Monday, February 24, 2014

Look What Seth Made Me!

Seth is an inveterate yard sale shopper and if he sees sewing notions he usually buys them for me. The sleeve board on top was one of those purchases. It was  shallow, maybe an inch between the top and bottom, so not very useful except that it was very narrow.  He took it apart and used a leftover piece of balustrade from my parents house.  We are talking about the mid fifties when they built their house.  My dad saved the leftovers and they were handed down to Seth when they sold the house some years ago. He used the top, rounded part for a very nice seam roll long enough to press a leg seam open without having to move it.  The bottom of it was left and he used it vertically to make this sleeve board usable.  The lower board is larger and just what I needed for my pressing table. I'ts more for pants and anything that isn't completely flat. I had him make it the height of the old sleeve board that you can see behind the new ones.  He made this one from scratch with some oak he had left over. I drew out a template for the size I wanted and he cut it out along with a base large enough for stability. He used two pieces of the balustrade back to back. He's nothing if not frugal!  My Dad would be appreciative of Seth's inventiveness. I padded it and lazily, just stapled the covering down.  It's really wonderful to have good pressing tools.  To quote Kenneth King, good pressing can save bad sewing and bad pressing can ruin good sewing.

Fortunately I test interfacings before deciding what to use in a project. My coat is all cut out and I started making bound button hole samples since it's been awhile since I made any. In the process I noticed that my fabric had become flat and shiny after applying the interfacing for my samples.  I tried pressing against a piece of self fabric.  No improvement.  I changed the interfacing to a low temp fusable. No improvement.  Then I hit on the idea of using my needle board. That worked, but it's not practical for a whole coat. It's small and if I hit the edge it showed.  I need some fusible for the buttonholes and the welts so that the fabric doesn't shred away so I will use my needle board for that. So, what to do? This is not a coat that will be pad stitched since there  are no collars or lapels.   I looked at all my tailoring books and came up with no solution.  This morning I kept searching and pulled out Sandra Betzina's Power Sewing.  She loves to underline a jacket with cotton flannel and since it is not a substitute for interfacing she suggests fusing the interfacings to the non fuzzy side.  Perfect for the front of my coat and just the flannel for the back and sleeves. I was planning on using cotton flannel to interline the lining for warmth, but I'll apply it to the coat fabric instead.   I will still use hair canvas for the facings.  I will either apply them as Kenneth King suggests by zig zagging it to a light weight cotton at the 1" mark and trimming out the interfacing.  The thin cotton will then be sewn into the seam.  Faster than hand sewing the interfacing to the seam allowance.  I will apply bias hair canvas to the hem by hand.   While waiting for my hair canvas to come I'll cut out the flannel.  Thanks to Pam from Fashion Sewing Supply it will be sent out this morning.  I had  added a pleading comment when I ordered it yesterday. She happened to be in the office when my order came in and she responded immediately. Thanks for the speedy service Pam!

My buttonhole samples worked out well. I tried several different methods and decided on using the welt method. This involved the least amount of pressing, an advantage here and I was able to get uniform buttonholes.  I came up with a nice variation that made it easier.  But, another post for that.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Are Fashionable Women Taken Less Seriously?

Yesterday's NY Times ran a piece on a Nigerian writer who was told that women in the US  are not taken seriously if they are well dressed.  She was brought up to be well dressed, well accessorized and to be perfectly groomed at all times.  That's the norm in her country for women regardless of status or wealth or employment.  Her mother would never dream of going to work or out unless perfectly put together. When she came to the US to attend college she found out that an outfit she considered casual was 'too dressy' which was pointed out to her by friends.  We're talking about heels, pants and nice top.  Kind of what I consider a good everyday outfit, usually minus the heels. 

As an aspiring writer she attended a writing conference. The woman next to her remarked that one of the speakers, a woman who had published 3 books, couldn't be taken seriously because she was fashionably dressed. Weren't the 3 books enough to give her serious credentials?

A woman on PR posed the question of whether it's ok to be interested in fashion.  It kept her from sewing because she didn't want to be taken as too  self involved, which is what I think she thought of women who like fashion. She is seriously conflicted about this!

I love fashion, though probably not as much as some.  I don't have the lifestyle to wear a lot of what's considered high fashion, but I search out the casual and fashionable and try and interpret the look to suit my body.  I believe that there is nothing wrong with dressing well and fashionably or in loving fashion.

I am old enough to remember Bella Abzug and her hats.  She was a serious politician who was not taken seriously and a lot of men made fun of her hats.  How about Michelle Obama?  Do we not take her seriously because she wears fashionable clothing?  She'd been dressing interestingly long before she became First Lady and she held some serious jobs. Hillary Clinton and her pants suits.  People talked about them and not in a good way.  So, basically women can't win.  If you love fashion you are shallow,  dress boringly and you are criticized for that too.  

In a lot of ways, though women have come a long way since we got the  vote,  we are still struggling to be taken seriously. 
What's your take on women and fashion?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Done, Well With the Coat Muslins At Least

Making a third muslin was worth it.  I've fine tuned the fit and gotten rid of most of the issues.  Oddly, it looks shorter in the front but I had Seth measure  center front and back and the back is shorter by a 1/2". I've allowed a 2" hem allowance so that I can check it again when it's in the coating.  This fabric is heavier than the muslin, and it worked well.   There are wide seam allowances on the side seams and the sleeve seams so that I can adjust them a bit. I also have to  play with the shoulder pads to get the shoulders even.  

What I changed:
Added  height to the sleeve cap.  There were even drag lines front and back and the HBL was higher in the center.  It's still a bit higher so I added a little bit more height to the pattern. It can be fine tuned.

The hips were enlarged and most of the drag lines are gone. There are some on the left. My hips are not the same shape, but not so much that I need two pattern pieces I don't think.\

I shortened the sleeves above the elbow which made them more comfortable.  They look a little long to me, but I always cut sleeves too short and then my wrists are cold when I drive.  

I moved the shoulder seam to lie on top of my shoulder. The shoulder  end was fine, but neck there was too much of the back showing at the neck edge.  When I added the rounded back alteration I added a shoulder dart.  You can cut it off at the shoulder, but I like the dart.  I moved it so that it matched up with the shoulder princess in front. It fits the shoulder better I think. In wool you can also ease the dart into the front if it's not too large.

The coat is fitted with a long sleeve top and a heavy sweater underneath. I also heeded Bunny's warning of how much room the heavier coating, the lining, interfacing and interlining take up in fitting ease.  I left it a bit on the large size.  I'll  baste it together and see how it hangs.  

All of the fitting changes have been transferred to the pattern and the lining pattern is finished.  I am actually ready to cut fabric!  Wow.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Quick Thank You

Thank you for your support and suggestions; I really needed them!  Bunny,  your comment about heavy fabric eating up ease is a good reminder.  I had this issue with a coat a few years ago.  I will add a little more ease to the next and hopefully last muslin as well as wider seam allowances. I found some heavier fabric in the stash that arrived for free with some order or other. Good use for it. 
I laughed when two people said that my left shoulder is lower.  Actually you are seeing well padded shoulders  and I obviously added a tad too much to the right shoulder, so thank you for pointing that out. I have a  low right shoulder due to a torn rotator cuff over 30 years ago. They only repaired these back then if you were an athlete. The doctor said, you don't want a big scar on your shoulder.  You know what? I should have taken the scar!  It's an odd issue to fit since the bone, I think the collar bone, causes a bump just in from the shoulder and then drops off so that the top of the shoulder just past it  is quite a bit lower.  The bone makes it look like it's a bit higher than the left shoulder, but only the top of the bone is higher.  Fun to fit, right?  One of the reasons I like knits so much, they just gloss over this problem and I only lower the slope of the shoulder. It also makes my narrow shoulders that much narrower.   

I've got so many different lines on my coat pattern that I am tracing a new one so that I can make sense of it.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Learning to Fit

Fitting is certainly a process!  I've needed a new coat for awhile now and I've collected several coating fabrics to that end.  But, I've procrastinated because of the amount of work involved and fitting challenges that I haven't managed to fix. I've bought new fitting books, taken fitting clinics and drafted a moulage and slopers all in the hopes that I'd finally learn how to fit myself.  I've got pants that fit, knits are fine but when it comes jackets and coats there are issues. I can wear the pieces but they just aren't as good as they could be.  
I took Kenneth King's coat class  on Craftsy and thought I'd make that jacket.  Except it really didn't excite me.  Net a Porter is my favorite snoop shopping site. I saw this simple Fendi coat. It was perfect. Of course it's $2600 and doesn't come in my size. The back is simple and the front has an S shaped darted seam running from neck to hip.  This is not a flattering line for me so I kept the shoulder princess of the Burda style 113 coat from 12/13. 

Burda 113 12/13

The fabric is this nubby burgundy and black wool from Emmaonesock. It was a yard end from Philip Lim if I remember correctly.  I'm using a silk charmeuse to line the coat and interlining with cotton flannel.  With a warm fabric it makes a coat warm enough for our Long Island weather. At least most of the time. Bunny from La Sewista made her back stay on the coat she's sewing, out of cotton flannel.  I always make a back stay but  I never thought to make it out of flannel.  It will add another layer just where the wind hits.  

Back to fitting. I made my usual fitting adjustments to the pattern.  I was getting the same drag lines I always get with jackets and coats. My neckline is too high in back with a fold at the base of my neck.  I still have trouble reading drag lines; mine runs from the upper back to  my hip.  I bought Lynda Maynard's fitting class on Craftsy.  Everything I did didn't solve all the issues.  I have a high rounded back that is part of the problem. but the neck wrinkle isn't solved by the fix for a rounded back.  My husband took some pictures that I posted  on Craftsy.  am anxious to see what Lynda says about my fit.  I'd like to get started while it's still winter.

I did figure out that I needed more height in the sleeve cap and that the armscye seam needs to be deeper in the lower back and front.  
My sleeves fits better if I shorten it above the elbow. Much more comfortable. As you can see, I still have drag lines.  Grr.


While I'm waiting I'm going to cut out  Sewing Workshop's Olive top in black wool jersey from Manhattan Fabrics. My favorite Riri zipper is waiting for the back.  Most of their patterns are not my taste or style. Like that blouse I posted recently, they are mostly just too shapeless and big for me.  But I liked the lines of the Olive.  The photos in the their gallery showed a flattering fit on all of the women shown; perfect.  

I am definitely spoiled by the ease of fitting knits. The stretch just glosses over some of the more glaring fitting issues that I have.  Also, I think that I am a little more forgiving of knit fit. But I do know that I need a break from fitting this coat!

An addendum,  I think that I am going to make a muslin of the coat with it's alterations from KK's class.  I'm not sure about the round neck on the Burda.