Monday, May 23, 2011

Vogue 8709 - Marcy Tilton Swing Top

When this pattern came out, last fall I think it was, I thought it was interesting, but it wasn't near the top of my todo list. I wasn't quite sure about the trapeze shape for my body. Then Peggy made it and I just loved hers. I loved it so much that even though we have very different figures, I thought it might work for me, and it zipped to the top of the list.

I altered and cut out this top for a sewing retreat I went on in March. Unfortunately, I couldn't get to it on the retreat, as I was overly ambitious, but I started it when I returned home. As with the Katherine Tilton tee that I finished a couple days ago, I had to put it aside to prepare for my trip back east.

But I finished it this weekend! And, while my version of the top isn't perfect, I really like it. (This fabric's tendency to wrinkle may drive me crazy.) And, while I know it's not the the most flattering top on my body that I own, I think it works. (Neither of the Tilton sisters has my shape, so not every top they design works on me. Heck, I don't know of a single pattern designer who has my shape. :) )


  • A greenish cross-woven fabric - black threads in the warp and green in the weft. It seems to be largely cotton, with a bit of lycra, and it may contain another fiber, such as silk or rayon. It wrinkles like crazy, unfortunately, but had the kinda-soft-but-with-some-body quality that this project seems to call for. I bought it from Fabrix.
  • 3 buttons from Stone Mountain and Daughter - I bought five, as specified by the pattern, but they were fairly large, so I used only three.
  • Fusible tricot interfacing.

Alterations and Construction Notes:

  • I made View A and cut out a size 22. After studying the pattern tissue and ease at the bust, I decided not to increase the dart, but I did lower it about 2".

  • I flat felled the CB seam, the shoulder seams, and the side seams.

  • There seems to be a problem with the pattern draft. I was very careful to mark the notches and other symbols and, yet, when it came time to attach the peplum to the bodice, it would not fit properly. I asked Peggy and she told me she had similar problems, but she fiddled until it worked, so I don't think it was just me.

    I solved it by adding a 3/4" pleat in the bodice back, corresponding to the pleat on the peplum (for a total reduction of 1.5"). This worked well, though if I'd realized this might happen, I might have taken it in at the side seams. Since I had flat felled the side seams, I didn't want to bother taking those in. Another option would have been to fiddle with the peplum pleat, but I had sewn that down as well.

  • Note: when pinning the peplum and the bodice together, it's tempting to snip to the corners, but the pattern does not tell you to do that and I don't think you should. It's this funky seam that gives the peplum such a wonderful shape at the pockets. I love the result!

  • The collar is asymmetric. Despite my marking and attempts to be careful, my fabric was the same on both sides and I made the collar backwards. I could have cut a new collar, but I was optimistic and hoped that it didn't matter. The front bands are also not symmetric and I put those on correctly.

    Unfortunately I realized, at the very end, that it does matter. So, I had to button the band incorrectly. If you look at the pattern and my finished top, you'll see what I mean. Luckily, I don't mind this at all. :) But my advice to you is to be careful (at least more careful than I was) about the collar being consistent with the front bands. If you reverse one, reverse them both. :)

  • In the end, I realized that the darts are a bit too low and too long. Next time I would shorten the darts by an inch or so. And maybe raise them about 3/4", though I really hate to move darts around. :)

I think this is a very cute top! And, apparently, fairly forgiving for different body types. The back peplum is so fun and interesting, and the bias cut of the peplum is flattering. I love, love the soft pockets. This is a very high-end boutique sort of top and I definitely want to make it again in a more wearable fabric.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Vogue 8710 - Katherine Tilton t-shirt

I started this t-shirt before my trip back east, but I put it aside to finish some pieces for the trip. My local ASG chapter featured a "perfect t-shirt" theme this month, so I was happy to have an excuse to finish this top. If you look at view B, you will see that it flares at the hips. I knew I wouldn't like this look for me, so I did some altering to remove the flare without compromising the integrity of the side inset. I didn't want to take all of the fullness from the side seam and end up chopping the inset so that it lost its length. (If that makes any sense...)


  • Heathered grey ponte from FabricMart. This soft ponte has a very subtle stripe. I also used this fabric for a pair of Marcy Tilton pants. I have enough for one more garment. :)

Alterations and Construction Notes

  • I started with a size 22. Based on the finished bust measurement, I decided not to do an FBA.
  • Rather than follow directions and cut the inset so that the stripe is horizontal, I cut it so that the stripe (which is very subtle) is on the bias. I did this because I felt that a horizontal stripe makes the bust larger - it's like a giant arrow. :)

  • I shortened the sleeves by 3", but they were still a bit long.
  • I narrowed the shoulder about 3/4".
  • I removed fullness at the underarm from both the sleeve and the side seam.
  • I did quite a bit of fitting in the "princess" seam and in the side seam. I removed as much as possible from the front piece, and as little as possible from the inset to preserve its length as much as possible. That length helps the top look more slim.

  • By the time i got to the hem, I was in a hurry and I knew the top wasn't perfect to begin with, so I just slapped the hem allowance up and stitched. This is why it's a bit rippled. Had I wanted a nice flat hem, I would have used Steam a Seam Lite. I can always re-hem it later if it bothers me too much. :)

I transferred all shaping back to the tissue pattern, so that I can make this again. It's not quite perfect, but I like the fit overall. I removed perhaps a bit too much from the front so the side seam is a bit unbalanced. I'm not sure yet whether I want to play with the fit more and balance the side seam - it's non-trivial since I don't want to affect the front inset too much.

Anyway, I think this is a nice pattern, with good potential for the busty. It requires a bit of fitting for the hip-less, however, unless you like a flared hem. :)

I wore this tee all day yesterday and popped it on again this morning for a photo. So it looks a bit rumpled, aside from the hem. :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Me-Made-June 2011

Me-Made-June is coming up very soon. I thought long and hard about whether or not to participate this time. I got a bit bored by Me-Made-March, even though I had a lot of new self made clothes to wear since Self Stitched September 2010. I realized that it really bothers me to limit myself to *all* handmade clothing, which is what I chose to do for the last two challenge months.

I pretty much wear all hand made clothing anyway, and I have some nice clothing in my closet that rarely sees the light of day. Some of it is handmade by others, some of it is boutique clothing. None of it is mass produced ready-to-wear. Most of it is neglected, because I seem to have this thing about wearing my own clothing.

So, this time, I decided I want to incorporate these pieces into my daily wardrobe. I was just staring at my closet and there are some nice pieces that I didn't make, but deserve to see the light of day.

Just say "no" to fashion orphans. :)

So, without further ado:

I, Shams of, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-June '11. I endeavor to wear something hand made each day for the duration of June 2011. At least one of garment will be made by me, but some might be made by others or be boutique pieces.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Vogue 1239 - Chado Ralph Rucci Duster - The Story of an Almost Wadder

Sometimes things just don't work out the way you envisioned. It feels as if I've been working on this garment for a month. It took me awhile because it is an involved garment, but also there was a lot going on in my home life and in my work life. Plus, the silk charmeuse lining was such a pain to sew, that I had to really force myself to keep working on it.

And, in the end, it's pretty much "meh."

I bought the fabric, both the fashion fabric and the lining - on my recent trip to FabricMart. You can see me clutching both bolts here:

The outside is a Nicole Miller fabric (no longer available). From the FabricMart website:

This tan with cream thread pin-striping running from selvage to selvage is 57% linen 24% rayon 18% cotton 1% Lycra from Nicole Miller. It is lightweight, semi-sheer, has a slight luster, a textured hand, and medium cone drape. This will make a beautiful jacket. It could also be used for a skirt, top, or a dress.
The lining is a silk charmeuse from FabricMart's "as-is" table. It contains a tiny bit of lycra - probably no more than 1%.

I wanted the stripe running vertically, also the stretch was greater across the ribs, so I cut it cross grain. I didn't have quite enough of the lining fabric, so I had to cut a couple of the pieces cross grain. The silk charmeuse lining was a huge pain to sew and caused some of the problems I experienced later.

The pattern, a dress by Chado Ralph Rucci, was released in the recent batch of spring Vogues. I loved the dress but knew it would not work on me as a dress. But as a long jacket/duster, I could see that on me.

Alterations and Modifications

  • This dress is designed as a wrap dress. As such, the left front is shaped differently than the right front. The left front is wider and is finished with a tie that is hidden on the inside. So there is a left front and a right front, and a left front facing and a right front facing. To make this work as a duster, I used the right front (pattern piece #1) and the right front facing (pattern piece #13) for both the left and the right, removing the asymmetry.

  • I made the largest size, a size 20. The finished measurement printed on the pattern sheet told me that it would be just barely big enough at the bust, but I could not figure out how to do the FBA on this pattern, which is designed in a very interesting manner. The shoulder seam and the seam to the front of the shoulder are created with angled darts. There is a side piece that extends from hem to sleeve hem. It is inserted into the garment similar to a gusset, with corners that you reinforce and then snip. There are 8 of these corners, 2 in front, 2 in back, and ditto on the lining. This makes the garment tricky to construct and tricky to alter. In the end, I decided to punt on the FBA. I could have used the extra fabric, but it's really the least of my problems.

    I did not change the sleeve length. If you look at the pattern, you will see that it's a cropped sleeve, but on me, it's full length. I usually have to shorten the sleeves, so that worked in my favor because I like the longer length.

Construction Notes

  • This garment is fairly involved to sew. That is because virtually each seam requires the following steps:
    • Sew the seam.
    • Press the seam flat.
    • Press the seam open.
    • Press the seam to one side (in the direction specified by the pattern).
    • Edgestitch the seam.
    • Topstitch the seam.
    • Press the topstitched seam.
    This process felt like a marathon.

  • The outside is fully constructed, and then the lining is fully constructed, except for a segment of one of the horizontal band seams which is left unstitched. They are then joined at the outer edge and turned through the unstitched segment. Then, the trickiest bit, is to sew the sleeve hems through the unstitched opening. I had a heck of a time understanding the instructions for this bit and I read them over and over. Finally, when I had it in front of me I was able to work it out. But it is something like sewing a notched collar, because this tulip shaped sleeve hem has four seams that come together at one point.

    At first I wanted the option of wearing it open or closed, so I put a button loop on one side and chose a button from my "good" button box. But since I did not do an FBA, I didn't really like how it looks closed (I can close it without a problem, but it doesn't lay properly), so I may just snip off the button loop.

    The bias button loop and the button I was going to use, before I decided I preferred it without. Here you can see the wonderful ribbed texture of the linen/rayon/cotton/lycra blend.

Challenges... and Solutions

Perhaps you anticipate the problem I had. The shell and lining are attached only at the outer edge. Though I tried to be very careful when sewing all seams, these fabrics don't behave the same, and they did not hang well together. The lining was shorter than the shell, so the hem pulled inward in an inconsistent and very unattractive way. If it had bubbled in an interesting way, I would have run with that. :)

Also, the facing at the front and the sleeves "fell" out as I moved, or put the duster on/took it off. It is a very unpleasant effect. Of course this garment was not designed as a duster/jacket, but even as a dress I think this would be annoying.

At this point, I almost called it a wadder. But, finally, I opened up most of the horizontal seam at the top of the upper band. I tacked the lining below to the jacket itself. The upper lining is currently loose (and shorter, so some of the seams are exposed), but I plan to add a piece to the hem at the top that will lay over the bottom area. It will be loose, unattached at the bottom, but will cover up the works.

To fix the loose, floppy facings, I tacked them down. If you look at the photo you will see that I am wearing a necklace. I bought this inexpensive necklace from a website, and when it arrived one of the seed bead strings was broken. I almost sent the necklace back, but decided not to bother. Instead, I snipped off the loose strand of seed beads. These beads are a bronze color and were sitting near my sewing spot in the living room. I decided to use them to tack down the facings along the front, the sleeve hems and at the back of the neck. I used them in clusters of three. It worked ok, though it's not a perfect solution.

A closeup of the beading intended to tack the facings down.

The final problem I have with this duster is the fit of the neck. I have to frequently tug the duster forward. The neck seems to be too narrow and/or the shoulder "dart" should be further back. Not much I can do about that now, but it's something to watch for.

Finally, some of the darts "wobble" in the fabric - particularly those on the front. I marked and sewed these very carefully, so as not to distort the seam, but perhaps not carefully enough. Maybe I should have used a tear-away stabilizer. I pressed them within an inch of their life and used a clapper, but still they wobble, mockingly.


Well, I like the idea of this duster. I love the silhouette - especially the nipped in back waist and then the fullness below. I love the sleeve detail. But it definitely presents some fit issues, at least for me, that I haven't quite worked out.

Oh, and if you are in one of my sewing groups, such as BABES or PenWAG, don't expect me to bring this to show and tell. It's definitely not show-and-tell worthy. :)

More Pictures

Friday, May 13, 2011

Deleted Post - Vlog Meme on Dialetical Differences

What a pain, blogger. After an outage of almost 2 days, my last post, and all associated comments, were deleted. I don't save my posts, but it was the one on the Vlog Meme. I'll try to reproduce it but I am sorry to lose the 16 (or so) comments that had been posted. I do value your feedback so this loss is aggravating.

Carolyn, one of my favorite bloggers who is located in Perth, Australia, posted a vlog (video log) for a meme. This particular meme is intended to capture dialectical differences in the English language throughout the world (though it may be biased to U.S. regional differences).

I had trouble with Photobooth, which kept quitting on me. After several attempts, I finally just posted three separate videos. The first one is the shortest. I loved how Carolyn captured her video outside and we could hear the beautiful Australian songbirds and see the beautiful trees. But, alas, even though it was noon when I made my video, it was cold, grey and very windy, resulting in a poor quality video, that quit after a few seconds both times that I tried it.

I do misspeak in (I think) the second video, when I say I grew up in "northern San Francisco." What I meant to say was "north of San Francisco." I have always lived within an hour of SF. I grew up an hour north of SF, I attended college east of SF at UC Berkeley, and I then lived on the peninsula and worked in Silicon valley, to the south of SF. I now live smack dab in SF.

So, without further ado.

Part 1. This 23 seconds only says hello.

Part 2. Here I read the words and answer half the questions. Gee, doesn't the still image make my mouth look silly? Like a cartoon character. :)

Part 3. Here I complete the questions, describe "fog rain", and tell you what kind of weather to expect if you visit San Francisco in the summer.

To participate in this meme, you first read the following words:

Aunt, Route, Wash, Oil, Theater, Iron, Salmon, Caramel, Fire, Water, Sure, Data, Ruin, Crayon, Toilet, New Orleans, Pecan, Both, Again, Probably, Spitting image, Alabama, Lawyer, Coupon, Mayonnaise, Syrup, Pajamas, Caught

And then answer these questions:
What is it called when you throw toilet paper on a house?
What is the bug that when you touch it, it curls into a ball?
What is the bubbly carbonated drink called?
What do you call gym shoes?
What do you say to address a group of people?
What do you call the kind of spider that has an oval-shaped body and extremely long legs?
What do you call your grandparents?
What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket?
What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining?
What is the thing you change the TV channel with?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

She Speaks! - a Vlog Meme

Around 4am this morning (my time) I was catching up on my favorite bloggers, as I often do in the wee hours. Carolyn, one of my favorite bloggers who is located in Perth, Australia, posted a vlog (video log) for a meme.

This particular meme is intended to capture dialectical variations of the English language throughout the world. I have always lived within an hours drive of San Francisco, so here's my version.

While I am comfortable taking and posting pictures (usually after doing minimal editing, such as cropping, resizing, or lightening), videos are a whole 'nuther matter. It took several attempts for me to complete the video questionnaire on my Mac using PhotoBooth. I'm not sure why it kept ending the recording, but I finally gave up trying to get it all in one go and am posting three separate short videos.

The following shows what this meme is supposed to include. First are the words to repeat:

Aunt, Route, Wash, Oil, Theater, Iron, Salmon, Caramel, Fire, Water, Sure, Data, Ruin, Crayon, Toilet, New Orleans, Pecan, Both, Again, Probably, Spitting image, Alabama, Lawyer, Coupon, Mayonnaise, Syrup, Pajamas, Caught

And then these questions are answered:

What is it called when you throw toilet paper on a house?
What is the bug that when you touch it, it curls into a ball?
What is the bubbly carbonated drink called?
What do you call gym shoes?
What do you say to address a group of people?
What do you call the kind of spider that has an oval-shaped body and extremely long legs?
What do you call your grandparents?
What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket?
What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining?
What is the thing you change the TV channel with?

And here are my results. Note how my transition glasses change. They get darker as I'm outside and slowly lighten back inside.

Part 1 was captured outside, because I wanted to be like Carolyn, with her beautiful tropical birds and gorgeous trees. Unfortunately, though it was noon, it was windy and cold, causing the recording to be very poor quality. You also get to see a bit of my neighbor's housekeeper, which I didn't notice until I was done. :)

Part two, in my living room, also quit halfway through the questions:

Note that I misspoke when I said I grew up in "north San Francisco." What I meant to say was that I grew up north of San Francisco, about an hour away. I have always lived within an hour of SF. First to the north, then to the east, then to the south, and now smack dab in SF.

And, finally, part three, the end!

If anyone out there understands why PhotoBooth kept quitting, please let me know. I like having the option of doing a video from time to time and I did learn from this process, but I'm obviously doing something wrong.

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Circle Skirt

I am still here! Still alive and kicking. I have not sewed in a week, so my kicking is likely to turn nasty soon. :)

DD1 is graduating from high school, so there is a lot going on right now. I decided to post something that she made this week.

Her math teacher assigned a "creative" math project to wrap up their high school math experience. It could pretty much be anything they wanted. One student wrote and performed a song relating to math, for example. Another used triangular pieces of (cardboard? wood?) to construct a piece of architecture.

My daughter decided to make her own pattern for a circle skirt. For her fabric, she raided my stash and came up with a Marcy Tilton fabric (of course). This is a pebbled knit, printed with a diagonal stripe. When she threw it on the dining table (to cut it out) both of us got dizzy from that stripe! It's great... in small doses. And since I bought this to use as piping, or for small contrast areas, it is perfect for that. (And luckily I still have some left.)

I like how the diagonal printed stripe goes every which way in the circle skirt

And here's another shot of the same kid. It was a fun surprise to see DD1 featured on the poster for this year's spring show.

The same daughter appears, albeit briefly, in a music video released this week called "Get Naked." Ahem, no, she's dancing. I guess it's good that she has different interests. ;)

I will sew again. I have several half-finished projects, so I will have something new to show, hopefully soon. :)