Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sewing Workshop -- Plaza Jacket #2

Last August I bought a very interesting novelty fabric – a black chiffon fused with quarter-sized denim dots, making the dots very rigid but also taming their raw edges. This narrow fabric was more expensive than most at my favorite discount fabric store – I think it was $13 per yard – I did not know how I would use it, so I bought two yards. On one side of the selvedge there was a 4" strip (approx) of denim. I bought the beginning of the bolt, so there was another 8" of denim at the start of the bolt.

I loved the fabric's drape with the slightly fraying denim circles but, when I got it home, I was very perplexed by how to use it. I wanted to somehow frame the dots with the included denim, but was having trouble imagining the right pattern. I realized I needed more fabric for the type of design I was considering, especially given the fussy cutting I wanted, so I went back to the fabric store, but the remainder of the small bolt was gone. I asked and it turned out that they had another bolt they hadn't brought out yet. This time the beginning of the bolt had about 10" of denim – yay for me! I bought another couple yards from this second bolt and let the fabric sit while I auditioned patterns in my head. I finally narrowed it to two patterns – the Sewing Workshop's Plaza jacket and a cropped, funky Mizono from Vogue.

In the end, I decided to go with the Plaza jacket, and I tested that pattern out using a handwoven-like fabric. I tweaked the pattern to remove the fullness at the back and to straighten out the back hem so I could include the denim selvedge.

For this particular jacket, I also removed the self fold band from the front pattern piece and omitted the neck pattern piece. Instead, I used the full width available from the narrower piece of denim from the beginning of the bolt (it wasn't much) to make the front band, which is just a long strip, seamed at the CB. The front and back pieces were cut to use the full width of the selvedge to include that perfectly coordinating denim. I used most of the denim from the other bolt cut for the sleeves.

This fabric was not easy to sew or iron. Alternating every few stitches between insubstantial chiffon and the very rigid glued denim could have confounded a sewing machine, but my old Bernina handled it just fine. It was very difficult to turn under edges and iron open seam allowances – just pinning into the denim circles was very difficult and I had the pricked fingers to prove it. But I think the end result was worth it.

I am happy with how it turned out. It's fun to wear – I've worn it to Thanksgiving, DD2's Winter Concert, my sew group's holiday luncheon, and I plan to wear it several more times this holiday season.

Self Drafted -- Tote

My sewing group has a longtime tradition at their annual holiday gathering. Imagine 25 women or so, each bringing a gift, either purchased or hand made, and placing them anonymously under a Christmas tree. Each person draws a number (a higher number is luckier than a lower number) to determine the order of play. Person Number One selects a gift from under the tree and opens it. Person Number Two can either select an unwrapped gift, or she can take Number One's gift, and so on. If a person loses her gift to someone else, she can either select an unopened gift or she can take someone else's gift. (However, a gift can only be "stolen" once per round.) I first played this very fun game with this group close to twenty years ago – I had never heard of it before then. This game has become more popular in the intervening years and I sometimes hear it called Dirty Santa, though I have known it as Greedy Gift Grab.

I was very much looking forward to the party, but it took me awhile to figure out what to bring for my gift. Obviously, one wants to bring a gift that will hopefully appeal to several people, but I hadn't attended the sew group's holiday party for at least 16 years and felt a bit out of touch. Finally, on Black Friday, I headed to Britex to seek out interesting (and affordable) fabrics. Well, I had no luck with the affordable part, but I did fall in love with a home dec fabric at $40 per yard. I bought more than a yard, and a half yard of a coordinating fabric, and headed home to spend the evening figuring out exactly what to do with it. I have very few purse or tote bag patterns (I don't generally enjoy this sort of sewing) but I do have a purchased Sally Spicer tote bag that I like very much. I spent some time studying the tote bag and I finally decided to copy that. This bag is lined, has internal pockets, and is closed with a magnetic snap, which I wanted to recreate.

I went back to Britex on Saturday to get all the necessary notions for the tote (magnetic snap closure, heavy duty interfacing, polypropylene strapping, rayon grosgrain ribbon, seam binding). I had spent so much time at Britex on Friday, several sales people recognized me, or maybe they recognized my Olympia coat, (which one salesperson actually groped :) ), but I was able (for more money than I wanted to spend) get the necessary supplies. (Oh well, the kids don't need Christmas gifts. :) )

I matched the seams. :) The bottom fabric is home dec velveteen, interfaced with a stiff horsehair type of interfacing.

Shown here inside-out, it is lined with a black double voile from my stash, and there is a pocket secured between the straps on both front and back. The exposed seams, and the top of the bag, are covered with a rayon grosgrain ribbon, and the bag closes with a magnetic snap.

All wrapped up!

The holiday luncheon was a success and really fun. My tote bag was "stolen" something like ten times, which was fun to watch. I brought home a gorgeous set of handmade note cards.

Next year, I will definitely plan my gift much earlier!!!