Friday, April 29, 2016

My Little Black Jacket

(This is my second catch up post)...

Forget little black dresses, I just don't wear them.  Give me a cardigan jacket to throw on over whatever else I am wearing, and I am happy. Trouble is, I have never owned one, because they are too expensive for me and also don't fit.  So it was about time I turned to needle, thread, fabric and machine and make one to fit me.

I was also making this garment for the Make a Garment a Month challenge.  This month, the challenge was to find the oldest piece of fabric in your stash and make something from that.

I happened to have a very small piece of wool and mohair mercerized worsted fabric in the stash. only it was  a piece kept by a retired tailor, and it had lots of flaws in it.  Presumably he though he might one day find a use for it, just like we blogging sewers try and rationalize over pieces of really quite questionable pieces of fabric in the stash.  Total, 1.25 of 150 wide, with flaws to avoid.

I have had the piece in my stash for over 20 years, and as the tailor closed his business in the 70's, it probably dates back until at least then.

Well, it turned out that this fabric was as tough as old boots.  I washed it in hot water and it did not shrink.  I washed it again in hot water to make sure, and it did not shrink.  It practically drip dryed.

Lining was a piece of polyester pongee from Spotlight.  This is heavier than normal lining, which I thought the jacket needed, as the pattern does not call for interlining, and the wool was also quite firm.  I thought a heavier lining would also help to hide the seams better.

The pattern I used was McCalls 6041, OOP for some years, but a classic  Chanel type jacket shape that can be found in many pattern ranges:

It has been decades since I have made a jacket (with the exception of 2 knit jackets last year, but I mean a proper tailored jacket) -  so I guess this Crafty approach felt a little less threatening.  And it was a classic boxy cardigan-ey Chanel-ly looking cut which is what I wanted.

My main fitting problem with jackets and fitted shirts and dresses is my erect and narrow back. You don't find many people with this problem, and it took ages for me to work out what to do.  You actually fold out an amount of fabric at about the shoulder blade level, and then also through the sleeve at the same level , tapering to the middle of the sleeve.  Perfection!  No pooling in the middle of my back :).  I think I have always been a little frightened of doing this alteration.  Not now!!

Size - I cut size 12, B cup and narrowed the shoulders.  I added an extra 1/4 inch at the CF in case I needed it.  I also added just a smidge at the bust area - I am a B, but I have a bigger front than back, so I often just add a teeny bit in this area with a princess line.

I found the sleeves quite wide, so narrowed them to about size 8 from about the middle of the bicep area.  I removed 2 inches of length.  I added about 2 1/2 inches length, and made the pockets larger and deeper.  I moved them down about 1 1/2 inches so that they suited the adjusted length of the jacket.

I also cut a facing for the back - the pattern just runs the lining up to the neck.  I wanted more stability in this jacket, so an interfaced facing seemed a good idea.

The pattern called for 1.25 metres of fabric, and I just managed, with lots of manipulation, to miss all the flaws - the advantages of many pattern pieces.  And of course I  had lengthened the bodice pieces.  Mind you, I did get a headache laying this out, avoiding the flaws, - it took me ages.  Determination that this piece of flawed fabric, hoarded for so long, was not going into the wadder bin.

Making the jacket was quite straightforward, except for the behaviour of the worsted wool.  The seams would not press flat.  Steam and clapping ferociously did not work. I thought about calling it quits, but determination came to pay a visit again.  I decided to catch stitch the seam allowance to the jacket. A bit risky, but barely visible.  I thought about top stitching, but I wanted a classic look, not a sporty looks.

You can see slight ridges, but when I wear it, they are barely noticeable - the  jacket just looks good.

I added shoulder pads and wrapped the shoulder sleeve in a bit of wadding - not quite a sleeve head, but just to add some definition to the shoulder line.  The pattern did not use shoulder pads, but the jacket just looked sad.  Luckily I had some that were really almost flat, and they just made the shoulder line nice and smooth and a little more structured. They had been cut out of something I purchased years ago - I knew they would come in useful one day!

The lining was machined (and pongee is not fun to work with, it has no give whatsoever and did not co-operate at all, and it didn't want to press nicely either)...and then attached at the underarm by machine stitch. I decided to hand stitch the hems of the sleeves and body, because that is easier to undo if I have to get into the jacket again.  Or if I want to replace the lining one day - that will be the weak point in this jacket.

And I closed the front with large hooks and eyes.

I was going to add a trim to this jacket, but it looked cheaper with a trim than without it.  And also, a trim just made me look old an matronly.

Then I decided to top stitch by hand.  This didn't work that well, so I undid it and top-stitched the edges by machine.  I had to, to get them to lie flat!.

Little details:

Pockets - the top of these had interfacing applied.  I lined them with voile, because I hate the feel of lining on my hand.

Hook and eye closure - this is inside the jacket so nothing is visible from the outside - as you can see in the picture above :)

Bottom of jacket where the lining is folded for the hem pleat - I added a little guipure daisy to the corner because it looks a little more finished than the hand stitches - which while neat, sort of annoyed me at the corner.

And I also added one at the junction of the CB of the facing and the lining.  This was because I cut the facing out of the last two tiny pieces of wool, and had to add a seam down the back. The daisy sort of distracts the eye from the join:

 Oh, and I put in a label- I think with all the hand finishing on this jacket I had earned it :).

Now, pictures of the jacket actually on me:

It's a pity this is a black jacket because black just does not photograph well, does it?  But I think you can see the outline at least - and certainly the side view shows the back of the jacket hanging perfectly.  And the front is not gaping open at the tummy - my slight bust adjustment certainly helped with that.

( Certainly incongruous wearing sandals with a wool jacket, but it was about 27 degrees...)

I have to admit I was well out of practice with jacket making, but I seemed to have pulled it off.  This is going to be my tough as old boots throw in the boot of the car, the overhead plane locker etc sort of jacket - wash and wear, and made out of fabric that cost little.

Costing - fabric, nil, lining $12.00, Pattern, $20-00, interfacing, $2.00, wadding, $1.00, Needle and thread allowance, $7.50, Daisies and hooks and eyes, $1.50.  About $45.00.

That's it for now,  more catch up posts soon.

Sarah Liz

Monday, April 25, 2016

A Splash of Floral, Vogue 9067 again.

I'm starting to write up my back blogs - this is post 1 of 4 .

Sometimes when it is a little bit between seasons, I am at a loss what to sew.  And certainly at the moment our weather is still quite warm, so I haven't felt like sewing anything for the coming cooler months.

So, pondering what to do, my eyes fell on a piece of stashed fabric that I had never known what to do with ever since I stashed it.  It was the last 1.25 metres of 127 wide stretch cotton sateen that I purchased at Spotlight some years ago.  I loved the roses, but really, there is little you can do with such a large pattern and pattern repeat, especially with a smallish piece.

I suddenly remembered a pair of trousers designed by Dries van Noten some years ago - I don't have a picture.  He had large flowers on his trousers, and didn't bother too much about pattern matching or pattern placement.

So I decided to make another pair of Vogue 9067, tapered pants version:

I have made this pattern up a number of times now - if you are interested, here is a link to all the posts featuring this pattern :

A simple elastic casing, in seam side pockets - which I made out of black poly cotton, a quiet hour or so, and, new pants to wear:

( I didn't realise my t-shirt had so many wrinkles in it :) )

I have to admit to liking these trousers - I think because the flowers are actually colours that suit me.  I rarely find colours that suit me at all - mostly fabrics seem to be in dark and deep colours, more suited to high contrast or darker complexions. Or they are very bright, again, not right for my soft, muted colouring.

Luckily I do have a blue, pink and green t-shirt that matches the blue, pink and green in the floral fabric.  A black cardigan and I will have a flattering little outfit.  It was just too warm to wear these t-shirts when I took the picture - they have long sleeves.

Looking forward now to reading your blogs, 

See you soon,

Sarah Liz

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Wadder Confession Time...A Preview...and What's up Next...

Have you noticed how some sewing bloggers never ever seem to have wadders?  In fact, I may even give that impression myself sometimes.

But I do have wadders.  I like to call them learning experiences, because usually a wadder is teaching you something. I don't always blog about them, because I tend to want to just move on.  But today I will share two wadder stories with you.

 A few weeks ago I cut out a polyester crepe jacket that looked awful on me. The calico toile looked fine, but when I made it up in a fabric with some drape in it, I looked like a frumpy sack of potatoes.  A little hard to imagine given my angular frame, but believe me, I did.  The offending wadder has left this house in the rubbish bin.

Then I attempted the above wadder today.  I found a piece of scuba knit in the remnant bin at Spotlight.  I decided that I would try it to see what it was like to sew.  I was a little dubious, but the sewing was the easy part.

When I attached the waistband (which was out of a separate and different piece of stretch sateen - I was working with a small remnant)  I inserted the elastic - I always use a casing, I don't stitch in, because you can then take out the elastic and re-use it, or, if you change shape, alter it - and then I tried it on.

Oh, horror.  It looked dreadful.  Although scuba knit seems to suit girls with a bigger build, on my curveless figure,  this fabric on me just looked dreadful.  Not a sophisticated little scuba knit skirt at all, but something sort of sad on me.  Luckily I had not stitched the elastic so out it came and the piece of scuba has departed this house in a very unceremonious fashion.  No more scuba for me.

So, the lesson I have learnt again is that I cannot wear certain fabrics and styles.  Which is why you don't see me wearing popular Indie patterns made up - the Mable skirt  for instance would look dreadful on me and highlight my stick thin thighs instead of enhancing curves.  The  Moneta or Lady Skater would just hang on me.  Yes, I want to make them because many sewing  bloggers do and they look lovely on them, but I know these styles would just be a big fail on me.

MORAL - Sew fabrics and styles that suit you.  If you experiment and have a fail, that's okay, move on and accept the lesson.


After my drapey crepey jacket disaster I made a series of muslins and then had a jacket success.  I am not going to blog about this now, but this is a  A PREVIEW:

I was very busy during the computer down time!  I'll blog this sometime in the near future

And I also have a whole back log of blog posts that I need to do - again, a little preview of what is to come:

That should give you a taste of things to come - not the sort of things that Sarah Liz has been known to make over the last few years, as I have really only concentrated on house casual basics.


As for What's Up Next on my sewing table... What do you think about the culottes, in red poly viscose gabardine?

Burda Misses' Pants 6701

I will of course make a calico first, and then if it works, cut the garment out.  In a fabric I know that works for me.

It's just that cherry red seems a little fashionable and adventurous - do you think these would work for me?  I plan to wear them over black tights because I get cold in winter.  

Bye for now, and I am gradually getting around to replying to your last batch of comments.  

Sarah Liz

Friday, April 15, 2016

I'm back blogging - with Vogue 8906

I've been away for the blogosphere for some weeks now.  This was a rather forced break and came about because my computer did a large Phuttting and puffed a lot of smoke into the room.  I stood back watching and wondering if I would need to get the fire extinguisher - I don't panic in these situations - and then it did a long and final Phutttt and died.  I turned the power off and told DH, who I knew would take care of the problem.  In due course a new computer arrived and DH has set it up so I can operate again.  I was starting to grind to a halt, because I work a lot from home as well.  At the same time the computer at the rooms was hijacked in one of those coincidental situations, so we had remedial work to do there as well, and my personal office computer (when I work there) has been given to the receptionist while we sort out the old one.

So life has been fun...

Before all this happened, I made this little cotton top.  I had a thing about Vogue 9085, in that I wasn't sure if I loved or hated it:

As I was not sure about this, and felt ho hum about even making it up, I decided not to make a muslin.  It didn't look as though there was much to fit.

I used a homespun quilting cotton, purchased from Spotlight.  It wrinkles  a lot, but it sort of has a softness and texture to it that I really like, and the wrinkles seem to work well with the softness and texture.

I made view C but changed the sleeves to a short length. I cut size 10 shoulders and neck, with 12 sides. I raised  the front of the neck and seamed the neck at 3/8 inch to make it a little higher.  I shortened the top by about 1 and 1/4 inch   below the L/S lines as it was very long. And I added an extra buttonhole to make 5 buttons total - 4 just look wrong.

As soon as I made the pleats at the front and back I could tell the top was going to be too tight around my front . And it looked so not me, too hourglass.  so I let out the front pleats to suit my shape.  Straight away it looked more me.  Then I finished to top, with my usual top stitching everywhere - which the bland homespun cotton needed.

My biggest problem was the buttons. Ordinary ones made the top look really blah, but I found these pretty buttons with a sort of self stripe through them:

Some quick views and then I will tell you whether I am still blah about this top or not:

The verdict is that I do like this top and I think it will be a lovely summer top for casual house wear in summer.  I would love to make it in a dressier fabric in the future.  I think there is a lot of potential with this pattern to make something really quite nice.  I must try the other variations one day as well.

Cost wise, the fabric $12.00, pattern probably $5.00, Buttons, $6.00, Thread and Needle allowance $5.00. and interfacing $1.00 allowed. About $29.00.  But a winner to remake one day.

Over the next few weeks there will be a few catch up posts with maybe one or two surprises.

See you soon,

Sarah Liz