Archive | October 2015

and One to Gift

I need new robes.  A robe for me is not a furry, cross over garment that is belted and tied in front.  Such a garment always slides open either exposing me or making me cold. I use my robes either first thing in the morning or after an evening bath.  At camp, they cover me during the walk between my camp site and the public bathroom when the after-dark need occurs.  At home they keep me warm after the evening bath and warm in the morning; plus if I don’t get dressed before UPS shows up, I’m half-way decent. I’m retired. I don’t have to get up early and dress.  So I prefer a closed or caftan style robe. Slip over the head and I’m covered and don’t become uncovered.  I scoured my Burda magazines and decided that #122 07/2008 would be perfect. I checked the size and was surprised that a 46 was me with a 1/4″ to spare.  But it seems to me that I’ve always traced the next size up and for pants, traced the back inseam two sizes up.  So  I traced the pattern but before adding seam allowances I started measuring.  The bust had about 3″ ease. Good. Hip? I measured 7″ down from the waist mark. I knew this was above the normal hip. I was thinking if it was big enough 1″ above the hip, it should be OK.  Oh Joy, it was!  I calculated 4″ hip ease.  However far too long.  I cut 3.5″ off the length at the hem and that’s in addition to the 1″ BWL I always do.  I also made my 1″ NSA.  I’m figuring this is a loosely fitting 3rd layer. I don’t even want it to fit like a blouse. I want it to float around and if it has deep vertical folds of fabric, I’m happy.

This is an easy garment to make.  I traced and made my alterations one evening.  Took about an hour maybe hour and half because I had to add seam allowances and make alterations.  My fabric is a 100% silk, I think.  I did not do a burn test. I didn’t buy this fabric it was given to me.  A friend’s mother died and my friend brought me a box of fabric.  According to my friend, her mother was a great seamstress and refused to work with anything but quality fabric. However, she was not above a bargain. So when she saw this 36″ wide silk, brocade on sale, she bought the whole bolt. I have 7 yards of 36″ wide silk to work with.  It smells like silk.  My friend told me it was silk. I believe it is silk.  It must be 30-35 years old.  I’ve had it for 16-17. The original owner hadn’t sewn the last 15 years of her life and sometime before then had purchased the fabric on sale . This was during the days when stores kept stock rather the being immediate supply demand (aka JIT just in time). A bolt could sit in a store for while if it was good quality stuff, and that was OK with the store. Moral of the story is I’m pretty sure it’s silk and it is old old silk.

When cutting,  I felt like the brocade was directional. Subtle, but when it was stretched out on my 6′ cutting table, I could see the repeat and direction of weave.  Since I was making a large garment, I decided that the directional nature could be come apparent during wear.  I opted to cut all the pieces directionally even going so far as to cut the front and back upper bodices individually. In the pattern, the back bodice is placed on the fold.  With 36″ width to work with, I added a center back seam. Once all the pieces were cut, I hung them on hanger and threaded my machines. Then snapped off the lights (and all the machines) before going upstairs for the evening.

The next day I stitched this together. I serge finished the underarm, sleeve hem and lower bodice edges. But just serged and top-stitched the other seams.  I put the bodices together first. Finished the neckline and basted the front pieces where they are overlapped. Then I serge finished the hem before turning it up and stitching using, once again, the flat felling foot.  I had no idea this foot could be so useful.  Then I serged the front and back skirt to the upper bodice. Serged the by now long underarm-side seam and finished by adding 2″ folded bands to the sleeve. Done. About 3 hours maybe a bit less.

That’s me in the morning in my winter PJ’s.  No head because I still have bed-head.

So why is this ‘One to Gift’? The empire line is tight and the hip is close.  If the empire line was not tight, I would keep the garment.  But since it has  two things I don’t like in my robes, it will gifted to someone smaller and probably younger than me.  Possibly I should have followed my hunch and made it a size larger.  I could have checked this blog.  Even a few posts would have told me that I always make Burda patterns a size larger than recommended. The few jeans I buy, are a size larger than recommended. I like my clothing semi-loose to loose-fitting. Or knit. I don’t like clothing that binds and restricts movement, especially when that movement is breathing. I’m surprised that measuring failed me. I wondered it the silk shrunk when pressing.  I press all my seams as I’m sewing.  But I think I should have known I needed more hip ease for a robe. Would that have automatically given more ease to the empire line?  Not sure. It’s quite common for me to add 1/2″ to back or all my blouses. I notice that I frequently take in the front side seam, but add ease to the back. Just seeing that the hip didn’t have the desired ease might not have prompted me to trace or grade-up at the empire line as well. The bust itself if fine. It is the seam under the bust and over my ribs that give me fits. It has never occurred to me that sufficient bust ease with a constricted rib cage would ever occur.

Lovely garment.  I will make it again. I could use the pattern as is with a knit fabric, two sizes larger for woven.  I chose the right length for me if using a simple 1/2″ turned up hem.  I like my robes just above my ankle so they won’t trip me if I need to go downstairs.


One to Wash; One to Wear

Despite having finished my 2nd night-gown relatively quickly, like the next day, it has taken me more time to post.

I use the same Burda pattern #116 in the May 1992 issue.  The first version I shortened 2″.  This was made full length which to me makes a very nice gown.   I used a cotton/poly fine ribbing.  It too is a Walmart purchase but had been used before. Just last year, as a matter of fact, and also as part of sleepwear.  During the change over, I realized how poorly that had worn. It both stretch out of shape and pilled.  I was quite disappointed as I had invested a lot of time via machine embroidery.  I vowed to use it all up this time and not to make any extradoinary effort hence the only band is the neckband.  The lower hem is serged, fused with 1/4″ SAS and turned up before top stitching.

I had serged the side/underarm seam and serge finished the sleeve hem.  Trying to turn up the narrow hem without fusing didn’t work well.  I didn’t want apply SAS now that the sleeve hem was circular instead of flat. Neither did I want to use the narrow hemmer foot. That foot works well with fabric that has been stiffened  to board like appearance. A floopy, squirmy knit was not going to work  well.  I was thinking of just leaving the top unhemmed but serge finished when the wacky idea to try using my flat felling foot occurred to me. Holy smokes, it worked!  The foot is big enough and the guides rightly placed to turn the edge up a scant 1/2″.  I used the 3 step wave stitch lengthened to 12 (I don’t know if that is mm or steps or but it was 12 on the screen).  The sleeve was already in a circle.  When I returned to the start of the circle, I removed the fabric from the foot and let it float beneath.  By that time, enough stitching and enough handling had persuaded it to stay folded about the same 1/2″.

This is definitely a hemming trick I will remember in the future.

I’m pleased to now have two, transitional-weather night gowns hanging in my closet; one to wash and one to wear.

1992-05-116 Sleepwear

Finished swapping out seasonal clothes.  Summer clothes are now safely ensconced into air tight boxes.  Winter corduroys and wools have been pressed and hung ready for deep winter wear.  An interesting side effect occurred as I asked help getting down and putting up the boxes of seasonal clothing.  DH decided to clean out his closet as well.  Between the two of us, we now have 6 boxes of clothes to donate and 2 big garbage bags to discard.

A known effect of changing the seasonal clothes, is knowing where I don’t have enough of a type of garment.  I know for example that I want a new dark blue vest.  The old one obviously needed replacement. I need new robes. The old ones are snagged and the ribbings have … well they don’t snap back any more.  What surprised me was that I have plenty of winter PJ’s, long-sleeved tops and warm bottoms, but not enough transitional sleepwear.  I had accumulated a small pool of DH’s discarded T’s for those nights which are too warm to wear winter PJ’s but too cool to wear my over sized Tank’s or spaghetti strapped cami’s.   DH’s T’s are comfortable but ugly on me.

I decided to use knit fabrics and an over sized T-shirt kind of pattern.   To find the ‘fit’ I wanted, I reached back all the way to 1992 and a pattern I’ve made once before, May 1992 Style #116.

I like this particular pattern for reasons beyond the style.  That is a 2-piece, raglan sleeve. To sew, stitch the front sleeve pieces to the front, then the back sleeve pieces to the back. It’s possible to finish the bottom hem of B or C at this point because it has a deep 5.25″ curve on the side vent.  Then lay the front over the back and pin along the center sleeve edges all the way up across the shoulder and stitch that long line.  I finish the neckline at this point and then the sleeve hems.   Next serge the long side and sleeve seam.  If the bottom hem and sleeve hems were finished earlier, the garment is done. Of course more top stitching can be done or a zipper could have been used.  This garment can be more complicated.  For sleepwear, I chose to fold the bust dart out at the tissue stage (so it’s not necessary to sew at all) and place the center front seam along a fold eliminating a seam. I think this pattern would be excellent for the novice sewist. When finished it looks like an inserted sleeve but when sewing, it’s just long sleams with a little curve under the arm.  But, it’s definitely 90’s styling and therefore not a popular style.

The always wonderful Mimie is modeling for me today. Hey guys, it’s sleepwear. Which means no underwear which I’m not modeling for public consumption.  For this version I folded out 2″ in length. When worn it will hit me just below the widest point of my thigh.  I like it, someone else might not.

I took the time to do a little embroidery on the front.  I did this while I was still working on the seasonal clothing change.  The embroidery machine can chug away while I’m pressing.  It makes me feel like I’m sewing, even if the machine is doing everything.   My fabric is cotton jersey purchased at Walmart 15-20 years ago.  I love this color and kept wondering why I still had this fabric. Both ends are serged which tells me two things 1) I prewashed/preshrunk this fabric and 2) I haven’t previously cut or used from this particular fabric. It’s too lovely to have been ignored. I think it must have hidden between other cuts of fabric.  However it was the devil to work with. The edges curled. Even with this easy quick pattern, I struggled because the bands I used to finish neckline, sleeve and lower hem were hard to wrangle.  They began curling immediately and were nearly hopless before I got to the ironing board.  I though a little starch would help the edges behave. Didn’t. The bands are 2″ wide folded WST lengthwise and serged to the body of the garment. I pressed but they didn’t want to lie flat.  I top stitched using the wavy zig zag.  I want easy wearing comfortable clothing. Curling bands would have been uncomfortable. So I nailed them in place.

In the pic above you can see the how deep and curved the side vents are.  This fabric also gave me problems just shooting it though the serger. I can’t explain it’s behavior and am pretty sure it’s not the machine because the machine has been working well.  The fabric would not feed straight making the sewn seam line uneven.  I used the sewing machine to correct the armscyes but left the other ‘goofs’ alone.  It’s sleepwear. I’m not even sure DH will see it. KWIM?

I used this pattern once before  back in April 2014.  So I didn’t need to trace or fit the pattern for which I was really grateful.  I’ve been struggling with fit; then time out for the closet switch over; and I just wanted to sew. Which this pattern did for me.