Wednesday, August 31, 2011

New Colette Patterns!

As y'all know very well, I'm a Colette Patterns fangirl. So, it was with pure delight that I read Sarai's blog this afternoon previewing their three new designs for autumn. Let's discuss, shall we?

First up, there's a new blouse pattern, Jasmine. It's a tie-front bias-cut blouse, without closures, and with two sleeve options, one elbow-length and gathered, one shorter with a notched band. I love this pattern. A lot. There are some silks picked up in New York this summer, that I've been angsting how to use. I think I'll try this in a cotton voile, make any necessary changes, then get started on a coral crepe de chine version with a contrasting floral georgette bow. Can. Not. Wait!

Colette's second pattern offering is this lovely little cigarette pant, the Clover. Have you ever seen a pattern more suited to an Audrey Hepburn film? They're so, so cute! I've never sewn a pair of trousers, but the description of these look remarkably beginner-friendly. The design, on the other hand, may be one of those best left in the So Cute In Theory, But Not Flattering For My Body category. This is the only of the three I didn't immediately pre-order, for that reason. No doubt, however, I'll see some lovely versions and start clamoring for my own.

Lastly, we come to the pièce de résistance, at least in my opinion, the Peony dress. A sheath dress with lovely lines, the Peony comes in two sleeve lengths with a cummerbund waist tie. It's a simple pattern, but I'm already imagining the possibilities for embellishment. With fall just around the corner, this is a great dress for heavy jewel-toned twills or private school worthy wool plaids. I'm thinking I might need both options...

So, what do you think about the new Colette designs? Are there any other Fall 2011 patterns you're dying to try out? This is my favorite season to sew things for, so I'm just itching to see people's autumnal creations. With patterns like these, it's going to be a very cute season, indeed.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Miss Ivy Gets All Buttoned Up: Colette Sorbetto

Friends, you did not read that title incorrectly. This really is a Sorbetto top. It's not from the main branch of the family, mind you, since it's missing that lovely center pleat, but it's definitely a distant cousin. I suppose one could call this the Scarsdale Sorbetto. You know, like those relatives who show up for family reunions, but to whom no one can quite remember how they're related? I don't actually possess any of those relatives, but if I did I'm sure they would be from Scarsdale.

Anyway, the Scarsbetto. She has pintucks. She has buttons. Her buttons actually function. You can see why the main branch of the family looks askance at her during afternoon croquet. After all, the whole point of the Sorbetto pattern is that it is an easy, no-fuss, no-closure blouse. The original is truly lovely, but for my second iteration, I couldn't resist a little overzealous experimentation.

Let's talk process, shall we? How does such a creature come to exist? Well, it all started with the buttons. You may recall the buttons on my last Sorbetto - little fabric-covered crimson ones. They were adorable with the blouse, really, but...they didn't work. Buttons are always delightful, but if they don't actually button, they're just sad little notions serving no purpose. How dreadful for them, don't you think? (And, yes, I was that child who anthropomorphized my M&Ms. Little Mary just knew those damn red M&Ms were always ganging up on the tan ones. The poor dears.) So, I resolved to fix that with my second iteration. This Sorbetto was going to button.

And so it does. Getting there was a bit of an ordeal, however. My plan was rather straightforward - I'd measured for the plackets and button spacings and everything. Unfortunately, I neglected to factor that ever-irritating button issue- they tend to gape on large busts. My original Sorbetto FBA was perfect for a no-closure blouse, but buttons need a bit more room. When fitting it mid-sew, I realized my error. Enter the pintucks. To add a bit more width, I decided to add two extra panels to the middle of the blouse, then hide the seams with pintucks. It added a bit more work time, but I love the look. I couldn't get a proper picture of the fit, but it is practically perfect. Hooray!

As a finishing touch, the Scarsbetto has white bias-tape binding on the neckline, sleeves, and hem. It sets off very well against the white-and-seafoam striped shirting I bought from Fabric Mart. With wide-leg white pants and espadrilles, it's divinely reminiscent of the 1930's. Well, it would if I looked a bit more like Katherine Hepburn, anyway. Today, I did the unthinkable and just wore it with jeans. I love it either way. The buttons add the perfect bit of interest and are definitely a concept I'll be revisiting soon. I can't help thinking this would be a lovely little September dress... Perhaps with a fitted waistband and gathered skirt?

[Note: To enlarge any picture, simply click it!]

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Circle Skirt Sew-Along

Did any of you see Casey's Circle Skirt Sew-Along (CSSA) over at Elegant Musings? I hemmed and hawed about it but finally decided to join! I'll be posting comments on Casey's blog as "Stephanie J." If you're also doing it, please post a comment so I can keep an eye out for you and give you a virtual wave.

So far we're on step two of the CSSA with step one being the inspiration/details. Tonight's task was to take measurements and when that consists of only the waist measurement and the skirt length it makes me very happy. Mary can attest to my stress about getting measurements correct. I have fears of buying a fantastic fabric, starting a pattern, and ending up with one whopper of a disaster when I find out I didn't buy enough fabric. I'm sure there are ways around this but I'm a newbie and have great hopes of getting everything right the first time around. [cue laughter]

I'll be going with a classic knee length on this one. The fabric decision is eluding me at this point but there's a vision swirling in my mind. Imagine an olive green skirt paired with cognac boots, a crisp white blouse, and a saucy cloche hat. I have a love of menswear interpreted for women and while this is a decidedly more feminine take with the skirt, I think it will look divine. The pattern of the fabric will be key on this so I better get on with my research.

Have you ever sewn a circle skirt? Will I get to see any of you over on the comments of the CSSA?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Miss Ivy Rides a Vespa: Colette Sorbetto

Good evening, lovelies! Did you have a wonderful weekend? I certainly did, working on a quick project that had me posing in front of ye olde bookshelf again. After seeing all the adorable versions of Colette's latest free pattern, the Sorbetto blouse, I decided to whip up one of my own.

Despite the simplicity of the blouse - with only two darts, one box pleat, and no closures - there were a few new techniques for me in this project. First off, the pattern is online, instead of in a traditional envelope, which means: printing, cutting, and taping the thing together. Not going to lie, I've put off Burdastyle patterns in an effort to avoid this situation exactly. The whole idea of piecing and taping dozens of computer pages sounded horrid. The Sorbetto and its cuteness won me over, however, and - surprise! - I didn't mind these steps at all. Maybe it was due to the number of pages, only 15 in all, but it took me just 30 minutes to assemble the pattern. Not bad at all, especially when the outcome is so lovely!

The two other new techniques both involved the bias tape finish. Not only did I try exposed bias facings for the first time, but I made my own bias tape, as well. Fancy, non? Even better, it was a total breeze. Using Sarai's tutorial on continuous bias tape, a Simplicity bias tape tool, and my trusty iron, I used a bit of my extra fabric to make the bindings. Y'all, I think I'm addicted. I can't imagine using facings ever again. Why would I, when I can make my own matching bias tape?

As an extra finishing touch, I also added fabric-covered buttons down the box pleat. In a coordinating cardinal red, they really set off the floral lawn I used. I'm a total sucker for buttons, even of the unusable variety.

Buttons and bias tape and pleats, oh my!

When it comes to the blouse itself, this is another winning Colette pattern. Despite not having sewn any up until now, I'm a rabid fan of tank tops. If I were to have a uniform, it would consist ofvery feminine tank tops, paired with cardigans and full skirts. After sewing up the Sorbetto, I may have even more uniform options - there are so many possibilities for this pattern. I also have a dozen two-yard cuts of shirting just waiting to be made into embellished little tops. If the delightful Mena has seven Sorbettos, we all should, don't you think?

Things I Love:
  • The Pleat! Aren't box pleats divine? I love interesting details on blouses and this is an especially lovely one. Every tank top needs such style.
  • The Fabric Usage! Even with the extra length I added, this blouse used less than two yards of fabric. If you have a petite torso, or like your blouses a little shorter, the 1 1/2 prescribed yards would be perfectly right. With such scanty fabric requirements, it's hard not to want this shirt in fine silks, isn't it?
  • The Exposed Bias Facing! I've already raved about this detail, but it's truly lovely. Not only does it give a clean finish, but a cute one, as well.
Things I Changed:
  • Added three inches of length. At 5'8'', I tend to find Colette's blouses to be a bit on the short side for me. I tissue fit the Sorbetto and then added length accordingly. The blouse now hits me just right, in line with my hips.
  • Added fabric-covered buttons as embellishment. I've been studying my favorite RTW styles lately, focusing on the details that make me fall in love with pieces. Embellishment was a big theme among these, which has led me to the decision to add more of it in my own sewing. Buttons certainly fit the bill...and I love them.
Things I Would Change, If I Made It Again:
  • Vary up the embellishments. I do plan on making this shirt a few more times, but plan on spicing it up with pintucks, piping, lace, and other finishing techniques. This is such an easy pattern to not only sew, but alter to your heart's content.
Tricky Steps & Suggestions:
  • Not a single tricky step in the bunch! Such good news, no?
Fabric Used:
  • Cream floral lawn from the Moda Regent Street collection. Purchased for $12/yard. Note: I love this fabric. I own two other lawns from this collection, each equally delightful. The prints are classic and the fabric quality reminiscent of the best Liberty lawns.
My new Sorbetto blouse, as modeled by my new best friend, Hedy the Dress Form.
Note: my hem and buttons are, in fact, straight, despite what this picture would maliciously have you believe.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Miss Lavinia Begins Again: Simplicity 2591

Kittens, it's hot. I don't know if you've noticed, but Texas seems to be melting. If our lakes aren't drying up, they're turning blood red. Despite fifty-nine days of 100+ degree heat, summer is showing no signs of taking its much-anticipated leave.

To that end, I've taken every opportunity available to flee the state. Admittedly, most of my trips this summer were planned, but even I didn't expect to make it to twenty-four of the contiguous United States (and Canada!) in three months. Consequently, while my fabric stash has ballooned in size (Y'all, I went to New York. Twice. Enough said.), my actual sewing progress has been pretty puny.

For what sewing I have accomplished, I've instituted Emergency Horrid Heat measures. While this awful season persists, any garment undertaken must:
  1. Not have sleeves.
  2. Not have a full lining.
  3. Use the most breathable fabric available.
  4. Make going outside slightly less depressing.
Light and pretty sundresses fit that bill perfectly. There's nothing more refreshing - excluding ice cold Sangria - than cool cotton that just dances around the body. During all my travels, I found myself returning to the same dress again and again for this reason. It's actually a pattern I haven't blogged about before, because it was the very first piece I ever sewed. In my typical Hermione Granger fashion, I jumped in to the sewing world with a whole dress, instead of the usual pillowcase. What can I say? I love a challenge.

I made that first dress, Simplicity 2591, out of a vintage paisley cotton my mother gave me. Not going to lie, it's a total mess. I didn't finish any of the seams, somehow managed to use THREE colors of thread (Black, white, and light blue. Why? I have no clue.), and didn't alter the pattern for fit. Despite all of that, it's one of the most comfortable dresses in my closet. The pattern itself is divinely flattering, even with the extra three inches in the waist and lends itself well to cotton fabrics. Best of all - no lining! It's a summer sewist's dream! Since it's still frowned upon to wear the same outfit every day, I decided to make up a few more iterations of the now out-of-print 2591.

For my first revisit, I reached for a linen/cotton blend picked up at JoAnn's fabric earlier this year. (Fabric confession: I'm an utter copycat and bought this fabric only after seeing Jessica's lovely version of Butterick 5603. After that fabulous dress, I couldn't resist, when it popped up at our JoAnn's, as well!) The fabric sewed up wonderfully, even though the print hides the side-panel seams a bit. This time around, I made some fit alterations - grading the waist down two sizes and fiddling with the neckline, mainly. I also - hallelujah - finished the inside properly. So, while this dress is just as comfortable as my first, the quality of workmanship improved tenfold.

As for the pattern itself, I love it. The side panels are just so, so flattering - nipping in a just the right place. They're a little tricky to piece to the main bodice, even with a year full of sewing under my belt, but produce a fantastic final result. The facings, as with all facings, do drive me nuts. But if I'm going for an unlined dress, the only options are facings or bias-bindings. To combat the flapping tendencies of facings, I top-stitched the arm-holes, which fixed the problem. Next time, I'm going to try out a contrast bias-binding - a look I love, but haven't attempted. And after wearing this dress twice since finishing it last week, is there really a question that there will be a next time?

Things I Love:
  • The side panels! Sure, they're lost in the print now, but just think of how cute they would look made up in stripes. I love dresses with bias-cut stripe pieces and this would be a perfect pattern to try the technique.
  • The pockets! Who doesn't love a dress with pockets? Even better, these aren't in-seam pockets, but rather ones formed by the side panel, skirt, and a pocket facing. They end up being deep, highly usable, and not so bulky.
  • The traditional zipper! I know invisible zippers are all the rage, but I have had more of them break on me in the last few months. The Coats & Clarks ones just don't seem to hold up over time, which means having to do a tedious zipper-replacement on a garment you finished months before. Traditional zippers may not be as fancy, but at least they hold up better over time.
Things I Changed:
  • Graded the waist down two sizes. I don't know if it's Simplicity, or my body, but this is a common adjustment for me on their patterns. I like about one-inch of ease at the waist, but I started with four inches pre-adjustments.
  • Top-stitched the arm-hole facings. I don't use facings often, but when I do I always top-stitch them down. There is nothing so annoying as perfectly ironing a seam, only to have the facing come flapping out before you're halfway through breakfast.
Things I Would Change, If I Made It Again:
  • Switch the facings to bias-bindings, as both a decorative touch and an anti-facing measure.
  • I might add a few decorative touches to the pattern itself - like perhaps a wide center pleat down the bodice, just so I don't end up with a million versions of the exact same dress.
Tricky Steps & Suggestions:
  • The only truly tricky part is joining the side panels to the front bodice and skirt. I had to stare at the pieces for ten minutes, before I realized how they fit together, even with notches and markings. My tip, if you try this pattern, is to start pinning them together at the pockets. The pocket shapes echo each other well, which helps visualize how the rest goes together.
Fabric Used:
  • Floral print cotton/linen blend from JoAnn Fabrics - $12.99/yard. (Note: While you can't get the blue, there is a lovely orange version of this fabric still available online. It's also on sale for the next three days!)