Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Another pattern from my past

The Sewing Lawyer developed an early interest in tailoring. It's hard to believe, but in those ancient days when she was in high school, a course in tailoring was in the public school curriculum.  Thus, as has been mentioned before, in grade 12, she made a plaid coat.

When you are young and fearless, you just carry on and do the most amazing things.  So I went on tailoring, not realizing that this was actually pretty hard to do well.  Attending the University of Toronto brought with it an introduction to the wonderful nearby garment district and the mysteries of the stores that supplied real tailors.

And in the 1970s, it wasn't considered all that strange for a student to wear a 3 piece suit, on occasion.

In my memory, it was perfect.  Luckily I don't still have the suit.  I'm pretty sure the tailoring wouldn't measure up to my current standards.

This pattern is on offer at Lanetz Living today.  Only $3.00.

The zipper

I've had a few questions about the zipper I used in my all-black colour block dress.  Mostly, the questions break down into two types:  where/how did I find the exact perfect length zipper, and is it comfortable to wear a dress with a big metal zipper that runs from neckline to hem?

I had no great desire to add the zipper to the dress until the perfect zipper, a silver-coloured metal two-way separating zip presented itself to me in a tiny semi-basement Toronto store stuffed with fascinating notions.  I blogged about my flying trip to the Leather and Sewing Supply Depot here.

Now the zipper wasn't the right length - it was too long by about a foot.  But when you're dealing with zippers, too long is not really a problem.  If you have pliers and aren't too intimidated, it's pretty easy to remove teeth and replace the zipper stops where you need them.  There are how-to videos on You-Tube and other sites.

Replacing the slider if you accidentally pull it up above where you removed the teeth (oops) is a little bit harder but also not a show-stopper.  I had to do this - not, I hasten to say, because I pulled the slider off accidentally, but because the zipper I bought had the top slider on the inside of the zipper so I had to take it off and replace it on the other side.  I would explain how I did it, but I'm afraid it would be pretty incomprehensible.   My advice, if you ever need to do this, is to search for a video on line.

As to wearability, apart from the first little frisson of cold when I put the dress on, the zipper is completely comfortable to wear - it's not even noticeable.

And on another zipper-related topic, today is the 132nd anniversary of the birthday of the inventor of this ubiquitous and essential notion. His name was Gideon Sundbäck.  Google commemorated this great event with one of its animated home pages.  Enjoy!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

My new dress (to be)

I was going to call this post "introducing my new dress" but I decided that would be cruel.

A bit further along than flat folds
At least it's cut out...

This will be the sleeveless dress with the asymmetrical faux-closure from February's Burda.  I'm making it from turquoise wool crepe, which will be underlined with silk organza. The bodice lining is the China silk print and the skirt will be lined with slipperier Bemberg.

Since taking this photo, I finished basting the underlining in place and construction has begun.

"Harmony" knitting pattern
by Nadia Zarrouk - available
on Ravelry
However, again I've been sidetracked by knitting.  My new project is a pattern found via Ravelry.  So far I've done the 2nd cable twist row and it's looking good.  I have some stash fabric lined up to coordinate.  More on that later.

I'm making the top from a silk and linen blend (70-30%) fingering weight yarn, which I ordered from ColourMart.  Oh my, if you are a knitter, you should check out the CM site!  They have lots of really luxurious yarns (cashmere, fine merino, silk etc.) for very down-to-earth prices. Four cones, each about 500 metres of 100% silk yarn for $22 (shipping included), were delivered to my door on Friday.  

100% silk DK in maroon
Here's one of them, auditioning with a scrap of a beautiful wool bouclĂ© from stash.  Did Chanel knit?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Stylish stretch pants?

Another TSL living room view
I thought there was only one errant thing
(a musical instrument) in the background.  But no!
Spot the shoes...
Is there such a thing?  The Sewing Lawyer likes to flatter herself that the answer may be yes.  See the evidence for yourself.

I may have mentioned before that the February, 2012 issue of Burda Magazine is probably the very best in more than a year.  I'm in the process of confirming that, as these pants are the second garment made from that issue.  I could use more of these!  They are comfy, fit nicely, and, made from a black rayon-poly-lycra ponte knit, will go with almost anything.

However, you have to really look for this one in the magazine; it's a gem that Burda seems to have deliberately hidden. They do it fairly often, in my experience.  A brilliant pattern is shown only once (the pattern insert says twice, but in fact they seem to have substituted another pattern for these to coordinate with the grey sack-like top, yellow socks and clunky loafers).  And there, it's outshone by the other flashy garment it is being shown with (the "Miss Butterfly" kimono on p. 17). Bonus: it's sewn up in black, so its features completely disappear on the page.  Why, Burda, why?

I know you may think I am also guilty of hiding the many virtues of this lovely pattern by sewing it up in black, but at least I've tucked in my top so you can see the basic outline.  Here's another view and the line drawings again.

I think you can click on these to enlarge them tremendously.

The side/back, showing seams

So, as you can see there's a deep V back yoke, high waist and fly front opening.  The sides are a strip approximately 10cm (4") wide.  I traced with 2.5cm (1") seam allowances just in case, but after trying them on, decided they fit if sewn on the intended lines except at side front, below the waist.  So in effect, my pants are 4cm bigger around than Burda intended at the hip, and 2cm in each leg.  In the result, they are slim but not tight.

I used a woven cotton for the fly shields and facings to reduce bulk and eliminate stretch.  As I've been doing recently, I constructed them on my sewing machine using a tiny zig-zag (1.5 x 1.5 mm), rather than on the serger.

I can't think of anything else to say, except:  Run and make your own pair!

Flash update (Feb/2014) - This pattern is now available for download on the BurdaStyle website.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Fashion shoot

So I wore the dress to work on Monday.  The good news is that it was supremely comfortable and attracted a few favourable compliments.  The maybe bad news is that sitting all day in a 100% wool doubleknit dress bags the bum out a little bit.  Not enough to deter those favourable compliments however.

Of course a quick steam brought it all back into place, before I took these pictures.  The curve is simply following my shapely backside.  (Right!)

Contrary to my conservative expectations, I really like that zipper!

Goodness it looks like I am maybe six feet tall.  I'm not.

Nor did I have any idea that light could penetrate black wool doubleknit.  The late afternoon sun was pretty strong.

And I'm pretty sure my legs are really not that white.

I got a new camera which allows me to take self-portraits untethered from the power outlet.  Welcome to The Sewing Lawyer's living/dining room.

But I should check for stray shoes in the background before setting up.

The only side-effect of sewing this dress with extra-wide side seam allowances is that the colour block seams don't line up exactly.

I'm pretty sure nobody will notice.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Real law firms in Texas apparently think it's worthwhile to have spammers in India put comments on my blog.  Since I doubt the spammers are doing it out of charity, I have to assume that the law firms are actually paying for this "service".


Needless to say, the comments are removed promptly.  Maybe Blogger's spam filter will soon catch on.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Teaser pictures

The Sewing Lawyer loves to show off her just-completed creations but the latest one's a LBD and it's after dark, so the fashion shoot will have to wait.  In the meantime, here are some hints of what's to come.

The LRD (aka muslin)
Those of you in the Burda know will instantly recognize this as the colour-block dress from February, 2012.

I traced off the size I should be these days and flat pattern measured.  Hmmm.  I added wider (1" or 2.5cm) seam allowances at the side and CB for insurance.

I needed it.  I am happy with close fitting, but skin tight?  Not for me thanks.

I had this red wool blend doubleknit in my stash.  It's medium substantial, but has a definite stretch factor.  I sewed the side seams at 1.5cm below the waist.  I like the "muslin" well enough to sew it up properly.

This inside-out photo shows the only surprise fitting issue, which is that the midriff piece needs shortening at the upper edge.

My black fabric is a pure wool doubleknit.  It's very substantial and much less stretchy than the red fabric.

The zipper started out way too long.
But The Sewing Lawyer has access to pliers
 and isn't afraid to do a little zipper dentistry.
I needed those extra-wide seams even more.

My dress was going to have an ordinary CB seam but I changed my mind when I found the perfect zipper, thanks to being able to sneak 30 minutes for shopping on a recent business trip to Toronto.  I raced to the  Leather and Sewing Supply Depot, a store I had never heard of before K-Line raved about it.  It's a great spot for finding elastic, trim of all kind, interfacing, tools, purse hardware, leather bits, etc. etc.  Check it out, if you are ever in the neighbourhood.

Anyway, the zipper.  My fashion slavery definitely doesn't extend to applying the zipper tape on top of the garment.

The CB seam is reinforced and stabilized with fusible woven tape, then the seam allowances are pressed back.  Finally the pressed edges are sewn down over the zipper tape, which stays underneath and out of sight where it belongs.

Finally, to avoid the bulk of the facings Burda suggests, I cut the facing pieces out of a fusible interfacing with a soft, slightly brushed face, and used the interfacing as the sole facing, fusing it down very carefully.

I think it worked.  The edges are nice and crisp and very thin, and there's no bulk at all in the crossover!

Stay tuned for the fashion shoot...