Saturday, May 18, 2013

Apparently, That Coat Isn't Going to Sew Itself

So I cut out my garment fabric for my personal Butterick 5824 coat-so-along, like three or four weeks ago, and I guess my unconscious plan was that if left alone long enough, the coat would just rise up and sew itself.  Unfortunately that hasn't happened, so I decided this morning was The Day To Start.  I began as I usually do:  with the skirt.  I know this is unorthodox.  One usually begins with the bodice of any dress or coat, not the skirt; the thinking being that the bodice is more complicated to fit and you can easily incorporate any changes in your side seams to your skirt after you have sewn your bodice and figured them out.  But since I don't bother with such things as muslins and fitting (!), I like to start with the skirt.

For several reasons.  First, after I have spent so much time cutting out a project, I just want to jump into it and start to sew.  The bodice of a garment is usually more complicated, and the skirt portion is usually just straight sewing.  By beginning with the skirt, I feel like I am starting off with a bang!  Second, by beginning with the easier skirt portion of the garment, I can get used to the drape and feel of the fabric, how it behaves while pressing, and any other weird characteristics.  I can also check out how my marking tools are working on the fabric.  Third, when I am in the middle of a project, and I have finished the (what seems like a really complicated) bodice, I get frustrated when I have to stop and make the skirt portion.  I prefer to have the skirt done already, so when I get my bodice done (finally), I can just sew the two together, and voila! have a reasonable facsimile of a dress or coat.  Again, it fools me into believing that I am making great progress, dear readers.

And I had added incentive to begin with the skirt on this project because of the dreaded bound buttonholes.  Beginning with the bodice meant that the bound buttonholes would come a little too quickly for my liking.  : )  Never underestimate the sin of sloth, y'all.  I am lazy as hell.

The skirt went together with no problems.  Wool is usually a pleasure to work with, and this camelhair wool is particularly so.  It presses beautifully.  I did discover that my white marking pen doesn't work well with this fabric because the marks just disappear under the steam of the iron, so I am going to have to figure out some other system when it comes time to make the bodice.  Having my marks disappear on me with the skirt was no big deal because it was easy to remark them, but the bodice will have way more marks and complicated indicators.  I'm not certain what I am going to do, but I may be forced to use the method I have avoided for eleven years:  tailor's tacks.  Let's just hope it doesn't come to that.

I went ahead and finished the seam allowances since the lining is a free hanging lining.  I used my sewing machine's overlock stitch since my serger is on the fritz and it needs servicing.  I've never really bonded with it anyway, so I usually rely on my Bernina overlock stitch.  My method was to sew the seam, then finish the seam allowances for that seam, then press.  Then I moved onto the next seam.  Which is different than normal - I usually sew all the seams and then finish all the seam allowances.  But with the sheer number of seams involved here, I decided I would rather finish them as I go than to finish them all at once because I would find that incredibly boring.  It took me about three hours to make the skirt.

There's a whole lotta skirt to this coat as it is a full circle skirt.  I tried to get a nice photo so you could see the color of the fabric, but today is a dreary sunless day.  Here it is:

(Someone showed up for her close up.)  I had to use my wide angle lens to get this whole skirt in the photo.  You can't see the fabric very well, but you can see the color - this is pretty true to life.  It is a dark, dark green - nearly black, but not really.  I'll try to get a close up of the fabric when there is more natural light.

Most of this coat is skirt.  By putting together the skirt pieces, I was able to free up lots of cut out table space:

Since I often sew things out of order, I check off the steps I have completed on the directions:

So I have completed steps 1, and steps 10 through 15 of this project.  Yay!  By completing the skirt and freeing up my cut out tables, I was able to then cut out another shirtdress, the New Look pattern 6180:

I'm making view "B" the blue on the far right lower corner.  This may be the summer of shirtdresses.  I may have to make every shirtdress pattern currently in print.  : )

Thursday, May 9, 2013

McCalls 6696 - Another Shirtdress!

After cutting out my new Butterick coat, and working with the silk/wool blend Vogue dress largely on the bias, cutting out this shirtdress from quilting cotton seemed so easy and enjoyable!  I saw McCalls 6696, and was inspired by View B, the little pink dress in the upper left corner:
There were so many things about this pattern that made it the near-perfect shirtdress:  the skirt is pleated, rather than gathered, so the skirt lies more flat against the hips; the short sleeves cover but aren't too long; the front bodice has darts rather than gathers for a more flattering fit.

I made size 12 and the only alteration I made was to lengthen the skirt by an inch and quarter so the skirt covered my knee - I am weary of dresses that hit me mid-knee.  Either above the knee or below the knee, dear readers - anything else makes it look like you grew out of it last year.  So with my lengthening, the skirt ended up being 24.5 inches long.  Unfortunately, I failed to lengthen the front bands as well.  Rather than buy more fabric and cut two more bands, I just pieced the additional length to the front band pieces before attaching to the dress. I figured no one would notice, and still few would care.  I also omitted the side pockets to avoid extra bulk, as I usually do.  I added way more edgestitching to this dress than the instructions called for (which was exactly none).  I edgestitched the shoulder seams, collar, collarstand, front bands, and waistband. I think the edgestitching makes the dress more finished and pressing in the future easier.

My original plan (and it still is a plan) was to make a shirtdress from Liberty's Tana Lawn, but I haven't been able to find the absolute right fabric print yet.  Given that the Liberty lawn is $ 36 a yard, I won't use Liberty unless it is the end-all, be-all of Liberty lawns.  And since I haven't been able to find the Holy Grail of Liberty prints yet, I settled for four yards of "Bouquet Splendor" by Vicki Lynn Oehlke of Willowberry for Henry Glass fabrics (I'm reading the selvage as I type).  Four yards of "Bouquet Splendor" cost me about the same as one yard of Liberty lawn.

The collar is constructed with a separate collar stand, and it has been awhile since I've made a collar with a stand - my collar stand skills have gotten rusty (not that they were very well oiled!).  I used David Coffin's book instructions again which have you attach the stand to the shirt, and then the collar to the stand, rather than attaching the collar and the stand together, and then attaching the collar/stand business to your dress.  Doing Daivd Coffin's way gives you a better chance of a smooth stand and while mine wasn't perfect, I was pleased enough:

The back bodice, like my Easter dress, is made with gathers, rather than darts, so the back bodice bousens a bit:

I'd rather have darts for a smoother fit, but I have noticed that the more roomy your bodice, the smaller your waist looks!  Here's a close up that shows the fabric better, and shows a little gaposis at my waist; I might add an extra button on the waistband area if it bothers me:

I enoyed wearing this dress all day.  My plan was to wear it with a white linen blazer/jacket that I ordered, which never arrived, to make the outfit more business-like.  Today was finally the first day above 70 degrees, so today was the day for the first wearing, jacket or no jacket.  I got several compliments on the dress - all from women over 60 - but compliments nontheless!  I realize the style is a bit schoolmarm-ish, but I love it:

This dress is so ridiculously me, I know I'll wear it all summer!

In more exciting news, Mezmerina Atelier has nominated me for a Liebster award! I'm still ponding my answers to her questions and who I will nominate, but please go read her wonderful sewing blog.  Bruce is waiting for you!