Fashion Sketching (And Other Amusements)

Are you surprised? Another post so soon after the last one! What is that old damselfly up to? Well, just for starters the unbelievable high heat broke finally so I don’t feel like I’m imminently going to melt into a pile of goo! The brains work again even if the body, at least the foot, doesn’t. Things are looking up! And I have plenty of time on my hands right now. Heh.

Last post I started to (badly) show the sketch of an idea for a jumpsuit that I was thinking about making. I used a printout of my personal fashion template that I recently purchased from My Body Model an app that uses your own measurements to create a shape that more closely resembles the real you. What I especially like about it is that you can mess with the results until you are completely happy with it before you fork out any money! When you pay (there’s a system of “credits”) you have the choice of a basic PDF package of page layouts or one with more options. I just got the basic one and it works fine for the kinds of things I want to do. You also get a plain PDF file that you can use in a drawing program if you want. I prefer an excuse to buy more brush pens! Just to show you how accurate the My Body Model croquis is, here’s a comparison of my sketch from 4 years ago made from a photograph and my personal MBM template.

The Real Me!

MBM’s feet are a little small (and I don’t have big feet!) and the hips look a little wider because the hip measurement is distributed around the whole shape rather than just in front where I carry my weight. Otherwise it looks pretty close particularly when I draw hair and glasses on her. It definitely looks better than the usual fashion croquis that makes a body ridiculously out of proportion to reality. Nobody is actually 9 heads tall, are they? If you don’t feel like you’re very good at drawing there’s lots of tutorials (both free and paid) available to learn some easy ways to put clothes on your template. I had great fun designing a jumper dress based on a York Pinafore hack for a gathered skirt version.

Plaid York Jumper Sketch

And when I was finished sewing, I dressed up like the sketch.

The Real Plaid York Jumper
Back View

Looks pretty similar, doesn’t it? The fabric is a “100% unknown fibre“ brushed back twill in an asymmetrical plaid that’s been in my stash for eons. It’s actually quite nice feeling for a synthetic but a burn test wasn’t definitive. I’d have thought polyester but it didn’t melt away from the flame and wasn’t self-extinguishing. It seemed to react more like acrylic which I’ve only experienced as yarn. Weird. Anyway, I love the colours and I’m sure I would have used it up long ago except for the fact that it’s very lightweight and clingy. In order to foil the cling factor I decided to fully line it with some coordinating cotton/poly shirting that I had also in stash without a clue where it came from.

I used the burrito technique to line the bodice and then attached the skirts (main and lining) each to its own layer so there’s no seams visible inside. I also added in-seam pockets because…pockets. Skirt and lining were hemmed individually also and I’ve worn this a lot since I finished it. Obviously a successful make! Here’s an interior view of the bodice so you can see the topstitching and lining fabric. My new tag went nicely too don’t you think?

Interior Detail

So you can see how being able to sketch out your ideas can be very helpful in visualizing how they will look in reality. You can “try on” garments and change the proportions or plan outfits and capsule wardrobes easily before you commit actual fabric to the project. It also allows you to look at your own body with some detachment so your judgement isn’t as laden with so much personal baggage. It’s just paper dolls! And yes, if you’re like me and loved playing with paper dolls as a kid, you can make your own personal “paper you” all ready for your wardrobes of fabulous clothes. Anyway I’m sold. I have more My Body Models to show you but right now I’ll just leave you with this Hipstamatic photo of my backyard. I got a new “lens” and “film” pack: Moab. Couldn’t resist since I’ve actually been there! I should remember to play with this app more often now that I have a better camera in Thom’s old iPhone, huh? It’s nearly impossible to take a bad shot. So artsy.

Kalle Take Two

I wasn’t especially happy with the fit of my first Closet Core Kalle, the cropped version that I showed in the last post. I decided more work was necessary at the shoulders as well as going up one size in the upper chest area front and back for just a wee bit more wiggle room. It was quite an involved process since I was combining several adjustments at the same time: sloped shoulder, forward shoulder and high round back. All this changed the shape of the back yoke quite a lot and also took a large wedge out of the front shoulder seam. I took a little more from the back armhole by nibbling another wedge out of the back bodice at the armhole edge. In order to counteract some of the narrowing that all this caused on the sleeve, I lowered the underarm where it curves from the sleeve into the body of the garment. All this in turn necessitated remeasuring the cuff pieces. I had to add to the back cuff and take a little bit away from the front one. Whew! In the end though, the fit is a whole lot better.

Kalle Dress Version
Kalle Dress Back

This time I decided to make the dress version of the pattern with the pop-over button placket, collar and inverted pleat. I used the narrower band collar piece for the collar stand and shaved 3/8″ off the collar to match because I thought the original collar was a bit too oversized. I also added 2 pockets instead of one because otherwise this dress has no pockets. Should have put inseam pockets in, shouldn’t I? Next time for sure. The fabric is a narrow handwoven, tie-dyed and batiked cotton from deepest stash. Must have been lurking there for at least 25 years! Bright and cheerful enough for you? Even though the patterning is completely funky and there was no matching anything anyhow, the fabric was quite lovely to work with and pressed and sewed like a champ. The buttons were little turquoise plastic ones salvaged off something ages ago and they matched very nicely.

The fit on this second Kalle is very much improved! As well as the shoulder changes, it grades from a size 12 at the neck to a 14 at the bust, 16 at the waist and 18 at the hip. Four sizes is quite a large range, eh? Also this is the dress pattern as drafted for 5’6″ and I’m only 5’3-1/2″ and it’s still quite short, although I suspect some of the extreme hi-lo hem curve has been removed since the pattern photos. Anyhow, all my adjustments worked like a dream even though they had me scratching my head whether or not I did it all correctly. Yay! Now I have another good pattern to add to my collection. I may succumb to a tunic version yet! I wouldn’t mind experimenting with long sleeves as well but don’t think I’ll be buying the expansion pack that Closet Core has available. A simple sleeve, tower placket and cuff shouldn’t be hard to draft myself and save the cost (which comes to over $9 CAD) to put towards something else. I’d still have to adjust the upper edge for my revised sleeve opening and shorten the length as usual for my T-rex arms anyway plus I already have a tower placket pattern so why not DIY?

So then there were about 2 yards left of the fabric so I decided to make another wearable muslin, this time for Thom. I tried out the Wardrobe By Me Tropical Shirt. The only fit adjustment that I made was to straighten out the waist curve because he’s pretty much the same measurement at chest, waist and hip. (Unlike me!) I did debate with Christina from WBM about her pattern sizing for men which I have found rather confusing but haven’t really gotten a satisfactory answer apart from “European sizing is different” and “Euro men are smaller”. Uh-huh. Thom’s 40″ chest which is a size M practically everywhere else is an XL in WBM sizing. The largest size offered, 3XL, is only a 45″ chest which seems a rather limited range to me, at least on the top end, whatever you label it. Anyway the finished measurements were what he expected so that’s what I made. And was just able to squeeze it out of the remnant piece.

Tropical Shirt
Tropical Shirt Back

There was no way to choose where the patterns ended up since there was so little fabric to work with. My friend Melanie says he has owl eyes! Hah. Now you can’t unsee that, can you? Instead of the pocket pattern I used a spare one that I’d cut out for the Kalle and decided that it wasn’t looking right there. It works fine here. There’s only tiny fabric scraps left, which is what you want, right? Thom is quite happy with his new shirt and it’s now dubbed the Aloha Shirt. He says he will wear it while holidaying in Las Livingroom and Puerta Backyarda! There will be more, especially as his collection of short-sleeved summer shirts start to wear out. Some are upwards of 15-20 years old now and the best ones are linen, ramie or a linen/cotton blend. He wears them all the time when it’s warmer, preferring them over t-shirts because not only are shirts cooler, he can keep his glasses in the pocket.

One change I might make to this pattern in future is to add to the 1cm (3/8″) seam allowances at the side-seams and the top of the sleeve so I can sew flat-fell seams instead of having to overlock them. So much nicer inside and more durable for shirts. I used flat-fells on my Kalle which was easy because it started with 5/8″ seam allowances. On the dress the seam finish was even flexible enough to accommodate the curve under the arm where the body morphs into the sleeve but I did have to clip a little into the seam allowances underneath the top of the folded layer before stitching it down to get it to lie flat.

So what’s next? I seem to be on a bit of a sewing roll! I suddenly decided to use my lac-dyed linen/rayon for a longer version of the Peppermint/In The Folds Button-Up Dress. More on this one soon. I’ve made a few changes to it since I made the first version (which does look suspiciously like a copy of the pattern photo). I wear it a lot but it’s short and I hate the facings. I hate ALL facings! They never cooperate and lie flat or stay put. Give me bias binding over facings any day. There will be bias. Okay, I’m done!

Next Project

Take good care, everyone! Wash your hands, stay 6 feet/2 metres apart and wear your damn mask! It’s the least we can do.

And Another Month Gone

Again! Is Covid-time faster than normal time? I think so! The weather has been really changeable and although we’ve had a few warm days it’s mostly somewhat cooler than usual for June. I’m even wearing a sweater today! At least I haven’t had to water the garden much. I really don’t feel as if I accomplished much this month at all. I mostly just read more books, pulled a few weeds and picked some produce. What does it say about me when my most exciting day is Laundry Day twice a month? Yeesh. Still no new Finished Objects to show. No knitting and very little sewing happened. I did repair my bug-munched top so I could wear it though.

Visible Mending

It took more time to choose the repair fabric than to actually perform the fix! I finally chopped up a dyed and stamped swatch from the scraps drawer and did some sloppy sashiko stitching on it and I think it looks passable. Hopefully I can get a few more years’ wear now. Loved clothes last!

Wearing it: front view
Wearing it: back view

When this thing finally gives out, I’ll probably make a new version. I still have the pattern I made. Or maybe I won’t wait until it dies to sew it again! It’s a great way to use up fabrics that are too small for a full garment. I think the design has held up well considering I saved the original inspiration photo nearly 10 years ago. Good wearable styles don’t date quickly.

However some things do get dated! I’ve been working on refashioning my indigo hemp jacket from the mid-’90’s. It absolutely did not fit anymore: drop shoulders, deep armholes, too long sleeves and tight waist and hip. Just wait until you see the “before” pics on me! But I absolutely love the funky fabric and the dyeing is a memorial to an epic indigo vat that my friends and I made one year. I’ve never been able to get something this large dyed that evenly since. Here’s a hanger shot just to whet your interest.

Indigo Hemp Jacket (before)

Notice that even the horn buttons dyed beautifully as well. (It was a wonderful vat!) Eventually I ended up picking out nearly every seam except for the collar and front placket. The thread I sewed it with was cotton so it would take the indigo and they are all flat-fell seams too so really sturdily stitched! Took ages, a sharp seam ripper and good light but I couldn’t figure out how else to reshape it. It needed extra fabric under the arms and down the side seams and I don’t have anything remotely similar in stash to piece with this it. I did find some denim that matched the colour pretty closely but wisely decided that it was too heavy and stiff. This hemp is thick and coarsely woven but drapey and fairly soft after being washed many times. So I went with something different but not too contrasting that just felt right. Not finished yet though so you’ll have to wait for the big reveal.

On another topic entirely I just wanted to mention the new Ravelry interface. Have you seen it yet? It’s been a big topic of conversation on my Instagram feed and there is quite a contingent of users who absolutely abhor it! Apparently it’s been an issue for those who suffer migraines and seizures. Personally as a senior and a migraineur, it did give my eyes the collywobbles at first too. However, after I discovered that they had eventually made some of the annoying things optional such as getting rid of the horrible drop shadows and changing the text font (which sort of solved my particular problem) it was passable. Barely. The text, icons and buttons are still too small especially on my iPad screen and there’s no permanent fix for that. I can zoom with the two finger spread of course but have to do that on every. single. page. The stark white background with skinny black type is still there. And yes, you can switch to “classic” Ravelry, which apparently isn’t actually Old Ravelry and is still a problem for some people. It’s not a forever option either. Not that anything is ever permanent on the Internet. (Unless it’s something you don’t actually want to be permanent!) FYI, I’ve been a Ravelry member since October 2007, nearly 13 years. I joined back in the days when you had to request a membership and wait until they issued you one. Yes, I’ve seen quite a few changes on there and most of them were changes for the better. Until now.

I really thought that Ravelry didn’t handle the criticism very well at all. I know change is hard for some people and some push-back is inevitable. But if a significant number of your users are complaining of physical discomfort or actual harm then maybe they have a real concrete reason for it? Brushing it off with a few quick optional or temporary fixes that you have to get on the site to access first is just plain ableism, people! And then patting yourself on the back for how well your site has done with sales and sign-ups since the rollout. Consider one explanation for that could be that everyone is stuck in the house, boredom is setting in and they want to fill the void with a useful craft? Doesn’t really prove that everyone loves it. So Ravelry currently has a questionnaire up. Which again you have to get on the site to access. I filled it out. Who knows if it will help at all? Meanwhile since I have all the patterns I need for the moment, don’t use the forums anymore, and haven’t really been knitting lately anyway, I’ll just leave them to it for now. At least I got my opinion out there. Use your words! My new motto.

Carrying On

How is everyone holding up? Out in cyberspace I see lots of calming videos and images and lots of jokes and laughter too. Keep it up! We can get through this together even if we have to all stay apart. Best line I saw somewhere that stuck with me is this:

Introverts, put down your book and go check in on the poor extroverts now. They’re suffering!

I know. It’s not so funny if you’re truly lonely and isolated. But society is usually so dominated by the extroverts among us that it’s kind of interesting that we introverts actually have an advantage during the current situation. I can be alone for awhile without becoming lonely. I don’t need (or even want) constant stimulation and conversation. Plus I have lots of solo activities that I enjoy. On the other hand if this goes on too long, I’m kind of glad I’m sharing my isolation space with my spouse! Who is also an introvert.

You know, everyone talks about COVID-19 but do you personally know anyone who has it? My son picked up what we think is the dreaded virus at his shop thanks to an inconsiderate customer. It’s unconfirmed. He can’t get tested because they’re saving that for the serious cases but in consultation with the BC Health med-line and his doctor by phone, they’re pretty sure. Luckily he’s not too ill and is on the mend now. His family (wife and two teenagers) haven’t shown signs of coming down with it. Yet. Though the kids might kill each other first! They’re self-isolating in their small apartment with the golden retriever while building comes to a halt (by government order) on their new one. It’s already a year behind schedule. Are we having fun yet? Kind of happy we haven’t seen any of our kids in person for nearly a month! But I worry about them all.

So I finished a thing. When I discovered that I cut this jacket out back in November, I was amazed that it took me so long! Of course I was distracted by the Make Space Project. Even I am not that slow of a sewist. I had it half finished and hanging out on Debbie Double for months so I finally got it together and got it done. It’s dark and rainy today so I settled for a hanger shot with supplementary lighting.

In The Folds Flynn Jacket
Inside view of the seams

It turned out a little more oversized than I prefer but it’s not really any worse than my Issey Miyake jacket. I actually used the same size as my vest version that I made last year but the jacket has more ease with that wide back pleat and drop shoulders. I did get the sleeves the right length exactly though so I don’t have to turn up the cuffs unless I want to. There was a little trouble with the drapey linen crepe fabric stretching out on the seams. They’re a little wavy especially down the front edges. I probably really should have used my walking foot but didn’t. I was too busy switching back and forth from the regular foot to the stitch-in-the-ditch foot to sew the binding. I love that foot! I never had one with my old sewing machine and it just makes getting really close to the seam so easy. Also happiness for snap-on feet too. On the other hand, the walking foot is a lot more involved to install than my old Pfaff’s IDT foot which was built in. Ya wins some; ya loses some.

I’ve been out in my garden and for plenty of walks while the sun was shining. I got my peas planted a week early this year! My wee seedlings are going to need transplanting into bigger pots very soon (like starting tomorrow). And then begins the Daily Schlep – taking them out to the greenhouse every morning and back inside every evening until they are ready to go in the garden. There’s not enough room under the lights for them all and I need space to plant the tomatoes very soon. I was realizing that it’s a very good thing that I was able to buy my seeds before all the shops shut or I would have had to resort to mail ordering them. Not sure if we’re going to get our scheduled manure order delivered in a couple of weeks or not. We’re all in a waiting game here, aren’t we?

Sending virtual hugs to everyone! Stay well and stay occupied as best you can. As my auld Scots mum used to say: “This too shall pass”.