Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Simple Simon Met a Pie Man...Going to School


Lettie Lane's Green Sweater School Set
Labor Day is just around the corner, and summer is nearing its end. Thoughts of trees turning gold and red, leaves wisping to the ground as little breezes pick up are so welcome and looked forward to. I, for one, adore the autumn season, and this little outfit seems to be just the thing Lettie needs for returning to school. While I can sit back now and enjoy how sweet these photos come out, I will be quite honest in that I need a break from plaid and pleats. Also, I will have to preface that this was not necessarily an outfit I would have chosen to make just for me. However, now that it is done, and in triplicate!, I enjoyed the process of puzzling this one out.

Looking like a little Scot!

Let's talk about the sweater jacket. Initially I thought to make it up in an interlock knit. I learned very quickly that this wouldn't do because the fabric was too light weight and had too much stretch. We can often fool ourselves thinking in terms of knits. I thought this to be a sweater, therefore thinking knit, but close observation of the illustration proved it to be a jacket with cuffs and a collar. What I found was a "cashmere" cotton men's shirt in XL and used this for the fabric. This was some of the nicest fabric I've even sewn with and if I could have found another in a S, I would have bought it to use as a light hiking jacket for myself. The 100% cotton and coziness of it made you think of a luxurious blanket.

The facing with the collar in between.

This was not the way to do it!
Again, I had to fuss with how to attach the collar. I recall from a conversation with the seamstress that got me started, that collars could be put on a variety of ways, and so I tried attaching it without a lining thinking a lining of the same fabric would be too bulky. Dead wrong. This was not something a mock up would have told me, and so I began again. Instead of giving the sweater jacket a full lining (and I didn't have a tafetta to work with), I created a facing that worked beautifully for it. This was one of my most successful facings, and I learned a great deal from drawing it and assembling the pieces. I keep trying to fool myself that we can sometimes get away with not having a full lining or facing, and this just isn't so.

A look at the little back.
The skirts gave me lots of trouble this time. Yes, I've pleated many a time, but when you're pleating plaids like these, the squares are sometimes more rectangular, and the lines might repeat in spaces further away from the neat little pleats you want to create. So I worked with these pleats for three days until I got the look I wanted. Even though I've been gathering the waist after the pleating for a fuller look, for some reason these skirts did not want to behave and I couldn't get the pleats to match in the back. This was quite frustrating and waistbands had to keep being remade. And, of course, to add into this challenge, I had to make one for the 10.5" Bleuette-sized doll. This meant going back out and finding new, and smaller patterned flannel to work with. What I had on hand was plaid silk dupioni! For this I used men's sleep trousers. Honestly, men's clothing has the best plaids. The larger skirts are a heavier flannel that I bought by the yard, but I just couldn't find suitable yardage for the smaller skirt.

With the Bleuette-sized one.

The buttons were also a challenge with these sweater jackets. Due to the weight of the fabric, using the metal cap and bottoms Dritz provides didn't work too well. It worked for the 1/2" covered buttons, but not the 7/16". What I did there was cut out little circles, gather stitch along the edges and pull tight and tack. I noticed that Tonner Doll Company did this for their NYCB costumes, so I thought, why not me? Bleuette's little sweater jacket went through three button renditions. The first was that I was off a mm in the row. Off they came. Then I got them stitched in the right place, but didn't like the beads I used. Off they came! I found little stone beads in a Hallmark store and they worked perfectly. There's a well known motto around my little hole in the wall that anything worth doing once, is worth doing three times. And, so it seems to have been a theme with this project.

Lastly, and the most fun of all, was making the hats. No surprise there! I used a Bleuette sailor hat pattern and intended to add a band like the pattern called for, but didn't like the look. It was not true to the illustration. The hat is essentially like a pie. A whole bottom, a top with a hole in it, and edged with a facing. Making three of them was like making little round tarts. I call them my Pie Hats.

During the next couple of days we are making tubs of applesauce to freeze for winter, as the trees are dropping pears and apples as this is their harvest time. By this weekend I'll be drafting patterns for Halloween costumes. Costumes! My favorite. Halloween and costuming. By the way, the Martha Stewart Halloween Handbook issue is on the racks now. Don't miss it!

Miss E. Mouse


Times Three

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