Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Made By A Fabricista - "Boden" Skirt with Shetland Wool


And our next new Fabricista is.....Diane from Gatorbunny Sews! Some of you might remember Diane from last year's Fashion Challenge. We loved her style and are excited to have her here back on the blog.


~My Pinterest boards, like many of yours, are full of all sorts of “wanna wears” and “wanna makes”.  If you were to look at my boards you might say “This girl likes Boden clothing". Their clothes are classic but fun and their fabrics are never boring, something that speaks to the sewist in me.



Although it’s been unseasonably hot for a while where I live, I've been wanting to make something for winter and what better project than a Boden inspired skirt.  And I love this one!  It’s cute, classic, easy to wear and it gives me the opportunity to use wool, one of my favorite fabrics to sew with.



small plaid Shetland wool from Fabricmart  in muted violets and purples won out as my fabric choice but I would've been happy with this one or this one too (always the problem...choosing just one).  Shetland is a medium weight springy wool, that’s soft and easy to sew.  It doesn't fray and when you pin and sew, the fabric pieces want to stay together.




I chose Butterick 4686 View C skirt and made just a few changes.  I shortened the pattern 4” and lined it. I changed the order of construction by attaching yokes to the skirts on both the front and the back, putting the zipper in the back and  finally sewing up the side seams.  That way, I was allowed to make last minute fitting adjustments along the side seams without pulling the yokes apart. 



When working with a medium weight fabric, it's important to reduce bulk wherever possible.  I cut away the seam allowances on the fusible woven yoke interfacing and graded all seams.  Instead of using the outer for the facing (as the pattern called for) I used lining fabric.  It made for a smoother and less bulky yoke.  And any way I can make my middle section “less bulky”, I’ll do it (especially if it doesn't  involve giving up Reese’s peanut butter cups).



There are a hundred tutorials on how to put an invisible zipper in so I don’t need to cover that here, but for this pattern it was important to line up not only the skirt top but also the yoke. 



I sewed one leg of the zipper in, then closed the zipper.  I made a small chalk mark at the yoke seam (see above).  I then pinned the other leg of the zipper, making sure to match the chalk mark to the opposite yoke seam, then I basted it in.  




I checked to make sure everything matched, then sewed it in.  Can’t beat that for matched up seams.


So, my new favorite “Boden” skirt (for a fraction of the price!) is the first winter piece I made this season. Great way to break the ice, don't you think...so to speak?



Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Made By A Fabricista - Packable Wardrobe Part II


After receiving word from Fabric Mart that I could make up McCall's 6884 in the beautiful olive, brown, and silver wool sweater knit that I fell in love with over at their site, I decided that an outfit was in order, and that I would make the other pieces of this outfit.  I had some stash fabric for the tunic/top I made, but I knew I wanted to make an a-line skirt of something very fall-like, but that also wouldn't cost me a pretty penny to buy.



Literally the next day after receiving word that I would be using the sweater knit, I saw that a "buy the piece" Shetland wool in a pink and brown houndstooth came up for sale.  I love Fabric Mart's  "Buy the Piece" category, there are some amazing hidden gems there.  You don't get to choose the yardage, but all the pieces in that category are super discounted.  For instance, this bit of pink and brown Shetland wool normally sells for $25 a yard (though it is on sale today for $15--woo!), but the "buy the piece" I bought was for $10 for 3/4 yard.  So quite a bit of savings!  And after I received it, I noticed that the cut was closer to 7/8 yard, so a bit of a bonus on top of it.  

So after you count in the fabric costs, this skirt comes to around $15, since the lining came in a free bundle from Fabric Mart and the fabric on the waistband was from my stash (and I only used the wee-est amount).  I would call that a successful sewing project.  I know for a fact skirts like this, fully lined, with pockets, and in a thick Shetland wool (seriously so thick and warm), retail for closer to $100 and more at places like Boden and J. Crew.  On sale, at the very end of the season, you might be able to get a skirt like this for closer to $50, but by then all the sizes and colors have been picked over, especially ones in a fun color like this one is.  ;-)  Yay for sewing!



The one issue I had, and it is minor, is that I did have to carefully choose both the pattern I wanted to use and the placement of the pattern on the fabric.  I didn't want a pencil skirt, I knew I wanted an a-line, so that immediately limited me.  Many of my a-line skirt patterns are too full and so would not have worked with this amount of fabric, but Simplicity 2152 (http://www.simplicity.com/p-6164-misses-skirts.aspx
) is a perfect a-line silhouette, a bit fitted at the top and flaring towards the hem.  I was making this skirt up at the same time that Sewing Pattern Review was having their a-line skirt contest (http://sewing.patternreview.com/Patterns/68967) and I kept wondering which of the beauties I saw were based on this awesome (but sadly out of print) pattern.

Unfortunately I didn't have quite enough fabric for the patch pockets the pattern calls for, but I figured I could add inseam pockets to the skirt from the lining.  That worked out fine, though they gap a bit.  I definitely plan on using the patch pockets next time I make this pattern up.  Fortunately my lining fabric looks really nice with the houndstooth wool, so it is just a cool flash of contrasting fabric, but because I am persnickety, it does bother me a touch.




One of the things I did have to be careful of was placing the houndstooth properly with the pattern pieces.  In the end I chose to match brown houndstooth to the singular notches, and surprisingly, it worked quite well.  There are only a few places where the houndstooth doesn't line up, and overall the effect is that the plaid is properly aligned throughout!  Yay!




The skirt pattern is flattering for all shapes, but I love it on my pear shape since it highlights my narrower waist but gently falls over my larger hips and thighs.  I do have a very high waist and all skirts start super high on me, if the waistband is fitted.  I don't mind how high it hits on my body, but I want to emphasize that on most women, the waistband will fall much lower.  I made the view C of this skirt, and though it is meant to be almost knee-length, even with a 5/8" hem allowance, it falls above my knees.  Again, most women won't have to worry about this.  It is particular to my 5'8", high-waisted self.  

I made up the size 14, and it fits fine.  There are a lot of seams in this project, and if you so desire, the seams can be used to better fit this skirt to your particular frame.  The seams make sewing it up take a while longer (especially if you line it and use the same pieces as your basis for the lining), but again the time is worth it.  Seems most of my sewing ends with the phrase, "but the time was worth it!"  LOL.

I love how the lining looks, even if I know I could have sewn it in better.  I am still learning how to properly (and RTW) finish the insides of my garments, but slowly I am learning.  I love the mix of fabrics, even if the inside is less tidy than I want it to be.  I want to point out that the stash fabric I used for the interior waistband is the same print as the tunic/top, but instead of being the rayon knit, it is a very sturdy bottomweight made from cotton/lycra/poly.  The waistband is very sturdy and stands up well.  The mix of heavyweight wool/interfacing/bottomweight cotton is a good one.  It is a pain to properly trim and turn and sew (especially the hand sewing, eek), but again, "worth all the effort."  ;-)




Anyhow, I hope that you all will consider looking in the "buy the piece" category, especially at the smaller cuts!  It is possible to make something for you from these, you just have to be very crafty and careful with what you choose!  

Have a great day!  If you want to see the original blog post I wrote on the entire look, go to this blog post (http://blog.fabricmartfabrics.com/2014/11/made-by-fabricista-sewing-fall-packable.html

)!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Made By A Fabricista - Sewing a Fall Packable Wardrobe with Fabric Mart Woolens!

Next up on our new Fabricista blogger circuit is the winner of this year's Fabricista Sewing Challange Dina from My Superfluities! She and all of our participants this year did an amazing job and we are happy to have her join our team. 

~Every year, without fail, I go with my family to my husband's childhood home in Mississippi, for an extended visit.  Since we only get to the deep South once a year, my husband always schedules us to be there for around ten days.  Problem is we only bring two suitcases (admittedly the large ones--but we do have three kids, too!), and that means we don't have the luxury of packing ten outfits to last us the trip.  Instead we do what every good packer does--we bring a few garments and a couple pair of shoes and a few accessories that we can mix and match so we can create ten looks from fewer overall pieces.  

I like to pick a few colors to use as a base for my packed wardrobe, and this year when I was asked to write my first post for the Fabric Mart blog, and was asked to choose a project and some fabric, I knew that I had to do a garment perfect for fall (a sweater jacket based on a cardigan pattern) that would also serve as the base color for my mix and match packed clothing.  And because I am me, I couldn't just stop at one project from one fabric, I decided to buy a piece of Shetland wool from Fabric Mart, too, for a skirt, and use some stash fabric for a tunic/top that would mesh well with the skirt and sweater jacket.





I have made all three pieces, and I am so excited to share the results of the labor of love. 

 :-)  I have also picked out a few items from my closet (including a few I have sewn over the years) that will match with the three pieces I made for this post, so I am nearly done with my packing!  (And nearly two weeks early, woo! Thank you Fabric Mart for getting that chore started for me!)





The Sweater Jacket:

The main item is the sweater jacket which is based on McCall's 6844, aka the most popular pattern of 2013, a beautiful cardigan that can be made with an asymmetrical peplum hem, a regular peplum hem, or with a plain hem in two lengths.  I chose the most popular of these four, the asymmetrical peplum hem, since I wanted to have a piece that could be dressed up but wouldn't look ridiculous with jeans, either.  

Most people that have made this up in a fabric that is lighter weight than what I chose, the GORGEOUS Brown/Olive/Silver/Multi Heavy Weight Sweater Knit, which is still available at Fabric Mart.  http://www.fabricmartfabrics.com/Brown-Olive-Silver-Multi-Heavy-Weight-Sweater-Knit-50W.html

Since what I chose is very thick and heavy, and acts a lot like a felted wool, what I ended up with was less of a flowy cardigan and more of a structured jacket.  That said, because the sweater knit has a touch of stretch throughout (passed the knits test on the back of the pattern, but *just*), it does have more ease than a traditional wool jacket.  I even was able to sew the sleeves in flat, which I didn't expect to be able to do (woo!).  




There is a few things of note when working with a heavy sweater knit like this one.

1. It sews up beautifully.  I did use a jersey needle, which I am not sure I needed, but just to be safe I decided to go with it.  Even though I thought the sewing would be tough, the fabric responded well to the stitching and there were no skips, etc.  

2. It presses very easily.  I was surprised at how well it presesed, I knew that I would have to press the jacket seams, especially the ones at the arms, and all it took was a lot of steam on the wool setting, along with my tailor's ham.  I do plan on only dry cleaning it from here on out, though, don't want to mess with all that hard work I put into its construction.

3. It can be itchy.  I have no problem with wools, but my stepmother tried it on and couldn't have the wool knit next to her skin.  If you plan on wearing a jacket like this with longer sleeves, no big deal, but if you are planning on having it against bare skin and are sensitive, a lining may be needed.

4. The seams in some parts were VERY thick, especially at the shawl collar join to the main body of the jacket.  There were three pieces of wool seamed together there, and I had to fully reduce two of the seams in order to properly stitch the collar back to the body on the inside.  I did topstitch that part of the collar to the body, and the topstitching was a nice detail, and one that looks pretty cool in person, so again, worth the effort.

5. I decided to serge almost all of the seams even though I technically didn't have to...again done so I can be sure that the fabric won't unravel.  I didn't serge the hem bit, though, since the longer back peplum's wrong side does show sometimes.  

6. The collar does not easily stay open.  To fix this, two snaps (black-colored to not show when not in use) are used to keep the shawl bit tacked back when that look is desired.  I do really like the collar when it just lays there, though, especially when the back collar is popped up.  It looks quite regal like that.  You can also cross the fronts over each other, and because of the weight of the fabric, if it stays closed, would be a fine wind blocker.  I do need to add a belt to ensure that it stays closed, but you could just as easily add snaps for the same effect (much like the snaps were added to keep the shawl tacked back).  

Since I have not made this pattern with a lighter weight fabric, I can't say if the collar issue is specific to this fabrics weight and heft.

7. They suggest that the collar be interfaced, but this sweater knit has NO need for that.  I can only imagine how stiff it would be had I added interfacing!  :-)

8. Even though you *could* serge the entire jacket, I chose to not sew up the actual seams on the serger, and instead do so on my sewing machine with the walking foot.  I really felt like I wanted very precise seaming, and even though I feel more proficient on the serger, the sewing machine allowed me more control over the end result.

Notes on the pattern:

I took a size small, sewing up view C.  Because of the nature of the fabric and all the extra steps I had to add to treat the fabric well, this was not as quick of a sew as some sewers have found.  But again, even with all that time I spent on it, the time is well worth it.  I now own a perfect jacket that has flair in a great color that also is perfection for the falls we have here in the South.  (Our temps get cold--but not as cold as many parts of the country.  Especially in Mississippi, this may be the only piece of outerwear I will have to bring with me.  I will check the temps before I leave, though, just in case.)



The Skirt:

When I knew I would for sure be making up McCall's 6844 in the heavier sweater knit in the amazing brown/olive/silver color, I decided to take a chance on a fairly small remnant sold by Fabric Mart in their "buy the piece" category, a very pretty and fall appropriate piece of Shetland Wool in a pink/brown houndstooth pattern. http://www.fabricmartfabrics.com/Magenta-Dark-Chocolate-Houndstooth-Wool-Shetalnd-59W.html

I wasn't sure if Simplicity 2152 would fit on the 3/4 yard remnant I received, but it did!  

I definitely want to tell you more about this piece, since I put some really cool finishes on the inside, and the manipulation of the fabric and the pattern pieces on that teeny bit of fabric was a bit of a wonder, so please do keep an eye out for my next blog post for Fabric Mart, where I will dissect the construction of this skirt from start to finish.  



The tunic/top:

I love having items like tunics in my arsenal when packing for vacation because they serve a dual purpose.  The can be tucked into skirts (like I have done here) but they also can be worn with leggings for a much more casual look.  I decided to give Kwik Sew 3463 a go with this stash floral fabric of mine, along with pink foldover elastic, and I quite like how it turned out, and it looks just as lovely tucked in the skirt as it does on its own.  AND--here's my personal bonus and success, I made the entire thing, from cutting to finishing, in just TWO hours.  I never ever have done that before.  But after spending so much of my last week on the serger serging up the seams of the jacket and the skirt, I decided I now have enough control over it to properly seam up knits on the serger, and I did, and after making it in so little time, I had to pinch myself that I did it!  Yay!

What makes me laugh a little bit is that I fully made an exact copy of a dress I owned in 1993.  LOL.  I keep looking at it thinking if I just searched my dad's attic enough, I would find it hidden away.  I think I will take this one, though, since it is so soft and made for my decidedly non-teenager shaped body.



The Combo:Even though all three pieces have patterns to them, a jacquard knit with silver threading in the jacket, a houndstooth in the skirt, and a very bright floral in the top, they work together because they all share the olive/brown color in common.  The skirt's pattern and the jacket's pattern can also read as a solid from far away, so that in reality, only the floral seems striking from far away.

I also tried this jacket with a skirt I made last spring, also made from a fabric I found at Fabric Mart (I blogged about that skirt here: http://mysuperfluities.blogspot.com/2014/06/ootdsmade-by-me-files-floral-stretch.html

 I am still trying to see what top to match with the skirt and jacket, but I think I have a contender, and yep, it's in the packed pile!  

Eventually I will publish all the outfits I created using my base colors, and when I do that, I will make sure to email Fabric Mart and ask them to post the link in here so you can see them.  It is likely to be done in December, so make sure to pop back then!

Thanks for reading, and I am super excited that I was able to write up this post for Fabric Mart!