Friday, September 30, 2011

A New Skirt and a Jacket Lining

I made a cotton interlock skirt using New Look pattern No. 6730. I wore it to work today with a formal cotton blouse then wore at home with the salvaged cotton top.

More exciting, I'm making a lined jacket. I wanted to try sewing silk chiffon, and the jacket lining seemed like a low-risk choice of project. I found some silk chiffon on sale at Vogue Fabrics for $5.99 per yard and made the lining first, because I was eager to see what it was like to sew such delicate, floaty fabric. I used tissue paper on the bottom of each seam as I sewed it, and a walking foot on top so I could try to feed the fabric evenly. This system worked very well for me. I'm pleased with the way it came out, and it fits well.

Far as I know, silk chiffon is not commonly used as a lining, but when I tried it out with the somewhat nasty fabric I'm using for the jacket, the chiffon improved the drape of the nasty fabric. This is the same fabric I used to make a straight skirt that I have not yet worn, because I have not yet hemmed it or attached the hook at the waist.

The fabric, which I believe is meant to be used as upholstery, is sort of stiff and doesn't drape at all well by itself, but with a cotton lawn lining, the skirt's not too bad. I think the jacket will look OK too, with the silk chiffon. If not, it's no great loss. I got the fabric on sale for something like $2 per yard, with the intent of using it as a tool for learning. If it turns out ugly, I can wear it to work in the garden on coolish days. I'm using Burda pattern # 8761.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Two New Tops

I have been unexpectedly busy at work, because one of our employees quit, and the rest of us have had to work harder to take up the slack. So I have not had time to take photos of the gardments I've worn each day. They've been repeats anyhow, since I don't have that many self-made garments. Here are two new tops I recently finished. The first is like the one I showed in my most recent post, except that I used thing braided trim on the shoulder and armholes to keep them from stretching. I'm sad to report that the spray-on fabric stabilizer did not work.

The braided trim worked very nicely. No stretching at all, and I'm very pleased with the way the top looks when I wear it. In fact, I wore it to the office today with a blue/gray silk suit.

The second top was made using McCall's 7978.

I used fusible interfacing on the neck edge, which helped somewhat to prevent stretching.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

SSS 21 - Salvaged Knit Top

I wore the stretched and subsequently gathered-neck cotton knit top today, under a light-weight jacket.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Tragic Knit Top

I used a pattern for woven fabric to make a top out of cotton interlock fabric. To compensate for the stretch, I used one size smaller than I would normally wear. When I tried on the top after sewing the pieces together, it fit perfectly. I loved it and looked forward to wearing it for SSS Day # 18.

But when I top stitched the neck and armhole edges, they stretched all out of shape, and the top was unwearable. To salvage it, I gathered the edges. I was afraid the stitches would pull out, so I stabilized the neck edge by sewing in some flat braided trim. I kind of like the way the neck looks, but the armholes look weird. Still, the top will be fine to wear under a jacket.

So I decided I absolutely must figure out how to keep the knit fabric from stretching when I top stitch the edges. I could have used interfacing on this particular top, since the neck opening was large enough to slip on over my head. But what about when I want the neck edge to stretch -- when I wear it, not when I'm sewing it?

A Web search turned up the following:

(1) decrease the tension on the presser foot;
(2) use spray-on or paint-on water soluble stabilizer
(3) use elastic

I tried decreasing the presser foot tension and still had stretching. I didn't want to use elastic, because part of what I like about this fabric is its softness and light weight. The elastic would make it feel heavy; besides the elastic would look weird on the edges of the armholes. So I went to the fabric store after work and bought some spray-on stabilizer and some more of the black cotton interlock, to try once more.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

SSS 13 - 17 and Pattern Weights

I've been horribly busy at work, so no time to take photos or blog until today. In fact, no time to sew either until last night.

Here are the garments I wore during the week. I was working at home most of the time, remotely connected to the office, so I could wear whatever wanted. I didn't have to look "professional."

Tuesday: brown linen dress with yet another version of the Butterick 5567 jacket
Wednesday: peach colored version of huge pants
Thursday: white top
Friday: turqoise sundress with matching jacket (it's still quite warm here)
Saturday: tonight I will wear the yellow nightgown

I recently watched Peggy Sagers' video Factory Tips & Techniques - 1 & 2. One of the things she recommends is using weights to hold patterns and fabric down when cutting, rather than pinning the pattern to the fabric. I tried this out last night when I cut a couple of tops out of black cotton interlock. It works very well. As Ms. Sager pointed out, you don't have to buy specially made weights. You can use anything heavy enough to hold down the pattern. I have lots of rocks in my garden, so they were an obvious choice for me.

Stretchy knit fabrics are amazingly easy to sew with a serger! It only took me about 10 minutes to sew each top together. I still have to top stitch the neck opening and armhole edges. I'm waiting to do this after I finish sewing a green linen skirt. The skirt is a test garment. The fabric was on sale for a very low price -- can't remember how much, but it was cheap enough for me to buy several yards. It's fairly nasty fabric -- doesn't drape very well, and scratcy against the skin. But underfacing with cotton lawn changed it much for the better. So I think I'll have a wearable skirt. The bright green color isn't really my style, but it's not hideously ugly either. It'll certainly be good enough to wear around the house, to the grocery store, that sort of thing.

The kittens have at least doubled in size since they were born. Here they are as they looked a couple of days ago. Their eyes are open now, and they're beginning to move around more than their mother likes. She often jumps up and lies on the table, to get away from these pesky children.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A New Nightgown & SSS 12

This is Simplicity 9012. The pattern called for a lace overlay on the yoke, but my primary goal for a nightgown is comfort, so I left off the lace. The nightgown was very easy to make. I didn't time myself, but I easily got it done over the weekend, even though I spent most of the weekend catching up on work from the office. I'd guess it took 3 hours total, including hemming by hand. I made French seams, because it seems as though this would be more comfortable for sleepwear than serged seams.

SSS Day 11

McCall's 8050 top. Very comfortable, but the cotton fabric wrinkles easily.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

SSS Day 10

The afternoon temp went over 100F yesterday. Very disheartening. Usually by this time of year, the weather has begun to cool. Certainly does not incline one to think of fall garments.

I don't like anything about this top except the comfort level. The cotton-lycra facbric would have worked a lot better as a pair of shorts, which is what I intended to make with it when I ordered it. But I only received 1 years, instead of the 2 years I thought I ordered. This was not enough to make the shorts, so I had to improvise. The light-weight fabric breathes nicely, seems to float almost.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A New Dress - vogue 8567

I'd give myself a C+ on this one. It would have been a B- if I'd gotten the side bodice seams exactly right. I made it exactly as instructed, except I shortened the skirt to fall at mid-knee length (the photos below were taken before the skirt was hemmed).

The brown color goes nicely with a number of jackets and vests I already own, and I need more dresses. So this was a good choice as far as my overall wardrobe. The color would have been great for me when my hair was dark reddish-brown. Now that my hair is gray, I'm not so sure. I probably look better now in greens, blues, and grays.

 This dress was easy to make. The only part I found difficult was sewing the shoulder seams. The instruction sheet that came with the pattern directed one to sew the bodice lining to the outer shell, leaving the shoulder seams and part of the armhole edges open. After the lining and shell were attached, one was to turn the lining out and sew the shoulder seam for the lining and shell in one continuous seam. The hand-stitch the remaining open part of the armhole edges. It worked OK, but I have to wonder if maybe there's a better way.

The dress is quite figure-flattering and comfortable. Here are the things I learned while making this dress:

1. I should consider linen-rayon blends in the future rather than 100% linen when making dresses or skirts. I can't think of any way to keep linen skirts from wrinkling badly when one sits down in them.

2. Even though a garment fits perfectly when made in a test fabric, I should try the "real" garment on as I'm making it. The cotton test fabric version of this dress fit perfectly, but the final version would look better with each of the side seams of the bodice taken in about 1/4 inch. It's not bad enough to rip it apart and re-do it at this point, but it would have been a very easy problem to fix if I'd tried on the bodice before attaching the lining and skirt.

3. Cotton poplin is not the best lining fabric for linen. Cotton lawn or non-slippery rayon would have been a better choice.

Friday, September 9, 2011

SSS Day 9

This is another version of the huge pants (Vogue 9231) made from a linen-cotton fabric underlined with cotton fabric from an old sheet. The shirt is McCall's 8850. I'll almost surely make McCall's 8850 again but probably won't do the pants again, unless I try them in a very thin, silky fabric. It might be interesting to see what they look like in a completely different sort of fabric.

I went out to my country place today and changed into these clothes when I got home and cleaned up. I always get my clothes dirty when I go to the country.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

SSS Day 8

Today I'm wearing the Vogue 9231 huge pants that are extremely unflattering but o-so-comfortable. These pants are great for working in the garden or hanging out in the house.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

SSS Day 7

Wore these yellow pants to the store and hanging out at home this evening. The cotton fabric is very comfortable but wrinkles easily. Vogue 8584. Very easy to make.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

SSS Day 6

Oh dear, I'm not sure I really want to look like this! I think I need an extreme fashion make-over! I like the comfort of this linen skirt I wore to the office today, but it's not very attractive, is it? The skirt is from a 1970's Perry Ellis pattern. I'm almost finished making a new dress that I hope will look a bit less dowdy.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Self-Stitched September Day Five

That oh-so-loose-fitting blue knit top was so comfortable I slept in it. It was still comfortable this morning, so I've worn it all day. Definitely could not be called elegant, but there's a lot to be said for the idea of comfort before fashion.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Self-Stitched September Day Four

The blue cotton knit fabric stretched way more than I thought it would when I cut out the pattern. As a result, I ended up with gaping neck and arm holes, and it tends to have wrinkles across the front unless I stand up really, really straight. It's unwearable in public unless I wear a jacket or shirt over it. Works fine for hanging out in the house or garden. Just now, I'm preparing to wear it to the grocery store, so I threw the white shirt over it.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Self-Stitched September Day Three

Vogue 7612 top.

I'm wearing it to the country today. It's not very attractive, but it's ever so comfortable and certainly decent enough attire for Taco Cabana, where I'll probably stop for dinner on the way back to San Antonio, either in Seguin or San Marcos, depending on the route I take.

Self-Stitched September Day Two

I wore my wearable test garment today as I worked in my home office , but I put on something else when I went to the office. The jacket I made is fine, but the white linen skirt I wore with it (which is really the only thing I have that the jacket goes with) is amazingly unflattering. It's cut on the bias, and the upper front part of the skirt has stretched and bags down under my stomach.

Part of the problem is that the skirt is too loose in the waist, so the waist band sits an inch or so below my actual waistline. I think I may be able to fix the problem by opening the waistband and inserting elastic. I don't have a lot to loose, since I would not want to wear the skirt in public as it is now. At the very worst, I'll end up with another skirt to wear while working in the garden. Being linen, it breathes well, and being white it reflects sunlight.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Self-Stitched September Day One

I have joined Zoe's Self Stitched September by pledging to wear at least one garment I made myself every day of the month. I've only been sewing for a few months and don't yet have any tailored suits. I have a couple of things suitable for wearing to the office, but most of what I have is more appropriate for wearing while working in the garden, hanging around the house, or going to the grocery store.

Today's self-made garment is an unlined cotton print flared skirt with roomy side-seam pockets. It breathes nicely in our still-very-hot September weather, doesn't show dirt readily. Perfect for working in the garden. Here I am taking a rest in the court yard.

... and here are the guinea fowl and hens who hang out in the garden with me, along with the border collie dog and tamed feral cat (is that a contradiction in terms?). The cat is actually living inside for the time being. When she turned up in my garden one day, I had no idea she was old enough to be pregnant, but she's now quite swollen in the middle with kicking babies. 

I truly lead a double life -- one as a somewhat intellectual tax lawyer and the other as a barefoot gardener and chicken herder who sews. Oh! I almost forgot. I'm also a writer. A novel I wrote with my husband Damien Broderick has just been relased: Post Mortal Syndrome, and of course there's my self-help tax book, The Taxpayer's Life Preserver for people who are in trouble with the IRS.