Wednesday, June 29, 2016

June 2016 Sarah Veblen 3-day Choose Your Own Focus Workshop

This was my second second 3-day Choose Your Own Focus Workshop this year! (You can read about the first one I attended back in February here). We are very lucky that Sarah Veblen is coming on a semi-regular basis to teach in Chicago! You can see Sarah's full schedule on her website under the Teaching Tab.
Everyone hard at work!

Sarah demonstrating walking a sleeve pattern.

This workshop was full with 6 participants. 2 from downtown Chicago, Myself, from the Chicago suburbs, 1 from Milwaukee, 1 from Ohio and 1 all the way from Alaska! It was so great to meet new people and make new friends with others that share this sewing passion!

This workshop I concentrated on skirts, a new dress and in-seam pants pockets. I also brought 2 shirt projects that are in progress to work on in-between time with Sarah.

New Dress; This dress is inspired by Vogue 1404 by Ralph Rucci
I did actually start with the pattern as a base to try it out. I made it up in a muslin for when I had some time with Sarah back in May. The dress has been completely re-designed. Some of this was for fitting purposes and some was purely for design purposes.After that meeting I left with a crazy looking muslin with sharpie marker lines drawn all over for design changes and pins everywhere and extra pieces of muslin stuck on. This was a super challenge for me on the patterning side of things.There are 6 inset corners in the dress front plus the neckline corners. For this workshop, I made all the pattern changes (some were creating completely new pattern pieces and some were changing existing pattern pieces) and constructed a new muslin. I will do a full blog post once I complete the dress.
In this workshop, Sarah helped me to tweak the armhole, upper side front piece, neckline, drape a cap sleeve and determine a good finished length. I was able to make all of these changes, mock up the changes and create a final full pattern with facings for my new dress. We also discussed different fabric types and changing it from a summer to a winter dress with 3/4 or long sleeves. 
Mirror selfie to help me determine the neckline. I find if i can look in the mirror and then refer back to the picture a couple of times it helps me to determine if its something I really like.

New Dress! The final garment will be 4 about 4 inches longer with a band at the bottom!

2 options of cap sleeves. left is on the straight of grain, right is one the bias grain. The bias grain sleeve is much nicer to my eyes!

Skirts, skirts, skirts! I left the workshop with a completed skirt and patterns for 3 skirt types. Straight skirt, A-Line 4 panel skirt and a princess line pegged pencil skirt.
Prior to the workshop I self drafted a straight skirt and used my Master pants pattern as a guideline for the waist, darts and a jumping off point for the hips. The darts weren't quite right and had to be re-draped on my body to make them fit the best. Overall, it was a successful start to a straight skirt design. YIPEE!

From this straight skirt, I designed an A-line with a slight flare at the bottom and a pegged princess line pencil skirt. We even took the time to make sure that the princess seams line up with the princess seams on my master jacket pattern. 
Me in the completed jacket and freshly designed and constructed A-line skirt!

With the A-line pattern in hand I constructed a new skirt. I really wanted a new skirt to go with The jacket that I designed and constructed for Princess Victoria's baptism. I just happened to have 3 yards of this lovely cotton print in my fabric collection. I also used several coordinating prints for the facings and undercollar on the jacket. Sarah gave me some pointers while I was finishing my center back seam after putting on the invisible zipper. Sometimes I get a little bump or pimple area just below the invisible zipper in that slightly tricky area where you sew the seam to match the zipper insertion. Following her steps the seam came out spot on and perfect the first time! 

My last project for the workshop was the tailored in-seam pocket. I really like the tailored look of a nice inseam pocket and wanted to play with the possibility of incorporating it into my pants. I used David Page Coffin's book Making Trousers for Men and Women. I found the directions for the inseam pocket a little challenging to follow. I had to read and re-read the instructions a good 5 or 6 times before I could figure it out and once or twice I just tried what I though he was saying and hoped it would become clear as I was sewing it! I made a bunch of clarifying notes in my book so that if/when I go back to try it again it will make better sense to me... hopefully. In the end the pocket was a failure. The construction came out just fine but the style of pocket and where it hits on my hip just gave us all a good chuckle!! It is a possibility to be used on an A-line skirt. However, there are easier ways to make an inseam pocket that are less tailored that would suit my purposes. I found this to be a very interesting exercise!
Photos of the tailored inseam pocket and why it will not work on my body! Too much of a hip curve for the pocket to lay nicely.
To complete this exercise I cut out pieces in muslin and scraps that I could play with and not worry about messing up my good pants fabric.I can now check tailored in-seam pockets of my list of pocket choices for pants and move on to trying other styles like slash and welt pockets.

As a group, we also learned about drafting parallel darts. This was fascinating to me for 2 reasons. One due to my shape of very forward breasts, I have a large dart intake and in some fabrics this produces that point and not the very smooth curve in the fabric that I desire. The second reason is that I really love the design aspects that come into play!

Another workshop participant was working on a darted shirt pattern and she also had a very large dart intake. Sarah used this opportunity to show any who wanted to learn the process of taking that single dart and turning it into 2 parallel darts. 
Drafting parallel darts via Sarah Veblen method!
The basic process was actually quite logical once shown. A line is drawn down either side of the outside dart legs anywhere from 1/4 to 1.2 inch depending on how far apart you want the darts to be. Remove the dart intake, then cut down these lines and over to but not through the dart end. Slide the 2 lines together and the remaining openings are the your new darts intakes split into 2! From here you can decide if you want the dart intakes to be even, or have one larger/longer/shorter than the other. so very cool!!

This was a VERY Successful workshop for me! 

I have signed up for the 4 month Mentorship program with Sarah Veblen starting in July and am very excited to see how much I learn and grow!

Happy Sewing!
At the church with Princess Victoria prior to her baptism!

Friday, June 24, 2016

In The Sketchbook- June 2016

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.

For June 2016 I played with several different ideas to further my sketching. Some of these were purely to work on perfecting my drawing/sketching techniques. Earlier this year I signed up for the Craftsy class Drawing Fashion Flats with Laura Volpintesta. It took me a while to get into this class... Mostly because sketching used to be very intimidating and frustrating to me! Now I am a full on convert and love doing. With help form this video class I was better able to get my ideas onto paper.

Playing with different details in my sketching from the Craftsy class Drawing Fashion flats.
1.dress with pleats and different bodice constructions 2.tunic with different types of fullness and 3. bodices with different necklines.

This month I also experimented with drawing on different mediums. I travel frequently for work and carting along a clipboard and a roll of tracing paper is not the most convenient. I took stock of the various drawing pads that I have collected over the years and found one that works great for airplane travel. It is a Canson sketch pad, 5.5x8.5 inch 50lb paper pad. I reduced my croquis by 20% and copied it onto a piece of cardstock, cut the cardstock to fit the sketch pad. I then use a small binder clip to clip the croquis to the back of the page and then I can sketch using the outline. There are some pros and cons to this method.Pros: - I can slip the small pad right into my larger purse and pull it out on the airplane or in the terminal and sketch away.- the paper is thicker so it makes erasing easier.Cons- it is much thicker paper, therefore you cannot play with layering of details like you can on tracing paper.
More playing with details on blouses. The lower blouse is a depiction of the CG T-2025 blouse I am working on. The drawing on the right shows a sketch in progress with the croquis clipped behind it on the Canson 50lb paper.

I also worked on playing with sketching out multiple iterations of the same type of design. I find that this challenges me to think outside of my design box. I did this with several ideas in the following 4 sketch photos. I really likes playing with these and I think this is something that I will continue to explore.
Dress with asymmetrical collar- 2 iterations

Playing with peplum ideas! 3 Iterations. 1- blouse with built in soft peplum, 2-Jacket with folded longer peplum 3- asymmetrical zip closed jacket with attached defined peplum.

Jacket ideas- 4 iterations. Lots of ideas! symmetrical and asymmetrical closures and collars, neckline shapes, collar shapes, pockets, design lines and several skirt designs.

These were 2 different designs for a long evening/opera coat.

This month I also paired some fabrics with my drawings. I have quite a collection of fabrics that I don't always know what to do with. Pulling fabrics lets me not only play with ideas of the design but lets me see it in a fabric or fabric combination.
2 designs that I paired with fabrics from my collection.

Another very useful tool is the ability to plan and create an outfit or accompanying design. In the example below the Jacket is a garment that I just finished. I wanted to pair a skirt with it and by drawing out the designs I could really get a feel of the different designs and make a decision based on silhouette and the occasion. In this example I am wearing this jacket for my granddaughter's baptism and 2nd birthday so ease of movement and a softer silhouette is quite appropriate with the softer a-line skirt in the center. However, I really like how the pencil skirt takes this look into a much more business like look and will probably also make a pencil skirt to go along with it as well.
Use of the croquis and sketching to audition different silhouettes and designs. Using tracing paper lets me use a single drawing of the jacket and play with different skirt ideas.

In  my last example of June I show how you can get ideas out of your head and onto paper! I am an avid outdoor walker/hiker. I love to spend time hiking in the nearby arboretum and county trails. Sometimes I feel like a total schelp in workout clothes or track pants and a t-shirt. Workout clothes are fine if I am doing interval work and/or interspersing body weight exercises while power walking. However, on my long hikes it would be nice to wear clothing that fits nicely, looks great and is customized to my needs. The collage below shows 4 garments. My criteria: sun protection, bug protection, lots of pockets, breathability and some warmth for during spring and fall and cooler times of the day.

  • One long sleeve button up shirt made out of UPF 50 nylon breathable wicking fabric.
  • Two different pairs of pants. 1 with gathered ankles, slant zipper pockets and possibly hip cargo pockets. The other with slash pockets and 2 zip hip pockets and the ability to be rolled up and secured to go through water, etc..
  • The fourth garment is a vest constructed in similar way to a french jacket. Wool boucle outer fabric with a nylon wicking lining or a silk lining, Built in belt, outer patch pockets and interior zipped pocket for license/credit card/money. 
I ordered swatch samples of appropriate fabrics for constructions and plan on taking this idea further and hopefully to fruition!
4-piece outdoor hiking mini-collection. Sketched on tracing paper to be able to layer and play with details.

Wendy and I would love to have this feature grow into a link-up with other sewing bloggers. If you are interested in joining in this creative adventure or just want to share what you have been designing  please leave a comment to this post. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

The saga of the Cynthia Guffey shirt T-2025! A Work In Progress!

This shirt really is a saga, an epic journey of the many muslin kind! At one point I was really ready to give up and throw in the proverbial towel or in this case wad up the millionth muslin, throw it in the can, recycle the pattern and forget the damn thing ever existed. Except i'm darn sure that this thing would have come back to haunt me... in a stray thought, in a dream or more likely a nightmare, in a photo in a magazine when I least expected it. There would be my shirt with it's coveted shirred sleeves and beautiful style lines staring back at me and mocking me.

Well! I sure do have a great imagination! LOL! It was more like sheer determination on my part to succeed in making this shirt. I hate giving up!

I first saw this shirt made up and on display at Cynthia Guffey's booth at the Original Quilt and Sewing Expo in Chicago a couple of years ago. something about it really enamored me and I shelled out the $18 for it. (you can find her patterns on her website) I don't recommend her patterns for beginners, the directions are not always the easiest to follow. However, she has some really interesting designs and details and I have made a couple of her other patterns and have liked them and gotten many good comments on them.

I ended up making 5 muslins for this shirt! This included redrafting the entire sleeve, armhole, upper side front and upper side back to fit me perfectly. I don't have pictures of every muslin, only the ones where Sarah was helping me make changes. I think with every change that I made I was so determined to make the changes and move forward because I was darn sure each time that THIS change would be the one to make it perfect. Hah! what a lesson I learned.  I'm also pretty sure that I would not have been able to get it quite to where it needed to be without the help of my mentor, Sarah Veblen. I would have gotten about 50% there and then thrown it all in the garbage!
Muslin number 3- Feb 2016

Muslin number 5- May 2016. You can see the huge improvement in fit particularly at the back armhole and sleeve.

The great part about making so many muslins on a tricky pattern is that by the time you get to the actual construction in fashion fabric you just nail it.
Muslin fitting in front of a mirror is an invaluable tool! Thanks to Wendy for taking pictures of the process.
To get a better idea of what the shirt is supposed to look like when completed, here is a picture of the line drawing for the pattern.
Line drawing from Cynthia Guffey T-2025

Here are comparison pictures of the original pattern pieces to the final pattern pieces that I have. The white paper is the original Cynthia Guffey patterns and the tissue papers are my adjusted pattern pieces.
Sleeve back on left and sleeve front on right.
Big difference in the Side back pieces!
Big difference as well for the side front pieces. Alot more shaping over the bust was added in.
Only small changes made to the front(shown) and back pieces to account for finessing the shaping.

One of the details that really drew me to this pattern was the shirring of the sleeves. Due to the large changes of the actual sleeve pattern I was not able to use the pattern piece that was included. At first I was at a loss as to how to re-create this shirred look that I really wanted. After conferring with my mentor, Sarah, I was off and running. Of course, once she explained it I was thinking to myself that I should have known that!

Here is a muslin sample of the sleeve front with the base sleeve and the shirred oversleeve assembled. I cant wait to make this shirt!!

Here is the in-process picture of developing the shirred overlay for the sleeve. This was done with the slash and spread method.

Here are the shirred over- sleeve pattern, the base sleeve pattern  and my sample side by side.

I have several projects on my workstable at the moment! 2 dresses for my granddaughter, Princess Victoria, one for her baptism and one for her 2nd birthday party. An outfit for me to wear to the baptism, this Cynthia Guffey shirt plus another button down shirt with fitting darts. I'm hoping to have at this shirt sewn up in time for the ASG national conference in July!

Happy Sewing!
Princess Victoria enjoying her first piece of corn on the cob!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Summer Pants!! Border print rayon pants.

These pants are like wearing secret pajamas!! So soft, light and airy plus they make me feel like I am 6 feet tall.
Obviously I'm not 6 feet tall, nor do I have 'sky high' legs, but I really like the look of these pants!

The concept of these pants were born out of the need for having and sharing border print garments and fabric at our upcoming June Sew Chicago ASG neighborhood group meeting. Of course, I didn't update my calendar and ended up with a conflict for book club on the same date. Book club won out since it is my turn to host.
My fabric with 2 selections of reds from my stash. I was thinking of making a red tank top to pair with these pants for a second look. But which red??? They both go well!

Back to my border print. I had several yards of this border print and just wasn't sure exactly what to do with it. I had several ideas including a shirt dress or a kimono type garment with the border as the banded edge. I pinned the fabric on my dress form in several different directions and left it for a couple days each time. I really like how it looked when the border was all the way to the floor! I didn't want to make a full skirt, those can sometimes make me feel dowdy and I currently have a couple summer maxi skirts in my wardrobe. So the light bulb went off and I saw a pair of wide legged soft, flowy, long pants in my mind that made my legs look 6 feet long! Like a supermodel!LOL!!
Fabric in various drapes on the dressform. I really liked the center pants idea! However, I do have enough leftover to give the kimono look  a try... I'll add it to my list of ever growing ideas to be accomplished!
First thing I had to do was check that I could cut these on the cross grain to put that border at my lower leg and have enough fabric to actually accomplish this. Well... it was so close!! I had to lower my waist by up to 3/4 of an inch at the sides and back to make it work. Since I wear my pants pretty close to my natural waist this worked out just fine.

Once I determined that I could logistically do what I wanted I laid out my master Eureka Pants that Fit pattern on the fabric and carefully marked where the border print started and transferred this to both the fronts and backs so they would line up perfectly. I also wanted these to be wide legged pants so I changed the leg shape by widening to the hemline. To do this I pinned the front and back pattern pieces to the fabric, determined where the widest point was on the side seam, at my lower hip and drew with a chakoner chalk wheel straight down to the hemline. On the inseam I chose a point several inches below the crotch point and did the same thing. This worked great!! Only bad thing about doing it this way is that I do not have a hard copy of the pattern to duplicate if I want the exact same pants. I may have made a paper pattern and muslin If i had a limited amount of fabric to work with. I had 4 or five yards of this fabric so I figured if it did not work out I still had plenty of additional fabric to play with!

I really love having a master pants pattern that I can change up and make many designs off of! No having to re-fit pants every time I want a new design :)

back, front, side views
I have also been wanting to try out using a petersham waist finish instead of a waistband or facing. A techniques that has been on my mind to try for a while. I even had enough 1.5 inch wide petersham ribbon that I purchased from Soutache sitting in my arsenal and ready to be used. To use the petersham I sewed it right sides together using a 3/8 " SA to the fashion fabric, turned it to the inside, steamed it into shape over a pressing ham and slip stitched it into place. Worked like a charm and is very comfortable. Certainly would not do this for a garment that needed more support. However, the Petersham waist finish paired quite well with the lightweight drapey rayon fabric and I was happy that I got to try it out.
1 1/2" wide petersham 

Petersham waist facing 
My normal go to for pants zippers is a lapped application but for these the fabric and the lightness of the entire design called out for an invisible zip. I don't use these too often for center back pants zippers because I like a more secure closure, but in this case it worked out perfect'y!
Invisible zipper at center back

I hemmed these pants long to specifically be worn with a higher pair of black platform wedge sandals that I have in my shoe closet. I normally hem things to be worn with flats but having these hemmed long for a higher pair of shoes makes them feel special and adds to the length illusion of my legs!
I have several black tops in my wardrobe that these pair well with for a fun summer ensemble. My favorite is this black sleeveless knit top with ruffles that my daughter gave to me a couple years ago as a gift. I have already worn these several times! Out to dinner with friends, at design class in Baltimore and for a day of airline travel for work and they have been fantastic. A winner of a garment!
Hopefully the neighbors weren't watching me bust out a move while taking selfies!

Happy Sewing!
Happiness is playing ball on the lawn with Princess Victoria :)


Monday, June 6, 2016

Draped/cowl Necklines and perfecting armholes! Summer Sewing

Last month we had a couple days of quite warm weather for spring in Chicago. As I went to grab for some of my warm weather clothes I quickly realized that my supply of well fitting clothes were rapidly dwindling. I tried on a couple of tops and they were just swimming on me! A couple of them I decided that I could probably easily make adjustments too so they will fit. However, the majority were just too much work to try to redo. These went into the donate pile! (In fact I ended up going through my entire wardrobe and collecting quite a few garments to go to the donation center.)

I decided I need to make several new tops. I also needed to re-make a good TNT knit draped cowl neck top. I like having a drape necked top in my wardrobe. It adds a little interest and softness. The thing to be careful of is that depending on the knit fabric choice the drape can be quite different! 

Top #1
 I started with the knit snakeskin cotton/Lycra. 
This top started with some adjustments to the garment width to take into account my weight loss. I first made this up with no sleeves to see how well the armhole would fit on me. It needed some fairly good changes. From this muslin I made several changes to the pattern; scooped out the back armhole, added height to the lower armhole and flattened it out, as well as adding ever so slightly to the front armhole. 
Since I had the sleeves already cut out I decided to put them in to see how well they fit. The entire fit is okay. Good enough for a wearable muslin for the summer. You can see in the photos of me wearing it how the armhole is just not right.
A great summer top but changes were needed in the armhole!
To make the changes, I literally stand in front of the mirror with my small clear ruler and measure with top on with no sleeves in. I measure from the cut edge to where I think the armhole should be and make the changes to the pattern. Sometimes I will also place a couple of pins and/or masking tape to mark areas. This took me a while to feel comfortable doing this and feeling like what I was doing was correct. All I had to lose was my time and maybe a bit of frustration... Using muslins and making several mockups is such a valuable tool to try out changes.

Top #2
Once I made the changes to the pattern (which also included a change to the depth of the drape) , I cut out a second top from a fabric remnant to make a sleeveless version to really test out the armhole fit. I love how the changes worked out. This knit is a bit beefier, spongier and heavier so when the neckline was draped the double weight was pulling to low for me so I added the tucks to the upper neckline. Win-win for me!!! This make it work moment gives the neckline a lovely interesting design detail. I played with pinning up the fullness to see how much I would need to change and ended up liking how the tucks looked pinned in. 

This is the same bodice pattern pieces as top#1 but with the armhole changes. I really liked the changes but since I did not have enough fabric for sleeves this became a sleeveless summer top!

These 2 photos on the dress form show the tucked drapes on either side of the neckline.

Top #3 
This fabric is a very lightweight poly/Lycra knit from a 1 yard remnant.  Perfect bright and fun summer top.The last top I made was to make changes to the actual sleeve. I used Sarah Veblen's technique described in her book The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting to give the sleeve more room and shape yet still fit in the perfected armhole. For this sleeve I split it into 2 down the center line and then walked each pattern, marking the shoulder point and just added the amount of ease that I wanted. My first try resulted in a  seam that stuck out to much for the look I was going for. I flattened the outer seam curve quite a bit to make it fit nicely. The second try on the sleeve, which you can see here, is much better. Not quite perfect but much better. 

I am done with this pattern for a while. I will probably pull it back out in the fall to make several 3/4 and long sleeve versions and at that time I will perfect the 2 piece sleeve.
The armhole fit on this top is so much better than the first one! You can see in the pictures where the upper bust area meets the sleeve how much better it looks and feels.
Side by side comparison!

My Last draped garment is the Colette Myrtle

The last draped neckline garment I made was a Colette Myrtle dress. I wanted another easy knit dress pattern to add to my Appleton knit wrap dress pattern.
This is the same fabric as my first top above. A very soft, light-mid weight cotton/Lycra knit in a snakeskin print from my stash. 
This is a sleeveless dress and very easy to make with a cute shoulder sleeve detail.
Likes: the armhole fits well. The shoulder detail. Inseam pocket. The front bodice is a double layer. The elastic waist is cute and comfortable. Perfect length. ( I used the longer length) 
Dislikes: the draped neckline is slightly deep. I just have to be careful when bending over or reaching down to get something from a bag. I will change the pattern for the next time I make it.

Fun, comfortable, cute summer knit dress!
Shoulder detail. I put this on so that it could be used as not just a detail but also as a bra strap keeper!

Love the inseam pockets!

I have to be honest. I originally didn't like this dress too much. Not sure why, maybe I thought it was too simple and too casual. But, it has grown on me and I find myself reaching for it quite often! This dress will be great on its own when the weather gets very warm and with a cardigan for spring/fall weather.

With this dress addition, I am done with draped necklines for a while! time to play with some other styles. 

Happy Sewing!
Me, My daughter, Melissa and my granddaughter, Princess Victoria enjoying time together at the Morton Arboretum.

Happy Sewing!