Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The "What the F was I thinking" Fishing Vest

So, let's start with the inspiration.


Vest over jacket


This is from Engineered Garments of Brooklyn, NY. Their editorial photo spreads are horrendous IMO, but the clothes are beautiful. I had a chance to see them at Napenthes, a store WAY too hip (and expensive!) for me in NYC's Hell's Kitchen neighborhood. Essentially, everything they make is about 10 times more than I would/could ever afford. Just add a zero to the price of anything and you're there. In these instances, being able to sew is a huge advantage. After seeing the genuine article I was convinced that I could duplicate the look for a song.



More inspiration. These vests are by Junya Watanabe, his Spring 2014 collection. I love all the pockets and asymetrical detailing. A patchwork vest on Mr Porter is almost $1200. Mind boggling.


So... The Plan. -- Make a Watenabe inspired vest that can be worn over my knockoff Watenabe jacket, or on its own.







I found this pattern on Etsy and was convinced that it would be perfect. I wish I had the pictures to prove it, but I couldn't have been more WRONG! I made a quick and dirty muslin, and try as I might, I couldn't get it to fit. I was folding it up at the bottom, folding the fronts over, putting darts in the front and back, taking in the side seams, narrowing the shoulders. It was a mess, and way too frustrating to photograph. After wasting an enormous amount of time I finally came to my senses. A true WTF sewing moment if ever there was one. Why didn't I see that I could easily have drafted my own vest pattern based on the front and back pattern pieces of the jacket????


For some reason I've convinced myself that drafting a pattern is beyond my ability. Foolishness.


Within a few minutes I'd traced out a vest shape over the jacket pattern pieces and whipped up a perfectly fitting muslin.



I set about making all the bits and pieces.


Sorry, McCall's 7816, I guess I don't need you after all.


I'll gladly send this pattern to anyone who might like it. It's huge, I can barely stuff it back into the envelope. Vest, shirt and trousers -- sizes 40, 42, 44.





The first coat of topside paint is going on the boat. Funny that I dislike black clothes but love black boats!


Next time a completed vest, and maybe a coat of bottom paint.





Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Thinking Ahead -- Summer Beach Shirt

We're all craving some warmer weather here in northern New England. 40 degrees would be heavenly! How twisted is that??? So to keep myself from going completely crazy I've been working on some summer clothes.


My latest is this cotton shirt.



The "short over long" look, done up in a very lightweight cotton border print. Cotton lawn? Voile? I really don't know the difference. What I do know is that, as much as I love the colors and design, this fabric is a little too sheer for me to feel comfortable wearing. Therefore, I've made a double layer shirt.


I'll leave wearing see-through shirts to these guys!





I wish I'd taken a picture of this fabric before I started cutting it up. It must have been about 60" wide with the pattern clustered in repeating triangle shapes along one edge. In my usual cheapskate ways I only bought 2 yards, which gave me a little less than three repeats of the pattern. Of course, at the time, I wasn't thinking about making a double layer shirt; so I thought that 2 yards would be more than enough for a short sleeved shirt. I had to get very creative with the cutting, which is another way of saying that it took forever to cut this shirt out!





No way to match this bad boy, so I opted for a pullover style with a placket front. This is just the sleeve placket from David Page Coffin's Shirtmaking book on steroids. It's a great example of one skill leading to the next. If you can make a sleeve placket, you can make a placket front shirt of your own design. I went with a simple band collar out of necessity. There just wasn't enough fabric for a collar; and even if there was I think I'd still go for the band.



I do like a left chest pocket on my shirts. This is actually a hack of Roberto Cabrera's back welt pocket for trousers. It makes for a neat french seamed pocket, sandwiched between the two layers of the shirt. Well worth the time spent making it, plus it's just fun to do.




A slit at the side seams of the inner shirt is made by extending the seam allowances an additional 5/8". The extensions are pressed back and edgestitched in place.


A construction shot showing the extensions on the inner shirt. The sleeve and side seams (both layers) are french seamed.






Fabric -- cotton border print $7/ yd. From one of those incredibly cramped fabric stores in NYC

Interfacing -- Light Crisp sew-in from Fashion Sewing Supply

Buttons - Genuine shell from Fashion Sewing Supply. (Ooops, sold out!)


Ridiculously inexpensive and FUN summer beach shirt. I can't wait to wear it!


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Watanabe Inspired Jacket. Japanese style meets Nantucket Red

There's still plenty of snow on the ground here in Maine, but today I'm dreaming of summer on Nantucket; an island famous for whaling, cobblestone streets and its own color -- namely, Nantucket red.



I'm sure some of you are scratching your heads. What's he talking about? This is one of those New Englandy prep classics. A faded weathered red (better not call it pink!) that only gets better the more beat up and worn out it is. It's a color I associate with the yacht club set. A year round tan, boats, tennis, martinis and most importantly -- old money; none of which I have!!! Apparently the real deal comes from Murray's Tog Shop on Nantucket, but just about everyone's jumped on the bandwagon -- J. Crew, Ralph Lauren, LL Bean (who calls it Breton red). Oh, and a caution if you're considering wearing it, like white shoes it's only worn in the summer here in New England. Although I'm assuming that the "snowbirds" take it south with them for the winter.


So for a few minutes this afternoon I slipped on my new Junya Watanabe inspired spring jacket and joined the ranks of the idle rich -- minus the tan!






I have to say that I'm really pleased with the fit of this jacket, especially through the shoulders. The combination of a sloped shoulder adjustment and removing all the sleeve ease produced a really natural fit. It still has a slightly structured shape without any actual structure. No shoulder pads, no pad stitching, no unfortunate Miami Vice look.



The back is actually better than I anticipated. This is really a "sack jacket" -- there's no waist suppression whatsoever. The side seams and the center back are a straight shot. Considering that I was really grasping at straws trying to fit the back, it didn't come out all that badly.


It's not exactly the most attractive shape, but then again it's supposed to be a casual jacket not a business suit. Plus, there's so much more that I love about the way this project turned out. I refuse to get hung up on all the "what if's" and "coulda / shoulda's". We're all guilty of way too much of that as sewist. Agreed?



They say that God is in the details, and God knows I had WAY too much fun adding all the bells and whistles to this jacket. At times it was hard to resist the temptation to add just one more thing -- a rivet here, a patch there. It's probably not everyone's cup of tea, but I'm totally digging it.







Just to recap before I grab my paddle and head to the yacht club...


Cotton oxford cloth suiting from Denver Fabrics. I had my doubts, but ended up loving it. Ridiculously cheap.

Cotton madras plaid and khaki cotton from Peron Fabrics. (Not so cheap, but I have tons left for a shirt, shorts, pants and a fishing vest!).

Rivet instructions from Enriquesews Academy.


As always, I wish you all happy spring sewing. This is a great time of year to break out of the rut and make your sartorial dreams come true!


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Watanabe Jacket -- Progress #3, Finishing details

Here are the final details of my Junya Watenabe knock-off project.



The sleeves were very easy to set, since all the ease (1 1/2" of it) was removed. As always, I baste the hell out of everything. The uppermost row of basting is holding the lining and fashion fabric together. After pinning the sleeve in place, I baste again along the seamline. This pretty much eliminates the chance that I'm going to get a little catch in the fabric as I sew the seam. Oy! There's nothing I hate more than having to redo a sleeve. I'd much rather invest the time in basting, and get it done right the first time around.


Bias binding applied to the raw edges.



A bias strip of sew-in interfacing is applied to the cuff. This makes for a much more substantial cuff.



A vented sleeve is simulated by the addition of a few buttons.



The lapel is trimmed with a wider bias binding. This was made with the 25 mm Clover bias maker (the blue one). The trim was basted in place and then edge stitched.



Patches feature heavily in Watanabe's designs, so I added this one.



I only have a 1 1/16" keyhole cam for my buttonholer, which is a little big for a 3/4" button. I shortened the buttonhole by popping in a rivet. Problem solved.



I think I'm getting a little carried away with this project!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Watanabe Jacket -- Progress #2

This post promises to be downright riveting!




I would never have attempted this if it weren't for my cyber sewing buddy Enrique over at Enriquesews. He's made some amazing duffle coats with rivets at various stress points that just blow me away. Plus, his joy of sewing is positively infectious. His blog confirms for me that through our sewing projects, whatever they might be, we make the world a much more interesting and joyful place.


Anyway, after pestering him to make a tutorial on rivets, my man Enrique came through! Check it out here. I ordered some rivets, a setting tool and a rivet anvil online. It came to about $15 with the shipping. I picked up an awl at my local hardware store on the day they offer a senior citizen discount!! Hey, if the shoe fits...... :). I had a hammer, so I was in business.



The setting tool and anvil are both concave, so the rivets remain rounded after they've been hammered. Neither is really necessary, but it's a nice touch.






So here are my finished pockets with rivets and gromets. I followed Enrique's instructions and everything worked perfectly. I can't tell you how much FUN THIS WAS!!!!! It's addictive. Suddenly, I wanted to put rivets everywhere. It's a very slippery slope.



I felt in danger of ending up here! So I backed away from the rivets and continued with the jacket construction.



I spent the better part of a morning making a back center vent (the pattern doesn't have one). The center backs were extended 2". A piece of the madras was placed on the under flap. I did this on my safari jacket, and I've always liked the way it looks. There's a little flash of plaid when the vent opens.




Because this jacket will be unlined, I really had to stop and think about how things would need to work. All the raw edges are covered with bias binding. It's not hard, just a bit of a mind bender on what steps need to be taken when.


A line of diagonal stitching and a couple of rivets finished it off. With the vent completed I finished sewing up the body of the jacket.



The horizontal seam at the lower portion of the jacket made for some very unusual contruction. It was a crazy mess, and a beast to get through the sewing machine. All the vertical seams had to be sewn and bound first, so that the horizontal seam could be one continuous seam around the jacket. Once that seam was sewn, the bulk was reduced by trimming one half of the seam. The other half of the seam was bound, pressed down and tacked in place with a couple of rivets. I just can't stay away from those rivets!



All that craziness paid off in the end, however. Result. -- An unlined jacket with no raw edges anywhere. Gotta love that!