Wait! Wait for us Jungle January!

Jungle January 2015
Just as the gate is about to close on another year’s Jungle January,
my pet Snakes finally slither their way into the party…

Thank goodness the party’s held in the Americas, affording me a few extra hours to get them ready. This year’s Jungle Pets are actually quintuplets. Or maybe that should be sextuplets since I manage to squeeze a couple of scarfs in too. Unfortunately two of the batch didn’t hatch in time. So all you’re getting are these two + scarfs.

I really must start next year’s Jungle Beasts early…Like in Jungle June or July?

Tunic Block (or Going Dartless)

As no machine sewing could done the whole of December, I prepared a couple of projects from SWAP batch 1 that required knitting which I did in the living room. First on the conveyor belt is Cowl-Neck A-line Sweater the Second.

3-mug1-4SRCowl-Neck A-Line Sweater The First was a franken-patterned Burda 013-02-121. While it’s wearable, there’s room for improvements. Being a loose fitting top, the pattern had enough width to go around the bust. But obviously something isn’t quite right if the hem hitch up at the front, right? Simply adding width maybe isn’t the best way to accommodate a pseudo-D-cup. How do you well endowed ladies achieve a great fit with a dartless top?

Anyway, being too impatient to wait for your advice (still welcome if you have any), I decided to experiment drafting my own dartless top pattern. And being a control freak I wanted to find some logic to hiding the darts rather than just haphazardly redraw the seam lines without the darts.

The Tunic Block experiment:

pat_bunka-1 The most obvious option is to pivot all the dart allowances into a massive unsewn waist dart. But surely that would result in a tent, which might be fine in limp drapy fabric, but not so great in the lofty sweater-like mohair gauze I’m using for the sweater.

pat_bunka-2 I checked all the pattern drafting books I have for other options, but found no definitive answer. The closest I got was this page in Bunka Fundamentals of Garment Design text book. I tried a variation of this, but distributed the dart allowances in more places to ensure that none are too big. So did it work? Let’s see shall we?

The Muslin Mug Shots:

Hm, why do muslin photos always come out worse than it looks in the mirror? I was quite pleased with the muslin before these photos. Now I hear the sirens calling tweaks. But I’ve had enough for now.

1-bs-2013-02-121_photo Despite the minor imperfections I think this is good enough to turn into a wearable muslin, something a bit like the Burdastyle 013-02-121 Flared Tunic that I used for Cowl-Neck A-line Sweater the First.

The fabric is from Tia Knight, which mainly sells stretch fabrics. I took a chance on this non-stretch linen woven & was a bit disappointed. The color didn’t quite match the picture on their website, so it was a bit blah. But with the right trims maybe it’ll look suitably Moroccan-inspired & holiday ready. I even added enough seam allowance in the sleeves to go casually bell shape.

The Block & How It’s Made:

Bodice:

pat_tunic-v-top

  1. Taking my Fitted Top/Dress Block, I pivoted the side front dart into a little bit of ease in the neck (3/8″), shoulder (3/8″), armhole (1/2″), side seam (3/8″), and the remainder in the unsewn waist dart. I chose the amounts based on how much I think I can ease in at seams & hems without puckering or too much gaping. The back dart allowances are simply left unsewn (waist darts) or eased into the seam (shoulder dart).
  2. Before making a muslin, I also adjusted the side seam to get the Tunic silhouette I wanted, which is somewhat fitted through the bust, then flared from the under-bust down. I worried that flaring right from the armpit would result in a frumpy look on my non-modelesque figure. And to avoid a pregnant look I reduced the front flare at the side seam, but took care to ensure it doesn’t go into negative ease territory by comparing it to the 0-ease Moulage at High Hip & Hip.
  3. Next up was the muslin which looked pretty good (sorry forgot to take pictures). There was no bust drag lines, my guidelines all looked straight and level, the front wasn’t hiking up like in the Franken pattern. But of coursfe I couldn’t leave well alone.
  4. Having ease in both front & back shoulder basically cancelled each other out, resulting in an unintentionally slightly too wide shoulder. I considered using stay tape, but ended up removing the front shoulder ease at the armscye. I find that the combination of too much cross-front width plus a somewhat fitted sleeve tends to restrict my forward arm movement.
  5. The underarm seem to have been lowered by all the front dart pivoting, so I raised it slightly (1/4″) & also shorten slightly at shoulder seam (1/8″ each, 1/4″ total).
  6. At the side seams I found I could comfortably reduce the circumference in the under-arm to under-bust area a tiny bit further for a slimmer fit (3/16″ each seam, 3/4″ total). The A-line silhouette was a bit too subtle, so I also flare out the hem a little bit more from under-bust to under-bum (1/2″).

Sleeve:

  1. Converted my Elbow Dart Fitted Sleeve Block to Basic Fitted Sleeve Block (no elbow dart):
    1. Designing Apparel Through the Flat Pattern The cap curve is the same, but below the bicep line I made the sleeve front & back symmetrical (as instructed in most pattern drafting books, I’m using Designing Apparel through the Flat Pattern).
    2. I also marked a wider wrist because the original was sized for my relatively skinny wrists, but it’s a bit tight for my normal sized hands to go through when dressing/undressing.
    3. I made no alteration for my “Posterior Arm Joint” & “Inward Rotation of Elbow” like the original sleeve block because…erm, I couldn’t figure out how when there’s no elbow dart to ensure front & back sleeve seam match in length. I just prayed that the extra ease at the wrist accommodate the wonkiness of my arms!
  2. Convert the new Basic Fitted Sleeve Block into a more relaxed fitting Tunic Sleeve Block:
    1. Removed the cap ease by lowing the cap height slightly & redraw the top bit of the cap curve
    2. Designing Apparel Through the Flat PatternConvert to a shallower cap by moving the bicep line up (reduced cap height by 1-1/4″); pivot at shoulder seam crossmark so the armsyce slopes to the new bicep line (bicep ease increased from 1-1/4″ to 2-3/4″); remeasured sleeve length at traced center line; square out at wrist level & cross-marked wrist width (same width as on my new Basic Fitted Sleeve Block); connect new armscye end points to wrist width cross-marks. BTW, my shallower tunic cap height is still closer to the Medium cap height calculated using the generic cap height formula mentioned in Dennic Chunman Lo’s Patternmaking: Portfolio Skills. The same formula would make my fitted sleeves are closer to a High cap height. The formula is basically AH/4 for Medium, then +”1-1/2″ ~ 2-1/4″ for High or -1-1/2″ ~ 2-1/4″ for Low.
    3. For the wearable muslin tunic’s bell shape sleeve I added 7″ to wrist width (3-1/2″ at front & back), but connect this to the original sleeve seam at about mid upper arm in the hope of keeping the arm looking slimish.

The Verdict:

Good enough for now but no cigar. I need to look into…

  1. Why the tunic want to tilt towards the back at the neck, creating that dread bust dragline, higher front hem, lower back pooling. Making the back neckline more shallow doesn’t help. Maybe I have rounded upper back problem requiring more shaping there to keep the upper back in place?
  2. If the sleeve setting can be improved. Not sure if draglines in the front & back is natural for a shallower cap or if the pitch is not quite right, or maybe I do also need some sort of  “Posterior Arm Joint” & “Inward Rotation of Elbow” adjustments for dartless sleeves.

Now a note in case you’re well endowed and want to try the experiment too…I’m not really a D-cup. But maybe because my arm joints seem to be set further towards the back, my front bodice sloper’s bust darts are closest in size to Vogue 1004 Fitting Shell’s D-cup pattern (in size 8 – my old size – rather than the size 12 the sizing charts would have me buy). If I connect the bust darts to the bust point, measure & add up the side & waist darts, the total angle measures about 57º. If you’re super well endowed, it may be that you need a dart to achieve the best looking shape. But maybe this approach can still give you a more relaxed fit without totally obscuring your figure.

Next up: Cowl-Neck A-line Sweater the Second proper.

Fall-Winter 2014 SWAP … batch 6 designs

OK, almost there. More leftovers from the Summer: Some themes & variations on the camisole I made earlier this year.

batch 6 designs
Inspiration from Etsy

This time I will be charmeusing. And I want to finally use the gorgeous black lace I got from Pacific Trimming last year. I actually went back and got more, plus white version too. It’s tempting to put black lace on black charmeuse. But A) I haven’t got any. And B) that would make the lace disappear. And that would be a real shame. So I picked golden charmeuse to contrast with the black lace. I might use the white one with the baby blue charmeuse. (Both are from the Stash. So gold stars for me!) The inspiration is the same as for the camisole I made earlier – this Esty find that’s also demonstrated in Draping: The Complete Course. I’m playing around with a few variations to see what’d look good and stay on the shoulder.

I also want a matching slip for the golden + black lace combination. Hopefully it’ll look good both under other skirts as well as on its own.

Now if only London would heat up by the time I sew these…

Fall-Winter 2014 SWAP … batch 5 designs

Next up, tops which if I can’t get to soon enough I can always roll over to Spring-Summer 2015 SWAP.

batch 5 designs
batch 5 inspirations

 

Actually, the red striped top inspired by Dolce & Gabbana S/S 2013 is a leftover from S/S 2014 SWAP anyway. I love the styling. Even the short short. But it’s not practical. Not for London anyway. So I might eventually make matching skirt if I have leftover fabric. How to get that fitted bodice with matching stripe when one’s bust darts are more D than B will be the challenge.

The olive cut-velvet chiffon is a fabric whose origin has been lost. I had a real hard time deciding what to do with it. On the one hand I want to show off the pattern, so thought smooth fitted shape with minimum drape would be best. But on the other hand the chiffon base makes it drape gracefully, so maybe a looser style with drape would be better? It’s not knit, so that’s one against fitted shape. But then I came across the black sleeveless top inspiration photo. That plus the D&G striped top gave me courage to go fitted. If I only use it for the bodice I might have enough left for a drapy skirt? I’m still debating whether to go sleeveless or add illusion net sleeve. I quite like how Clio’s Ts & dress with translucent sleeves turned out (McQueen tattoo motif T, BCBGMaxAzria Wannabe T, Sew Sexy Sew Along Lace Dress). Sleeves would also be more in tune with London weather.

Last but not least, one that I didn’t plan for. While flipping through my pattern pile, this Burdastyle 2013-08-114 lace panel top caught my eyes. There’s something awkwardly peasantish about it. Borderline twee. But not entirely. Especially when paired with the black leather puff sleeve jacket that’s my inspiration for the blue fake suede jacket from SWAP batch 2. Then it’s kind of edgy. Plus I have a couple of home decor chamomile embroidered silk organza from Silk Trading Co which I haven’t figured out what to do with because of the width-wise motif repeat. I could use this paneled design to showcase the embroidery while hiding the repeat. There are a couple of other translucent fabric that I can bring to the mix for that Balenciaga S/S 2006 look (ad in the mood board). It will be a tricky one with my short-waistness. I played with the proportion on my Croquis, adjusting the style lines to avoid looking too square. I will have to remember to adjust the pattern with reference my body lines rather than sew up the pattern as is. I’m also thinking of softer drapier chiffon for the sides and the sleeves to cut down  sideway spread. BTW this Burdastyle design seems to be a Balmain wannabe.

Fall-Winter 2014 SWAP … batch 4 designs

OK, talk about indecisiveness, this batch is the worst.
And I blame it on all on Chanel.

batch 4 designs
batch 4 inspirations

This one starts with the fabric. Dark olive bouclé from B&J I believe. I can’t remember why I got it. topshop-boucleIt may be been inspired by a Top Shop coat with fake fur collar that I wore to death. (The lining is in tatter. I’ve meant to redo the lining for the longest time. But who like doing such mend & alteration right?) Anyway, 8 years later and I still haven’t done anything with the fabric.

Now bouclé is a fabric with such heavy cultural baggage. Have you seen much that isn’t the Little French Jacket? And the Little French Jacket has been so done on the sewing blogsphere that I feel I’ve made thousands of them already even though I’ve made none. Besides, this green doesn’t really scream Chanel to me. I have another bouclé (a magenta) that I might eventually make into a Little French with a Twist. But only after the craze has died down. (Any chance of that?)

The only alternative I’ve seen a few times is biker style jacket. I’m not really feeling it with this color. So trolling through my magazine clippings I uncovered a couple of gems that seems like the perfect (literal) matches (I’m very imaginative that way wink wink). They’re the inspirations for Design 1 & 5.

  1. I really like Design 1 from Peter Som. I can’t quite decide if it’s edgy or dowdy. I like that tension. I’m even inspired to incorporate chamomile organza contrast binding into mine.
  2. Continuing on the slightly retro theme is Design 2 inspired by an Advance sewing pattern illustrated in Blueprints of Fashion: Home Sewing Patterns of the 1950s. I like the sack in the back with slim belting in the front. Best of both world? But Croquis is not looking lovely.
  3. Another retro look is Design 3 a proper 60s (?) suit for the Lady who Lunches. I’m sure I got that yellow suited inspiration photo from Tatler the UK society mag. But Croquis is looking tubby.
  4. Design 4 is my reluctant attempt to give LFJ a go. I won’t I can’t do bog standard LFJ uniform. This shrunken one featured in Vogue (?) at least is a tad rebellious. But not sure about the buttons on the breast pockets. Might be a bit too in your face. And I’m not sure it works in the dark color I have.
  5. Design 5 I like (probably partly because it’s shown on an Asian model that I can pretend to be). But I can’t see the rest of it. So I’m imagining that it looks something like Simplicity 2508. It’s a design that I can potentially add a detachable fake fur / shearling collar to (if I have enough left over from the fake shearling aviator hat!) But do I have enough of this bouclé fabric for a coat length jacket? Because I do also want to make…

Tada! Another princess pencil skirt. Don’t ask. I don’t even wear them that much lately. But I did make another textured (boiled) wool pencil skirt a long time ago that again I wore to death. I’m hoping for a repeat success. I’m thinking of continuing the chamomile organza contrast binding from the jacket / coat into the skirt.

And the candy cane stripe is just thrown in to remind myself I need to make more of those classy Breton Ts that I wear to death (again).

I’m leaning towards Design 1 or 5. If I wear the Breton  stripe T with Design 1 and the pencil skirt, would I look ready for Santa’s Elf Crew you think?

Fall-Winter 2014 SWAP … batch 3 designs

So while we have the green jersey leftover out, on the off chance that there’s more leftover after the green fake suede jacket, we have more designs that make use of it. I’m really going for it now – Stash busting that is. Three of the fabrics in this batch have been in the Stash since before I even moved to London. They must be over 20 years old now!

batch 3 designs
batch 3 inspirations

So step up candidate heather blue sweater / rib jersey, dark teal jersey, and whatever’s left of the apple green jersey. I think all three were from NY Elegant.

I’ve always wanted the rib one to be a cardigan. But I’m not sure if I could make it work. Normally cardigans have two sizes of knit – bigger ribs for the hem, cuffs, and maybe collar / front button band; and finer knit for the bodice & sleeves. It’s neigh on impossible to find such made-in-heaven pairs from fabric stores. (I’ve tried recently with plans for brown and black cardigans. So many different browns. So many shades of blacks!) I’m not sure yet how I’m going to solve this one. I might just cut the hem & cuffs smaller and ease in the bodice & sleeves. Or I might try this fake ribbing technique from an old Threads article which The Sewing Diva demonstrated here.

In any case, the inspiration is Vivienne Westwood (again!). Her orb logo cardigan and cardi-short (???) I’m obviously turning the cardi-short into a cardi-skirt. I highly doubt I’ll get much wear out of a cardi-short. The skirt I’m planning fake front opening. Don’t want any wardobe malfunctioning now do we.

The dark teal jersey I’m thinking a Sybilla F/W 1989 inspired tie-front jacket. And another shrug collar top which I might be able to wear under the matching jacket? And if I’m really lucky and have enough leftover, maybe this color-blocked zip-front top inspired by Peter Pilotto S/S 2012 and based on Burdastyle 2013-06-124 zip-up tank.

Going back to the fake suede theme, the last two in this batch is for the most heavenly fake suede like drapy fabric I found in NY Elegant. So soooooft. Not sure the designs I pick are right for it. The fabric might be too limp. On the other hand maybe a limp drapy fabric would be the best candidate for experimenting with blocky oversized top like this Dolce & Gabbana F/W 2013 drop-shoulder T inspiration. Maybe it’ll mold to the figure rather than box it. And I’ve been yearning for a fake suede or leather slim pants. The inspiration here is Patrone 325 #15. (I’ve been rather unlucky with my Patrone subscription. The year I subscribed they have hardly any that seem designery or editorial. Lots of casual wear which doesn’t really inspire me or suit my lifestyle. Where did all the designer knock-offs go!!!???) In any case, OMG, imagine the feel of this buttery fabric on my legs, OMG, will I be able to get anything done while wearing it? And isn’t it about time I face my fear of pants fitting?

The Camisole Hunt…or BS 2012-04-128 was my Mom

When I was making the Georgette lace applique top I agonized over lining the see-through top or not. I’m not fond of the bra + transparent top look. Not so much because it’s risque as much as not liking how the horizontal band of the bra make my already short waisted torso look wider and squatter. Over a bustier or long-line bra would be OK though. But I wasn’t ready to tackle shapewear! So I settled on a more form fitting slip-like camisole that can also be worn on its own.

The Inspirations

My inspiration started out with the blue camisole above that I found on Etsy (can’t find it again). It turns out to be almost the same as a bias camisole that’s demonstrated in Draping: The Complete Course, one of the draping books I own. I tried to follow the draping instruction. But couldn’t get it to be close fitting without horizontal draglines across the front. Maybe I was using the wrong type of muslin. But trying again with the China Silk yielded no better result. And the cowl drape wouldn’t work for a camisole that need to work under other tops as well. So I decided to adapt the pattern I used for the Snake Print Dress I made earlier this year. After all, it was originally designed for chiffon cut on the bias, and is slip like with waist shaping.

Style Shots & Mug Shots

The Pattern

Size Used

36, the recommended size for me according to the sizing chart.

Changes Made

As I’ve already made fitting changes when I made the dress, I used the altered pattern as a starting point.

Design changes

I recruit Q to help me with this.

  1. First I used style tape (1/4″ black twill tape) on her to figure out the neck edges, hem, and internal seam / style lines I want.
  2. Then I pin fitted the Burdastyle 2012-04-128 lining pattern tissue on Q and pin out the drape on the front neckline. I used the lining pattern because it has less drape than the shell pattern, so less confusing to alter. I marked the alteration, the style line, and other alterations I wanted to make on the pattern tissue.
  3. Next I made the flat pattern alteration by pivoting and tracing onto a fresh tissue paper. The changes are:
    • Transferred the pinned out CF bust dart to the french dart by pivoting on the bust point. Judging from the front armhole gap and comparison to my Fitted Top Block, I might not have pivoted enough. But it was hard to tell with tissue fitting. When I tested this new pattern on Q it was quite snug already. Maybe I should have made a muslin for such close fitting garments that have lowered neck edge since the whole chest-boob area is such a varied landscape.
    • Moved the back dart towards CB to match Q / my Fitted Top Block. I wanted the straps to visually continue the line created by the back dart seam. I also hoped that closer set straps would be less likely to fall off my sloping shoulder.
    • Moved some of the waist ease from the F/B darts to the side seam to create a slightly more nipped in waist look.
    • Reshaped neckline / top edge per style line on Q.
    • Reshaped hem per style line on Q.
  4. Added Georgette band details to the front neckline & the hem. The neckline band pattern is per the style line on Q. The hem band is just bias strips.

Fabric & Notions Used

  • China Silk from B&J Fabrics, NYC. It was a toss up between this & the Charmeuse I used for the lace skirt. But since I’m cheesed off China Silk after a jacket lining made from it became tattered way too quickly, I decided to try to use up my stash of China Silk asap & not get anymore. It feels so smooth & soft, but actually is a bit, erm, bouffant, floaty. So I really struggle to think of designs that would work well in it. Anything requiring voluminous drape probably won’t work. But a slip top might be fine. And this is a nice ivory color that goes well with the Silk Georgette…
  • Silk Georgette from Borovick Fabrics, London for front neckline and hem accent.
  • Notions: Clear elastic; Small snaps
  • Sewing Helpers: Spray starch; Fray Check

Construction Notes

  • China Silk is a bit thin & translucent. So I decided to double it up with a self-fabric lining. That solves my neck edge seam finish in one stroke. No fiddling with facing or binding.
  • The translucency also means you see shadow of the SAs. So I kept most SAs skinny with 3-thread overlock seams. But for the shell layer darts I kept the SA because I like how their vertical wedges create an optical illusion of a slimmer bodice. I had to trim the deeper french dart SAs down to match the other dart SAs so the shadows will look intentional, and not just an oversight.
  • I picked overlocked seams because I thought maybe their stretchiness would grow with the bias seams and avoid puckering. The jury’s still out on whether it worked or not.
  • For hem I left the edges raw. Then sew the bias Georgette strip on the fold line to the shell about 1/2″ from the hem edge. The Georgette is then pressed downward, giving me a nice graduated transition from more see-through hem to relatively opaque bodice. I love the airy effect this creates!
  • Because I will be washing the top, so will need to press out the wrinkles, I decided to keep the lining separate from the shell at the hem. It’s easier to press each layer separately. But for dressing & undressing, it’s easier if the layers function as one. So I added snaps at the side seam hem to keep the layers together but separable.
  • Now the Oops…
    • Oh you d*** straps! Unfortunately setting them closer together in the back still didn’t prevent them from falling off my shoulders. I tried inserting clear elastic in them, having read about this trick on PR. But it only hoist the whole camisole up and the straps slip right off again. Boo. Maybe it’s because my top is so light and not skin tight. Perhaps that trick only works when there’s horizontal tension (like bra band) and/or vertical tension (like swimsuit crotch or weight of a heftier dress) to anchor the bodice and activate the strap elastic tension.
    • Gap-ahoy becomes puckering-ahoy. I really needed that muslin! As I said above, I might not have pivoted enough from CF bust to the french dart. (There actually was a small wedge left. But Q said it was tight enough already.) I only discovered this once the two layers were sewn together at the top edge. My only option was to undo & add another dart from the front armhole, OR add clear elastic to the top edge SA. Both are ugly. One’s a lot less work. Which do you think I went for? Next time I swear.
    • Sharp turn ahead. The Georgette band at front neckline really doesn’t work because of the sharp turn where it joins the China Silk. The style line looked fine on Q. So not a clue. Live & learn I guess.

The Verdict

Well, I like the hem? And the idea of the Georgette neckband too. But the execution is really a fail. Not enough though to make this unwearable. After all, it’s first & primary purpose is to exist underneath other garments. It looks fine under the Georgette lace applique top, and under a jacket or open front shirt. In short with anything that will hide it’s warts. So mission accomplished is all I can say.

But the hunt for the perfect camisole pattern continues…