Saturday, February 23, 2008

Finished: BWOF 01/2005 #134 Jacket

I finished this jacket last week but I wanted to have it professionally pressed before I brought it in for “Show and Tell”. (The white spot is a picture problem and not on the jacket.) I made this jacket to wear with the BWOF 09/07-129 dress and camouflage my mid-section. That mission was accomplished. But, this project had other positive outcomes.
  • I successfully completed a three-dot BWOF jacket using BWOF directions! I could have used simpler directions from another source, especially for the collar/lapel, but I set a personal goal of using BWOF directions and learning the BWOF methods.

  • I made modifications that were additions, not shortcuts. The original jacket was unlined. I added a full lining to the front, a partial lining to the back and I used a Hong Kong finish on the exposed seams rather than a serged finish.

  • I “shopped my stash” and used fabric that I had on hand for the bias strips. Many months ago, I acquired a coordinated set of black and white fat quarters. I used the fat quarters to make bias strips for the Hong Kong finish and piping. My eco-conscious daughter, who zealously touts "reduce-reuse-recycle", would be proud of me.

  • The patchwork effect in the bias strips represented a step outside my comport zone. I’m a boring, matchy-matchy type when it comes to my wardrobe. Making the pieced bias strips was “exciting”! Of course, the public will never see the patchwork effect and it is only slightly visible even to me … but I know it’s there.
A few months ago, I resolved to make each of my sewing projects "notable" . I wanted each project to do more than give me something to wear. This jacket certainly fits the criteria.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Next: BWOF Amalgam Project

I was in one of my favorite indie fabric stores (Hayes Sewing, Wilmington DE) and saw the print fabric above. I immediately visualized a two piece dress using the fabric. I didn't have a pattern in mind, but I bought the fabric anyway. When the BWOF February 2008 issue arrived, I thought the #130B tunic and my fabric were a perfect match. The skirt in that particular collection is a straight skirt and not the best choice for my body type. I looked through my BWOF index and found a more suitable skirt in the May 2006 issue. I know how much BWOF loves plunging necklines. The copy describing the tunic recommends a tank top be worn under the tunic "for modesty's sake". I found a tank top in the April 2005 issue. So, I'm calling this outfit a BWOF Amalgam.

I'm so glad I sew. I visualized an outfit and I'm able to produce just what I visualized. I really don't understand why everybody doesn't sew their own clothes. And, who needs the Big 4? I was able to leisurely flip through my BWOF index and find just the pieces I needed. And I didn't have to run to the store and buy patterns. I'm in sewer's heaven over here!

Monday, February 11, 2008

BWOF 01/05 #134: What Makes the Freakin' Collar So Freaky

I compared BWOF's method with the method given in Alto, Neall and Palmer's Jackets for Real People in which McCalls patterns are typically used. There are several differences which account for the freakiness of the Freakin' Collar.

1. Collar Pieces
BWOF's collar is in two pieces: the collar and the collar stand. The collar rolls along the area between the collar and collar stand. (Yellow arrow) Since the JFRP collar is in one piece, extra interfacing and a line of stitching are used to define the roll line.

2. Assembling the Collar
BWOF's upper and under collar are sewn together before the collar is attached to the neckline and facing. The under collar is sewn to the neckline and the upper collar is sewn to the facing. In JFRP, the upper and under collar are sewn to the facing and jacket, respectively, forming a Lining/Facing Unit and a Jacket Unit. These two units are sewn together along the outer edges of the jacket.

3. Attaching the Collar
The BWOF collar attachment seam is sewn in three segments. The first two segments are from each notch to the corner (red arrow). Stitching is stopped and the corners are clipped before sewing the remaining neckline seam (between the corners). This is repeated to sew the upper collar to the facing. (Remember, the upper and lower collars are already sewn together.) JFRP's method uses two symmetrical right-left segments. Sewing starts from the notch, pivots at the corner and continues to the center back, where stitching stops. This is repeated for the other side.

Some BWOF methods are not seen in Big 4 patterns. A more experienced seamstress or tailor might be familiar with The Freakin' Collar treatment, but I'd never seen the method until I ran smack into it, head first, in July 2006 . (I still have the bruises.) My experience with tailored jackets is limited, but if anyone has seen these methods anywhere other than a BWOF pattern, I'd like to know about it. JFRP's method looks easier to me. It seems easier to attach the collars to their respective units and then sew the units together. I'm sure, with careful sewing, the results are the same. But, I was determined to learn the BWOF way. When I'm pressed for time, I can use the JFRP method. It's always good to have options.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

BWOF 01/05 #134 Jacket - Progress Report

It's good thing I changed my attitude and embraced "Slow Sewing". Otherwise, I would never have taken on this jacket. What started out as a simple plan to rescue an unflattering dress has turned into a huge sewing ordeal!

Experience has taught me to read BWOF instructions carefully and repeatedly before doing anything. In reading the instructions for this jacket, I discovered my old friend, "The Freakin' Collar". In the past, I had trouble with the FC because I couldn't figure out how the collar band fit onto the collar and how the collar fit onto the lapel and neckline. Trust me, it was not a typical collar and collar band treatment. Eventually, I mastered the FC, but I was not happy to see it again in this jacket. This time I have a plan! I'm going to use color coded stickers to transfer seam matching numbers to the fabric pieces. I just match the stickers and I'll know how the pieces go together. (she said hopefully!)

The original version of this jacket didn't include a lining and I'm ambivalent about adding one. Once I started making lining pattern pieces, I reconsidered my decision to add a lining. If Aenne Burda didn't want a lining in this jacket, who I am to put one in? I know all the pros of lining the jacket, but I'm not sure I'm up for the experience. My alternative plan is to line only the sleeves (as described by Nancy Zeiman) so the jacket will slip on easily and use a Hong Kong finish on the seam allowances (to dress it up a bit). Or, I could line the sleeves, make a partial lining for the back and a full lining for the front (as described in Easy Guide to Sewing Jackets). Right now, I'm feeling intimidated by BWOF. I love BWOFs but they don't always love me. On the other hand, I have the power to make this jacket into exactly the jacket I want. I should not be feeling bullied by a piece of cotton twill. I should be feeling empowered.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Praise God, From Whom All Blessings Flow

I just received a call from my daughter at school. She has been named salutatorian of her graduating class. I am so thankful and proud of her! She worked really hard to achieve this!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Emergency Fix: BWOF 01/05 #134

In spite of all of the positive comments on the BWOF 09/07 #129 dress, I still think it doesn't flatter me. One nameless person (you know who you are, Cidell – LOL!) disagreed with me and accused me of being on crack! A few people suggested a jacket and I've decided to go with that. This jacket is from BWOF 01/2005 #134. I bought some black twill from my favorite Fabric Row fabric store - Kincus Fabrics. This is a fashion emergency and it goes right to the front of my sewing queue. I'd committed to the BWOF Sew-Along at Pattern Review, but those plans have changed. Besides, I don't need a sew along to encourage me to use BWOF. I might be able to resuscitate this outfit with a little sewing CPR. (Complete Pattern Rescue)

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Finished: 09/2007 #129

I'm not thrilled with this dress. Now, I remember why I prefer wovens over knits. Knits don't press well. They stretch and move on their own when you're trying to cut them. Knits are like naughty children. They turn out fine in the end, but they require a little extra watching. They can't be trusted.

Let's deconstruct this dress.
I liked the print on the bolt in the store. But, it's a little busy on me. I interfaced the facing with what I thought was a fusible knit tricot interfacing. But, it didn't stretch at all once it was fused to the fabric. Somehow, the facing ended up about 1 1/2 inch shorter than the front when I pinned them together. The length difference didn't go away with easing. Lucky for me, the print is so busy you can't really see the resulting puckers in the front. Usually, I avoid belted dresses because I don't have a waist. I let my waist "zone" see the belt, hoping it would get the idea and magically turn into a waist "line" when I put it on. No such luck. But, without the belt, the dress looked frumpy. I couldn't win. I'm the one woman on the earth who can't wear wrap dresses.

Now the positive: Several of my last BWOF projects used a narrow zig-zag or rolled hem finish. First, I basted to mark the hemline. Then I pressed up the hem allowance as well as I could; knits being so hard to press, and all.

I used wooly nylon to serge the rolled hem along the fold. The final step was to trim away the allowance.

It's a nice enough hem treatment. It gives a little lettuce edge flounce to the hemline. I like this dress from the hips down. It's the only part of the dress I actually like. The little flounce at the hem is the reason.

The old folks say, "Nothing beats a try but a failure". Well, this "try" was beaten senseless by "failure". Oprah says, "What are you supposed to learn from this experience?" I learned: You can't hit one out of the park every time you're at bat. I'm going to hang this in the closet and move on the the next project and not look back.

ETA: When my daughter saw me in this dress, she said she liked it -- and she rarely compliments me. Go figure!