Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Intentionally Un-Matched Suit: Vogue 9035

A soft and slouchy unstructured jacket with ingenious built-in pockets and relaxed straight/slim lined pants with an origami pleat that tapers the width of the hem.  
Easy to fit and wear, the 2 pieces work together and as separates, both can be interpreted in casual to dressy fabrics.  

This blog concentrates on the jacket, the next blog will zero in on the pants.
The orchid jacket is a light tropical weight wool broadcloth with a bit of stretch from my stash (found as a remnant in Paris).  The pants are a gray lightly textured Erminguildo Zegna wool men's suiting from our collection last season, sold out. 
The ombre rust stripe is a poly taffeta from my stash, and the cocoa/taupe pants are a stretch poly crepe also from my stash.  
The line drawings show the jacket which is loose fitting and boxy (looks like a 'swing' jacket in the sketch, but it hangs straight.  The jacket has a funnel neckline that stands slightly away from the body.

My studio shots of the jackets

The back detail is not actually functional pockets, but carries the seaming detail from the front around to the back.
Katherine came up with this clever buttonhole to use with small buttons.  It is one long buttonhole with a bar tack in the center and openings cut in at either end leaving the middle connected.
The orchid jacket uses oversized vintage celluloid buttons.

My Versions
#1: Taffeta (pure poly)
The first go, this fabric was an experiment.  A crisp taffeta in a favorite sagey green (sold out).  Probably a lining (at least I bought it with that in mind), it is a crisp and papery polyester.  Malleable, I hoped it would crush and crinkle.  It does crinkle, but reverts to flat no matter how it is crumpled up.  
No wrinkling, and it makes a sound when I move.
There is a word that describes the rustling sound made by taffeta:

Vintage shell buttons placed in pairs.
The pocket detail shows up in the stripe.
There are actually 2 functional pockets on each side, one off to the side back behind the main pocket.  The dimensional facing is stitched down to the jacket at the very end of the sewing.
The dimensional facing in back is stitched down at intervals.  These are not actually pockets across the back, just carrying the effect from the front all the way around.

#2: Silvery Linen Tweed
Soft tweedy linen with a hammered silver surface.
I made this jacket to wear in Paris and wore it a lot. 
In this fabric the jacket was almost like a sweater, soft and cozy, and the neutral color goes with all my gray and black pants, 
layered neatly under a trench/raincoat (that pattern is coming out in the next Vogue release).  

In this fabric the funnel neck takes on a life and sculptural quality all its own.
No interfacing, wanted to keep the softness.
Vintage shell buttons have a silver wash.

Wearing the jacket, having lunch at Le Progrès our favorite bistro for lunch while shopping for fabric in the Montmartre district in Paris.

Version #3
Black Linen
Everyone says we are crazy to go to New York in August, but Katherine and I are headed there the first week in August for fun and fabric buying.  Visits with our nephew and 2 fashionista nieces are scheduled.  (Marissa works for J Crew, her sister Madeline interns for Maria Cornejo and is going to FIT in the fall).  Both want to come fabric shopping with us.  Can't wait!
To celebrate the new pattern coming out this week, I had to make  the new jacket for summer into fall.
It will be hot outside and air conditioned inside, so something light and floaty seems a good idea.
After auditioning many other fabrics and many trips back and forth to the ArtBarn,
I settled on our Captain Midnight linen and it is perfect, just a touch heavier than hanky linen, wrinkles just a touch in a good way so it will not require pressing, feels cool and will layer over a little tank.
This version more like a shirt than a jacket.
I played with the funnel neck as I sewed, lowered the back collar about 1" and lowered the front.
It was touch and go for a while, had to make a new facing, but now I really like that it stands away from the neckline so it will be cool.
French seams on the sleeves as they will always be rolled up.

Vintage shell buttons placed close together.
The pants are in a light cotton black/gray stripe, cropped for summer.
More on the pants in this pattern in the next blog.

Sewing Hints
This is a pattern for reading the directions.  I had to read over my own directions when I sewed the black linen.  The sewing is not hard, but the order of construction is a bit unconventional.
The pattern pieces for the pocket facing go together like this.
Finish the edges as described in the pattern.
Pattern pieces for the front.  Front piece is sewn to the lower back piece.  
This photo shows the front and side back sewn together, and here the facings are ready to be sewn...note that the edges are finished.
Pinned and ready to sew.  I place the pins right on the seam line and remove them as I sew.
Inward/Concave curve
On a thin fabric like this one I don't grade the seams, but trim close using a rotary cutter which I use like an extension of my hand.  Then, clip every 1/2"...and a very firm fabric like this might require even more clips.
Clip right up to the gnat's eyebrow (up to but not through the stitching)...need your best sharp small scissors for this task.

Outward/Convex curve

There are a lot of hokey sewing myths about how to handle this one.
DO NOT:  cut those little pie shaped wedges or even worse, use a pinking shears!
DO:  change to a short 1.5mm stitch length which makes sewing a smooth curve even easier.  Then,  press flat as sewn.  This smooths things out for the next step.  The trick is to trim the seam to 1/8".  If your fabric is ravelly, make it a fat 1/8".  I use a rotary cutter for this, going slowly and eyeball the width.  After trimming, press flat again, and while the fabric is still warm turn it.  Slip the rounded edge of a point turner into the curve and smooth it out.  Finger press, working the fabric and favoring the facing to the inside.  I don't under stitch here.  Press the curve on a tailor's ham, working in sections to get a smooth edge.  The ham raises up your work and makes the curve easier to handle.  Use a clapper to finish things off for a smooth flat edge.

Back Facing looks like this:

Fabric Suggestions
Vogue traditionally puts only 3-4 fabric suggestions on the pattern envelope.  The jacket would work well in many different fabrics: taffeta, stretch wovens, denim, suiting weight wools, linen, cotton shirting, quilting fabric, dupioni/shantung, stable knits like ponte.
I went out to the ArtBarn to see what we currently have in stock that would work well in this jacket, see the list below with hot links.  
All are currently in stock at the time of this posting.




Taffeta Collection

To be continued....
Happy Summer Sewing!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Summertime Sewing With Girlfriends

To celebrate finishing up a long-term project for a future Vogue pattern I want to make some hot weather clothes.  This summer's at home uniform is soft pants and light tunics.  Using tried and true patterns I cut out a batch of pants and tunics in preparation for a visit from Diane Ericson who came over the hill from Ashland last week for a few days of fun.  
We sewed in the studio, did some hand work sipping wine coolers at the end of the day, shared our current work, had great conversations, played with fabrics in the ArtBarn and did visioning and brainstorming around our mutual businesses.  
Diane brought some of the fabulous garments she is working on and is currently featured on her website blog.  A master of re-fashioning re-cycled clothes, she started with a pale pink linen gored skirt and a matching hunk of silk organza and went home with a gorgeous blouse.  
You MUST go to Diane's blog to see the blouse and the other inspiring garments Diane brought to share during our visit.

Diane shopped the ArtBarn and took home these 2 stacks of fabrics.

My sewing goal was to use current fabric and a current pattern to make something to wear right now.
I started with Vogue 8876 and easily turned it into a tunic.

Eliminated the bottom band and the collar.
Changed the neckline to a V. (I do this when sewing the garment, fold it in half, match the shoulder seams and carefully re-shape and re-cut the neck.
Bound the armhole and neck edges with a gray stripe.
The fabric is our Silvery Dots French Cotton the binding is our Scandia Stripe Cotton Lawn.
I shortened it a bit more and added a slit at center front.
Let a tiny bit of the bias binding at the armhole peek out.
Used Katherine's clever buttonhole invention: one large buttonhole held together with a bar tack at the center and two small buttons grouped together.

The pant is an out of print Marcy pattern for Vogue that I keep using again and again.  
Has no side seam with a tuck and darts to nip in at the hem.
I added front patch pockets.
Used a gray French cotton (sorry, sold out)

Tunic #2 is made using our Sugar and Cream Stripe Knit. which I cut on the bias.  This worked beautifully, hangs very well, really no different to handle than cutting a knit on the straight of grain.  
I can't show the entire garment as it is a prototype for a future pattern, but here you can see how the bias looks and that neck and armhole use the selvedge edge as an easy finish.

My friend Carrie Marie Tasman is here visiting this week.  
Known for her animal portraits, Carrie Marie is a fine artist, fabric designer and graphic designer (and dear friend).  Click on the link above to see her blog and work.
CM brought her sewing machine and big computer along with dog Tully to hang with Vasco.
We're going to work on new graphics for display ads and the website and there will be more sewing!  
I'm headed to NYC in a few weeks and am whipping up some hot weather city clothes.
Stay tuned and stay cool!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Pattern Prototype Weekend with Gwen Spencer

Gwen Spencer drove down from Corvallis for a studio weekend.  Gwen works with me in making the sample prototypes for the garments that go on the Vogue pattern envelope.
To prepare for our immersion weekend, we each have sewn our own renditions of this pattern so it is fun to compare notes.  The pattern maker sends the pattern in 'our' size (14/16) and grades it to the size 10 that goes to Vogue.  We spent the weekend making the size 10 samples.
Hint:  can't show you the design, but it is a dress and Vogue dress patterns are selling so well that Vogue wants more.
This pattern is set for release in Spring '15.

Gwen at the cutting table in the studio.

We head out to the ArtBarn and audition fabrics.  
We auditioned this grouping of mixed pattern silks silks to use together.
Pattern combining is a trend I saw all over Paris, and we ended up using another grouping of prints, but this trio works so well together.
Top to bottom:  Adelaide Silk, Flower Show Silk, and Darwin's Garden Silk 
We make samples. This is one of the truly fantastic habits I've picked up from Gwen.  She makes small samples with the scraps to test out techniques, proportions and design.
It works!
We discuss the order of construction, finishes etc.
I write as we sew, then read the instructions aloud to Gwen for her feedback and to listen to see if things make sense.
We take breaks for great meals....we both love to cook.
At the end of the weekend we had 2 nearly complete dresses and cardis.
I'm saving the hand sewing because Diane Ericson is coming out today for a visit and we've got plans to play in the studio and sit on the deck with hand sewing.  
Diane is a hand sewing fanatic!

Gwen's stash of fabrics from the ArtBarn for her upcoming summer sewing....she said, 'I want all new clothes!"

Inspired by Diane Ericson, who is an advocate of making 'elements' to use in garments, Gwen is knitting an element with some Habu yarn that might be a collar or part of a collar or....
And it is a perfect match with this knit.

With this big project nearly done, I'm heading into the studio to sew some hot weather clothes for myself just for fun.  Stay tuned......

Happy Summer!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Paris Report #7: Hats Off!!

One of my fantasies is that in another life I was a hat maker in Paris, so my shopping radar is tuned into hat stores.
One sparkling spring morning Katherine and I were darting down a back street headed from the Bastille to the Marais.  We noticed this new shop, so of course we had to go in.
Called Mademoiselle Chapeaux, it was the first day they were open and we were welcomed in.
All is fresh and beautiful inside.

In France, land of the beret, the tradition of wearing hats has diminished somewhat.
BUT...for a certain kind of summer wedding, it is de rigeur for the women guests to wear a hat, and many of the hats you see here are designed for that purpose.
In another shop I discreetly watched a customer being assisted in choosing just the right hat to wear with her short shapely red sheath dress for a summer wedding.

I've started a collection of Paris hats found on each trip, so keep on the lookout for something I'll wear and that is in the financial picture.

The shop is run by 5 hat makers and includes a retail shop in the front with a workshop in the back with all the materials in use on display.  Here, she is working on a straw hat.  You can see the straw on the gizmo in the front of the photo.
The milliner was very friendly and proud of the new workspace and clearly loves her work. 
The exquisite straw hats are sewn from the strands shown here.
The straw (like flat yarn) is reeled off this gizmo as it is stitched together.
The milliner is so proud of this ancient straw hat sewing machine she found in Holland and restored.

Hat blocks and forms...some old, some new.  The tradition of making these forms continues in France and Italy, and the new ones are very expensive, especially because often the hat is made in 3 sizes.

Some hats are constructed with this 'fabric', called Sinamay, which is a foundation material used to construct hats.   Follow these two links or simply google in sinamay for a world of information on making hats from this material.
Pre-made sinamay brims and crowns.

A sampling of the hats on display in the front retail section of the shop.

One of the milliner/owners of the shop.  If you go to this page on the  Mademoiselle Chapeaux website, you can see her modeling some fabulous hats for sale in their internet store.
A customer trying on hats for a summer wedding.
Katherine liked this one.
I liked this version of the straw boater.
Marie Mercié
Across town, on the Left Bank, I discovered 
Marie Mercié  a renowned milliner with a jewel box shop and fabulous hats all made in Paris
....I've been searching for this store for years, spied the window going by on the bus.
 I found my Paris hat here....see it in the last photo in the blog.  Buying a hat means carrying it home, keeping it in a special bag, toting it through the airport, finding a special place in the overhead compartment, hoping it won't get crushed.  Always worth the effort! 

In the window at Marie Mercié

Snapshots of Random Hats All Over Paris

I loved this one....
In the window of a men's shop in the Marais. 

In the all white window at Hermès
Mary and Julie in our group found hats in a shop up in Montmartre, and Julie wore hers nearly every day!

Katherine bought this hat which is sewn of crisp lace so the hat crushes for travel.
Andie and Katherine found fabulous hats in Italy, and I'm wearing the hat I found at Marie Mercié.