Friday, May 1, 2015

Three Skirts and a Scarf


Hola, everyone!

It feels like I haven't posted in forever, though it's only been about two-and-a-half weeks. I have been busy busy busy at work, which keeps my mind in a very different space—it makes me feel like sewing, and my blog, is very far away, even if that's not really true.

A Dart Summit was held in San Francisco early this week and I spent several weeks writing a code lab for an event that was held on the eve of the summit.

If you have a mission-critical need to form a pirate crew, you might want to check it out! (Search for "Shams" if you want confirmation that I wrote it. ;) )

Though time and energy for creative work has been in limited supply, I have been doing some (fairly simple) sewing! Let me catch you up in one post!

Two Ina Skirts

Two of my local sewing friends, Dorothy K, and Jilly Be, have recently made the Ina skirt, which is a Pattern Review pattern. I liked each of theirs (neither of which is posted anywhere, sorry). Jillian used a floral knit, and that pushed me over the edge—I had to make my own Ina.

And, in fact, I made two. In a single day.

This is a quick sew!

I made a couple modifications. The Ina skirt has a yoke, which I omitted. I am 5'5" and, by leaving off the yoke, it was a perfect length for me. I also added an elastic waistband. With my rectangular shape, relying only on a yoke to keep up a skirt is a recipe for exposing myself in public—I guarantee that such a skirt will end up popping off and sliding to my ankles.

The Ina uses godets at the hem to flare the skirt out and create a nice swishy movement.

I made the green one first, using a stash rayon-lycra fabric, from Fabrix, I believe. The second one used a red/grey/black/white rayon-lycra fabric from Emma One Sock. The fabric arrived on Saturday morning and I was wearing the skirt by Saturday night, even with pre-washing the fabric.

Self Drafted "Holy" Skirt

On the same day that I made the two Ina skirts, I was eager to sew up yet another skirt, this time using a wonderful perforated stretch pleather from Gorgeous Fabrics.

There are different kinds of pleathers out there, but this one has a red face and a white backing. This pleather was quite easy to sew using regular thread and a regular microtex needle (my go-to needle). Instead of using pins, I secured the seams with Clover Wonder Clips, which the Clover booth was handing out at Puyallup. I like these very much!

Holding the seam in place with Clover Wonder Clips

I found (though careful trial) that you can easily press the white (back) side of the pleather on low heat and no steam, but you cannot put the iron directly on the front (red) side, unless you want it to melt on your iron, even at a relatively low heat. I found that I could press the face of the pleather if I used my silk organza pressing cloth.

Pressing the seam open with a (striped) silk organza pressing cloth

I drafted a simple flared skirt, about 70" wide at the hem, and midi length. The pleather had more stretch in one direction, but I didn't want the holes to lay in perfectly horizontal rows, so I cut the fabric on the bias—it's still stretchy on the bias, though not as stretchy as from selvedge to selvedge.

Drafting a simple flared skirt with a 70" hem

I wanted the seams to be as unobtrusive as possible, so I made 2 rows of stitching, 1/8" apart, and trimmed close to the second line of stitching.

Two rows of stitching, close together, and trimmed

I didn't want to use the pleather for an elastic waistband, so I grabbed a piece of red sweater knit. Easy peasy.

Using a red sweater knit for the elastic waistband

The hem is just the cut raw edge.

I like this skirt!

To avoid shocking observers, I wear the skirt over a pair of black microfiber harem pants or over a pair of black leggings and finish it off with boots.

Double-sided Koos Infinity Scarf

It was three years ago that I visited the Robert Talbott Outlet in Carmel Valley, on my way to an annual sewing retreat. It's a great place to buy fabrics and fabric remnants that they use in their high-end shirts, suits, and ties for men.

I bought quite a few silk tie fabrics, and a few wool remnants. There was one wool remnant in particular that I really liked. It was a loosely woven, double-weave fabric, predominantly light grey on one side and dark grey on the other. The remnant was 24" by 50". Every time I took it out to use it, I was stumped. I loved both sides of the fabric. I wanted to make another Koos spiral infinity scarf, but a Koos scarf displays only one side of the fabric, and I just couldn't bring myself to hide the other side.

Also, this fabric fringes beautifully, and I wanted to feature the fringe.

Somehow.

So, I'd pull the fabric out from time to time, stare at it, ponder, and then put it away, with regret.

Then, last week, it occurred to me that I could have it both ways.

Here is what I did:

  • Evened up all the edges so that it was a perfect rectangle.
  • Cut the fabric, exactly down the middle, the long way.
  • Flipped over one half of the fabric, showing the reverse side.
  • Fringed one of the long edges, overlapped it, and stitched it down. I stitched it twice:
    • The first row of stitching, using a straight stitch, secured the layers together.
    • The second row of stitching, a zigzag, prevented the fabric from fraying further.
    After cutting the fabric down the middle and turning one half over to display both sides; the pile of threads are from the self fringe

  • Next, I followed Linda Chang Teufel's instructions (she has worked closely with Koos van den Akker and wrote the original article that appeared in Threads Magazine) for the Koos Mobius Scarf, with a few minor changes:
    • The dimensions of my rectangle are a bit different: about 20" by 50", after the rectangle had been trued up.
    • I omitted the bias bindings, which is a classic Koos detail.
    • All seams are overlapped, rather than sewn normally. For all seams, the raw edge on top is fringed and the seams are sewn twice, as described above.
    • Before sewing the short ends of the scarf together, I introduced a twist into the scarf. I'm pretty sure that the Threads article that Linda wrote includes this instruction, though I can't lay my hands on it right now. (She doesn't mention this step in the blog post.) This 360° twist helps the finished scarf lay nicely around the neck.

Step 7 in Linda's instructions—beginning the spiral seam

Step 11 in Linda's instructions—the short ends are pinned together

I love the finished scarf! I found a way to have my cake and eat it, too!

Until next time!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Mesh Knit Spring Cardi


Mesh Knit Spring Cardi

Mesh Knit Spring Cardi

It's time to highlight another garment made from a lovely Britex fabric! (You can also see my post on the Britex blog.)

Spring has officially sprung! I'm sure everyone, especially those on the east coast, are heaving a collective sigh a relief, yes? I know that my daughter, a San Francisco native who is attending university in Minnesota, is happy to see the thermostat climb.

My spring and summer wardrobe really need some sprucing up, so I was happy to have an opportunity to select a piece of fabric from Britex's Knits page. This Oversized Plaid Stretch Lace beckoned and I followed.

The pattern is one of my TnT (Tried 'n True) tops, Vogue 8951, though I have modified it considerably, as I like to do. (That is the great thing about a pattern—once it fits, you are free to focus on the styling—that's when sewing is really fun!)

I am wearing the cardi over a sleeveless top

This fabric, a printed mesh lace, was quite easy to sew. It reminds me of a crocheted lace, though it is not. The bolt says "100% polyester", but it has more of a cotton-like hand to it. It is not slinky or slippery and is, in fact, fairly stable. I had no trouble cutting, sewing, or pressing it (at a low temp, just in case).

I decided to make a simple cardigan with 3/4 length sleeves. I sewed the entire cardigan wrong sides together so the raw edges were to the outside. I then pressed the seams open and trimmed them to a scant 1/4".

Pins tend to fall out of the mesh fabric, so I used small safety pins to mark the sleeve fronts.

I bound the raw edges, including the outside edges, with 1" strips of black rayon jersey from my bag o' scraps. The jersey was much more slippery and stretchy than the mesh, so I machine sewed the jersey to the cardi with the strips against the feed dogs and the mesh on top. This also makes it easier to stitch in the same line of stitching that secured the seams. I folded the remaining edge of the jersey around the raw edge, turned it under, and hand stitched in place.

Look, ma, no raw edges on the inside!

From the outside. As you can see, the mesh is not super sheer. That "dot" in the center of the picture is not a sun spot, it is my necklace showing through the fabric.

This little cardi will be a welcome addition to my warm-weather wardrobe. The open fabric of the mesh provides coverage for my upper arms, but also allows for air flow. Mesh is very on-trend right now—most any clothing store is featuring mesh garments for spring and summer.

Thanks to mem for taking the photos

And thanks to Britex for the fabric!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

High Style Exhibit & Tim Gunn Speaks!


TOC:

High Style Exhibit

Last year I was excited to learn that the High Style exhibit was coming to the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. This exhibit contains garments from the Brooklyn Museum's (apparently extensive) costume collection.

A friend, Nora (my former Bus Buddy from Google), arranged an outing, with another former Googler, Joanne, to check it out. I don't get to the Legion of Honor too often, and this was the day before Easter Sunday. The Legion of Honor is perched high on the western end of San Francisco and enjoys breathtaking ocean views, at least when the weather permits. And it was cooperating on Saturday. (Sunday, however, was another story.)

Staircase at California & 31st. These gorgeous mosaics were added to these steps since the last time I was here several years ago.

Overlooking the Pacific Ocean

A Legion of Honor lion

Legion of Honor

I'm ready!

This exhibit fills several rooms and offers a survey of the history of fashion. It starts with dresses from the flapper era by the Callot Soeurs and Lanvin, and then moves through time, ending with Scaasi in 1985. A highlight was Charles James' work from the 1950s. Two rooms were dedicated to James, with special focus on the architecture of his Cloverleaf Dress, as well as some of his drawings and muslins. He bequeathed much of his in-process work to the Brooklyn Museum.

Here are some of the photos that I took, using my iPhone in poor lighting conditions. (Sorry they aren't better. If you catch any errors in the comments beneath the garments, please let me know and I'll correct them. I took photos of some of the placards, but not all, and I might have gotten a few facts mixed up.) There is an accompanying book for the exhibit, which I did not buy. (So let me know if you have it and love it.)

An unattributed French evening dress from 1925. "Pink silk georgette embroidered with pink bugle beads, iridescent shell-shaped palettes, gold metallic sequins, and rhinestones."

Jeanne Lanvin, Evening Dress, Summer 1923. "Silver lame; red, pink, blue, green, and chartreuse ombre ribbon embroidery; blue satin; silver gauze; and egret feathers."

You can easily see the Japanese (Geisha) influence on this dress.

This looks like a Fortuny, but I didn't photograph the card.

House of Worth, Evening Dress, 1907-1910. "Cream silk satin, silk tulle, and lavender silk chiffon embroidered with rhinestones, pearls, and crystal beads." Is this very Downton Abbey or what?

These wonderfully whimsical shoes (and the next two pair) are by Pietro Yantorny (1879-1936), the Manolo Blahnik of his era.

One of my favorite historical designers is Elsa Schiaparelli. She was famous for her Trompe d'oeil ("fool the eye") and highly whimsical designs. This day dress looks is decorated with seed packet motifs. "Dress, 1939-1941. Powder-blue plain-weave cotton and polychrome seed-packet appliqués."

This beautifully tailored, close fitting, rather severe-looking suit, also by Schiaparelli, is decorated with grand piano buttons.

My attempt to get a close-up of the grand piano buttons on Schiaparelli's suit under dim lighting.

My favorite Schiaparelli piece in the exhibit. Necklace, Autumn 1938. "Clear Rhodoid and metallic green, red, pink, blue, and yellow painted pressed metal ornaments. Rhodoid (cellulose acetate plastic) was a newly developed material that suited Schiaparelli's intent for this necklace, perhaps for her most macabre and certainly one of her most iconic designs. The work's transparent foundation creates the illusion that the insects are crawling directly not he wearer's neck. Yet Schiaparelli was not too heavy handed: the bright colors of the toylike ornament temper the repugnant effect." REPUGNANT?!?!? I'd wear this piece in an instant!

Another necklace by Schiaparelli. Necklace, Autumn 1938. Gilt metal with rust and green plastic enameling.

Christian Dior, Evening dress, 1952-1953. "Ivory silk net embroidered with plastic sequins, palettes, and pale pink horsehair."

Gilbert Adrian, "The Tigress" evening ensemble, 1949. "Black, beige, and orange silk taffeta chine and gold lame."

Sorelle Fontana, Evening ensemble, 1954. "Pink duchesse silk sating, black velvet appliqué, and pearlescent and iridescent sequins and beads. The Italian Fontana sisters worked in the same couture traditions as their French counterparts and, like them, they produced extravagant evening wear for society women and celebrities. In the 1950s, their work epitomized the decade's aesthetic for wasp-waisted bouffant gowns fashioned in luxurious fabrics. This dress was designed for the actress Ava Gardner to wear in the 1954 film The Barefoot Contessa, in which she plays a woman of humble origins who becomes a movie star and then a countess."

Coco Chanel, Cocktail dress, 1965. "Black silk chiffon, black satin ribbon, black silk crepe de chine, and black lace."

Shoe prototypes by Steven Arpad, 1947. I'd wear these in a heartbeat.

Another view of the Steven Arpad shoes. <swoon>

Steven Arpad, Shoe prototype, 1939. <double swoon>

Steven Arpad, Evening s hoes, 1939. "Black silk satin and patent leather, black painted and carved wood, and Baroque scroll shapes."

Hat by Sally Victor, 1952-ish.

More hats by Sally Victor. The hat on the left: "Matisse" hat, 1962. "The large upturned brim of this hat provides an ideal canvas for Victor's interpretation of the French artist Henri Matisse's century with cut paper forms affixed to canvas or paper."

Another hat by Sally Victor: "Designed in 1937, when Surrealism was at its peak, this hat imitates an elaborate braided hairstyle most likely inspired by coiffures from Africa, one of the parts of the world Victor referenced throughout her career. To steer the design from a too-literal interpretation, Victor used navy blue straw and white pique, which were traditionally stylish colors and materials for spring hats."

Middle dress: Madame Eta Hentz, dress, spring/summer 1944. "Navy and white rayon"

Look at the intersecting detail on this Madame Hentz dress!

Vera Maxwell ensemble, 1958. "Black-and-white wool jersey and charcoal-gray brushed wool."

The details on this Vera Maxwell ensemble are stunning. All of those buttonholes are bound buttonholes. The 3D cargo-style pockets, the tailoring... beautiful!

Bonnie Cashin, Evening dress, 1945. "Pink and cherry pink loose plain-weave raw silk and gold sequins."

I didn't photograph the placard for this one.

Mainbocher, Evening dress, 1950. "Purple sari fabric brocaded with a gold metallic leaf-and-paisley pattern." Mainbocher was known to enjoy working with unusual fabrics, such as this silk sari.

Another Mainbocher cocktail dress.

Arnold Scaasi, Evening ensemble, 1961. "Cream and silk satin dress printed with red and black polka dots; coat of red silk barathea."

Arnold Scaasi, Evening ensemble, 1983. "Brown and pink silk taffeta; pink silk organza." Scaasi is a whimsical designer, but I prefer the clever whimsy of Elsa Schiaparelli over the in-your-face whimsy of Scaasi.

Geoffrey Beene, Evening dress, 1965. "Purple-and-white printed plain weave silk."

I love the neckline on this Geoffrey Beene neckline...

... and the red scalloped hemline which is lined in red silk!

Halston, Evening dress, 1975. "Silk chiffon tie-dyed in yellow to orange ombre grid pattern with a green diagonal stripe."

Charles James, "Tree" ball gown, 1955. "Dark pink silk taffeta and red, pink, and white nylon tulle"

Charles James "Clover leaf" ball gown, 1953. "Pink silk faille, copy silk shantung, and black silk lace with ivory silk faille backing."

The exhibit opened several weeks ago and I've been surprised I haven't seen more chatter about it on the inter webs from other local bloggers. Either they haven't made it over there yet or maybe, since it encompasses such a wide range of history, it has less general appeal. I was more enthralled with the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit, for example, from several years ago, which really dived into the output of a single designer. But it was a nice outing and I enjoyed checking out the pieces and then comparing notes with Nora and Joanne (neither one sews) to see what they liked and why. Afterward, the museum cafe is a great place to sit, nursing a decaf soy latte, and catch up with friends.


Tim Gunn Speaks!

Last night, the Commonwealth Club hosted Tim Gunn as a guest speaker at The Castro Theater in San Francisco. I went to watch it live with fellow blogger, Jilly Be.

The ceiling of the Castro, an art deco masterpiece, and my favorite theater in San Francisco.

Tim was introduced by former Project Runway contestants: Alexandria von Bromssen, Emily Payne, and Richard Hallmarq.

It was a casual conversation between Tim Gunn and interviewer, Brad Rosenstein.

It was a fabulous evening! Tim was witty, thoughtful, insightful, candid, vulnerable, and tremendously entertaining. He sure enjoys calling Anna Wintour out on her diva behavior.

But you don't have to take my word for it, listen to the podcast!


Miscellaneous Updates

Vogue came out with their Spring 2015 patterns today. There are several that I really like, though I really don't have time to do a proper round-up. I am so happy to see Kathryn Brenne is now designing for Vogue, as it gives us more interesting options! Check them out!

On Sunday, I finished my current Britex project. mem took photos yesterday, but I haven't uploaded them yet. Stay tuned!

As usual, I'm having a heck of a time choosing my next project, and I have some big deadlines coming for work, but I am really excited about doing more spring sewing. (We finally had some proper rain today, and the weather has cooled a bit, but it still feels very much like springtime!)

Have a great week!