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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Shirt Dressing - Peaches and Cream (Progress, Pattern Work)

The peaches I've been enjoying this summer inspired me to name
my first version of the shirt dress pattern I began altering back in late July.
I interspersed work on my Midnight Skies black denim skirt and Bramble Blouse, with altering the McCalls  3623* shirt dress pattern to fit my figure. I plan to talk about what was involved in altering this pattern, in my September Enchanted by Sewing podcast.

M3623 in muslin (before I added the sleeves)
It took a bit of work to get there, but I'm quite happy with 
 the fit on me now.

At the beginning of this week, I began work on my first version of this dress. I like thinking of my first version of patterns I alter as a test garment. Test in the sense that I'll be observing what I like about the garment, and also what aspects I want to change. 

I'm making my test dress from a peach'y-pink linen type fabric. My dress's name came about from this color, and because I've been enjoying a lot of peaches this summer, though I admit that I haven't had any with cream. Non fat milk is more my style :-)  

I say 'linen type' because I don't know what the fabric content is. I got it free from a donation table at school over a year ago. I know that it's all natural fibers, because I did a burn test (in my kitchen sink). If it were all or part polyester,  the fabric would have melted. It burned, however, quite merrily. In fact you could make excellent fire starters from it! It could be 100% linen, but I'm suspicious that it's a linen-rayon mix, because I've bought and sewn those in the past, and the look and feel of the fabric reminds me of those. 

This weekend I've been working on the part of this project I like the least :-) Those including cutting and interfacing the front facings and collar, then attaching them to the front and topstitching with a decorative blanket stitch. I left the back off until I'd gotten those pieces applied and the embellishment done. I don't much like these structuring and finishing projects because they always take a lot longer than I expect! Also they don't seem to make the garment look much more like a real dress. In addition, it's the point in a project where I run into aspects of sewing that I don't know how to do as well as I'd like to. I try to make this an opportunity to learn more, but that's never easy.

This test dress helps me to realize that I want to read up and practice skills involving collar points. Once I added the front facings, and trimmed around the points on the seam lines, I thought my collar points would be nice and crisp, but even though I used a point turner, I'm not totally happy with the pointy-ness of those points! So that's one for the sewing book to work on before the next version of this dress. Are they OK for this go-round? Yes. I'll still wear and enjoy this dress. And I don't plan to point out to anyone who compliments me that the collar points could be sharper!

Here's the stage I'm at now. Not too exciting!
I haven't added the sleeves yet, and I'm halfway through the french seam that attaches the back to the back of the yoke.
The collar is attached on one side and needs to be pinned  down on the inside,
to make a clean finish.
What's left?
- Finish fixing the back pleat, boy am I ever having a hard time getting it to be centered and lay right! I've taken it out 3 times already (I thought I had it right and made the first seam in the french seam process, then realized it's not centered - grr!) Auntie Seama Rippah has been busy.

- Go back and finish that french seam on the back. That involves being busy with iron and steam as well as sewing.

- Add the sleeves using french seams as well

- Sew the side seams. I think I'll use a pink-and-sew seam finish there because I need to do a lot of clipping on the underarm part to get a nice curved line (I tested that on the muslin) and it seems like french seams would be too thick to get that.

- Pin and hand sew the inside bottom collar seam, so it covers various seams nicely

- Buttons and buttonholes! Draw my buttonholes on a piece of stabilizer and pin it down to make sure they end up in the right places. That method works well for me. I do much better at getting the buttonholes to line up straight.

Do a couple of sample buttonholes to test my skills and make sure I've got the size right for the buttons I plan to use - recycled mother-of-pearl. The pattern says use 11 buttons, but I'm suspicious I'll use less. I'm safe though, I have enough.

Cut buttonholes and sew on buttons

- Check to see if I need to make thread belt loops to be sure the belt placing is consistent. Does the dress fit and hang differently if I move the belt around? I'll use some safety pins to test out where I want the lower part of the waistline and belt.

- Pin and press hem. Check for levelness in the mirror carefully with the wide black elastic belt I'll be using with the dress. 

- Sew the hem. Hand or machine? Probably machine, since the thread more or less matches the dress and there's decorative stitching on it already. I might baste down the hem first and double check the whole level hem thing before I do the official stitching.

Planning and executing my Peaches and Cream shirtdress from scratch, based on carefully thought through pattern alterations is the kind of project that keeps me,
Enchanted by Sewing!

* Though out of print, M3623 is available from several vendors on the web. Shirt dresses are such a classic, modern pattern style, they always seem to be available from the big four pattern companies
~ ~ ~
Web Resources

M3623 Shirt dress Pattern Alteration, Inspired by Amy Adams http://www.meencantacoser.blogspot.com/2014/08/inspired-by-amy-adams-creating-perfect.html

Avoiding Auntie Seama Rippah http://www.meencantacoser.blogspot.com/2012/11/avoiding-auntie-seama-rippah-for.html

What's a blanket stitch? http://handembroidery.ning.com/page/blanket-stitch

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Terminado - The Bramble Blouse - Another Semi-Fitted Sleeveless Summer Blouse

You don't hear the term brambles used to refer to berries much these days.
I think it dates more from times when lots of berries grew naturally
in woods and fields, and folks just went out to pick their own, come summer time.
Nowadays most of us find our berries in a box or frozen bag.
The birds and squirrels score most of the ones I have in my yard.
Oh well, they can't run to the grocery store like I can! I don't really mind.
And it saves me a bit o' trouble in those prickly bramble bushes.
Hey! Do you remember the podcast I did in July, where I talked about creating my sleeveless, pink and white seersucker blouse Amaryllis blouse from my much altered tried-and-true shirt pattern (it started out life as B5586)? Well I enjoyed wearing Amaryllis so much (that gal has been a real go-to summer wardrobe choice) that I made another blouse from my same much altered pattern.

And doesn't it look pretty durn cute with my sage'y green shorts from two summers ago? I think so! I've also been wearing it with my new Midnight Sky black denim skirt, but I don't have a really cute photo of that combination yet :-)

Oh yeah, I altered the pattern a little more!  I just can't get enough of altering now - no pattern is safe from my fideling fingers.   Blame my wonderful dress form buddy Conchita for that! Because this crisp bramble printed cotton doesn't hang off a woman's body in the same way as the loosey-goosey seersucker I used for Amaryllis, I made a few changes to my Bramble Blouse as I was creating her. . . 

i) I took the long front darts I'd created from the hem, up the princess line, to the bust apex, and extended them up above the bust apex
ii) I also took those darts in more - so my Bramble Blouse is all together narrower than Amaryllis.  
iii) In addition I added long darts along the back princess seam

My dress form Conchita was really useful
when it came to making the
Bramble Blouse more fitted
These alterations resulted in a semi-fitted blouse that's just a little more fitted. 
OK, I admit it. I used good old
safety pins to try out that extended dart.
Because just after I tried this out on
Conchita, I slipped it on
me and checked out that new dart in the bathroom mirror.

Amaryllis is somewhat fitted,
but less so than my Bramble Blouse
That works because she's made out of a non-crisp seersucker

~ ~ ~
Web Resources

Audio/Podcast Summer of the Blouse - Amaryllis http://meencantacoser.blogspot.com/2014/07/ench-by-sew-022-summer-of-blouse.html

Blog Posting about Amaryllis http://meencantacoser.blogspot.com/2014/07/amaryllis-my-new-semi-fitted-blouse.html

Wardrobe Builder - The Midnight Sky Black Denim Skirt http://meencantacoser.blogspot.com/2014/08/terminado-wardrobe-builder-midnight-sky.html

Creating Conchita, my Dress Form Friend  http://enchantedbysewing.blogspot.com/2013/09/ench-by-sew-12-dress-forms.html

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Ench By Sew-023: Capping off Summer, The Tapestry Cap (Technicos/Techniques)

My latest cap creation is a faux-tapestry print
The latest Enchanted by Sewing Podcast has been published!

~ OR ~
Listening Option II)  Click on this link to iTunes  to download this and other Enchanted by Sewing shows to your mobile device (iPhone, Android, etc.) free from iTunes 

Did I miss any links mentioned in the show? If so, please post those links below and share them with everybody
Email- EnchantedBySewing@gmail.com
~ ~ ~

This show is created, produced and brought to you by me! - Laurel Shimer. THE Enchanted by Sewing PODCAST IS, An  EXTENSION OF my regular sewing blog - Me Encanta Coser, which,  roughly translated means, Enchanted By Sewing

My blog is written in English. The name celebrates the historical and modern use of the beautiful Spanish Language in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, where I live
* * *

I've gotten lots of use out of this sage green cap (and another blue one) that
I first made two years ago. Both caps match shorts, which I wear together.
I also wear the caps on their own with other things in my wardrobe.
Every one of my daily walks, includes a cap.

I’ve worked on a couple of different sewing projects in August. Of the four I’ve worked on I’ve finished three - a wardrobe building elastic waist black denim skirt (like the blue one I finished in June and have been wearing so much), another semi-fitted sleeveless cotton blouse (like Amaryllis the subject of last months 'cast - I haven't post about this yet, but plan to soon) and a tapestry cap.

That cap is especially important to me. As you might have noticed in previous shows I am kind of a preacher when it comes to protecting our skin from the elements. I listened back to my shows from the last couple of months, and it seemed like I went into great detail in both ones about wearing my sun screen and a cap whenever I head out the door, whether for a walk or even a ride in the car.

I figured if it was so important to me, it was time to do an episode about the kind of skin protecting garment I’ve made a few times now, sharing the techniques and some of my inspiration.
1)         Pensamientos Primeros/First Thoughts
Why do I need to make my own caps and hats?

Wayne Wichern's Millinery is in the San Francisco Bay Area. I took my first millinery class at Cañada College, from Wayne. He has a lovely private studio where he conducts further workshops and open lab. He's a wonderful man and teacher .http://meencantacoser.blogspot.com/2013/09/matters-millinery-making-my-own-hats.html

 2) Technicos/Techniques  
 How I create caps, based on the "Good Hat Day Hat (cap)" in the first One Yard Wonders Book.

3)         Pensamientos Finales/Final Thoughts

The Louisa Mae Alcott book I referred to in the cast was An Old Fashioned Girl. You know you can download books in the public domain (that volunteer readers have recorded) for free from Librivox, right? 

Blue Skies Hat Sewing, Ideas for future hats and caps I hope and plan to make

I've got plans to take Wayne's 3 day workshops. Wayne Wichern's Millinery is in the San Francisco Bay Area. I took my first millinery class from Wayne. He also has a studio for more intense workshops and open labs. He's a wonderful man and teacher - http://meencantacoser.blogspot.com/2013/09/matters-millinery-making-my-own-hats.html

There's a pretty cloche-esque hat pattern in this magazine, which has a lot of other fun stuff as well.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Terminado! Wardrobe Builder: Midnight Sky Black Denim Skirt

Nothing improves my wardrobe so much
as another good basic denim skirt
In my July Enchanted by Sewing Podcast, I mentioned several garments I was considering sewing next. I got that cap done (in fact technical details for the cap will be featured in this month's podcast) and also recently finished this great basic black denim skirt. I finished it early this week and have worn it three days since then. I like it for walking (it looks cute with blue or black tennis shoes:-), running errands (with my red or sage green sandals), and working at home. 

I didn't used to wear skirts much in my mostly casual life, but since I made my Summer Skies blue denim skirt with this same simple elastic waist, size vented pattern in June, I've found myself reaching for it all the time. I don't know if it's the low-key nature of the denim or whether I'm simply changing my personal style to include more skirt wearing.

Simple lines and styles, like this skirtare starting to appeal to me more than they have in the past. I think that's because I'm more in control of the pattern work now, focusing on what flatters my figure and how I want fabric to hang in a garment. I draped this straightforward skirt pattern myself. 

While I worked on this skirt I was also working on two other sewing projects.
1) Altering a shirt dress pattern (I've been using my dress form,  draping skills, and a length of muslin to create a flattering fit)
2) Another simple cotton print sleeveless summer blouse - close to being done! For that I've been working on making more changes to the pattern I used, for the semi-fitted sleeveless blouse pattern I developed* last month, and created in pink and white striped seersucker. I called that blouse "Amaryllis" and  talked about  it in the July Enchanted by Sewing Podcast. I'm still trying to decide on a name for this new blouse. It's got a print of berries on a text background, so It's the Berries, seems like an obvious name. But it doesn't really grab me. 

Working from patterns I'm really familiar with and continue to alter over time to suit my needs, figure, and personal style 
is the kind of thing that keeps me . . .
Enchanted by Sewing
~ ~ ~
Web Resources

Enchanted by Sewing Podcast Show Notes: http://EnchantedbySewing.blogspot.com

Inspired by Amy Adams: Creating the Perfect Shirt Dress for Me http://www.meencantacoser.blogspot.com/2014/08/inspired-by-amy-adams-creating-perfect.html

Terminado! Amaryllis Blouse: http://www.meencantacoser.blogspot.com/2014/07/amaryllis-my-new-semi-fitted-blouse.html

Termininado - Sewing a Simple Denim Skirt (My Summer Skies Blue Denim Skirt) http://www.meencantacoser.blogspot.com/2014/06/terminado-sewing-simple-denim-skirt-is.html

* I didn't drape that sleeveless blouse pattern from scratch. It started out as a commercial shirt pattern and has undergone many transformations since.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Channeling Vionnet - Draping Inspiration

The Neo-Classic Look
 Ancient Greek styles inspired Vionnet to turned a design corner in western women's fashion
Some of my favorite Vionnet
creations are her petal dresses
Madeline Vionnet was a dressmaker in the great and traditional sense. Her job integrated an understanding of cloth, body, gravity and artistic sensibility. 

She had a natural hands on feeling for fit - an understanding between a piece of cloth and a woman's body.

She developed new ways of  working with gravity and the release of her cloth, to find the perfect hang of a garment.

She created beauty from cloth and form by draping, not from a sketch.

I know I'm residing in a corner of her atelier every time I setup Conchita, my dress form, and prepare my muslin.

Traveling back through time, to be inspired by Madame Vionnet is just one more thing that keeps me . . .
Enchanted by Sewing

A little tissue and inspiration from my Betty Kirke Vionnnet book
helps me to imagine creating the perfect petal dress.
It looks like Holly the Dolly is more suited to
rounded petals in the Petal Dress tissue pattern
I created for her.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Inspired by Amy Adams - Creating the Perfect Shirt Dress For Me

Amy's modeling a shirt dress made up in  a paisley silk twill.
 I'm thinking of a nice rayon challis.

I'll also be using a waistline that suits my figure type.
No matter what fabric I make it up in, I'm pretty sure I'm going to need to find a nice grassy bank to pose on, when I get  my next shirt dress done!
Though I'm making plain sewing progress on the simple black denim skirt I talked about in my most recent Enchanted by Sewing audio podcast episode, I have been distracted by the idea of either draping or altering a pattern to create the perfect shirt dress pattern. That garment has been running around in my head since I took my draping class last year. At that time I was working towards creating a shirt dress, but didn't feel quite ready to create all the classic features of that type of dress. I did create a pattern I used for a really pretty linen dress with a front polka dot zipper that I like a lot, but with simpler details.
Amy's dress is more along the lines of the
full-skirted versions. I'm working on one of the
no-sewn/included waistline, to be worn with a wide
self-fabric belt that covers a 3" elastic.
Since I finished creating and producing last month's audio podcast, I'd been working on my skirt and also the muslin, and necessary pattern alterations to an out-of-print McCalls 3623 shirt dress (there are plenty of shirt dresses in current pattern catalog, and unused versions of this pattern are still available through many vendors on the web). Then I opened the Vogue August 2014 issue, turned to the article on redheads (photographed by the great Fran Leibovitz - can that woman take a bad photo?) and found Amy Adams wearing the quintessential paisley, silk twill shirt dress. 

Amy and I don't have the same figure types. She is more of an hour glass type and I'm a rectangle. So though I'm distracted by the idea of her full skirt with gathers, I'm still at work on my straight up and down shirt dress, complemented by a 3" wide elastic based belt.

I'll be creating a first test version of this dress in a pretty piece of rosy-peach linen-look material I picked up from the freebie counter at school. I've been using a black 3" wide elastic belt I already own over my muslin,  to test out the waist and hip style lines that belt will create. Wearing my peaches and cream dress (Of course I've already named it!) will help me make decisions about any changes I might want to make to the pattern, before I use it again.  I've been planning to create a version of this dress in a beautiful length of silk noil/raw silk that it's my fabric inventory. Now I've got plans for a rayon challis as well, inspired by seeing Amy in this dress.

Doesn't finding this article seem like a sign from beyond, that I really needed a well-fitting shirt dress pattern?

Being able to follow through on inspiration like this is one of many things that keeps me...
Enchanted by Sewing!
~ ~ ~
Web Resources

In my Enchanted by Sewing audio podcasts, I talk about wardrobe additions I've sewn and how I've sewn them, as well as garments I'm inspired to sew.

Amy Adams wearing a beautiful and sewing-inspirational silk twill shirt dress in Vogue's August issue for this year http://www.fabzz.com/amy-adams-annie-leibovitz-photoshoot-for-vogue-august-2014.html

Saturday, August 2, 2014

What's a Shirt? What's a Blouse?

* The sixties clothing revolution (mid sixties on) took us from blouses to shirts. In the forties-fifties-early-sixties women's separates usually included a blouse. For blouses check out the Donna Reed Show, Petticoat Junction, Perry Mason and, of course, retro patterns. Look on the Dick Van Dyke show for Rosemarie wearing shirts over pencil skirts and looking the very modern professional woman. Shirts traditionally marked women who were moving into higher profession positions, starting during the New Woman era of the late 1800's

This traditional fitted blouse takes nicely to
embellishment. It's from a Miss Marple movie set in the 1950's 
This traditional women's shirt is sold by L.L. Bean
* A shirt tends to be somewhat loose, with style lines that hint at a woman's figure. Traditional fabrics are loose weaves. I think of materials like... oxford cloth, linen, cottons with body, somewhat stiff silk, silk noil/raw silk. Most shirts aren't big on embellishment, unless it's pretty simple like a bit of embroidery on a pocket or the point of a collar.

Another traditional fitted blouse from the same Miss Marple
movie. Blouses were typically worn tucked in, but
this blouse has a band at the waist so it could be worn
loose just over the skirt's waistband to flatter the actresses
very traditionally woman's figure.
* A blouse is more fitted. It's often somewhat delicate when it comes to fabric I think of materials like...  handkerchief linen, fluid cottons and silks like crepe de chine, sheer fabrics like silk organza. I think a blouse really takes to being embellished just about anywhere!

Petticoat Junction: Bobbie Joe's pink blouse takes well to
ruffled embellishment. The Doctor (center front) is also wearing a
blouse. Ruffles make a garment a blouse in my book.

This Silk Georgette blouse 
is nicely embellished in a very traditional blouse
fashion. It also has lot's of darts to make
it very fitted. It would tuck in well.

* What's a shirt? 
For me...
- yoke back-over-front
- no darts
- opens up well over a tank top - shirt jacket style
- minimal carefully thought out embellishment, often a pocket motif or very minimal trim - like a bias trim along the inner neckline or in the cuff area
- wide variety of buttons, can be fairly big and arty or non-standard or smaller, more delicate blouses crossover into the zone between shirt and blouse

For me this garment says 'blouse' because
it's buttoned all the way up, and has a Peter Pan collar.   Though the tucks
give it fullness in the torso, they are a constrained type of
fullness, not loose and floating away from the women's figure.
Another photo from a Miss Marple movie.
* What's a blouse? For me
  - more fitted than a shirt
  - darts to flatter my form
  - it tucks into a waistband
 - if anything underneath it's a thin camisole to mask undergarments, perhaps only open at the neckline to show a line of lace at the top of that camisole
- a blouse takes to embellishment ruffles, lace, ribbon on cuffs, collar, up the front around the buttons(see examples below)
- delicate buttons like a pearl bead, small mother-of-pearl, speciality like little fruits or flowers - especially where they contrast or complement the fabric

* Accessories that add to a blouse
 - pearls
 - a thin dangling necklace - For me that might be a cameo on a chain
 - colored purse, belt and shoes (especially if they are all the same color) give a traditional feel

* How do I accessorize a shirt?
 - a scarf often looks better with a shirt than a blouse
 - less delicate jewelry