July 2010

Jacket fever

I have jacket fever.

I am so done with sewing empire-line maternity dresses.  I am so done with 95° + humidity.  I am so ready to sew a bunch of fitted fall jackets and skirts with funky linings and lots of detail.

Yeah, I know I already posted a fall sewing plan with more garments than I could hope to complete.  Guess what?  Here are some more!

First up, a version of the Burdastyle Hikaru jacket with chest pockets àla Elaine’s version in espresso cotton sateen with an olive polka-dot lining:

Next, a motorcycle-style jacket (Burda 7735) made from the same gray cotton I used for the bag in the previous post, and an olive floral print cotton lining.  (I admit I had my eye on the print for a while but couldn’t figure out what on earth I would make from it.  The idea of using it for a lining came directly from the pouch project.)

I wasn’t sure how I felt about the collar on this one but after sketching it out I kind of like it.  Belt might be a bit much.  We’ll see.

And while we’re at it, here are a couple new Burda envelope patterns that showed up online this week.  Thankfully I haven’t bought either the patterns or the fabric for these yet because there’s no way I would get to them and I don’t know how wearable they’d be for me anyway.

These long fitted jackets were everywhere on my favorite Korean clothing site a couple years ago.  I love this style but (a) the largest Korean sizes are too small for me and (b) I can’t really pull off anything that looks like a suiting blazer.  Ah well.  Nice to know I could make one in my size if I wanted. Here are a couple of pics from the Korean site that I liked:

Also, I think I’m on a motorcycle jacket kick.  I love this one too.  Probably wouldn’t look as nice on me as on the skinny-legged model but how cool would this be in a plaid houndstooth?  Much nicer than the blouse-y version in the upcoming August Burdastyle:

Ok, and now I will admit that against my better judgement I went ahead and started muslining the Hikaru jacket.  Yes, I know I’m 7 1/2 months pregnant but I reasoned that I could try it on open and most of my fitting issues are generally with the back.  I cut a straight 40, which is a size up from what I used to cut on top, and made it up without any alterations (except to shorten the sleeves by 1/2″).  Nice pattern!  Now I see why everyone raves about Burda’s drafting.  Anyway, here it is:

I realize now that I have no idea if it will be flattering or not given my current shape.  I like where the seam lines fall on the back on the 40, although I feel like the shoulders are falling off of mine and maybe it could come in a wee bit at the side seams.  I can’t tell if the shoulder thing will be fixed by stiffer fabric and maybe some shoulder pads or if I should shorten the shoulders a bit.  I’m considering making the following alterations and forging ahead

  • shorten shoulders by 1/4-1/2″
  • take in side seams at the waist by 1/4″
  • slash and spread the base of the back peplum by 1/4″ on each side

Alternatively I could save my fabric and wait till I have a shape to fit it to.  What do you think?  Am I crazy?

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A pouch

Being a person of roo-ish persuasion, I am always on the lookout for a quality pouch.  In San Francisco there were a number of women who made and sold beautiful funky hand-made bags at street fairs and I would always drool over them and make David wait around while I looked at all of them and finally conclude that they were out of my (grad student) price range.  So it’s kind of odd that in the year-and-a-half since I started sewing this is my first attempt at making one myself.

I used the Burdastyle Diana Bag pattern, modified as described in Johanna’s review by cutting an inch off the sides of the main pattern pieces, and replacing the darts at the bottom with a single long rectangular side-and-bottom piece.  In her review, Johanna mentions that it took her 10 year old daughter “a few hours” to make this bag.  At pregnant-lady speed, it took me a week and a half.

To be fair, a good portion of that time was spent fretting. After seeing Johanna’s charcoal gray linen version, I had my heart set on gray.  I even had the perfect color fabric— some cotton lycra I picked up last summer— but my fabric was fairly thin and stretchy and there was no way it would hold up as a bag exterior.  I thought about interfacing it but knew I didn’t have any interfacing sturdy enough for this bag.  Then, after a day or two I had an inspiration.  Hmmm…what do I have around the house that could be used to give structure to a messenger bag?

Can you believe there was a time that the only thing I bought at fabric stores was canvas?

I used wonder-under to fuse the gray cotton to some heavy-weight canvas I had lying around.  The result was perfect: the color and texture I wanted on the outside with enough substance to hold up under daily wear.  (Ok, I also fretted that maybe I used too heavy a weight of canvas.  I think somehow I wanted this not just to be a pouch, or my first pouch, but the perfect pouch.  That slowed me down considerably.)  I was worried that the heavy canvas would be difficult to sew but it was surprisingly easy.  It stayed exactly where I put it, pressed well with steam, and gave a nice shape to the bag.

Overall I enjoyed working on this project.  Working on a bag reminded me a lot of working on a jacket— my other favorite thing to sew.  There was the initial thrill of pairing outside and lining fabrics, the joy of seeing a 3-D shape emerge from the sewing machine, the fun (if nerve-wracking) details like interior pockets and topstitching, and the total nightmare of trying to get the lining to go in smoothly.

Arghh!!

That’s where the other half of the time went.  I swear I put this lining in (and tore it out again) about five times.  You see, the lining I had my heart set on was also cotton-lycra and every time I started sewing it stretched, while the nicely fused exterior didn’t.  I also forgot that the lining sits inside the bag and so has to be smaller than the bag itself.  Finally in frustration I (1) took each of the corner seams in by 1/8″ (1/4″ off each corner for an inch total off the total circumference), (2) sewed a strip of non-stretch cotton to the edge of the lining before turning it under:

(3) hand basted (!) the lining in place:

And got it to go in reasonably ok:

Raaaaar!!

Oddly, the upshot of all this has been a fierce craving to make more jackets.

Stay tuned for more unrealistic sewing plans.

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Tough

This is another version of Burda 8071.  I made the princess-seamed version last year (view A).  This is the gathered-bodice version (view C).  I kept the back skirt piece (extending it to maxi-length) and did the slash-and-spread thing on the front piece to make room for the belly.  I have a feeling I’m going to be making one of these every summer.

This dress took a lot longer to make than I thought it would.  Partly that’s because I decided it was high time I got more professional with my seam finishes and pressing (more on that below).  And partly because…third trimester is kind of kicking my ass.  I breezed through first trimester with no nausea whatsoever so I can’t really complain.  But for the past three weeks I’ve felt sick and dizzy anytime I (a) stand, (b) sit for an extended period of time, or (c) lean forward.  Oy.

So sewing has consisted mostly of 10-20 minute bursts of activity, interspersed with 20 minutes of lying down.  (Ok, yesterday one of those 20 minute periods somehow turned into a 2 hour nap.  I don’t know how that happened).  Cutting was even worse, given that I lay out my fabric and cut on the floor.  I tried kind of leaning to one side to cut but it was still cut one side—wait 5 minutes— cut another side…etc.

Work has been about the same thing except that I try to limit myself to one 20 minute break per day.  I feel kind of embarrassed sneaking off to the conference room to lie down.  Actually I mostly feel embarrassed about the whole thing.  Every lab I have worked in since college has had at least one pregnant woman in it, and every one of those women has worked pretty much up to the day she delivered.  So I feel totally lame when I can’t power through my experiments or leave early because I feel awful.  There are also lots of stories that circulate about how quickly different women came back after having their babies.  Usually I’m pretty good about not letting lab machismo (or…er..feminismo?) get to me but for some reason I keep feeling like I’m not measuring up.

None of this should reflect badly on my lab, which has been awesome in every way.   My boss reminded me the other week to take care of myself first.  My lab bros carry stuff for me and drag the heavy outdoor chairs over for me at lunch.  And David has been fantastic, making me protein breakfasts every morning, packing my backpack with snacks and drinks, and taking over what little cleaning he wasn’t doing already :)

Anyway, back to seam finishes.  I tried a bunch of new-to-me things this time including stabilizing the arms with fusible bias tape (awesome), and using french seams (great for this ravel-y lightweight rayon):

Also for the first time I left the iron on and running while I sewed, so I could press each seam as I finished it.  Actually I pressed a lot of things into place before I sewed them and…wow, did that make a huge difference!  I was always reluctant to fire up the iron so I would save up a bunch of pressing then try to do it all at once.  But this just looked so much better.  I think I may have to change my ways.

Other design changes I made:  As with the princess-seamed version, this bodice was designed absurdly low.  I added an inch and a half to the top of all the pieces.  Instead of a side-zipper, I put elastic in the waistband.  First I gathered the bodice and sewed it with a zig-zag to the elastic:

Then I gathered the skirt front and sewed the skirt to the bodice.  I’ve been finding my gathers behave better if I keep the gathered side down (against the feed) and leave the elastic on top to slide under the presser foot.  Finally, I found that center front drooped a bunch.  I should probably have moved the elastic up, but being lazy I just sewed a horizontal tuck in the bodice front.  Good enough for pregnant lady clothes.

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