Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Twinkle Sews: A Plus A-Line Skirt pt 2

Ah, the A Plus A-Line skirt. (Please see last post for cutting drama and tips.) If you have ever made a skirt before, you can make this one with just a cursory glance at the the instructions. I read through them and they seem to make sense, although I was unable to view them with the eyes of a novice sewer. Very very straightforward skirt. One thing that I did, that I always do with pleats now is to thread trace along the fold line. It makes everything go soooo easily.

This skirt has no facings. You sew the right sides of the skirt and lining together and then flip it over, topstitching the two layers together. I've done this before with other skirts, but it is a little weird here because the yoke is interfaced. I guess since this skirt is made from wool, it's not so weird to have exposed interfacing. (It's not really exposed because of the lining, but because the lining hangs free, it felt odd to do it this way.)

So here is the finished skirt, and it actually looks pretty cute lying flat.

It did not look so great on. The pleats had a very 3-D effect. Which makes sense, but the pictures in the book did not leave me to believe that I would have a wad of fabric hanging from the center of my skirt.

I like the way the thread tracing looked with fabric so I took some cream embroidery floss and did some wabi sabi* hand top stitching to flatten out those pleats.

The skirt looks ok like this, but I have a small problem in that I lost weight between starting and finishing the skirt and now it hangs funny. I'm gonna wait a few weeks and then probably put some darts in the yoke so I can at least wear it with with a shirt untucked. I'm kind of disappointed right now and not quite sure I can salvage it for at least a few months wear. (It's also not so A-Line when it is on me.) There are a lot of cute versions of this on the Burdastyle website, but they are photographed from the front, so it is hard to see any of the same issues. I would hate to waste this lovely wool flannel.

*Wabi sabi = a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Twinkle Sews: A Plus A-Line Skirt pt 1

My first garment from the Twinkle Sews book is the A Plus A-Line skirt. (It will be my entry into the A Plus A-Line contest over at Burdastyle.) If you would like to try this skirt without buying the book, you can download it for free here. (Deadline for contest is tomorrow.) Today I am going to go over some of the prep process that I had to do before I cut out my real fabric.

Step 1: Printing Out.

The pattern for this skirt is on a disc included with the book, so you have to print the pattern onto computer paper and tape everything together. I am a mac user and I use Preview as my default for pdf files. For some reason, I could not get Preview to play nicely with this document. It kept printing the page just a little too big, so I could not see some of the numbers in the corner to line up the pages. I had to download adobe and I think those images may have been a little too small. (The border was bigger in real life than it appeared on my computer screen. But who knows.) If you have ever pieced together a pattern from Burdastyle, you hopefully will have noticed that they include a 4 inch box on their patterns which you can measure to make sure that your printouts are the right size. These patterns do not have that, and I wish they did. Then I would just know that everything would be just right. Because there are no measurements given for the garments, it is doubly hard to make sure that the scale is correct.

Step 2: Tape it all together

There are numbers in all the corners to match up so you can tape everything together.

Step 3: Tracing the Pattern (optional)

I do not like working with the computer paper, so I trace the pattern onto the back of another pattern. Yep, you heard me correctly, I reuse old patterns this way. (Not vintage, just kinda oldish) I am a sucker for $1 - $2 pattern sales that the chain fabric stores have, and I end up with some patterns that seemed like a good idea at the time but really weren't. I iron them out, turn them over and use them to trace my Burdas and Hot Patterns. If I pay attention and mark everything clearly, I don't get distracted by the existing markings.

Step 4: Resize Pattern

I'm not gonna lie, I am about a size bigger than the largest size offered in this book. Because this pattern is so simple, I just added some width equally to all the pieces and that seemed to work fine. The first thing I did was cut the pattern in half. All of the pattern pieces for this garment were meant to be cut in a single layer, which is fine, but adds complications when you want to grade something up. (If you are adding inches towards the side of the pattern, it is easier to do it once on the fold, then twice at each end. If that makes sense.) So I just cut out my pattern, folded it in half, and then cut it in two. (I would be annoyed if I had to grade between the given sizes because you would have to fully print out both sizes, put one on top of each other, and trace in between. Or that is how they say to do it. I would not. There is a lot to be said for multi-size sheets.)

I knew I was going to add about an 1 1/2 to each pattern piece, so I marked a line, cut the pattern on the line, and spread the pieces out. (Since the pattern is so simple, I just spread in one spot.) I then taped the pieces to my table.

And then I traced over these pieces to create one pattern piece. Voila! A pattern in my size.

Step 5: The muslin

I made a few muslins for this skirt. I made three just for the yoke. I wanted to get the fit just right for that before I resized anything else, so I would know exactly how much to add to the other pattern pieces. I then made one for the lining, because it is more fitted than the skirt. (I ended up with the back piece being really big. Not sure if that was my error or the pattern's.) Then I made one for the skirt. I am still not happy with the waist, but I am going to deal with that in the actual fashion fabric.

Step 6: The Skirt

I got the skirt cut out last night and am about to start sewing. I have a lovely grey wool flannel that I am using. Hopefully I can get that waist fixed.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

New Vogue Patterns

Yay! The new Vogue Patterns are on their website, and as usual there are some I love and some I hate. Here are the ones I feel most strongly about.

Vogue 1134
I like the cut of this dress more than I like the fabric.

Vogue 1135
I love Ralph Rucci with a feeling both pure and strong.

Vogue 1143
I have never wanted to make anything as much as I want to make this jacket. I think it is exquisite. I am not a big Guy Laroche fan, but this is hitting me in all the right places.

Vogue 8621
Another beautiful coat. I love that she gives both couture and regular instructions.

Vogue 1144
As I said, I love Ralph Rucci. That being said, I think this is horrible. Really Really Bad. It hurts me.

I can't wait to see everybody's choices on line.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Twinkle Sews

I was very excited to hear that Wenlan Chia was putting out a new book, this time for sewers rather than knitters. (She is the fashion designer behind Twinkle.)

I have been a big fan of her knitting books, although since most of her designs are done in bulky yarns, I have not made any of them. (Bulky sweaters are not such a good look for the larger ladies.) I appreciate her fashion forward designs and understanding of the DIY culture. I think it is great that Vogue carries designer patterns, but feel that most of them are geared towards an older idea of what fashion forward is. I was very excited when Wendy Mullin (Built by Wendy) started working with Simplicity and and putting out the Sew U books because it meant that a designer was finally getting that a lot of us want to make our own versions of what we see in the boutique stores. ($200 for anything is a lot for me.) The Twinkle knitting books have the same appeal.

I ordered Twinkle Sews sight unseen from Amazon, and am pretty excited by it, although not without some concerns. The book has instructions for 25 garments with the actual patterns on a CD that you can print PDF style (like Burdastyle) or through Adobe illustrator. (I have only looked at the pdf files.) The beginning of the book has some basic sewing information, but I don't think that a new sewer could make these garments without another reference book or a little more experience.

The sizing is also a little interesting. The patterns come in 5 sizes: 0, 4, 8, 12, and 16. (I cannot figure out why there is such a big space here. Blogger is weird. Keep reading.)


Since the measurements are just increments of 2, I imagine that many people are going to have to tweak the sizing a bit. One issue with that is that there is a different folder of PDFs for each size. (Not all sizes on one sheet like Burda.) For someone in between sizes, the instructions recommend that you lay the smaller size on top of the larger one and draw a line in between. The problem with this is the fact that it takes a lot of paper to print these suckers out. (I counted almost 50 sheets for one simple skirt. I will need to confirm that when I go to make it.) I have not seen any measurements for the garments, so I am not sure what the level of ease is and how the finished garments actually correspond to the sizes given. (Muslins are the order of the day here.)

The book starts out with a skirt chapter, and then proceeds with other types of garments (click on pictures to make them larger):

Everyday Chic Skirts:

Casual Charm Raglan Sleeve:

Effortless Elegance Drop Shoulder:

Playful Poise Spaghetti Straps:

At first glance the designs look overly simple, especially the skirts, but at further inspection there are some nice details. She stresses linings and there are a lot of nice origami-like touches. A lot of the clothing skews young (as does the Twinkle collections in general), but adding some length to the hemlines and other discreet changes can make a lot of these designs wearable for those of us over 40.

For my first design, I am going to try the A Plus A-Line skirt, that was not so coincidentally featured on the Burdastyle website.

from burdastyle.com

They are having a contest and Wenlan Chia herself will pick her three favorite versions of this skirt for cool prizes. Look here for more info. I do not generally enter contests, but I have a cute idea for this, so I think I just might. Deadline is October 14th.

(I am not associated with anybody mentioned in this post. I was just super curious about this book.)