About Me

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Grinch Who Stole Summer, or: Life is short, make the coat

Hi all!
The days are getting shorter and colder (only in Jerusalem, the rest of Israel is still like living in a toaster), and I'm sad that I didn't have a chance to "summer" this year. I usually enjoy the longest days, just being thankful for more hours of light. Last year we've spent August in Scotland where we had sunlight till 22:00 and I miss that so much. Spending August (not) studying for exams is not right.
Yesterday I had my monthly check-up and the doctor said thing are going well and I don't need to come again for 3 months! I was so stressed while waiting for my appointment, so I promised myself that if things are better than last time I'm throwing caution to the wind and starting my Cascade duffle coat RIGHT NOW. It is my dream project but I procrastinated it for so long because that are so many obstacles to overcome before construction begins.
Today I spend 2.5 hours taping and cutting the PDF after unsuccessful attempts to print it in a copy shop. Apparently in Israel they charge about 80$ for a job like this.
Next I need to cut the fabric. Being my first coat, I didn't really know what kind of fabric I should buy for the shell. I bought it in an end-of-winter sale for 2.5$ a meter, but I think it's too thin for a sturdy coat. My plan is to interface all the pieces, and cut the main pieces on a double layer. Consequently it means I need to cut the shell, than additional shell pieces, than all pieces from fusible interfacing, than the lining pieces. Of course my shell fabric is plaid, so I'll have the fun of matching plaid and deciding on location/ grain etc. At this point I'm so mentally invested in the project all of these decisions seem really important, even though I know it doesn't matter so much if the pockets are on the bias or not.
The last obstacle is the fit. I'm not making a muslin because I don't have anything in my stash in similar weight and making a muslin from a different material won't help very much. I know that this project may not work out but I'm fine with it. The shell fabric was cheap so it is as close to a test garment as possible (though I'm not cutting any corners in construction!). My Grainline size is 2 (or 2.5), and both my Lindens and Archers fit me well in this size. The only part I worry about is the fit around the shoulders as mine are broader than average. My plan is to try the shell on once I'm done before grading the seams, and if necessary release the seams a bit.
Hopefully I'll finish the cutting, fusing and basting this weekend.

Till next time,
Happy sewing!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Victoria Blazer review

Hi all!

Yesterday I took the last exam of the year, in pediatrics. I don't have the grade yet so I can't fully celebrate the end of the academic year but chances are I passed it. I past my previews two as well (internal medicine and surgery) despite not studying and having a miserable experience (at least in the surgery exam). Pediatrics is my strongest discipline so I'm letting myself indulge in not feeling guilty over not studying; guilt is such a time sucker! It's a strange position to be at, just aiming to pass the exams rather than excel them, but this year (my seventh year in university) introduced new challenges and priorities, so I'll take what I get. 

My SewJo is back so I'm enjoying that as well. My first impression of the academic year is that I barely managed to sew, but that isn't true. With the exception of sewing my wedding dress (I haven't posted it yet but I will) I also made a few utilitarian garments, mostly Linden sweatshirts by Grainline, and tried at least one new-to-me pattern - the Inari by Named . Though it isn't the end of 2016, the end of an academic year always puts me in a pensive mode so taking the time to remember the successes isn't too bad, especially among the "failures" a faced this year.

While I have many new ideas for upcoming projects I decided I'll restrict my fabric options to my stash until its volume will fit into one shelf in our closet. I'm not sure how it will go yet because I find that the more I sew from my stash the more volume it occupies, because the leftovers aren't easy to fold but harder to use. With that thought in mind I also decided not to put buttons on my Aster test garment for now, the fabric isn't pleasant to wear and I don't want to "waste" buttons on something I'm not likely to wear. As a test garment it has done its job of teaching me what I need to know in order to make my real Aster, and finishing it just for the sake of finishing doesn't feel right. 
BTW I've been mistaken for being pregnant because of the Aster picture (by a non-sewing bad-mannered person obviously). Just want to clear that up - I'm not, it's the cotton tank underneath that makes the shirt "stand".

And now for the Victoria Blazer -

I think it's the fastest from-purchase-to-garment item I have ever made. Last weekend I suddenly really wanted to make that floral cotton lycra I had in my stash into a loose fitting blazer and yesterday it has made its debut in the pediatrics exam! It was a satisfying make with good pattern-fabric compatibility. 

Worn over one of my favorite Strathconas with my pre-test face of horror

The dry facts

The Victoria Blazer is a half-lined loose fitting blazer by "By Hand London".
The pattern is half lined, with the body lined using the same pieces of the shell, leaving the sleeves unlined. The blazer has side-seam pockets, the collar is flat, and the lining is attached using the bagging technique. 
At first I was reluctant to sew from By Hand London. I'm more likely to purchase patterns produced by brands that make me feel like I "know" the person behind them and with whom I share values/ lifestyle/ fashion style. By Hand London is a very contemporary cool brand with very cool patterns, which is quit the opposite of my uncool self. Additionally I prefer less edited / more natural presentation of garments. The sample photos of their patterns is similar in presentation to RTW sites and that puts me off a little. however, from the (less edited) versions on-line/ Instagram, I thought the Victoria Blazer as a pattern was nice on its own so I wanted to try.  

I used the PDF version (as always). The A4 pages did not fully align, I was a bit disappointed with it, but that's normal for most PDF patterns.  

Floral cotton-lycra for the shell, with contrast cotton-lycra for the collar and lapel. Black viscose for lining. Interfacing, and cotton scraps for the pockets. All materials are from my stash (yey!!)
Sizing and modifications
Based on my bust circumference (85 cm full bust, AA cup) I'm between size 2 and 4. Given my small cup size and the oversized silhouette I went for a size 2.
I couldn't rationalize the half-line approach so I cut the sleeve pieces from my lining fabric as well for a fully lined version.
I only loosely followed the instructions, as I find them too long, and I made some changes to the order of construction. I also interfaced the collar and lapels, and made a wider hem (5cm) for a shorter cut. 

Worn over my only "formal" dress, made four years ago but going strong! Went with my best friend to celebrate our 7th friendship day

I think it's a great oversized blazer perfect for air-conditioned environments. The loose fit doesn't restrict movement and I love how the floral makes it summary and "light" without being too cute. It fits a gap in my wardrobe I couldn't define, which is unexpected. I made it just for fun but I've worn it already. I feel a real bad-ass when wearing it! I went outside my comfort zone with this one and I'm happy I did. Also it's the first time I ever bagged a lining before!
It feels a bit... like "fast sewing". The lining rolls from inside of the jacket. Before closing the hem I trimmed the seam allowance and that helped a bit, but without under-stitching and without facings there is only so much one can expect from a slippery lining fabric. There were also some additional "glitches" in constructions, probably my fault, but the lapels were too long so they are caught in the hem. I'm also bothered with the flat collar. I think a collar stand and facings would make a better pattern/ garment without taking away from the overall casual feel of the blazer. Lastly, I would prefer a different method of construction such that the lining's hem would be shorter than the shell. Using the same pattern pieces means that the lining shows under the hem.
All of the above result in a faster process of construction, but I felt like it compromised the quality of the end result. 
I could probably go on and on about each and every tiny detail that makes this blazer less than perfect and criticize my skills, but hey! I'm a med-student! I pay so others can criticize me instead!

All in all despite the few details I mentioned, this is a really nice blazer and I'm happy I tried the pattern. It is a great pattern for a first lined garment and I probably would have postponed trying this new-to-me skill if not for the easy(ish) pattern. It is fun to wear and is a great alternative for the summer, after wearing my Linden sweatshirts throughout June I should have figured that out... I have the Bellatrix Blazer waiting for me once I want to try again with a more structured version.

On other news I've already completed my "real" Aster (only buttonholes and buttons left to sew... famous last words!), and it's really nice! (despite, you know, not being perfect...). More on that next time.

Enjoy the remaining of the summer!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

One stitch at a time... Aster progress

Hi all!
I'm trying to keep myself together during the last weeks of the academic year while feeling rather disconnected from it all. I took the General Surgery exam today which was a complete disaster that left me physically drained, so I couldn't finish the Aster I started, but a stitch a day will eventually result in a complete garment. I often expect that surgery will make sense to me, just as sewing usually does, but the reality is different. While nothing in medicine is ever black and white multiple choice questions tend to focus on the grey area in which choosing the "correct" answer is sometimes impossible; especially if you're the kind of person that always overthink things and don't accept "raw edges" in anything in life. I'm trying to remind myself that unlike these weird and crazy exams in real life I can sometimes find a place where I belong, and manage scenarios much better... and maybe I should also work on that "raw edges" thing. Imperfection can be perfect in its own way.

Back to sewing - I bought the Aster pattern immediately upon its release, a very rare impulse purchase, because at the time I was looking for a button down (or up? can you please explain the difference?) pattern that is less boxy and casual than the Archer, and also a pattern that offers short sleeves with cuffs along with the traditional long sleeve (with a tower placket!). The only down side of the pattern is the C cup bust that it is drafted for. I usually make a Small Bust Adjustment on my tops anyway (to correct the standard B cup to my AA), but I was afraid the pattern will not suit my body type, being drafted for a more traditional woman figure than mine. 

the Small Bust Adjustment for the Aster recommends the sewer to choose the size based on the circumference of the full bust corrected to a C cup. According to this I should have made a size 4 or 6, based on my "corrected" bust measurement (I have a 85cm full bust, with 85cm upper bust. true story). After overthinking it (for months) I decided to go with a size 2 according to my true full bust measurement with 1 cm extra, and do a 0.5" SBA on each front. Despite what it appears to be, sewing isn't pure math... 
Instead of sewing a complete muslin I decided to try a quick test garment with the only piece of stash fabric I don't really like - I got it from a friend's mother, while the print is crazy in a good way, the fabric itself feels like plastic. 

Despite breaking all the sewing rules, neglecting all the notches and not pressing any of the seams, the more progress I make the more I like this shirt. I only have the hem and buttons to complete and it might end up a wearable garment!

I feel stupid for putting off this project just because I was afraid from making a mistake - cutting the wrong size and ruining good fabric. The more I read about fabric waste and the ecological impact the more guilt I feel towards my NEED to create with PHYSICAL MATERIAL. I can't live only on the virtual world and fabric is like air to me. Depriving myself of it just because I'm afraid to increase my ecological footprint is such a burden, so is avoiding new patterns just because they might not suit me. At the end re-sewing TNTs or only attempting shape-less garments that require little to no fitting is not fun. It is extremely practical, but not crafty. Working on a new pattern and not thinking too much about the end result is so liberating. Like a child crafting in the present and not worrying about the space it will occupy in the world and such.

So with that positive spirit I'll leave you with a picture of me trying on my almost-complete Aster proudly worn over my me-made pajamas (city gym shorts, and a tank from a slip pattern).

I thought of sewing another Aster (the practicality!) but after a successful challenge I would like another... Now I'm thinking of sewing the Victoria blazer using a colorful bright floral I have in my stash. What do you think?