Saturday, December 31, 2011

Jacket a Month Project and 2011 in Review

I have been enjoying the inspiration and useful tips on Gigi's blog Behind the Seams jackets of 2010 posting for years so it's my pleasure to complete a year long project that was inspired by her...and the other marvelous seamstresses on Stitcher's Guild who also took up the challenge.  Now my dilemma is that I know next to nothing about photo editing on my MAC so I can't present these in a cool collage.  But here are my 12+ jackets and my thoughts about this project:
                                        Simplicity 3884
Jacket #2 was a sample jacket that I couldn't show since I was testing the Tabula Rasa jacket that was going into production later this year.  But I put it in my count since not only did I have to sew a complete jacket, but I also wrote up notes about the instructions.  My second one shows up later on this page.
Cape S vest
                         Vogue 8136
                        Stitch and flip Simplicity 3884
                        More Simplicity 3884
                          Simplicity 2603

                           Pamela's Patterns Draped cardigan
                        Tabula Rasa Jacket
                         Draped Front Cardigan
                          Draped Front Cardigan
Draped Front Cardigan
                          Vogue 8674
                          Simplicity 2313
Vogue 8483
I found this project to be a challenge in the full sense of the word.  Even though I'm rather well acquainted with my body and common alterations for it, I still make a muslin for every new pattern.  It's a process that I appreciate but also find so exasperating.  Lots of muslins for these jackets meant tedious marking and pattern alterations which turned out to be good discipline for me to practice.  And now I have a few more TNT patterns in my repertoire for which I am very grateful.  So my dislike of muslins and especilly of pattern alterations is diminishing...although I would still love to pay someone to do this part for me:-)

Favorites of the year:  Magic Pencil skirt
                                   Simplicity 2364 knit top
                                   Simplicity 2313 jacket

Today marks my first full calendar year of blogging and I've had some random thoughts while looking over my web album for this post.

1.  Blogging makes me conscious of keeping a record and that's good.  When I think I'm a lazy slug while the world is full of creative seamstresses churning out designer gowns each week, my little blog reminds me of my own sewing progress.  It's why every health regimen recommends some form of a food diary as a way to recognize your successes and analyze what gives you hang ups.  

2.  What a pain it is to remember to take pics and get them posted....but a picture is worth a thousand of my meager words.  I'm inspired now to learn a little about simple photo labeling and editing now that I truly see the value of good pictures.

3.  I love  being part of this global family of sewing bloggers many of whom would never open one of my posts but who keep me smiling and enjoying creativity even when I don't feel like sewing.  I don't write as many comments as I would like (and I'm sure someday I'll just open a blog and be able to dictate my awe and appreciation to the writer) but I enjoy knowing that there's a thread of connection among all of us.
The rest of the tally for 2011:
20 skirts
2 window coverings
6 placemats
2 nightgowns
2 embellished sweaters
12 knit tops
1 man's shirt
10 dresses
2 aprons    
5 scarves     
random gifts and charity sewing projects      

Now it's time to finish packing for a picnic at the beach  and last sunset of 2011 followed by fireworks.  Of course, living in a retirement area in Florida means that the fireworks are at 7:30 pm and even staying and chatting on the beach with our friends still means we'll be home by 10:-) It's a wonderful way to end the year.  Hope that your new year's is a delightful one as well and that 2012 is full of creativity and inspiring sewing projects.  

Vogue 8483

Vogue 8483
Pattern Description   Unlined, above hip or above knee length jacket has front extending to collar, princess seams, raglan sleeves in two lengths and asymmetrical closing with buttons and purchased cord for loops, stitched hems and topstitch trim. 

Pattern Sizing  8-24  Terrific size range.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?  My version is a combination of the short jacket sketch with the long sleeves of the photo.

Were the instructions easy to follow?  Relatively easy directions although the collar edge sewn tot he sleeve and back might present a challenge to new sewers.  Don't worry, those messy inside edges will be hidden by the facing.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?  I love these open collars that can be worn up or folded down.  I like the slightly asymmetrical design although I didn't button my jacket up so high so the asymmetry is not as obvious.

Fabric Used  A very lightweight silk tweed from Fabric Mart that wrinkled when I looked at it....but did press very nicely for sharp edges.  I underlined it with a very soft silk organza and that slightly improved the hand.  I used medium weight fusible interfacing for the facings and collar which saved the jacket structure and added an ambiance lining.  Next time I will select fabric with slightly more body and firmness.  I like the structured version of the green jacket sketch more than the drapey color photo which looks a little messy and worn to me.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I did a muslin and made several major changes to make this look better on my body.  I raised the back neck1 1/2 inches total and added back darts to keep the center back on the fold.  I did a FBA but also folded out 1/2 in the front panel.  I cut a size 12 at the neck, shoulders and underarm and then worked out to about a size 16 by my high hip. I'm quite narrow on the front of my body but have a quick tummy and high hip to account for circumference.  I added 1 inch length to the jacket and sleeve hems.

I used oversized snaps for closures with a hand embroidery starburst design on the front where the closures are.  I also tacked the neckline and lining facings together at the very back to maintain their stability together.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?  I'll be making at least one or more versions of this jacket.  I like the idea of a short sleeve summer unlined version to throw over a sleeveless dress or top.  I'd also like to do a fringed version but would make sure to pre fuse all my fabric beforehand to give it some weight.

Conclusion:  Once again, an OOP pattern that is new to me.  Seems to be my sewing pace....let the patterns and fabric age nicely until they are eventually destined to meet.
Two more styling versions:
Back collar folded down

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sewing JAM # 14 in Spurts

I'm writing this post in spurts in between pressing open my latest jacket facings....and letting the section dry out on my pressing tool before moving on to the next section.  I'm an impatient person so this part gets me distracted and scattered.  Perhaps writing about the project will keep me more focused.
Jacket #14.  Wow, that surprised even me.  Now, remember that the "jacket" in 2011's project is any third layer.  Some of mine are multiples and lightweight, not heavily tailored jackets at all.  
Tomorrow I'll post my pics of the year in jackets but here's the one under way today.  
I'm sewing up another new to me pattern, Vogue 8483 (now OOP, no surprise since I'm  always late in the fashion game.)

The fabric is a very lightweight silk tweed which feels almost like linen.  Fabric Mart, of course.

It looks more substantial than it is so I underlined the entire jacket with silk organza.  I used silk organza from my collection but even it is quite lightweight and did very little to change the hand of the fabric.  

I was hoping to give it some more "oomph"  but it seems to merely have done some stabilizing.  There's mid weight fusible interfacing on the facings and collar and also ambiance lining so it's working out in the end.  I do believe that this large collar would benefit from a slightly firmer fashion fabric next time.  

Sewing in spurts is usually a good tactic for me but this time it slightly back fired.  I made a muslin and pattern adjustments back in late October (thank you again, Michele, for your advice and help in selecting this pattern to add to my repertoire) then cut it out and did the silk underlining right before we left to come down to Florida.  Wonderful, that means some the tedious work is already done!  Whoops, I forgot to pack the leftover fabric (trust me there's plenty of it up north) Why would that matter?  Well, as I got close to finishing the jacket this week I wanted to try out some buttons and buttonholes....but have no scrap fabric to use.  Nor do I have any scrap fabric to make the suggested loops.  So what to do about a closure?  Aha, another sewing friend's idea to the rescue.  At one of our neighborhood ASG group meetings one of our friend's presented a RTW idea she had seen.  Snaps are definitely "in" right now but sometimes a snapped up garment looks a little strange without an exterior closure.  Instead of a button, one designer (sorry my memeory can't say which one although it might have been Akris, one of my favorites) did a subtle embroidery in the closure area.  
I pulled out my embroidery floss collection (why do I still have embroidery floss when I haven't done counted cross stitch in several decades?)  and mixed together three colors 

then stitched a small sunburst design where the snaps will be sewn.  
Pressing is almost done so now it's time to settle down with handsewing and a TV show tonight.  We're re-watching Downton Abbey in preparation for season 2 starting in about 10 days.  
Hooray, last jacket of 2011 almost done!  

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Have A Holly, Jolly Christmas!

To those of you who celebrate Christmas, I hope yours is full of joy, peace and happiness.  And to my other readers, I hope December 25 is a day to enjoy with friends and family.  
My family had wonderful holiday celebrations together.  This is one from more than 50 years ago.  You can't see the color but I'm wearing a green taffeta dress with black velvet trim and some delicate lace.  Isn't it remarkable the textile memory that sewists have?  I loved that dress and it's a shame that I grew so quickly as a youngster and had to keep my mother busy making me new Sunday clothes all the time.  
I'm pretty sure that I am ecstatic to be opening my Barbie doll in this picture, something I doubted I would be getting but that great Santa came through again.  
My parents are both gone now and this Christmas would have been my dad's 90th birthday.  Fortunately I have happy, silly and sweet memories as well as loving friends and family with whom to celebrate this year. Here's hoping that you have something in your life to make your heart sing, today and every day of the new year.

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Pocketful of Instructions

Mr. Lucky and I are a little slow getting the Christmas decorations up this year but I did arrange this collection in my sewing room a few days ago.  Check out the cute stitching wintertime theme.   I purchased these figurines at JoAnn's more than a few years ago and I find it so disheartening that they seldom have any sewing themed ornaments among the other junk cheap c--p merchandise they sell. Oh well, I'm just glad they still have their terrific pattern sales and carry Burda patterns.
But a JoAnn's rant is not the purpose of my post today.  I've been doing a little catching up on sewing closet projects.  I've made my favorite jeans jacket pattern, Kwik Sew 2895  about a dozen times in recent years.  I don't use the chest pocket flap as shown on the pattern picture. First of all it's not easy to get that flap to stay flat and secondly it's next to impossible to get it to lie flat on a curved surface.  Instead I often use simple or decorated patch pockets.  On Wednesday I pulled out one of my favorite patch pocket designs which is in the Louise Cutting By Popular Demand pattern. By Popular Demand I enjoy this pattern for its great collar technique, wonderful sleeve and back yoke seam matching and cute pleated patch pockets (which come scaled according to the pattern size you use.)  But the jacket itself was just too boxy for me.  So I have modified my Kwik Sew pattern with all of these elements but forgot until yesterday to copy the pocket.  Louise's pattern instructions are so wonderfully detailed and practical that I swear Mr. Lucky could sew a beautifully finished garment...if he could figure out how to thread my machine.  I won't steal Louise's thunder but just give you some hints as to her step by step instructions to get this nicely rounded  cornered patch pocket onto my jacket.  
Her patterns are like having a friendly sewing teacher guide you through a project.  I may not use her patterns for garments but I use them for wonderful sewing techniques.  
Two recent updates with her pockets:
a Kwik Sew jacket

a stretch brown denim Magic Pencil skirt with a mini cargo pocket...perfect for some cash or a cellphone.
Switching gears, the last book I've read is by Ivan Doig who writes about his native Montana and the West in large, historical novels.   This one was a bit slow to read since he's an old-fashioned writer with elaborate prose and an emphasis on character development and historical research.  But I enjoy his books for their focus on the homesteading of the West and the peoples who came as immigrants to that land. This one is the last of a trilogy started with the beautiful book, Dancing at the Rascal Fair.  Now it's 1924 and while much of the action takes place in Montana there are sections involving the Harlem Renaissance, WWI, the Buffalo Soldiers and Prohibition.  My biggest mistake was reading this late at night before bedtime. Doig's prose deserve careful reading and I'm not sure my nocturnal habits give it its due.
Off to do some cooking for the entertaining we have planned in the next few days.  Hope that you have some enjoyable activities to look forward to in your life as well.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Dancing the Night Away

Thank you everyone for sharing your opinions about the lining for one of my skirt selections for the holiday club dance invitation.  You all made me really approach this small design question with new eyes.  I was leaning towards the black lining since it made the maroon lace flower pop and matched the maroon of the RTW top so well.  But Nan, Michele and Linda, I went with your choice, the hot pink.  Part of the reason was that it isn't very nice lace in the first place so treating it "so respectfully" with the grey or black lining just sort of showed off its inferiority.  The hot pink does make it look a bit more over the top and tongue in cheek.
So here's how the lace skirt looks with two tops I plan to wear to some other, quieter holiday gatherings:

Kwik Sew skirt 3231 

But KC and Irene, you were right, it's the purple that won for the club dance last night.  The purple twist top looks the best on me and Mr. Lucky was complimentary so I know it was a good choice. 

 We had a delightful evening with our generous, thoughtful friends and danced our feet silly. This simple 8 gore skirt is so fun and swirl-y for dancing.  

Here's hoping your holidays are full of fun festivities and loving people as well.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Testing Linings

"A holiday dance at your club?  Oh, yes we'd love to join you.  This Saturday night, terrific.  Thank you so much for thinking of us"  Hang up the phone and my next thought, yikes what am I going to wear?   
My life is rather casual these days, to put it mildly.  Up north I was in the corporate world more than a decade ago and had clothes for business and also for evening entertaining.  Not so much anymore.  So when our dear friends extended this invitation yesterday I scrambled for a little to decide what I would wear/sew for this weekend.  
Last year at the wonderful New Year's Day sale at Dillard's dept. store I bought myself two dressy tops for just such a possible holiday future invitation.  I have another one that I bought about four years ago which has served me well with dressy black pants through some holiday parties and gatherings.  But this is going to be a dance at their lovely club with a band that we enjoy dancing to so very much.  Time to get a skirt project going.  

I am deciding between these three tops.  I love the look of the purple twist top and have a perfect piece of purple crinkled rayon with which to make a skirt.  So here's one idea although not particularly Christmas-y.
RTW top

Purple is exact match for the RTW top

First choice for the burgundy lace
Too fussy for the glitter fabric
Here are the other two tops I have to wear, both deep burgundy: 
Next is 
this cheap very inexpensive piece of holiday lace that I had already cut out for my favorite Kwik Sew 3231 8 gore skirt.  It needs a lining and it isn't chic by any means but I like the glitter of it and I'm leaning towards this project.  Now this is not couture sewing happening here but either one will make a fun skirt for dancing at a delightful holiday celebration with friends.  
I'll show you all the possible lining choices I've been testing this morning.  I'm leaning towards the black; what do you think?
dark grey lining

hot pink lining
black lining
Now that you've formed an opinion, please tell me what you think
You can also join me in a "blog hop" started by my friend, Michele.  blog hop pics at bottom of post

My pic is awful but it posted before I could fix it.  Sorry, Michele, this link stuff iw way too new for me.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Fabric and Pattern Organization Continues

How do you organize your creative space?  I'm fortunate enough to have an entire room to devote to my sewing hobby interest compulsion  love affair.  As in all love affairs, there's wild romance and abandon in the beginning but after a while it's usually necessary to settle into a more routine, regulated and more organized manner of living.  That's why I've slowly abandoned my wild fabric, button, notion and pattern buying sprees and am becoming more organized and judicious in the use of my creative space and time.  Wish I had learned these habits earlier in life; they would have made many areas of my life less prone to unnecessary drama and angst.  But regrets are a topic for another day.  Today I am celebrating my newly organized closet of fabric and patterns.

I've tried several fabric organization methods over the years and this one a slight variation on all of them.  I did the organize by fabric type...woolens, silks, knits, etc.  Then when I got caught up in the SWAP (sewing with a plan) fervor I reorganized by color families.  That would definitely have been a useful method....especially if I ever actually completed a SWAP project!  Turns out the main advantage of that SWAP fervor was to buckle down and create about a dozen TNT patterns.  Since I'm not working any longer I don't need the coordinated wardrobe of my working days but I do appreciate having patterns that I can just pull out and get instant sewing gratification in any given week or so.  So what does this mean for my fabric organization?  This time I'm doing a combination of those two main styles....fabric by type and also by planned garment intent.  Let me take you on a tour:

I made quick labels for my plastic bins with some free graphics from The graphics fairy  She has some lovely vintage sewing graphics that would be wonderful craft projects for a sewing theme.  I'm thinking of mod podging some of them onto canvas as artwork.  Here's  a wonderful tutorial that I came across on my newest obsession, Pinterest:  my Pinterest pin for a photo canvas project

My closet doors are painted and drying in the garage so soon this new organization will be hidden from view.  But I feel calmer inside when I can get to projects and materials quickly and easily.  Isn't there some awful statistic out there about how much time we lose looking for misplaced items?   I'll take more pictures of the rest of the room next week and ask your opinion about some of its design and organization.  In the meantime, hope your sewing projects are bringing you joy and peace.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Sewing Room Reorganizatio, Stage 1

Hello again, lovely sewing friends.  I'm coming out from under piles of fabric to reclaim my sewing space.   There's been heavy lifting, fabric sifting and fabric shifting going on in my FL sewing room for the last week.   Mr. Lucky did most of the furniture moving and then painted my sewing space from top to bottom.  No more 80's peach border and peach paint.  Now it's a very neutral creamy beige, same as our guest room, with sparkling white trim.  Isn't it delightful how much freshly painted trim can just brighten a room?
It was also an opportunity to handle each piece of fabric and decide if I was ever really going to turn it into something wearable.  I have been doing these type of assessments in my life in the last decade and it was very difficult at first.  I was drawn to that fabric or craft idea with all the good intentions in the world to actually use it.  But there are only so many hours in the day and I have to acknowledge that I have many interests in life but just not enough time for all of them.  I've always joked about finally giving up tap dancing lessons on my bucket list of things to do but now I'm giving up polymer clay buttons and jewelry, purse making, scrapbooking and several other ideas for which I have purchased supplies and books over the years.  I'm now acknowledging that much as I love flowing designs from Louise cutting and the Sewing Workshop on so many beautiful sewists around the globe, they're not really part of my daily style.  Goodbye to beautiful linens, tencels and a few washed rayons (ok, some I just have to keep around.)  
Here are a few in progress pictures:

That's my fabric storage closet emptied out.  Patterns are in the plastic drawers.  They too will be culled but that project is not as urgent.
It's a tall closet since we have a cathdral ceiling in this room, which is over the downstairs garage.  
Fabric and dogs.  Keep both the dogs but make decisions on that fabric.

To keep my sanity, I did need some real, not just virtual sewing in my life while this project was happening.  The Goodwill donations a few weeks ago included bout a half dozen peairs of capri pants so now I've cut out an equal number of those pencil skirts that I just can't stop sewing.  
Both moleskin fabrics that don't need a lining.  

Ok, back to more sorting, shifting and an additional skirt or two.  It's breakfast with our dogs and dogpark friends tomorrow morning and now I have somethng new to wear.  
Hope your weekend is a wonderful one, wherever you may be.