Saturday, March 24, 2012

Koos Loop Infinity Scarf

One of my sewing pals, Lynn CC, was taken with the Koos scarf article in the January 2012 issue of Threads magazine. The article, by Linda Teufel, shows how designer Koos van den Akker creates his version of the infinity scarf.

Using different fabrics, sewn in a spiral, and twisted so that it lays nicely, the scarf construction is much more complex than it appears. Lynn CC liked the scarf, but wondered how it would work in a smaller format, such as a half yard of fabric. She made several and liked the result.

When I saw Lynn's scarves, I loved them. She used the full width of the fabric, and when you use, say, a half a yard of a 45" wide fabric and twist it once, it produces a scarf that lays nicely and close to your neck. It's a great way to showcase a special fabric - be it knit, woven, or lace. Lynn has found that these make great gifts.

Single twist

I had to make the black and white ikat scarf twice. The first time, I added a single twist, but somehow lost it when sewing the selvedges together, because the resulting scarf was a cylinder, with no twist. Luckily, I had another half yard (because I was too lazy to unstitch the first scarf) and made it a second time, this time asking Lynn to assist with the twisting. This one was perfect.

On my way home last weekend, Sue and I stopped by Hart's fabric store in Santa Cruz. I had never been there before, and it's a great store. (They also have a nice online store.)

Full disclosure: one of those bags was Sue's and they were very heavy! :)

Harts displays their knits on long cylinders, standing straight up. It was nice to be at a fabric store with lots of knits and so well displayed. They had 2 or 3 rows of knits.

Another Hart's purchase. This is a polka dot lightweight fine wale corduroy! I just may use this for another Koos pattern.

Hart's carries a lot of knits, including quite a few of the Missoni knits. I am not really a Missoni girl, but I decided to buy a half yard to make a Koos scarf.

Because the Koos fabric is much wider than the ikat fabric, I decided to use the full width, but add more twists. In the end, I added four full twists, which was maybe one twist too much. Twisting the scarf helps to shorten it, but I think I would have been happier if I had cut the rectangle to be shorter than the full selvedge-to-selvedge width (closer to 45") and twisted it only once.

Oh well, it was an experiment and I'm sure I'll get some wear out of it.

The Missoni Koos scarf. Meh.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Technique - Lattice Smocking

As I mentioned in my earlier blog post, I started a pair of pants last September and I wanted to use lattice smocking on the hem. I had first seen this treatment last spring used on some tops in Macy's. Then kbenco used it on a top and posted a tutorial. Being a visual learner, I watched several videos on youtube and made some samples. It seemed very complicated, at first, but it's actually not that hard.

You sew the smocking stitches on the wrong side of the fabric. You need to create a grid - a striped fabric can help with this. I used my large Olfa ruler and an orange Frixion pen to draw the grid and the diagonal lines. The drawing won't show on the front, but the lines can be removed by steaming or washing the completed garment.

You can see my samples below. I took photos after one, two and three rows of smocking. I decided that I wanted three rows on my pants. I made my sample the same width as the pant leg so I could confirm that I could comfortably put my foot through the sample and that it would be comfortable to wear. The smocked area has some "give" but is not stretchy.

One row of lattice smocking

Two rows of lattice smocking

Three rows of lattice smocking

I measured the pant leg of the Loes Hinse Oxford and, for my size, I was able to make a 1" grid 20 squares wide, from inseam to inseam. You need an even number of columns for the smocking to work properly in a continuous round. The Oxford is drafted with 3/8" seam allowances, so I started and ended the grid lines 3/8" in from either raw edge.

Each row of lattice smocking requires 2 grid rows, so I created the grid with 6 rows, for 3 finished rows of smocking.

After cutting out the pants, I used the Frixion pens to draw the grid on the wrong side. I then constructed the pants. When sewing the inseam, the first and last lines of the grid are sewn together at 3/8". I then turned the pants inside out, and sewed the smocked pattern. Where there is a diagonal line, you draw those opposite points together and secure them with a knot.

Here is a video that shows the stitch pretty clearly:

Once you get into a rhythm, it goes pretty quickly.

If you do any interesting garment projects with lattice smocking, I'd love to hear about it! I still plan to make a longer version of this pant with the same effect.

Loes Hinse Linen Pants with Smocked Hem

I seem to be flailing around a bit lately, sewing-wise. I have been developing a stable of tried and true patterns, which is great. Most of them are Style Arc patterns, which have a fabulous fit. This has allowed me to start focusing more on design details and morphing the patterns into other designs.

So, what is my problem? I don't know. Maybe I am getting bored? Or maybe this just a regular mojo cycle - we all know how that goes. Am I confused by my style, resulting in Hamlet-like indecision? Or am I just frustrated that I often can't sew what I really want, because it won't work on my boobular figure? Maybe I just have too many clothes? (Though I have purged the closet.) I can't quite put my finger on it. Maybe it's a bit of all of the above.

At any rate, it's been hard to settle on a project.

I actually started this project in early September. I know that because I started a blog post at the time and it had the time stamp of Sept 6th, 2011. I was very taken with lattice smocking, also called Canadian smocking, which I had seen a season before on some tops in Macy's. Then kbenco used it on a top and wrote a tutorial.

Being a visual learner, I watched various youtube videos and made some samples. I decided to use the detail on a pants hem. Because I wanted as few seams as possible, I used the Loes Hinse Oxfords, which are the best fitting no-seam pants pattern I have.

The fabric is 100% linen in grey with a thin cream stripe, from Fabrix. Using a stripe makes it a bit easier to create the grid you need for the smocking. I plan to write another post with a bit more detail on how I achieved the effect.

The reason this project went into the UFO closet for six months is that, after smocking one leg, I wasn't pleased. I wanted the smocking closer to the ankle and knew that if I'd tried to remove it to make it lower, the fabric would show damage. Then, I recently decided to pull them out and try them on again. And now I love the capri length! Just the thing for summer. If I ever experience summer weather, that is. :)

Blog post: Lattice Technique.

And speaking of Loes Hinse. This last weekend I was finally able to visit her store in Carmel. I had seen her speak a couple times, once at Artistry in Fashion and once at PenWAG, and had talked to her once about using her patterns with my bustline, but it was fun to descend on her store with four sewing friends. She had been warned that our group was in the area, so she brought some fabrics and patterns to her shop, which is so small that she doesn't usually have them available.

Rita and Pat, excited to be in Carmel and visiting Loes.

Despite the pouring rain, she was our first stop in Carmel. I helped her bring her fabric from her car, requiring two trips through puddles, but we were determined. (And, besides, my friend Sue volunteered me for the task. ;) ) We had a lot of fun groping her RTW clothing, in that way that sewists do, and trying her garments on.

We made a mess!

Dorothy trying on one of Loes's jackets. The fabric in this is so interesting. Loes calls it her "feather" fabric. It's kind of like a faux fur, but it's not made with regular fur-like fur, but with these thin sheets of ... not sure what, but it had a sort of feathery effect. It reminded me of thin sheets of shale... in fabric form. Loes says you can buy the fabric on the Casual Elegance site, though I haven't looked.

All I bought was a wonderful striped rayon knit fabric. I was quite restrained. I can't say the same of my compatriots. :)

'Twas a fun outing! I can also recommend the shop Findings, which carries vintage trims and buttons and a few fabrics, and Pacific Rim, which had fabulous, fabulous clothing.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Nest Scarf

My black and white nest

Once a year I go off for a weekend of sewing with some like-minded buddies. I usually shop too much, eat too much, and sew just the right amount.

This year was no different.

Sewing away...

My first project didn't require a sewing machine at all.

You may have heard of the recent Sew Expo in Puyallup, Washington. Billed as the nation's largest sewing expo and held in late February and early March, I've never been. But my friend and retreat roomie, Sue, did. While there, she bought a scarf kit from Diane Ericson, called The Nest.

Sue's earth tones nest

Independent of Sue, I was reading Diane Ericson's facebook page, and I saw the Nest scarf, made up and worn. I immediately emailed Diane and asked if I could order one. I could. She had only a few left, so it is a limited edition and not listed for sale on her site, but I snagged one.

The kit consists of a long strip of a bias cut silk/metallic lattice, in an off-white color, and a collection of ribbons, trims, and fabric scraps, plus four charms. You tie the goodies onto the scarf and then wind it around your neck. Once it's on your body, you reach in through the lattice and pull a few of the tschotskes through to the outside, which also helps anchor the arrangement.

Voilà, a nest.

Sue and I were amused that we had each purchased one of these kits without talking about it, even afterwards. We laid them out on our beds and tied away. I may go back later and add some red strips from my own stash.

Diane tells me she has a few of these kits left. If you are interested, you can contact her.

I have more projects to blog from the weekend, so stay tuned.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Failure Galore

I'm going on a sewing retreat soon. In preparation for that, I've been cleaning up the cutting area and sewing room. Putting away projects and getting ready to prep several projects for the retreat.

I've had some unsuccessful projects recently, but I didn't realize how many until I did some cleaning.

I've had five, yes FIVE failed projects since New Years. I know that other sewists appreciate hearing about failures, as well as successes, so here's a listing. No pictures are forthcoming. Pattern names are not listed to protect the innocent - it really wasn't the patterns' fault in any of these cases. :)

  1. A beautiful coat using an expensive, gorgeous wool. Argh, this was a bitter disappointment. In this case, when I did the FBA on the pattern, I hadn't realized how another area would be affected by my large bust and it just did not work. I could not figure out how to salvage this one. C'est tragique.
  2. A jacket using an expensive wool knit from Mood. This was one of my "brilliant" ideas for converting a top pattern to a jacket, but I did not muslin it. Fail.
  3. A pair of pants using a taslan fabric. Wow, was the fabric wrong for the pattern. On so many levels, it was wrong. Let me give you just one example: you know that awful sound of pantyhose crunching between ample thighs? Yeah.
  4. There was a RTW jacket I wanted to replicate so I used a pattern to create a "muslin" using a very ugly piece of linen. It was a giant blech.
  5. Another RTW top I wanted to replicate. I used a cheap, but usable, crinkle knit fabric. I did lots of hand sewing on this one. The end result is so "meh" I will use it only as a sleep shirt.

What did I do with all of these failures? I pouted a bit. I whinged, especially to Margy. I tried other, easy, projects with better success.

And all of this is now purged and cleared. Time to start new projects. Hopefully, these will be more successful. :)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Style Arc Kerry Cargo Pants

I have turned the captcha off on my blog. You should be able to post comments without word verification. Please let me know if this is not the case.

Not a lot of sewing here. I started a food detox last Sunday and had several days where I felt pretty sick. But I've come through to the other side and am feeling much better. I actually finished these pants last Sunday and am just now feeling up to blogging them.

I've had this Style Arc pattern for many months but couldn't decide on a fabric. Recently, a friend was de-stashing and I snagged a piece of tan-colored stretch woven. A fairly beefy woven cotton, with two way stretch, the 2 yards of 54" fabric was insufficient, according to the envelope. But I laid out the pattern and decided I could just barely make it work. (I omitted a few of the smaller pattern pieces, which helped.) After cutting these out, all that remained were a few, very small, scraps.

Alterations and Modifications:

I made my usual size 10 with a few modifications:

  • Replaced the drawstring waist with elastic.
  • I plan to wear the pant leg rolled up, so I did not shorten the pants, though they are quite a bit too long for me. I prefer the rolled up length to be "longer", so the extra length helps to create a more substantial cuff than if I were to roll up the hem once or twice.
  • Omitted the side seam pockets. My experience of side seam pockets is that they gape and are not flattering.
  • Omitted the back pockets. These pants, as designed are pocket-ful with six pockets!
  • I seem to be constitutionally unable to include certain types of embellishments - namely, anything military or safari. In this case, I cut out the pocket flaps for the leg pockets but could not bring myself to use them. I just preferred the pockets without. Maybe because I lived through the 80s and had enough safari and military details. :)
  • I lined the leg pockets with scraps of a cream linen/silk blend.
  • After the pants were sewn together, I removed 1/2" from the side seam at the waist (2" total). I would have probably needed this ease in a non-stretch woven.

Conclusion: This is definitely a more relaxed fit than other Style Arc pants I've made. Time will tell how much I wear them, but they are certainly very comfy.

StyleArc has spoiled me, I think. I recently have been wearing some of my older pants and they now feel over-sized to me. I have not lost weight, but I am starting to prefer a closer fit with my clothing. "Closer fitted funky." I like that. ;)

More Pictures

Pocket shot
Am I the only person who keeps a wooden spoon with my pressing tools? I've used the spoon to press open the seam in the tab.
I love the Frixion pens for marking. The pattern did not include a shaped tab, so I drew on one. After stitching, the marks are easily removed with a shot of steam.
Evidence that I haven't cooked in three months.
Cooking again!