Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Time For Some Responses!

Time to return some response to questions in our comment section. I'll start with the oldest first.

"I can see that you've made some alterations to that front piece, having worked with this pattern with a student in the past. It will certainly be more shapely and less boxy." from Summerset.
     Yes, this is a bit more shapely than the original Vogue Pattern 8975. Boxy styles don't work that well on me. I have also found a cure for my "drapery boobs." This is when the front of the garment hangs down straight from the bust apex and with a proportionally smaller waist it hangs out in front away from the torso. Not very flattering. So now I do an S-Curve adjustment. In the current Threads there is an article by Louise Cutting on how to change dart shapes to get this correction. Pam Ptak calls it and S-Curve and did an article in Threads some time back on it. It really makes my garments hang better and flatter more.

"That little sketch at the top, what book is that from?"  from Anon
     The sketch referred to showing how to cut out the CJ is from the book "Great Sewn Clothes" by Threads. It is in the first article in the book by Claire Schaeffer and is an excellent resource if you are contemplating making a CJ.

"Are you using an interlining as well?" from Lucy M
     No I am not interlining this jacket. FWIW I am not exactly following the directions in the Vogue pattern either. The jacket is boucle, silk charmeuse lining quilted on, and a woven fusible along the front edge and upper front shoulder. My shoulders cave in and with this soft construction I need that stabilization in the shoulder area.

"the cardigan jacket with a high neck is not the most flattering style for my large bust" from Nancy K.
     I am not doing the high collar, pretty as it is, choosing instead to use a simple edge to edge lined cardigan for my first effort. This required me to raise the neckline at CF blending to the shoulder seam.

"Do tell us which photo shows the best representation of the fabric’s colour combinations?" from Juliet in the UK.
     The last picture with the button is probably the most accurate as it was taken in natural light. Pics taken in my studio tend to have  a yellow caste to them. The fabric is from Banksville Fabrics in Connecticut and the fiber content is cotton/rayon.

I would like to thank everyone for the quick responses  regarding Blogger photo uploading. I don't think I am much different in that when a change is thrown at me by way of computer it is a steeper than normal learning curve. Now I've got it and yes , it is slower. Thanks again everyone .

In the pic above you can see my basket of weights. My Maine beach stones have been supplanted by these cool, smooth, heavy hunks of glass. Yesterday I decided to do some major cleaning in the back basement. There were boxes I never opened since we have moved into this house and did I find all sorts of neat things! I used to collect and put these pieces of glass in the windows at our previous home. They make awesome pattern weights and their sleek smoothness feels so nice in my hands.
Do you know what this is? If you lived in New Bedford, Fall River, or Lowell, Massachusetts I know you know. Here is a closer view of the inside.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Button, Button, Who's got the button???

I am really enjoying the challenge of my CJ. While it is a lot of handwork, I don't mind and find that the amount is just as much as I have put into some other garments I have made. I love handwork and I love "intense sewing" so this is right up my alley. Here you can see all the pieces quilted with the quilting pinned out of the way. I pulled the threads to between the lining and shell and tied them off, that is all the threads except the hem as I am not sure about the length yet.

But this buttonhole thing...............Accckkkk! Between yesterday and today I have focused six and a half hours trying to work out the correct buttonhole for this garment and making samples. I have tested techniques, sewing machines, all sorts of threads, interfacings, etc. My inspiration is  the article by Claire Schaeffer in Great Sewn Clothes. There is a lovely red boucle Chanel jacket with  a great shot of the buttonholes. There is also a detailed sidebar tutorial of the technique to make them. The plan was to make hand wrought BHs on the outside and bound BHs in the lining behind as per the article. After lots of sampling here is what I decided:

Technique: After doing a hand wrought BH as prescribed by Schaeffer, I decided to follow my Aussie friend Lexie's advice. This meant I would do a machine made buttonhole and work the hand stitched one on top. I also did the buttonhole stitch the way I learned, not Schaeffer's. She does a figure eight loop with her needle where as I pick up a single loop. I don't see any difference and will use the method I know.

Machine: The competitors were my ten year old Pfaff and my 35 year old Kenmore. The goal was to make an eyelet style buttonhole. The clear and final winner was the Kenmore Behemoth. Here are the Pfaff eyelet buttonholes. Pfaff puts what I would call a tadpole's ass on the end and they are just awful no matter what other factors were considered.

 Here are the Kenmore eyelets. You are seeing these on the back of the boucle with interfacing. They are really nearly invisible on the fashion fabric.

 Threads: The best results came from using a fine 60 weight cotton thread for the machine buttonhole. Then I worked the hand buttonhole on top in silk buttonhole thread.

Here is my first attempt at the this combination. You can see on one side of the buttonhole  the purls aren't that even but by the time I got to the other side and the eye they were nice and straight. I used the wonderful magnifying glasses I won from Birgitte to do the hand sewing. I think the final product would have been smoother but we are stitching on lumpy inconsistent fabric here, folks. Schaeffer's BHs have lots of negative space between the stitches. If you look about an inch below the BH you will see the machine made eyelet BH in the fine thread, pretty invisible.

So in summary: Kenmore sewing machine, 60 weight embroidery thread for the machine BH. Silk BH twist for the hand BH on top and all of this MANY samples later. You have to make samples but you have heard me preach this before. Here is a peak at the button I chose. It is an antique coppery look with a pinkish undertone from La Mode.  I really like it. I had to get my trim as well. I now know why the overlaps were so large in the original pattern. The jacket needed to accommodate the width of the trim before you hit the BHs centered over CF.

All of the machine buttonholes are made and waiting for their hand worked BHs on top. The hours are adding up. So far the tally is 29.5 hours. None of those hours include muslin making and fitting.

A big thank you to my Aussie friend Lexie. I wish she had a blog so you could see her work. Instead I will link you to her latest impeccable creation. 

Trims are up next and while I have the components, which I needed for measuring, I am going to try a few different options with them. More to come...Bunny


What the heck is going on with uploading photos from Blogger? There is a new format to use and it does not allow any pictures from my own computer, at least from where I am sitting.

I am livid. I had an entire post near complete and just can't get the pictures to load. There is no option other than Picasa, which I don't use, from the blog, and from URLs, nothing from my own computer. If I can't upload from my own computer I am outa heah....Bunny

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Chanel Jackets - Things You Need to Know

This is my first Chanel jacket using the couture methods and already I have learned a few things that aren't quite out there and that I will employ when I make the next one. 
      Tenet #1 - Buy way more fabric than you will need. What you see above is what is left from cutting out the lining. I have nothing left of the boucle, I mean nothing. Reason being you are cutting out blocks of fabric. The shell/boucle fabric requires 2 inch seam allowances due to fit, ravelling issues, and the bulk of the seam allowances being stitched down to stabilize the garment. The lining should be even larger. You can see in the illustration from Great Sewn Clothes that the lining fabric is larger. So once again, BUY WAY MORE FABRIC THAN YOU NEED.

      Tenet #2 -  Don't overthink this whole process. I am a wicked overthinker from way back.I marked the straight  of grain of shell and lining and matched that up first. To get accurate quilting lines on the back bodice pieces I basted the shell and lining fabric and  basted the quilting lines, sort of. Then I still didn't really know if this was right.  Not feeling secure and accurate, I used 1/4 inch masking tape to mark all the quilting lines. WAY OVERKILL. What ended up working better was  just marking the first line with masking tape, /1/4 inch, and using my quilting bar on my sewing machine to get the rest of the lines accurate.  Don't try and turn this into brain surgery.
Here you can see I eventually got it done. You can see the thread tracing on the piece I turned back.

My next effort will be doing the buttonholes in the jacket front, by hand, yikes! That brings us to Tenet #3 and this is back tracking.

      Tenet #3 -  Thread trace all of your pieces on to your boucle leaving those two inch seam allowances. Then I stitched each piece 5/8 of an inch away with a triple zigzag. ( I told you I was an overthinker.) This was to control the ravelling. Now here is the important part.
       Don't cut out your piece until you work with it. So right now I have the bodice backs cut from the traced yardage and nothing else. The rest is still one big piece of boucle. After I cut off the next pattern piece to work on  it goes right to the serger to serge all the edges. I am trying to give this fabric absolute minimal opportunity to unravel. Then I will proceed with the quilting or whatever is next.

I know these photos aren't too exciting given the colors of the fabric involved but if nothing else I also hope these few hints will help you out if you choose to make one of these jackets, a la couture. I have also decided to keep track of the time involved to make this puppy. Just curious........Bunny

Yesterday I went out in the grey afternoon as between morning and afternoon the trees seemed to have put on a  color. This little stunted maple out on the island is always the first to turn. Summer's over!...Bunny

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Chanel Jacket Part One

After the pajama blitz I needed to recoup. I did some organizing in the cave. I wasn't sure what to sew next as the queue is pretty deep. After a couple of glorious fall days putting my gardens to bed I knew. I'll have two projects going on. My (almost) hand project will finally be my Chanel Jacket. The nip in the air has really put me in the mood to get on with this garment. At the same time I will be working on Sophie's School Dress, a vivid corduroy print number. There is so much hand work in the CJ that I think this will work out great.
You can see here I started to thread trace my muslin. I have not made one of these before. I have tried thread tracing a couple of times with Burda but its not my choice of technique. However, for the CJ, I want to follow the rules, at least according to Schaeffer and Khalje. All adjustments have been made to the pattern. Grain lines are drawn on. It was easy to find the grainline on this wrong side of the boucle as there is a heavy white thread about every 1/4 inch. The muslin was pinned to the back side of my boucle along the grainlines. This still needed some more stabilization so my pattern weights, my rocks, came in handy. I then used a double thread, the better to see,  and found a LONG needle worked much more quickly. I traced around each piece right on the edge. I took care to double back to make sure my corners were well defined. What I am thread tracing is the actual stitching line. The cutting line will be about an inch and a half from that. Boucle ravels tremendously and this one particularly.  The wide seams prevent that from going into the stitching line. I have a plan here. I will trace out every pattern piece on to the yardage. Then I am going to go to the machine and stay stitch all around about an inch out. THEN I will cut out the pieces, after they are all stay stitched.

I used one color for the pattern outline. Then I used a red color thread to do all the marking on each piece. So all the marking is with thread as well. After that I took some blue masking tape and numbered and labeled each piece and stuck the painters tape on it. I did all of this on my cutting table, therefore the back is not happy. I can rotary cut  on that table for hours but for some reason the thread tracing  got to the old "espalda." I had to quit about two thirds of the way and will finish tomorrow.

Here's a little info on this project:

*   The Pattern is Vogue 8259, a Claire Schaeffer pattern that was kindly provided by Summerset. It is currently out of print although it shows up now and then on ebay. I am unable to pull up a picture from the web to show you but you can see examples on PR. Ann's CJ is particularly stunning. I will not be doing a collar and have raised the neckline accordingly. This will be the edge to edge construction.

*   The fabric is a boucle from Banksville Fabrics, can't remember the fiber content at this point but I am guessing cotton/acrylic.  Banksville is on line and functions as a a swatching service. You tell them what you need, pay ten dollars for 36 swatches, and they will "shop" for you and send you good sized samples to peruse. This worked beautifully as I really am one who has to feel and see the fabric and there is no store for at least a hundred miles that would carry such fabrics, never mind have a choice.  They sent me lining samples as requested also. The lining is a taupe/rose 100% silk charmeuse in a solid. It blends beautifully. 

* For reference I am mostly using an article in the Taunton book, "Great Sewn Clothes" by Claire Scaeffer that really takes you thru most of the process. I also have as reference Susan Khalje's article in Threads #121, "Inside a Chanel Jacket". Also, the blog, Go Chanel or Go Home has been a motherload of information and I am so grateful for that.

This is my first attempt at a CJ and if anyone has any imput on their method or use of the various techniques, please feel free to pipe up here. I welcome your imput.

Summer will end this week. It was a beautiful one up here in the Northeast but now the colors of Fall are ready to arrive and pronounce a future of white cold. Here is a picture of the twins at Crane's Beach on the North Shore. Is this not the glory of childhood summer or what?...Bunny

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Howoooooo! The Wolf Jammies

These were a lot of work for a pair of jammies but I know Jack will get much wear out of them. A few details:

     *   The pattern is Simplicity 2771, a classic uni-sex design that comes with sizes from size four child to size extra large adult. I call that a good value at the sale price of 99 cents! This is the size small, 6-8. which I lengthened one inch on the top and 3 inches for the legs to accommodate my tall, lanky young man.

     *   The fabric is 100% cotton flannel purchased on our local Native American reservation. It is a great place to find fabrics depicting animals and nature and the quality there is always very good. 

     *  I made some changes. Most seams, once again, were stitched, serged, and double topstitched in a "mock" flat fell seam. This pattern specifies piping and I used a dark grey poly for that, making my own. I did the facing band a little differently as well. In this pic you can see the collar band, shoulder seam and armscye.
 I decided to topstitch all the piping to give it a little more masculine finished effect.   

  *   Issues: The only issue I had with this pattern and it is probably my own aging mind, is getting my head wrapped around the facing/ collar band attachment. They are the same piece. One is attached to the piped bodice to make the public band. The shape of this piece really makes you think on what side goes where. Eventually I got it figured out, realized it wasn't that difficult, and I was just tired. Just pay close attention to the pattern picture for help. Attaching the facing to the bodice once the band was attached was simple. I decided to just serge the edges. When I topstitched the piping it secured the band as you can see above.

I am really happier with the finished product than I expected to be. I attribute this all to the fine quality flannel which was a pleasure to sew and makes a beautiful finished pajama. Are those wolves staring you down or what? I recommend the pattern with the advice to just pay close attention to attaching the outer collar band Now it is time to make jammies for the other three but they will be here in October and will go to pick out the fabric with Grandma Bunbun.....Bunny

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Simp 2771 Begins!

This is where we are today. The Wolf Jammie pattern, Simp 2771, is cut and the piping is made. For some reason I thought a black piping would look good. I got it all cut and decide the black was way too harsh. I dug and found this  grey and started my piping making over. I think this color is much better, kind of in sync with the furry feel of the wolves. The good news is I have enough of the wolf fabric left over to make Jack a pillow. His best friend, Dukey, has been with him since birth and will be leaving this world shortly. He is a golden lab and looks sort of  like one of the wolves. I thought Jack would really enjoy a pillow with Dukey on it. He is a very sensitive, sentimental little boy and we are all worried how he will take this loss. Dukey has slept at his feet most of Jack's life. He can't get up on the bed now. He is such a good sweet dog.


In the first three weeks of October we will have three different waves of house guests, moms, dads, children, great grand mother, daughters,,,,,,,etc. I am not sure how productive I will be at that time. I am tired already just thinking about it. But we love to have house guests and there is always time to recuperate after. Just hope my septic system can take it!!!...Bunny

Friday, September 10, 2010

Simp 8488 - Sophie's Jammies

Simp 8488 whipped right out, even including all the embellishment! I traced off the pattern in a size five as I know I will be using the master pattern  a lot in the future. It is very easy and sweet. I dug thru Ima's goodies to find some ricrac, eyelets and ribbon to trim it all off.
I know, that little ric rac needs an iron. It will get it.

Now on to a tute here on how I did the placket. I am not one to read patterns, unless they are a Vogue designer or such. I just pretty much cut,  sew, and do my own thing. It went right by me that the back of the jammie top had a center back seam. The method the pattern recommended for the center back placket looked a little awkward to me. Combine that with the fact that I want these jammies to last and last and here is what I did. All seams on the garment were stitched, serged together, ironed to one side, and then topstitched 3 clicks away from the seam line and another topstitching line a quarter inch away from that. It is what I call a mock flat fell stitch. These seams are going nowhere and will take lots and lots of washing. It's not your mother's heirloom sewing. Now to deal with the placket, or lack thereof.....
The challenge with the placket was to get a continuous line of topstitching and it was really pretty easy.

* Serge each center back seam edge. 

*Stitch the garment seam until you reach the point where the placket begins.

* Press the seam to one side

* Topstitch the seam about a sixteenth of an inch from the seam line, starting at the hemline. I use an edge stitching foot with  the blade running directly down the seamline. I click the needle 3 times to get the right position.

* Topstitch that seam until you reach the spot where the placket begins.

*Lift the presser foot and remove the garment from the machine, leaving a good 6 inches of thread.

* Stitch another topstitching seam a 1/4 of an inch from the first topstitching seam, again starting at the hemline. End that one also where the placket begins.

* Again, remove the garment from the machine leaving about 6 inches of thread. So now you have two rows of topstitching ending in a long thread where the placket begins.

Now comes the semi-tricky part:

* In the placket area put the top fabric section over the bottom fabric section, lining up the seam lines. In other words, just lay the doggone thing out flat, from where you left those long threads to where the neckline is. OK, they are now overlapped, kind of like they were sewn, but we know it hasn't been sewn yet.

*Now fold all of the bottom layer of fabric away from the placket area.  Keep it nice and flat. The top layer will go under the presser foot. Put the garment back under the presser foot and lower the needle into the exact same hole where you left off the last stitch and the long thread. All of the garment must be folded up behind this, otherwise you will stitch this seam shut. Don't want that!

* Start stitching, no backstitching! right from the same hole as the last stitch.

* Do the same thing for the 1/4 inch topstitching line.

* Remove it all from the machine. Thread a hand needle with those long threads. Now put the needle into the stitch hole that is after the one with the long thread. All threads will end up on the back. Tie them off.

If you have gone with your needle right into the next hole it will be almost invisible to tell where you stopped and started. Your placket will be topstitched just like the rest of the mock flat fell seam. Here is my final placket before adding the buttonhole and button:

Hard to tell where the seam ends and the placket begins, right?  It is right in the middle of the photo!  I used one small pale pink MOP button at the top of the placket and finished the neckline with bias tape, as per the pattern. Simp 8488 is  a great jammy pattern and I highly recommend. .......Bunny


While stitching away on Sophie's jammies yesterday afternoon, I had a visitor. She stayed about 45 minutes and really enjoyed the apples hanging on our apple tree. Her name is Bambi. The camera was handy so I took this pic through the window.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Moving right along.....

Thanks for the nice comments on Kaitlyn's dress. As always, comments from one's peers are priceless!

As I said yesterday,  DDs put in their orders for some sewing. Here is what has now rearranged my queue:
On this one I will be doing View D for Sophie, my tall, lean and lanky 5 yr old who looks ten. It is a classic little floral flannel. For trims I have some Swiss beading and  a checked ribbon to run thru the beading, and various sizes of pink ricrac.

Next is for my sweet Jack:
It is a classic man's pajama. The fabric you see is another flannel and yes, those are wolves. Jack picked it out himself. He is my sweet ruby haired 8 yr old who thinks Grandma Bunbun is just magical when she makes him clothing. These flannels were both purchased at a quilt shop on the Akwasasne Mohawk Reservation, about 15 minutes from my house. There is a great shop there, and they also carry the best flannels I have seen in the marketplace, other than L.L. Bean. They are heavy and do not shrink. They are also quite pricey and DD had a fit when she found out Jack's jammies cost forty dollars. Acckkk!  All of their fabrics have a Mother Nature, Native American bent and I do love to get my flannels there.

This one is Grandma's choice. Sophie needs some school clothing and I promised a Bunny-made. It's hard to see but this is a black polka dot fine wale corduroy. It has a lovely drapey hand. The other piece is a floral with a black ground. I hope to make this Daisy Kingdom dress out of them. You can see a grosgrain ribbon with mock stitching on the edges that I will use for trim on the pockets and such. I also will do a black tulle gathered hem. It will peek out from the polka dots. This is the one I am most excited about but the kids are very anxious for their jammies. So, jammies will come first.

These projects kicked out my Channel jacket and a leopard bag that were next in my personal queue. That's OK. I had this spiritual moment today where I was stitching away, in my 5th hour, on Sophie's jammies. I so remember my own grandmother doing the same for me as I stood at the side of her treadle and watched. I truly understand why she made me all my little dresses, underwear, and nightgowns. She absolutely loved  to. And so do I.......Bunny

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Miss Kaitlyn's Dress Finally Done !

It has taken a while as DH and I have been on the road the past two weeks. We sold a business we owned which required a trip to Virginia and then visited all the progeny. We then came home one day to tie up the business end of things and went back to the progeny down in North Andover and Londonderry and had a wonderful time. Of course we each brought home a nasty cold! No sewing was done until yesterday and I managed to finally finish Miss Kaitlyn's dress. Kaitlyn is the first grandchild of a long long time close friend and came a bit early. She and Mom are healthy and on track and I couldn't wait to finish this little dress and send it along.
Here are the details:

* The Pattern is one from Australian Smocking and Embroidery, Issue #75, Teddy Bear's Picnic. We didn't do any Teddies or Picnics but just used the basic dress as our pattern. As always, AS&E's instructions were impeccable, very clear, and easy to follow. (They sure could teach Burda a thing or two.)

* The fabric of the dress is  100% cotton, a Daisy Kingdom toile of children playing, in soft pastels. I fell in love the minute I saw it and have a penchant for toiles on children. They are just so classic. A coordinating stripe is used for the piping and placket.  The collar and cuffs are a 60/40 blend of poly cotton from Joannes. The big mistake was using a blend, but the reason I did was the color match. Next time I will prefer being off a shade. This stuff was miserable to iron and get looking good. I never did succeed and after three complete collars I decided not to iron the collar at all. It worked. It looks a little wonky in the photo but is a perfect match.

* The smocking is a pattern from a Sew Beautiful, and with all the magazines I have tossed around lately, I am not sure which one it is. The threads are DMC. The pattern has a crossover trellis of two shades of rose which I have never done before, very easy.

This will go out in the mail tomorrow. I spent the rest of the day today cleaning and organizing in the cave. I have been digging and found another unique item from Ima's booty. Check out this "lacey edge bias tape". Wow, I wish they made this now. It looks like lovely tatting and is connected to a double fold tape. I can't wait to use it on something.

I wonder what flexicloth is, maybe bias? It is bias. None of these tapes have any dry rot and are very strong and therefore usable, despite their age. Later this afternoon I organized them all by color and type in the DMC cabinets she gave me.
Yesterday, since we had sun and a breeze, I aired out some of the ribbons out on the clothesline.

The cave is clean and re-organized now that the linen jacket and Kaitlyn's dress are done. My queue has been rearranged as DDs have placed their orders for specific garments and of course I will accommodate. More on that tomorrow. It's good to be back!....Bunny

The Periwinkle Linen Dress

The Dandelion Dress served as the muslin for the Periwinkle Linen Dress. I love them both and they  are really both quite different as...