Sunday, October 16, 2011

Two pink things

First, please admire the perfection of the pink cashmere, neatly wound into a ball (or is there another name for one of these?) using my new wool winder.  Though my husband says I should be sure to mention what a headache it was to make the #*%# thing, I think it's brilliant.

The wool should unwind neatly from the centre.

No doubt this is all old news to you knitters out there, but it's new technology chez The Sewing Lawyer.

In other breaking news, I successfully changed my second bra (the front closing one) into a standard back-hooking bra with a closed bridge in front.  It actually wasn't that hard and it fits so much better.  Before, the wires were not only too far apart, the bridge was too low which meant the wires were not at the right angle.  Now, as you can see, they come up higher at CF where they are more vertical.  

I sewed on 3 of the little pink/√©cru bows that I bought at the Fabric Flea Market yesterday.  I think they look kind of cute!

Stash augmentation

So I have long been involved in organizing the Fabric Flea Market.  Annually since 1995.  In addition to being a great fund-raiser, it's a stash transfer tool.  We give the stash-busting vendors, most of whom have reached SABLE*, a way to recoup some of their investment from stash-building purchasers.

Maybe some of the purchasers don't realize that they, too, have reached SABLE.

Like me.  I'm still in denial.

Without further ado:  my haul from yesterday.

Starting small:  stretch lace, elastic of various kinds, including plush picot elastic & strap elastic for more bra-sewing.  Also, tiny bows and flowers for lingerie-decorating.

That's a roll of dark navy grosgrain ribbon at the bottom.  It's rayon and wonderfully moldable with steam and heat, for facing waistbands and other behind-the scenes uses.

A really interesting wool (maybe a blend) woven with texture and stretch; crinkle rayon print; silk burnout (with white paper behind to show the pattern).

Nylon/lycra for workout clothes; 100% poly swimsuit fabric; silk crepe  with zig-zag design; amazing coppery raincoat fabric; silk chiffon sari, with ombre border print.

Two stretch mesh prints; teal/brown viyella; wool/silk dress fabric (shirtdress?); more raincoating (the true colour is more turquoise).

Wool winder to turn 100% cashmere repurposed yarn and hand-spun, hand-dyed black mohair with wool/acrylic blend yarn into neat, usable balls.

There seem to be some colour themes developing.   I knew about the brown and teal, and of course the orange, but the pink is a surprise to me.

What did you do yesterday?

*SABLE = Stash Accumulation Beyond Life Expectancy 

The Fabric Flea Market, 2011 Edition

I'm a complete sloth today after two days of intense fabric-related work.  Enjoy!

Imagine the buzz
Silk ... hmmm
Like candy.


Vintage home dec.

This reminds me of Roch Carrier
Vintage buttons
Great patterns!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pretty in pink

Following hot on the heels of yesterday's post, here is The Sewing Lawyer's latest custom-made bra - all done!  It is not perfect but definitely wearable. 

Inner bra cup - in progress
The cups and straps are made from shiny and stretchy pink satin.  It has a lot of stretch in the width and hardly any in the length.

Inside the straps (cut on the lengthwise grain) is a layer of duo-plex to ensure they won't stretch.  It pads them very nicely.  The bridge is also underlined with duoplex since you absolutely don't want any stretch there.

Inside the cups is a layer of flesh-tone power net.  I used a triple-stitch zig-zag to flatten the lining seam. The outer cup seam is flattened with the traditional line of straight stitching about 2mm away from the seam, on either side.  

The least satisfactory part of this bra (construction-wise) is the seam along the top of the cup.  I used a stretch stitch to join the satin to the power net, and understitched with a straight stitch to keep the lining from rolling to the outside.  This edge would look better if it was finished with elastic to stabilize it.  It stretched slightly in construction, even though I cut the upper cup with the DOGS (direction of greatest stretch) perpendicular to the edge and seam to minimize the likelihood of unwanted stretching.

The fit would be better if the bridge (the little piece at CF between the cups) was narrower.  I don't know if this is possible, since it has to accommodate the plastic clasp and it would be even more difficult to sew if it was smaller.  Future bras will close in the back so I can better control the bridge dimension.

This bra is a modification of the Sharon front closing bra from the Pin Up Girls line of Bra-Makers Supply but, as explained yesterday, the Sharon cup wasn't doing anything for me so I subbed in the cup from a bodysuit pattern in the June, 1996 issue of Burda Magazine.

Before starting I read up on converting styles in the Bra-Makers Manual (also available from Bra-Makers Supply) and I added 1/4" (7mm) to the lower edge of the cup pieces to ensure there would be enough room for the wires inside the cup.  This is needed because the Sharon is a partial band style (the cups are not sewn into a fabric piece) whereas the front of the Burda bodysuit pattern functioned like a band in relation to the cups.  In a full band bra, the wire sits outside the cup below the seam joining the cup to the band, but in a partial band bra, the wire must be accommodated inside the lower edge of the cup itself.

The band is cut from pink power net which was in the pink bra kit I bought.  Unfortunately I had to cut it with a CB seam since the piece supplied wasn't long enough to put the full length in the correct direction (the DOGS need to be horizontal so the bra band stretches comfortably around your ribs).

An aside:  In a comment on my review of the Amanda bra pattern, Squirrelypoo (of FehrTrade) wondered why there was a side seam in the band on that pattern.  I think it's because the front band of a full band bra cannot stretch but the back band must, so they must at least be cut in different directions even if you use the same fabric.  The pink bra doesn't have a front band and the back band connects directly to the cups with no extra seam.

I notice there's a new pattern on the Bra-Makers site designed for foam cups - the Anita, which is made with stretch lace.  But there's definitely another pink bra in my future before I need to buy new supplies.

Issa of London - silk jersey dress

Issa of London silk jersey dress
The Sewing Lawyer has previously mentioned her super-talented (and lucky) thrift-shopping friend.  Her most recent fabulous find is an Issa of London silk jersey dress.  The fabric is superb.  It may have been worn, but it's in mint condition.  I think my friend paid $15 for it.

Issa dresses go for about 35 times that or more new, and several used ones are listed at well over $300 on eBay.  The brand got a serious boost from Kate Middleton who wore a blue jersey dress made by Issa when she and Prince William announced their engagement.

I've got the dress on loan for a week or so to see if I can figure out what the pattern for it would look like.  It is truly intriguing!  Here's a verbal description which hints at the complexity of this apparently-simple wrap style.  My inept photos can be enlarged if you click on them.

Starting at the top, the dress has a high back neck which extends from the front bodice (think shawl collar).  There are two ingenious tucks in the collar just at the shoulder point which control the fullness beautifully.  They are released at the front (where the fullness contributes to the deeply plunging neckline) and at the back, so that the back of the collar hugs the neck.

The very full sleeves are cut in one with the back of the dress, which has a centre back seam.
Back sleeve - cut on

The sleeve is gathered into a generous cuff, which is a single layer of silk jersey, folded double at the wrist opening and machine-hemmed.

Raglan seam at front
The sleeve (all cut in one with the back) extends over the shoulder (no seam) to the front where it attaches to the front bodice with a raglan seam.

The V neck has a self facing, which is simply folded back twice.  It's not interfaced (there is no interfacing anywhere in this dress).

But the most astonishing feature of the dress is the pleats and ties in the front bodice.

At left you can see the bodice, untied.  The upper part has three tucks on each side.  One of them (the closest to CF) is very deep - maybe 2" or 5cm.  The others are about half as deep.

The bodice tucks are sewn into a little front band, and to either side the bodice curves down and extends into the ties.
The skirt extends upwards
into the tie (the Issa logo
is part of the print, as you
may be able to see here)

The bottom part of the tie is similarly cut in one with the skirt.  The bottom piece of the tie is narrower than the top layer so the seams of the tie roll around to the bottom as you may be able to see at right.
Mysterious waist opening
The curved edges where the bodice and skirt curve into the tie are not sewn together.  In fact, there is an opening to either side of the short waistband piece at CF.  It is, however, anchored by a piece on the inside.  I can't begin to describe how this works.

The dress is worn with the ties wrapped towards CF and then around twice.  This conceals the openings where the ties attach, and cinches in the skirt, creating diagonal folds from the hip (see the top photo of the dress on my duct tape double).

This size 2 dress looks astonishingly good on - and it seems to fit different body types very well.  My friend is giving it to her 18 year old daughter because she thinks it's too short for her.  It's too short for me too.  Which is just as well.

If I can manage to make a pattern, I'll show it to you here.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Why I keep old Burda magazines

Too pointy!

I started to tackle the Sharon pattern (at left) from Bra-Makers Supply and I can already tell that the cup design is just not me.

Exhibit A.  My padded-out duct tape double is not precisely me, but close enough.  Erm.

I pinned the wires in place for these pictures so the cup would maintain its shape.  It sure does.  It's shape isn't mine.

So to plan B.

One of my favorite old Burdas is from June, 1996.  This issue included some great summer clothes (including the long tunic-shirt I showed you here)  but it also had a great lingerie section, including 2 bodysuits (one also doubles as a swimsuit) and a boned bustier.  All in all there are patterns for three different styles of seamed cup garments in this single issue.  Bonanza!

Bodysuits from 1996-06 issue
And I had made the swimsuit before, and remembered being pretty impressed with the fit of the cups.

Against my better instincts I'm posting a picture.

The fabric was a border print, nylon and lycra.  Purchased at the late-lamented Textile Outfitters store in Calgary.  I remember it was fun figuring out how to use the border print on the cups.  Putting the upper cup on a gold stripe meant that I ignored the grain line on the pattern.  I did not use wires although the pattern is perfect for them.  I like the wide straps which are pleated into the extension of the upper cup.

Sadly, the elastic in this suit has disintegrated but I'm glad I kept it for today's examination.  I like the line of the seam in this cup much better than the more horizontal Sharon seam.  And it's not pointy.

I think I'll just sub the Burda cups into the Sharon band.  Why wouldn't this work?  The Sharon pattern is designed for low or no-stretch cups and the Burda is designed for stretch fabric, but the cups are lined so they are reasonably firm.  I don't think it should matter.  I cut the Sharon cups out of Duoplex, a fabric included in the bra kit which, I have to say, is the most hideous stuff ever.  I have some lovely stretchy satin in pink in my stash.  

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Calvin Klein PJs

Bright red with fun jungle animals
This is fabric well aged, and used for exactly the intended target.  It's just a decade (or maybe 15 years) late in the arrival.  Now there's a bit more room in the stash containers.

Aside from the fact that the fabric was purchased in Europe (Grenoble, France, at Toto Soldes, which was lots of fun), the most interesting thing about these PJs is that I made the top from this Vogue Calvin Klein pattern (ca. 1979).

Obviously I took liberties with the sleeve length in the interests of night-time warmth, but more fundamentally with the attitude (suave, sophisticated) of this pattern.  Silk charmeuse?  Heavens no.  The Sewing Lawyer's Calvin Klein PJs are made of luscious 100% cotton jersey.  Printed with fun jungle animals (many upside-down) to boot.

In other news, the curling season has started.  Which means three occupied evenings per week, so maybe even less sewing than before.  Curling is lots of fun for young and old, and involves moderate exercise which is countered by immediate post-game consumption of the drink of your choice and snacks.  It also involves periods of intense activity (trotting alongside rocks and sweeping like mad) but more time standing around in a fridge-like atmosphere.  This will be my third season as a curler.

Why am I telling you this?  Because I need to make myself some new curling clothes.  The pants I have been wearing for this activity ... I can hardly find the words to describe them.  It may be enough to say that they are RTW and handed down from my son when suddenly he got much larger.  He wore them long enough to wreck one of the snaps at the waist, which has not stopped his mother from wearing them for two long curling seasons.  And for cross-country skiing.  They are functional.

Famous Norwegian men's curling team pants from
the 2010 Winter Olympics
I am determined this year to kick things up a notch.  If not my game (my skip can count on me to be inconsistent), then my curling wardrobe.
The 2010 Canadian women's team,
skipped by Cheryl Bernard

#116 from November, 2009
There is one older woman in my ladies' league who always wears a deeply pleated kilt with black wool tights.  It moves wonderfully when she delivers the rock.  Everyone else (well, except the Norwegians) wears black pants.  My old ones are ripstop nylon, lined with some kind of synthetic knit.  It would be nice to have pants with more give to them.  Since they don't need to be windproof, I'm tending towards some thick and stretchy ponte-like knit in my stash, which is probably a rayon-poly-lycra blend.  I made my bike shorts from it and they are standing up very well.

After leafing through my Burda Magazines, I found a few pattern possibilities.  So far my favorite is #116 from December, 2009. It has some neat seaming. The back is also interesting - the curved seam turns into a back yoke, and there are vertical seams down the centre of each leg.  However, I think I'd do some major pocket modification.  Perhaps modest zipped side pockets instead of the "Look! Hips!" flaps.

If I had spiffy new pants, I might have to make a new jacket too.