I totally agree with those of you who commented that you would like better pics. Unfortunately all of my photos from the evening were underexposed and not worth using. Hubby agreed to do another photo shoot so hopefully these are better. I find the photos the hardest part of doing this blog.
I also left out a few details in the previous post. I had originally intended to use Vogue 1460 as the bodice. I liked the drapey cowl neck and slight blousing at the waist.
I had planned to cut the sleeves off but the muslin toile just didn’t work. The neckline just didn’t work and I could never get the sleeve/armhole to work. I will give it another try but decided to go another direction for this dress. I had already cut the bodice pieces from silk and hadn’t enough fabric to ditch them. Time for a different style; a simple sleeveless with lowered neckline would work. The back was cut on the straight grain but the front was bias. That worked fine until I got to the bust darts. If you’ve ever tried to sew darts on bias, especially on silk, they are a nightmare. The solution was to sew them by hand with a tiny running stitch and ease the fabric until it was flat.
The tiny piping stabilized neck and armholes and will prevent them from stretching out of shape. It also adds a nice custom finish to the edges. The lining was understitched by hand to keep it from peeking out.
Front and back views; no selfies!
The back drapes softly and is left open. Self stick bra cups work great or you could close up the back seam to hide a bra. Please excuse all the wrinkles; I didn’t iron before the reshoot.
What is your interpretation of “beach chic” attire? This was for a very casual beach front wedding. If you google the term “beach chic” the attire most often suggested for women is a long sundress.
I had fabric purchased at Mood last summer in the stash. It was a silk crepe de chine panel print. Very interesting but would definitely require some creative cutting to make the most of the design. I had two panels and planned to use one for a long wrap skirt and the second for the bodice and trim.
Skirt draping started first. I have a professional style dress form which has been padded to my size. I find the effort spent constructing this saves so much time that I can’t imagine working without it now. The process I used is detailed in my post on April 25, 2014. How time consuming to drape and fit a design only to need to make alterations because the dress form is shaped differently than your body.
I basted a lightweight silk/cotton batiste to the silk and thread traced a reference line for the hip. Start at the left side which will be the skirt underlap and work around to the right side seam. At this point, just get the hip aligned; don’t worry about the waist shaping.
When you reach the right side seam, smooth the fabric downwards from the waist, which will drop the reference line. My post on November 3, 2015 also gives an explanation of how to drape this style of pleated skirt.
Form the first pleat. Second and third pleats are formed.
Shape the back darts, pin in place and thread trace. Thread trace the waistline. I’ve also placed a thread mark at the center back line
Next you want to accurately mark the front waist and the pleat shaping. I pin a narrow ribbon around the waistline. Remove the skirt from the form, being careful to keep everything pinned in place.
Now I cut the waistline seam leaving a 1 inch seam allowance.
I wanted the front overlap to gently curve from the hem to waist. An easy way to experiment with possible shapes is to use a length of leaded drapery weight. It is easily shaped yet is heavy enough to stay in place while you cut.
I had considered a lapped closure but as the bodice and skirt were attached the easiest solution was to insert a zip at the center back. How to do this with no back seam? I found inspiration from Valentino. Here is a center back invisible zip with a contrast satin welt.
Why not turn this into a design detail? Construct it like a narrow welt pocket.
The bodice was a simple scoop neck with tiny piping at the neck and armholes. It was cut on the bias so the design is shifted 45 degrees from the skirt. I left the center back seam open to the waist so ties at the back neck were in order. I used thin drapery pull cord; measured the amount needed for the neck edge and added about 15 inches to each end for the ties. The ends were done first, cording removed from inside and then a bias strip covered the center portion. The bodice was lined to the edge with the same lightweight silk/cotton and fell stitched to the piping seam line.
I must also mention that in addition to his medical practice, my husband decided to become a licensed U.S. Coast Guard captain, which gives him the authority to officiate at weddings. We are close friends with the bride and groom and they were thrilled to have him conduct the ceremony.
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):
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
When my fabrics arrived home Jenny had included a massive stack of swatches for future purchases.
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.
One of my latest projects has been to reshape the shoulder line on two Chanel jackets for a client. These are not couture but from the Chanel RTW line. Chanel does produce some of the very best RTW clothing and many of the techniques can be incorporated in home sewing. The first jacket was long, almost a coat. I’m not sure who they intended this coat to fit, but the sleeves were inordinately long. There is a white cotton cuff, attached by tiny buttons, which gives the illusion of a tailored shirt underneath. I’m fairly tall with longish arms so imagine how this looks on a petite figure! Also notice how the plaid matching is slightly off from sleeve to jacket body.
The sleeves needed to be shortened by a whopping 5.5 inches. In addition the shoulder was too wide and needed 3/4 of an inch removed and 5 inches of width removed from the body.
The width alterations needed to be done at the side back seam as that was the only seam without pockets or vent. Chanel leaves wonderfully wide seams in both the outer garment and lining. 3/4 inch or 2 cm. seems to be standard. Notice the hand sewn hem. Chanel also finishes each garment piece by individually overlocking so that taking in or letting out seams is a dream.
The sleeves needed to be shortened from the top down, leaving the working sleeve vent intact. My method is to remove the sleeves and open all seams except in the area of the sleeve vent. I certainly didn’t want to redo that detail! Trace off the sleeve patterns without seam allowances.
The completed sleeve pattern needed to be narrowed by 2 inches at the bicep, tapering to 1/2 inch at the hem. I slit the pattern and removed the excess width.
Place the altered pattern down the required length to be removed and recut the sleeve. I thread traced the new seam lines.
Notice that Chanel presses the center 3 inches (1 and 1/2 inches each side of center) open. The remainder of the seam is pressed towards the sleeve. The blue thread is my mark for the amount to narrow the shoulder when the sleeve is reinserted. I use Japanese basting cotton as it has some texture and tends not to pull out during construction.
Here is a second jacket getting similar treatment of narrowing the shoulders.
Notice the little shoulder pad with built in shape for the sleeve head. Here is my pattern for making these. I make my own shoulder pads and find them far superior to purchased ones, not to mention being almost free.
I posted two variations of shoulder pads Chanel uses in RTW on November 18, 2014. One of my readers, olden bears, kindly sent me pdf files for these and I’m inserting the link in case you want those patterns.
This post has been edited to link to a pdf pattern. Click on the above link and the pattern should open in pdf format.
(I’ve scanned the new pattern but don’t have software to convert to pdf. I think if you open the picture and print, scaling to 8.5 x 11 paper it should be close to size. The size isn’t too critical and you can add or subtract according to your shoulder length.)
Here is the pattern for another shoulder pad with a built-in sleeve head.
For each shoulder pad you will need to cut pieces 1 and 2 twice, piece 3 once and 4 once. Piece 4 is optional. Use it if you want an additional layer for more lift in the pad. Butt the edges together and sew. I use a three step zig-zag stitch.
You will have two (or three) dish shaped pieces. If using piece 4, place inside the sewn outer layer sections; Place piece 3 on top and pin the layers together.
Baste through all layers. I just discovered the basting stitch on my Bernina. Maybe I should read the manual. Your machine may have a similar stitch. Loosen the tension so you don’t wind up with a puckered mess like this.
Fit the pad over a tailors ham and steam heavily to set the shape. Let the shoulder pad dry before removing from the ham.
Completed jacket with a beautifully shaped and supported sleeve cap. I was also able to get a better pattern match between jacket body and sleeve.
Next step is the hem. At this point, the net underskirt is hand basted in place and will be removed to made hemming easier. Some sources advise a narrow hem for 4 ply silk crepe but in a skirt this luxurious I chose to use a horsehair interfaced 3 inch wide hem in the center front and two side front sections of the gown. The side back and center back sections were interfaced with bias strips of silk organza. The hem width tapered from 3 inches at the side seams to 1.5 inches at the center back. The narrower hem width allowed the fabric to be eased in along the curved edge of the train.
Now, with the gown completed, I hand sewed the net petticoat to the bottom of the corslet. Imagine wrestling all this to the sewing machine! There are times it’s just easier to do things by hand.
Now for the lace overblouse. I created a pattern by draping and manipulated the waistline darts into the bust dart and back side seam to avoid disrupting the lace pattern along the hem.
Here is a section of lace. The cat (NOT MINE, thank goodness), chewed one edge, but I was able to work around it.
How do you cut into 200 year old irreplaceable lace? VERY carefully, allowing generous seam allowances and using a muslin pattern which has been fitted over the gown.
Seam lines are traced with heavy cotton thread as a lighter weight thread pulls out of the lace too easily.
The buttons have been covered with 4 ply silk from dress scraps so they will match the gown perfectly.
The lace is backed with silk tulle and the two layers treated as one, just as when underlining.
After sewing the seams I trim all layers except one layer of tulle to 1/4 inch. Fold the raw edge of the tulle over and hand sew, binding the seam as you would do a Hong Kong finish.
Elastic looping finishes the back.
To finish the neck edge, I discovered two edges of the lace piece had hand appliqued trim. I carefully clipped the stitches and was left with a length of perfectly matching lace trim. This was simply hand appliqued back in place along the neckline.
Last item was the veil. Real silk tulle veils are luxurious and pricy but since the bride wanted a shorter length, it seemed a shame to stick a length of polyester net on her head. The edge of the veil would be finished with a narrow silk ribbon. Mokuba has exquisite ribbons and I found a shade of ivory which matched the gown. I had planned on attaching it using fine cotton thread and a fine double needle in the machine. Think again! The ribbon was so soft and the tulle so fine I had a balled up mess. Thank goodness it was on the test sample. Another reason to test, test, test your techniques. You never know when disaster will strike.
The only solution: hand sewing.
It actually went faster than anticipated and did allow me a great deal of control over the tension of the ribbon on the tulle. Working over a black surface made life easier also.
After the ribbon was sewn along each edge using 80 weight cotton thread, trim carefully along the ribbon edge.
The upper edge of the tulle was simply gathered onto a comb and stitched. An heirloom pin served as the headpiece.
View from the back, highlighting the luxurious drape of the heavy silk.
I came across this Donna Karan Vogue pattern. The jacket looked like a fun, easy to wear, garment. I also loved the interesting style lines and curved seaming.
First a word about size selection. I’ve found that it works much better to select your pattern size by your high bust measurement, NOT the full bust. I measure 32″ high bust and 34″ full bust. That would mean I should cut a size 12. Size 12’s are ridiculously huge on me. The neckline gaps open and the shoulders are HUGE. I go down two sizes and cut a size 8, which is 31.5 bust. That fits me much better in the neck, armholes, and shoulders, areas which are much more difficult to alter than side seams. I’ve found that the high bust is a truer measure of your bone structure and will give a better fit. You may need to alter for a full bust and/or fat tissue, but those changes are easier than the neck/shoulder areas.
Here is my first muslin, cut exactly according to the pattern. It’s shown on my form which is an exact duplicate of my shape.
Here’s the back view.
There is a huge amount of ease at the underarm along the side seam. In order for the side seams to match up the front piece needs to flare out away from the body. Not the look I’m after.
The side seam also flares out at the hem much more than I would like. The pattern line drawing looks to me like a fairly slim fitting jacket. I have a long torso and the waist also needs to be lengthened by 1 and 3/8 inches.
Here’s a view of the original on the left side and the altered version on the right side.
Changes to the pattern. The red lines are the new seam lines. I’ve raised the underarm and reshaped the armseye. I’ve also removed fabric from the collar at both the neck and front edge.
Style tape makes it easier to redraw this seam line. The triangle shaped section has excess pinned out which will be removed in the redraft. I’ve repositioned the bust dart for a smoother fit.
The altered flat pattern.
Most of the alterations are along the side seam and armhole. One major change is to reposition the grain line on the triangular shaped piece. I wanted more waist shaping but didn’t want to add additional seam lines to already busy lines. I placed the bottom and back edges of the triangular piece on an almost true bias and the front edge was slightly off grain. Stretch the bottom and back edges while steam ironing.
How it now conforms to the body curves and shapes the waist better.
The curved edge along the jacket front will also be steam stretched to hug the body.
The collar and front piece is basically a curved ruffle. Take a tip from Roberta Carr (her book: Couture:The Art of Fine Sewing) and do not clip this seam until after it’s sewn and then clip at precise intervals to control the ruffles.
If you try this pattern pay attention to the fabric choice. A softly draping tweed or loose weave will work best. Anyone else tried this design?
The last step in finishing was to add pockets. I played around with different sizes and debated two versus four. A great way to visualize size and placement is to cut pockets from shop towels (they are heavier than paper towels) and play around until you get the right look.
I had four larger buttons and decided to add them at the center front. They are sewn at the right front edge and don’t actually fasten.
I find it easiest to get pockets exactly the same size and shape by pressing the pocket around a cardboard template. I interfaced the pocket with bias cut interfacing which is cut just a tad smaller than the finished pocket. The bias gives the pocket a softer shape. I cut a slightly smaller template for the lining.
Slip stitch the lining to the pocket, attach trim and slip stitch to the jacket. Don’t catch the lining when doing this.
I had a chance to get a closeup look at some geniune Chanel jackets at an upscale resale shop on Madison Ave. and noted some distinctive details. Trims are applied after construction and are made to be removed if necessary for cleaning. More about my findings in the next post.
I was sidetracked by an request from my daughter-in-law. She was invited to join the hunt staff of our local equestrian team. Hunt staff wear red jackets and bespoke versions are a small fortune. Since I had made her wedding gown, she figured a jacket would be an easy task.
Just make a tailored jacket from a commercial pattern, right? Wrong. Riding clothing is another animal. We combined my research and her knowledge and came up with a punch list of what this garment needed.
*Roomy armholes with significant ease in the back to allow the rider forward arm movement
*Sleeves pitched much more forward than conventional clothing as the arm is held almost horizontal
*Abrasion resistant lining in the jacket skirt to resist wear
*Flared skirt with most of the flare at the back to cover the seat while in the saddle
*Warm lining as hunt season runs through the winter
*Slippery sleeve lining to allow the jacket arms to slide freely over shirts/sweaters
Mood Fabrics had a beautiful heavy wool/cashmere/nylon fabric. They also had abrasion resistant lining and wool flannel for the upper jacket lining. I drafted a fitting muslin from cotton canvas which mimicked the weight and drape of the wool better than lightweight muslin. Note the exaggerated curve of the sleeve.
The roomy armhole. I would never have guessed this much ease would be required.
The jacket fabric was thick and required loads of steam and heavy use of a tailors clapper to get things flattened into shape. I found it helpful to flatten the inside of especially bulky seams with a clamp from the hardware store. Get loads of steam into the fabric, clamp it down hard, and leave until it’s cold.
Also, don’t sew across the layers of intersecting seams. You can get a much flatter press by folding the seam allowances to one side and end the stitching at the seamline. Fold the seam allowances the other direction and begin stitching at the seamline. The seam allowances will remain free and press much flatter.
Inside the jacket showing the various linings used.
The color of the upper collar is unique to the particular hunt club; her’s is purple. The fabrics were so heavy and it was applied with traditional tailoring techniques.
Here’s the finished work.
I couldn’t resist using the leftover fabric for a matching jacket for the one year old. Fittings were a bit of a challenge on a squirmy baby but we got it done!
Mommy and daughter out for a ride.
After enjoying a wonderful Thanksgiving with family, I’m back with the finished jacket.
I had some dotted silk crepe in my stash and decided to use it for the lining. I attached chain at the hemline, adding weight so the jacket hangs properly.
Next post will be first steps in the boucle jacket. I’m still exploring options for trim. This is where many non-authentic jackets fall short. The wrong trim can turn your designer jacket into an upholstery project. I’m looking closely at the designer photos for trim ideas and will report. Thanks for following me.
Now that you have yards of assorted strips you are ready to start attaching them to the tulle under-dress. Only the right side seam of the dress has been sewn, so lay it out flat. Decide how long the finished dress is and mark a hemline 10 inches above the finished length. I used the polyester organza and cut a strip 21 inches wide and the hemline width plus 1 inch. Fold this wide strip right sides together and sew 1/2 inch seams along the short sides. Turn right side out and press only the seams; leave the bottom edge as a soft roll. Polyester organza doesn’t want to press flat, so the fabric will help to maintain this rolled edge look. Sew the strip on the line you have marked, establishing the finished length of the dress.
Now work your way up placing the strips as you like using the photograph as a guide. I hand sewed them in place as I feel that hand stitches make a softer, more fluid garment. You can also machine sew. The ultrasuede was difficult to hand sew, so I used the machine for those strips.
Stop at the waist. Decide the shape of the neckline and the placement of the uppermost strips. I used a double layer of the polyester organza, stay stitched the neckline and armholes. Then hand rolled the edges catching only the undermost layer of fabric.
Work your way down to the waist in the same manner. I found hand sewing the bust area much easier to control than machine sewing. Stop when you reach the waist. Sew a length of satin ribbon to cover the raw edges at the waist. Sew the left side sean inserting an invisible zipper. I also left a slit from the hem to mid-thigh.
Views of the inside showing rows of hand stitching.