Monday, April 30, 2012

Jacket Progress

OK, a bit of a confession: I just couldn't leave the jacket muslin alone. Each night last week, I inexplicably found myself too tired or unmotivated to work on the final jacket pattern. So on Saturday morning, I tried it on one last time and immediately saw what to do to fix the creasing and pulling at the back armscye.

Sorry - Phin was unavailable to take pics on me.

I made a 1/4 inch tuck across the back where the excess fabric was, and it made all the difference. Stepping away from it for a week helped me see it more clearly and solve the problem.  

So, now that I was truly happy with the fit, I was ready to go. I transferred all the changes back to the pattern and cut new final pattern pieces out of oaktag. They should be sturdy enough to come leather shopping with me.

 During the week, I hope to have enough time in the evening to sew up the lining. If the final changes I made cause any problems (I don't think they will), the lining should show it. Stay tuned!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Saved from UFO-ville

While I was mulling over what to do about the leather jacket muslin, I got around to sewing up a third pair of boxer shorts.  I had cut them for Phin back in October as part of the MPB Boxers Sew Along.

I generally cut and then sew up projects one or two at a time. And if a pattern isn't working out, I usually call it a flop and move on. Unfinished sewing projects don't linger. But, for some reason, after cutting these out and sewing the other two, these just sat there... casting dirty looks at me... threatening to become my first ever UFO. (Here are the other two boxers I made at the time.) 

Anyway, boxers are super quick to sew up and this was a welcome break from all the fitting and scrutinizing of the leather jacket. And I'm relieved that the Craft Lounge is once again UFO free. Less mental clutter.

So, tell me: do you have any UFO's lurking in your sewing room? How long do they tend to linger? Do you ever get around to finishing them or is it really just wadder-denial?? 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Next Steps: Pattern + Leather + Lining

Hey - Not sure what happened, but this post was up for a day and then disappeared!  Here it is again...

Over the weekend, I decided that I like the jacket fit and am going to go with it with one or two minor additional changes. Hooray! We're a go! There are several next steps.

First, I have to transfer all the changes I made to the muslin back to the pattern. You see, since leather comes in hides (ie: animal shaped pieces), you don't buy by the yard. Also, there are flaws and variations on a skin. So, the better strategy for leather shopping is to bring your pattern pieces with you and lay them out on the hides you want. Karin shared with me the following tip: while there is no "grain" on leather, you should line up your pattern pieces on the hide as if the head to the tail is the straight grain. So that's what I'll be doing.

Other, more experienced sewistas have reviewed places to buy leather in the Garment District, so I'll leave that to the experts. Here's where I'll be shopping:
And, while I've been crazed with work for the last several weeks, it hasn't stopped me from buying fabric. Here's the silk that I think I'll be using to line the jacket.  I got it at Chic Fabrics. I have a few other parts to buy, like zippers.

I love turquoise!
Anyway, I plan to kick things into high gear by this weekend. And I have lots of other things to show in the interim.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Midweek Mayhem!

I'm having a bonkers kind of work week, but just wanted to say thanks for all the comments on my muslin!  I think you are mostly right: I'm in jeopardy of tinkering the fit to death!

So, I've decided that I will take one final look at it this weekend. Hopefully, I'll have fresh eyes, since I haven't had a second all week for sewing. Then it will be on to buying the leather and kicking things into high gear! Also, I have a few lining choices to show you just as soon as I can take some pictures!

Stay tuned! I hope you are all having a good - and more sewy - week!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Muslin 3.1: At Risk of Over-Fitting

Well, I never did quite get around to photographing muslin 3.0 before moving on to version 3.1. So, let's just dive into my current issues, shall we?

I think I'm in serious risk of over-fitting this jacket.  Looking in the mirror, I'm quite happy with the fit. Additionally, it feels comfortable. But when I have Phin photograph the muslin, I notice all kinds of lines and wrinkles. For example:

See the line originating at the armpit and angling down across the back?

When I lower my arm you can see a bit of excess fabric in the same place.

And with my arm raised you can see it, too. 

Yet Phin swears it is practically non-existent in real life, and the mirror seems to agree. So, the question is, do I do something about it? Or not? 

When I look at myself in the muslin, I'm very happy with the fit. Yet when I examine photos, there are a hundred flaws. But I think that some of them are just that the denim is not going to drape like leather will. Those lines across the back waist, for example, are just where there is wearing ease. I think. I hope

I'm having a serious confidence crisis.  What would you do if you were me? Keep working on fitting or get to work on the jacket? Where do you draw the line with what you can learn from a muslin?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

I'd Like to Thank the Academy: Blogging and Awards!

Have you noticed that it seems to be awards season in the Blogosphere? I'm tickled pink to be the recipient of the Liebster Blog Award.

Ich liebe meinen Preis!
More than that, I am bowled over to have received it twice!  First, from Melanie of seamstress: poppykettle way back in February. Shamefully between work travel and life, I failed to blog about it til now when it came a second time from Laura Mae of Lilacs & Lace.

First, a HUGE shout out to these two phenomenal sewistas.

When I learned that Melanie had only been sewing for a year I nearly reached thru the interwebs to strangle her in a fit of jealous rage and insecurity fell off my chair. Do these turquoise jeans or this silk Marfy top (yes, Marfy. as in "instructions not included" Marfy.) look like the work of a newbie sewista? Or this suit?

Poppykettle in her spectacular suit

And what can I say about Laura Mae that has not already been said? Her vintage sewing mojo is unparallelled. Don't believe me? Check out this recent dress. Or her Ceil Chapman cocktail dress, which is one of my all time favorite garments created by another blogger. (period)

Superlative Ceil Chapman Dress!

Anyway, this award is for blogs with less than 200 followers (criteria/rules below). And this got me thinking about my blog and how it's changed over time. I definitely feel like an Indy film compared to some of the blockbuster blogs out there. The day I realized that there were a few people who I wasn't related to or even knew in person following my blog, it was a surprise. Even though sewing is a mostly solo activity, being part of the sewing blogosphere makes me feel connected to others who share my bliss. Thank you, to each and every one of you who follows or comments. I'm glad we've met in this quirky online space.

Anyway, because not every blog posts their number of followers and because people can follow a blog in many different ways (thru Blogger, Google reader, by email, etc), it's kind of hard to figure out who qualifies or not for this award. (Call it a loop hole and I've got a loop turner. Or something like that. Whatever.)  So, since the spirit of the award is to recognize and promote blogs that are not as well-read, I'm passing this award on to a few  blogs that I'm enjoying and think you might like, too. I'm surprised that all of them don't have huge followings. Without further ado, the awards go to:

Faye's Sewing Adventures - In addition to being the first person who I didn't know in real life to comment on my blog, and introducing me (and everyone else) to Ponte Roma knit, and going on a huge knit dress sewing bender last fall, the thing I love about Faye is that she initiates several sew-alongs every year. Last year I did the "Over the Top", "Bottoms Up" and "Stay Cool: Sew a Summer Dress" sew-alongs with her.  She's got a Starting at the Top Challenge going on right now.

Faye's Lady Grey Coat

K-Line - Let me tell you, Kristin is a woman after my own heart. She's on muslin 8.0 for a jacket she is working on (she deserves an award for that alone!), likes my favorite color, and takes fashion risks, like culottes. She also gets mad kudos from me for boldly talking about her boobs and occasional uses of the eff word on her blog. She keeps it real, if you know what I mean.

K-Line in her culottes

Tanit-Isis Sews - This gal is one fierce sewista. She sews up a storm for herself, her two spunky daughters and Mr Osiris.  And although she says she is busy and has less time these days as a student and mom, she still manages to post free downloadable patterns that she's made/designed herself! She is also a genius at using the tiniest scraps of fabric and is a thrift-a-holic.

Tanit-Isis' Where's Waldo Shirt

Sheila CTK - I just love Sheila's style. Just look at the hotness that is her faux leather skirt or the chicness of her hot pink and houndstooth ensemble. But what impresses me most about Sheila is that she ALWAYS manages to save garments that look like they're heading to the wadder bin. Seriously, this gal knows how to shift gears and change plans on the fly, ending up with something stylish and fun.

How awesome is Sheila's leather wrap dress??

Sew Skate Read - T Sedai's blog is probably the newest on my list at just a year old. In addition to sewing all kinds of yummy clothing like a smurfy raincoat and LBD, and whatever pattern I am currently wanting to sew from Burda, she also sews her own costumes for competitive skating. Yes, you read me right. This gal has a whole other life outside of the sewing blogosphere where she gets to wear the kind of fabulous glitter and applique that will make your inner six year old yearn for a tiara. Oh, and she knows how to stash like a champ, too.

This is a "practice" dress for skating.  This is me "practice" drooling on my key board.

I hope you check out these blogs and enjoy them as much as I do.

The rules are as follows:
*Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.
*Link back to the blogger who presented the award to you.
*Copy/paste the blog award on your blog.
*Present the Liebster Blog Award to 5 blogs (with 200 followers or less). 
*Let them know they have been chosen by leaving a comment.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Icing on the (Cup)Cake

There was some sewing over the weekend, but no photographing. So, here's a little sweetness to start off the week.

My addiction to Groupons is well documented by now. So is my love of cupcakes. And butter cream frosting (see here and here). So, when I received a Groupon offer for a Cupcakes 101 class at Butter Lane Cupcakes in NY, I did not even blink before clicking "purchase".

In NY, the cupcake wars have been raging ever since the Sex and the City girls waited in line at Magnolia Bakery. But Butter Lane significantly advanced the arms race by offering "frosting shots" for $1. Skip the cupcake and just get the frosting. Brilliant.   

In Cupcakes 101, you take this same approach. Skip the cake, and jump right into making frosting, followed by a tutorial on how to perfectly ice your cupcakes. And they've got their cupcake and frosting recipes for chocolate and vanilla butter creams, and cream cheese frosting on Facebook. (Click here) So you can make them at home. Here is the chocolate butter cream recipe.

3/4lbs (3 sticks) of unsalted butter
2 oz cream cheese
2 cups confectioners sugar
6 oz melted bittersweet chocolate (cooled to room temp)
1 splash of vanilla extract
VANILLA CREAM CHEESE FROSTING1/4 lb (1 stick) unsalted butter 8 oz cream cheese 4 cups confectioners sugar 1 tsp vanilla extract
Bring butter and cream cheese to room temperature - they should be very soft. Combine butter and cream cheese in mixing bowl and mix on a medium speed for 5 min. For the chocolate frosting, add melted chocolate and mix for one more minute. While mixing at low speed add sugar. Once combined, add a splash of vanilla extract and mix on a medium to high speed for 3 min, or until smooth and fully combined. Frost and enjoy!
First off, I love any recipe that suggests a "splash" as a recipe amount. The other thing I really like about all of their butter cream frostings is the addition of cream cheese. It makes the frosting easier to spread and prevents it from getting a hard outer shell after a day.

I think the key point is to beat your frosting really well to incorporate air. This is where most home bakers go wrong when they "cream" butter and sugar. But extra beating = extra air = extra lightness in any finished cake or cookie or frosting.

As we learned in class, you can easily add a big blob of peanut butter to this frosting to make it a chocolate peanut butter frosting. You can do the same with the other flavors too - cream cheese + strawberry jam, for example, or vanilla + cinnamon or vice versa.

Anyway, what are you waiting for? Go make some frosting!  Cupcakes or cake is entirely optional!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Leather Jacket: Muslin 3.0

After the disaster that was the faux leather muslin (pew!) I couldn't wait to get started on muslin 3.0, in the same homely denim as 1.0.  Here are the results.

Front:  I'm pretty happy with the length of this jacket, so that's one thing to cross off the list. There's a little bit of bunching around the midriff that I have to smooth out. The solution is probably to let the hips out a bit so that the jacket isn't riding up in the middle.

Back: I think I've mostly worked out the fit across the back at this point. This view makes me wonder if I should raise the shoulder a bit. What do you think?

Side: You can see that there are some wrinkles at the high bust and into the armscye. They are actually excess fabric, not pulling. So, I need to generally tighten things up over the bust and through the armscye. Also, you can see that the lapel is not lying flat. This could be because of how I lengthened it. So, I'll try taking a small wedge out of it to tighten it up.I had to do this with my Lady Grey coat, so it isn't unexpected.


Sleeve: A little finessing of the sleeve cap and further narrowing from about the bicep to the wrist and I think the sleeve will be good to go.

My fingers are crossed that on Monday I'll be able to tell you that this is the final muslin version!

Happy Sewing! And for those of you celebrating Easter or Passover, have a lovely weekend!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Leather Jacket: Muslin 2.0 = Total Fail

Sometimes there is just nothing to be gained from using bad fabric.  Muslin 2.0 is evidence of this point.

Faux leather where it belongs! (In a Return of the Jedi waste paper basket from Phin's youth.)

My faux leather muslin was a big waste of time.The faux leather was so stiff and unforgiving that none of the seams would press open or lay flat. Instead they fought to stand up like a spine, pushing the jacket away from my body and distorting the fit. The only good thing was...was... um... Scratch that: there was nothing good about this muslin.

Lessons learned:  I hate faux leather with a burning itch. Or at least I hate cheap/bad faux leather. And it smells, too, which is also bad and itch-inducing. It's been a week and the Craft Lounge still smells like faux-ness, if you know what I mean.

Honestly, I could not tell a single thing about all my fitting changes in this fabric. It was like wearing stiff paper. So, by the time I was boarding a plane for Montreal, jacket pieces were re-cut from the remains of the heinous denim that I used for muslin 1.0. I'm feeling much less hostile toward this homely floral/camo denim these days. Nothing like a really bad fabric to give you a new perspective.

Anyway, muslin 3.0 - which I think is the definitive version - shortly. Then it's on to the good stuff!