Friday, December 25, 2015

The Grey Wool Office Dress / Vestit de llaneta gris

I bought this wool fabric in Julian López, a fabric shop in Zaragoza, a place where you can find a whole range of good quality fabrics: crepe, silk, wool, tartan, cotton lawn, the works. They do not sell online, so one has to travel there and touch the fabrics before buying them. It is a lovely 100%. It frays quite a bit, it is hard to press, and it cannot be washed at home, but it is delicious to sew and wonderful to wear. Wool has some natural give, and this being a tight dress, this slight stretch is perfect.

The pattern is from Burda magazine (Sept 2015 issue). I have decided to claim they publish the BEST patterns in the planet. Seriously. They never fail. I made a muslin for this one to see if it complimented my shapes, but it was not necessary because fitting is always so close to perfection, that the modifications can be done with a slightly generous seam allowances.
After the muslin fit, I proceeded with my method as usual. First, cutting the fabric with the paper flat pieces of the pattern, leaving generous seam allowances around them for possible modifications in critical areas (bust, hips, waist). It is only with the real fabric that we can truly adjust the fitting. 
I use tailor tucks to mark the pattern pieces into the fabric. Here we can see the sleeves.

The first two pieces basted together were the centre back, to install the zipper. My first attempt was a total failure, caused by the stretching of the fabric as I machine-stitched the zipper in place. I had to remove it and construct it the proper way: I put some fusible interlining at both sides of the opening, pinned and BASTED the zipper into place. The second time the result was perfect. 

I see our American and English counterparts doing mortal flips to avoid basting (pins that are removed as you sew, patterns including seam allowances, steam-a-seam, etc). In my opinion, nothing can replace basting, specially in designs that require precision or curved seams.

Once the project is assembled together and basted (no sleeves yet), we will perform the first real fitting. We will modify, give or take at the different seams to adjust the dress to our body in a comfortable way. 

The design of the dress is stunning. With curved princess seams that end in darts in the front, and flares in the back, the dress adjusted to my poor old silhouette as a glove.
I only had to take a little off the hips, and close the neck to get a higher neckline. I know my Burda size is 42, and it is true in everyone of their patterns.
I had to adjust the sleeve setting, sewing them 1 cm closer at the top. After easing their caps into the armshythes, the result was perfect as always. I love Burda's sleeves, they are always perfect.

 I decided to line this dress with black silk habotai I bought through Ebay in Honk Kong. I assembled all the pieces together, but the sleeves, that I hand-sewed at the cuffs. I put some fusible interlining at the neckline, and I put the lining over the dress at the dress form, right sides together. I pinned it at the top, machine-stitched it around the neckline following the interlining, and turned it to the inside, after understitching it to the seam allowance. I basted it into place.

Once the lining was finished, I pinned AND basted the sleeves. Try it on again (it was perfect) and then stitched them into place with my Bernina. With the dress on the dress form, I pinned and hand-sewed the sleeves to the bodice lining.

I decided to try my Bernina blind-stitch presser foot number 5 to do the bottom hem. I was flabbergasted at its working! Very easy to operate (I only had to baste the bottom hem into place) and with a totally invisible result. :-) I also used the zipper foot #4, overlock foot #2 to polish seam allowances and the narrow straight stitch hemmer #64 for the silk lining bottom hem. All of them work perfect!

 The black silk lining shows a bit, as neck facing.

 Seams in this wool were impossible to press properly. That is the only thing I do no like about it.
 The pattern is so forgiving to my protruding belly, lack of waist and bottom. It is right for me.

 Ready to go to the school in the morning...

Seams were so difficult to keep into place that I had to hand sew them open at 20cm intervals.

Monday, December 7, 2015

My First Ever Leather Jacket!!! / La meva primera jaqueta de pell, oh, yeah!

I am so proud of myself I'm gonna burst, maaaaaan!

I made it!

A real leather jacket my own pattern, that has come out of my new Bernina and its essential walking foot!!!
Estic molt orgullosa de presentar-vos la meva primera jaqueta de pell!

I've learnt my trade in Don Morin's course in Crafsy about sewing leather bags, and also from Sterlacci's book (not that I could even follow the instructions for the actual construction of garments in there...). Leather needs a different approach, but I better explain it step by step to better illustrate the process:
Després de fer un curset a Craftsy sobre com cosir pell, i llegir-me un llibre sobre com es confeccionen les peces de pell, vaig comprar-me tres pells de napa per 60 euros a Curtidos Cabezas i vaig posar-me a treballar...

First, I used my own pattern for the Chanel Jacket, 'cause it is faultless. I tried it with some cheap felt to try out difficult items, like sleeves caps, zippers, pockets or neck... 
Vaig utilitzar el meu patró de jaqueta Chanel, i el vaig fer en feltre per provar totes les parts difícils de la jaqueta.

The first outstanding issue with the felt version was sleeve caps... you cannot ease those 4 cm with leather, no way. So, I look in the internet about reducing sleeve caps length. Right to the point! It was a perfect variation.
El primer problema eren les mànigues. No podem arrugar 4 cm de màniga per encabir-la al forat, així que vaig buscar a internet com fer una reducció de les mànigues, que va resultar perfecta.

After getting a good fit, I used the felt pieces, with the alterations and additions, like pockets, to mark the pieces into the leathers' backs with a felt-tip pen. One good thing about leather is that you can put pieces in all directions. We must cut the pieces leaving an even seam allowance all around, because that is going to be our guide in machine sewing.
Amb les peces de feltre descosides vaig marcar els patrons al revers de les pells amb un retolador. Un avantatge de treballar amb pell, es que podem posar les peces en totes direccions, no hi ha un "fil"

 After cutting all the pieces we will reinforce some of them with thermofusible jersey interlining. In this case, I used it in the central front pieces, in the back yoke, around pocket holes and in the neck. Careful with the iron! We must use a thick brown paper between the iron and the leather.
Un cop tallades totes les peces, vaig aplicar entretela de punt de la que s'enganxa als frontals, el canesú de l'esquena, les butxaques i el coll. Alerta al olanxar, hem de posar un paper d'emblar gruixut entre la planxa i la pell.

The first part we are going the construct is pockets, Proportionally, they took quite a lot of time!
Primer, les butxaques, que em van costar una setmana!


After cutting a central line and two small oblique lines at the corners, we glue back open,using special glue for leather... 
Tallem amb el cutter giratori una ratlla i dues obliqües als extrems.

...and holding it open with some tape. Later on I used paper tape and it was more gentle to the leather. 
Per a què s'enganxi , millor utilitzar cinta carrossera fins que s'assequi.

Time to machine-stitch the zipper to the bottom part of the pocket, but first I glued the zipper to the jacket, because I could not think of any other way to hold it in place as I sewed! Once it was dry, I also glued the bottom piece of the inside pocket. I had stitched the interlining fabric to a leather band. That way you see leather through the open zipper.
També vaig enganxar la cremallera pel darrera, i la solapa de pell amb el folre que formaran el sac interior de la butxaca. Un cop secs, ja els podem repuntejar a màquina.

The second part was the upper inner pocket. I glued it into place first, and then I top stitched it, going also around the corners, until I met the bottom line. Then I put all the threads towards the inside and knotted them together. This is a necessary process since one cannot sew back in leather. So we must secure it that way.
Després la part superior de les butxaques, enganxem i repuntegem quan estigui sec, donant la volta a les cantonades, fins a completar el rectangle.

Once the pockets were finished and its bags sewn together, I proceeded to sew all the jacket's seams together except for the shoulder seams. Here my new Bernina, its walking foot and the metallic clips that hold the pieces together. See how cutting an even seam line was important. 
Un cop acabades les butxaques, i cada cop amb més confiança, vaig cosir totes les costures al voltant de la jaqueta i el canesú de l'esquena. Llavors les inclinava a un costat, picant amb un martell de goma, i les pespuntejava amb la màquina. 
After stitching every seam, I moved the seam allowances towards one side, helping myself with a rubber hammer, and top stitched it to hold it in place.  See how even and straight Bernina's stitches are...

Meanwhile, I'd been sewing the lining together, and pressing its seams open. I hold it to the jacket's bottom right sides together and glued the bottom seam to the jacket, using some clothes pins to hold it together as it dried. Finally, I stitched and topstitched shoulder seams, and hand-sewed the lining shoulders on the dress form.
  Mentrestant s'anaven secant les peces, vaig anar cosint el folre. El vaig cosir la final de la vora de la jaqueta, que vaig girar i la vaig enganxar a lloc, aguantat-la amb agulles d'estendre. Llavors vaig cosir i repuntejar les espatlles de la jaqueta i els del folre, aquesta a mà i a sobre del maniquí.

I constructed sleeves parallelly. First, the seam with the zipper, top-stitched as well, and then the second seam, less visible, I simply glued it open. I machine-stitched the lining to the bottom seam allowance, turn it over and glued, as I did in the bodice.
Finally, I put the sleeves to the armholes, stitched them with the machine with no problem at all, and sew the lining by hand. I secured the lining along the frontal zipper and the sleeves zippers as well. 
Amb les mànigues vaig cosir i repuntejar primer la costura de la cremallera (són de dues peces). L'altra costura la vaig cosir i la vaig enganxar amb cola, oberta. Llavors com amb la jaqueta, vaig cosir el folre de les mànigues a la punta de la vora, que vaig girar i enganxar.

Finally, it was time for the Mao neck.This was an addition I made to the original pattern, following Aldrich's instructions. I sewed the right side first, rolled the inside and machine stitched it in place. It was a miracle it turned out almost perfect. In fact, one side was longer than the other (OMG!!!). I decided to topstitch the upper side too, and make a little fold in the longer corner, hold by the topstitching... 
El coll finalment. El vaig dibuixar jo mateixa seguint les instruccions del llibre de l'Aldrich. Primer el vaig cosir i girar de tot arreu excepte de baix. Vaig cosir la part de fora a la jaqueta, agafant també el folre, i llavors la part de dins al vaig entornar i la vaig repuntejar per fora. Era una peça compromesa, però va sortir molt bé finalment.

Miraculously, it worked!

I put some details as zipper-pullers and... VOILÀ!

 The final result is so nice, I cannot believe it!
Comfortable, warm, stylish... 

Big thanks to my little cousin Maira who came to the rescue with a kick-ass reflex camera. BAD PICTURES are over!!!
Gràcies per la càmera, Maira! S'ha acabat la misèria!

My new Benina 380 has been up to the task. The walking foot works perfect, and stitching and topstitching 3 or four layers is easy-peasy for it. I only had trouble topstitching the neck, where I had 4 or 6 layers, and it skipped stitches some time. Also during this project, The machine got stuck and I had to reiniciate it to go on, as if the needle got stuck, and the machine did not answer to the pedal.
La meva nova Bernia 380 ha estat a l'alçada en aquest porjecte tan complicat... el doble arrastre funciona de meravella, i cus i repunteja sense problemes... quasibé. Al fer el coll, on ja tenia 4 o 6 capes de napa, se'm saltava algun punt, i com que era una zona molt delicada, ho vaig haver d'arreglar com vaig poder... També em pasava sovint que se'm quedava parada i no responia al pedal... era com si l'agulla no pugues pujar. En aquestes ocasion , havia de parar la màquina i tornar-la a engegar, i llavors funcionava sense problemes. Això només m'ho feia en aquest projecte.