Combine fabrics, embellish

Posted November 2, 2013 by sewingplums
Categories: current fashion, personal style

The first ‘avant garde’ post was about architectural shapes.
This post is about adding interesting and unique design elements using all the possibilities of textile surface art – combining fabrics and adding texture and embellishment.

There are so many options for creativity. This post has these sections :
– patterns with basic shapes for fabric combining and embellishment.
– embellishment techniques.
– multi-fabric combining :
. . . different main pattern pieces in different fabrics.
. . . fabric combining in patchwork and other shapes.
– high fashion in ‘artistic’ colours and prints.

There’s many exciting and inspiring ‘art to wear’ sites and blogs, this is just a short guide to a few starting points.
And sorry, just some suggested links. Lots of attractive images if you follow up the links, but I haven’t included many visuals here. I wouldn’t know where to stop :D

– – –

Basic garments for embellishment

There are several patterns with simple shapes specifically for adding your own fabric combination or embellishment.

Fit for Art Tabula Rasa jacket (includes help with fit, other patterns for style changes)

Yvonne Porcella Jacket from The Sewing Workshop (simplest shape, terrible instructions) (gallery here).
There’s also a pdf guide to embellishment for it (not free).

Kayla Kennington has patterns built from rectangles. Her site is not active at present, but her patterns are available from sewingpatterns.com.

Or decorate the simple shapes of peasant workwear such as from Folkwear patterns.

If you just like doing the embellishment without doing the garment construction, use basic existing garments (such as from BlankApparel.com). Though that isn’t a way of getting interesting garment shapes.

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Embellishment Techniques

Many many internet sources of advice on :
– fabric painting, dying, stencilling, stamping, foiling. . .
– hand and machine embroidery, appliqué, texturising, couching, beading, heirloom stitching . . .
– plus sources for delicious ribbons, motifs, trims. . .
And dozens of books too.
Sorry I’m not going to attempt to pick out the good ones !

Perhaps work through a CD by Marcy Tilton on Surface Design, or her many on-line tutorials.

Several Craftsy classes to try :
Decorative seams
Edge finishes
Creative closures
Sewn texture
Stupendous Stitching
Machine embroidery, hand-stitched looks
Hand embellishing knit fabric
Designing details – pockets

Several McCall’s patterns for making fabric flowers.

Here’s a pdf from Shirley Adams of Alternatives for making multiple different shells using different decorative techniques.

Multiple fabric combinations within one garment

This is the current ‘multi-media’ approach to clothes.

See the Style.com Fall 2013 trend reports Crazy Fur section (click on right centre photo) for designer inspiration on using fur, some in combinations.
and Style.com Spring 2013 trend reports Collage Degree section (click on left centre photo) for designer inspiration on combining patterned fabrics.

I love combining fabrics in a quilt, but find it much more difficult in clothes.
Easiest to use fabrics from quilt fabric designers, which are issued in groups of prints specifically designed to co-ordinate.

Whole pattern pieces

The most seen ‘high-street fashion’ multi-fabric look is to have whole pattern pieces in different fabrics, especially in princess seam styles. Many Big4 and Burda patterns in which this is done quite simply, with solids in ‘colour blocking’. ‘Texture blocking’ or ‘multi-media’ print combining are the newest idea.

At the extreme, if you add a CB seam and a waist seam to a princess seam jacket, you’ll have 16 different fabric areas to play with in the body alone. Then add on more fabrics for sleeves, collar, facings :D

Try these sources for more casual patterns in this style :
Design and Planning Concepts
Indygo Junction
Serendipity Studio

Patchwork and other fabric shapes

If you love piecing and quilting, there’s plenty of fashion inspiration for using smaller areas of each fabric too.

There’s a Craftsy class on making a Quilted jacket

And there are many independent pattern designers who provide patterns for ‘wearable art’ pieced and quilted garments. These are just some of them.
Dana Marie
Grainline Gear
Lorraine Torrence Designs
Pavelka Design (sewing patterns link at bottom of page)
Rag Merchant
Taylor Made Designs

Here are a couple of examples.

Silhouette 4013 dress for knits.

”silhouette4013”

McCall’s 6712 top and circular skirt.

”m8712”

The king of print combination is Koos van den Akker at Vogue.
Here’s a slide show of his styles to click through.

– – –

‘Artistic’ high fashion

There’s another route, for people who aren’t so interested in architectural shapes and embellishment.

And that is to wear high fashion shapes in strong prints and strong colours.
YouLookFab gives an example here, from one of those style bloggers who appears to have an unlimited clothing budget.

As in the combining of contrasting prints and textures (see my post with an example), this requires a gifted artistic eye.
There’s a good article on mixing prints and textures here. [Ignore their Style Personality quiz, which only has one style.]

Note there’s no combining of colours or prints within one garment. They’re dramatically combined from separate garments.
But it is a rather different approach to wardrobe building than wearing a couple of neutrals and one accent colour with one quiet print :D

Lots of attractive and dramatic prints around. But take care if you have low contrast colouring or a quieter personality – perhaps these fabrics will swamp your own looks. It is possible to choose prints, textures, colours which ensure people look at you, not the fabric !

– – –

I grinned while pulling this list together. I delight in all clothes. But the styles I actually wear myself are a bit like this – though very quiet versions !

I’m definitely a follower not an innovator in this area, but I’m fascinated by all the possibilities.
I’m particularly entranced by an old set I have from Lois Ericson, which has stencils and machine embroidery software for the same shapes. Almost infinite potential.

– – –

If you love this sort of jacket, enjoy being at the forefront of fashion this season :D

There’s so much rich creativity available for clothes making. If this is your style I’m sure you have your own sources of delight and inspiration.

Do you show your personal style in the jacket shapes you choose ? This season there are quiet or striking versions of :
– tailored blazer,
– drapey or curvy shapes,
– assertive edgy shapes of bomber/ biker/ military,
– architectural shapes.

Or do you prefer simple shapes but delight in the bold or subtle combination of colour, print, texture, embellishment ? There’s a huge range – from overwhelming, challenging, sublime through to modest in scope.

No end to the delicious possibilities :D
Apart from the pleasures of looking at all this – when it comes to what you wear yourself, which makes you feel most happy, comfortable with and true to yourself :D

– – –

Patterns and links available November 2013

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Stylish fleeces and hoodies

Posted October 26, 2013 by sewingplums
Categories: current fashion, personal style

I seem to have been going through a phase where I disagree with everything said by stylists.
Ah well, perhaps it’s a test that I’m clear about my own style.

A style book I looked at recently (Wardrobe Secrets by Emily Neill) said there are no rules about what to wear, except you must never wear a turtle (polo) neck, and it’s good to wear a V-neck.
Oh dear, I feel the cold and with my long neck and long head, I think I look much better in a turtle neck. And I haven’t worn a classic V-neck since school uniform – with my face shape and flat chest they don’t look anywhere near the best I can be.

And Imogen Lamport of Inside-Out Style has a couple of recent posts in which she appears to be anti-fleece and anti-hoodie.

Oh. Hmm. No doubt I’m over-reacting, but there seem to be several sub-texts here :
– that it’s impossible to look stylish and trendy in a fleece or hoodie,
– that everyone wants to look stylish and trendy,
– and that it’s impossible to look stylish and trendy when wearing protective winter outerwear.
(The people who buy Chanel ski jackets would be surprised to hear that :D There’s even a Lands End ‘down to -40 degrees C’ padded jacket in the style worn by all the trendy girls round here.)

Well of course that set me off on a whole lot of trains of thought. Happily there are many recent patterns for ‘Easy Luxe’ elegant fleeces and hoodies.

– – –

Stylish hoodies

McCall’s 6444

”m6444”

Butterick 5791 (includes elastic waist pants)

”b5791”

Vogue 8854.

”v8854”

McCall’s 6603

”m6603”

McCall’s 6849

”m6849”

(Or shorten this dress, Vogue 8806.)

– – –

Stylish fleeces

Some new patterns could be cosy and comfortable in fleece, yet look ‘stylish’ rather than ‘sporty’ (Though why not look sporty-casual if you want to – there are plenty of new patterns. It’s a very popular look round here.)

McCall’s 6658

”m6658”

Vogue 8924

”v8924”

Butterick 5961 by Katherine Tilton

”b5961”

Simplicity 1543 by Patty Reed

”s1543”

Butterick 5816 is said to be for light fabrics. But it was a summer pattern issue, and I think it could work well in warm fabrics too. (Pattern info doesn’t mention using 2 fabrics, very trendy but not clear that there are instructions for it.)

”b5816”

– – –

Well, this is obviously a topic close to my heart, as I keep returning to it.
See my previous posts on
fleeces and hoodies
and on the vague borderline between ultra-casual and loungewear styles.

Hurrah, lots of options for those of us who love ‘Easy Luxe’ :D

And here’s YouLookFab on wearing a hoodie with a blazer – she definitely doesn’t think a hoodies are not for the stylish :D

– – –

Patterns and links available October 2013

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Shirt sewalongs

Posted October 19, 2013 by sewingplums
Categories: sewing technique

Many people feel making a shirt is a step too far beyond sewing a top or blouse.
But there’s a good variety of support available, so it can be worth going for !

These are sew alongs which give detailed extra guidance to supplement the shirt pattern instructions.
I’ve chosen to focus on ones which include a band collar. (The word’ shirt’ is a bit ambiguous, and there are many shirt patterns which don’t have a 2-piece collar.)
Some of the sewalongs, but not all, also include a classic ‘steeple’ shirt sleeve placket.

The free written tutorials are linked to specific patterns.
But most of the on-line videos and DVDs are not pattern specific, though they make pattern recommendations.

The classic shirt has such standard features that the Big 4 pattern companies all have several basic shirt patterns for women.

Kwik Sew are particularly known for their men’s shirt patterns.
This is Kwik Sew 3883.

”ks3883”

As usual, I haven’t read or watched through all of these sewalongs, let alone worked through them – so no guarantee about quality !

– – –

On-line free written tutorials with photos

Wiksten Tova

”wiksten-tova”

This isn’t a shirt, but it has a collar band, so I’ve included it here.
Easier than making a two piece collar – perhaps a good starter piece ?!

pattern download

sewalong from verykerryberry.

Grainline Archer

”grainline-archer”

(Those back gathers are optional !)

pattern download

sewalong
days 1-5
days 6-14

There’s even a ‘chat and encouragement’ group at Pattern Review, for people who promised to sew one of these a month for a year !

Colette Patterns Negroni for men

”colette-negroni”

pattern

Oh, this pattern doesn’t actually include a collar stand, ah well. . .

sew along from Peter Lappin of Male Pattern Boldness
page 1 of posts
page 2 of posts

This pattern was one of the challenges in the Super Online Sewing Match.
Here are the Entries, which all show creative options (one of them added a collar band, which is what confused me !).

– – –

On-line videos (not free)

Craftsy

The Classic Tailored shirt class by Pam Howard

Suggested patterns for men and women in Lesson 2

class here

eSewing Workshop

They use their own pattern draft for the shirt, but you could use many other patterns.

bodice drafting
sleeve drafting

Shirt Sewing sewalong

The Sewing Guru

the Gent’s shirt video collection
Collection 9

[There isn’t much open access information at The Sewing Guru site, but you can sign on free for 2 days and have a look round. It’s easy to cancel from a PayPal account. Tailor’s methods.]

Instructions also apply to making a woman’s shirt.

– – –

DVDs

Palmer-Pletsch

The latest version of the Palmer-Pletsch unisex shirt pattern is McCall’s 6613, with sleeve, hem, pocket options.

”m6613”

sewalong in ‘Learning to Sew a Shirt or Blouse‘ DVD

You Can Make It

Level 6 of their sewing course.
The course is cumulative, Level 6 is not stand-alone, it assumes you know all the skills taught in previous levels.

sewalong : Level 6 teaching DVD (scroll down).

– – –

Would you like this sort of extra help with the instructions while you make any of these patterns :D

Feel more confident that You Can Indeed Make A Shirt :D

– – –

Patterns and links available October 2013

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Ease levels

Posted October 12, 2013 by sewingplums
Categories: fit of clothes

After those voluminous architectural jackets, perhaps this is a good time to talk about ease levels !
Ease is the difference between the body measurement and the finished garment measurement at the point of interest. (Finished measures sometimes on the pattern envelope, usually on the tissue.)

For example, if your bust measures 36 in, and the finished garment measure at bust level is 38 in. then the bust level ease is :
38 – 36 = 2 in.

In practice the amount of ease is a surprisingly complex matter, as it depends on ease of movement, stretchiness of fabric, personal preferences, layering, and design.

I’m always wanting to check ease levels, and never seem to find my version of the BMV patterns ease level chart, which I always need to adapt anyway, so here are some comments.

The original BMV ease table is here .

Some of us are not a RTW shape and have to buy garments which are huge in most places, just to be able to move without tearing the buttons off in our largest area. . .
Hopefully when we can make our own clothes, we can learn enough about fitting and pattern alteration to get round that problem.

– – –

Types of ease

Ease is not a simple matter of a few easy rules, as there are different types of ease for different purposes, as well as personal preferences to take into account.

There are 4 sorts of ease :

Negative ease

Garments made out of very stretchy fabrics, such as lycra leotards, may actually be made smaller than the body.
In these modern days of many stretch fabrics with different properties, pattern making books provide several different basic pattern blocks for fabrics with different amounts of stretch.

Movement ease

The minimum ease needed to be able to move.
For example, if you wore a skin tight garment in a non-stretch fabric, you wouldn’t be able to breathe.

The amount of movement ease needed depends on the amount of stretch in the fabric.
And people differ in their preferences.
Some people want to look sleek, and are happy to go without being able to move easily, to get the effect they want.
As in wearing a party dress which is too tight to sit down in. . .

In a close fitting jacket, with less than 2 inches of ease, you may not be able lift your arms easily above about 45 degrees.
So people who like freedom of movement often prefer 4 inches or more of ease in a jacket.
Most casual garments are made with more than minimum ease.

One of the problems with getting a good pants pattern is that they have both to look good while standing and feel comfortable when bending over or sitting.

There’s all sorts of specialist information available for particular sports, about the different areas of a garment where special ease is needed.

Layering ease

Here’s a diagram of the different levels of ease, adapted from the BMV table.

”ease-scale-sharpen”

This is an ease scale for non-stretch wovens.

CF . . . close fitting
F . . . . fitted
SF . . . semi-fitted
LF . . . loose fitted
VLF . . very loose fitting

Each level of ease assumes you want the garment to fit over the next one down : coat over jacket over blouse.
Though these days things are not quite so simple.

Jackets

The BMV ease table says jackets are not made close fitting.
But I know at least one pattern making book where the jackets are made from the same block as the dress.
Which means there’s not room for more than a camisole under, and minimum movement ease.
Say 2 in./ 5 cm. Perhaps less if the jacket is the focus of your outfit and always worn closed.

A jacket needs to be at least 1 inch larger than what it’s layered over, if it’s going to be worn as a layer over a blouse or shirt.
A lined jacket is often made 1 in. larger than an unlined one, for the same reason.
Then add at least 1 inch more, for each additional layer.

For layering a lined jacket over a sleeved shirt/ blouse, many people prefer at least 4 in / 10 cm. Especially in winter for more layering.

And also beware ease of sleeves. Fitted jacket pattern sleeves need to be checked. Many of them assume you’ll be wearing it over only a camisole or tank. So armhole and sleeve are not large enough to be worn comfortably over another garment with sleeves.

When you have a well-fitting jacket pattern, you may find you can wear a closer fit and still be comfortable. It’s a matter of personal preference and the usual clothes you wear a jacket over.
I need many layers for warmth, like to move easily, and am not close to a RTW shape, so most of my jackets are very loose fitting.

Coats

A bit bigger than jackets, as they’re usually designed to layer over a jacket.
The diagram has the coat ease levels BMV recommend for wearing over a jacket.

The BMV ease table says coats are not made close fitting.
But I have one coat pattern from them with ease of only 2 inches, obviously intended to be worn only over a top without a jacket.
So again, check finished measurements of a coat pattern to make sure you will be able to wear it in the way you expect.

Also the suggested ease levels assume the coat is worn over a jacket at the same level of fit.
For example, a fitted coat wouldn’t be comfortable over a very loose fitting jacket. There just wouldn’t be room inside the coat for all the extra fabric.

Design ease

The ease added by the designer to give the desired silhouette.
For example the 80s – 90s are famous for their huge shoulders and very loose fit.

For the last decade or so, fitted or close fitted has been the norm.
In recent seasons a ‘slouchy’ look has appeared – very loose fit has returned but without the huge shoulder pads supporting it.

– – –

Hip level ease

The main recommendations are for ease at bust level.

Hip level ease applies mainly for skirt, pants, shorts, culottes.
But also applies to the hip level of dresses, long jackets, coats.

On close fitted and fitted and semi-fitted styles, there’s often one inch less ease at hip level.
For example, if the bust level ease is 3 in. then the hip level ease is 2 in.

But allow for your personal needs.
For example, as my hips spread 4 inches when I sit down, I make sure there is at least that amount of ease at hip level.

On loose and very loose fitting styles, the finished garment measurements are often straight up-and-down. Hip level is often the same as the finished garment measure at the bust level.
But as the ease at bust level is more than 8 inches on these loose garments, that’s usually no great problem – unless your hips are 3 or more sizes larger than your bust.

– – –

This is all very dry. Ease is not a simple matter, but it is useful to understand how ease works and what your preferences are.

– – –

Link available October 2013

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