Tuesday, January 28, 2014

That Manequim top

Some months ago I mentioned that my sewing plans included making up #266 from the May 2013 issue of the Brazilian magazine Manequim. I finally did it. The top is a drapy pullover V-neck with lots of details that I liked, and some that I wasn't so crazy about: my version has no epaulets with "spikes."

The muslin I made last summer was not promising. (Rant appears here, in case you are interested.) Basically, the muslin revealed my misunderstanding of how Manequim works. I had assumed that, as in Burda, the clothes shown in the photos were actually sewn from the included patterns. Instead, Manequim's photos feature ready-to-wear clothes (clearly labeled with manufacturer and price, by the way), and patterns have then been drafted that are more or less similar to the RTW. In this case, it was less similar . . . though Melissa of Fehr Trade, who has much more experience with Manequim than I do, seems not to have had this issue, so I may have just been unlucky. The main problem was that the V-neck was quite a bit smaller than in the original:

Once I got over my surprise, this was an easy fix. I recut the pattern pieces so that the neckline was a little wider and considerably deeper. I also tapered the side seams in, from nothing at the underarm to a total of 4 inches at the hem, so I can wear it out sometimes, as opposed to tucked in, without looking like I'm swimming in it.

It's worth noting that this is a size 40, two full sizes down from what my measurements call for according to Manequim (not the same as Burda sizes). Like many Manequim patterns, this one comes in only one size. Looking at the photo below, I think it's too wide through my shoulders even so. I know this top is meant to be a loose-fitting style, but it would be beyond loose on someone who normally wears a 40.

This top needs a very drapey fabric. The version in the magazine was made from microfiber, and my first thought was to use silk, as I so often do. In the end, though, I thought it was a good use for a length of peachskin I had picked up at a Pattern Review swap several months ago. Maybe everyone else knows what peachskin is? I didn't. It's a drapey polyester fabric with a brushed finish that makes it feel somewhat like suede. I generally prefer sewing with natural fibers, but this was a pleasure to sew with and feels good.

Pattern review is here.

A note for TV watchers:
My husband and I obsessively watched the first season of a French TV series recently. The Returned (Les Revenants, in the original) involves dead people who start showing up, alive and well, in a beautiful alpine town . . . but it's not just another zombie show. The series has subtitles, lots of interconnected characters, and a delightfully eerie, creepy feel that reminds me a little of Twin Peaks.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A serendipitous pocket

Well, in truth, it's not the pocket itself that is serendipitous. In fact, this pocket is not going to be particularly useful for anything now that I'm done making it.

But it happens that the goals I listed in my last post included mention of welt pockets as a technique that has left me confounded. And then, ta-da, Carolyn of Handmade by Carolyn posted a very clear and detailed tutorial on double-welt pockets. What made her explanation work for me where others have failed is not only her detailed step-by-step approach with photos but also her description of where you have to be precise and just how precise you have to be.

Mine is not perfect—the sides are just a bit off vertical, and the upper and lower welts overlap a little at the ends—but it pleases me no end. I do need to figure out how to make a skinnier button loop without having my machine eat it as I sew. (I have a couple of ideas on that: get a throat plate with a smaller hole, and start with a wider bias strip so that the feed dogs on at least one side have something to grab onto.)

So now I have a pocket on a patch.

An entertainment note:
Along the lines of my earlier plug for GeoGuessr, which I still think is one of the best online games ever, take a look at Kern Type. The instructions read, "Your mission is simple: achieve pleasant and readable text by distributing the space between letters." Tell me I'm not the only one who finds this addictive, please!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Goals for 2014 and a skirt from 1999

Poor blog, left to languish all through November and December. I have in fact been sewing, just not posting. There are a few things to show once I manage a photo session or two. In the meantime, I've been thinking about my sewing goals for 2014.

Some of the goals are kind of general:

-Improve my technique. This is a perennial goal, and I am slowly improving, but I could work a little harder on this. How about zippers, invisible and otherwise? Why do they still make me nervous? If I just buckle down and do a whole bunch of them, surely they will lose their scary power. Welt pockets? I tried to follow instructions for them once and had a hard time -- but I've done a lot harder things in my life, time to try again.

-Sew more to my personal style. My usual scattershot approach -- what a great fabric, oooh this pattern looks interesting -- too often leads to a kind of mishmash of garments that can't be worn with anything else and don't even look like me. I'd like to be more thoughtful about making clothes that will fit well into my closet and that I will pull out to wear because they just feel right.

-But at the same time that I'm being more thoughtful about my choices, I'd like to sometimes have more fun sewing. Experiment more, let loose, try lots of things knowing that some of them won't work and not worrying about it too much. It's just fabric, and time. For example, I've had the Pattern Magic books for over a year now and haven't tried anything. What have I got to lose? It might be fun.

So all of the above are things I have worked on and will keep working on. But there are two areas in particular that I want to focus on this year, ones that I think are essential in order to improve my (sewing) life, not to be overly dramatic about it.

-Get more comfortable with blogging, which is to say, get more comfortable with taking and looking at photos of myself. I love the fact that there is this sewing community out there and I want to be a part of it. I am inspired and uplifted by the blog posts I read and the interactions I see. Aargh, why let silly self-consciousness get in the way?

-Learn how to fit my clothes better. I so often find that the fit of what I sew is off; my body is no longer the youthful, out-of-the-envelope shape that I like to think it once was. It's time to learn what needs to be done. Somehow this has stymied me, with all the different approaches out there. I have bought the Craftsy class Fast-Track Fitting with Joi Mahon and will start that soon. The book Fitting and Pattern Alteration is in my library; my first glances at it have left me with more questions than answers, but I will make a project of working through it this year. I would welcome some hands-on help, but I haven't found anything closer than Boston, and driving down there regularly will have to wait until winter ends.

In the meantime, to get some photos into this post, I've found some old pictures of an even older Burda skirt pattern I've made up twice. Yeah, it's from 1999. I loooooove this pattern. Here is my review of it from a few years ago. It has a nonbulky, no-waistband waist, and the O shape, as Burda calls it, works for me.

I may yet turn this into a TNT by making it up in some of the many skirt-suitable fabrics in my stash. The shape is even more outdated now than when I first made it, but by my reckoning it's due to come around again as a trend any time now. And then I'll be ahead of the game, right?

Fun things to do in the northeastern U.S.:
Quick, go see the exhibit Future Beauty: Avant-Garde Japanese Fashion before it closes on January 26. It's at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass. Really, it's very interesting, and much more extensive than I expected. No photography was allowed, sadly, so I can't show you anything here. Some of the clothes are just plain . . . weird. But some of them feel like epiphanies. The very best part is that there is a rack of clothes by various designers for museum visitors to try on.

Happy new year to all!