Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Cheyenne Tunic, Take 1

With all of my venturing into knits, I haven't made myself a piece of clothing out of non-stretchy fabric for a really long time.  In fact, I'm not sure I can even tell you the last thing I made for myself that wasn't from a knit.

In high school and college, and a little after that, I made a lot of things for myself.  I didn't do any altering and most of the patterns were pretty frumpy and not very modern.  I figured out how to do some fancy things like button holes and darts, and I even managed to put boning in my prom dress,  but then I drifted away from clothing for a long time.

Thanks to instagram and the variety of people I follow who sew things, I have a renewed interest in making clothes.  Plus, a subscription to from my sister allows me to get $10 off a pattern each month, which is usually the cost of a pattern on that site, so I have broadened my horizons a little.

And the entertainment my sister gets from seeing the hijinks I create as I try to follow these patterns is far worth the cost of her subscription for me.

I made the Union St. Tee and the Sloan Leggings from Hey June Patterns, so I thought I'd try her Cheyenne Tunic.

I bought this fabric at a thrift store because a) it didn't have a bad smell and b) it was $2.5 for 2 yards.  I figured I'd use it in quilts somewhere along the line.  I knew it wasn't really something I would want for a piece of clothing, but I would find a use for it.

If you're trying a pattern for the first time, the catch phrase is "make a muslin".  This means you're making a test of the pattern so that if you need to make adjustments, you can figure out where.  Most people use fabric that they don't care much about or that didn't cost so much they'd cry if they made big mistakes and had to start over.  Some wear their muslins for real and some realize why we make muslins and make sure they never see the light of day.

Incidentally, when I'm typing "sew a muslin" in instagram, it helpfully insists that what I really mean is "see a Muslim".  So if you see a post of mine and I'm talking about seeing a Muslim, you definitely need to picture that I'm sewing.  It's not a secret code like "see a  man about a horse". 

Anyway, in the true style of muslin making, I thought this fabric would be perfect.  I thought 2 yards would be enough, even though the pattern said 3 yards, and I figured if I really needed that extra yard, I could add in something that would entertain me and ensure it would never leave the house.

Remember the episode of The Cosby Show when Denise makes Theo a shirt because she thinks she can sew and he thinks he will save money?

Throughout most of this project, I was pretty sure this would be me!

 Putting together the paper pattern, taping it and cutting it out, I then had to figure out how to get it onto the fabric correctly.  This isn't really a directional print, so matching lines wasn't an issue, so other than getting the grainline in the right direction, there wasn't much hassle in pinning it and cutting it.

Well, then there was the interfacing.  I thought I had a lot of interfacing stashed away, but it turned out I literally had just enough for everything I needed.

But, it wasn't iron-on interfacing because back when I bought it, I was even thriftier than I am now.  So, I took a page out of callajaire's book and glued the interfacing in place everywhere that it needed to be.

It held as it was meant to and you'd never know it wasn't ironed on.  And, in case you think interfacing is for sissies, I'm pretty sure all of the collars and cuffs would just flop without it and the buttonholes definitely need it.  So, you can't say "oh, I don't have interfacing, I'm sure it won't really matter.

Next time, I will definitely by iron-on just for the sake of saving time!

After transfering the markings and gluing in my interfacing, I had to sit down and actually start this thing!  Some people might read through all of the directions FIRST, to make sure they understand everything and aren't getting in over their heads.

I am not some people.

When it comes to sewing, headfirst I go, no prereading at all.

The first thing I did was make the pocket.  I figured if I could handle that, we'd be on a roll.  From the get go, I loved the finishing details, like the top stitching here on the pocket.  And I loved that seams get tucked under and covered by things, so everything gets a great finish.

She gives a great suggestion when stitching these triangles- count the number of stitches you do on the diagonal and try to repeat it on the other.  Very smart, if you read that piece of the directions BEFORE you sewed the first diagonal line.

The next thing that felt like a big accomplishment was the button placket.  I have a whole new respect for button down shirts.  To make the buttonhole placket and the piece that the buttons attach to on the other side involves a series of flipping the fabric.  In my usual half assed way, I completed the placket, top stitched both sides as it said to do, and made my first buttonhole.

I thought it was strange to make the buttonholes from the inside of the placket, but not doing much with buttonholes in the past 2 decades, I thought maybe someone had decided the look was better on the bobbin side of the buttonhole and that's what all of the cool kids are doing.

It's probably hard to tell here, unless you understand this process, but this placket is on completely opposite how it was intended to be.  This is in the INSIDE of the shirt, but it looks much prettier than the outside because I didn't do it right.

So, my seam ripper and I became acquaintances for the first of many times during this process.

Oh, I didn't tell you the best part.  Callajaire suggests (let me interrupt and say that I think it's hysterical that I am citing my sister and her "suggestions" like I'm writing a term paper) that when you make buttonholes and want them to look really polished and professional, you got through the whole process twice.  I agree, it really make a difference because the stitches are nice and thick and don't look homemade.

And that would have been fine, if I hadn't had to rip out that first buttonhole I did when the placket was on the wrong side.  A double buttonhole, if you will.

A lot of frustrated time later, I got the buttonhole all out, didn't rip the fabric, undid all of the topstitching on both plackets and did them all correctly.

I was really thrilled with the final result!

I am not one to really work through the details, but this pattern encourages it and I can't get over how good I think it makes the whole thing look.

From the collar, which has these tabs that stick out from the ends and then magically tuck inside when you turn the collar out...

To the detail at the wrist....

To the yoke detail  inside and out...

To the recommended topstitching at the shoulders...

To those fabulous French seams...

To the suggestion for the precision on the hem...

I think it all comes together extremely well to look like it should, and not like I made it with my eyes closed.

The only drawback to this pattern was that with all of those details, it was really hard to try it on and know how it would look during the process.  I want a dressmaker's form which I think would have helped.  The arm and side seams are done last, so for the entire process, I never really got a good look at how it would fit around my body because it was all open.  I could have basted or pinned it once just to see, but I wanted to see how all of the steps went in order.

The fit is OK, and good for a muslin, but I probably won't wear this.  I know exactly what I want to fix next time, which is add a little more to the width in the butt area so it's not pulling from my hips.  Most people probably don't notice, but I do and anyone who sews will see it, and really, it's tighter across my butt than I'd like.

I mean to wear this top with leggings, and in the pictures, I have thick fleece pants on.  They definitely add to the bulk around the butt area, but I think even with thin leggings, this shirt will feel better with a little more room in the hips.

I love the freedom in the arms and I think the sleeves are a great length!   I have a serious problem with sleeves coming only to my wrist bone, so I like that these go a little too long and I have to fold them back a little.  I do this with most collared shirts.  Because that's just the way I am!

I didn't make any adjustments to this pattern and for the future, I think the only adjustment I'd make is in the hip area.  I don't know if I will go with a slightly narrower seam or if I will jump up a size to blend it with what I have.

Other than the disaster with the front plackets, I didn't have any other major disasters.  This is a pretty major accomplishment for me.  I did have a major pause when I did the wrist plackets.  Try as I might, I couldn't understand those directions, but I  knew what the finished product needed to look like, so I fiddled with it until I got it right.  Then I understood what the directions meant.

It's a good thing I don't have to read blueprints for a living!

This material was your typical cotton, more for quilting than wearing.  I'd like to make one in a soft doubt gauze or linen type of fabric.  With the interfacing and doubled yoke, a lighter fabric should hold up its shape pretty well.

And once again,the collar detail which was my favorite part!

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  1. Found this a very interesting read! I made a couple of very simple pieces of clothing long ago when I was in high school, but nothing since as far as clothes go. I'm working up my nerve, so please keep sharing your adventures! The tunic looks great for a muslin with no try-on until you had it compleated! Hooray for thrift ed fabric finds!!

  2. I'm so amazed by the great job you did making this blouse!
    Thanks for sharing this at Cooking and Crafting with J&J!


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