Friday, 28 August 2015

Sewing and Literature: A perfect match?

Stash-busting 2015:  Skirt and Jacket

I made this outfit for the Pattern Review contest on right now, "Inspired by a Book".

Inspired by this Book:

The book that I chose has to be my all-time-hands-down favourite read, Blindness by José Saramago. It was originally published in 1995 in Portuguese and translated into English in 1997. I first read this book in 1999 and during my first year of university there was an Honours level course offered on this novel. Sadly, at the time I did not have enough academic credits to take the class and it was never offered again--I didn't have the pleasure of discussing this novel in an academic setting.  

I do recommend this book if you are looking for a good read this summer and haven't yet read it.  Or if you're even looking for any book to read I would recommend that too. Saramago's books are widely available and Blindness is one which has received much acclaim. In 2008, the movie, based on the book, premiered as the opening film at the Cannes Film Festival--but the book is much more entertaining. Saramago uses breaks grammar rules in order to create a sense of chaos that does not translate onto the silver screen as eloquently as his writing. 

The book takes place in a nameless city with nameless characters who are stricken with a white blindness. The doctor who examines the first person to come down with the blindness believes that it could either be psychological, agnosia or amaurosis.  

Since agnosia means there is an inability to recognize objects I chose fabrics that have a distinct texture and could be found or identified by touch. With amaurosis the brain is unable to process images resulting in a loss of all colour. Therefore, I chose to play with two non-colours, black and white.  
White is not defined as a colo[u]r because it is the sum of all possible colo[u]rs. Black is not defined as a colo[u]r because it is the absence of light, and therefore colo[u]r (Mumson).  
I used two clashing prints to represent the coming together of the unnamed characters within the chaos as the blindness takes hold over society. Anyway, I don't want to give anymore of the novel away in case you haven't yet read it. Moving on...

The Patterns:

The skirt was made using OOP Butterick 5790, blogged about here. The pattern consisted of one pattern piece that I had to adjust for the fit. Otherwise, it was easy skirt to sew.

OOP Vogue 8916 provided the pattern for the jacket. I've made a few jackets using this pattern for Mama R and even though I didn't initially consider this as a project for myself, I grew to like it. I like the three-quarter length sleeves on this pattern but thought that having long sleeves would be nice as well. And even though the pattern instructions did not call for it, I chose to underline the jacket with organza and used hair canvas interfacing instead of regular interfacing on the front section piece.     

The Fabrics:

The fabric used for the skirt has already been blogged about here. So I won't repeat myself. There were several fabrics used to make the jacket. The fashion fabric is a tweed that I found at Mitchell Fabrics last year. The jacket is constructed with organza underlining from Mitchell Fabrics and the front is interfaced with hair canvas from Fabricland. The jacket is lined with a polyester lining fabric that I believe came from Northwest Fabrics.

I did find that my choice of fabrics presented a challenge.

The tweed required steam pressing but the cheaper quality of organza proved to be a poor chose at this stage. I thought since it would be in the interior of the jacket I could use up the nylon organza without any problem. I used it on this dress and it was scratchy against my skin. What I didn't anticipate was the challenges of pressing two distinctively different fabric until this occurred when the iron came too close the underlining.

I did anticipate the potential challenge of sewing the shoulder dart through the fashion and underlining fabrics. I chose to handle the darts on the two fabrics separately before basting the underlining to the tweed.

I pre-treated the tweed on the delicate cycle in both the washing machine and dryer before I cut it out. It handled the pre-treatment process well and during the construction process I pressed the seams on the silk setting without any issues. Just the organza (noted above) was a challenge to work with this tweed when it came to the pressing stage.  

The Stats:

Fabrics:   2 metres (Skirt fabric) already priced out here.  
                1.2 metres tweed $24.41 ($18.00 / metre + taxes)
                1.2 metres lining $6.78 ($10.00 / metre - 50% off + taxes)
                1 metre organza $9.04 ($8.00 / metre + taxes)
                0.6 metres hair canvas $4.07 ($6.00 / metre + taxes)

Elastic:    Already priced out here.  

Patterns:  Previously used and already priced out with other projects.


Would you believe that I purchased the fashion fabric for the jacket last year and shortly after this pattern (not in tweed) started popping up in the RTW landscape. Well, that was enough to make me put it away as I didn't want to look like I was copying RTW. I'm glad I'm over that irrational thinking because my jacket doesn't look like anything on the RTW landscape. Even with the minor sewing bloopers where will I ever find an underlined cardigan jacket with pockets hidden in the princess seam. Silly me. Besides this print is still found at the mall. Le Chateau has this print in a ponte knit sitting front and centre in their display case.


I haven't seen any ponte knit in this print at the fabric stores, otherwise I might be tempted to pick up a yard or two.

Happy Sewing (and reading)!

Thursday, 20 August 2015

New Maxi-Skirt

Stash-busting 2015:  OOP Butterick 5790

I'm so thrilled with how this skirt turned out. You'll have to take my word that this really is a maxi-length skirt because I'm photographically challenged.

The pattern:

I've had this pattern in my stash for quite some time, circa 1998. Back-in-the-day when I was a much thinner and younger lass I made the top and skirt from this pattern. And I remember this was a TNT pattern until I gained some weight.  

It is an out-of-print pattern, Butterick 5790. Although it is no longer in my current size, I was able to make the skirt pattern work for my current dimensions. Actually, it was easy peasy. I just took a recently re-fashioned skirt that I made from this dress and used that as a guideline for the hip measurement and then repositioned my pattern piece with a new centre fold line. Easy peasy.  

And yes, I did say a pattern piece. That is all there was, one pattern piece for this "close-fitting tapered, ankle length skirt." It has an elastic waist and I was able to whip it up in no time.  

The Fabric:

I found this bonded knit fabric in a bin at Fabricland last year. I picked it up with no specific idea of what I wanted to do with it and it wasn't until the Pattern Review contest going on right now did I figure it out. All I knew at the time was that I'm quite smitten over this piece of fabric.  

I have no idea of the fabric content. I did pre-treat the fabric on the regular setting on the washing machine and a delicate tumble in the dryer and it handled well.    

And check out my matching at the side seams! Okay, the pattern between the stripes are not a perfect match but I'm pretty stoked with the stripes matching up. I don't think I would have been as successful without the walking foot. The skirt was stitched with the lightning bolt (knit) stitch and the seam were finished on the serger. I spent most of my time matching and cutting out the fabric than I did sewing it up!  

Fabric:     2 metres $11.30 ($5.00 / metre + taxes)

Elastic:    0.8 metres $2.24 ($3.10 / metre - 20% off + taxes)

Pattern:   Already priced out.  

Happy Sewing!  

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

In Sewing News Today...

I bought myself a birthday present. Oh, it was my birthday a couple of days ago.

Isn't it lovely. Fabricland is currently having a sale on their sewing baskets. My sewing table has never looked so organized and tidy. It is even large enough to hide hold my large fabric scissors--love it!  

And yesterday, this pattern came in the mail.

Yeah, I spoiled myself this birthday. I can't wait to get to work on this one. Right now I'm working on my outfit for the Pattern Review "Inspired by Books" contest.

In other sewing news, have you hit the fabric stores lately? They are filling up the discount sections with the summer fabrics and starting to display the fall/winter lines. Biggest surprise is that velvet and stretch velvet has a salient position in the fabric store. Holy Batgirl (RIP by the way), I have velvet and stretch velvet sitting in my stash! Goodness, goes to show you that if you hold onto something long enough it comes back in style. Perhaps a stretch velvet cat-suit? Just kidding.

Well, that is all in sewing news today. I'm off to pick up some elastic for my Pattern Review contest entry. Hope to have it finished soon.

Happy Sewing!

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Book Review: Gods and Kings

Gods and Kings:  The Rise and Fall of Alexander McQueen and John Galliano by Dana Thomas
Published by:  Penguin Press (a member of Penguin Group)
ISBN:  978-1-59420-494-4
Retail:  $34.95 Canada / $29.95 US

American born journalist Dana Thomas' double biography is a book that I wanted to like. I should have liked it just based on the subjects, Alexander McQueen and John Galliano, two creative giants of the fashion world.  

The book cover held so much promise and just like cheap ready-to-wear clothing it failed to deliver. I felt like I was reading a cheap gossip rag. Yes, it appears as a serious piece of investigative journalism but it is just an over-priced tawdry tell-all. It wasn't at all what I was looking forward to reading. Thomas' writing fell flat and and I don't remember ever being so disappointed with a read. Or maybe I feel disappointed that I wasted a gift card on this book.  

I'm not saying don't read it. I'm just saying sign it out of your local library and re-direct the funds towards some gorgeous fabric instead.  

Happy Sewing & Reading!  


Friday, 14 August 2015

This Hoodie Makes Me Happy!

Stash-busting 2015:  Butterick 6253

This was my favourite pattern from the Butterick Fall 2015 release and I have to say that it is one of my favourite kAtheRine Tilton patterns. Can I add that Butterick 6253 is currently on sale via the website.  

The pattern:

This kAtheRine Tilton design is my idea of perfect. I like that it has a hood, pockets and enough ease around my mid-section--perfection in design! The length wasn't my idea of perfect as I have discovered while sewing other patterns that Katherine Tilton does not design for the petite five-foot woman. This meant that I had to do some pattern tweaking. I aimed to shorten the jacket by three inches so I shortened each tier by one and a half inches. I found it odd that there was no finished length measurement to be found on the pattern envelope or on the pattern pieces. I guesstimated this alteration based on the front facing pattern piece. And it worked out fine. The sleeve length was also shortened.

After my very extremely loose fitting jacket I decided to cut a size small with this one. I'm glad I did because I love the fit. I omitted the buttonhole and cord from the hood and opted for a twill tape topstitched around the hood.

The Fabric:

My desire is to make this jacket in the fabric that is found on the envelope photo except not in rayon. I haven't found anything remotely close to the Marcy Tilton fabric in the local fabric stores without any rayon content. And since this is my first attempt with this pattern I thought it would be best to use what I have in my fabric stash. 

Enter the sweatshirt fleece that I used for these shorts. I still had some left-over in my stash, although not enough to complete the jacket. So I mixed it with some black sweatshirt fleece. Both pieces of fabric weren't enough for the jacket but together it worked. The colour-blocking wasn't my initial plan but I have to admit I'm thrilled with how it turned out.

The fabrics have been pre-treated with a tumble in the washing machine and dryer. They did shrink during this process. The jacket was put together with the knit stitch on my sewing machine and the seams were finished on the serger.  

The Stats: 

Fabric:           2.6 metres $23.50 ($16.00/metre - 50% off + taxes)

Twill Tape:    1.05 metres $0.42 ($0.35/metre + taxes)

Zipper:          22" separating zipper $2.80 ($4.95 - 50% off + taxes)

Basting tape:  44" $0.00 (2014 Birthday gift) 

Needle:          New serger needle $1.68 ($5.95/package ÷ 4 + taxes)

Pattern:          Butterick 6253 $13.56 ($19.95 - 40% off + taxes) 

Happy Sewing!

Monday, 10 August 2015

I'm Drowning!

Stash-adding 2015:  Vogue 9135

My goodness when I spotted Vogue 9135 in the new fall release, my jaw hit the floor and I couldn't wait to get my hands on this pattern. I even went and added fabric to my stash just for this project. And now I'm kicking myself because this

My droopy and sad version of Vogue 9135.

does not look anything like this.

Kathryn Brenne's gorgeous version.

The Pattern:

There pattern has a very generous amount of ease. I'm drowning in this jacket. Now, I should have known better since the pattern description reads,
Very loose-fitting, unlined vest and jacket (wrong side shows) has front and back outside casings with ties, flat-fell seams, and stitched hems. B: Side pockets, and front hook & eye closing. 
Somehow, I just assumed even with the "very loose-fitting" description, I wouldn't be drowning in it.  I even thought it would look as good on me as it does the model. Sometimes, I forget that I'm not a skinny, six foot Vogue pattern model. This is extremely loose-fitting on my petite, size 14 frame. I made a size medium. I could easily gone with a size XS. The sizing and length reminds me of kAtheRine Tilton's vest pattern that I made last year.  

I even found that the waistline marking sits a little low on me and if I knew better made a muslin, I would have raised where the back ties are located. The deeply dropped armhole (not my favourite) made it challenging to shorten the sleeve length so I went with my typical amount and hoped for the best. I still had to roll up the sleeves if I don't want to go with the drown look.

The instructions called for a corset hook to hold in the ties in the front of the jacket. I didn't do this since I opted for cording.

I stitched it in place with a little loop peaking through at one end and two ties hanging out the other.

I did use the pattern piece for the ties to measure the length of the cord. I also strayed away from the flat-felled seams called for in the pattern instructions. Instead, I used my serger to finish off the seams. The serging does show on the neckline edge but it really isn't all that noticeable since my thread does match the fabric quite well and the eye is distracted by the oversized amount of fabric that sits on my body.

I do love that this jacket has pockets. And to be completely honest, if I were a skinny, six-foot Vogue model and made a smaller size, I'm sure the sizing would be perfect. 

The Fabric:

I picked up this colourful fabric in the home decor section of Fabricland when it was on sale. It is a light-weight polyester according to the label but I question if there might be some cotton in there by the way it frays, handles heat from the iron and reacted in the washer and dryer.  

I pre-washed the fabric in the washer and dryer.  It handed a high temperature cotton setting on the iron without damaging the surface.  

I should mention that I purchased the recommended yardage on the pattern envelope (2.7 metres) but found that I didn't need that much fabric. I still have 1.15 metres left over. This could very well be that I didn't cut out the pattern pieces for the ties. Instead, I purchased and used cord.

The Stats:

Fabric:    1.6 metres $32.54 ($32.00 / metre - 50% off + taxes.  I only calculated the amount of fabric used for this project, not the total amount that I purchased.)

Pattern:   $22.52 ($33.00 - 40% off + taxes) 

Cord:      $2.71 ($1.20 - 50% off + taxes)    

I'm going to wear it only because I spent so much money on the materials and it does have pockets so this would be good for work. Otherwise, the dropped armholes, much too long sleeves, and bagginess of this jacket makes me feels like I'm drowning in a bad eighties look. Even though I really want to like it, I'm just not feeling the love. Now, what to do with the last bit of that fabric?

Happy Sewing!

Thursday, 6 August 2015

A-line Top / Jacket

Stash-busting 2015:  OOP Vogue 1774

I've been searching for an A-line cut top / jacket. I thought I found one with Butterick 6056. But to be completely honest with all my tweaking and asserting that I was thrilled with the final result, it never was worn in the public sphere and eventually ended up in the donate pile. Enter Vogue 1774.  

The Pattern:

I found this uncut out-of-print pattern at a second hand store for a steal. Even though it is not the typical Vogue pattern size that I currently sew I thought I would be safe since the jacket is described as "very loose-fitting." There is a generous amount of ease in the bust and waist area so I fearlessly went ahead with the project. The top / jacket is a size 12 cut and fit is perfect in the sleeve, armhole, and shoulder area.     

I love that this pattern petite adjustable as well. I petite-adjusted the sleeve length and then shortened it even more. I guess Vogue believes that petite people have long arms. I chose the short jacket length with the long sleeves. But I did not petite-adjust the front and back pattern pieces. I'm happy with the length of the short jacket. If I were to adjust anything on this pattern it would be to re-shape the neckline in the front to achieve more coverage.  

The Fabric:  

I found this white and cream cotton batik fabric at Fabricland last year. It is actually left-over from this dress. The width of the fabric was only thirty-nine inches wide but luckily there was enough for the short jacket. The suggested fabric on the pattern envelope calls for light-weight crepe and silk-like tweed for the short jacket and chiffon and georgette for the longer jacket. Even though my fabric choice doesn't have the same drape as the suggested fabrics, I'm still pleased with how it turned out. I could see this working well in a stable knit as well.

The Stats:

Fabric:           2.5 metres cotton batik $31.08 ($22.00/metre - 50% off + taxes)

Bias Tape:     0.5 metres $0.23

Buttons:        6 - 13mm buttons $2.23

Pattern:         OOP Vogue 1774 $0.30

Happy Sewing!


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