Friday, November 14, 2014

Constructing my Faux Missoni

The "Chase Crush" Missoni-esque knit that I've chosen for this project is pretty light weight and VERY stretchy. It just doesn't feel substantial enough for a jacket. I had also ordered a dark purple bamboo knit from Vogue Fabrics, thinking that I would use it for Thread Theory's new Finlayson Sweater, but it also feels too light. My solution is to combine the two fabrics. Interlining with the bamboo will give me the heft I need. It's also incredibly soft. I wish you could feel this fabric. Soft as any cashmere sweater.

So here we go!


I'm a "baste-a-holic" so none of this bothered me. The pattern pieces were cut and then sandwiched together to act as a single layer of fabric. This process went quickly using cotton basting thread. It's amazing how having the right thread can make all the difference. This type of thread is virtually tangle proof, so you just zip along. Highly recommended. I threw in some extra vertical and horizontal lines of basting to keep everything in place.



I learned from making my muslin that knits want to roll up after they've been cut. My Missoni-esque fabric is no exception. It's also quite loosely knit and I was worried about its stability. (Probably totally unfounded, but I'm new to knits and they unnerve me!). As extra insurance I applied a fusible knit interfacing to the hem of the jacket. This is Pro-Tricot Deluxe Fusible interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply. This is a whisper weight stretch fusible, and was SO easy to work with. It fused effortlessly with very slight pressure on a wool steam setting. All my rolling and stabilization issues solved! Maybe I can work with knits after all.



The patch pockets were stabilized with interfacing, and then lined with some leftover acetate from my stash of scraps. The pattern doesn't include this step, but then again it's a "quick and easy" pattern. I figure if you can make something better, why not take the time. It can sometimes make the difference between a garment you really love to wear, and one that just sits in the closet.


All the seams were both basted and pinned before stitching. I'm happy to report that I had absolutely no difficulty sewing this on my Singer 301(a no frills straight-stitch).



I wanted the sleeves to be lined so that there would be no raw edges to be finished. I used the technique from Roberto Cabrera's book on men's tailoring, (minus all the handstitching!). The inside out lining is place on top of the inside out sleeve with the seams aligned. I then zigzagged the seam allowances together so there would be some stretch. (Here you can also see the interfacing appplied to the cuff hem.) After zigzagging the seam allowances, I reach down through the lining and pull the sleeve up through it. Bam! A perfectly lined sleeve.



The two layers are then basted together at the top to keep the fabric acting as a single layer.




While I had my little Brother zigzag machine out, I added parallel rows of stitching along the roll line of the under collar toward the neckline as suggested in the pattern directions. This helps make a more substantial and stable collar.


Things are moving along, and I'm thrilled with my results so far. Next up is figuring out how to make a buttonhole in this kind of fabric.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

The "Phoney Missoni" Muslin

I figure that this sweater / blazer will cost somewhere in the $100 range to make. Considerably less than the real deal, but still enough of an investment to deserve the full muslin treatment.


A $2 jersey knit sheet from Goodwill turned out to be the perfect muslin material. It looks a little crazy but it served the purpose. It also gave me some practice working with a knit, which was much easier than I was anticipating. Talk about a whole lot of worrying over nothing!



So here is version #1, right out of the gate. All things considered not too bad. One of the defining features of the Missoni jacket is its soft shoulders. My inspiration garments don't appear to have any shoulder pads. My pattern, however, is designed for them. So my major alteration will be to adjust the sleeve head.


I measured the sleeve cap of my pattern and compared it to the armscye. Result --- There is 1.5 inches of ease in the sleeve cap. This is what gives the little "poof" at the shoulder which gets filled out with shoulderpads and sleeve heads. Exactly the look I DON'T want! So I set about removing the extra ease.


I'm not exactly sure where I first saw this little You Tube video, but it turned out to be the perfect solution.


The process is quite simple. First the pattern is slashed from side to side at the armpit level. Then a second slit is made perpendicular up to the "dot" at the apex of the sleeve cap. The two pattern pieces are then rotated (in my case, overlapped) to take out the ease. Ridiculously easy. Note: If you have a two piece sleeve just tape the two pattern pieces together before slashing.




It ends up looking like this.



And here is the result. My right shoulder has had the ease removed. The left shoulder is the pattern as drafted, and you can see how a shoulder pad would fit in there. Definitely NOT the look I'm going for. Removing the ease made the right shoulder a little too wide, so I ended up cutting about a 1/2" crescent off the shoulder between the front and back notches. This eliminated the "dropped shoulder" look.



The completed shoulder adjustment. The sleeve went in perfectly without any ease. Talk about easy!


My only other adjustment was the overall length of the jacket. I had already taken out 1.5", but it was still much longer than any of my inspiration models (in which the sleeves and body are pretty much the same length).



Out came another 2 inches.



This is much more like it! I'm happy with the fit and ready to dive in.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Laying the Groundwork for my Next Project

This project has me really excited. It's all about having the clothes that I'd love to wear, but could never afford. It's also a new challenge because it involves knits, something I've never tried.

First, my inspiration....

The Missoni sweater / blazer.


I LOVE this look. There's something about Missoni that I find very approachable. It always looks so put together, but in a very relaxed way. I guess I'd call it "friendly fashion". It's soft, relatively unstructured, and most importantly....colorful! Unfortunately, I don't have a spare $1800 hanging around right now! Plus it would be so much more fun to try to make something like this.


The artistry here just blows me away!


Armani does this sweater / jacket look too, but somehow it just seems a little severe and off putting. (Inspite of the raglan sleeves). Could you be friends with this guy?



Or you have to be Adonis with it stretched across your gym toned pecs!

But I digress!


With a vision in my head I went on the search for colorful sweater knits via Google and ended up at Vogue Fabrics. They had several "Missoni-esque" knits which really got my wheels spinning. I'm glad to report that I'm getting smarter about buying fabric online. No more fabric disappointments for this guy. I still haven't quite recovered from the "cheap stretch velvet" incident! Vogue Fabrics offers a swatch service for $1/ swatch. I ordered 4 and had them within a week. Best $4 I've spent in awhile.



Not huge swatches ( about 2" square), but enough to get the general idea. All four were really winners, but I limited myself to ordering just three. Again, I had my fabric within a week for a mere $6 shipping charge. Score!


Next I turned to Etsy in search of a pattern, and came up with two choices.


From 1979, this Simplicity unlined blazer specifically for stretch knits. Check out the shoulders on the green version!



Also this Butterick, which promises a time saving shortcut!



The Butterick is different for a man's blazer, in that it has a back yoke and one piece sleeves. It's very straight "boxy" through the torso. Appealing, but just not right for this project. I think this would make a great linen Spring jacket, so I've filed it away for the future.



The Simplicity has a two piece sleeve and is more fitted. It also has the requisite patch pockets. There are only 2 vertical seams opposed to the 3 seams of the Butterick. Simpler is better in this case. Especially since I've never sewn a knit before. So the Simplicity wins!


I'm off to buy ball point needles (the only thing I really know about sewing knits), and then I'll get started on a muslin.


And since some have asked.....

I'm facing new challenges with the boat as well! One step at a time


Happy sewing!


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Falling for Foulard

I haven't posted anything for well over a month, but it doesn't mean there hasn't been any sewing going on in my world. These two projects, a foulard shirt and a pair of velvet Jeds have been finished for well over two weeks now. The weather just hasn't cooperated for an outdoor photo shoot. Finally, we had a partly sunny day, so I quickly set up the camera and shot these pics in my deer ravaged yard.


First up, the shirt.



This is a French viscose foulard from Elliot Berman, my favorite NYC fabric stop. I believe it was almost 60" wide, so I was easily able to get a shirt out of just two yards with plenty to spare. It's a soft olive green with little teal bits, both colors I love and that work well with my expanding "me made" wardrobe. But the real attraction is the positively delicious drape of this fabric. I wish you could feel how hefty, luxurious and fluid it is.


That fluidity, however, made for a challenging shirtmaking project. Not that it was difficult to sew.... The challenge was in the matching required for the fronts. There's an underlying grid to the pattern that really requires careful matching both horizontally and vertically. My "cutting table" is a glass topped Ikea desk, and the fabric was slip sliding all over the place. I really couldn't tell what was happening under the pattern pieces.



My solution was to illuminate the fabric from behind with a small desk lamp. This way I could accurately pin on the pattern and maintain the grid in both directions. Time consuming, yes, but ultimately worth the effort in the end.


The pay off!


This shirt has a spread collar interfaced with Shirt Crisp fusible interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply.


A shirt is a shirt, is a shirt.... So I decided to make a little matching bow tie with the leftover scraps. I own some real bow ties, so I used them as a guide for the overall size. One of my favorites has pointed ends, so I tried to replicate that look. Essentially, I just made it up as I worked along. No rocket science required!



It just attaches with a snap at the back. Simple.




I've also banged out a pair of velvet Jeds. Sadly, the fabric here isn't really anything to write home about. It's been in my stash for a long time. It was a bargain fabric purchased online from Denver Fabrics. I might have paid $6 a yard for it, and, to tell the truth, it looks it. There's no way to sugar coat it, it's cheap fabric. Certainly nothing like the velvet I picked up at Britex last year. But, then again, that fabric was originally something like $75 a yard!

If there's one positive thing I can say about cheap stretch velvet, it's easy to work with. No velvet pin boards required for this stuff. I was able to press this stuff with reckless abandon!

So these may not be the velvet pants of my dreams, but they're serviceable and easy to care for. So I plan to just wear the hell out of them this fall and winter.



I think the pocketing fabric might be nicer than the pants fabric! This is the fourth pair of Jeds that I've made. I never tire of the way they finish up.



Using the tutorial on the Thread Theory website, I redrafted the back and made welt pockets instead of patch pockets. It's surprisingly easy to do, and makes for a slightly dressier look.


My next project will be a little more complex and involve uncharted territory for me..... Namely, knits!

Wishing you all happy sewing!


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Last Hurrah of Summer Sewing

I don't know what it's like where you live, but summer has come to a screeching halt here in Maine. I'm sitting in front of a little electric heater as I write this. It seems almost silly to be blogging about clothes that most likely won't get worn again until next summer. Bear with me, but here goes.


I managed to bang out two pairs of linen shorts in time for the Labor Day wedding. Both are Thread Theory's Jedediah pattern. One pair is made according to the pattern, with back yoke and patch pockets. The other is made without the yoke, it has back darts and welt pockets. Here is a link to a tutorial on the Thread Theory website that shows how to make this change. The Jedediah pattern is already my "go to" pant pattern. Having the ability to change the back pockets makes it even more indispensable.


First up, the patch pocket version.


The patch pockets are finished off with gingham bias binding.



Here I'm wearing them with my new linen camp shirt.

The Jeds shorts can be rolled up to expose the binding at the side seams. I tried it, but decided it just wasn't working for me. I'll leave that look to younger guys with better legs!


The patch pockets are placed a little higher than specified in the pattern. It just works and feels better for me. I added a little gingham tag just for fun.



Here is the welt pocket version in process. The Thread Theory tutorial shows how to redraft the back and add the dart. It also details how to construct the pocket. I opted to use Roberto Cabrera's pocket instructions because I'm more familiar with them. Either way, it looks complicated but it's WAY easier than you might think.



I have an earlier PDF of the Jeds pattern, and have changed the sequence of sewing them up. I make all the pockets first and then move on to the fly. I sew just a few inches of the crotch seam. It keeps everything flat, and makes constructing the fly much easier. Once the fly is finished I sew the flat felled inseams. Then I move on to the outer seams. It will look the picture above. I leave the crotch seam till last.


Here is the completed inside. It takes a yard of cotton fabric, a batik in this case, to make the pockets and bias binding for a pair of Jeds. This batik was only $5. Well worth the additional expense and time spent to have such a fun finish on the inside. I love it.


I'm a big brown / purple combination fan.

That's it for summer sewing. In retrospect I accomplished a lot this season. A suit, two shirts, two pairs of shorts and a last minute pair of cargo pants. I still have material for another pair of shorts, but I'm totally over them. Into the stash it goes until next spring.


On the horizon....



Dark brown velvet Jeds with a somewhat William Morris fabric for the pockets and trim. Fall has arrived!