Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Jacket Is Done

First, let me say that this is the best fitting jacket I've ever owned. Ever! There is enough ease for me to wear a sweater underneath, yet it doesn't feel too big with only a simple knit top underneath. No drag lines anywhere, the sleeves are the perfect length, I love the color, and it's really, really warm. Remember what the original jacket looked like?

While mine looks nothing like the original, I still think it looks pretty darn good. The changes I made include: changing the sleeves to a two piece long sleeve taken from Simplicity 3672, size 20 and with the petite-able alterations. I changed the front dart to an armhole princess seam. I removed the front side under bust seam. I added a pocket to the front side panel. Then I added lots of contrast running stitches to make the design details obvious using pearl cotton thread.

While not as feminine as the original, it did turn out like I wanted it to. I was looking for a sport coat I could wear on the plane and kicking around NY City in March.

Because this pattern started out as a petite half-size pattern, I did very few alterations. That's very rare for me. No FBA, no petite alterations, no rounded back alterations. It did take me 3-1/2 muslins, but now I have the perfect fitting jacket pattern. Be still my heart.

The back fit looks just as good as the front fit does. While it doesn't look like it, the sleeve seam and the back princess seam do indeed line up. Just look at that smooth fit over my rounded hips, will you? I'm sure the shoulder pads are helping a bit here.

If you know anything about me, than you probably know that I hate hand stitching. For this garment, I had to "just get over it." And I did. I love the way the stitches make the seams and collar pop. My buttons match nicely and I'm pretty pleased with the sleeves too.

After my last muslin, I saw that the sleeve cap needed just a tiny bit of height. I then removed the height for the sleeve lining, which turned out to be the perfect thing to do. Except that then the sleeve wound up with these really ugly gathers on the back.

I had convinced myself that I could live with them since I plan on not being able to wear this jacket more than one season because I'm trying to lose weight. So off to bed I went. I must have been dreaming about those sleeves all night, because in the morning I had decided that off they must go to be fixed. It wasn't easy either, as I already had the lining sewn in and the sleeve hem sewn to the lining. I had to remove most of the shoulder pad and the sleeve header, but it was worth it as the gathers are much better. Not completely gone, but much better.

What I learned from sewing this jacket:

1. I must sew up any Burda Plus half size pattern I can get my hands on.
2. It's not me that has to have things perfect, it's my subconscious. I can't be held accountable, can I?
3. Always check to make sure the hem hangs evenly after every alteration. The front tilts up some because of the fabric I had to remove from under the bust.
4. I now know why the front facing should be narrower than the center front panel. The hem was very bulky at the princess seam since there was so many layers of interfaced fabric that met at that intersection, including the pocket. If I had traced out the facing and used that piece instead of making the front facing the full princess panel width, it wouldn't have been so bulky.
4. It is a good idea to cut the under collar on the bias. I got that one right, yea!
5. I need more practice on notched collars. The points are very flat and bulk free, however, the inside notch has more bulk than I care for.
6. I need to make more jackets!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Jacket Sleeve and Bra Workshop

I am almost ready to cut out the sleeves for my jacket. I made an alteration to the original sleeve to eliminate the puckers, but that just caused almost more problems than it solved. The sleeve on my right (your left) is the altered original sleeve. It isn't hanging too well. You can see it twisting and hanging weird. The sleeve on the left is a pattern I took from Simplicity 3672. Since it was a plus size and two piece, I was hoping it would work. First I laid the original altered sleeve pattern on top of the Simplicity pattern tissue to see which one I would need to cut out. The size 20 was then picked. I folded it at both petite-able lines and then cut my muslin.

You can see the original sleeve better in this side shot. It's so bad it is even distorting the armhole. It also is a bit larger around, which my arm doesn't need.

Here is the Simplicity sleeve. While it's not perfect, it's a whole lot better than the altered original sleeve. You can't really see how much better it is because I didn't do the easing in the way the pattern called for you to where the elbow bends. I just tucked the ease and the sleeve has the seam allowances on the outside, since of course, I sewed up the same side sleeve as the one that I had already inserted. I think it looks like I need to interface the sleeve cap. I don't want to interface the whole sleeve because I don't want it to be board-like. I want it to hang softly. The only alteration I will do is to add a little bit more cap height to eliminate the drag lines.

I wanted to show you the pocket, which you can't see very well. I drafted it from a drawing I made of another jacket I saw on TV. I thought it was a cute, easy pocket to add to any princess seamed jacket.

Now for the Bra Workshop update. It was a long, hard day. The only saving grace was that so many of my friends were there. I got to know some new friends just a bit better too. Sewing with me were Cat MacGregor, Kathi Rank, MaryAnn, Janna, and Jeanette Swanson.

It was an interesting class and while I had a good time, I was disappointed with the final bra.

I hate the shape it gives me and it's deadly uncomfortable. I think it gives me too much of a flattened projection up front with too much side bulge. It doesn't have much coverage at the front of my arm, yet it has too much coverage at the neck edge. And look at that rippling across the front. The apex is too high for me and the bra band is too tight. Of course, they said it looks great. In fact, when I complained how the side bulged out and the underwires were poking the front of my arms, her solution was to reach down into the bra and start bending the underwires in toward my body. Ouch! I don't think that should be the solution. The underwires should lay flat against my body, not have to be bent into submission. Which, of course, just made it more uncomfortable.

It doesn't look too bad from the sides except that you can see that it doesn't have enough coverage at the front arm area. That should come up much higher, IMHO. And doesn't my opinion count?

You can see how tight it is on the band in this picture. It gives me a lumpy, bumpy back, as if I didn't already have lumps without the addition of a too tight bra adding to my problems. I didn't bother to buy this bra-maker's book. I already own the Bra-makers Manual by Beverly Johnson. I'm hoping I can find pointers on how to alter this bra, or another pattern to fit me better than this one. I have a few patterns for bras in my stash. However, bra making will have to wait until the jacket is done. I don't want to wait too long or else I'll forget how it's done.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Paralysis Is Over

I think just writing about my sewist's block helped me get past it. Who knew this blogging thing could be so helpful? Here's the results so far. I decided to add pockets but you can't really see them and I forgot to take a close-up. I couldn't be happier with the fit. Unfortunately, once I pleated out the droop below the bustline, I think I made the front too short. It doesn't hang at the same level. You can see that in the side shot.

I'm off to bed. Tomorrow evening I will attend the lecture part of the Bra Making conference and all day Tuesday I'll be attending the hands on portion of the conference. My next post will probably be showing you my new bra. I can hardly wait.

Jacket Paralysis

Anyone know why this happens? I'm all ready. I have the pattern done, including remaking the lining pattern. But instead of doing my block fusing and cutting, I'm reading. I'm reading everything I can get my hands on how to sew up a lined jacket. I've done this before. I've taking a semester long tailoring class. I know how to sew a jacket. However, the tricky part is heming a lined jacket. I've read everything I can find on it, and now I think I can even do that. So, why aren't I fusing and cutting? I feel paralyzed. Does this happen to anyone else?

BTW, I found some buttons for my jacket and I may decide to do some decorative running stitches to define the edges and princess seams on the jacket.

I only have today and tomorrow morning to sew on the jacket. I don't think I'll get it done by then, but again, I don't leave for NY until next month so I'm sure I'll get it done before I leave.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Prep Work Begins

I've been listening to Carolyn blog about how it is she can sew an entire outfit, or at least a garment, on the weekend. Her method is to have everything ready so she can just sit down to sew. To that end, today I'm getting all those pesky details out of the way so I can just sit and sew my jacket tomorrow. Only interruption I'll have is my appointment at 8 am to give blood. After that, I'm going to go out to breakfast. Going out to breakfast used to be a favorite past time before I started taking care of myself. Now I may just order oatmeal with real cream and brown sugar, but one needs not entirely forgo the things that make us happy.

Anyway, I've been studying the pictures of my last muslin and I still see problems. Really, I'm not as OCD as others are about wrinkles, but this one is an easy fix.

See how the fabric is collapsing under the bust at the princess seam? That is bothering me. So here you can see the fabric pinned out. I think it looks much better and all it will take is for me to cut and overlap the front and side pattern pieces.

As for the sleeve, what I think I'll try is a combination of lowering the sleeve cap and overlaping the sleeve to take out some of the 2" of cap ease. Kathleen Fasanella believes that there should be no ease, I tend to like some, but not 2 inches. I'm also going to make it a long sleeve. I've selected some winter type fabric from my stash. It's an olive/grey tweed and I found some satin backed poly textured fabric for the lining. While the lining fabric doesn't exactly match it doesn't clash either and the best part is it is all from the stash! I'm toying with the idea of an interlining since I'm making it for my NY trip. However, I will be wearing an overcoat too, so maybe I won't. Did I just talk myself out of an interlining?

These buttons were in my stash as well. I don't like either but if I had to choose, I'd pick the ones on the right. Unfortunately, I can only put my hands on two of them. I'm sure if I keep on searching, I could find at least one more. I'll probably go buy some instead. After all, I do need to do my part to keep the economy running.

When I get back from NY, I am planning on making the jacket again for spring in this stretch cotton toile.

It's been aging in the stash for quite a while. I also have some red denim that would make a great pair of jeans to go with this jacket. All I'd need is a white t-shirt, and I'll have a great spring outfit.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The sleeve, Oye Vey!

I'm definitely going to have to do something about the sleeve. I think I'll steal one from another pattern. I'm not sure which one yet. Maybe the two piece sleeve isn't for me. However, I'm liking the princess seam instead of the dart. This fabric is awful to work with. I haven't decided what the final one will be, but I'm still considering the red/white toile.

I'm much happier with the back. I'll just let it out a tiny bit in the center where it's pulling and then I'm calling it good enough.

The side looks really pretty good, except for the sleeve, of course. Tomorrow I'll go hunting for a new sleeve, do a muslin and then I'm ready for the real thing. I can't wait to get the jacket made.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Two and half muslins does it.

I got the second muslin done. I really like the way the front turned out. It fits extremely well with my alterations. However, I can't seem to eliminate the pointedness at the dart end. I think it may just be the nature of this type of fabric. So I'm considering making this an armhole princess seam to match the armhole princess seam in the back. Then I can eliminate the pointed dart. If I do that, then I will eliminate the side waist seam. Unfortunately, that seam is one of the reasons it's such a cute pattern.

For the pink muslin, I did a high rounded back alteration and eliminated the dart. That alteration was a big mistake as you can see in the photo. It gave me a sort of camel hump and raised the neckline way too high for me.

Then I recut the back eliminating the high rounded back alteration and put the shoulder darts back in.

The neck is still a tad too high, but I can always cut it down when I cut the real fabric. The problem I see and still need to eliminate is the way it collapses in the back behind the armhole. Tomorrow I'm taking it to work and having my sewing friend see if she can pin out the excess fullness.

The side looks really pretty good even on the camel hump version. I'm happy that I got enough circumference for my body without major alterations. You can see in the next photo how I got the circumference.

I added 1/2" to the side seam near the armhole and then went to 1" at the waist down through the hip. I also had to do this to the rest of the front side seam on the front pattern piece and on the back side pattern pieces.

The biggest problem I saw on the first muslin was that the shoulders were too wide. Also, there was too much in the upper chest area. What I decided to do instead of just cut off the excess was to cut a line to the dart and overlap 3/4" to make the narrow shoulder adjustment.

I also cut and overlapped in the back. The blue lines are my seam lines trued up and the grain line trued. This picture was taken before I removed the rounded back alteration.

Well, am I ready to cut the good fabric yet at 2 1/2 muslins?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Weekend Sewing

I got up at 5 am today. I couldn't sleep anymore. Husband came to bed and woke me up and I was ready to, um, talk. He was ready to sleep. He won so I got out of bed and sewed up these pants. I would have got the other pair done except I started watching Hell's Kitchen rerun downloads. It was fun, but quite the time waster.

The other thing I did today was to take Son to an audition for the play, Annie. I know I've mentioned in the past that Son has Asperger's Syndrome. That means that he is a very high function Autistic. However, he has outgrown almost all his Autistic tendencies. That is, he has learned appropriate social behaviors since they aren't innate in Aspies. I've never been to an audition in my life. Luckily I ran into someone I knew there who had. After asking many questions, she suggested I go home, get something to eat for Son and myself and I also picked up his hand held video game and my CD Walkman and a book on tape. We were there from noon until 4:30 pm mostly waiting around. The great news is that DS was cast as a mobster. This is a really big deal for us. He had to sing and dance on stage by himself. He doesn't know how to sing or dance. His singing was really pretty good for someone that's never sang before, but he didn't learn the dance steps very well. I'm very excited about this because it means he gets to meet girls. He goes to an all boys school and doesn't even know any girls. At 14, it's time he met some and learn how to interact with them. You can probably expect to see some blogs of me working on costumes. They make the parents volunteer in some capacity. Costumes seemed logical for me.

When we got home from the audition, I found a Kokopelli picture on the internet. After putting it into Paint and changing the picture into a line drawing, I traced it on heat N bond. Next I pressed the HnB to some black quilting cotton and appliqued it to my T-shirt. Then I zig zagged around it. I don't think my ZZ turned out very nicely. You see, my machine decided to call it quits. Luckily, Twin Sis, Carrol let me borrow her Bernina 930. However, it doesn't have an open toe foot so I couldn't see where I was going as I went around the appliques. Since these are only PJs, I don't mind very much. Unfortunately, now my neck is killing me from trying to see inside the regular stitch foot.

It's been a long day. Tomorrow, I'm going to start back on the jacket. I think I'll take out some of my alterations that made the first muslin too big. I have some red/white toile stretch twill that I think I'll make this jacket out of. Then I can make some red denim pants to go with it. I'm having a blast using up my stash. I'm hoping that, except for my NY trip, I will stay away from fabric buying altogether. I'm running out of room for my fabric collection.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Try Again

When I'm feeling especially large, which has nothing to do with how large I actually am, I always alter up too much. I think I really over did the ease on this pattern. Not only that, but the ugly orange stretch linen from my stash that I used from FFC is way too stretchy. I could probably have made this muslin without any alterations to the original pattern because of my fabric choice. The pattern also has much too much ease in the sleeve cap. I'm not sure how much of that is just the stretchy fabric, but a gathered sleeve cap is not the look I want. I can see that I need to make a narrow back adjustment and shorten the shoulder length. The sleeves with a 1" cuff will be too long so I need to shorten them and I also need a rounded back alteration. Then another muslin.

Stay tuned while I make some alterations and sew up muslin #2. Anyone want to start placing bets on how many muslins this jacket pattern will take?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

On A Roll

My wanna came back. I got the two PJ pants cut out along with a new CWC knock-off. Today I want to get a pair of jeans and a jacket muslin cut out. I spent last night tracing the new petite jacket from the Spring Burda Plus WOF. Here's the line drawing.

I'm quite impressed on how well this fits with no alterations at all. I traced out size 25 which is an American size petite 24. Now I would never ever sew a size 24 in American patterns. It would be huge on me. I'm not sure what's up with the European sizing charts because I don't think the conversion is correct. This fits me more like a size 18/20 would fit except that all the petite alterations are already made.

Not my prettiest look since I don't have any makeup on and I haven't even brushed my hair today. There are some alterations that I'll need to do. This is too close fitting, it needs some wearing ease. I can handle this three ways. One is to not alter it at all and wait until I lose a lot of weight to wear it. Two, I can not alter it and use a woven stretch AND wait until I lose a bit of weight, or three, alter it to add more body space for ease. I think I'll chose #3 since I really want to wear it now.

The sleeves also need to be altered since they are snug on my arm. However, I need your opinion. Do you think I should go ahead and keep the sleeves 3/4 length on this jacket? The pattern will be a bit more like bracelet length on me since they didn't shorten them quite enough, or should I go ahead and lengthen them for full length? All opinions are welcome.

As far as alterations, I can always make it again when I become smaller. Stay tuned for muslin #1 and some PJ pants.