Friday, July 18, 2008

It's done, it's DONE!

This poor jacket's been sitting on my dress form for months and all it needed was the snaps! How pathetic is that? I finally put them on today and the jacket it DONE!

Rayon jacket

Here's my review:

Pattern Description:
Knit jacket with notched collar and flounces on the 3/4 length sleeves and bottom hem.

Pattern Sizing:
36-44. I made a 42 in the bust, grading out to a 44 in the waist and hips

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes, pretty close I think.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
I didn't really follow them. I didn't even use their suggested pattern layout because I cut out the fabric on a single layer. This allowed me to keep the knit fabric smooth for all pieces and also attempt to keep the pattern even across the front. I did ok, I think - I was only off a little. I traced the pattern with 1/2 inch seam allowances.
As far as construction, I applied fusible straight tape to the shoulder seams and used a 4-thread overlock. I put the sleeves in flat instead of "set-in", but still had to put in a gathering stitch before sewing them because the sleeves had more fabric than could be eased. For the notched-collar, I consulted Vogue/Butterick Step-By-Step Guide To Sewing Techniques , which has very good illustrations and instructions for basic sewing techniques. I didn't trim the seam allowances completely though. I learned from another knit jacket project that a 1/4 inch seam allowance can sometimes be lumpy so I only trimmed at the points, gradually going out to the full 1/2 inch seam allowances I used. I pressed the collar well, using a press cloth so as not to damage the fabric. I used lots of steam and my wooden clapper to get the collar nice and flat.
I used a 3-thread narrow overlock on the edge of the flounce. I tried a lot of samples first. I found that a 3-thread rolled hem pulled away from the fabric and when I stabilized with a washaway I was surprised to find I was working with a rayon knit and not polyester as I had thought. This jacket will have to be "dry clean only", I'm afraid. Next, I tried stabilizing with fusible tape but the result was too stiff. I then decided to just use a narrow overlock. After reading Nellc's review for this pattern, I tried wooly nylon in the top looper and I liked the results.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I liked the trendy style and the fact that it used a knit.

Fabric Used:
Rayon burn-out knit with fusible tricot for the interfacing. The fabric was purchased a few years ago from G-Street Fabrics in Virginia.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:
The only alteration I made was to grade from size 42 in the bust to size 44 in the waist and hips. I changed the buttons to snaps as used on the nearly identical jacket style 120 and used 4 snaps instead of 3 since mine were a bit smaller (size 24) than called for.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Yes! Originally I wanted to make this in a thick, red jersey but was disappointed to find I didn't have enough fabric. The flounces take up a lot of fabric, so you need about 2 yards for this jacket.
This was a learning process, as I think all projects are - even if they're little things.

  • I learned that even when I think the fabric is polyester, I should check and prewash at least a sample.
  • I learned not to trim every seam allowance if it doesn't need it.
  • I learned that samples are important when trying a new technique, such as a rolled hem.
  • I learned that jackets can be knit and they don't have to be difficult.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Organized Chaos

I have a lot of sewing and knitting projects that are either in progress or are queued up. With such a large stash of fabric and yarn, I get a bit anxious when I think about the next project to work on so I thought I'd try to better organize and manage things.

With knitting projects, I have an assortment of bags that I use as "project bags," so I just keep the in-progress knitting projects in separate bags. That way I can grab the type project I want at the moment - although I have to admit that most of the in-progress projects are at the finishing stage and that's my least favorite part of knitting. Plus I have a fear of the project not fitting or working out and if I don't finish it, I won't find out. Pathetic, I know. I obviously enjoy the act of knitting more than the desire to have a knitted item.

With sewing, I don't tend to have multiple projects going at once because I'd rather not rethread the sewing machine or serger more than I need to. However, I'm always thinking ahead to what the next project will be and with far too many potential projects, I get anxious thinking about it. There are just too many!

So I've found a way to help me cope with the sewing projects. I believe I got the idea from patternreview to use bins to store each project. I find these plastic bins are just the right size to hold the fabric, pattern, and notions for each project, plus they stack. I bought six bins but I quickly filled them and have more projects identified.

(click for larger)

Being a Virgo, I need organization, so this simple solution has made me so much happier. Now I can prewash multiple fabrics at once and keep them separate from the rest of the stash, so they don't get lost and I don't get sidetracked by a new fabric purchase. I can also trace off multiple patterns at the same time and now they won't get misplaced or separated. I also like seeing the fabric and pattern together as a project, so I can see what's coming up and which items work well together.

What's in those baskets? Well, starting in the upper left, the very bottom bin has the rest of the fabric for my Burda wool jacket that's been on hold for too long. The bin on top of it has fabric and pattern for a shirt I promised to make for my husband...a long time ago. The top bin actually has two projects in it: both are mesh knits for tops - one will use a Butterick pattern I've used before and the other will use a Simplicity pattern. To the right is black gauze fabric for a skirt to go with the jacket I made (which just needs snaps but I haven't built up the courage to do them just yet - the snaps are not sew-in, so they have to be right the first time). The bin in the upper right contains the fabric for the Diana Couture skirt I started in 2006 with cotton embroidered fabric I bought in Paris. The skirt has lingered because it's a 3-tier skirt and I read that style was out, but I've decided to finish it anyway because I'm not a slave to fashion and I've seen a few tiered skirts in the current RTW sales ads. The bottom bin on the left has fabric and pattern traced from Diana Couture for a little knit bolero top to go with the skirt. The two un-binned projects are tops to go with the black gauze skirt and the Paris skirt, respectively.

Do I expect to actually get to all these projects? Well, I hope so now that they're organized.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Hot sewing

It didn't cool down all that much last night but with the windows open and the whole-house fan on, it was manageable. I actually finished a sewing project! No, not my Burda WOF jacket that only needs the snaps put on...I finished a baby blanket. I sewed the decorative stitching on my husband's co-worker's baby blanket #2. It gave me some fits because I used rayon embroidery thread in the bobbin, which I'd only filled halfway and then ran out 3/4 of the way through the perimeter of the blanket (drat!). Then I had trouble trying to get it stitching correctly, not to mention trying to match up the stitch pattern of little hearts. But it's done and now I can move on to other sewing projects! I might post a picture of the blanket tonight, but it's not all that interesting: picture baby-print flannel with hearts stitched in pink around the edge. Exciting.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Too hot!

I'm back from the east coast and my work monitoring the satellite instrument, which is performing perfectly and providing data to scientists. Yay! Click here to see the blog, if you're interested.

Since I worked nearly 120 hours over the last two weeks (not counting the travel to get there and back), I'm taking today off. I had hoped to sew today but it's 107 degrees outside and 82 inside. I think I'll wait until this evening when it cools off a bit! I do really want to get to some sewing though. I need to use some fabric before we're buried by it. I bought more fabric, beyond what I got at the PR gathering at The Fabric Place. I had to stop by G Street Fabrics in Rockville, especially since they had a 30% off holiday sale plus an extra 25% off coupon good on one item. I bought a remnant piece of knit mesh in a purple swirly print and used the coupon on a gorgeous $30/yard white cotton eyelet. But I didn't stop there. While visiting my mom over the 4th, we shopped at the G Street Fabrics in Centerville where I bought 2 yards of green and white silk for a blouse...using the coupon of course. I can't pass up travel fabric and big time savings! Thankfully the weight limit for your first checked bag on Virgin America is 70 lbs and I had a big bag, so I didn't have to ship the fabric. By the way, thumbs up for VA in-flight service but thumbs down for their check-in counter at Dulles. I had checked in via the internet the night before but still had to drop my bag at the counter. It was chaotic, frustrating, and not well planned out. Tempers flared, people cut in line. It was just not good.

What was good was being able to finish my green Rowan sweater on the flight home. I'm naming this one "Gamma Ray" and hope get blocked and sewn up soon so I can wear it.