September 23, 2011

Who wants to draft along?

Hi everyone! Who wants to join me in drafting and making a dress?
I want this draft-along to be open to anyone with in interest in pattern making, so it's not going to be rocket science ;)
I plan on using the (free) JJ sloper from the Burdastyle website and (if necessary) I will draft and upload a matching sleeve for it. I will discuss fitting the sloper and of course, if you have your own sloper or want to draft your own using either Pattern Magic or Winifred Aldrich, I'd be happy to give any advice you may need.

Of course, we have to decide on what kind of dress to make. Making your own patterns opens up a world of possibilities, even if you've already decided to stick with a classic dress shape with a waist seam. So, if you want to draft along, please leave a comment and take the poll. Vote for as many or as few elements as you would like. Rest assured that this won't limit the draft-along to something you may not like. I intend to discuss several options within the same general design, and adding a different skirt is always easy.

Poll: Which design details do you want for the draft-along dress?


    Ook een poll maken? Klik hier

    It seems that the poll will only allow you to pick one thing. I'm sorry about that, it is my first time using one of these polling gizmos. Just use this one to pick your prefered skirt style and I'll put up seperate polls for the other elements this evening (because I don't have time to do it right now)

    September 21, 2011

    Still slow but steady

    It seems like there are so many things to get in the way of starting a new sewing project...
    I actually had the whole of last weekend off (I've been working every Saturday since March, excluding my vacation) and thought I could get a lot of drafting done. I had just managed to forget a little chore which was really getting in the way of me creating more patterns: My old patterns had taken over my sewing room.

    I'm usually hanging my patterns on coat hangers which I keep on a rail in my sewing room. However, the coat hangers are those cheap all plastic ones and I had the one carrying my dress patterns had bent out of shape and fallen down months ago. I had put it slightly out of harm's way on the floor and left it there for consideration at some other moment when I might be able to make time of that.
    Well, if a free weekend doesn't give me time to sort out the sewing room...

    So I did.

    And on Monday evening, I did make a tentative start on a new project. I want to make a raincoat in some plastic coated, aubergine coloured cotton which I bought on sale a few months ago. I've been thinking about it all through the rainy months of July and August.
    I have lowered the armscyes of a raglan base pattern which I made last year. I made a muslin, hindered by a terrible bout of stitch skipping from my beloved sewing machine (it might be because of a bad needle, since I already cleaned, oiled and checked for issues with the bobbin and with thread tension. O please let it be the needle...).
    It's sort of OK, but the angle of the sleeve should be changed to allow more freedom of movement and I think it's not quite as wide in the body as I would like. Being all wide and open, it won't be the most practical of rain coats, but eh... I'm fine with that.

    I'll be back soon with updates on the raincoat, and posts about the things I said I wanted to write about.

    September 19, 2011

    The man's jacket

    Here it is: E's finished jacket. He has been wearing it for a few days now and says he's happy with it (in case you are wondering about the trousers: he usually wears black jeans, but now, for the weekend, he was in the leaf-green bermudas I made him last year and it's already quite something to get him to pose in his new clothes). It is funny to see him struggle into it, though. Because this thing is shaped like a proper men's jacket, it has higher and narrower sleeve heads than he's used to (from shirts and casual jackets) and it's unlined so it doesn't slide easily over his shirt.

    I think I already told you the basic facts about this jacket: it's made from black cotton twill, in the shape of a traditional men's jacket. I used flat-felled seams where I could and bias binding everywhere else. It has patch pockets which have slanted openings to the side and at one side a hidden inside pocket.

    I drafted the pattern myself, with fairly extensive muslin fitting. From the back view here, you may think that there's too much room in the back but trust me, he really couldn't do without that space for movement...

    By now you've probably noticed the fitting issue which is still annoying me: there is a rather obvious line pulling from the neckline to the armpit. It wasn't like that in the muslin. And what's more: I think I know why. I didn't make a muslin with the fully constructed collar on. The back neckline of the muslin, with it's clipped seam allowances, must have stretched out making it wider than the finished neckline-with-collar... And E has an unusually thick neck (one of the reasons I started drafting patterns for him in the first place).
    I thought about tweaking the fit but that would mean deconstructing flat felled seams, the collar and maybe even taking the sleeves out. And even then, the real solution here would be adding extra width, which just isn't there. So, I guess I'll have to file this one under 'wearable muslin' or 'will do better next time', all the while telling myself that I would very likely have had the same issue if I had used a commercial pattern and that I would have been able to hide it a lot better in a formal lined, interlined and backed wool jacket...

    September 15, 2011

    Just a quick update

    Hi everyone! I really ment to do a proper post, but it's one of those weeks... So, I thought I would just let you know what's coming up.

    - E. jacket is finished since Monday. He says he'll definately wear it, but he hasn't yet. There is one issue about the fit which really annoys me, but it's too late to fix it now. Maybe I won't tell what it is and wait to see how many people spot it...
    I haven't been able to blog about the finished jacket yet because I obviously need to photograph it on E. himself. Which means he has to be home and not utterly exhausted and there should still be daylight. That combination hasn't been around this week.

    - I want to do a post about my autumn/winter sewing plans but because whatever I'll make will be self-drafted, that means I will have to make some half-way decent sketches first. I don't really need a lot of stuff, but there are many things I want to try. And I want more colour in my wardrobe.

    - You may have noticed that I've written a few 'discussion'-posts recently. I think I like them. I especially like the insightful comments, so there may be more of those in the future.
    By the way, several of you mentioned the impact on the environment of synthetic alternatives for fur. You are SO right. In fact, that's what I say to people who claim we shouldn't use real leather.
    And obviously, Carolyn, I agree that the fact that the animals are also bred for food is a major (moral) difference between leather (and sheepskin) and fur.
    And I don't think I'll buy a vintage fur myself. Not only can you get really nasty responses from total strangers, I don't think I'd feel comfortable wearing it and I can't stand the smell (judging from that, vintage furs need a LOT of chemical stuff to keep the bugs away. Way more that wool or silk).

    - I'm toying with the idea of having a sew-along which includes light pattern making, so basically, a draft-along. I'm thinking about using the JJ sloper on Burdastyle as a starting point (so anyone can join and there's no fussy sloper drafting needed for people who don't have a personal sloper. Of course I will adress fitting that sloper) and making a 50's or early 60's style dress. If several people are interested, I'll put up possible draft-along designs and try to get the ball rolling on the Burdastyle website.

    Well, that's it for now. I'll be back soon with pictures, I promise

    September 12, 2011

    A furry question

    Autumn is closing in. We've had weeks of rain, a warm weekend and every day the weather is surprise. So, typical Dutch weather but there's no denying the change of seasons anymore.

    This morning before work, I went to the market to pick up fruit and vegetables for this week. I was so early that some stalls were still busy unpacking. However, I did walk back to my bicycle the (slightly) long(er) way, past the second hand stalls.
    At The Hague's general market, there are three stalls specializing in second hand clothes, and a few general second hand stalls which sometimes have a rack or a pile of clothes (I tend to avoid those). One is the place where I buy my to-be-refashioned leather and silk clothes, another the place where my interesting vintage finds, both clothes and accesoiries, come from and the third is a big two-stall emporium of tacky old party-clothes, shoes, leather and above all, fur. I've never bought anything there. The place with the most interesting vintage stuff also sells some fur in winter. The first two pieces were on the racks now.

    picture from a 1930's Sears Catalog (from the book 'Everyday Fashions of the Thirties, as pictured in Sears Catalogs)

    Seeing this display of seasonal vintage fair begs the question: Is it OK to wear vintage fur? Obviously, there would be the intuitive 'Oh my, I'm wearing dead animals' issue (which seems to bother a lot of people, including myself, much more in the case of fur than in that of leather...). But honestly, that hardly constitutes a rational, moral point of view.

    About that, I'm still pretty much on the fence. I do not at all aprove of the modern fur trade as a luxury (meaning that, although I'm too far from such places to actually be able to have a well-founded opinion, I think it's OK if you live in places where it get extremely cold and need to wear fur just to stay warm). In fact, I was rather shocked to find out, two years ago, that not only is there still a fur industry in this country, it actually has an anual contest for designers, to promote its wares. And some fairly well-known Dutch designers actually participate in this...

    Vintage fur isn't quite the same though.
    Wearing fur lost a lot of its popularity since the 1980's. This means that most of the stock of those market stalls pre-dates me. Those animals suffered and were killed before I was even born. They were made into coats which were bought and worn for years, but are not worn out yet. If they are at the market now, this is their last stop. If no-one buys them, it will end with a one-way trip to the landfill. Which hardly seems a very sustainable course of action...

    Nothing at all wrong with that view, is there? Well, no. But, maybe...
    In a book I read (I thought the title was 'the importance of sunglasses' but Amazon doesn't recognise that title) there was quite a valid argument against wearing vintage fur. The book was a collection of articles by a prominent British fashion and style journalist. And she was opposed to the wearing of fur, period.
    First of all, she thought the 'the animals were not killed to dress me but someone years ago'-argument was a weak and in fact rather silly one. However, her main argument was less a matter of taste or way of reasoning: She stated that by wearing fur, even if it's vintage, you promote the look of it. So, even if you would never buy a coat for which animals were killed recently, you are in a way indirectly justifying the present-day fur trade.

    Seeing the fur on display this morning (I really should bring a camera to the market some day soon) made me wonder about this. What's your opinion on this sticky issue?

    September 8, 2011

    Getting there...

    This is a pretty bad picture, I know... I just wanted to show you I have actually been doing something.
    This is what E's jacket looks like now. It will be come a casual jacket, shaped like a classic blazer. It's made from black twill and will remain unlined. I used flat-felled seams where I could and applied bias binding the edges. The shape looks weird now because the coat hanger is too small for it. I'm also not entirely sure about the top lapels. Their points may be a bit too long. I could reverse-engineer the collar the make them shorter, but I don't think I should get ahead of myself here. Let the man try it on first...
    The jacket is now waiting for him anyway because we have yet to decide on a pocket style. Classic welt pockets are not an option because the jacket is unlined. I considered Carolyn's fancy double pockets but E. has something similar in an old store-bought coat and he doesn't those. And he has that typical men's habit of putting everything in his pockets so whatever kind of pockets he get, they'll have to be functional.
    The poor guy is having a madly busy week at work, so I'm not sure when I'll get a chance to let him try the jacket on and discuss pocket options. It's a good thing that better weather is predicted for this weekend, otherwise I'd be worried he wouldn't even get to wear this jacket anymore, this year.

    P.S. Thank you all for the great comments on my 'retro sewing' post. I've read a lot of very valid arguments. And I had no idea so many of you are drafting patterns as well. This is definately a subject I'll return to.

    September 5, 2011

    On retro sewing

    In my garment posts, I use the term 'vintage inspired' quite a lot. And looking at other blogs, I think it's fair to say I'm not the only one. Sewing vintage style clothes (most often dresses), either by using actual vintage patterns, reproductions, modern patterns inspired by vintage style or, like in my case, one's own vintage-inspired patterns, is a big thing in the sewing blogosphere.

    It's a trend I first encountered a few years ago. I had just started my pattern making lessons and through the beta version of Burdastyle, I first met the sewing community on the world wide web. It was through a link on Burdastyle that I came to a dress a day, and as a result, I became fascinated with 1950's dresses.
    In fact, I can honestly say I liked the retro look before I ever saw an episode of Mad Men...

    Despite my many creations 'inspired by' I have never sewn with vintage patterns. I haven't even touched the two reproduction patterns I own.
    Of course, this is partly due to my addiction to making my own patterns. Do that long enough and your mind adepts to it. To me, fitting a purchased pattern to my body now seems awfully labour intensive. I'm very aware it may not even be true, but it just seems more straight-forward to just incorporate the elements I like into a pattern of my own.

    I know I'm not in a lot of company in this particular habit, so I wonder what others do. Do you seek out vintage patterns for many reasons, and only sew from designs made before you were born, like the amazing Debi and Shelleyj? Do you enjoy vintage style but use patterns both vintage and modern (and sometimes start adding patterns of your own) like Gertie and Peter? Do you dabble in vintage style sewing occasionally, when the right pattern just happens to come your way? Do you love the look, but it's not for you? Or do you just think this entire vintage-thing is an overrated hype?

    All the images in this post come from other websites. I've pulled them off as inspiration months, sometimes years ago, so I don't remember where credit is due.

    September 4, 2011

    It runs in the family

    From time to time, people asked me how and when I started sewing. The answer is simple: my mother used to make clothes for us, so I started out by helping her and gradually 'evolved' to trying simple projects of my own. Then, I didn't sew for several years, bought a very cheap sewing machine of my own when I was in college and got addicted ;)

    Today, I will show you some very old pictures, of me as a little girl, wearing the clothes my mother made.

    She enjoyed making my sister and me matching outfits, like these cotton dresses.

    Sometimes, only the fabrics were matched, combined with patterns which suited our personal tastes and activity. My sister was more of a tomboy, so in this particular set, I got culottes, she got dungerees. My (then) baby brother had a matching outfit of a shirt and dungerees in pale yellow.

    And finally, this is my school portrait from 1987. I think it's great because 1. I'm actually smiling widely (I didn't like having my picture taken and usually looked less than cheerful in these school pictures) and 2. if you look closely, you can see the home-made quality of this blouse quite clearly. Lots of zigzag stitching is on show at the collar. Now I know what my mother means when she says that, being a mother of three and sewing for all of us, she didn't have time for fancy finishes...

    It may seem rather unkind of me to point out a flaw in my mother's sewing. However, I have always loved wearing the things she made for me and I wouldn't have started sewing as easily and naturally if it weren't for her. So, even if I'm not praising every detail of her work, I still love and admire her for it.