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?

Knitting Wadder no more (?)

Last of my 2014 make was a fix. With your encouragements I took the plunge & refashioned my Michelin Man sweater into a Wang S/S 2010 Wannabe. To recap….

I wanted to go from this:

to this:

And here’s what I ended up with

 

Alteration Notes

I didn’t bother with pattern this time. Just wing it as I went along. I did manage to take some photos along the way. Pictures worth thousands of words innit!

2-alter

The Verdict

As expected it’s still a brave silhouette to wear. Best on a feeling tall day. But because the sweater is so comfy I’ve been wearing it even on not my brightest days. So let’s call it a win even if the fashion police in you want to issue me a fine, okay?

SWAP Shrug BS 2013-11-111

Following through with my SWAP F/A 2014, here’s the long sleeve shrug from the mohair gauze leftover.

The Inspiration, Design & Pattern

My inspiration was a shrug that I found at some online shop the name of which eludes me now. I briefly considered shrug patterns that were essentially a rectangle sewn into a tube with a stretch in the middle of the seam left unsewn. But I thought either the sleeve will be too loose or the bodice too small, so I went searching for other options. Burdastyle 2013-11-111 pattern has a bit of shaping to it so I thought it might make a good starting point.

Style Shots & Mug Shots

Size Used

I used 36 this time, which is what the size chart would have me use. I frequently use 34 for a better fit. But because the pattern was designed for knit, and I’m using woven, I decided to go with the size closest to my Top/Dress Block for wovens. In this case it was size 36.

Changes Made

Fitting changes

1-patAlt-bs2013-11-111

It was quite a visual process this time, so I’ll let the picture do the talking. You can see how I’ve laid my Top/Dress Block + Basic Sleeve Block together to assess the Burda pattern and decide what needs changing. I think the changes might be due to my sloping shoulder plus the posterior position  & pitch of my arm joints.

Design changes
  • Added 4″ knitted 2×2 rib for collar / bodice extension.

Fabric & Notions Used

Construction Notes

  • Construction is pretty much the same as the Cowl-Neck A-line Sweater the Second. The neckline/back hem were stablized with Vilene Bias Tape & overlocked. The seams were stitched & 3-thread overlocked.
  • Collar/back hem extension is 2×2 ribs hand knitted with 2.75mm – 4.5mm needles, so it flares out without any increases to confuse me! :-) The casting on was again approx 8 stitches per inch & multiples of 4 (my rib pattern).
  • The sleeve hems I ended up hand-overcasting, then weaving in a few extra yarns near the edge so that they’re denser like the salvedge.

The Verdict

On the plus side I’m glad I added the knitted collar/back hem extension. This now feel more like a little bolero jacket that’ll stay on rather than detached sleeves that I might have to constantly tugged at. And the Oops…The sleeves on this one are a bit tight for something that’s a cover up. I can only wear this with short-sleeve & sleeveless tops. The fabric again makes it a delicate garment. And what’s with the mini-wings at my back armholes right?

I’ll wear this alright…if only I have more white / pale color clothing & accessories to go with it…

Cowl-Neck A-line Sweater the Second

Yeah! Second project from SWAP F/W 2014 done!

Style Shots & Mug Shots

The Design & Pattern

0-SWAP2014aw-dsgn

This was originally going to be a better fitting version of Cowl-Neck A-line Sweater the First. But I got a bit off track while muslining the pattern. I also blame Pinterest which stuffed other ideas into my head. Trying high (front) low (back) on the muslin convinced me that it’s a more flattering shape and works well with the A-line silhouette. And I thought long skinny sleeve might be a nice counter balance to the voluminous bodice & cowl collar.

Now that collar, erm, it ended up a bit floppy because I didn’t think it through. I kept thinking I don’t want a turtle neck look & did everything I could to avoid it. But I went overboard & ended up with this floppy funnel. As it’s knitted with a sticky mohair yarn so too late to fix. I think I can live with it. But I’ll know better for next time.

Block Used:

Tunic Bodice + Sleeve Blocks

Design Changes Made:

(The pattern was done before I corrected the armscye height over-tweaking. So the shoulder seams are still lowered.)

  • Widened neck opening & lower front neckline. This is to ensure the knitted collar band would be wide enough to hang like a cowl rather than a turtle-neck.
  • Curved bodice hem from just below hip at CF to just below bum at CB. This high low hem hopefully gives my shapeless frame some hip curve!
  • Added 7-1/2″ knitted cowl collar. This was flared from neckline seam towards the collar edge.
  • Added 2″ bodice knitted hem & 1″ sleeve knitted hem. These were straight (rectangles).

Fabric & Notions Used

  • Cream Mohair Gauze (?) from Mood NYC. I was hoping for loose sweater knit in cream, but couldn’t find any. This has the surface texture of one, but sadly not the drape. Maybe I should have used it for underlined & unstructured jackets like Puu’s Gerard Coat (which looks like the same type of fabric): It certainly would have made the fabric less delicate to wear! Mine I will have to treat with kid gloves. I already had a seam rip accident (patched now). Plus underlining would have protected my skin from its scratchiness. But as I had bought the fabric with the sweater in mind I stuck with the course. Next time I’ll know better.
  • Rowan Kidsilk Haze silk & mohair yarn in Cream (634). No matching rib fabric to be found so I thought I could knit my own since yarns come in so many different colors! Actually, it turn out not to be a perfect match. But squint your eyes & it’ll be fine. Definitely softer than the fabric & marginally less scratchy.
  • Vilene Bias Tape.

Construction Notes

  • Marking was difficult in such fluffy fabric. I tried cutting out without marking, but where I needed to mark I resorted to bad habit: the reliable if not always removable wax carbon paper – in red no less. Some cursing & stain scrubbing was unavoidable when the red marking refused to just disappear. Don’t do it. Thread trace if you need to.
  • The fabric portion was predictably easy. The neckline & shoulder seams were stablized with Vilene Bias Tape. The seams were stitched & 3-thread overlocked. The edges where I was going to add ribbing were overlocked to give the knitting something more substantial to cast onto.
  • Cowl collar and sleeve & bodice hem ribbings were knitted by hand.
    • Collar is 1×1 rib knitted with 2.75mm – 4.5mm needles (I avoided increases like the plague – too confusing – so made my way-too wide funnel by gradually upping the needle size.)
    • The hems are 2×2 ribs knitted with 3.25mm needles.
    • I started all with approx 8 stitches per inch, but ensuring I have the right total number of stitches for my rib pattern (ie multiples of 2 or 4).
    • Casting on was a bit of an experiment, none of which were entirely clean & successful. I forgot that unlike entirely knitted pieces there isn’t a well-formed edge here to hook my first row of knit stitches into. It didn’t help that this fabric is so loosely woven so wanted to fray with any tugging at the cut edges. Maybe I should have underlined the fabric at least at the edges. Or better yet, knit the ribbings separately then treat like purchased ribbing and overlock to the edges.

The Verdict

While not exactly what I had envisioned, it’s wearable. If only it wasn’t so delicate & scratchy then I’d feel comfortable wearing it more often. Next time I’ll wait for the right sweater knit to come along. Yeah, no chance of me knitting the whole thing from scratch. Way too slow & complicated & stressful!

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.

The 2014/15 Janus Post

Hello everyone. I hope you all had a most wonderful Xmas & festive New Year! Or at least a relaxing holiday!

Mine was a bit stressful: First time catering solo for 7 (we don’t usually celebrate). Plus having to finish up cleaning & home decorating that I’ve been avoiding for ages. But none of that compared with losing my beloved Sewing Room to a visiting teenage boy (sob). I didn’t realize how attached I’ve became to my sanctuary from male messiness. For close to 4 weeks the door was literally shut. The few times I sneaked in to retrieve something or other, I found the room messy, stuffy, & festering with leftover food. I was in shock. The head knew it would happen, but the heart wasn’t prepared to witness it actually happening. I guess it’s just something that those with children get used to. Gradually. Anyway, I hope day or two of airing and cleaning once I get the room back will make it decent & welcoming again. At least no wild party took place in it I suppose. (Respect to all you parents of teenagers out there.)

OK, rant over. Let’s get back to year end review.

Looking Backward

I wasn’t planning on do a round up originally. It’s just too depressing how few projects I finished in 2014. I actually regressed, achieving 2 less than the year before…

2014 Total: 13 makes
Garment types
1 Dress
3 Tops
4 Skirts
3 Sweaters (not blogged yet)
1 Jacket
1 Bag
Pattern brands
9 Self drafted
4 Burda

Oh how optimistic I was back in Feb when I thought I could “easily whip up my New Year Resolution list of…3 pencil skirts, 3 straight skirts, 3 A-line skirts, 3 long sleeve woven tops, 3 short sleeve woven tops, 3 long sleeve knit tops, 3 short sleeve knit tops, 3 dresses, 3 jackets.” That’ll teach me to make NY Resolutions.

Could I at least claim quality if not quantity? While I’m proud of most of my 2014 makes design-wise, I can’t say they’re all that successful in terms of frequency of wear, which is my main criteria of success.

So the winners of 2014 are…

  1. Once again the Self-drafted Tote v2 took the top honor. Finished late in the year it still manage to get more use than all the others combined.
  2. Runner up has to be Franken BS 2013-11-117 Reversible Moto Jacket, despite it’s unwieldy floppy big collar. It has shape without the constricting innards, making it a comfy top-up for never-too-hot London.
  3. And my Self-Drafted Martin Margiela SS 1997 Wannabe Top / Jacket just about made it into the winners circle. Despite being a bit tight, I nonetheless insisted on wearing it (relatively) often. Because it’s neutral-ish, kinda of classy and kinda of edgy. Just my cup of tea.

And the 2014 misses…

The ones I’ve had time to stew on anyway…

  • While I do like how my Self-Drafted Flocked Denim Pencil Skirt looks, it was a mistake not to line this one. When I wear it with tights the front hem hitch up & get caught between my legs in the most unflattering way while walking. I’m not entirely sure why. My unlined RTW wool pencil skirt doesn’t do that. I haven’t checked if it also happens with the Self-Drafted Reversible Pencil Skirt. It doesn’t happen when I go bare legs. I could wear it with a half-slip. But I don’t own one & it’s a fussy solution. I rather just line the damn skirt & forget about it.
  • Franken BS 2012-04-128 Camisole‘s wart was always there. I’ve already talked about it & made peace with it in the write up. The new year hopefully will bring more successful heirs to the Camisole Saga.

2014 in closing

  • I think I’ve laid some good foundation for self-drafted patterns. So while they haven’t panned out into much wearable clothing this year, fingers crossed they’ll make 2015 makes more interesting.
  • I mentioned earlier this year about it being Year of the Skirt. And while I didn’t make 3 of everything, the skirts did win out by a miserly 1. So there, kept my word.
  • I still owe you 3 write-ups for 2014. These are the sweaters I managed to squeeze in just in time. Two are from my F/A Swap Plan. The other is the Michelin Man remade as promised. I’m just waiting to get my Sewing Room / Photo Studio back from teenage boy messiness first.
  • You can see rest of my 2014 makes in my new Finished Projects by Year page (minus the 3 yet to be blogged of course).

Looking Forward

Yeah, I’m not tempting Fate again by making resolutions. Yes I still have my F/W SWAP Plan. But I shall treat it like a menu to keep me from the paralysis of limitless choices & infinite possibilities. Maybe I will add S/S SWAP designs to the menu. Then however the weather changes and whatever mood I’m in I’ll still have a beacon guiding me down the road of …dare I say it…many many makes!

Next on my plate to make I think shall be knit block redux. I’m hoping to get a cardi block sorted so I can whip out 7 in a batch: 5 eminently useful but boring browns & blacks, 1 SWAP, and maybe even 1 rather tame entry for Jungle January. Wouldn’t that be great? Buys me time for half the year just in case productivity fall way down again.

one-piece-patterns

I’ve already drafted & muslined the defunct Stretch Pattern School’s One-Piece Block (with 12% horizontal & 0% vertical negative ease) as a starting point. Once I figure out whether their instruction works for me or not I will derive a 0-ease stretch block, then derive my cardi block from that.

And next on my plate to blog shall be my Tunic Block which one of the SWAP sweater is based on. Wish me luck that it’ll take no time to clean out, freshen up, & reclaim my Sewing Sanctuary!

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…