Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Cover Designs 20!: Arctic Fury

Cover Designs is a feature in which I try to match up the outfit on a book cover with a dress pattern and sometimes even potential fabric matches as well.

In 1853, trail guide Virginia Reeve is offered an extraordinary opportunity - to lead an all-woman expedition to the Arctic in search of the missing Franklin expedition. Each woman on the team has been chosen for her specific skills, but that doesn't mean that they'll all survive.

Moving back and forth between the expedition and Virginia's trial in Boston when she returns without some of the women, the book looks at what happens in extreme circumstances when women are tested to their utmost. 

This cover is lovely, though hardly Arctic weather appropriate -- no gloves? No hat, no scarf, no face covering? A blouse under a pretty cape? Not going to keep you alive long! 

Nonetheless, in our non-Arctic weather a cape like this might be just the thing to top a pretty outfit. To make this, you'd want to choose a sturdy wool and find some faux fur trim to stitch along the edges. 

Try using the Fairy Tale Cape from This Blog Is Not For You (we don't know what the front of this woman's cape looks like, do we?) It would just need the hip length view, with perhaps a little added to the back for the high-low view of our cover image, and some trim attached. 

Use a grey melton wool like this one from the MacPhee Workshop, and search for some applicable faux fur trim from the choices on Etsy, and you could get a great copy! 

Or try this multi-view pattern, McCalls 7202. View B is exactly right with the hip length and hood options; there are even pockets on the front for the cover lady to stick her freezing cold hands into!

With some luscious dark grey boiled wool from Simplifi Fabrics (and again some nice trim) you'd get a cozy cape to wear on a snowy day. 

Whichever you choose, I hope that you'll also add some proper winter accessories if you're going out in frigid weather! 

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Weekend Review: Making Designer Trims


Couture Sewing: Making Designer Trims / Claire B. Shaeffer
Newton, CT: Taunton Press, c2017.
144 p.

This is a wonderful book, which I fortunately got my hands on via Interlibrary Loan. So inspiring! It's one of the titles in the Couture Sewing series by acknowledged expert and Chanel collector Claire B. Shaeffer. (If you haven't heard her talk about her collections, check out this podcast by Threads).

This book is full of great information on making and applying trims to that Chanel style jacket you've just spent so long working on. Rouleau loops, piping, ribbon, self fabric fringe or selvage piping, insertions, embroidered edging; there is so much here to work with. Since it's couture focused, most of the work on these trims is done by hand, and really seems like it needs to be to get a good result. Quick weekend projects these are not. 

Personally speaking, I'm not likely to sew up a couture jacket any time soon, but the ideas here are so beautiful and interesting. I can already think of many other ways to use these ideas on simpler projects, and dress up a plain silhouette with something that is already at hand. One thing to note is that this book is about using ready made trim for the most part -- ribbons, gimp, self fabric strips etc -- and not creating your own trim from scratch, ie: braiding, weaving etc. 

If this is something that appeals to you, this book will definitely give you some ideas, and some specific techniques for applying the trim and finishing the edges cleanly and so on. And there is also a gallery of Chanel pieces at the end of the book to get a good look at many of these options in person, so to speak. Really lovely to look through, like the rest of Claire Shaeffer's books. 

I really love that faced cuff on the back of the book!

Friday, January 15, 2021

Burda Darted Blouse, in a floral extravaganza

This lovely floral blouse (105-04-2018) is the final project in my Burdastyle Academy Advanced Teacher Certification Course. It's an interesting pattern, with lots of detail -- front darts, two piece sleeve with a gathered cuff, collar and stand, and so on. 

It was an interesting make, with lots of challenging bits. Nothing really super hard, but lots of steps. I enjoyed it! I used a floral cotton from my stash, one that I've had for a really long time, and was delighted to finally find the perfect project for this fabric. Not only that, there was a very amusing typo in the selvages that entertained me -- so I had to use it as a garment label. Shout out to my fellow peons! 

This cotton behaved very nicely, taking pressing well, so that the darts and seams all lay nice and neatly. I had to shorten the sleeves quite a lot (thanks to my T Rex arms) and took 1.25" off both the upper and lower sleeve bits. Fortunately, with the cuff, that made them just the right length for me. Whew! 

I didn't shorten the body, although I could probably take a bit off the bottom length. I do like it as it is, however. I cut the inner collar stand and the interior yoke out of a tiny scale yellow gingham, also in my stash -- partly for the vibrant contrast, and partly because I didn't have quite enough of the narrow width floral to cut a second yoke anyhow ;)

I had a bit of a quandry picking buttons, but decided (with the help of many voices on Instagram) to go with this blush tone floral button from the extensive stash of shirt buttons that my sister thrifted for me a couple of years ago. I'm set for shirt buttons for a while!

My Janome is a little quirky when it comes to its automatic buttonholes -- they sew up nicely, but always slightly bigger than necessary. I get around this but testing with a button slightly smaller than the one I'm going to use, and when I get a buttonhole I like, I go ahead. I only put one button on each cuff rather than two, mainly because it's a bigger button and two would have looked squished.

I was so glad to have the extra instruction in the class to finally get the Burda bias strip sleeve opening done properly. It's just a little fiddly with attaching a bias strip to finish the slit, and then turning one side in before attaching the cuff -- makes sense once you do it, but hard to understand beforehand. 

I love how this turned out. I am really pleased with the fit and love the print. It was so great to have this push to make a more detailed project. It was really satisfying to slowly work through each step and make sure it was done and pressed well, then on to the next. And also a joy to use some of the beautiful fabric in my stash that has been hidden away on the shelves for far too long. 

That's it for my Burda classes, but I've earmarked a whole stack of Burda patterns I would love to make this year now that I'm much more comfortable with their patterns. I find they usually fit me well, and I'm planning to make a dent in my Burda magazine stash. For now I'll just swan around happily in my faux-Liberty "Europeon" blouse! 

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Weekend Review: New Encyclopedia of Fashion Details

London: Batsford, c2008.
304 p.

Another book I really enjoying skimming through, this one is from my local library, and I've checked it out a couple of times over the last year or two. It is full of sketches of -- no surprise -- fashion details from across the 20th Century. 

It really is about 95% sketches, along with some introductory and explanatory notes scattered among the drawings. It's divided into sections like collars, waistlines, hems, sleeves, pockets, gathers, insets, draping and more. There are sketches of closeup details alongside full body outfits with colour added. It's really aimed at designers who need to sketch their ideas for presentations and so on, but I find it's very interesting for home designers as well. 

Looking at the details in each section, there is sometimes a representation of how the idea was used in the past, for example, draping in the 20s or 50s. But they are not period drawings, just sketches showing how that detail might have appeared in say, a flapper dress or a 50s bodice. The overall feeling of the book is late 80s/90s to me, despite the publication date. I quite like that, though. 

Even if the particular full outfits wouldn't appeal, just the number of design ideas shared here makes this book fascinating to look through. I can imagine using one detail to change up a pattern and add something a bit extra -- extending your own pattern collection or self drafting with neat little extras like piping, tucks, insertions, yokes, gathers or pleats, and so forth.

There is also some basic reference to the actual drawing itself - fashion figures in the beginning pages, some suggestions for guidelines and techniques to draw an even flounce or collar line, things like that. And sometimes for the full colour images, the type of paper and pens/pencils used is noted. 

Overall, I find this a fun book to flip through -- mostly for ideas to add to patterns in the past, and now also for some tips on drawing. I find the line drawings appealing and helpful to imagine new details in my sewing. Great book for when you just want to relax with some clothing ideas.

Friday, January 8, 2021

"Waist Knot" Burda knit dress

I'm working away on my Advanced BurdaStyle teaching course, and the first assignment was this dress with the special "Burda twist" feature at the waistline (Burda 101 01/18)

I used a lightweight polyknit from my stash that I bought ages and ages ago, and because it was so stretchy I could leave out the back zip. A more stable knit would require a zip as per pattern but I went with this stash fabric because it was handy. As my sister commented, it made this dress a real "Waist Knot, Want Not" outfit anyhow!

It was a fun challenge, although the air was a little more blue than green when I was trying to figure out that waist knot. You sew one folded piece, leaving a centre opening, thread the other one through and then sew it up. It's fiddly and requires a lot of fabric shifting to get it to work, then there's the zhushing of the twist once it's sewn together. Argh! But I got it to lay properly, and then basted it to the front. It's a great design, though, just narrower than the bodice piece so that when you wear it, it stretches to fit and doesn't sag. 

One thing I didn't think about was how the vertical stretch would lengthen the dress due to the weight of the fabric. The bodice is about 1/2" too long now, especially in the back -- I'd raise and widen the back waistline a smidge if I made it out of a fabric like this again. Or I'd just use a knit without this kind of vertical stretch. 

But I like the actual length of the skirt; this feels like a 30s tea dress to me now, like I should be swishing around doing the foxtrot or something. And surprisingly enough, I think the oversize flowers work. I wore a cropped orange cardigan with this in the same tone as the orange in the flower and it looked quite cheery and festively autumnal. I did wear the long sleeves pushed up all day though - must remember that I much, much prefer an elbow length and/or 3/4 sleeve over a full length one. 

The rest of this pattern was quite straightforward. I like the fit overall, even if the back waist is a bit too narrow for me. I hemmed skirt and sleeves, and finished the neckline, with a twin needle, something I finally learned how to do in this Burda course. I really like the effect and am going to try to keep using this finish when I can. 

This one is an unexpected hit for me -- I enjoyed making it and it was fun to wear, too. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Make Nine / Use Nine 2021

 It's the beginning of a new year, and time for a new sewing plan! I made a #20in20 plan for last year, but am not making a 21in21 for this year -- continuing that trajectory could just get ridiculous ;) 

Last year I ended making 5/10 of the patterns I'd picked, and using 4/10 of the fabrics. Not too bad, it did help to have them written out like this. 

I'm moving back to the basic #MakeNine this year, and adding in a #UseNine as well. Just like last year, these are aspirational lists; I'm not holding myself to anything! I'm really a mood sewist, just like I'm a mood reader, so these lists are fun to make but not rigid at all, or I will get sewing block pretty quickly. I know myself. 

Anyhow, my list for 2021 of nine great patterns from my extensive stash that I'd like to make this year are as follows:

This is a simple dress that is just the style I like wearing in summer. I have tons of lightweight cotton and some linen that might all work with this one.

Another perfectly simple silhouette for an easier make -- and Itch to Stitch is always reliable with drafting and fit, so I know that I'll like this one. Even has a boxy top view as well!

Skirt suits are appealing to me right now, and I think this pattern is just what I'm looking for. I'm planning on a classic matchy matchy outfit here. 

I like the short sleeve, short length view -- this is essentially a well-fitted shift dress with a faux button placket stitched on. I think if I could get this fitted well it could serve as the basis for many variations.

I like the look of this one, if I can get the fitting right -- petite-ing a dress with all the detail in the hem area can be a bit tricky but I'm willing to give it a go.

I love the silhouette and the cool pockets and I saw someone on Instagram make a dress version which is also tempting. I've liked the patterns I've tried from this company previously so this is next up.

This one was on my list for 2020 but I didn't get to it. I still really want to make it so I'm carrying it forward! 

Another great pick for a blazer -- this one has 3 great views, plus a flippy skirt. I like all 3 versions of the jacket, just have to choose one to try out this year.

Another item from last year that I didn't get to but am carrying forward, mostly because I want to wear it while jumpers are still in fashion, plus, I have a great wide-wale blue corduroy I want to use for this. 

Next up, the 9 fabrics I want to use this year -- some a few years old, some quite recent. This may be matched with some of the patterns above, or they may not. It all depends what I am feeling! 

L to R: checkered cotton canvas (lightweight), reddish wool blend houndstooth (thrifted),
wool blend b&w houndstooth with faint gold sparkle

L to R: crinkle polycotton floral, gorgeous tropical print rayon,
vintage poly blend faille (thrifted)

L to R: rayon abstract alphabet print, rayon knit, poly blend knit with faint houndstoothy vibe

There are also a couple of alphabet prints that I'd put on my list for 2020 that I haven't gotten to yet but really want to make up this year. Text based print, houndstooth and dark florals -- all my favourites for this year! Plus green, I'm really loving it right now. 

So that's my plan for this year. Let's see how long it is before I'm distracted and veer off this path ;) I also have at least 10 Burda magazine patterns I'd like to make, not to mention my vintage/retro stash... oh for more time! 

With all these plans it will be interesting to see what my stash looks like by the end of the year. Have you made sewing plans this year or are you planning to go with the flow? 

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Weekend Review: The Secrets of Fashion Drawing

The Secrets of Fashion Drawing / Noel Chapman & Judith Cheek
London: Arcturus, c2014
160 p.

One of my delightful Christmas gifts this year was a set of EXTCCT fashion rulers, seen first on @Julie_Eilber's instagram account and then put onto my list. A nice little gift came from my Mom -- these rulers and a tube turner set. Love the enabling! :) I've already tried out the rulers -- there's a torso, legs, and three complete body shapes; one with arms, one without and one with no head on it. You can basically make any outline you want. I did a few quick pencil sketches over one of the body outlines to get a feel for them, and had quite a bit of fun. It's like playing paper dolls again! 

Anyhow, playing around with these made me think about fashion drawing, which then reminded me that I had The Secrets of Fashion Drawing on my shelves, but had never really looked into it much. And I'm so glad I pulled it out, because it's really interesting! 

It's written by two fashion industry types from England - one an illustrator and one a lecturer. The book is aimed at fashion students or beginners who want to break into the fashion illustration world. Well, that is definitely not me, but this book has a lot more to offer the casual reader too. 

After a clear intro, the book moves on to essential equipment for an illustrator -- papers, pens, brushes etc. As a stationery freak, I really enjoyed this even though it's not my aim to become an illustrator. But then there is a 17 page chapter on fashion terminology, ranging from types of fabrics and notions to fashion terms relevant to professionals. This glossary is useful for sewists as well, and suitably, the pages are sprinkled with lovely little illustrations of things being described -- and throughout the book there are many, many examples of fashion drawings in all sorts of styles by different illustrators, which is charming and visually so satisfying. 

After that comes a 30 page chapter on colour. I loved this. First there are pages with a breakdown of colour meaning across from a full page spread of that colour in a mood board style image. Then a few pages on colour palettes, choosing a colour to work with for a collection, and the like. This was such fun to read. 

And then begins the drawing instruction itself. They give tips on life drawing, drawing directly from a garment, creating flats and floats, and then doing more of a finished fashion illustration. It really covers it all for anyone in the field. It does assume a fair bit of art knowledge but that's kind of their market. 

The rest of the book is examples of successful fashion drawings and illustrators as well as a fair bit of business advice for the fledgling fashion artist. I skipped over some of this, just reading bios and looking at work samples that are surprisingly different from one another and enjoyable to skim through. 

My interest in fashion drawing is piqued by this, and I think some of the suggestions might come in handy when I'm using my new rulers and trying out project ideas on the page prior to sewing anything up. Even if I don't use them for practical purposes, I find that drawing outfits is relaxing and fun, and I think I'll keep on doing it this year. This book gives me some inspiration both in the drawing area and in more general sewing plans - the discussion of colour and collections and fashion planning may just be helpful when building the sewing queue!