Thursday, April 19, 2012

Safari Jacket -- the fussy bits

This jacket is all about the little details, so I'm starting by making the epaulettes and all the pockets and their flaps.  I enjoy this kind of a challenge but it's very time consuming.  

I lined the upper flaps and epaulettes with scraps of oxford cloth from my Spring buttondown.  

Here's a closer shot.  It's my take on the spring  Comme de Garcons look.  As it turned out I was extremely tight on the brown fabric, and this saved me from having to struggle with every little scrap.  

The pattern calls for rectangular pockets but I opted to "clip" the corners off.  I think it's a more interesting, more authentic safari look.  I made a cardboard template for the corners and pressed the fabric back over the cardboard.  This helps keep the pockets consistent.  

The lower pocket flaps are lined with a patchwork madras.  I'm planning to use this as the  contrasting undercollar and also at the back vent.  

Now it's time to baste the pockets and flaps to the fronts.  Then they will be topstitched in place.  But that's another whole day's work.  

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Safari Muslin

Things are moving along on the safari project.  I'm happy with my two piece sleeve, so here's where things stand.  

From the front I'm pleased with the fit across the chest.  For once there doesn't appear to be any need for a shoulder adjustment.  I did think the fit was too snug at the waist and below so I let the front / side seam out by 1/2" on each side.  The extra inch of ease at the front made a huge difference.  BTW the left sleeve is the final version.  

The back is a bit baffling.  It's times like this that I wish I had a sloper.  There seems to be too much fabric at the back / shoulder and I just don't know what to do with it.  I've learned by making the muslin that the sleeve has to be eased like crazy.  I keep reminding myself that I'm working with a bed sheet and that my fashion fabric will have more "oomph".  I'm also planning a full lining and wool sleeve heads which will hopefully give me more structure and support to the back shoulder area.  If that doesn't work I'm afraid the back will look rather "slumpy".  Here's hoping my plans work. 

I wrapped a belt around myself to get the gist of the finished garment.  Eeeek  Maybe this has been a big mistake.  BUT, I'm very happy with the set of my left sleeve!  I keep repeating "it's just a bedsheet muslin." 

Here is the original collar.  Very Saturday Night Fever.  

Here's my whittled down version which I hope will work.  I took 1/2" off the width and eliminated the extreme "pointiness" of the original.  

It's more obvious on a hanger. 

I can flip the collar up without it coming half way up  the back of my head!  I'm sure there's more I could do to improve the fit, but I'm ready to move on.  As always making a muslin has been well worth the effort and the $2.99 Goodwill sheet.  What have I learned?  I will have to be extra careful setting the sleeves and adjusting all the ease.  I will also struggle getting the collar positioned correctly.  The pockets will, of course, be time consuming, but the rest should go together easily.  

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Drafting a two piece sleeve -- Safari challenge #1

The safari has officially left base camp, and the muslin is well underway. 

Because I ALWAYS have problems with my shoulders I decided to check the pattern against one of my shirt patterns first thing.  Amazing!  It appears that I won't have to make a sloped shoulder adjustment to my pattern.  It seems very hard to believe, but I'm going with it.  In this pic you see my buttondown shirt pattern front laid over the jacket front.  If anything, the jacket is more sloped than the shirt!  

With that issue avoided I move on the major challenge that I've set up for myself.  Namely, replacing the sleeve gathered into a cuff with a two piece tailored sleeve. (complete with vent)

I'm going to be using this textbook by Lori Knowles as my guide.  I picked it up secondhand on Amazon months ago.  I flip through the pages of this book often, dreaming of being able to draft my own patterns.  Time to give it a whirl.  

Almost half of this book involves making both upper and lower body slopers from specific body measurements.  The process of drafting the sleeve is based on the upper body sloper.  I confess, I have not made the slopers, so I'm really just winging it.   In the end it's just tracing paper and a Goodwill bed sheet, right?   If it works, Great!  If not.....well, some other time when I have slopers to work from.  

Some lessons I learned quickly.  

1.  Draft without seam allowances and add them at the end.  
2.  Use colored pencils.  Before I knew it I was totally confused and had no idea what part was what.  

Briefly, using the book as a guide, I drew a grid below the sleeve head (which was maintained).  The sleeve is divided horizontally at the arm pit, elbow and cuff.  Vertically it's divided into quarters.  All the lines work off the grid in a series of very well defined steps.  A sloper would have made it even easier, but it wasn't impossible.  

Amazingly, it turned into a sleeve that fit the armscye!  

I had some issues with it, however.  First, the cuff was too narrow.  That should be easy to fix.  Second, the seam at the back of the sleeve fell between the yoke seam and the side / back seam.  It's hard to see so I marked it with a Sharpie.  I just really think it looks crappy and would much rather the seam match at the lower mark.   YES,  I'm a crazy old man!  

Encouraged by my first attempt I went back to the drawing board.  

Here are the redrafted sleeve patterns.  (My tools are covering a huge mistake that I made!)  This was a mindbender but I eventually worked my way through.  The upper sleeve had to become bigger, and the lower sleeve became correspondingly smaller.  Oy!  

But..... in the end I got exactly what I wanted!  The sleeve seam now meets the back/ side seam perfectly.   

I have a few more details to iron out.  Primarily, what to do about that huge 70's collar.  It's got to go!  

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

My Pierre Cardin Bonanza!

Oh, Pierre Cardin, I remember you well! 

Your cute little curly-cue logo was everywhere

It was almost impossible to buy a necktie without your logo on it!

And you had a great fragrance in a very phallic bottle.  Shocking for 1972!  

And there was also THIS!!!!  I came across this pattern quite by accident on Etsy and just had to have it.  I love the style, the model, the dog......The whole package.  Plus it's in my size!  Yay! 

There are some really interesting details here.  A slightly off center button front, patch pockets with an inset double welt pocket and wildly curving seams both front and back.  After checking the instructions, there's also a fair bit of very arcane construction which I think I can improve upon.  

Look at these lines!  I'm thinking faux suede for Fall.  Or maybe canvas with a leather collar as an alternative to the ubiquitous LL Bean barn jacket.  Hey, a guy can dream, right?  

Oh, but there's more! So much more!  Thank you, thank you, Amanda at  SewingWithMissDandy  for including this bonus pattern! 

This is a total jaw dropper. 

OMG check out this collar.  Sadly the pattern pieces for the collar are missing (as are all the lining pieces, which I could easily recreate).  The long version of the coat was cut and the bottom half of the side panel has been torn off and tossed.  It wouldn't be too hard to just extend the lines.  Maybe someday I'll attempt to recreate this coat.  In the meantime I'm just enjoying it for the total 70's fashion fantasy that it is.  

I receive so much support for my crazy projects from other sewists all over the world.  It's really quite astounding.  In return I like to acknowledge my sources and encourage you to  support them.  Please check out Amanda's Etsy shop at the link above.  She has some great vintage patterns.  Cheers and happy sewing! 

Monday, April 2, 2012

More inspiration

This is my pattern for the safari project.  I purchased it from Sassy Cotton on Etsy.  I highly suggest her Etsy shop for anyone interested in vintage patterns.  She has some amazing designs to choose from.  This one, as you can see, is "virgin"!  Straight from the Pixie Shop in Grant City, Missouri and still in it's original factory folds.  Sellers of vintage patterns tend to make a big deal of that.  Should I feel guilty about using it?  I can't figure out a way to make the jacket without eventually unfolding it.  The envelope is marked 1975.  It's amazing that 36 years later someone is actually going to be making and wearing this jacket.  

Whoa!  I'm going to have to tame that collar a bit!  I'm also going to try to make a two piece sleeve with a vent just to dress it up a bit.   

Here are some looks that I've become totally fascinated with lately.  If you haven't already figured it out, I really don't follow fashion.  The only magazines that get delivered here are Wooden Boat, AARP and Architectural Digest.  No GQ or Vogue.  I just happened to stumble upon these photos via Fashionbeans , which has become a part of my everyday "blog check-in".  These designs are by Comme de Garcons, which sounds totally French to me but is apparently from the Japanese designer Junya Watanabe.  Who knew?  

What intrigues me is the unexpected fabrics under collars, inside cuffs and as part of pockets.  

I remember Tim Gunn once criticizing a trembling Project Runway contestant for being too "Holly Hobby".  Here's a designer that's taking that esthetic to the bank.  These shirts cost hundreds of dollars. I don't want to copy this look per se, but I do want to add some contrasting fabrics in what I hope will be subtle ways.  

Khaki isn't a particularly great color for me, so I've chosen a cocoa brown cotton / lycra blend for the jacket.  My goal is to spice it up a bit with glimpses of madras patchwork and the light teal oxford cloth left over from my spring-y buttondown.  I'm thinking under the collar, inside the pocket flaps and at the back and sleeve vents.  It will either be interesting or a total disaster.  Wish me luck!