45-Minute Turtleneck

After last week’s post of the complicated moto jacket I decided to give myself some instant gratification. Turtlenecks are inexpensive to buy as long as you want black! A muted teal green or the perfect taupe is almost impossible to find. I used to have a purchased funnel neck turtleneck (in black of course) that I loved, but it faded and I tossed it into the Goodwill pile.45mintneck_2webThe Debra Zebra Top by Style ARC is a simple three-piece pattern that sews up in 45-minutes! If you add cutting the three pieces then maybe an hour from start to finish. I did have to make alterations before it became the 45-minute wonder. One must purchase a Style Arc pattern in a single size. I choose a 12 and my first try fit perfectly…too perfectly. Every lump, bump and bra strap showed! The shoulders, sleeves and armhole fit well, but the neck was even too tight. I have very little experience with pattern alterations, but it seemed to me that a pivot from the shoulder would open up the pattern to the bust area and then another pivot would keep that open line straight down. It looks like a FBA but flatter and no dart in the end. It worked! The neck was a simple addition to the seams.45mintneckpattern_web

I proceeded to make two more tops in about 2-1/2 hours, including changing thread etc.45mintneck-back

The seams are serged with very little pinning. The hems are finished with a double needle in my sewing machine. I can do a cover stitch with my serger, but not in 45 minutes! The other advantage of a double needle is the wider choice of thread colors for the hem. BTW, do you know that double needles come in a stretch needle? I didn’t until my Amazon account suggested them.45mintneck_1web

Vroom! Vroom!

I’m not only back, but have just finished a project that I have been working on all summer! With a season filled with friends and trips, I can’t complain about how long this moto jacket took, but it sure seemed like a lot of hours were spent on it. Moto-Jacket

When planning my fall travel wardrobe, the Islander Sewing Systems MotorCity Express jacket seemed perfect for Travel. It came to my attention on a class at Craftsy featuring (and including) the pattern. The hybrid plastic-coated, quilted knit came from Marcy Tilton.com a while back and is perfect for making a raincoat or jacket. Street photographers give the impression that Paris is teeming with moto jackets. It’s also wet there so a lightweight rain jacket will come in handy and be stylish. I own a leather version and it weighs too much to bring on a trip.

So that’s the history, but making the jacket took me forever! First I cut everything out and this pattern has a lot of pieces! There are 26 separate pattern pieces, in 5 different materials including the main and contrast fabrics plus lining, interlining and facing/pocket fabrics. I had piles of fabric everywhere! In addition you had to custom size the zippers, which was no small feat.

I need to add a comment about the Craftsy class. After finishing the zipper section I noticed a comment on the right of the video that said, “WAIT!” There were mistakes in the video! Seriously Craftsy? I’m supposed to notice that note before watching the video? Janet Pray’s note went on “If you have already cut your zipper, go back and re-measure and re-cut.” I ordered these zippers on-line! Luckily, mine were correct since I was also following the included written instructions, but this could have been a nightmare! Craftsy when you find a mistake like this you should re-film the class, or at the very least put the warning in the video.The class was helpful, but I don’t like the class’s order of construction, which is supposedly designed to save time. There are too many steps when you move from piece to piece instead of finishing what you have in your hand. For example I would have prefer to make my entire lining including sleeves, and then my entire fashion fabric including sleeves. Janet Pray’s method had you wait until the end to sew the last sleeve seam (there were 2) and set-on all four sleeves at once. This just left me with nothing completed until close to the end. I like to finish a full portion of the project and put it aside to work on the next portion. I suppose her method would be fine if I had constructed this jacket in days instead of weeks. Every time I picked it up again I needed to figure out where I was in the process.moto-jacket_2

With all that criticism I must say I love this jacket! It fits well and the zippers look great. I did not put the chest pockets on since I don’t need to draw attention to that area of my body with shiny zippers! However, that is the only modification I made which is pretty amazing. I plan on this jacket being able to handle a sweater underneath so the size (medium) is the perfect roomy but still figure flattering silhouette.Moto-Jacket_1

Katherine Tilton Tunic

Mustard-Tunic-FrontThis top ended up a bit warmer than I had anticipated, but it will be welcome on a cooler summer day or evening. My BSF and I decided to try Katherine Tilton’s Butterick 6136 because we both like princess seam lines for flattery and fit. The decorative topstitch lines on the pattern are also a terrific idea for adding extra detail to a plain tunic.Mustard-Tunic-L-Side

We made quite a number of modifications to the pattern. The biggest was a change to the armscye and sleeve, since it was too generous for our taste. We used one of our TNT’s Vogue 8952 (view B) thereby producing a closer fit. We’re both getting more comfortable with changing patterns in this way to get exactly what we envision.mustard-Tunic-Back

I took Katherine Tilton’s simple yet brilliant idea of decorative topstitching, but didn’t follow her exact pattern. A thin ribbon attached with a zigzag stitch created a bolder line, but the top still seemed plain. It sat on Roxie for several days without the side seams, since I knew there was something I wanted to do. Finally I took a scrap of the patterned knit and draped it down the front between the two topstitch lines. Big improvement, and easy to do!Mustard-Tunic-detail

Finshing the top included a wedge-shaped collar that used previously on this Marcy Tilton dress. This time I tucked the short end under the long to give a little lift. This is such an easy collar finish.

That leads me to a question. I’m taking more time sewing these days in order to concentrate on details like the collar, and this is leading to fewer posts. Would my readers like some photos of work in progress, exposing more mishaps, fixes and other details? Let me know if you just want to see the finished product or more process.

Travel Maxi-Skirt

This is part of my fall coordinated travel wardrobe I started in this blog, about fabric and pattern planning. The series then continued with this coat. Now, I’m adding this maxi-skirt to the mix. Paisly-Maxi-Skirt_1

There’s not a lot to say about a maxi like this. You don’t need a pattern, and since it has an elastic waist you don’t need to deal too much with fit. The elastic waist is perfect for travel especially to places with delicious food! The top part of the skirt measures to the hip dimension with just enough added ease for comfort. This way there is less fabric gathered at the waist to bunch up under a top worn outside. I try to not bring a belt on vacation since it just adds more stuff to the suitcase, so in this case I will be making some tops that cover the waist.

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In addition, I don’t need to remember to pack a slip since there is a lining. Yes, the lining is all wrinkled up! I like to twist fabric like this as it dries like the old broomstick skirts. Starting with wrinkles works well for travel! I can’t wait to make a few travel tops, but next week I’ll be showing a wonderful new vest pattern by Diane Ericson.

Diane Ericson’s Ashland Vest

Ashland-Vest_1It’s always a treat to make a pattern designed by Diane Ericson, and the new Ashland Vest is no exception. Her patterns are just more than a typical pattern. More creativity, more ways of sewing up the project, and more detailed options to use on this pattern or others. Each pattern is a lesson in sewing and finding one’s own voice, and not just copying Diane’s work. She encourages fearless creativity, and with those thoughts in mind my BSF and I opened up the pattern last week.

After taking a good look at the pattern and dimensions we decided to make a medium, and I think that was the right choice for us. Another might want a roomier feel and make a large. We also chose to use the front piece with a dart. Thanks to Diane for providing this option! I went to my stash and found two wonderful woven Japanese cottons and then a lovely brick-red striped linen for the lining. The Japanese cottons are different but beautiful on both sides, so that made 4 coordinating fabrics! In addition I turned them 90° to emphasize the differences.Ashland-Vest_4

BTW, the cottons are a dark brown and the linen has a black stripe. They look great together! There’s no need to get out a magnifying glass to match colors.

The pocket is exactly from the pattern, and there are no alterations except in the lapel. One pattern option is a wavy edge fold-over lapel exposing the lining. When finished, my stripe produced an optical illusion and the wavy edge just looked crooked rather than wavy. I had trimmed, clipped and pressed, and eventually decided for more wave. The shoulders were now finished so I couldn’t easily go back in to sew stronger curves at the seam. I was almost out of the linen (a bias strip would have worked well), and no other fabric looked good. Ashland-Vest-DetailPlan B, I made several matching strips from the leftover linen (there are seams to make it long enough). Then I serged a rolled hem on each side and slightly gathered the strips.  I placed the desired curves on the lapel and stitched it down to the edge. Great…a tailored vest with a ruffled edge. Didn’t work for me. I then just stitched down the loose edge so there is more structure. I like it, and in fact now think the bit of pucker adds a strong edge to the lapel.Ashland-Vest

Lime Tunic – Marcy Tilton Vogue 9112

This dress (in this case, tunic) by Marcy Tilton is brilliant! First of all it looks great on and second, and equally important, it feels great on.  I’ve also worn it with a Sleevy Wonder when it was a little cooler out. A T-shirt could also be used to easily add sleeves, especially if it’s made from a slippery knit. Even though this pattern takes time with all the different pattern pieces to cut and sew, I’m already thinking of making a second version. Maybe I’ll try adding a sleeve next time, or I’ll make one of Marcy’s little cardigans that have been on my sewing project list for a while. It’s so cold in air conditioning and so hot outside this time of year!

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Mixing the pattern pieces of both linen and knit gives the tunic the comfort and ease that I desire in my casual clothes. Both of these matching fabrics right in my stash waiting to notice that they match! There really is nothing as joyful as a well stocked stash, and mine is looking good these days.

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The tunic is 4″ shorter than the dress pattern in order to look proportionate with leggings. Since the bottom band would almost disappear with the shorter length I altered it to attach higher up on the back. I hand top stitched the pieces where the seams press toward the linen, and stopped when the seams pressed toward the knit, hoping to achieve an interesting balance of lines.

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The only other minor alteration is a doubled collar which allows for the neck to sit up a little stiffer. While this linen is the same on both sides, the double collar also fixes the problem of a fabric with an unattractive wrong side.

Pockets, interesting details…what’s not to love?

Unintentional Capsule Wardrobe

Last week I went to Elfriede’s Fine Fabrics in Boulder and had an unintentional fabric buying extravaganza! My patient husband just sat at a table and worked on his iPad, while the bolts were stacking up for cutting. If you have never been to Elfriede’s you are missing out on one of the great independent fabric stores that are too few already. She specializes in high-end natural fibers like liberty cottons, luscious silks, gorgeous wools, camel hair, cashmere, high quality knits and a small but wonderful selection of quilting cottons.

Next fall I need a raincoat for my trip to Paris. Colorado is rainy this spring so making the coat now makes sense. I had already picked out a vintage pattern that was reversible so I could have a raincoat on one side and wool on the other. A Marie Osmond pattern…I have no shame when it comes to getting the look I want!

Butterick6269frontThe helpful saleswomen convinced me that a tightly woven wool would do the trick rather than an actual raincoat fabric. I know I can waterproof the fabric if need be. The only problem is that Elfriede’s Fabrics had too many gorgeous wools to pick from. After narrowing it down to about 10 bolts(!), I told them I couldn’t decide and just wanted to browse around the store to clear my head. That’s when I found this rayon paisley fabric that was perfect for me. My colors: orange, brown, olive & black plus a few interesting accent tones like mustard and a grayish teal blue sealed the deal. It was instant love! I plan on making a maxi skirt (with a lovely blue lining) and will use the scraps to make a scarf.

Paisly-RayonI took the bolt over to the wools and the answer appeared. Two of the wools, a rusty orange and an olive green stood out instantly. OK baby, I was on a roll! (There is a twist to the coat at the end of this adventure.)

Coat-woolWithout intention, a capsule wardrobe was developing on the cutting table. I asked about bottom weight knits for some pants. Again, they pulled some out and it was easy to choose. I’m not sure if your computer is showing the colors correctly but these two stable bottom weight knits look great in the ensemble. The grey has a blue cast that looks wonderful with the print above.

Bottom-weight_webAll of us are having fun at this point and the saleswomen start pulling out more things for me to choose from. I picked this silk charmeuse for a blouse. At their suggestion, I’m going to sew it with the matte side out so it’s a little less dressy.

geometric-silkAt this point another employee, Melissa, stopped in and I discovered she had made a shirt I admired in the window. It was a pattern that I owned, but had never noticed the shirt.

2495178378_b5a1d5cfec_zWhy stop now?, I thought as I spied one last spectacular fabric. An olive-green embroidered silk. Not an everyday fabric, or could it be if made into a vest with casual details?

Embroidered-silk 2I have a pattern like that at home! I mean this is basically khaki green isn’t it? An embroidered safari style vest would be very wearable, but have a little pizzazz in this fabric. I’ll figure out a better solution for those stringy things.

Kwick Sew 3930The coat twist story: I couldn’t figure out what size to make the coat. My measurements said a size 16 and that just didn’t seem right. I decided to take a wool in my stash to make a wearable muslin. I can always make it shorter than the intended raincoat. This fabric also came from Elfriede’s but I also saw it a week later on Marcy Tilton’s site. Elfriede and Marcy both love quality fabrics!

squiggel-wool_webThe muslin (size 12) is going so well that I looked in my stash for the reverse side and found this gorgeous silk plaid that I was saving for a shirt. Yummy!

Squiggle-Plaid-coat-fabric_webThe problem is, do I even need the originally planned coat? Time will tell, but as a summary, I’m including two mood boards I made on Adobe illustrator with the above fabrics, the two coat options, and some additional textiles from my stash. A large portion of these items will go to Paris with me. I’m way ahead of my fall planning, but after all it is my favorite season.

Paris-Mood-BoardNotes: The zebraesque striped cashmere/wool is yummy soft and came from EmmaOneSock.com. A poncho or ruana is always a practical addition to my fall wardrobe.  The hip black plastic coated knit (no longer available) is from MarcyTilton.com and should make a great motorcycle jacket.   The pant pattern is Marcy Tilton’s slim pant Vogue 8859.

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Statuesque Dress

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I’m back! I’ve been sewing whenever I can, but I’ve had no time to blog. Love, love, love this dress. I found the fabric on Marcy Tilton’s site and ordered two repeats immediately! Good thing since it was gone the next time I looked.

It’s a digital print on the softest piece of medium-light weight french terry. Seriously, french terry…I could wear this dress to the beach and then a dinner party and not skip a beat. Yes it shows my dreaded arms, but my BSF has convinced me that it gets too hot to always cover up. I might make a little cover up jacket for cool evenings with Marcy’s Vogue 9081 pattern, but I hate to cover up the statue that is peeking out on my left shoulder. Statuesque-Dress-Frontclose

The pattern is self drafted from a knit dress I own, and then I modified it to have cap sleeves to protect my pale shoulders. The other modification is the asymmetrical neckline that helps emphasize Venus on my shoulder.

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Venus ended up on my left shoulder on the back too!

Cool Summer Shirt

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I love this new pattern by Marcy Tilton! Vogue 9089, a tunic length shirt, is a fairly quick sew and feels fantastic on. My BSF and I got together and both made a version. Her shirt is out of heavier weight cotton, and she is wearing it often and getting tons of compliments! I made mine out of a cotton lawn so it’s a little early in the season. I did wear it yesterday when our temps hit the high seventies. I took these photos for the blog, and it was so comfortable that I just kept it on for the afternoon.

The only fitting change made was the addition of a FBA. A dart just helps the fit on my body type. In addition I made two minor design changes. I made the sleeve ¾ length, and then I made a crazy change! I like my obvious asymmetrical elements, so I re-drafted the top of the center back panel to land a couple of inches further off-center where it meets the collar. Marcy-V9089-Shirt_3Marcy-V9089-Shirt_2Since I’m new to pattern drafting this probably took me over an hour to figure out and get right. Was it worth it? I like the result, but it was a little picky, and I’m not sure anyone but Marcy Tilton herself would notice. In order to show off my little change the seam is hand stitched.Marcy-V9089-detail

Am I making this again? Definitely!

Summer Clothes are Here!

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My BSF Debra has been pushing me (I needed the push) to start on summer clothes. There are several patterns we have wanted to try, so we pulled them out and chose Butterick 5891 by the uber talented Katherine Tilton.

Side Note: My BSF and I are going on a tour of Paris in the fall with Katherine and Marcy Tilton! We’re so excited!!!!

Both of us agree that this is NOT an easy pattern (as stated on the pattern envelope). A typical shirt would have from 4 to 8 pattern pieces and this pattern has 15! Then there are some funky folds and an unusual collar finish. Top that off with 3 different fabrics and this baby took several days to finish.Katherine-top_3

It seemed early in the season to make a sleeveless shirt, but I solved that by making the arm opening a little larger so I could wear this as a vest or shirt.

I made a muslin and added a dart for my very first time! The dart came out fine, but will be better next time. I need to perfect this skill so woven tops fit correctly. The size I choose was to big on me (despite the muslin). This pattern doesn’t have full length side seams to adjust fit, but it does now! Not an afternoon project, but it did come out pretty cool in the end.Katherine-top_2

I’m very happy with the project, and it will feel great on a super hot day.  Several fellow bloggers have made fabulous versions of the jacket, sometimes as a jacket, vest or shirt. I may have to make that one very soon. Katherine-top_1