Thursday, March 29, 2012

Safari inspiration, oh yeah!

Ok, I'm back to outerwear.  Yay!  A safari jacket for Spring has been on my mind for months.  I'm totally chomping at the bit to get this next project launched.  Spring is a very short season here in Maine.  We sort of move directly from Winter to Summer, so I'll have to work fast if I ever intend to wear this jacket.  This past Saturday I was in NYC for just a few hours and picked up fabric, buttons and a belt buckle.  Unfortunately I ran out of time so I didn't get thread.  I'll just have to go with what I can find locally.  

Here are some looks that I find inspiring....  Hopefully they may inspire some of you to join the safari with me.  

This has the requisite four pockets with flaps.  I'll pass on the short sleeves though. My pattern (vintage 70's) has long sleeves gathered into button cuffs.  I may try to alter the pattern to a two piece sleeve with a vent.  I'm shooting for a slightly more tailored look.   

The safari jacket is apparently all over the runways for Spring / Summer 2012.  Who knew?  Here's a sampling of some very high end merchandise.  Honestly, I think I can do just as well.  After all, I am my own luxury brand!  

The epitome of the look is definitely from Corneliani IMO.  Watch the fashion show here    The tailoring is gorgeous.  It looks so effortless.  A little loose, but not sloppy.  

In contrast to this look that is very fitted and tailored.  

Of course there are safari looks for women as well.  I'm not sure if it's a hot look for Spring 2012, but there are patterns all over Etsy and Ebay to choose from.  Here are just a few.  

I've prewashed my fabric.  Time to make a quick muslin to check the fit.  

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Finished -- The Spring-y buttondown

So here is the finished oxford cloth buttondown.  There's really not much to say.  I see so many creative projects out there from incredibly talented sewists.  This is just a man's shirt (yawn).  It doesn't get much more basic.  Still, this is a shirt that I could easily wear to my Mom's for Easter dinner and feel totally good about.  There's definitely a case to be made for purely utilitarian sewing.  There aren't too many places I couldn't wear this shirt.  That's a fashion win for me. 

I could have done a better job tucking in the back, but in reality this is what men's shirts do.  I've tweaked this pattern enough so that there's the right amount of slouchy room for me.  

Here it is with a tie.  My mom would approve!  I don't think she's too sure about the desert boots though.  

Speaking of deserts.......this is my latest obsession, a 1970's safari suit.  If any of you are also thinking safari please let me know.  It would be such fun to have some sort of shared safari sewing group.  More next time.  

Happy sewing! 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The spring-y buttondown -- stripe engineering

Things are progressing nicely on the spring-y shirt.  Cutting out the various pieces takes some thought and a fair amount of care, especially when working with stripes.  It took me awhile to wrap my head around the whole front placket matching, so hopefully this post can help some of you who may be contemplating a striped shirt.  

Here goes....

To make the stripes evenly spaced across the front of the shirt a dominant stripe of the fabric is "stacked" on three parts of the shirt (the placket, right and left fronts).  All three pattern pieces must be cut out separately.  

Start with the placket.  The dominant stripe of the fabric is placed along the centerline as shown above. 

Eventually the buttonholes will be placed down the center stripe.  

On the RIGHT side of the shirt the buttons will be placed on the dominant stripe that was chosen for the placket.  That way when the shirt is buttoned the center stripe of the placket is directly over the identical stripe on the right shirt front.  The button line is quite clearly marked on the pattern above.  

After folding and top stitching the right front, the buttons end up centered on the dominant stripe. 

The LEFT side of the shirt may require more thought.  Remember the goal is to get the dominant stripe of the placket "stacked" directly over the same stripe on the Left front.  

On my shirt the placket is attached to the L front with a 3/8" seam.  The placket is 1.5 " wide, therefore the center of the finished placket is 3/4" in from the edge.  

The dominant stripe is placed 1 1/8" ( 3/8" + 3/4") from the front edge of the Left front pattern piece as shown above.  

Now the stripes will march uninterrupted across the front of the shirt.  Yay! 

Sadly, it can't all be matching nirvana. 

I can't wrap my head around matching the sleeve plackets, so I deliberately placed them on the cross grain.  They would also be attractive placed on the bias.  Maybe next time! 

Here's the back box pleat with its centered stripe.   When it comes to shirts, it's all about the little details.  They can be fun or they can make me want to scream.  This is my third version of this shirt and I learn something each time.  Mostly, I try to make things as easy as possible for myself.  I  concentrate most of my efforts in cutting out the pieces.  For example I set the stripe of the back yoke well in from the seam.  This helps preserve the effect that it's sewn straight (which it probably isn't!)  If a stripe had ended up on the seam, all my cutting and sewing imperfections would be magnified.   I also did the same thing with the collar and cuffs.  

I hope this has been helpful.  Next time I'll show the finished product.  

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A sure sign of Spring!

Forget robins and bulbs poking up out of the ground.  Here's the surest sign of Spring anywhere!  

These guys hatched the day after Valentine's Day. 

I have to admit that I totally love all the pastel candy colors that emerge this time of year.  It's interesting that what could be considered the most feminine of colors, play such a huge part in most men's wardrobes.  I grew up wearing pastel oxford cloth buttondowns, and I still think of them as the quintessential man's shirt.  They just have so much going for them.  The fabric is substantial and durable.  They're appropriate for just about any occasion.  They look good with or without a tie.  They can be pressed or wrinkled.  The fit tends to be baggy and comfortable.  

So all of this leads me into my next shirt project.... The Springy Buttondown. 

The fabric is a dusty teal oxford cloth that I picked up from Denver Fabrics .  They feature a lot of cotton shirting, but this was the only oxford cloth on the site.   As luck has it, it's a color that looks particularly good on me.  

I'll be using a vintage Butterick pattern that I believe dates from the early 60's.  I used this pattern for Peter's MPB shirt sew-along last year, so this will be my third version of it.  Truthfully,  I've altered it so much that it really has very little of the original left.  Every time I make it, I feel the need to give it a little tweak.  Someday I'll get it just right. 

This time around I've decided to revamp the collar stand.  This has always been a source of frustration with this pattern.  The curve at the end of the stand is near impossible to sew.  I pin the stand on, matching the notches, but when I get to the neck opening it's a "What the F.. now" moment.  Consequently it's always a mess.   It's just not working for me.  So here's my attempt at a fix.  I've flattened out the curve trying to keep the overall length the same.  It will either work or not.  Right? 

And while I'm making changes I measured the neck opening and decided that the stand and collar could be a scant 1/2" larger.  When I made a pretty drastic sloped shoulder adjustment to this pattern I needed to drop the front neck opening.  This added some length to the neck opening.  Again, this will either work or not.  I really want to avoid fighting to get a too small collar stretched into a too large neck opening.  

I'm going to go eat a few Peeps, and then get this shirt cut out.