29 April 2016

Simplicity 2153 (anorak): Almost Finished

Sorry folks, I had to exorcise the demon that was that polyester fabric.  Fortunately I hadn't progressed too far with flat-lining so I didn't have much unpicking to do.  Here it sits, seething in its unfinished glory waiting to become a backpack or tote bag. 

Cotton denim is SO much more pleasant to sew.  Everything pressed and behaved beautifully.  Well - almost everything.  Read on.

While sewing this jacket didn't take forever, I made a lot of mistakes which obviously increased the completion time.

Fabric & Notions:
  • 2.5 yards 100% cotton denim (not from stash)
  • 3 yards 100% floral cotton lawn (from stash)
  • 1.5 yards Ambiance bemberg (sleeve lining; from stash)
  • 8 gold studs (Pacific Trimming)
  • 24" gold separating zipper (SIL Thread)   
  • weft fusible interfacing
  • 90/14 universal needle (for shell)
  • 70/10 microtex needle (for lining) 
  • regular sewing and serger thread
Sizing/Fit:  I cut a size 16 and did a 5/8" FBA.  I found that a 16 was rather roomy, but there was slight gaping at the center front.  The FBA solved this problem.  Since I didn't know where to rotate the dart, I just left it.
I also shortened the sleeves two inches. 
What I neglected to do was move the casing line up.  I am shortI know this.  But for some reason, I fail to adjust the placement of things like this to account for my height.

 "Unbloused," the casing line is way too low.  Meh.
About that casing:  I say that this coat is almost finished because I cannot find cord to fit my cord locksI bought the cord locks last summer in NYC giving no thought to the size of the cord needed.   Oops.

I could use rattail, but it's not hefty enough.  I am thinking about using twill tape, but I'm not certain it will be strong enough either. I called the store where I bought the cord locks; unfortunately, this is the largest size they have.  D'oh!  I will check a couple more places and see if they have something suitable.  If I can't find smaller cord, I'll look for beads or something else to accommodate the cord I have.
To make the casing, I used 2-inch wide self-bias tape.

Flat-lining:  The pattern doesn't call for a lining, but I added one anyway.  After a long search for a good way to line the coat, I settled on flat-lining using Bunny's (La Sewista) tutorialI've never flat-lined anything before and found the technique extremely easy!
Basically, the technique combines underlining and a Hong Kong seam finish in one.  The lining is cut using the same pattern pieces, but with an extra 1/2" added to the side seams.   The lining is then sewn to the shell , right sides together, with 1/4" seam allowancesFinally, the lining is turned so that the pieces are wrong sides together and the extra 1/4" is wrapped around the edge of the seam allowance of the shell.
Pretty neat, huh?
The sleeves are flat-lined as well, but I didn't follow Bunny's tutorial.  I didn't understand part of it and opted to do something different.  I cut the sleeve lining from rayon Bemberg - less the hem allowance.  Then I sewed the hem of the sleeve lining to the hem of the jacket.

Once I pressed the hem up, I serged the side seams and treated the whole thing as one unit.  The only thing I don't like about this is the hem finish.  Since the side seam is sewn after the hem is finished, the seam isn't encased in the hem.  Bleh.  I'll be okay with this for now, but it's not something I do often.

Other construction notes:  I created a back neck facing so that the collar seam would be completely enclosed.  I made a mistake somewhere in measuring the facing width because the facing doesn't lie flat at all.  The wrinkly and unruly mess isn't visible from the outside, but I know it's there. =)  I might take a series of darts in the bottom of the facing just to make it lie flat.  Maaaybe.

I also used Bunny's tutorial on the "burrito method" to sew the back yoke. 

Because I made so many mistakes sewing the coat, the neckline stretched a bit.  As a result, I had to take a slight tuck to get the collar to sit evenly.

Yeah, I know.  I really should re-position the collar so as not to need the tuck.  But that would mean unpicking topstitching, already-trimmed and graded facings, casing, and a shitload of other stitches.  Let's be honest, I am not doing all of that.  The small tuck isn't visible under the collar.  I rarely pop my collars, so I'm not worried about it.

A few irks:  I like the idea of the shoulder tab, but you can't see the button over the huge collar.  It seems kind of pointless.    

The casing on the collar is supposed to end at the edge.  I wasn't sure how this was supposed to be finished, so I made tiny buttonholes instead.

I should have interfaced the pocket facings - even though the instructions don't say to do so.  I think over time the pockets are going to sag in an unflattering way.  Eh.  It's okay for now.

Conclusion:  I'm happy with the coat.  I wanted a light-weight transition coat that I can wear in more casual settings.  I absolutely ADORE my trench coat but I don't want to wear it out.  I could...I really could.   This anorak will let the trench get some rest. =)


Up next:  I cut out this top...

Jalie 3130
 ...and did NOT make a muslin.  I cut a straight size Z and used the finished bust measurement of 45.75 inches to calm my fears.   Yeaaaaah, we'll see how this goes. =)

Until next time, peace!


10 April 2016

Polyester and pressing...

... do not mix.  At all.  I'm working on Simplicity 2153 and having a helluva of a time trying to press this shiny polyester quilted fabric.  This stuff is THE DEVIL.  Let me tell you.  I press and clap and press and steam and press.  The fabric just bounces back out of submission.

Pure.  Evil.

Pressing is a necessary step that I follow religiously when sewing.  This jacket is really testing my patience - so much so that I am considering abandoning it all together.  I don't have time to be foolin' with some unruly fabric!

I had such high hopes for this too.  I bought the fabric in NYC last summer with the sole intention of making this pattern.  I bought all of the hardware, matching zipper, and everything.  Bah! 

Working with difficult fabric is a sure-fire way to send my sewjo packing.  This coat is happening, but in cotton denim instead.  

How do you handle difficult fabric?  Would you keep going?




03 April 2016

Messenger Bag Knockoff

Taking a small break from sewing clothes and channeling my inner bag guru, Kyle, I decided to make a messenger bag.  I have a reason for making/needing it now, but I'll talk about that another time.

I have a Simplicity messenger bag pattern, but I didn't feel like making it.  Oddly, cutting out a bunch of squares and rectangles from a pattern did not appeal to me.  So I searched the internets for "free messenger bag tutorials" and came upon this one:  Moop Knockoff by Corvidarium.

(photo credits:  Wendy at Corvidarium)
Until visiting the Corvidarium blog, I had never heard of Moop bags.  The canvas bags are all handmade in Pittsburgh, PA and prices are in the mid to high 100s.  The knockoff above is based on Moop's Letter Clutch...
 ...except that Wendy made it larger and added a cross-body strap.

For the most part, her tutorial is pretty good.  She breaks the construction into five separate blog posts with pictures and instructions.  Although, there were a few head-scratching moments that left me unpicking stitches more than once.  If you want to make this bag, here are some extra tips/thoughts that may help:

This is the intro post that gives the dimensions of all of the pieces to cut (shell, lining, and contrast lining) as well as all of the hardware needed.  

Tip:  Check the comments section for a better description of the strip sizes.  It's easy to figure out in the body of the post, but Wendy gives more exact information in the very last comment.

Tip:  If you're using a directional print for the lining, make sure that the image runs from top to bottom of your strip.  

Tip:  Don't cut a 1" x 12" strip.  Instead, cut this strip 2" x 12".  This piece is used at the top of the back zipper and with 3/8" seam allowances, I found it impossible to turn the remainder over, press, and topstitch again.  

Tip:  She's right that using a longer zipper is better since the extra can be cut off.  Judging by the picture, she used a nylon zipper.  If you use a longer metal zipper (like I did), just be careful and sew slowly.  There are multiple passes of the needle in this area and the risk of hitting the zipper coils and damaging your machine increases.  

messenger bag tutorial (part 2)

When it is time to assemble the pocket unit, Wendy writes:

"With right sides together, place the 5"x12" rectangle on the bottom (non-zipper) edge of the back pocket. Stitch the seam, and press the raw edges away from the pocket.
Stitch the other side of the base piece to the front pocket, leaving a 2" gap in the center of the seam, and again pressing the seam allowances away from the pocket."

After reading this a fifth time, it now makes sense what she meant.  The seam that joins the non-zippered pocket to the 5" x 12" rectangle has a 2" gap.  I did it the other way around the first time.  The picture is clear, but for some reason it didn't click at first.

messenger bag tutorial (part 3)

In part 3, the interior lining is sewn.  To box the corners, she writes:

"...match up the seam line with the fold line, starting at the bottom corner of the lining, and mark a 3.5" line perpendicular to the side seam. Stitch along the marked line."

But the picture that follows this instruction shows a line that is roughly 2" from the corner.

I boxed my corners with the 3.5" line and find that the bottom of the lining isn't nearly wide enough to match the interior of the bag.

In writing this post, it just occurred to me what is supposed to measure 3.5 inches.  Enlarging this photo shows a horizontal line from edge to edge measuring 3.5 inches.  I thought she measured from the corner up 3.5".

Having now completed the bag, I find that the lining is WAY too big.  You're supposed to cut a 22" by 17" rectangle for the lining.  Doing so results in this:

If I make this bag again, I'll have to think about resizing this piece.  It takes up too much space in the body of the bag and acts as unnecessary filler.

messenger bag tutorial (part 4)  

This part is pretty straightforward.  The only problem I was with sewing the side pleat and attaching the ring/strap combo to this area.  Since my fabric is quite thick, this area is very bulky and my machine was not happy sewing it.

 (photo credits:  Wendy at Corvidarium)

To keep the pleats nice and even, I stitched them down from the inside first. 

Again, there were no hangups with this part of the tutorial.  I had to sew the strap differently because my fabric was too thick to follow her suggestions.  In the tutorial, she says this:

"So, to start with, fold your strap fabric in half, lengthwise, wrong sides together, and press. Open it up, then fold each raw edge in to the middle, and press again."

 (photo credit:  Wendy at Corvidarium)

I tried this but found the strap to be bulky and difficult to feed through the sliders.  Instead, I recut the rectangle for the strap to measure 4" by 57".  Then I folded the strap right sides together and stitched around the entire piece, save for a space to turn the strap right sides out.  Since my sliders measure 1.5" across, I sewed a seam allowance deep enough to make the finished width of the strap 1.5". 

I am very happy with my bag.  It was a chore to sew because of the mistakes I made, but in the end I think it turned out quite well.

It's roomy, comfortable to wear, and I think will work nicely for its purpose.  The only thing I don't like is the closure.  It's awkward and makes it annoying to get inside the bag quickly.

The flap strap is looped through the slider from below and snapped to the flap...from below...or something.  It's hard to describe in words, but trust me it's weird.  Next time I'll make this piece shorter and just snap it at the bottom.

I enjoyed making this bag.  It was nice to not worry about fitting and princess seams. =)  I can see making more bags in the future - maybe even another version of this one.  We shall see!


I finished the Simplicity 2284 jacket and the New Look 6274 skirt.  I think I'll retire the jacket pattern for now.  This is my third version and I really don't need another one.  I really should try other jacket patterns.

 Until next time, peace!



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