Saturday, August 20, 2011

Snagged! Butterick 5992

This is one of the most elusive of the 1970s patterns The Sewing Lawyer has been trying to recover.  Woo Hoo!

I think I made it when I was in grade 12, from a light weight cotton which I remember having a very nice hand.  I have a mental image of the print but trying to pin the image down enough to write about it is difficult.  It had a smallish scale, I remember that, and the motifs were sort of irregularly round and irregularly concentric.  The colours were quite bright; a clear blue, red and white, in that order of prominence.  It sounds dreadful.  It probably was.

After all the lying in wait for this one, strangely I'm content to have its digital image preserved and to know the pattern number.  Even though I could buy it for only $3.  In a size that has never been my size.

I could have sworn this dress was made from a McCalls pattern.  But it was Butterick, my favorite brand of the day.

A few of my past favorites are still lost.  But I'm on their trail.

This is really boring

However, it seems necessary to document the completion of my brown canvas "boxes", since (surprisingly) so many of you expressed interest in this very utilitarian project.

Without further ado.

Box open and stocked with my white interfacing collection.  There's room for more!  (The sides are just propped open, they are not stiffened even slightly).

Box flaps closed over contents.

Boxes in situ.

They are squashier than you may have expected.  I decided against getting all fancy with closures and labels.  The flaps will stay down.  Gravity is my friend.  And decorating the flap with a small square of the type of stuff inside is quite a graphic reminder.

Sadly, I still need a plastic bag or two up there.

I could make more, but I am going to do something more interesting instead.  At least I won't be at risk of an interfacing avalanche when standing at my cutting table.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Paralyzed by clutter

This is one corner of The Sewing Lawyer's rather small sewing room.  It may explain the title:

Specifically, the problem is the bags up top.  They contain my stash of interfacing, silk organza, and batting.  There's also a bag each of biggish scraps of wool coating and fake fur up there.  Every time I need some (say) black fusible, I have to take down two or three bags before I figure out which bag hides the black fusible.  It seems every time I put them back, I cause a slippery plastic bag avalanche.  A bag full of interfacing that falls the metre or so distance from the top shelf to my cutting board is rather inclined simply to give up the ghost and split, spilling its contents everywhere.

Recently I've basically given up putting them away, which means they are on the cutting board, and on the floor.  Too much clutter makes it impossible to sew.  This is not good.

I've had it.  I have the equipment, the supplies and the ability to fix it.  Enter a bolt of sturdy brown canvas (Fabric Flea Market).

A design.  Rudimentary, but it should work.

Heavy canvas "boxes" will not slip and slide on each other.  I hope they sit nicely side by side up top.

They may need some kind of handle too.  I'll work it out as I make the first one.  I have five cut out.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Grey summer suit - it's about time, you say?

Well, for heaven's sake, I wonder what took The Sewing Lawyer so long?  It may have been the intervening allure of Vogue 1250.  Or her week away on holidays.  Perhaps she was slightly discouraged by that mid-project anxiety which often strikes during a longer-term more-complicated sewing project about whether it would fit, or suit her, or be easy enough to wear to be a go-to outfit on hurried weekday mornings.  Or maybe it was just the summer heat and doldrums, of which there has been plenty.  Whatever the cause, the delay has been overcome.

The Sewing Lawyer is pleased to present to you ... (drumroll) ... her grey summer suit.

Happily, it does fit.  And it seems comfortable enough.  The jury is out on whether it will be easy to wear.

The last jacket that The Sewing Lawyer made with a peplum was definitely NOT easy to wear.

It was her attempt to fix the Hot Patterns jacket pattern known as the Metropolitan Jacket.  You can read the whole long, sad saga here (if you are a paying member of PatternReview).  She sweated and swore at that thing for what seemed like months.  Come to think of it, it  really was months, And then she hardly ever wore it.  Too fussy.  Not The Sewing Lawyer's style.  Or something.

It (and its matching skirt and pants) have been donated.  I hope someone is enjoying them.  A lot.

Back to Vogue 8718.  I feel cautiously optimistic about it.  It isn't gathered.  I like its lines.  I still really like the sleeves, which are sort of puffed but not at all in the same way as the HP jacket.  I think with time I can get over the fact that the fabric (very thin, hard surfaced wool suiting with a slight sheen) is really hard to press, so there are apparent wrinkles and puckers everywhere if you look really closely.  This is one of those problems that may well disappear in the closet, if given enough time.  (You know, those sewing flaws visible only to the creator...)

So... what else to tell you about this?  How about some more photos?

The princess seams of the skirt (which is the same as many other skirts in The Sewing Lawyer's closet, a true TNT pattern) are more or less in the right place in the front to flow on from the pleated peplum.  I notice that in the back, they are too widely-spaced.  Oh well.  As I showed you before, the major seams are edgestitched and topstitched because double lines of heavy topstitching thread are an interesting contrast to the extremely smooth fabric.  I think that was a good call.

The pattern called for four medium-sized (3/8", or 9mm) snaps to close the jacket.  I disagreed.  Snaps would be bumpy, and very visible on the underlap side when the jacket is not closed.  Covering them to make them less obvious would have made them prone to opening spontaneously. The jacket did not need a closure below the peplum seam (which is slightly above the natural waist).  So I sewed on three hooks, on the overlap side, and made thread bars for the underlap.  Here are some photos.

I am very happy with how this solution works.  The thread bars are worked with a sort of button hole stitch, over about 4 foundation stitches.  I used the heavy topstitching thread which is a good colour match.  The hooks are ugly but they are under the overlap side so cannot be seen.

As you can see (or not) in the photo below.

Other construction notes.

I found the sleeve hem opening was much too wide.  I narrowed the under-sleeve seam by approximately .75" (2 cm) on each of the front and back sleeve for a total narrowing of double that amount on each sleeve.  This is perfectly fine, and I don't think my arms are unnaturally slender.

I am really happy that I used stout ribbons to pleat the sleeves instead of following the pattern instructions, which were to sew the lining pieces to the upper sleeve before pleating, and then fasten the outer sleeve to the sleeve lining to create the pleats.  I just do not think that lining fabric is strong enough to support the sleeve pleats.  Plus, using a ribbon allows you to get the pleating right before the jacket is totally lined.

The only dedicated lining pieces are for the sleeves.  Otherwise, Vogue instructs to cut the lower and upper CF pieces as facings out of the fashion fabric (as you can see above), and the rest of the body pieces out of lining fabric.  In retrospect, I wish I had thought to make a CB piece with a lining pleat, and to add a touch of length to the lining, for ease purposes. As it is, I sewed the lining with slightly smaller seam allowances, and hand-felled the lining at the waist with a seam allowance of maybe 1.2cm (1/2") to give a bit of ease in the length.  Using the same pieces for lining risks having a lining that is too short/tight and will pull on the fashion fabric, disturbing the line of the garment.

The other truly weird thing about the Vogue instructions relate to the collar.   This is TMI unless you are puzzling through the pattern instructions, but I mention it here in case anyone out there in blogland is sewing this jacket.  They say to sew the facing/lining layer to the jacket body before the collar is sewn on i.e. leaving an opening for the collar, and then to sew the collar on with the outer SA pressed up to the inside, and to hand-fell the collar to the jacket side.  I could not for the life of me figure out why...  Too complicated and risks a truly Becky-Home-Ecky and bulky look.  I sewed the collar, ignoring the instructions to press the lower SA up on the outer collar layer.  I first topstitched the collar, and then attached it to the jacket shell before attaching the lining.  I finally sewed the facing/lining to the jacket/collar at CF/neck from one peplum seam to the other in one pass, enclosing the collar seam (which had to be trimmed). Just ignore Vogue.  Sorry I took no pictures of this.  If you have questions, ask in the comments and I'll do my best to explain further.

One more thing - I used a fusible tape to snug in the CF edge by maybe 1cm (3/8").  Even though the lower CF piece is more or less on grain, and the upper piece is fully fused, and even though I was reasonably careful with the iron, I found this edge stretched out when I was pressing the seam attaching the facing/lining to the jacket.  This was a little in-progress retrofit.

I do like the sleeves.  Very much.

Monday, August 1, 2011

More refashioning

Not that The Sewing Lawyer has actually done any.  These projects fit into the category of cerebral sewing, triggered by a recent bout of closet purging during which some items were deemed "too old/ill-fitting-to-wear" but whose fabric was deemed "far-too-good-to-throw-out".

Exhibit A is a dress made ca. 1988-90 from cotton lawn fabric, originally purchased in the long-gone fabric department of the now-defunct Eaton's store in downtown Ottawa.  Sigh.  They sometimes had really beautiful fabrics, not too expensive for a just-starting-out lawyer.

Witness the fact that I can still do up the back waist zipper (lapped).  There is some yardage here, in the skirt.  Even though it has both CB and CF seams, I bet I could turn it into a simple sleeveless shirt.  

As far as I am concerned, this is perfect fabric.  High quality and smooth, it emerges off the clothesline or from under the iron crisp but quickly relaxes into a soft loveliness.  Strictly speaking it is probably too lightweight for this dress pattern, Vogue 9770 which came out in 1986 and called for wool crepe, double knit, faille, gabardine and damask.

I made both views, although left off the little neckline bow on my version of the slim-skirted view A, which I made from navy wool jersey.

I made View B twice.  The second version, also much-loved but less hard-wearing, I made from silk noile woven in gigantic checks.  This sounds garish but you'll have to take my word for the fact that it wasn't.  The colours were soft warm brown and creamy beige, and a bluish grey.

On to the next prospect.

Unlike Exhibit A, which got worn a lot, Exhibit B was ill advised so did not see a lot of action.

This is a top and skirt.  Both pieces were cobbled together without a real pattern about 10 years ago (I should have known better).  I remember thinking that I needed two pieces which would not have many seams to break up this fantastic print.  Again, the fabric is 100% cotton.  It has more body than the lawn illustrated above; it keeps its crispness when worn.

The fabric's source was the Fabric Flea Market.  It was a gem donated anonymously by someone who had traveled.  In the selvedge, is the hand-lettered information "Design and Hand-Printed in Peru by Silvania S.A."  I remember there were also genuine batiks from Indonesia and silks from Thailand that year (illustrating our slogan, "You never know what you will find!").  Naturally, being one of the organizers and doing all the hard work of measuring and pricing donated fabric, I get to see the good stuff before almost everyone else.  This is the source of much of The Sewing Lawyer's extensive stash.

But I digress.

The biggest problem that this outfit has, apart from its tight waist, is that the shirt fits very badly.  I had decided that even darts would interfere with the print so though the fabric is very stable and the fit around the neck and armscyes snug (even too tight, if I am truthful), it has no shaping.  I remember using the neck and armscye shaping from view C of Vogue 9548.  I carefully ignored the fact that this pattern has quite a lot of seam and dart shaping.  Really, what was I thinking?

The skirt is just two panels of the relatively narrow yardage (selvedges preserved in the side seams) pleated into a wide waistband.

The good thing about the lack of seams in this outfit is that once taken apart, it should yield some very usable yardage.

I am down to the short strokes on my grey summer suit.  Really.  It will be unveiled soon.