Monday, April 25, 2016

Blazer of 2016 -- Muslin #1

After weeks of procrastinating I jumped into the muslin phase, and it didn't take long to figure out that I've got my hands full with this pattern. There were some pretty glaring problems right out of the envelope. So I decided to do some "preemptive" adjustments.

 

First off, the center back seam is ramrod straight and I know that I have what Roberto Cabrera calls "stooped posture". Doesn't sound very attractive, but it beats Dowager's Hump any day! (Actually, I think they're one in the same). I need more curve to the upper back, otherwise the collar will pull away from the back of my neck. Not a good look.

 

 

The fix for this is to create a 1/2 to 3/4 inch dart from below the arm hole to the center back. This has the effect of tilting the upper jacket forward. So here you see my adjusted pattern over the original.

 

To prevent the front of the jacket from drooping down, a corresponding dart is made on the jacket front.

 

 

And it looks like this.

 

Sleeves on jackets are always too long for me, so I shortened the sleeves by 1 inch.

 

I removed 1/2" both above and below the elbow on the "shorten here" lines from my pattern. Using Swedish tracing paper makes this a breeze. I just fold it and stitch a 1/4" seam on my machine. I also reduced the ease on the sleeve cap by 1". My goal is to create a more natural shoulder. Time will tell if I can pull that off.

 

Lastly, I noticed the the front and back shoulder seams are the same length. According to Cabrera the back shoulder should be at least 1/2" longer than the front. Easing the back into the front creates room for the shoulder blade. I don't have a picture, but I simply added 1/2" at the arm hole side of the pattern.

 

So here's what those changes turned into.....

 

 

The center back adjustment has worked, but I think I still need a touch more curve. As you can see the collar still doesn't want to sit against the back of my shirt collar. The shoulder seam is also running to the back of my shoulder. This isn't a fitting issue addressed in Cabrera, but I feel that the shoulder line needs to be swung forward about a 1/2" so that it sits closer to the apex of my shoulder. It would be a simple fix. Please chime in if you know the answer to this problem! Am I on the right track? My gut just tells me it needs fixing.

 

 

Eeeeek. The big problems are up front. The neckline is just too wide. Plus, I feel the jacket pulling across the shoulder / upper chest like there just isn't enough fabric there. I think the solution to this mess may be two pronged. I'm going to try redrawing the neckline to add a bit of fabric towards my neck, in addition to slashing and separating the upper chest portion a small amount. Maybe 3/8" to start. I'm open to all suggestions on this one. Something's gotta give!

 

 

All these wrinkles are telling me I need a substantial belly adjustment! Also, the button placement (marked with chalk) on the original pattern is unusual to say the least. I'll need to lower the stance by bringing the top button down at least to the level of the pin, maybe even lower.

 

Before sending this muslin to the dust bin, I let the side seams out about 3/4" on each side.


 

This was the only glimmer of hope in what was, over all, a pretty dismal start.

 

On a brighter note......I picked up some lovely thistle design blazer buttons on eBay.

 

 

These are from Waterbury Button in Waterbury, CT. "The brass Capitol of the United States". I love them. Now I just need to build a damn jacket around them!

 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Blazer of 2016, The Struggle to Launch

 

I've assembled everything I need for this project, but.......my tailoring mojo has decided to go on vacation somewhere. So while I wait for it to come back, I'll share where things currently stand.

 

First up.... Things to make tailoring a jacket easier.

 

Never underestimate the power of thread! If you don't already own a spool of #40 cotton basting thread, go out and get one now. It's amazing how something so simple can make such a huge difference in your sewing. It's virtually tangle free, so it makes basting a breeze rather than an exercise in frustration. Soon, you'll be basting everything.

Another tangle free wonder is silk thread. There's a considerable amount of hand sewing in a tailored jacket so if one can make it easier, why not? Do the mere words "pad stitching" strike fear into your heart? Fear not. Silk thread will make it a walk in the park.

These spools are sitting on some black pocketing that I picked up at Steinlauf and Stoller during the MPB Winter Frolic. It has a woven in stripe. Classy and silly inexpensive, $7/ yd. The gold silk thread won't see all that much use. I'll use it for pickstitching the lining.

P

 

Other supplies that make life easier are premade sleeve heads (on the left), and premade hair canvas jacket fronts (right). The jacket fronts are sold by the chest size, and are very reasonable. I think about $12 / pair. Sure, you can make your own, and they may be superior, but you will pay much more just for the materials. In the end, I'm just not that much of a tailoring purist.

 

Materials in hand, I turn to the pattern.....

 

 

This pattern is from 1969. Purchased on Etsy. This pattern is unusual in the very small world of men's patterns, because it doesn't have darts running down the center of the jacket fronts. Instead, the darts extend from under the arm. This makes it the ideal pattern for a plaid jacket. The plaid is uninterrupted the entire length of the front. And for the truly ambitious, the pocket flaps can be matched as well!

 

 

Maybe someday I'll attempt a plaid jacket. That thought is driving me to "perfect" the fitting of this pattern to the best of my ability; knowing full well that perfection isn't really in my DNA. Unfortunately, it hasn't gotten off to a very good start. It's gonna take some serious mojo. More of the struggle next time.

 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Geezer meets Yeezy

What can I say? Sometimes you gotta....

 

 

Because, apparently, there's nothing that can't be improved by adding a hoodie to it!

 

 

 

Leather jacket, fur coat, camel hair coat.... Hood-i-fy it man!

 

 

Enter Quik Sew 2292, made up in an athleisure fabric from Gorgeous Fabrics. Streetwear for the senior set!

 

All joking aside, I wouldn't recommend this pattern to anyone. I have no idea who they thought this vest would ever fit. The shoulders were virtually square, and the back was enormous. Basically, a couple of rectangles with a hood stuck on it. It's also designed with 1/4" seam allowances which would have been impossible for me to deal with. (No fancy serger here!). It was a battle from the word go, and this is one project I'm very glad to put behind me.

 

 

I've modified the front with a concealed button placket. The fabric, lovely as it is, isn't very buttonhole friendly.


 

I constructed the placket out of quilting cotton from JoAnn's. This is my third athleisure garment and I'm seriously grayed out. Hence the red buttonholes.

 

 

To counter the overall blandness of the whole garment, I decided to add a double buttonhole for the bottom button.



I also popped in a couple of rivets on the corners of the pocket.
 
 
 
This leather jacket doesn't see much wear because I always freeze wearing it. Maybe the hoodie isn't such a bad idea after all. I would have worn this to the MPB Winter Frolic had the unusually warm winter weather continued. Unfortunately it turned much colder, so my wool toggle coat was in order.
 
 
That's it for now. Gotta run. I think I hear the phone ringing. Maybe it's Hermes calling!!!
 
 

 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Projects in the Pipeline

I'm not very good at following sewing blogs. Sure, I have a few favorites, but mostly I just meander from blog to blog. I never know what I might find, and that's part of the fun. Brew a pot of coffee and settle in. A few weeks ago I stumbled upon this....totally by chance.

 

 

This is a sew-along / challenge being sponsored by an amazing "brother of the cloth", Jamie Kemp in England. You can find all the details at his blog -- Male Devon Sewing.

 

Jamie's blasted out of the starting gate, and I swear he's half done already! He's already pad stitching like a madman. But never fear, the challenge of sewing a menswear blazer extends into June. Plenty of time for me (the world's slowest sewist) to play along.

 

I'm hoping to drag my sewing buddy Enrique along for the ride. Enrique, are you listening???? And, if you're reading this, consider yourself invited along as well. I'll be using Roberto Cabrera's menswear tailoring book (which has become a ridiculously hefty investment). I'll share his techniques and we'll take it step by step. So unleash your tailoring geek and join in!

 

My plan is to make a traditional black blazer that can be worn year round. Black wool with the full compliment of gold buttons. Think this....

 

 

Or maybe ????

 


Um... Right
 
 

My biggest problem when it comes to sewing, is that I'd really rather be attempting to make this....

 

Or...

 

And therein lies my problem of never having appropriate clothes to wear for my "real life". So it's black schoolboy blazer to the rescue! Balmain will have to wait (but do check out the Fall 2016 lineup, artistry that boggles the mind!). Want more...check out the video.

 

Barring a huge blizzard, I'm hoping to pick up fabrics for this project at the MPB Winter Frolic. In the meantime I'm working on another Athleisure project. This time a hoodie vest. (One pair of sweatpants turned out to be enough).

 

I'm having a devil of a time to get this damn thing to fit, which at the outset I thought would be a walk in the park. It looks so simple, right? But more about that later. I hope your sewing projects are going better than this damn vest!

 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Athleisure Reveal

So the question is.....

 

 

I had so much fun delving into the world of athleisure. Who knew sweats could actually be, dare I say, stylish. These clothes make me feel like I'm strutting down the runway at Armani!

 

 

Of course I'm really just in my backyard in Maine, and it's something like 18 degrees F.

 

I realize this isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea, but for me it's been a success. The comfort and warmth factors alone have won me over. Plus, I feel I've successfully taken something trendy and made it "age appropriate". Like all trends, Athleisure will fade, but these pieces are basic enough to have some "staying power" in my wardrobe. That's always a win.

 

Kudos also to Gorgeous Fabrics. These fabrics were perfection, a joy to work with. I can't recommend them highly enough.

 

 

The pants are Thread Theory's Jedediah pattern. I made them 1.5 inches longer than usual so I can easily tuck them into a pair of boots (and they'll stay there!). It's also just a different look for me.

 

Not much interesting going on back here. I've worn the pants around the house for a few days, and have to tell you that they eventually bag out at the knees and the butt with wear. I washed and dried them before the photo shoot, and they thankfully snapped back into shape. Next time (I have fabric for another pair) I'll forget the welt pocket and sew them with the back yoke and patch pockets as designed. I'm thinking this might help them retain their shape better in the rear. I also might try going just a tad slimmer.

Then again, my daughter has suggested a hoodie vest, which could be interesting and something very new for me. Decisions, decisions...

 

 

I was Soooo short on material for the jacket, I'd only ordered 2 yards, that there wasn't enough left for the pockets as designed. I had to cobble them together with the scraps that were left over. A band of lengthwise material was added at the top of each pocket. In the end it turned out to be one of those fortunate blunders, because it made for a much more interesting jacket.

 
 
 
 

This project also opened my eyes to the versatility of adding gray to my existing wardrobe. Hey, I have the hair to match, right??? I'm also seriously considering black, a color I was told years ago to avoid. Maybe I've grown up enough to pull it off! I'll never be the all black kind of person, I love color too much. But a little bit might be a good thing.

 

So ends another project. (On a successful note!)

 

As always, I appreciate all the support and inspiration I receive from the sewing community. It's overwhelming.

 

Arrivederci from the coast of Maine, where I can honestly say that ..... "I'm living......

 

 

 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Athleisure Jacket

I've really got the Athleisure bug, so I immediately launched into a jacket to go with my new sweatpants. I'm using the black and gray "birchbark" looking knit. I'm hoping the combination will be Armani-esque. One can always dream!

 

 

This is the pattern I used for my "Phony Missoni" jackets of last year. This time around I'm going to try the shawl collar version. (The illustration kills me!). Because this fabric is super wide, 72 inches, I only ordered 2 yards. Talk about cutting it close. I was just barely able to eek it out.

 

 

There is some serious Snug Hug usage going on with this jacket. Here a strip is sewn into the shoulder seams to prevent stretching. It works like a charm.

 

 

The seam allowance edges are covered with cotton bias binding. When the seams are pressed open the Snug Hug is completely hidden. I used this process on the shoulder seams and the side seams.

 

 

In places where the binding will be especially visible, namely the hem and front facings, I baste it in place before edgestitching. The thickness of the fabric combined with the loopy back made this necessary. Otherwise, I ended up edgestitching into air. Maybe you've been there too?

 

 

This is a little hard to see, but I interfaced the undercollar with silk organza. A little voice was saying, "what would Laura Mae do?

 

 

Rows of zig zagging along the foldline help create a little more structure.

 

 

The sleeves are lined with rayon bemberg to make the jacket slip on easily. Otherwise, it's completely unlined.

 

 

The world's worst buttonhole. This simply won't do!

 

 

 

 

Break out the silk organza and Laura Mae's bound buttonhole tutorial! The BEST!

 

 

 

 

Lastly, the collar and front facings are understitched to help help keep them from rolling out. Below the button the seam allowances are stitched to the facing. Above the button it's reversed, and the lapel / collar seam allowances are stitched to the jacket front and under collar. Sounds confusing, but it becomes obvious when you're doing it.

 

Next time, the Athleisure reveal. (Arctic Blast reveal may be more like it!).