Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Two Sheer but Not Too Sheer....Simplicity 2371

When I was prepping mock ups of various patterns to take to Sarah Veblen's sewing retreat, this Simplicity pattern Simplicity 2371  was one of the contenders for my desired Tory Burch-like / J McLaughlin tunic wardrobe addition.  Tory Tunic  Biscayne Tunic

Simplicity 237, version 1
Simplicity 2371, version 2
The bad old days...
Personally I think the Simplicity pattern photo is atrocious; it reminds me of bad seventies tunic pant suit patterns.....and I know because I recall making one of them and even in those days I knew it was **** ugly. 

Look at the silly small scale lace trim and the kitten heels on a very not kittenish outfit.  It just seems all wrong.  But, now that I have insulted the pattern photo, I have to admit that I am in love with this pattern.  It is exactly what I wanted....a simple summer tunic to wear with straight leg pants or Bermuda shorts.  I normally do a FBA but the shoulder pleats gave me enough ease that it was unnecessary this time around.  I was so thrilled with the fit on the mockup that I didn't even bring it to Sarah for tweaking.  Instead I made one version the very next week.....and then another a few weeks later.  

These first two are from semi-sheer fabrics so I plan on wearing them with a slippery camisole underneath.  I would like to make at least two more versions, in non-sheer fabrics, but was wondering about how to make lightweight, Liberty-like cotton lawn work.  I did ask Sarah Veblen if I should underline this pattern and what would she suggest I use. Using silk organza seems like it would defeat the purpose of the cotton lawn since I am afraid it would lose some of the 'flow-y" effect.  I could also underline it in a solid cotton lawn but again, a little bulkier than I want, and definitely not slippery over my swayback high hip shelf. I really didn't want to line it with Ambiance since that seemed like overkill.  Sarah made a very interesting suggestion.  She thought I should consider underlining the thin cotton lawn with silk chiffon or a light silk georgette.  Hmmmm, I think that would work quite nicely.  If  I ever proceed along those lines I'll let you know what I think.

The pattern does have a facing and I used a very lightweight silk organza as a stabilizer/interfacing to keep the sheer fabric feel.  In retrospect, the second green and blue version should have a slightly darker piece of silk organza since I will wear this version with a dark colored camisole.  
Serged armhole inside
I finished the side seams and armholes with my serger, clipping the armhole seam and "serging on air" as I mentioned in my last post.  All in all a very simple and successful new pattern in my repertoire.  I hope your sewing projects go as well this week. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Vogue 7281, Serging on Air and Summer Reading

It's been humid and wet here in the Baltimore area....which is my excuse for not working on my fitted jacket or sheath patterns from Sarah Veblen's sewing retreat and instead putting my slow-moving sewing energy into less fitted garments.  Here's the result of Sarah's pattern tweaking on an old, OOP Vogue pattern, Vogue 7281.

Vogue 7281
It's a bright eyelet fabric from FabricMart that made the trip back and forth to our Florida condo.  Yes, it came back north with me when we sold our place in the spring and I finally decided to use it or lose it.  Lightweight and perfect for the warm summer weather we've been having.  As a matter of fact, there has been so much rain this spring and summer that our flower beds and flowering shrubs have never looked better in our 28 years here.  
This dolman sleeve design is not the most flattering but I am quite happy with the result.  There are dolman sleeve wrinkles in the back but Sarah and I agreed that they are not overly distracting and are appropriate to the design.

I did use a cool Louise Cutting technique when finishing the inside side seams.  Serging on Air: After sewing the side seams, clip the curved area under the arm almost all the way to the seam allowance.  Then serge the seam allowance together, holding the seam "straight" and "air serging" over those clipped areas.  The seam is clipped and the tension released so there are no pulls on the body of the garment but the seams are neatly finished on the inside so there's no fraying and no need for lining or other seam finishing.  You can see the little open areas in the photo below:

Side seam clipped then serged "over air"

Smooth exterior side seam with no "pulls"
The heat and humidity have slowed down my sewing output but upped my reading over the last two months.  Since my blog is a reading record as well as a sewing log, here are some of the latest reads:
June's book club selection
Steven Greenblatt won the Pulitzer for non-fiction in 2012 for this engaging book.  His tale of the search for lost Greek manuscripts was very detailed and I can understand why the person recommended reading it for our book group.  I wasn't totally convinced that this one unearthed poem, "On the nature of Things" by Lucretius was responsible for the Renaissance and secular thought afterward.  I was glad I read it....and read about its controversies...but not being a Renaissance scholar myself I would hesitate to recommend it unreservedly. 

Since I had to use up plenty of brain cells for that previous reading selection, I gave myself a real "summer beach book" as a reward.  Maeve Binchy books remind me of a grown-up version of early romance novels that I devoured like junk food while baby-sitting in my teen years.  My mother was rather contemptuous of the reading habits of one of our neighbors but I loved settling in for a junk book binge of Emilie Loring novels while I was there.  Maeve Binchy books are more modern but have the same enjoyable outcomes after overcoming adversity and sadness.  Her Irish characters and beautiful west coast setting in this one were reminders of our great trip to Ireland 12 years ago.  This was her last novel and a quick, easy, thoroughly enjoyable read.

I spent my childhood growing up in the suburbs of norther New Jersey and Palisades Park was part of our yearly summer fun.  My mother was all for adventure and I loved the trips with my younger brother and my dad.  I'm not sure it was OSHA approved but I recall riding the Wild Mouse with my mother holding tightly to my tall, skinny self, most likely screaming all the way. As you can tell, I was already primed to enjoy this delightful novel.  Alan Brennert frames his novel around a family whose lives and fortunes are intertwined with the park over four decades.  Description:

Growing up in the 1930s, there is no more magical place than Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey—especially for seven-year-old Antoinette, who horrifies her mother by insisting on the unladylike nickname Toni, and her brother, Jack. Toni helps her parents, Eddie and Adele Stopka, at the stand where they sell homemade French fries amid the roar of the Cyclone roller coaster. There is also the lure of the world’s biggest salt-water pool, complete with divers whose astonishing stunts inspire Toni, despite her mother's insistence that girls can't be high divers.
But a family of dreamers doesn't always share the same dreams, and then the world intrudes: There's the Great Depression, and Pearl Harbor, which hits home in ways that will split the family apart; and perils like fire and race riots in the park. Both Eddie and Jack face the dangers of war, while Adele has ambitions of her own—and Toni is determined to take on a very different kind of danger in impossible feats as a high diver. Yet they are all drawn back to each other—and to Palisades Park—until the park closes forever in 1971.

I enjoyed reading this so much that I've added his first highly praised book, "Moloka'i" to my reading list.

This next read was my choice for the book group to read.  I had it sitting on my book list for quite a while so thought I'd suggest it.  Well, it was definitely not the intellectual challenge of "The Swerve," and there were definitely elements that reeked of romance novel but it was an interesting and seemingly well-researched novel based upon a little known fact of American history.  

From Kirkus Reviews

Long, brisk, charming first novel about an 1875 treaty between Ulysses S. Grant and Little Wolf, chief of the Cheyenne nation, by the sports reporter and author of the memoir A Hunter's Road (1992). Little Wolf comes to Washington and suggests to President Grant that peace between the Whites and Cheyenne could be established if the Cheyenne were given white women as wives, and that the tribe would agree to raise the children from such unions. The thought of miscegenation naturally enough astounds Grant, but he sees a certain wisdom in trading 1,000 white women for 1,000 horses, and he secretly approves the Brides For Indians treaty. He recruits women from jails, penitentiaries, debtors' prisons, and mental institutionsoffering full pardons or unconditional release. May Dodd, born to wealth in Chicago in 1850, had left home in her teens and become the mistress of her father's grain-elevator foreman. Her outraged father had her kidnaped, imprisoning her in a monstrous lunatic asylum. When Grant's offer arrives, she leaps at it and soon finds herself traveling west with hundreds of white and black would-be brides. All are indentured to the Cheyenne for two years, must produce children, and then will have the option of leaving. May, who keeps the journal we read, marries Little Wolf and lives in a crowded tipi with his two other wives, their children, and an old crone who enforces the rules. Reading about life among the Cheyenne is spellbinding, especially when the women show up the braves at arm-wrestling, foot-racing, bow-shooting, and gambling. Liquor raises its evil head, as it will, and reduces the braves to savagery. But the women recover, go out on the winter kill with their husbands, and accompany them to a trading post where they drive hard bargains and stop the usual cheating of the braves. Eventually, when the cavalry attacks the Cheyenne, mistakenly thinking they're Crazy Horse's Sioux, May is killed. An impressive historical, terse, convincing, and affecting

Last selection is one that a friend was reading for her book group.  I wanted to love it but only tepidly liked it.  It's a Gatsby era psychological "thriller" but I found it annoyingly long and drawn out.  I did finish it but sort of wondered why I did by the ending.  Of course, I've had the same response when I've finished sewing some new fashion garment as well.  Oh well, they can't all be winners.
Here's hoping your sewing (and reading choices) are producing more winners than duds.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Sarah Veblen's June Sewing Retreat

Did anyone else have that Y2K feeling on July 1?  I was wondering what would happen when I opened my blog that morning and hooray, it looks like you are all still there and busy sewing away.  Goodbye Google Reader, if you used it, hello whatever you selected instead.  Welcome again if you are reading this through some new blog reader, Bloglovin or Feedly or more places I know very little about and welcome if by chance you are a new reader. Now that the tension has subsided, I'll fill you in on a wonderful event from mid-June. 
I spent two days at Sarah Veblen's latest sewing retreat Sarah's site (yes, the Sarah Veblen of The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting  book reviews ) and all I got was.... three, custom fitted sewing patterns!!!  Sarah scheduled a four day retreat but offers a variable pricing table to fit your schedule.  I originally only had one day available because of some company in town but a second day opend up and I was able to get three patterns fitted and marked in that time frame.

These are currently not much to look at but after Sarah has evaluated each one on your body, she pins in her fitting adjustments and then you mark your mock up garment and transfer those changes to your paper pattern.  Here's the current result....next up these will be transformed into wearable garments fit for my very asymmetrical body.  

Jacket pattern I selected for Sarah's fitting help....with no intention of it being reversible

Look at all those great fitting lines!
I concentrated on closely fitted woven garments since I can generally fit my own knit tops and dresses or looser fitting wovens myself or with the help of my sewing friends in ASG.  But I wanted a very fitted jacket and sheath dress pattern that I could turn to as classics whenever needed and that's exactly what I ended up with at the end of those two days.  

The pattern/picture doesn't make my heart sing but the design and fitting lines are terrific.
The third pattern was strictly a bonus that I had included at the last minute.  It is not a closely fitted top/jacket at all but even in this casual pattern, Sarah's fitting eye led to me adjusting four separate pattern pieces that will work up into a wonderful little wardrobe of lightweight woven tops for summer.  It's a long out of print early Today's Fit pattern that some of you
may still have tucked away in your collection.  

Remember this one?
I brought six pre-sewn mock-ups (or muslins) to the retreat.  What I enjoy about working with Sarah is that I get a very holistic approach to each garment....not just, how to make it fit a particular body but is this a good pattern on your particular body?  
We agreed on tossing two of the mock-ups that I had brought with me and using the collar from another one of them but giving up on the rest of the jacket pattern itself.  That's an awfully liberating thing to do and really lets me focus mentally on making the other patterns work for me.  I just went to look up one of the Simplicity patterns that I tossed and discovered that it is also OOP.  Simplicity 2191  S 2191 was one of the bust cup sizing patterns, a tunic with long or short sleeves and shoulder princess seams.  I thought it had some good potential to be a light summery tunic but both Sarah and I agreed that the lines made it look just dumpy, perhaps too wide a shoulder princess, and wasn't worth the rebuild.  
The next one was a fitted jacket with the same "bones" as the Vogue one above.  It was a Today's Fit pattern and I'd sewn it three different times but never finished any of them. I was never really happy with the result around the upper bust and armscye, despite all the fitting opportunities there.  Sarah agreed that it just wasn't worth the work and I tossed it....but saved the terrific shawl collar technique to use on the Vogue jacket version some day.
Best  shawl collar but otherwise not good for me.
There was another dress that we never got to in those two days but that one can wait for another day. 

I've raved before how working with Sarah on a fitted jacket pattern about six years ago at a similar retreat was a sewing life-changing experience for me.  These two days were filled with the same precision, thoroughness and care on Sarah's behalf as she works with you on whatever projects you choose to bring.  Her gentle, encouraging spirit is such a contrast to my childhood sewing teacher scoldings and criticism adding to my own self-doubt and rebelliousness.  I hope you have a sewing teacher or classes near you that are as much fun and as inspirational.