Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Project 30: Dress Hoodie

There's something I find very appealing about the hoodie. The ability to just flick that hood up on your head and disappear, the convenient length, the moderate insulation, and the easy front zipper. The typical fabric, though, limits its usefulness for me. Jersey can be convenient and comfortable, but it's never dressy. Fleece is a little more structured, but very hard to find in natural fibres.

I decided to experiment and make a jacket with the silhouette of a hoodie, but in alternate materials. I used Garment Designer 2.5 to make the basic pattern shapes, then printed them out and made my plastic pattern pieces for the shell, lining, and facings from those.

If I had a tailor's dummy you could see the effect a little better, but alas, a hanger and your imagination will have to do.

It's about a half inch shorter than I planned due to a fairly dramatic construction error I made. I had to take the whole thing apart when I realized I had left the zipper only half installed the first time!

The shell is a medium weight suiting. It has a little stretch to it, but not enough to give me too many problems.

I quilted the lining pieces with some poly fleece for warmth. I read subsequently that you're supposed to quilt the lining before you cut the pieces out. That would have been a bit easier! As it was I had to mark the quilting lines, then carefully stitch to exactly the edge of the facing, then stop and pull the needle thread through to the back and tie it off. I did that dozens and dozens of times!

The facings do look pretty sharp, though.

I made a welt pocket on the inside for my iPhone. It came out the nicest of the three welts, I think.

On the outside, I made two welt pockets and finished them with snaps. In retrospect, I probably should have merged the bottom seam of the pockets into the hem seam for a little more security. As it is, the pockets can wiggle around and make lumps under the shell.

The hood is generously sized, and a little too pointy, I think. Before making another one I think I'll adjust that pattern piece a little.

I only ever intended this to be a practice run at the garment, but as it came together I liked it better and better even though it was made of pretty basic materials.

I think I'll make a few of these to figure out what I like best. I might make one out of coating wool with a simple lining next and see how I like that. I might also make another of these with the same construction and colors but with higher end wool and silk.

The most important thing I learned on this project was how to install a zipper in a lined garment. That's going to come in handy time and time again.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Project 29: Aloha Shirt

Last September, Doug and I took a short, (too short) impromptu vacation in Maui. It was my first visit to Hawaiʻi, but he had spent some time there with his parents when he was a teenager. We stayed at one of the resorts on Kaʻanapali beach, which was absolute paradise.

We spent just a little bit of time souvenir shopping in Lahaina, and Doug wanted to get an aloha shirt. We looked at a bunch of them, but the ones that were well made were over $100. There were inexpensive shirts, but they just didn't look good.

 We continued our exploration of the town, and happened on a fabric store. We went in to have a look around, and lo and behold, they had a vast selection of Hawaiʻian prints! I got the idea that he should pick out one he liked and I would make him an aloha shirt when we got home.

Itʻs March. I know. The Autumn was pretty horrible in terms of stress and drama, and it took a great deal of the Winter to get back on my feet and caught up. But now, at last, the shirt is done. I used my trusty McCallʻs M4399 pattern, but extended its length a few inches. Doug is a bit taller than me, but our inseams are the same length. He gets his height from an elegantly long torso (lucky bastard) so a little extra length is needed in un-tucked shirts.

The only challenge with this project was the pocket. I did some reading about the evolution of these shirts, and one of their characteristics is that the pocket is cut out such that the pattern matches to the body of the shirt. This is another instance where Paulaʻs clear plastic pattern piece method saved the day. I placed the pattern piece on the shirt front and drew around the outlines of several of the flowers so I could cut the pocket out just right.

I found some flower-shaped buttons for an added touch of island-ness.

Iʻm not showing a picture of it, but there was one part of construction that didn't please me. Despite taking lots of precautions, once again when I attached the collar and self facing and turned it out, the end of the facing wasn't lined up properly with the shoulder seam on one side. Grr. I wound up unfolding some of the turned under end to extend it to just about reach. That made hand-sewing the collar closed even more annoying than usual.

During this project I reached some clarity about what my goals are as a seamster. I don't particularly want the clothes I make to be indistinguishable from manufactured garments. I'm cool with small irregularities that show a piece was hand-made. As long as it doesn't look home-made. Feel free to leave comments about that distinction, whether or not you like it!