Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Holiday Fashion Sewing

Hi everyone -   Here's the view from my sewing room I shot after I finished up with the eShrug in a sparkly knit by Juicy Couture from G Street Fabrics.    It's the beginning of the first snowfall in the lower elevations.

After finishing this project,  I got dressed to go out, and we went out for a late lunch at a favorite restaurant in west Asheville,  Nona Mia Italian soul food.    We've been customers, and friends since they first opened on Patten Avenue, but in August they moved to a wonderful, larger venue off Haywood Road.   Try them when you come to Asheville.    They also have the most fabulous and authentic gelato.    They make their own bread and sausage, serve local grass fed meat and they don't take reservations.

Afterward we went to visit our son's photography and photo lab business on Biltmore Avenue just south of the I40 Winston Pulliam bridge overpass.     It was in the high 30's, snowing and sleeting but no accumulation since the ground and roads are warm from the 60 degree days we've been having until today.    I didn't wear anything I've sewn but it was a very good day to wear my black Revillon bat-wing mink jacket and hat.

Here is the eShrug in the light gray with silver knit that I made.   This is the kind of fabric and garment that you can dress up or down.   Click on the photos to see the larger photo with the detail.   I also bought this same knit in copper/brown and black on black colors.   I'm making these for Christmas gifts.   I know my nieces will love getting and wearing one of these.    It takes about an hour to cut and sew one of these up.   Just the shoulder seams,  setting in the sleeves and a little trimming of the seam allowances.   No finishing required on hems or seam allowances because knits don't ravel.   Besides if Eileen Fisher and Eskandar and Lanvin can do it and charge hundreds and thousands of dollars, what are we worried about?
 I posted some other ways to style this one on my Flickr photos.

I'm sending this sweater coat to my sister in TX.   She's going to love it but her two college age daughters may try to borrow it LOL.   I added a large snap to be able to close it like the Anthropologie knit jacket.    To have some design fun and stabilize, since the knit is very stretchy, I cut out two squares of the double knit,  pinked the edges and sandwiched the sweater knit between them and edge stitched before sewing the snap on.

The male snap is sewn behind the vertical plaid band that stabilized that portion of the garment.   Here are a couple of photos.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Looking back and looking ahead

I got a Thanksgiving card from my sister in Texas whose house burned to the ground in the pre-dawn hours last April and they lost everything.   It was miraculous that both she and her husband and their dog got out and survived with no lasting injuries.   Our mother,  who was being cared for just down the road,  died in March and I was not able to travel to visit her since becoming disabled myself last fall.    

She writes, "This has been a tough year for all of us but especially for you!   We have a lot to be thankful for and I am thankful that you are going to be okay and that we are alive.   Next year will be better."

Yes I am thankful for all those things and more.   We are both fighters for the right things, and always will be.   

Looking forward,  I intend to continue to sew and create interesting things, and will blog about it.   My thanks to all of you who have made my life and my mental state better over the past year by leaving comments, writing me messages and even phoning me.     Sadly,  the internet has become a playground for individuals hiding behind a false personae who use it to play games like spoiled children.  I've decided not to let people like that bother me, and to keep my blog public.  

I want to share with you what my special friend from Canada sent me today.   She is one who has helped me through some tough times. 

What Is Success?

To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people
     and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics
     and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To leave this world a better place whether
     by a healthy child, a garden patch
     or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier
     because you have lived;
This is to have succeeded.
                               Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

November Collection Continued - the San Diego swing jacket

Here's a peak at what I've been working on.   I finished this yesterday.     It looks great with the pinstripe silk and some other silver gray pieces I have.   If you've looked at some of the Chanel collections over the past few years, this is a variation,  as is the knit boucle jacket.  Chanel is rarely the little jacket anymore,  although those are always there in one form or another.      I'm happy to say that I am getting stronger and am just as head strong.   When I wasn't strong, I still persevered to do what I wanted to do, that I was physically capable of.     It might have taken longer, but I did it.   I know that helped me mentally as well as physically.   Now I want to do everything I couldn't do before.   I had other things to do today but did some cutting out.    Today I walked into our local market without my cane!     I felt like Rocky standing at the top of those stairs.

If you've followed my sewing, you know that I like to take advantage of the fabric and use simple but different styles.   Never use cheap fabric -- not worth your time.

Here are some details of this jacket:
  • The San Diego jacket pattern has two piece sleeves that I did a faux flat fell seam and used a multiple step zig zag to secure all the seams at the neckline.    I eliminated the sleeve hems and pinked the edges before applying the bands that are secured in the seams.
  • sleeves are bracelet length which is an elegant look and best for layering.
  • The length is 22 or 23" and the hem is pinked and unfinished with the band sewn inside.
  • The boucle looks the same on both sides -   I marked one side and used that as the outside.  
  • The bands of the wool double knit are also pinked and topstitched 1/4" from each edge.  
  •  I put contrast bands at the inside collar (no facing - only one layer of the jacket) and the inside hem, then on the outside of the sleeves.    
I'm working on other coordinates and added vertical bands to the boucle knit jacket (open and closed photos below) but don't like them on this one.    It's easy to get carried away and junk things up.    I like simple so the fringe at the front edges is enough.

 I used this braided frog clasp as the closure for this jacket.     I bought some nice closures from Couture Fabrics of Alexandria before they closed.   This is one, and the plaid wool boucle came from there as well.   I was a very good customer and even taught classes for them when my schedule permitted.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

November Coordinates - black and silver gray

So what have I been working on this past week?   A collection of coordinates,  of course.    I'm working on another blouse in the pinstripe gray silk using the Miyake 2332 pattern.   That blouse will layer beautifully under some of the soft jackets I'm planning.     I thought about using the Miyake pattern or even the Sewing Workshop San Diego jacket pattern for a jacket from this wool doublt knit (shown below with the plaid accent band) but that pattern requires a lot  more fabric than I have. 

But I do have enough of it to make an altered version of Vogue 8430. I worked on the prototype for it today.    The wool double knit has very little stretch whereas the knit boucle is pretty stretchy.     The wool plaid boucle is perfect for a TSW San Diego jacket using bands of the wool double knit with the smaller scroll/paisley motif as contrast.    I think the silk pinstripe will be interesting to wear under either jacket, and I have many other tops that will work with these.   I would wear either black or charcoal gray slacks or a skirt with these.      Nothing boring about outfits with these as the talking piece!

Wool double knit with plaid accents

Here's my work in progress prototype of altered Vogue 8430 in a stretchy salt and pepper boucle knit - I know it's got some wool in it, and definitely lycra.    This came from the PA Fabric Outlet when it was in Baltimore.    They used to get some amazing cuts from manufacturers, many from Italy.    I applied strips of my gray and black wool boucle plaid to the neckline and the sleeves, keeping it interesting but simple.     I put the selvedge of the plaid at the neckline so the fringe peaks out from the other side.     

Here are some detail shots of the knit jacket.    I think my prototype looks a lot like the jackets you might find in downtown Asheville art to wear stores for several hundred dollars.
On the bottom left is a photo of the Anthropologie sweater jacket that that served as my inspiraton for these.     I wore it a lot last winter.   I may add the vertical bands to the fronts of my stretch boucle jacket tomorrow.     They provide stability as well as a design element. 

To get the same look as the Anthropologie sweater jacket, I would put a tie inside and into the right side seam, and a large snap that closes that jacket.    Otherwise, worn open, it looks the same as the gray knit boucle.

I was going to post the alterations when I finish the jacket tomorrow, but wanted to respond to Martha's questions: 
  1. I cut a size medium -  this pattern has no hems at any of the edges
  2. I added four inches in length
  3. I removed 1 3/8" from the sleeve bottom
  4. I folded the front pieces on the first view B felting line - that decreased the width of, and straightened the front edge that I place on the selvedge
  5. I used 5/8" seam allowances and pressed them open.   

Here are some details about the construction:
  • All trim and knit edges are left raw in the Anthropologie jacket and this one.   The bottom will roll to the outside just like the expensive Eileen Fisher and Eskandar knits are cut to do.     It will not ravel.    Hey if Lanvin can do it and charge thousands, so can you and I.
  • Sleeves:   it's easier, and neater to put two strips of 1/4" steam a seam down the edges of the trim, line it up with the edge, press it to adhere, then topstitch before you sew up the sleeve seam.    The trim will be caught in the seam -- then press the seam allowanced open and topstitch over to secure the trim nicely.    
  • The neckline trim was done the same way AFTER the shoulder seams (stabilized at the back) were stitched, pressed open and topstitched along the funnel collar per the instructions

BTW I appreciate your comments and am happy to answer questions.   If something I do inspires you, please give me credit.  


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Miyake Blouse from OOP Vogue 2332

Today I cut out and finished this Miyake Blouse in a fine Italian shirting I bought from Louise Cutting at an Expo.    It's all white with a narrow woven stripe.    My pattern is a size 10 with a finished bust and hip (straight down) measurement of 47".   The pattern is not for sale.

 I used many of the fine sewing techniques from Louise's patterns and technique DVDs since these patterns don't go into detail about finishing every seam and fine sewing techniques.    I didn't alter or change anything but eliminated the tabs and buttons.    I used steam-a-seam on the cuffs.  

I think it looks very elegant and is comfortable.   I'm wearing it with a pair of Easy, Ageless and Cool pants out of a linen/metallic blend.    It layers nicely under many types of jackets.    I wore it shopping at Neiman Marcus in Charlotte, NC yesterday and got many complements from both shoppers and the staff.    The shirting is the finest and looks it!  I'm going to sew up another one in the gray pinstripe silk I used for the A Cute Angle blouse.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Weekly Sewing Recap

I have had a busy week.    In the sewing department,  I sewed up an interesting black and metallic Monaco Shell (Textile Studio patterns) out of a heavily textured stretch brocade knit I bought as a remnant a few years ago.      I like the TS Monaco shells because of the interesting neckline and you can make one out of a piece of knit that is the length of the pattern.    I can cut out and sew one up in about an hour too.   I always put a little tag at the back so I put it on correctly.    I even had some of the stretchy knit left over to make some cowls.    

I've got this old OOP Vogue Miyake pattern on the cutting table ready to cut out in this white shirting with a woven vertical stripe.     This blouse is sewn shut, tucked and opens above the horizontal stitch line.    I figure I need to make up some of these timeless patterns.

Next is an Of the Moment tweed knit jacket in my version of several fall Akris Punto jackets that you can see on the Saks website.   I took one look at the shapes, the fronts and how their unfaced lapels flop over and fold back, and said --  they're all versons of Louise Cutting's  Of The Moment jacket pattern that I've sewn in everything from fleecy knit to tapestry to soft cashmere since the pattern came out in 2008. 
Akris Punto wool jacket
Akris Punto nappa leather jacket
Akris Punto tweed jacket

Saks tells you the length of the jackets and how tall the models are.    For reference, my cashmere OTM jacket below is 23.5 inches long and it only took me a couple of hours to sew it up the night before heading to the Atlanta expo the next day.   Check my OTM Flickr set for the long one in a tapestry fabric, and others.  
I'm using the tweedy knit shown below.    It's chunky looking,  but not thick, as you can see from the edge of the tweed fabric in the photo.   I'm going to experiment with cutting the neckline facings and the front fold over hems from one of these soft faux leathers that will 1) contrast with the tweed and look really neat and 2) softly hold the tweed knit shape at the neckline and bind the edge at the same time.    I think I'll make this one 29" long like the Akris wool jacket.      It's interesting how the gray knit back of my faux black lambskin looks the same as that of the Akris nappa leather jacket that you can see in the photos.      There are numerous views of these  open and closed with more details in the photos on the Saks site at the links under the photos.

Black/white tweed knit and faux leathers

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Chanel and Moschino for November DAR Meeting

Today was the monthly meeting of the Edward Buncombe Chapter,  National Society Daughters of the American Revolution.    It was a pretty sunny fall day and I am now strong enough to walk in and around the huge First Baptist Church in Asheville, and stand for periods of time to preside over the meeting.    We had a great turnout, delicious lunch, and a great speaker,  Mr. Lee Pantas, artist, illustrator and author of the 4th Edition of The Ultimate Guide to Asheville & the Western North Carolina Mountains.   The chapter registrar obtained permission from Mr. Pantas to use his illustration of the Vance Homestead for the cover of our 2011-12 Chapter Yearbook.       He has been commissioned to do  drawings of homes in the Asheville area and is known for his drawings of historical and familiar sites in western North Carolina that are for sale as prints or notecards.   On Thursday I'm going to another luncheon  meeting of another historical/genealogical organization,  and I'm looking forward to it.

I wore this off-white Chanel suit from spring 2000 that I bought that year with a Monaco Shell sleeveless top from the Textile Studio pattern.   The Chanel jacket looks pretty ordinary in the photos but it has lots of seaming you can't see, cut-on bias sleeves and gussets under the arms with unique gray/silver modern buttons.   The skirt has 9 vertical seams.  I've worn them together and separately for many occassions, and they wear like iron and fit great.    I thought about wearing this Moschino pink/cream tweed coat that is very Chanel in detail over the skirt, but it is heavier than the weather called for, so I wore the lightweight wool boucle jacket instead.    The Moschino Coat is beautiful but is so heavy that I'm considering shortening it to a 3/4 or jacket length to get more wear out of it.  It would be easy to do -- just need to re-do the facings and edgings.   Comments?  Suggestions on the length after seeing it on me?    Click on photos below to enlarge.

The coat is from the higher end Moschino line vs Cheap and Chic line  (the only thing cheap about that line is the name).   Both lines are always very innovative and interesting in design and details.    I missed out on a similar Moschino coat at Saks the year it came out because it sold out.   It was gray/black tweed with a black and multi silk edging and facing and I was hoping to find one on sale.   I found this pink/white/gray one on eBay a couple years later for less than 10% of the original price ($2,715).   I love gray and pink and cream together.   The facings and trim edging are printed silk georgette.   The buttons are narrow wool braid wrapped around a metal form.   There are more detail photos on the Moschino Coat Flickr Set.     Great ideas and inspiration for similar styles you can sew.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sophisticated Color Blocking

Color blocking is tricky.    I've seen some really cheesy color blocking,  and most I wouldn't wear if they paid me to.   Today I got an e-mail notice of a sale at Kate Spade online of some sophisticated examples of color blocking that I just had to share.

The new designer for Kate Spade loves to update the 60's classic silhouettes.  Most of her apparel is very elegant and wearable by women of several generations.    I've tried on and inspected them in the Charlotte store and the only problem I've had is with some of the fabrics -- not all, but just a few.   A couple of  years ago she had a fabulous black and white 3/4 length winter coat with a hot pink lining, but the fabric was cotton,   Yikes!  Who in their right mind wears a cotton coat in the winter unless you live in Florida or southern California.     Maybe that's why it was in the Charlotte store.    OK enough of that.

Back to the color blocking that I thought was very elegant.     I like this jacket and may apply this to a somewhat longer jacket like the Cutting Line Designs Pure & Simple Jacket pattern I've made a couple of,  moving the horizontal seam above the bust and leaving the rest unseamed.
Kate Spade Colorblock Dahlia Jacket
This dress (what we called the tent dress silhouette in the 60's) also has sophisticated colorblocking.     I was thinking of making another Tosca Dress by The Sewing Workshop and adding a band at the hemline.

Kate Spade Abbie Shift Dress

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A TSW eShrug as a Vest in faux shearling

After I sewed my husband's vest out of the  faux shearling that made a huge mess in my sewing room, before I vacuumed up the mess,  I decided to cut out an eShrug out of the remainder and make a vest.  I still have almost a yard left and some scraps.

I like the way the eShrug neckline hugs your neck so this should be a warm vest.   I used my huge 12" shears to cut it out.    The only seams are those curved shoulder seams that I sewed wrong sides together and then trimmed.   I cut out the armholes about a seam allowance at the top and scooped out about 2" at the bottom using a french curve to draw and chalk  the line.   I then topstitched over the lines and cut just outside them.   To keep the fuzzies at bay,  I edgestitched 1/4" all around the edges.   

Two interesting and functional vests --  not bad for an afternoon's work before the sun set!  After I finished  this vest,  I got an e-mail from Neiman Marcus about the Vince coordinates being on sale and saw this Vince Shearling Drape Vest that looked just like it.  I used a quality faux shearling that cost $35 a yard and this took barely a yard to make with no sleeves.    That's the Cutting Line Designs 2X4 top I made into a sweater dress earlier this fall under the vest on the mannequin.      I'm wearing The Sewing Workshop 8th Avenue Skirt with a stretch velvet Loes Hinse Bianca top in the photos of me.   The Bianca has a deep hem that looks like a band in the photos.

A Manly Faux Shearling Vest

It's November already and I decided to make the guy who worries about me and has taken care of me all these months one of his favorite things -- a vest.     He likes the fleece vests I've sewn for him from the pattern in the first Polarfleece Pizzazz book that Great Copy patterns published in 1995 with lots of basic pullover tops, this vest,  hats,  gloves and scarves.       He didn't like that high collar on the fleece vests so I shortened it to about and inch and a half.    He didn't want any collar on this one but wanted pockets and liked the fuzzy side showing.    BTW that fuzzy stuff is all over my sewing room and me and him.    I have enough of this left to make an eShrug - two shoulder seams and no zipper,  then I'll clean up my sewing room.

It took me only a couple hours to cut out the front and back, overlap the 1/4" seam allowances on shoulders and side seams - edge stitched and then top stitched with a 4.0 stitch length.    I just edge stittched all around.    He wears a size small in that vest.    Pretty easy sewing.   He's very happy with his latest vest.