Thursday, August 14, 2008

Shannon Gifford's Stitch and Flip Method and the Loes Hinse Milano Jacket

I recently had the pleasure of taking Shannon Gifford’s Stitch-and-Flip Jacket Construction class at, and boy was that both fun and informative.

After wasting weeks agonizing over which pattern to use (my only TNT pattern being the Advance jacket below, which is not well suited to the technique), I settled uneasily on the Loes Hinse Milano Jacket. I include that "uneasily" part because her sizing is so different from the Big4 and Advance sizing, and I’ve only sewn with Big4 type of sizing below. So I did a few uneducated flat pattern measurements, wrestled my fears to the ground, took a stab into the barely illuminated dark, and went for a combination of XS-S sizing.

Shannon emphasizes the need to make a muslin. It’s in her SNF class notes, and it’s there at the bottom of every email she sends. Staring me in the face. But I was short on time, did a tissue fitting, all looked well, and I proceeded to boldly cut out my fashion fabric (ff) and proceed with this lovely technique. The rest of this entry is in the format of a PR review, which is not yet finished. I’m posting it to get feedback from a few key people (thanks Mom), and I’ll post finished pics ASAP.

Loes Hinse Designs Pattern No. 8002 Milano Jacket PR Review

Pattern Description: Fitted princess line jacket with 7 vertical seams. View A has a two part sleeve. View B has a bell sleeve with elastic. Bust ease is 3”, hip is 5”.

Pattern Sizing: Petite through Plus (XXS, XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL), I used a combination of XS and S, mostly S.

I typically use a size 12 in the Big 4, with a ½” FBA for a C cup adjustment, ½” sway back adjustment, and ½” upper wide back adjustment (but size 10 shoulders in front, working on getting this right).

For this Milano pattern, I started by tracing XS in the shoulders to S at the bottom of the armscye. I then tried to avoid doing an FBA by incorporating the ½” bust increase suggested in FFRP on the pattern pieces joining the center front and center side seams in the bust area. Unfortunately, this is not a true princess seam in that it doesn’t go over the bust point, so I should have done a real FBA. The final picture on me will tell the story, but right now it looks a bit odd. Maybe I’ll fill things out, I have outgrown my dress form. Sadly.

Fabric Used: A rayon/polyester/lycra (“RPL”) that ended up beefier than I expected so it does not drape as elegantly as I had hoped for. This is a common problem of mine. Fabrics that look fine to me on the bolt almost always ended up being too heavy for the garment. I hope to improve my eye for this as I continue to sew.

Here are the recommended fabrics per Loes Hinse: Wool, rayon, velvet, raw silk, microfiber, linen, double knits, fleece, boucle, and blends. I probably should order fabric directly from per Loes’ recommendations until I develop a better eye for fabric/pattern matching. Wow, there are some beautiful sweater knit fabrics on that site, must resist.

Here are the recommended notions: 1 pair shoulder pads measuring 6 x 3 ½ x 5/8” (15 x 9 1.5 cm). 1 strip of Velcro 5” (12 cm). One button measuring 1”. View B 28 inches of 1” wide elastic. Hmmmm, what is the Velcro for? I missed that in the instructions. Maybe for attaching the covered shoulder pads? I haven’t gotten to that point yet. The pattern includes pieces for covering the recommended shoulder pads.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? The lines look the same, but my RPL fabric was not as softly drapey as the beautiful cream pattern photo. Next time, I’ll make it with one of the recommended fabrics. This time was for fit and for use during Shannon Gifford’s latest Jacket Stitch and Flip class at PR. Seven vertical seams! Lots of practice with the SNF technique, although it is very easy to learn under Shannon’s tutelage.

As noted above, I have two sewing shortcomings: fit and appropriate fabric choices. Not minor issues. The problems that I had with my jacket are related to one or the other of these shortcomings, certainly not the pattern design itself, the pattern instructions, or Shannon’s SNF technique. Really, I’m happy with how the jacket is shaping up when I see it on my dress form. It’s when I slip it on me that I get all sad, especially when I compare it to the elegant cream jacket on the pattern folder.

In an effort to address these areas, my first photo shows the unhemmed jacket with Nancy Erickson’s thicker shoulder pads with little caps.

At first I thought the jacket hung better on my dress form than with the much thinner crescent shaped pads that I had on hand. But after putting on the jacket, I realized that the bigger pads were trying to make the jacket into something it is not.

The first picture, with the hem done, shows it on my dress form with the thinner pads pinned to the form. I now think these are better but not quite right. I just got some NU-Foam at Joann's experiment with making shoulder pads per Shannon's bonus instructions. This is one of the reasons every project take me so long: every step is a learning process.

Doesn’t the hemmed jacket look better after I put a brassiere on my dress form? And a little cotton shell. Please ignore the color differences, neither is quite right. I'll work on that with the final jacket shots.

Another thing I noticed after looking at the unhemmed photo is that, even though I hemmed the sleeves by only catching the interfacing, those catch stitches shone through the right side as little bumps. I had to shorten the sleeves anyway, so I removed the fusible interfacing (as much as I could) and this time followed Shannon’s bagging technique to the letter, just attaching the 2” sleeve hem at the seam lines on the inside. This was in two places. I may experiment on scraps with a double-sided fusible ¼” tape just to make sure that things don’t move around, but it looks much better now. All of the interfacing standards go out the window when making an LH jacket, one of the reasons why I used this pattern for the SNF class even though I didn’t have time to make a muslin, as Shannon very strongly recommends. She’s right!

Yet another thing that I didn’t like in the unhemmed jacket photo was how the sleeve cap fabric looked puckery, due to the rippling of the seam allowance material underneath (it was pressed towards the sleeve cap).

I tried a bit of steam shrinking per Bobbi Carr’s DVD; it worked beautifully for Bobbi, who was using an all wool sleeve to demonstrate, but RPL has far less shaping possibility. It look just a tiny bit better afterwards, but still bumpy.

Then I remembered that Shannon had some instructions for basting in a sleeve head (there are all these little extra tips in a Shannon Gifford class). And I remembered that I had found and bought some beautiful lambswool (cream and black) at Greenberg & Hammer in NYC this June, so I tried that. Beautiful! I’m not sure if I’m doing it the right way, but it sure made a big difference.

This works beautifully with the sleeve bagging method of the SNF technique, all of the lambswool and seam allowances will be safely covered in the final project, only the shoulder pad with be outside the lining. And that’s okay, because I can change it if needed, or even remove it entirely if I wear the jacket with a blouse that already has a shoulder pad.

Here's the lambswool, very neat stuff, I ended up using two layers:

The pattern calls for one 1” button, and I thought for awhile that one was not enough. Now I’m leaning back in that direction. Any thoughts? Please take a look above at the jacket with one button pinned to the front, and the shot below with two buttons pinned. I'm leaning in the direction of one button, per the pattern envelope pic. Loes knows best.

Here is a picture of part of the inside with the SNF lining and a Hong Kong finish around the facing. I need to finish the sleeve bagging by handstitching the top of the sleeve lining to the armhole (Shannon has given me some tips on how to do that) and another row of blind hem stitches around the Hong Kong seam at the hem. Make the buttonhole (maybe two, one for each side so that I can interchange buttons via the "cuff link" method), then I'm done.

P.S. My mother likes one button too. She and Loes are like this (fingers twisted together visual). Unless I hear strong protests, one button it is.


Peggy L said...

Elle - I like your jacket! Don't be so hard on yourself. The model on the cover is Loes' daughter so Loes knows exactly how to fit her. I did my FBA just like you and it was only semi-successful. Loes' jacket are all unlined so when we choose to line them we change things a little. I just like to have the insides of jackets look more finished. RPL just doesn't mold like wool. One button or two? Up to you!! I like both looks. I chose one unique looking button for mine. Just remember "everything you make is a learning process". I've been sewing for years and that still holds true. My other little tip - if you are underwhelmed when you finish a project hang it in the closet for a week or two and then get it back out. Most of the time you won't remember what bothered you so much!

Elle said...

Peggy, thanks for looking and commenting, you made me feel so much better. And thanks for your very informative post at PR! I knew it wasn't just me when it came to setting in those pesky sleeves.

dawn said...

Nice job with the jacket. It is amazing what a sleeve head will do, isn't it? The fabric you chose is not an easy one for a jacket with a set in sleeve!

I like the one button too.

Mary Beth said...

Hi Elle: I've sent you a couple of emails about your question left at The Stitchery. Hope this jacket is shaping up for you! It looks good. Any troubles you may be having with it are probably due to the fabric. Wool is loved by tailors for that very reason.

paco peralta said...

.- Hi Elle, thanks for your comment on my blog .... days ago that I wanted to reply and say hello to you.

Best wishes and see you soon, Paco