Sunday, July 19, 2015

Donna Karan Shirt


Donna Karan shirt, Vogue 1440

When this Donna Karan pattern came out last spring, I liked this top very much.

Mostly, that is.

From the front, it looks like a fairly traditional button down, sleeveless shirt. But from behind...'s fabulous!

Except that I don't wear sleeveless tops that require a racerback bra.

Then Margy told me about Sleevey Wonders. A Sleevey Wonder is a sleeved version of a dickey.


I bought a long-sleeved Sleevey Wonder in black jersey. At some point, I'll probably get another or two in different fabrications, because I really like it!

Thanks to my Sleevey Wonder, I decided to forge ahead and make the Donna Karan shirt, though there were a few alterations I wanted to make. The basic shape of the shirt is close-fitting through the bust, but then flares to an a-line silhouette. This is not a shape I like on my body, so I made some changes:

  • Removed the a-line shaping to make it more straight.
  • Nipped it in about 2" at the waist.
  • Did an FBA to increase the bust, but removed the long darts from the hem.
  • Did not want a hidden button placket, so converted it to a regular button front.
  • Made the back yoke from an ikat fabric.
  • Didn't want to cover the ikat yoke with the bands, so I finished the yoke differently: instead of bands, I cut a yoke lining from the same pattern piece. Also sewed the sleeve bands to the inside.
  • Reinforced the collar with crescent-shaped, crisp interfacing, and channel stitching to help it stand up, as shown in this post.
Inside of completed back yoke

When cutting the ikat, I placed the collar stand on the cross grain. You can just make out the channel stitching on the under collar.

This fabric, from my stash, is a novelty voile—it's quite thin. I took the next photo in the late afternoon with the sun streaming through. I purchased the ikat in Portland last spring.

I thought that this fabric is the same one I used in this tie front top, but they are actually different. This one has differently sized "dots" and has no metallic.

Do I like this top?

It's ok. I think it's a bit bland from the front—there's just I like it better from behind.

Vogue 1440

Meet Bella!

I am not typically into vintage sewing machines though, technically, I sew every day with a vintage machine. My mother purchased my Bernina 930 brand new in the mid '80s. She purchased it for herself, but I inherited it just a few years later. Anyway, I'm not one of those people who gets excited by vintage Singers, though my very first sewing machine was a very old Singer that had been converted to use electricity.

As a kid, I desperately wanted my own sewing machine and I started saving for one. The Christmas that I was 11, my mother took my savings, matched them, and bought me a used Singer. I was so happy to have my own machine, but there was one little problem. When I would sew, if my right hand or arm were at all exposed, I would get shocked. I had to wear sleeves when sewing and be very careful, because if the sleeve crept up my right hand even a tiny bit... ZZZAP.

I didn't stop sewing, because I was determined, but it was a huge annoyance.

That machine is long gone, so I can't even look up what model it was.

Despite my lack of interest in vintage machines, last January I made the decision to buy a Featherweight. Back when I was into quilting, I had a Featherweight. Later, when I thought I was done with sewing, I gave it away. Yes, I <sigh>

I wanted a Featherweight for the buttonholes, particularly the key-shaped buttonholes. On eBay I bought the buttonhole attachment and I even snagged the coveted, and rare, eyelet template.

I also bought a Singer 221 and sent it off to be painted.

I mailed my machine, insured and well packed, off to Gerald Holmes in Arkansas to be painted Candy Apple red. Gerald uses automotive paints, which works great for these old cast iron machines.

It was an interesting experience. The turnaround on the paint job was 4 months—I knew in advance that it would be several months, as he has quite a backlog, and illness and an injury caused further delays. Gerald did an excellent job, but he is not highly communicative, and he doesn't seem to know about postal tracking—when he mailed the machine back, I had no idea of when it might arrive or whether it was insured.

It was a nail-biting time.

When it arrived, I opened it gingerly and discovered some minor damage—the thread spindle had snapped off in transit. When I contacted Gerald, he immediately rectified the problem, which was a huge relief.

I'm in love.

I've never been into cars, either, but now I get those guys who lovingly polish their vintage cars, because that's how I feel about Bella. I mean, I don't typically name my machines, but this one is special.

So it was a great experience, all in all! (Though I still haven't used it to make buttonholes!)


As you may have noticed, a huge trend right now in RTW is the kimono-style cardigan or jacket. This morning I received an email from Uniqlo and was surprised to see that they are selling women's yukata—lightweight cotton kimonos.

The yukata come in only one size. I was mesmerized by the videos they provide—one on how to wear (and size) the yukata, and the other on how to tie the included obi.

I am thinking I might buy one of these. It could be fun to wear it (as a robe, sans obi) while swanning around the house.

I've actually just finished another garment for Britex, all except for some snaps—I can't locate my stash of snaps. I'm also eager to get started on an interesting piece of fabric I have from Marcy. In fact, I should get off the computer while I have the light.

Have a great week!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

It's a Coat! It's an Accessory!


Silhouette Patterns Swing Coat, #1855

Sartorial info:
Dress: wool doubleknit blogged here
Necklace: felt, blogged here
Bracelet: pewter, purchased last spring on my visit to Hakone Gardens gift shop
Earrings: resin and silver, purchased last March at the Tacoma Museum of Glass in Tacoma Washington (on my trip to Puyallup)
Leggings: purchased from Uniqlo
Boots: over-the-knee style, purchased two years ago at Urban Outfitters

I've made my first Silhouette pattern by Peggy Sagers!

Yes, this IS a coat, but Peggy thinks of it as an accessory, and I think she's right! You can hear this in her own words in her "Spring 2015 Looks" podcast, where she is wearing this coat. She starts talking about the coat at 28:30.

This coat is my version of Silhouette Patterns #1855, made in metallic-coated stretch denim.

This pattern is designed as an unlined, lightweight, swing coat with a back inverted box pleat, French darts, single welt pockets, 3/4 length sleeves with a folded back split cuff, and a wide dramatic collar.

What attracted me to this pattern was the dramatic collar. I really wish that pattern companies would realize how flattering a good collar can be, particularly for a mature woman who might want to draw attention upwards, towards the face. I would love to see more patterns that feature a wider variety of interesting collars!

What didn't work for me on this pattern was the swing shaping with the back pleat, so I removed that. My only other alteration was to narrow the shoulder by 1". Silhouette Patterns use their own sizing system (sizes 1-4 and 5x-8x) and come in cups A, B, C and D. They include finished measurements on the pattern envelope, not body measurements. Peggy's theory is that everyone likes a different amount of ease, so you should choose a size knowing how you like your clothing to fit.

Currently, my high bust is 40" and my full bust is 45". I chose the size 4, which lists a finished measurement of 45-1/2". I cut out a D cup though, in reality I am far larger than a D. I did not do an additional FBA. The sizing, except for the too-wide shoulder (typical for me), was fine. As mentioned, the only other alteration I did was to remove fullness at the hip and the pleat at CB, as I look better in a straighter silhouette.

The metallic coated stretch denim was quite easy to work with, though I did use a silk organza press cloth as a barrier between the iron and the metallic coating. Without the organza, the metallic finish transferred to the iron. But the fabric was otherwise a delight to sew and press. (I just threw the fabric in the washer/dryer before cutting, and it came out fine.)

I had a few minor issues.

Peggy doesn't recommend interfacing, which is rarely used in RTW - her primary influence is RTW. The metallic coated denim I used had a lot of body, so I didn't use interfacing, but be aware that you might want to interface the collar, cuffs and front areas. I would probably interface if I made this again, particularly if the fabric lacked crispness.

Also be aware that the pattern doesn't include a pattern piece for a back neck facing. I should have just drafted one myself, but I didn't, so the raw edge (which I serged) shows at the back neck. I do not care for that sort of finish, so I would definitely draft a back neck facing next time.

The pattern was well drafted, but there is a small problem with the production. The first review of this pattern on Pattern Review warned that it was hard to locate the proper markings for the pleats on the collar. Forewarned is forearmed, so I took special pains to locate the pleat markings when I was cutting out the pattern tissue in a size 4, D cup. Oy. It was almost impossible to read these markings. This is not a drafting problem, but a production problem. I spent quite a bit of time on this and, in the end, I pretty much had to guess. I had the same problem with the pleats on the bottom of the sleeve. Luckily, the precise location and size of the pleats seems to be fairly forgiving, but be aware that it's tricky.

I enjoy watching Peggy Sagers' free podcasts. You can access her back episodes on her website.

Fall Vogue Patterns

Have you seen the new Vogue patterns for Fall? There are some great designs in the mix! I don't have time to do an actual review of the offerings, but I am really looking forward to the next BMV sale to get my hands on some of them, particularly Marcy's coat and pants pattern, and Sandra Betzina's tunic. Sandra's tunic is practically designed to flatter my figure.

Marcy's jacket and pants, Vogue 9140

Sandra's tunic, Vogue 1456

There is lots to like in the Fall 2015 pattern collection!

JillyBe Update

Those of you who know and love JillyBe's blog can't help but notice that she's been quiet in the last year or so. Jillian has been dealing with some serious health issues. She is overcoming them, but she has a ways to go.

When she told me of her diagnoses a year ago (of liver cancer and that she would likely need a new liver), she told me that she didn't want people to feel sorry for her, she wanted them to tell her a joke! Jillian's attitude, which I sometimes characterize as "fiercely positive", has helped her weather the last year in good spirits.

If you'd like to learn more, please read Angels for Jillian’s Liver Transplant.

Birthday Outing

Last week was my birthday. That, in itself, is not newsworthy, but I had a great, photo-less afternoon and evening visiting with two sewing friends: Ronda Chaney, and Patti Ferguson (along with her husband and son). On Saturday, I spent the day with my daughters.

Yes, this is indulgent, but I like keeping track of these outings, or I'd forget the details! :)

Hiking in Henry Cowell State Park

Lunching at Gayle's Bakery in Capitola. Great food! These are my daughter's shared desserts.

Shopping in Capitola's downtown

Hanging at the beach. I was grateful for the mild 75° weather!

Ending up at Harts Fabric in Santa Cruz! (Where I did not buy a thing!)

Have a great week!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Mixed Fabric Button Front Shirt

Sometime last March, I bought a fabric panel from Marcy Tilton. It is long sold out, but the panel was featured on one of her patterns, Vogue 9108:

I mixed that panel with a rayon batik I picked up at the Corvallis Fiber guild meeting I attended last May, and with two quilting fabrics that I purchased at Puyallup Sew Expo (a cotton batik and a Japanese cotton print).

I sewed this fabric Bouillabaisse into Butterick 5526, view C. I started with a size 18, as per my upper bust, and made a few changes:

  • Added a back yoke
  • Added a 1-1/2" bust dart
  • Removed flare from the hip
  • Narrowed shoulder seam by 1"
  • Shortened sleeves by 1"
  • Split the single cuff pattern to use two fabrics
  • Added extra interfacing, in a crescent shape, to the back collar, as per this article. (Thanks to Margy for bringing this technique to my attention!)
Reinforcing the under collar

Finished collar

I used 2 types of interfacings, both from Fashion Sewing Supply: a medium weight fusible tricot (front bands, cuffs, upper collar, and inner stand), and ProWOVEN Sew-in Lightly Crisp Interfacing (under collar and outer stand). The textured black buttons were from stash.
Cuffs in process

mem commented that my stand-up collar had vampire overtones. <ahem>

Thanks to mem for taking these photos! After this week, mem is leaving Google and tackling new challenges. I'll still see her, but she won't be so readily available. Thanks again, mem, and all the best in your new adventures!

Butterick 5526

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Catching Up

It's been a nice long (4-day) weekend, and I did some sewing!

I had the flu last month, and didn't sew for about 3 weeks, so it was nice when the mojo returned.

I had 2 yards of a hole-y denim fabric, which you can see on Marcy Tilton's site. This denim is wonderfully soft and the holes give it an even nicer drape.

I decided to squeeze a tablecloth skirt out of it. As you can see in the previous photo, one edge of the selvedge includes several inches of plain denim, which I used for the waistband. It would also be perfect for the front band of a shirt or a pocket edge.

Shoes: Fly London
Top: Uniqlo supima tee w/ 3/4 length sleeves, shortened about 7"
Scarf: purchased at a local boutique
Wooden bracelets: made by Tad Nishimura (Heather's husband)

We had some lovely weather early this spring, but a cold June, so I did some knitting!

Top: Tessuti Silva Shirt Jacket

This is the Challah Infinity Scarf, which you can see on Ravelry. I used Malabrigo Merino Worsted in rich autumn colors. You can wear it doubled...

or single...

I actually finished a couple other garments this weekend, but don't have photos yet. I abandoned a third garment and, at some point, need to go back and revisit to see if I can save it.

All in all, a good weekend!

Also, for those of you who are familiar with Thai Silks in Los Altos, the brick and mortar closed at the end of June. Their online stores, Thai Silks (retail) and Exotic Silks (wholesale), are still available, but it is sad to see another local brick-and-mortar bite the dust.

Have a great week!