Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Pants, pants and more pants.

You have no idea. Well, if you are reading a sewing blog, then probably you have an idea.  To have a pants pattern that fits is worth its weight in gold.  And furthermore, I can sew this pattern in about two hours. 
It is the Style Arc Linda Pant.  
The waist is elasticized and the fit is pretty trim, in fact my first pair (the brown ones) were a little too tight, but I will wear them on those skinny days that happen from time to time, you know, like after you've been sick. The gray fabric is a really nice knit I got from EmmaOneSock, described as  
"a very high-tech weave that combines the drape of a 4-ply silk crepe with the stretch and look of a beefy matte jersey. It's actually a woven that they refer to as a woven/knit hybrid. It's a great alternative to its silk or viscose counterparts, which are far more expensive and need to be dry cleaned. This washable and totally wrinkle free! "                                                       
The fabric has a dressy feel to it, so I am modeling the pants with a 4-ply silk tunic, a Very Easy Vogue pattern I sewed years ago, before I was blogging.  

The brown is a rayon/polyester/lycra (RPL) blend "stretch woven gabardine that is a wonderful, easy-care, pants fabric" also from EmmaOneSock.  I liked it well enough that I ordered it in every color she had: navy, black, gray and brown.  These will be great for work.

And I will add a little to the side seams on the next versions, so they are not so skin tight.  Did you notice a fly-front on the brown pants?  That is a faux-fly front.  I added it to cover up a serging accident.  Ooops.  I wasn't about to let a little slice into my pants turn them into a wadder.  I am all for extra design details!

I will pull a SWAP out of all these garments somehow.  I hope I get inspired and make some fabulous jackets.   Right now I want no-brainer basics to make it getting dressed easy.

I swear they are not paying me to gush over these patterns!  
It is authentic pants-pattern-love.

Happy Sewing!!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sewing with Style Arc Patterns

I am having a blast sewing with Style Arc patterns.  The fit is the closest thing to RTW I've ever sewn. 

First, let me show you my Alice Tops:

I used an inexpensive gray jersey for the initial mockup to test my pattern alterations.  Lately, I feel more confident with pattern alterations so I am sewing my initial attempts in wearable fabrics rather than muslin.  The cost is about the same as muslin, and if it fits well enough, I go ahead and finish the garment.   I have lots of gray jersey and black ITY just for sewing mockups of knit patterns.
Happy with this pattern, I proceeded to sew another version in this ITY knit.  I ignored all the puddling at the back of the waist.  I am not sure if I need to want to mess with that on simple knit tops.

Evidently I am sewing for summer!

Here is my second version of the Alice top.
Too bad the print is so busy you can't see the design of the top, or the design of the skirt,
which is the Style Arc Susan Skirt.

The skirt is designed to be 28 inches (72cm) long,
but I removed the excess and hemmed mine to 24 inches (61cm) .

Isn't this a cute skirt?  I sewed mine in a size 14 (Australian) straight out of the envelope without alterations.  My waist is not as small as the measurements indicate, but I suppose knit fabric is just very forgiving.  It actually felt very swishy and swell in that 28 inch length, so I think I will sew another one, in a solid color, and leave it long.

In addition to a superior fit, there is a substantial amount of novelty to be enjoyed with the Style Arc patterns.  For starters, the packaging is different.  They come in large clear sleeves that I intend to store in a 3-ring binder.   There is one piece of paper with the pretty pictures and the instructions on it.  The instructions consist of a sequence of tasks to be performed.  There is a glossary on the website along with more detailed tutorials.  The pattern paper is sturdy; the notches, stitching and cutting lines are easy to see.

Just a side note, my mother never read the instructions when she sewed.  Only recently, she shared her suspicion that she'd always had some type of learning disorder.  And here I thought, all this time, that she did not follow instructions because she was just so good at sewing.  I held myself to that standard all these years.  It was as if I relied on the instructions, I was cheating or something. *snort*  Her example certainly influenced my sewing experience.  I have only taken classes and bought sewing books in the last few years.  Classes and books feel like an indulgence, which is nice.  Maybe this is just a hallmark of being middle-aged.  I've come to appreciate simple things, and to be grateful when life is simply boring.

There is more!  I've been sewing pants.  I am just in love with the simplicity and the fit of the Linda pant, and I will share more of that in my next post.

And, just to keep it real, I have a wadder to report.  The black ruffled cardigan did not work out.  The stretch wool crepe was just too lightweight to do the job.  I'll be on the lookout for a nice boiled wool and resume that project in the future.  Maybe that wadder is why I am enjoying simple sewing so much.
Yay for knits.

Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Bengaline fabric direct from Australia!

Imagine a country in a parallel universe I find Australia fascinating for reasons large and small.  We are in different hemispheres, which has blown my mind since grade school when I learned that the water swirls in different directions and our seasons are the opposite. We are on different sides of the globe, so while Aussies might reasonably travel to Hong Kong or Bali, we in the US might make it as far as Hawaii or Europe.  Heck, I never left the US until I was 45 years old, so understand that for me to have a provincial perspective would not be out of the question.

Bigger reasons to be fascinated by Australia have to do with the history and the way the social structures, the culture and the economy have evolved.  We have so much in common, but so much is different in the way our countries have evolved.  While Americans and Australians both have many citizens who originated in England, look at how differently we have evolved.  Isn't that a fascinating study in and of itself?  Of course, I could can ramble on about all the people in our respective countries who do NOT trace their ancestry to England (like me, for example).  There are a lot more worms in that can, eh?
My overall point is that until the internet came along, Australia was too far removed from my day-to-day life to think about.  Now, Australia and NZ seem like places I really should visit if I can fill the piggy bank adequately.

It's not just Australia.  The internet gives me the opportunity to meet people and make friends with folks  who didn't grow up the way I did, and I love that.  I just love it.

Globalization makes us all neighbors and it is pretty exciting to this member of the human race.

On to the important things!
Now this is what I'm talkin' about -
From the land down under come these goodies:

I am so glad I was home when the mailman came because it made my day!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Hey, It's Friday

****  The Fabric Giveaway Winner is Comment #28 ****

Readers, you have done this, have you not?  With dreams of more StyleArc Linda pants, we order fabric online.   Surreptitiously, a little extra (1.5 yard) piece jumps into the shopping cart.  It arrives and it's somehow not what we *expected*.

One might proceed to pre-wash the fabric, thinking it might look better tomorrow.

Yep, I did that yesterday.  Today, it becomes a fabric giveaway on my trusty blog.

Leave a comment letting me know that you have done the same thing, you are astonished that I would do such a thing, or you just want this fabric.  I will draw a winner randomly on Sunday night and announce it here.  Make sure your email address is linked in your profile, or leave it as part of your comment, OK?

* My expectation was that blue is just always fabulous, no matter what.  In reality, I like cool blues.  These blues are warm.  There is just the slightest aqua undertone in the gray and in the darker blues.
It make me look weary, which I most certainly am not.  (Am I blaming fabric for making me look my age?  ... Oh well, anyway ....)

Readers, I have no excuse for this lapse in judgement.  I own a Pantone color fan, and I did not check the numbers in the product description.  If I had, I would have seen that these are not "my" blues and grays.  I will try to learn my lesson.  In the meantime, I get the vicarious thrill of making someone else happy with a piece of free fabric.
Are you outside the US?  Please enter - I am happy to ship internationally.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Image Magazine Spring/Summer 2012: Dress M1202

The Spring /Summer 2012 issue of My Image Magazine showed up and I was tired of sewing with a plan, so I sewed something random.

I used this dress pattern (M1202) to sew a workout tunic.

I thought the line drawing looked sporty.

1st version on the left, 2nd version on the right.  Can you tell the difference?
As per my usual behavior, the slight fit imperfection annoyed me, so I made a full bust adjustment and sewed a second version.  This pattern stitches up VERY fast.  The neckline & armscye have not yet been finished off on this photo.

The low neckline in the back is nice for a dress but I needed a higher neckline for a workout top.  As drafted, the neckline is just high enough to allow wearing a regular bra, by the way.
I really wasn't sure if I liked it, but my husband and my daughter both gave it a thumbs up, so I wore to work out (with unfinished edges!) Now that the top has passed muster, I guess I will go ahead and bind the edges.  I like a nice long top to keep my midriff covered.  If I wear it with my bike shorts,  it feels downright modest but cool & comfortable.

This is the second My Image pattern I've sewn (see the cowl neck top here) and I find the cut to fit me better than the Big 4 pattern companies.  It didn't take much to get the shoulders to fit.

Most of the styles are really too young for me, but I like this pattern magazine and hope they prosper.
Happy Sewing!

Friday, February 10, 2012

shopper alert

I took a day off from work today and ran errands, and managed a stop at the local fabric store.  Want to see what I found?

I should have bought some of that pom-pom trim.  For what? Lamp-shade decorations?
But I think pom-poms might be cheerful.

It is February, after all.
Happy Weekend!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Black ruffled cardigan 2.0

The best thing about my new-and-improved version of the formerly ill-fitting cardigan is that I was able to  re-cycle the ruffle from the original.  

The only thing to slow me down was waiting for a chance to look at it in natural daylight.  The color black can be very hard to match and I got very lucky that these two different fabrics look just fine together.  I guess it was meant to be!

Here is a lightened version of the photo that shows where I am with this project:

During my daily commute, I think about how to finish the seams and things like that.  The plan is to keep it simple.  That is the plan.  ha!  Sometimes I make things a little more complicated than they need to be ....  but this cardigan feels like it will be a winner, so it's worth careful consideration.

That commute gives me time to imagine how this cardigan was created, from design to finished product.  A lot of different people touched it.  Someone designed it, created the pattern, selected the fabric, chose construction techniques and seam finishes.  But then again, maybe not.  I have no experience with industry clothing production.

Here in my workroom,  I am in charge of Quality Control and I am the Chief Stitcher.  I sewed a muslin to check my pattern and now I can use it again on other fabrics.

DTBM (decisions to be made) - the seams can't stretch out of shape; should I reinforce them?  And the fabric doesn't have the same heft as boiled wool; shall I underline it?  Perhaps with powernet?   After I have attached the ruffle to the neck, I'd really like a seam binding like what I found on the original garment.   I'll make something work.

Yep, I will come up with something!

Monday, February 6, 2012

silk jersey: I recommend it.

Too bad it's so expensive, because silk jersey is the best.  This fabric was a dream to work with and even better to wear.   Oh yes, I could get used to silk jersey.

Top: My Image Magazine winter 2011/2012 cowl top, recently sewn in silk jersey
Pants: StyleArc Patterns The Linda Pant, sewn in cotton /lycra

Then we have the whole issue of the magic pants pattern.  The Peta Pant is great, and so is the Linda pant.

What else can I say?  GREAT patterns!  I think this whole sewing thing is working out for me.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Style Arc Peta Pant

I did a lot this weekend, but nothing surpasses the thrill of sewing a pattern that fit well with only minimal adjustment.  Here is a muslin mockup of The Peta Pant by Style Arc Patterns:

Pretty simple design, right? But what a great cut!  These pants fit so nicely compared to most home sewing patterns.  I will sew these in linen this summer:

The results were so encouraging that I also sewed up the Linda pant:

I used an inky black chino cotton with lycra for a little stretch and they turned out beautifully.  No muslin mockup, either!  I boldly sewed the pants with the minor alterations learned when I sewed the Peta pant.  Holy Cow!  Can I get some exclamation points here?!  Yes!!!

Color me amazed.

Hope to show pics of the Linda pants soon - my photographer is busy watching a football game.  Well, we are busy watching the Super Bowl.  (I am tapping away on my laptop....)  I've heard people have parties and everything.  I did bake a batch of gluten-free oatmeal cookies.  We whooped it up, all right.

Happy Sewing!!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Making it better than Ready-To-Wear

Here is a cute little RTW cardigan I owned for years before finally wearing it a couple weeks ago on a GPOY Wednesday.  After only one wearing, I knew I could make my own and make it better.

It was flattering with the nipped-in waist and slim sleeves.  The main problem was the gap between the RTW back nape-to-waist length and my longer nape-to-waist length.  The ruffle flopped awkwardly, not sure whether to lay down or stand up, thus the cardigan languished in the closet.

exposure levels adjusted to show the lines of the RTW cardigan.
Since I had leftover stretch wool crepe (from the black flippy skirt), I decided to make a black cardi.  The original RTW cardi is boiled wool, but stretch wool crepe is close enough.
The RTW black cardigan has been dissassembled and marked for fitting adjustments.

I like un-sewing a garment to learn RTW construction techniques for seam stabilization and finishing. Then I can make a pattern from it.  With my fit alterations incorporated, my success rate is pretty good with these home-made patterns.  I love taking apart RTW garments!! It feels so rebellious!  I am good friends with my seam ripper and I have a very bright light next to my Lazy-Boy chair, so this is one of my favorite guilty pleasures.

In the photo above, the muslin represents the places where additional fabric was required (height at the shoulders and more at center front), new seamlines for armscye and princess seam, and side seam under the arm.  These are the same adjustments I make over and over and over.  Surprise!  My body does not change.

I find it interesting that fitting adjustments on RTW garments are not as drastic as the adjustments I make to the Big 4 pattern companies (Vogue, McCalls, Butterick, Simplicity).  Pattern companies that fit me more like RTW are Sandra Betzina's "Today's Fit " for Vogue and Burda. As I have mentioned in the past, Bernina My Label patterns fits me perfectly straight off the printer.  I know it doesn't work that well for everyone, that's just my experience.  I am a little tired of the same Bernina patterns, but I still use them when I am making flat pattern alterations, as opposed to draping on my beloved Wolf dress form as I am showing today.  I wonder how many garments I need to sew before my dress form has paid for itself?  More....MANY more, I am sure.  ha!

You will recognize a slight full bust adjustment (FBA)

And what do we call this addition to the center front?  A full belly adjustment? ha! 
When I attended a Sit and Sew workshop with Kenneth King and watched him work,
I think every woman there had this adjustment to her muslin.
I changed up the neckline, too.  I like a shallower V-neck on me.

In addition to the changes I show above, I added 2 inches where the bodice attaches to the peplum to be more in line with my waist.  That silhouette worked well for me on the the Vogue jacket I sewed last February.  The jacket is assembled and now I'm considering seam finishes.  This is where I am glad to say I don't have time to sew everyday.  I was stumped as to how I would trim the edges and felt certain a trip to New York City would be required.  Why not, right?
While commuting to work, I had a "Eureka!" moment when I realized I could recycle the neckline ruffles from the original jacket on this one.  I'll play with that this weekend. 

May you have a "Eureka!" moment when you need one,  and,
Happy Sewing!