What To Wear?

I’m much better at finding clothes that I love when I have an occasion in mind for an outfit. When I sew or shop just to sew or shop often the clothes never really work themselves into my wardrobe.  

My best scenario is to get something new and all of the accessories to go with it, down to the socks and jewelry. Then I have the perfect shoes, etc. for that one outfit and the pieces just seem to all mix and match with other items in my wardrobe.

What I’m getting at is this; I need something to wear to my daughter’s High School graduation. It’s in early June, so I had better start putting it together now. I guess here I need to fess up an tell you that I’m going to India in a month. I’ll be gone for 2 weeks. I know, not such great timing–to launch the blog of my dreams and then take off for 2 weeks. My plan is to sew extra fast over the next month and save some posts for my time away so you’ll hardly know I’m gone.

(Unfortunately, this is not a trip just for the pleasure of it, it’s medical tourism–you’ve heard of that, I’m sure. If anybody is interested, I’d be happy to share my experiences. One thing I’ll be sure to make time for while in India is fabric shopping. E and I will be in Chennai–formerly Madras–just about the fabric capital of India.)

Back to the graduation outfit. June in Chicago is usually beautiful, warm but not uncomfortably so and the ceremony will be outside if the weather permits. This is one of the “Disney World” suburbs of Chicago’s Northshore, the women can dress in whatever money can buy, although in general they’re quite conservative. Not that I really care about what other people are wearing, but I have good taste and I love to put my sewing skills to work. Sewing takes being a clothes horse from conspicuous consumption to creative expression!

As a result of my trip to India shortly before the graduation ceremony, I’ll be on crutches–a little fly in the ointment. So, I’ll have to wear flats 🙁  and something easy to get around in.

Here’s what I’ve found so far:

rl-at-nm.jpgA little Ralph Lauren number at Neiman Marcus. Classic, sophisticated, clean lined but new looking in a bright green.

diane-von-furstenberg-at-net-a-porter.jpgThis one is from Diane von Furstenberg, a similar look but a bit more figure conscious. Also at Neiman Marcus.

oscar-de-la-renta-at-net-a-porter.jpgOscar de la Renta at Net a Porter.com…I just purchased a black and white batik fabric that would be great for this. I’ll make it this season in any event.

michael-kors2-at-nm.jpgThis is a “Ladies who Lunch” look.  This one and the next are from Michael Kors and are available at Neiman Marcus.

michael-kors-at-nm.jpgI’m leaning toward this one, a sweater is always good for a little coverage. A little garden party dress.

So, what do you think?

Ta-ta for now!

Project MyWay #4–Garnet Silk Crepe de Chine Blouse

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I saw a blouse like this at Nordstrom, it was around $200-$250 and I didn’t like the colors it came in, royal blue or kelly green. I couldn’t find a pattern to use to copy it, so I made my own.

I started with Butterick 4658, I’ve used this pattern as the beginning of many blouses.

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First, on the front pattern piece, I drew on a v-neckline. I  measured how low I wanted the new neckline to be and drew a a straight line from the shoulder to the center front. Then I gave the v-neck a nice curve.

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I had to shorten the back shoulder seam to match the new front shoulder seam and scoop out the back neckline too.

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Then I cut 2″ front and back facings off of the front and back pattern pieces. I added seam allowances to the facings and the front and back neckline.

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I slashed the front and added about 4″ of ease (1″ between each cut). See photo above of front pattern piece. I drew 2 parallel lines 1″ apart and 1″ from center front and slashed and spread the pattern here. I wanted to keep the shirring close to the center front.

I folded out the dart because I had plenty of ease with the new width I was adding. Then I arranged the slashed front pattern piece, with the spacing between the slashes and placed a piece of pattern material over it and traced the new front.garnet-top-front-pattern-piece-2.jpg

I shortened the sleeve 5 1/2″ to just below the elbow. I added a 2″ wide cuff, measuring my arm for the finished length.

The construction went smoothly. As always (see my post on sewing with silks in “Tutorials”) I covered my cutting table with a sheet and pinned the pattern pieces to the fabric and the sheet. This keeps slippery fabric under control. I finished the seams with pinking shears. I have a serger, but the thread showed through to the right side when I pressed the seams. The best way to finish the seams would’ve been with french seams. I marvel at and appreciate all of you who finish you garments so beautifully on the inside. But I’d never get anything finished if I were that perfect. If I’m the only one who is going to see the inside, I finish in the fastest way possible. When I’m sewing for others I make it look good inside.

I constructed the facings, understitched the neck edge and top stitched it. Then I sewed the fully constructed facing unit to the front and back, sewing with all of the raw edges together then pressing toward the garment. Turned out pretty good, if I do say so myself. In this picture you can see my pinked seam allowance at the back neckline.

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I love this hem–I first saw it at Donna Karan and the Derek Lam skirt in my Spring ’08 Wardrobe Part 1 post (in Design Inspiration) uses it too. It’s basically a cuff added to the bottom of the blouse. It eliminated the problem of narrow hemming the slippery silk fabric and it adds a little weight to the blouse and makes it hang nicely.

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I cut 2 front and back band pieces,with a finished width of 4″. I sewed the side seams and sewed them together at the bottom edge. I underdstitched and pressed the band. I sewed the band on to the bottom of the garment, sewing all the raw edges together. Then I finished the seam and pressed it toward the top. (This time I finished the seam with a zig-zag stitch–don’t ask me why!)

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The blouse looks great over skinny jeans or black slacks. And it’s great for those “fat” days!

Ta-ta for now!

Spring Wardrobe ’08 Part 5

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I love menswear–tailored jackets, slouchy pants, crisp cotton shirts. The current styles are about as far away as you can get from menswear. I want to stay true to my look, but I hate feeling like I look dated. I have a fear of looking like I’m wearing my mother’s clothes (or that I have my mother’s haircut)! So I weave a few pieces of what looks new this season in with the tailored clothes I really love.

It seems like cropped, full jackets are everywhere! There are but a few long, fitted jackets to be found. If I tone down the fullness, this is a look I can live with. I found this jacket from Piazza Sempione (a line that I love) that combines the “new” elements of a short jacket and bright color. I think the bracelet length sleeves are attractive and current looking. I’m going to put it on my list of things to make, sooner rather than later because it will be a good topper before it gets really warm.

I just purchased a bright orange silk and cotton fabric that has good body–it will be just right for this design. I went to Saks to see the details of this jacket, it has wide elastic at the cuff and a small rather pointed collar. It should be fairly easy to find a pattern that I can adapt to this style. I think it would look better with longer (ankle) tapered pants. I always prefer long and slim under short and full.

I’d better get sewing!

Ta-ta for now.

Project MyWay #3–Black Cashmere Knit Coat

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I live in the Chicago area and E jokes and says that in June we turn our furnace off and airconditioning on. Unfortunately, most springs are quite chilly and wearing a coat, especially at night is not uncommon. But I’m so sick and tired of my winter coats–I want to have them cleaned and put them away until next winter!

We have 2 good fabric stores in Chicago and Vogue Fabrics has a cashmere knit I’ve been lusting over. It’s a substantial weight (2 ply?) fine gauge knit, like you see on better sweaters. At about $55/yard I let Vogue “keep it” until I came up with a design idea.

I love, love, love this coat! The pictures don’t do it justice. When I get my dressform, I’ll try to take a better picture.

I used Burda 8009 and gave it a asymmetrical front and a stand-up collar and eliminated the front darts by simply folding them together before cutting.  (You can purchase this pattern at The Sewing Place.com) 

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I unerlined the coat with  mid-weight silk twill to stabilize the knit and give it some warmth. I attached the lining to each pattern piece, right sides together and sewed a 1/4″ seam around all sides, leaving an opening to turn. I left the armseye, sleeve and neckline edges raw. When I sewed the seams, I used a scant 1/2″ seam. I was a little worried about how it would look at the hem–lined to the edge and finished before the seams were sewn. But it worked great and was a better hem finish than anything else I could have done. And, wouldn’t you know it, I saw a similar finish on a very expensive designer skirt the other day. It was light weight silk and the hem was narrow hemmed first, then the side seams were sewn. picture-051.jpg

I lined the sleeve in the traditional way,  hand stitching the sleeve cap of the lining to the armseye.

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I added 6″ to the front edge of the left front pattern piece to create the asymmetric style. I did not add to the right front, so it does not underlap, it ends at the center front.

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I found these great passementerie buttons at M.J. Trim.com . They have lots of unique buttons and trims. The internet has made it so much easier to design clothes exactly the way you envision them instead of having to settle for what can be found in the few good fabric stores.

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This coat was so much fun to sew beacuse I took some chances and everything worked out very well as I went along. I had to put it aside for a few days to wait for the buttons to arrive and I hung it where I could see it and marveled at it often. Then it came time to make the buttonholes and for some idiotic reason, I made the top bottonhole too close to the edge (about 1/2″ from the edge, should’ve been more like 3/4″ -1″) I literally almost cried, because it was such a stupid thing to do and the rest of the project turned out so perfectly. But I followed my own advice in the Tutorial, “How to fix all small and medium sewing mistakes” and I got over it. It’s not exactly perfect, but close enough.

I’ll try to get a better pictue soon!

 Ta-ta for now!