Upcoming Projects

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First up, this is a work-in-progress. The pattern is the same Alabama Chanin/Burda mash up with a scoop neck. The fabric is an Art Gallery knit. I’ve made three or four dresses from this brand of knit fabric, and it works really well for me. The fabric is drapable yet substantial.

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This collage of potential upcoming projects is a large part of my print fabric collection. The red piece in the upper left is another batik knit, which will likely become another knit wrap dress. The bottom right is a silk charmeuse which will become a kimono robe. The rest will need to “talk to me” a little longer before I know what to make.

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Finally, I’ll be experimenting to figure out how to use this Alabama Chanin stencil with this turquoise fabric. I’ve got an airbrush, and I need to figure out how to use it.

Scoop-neck Knit Dress

 

This dress was made using the same Burda /Alabama Chanin mash-up that I’ve been writing about. I do these pattern changes because once the pattern fits, I like to stick with it. The basic change is the neckline.

 

The first image is the original wrap neckline (folded down the center front). I copied the wrap neckline from the shoulder seam about 10 inches down. Then I drew in the scoop neckline. The center picture is both necklines layered on top of each other.The final pic is the scoop neckline with the wrap neckline folded down. I tape the necklines on top of each other so that I don’t have to copy the whole pattern to have a simple change.

The next step is to make sure the back neckline matches the new width. I might need a second neckline, which I create and tape on just like the front.

If you would like a reference book with a similar philosophy of adjusting patterns that fit, check out Sew Many Dressed, Sew Little Time.

Knit Wrap Dress – green batik

Here’s another success! I was delighted at how easily this went together and how easy it is to wear.

I used a “mash up” of Burda 7433 and the Alabama Chanin Wrap Dress as described in my last post to make a very cute knit wrap dress out of a batik knit. The fabric is 100% cotton, so the recovery is not springy, but I don’t need it for this design because of the wrap.

 

I had had been tempted to order this fabric on-line in the past, but when I saw it at the Puyallup Sew Expo, I was convinced. Some small bits of the batik resist were still on the fabric, so it was clear this wasn’t a print. I bought another piece of this type of fabric in a magenta/orange print which will make a cute dress in the near future.

Time for Spring/Summer Sewing

 

 

Some of you may notice I took a hiatus. There were life changes, including packing and moving the sewing room, and that created a short term road block to sewing.

But it’s now time to look forward and sew for spring and summer. I tried on last spring’s dresses and decided I needed to evaluate my basic patterns, so I had an appointment with Marla. We fitted Burda 7433.

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While the pattern has interesting collar variations, the front panel can also easily be modified to a plain scoop neck. Every time I use a Burda pattern, the advantages become clear – primarily that the drafting is so consistent among the patterns.

Because I wear dresses almost exclusively, I lengthened this pattern using the Alabama Chanin Wrap Dress as a guide. I added width as needed and then also off-grained the wrap edges.

Off-graining is a process of adding fabric to a free edge of fabric in a garment – these edges tend to not hang straight, so fabric is added to give the illusion of a straight hang. A place to start is adding 1/2” to the width at the waist and grading to blend up toward the bust and then drawing a line to add as much width as needed to the hem (see Carr’s book Couture for more information).  For this project, about 3” were added by the time the line extended to the hem. You can see the addition to the center front piece on the right. This works for jacket fronts, too. (I didn’t take a pic of the center back piece, which was very similar to the AC pattern.)

Then I sewed up a muslin and was happy with the result! Feeling successful was a great way to get back to sewing.

A Little Somethin’ Experiments

As planned, I’ve been working on making the Little Somethin’ Jacket into something I want to wear. Sadly, I haven’t been successful with velvet, yet. Actually, velvet is the reason I haven’t posted in so long. I started making a simple, shoulder princess seam dress out of velvet and was so incredibly frustrated. I had sewn each seam at least twice and it still isn’t presentable. I pinned the seam every 1/2 inch. I did diagonal basting. I resewed seams. Then I abandoned the velvet dress for A Little Somethin’ else.

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Here’s my first attempt, which might get worn. The fabric is a rayon/lycra knit and you can see how the stand-up collar just crumples. It’s not the pattern’s fault; this is all about fabric choice. (Also, I need to get the sleeve length and shoulder seam right.) But I liked the direction; this showed promise. Please note that this is the Little Somethin’ Jacket front grafted on to Marcy Tilton’s short jacket Vogue 9190. I’ll show you how I did that below.

This first attempt was promising enough to use some lovely 50cotton/50 wool knit. Which turned out great!

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I wear this dark grey version all of the time. It’s very comfortable and breathes well. That gave me enough courage to proceed with a longer version (dress length), made out of a wool french terry cloth.

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I’ve only worn this one once, but it worked well – not too hot and very cozy.

My philosophy with sewing has developed into “use what works”, and for me that means taking patterns that I like and re-using them in a variety of ways. For this long version of the cardigan, I used the body from my woven dress pattern (self-drafted – see previous posts), the collar from the Little Somethin’ Jacket, and the sleeves from V9190. Here’s my very inelegant but practical process.

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I used the woven princess seam dress pattern as the basis for the front, and matched center fronts (sort of, the front of the Little Somethin’ is very diagonal, and I explain why below), and matched the shoulder seams. Then I pinned the fronts together, and folded away the excess tissue. Because of the Little Somethin’ front diagonal, I chalked in the front line on the fabric before cutting.  The folded front area is 2.75″, and I added a little off-graining (see Roberta Carr’s Couture Sewing book).

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I like the sleeve from V 9190, which means I need to use the armscye from that pattern, too. I matched the shoulder seams and close to the side seams, pinned the patterns together, and folded away the excess from V9190.

side back sandwich.jpgDitto for the back armscye.

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Finally, I needed to use the upper back seam from Little Somethin’ for it to work with the front collar. There’s not a huge difference, but this will make the collar work better than my dress pattern. When I was cutting, the beige tissue on the left was folded away.

Now all of the pattern pieces will fit together. I used the instructions for the collar from the Little Somethin’ Jacket and the rest of it is simple assembly – sew side fronts to front, sew side backs to back, sew shoulder seams, insert sleeves, sew side seams, and hem.

Finally, since this blog is focused on sewing for a flat chest, I want to point out where the bust dart is in the Little Somethin’ Jacket. See how wide the hem is here?

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I was pretty sure that the dart was rotated to the hem, and you can sort of see that in the photo below.  On the left side, you can see a fold of fabric at the hem, and the diagonal closing is also in part due to the dart rotation. It’s less obvious on the right here, and I think that’s because my arm is sticking out.

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In any case, you can remove this dart if you want to use the pattern (and not graft the front like I did). Essentially, this is a small bust adjustment for a rotated dart. This is the cheater method – fold the dart out:

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If you wanted to do a proper method, this post should help – http://www.queenofdarts.com/2013/03/small-bust-adjustment-part-2.html.

I’m now on a quest to make leggings. I cut apart an old pair to compare it to patterns, and I’m very surprised at how dissimilar the old commercial leggings are to either of the two patterns I have (StyleArc Laura and M7514). My inclination is to trace a pattern from the commercial leggings. I’ll update…

A long jacket (M4394) and a velvet update

I had a plan to make a mix-and-match coordinated wardrobe for fall/winter including a basic dress, a short cardigan and a long over-jacket. I thought this was a genius solution for layering to deal with temperature fluctuations (due to medication) and the weather. Well… plans are changing.

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First, here’s some inspiration for the collar (OOP M4394), which is very similar to my still, much-loved short cardigan. I added this collar (and neckline to match the collar) to my woven princess seam dress pattern and ended up with a fairly classic long jacket.

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This is a dark time of year, so bathroom selfies are going to have to suffice. The length is an inch longer than the dress. I added a drawstring channel at high waist for a little detail and a closure.

The drawstring was pretty straight forward. I marked a high waist line on the inside of the jacket and sewed in a bias strip of silk crepe de chine.  The strip was cut 3″ wide, folded in half and stitched the raw edge to the jacket. Then I folded the strip down to cover the raw edge and stitched again to make a channel.

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I feel like the dark navy is a little overwhelming, but this is a useful piece. I’ll wear it on colder days.

The lesson is that my “genius” plan pf a long jacket is not quite what I expected, and I’ll be thinking about ways to stay warm and feel like I’m not overwhelmed by fabric.

In other news, I bought a cardboard folding That-Table (which is challenging to find, so here’s a link to Amazon) to use for cutting out fabric. I had been using a kitchen island, but then there was some competition for that space. That-Table is wonderful! I can put it up and take it down in less than 5 minutes and I know there is not a chance that butter will accidentally end up on my fabric (which was a possibility when using the island, even if I cleaned the surface).

The table came in super handy as I was cutting out a velvet dress, single layer, painstakingly.

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There was a flaw in the fabric, and I was sure I couldn’t fit all of the pieces and work around the flaw. But, I did! And I was so happy until I figured out that I cut out two left sleeves. It’s a good thing there was a small cut of the fabric available.

 

The Goldilocks Situation

It looks like I might be Goldilocks! My recent makes are too this or too that. And now I’m not sure what to do.

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I had this great plan to work toward – wear a neutral knit cotton dress with a colorful short cardigan and then layer a longer jacket on top as needed for warmth. I’ve got the base layer dresses finished and am happy with them. Next I’ve been working on the longer jacket.

The first one (pictured above) was made from fabric that I thought was a a cotton/rayon double knit. It’s got an interesting sponge-y texture, sort of scuba-like.  When I wear it, I feel clammy. I wonder if it has a significant amount of Lycra or other synthetic content.

The second one was made from a thin cashmere-blend knit. I took a 25 minute walk, wearing it as a layer, and I was bothered by how itchy it was. Bummer! Now my plan is to drape any wool knit around my neck for 25 minutes before I try to make and wear it. If it bothers me during the trial wear, it needs to go. (I wonder if chemo left my skin super sensitive.)

A little more about the pic above – you can probably tell my goal was to determine the best length for a long jacket layer. I sent the image to a friend who said that I looked like a basketball center in the far right. Lol. I’m 5’ 6” on a good day.

Aside from needing a different plan to use the wool knits that itch me, now I wonder what I’m going to do to make a warm longer jacket. I thought merino wool knit was the answer. Synthetics are pretty much out because of the clammy nature of them.

Options that I can think of right now:

  • Go the Alabama Chanin route of two layers of cotton
  • Line the wool with a cotton knit at collars and other places it would touch skin (find coordinating fabrics)
  • Use woven wool that is finely twisted (crepe)
  • Get more wool ponte similar to what I used in the short cardigan project – that fabric is very comfortable.

In other news, I washed the velvet, so once I have a long cardigan, I will start on a velvet dress. Exciting!