Friday, February 9, 2018

Part 2: Hemisfèric Coat completed, Pauline Alice patterns

True to form, those of you who read my blog are interested seeing the insides of garments and construction details. Thanks for the nice comments on the previous post. I'm lucky to be able to pick and choose who I want to sew for, and the process of selecting patterns + fabric is maybe the most fun part of the process. That is definitely my view once I get near the end of a complex project, when the fun fades away and I just want it to be done!

This project felt that way at times, mostly because of delays with all of us getting sick after the holidays. But it's complete and it's adorable.

Coat unbuttoned view copy

Everything about this project was a time crunch, including taking the photos, so the lighting and sharpness is not quite what I would have liked and I have increased the brightness a bit so the details are visible. I made this coat for Sara, who is the daughter of my friend Heather (who I have sewn a lot of things for, including this coat). They were going to an evening wedding so Sara needed a coat, and I did sew a dress for Heather which is one of my favorite things I have done in a while, Burda 07-2017 # 124A. The dress is fantastic and I can't wait to blog about it. One thing at a time::)

I tested this Hemisfèric coat pattern for Pauline last fall. I really love her designs, Pauline Alice Patterns, and feel that she always thinks about creating a design that is unique, as in her Quart coat which I also tested and then sewed up for a friend. But she also has patterns that are for casual and fun wear as well. And now she has a book - although I think it's in French - not one of my better languages...yet.

As mentioned in my previous post, I love the shape and seaming of this coat but I just don't like separating zipper, particularly a long one on a coat front so I changed the front closure from zipper to a hidden buttonhole placket.
All the details on how I did that are in my previous post. Also lots of info on interfacing. The fabric was from Stone Mountain in Berkeley, as well as the lining.

Merlot coat front full length

Here's a good look at the shoulder and neckline seaming which is unique. I love it when garments have interesting seaming and shaping, they are more entertaining to sew, to look at, and it's nice to make something that is new to you. The sleeves are raglan with a seam along the top of the shoulder, and the whole coat front and back rise up to create the funnel neck which stands up quite well in a coating fabric like this one.

H coat side shoulder seams

And pockets of course. The pattern calls for the pockets to be in the front princess seams and with my buttonhole changes there is just enough room for them. I suppose I could have put them in the side seams but I wasn't really thinking about it. And they work fine where they are. She doesn't really have her hands far down in the pockets but there is plenty of space. This image is a bit fuzzy but she has the coat buttoned about 2/3 of the way up, so the top two buttons are open and I expect that is how it will be worn. While it looks super sharp with the top buttoned it is probably more comfortable like this.

Coat S with pockets view
coat back view1

I am still so happy with the placket! Time to confess that with the thickness of the fabric I had fears that it would be a lumpy mess, but choosing that silk charmeuse to use as the inner layers of the placket really worked out beautifully, plus it feels so luxe.

H coat close up placket view

H coat lining view

The lining is bemberg rayon also found at Stone Mountain - they have a great selection of colors.
The pattern pieces for the lining are included in the pattern and are separate pattern pieces which is very nice.

One construction photo that I didn't include in the previous post, the hem, I did lengthen this about 3 inches, and Sara is shorter than me. So this coat is short! Which I also found in the Quart coat. Anyway by adding length at the bottom I took away that shaping on each princess pattern piece which is necessary for the hem to fold up smoothly and not have excess fabric due to the angle of the seam at the fold.

H coat hem prep

So I did have to quickly stitch up and trim each seam so that it folded up without excess. In this blog post from 2014 I showed what I'm talking about. Scroll down the post for the photo with the pink and yellow lines marked on the picture.

Found the photo with the coat all buttoned up.

H coat buttoned up

Quick reminder, this is the pattern drawing and an example from the website.

Pauline Alice Pattern view Hemesferic Coat

Coat unbuttoned view square crop

So cute! One of these days I will have to make a Pauline Alice coat pattern for myself. We'll just have to see what she comes up with next year.

And sneak peek for my next post - this fantastic dress that I made for Heather. I am still raving over the quality of the blue wool crepe fabric.  Sorry for the grainy photo - it's cropped from full length one, and the light was really fading as we took the photos. But hey - it's documented and done. On to the next project!

H and S wearing wool outfits peek

What's in the works? I just finished something with mini-sequins. Easier than I imagined and kind of fun. I want to make a few pairs of jeans or pants now that I am happy with my pattern that I made via copying a RTW pair of jeans. Plus I have a lot of stuff to prep for some upcoming classes at Hello Stitch Studio.

So keeping busy here  - and now I'm off to repair some of my garden drip irrigation, because there is no rain in sight and we are getting worried about the drought again. Hope not but I think so.

Are you watching the Olympics? I am an Olympics fanatic - not that I have ever done any of those sports. Well plenty of skiing but other than that, nope. However I love watching everything and am a sucker for the human interest stories. (although no network is as good as ABC was back in the "thrill of victory, agony of defeat" days.)  But the Tara and Johnny skating coverage is very entertaining. Plus they dress  to coordinate!

Happy Sewing, Beth

Here's today's garden photo - so many daffodils already.


Monday, February 5, 2018

Part 1: Hemisfèric Coat from Pauline Alice patterns, pattern changes and sewing details

Did you think I would go a winter season without sewing a coat? I tried to convince myself I didn't need a new one, and succeeded. However there was one pattern that I really wanted to sew! This is the Hemisfèric Coat pattern from Pauline Alice Patterns. Fortunately I knew someone that wanted me to make a coat, and that gave me the opportunity to suggest this one.

This post will be a long one all about the sewing details and the pattern changes I made. My next post will show the finished coat. I am not a fan of coats with zippers, particularly on anything longer than a hip length type of coat or jacket. So while I loved this pattern I knew from the moment I saw it that if I sewed it I would change that zipper to a hidden buttonhole placket. In fact, I did test this pattern for Pauline, and mentioned that to her in my feedback. For the final pattern she has included the center front line on both front pattern pieces (which are not symmetrical) so that makes it very possible to do this change.

H coat front peek at button placket

Here's a look at the pattern example from the Pauline Alice website and the line drawing. I love the curved seaming and the flared skirt. Her patterns always have some interesting details that make them unique - which is certainly something I look for in a pattern.

Pauline Alice Pattern view Hemesferic Coat

Here's a look at the inside of the coat before I attached the facings and placket. Actually the coat center fronts in my version are the standard front that you would find on any coat or jacket pattern, I wanted you to see the interfacing I applied. I think in the pattern instruction you apply the interfacing to the facings, both the front facings and the neck facings, but I just find that more interfacing is almost always better. A coat of this style and fabric needs to be supported at the neckline and hang on the shoulders without sagging in that area. So I added weft interfacing around the neck, and even down the shoulder seams about 10 inches, both front and back. Here you can see the coat fronts overlapping as they would in a regular button front coat pattern.

H coat inside interfacing front full length

H coat back view interfacing and seams

Sometimes I wonder when I show the insides of garments as I am working on them if readers think they look like a mess? But in a lined garment I have absolutely no concern about how the inside looks. It can have 3 different colors and types of interfacing, applied wherever I think it's needed to get the outside looking perfect. As long as there is a lining then who cares? And I never ever serge the edges. That just adds bulk and thread  - the opposite of what I want the seam allowances to do which is disappear when pressed so that the outside is smooth and unmarred. Also the curved seams needed quite a bit of clipping and notching, being that they curve in different directions sometimes they need clipping to release the fabric and in other spots a few small notches so that the seam bulk can lay flat and not create a bump where the seams curve. I should do a post on that one of these days, where to clip and where to notch...

Ok - enough on interfacing, onto the hidden buttonhole placket. I have had a number of comments asking how to do it so here goes. The first part of this information is specific to this pattern, but the principle of how to make the hidden buttonhole placket can be applied to any garment.

Here's the RIGHT FRONT pattern piece of this pattern. Remember that the pattern has 2 different front pieces, a LEFT and a RIGHT because the design is for a zipper that is covered and offset under the right front. But for a hidden buttonhole placket the coat needs to have two fronts that are the same, and that cross over the center front line allowing space for the buttonholes. Whether they are hidden or regular buttonholes on one side this re-design would be the same. I used the RIGHT front pattern piece as it has the center front line. (which on this pattern is the grain line arrow, also marked as Center Front. Note that on any coat, jacket or shirt pattern the horizontal buttonholes cross over this center front line. In the example below I'm using the smallest size (34) on the multi-size pattern because it is just easier to draw on this. For my coat I traced the size 38 and working on my traced pattern piece.

1. Mark the center front, and determine the buttonhole placement. This is a bit tricky for this coat where the neckline is high, as you want the neck to stay closed but gets to be a bit of a small space for your fingers to fasten the top buttonhole. It worked out OK as I did it, but it would also be really nice to have one button which showed at the top and then the rest as hidden.  The buttonholes in this thick fabric cross over the center front about 1/4".

2. From the center end of the buttonhole draw the finished edge line. Which is also the stitching line of the facing. I decided to use 1/2" from the end of the buttonhole. On the pattern that happened to be the fold line if the zipper had been there which sounded about right. Then I added a 5/8" seam allowance past that finished edge stitching line (labeled as new cutting line in the photo below)

3. Straighten out the top edge of the coat above the buttonhole. These will be overlapping when the coat is finished so they need to be able to overlap evenly.

Hemisferic coat right front pattern piece

These changes turn this pattern piece into the coat front for both the left and the right side. The placket is only applied to one side, and the other side is sewn with a facing just as a regular coat.

To make the coat facing, which is necessary since the facings in the pattern are also asymmetrical due to the zipper design, I used this new updated coat front, overlaid the lining side piece and just drew a facing that would match up to the side front lining piece. This coat definitely has a number of pieces because the neckline has some facings that mirror the shape of the sleeve and then attach to the lining. But I could use all of them except the center front facing which needed the redesign.

Placket How To:  I actually didn't take a lot of photos when I was doing the placket portion as I was in a super time crunch to finish this, but I did write a post on Craftsy which is a step-by-step tutorial that can be applied to a variety of garments. If you are interested then take a look at that. As a condensed version here is a composite of the photos in that tutorial, but really - take a look at the Craftsy link, you will be able to see exactly how it is done.

hidden buttonhole placket steps

After all the sewing of facing etc, this is what you end up with. So the idea is the same on the wool coat - just a bit more tricky with a thick fabric.

Hidden buttonhole placket example

With the coat, the placket adds an extra two layers of fabric so I knew that I couldn't do it in the wool or it would be about 1/2" thick with all those layers. I decided to use silk charmeuse in the placket for the two extra layers and found the perfect color at Stone Mountain. I only needed 1/3 of a yard and cut two strips of 6 inches wide. While I wanted them to be thin they did need some support so I used Sheer Elegance Light in black on both pieces of charmeuse. Also on the coat facings, the same interfacing.

H coat stitch silk to facing

The silk and the coat facing are sewn right sides together. I did cause myself a lot of extra work because I couldn't quite decide where I wanted the placket open edge to start on the coat front, so I actually played around with it on the coat. I do not recommend! It's better to figure that out beforehand, I could have experimented with some scraps and figured out all the measurements. Live and learn.

I posted this photo on Instagram which illustrates that point exactly - the stitched edges of the bottom of the placket sides don't match and I had to do some extra work and trimming to make them equal.

H coat silk placket and buttonholes

But I finally got it all worked out and stitched the front facing and placket to the coat front. Oh, I forgot to say, even before that, the buttonholes needed to be made. And this time I remembered to stitch them horizontally (unlike the Bamboo coat where I sewed them vertically, to my great annoyance). That pattern actually has a hidden buttonhole placket so if you want a coat with that feature then that is the pattern for you, and a good way to get the hang of the construction. Although the welt pocket steps on that pattern - seemed so complicated and not at all the way I would do it).

Here's how the coat front looks on the inside.

H coat front inside buttonhole view

And all buttoned up.  The lighting in my sewing room plus probably my photography skills make me crazy and the same thing looks a different color in various images.

H coat front buttoned up

And once all is done, sewing on the buttons. Oh I hate sewing on buttons....But hey, we've come this far and a coat needs buttons. My method: ONE AT A TIME! Yes, I sew the buttons on one at a time. Start with the top. Sew on. Button up. Mark # 2. Sew on. Button both up. Mark # 3 and so on until finished. Because why? Because I can't stand it when one button is just ever so slightly out of place and tugs at the coat front. Remember the Quart coat? I sewed those bleeping buttons on multiple times until I got the button alignment and the plaid matching just right.

This is a good view of the completed placket. The silk insides are nicely hidden but the color match couldn't be better. I did hand stitch the edge of the placket closed, halfway between each buttonhole so that it wouldn't flop open and that worked really well. To create enough space for the buttonhole shank I taped two toothpicks together. A thick coat means the buttons need to be sewn on with a good 1/8 - 1/4" of space, in order to fit into the buttonhole and rest on the top of the coat without strain.

H coat sewing on buttons

OK - that's the scoop on my playing around with plackets. Up next - I have great photos of the completed coat modeled by the lovely owner.

And a backlog of other stuff to post here. Told ya I was going to blog more this year!

Happy -  is it still Winter? - Sewing,   Beth

Man, the weather is weird! My garden doesn't know what to do with itself, some things are blooming and others are thinking, what? where's the spring showers. Which don't look like they are arriving any time soon and people are starting to mention the dreaded "drought" word again. Yikes, again? after our nice rainy winter last year. But on the other hand, it is supposed to be about 72°F for at least the next week or so. California sunshine - hey, we just have to live with it, the good and the bad 😎.

Today's garden picture. I wish I could remember the name of this Salvia, it has turned out to be a weird plant, which I put in last spring, and it grew and grew, to 6 feet tall but never bloomed. And then recently out popped these flowers at the end of the long stalks. The color is fantastic but it's a bit of an odd one .However it has passed the bloom test - so it's a keeper for now.


Monday, January 29, 2018

Burda 01-2018-117 Blouse in Silk Charmeuse

In keeping with my previously stated goal to blog and document my sewing projects, I am posting this blouse that I recently finished. Timely, as it is from the January 2018 issue of Burda. I posted a few pics on  Insta and a number of people said they were interested to see it as it had caught their eye as well. Fair warning now - I've been really sick the past week, just feeling better in the last day or so but I jumped outside and took some rather sad photos via timer so I could do this post. I'm never motivated to take pictures this time of year, the garden looks scruffy, the light is meager and I just don't have that summer energy. But sewing continues so here goes.

This blouse is all about the front details, the curved yoke and the pleated sections alongside the button placket. As I mentioned on Instagram, I made a pretty substantial error, which I attribute entirely to inscrutable Burda instructions. Also I'm not all that familiar with their style, and then I typically don't read or use any instructions unless there is a special detail that is not readily obvious how to do. So I did read over the instructions because I needed to see how the pleated parts worked. Spoiler: there is no pattern piece for the pleated sections, just a "cut two pieces of X dimensions, then mark stitch lines X width apart, sew pleats, then cut out the needed pattern piece from the pleated fabric using template" What? although I followed it in a very detailed fashion and it came out perfectly, so who am I to criticize?


BUT - the big error came at the end when I just happened to look at the photo again to see where they placed the buttons, and realized that it was supposed to be a HIDDEN BUTTONHOLE placket. Which is a feature that I often add to silk blouses but did not seem apparent either in reading the directions or in the pattern pieces. So if anyone of you figures out that little detail I would be interested. But I think it would have added another layer of fabric in the seam along side the pleated section so not a problem that I missed it.

Tech drawing and slouchy not useful photo of the blouse on a model.

Burda shirt tech drawing

The front yoke is a double layer as well as the back, which gives a nice finish on the inside. This fabric is something I bought at an ASG sale, so I got 6 yards (45"wide) for $ 6.00. Stuck it in my lining bin and forgot about it. Saw it a couple of weeks ago and thought, hey - that feels rather nice. So I actually did a burn test, which is kind of fun, and decided it was real silk. It does press like real silk so that was a second confirmation. Not a bad find for six bucks :)

Burda blouse


I think I lightened up this photo of the back view, which has accentuated the wrinkles. But it probably could do with a good press. Do you ever get less than motivated to press the back of things, knowing that as soon as you wear it either the wrinkles will fall out or new ones will develop as you sit down?
Also when I put it on for the pictures I decided that the back is too long. I think I lengthened the whole thing with an idea to make it more tunic-y and flowy and then when hemming decided to make it regular shirt length, but the back is still longer and I need to go back and fix that.

Burda silk blouse back view

I did make a size 38 which is my usual size in Burda however I kind of forgot about adjusting at the hip area, usually I start with a 38 but for dresses I would grade out at the hip, adding 3 or 4 inches. But I was thinking loose shirt - no problem and didn't even think about checking the fit. And so I have this little correction.


Yep, I had to add a little wedge at the side seam. To return the hip circumference to a nice amount of ease. Without it I could have buttoned it but it would have had no ease and looked not right for a blouse.

Like I said, not the most energetic of garment photos...

blue dot shirt on me1

And navy blue is not really one of my top colors to wear, it seems so utilitarian to me, not fun in any way. So it is always the background basic in my wardrobe. But I did receive a new sweater as a Christmas present, and this silk blouse is perfect with that.

Burda silk blouse with sweater

I saw this blouse pattern today on the BurdaStyle website so if you want it and don't subscribe there it is.

This week I'm sewing like mad on a deadline to complete a cocktail dress for my friend Heather and the Hemisferic coat for her daughter. As of tonight the dress is all stitched together, needs a final fit check and then I will add the lining. The coat is all downhill from here, just need to sew on the buttons, do the hem and a few other details. The hidden buttonhole placket has turned out really well although I do cause myself more work as I kind of wing it as I go, instead of creating patterns for everything.

And then I am going to take a bit of a break - I've been sewing non-stop for 5 days (being sick really messed up my schedule) and I need to take a look outside, pull some weeds and generally get organized for spring!

Happy Sewing, Beth

Today's garden photo, a pale pink camellia. I have such mixed feelings about camellias. So many gardens around here have what are probably very old bushes. They seem to have gone out of style, garden-wise, but they are often quite large and established. The flowers are pretty but they only bloom for a few weeks and are so messy. But they add a lot of greenery and are tough, I like that in a plant.

pale pink camelia

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Random Threads # 30

Hello and how are you? It seems like a good day to write a Random Threads post since that is about as much energy as I can muster today. Whatever bug is going around has landed on me this weekend, so I am mostly laying on the couch, listening to podcasts and snoozing. It's so annoying to get sick, especially as I have so many other things I would rather be doing. Although I have accomplished a clean up of my desk and started a folder for tax stuff that is starting to arrive in the mail so I call that a win!

Finishing up a zillion projects that are in progress. I am making the Hemisféric coat from Pauline Alice Patterns for my friend Heather's daughter, in a beautiful burgundy wool coating we found at Stone Mountain. Also making a dress for Heather from Burda. They have an event on Feb 3 for which both these things need to be finished - so it's a good thing I started a while ago.

Hemisferic coat in progress

Here's a sneak peek at the coat. It looks a bit limp on the dress form and it partly basted together pending another fitting. Also I'm changing out the front zipper for a hidden button closure. I have tried it on myself as well, and it just might need some teardrop shape shoulder pads to keep the shaping of the shoulder seam just right. You can see that I never take out all my tailor's tack threads until I am done, once things are sewn up and with handling they start to fall out anyway. That is one thing I notice when I'm teaching sewing classes, everyone focuses on a different thing and some students are super fussy about stray threads, or some other detail that doesn't effect the task they are working on.

Wardrobe/Make 9/Sewing Planning:  oh my, this is the time of the year when everyone commits to some challenge or other, or takes a deep dive into sewing planning. That just seems like way too much to think about, and while I do plan or schedule in some areas of my life, with sewing I just go where my mood and the fabric finds take me. I feel the same way about gardening - some general ideas in mind but nothing carved in stone, and who knows what gorgeous plant or design idea I will come across. I find I get more accomplished riding a wave of new enthusiasm instead of trying to carry through on a concrete plan. So if I see a pattern I just must sew, well then I drop everything and do it. Reading lots of blogs and IG posts I am sure that making a sewing plan is helpful, particularly if you are trying to build a handmade wardrobe or have limited time and want to make the most of it. But no plan here - random sewing all the way.

Pleated Pants: 😱 nooooooo! please don't tell me they are back. Perhaps some like the style but I think they rarely look good. I mean you can have a sophisticated trouser that is not a close or slim fit pant, but pleats, why why why....I have seen a couple of pairs in my new Burda mags and somewhere else, maybe an indie or Simplicity? anyway you will not see me sewing these up this year or any year.

Burda Magazine: I'm quite glad I subscribed and wondering what took me so long. Although I will still be forever a fan of Vogue/McCalls/New Look and all the rest of the traditional American envelope style sewing patterns with their parchment colored tissue pattern paper and the light grey/dark grey instruction sheets. Partly that is familiarity but now that I've sewn with a lot of other pattern brands I think they are still really good (ok the best). Definitely you run across some quirks and instructions that are not easily understandable but I find that if you look at the diagram absolutely literally - to the point of placing your cut out pattern pieces with the pattern piece still attached near and at the same angle as shown in the instruction diagram, then walk your self through the maneuver they are diagramming you will find that it works.
Back to Burda - I just made a silk blouse using Burda Jan 2018, #117B, shown in two versions in the magazine, a pink silk one and a tan cotton one.  I scrutinized the photos closely, decided I liked the pleats and curved yoke, and sewed it up. Here's a sneak peek, and in an upcoming blog post I will discuss what I missed, until I reread the Burda instructions at the end for I can't remember what reason. Maybe you will spot it :)

Burda silk blouse sneek peek

Speaking of Burda magazine, I just got my February issue in the mail and already have picked out my favorite from this issue. Tunic dress # 109. I might just have to find a similar fabric too. pattern love!

Burda pick Feb 2018

Under the category of I just knew it: Did you see this dress on the Tessuti fabrics blog.Vogue 9237 (although their illustration is...not good)  I love the summery style of so many things I see on their blog. But when I saw that blog post I said HA! I knew that was a cute pattern and I included in a Pattern Whisperer post on loose-fit dresses last summer. And she did exactly what I would have done, which is to reshape the armhole in a more cutaway style, it looks more modern and less blocky that way. But so cute! now I have to get this pattern and try it out. I think fabric choice is key so this will take a bit of pondering.

Positive reinforcement works: It must be the holidays, and end of year reflections but I have received some amazing emails from blog readers thanking me and telling me how much they have learned or laughed or just enjoyed reading. I appreciate it so much and the feeling is mutual, I've met so many great people due to blogging and joining in with the online sewing community. When I say positive reinforcement works, I mean that I'm going to try and do more blog posts this year. Last year kind of got away from me, starting teaching at Hello Stitch, writing more posts for the Craftsy Sewing blog and a few other projects meant that I didn't do as much on my personal sewing blog. But I have a renewed interest lately and quite a few things already sewn and ready to write about. Just have to take the pictures - what else is new.  Speaking of photos,

How many photos is too many? Is it just me or do you kind of laugh when you read a blog post and it has 20 photos. Of the same garment. On the same person. And they all look just about the same. I scroll faster and faster looking for information, thinking Ok already I see the dress/top/pants whatever on you and now I want to know some sewing details. (hey it's not a real Random Threads post if I don't get a bit cranky about one or two topics).

Cardigans: what is it about cardigans? Do you have a garment that you can't stand? I'm sure everyone has one type of garment that they just don't like and cardigans are it for me. They look nice on some people and I can see the utility, also a good way to complete an outfit but will never wear a cardigans. And now people are sewing them, eek. I bet if you think about it you have some type of garment which you don't like and will never wear. A wrap skirt? Peasant top? dirndl skirt? even one of my favorites - the blazer jacket is probably an anathema to some of you. Confess - what is the garment style you can't stand?

Sleeve mania: Shows no signs of slowing down. Most of the new pattern releases have had tops and dresses with even more sleeve volume and variation that I could have predicted. I saw this top in Macy's over the holidays and it is kind of interesting. To make it I think I would sew all the pin tucks in a piece of fabric and then cut out the sleeve. Might try it as I have not made anything with crazy sleeves yet. Mostly because I know they will bug me and I will regret it. But I will still probably try it out. Can't help myself.

Blue pleated sleeve

As for recently completed items, I've actually worn my faux fur vest a few times and I'm starting to like it more - so cozy.  Next up I might get to that blue two-sided wool I bought at Mood over a year ago, I already finished the silk blouse which goes with it. And we have Frocktails coming up, with the Bay Area Sewists in a couple of weeks. Now I should have something in my closet already right? but you never know. I could wear my Aldaia dress  although knowing me I will want something a bit warmer. On another note I have to thank those of you who got all my Spinal Tap references in that Aldaia dress post and commented - sometimes I think of things to say in these blog posts but worry that people will think "what is she talking about?" Ok now I know at least some of you will get a laugh at my goofy references.

What else is next? Planning for our spring classes at Hello Stitch Studio, the schedule should be on their website in the next week. I think we will have a dress class, garment copying, pattern fitting and some mini classes on specific skills. The February schedule is on line now and includes my new favorite class, Pattern Basics - How to Read a Sewing Pattern. Which is so much more than it sounds and even if you are have been sewing for a while it could be a good review. But perfect for someone just getting started or who has been away from sewing for a while.

Stay warm and well everybody - spring is just around the corner. At least let's tell ourselves that, right?

Happy Sewing, Beth 

We can't complain here in N. California, although it would be great if we could have some more rain. But the first daffodils are already blooming in my yard.

Burda pick Feb 2018

Friday, January 12, 2018

Sewing on a whim: Faux Fur and leather vest McCalls 7693

Do you every make something completely on a whim? An item that is totally unnecessary - more than that, something that you think when will I even wear this? I find that is exactly what I have done, and spent far more time than reason would suggest to sew up this faux fur vest. Which like many things is difficult to photograph, keep scrolling for a better look.

M7693 faux fur vest

I mean, really? I blame Stone Mountain fabrics. In the best possible way 😊.
One day I was there to get a specific color lining - or something very practical like that and just out of the corner of my eye I spied a bin filled with all kinds of interesting furry remnants. The first thing I pulled out was this one - which is a black faux fur on one side and a shimmery black faux leather on the other side. And the piece was $ 12. Madness overtook me and I bought it. Thinking maybe to use for collars or some such details. But no, the idea of a vest entered my mind and here we are.

However the sewing was a saga. It seemed interminable!!! Perhaps because I wanted to retain that leather side, I decided to make it unlined. This seemed like a shortcut but no. More on that later. I wanted to use a simple pattern and I wanted it to have some kind of collar as my neck is always cold, so this pattern seemed like a good choice, as it was a vest and had an interesting collar. In the end I made it work but it was a long way to get there.  McCalls 7693 is the pattern I used.

M7693 pattern envelope

First up - a little pattern alteration. I realized that the collar piece is cut on the bias. But my fabric had no give at all, behaved like leather, so I had to create a rounded back neck section to do with shape what a bias pattern piece could do. I did a small adjustment on the front to lengthen, and then copied all the pattern pieces so I could cut everything at once instead of flipping or cutting two layers which with this odd remnant was not possible.  Here is the layout, I cut with the fur facing down, and still have some sizable chunks remaining for future luxurious embellishments on yet to be imagined projects.

fur vest cutting out

M7693 faux fur vest in sun

And to think I wasn't going to include pockets. Good thing I came to my senses during the construction because now they seem absolutely necessary.

Back to sewing. Here it is completed. This neat and tidy photo does not indicate the amount of fuzz that I have recently endured in my sewing space. And on whatever I'm wearing. And find in every room of the house. I finally came up with a technique which can be referred to as shake the heck out of it and let rain all those little hairs until every pattern piece had shed its fuzzy edges and was relatively safe to handle.

fur vest on form

Details of the sewing conundrum. Since I decided not to line it, then the collar needed some kind of finish on the underside. So the collar was lined and I flipped the seam to the underside of the shawl, so it is actually clean finished on the inside of the neckline and then covered by the lining under collar.  Hard to explain but if you sew this pattern it would make sense. This photo below shows the shawl collar with the lining, which is machine stitched at the outer edge, and then hand stitched to the vest where all the pins are. It gave a tidy finish and I got through a few movies while sitting and stitching.

fur vest before elastic

Note the two piece back. After I was putting it together, I was really sorry that I cut it in two pieces, because the seam did nothing for the fur look, and just made it stiff. But as always, a few hours of dress form time gave me an idea, so I flipped the bottom piece so the leather was on the outside. And to me much better. Also the pattern has no shaping, and in a fabric this might work but the stiffness of the faux fur/leather made it look like a barrel in the back. So I put elastic in the back and it gives it some nice shaping and interest. I think it makes it look more like real leather.

fur vest back view on form

M7693 faux fur vest back view

Back to hand sewing. Call me crazy but I didn't like how the seam allowances behaved once it was stitched together, so I hand stitched every one flat. And in the case of the collar I hand stitched them down before enclosing with the collar lining. Which is a scrap of charcoal grey silk charmeuse I found in my lining scrap bin. Despite all the hand sewing, the actual machine sewing was a breeze. No special treatment - no walking foot, used pins, regular 80 universal needle.

fur vest inside stitching

The armholes are also bound with the silk charmeuse.

faux fur vest armhole binding

All in all I'm very satisfied with the way the collar turned out, it feels great and has the right amount of shaping for a nice shawl collar.

M7693 faux fur vest closeup

The last spot that I had to do a bit of improvising was at the center front sections below the waist seam. In the end I decided to finish them off with more silk and then leave the bottom end raw. The pockets are attached to the waist seam so they won't peek out below the hem edge. I really like the leather side and wish I could have figured out a way to use more of it.

fur vest inside front lapel

M7693 faux fur vest white background2

Every once in a while it's nice to sew something completely wacky, just to stretch the creative muscles. And astound your friends by declaring that you made it.

Time to dash - (can you tell I am enamored of the action shots these days, although I spared you a time)

M7693 faux fur vest 2

Happy New Year Sewing,


By the way, at Hello Stitch Studio in February we have the Copy A Garment class again so if you have a beloved item that is getting past it's prime - clone it! My next blog post should be my copied pants which I am really happy and plan to make pants in any color that strikes my fancy.

Other classes are listed on their website, and if you have a particular class. specific garment or pattern you would like to do in a class please let me know - we're open to any class ideas.

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