Join me in my adventures as I write romance novels and sew vintage and contemporary fashion.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Tale of Two Red Jackets

The Sewing

I recently made two red jackets--one planned and one on impulse--from lightweight polyester crepe. The first jacket is Vintage Vogue 1136, which I made to go with the sleeveless dress from the same pattern--the dress you may remember as the one that seriously challenged me with back bodice issues.

Although the fabrics came from the same swatch family in the mail order fabric catalog I favor and appeared to match well...

...once sewn into garments, they didn't.

I think I would have been more successful if I had used the red for the dress and the print for the jacket, but even then....

The jacket did look nice with my store-bought black knit pencil skirt, however, so that will be how I wear it.

I wasn't sure about the flanges at the sides, but my husband (a fan of the forties) liked them. I shortened the flanges about an inch, because they were just too long for my build.

I also had to shorten the back bodice about an inch so it hung better.

And, of course, since I'm living the curse of the bound button hole, I made seven of the suckers, --the seventh is set an an angle in the yet to attached peplum--using yet another method, which I'll probably torture you with in a future blog post. Nothing like sharing the pain.

After my customary battle with the bound buttonhole, I relaxed by sewing on neato black and silver buttons.

I like the sleeve detail a lot.

I made the shoulders pads using the pattern instructions and this time there were no issues.

The second jacket was made on a whim when I realized that the fabric matched one of the reds in my New Look 6514 dress.

I dug through my extensive pattern stash and came up with Simplicity 4230--a 2006 pattern that has zero buttonholes, which seemed perfect after making the my previous jacket. I made the black cropped version using the three quarter sleeves on the jacket above it.

I think the jacket looks nice with the dress and gives it a more businesslike look.

I used muslin as the interfacing for both jackets. I've never been a fan of fusibles, although they are useful under certain circumstances. Instead I use sew-in interfacing whenever possible, and muslin works really well for a soft drape.

And that's about it for the two red jackets. I still have some of the red fabric left and I'm thinking of using it for a nice 30's pattern I just got--just as soon as I have time to grade it up a size. I think the drapy crepe will look great in either style.

The Writing
Before I sign off, a writing update. I turned in my final proofread of Cowgirl in High Heels and am now at work one the last book of The Montana Way series, Shae's Story. (That's the working title.) I'm also playing around with some proposals and a novella, also set in Montana.

I'm writing in the morning, sewing between 10:00 and 11:00 before the power goes off (I live off the grid for those new to the blog) and trying to get a little more sewing in during the evenings--although catching up on the fifth season of Breaking Bad and the new Project Runway is playing havoc with my evening schedule.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Vintage Vogue 2787—Done at Last

Where to begin?  If I were given a sewing word association test, part of it
would go like this:

Analyst: "Vintage Vogue 2787"
Me: "Shoulder pad nightmare."

And indeed it was, but more about that later.

Once I found the proper shoulder pad solution I came to love this dress. I really like the S-curve down the front with the asymmetrical gathers (ruching?) I'm all about asymmetry, so I enjoyed putting the bodice together. I wish I would have shortened the torso about an inch, but live and learn.
Finally--something to wear with my impulse buy  silver heels.

The simple darted back has a six-button closure--there was an option for a 7 inch zipper closure, but I enjoy making button loops--and  a side lapped zipper. I apologize for the glare--this fabric resists proper photography by reflecting the flash, no matter what angle I approach it from.

Originally I wasn't wild about the super high neckline, which isn't especially flattering on me, but it gives the dress a kind of cool almost Asian-inspired look, so I've made my peace with it.

The back is simple and fit well.

The fabric is a buttery soft polyester charmeuse that I got from Vogue Fabrics.  If this dress had been a miserable failure, I would have ordered more of this fabric and made it into something else.

And now onto the shoulder pads. There were instructions to make shoulder pads, which I did,

but they didn't work with the charmeuse. I mean they really didn't work. Below is a photo of the dress with the shoulder pad I eventually used and the pad that I made from the pattern instructions.

You can't see it, but the fabric kind of rolls under the awkward shoulder. I thought maybe that pad needed nudged out closer to the end of the shoulder. This is what happens when I did that.
That now amplified roll is not the end of the shoulder pad. It formed from the way the fabric draped after I nudged the pad out. I then pushed the pad farther in and if anything it looked worse--like I had a growth in the middle of my shoulder. I tried all the ready-made pads I had laying around, positioning them this way and that, and the only ones that worked were the raglan pads shown in the comparison photo above.

So why didn't I just use those pads? Because they are expensive lambswool (I think) pads I bought for a light wool jacket I cut out late last winter and then stored away once the sun started shining. I bought the pads at Britex--about 500 miles away--and didn't want to deal with mail ordering another set and paying postage, or even trying to figure out which ones they were (I should mention that I cannot buy shoulder pads in my town--we are a shoulder-padless society here) so I decided to make my own.

I drafted a pattern,
cut it out of fleece batting

sewed it together

The first of the two inner layers
and came up with a reasonable facsimile. And (get this!) these shoulder pads cost a grand total of $0.77! Yes, seventy-seven cent shoulder pads saved the day. Now I can make my wool jacket as soon as the temps drop below 90 degrees.
Original pad on left. Mine on the right.
Here are a few more dress photos:

This last photo is me gearing up for the new school year. Here I am demonstrating a low-voltage teacher death ray.

Pretty effective, eh?

And that's it for Vintage Vogue 2787.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Back from Conference

At the Harlequin book signing event.
The Writing
I've just returned from the Romance Writers of American National Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, energized and ready to write. I think the most valuable thing I took from this conference--other than a warm glow from meeting up with friends and professionals in the writing industry that I see once a year, and attending the awesome Harlequin party--was the feeling that I'm ready to stretch my wings a little. I'm going to try some free writing with no particular audience in mind and see where it takes me. And I'm also going to work on the book due in September because time is slipping away. As I see it, I have at least three weeks of solid writing before I have to think about getting ready for the school year, and I plan on those weeks being productive.

The Sewing
I only took one dress that I made to conference. I had mighty plans to bring several, but due to many circumstances, most of which had to do with me
messing up, I only had one dress and jacket that felt conference worthy.

I made New Look 6514 out of an Italian cotton remnant I brought at Britex in San Francisco and lined it in poly cotton. The cotton was wonderful to work with, but it did tend to wrinkle easily, so I packed a can of spray sizing for the trip. Problem solved, even if the can added quite a bit of weight to an already heavy suitcase.

The construction of this dress was very straight forward. I cut the bodice pieces out separately so that I could match the design across the front and back. I'm especially pleased with the back--there's a zipper in there!
The zipper installation is different that any I've done before. The center back seam is not basted shut. The right hand side of the dress is pressed under 1/2 inch and the zipper is sewn to the fold.
The left side is done is two steps--one below the waist and one above.
Here's the below the waist area. I used tape to mark the stitch line and top stitched on the outside.

Then I did the same for the bodice.
I just love cellophane tape.

Instead of facings I fully lined the dress. I didn't want to make facings on top of the lining, due to bulk, so I cut facings out of fusible interfacing and fused them to the bodice lining:

I accidentally got the perfect amount of stability using this method. Yay! 

And now the reveal! Here I am in my natural habitat, where I wouldn't normally wear a white cotton dress:

And guess what? I'm going all matchy-matchy. Yes. I'm carrying a patent purse with patent shoes because I've decided that I like matching.

This is the red jacket I made out of the fabric I'd bought to make a different jacket.
 I didn't wear the jacket at Nationals. It will be the subject of a future blog--The Tale of Two Red Jackets.

I'd like to mention that my skirt is suitably poofy due to the layer cake crinoline I made using Gertie's excellent instructions which you can find here.
It really does a nice job of giving the skirt some body. I did discover, though, that if one uses poly organdy, one should wear another slip under it. Poly organdy is not skin friendly.

And here I am at conference in my dress. I wish my camera would have cooperated, but it didn't. You probably get the idea, though.

An lastly, this has nothing to do with this post, but this is the cute and fearless little night hawk that sleeps on my husband's folded lawn chair during the day. I just love him.