V8333: The GGQB Blazer

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Vogue 8333, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

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The Instructions
Like manna from heaven if you’re into the tailoring thing. It’s been said before that this pattern is worth its weight in gold purely for the 4 bits of paper that come with, and I honestly couldn’t agree more. If I were to make another of this from scratch and following the word to the letter, I would still learn something new.

Couture vs. RTW Construction
You have the option of using couture techniques, or the quicker route of using ready-to-wear techniques. I made View A (couture) instead of View B (RTW), which uses horse hair canvas at the front and silk organza as underlining everywhere else. My fabric was loosely woven so I interfaced all the pieces with a really lightweight fusible to keep the tears to a minimum.

The Collar
Sewing a notched collar shouldn’t be this easy. But it really is! I also love that the collar is made up of three pieces – a stand, upper and under collar. The latter is cut on the bias and shaped so that when you turn it out, the seam line is just ever so slightly on the underside, rather than on the fold so it’s visible. I think the term is ‘allowing for turn of cloth’?. 

The Waist
It’s not often I thrown on a jacket and have an instantly defined waist. Kudos to Claire for making a pattern that flatters one of my favourite sections of the female physique. 

Corporate vs Casual
I had bought enough fabric to make a matching skirt… but really I’m loving this as a weekend thing with jeans. My jacket from The Vogue Suit gets a lot of wear this way too (in fact, it’s easily the most worn item I’ve sewn yet), so now I can spread the wardrobe workload a bit. 

Hand Worked Buttonholes
Maybe this doesn’t quite deserve to be included in my favourite things. There’s something amiss with my technique because my buttonholes don’t look like Jeffery’s, Marina’s or Paco’s. But they have shred apart my belief that couture = fragile. You could launch a rocket through those button holes and have them hold. They ain’t going nowhere! 

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The Materials:
Fabric – Periwinkle Blue woven raw silk tussah from EmmaOneSock, and lemon yellow silk satin lining from Clegs. Inside you’ll find horsehair canvas, silk organza, nylon fusible interfacing and a truckload of hand stitching.
Buttons – in self covered fabric from Buttonmania. Click here for hand worked buttonhole resources like gimp and silk buttonhole twist.

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Other Stuff: 
Why the GGQB acronym you ask? It stands for Governor General Quentin Bryce – my inspiration for both the fabric colour and the style. What a woman.

There was only one part in the instructions that left me a little confused – where you are required to ‘tape the front’. It doesn’t specify what kind of tape one should be using. Thankfully, Claire also talks about this in her Couture Sewing book, where she said she uses strips of silk organza. So that’s exactly what I did (you can see my ‘immaculate’ fell stitching, pad stitching and tape application here). The only other thing is that there’s no telling when you’re supposed to remove the basting stitches. But hey, it’s hardly a life changing decision!

My love of both wearing and making tailored jackets is well set to continue… I’ve already got the fabric and the pattern for my next tailoring project-to-be safely stashed away! 

I’ll be entering this puppy into Pattern Review’s Lined Jacket Competition very shortly – so feel free to check out the competition (and my review here) and if you’ve been a PR member for 3 or more months – to vote! Preferably for me of course (voting starts September 1), but only as long as you think I’m worthy of it :)

I completely forgot to include some shots of the lining (click to enlarge), which is a requirement of the competition rules. So yay for more photos!



V8333: Hand worked buttonholes

Jeffery’s handy-work, from the amazing Made by Hand

Buttonholes have always instilled a bit of fear in me. Probably the whole thing around having spent a lot of effort in finishing a garment, only to slice holes in it. I’ve been racing against the clock to finish this jacket in time for the August 31 deadline, but I really want to try hand worked buttonholes, like the ones pictured above. Buttonhole porn if there ever were such a thing, I’m sure.

Seeing as I’m now no longer having lessons (with my seriously talented teacher) and can’t just roll up on a Saturday afternoon with all my questions any more, I went about some hand worked buttonhole research.

If you aren’t acquainted with Made by Hand – the Great Satorial Debate, a fabulous and incredibly instructive blog by Jeffery, then I highly recommend you pay a visit. He has a bit of a thing for hand worked button holes and I can totally see why. The more time I spend reading (and re-reading) his blog, the stronger my own buttonhole obsession gets. Oh yeah, and his blog is also a fabulous wealth of other couture tailoring information. Drool. 

There’s multiple types of hand worked buttonholes, with tailors around the world apparently jealously guarding the secrets to their particular techniques – I’ve got permission to pull a few images from Jeffery’s website for comparison to show.

Firstly you have the key-hole style buttonhole – which I suppose could be classed as being ‘utilitarian’ (if couture clothing could be described as such) because it’s practical and functional design is key in ensuring lasting wear from the garment, especially if the button being used has a shank. I love how you can see how precise each individual stitch is!

Keyhole buttonhole, from Made by Hand

Then there’s a more delicate version, left for jacket lapels where it’s unlikely it will ever be used, but looks stunning none-the-less:

The ‘Milanese’ buttonhole, from Made by Hand

Because I adore Jeffery’s work, I’m going entirely off his recommendations for supplies, and I’ve been waiting on various orders from around the globe to arrive that are transporting necessary hand worked buttonhole making goodies. I’m talking:

Gimp. Specifically, Agreman Gimp (made by Gutermann). A very strong thread used to reinforce buttonholes. It’s tricky stuff to get hold of, and there are two online sources that I can find: 
 – The Lining Company (UK)
 – Kenton Trimmings (UK)

The latter won’t post to Australia though, so I went with the former. 

 – WAWAK Sewing (US) *update – new supplier!

Buttonhole Twist. The word is that Seta Bozzolo (literally ‘silk cocoon’ in Italian) silk thread from Italian Thread maker Cucirini Tre Stelle is the best to use. Some online suppliers if you’re interested in trying your hand:
 – La Rosa Blue (Italy)
 – Carmen Warehouse (USA)
 – Tristan Italian Threads (Canada)
I bought mine from Tristan (it arrived really quickly too!) and spent quite a long time just admiring the gorgeous sheen of the silk before threading up. When I went into Buttonmania to order some fabric covered buttons I noticed they had Gutermann silk buttonhole twist in stock – I bought some in the closest colour to match as well ($2.50 for 10m):

The silk comes in 10m lengths, which is apparently due to how the silk fibres are handled in the production process. The gimp is a giant 100m spool and it comes in a vast array of colours – I ended up choosing a neutral light brown. For visual reference I threw a standard 100m thread spool in there as well.

I’ve been practising these all weekend, starting with numero uno:

It’s certainly not something I’d feel comfortable parading in front of Claire Shaeffer, but it’s a starting point. I started on the bottom right and worked my way around clockwise – it’s pretty evident to me the second half is a lot nicer!! Half the trouble is knowing how far to ‘bite in’ with your stitches; unfortunately I’ve also managed to stretch the fabric out, presumably when pulling my stitches tight – which you can’t really see in the photo.

The Seta Bozolo silk thread is a dream to work with (once you’ve run it through some beeswax and ironed it in between some grease-proof paper – the first time I’ve tried this and it makes handling and sewing with silk thread a hassle-free experience). The Gutermann stuff is nice too but a bit thicker.

Maybe one day soon I can have mine looking like Jeffery’s (in the picture at the top of this post). Just. Ahmazing.

If you’re keen to try your own hand worked button holes – here are the resources I used:
Made by Hand: here, here, here, here and also here
Frabjous Couture
The Cutter and Tailor (the best instructions I’ve come across yet)
A Tailor Made It
Paco Peralta
Vogue 8333 Instructions
Couture Sewing Techniques (book) by Claire Shaeffer

Will work for fabric

Photo, thanks to TJ (The Perfect Nose) accosting a very attractive Scottish fellow

On Saturday a whole stack of Victorians, New South Welsh(wo)men and Tasmanian sewing enthusiasts and bloggers alike descended on Tessuti, and it was a bit like a long lost family reunion! Seeing so many familiar faces (but for the very first time) was an odd, but slightly exhilarating feeling :) Low lighting isn’t friendly at the best of times, but I had already chosen to leave the tripod at home in favour of more fabric carrying capacity! 

Sarah (Sew Squirrel) and Kat (All the Whimsical Things)

I’ll admit I was distracted by chatting and lusting after fabric (although I managed to restrain myself… unlike others!) and didn’t take many pictures! Afterwards we headed to Fed Square for some sustenance and good (sewing related) conversation…

It was great fun and I have no doubt there will be future meet-ups and fabric shopping excursions. The best part was ‘discovering’ some new and very local blogs to watch!

Rachel from Boo Dog and Me (the organiser extraordinaire)
TJ from The Perfect Nose (she’s just as funny in real life as in blogland)
Leith from Sew Brunswick (Like Rachel, totally taller than I expected!)
Helen from Funk Bunny’s Garden
Kat from All the Whimsical Things
Christy from Little Betty
Rachel from The Two Windmills
Kirsty from RocketSews
Belle from BellaCollectanea 
Sarah from SewSquirrel (and queen of the Renfrew)
Rachel from MyMessings (purveyor of the most amazing pink and grey Minoru)
Robyn from Sew Love Red
Lara from Thornberry

There was also Catherine, Anna, Sue and Heather. Quite a few of the more diligent photo takers (Kat caught the mood and fabric frivolities and TJ got some seriously cute scottish dude to get a few snaps of us at Fed Square) have some great shots up. Kudos to them!

Now, a few months back I made a bit of a pledge to myself – not to buy any new fabric until I’d made a more significant dent in the stash I currently have. Excepting of course, this little excursion, and a VIP night I went to at D’Italia back on the 8th of August. Yeah, I’ve kinda failed at that already (I bought some swimsuit fabric from EmmaOneSock) but surely I can hold out for the rest of the year?

On returning home, I thought it might be nice to go through my hoard and remind myself of the projects that inspired my stash enhancement purchases in the first place, you know – a bit of retrospective motivation…

Like this gorgeously minty green boucle that I scored in a 50% sale (woot!!), from my new favourite friends at Stitches to Style. There’s only one thing this could be – a Chanel style Jacket! Vogue 8804 is GO. Or at least it will be, hopefully sometime soon…

At that fabulous OOP sale on the Vogue McCalls website a while back, I snapped up a whole stack of patterns I’d been wanting… but not bad enough to pay full price for them ;) Enter McCalls 5929. This fabric – a blue and white abstract print cotton/silk voile (from Emma One Sock) is bound to be a button-up shirt. Now I know I can use the buttonhole foot on my machine, there’s nothing stopping me – except mastering plackets of course!

If you’re a follower of Erica B’s DIY style, you would have seen this ripper of a dress made from McCall’s 6460. Like the sheep I am, I bought that pattern on impulse pretty much immediately after seeing her post. And ever since, I’ve been seeing dress after dress in shop windows with a lace overlay. Gorgeous Fabrics delivered, and I’m planning to dye this currently-cream lace another colour. Summer dress, sorted. But – sleeves or no sleeves?

And this. You will be seeing this very VERY soon. If you haven’t guessed what this will be already then I’m not going to spill the beans. But it’s lace, it’s French, and we fell in love and ran away together. Did I mention that the Stitches to Style ladies know me by name now?

Mmmmm… silk crepe sherbert-coloured confection. I’m intending them to turn into an entirely edible version of Vogue 1192, which I’ve had my eye on ever since I pinned this dress a while back. Although 1192 has some terrible reviews on PR… so maybe I need to rethink that one. Butterick 5672 may have to come to the rescue. Or Leith of Sew Brunswick did an lovely rendition of New Look 6000

Those silk fabrics (along with another silk chiffon you can see me holding below and a wool/cashmere blend fabric destined to be a suit) was bought at D’Italia‘s VIP night back at the start of August, to celebrate their 10th Birthday. It was a fabulous way to spend an evening – they had champagne, nibbles and a guy playing classical guitar. More pictures here! Recognise my jacket? :)

And then, there’s the two fabrics I picked up in Tessuti whilst hanging out with the Melbourne Sewing Scene. They don’t appear to be very interesting at first… but this textured white cotton and latte coloured knit will be spun into something a bit special for every day wear come summertime.

Time to get sewing!!

V8333: A Sucker for Punishment

Long and laborious – the two words perfect to describe the time and effort going into completing this jacket via Clare Shaeffer’s couture instructions. But having just come off the back of completing a coat, I’m clearly a sucker for punishment!

I’ve left this project on the back burner since early June, mainly because my Baby-its-cold-outside coat took precedence (it being winter here and all), but also because I heard whisperings of Pattern Review having a lined jacket competition this August. I do love a competition! So I toiled, fitted, had buttons covered, hoarded notions and practised my hand sewing until the start date was confirmed. 

Kicking off on the first of August I was lucky enough to have a relatively free weekend to get started. I did have a pesky exam last week for my post-grad studies, but now that’s over an done with I’m going to have to muster all the sewing effort I can to get this done. With two weeks to go, progress is moving along swiftly. So it might not be as much of a rush to get it done in time as I originally thought.

I’ve been doing something a bit out of the ordinary – following the instructions… to the letter! Mostly because I want to get the most out of Claire Shaeffer’s couture tips, but also because after having to think hard about how to put my previous sewing project together I wanted to not have to think, ya’know?

I hate to admit it, but I think I’m significantly more efficient because I am following the instructions. When I complete one task, I tick it off and immediately start on the next one, rather than getting distracted daydreaming about it being finished and trying to conjure up which thing I could do next, checking my blogroll or admiring my fabric stash. For me, sewing without instructions always ends up being like one of those Choose Your Own Adventure books, where I always seemed to die every time I made the next choice, so I’d have to go back and try a different decision route. It was a time consuming and not very satisfying way to read a story (this is where the tenuous connection with sewing comes in). Did anyone actually ever read one of those and NOT die?

Anyway! Here are some under construction photos of developments to date…

Having previously looked at thimbles and been suspicious of why one would ever need such a thing, I now understand them. My poor middle finger (and thumb to a lesser extent) has been bruised and battered with all the hand sewing. And this photo is of my finger more than a week after most of the damage (it would have been a bit too gruesome to show the fresh wounds). 

Are you an instruction follower? 
Happy Friday everyone :)

Inspired: Eva Franco’s Lemon Amour Dress

Eva Franco – Lemon Amour Dress

I’ve fallen in love – with this dress by Eva Franco, from her Resort 2012 range. In fact, to steal an acronym coined by the lovely Julia Bobbin, I’ve come down with a heavy case of LOADS (lust over a dress shock). Being in the southern hemisphere means we’re generally 2 seasons behind being able to jump on the ‘latest thing’, so I’ve been desperately waiting for some warmer weather (about 6 months now) so I can copy this dress!

Along the way I’ve discovered that the white gauzy detailing at the front is called ’embroidered soutache’ – literally a sheer mesh with some kind of thread embroidered detailing. I’ve even bought two different types of it, one black on black mesh, the other an earthy mocha mesh and periwinkle blue embroidery.

September marks my birthday month, and whilst it’s not a major milestone (that’s next year) I’d like to make something special for the fancy dinner out I know Mr poppykettle has not-so-secretly organised for that particular weekend. I also have a wedding the weekend before my birthday for one of my very good friends – so I’m planning for this dress to carry me through both occasions :)

What I love is that it’s equal parts gorgeous and simple – I’m seeing a bateau neck princess seamed bodice with a lace applique, a grosgrain ribbon belt and a pleated skirt. So I’ve been doing a bit of background research into what’s required for pleating and who can do it for me.

Whilst you can successfully pleat natural fibres like silk using heat treatment, pleating will ‘hold’ for longer and with less care required when using synthetics (as is, they’ll hold better in rain and high humidity). The only fabric that’s not an option for pleating is Nylon – it has a low melt temperature so wouldn’t survive the oven experience. 

There’s a fabulous article on Threads Magazine online about pleats (you can read this here) but I also came across International Pleaters (if you’re lucky enough to live in New York) which is a great site with heaps of info on pleating types and effects. I really love the look of the pleated skirt made from striped fabric – if this experiment is successful I might try something like this later down the line!

I visited The House of Franke Stuart in Glenferrie for fabric to match my embroidered soutache – I was informed it was the supplier of choice by many mother of the brides back in the 90’s when MOTB’s wore a ‘uniform’ of a pleated skirt and matching jacket. How Droll!

Franke Stuart certainly didn’t disappoint – I went in there with the lace and my colour wheel and was greeted with a wall of delustred polyester satin’s in almost every hue and weight imaginable. Lets not even talk about the rainbow range of georgettes, dupion, duchess silks, incredible and unusual laces and lace trims available here. This appears to be THE place to go to if you’re after an after 5 frock! I had to keep looking around for the disco ball, but turns out it was just the large number of engagement rings in close proximity causing the light to refract onto the walls. I think I actually looked a little odd being there on my own as obviously each engagement ring owner was surrounded by a gaggle of girlfriends, picking out fabric for wedding and bridesmaid dresses alike. Mr Stuart himself was even roaming the floors – an elderly gentleman dressed to the nines, naturally :) 

So now I have the fabric to match the lace, all that needs to be sorted is the pleating. A quick internet search and I was calling Specialty Pleaters (in Kensington, Melbourne) to see about recreating the skirt. They were very helpful and the pleating process was surprisingly a lot less expensive than I thought. There are a myriad of different types of pleats to choose from, but the two contenders for this dress are:

THE SUNRAY PLEAT – made famous by this dress worn by Marilyn Monroe, it goes from a single point at the centre of the body and flares out. Basically – your standard circle skirt:

Black Sunray Pleat Skirt, from Vintage Vanity

THE ACCORDION PLEAT – an older style of pleat in the shape of a V, which seems to be popping up everywhere online, in shops and on pinterest at the moment:

via LifeInMyLittleBubble

You can read more about all the different pleat types on this fabulous resource by NZ Pleaters.

Based on the pictures of Eva Franco’s dress – I’m thinking it’s more a sunray pleat than an accordion pleat – which do you think?

A quick bit of housekeeping – I’m in the process of moving all the blogs I follow across to Bloglovin. I’m finding Blogger’s blog roll to be more than a bit of a pain (perhaps I just follow too many blogs!) so if you see me disappear from your follower list over the next few days – never fear! I’m still stalking you (in the most normal and socially acceptable kind of way) :P