Category Archives: Fabric Shopping

The Chanel Style Tunic

For the backyard wedding, I wanted something easy, yet elegant. When you’re the resident dress designer/maker, showing up in something not of your own creation doesn’t work! I had my hands full with the bride, mother of bride, bridesmaids, etc. but managed to crank out a tunic style dress with Coco (and Karl) in mind.

My starting point was fabric from the Haute Couture section of Mendel Goldberg Fabrics. I chose a wonderful French boucle highlighted with tiny sequins woven into the fabric. With careful planning, the dress required only one yard of fabric; here is what was left over.

Boucle scraps

I used my basic pattern block and made the following adjustments. If you start with another tunic style pattern, and want to get this look, make sure your pattern has a high, jewel neckline. If your pattern has a lower neckline, the collar might be too large and will stand away from the neck.

Basic Sloper combine darts

Close the armhole and shoulder darts, combining them into the underarm dart. Angle the new underarm dart towards the lower edge.

Final Pattern

I chose to eliminate the front fisheye darts and transfer some of the dart shaping to the side seam. The bib placket drops from just outside the neck edge to the bust line. I played with shaping the bib wider at the top and tapering slightly but that design created a problem with trim placement. Having the bib placket the same width from top to bottom allowed the trim rows to be evenly spaced. The back was used as is with fisheye darts. The shoulder dart will be eased. The skirt was pegged about 3/4 inch from low hip line to hem.

Next I drafted a collar and stand. Some drafting books suggest curving the collar stand about 1/2 inch but I find the stand will hug the back neck better if more shaping is used. I’ll increase the curvature of the stand by shaping with a steam iron.

Collar patterns Stand pattern Collar offset curve-runner.jpg

All collar pieced are cut from cardboard which will help when pressing. I’ve also cut a collar lining pattern 1/8 inch smaller to keep the undercollar out of sight. The Curve Runner makes measuring curved edges easy; very helpful when drafting collars to fit the neck.

The cardboard helps when pressing seam allowances under and ensures the collar is perfectly symmetrical. Fell stitch the under collar to upper collar.

collar-cardboard.jpg under-collar-cardboard.jpg

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Pressing over cardboard also helps shape the collar stand. I used satin faced organza to line the collar, stand and as a base fabric for the bib. This organza is more opaque and stiffer than regular silk organza and is harder to shape into a smooth curve.

Collar band

Collar 1 Collar 2

Designing trims for the placket was the most fun part. I used the same satin faced organza as a base fabric and applied multiple layers of ribbons and braids. Most were sewn on by hand to maintain a soft, couture feel.

Designing front placket Front trim

I had some leftover tweed from Linton. I save my scraps of tweeds and boucles as there is often wonderful trim hiding in the fabric. Linton fabrics are woven with continuous strands so un-weaving produces a long continuous length of trim. I also used the fringed selvedges from the French boucle.  Also found great buttons!!!

Linton tweed Front buttonholes

Hem trim Hem 1

I had just enough scraps to cut bias strips for a hem fringe. Two layers of cotton batting padded the center. A blunt tapestry needle helps to un-weave the edges.

Finished tunic

Finished! Here’s a glimpse of the inside. Silk crepe de chine fell stitched to armseyes and placket. Side zip makes it easy to get into.

Inside view Side zip

Chanel Tunic full length

Next post will detail the design and construction of the bride’s outfit.

 

 

 

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Filed under Cloning Designer Garments, couture sewing, creating designer trim, Drafting Patterns, Fabric Shopping, Uncategorized

Embellished Sleeve Jacket

Jacket Front

This jacket was inspired from a Chanel couture collection.  For the jacket body I used a lovely open weave boucle from Mendel Goldberg Fabrics. The fabric is a very open weave and needed to be backed with another fabric for construction. I used a lightweight ivory wool crepe and quilted the two fabrics together along horizontal stitching lines. Thank goodness I used quite a bit of steam on the fabrics before quilting as the boucle tightened up with steam.

Steamed boucle  Wide seam allowances prevent too skimpy seams and the walking foot kept the layers from shifting during the quilting process.

The fun part of this jacket was designing the sleeves. I used two layers of silk organza as a base for the trim.  Scouring NYC’s garment district turned up nothing for a ruffled trim. I had planned on using butterfly pleated organza ribbon but absolutely no one had any. One store offered placing a custom order but the minimum was 100 yards and 6-8 weeks time frame. No choice but to make it.

I decided polyester organza would actually work better than silk. Silk fabric creases and presses much better than polyester but I wanted the ruffles to hold their shape so the wiry nature of polyester was an advantage. I cut strips of organza along the lengthwise grain and finished the edges with a narrow ziz-zag stitch; stitch width of 1.8mm and length of 0.5mm on my machine worked well.  The strips were gathered down the center and drawn up to a 2:1 fullness.

A narrow beige ribbon layered with gold tubular yarn from Linton was sewn down the center with a serpentine ( width 5.0, length 1.25) stitch.

Make organza trim Place Ribbon Linton Yarn

The garment district did yield several suitable trims, including a gorgeous sequin banding. The double organza sleeve was sewn along the back seam, leaving the less obvious front seam open. Seam and hem lines had been thread traced to ensure the trim fit the finished sleeve. Trim was arranged, keeping the sequined trim and ruffles out of the underarm area. The sequin banding was catch stitched on the wrong side to prevent sagging as the jacket was worn.

Trim Placement Sleeve Underside

Excess sequins removed from the seam allowances and ends of the braids are steamed and flattened before sewing the seam.

Finished sleeve trim

 

Jacket Sleeve

The black jacket is also complete. Fringe from the selvages was paired with a soft, flexible braid. I opted for a custom made zipper from Botani.  They use Lampo (Italian) zippers and you can choose tooth color, tape color, pull and length. The small 3mm size works well for this.

Black Jacket Black jacket closeup

Next project is a Chanel inspired summer tunic and playing with more trims. Thanks for reading.

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Filed under Cloning Designer Garments, couture sewing, Fabric Shopping, French jacket trim, French Jackets, Uncategorized

Scottish Tartans

What do you do after visiting Linton Mills? Head north into Scotland in search of authentic Scottish tartans. Our destination was Lochcarron in Selkirk, Scotland. After a detour to the Barbour outlet in South Shields, we (actually hubby) drove for hours through the Scottish countryside. These places aren’t exactly located in the most metropolitan areas.

Lochcarron weaves their tartans at their own mill and stocks hundreds of tartan patterns in all weights. It is one of the few remaining mills to keep production local rather than outsourcing. The factory shop isn’t the easiest to locate, even with GPS help, so we were thrilled to finally see the Lochcarron shop. A near disaster ensued! I had emailed the shop prior to our trip but somehow the “closing for inventory” day was missed.

My husband is not one to be put off by a “CLOSED” sign, pleaded our case of flying all the way from the US, driving for hours and persuaded the staff to open the doors. What a wonderful experience! Jill and her staff couldn’t have been more accommodating. I was shown book after book of samples. The various weights of tartans explained and we browsed through a wonderful selection of goods. I finally selected three pieces of Reiver (the lightweight):

Locharren Tartans

The top fabric is a black tartan. The weave is formed by alternating stain with plain stitches and then the piece is dyed black. It results in a subtle plaid. I have seen it referred to as Dark Island; Lochcarron calls it Dark Douglas. The middle piece I haven’t yet decided what to do with. The bottom tartan will be made in some variation of an Alexander McQueen design from his Widows of Culloden Collection.


I’ve done variations of other McQueen designs. Some need to be modified to be wearable.

 

 

Some combination of the plaid cut bias with black lace.

Tartan Drape
Vintage looms are still in use.

After a very long day of driving, shopping and more driving we finally arrived at the West Plein House, a delightful B&B just outside Stirling. Our hosts, Moira and Tony, greeted us with tea and a comfortable room. Next morning, haggis was served at breakfast. If you want the recipe, I’ve included a link. Haggis is best eaten after you’ve consumed sufficient whiskey! I tasted a bit but preferred Moira’s eggs and oatmeal.

The remainder of our trip was filled with the sights of Stirling (Stirling Castle, Bannockburn) and Edinburgh complete with watching a rugby match in the pub.

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Visiting Linton Mills and Meeting Kate from Fabrickated

I’m sure many sewers have heard of Linton Direct, the fabric mill in Carlisle, England, where many Chanel fabrics are woven. It is one of the few remaining sources of artisan quality fabric. Many fabric mills have relocated to Asia and this was a rare opportunity to see where the fabric is actually made.

My husband knows very well my passion for sewing and Chanel (I’ve dragged him to Chanel in Paris a few times) so when I mentioned Carlisle was ONLY a 4 hour train ride from London, he replied with “Why don’t we go!” How many men would allow themselves to be dragged across the pond, catch the morning flight to Edinburgh, rent a car and drive (on the wrong side of the road) 2 and 1/2 hours to Carlisle?

I had emailed Jenny at Linton and was dismayed to learn that the town had been horribly flooded in December. Cumbria in the English Lake District, had torrential rains and the River Eden had overflowed. Many shops were damaged, including the Linton retail shop. The actual fabric mill had been spared. Jenny and her staff had set up a temporary facility across the street and I was welcome to visit. They are presently repairing the damage and hope to have the retail and coffee shop open in early March.

Shop manager Jenny Bell and Tracey were amazing. Even though they were working under less than ideal conditions, the all fabrics were displayed and they helped me select several fabulous pieces. (I’m a little ragged after 24 hours of travel). Tracey left, me center, Jenny right.

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My acquisitions. We all know about the ever growing fabric stash! Hubby was very happy they were being shipped home and not taking space in the luggage

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Inspecting yardage on the light table. Every inch of fabric is examined for flaws and any found are corrected. Notice the heater and down vest. They certainly pushed on through not optimal circumstances.

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When my fabrics arrived home Jenny had included a massive stack of swatches for future purchases.
Swatches

The next day we headed north on a long, circuitous route to Selkirk and Stirling, Scotland where I had more trips to fabric mills and tartan shopping planned. More on that journey in the next post.

Our trip ended in London where I met Kate of Fabrickated. We had arranged to meet Kate and her husband Nick at the British Museum. Have you ever dragged your husband to meet another sewing blogger and her husband? Kate and Nick were fabulous. After tea in the members lounge we toured the exhibits. The men were so engrossed in conversation we almost lost them several times in the museum. We were invited back to their flat for some wine where I saw first hand Kate’s sewing space (it was much neater than mine!) and then treated to dinner at a neighborhood restaurant. I certainly hope we can meet again. Kate, please feel free to share the photo of us at the Rosetta Stone.

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