Saturday, November 29, 2014

Second Winter Jacket Muslin

I'm still working on a winter jacket for my Mother-in-law. I had to make a fairly large adjustment to the first muslin, so I decided to make a second muslin before going any further. The adjustment was to shorten the bodice length, as the waistline was sitting too low.

My MIL is much happier with this test jacket and I am, too. I added a facing to cover the zipper. I reversed the collar, so that the bigger side is on the right of the jacket. That way it will be easier to do up the large button near the collar. I still have to fix the collar a bit to make it the right length for the neckline, but it is getting close.

I added pockets along the front princess seams. I also added a bit more room in the underarms by adding gusset pieces to the side back, side front, and sleeve pieces. This is the same alteration to add underarm ease that I did to my winter jacket.

After shortening the bodice, I found that I shortened it too much in the back. So, I slashed it open and pinned a piece of scrap fabric. This alteration pushed the bottom sides of the back piece towards the front and causing some buckling (if you look closely, you can see the extra fabric in the picture below). So, I will be taking a bit off of the back piece along the side seam when I adjust the pattern.

That's it! As I said, my MIL is happy with how this is coming along. I just need the fabric to show up (I ordered from Seattle Fabrics) and to make my changes to begin sewing the final winter jacket.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Winter Jacket Muslin

Sewing the jacket for my Mother-in-law is going pretty well so far. As mentioned in a previous post, I used a raglan dress pattern as a sloper to make up a jacket pattern. I made up a jacket muslin for my MIL to try on.

My MIL loves it so far - especially, the large asymmetrical collar. The muslin fit very well. I was afraid that my measurements would be off, but I was actually pretty close. The only major change was shortening the bodice. While making the jacket, I drew a line across the waistline according to the pattern. This made it easy to see that it was too low, so I just I pinned it up (as shown in the photos). This one change made a big improvement to fit.

I also pinned up more of the waistline at the sides than at the front and the back. I'm guessing that this is just doing the opposite of a swayback and swayfront adjustment. It flattens the shaping at the front and back.

My MIL and I went shopping for wool fabric for her coat. She was having a hard time deciding and kept mentioning how she didn't want something too heavy, too warm, and too formal. I then asked her if she really wanted a winter coat. That got her thinking and she started to take a second look at my winter jacket, which I was wearing at the time. Long story short, we've now decided that her jacket will be made of 2-ply Ultrex, like my jacket. I'm glad we didn't just buy the wool fabric online and jump into it.

I'm now working on a second jacket with all the features (like pockets and cuffs). That way I can make sure my pieces actually fit together.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Pin-Up Girls Linda Bra #2

I made a second Pin-Up Girls Linda Partial Band Bra. It's still not quite the right size, but I'm getting there.

Sewing this second bra went a little smoother than the first. I didn't have to struggle with tension or the instructions, since I figured that stuff out the first time around.

Inside of the bra
The first bra I made was a size 36B. It fit pretty well in the cups, is a little snug in the band, and the underwires seem a little small. This time around I tried the 38B, which has the next size up underwires. Now for the new reveal...

Not bad, but still not perfect. The underwires feel good, but the bridge is now gaping about 1" away from my body. The cups are slightly too big. I also had some issues with the straps and the band. The band ended up being about 1" too short for comfort! Since this bra was still otherwise wearable, I decided to make a small extension piece out of the bra material.

Again, not perfect, but it still functions and is now no longer too tight. Another issues is that the straps that came with the findings kit from Bra Makers Supply were huge! They are 3/4" wide and I had to really angle them to get them to be close to where they needed to go. As you might notice in the picture above, the right side is a little more than the left. The right side almost sits flat on my back, but the left has some buckling. I prefer much thinner strap elastics for this reason.

Overall, the bra is still wearable and is more comfortable than most RTW bras I have ever owned. For my next bra, I hope to address these fitting issues and get even closer to the right bra for me.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Another Winter Jacket Project

I'm sewing another winter jacket project. Well, actually more of a coat. It's going to be a wool coat for my Mother-in-Law as a Christmas gift. So, I'm tackling a bunch of new challenges at once: sewing for someone else, sewing plus sizes, and sewing with wool.

Of course, first we had to choose a style. My MIL really loves raglan sleeves and I think wants to look like a tent. I joke, but the look she really likes are probably best represented by 1950s swing coats and opera coats. I think the issues are that she never had a coat that actually fit her (like most of us) and that she has body issues (like most of us). So, I persuaded her try a coat that fits (but is not too 'fitted') first.

"Excuse me, tent coming through."
So, my MIL is in the 'plus size' range. I already know how ridiculous that is, since I myself are at the top end of the 'regular size' range and I'm not very big. Thanks to the collection of Burdastyle magazines, I had a lot of patterns to pick through.

Unfortunately, none of the patterns were quite right. There was this raglan sleeve 'bubble' coat pattern (Burdastyle 04/2014 #130):

But, the bubble is almost as bad as a tent, so no dice. I think you would have to be pretty tall to pull off this look.

What we were really looking for, is something more like the raglan sleeve coat I had tried for my winter jacket (Simplicity 2149). Unfortunately, I only have it in small sizes.

To make that pattern, I turned to a dress pattern I had. This dress pattern is a lot like a raglan sleeve sloper (Burdastyle 08/2014 #142).

To turn it into something resembling the coat pattern we wanted, I first added ease to all of the pieces, so they were the right (hopefully) size for a jacket. I aimed for 3" of ease in the bust and 5-6" in the waist and hips. And added 2.5" to the sleeve widths. Below is the original front piece, which I slashed and spread to the right size.

I then re-traced the new front and did the same with the back. Using my new front piece, I eliminated the bodice darts and created a princess seam (this post by ikatbag was very helpful). I positioned the princess seam about 1" to the outside if the original bodice dart for styling. I also added fabric along the center front for a button band.

I stole the collar from Burdastyle Plus Special 2/2014 #405 short coat. It's a really nice asymmetrical collar. I shortened it's height and made it the right length to fit the neckline.

Whew! I've made up a test coat, but I'll save that for another post.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Knitting: Fail or Crisitunity?

I'm almost finished my planned grey cable sweater. But, things have not turned out as I hoped. I finished the body and the sleeves and then blocked the sweater. That's when things didn't go so well. My sweater turned into a dress!

Not horrible, but not what I was going for.

The pattern is May Replay by Debra Hoss. This is what the sweater is supposed to look like:

She looks much happier than I do in the picture above
The pattern is very well written with plenty of good instructions and charts. The sweater is a nice a classical looking cable sweater with 3/4 length and full length sleeve options. The body is knitted in the round until the neckline and then it is knitted flat. The sleeves are knitted flat and then attached to the body.

I wanted to use a nice, soft yarn. Wool often leaves me scratchy. So, I chose Rowan Baby Merino Silk DK. The yarn is super soft and easy to knit with. My only complaint is the occasional knot in the ball (you think that for yarn at this price you wouldn't have that, but oh well...). However, this yarn has a larger gauge than what is used for the pattern and that's where the trouble started.

Using a different gauge than the pattern is usually not a problem for me. I just do a bit of math, chose a size with the stitch count I want, and I'm good to go. I did a test swatch, but I must admit I probably didn't make it large enough (4" wide by 2.5" tall). I found when I washed the swatch, the yarn relaxed a lot and my swatch got much bigger. I found my new gauge, did my math, and away I went.

While I was knitting, I thought I was ok. This is what it looked like before blocking:

Maybe a little snug, but I thought it would block a little bigger, so no panic.

Was I wrong! For whatever reason, my brain must have been shut off when I started this project. I didn't take the time to see what adjustments I should make to the length. So, when I blocked it, it expanded into a dress! I wouldn't mind it too much, except the side shaping is in the wrong place.

It doesn't look too bad in the above photo, but when my arms are down, the narrowest part sits just above my hips and not at my waist. Not a great look.

I tried re-blocking it, but it didn't work. My sweater is about 3"-4" too long, the neckline is plunging, and the armholes are huge. This seems like a complete knitting fail. Sigh...

However, instead of just tossing the sweater away and/or frogging it, it occurred to me that my good friend, who is bigger than me, just might fit in this sweater. I made her try on the body and it fits! Being so near to Christmas, I guess I have knit my friend a Christmas gift. Crisitunity!

I guess I also learned a lesson in making sure my test swatches are big enough. I was just naive, since I've never had this much of a change with other yarns I have used. But now, this sweater is one giant test swatch. So, if I ever use this yarn again, I'll now how big my final project will be.

Once I give my friend the completed sweater, I will take more pictures to share. In the mean time, I must start some other Christmas gifts and re-plan a cable sweater for me.