Thursday, March 29, 2012

Vogue 1283, revisited.

I wasn't kidding when I said I bought fabric for the second round of this dress when I finished the first one.  This one is two sizes smaller and fits better in the torso but is still loose on the arms.  The dress details are a little lost in the print but I like the fit on this one better than the first.  Instead of steam-a-seam on the hem, I did a narrow hem which made it a little lettuce-y.  It's flouncy, fun, and girly.  I turned the sleeve hems in and stitched in the ditch rather than doing steam-a-seam or a double needle hem, and it seems to be working quite well.

The ruched seams on the front make the print even louder than it already is. 



And the other side.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Meandering with fabric

Sometimes you have a piece of fabric that just opens all options for you.  I bought this piece of wool striped jersey with plans to sew the Burda twist top after I saw it on Allison's blog.  Then when I got it, I wanted a long sleeve top like Jenny's.  It seemed to be everything I wanted, though just days before her post I would have told you that the twist top was everything I wanted.  It had an interesting neckline, and when I traced out  the pattern it even had markings to make lining the stripes up easier.  Of course, because I'd only bought enough fabric for a short sleeve shirt, I couldn't get the pieces for the long sleeve shirt to fit.  At this point, any reasonable adult would have gone back to his or her original plan.  But NOT ME.

I found another long sleeve shirt in Burda 02-2010 with a sweetheart neckline, completely different in every way from my first plan.  And if I had read any reviews (and there are plenty because I am really late to the game on this), or made a muslin (which I didn't because I didn't want to pause in the case that I changed my mind yet again), I would have learned that the neckline is ridiculously wide and deep.  It is so wide that it is almost an off shoulder top.  It is so deep that even a plunge bra won't work with it.  I am not a shy person when it comes to necklines or hemlines, but this is a little bit much for me.  I added lingerie straps to keep things in place.  Lee loves this shirt.

Front.  The lingerie straps pull the front up a little so that the  bustline doesn't fall where it ought to.  The alternative is to show the world my bra, which isn't really an alternative.  So I'll take the bustline in the wrong place.

Back, which fortunately offers more coverage than the front.

I have been sewing a lot but haven't had time to take pictures.  I don't know how everyone else manages to make so many posts!  For me, it's a choice between sewing and putting together a post.

Next up is either a skirt or a remake of the red pants I'm wearing in the above photos.  The pants will be turquoise this time around. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Capsule wardrobes and other planning

Several bloggers I follow posted recommendations for wardrobe capsules, or are sewing a planned capsule.  This is a new thing to me, but it's even got its own Wiki.  I am impressed with their discipline and ability to commit to a plan, but it made me reflect on how my approach to sewing changed over time.  When I started sewing I picked patterns for clothing that I knew I couldn't buy in a store, either because it was beyond my budget or because stores close to me just didn't carry that kind of clothing.  So I ended up with almost all statement pieces and vintage inspired dresses.  This is fine and fun.  It's not so fine when you finally grow up and get a professional job, and need to not just dress the part but try to look a little older than you appear.  My genetic luck (I know some of you will groan, and rightly so) means that people often think I am 10-15 years younger than I am.

I've only recently embraced the idea of a tried and true (TNT, appropriate acronym) pattern, which I now see is a great way to build up a basic well-fitted wardrobe.  I've also realized that a basic wardrobe is just that: button front shirts, pants and skirts in traditional colors.  The me of even 3 years ago would have scoffed at this idea.  But now I like the idea of a wardrobe capsule because it seems like that is just the next step in developing a basic wardrobe.  The formula I've seen is essentially the following, where the tops and bottoms are in complementary colors to allow for endless mixing and matching:
3-5 tops + 2-4 bottoms + 1 dress (optional) + 2 pairs shoes

Pattern companies also think in this formula, but whenever I look at their wardrobe capsules I get stuck in the idea of it being too formal, it being too vacation oriented, or just more of a look than I want to commit to.  Here are a few examples of these wardrobes, that seem to be sewing on a theme.

Vogue 2779.  It's hard to imagine these pieces in fabrics other than the satin, lace, and sequins, but I guess this could be made from linen and jersey for a summery casual wardrobe.

Vogue 8641.  This one IS in linen and jersey.  And I guess made up in satin and linen it would look a lot like 2779.

I like this capsule (Vogue 8679) quite a bit.  The pieces are basic but there's still a statement piece (the jacket). 
But it looks just like this one, Vogue 1132, which has a similar jacket and skirt.  Oh I see the difference: the skirt is longer and the jacket is shorter.  And it doesn't come with a pattern for the shirt.  That's sold separately.

I've never had a wardrobe plan before and don't think I'm going to pick up a wardrobe pattern anytime soon.  As I said, I've always thought in terms of individual pieces.  But a few days ago I took the step towards a plan.  I bought a lime green embossed cotton for a skirt, turquoise stretch twill for a new pair of skinnies, and various gingham shirtings to make some summer shirts and match with the bottoms.  

I have some questions for my readers:
  • Do you plan your wardrobe?
  • If so, how do you stick to your plan?  I've often gotten distracted or end up repurposing a fabric for another project.  
  • How do you keep your clothes from all ending up one color or style?  Or do you prefer that (I'm not one to judge having been on the opposite end of the spectrum!)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Almost perfect shirt

I'm in pursuit of a fitted button down shirt.  I have several shirts I like but they are a bit casual.  I made a comparison in my last post.  This shirt is Burda 10-2009-105, which is fitted with front and back darts and narrow sleeves.  It is also longer than my other dress shirts.  I left the double fold out of the back (I'm sorry I can't think of how better to explain this and can't navigate Burda's website to find a line drawing), shortened the sleeves 1/2 inch, and changed the sleeve vent from men's style vent to an easy bias bound vent.
This is how I wore it to work today.  The fabric is a woven pin, which looks a little hypnotic in these photos.
It tucks in well, I think because it is so long.  I also went a little crazy with Photoshop and did something weird to my neck.

I was really happy with it until I saw this photo.  Lee assures me that shirts do this in the back.

The collar is way too big to wear buttoned up, which is a look I've been into lately.
I am going to make this again, changing out the collar for a smaller one... and then I think I have my perfect shirt!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Quest for the perfect shirt

Thanks, to everyone who came up with ideas for the hooks and eyes problem in my last post... and to all who commiserated!  I tried extending the fly stitching into the waistband, and that helped a little bit but I think that if I sew hooks and eyes on a pant waistband in the future I should redraft it to allow for an inside button.

After the big coat project, I decided to sew something easier and more straight forward.  Do you also alternate your sewing?  I like to do a few easy things after sewing something hard (or something that just didn't work out), and a tailored shirt is one of my favorite things.  I just finished Burda 10-2009-105, which is similar to my favorite shirt (I made it again this winter in white stretch poplin) and I think I may have a contender for a perfect shirt.  Here's a comparison of 10-2009-105 (new shirt) and 09-2009-105 (favorite shirt):

10-2009-105 (new shirt)
  • sleeves are more fitted
  • body is fitted with darts
  • collar is big and 70s-ish, not to my taste
  • hem is super curved, but this isn't an issue
09-2009-105 (favorite shirt)
  • fit is fairly casual but in a light fabric it doesn't matter
  • collar is small and flattering

I think the natural solution is to substitute the collar from one to the other for the perfect shirt.

Here's a photo of the new shirt, and I will try to take a photo of me wearing it to post soon.  It's made from a men's shirting I bought from Gorgeous Fabrics (I think it's all gone, sorry!) and I sewed the buttonholes in a contrast thread.  I got the idea for that from Lee's Paul Smith shirts -- very sharp but still fun.  

Burda 10-2009-105 collar and cuff
Those buttonholes took forever to make because my machine kept choking up on them.  So I decided it was about time that I took my Singer sewing machine and Juki to a suburban repair shop to get fixed.  The Singer broke 3 years ago and I couldn't afford to fix it on my measly post doc salary... I bought my Janome for less than it would have cost to fix the Singer!  I figure now that I am a grownup with a grownup job, it's time to get my Singer fixed.  I am looking forward to having a more powerful machine and being able to use my buttonhole attachment to make fancy buttonholes again.  I actually don't miss serging so much, but it would be nice to have that working again as well.

I am thinking of my next project and have no fewer than 4 things on my mind to sew.  I am thinking of sewing another Vogue 1283 dress but in a size smaller to be more fitted, and I just bought striped wool jersey to either make a boatneck top like Jenny's, or the Burda twist top (Alison reminded me how good this looks in her recent blog entry), a suit jacket, or a fuchsia pair of skinnies.


How to decide?  I guess I should pick something and start cutting.  

Monday, March 5, 2012

High waisted wool trousers

These are Burda 08-2009-105, which I made at the beginning of winter and haven't had a chance to photo until now.  I love how cozy these pants are (heavy herringbone wool, lined to the knees in Ambiance), and the cut is so flattering and office appropriate.  The thing that bothers me, though, after a winter of wear, the hooks and eyes are becoming visible at the front.  I haven't gained any weight around the middle, I interfaced the fabric, and i don't know why this has happened.

Is there some trick to sewing hooks and eyes that I forgot?
Front, 08-2009-105 trouser.  You can see the hooks and eyes pulling here.