Thursday, April 17, 2014

Wardrobe Architect: All About Prints and Color

This is a long overdue post, but since it's officially spring (it was in the 70's last weekend and it snowed yesterday, hahaha), I figured now was the time to get all of this completed!

The next part I needed to figure out for Colette's Wardobe Architect were the colors I tend to gravitate towards and what fit with the my defined core style: colorful, feminine, confident, happy, chic.

Neutrals -

The older I get, the more and more I wear neutral colors, funny enough.  In my last job, I was required to wear black for dress code, so it was always easy to get dressed for work every day.  Even before then, I wore black a lot because, honestly, black goes with everything.  In the winter months, I have a penchant for gray and can't get enough of it!  Occasionally I'll reach for some browns in the fall, and I think cream looks better on me than white.

Almost Neutrals - 

nearly neutrals

These colors aren't "neutrals" by definition, but could be consider as such.  I have a love for anything Tommy Hilfiger, and navy is almost like his "black" in everything he designs.  I love the preppiness of navy!  The rest of these colors are happy and fun, and go with so many other different colors.

Statement Colors - 

statement colors

And finally, my statement colors.  When I look at my closet, and the fabrics I'm drawn to when shopping, I really like pinks and blues (heck, just check out what I've made in the past few years).  Purple is another color that I have a connection to and feel really good in it when I wear it.  I had to include green as well, since it's my favorite color (and it's funny because I rarely sew with it!).  Anything jewel-toned is a color I really like to wear and I think looks good with my fair skin.

So when this was all said and done, I picked out my palette for the colors I'm going to try to sew with for Spring/Summer 2014 - it would be great to start sewing a wardrobe that coordinates together!

spring summer 2014

I really like these colors together - they feel fresh and feminine, and seasonably appropriate.  It's also great that I have fabrics in these colors in my stash, so I can start sewing right away!

Now, onto prints vs. solids...

I always thought of myself as a print girl because honestly, those were the only kinds of fabrics I bought when I came back to sewing a few years ago (prints hide sewing sins).  After sewing for a year, and looking at what I made vs. what I wore, it was obvious I needed to start sewing with more solids so I could mix and match the garments in my closet.

I took some photos of my closet this week after I transitioned my spring clothes and packed away my winter clothes.


I never know how to organize my closet...anyway, what you see above from left to right are some of my dresses, zip-up jackets, casual tees, dressy tees, blouses, blazers, cardis, and button-downs.

Left to right - button-downs, three-quarter sleeve tees, long sleeve tees, sweaters, skirts, and yoga/workout hoodies etc.

Notice anything?  Not a lot of prints!  Actually, when I went through my closet and figured out my 10-20 most worn garments, they were ALL solids!  This is probably because it's not obvious how often I wear them; if I wore my printed garments more, it would be obvious that I'm wearing that "same floral shirt" again.  Plus, it's easier to make outfits out of solids.  As much as I love prints, especially at the fabric store, I need to stick more to solids to get more bang for my buck in my closet.

Not to say I can't sew with prints anymore...I do love a good stripe, polka dot, or geometric print.

What colors do you like to wear?  Do you wear more prints or solids?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Finished Project: Missoni Cardigan

missoni cardigan2

missoni cardigan1

Pattern: McCall's 6559, altered
Fabric: Missoni sweater knit fabric (legit!!) from Fabric Place Basement

Tee: JCrew
Jeans: Gap
Flats: Michael Kors

This was one of those projects where I didn't consider how in the world I was going to make the fabric work with what I wanted to do, which will become evident later on in this post.

I admit it, I must have a crush on everything Missoni, their fabrics are just too amazing .  I kept looking at this Missoni sweater knit fabric every time I went in to Fabric Place Basement (which is usually once a week), eyeing the pretty colors and imagining what kind of wonderful garments to make out of it.  I think it was around the end of January when I broke down and ponied up the cashola (totally worth it though) for two yards of this colorway, thinking it would make a great sweater jacket.

missoni cardigan4

I didn't have a pattern in my stash that was the kind of jacket I wanted: basically, no seams or shaping except for the side and shoulder seams.  I realized when I got home and opened up my fabric that this stuff was fragile - the cut edges fell apart easily, so the less seams in my garment, the better.  I liked the sloping front style of the tie-front cardi of McCall's 6559, so I altered it to have a straight front instead of ties and drafted a self-facing for the cardigan neckband and fronts.  I also lengthened it, too.

The picture above gives a good idea of how the fabric is constructed - it's pretty baffling, actually.  Even though it's made up of loose ply yarn and sweater-like, the construction is more like a woven.  Those thin black threads keep everything together and connect all of the colored yarn, so if a black thread is snipped, the color pieces pull out and fall apart.  That's the only way all of the yarns connect in this fabric, very unlike a knit.  I have no idea how this fabric was manufactured!!

Missoni fuzz, post edge-serging

And this is what immediately happened after I cut out my cardigan pieces...yikes.  If I didn't have a serger, there is no way I could have made this garment.  I used the four thread setting on my serger and a wide overlock, and finished all of the edges of the garment pieces immediately after I cut them out.

The construction itself was a no-brainer, but I had to be a little creative in some instances.  For example, even though I set the sleeves in ok, some of the thin black threads become loose and I had some running holes under the arm or at the front of the sleeve cap.  I ended up "darning" them with black thread by hand, catching all of the colored yarn loops together and securing them so they wouldn't create bigger holes.  It was some tricky stitching...

missoni cardigan3

Then came the problem as to how to finish the edges of the cardigan.  I didn't want to turn the edges in, and then turn them in again and stitch them down since it would be bulky.  Thank goodness I stopped in at Grey's Fabrics and picked up some silk bias tape - you really haven't lived until you've sewn with silk bias tape!!  In retrospect I should have hand-stitched it to the edges instead of machine sewing since there's irregularities in the width of the bias tape, but oh well!  After I attached the bias tape, I folded in the front facings and hand stitched everything.  Funny enough, I forgot to hem the sleeves, but I'm ok with the edges being serged and not hemmed, you can't even tell.

missoni cardigan5

This jacket/sweater/cardigan is definitely something I'd wear for special occasions due to the nature of the fabric - it seemed appropriate to debut it at the NYC blogger meetup last month!  I'm not sure if I'd ever even have it cleaned, I wouldn't want to risk damaging the fabric.  But it's all worth it, because now I have a real Missoni garment in my closet for a fraction of the cost.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Good Mail Week

Good mail day! New book on tailoring, a Fashionary, and a set of watercolors

Boy, what a banner week it was for the mail!  A new book on tailoring, a Fashionary, and watercolors to use with the Fashionary.  Those weren't the only things that arrived:


My slip kit from Gertie came yesterday, too!  I can't wait to try my hand at making undie-garments, now I just need to get the pattern on sale.

As much as I'd like to spend some time with my new toys this weekend, my sister is in town for the weekend visiting - we're off to tromp around Boston on this beautiful day!

What are your weekend plans?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Follow Me on Bloglovin!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Hey everyone, I ran into a hiccup this week on Bloglovin' with my feed not updating.  The nice peeps at Bloglovin' tried to correct my feed, and now I'm writing this post with the above link to reclaim my blog.

Happy reading!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Fabric Affects Fit - A Comparison of Clover Pants

Last year, I wanted to finally tackle sewing pants.  And yes, I made two pairs of pants, but they never made it to the blog - I still have to fix a zipper in one pair, and the other pair is made out of a brown fabric that I don't know how to wear.  I want to share these pants, and demonstrate how a difference in fabric can affect the fit of the same exact pattern.

Note: this is a picture heavy post, and I'll be talking about crotches.  Hey, it's a sewing term!

I spent a week last year trying to get the fit right on a pair of Colette Clover Pants, and learned a lot about pant fitting by combing through my back issues of Threads, searching for articles online, and reading Pants For Real People.  By the end of the week, I ended up with these black Clovers:

black clovers1

black clovers2

black clovers3

I was pretty happy with the fit!  I took out a lot of bagginess in the seat and back leg by adjusting the crotch seam and back inseam.  The fabric was a RPL (rayon-poly-lycra) I had in my stash from when I thought I'd be sewing clothes for my old job, and it had just the right amount of stretch.  These pants still aren't finished, because I botched the zipper, but I really should fix them because I love how they fit!

So after I made the black pair, I decided to use some taupe colored poly in my stash from Metro Textiles to make Clover #2 last fall:

taupe clovers1

taupe clovers2

taupe clovers3

I liked the fit of these even better!  The fabric was a little thicker than the RPL of the first pants, and had a nice amount of stretch and recovery.  However, I never finished the hem on these or wore them - the color just doesn't work for me.  For some reason, this brown reminds me of those polyester pants with elastic waists by Alfred Dunner that old ladies wear to play bingo.  Trust me, the color looks a lot nicer here than in-person.  I can't find a single thing to wear them with in my closet, which is why they're all wrinkled looking - they've been sitting in a bin in my closet.  But all of that aside, I was very happy with how these fit, more so than the first pair.

Which brings me to Clover #3, which I stitched up last night.  Keep in mind - all three of these pants are cut from the same pattern with the same alterations.

coral clovers1

For these Clovers, I'm using a stretch cotton twill from Mood Fabrics.  And the fact that this fabric is pink, and there were folds of excess fabric in the front...I just kept looking at these pants and getting the idea that I had camel toe going on, even though these weren't tight!!

coral clovers2

This was completely unexpected as well, look at all of that extra fabric in the back.  Now, I don't want these pants to be skin-tight, since that's not how they're designed, and the instructions warn against over-fitting.  I need to be able to move and sit, but this just won't do.

coral clovers3

I mean, come on!!!  Maybe if this was circa 1998 the fit would be ok, but not the look I'm going for (I was watching "You've Got Mail" the other day, and Meg Ryan's pants fit just like this in the back...and that movie came out in the late 90's).

After studying my Pants For Real People book (which I highly recommend), and having a good laugh with Sonja and Neeno, I figured out what kind of alterations I need to make for these to fit.  I've got a case of - wait for it - "Crotch Oddities."

Yes, my friends, it's a term that I read in my book.  Specifically, I've got a front crotch bubble, which can be solved by straightening out the front crotch seam.

front before and after

I essentially pinned out a 1/4 inch of fabric right around where I had the "wrinkles," effectively straightening the front crotch seam.

back before and after

As for the back, I made the alteration that I did on the original paper pattern: took out leg width via the back inseam.  I pinned about a 1/4" in from the original seam on the back leg, but still kept the original seam allowance in the front (in the above right photo, I only pinned the right leg with this change, the left leg is the same).  I'm realizing that it doesn't look like much of a change from the photo on the left, but it really does fit better and look trimmer.  Again, I don't want these pants to be skin-tight, and I need some ease for sitting.

You know, I ran into this problem when I made my Elisa-lotte dress recently with a stretch cotton fabric.  I've made the Charlotte skirt many times, and never had a fitting problem, but when I made it with the stretch cotton, I had to take it in a ton on the sides.  I'm guessing that that's what I'll run into when I work with stretch cotton.

So I guess the moral of this story is: just because a pattern fits with one type of fabric, it doesn't mean that it will fit with another.  These were all stretch fabrics, with a good degree of stretch, but because they had different fiber contents, the fit that I got with all three were different.