Saturday, 31 October 2015

Peacock Feather Skirt

This is one of those fabrics which I saw and desperately needed to buy.  Love at first sight.  I was smitten, even though I had absolutely no idea what I would do with it.  I promptly bought two meters, crossing my fingers and counting on the idea that there is no way I would made a full body garment in something this loud.

A few months later I needed a semi-formal outfit for the fancy end-of-degree dinner and decided to sew it up into a skirt.  After agonizing whether the feathers should go up or down (definitely down), if the skirt should be long or short (long!), sleek or full (eh... sleek is less fussy but it could have gone either way),

In the end, I drafted a simple, straight, floor length skirt, lined to the knee with back darts, side walking slit, and a concealed zip.  I still have about three quarters of a meter left, but goodness knows what on earth that will end up being.

The top on the other hand, was trickier.  I originally wanted a simple royal blue stretch velvet scoop neck top, however there wasn't any to be found anywhere I looked.  I bought three other pieces of fabric, all in the right colour in the hopes that I could come up with something, but in the end, a trip to Value Village found the perfect piece two days before the even.  Phew!

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Doctor Who TARDIS Pajamas

These pajamas have been a while in the making.  The fabric is hand printed from lino stamps in silver and gold screen printing ink on royal blue cotton and completed back in 2013 (blogged about here).  At that time, I concluded that a sleep wear set would likely be the best use.  More recently, the sacrificial pink shorts pattern was modified into an elastic waist pattern, and the blouse muslin-ing exercises took care of the top. Two years later, they have finally come to be!

As I was making them, my family rightly pointed out that these go somewhat beyond your typical pajamas.  In fact, would posit that they are more in line with Barney Stinson's Suitjamas.  I wanted a convertible collar and piping and buttons and a yoke, and so I got them.  I'm also going to be doing some pretty extensive travelling over the next year, so I'm happy I will have a more than presentable set of jammies to wear while at hostels, friends' homes and other places.  Isn't the ability to sew whatever you want wonderful?

For the piping (and inside yoke), I used a finely printed quilting cotton.  The gold tone of the vortexes isn't a true bright, warm yellow colour, but rather a darker greenish yellow instead, so finding something to match was tricky.  I then used this method to create a continuous strip of bias tape, which was then wrapped around some chunky yarn to make the piping.

 I used Gigi Sews' method to sew the yoke and collar (it's pretty hard to get your head around what's going on if you aren't following along irl, but straightforward enough otherwise) which allowed me to enclose almost every seam, then used a fancy stretch stitch on all other exposed seams to prevent fraying.

I'm quite happy with the shorts.  The piping was really fun to sew, as each leg is one continuous piece sewn in one go: down, around and up again.  The side panels were not originally planned but I was running out of yardage in the first panel of printed fabric and was hesitant to cut into the second.  I took out about 2" of  ease from the middle of my single piece pattern to make it fit.  My logic was that they were elastic waist sleep shorts, and a few inches of ease either way wouldn't make a big different.  Nope.  After trying them on, it had obviously not been a good idea.  I had arrived in snuggle-bun and wedgie land.  Somehow taking out fabric width wise had not only made them too tight around for the style, but it also pulled down the rise significantly.  I also think my original draft likely needed more ease in the first place.  I did end up cutting out the inserts from the next panel, but happily it was only about a 5" strip.  I want to make another pair of these for everyday wear.  I can imagine adding a pocket into the side panel if it were made wider.

I am happy with the top as well, thought the pattern still needs a few tweaks.  The armhole is ok, but should be dropped another 0.5-1", and there's a tiny bit of excess fabric across the upper chest width wise but I'm not 100% sure where it's coming from.  The sleeve I ended up with works well, and most importantly, I can cross my arms with ease!

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Basic Convertible Collar Shirt Muslin No. 2.0

And here is draft 2.0.  Much better!  Not perfect, but getting there.  I ended up taking out approximately 3" from the centre back: 1" through a shoulder seam swayback adjustment, and then a 2" tuck in the bottom back piece, tapering to nothing at the sides.

The slightly larger French darts are certainly more attractive.

When I first sewed this up, the side seams looked even worse however.  I ended up getting fed up, lined up the front and back so it looked "right" and sewed a straight seam right from the armhole.  It looked much better, but was a touch snug around the hip.  To fix this, I started at the waist and added about 1.5" of flare- you can see this if you follow the lines of the weird plaid pattern at the side seam.  It still isn't perfectly centred/straight, but it's better.

There's just a touch of strain from the bust to the shoulder.  A PR member suggested about 1/4" wedge to be added at the shoulder seam at the outside, tapering to nothing at the neck.

I'll made the pinned/suggested changes, and then it's onto... dum, dum, dum... SLEEVES.  Eek.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Basic Convertible Collared Shirt Muslin No. 1

Here is the first draft of the pattern for a basic convertible collared shirt from the tape body cast.  Before I started drafting, I also traced out two different shirts that fit well  in different ways, as well as looking at the pattern and instructions of Simplicity 6526 in order to have a better idea of what would need to be altered from the "second skin" pattern.

  • Below bust/shoulder blade  darts were ignored (which caused a significant problem which is outlined below)
  • Shoulder darts were rotated into the yoke and bust dart
  • Yoke extended over the front of the shoulder slightly
  • Side shaping was kept to a minimum
Below, you can see how it looked sewn up (click for a larger image).  I was pretty happy that it turned out this well for a first try.  I then took these pictures to PR to get some advice on adjustments.

 The main problems:
  • #1 was that the back length is too long at the centre.  You can see this in how the line above the lilac strip sags when seen from the front and side and big swoops appear
  • The bust looks a bit tight but feels fine.  The darts would look nicer as French darts with a by product of adding a touch of shaping below the bust if they are made a touch larger to "borrow" some under bust dart.
  • The side seam is a bit too far forward, and there is a jog where the dart hits it.
  • Shoulders are potentially too wide.  I'm hesitant about this because I haven't had success adjusting sleeves to account for wide shoulders.  I really want to be able to reach forward and cross my arms.  This is really a huge deal for me.

The reason the back length was so, so long is because I have a pronounced curve to my back (requiring two 2" darts)- much more so than my front which I am considering essentially flat for something this unfitted.  If you have the opposite shape, I expect you might run into the same issue, but on your front.  This means that without a dart, the fabric at the centre back has less distance to travel and should be the flat distance from below the shoulder.  You can see how the black line straightens somewhat when darts are loosely pinned in, but still is too long.

Now, onto version 2.0.  There are enough changes, particularly with changing the bust dart, that I think it is worth re-cutting.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Fabric Shopping Outside of Rome

Now, outside of Rome.  You can see the post on fabric stores I visited in Rome here.

The market in Mantova (Mantua) was my favourite fabric buying experience, and my favourite shopping experience in general.  The market takes over all of the streets in the older part of the city, where there are stalls selling everything from clothing, to kitchenware, to sandwiches.  There were two main fabric stalls with some beautiful fabric at low prices, and another couple of stalls selling ribbons and buttons and so forth.  Everyone knew the names of the owners at the first stall, and the poor woman in particular was being run ragged by everyone shouting for her.

In Florence I stumbled upon some of the most exotic fabric I had ever seen.  Let's take a closer look at the right hand most window.

You may look at the skirt on the right mannequin below and say to yourself, "Self, is that fabric made of what appears to be emu feathers?"  Yes, yes it was.

And how much might a meter of feather fabric set you back?  248 Euro.

Here is the last set of photos for you today.  This was a lovely little shop in Vicenza across from the Basilica Palladiana at Piazza dei Signori.  I believe they specialized in some of the most beautiful wool and silk fabrics I had ever seen.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Fabric Shopping in Rome

Since my last post, life has been pretty crazy.  I spent a few months in Italy.  While there I, of course, checked out the fabric stores, and I brought back a few pictures (and pieces!) to share.  The first two posts will be focused on the shops themselves in Rome and outside, and the next posts will cover fabrics and pattern magazines.

This first shop I found was located in the Jewish quarter of Rome and had reasonable prices and some cute prints.  They took only cash with a one meter minimum.  There was another shop in the area which sold patterns, buttons and laces, but I went back several times and couldn't find it anywhere.

This is the inside of the famous Fratelli Bassetti Tessuti.  Rooms and rooms and rooms 
of fabric, but interestingly nothing that really caught my eye.  This may be because I was so overwhelmed by the sheer volume, but it seemed the vast majority of the fabric was very "ordinary".

I'm not sure of the name of this place, but it was right along the Via delle Botteghe Oscure.  They has some lovely fabrics at a range of moderate to higher prices.

This was a shop I stumbled upon by accident while on my way back from the aqueduct park one night.  It's out in the "real" Rome, outside of the old city walls.  It's called Settanni Tessile Arredamento on Via Tuscolana and they sold fabrics, as well as household linens and other fabric/household things at everyday sort of prices.   I was lucky enough that they had a new hire as of two day who spoke English, and I picked up two lovely pieces here.

A few doors down was a sewing machine store.

So that was my fabric store experience in Rome.  Up next, part 2 outside of Rome!

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Book Review (of a book I can't read): "Super Tailoring" Super Krojenje by Ana Malalan

One night, while searching for some fiction in the library catalog, I had the idea to search for non-English  drafting books, hoping to find a copy some Japanese books such as Drape Drape or Pattern Magic.  While I found several of those, I also found listings for two Chinese books, a Russian book, and this book.  The Chinese books were pretty ...bad... and appear to be knock offs of the simple, loose and cute style patterns in Japanese fashion sewing books.  The Russian book was primarily text for "recipes" of how to draft the sketches shown and while quite interesting, was not the most useful.

And then there was Super Krojenje.  I love this book.  I can't read a single word, but I love it.  According to Google translate it's in Croatian (their email is Slovenian, so I'm not sure), but I really, really hope at some point it gets released in English.

Why do I love it so much?

The illustrations are excellent and the concepts come across very well without any text.  The author does a particularly great job of showing through diagrams how the principles of a 3D geometric shape are transferred into a 2D pattern piece.  The layouts are clear, clean and easy to read (if you read Croatian).

I will be writing to the author to present my interest in an English republication, and I suggest anyone who can find a copy at their library take a look.

Here's a sampler of the book on issu: