Thursday, 25 May 2017

OOP Vogue 8887: Cuffed Trousers

This is my test garment of out-of-print (OOP) Vogue 8887. There is so much that I like about this pattern. First off, the fabric is cut on the bias and wow! I've already sang the praises of bias cut garments here so I'll spare you from any more on this post.

The ribbon finished waist is the cat's meow. And I have a pair of cuffed pants! I've always dreamed of cuffed pants. So, the question remains, do I now feel like a 1940s trouser-wearing movie starlet?  


Well, if I have a big white shirt to cover my mid-section and the pulling at the lower pocket edge then yeah, maybe. It's all about creating an illusion, right? That's right, I have not perfected the fit just yet. I can get away wearing it if carefully paired with a strategic garment but I am sure I can improve the fit.

Modelling Vogue 8887 with a puffed up allergy face. 

I like the ribbon waist and that is a feature I will keep. The waist size I might go up, it fits snuggly, I would just like a little more ease in this area. I need to figure out what I want to do about the pockets since they are not helping with my full hips and thighs. The vertical pockets on the front side gap open. I'm thinking about eliminating them. But then I have similar pockets on my OOP Vogue 1325 trousers and they don't gap like these do, hmmm. More ease will be given in this area as well. To go along with my full hips and thighs, I also have a tummy. Yeah, now you have an idea why pants are a challenge. This means that low-rise pants are a no-no and even though OOP Vogue 8887 are not low-rise the front waist sits 1/2" below the waistline. I wasn't going to have any of that so I raised it 1/2" and it's perfect. I really like all the darts, there are four in the back and two in the front. They are a keeper. The crotch length is cut as a size 14 and the inner thigh is cut at the largest size. The side seam is cut as a size 16, maybe a 1/2 size more might give me the perfect amount of ease. And the finally, the cuffs. Don't get me wrong, I love a cuffed leg despite reading that wide legged cuffs are to be avoided for petites but the length, look at the length compared to the pattern photograph.

The trousers on the Vogue model seem to fall closer to ankle length, on me they look capri length. The pattern piece wasn't shortened so next time I'm going to lengthen the legs. Since these are small cuffs I don't think they make me look shorter and I wouldn't mind making it a full length leg. I did however have to shorten the right leg length by 1/2" to make the hems appear even. It is a consistent adjustment I have to make with trousers.  

So, I'm well on my way to making the trousers I want. Until then, it's back to the drawing board to make some changes to the pattern.  

The Stats:  

Fabric:  2 metres 100% wool suiting and 0.3 metres of lining fabric

Zipper:  8" invisible zipper

Ribbon:  1.1 metres of 1 1/4" grosgrain ribbon

Additional Tools & Supplies:  Grid board, cutting table, pins, scissors, sewing reference books, sewing machine, serger, tracing paper, markers, pencils, threads for the sewing machine and serger, silk thread for hand stitching, tweezers, seam ripper, tailor's ham, pressing mitt, iron, ironing board, walking foot, invisible zipper foot, regular zipper foot, hanger, many breaks, chai lattes and some good tunes.

Happy Sewing!

Monday, 22 May 2017

The Genius Behind the Bias Cut

Out-of-print (OOP) Vogue 8887 has become more than sewing a pair of trousers. It's an act of slow sewing. I just want to sit and reflect how beautiful the bias cut fabric looks as it's being sewn. Who knew a simple wool could look so exquisite when cut on the bias?  

When I first found this pattern (circa 2013) I had no ideal that all of the pieces (jacket, skirt, top, and trousers) were cut on the bias. The placement of the plaid on the orange and yellow jacket should have been a clue. Other than that, there was no mention of it anywhere on the pattern envelope. Maybe that was intentional on Vogue's part? Bias cut garments seem to have a reputation. 

Madeleine Vionnet

They are nostalgically admired and associated with the creative artistry of Madeleine Vionnet's work in the early 20th century and sometimes feared in our modern sewing spaces. It doesn't help when modern sewing books refer to sewing bias-cut garments as "challenging." Nothing like reinforcing the fear of the bias. So what is the bias?  

Bias refers to the grain of the fabric. According to Madeleine Vionnet, there are actually three grains found in a piece of fabric: the crossgrain, lengthwise grain and the bias. Yet some resources argue that the bias is "not technically a grain."  

Photo credit:  Threads Magazine

Cutting a garment on the bias is all about finding the true bias. The true bias refers to a 45 degree angle from lengthwise and crossgrains. And this is where slow sewing plays a key part in bias cut garments. Before you can locate the true bias you have to prepare the fabric for locating the crossgrain by either tearing on the crossgrain or pulling a thread and cutting across the open space left by the missing pulled thread. Now the fabric can be laid out so the crosswise and lengthwise grains are at perfect right angles. This will help to find a fabric's true bias. 

If you understand the qualities that bias cut garments offer and take your time to find the true bias you will have greater control of this fabric cut and it is worth it in the end. Bias hangs thinner and longer giving a slimmer look than straight and crossgrain cut fabric, it doesn't ravel or wrinkle and it drapes softly over the body. And there you have the genius behind the bias cut. But there are some pointers to take note of that I couldn't find mentioned on the Vogue instruction sheets that came with OOP Vogue 8887.  This could be why this pattern is rated as "average" which Vogue Patterns defines as:
These patterns are perfect if you have more time to sew, and more experience sewing. Look for challenging designer techniques, tailoring, unique construction details. Expect more fitting and inner construction. Find more variety in fabrics from the stretchiest knits to synthetic leathers and suedes. 
Considering that all of the patterns are for bias cut garments, I'm surprised that this pattern is not rated advanced. Now, don't let me scare you off of sewing bias cut trousers because they are divine. Right now they are hanging until tomorrow when I'll finish off the hem. But there was some useful and insightful information that I found in some of my sewing books.  

All of my resources mention that you should stretch bias cut fabric as you sew although there were various methods. Vogue Sewing suggests stretching the fabric slightly as you stitch over tissue paper so that the finished edge will hang correctly. This is to prevent puckering. The Sewtionary echoes suggestions to stretch the fabric slightly and even suggests that bias seams can be stitched with a narrow zigzag stitch. Couture: The Art of Fine Sewing offered the most comprehensive instructions on machine sewing a bias seam. Unlike the previously mentioned resources it instructs that the fabric be stretched "as much as possible without using force[!]" What I really appreciated with these instructions is that Roberta Carr took the time to explain why things are done a certain way making it all make sense to me rather than just reading instructions. I really do recommend this book if you can find it. The instructions also differ in that it suggests stitching five to ten inches, stop, then lift the press foot in order to let the fabric settle to help maintain the grain. So what did I do?  

I took all the suggestions in consideration and used my walking foot to construct most of the seams (exception: installing the zipper). I did stretch slightly as I sewed and stitched for short distances, stopped, raised the presser foot and repeated the process. 
Another important piece of information I want to pass along is that bias garments should not be hung during construction. I often put unfinished work on my mannequin or draped over the edge of a chair or table but with this project, I took care to lay the unfinished pieces flat on the cutting table.  

Right now my trousers are almost finished but there is one important step that all of my resources agree on. Completed bias garments should hang for twenty-four hours before hemming. And that is where I'm at, admiring the genius behind the bias cut as the trousers hang in preparation of the final step.  

Happy Sewing!  


Carr, Roberta.  Couture:  The Art of Fine Sewing.  Palmer/Pletsch Publishing, 1993.  

Kennett, Frances.  Secrets of the Couturiers.  Exeter Books, 1984. 

Levine, Betsy (ed.).  Great Sewn Clothes:  From Threads Magazine.  The Taunton Press, 1991.  

Musheno, Elizabeth J. (ed.).  The Vogue Sewing Book.  Butterick Publishing, 1975.  

St. Germaine, Tasia.  The Sewtionary:  An A to Z Guide to 101 Sewing Techniques & Definitions.  KP Craft, 2014. 

Saturday, 20 May 2017

In Sewing News Today...

I got out of the house today despite dealing with pain in my back. It kept me from the sewing room but I did make it out for some grosgrain ribbon for those Vogue 8887 pants that are taking me forever to get to. I grabbed my pattern envelope thinking that I could reference it when I got to the store as to how much ribbon I'll need and that didn't quite work out as planned. OOP Vogue 8887 pattern envelope instructs you to see the instruction sheets for notions! Really, Vogue? I'm sure in the space it took to write that, Vogue's technical writers could have easily listed how much grosgrain ribbon we need to pick up. With the pattern instruction sheets on the cutting table at home and Vogue 8887 being an out-of-print pattern, I just had to guesstimate the yardage. Next time, I'll make a list.  

Sewing wasn't in the cards today, maybe tomorrow. But while I was out, I stumbled across some vintage sewing books. 

They are Woman's Institute of Domestic Arts & Sciences books from the 1930s. The three that I have are Pattern Designing, Principles of Tailoring, and Dressmaking Trimming Finishing and they are a treasure of information. I can't wait to explore the written words of wisdom and pour over the vintage illustrations. 

In other sewing news, today was the final day that Mitchell Fabrics would be open to the public and I couldn't bare to walk in there and see all those bare walls. ~sigh~ I'm going to miss that place. The last time I was there, a few weeks ago, the basement was completely emptied and most of the main floor was filled with a lot of empty tables. 

It is sad to see and read about so many fabric stores closing not only here but other places as well. And yeah, I know we can always buy fabric and supplies online but it's not the same. On my last visit there I picked up the last bit of an animal print linen that is enough to make an off-the-shoulder top. I can honestly say that if I didn't run my fingers through that linen fabric, I don't think I would have been tempted by just looking at an online photo of it. I'm really going to miss that place. But I'm really happy that I got to experience shopping at such a wonderful fabric store.  

Well, that is all in sewing news today... 

Happy Sewing!  


Saturday, 13 May 2017

Tackling My Biggest Sewing Challenge: Trousers

Of all the garments that I have made only 5% have been some form of trousers, pants or shorts. These leg covering garments include culottes, shorts, jumpsuit, elasticized, and my much-loved OOP Vogue 1325 raised-waist trousers and have been sewn for either myself or others. If I were to only count trousers I've made for myself that only account for 2% of my makes.

I would wear more trousers if I can break the fitting code on this type of project. And this is my next Me-Made-May journey, trousers.

I Gra├ža, of Sew Essentially Sew, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May 2017.  I plan on being more mindful of the fabrics that I chose to wear, the environmental impact of my sewing decisions, and to pass along the clothes that don't fit and replace them with items that reflect my current life-style and values.  

I should confess that my wardrobe also has a pair of ill-fitting trousers that I haven't been able to part with (until now) because I made it and searched high and low for needed supplies. I'm looking at you, Vogue 1507. This is a perfect example of falling for a beautiful designer look that doesn't really do my petite pear shaped body any favours. It was an error in style choice, not any flaws on the pattern's design.

Vogue 1507 was not doing my pear shaped figure any favours.
The crotch sat a little low because it was loose around the waistline. Add to that my curvaceous hip and thigh area doesn't lend too well to a tapered leg or the opportunity to properly adjust that waist. It is all good because these pair of trousers have taught me a few things that I hope to use on this trouser making journey.

I have a small waist measurement compared to my hip measurement. Most of the time when I've tried on RTW trousers or tried to make my own, I have an issue with the waistband.  The waist will stick out and doesn't properly sit on my body. According to some research, contour waistbands should work with this issue. But I once made OOP Vogue 1309 which has a contour waistband and it didn't turn out quite how I hoped. I might consider another pattern instead of re-visiting Vogue 1309.

Vogue 7881, from Claire Shaeffer's Custom Couture Collection, has a contour yoke. This might be a possibility. And it's sized for Misses' petite, at just over five feet, I could use a petite sized pattern. And it has a European cut. To be honest I had to research what this meant. An European cut refers to a longer rise compared to a low rise typically found in North American trouser styles. And according to research, a person, like me, with a smaller to hip ratio would benefit from an European cut.

And I have thighs, fabulous full thighs that present a challenge when fitting trousers. I have a copy of Sandra Bettina's Fast Fit:  Easy Pattern Alterations for Every Figure and it had some wonderful advice on this fitting issue and it worked like a charm when I made those Vogue 1325 pants. But, now that I want to try another pattern. I'll just have to remember that this worked on this pattern.

I mentioned that I'm also petite and apparently, that means that I should avoid wide leg trousers. But to heck with that!  
Katherine Hepburn, trouser wearing style icon. 
I want to look like a 1940s trouser wearing starlet. Except, I'm petite and the style icons that I'm thinking about were much taller than I am.  

Doris Day, circa 1948.
I would love to recreate that 1940's vintage look, just minus any pleats.  

And I have OOP Vogue 8887 is sitting in my collection of trouser patterns with that 1940's vibe I'm looking for without scaring me off with pleats. But these trousers are wide-legged, cuffed and have side front pockets, all design elements that a petite curvy lady should avoid.  

So, this is the plan. Work on Claire Shaeffer's Vogue 7881 and learn the "inside secrets of luxurious couture construction details" and then take that knowledge and apply it to OOP Vogue 8887. And maybe, if all goes well, I'll have my dream pair of pants.  

Happy Sewing!  

Thursday, 11 May 2017

One Last One!

It is time to pack away Vogue 9057 and move onto another challenge but before I do, I have one more to show 'n tell.  

This one is for Mama R and if the fabric looks familiar it is the same fabric I used for the very first one. This one far more superior from the first time I stitched it because of the fit. It is the number one reason to sew clothes, you can achieve a fit that you want (after a few tries, ha ha). 
There are several changes / alterations made to this top pattern:
  1. Straightened the hem, eliminating the hi-lo hemline.  
  2. Lengthened the sleeves, pattern piece 5 (view A), by one inch and stitched with a 5/8" instead of a 1" hem.
  3. Changed the neckline shape, adding 1" along the front curve and tapering to 3/4" at the centre back. 
  4. Omitted the sleeve band, pattern piece 4 (view A).
  5. Eliminated the neckband, pattern piece 3 (view A).
  6. Flared the sides by 2" from the hem and tapering to medium cutting line at the armhole.  
So this makes five versions of this top. I won't be keeping all of them. The first one doesn't fit around the neckline that way I like and the burgundy and this one are to be gifted to Mama R.  

Yellow top has a 1 1/2" flare, burgundy top has a 2" flare, digital print top has a 1 1/2" flare,
and the multi-coloured top has a 2" flare.  All have modified necklines.

The Stats:

Fabric:  2 metres polyester knit

Fusible Tape:  3 metres Knit-N-Stitch™

Pattern:  Vogue 9057

Needle:  Serger needle 90/14

Additional Tools & Supplies:  Cutting table, pins, tailor's chalk, rulers, measuring tape, sewing machine, serger, threads for the machines, scissors, thread clippers, tweezers, screw driver, iron, ironing board, and coffee.  

Happy Sewing!  

For Mama R With Love

It might seem that I'm stuck on Vogue 9057 this month but seriously, it is an amazing pattern. Even Mama R became smitten with the fit (not the colour) of this one. It's rare to find something that fits us in the armhole straight from the pattern without cutting the armhole in a smaller size. So, with Mother's Day just around the corner, I had to make her a couple of tops. Here is the first one. Like I mentioned she tried on the yellow one I made and liked the fit the best but she wanted additional length on the sleeves.  

I lengthened the sleeve pattern piece an inch but if I haven't already cut the second one I would have lengthened it two inches so that I could give it a 1" hem. This one has a 5/8" hem. Otherwise, this has the same changes that I made to my last one, raise the neckline an inch in the front and tapered down to three-quarters of an inch at the centre back. No neckband or sleeve bands were used. The hem was straightened, shortened, and flared at the side seams by two inches.  

Now let's talk about this fabric. I picked this cotton knit at Fabricland with thoughts of sewing a completely different project but I'm glad I abandoned those plans for this one. Burgundy is one of Mama R's favourite colours and what makes Mama R happy makes me happy, so I'm happy to use this piece of fabric for her top.  

This project came together like a dream without any issues sewing this fabric. I stitched the seams with the knit (lightning bolt) stitch on my sewing machine. The edges were finished with an overlock stitch on the serger. The neckline, hems, and shoulder seams were treated with fusible tape.  

The Stats

Fabric:  2 metres

Fusible Tape:  3 metres Knit-N-Stitch™

Pattern:  Vogue 9057

Additional Tools & Supplies:  Cutting table, pins, tailor's chalk, rulers, measuring tape, sewing machine, serger, threads for the machines, thread clippers, iron, ironing board, tailor's sleeve ham, coffee, stretching breaks and some really bad television playing in the background (iPod needs to be charged).

Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

One More!

I made one more version of Vogue 9057. This Marcy Tilton top pattern is quickly becoming a go-to staple.  

I made similar changes to this one as I did to the previous one adding a little more flare to the bottom hem.  Instead of a 1 1/2" flare, this one has a 2" flare on each side. I would like to go back to the sewing machine and add lined patched pockets. 

I found this fabric at Fabricland a couple of months ago as a remnant sized piece in a bin of knits. No idea what the fibre content is on this one as it was stamped "unknown." I usually turn away from these type of non-labeled fabrics but I was smitten by the texture and colour.

I do know that it handled the pre-treatment process well. Before I cut the fabric, it was washed in the regular cycle and went through the normal cycle in the dryer. No issues or noticeable shrinkage on this medium weight back-bonded knit. It even handled the heat from the iron relatively well when attaching the Knit-N-Stitch™fusible tape.

The top was constructed with the knit (lightning bolt) stitched and the edges were finished on the overlock (serger) machine.  

The Stats

Fabric:  2 metres

Fusible Tape:  3 metres Knit-N-Stitch™

Pattern:  Vogue 9057

Thread:  I finished off two spools of (previously opened) thread.  

Additional Tools & Supplies:  Cutting table, pins, tailor's chalk, rulers, measuring tape, sewing machine, serger, threads for the machines, thread clippers, iron, ironing board, stretching breaks, and some good tunes.

Happy Sewing!

OOP Vogue 8887: Cuffed Trousers

This is my test garment of out-of-print (OOP) Vogue 8887. There is so much that I like about this pattern. First off, the fabric is cut on ...