There comes in a time in every blogger’s life when you start wondering if your ideas are really worth sharing or where you hit a roadblock (blogger’s block anyone?) in your blogging career. I’ve come to that point this year and truth be told, I’ve been feeling like this since about February. The blog has suffered because I started becoming extremely self conscious about sharing sewing projects and ideas and frank opinions with you. Don’t ask me why because its really a personal matter and its kind of silly. Anyway, enough about that. I decided to become proactive about this and get your feedback. Sometimes, I get email requests for doing a post on a certain subject and if you are one who has emailed me and asked about a specific post, don’t worry, I’m going to start addressing those very soon. I’ve decided to do a weekly reader request, but I wanted to gather even more ideas from you.
So, what would you like to see here on A Fashionable Stitch? What are you interested in hearing about from me? Are there tutorials that you would like me to post? Like my calculation for a knit neckline? My shoe situation with the Everyday Wardrobe? What do you want to know about? I love hearing from you, so you can either contact me by email (email@example.com) or you can leave a comment right here and expect to see your reader request featured in the upcoming future!
Sorry for my absence last week. Gosh, the week seriously got away from me and it was all I could do to keep above water – metaphorically speaking. Crazy! Anyway, here’s the next installment of my plaid jacket chronicles. I think that picking an appropriate pattern for plaids can be a big deal. It can really be the deal cincher or the deal breaker. Some patterns don’t do well in plaids, which, by the way a great way to find out is to do a plaid test garment out of plaid flannel shirting – something really cheap but plaid as it will give you a visual rendering of your pattern pick in a plaid. In this episode or (should I say webisode?) I’ll be talking about picking a pattern and some things to keep in mind as you look.
First of all, when picking a pattern for plaids, there’s a good rule of thumb to go by. Have a look at the back of the pattern envelope and when it says “unsuitable for obvious diagonals, stripes, plaids or one way designs” you can pretty much leave that pattern alone. I have a few of those types of patterns and I wanted to share one with you, so that you knew why it would be unsuitable for plaids.
This is Vogue 8576 (out of print now by the way) and if you take a close look at the pattern, you’ll notice that it has a lot of seaming action going on. This is really great in a simple solid color because first of all, you can actually see all the seaming detail, something that would be completely lost in a print. But, can you even imagine this garment in a plaid? Even if you were to do this garment in a plaid, it would look completely crazy. There would be so much going on that it would leave those looking at your garment with a serious headache. Am I right or amirite?
Now let’s turn our attention to what will work. For jacket patterns, a few things you should note. I’ve found that most jackets have princess seams. There are a few that don’t, like this one above, but if you take a close look, you’ll notice that Butterick 5926 is for double/moderate stretch knits. Yup. If you find that there is a jacket that doesn’t have princess seams, you’ll also find that those jackets are kind of boxy and fairly non-fitted – which doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t stylish. Take a look at the Colette Anise – boxy, yet stylish and it does have princess seams in the back.
In my plaid jacket, using McCall’s 6172 (above), there are actually quite a few seams for a jacket. I mean, there are princess seams in the front and in the back and there is also a contoured center back seam plus an upper sleeve and an under sleeve and finally there is a vertical dart in the front too. So, creating a plaid jacket with matching plaids to boot, does work in a jacket that has several seams. But maybe, for the second rule of thumb, its good to pick a pattern with as few seamlines as possible for your first try.
Third rule of thumb – look for a pattern that has a plaid rendering on the pattern envelope. This is actually something that I read somewhere and thought was such a great idea. For example, this vintage Butterick coat is actually a pattern that for plaids I would have avoided. One thing to note about raglan sleeves is that you will never be able to match up the plaids if the sleeve were on the straight of grain. It’s impossible. However, look what they’ve done here. The illustration on the cover shows a coat, in a plaid with the raglan sleeve on the bias. Neat trick huh? This is also a great way to develop ideas for other patterns too. Think of the Minoru put out by the Sewaholic – you could do this same trick and still make a jacket/coat that works in a plaid.
image courtesies – plaid trench, plaid toggle coat, both are great examples of well-proportioned scale
Fourth rule of thumb – think scale. This directly ties in with the fabric you have in mind to be using. I’m one of those who buys fabric first and finds patterns later. Some people are the opposite. Either way is just fine, but when the two meet, make sure you consider scale. A jacket that only takes up the upper half of the body might not look so great in a really large scale plaid. However, if the pattern were for a knee length coat, a large scale plaid might be just the ticket, whereas a small scale plaid might look really overwhelming because there is so much plaid going on. Color is a good thing to keep in mind too because sometimes the scale is fine but the colors make the plaid look really…. plaid. As in too much plaid.
Last but not least, after you’ve finalized your pattern pick, start ruminating on the planning process. This might mean thinking about adding a solid color to your plaid, putting pieces on the bias, etc. I’ll be talking more about this in upcoming episodes, but its something to keep in mind. These initial stages of fabric, pattern and planning kind of all happen at once or they come in waves of inspiration. There is no wrong way to go about these stages of planning a plaid garment, but it is important that the planning happens.
If you’ve made a plaid garment, what are some things that you’ve found interesting about picking a pattern? Have you picked the wrong pattern for a plaid before? I know I have. And to keep you posted, here are the Plaid Jacket Chronicles so far:
Head of the Class – my recent plaid jacket make
a Peek into my Plaid Stash & Balanced vs. Unbalanced Plaids
Finding the Dominant Stripe
When I posted about my vintage iron (which is still kicking a$$ compared to my old Rowenta!!! jealous much?) a commenter mentioned purchasing a teflon shoe for it. I have to be honest, I’ve tried an iron teflon shoe and found it to be really…lame. But maybe I purchased the wrong one. From what I gather there are ones that are pre-made to fit certain iron dimensions (like the photo above) and adjustable ones. The prefit ones look heaps better than the adjustables, but then again, am I going to be able to find one that fits my iron and is it really worth the money? The one I tried previously is here and it was adjustable and hard to use the iron when I was ironing, as opposed to pressing. I also found it to be oddly clunky/junky, not hot enough, not steamy enough and not glide-ee enough (like gliding over the fabric like a swan on water), even with the iron turned up to the highest setting when without the shoe, it does just fine. Plus getting into corners was pretty much impossible because of the adjustable quality of the shoe. Add to all this that when I had had enough of trying the shoe out, I wadded it up and threw it into the garbage and found it had left some wonderfully awesome junk on my iron plate and if there is one thing I do loathe, its a dirty iron sole plate.
A few days ago, I was getting lost in the archives over at Fashion Incubator and she mentioned (in a post, I can’t seem to find now) that instead of using a silk organza press cloth (my go to for adhering fusible interfacing and pressing seams that shine), just use a teflon shoe for your iron. Granted, I’m pretty sure she’s talking about use with a gravity steam iron and not a standard home iron and though my vintage iron is fairly awesome, I’ve tried those gravity steam irons and there is of course, a stark difference. Still, I wouldn’t mind trying a different brand of teflon shoe, so I turn to you to see what you think. I’ll admit, I’m pretty attached to my silk organza press cloth though, but one has to keep an open mind about all things sewing, I think.
So what do you think? Do you use a teflon shoe for your iron? Any brand suggestions? What do you really think about iron teflon shoes? Yea or Nay? Jump in!
With plaid fabrics there comes the additional factor of whether or not your plaid has a dominant stripe and how that can affect the outcome of the garment you are planning. Before we jump into this concept, let’s review really quick about what we’ve covered so far. We know that plaid fabrics can be balanced (even) or unbalanced (uneven) – this, by the way, refers to whether or not the stripes make up perfect squares. You can utilize the fabric test that I showed in my last video to determine whether or not your plaid is balanced or unbalanced. This plays a role in the planning of the garment. Balanced plaids will match up easier both vertically and horizontally. Unbalanced plaids will match up either vertically or horizontally, but not necessarily both. Additionally, balanced plaids can be put either on the bias or on the straight of grain whereas often times with unbalanced plaids, the bias creates a weird effect with the plaid itself not being able to produce perfect chevrons. This of course, does not mean that you can’t break any of these rules or ideas, they are just keypoints to keep in mind as you plan.
Now onto how to find the dominant stripe. This can be easy and tricky, again, depending on the plaid fabric you are using. First of all, how do you find the dominant stripe? Fold out your fabric so that you can view a wide area of it and then take a step back. Some say that if you squint at the fabric when you look at it from a distance the dominant stripe will jump out at you. Usually I can see it without squinting, but if that helps you, definitely do it. Let’s take a look at a plaid that would have an easily identifiable dominant stripe. The tartan above is pretty easy to identify. Its that white stripe. Kind of crazy how that thin white stripe is the one that jumps out at you first, but its true. That red stripe makes a close second, but still its the white stripe that takes the cake.
Now what about a plaid that has a harder to identify dominant stripe? Let’s go back to my recent plaid jacket fabric. This plaid is very interesting because I see both the red and yellow stripes as the dominant. The red has the added white stripe running through it and if you know anything about weaving, you’ll know that you have to be careful with yellow because it shows up really well in whatever you use it in. So in this instance, I decided to use both stripes as one dominant stripe.
Now what about in the example of this windowpane plaid? Does this fabric have a dominant stripe? Technically, those white windowpanes are the dominant, yet the scale and proportion of this plaid makes it so that it really doesn’t matter. You’ll definitely see what I mean in the coming lessons, but in this instance the planning of the garment would be based solely on matching the plaids and not on where the plaids are positioned on the body. The fabric I’ve chosen to use for my next plaid jacket is also a windowpane plaid. Does it have a dominant stripe or does it matter that it does? I’ve decided that though the windowpane is dominant and since its a larger windowpane, I’ll worry about the placement of the stripes, but not to the same extent that I did on my previous jacket make.
Knowing whether your plaid is balanced or unbalanced and what the dominant stripe is, if there is one will definitely affect how you plan the plaid which I’ll go over in upcoming installments of the Plaid Jacket Chronicles. Hopefully this gives you more clarification, rather than confuses the living daylights out of you. These principles aren’t really hard to understand, but stacked up against other plaids you’ll find the world of sewing plaids a little more complex than it may appear. Just focus on your plaid and apply what I’ve gone over here to your fabric.
What do you all think about plaid fabrics so far? I think if you just focus on one at a time, you start feeling a little more comfortable with these tricky fabrics. There is so much variety though! Even just doing my own research for these little episodes (or should I say webisodes?) was crazy interesting and kind of…. vast. Lots and lots of plaids out there.
Also, here are all the Plaid Jacket Chronicles webisodes in order, so far:
Head of the Class – my recent plaid jacket make
a Peek into my Plaid Stash & Balanced vs. Unbalanced Plaids
Today, for fun, I thought I would share some of my plaid fabrics with you. There are so many plaids out there (much more than I’m showing here, just so ya know) and rather than go into a discourse on what plaid is this and what plaid is that, I thought why not just share the plaids I have and love. I have several that you may not even know exist and some that are kind of simple and basic. All are special to me in their own right and many are ear-marked for specific projects. So, here goes!
Some of you have talked about Tartans and I have a few. The saying goes, all tartans are plaids but not all plaids are tartans so calling all plaids “tartans” is technically not correct. Tartans have Scottish origins and they are pretty much awesome plaids. My recent plaid jacket make was a tartan. These plaids are rich with history and they are fun to read about and interesting to work with. Additionally, the methods for using tartans are pretty awesome in their own right especially as concerns kiltmaking. Scotland is actually a great starting point for plaid fabric searches too. If you are unaware of Harris Tweed, you should become acquainted. I’ve not purchased a full length of Harris Tweed yet, but the fabrics and saturated colors speak for themselves. Just another resource to tantalize you!
Ever encountered a texturized plaid before? I don’t see these fabrics very often, if ever, but I have two pieces – one is a kelly green (isn’t it to die for?) and the other is a perfect fall plum color. Both have a raised texture in the form of a plaid as the plaid. Interesting eh? These are both earmarked for jackets, though I’m considering making a skirt out of the plum piece. Both are wool and both are pretty much insanely fabulous. Am I right or am I right?
I do have a fondness for nubby wool fabrics and so when I saw this tomato-ee red wool blend boucle, I could not pass it up. Its a plaid too – a very subtle plaid, but its there (much more evident in real life). It has cellophane fibers in it which gives it a little sparkle and it is very special. Its ear-marked for a Chanel style cardigan jacket which may or may not be in the works as I type….
Windowpane plaid. This is one of only a few balanced plaid fabrics I have (scroll down for the video on how to determine if your plaid is balanced or unbalanced and what that means) and its a rayon challis. Its a vintage piece that I picked up at a thrift store and I’m thinking about pimping it as a button up shirt at some point.
This next piece is pretty amazing. Its a Linton Tweed. Yup. I have one. Linton Tweed is based out of the UK (those British Isles definitely know what’s what about plaids) and this is apparently a fish tail plaid. It’s pretty superb, I have to admit and I’m not sure exactly what I have planned for it, but it will be simply wonderful. Linton Tweed was used quite a bit by Chanel for her famous Chanel jackets and their site boasts some pretty lovely boucles, tweeds, plaids and woolens, in general.
Finally, here is the plaid that I’ll be using for my next plaid jacket. Of all of the plaids I’ve mentioned here, this is probably the one with the least amount of history. It was, of all things, a Joann fabric find and is surprisingly, 100% wool. I found it in the sale bin years and years ago. Probably one of my very first plaid fabrics. I’ve always wanted to make a jacket out of it and this year, I finally decided that its just got to happen. Its the perfect burnt orange color for my complexion and will make a striking fall number. It too, is a windowpane plaid and has a subtle chocolate, yellow and green stripe running through it on a tweed background. I’ll think you’ll find what I have planned for it interesting as I don’t have very much of this fabric.
Last, but not least is a video for you about balanced and unbalanced plaids and what that all means. I noticed in my last post with a video that when my post was emailed to me, it did not include the video, so I’ll be including all the link info for videos from now on. To view this video on Vimeo, click here. Otherwise, you can watch it below.