Friday, August 31, 2012


The colours are slightly cooler in real life than this photo, at least on my monitor.  But it's close to accurate.  I can't remember if I said earlier - this fabric is a rather artisanal (i.e. highly irregular and lumpy) 100% silk.


- the Petersham is made of 100% poly.
- it is also too wide at 1".  I sliced this lengthwise and overlapped so it is about the right width - using this particular ribbon would therefore require a few extra steps to prevent it from fraying into oblivion.  But I am pretty sure I could secure it invisibly under the beaded trim, probably with a 3 step zig-zag stitch.

What I like:

- I love the shape and texture of these buttons.  Bought enough for the jacket (9) even though I'm not 100% sure they are right.
- strangely I like the beads and sequins on the narrow ribbon trim.  Usually I remove such frippery.  But these are shiny in a dull kind of way.
- the browny-grey of the Petersham and the dull silver buttons emphasize the neutrals in the fabric.  Maybe this would make the jacket more wearable.

I would like to avoid the problems with the Petersham so I shall venture forth yet again today in search of the perfect trim.  In the meantime, I am soliciting opinions.  Comments, please!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The sleeve saga goes on ... and on and on

Having just returned from a visit with my husband's relatives, during which the sum total of my creative output was that I started the same sock three times, I'm all charged up to get something done in the sewing room.  So it's back to the Vogue 8804 muslin, and the puzzle of those sleeves.

The real problem is the sleeve front, starting with the sleeve cap which has too much fabric in it, and continuing down towards the elbow, which also has too much fabric.  See how baggy they look in the photo at left?

Here is the sleeve cap shape, when the two pieces are aligned.

And here it is compared with the cap of another Claire Shaeffer sleeve (V7908).

So I thought ... what if I rotated the sleeve front clockwise, until the cap shape is about the same as the other sleeve?  And pinched out width from the cap down in the front sleeve only?  So I tried it.

To my considerable surprise, pinching out the fullness from the front sleeve at the over-arm seam takes care of the weirdness at the hem.  Don't ask me why, but it worked.

I transferred the change to the tissue, using purple pen (original seam lines in orange).

If you click on this, it enlarges somewhat and you may be able to see the purple dots that represent the location of the pins in my muslin.  I connected them roughly with my french curve and found that to get a line that made any sense, I had to take a sliver of width out of the back too.  The corrected curve flows nicely into the existing curve at the vent.  I made an executive decision to the effect that even though my alteration takes slightly less width out of the upper sleeve than I pinned out, it will probably be OK.

So I cut it out.

And then I started thinking about the trim.  This trim business is not The Sewing Lawyer's forté.  It requires hours in fabric stores but not looking at fabric.  So far I have chosen thread which I hope will blend into the base fabric and become invisible, and buttons which I really like but which may not be exactly right (depending on the trim).  I also found some narrow ribbon trim embellished with sequins and beads (!!!!) which is surprisingly tasteful, but also rather expensive.  I bought 10cm so I could think about it in more detail.  It needs a base.  So far the local stores have not produced a likely candidate.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

More about those sleeves

I've spent two evenings drawing lines and measuring them, and comparing the V8804 sleeve to the pattern for a jacket sleeve I like.  It's the one from V2770.  You'll have to believe me that it has a really nice curved shape.  I thought it was possibly too narrow when I first made it, but it's perfectly comfortable.

So here are some pictures.  First up, to the right, is the pattern for the V8804 sleeve.  I've drawn the seam lines on the pattern (in orange) and pinned the pieces so they are oriented correctly at the biceps level.  I also shortened the sleeve because I have short arms.  I haven't tried to true it up afterwards.  

The weirdness of the sleeve is caused by the exaggerated curve of the front sleeve piece no. 12, and both pieces along the centre seam.  When these seams are sewn the sleeve does not follow the shape of a person's arm when it is at rest.  Look at your arm when it's at rest and your hands are at your side.  The profile when seen from the front is more or less straight, or curves away from the hip.


Have a look at this croquis.  It's exaggerated but makes my point.  Your arm only curves inward toward your hip if you're posing with your elbow out.  This sleeve wants to curve that way all the time.

Incidentally, I realized that I have the incorrect piece no. 14 which has apparently been corrected by Vogue in later printings. My piece is not graded for the  different sizes and I gather it's the size 14.  It's longer by about .5cm than it should be.  No big deal, in the greater scheme of things.

The sleeve from V2770 can be seen to the right, and to the left I've put V8804 on top, more or less matching it at the underarm point.

The 8804 sleeve is approximately 4cm wider at the bicep.

The sleeve caps measure almost exactly the same along the seam line.  The 8804 sleeve is designed with slightly less ease (4cm) as compared to the 2770 sleeve (5cm).  However, the 8804 sleeve seems to me to need less ease because it also incorporates that curved seam down the middle.  This makes room for the shoulder and arm.  I think the 8804 sleeve cap could be improved by being narrower.

I was surprised that the two sleeves are more or less the same height at the cap.  Based on how they look and feel I expected the 2770 to be higher and a lot narrower than it is.

I'm not a pattern maker and will be feeling my way towards redrafting the sleeve.  I foresee lots more boring muslin sewing in my future.  Any ideas you have will be appreciated!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Breaking news on the jacket front

True to my word, I have put together the size 8 muslin of Vogue 8804 including sleeves.

Let me tell you, those sleeves are just weird.  The under-sleeve is very narrow but instead of curving with the wearer's arm, it fights that curve at the hem.  This may be because of the very strange pitch of the inner seam of the front sleeve.  This explains the odd grain angle at the lower end of the sleeve, visible on Vogue's website pictures of the jacket.

If the strange biasing made the sleeve feel great on, you would not get any complaints about it from me.  But it doesn't feel right.  The combination of the seam angles under my arm feels like the fabric is pulling the whole front of the sleeve straight down, instead of letting it curve with my arm.  If I hold my arms naturally, the lower sleeve hangs up on my lower arm at the front (you can see there is no forward shaping in Ann Rowley's sleeve).  And if I hold my arm straight, the sleeve wings  strangely toward my hips.

And as you can see in the dreadful photo at right, there is some unattractive excess fabric in the upper arm as well.  I expected slender, elegant and anatomically correct.  Instead ... well, an inmate has escaped wearing baggy prison clothing.

In other news, I am going to pinch out some fabric along the princess line above the bust, and I think the waist is too low on me.  I'll take 1cm out above the waist.  Otherwise, the bodice seems fine to me.

I am going to have to think about this.

Strange knitting competition

For the past two weeks (well, 16 days actually) I've dedicated my free time to a project entered in the Ravellenic Games over on Ravelry.  For the uninitiated, Ravelry  is a fabulous site for people who make things out of yarn.  Mostly, I pay attention to the knitting since I cannot get over my general impression that crocheting always results in an item that appears to be made out of granny squares, whether it was or not.*

The Ravellenics are inspired by the Olympics.  Sort of.  The idea is that you declare you are entering a fibre-related "event", start your project during or after the Olympics opening ceremonies (July 27), and finish up before the end of the closing ceremonies which take place later today.  Depending on the nature of the chosen project, this is a daunting schedule.  Just over two weeks to complete a shawl or a sweater is pretty impressive, IMO.  Especially if you knit madly for five days (9") before realizing that if you keep on, the thing is going to be ginormous, and that you really must rip back to nothing and start over.  (Ask me how I know.)

Which is why I'm totally chuffed to say that I finished my project, (yet another) knitted top, ahead of schedule.

This colourful little number is vaguely based on a pattern in the spring/summer 2012 edition of Vogue Knitting.  Only vaguely because again, I chose yarn that knitted up quite differently from the intended sport-weight cotton Vogue favoured.  Mine is 50-50 cotton and cashmere (yummy), DK weight, from ColourMart.

I call it my Ravellenics Missoni Gelato top (if you are on Ravelry you can read more here). I cannot take credit for selecting the fruit-flavoured coordinating colours - CM put together Ravellenics "scrap sets" for anyone who wanted to buy one (5 50g skeins - I have a total of 76g left).

Take a look at my garter stitch neck and arm edge bands.  I am proud of them because I totally winged the shaping and stitch count, and because I managed to turn off the pointiness of the knitted chevrons below the neck edges (it worked in the back too, but you'll just have to believe me).

I know I keep saying I'm back to sewing now, but really, this afternoon I intend to not start another knitting project, but instead to devote myself to the 2nd iteration of my Chanel-ish jacket pattern.  Since my first attempt was clearly too big, I've trimmed all the pieces down to a straight size 8 and will put the sleeves in this time.   Stay tuned.  

Fun fact:  There was much to-do on Ravelry and elsewhere after the games, originally dubbed the "Ravelympics" had to be renamed.  A somewhat offensive-to-knitters cease-and-desist letter was received by the owners of the site from a law firm retained by the US Olympics Committee.  The story even made the New York Times.  The USOC was forced by the resulting outrage to apologize publicly (twice actually) for offending knitters.

*  Well, except when its an amigurumi.  I'm ready for the cries of rage from all you dedicated crocheters who believe otherwise, and actually I'm anxious to be proven wrong with links to beautiful crocheted items that do NOT appear to be made from granny squares.  Especially nice garments, please.  Seriously.  I might be persuaded to take it up.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Jacket prep

Vogue 8804 - I won't be wearing mine on a motorbike!
In the second-last round of new Vogues, I was immediately drawn to V8804, Claire Shaeffer's latest jacket pattern.  It's an obvious riff on the classic Chanel jacket - tweedy, boxy, little inner structure and quilted lining.  The instructions are, as usual for CS's patterns, long and detailed.  Handsewn buttonholes.  Oy!  Assuming I intend to try them,  these instructions would be a great starting place.  (Along with 10,000 hours, far more than I have, to practice.)

Needless to say, I have suitable fabric in stash.  It has been sitting on my cutting table, mocking me, since around the time I started on my turquoise dress.  It's a rather roughly-woven silk tweed.  It is so old (acquired from the stash of a lovely lady in her late 70s, who probably bought it in the 1960s) that it seemed a little limp.  So I threw caution to the winds and the fabric into the washing machine.  The bath and a line dry seems to have made the fabric tense up - it feels more beefy than previously and though it lost a little red into the wash water it has the same colourful intensity as before.  I think it will soften again with handling and wearing, but I like the result.

The patterned fabric at front is the same China silk I used to line the bodice of my dress.  I figure it will be seriously cheerful inside a Chanel knock-off jacket.

Anyhow, I made a muslin.  I cut the 10 and it is too big.  When I pinned it out at approximately the size 8 dimensions, it seems much better.  Still boxy, but not hanging off me.

Muslin - size 10 pinned to approximate size 8
The shoulders are still at the size 10, so will be somewhat less extended than you see here (pins at the shoulder seam raise the whole jacket approximately .25", which is a good thing).

The jacket has a very narrow side panel (it's about 4cm wide).  There are no darts designed to be sewn in the outer shell.  All the body shaping is supposed to be via shrinking the fabric with an iron, coupled with having darts sewn in the lining (to which the fashion fabric is attached permanently via machine-sewn vertical "quilting").  I'll have to test my fabric to see how well it shrinks in before committing to this technique.  In particular, the amount to be shrunk at bust level into the side panel is rather daunting.  In my muslin, it is somewhat gathered, and too low for my shape to boot.  I intend to raise the point of the gathering and may sew a narrow dart there too.

In the muslin version I've sewn the 4 narrow back waist darts which in the finished version would be in the lining only.  The jacket is, as advertised, boxy.

To finish, here's a side view of the muslin.  See that unattractive line from bust, angling downward?  The bust shaping comes from that general area.  Yeah, too low!

For sewing references, I will be referring regularly to the beautifully detailed in-progress photos of Ann Rowley and the discussion about this pattern at Artisan's Square.  Ann is wonderfully generous in documenting her impeccable sewing for our use.  She wrote, on the Artisan's Square thread:

The main reason that I make series of instructional photos like this is for educational  purposes - I am passionate about sharing skills between people who sew; this is my contribution.

I have absolutely no reservations about you downloading these photos and their captions for your own personal use.   However I would ask you not to post the actual photo, on a blog, or anywhere else, but just to provide a link. This can only be a request on my part as I don't want to stop personal downloads by altering the copyright.

And for when I'm at the point of deciding on trim, I'm going to refer to the instructions posted on another Artisan's Square thread for crocheting your own (hoping the link takes you directly to page 7 post #234 - if you are interested, scroll down through the next few pages).  I haven't been hanging around that site much recently, and don't know anything about Bonnie (btriola) who posted these instructions, except that she obviously knows what she's doing!  I am especially drawn to the trim which shows as #19 in this compilation of btriola's postings.