Thursday, February 11, 2016

Winter Wool

Spring has arrived in The Bay Area.  The weather has been gorgeous for the past week, so I decided to make a wool coat.  Makes perfect sense, right?

Vogue 9071 is the pattern I chose.  And evidently, it is already out of print . . . so I guess not a very popular one.  Which is a shame, I think.  This design has some really lovely elements.

I purchased the wool quite a few years ago (I believe it was from Fashion Fabrics Club, although I cannot be sure at this point).

None of my stashed linings were going to work for the project, so I needed to purchase something.  Dharma Trading Co. just started selling colored silks so I decided to splurge on silk charmeuse.  Off I went to their San Rafael store to find the perfect color for my plaid.  I am slightly disappointed with the silk because it has what I can only describe as white scuff marks throughout the yardage which I did not see in the store.  The silk was dyed evenly - this seems to be something that happened after that process.  It is not ideal, but at least I was planning on using it as an interior fabric that will not show much, if ever.

The sleeves are faced instead of hemmed.  Although I was pretty sure that the coat would fit just fine without significant alterations, the sleeve length was probably going to need shortening, so I made up a sleeve in muslin and basted it in place.

The only buttonholes on this design are on the sleeves.

So, naturally, I made bound buttonholes.  This is a different method than my go-to bound buttonhole, but I really like how they came out.

I do love a bound buttonhole!

The coat construction was somewhat unexpected.

The only issue I had was that these particular instructions do not allow for shoulder pads.  Or, at least, shoulder pads that get covered by the lining.

I decided that a soft shouldered coat could work, but I did add sleeve heads.

The first half of the instructions read like a ready-to wear garment, but there is a fair amount of hand sewing as well.

The instructions have the lining free at the hem, but I decided to stitch it in place (the pattern pieces are just as wide as the coat hem, and that is my preferred finish).

And even though the black snaps blend in just fine with this plaid, I decided to cover them with scraps of my silk.  Because they are so much prettier!

I am not sure this coat will get much wear before the Spring weather takes full effect, but I am glad I stuck with it, just the same!

Friday, February 5, 2016

New Springtime Butterick Patterns

Oh, dear . . . Spring pattern catalogs are being released, and I still have a ton of winter sewing I want to get done before the weather changes.  On the other hand, I am definitely getting sick of cold weather wear, so perhaps it is time to pull out the springtime florals!

Butterick 6318

The new Retro Butterick reproduction is less than thrilling, and a pretty close copy of the recently released McCall 7086 from The Archive Collection.  The striped illustration looks pretty darn cute, but it really is pretty basic and blah. 

Gertie’s recent obsession with dirndls is very evident with Butterick 6322, but it also reminds me very much of Vogue 8728.

Butterick 6322

She also has a one shoulder dress that is nice, but the design is pretty basic and not tempting enough to make me drop my current sewing plans.

Butterick 6323

The Lisette offerings are intriguing.  But, in my opinion, there is something off with the petal bust detail on the dress – I think the center band has something to do with it.  Maybe if the contrast flaps met at center front?  Or perhaps in a single fabric I would like to the look better.

Butterick 6321

But I do love this jacket.  The back flap and elastic waistband is a little too sporty for my taste, but this design has some real possibilities.  I have no idea what is going on with the styling, but the double breasted jacket is enough to make me overlook it.

Butterick 6331

My favorite pattern, though, is Butterick 6320.  No, not the jumpsuit - the dress version.  The print hides the bodice style lines, but I really like the cap sleeved dress!  

Butterick 6320

Butterick 6320

And if I could get away with wearing them, I think a pair of jodhpurs would be an awesome addition to the wardrobe.  But, seeing as I am not a terribly chic 1930s English noblewoman with a country estate, I don't believe I can get away with puffy pants (I can't even pull off regular trousers).  Thank goodness the pattern is made for men so there is no chance I will be tempted.

Butterick 6340

The main issue now is, will I finish that wool coat on the sewing table in time to wear it before Spring and Summer sewing takes over?  Only time will tell . . .

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Red Carpet Season

It’s award show season, which means lots of red carpet fashion inspiration.  I am enjoying the distraction, even if it means I am not getting that much sewing done these days.  

The offerings from the SAG Awards this weekend were incredibly varied with lots of color, sparkle, lace, sleeves, and hem variations.  My favorite of the night is Rachel McAdams in Elie Saab.  Now this is a proper red carpet gown!  I hate that hair color on her with a nude lip, but she really makes the dress look incredible.  And I really, really, really want to see this lace confection up close!  Who can set that up for me?

Marisa Tomei looks amazing in a Zuhair Murad gown.  I love the color, the sleeves, the neckline . . . this is superb!  I would like one just like it in my closet, please!  Then again, the lady can make a backless skintight floral jumpsuit and ankle boots work, so the ability to shine in a beautiful dress is not all that surprising.  (And now I have an urge to go watch My Cousin Vinny . . .)

I do wish Kate Winslet would try something a bit different.  She is stunning in this Armani gown, but the silhouette looks a lot like so many of her other red carpet choices. 

From the waist up, I believe Viola Davis has never looked more beautiful.  She should wear this color all the time because it makes her skin look AMAZING.  Love the hair, and love the makeup.  But, once again, Zac Posen’s all time favorite duchess satin textile choice has created a mess all over the red carpet.  I almost did not notice those silly bracelets because I am so distracted by the wrinkles and puckers and that disgraceful hemline.  I believe the other Project Runway judges would rip a designer apart for this fabric choice, and yet he continues to use it after seeing women wear his designs in real life.  The drafting is exquisite, but the fabric ruins this for me.  Now, in a underlined silk faille . . . that is something I would love to see.  

Although I cannot stand this child actor from Mad Men, I love the fabric on this Erdem dress.  The contrasting boning channels are distracting and I wish that trend would disappear, but even so, I have to admit that she looks very cute and certainly age appropriate.

The sleeve trend on women's formal wear seems to be continuing, which I love.  This is not my favorite Naomi Watts fashion choice, but the color is lovely on her.  I think the neckline is what does not work here for me.  Perhaps a scalloped lace edge or a slightly wider boat neck would make me like the Burberry design a bit more.  And I wonder what the back looks like - is there a plunge or cutout back there?  Because that could be interesting . . .

I am not always a fan of Gucci, but the trompe l’oeil sparkler on Nicole Kidman is stunning.  I don’t like the chunky black bracelet, but I get what she (or the stylist) was going for with the black detail on the gown . . . I just wish that piece of jewelry was a bit more delicate.  This reminds me of a 1930s circus costume, and I love it!  This piece is also one that I would love to see up close.

I want to like this Christian Siriano dress on Christina Hendricks, but the execution just does not work.  It looks like a cheap Barbie costume made from polyester brocade in the photos.  This is another gown I would love to see the back view; is that a cape and train in one?  I am also afraid that Christina’s hair is going the way of Nicole Kidman a few years back – please don’t keep going lighter . . . the deeper red shades look so much better.  Maybe it was the lighting, but so many of these lighter color dyed shades look really brassy (or is that some new fad in hair color?).

Speaking of Barbie . . . Priyanka Chopra's gown is another unfortunate mess.  I think she is one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen, and pink looks wonderful on her – but this dress belongs in the clearance prom section at Macy’s.  Perhaps it looks better in person?  But shame on Monique Lhuillier for this one, and shame on this woman's stylist.  She deserves so much better.

Julia Louis Dreyfus also chose Monique Lhuillier.  I think the dress might have worked better on someone else.  Unfortunately, it does nothing for her incredible body.  I also take issue with the horsehair hem – maybe if the embellishment came down another inch or so and disguised that line it would look more polished.  Or perhaps if they had hemmed the gown into more of a tea length for the petite actress, this might have worked better.  I do love the necklace choice, though.

This Antonio Berardi dress on Julianna Margulies suits the actress quite well, I think.  I am not completely sold on the placement of the embellishment, but she looks very chic and high fashion.

And while this Jenny Packham sparkler is not my favorite, Helen Mirren looks beautiful, as always.  I love the hair style!  It looks like the gown length has caused some issues, though, and there are some pulled threads on the red carpet.  Quick, someone stitch that thing back together before the whole thing unravels!

Do you have any favorites?

[Click on image for source]

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Cast On

This weekend I decided to pick up my knitting needles.

I have two other knitting projects that I should get back to, but casting on a brand new one seemed like so much more fun.  So that is exactly what I did!

When I feel like working with beads again, this sweater will get some attention.

But for now, a basic seed and stockinette stitch is just what the doctor ordered.

And I am beginning to think that this wrap sweater is not to my liking, so before I spend more time on it, I am going to have to reevaluate the design.

Just how many WIPs are too many? 

Friday, January 22, 2016

My Kind of Separates

Last year, I found an amazing black and white floral brocade online at Elliott Berman.  I love textured fabrics, and this one was too hard to resist.

The listing has disappeared, but I believe it is a cotton/poly blend.  Which reminds me . . . I should really write these things down while the information is still available!  

But yes, I loved the print so much I was willing to brave the evil that is polyester!

As it often goes, my initial plans for the fabric changed once I got it in my hands.  When Butterick 6285 was released, I knew immediately that I wanted to make up the skirt and this fabric seemed like it would be a great fit.  It is probably on the heavy side for those double pleats, but with a bit of trimming, it all worked out for the best!  (By the way, the seam allowances on this thing are HUGE - I have never come across another Big-4 pattern like it.)  

The only alteration I made was to swap a shaped waistband for the straight narrow one drafted for the pattern.

Then came the issue of what to wear with the skirt.  I have wanted to make another version of McCalls 7053 for some time, and this seemed like a perfect opportunity.

My original plan was to dye some rayon twill turquoise and have at it, but in the end, I decided to go with fuchsia.  And I am so glad I did - this blouse has already had quite a bit of wear.

And I may have made myself a matching jacket for my fabulous new skirt!  Hooray for separates!

Blouse:  Made by me, McCalls 7053
Skirt:  Made by me, Butterick 6285

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Machine Buttonhole Madness

I will jump right into a project with ten or twelve bound buttonholes, but ask me to use a machine to make a buttonhole and you are going to have to drag me kicking and screaming all the way.  In an attempt to get over this ridiculous paranoia, I decided to stretch my sewing skills and give my machine (and myself) a chance.

I tried using my Bernina machine to make buttonholes for this project a few years ago, and it was a failure.  Thank goodness they did not show . . . I managed to tear through one while ripping it open with the sharp tool that came with the machine and looks like a seam ripper, and the other never reversed itself while being stitched so I tried to use a manual setting and fix the mess with not much success.  The buttonhole foot has been banished from the sewing room ever since.

After a couple of practice runs this past weekend, I had a decent buttonhole that could be duplicated.  Hooray!  Time to try my new buttonhole cutter set!  The brand new cutter is not sharp, and attempting to cut through a mid-weight cotton did not work at all.  The Bernina instruction guide suggests using a hammer, so I tried that.  The hammer created a slight tear so I used some sharp scissors to complete the opening. 

On the third try, this is what happened.

So much for my brand new buttonhole cutter kit.  I posted some of these images on Instagram and had some very helpful suggestions which leads me to believe I got a dud.

Just for kicks, I tried out the eyelet punch that comes with the kit.  And it works great.  So I am going to blame this one on bad tools, not user error (which is generally my first assumption).

I know I have heard of using Fray Check to keep all of the raw bits from shredding once the buttonhole is cut open.  Does anyone do that?  Does it make the buttonhole too stiff?

While doing some internet research, I came across a suggestion to pin across the bar tack before cutting or ripping the buttonhole open which seems like an excellent suggestion that I am going to try.  I would love to hear any other tips or tricks from any machine buttonhole experts out there!