Wednesday, October 28, 2015

McCalls 6600 Shirtdress Tunic - in jersey knit!

 An experiment! Having sewn M6600 as a tunic-length shirt, I was really curious to see if it could be done in a knit jersey. I remember seeing a gal in the post office a couple years ago - she was wearing a loose white jersey shirt over deep indigo blue jeans. It looked so fresh and pretty. I've been thinking it about it since, and decided this week to try something similar.

I've had this beige eyelet crinkle jersey for a while, got it from Fabric Mart. The color is awful. From the online picture, at left, I thought it would be kind of deep cream, but it's a yucky pinky buff, or something like that. In real life, it looks like the pics on this post. So dreary. And perfect for a muslin, since I'm not attached to it :-)

It's poly/rayon/lycra jersey, and it has only horizontal stretch. That, at least, was in my favor and suited what I wanted to do.

Have you noticed that most eyelet fabrics are really like a monochrome check? The eyelets have to be lined up both vertically and horizontally. Since stubborn is my middle name when it comes to sewing, and because this shirt had some potential, I spent a couple hours just placing my pattern and cutting this out. Yes, I'm patting myself on the back - everything lines up really well.

And sewing the fabric was surprisingly easy. I was unsure of how the collar and button plackets would behave, but they came out really pretty. I used bias-cut lawn for all my interfacings, instead of fusible knit. The woven fabric provided just the right amount of weight and form to prevent drooping in the collar and bands.

And the buttonholes went in without a hitch. My backup plan for the closures was to use pearl snaps, but my test buttonholes were very reassuring, so I went for it.

I treated the back yoke a little differently, compared to my woven version. On the latter, I didn't use the yoke facing, since it wasn't needed structurally. On this knit version, I did use it. It really stabilizes the back and shoulders.

The other change I made for this one is the cuff treatment. Instead of closing the sleeve with a placket and button cuff, I attached the cuff as a band, just stretching it to fit the sleeve as one does with a ribbed cuff. Worked great.

When I look past the color, I really like this shirt. 

So - help me please! Has anyone been successful dying poly/rayon/lycra? If so, what product did you use? My research has been discouraging - most of what I've read says that the lycra won't take color well. I'm going to dye it regardless! so thanks in advance.

Parting shots: one of my lizard buddies in the bird bath...

Bye for now - Coco

Thursday, October 22, 2015

McCalls 6600 Shirtdress - but a little different

We've had 3 or 4 days of beautiful weather - wind, low humidity, and bright blue skies. So I ventured outside late this afternoon to take some pics. Photos outside are so much clearer than those taken inside, at least with my little camera. Plus it's fun to mess around in the garden. Not a mosquito in sight, which means they'll soon be gone for the season. Back to the Everglades!

And with the promise of cooler weather just around the corner, I find I'm in the mood for something with a shirtdress vibe. A shirtdress just feels like fall, even here in Florida. So I pulled out this little pattern from McCalls, which I've never sewn. I checked my files - I can hardly believe I bought it in February, 2013! Gosh time flies...

I decided to make it into more of a over-sized shirt than a short dress, because I wanted to make something that I'll really wear. I'm too conscious of the scleroderma on my legs to really enjoy something short. The change was a simple matter of taking 6.5" off the hem.

Vogue 9114 Kathryn Brenne pants in white target cloth - and shoes for a change!

And I extended the button placket all the way down. This was also an easy alteration, literally an extension of the placket and facing down the full length of the front.

If you squint, you can see that I added a second pocket on the lower left side, it's the same pattern as the chest pocket. It's really just for fun.

I love that the back pleat is deep enough to be obvious. 

It's also a little hard to see that this Theory shirting fabric has a very small jacquard weave. It's 100% cotton and sewed like a dream. It became softer and softer as I worked with it and reminds me of how linen gets when it's been laundered many times.

I really enjoyed sewing this. Very pleasant. And I've already done a second one in striped chambray - I'll wear it with something soon.

The weekend is almost here - I hope yours is nice and includes some sewing :-)

Bye for now,  Coco

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Kwik Sew 3334 Jacket restyle...

I've been watching one of my favorite RTW jackets decline over the last couple years. It's a red ponte made by Motto and purchased from QVC back when its Motto line was extensive and edgy - I love it. But the red has faded with washings, and the buttonholes are stretched out. Sadness. So I decided to take measurements and pics before it leaves me - and to work on a copycat pattern. 

The original...

I started by looking for a jacket or blouse to use as the foundation for the bodice. Something with a similar neckline, wide-set and low. Enter Kwik Sew 3334, which came out in 2005 and has a lot of helpful reviews on Pattern Review (thank you, fellow sewists!).

I made only a few adjustments to the pattern, all on the tissue before cutting fabric. I'm so brave...but I was using 2 yards of Maggy London ponte de roma that I snagged at $1.99/yard from FabricMart earlier this year. And the pattern can always be replaced. Changes:

  • Removed the dart from the sleeve (I just don't care for the fit of a darted sleeve in a casual jacket).
  • Straightened the side seams from armscye to the bottom of the bodice.
  • And cut the bodice 5" below the armscye.
At first, I thought I'd use the notched collar, but after giving it some thought, I decided to go with the shawl collar. Honestly, I thought the notch points might not turn and sit well, given the weight of the ponte. 

As it turned out, I love the shawl collar - it's beautiful. 

Drafting the skirt part was easy - two fronts and a back, cut as rectangles, with an allowance for a generous facing on the fronts and a deep hem. Rather than use the pleats on the skirt, as on the original, I gathered the fabric under the princess seams and  the back darts.

I also decided to use elbow length sleeves, mostly to balance all that black fabric. With the full-length sleeve, the jacket was dressy and kind of funerary.

I already knew that the buttonholes in ponte might be a continuing issue, so I did some tests to confirm. Below, the original and my results. Aack!

Button snaps were a great solution, and an excuse to use my gigantic snap tool again :-) I also like the balance of the snapsets on each side - they definitely raise the casualness factor of the jacket. I didn't plan any of this beforehand, it just worked out well.

Final measurements - the bodice/skirt seam is 3 1/4" below the armscye, and the skirt is finished 18" below that seam.  

I like it! and have already worn it out and about a couple times. It's super easy to throw on over pants and a tee. I'm planning to do it again in a fun color, orange or marigold, with a gathered and cuffed sleeve. 

Parting shots from the garden:

I have a new plant, one that simply appeared in a couple places over the last couple months. I thought it was a sansevieria and was happy to have it. I love it when a plant volunteers in the garden, brought by birds, the wind, or who knows...

But a few days ago I noticed one of them had bloomed, and the flower did not look like a sansevieria at all. After an hour of research online, guess what - it's a terrestrial orchid! Check out these tiny little monkey-face flowers. They're pollinated by ants and rain.

Oeceoclades maculata, aka Monk Orchid, Aftrican Spotted Orchid

It has a fascinating history, with origins in west Africa and emergence in Brazil and the Caribbean in the 1800's. Apparently it began showing up in south Florida in the mid-1970's, possibly as an escapee from Fairchild Gardens in Miami-Dade. 

So now I dare anyone to walk on one of them! Or worse, pull it up as a weed. 

Bye for now! Coco

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Finishing the Haremere jacket...stubborn

When last seen, my Merchant & Mills Haremere jacket was unfinished and declared a wadder. And it rested in the bin for a number of days. The problem was, my mind just couldn't leave it alone. I wanted to finish it. So I did.

I deconstructed the biggest problem area - the shoulders - and redid them. This meant (1) straightening the angle of the shoulder seam, and (2) trimming and fitting the upper armscye to raise the sleeve.

It wasn't awful, surely not the hardest fix I've ever done. And once accomplished, I moved on with the balance of the jacket.

Because the original 4-layer back facing was simply two thick to work well in my neckline seam, I drafted a much more  simple facing that went in nicely.

It meets the binding on the jacket lapel at the shoulder, and is topstitched along the bottom edge to keep it from flying up (with red thread in the needle and navy in the bobbin).

Next up were the sleeves, which went in with no issues. I bound the edge of the sleeve hem, rather use a lining or facing - just personal preference. And I finished binding and blind-stitching the back hem in place.

At this point, the jacket was looking pretty cute, and I was glad I'd decided to finish it.

Last thing - I put on the front pockets. In general, I don't use the pocket placement markings provided with patterns, because I want them to go where they work best for my hands!

And so ends the Haremere marathon. Will I make it again? Well, honestly, having done all this drafting and redrafting work - maybe, but not soon :-)

Ciao! Coco

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Jalie Cocoon Sweater - fast and fun

This has been fun. I'm not a big Jalie fan or aficionado - so many of their patterns are based on an 'active' lifestyle. And I had my Eleonore pants disaster a few months ago. That one still bothers me (which means I'll probably try it again in a different fabric).

Over the last few months, I've picked up three sweater knits, poly/cotton/lycra blends, lightweight and sort of loosely woven (like the grey one below). Nothing near as dense or heavy as a hacci knit. Since I wear jersey knit shrugs and cardigans all the time, over my sleeveless things, I thought I'd try something new. 

What to make? I've always liked the look of Burda's cocoon cardigan 11/2013 #107, but it's meant for a substantial fabric and would be really warm for south Florida. Lots of pattern cruising later, this Jalie cocoon pattern caught my eye. I like the simple design and the length, and love the cut-on sleeves.

So, muslin time. I was really wary of the band around that big convex curve in the hem. Give me a band on a concave curve, like a neckline on a tee and no problem. But I don't often tackle something like this - it's not as easy as it might look. I started off with a thin nylon knit with 40% horizontal stretch, just to get a feel for the pattern and the size I chose. 

No cuffs, I just lopped the sleeves at 3/4 length and hemmed them.

When I got it all together, the band drooped and turned inwards very badly around the front bottom curve. So I ironed it. Bad idea. I flattened the band everywhere, including around the neck, where it needs to be more conforming.

But it's a muslin, and I did learn some things. First, I needed to force even more of the band onto the most extreme parts of the curve. And second, a thin fabric wouldn't work very well - the band needs some heft in the fabric to keep it from curving in on itself.

Muslin #2. This time in a poly crepe knit, a little heavier, with the same prerequisite stretch. This is dark navy, hard to photograph, so I've tried to lighten the pics a little bit.

Better, but I still ended up with a lot of droop in the bottom of the front band. It just bugged me! So I pulled out the big gun - ponte de roma. It's a nice, stable, hefty knit - why not give it a go?

What a difference. It really looks nice! I lightened these pics on Emile as well, black is worse than navy in photos.

Ponte from Fabric Mart,  68% rayon, 27% nylon, 5% spandex

And the same view on me...I love it!

A few sewing notes:
  • I sewed a size 38. 
  • And learned how to measure my torso. It's 64" by Jalie's guidelines. Since the size 38 has a 61" torso allowance, I added 3", which meant lengthening the front and back by 1 1/2". I imagine the torso measurement is really valuable in all the activewear and performance patterns that Jalie has. Pretty neat.
  • The finished sleeve is a little short. My arms are not long, and this sleeve just covers my wrist. So I widened the cuff by 2", bringing it further down on my hand.
  • The cuff pattern is the same width as the sleeve, so it's really a band. I shortened the width of the cuff by 2", so I could gather the sleeve into it. And now I can push up the sleeves and they stay put.
  • And good news - the band actually fits. On all three versions, I cut my band pieces 3" longer than the pattern. I distrust band patterns in general, because the fit often varies with the fabric. Better too much than too little. But this band fits without the additional length. 

I think ponte turned out to be a perfect fabric. Those three sweater knits will just have to wait a little longer. A couple more pics of this super nice little jacket:

Bye for now! Coco