Saturday, December 28, 2013

Sewing Workshop Era Jacket

Below is my version of the Sewing Workshop's Era Jacket pattern.  This is made out of a thick striped cotton that I can't remember where I purchased it from.  The idea for the "Bias Buttons" down the front came from a trip to Seattle several years ago.  I saw the idea in the window of a very expensive boutique and snapped a photo so I would remember it.  Further below is a small tutorial on how to make the "Bias Buttons".

Jacket Front
Just a few photos I snapped in the backyard.....
Jacket back
Jacket side with large angled vents

Ok, onto the technical stuff.  Here's the jacket on my dressform.  It's a loose fitting, below waist jacket with a high turned down collar with mitered corners.  The wrong side of the fabric will show on the collar - just keep that in mind if you decide to make your own.   The pattern only calls for two buttons on the front, but I just couldn't resist doing three! 

Underneath the "Bias Buttons" are snaps to hold the jacket closed.  Of course, after I finished sewing all of the snaps on and the bias buttons on, I realized that I had sewed them to the wrong sides!  A women's jacket should lap right over left, not left over right!  Oh well!  I wasn't about to rip everything off and sew it the "correct" way.  And you know what - to this day, I have never had a person stop me on the street and say "Hey, did you know your jacket buttons are on the wrong side?".

You can see here where the wrong side of the fabric would show.  My fabric was the same on both sides so it wasn't an issue for me.

Here's a view of the very angled side vents.  The top of the vent hits me just at the waistline.

A closer shot of the "Bias Buttons" down the front.

Close up of an individual "Bias Button".

For this jacket, I had enough material left over to make a matching hanger cover as well.  I try to make these for all of my garments to help keep dust off of them in the closet.

Soooo, just how do you make those bias buttons?  I'm glad you asked!  The instructions are below. 

Please excuse the different material used for the example.  I made this jacket so long ago, that I no longer have the scraps so I substituted a similar weight material.  My original material was a thick cotton - similar to a home dec weight.  If you want to use a quilting weight cotton, I suggest that you iron interfacing to the back to give it a little more thickness before cutting out the bias strips.  (And excuse my stained ironing board cover as well please!)

First, cut your fabric into 1 inch bias strips.  For this example, I'm using a short piece of bias.  The finished buttons on the jacket were made from about a one yard long piece of bias.

Using a 1/2 bias tape maker, run your material thru the bias tape maker pressing as you go.

Here's the wrong side of the finished bias tape.

And here's the right side of the finished bias tape.

Cut the end of the bias tape so it's straight.

Start by tightly rolling the end and sewing as you roll.  Sew thru all thicknesses from one end of the roll to the other.

Here's another view.  Just keep rolling and sewing, rolling and sewing.  Occasionally try to sew straight thru as many layers as you can (across the diameter of the circle).  This will help the circle keep it's shape and not turn into a cone as it gets bigger.

More rolling and sewing, rolling and sewing, until you arrive at a size you like.  Once there, turn under the end of the bias tape and sew down.  The total width of my finished buttons are 2 1/4 inches.   To sew the finished button onto the jacket - just sew the outside edges of the finished button directly onto the jacket. These will not be used as conventional buttons so you don't need to make buttonholes.  Instead, you will sew snaps underneath them and on the other jacket front piece to hold the jacket closed.

I hope you enjoy this technique and use it on some of your own garments in the future.

Happy Sewing!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Santa Tie Vest

You know it must be the holidays when my Santa Tie Vest comes out of hiding. 

I made this vest a few years ago based on a picture I saw in a Burda magazine - sorry, I can't remember which issue.  The Burda vest was an everyday vest made from striped and polka dot ties.  As soon as I saw that, I knew I had to make a Christmas vest from Santa ties.  I've been collecting holiday ties for a few years and have accumulated quite a few.  Below is a tutorial on how to make your own holiday vest. 

Front View

Side View
Side View

Holiday Vest Tutorial

Supplies needed:

- 8 to 12 ties.  I like to include only 2 or 3 "themed" ties and the rest complimentary (either stripes, polka dots or a neutral pattern).  Be sure to remove the labels on the backs of the ties.
- A vest back piece from either an old vest found at the thrift store, or a vest back pattern piece from a pattern you already have.  Use a vest back that includes a tie if possible.  This helps with the fitting. If your vest back doesn't have a tie, you could make one from the skinny ends of the Holiday ties as well!
- A dress form set-up to your measurements
- Basic sewing supplies - needle, thread, pins, sewing machine

First, start with a bunch a ties.  Pick out 2 to 3 "themed" ties.  I choose to make a Snowman vest for the first part of this example. 

Next, using a dress form adjusted to your measurements, pin the ties at the shoulder seam, letting them drape down the front.  Try various ties in different arrangements to see which ones you like best.  Be sure to use both the skinny and fat ends of the ties and to vary the lengths in the front.  Use enough ties to cover the front of the dress form leaving enough room to account for the two small "waistband ties" - approximately 1 inch to 1 1/2 inch gap.  Be sure you have enough width to match at the side seams as well.  Scroll a little further down if these sounds confusing.

To obtain the width of the shoulder seam - measure the width of shoulder seam on your recycled vest back or the pattern back you will be using and adjust your ties to that width.  Mine was 3 3/8". 

Pin all of the ties together.  Compare the widths of both fronts to make sure they are approximately the same.  If they are not the same, either add another tie to make them even, or adjust your existing ties. 

Next, cut off the remaining tie lengths in the back at the shoulder - be sure to leave about a 1" seam allowance.

Here's the ties cut off with the 1" seam allowance at the shoulder seam.

Next, topstitch the ties together using a complimentary thread.  Below is the red Snowman tie topstitched to the blue tie.

Once all of your ties have been sewn together, whipstitch the edges together on the inside.  Here's an example of why you should remove the labels before you sew everything together. I just looks a bit messy sewing over the labels.  You may skip the whipstitching portion if you like, just bear in mind that the inside will not be as smooth and the inside edges of the ties may catch on your blouse underneath. 

Whipstitch edges together on the inside of the vest

Next, sew the shoulder seams together however you prefer.  I choose to sandwich the two layers together and completely enclose the ties. 
Now you need to try on the vest.  Cut two skinny ties approximately 12 - 15 inches long for the front and pin in place along the waistline.  Pin the sides together and test the fit.  You will notice that the fronts angle towards the back on the sides and that's ok.  Also, for mine I opted not to include bust darts -  I have a little bit of gaping, but it's no big deal - it's a holiday vest!  You could easily add bust darts at this point if needed.  Simply pinch in a dart on the ties and sew.  You will need to readjust the sides if you add darts.  Topstitch the fronts to the vest back.
Side of vest after topstitching together
Inside view of the side seams.  I finished the edges of the vest back on the serger

View of vest back

Sew one skinny tie to each vest front along the waistline and voila!  You are done!

Front View

 Happy Sewing and Merry Christmas!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Butterick 5889

This blouse started out as a "Brown Bag Challenge" from my local sewing guild chapter.  What's a Brown Bag Challenge you ask? Well, I'll tell you! 

At one of our monthly meetings, there were a bunch of brown bags in the middle of the table - each sealed so you can't see the contents.  Each member selects a bag and the goal is to make something (anything!) from the treasure you found in the bag.  We did have some trading going on this year and I ended up with this fabric.  You had two months to work on your project and then it was show time!

My brown bag fabric, pattern and matching linen

I did drag my feet a bit with this challenge.  The main reason was because I couldn't decide on the pattern.  I knew I wanted a blouse out of the fabric and I already had the red linen in my stash that matched perfectly for a skirt. So after about a month of putting it off, I finally decided Butterick 5889 would be the lucky winner.

Needless to say, I didn't like mine at all!
After sewing the whole thing together, I hate it!  This had to be one of the worst patterns ever!  I cut out a size extra small and it was huge!!!  And I mean huge!  I had to take in the center front 4 inches each side (for a total of eight inches) just in the front.  If I didn't the neckline would have hit somewhere near my bra band in the front.  I know it's meant to be oversized, but this is ridiculous!  I can still pinch in way more than 5 inches each side. 

Also, I lengthened the whole blouse by 4 inches. Thank goodness I did that, or it would have been way, way to short. 

I decided to cut the facings out of the linen skirt fabric and turn them to the front to add a little interest.  In turning them, I wanted a bit of the sheer fabric to show so it would look like mini piping along the edge - I think that turned out ok.  Also, I like the green buttons on the red linen down the front.  Hang on, did I just say I liked something about this top?

This view doesn't look so bad, but I still don't like it
After making the sleeve placket and sewing on the bands, they were too tight to close!  I almost gave up at this point.  I contemplated cutting the sleeves just above the plackets and doing something else, but I decided after all that work of sewing them on, I wasn't about to cut them off!  Instead, I decided to sew the two ends of the bands together by hand and embellish with some more of those green buttons!  Now, it's a design feature!

Rescued the sleeve bands!
What I couldn't understand is when I wore this to work (on the show and tell day for our meeting), everyone loved it!  I even had one person even say it's the best thing they have ever seen that I've made.  After I told them I didn't like it and probably wouldn't wear it again, they couldn't understand why I didn't like it.  Of course I explained why and everything that is wrong with it, but they didn't care - they thought it looked great. 

And as the day went on, more and more compliments were coming my way. I was starting to feel a bit ill!  What were they thinking! I just can't understand what everyone likes about it.  Honestly, this blouse has been worn once and is now in the Charity Shop pile. 

Another view - not any better in this view

Then, that evening, it was time for show and tell at the meeting.  And again, everyone loved it!  I must be going crazy!  I told of the horrible pattern, the fitting issues, the compliments I received at work, etc., and people still liked it.  I just don't get it!  Me and this blouse were never meant to be.  

Am I trying to do a backbend or something in this pic?

Until next time,
Happy Sewing!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Decades of Style - Siren Sundress

This is the 1948 Siren Sundress by the Decades of Style independent pattern company.  I made this from a wonderful linen that I picked up awhile ago (can't remember where!), but I love the color.  The dress has a mock wrap front with long ties that you can wear two different ways in the back, and then wrap around to the front and around to the back again for a bow - they are very long ties!  When selecting your fabric, be aware that the wrong side of the fabric will show on the ties. 

Front view
The back of the dress wraps around and is held together with a hook and eye.  There is a waist stay made with grograin ribbon that is very functional.  It was a windy day when I took these pictures so you can see below how the back flap can fly open unexpectedly!

Back view with flap flying open
Another view of the back - without the flap flying open!  The ties seem to work better for me if they are twisted at the center back rather than just lapping over each other. I've tried it both ways, but this way feels more secure.

Another back view

I had some major issues with this pattern.  I made a muslin first to check for fit and it was terrible!  I ended up completely repositioning the front and back panels - the sides I raised about an inch and then tapered to the original center front.  I added bust cups and ended up sewing the front panels together to stop them gapping open. 
Side front
Will I make this pattern again - not sure.  Maybe if I find the right material again, but it's not high on my list at the moment.

Happy Sewing!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Chantilly Dress

This is the Chantilly Dress by Colette Patterns. 

Front View
The main fabric of the dress is a polyester lining fabric that I picked up at a garage sale.  The yoke and midriff pieces are a matching cotton with brown piping that I made as well.

Back View
 I thought adding piping to the yoke pieces would make the pieces pop and I think it does just that.

Close up of front panels with piping
I made a muslin first of just the top pieces and needed to take out about 2 inches of gathering in the front.  Being not very well endowed myself, there was just way too much fabric in the front for me. 

Closer close-up view!

The pattern has an invisible zipper on the side. You can see the tab of the zipper at the top of side seam here.

Another view

Another side/back view
The dress also has side in-seam pockets.  Since I was running out of fabric, I only had enough to put in one pocket instead of two.  You can see my lining fabric just peeking out in this picture.  Lining fabric is some cheap polyester that I already had in my stash. 

View of pocket
Happy Sewing!