Fix It June: Tote the II Forever!

Next up on my Fix It list: My replacement tote that’s barely six months old.

Self-drafted Tote v2

Sadly poor construction quality is not limited to fast-fashion RTW. Tote I lasted me almost two years. So it was definitely a WTF moment when the handle tabs on Tote II started doing this:

5-broken

I thought the thicker faux leather would last longer. I was wrong. I’m not exactly sure what happened, but here are my suspects:

  1. 5-compareDifferent D-rings I used this time have rectangular wire profile where as Tote I had rounded wire profile. Combined with heavy grocery maybe the pointier edge acts like knife edge.
  2. Lack of tab reinforcement from woven interfacing. Can’t remember whether I reinforced Tote I, but Tote II definitely needed this. And it needed a stiff interfacing at that. For these softer tabs keep shifting to the extra pointy corners of the D-rings.

I decided changing 1 would be too much hassle, so 2 it was then. Apart from a layer of old woven interfacing, I stiffened the center bit that goes around the D-Ring with a double layer of Ban-Rol (precut interfacing for waistbands that won’t collapse heightwise). I bought these long before I discovered that standard waistbands don’t like  my short-waisted torso. Now it finally found a use!

The replacement tabs had to be hand stitched and the stitching shows on the inside of the bag. Not brilliant. But at least functional. And thanks to an old-fashion thimble and needle grabber, I managed to do it without spilling blood.

While I was at it I tried to enlarge the zipper pull too. Clio was right that Lampo zippers are some smooth operators. And Don Morin was right that a large ring pull is a plus for practical zipped bags. My Lampo’s pull was lamentably anemic. My stash & trash yielded no matching ring pull of any sort, not even a keyring. So I end up wrapping the existing pull with a scrap from the tab redo. Hopefully this tote will now last me a while longer.

5-fixed

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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.
  • 2-knitting-collar-instagramCollar/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…

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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!

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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…

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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.

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