Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Blue Leather Clutch

I love leather. All my shoes (except for Converse's) and bags are leather. Being a expensive material, I rather have less and made of leather than lots of cheaper and uncomfortable versions. For bags, it is a question of feel and look but for shoes, it is definitely a matter of comfort. Experience tells me my skin hates plastic.
So, I am so happy to have learnt to make my own bags, I encourage all of you sewers to learn the trade and give it a try. Leather is not expensive if we look for remnants (a small piece will suffice for a bag) and we have a ton of possibilities in the kind of leather, the colour and the design, which combined, give us a myriad of models at a very cheap price if we compare it with the prices leather bags have in stores.
After the White Leather Bag I made last fall, and following what I learnt with Don Morin, I made my second project in leather, and I am really happy with the result.

First, I made a mock-up with felt, only to realize the real bag should be 5 cm wider, and that the lining should cover the zipper.

Secondly, I constructed the lining (and I forgot to interface it, damn! According to Morin, the leather will stress the lining by friction and will ruin it with time. If that happens, I will have to remove it and replace it, but now it is too late).

After preparing the machine for leather sewing and testing it with a piece of the leather first, I sewed the zip to the rotary cut leather. I passed the thread tails to one side and knotted them up.
Hand stitch the lining (folding the hem 1 cm inwards) to the zipper.

I sewed the sides of the clutch together, including the lining in them. I cut the leather seam allowances to 1 cm, cropping the corners, and sewed the lining enclosing them.

Turn the bag over to the right side.

Make the handle with a 5 cm strip of leather overlapped in itself, so that we machine-stitch the layers of leather together (for this leather is thick enough, and hurray for my machine). Pass a small leather strop through the zipper hole and glue it inside the handle. Finally, make a small leather belt to encase the top of the handle and hand stitch it tight.

I am wearing it tonight!!!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Skirt For My Hasbeens!


Has it ever happened to you that you believe in the utter need of possessing some pair of shoes, as if they were ABSOLUTELY necessary in your wardrobe (the more expensive, the more necessary they are) and when you get them, you don't know what to wear them with???

I am kind of familiar with the experience! And that is precisely the case with my winter Swedish Hasbeens (it also happened to me in the summer). I saw them online, and they were a PRIORITY in my life. At least I found them cheaper in the US, even if that meant involving my friend living there to receive them, try them on, show them to me via Skype, and send them to me. But they were more the 50% cheaper! I was extasic when I got them for Christmas.
Then I could only wear them with one dress (or with jeans and black), so I started to look for clothes to go with them, and I found this light maroon wool, perfect for them.

I used my long skirt pattern, making it shorter and dividing it in two pieces. Then, I added some pleats in the center front and back to give it  more moevement and grace. I applied fusible interfacing in the upper parts and lined all of it. 
It matches my shoes to perfection!

The skirt has a marked fold after sitting all day at school with it. And being pure wool, I cannot wash it...

Aren't they beautiful??? I am in LOVE with this shoes, man!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Jacket a la Chanel

It's been a long time since I posted a finished project, because this was a long one. I enjoy the well done pieces, and this is the quintessential slow sewing project.
Many years ago, back in the 80s when I was very young I sew a "Chanel style" suit, green with black trims. It was very successful, but I would like to have a closer look now to see how I've learnt since then, and be proud at myself.
So, a Chanel jacket... or a couture jacket, as C. Shaeffer likes to call it. I bought this book from The Book Depository (great place!)
The Couture Cardigan Jacket: Sewing Secrets from a Chanel Collector Although it is a beautiful book and a learnt a lot with it, it has some omissions, like for instance, collars, facings, and trimmings applied in between, to name some examples.

I followed most the techniques suggested in the book, although I omitted or changes some.
For example, I used my own pattern. I drew it from the tailored jacket with a two-pieces sleeve. The fit was very good, but I had to modify some important parts (and I was disappointed at that). For example, it has too much ease all around, the sleeves were too full in their heads, and the shoulders were too big. I needed somebody to help me fitting the toile (thanks my auntie Marité, an expert seamstress). I definitely need a mannequin if I want some autonomy, specially with sleeves. I now see my clothes form years past and I cannot believe I was able to accept such horrible sleeve fitting.
I've made some pictures of the process, wanna have a look?
Basting the jacket pieces together, after having quilted the lining to every piece. This proves a gruesome task, ironing the pieces together having the lining there in the middle, but the result is worth it, The quilted lining gives structure and support to the soft wool fabric.

Although it was not mentioned in Shaeffer's book, I decided to sew some cotton strips into the shoulder seam to prevent it from sagging. Seen now, maybe it is not necessary, since the jacket is held in place but the quilted lining. Notice the fusible interfacing in the front panel. This is a more practical choice, and the results are excellent, I love fusible interfacing. I applied it to the sleeves and jacket hems as well, as suggested in the book.

Sewing the lining together by hand, avoiding to sew it into the fabric. Of the two techniques suggested in the boo, the "kissing" is easier to do, the lapped more beautiful, in my opinion.

The sleeve is basted and rebasted after a couple of fittings, and finally sewn by hand with backstitches. I loved this! It is easier to control the ease and to shape it.

 Previously, we must give shape to the sleeve head with the iron, also a wonderful technique with excellent results. I marvel at this technique of easing with steam.

Here I am sewing the lining at the sleeve. At this point I felt so happy, seeing the end was near.

 After much testing I decided to make my own double fringe and then apply a navy trim in the middle sewn it by hand, as Shaeffer suggested. But then my auntie told me it would have been better with the machine to keep it from unraveling (too late). Well...

Preparing the lining edges with pins...

...and sewing the lining very close to the edge with fell stitches (my favourite hand stitch)

I decided to use zippers in the front closing and in the sleeves, I see it more modern and less formal (and avoid the hand sewn buttonholes, jeje...)

Finally I made two small pockets without trim. For their practicality.

Coco Chanel liked to make coordinated blouses and since she is my inspiration I made this top to go with the jacket, in a lovely indigo jersey. It is my eternal universal T-shirt pattern, always perfect.
After finishing this project, having studied some of Chanel's jacket designs, I can only state my admiration. I know she had more than 300 employees, a couture jacket or suit cost thousands, she owned millinery and notions factories and had access to the best fabrics, but still, she started out of nowhere, and she was brave enough to change fashion for women in a radical sense. Her imagination in embellishment, the extense use of different techniques, the originalitly of her designs... are amazing.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Fisher and Johnson!

My favourite occupation nowadays is sewing and watching good  TV serials simultaneously. After my work day, I do any errands or small tasks needed to be done, and then I sit in my sewing room with a good chapter of one of the bunch of TV serials I like. When my boyfriend calls me for dinner, I always have the feeling it was too short, and I protest and complain that I have to stop.

Today I would like to comment on a couple of those serials I like, not only for the entertainment but also for the sewing inspiration.

Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries was recommended by The Grande Dame in her sewing blog, both of them girls being from Australia. The series is a very good Whodonit, but the most fascinating of it all is the main character, Miss Fisher. 

A detective by occupation, she is so glamourous, brave, clever, and beautiful, one cannot avoid wanting to be her. She is a strong feminist character, defending her freedom and her right to enjoy life no matter what people say. Some old friend tells her:
-Is it true about your reputation?
-I'm afraid it is-she says, smiling.
-So, you are really a private detective?
-Oh! that too...

But what I love most of all is the 1920s fashion she displays. Coats, dresses, jackets, blouses and homewear are just wonderful. 

Her hats, leather bags, scarfs, and shoes are not to be missed, as well as her hairstyle -pure 1920s- and jewels.

 I love sewing retro, and the 50s and 60s are very inspirational in fashion terms, but I always think the roaring 20s are completely undervalued.

Talking about the 50s, we have been enjoying a real jewel this last fall: Masters of Sex. Virginia Johnson, like Miss Fisher, is a wonderful femenine model. Very good looking, amazing body, clever, independent, strong and sweet. 

I don't know if the real Virginia Johnson was up to the character, if she was, no wonder Billy couldn't resit her charm. 

She dresses very tight dresses that display her fabulous body shape. Shirt dresses appropiatte for the office, in dark, serious tones, and contrasting small collars. Coats and jackets are also beautiful. See for yourselves ;-).