27 maart 2018

Birds Are So Last Year

I went to London for the weekend! And managed to take some pictures of a new shirt! We did take these on our last day, very early in the morning, so you'll just have to forgive my bed head and sleepy face. I had a hard time actually having my eyes open in these.

This is the Mélilot shirt by Deer & Doe, a pattern that had caught my attention a while ago. I've been looking for a few tops that would work with a variety of bottoms, and this one fit the bill! Deer & Doe patterns tend to fit me really well out of the packet, and this was no exception. I did make a muslin first because I liked the fabric I had set aside for this and didn't want to mess it up!

This is a loose-fitting shirt with a cut on sleeve, finished with a little cuff. There's a long-sleeved version as well and I'll probably try that in the future! The fit is loose and relaxed, but the side seams are actually very curved and there is a bust dart, so it's not shapeless at all. I used a lightweight linen-viscose mix from the shop I work at, and I like how light and drapey it is.

There are some wrinkles in the back, but this seems like a necessary evil with this type of sleeve... I moved around a bit in my muslin and fet like I shouldn't remove any fabric there, since that might impair my mobility, and we definitely don't want that!

(You don't exactly need eagle eyes to spot it but if you look closely you might see the reason I went to London and why I was tired when we took these pictures)

I liked the construction techniques used in this pattern a lot, they made for a very clean finish! My fabric is quite loosely woven and tended to shif around a bit, so I basted the pockets and sleeve cuffs in place before topstitching them. Even then it feels like my topstitching could be a lot better, but I don't think it will be super obvious.

I'm kind of sad I didn't document the impressive size my arm had swollen to the night before.

I really hate sewing curved hems by turning them under twice, and this hem had a really significant curve at the side, so I made things easier and used bias tape. I did make about 20 meters of bias tape out of a lightweight cotton in one go since I thought the storebought kind would be too heavy and decided to just make a lot of it to use on other things! It was... Boring.

After all that I thought the perfect finishing touch for this shirt would be a little beaded bee. Because bees make everything better.

I have a bit of a complicated relationship with shirts and shirt dresses... Collared dresses seem to make me feel like I'm in a uniform or something, and shirts have to be loose-fitting, since fitted shirts remind me too much of the ones I would wear to school in 2005. It's hard to explain. This is definitely a winner though, and I already have a second version in mind!

23 maart 2018

The Lengths I Go To For A Pun

Some time ago, I tried to find fabric with a hand print. As in, not necessarily hand printed, but with actual hands printed on it. TRY FINDING THAT. So in the end I decided to just do it myself, and go through a great deal of effort to be able to point at my shirt and say 'It's hand printed. Get it? Heh.'

It was also below freezing the day we took these pictures so it's a miracle not all of them look like this:

First things first: the fabric! I picked up this lightweight grey denim in Paris with Hanne last August (don't go to Paris in August btw, everything is closed). In hindsight it was maybe a smidge too heavy for a shirt, but this does make it warmer and I suspect it will soften up in the wash. I carved two hand stamps (a right and left one) and got printing one evening. It didn't take too long to cover the entire length of fabric because I went for a kind of random placement, not even trying to create a repeat. I also left a part of the fabric blank because I thought the smaller parts of the shirt would look better being solid (since the hands were bigger than those parts anyway and would be cut off).

Printing fabric like this really isn't that hard and you don't need a lot of materials. I do make my life easier by using a block printing ink for textiles that fixates by drying for a week at room temperature. Nothing worse than ironing each printed section of a few yards of fabric for five minutes straight.

(If you are interested, I wrote a pretty detailed post about block printing fabric here!)

Now for the actual shirt! I used the Grainline Archer again, but sized down a bit after remeasuring myself and measuring the pattern pieces. My previous plaid version still gets worn loads but I wanted a slightly slimmer fit on this one.

I cut the entire pattern on a single layer to have more control over the print placement. The body, sleeves and pocket have hands on them, but the cuffs, button band and collar are solid. I had plenty of fabric for once so this was smooth sailing!

There's not much I can say about the construction of this shirt that I haven't said before. The only time I looked at the instructions was for the sleeve placket, and I used this method for the collar and cuffs (which I always do by the way, it just seems both easier and more accurate in a way). The yoke was sewn using the burrito method and the side seams are flat-felled, but I have to admit I didn't topstitch the sleeve seam. This was already tricky on my previous version, which is two sizes larger, and this fabric was a lot less flexible. I decided to let that fight pass.

The hem was finished with bias tape to reduce bulk, and then my shirt and I were ready to go hang around with friends and watch them roll their eyes at my joke. Another friend also said it looked like the hand of Saruman, which can only mean that I... Secretly wish I was an Uruk-Hai? No idea.

16 maart 2018

And Now For The Action-Filled Sequel!

As I said in my previous post, I finished my Carlita coat! Joost and I actually had this whole idea for a nice photoshoot in a cool location, but then he got sick and we kind of had to scramble to find a moment before he left on a (well-deserved) vacation. But hey, it all worked out, and here are our coats!

We had to ask a stranger to take our picture.
So at the end of my previous post about this coat I had tailored my coat fronts and back. Next I assembled fronts, inserting a welt pocket into the seam right below the bust. This was way easier (and less scary because no slashing fabric) than a 'proper' welt pocket, since it's basically an inseam pocket with a welt added to it. Pocket pocket pocket. After stitching the princess seam I could attach the patch pockets! Both the pocket and pocket flap are lined in a not-quite-matching lining material to reduce bulk. I often see instructions telling you to trim 1 mm away from the lining edge to make it roll under nicely, but when researching for this project I came across someone who said it was way easier and more accurate to just stretch the lining pieces 1 mm beyond the shell fabric edge. Super simple, but super efficient! I slipstitched my pockets on so there wouldn't be and visible topstitching. It looked great, but wouldn't be the end of that saga yet!

After this came the sleeves. I do have to say here that I had been cautious with transferring my changes from the muslin to the pattern: part of me couldn't believe I had to take out SO MUCH fabric and I was scared that the final coat would end up too small with all the added bulk from a thicker fabric and all that interfacing. So when I inserted the sleeves and tried the thing on for the first time, it was still quite big, and a bit of a bummer. The shoulders were still too wide, and there was still a lot of excess fabric in the sleeves. So I spent a day trying to fix it: I unpicked the sleeves, took some fabric out of the coat side seams and slimmed the sleeves down by the same amount, then tried again.

The size of the sleeve itself was better, but along the way the armhole had gotten a smidge too large, meaning there wasn't enough ease in the sleeve head, making it look a bit sad and droopy. I made my own shoulder pads from hair canvas and cotton wadding (so much fun) and added a strip of wadding to the sleeve head, but had to face that it could look better. So the things came out again, I took some more out of the side seam to make the armhole circumference smaller and tried for a third time. SO MUCH BETTER!

 The fit still isn't perfect, but by that time I felt like I had done everything I could to improve it as much as possible. The entire front is actually a bit too wide across the shoulder, meaning there's some extra fabric bubbling there and I can't quite fill out that princess seam! I do think these are things other people won't really notice when it's being worn, especially not with my giant scarf draped over it.

I then went on to the collar. I had cut my under collar on the bias, and reinforced it with some more canvas and pad stitching to help it keep its shape. After that the under and upper collar were sewn together, pinned to a small tailor's ham and steamed into oblivion.

My favourite part of this coat is the back. I overlapped those belt pieces as far as I could get away with to cinch in the waist a bit more, and I just love the dramatic pleat action going on here! We tried to capture the look of that back in action, and I made some gifs out of that for your entertainment:

I think he scared the shit out of the cyclist in front of him

So by now the body of the coat had been assembled and I tackled the lining. I assembled the front lining pieces and facing first, since I wanted to make an inside pocket and didn't want to maneuver the entire lining under my sewing machine. The lining colour is almost impossible to photograph but it's a very dark aubergine colour, which was the best colour I could find (that wasn't boring navy blue).

Next came putting everything together! I basted the collar in place and attached the lining and facing, using a million pins and loads of basting.  I stitched all around the coat, sandwiching the collar between the two layers, and stitched the facing to the coat at the hem length. This was all carefully trimmed and graded before I turned the whole thing right side out and gave it a good press. Again, I went for no visible topstitching, so I used basting stitched to keep all the layers in place until everything was finished. The rest of the hem was turned up and hand stitched so it would be invisible, then the lining hem was attached by hand. Whew!

Now came one of the scariest parts: buttonholes. My machine does a VERY basic four-step buttonhole, and I knew that would just look terrible after all this work. So instead I tried to make hand worked buttonholes. I spent two days practicing on scraps of wool and canvas (layered to mimic the actual coat), using contrasting thread to see my mistakes. I was also too cheap to pay the shipping for one roll of gimp in a colour I'd likely never use again, so I used my buttonhole twist to make my own. My buttonholes are far from perfect, but I started with the least visible ones in the back and by the time I got to the front they were looking okay (from a distance)!

There was, however, another minor setback at this point. It was a mistake in the pattern (which has now been fixed) but I could have picked up on it WAY sooner. Basically, the patch pocket placement is indicated on the side front only, which meant that it wasn't immediately obvious that the buttons would overlap the patch pocket. And of course, I never indicated the patch pockets on my muslin. ARGH. I ended up carefully unpicking and reattaching both patch pockets and pocket flaps to move them to the side a bit, and thankfully the earlier stitching and pressing hasn't done too much damage to the fabric. After this I could finally attach my buttons (which I had covered through the shop I work at, 10/10 would recommend) and add the finishing touch:

This was probably one of the most ambitious things I ever did, and a very steep learning curve. I can definitely see myself delving more into tailoring, it was scary as hell but also very fun!

I'm going to end this with a very very big thank you to Joost, for his help with the pattern and his eternal patience with my countless questions/panicky e-mails/crappy muslin pictures. Go follow what he does if you aren't already, because it will definitely be awesome.

10 maart 2018

Pull The Wool Over Your Eyes For A Week Or More

I did not plan to just disappear for an entire month! I finished my coat, which took a lot of work, and Joost and I had planned to take pictures together but he got sick so now we have to reschedule. I promise there will be another novel-like coat post when we get to that, but for now I only have pants to show you!

After years of wearing mostly jeans and t-shirts I wore mostly dresses and skirts for a while, especially after I started sewing. I've incorporated pants back into my wardrobe lately, but finding the right silhouettes is proving to be a bit of a search! Wide leg trousers look good with exactly the right top, otherwise I end up looking very short and stumpy. My skinny jeans have become wardrobe staples, but sometimes you want something different. I had this vision in my head (and the wool fabric in my stash) for some menswear-inspired trousers, not too wide but not tight either. So when I found the Pantalon Gilbert by Republique du Chiffon I thought I'd give that a try.

So... I feel like I might have made clown pants. Or maybe it's just because I'm not sure how to wear these. Or because it's a new silhouette for me and I'll just have to get used to it.

The Gilbert is an older pattern, and the instructions have not yet been translated to English. Not that they would be any more useful, since they are even more basic than the average Burda explanations! This was a tiny bit frustrating, but the hardest parts about these are the fly front and the back welt pocket, and if you've ever made those you should be fine. What bothered me more was that the pattern is hand drawn and then scanned. This is not a problem in itself, but the scanned image hasn't been altered in any way, meaning that you're basically printing 20 full page images. It's not that hard to edit a scan so the background is plain white, and it would save a TON of ink.

(I have my hands in my pockets in almost every picture. Sorry.)
Since this is a new pattern and a new to me pattern company, I made a muslin first, and ended up removing some length from the inside back leg. I then forgot to alter the grainline to the leg seems are kind of twisty, but not bad enough to really bother me. Apart from that, the only adjustment I made was to make the waistband a bit narrower, since I thought it was too wide and I wanted to close it with one button (rebel rebel playing softly in the distance).

The welt pocket is totally funtional (and looks very neat, even on the inside) but knowing myself it's going to remain totally for show. I added two darts in the back since I think they were supposed to be there anyway, but the pattern only shows two vertical lines going down to where the pocket is, like a pleat (and the amount that would be removed would not be nearly enough to make the back the same size as the waistband!). Aside from the two darts, I also ended up taking a bit out of the center back seam.

I'm also wearing one of my Nettie shirts, with elbow length sleeves (finished with cuffs), made in a plain black viscose jersey. It's, you know, a fitted black t-shirt. I make a lot of t-shirts I'll never blog about, since it's JUST SO BORING!

I had also made another Huey hoodie right before I started my coat! It's my third and favourite so far. The fabric is a black merino jersey which makes this a thin but very warm layer. I had a storebought hoodie in wool mix jersey that got worn to bits over the years, so it was looking sad and way too large, so this is a welcome replacement!

That's it for now. I have some unexpected time off and loads of plans after that coat marathon, so there should be some more posts soon! I also finally joined the Instagram crowd, so if you want to you can find me here. I'll probably be posting progress pictures and other stuff on there!