Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tartan tuxedo update

Things have moved ahead nicely on the tuxedo shirt.  

I did tons of matching on the fronts of the shirt, but there are parts of a man's shirt where matching is impractical if not completely out of the question.  The center back box pleat makes matching the yoke impossible, so it's better to cut it on the bias.  I did, however, center the plaid on the fold while cutting it out.  The collar is also centered and lines up nicely with the box pleat.  Silly? Obsessive? Maybe, but making my own shirts has made me care about such details.  

The sleeve placket is another place where it's just easier to "un-match".  I use the template from Coffin's book on shirtmaking.  It makes something that looks complicated surprisingly easy.  I think it also adds a little pizzaz.  

The collar is always the biggest bugaboo for me.  I had such good luck with a collar stay slot on the linen tux shirt that I tried it again.  The point collar shape made the placement awkward, and I totally forgot to allow for the 1/4" topstitching.  The end result -- the stay doesn't go very deeply into the slot.  Still, it works, so it's not a total failure.  Just another "live and learn" sewing experience.  

The basting has been removed from the pleats, and I'm totally loving them.  They were worth every minute of pressing, basting and slip-stitching.  

All that remains is buttonholes and buttons.  

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The highs and lows of ordering fabric online

Perhaps you live in the boonies like me.  Don't get me wrong, I love where I live, but I'm at a real disadvantage when it comes to buying fabric.  Basically I have two choices ; Wal-mart (ick) and JoAnn's (gag), both of which are about a 16 mile drive.  Sorry, but it's just not worth the trip.  

Luckily I get to NYC a few times a year for some fabric shopping,  but even that can be discouraging and exhausting.  I usually have something very specific in mind which can be like looking for a needle in the proverbial fabric haystack.  

I've turned to the internet for fabric from time to time, usually with pretty good results.  Still it's pretty much a crap shoot.  Not being able to actually touch the fabric, coupled with being dependent on the accuracy of a photograph, really puts one at a disadvantage.  But I'm a sucker for free shipping, so here are a few things that arrived yesterday.  Postage free!  

I've been wanting a "little flowers" shirt for awhile.  I saw some gorgeous French fabrics during my one and only visit to Elliot Berman Textiles in NYC, but the $18 / Yd price scared me away.  Of course I was reminded that Liberty is $35+ / yd. but it still seemed too extravagant.  This is an Italian shirting that is every bit as nice in my opinion. 

This is as close to a Liberty of London shirt as I'm ever going to come.  I love the colors.  Coral, gold, brown, gray, green.  It's incredibly fine with a beautiful lustre to it.  

Of course there's no Hello Kitty hidden in the design.  But that's what you get at $35 / Yd vs. $4.45 / yd!  

Next up is this raw silk plaid patchwork.  I'll call this a partial disappointment.  I appreciate all the labor that goes into making a fabric like this, but it looks like it got dragged across the sweatshop floor before being rolled onto the bolt.  There are stray threads caught in the seams everywhere!  I will be pulling and clipping threads for hours.  In spite of all the flaws, I still think this will make a fun Spring jacket.  It's just going to be more work than I planned on. 

Oy!  What a mess. 

Lastly, this just belongs in the "What was I thinking" category.  This was sold as a corduroy.  It's ribbed, but there is hardly any pile to it.  Its saving grace is that it was very inexpensive.  My plan was to make my first pair of trousers with this, and I think I still will.  I fully expect that they won't fit, so I'll wad them up and throw the whole mess out.  

Please don't laugh!  Yes, I really did buy this.  

So there we have it ... the good, the bad and the ugly of buying fabrics online.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tartan Tuxedo Shirt -- a de-stashing project

Thanks to all my readers for the get well wishes.  I'm glad to say that I'm finally back in the swing of things, and feeling in desperate need of a project.  There seems to be a lot of blogging lately about stashes.  They're being agonized over, sorted, reorganized, and used.  Mine, I'll admit is pretty small.  I have 4 lengths of fabric, a drawer full of various interfacings and a bag of scraps.  Now would be a good time to reduce the stash.  

I've decided to make another tuxedo shirt, this time with some tartan shirting that I bought from Denver Fabrics back in January during one of their free shipping promotions.  It's really very nice fabric, a fine twill weave actually, in red, olive, navy and yellow.  

There is really not much to making a tuxedo shirt.  The pleats are actually a separate piece of fabric sewn onto the shirt fronts.  So any shirt that fits you well can be pretty easily dressed up with just a couple of additional steps.  The plaid will be an extra challenge, but these kinds of challenges are what makes sewing fun for me.  

I cut a strip of fabric and experimented with various pleat sizes and matching strategies.  I decided on this arrangement which emphasized more red.  The plastron (pleated panel) will finish out at  3.75 inches wide.  

So here is my sample and the width of fabric that will be required to make it.  It takes about 3 times the width of the finished plastron.  

I pressed each pleat and then basted them into position, trying to match the plaid as carefully as possible.  

It's hard to see, but on the reverse side I slipstitched each pleat to the backside of the adjacent pleat.  These stitches are invisible from the front and will hold the pleats in place when the basting is removed. At least that's the plan.   

The pleated plastron is slipped under the interfaced front band and basted into place.  Then it's edgestitched to the shirt front along the bottom and side.  The front band is pressed over and topstitched just like any other shirt.  I'm really pleased with all the matching.  This is when a little extra attention to detail really pays off.  Yay! 

FYI  -- The plastron is cut long enough to extend beyond the neck edge and shoulder seam.  

Lastly, the excess is trimmed off and the upper edge is basted to hold the pleats in place.  From here on out it's just basic shirt construction.  

Happy Sewing!  (and de-stashing) 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

No sewing, but lots of looking / dreaming

Wouldn't you know it, today I get a huge shout-out from Sunni at a Fashionable Stitch and my blog is at a dead standstill.   Arrrgh!  

Well, I may not be doing any sewing lately, but I've sure been looking at lots of clothes.  Namely, I've been looking at the SS2013 menswear collections that are getting strutted out around the globe lately.  Honestly, I don't usually follow fashion other than buying my annual GQ which I haul to the beach in Asbury Park, NJ each summer.  

I'm always intrigued by what inspires other sewists.  So here are some of the looks that have captured my imagination.  I have no intention of slavishly copying any of these clothes.  Rather, they just happen to get my "wheels turning".  All these photos are from Style.com, and you can click on the links to go to the slideshows.  

By far and away my favorite SS2013 collection is from Brioni .  Gorgeous tailoring and delicious colors.  I would totally wear this (with the exception of the hat!).    Funny, this jacket is very similar to a Vogue pattern (#1928) that I have always thought was ridiculous.  Lowering the stance to a two button jacket and slimming down the shorts has made me completely rethink this look.  In fact, I have just ordered a patchwork plaid raw silk from Denver Fabrics that could work for this jacket.  Hey, a guy can dream right? 

Anyone who has followed my blog knows that I'm a total sucker for a great coat.  This one is from John Varvatos .  He sent out a whole group in this brown and white combination, which I think is more appropriate for Spring / Summer than the ubiquitous black.  I wish I wasn't so afraid to make a pair of trousers!  This look makes me want some white ones for next Spring.  

Breathtaking......from Belstaff .  There is so much to swoon over from this collection.  I know nothing about British luxury brands, but apparently Belstaff's claim to fame is leather motocross jackets.  The looks that wowed me included leather trimmed safari jackets, a knit motocross sweater and a pair of trousers with a leather waistband and leather trimmed welt pockets.  

I think spring / summer clothes should be colorful, and by far the most colorful collection was from Salvatore Ferragamo .  There was a whole "fleet" of handpainted jackets and sweaters that sailed down the runway.  I would love to give this a try.  I just need 4 or 5 perfectly tailored jackets to experiment with!    

In the same vein were these ombre'd hombres.  The pink version is by Canali , the coral version is Ralph Lauren .  

This "short over long" look cropped up in several collections.  Admittedly, it's a young look, and it borders on inappropriate for a man my age.  Still I'm attracted to it.  This is from Antonio Azzuolo , and is the best interpretation of the look IMO.  I think the longer piece is a vest, but it could easily be a shirt.  The band on the vest appears to be made of the jacket material, an interesting touch.  Thoughts????

Finally, after all this looking.......

Biggest disappointment -- Ann Demeulemeester .  Ix-nay on the silk pajama bottoms! 
Worst collection -- Dsquared2  These boys are looking at too much Tom of Finland porn.
Hottest models -- Armani