Thursday, March 28, 2019

Lonetree Jacket and a new fitting issue

I sewed myself a jacket.  I sewed a jacket because I needed a jacket.  I sewed a jacket instead of buying one because I generally find RTW jackets to be tight in the arms and too big in the shoulders, and, just for once, I wanted a jacket that actually fit me well.  I think I succeeded, and I need to tell you all about it.  So settle in, because this is going to be a long post.

I made the Lonetree Jacket from Indiesew using this organic cotton twill from Mood. It is the second completed item from my Make Nine and I am SO happy with it.

I spent a lot of time planning this jacket, some more time procrastinating on starting it, and then about 20 hours actually assembling it over a period of two weeks.  It is definitely the most involved project I've made to date. There are so many pattern pieces, and so many of those pieces need to be interfaced and/or edge-finished before you can even start putting them together.

But before that, I had to do some fitting work. I recently acquired The Complete Guide to Fitting, and so I decided to skip the muslin in favor of the book's tissue-fitting method.

Originally, I traced off a size M graded to an XL waist/hip for my 36.5 (high bust)-41-32-42 self.  I did a 5/8" high round back adjustment and a 1" FBA, and then pinned and tried on my pattern.  Whomp whomp. It was too small.  I went back and looked at the finished measurement chart, to which I guess I hadn't paid enough attention before. It was clear that I had chosen the wrong size - and not done a large enough FBA to boot.  Sigh.  I gritted my teeth and retraced the approximately 18,000 pattern pieces.

On the second-go-round, I traced the size L with a 1.5" FBA to give me a total 4" of ease in the bust. I graded the back piece to the XL from the waist down, and kept the additional width that my FBA gave me in the front (Note: I neglected to consider that this would alter the length of my drawstring casing too, and ended up having to recut those pieces during construction).

The tissue fitting indicated that the jacket fit, and the back neck seam appeared to be in the right place, so I skipped the high round back adjustment this time.  That was a mistake. You can see in the photo above that the hemline dips in the back - which I think indicates that I actually did need that adjustment. I don't know why it seemed in the tissue fitting that I did not need it.  Guess I should have made an actual muslin.

After my tissue fitting and measuring my arms, I decided to do a 1.5" full bicep adjustment on the size L sleeve.  I also used the largest size for the upper pockets and the lower pocket flaps, and I added an inch in length to the largest size of the lower pockets, to be sure my cell phone would fit.

I didn't follow the pattern markings for the pockets or the drawstring casing, but just decided where I wanted them after I sewed the bodice and sleeves together.

I decided to Hong-Kong-seam the inside of the jacket. I made bias binding out of the leftovers of the flannel voile that I used to make this shirt.  Unfortunately, when I went to attach my beautifully bound front facings, I realized that I had accidentally cut them in the size M that I had originally traced off, instead of the L that I was actually going to sew. I had just enough fabric left to cut new facings but no more bias tape. At this point I was a good 18 hours into the 20 hours that I would spend on this project, and had zero motivation to make more bias tape.  So I serged the edges instead. It would be nicer if they were Hong Kong seamed as well, but I don't wear the jacket any less because the edges are overlocked.

Right after I attached my serged-edge facings, I noticed the folds in the sleeves.  I am sure that this issue presented itself in the (multiple) tissue fittings that I did of this jacket before sewing it.  But my eye just wasn't trained to look for/see it as a problem. It was only when I was nearly done with the jacket and tried it on, that suddenly all I could see was the fold twisting down from my mid-bicep around to my wrist. What the heck was that? Below you can see the photo I shared on IG mid-construction, with a pronounced fold on the sleeve.

The Complete Guide to Fitting suggested that I rotate the sleeve in the armscye until the wrinkles smoothed out. I tried that. It didn't really help. Then I thought maybe the sleeve was just too big (it was; I'm not sure why I did that bicep adjustment), so I took each sleeve in 1.25".  The sleeve fit better but the folds were still there. So then I took out some of the sleeve cap ease, thereby almost entirely undoing my full bicep adjustment. I pinned it back in.  It looked a bit better.  So I basted both sleeves in.  Argh, still folds!  I didn't know what else to do with it, so I went online and re-looked at the 200+ pictures of the Lonetree Jacket on IG and then decided to just let well enough alone.

Thanks to some input from Teri, I now think the folds are caused by an outwardly rotated elbow.  I've gone back and had a look at pretty much every garment I've ever sewn myself, only to find that I have this problem A LOT.  I've just never noticed it before.

Interestingly, most of the garments in which I did not have this problem are garments designed by Liesl Gibson (though the issue is present in the black Portfolio Dress above, which is from Liesl's old Simplicity range).  See below from left to right, the Late Lunch Tunic, the Gallery Tunic and the Traveler tunic - all fold-free, though they are also all closer-fitting sleeves than the above.  I will need to take a look at those sleeve pattern pieces as compared to the ones above.

But what I've also found is that these sleeve folds are very common in RTW - which makes sense because, if they are caused by an outwardly rotated elbow, they'll present whenever someone with that anatomical issue wears the garment. I browsed some online clothing retailers to see how their sleeves fit, and found that there are many, many photos of models with the exact same clothing folds. I would never have noticed any of these folds before making my Lonetree.

So, is it a fit issue that I am going to try to conquer in the future?  Absolutely.  Am I going to buy more fabric to make new sleeves for this jacket?  Probably not.  First of all, the fabric has relaxed a bit as I've been wearing it, and while the folds are still there, they are much less severe than when I first noticed them (I can barely even see them in these photos!).  And secondly, I am trying to adopt the attitude that "good enough is good enough," and not belabor minor fit issues in what are otherwise perfectly wearable garments.

And this is a perfectly wearable garment, as I've demonstrated by wearing it almost every single day since I finished it.

There are a couple of things I would do differently if I ever make this again (and I hope this jacket will last me years and years so that I won't have to):

1) The hood is a bit skimpy.  I did not tissue-fit it (and I'm not sure I would have noticed the issue if I had).  But I do have a large-ish head, and I find that the hood could use another inch or so in height as well as in depth.  As I don't usually wear it up, this is ok.  I self-lined the hood because I didn't want any visible contrast, but I think I would have preferred it to be slightly lighter.  As it is, the double thickness of cotton twill has a little too much body, but maybe it will loosen up with age.

2) I had trouble visualizing how the jacket was going to come together in the front. The pattern has you finish the center front bodice seam allowance before construction, and, as I thought those seam allowances would be visible, I finished them with bias tape.   In fact, this is the seam allowance that is directly underneath the zipper, so it was not an appropriate finish, and it adds a bit of bulk.

3) I really need a tailor's ham, a clapper and Wonder Clips.  I don't own any of these things and have never suffered for lack of them before, but I really could have used them during this project (and will be adding them all to my birthday wish list).  The clips in particular would have saved me about 20 bent pins.

Finally, I'm not sold on the black drawstring and cord stops, but I have a matching cord and antique gold cord stops on the way with the intention of switching them out.

And I think that's all I have to say about that. If you made it this far, you're a trooper! As always, thanks for reading, and see you next time.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Cupro Cropped Calyers

You guys, I'm really pretty excited about these pants.  They turned out almost exactly the way I planned/envisioned.  They go with a good chunk of my tops.  They represent an evolution in my style (I don't think there's any way I would have been caught dead in baggy, elastic-hem pants a few years ago).  And, they are the first finished item from my first-ever Make Nine.

These are the Calyer Pants from French Navy Now.  I tested the patter before its release about a year ago, and I wore my first version quite a lot during the spring and summer 2018.  But they were made of rayon challis, which I've learned isn't a sturdy enough fabric to withstand these thighs, and a few months ago, the fabric just gave out.  I've been plotting a new pair ever since.

Geeky fitting information: I am 5'8" and my current measurements are W33 H 43. These are an XXL with the front rise shortened 1.75" (it's quite long).  The pants initially came out far too big in the bum.  It was sag city back there.  So I took them apart and scooped out the back rise about 3/4".  I also took a wedge off the back inseam.  I'm not sure exactly how much I took out, but I think it was about 1-1.25" at the top of the inseam, tapering to nothing about 6" down.  I then took some of the length off the back inseam to deal with wrinkles I was having back there - maybe 3/4" - which made the front inseam longer than the back.  I eased the top 8" or so of the front inseam into the back inseam.  This helped quite a lot, but it wasn't the best fix.  What I really need is one of those horizontal fish-eye dart adjustments under the bum - but, sadly, these don't work so well after you've cut into your fashion fabric (trust me, I tried it, thinking maybe the seam wouldn't be so noticeable ... it was).

Sigh.  So they're not perfect.  But, happily, the back view of these pants looks much better in these photos than when I'm looking at my butt in the mirror. (And this never happens - I always think things look great until I see photos!)

After deciding that there were no further alterations I could try to de-sag the bottom of the pants, I pranced around in front of the mirror with the hems pinned up at different heights.  As drafted, the Calyers are full-length pants with no elastic.  I ended up shortening the pants about 3", and elasticized the hems to give them a bit more of a harem-pant feel.

This is a very nicely designed pattern.  I particularly love the pockets (and I'm not usually a pocket freak), and the topstitched inseams.  I just need to work out the fitting over my bum, and then I could see making another pair or two of these - maybe in a more colorful linen/viscose for the beach.

The fabric is 3 yards of Halston cupro/nylon/spandex twill (at least, that is what Fabric Mart said) - but I don't think there was actually any spandex in there).   I actually ordered 2.5 yards but got the end of the bolt.  Good thing, too, as I used the entire length of the yardage and only have a large scrap left.

I'm digging the casual, sandwashed fade of the fabric. It's very spongy, and drapey, and needed to be pressed quite firmly with high heat and steam through a press cloth before it would behave.

I don't think these pants will get that much wear in Bogota, sadly.  Although I was comfortable taking these photos on our terrace yesterday, 30 minutes later the temperature dropped and I had to get changed before taking the kids to story time and swim lessons. I changed from this outfit into jeans, boots, a knit top and a wool cardigan ... if that gives you any indication of the crazy daily temperature swings up here in the Andes.

But, as taking these photos has made me feel much better about the back view of these pants, I can't wait to take them on our next trip to warmer climes.  And that's about all I've got to say about this project.  As always, thanks for reading, and see you next time!

Friday, March 1, 2019

February 2019

This month we hit the half-year mark of our stay in Bogota.  We're a quarter of the way through and it still feels like we just got here.  And although I was thrilled at the thought of no winter when we moved, I'm finding the constant temperatures to be a little bit monotonous. Don't get me wrong; I prefer this to what's going on in much of the United States at the moment, weather-wise, but there's something weird about trying to teach my kindergartener about seasons through pictures instead of through experience!

I only completed two projects this month, but they were both pretty involved.