Introducing….. Anise!

Anise is done!

I have to admit, this project was a challenge for me.  I had to add in a bust dart to a pattern that didn’t originally have one in order to accomodate an FBA.   I’ve never sewn a lined jacket before, and had never even attempted welt pockets or bound buttonholes.  The pattern was rated for intermediate, which intimidated me as I’m very much a beginner.  But I loved this pattern and was determined to push myself, and I think I did fairly well.

Welt pocket detail

I made more than a few mistakes with this project.  For starters, I chose a fabric that is heavier than recommended, which  added to my frustration level during construction.  My machine really had a difficult time with the fabric when contructing the finer details like the buttonholes and pockets.  But in the end, I really like the end result in the heavier wool.  I think it adds to the vintage feel of the coat, particularly when coupled with the faux Persian Lamb collar.

Collar detail

My type A personality really took hold with this project.  I am not a huge fan of hand sewing, and this pattern required a lot of it.  I got frustrated and sloppy with the lining hem, and had to unpick and redo the whole thing.  I had to remove and reattach three buttons to get them perfect aligned.  I had to unpick and reattach one of the sleeves to get it lined up with the other, and I still don’t think they’re perfect.  I spent so much time working on this jacket, and I found that as I neared the end of construction I was looking on my work with such a critical eye that all I could see were its flaws.  I had to walk away from the jacket for a few days, so that I could come back and look on it with fresh eyes to really appreciate what I’d accomplished.  This is something I really need to work on – I absolutely do not want my OCD perfectionism to interfere with my ability to enjoy sewing.  I think I’ll take the next week or so to whip up a few quick, easy projects to help me regain my sewing mojo.

Despite my frustrations, I really do love both the pattern and the jacket, and would definitely recommend it to others.  This was my first experience with Colette patterns, and I was very impressed with both the pattern and the instructions.  They were very clear and well written, and I really appreciate the step by step illustrations.  Having access to Sarai, the sew-alongs, and helpful tips in the Colette forums is also a HUGE bonus.  I am definitely a fan, and plan on picking up several more of the Colette patterns in the near future.

I think the jacket is a perfect compliment to my mini-tophat, don’t you?

(I really need a new camera – this one does not capture colors well at all!)

Teaser!

The Anise jacket is just about finished!  I’ll be posting a full blog post this weekend once I can get my photographer to take some shots of me modeling it, but in the meantime here’s a teaser….

A Tale of Two Fittings

I mentioned in my last entry that I had made a few Colette Sorbetto tops.  The first I made from a nice blue and white faux brocade that I really loved.  One of the nice things about the Sorbetto is that it takes very little fabric, so it is perfect for those odd pieces you have that are not quite big enough for anything else.

Here’s my first Sorbetto:

Sorbetto number 1

Sorbetto number 2

I was happy enough with the outcome.  It looks the way it should, and as a dress/work shirt under jackets – which was my original intent – it would be great.  But there are some issues with the top as it is.  The bust darts are too high, it’s too tight across the chest, it’s too short, and it is much narrower in the hips than I prefer. While I could wear this top, particularly under jackets, it was apparent that it didn’t fit the way it should. I had initially cut a size 14 pattern.  I decided that I’d try the next size up to see if that solved the problems I was having.  It seemed logical to me – chest and hips too tight must mean that the shirt was too small, right?  Going on this logic, I cut a size 16 pattern and whipped it together in a brown polka dot fabric.  This definitely fixed the issues of length and being too tight across the hips, but it created new issues.  You can’t tell very well in this picture, but the size 16 was ENORMOUS in the top.  The neck and armscyes are huge.  When my shoulders are relaxed, the top is constantly falling off of me.  I thought it would be passable under a sweater and wore it to work on Friday.  I spent the whole day feeling uncomfortable and readjusting my shirt.  That was just not going to work long term.

I’ve known since I started sewing that I really should be doing a full bust adjustment on my tops.  I’m a DD cup bra.  Most patterns are sized for a B cup (Colette patterns are sized slightly larger, for a C cup).  Sometimes patterns will offer customizable cup sizes, but even then they usually only go up to a D. I’ve been avoiding doing an FBA because honestly, the process scared me.  It involved cutting in to the pattern and repositioning pieces.  It seemed pretty daunting, and until now I felt like it was easier just to wear things a little snug in order to avoid it.  But it was pretty apparent with the Sorbetto that if I wanted it to fit right, I needed to go with a size 14 and was going to have to finally attempt the dreaded FBA.  I really wanted to get the fit right, as I’d splurged and ordered some nice burnout silk specifically for this pattern and I didn’t want to “waste” it on an ill-fitted shirt.  With that in mind, I sat down to attempt my first FBA.

The Sorbetto is actually a good pattern to try this out on, since it’s free and you can just print another if you mess up.  The drafting of the pattern makes it fairly easy too.  In addition to the FBA, I decided to also attempt to grade the hips out to a size 16, and lengthen the top a little.

I used one of the FBA methods described in Fit For Real People, involving a tissue fitting (during which I discovered I needed to add 2 inches to the bustline – ugh), slashing the pattern through the bust dart, armscye and down the center and spreading to add size, and actually found it to be much easier than I expected.  What the heck have I been dreading all this time?!

Pattern after FBA modifications

I also decided to make a hybrid pattern of sorts by overlaying the size 14 on

top of the size 16, taping together, and trimming the excess size 16 pattern from the waist up.  This way I got the width around the hips and length that I liked from the size 16 pattern, without the fit issues at the top.

Now that I had my pattern all adjusted, it was time to cut and sew.  I chose a piece of semi-sheer yellow checked cotton that I’d had in my stash

Sorbetto number 3

for a while, and decided to add a little lace embellishment down either side of the center pleat for a fun touch. I also decided to add some sleeves to this one, based on a tutorial I found on The Seasoned Homemaker blog.  The top went together just as easily as it had in the past, although I must admit that the hugely increased size of the bust dart was a little disturbing to see!  I was pretty satisfied with the end result.  Yellow isn’t necessarily my best color, but I think the color and pattern give the top a cute sort of retro feel.

The FBA adjustment on the size 14 definitely corrected the issue with the top being too tight across the chest.  Yay!!  But this top has a couple issues of it’s own.  First off, I don’t like the sleeves.  I just don’t think sleeves work with this pattern.  This is unfortunate, because I don’t like bare arms and rarely wear sleeveless things.  Sigh.  Also, I didn’t realize it beforehand, but the FBA actually results in adding to the width of the garment everywhere – including the hips.  Because I did a 2 inch FBA,  I actually added 4 inches to the garment width.  Because of this, I probably didn’t need to add to the hip width also.  I’ll remember that for next time.  But overall, I think this top turned out OK.  Even with the extra width at the hips.  I think it would be super cute belted and worn with a pencil skirt or white capris – very retro!  For layering under a jacket or sweater, which is how I’ll most likely wear it, it’s perfect!

Me and my Sorbetto