Monday, 25 March 2013

What happens in Baltimore

On the way to Baltimore

On the very first day of our French jacket seminar, the entire sewing group went to Mendel Goldberg Fabric store in New York. I popped in there just for a few minutes because I knew that despite the gorgeous fabrics you find in the store, the prices are extremely hight and start from $100 a yard (not even a metre!). My heart stopped beating for a few moments when I laid my eyes on the amazing fabric in this store, but it was too much for my budget. Instead, I went to B&J where I bought this lovely summer tweed for a jacket and skirt (3 yards) and crêpe-de-chine (4 yards) for a reasonable $200 in total. Well, I totally understand that Mendel Goldberg sell exquisite luxurious fabric from Dior, Chanel etc, but what I got was pretty much comparable in quality. After lunch, our group stopped at M&J Trimming to add trimms and buttons to our shopping bags.

My inspiration for the jacket (young, vibrant and happy) came from the Channel Resort 2012 collection and a piece in Burdastyle 02/2013 #107.



What attracted me most in these designs was the nice balance of neckline and hemline: casual and relaxed yet elegant and feminine. Let's see what happens at the first fitting!

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Pencil skirt - Part II

Yesterday, I worked on my pencil skirt until past midnight - but still didn't manage to finish it. Lots and lots of hand work which, even if repetitive, requires some concentration. Here's what I managed to accomplish by the end of the day:

Overcast by hand all the seams of the lining (three in total). To add some spice to the routine, I used red and black thread to overcast the edges.

Experimented with the waistband. Claire Shaeffer writes in her book that "only three techniques are used couture for finishing the waist edges of skirts and pants: the self-fabric band, the faced band and the faced edge". For my waistband, I went for a self-fabric band. If you want to make the same one, here are the steps. I did not follow 100% the order and directions from the book, but couture techniques are meant to be improvised:

  • I pinned Petersham ribbon around my waist to determine the length of the waistband. 
  • Using the Petersham ribbon as interfacing, I basted it to the fashion fabric wrong side up. 

  •  Right sides together, I basted the waistband to the skirt. Then I stitched it with my machine (this was the only seam which I machine stitched; all other seams were made by hand).
  • I pressed the seam towards the band, folded the raw edge inside and, using fell stitches, sewed the folded edge to the seamline.

The drawing from the book illustrating the technique which I used
So far my skirt is unhemmed and I need to finish the waistband by adding hooks and eyes, but I am so proud of the outcome that I can't help sharing it with you!

Hand-picked zipper from the inside 

Outside view. Even though the waistband is not completely finished, I am very satisfied with the end result.

Fell stitched waistband with remaining basting

Right side of the waistband: OMG I love this fabric!

Waistband from the front. 
Still deciding on the length

Unfortunately this skrit has to wait two more weeks because in just a few hours I am flying to New York and then to Baltimore to join Susan Khalje's French jacket seminar! After the seminar I'll spend a week with a friend from Susan's class who lives in Canada! More to come...

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Oh, a pencil skirt!

It seems like these days everybody is crazy about By Hand London, and I can see why. Simple yet classic designs, cool girls behind the brand, patterns created with love and care - a perfect addition to the band of indie pattern designers! I do love their patterns and especially their own interpretations: I love the fabric they use and the images they create with their photos! The prices are also quite reasonable given that the brand is new: I would definitely buy those patterns! Seeking to feminize and refresh my wardrobe, I've been craving for a pencil skirt - and the Charlotte skirt with peplum from By Hand London set my imagination alight. Besides, this gorgeous taffeta purchased last year from Mood Fabric was begging to become a pencil skirt! How could I refuse? 

But instead of buying the pattern, I've drafted it! Earlier this year, I committed to drafting more patterns vs. purchasing them (even for the sake of indie designers). My current pattern library is way too full. One day, having sorted through what I had, I realized that many patterns repeat themselves, and they are easy to draft! 

Don't you also find that drafting patterns not only reduces the number of junk things in your boxes but also contributes to the acquisition and perfection of new skills?! Since we studied skirts in my pattern-making class two years ago, I already had a sloper. A couple of adjustments and the pattern was ready in no time! 

I sewed this skirt applying couture techniques learnt with Susan Khalje last year in Baltimore and watching her course on Craftsy.  

The choice of silk organza as underlining was obvious: this taffeta is sort of stiff, but is very thin and wrinkles easily. Organza, treated with my fashion fabric as one layer,  adds a little more weight to the lightweight fabric and results in a better-looking finished garment. How often do you see a RTW silk or any other lightweight fabric garment which ends up looking like a sausage?! Well, underlining prevents this effect.

Another great quality of underlining: it helps to conquer wrinkles! Despite being a lightweight fabric as well, silk organza is very tough. Organza strips are often used as stays: they are difficult to break but are flexible by nature. And that is why I used them to reinforce the corners of the vent in my skirt!

I cut four pieces of silk organza and sewed them on to cover the corners. Now I am not afraid to take long strides and hear the "crack" of ripped seams. The organza scraps will keep my seams in place!

Have you also noticed how I attached the pieces of organza? I sewed them into the underlining! If the skirt was not underlined, I would have had trouble attaching the pieces of organza and the stitches would probably have shown through.

After I finished this post, I sewed a hand-picked zipper and added the waistband. More to come in future posts!