Sunday, September 22, 2013

Finished Object, Plus a Start

The finished object I’d like to share today is largely a repair job.

 A half dozen years ago I bought a vintage wool coat at a thrift store. It and others were destined to be cut up into strips to be made into a rug. But I decided I liked this one coat too much to do anything but wear it. It was warm, comfortable, and roomy enough to wear medium to light-weight sweaters underneath.

Other than some wear on the cuffs, the outer wool shell was in great shape. The lining was another story altogether. The fabric was literally ripping apart, particularly at stress points such as the underarm and pockets. Sewing and re-sewing those points gave the lining a few extra years of life, but at year 5 (and finding yet-another tag warning me of the poor garment condition when I picked it up from my dry cleanerr), I knew I needed to either discard the coat, or replace the lining. I opted for the second.

Though it was “just” a lining replacement, this was a skill-builder for me. This marks the first time I’ve created a new garment (or in this case a new garment lining) using an existing garment as a pattern. Because the old lining needed to come out anyway, I cut along the seam lines, and used those pieces with seam allowance added back in to create new pattern pieces.

I'm sure there is a way to machine sew the lining to the cuff of the outer shell, but that’s a big spatial and order-of-tasks puzzle. After messing with it for a few minutes, I realized that it would be much quicker to machine sew the lining to the shell body, and afterward hand-tack the sleeve lining to the shell cuff.

With temps in the upper 70s and 80s and winter still a few months off, it may seem like an odd time to have put this to the top of my sewing queue, but I had planned to do this last winter and in the blink of an eye it went from “cool” to “cold” and frankly it seemed more important to wear the coat in s shabby form than be without it as well as have the increased pressure on outcome and time management while figuring out how to accomplish the repair.

The project is complete, but not without a few issues. Somehow the pleat at the center back of the lining isn’t at the center back of the shell, even though the shoulder seams do line up. Hmmmm. I also folded the pleat wrong because I’d intended the seam to be hidden inside the pleat not exposed at the leading edge. And the lining hem hits the hem of the garment 1/4" off at each side of the opening. None of these problems do I consider to be worth dwelling on, as they will be invisible the vast majority of the time.  More importantly, I bought this coat about 5-10 more years of wear for about $15 dollars in supplies and my time. WIN!

 Next up in the sewing pile is the most ambitious fitted sewing project of my life: Vogue 1061 Today's Fit by Sandra Betzina.

Vogue patterns are almost always ambitious. This one, a hooded long-sleeved tunic with a side tie closure, is constructed from 11 pieces. All sizes are included in the pattern, which means there are nine different lines to keep track of on every single pattern piece. More importantly, I need to determine which lines to use for different fit areas on the garment because I’m not a single size gal.

I bought the fabric for this over two years ago, and actually had the bizarre plan to knit this up in two weeks so I could wear it on a fall business trip to Canada. That clearly didn't happen, as you can see from the uncut pattern tissue, and uncut fabric.

The final fabric is a deep red heavy knit, but given the complexities noted above I decided I should make a muslin out of an inexpensive similar weight knit fabric. That beauty will be made in Pepto-Bismol pink. Awesome!


If all goes as planned, I hope to at least lay out a plan of attack with a first attempt at the math today. Cutting will come on a later day. With it being a heavy knit, this tunic is a late fall/winter garment. I have all the time in the world to proceed with care and caution.

Friday, September 13, 2013

An Actual Finished Object

This is the final project for a Craftsy fitting class, using the class-supplied Very Easy Vogue V8815 view B. The class is a video online. I followed the video step by step, using my measurements to customize the package pattern. I got it looking pretty good in the waist and bust, but I’m a difficult fit at the shoulders, and the armscye seemed way too big - both issues that I couldn’t seem to communicate to my online instructor using still images.

I began with using an expensive final fabric, but my fitting issues were such that I sought the advice of the owner of my local fabric store. Apparently she agreed because she literally cut the shirt off of me, leaving a boob hanging out. Thankfully, I had tucked a T-shirt in my sewing bag as I was leaving the house.

I left the fabric store with a destroyed shirt, suggestions for altering, and a bolt of muslin. I returned a week later, then every day after that for about 1 1/2 weeks, until we had the muslin looking close to perfection.

When that was approved, I purchased a few yards of this fabric, a Morris & Company by Barbara Brackman for moda print.

When we finished the muslin fit, we still hadn't worked out the sleeves, so I came in wearing the carefully cut and basted shell in my fashion fabric, with two options for sleeves basted in the armscyes. When the owner of the shop saw the fit of the entire thing, she immediately felt that I had too much fabric in the upper part of the chest and that I should reduce by about 1 1/2", and alter the sleeve cap accordingly.

She also wanted me to reduce ease around the entire body, but this I refused to do because the closure is a back zipper, and the shirt currently has sufficient ease that I can dress and undress myself. If it were tighter, I don't think that would be possible.

I chose not to follow her advice on the upper chest because if I had made that adjustment, I couldn't go back. If that turned out to have been a mistake, I would have had to scrap this version and buy more fabric in a different print. I also was dealing with fit adjustment fatigue, wasn't sure I would have time to make an entirely new version and be able to wear it this season, and I was concerned that if I reduced that ease in the front, it would look out of balance with the rest of the ease of the shirt. (She also wanted me to choose the tighter of the two sleeve cap options, but the other one felt a bit tight so I ignored that advice as well.) I should add, I really really did appreciate all the time and attention my LFS owner gave me. With her help I was able to overcome a significant number of issues.

When it comes down to it, this pattern or style of shirt isn’t one I would have chosen for myself. But, it will make a slightly dressier option than polo shirts for early fall days. And I will apply what I've learned to subsequent projects. One adjustment I made that wasn't for fit but for preference, was to drop the peplum seam from the pattern’s raised waist to a more natural waist.