Friday, December 8, 2017

A tale of 2 tee's! Islander Easy V and Cashmerette Concord

Late this past summer I played around with 2 different tee shirt designs. I have my all time favorite tee shirt pattern, which is my highly modified Jen Stern Designs- The Tee. I love this tee I have endless variations that I can make and it fits and looks great. The only downside is that it has a bunch of pieces to it. (which is why it fits so well!)

I was and continue to be on the quest to find and fit a Tee that is a super breeze to put together and has only 3 pattern pieces; front, back and sleeves.
Modified Easy V on left and Modified Concord on the right.
This fabric is very thin and clingy.
The back of the modified V is just not good. lots of drag lines.

Enter in 2 new patterns:
1. Islanders Sewing Systems- Easy V express. This has an interesting neckline AND my main reason for using it was that we had a summer challenge (which sort of fizzled out) for the Haute Couture Club of Chicago to make the Easy V express. I'm always up for a challenge and the pattern was for sale at the HCCC June banquet. I always try to be a good group participant so I decided to play along.
Close up of the neckline of the Easy V.
Has a pleat that starts in back neckline and comes around to the front.

2. Cashmerette- Concord T-Shirt I purchased this pattern when it first came out. Mainly because I really wanted to be supportive of this Indie pattern company who designs for woman with curves! I liked the options for different lengths, sleeves and necklines.
Easy V on left Concord on right

Round 1: bad, so bad. So bad that I didn't even take pictures...
Let me start off by saying that I took my measurements and cut the corresponding size per the patterns charts and made my first mock-ups and they were both just awful. (Hence why I draft my own patterns from my master patterns.) The Easy V was way too big and boxy and the Concord strangely enough was too tight around the middle and weird across the upper chest.

Round 2: better but not perfect.
For the Easy V, I took my master knit pattern and grafted the neckline of the Easy V to it. Basically this meant it had a bust dart slightly different armhole and was narrower across the upper chest/shoulders. I basically kept the same back (due to the neckline construction) and just modified the back armhole slightly.
For the Concord, I basically just took my master sloper and used the neckline shape. SO a bust dart was added and armhole slightly changed. Plus I used my back master.

Modified Easy V on left and Modified Concord on right
Both now have a bust dart.
Round 3: hasn't happened yet! My plan was to add the 2 tees to my closet rotation and decide over time which I liked and which I dont. Then, pick one and make some final tweaks.
Somehow August has turned to December and I am now just thinking about this again. I just did not have enough interest at the time to push forward with it!

My final thoughts....

  • this knit fabric, while cute, is just too thin for my likes and would be best suited for a very loose fitting garment or underneath layering pieces. (I've had it for years in my collection and glad I have finally used it)
  • I like the scoop neck version with this fabric layered with a linen summer vest.
  • There are no perfect patterns
  • I have become a fitting snob
  • I doubt I will ever make the Easy V again. I just dont like the way the neckline looks on me.
  • I need to just go back to my master and play with necklines that I like.
  • I really like the scoop neckline that I took off the Concord.
Happy Sewing and Happy Holiday Season to All!

Celebrated my Son-in-Laws birthday with a lovely lunch
 and a performance of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra playing
 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. What a treat!!
Can't wait until the Princess is old enough to participate :)



Friday, December 1, 2017

In The Sketchbook- November 2017

Welcome to In the Sketchbook, a monthly look at fashion design sketches that we are working on for ourselves. Sketching garments on a personal croquis is a great way for the individual couture enthusiast to move beyond the use of commercial patterns and into a world of personalized design! It can be intimidating at first, but with a little bit of practice it becomes something you look forward to. Join us for a look of what we have going on In the Sketchbook! Brought to you by Wendy Grossman of Couture Counsellor and Steph King from Siouxzeegirl Designs.


Winter in Chicago means that the 2017/2018 Chicago Lyric Opera season is upon us. My dear friend Wendy and I are attending 4 Opera's this season as well as some other cultural events. We both had outfits for the first two performances and have two more coming up. Both are on Saturday evenings and we quite like dressing up!

The 4 sketches that I have here are my favorite of my group of sketches. One of them needs to include lace (sort of our own challenge to get us to work with some of the beautiful laces we have acquired!) 

The first 2 sketches incorporate lace into the designs. The first one pairs a beautiful multiple shades of blue floral guipere lace skirt with a Blue fancy tweed equestrian inspired jacket. 


The second one (which I have drawn several times in trying to convey my vision better) is more of a 1920's inspired empire style gown. The pink is a much more vibrant color than what I have shown. The idea is that the top and underskirt are in a brilliant pink silk dupioni and the over-skirt and sleeves are in a beautiful black mesh lace with pink and black embroidered roses. There is also the opportunity here to add some embellishment along the empire seam with beading or possibly appliques of the roses.


The last 2 are non-lace but made of some of my fancy fabric from my collection. The first of these really plays with lines and layers and sort of reminds of a flowering bud. There still seems to be a little bit of a disconnect between the lower half and the upper half of the design. I need to play with it a bit more to make it more cohesive... I have 2 gorgeous fabrics in mind for this. One on a black and red and another in a pink and green and both are reversible.


The second outfit is a pants set. These are intended to be wide legged and very soft with possibly an overlay in silk chiffon with the sleeves being the same overlay materials and an architectural asymmetric collar and neckline with the body of the jacket/top to be out of a black/red printed jacquard.

This month I will be spending some time in London and the Netherlands and am excited to bring along a travel sketchbook for inspiration!

Make sure to stop by Wendy Grossman of Couture Counsellor to see what lovely sketches and ideas she is working on. Please feel free to share your sketches and ideas!

Monday, November 27, 2017

How I used my Japanese cotton double gauze.. PJ's!!

Catching up on my blogging!

Early in the summer I ordered some Japanese cotton double gauze from Marcy Tilton. The ones that I ordered are no longer available. I had a vague idea of what I wanted to do with them...PJ's. However I had no idea what kind or any design idea at all when I ordered the fabric.

My package showed up and the 2 lengths of fabric that I ordered were just LOVELY!! There was only one slight problem... I had hoped that the 2 fabrics would be better matched in color and they were just too far off to be used together. (although for PJ's it probably would not have mattered!!)


I promptly serged the cut ends and threw these in the washer and dryer. Oh my!!! they washed up so lovely and so soft. I was very impressed. I hung them in my fabric closet and waited for inspiration to hit me. That's what it usually does, it smacks me right upside my head and I have this crazy feeling of hurrying to get the idea down on paper or completed before the inspiration dissolves into thin air and floats away.

Plans for a girlfriends 'sewing weekend' were planned for mid-august. Six of us were planning to get together in Maryland for a much needed no stress sewing weekend with the girls! Five of us made it and we sure did have FUN! I really wanted to make sure that my sewing plans were just as fun and non-stress related as possible. After all, I have had enough stress this year.
Having so much FUN sewing with my friends!

Monkey made sure that she got to enjoy in the fun as well!

My mind immediately went to sewing up a PJ's set. I really needed some new ones that were not so old and thread bare and that could be used when traveling with others as well as doubling as lounge wear.

I pulled out my 2 fabrics and decided that I really didn't like them together. So I choose the more lighthearted of the 2, the polka dots, and set off on a quest in my fabric closet looking for another fabric to pair with it. I came up with this red cotton fabric from my collection and just loved it! The turquoise in the print matched perfectly and the shapes in the print mimicked the polka dots. Perfect! I washed and dried both fabrics again and used a color catcher just to make sure we were good to go. This also made sure that any shrinkage was for sure done. With no dye on the color catcher I knew it was a match made in heaven.
Loving my new pajamas!
For the PJ pants, I knew that I wanted them to be long enough to be able to use some elastic in the ankle. I really, really hate sleeping in PJ pants that dont have either a knit cuff or elastic in the hem. I move around a lot in my sleep and regular PJ pants get twisted on my legs and become very uncomfortable. I used my master trouser pants pattern and cut them 3 inches longer, straightened out the side seams from hip to waist and ignored the darts. I used 1 1/2 inch elastic for the waist and threaded it through a casing. During our sewing weekend I had one friend help me determine the best length and it turns out that we both really liked them long so that when I added the elastic at the ankle it gives them a lantern effect at the bottom.

For the jammie top I used my master darted bodice pattern. This pattern is fitted with double bust darts for shaping. I eliminated one of the bust darts, the waist fitting darts in front and back and added in about a half inch of extra ease at each side seam. This meant I would have a jammie top that was comfortable and cute! And it still has a slight bit of bust shaping with the single smaller bust darts. I added a round applique pocket for fun. After all, you always need a pocket for tissues! I used the polka dot double gauze for the neck facing which I applied to the outside and for the armhole binding. Using the contrast facings really tied everything together!

oh boy are my legs white!!

I had enough of the red print cotton to make a pair of matching jammie shorts. The length was really dictated by the amount of fabric I had leftover. They worked out perfectly and I enjoy having the matching shorts for summertime slumbering.

Tester pj pants
So before everyone goes on thinking that I just willie nilly made some pattern changes and cut straight into my beautiful Japanese double gauze... worry not! I did make a test pair first out of this orange print lightweight fabric first. This orange was marked as being an African wax print. I washed all the wax right out of it! After some googling I found that these authentic African wax prints are pretty much knock-offs that are made in china. Which led me down a rabbit hole of info on fabric production! 

...anyway, this orange fabric was so inexpensive (read cheap!) that I knew it would be a great wearable muslin for my PJ pants.

My sewing buddies and I getting ready to hit the runway!

My jammies were so much fun to make and turned out so well that I decided to wear them on the runway! They made there debut at the 2017 ASG Chicago chapter luncheon and fashion show. So much fun and oh, so very comfortable!

As I am finishing up this post I am now thinking of winter jammies! Plans of sewing are swirling through my head :)


Smiles from the Princess!
She was so excited to trim the Christmas tree this year!