Fall-Winter 2014 SWAP … batch 1 designs

I had these design & inspiration posts lined up for ages now, but got distracted then lost the mojo to finish them. But as Me-Made-Tote the Second is from this batch, and possibly the next two projects, maybe it’s time to finish them.

batch 2 designs
- SWAP2014aw-2-inspirations

So you’ve seen the tote already.

The fake fur shawl should be dead easy. But I’m not sure how useful it’ll actually be. I love the glamor & already bought the fake fur ages ago. On the other hand, it’s so fiddly to wear & isn’t really that warm as it only covers the shoulders. I’m not one who need only spot protection from the cold. Chunky short sleeve sweaters have never made any sense to me either. The other fake fur (shearling) shawl I made a while back has been languishing in the closet collecting dust. So maybe this one can wait.

The fake shearling aviator hat on the other hand would be so timely as height of Winter approaches. This would help me use up the rest of the fake shearling.

But I think I’ll probably make the two white ‘sweaters’ next. I’m losing my sewing room to visiting relatives over the coming month. And for these two I plan to add knitted ribs to the woven gauze bodice. So I can do the knitting while the sewing room is out of commission. I would have loved for both garment to be made from knits entirely. But I couldn’t find any plain mohair sweater knit in a neutral off-white color. What I ended up getting was loosely woven mohair gauze from Moods in NYC, and matching mohair yarn to knit the collars and ribs for the sleeve and bodice hem. The sweater proper is to replace a RTW I loved that I mistakenly shrunken in the wash & dry. I’m hoping there’ll be enough left of the gauze to make the long sleeve shrug.

Lastly are designs for the loveliest double-sided mohair sweater knit I got from NY Elegant. I love both sides of the fabric. And I could really do with some black garments. I’ve been going all browns & colorful lately that my black wardrobe is in seriously neglected state. But it would be a sin to hide the sumptuous orange mohair side. So more reversible garments it is. I’m thinking princess pencil skirt to cut down on the bulk. But I wanted a bit of variety in my pencil skirts. So this one will have asymmetrical front & slit. I haven’t decided on the top. I was originally thinking another cowl sweater, but now think a sweater jacket would be more versatile. Either the Burda option which is quite simple and potentially boxy, or the Vogue option which is more shapely, but might not be as versatile as it might not look as good worn unbuttoned. The other problem with the Vogue option is that it has waist pleats. That might look weird reversed. In any case I won’t have to decide until I get my sewing room back post-holidays.

Martin Margiela S/S97 Dress Form Top Wannabe

After weeks of cajoling, the Photographer-In-Me finally reluctantly put down her cocktails for a sec to help out. So here’s the first of a few recent project posts I’ve queued up earlier…

With fitting over, the Fitting Muslin for my Fitted Top Block can now finish her Cinderella story. Let’s let her have her moment of glory first shall we?

Style Shots & Mug Shots


The Inspiration & Design

Considering that she started life as a sloper fitting muslin (so wasn’t made up with due care), then was repeatedly manhandled as the bodice for my three fitted sleeve / gusset experiments, I’m lucky that her make-over inspiration was the deconstructed aesthetic of Maison Martin Margiela Spring-Summer 1997 collection:
PHOTOS: found at Dusty Burrito blog…

I’ve always loved the look of old fashion dress forms, and have a thing for shabby chic potato sack aesthetic (hello burlap Louis chairs!). So this is right up my alley.

The sleeve in the left photo is meant to look like dress form arms, which you can make for your own dress form. A few tutorials I like: Pandemic Apparel blog’s free tutorial, “Make an Arm for your Dress Form” in Threads issue 90 p57-59 (available via online subscription or on DVD), Connie Crawford’s commercial pattern for dress form arm. I haven’t made one for Q (my paper tape dress form) yet. But when I do I will probably base the pattern on plastic wrapping the Duct Tape arm that MR helped me make ages ago.

As I have fitting muslin for the bodice and the sleeve already, I went for the one with the sleeve. And as it’s pre-existing pieces, the neckline & sleeve cap / shoulder area deviates from the designer original. Mine is also slightly more finished than the original, which judging from the photo seem to have raw edges for bodice armholes.

Being the indecisive type I also made my sleeves detachable so the top can be worn as a sleeveless or a sleeved top.

Now, that funky armpit ventilation design detail isn’t entirely new to me. My designer idol of yore COMME des GARÇONS incorporated armpit ventilation into a few collections in the early 90’s. In fact, at one point I owned a CdG jacket with this detail.

Very handy for a sweaty gal like me! 😉 I also vaguely recall reading about detachable sleeves in European garments of the Renaissance. So while it looks strange and avant-garde to modern eyes, it’s nothing new nor always on the edge.

Now the best bit about me-made designer wannabes…I can customize it to my own taste, do a mash up of details I like from different designers & inspiration sources, add in those silly little insider jokes & Easter Eggs that keeps me chuckling to myself through the days I wear my me-mades! 🙂

  • So the back, I added a decorative hanging tab on the outside in homage to tongue-in-cheek Jean-Paul Gaultier. I had a JPG skirt once with this detail and I’ve been adding it to my me-mades here & there.
  • And instead of pretending to be “semi-couture” I paid homage to sewing with my “Woof Form” spoof on Wolf Forms, credit Q, my current dress form on which this pattern is based with “Model 2014Q”, and wore my age “43” proudly.
  • Finally, for an emphatic “I’m definitely a Dress Form” look, I machine stitched all the fitting guidelines with contrasting threads so they’re visible on the outside.

The Pattern


Block Used:

Fitted Top / Dress Block + Fitted Sleeve Block (minus cut-on gusset)
Both are based on instruction in Kenneth King’s CD books (Moulage, Basic Sleeve) with body variation alteration tweaks.

Original Top Sloper MuslinAs I was turning the Fitted Top Block muslin (pictured here) into this top, I decided to tweak the waist ease placement to give me a tinsy bit more waist definition. Originally the waist ease was added at the side seam per instruction. But because I’m fairly straight up & down at the sides, following my natural shape at the side would give me no visible waist. So I moved the waist ease to the front princess waist darts while keeping the bust & hip ease at the side seams. This gives me a tiny bit more nipped in look at the side.

So to summarize, here’s the ease I added to my skin-tight 0″-ease Moulage to get my Fitted Top Block…

0″ ease moulage + horizontal ease
(total) + vertical ease
Neck-CF down 1/2″
Neck-CB down 1/8″
Neck-side out 1/4″
Shoulder out 1/4″ up 1/8″
Cross-front out 0″ (0″)
Cross-back out 3/8″ (3/4″)
Armpit out 1/2″ (2″) down 3/8″
Bust out 1/2″ (2″)
Under-bust out 1/4″ + F waist dart width reduced 1/4″ (1-1/2″)
Waist out 0″ + F waist dart width reduced 3/8″ (3/4″)
High Hip out 1/4″ (1″)
Hip out 1/2″ (2″)

Design Changes Made

  • 2-sleeve-1Added the shoulder pad shaped pieces for attaching the removable sleeves. And I guess I was trying to (unsuccessfully) approximate the original shoulder line by adding wadding & pad stitching to these shoulder pieces.
  • Left short wrist slits in the sleeve seams so I can get my relatively large hand through the slim sleeve’s wrist opening.
  • Made it hip length…because that’s what I’ve already cut out for the muslin fitting.
  • Cut CF with seam allowances (but no overlap) for a butted CF opening with hook & eye closure.
  • Left the horizontal CF bust level dart unsewn.
  • Shrink 1/4″ ease in the back armholes at shoulder blade level to reduce sleeveless armhole gaping while accommodating the blade curvature. This is something I picked up from two of my tailoring books: Classic Tailoring Techniques: Men’s Wear & Vintage Couture Tailoring.

What I should have also done is to add a bit more bust & waist ease to account for the extra layers of fabric involved! The fitting muslin wrinkle easily. So to get the “I’m a Dress Form” look I interface all pieces with fusible woven interfacing. This make the inside ugly, so lining was called for as well.

These extra layers & their respective seam allowance layers at the 8 vertical seams ate up a big chunk of those vainly spartan breathing / wearing ease I added. If you reckon each interface seam fold lose 1/32 – 1/16″, then that’s a whopping 1/2 – 1″ less ease then I bargained for. Without the extra layers the Fitted Top Block is slouch happy. With the layers and it’s only fit for the straitlaced I-Can-Hold-My-Breath days. Oops. Live & learn.

The lining is edge to edge because…well, the shell seam allowances were a bit tatty from the manhandling to serve as hem allowances. So I picked a contrasting lining for that erm, “intentional” two sided look. This way, the top can be worn as a fitted jacket over camisoles hooked only at the waist & the reverse A side peeking out from time to time.

Fabric & Notions Used

Construction Notes

  • Construction order wasn’t efficient because of the gusset experiment detour. So I had to hand fell-stitch the lining in place at the armhole & CF hook & eye tape.
  • 2-sleeve-2How to attach the removable sleeves was a conundrum. I considered solid skirt / trouser hooks, velcro, before deciding on the buttons & elastic option. I think this might be best for an area that will move a bit as I raise my arm sideways & forward. The button at the peak of the shoulder piece / shoulder seam near the neckline is on sewn the underside of the sleeve shoulder piece, with a slit left in the shoulder seam as button hole. Two additional buttons are sewn just inside the bodice armhole at the cross-front & cross-back level, with corresponding elastic buttonhole  loops sewn into the sleeves. I originally had these two buttons on the sleeve & the elastics on the bodice, but found the elastic peeking out after a day’s wear & stretch. Reversing this allows the attachment mechanism to remain hidden sleeveless or sleeved.
  • And the other Oops along the way…
    • That funky alternate side shading…As this was originally a fitting muslin, I didn’t pay attention to which side of the fabric I used. It seems like the fabric, which was an used bed skirt, have faded on one side from exposure to sunlight over the years, so not reversible anymore. Thankfully my random cutting followed a pattern of alternating side (LF & RB, RF & LB). So I can just about pretend the funky shading was erm, “intentional” & part of the “deconstructed look”!
    • Fusing bubbles…It could be my poor fusing technique. Or it could be the fact that the interfacing has been laying around for over 20 years and the adhesive has disintegrated. Again, thank to the “deconstructed” design I can try to pass this off as “erm, it’s intentional”! :-p

The Verdict

Considering this fitting muslin would have gone to fabric recycling purgatory, I’m  pleased as Punch with the result.

It’s a top to be worn with attitude (aka confidence). No shrinking violet here. Not with all the Oops that one has to spin as “all part of the Deconstructed Look”!

Teal + Brown Floral Print Reversible Moto Jacket – Burda 2013-11-117 part 2

So with the pattern sorted next up is fabric prep & construction…

Fabric & Notions Used

This being a jacket to match my new reversible(ish) pencil skirt, I used mostly the same material as the skirt, namely…

The only new ingredient was Bronze Poly Lycra Leatherette from Tissu Fabric, a cheap fake leather for the collar edging – because I can’t be bothered with non-washable real leather! I do wish I used a better quality faux leather though. The leather-like coating is already rubbing off after a few wears. Oops. I do like its look while it lasted though – it’s more copper (my favorite metallic color) than bronze.

2#Now the main fabric from Mood I love more and more. It was quite easy to work with. And the color while a bit dull on the bolt has proved to be a real team player in my wardrobe.

However, for this pattern, I was still a bit worried about whether this  sweatshirtish fabric has enough heft. Many reviewers complained about the huge collar not standing up right like in the cool Burda photos. Burda’s recommended fabric – ponte knit – simply doesn’t have the heft to keep the single layer collar standing proud and tall. Nancy K suggested that the leather edge binding might provide the requisite support. But then the inner part of the collar – the stand & turn part – would still be a bit wimpy. I could have added facing to the fronts and collar as Allison C suggested. But I was a bit unsure about the fabric initially, so didn’t buy yards and yards of it.

Anyway, I decided to try felting the portion for the jacket. Big mistake. Even though it’s suppose to be wool acrylic blend, it didn’t felt at all after being put through hot wash & tumble drying. It just pilled. And softened further!!!??? Oops. Thank goodness I had this pill shaver gizmo in my sewing gadget cupboard. It managed to get rid of most of the fuzz, though it could do nothing about the slight softening. Lesson learnt: don’t be stingy – test on a swatch! BTW the fabric does take gentler wash cycle & air drying. I like to pre-wash almost everything to weed out divas from my closet.

Construction Notes

As you guessed it, I’ve ignored the pattern instruction again. It’s more atrocious than usual. I’m tempted to rewrite it even though I have no need of it. But that of course wasn’t why I ignored it. With the pattern changes I made (eg cut on peplum) & the techniques I’ve already chosen for the matching skirt, the instruction would have been useless to me anyway. So just some construction notes below in case you want to try out some of the same techniques…

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  • Like with the skirt I’ve flatlocked almost everything – even the sleeve / armscye. The only seam that’s not flatlocked is the left front princess seam with the zipper tape. I think theoretically it could have been, but the zipper teeth wouldn’t feed properly. So the fabric edges was flatlocked first, then zipper & seaming basted in place, then topstitched along either side of the flatlock edge finishing.
  • Sleeve zippers are attached in the same way as the skirt. The bodice front zipper tape is covered with the leatherette rather than left exposed like on the sleeves.
  • As I’m using leatherette rather than real leather, the front & collar edging is only done on one side of the fabric and applied like bias facing tape (so with seam allowances). But I had to use Stitch Witchery to fuse this leatherette to the fabric and to itself to keep it flat. Rather than top-stitching the tape, it’s machine sewn on the outer edge & hand slip-stitched on the inner edge.
  • The hem is again 2-thread wrap overlock edge finishing like on the skirt. There’s no peplum facing on my reversible version – the whole jacket is single layer.
  • Instead of snaps for the right front princess seam closure, I added hook closures to match the one on the skirt AA side. So again, I folded petersham ribbons in the same way as on the skirt to act like frog closures, fell-stitched these in place, then sewn the hook & eyes to the ribbons. These were placed just below the waist, at the underbust, above the bust, and at the chest (spaced evenly of course).

Style Shots & Mug Shots

So how does it look? Before the reveal let’s have a reminder of the design & pattern photo again for comparison…


And here’s my finished version…






Final verdict

I was planning to reuse the pattern, but I’m on the fence about it after my collar turned out just as floppy as everyone else’s (apart from those smart Russian / Polish ladies who made theirs with fabric worthy of cold weather coats).

Having said that, I’m very pleased with this particular make. The fabrics, the pattern, the details just came together beautifully. It’s got the perfect blend of edginess & femininity for my cup of tea. And like its matching skirt it’s reversible-ish too! Perfect for a style commitment-phobe like me!

Teal + Brown Floral Print Reversible Moto Jacket – Burda 2013-11-117 part 1

OK, there’s a fair few photos to show for this project, so I’m mixing things up a bit and splitting this into two posts. First up, the pattern & alterations.

The Design & Pattern

Doesn’t the jacket look so cool in Burda magazine’s photos? I was seduced. Ever since I sew Marc Jacob’s pastel moto jacket I wanted one in non-traditional color & fabric. I like the simple style lines. It offers a load of possibilities for showing off my double-face fabric: color-blocking, visible reverse side.

Size Used

34 rather than recommended 36. Because it’s closes to my Jacket Block which I’m using to guide fitting changes.

Changes Made

Fitting changes

I’m still trying to work out the best way to use my Jacket Blocks for altering commercial patterns to improve the fit. Here’s my current not so scientific approach:

  1. Lay the commercial pattern over my Jacket Block aligning at CF / CB waist. I’ve traced the pattern onto tissue paper, but also kept my Block on tracing paper to make this easier.
  2. Compare & decide what needs changing, and by how much. Now the how much is a bit of a dilemma, especially when my Block is currently more a Sloper with only the wearing ease and no design ease. There’s the risk of removing all the design ease and end up with the same jacket over and over again. So I decided to try this: Where the pattern doesn’t match the Jacket Block, I check if it at least matches the Moulage & Top/Dress markings before deciding whether to change or not. (My Jacket Block also has markings for the Moulage & Top/Dress Block’s key reference points like bust & shoulder points, bust/waist/hip widths.) For example, I didn’t increase the CF  pattern piece’s bust width to meet the Jacket Block bust points because it already meets the Moulage & Top/Dress Block bust point. And while total front bust width (after FBA) is less than my Jacket Block, it’s close to my Top/Dress Block bust width; add to that the back Bust width is slightly wider than my Jacket Block (at princess seam), so I think I have enough bust ease.
  3. Where the shape is really different from my Block, and standard alteration doesn’t get it close enough, I sliced & diced the innard of a pattern piece to pull the seam line into a shape that more closely resemble my Block. See the changes to the Front & Back side bodice pieces for example.

So using my Fitted Shoulder-Princess No-Shoulder-Pad Jacket Block (what a mouthful!) as the yard stick, these are the changes I end up making:

  • Short Waist Adjustment: This time shortened at the chest level so the armhole is smaller / higher like on my Block. Sleeve cap height also shortened to match.
  • Low Bust Adjustment
  • Front-Back Body Shape / Full Bust Adjustment: Done the unorthodox way mentioned in my previous post. So shifted some of the dart shaping from side seam to the front and back princess seams.
  • Sloping Shoulder Adjustment
  • Uneven Shoulder Adjustment: Done the Cabrera-Meyers “Classic Tailoring Techniques: A Construction Guide for Men’s Wear” way, except with tissue pattern rather than the actual fabric. See my summary in a previous post.
  • Short Arm Adjustment: Partly done in the lower sleeve area (not hem), and partly in the sleeve cap area to match length removed from bodice armscye for Short Waist Adjustment. So the sleeve cap is shallower.
  • Widen Sleeve slightly to give me 2″ ease at bicep level. A few other people have complained that the sleeve is too narrow for them, even with stretch fabric. So you may want to check the widths. I have thin arms & could have gotten away with no widening. But 2″ sounds more comfortable for a jacket. I widened at the back sleeve seam. This also gives me a bit more ease in the sleeve armscye – the original pattern doesn’t seem to have any ease. I also followed Jeffery Diduch’s instruction in Threads July 2013 for guidance on how much sleeve armscye ease to include where. I kind of winged this as the pattern doesn’t have as many match point as in his pattern. But I subsequently found his online instruction on how to check the ease of these commercial pattern sleeves.
Design changes
  • Shortened sleeve further: Removed the extra 3″ length in sleeve as I want a more traditional Moto Jacket sleeve.
  • Added sleeve vent & zippers.
  • Removed the waistline seam by cutting the peplums as one with the bodice pieces. I was worried about thickness of multiple layers at intersecting seams.

Rather than testing the fit next with muslin I cheated with pinned pattern tissue. Looks OK on Q me thinks…apart from that humongous collar which needed slight shaving / shaping near the collar points so the fabric wouldn’t get all bunched up when the front is zipped to couple of inches above the bust (like in the Burda catalog photo).

So here are my final patterns. I thought I was going to reuse this pattern, so transferred the patterns to card stock (minus seam allowances) to use for fabric cutting.

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Tomorrow: The fabric, construction notes & reveal!


Tentative Fitted Jacket Blocks

Before I show you the matching reversible(ish) Burdastyle 11/2013 #117 moto jacket I suppose I should catch you up on my jacket block(s) experiment, since I used that as my fitting yard stick for this jacket.

moulage & knit sloperRemember my Kenneth King moulage from way back when? And the Top Block that I muslined backed in January? I never did show you the Jacket Block that’s derived from the Top Block did I? Well not properly anyway. You kind of saw it in my mess of a WIP block patterns. I never did muslin the Jacket & Coat Blocks.

Since this moto jacket is fitted & without internal structuring, I decided to make a few tweaks to my Jacket Block before using it to adjust the Burda pattern.

The revised Fitted Jacket Block is still mostly based on Kenneth King’s Moulage CD book. But I cross-checked against my two other pattern-making books that have instruction for converting basic bodice block to jacket block (Connie Crawford’s Patternmaking Made Easy. and Dennic Chunman Lo’s Patternmaking: Portfolio Skills). They all do it slightly differently. KK’s version seem to have the most ease. Dennic mentions the tighter fit of modern designs, so in the end I reduced the amount of ease to:

Shoulder out 1/2″ up 3/8″
Cross-front out 0″
Cross-back out 3/4″
Underarm out 7/8″ down 7/8″
Bust out 7/8″ (total ease: 3-1/2″)
Waist out 5/8″ (total ease: 2-1/2″)
High Hip out 5/8″
Hip out 7/8″ (total ease: 3-1/2″)
These are all relative to the skin-tight 0″ ease moulage.

The darts were shifted only 3/8″ width-wise. I didn’t bother lowering the waist for this Fitted Jacket Block, especially as this particular moto jacket will have no interfacing nor lining, so no extra layers accommodate.

Next, I had to pivot the horizontal bust dart into a shoulder dart to create a Fitted Shoulder Princess Jacket Block.


And as the Burda jacket won’t have shoulder pads, I had decrease the shoulder ease / extensions and account for my uneven shoulder.


So my final block for checking the Burda jacket fit looks like this compared to the Moulage: