Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sewing: Winter Jacket Progress

I'm finally putting together the actual winter jacket for my Mother-in-Law. The Ultrex fabric arrived and I have basted together the outer layer. I let my MIL try it on one last time before I finish it up. I wanted to make sure there were no more fitting issues.

The front looks pretty good. I had to take in some fabric above the bust by straightening out the princess seam on the side piece a little bit.

I didn't iron the side seam, so it's hard to tell if there are any issues. Overall, it looks straight enough. I let out the sleeves at the shoulder a little bit and lowered the armhole by 1/2". I wanted to make enough room for her to be able to wear a warm layer underneath (she is only wearing a t-shirt in the pictures).

The back is pretty good, but I might take a little out of the centre back seam near the bottom. There is some curling of the fabric there. I don't want to take out too much though, since I want her to be comfortable when she sits down.

My MIL is super happy with how it is going so far. She loves how light and comfortable the jacket is. Right now, it looks a bit like a judge's robe. But, once the cuffs and collar are attached, it will look less robe-like.

That's it for now! No more pictures until it's done and I've given it to my MIL for Christmas.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Vinegar Wood Stain

Many moons ago, I made some vinegar wood stain to stain an Ikea dresser I bought. I thought I would share the results.

To make the stain, I crammed a bunch of old, rusty steel wool (you can use new steel wool, too) clumps in a glass container. I then filled the jar with vinegar and added some tea bags. I then let it sit for a few days, but the stain is probably is ready to go if you leave it overnight.

Using a foam brush, I brushed the stain onto the dresser. Here is what one coat looked like:

A second coat made it darker and more uniform:

The vinegar and the steel wool create iron acetate, which react with the tannins in wood. Adding tea increases the tannins in the wood and makes the stain darker. To really bring out the stain and make it look richer, I gave it two coats of linseed oil. And then two coats of beeswax to protect the finish.

Here is a close up of the wood:

My dresser/nightstand is almost done. My husband is going to carve me some nice knobs to finish it off.

Using the vinegar stain was fun (and cheap!). I also like that it is less harmful to health and the environment.

For more information, here is a Lee Valley article on wood pickling:

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Sewing: Slash and Spread vs. Pivot Alterations

Now that I'm becoming more experienced with pattern alterations, I'm starting to notice that there are many ways to approach them. Two of the major methods that you might come across are the Slash and Spread Method and the Pivot Method. I'm going to talk about how I found that the pivot method can be much easier in some situations.

If you have been following my progress on my MIL's winter jacket, you will know that I tried to adjust the waistline along the bodice. On the first muslin, I found that I had to pin up more at the sides than at the front and back. I corrected this by taking a wedge out of my pattern pieces using a slash and spread (or overlap) method. But, now I have issues with grainline, etc.

To show what I mean, I've drawn some quick illustrations. The illustration is of a raglan sleeve bodice back piece, but you can do the same thing to different shaped bodice pieces. With the slash and spread method, I measured how much fabric I needed to pinch out (in light blue shading) and then folded over the pattern piece by the same amount. You can see that my grainline is now bent and my pattern piece looks disfigured. This is why I saw fabric being pushed to the side seam on the second muslin.

Original Piece (black) and New Piece (green)
If I use the pivot method instead, I can avoid this. I trace out my pattern, lay the pattern piece on top and match at a pivot point (in this case the top of the centre back seam - if you were doing a swayback adjustment, you would probably match up the side seams at the underarm point). Then, you pivot down the pattern by as much as you needed to pinch out (I measured from the underarm down) and re-trace along the neck and sleeve seams. That is your new pattern line (in green in the first picture).

Original Piece (black) with Pivoting Piece (red and green); Original Piece (black) with excess marked (blue shading); and New Piece (green)
If you compare the resulting pattern pieces, you can see that one is much better at keeping grainlines and the hem square.

Slash method (left) and Pivot method (right)

And if you compare the original pieces, you will see that you took out the same amount of excess, just in different places.
Slash method (left) and Pivot method (right)
So, from now on, if I have to do a swayback, flat bottom, or other adjustment, I'm going to give the pivot method a try. It looks like it can save a lot of other headaches.

For now, I have to go back and fix the winter jacket pattern pieces. Which mean a bit more work (since I have to undo what I did), but hopefully a better result.

If you need more help on using the pivot method, I found these two posts really helpful:

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Sewing: Second Winter Jacket Muslin

I'm still working on a winter jacket for my Mother-in-law. I had to make a fairly large adjustment to the first muslin, so I decided to make a second muslin before going any further. The adjustment was to shorten the bodice length, as the waistline was sitting too low.

My MIL is much happier with this test jacket and I am, too. I added a facing to cover the zipper. I reversed the collar, so that the bigger side is on the right of the jacket. That way it will be easier to do up the large button near the collar. I still have to fix the collar a bit to make it the right length for the neckline, but it is getting close.

I added pockets along the front princess seams. I also added a bit more room in the underarms by adding gusset pieces to the side back, side front, and sleeve pieces. This is the same alteration to add underarm ease that I did to my winter jacket.

After shortening the bodice, I found that I shortened it too much in the back. So, I slashed it open and pinned a piece of scrap fabric. This alteration pushed the bottom sides of the back piece towards the front and causing some buckling (if you look closely, you can see the extra fabric in the picture below). So, I will be taking a bit off of the back piece along the side seam when I adjust the pattern.

That's it! As I said, my MIL is happy with how this is coming along. I just need the fabric to show up (I ordered from Seattle Fabrics) and to make my changes to begin sewing the final winter jacket.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sewing: Winter Jacket Muslin

Sewing the jacket for my Mother-in-law is going pretty well so far. As mentioned in a previous post, I used a raglan dress pattern as a sloper to make up a jacket pattern. I made up a jacket muslin for my MIL to try on.

My MIL loves it so far - especially, the large asymmetrical collar. The muslin fit very well. I was afraid that my measurements would be off, but I was actually pretty close. The only major change was shortening the bodice. While making the jacket, I drew a line across the waistline according to the pattern. This made it easy to see that it was too low, so I just I pinned it up (as shown in the photos). This one change made a big improvement to fit.

I also pinned up more of the waistline at the sides than at the front and the back. I'm guessing that this is just doing the opposite of a swayback and swayfront adjustment. It flattens the shaping at the front and back.

My MIL and I went shopping for wool fabric for her coat. She was having a hard time deciding and kept mentioning how she didn't want something too heavy, too warm, and too formal. I then asked her if she really wanted a winter coat. That got her thinking and she started to take a second look at my winter jacket, which I was wearing at the time. Long story short, we've now decided that her jacket will be made of 2-ply Ultrex, like my jacket. I'm glad we didn't just buy the wool fabric online and jump into it.

I'm now working on a second jacket with all the features (like pockets and cuffs). That way I can make sure my pieces actually fit together.