Friday, February 28, 2014

McCall's 6613, the Denim Work Shirt

 A very long time ago my baby brother left a denim shirt at my house. I thought it was my daughter's or husband's when it was found but it was brother's. I called him and he didn't want it back, said it was old and nasty. I proclaimed it mine. Let me tell you, I wore this oversized work shirt everywhere. It was so comfy. I could jazz it up with jewelry, white jeans, a leather belt, you name it. It belied it's humble beginnings. After some years it started to fall apart. No problem. I still wore it for painting and gardening around the house. It was great for keeping away the black flies with its collar buttons and long sleeves. One day I had to face it. It was falling apart and was cast to the rag bag to rub away paint with turpentine. I have been grieving ever since.

I have always wanted to make another. The reason I didn't was finding the right fabric. It was not a light chambray nor was it a heavy denim. One day I stumbled upon a pretty good facsimile at our local Joanns and scoffed it up. For a pattern I picked McCalls 6613, a unisex work shirt, perfectly fitting my memory of my brother's shirt. It looked just like the denim shirt on the cover  of the pattern.
Now let's get something straight here. I am not making a fitted shirt here. I am making an oversized, drop shouldered denim work shirt. If it comes out the way I hope I will make more. I have made some "feminizing" adjustments which I think are necessary. The "small" size has a 42 inch bust/chest measurement, uh, not quite what  fits me. I have also found the details are more "man-sized" and I don't like that.
     
I pulled out an old shirt that I like, one with a similar over-sized fit and started measuring the details. Once I started comparing I realized I wanted the collar band a bit more narrow and those collar points a little less John Travolta in Saturday Night Live. I have also made adjustments on the pattern for a shorter length and  shorter and  less full sleeve. The sleeve in this pattern is VERY wide, too wide, very "guy".
All is now cut out and ready for marking. I had a day off today and two more to come so hopefully this will get done this weekend. Then it will be wait for another fabric shipment before I get started on some knit tops. Love those Amazon cards! Have you purchased fabric through Amazon? Here is one piece that came this week. I am waiting for I think five more.  This one is a black linen and white cotton weft piece from Kaufman  that has a really nice weight for pants. We'll see!,,,,,Bunny


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The smocking has begun!

 The smocking has begun on the little dress for my BFF's new baby grandaughter. It will be a little summer frock using McCalls 6015 as a base.
It will have the little cap sleeves  and a smocked insert across the front. I will change the zipper (horrors) to a button placket first because it will be more comfortable for the baby with flat buttons and they just look so much better on a tiny garment. Zippers look awful on little baby dresses, IMO.

It feels really good to have a hand project going. I am trying to decide on something simple for machine work. I need to get over all the intense coat sewing before starting the jeans project. So a top or two may be just the thing. We shall see!
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In our nearby little Joanns, they just clearanced a ton of jacket zips and others for the second time. I got satin zips, houndstooth, polka dot and lots of jacket zips for 97 cents each. I think those satin zips could make and awesome jacket pocket. So head on down and stock up. The price is great. NAYY, just want you to know a good deal is happening and I wanted to share. 
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These are my new treasures. I used to do oil painting years ago. Later I did a lot of painting on fabric.Lately oils just seemed to be popping up in front of me on line, while shopping, etc. I caved and followed my instinct and purchased a set of 12 Shiva Paint sticks, the irridescent line. These are really gorgeous on fabric. But I have this pocketbook I picked up at a flea market and am thinking they might be fun to play with on my two dollar bag. Keep you posted on this project. Here's the bag, not too bad looking and really all it could use would be a new lining. 
But this bag, when I pulled it out, had a little visitor hitching a ride to Bunny's house.

Needless to say, the ladybug was placed outside and the bag was scrubbed. Hopefully I will get a
 day soon when those paint sticks will get used.. 

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Thanks to all of you, dear readers, for the lovely comments on the cashmere coat project.  I don't know about you, but this blogosphere thing and of it's wonderful sewing followers really warm my heart. You encourage me so. Thanks again, for giving me access to your inspiration and making me a better sewist. Most of all, thanks for letting me share......Bunny

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Butterick 5960, the Cashmere Coat


Erma Bombeck is famous for saying, "the grass is always greener over the septic tank." Well, the snow always melts over the septic tank up here. Behind me is a still remaining, very icy foot and a half of snow. I couldn't stand on it for pics or I would sink in. The walks and drive are out as they are glare ice. And as it was, right up until hubby started clicking I had on my Yak Trax so I wouldn't fall and break a hip! So over the septic tank it was! 

I like this coat and know I will get years of wear out of it. It is very comfortable and has room to go over a suit jacket or big sweater comfortably and nicely. I really like the retro sleeves with their expanding length and deep cuffs. This coat is very warm.

Here are the deets:

Pattern:  It is Butterick 5960, a Katherine Tilton design.  What is it about those Tilton women that seduces me with their designs? I love them but have not always had good luck with them. This pattern had it's issues as well but in the end I am happy. The biggest issue is it's "bathrobe" nature. That's fine. It's a classic, no closure, shawl collared wrap coat, just like a bathrobe. But trust me, this pattern really needs more structure. I added what I could with tried and true tailoring techniques that you can see in the preceding posts, techniques like stays, lots of basting to control while pressing, padded hem,  etc. But the collar just does not know where it wants to go. It does not have a specific roll line. In the pattern photo it wraps back all the way down to the hem but there is really no structure to hold that look. I find the collar lays best for me with the back up and the shawl part going just to the waist. I basted it in to do this with silk thread and used a lot of steam. But if you can work out a taped roll line on this I think you would be very happy.

I do absolutely love these retro looking sleeves. They are the kind you often see on swing coats from the fifties and have deep cuffs and lots of room to accommodate a sweater or jacket. One fussy little thing to be aware of with this wide open cuff is that it does show the lining, of which mine is off white. If I did it again I would make the bottom 3-4 inches of the sleeve lining out of a fabric that matches the color of the fashion fabric of the coat, FWIW.


On Step 16, be aware that you  are instructed to close the top and bottom of the pocket with a "tight zigzag,...stitching through all thicknesses." This will put that stitching on in a way that will not let you sink your hands in the pockets. You only want to stitch through the top center pocket seam.  In other words, if you put your hand in your pocket, what is on top of your hand is what gets the "tight zigzag". 

The lining pattern includes an interior pocket between the facing and lining. I chose to not bother as I really didn't think I would use it and it would add more bulk.

Does it look like the pattern? Yes. It has the same roominess but I think mine is better controlled and the extra tailoring gives it a bit more polish.

Fabric:  The fashion fabric is a 70% cashmere/30% wool blend from Fabric Place Basement in Natick, Mass. Go there if you ever have the chance. It is one of the few remaining mega fabric stores in the country. You won't regret it.

This fabric is gorgeous and literally glows. I hope you can pick up on a bit of that in the photos. It feels and looks really luxe up close.

The lining is an acetate/poly called Kasha that I purchased online from Vogue Fabrics in Chicago.  They always have a great selection of colors on this often hard to find  fabric and the price is reasonable. Kasha is the lining you see in fur coats. It is a shiny, heavy satin on one side and a flannel on the "wrong" side, therefore providing a lot of warmth to the garment and still having a bit of finesse.

There is a strip of colorful binding between the dour black cashmere and the Kasha lining that is simple poly print charmeuse from Joanns.

I made a sash out of the fashion fabric on one side and faux black leather on the other side. That came from Walmart. Their faux leather is the only thing I ever buy in that fabric department and it really is quite nice.

The garment uses traditional hair canvas for interfacing and well washed 100% heavy cotton flannel for the interior stays. That provides a bit of extra warmth.

Construction: The garment construction on here is really pretty straightforward if you choose to just follow the pattern. Just watch out for that pocket issue. If you think the shawl collar "lay" looks not to your liking I would get a good sewing book, like Vogue or Reader's Digest and follow their instructions for a tailored shawl collar. Build in the roll with some stay tape and pad stitching if you can.

Another issue with the instructions is that the lining is never secured to the fashion fabric other than being stitched together at the facing edge. It will billow out and drive you nuts. I secured the lining to the FF (fashion fabric) in between the two at the lower armscye and along the collar neckline. I secured the upper and under collar, after matching their seams, with catch stitching and a bit of slack. I didn't want anything pulling oddly. I also secured the seam where the lining meets the facing TO the princess seam line, which matches, all the way from the shoulder to the hem. The coat fell much better once this was done. I used a catch stitch between the lining and FF.  That billowing lining  would have driven me to distraction.

Also, I ended up taking out my catchstitched lining hem and adding a facing so that the lining length was 3/4 inches longer. I faced the lining with some ivory Ambiance I had, cut on the bias. That was then catchstitched to the lining fabric. The reason why? The lining hem edge barely covered the top edge of the coat hem and I wanted it to cover it nicely, not some places yes and others no, just barely. I followed the exact measurements on the pattern for folding and cutting the FF and lining hems. I suggest you cut your lining hem 3/4 inches longer than the pattern specifies.

I added 1/2 inch shoulder pads which the pattern does not specify. This also helps remove the bath robe effect.

Here are some links to some of the construction posts:

Lining with Kasha
Interfacing with Hair Canvas
Marking and pressing
Padded Hem
Pocket Arrowheads

Conclusion:  This is a classic  design that is not complicated. There are no notched collars, bound buttonholes, welt pockets, etc but you still end up with a really nice classic coat. Again, I love the sleeves. Make this if you can go the effort to add in the additional tailoring to give it some more structure and keep it from looking bathrobe-y. I think it also looks a lot better with a belt of some sort. It is not a difficult to construct coat. I'm happy with the results.
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And what is that little tidbit of sparkle  that you've never seen on my finger  before, the one in the leather stitching photo? It's my new wedding/engagement ring. Same hubby, new ring! Many years ago he proposed to me with a really pretty Tiffany set diamond that his entire family chipped in for him to buy for me. I will never forget their kindness to him. I loved the Tiffany setting but as they can do from being set so high, the stone popped out  and needed to be reset three times over the years. The last time was twenty years ago. I decided to put the diamond in a safe deposit until I could get a completely different setting. College bills set in with the kids, etc, and it just stayed tucked in its box for years. 

Flash forward many years and not long before her death my Mom gifted me a piece of estate jewelry my father bought for her. He always loved estate jewelry and bought her numerous pieces over the years. This piece was a bit "different" and she seldom wore it but it had at least a lot of sentimental value. She wore it with my Dad when he was alive and then passed it on to me. It had one diamond slightly smaller than my ring and six smaller diamonds as well. When hubby asked me what I wanted for my birthday last year, I blurted right out " to get my diamond reset". 

We worked with a really fine craftsmen in New Hampshire, James Cook, and I am really pleased with the result. He is a true artist and you can see his gallery here. I now have my original diamond back and on the side are the small diamonds from my father's gift to my late Mom. To say this ring means a lot to me is an understatement......Bunny



Friday, February 14, 2014

Cashmere Peekaboo!

Unless you 've been hijacked by aliens sucking you up into a UFO and spiriting you away to the planet Selvedge, you know that the East coast is in the throws of miserable weather. We have about 9 inches since last night and more to come all tonight and tomorrow. My plans for a wonderful photo shoot out in the snow just didn't work out. I did try. It was blowing sideways and I had to do this close to the house so I could change my accessories. This was the best pic I could get:

The snow is about 2 feet deep behind me. I am standing in a path that just keeps filling up. You can't see my awesome boots but I think you can see this is one awesome coat and its Warm!

So right now, with this nasty weather, this pic is the best selfie I can get . I am going to either take more outside when the weather stops its aggression or stylize the coat on Ms. Dumdum and you can get my drift. I'll have another post shortly with lots of deets and better pics.


Hubby found this on our back porch full of snow yesterday, a delivery from Fabric.com. On the left is a heavy home dec all cotton for a spring/summer jacket and on the right is a fabric that is far far nicer IRL. It is a linen/cotton blend in the color "denim". I tell you, it stinkin' glows and is gorgeous. I am thinking summer jumper/dress a la lagenlook for that one. More to come on these.

Hubby and I are off to the North Shore and New Hampshire for the long weekend. Hopefully the drive won't be too interesting. Take care all and stay safe in the weather.. more on the backside....Bunny

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Such Angst!

If you asked me what part of the coat construction has given me the most angst it was the absolute last bit of labor. The inseam pockets required a bit of embroidery to secure the top and bottom of the opening. This would be easy. I'll embroider one of those cool little woven arrows that you see on Western shirts and tailored clothing from the Thirties. Can't be hard, right? Well, those woven little arrows weren't hard at all but they just looked like jumbled threads on this heavy coating. Rip it out! Ok, let's try just a plain embroidered arrow. It was a bit better but far from nice. it was very difficult to get even edges with the bulky wool, once again! Here's one of them:

This certainly won't do. Next procrastination set in. Then I hit again and decided maybe just a simple rectangle would do. Better but not better enough.

As I went to  try again one more time I couldn't find what I knew was the last bit of black floss and I wanted to finish this dang thing. Then I thought, does my machine make arrows? Well, Howdy do, it does, all in a line. I have a button I can push to give me just one unit of the design. I got together a seamed sample with the same layers as the coat pockets and gave it a shot. Wonderful! I was ready and couldn't believe how well this worked. Here is the first one I made on the coat:

Nice tight arrow with a little center interest but not lined up! Try again! I realized that the arrow was a half inch wide so the next one , after I ripped out this one, was measured out and a pin put exactly where the first stitch would go down. Stand up to get a good look down through the presser foot to line that needle up and give it the gas.


The rest of them came out perfectly and I was done in no time. Thank heavens I lost that black floss. This is a much better resolution.

Now all I need is a good press and de-linting and it will be photo time, hopefully today. We have had a bald eagle around our property lately circling our land for three days in a row last week. Friday I took a dirt road shortcut near home to get to work and I find him circling about a mile from our house. This afternoon our plan is to jump in the car with the camera and see if we can find him/her and get a pic. Males and Females look very much alike so we are not sure which it is. Hubby also saw an adolescent last week. They are mostly brown for about 3-4 years but HUGE, so their is a nesting family nearby. Crossing our fingers that we get some more visits from these majestic winged creatures....Bunny

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The latest fabrics and plans!


My BFF will be welcoming her third grandchild into this world shortly. This little angel did not come by her arrival easily but will  be here by caesarean in a couple of weeks. I always make something in a sixth month size as new moms just get tons for the newborn but maybe not so much a bit further up the road. A cute little smocked dress is planned.

My coat is done for the most part. I have found that since  where the facing meets the lining, where that colorful little strip is, well since that facing is not secured to the shell of the coat it BILLOWS and I am not likeing that. I can see this ballooning out on one of our windy cold days up here. So I have pinned together the facing/lining SAs to the shell/coat SA and will hand stitch them together. They are pinned together and it hangs much better now. So there is that handwork to do, make the belt, and fussy up a label. We will see what the weather provides for weekend pictures and hopefully will have those up soon.

My next big project will be jeans. I have to master them. We are allowed to wear jeans to work but they must be with nice shirts or sweaters, jewelry, etc, nothing sloppy or looking ready for floor washing duty. Since jeans do age and not look so well after a while I use a lot of them and need to get this down. I have taken the RTW Fast pledge and these jeans are a big priority. In the meantime I will have some fun with this little baby project. I always like to have a hand project and machine project going at the same time anyway. This little dress will be hand smocked. I haven't settle on the design yet and need to do a bit more research.
The fabrics are a quilter's cotton in a rose pattern that I just fell  in love with and two white eyelets from the collection. One eyelet is 24 inches deep so I cut off the some of the plain batiste to do my smocked insert. There will be an eyelet underskirt and maybe something special going on with the rose top skirt. I am not finalized on this design yet. I also have an allover eyelet that I will use for the sleeves . The eyelets match perfectly.

The pattern is McCalls 6015 and you see the area on view F that will be perfect for the smocked insert. I will do the little cap sleeves from view E. I love that type of sleeve on chubby little baby girl arms. There will be some white eyelet panties too. All in all, this will be vivid and fun to make so stay tuned for this one. At this point the batiste is backed with a tricot interfacing and ready to hit the pleater. I won't cut out the rest until that is complete. 

I need to make a muslin for my jeans. I picked up this stretch cotton twill at Joanns for that. I'll be using my Sure Fit Designs sloper and the Sure Fit DVD for jeans. I figure that fit won't be too off but if it is, this print will hide things so I can still wear them and get in some good practice on the topstitching, rivets and such. Then it will be on to heavy denim. Does anyone have a preference as far as the weight of the denim? I'm not a big fan of stretch denim so that will affect the fit also. I really don't want stretch denim. And the weights, it's looking like an 8 ounce might be right? Any input appreciated. 

This is the state of my sewing right now. I should be able to get a lot done on this weekend and am planning it. The next weekend, a long one, I will be travelling to the Boston area to get my implant finished, I hope. It will be great to see family and hopefully wear my new coat!.........Bunny

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Two Palate Cleansers!

 

I thought a bit of palate cleansing was in order before I hit the last intensity of the coat construction. Last fall I did a seminar on making scarves. I do that sort of thing now and then. One of the techniques I taught was cutting fabric into spirals, connecting them and then grouping them up to make  a scarf. They were cute but were a more "stringy" look, but not in a negative way. They were just different from what I am showing today. This technique is one I saw somewhere, after doing that seminar, and I wish I could remember where to credit the person who inspired me. Thank you, if you are reading. This method of construction differs from the seminar in that these are just big fat circles cut of felted wool, so so easy. They were the perfect project to give me a break from all that "black" sewing. And they were both completed in a total of two hours. The time would have been much less without the extra embellishment. I'll show you how I did them which is really easy. 

Fold a piece of paper in fourths, you know, fold in half, then in half again.  Put your compass at 1 1/2 inches and draw a circle at the folded corner. Then put your compass at between 6-7 inches and again, point in the corner, draw a bigger circle. Yes, you ask, that is my new toy in the background and I love it, a Samsung Tab3, yahoo! We are playing Spanish bolero music while I sew today. Love me some bolero, ay!

Cut out your "donut".
Put your pattern on your fabric. I used two different felted wools today but remember, all edges are bias so feel free to use any nice drapey fabric. Cut with a rotary cutter for a really clean edge. Be careful cutting that small inner circle.


I used 3 and a half donuts per scarf. Cut a slit into each scarf. If the fabric is not felted, cut it on the bias.


Then I butted the edges with tape and sewed them together with a zigzag stitch on this heavily felted wool. On scarf number two I sewed a regular seam and trimmed closely as the fabric was much thinner.

Pay attention that the right sides are all facing up. That brings to mind that both sides will show so a fabric that is the same on both  sides or really close will work best.


When the pieces are all stitched together shape the two ends into a nice curvy point.


At this point the scarf could be officially completed but I wanted to add a bit of color and texture. Enter Funky Yarn! If you haven't looked at yarn lately you are really missing some embellishment opportunities. There are some really fun yarns out at the chains that are begging to be stitched up. I don't knit but I  can't resist them. So I twisted and twirled this nubby yarn, pinned it to the scarve and stitched it on with a straight stitch that barely shows. I then did all the edges as well. WTH!


Close up, please, Mr. Demille!

This scarf took the bulk of the two hours because of the embellishment but then I was on a roll. the next scarf I did was from a felted angora wool sweater, much thinner and drapier than the check coating. I did no additional embellishment.


Now that I have had the chance to dabble in some color as well as pull in a couple of projects at lightening speed, it is time to hit the coat again. Hopefully done and photo'd soon.....Bunny