Tuxedo Bellatrix

Bellatrix Blazer - the tuxedo version
Bellatrix Blazer – the tuxedo version

Another Bellatrix Blazer finished!  What a shame Papercut Patterns aren’t participating in this month’s Sewing Indie Challenge, hosted all over, because I’d be entering this little number – for sure!

I’d almost finished it in the last post, it was just lacking a front facing & upper collar piece which I was going to cut from a black cotton stretch satin.  Before committing to the order online though, I had a quick rummage through my silks & satins stash box and I found a piece of black stretch satin – not strictly cotton either, but who cares!  By using this piece I tick off another stashbusting box and I get to finish the jacket over the weekend – bonus.

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I really do love the contrast of solid black on the collar, none of the other versions have contrasts on the outsides (insides are a different matter altogether!) so this makes it a little different.  The peplum pieces are all cut on the cross (weft) grain so the stripes are perpendicular to the rest of the jacket, this also means they have no stretch..  no matter, across the back the is great movement which is supported on the inside with a stretch lining.

Left: canvas interfacing to support under collar, top right: interfacing supporting the upper back & armholes, bottom right: pinning a seam for a perfect intersection
Left: canvas interfacing to support under collar, top right: interfacing supporting the upper back & armholes, bottom right: pinning a seam for a perfect intersection

I don’t like stretch linings, they feel funny but they do do a good job on a project like this.  As usual, the project went together really well, I used fusible canvas on the undercollar to give extra support, and used a lightweight fusible on the remaining pieces.  Now Daughter No2 just needs to decide what to wear it with when she goes to school next!

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Next I’ll show off the dress I cut at the same time as the jacket, yes, Daughter No1 came home quickly this long weekend & tried it on.  Thankfully it fits beautifully – and she loves it!  The boyfriend was suitable appreciative too…  😉

 

Something in the works

I left you with a little hint of what my next project was to be, a self drafted 50s inspired wiggle dress for Daughter No1.  The fabric is a John Kaldor print stretch cotton satin that is just absolutely fabulous to work with.  I’d bought it ages ago, so chalk this project up as a sash-buster!  It had always been intended for something for my eldest, but we never could agree what exactly to make.

Anyway, it’s done now, but I can’t show it to you properly just yet as she’s gone back to Uni!  I’m hoping we’ll see her & the boyfriend on Monday as it’s Bank Holiday in the UK & I fiugre we can do lunch or something & I can get her to model the dress for me (and you!)

Here’s what it looks like on a hanger.  Just the front, the back is something special.

Self drafted 50's inspired wiggle dress
Self drafted 50’s inspired wiggle dress

I can’t wait to see her in it!  🙂

While I was laying out the pattern, I happened to notice I had a bit left over.  I though about what I could use it for – a skirt?  Too short.  Shorts?  Not the right fabric.  *brain racing* A jacket???  I dugout my Bellatrix Blazer pattern – just to see.  I worked out that with careful placement, I could cut another Bellatrix!  🙂  So I did and this is what was left of the 2m of fabric once I’d chopped it all up.

Teeny tiny bits
Teeny tiny bits

It worked out really well, two garments from 2m of fabric, bonus!  I just didn’t have enough to cut the facing in the same fabric, so am awaiting delivery of a plain black stretch cotton satin. I decided to get cracking with it this morning so that when the black fabric does arrive it will be a quick job to finish.  Here’s how far I got by lunch time.

The jacket - sans sleeves at this point in the day
The jacket – sans sleeves at this point in the day

And by the time daughter no2 got home from school at 4 I’d finished the shell and made up the lining, as far as I could without the front facing and she just had to put it on!

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Without the facing, the canvas on the under collar makes a good contrast!

This is the 5th version.  I did think that I just might end up making 12, one for each month of this year!  Now that would be something, wouldn’t it??  😀

In the mean time, Me-Made-May ’14 is underway with so many cool outfits on show on twitter & flickr, not to mention the new Pinterest board!  Daughter no2 & I will be posting out photos on the Me-Made-May-14 page as well as on flickr.  She’s using Instagram too.  Are you participating?

 

How I fixed Bellatrix’s Sleeve

When I made my first Bellatrix back in January, all went fabulously well until I got to the part where you insert the sleeves into the armhole.  I don’t usually have an issue with this part, so wasn’t expecting anything major to happen, especially as the rest of the construction had passed without incident.  But – the sleeve head did not fit the armhole!

Usually you need to ease the head into the armhole, for practical purposes, you need fullness in that space for ease of arm movement.  The back fitted in just flat – no ease at all, but the front!  The front…  the sleeve head from the front notches to the top point/shoulder point was far too small.  I ended up having to stretch the sleeve to fit the armhole – not exactly the normal way to do this!

Not in the mood for massive adjustments, I simply cut  my next version (the Paris print cotton canvas) a little wider on the sleeve front.  It worked fairly well, mostly because the cotton canvas has some give.  I kept the same adjustment for the third Bellatrix, but as this was made using a wool/poly blend with no movement at all, it didn’t work.

I knew I’d have to do a better fix, so this is what I did.

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Measuring (l-r) depth of sleevehead, length of sleevehead seam, length of armscye (armhole)

First I measured the armscye of the jacket, front & back.  In the (adjusted for wider shoulders)  XXS this measurement is 45.6cm.  I compared this with the measurement of the sleevehead – 43.7cm.  Now there is the problem.  You cannot fit a sleeve into an armhole properly if the sleeve is 2cm smaller than the armscye!  It should be at least 2cm BIGGER!  Next I checked the sleevehead depth.  This is measured perpendicular from the underarm line to the top point of the sleeve, and should be one third of the armscye measurement.  Bellatrix is lacking 1cm in this department.

Now different pattern cutting books will give you differing amounts of ease they require for the drafting of the sleevehead, but in the end it all depends on the current fashion, and of course, the style of the garment.  This one obviously does not require masses of ease, we want a smooth fit.  Also, there are no shoulderpads, so we really don’t want to add too much or we’ll get floppy shoulders.

Raise the sleevehead by 1cm, redraw stitch line & add seam allowance
Raise the sleevehead by 1cm, redraw stitch line & add seam allowance

I started by raising the sleevehead the 1cm missing from the depth.  I drew a new line from the front notches to the new top point & back down the the back notches (green line in the photograph below).  This new line gave me a measurement of 45cm, still not enough.  But I didn’t want to make it too much bigger.  I tested this new sleeve & found the back was just fine, the little more added made for a more comfortable ease, but the front still needed work.

Alterations, colour coded
Alterations, colour coded

So I made a little more room (completely un-scientifically) in the front from notches to top point & it worked!  This new line is the red one in the photograph above.  Weirdly, the measurement of sleevehead & armscye are the same, but all fits properly.  I think its all down to the method used when drafting the original pattern.

This method may not work for you, please try it out on a toile before leaping feet first into some delicious fabric!  🙂

I thought I’d try draft a one-piece sleeve using Winnie Aldrich’s method & the jacket front & back pieces.  It came out way wider (almost 6cm) than Bellatrix’s, making it flatter overall, wider in the arm & much less flattering.  So I will stick with the now more pointy sleeve & see how I get on.

The completed, altered sleeve pattern
The completed, altered sleeve pattern

For now, this alteration seems to work for me.  I used it in the linen jacket & had a good, smooth insertion with no dragging, so what the heck.  It may not look like I expect it to, and it certainly doesn’t have the measurement I expected, but it goes in without fuss.  Until I try this with a fabric without give….

If you want to give this method a try, let me know whether or not it’s worked for you.

 

Sewing double – twice!

Bellatrix the Fourth
Bellatrix the Fourth

April for the Monthly Stitch sewists is “Sewing Double” month.  We all have those tried & tested patterns that we have no problem running up quickly, loving the fit, style, etc.  My favourite pattern this year just has to be Papercut Pattern’s Bellatrix Blazer.

This is the fourth incarnation – and most certainly will not be the last!  The fabric is a gorgeous pistachio-y green medium weight linen that was part of my haul at the Sewing for Pleasure 2 weeks ago at the NEC.  It was going to make a vintage bolero to go with an early 50s sundress I’m making but….  I miscalculated the conversion from yards to metres.  I bought 1m but should have got just 20cm more and it would have worked.  Never mind, as you can see, Daughter No2 is pretty pleased I cannot do Imperial to save my life.  As usual, she’s come out the winner!

DSC07857-1Only one problem, 1m is barely enough for Bellatrix.  I had to cut the sleeves on the cross-grain to fit them in & had to forgo the matching facing pieces on the peplum thingie.  I had toyed with the idea of doing some contrast fabric for the welt strips and the front that forms the outer collar, but it would have restricted the number of outfits Daughter No2 could have paired it with.

DSC07854-1The lining…  I did say at the end of the last post with those MAD trousers that the lining in the jacket would look familiar  🙂  I used almost the rest of the handpainted cotton for 90% of the lining for the jacket, the exception being the sleeves.  I dug out some left-over bremsilk for the sleeves.

DSC07859-1I used Gill Arnold‘s fine sheer polyester fusible on the linen peplum pieces, the front & facing front & on the back above the shoulder blades & into the armholes.  For extra structure on the shawl collar I used a fusible canvas, also from Gill.  If you’re going to use a stiff interfacing like this, make sure you remove the seam allowance – you do not want that bulk in your seam!

Interfacing , front & undercollar and the back
Interfacing , front & undercollar and the back

As usual, the whole thing went together really quickly, and..  I have fixed the sleevehead vs armhole issue!  YAY!  The answer (for me anyway) was to raise the sleevehead 1cm, keep more of the height on the front than the back, and merge the extra into the existing shape at the front & back notches.  I forgot to take a photo to show what I mean, but next time I’ll put up a picture.  This adjustment has now finally worked, the last time I didn’t leave enough height on the front, so it was still a little short when fitted into the armhole.

DSC07852-1The sleeve fits really well now, and there is plenty of movement without the drag lines that appeared on the previous versions.  So, there it is, four Bellatrix blazers since the start of the year.  I have some pinstripe cashmere blend wool that I think will be enough to make another – that can wait a little though, I have a feeling another couple of linen or cotton canvas blazers are lurking in my near future! How many times have you used one pattern?

DSC07858-1Three blazers

Three blazers

Clockwise, left to right: le Bellatrix Blazer français, Curtains for Bellatrix and Bellatrix III

I have another “sewing Double” project to be getting on with this month, so bye for now, I have silk chiffon to cut up!  🙂

Bellatrix III

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Yup, I’ve made another one!  I still haven’t quite got the sleevehead – armhole issue sorted, but it’s getting there.  So, how many of these will I actually make this year?  Who knows!  It’s really quick to make, looks fab & uses very little fabric (apart from the sleeves – how long are they!!)

I was tossing fabric out of one of my stash boxes on Tuesday after I’d finished my Jungle blouse to see what else I had for me.  I made two piles:  Daughter No1 & Daughter No2.  (I really should have dug in a different box)  One of the pieces in the Daughter No2 pile was a 1m piece of black wool & polyester mix with a grey stripe, making a windowpane design.  It was to have been made into a wiggle skirt, but her nose got this odd wrinkle when I offered it up.

Just off-hand I wondered how it would look as a Bellatrix Blazer.  I laid it out & attempted to place the pattern pieces, cheating ever so slightly by placing the sleeves on the cross grain – but it fit!  Sooo…  I cut it!  Overnight I remembered I had some turquoise & lime spotty silk that was to have been a dress.  I’d got so far with it before realising it was totally not me, so bagged it & stuffed it into the far reaches of the fabric cupboard for “recutting”.  I though it would be fabulous as the lining in what would otherwise be a plain, formal looking garment.  It was just enough for the front & back pieces & the pockets, but again those sleeves wouldn’t play ball.  In the end I used some left-over black lining that had been used to replace the lining in Husband’s French Connection jacket.

bellatrix III CollageSo this is a real win for the stashbusting efforts of 2014.  I am definitely counting the recutting of the dress in this one!  Chalk up 2 from the stash – whoot, that means I can go shopping!  🙂

Lining that's meant to be seen!
Lining that’s meant to be seen!
Awesome pockets!
Awesome pockets!

I cannot say too many times that this is a really easy pattern to make.  Cut on Tuesday night, interfaced & marked on Wednesday morning, sewn in the late afternoon & finished on Thursday.  Can you name another jacket you can finish that quickly?  The only thing I did differently this time was to use some fusible canvas interfacing on the undercollar piece to hold this lightweight wool in place.  With the cotton canvas print I left the stiffness out, but the fabric really needed the support this time.  I do still want to make one for daughter No1, but first she needs to come home so I can show her the fabric I have in mind, & of course, she needs to try on a toile.

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Demure Bellatrix?

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I know the photos do not do the stripe any justice, when we have weather that will allow outdoor photos with decent light, I promise to take a few more.  For now though, the UK is battening down the hatches in preparation for yet another deluge & high winds.  I guess we should be lucky that we at least aren’t suffering with the cold & snow like our friends in the USA.

In the interim, I have found another couple of pieces in the stash (!) for me, so I’m off to sketch out some ideas, because I can’t do anything with them in my head.

Get those sketchbooks out!
Get those sketch & note books out!

Le Bellatrix Blazer français

Le Bellatrix Blazer français
Le Bellatrix Blazer français

Well, it’s done!  I am a little slow in posting this project here – trying to make some progress with other projects too!  I had all the pieces for this “proper” Bellatrix Blazer, bar the lining, cut & marked on Sunday afternoon, & interfaced just before Sherlock started on Sunday evening.  That’s what you saw in the previous post.  So around 10:30am-ish on Monday morning, I got stuck in.  A stray thought went through my head:  “I wonder if I can finish this whole thing today, so Daughter No2 can wear it to school tomorrow…?”  Nothing like a little challenge!  🙂

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In the cutting out process I cut the facing fronts, which form the upper collar, 3mm wider along that front edge.  I wanted to use a tailoring technique that helps to ensure the seam stays underneath.  I did the same on the lower edges of the “peplum” pieces & the front edge.  It really did help, as well as a lot of steam & flattening with my clapper!  I also lengthened the shoulder seam by 2cm & the sleeve is 6cm longer.  I cut the back lining piece with a 2cm pleat in the centre, this to enable movement, but otherwise kept everything else as standard.  I even stayed with the bagged lining instruction!

DSC06967This really is an easy pattern to make.  The pockets are in-seam & the instructions are so plain & simple, a novice should be able to follow them with no problem!  I found no problems, apart from the front sleevehead:armhole ratio.  There is more armhole than sleeve!  I must alter this on my traced pattern, but for now I managed to ease it all in & it doesn’t look like there was a problem.

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I need a bit more pressing on that front edge!

We are on the lookout for a buckle or something for the front closure, we sort of decided we’d like an edge to edge closure, rather than a button.  For now though, she’s happy to wear it as it is, & her friends have been suitably impressed with it!  It got its first outing to school on Tuesday morning & in double French the teacher was most impressed with the fabric choice!  I’ve shown the pattern & a suitable piece of fabric to Daughter No1 too, fingers crossed she likes the combination & I can make another!

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In Jungle news, I spent many fruitless hours searching for my bodice block & toiles from last year, finally located them, only to realise I’d eaten too much over Christmas (and any other time in between) & needed to re-draft anyway!  Grrr.  So that’s what I did yesterday, & I’m intending to move along with adding the style lines & creating my puuuurfect jungle blouse.

A very pleased youngster with 2 new jackets in 3 days!
A very pleased youngster with 2 new jackets in 3 days!

How are your jungle plans?  And have you taken advantage of the special offer at Raquel Gonzalez‘ Etsy store?  You only have until this Monday to get 15%off a purchase over $50, and free shipping, so get cracking!  Use the code:  NewYearNewPurse when you check out.

Making Progress

Thanks for all the great replies to my previous post!  It’s not the first time I’ve used a soft furnishing fabric for a jacket, but it is the first time I hadn’t intended for it to be seen by the general public!  Now I did say I wouldn’t be making another Bellatrix until I’d sorted my Jungle January stuff.  Yeah, I got distracted!  Daughter No2 & I got digging in the stash & identified 3 pieces of fabric that could be used for the next one, & the winner was…

Paris print cotton canvas for Bellatrix take two
Paris print cotton canvas for Bellatrix take two

It’s a cotton canvas with a French print, writing & Eiffel towers all over.  I cut it out yesterday & raided the stash lining box again.  There was enough of a silver/grey/lilac that I’d used for a vintage jacket.  Again, praise for the small pattern pieces!  I have added a movement pleat in the back lining piece.  This cotton canvas had a degree of movement in it & I don’t want to be fixing ripped armhole seams in the lining after a couple of wears.  I managed to interface the fabric in the 30 minutes before Sherlock started last night, so today I’m ready to hit the ground running!  YAY!

I was asked by a local store to make them some bunting (who else wants winter over now already?), so I again resorted to the stash.  Funny how many pieces of left-over fabrics there are in my cupboard!  Anyhow, I yanked out a pile of pretty stuff, a lot of which are Liberty lawn, so this is going to be high-class bunting!!

Fabrics for bunting
Fabrics for bunting

I also re-measured husband for his pattern cut shirt.  Thank goodness I did!  In the 3 years since I decided to make him a handmade shirt (or 2) he’s got a teeny bit bigger!  🙂  We both have to be honest, and he’s not been that bad.  Anyhow, so that’s another thing to start, in addition to the Jungle blouse for me.

As well as rambling on about my progress this weekend, I have a special offer for the readers of this blog.  There are so many talented people plying their crafts on Etsy, but here’s one person who makes the most amazing handbags & totes.  Seriously, I have spent far too much time on her page, drooling over the colours & styles & being absolutely hopeless in my decision making.  However, as it’s the New Year & we all need a boost – and a new handbag – Raquel Gonzalez is offering you guys 15% off any purchase over $50 (that’s US Dollars), including free postage.  The discount is valid until Monday 20th January, so don’t dither too long over making a decision!

Use the code:  NewYearNewPurse when you check out.  As for me, I cannot decide between this floral tote (perfect for stashing fabric shopping in, yes??)  & this block colour turquoise one.  I wonder how much fabric one could stuff into one of these….  Then again, if I wasn’t worried about hiding fabric, I could totally have this purple crocodile number – drool!!