Friday, November 18, 2016

Working On The Duster Trail...with New Look

The image in my head for the last six years.
In 2010, decided to make a duster coat to enhance my professional wardrobe and wrote about my goal here. I even tried to muslin the coat at the time. If you remember (HAH, I barely remember, it was 6 years ago!), my original pattern choice of Vogue 7714 was much too large for me, even after coming down a few sizes. The photograph of the view I wanted was extremely misleading (though you could see the truth in the others) and the actual wearing ease on that pattern was ridiculous! It was so large that I was able to reuse and cut another pattern out of those same muslin pieces! I needed some more fabric only because the new pattern had two back pieces instead of one. I tried it on and it looked good even though the bust darts were in a very awkward position.

I really liked that pattern, New Look 6656, and every 5 months or so, I would try it on again and still be happy. However, I could never get myself motivated to cut it out of my final fabric, a polka dot moleskin, which I think over time developed mythic status in my stash. In the mean time, I gained weight and inches and that muslin became no longer relevant.

So, just a few weeks ago I cut that old pattern New Look 6656 and another new option, New Look 6270, out of a queen size sheet with the goal of completely finishing the duster THIS year.

The illustrations above (an altered New Look 6656 sketch) are what I wanted the final garment to look like and include the must-have details: an a-line shape, collarless, no closures, bust darts, waist definition, a back seam for sway-back shaping, and a length about 30-32" from base of the neck.

Each of these two patterns more or less had these details but the shaping of some elements were different (like the side and back seams) and that was the reason I needed to make them both up to see which would work better.

In both patterns, the front armholes were identical and the sleeve pieces had the same general shape and cap height.Though both patterns had back seams they had some room added to the upper back that seemed to allow for a slight dowager's hump. If anything, my back would require a straighter line there. Perhaps my posture is more erect than the average woman because both muslins bagged out unattractively in that area when sewn up as designed.

New Look 6270 was shown on the pattern cover in a sheer fabric; therefore, the picture was not a good indicator of its suitability for my fabric, a more substantial moleskin print. Using the printed pattern measurements I cut it first as size 16 all-over, eventually coming back to reducing everything above the waist to a size 14. Even then, the front and back were extremely wide. In fact, the front lapels overlapped by inches when there was no overlap intended in the design.

To see video of this jacket in motion, check here on my Instagram.

As you can see, altering this pattern to fit my goal of a sleek jacket would have been too much of a job. I'm still a fan of the maxi-dress in the pattern so I hope its sizing and ease will be more accurate.

New Look 6656 had a more structured design allowing for facings; however, the illustration made the shoulders seem like they might be too wide. I cut this one in size 14 at the shoulders moving out to a size 18 at hips. Comparing the pattern pieces, New Look 6656 was more nipped in under the bust; however, like 6270 it also allowed for a strange protrusion at the upper back (see at right). I cut that off leaving the back straight above the slight swayback shaping. I found the back neckline uncomfortably high on my neck so also ended up cutting the neckline and facings in a size 12.

To see video of this jacket muslin in motion, check here on my Instagram.

This muslin in motion* fit much better, I found the shoulders fine, the back was not too wide and there was adequate ease for the hips and bum. The sleeves for this design were meant to be cropped or otherwise extended with a contrasting cuff. I added the cuff to the main sleeve pattern piece and cut my sleeve out at full length.

As you can see, the muslin worked out beautifully and matches the shape of the inspiration garment shown below by Calvin Klein.
Calvin Klein colorblock jacket
I can't wait to cut my long-stashed fabric and sew this beauty up. It's been a long time coming!

*I was trying this on during the last week of the Presidential campaign and as my father filmed me we could not miss how much this jacket resembled the similar ones worn by Hillary Clinton. Sigh.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Pants: I don't need Gene Kelly to be happy...

I remember when I was a kid that on almost any day you could view an old black & white movie. Sometimes it would be a musical starring Gene Kelly (Brigadoon, An American in Paris, etc.) or a dramatic classic like The Strange Love of Martha Ivers or The Lady Eve with Barbara Stanwyck. There was somewhere in these films that I could disappear into...a world where men wore suits the majority of the time and women coordinated their shoes with their bags and hats.

Dancing and Singing In The Rain!
Today, give me a man wearing a crew-cut or high v-neck sweater with a white t-shirt and flat front or pleated tapered pants with a deep break at the wingtips (which he will also wear) and I'll be in love.

If he can dance, all the better.

When I was in college, I wanted those pants for myself and slapped inspiration pics in my fashion scrapbook:

Images I saved from an old Tweeds catalog. Remember Tweeds?

Nowadays, pants such as these can still be found at this cool company, Old Town of Norfolk in the UK. Their design philosophy is described as "simplicity and restraint with minimal styling" however, I feel these have more style than many pants produced today.

and Denes No. 5s for women!

Unfortunately, their pants are not cheap, as they are made to order from your true measurements in 4 to 6 weeks. In fact, you visit their adorable showroom, try on the styles to get an idea of the fit, and then select your fabric and color by use of fabric swatches, and then wait. No fast fashion here! You are paying for the well-done work and in addition, there is shipping if you live outside of the UK.

Another popular British-based company,  Merchant & Mills, seemed to have taken notice of this older established company. They are now selling the type of textiles and notions that Old Town might use in their completed makes. Though they are also producing sewing patterns that look to follow this industrial utility aesthetic, at the moment their designs are more minimalist in design details.

I hope that either they or another company will start producing patterns with more industrial age details like brace buttons (for suspenders), buttoning cross pockets, waist adjustment toggles, and button flies that make up the Old Town designs.  It will then be up to us, the makers, to construct them out of durable and hardworking fabrics such as heavy cotton drill, canvas, moleskin, corduroy, and 12 oz. denim.
Well...I can hope!
Jaywick Smock Dress
 Oh, but back to Old Town, they also have great dresses!

Images: Source unknown; my personal photo; the Old Town website.