Sunday, October 28, 2012

I FINISHED IT: The starlet suit jacket a la Gertie

I finished it!  I was so sick of this thing by the time I was done... and at the same time I'm really looking forward to wearing it.  Of course it's about 80 outside this week... not such great weather for twill jackets.
It was so sunny in my living room that I had to go take this picture in the patio - decidedly unlovely, but at least not overexposed or fuzzy from being too well lit. 

Gratuitous lining shot. 

You know, it's not perfect, and that bums me out a little bit.  I really was very finger sore by the time I'd finished the sewing - cotton twill is not a kind fabric to push a needle through by hand and I didn't do the best job with the last few little bits and bobs.  I can go back and correct them.  But this was never meant as a be all, end all jacket.  This is my experiment.  In about a week, I'll put up a bunch of photos and let you pick on my fitting mistakes and other errors - I want to catch every last one of them before I cut into my beautiful red wool. 

This will, however, go with any number of things in my current wardrobe.  It's a great color on me, and can be worn open, closed, and with or without a shirt underneath. 

But DUDE.  This is awesome.  I made a jacket!  ME!  Pretty exciting stuff, you know?

In the meantime, totally ignore everything I said about quilting cotton... I needed some instant gratification and palette cleansing.  8yo is getting a bunch of new dresses.  But that, I shall save for another day............... bon voyage, my pretties!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Quilting Cotton

For some reason, quilting cotton is a hugely controversial topic in the land of sewing.

Most of us made our first clothing with quilting cotton.  It comes in a billion different patterns, most of them adorable, and quite a few of them hilarious. 

The thing about quilting cotton is that it *screams* homemade.  You know and I know that you're not going to find a dress that looks like this:

in the store.  You just aren't.  (Photo credit shiboridragon - home of some seriously cute quilting fabric).

Quilting cotton is awesome for a beginning seamstress.  Even though it screams homemade - it's really easy to deal with.  It doesn't slip, it doesn't slide, it stays where you put it, and it irons up like a dream.  And it's cheap!   I would recommend a beginning seamstress learn on quilting cotton.  (Well.  Start-start with old sheets from the thrift store.  But after you're up and running).

I did a lot of my first sewing with quilting cottons.  Sundresses still suit them... in fact I might make a few more, now that I know what I'm *doing*.  But you have to do some quality control....
This was my first set of darts!  I got the cloth in a discount fabric shop... didn't have a clue what I was doing or I'd never have bought it.  It was stiff with starch when I brought it home, it took about five washings to finally show its character.  But it *was* good fabric.  It held up a long time, and it was actually great for a skirt like this - it had plenty of body on its own.

I bought this fabric at a huge chain store.  You can see I've done a much better job of fitting the dress (I do learn!).  Unfortunately I didn't do a great job picking the fabric - except for the color, which *is* smashing.  Why?  Well, that glorious pattern was painted on top of the fabric (not woven in, hardly even dyed in - the back side of this fabric was almost white!) and it was put on *off grain* - with huge and weird selveges to the fabric.  Guess which dress ripped first??
If I remade this dress, would I use quilting cotton again?  Very possibly.  It's a kitchy, silly dress, and the skirt wants some body to hold properly (and there's an underskirt, so you can't really wear a petticoat).  But I'd do quality control.   I'd check that the fabric was well made and that the print was on-grain. 
Another thing that quilting cotton is great for?  Little kids' clothes.  At that point, handmade and slightly kitchy = win. 
Let your purpose determine your fabric.  Learning *about* fabric?  Well.. books and books and books to the contrary, I think that's mostly about experience.  I'm still learning and falling flat on my face. 
But this is my final word on quilting cotton:  If it suits your purpose, use it.  But use it knowing that it has a certain look and feel, and don't try to make it what it is not.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Getting Closer!

Yesterday I put the facings in and attached the collar.  We have a jacket... but we're not done.

Today I hope to put the backsides of the buttonholes into the facing and maybe? do the lining.  I have a feeling the lining process will be more than a couple of hours worth of work, so we'll see how that goes.  Putting the buttonholes in should be relatively painless.

Almost there!

(I had just steamed it when I took this pic, so those are just water droplets).

Friday, October 19, 2012

Quick link

I'd never really thought about socks as a part of the overall loveliness category.  I don't wear socks very often, certainly not wool socks.  I live in SoCal, you're lucky if I wear shoes inside the house.

Tasia had a great post about how hand-made socks are just like fine lingerie - a touch of beauty that no one knows about except you.  Those little touches can make all the difference in how we carry ourselves.

So, I give you a link.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Vest thing

Today I got the shoulder and side seams completed, so I have a vest-thing at the moment.

Someone hit the power-pole by my house, so I didn't have electricity all morning, which slowed my life down considerably.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Today I did the welt pockets, which came out okay.  Being detail oriented (which I am **not**) is important in this sort of sewing.  Character building opportunities!!

I'm pretty proud of them, regardless.  They're very twee.

A peek inside the first finished pocket

The outside of the pocket.  Yes, it's right-side up.  That's a welt, not a flap.  :D
The pockets are seriously tiny - just big enough for a key or credit card or hanky.  Which is fine.  I mostly wanted to do them to do them, to learn. 
I also sewed the back together and ran out to Joanne's at 8pm for some twill tape, so tomorrow I can sew the fronts to the back & sides and possibly do sleeves.  Very exciting!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Fusible Tailoring

Today I did the fusible tailoring for the jacket and sewed the front seams together.

The latter was far more time-consuming than the former - I made quite a few adjustments to that seam so it wasn't obvious where the side fronts should attach to the front-fronts.  A few rip-outs and we were in good shape.  Well worth the time.

I would move along and work on the welt pockets, but the fronts are steaming - so I probably should leave them alone.  :)

Tomorrow pockets and then?  We'll see how far we get.  I have a lot of RL stuff to do tomorrow, so I might not do much more than pockets.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Bound Buttonholes

I made a sample set on scrap fabric... but these are the first set of bound buttonholes I've ever made to use on a garment.  They aren't perfect, but they're cute! (And slightly damp, since you're supposed to steam them after, and this is cotton, not wool).

On Thursday I cut the fabric for the suit, which I didn't bother blogging about or taking pictures of (at least here) because really... how exciting is a big pile of fabric?

Took Friday and Saturday off, and today I did the bound buttonholes.  Next up, the tailoring for the front of the jacket - fusible version.  (No, I'm not breaking out the hair canvas for a cotton twill jacket!)

This feels slow, but I'm churning away, and slow is okay so long as we get to a good place in the end.  Right?  Right!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Day Three: Fitting Muslin

Shocked.  Overjoyed.  My first fitting muslin... fits.  Yes, I have a tweak or two to apply to the wearable muslin that I'll be making next - but *it fits*.   I spent weeks working on a princess-seamed sloper ... those weeks are paying off. 

First I decided that I needed to size down my overall size for the jacket.  I'm overweight and busty - but I'm also only 5'2".  I don't need the jacket as a whole scaled up - I just need room in certain spots.  Based on my waist measurement, I'm a size 10 in Gertie-land.  So I traced the pattern  - in the places that didn't need changes - as a size 10.

Then I took my fitting sloper (it's tissue paper so it's a bit hard to see) and transferred the curves and proportions to the pattern pieces.  This is the whole point of having a sloper - being able to use your work elsewhere, and not having to cry and rip and cry and rip every time you sew something new.

Nailed it.  :D  The upper arm could use a squink more room, the lower arm could use a squink less - and I might give myself a tad more in the center front to play with.  But we are in a *very* happy place, and I feel totally ready to cut into my (inexpensive) fashion fabric. 

Note on the negative reviews.... I read that the jacket wasn't drafted well.  From what Gertie was saying on the video (everyone is watching the video before doing the real work, right?  Just like you read the printed instructions first?) she drafted the jacket based on her own proportions.  That means you look at Gertie and you have a fair idea of what you're going to have to work with.  I haven't done the lining yet (obviously) so I'll report back when I do.  So far, so good.  I like how this jacket looks, very much, and the fitting changes are far less radical than from a Big Four pattern.

So far, so great.  :)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Day Two: Suit Adventures

Today I marked the hem on my ivory skirt, said "eep" because I'd made it a twitch too tight, and went to the fabric store for materials for my wearable muslin version of the Starlet Suit Jacket. 

I like this bright green - it will go with most of my skirts (or at least clash usefully) and it's a good color on yours truly.  The buttons are a warm silver - it reflects silver if you're wearing silver and looks warm if you're wearing gold (I held it up to other buttons at the store).  The lining will be ivory, straight from the remnants pile.  (The local chain has a ridiculously large remnant section, which I surf through regularly - it's well worth my time).

This is a picture of my hands putting in my waist stay on the ivory skirt (which turned out to be totally redundant).  It was a pretty picture and showed off one of the things I enjoy about the sewing process, which is just chilling out of an evening with something useful in my hands. (BTW:  It's tricky to take a picture of your own hands).

Yes, I have white ribbon, but I like pink and ivory together... and no one will be able to see the ribbon on the inside of my waistband, so it's really just my eyes that need to be pleased by this sewing.  I even used lavender thread.  Because I could.  It makes me happy, so why not?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Starlet Suit: Day 1

Day One of my Starlet Suit Adventure....

I taped 56 pieces of paper together, very carefully (with trimming).

Then I rough-cut the individual pattern pieces out.

This sounds relatively simple - and it was - but it took *hours*.  If I have the choice between buying a pattern for less than say, $10 and doing this again?  I'm buying a proper paper pattern.

Then I caught up on my big stack of ironing (the perils of wearing clothing from linen and cotton).  Now I shall sew on a button, while watching Gertie's next video in the "how to" series.  And then I shall go to bed.

Starlet Suit Jacket a la Gertie

I signed up for Gertie's Starlet Suit Jacket class on Craftsy this Spring.  I took one look at the ultra-feminine suit and fell in love. (The images from pinterest won't upload directly, so just take a look if you are interested).

There is nothing about a nipped-waist, full skirted, fitted suit with 3/4 sleeves that *isn't* totally me. 

I had the opportunity to participate in a Garment District bus tour... and so I went up to LA and picked up the sexiest silk charmeuse lining (the pink) and a geranium colored wool melton for the jacket itself - along with all the tailoring goodies.  ( 

I have been looking forward to taking this course because I want to learn to hand-tailor - I also have fabric for a full-length wool coat in my stash that needs sewing up (and I need a good coat!). 

I spent this morning surfing the web and reading the reviews... and oh dear.  They aren't that great.  I'll have to use some of my other books and resources to pad out the craftsy instructions, from the sound of things. 

But that's okay.  It did tell me one thing - I'm going to need to not only make a fitting muslin (which should be straightforward, with all the work I did on my princess sloper) but a wearable muslin.  That means I'm going to need to find some inexpensive fabric to make a sample with, so I can see what works and doesn't - IRL.  After the fiasco with my buttondown blouse ( I know that sometimes the finishing details change "great fit" to "what happened here".    So I'll be making the fusible interfaced version in a cotton (?) and trying to figure out what sort of little jacket is desperately needed in my wardrobe.

I have a basic ivory skirt to put the finishing touches on today (after I do my chores) and then I'm off to the muslining process.