Necktie

In which we feel the power!

Vms necktie
yes, I fiddled with the tie all day. It’s a weird feeling to be wearing one! 

I drafted a necktie! There wasn’t much to it besides figuring out the right sizing for me. I used one of my hubby’s neckties as a guide. I measured both parts of the tie and his neck size. From there I was able to calculate how much extra length was needed beyond the neck size using percentages.

I just winged the construction, so I didn’t sew it together properly. I stitched the tip linings on first, turned them, then sewed the center back seam like I would a belt loop, turned the whole thing, then pressed.

Apparently, you’re supposed to slip-stitch the tie closed and sew the lining on in a certain way, so I will be doing that next time for a more professional finish.

Google did help me learn to tie this thing. I used a four-in-hand knot. It was easy!

I see many more ties in my future, each one a Power Tie.

 

Some tunic to love

In which I draft a tunic…

It’s been a long time since I loved a tunic. The last one I remember having was sky blue with 3/4 length sleeves held up by epaulets,  with pin-tucks and simple white embroidery on the front yoke. It had little straps to cinch the waist and a mandarin collar. I think it bought it at Burlington’s.

While that tunic is long gone, I still miss it. I tried other tunics but they weren’t the same. Too many of them have empire waists or weird, unnecessary details that turn me off.

So now that I have a custom sloper and a fitted shirt pattern, I decided to tackle making a tunic I can love again.

There were a few crucial elements this tunic needed to have:

  1. It must be blue.
  2. It must have 3/4 length sleeves with cuffs and an epaulet.
  3. It must cinch at the waist.

Thankfully I had already found my fabric – a light blue cotton with Jackson Pollock-esque white and silver splatter. It was begging me to become a tunic!

I made some sketches to get an idea of what I wanted and set to work.

The very first thing (every time) is making a copy! For this project, I intended to use my fitted shirt pattern as the base for the tunic pattern. I also gathered my DD Airelle and DD Arum patterns for reference, as they are pull-over tops. I measured the width of these 2 patterns to make sure my tunic could be pulled over my head, too.

Math is a beautiful thing. Minus the placket allowance and waist dart, the fitted shirt pattern was just the right size to fit over my head! Minimal adjustments necessary!

I decided to keep the bust darts for shaping but completely eliminated the front and back waist darts. I also removed the 1.5″ button placket allowance from the front.

Next was the neckline. I wanted clean-finished v-neckline (without a center front seam on the bodice). After some measuring, I marked a point on the shoulder seam and another on the center front line, connecting them with a ruler. I adjusted the back neckline on the shoulder seams to match. Using this new neckline, I traced facing pieces for the front and back, making them 1.5″ wide.

I attached the facings and understitched, meticulously clipping and layering the front “v” so it would turn out sharp and crisp. Then I hand tacked the facing to the shoulder seams to hold it in place.

For the sleeves, I used the same ones I drafted for the fitted shirt. I traced a facing for the sleeve cuff, hemmed one edge, and attached it so the cuff could be folded to the outside with its right side facing out.

I stitched the epaulet on by hand for the inside and attached it to the outside with a  9mm button. To finish, I slip stitched the cuff to the sleeve in a few strategic places.

That’s it….I love this new tunic. It turned out just as I wanted and I have already made a second one with a deeper neckline and short sleeves.

The Longest Journey (of a shirt)

In which I draft a fitted shirt from a sloper…

When I picked up sewing 3 years ago, the indie pattern companies glittered like a magical girl group, using their Hearts and the Power of Friendship to help me learn to sew. Supporting small businesses over corporations is important to me, but I took for granted how much work goes into a pattern and getting the right fit for a wide array of sizes.
(Click here to skip the intro)
I trusted the patterns I was buying were drafted well and made with care. But I kept running into issues that I attributed to my own naivete. As I gained more experience, and took more care with my projects, that notion bothered me.

Recently, I discovered my discontent wasn’t exclusive to me. Many others felt the same disillusionment, the same disappointment in the magical girl patterns as I did. The fit issues I’ve encountered weren’t due to my lack of skill (most of the time), they were due to problems in the blueprint.

I felt lost.

I know, there’s the Big 4, but I have a strong aversion to them from my botched Middle School attempts to make my own clothes. I really want to avoid using them. But who can I trust?

So I began the search for tutorials to make my own sloper. I landed on one from Madalynne, which was more visual than verbal, acting like a big geometry problem.

The tute was easy enough to follow, but my poor first round of measuring left me with a bad sloper. After another 2 tries, I had it right. I created a muslin complete with a zipper to test it out. I made a front, back, and sleeve sloper.

(I used another Madalynne tute to make the sleeves. I used a french curve ruler to make the initial curves but edited them by hand.)

The next step was taking that sloper and turning it into something. I really wanted a fitted shirt.

Converting the sloper to a shirt pattern was a bit tricky. I had no idea where to start.

****Warning: I’m no expert, I’m no drafter, the following could all be rubbish****

I knew I wanted to add a bust dart, so first I did a slash’n’spread to create the space for one. I rotated the side seam inward until it pointed toward the waistline. This also condensed the waist darts a bit.

To create the full diamond-shaped waist dart, I traced my existing dart, folded it in half at the middle, and traced again. Voila! A waist dart.

I ended up having to move the darts a few times to get the placement right on the front. For the back, I folded up the little shoulder dart before cutting my fabric and I doubled the back waist darts without changing their size or position.

Going through 4 muslins, I made the following adjustments:
-lengthened the front waist dart by 3″, further tapering the bottom point
-removed excess fabric between bust/armscye
-lowered the bust dart .5″
-added length to front armscye to match sleeve by adding curve and .25″ to side seam                   –reduced the sleeve cap height by .5″

Finally, I used a modified version of the Melilot’s collar pieces, placket allowance, and button placement for the deets.

Since then I’ve made 3 shirts from this pattern. Each has gotten progressively better, due in part to improving my technique for marking and sewing the darts.

I have begun marking the middle of the waist darts and the top/bottom edges of all the dart points with chalk. At about 1″ away from the dart point, I reduce my stitch length from 2.5mm to 1.4mm and begin to taper towards the marked end point. The goal is to have the last 4-5 stitches right on the fold of the fabric and still terminate at the marked end point. This has greatly improved the fit over the bust with no puckering at the dart tip.

I started this project around Thanksgiving and have only felt completely satisfied with the pattern now in February. It’s not perfect but I am so proud of myself. The shirt fits great and it looks like a shirt!

The really cool part, however, is I’ve used this pattern to make 3 other patterns already. They didn’t take nearly as long as the hard work of drafting and achieving the proper fit have been done. I’ll share those sometime, too!

Personal Style for the Anti-Trendy

In which we face a conundrum…

Personal style is a tricky thing, especially when you draw from non-fashion sources. Nearly every post I’ve read about determining one’s personal style recommends deferring to your favorite fashion icon. But what if your fashion icons are all fictional or fantasy characters?

Dear friends, that is my problem. Here’s a little inspo block:

And my inspo page for fall/ winter 2016:

See? Nary a real person. So how am I to translate the characters’ fantasy style into everyday garments?

I should note that you can apply your inspirations to fashion from just about anywhere – architecture, art, science, etc. (check out blueprints for sewing’s architecture-inspired patterns, for example).

Things like color and silhouette can easily be adopted into a wardrobe. For me it’s about subtlety. To the average person, I want my fictional references to go unnoticed.

The main point is how the garment makes me feel. And wearing certain clothes can make you feel differently. They embolden and empower, or make you feel lovely and calm. I like to use my wardrobe as a versatile set of status buffs (for non-gamers, “buffs” are akin to spells or potions that affect the user positively).

The theory is: If I feel confident, I will act confidently. If I feel powerful, I will act powerfully.

Take the fall winter inspo page- my choices were based on what “buffs” I anticipate needing in the near future. This year has been one of standing up for myself, so my inspo page was based on female strength and power.

One of my two chosen characters is Khaleesi. I love her outfits and her attitude. But I cant walk around in a loincloth dress like her, now can I? So instead, I’m making a long blue cardigan and kid gloves. Earlier this year, I made a test version (totally wearable, yay!) of the Safran pants in a very Khaleesi-esque fabric, reminiscent of her leggings. I can’t wait to wear the whole outfit.

{ Side note: My other character choice is Lao Ma, from the show Xena. I chose her for her famous philosophy (which the show borrowed from a real life philosopher, Tao Te Ching), “to conquer others is to have power, to conquer yourself is to know the way”. She’s got this ultra-serene presence but she’s a deadly fighter.}

You can also use color and color combinations to pay homage to a certain character. I have a green dress with a pink bow (DD Bleuet) ala Sailor Jupiter.

Pink & Green Thunder

My second pair of Safran pants are brown with blue top stitching – a color scheme I stole from Ash of the Evil Dead movies. (Side note: I wore those pants with a button up shirt to Thanksgiving and my husband said I looked like Westworld’s Delores – bonus!!)

Ash and Delores

Essentially, the key is to find the usable elements from your inspo, whatever they may be, and incorporate them as best you can, even if you’re the only person who recognizes your references. I feel like it adds a little secret touch to my clothes that make me feel true to myself and gives an extra boost.

The York Blouse that Isn’t

In which I make lemonade.

A while back, I became aware of a fabric called peachskin. Out of curiosity I bought a couple of yards online.

The lightweight fabric has a silky-suedy feel and wonderful drape. I decided to make a York top from Seamwork magazine.

As usual, everything went well until it didn’t. I sewed the bodice and sleeves. I did the sides and sleeves in a French seam but left the back seam pressed open and zigzagged.

Somewhere in cutting, I must have made the sleeves too small, despite having graded up a size from the armscye and above.

When I tried it on, I couldn’t move my arms one bit. Everything else was fine but, with the slightest movement, I was about to rip those sleeves like an angry she-hulk.

So I lopped the sleeves off at the seam. I made extra self bias tape and finished the armscyes with that. Next I finished the neckline complete with ties in the same bias tape and hemmed the bottom.

As it was now a tank top and Fall is here, I knew I would mostly be layering it with sweaters and the ties, while cute, gave me a lumpy back. I lopped those off too, replacing them with a hook and eye closure.
Viola! A new top that i love more than the original idea. Hooray for versatility!

Bleuet-Airelle-enstein

In which two blouses become one.

It’s ALIIIIIVE!!! Ahem – I mean, I finally got around to making a Bleuet blouse.

I bought this soft chambray at Loom Morningside to make a Zinnia skirt. After cutting the skirt, I had a tantalizing yard-ish of fabric left.

Sometimes I get an idea in my head and become obsessed with seeing if I can make it happen. I wanted a blouse from these scraps. Real bad.

I surveyed this scant yard with a steely gaze. Could I eek out a blouse from this? Fervently, I raided my patterns, laying out bodice pieces and sleeves to no avail but for one: the Bleuet.

Its princess seamed bodice pieces were skinny enough to finagle into fitting onto the scrap. I had barely enough for the sleeves and 1 of the 2 requisite collar pieces. I cut the underside collar from gray voile scraps but decided to leave out the collar stand.

It’s worth noting that I graded the pattern from a size 38 to a 42 from the armscye and up, to make room for my football player shoulders.

I breezed through the bodice construction and sewed up the gathered sleeves, French seams and all.

The sleeves were terrible. The gathers stood tall and high, like those of a starchy pilgrim on a Sunday afternoon . They had to go.

Bad nasty bad gathers
Bad nasty bad gathers

 

**seam ripping montage**

I don’t much like gathered sleeves to begin with and resolved to make regular sleeves from the salvaged pieces. This is where Aierelle came in.

I used the short version of the Aierelle sleeve to replace the Bleuet’s poofy ones. The new sleeve fit well over the curved parts of the armscye, but the ends need to be lengthened by about 1/4 inch each to fit properly.

Next I attached the collar to the neckline. It worked, but it really needs the collar stand. I used a French seam to attach it and top stitched under the collar to secure it. To create the placket, I folded the placket first to the wrong side, then to the right side and stitched across the top, making sure to cover the raw edge of the collar’s French seam.

Aah that’s better!

Buttons and hems and a monster is born. It’s a little bit wonky, I admit, but for a fevered experiment, it came out alright. I love wearing it and will definitely make another. However, I would make it longer and use the proper collar stand next time around.
Rippers up!