June 2011

A new subject

A blouse is kind of a new subject for me.  I own one woven blouse— the polka dot “clown” blouse I made last fall.  I don’t buy blouses because they always feel too constraining or too shapeless.  I’ve worn my clown blouse a lot but it’s got some serious engineering flaws.  The un-stabilized neckline has grown substantially.  And without sleeves, the weight of the bow in front tends to pull the neckline even lower.  Plus it’s long for me and really more billowy than I would like.  I should never make a pattern that advertises itself as “romantic.”

For my second attempt I used New Look 6022.  Yes, the same pattern that Elizabeth has been making into such lovely dresses.  Unlike Elizabeth, I tried to fit it on the fly.  I cut a 12 tapering to a 10 at the waist.  The hips were too narrow so I left slits open at the sides.  I made a hideous swayback adjustment that I more-or-less fixed with an elastic gather (I was planning to leave that detail off).  Despite the klugey fitting I’m pretty pleased with how it feels: looser than a t-shirt but with a little bit of shape.  I adore the pleats in front.  And the sleeves are frickin’ adorable.

Details:  French seams everywhere.  Neckline stabilized with fusible bias.  Arm holes finished with single-fold bias tape (I’m not sure how crazy I am about this finish.  The tape feels heavy and awkward on the feather-light blouse.  Very stable though.)   Single button closure with a thread loop courtesy of Sherry’s timely tutorial.

The fabric is cotton lawn.  I love this fabric.  Sewing with it feels like origami— it folds and presses so precisely.

Not to mention being  a joy to wear.  I hope this blouse will be the first of many.


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Someday my prints will come

I’ve decided I need more prints in my life.

Print fabrics, that is.  I love the idea of printed fabrics.  But…when I go to browse for them I find there aren’t too many I am drawn to.  This one is too floral, too bright, too geometric, too dull.  None of them are quite what I am looking for and I worry I will get sick of them before I have a chance to sew them up.

The truth is I think I am looking for versions of my color studies on fabric.  Which leads me to wonder if I should try printing or painting them myself.  And leads David to wonder how our small and rather overstuffed apartment can possibly accommodate the inevitable bolts of fabric this will produce.

Does anyone have any experience with this?

(I mean with printing or painting on fabric.)

In the meantime, rather than stuff our apartment with bolts of self-printed fabric, I am stuffing it with a few yards of commercially printed fabric.


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This is a t-shirt that I sewed last week while I was avoiding finishing the hem of my jacket.

Of course, I cut the t-shirt out at Christmas, so you could say I was working on the jacket to avoid sewing up this top.

Productivity— in my experience— is all about skillfully redirecting one’s desire to procrastinate.  For example, by writing this post I am avoiding inserting an invisible zipper.


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I’ve been trying to think of a good name for this jacket.

Like “The post-partum delusions jacket”

Or maybe the “Biting off more than I can chew jacket”

Or maybe just “Soldier on”

But I think in the end the name David came up with is the best.  It’s the one in the title of the post.

Let’s recap shall we?

It started with the dubious decision to make the muslin when I was 8 1/2 months pregnant.

Then the decision to add a bunch more design features to a pattern already loaded with details.

Then the thought that I would just sew this up quickly in the last week of March, in time to start another jacket for Sherry’s RTW jacket Sew-Along in April.  (Note to self: a jacket takes 3 months to sew.  That means if you want a spring jacket you have to start in January, not March.  Unless you want it for spring of the following year.)

Here are the details in the original pattern:  Lined, pleated hip pockets with flaps, shoulder tabs and cuffs with working buttons, full lining, contrast topstitching.

Here are the details that I added:  Lined, pleated chest pockets with flaps, shoulder yoke, back yoke flap, hood with lining.

Here are a few of the things I learned while making this:

  • I cut the interfacing for the collar and facings on the bias, which helps the jacket fall open nicely at the collar.  I’ve always had trouble with before— probably from using too stiff of interfacing— so I’m really happy with this technique and will use it again for future jackets.
  • At Mary-Nanna’s suggestion, I bought two topstitching feet with guides 3/8″ and 1/4″ from the needle.  As promised, this made all the difference for even topstitching, although I still have to learn exactly where to stop and pivot when sewing around a corner.  And I’m still not that great on curves.  Let’s just say that much swearing occurred during the making of this jacket.
  • I learned to pull one thread through and tie off the threads at the end of a row of topstitching, rather than backstitching.  This trick came in super-handy when sewing my knit dress and other delicate fabrics.
  • I wish I had left a larger opening for turning the pockets.  As it was, they got all bunched up and stretched trying to turn them through a tiny opening.  Since the openings are on the top edges and covered by the flaps it’s not such a big deal but I would do it differently next time.
  • I fixed the poofiness in the back by taking it in at the side seams.  By about 2 inches.  Never muslin when pregnant.
  • Although I was unable to use her suggestions about pattern-drafting this time, I did use Sherry’s tips for closing off the collar, attaching the sleeve hems of the lining and jacket, and finishing the bottom hem invisibly with no hand sewing. Love it!!!  I will admit I haven’t yet sewn up the opening in the sleeve seam, just in case I think of something else I want to change inside the jacket.  The sleeve hem thing still seems like magic to me.  Thank you Sherry for such awesome tutorials!
  • Finally, I learned that if I want to get a nice picture of a garment the best thing to do is to ask David to take the picture.  Preferably while I hold the Joe.

Thanks to a bout of cold weather I was able to wear my new jacket to work yesterday, despite my poor seasonal planning.  It felt *great.*  Hip, comfortable, stylish.  I could roll up the cuffs to do my dissections and fit my wallet, cards, and keys easily in the roomy pockets.  I might just have hit that perfect balance of structure and comfort, dress and casual, feminine and masculine, that I am always aiming for.

Victory is sweet.


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The twist top revival continues

Thank you to everyone who left an encouraging comment about my jacket.  And to Laura who said yes it does look like a fly-fishing vest.  Ah, honesty.

Anyway, I did power through and it is mostly done and actually pretty awesome if I do say so myself.  How mostly?  All I need to do is sew the bottom hems of the lining and shell together and add the buttons to the cuffs.  But since it is supposed to hit 100°F today (while pouring continuously) lets just say my motivation to finish a heavy spring/fall jacket is a little…dampened.

To take a break from the jacket making I sewed this dress:

The fabric was a birthday present to myself…a lovely silky rayon lycra knit with 2-way stretch.  The pattern is Butterick 4789.  2 pattern pieces, 4 fabric pieces.  No sleeves, no pockets, no lining, no zipper.  The perfect pick-me-up project.

I made only a few tiny changes to the pattern: a small swayback tuck, then realigning the skirt CB seam so it fell straight.  I also raised and rounded off the neckline at the back. Although I know knit dresses are supposed to  be “easy,” I often find myself fighting to work with the stretchy fabric.  This one went together easily though.  I used bias tape to stabilize the neckline and the opening for the twist.  And the 2-way stretch behaved reasonably well.

When I first planned to post this, I was going to say something like “I know twist dresses are so 2009…” but then I saw this post and this post and there seems to be a twist revival going on!  Which seems totally sensible to me because these patterns give you a great design feature with minimal sewing headaches.  In fact, I think I may make another one myself.


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