Posted in sewing

Grainline Cascade Duffle: The Reveal

Cascade Duffle (15 of 16).jpg My beautiful duffle coat is complete and I am happy about a lot of things and would change just a couple of things. I got to wear it today for our first true cold day it’s just about perfect!

I have to apologize for the quality of the photos. It was overcast today so the pictures aren’t as vibrant as I would like. But, I realized I didn’t really want to take additional photos tomorrow and I need to blog my coat to move on to my next project. Better to have A photo than no blog post at all.

Now, on to the coat!

Likes: It’s a duffle coat! I’ve always loved and wanted to own a duffle coat. If you know me you know I love a military influenced garment and am a casual Anglophile (I can claim it as my parents are from Commonwealth countries and my mom lived in England before moving to the States).  But, have never found a RTW version that fit me well because I’m busty with a big booty or that I can afford because I love me some Burberry. I’m thrilled I made this from plaid. I love plaid but rarely sew with it because matching stresses me out.

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The color is really great on me and will be cheerful this winter. The lining is from flannel back satin so the hood won’t destroy my curly hair and provides a lot of warmth 😀.

Dislikes:

Cascade Duffle (16 of 16).jpg I notice the back hem doesn’t lay as flat (rather flares out a bit) as I’d like and the front hem rises. Originally I thought this was the result of not making a long enough FBA at the front and too large a new-to-me swayback adjustment (I took the extra length at center back out at the shoulder/ neckline).

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But, when I now look at this plaid version from the designer above, I see that the back hem flares out / away the same way in the middle pic and the front hem also rises. I also see on the designer version that the black plaid between the bust and waist isn’t parallel, as mine isn’t despite a FBA.  I don’t notice this on all versions of this coat online though. I’ve pressed the hem over a ham to have it curve / lay a bit flatter but it’s not enough. Maybe I’ll send it out for a profesh press. I’m not sure what causes the flare. Could be a rounded vs straight hem. Maybe the lining should be a bit shorter to pull the hem in place more? Maybe the rounded hem biased a bit? Perhaps the back should all be interfaced. I’m not sure and I’m willing to live with it in this version. I also used wiggan in the hems which gave me a nice crisp finish (my wiggan came from Lichtensteins in Brooklyn, NY. No website.)

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If I were making this again, I would extend the length of the zipper band and use a 30″ vs 23″ zipper. I’ve noticed on a few versions that the lower front splays open a bit. I assumed that was fabric cut off grain. But, I now think a longer zipper would go a long way to keeping it closed. The zipper stops at the hip length shorter version length. Which does make it easier for zipping up. But, I’d just go longer in the future. The center front band is also too long. There is an updated pattern piece on the Grainline site. But, it’s about 1.5 inches or so too long in  my size.

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As for the zipper band, I did choose to interface mine. I’d also recommend reinforcing the bottom where the zipper stop is. I managed to pop mine loose while squatting to put put on my dog’s halter. It can take a lot of pressure there.

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I would also not have done it in a contrast color for the zipper band. It peeks open a bit at the top by my neck and it wouldn’t bother me as much if the colors were the same.

Cascade Duffle (4 of 16).jpg Thanks to a year of lifting weights my body has changed — a lot. I should have made a broad back adjustment and added another inch to the width of the sleeves at the bicep (for a total of 2″). I can wear this with slim to medium garments underneath – nothing thicker than a ponte or wool jersey knit. But, certainly not a heavy sweater. Thanks to the flannel back satin lining though this is warm enough for Baltimore on it’s own. It took wearing of all my other outerwear this fall to realize how much my body has changed. None of my coats fit particularly well through the bodice right now. That said, this is well suited for a big chunk of Maryland winters. My next coat will have boxy fit for oversized winter garments (I’m thinking navy cashmere swing coat with dropped shoulders).

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All of these issues could have been caught with a muslin which I chose not to do. I just couldn’t deal with all these pieces! That said, I hope most of what I see is just what I see. Overall I am happy but would be thrilled with a few tweaks. And, I would make another duffle. Just not in plaid 😀

I’ve been lamenting my lack of clothing labels this year. Especially larger / bold labels for garments with a substantial facing. I actually finished this coat on the fourth anniversary of my mom’s passing so she’d been on my mind all day.  Above, I used an old label from  one of my mom’s custom garments from when they were stationed in South Korea. It was from an outfit I’ll never fit in. I have one more similar label in my closet and will put it in my next nice wool coat.

The first time I made a tailored coat may have been the first time she bothered to figure out how to leave a comment instead of just emailing or calling me. Back in 2011 she wrote here:

Are you kidding me with that thought about maxi coats not being trendy right now? Hold fast! That coat will be around when maxi coats become fashionable again and will compete with the best of them. I particularly love the feel of that satin lining. The details on the coat are to die for. Much more stylish than that red coat you became s-o-o-o-o-o attached to. I get a very warm, comfortable feeling just looking at you in that coat. Wow! You ought to be very proud of your accomplishment. Congratulations on a job well done.

 

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I’m so happy to have a new everyday coat! I’ve been wearing my high school letterman’s jacket and a puffy jacket from college. If I needed something nicer I’d wear a vintage coat in my closet — but vintage isn’t great for everyday wear. I have SO MANY coats in mind and may come back for a discussion on what to sew next (camel wrap coat? navy cashmere swing coat? oversized menswear influenced coat? rain coat with zip out liner? travel jacket from stretch water proof fabric? red peacoat? dressy spring coat? SO MANY DECISIONS) Now, I need to start working on Jordan’s Hanukkah gift. I promised him a bomber jacket and have a week to get it done.

If you’ve stumbled on this final post, check out these other posts I wrote about alterations, cutting the plaid and tailoring the coat.

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Posted in sewing

Grainline Farrow Dress

My first Grainline Studio project was the Linden Sweatshirt (unblogged) back in the spring. I was generally underwhelmed by it on me and questioned if a Grainline pattern could even work on my figure. So, imagine my shock and awe that the Grainline Farrow Dress is my fall favorite. Why would I go back a pattern line that I doubted? Well, I picked the Farrow Dress to teach a sewing class at a new studio in town (Domesticity). It has set in sleeves, facings and an optional lining. There are some good techniques and skills to teach. But, of course I needed to make it first and I’m glad I did.

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I picked this turquoise and red wool from my stash. I love red, white and blue color combos. Especially this icy Scandinavian version. When I finished the dress though, I realized it was a little Supergirl and I am TOTALLY here for it.

Now, on to the garment!

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Reviews I initially read said the sleeves were very narrow. And, when compared to my arm measurement there was less than one inch of ease for me in the size 16. I added an additional inch and was ready to go.

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I also made a 3/4″ FBA to the size 16 pattern I measured into. I did not use the Grainline FBA alteration technique. Instead, I removed the skirt at the waistline, made my alterations, added a dart and took out the added width from the side seam. I never rotate my darts out btw. I have tatas and they need darts. I didn’t want anymore volume down the center front of the dress. But, I do think that modification would be great if you carried more weight in the middle. The dress does hang from my bust. But, I don’t have awkward drag lines. And, I don’t think it’s too tent-like from the front because it appears smooth without draglines. It is for sure not a formfitting dress.

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I decided to add a lining that is on the bodice only as per the Grainline suggested draft for a lining.

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I also lowered the neckline by around three inches because my neck is too short for a  jewel neckline which meant an small redraft of the facing.

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If I were to make this again I would go down do a 14. The 16 just had way more ease than I wanted for my figure. I took this in at the side seams about 1.5″ from the bust down and even more tapering from the hip to hem.

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I made no adjustments to length and made my hem with a blind hem stitch. I think the color blocking is great for showing off the interesting seam lines. And, it’s a great Thanksgiving and Christmas dress. It’s also nice to have something sleeved for work this winter.

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There are really nicely integrated pockets on the Farrow. But, those pockets are also a fabric hog. I stabilized both my pockets and all the diagonal (and bias) seams by alternating between silk organza and seam binding. I was experimenting a bit since this was a class garment.

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I’m going to be really blunt here. Originally, I was sure this dress wasn’t for me. Usually,  anything without a defined waist is gonna be a waste of my time. But, with my easy modifications for fit, it’s a really fun, interesting and comfortable work dress. I’m planning on making a short sleeve version in the summer from some yellow linen in my stash. And, I think I would really love a cream one too.

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That said, it works really well on some figures. One of my students has a really straight figure and out of the envelope it was BRILLIANT on her. I suspect this is the ideal body type for this style pattern.

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After teaching one class with this dress I actually nixed it from my lineup. It’s got such great details. But, the pockets alone take up a ton of table space and most of the first night of a two-night class. So, we’ll be making the Hadley Top from Grainline going forward. Review of that one coming soon.

Posted in sewing

Cashmerette Springfield Top

*ETA: Jenny of Cashmerette reached out to me about what I thought was a mismatched yoke in the pattern draft. Nope. The pattern is fine. The mistake was mine.  Despite having measured and traced the pattern several times in two different sizes, I managed to insert the center back upside down during five different versions of the pattern 😳 That made for the mismatched seam allowance that I noted in an earlier version of this post. I’m removing this post as it’s not an accurate review of the pattern or my alterations. The flipped pattern piece likely caused my fit problems in the back and this post should reflect sewn correctly garment.

My resulting top is the bomb diggity though, so I’m leaving a photo of it up until I get around to sewing this again.

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Posted in sewing

Jalie Jeans x Three: Jalie 2908

This post is really more of a brain dump so I can remember what I did when I make these again. My tee shirt is the Cashmerette Concord Tee Shirt.

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These creamscicle / seersucker denim photos were taken last weekend when we were in Kansas City for a wedding.

Back in September 2015 I promised you an update on my Jalie jeans. Well, I never wrote an update.

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I can tell you I wore three pairs of Jalie Jeans daily for the last 18 months and it was time to start replacing them. My jeans wear out at inner thigh regularly.

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I asked Jordan to take photos of my butt while we were walking around like tourists. A man in the store to the right was just staring at us totally befuddled.

So, I made three different pairs over the last few months to hopefully get me through the next two years: The above cropped creamscicicle denim pair, the below straight-ish, and the end flared pair.

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When I make jeans, I buy a ridiculous eight to ten yards of denim. I treat the first pair as a muslin and make the other two pairs up based on how the first pair fit after a few weeks of wear. I like my jeans to stay snug.

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Alterations:

Waistband: I used the waistband from the the Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans as a starting point. After several rounds, I’ve contoured the waistband specifically at center back and at the side seams. I use a firm woven interfacing in the waistband to help reduce the stretch AND I use narrow twill tape in the waist band seam. The Jalie waistband is garbage. It’s straight and cut on the bias and just doesn’t work for anyone I personally know.

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Yoke: I do the same contouring of the yoke to snug up the back seam closer to my swayback.

Crotch adjustments:

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  • I made a bit of a large inner thigh adjustment by widening the back crotch.
  • I shorted the front crotch by 1/2 inch or I get this above fold at the center front. Actually, this is AFTER a 1/2 inch adjustment. I need to take out maybe another 1/4 inch (as I’ve done for the orange pair).
  • I made a knock knee adjustment

Time to transfer my pattern to stock paper because it’s a keeper!

For the rest of the jeans I just played with leg width. Rule of thumb for flares: make them as wide as your shoes. I wear a 8.5W / 9M/ 40EU.

My topstitching thread is Tex 80 available locally for me but also from Wawak.

Below are my flared pair. These were the first pair I sewed of this set and the crotch was CRAZY long as drafted. I actually took them apart — removing 1/2 inch from the length and they are still too long in the crotch.

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This top belonged to my mom

I finally resolved the length by removing another 1/4 inch in the first pair shown at the top. But, here you can see the extra fabric the length gives.

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I sew jeans with two machines. My Singer Featherweight does main construction and my Bernina 830 Record does topstitching. I love love love the top stitching and 1/4 inch foot for my Bernina. It makes such nice precise lines. I may even set up a third machine one day if I do two tone topstitching.

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Whew. I planned on taking many photos of my construction process but had a series of camera issues. But, there are a million great resources online now for fitting jeans.

 

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I am totally comfortable with the jeans making process. I’d like to make a pair of Morgan jeans this fall. And, a few more of these Jalie for the rotation. But, I am seriously considering a pants making class this year. I miss wearing pants and haven’t been successful in making a good fitting pair in many years.

Posted in Machine Knitting

Ravello Sweater

My goal in 2017 is to knit all year round. I was a bit knitted out after all the pink hats for the Women’s March on Washington and Jordan’s letterman sweater. When I returned to my machine in March I found myself making a lot of rookie mistakes. The best way to avoid skill slide I suspect is to knit all year.

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Organic Cotton Plus reached out to me in January about possibly partnering on a blog post. The fact is I don’t partner on posts, test patterns or sew for other people because I don’t like deadlines. So, I immediately wrote back to say thank you for asking but I have enough fabric and I hate sewing under deadline. Except my email bounced back to me. So, I went on their website to get a correct email address. While poking around I saw they had yarn. And, I thought, “Oh! Do you now?”

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Needless to say, my new email to them said I’d be delighted to partner if I could use one of the naturally dyed wools from their website,  if it was possible to get enough for a sweater and if I could wait until March before posting anything  (I was in the middle of Jordan’s letterman sweater, I desperately needed to sew jeans, I promised to sew a prayer shawl for a bar mitzvah and I was wrapping up an on-site consulting gig so I knew I just didn’t have a bunch of extra time). This timeline and the yarn worked for them, so GAME ON.

I selected the worsted weight wool in Natural, Deep Black and Indigo to knit the Ravello Sweater from Isabelle Kramer.  The yarn comes in hanks with a “Sustainable Stitches” label.

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Organic Cotton Plus uses waste material from plants to dye their yarns. The leftover waste from the dyeing process is biodegradable. Compost and irrigation water is used to grow dye, medicinal plants and food crops for the Indian families in India involved in the dye group. Now, as an all-electric car driving, home composting, and soon to be urban gardener (#GrowFoodNotGrass) this warmed my liberal snowflake heart.

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I wash and wet block all the pieces of my garments before I seam them up. Sometimes it’s because the yarn comes oiled (glides through the machine easier). But, mostly I find a nice block makes seaming a million times easier as the yarn has relaxed and it’s in the right shape. The yarn has beautiful stitch definition. And, when made up on my Brother 270 (a bulky gauge machine) it really looks like a hand knit!  Also, the natural dye process is ever so slightly uneven in the way that hand-dyed yarns are. So, it didn’t look commercially made which I also really like.

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So, I was hopeful that when I did my first wet block I’d be able to get rid of some of the dye transfer I’d noticed in the garment. The Deep Black  in particular gives off a light dust when wound in to cakes and run through the machine. I also noticed there was color transfer to my hands from working with yarn. I reached out to Organic Cotton Plus about the amount of dust and dye transfer. They let me know that I received a first run of the product and have enacted better quality control to eliminate this problem.

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The second issue I had with the yarn were my blacks are two different dye lots. Now, I only noticed this after the first wash. Organic Cotton Plus does say that their vegetable dyed yarn may not be as colorfast as traditional chemical dyes and can fade ‘over time’. So, I think I have two dye batches vs the quality of the color.  But, like the dye transfer/ crocking  I see, no one else seems to notice.

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After washing, I could see that the smudgy coloring I’d noticed was still there. And, overall the natural cream was a bit dingier and I could see that the blue also bled a bit. Now, this could all be chalked up to using such extremely different colors in one garment, something I will probably be hesitant to try again. But, I would definitely NOT recommend it with a black or a non-chemical dye that has a higher chance of running.

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Would you like to talk about the elephant in the room otherwise known as my neckline? So, I wanted to try an i-cord trim for the neckline. I found two helpful videos from

Susan Guagliumi

and Diana Sullivan

and got to work. Unfortunately, the i-cord bindoff didn’t work perfectly for me. And, you know what? That’s ok. It’s my first time trying it. It’s not perfect. Heck, it’s not even acceptable. But, I did it. And, I’ll do it better next time. This is a casual sweater that I won’t be wearing to business meetings and I’m okay with how it looks.

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Now, the conclusion to this long tale. I attempted to use some dye color remover. The dinginess of the yarn really bothered me. And, as Jeanne pointed out it made it look like there were mistake where there weren’t. So, I used some dye remover, with hot water in the hand wash cycle of my machine and the entire sweater shrank to a size unwearable by me. While I’m a little sad to not have it in my wardrobe, I have a friend who I think will love it. And, the excess *did* come out. But, lesson learned. Even if the directions say start with hot water, maybe start with cold and wash it by hand. And, I did love this sweater on me so I’ll be reattempting it soon.