Friday, October 17, 2014

New: Tabula Rasa Knit Tunics

Early in the summer I was a tester for this new knit pattern on behalf of my creative friend, Rae Cumbie, and her line of patterns, Fit for Art patterns (read Rae's blog for great tips and insights into her design process)  Back in July, when I changed sizing and went from a Medium to a Small with the darted front,  I made a comfy, stylish summer robe from the jacket pattern. Then in August she and her partner Carrie sent me the finalized version of the new knit tunic pattern.  Now, I will admit that I was very skeptical that the jacket pattern would translate well into a knit version but at that testing day my skepticism disappeared as I watched middle aged women of various shapes and sizes stitch up stylish and flattering knit topics, soooooo much better than the shapeless T shirts that so many others wear.  Once again, like the jacket, what is nice about the pattern is the choice of an undarted or darted front, a shoulder line that rests on your shoulder, not dropped, but a high square armhole that is a breeze to sew.  Since that swingy side panel is everywhere in RTW right now, I made all three of these with it.  I will try the standard straight side later when I want a closer fit knit top for layering.  Ok, enough prelude, here are my three versions:

Tabula Rasa Knit Tunic with Swing Sides

This is an ITY Fabric Mart border print knit and while I was happy, I wanted it slightly longer.

Double border fabric and how I cut out the pieces

Next up was my boho fabric version...a rayon burn-out knit and two different laces, all underlined with powder-dry, a thin, breathable knit.

This nude powder-dry is ages old....back from a Yahoo fabric buying group before we had easy on-line shopping.  I hand basted the front, back and sleeves, thinking that the burgundy lace would be floaty enough on the sides not to need underlining.  Wrong!!  I could see my fleshy mid section right through that lace.  I used an even lighter fabric, a very thin tricot and hand basted that to the side panel lace so that it would keep the lightweight drape but become opaque.  Saved....or rather I saved the public from muffin top views.

Tricot pinned to the side swing panels
No prying eyes here.
Last version is my favorite so far.  Last year Fabric Mart had rayon knits in coordinating colors and sizes of stripes.  I purchased two sets of color ways and this top is one of them.  It's a purple-y blue and black stripe.  I used the largest stripe for the body, the narrower stripe for the sleeves, the solid blue for the swing panel and made the neckline from the solid and wide cut on the bias.  
Tabula Rasa Knit Tunic and infinity scarf
A better picture with truer colors
Auditioning the proportion and placement of different fabrics
Double fabric neckline finish

I had about 10 inches left of the two stripe fabrics so I sewed them as an infinity scarf and I must say I love the cowl much so that I will probably add a cowl neckline to the pattern this fall or winter.  

Last photo is me wearing my first Tabula Rasa Knit Tunic in Quebec City where we got to watch the September "super moon" rise from the 10th floor deck of the airbnb apt. we rented.  More about the trip and souvenir fabric shopping to come later.  

Sew grateful you took the time to read and/or comment today.  

Friday, October 3, 2014

Sewing Retreats Past and Future

Wow, this summer I realized that I have three sewing retreats scheduled within six months.  How much fun can one girl stand?  Whenever I mention to non-sewing friends how exciting it is to attend a sewing retreat, they look at me with barely disguised horror.  "You pack up your sewing machine?" they ask as though it were an immovable object permanently installed in my sewing room.  "Do you all have to work on the same project?" they ask in fear that there's a stern taskmaster leading us in mindless factory-like procedures.  Ah, little do they know that a sewing retreat is an oasis of friendship and creativity, a break from your daily to do lists and a great excuse to be absent from the virtual world.  
In mid-August I attended the first of those three retreats and here's what I worked on while I was enjoying the company of my special friends.  In addition to sewing, I also got time to do some snoop shopping at the Leesburg, VA upscale outlet mall (oh those gorgeous seam edges on Ellie Tahari jackets and tops!) and a summer afternoon walk along the Washing and Old Dominion Rail Trail and then dine out each evening.  Perfection!!
The results, some utility sewing....a new outdoor fabric bag for a folding can imagine that yourself...and then two new garments from my "resource center" fabrics.  

This is my latest Tabula Rasa jacket.Fit for Art Tabula Rasa Jacket  (previous post with my alteration and sizing remarks Jane's Tabula Rasa jacket re-do)  The fabrics are a burnout black silk velvet from Fabric Mart, the black, white and pink paisley bordered rayon challis from Peggy Sagers many moons ago, a scrap of black lace from when Fabric Mart was selling those short cuts of designer samples and a pale pink burnout silk velvet that is barely visible as the front panel piping and as the under layer to the back black lace.
Tabula Rasa jacket with swing side panel

I lengthened the standard jacket pieces by an inch and used the side swing panel, also lengthened one inch.  I used the larger wider sleeve version but ended up narrowing it by 1 1/2 inches.  I don't have construction pics to show since I did this at the retreat and was forcing myself "off the grid" that weekend.  

But I will share that my sewing friends were the ones who came up with the suggestion to put the pale pink burnout silk under the black lace.  I initially chose a gorgeous four ply deep almost fuchsia pink for the under layer but it was too bold and just wrong. 

Burnout silk velvet inside the jacket back
Black lace overlay
Thanks to their great advice I love, love, love this new jacket.  Again, I think it is boho enough to be fun without making me look like I am wearing a colorful circus tent.  My only regret is that I cut the flat piping on the cross grain and I wish I had cut it on the bias.  it is only 1/4" in the finished seam but it slightly annoys me that it wants to stand up at my neck curve.  And yes, I have YARDS of it left so it wasn't like it was a necessity.  

No biggie, just a note for next time.  And there will be plenty of next times for this pattern.  Fall and winter are approaching and this is the casual kind of jacket that I love using for layering when it gets chilly and down right cold.
The second successful retreat garment is this new TNT T shirt pattern, Vogue 8699, 

Vogue 8699
Vogue 8699 is one of the Easy Vogue patterns but one that does have different bust sizing.  I made the turtleneck/cowl version as is last winter but never liked the collar.  It was a little of this and a little of that and couldn't make a commitment.  I removed the collar and surprise, I really like the depth of the remaining scoop neck.  

I had used size 14 with the D cup front for the neck and shoulders and bust line, although I did remove some excess fabric above and below my bust line then transitioned to a size 16+ by the tummy and hip area.  This version is from Fabric Mart, a very lightweight buttermilk type of poly.  It is clammy in humid weather but it works well to test the pattern as a very wearable mock up.  I decided to finish it with a thin woven binding cut from a scrap of brown textured silk kimono fabric, source unremembered.  

This is now my TNT T shirt pattern.  The shoulder princess seam allows for nice fit tweaking.  I plan to use it as the base pattern for a number of those clever Marcy and Katherine Tilton patterns.  I don't want to refit a new knit top when I have one that I have refined already.  Necklines and hemlines and side panels can be changed a lot more quickly than I can re-fit a new knit pattern.  So I was thrilled at the retreat, not so much for the looks of this one but because I could see so many good things happening this fall and winter when I use it as a good base.

One last photo and many thanks for your kind remarks about Lucky's new volunteer job and my return to blogging.  I have lots of blogs to catch up with and look forward to seeing more details about your latest projects.  Happy sewing to all.