Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sew Many Seams: Vogue 8136 in Progress

Knit muslin of Vogue 8136
Princess seams make me feel like a queen.  Yes, it's true.  Once I realized that I had some curves on my rectangular body, then I discovered the flattering appeal of princess seams.  This will explain my ongoing fascination with jackets that have plenty of seaming opportunities.   Last summer I pulled my Vogue 8136 muslin of this jacket and lo and behold, it has all the princess seams a girl could want.
Vogue 8136 was one of the early patterns produced by Vogue under Sandra Betzina's Today's Fit brand.  Despite being exactly the market for her patterns (middle aged, thicker and fluffier than in my youth) I have had little success with these patterns.  When I had made the muslin for this pattern, I followed the short version A with the little pleats around the high hip...WTH?  It looked awful on me, little pleats fluttering at my widest spot.  So I tucked it into that "muslin closet space" and ignored it for a number of years.  Last summer I pulled it out for the final decision and guess what, I love this pattern!!  As a matter of fact, I was just about ready to order a very similar pattern from Canada's Trudy Jansen designs.  I wanted a jacket that I could make in double knit, boiled wool or stable fleece.
I was hoping that this red knit would be a wearable muslin but there are too many problems with this version.  First of all, although I love the color, the knit is a little flimsier than I would have liked.  In retrospect, I should have stabilized all of it with knit interfacing, not just the facings.  Secondly, for the very first time I had problems with my Snapsetter and these snaps are broken and just wrong.  Lastly, it still needed some size tweaking.

All those things said, why do I like it so much?  Love the shoulder and armscye front seams (although the side armscye is quite oversized and needed almost 1/2 taken in from size C)  Love the back seams with lovely gentle curves.  Wonderful collar, terrific easy method for getting a shawl collar without those finicky square corners.  Also love the collar dart underneath the collar to make it sit closer to the body at the narrow upper chest area.

Why didn't more people make this one up?  Well, I do think the pattern drawing makes this look like a ring leader's outfit.  I also think those tummy pleats were a terrible design decision.

Vogue 8136, JAM #3 in progress:

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Organizing Sewing Patterns

Notebook of skirt pattern envelopes
 In addition to a huge fabric stash, I have a large pattern collection .  How do you organize your patterns?  I  came up with this system a few years ago and it seems to serve me well enough.  I separate the outside envelopes from the pattern tissue and instructions.  Those envelopes I keep in binders with labels:  Dresses,  Jackets, Lingerie, etc.  Then I put the pattern tissue and instructions in quart plastic bags and file them in a storage cabinet by pattern company and numerical order.  Generally this is how a fabric store would organize things: look at the catalog for a pattern you want then go to the drawer to locate it.  Of course, oversized patterns and Burda magazines are the exception to the rule but I have fewer of those to keep track of in the collection.
Drawer full of patterns in plastic sleeves

I used to keep a notebook of sewing projects, making notes each time I sewed the pattern.  I did find this enormously helpful as I started sewing more fashion sewing projects.  Today I don't maintain this notebook procedure as rigorously.  I'm more careful to make a fitting muslin each time and have an adjusted pattern that I can trust.  I also have a better number of TNT patterns that I know fit me and only adjust some design features (collars, sleeves, front edges)  And now that I am blogging more regularly this blog and the pattern reviews are good reminders as to what adjustments I made and lessons learned from each pattern.

Jalie 2788

  My sewing yesterday was focused on items I found in the "unfinished project pile."  I made Jalie 2788 into a navy knit sample dress back in October before making the final version in brown  Jalie twist top into a dress posting.  The navy is too dark a color for me to wear regularly as a dress so I cut it off and made it into a sleeveless top.

I should be working on the March jacket a month but found a tweed bias skirt already cut out yesterday.  So I'm going to work on this skirt and "get 'er done."  Since we've got a major bathroom remodel project going on down the hall (and discovering all sorts of surprises when the cabinets came out) I've decided to focus on simple projects this week.   Next week we should have those surprises resolved and I'll be able to focus on a more challenging sewing project.

Want to see some before pics?  We had a large master bath with huge mirrors and a very yellowed un-used arcylic jet tub.  Big changes coming.  No master bath tub (there's a bathtub down the hall) and double sinks along one wall plus no more bulheads looming overhead with ugly flourescent lighting.   Surprises, you ask?  Well, one sink had a slow leak going on and the other wall will have to be re-sheetrocked since a pipe edge is 1/2 " too wide into the room.
Notice how the old sink was crunched into that corner.
Bye bye yellowed acrylic tub (or planter box,whichever you prefer.)
Good bye bulkheads

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Back from Vacation and Working to Get My Sewing Mojo Back

Best. Trip. Ever. We're just back from 2 1/2 weeks of hiking and visiting the South Island of New Zealand. I was hoping for the trip of a lifetime and this one exceeded every expectation. Our wonderful guides, John Knox and his sister-inlaw, Sandra Knox, (both Christchurch residents) took us to the most beautiful locations, from seacoast to glacial fields to high mountain ridges. Each day the scenery was more breathtaking than the previous day and our eight other traveling companions were more fun and interesting to get to know. Food was fantastic (ooooh, the lamb, the venison, the desserts!) and our weather was unbelievably wonderful. The New Zealand people were energetic, proud of their wonderful country and determined to help Christchurch and its people rebuild. I did not want to come home.

Since this is a sewing blog, there must be some sewing connection, right? At dinner the first evening, John sat to my left and asked a terrific "get to know someone question." "If you were at home, what would you be doing on a Thursday?" Well, let's face it, after the dogpark, maybe some cooking, I'd most definitely be in my sewing room working on a sewing project. So right away, first night, there I am talking about sewing.....and discovering that John has his own sewing machine and does outerwear repairs and some sewing for his hobbies. Of course my delightful fellow women travelers heard part of this discussion and so we spent the next days comparing sewing experiences, pattern fitting, quilting, needlework and all the fun things that come from exercising our creativity.

I was quite happy with how my sewing wardrobe worked out for the trip.  The knit tops were just the right weight for the late summer evenings and the Saf-T--Pockets cape/shawl pattern was perfect for a light evening cover up and on the plane trips as well.  

Now that I'm back home I'm a bit overwhelmed with other life projects and finding it hard to get back into my sewing frame of mind, particularly for a jacket project.  Our master bathroom is being demolished and replaced starting tomorrow and then we leave here and head north in less than six weeks.  The sewing room is a mess so that's where I'm going to start.  I used to think that I could work effectively in a chaotic space but experience has shown me I was wrong.  I like some order around me so that I can focus on ideas and execution.  No specific project to mention today but I will work on one this week.   I miss the design and sewing process too much to be away from it for long.  It calms me and delights me at the same time.

Now for just a few more pictures:
Hiking up the Fox Glacier Valley
Dinner at the Millbrook Resort
Glenorchy Nature Walk