Saturday, September 27, 2014

Tailoring Part 2: Pattern Prep, Interfacing, Pockets, and Darts

Okay, hello everybody, I am back to share more tailoring escapades of my son's suit.  Of course, I will admit this will not get done by tomorrow.  I slowed down a little bit because I made some really silly mistakes, maybe because I was sidetracked, or just maybe because I was tired, either way it is getting done.  I would rather it be done right then it to be done fast and wrong.  So keep reading if you want to find the mistakes I made.  I know you want to...we all have it in us to see what someone else did wrong.  Be my guest, I'll even help you.  
There's my handsome baby boy fitting the shell of his new suit.  Doesn't he look excited?

Here are the things I've gotten done so far.  Some of the techniques and changes I made are from various sources, but the main one I use for tailoring is my book, Classic tailoring techniques, a Construction Guide for menswear, by Robert Cabrera and Patricia Flaherty Meyers
For you techie folks: here are the details about the pattern adjustments that I made before cutting the fabric.

  1. Altered the roll line on the jacket front to be 5/8 inch above the first button and then I made sure that it ended at least 3/8 inch out from the neck cutting line at the top
  2. Changed the back shoulder seems to be at least 1/2 inch longer than the front shoulder
  3. The center back vent was changed to 2 inches wide near the top and graded it to 3 inches at the hem.
  4. The front facing straight of grain orientation straightened to line up with the center front and the size was increased to 2" inches wide at the shoulder,  3 inches wide from the midpoint of the roll line and 5 1/2 inches wide at the hem. 

Before I laid out and cut the fabric, I made sure the grain was straight.   The pictures above just show you a few steps that I took to make sure the grain was completely straight.

Interfacing: Before I installed the pockets and sewed the darts, I underlined the entire jacket with fusible weft interfacing cut on the same grain as the jacket.  It is a Rayon/polyester medium weight weft interfacing called "Perfect Fuse" from Palmer/Pletsch.
Stabilizing:  The jacket was steam pressed by hand to cause as much shrinking as possible beforehand.  This is not the only interfacing we'll be using for this jacket, horse hair braid and canvas will be used to further stabilize only the jacket front, should/breast and upper back and sleeve cap.  

Marking each piece was done after all underlining/interfacing was completed by placing the pattern tissue back on the fabric to check for any distortion and make sure the size was okay. then using tailor tacks or tailors chalk to mark placement lines, etc.  (With the interfacing in place, I was free to mark as needed without worry of show through.)
OOOPs!!!  Yeah!  I ran out of fabric, so this became a real Tim Gunn "Make it work." moment.  You will find out some of the places I actually made it work as the construction moves forward.
 Here you see I hand basted the chest pocket placement lines on the left front panel.
The single welt pocket was finished and hand stitched along the sides to secure the welt.  The pocket isn't shining, I think its the camera angle.  Do you see the dart under the pocket? 
Looking inside the chest pocket: you can see I have the base shell fabric on the bottom towards the body and the lining is actually on the top facing the jacket, but hidden from view when worn.
Stylish design lines: The picture above is of the jacket front.  The entire jacket is designed with upper and lower parts, which can be color blocked if desired.
Lower Pocket:  You see in this picture (which is upside down) the flaps have been sewn and placed and now it is time to sew the inseam pockets that are actually part of the waist seam.  The flap was cut with the none public side 1/8" smaller on each end to cause the seam to roll to the inside when turned.

 OOOOPs!! you see that??:  
More sleepy sewing.  I put the pockets off towards the back too much.  EEEkkk!!!  Wake up Andrea!!!
OKAY!! That it, I'm done!....Now I have gone and done it!  I put the pocket inside out!  Time to take a break and get back to this later.

Stay tuned in for the fitting and more "Make it work." moments.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Style Arc Kerry Cargo Pant: A review

It is unbelievable that I took so long to finish these simple pants that I started work on in May this year.  You would think I should have had them finished in the span of a few days at the most. 

I fell head over heels for These Style Arc cargo pants the moment I saw them...but when I started working on them, I just lost interest because of the amount of pockets.  But that isn't the total and only reason it took so long.  I ended up having to move the pockets after they were completed.  You notice on the picture from Style arc, that the back pockets sit rather high up on the hips.  Well that was the problem for me there.  I probably should have check the placement before I stitched and topstitched.
This is a Safari style straight (no flare) leg cargo pant with drawstring and box pleated pockets with flaps and functioning buttonholes.  The patterns come in single sizes, thus, I ended up cutting a 16.

Compared to the pictures on the Style Arc website, the pants should fit right at the hip, however, in this case they are rather high in the front.  I have to consider that my front rise is much lower than the average, so this part I overlooked.  Even after taking 1 1/2 inches from the front waist, you can see that they still sit pretty high.  As for the hang, they really do hang rather well, and that is what I like most about these pants.
I decided to style the pants with a similarly relaxed type of favorite summer ready white safari jacket.  It has its own type of wrinkle look going on so, I felt really comfortable when going inside the office building.  It was kind of dressed up but still dress down.

I used a lightweight linen. A note regarding the fabric::: the only reason I washed the fabric is because they are for daily wear, otherwise normally I would dry clean my pants. I do not like to lose the sheen in any of my fabrics, especially linen, sateen, and silk duping.  In the case of this fabric, I think it has a little poly blend or something, because they did not wrinkle nearly as bad as I thought they would.  I got the fabric free from my school several years back.  Another reason I suspect poly is because there was hardly any color loss.
Regarding the back pocket placement, I wasn't too impressed...the position on the pattern puts the back pockets quite high up into and too close to the waist gathers.  This made them look really bulky and caused the pleats to spread.  On the pattern envelope, the gathers are not as full as are on me. 
The crotch was on point for me, and the leg width is absolutely to die for.  The pants are cut more on a straight of grain along the side seam, which in my humble opinion helps for the inner leg and crotch to be on mast a bit of bias like jeans, to fit curves of the body better.  The hip was perfect, but there was just too much fabric bunched up around the waist.  
back of cargo pants

It seems like I made a lot of changes for a seemingly simple pair of pants. I was a little disappointed at how many changes I had to make, but I was really happy with them in the end, although, I plan to change the waist to be sewn on with stitched elastic and insert a drawstring next time I make them.  

Pattern alterations or design changes made:
Pockets usually cause a problem because of my thighs...I won't be using them much anyway.
Pattern alterations or any design changes made

  1. The front pockets were cut wider at the top to sew in the waist seam closer to center front.
  2. Deepened the crotch by 1/4" in the back. 
  3. lengthen the pant 1 3/8" to wear them a little longer and then had to take out again, because I decided to let the pants sit low on the waist.  
  4. Increased the back rise by 1"
  5. Lower the front crotch by 1 1/2" 
  6. Removed 1" from each side seam, and 1" from the back seam
  7. Lowered the position of the back pockets by 1.5" because the pockets were getting pulled up into the waist gathers.
  8. Left off the left leg pocket for personal preference only

The only reason I would recommend these to others is because of the way it is laid on the fabric and consequently hangs on the body. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Burda 7194: Tailoring Menswear, the Saga Begins

I am working on a tailored suit for my son, JP.  I actually promised him a suit as a birthday gift back in 2009.  Of course I know this makes me look like a really bad procrastinator based on the timing of this project.  But let me assure you that I haven't just been twiddling my thumbs on this one,  I have been quite busy with so many projects, including having made him a shirt along with many other custom alterations.  So, don't think I totally neglected my baby boy.  Besides, like any good procrastinator I have thought through the entire process ahead of time, and now I am ready to put this behind me.
This is a model not my son...although my son may be more handsome.  
So, I hope you enjoy the process as I share my style of tailoring and the steps I take to get my kind of outcome.  Some of the process will be shortcuts, my way, and other parts you may be familiar with from the Internet or other books.  I don't really like to take very many shortcuts when I work with menswear, since they wear their clothes longer and harder than women.  

Either way, I am just going to work through my tasks and give you the pictures and points that help me to stay focused as I work. 

The Fitting:
After measuring his chest size(42) and taking the waist, I selected the pattern as listed on the envelope for the size 42 and pants size 38.  It seems that the pants run really small because of the European cut...slim fit.  I tissue fit the jacket front, back and side panel.
The jacket is pinned to the t-shirt

Here he has the pant muslin pinned tightly over the jeans.  I used a muslin to check the fit of the pants.  I had to make it work in this case..since he had just gotten off work and had road the motorcycle for an hour before making it to my house.  (I failed to inform him of the reason for his visit.)  Needless to say, he nor I were willing to venture into a messy fitting.  So, in the true spirit of the "make it work" process, I ripped the pant muslin apart and fitted over his jeans.  I knew how tight to allow it in order for me to check the fit, since the pants pattern is a slim "European" fit.    
Back of the jacket fitting.
I know, that what I'm looking for in the pant fit, is to have enough rise in the back and enough in the front of the crotch, and to check knee placement so I can get the flare correct in order for him to wear his cowboy boots with the suit.  My son!! I would not ever had imagined him loving cowboy boots.  Maybe it was all those years of us going to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
Burda pattern changes and alterations. JP
I will tell you about all the pattern preparations needed for men's suits compared to the women's, and all the actual fitting alterations I had to do for JP in the next post.  But for now, here are a few other tidbits on this project.
Fabrication:  I had this really nice Linen/Bamboo in my stock of high end suitings. I say high end, because it is lux for real!!!  I bought it in Los Angeles on a sewing guild trip back in 2010.  I can't believe how I remember so much about my fabric purchases.  It seems that I have some kind of personal connection with every fiber in my stash.  This one almost didn't get used for JP's suit because I have hoarding tendencies.  Does anyone else have that problem?  Because it is a problem, if you are will to admit.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Simplicity 4192- More Vacation Sewing

Whenever someone say "let's go", the first thing I think is, "Do I have a new "me made" outfit to wear?"  That rush of adrenaline is intoxicating.  That's why sewing for my vacations, gives me such a feeling of satisfaction and direction.  But when I don't get the chance to wear my creations, it really disappoints.  This is one of those disappointments. 
I planned this super cute number to be worn with my husbands color-matched linen leisure set for our anniversary.  The wrap pants and kimono tie front top had been in my queue for years.  It is a Simplicity 4192 which includes your entire ensemble for a really nice beach getaway.  In my case, an anniversary dinner in the Caribbean.   (Didn't Happen!!  Aaagh!!)  
So, this pretty fun getup will just sit in my closet until the time comes when an occasion warrants it.  But not just any humdrum occasion will do for this set. 
I love how you can just wrap the pants up and tie them in the front, almost like a wrap skirt, but these come up from the crotch and tie in the back first, then you tie them at the back waist and then bring the back around and tie it to the front.  I roll hemmed the entire sides and hem of the pants using the roll hem foot on my Bernina 640 machine.  That saved all the pressing and turning.
I cut a size 14 for both the top and the pants, although for pants I usually cut an 18.  I didn't own the size 18, so I made alterations so they would wrap "totally" the way the pattern photos depicted with only a few inches of separation at the front.  
  • Raised the back rise by 1.5 inches,
  • Lowered the front by 1.5 inches
  • added 4inches total at the sides.  
The pants do not have a side seam, but it does have a dart.  So, that is where I added the 2 inches on each side of the back which wraps to the front.  I drew a line down from the waist to the hem and spread each side by 2inches.  I did not increase the front under wrap. 
 I could have gotten away with just a little more length, but since they are beach casual, I may end of wearing without shoes.

The fabric is a rayon, nylon burnout with a brushed finish.  It could get away as a gauze, but there aren't any crinkles.  So, I'm not really sure if it could be called a gauze.  But I am sure, it is extremely soft.
For the top, I did my regular 1.5 inch FBA.  I rotated the resulting side dart into the gathers under the bust, but I didn't like the amount of gathering which was created as a result.  So, before I gathered under the bust, I added two 1/2 inch darts to take up some of the access fabric.  It looks so much smoother to me that way, since I really don't like gathers at the bust anyway.
On the back of the top, I did a sway back adjustment and instead of gathers, I just pleated the excess.

The pattern also included the shorts in the same style as the pants.  I think another day, I will also make those and the knit top.  But for now, I will just keep this one hanging in the closet on standby until which time that special occasion rolls around.

More vacation sewing to stay tuned.

On another note, I will be posting my teaching schedule and contact information on a new page in my blog.  Sewing is my passion, and my mission is to share with as many people that I come in contact with, if only, to introduce them to a fun and fulfilling hobby.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Review: A Romper Look-a-like, McCall's 6965 and Simplicity 2281

Why do I even list my post as reviews? At times it's not to tell you what I think about the pattern, actually it is more of an Internet "Show (Sew) and Tell." The enjoyment of sharing what I sew is more fun than you would ever know. Well, unless you sew as well and blog about it, or go to local guild meetings or sewing meet-ups to talk about sewing.

For the most part, when I sew, I just want to shout it to the world, "I MADE THIS MYSELF!!!" Now, mind you, this sharing is by choice to inform you via the World Wide Web, of my experiences which abound in the privacy of my sewing studio. I used to get that sharing satisfaction by sewing professionally for others, but that wasn't enough. Especially, because that type of sewing limited my audience for "teaching" sewing, as well as limiting my time to actually sew for myself.

I love to teach and share. Anytime I can tell the world about sewing, whether one person at a time, or in a group, I am in heaven on earth.

That being said, shall we continue....
Culottes- McCall's 6965 Top- Simplicity 2281
I was trying to look serious on these pictures, since I'm always showing so much teeth in my pics, I thought it would be cool to look cool....."it didn't work!!"  LOL
simplicity 2281 top, mccalls 6965 shorts
I made this cute little outfit to take on the look of a dress/romper/jumpsuit.  Whatever you want to call a short set to me.

On the pattern envelope, the photos look as though there are pleats in the front, but it's actually the draping that gives the affect of pleats.
 McCalls 6965 shorts and simplicity 2281-top
I made View B for myself, although the only difference in the views is the length.  The flare starts at the hip line, which makes for an almost circle skirt.
 McCalls 6965-shorts and simplicity 2281-top
They had so much ease in them, you could almost cut three sizes smaller and just make up the difference in the waist seams.  The pattern measures 53 1/2 at the hipline for the shorts, I am 43, and thus you can see how that would just be too much.  I took out 7 inches of ease from 8 seams!  (The pattern has princess seams in front and back.) The hem width on each leg was 44 1/2 inches!!!
 McCalls 6965 shorts
The bodice of Simplicity 2281 was used to create the top by lengthening it by 10" and lowering the back opening by another 3 inches to compensate for not having a side zipper. There are no side darts, so to avoid the boxy look, I just curved the side seams slightly.
No changes were made to the neckline, sleeves and shoulders.  The drape of the sleeves are exaggerated due to the softness of the rayon fabric.

McCall's 6965:
Pattern Description says:  Flared shorts and pants (very loos-fitting through hips) have contour waistband, princess seams, back zipper, and narrow hem.

  • NOTE:-- the waistband did not seam contoured as much as it might appear on the pattern.
Fabric: Rayon challis from my stash--so old I don't remember where I bought it.

Alterations Note:  The reason I cut a size 16 was to get the correct fit of the crotch and waist because it matched my pant sloper.  After satisfying that prerequisite, I then made the changes in the seams to get the fit and flare I wanted in the hips.  I found it easier to fold out width and skimmer off the seams, than to redraw or deal with the crotch curve, which was perfect for me.  I did lengthen the shorts about 2 inches.

I think these are the cutest culottes/shorts for any age.  Next, I'll be making the palazzo pants.  Although, I know I will be removing so of that ridiculous ease.