Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Striped Bouclé Coat


Hey! It's Shams of Communing with Fabric with another garment made from a beautiful Britex fabric! For this project, my assignment was to choose a fabric from the Wool category. I quickly settled on this beautiful bouclé, Coat-Weight Black & Winter White Wool Blend Bouclé (Made in Italy). It's 80% wool and 20% polyester.

I absolutely love this fabric! If you know bouclé, you know that it's more loosely woven than most wool fabrics, and it can ravel. And, yes, this fabric ravels, but that means that you can use it to make fabulous fringe! Its content is mostly wool, but I did not find it to be scratchy. If possible scratchiness concerns you, order a swatch.

I've been inspired by recent Chanel collections (and, of course, Chanel is famous for their use of bouclé). The 2018 Spring show was held recently in Paris. If you watch just the first few minutes, you'll see wonderful bouclé dresses, tops, pants, and coats featuring long fringe:

This fabric is perfect for one of these garments! I wanted a long coat with fringe at the hem and sleeves. To preserve the drape-y nature of the bouclé, my coat is unlined. It also has no interfacing or underlining. I had no trouble sewing this fabric, but here are a few tips if you are new to bouclé:

  • Since bouclé ravels, avoid giving it that opportunity. Use patch or inseam pockets, rather than welt.
  • Choose a pattern with fewer seams.
  • Bouclé often looks mostly the same on both sides, so MARK the right side of each pattern piece! You can use tape (such as painter's tape), or safety pins, but I use two straight pins arranged in a plus sign. I like to live dangerously. ;) (Do you want 2 left sleeves? If not, mark the right side!)
  • Once you've cut the pattern pieces, use a light touch. Don't over handle it. (Some people immediately overlock the raw edges with a serger, but I don't. If you do serge, be careful not to distort the edges.)
  • Stabilize seams, especially horizontal, curved, or diagonal seams, such as the shoulder and neckline. I stabilize with 1/4" cotton twill tape. (I bought an 800 yard bolt years ago and it's likely to last for the rest of my life.)
  • Contain the raw edges. As soon as I finish a seam, I contain it, in most cases with extra wide, double-fold bias tape.

    Did you know that this tape has a right side and a wrong side? The "right side", the side that faces you as you sew it, is just a tad more narrow, as you can see in this cream-colored bias tape:

    The slightly longer underside increases the likelihood that it will be caught by the machine needle. I find it's easier when I extend the tape so that it's slightly longer than the seam, and hangs over beginning and the end. I trim it down later.

    I move the needle position closer to the edge of the tape, but this isn't strictly required.

    Finally, I whipstitch the bias tape to the body of the coat. This is an optional step, but it gives the loosely-woven fabric more stability:

For the pattern, I used one of my TnT (Tried 'n True) patterns, Butterick 6328:

Butterick 6328

I successfully used this pattern for another Britex project, a Burberry-inspired coat dress. Using a TnT pattern means you don't have to spend time altering for fit—you can go straight to playing with the design.

I still spent time dithering on exactly how I wanted this coat to look. Some of the options I considered but didn't use: black sleeves, no trim along front and neck edges, fringe on the armholes, fancy (embellished) trim (instead of plain), bias fringe around the pockets. This pic shows the result playtime:

Besides the changes from the last time, I made some additional style changes:

  • Lengthened to mid calf length.
  • Outlined the neck, fronts, and armhole edges with a textured wool-blend, doubleknit fabric purchased at Britex. This fabulous fabric, alas, is not on their website.
  • Added self fringe to the hem and sleeves.
  • Closed with 3 toggles, purchased at Britex.
  • Added oversized, lined patch pockets.
  • Cut the sleeves on the bias. This means I don't have to match the stripe across the body, but that's not why I do it. I do it because straight lines that extend from arm to arm (the entire width of my body), creates visual chunkiness and emphasizes my width. The diagonal lines of the bias sleeves break it up a bit, creating a more flattering line.

Making self fringe

Here are a few tips if you want to replicate the self fringe:

  • I cut strips of fabric, along the selvedge, 3-1/2" wide. I used the selvedge because it is more stable, though this isn't strictly necessary. You could stabilize this edge in other ways. The selvedge edge is sewn to the coat. These are the strips I cut for the sleeves (the selvedge edge has the white seam):

  • I cut the strips along the grain. The cross-grain is not as pleasing because the warp threads are uniformly thin. The weft threads are more varied. This pic shows cross-grain fringe:

  • I use the blunt end of a substantial needle to ease out one or two threads at a time. I pull the threads from the center of the strip, as I find that works better than pulling from an end. The threads are less likely to break, but it also causes less distortion to the ends of the strips.

  • These two loops are the next to be pulled:
  • The strip for the bottom of the coat is ready to be applied:

  • Right sides together, I stitch the trim to the sleeve with a 5/8" seam. Once I open it up, it hangs like this:

  • Until I turn the raw edges up and secure:


I'm starting to pull together my wardrobe for Japan, and this coat may come along.

A few more pics:

That looks like an in seam pocket, right? It's a carefully applied patch pocket. I spent time dithering on whether to outline the pocket with fringe, but decided to stick with a cleaner line.

I like that the bust darts are placed precisely inside a black stripe

I purchased three of these toggles at Britex. I placed one near the top, another at my full bust, and the third at the waist. To make them less obvious (and preserve the clean line of the coat), I placed each one in a black stripe.

Did I mention there's a fair amount of hand sewing in this coat? I find hand sewing to be very therapeutic, and bouclé is wonderful for "absorbing" the hand stitches, but you don't have to construct it that way!

Thanks to Britex for this wonderful striped bouclé! I purchased all other supplies.

Friday, September 29, 2017

This is a test of email delivery


Most recent blog post of the chiffon topper, here.


I've been told that emails of my blog posts are not being delivered, so I'm testing. It might be a problem with the length of the posts, so this is a shortie. Thanks for your patience!

(I plan to delete this blog post eventually. You are welcome to leave comments, particularly if you have any insights into the problem.)
Update:

I've been looking into this with the help of my friend, Kathy. The last email that successfully went out was on December 6th. It's been broken since then. We are investigating whether it might be related to the large size of my blog posts.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Chiffon topper (my guilty pleasure), AIF 2017, Degas and Millinery, and more!


It's been awhile and there is much to discuss!

Contents


Chiffon topper

It's time to come clean and admit my guilty pleasure.

I LOVE chiffon and chiffon-like fabrics, such as georgette. Especially crinkle chiffon because, well, you know...texture. I am a bit baffled by my love of chiffon because I am not a fan of many feminine fashion details, like ruffles, bows, Peter Pan collars, stilettos, or light pink.

I have amassed a sizable collection of chiffon fabrics. I prefer prints, ombre gradations, and border prints, over solid colored chiffon. Last spring I made a Paisley blue silk chiffon duster. I've worn it a number of times, but I haven't been completely happy with it. I'm not quite sure why.

I purchased this chiffon when I visited the New York garment district in July 2016. It was my first and only visit to Paron Fabrics before they closed, and this was the only fabric I purchased.

I was inspired by the Zandra Rhodes pattern, Vogue 1547.

Pretty, huh?

I loved the skirt of this pattern, but I wanted to make some changes:

  • Eliminate the underdress.
  • Eliminate the back zipper. (I live alone, and for years I had frozen shoulder in BOTH shoulders. I reject back zippers, unless they are purely decorative.)
  • Make the bodice less fitted.
  • Use a CF opening (instead of the zipper).

I decided to merge the skirt from Zandra's pattern with Vogue 9427, a simple cardigan.

Alterations and modifications

I started with a size large cardigan (size 16-18), and a size 20 skirt (which fit the bottom of the top). I made numerous changes, especially to the cardigan.

  • Wide back adjustment, adding 1" (total 2").
  • Broad back adjustment, adding 3/8" (and a dart on the shoulder, in addition to the dart at the neckline in the original pattern.
  • Lowered dart, and increased by 1-1/2".
  • Forward shoulder adjustment, 1/2".
  • Rounded shoulder adjustment, 3/8".
  • Split the skirt to create a CF opening.
  • Omitted the sleeves.
  • Finished the 8+ yards of hem and CF opening with tiny micro hems.
  • Finished the neckline and armhole openings with 1" self bias strips, folded in half and pressed.
  • Closed the front of the bodice with elastic button loop tape and 22 tiny buttons from Britex.

Process pics

I sewed the elastic button loop tape...

...and the 22 tiny buttons by hand. (Both purchased at Britex.)

I used the tiny micro hem that I love.

The final pass

I measured and it was something like 8 yards of hem total

I cut 1" bias strips to make self bias trim to finish the neckline and armholes

The skirt

The skirt on this dress is a circle skirt (including the 4 corners of the skirt), but it's not your typical circle skirt. Rather that cutting the waist hole in a circle, it's cut as a narrow oval. I love this design, because it throws the fullness of the skirt off to the hip, rather than distributing the fullness evenly around the waist. I blogged about this effect back in 2009, in Draping Circle Skirt Fullness, complete with some rather ugly (but effective) sample photos.

Pardon the condition of this pattern. My cat venge-peed on the cardigan pattern, ruining my version with its extensive alterations. He didn't manage to ruin this pattern, though I quickly tossed it into a corner, out of peeing range, so it's a bit wrinkled.

OOPSIE!!

I spent a lot of time on the bodice and the skirt. I fully hemmed the skirt, and finished the raw edges of the bodice, before joining them together. I was feeling hopeful.

I joined them together and tried them on.

UGH.

I don't usually sew garments with a waist seam. And this is why.

The bodice and skirt were sewn straight. Off the hangar they look straight. But on my body, with its uber boobs, it's not straight! Even though I increased the bust dart with an FBA, this looks pretty awful. Dumpy, even.

I asked Ann Smith to help by pinning it up. She did, and it was better but, after carefully removing the seam and re-sewing, it still didn't look great. It took me 4 or 5 trips from the mirror to the machine to tweak it. I raised the entire seam, and it's no longer straight across my front, since my curves affect how the bodice hangs.

It's NOT perfect, but it's better! I can live with it now.

See where the armhole ends? That shows you how much I typically have to remove on a Big 4 pattern. This pattern is designed to have a sleeve and that's where the sleeve ends. I usually remove 3/4" to 1" before attaching a sleeve so that it lands in the correct spot on my shoulder. But, as a sleeveless topper, I like that it's a bit extended.

A circle skirt (including the corners), but the waist is cut as a narrow oval

So much simpler on the back, where I don't have bust curves

I love the swishie-swishiness!

I also love that it's not so tight that I have to button/unbutton all those little buttons. I can just pop it on and off over my head.

Once again, before and after tweaking the waist seam

I wore this topper to work on Tuesday and it's fun to wear!


Artistry in Fashion 2017

Last weekend was another great Artistry in Fashion! The guest speaker this year was Sandra Betzina, who talked about the 10 most common mistakes sewers make. (You can read more about her talk on the Cañada College Fashion Dept blog.) She brought books, videos and patterns to sell and had two racks of her garments—one in her talk and one in her booth outside. I had been meaning to buy All New Fabric Savvy, and this gave me a great excuse.

I also learned that she's changed the subscription model for her site, Power Sewing. You can now subscribe for $6.99 a month to have access to over 250 video programs that are 30-60 minutes in length.

It was a great talk! Sandra was funny and shared lots of into.

That's Sarah Bunje in the foreground; too bad I didn't get a pic of her great outfit! She made the necklace and sells them on Etsy

Sandra showing one of her very cute toppers

And, of course, the shopping was good, too!

I've been admiring these necklaces since Margy bought a silver one three years ago. I finally succumbed and bought a white one. These necklaces are made from deodorant balls. They are quite lightweight and will be great for travel

I've already worn the necklace to work

This safety pin necklace had to come home. I've worn it to work, too!

I also bought some pieces from Winnie (pictured), of Eccentric Designs, but I was so amused by her necklace made from contact lens cases!

Another booth featuring beautiful jewelry

The button lady

I found some mother of pearl buttons

I bought a few buttons. The post card is a hologram and is attached to a button carved as a skeleton. You can see a video of the holographic effect on Instagram

The classrooms in the fashion department are set up with student work. I was particularly impressed by the work in this little bolero! The back and front are both different and both beautiful.

I also saw some friends!

With Jane Foster, who has a sewing school in Walnut Creek

Michelle of Paganoonoo Designs

I'm sorry I didn't take a lot more photos, but I get so involved and I forget!


Exhibit: Degas and the Millinery Industry

The Legion of Honor in San Francisco has been hosting an exhibit that I've been meaning to see. I finally got there at the very end of its stay!

I made this plaid wool dress last winter using a Britex fabric.

I bought this gorgeous hat from my friend, Sue Krimmer, a couple years ago.

The exhibit, Degas Impressionism and the Millinery Trade is a tad misleading. Many other impressionist artists were also featured. Along with the paintings and prints, many period hats were on display. I mostly took photos of the art, which called to me more than most of the hats.

Let's start with the hats!

This was one of my favorite hats. This is the front of the hat...

...and this is the back! (You wouldn't have guessed, right?)
Caroline Reboux
French, 1837-1927
Woman's Hat, ca 1904-1905
Woven straw and dyed cotton flowers
"The labor intensive process of flower-making involved treating the material, typically silk or cotton, with flower or gelatin to improve its pliability, and then carefully cutting flowers and leaves from it. The material was often cut in layers to allow many flowers to be created simultaneously. Shapes were then punched into the flower by hand using a mallet. The flowers were dip-dyed, also by hand, and often several times to achieve the desired hue. Next they were shaped, scored, and crimped, and then secured to their intended hat by wire or stitching."

"This whimsical Seussian hat was my favorite in the whole exhibit!
Camille Marchais
French, active 1854-1922
Woman's hat, ca 1895
Silk plain-weave and silk-velvet flowers and leaves, and metal wire
Masses of blossoms frequently appeared on hats in the 1890s. Maison Camille Marchais, maker of this example, was one of the most renowned artificial flower and millinery shops in Paris, famous for creating flowers so lifelike they could be mistaken as real. A story from the newspaper Le Figaro tells of a Marchais bouquet that was ruined after accidentally being placed in a vase of water."

There were also beautiful paintings featuring a millinery theme. I took photos of just a few.

Renoir, Girl Seated with a White Hat, 1884

Degas, Madame Dietz-Monnin, 1879

Renoir, Young Girl with a Hat, 1890

Degas, The Conversation, 1895

Louise-Catherine Breslau, The Milliners, 1899

Renoir, Young Girls Looking at an Album, ca. 1892

Georges Jeanniot, At the Milliner's, 1900

Renoir, Pinning the Hat, ca. 1898

Degas, Mary Cassatt, ca. 1880-1884

Degas, The Millinery Shop, 1879-1886

Hats in the gift shop!

And more hats!

In the outdoor cafe

Enjoying my purse with the giant-ass zipper (purchased in Milan)

It was a beautiful day at the Legion of Honor!

Legion of Honor


Video: Sandra of Phyllis Boutique

About a month ago I purchased a "scarf/necklace" from Sandra at Phyllis Boutique in Palo Alto. On the same visit, Margy bought a similar piece. After returning home, I couldn't quite make it work the way Sandra did (and neither could Margy), so I went back a couple weeks ago and asked Sandra if she would mind if I made a video of her styling it, so I could share it with Margy and others.

She graciously agreed.

Here's the result. You can see what a delightful, creative force Sandra is. (And please tell me my voice isn't that weird.)

Enjoy!


Seattle

I think these knits were for sale...

I was in Seattle a week ago (was it only a week ago?) for a mostly-work trip. But I managed to squeeze in a visit to two fabric stores and one yarn store! On Monday night, my colleague Kathy and I took Lyft to Bad Woman Yarn, where I found some leather "buttons." Actually, they are clever screws!

Pretty cool, huh?

We then caught another Lyft to Pacific Fabrics. I had heard of this store, but I hadn't realized that there are FOUR of them in the Seattle area!

We visited the Northgate location, which also has a sizable yarn collection (for Kathy). What a great fabric store! It was very much like the old independent fabric stores that we used to have where I grew up in Santa Rosa, CA, like New York Fabrics, and House of Fabrics. The salespeople are knowledgeable, friendly, and it's easy to spend a lot of time there. They have a particularly nice home dec selection and juicy flat fold tables. They are very active on Instagram.

I am not sure how I missed all FOUR of these stores when I visited Seattle in the past! They are located in: Bellevue, Northgate, Bemerton, and Sodo Seattle. Sodo (South of Safeco Field) houses their headquarters.

I will definitely be back!

On Tuesday, I had plans to lunch with Maris, of Sew Maris. We had met briefly at Puyallup, but this was the first time we were able to hang out. After lunch, she mentioned needing to run over to nearby Nancy's Sewing Basket and did I want to go.

Did I? Did I???!

Lunch at Google Seattle with Maris

She had a car, so I grabbed my purse and off we went!

She looked fabulous!

I enjoyed petting the fabrics... It rained during our visit, so it was easy to think "fall."

I purchased the wool on the right

Thanks, Maris!

Overall, it was a great (but quick) trip...even at work.

I mean... puppies! Colleague Jacob brought his new puppy to work. Cause... PUPPIES. (Jacob knows that Kathy and I like puppies. Especially Kathy. Bailey normally spends the workday in doggie daycare.)

Meet BAILEY! She liked Kathy

Bailey liked Terry, too. So nice to have a foot warmer as you work!

They call these "breakfast cookies." 'Cause...you know, they're healthy. ;)

Bye, Seattle!


Now that I've completed the chiffon wonder, my next project is a wool boucle from Britex. I am also planning a trip to Ashland for Design Outside the Lines, and a trip to Japan later this fall. It's a busy time!

Have a great weekend, and join me on Patti's Visible Monday and Style Crone's Hat Attack!

Friday, September 1, 2017

A Shacket for Shams


Contents:


Linen Shacket

I recently attended a gathering where two sewists had made Katherine Tilton's Shacket, Butterick 6491. Some of you know Ann Smith, one of the sewists, and her shacket was great! I had the pattern in my stash, but seeing hers moved it waaaay up in the queue.

Katherine Tilton's Shacket, Butterick 6491
It looks great, right?!

My version is more shirt than jacket. I used a beautiful printed linen purchased from Emma One Sock. The only difference between view A and view B is the pattern layout. View B is designed for border prints, so requires more fabric. I made a size large (16-18), which is typical for me. I added an FBA, which gave me a bit more needed width. View A calls for 3-1/2 yards of 45" fabric, or 3 yards of 60". I had 2-1/2 yards of 52" fabric.

Why do I keep doing this to myself? I managed to squeeze mine out of the yardage I had with only small scraps left over. Here are my changes to the pattern:

  • Shortened the 3-pc sleeve by 1".
  • Cut some parts of the shacket on the cross grain to make the layout work with less fabric.
  • Performed a vertical only FBA. (In other words, I added no length to the front, I removed it.)
  • Performs a forward shoulder adjustment.
  • Performed a 3/8" rounded back adjustment. (My first!!! Oh, the glories of aging.)

I purchased the unique buttons at Britex, on sale for $1 each!

OK, it's done. I can wear it, but I'm not sure that I like it on me. Notice how unbalanced the hem is? I made the pattern as designed, and it's nowhere near that wonky on Ann or anyone else who has made it. I assume that, because my hips are so narrow, they don't hold the hem up as designed. I should have fixed it, but I didn't notice the extreme wonky-ness until I took the pics. I'm not sure I like it well enough to fix the hem.

I decided to experiment, once again, with the width of my pants legs. The next pic shows the shacket with my chiffon/challis pants and was actually the first pic I took. I'm wearing the pants backwards, just for the photo—so you only see challis and no chiffon. I also wore heavier jewelry in this pic. When I saw the resulting image, I decided it might work better with a narrower pant and lighter jewelry.

So... I don't know! I love the collar, I love the linen fabric, the sleeves are good...

I'll wear it a few times and see if it grows on me.

Butterick 6491


Artistry in Fashion 2017

See that necklace in the lower left? Scroll down to see me wearing it. :)

This year Artistry in Fashion (or AIF, as we call it), is on Saturday, September 23rd and the guest speaker is Sandra Betzina. If you are anywhere near Redwood City, CA that day, you should come!!!


Bakelite Party and Other Stuff

I must say that Instagram has opened up a whole new world for me. I've been able to speak directly with designers and fashionistas that I admire. I've commissioned wearable art and jewelry, and I learned about Bakelite parties that happen 10 minutes from my house!

I attended a Bakelite party a week ago. I learned so much from some serious collectors and met some really nice, really passionate people!

I also came away with some fabulous bracelets. :)

Some of the bracelets for sale, organized by color

I took pics of what some of the other shoppers were purchasing (or at least trying on)

This shopper was visiting from Australia!

I purchased the 3 bracelets closest to my hand. I already owned the ribbed black bracelet, which is Lucite, not Bakelite.

The best thing that I learned?!
One husband watched me struggle getting bracelets on and off my wrist, over my giant knuckles. My hands were becoming more scraped and more sore. He asked why I wasn't using a plastic bag. What?!?! Why?!?! Because I had never heard of that trick! Another husband gave me one of his scented bags for picking up dog poop.
OMG, it worked like a charm!!!


We're having a spate of hot weather here. It was 97° F in San Francisco today, which is most unusual! It gave me an excuse to wear my Eccentric Designs necklace, made from old eyeglasses. (I prefer wearing it on days that I don't wear an overcoat.) I purchased this piece from Winnie (of Eccentric Designs) at Artistry in Fashion two years ago. Winnie will be there again this year! Just sayin'. :)

You can't really see in the pic above, but I'm also wearing these caged earrings, also purchased from Winnie!

I had put these shoes away, thinking I wouldn't wear them again until next spring, but I retrieved them today! I enjoyed this view while talking on the phone to DD1, who returned from Thailand last night.

Ciao, Thailand! Until next time!


This is a 3-day weekend in the U.S. Stay cool, and stay safe, wherever you may be! (I'm thinking of the folks in the flood zones, and am grateful that my work matches charitable donations.)