Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Double Sided Wool Jacket

Happy Thanksgiving Eve, to those of you who celebrate the U.S. holiday.

I am as happy as a pig in slop to be at the beginning of a 5-day vacation! Not to mention that DD2 returned last night from university in Minnesota. As soon as she got off the plane, she was waxing about the joys of feeling warm air all around your body. I don't think of San Francisco as being "warm" much of the time, but it just goes to show how it's all relative. Though I think you can see that she is not unhappy with her new Joan of Arctic boots from Sorel.

Back in Minnesota... (where it's been snowing already)

If you follow the Britex blog, you'll see that I've completed another project, my last one for 2014. This time, I started with a 100% wool from the Mid/Light Weight category:

Midweight Reversible Navy & Teal Wool

In the description, they call this a "midweight reversible wool", but I would characterize it as more lightweight. I love reversible fabrics, and I love navy and teal—I've been sewing more with these colors lately—so I jumped on this fabric almost immediately.

Some of my pics show the teal side as more of a blue teal, but it is more of a green teal, as shown in the photo on the Britex site.

This is one gorgeous fabric. I machine washed and dried a sample: It did not change character or hand. It might have shrunk a bit—I didn't think to check. The sample did fray beautifully, which surprised me, as the fabric was not particularly ravel-y to begin with. But I made sure that I serged the edges of the yardage before subjecting it to the washer and dryer, as I was not going for a frayed-edge look this time.

I found this fabric very easy to sew and wanted to make use of the fact that it was reversible. There is no pattern available for this jacket, as I used a pattern, borrowed from a friend, that was traced off of an actual Issey Miyake Plantation jacket from the early 1990s.

Single welt pockets. The sleeves fold back to reveal the teal.

I love Issey Miyake designs, but they don't always love me. The original jacket was rather boxy, long, with dropped sleeves, and no internal seaming, other than the shoulders. (In other words, the original jacket had the loose fit with dropped sleeves typical of that time.) It features a "fold back", soft lapel—finished with mitered edges—that is sewn into the shoulder seam. This fold-back lapel is my favorite feature of the design.

I made lots of changes to the original pattern. I added center back and side seams, and introduced some shaping in those seams. I reshaped the armscye and swapped in another sleeve that has a more traditional sleeve cap. This turned out to be tricky, as I muslined the sleeve at least 5 times and I think it could use more tinkering.

I reshaped the hem—it's shorter in back, but dips to the original length in front. I re-shaped the front lapel, narrowing it so that I could raise the armscye—I also changed the angle of the lapel so that it "broke" (turned back) in a more flattering (lower down) location, creating a more vertical line.

The side seams, CB seam, and sleeve seams are flat felled

Don't you just love flat felling the seam on a one-piece sleeve?

Yes, that was sarcasm. ;)

I swapped out the welt pockets for my own welt pocket, as I no longer had the room to accommodate the original vertical, two-lipped, welt pocket with a large, very Miyake, pocket bag.

So, yes, this one required a lot of changes!


This was a fun (and challenging) exercise! I do think I will use this lapel again, but I might just transfer it onto another TnT (tried 'n true) pattern. And I highly recommend this beautiful fabric!

Thanks to Britex for providing the fabric and thread!

And thanks to mem for taking these pics!

Monday, November 17, 2014

In Search of a Miyake - Vogue 2126

Edited on 11/18/2014:

Thanks so much to Rhonda Buss! She has been able to help Anne Marie out!

I agree that it would be fabulous if Vogue would re-issue these classic Miyake patterns from the 80s, but I don't think that will ever happen. For one thing, they would have to renegotiate the contract with those who are running the current Miyake design house and I think that it is just not feasible, more's the pity. It's really great when people can work out a sharing situation. Thanks again, Rhonda!

A sewing pal, Anne Marie of le mani d'oro, is in search of an out-of-print Issey Miyake pattern (from 1998) to sew a dress for a very special event.

She is happy to buy, or rent, this pattern (in an XS-S-M) for a reasonable price.

If you can help, please contact her through her blog post.

I was busy sewing this weekend, but have nothing to show you quite yet.

Have a great week!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Tech Tip: Resizing Images

One thing that can drive me a bit batty is loading a page with a lot of images and those images draw very slowly. Watch the images slowly render... cachunka, cachunka, cachunka.


Especially because all of that extra resolution is completely wasted.

So I thought I'd offer some tips on how to resize your images to make them more online friendly. Please let me know if this post is of interest to you, as I have ideas for other posts of this type.


Generally, slow image rendering happens when a picture is saved at a much higher resolution than is needed. You can greatly improve the performance of loading a page if you reduce the size of your images so that they are closer to the resolution that you need, and not a lot more.

(Note that this info is also useful for emailing images. It's much better to size an image down so that it fits into a mail window, rather than sending a huge picture that is impossible to see without opening it into another app.)

There are two ways to change the size of an image. You can:

  • Reduce the default resolution in your camera—This means that the pictures that your camera takes will have a smaller file size. More of them will fit onto your camera memory card, and they will will upload faster to your computer.
  • Reduce the resolution in post production—after you have uploaded your images to your computer.

I don't use the first option. I want my photos at the highest resolution. For example, if Vogue Patterns ever comes calling and wants to feature you in their Star Blogger column, you need print resolution, which is much higher resolution than is required for online images. For this reason, before I alter an image, I make a copy of it. I never alter the original image, in case I need it later at the highest resolution.

My camera is a Canon Digital Rebel Ti3, which takes images at very high resolution. My computer is a Macbook Pro, so I will explain how to modify the resolution of your images using a tool available, for free, on any Mac. (But I include a link to info for those of you who are using Windows.)

The following screenshot shows the info for the original image of my Fly London shoes. You can see this info if you select the image in the Finder and then select File > Get Info (command-I).

As you can see, the original image, at 72 DPI (screen resolution is 72 DPI), is SEVEN-POINT-SEVEN MEGABYTES and it is 5184 pixels by 3186 pixels. That is a big file. Imagine a page full of 7.7 MB images. It's very slow for the browser to load all of those huge images and all of that extra resolution is completely wasted. You don't need it. Most laptops, for example, are somewhere around 2000 pixels across by 1200 pixels high. So an image that is over 5000 pixels across is serious overkill.

So, how do you decrease the resolution and what resolution do you decrease it to?

Resizing Images

On the Mac, you can change the resolution of an image using Preview. (Here are instructions using Paint for Windows.)

  1. Open a copy of the image in Preview, which is an app included on every Mac.
  2. Select Tools > Adjust Size... This brings up a window:
  3. To the right of the Width and Height text fields, select Pixels. (I prefer to work in pixels, rather than percentages, where you are guessing about the number of pixels.)
  4. Make sure that Scale proportionally and Resample image are both checked. "Scale proportionally" means that you only have to enter one dimension, such as the width, and it will alter the height to maintain the same aspect ratio. "Resample image" means that you want the file to be modified. If you don't check this it will not actually make the file any smaller, but will only alter the header information.
  5. Enter the desired pixel width in the Width field. I usually change the width to 400 pixels. The maximum image width that Blogger likes is 400 pixels, at least for the template that I use. Any wider and the image (at full size) starts to creep into the sidebar.
  6. To see what this image will look like at its maximum size, select View > Actual Size (command-0). Is the image still too big? You can resize it further. View > Zoom to Fit (command-9) will fit the image into the Preview window.
  7. Save the file and exit Preview.

For comparison, examine the modified image using Get Info:

As you can see, the modified image is 98 KB, which is, approximately, ONE TENTH of a megabyte, or .098 MB. This is SEVENTY EIGHT TIMES smaller than the original image. It will render much more quickly.

Drawing an image at different sizes

Now, let's say that you want to draw your image at a specific size without making the image smaller. For example, I save copies of my images at 400 pixels wide, but I might want to post them on another website at an even smaller size. Maybe I want to display an image at 200 pixels, or 288 pixels. You can make a copy of the image and re-size it, as I describe above, but I typically don't. In this situation, you can just display an image at a smaller size without modifying the actual pixels. (Drawing a 400 pixel image at 200 pixels is not going to greatly impact performance of the browser, unless there are a lot of them.)

Most photo sites, such as Picasa, let you select a pixel size for displaying an image.

When you select one of these sizes, Picasa is not actually changing the size of the image file. It is providing you with a snippet of HTML code that tells the browser at what size it should display the image. Here is a sample of HTML code for displaying an image:

<img src="" height="267" width="400" />

Let me break this down a bit.

To display an image in HTML (which is the language of the web), you specify the following:

<img src="location of the file on the web" />

That's the bare minimum you need for displaying a picture. For example, say you want to display an image from the BMV website. You can go to the BMV website, and find a page that contains the picture you want to display. For example, go this page, right click over the image on the page, and select Copy image location. The location of that picture is now in your copy/paste buffer.

You can replace the "location of the file on the web" text, so that the HTML snippet looks like this:

<img src="" />

When you paste this snippet of HTML into the browser page that you are editing and update it, you will see this:

But this HTML displays the image at its maximum size. To display an image at a smaller size, you can add width and/or height attributes, like this:

<img src="location of the file on the web" width="number of pixels" height="number of pixels" />

(You can specify the dimensions in pixels or as percentages, but I'm using pixels here.)

So, if I add the following to the HTML snippet:

<img src="" width="100" />

I only specified the width (of 100 pixels), because a browser is smart enough to calculate a height that will maintain the same aspect ratio. The image will now display like this:

Maybe I want to try it at 288 pixels wide:

<img src="" width="288" />

Which looks like:

You can display an image at any size that you want, so long as it's the same size or smaller than the actual image. Trying to display an image at a larger size than the actual image will only result in a blurry mess. The browser can't add pixels that aren't there.

I hope this isn't as clear as mud. :)

I am spending the weekend on detail work: making pockets, and hand sewing. I'm a happy camper, and maybe I'll have something to show next week.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Funkalicious Skirt - Vogue 9060

Happy November, everyone!

We are really into autumn now, for the most part. I love the crisp weather, and we even had some much needed rain on Halloween, but I could use a tad less blinding sunshine. It makes taking photos more difficult, and it keeps my office, with its south-eastern exposure, much too warm.

The Sun! It burns!
(But look at that cool textured ponte!)

I worked only half a day on Halloween and I felt that some quick sewing was in order with my remaining free time. I decided to whip up Marcy Tilton's new skirt, Vogue 9060, using a textured black ponte with a lovely drape.

I finished the skirt by bedtime. This is a very quick sew!

This skirt features a contrasting yoke in two widths—both are sewn in a double layer. I chose the narrow width, and I used a remnant of black rayon lycra jersey for the yoke. It is a very stretchy fabric. I made the skirt in a size medium and made zero changes to it. A medium (size 10-12) is designed for a 25" to 26-1/2" waist. My waist is considerably larger at 38", but I decided to make use of the negative ease, so I cut the medium.

Oops, I forgot to take off my badge!

This becomes important later.

The skirt does not call for any elastic and, because my waist is so much larger than what the pattern specifies, I made it without elastic.

I tried it on and it felt great. Snug but not uncomfortably so.

I wore it to work today so that mem could take some photos. (There was far too much harsh sunshine at my house this weekend.)

ALL day this skirt has been sliding down. More than once, I have almost flashed my colleagues at work.

I plan to add elastic before I wear this skirt again. I noticed that Marcy also added elastic when she made this up.

But this is a slight quibble with an otherwise excellent pattern, because I love this skirt!


P.S. Note that I am 5'5". This skirt does not contain lines showing where you can shorten/lengthen. I'm sure it can be done in a non-linear way, but I didn't try to puzzle it out. You can make the version with the wider waistband for more length, unless you want to wear the waistband folded over. But adding length to the top of the skirt might be the easiest thing to do.

For the last several weeks I've been working on a (non-sewing-related) project in my home. This is contributing to my reduced sewing output, but I am making slow progress on my cape. It didn't help that I added features to the cape that take longer, but I hope to have it done in another week or two!

Thanks, mem!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Thursday Miscellany

Pic from here


Star Blogger

I've heard from a number of folks who have received their Dec 2014/Jan 2015 issue of Vogue Pattern Magazine (VPM).

Yes, I was thrilled when I learned I was going to be featured in the Star Blogger column!

If you subscribe, the Star Blogger feature is on pages 12 and 13.

I was very touched by the piece that Kathy Marrone, the editor in chief, wrote about me.

If you don't subscribe, you might want to. This issue includes an article by Marcy Tilton on the perfect patch pocket, another on fabric-related shopping in Portland (I'm hoping to take a trip there next Spring), a profile on the Curvy Sewing Collective (written by Carolyn Norman!), and an article on irons and ironing boards.

I want to thank my photographer: Mary "mem" Campione! I still sometimes take my own photos in the alley behind my house using my tripod and remote, but the more fun and interesting photos at work are taken by mem. We usually do our little photo shoots on Monday mornings—we both get to work early. mem has a great eye and makes the process a lot of fun. For this feature, she took the photos of the grommet coat and those taken in the giant Adirondack chair.

Photo by mem

You can also buy a single issue of VPM, either on the newsstand, or a digital version for an iPad or other tablet device through the App store.

(And welcome to the new readers who found me through VPM!)

Check Out This Blog: Domestic Deb

I am always on the lookout for new blogs that excite me, and I was definitely excited to find Domestic Deb and, in particular, her fabulous version of Katherine Tilton's jacket!

Check it out!

Thread Cult

Be honest with me, have I been hiding under a rock?

When I read back through every post on Domestic Deb's site (it's a pretty new blog, so it wasn't hard to do), I learned about the Thread Cult. This site has interviews of all sorts of interesting sewing luminaries, such as Claire Shaeffer, Susan Khalje, and Natalie Chanin. (Seriously, what rock was I under to have missed this?!)

You can also subscribe to Thread Cult in iTunes and listen on your phone or tablet.

Grim Ripper

I no longer quilt, but I just loved this little wall hanging of the Grim Ripper!!! It's a free download on the Fons and Porter website. (And I just might make an exception, as this would be so cute on the wall of my sewing room.)

Monday, October 27, 2014

New Closet Workhorse - Black Textured Burda Vest


Fabric Detective

This is a project that was entirely motivated by a unique piece of fabric.

I received 1.5 yards of this novelty fabric from Marcy Tilton—it was all she had left, but it was 60" wide, so I immediately started thinking about how I could make the most of a smallish, but fabulous, piece.

While this fabric might look like a conventional black fabric in some of the pics, it is a very interesting textile. At a casual glance, I thought it was two fabrics that had been fused together. One layer was furry and the other layer was a lightweight satin fabric with a slight sheen. The furry piece has oval-shaped "holes" where you can see through to the satin side, and there is zigzag stitching around each oval—presumably to keep the two layers together. The furry side is intended to be the "right" side, but I loved the other side even more.

The "right" (furry) side on the left, the "wrong" (textured) side on the right. There was a lot of afternoon light when I took this pic, which is why there is so much reflection.

As I thought about it further, I realized that my assumption had to be wrong. What had created that highly textured surface on the wrong side? Using some scissors and a seam ripper, I deconstructed a small piece of the fabric.

And it turns out that my first assumption was wrong! The base layer of fabric is a lightweight poly satin fabric, and loosely plied yarn is set into the base fabric to form the fur! There is a machine zig-zag around each oval, probably to help anchor the "fur" in place and, I believe, the right side of the fabric was brushed to make the fur more... furry... and to hide the individual yarns. (As a result, the fabric does have a nap.)

  • Left: The "wrong" side of the fabric, showing the holes in the base fabric after the "fur" has been removed from the upper left corner
  • Right: The "right" side of the same piece of fabric


The Challenge

I gave myself the following challenge:

  • Make the best use of the limited yardage, mixing it with other fabrics if needed.
  • Feature both sides of the novelty fabric, though predominantly use the back side, which is my favorite side.
  • For comfort, incorporate some stretch into the garment (the novelty fabric has no stretch).
  • Make something that I wear get loads of wear out of.
Wearing my favorite purchased jacket as it begins to snow in Santa Fe


My favorite garment that I ever purchased is a black wool jacket. This piece (which I bought at a huge discount) uses a novelty fabric that features strips of fringed wool. I wear this jacket all of the time—it's rare for a week to pass without me wearing it at least once, and often more than once. One of these days I will trace off this pattern (which has interesting seamlines) but, until then, I mulled over which aspects of the jacket appeal to me. These features include: the stand-up collar, the length, the presence of pockets, the front 2-way zipper, the color (black goes with almost everything) and, of course, the texture of the fabric.

I am crazy for the texture.

I decided to make something which had many of the same features, to maximize its usefulness in my wardrobe. Because I had a limited amount of fabric, I planned to also include a second fabric, also in black, as I didn't want high contrast. After much dithering (I was trying to decide between a black crepe double-knit and a black stretch taffeta), I decided to go with the taffeta, because the slight sheen of the taffeta echoed the sheen of the satin in the novelty textile. And what about sleeves? Rather than use the contrasting stretch taffeta for the sleeves, I decided to make a vest.


My next decision was which pattern to use.

One day, while working in the SF office, I made a lunchtime visit to Nordstroms in Union Square. I tried on outerwear garments in the Eileen Fisher department, including a vest similar to the one I ended up making. It had: princess seams front and back, and the front featured an off-bust princess seam (meaning there is a dart from the princess seam to the bust point), a zip front, and the stand-up collar that I love. I was inspired to look for a similar pattern, but such a pattern was nowhere to be found in Vogue or Burda envelope patterns. I then found a special Burda issue from Fall/Winter 2013 that had the exact silhouette I was looking for. Unfortunately, the design only went up to a size 44; meaning that I had to trace it off, grade it up, and increase the FBA.

Burda Classics Fall/Winter 2013

I used jacket 0011 to make my vest

This was enough altering to warrant a muslin, but it was worth the effort.

I will add that, as I was later searching Ebay and Etsy, I found the exact same Burda offered as an envelope pattern. It's OOP, but well worth tracking down.

Burda 7582

Cutting it Out

I cut the novelty fabric out carefully, in a single thickness. I cut out the pattern pieces as follows:

  • The center front and center back were cut from the BACK (textured side) of the novelty fabric.
  • The collar and front facings were cut from the FRONT (furry side) of the novelty fabric, so that you see the furry side when I wear the collar folded back.
  • The side fronts, side backs, and back lining were cut from the stretch taffeta.


I've already mentioned how Georgene helped me perfect the fit. At that point I had to do much thread tracing to capture her edits and then to translate them back to the paper pattern (for future use). I also ended up re-cutting the side back pattern pieces, but I had plenty of the stretch taffeta, which I also used for the lining.

Thread tracing on the side front and side back (stretch taffeta)

Thread tracing on the center front and center back (Marcy Tilton novelty fabric)
Trimming the left front to match the right front


I wanted to use a 2-way separating zipper for the front and coordinating one-way zippers for the zipper pockets. I already had two brass zippers in my stash from another planned, but not executed, project. To go with those, I ordered a brass toothed, two-way, separating zipper, in black, cut to 26-1/2", from Zipperstop. I also ordered a brass foxtail slider. (If you do this, make SURE that you ask them to put the slider ON to the zipper. I once forget and I received an envelope with the zipper and the slider, but not together. I had to put them together myself, which is a real PITA.)


The vest came together well, but it took me a few weekends. The jacket pattern is unlined and I wanted a lined vest, so I had to do my own lining. I drafted the zipper pockets and placed then where I liked. I used leftover fabric (which you may recognize) from another project for the pockets. (The reverse side of this fabric is solid black, so the inside of the pockets are black.)

In process, showing the pocket from the inside. You can see both sides of the novelty fabric pretty clearly.

Pocket up close


Did I accomplish my goals? Yes, I think so. I like that you can see the furry side of the fabric at the outside of the collar and when the neckline is folded open. The stretch taffeta provides some "give". Only time will tell if I do get a lot of wear out of this, but I am hopeful!

I love a 2-way zipper!

Thank you to my colleague, Mary Campione, for taking these pics!

The End!
In truth, Mary thought you might want to see this Oska hat (from several years ago) up close.