Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Double Sided Wool Jacket

Happy Thanksgiving Eve, to those of you who celebrate the U.S. holiday.

I am as happy as a pig in slop to be at the beginning of a 5-day vacation! Not to mention that DD2 returned last night from university in Minnesota. As soon as she got off the plane, she was waxing about the joys of feeling warm air all around your body. I don't think of San Francisco as being "warm" much of the time, but it just goes to show how it's all relative. Though I think you can see that she is not unhappy with her new Joan of Arctic boots from Sorel.

Back in Minnesota... (where it's been snowing already)

If you follow the Britex blog, you'll see that I've completed another project, my last one for 2014. This time, I started with a 100% wool from the Mid/Light Weight category:

Midweight Reversible Navy & Teal Wool

In the description, they call this a "midweight reversible wool", but I would characterize it as more lightweight. I love reversible fabrics, and I love navy and teal—I've been sewing more with these colors lately—so I jumped on this fabric almost immediately.

Some of my pics show the teal side as more of a blue teal, but it is more of a green teal, as shown in the photo on the Britex site.

This is one gorgeous fabric. I machine washed and dried a sample: It did not change character or hand. It might have shrunk a bit—I didn't think to check. The sample did fray beautifully, which surprised me, as the fabric was not particularly ravel-y to begin with. But I made sure that I serged the edges of the yardage before subjecting it to the washer and dryer, as I was not going for a frayed-edge look this time.

I found this fabric very easy to sew and wanted to make use of the fact that it was reversible. There is no pattern available for this jacket, as I used a pattern, borrowed from a friend, that was traced off of an actual Issey Miyake Plantation jacket from the early 1990s.

Single welt pockets. The sleeves fold back to reveal the teal.

I love Issey Miyake designs, but they don't always love me. The original jacket was rather boxy, long, with dropped sleeves, and no internal seaming, other than the shoulders. (In other words, the original jacket had the loose fit with dropped sleeves typical of that time.) It features a "fold back", soft lapel—finished with mitered edges—that is sewn into the shoulder seam. This fold-back lapel is my favorite feature of the design.

I made lots of changes to the original pattern. I added center back and side seams, and introduced some shaping in those seams. I reshaped the armscye and swapped in another sleeve that has a more traditional sleeve cap. This turned out to be tricky, as I muslined the sleeve at least 5 times and I think it could use more tinkering.

I reshaped the hem—it's shorter in back, but dips to the original length in front. I re-shaped the front lapel, narrowing it so that I could raise the armscye—I also changed the angle of the lapel so that it "broke" (turned back) in a more flattering (lower down) location, creating a more vertical line.

The side seams, CB seam, and sleeve seams are flat felled

Don't you just love flat felling the seam on a one-piece sleeve?

Yes, that was sarcasm. ;)

I swapped out the welt pockets for my own welt pocket, as I no longer had the room to accommodate the original vertical, two-lipped, welt pocket with a large, very Miyake, pocket bag.

So, yes, this one required a lot of changes!


This was a fun (and challenging) exercise! I do think I will use this lapel again, but I might just transfer it onto another TnT (tried 'n true) pattern. And I highly recommend this beautiful fabric!

Thanks to Britex for providing the fabric and thread!

And thanks to mem for taking these pics!

Monday, November 17, 2014

In Search of a Miyake - Vogue 2126

Edited on 11/18/2014:

Thanks so much to Rhonda Buss! She has been able to help Anne Marie out!

I agree that it would be fabulous if Vogue would re-issue these classic Miyake patterns from the 80s, but I don't think that will ever happen. For one thing, they would have to renegotiate the contract with those who are running the current Miyake design house and I think that it is just not feasible, more's the pity. It's really great when people can work out a sharing situation. Thanks again, Rhonda!

A sewing pal, Anne Marie of le mani d'oro, is in search of an out-of-print Issey Miyake pattern (from 1998) to sew a dress for a very special event.

She is happy to buy, or rent, this pattern (in an XS-S-M) for a reasonable price.

If you can help, please contact her through her blog post.

I was busy sewing this weekend, but have nothing to show you quite yet.

Have a great week!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Tech Tip: Resizing Images

One thing that can drive me a bit batty is loading a page with a lot of images and those images draw very slowly. Watch the images slowly render... cachunka, cachunka, cachunka.


Especially because all of that extra resolution is completely wasted.

So I thought I'd offer some tips on how to resize your images to make them more online friendly. Please let me know if this post is of interest to you, as I have ideas for other posts of this type.


Generally, slow image rendering happens when a picture is saved at a much higher resolution than is needed. You can greatly improve the performance of loading a page if you reduce the size of your images so that they are closer to the resolution that you need, and not a lot more.

(Note that this info is also useful for emailing images. It's much better to size an image down so that it fits into a mail window, rather than sending a huge picture that is impossible to see without opening it into another app.)

There are two ways to change the size of an image. You can:

  • Reduce the default resolution in your camera—This means that the pictures that your camera takes will have a smaller file size. More of them will fit onto your camera memory card, and they will will upload faster to your computer.
  • Reduce the resolution in post production—after you have uploaded your images to your computer.

I don't use the first option. I want my photos at the highest resolution. For example, if Vogue Patterns ever comes calling and wants to feature you in their Star Blogger column, you need print resolution, which is much higher resolution than is required for online images. For this reason, before I alter an image, I make a copy of it. I never alter the original image, in case I need it later at the highest resolution.

My camera is a Canon Digital Rebel Ti3, which takes images at very high resolution. My computer is a Macbook Pro, so I will explain how to modify the resolution of your images using a tool available, for free, on any Mac. (But I include a link to info for those of you who are using Windows.)

The following screenshot shows the info for the original image of my Fly London shoes. You can see this info if you select the image in the Finder and then select File > Get Info (command-I).

As you can see, the original image, at 72 DPI (screen resolution is 72 DPI), is SEVEN-POINT-SEVEN MEGABYTES and it is 5184 pixels by 3186 pixels. That is a big file. Imagine a page full of 7.7 MB images. It's very slow for the browser to load all of those huge images and all of that extra resolution is completely wasted. You don't need it. Most laptops, for example, are somewhere around 2000 pixels across by 1200 pixels high. So an image that is over 5000 pixels across is serious overkill.

So, how do you decrease the resolution and what resolution do you decrease it to?

Resizing Images

On the Mac, you can change the resolution of an image using Preview. (Here are instructions using Paint for Windows.)

  1. Open a copy of the image in Preview, which is an app included on every Mac.
  2. Select Tools > Adjust Size... This brings up a window:
  3. To the right of the Width and Height text fields, select Pixels. (I prefer to work in pixels, rather than percentages, where you are guessing about the number of pixels.)
  4. Make sure that Scale proportionally and Resample image are both checked. "Scale proportionally" means that you only have to enter one dimension, such as the width, and it will alter the height to maintain the same aspect ratio. "Resample image" means that you want the file to be modified. If you don't check this it will not actually make the file any smaller, but will only alter the header information.
  5. Enter the desired pixel width in the Width field. I usually change the width to 400 pixels. The maximum image width that Blogger likes is 400 pixels, at least for the template that I use. Any wider and the image (at full size) starts to creep into the sidebar.
  6. To see what this image will look like at its maximum size, select View > Actual Size (command-0). Is the image still too big? You can resize it further. View > Zoom to Fit (command-9) will fit the image into the Preview window.
  7. Save the file and exit Preview.

For comparison, examine the modified image using Get Info:

As you can see, the modified image is 98 KB, which is, approximately, ONE TENTH of a megabyte, or .098 MB. This is SEVENTY EIGHT TIMES smaller than the original image. It will render much more quickly.

Drawing an image at different sizes

Now, let's say that you want to draw your image at a specific size without making the image smaller. For example, I save copies of my images at 400 pixels wide, but I might want to post them on another website at an even smaller size. Maybe I want to display an image at 200 pixels, or 288 pixels. You can make a copy of the image and re-size it, as I describe above, but I typically don't. In this situation, you can just display an image at a smaller size without modifying the actual pixels. (Drawing a 400 pixel image at 200 pixels is not going to greatly impact performance of the browser, unless there are a lot of them.)

Most photo sites, such as Picasa, let you select a pixel size for displaying an image.

When you select one of these sizes, Picasa is not actually changing the size of the image file. It is providing you with a snippet of HTML code that tells the browser at what size it should display the image. Here is a sample of HTML code for displaying an image:

<img src="" height="267" width="400" />

Let me break this down a bit.

To display an image in HTML (which is the language of the web), you specify the following:

<img src="location of the file on the web" />

That's the bare minimum you need for displaying a picture. For example, say you want to display an image from the BMV website. You can go to the BMV website, and find a page that contains the picture you want to display. For example, go this page, right click over the image on the page, and select Copy image location. The location of that picture is now in your copy/paste buffer.

You can replace the "location of the file on the web" text, so that the HTML snippet looks like this:

<img src="" />

When you paste this snippet of HTML into the browser page that you are editing and update it, you will see this:

But this HTML displays the image at its maximum size. To display an image at a smaller size, you can add width and/or height attributes, like this:

<img src="location of the file on the web" width="number of pixels" height="number of pixels" />

(You can specify the dimensions in pixels or as percentages, but I'm using pixels here.)

So, if I add the following to the HTML snippet:

<img src="" width="100" />

I only specified the width (of 100 pixels), because a browser is smart enough to calculate a height that will maintain the same aspect ratio. The image will now display like this:

Maybe I want to try it at 288 pixels wide:

<img src="" width="288" />

Which looks like:

You can display an image at any size that you want, so long as it's the same size or smaller than the actual image. Trying to display an image at a larger size than the actual image will only result in a blurry mess. The browser can't add pixels that aren't there.

I hope this isn't as clear as mud. :)

I am spending the weekend on detail work: making pockets, and hand sewing. I'm a happy camper, and maybe I'll have something to show next week.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Funkalicious Skirt - Vogue 9060

Happy November, everyone!

We are really into autumn now, for the most part. I love the crisp weather, and we even had some much needed rain on Halloween, but I could use a tad less blinding sunshine. It makes taking photos more difficult, and it keeps my office, with its south-eastern exposure, much too warm.

The Sun! It burns!
(But look at that cool textured ponte!)

I worked only half a day on Halloween and I felt that some quick sewing was in order with my remaining free time. I decided to whip up Marcy Tilton's new skirt, Vogue 9060, using a textured black ponte with a lovely drape.

I finished the skirt by bedtime. This is a very quick sew!

This skirt features a contrasting yoke in two widths—both are sewn in a double layer. I chose the narrow width, and I used a remnant of black rayon lycra jersey for the yoke. It is a very stretchy fabric. I made the skirt in a size medium and made zero changes to it. A medium (size 10-12) is designed for a 25" to 26-1/2" waist. My waist is considerably larger at 38", but I decided to make use of the negative ease, so I cut the medium.

Oops, I forgot to take off my badge!

This becomes important later.

The skirt does not call for any elastic and, because my waist is so much larger than what the pattern specifies, I made it without elastic.

I tried it on and it felt great. Snug but not uncomfortably so.

I wore it to work today so that mem could take some photos. (There was far too much harsh sunshine at my house this weekend.)

ALL day this skirt has been sliding down. More than once, I have almost flashed my colleagues at work.

I plan to add elastic before I wear this skirt again. I noticed that Marcy also added elastic when she made this up.

But this is a slight quibble with an otherwise excellent pattern, because I love this skirt!


P.S. Note that I am 5'5". This skirt does not contain lines showing where you can shorten/lengthen. I'm sure it can be done in a non-linear way, but I didn't try to puzzle it out. You can make the version with the wider waistband for more length, unless you want to wear the waistband folded over. But adding length to the top of the skirt might be the easiest thing to do.

For the last several weeks I've been working on a (non-sewing-related) project in my home. This is contributing to my reduced sewing output, but I am making slow progress on my cape. It didn't help that I added features to the cape that take longer, but I hope to have it done in another week or two!

Thanks, mem!