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16 November 2009

Reality says "Ho!"

It took me a while to admit it, but... it was premature to start sewing before the attic was finished. The dining-room-as-sewing-room routine is not possible in this tiny, messy house. The windows on the attic will not be placed until 13-Jan-10. Until then, fabric and pattern fondling will be my only consolation... ah, yes, the good news? As I suspected, the size 14 toile of the Tilton jacket fits better than the size 16!

25 October 2009

Sagging after the suds

I am lazy. The clothes I wear the most are those that fit me well AND can be worn straight out of  the washer and dryer. If this jacket had any chance of being worn more than once, it had to withstand that treatment. And so the fabric had to go through it as well... The upholstery fabric samples were squares 68cm on each side. They aren't that anymore. Now they are rectangles, 64cm wide by 57cm high! This is a lot of shrinkage, but it is not the end of the world because there is still enough fabric for the jacket. I don't even have to change the layout of the various fabric patterns.

What is the end of the world is that the fabric became completely limp! Gone is the nice stiffness I hoped would so well match the jacket's off-the-body shape!!

Even after some careful ironing (which in retrospect obviously did more against the shrinking than the fabric's hand...) the fabric will never be its old stiff self.

I've thought a lot about what to do and I decided to go on anyway. The fabric is not completely limp; as you can see in the photo there is still some body left. Plus, since I have to use a different fabric for facings anyway, I've chosen a stiffer cotton duck. I definitely checked, and the duck doesn't loose its stiff hand after a wash and dry cycle. I'll use this duck as an underlining, giving the fabric more body. That will take care of the problem.

I hope these are not famous last words... wish me luck!

Ah, yes, another small detail. I made the original muslin in size 16, but I got the feeling that it was too big, and not just as part of the off-the-body design. So I made a size 14 muslin and indeed it fits better while still retaining the intended shape. No other modifications were necessary, so tonight I'll start cutting into the upholstery fabric.

22 October 2009

So far so good.

Pheeeew! The muslin for the Marcy Tilton jacket is finished and I'm happy to report that it seems okay for my pear shape. I know it looks terrible on the photo, but that is because the dummy is much smaller than me. On me the muslin looks fine.

It is indeed loose around the waist, but it does have shaping so it doesn't make me look like a solid cylinder. In fact, the curve of the hem from front to back helps my legs appear just a tad longer (and I'll take all the help I can get with that). A lot of the charm of this jacket is in the way it stands away from the body at the collar and hem. The muslin fabric is light and I didn't bother with facings, so it doesn't stand off the body as well as the examples on the pattern cover. The upholstery fabric I plan to use is much thicker and stiffer, so it should work better. So the lesson is: tops and jackets don't always have to be fitted, they just need to shape so as to define the waist.

I did think a while about the length of the jacket. Trinny and Susannah say that 3/4 jackets look okay on pears. Since I had no clue how long that is, I googled around a bit. All the examples I saw of 3/4 jackets have the hem of the jacket fall around wrist level (which also happens to be where my saddlebags are!). The Marcy Tilton jacket is 3/4 length at the sides and back, but a bit higher at the front.

I am ready to cut into the upholstery fabric. Since I would like for this jacket to be washable, I am going to preshrink the fabric. The upholstery fabric samples I'll be using are squares 68cm on each side. Let's see what happens...

15 October 2009

Turns out I'm a pear!

I just bought the book The Body Shape Bible by BBC's Trinny and Susannah.

They describe 12 body types for women and then give advise as to what clothes will or won't flatter each body type.

From their descriptions and the pictures I am mostly a pear, but with extra weight and age I've become somewhat of a bowling pin (actually I bought the UK version of the book, so they actually call it a "skittle"). 

Reassuringly, some of their advice matches the intuition I've developed over the years: skirts can never be above the knee, bias skirts are definitely out, and I should focus on shapely tops and jackets that mark my waist (what is left of it, nowadays) and take attention away from my bottom half.

My absolute favorite part is their advice that: "one of your main indulgences in life should be to start building a collection of amazing coats for every occasion and season." Hooray! One of my biggest fantasies has always been to make lots and lots of coats and jackets (and I have acted that fantasy out at many a fabric shop...) So I now have professional license to go wild! 

But wait a second. The Marcy Tilton jacket pattern I started working on is not at all shapely nor fitted. Yikes! Lucky then that I am first making it in muslin...

13 October 2009

The binge before the diet

Leave it to me to start "working through my stash" by (wait for it...) going fabric shopping!! Yup. The biggest fabric show of the fall (Stoffenspektakel) came this Sunday to my region and I had to be there. On the bright side, for the first time I did my homework in advance. I chose 3 patterns that I want to make and I brought them along to buy the fabric.

Nice, isn't it? In Vogue 2988 I especially like the stand-away collar of the jacket.

And no, it wasn't enough to only buy the necessary fabrics to make this wardrobe once. No, I had to buy two combinations... For the jacket I bought two fabrics: a nice double-sided oxford grey wool and a fancy red coating. Then, for the dress and skirt and pants I bought a wool blend in two coordinating houndstooth designs, 5-6m in total, AND a stretch wool in solid black and solid oxford grey, again 5-6m in total.

But no, this wasn't all...

The second pattern I brought along was V1117, a wrapped dress by Michael Kors.

But no worries, I didn't buy any additional fabric for this pattern, since I plan to use some of the extra fabric I bought for V2988 for this dress as well.
And finally, the last pattern I brought along was V8620, a wide-collared jacket from Marcy Tilton. For this jacket I felt so clever...
At a stand that was selling sample squares from upholstery fabrics, I bought 5 squares for €10! As you can see the squares match in color and texture but have very different patterns. There are polka dots, vertical lines, leaves, curlicues and flowers.

I am so excited by the prospect of combining these fabrics that I think I will begin my sewing with this pattern.