Monday, October 20, 2014

A Pencil Skirt to fall in love with.

Finally, the pencil skirt of my dreams.  Sassy, yet classy, that doesn't fit like a body glove.
There are so many ways to simply draft and make a pencil skirt.  Pencil skirt tutorials are all over You-Tube and the worldwide-web.  I have made plenty on my own, but what changes the game, is the one little detail that you don't think about on your own.  DARTS!!! on knit...Who would have thunk it!!!  
I guess that's why design houses have "Creative Designers", pattern cutters, and machine operators as separate job descriptions;  so that each can specialize in one thing and not have to think about all the many details that go into a garment.

Any way, I wanted that classy look that doesn't "cup" under in the back like a body glove.  Classy yet still just a bit of sassy. 

Pattern credit goes to Pamela's Patterns:  "The Magic Pencil Skirt" is for women with "real figures" it says on her site.  So, I guess that's everyone.  Includes a choice for a 1 1/2"-2" elastic waist or the 1".  DARTS!!, did I say Darts in a stretch woven or medium to heavy knit.  No need for a split.

It's a simple straight forward multi-sized pattern, that is extremely easy to grade if you need more than the 53" hip measurement.    

Alterations:  NONE!!! Well except for lowering the front at the waist, my common change on nearly every waisted skirt or pant pattern.  

Highly recommended!! 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Meet Issy, and 3 reasons not to trust the mirror.

Meet Issy, a StyleArc pattern, straight in from Austrailia.  When I first saw the description and artist rendering for this top, I wanted it right away, knowing that I would feel great wearing such a stylish top.  The drape and shaping on the model revealed such easy flowing drape around the front of the waist, and the cowl neckline hung slimmingly past the bust, creating such a beautiful asymmetric fall from the shoulders.  
I was in love with this top, and was sure I would stand in the same pose and walk with the same swag exhibited in the pattern illustration.

Initially when I began cutting and sewing this lovely top, I concluded during the first fitting, that this may very well not be a match made in sewing heaven.  What went wrong?  Was it my shape, was it the fabric, was the design wrong for me?  Since I couldn’t come to a conclusion as to the problem, I stored this beauty away in the UFO pile/box.

That was three months ago!!  Now, after clearing, cleaning, and organizing, I revisited the Issy Knit Top by StyleArc.  Should this be considered the age ole:  “I just needed some space.” sort of relationship?  Because now, I am in love again.  I don’t know about you, but maybe it was the time we spent away from each other, because now I can honestly say I am very happy with this top. 
So, I guess the answers to my prior questions three months ago, would be: The design is terrific for your body type, the fabric is a good choice, especially for this Houston weather, and no, nothing went wrong!  “It was your mood missy, Issy is just right for you!”
With that being said, I have personally come to the conclusion to now follow a few simple precepts when I have reached the breaking point in my workroom while dealing with a difficult issue regarding my sewing projects. 
This is an old pic, the shelves are filled now.
First, do not trash the project completely, because whatever you are wrestling with currently regarding your fashion image, may not hold true after a little quiet time, or personal space away from your situation.  Secondly, DO NOT trust your mirror, IT LIES, use the camera instead!!  Pictures are worth the effort..

What is it about the camera lens in helping us to see things for what truly shows through, where the mirror fails? Third, trust your prior RTW (ready-to-wear) purchases, they are a good indicator of what you love about your personal fashion sense and style. 
After all this drama, I will be adding this top to my closet finally, and placing the pattern high in my pattern rotation.  Next will be the long sleeve for the winter, and a sleeveless to wear with jackets. 

The softness of the cotton jersey is cozy, one of many great fabric pieces I bought while in Austin at the PR Weekend back in May.  (BTW, that was the best sewing trip for me in years!!) 

Based on the StyleArc sizing chart I made a size 14, and it fit like this straight out of the package.  WOW!!! Now, that is terrific.  Design exceptions include:
  • 3/4” swayback adjustment before cutting,
  • pleats instead of gathers for the front ruching

Personally, I did not like the amount of ease created at the waist from the ruching/gathers, so instead I pleated my fronts in those areas.  this pattern is spot on for my frame.  The shoulder seams are right on point. 

I have a problem with the shape of the back hem, and I know it falls like that on the back because I should have added some width around the hip.  (Next time.)  I am really happy with this top because it may very well take the place of my more common t-shirts, that I wear often.

Tell me something, just between you and me.  Have you ever tossed out a project after the first fitting because you didn't think it would work for you??  Or, am I the only one?  

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Tailoring Part 2: Pattern Prep, Interfacing, Pockets, and Darts

Okay, hello everybody, I am back to share more tailoring escapades of my son's suit.  Of course, I will admit this will not get done by tomorrow.  I slowed down a little bit because I made some really silly mistakes, maybe because I was sidetracked, or just maybe because I was tired, either way it is getting done.  I would rather it be done right then it to be done fast and wrong.  So keep reading if you want to find the mistakes I made.  I know you want to...we all have it in us to see what someone else did wrong.  Be my guest, I'll even help you.  
There's my handsome baby boy fitting the shell of his new suit.  Doesn't he look excited?

Here are the things I've gotten done so far.  Some of the techniques and changes I made are from various sources, but the main one I use for tailoring is my book, Classic tailoring techniques, a Construction Guide for menswear, by Robert Cabrera and Patricia Flaherty Meyers
For you techie folks: here are the details about the pattern adjustments that I made before cutting the fabric.

  1. Altered the roll line on the jacket front to be 5/8 inch above the first button and then I made sure that it ended at least 3/8 inch out from the neck cutting line at the top
  2. Changed the back shoulder seems to be at least 1/2 inch longer than the front shoulder
  3. The center back vent was changed to 2 inches wide near the top and graded it to 3 inches at the hem.
  4. The front facing straight of grain orientation straightened to line up with the center front and the size was increased to 2" inches wide at the shoulder,  3 inches wide from the midpoint of the roll line and 5 1/2 inches wide at the hem. 

Before I laid out and cut the fabric, I made sure the grain was straight.   The pictures above just show you a few steps that I took to make sure the grain was completely straight.

Interfacing: Before I installed the pockets and sewed the darts, I underlined the entire jacket with fusible weft interfacing cut on the same grain as the jacket.  It is a Rayon/polyester medium weight weft interfacing called "Perfect Fuse" from Palmer/Pletsch.
Stabilizing:  The jacket was steam pressed by hand to cause as much shrinking as possible beforehand.  This is not the only interfacing we'll be using for this jacket, horse hair braid and canvas will be used to further stabilize only the jacket front, should/breast and upper back and sleeve cap.  

Marking each piece was done after all underlining/interfacing was completed by placing the pattern tissue back on the fabric to check for any distortion and make sure the size was okay. then using tailor tacks or tailors chalk to mark placement lines, etc.  (With the interfacing in place, I was free to mark as needed without worry of show through.)
OOOPs!!!  Yeah!  I ran out of fabric, so this became a real Tim Gunn "Make it work." moment.  You will find out some of the places I actually made it work as the construction moves forward.
 Here you see I hand basted the chest pocket placement lines on the left front panel.
The single welt pocket was finished and hand stitched along the sides to secure the welt.  The pocket isn't shining, I think its the camera angle.  Do you see the dart under the pocket? 
Looking inside the chest pocket: you can see I have the base shell fabric on the bottom towards the body and the lining is actually on the top facing the jacket, but hidden from view when worn.
Stylish design lines: The picture above is of the jacket front.  The entire jacket is designed with upper and lower parts, which can be color blocked if desired.
Lower Pocket:  You see in this picture (which is upside down) the flaps have been sewn and placed and now it is time to sew the inseam pockets that are actually part of the waist seam.  The flap was cut with the none public side 1/8" smaller on each end to cause the seam to roll to the inside when turned.

 OOOOPs!! you see that??:  
More sleepy sewing.  I put the pockets off towards the back too much.  EEEkkk!!!  Wake up Andrea!!!
OKAY!! That it, I'm done!....Now I have gone and done it!  I put the pocket inside out!  Time to take a break and get back to this later.

Stay tuned in for the fitting and more "Make it work." moments.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Style Arc Kerry Cargo Pant: A review

It is unbelievable that I took so long to finish these simple pants that I started work on in May this year.  You would think I should have had them finished in the span of a few days at the most. 

I fell head over heels for These Style Arc cargo pants the moment I saw them...but when I started working on them, I just lost interest because of the amount of pockets.  But that isn't the total and only reason it took so long.  I ended up having to move the pockets after they were completed.  You notice on the picture from Style arc, that the back pockets sit rather high up on the hips.  Well that was the problem for me there.  I probably should have check the placement before I stitched and topstitched.
This is a Safari style straight (no flare) leg cargo pant with drawstring and box pleated pockets with flaps and functioning buttonholes.  The patterns come in single sizes, thus, I ended up cutting a 16.

Compared to the pictures on the Style Arc website, the pants should fit right at the hip, however, in this case they are rather high in the front.  I have to consider that my front rise is much lower than the average, so this part I overlooked.  Even after taking 1 1/2 inches from the front waist, you can see that they still sit pretty high.  As for the hang, they really do hang rather well, and that is what I like most about these pants.
I decided to style the pants with a similarly relaxed type of favorite summer ready white safari jacket.  It has its own type of wrinkle look going on so, I felt really comfortable when going inside the office building.  It was kind of dressed up but still dress down.

I used a lightweight linen. A note regarding the fabric::: the only reason I washed the fabric is because they are for daily wear, otherwise normally I would dry clean my pants. I do not like to lose the sheen in any of my fabrics, especially linen, sateen, and silk duping.  In the case of this fabric, I think it has a little poly blend or something, because they did not wrinkle nearly as bad as I thought they would.  I got the fabric free from my school several years back.  Another reason I suspect poly is because there was hardly any color loss.
Regarding the back pocket placement, I wasn't too impressed...the position on the pattern puts the back pockets quite high up into and too close to the waist gathers.  This made them look really bulky and caused the pleats to spread.  On the pattern envelope, the gathers are not as full as are on me. 
The crotch was on point for me, and the leg width is absolutely to die for.  The pants are cut more on a straight of grain along the side seam, which in my humble opinion helps for the inner leg and crotch to be on mast a bit of bias like jeans, to fit curves of the body better.  The hip was perfect, but there was just too much fabric bunched up around the waist.  
back of cargo pants

It seems like I made a lot of changes for a seemingly simple pair of pants. I was a little disappointed at how many changes I had to make, but I was really happy with them in the end, although, I plan to change the waist to be sewn on with stitched elastic and insert a drawstring next time I make them.  

Pattern alterations or design changes made:
Pockets usually cause a problem because of my thighs...I won't be using them much anyway.
Pattern alterations or any design changes made

  1. The front pockets were cut wider at the top to sew in the waist seam closer to center front.
  2. Deepened the crotch by 1/4" in the back. 
  3. lengthen the pant 1 3/8" to wear them a little longer and then had to take out again, because I decided to let the pants sit low on the waist.  
  4. Increased the back rise by 1"
  5. Lower the front crotch by 1 1/2" 
  6. Removed 1" from each side seam, and 1" from the back seam
  7. Lowered the position of the back pockets by 1.5" because the pockets were getting pulled up into the waist gathers.
  8. Left off the left leg pocket for personal preference only

The only reason I would recommend these to others is because of the way it is laid on the fabric and consequently hangs on the body.