My Sewcation

Sewing patterns for sewcation - csews.com

I took off the entire week after Christmas for a sewcation. I had a pile of patterns and fabric that had been sitting around for months and months. It’s hard to believe that 2014 is over! But I didn’t get much sewing done last year so I thought if I finally had some time I could really get going on some things.

I went through my patterns to see what I wanted to make first. The Deer & Doe Chardon Skirt with inverted box pleats was the first one I tackled. Last year I participated in the Quirky Peach’s Summer Stashbust 2014 and fell in love with the pleats on the Chardon Skirt when I saw the version made by Camille of Attack of the Seam Ripper.

I’ve always associated pleats with plaids (not my thing) and my high school uniform (green plaid) and I also avoided them because they just don’t work with my curvy figure. They won’t lay flat. (I usually have to grade up a size in the hips.) But when I saw the inverted pleats, I thought Eureka! Pleats that even I can wear!

If you follow me on Instagram (@csews), you may have seen some of my WIP photos. Here one I posted before it was hemmed.

Deer & Doe Chardon Skirt - csews.com

Inverted box pleats are great for people with hips! I didn’t have to grade the pattern up in the hips! I just traced a straight size 44. I’ll be posting about it as soon as I take photos of it. I also cut out two more Chardon skirts (one with the contrast band and one maxi) and drafted/cut a lining for the maxi.

I finally traced and cut out my muslin for a Sewaholic Renfrew top. I’ve had this pattern for ages but somehow haven’t gotten around to making it yet. I have yards of black knit fabric that I got for $3 yard at the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse.

The top middle pattern with the lady in the red jacket is a 1950 Vogue vintage reissue V2934, which I got a few years ago. The suggested fabrics are satin, velvet tweed, Ottoman (I don’t know what that is), and lightweight woolen. I have some black sweatshirt material that would be great for this jacket and then I wouldn’t have to bother with hair canvas interfacing. Plus it seems a bit subversive to use lowly sweatshirt fabric for this jacket.

I got as far as cutting the pattern – yes, I cut the pattern! I didn’t trace because size large is 16-18 – plenty of ease for me and there are no bust darts. And I prewashed my sweatshirt fabric.

I’m sure many of you recognize Colette Patterns Moneta. I got as far as finishing up cutting out my tracing of this pattern. I’ve been wanting to make it using a striped knit fabric but the thought of stripe matching has kinda put a damper on that. Plus I have yet to make a muslin of it. I want to make a version with inverted pleats, rather than gathering at the waist, which I’ve never done with a knit.

I haven’t done anything with the Esme top yet – it’s a Sew Liberated pattern that I bought at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics, which is also where I bought the Deer & Doe pattern. I’m soooo lucky that my local fabric store carries indie patterns!

Oh, and I nearly  forgot – I made a muslin of this vintage Vogue pattern – 8343 from the 1970s as far as I can tell. It has princess seams – with four panels in front and in the back.

Vintage Vogue 8343 - csews.com

I used this brown jersey fabric I had in my stash. It’s rather thin though and my fashion fabric is a wool double-knit. Clearly, I will need to do an SBA, which I’m excited about because I’ve never done one with princess seams. I’ve read that it’s pretty easy because you just take it in along the seam allowances. How easy is that?

Muslin - princess seams - csews.com

I haven’t attached the sleeves yet. I think I’ll make another muslin with an SBA and then attach the sleeves. My wool jersey was really expensive so I want to make sure the fit is perfect before I cut into it.

My other goal was to make a tote bag using this fabulous oil cloth – at least that’s how it was identified at Britex Fabrics. I bought it 30 percent off at the store’s rare Black Friday sale. It normally retails for $30/ yard. I got 3/4 yard to make my bag. I love the print!

Oil cloth - csews.com

But I was worried about whether it would rip along the seams after some wear and tear. I got some great tips from folks on IG, including one from Brooke of Custom Style (@sewbrooke) who suggested sewing with duck cloth canvas underneath the stress points. Angela of Sewn by Angela (@sewnbyangela) suggested using a long stitch length to avoid tearing.

Then I took it with me to Stonemountain & Daughter and one helpful lady behind the counter suggested lining it with canvas or ticking fabric. So I checked out the ticking (they had several colors) and found this great red ticking that goes perfectly with my print! Oh, and I was told that my print wasn’t oil cloth but fabric that’s been coated. So maybe it will wear better than I think. She also suggested that the straps run the length of the bag so it wouldn’t have so much stress at the very top. I’m pondering that but I don’t want the straps on the outside, covering up the print so maybe I’ll sandwich the straps in between the fabrics.

Oil cloth and ticking fabrics - csews.com

I do want it to be sturdy. Maybe I need to make a test bag before I sew this up. 😉

Meanwhile, I prewashed my ticking and looked at all my sewing books that have bag patterns or ideas. I went through a spate of book buying a couple of years ago – some of them I picked up at Half Price Books for less than $10 each and the rest I ordered via Amazon. But I’ve only made one or two projects from all of these books.

books with bag patterns - csews.com

None of them quite had anything that I really wanted to make using this combination of fabrics but I did get some good ideas from Sew the Perfect Bag, a 2010 book with bag projects from Sew News magazine. I’ll be figuring out my own dimensions and construction later this month.

Oh, and I told the hubster I would make him a Newcastle Cardigan in black fleece. Last year I made a ton of adjustments to the pattern to get it to fit better and made him one in blue fleece (uh, I should mention that the first one I made in a double-faced black fleece was way too small). I told him I would make him one in black fleec. I had him try on the blue one again and he asked if I could make it a little lower in the back – it needed a butt adjustment. So I adjusted the pattern one more time, prewashed the black fleece and cut it out. After I attached the sleeves and had him try it on, he asked if it could be a little longer – what? Luckily, he didn’t want it to be too much longer so I just added a band along the bottom.

By day I traced/prewashed/cut/sewed and then at night my hubby and I listened to music and read aloud various books. For the past several weeks, I’ve been reading The Universal Tone, Carlos Santana’s fascinating autobiography. It’s full of great stories of his encounters with various musicians over the decades as well as a very personal look at his childhood, family, and spiritual and musical development. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of music, particularly of the blues and jazz. It was truly inspiring to read and one of the best autobiographies I’ve ever read. Last Friday, I read the final page. I was sorry to put it down – and it was more than 500 pages!

Here’s what I ended up doing during my sewcation:

  • Traced Deer & Doe Chardon skirt and Sewaholic Renfrew patterns
  • Traced/drafted Chardon skirt to a maxi length
  • Drafted a lining for a Chardon maxi
  • Went to Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics four times – to look at fabric for another Chardon skirt, buy lining/thread for a maxi skirt, seam tape for first Chardon, fabric  for contrast band of my next Chardon skirt, get buttons for the Newcastle Cardigan (I thought I had buttons!). I live within walking distance of this great fabric store, which is open seven days a week.
  • Cut fabric three Chardon skirts: floral print, black-and-white print on hemp/cotton blend with solid black contrast band, Dutch wax print maxi
  • Cut black knit fabric for a Sewaholic Renfrew, View A
  • Prewashed fabric
  • Sewed 1 Chardon skirt (finished!)
  • Sewed muslin of vintage Vogue dress (fabric was already cut)
  • Sewed Thread Theory Newcastle Cardigan for hubby (finished!)

I thought I would have completed more garments but at least I’ve got a good start on a few things! How long does it take you to finish something?

BTW – I’m giving away a 2015 Fashion calendar. For details, please read my post Happy Sewing – Fashion Calendar Giveaway!  and comment by 11:59 pm Pacific tonight (limited to U.S. residents, sorry but international shipping costs are too high)!

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Making Colette Patterns Jasmine Top – Part 2

My finished Jasmine top (photo by Kofi Natambu)

For this post, I pick up where I left off in Part 1 — I had sewed the front and back pieces together and attached the collar.

Now I tried on the top to see how it fit. I was swimming in it. It was way too wide. I think I was overcompensating on the size because the instruction booklet says, “Colette Patterns have less ease than other patterns to provide a closer, more tailored fit.” I didn’t want the top to be too small so I opted for the larger size. It fit well in the shoulders but everything from the bust and below was too wide. I was swimming in it.

So I went back to the my machine to sew another seam about a half-inch from the current seam to see how that would work. I left the bust darts as is.

Adjusting the sleeve

I made these adjustments on the fly. I didn’t mark where the new seam would go. I just looked in the mirror, pinched the fabric where I thought the seam should go and then went to the machine to sew the new seam.

I tried it on again and the fit was good. Then I looked at the top to see how this adjustment would affect the sleeves. I needed to adjust the sleeve width or the sleeve would be wider than the armhole.

My down-and-dirty adjustment? I basted the sleeve seam to match the width I adjusted on the top. Then I pinned that sleeve to the opening to see if that would fit and luckily it did.

My next step was to pin, baste, and sew the sleeves in place. (Note: The sleeves are slightly gathered at the top, a very nice detail.) Once the sleeves are attached, you hang the shirt up overnight. In a bias cut piece of clothing, you need to let the fabric settle so you’ll have a straight hem.

The following day — as you can see from the photo below — the hem really needed to be trimmed. I took my Gingher rotary cutter and sliced off the excess fabric. Then I was ready to iron and sew the hem!

The hemming instructions said to “[t]urn the lower edge under 1/4″ and press”; then “Turn again 3/8″ and stitch. ” With narrow hems, I like to baste them in place before sewing with a machine. This helps prevent the fabric from getting slightly off as you’re sewing and then you have either too much or too little fabric as you  get to the end of the seam.

Though the pattern says that any lightweight fabric will work (silk crepe, silk twill, cotton shirting, etc.), the pattern likely works best with fabric that has a soft hand. The shirting I used didn’t drape  very much, even with a bias cut — as a result, I felt like I needed to wear a belt with the shirt to make it work.

Pining sleeve in place

 

Trimming the hem

 

Basting hem in place

Making Colette Patterns Jasmine Top – Part 1

I bought this “Jasmine” top pattern from Colette Patterns earlier this year. For fabrics, I decided to use a striped cotton shirting, a remnant I got from Britex Fabrics a while ago. I thought it would be a nice contrast to this feminine style and make full use of this bias-cut pattern.

The instructions mentioned that the pattern was fitted so be careful to pick the correct size (the pattern goes from size 0-18) and to be precise in cutting the fabric. I decided to go with size 10 because I have wide hips.

This was the perfect project to use my new and elegant Gingher rotary cutter. It cuts like a dream!

My Gingher rotary cutter (notice the stainless steel washers as pattern weights)

For pattern weights I used these large stainless steel washers I got from Home Depot – a tip from The Colette Sewing Handbook by Sarai Mittnick (lots of tips and plenty of patterns in this book).

The front and the back are each made from two pieces cut on the bias. So if you’re using a striped fabric, the stripes will at a 45-degree angle, making a V where they meet at the seam down the middle. the stipes are tiny on this fabric so I didn’t worry about matching them up. There are also bust darts in the front.

Once the front and back pieces are done, then they get sewn together on the side seams. The next step is the neckline.

The only slight problem was the center loop that you thread the tie pieces through.

The center front loop

The pattern cutting layout indicates that you’re supposed to cut two pieces of this 3/8-inch strip of fabric. But the pattern instructions say that the seam allowance is 1/4-inch seam, which doesn’t make sense. The illustrated instructions indicate that it’s supposed to be cut on the fold. So I cut another loop, doubling the width to 3/4-inch wide.

Other than that minor snafu, it is an easy pattern to sew and the instructions are clear. Part 2 will focus on the sleeves and adjusting the size.

Front of Jasmine bias cut top