Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!!!

Here's wishing everyone in blogland a happy holiday, whatever or whenever that may be. :-) Here at Loohoo Manor we celebrated Christmas this morning with a few gifts, having spent too much money recently (ahem serger) to justify any more extravagance.

I bought this fabric at Stonemountain and Daughter during my Thanksgiving trip with Christina to make DH a shirt, and have been stealthily working on it ever since. Discreet sewing takes a different skill than speed sewing, but they both have their difficulties. I am terrible about cleaning up my floor when sewing, and will often leave fabric scraps on the ground for weeks. Ask my husband how much he likes that. Anyways, I didn't want to leave scraps from the shirt on the floor for him to see, but I also didn't want to clean up everything or he'd be suspicious of that too. So I painstakingly picked out the shirt bits from the rest and mostly left the mess. I think I should just start cleaning up after myself.

Thanks to Cidell, I was able to finish the shirt yesterday afternoon and have it under the tree before DH got home from work. He wasn't expecting anything so it was a nice surprise. He agreed to model it for you all only if he could pose with his newish gun. *sigh*

The fabric is a 100% cotton, but it's got a unique feel to it, not quite a seersucker but it doesn't hold a sharp press. DH gave the thumbs up.

This was a TNT pattern I had made back in June for his birthday, by copying his favorite short sleeve shirt. All the construction methods are straight from David Page Coffin's Shirtmaking book, which sadly was checked out of the library the other day when I went to get it. I had remembered how to do everything except for the collar band and attaching the collar, but a quick email to Cidell fixed that. I owe that woman a gift basket.

We had plans to go to Idaho to visit DH's family for Christmas, but the storms have dumped so much snow the roads are practically impassible. So we decided to stay home and just relax. I hope to finish up some UFOs and mending, and catch up on a few blog posts. Hope everyone is able to find some time to relax as well!

Hugs and Stitches,

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Vogue 2981 Pants

I finally got around to finishing my first pair of pants, this Vogue pattern that Adriana nailed recently. If mine look half as good as hers then I owe partial credit to her for all the help she gave me. Thank you Adriana! The other half of the credit goes to luckylibbet, who kindly invited me over to her home to help fit the muslin and take measurements. It was like talking to a library's worth of fitting books! Thank you H. I guess I'm out of halves, but I also got help from other bloggers and patternreview, you know who you are and thank you!!

Here are the adjustments I made to the stock pattern after all my tweaking:

-Straightened hip curve to a straight line from waist to hip
-Redrafted my own waistband from a piece of 2 1/2" bias canvas
-Added 1/2" darts over the back pockets
-Took in 3/4" from each side seam in the back
-Narrowed legs by 1/8" on inseam and outseam
-Changed slant pockets to double welt pockets

Fabrics and notions:

-An amazing black/white/green plaid stretch wool from Michael's fabrics. It was a dream to press, sew, and wear.
-Black silk underlining
-Cotton/poly pocketing from Charles Zarit Sewing Supply, which I really like since it doesn't tend to wrinkle.
-Black 7" YKK zipper, also from Charles Zarit
-Black rayon seam binding for the inside waistband and hem raw edges

I LOVE these pants. The underlining is far superior to lining, especially for pants. It moves as one unit instead of pants-within-pants. And the hem is handstitched to the underlining, so it's completely invisible. The fit is better than anything I've ever bought, it was worth all the tweaking to get here. And amazingly, I made no adjustments to the CB, CF, or crotch curve. I think I found a pattern that works for me.

This was my first project completed with the help of my new serger, and it was tempting to use it on everything I could! I restrained myself and used it only to serge the underlining to the fashion fabric, finish the fly and fly facing edges, and finish the pocket edges. All places I didn't want extra bulk, and I'm very happy with the look from the outside (no pressing cloth or padding required!), but my inner couture seamstress still prefers the look of a hong-kong or bound finish.

This was also my first attempt at double welt pockets, so naturally I decided to put in FOUR of them. Now to be fair, I did spend several hours just practicing different methods, so I felt pretty good about my technique before I tried them on my real pants. Out of the Vogue instructions, Debbie Cook's tutorial, and Kathleen's, I decided I like Kathleen's the best. It is slightly less bulky and quicker, however it is absolutely essential to make the pressing jig, and to sew incredibly accurate seam allowances. After trying the Vogue instructions, which involved seperate welt pieces, I decided I didn't like any of the methods that have you deal with welt pieces. Both Debbie's and Kathleen's are what I'll call 'integrated' methods, the welts are formed through the sewing and folding steps. It's hard to visualize, even with their great pictures, so I recommend trying them out for yourself.

Yes I matched up the plaid on the waistband and fly too. I didn't know you didn't have to so I was very very careful with the cutting.

I accidentally sewed the waistband facing in the wrong way, however in this case the only thing that happened is the CB seam is now offset, but it does reduce the bulk a little there. I forgot about this when sewing on my label. Oops!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Speed Sewing

What to do when you've got a Christmas party to go to and nothing to wear? If you didn't sew the answer would be shop. :-) Now the only thing that pops into my head is, "What do I have in my stash?!". I remembered this BWOF pattern I had copied from Cidell's issue, and how she was able to make it on short notice too. I had some stretch wool leftover from another project, and a few colors of silk charmeuse available, so I whipped this up in about 12 hrs total, from the time I started adding seam allowances to the traced pattern. Not bad.

I did do flat pattern adjustments before starting, and I have to say they got me really really close. I straightened the hip curve, adjusted for swayback, and added booty room in the back. I checked the armholes against my favorite TNT silk tank pattern and added a little where it would have gaped, and that was it. The back darts still needed tweaking but it was surprisingly close.

Since this was speed sewing, I committed some sins against fine fabric that I would normally never do. Nothing is lined, although it really doesn't need it with the fabrics I chose. I serged (separately) all the seam allowances, including on the silk (yes, 30 lashes, I know), but did press everything open. I chose to bind the armhole and neck edges instead of creating the ruffles, and I didn't hand baste them down either. I got really lucky my ditch stitching caught almost everything with just pinning, and I was able to redo some areas discreetly. I can't say enough good things about a 70 microtex needle and Coats XP fine poly thread on silk charmeuse. So forgiving.

I asked Cidell for help on this one, and she in turn called up the omniscient Marji, for additional help. Thank you both very much for your quick emails, they were much appreciated. Following their advice I put in a lapped zipper on the side seam, instead of an invisible in the back. It was my first time with a lapped, and it wasn't perfect but I was pleased with it. I can see how it will be much less hard on the fabric. And I do like the side seam location, my CB seam is very curvy and I'm not thrilled with the way zippers lay back there. However, the lap itself, even done well, adds some bulk to the side seam and sticks up more than an invisible. So I'm not crazy with the look, but if I hadn't tried that location I never would have discovered the advantage of the side seam zipper. One caveat though, all the instructions I found for doing a lapped zipper involve basting the seam closed, and when you are all done the area that was basted is visible. My charmeuse still shows the needle holes from that basting. FYI. It was fine on the wool.

This was right before we ran out the door, I had an hour to spare after finishing.

You can't really tell from the pic, but that is a burgundy shanked button. The only one in my stash. I bound the keyhole placket following Claire Shaeffer's High Fashion Sewing Secrets.

Top of the lapped zipper caught in the armhole binding. This held the lap down very nicely over the zipper stop.

Yes that's a brown zipper. It was all I had.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Fabric shopping and another DVF knockoff

Thank you everyone for the kind wishes, it's amazing to me how many people are all too familiar with that feeling of violation you get after a home burglary.

I have been sewing a lot lately, but using my limited minutes at the machine and not the computer! So again, I apologize for the lack of updates. I had a fabulous Thanksgiving week, I took the entire time off work and sewed, cooked, played with the dog, and slept. I stayed away from the malls completely, and only stopped into one store on Black Friday, Stonemountain and Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley, CA. Christina was visiting from Seattle, so I enticed her with a 20% off coupon they sent me. It wasn't hard.

I snapped up some DVF wool knits for, guess what, more DVF knockoffs. As well as some shirting for DH, silk charmeuse for the top of a dress, and a gorgeous DVF woven that Christina said I just had to have. I will take pics of all of it and post so you can drool too. :-)

Christina and I in front of a wall of silks, that's my Patrones skirt, and she's in a BWOF dress, but you can't really see her fabulous tights or grey suede boots.

I got home from purchasing the fabric at about 2 in the afternoon on Friday, by Saturday at 2 I had a DVF knockoff made for my sister's birthday that night. I was going to get her a gift certificate but I think this went over much better.

It has a funnel neck, gathered front at the side seam, and a plain back. The fabric is a DVF wool double knit with a faint diagonal pattern to it, very soft and stable. When my sister came over for Thanksgiving dinner I had her try on the muslin I had made for this dress, she loved it so I told her I'd make her one for Christmas. She sure was surprised when she opened the box on her birthday!
I was also able to almost finish up my first pair of pants, and I sewed a '15-minute top' pattern I got from another sewing friend out of some more wool knit. I can't wait to show you the pants, stay tuned.