Wednesday, February 29, 2012
If you actually click on the image (and by some miracle it works) you will be able to see my latest project: Gretchen's Starlet Suit Jacket (which you can find on Craftsy here), part one of a skirt suit, pencil skirt, pattern TBD.
In case you can't (or can't be bothered to) click, it's a 6 week challenge, wherein I'll hand tailor, using the Craftsy course, the adorable 40s-style peplum jacket, and then make a pencil skirt to match (TBD).
What's the objective? Well, for starters, I finally want to tailor again (she says, like she has a lifetime of experience) after the very labour-intensive Lady Grey coat experience. And, as you all know, I've been wanting to make a suit.
Futhermore, I would like to construct two pieces that look as beautiful inside as out, and which function beautifully together.
Needless to say, I'm not going to cheap out on fabric. Let's say I'm going to spend out. I'm looking at a couple of fabrics, which are more easily visible below than in the croquis above:
I found these at the Wool House on Queen Street, a place where many tailors go to get their fabrics - or where savvy ladies go to get fabric to take to their tailors. A few of us actually buy them to sew with ourselves :-)
I had a lovely experience discussing the relative merits of crepes and cashmere blends and pure wool and textured wool and linings etc.
In the end I've settled on these two possibilities and, in truth, I suspect I'll be going with the darker fabric which (sadly) doesn't photo well here, but which is rich and deep and in no way navy (I swear). It just looks that way here. In fact, it's much more purple than anything, but I can't use that word cuz I hate it.
Both of these fabrics are Italian-made, textured, pure wool. There's slightly more drape in the lilac but the hand isn't quite as nice as that of the, um, aubergine. Let's call it aubergine - even though it's actually more pur___. Part of me is concerned to use such a relatively heavy weight wool (as both of these are). They're not coating, of course, but nor are they the slippery softness of cashmere suiting.
Note: Most of the cashmere suiting comes in "men's" colours aka boring for springtime fun, even if they are elegant. That's the crowd this store is catering to. If you observe the tech drawing of The Starlet Jacket, you'll see that it lends itself to a fabric of structure. The style is exaggerated: nipped in the waist but flared in the hips and a the slightest bit boxy in the shoulders. A super-drapey cashmere suiting isn't going to hold that shape as well as a more robust wool, IMO. And either of these fabrics will make awesome pencil skirts. They have so much natural structure that they'll hold everything in place beautifully - especially if I bone the waist area (hmmmm). Mind you, I'm sure cashmere (not pictured) would make an awesome finished product too. Lord knows, it won't add an ounce of bulk to one's silhouette.
I have the best jaquard lining in mind. It's red, charcoal, silver and grey (but the grey picks up the aubergine). I know it sounds hideous - and it's certainly contrasting. But utterly modern in a chic, French way.
Oh, it's so much fun to plan it all out. To feel the fabrics and the interfacing. To imagine the glorious finished product. Let's take a moment to revel in it, shall we?
Meanwhile, whatcha think??? Which swatch do you prefer? Do you think I should get the cashmere blend suiting - even if the colours aren't that fun (because, peeps, it's cashmere)? Cashmere fabric can make either a skirt, some culottes or a pair of pants to round out the suit.
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Brief sidebar: While it's not ideal, I feel I have to finish what I've started with that finishing method. And I will use a 2-step method, foregoing the bias foot, for the remainder of the project.
Anyway, I headed over to the Leather and Sewing Supply Depot on Vanauley St. (between Bathurst and Spadina on a small side street just north of Queen). How I have never been there before is UTTERLY BEYOND ME. It was the most exciting sewing venue I've seen in a long time. Maybe ever.
People, they sell the spiral steel boning and other corseting supplies I ordered?! And a gizmo to cut the spirals easily (and it cost $4.50 cuz they one they usually sell for 6 bucks was all out of stock so they sold me the floor model?!) I have to talk more about this once I've completed my project.
They have all the cool shoulder pads the likes of which they sell in NYC. They have leather and fur hides. Seam and bias tape, zippers up the yin yang, every kind of notion, ribbons, buttons, snaps, things I've never even seen before. Tools to cut spiral boning, check?!?! Real wires for bras!!! I'm actually speechless with happiness.
The staff is attentive, knowledgeable, friendly. It's been around forever. It's old school and I love it.
Those of you who read this blog and sew - if you know about this place and you haven't told me, I forgive you. But only barely. Do not walk, run to this venerable establishment.
One other fun thing: When I was looking around, I found myself asking the very seamstress-y matriarch for all kinds of sewing things, without batting an eye i.e. "Do you happen to have Betweens in a size 7?", and "Is that ribbon all Grosgrain or do you also have some Petersham?" And, no joke, she answered me just like I was some chick who'd been sewing forever. It's as if I was speaking fluent Sewlish!
Following this dreamy experience, I went to the Wool House where I had another excellent adventure which I'll relate in my next post.
Monday, February 27, 2012
I'm wearing these with my handmade princess seam top, also modeled here. I'm happy to tell you I wear this top constantly...
The zip looks wonky here but you'll have to trust me when I tell you it has been sewn in absolutely straight.
And here's a dubious shot of me, standing in the most hideous part of my house, trying to get Scott to spend 3 precious breakfast minutes taking my picture.
On balance, I really do like these. They're very easy to wear.
PS: I have had the most EXCITING sewing experience today. I've got 2 posts lined up to tell you more about it.
1. As part of the Spring Basics Palette, Vogue 8413 is the pattern I'm constructing for a second time. I decided that "pretty" is the order of the day. As such, I opted to seam bind all raw edges, rather than to serge (clean but not elegant).
To complicate matters, I'm using orange double knit (a fabric with stretch) as my fashion fabric. Seam binding is not a stretch fabric. I suspect this is the basis of my hideous challenges (see below)
2. This is seam binding:
3. Not to be confused with bias tape (though, effectively, they do the same thing):
4. This is a seam binder foot:
Somehow I bought one of these - for 30 bucks! - when first I started sewing, even though I had no idea of what to do with it.
One uses this foot to wrap and sew bias tape or seam binding over the raw fabric edge. The process is deceptively challenging.
4. Bias tape is folded over at the edges to produce a crisp edge finish. However, the net result is that it adds 4 layers of bulk to finish the seam when you sew it on. That's a total of 5 layers?!
5. Seam binding is like bias cut ribbon. It only adds 2 layers of bulk over raw edges. It's the winner when it comes to keeping the garment as sleek as possible on the wrong side.
6. That's why I decided to use seam binding on every visible raw edge of this dress. There are approximately 8000 of said seams. That means I need about 4 zillion yards of tape. I have about three.
7. Seam binding has been wretched, in my limited experience, to apply to the seams. It shifts, it puckers, it avoids stitching down where it puckers. My workmanship, even after going over it many times and steaming the crap out of things, is hideous. I've spent hours accomplishing very little I care to show you.
Now, I don't know whether it's easier to use the binder foot to apply bias tape (the more structured, folded-over option) but I may have to find out as I'm almost out of the seam binding.
Can't say how much I hate having undertaken a project all about making seams pretty (although that's failed) and now I'm about to run out of my finishing product. It's not so pretty when you switch up seam tape for bias tape half way through. For one thig, bias tape adds bulk, and even though both types of tape are navy, they have different textures and tones.
So peeps who know something about this, please enlighten us:
- I'm using "no name" seam binding. Is Snug Hug a better brand? Or does it all pucker when you use that stupid binder foot??
- Is it the use of woven tape over stretch fabric that's making my experience so horrible? (Note that I'm not stretching the fabric as I sew. I have to hold the fashion fabric with my left hand as I ensure that the seam binding isn't screwing up with my right hand. That means I have nothing to do with the fabric as it meets the needle and comes out behind it. I usually hold the back of the fabric, the sewn part, with my left hand.)
- Does one improve at this over time?
- Is it just a stupid, time-consuming method?
- Should one simply use bias tape - not the less-layered seam binding, to undertake the finishing of individual seams?
- I need to find a way to avoid making this any uglier than it already is. I'm thinking of turning the centre back seam (I'm omitting the zipper - I don't believe it will be necessary given the stretch in the fabric) a faux or regular french seam to avoid the need to apply any kind of binding tape of any sort. But I wonder if it will add more bulk? (I'm committed to using the rest of my seam binding on the side seams because I've finished the bodice that way and I want to be as consistent as possible.)
Let me wrap this up by advising that, from a distance, the navy seam binding over the orange double knit is very elegant. I can get with sucking at this technique, on this garment, if there's some hope of improving. Of course, spending 12 times as long on a dress than I would otherwise have done, just to make crappily finished seams is somewhat demoralizing. But I don't want to be so dependent on my serger that I can't use other methods.
And, seriously, that I can attempt this with even a small amount of confidence is a sign that my sewing skills are vastly stronger than they were 2.25 years ago, when first I started sewing
Please give me your expert feedback. oxoxo
Sunday, February 26, 2012
- This set is usually rather expensive and I've never been able to find it in TO to try it on, which is why I don't own it in one of many colour ways.
- Depending on who you ask, it either fits a bit snug or totally true to size. I had to get it in my regular size cuz all the others were either def too big or def to small. We'll see if it works.
- I've rarely seen this style on sale in any colour. I don't usually wear red but I do love the animal print accents. I'm branching out cuz I do think this red is a good shade for my colouring (aka pallor).
- I got the whole set for 60 bucks - including shipping which is free everywhere! on this site. First time ordering there (could it have a more unappealing name?!), but they're having some awesome sales right now. If you want this or this, it might be a prudent time to buy... Sale prices seem cheaper here than sale prices on Figleaves and there's no delivery fee. Note: When the sales are good, no one can beat the Bra Stop prices, IMO, but this is a good alternative.
Whatcha think? (Not about my habit - about the bra.) (Oh, and just so you know, I haven't bought a lot of bras in the last year - till recently.) (OK, even if I bought no bras till the end of time I'd have an adequate stock of them, but whatever.) (Don't you know it's important to keep your options open?)
Saturday, February 25, 2012
Some things to note:
- Don't think a muslin will save you when it comes to pants. Sometimes it's 2 or 3 muslins that will save you. Though you'll want to kill yourself by then.
- The pleat is so heavy on this first version (the one pictured, and the one after the muslins), that it drops below the outside hem of the legs. Mind you, I think it's designed to do that - even though I don't like it. It is not observable when you wear it, but it's quite observable in photos.
- The pleat was so heavy on the inside of the garment that I stabilized it by adding a short horizontal row of stitches right at the front where it meets the crotch. Way ugly, but the only recourse, as I could see it.
- I used the actual pattern to make the next round of alterations: additional shortening of crotch length by another half inch (on top of the inch removed in the first version).
- I cut the 14, not the 16. This may still be too large, but I can work with it when sewing.
- I closed the darts permanently on the new version.
- I made sure the crotch arches in version 2 match the first version's. That worked well.
- I lengthened and narrowed the back darts, as per the first version.
- I cut three inches off of the bottom. (On version 1 I had to cut about 5 inches off the bottom and I still had a inch of hem allowance.)
- Version 1 is still too big, just less too big.
- I used the original tissue pattern to make version 2 cuz, if it doesn't work, I am definitely NOT using this pattern again. Low risk, I say.
Here's a shot of the inside pockets. They're a dog's breakfast as is everything interior on these - I was basically slashing and burning as I went. In truth, given what I had to do to make them fit, the inside is in remarkably good shape:
The hem and a shot of that pleat which will never be sewn by me again. Getting that fabric to hold a pleat was an insanity.
And here's the zipper. Note the totally bizarre situation where the 2 pleats meet at the inner crotch but the extra fabric bulks at the front and back crotch.
Here you can see that unsightly horizontal stabilizing line just above the pleats at the front crotch:
I had to manipulate a lot of these photos to make detail visible, but the colour of the fabric is most like that in the first shot of the culottes lying on the bed.
So, experiment complete. But I will make them once again, probably sooner rather than later, because I did spend more than an hour altering a paper pattern to reflect what I think will be a well-proportioned garment next time around.
Please do give my your feedback. Are you surprised I've had to make so many changes to the next version, given that I did make 2 muslins? Do you like these, in theory, at least? Aren't the pleats bizarre? Let's talk!
Friday, February 24, 2012
I have to say that the service was very good. I asked to have the signature requirement waived, it was done simply by one email exchange. The package was trackable over the entire journey, though it wasn't couriered, but delivered by Canada Post. It arrived in 1 business day!? (That's a freakin' miracle, let's call it a fluke.)
And when I inquired about what I felt was a high shipping charge (12 bucks for a small and light package), I was advised that (save a $2.50 handling fee which everyone pays equally), the shipping is not marked up and is based on a rate supplied by the post office. As my parcel cost slightly less to send than the system estimated, per Farthingale policy which is applied to everyone, I was refunded $1.72. The entire transaction occurred in my currency (shipping with handling was $10.25 in the end). I cannot complain.
Now, on the topic of the product: I bought a bunch of 1/4" spiral steel boning pieces in pre-cut lengths (with removable tips), a metre length of the same boning (that I'll have to trim to size, egad), a packet of the tips (to protect from cut ends) and a couple of metres of 1/4" German Plastic boning - an excellent kind, apparently. Theoretically, this will keep me going for a few projects - and it's not like I intend to start corseting liberally!
Has anyone else purchased from this retailer? How did you find the experience? The product?
Thursday, February 23, 2012
At Xmas, just after I made the Glen Haven Shawl, she came to visit. At first quietly admiring, by the time a couple of days had gone by, she was routinely and confidently claiming her certainty that I would give the Glen Haven to her. People, I did not.
Am I a bad daughter? Well, I did knit her 2 pairs of gloves, a scarf and bought her a face potion and a variety of other gifts. I made and cleaned up after Xmas eve and day dinners. I gave her my bed.
I wanted the shawl. My body hurt, extremely, after making it. It was the last garment I knit before deciding that I needed to stop knitting for a while, in the interests of feeling less sore. I love it. I wear it daily.
Yes, she did give birth to me. So we compromised. I told her I would make her one for her bday. Which is why I'm working with this yarn:
to construct this:
I'm finished with the body portion of the shawl. I've blocked it and used wires to flatten out the reverse stockinette slightly (I'm on the fence about rolling yarn, even though that's a hallmark of the edges of this garment.) Next up: the loop and tail ribbed sections.
I discovered my insane love of chunky-weight, baby alpaca after receiving the gift of this yarn. It's like knitting a bunny. Seriously, it is SO beautiful. Furthermore, it doesn't stretch, on blocking, half as much as merino (in my brief experience) or Debbie Bliss anything. It is vaguely fuzzy. Much more so than the springy, entirely smooth Debbie Bliss Rialto Chunky. I don't tend to appreciate any fuzz profile on my knitted items. It veers towards "homemade-seeming" IMO. But, in the instance of this yarn, I'm powerless to do anything but love it.
I bought it at Lettuce Knit - an LYS I value for excellent customer service. It doesn't have the best prices by a long shot. The yarn cost $90.00. But I care about this local resource. I appreciate everything it's done to help me grow as a crafter. So I support it.
Remember, you can read more about all of these objets and view additional photos on my Ravelry page.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
By twist I mean twists, more accurately, in the form of spiral steel boning:
Why recreate the same skirt you love, I say, when you can make a bias cut version with a different waistband that's tailored? Yeah, that's really keeping it simple.
At any rate, I watched Gertie's yellow dress, boned-bodice project with interest, though I was totally freaked out by the level of complexity involved. More recently, she revisited the concept on a waistband, using the Ginger skirt as her muse. That, I thought, is something I might get with in the course of time. Truth is, for all of my love of my Ginger skirt, having used a very stiff denim, and given that my lower abdomen is not flat, I've got a bit of bunching where the skirt rises up to meet the waist as I walk. I intend to ameliorate this by using a fabric with better drape next time (the cerise wool blend), by making the straight (rather than scalloped) waist band and, you guessed it, by venturing into the world of waist boning.
Ah, I can see a corset in my (distant) future.
(On the topic of where and how I've purchased the boning and tips, stay tuned. What I will tell you is that I bought Canadian. And - hilarious, I'm sure you'll agree - I paid through the nose for shipping given that the outlet is 2 hrs away and the vehicle is Canada Post. Let's just say I'm waiting for some clarification and to see the size of the package / contents within.)
Item above is vaguely related to my next item, I suppose, about the Freya Nieve long line bra and the Freya Nina plunge.
The world of lingerie is never dull here. In short, I bought the Nina set and then decided to keep the Nieve after first trying to replace the Nieve with the larger cup size - only to find that it's completely gone everywhere now that it's sale season and that colourway has been discontinued.
The long version is that I couldn't get the Nina as a replacement for the Nieve and also get the 20% discount that was being offered on the bra on Figleaves. I either had to a) buy the Nina and return the Nieve - which means I'd pay shipping on the Nina (5 pounds 50) and return fees on the Nieve (8 bucks CDN) or b) buy the Nina as part of my return but pay the full price aka somewhat more expensive than option a).
Now, the price of both of these sets together comes to $130.00 CDN - less than I'd pay for one of the bras alone at a B&M store here. So, any way you slice it, the discount is deep enough to mitigate a return and new purchase.
I was all set to return the Nieve but I couldn't stop trying it on. Every time I did I'd notice that the gores don't sit flat against my chest - but that, in every other way, this bra is awesome. By awesome I mean "inspiring awe". My boobs look so spherical they're mesmerizing. And so pushed up they're practically hitting my chin.
This leads me on a diatribe about the merits of padding. Don't get me wrong, I don't love the concept and I'm much more about the natural shaped breast (not that every bra isn't artificially shaping one's breasts in one way or another, but you know what I mean). But I can totally understand how the younger women love it. It's very, um, youthful. And the padding really is a means to an end. It doesn't so much increase the volume of one's chest as it molds it into a modern cultural ideal. I'm still trying to understand what's doing what. Is it the vertical seaming that contributes to the shape? The longline? The padding? All of the above?
Point is, I couldn't bring myself to give it back. I wore it today and, while I felt like Jessica Rabbit, it was fun under a very modest crew neck. Its practicality may be limited, but it's an experiment I'm not done with yet.
The purchase of the Nina is merely a function of my indulgent tendencies. I couldn't let a floral/animal/pink combo get away.
So, I figure if you don't care about waist boning, chances are you care about push up lingerie. Please feel free to share your thoughts about either of these threads. I want to hear them.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Recall that the mandate is to make 6 "basics" in 12 weeks, using a spring colour-scheme (whatever that means), wearable throughout that season.
Well, so far I've been doing pretty well. I can check off:
Kwik Sew 3115 Lounge Pants:
They may not be exciting, but they sure are practical. To wit: I'm wearing them as I type this...
Jalie 2921 Scarf Collar Top:
I liked this pattern so much I used a remnant of a cheery orange to make a second, sleeveless version:
T Shirt "from TNT":
Needless to say, as this is the Magic Blouse and not my T shirt sloper, it's not the garment I originally planned on making - nor is it in the originally planned colour-scheme. Nonetheless, it counts!
Butterick 5681 Culottes:
No photo yet, peeps. Still coming to terms with this garment, though I did wear it to work last week - with the vintage Magic Blouse, of all things - and I actually got some unprompted compliments.
Technically I have but two items left to construct before April 1, in order to meet my target timeline: one bias cut Ginger Skirt, in a gorgeous cerise fabric, and the orange, double knit, Vogue 8413 cowl neck dress (sleeves tbd).
How I've Gone "Off Road" Sewing:
The sewing journey is rarely straight, though, and I've taken a fair number of detours already (which, objectively, in no way compromise the integrity of this adventure - even as I am the arbiter of said integrity). How have things gone other than planned?
- The lounge pants were to be made in the grey cotton jersey but, in the absence of enough of that fabric, I used the aubergine bamboo jersey (chosen for the T shirt) instead.
- The idea then, was to make the T shirt in the grey cotton jersey (check) but I opted not to use that pattern in the end. Instead I used it to make the Magic Blouse (see above), embellished with pretty, pink flowers. It's totally wearable and it's made of T shirt material, so it counts.
- I loved the Jalie scarf top so much in the floral rayon jersey that I made it again, but without sleeves, using a remnant of orange rayon jersey in my stash (see both versions above). This was an unexpected but great use of stash fabric that I couldn't in good conscience trash, but that was not quite ample enough to make much of anything.
- The culottes project turned into a whole side-adventure: an experiment comparing a modern version against a vintage version to determine which would work better on me. While the culottes are wearable (see blurb above), and while they have taught me a variety of valuable sewing lessons, I feel that these (which I sensed from the get-go would be the outliers) are still in wearable muslin format. The other 4 garments, however, are well-made, durable and highly-wearable staples.
Next on the list is likely to be the Ginger Skirt. After that, I'm going to start tailoring a suit jacket, using Gertie's new tailoring Craftsy course as a complement to pattern instructions. Still determining whether I'll make this one:
or the princess seam, peplumed 40s-style suit jacket that Gertie herself designed and teaches in the Craftsy course, inspired by Dior's mid-century New Look.
I will write more about her interactive tailoring course soon but, have to say, I have rarely learned as much about sewing as I did when I followed Gertie's Lady Gray Coat sew along in Fall 2010. Gretchen brings a passion to tailoring that is utterly infectious. And she's incredibly organized in her teaching style.
So, any thoughts about where I'm at with the Spring Palette? Have you signed up for the Craftsy course? Done any suit tailoring lately - or intend to do some soon? Do tell.
Monday, February 20, 2012
Y'all know how I LOVE animal print. I have a Freya from years ago (cannot remember the style, long gone now) made of a jewel blue and hot pink animal print. Lord, I love that bra but it's too big in the back so it doesn't get a lot of wear. The string of the matching thong undies is actually made of pink velvet and the back of the thong has an embroidered hot pink heart that's larger than the size of a quarter! Now, that set was surprisingly practical. It had a flat profile so it could be worn under most anything. I wish I could find a stock photo of it.
The Nina, pictured above, is an unpadded (yay) plunge. I love that the straps continue the animal print pattern. And that floral decollete is so pretty, sexy - and weird.
I say the best place to go crazy with fashion is the under layer. Seriously, who's gonna know if you've gone nutty with florals and animal prints? (Of course, one's bras have to fit and be invisible under the shirt she happens to be wearing that day, but you know what I mean. Oh, and you know of my fixation with matching undies to bras. Unless you have style coming out the yin yang and the shape of a twenty-something, mismatched can look so unintentional - so unflattering.)
What do you think? Do you like the Nina? Do you prefer it to the Nieve? Do you enjoy a good plunge bra? Do you wear crazy patterned lingerie? Do you think I'm autocratic about the matching sets? Let's talk.
Sunday, February 19, 2012
For starters, the bra does fit small. Not seriously small, like that Curvy Kate Criss Cross bra, but you will probably want to go a cup size up from your norm. The construction is very kind to a bust that is full on top. It's quite low cut, almost demi as opposed to balconette, and the effect is full-on renaissance wench. The undies, on the other hand, are totally true to size and extremely flattering (as I find most Freya underwear to be).
I am happy to say that it's a rather short long line bra, so it doesn't cut into the abdomen or visually shorten an already short torso. There's only about an inch or inch and a half of "line" below the under wire.
The fabric is GORGEOUS. It's the most beautiful floral (doesn't actually look much like the photo), totally Liberty-print - but not in a twee way. Let's face it, it's hard to be twee when your tits are heaving.
On account of the low-cutness, I can't say it's the most supportive bra ever, but things are very secure from below the chest. The combo of underwire and construction (intriguingly, there is NO boning) are quite effective. It would be great, for example, peeking out from beneath a classic white button down. However, it's not a t shirt bra. There's too much embellishment, the cut is quite low, and the padding is quite observable to my eye.
On the topic of padding: There will be no nipple-shows (not that I care about that, particularly), but I think it's an utter stupidity. That's the only thing about this bra I can criticize. I understand that it's part of the design. It contributes to a very structured, very round, bust shape (hence the wench-look), but I don't appreciate the addition of any volume.
In short, this bra is an observably modern riff on an old-school style. I like it a lot and, while I debate its day-to-day practicality, it will definitely have place in my wardrobe. In truth, I prefer the flat top / pointed silhouette of the vintage long lines - I particularly love their supportiveness, but they are not widely appealing (nor are they any more flattering to the majority of breast shapes than the modern, sphere shape bras). I cannot wait for Freya to come out with a long line that is unpadded. Till then, I haven't got much negative to say about this one.
And, while I'm waxing on at length, I have to admit that I remeasured my under bust and it's actually more like 30.5 or 31 inches, not the 32 I have led you all to believe. Why is this relevant? Well, it casts some aspersions on my theory that one should wear (approximately) the same size band and one's under bust measurement in light of modern, textile improvements and construction methods. So, while I've been espousing that my (purported) 32 inch under bust is happily contained within a 32 inch band, I've actually got about an inch to an inch and a half of ease I haven't been accounting for.
How can I have made this stupid mistake? I mean, I take measurements all the time. Well, I've generally worn a bra when I measure - which is recommended - but I think the wires and under bands of the bra I've been using for this purpose have actually been adding bulk. My point - try taking the measurement both ways and see if you get different results.
I do have some 30 bands (though I'm a bit out of that range at the moment) so it's not like, case by case, a band and under bust size can't correlate exactly. But I have to rethink things. Any way you slice it, I am totally not - as a general rule - in favour of wearing a band that is more than 2 inches larger than your under bust measurement. But I'm reconsidering that those of you who describe the need for a +2 band / under bust correlation are likely onto something and not simply inculturated to wear a band that "should" be tighter. I'll certainly return to this topic when I have more perspective.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
I'm happy to know that culottes can look chic as anything on some of us! It gives me hope.
And while we're on the topic of bloggers who design patterns, my girl Suzy (the inspiration for my mad impulse to knit - which will return soon, I assure you) has embarked on a new career path:
Right now she's looking for some pattern testers but soon she'll be showing us her new designs.
Never a dull moment.
Monday, February 13, 2012
I must be on a kick because I couldn't stop myself from ordering the Freya Nieve Long Line Bra:
It matches these cute undies:
I've been wanting this thing for a long while but I've held off because the cups are lightly padded. I don't do padding. I don't know what voluptuous woman does, frankly, but there must be a bunch of them out there, since there are so many padded large-cup bras, it's crazy.
Here's why I finally took the plunge:
- The vertical cup construction intrigues me. I want to study it.
- The padding is apparently almost inconsequential, according to various reviews I've read - all of which were remarkably positive.
- It's long line. You know of my obsession.
- It's comes in 30 and 32 back sizes so those of us who don't have 34 inch plus rib cages can still get in on the action.
- It's pretty!
- I am obvious need of more lingerie in my wardrobe.
10 points if you can tell me which one of the previous bullets is not true :-)
In truth, I'm concerned it's going to be too small a) cuz I read it fits small after buying it (Note: I did look high and low for evidence of this before purchase but couldn't find any then, natch) b) cuz the last bra I bought was so I'm a bit flippy and c) padded bras tend to fit small. I wonder if the vertical seams in the cup will make things tighter or looser than a regular 3-piece cup construction (having diagonal seams). Could I have ordered 2 of this bra in different sizes when I was buying? Yes, but I decided to live on the edge. Again.
I'm also a bit concerned that the bra is not going to flatter if it's too long in the line and it meets up with my flabodmen (ha! I just made that up!). It looks to stop before the waist curve on the model, but hell she's a model - with a very long waist as you can see.
I somehow managed to score this for 20% off - simply because I looked for a promo code online and it worked. I ALWAYS look for promo codes when online shopping. It's amazing how often they pay off.
The full set, including shipping, was $66.00 CDN. Incredibly reasonable, IMO. I only hope it fits and looks good. I've been playing fast and loose with the online lingerie choices lately - trying new brands or entirely new styles with unusual (to me) construction methods. It's a worthy adventure - but I have to remember not be irritable if the items don't fit when they arrive. Let's keep our fingers crossed.
Sunday, February 12, 2012
Where to begin?
Well, they're not finished and I've been working on them steadily for 2 days (upwards of 12 hrs of actual sewing now). That's to say nothing of the hours I've spent tracing and altering and muslining and blogging. Which ones have I thrown my lot in with? The modern ones - with back crotch curve and darts altered like the McCalls vintage ones.
Fucking pleats! They're like sartorial instruments of torture. Between the spatial reasoning I had to develop to fold them and the fussiness of getting the seams aligned and being careful not to sew the wrong bits (or leave holes in the right bits) - not to mention that this fabric, for its many pluses, does not want to hold a crease - I am spent. I can scarcely care about bringing back the trend.
But we haven't begun to discuss how they actually look, oh no. They're a bit like something that would no doubt have me unceremoniously thrown off Project Runway - or seriously humiliated by Michael Kors.
I should have shortened the crotch length by an additional half an inch, at least. The crotch hangs halfway to my knees. Did I say that I have now taken 5 inches off the bottom (and they're still too long) and 2.5 inches out of each side seam (that's 5 inches of width, over all) and the things just continue to grow? WTF, people. How do these pants keep getting bigger?
OK, note to self: Do not accidentally cut a size up and then say it's ok cuz you're having a fat week. I should have made these in a size 12 - down from my usual size 14 - not a freakin' 16. There is SO MUCH FABRIC. The pleats add, like, a yard of it somehow.
In an effort to smallen them up, I increasingly hacked away at the internal construction, making it look like something out of a freak show. (There are internal side pockets which is why I didn't just easily serge a whack of the side seams and call it a day. Trust me, though, I did consider just serging off the pockets.)
Then there's the fact that, inasmuch as culottes are just like a skirt mixed with pants, culottes are NOT like a skirt, nor are they like pants. Instead of bringing the best of both, in this instance they appear to be a mash up of the worst elements culminating in a kind of sack-like effect. Note: It's not flattering.
Lest you wonder if wearing things large is slimming, I assure you it's not. It's absolutely as volume-adding as garments that are too small.
I've done the best I can with these so I'm going to hem them, add a hook and eye and see if all of my franken-efforts will yield a wearable piece.
OK, let's take 2 minutes to focus on the good, yes?
- If I were to make them again in a size 14, with a shorter crotch and with a creasable fabric minus the pleats, I imagine they would work well.
- As it is, the colour and drape of my fabric is awesome. And it somehow works perfectly with the spring palette colours I chose. It's not too brown - more mulberryish - and I love it.
- I don't have to worry that they're not adequately "retro". Trust me, they're like nothing out of this century or half of the last one.
- It's good to have to work one's brain in a new, painful way every once in a while. It's been a long time since I've been so frustrated and confused during a sewing project. I guess it's about time. Really, there's no learning in an easy project - just fun.
- Given how many challenges I have encountered with this project, I have persisted. Every time the bobbin ran out in the middle of an important seam, every time I had to find some way to alter things half-sewn, each frustrating moment that, initially and arrogantly, I felt insulated from on account of my having made a muslin - I worked through. There's something to be said for that.
Yes, I'm going to show them to you - probably on me, if they are wearable in the end. I just can't do it today. I need to regroup.
Do shower me with your consolation and head pats. Please.
Friday, February 10, 2012
So today I made it. Not as fast or intuitive as I thought it would be, but it wasn't hard to do:
I used the cotton jersey I bought to make a t shirt for the Spring Basics Palette. Not a t shirt, exactly, but it counts as part of the palette, as far as I'm concerned.
It looks much richer than I thought it would in this fabric. The drape is lovely and the little flower appliques are from NYC. I bought them when I was notions shopping with Mardel last year.
The back is weird:
That shawl shoulder thing is what gives the front its elegant lines, but I'm not sure about the back view. On me, it hangs better cuz I'm not covered in fabric for skin.
The thing is held together with three little snaps. You could easily use a pin or just let it hang open like a cardigan.
I didn't use my serger because I wanted a more vintage effect. I used applique scissors to trim the fabric close to the stitching and it worked fine. However, I was not looking for a fussy top with lots of slip stitching (that's what it calls for). I used my machine to top stitch everything. That means I can easily throw this in the washer and dryer on delicate.
Thursday, February 9, 2012
I spent a good, stressful, 30 minutes on the phone with both Fabric Mart and FedEx to try to resolve this. Fabric Mart, apparently, lobbied unsuccessfully with FedEx on my behalf. In the end, I convinced the shipping dept. to leave the parcel on my porch "as long as the courier felt comfortable with the security of the environment". The alternative would have been to return the fabric as I'm not hauling ass for an hour by public transit to pick up a parcel. Fabric Mart agreed that this wouldn't be reasonable and agreed to refund my money for returned fabric - though not for the $30.00 of shipping (half of the total charge for 4.5 yards of fabric).
Every fucking time I order fabric online (twice now) or other stuff that arrives from America via courier (too many times to count), I have such a dicey experience. Somehow things never implode when I order from the UK.
Yes, I've got an axe to grind. I shouldn't have to order things to my American parents for re-post to me (USPS creates fewer difficulties). I shouldn't have to pay $30.00 for the privilege of crappy service. I blame Fabric Mart as much as FedEx. If they cared about my regular business, they wouldn't be charging me almost 400% more in shipping than they do someone who lives 2 hours drive away from me (on the other side of the Canada-US border). And they wouldn't expect me to manage the stupidity of bad courier service. Indeed, they wouldn't be using bad courier service.
In brief defense of Fabric Mart, they have recently changed their shipping method because the post office in the region is closing. And they were assured, so they told me, that FedEx wouldn't erect barriers to simple delivery. Of course, they should have beta tested that on someone other than me, no? They did say, were I to order from them again, that I could indicate a preference for USPS shipping and they'd find a way to make it happen. I wonder if they're advertising that to others, or if they'll change their newly minted FedEx arrangement in light of what they've just discovered about FedEx.
The sad thing about this situation is that the fabric I received is good. The modal is actually of excellent quality and the colour is great. It came with matched thread (for extra $). And the lavender sweater knit, while synthetic to the touch, does not look it. It's got lovely drape and hand.
But you know what they say: Challenging fabric-buying experience, good sewing experience. Or is that something I made up?
Update to respond to Kay's comment about shopping local: Trust me, I shop local more often than I order online re: every kind of item except for RTW lingerie. If I can buy a) Canadian-made products and/or b) anything from local shops I will every time - unless the prices are sincerely out of control (as is the case with RTW lingerie). When the costs are outrageous, I have to decide how to spend my money and, sometimes I will buy online. Note: Vis a vis local lingerie - I bought at bricks and mortar shops for 10 years before I got sick of the mark up. So I did my time supporting that local import, IMO.
Now, on the topic of buying fabric locally - except for 2 occasions (the latest from Fabric Mart, documented yesterday) - I have done this every time. I am frequently dismayed by the lack of good knits, specifically sweater options, in luxe textiles. I've been known to spend 30 bucks a yard on fabric at a local shop, simply to support my continued ability to purchase locally in the future.
This summer, the last large-scale Canadian fabric store (FabricLand) closed shop at the only central location they had remaining (at Yonge and Bloor), despite the fact that I spent hundreds of dollars a year there while it was around. Now there are no full-service options left that I can get to with any convenience - I don't have a car and I don't hoof it to the middle of nowhere - I live downtown for a reason.
I support King Textiles, World Sew and numerous other small shops in the garment district on a regular basis. Sometimes, I want something that I can't find in TO so I go off-road. I'm not apologizing for it. I very strongly believe in shopping locally. I also believe in getting what I want.
PS: I have routinely spoken with shop-keepers of all ilks about stocking my preferred items. Sometimes they're game - and I keep on with them. Other times they decline for a variety of economic or logistical reasons, in which case I look elsewhere. Thanks for raising this question, Kay.
Sunday, February 5, 2012
Let me start with the requisite provisos:
- The photos you are about to see are not lovely, they're functional. I'm wearing fabric in a dicey colour. The lengths of fronts and backs of these franken-muslins are not equal (I approximated when I cut the leg openings). I'm rather impressed by my "sewing documentarian" drive. I could not feel more wretched about how I looked at the moment they were taken - no doubt, aided by a hideous hormonal situation.
- I thought taking photos would clearly tell the story - and indicate which pattern works best on me. I'm not sure if the exercise has yielded that effect.
- In this instance, crotch curve is almost meaningless, from what I can tell. The crotch, on each pair, hangs far enough away from my own body that it is - and need be - simply an approximation of the human crotch curve.
- I used 5/8" seam allowances, as both patterns instruct. Neither muslin fits small. Remember, I probably could have stood to go down a size (based on the size of my sloper), esp. if I diminished seam allowances to 3/8" or 1/4".
- At first, I actually wore the McCalls pattern backwards?! Something seemed off, but I couldn't quite figure out what was wrong. Um, it's weird when that can happen.
- Remember, I closed the pleats so what you're going to see is not actually an accurate representation of the final fit in the leg - just in the crotch. This is particularly germane as pertains to the vintage McCalls, which extends the pleat to the waistband. That means, should I choose to make the vintage culottes, there will be a big ole pleat right at the thickest part of my body. Not so appealing, on reconsideration. Mind you, maybe it would be chic in its authenticity and in light of its overall curvier dimensions? Not surprisingly, the modern pattern curtails the pleat at the base of the crotch on each leg. Modern designers seem to recognize that women of this era don't tend to want to emphasize abdominal girth.
OK, get out your critical sewing faculties...
As you can see, the modern pattern, on the left, has 2 darts in the front and a much narrower profile. The McCalls, on the right, is so wide at the leg opening that I question whether I like it (at least when it's lying flat).
And here you can see the Butterick muslin on me. I think the hips and legs fit well. The waist could use a little narrowing.
Here's a close up of the crotch curve. Note: You think I'd have taken more care with the sewing given that y'all are going to be looking at the minutiae, but I was really just trying to get from point A to point B. Sloppy sewing is very evident in the next photo, the shot of the culottes derriere:
I realize that I look rather asymmetrical here. That's as much cuz the pants legs are totally uneven as because I pinned the back. I did press the seams but not until after I sewed everything up (so lazy!) so the wrinkly bit below the arrow is about bad ironing.
Above is a photo of the drape at the crotch. It looks quite like that of the Buttericks, as far as I can tell. Of course, the pattern pieces are practically the same at the crotch so that shouldn't come as a surprise. Note that the vintage pattern has a higher rise. It actually covers my navel, even in the absence of a waistband. I estimate this is a 10.5 inch rise. (I should measure it.)
Now, gotta say, I don't know if it's cuz I pressed this garment better, or if it's because the darts are a different width (they are definitely longer) than the Butterick ones, but the back side here looks better than the Buttericks. It doesn't hurt that the back legs are practically the same length in this photo... Or that this pair has a side opening, not a back opening, so the integrity of the back piece isn't being impacted by the lack of a proper closure.
- Do you agree with my fit assessments?
- Do you have any solutions for improving the fit on the Butterick backs?
- Do you think that the McCalls are a lost cause, given the front pleat situation?
- Which pair would you make? Which pair looks better-suited to my shape, in your opinion?
Recently, Brastop.com was having a mega sale on various styles. How mega? Well, I was able to buy a set, all in, with shipping and tax, for $40.00 CDN. (Note: Brastop, also fairly tacky, while we're telling it like it is, has the best prices on bras evah. I suggest you check it out before buying on Figleaves. Cuz when the styles are there, the prices can't be beat.)
Anyway, the style is not new - it's the Criss Cross, of which the company stocks variations regularly. I wanted a new "basic" black bra, good under most outfits, and this one fit the bill:
You can see the matching thong undies here, but only in red, for some reason... I was able to buy them in black.
This thing took 2 weeks to arrive at which point I was seriously intrigued to rip open the parcel and to try on the bra which was - wait for it - too small.
Yes, my friends, much as I have told you all again and again, the likelihood of buying a new brand of bra, sight unseen, that fits - even when you know your own shape incredibly well - is, well, slim.
It's super irritating. It makes me question the universe and my place within it. I would have been smarter to buy 2 or 3 sizes in the one order. But I didn't, so I had to return the bra I did buy for the next size up. Thankfully that size was in stock. And now I'm waiting for it.
Let me tell you: The Criss Cross fits small in the back and in the cup - at least compared with Freya and most of the other brands listed above (but not Panache, which also fits small in the cup). If you're on the cusp of either, go up a size. You know how I extol the virtues of the snug back. Well, this one was almost too tight for me to deal with. Almost - but I hate it when bands loosen after 10 wears - so I'm going to stick with the norm and give it a go. The cup, alas, the one I bought was too small. How do I know? Well, the gores didn't sit flat against my chest. Breast tissue smushed toward the side cups. Sure, the under wire was flat against my rib cage. No, there wasn't any top-cup pillowing. But this thing was too small.
All this is to say, it's all in a day's work of online bra shopping. Until you know a brand - and maybe even the individual styles within it - it's guessing. Doesn't matter how much time you spend thinking about bras and fit and the like.
What's my sense of Curvy Kate, at this point? The quality is quite good from a fit and support perspective. The materials are not luxe but they are wearable. (In truth, I prefer a higher quality fabric.) I suspect this line provides a great way to get good fit without spending a fortune. So, for all of you out there who have told me that you need support, like to wear "sexy" and youthful looks and are either unwilling or unable to spend $150 - $200 on a set, this may be for you. Seriously, you couldn't walk into a department store and find a matching set for less than $40. And while that price is on super sale, those deals are available on a semi-regular basis online.
Saturday, February 4, 2012
Winter is very drab. I can't complain of cold; I've worn my 3/4 sleeve spring jacket with the exception of 2 really freezing days. But what we sacrifice for warmth is sun. It's the way it goes in this geographic area. Intermittent high pressure systems (cold and clear), which tend to come from the arctic, allow the heat to bleed off into space at night, resulting in extreme daytime cold - but glorious sun. When it's warmer and more humid here, that warm air has come from the south; it brings insulating clouds at night. Clouds that do not dissipate in the day. The jet stream (as part of the La Nina effect?), with all its cold air, has mercifully stayed well north this winter and has completely missed us thus far. So we're living in the endless, damp, early November. Have I ever mentioned how depressing it is in November in Toronto?
Any Canadian reading that last paragraph is smiling right now. Admit it. All we talk about here is the weather.
All of this is a propos of justifying my latest purchases, online or otherwise. When the weather sucks, trinkets bring a metaphoric warmth.
You know about my vintage pattern foray. What a great experience that has been. Most recently I acquired simple, vintage blouse instructions online, by pdf:
I also bought modern patterns, for example B5681 the Culottes challenge comparator.
On this topic, you may be aware that I intend to tailor a couple of suit jackets this summer. I already own this Claire Schaeffer pattern. But I do appreciate less conservative jackets, which is where this one comes in:
I have to be honest, while this modern take on a vintage pattern is totally appealing, and while I experienced prompt client service, the shipping mark-up charged by this independent pattern company strongly disinclines me to ever order from there again. In brief, I had a few (polite) conversations with a contact who explained every which way that they were not going to change the policy wherein sending a USPS package to Canada costs almost as much as the pattern itself. The times are changing peeps. MANY companies are starting to realize that it's unfair to make money on Canadian shipping - when they're not doing the same extortionate thing in their native lands.
Then there's my latest online fabric purchase moment:
And, while we're on this topic - how is it that I go instantly from spending a half hour cleaning out scraps from and organizing my fabric cupboard to buying new stuff I'll barely be able to fit into it??
Look, I have a rationale: The sweater knit is to make the aforementioned magic blouse (it's not in the Spring colour scheme, but whatevs). And modal is something that you should buy whenever you can find it. Neither sweater knit nor modal are readily available in my city. And, the total cost still brought my fabric to under 15 bucks a yard. Nonetheless, the shipping has put me off, yet again. I have enough access to fabric locally that, next time I feel like going far afield, I'm most likely to take a trip to NYC and buy a whack of fabric from the garment district, rather than to incur charges that irritate me.
Finally, I bought one other item, RTW at a bricks and mortar store - a very unusual occurrence for me. As you know, I have need of slightly more conservative clothing in my current role, as I attend a few meetings a month of the most formal, professional variety. Holt Renfrew was having a sale and I got the following suit (note: I got mine in the richest navy, natch):
Oh, I know, rub it in my face how I said suits are so cliche, so old-school. But the early-90s girl in me just couldn't get the jacket without the pants. Even though I'm kind of on the fence about the pants. They're that low slung style that the young people wear. I had to order in a larger size from Calgary because I cannot bear to wear my pants tight in the ass. And the alterers will need to remove the front internal pockets (they add bulk) and shorten them by a very wasteful foot of fabric. No, I'm not altering them myself. Even though they will charge for alteration on sale merch, I have no interest in spending a whack on pants (on sale) followed by doing my own alterations.
The jacket fit me perfectly, PERFECTLY, right off the hanger. That's almost unheard of in my universe. So, till I can DIY clothier my own suits, this one will be an elegant alternative.
Note that I do not take a purchase of this financial magnitude lightly. But I do think formal wear (and that's what a suit is, after all) should be very well-made and perfectly fitted. Theory never fails on these fronts. I'm of an age and stage that I choose only to wear what looks and feels excellent. And I am tremendously grateful to have that ability at this time.
I can't wait to perfect a couple of fitted jacket slopers - at which point I'll be able to make my own suits in every format, with relatively luxe materials, likely for under 200 bucks each.
So, what are your thoughts on any or all of the zillions of pics and links within this post? Let's strike up some interesting conversation.
Crazy Update: Man, I totally forgot about a whole other purchase I neglected to discuss. That's going to have to be the subject of another post. This day has to start sometime...