Archive for September, 2010

Burda Score – Times Two

September 28th, 2010 6 comments

I’m in Hungary right now — yeah, I’m surprised, too — and guess what I found at a gas station on the day I arrived:

Yes, at a GAS STATION!  I can hardly find Burda Style in the United States, but they’re sitting around at gas stations in Budapest.

And the price?  Less than $4.50 USD apiece.  Eat your hearts out, poor deprived North Americans.  (Don’t worry, I’ll be crying next  month.)

That was Sunday  night.  Today (it’s Tuesday here), I found the October issue at a news stand near the gas station:

Of course, the instructions are all in Hungarian, but given the quality of Burda’s directions, I don’t count that as any kind of disadvantage.  I’m tap dancing here, people!  Budapest is wonderful, and this was frosting on the cake.  Or, rather, frosting on the torte.

Categories: Books/Magazines Tags:

Vogue 8151 – Darted Tee

September 14th, 2010 6 comments

I’ve never been a big fan of Sandra Betzina’s patterns; they seem a little, just slightly, on the matronly side.  Really nice patterns, if you were inclined that way, but, I don’t know, blocky maybe?  Maybe kind of matronly?  And I’ve always thought this had something to do with the “Today’s Fit” sizing, which I read as being for bigger, more “mature” women.

Well, whether or not the rest of me is following, my bust seems to have joined the “bigger, more mature” category.  I’m having fit issues, so, Sandra, here I come!  I still can’t get my head around the style issues, but I’m looking for a tee I can live with, so I started with this Betzina tee:

The one one the right.  Yep, a tee shirt with a dart.  It’s come to this .  .  .

This poor thing’s been through a hard day, and my pose is wonky, so please forgive both of us for looking so, well, ratty.  This pattern comes in Betzina’s A, B, C sizing.  I cut a size C, except in the shoulders, where I cut an A.  (Betzina’s Today’s Sizing has a bust size similar to Vogue, but a much larger waist, and a larger hip.  Only the bust size was relevant for my top, of course.)

We’re not going to discuss the fact that my bust is asymmetrical, and that I’m not going to wear the kind of armor that would correct this normal, human issue.  Suffice to say, the darts are symmetrical, even if I’m not.  It does look as if there’s a little bit of pulling across the chest, though, so I need to address that.  My bust is one inch larger than the C size, so, in this case, I guess I should have trusted Vogue sizing.

I dropped the bust dart by 1.5 inches, to accommodate my real bust, and shortened the dart by .5 inch, so it didn’t run across the front of my chest.  I also lengthened the top by one inch, and took .25 inch out of each side of the back neck to conform to my shape there.  (I remembered to alter the neckband to accommodate that change; that’s a critical step.)

The dart placement is just right, though there’s a little pulling at the lower front of the armhole.  Is that fit, or the result of my bizarre, chicken-wings pose???  I haven’t gotten this “modeling garments” thing down yet.

The back is fine, but someday I really am going to have to address the swayback issues.

Other reviewers have noted that these sleeves are tight; they are, but I like this fit.  I think most people wouldn’t, and if I were actually as big everywhere as Betzina’s size C, these sleeves wouldn’t work on me.

So, does it make sense to wear a tee shirt with darts to accommodate a larger bust?  I kind of think maybe it does.  If  I buy RTW tee shirts that fit my bust, I’m swimming in the rest of the shirt, because the rest of me just isn’t that big.  I’d rather feel relaxed in a tee shirt than slobby, so maybe this is a better choice.  Interestingly, I really liked wearing this shirt — it felt like clothes, not like a sack I’d pulled on, but was still just as easy-to-wear as any old tee.

Incidentally, I cut this shirt from a heavyweight Fruit of the Loom men’s tee.  Ever noticed what great colors men’s tees come in these days?  Much nicer than the pastel, icky women’s shades.  And the fabric, while nothing to write home about, is about 1000% nicer than cotton knits at JoAnn’s.  Lots cheaper, also, even if you need two.

Categories: Tops Tags:

Reality Check

September 11th, 2010 10 comments

A lot of people have asked me to post a picture wearing my clown pants, so here it is.  I was fooling around when Mr. Noile was taking my picture, and when I saw the result, I realized that my pose was the complete antithesis of the photo on the pattern envelope.

First, one top is tucked in and one isn’t; one top has sleeves, and the other doesn’t;  one set of arms is tossed outward, one is folded inward; one set of  feet are together and one isn’t; one model is 5”9″, one is (*cough) shorter; one coif — well, we’re not going to get personal here.  Here are the two images, side by side, for the full effect:

Reality check!  Professional model versus the amateur who just got back from a picnic.   Can you tell the difference??  (Hint: the amateur is wearing water-safe Keens, whilst the professional has on a very cool pair of spectator shoes.  Happy to help!)

It’s just possible that these pants weren’t meant to be worn with a common tee shirt, or to a picnic full of Linux users.  Whatever.  They’re the most comfortable thing I’ve worn for alfresco dining in 75 degree weather in a long time.

I’m posting a couple of views of just the pants (modeled, that is, by the amateur) below, so that you can see them without distraction.

I’ve just noticed for the first time that the pants in the pattern photo don’t curve across the top of the foot — the hem is straight across.  On the other hand, you can barely make out the curve in the photo above because the hem is caught on the elastic pull tabs on the sandals.  Reality bites!

Also, I’ve just learned that white fabric is transparent, no matter how opaque it looks off a body.  Photos are so educational!

Here’s the back:

Didn’t get a good shot here with skin showing, but hey, this isn’t MPB and you won’t catch me encroaching on Peter’s turf (or his calendar plans.  You can thank me later.)

You can barely tell in the photo above, but the hem comes midway up my heel; exactly where I wanted it.

If you recall from my previous post, I trimmed quite a bit off the waist on these pants.  I think the next pair is going to get a fair bit chopped off the sides and legs, too.  I left a little more ease in the hips and legs than I probably should have for this pair; that was deliberate, as these have no give at all, and I really didn’t want fabric plastered to my body in summer heat.  I could shave another half inch off each side seam without losing the effect.  (“Ya think?” said Mr. Noile, with another of those eye rolls.  Hmmm.)

The tall amongst us should note that the proportions would be nicer with long legs, but these pants are so much fun, and so wonderful to wear, that shorties like me shouldn’t be discouraged.  Equal rights for all — that’s what makes this country great!

Previously:  Vogue 1116 – The Clown Pants!

Categories: Pants Tags:

Simplicity 5502 – Chevrons

September 9th, 2010 9 comments

This is about a 45 minute top — there’s nothing to it really, so whipping one up is really no problem.  I love stripes, though, and that makes all the difference.  Twenty minutes to sew, and a lifetime to match the stripes:

I weigh 121 pounds in these pictures, but I look like a linebacker.  Let this be a lesson to you:  Stripes are not your friend.  I don’t care, though, because I love the thrill of matching them up.  I cut a size 12, which Simplicity calls a 34 bust.  Right.  Mine is 37, and I’ve got plenty of room in this top.  What is wrong with these people?

See those folds next to my bust?  That’s where darts should be.  Or at least, it’s where you’d put a dart if the sleeve weren’t a dolman.  But, gee, it’s a tee-shirt!  Who wants structure in a tee-shirt?  (The next knit shirt I make is going to have darts, though.  I need to know if I can live with a dart-fitted tee.  And find out if a fitted tee is actually a good idea. )

I made view F, with longer sleeves and the v-neck:

Here’s the back, also not flattering and in need of some serious swayback help:

This is just a knock-around tee, so I’m not too concerned about these issues.  It’s comfortable, and easy to wear.  The sleeves are cut all-in-one with the bodice (there are just two pattern pieces), and that’s not really a slimming look, either, especially if, like me, you’re a little bustier than your size would suggest.

The sleeves are perfect on me, which means that they  may be a little on the short side for someone with longer arms.  The pattern envelope doesn’t say that they are 3/4ths length, but I’ll bet that’s what they are on a taller woman.  I suspect that Simplicity skimped because this diagonal design uses a lot of fabric; longer sleeves might mean a more contorted cutting layout.  It’s odd that they don’t mention that the sleeves are short though.

The instructions have you just turn and stitch the raw edges.  That’s what I did for the hem and sleeves, but I bound the neckline with bias tape to stabilize it and give it a nicer finish.  I really prefer to make a facing on a v-neck top like this; if I make it again, I’ll draft one and do that instead.  I added two inches to the hem; that’s great for tucking it in, but it’s really more than I needed.  An inch would have been fine.

The chevrons turned out well.  I matched them everywhere — center front and back; side seams; and shoulder/sleeve seams.  I love this stuff.  It makes my geeky heart sing.

I’ve documented my frustrations with knit hems before, but this time I tried something new I read about somewhere.  (Can’t remember where, unfortunately.)  I used wooly nylon in the bobbin, winding it loosely and gently by hand.  Then I did the topstitching with a double needle.  The result was smooth and beautiful, inside and out.

Matching stripes isn’t difficult at all; it just takes care and patience.  The trick is to cut each garment piece as precisely as possible.  There are several ways to do this.  It’s important to cut each piece individually, making sure that each obvious line matches up with its mate on the seamline.  It’s not actually the edge that you care about; it’s where the seam falls that matters.

When I sewed with plaids, I’d actually draw the major lines of the plaid onto the pattern pieces so that I could match them perfectly when I reversed the tissue pattern to cut a corresponding left, right, front or back piece.  Stripes are easier.  You can draw them, too, on your pattern tissue, but another, faster method, is simply to turn your cut piece over with the tissue still attached, align the stripes perfectly, and then cut the second piece out.

I’m a killer at pin basting; I hate to baste anything with thread, and over the years I’ve become very proficient at using pins to hold my unsewn garment together under the needle.  But for perfect alignment, I pin stripes first, and then baste.  When the margins are so small, you really don’t want a stray pin shifting even a thread or two as you sew.

I think Mr. Noile isn’t a big fan of this one.  When I took it in to show him, he rolled his eyes and said it reminded him of this:

Then he beckoned me to step closer to the screen, so that I could fully experience instant vertigo.  I think he’s trying to tell me something.

Image source:  (If anyone knows the original source, please let me know.)

Dorothy, in the comments below, suggests that this may be from this link (see “Impossible-figure rotating snakes 2” and prepare for extreme eye agony if you follow the link!)

Categories: Tops Tags:

Vogue 1116 – The Clown Pants!

September 8th, 2010 7 comments

Yes, the andreakatzobjects AKO atrocities!  And I love, love, love them!

Remember how I was vowing, in my very last post, about how I was never going to make anything geometric again, blah, blah, blah?  Well, I forgot about Vogue 1116.  In my defense, though, I just want to point out that this geometry has nothing to do with the rounded parts of my body.  This is a whole different matter.

I did NOT make the insane bow.  I have no problem running all around town in wacky pants, but even I am not eccentric enough to sew a huge decorative sash to the back of a pair of pants I may actually want to wear while sitting.

Because I no longer trust Vogue’s sizing chart, I used a size 12 pattern, although my waist is theoretically an inch-and-a-half too large for size 12.  I had a feeling that I’d be drowning in size 14 legs, so there was no way I was going there.

I did add 1.5 cm to the front waist, and reduced the back waist measurement by .5, since I was nervous about ease.  As a result, my initial fitting meant that my size 12 was 1 cm larger than Vogue’s.*  I didn’t really need that 1 cm, but the pants fit better because of the front/back alteration.  In the end, though, I had to make them smaller.  See the asterisked note below.

Majorly wrinkly; I know.   (Just like Vogue’s!)  I love crushed cotton and linen, though.  No complaints here.  Good thing, too, since every time they’re folded, they wrinkle anew.

The real challenge here was altering the length.  Not surprisingly, there’s no provision on the pattern tissue for an alteration anywhere but in the crotch.  After pin-fitting the pieces (fun, fun, fun — if you try it, you’ll see why!), I eyeballed the trickiest bits — the fronts and sides — metaphorically closed my eyes, and drew a straight line right above where the leg “boxes” begin.  Then I shortened the pants by 4 cm, which turned out to be perfect.

You probably think that the wildest thing about these pants is the sculptural affect on the legs.  But you’d be wrong!  The wackiest thing is the hem — the pant legs are hemmed straight across the back and side, but they’re curved — and faced!! — across the front.  Strange, indeed.  You can’t really see it in Vogue’s photo, but the curve follows the top of my foot very nicely.  It’s one of those wonderful touches no one will notice, but the maker knows is there.

The facing and hems didn’t match up perfectly; I’m guessing that’s my fault, not Vogue’s, and a result of my shortening the pattern.  But when I make these again, I won’t bother with the facing at all; I’ll trim the pant legs and face them with bias binding, turn it under and topstitch.   I think the facing’s just a lot of bother for no good reason.

The pants are meant to be lined, but that’s not happening in my lifetime.  Instead, I used the enclosed facing pieces (yes!  no drafting for me!) to face the waist.  I carefully used a cotton/poly as close to my skin tone as I could find, forgetting completely that I only had white interfacing on hand.  Oh well; the fabric’s opaque enough that it really wasn’t an issue.

Here’s a view of the back:

These pants were so much fun to make!  There you are, sewing along, making what looks like a perfectly normal pant leg.  Then you pivot, pivot again, and once more and bam! suddenly there’s a three-dimensional something under your needle! It just doesn’t get better than this.

The fabric is a new IKEA duvet rescued from the AS-IS bin.  I wanted something white and crisp, but not just ordinary sheeting, so this mondo-seersucker fit the bill perfectly.  And how much do I love having designer pants from IKEA’s cast-offs?  A bunch, folks, a bunch!

Tip for wearing:  The sculptural effect in the legs morphs when wearing the pants.  The legs become shape-shifters.  Although this is a rather cool effect, and probably part of the designer’s overall scheme, it’s not necessarily desirable when actually wearing the pants.  I ended up tacking the lower front of the jutting triangle to the pants legs on both sides.  This preserved the geometry, but made the pants far more wearable.

* This gets confusing:  After I wore the pants, I ended up taking in the waist another 6 cm, or about 2.4 inches.  This is a woven, non-stretch fabric, and the “ease” gapped badly when I was actually moving around.  This final alteration made my version of these pants over two inches narrower in the waist than the Vogue size 12 version. According to Vogue, I’m a perfect size 14 in the waist, so this is another score for Vogue’s ridiculous size chart.  Way to go, Vogue:  Mystery sizing — that’ll keep the home-sewing market strong!

Update:  A few more photos and observations at Reality Check

Categories: Pants Tags:

Vogue 1192

September 6th, 2010 9 comments

So I’m spending this year getting fit, and I’ve decided that I’m tired of wearing boxy, over-sized clothes that look good in theory, but pretty awful on actual bodies.  Now I want clothes that are shaped like me, not like inhuman geometry.

I began with Vogue 1192, an Anne Klein design.  I checked Vogue’s size table, and this is what I discovered:   My measurements are 37-28-36.  Size 14 in Vogue is 36-28-38.  Pretty close, right?  I realized I might need to take in the hip, but, on the other hand, maybe not, as the dress looked a little slim.  The critical measurement was the bust, so I cut my  muslin in a 14, realizing that the bust might need some tweaking.  (This dress is the muslin; matters went no further.)

And whoa, Mama, did it need tweaking!  I whipped up the muslin, and it looked like a sack.  Everywhere — bust, waist, hips.  You could have wrapped me in several layers of cotton wool, and it still wouldn’t have fit.

So I re-cut the sleeves and shoulder seams to a size 12.  Then I removed nearly 3 inches each from the waist and the bust!  Yep, the very same bust that was supposed to fit one an inch smaller than mine.   And that hip?  It lost two and a half inches, and there’s still plenty of ease.

This fit, nicely

and still with plenty of ease.

I realize that the dress is supposed to be lined, but this amount of ease is absurd for lining, isn’t it?  If I’d lined the dress, I still would have been swimming in the thing.

Not to mention that the size chart wasn’t the only issue with this pattern.  There’s something seriously strange about the left side bodice piece.  Part of the problem is the giant, one-size dart which is on the left bodice only.  One size, Vogue?  For women who wear Vogue sizes 8 to 14?  How on earth could all those busts get a proper fit with a one-size dart?

Not to mention that the complete lack of a taper leaves a cute, pointy little pocket.  If you’re wearing a Jane Russell bra, this might work, but, in my case, I was grateful for the busy print, which makes the ohh-la-la point a little difficult to see:

It’s only on the left side; there’s no dart on the right.  I couldn’t help but notice that the woman modeling the dress on the pattern envelope has no bust at all.  This would make fitting simple, as long as you 1) ignored the dart or 2) buried it completely under the pleats, and just hoped for the best.

The other part of the problem has to do with the cut of the left bodice.  It floats strangely; if I’d lined the dress, I would have had to anchor it to the lining.  It’s boxy where the dress, and  my body, aren’t.

The right crossover goes across the fullest part of my breast (if the Vogue’s model had one, it would go right across hers, too); and the left cross-under bunches weirdly under the bust.  In order to keep the bodice smooth, I had to tack the two layers together at the center front neckline.  It’s a fakeout, though, not a real solution.  I was waaaay too sick of this dress to even consider re-drafting the left bodice.

I added two small darts at the back neckline, but that probably wasn’t a Vogue problem — I may be a little round-shouldered.  A lifetime of wearing knits may have successfully obscured this.

The pleat actually falls nicely; I’m standing with my left leg forward for some reason.  Art?  Perhaps.  Also, I haven’t hemmed the skirt yet, and probably  never will (it’s just basted here).  Enough, already, with this dress.

There’s another little bit of deception on the pattern envelope:  The hem appears to fall mid-knee on the model.  I’m going to go out on a limb here, and guess that the model is not 5 feet, 3 inches tall; they never are.  This dress, cut in Vogue’s size 14, goes to my mid-knee.  Unhemmed.  I claim I’m 5-foot-3, but it’s not really true.  I’m 5 feet, 2.5 inches on a good day, which, you’ll understand, this wasn’t.  The size 14 length  hits just above mid-knee on me, and that’s with a 3/4ths inch hem!

Also, can anyone explain why there are different cutting lines for the front hem in all size versions, but only one cutting line for the back hem?   Is there a reason why you’d cut the front to a size 8 length, but then attach it to a size 14 length back?  Just asking, because, d’oh, that just makes no sense at all.

Auntie Allyn made this dress in a knit; the pattern calls for woven yardage.  Allyn’s version worked very well for her; maybe using a knit is part of the secret.  Hers looks fantastic; she didn’t line it either, and just finished the edges by turning and stitching.  I used bias tape to finish the neck and armholes on my woven fabric; it was quick and clean.

Pattern:  FAIL

Dress:  It’s just kind of meh.  I thought it would be a more chic version of the ubiquitous wrap dress, but it’s just kind of neither here nor there.  I will never, ever make it again.  Kludgey fixes do not make for good repeat projects.  And Vogue?  Favorite pattern-maker of my youth?  I’m not loving you so much these days.

Categories: Dresses Tags:

Vogue 8675

September 4th, 2010 No comments

As many bloggers have already noted, the illustration for this pattern evokes a big “ho hum”;  it looks like just another boring Vogue basic:

Then, a lot of us saw this photo, and took a second look:

Much better, isn’t it?  When I looked at the actual pattern, I loved the sleeve shaping, which follows the shoulder curve.  The side seams also provide some extra, flattering, shaping.  I saw this as my chance to make a jacket that offered some of the geometric edginess of a Marcy Tilton pattern, but without the boxy, unfriendly-to-humans shape that Tilton’s jacket patterns almost always feature.

Did I get my wish?  Well, kind of:

I originally made view B, the long version, with pockets.  Vogue says I’m a size 14, so I cut a size 10, which fit perfectly, except that view B was way, way too long for my 5’2.5″ height.  I was drowning in this thing!  (Vogue’s sizing chart is a joke, but that’s another post.)  I ended up cutting about 3 inches off the length — not quite enough to make it as short as view A, which looks awfully boxy in the line drawings.  My sleeves are also 4 cm shorter than Vogue’s.

My pockets are larger than Vogue’s — that might not have been the best choice, but since they’re hardly visible in this print, it’s not much of an issue.  I don’t know why anyone uses a 5/8ths inch seam on patch pockets, but that’s because I always line (and usually interface) mine.  Then I use a much smaller seam and turn the pocket.  This gives me better control on a curved edge, and a neater result.

I used a completely unnecessary Hong Kong seam finish because I just love it, and, since this jacket is unlined, I wanted to see more than a raw edge every time I wore it.

Because I was seduced by the photo of the coat closed with a pin, I added a jumbo button with an extra-large snap underneath, to give the effect of a pin without the fuss.

This was a “wearable muslin”, so I used a stable knit that I had around.  (The pattern calls for a lightweight woven.)  I knew that if I didn’t make another one, I’d still probably like using this on a plane, where I often want a blanket, but need to bring wear my own.  This could be a perfect “carry-on” coat/sweater.  Wearable on a trip, but cozy like a blanket on planes.

The knit actually worked very well, except that mitering the two angled corners at the hem was a bit iffy.  I think using a lighter woven would give a better drape, too, although this fabric actually falls nicely on my body.  The knit fronts cling a bit to each other, which turned out to be an asset when the jacket is closed; the under layer of a tighter woven would likely need some kind of anchor (a tie or snap or something of the sort) to keep it in place if the jacket were fastened closed.

Because I didn’t want to do any hand-stitching on this project, I used this accessory foot to “stitch in the ditch” to attach the neck facing to the shoulder dart:

This is the first time I’ve used this foot, and it worked amazingly well.  The blade separates the sides of the seam just enough to hide the stitching perfectly.

Vogue’s directions were simple and clear; the pattern pieces look wonky, but go together perfectly.  Was it a success?  Well, I think so — I do get some of the geometric flair from the angled hem, and the cut of the jacket is much more flattering to a real human shape than that of most unfitted jackets.  But it’s probably time for me to face the fact that over-sized garments, however well-cut, are just not flattering on someone of my size and height.  This jacket is perfect for tall, willowy Auntie Allyn.  It’s merely OK on short, petite Noile.  Sigh.

Categories: Coats/Capes/Wraps Tags:


September 4th, 2010 2 comments

SewStylish featured handmade pincushion doughnuts in the Fall 2010 issue.  (Why do they do this?  I mean, feature Etsy artisans?  Are readers of SewStylish really going to go out and buy stuff they could make??  Of course not; we’re going to be inspired and copy.  It’s not a bad question, is it?)  Anyway, I’ve been needing a pincushion, and, even more, needing a small, quick project that would get me back in to the sewing room.

Fortunately, I don’t like doughnuts, so there was zero chance this would send me to the local bake shop, or even to the kitchen, to overindulge.  If I liked doughnuts, I’d prefer chocolate, so that’s what I made.  It’s made of ordinary cheapy craft felt, but the pliable kind, not the stiff stuff.

I cut a doughnut-shaped piece of plastic and inserted it into the stuffing at dead center so that there was no chance that I could stick a pin all the way through, since I intend to wear this on my wrist.  That should be deliciously ludicrous — but quite practical.

Sniping aside, everyone should go to WoollyDuck on Etsy and see what the deranged and brilliant person behind the shop has done with felted wool.   Absolute genius!   Could I do this at home?  Not on your life.  So maybe SewStylish wasn’t so far off base, after all —  maybe it was just the the focus of the article that was off base, and SewStylish should have been celebrating the craft, not just featuring pincushions.

Mr. Noile has vetoed buying “Fish and Chips” (what’s his problem?!?), but somebody should, because it’s utterly amazing:

Yeah, with newsprint wrapper!

WoollyDuck Fish and Chips

Categories: Fun Tags: