Monday, March 21, 2011

The Sewing Workshop eShrug

Talk about fast, fun and functional -- I got the eShrug pattern download this afternoon, printed, sections put together using a paper cutter and a glue stick, traced onto Pellon pattern ease, figured out the fabric/layout, cut out, sewed four seams and voila!  Done before the sun set.   It looks great over a blouse, a top and even this Tosca Dress.  Sewing is great therapy for me but I was just too tired to pose for photos this evening.   Today was a beautiful and warm spring day so perhaps we can do that tomorrow when the sun is shining again.
 eShrug over CLD Ebb Blouse (L) CLD Relax a Little shirt belted over SW Tosca Dress (R)
I left the edges raw and they curl nicely
Worn over another Tosca Dress

Sleeveless Jackets?

How many of these do you have in your wardrobe?   I really hadn't thought about it until I watched this fashion video by Jess Cartner-Morley, the UK Guardian's fashion editor.   How to dress: Sleeveless jackets - video

I posted about restyling the jacket with the huge sleeves into a sleeveless jacket in February.   I wore it as a layering piece to keep warm at the Atlanta Sewing Expo the second day and got many complements on it.

The Guardian video got me thinking -- my Relax a Little tops are not waistcoats or vests, but sleeveless jackets.  Here's my latest one belted over the Sewing Workshop Tosca Dress I made in January.

By Jess Cartner-Morley's definition, the Of the Moment tabard is also a sleeveless jacket.   This is a sheer linen and a longer jacket gives the illusion of height.

Still a classic, I made this sleeveless jacket many years ago from the OOP Shermane Fouche pattern and it still looks current styled the right way.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Latest version of the Relax a Little Top

Here is the one I worked on today sans buttonholes/buttons that I will put on tomorrow.   The difference between this one and my first Relax a Little top is that it is 6" longer and I used the larger pockets and placed them lower on the blouse.    This one is in a woven black/white pima cotton shirting that looks gray.    I love it belted. The fabric under the top is the sheer viscose abstract that I bought from Louise at the Atlanta Expo.   I also bought the coordinate in linen.   You can see the fabric detail in the photos below.

 I enjoy the journey of fine garment construction and sewing.  When I'm finished I have a unique garment of the quality that women pay hundreds of dollars for at high end stores.    I visited the Neiman Marcus Last Call store while I was in Atlanta last week.   The manager recognized me from my last visit, and complemented me on my outfit.   When I told her I sewed everything I was wearing,  she said she thought I was wearing a top designer label - nice!   Today I finished construction of a lovely sleeveless shirt with a yoke using the Relax a Little pattern by Louise Cutting.   I worked on this top for two days.    The inspiration for my latest top was Louise's shirt (photo below) sewn in a fine black Tasmanian wool that she had at the Atlanta Expo.     She said she cut the shirt 6" longer so that it could be worn belted if she chose to.

I have enjoyed all of the possibilities of this lightweight wool/silk plaid shirt I made when the pattern was first issued, so I knew that I had to make a longer one. 
Here is a photo of my technique for even top-stitching using a Shurtape masking tape on my machine.  This also shows you the detail of the black and white fabric.

Here is the Viking left edge top stitching foot, designed for Viking by Louise when she was a Viking dealer in Florida, that I use to edge-stitch the collar band.  I believe that Louise Cutting's patterns are drafted to achieve the most perfect collars.  The markings and comprehensive pattern instructions enable you to easily achieve perfection.    It's not fast sewing, and I sure make lots of mistakes because of the neuropathy in my fingers.  That's why I have the lit magnifying glass attached to the table beside my sewing machine so I can rip out the threads and sew it right.   But perfection never is fast.  

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Ch@nel Jacket Look Using a Loes Hinse Blouse pattern

Click on photos to enlarge
I don't like UFOs, so today I finished this fun and interesting jacket that I made using the Bergman Blouse pattern and some ideas from Chanel RTW that I started and wrote about in February.
Hem is mesh from Casual Elegant cut into strips
 I used a combination of steam-a-seam 1/4" and stitching to apply the mesh strips and hem the bottom piece.  I eased up the band around the neckline since the mesh is flat, then stitched at the edge of the sparkly bands.  This makes it stand up at the neckline which I think is pretty.   There are many possibilities to wearing this, including putting a black camellia pin at the neckline where it ties.   I can leave the front bands hanging, tie them or stitch them up.    Here are some of the ways to style and wear this look that are never boring.     Larger photos and other views on the Bergman Blouse and modifications Flickr Set.
With a sporty plaid skirt and 4-ply silk tank

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Atlanta Expo Report

Sample garments - (L) Relax a Little top (R) new Discover Something Novel vest over 2x4 top 
We drove the 3 hours to the Gwinnett Center - Duluth GA exit on Wednesday afternoon in the fog and rain.   I could see the French Broad River way over its banks from I26.   Lots of rain and then clouds, high winds and cold temps in Atlanta.   It was in the 40's and the wind made it a lot colder.   Thursday was chilly, cloudy and very windy - no fun and the need to layer, layer, layer.   I took lots of layering pieces just like I wear in the Asheville NC area.    My husband and I spent about two hours on the expo floor both Thursday and Friday.   Although the sun came out on Friday, it was still windy and chilly.   I usually like to do some snoop shopping as well at Discover Mills so I spent an hour at Neiman Marcus Last Call on Thursday evening.   Nothing really interesting there to report on this trip.   We returned home from the expo yesterday,  leaving at 3 pm prior to the Atlanta Friday outbound traffic.

We got to the expo around noon each day, trying to avoid long lines.   I walked around a bit and spent most of my time at or near Louise's booth to meet friends, check out and photograph the great sample garments with many variations of her patterns, and fabrics, or sat down in the back of the fashion show/presentation area.   Always the restless one,  DH did his tour of the expo and brought me back reports of what he thought was interesting.

Louise knows what fashion sewers want and had a great selection of fabrics as promised.  She always brings many pieces that appeal to my fashion sense.    I selected a couple of truly exquisite coordinates from Caroline Rose in a large abstract animal print in linen and matching sheer viscose to the left of the black eyelet in photo.    The butter color in the fabric matches my new Discover Something Novel pants too!
Here's the link to the Flickr Set of photos taken at Louise Cutting's booth at the 2011 Atlanta Expo showing all the exquisite fabrics, sample garments and people.     Here are some highlights -
Cream Pure and Simple coat with no collar. Pattern pieces were taped together to cut in one single piece - no pockets
Louise with 3 variations of the Anything But Ordinary Jacket
I enjoyed getting out and greeting the friends I've met over the years at the Expos, mostly at Louise's booth.    Thanks to all you classy ladies who took the time to talk to me.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

On my way to the Expo with my Discover Something Novel Pants and Vest

We're packing up to drive down to Atlanta this rainy day.    I finished the vest yesterday but with my DAR meeting and then physical therapy in the afternoon, I was just too tired and it was too dark to take photos.    I hope to see some of my friends at the Gwinnett Center tomorrow.   Please stop and say hello if you see me on the Expo floor with my husband and my walker.

I haven't sewn a pair of pants since last summer so this pair from Louise Cutting's newest pattern were the first.    I compared the fit of the Easy Ageless Cool pant that I sewed four pair of, and used the size small with 1" removed.    They have approx 4 inches of ease which is what I like.   Louise's pant draft definitely has the elegant fit without the excessive amount of ease that shouts "clown pants".    Better to see the garments on a real person vs the hanger.    

I chose a stretch silk seersucker from Michaels Fabrics in a neutral tan for the pant.    It has a nice hand for this sort of pant.  BTW, this is the same fabric I used for a tunic from Louise's Stars in Heaven pattern.     It took me one day's session to check the fit,  prepare the pattern and cut the pants out, so then I sewed them up the next day.    It's hard for me to stand at my cutting table for the time it takes to lay out and cut a pattern, so I have to break it up.     The numbness from the destroyed nerves in my legs,  and lack of muscle control in my feet makes it difficult, but not impossible to control the foot pedals of the machines.   The only problem I had was being able to feel the elastic in the casing so it wasn't twisted, and be able to pull it through since I have problems with sensation and don't have a lot of strength in my fingers.    I can do it, but it just takes me longer than it used to these days.  In the photo above, my hand is on my bookcase for support, not just the pose.

I used a cotton fabric with a brushstroke for the vest, using both grains of the fabric and motifs.    Since the lower bands and collar are rectangles, I just measured, clipped and tore the fabric pieces for those.   I then decided the placement of the backs and the front sections, and cut them out.    Doing it that way made for very little fabric thrown away, and tearing is easier for me than cutting.

When he took the photos, my husband paid these two new pieces the ultimate complement, saying they look very "Saks Fifth Avenue".

More photos on the Discover Something Novel Flickr Set.