Friday, February 24, 2017

In The Sketchbook- February 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.

As usual February always seems to fly by for me!I have several blog posts in the draft stage that will hopefully be coming out soon. These include my fabulous Sewcial retreat weekend in Novi, Michigan as well as some finished garment reviews.

This month I have mostly been working on sketching out a garment collection for my summer trip to Norway and the Netherlands. I have identified the color palette and have pulled a generous selection of fabrics from my collection to choose from. Now I am onto the sketching and planning phase. Most of these garments are going to be knits and should be easier projects. This will be nice to intersperse with my heavy duty HCCC fashion show projects, give my brain a place to relax and still get some fun sewing done!

So far these are the 2 pages of sketches that I have done for my summer wardrobe. One for some tops and one for some dresses. These were all done with combinations of regular pencil, colored pencil and markers.  I have these hanging on a board right next to my sewing station. Having these close at hand keeps it fresh in my mind and excited to see the final outcomes!



I am looking at an overall color palette of blues/greens with blacks and small portions of white accents. I have enough fabrics to make a garment collection to travel with for probably 3 or more months! never mind just the 2 weeks that I need. So I will be making more than I need and then deciding on what to bring once I get closer to the trip.

For the base layer tops I have 3 distinct silhouettes in mind.

1. Button down both short and long sleeved. In this example I would like to do a long sleeve and am thinking of drafting a tab and button so that I can roll the sleeves up to just below the elbow and secure. This is a real U shaped neckline that I really have been wanting to play with. The fabric is a lovely cotton print shirting from Fishmans in Chicago. As you can see I only drew the fabric detailing on the shirt fronts and left the rest a solid so that I can see details.

2. Jen Stern The Tee pattern. In various sleeve lengths, neckline variations and fabric pairings. This is a nice versatile pattern that adds a little more interest than just a plain tee.
The first one is a solid blue bamboo/lycra knit from Mood. I want to make this 3/4 length sleeve and a crossover neck. Great for layering or on it's own.

The second one below is a mix of a poly/lycra ITY and a poly/lycra netting. The sleeves will be long and the neckline will be the regular boatneck but finished with either foldover elastic or stretch piping. The upper back piece will also be the netting... I think! The original fabric pairings that I was thinking of using and what is depicted in the sketch just did not gel and sort of stuck out like a sore thumb from the rest of the fabrics I am thinking of using. SO, I decided to go with the fabric pictured below, both were purchased from Fabrications in Richland, MI.

The fourth base layer top I have in mind is a simpler style. Something like the Cashmerette Concord Tee. A very simple base layer that can be made in different lengths and variations of both sleeve lengths and shapes and neckline shape. Once you have a base pattern it is so easy to make modifications and changes to the look.  This one is shown with an amazingly soft rayon scubish fabric. It has a lovely drape, the colors are perfect and the rayon knit means it won't be quite so hot as a regular scuba knit.! I acquired this fabric from Emmaonesock.

The dresses I have planned on consist of one knit wrap dress and  one button up shirt dress. The wrap dress will be an easy make since I have a perfected Cashmerette Appleton pattern with variations of sleeves and skirt shape all ready to go! Even though I am only going to bring one of these on vacation I will probably make 2 and then decide which I like better. I have the fabric on the left which is a black/dark blue blobby lines which I tried to depict in the sketch! This fabric is from Marcy Tilton. The second fabric is a lighter weight scuba in a much lighter color palette of off whites/blues and blacks, this is from Habermans in Royal Oak , Michigan. Both are quite lovely. I do suspect that the scuba will be warmer than the dark blue/black fabric which may or may not work to my advantage depending on the weather forecast.

The second dress is one of my own design. A shirt dress using my button down shirt pattern with my a-line flippy skirt added to it. I have 2 lovely fabrics that I think I may want to try this out on. Both are rayon. One is a chambray denim rayon from Mood and the other is a lovely Cotton and Steele Japanese rayon that I purchased from a local shop that closed up. I will have to do some wrinkle testing on both of these fabrics to see which I want to use. Or maybe I'll make both!

One other project that I am working on is a top for my long zipper pencil skirt that I made in the fall. I have one top that goes well with it and nothing else! I want to be able to pair it with something else to make it a more versatile item of clothing in my closet. My idea is to make a peplum type shirt to go over it in this beautiful Liberty cotton lawn and then to pair a menswear inspired vest or waistcoat in the same fabric as the skirt and of course add some zipper detail as a pocket and maybe as the closure. It is not the easiest to picture, so I did the sketching layers. I think what is throwing me off is that my croqui is from a heavier me and my hips are not quote that wide proportionately as I currently am. I will have to play with the vest idea some more. I'm not entirely in love with the pointed fronts, although it does give some interest instead of just cutting across me with a straight line.

Make sure to stop by Wendy Grossman of Couture Counsellor to see what lovely sketches and ideas she is working on. I happen to know that she has been exploring ways to do digital sketching, it is very cool!  Please feel free to share your sketches and ideas, leave either of us a comment or just link back to one of our posts.

Happy Sketching!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Evolution to my ultimate Athleisure dress; Variations of V1336

One of my absolute favorite parts about the entire process of sewing is being able to customize the garments that I sew for me. I can not only make fitting changes to a pattern that I may like or that inspires me but I can change fabric type, design details and in this post you can see that I have really changed the pattern from where it started from to what I have made it into! Its a fun process to take something and re-make it into different versions. I can wear 2 different versions of this dress on back to back days and no one would even be able to tell that they were from the same base pattern.
My latest 3 versions of Vogue 1336
Left: Ponte color blocking with 2 prints
Middle: Sweater knit muslin with hood
Right: Final product! 

You can find the pattern here and the link to my previous blog post on this dress here from December 2015
I have probably shortened this dress by at least 5 inches. The model on the pattern front must by 6 feet tall! The pattern front shows this dress coming to the knee. When I made this pattern the first time it came to lower calf length and I am 5'5". So beware of the length if you decide to make this.

My first iteration on this go around was strictly to get fit correct and to get a dress that I could wear for work meetings/dinner obligations etc. I based the fit of this dress off of one of the old dresses that I had taken in.It is not perfect but for a ponte dress it certainly works well! The fabric I used is from my collection and is from an online source. I have had it for several years so most likely it is going to be a mostly polyester ponte which means that eventually there will be pilling and wear on the fabric. I'm ok with that since in my mind this is a wearable muslin.
 I made several changes from my original dresses. I changed the neckline back into a V, still different then the original dress. I just felt that I had to for 2 reasons. The first was that this fabric is all angles and a V neck suited it better and the second was that I knew I wanted a V-neck to play with attaching a hood for my final version. I also took quite a bit in at the side seams and 1/2 inch off of the middle lower color blocked seams to keep the basic perspective of the color blocking intact.
Such serious looks on my face! LOL!

Once I got the fit pretty close with the ponte version I moved to a mock up of the athleisure version that I had sketched. I choose a sweater knit from my collection that was purchased from one of JoAnn's super sales. It was in the clearance section and it was 50% off that price. It was pretty much the closest thing that I could find to my real fabric that I wouldn't care about if it was a total fail! The fabric is cute but not a high quality at all. FOr this version I opted to overlay the top portions and the bottom portions so that I essentially only have a waist seam, side seams and the lower band. No need to use the color blocking layout on this one.

To draft the hood I pulled a hoodie pattern from my collection and used that basic shape. On this version I have the hood attaching half way down the V with the lower V finished off with a small band. It is not bad... not good either! The hood was way too big all over and the placement on the V made it so that it just didn't feel right. The hood kept feeling like it was pulling the entire dress back and that as the day wore on I feel like it creeps up my neck towards my throat. 
Wearable mock-up of the dress with hood down.

Wearable mockup with the hood up... Hood is way too big and wide!

In the final version, at least for now, I redrafted the hood to have less volume overall and so that it attached at the center of the V neck. Oh! I like this version so much better!!! To highlight the seaming I made a flat piping of the green knit and inserted it in all the blocking seams. 

Knowing that my final knit fabric was likely to stretch slightly in length just due to it's properties I folded out an additional one inch in length. Ideally I would have liked it about another inch shorter. The best thing about this adventure is that in the end this is exactly what I had in mind!
Hood down. The dark grey multi color flecked sweater knit is from Emma One Sock and the green is a bamboo knit end cut from Smugglers Daughter.

Hood up :) Of course I should have looked in the mirror first to make sure my hood was on perfect but... oh well!
Hood in progress sitting on my hat form. I cut the grey knit to the size I wanted and the green bamboo knit to be 1.25 inches larger at the face edge so that I could sew it right sides together and then wrap the lightweight green bamboo knit around and make this nice 5/8 inch edging. I then stitched in the ditch along this edges to make it a permanent feature.

In this comparison photo you can really see the difference in the hoods. The top left shows how the V neck is being pulled back by the hood since it only attaches partway down the V.  Top right shows how I attached the hood directly into the lowest part of the V. Much more stable application and does not pull the neckline back.
The bottom photos show how much I reduced the overall hood size as well as reshaped the front. The hood on the left is very baggy with too much fabric and when it is all the way on the front portion comes down quite a bit resembling more of a Jedi hood than my cool athleisure look!you can see on the right the hood is on all the way and the look is much more streamlined!
So, the question remains as to whether I will make this dress again... probably, maybe at some time. It can always be made without the sleeves for a summer version. The only additional changes I may make to this pattern is to move the shoulder line forward a bit. But let's be realistic, that is being nitpicky! I could always chop off about a foot or so and turn it into a tunic top as well.

Happy Sewing!