We've reached that time of the year when the temperatures are starting to rise and I have to start uncovering my very pale English skin...
I realized a few years ago that midi skirts are one of my favorite spring to summer garments as they show a hint of pale leg but don't subject anyone else to the full expanse!
I'd had my eye on this amazing beautiful cotton sateen fabric for a while, and while it's a fairly recognizable designer logo, you'd have to be really looking to spot it I think ........it just looks like a very vibrant and happy pattern that seems to co-ordinate with a surprising amount of colours.
I did have to get super creative with the pattern layout as I was ideally short a yard for such a big skirt... so while there was absolutely no chance of any pattern matching, it's so drapey that I think thankfully it's not to obvious.
The original pattern is taken from one of my favorite dresses and I've loved it so much I've used it four or five times before.
and I honestly think this is a perfect example of a classic Marfy pattern as the drafting is gorgeous, and SO interesting..........the center front and center back are cut on grain, while the sides are all on bias which really helps to create the flow of this skirt
In total the skirt is make up of six pieces and could potentially use up 3 plus yards alone (there is more info HERE from the first muslin) but I squeezed this into just under two.
and while I love love this as is, I think in hindsight that a skirt with this much fabric would have benefitted from a very lightweight horsehair braid worked into the hem to help shape and balance it, but as an after thought I slipped a couple of weights into the side seams of the hem instead and it worked surprisingly well.
I honestly can't imagine that I won't make this again at some point but the next time I'm going to add a fairly wide waistband to give my waist a more defined look and to help support such a substantial amount of fabric.
I've been quiet but busy over here, playing around with Camisoles, draping and drafting.
I always imagined that draping such a straightforward pattern would be quick but once I started I realized I had a laundry list of must haves and muslin after muslin finally led to these.
They have length, lots of shape and a deep bust dart that will be hidden with lace eventually......and the 6 ply Silk Crepe just elevates them to heavenly.
I've been posting pics on Instagram but it's almost like watching paint dry. Cut the bias strips/hang the bias strips/wait for 48 hours/sew the bias strips /steam the bias strips/hang the bias strips!
Right now, I'm at that stage where I have lots of Chantilly lace to cut and sew on to the neckline and hem, quite how long that's going to take is a mystery, as it's beginning to sink in just how much of an art all of this is ......
I'll be back in a week or so with at least one finished one :-)
Enjoy the rest of your week everyone!
I definitely think that after a few years of sewing, I have become more mindful about what I should be making as opposed to what I want to make....
and while I don't always follow that logic, swayed wayyyyy to easily by a floral or print that I would never buy in a retail garment, I do feel this skirt - black/ cream, an interesting detail and works with a variety of shoes (that should be No 1 !) does finally fit the sensible category and will hopefully get a lot of wear.
Spot the cat!
I was on the hunt for silks in B&J Fabrics a couple of month ago and this caught my eye when I went rogue and wandered down the wool aisle.
I was instantly smitten and intrigued, its gorgeous and tactile - definitely one of those fabrics that you know you just have to have, even when you have no idea what to make with it.....
The label said "Calvin Klein, made in Italy, double faced cashmere with silk fused nylon thread". Its a medium weight wool with a surprising amount of drape and softness, and I thought it was really special.
The nylon feels somewhat like very fine zipper teeth and I can only imagine that the silk that was used to create the effect is what helps keep it lightweight and flexible.
After procrastinating for a few months, I decided that this could make a beautiful skirt and so I went back to my favorite and much used skirt pattern, the free Marfy PDF 0757.
and still think it's such a good pattern to use as a jumping off point as it only has two pieces and can be so easily altered.
Taking into account the medium weight of the wool and the fusible, I figured that a tighter midi length pencil skirt would work well, and help keep bulk at bay.
And it was actually a really nice straightforward make. I cut the back panel in to two, moved the zipper placement from the side to the back and added a long split at the bottom center back
I also used a silk organza to underline the skirt, not only to help the wool remain stable and supported, but as this skirt is fairly tight, to add reinforcement to the seams.
and it came together quickly overall, there was some pattern matching and I did extend the darts an inch or so to help shape the bulky wool but once I was left with this, I panicked a little....
I really felt that the uniqueness of the fabric had all but disappeared, and the only thing I could come up with was to peel some off in order to highlight it a little more again.
But I won't deny it, I was more than a little anxious when I started peeling off that fusible, having no idea what length was going to work best for the cream panel...
It came off fairly easily, but definitely changed the top of the cashmere to a light fuzz instead of that lux sheen its know for, which was slightly sad (and hopefully not noticeable to anybody but me)
I also removed it as best as I could from the inside seams so it was more comfortable to wear.
I then added the usual hand picked and beeswax thread 7" zipper and Petersham waistband.....
and hand sewed in a very light silk charmeuse lining to help keep bulk down.
Before finishing all my usual hacked hems and seams with a quick catch stitch.....
and seriously steaming and pressing that garment to within an inch of its life......the fusible took the heat well but it was a full on fight to get all those seams to lay flat and not "bounce" back up again. I think I almost had to melt and then cool the nylon threading to get it to submit...but it did :-)
So hopefully this will be a good basic for the closet, it's certainly very easy to wear.
Can't stop watching......
Thank you Liz- my Southern Coco Chanel for the link xx
Anyone else excited to see the Mets new May 5th exhibition “Manus x Machina” ?? looks bloody audacious, and is promising interior views of the garments and an atelier studio set up..... I admit I already pre-ordered my ticket!
Iris van Herpen (Dutch, born 1984). Dress, fall/winter 2013–14. Silicon feather structure and moldings of bird heads on cotton base. Photograph by Jean-Baptiste Mondino
and I read that they are making a Alexander McQueen biopic.... No doubt it will be fascinating to watch (again and again and again!)
The kids are on winter break this week, and I do have a couple of finished items to blog about but next up to sew will be some version of this from one of my favorite Instagramers -
I'm imagining that I might get more wear if it has some kind of waist and a fuller skirt but the jumping off point with definitely be the Grainline Archer and I'll see where it goes from there. Seriously so gorgeous no?
Have a great week everyone
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Can you believe this is the first snow of the year?, I am SO happy winter has taken this long!
Anyway, I've made another jacket, after swearing last year I was absolutely done with them for so many reasons....... but then this arrived at Mendel Goldberg and I was back plotting pattern choices again.
I first saw this fabric in an article in Threads years ago and immediately called Alice asking if they still had stock but sadly it was all sold and so I've waited patiently for it to go back into a limited production at the mill for all of this time.
and as I've tried on Susan's jacket many times in the last few years (not entirely convinced it was not made for me as it fits perfectly, which weirdly she keeps denying!) I knew not to try and attempt a similar Little French Jacket as Susan's is pure perfection, and something I could not possibly emulate.
So, instead I thought of Marfy 3056, which has some lovely lines as well as interesting bias potential.
As usual I made a quick muslin, as I was really not sure if the back design was going to work with the boucle pattern and wanted to see and feel how much ease had been built in overall...
and in theory, this jacket is quite loose and boxy, so I realized I could cut the overlapping button detail as intended and remove the entire section for a more form fitting jacket if I did not end up liking it.
This pattern as a whole does not need much fitting, the bodice is not slim fitting and the raglan needed less shaping, so as soon as I was happy with the construction order, I heavily marked the muslin with red lines for pattern matching and took it apart.
Cutting the fabric out while leaving a whole square of clearance on both the sides and ends for pattern matching.
And even though this boucle is already pretty stable with a nice firm hand, I did decide to underline it in silk organza to help reinforce the button holes, corners and trim.
There was not much to do in the way of prep, but I did stay stitched both corners of the front bodice with a tiny 0.8 stitch to reinforce them before construction, so that I could cut in all the way to the stitch lines before sewing to keep the angle sharp and clean.
Shown here in a tutorial from last year
The pocket bag is attached to the lower seam and sewed in easily.
and frustratingly, I did spend a whole evening adding bound button holes to the back of the jacket, beating the lofty hand into submission with lots of steam and a clapper to make everything lay flat and neat.
I just pinned a random button to the back to get a feel for the look...
Only to decide that overall it was just to much, my eyes simply did not know where to go first.....and my husband and kids kept telling me it looked like I had put it on backwards, so I bowed to the pressure and cut both sides off removing all 5" of additional ease in the process.
Which ultimately just made it into a really nice fitted jacket...and while I loved the back button detail, I think next time I would only attempt it in a very plain medium weight wool or similar which would, of course, be absolutely gorgeous especially in black...hmmm...
and from there it was really a straight run.
I added embroidery thread to the pocket flaps and sleeve detail to enhance the bias cut and while its really kind of subtle I love it.
and as I wanted to keep the front overlap detail as shown, I sewed trim to both sides of the front and then used snaps for closures hiding the outside ones in the trim.
Before using a black silk charmeuse for the lining and hand sewing it in with a fell stitch, before adding a lightweight chain.
One of my favorite details is the natural bias on the sleeve cap, definitely something I don't often think about but love when a pattern highlights it...
So, overall, I love love love this pattern, its flattering, easy to sew and the raglan sleeve is super easy to fit and as comfortable as ever. Highly recommended and one I will be using again and again!
A new Craftsy class:
My lovely friend Helen recently released a new Craftsy course and she has very kindly sent me a link for 50% off to share...
I've had the pleasure of seeing Helen meet and sew for clients on numerous occasions over the last couple of years and not only is she an incredibly talented sewer but she is also a wonderfully professional and informative teacher. I really enjoyed watching her class and have learnt some new techniques and skills...
I've discovered an absolute passion for Camisoles recently, which for me is a match made in heaven with all that silk and lace and so I've been reading everything I can get my hands on as I experiment over and over with bias patterns and test garments...
As well as reading a ridiculous amount of fiction, which includes some of those below:
My husband and I were able to see Salman Rushdie recently when he visited our town to discuss his new book, and while its a little unexpected, I was mesmerized and more than a little intimidated by him. Super funny and oh so scary smart...
and I've been listening to some wonderful Audible books while sewing....
A profoundly moving and beautifully written autobiography by Paul Kalanithi. Don't listen while driving (trust me).
So, the sewing bug is back thankfully....bit scary for a while there when the mojo goes, but I organized my sewing room, made a list of a few projects for the next two months and lost myself in camisole land, so I'm feeling good and this blog will be busy again this year.
Sadly, it does not look neat like this again anymore which is good I guess?!
Have a lovely week everybody :-)
It feels like a long time ago now, but this coat all started in April of this year at a draping class in Baltimore.
I know back then I wrote in general terms about the week but I've had a lot of emails asking for info on how the actual pattern was created, what measurements were used and whether a pattern is available for purchase.
It's fair to say that I struggle with writing more than a general overview of the classes I attend, as morally I feel most of this information is simply not mine to share. I draped my pattern and have used that for my coat but it was all done under the direction of Julien (or Susan or Kenneth ) whose classes I always pay for and for whom this is their life's work.
So, while I don't feel its my place to show muslin schematics, tape placement measurements or draping specific photos/notes in these posts, I will, of course, share how this pattern was created in the broader sense and will, as always, include the more interesting and couture techniques I've used.
I hope you understand :-)
AUDREY HEPBURN DRESS
As I briefly mentioned before, this dress was created as a commission for Japanese designer Yoichi Nagasawa, but was never put into production due to the complicated waist detailing.
and now that I have sewn every single one of those waist triangles together I can truly appreciated why......this is not a one size fits all kind of garment, it needs to be fitted snuggly and precisely to the wearer's exact measurements. A waist that was an inch higher or lower than the garment created would throw off all the drape and detail....
The dress demonstration
One of the things I loved about Julien's draping class was his methodical approach to teaching.
He always started each morning with the line drawing of the next project and the muslin schematic we would need.
From there we would all gather around and watch as he used his black sticky draping tape to mark his dress form following the line drawing while describing the process in exact detail, repeating any stage again and again if any of us needed to clarify a line or a measurement.
When he was sure we had all understood the taped process, he would then start to drape each panel of the garment slowly and precisely stopping for questions and re-draping a section as many times as we needed. Photos and endless notes were always encouraged but video was understandably not allowed.
and when his master piece was complete, off we would go to attempt something vaguely similar on our own forms...
Draping my dress
I started by dividing each section of my dress form's upper and lower body into quarters and then eighths, based on Julien's calculations.
and from there I prepared thirty two individual pieces of muslin, sixteen for the upper and sixteen for the lower body, all marked with my individual measurements and a standard center grainline.
We all started draping the upper body first, and I quickly found that although the design looked complicated and more than a little overwhelming, once it was broken down into sections, it was surprisingly manageable as it was not subjective to the usual flow and ease of a draped garment (which is where I struggle continuously)
I would start each section by placing the center grain line of the muslin on top of the dress form grain line, lining both up and then pining to hold following grains and shape, from there it was as simple as transferring all the taped marks with a series of pencil dots on the muslin to create my working pattern.
and then the same was repeated for the skirt, while keeping the upper body muslin in place so the two could be marked for an exact section fit.
and interestingly (but maybe only to me?! ) while every lower body has to be draped because of the single direction that they flow, the upper body is actually a mirror image and only half a pattern is necessary.
Making the dress into a coat
Turning the pattern into a coat was a little more tricky as the pattern is draped with no ease on the dress form, and I did not know exactly where or how much it would need.
I did briefly think about sewing the actual muslin pattern to try on but the muslin and my final fabric would have behaved so differently that I did not think it would be accurate enough to justify spending the time on it.
I also thought of just adding 1/4" to each panel but when you have sixteen panels 4" of ease is an awful lot for me to wear, even for a coat.
So after some thought, I decided to add 1" to the center front and make the initial coat without additional ease but leave plenty of seam allowances throughout so it could be adjusted as necessary.
I then removed all the muslin pieces from the dress form and cut away all the excess fabric so that I was left with the actual pattern pieces (seam allowances removed)
and then it was on to the fun stuff......fabric!!
While in Baltimore I will often take a ride over to Michaels Fabrics just to looks around. They generally have a quick turnaround of fabrics and it's always a little hit or miss so there are many times when I don't find a thing but thankfully this time I found the perfect one.
A lightweight, non stretch deep navy Wool and Silk Loro Piana at an incredibly good price......and I promptly bought fourteen yards (and Tracey did to, can't wait to see her version!)
As the wool was lightweight I knew it would need a little help as it has to hold all those seams crisply and neatly, so I underlined it with a pure silk Organza.
Cutting the organza was quick and easy thankfully, as it was wide and pieces could be moved around to fit, and only seven yards later.......
As with most wools, mine had a slight nap so everything had to laid out in the same direction which just ate up my fabric yard by yard..
and once the sleeves, collars, facings and button band were added I was at almost 13 yards.
Thread tracing 38 pieces took the best part of a day even with the help of a daughter and husband!
On the first day of class, I pined all the panels onto my dress form in order to make sure that they fitted and were in the correct order...
and then Susan suggested that it was time for some major stitching prep.
As the skirt is angled on both sides, one side needed to be re-enforced and the other clearly marked for an exact sewing pivot.
The re-enforced side was then snipped so it could be sewn accurately and each panel was joined from left to right.
Reducing seam bulk
When faced with a multitude of seam joins, Susan suggested that I reduce seam bulk couture style.
By sewing up to the seam line but not over it and finishing with a little back stitch
Before flipping the seams to the other side and repeating.....
Which is genius because although there is no stitch over the actual seam allowance, it still does secure the seam perfectly which helps keep everything flexible instead of stiff and makes seam trimming quick and easy.
and when you have this many seams intersecting in a garment you need all the help you can get!
When Norma emailed me back in the Spring and asked if I would be interested in joining her inaugural bra making class in early summer, I said yes immediately.
It's something I knew so little about and had been too intimidated to attempt alone, but wanted a deeper understanding of.
Boston is not that far from me, just over two hours.....but it's somewhere we rarely go which is such a shame as it is a great place to visit.
The class was to be held over two days with a Monday start, so my husband and I headed up on the Saturday, ate the most amazing meal at Clio (highly recommend!) and spent the Sunday shopping and enjoying the sights which was such a treat for us before he headed home, and I got ready to learn.
and learn I did, as this was a seriously interesting and well prepared class.
As measurements are just the beginning of a well fitting bra, Norma had us try on a few of her vast made up sample sizes so we could find the most comfortable cup and band, for her to fit us correctly.
It's amazing that an 1/8" will make that much difference but it truly did.....she's that good!!
Day one was all about the white bra which was in essence our muslin.
and while I was skeptical that I could create a whole bra with absolutely no previous experience in just a few hours, I did and I wear it!
On Day 2 we applied all that we had learnt from the previous day and made another bra but in black this time, which not only fits perfectly but has convinced me never to buy another bad fitting bra again!
Two perfectly fitted completely wearable bras, I was so proud of myself!
Now of course I have a list of lace inspired underwear I want to make like:
Oh the possibilities!!!
I really loved Norma's depth of knowledge about fit and construction and her willingness to share, having a better understanding of bust fit was so interesting and relevant to all of my sewing and honestly it just such a fun and relaxed couple of days......the perfect length of time and with only three of us we all received lots and lots of individual attention.
and as an added bonus to a already great few days, Norma and I met the famous Jenny of Cashmerette for dinner one night which was awesome as I have such admiration for all that she is doing.
and I think Carmen, Anne Marie and I had so much fun that we convinced Norma to do some more......all the info is here
(I paid for my class in full)
So.......more coat sewing this week, in between work. There are lots of new fabrics arriving from Europe and end pieces that need to be put on the site ..
Also a huge thanks to Nel for this link....
and also a big thank you to Cynthia for this lovely Lanvin link. I arrive in Paris about three days after it ends sadly :-(
Have a wonderful week everyone.
It's been a while.......
and I'm not sure how that happened in all honesty. I had planned on a couple of weeks and then it turned into a month and I found I loved not having the deadlines for the first time in a long time and here we are, three months later!!!
But I am really ready to get back into this in a big way. I've missed all of it, and it's time.
I'm a little undecided on how this blog will look going forward, because I've been delving deeper into the draping over the last few months, and trying to build on the lessons I had learnt with Julien which might mean a lack of actual productive sewing days some weeks...
But I think based on my immediate plans it should still be most Mondays unless I am in a "been there, done that and written about it" phase.
I have a couple of little French Jackets to make with Susan Khalje's really gorgeous new pattern, which I was very happy to have fitted last week but as of now am deep in the middle of the most technically difficult and frustrating garment I've made to date (Some of you might have seen it already as I have been mini blogging about it on Instagram)
But for this week, I thought I would get the blog started again with some pictures from last week's class in Baltimore....
and while I know I say this every time, it really was an amazing week. There is something so empowering about being with a group of like minded women from all walks of life, who are kind, generous and tons of fun.
We ate out a lot, talked endlessly, took over the lobby of our hotel some evenings, and shared more than a few cocktails throughout the week.....
and when somebody mentioned in a email after we all got home that it had fed their soul, I could not agree more, it really had.
I came back inspired and refreshed, ready to head into my sewing room again with the litany of new skills I had learnt and signed up for March and September next year!
So, I knew I wanted to start something serious for a first project after such a fun and relaxing summer, and thought the draped dress from April could make a beautiful coat.
and while I will do a complete post on it next week, I did want to share where it as of today....
(although I missed a couple of people leaving, I did get a fair few projects in progress this time....enjoy!)
Wendy - Marfy 2889 / B & J Fabrics
My amazing friend Wendy always thrills me with her effortless ability to mix and match fabrics, and while the photos do not do the colours justice, the heavenly cashmere and embellished wool matched and complimented perfectly.
It's always fascinating to see somebody else's interpretation of a Marfy, and made in such a gorgeous haute couture boucle no less! ....this one has really inspired me to make another this winter.
Carol / Mendel Goldberg Fabrics
This was one of those super special projects that you just feel lucky to be witnessing....a stunning Kimono hand sewn in it's entirety with the most beautiful of silk charmeuse fabrics and a whole lot of skill.
P.J - Marfy 2922/ Mendel Goldberg Fabrics
Seriously, this is such a perfect interpretation of 2922....and constructed with such thought. The boucle PJ used was very haute couture with a lot of ribbon embellishment and not very practical for daily wear so she reversed the fabric to use the smoother but no less interesting side and now has a jacket that can now be worn 24/7.
Jan / Mendel Goldberg Fabrics
I always love it when I get to see a favorite fabric of mine made into such a beautiful garment, but then Jan then went on to make a charcoal jacket to compliment it and elevated it all even further.
Jeanne - V2934
Jeanne is one of those people that constantly inspire with their knowledge and skill, and someone I always try to be in class with. Made in the softest most divine of cashmere's and fitted to perfection, does this version not make you realize it's just what your closet is missing because its most definitely did for me!
I can never wait to see what my table mate Cissie will pick for her project and she never ever disappoints, not only was this sewn to couture standards in a gorgeous gaberdine but also lined with the most stunning of Burberry silks... ( you can read her pattern review here)
Mary - Burda / G Street Fabrics
You know those fabrics you splurge on and then you wait and wait for the right project to come along? This Cashmere was most definitely one of them.... The feel and colour depth of this in real life was hard to describe, and proves to me again that there is simply nothing better than a good quality fabric and the perfect pattern.
Marion was such a dark horse last week, we all saw the silk snakeskin and raved, knew she was making a dress and loved the silhouette...... and then on one of the last days, the lace appeared, organza was tea dyed and we were all just blown away with her vision, (and thankfully right before I left she so nicely put it on for me so I could take pictures!)
I'm hoping to get some work done on the draped coat in the next few days, but I leave for LA Thursday for that first official check in of the freshman college child....who is insisting on not attending any of the organized college homecoming events as she just wants a hotel, lots of sleep and some quiet..bless :-)
I'll be back home Monday and will have some kind of post up that evening and possibly before if my weekend proves to be as laid back as it sounds!
Her shoes hurt, so she put them on top of her feet in every.single.picture we have....teenagers!
Wishing everyone a wonderful week.
I completely understand that this jacket will not be most people's thing...but I've always been so curious about how a garment like this is constructed.
I started this in Baltimore at the beginning of April and have been working on it on and off since then...
It's been a long process to get to this point because I really was making most of this up as I went along but I've learn so much about foundations, stability and manipulation that its been worth every minute.
(and apologies for the excess of pictures and the jeans, but the skinny black pants I had on just merged into the jacket and I lost the hem details....and boy is this hard to photograph clearly)
I knew that for the initial shape of the jacket I wanted a sleek silhouette, so I started by using Marfy 3635, removing the lapels and collar....I cut both a underlining of Silk Organza, and a upper layer of heavy, very thick cotton sateen.
and once we had the initial fit, Susan suggested that I increase each of the seams by an inch from the waist down, which gave it the flair I wanted but still kept the drama at a fairly subtle level.
Building the shape turned out to be fairly easy to achieve using 3" horse hair joined in layers on a machine and then sewn at the top and bottom of the base jacket to the hem using a 2.0 stitch.
and finally I added a 1" Grosgain ribbon waist stay sewn to the outside of the base jacket and gathered on grain by creating small pleats where necessary, so the fit would be snug and the weight of the lace would be supported by my waist.
and then after all that prep, it was time for the star of the show...
The lace itself is simply gorgeous, hand beaded from Switzerland and in the darkest of hues. I had looked at it for a long time before I bought it, not knowing if I could do it justice.
There were a couple of ways to sew this lace onto the base jacket, and the easiest might have been to cut each pattern shape and sew as normal but the lace really is so intricately beaded that it would have been awful to join on all those long seams invisibly.
and because it had such beautiful scalloped edges, we chose to drape it from the hem up leaving the entire length intact.
Susan started by pinning the hem all the way along and then feed the lace upwards towards the shoulders in the straightest line possible.
Luckily with this kind of fabric there are no grain lines but there were some patterns within the lace we had to be careful not to clump together...
and then it was simply a case of gathering and pining folds so that the shaping could begin.
and at that point, it was over to me for the long process of fitting and sewing.
I found the easiest way was to gather two or three inches of excess, cut directly through the middle and then remove sequins one by one along along with the undernetting until I could snuggly re-join the two sides again leaving no extra lace.
Often, I would have to add extra sequins and sew over obvious joins to make them invisible....hence the on and off weeks of sewing but it was interesting and peaceful work, if a little laborious.
Overall, almost every inch of the lace has been sewn to the jacket lining, using a double thread and a tiny Japanese needle. I found I had to work fairly randomly within sections as some sequins were easier to get the needle through than others which is probably why the insides look like more of a hot mess than usual.
The shoulders were padded quite significantly in order to both support all that lace and balance the large peplum at the bottom.
I actually spent quite a lot of time experimenting with padding and horse hair, and eventually settled on nine layers of the horse hair, trimmed down to shape the shoulder area and then I carefully added lots of boucle and wool left overs to pad up to that shoulder pad, to help keep the line smooth and subtle..
and once the shoulders were in place, it was just a case of sewing up the rest of the lace.
The fronts of the jacket were a little tricky, as I could not just tuck the lace to the inside without creating bulk, but thankfully I had just enough of the scalloped edging left from the hem.
I cut a straight line a inch from the center front and hand sewed the scallop to the cut edge very slowly adding beading as I went.....and I have to say it was absolutely worth every minute as its completely invisible.
At that point I could start to see that the base jacket was just not enough support for the weight of all that lace (the finished garment feels like a very heavy leather jacket) and so I started opening up areas of hem and inserting boning..
I added along most of the front center seams, lapels and center back hem.. as well as large upholstery weights in the hem at the center front to keep the jacket pulling down nicely (white squares) and a large 6" single layer of horse hair sewn directly above the original multi layered hem.
and once the hooks and eyes were all sewn on, it was time for the lining..
Which is simple black silk Charmeuse, that I have lightly sewn to the seams using a quick fell stitch. I'm waiting to see if the jacket needs anymore adjusting, if the lace will move or if the horsehair will work its way through before I close it up properly but it's cut and in at least for now.
So overall I'm really happy with this, but I can see from the pics that there are still a couple of loose areas that could do with a few more millimeters removing, (always funny how pictures highlight it more than it shows in real life)..... and happily even though I won't be wearing this jacket much, its definitely going to be one that I love when I do.
I'm thinking a black cashmere version might be perfect for less formal occasions!
Up next is a midi skirt with some amazing Coach Cotton Sateen from Alice you might have seen on Instagram . I can't wait to get started on that now that I have finally painted, cleared and planted the yard back to submission after that horrendous winter from hell.
Cynthia recently sent me a lovely email, with this fascinating link for me to share from an exhibit of Nineteen Century clothing...all the guts, stitching and details. I just loved it and have gone back often to browse in quiet moments (thank you again!)
David Page Coffin recently released a new book which I was excitedly pre-ordered months ago, and then forgot and bought again...
It's a really great resource book for anybody who does or will make shirts, albeit a little different than a normal sewing book and is filled with photos and options as well as downloads (but no actual construction per se)
(and if anyone would like my second copy, I would be very happy to send it your way. Just leave me a comment and I will randomly pick one at the end of next week -12th)
and the very lovely Helen Haughey has recently opened an Etsy Store and I offered to share the link. I've been hanging out with her at Mendel Goldberg as she occasionally flies up and meets clients there...Its been so interesting to watch someone fit and sew for a client on site.
I've also been reading lots recently...
The Long Way Home - Louise Penny. The latest in the Gamache series. I have to say as much as I love these, and this was enjoyable it was a little contrived to say the least.
Do the Kind Thing - Daniel Lubetsky. I'm always interested to know how these businesses start, and this was really a well deserved success..
Tim Gunn - The Natty Professor. I mean how could this not be fabulous! (and it was)
Gods and Kings - Dana Thomas. Highly highly highly recommend...seriously! Just an amazingly insightful and very interesting book on Galliano and McQueen and more than a little sad (great photos as well)
Chess Men and Lewis Man - Peter May. Two and three in the trilogy following on from The Blackhouse, which I know lots of you loved as much as me. Really wonderful books.
Vivienne Westwood - by Vivienne Westwood and Ian Kelly. (and narrated by Paula Wilcox - anyone old enough like me to remember her?!) One of the absolute queens of fashion and incredibly good.
I'll probably be back in two weeks, as the schools are wrapping up for the year and we have lots going on...... including both a Senior and Eight grade graduation, end of year parties and projects, College boy moving into an apartment close to school and work today, and the day to day stuff...
Have a lovely week everyone!
April unexpectedly turned into an extended month of learning which was a surprise and an absolute pleasure...
Between my jacket week at the beginning of the month (still nowhere near finished) Spring break and nine days of draping at the end, my mind is plotting crazy sewing ideas that will probably never come to fruition but are sooo nice to dream about...
and while I did keep up a feed on Instagram last week, and apologise for some repeat pictures...I did want to share the genius of Julien...Part 2.
Some of you might remember that I took a draping class with him last year and after re-reading this morning what I wrote about it at the time, it really does sum up how I still feel, I absolutely love it and am frustrated by it equally....and for that reason alone, I will be signing up again next year and every year after that (poor guy!)
This year I was hoping to ease myself into the process again to some extent and so signed up to tops and skirts first, hoping it would be more manageable than a whole dress...
and while I do know that for some people draping makes absolute sense from the very first fold on the dress form, for me it's not intuitive at all......I know in theory how draping works, I can plot out the steps in my mind, I can even take the muslin to it's intended place but actually knowing when to tighten slightly and when not to, where to snip and release and when to leave well alone is a challenge.
Julien however, is not only one of the nicest people I've met, but is also an incredibly gifted teacher, and appears to have endless patience....which was nice when I remade my first garment three times because of over snipping!
Each class segment had a different number of garments - two tops and two skirts over four days, and three more complex dresses over five days.
We would start each day with a line drawing of a garment, and a schematic for muslin measurements and then Julien would demonstrate just how the sticky tape should be placed before pinning the muslin on the form..
From there he would very slowly walk us through each fold, gather, snip and tuck, waiting and repeating while we took pictures and wrote notes.... until he ended up with a master piece and I eventually ended up with something vaguely familiar..
It's an incredibly thing to see the final patten shape, it was usually something so complex that it would be virtually impossible to create on flat pattern without years of experience.
I also loved all the pattern making practice , for me it was absolutely invaluable. Learning how to transfer muslin marks accurately to make a well fitting flat pattern (1/8" people!) how and where to add ease, move and place darts, add pleats, create cap and full length sleeves, and drape belts is useful for any level of sewing and things I will use often.
Below is Julien's version of a dress that I was still draping on the final day.....over eight yards of fabric would be necessary to replicate this beauty! (its on my list for next month)
and so while I am not sure I know which ones I will eventually make, I am going to try the 35 piece dress that is shown at the top, and possibly even a shorter jacket version as I think the pattern shows such versatility .....but am not sure I will be attempting any of the others unsupervised!
So up next is the Lace Jacket...and as the Sun is out and Spring has finally arrived ... posts will probably be every other week after all the bitching I did this Winter, unless I am in a particulary productive faze!
Have a lovely week, its so nice to be back :-)
I've always thought I would go back to college when my youngest went to high school and become a mature design/fashion student in a class full of eighteen year olds....
But it occurred to me recently that I have already been doing this for the best part of three years by studying with Susan.
Everything I've made in her classes has been chosen by me (and therefore interesting to me) and has enabled me to build on my skill set, one garment at a time.
Starting with the more generic evening gowns, skirts, corsets and coats and moving on to the little French jackets, lace skirts and high/low taffeta dresses, I have been slowly learning just where my aesthetic lies and just how far I can go design wise and still wear what I make.
and I think last week was really a culmination of what I really love and would wear (in public with no occasion in mind!)
Granted, this jacket ain't for everyone (and probably not for almost anyone) but if I could choose in life to emulate one designer and one designer only, it would be McQueen hands down every time...
and so this is my very small nod to him.
When I saw this lace at Mendel Goldberg a couple of years ago I fell instantly in love. Its not like anything I had seen before....its dark, moody and interestingly visual, and it screamed McQueen to me, but I had no idea what I would make should I ever buy it and so it sat in Alice's office for more than a year just waiting for me to decide (she is really really amazing like that!)
But when Alice told me she was coming down to visit a Baltimore class I was in last September, I asked if she could bring the lace so I could talk to Susan about the possibilities of making a jacket with it.
Technically its a tough make as this lace is couture all the way - entirely sewn by hand, delicate, and incredibly heavy (think chain mail) and only a scant 1 7/8 yards, 42" wide to be had in total.
The wrong side
On the flip side, it's got no grain to respect so every single inch can be utilized by piecing, left over beads and paillettes can be added to fill in and hide seaming and it has the most glorious scalloped edges for hems and cuffs.
and thankfully Susan took one look at it, and thought a jacket and the lace would be a perfect match.
So where to start?.....I knew I wanted a basic jacket shape as a jumping off point and so picked pattern 3635 from the new Marfy catalog, I loved the lines and fit on this, and knew I could change the collar easily..
When I got to Baltimore, we talked about the muslin and did a quick fit, but the only thing Susan changed was the princess seam bodice dart to a side dart for sewing ease (and because it would ultimately be hidden anyway). There were some small fit issues but because I wanted this jacket super fitted and tight we decided to leave those until the base jacket was made..
I definitely came prepared with lots of options for the base jacket, as a few days before I left for class I had gone through my entire stash trying to find suitable fabrics and eventually settled on a really lovely super stable black cotton sateen...quite lightweight but firm with the nicest of sheens (which I hoped would show through the lace in places) my trusty roll of silk organza and a few yards of voile.
Susan recommended a double layer of the sateen, one cut on grain and one cut on cross grain as well as an underlining of organza to really provide the strongest most stable of structures to hold all that weight and shape we were planning on building in..
(By cutting the grains in different directions they all cancel each other out and provide a foundation that simply does not stretch or move on any grain - In the exact manor as Madame Picco who made her corsets with layers of alternating grained organza...)
Its a pretty hardcore base as in total I used 7 yards of black cotton sateen and three of organza and included very generous seam allowance everywhere for fit adjustments in case we needed it as construction progressed...
and I'm so glad I did because the first thing I realized when I tried it on was that it needed a little flare below the waist for visual interest, so I opened up each seam and added an inch to each throughout the jacket from waist to hem...
and once we had that, the fun began....
We realized that there are only so many ways you can support a peplum of that size and intended weight....and as fate would have it I was sat next to one of the most innovative and inspiring designers I have ever met, the very lovely Agnes (just take a look at her site - it's extraordinary) and she had just happened to have bought 36 yards of both 3" and 6" horsehair with her.
and so after a quick trade, I had seven yards of 3" horse hair to play with! I cut the trim into three 2 yard pieces (the length of my new hem) and saved a yard for shoulder pads.
Susan suggested sewing the three 2 yard pieces together to make one seriously strong support using a regular stich and a zig zag design...
Before sewing it into the hem of the bodice with a straight machine stitch.
Which resulted in this....
To cover the horsehair on the inside, I just flipped up the hem and sewed it over the trim with a catch stitch.
and then we had to decide how to distribute the weight of the lace most effectively to stop it from pulling to much on the shoulders and bodice......and the easiest solution seemed to be to attach the most snug of waist stay.
So while I wore the jacket, Susan pinned a grosgain ribbon as tightly as she could around the jacket, gathering excess fabric as she went...
and I think that's what I really love about these garments, you can get really down and dirty with techniques....because the black fabric was all to be covered, I could just sew the tucks, and gathers to the waist stay as I went, not having to go in and finely tune the fit...and the lace would just sit on top right where I put it...
(I did make sure that no pattern piece was twisted and the front grain remained straight when the jacket was closed but other than that it was a free for all!)
The stay was sewn to the outside of the jacket just because I could... using a small 1.8 stitch at both top and bottom to make sure it was secure.
and finally on day three it was time to play with lace, and that I gratefully handed off to Susan!
The only thing I knew I wanted was the scallop at the hem, so once that was pinned all the way around, it was time to drape that lace.
It's fairly magical watching an expert do this I admit.......and something I could watch agan and again.
Susan basically pulled up the lace from the hem to the shoulder and pinned it roughly down, and then began to drape and manipulate the lace all around the bodice, gathering and pinching out sections with pins, and then cutting and snipping until it lay almost flat.
She had to use my big Ginger scissors to do this, as nothing else was cutting through all that beading and bits were flying everywhere...
and then I spent the next couple of days roughly stitching the lace to the jacket base before working on the shoulders...
I knew I wanted big statement shoulders, as a visual element to balance the wider peplum but without heading into Michael Jacket circa 1980, and the easiest way was to join what eventually became nine layers of horsehair to make a big enough pad as a base before wrapping the end in boucle to soften and build up that sloped edge..
and from there I trimmed and snipped away until I got a shape that I was happy with...
Realistically, I am in for at least another week of sewing, as its a slow slow process, I've made the collar and the sleeves are on, but it's tricky as the only way to mould the lace properly is to keep the jacket on the dress form, so I'm spending a lot of time standing, crouching and hanging off a chair trying to sew.... and I'm finding I can only do that for short spells before my mind wants to explode!!
One of the most fun things about these classes is seeing what everyone else is making, and they are always so generous about letting me take pics to share.... and while I didn't get everyones garments again -sorry! (I always feel a bit intrusive taking photos while people are sewing/fitting etc) there is a nice selection below.
Diana and I have taken a few classes together now, and she is one of them most advanced and skilled sewers I know..
She was making a dress for her Sons wedding this year with a Vogue pattern that by all accounts more than deserved its advanced rating!!
and working on the wrap to complement the dress...
and the very lovely and generous Eileen (who some of you will know from Susan's Houston classes) was making Marfy 3467 in a gorgeous Chanel Boucle ...... thank you again for the fusible and hair canvas!! x
The amazing Agnes spent the week draping, designing, pattern making and sewing this extraordinary organza dress/coat that was to be worn over a corset and leather pants.. I wanted this so much..
Diana was using Burda 9746 as a jumping off point for a jacket...
and an extraordinary fabric that she bought at Mulberry Silks in NC...which believe it or not was even more stunning in real life.
Peggy was using Marfy 3451 to make a lace top from the dress pattern, which I thought was a really great idea to get more use from a single purchase.....
and she had the most wonderful piece of vintage cotton lace in the deepest shade of bottle green that I have ever seen..
and Andrea was sewing a vintage Pucci for her sons graduation this year...
The lines on this pattern were simply beautiful and I admit to being very tempted to make this.... Andrea also bought a beautiful boucle from Alice to complement the dress fabric for the little Pucci jacket.
and a couple of show and tell pieces that some ladies bought with them...
Some incredible hand beaded French lace being hoarded in stash for just the right occasion..it was only about 18" wide and about a yard and a half long, can you even begin to imagine how long that would take to create?!
and a wonderful idea for a quilted princess seamed skirt. This has all the same elements, full quilting, two back zippers etc but the boucle has been fringed at the bottom to great effect (apparently it takes a lot of patience!!)
and on the Thursday night we all went out to dinner and Robin of A little sewing joined us. It was so much fun to meet another blogger and we chatted the night away, leaving with plans to do it all again next month!!
She is actually just starting a Marfy pattern for her Mother of the bride dress, and I love where she is heading with it.... and as she lives in Baltimore is actually taking some private lessons with Susan to fine tune the fit etc
So thats it, the longest and latest post ever!! it took a while to get all this down....
We are heading into Spring break with all the kids home, and I don't imagine much will be done in the next two weeks, so I will be back as soon as this jacket is done!!
Have a wonderful couple of weeks :-)
Its almost finished...there are still inside seams to bias bind, and the hem to mess around with, but its close enough to show now, rather than in a couple of weeks...as this feels like it is dragging on and on.
and I apologise, the photos are not great as it was getting dark and we were rushing...
Overall, I am honestly surprised how much I like this. Its very comfortable and will add a great pop of colour to the endless black I wear most days...its also nice and casual which means it will get a lot of wear.
It took forever though, longer than a French Jacket in the end, as I ended up having to hand sew the entire jacket which was never my intention.
But, I did know going in that I would have to match seams which I love but it also turned out that sewing piping and matching while using a sewing machine is completely impossible (at least for me!)
The walking foot was great for keeping the two seams matched and even, and the piping foot was great for keeping the cording tight and neat....but neither could do both well.
and I really really wanted both...so I hand basted the piping onto the seam line and then hand sewed the two seams to the piping feeling my way along stitch by stitch, before steaming both edges flat.
It was a long long process, one slow seam at a time using heavily bees waxed double thread and a lot of the Walking Dead - Seasons 3 and most of 4 to keep me company :-(
(The back hem looks like it could do with another 2" added and a nice curve from the look of this picture - i'm on it!)
but it's pretty good I think. There are areas where I could not line things up enough, the curves and angle of the design made things difficult to keep in orderly neat lines in places, , so I just picked the most obvious match lines and left it at that.......
and the piping and intersecting seams make areas of the jacket very thick and stiff, regardless of just how much I trimmed down...
I'm also assuming the fabric was end of roll or similar, as the selvedge and wool was wavy and stretched in places.
Part of this could have been the metalic thread woven through but it also looks like it could have been stored badly. I tried everything to line it all up before cutting but ultimately found it was better to cut as close to grain as possible and then almost block the individual pieces to re-align them.
The fabric itself was on a half yard repeat which was such a absolute pain, talk about wasting fabric - but this was my eventual line up for the bodice... (I cut the sleeves once the bodice was sewn as its hard to line them up before hand)
The center front piece is almost a yard square..
In total I cut into 3 yards... and even ended up having to add a small triangle to the under sleeve on the left side so I could line the fronts up because there was just not enough left to cut a full sleeve...
and making the fringing was fun and something I had not done before...
I found some small leather strips in my stash and sewed (by machine yey!) the suede underside an inch from the end of the front and top hem before shredding the very stable fabric..
Maybe I will try that for my next LFJ rather than buying trim, it works really well.
and after all that thankfully, because of all the pre-fitting, it was a straighforward make, I only had to reduce the bodice neck area by an inch just below the collar as there was a bump in final fitting, and take another inch and a half at the very front vertical hem line so that it hung a little more neatly and overall it's now pretty much where I wanted it.
I'm going to keep the pattern and all the notes, because while I am not certain I will make this again, I think it would be simply fabulous in a plain white boucle with black piping or with plain black boucle and leather/suede piping.
So overall, its a success but I do wish that Vogue had shown a little more of the actual garment on the pattern envelope, I would love to have seen more of the details like where the upper front seam lays on the model but it's hidden behind the collar.
I did not adjust that area much and if I wear the collar as they suggest you can actually see the inside seaming even if I turn both edges towards the sleeve... I'm hoping once I bind the seams it might not be noticable if worn that way, but I like it the way I'm wearing it regardless.
So over the next couple of weeks, I will work on extending the hem and adding bias binding to all the insides seams. I can't quite face that right now, as its feels like a whole lot more hand sewing...
and as soon as Spring actually arrives, I will get some decent pics of everything that's been made recently..
I'm in Baltimore this week, and have finally bought a spectacular and long hoarded piece of lace out of storage. I've never sewn with anything like this before and really don't have any idea where to start, so I am really looking forward to learning a whole new set of skill's.
I can't say for sure what I am doing with it but am thinking along the lines of a statement jacket. Tailored with a maderin collar and some kind of waist detail - with a dark McQueen vibe.
It's super heavy, very beaded and sequined, so I imagine some kind of waist stay will be needed as well as a couple of layers of support.
I've packed two different kinds of cotton's for the jacket shell, one heavy and one a medium weight, as well as my organza...I am not sure how many layers will be needed for the foundation so it will hold the lace properly...but we shall see what Susan says!!
I'll be putting pics up all week on Instagram as there are always loads of great projects going on :-)
I had the absolute pleasure of doing a Q & A for a new series she has started (scroll down) and it really made me think for the first time in a long time about what I am doing and why...
Kind of love that stuff I admit, it's fired me up!!
Also, Ashlynn emailed me recently asking if she could post one of my skirt tutorials to a wonderful new site she has created.
The Threadfull Truth is gathering and organizing lots of tutorials and techniques from a vast number of blogs for all levels of sewing... a kind of one stop shop if you will!
Its a huge amazing concept for sure, and will be a valuable resource. Love that's shes doing it!
So that's it, an early post....as I'm getting ready to head out..
Have a wonderful week everyone :-)