linen and lace

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This pattern was so hard to sew. Who drafted this pattern anyway? Oh, wait, it was me. And, in case you were wondering, shoulder seams are really useful and not at all extraneous. No, you weren’t wondering? It was just me, then. And now I know.

It looks kind of nice though. After a hanger fix, I may be able to wear it.

Umm, linen base fabric. Rayon (?) lace. Cotton tulle. Metal buttons.

I thought it would be interesting to sew a round yoke with no shoulder seams.  And I guess it was interesting.  I would not recommend it, though.

I thought it would be interesting to sew a round yoke with no shoulder seams. And I guess it was interesting. I would not recommend it, though.

front

front

back

back

sleeves are hemmed, folded over, and buttoned.  No cuff.

sleeves are hemmed, folded over, and buttoned. No cuff.

side

side

All About That Weave

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My husband and I have been amusing ourselves on weekends going to estate sales. I especially like the ones where the owners were older and had quirky collections of stuff. One house where we went to a sale had at least 1,000 elephant-shaped items. Cufflinks, tea pots, stuffed animals, a 7-foot stone statue in the yard, etc. Those people were so extreme.

We went to one a couple of weeks ago where the person was into textiles! I bought a loom, and several spools of weaving thread. I have learned that, when I’m buying a relatively expensive item, it’s always a good idea to grab some smaller things. The person doing the pricing will generally look at a pile of smaller items and charge $5 for the lot. I grabbed this textile, which I assumed without looking closely was a linen tablecloth, because I loved the weave. I thought I could cut it up into dishcloths, and have something nice hanging in my kitchen to wipe things with.

When I brought it home, it went straight into the washer and dryer. The dryer part is crucial to kill any bedbugs that might be lurking. When I pulled it out, it was clear to me that it’s not linen at all, but wool. I’m pretty sure wool dishtowels would be frustrating to wipe things with, so I set it aside and petted it occasionally while thinking on what to make with it. The washer and dryer did not have any negative effects, which was a little surprising. It had obviously been through the wringer before. It was mended in places using brown thread, but I could easily cut around that. There were many signs of wear, but no holes. It was originally 24″ wide, and 2 lengths were stitched together by hand. The blue threads were almost certainly indigo dyed, and the white were naturally colored. I’m thinking it was some kind of blanket.

EDIT — It is an overshot coverlet. Thank you for you comment, Judith Noble! You can find one on ebay if you are interested. Currently, they appear to be going for $100 – $200 for one that is in better shape than the one I used.

I thought for a while about making a collared shirt, but the fabric is really thick, and it might be too bulky to gracefully accommodate a collar and collar stand. I decided that a quilted cardigan jacket would be a good choice.

The body lining, trim, and seam finish is a dark blue necktie silk. The sleeve lining is silk charmeuse. I used a TNT pattern that I also used here.

back view

back view

I agonized over the buttons, and ended up choosing some rather small ones.

I agonized over the buttons, and ended up choosing some rather small ones.

I like the way the buttonholes turned out.  I stiffened them with gimp.

I like the way the buttonholes turned out. I stiffened them with gimp.

cuff vent detail.  The sleeve is a one-piece, darted sleeve.  I like to use a one-piece sleeve to minimize the need for pattern matching.

cuff vent detail. The sleeve is a one-piece, darted sleeve. I like to use a one-piece sleeve to minimize the need for pattern matching.

pocket

pocket

the body of the jacket is lined with necktie silk.  The sleeves are lined with silk charmeuse to make it easier to slide my arms in and out.

the body of the jacket is lined with necktie silk. The sleeves are lined with silk charmeuse to make it easier to slide my arms in and out.

hong kong finish

hong kong finish

inside of edge trim.  I left the edge raw, which should be OK since the edging strip is cut on the bias.

inside of edge trim. I left the edge raw, which should be OK since the edging strip is cut on the bias.

This is one of the spots where the fabric was darned.  It looks kind of cool, but I did not include the darned parts in the jacket.

This is one of the spots where the fabric was darned. It looks kind of cool, but I did not include the darned parts in the jacket.

Summer Dress, in the Dead of Winter

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What I really want to do is hibernate until the days get warmer and longer, but that would set a poor example for my kids. So, I’m dreaming up my summer wardrobe. I’ve been seeing a few dresses like this one around, with a gathered skirt, high front neckline, midi length, and thick straps. It seems like a great summer silhouette for a midweight fabric.
Originally, I was thinking of ordering or otherwise procuring some Dutch wax prints for this dress, and I may still do that to make a few more. Since I’m too lazy at the moment to make any purchasing decisions, and I had this textured fabric in my stash, and it seemed perfect for the style. I drafted the pattern myself. It’s almost exactly what I originally envisioned.

I may even be able to wear it in spring with a cardigan over it.

back view

back view

side zipper

side zipper

pockets

pockets

black silk lining on the bodice.  The skirt is unlined.

black silk lining on the bodice. The skirt is unlined.

textured fabric.

textured fabric.

grosgrain straps

grosgrain straps

Spats!

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Here I am, off on a fashion tangent again. This time, it’s spats. I really thought, when I was making these, that I would never even wear them outside the house. I thought they would be too costumey. But now that they’re done, they seem to fit in really well with my wardrobe. This probably says more about my wardrobe than about the spats.

The original idea came from the Chanel Metiers d’Arts presentation for Fall 2015. This show is consistently my favorite fashion show every year. They always stage it in a different city, and incorporate local dress into the collection. This year, it was in Salzburg.

I made the pattern by draping fabric over my calves. There are 2 main pattern pieces, elastic loops, buttons, and a leather strip up the back that helps keep them upright. The main fabric is a good-quality wool suiting, they are lined in black linen, and the front gusset is white lace. The topstitching is bobbinwork embroidery using some strange silk cord that I’ve had for a while.

I’ve been wearing the spats all morning. They’re super comfortable, and keep my legs really warm.

I made the button loops out of elastic cord.  You can also see the elastic that goes around my shoe to keep the spat on.

I made the button loops out of elastic cord. You can also see the elastic that goes around my shoe to keep the spat on.

The leather strip up the back helps keep slouching to a minimum.

The leather strip up the back helps keep slouching to a minimum.

buttons

buttons

lace gusset.  This bit is probably strictly unnecessary, but I thought the white stripe up the back needed to be balanced with some white elsewhere.

lace gusset. This bit is probably strictly unnecessary, but I thought the white stripe up the back needed to be balanced with some white elsewhere.

black linen lining

black linen lining

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Guest Blogging Chez Bunny

Hey, everyone! I did a guest post for the Next Level Sewing Series on Bunny’s blog, La Sewista.

I keep thinking that I should do the occasional tutorial on my blog, but tutorials are so much work to put together, then when I post them to my blog, they just get buried and no one ever looks at them after the first week. There’s not much motivation to put the work in.

Then, a couple of months ago, Bunny started doing a tutorial series on Next Level Sewing. I contacted her right away asking her if she might need a guest blogger. I’m thinking that, since she’s got a bunch of tutorials in one place, a post on her blogh will be less ephemeral than a post on my blog.

I chose the topic, which is, “How to Sew On a Button.” I know, it sounds earth shattering, but I am routinely horrified about how a lot of even pretty experienced sewists sew on their buttons. Clearly, this does not bother anyone else since no one else ever brings it up, but I think maybe people will be interested to know that there is a right way. Maybe.

So anyway, head over to Bunny’s blog and check out my post!

Vintage-Y Jacket

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Sometimes it’s fun to do a nice tailoring project. I’ve been fairly busy for the past few weeks with Thanksgiving, but this week I got to work on some sewing! I love this fabric. I bought it at Elliott Berman Textiles in NYC during the Patternreview party a month or so ago.

The pattern is from the new Burdastyle Vintage magazine. I really like this magazine and I’m glad I ordered it. If you think you would like this magazine, you definitely would. There are a lot of really interesting patterns, and, if this jacket pattern is any indication, they are very well-drafted. Also, the pattern sheet is easier to trace than a typical Burdastyle magazine.

the pattern calls for a facing, but since the fabric is very bulky, I thought it would be better to line to the edge.

the pattern calls for a facing, but since the fabric is very bulky, I thought it would be better to line to the edge.

button detail

button detail

I added pockets.  They're sort of welt pockets, but more minimal.

I added pockets. They’re sort of welt pockets, but more minimal.

back view

back view

back view.  You can see the pleat at the shoulder that gives the jacket an interesting shape.

back view. You can see the pleat at the shoulder that gives the jacket an interesting shape.

side view

side view

burdastyle vintage magazine

burdastyle vintage magazine

And the Winner Is….

random number selector

Comment #31, Candy! I’ve sent an email to the address attached to the comment, so please, if it’s you, check your email and your spam folder and reply to verify the email address.

Thanks everyone!

Selvedge Magazine

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Please allow me to introduce you to my very favorite magazine of all time. First, let me tell you how we met.

When I first moved to London in 2007, and, you know, took care of some of those pesky details like where to send the kids to school, I made sure to check out the newsstands. Being a magazine junkie and all, how could I not? They’re kind of like the internet, except the content stays where you remember it being. And what did I find there, you ask? In addition to British Vogue, in addition to Burdastyle, well, I found Selvedge. Which I had never heard of. Which was made, quite improbably, by people who are into exactly the same things I am into. Travel. Exoticism. And textiles. Maybe these are the same things you’re into? I proceeded to acquire every issue published during my stay there.

I keep all of my back issues

I keep all of my back issues

When I moved back to the US in 2009 (I am American, don’cha know), I was a little disappointed to find that Selvedge is a bit expensive in the US. I still always get the Christmas issue. My heart races just thinking about the Selvedge Christmas issue. And a couple of other issues throughout the year. I even did at least one project, or three based directly on a photo in Selvedge. I’m sure I’ve done many more projects based not-so-directly on what I’ve seen there.

sheep!

sheep!

And to reveal just how much of a textile geek I actually am, I will share with you my favorite feature in any magazine ever. It is from, you guessed it, Selvedge (issue 25). It is a pictorial featuring different photos of sheep (no, stay with me), with a brief description of the quality of wool that each sheep produces. It’s like they looked into my brain and saw my deepest fantasy that I may one day own and operate a fiber-based farm, and they thought they would give me a little encouragement.

rainwear

rainwear

For me, Selvedge fills a niche that no other publication does. It’s so easy to get caught up in Western ideas of fashion and textiles, and forget that there’s a whole world of dress out there that’s not dependent on cookie cutter factory-produced goods for the western market. Perhaps I will never make a waterproof parka out of seal intestine (like the one pictured on page 59 of issue 61), but I am happy to know that such a useful garment exists.

a stunning take on the round-yoke Nordic sweater

a stunning take on the round-yoke Nordic sweater

One of the editors of Selvedge contacted me a couple of weeks ago, asking if I would like a copy to review. I jumped at the chance. For me, the item is something that I might well have bought anyway, and the product is so amazing that I am happy to try to boost their sales if I can. They sent me Issue 61, themed North. It outlines textile traditions in various northern locales, like Iceland, Scandinavia, and Alaska. The front cover features the world’s most luxurious dogsled. At least one of the features reminds me quite a bit of one of my favorite fashion spreads of all time, a 1966 photo spread in Vogue featuring Veruschka in furs in the snow.

If you find yourself wanting a treat, pick up a copy. If you’re in the US it may be a little pricey for it to be a regular thing. Then again, it’s not much more expensive than a lot of indie patterns out there, which lots of people buy and never use. So if it’s in your budget, go for it! In New Jersey, where I live (don’t laugh at me! It’s nice here!) they sell it at Barnes and Noble. You can also order it from selvedge.org. Seriously. Check it out.

And I have a digital subscription to give away! If you would like to be in the drawing for it, please leave a comment. I’ll close comments on Sunday, and do the drawing on Monday, December 1.

I Knit A Sweater!

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Hey, look at me! I knit a sweater! I think I’m starting to get the hang of the whole knitting thing. I started with some lovely variegated wool yarn. I knit the whole thing in the round without a pattern. It was a little nerve-wracking, especially toward the end when it looked like the neckline / shoulder area would not wind up shaped like a human at all, but then it all worked out! It was almost unbelievable.

back

back

neckline detail

neckline detail

back neckline

back neckline

increases in the front.  They turned out mostly symmetrical!

increases in the front. They turned out mostly symmetrical!

I love a curved sleeve, so I shaped the elbows slightly.

I love a curved sleeve, so I shaped the elbows slightly.

Now, the real reason that I wanted to learn to knit is that I want a dress like the one below on Michelle Obama. I actually saw this dress in a store and IT HAS NO SEAMS! I think that, after one or 2 more projects, I will be able to tackle trying to make a dress like this for myself.

Melton fun

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This is a project that I have been planning for a while. It all started during a shopping trip to the Dover Street Market in NYC in the summertime. I had been to the DSM in London, but the New York outpost was new to me, and it has some covetable merchandise. And the staff is lovely. Really, just a great place to spend an hour. Anyway, they had a display of pea coat-style coats with flared skirts that just looked so cool that I felt I had to have one. If I recall correctly, one was in wool melton and the other was in shearling. I decided to go with melton.

Then, just as I was starting this project, the Milan Fashion shows were going on, and I saw that Prada was showing black with bright white topstitching for Spring 15. It seemed like just what my new coat needs, so I figured, “why not?”

Probably not coincidentally considering my new obsession with Instagram, this project lends itself well to quick snaps of my progress. See some photos of my process at Rollingincloth, or look under #woolmeltoncoat. So far, I am the only one using that hashtag.

I constructed the entire coat with lapped seams. I did not want to deal with the bulk of turn-of-cloth with such a bulky fabric. I can get away with this partly because this melton frays very little, so it should be fairly stable. The only problem with this construction method is that it was very, very difficult to set in the sleeves. If I do this again, I think I will use normal seams for the armscye.

I sewed each seam twice. First, I sewed from the right side using black thread. Then, I sewed from the wrong side using 4 strands of silk embroidery floss in the bobbin and white thread at the top. This method allowed me to achieve the look of very heavy topstitching using a regular home machine.

The project is based on a commercial pattern, Marfy 2572. Initially, I was not happy about paying $27 with shipping for a pattern, but I looked everywhere and this was the only pattern that was close enough to what I wanted. In retrospect, it was totally worth the money. It fits just the way I want it to. I followed the pattern from the waist up, and made some changes to the skirt part.

back view

back view

side view

side view

bound buttonholes, buttoned, unbuttoned, and wrong side.  I used silk satin for the buttonhole lips to reduce bulk.

bound buttonholes, buttoned, unbuttoned, and wrong side. I used silk satin for the buttonhole lips to reduce bulk.

welt pocket.  The welt itself in silk satin

welt pocket. The welt itself in silk satin

embroidered silk duchesse satin lining.

embroidered silk duchesse satin lining.

embroidery motif on the lining

embroidery motif on the lining

collar

collar

undercollar

undercollar

cuff button

cuff button

cuff buttonhole

cuff buttonhole

Prada coat from Spring 2015 collection.  I liked the topstitching, and wanted to do something similar.  Photo from style.com

Prada coat from Spring 2015 collection. I liked the topstitching, and wanted to do something similar. Photo from style.com

This is the embroidery floss I used for the light-colored stitching.  It is a variegated 12-strand silk embroidery floss in pale colors.  I used 4 strands in the bobbin.

This is the embroidery floss I used for the light-colored stitching. It is a variegated 12-strand silk embroidery floss in pale colors. I used 4 strands in the bobbin.

Marfy 2572

Marfy 2572

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