Friday, December 29, 2017

In the Sketchbook- December 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.

I can't believe that another year has gone by! So many changes have happened this year and I am really looking forward to just enjoying 2018 :)

Last month I posted some sketches of ideas for Opera ensembles. There was one that I just wasn't feeling the best about. It was like the idea was only partly formed in my head. This was the design.

I had a very thoughtful comment from Carolyn:

 Carolyn F.December 8, 2017 at 9:59 PMI really enjoy seeing your monthly sketches and saw this group the other day. I may be going out on a limb here but I've been thinking about the third one - the "flowering bud". You mentioned in the post that it feels a little disconnected between the upper and lower halves. It seems to me that the sleeves, bodice, and top layer of the skirt (or possibly this is all a jacket?) are symmetrical and mostly angular whereas the bottom layers (a skirt?) are asymmetrical and curved. Could that be what makes it feel a little disconnected? What if you placed the button up higher - more towards the left shoulder, rather than at the waist or under bust - carrying that upper line out more in a curve and making it asymmetrical. Then make the lines of all the layers, top part and skirt part, parallel for each layer. Maybe use a small funnel type or raised neckline in the back or use the neckline of the fourth drawing with the soft folded collar. It would continue your flowering bud theme. The cuffs on the sleeves seem a little heavy feeling also. These are just my thoughts since it has kind of stuck in my head after seeing your designs and reading your commentary. The fabrics sound wonderful and I look forward to seeing your finished garments.

The new design that I drew is somewhat tortured... I drew and erased and drew and erased and rinse and repeat several more times! the lines just kept getting away from me. I decided to stop at the point where I was wanting to take the entire thing in a totally different direction! You can clearly see all the graphite smudges. his idea is still in my head and I will have to work on it again after I let it all settle down and my brain can work on it subconsciously.

In my last post I mentioned that I was headed off to Europe for the week and a half prior to Christmas. I had such a wonderful time!! It was relaxing and fun and educational and just nice to see where my days took me. I was hoping to spend some time sketching but I did not get to it as much as I wanted. Mainly because I spent a lot of time outdoors and everyone in London and the Netherlands were wearing coats. I was able to capture the looks of 2 very different ladies at afternoon tea in the posh hotel I was at. 
The first was very simple, lovely and elegant dress and was very similar to a Balenciaga dress that I had seen at the V&A museum earlier that day. This is the only one that I added color to as well!

The Balenciaga version is silk Gazar with cut on sleeves. It also has a bit more of a dropped waist and overall was longer.

The second was a bit of a mash up of all the latest trends all in one! Right down to the giant hairy boots. Pants with articulated knees and 'holes' (which I left out of my sketch) and skirt over it and then a double tee. It was all just a bit much.

These last 2 go back to my theme of Opera. I saw the Opera Passion, Power and Politics exhibit at the V&A and it was quite an experience! I really enjoyed it. 
The first of these 2 is inspired by both the Balenciaga exhibit and the Opera exhibit. And I have actually draped a loose form of this on my dressform.
You can see the general idea of the shape on my dressform. 

The second one is also inspired by the V&A museum. I was playing with some gender bending and taking what would have been a purely masculine dress ensemble and changed it to be for a more modern woman. Somehow it is a little punk-ish. and could totally go that way with the right textiles! Maybe a little cross between David Bowie and Prince??? Could be a fun theme to explore someday.

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!

Sending many Happy wishes for a wonderful New Year!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Show your Bias ensemble!

This year the Sew Chicago neighborhood group challenge for the ASG Chicago chapter annual fall luncheon and fashion show was about Showing our Bias! It was a really fun challenge and 4 of us from our Neighborhood group participated. See Sew Chicago blog post here.

For my outfit I knew I wanted something fun, semi fitted and a play off of men's clothing. I had some ideas in my head loosely based off of some previous garments. I put these on my dressform and made some sketches. Then I draped the 2 main fabrics, the yellow wool gaberdine and the grey and yellow wool super 120's plaid. Both of these fabrics were purchased at Fishman's Fabrics just down the road from me.

With the main fabrics decided upon for the skirt (grey and yellow plaid) and the vest (yellow gaberdine) I needed to soften and pull the entire look together with a top and lining for the vest. This was a hard one! I had several strong contenders from my fabric collection. Ultimately I decided to use a gift I received: a Spoonflower fabric inspired by Gustav Klimt called after Klimt woman green.

With Fabrics decided upon I set out to create my ensemble. I started with the skirt first. I used a combination of my master skirt pattern and ideas from Sandra Betzinas Sewing on the Bias Craftsy class. I watched class on one of my work trips, makes the flights go by much faster. Ultimately the only extra information that I got from the class was to use wider seam allowances. It was a good review of not expecting any 2 fabrics to behave the same on the bias and to remember to let the hem hang out for some time before hemming.

I used my straight skirt master pattern, added 1 1/2 inch seam allowances, cut them asymmetrically and used an elastic waist. This meant I did not sew in any of the waist shaping. After letting the hem hang out for a week or so I sewed on a faced hem using  black Grosgrain ribbon. I really wanted some weight to the hem so it would hang as I desired and I was able to shape the grosgrain as needed to the wide curves. I then lined it with Ambiance lining with a simple double fold hem.
To keep with my mes wear inspiration I added a yellow double welt front pocket to the skirt. Knowing that I was also going to do welt pockets on the vest, I decided to make a couple of samples to warm up my hands to the skill. Doing this may take some extra time but feeling the fabric exactly as you will be using it is an important step when I want the finished product to be as best as I can make it. You can see my process in these photos.

The vest came next and I used my darted master bodice pattern to start. This has 2 parallel bust darts that I kept, Back waist shaping fisheye darts that I used. I did ignore the front waist shaping fish eye darts for a little extra room. I cut the shoulders in a bit and matched the neckline curve to the neckline curve of the shirt I was planning to make. The yellow wool gaberdine was a bit fickle to press and mark since the gaberdine shows off every mark possible! I used tailors tacks to mark the darts and pocket placements. The welt pockets were then angled to match the angle of the parallel bust darts, with the welts made from bias strips of the skirt fabric.

 It was lined with the Spoonflower Klimt fabric and I used bias facings to finish the armholes. I added a back tab which was also cut from bias strips of the skirt fabric.

The buttons were ones that I picked up in NYC for another project... I had to use them they were perfect for this project! I was having a hard time deciding on how many buttons to use. I took photos of 5, 4 and 3 buttons pinned on to the vest and sent them to my sewing pals and consensus of 4 (which was my first choice as well) was the winner.

The shirt, out of the Spoonflower Klimt fabric, was a breeze to make! I used my master princess seam bodice. Made sure the curve of the neckline matched to the vest and changed the collar shape to have a more rounded appearance. Thee is a back zipper to accommodate entry and exit with the collar split in the back.

I wanted to make this soften the look so I lengthened the sleeves and just gathered them softly to a narrow bias binding and slit. To these I added the smallest of buttonholes and used matching buttons from the vest! It came out great and I love it! It is great in my Show Your Bias ensemble as well as being wonderful to wear on its own paired with jeans.

 This was a really fun project to design and construct. I am pleased with my ability to turn my ideas into reality. It doesn't seem to always work out so well. LOL! I guess the old adage of practice makes perfect really does work.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Holiday with your family and friends.. and the friends who are your family!
The Princess Victoria and I enjoying brunch on Christmas Eve and a very hilarious picture of her on the day after Christmas looking like a bedraggled aviator with her swim goggles on her head and enjoying the book I gave her with pictures of all the time we spent together over 2017.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A pair of Tremont Jackets

This is a fairly easy pattern from Linda Lee and The Sewing Workshop: The Tremont Jacket.. I usually find that I need to do too many pattern modifications to get a good fit for me for this type of garment.  However, I gave this one a go for a day long class at Sewcial 2017 winter workshops in Michigan and I ended up really liking it!

I needed to make a item for the ASG Chicago Chapter sewing challenge. The theme this year was all about sewing Green. I had this fun knit from Emma OneSock that fit the bill for the color and decided to sew it up for the challenge. My original plan was to make it reversible but i really did not like the look of it! To me it just looked like one side was the right and one side was the wrong... I have seen many garments made this way and worn reversible and I honestly never like how they look. 

At the same time as this was happening, my daughter asked if I could make her one as well. Due to her stature, I had to take some length out, as well as take it in in some areas. The longest part about sewing up her version was deciding how to place the plaid design. As you can see in the photo below I alternated the direction of the black and white stripes for the front.

Here are some additional details on the version I made for me. The front band is cut on and just turned and sewn. There is a side split and all the corners are mitered, making the inside nice and tidy and eliminating bulk.
I added a little bit of shaping at the side seams just to make it fit me better. I did not overdue it, otherwise I would have needed a bust dart and then the entire silhouette would have changed. 
Here it is on me... I have since changed the button to a black one- see the very first photo.  This green one just bothered me a bit, stuck out a bit too much on this side of the fabric. I also lowered the button a little bit. For this type of garment I really dont like the button to be right smack between my boobs! And that single green button was like a beacon...LOL!

In this last photo you can see the differences between the one I am wearing and the one for my daughter. The overlap is in the other direction and it is overall an inch and a half shorter.

I am thinking of futzing with the sleeves a bit. The folded back and tacked cuff is nice but in my textured knit is feels a little bulky. I will have to wear it a couple more times and maybe pick out the stitches tacking it up and seeing if I like less bulk. and the 3/4 length sleeve versus this half length.

The Princess and I spending time together! I took her to get a Christmas dress and shoes and we a great adventure together :) However... no Santa pictures! She wont touch that with a 10 foot pole!!

I am off on Holiday to London and The Netherlands so check my Instagram feed for holiday photos! You can find me on Instagram as Siouxzeegirl. 
Happy Sewing!!

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!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Polka Dot Cape - Vogue 8959

Several weeks ago the weather in Chicago went from 70 degrees to 35 in the space of several days and has stayed there! Brrrrrrrrrr!! With jackets, coats and capes on my mind...
Back view on my balcony

I saw this great fabric 'Mystery Spot Coating' on Marcy Tilton website and I just had to have it! It made smile and I kept going back to look at it. The first time I saw it, I immediately thought that would be a super FUN cape or cloak. That thought never left my mind :) So. I had to buy some of it!
I don't usually like to acquire fabrics that are Poly based. Partly because they tend to be hot and sticky and partly because they take an extremely long time to break down in landfills.

For a fun and quirky cape it fit the bill and I am keeping my fingers crossed that the fiber is high quality and that there is no pilling. Only time will tell!
Side view, I LOVE the silhouette of this cape!

Once I placed the order for the fabric I was thinking about drafting a cape from my master patterns. Lat minute I looked through my patterns and there was Vogue 8959 A very Easy Vogue pattern. Instead of drafting from scratch I just used this as a starting place. I made some changes in the fit and the length and in the interior design.
Front view

I dithered about whether or not to underline the cape with cotton flannel and decided that I wanted to keep this as a fall and spring garment. There is also plenty of room underneath to bundle up with a heavy sweater. I have worn this out several times and am quite comfortable until we hit down around the 30 degree mark with wind.

For the lining I used a cotton shirting that I had in my fabric closet and used this. It is a perfect complement to the cape and because it is not slippery it doesn't slide around on my shoulders and more importantly doesn't slide back and choke me! That really isn't a good feature of any type of clothing!
Clockwise from top left- Lining, action twirling shot :),
 Inside patch pocket and close up of the arm slits and trim.

Changes in fit:
1. I changed the shape of the shoulder at the side seams. Flattened them out a bit.
2. I moved the arm slits up about 2 inches to be more comfortable and put them in a more natural place for my body.
3. I changed the length to halfway-ish between the short and medium length. They must have made this very a very tall model!
Top are the zippered grosgrain welt pocket.
Bottom- patch pocket and arm slits

Design changes:
1. I added 2 interior pockets. 1 is a very simple patch pocket big enough to hold my small wallet or iPhone or tissues, etc... (BTW... I can easily wear a small cross body purse underneath with no problem and you dont even see it!)
2. An inside grosgrain welt zipper pocket for my transit card or cash or whatever needs to be held super safe and secure!
3. The lining. The pattern had the lining hanging loose. Which is quite ridiculous, In my opinion, for a cape such as this. So I lined it to the edge and am very happy with this decision.
4. I added trim. I used the very cool selvedge of the fabric for trim around the outer edge of the cape, the front opening and the collar.
5. I used 5 extra large covered snaps for a closure.the pattern calls for a single button for the longer versions. Maybe because they were trying to keep this as a Very Easy rating or maybe because they designer was not envisioning this being used to walk around a city in. Who knows! and frankly... who cares! I make it the way I want it.
Close up of trim, under collar and snaps.

This was a fairly easy project. Everything went together easily, I did not use the pattern instructions.
The longest part of this project was sewing on the darn trim! I purposely only sewed on half of the snaps so that I would not be tempted to just say to heck with the trim. The things we do to keep ourselves on track. I brought the project with me to the Sarah Veblen choose your own focus workshop last weekend and a couple of the evenings Sarah and I both sat and worked on hand sewing the trim together while we caught up with each other. It was such a pleasant time to sit and sew with such a great friend :)
One more shot... Just for fun!

I have enough fabric left over to make a coat for the Princess! She will look adorable in those giant hairy polka dots!

This weekends escapades took us to the Shedd Aquarium! Self groupie shot out front!