Monday, July 23, 2012
900 yards of knit stripes......
After unpacking and sorting the big fabric shipment, I lined up the stripes and took a closer look. Pulled together some groupings that work together, picked 3, cut 1 1/2 yard of each, tossed in the washer drier and headed into the studio to whip up a version of Vogue 8813 (AKA the French Vintage House Dress). I've been wanting to sew clothes to wear at home, kicked back, comfortable but still fun, in colors and fabrics that I can cook, garden, wipe my hands off without freaking out, have a dog in my lap AND still look and feel good.
Shelley came up with a good name: Rustic Chic.
Here is my version along with construction notes. Making this dress in knits is VERY different from making it in woven. Wish there were hard and fast 'rules', but.....
Here are the results. Inspired by this dress, Shelley, Beth and I put together a grouping of Combos designed especially for this dress, though you could use them any other way too. I discovered that 1 1/2 yards was barely enough. I had to piece my dress, not a bad thing, but could be discouraging, so we are making these combos with 2 yard cuts of each fabric.
All are selected with an eye to harmonizing colors and scale of stripes and or dots, and so the weights of the fabrics work together. None of the individual fabrics are on sale on the web yet, so the only way to get them for the time being is in these combos, and we're making up a limited number of each color way.
I call this the Chez Moi Dress because I made it specifically to wear at home.
|Sewing & Fitting Notes: Thought this would be a fast project, but to get the dress the way I want it, I did a lot of reverse sewing. Here are a few pointers.....|
- Knits s-t-r-e-t-c-h. Even though I used 2 way stretch knits, I still needed to compensate for the stretch caused by the weight of the fabric. I shortened the paper pattern 1 inch front and back above the pocket before cutting. Next time I make this in a knit, I will shorten the pattern 2".
- I tried on the dress before inserting the center panel (A MUST). It was too long....could hardly reach the pockets!
- Ripped out the shoulder seams and stitched them 1" deeper. This helped bring up the pockets, and narrowed the sleeve at the hem edge (a good thing), but made the back neck too small.
- Using the pattern as a guide, I re-cut the back neck.
- TIP: the center panel is a fitting panel, the measurement on the pattern is only a guide....you can make it as wide or narrow as you want, depends on your figure and your bust.
- My dress was still too big and deep at the underarm. I know this is because of the spongy knit fabric, so I took in at the side seam, going from nothing at the top of the pocket, deepening most at the underarm curve, tapering to nothing at the sleeve hem.
- Added a casing and tie at the center back to draw it in a bit there too. This is stitched down to hold everything in place.
- On the pockets I favored the lining to the outside so it would show and look like a trim. Then, the pockets looked too droopy. ..aaargh...
- So I inserted narrow 1/4" elastic in the pocket facing edge. Easy. Cut a tiny hole on the back side of the pocket, slipped in the elastic, played with how much to gather up (making it the same size on both pockets), and stitching the elastic down by machine. The stitching hardly shows and the elastic slips back in the tiny hole.
- The length seemed to have grown too....so I played with shortening it which made it look a lot better.
- I used a 2" deep hem, like how the weight looks and hangs.
- I used fusible web to secure the sleeve and bottom hem in place for topstitching.
|Saturday, July 21, 2012
A BIG week. Sent off a package of prototypes to Vogue for spring 2013 release. Making the samples and writing the instructions challenges my right and left brain. My friend Alex was here visiting, we sewed and sewed, she made the garment too and asked all the right questions. My 17 year old friend Catherine joined us for the weekend and she sewed too....plopped the sewing machine right on the floor, to the delight of Vasco (the dog), who adores her and thought the fabric being sewed was a perfect dog bed.
On Thursday we received our biggest fabric shipment EVER. One ton. The semi pulled up on the road outside. Grumpy UPS driver just tossed the boxes (each one about the size of a bale of hay), on the road and we ferry them down the drive in Beth's golf cart and the back of my wagon. 42 boxes. I opened, sorted, named and priced 21 boxes on Thursday. Still a big pile on the deck and rain was coming.... We tarped the pile, sat on the deck at the end of the day with a glass of wine. It poured in the night. Yesterday was gorgeous, I unpacked the remaining 21 boxes, all organized and ready to be photographed.
Fabulous things, opening each box is such fun. Great knits. A good assortment of stretch cottons for pants. Beautiful wovens for jackets, vests and dresses. Really cool sweater knits which are very big this fall, and will work well with an upcoming Vogue pattern.
AND...51 bolts of stripes.
The photo shows what one ton of fabric looks like. To make room, I'm adding lots of things to our SALE FABRICS and to the BUY OF THE WEEK ...so keep checking back over the weekend.
My next sewing project is V8813, AKA the French Vintage Housedress, in a melange of our new stripes. I'm loving wearing a dress for everyday, want a few more in fabrics that I can really work in (cook, garden, shlep fabric around....)
Happy Summer Weekend!
|Saturday, July 14, 2012
Celebrating Bastille Day with Friends, Stripes and Clafoutis
We call it Bastille Day, the French say Fete Nationale. A big deal in France, they look at it as the birth of a modern nation. Big parade down the Champs Elysees, enormous over the top fireworks at the Eiffel Tower.
Chez moi, a smaller célébration. Sewing fete in the studio with Alex and Catherine. Will put up a French flag somewhere and best of all, baking cherry Clafoutis....recipe follows.
A quintessential French garment is the 'mariner' or sailor T. Walk into any Parisian thrift shop and you'll see racks of these in all sizes, men, women, children, and a variety of stripes. Stripes happen to be my favorite print, and for fall I found some great ones.
950 yards of striped knit fabrics arriving in next week, just got the invoice yesterday! In Paris this spring, I saw a mini trend toward mixing stripes in different colors in the same garment. After I posted a photo in this blog, one of our customers, Sandra Vassallo, from Australia sent me her interpretation of the stripe mix.
From the window in a funky little shop in the Passage Choiseul
|Whole Cherry Clafoutis
Clafoutis (cla-foo-tee) is a famous dessert from the Limousin region. You can make it with other fruits too, (blueberries and raspberries are good), but traditionally whole cherries including the pits. The theory is that the pits retain more of the cherry flavor and juice. Served alongside the clafoutis is a pit bowl where everyone deposits the pits.
Part cake, sort of like a pudding, tasting like a really good and fruity crepe, clafoutis is easy to make and delicious. Keeper of the French language, the lofty Academie Francaise deemed it to be defined as a cake. Great for brunch as well as dessert. My version is a blend of recipes but mostly from Dorie Greenspan's great cookbook, 'Around My French Table'
- 1 pound sweet cherries, stemmed, not pitted
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup sugar
- pinch of salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1/2 cup flour
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Confectioner's sugar for dusting
|Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt 2-3 tablespoons of butter in a 9 -10 inch ovenproof pan. I used a ceramic baking dish, worked great on low heat. Cover the bottom of the pan with cherries in a single layer. Slowly heat the cherries in the butter, not too long, just to barely soften. (this is my adaptation of the recipe).
Whisk the eggs till foamy, then add the sugar and whisk for a minute or two. Whisk in the salt and vanilla. Add the flour and whisk vigorously, until the batter is smooth. Still whisking, gradually pour in the milk and cream and whisk until blended. Rap the bowl against the counter to knock out any bubbles and pour over the cherries.
Bake for 25-45 minutes until it is puffed and lightly browned or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Dust with confectioner's sugar before serving.
|Wednesday, July 11, 2012: Recommended Summer Reading
If you ever buy inexpensive clothes (Target, Forever 21 etc), or if you sew, you'll want to read this book. The author, Elizabeth Cline,...clueless? naive? takes herself and the reader on a journey down the rabbit hole of her closet into the world where $7 T-shirts and $4.99 dresses come from: China, Bangladesh etc. An AHA moment comes when she meets up with a woman who made a personal promise to herself to sew all her own clothes. For those of us who sew, this part will become even more interesting and fun. A very good read, I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend it. See links below to an interview with the author on Pattern Review and a link to Elizabeth Cline's blog.
|Tuesday, July 10, 2012
The Sugar Shack
A Taste Of What Is Coming
Taking a break from sewing to get the sugar shack ready for a BIG shipment arriving this afternoon!
See below for story boards with fabrics arriving soon.
|While we were in Paris, our wizard builder-guy, Scott, doubled the size of a small cabin/guest room (originally built for the teen-aged boys). It was all finished and ready to go when we got back. The FedEX and UPS drivers now know to drop off the fabric here, and now the photography takes place here instead of in the kitchen. My kitchen is free of piles of bolts of fabric for the first time in ages. |
|I'm still sussing out the space, today we put up 2 more big industrial steel racks and I'm gearing up for photo sessions and playing with the new fabrics.|
|Monday, July 9, 2012
Loving linen this time of the year. We have some great linens in stock right now... loads of color, pale neutrals, and a few prints, but basic black linen is a 3 season classic and a personal favorite. I know if I have a black linen garment in my wardrobe I'll wear it a lot. This time of the year I am thinking about a black linen dress, airy cool tunic or little black linen jacket or vest. On my last buying trip I found 3 different weights of black linen that 'spoke' to me, were just right in terms of quality and appealing touch and drape, so I had to have them all as I'd use them for different garments.
Black Hanky, shown at right is the lightest, just right for a blouse, soft dress or pant.
Dublin is the mid weight of the 3, has a good linen drape with light allover wrinkling and an appealing subtle linen-weave texture. Ideal for a shirt, soft pant, skirt or dress.
Axel is the heaviest of our 3 black linens this season, but not stiff, has an appealing linen drape, minimal wrinkling and an appealing subtle texture. I'd use it for a garment with shape and structure like a jacket, tailored dress, skirt or pant.
All three are in a deep color saturated black. See some pattern recommendations below. I look for designs that will highlight silhouette and shapes well as flatter different figures.
|Link to Black Linens|
|Some suggestions for Black Linen......(or other colors)|
|Vintage and modern, these two dresses could take the body and structure of a mid to heavy linen like Dublin or Axel|
|V8709, the shirt on the left (which could be made sleeveless) is a good candidate for a lighter weight linen like Black Hanky. V7854 on the right, which has very flattering lines would work in as an airy shirt in Black Hanky or as a shirt-jacket over a tank in mid-heavier weights like Dublin or Axel...I'd make the sleeves 3/4 length for summer.|
|A heavier weight like Axel is perfect for a summer jean, V8774...this could also be cropped. V8449, the fabulous bell shaped big pocket skirt with a sculptural silhouette is another good choice for a linen with weight like Axel, but could work in Dublin.....or, you could make the body of the skirt in the heavier weight and make the pocket in a lighter weight like Black Hanky.|
|McCalls 6553 is a very good pattern with sculptural lines and shaped cap sleeve. I'd use either Dublin or Axel, a mid-heavier weight to carry the lines and pleating. Black Hanky is perfect for V8813. I might sew the dress, then wet it and twist, then dry while twisted to build in a soft overall vertical pleating. This dress also works shortened to tunic length, worn with slim line pants or leggings.|
|V 1309 by Issey Miyake is a fabulous design, perfect for mid weight Dublin. V1247 is an ideal summer shirt, I want to make it using the Black Hanky...but the neck is VERY wide, so I'd tissue fit to make it have a bit more coverage.|
|V8088 can be made as a jacket or sleeveless as a vest. I did a pared down version of the jacket in white handkerchief linen, then after it was sewn, wet the garment and twisted it to pleat it, must be 7 years old and I wear it every summer. V8713 is a well designed and flattering vest that could work in any of the 3 linen weights. |