Friday, August 26, 2011

Bon Voyage! And Jumpsuit Reveal!

Knock on wood: it looks like my cruise is going to happen. We are departing Orlando tomorrow and sailing to the Bahamas, St Thomas and St Maarten. Wish me luck that my flight gets out this afternoon. We leave for the airport in about an hour. 

To get me in the mood for some R&R, here is the final reveal of my jumpsuit!

With white accessories - cruise chic.

And disco fabulous with gold accessories.

I have to tell you, I'm rather happy with the results. Don't I look ready for a mojito and not for prison? In my mind, I'm already sipping a drink with a little umbrella in it while the sun sets over the Caribbean. Ahhhh... Plus, I've already got about 3 occasions that I plan to wear the jumpsuit to. 

A few details:
  • I initially had trouble with the invisible zipper being invisible and laying flat. Once I added interfacing in the zipper area and focused on rolling the zipper coil open as I fed it through my invisible zipper foot, it was a cinch.
  • The only other problem I had with the pattern was dealing with the bulk at the top neckline - there are many layers of fabric there. Strategic trimming and understitching was key. Even so, I ended up topstitching to make sure that the lining wouldn't peek out the top.
  • Boning is not scary at all! It was easy to use so long as I didn't accidentally sew over it (broken needle for sure). And steel spiral boning is very comfy to wear.
  • I am officially a big fan of the waist stay. The matte jersey I used is pretty heavy, and without the stay (made of 1" petersham and bra hook tape) it would pull the garment downward (ie: tug tug tug to keep it up). With a waist stay, the jumpsuit is tug free. Everything stays where it should be and I didn't have to make the top ridiculously tight in order to keep it up. I have no idea why all strapless, boned dresses don't have waist stays; it's a marvelous and easy solution to any insecurities about the dress staying put.
  • Because I was unsure about using boning and constructing a waist stay, I bought the Craftsy on line class, The Perfect Fit Bombshell Dress with Gretchen Hirsch of Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing fame. She covers both in this class, as well as a number of other good techniques for muslining, fitting, etc. It was worth it IMHO. But if taking the slow and hand-stitched approach is not your speed, it probably isn't for you.

Not so pretty on the inside, but very functional!

  • Finally, a few fellow bloggers deserve credit for the small, invisible stuff that helped make this project come together. Peter (the Bold One) suggested stitching the boning casing closed at the top and bottom so the bones stay where they should be. This was very good advice. Sherry wrote an excellent tutorial on sewing a handworked thread loop and button instead of using a hook and eye at the top of a zipper. My results are a bit less perfect than hers to say the least, but this was a great skill for me to add. (Plus I really hate those stupid sew-on hooks and eyes.) And finally, I picked up a great tip for adding hanging loops that will lay flat and not hang out when you wear the garment from Lindsay T's blog. Thanks, everyone!

So, I'm off! I've decided not to take any sewing with me - I just wasn't happy enough with how the project dress sleeves are fitting to cut fabric yet. So this will be a real vacation. Happy sewing everyone! I hope you all have a great week while I'm away and those of you in the path of Hurricane Irene stay high and dry.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

And the Winner is...

We do things a bit analog here at Clio & Phineas. Since it was out on the bed waiting to be packed, I had Phin draw a name from my beach hat. Drum roll please, Phin....

The winner of the Threads Magazine issue #135 is

Sophie (Sophiemiri)

Sophie, just send me your address and I'll get this out asap -if not before I head to the airport tomorrow, then as soon as I get back (Labor Day).Shoot me an email at Clio[dot]Phineas[at]gmail[dot]com

Speaking of travel, things are looking a bit more optimistic for my flight. We should be able to get out before Hurricane Irene arrives in the NY area. And if we do, I will be flying first class thanks to a free upgrade! (It really pays to be a frequent flier.) Wish us luck.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Project: Muslin 2.0 and a Giveaway

So, thanks to a 4 day weekend, I've finished my jumpsuit (haven't photographed yet) and worked my way thru 2 muslins for Vogue 1162 - the project dress. 

Muslin 2.0
The weekend was not without mishaps. Muslin 1.0 was a hot mess. I had initially cut the muslin in a size 14 on top, graded out to an 18 on the bottom. Once basted, it was gigantic...everywhere. The top was so large that I didn't even know where and how to start fitting it. After several moments of utter panic, I came up with a new plan: cut a size 12, but with larger seam allowances on the vertical seams so that I could let out the hip and thigh. I'm sure there's a lesson somewhere in here about starting with the right size and thinking in terms of letting things out/doing an FBA rather than cutting a garment too large and then struggling with taking it in, which I seem to do again and again. Lesson learned, I hope. 

So, the only flaw in this "cutting a smaller size" strategy was that size 12 is in one envelope (sizes 6-12) and 14 is in another (sizes 14-18). So, I had to call some local fabric stores to see if anyone had V1162 in stock in the smaller size. Lucky for me, Fabricland did. However, this meant paying full price ($30) rather than ordering it for $3.99 on sale at Vogue right now. Oh well. I'm on a deadline.

So, I think for a first shot in the 12, which I did ease out at the hips, muslin 2.0 is looking very not bad. It needs to be let out a scooch at the bust, and the bum (not pictured). But other than that, I think it just needs some minor finessing here and there. What do you think?

I cut the sleeves in muslin also. I plan to baste them in tonight just to make sure that they will work in a size 12. That way I can cut them in the garment fabric and take the hand sewing away with me. Speaking of which, cross your fingers that my flight on Friday and cruise on Saturday are not cancelled by Hurricane Irene. (Thank goodness I bought trip insurance!) At least I have a project to keep me busy if my trip is a bust.

Give Away

One of the things I did to prepare for this dress sewing marathon is buy Threads issue 135 (Feb/Mar 2008) which has an article by Susan Khalje on sewing the perfect Little Black Dress. It arrived on Friday. Um, twice. Somehow, I must have clicked two times or something, but it appears that I ordered two copies. So, my unexpected gain is your gain, too. Just let me know in a comment (by Wednesday - midnight EDT) if you'd like the magazine and I will do a drawing for it. It has some terrific articles in addition to the LBD one including articles on 5 essential hand stitches (I'm already practicing my pickstitch), Creating Couture Lingerie, Underlinings vs Interlining, Bias cut sleeves, and an interview with Charles Kleibacker. It's a really good issue.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

In the Mood for another Groupon?? and Further Thoughts

FYI - Groupon is offering another "$30 of fabric for $15" at Mood right now. This one is for on-line shopping only. So, get em here. Again, I have no affiliation other than a burgeoning fabric addiction (Mood) and love of a good deal (Groupons).

On to today's thoughts! Most important, thank you all for the advice and encouragement that was offered on Friday's post about my big dress project. I am bowled over by the thoughtfulness of the responses - thank you, thank you! This really helped me organize my thoughts.

First, it may not have come across, but let me just say it: I'm terrifically excited about this project!!! I know there will be moments when I want to pull my hair out, but I've got hair to spare and a purple wig for when I run out. I'm nervous, but it's in a mostly good way. And I'm feeling much more confident since posting. Does that happen to you? Once you say a fear or hope out loud, suddenly it seems much more manageable. Or is that just me?

Next, here's where your advice has already helped:

Tailor tacks/thread tracing in silk thread for the markings -  Yes! Why didn't I think of that?

A few classes with a teacher  - Brilliant! I hadn't thought of that, but am looking into it now.

Hand sewing - Honestly, I've never made one of my big mistakes while hand sewing. You can see mistakes coming from far off, unlike with a sewing machine. And it's easy for me to commit to doing shorter bursts of hand sewing each night than it is to get behind the sewing machine. So, I'm adding this to the "plus" column.

Needles, thread, etc. - I will not be skimping on whatever tool or notion is right for the job.

The hem - the dress is lined, not underlined. But I was definitely thinking that the hem, which is self faced, would be sewn to the lining so it's invisible.

The floral sleeves - It comes down to whether I want the flowers to be crisp (organza) or soft (georgette). I've ordered fabric for either scenario and will test. Feel free to weigh in. 

Bra cups - Funny, but " just tack 'em in at the end" was pretty much the only instructions that Vogue gave for them, too. Seriously, it's the very last step (#71 of 71 steps) and it's all of 10 words long... like the technical writer ran out of steam and gave up at the end. ha ha ha   

So much of this project hinges on the fabric. I'm just going to have to test test test everything - interfacing, stay stitching, different pins and needles, bias cut silk for the piping (shudder)... I over-ordered fabric by about half a yard so, in addition to scraps, I should have plenty of fabric to test on and a little wiggle room.

Really, there were so many good nuggets of advice in your comments! And now, I'm amassing supplies. Today I actually bought myself a thimble. Can you believe I didn't have one? Anyway, stay tuned.

PS - Thanks to commenter Sherry, who suggested that since crepe back satin may stretch, I may want to stabilize the zipper area. I think this must be why I'm having issues with the zipper on the jumpsuit. It's matte jersey, and I didn't stabilize the pants portion, and it's coming out all wonky and non-invisible there. Fingers crossed that this will solve the problem.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Bit off More than I can Sew?

We're not going to talk about my jumpsuit again today since I'm having a little bit of trouble with the invisible properties of my invisible zipper. Instead, lets talk about my next project, which is going to be a project.

Back in May, I started thinking about what I wanted to wear to my dear friend Magenta's wedding at the end of September. Magenta is a photographer, has a great sense of style, and is enormously creative. So, it seems only right that I make a dress to wear on her special day.  Here's the pattern I picked.

Vogue Bellville Sassoon (V1162)
I bought this pattern quite a while ago, knowing it was well above my skill level at the time. My skills have come a long way since then, and I'm sewing with a lot of confidence these days. But I'm still not entirely convinced that I'm equal to the challenge. Or the fabric I picked, for that matter. After lots of swatching, I ordered a beautiful red crepe back satin (100% silk) for the dress, matching silk georgette for the sleeves and ruffle around the neck, and organza facings. We are not going to discuss how much I spent on fabric; it was a real splurge. 

Here's a preview of the things I'm already thinking about:
  • the front of the dress, with all it's tucks, could present some challenges if I need to add length above the waist
  • the elaborate sleeves - they are almost entirely hand stitched
  • the neckline is piped; something I've never done before
  • the hem is faced; again, a new to me step
  • the pattern calls for bra cups to be inserted between dress and lining, but gives NO further instructions or guidance and I have no idea what I'm supposed to do/look for in a bra cup and hoping I can skip it entirely (that's bad, right? already planning on skipping a structural element before I've even begun?)
  • silk crepe back satin is going to be damaged by pins, water, needles, basting stitches.... there is going to be little room for error with this fabric. I have no idea how to mark dots, pleats, etc since anything that would leave a mark will ruin the fabric, I think. Suggestions?
  • I still haven't decided what to line it with - bemberger? organza? (if washed, the hand would be softer) Again, suggestions?
  • Oh, oh yeah. And there's a deadline: Friday, September 29 is the day I need to be wearing this dress. And I already know that I am losing 2 weeks of valuable sewing time to a vacation and a business trip.
So, um, what do you do for fun? Apparently, I like to torture myself with complicated sewing projects. Actually, the two things that are most worrying me about this dress are the time constraints and working with the fabric. I'm going to have to be slow and careful at every step and test, test, test on scraps. I plan to bring the hand sewing away with me on vacation the last week of August. So, I hope to be at a point where I am ready to sew the elaborate flowered sleeves by then.

Anyway, I will be muslin-ing this pattern, so stay tuned. I'm secretly hoping that if I leave out the bra cups, which I think are only there for padding/filling out the bust, that my actual bust may fit into this dress without alterations. (I know, I know, but a girl's gotta dream.) At any rate, I hope fitting won't be too challenging. I'm telling myself that the princess seams on the back should help.

I hope you have a great weekend - I'm headed out of town so there won't be much sewing. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Doh!!! Self-fulfilling Prophesy

Friday's post about the jumpsuit turned into a self-fulfilling prophesy. Things are back on track now, but had you been standing outside the Craft Lounge door on Saturday, here's what you would have heard: 

So, instead of telling you about the dart sewn on the wrong side of the fabric, the leaking iron that left a watermark on the bodice, and the 2 broken needles in under 3 minutes, I'm going to talk about my fabric stash... a happy place full of hopes and dreams where nothing has gone wrong. At least not yet.

I think that having easy access to the Garment District prevents me from having too large a stash. Why buy basics? Most of what's in my stash is either fabric I bought for a specific project, but haven't quite gotten to sewing yet, OR fabrics that I just loved because they are a bit more unique - things that I don't see every day even in the Garment District. Anyway, within those parameters, I generally allow myself to buy at will.

It's been a while since I treated myself to any new fabric that wasn't specifically for what I was sewing. So, I decided to take advantage of that 75% off sale at FabricMart and simultaneously use my $30 Mood Groupon - a virtually guilt-free fabric splurge!

Here's my haul. From Mood...

Mini-haul from Mood
What's really cool about the black and white striped fabric is that it's actually a normal, neatly striped jersey. All those irregular waves and variations in the stripes are made by gathers that are stitching in place. I've really liked all the one seam skirts and tube dresses that I've seen on other blogs this summer, and I think I'll make a knee length version for the fall to be worn with tights and boots.

The red orange fabric is also really neat. When you look closely at it there are two different color threads - a bright watermelon and soft tangerine, but it reads as a solid. I think it may become  this dress from the cover of Burda last September:

And then from Fabric Mart...

Cotton sateen rose print and Orange shimmer jacquard

I think the rose print will become a skirt or sheath dress - the flower is at least 18 inches tall. The orange fabric on the right is a Maggie London stretch jacquard that didn't photograph very well - it has polka dots and the background has some shimmer. Not sure what I'll do with it yet.

Light blue shetland wool and black wool & camel hair blend

And finally, I bought both of these with this Karl Lagerfeld skirt pattern that was on the cover of the October 2010 Burda in mind:

So, this is also a bit of a mini-preview of some of my fall to winter sewing projects. Are you starting to feel back-to-school-ish or is it just me?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Boning (Insert Crude Joke Here)

It's just about 7pm on Friday and I'm sitting on the back porch feeling, well, rather smug and self satisfied. This is not a good thing.

I had the day off and I spent the better part of it working on my jumpsuit. It went well. I think. I hope. You see, whenever I've had this smug kind of "look-at-me-I-am-a-sewing-genius!" feeling, a big sewing disaster, invariably of my own making, inevitably follows. Usually, it's one of those moments where all you can do is smack your head and yell "Doh!!" Like cutting out three back pants pieces but only one front. Or sewing the two fronts legs together at the in- and out seams and then the two backs together and then wondering why the crotch isn't working out. That kind of mistake.

Now, I've checked that I haven't done any of those things wrong. But that doesn't mean there isn't a disaster happening as I write. However, I'm willing to say that ignorance is bliss this evening and show you my progress. 

I cut into my beautiful rayon matte jersey this morning. It was pretty slow going since I generally cut knits in a single layer, instead of folded.

Underbodice with boning.

This afternoon was devoted to the underbodice. I decided to do it in the same fabric as the rest of the jumpsuit. Once interfaced, it was basted, tried on and finally sewn. Then I sewed on the casings and inserted the boning (Ok, just stop it now. That's what it's called). Why was I nervous about this? It really was very easy. (Sigh. So juvenile...)

Then it was time for a try on.


And this is why I am having my very smug moment. Not only am I very happy with how the fabric looks and is sewing up, as well as how this is fitting, but it's also incredibly comfy! I bought steel spiral boning from Steinlauf & Stoller in the Garment District. And it is SO much better than anything you would find in most RTW. It flexes in all directions, so it bends wherever your body does. In other words, you don't get jabbed in the ribs when you sit or bend, and the recovery is supposedly good, too.

Anyway, tomorrow should go much faster. I plan to sew the outer bodice and pants, and put in the zipper. I'm off on Monday, too, and with any luck I'll be dropping in the lining and hemming by then.

Have a great weekend everyone! I hope you sew up something fun.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Happy Birthday, Phineas: Behind Every Good Woman...

V-Day 2011
You may wonder at times why this blog is "Clio & Phineas", since I do the vast majority of the posts. But, since it's his birthday today, I'd like to highlight the major behind-the-scenes role Phin plays.
Phin photographs me over and over again in my latest sewn creations for this blog. He works from home, so is constantly emailing me photos at work since I generally blog while eating lunch, but rarely ever remember to upload photographs when I'm at home.

He's always been the one to do our laundry (in all seriousness, I have not done laundry this century). So, without my asking, he washes and dries all my fabric, being careful to check with me about how each should be treated. And he has even learned how to mark a hem and help me pin fit muslins.

When I bake, he can often be found in the kitchen next to me chopping an ingredient, doing dishes as I use them, or lifting my heavy stand mixer. He knows my preferred brand of chocolate chip - there's always a supply in the pantry. And if he knows I'm planning to make something, the ingredients often "magically" appear for me.

And he runs with me, never complaining that I go at a slower pace than him, holding him back. When I said I wanted to start training for a half marathon, he helped me plan my training and then found two races that we could build vacations around (Las Vegas or Bermuda - we haven't decided which yet). He is a genius at finding great travel deals. 

Last night, I planned to make ice cream in two flavors (strawberry and peach) for his birthday, since he doesn't love cake. By the time I arrived home, he had already unearthed my ice cream maker and put the core in the freezer. The strawberries and peaches were already prepped, too.

I sometimes think there must be more hours in the day where the rest of you sewing/baking/knitting/crafting/blogging people live. I don't understand how you all get so much done without a Phineas of your own. In ways both big and small, he is the best friend and partner in crime that a person could wish for.

Happy Birthday, Phineas! You are too wonderful for words!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Jumpsuit Muslin

I spent this weekend working up the muslin for my jumpsuit. Maybe when I've really mastered my fitting issues I'll be able to just cut into fabric, but for now I'm a devout muslin-ist. The jumpsuit would have been a hot mess if I had cut into fabric.

I've seen a lot of ill-fitting jumpsuits this season. Few of us that wear the same RTW size on top and bottom AND are RTW height AND are proportioned like RTW is made. I've seen jumpsuits that are either to big or small on either the top or bottom of the wearer. And I've seen lots of too long or short crotches. Really, it's amazing that RTW jumpsuits fit anyone. Thank goodness I sew!

I originally cut a 14 on top and an 18 on the bottom, rounded up just a bit from my measurements. What I ended up with was more like a 12 on top with an FBA (easy-peasy because of the princess seams), and between a 14 and 16 on the bottom, after taking in the excess ease.

One of the fitting problems that I encountered was that the crotch was initially too long. But thanks to a very handy shorten/lengthen line included on the pattern (thank you, Vogue!), taking it up by 1 1/4" was easy. You can see the tuck across the abdomen in the photo.

I had to make some additional length adjustments, too.  As you can see in the photo, the top and bottom are NOT meeting at the waist. So, despite adding an inch to the bodice pattern pieces and 2" to the leg pieces before cutting the muslin, I had to add an additional inch to each.

At this point, I've transferred all the changes back to my pattern pieces. My orange matte jersey is at the dry cleaner at the moment, since I'll dry clean the finished jumpsuit. But once it's back on Tuesday, I'll really get down to work. In the interim, I can cut the lining and, now that I've worked out the fitting issues, I'll go ahead and buy the right length boning. More later!