Before New Year's…

… I want to make:

  • Clover jeans – I love the fit of my Clover trousers so much, but I don’t like the pockets or side opening. I’m altering the pattern to be more like jeans! (oh yeah – I did fix the zipper in the end…)
  • Ruby Slip – The pattern is printed and taped, but not yet traced. I have the perfect silk in my stash, and I bought some to-die-for wide lace at MacCulloch & Wallis on Friday
  • Paco’s Drape Collar Tunic – This is already traced and I’ve got the perfect purple sweater knit hanging around from last winter. This should be a quickie on the overlocker
  • Holly’s maternity maxi-dress, Burda 08/2008 #125 – The bodice is traced, I’ve done a first muslin, and the fabric is ready to go. Her birthday’s on Boxing Day, so I’m aiming early!

I’ve got to go into work on the 27th-29th, but I’ve still got a lot of days off to hole up in my sewing cave. Most years I end up making a coat over the Christmas break, but I don’t really have much need this year so I thought I’d focus my attentions elsewhere instead.

How to finish a cowl neckline

As promised yesterday, here’s a really cool technique I used to sew the shoulder seams and get a clean finish at the neckline of my MyImage cowl tee (M1152 from the Fall/Winter 2011 issue) all in one go.

It’s a variation of “the burrito method”, and you can use it on any top where you’ve got a facing on one side, and a folded edge on the other. So it doesn’t have to be cowl necks, it’ll also work for surplice or wrap necklines with a self-facing, too!

This comes fairly early in the construction of your garment, but by this point you should have already sewn your facing (in this case, my back neck facing) to the body of the garment (the back here), right sides together. You should also stabilise your shoulder seams, either by using Vilene bias tape like I have, or with strips of knit interfacing or clear elastic – whatever your preferred method is!

In my example, I’ve got a back neck facing which is a separate piece, and a folded (ie: integrated) facing on the front.

Step 1. Pin the shoulder seams together from the shoulder edge to the back facing stitching line, right sides together. Keep the front facing and the back facing out flat (ie: don’t pin them!)

The One Hour Cowl tee

First of all, thank you so much for all your comments and suggestions regarding my draped jacket! The consensus seems to be a) try it with skinny trousers, and b) shorten the sleeves at the very least, but I definitely need to take some time away from it before I can contemplate working on it again.

I think you can also predict what came next – a quick knit top! This top was particularly medicinal because last Saturday I’d already sewn up Holly’s maternity coat muslin, then done a bunch of overtime work from home, cut more insulation on the boat, and I found myself about 4pm with a totally frazzled brain and not quite sure what to do with myself.

So I went with my gut instinct, and started tracing the MyImage cowl tee (M1152 from the Fall/Winter 2011 issue)!

This fabric was a gift from Marie-Christine when we visited her in Toulouse at Easter. It’s a viscose(?) jersey printed (or actually, bleached, since the reverse is black!) to look like lace! I’m not a big “prints” person in general, but I’m such a sucker for a trompe l’oeil print, and you already know my love of lace!

There was only 1 metre of this, though, so it’s a good thing it has 2-way stretch since I had to fit the sleeves on the cross grain! If this was just a crosswise-stretch fabric I don’t think I would’ve been able to fit it in…

This pattern really is the essence of simplicity – there’s only three pattern pieces (four if you count the back facing, but I just used a rectangle of fabric instead), and the title of this post is no exaggeration – from tracing to cutting to sewing to wearing it took me only an hour! This really was just the pick-me-up I needed after the long-running draped suit project…

The Draped jacket & skirt suit

I’m very happy to report that my draped suit (Burda September 2011 #126 and 127) is finally finished! It feels like I’ve been sewing this for f-o-r-e-v-e-r and I am thoroughly sick of it now!

If you recall, it’s a two-part suit, with a draped, collar-less jacket and a pleated pencil skirt:

I’ve been sewing both of the pieces in parallel, so I’ve finished them at the same time. I like a lot of aspects of this suit, but to be perfectly honest, I’m not totally in love with the overall resulting look.

The jacket and skirt together!

Things I really like:

  • The lapel-less shawl collar construction
  • The asymmetric drape
  • The three part, bell shaped sleeve
  • The two-tone, piped lining
  • The folded and seamed facing on the draped side
  • Pretty much everything about the skirt
    • The drape makes for a rather elegant side view, too:

      Things I don’t like:

Mobile sewing weekend report

I’m beginning to feel like my draped suit (Burda September 2011 #126 and 127) is dragging on forever, so it’s good that I am making progress in the few snatched snippets of time available to me over the past few weeks. I hope you’re not getting too bored yet!

We were out of town this past weekend, up in Sheffield visiting two very good friends of ours in their new place (a house with his’n‘hers sewing machines! We slept in a room with a vintage Bernina!). It’s about a 3.5 hour drive from London, so there was ample time in the car for handstitching, but it did require some planning ahead to get the suit in a state ready for it.

Going back to my earlier To-Do list from last week, I was able to finish the following on Friday night before we left:

  • Construct and attach the sleeve linings to the rest of the lining
  • Interface the jacket hem
  • Attach the lining to the jacket around the front facings and neck edge
  • Construct the skirt lining and baste to the skirt at the top edge
  • Attach the waistband
  • Machine-hem the skirt lining
  • Machine-stitch some grey lace tape to the bottom skirt edge

I also prepped about 5 lengths of grey and pink thread with beeswax before leaving so that I wouldn’t get horrible tangles while doing all the handstitching. I never used to bother with beeswax, but it seriously does help cut down on the excess tangling, so the time spent waxing and pressing the thread in advance really does save you time and frustration in the long run.

Then, in the in the car ride up to Sheffield and back (and, err, also in the KwikFit waiting room while we had new tires put on) I was able to:

  • Anchor the lining to the seam allowances at the underarm
  • Baste and hand stitch the jacket hem
  • Hand stitch the lining hem to the jacket hem
  • Hand stitch the sleeve lining hem to the sleeve facing
  • Baste and hand stitch the skirt hem

I just love how that hot pink satin piping turned out! You can also see my lace hem tape on the skirt here. This was a pack of lace tape I’d bought at the Amish dry-goods store in Perry County last year, paying 50 cents for it, and with a 1986 copyright on the package!

Upcoming Fall 2011 sewing – the fabric

I posted about my Fall sewing pattern plans weeks ago, but I never quite got around to showing off my lovely Fall fabrics at the same time, and then I went and bought a little more since I sewed through enough of my stash over the past year to make space for more.

Indeed, the first two fabrics were bought long enough ago from the superlative Ditto Fabrics that I’ve actually already used them!

This grey stretch wool suiting is finding a life in my Draped Jacket and Skirt Suit you’ve heard so much about lately, and I’m sure you remember this peach silk habotai from my recent blouse, right?

Well, the day after I bought the above from Ditto’s website, we determined I’d actually be going down to Brighton later that week, so I stopped into their store on the Saturday morning and picked up two more fabrics (along with a good gossip with Ditto’s lovely owner, Gil!).

Draped jacket – no ordinary lining

There’s been only slow and steady progress on my draped suit (Burda September 2011 #126 and 127) this week as there’s been little time to sew, but I did get a few hours of “me time” in on Sunday evening after my insulation work was done for the day.

Those few hours were enough for me to finish the entire shell of the jacket and skirt, but I needed a clear surface to cut out the lining fabric, so that was delayed until last evening (since my running group was cancelled). Since the wool suiting has stretch, I didn’t want to negate the benefits of that with a non-stretch lining, so I pulled out one of the few stretch wovens in my stash – a blisteringly hot pink stretch satin I’d bought from last year (and came across in my mom’s suitcase before the wedding). Despite it being polyester, it actually feels wonderful and it was worth the price to be such a high quality lining.

Draped jacket – in progress

Last weekend I cut out all the pieces for my upcoming draped suit, Burda September 2011 #126 and 127, in the beautiful grey stretch wool suiting I’d bought specifically for it.

Since then, though, progress has been slow. I’ve got an evening class for work every Monday night, I’ve found a wonderful, brilliant amazing running club I go to on Tuesdays, and our weekends are still chock full of boat DIY work as we scramble to get the last outside work done AND the insulation up before the weather turns. Which leaves exactly three evenings left for all of our social activities, and any sewing left to squeeze in. This week I’ve got something on all three of those evenings, too.

So this really leaves progress to be made in very small segments. I’m very good at finding spare ten minute pieces of time here and there, but lately even these have been thin on the ground. Over the past week, I only managed to work on this jacket twice – on Wednesday night I fused all the necessary pieces with Pam’s weft-insertion interfacing and vilene bias tape, and then Sunday afternoon I actually managed to get a few hours of sewing done once I’d done 3 hours of insulation work and the dust settled enough in the hold for me to get out my ironing board.

Beyond that, while we were working on the construction part of the boat, something happened to the 24v cabling and so the lights in the bedroom, sewing room, and one other area no longer work. So my sewing room is very dark now, even when it’s light outside! Please accept my double apologies for the quality of these photos – I had to light the area with a headtorch while taking these on my (soon to be upgraded, yayyy!) old iPhone 3G camera.

Peach silk shell blouse

As I mentioned last week, I made this blouse the weekend we got back from Hungary. It was a really quick make, with only a few seams and minimal closures, so even including some thread tracing and french seams didn’t really lengthen the project time. In other words, it was exactly the sort of project I needed right after a holiday!

Burda 09/2010 #110 is the sleeveless version of this top and one of the, oh, eleven must-sews for me from this September 2010 issue. It’s been one of my absolute favourite issues since the moment it came out, so it was nice to make something other than the cover dress for once!

I mostly made this to coordinate with my upcoming grey wool skirt suit, but with our unexpected hot and sunny October (29C/88F!!!) in London, you’ll get it see it worn now in a summer style, paired with my silver tweed KnipMode skirt. I imagine the weather will cool off enough by the time I finish the suit that you’ll get to see it layered underneath the jacket as I intended!

The Burda trench jacket

I’m so pleased to finally show you the first piece from my Fall 2011 sewing aspirations – the trench jacket!

As you recall, I was restricted in my pattern choice since I bought the last 2.5 yards of this waterproof gabardine from Mood when we were in NYC last Fall, but in the end I settled on Burda 02-2009-112. The gabardine feels great – it’s not coated with anything and it doesn’t feel plasticky – it’s just that the weave is so tight that water beads on it! Perfect for London!

This is a Burda Petite pattern, but the only change I needed to make to the muslin was to lengthen the sleeves! I’ve been busy sewing this in tiny increments over the past few weeks because I’ve been so busy, and you can see that we had to squeeze in this photoshoot after work, too!

I really love the overall shape of this totally curvy jacket, but I especially love the pleated back vent, which was surprisingly very easy to sew! I cut the same pieces in the lining, and I cleverly waited to sew the diagonal topstitching to keep the folds in place until after the lining was in so the two layers stay together nicely.