particularly paying attention to the print.

Oh serendipity!  Look at how the cowl is nestled in a V in the print!  Somehow my shoulders are both more or less red, and I think that the large motifs worked out well in the front.

Of course, I blithely cut out the big piece, without checking to see if I had a sufficiently big bit left for the smaller piece (upper back).  Um. No.

It has a CB seam, unlike the DKNY original.

At least I was able to more or less match the two halves through the large motif in the centre.

The CB seam in the skirt *almost* matches.  I take no credit.  The width of the dress is what it is.  Actually, I don't much care for how the print falls on my backside, but I don't really have to look at it, so I don't much care...

And I am really happy with how the print falls in the front.

Here is one more tidbit of information about this pattern.

As you can see in the picture above, the original has this rather low V under the arm.  It seemed unnecessary.  So in my new version, I filled it in a bit.  Below is my altered pattern piece.  The front did not get altered at all.  It's basically a smooth curved line from shoulder to waist.  The effect of this extra little wedge of fabric is just that the back attaches higher up.  It also pulls the shoulder down slightly to form more of a cap sleeve, which I like.

The other small change I made was to increase the depth of the cut-on facing for the cowl.  I felt it was at risk of flipping out as originally planned (a depth of about 7.5cm).  I added approximately double that again at CF, tapering to nothing where the facing attaches to the shoulder seam.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Why I'm stuck

The AC works again, so on the weekend I got back to Vogue 8718.

The peplum, which you can see here, is self-lined.  This is because part of the underside of the peplum is visible at the lower edge, (though not in this picture, you can see it on the photo from the pattern envelope, and in the original Akris version, at this blog post).

Anyhow, I fretted over whether to interface or otherwise beef up the two layers of very thin wool that would make up the peplum.  I finally decided to use a firm silk organza underlining, attached to the right side pieces.

I KNEW that the organza was slightly off-grain and rippling but I deluded myself all through sewing the seams, sewing the layers together, pressing, and attaching the peplum to the jacket.


Was it going to stop rippling through sheer force of my will?  Of course not.

Am I going to wear it like this?  Of course not.

Luckily, I didn't trim or clip or do anything except turn and press.

Hello, seam ripper?  Where are you, my friend?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Hot weather sewing

I was making great progress with Vogue 8718 until I realized that our newly-installed central AC was not functioning as planned, and it is a hot weekend.  Erg.

The jacket needed a lot of steam.  So I switched gears.  Today, I made Vogue 1250 - the DKNY cowl neck dress everyone has been raving about.  There are already 17 reviews on PR and it has only been in the book for a month or so.  I can see why it's popular.  Three pattern pieces, and one of them is a little strip to finish the back neck.  This is, as I proved today, a dress that you can make in an afternoon.

However, its design makes it a bit tricky for someone, like The Sewing Lawyer, whose top and bottom are not the same size.  (FYI, the top is a pretty straight size 10 and the bottom is just a titch under size 16.)

This dress is snug at the hip, designed with about 3cm ease, just over 1".  And the skirt is a single piece with only one seam at CB.  Darts extend to hip level from the bodice side seam to provide shaping.  To the right is the schematic drawing of the pattern pieces.  I puzzled over how to add width  at the hip without completely changing the design (i.e. by adding a side seam).  My solution was to slice the pattern vertically through the hip dart, adding a 2cm wide strip.  This worked very well, I'm happy to report. Except that I don't actually think I have as much as 3cm ease.  Hmmm.  

My fabric is a mystery content, striped slinky-like fabric I picked up at Vogue Fabrics in Chicago (I do love the way that sounds :D).  I had purchased a generous amount for a top, which turned out to be the right amount for this dress, 1.2 metres.  It only needs one length, at least in my size range.

To ensure the stripes would match, I cut one side of the front, single layer, pinned through the CF line, then folded to match the stripes before cutting the second side.  At the point of cutting, I wasn't certain I would need all the 4cm I had added so had not yet cut out the hip dart.  I did need it.  All of it.

I sewed the dress using a tiny zig zag on my regular sewing machine (1.5 x 1.5 mm) which is narrow enough to press open, strong and stretchy.

So here's the finished dress.  It looks pretty drab, but has some nice blues and cream colours in the stripes.

I was worried that the knit might stretch and the dress grow, but it seems firmer once made than I expected.

The cowl is low, but not indecent.

The back.  Kind of plain.

Where's my spanx?

Friday, July 1, 2011

<<< A short time later ... >>>

Starting again, The Sewing Lawyer cut a length of ribbon which is the full length of the upper sleeve seam of the lining, and another to match the lining's under sleeve seam.  On the ribbon, she marked the points from the lining pattern where the jacket sleeve would attach.  Then, she marked the points along the upper sleeve seam of the jacket where it will attach to the ribbon.  

That's better!  I still think the sleeve hem is too loose, but the folds seem to be falling properly now.

Here's what it looks like on the inside (just pinned) for your information.  I will hand-tack the ribbon starting at the neck along the shoulder until the two layers need to separate for the top fold, then at each of the four attachment points, and finally at the hem.  Under the arm, I'll attach at the under-arm seam, the four attachment points, and the hem.  


Dratted knock-off

Last year, DIGS posted about these fantastic sleeves she had spotted on - part of the 2010 Akris resort collection.  (They are in #2, #8 and #12 in the slide show.)

This peachy jacket shows the detail best.

Vogue, approximately one year later, came out with their new wardrobe pattern, 8718.  Do you think it looks a little bit familiar?

Except that the Akris has a double collar, no waist seam and no front yoke, and the saddle shoulder seam is higher.  And the V neck is lower and narrower on the original.  And the sleeves are not quite as luxurious.  But close enough.

So I got the sleeves sewn enough to pin them into the intended soft pleats/folds.  I decided to tack the sleeve seams to a ribbon instead of tacking them directly to the lining fabric.  It's a good thing I did, since monkeying with the pleats after the jacket was lined would have been a royal pain.

This is, however, not quite the effect I had in mind.

What went wrong?  Well, first, I didn't anchor the top pleat as high as Vogue intended (due to my construction method, I missed that there should have been one higher fold).

I'll adjust that, but will also have to snug up the  lower sleeve which is so loose it's flapping.  Look at the Akris original.  That sleeve is snug enough around the model's forearm that if she pushed it up it would stay.  The sleeve is only slightly looser in the Vogue pattern photo.

Some slight deconstruction is in order.  Grrr.


PS:  I goofed.  See the next post for more information.


So sinuous, so ... difficult to sew.  The Sewing Lawyer should have whittled the standard 5/8" (1.5cm) seam allowances down to 1cm but instead, she carefully pinned, held her breath, and sewed.  (Why am I so enslaved to 5/8"?)

Afterwards, out came the trusted and well-used seam ripper.  An inch here, 3 cm there, resewn.  The last stubborn puckers eliminated (left back) through more ripping and hand basting before sewing again (3rd time).  The upper yoke seam allowance trimmed down to about 5mm so it will turn nicely back on itself.  This very thin fabric needs serious pressing because it has a tendency to pucker.  Thank heavens for the gravity feed steam iron and suck and blow ironing board.

Holding her breath again to topstitch.  Smooth and steady are the watchwords.  Geometric perfection is not required.  The Featherweight is perfect for this.

I thought heavy topstitching would be an interesting contrast with the very smooth fabric and the very curved seams.  Hope you agree.