Friday, April 3, 2015

Linton Wool, Chanel Style


I wanted to have another Chanel style jacket, after the success of my first one, and I bought this black wool at Linton. But then I changed my mind and decided to use it for my mother in law, Teresa. She deserves it!
I followed a mix of advice from Shaeffer and Kalhje: silk organza as interfacing, silk lining, some fusible interlining for buttonholes. 
First of all, I decided to use Claire Shaeffer's pattern for Vogue. I have her book on jacket construction, and I did not feel like drawing the pattern myself. Ignorant me thought a commercial pattern would be better. WRONG. In the first place, the sizes are too big, so I directly made a size down than Teresa's measures indicated (Ralph Rucci's coat experience).
 After the muslin fitting and adjustments done, I still don't like the sleeve heads, the side panel is ridiculously small, sleeves are very short and I hate the buttons placement in the front and the sleeves. It was 25 euros for nothing. 

Well, after the first mistake (acknowledged), I went on to cut the organza pieces using the slightly modified muslin pieces. And then I used the organza pieces to cut the fabric pieces themselves. I learnt this method in Susan Kahlje's course in Crafsy. It consists of machine sewing the interlining organza to the fabric, aiming to mark it and to prevent it from shape shifting. I used a pale colour organza to make it easy on my eyes.
When I had all the pieces attached to their interlining, I started to baste the pieces together for the first (real fabric) fitting, which proved the sleeves where too short and poorly shaped at the back. I tried to repair that by moving them inwards in their back part. I also made a modification for a curved back that consisted on a dart in the center of the neck (interlining), eased with the iron in the fabric.

After assembling the sleeves, with opening and buttonholes, I applied the silk lining and finished it completely, sewing it by hand all around the bottom of the sleeve and the last remaining seam.

In this last picture we can also see how I quilted the sleeves to the lining, as characteristical in Chanel jackets. Then I basted the sleeves to the jacket and made all the modifications fitting the jacket to the model. I finally sew the sleeves permanently by hand back stitching them. 
The next step was basting all the hem, which goes around the neck, front and bottom of the jacket. 

Once basted, I proceeded to hand sew it with a feltstitch. I also secured the seam allowances open here and there, to prevent them from messing up.
All this with a good pressing every now and then.

In this pic we can see the use of shoulder pads, and sleeve heads (as explained in this Thread's video). I do not see any dramatic improvement with the last.

I decided to make the buttonholes by machine. In the lining, I made coat buttonholes calculating precisely where they went.
Finally I machine sewed all the lining pieces, and pinned them to the jacket as it stood in the mannequin wrong side up. I made a major change here regarding Shaeffer's method (and classic Chanel): I did not quilt the lining to the fabric. I thought the stitching wouldn't look nice in the black wool fabric, and I also dreaded the days and days of delicate hand sewing that this method requires. So, I made a feltsitch to secure it to the jacket, removed all the bastings and...  voliá!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Liberty Wool Dress

Hello! This is a really good work I am so proud of! I receive compliments every time I wear it. The fabric is a cheap poly blend I found in a remnant shop, but I must say I elevated it to heaven with this pattern. Now I am only left wishing for a better wool to remake it.My first idea was to make some kind of CocoDress replica, but in a moment of illumination I thought it would be a good chance to try a cut at the waist and circle skirt. The fabric had a great drape and fall, and it was quite thin.So first, I looked into my pattern stash for a bodice. I made a dress pattern last winter which could be perfect. It is the Close Fitting Bodice Block pattern in page 164 of Aldrich's book. I only had to cut it at the waist (which I had properly marked at the pattern). I thought the fabric, since it was a little transparent at the light, would need a lining, which would also serve the purpose of a muslin. I had some black elasticated jersey (another cheap poly blend, but the dress wool was not wonderful neither), in which I cut the bodice and a full circle skirt (instructions are also in Alddrich's, page 86). At the first fitting, I saw the full skirt was too much. It was so full it produced folds falling from my poor waist that had a widening effect. But apart from that it looked OK and it fitted me. I only had to modify the front armsythe a couple of cm off and enter a couple of cm off the waist too. Easy easy even for my poor fitting skills.

I proceeded to cut the dress wool, but I decided a half circular skirt would be enough. At the first fitting I saw the result would be stunning. I looked feminine, gracious, and it fitted me like a glove. The half circular skirt was perfect. I only had to take 2 cm off the back bodice length (and consequently off the skirt bottom hem. I also realised the bodice did not need a lining. It was faintly transparent, but in an attractive way. So I cut the lining skirt off, and change it into a half circular.I machine stitched all the dress (previously basted for fitting) with a very narrow zigzag (to allow some give at the seams). I cut the seam allowances at 0.5cm and machine zigzagged it, imitating an overlock work. I attached the skirt lining to the waist seam allowance, and finished the neck, sleeves and bottom hem with a hidden slipstitch.Finally, I made some tabs for a small leather belt, and tadaaaa...

Finally, I modified the paper bodice pattern for safe keeping. This is a definite keeper!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Print Dress Cut at the Waist

I bought this beautiful/ugly/weird print fabric as a remnant last winter, and finally I found a good reason to make it: one has never dresses enough! The fabric is beautiful, an expensive designer fabric with a wonderful coloured print that I suspect is some poly blend. I am growing to hate artificial plastic fabrics, but maybe I had a bad day last winter... or maybe it was the cheap price of the remnant, I can't remember...I was also inspired by the idea of a "flowery" dress cut at the waist with a gathered skirt, so feminine and becoming to the figure. So I decided to review all my Burda magazines to look for a suitable pattern. I love Burda magazines because for 5 euros you have a bunch of different patterns in different sizes. The individual pattern system you girls get from the states or the UK are VERY expensive in my view. I've only bought 4 or 5 of them, specially vintage patterns or very special ones. How I regret throwing away my mum's Burda magazine collection (thinking they were old fashioned) is beyond words, by the way.
Well, I found a pattern which, with some modifications, could be what I imagined for my fabric.
The main changes were three:

  • Adding a hidden waist band to keep the dress in its place.
  • Enlarging the bodice 4cm to get to my waist (the pattern has a high waist).
  • I changed the bust darts, and made them regular bust darts from waist to bust point. I did this with the help of my dressmaker, placing the darts at the same point of the skirt darts.
After so many modifications, and a result that is just OK but not wonderful, makes that pattern not really a keeper. Next time, I will test another pattern or make my own, for a dress cut at the waist. But meanwhile, I have yet another dress for next spring.

Here I am wearing it with my new Pedro Miralles low boots and a leather belt.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Wrap Linton Tartan Miniskirt

This is a wonderful outcome of the Françoise Dress I made a couple of months ago. I bought this fabric at Linton, and after cutting the dress I had some left, so I decided I had to make a preppy wrap miniskirt, which I've always adored. The fabric just asked for it! I also had some Hong Kong black silk habotai, left from the dress lining, so it was a perfect leftovers project. 

For this skirt I used my long skirt flared skirt pattern, which is perfect and it has had so many different versions and uses. I love it because it has no darts, and just the perfect flare. For the wrap fronts, I cut two three quarters (+4cm) fronts.

I put my muslin pattern pieces on the wool trying to match the tartan at the side seams. I staystiched the three patterns, and zigzagged all the selvages, since this fabric unravels like crazy. 

I machine stitched the two lateral seams and I did the same with the silk for  the lining. After ironing both, I attached the silk tot the wool, and sewed it together all around except for the bottom seam. Then, I turned it over, and topstitched all around it. I ironed it again, both fabrics together, and started to baste the quilting lines on the three pieces. This Linton fabric typically sags, and it has to be machine quilted as a Chanel jacket would.

Finally, I made the bottom seam. First, I basted it. I hand sewed it (this fabric conceals any stitches you can make, it's wonderful!), and finally I hand sewed with a slipstitch the silk at the bottom, covering the seam ending and protecting it from unraveling. Since the silk was quilted to the wool, it was really easy and fast to sew it at the bottom. 

The result is stunning, I really love it. I've always loved preppy tartan wrap miniskirts, and this is not the first one I make, but the fabric and the tricks I've learnt and used, make this my best go at it.

Here I just on my way to work at the school. I am wearing it with a black cotton bodyshaper, a cachemir jacket, dark stockings and my wonderful Timberland boots.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Flower Power

This is another very simple and quick to do design, but still a wonderful piece of clothing. I got this flowery jersey in a remnant shop we have in our town, where you can buy industry leftovers by weight. It cost me 3 or 4 euros, the fabric.
I used my own skirt pattern, which is proving to be priceless, and very versatile. I simply cut it sorter, and gave 10 cm more of bell shape to each side. I cut it on bias. Like with the previous jersey pieces, I zigzagged the seam allowances, put an elastic band inside the waist, and sew the hem by machine sewing it.
Today I wore it at my school, and it felt just perfect, comfortable, simple, and yet, beautiful.

This was my inspiration. I can't wait for the weather to allow me to wear it with my denim jacket! This is gathered at the waist, but I thought I could do without more volume in my waist ;-)

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Jersey Basics

After the last complicated and long projects, I decided to get back to basics, and sew myself some jersey pieces, two bodyshapers and some leggings. I am quite satisfied with the outcome.
I use the bodyshapers a lot in winter, under pullovers or dresses, and leggins are a basic in my wardrobe. 
Both are my patterns, from Aldrich's book, but I've had to make some adjustments (too much ease).
With this kind of pieces, I use the simple method of pinning the paper patterns to the fabric and cutting around them leaving only 1 cm seam allowance every where. No need to mark the fabric or baste it previously, only hold it in place with pins before...
...I machine stitched all the seams with a very narrow zigzag to allow them to give, since they are stretch jerseys (cotton/lycra). Then, I cut the seam allowances to 0.5cm, and zigzagged them, getting something similar to the overlock finish. I do not have a serger yet, so this is quite a good substitute.

This jersey skirt, also cotton/lycra, is for comfort at home. I simply used the ruboff method of putting my old but perfect skirt over the folded fabric and cutting around it, leaving 1 cm for seam allowance. I also made a pocket in front, put an ellasticated band into the waistband, made a machine-stitched hem, and started to enjoy it in fron of the fireplace!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Reversible V1419 Ralph Rucci for Vogue Coat

This has been a long laborious project with a happy ending.

The story started with the Sewalong proposed by Meg, at the McCall Pattern Company and Lladybird in September.

The pattern was beautiful and appropriate for my double-sided wool I had bough in Lleida last winter, because it has raglan sleeves and the seams are easy enough for the double sided technique, explained to me by the seamstress who sold me the fabric, Herminia.
So, I bought the pattern. I don't like the "seams included" method (and sewing with pins only), at all, so first I had to draw the real pattern subtracting 1.5 cm all around. Fortunately, the pattern included wonderful indications at critical spots, so I had no problems doing this. I transferred the pattern to the muslin, which proved too big for me in the first fitting trial.

 I thank the sewalongers and hosts who helped me see that the problem was simply one size too big. They were totally right, but I could no see it on my own (I am not too good at fitting solutions).

 So, the second muslin proved to be just perfect for me. I proceeded to put the pattern pieces over the wool, pinning them down and cutting the wool.

Next step is tailor tucks all around the coat pieces. That was easy and fast compared to the arduous work of splitting the two sides open around all the pieces, for 2 cm. The two sides are tied together by small threads that one has to cut little by little. 

It took me ages! I had to be careful not to remove the loose stitches, but no problem there.
Then, I started with the basting, which I consider indispensable before machine sewing anything. 

In this picture we can only see the staystitching I did (previously to basting the pieces together), following the instructions in the pattern. With this double-sided wool, one cannot use any foundation, so any holding the structure technique was welcome. 

I decided to sew the clear grey side. Then, remove the basting thread and iron the seams open, until I assembled the whole thing.

After that, I cut the seam allowance of the darker wool side to 1 cm and basted all before I started to hand sew it close with and invisible stitch.

I enjoyed this part so much, because the fabric was wonderful to the touch, and I could dominate it so sweetly, closing all the seams and making them disappear. 
I also hand sewed the coat and sleeves hem, removing the basting thread as I was sewing.

I was thinking over the buttons and buttonholes possibilities for weeks. I made several trials, and finally decided to use metallic claps, which are invisible outside the coat. In the clear grey side, I sewed some flat metallic buttons and left the dark side with nothing visible at the centre. It works perfectly right for me. the buttonholes proposed in the sewalong are gorgeous, but they only have one good side, so they were not an option for me.
I am totally happy with my two new coats in one. The fabric is really pricey and I've worked many hours, but the result is stunning, comfortable and outstanding.
What do you think??

I thank Lauren and Meg for their help and guidance, and my colleague sewers for their opinions, advice and inspiration. It was a wonderful experience, and it is a wonderful pattern.

Watch the rest of the sewalongers coats, they are gorgeous!