Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Fall Knitting Ideas

I got the new Knit'n'Style magazine yesterday, and have been slowly leafing through it. The Fall Trends report included a photo of this knitted dress by Iodice.

Photo from New York Cool.

It's cute, but certainly not for me, except I just love the horizontal braid at the hem. Wouldn't this be just great as the hem of a straight, knitted skirt? I've wanted to do a knitted skirt for some time, but never quite got to it. This braided hem is moving it up to the top of the list. I've sort of decided on the yarn. I think elann.com's cotton/elastic yarn, Esprit may be just what I want, and Berroco has a nice straight skirt pattern in their free patterns. I have made socks with this yarn, and it's nice to knit with and shows pattern stitches beautifully. I think the elastic content would take care of any skirt bagging as well. Now to figure out just how much I'd need, and what color. I'm thinking maybe Coffee Bean, which would go with a lot of things, and wouldn't be so very shocking as bright yellow. There's no really perfect green in this yarn, so that's out. Gray would be nice, but I think the braid might be lost, but perhaps not more than in dark brown. I'm not sure.

Actually, this could be cute in fabric as well, if you did some stuffed, yet flattish tubes, braided them and attached to the hem of a skirt or dress. It would certainly be a lot quicker!

I've been working on my hand-sewn, draped dress again. I began it this winter when I couldn't get to my machine, and this fabric turns out to be almost impossible to stitch successfully by machine anyway, so this is the perfect solution. I'm getting closer to done, and I tried it on yesterday to see how it's coming, and I just love it! I'm not sure just exactly why it's doing what it's doing, but it may be the magic of draping. I need to finish up the second sleeve and then do a lot of trimming, and see where I stand.

BeeBee was asking, and I did find a way to sew this knit fabric successfully with the machine. It's a 2-layer knit, and maybe that's why it wants to cause more skipped than completed stitches. I got out an old, carefully saved Q Needle. I think it's from the days of Qiana knits, which were notoriously difficult to sew without skipped stitches, many tears, and possibly a whole new vocabulary by the time you were done. It seems to work on this fabric too. Along with the Q needle, I slowed the machine down, and loosened the upper tension to the buttonhole setting. It sounds awful when it pierces the fabric, like huge holes are being punctured into it, but it doesn't seem to have any ill effects. I don't know if you can even get Q Needles anymore. This was in a pack of Sears needles that came with my Kenmore machine over 20 years ago, and which I'd never used before. It has a blue shaft where it goes into the needle holder.

I will try to get photos of the dress as soon as it's ready for its close up.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Wild Stripes

Photo Link

Here's another version of Vogue 2719. The fabric is a cotton stripe, meant for quilting. I fell in love with the colors and the unusual striping. It looks a little like the rainbow of colors you get off a grease puddle. One interesting thing was that no matter how hard I tried, I could not distinguish a right and wrong side. They aren't exactly alike, but one is not paler than the other, and I like both, and honestly, I couldn't really tell the difference, so I was just careful to make sure I ended up with a right and left sleeve and front, etc. While I managed that alright, I made a crazy mistake I've never made before. I laid out the fabric and the pattern and cut it out as if the selvedge were the fold. So, I have a tiny seam at CB. No problem, and this has tiny, tiny selvedges, so I didn't lose much width. I honestly didn't notice until I was ready to mark the darts on the back, and wondered why I had 2 pieces instead of 1. Ah well, I shouldn't cut at night.

This is basically the same as the Wisteria Blouse, except I cut the pattern on the princess lines, and so this is an actual princess seam pattern.

I've been thinking about it all day as I wore this, and I think the reason I'm somewhat uncomfortable with princess lines on myself is that I have kind of a hollow chest above the bust, and so there seems to be sort of a swooping effect to get from one contour to the other, and it's more obvious with a princess line. Also, I think it emphasizes the fact that I'm very short-waisted. So, it's okay, but I still don't think it's my favorite. My actual favorite dart position is a vertical dart with a horizontal dart. You would think that would be close enough to work out the same, but it seems to be easier to get the body-skimming fit I like than the princess line is.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Wisteria Blouse

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This is the blended pattern I ended up with from Burda WOF #105 5/2008 and Vogue 2719
Photo Link

I first did a muslin of the basic blend, and it looked pretty good, but needed more room in the bust. Some of the bust ease in the Vogue was in the kimono sleeve, and with a fitted raglan, I lost all of that, and it was enough to make it pretty snug. So, I did an FBA and tried again. This time the tucks at the neck stood out in an extremely weird way, so I ditched them and turned them into a dart instead. This worked pretty well, but I thought as long as I was doing 2 vertical darts, I might as well let them meet, and so it has the effect of a princess seam, although the front was cut as one piece. I also ended up doing the part of the vertical dart below the waist as a straight tuck since after the FBA it was way too flared. I also ended up with a wider placket than I really needed, and I decided to just leave the closure slightly off-center. It's just a casual blouse, and I like the way the 'lapels' turn back. I used a ribbon instead of a facing to cover the collar seam, and I think it's kind of cute.

I bought this fabric at least last summer if not the summer before, and I just love the wisteria print. I got it at a local quilt shop called The Cosmic Cow. Here's a side view of the blouse.

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I'm nervously awaiting the return of my gorgeous cashmere from the cleaners where it's being steam pressed and shrunk. Tuesday after noon is my mantra.

I want to thank everyone who commented on my last post, Perfect Isn't Perfect Anymore. I'm so glad to know that I'm not just a cranky whiner. I knew most of you might agree with me but may not have seen the photos already, and so I'm really glad I posted. It was especially gratifying to find that several of you had come to the same conclusion I did independently. I agree that it might be a disconnect between the designer and the workroom, but it seems like a really big problem they're going to have to solve before the next show. I guess we'll all be watching, won't we?

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Perfect Isn't Perfect Anymore?

I really hesitate to write this, but I'm just so intrigued by the whole thing, and the more I think about it, the more I want to discuss it. Most of you probably know that I have another blog I do called Fashioned. It started as a way to discuss the runway looks I like with some friends, and although I don't keep it up as well as I could, I do try, especially with the Couture collections, which are my favorites. I have only one rule there, which I stick to pretty closely, and that is: If I don't like something, I don't put it up and ridicule it. I generally just ignore it and move on to something I do like. I look for not only entire looks I like, but also sometimes just one small part of a look appeals to me, and I mention it and ignore the rest. Not surprisingly, I tend to look at things from a sewing point of view, and I'll discuss an interesting sleeve or hem or whatever.

So, I was working my way through the Fall 2008 shows last week, and one of my favorites each season is Valentino. Of course Valentino himself retired after the Spring 2008 show, so this was the first show completely designed and overseen by Alessandra Facchinetti. She did a lot of beautiful things, and I've read several serious reviews of the show, and no one has mentioned what caught my attention. When looking at the close-up photos of various ensembles, I noted details that were not perfect.

Even now I read that and think, how petty. But really, what is the couture if not an exercise in dreams and perfection? Of course I'm sure there are many less-than-perfect garments in the various couture collections, but we don't see them as a rule. What 'mistakes' there are, are not visible to the naked eye, or at least not in photographs. They just do not send less-than-perfect items down that runway, and honestly, they shouldn't, if only because their price-point depends on the maintenance of the couture mystique, which demands perfection, or at least so close to perfection that imperfections become unnoticeable. So how did these things escape the quality control that I know they have in the Valentino workroom? Who decided they were "good enough"? Is anyone else disappointed, or am I being silly? I know that things that I make will probably always have one or more things that are not quite right. One strives for perfection of course, but usually one settles for a pleasing overall impression, with no glaringly obvious faults. This is often achievement enough, but with a complete workroom full of highly skilled experts who have been turning out apparent perfection collection after collection for Valentino himself, right up to a few months ago, how did this happen? That's what has me baffled.

I'll go ahead and post some of the things that caught my eye. Let me know what you all think.

All photos in this post are courtesy of Style.com, and you can find the complete Valentino show referenced here.

This jacket is lovely, but look at the collar point on the left side of the photo. You can see more in the close-up below, but it looks to me like it doesn't match the right side in the way it stands.

This suit has lots of detail front and center, and you can see in the photo below that things just aren't quite as straight and even as they should be, from the center angled piece to the welt pocket that's a little wavy.

This is a portion of an embellished satin evening coat. Beautiful, and a very difficult fabric, but isn't that a pretty big pucker at the bottom of the zipper?

There are so many beautiful and seemingly perfect things in this collection, and I don't want you to think this isn't the case, but I've just been almost worried by the problems I've pointed out. So, am I silly or too picky or what?

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Quick Burda WOF Top

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I wanted a quick project, and decided that the popular #105 from the May, 2008 Burda World-of-Fashion magazine would be it. I traced it, altered and cut it out Sunday evening, then made it up yesterday. It turned out pretty well, although I don't think it's exactly my best style. I used a printed cotton, and it was very easy to make up. I like the sleeves and the way the shoulders and sleeves fit. I think it's the elastic waist I'm not crazy about. It's okay, but I don't think the poufiness of the peplum is doing anything for me. It calls for 3 large buttons and the 5 snaps underneath are the actual closure. I did as instructed, and then added a few more snaps to make things stay just right.

If I make this again, I would change the elastic to darts or tucks or something. I may just use the sleeves with my favorite saran block blouse, which has kimono sleeves. This would be a nice change, and I love the way the body of that blouse fits. It has fisheye darts in front and back, and lots of shaping in the side seams. It would be interesting to see just how much of the dart shaping of that blouse is in the kimono sleeves, and how much I'd lose if I changed to raglan.

I'm ready to topstitch the collar and lapels on the Marfy #1234 jacket, but I thought I wanted some Tiger Tape to help me make perfectly even stitches. I was amazed to find that none was available in town, even with all the quilt shops here. I have read some more since, and decided that I can probably do just fine without it. I hope so anyway. I think I'm going to just go for it, as usual. I've been doing samples, and I like a thicker cotton thread the best.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Hollyhock Ladies (Now with Instructions)

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I don't know how many of you grew up making Hollyhock Ladies, but we certainly did. My sister and my cousins and I used to plunder my grandmother's hollyhocks to make hollyhock ladies. We'd play with them like dolls, and have Hollyhock Weddings with various bridal color schemes. My grandmother was pretty calm about the whole thing, although she thought one day of this was enough each year, and it probably was.

I've been thinking that I should make a couple and post them just for fun, and I mentioned it to a friend yesterday morning, and she was all excited about them too. So Judy, this is for you!

I still think they're quite charming. I put them on a bird table to take the photos, and below you can see them moving along in serene elegance to the Hollyhock Ball.

Amy made me realize that I didn't give instructions for making these. It's very simple, you just take a toothpick and put it through the center (or near it) of an open flower. Push it through far enough that you can attach the "head", a bud showing some color. How much color it's showing affects the look of your lady. Generally, matching flower and bud colors seem to look best. The angle of the bud gives your lady her personality. You may have to break off some of the toothpick at the bottom to make her stand up straight. That's it. Simple enough for a child to do.

After I took the pictures, I gave them to my little neighbor Harley. She's just the age for them, and I was a little sad to hear that neither she nor her mother had ever heard of hollyhock ladies. Well, now they know.

Here's the main hollyhock bed. The colors are just great this year, and they self-sow all over. I generally let them grow where they come up because they're just so beautiful. In another spot, I have a few that are deeper purple to almost black-purple. Obviously they would make more sophisticated ladies.

The color combinations just make me happy to look at them. The photo link under the first picture will take you to all of these.

On a sewing note, my cashmere fabric came today! I am excited, and somewhat intimidated, but it's absolutely as gorgeous as I'd hoped, and maybe even better. A beautiful, subtle color combination and a wonderful feel.

I've been working on the Marfy 1234 jacket and am ready to go on a button hunt. I need fairly large buttons, as they are the focal point of the jacket and without them, it looks rather sad. I have some lovely vintage green-aqua buttons that would be great, but I need 2 sizes and I only have one. They give me a real idea of what to look for though.