Friday, August 22, 2014

It all came to a screeching halt!

I was merrily going along, sewing my cardigan jacket, unsewing my blue top at the ruching, and thinking I was going to have several garments done in a weekend. I had even traced off my new Bootstraps Fashion crop pants pattern, (evidently the same as Lekala but at 3 times the price) and another McCalls blouse for muslins.

BAM! The best of intentions... somehow, why I don't know, my Pfaff, that always makes perfect buttonholes messed up on the second one. Yes, the one right at bust level that is impossible to miss seeing. My friend had just had this happen not too long ago, and I had smugly said that never happened with my machine. Wham! Karma bites me on the butt.

I have to say removing sewn buttonholes is one of my worst nightmares even in easy to work with fabrics. This silk chiffon was a whole 'nother story! I spent at least a part of every night for a week trying to tease the buttonhole out of the shirt. In the evenings after a long day of typing numbers it becomes problematic to get my eyes to function.

Yesterday I had a partial day off. I spent one hour and 20 minutes sitting in bright sunshine, 80 plus degree weather with my glasses plus a jeweler's magnifying headband holding the fabric almost against my nose, and a seam ripper, tweezers, and tailor's point scissors, trying to get the entire thing removed without tearing holes in the fabric. I did get a few minor pulls, but I don't think it will be noticeable in this busy pattern, thank goodness. And it's done. But it was exhausting. I MAY have been stressing about this a bit. :P}}

After that, I was kind of off sewing for the afternoon. Did some shopping with the hubby and then in the evening worked a little on the ruched top, sewed a piece of silk for a scarf, and then the day was done for me. I'm hoping to have multiple things to show for my weekend of sewing.

I think I'm going to use a stabilizer on the back of the fabric for the buttonholes. From what I can tell, after sewing the first leg of the buttonhole, instead of moving to the side for the second, the second was sewn right on top of the first. That made it horrendous to take out.

If you read this and have suggestions on buttonholes in silk georgette, please leave a comment.

I'm also going to put together a small tutorial on making custom shoulder pads. If, like me, you have unusual shoulders, custom is the way to go, and it's easy!

More later!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Have to retool a bit, but I like it just the same!

I finished up the Sangria knock off over the weekend, but didn't get any photos until Monday. It's not an epic fail, but it needs a bit of tweaking to get it just right.

Here's the hanger shot:

As I said before, this is a really light weight tissue rayon jersey from Girl Charlee.

Things I love:
1. the color is spot on. This has been lightened a bit to show the insert, but it's a glorious royal blue. 
2. The fit is good. 
3. I love the way the rayon jersey turns into cowl type folds instead of the more staid and fitted look of the original. 
4. It's really comfortable to wear.

Things I don't love:
1. The way the center piece hangs way below the hem line. I really don't need pooling around my abundant and bodacious belly! LOL
2. It was almost impossible to do the hems and make them look nice. If you look closely, you will see that one sleeve hem is done by machine, and the other is hand sewn. 

Thoughts for the next one: stop the ruching about 4-5 inches below the hem, or pleat the interior instead of gathering. Definitely make the seam allowances on that piece wider to give some room to work on it. 

So it has been set aside for some breathing room for a few days while I work on the first version of the cardigan jacket out of the Georgette fabric that I want to use for my summer topper. 

I am contemplating the best way to fix that droop at the front and have come to the conclusion that the only way to do it is to remove the hem, reopen the sewn and serged seams from about 6" up, and remove the final 5 or 6 inches of the ruching, then re-hem. It's not going to be fun to take the stitching out of this as the color of the thread is almost a perfect match for the fabric and it's so drapey that it's hard to remove the stitching without cutting the fabric. BIG SIGH. 

But I believe the top will be worth the work! 

Moving ahead, I'm working on a "jacket" out of a Georgette. Not sure whether it's silk or a blend. It's OLD stash fabric, probably purchased back in the 80's from the old Natural Fiber Fabrics club. I'm using my modified cardigan jacket pattern, and this will be the first "wearable muslin" after all my alterations to the actual muslins. I'm keeping my fingers crossed on this one. It's the first time I've sewn anything out of Georgette and it's a bear to mark the darts. I'm hoping they come out looking right instead of sideways. :P}}

A sneak peak at the fabric, which will be a workhorse in my wardrobe:

It's got almost every color of my core wardrobe in there. Hard to see in this swatch, but it has navy, dark brown, taupe, black, cream, gray, and even a bit of yellow in there. I'm hoping it will turn out well as it would be nice for a topper over a tee in the really warm temps, and give me the professional look without the typical "glow" I endure from summer through the middle to end of October!

Hope your sewing is going well!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

How to add ruching to your tee shirt front! Picture heavy!

Just wanted to show you how I did this. I'm not a professional pattern maker, and make no claims to doing this the "right way" but this is the way I did it. 

This is my take on a ruched front tee shirt. I'm leaving the sleeves alone as I don't need any excess bulk on my upper arms. My inspiration is the Bresnan Studios Sangria tee shirt shown in the previous post. 

I knew I could do this with a Franken-Pattern from my much altered Pamela's Perfect Tee shirt and my much altered LJ Designs Ala Mode Margarita top. But I needed to figure out what proportions I wanted for the center piece. I have a very light weight tissue rayon jersey to use, so knew it should fall in soft folds without too much bulk. I waffled and pondered and thought, and then talked to Dale about it and showed him the “inspiration” picture. I was initially thinking I needed a 1 1/2:1 ratio for the center piece, but he thought it looked like more 2:1, so that’s what I went with. He's much more visual than I am, and as a finish carpenter, he really gets proportions. 

Here's my much altered Pamela's Perfect Tee Shirt Bodice Front piece. Because I use it so much, it's been copied onto Poster Board, rabbit punched, and hangs on a pattern hanger for easy access. 

I made a new copy of the PPTS top, adding ¼” seam allowances past the part where I mocked up the center princess line. Then I copied off the center front at the width I wanted with a ¼” seam allowance, trying to keep the proportions and nice shaping of the original Margarita top. I didn't go ahead and make it into a full princess shirt by incorporating the darts into the princess line because I like the side darts on a tee shirt for better shaping over the bustline. 

After that, I measured the center piece, and marked it in 1” increments. When we were in Flat Pattern classes, I remember Lyra showing us how to do this on something else. You actually cut apart your main pattern piece, and add the additional pattern paper at intervals the entire length of the new enlongated pattern piece so it maintains the shaping, and just gets longer for the ruching. 

This took FOREVER to do! Using various scraps left over from other drafting projects, I made a really long piece of pattern paper, and drew in the center front line straight for just under 40 inches. Then starting at the bottom, I marked it in 1” increments. Next I took my cut pieces from the pattern and taped them to the new piece, with 1” separating the original pieces until I had the whole thing done. It's roughly twice as long as the original piece. You can see my tissue jersey in the background, the original center piece and my elongated center piece before trimming and final taping in the front. . 

Before trimming and finish taping

Ready to cut out of fabric

If you decide to do this, you will need some planning of your cutting layout. I hadn’t thought about it being on the fold, and had left enough yardage for 40" in length, but not enough for the width, so the center piece wound up getting cut on the cross grain instead. Thank goodness for horizontal and vertical stretch in the jersey fabric!

It's in my sewing room now awaiting construction. Next post will hopefully show the finished garment!

I keep a big bag of paper scraps from other drafting projects for alterations. It never seems to diminish because very time I use some, I have more left from a new project. It was really nice to be able to pull out pieces for my alterations. 

My lovely friend Kathleen pointed me towards this blog post. It's about infinite lists. It's a lovely freeing thought to be able to let go of all the "shoulds" because they will always be there ad infinitum and allow that everything on your to do list will still be there infinitely whether or not you take an hour or two to feed your soul and do creative things on your "want to do" list.

I hope you take some time to do your "want tos" along with your "should dos." 

More later! 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

I’m eating my words!

When I headed to Springfield, Oregon for the Sure Fit Designs week long retreat, we were instructed to bring some knit for a pair of yoga pants. I told Glenda I didn’t want to make yoga pants as I don’t wear knit pants. Haven’t ever, don’t like them, will only wear them for exercise and sleeping. Never in public. So instead of the yoga pants, I worked on my woven pants and top trying to get the fit right on those. 

BUT… I, like a lot of people, downloaded the Style Arc Barb pants pattern for free to see what the hoopla was all about. I had taped all the pieces together a while back, but didn’t get to the point of actually doing the alterations I knew I’d need, and hadn’t done anything further with it.

This week I had a midweek day off… which means I’m working all day tomorrow but that’s another story altogether. Thursday morning I set my goal of getting a pair of Barb pants made. Worst case, I can always use pajamas! I pulled out my custom draft pants to overlay to be sure I had sufficient fabric to go around me without pulling and stretching. I really don’t like tight pants on older, well-endowed behinds. :P}}

After some miscellaneous work tasks, I started with the pattern. It looked like it was going to be a pretty good fit with the exception of needing a longer piece on the back crotch curve. Got the alterations done, and cut them out. Started sewing. In less time than it took me to do the pattern alterations, I had a new pair of pants. I’m absolutely thrilled. They fit great, I wore them all day on Friday, and they were comfortable and didn’t wrinkle despite the 104 degree heat. They actually held up better than I did!

I did have to get some new elastic because my very ancient roll of elastic (10 years plus?) didn’t have much recovery left. And because by that time, I’d had them on for several hours and knew how much I liked them, I got enough elastic for a few more pair! Today I actually ordered some more rayon ponte… the good stuff… from Marcy Tilton so I can make a few more pair. I’m hooked!

Without further’s my first pair of Barb pants. I may take the next pair in a tiny bit, but overall I think it’s a great pair of work pants.

Now these are done, I'm working on a Franken-Pattern.
I love the Bresnan studios Sangria Tee shirt, but it doesn't come in my size.

So I'm trying to meld the much altered Pamela's Perfect Tee shirt with the LJ Designs Ala Mode Margarita top front. That will give me a pseudo princess line in the front to make my ruched piece. For the first incarnation, after studying the drawing, I'm going to have the center piece at a roughly 2:1 ratio. The fabric I'm using is a really light weight rayon jersey from Girl Charlee in a royal blue.  It seems like it took forever to get the pattern done and I just finished cutting out the pieces. I'm hoping to have it finished tomorrow so hopefully more pictures.

Now I'm going to get about an hours work in so hopefully my day isn't so long tomorrow.

More later!

Monday, July 21, 2014

And another pair... with a mini tutorial

I'm in sewing mode around all of the nasty allergies. It's been particularly bad this year between the drought and the wind, and everything seems to have pollen hanging all over the place.

But this weekend I actually had a clear enough head to add another pair of navy trousers to my rotation. It's a linen, and was wonderful to sew and I'm sure will be wonderful to wear. I love linen when it's hot outside.

I used my typical Don McCunn pants draft for the trousers, but with this pair I added in the David Paige Coffin in-seam pocket instead of my usual quarter pockets. A friend mentioned that the instructions in his book were confusing to her, and since they were to me too... and yes, the pockets were completed before I realized I'd not moved them in quite far enough and they would be caught in the seams effectively leaving me with no pockets. As I ripped them out and resewed, I went ahead and wrote up my own mini-tutorial on them.

I don't think I'm stepping on David Paige Coffin's toes with my tutorial. BUT... if you don't have his books, Making Trousers, and Shirtmaking, and you ever sew either, buy them! They're wonderful and give more information than you'll ever find without tons of really extensive research on the web!

Making Trousers:
It's available for Kindle but with the paperback you also get a DVD.


I've probably learned almost as much from these two books as the entire rest of my library!

So... long and picture heavy, but here goes:

Inseam pockets ala David Paige Coffin

When cutting your pants, be sure to cut a “pocket outlet piece” that extends 1 1/4” past the normal seam allowance. AKA a strip that is 5/8” past the edge of the pants with a 5/8” seam allowance by about 7 ½” long.

Interface the pocket flap to about ¼” past the pocket opening with fusible tricot or a soft interfacing.

Place pocket piece wrong side to wrong side of pants front with edge of pocket lining up with side seams. Secure in place with pins or hand baste. Mark in 1 ¼” from pocket edge towards center front, and in 5/8” from edge of flap on the pocket piece, making a cross.  

Cut along seam allowances from top and bottom of flap to 5/8” mark and then cut in to the edge of the cross mark. (5/8” inch from the edge of the pants seam allowance.) You can curve if desired as per the first photo, or just cut straight.

Sorry this one is really out of focus! 

Fold in the flap over the cut pieces. Press into place. Be sure to check that it is offset from the edge by a fat 5/8” to avoid catching it in the side seam.

Zig Zag flaps onto pocket bag only, being sure not to catch pants front in stitching.

Turn pocket to inside and press well. Topstitch along pocket edge. Press again to set stitching.

Place remaining pocket piece right side up under front piece matching waist and side seams.Flip pants front up to show pocket bags. I like to press the pocket bags flat at this point. Pin pocket bags together. Don’t worry if seams don’t align exactly.

Stitch pocket bags together. Finish seams with overlock or tight zig zag stitch. Press.

Baste pockets to side seams and waist seam. If desired, bartack pocket at top and bottom to avoid pulling apart. (This is the first time I've done this, and it looks like it to me!) 

Move on to zipper installation and finish those pants!

Hope this is helpful and you also get some amazing pants for your wardrobe plans!

More later!

Monday, July 14, 2014

It may not be as hard as before! Muslin #1

Yesterday I started my cardigan jacket draft. It has some issues. As expected.

Most notably, I had forgotten how unhappy I was with the armscye/sleeve/shoulder of my sloper. Those issues may have caused a few more issues that I was unaware might happen.

I have the shoulder seams at the right spot, but the back armholes are just wrong. They need to be altered and I'm going to have my husband mark on the fabric with a sharpie so they hit the right spot on my body. I also think the darts should be closer together than they are.

Other than not getting the bottom of the bodice front pressed correctly, and pinned, I think the front is overall okay. It will never be worn buttoned.

Excuse the hair. New haircut trying to figure out styling. Also no makeup. It was a day off. 

To me the darts on the front appear to be sited correctly. Same old, same old with the sleeves, and these were the altered ones. However, the shoulders are narrower than the last jacket, so I guess I need to add some more onto the cap. The neck is odd because I only had some really old, way too wide shoulder pads here. I have to make my own to get the size right for my body, and these weren't them! 

Side view not that bad other than the sleeve issues. I think once the darts are sited correctly on the back, that odd fold will disappear. It may be because I had not straightened it correctly. When Dale's taking pictures, I have to hurry before he gets too impatient. Someone who will spend half an hour taking a picture of a dragonfly may not be the right person for a fashion photographer. 

So I'm much more hopeful that I won't have to do a dozen muslins to get this one right.

Any input on things you see is greatly appreciated!

More later!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Have you seen the OWOP over at Handmade Jane?

For me that's an ideal concept! One week, one pattern, many garments. Check out the post at:

Since my lifestyle is pretty much set, and I wear blouses/tees with slacks and a jacket of some sort, I already pretty much do this. But since I'm still in the process of my SWAP which may not be finished before December, I thought it would be fun to just play along with others. 

As I was thinking about this during the week, I was also working on my latest tee. Identical to the last one, only royal blue instead of dark navy. Sorry the color isn't true in the photograph. You'll have to take my word for it. It's royal blue. 

I also will be making a few others from my Pamela's Perfect Tee pattern with different necklines. But basically the same shirt. And another pair of trousers, these linen in navy. Same but different than the last. 

Since I don't work in a set environment like many of you, I rarely see someone more than once, or maybe if it's a Realtor, once every few weeks or months. They don't know what I wear, and so long as I always look nice, I'm neat and clean, and my attire fits into professional clothing for my career, it's no big deal. 

I've also begun drafting a cardigan jacket. Between my Sure Fit Designs bodice sloper and the Helen Armstrong book, with the input of my blog friends and hopefully Jo Anne, I'm hoping this will be an easier process than some of the past ones. But I am willing to put in the effort to having a pattern that fits well and will become another  TNT. 

I was greatly heartened by another blog friend. She probably doesn't know I'm her blog friend, and I'm a huge admirer! Here's her blog: What made me an admirer and made me feel better about my own sewing was this post:

The first couple of sentences got me to be a lifetime fan! "I make a lot of muslins.  A lot.  I don't want to cut into my 'good' fabric until I'm satisfied with the fit.  I once made a total of nine muslins (4 of one pattern, 5 of another) for a cocktail dress.  The ninth muslin was the one that worked and I used it to produce a lovely dress for which I still get compliments when worn.  I never blogged about it; perhaps I should."

As I've been doing this, I've been thinking a lot about BeeJay's post of last week. and the comments, and this week's follow up post. 

I think most of us take random comments personally, at least part of the time. I may be self-confident about certain things, but others, or at a specific point in time, or something else that may be influencing my mood at that specific moment will cause me to get my feelings hurt, or get angry, or whatever emotion pops to the forefront at that time. Her statement follows: "The comment that had me so riled was about the lack of effort put in to their sewing by a lot of new bloggers"

As I was working on my pattern, and starting the muslin, I got myself all "het up." How could someone so randomly put a post like that out there into the blogosphere? 

How could that person know how much effort the sewist has put into that garment. Yes, it may be a basic garment. But does she know what their fitting issues might be? Does she know how many other garments were made trying to get one that worked on her body? Does she know how many muslins the person made, does she know what it's like to have a strange body every time you make a garment? And yes, it's the same body, but has changed in indefinable ways. The shirt that fit so well last time, now has strange folds going to odd places. Why is that? How can it be fixed? What alteration do I need to do to correct it? Why isn't this covered in my pattern instructions, the multitude of fitting books I own, somewhere on the internet, or in a video or anywhere I can find?  

My oldest daughter turned 49 this month. Whew! Can't believe I'm that old. But I began sewing when I was pregnant with her. For many, many years I was a self-taught sewer. I didn't know the first thing about making a muslin, understitching, clipping curves, French seams, Hong Kong finishes, lining, or even interfacing quality and that there was more than one type. If it didn't tell me on the pattern envelope or in the instructions, it just wasn't known. I had no idea how or why patterns were drafted the way they were. Too long? Why bother cutting it on those silly lines. Just take it off the bottom! Too narrow...just add more across. Who knows or even cares what an FBA is when they are learning to sew unless someone tells them? 

And the bottom line was I made things. Sometimes they worked, sometimes they didn't but I never had any idea why or why not. I didn't have a supportive sewing community, and the only other person I knew that sewed was a sister that lived too far away for consultations, or for help, even if she'd known how to do things. After all, she'd had one sewing class in high school that taught her everything she needed to know. And fitting wasn't on the syllabus. 

Fast forward multiple years. About the early to mid 1980s I was perusing a community college schedule that came in the mail, and I saw sewing classes. I was getting to the point where RTW was not to my liking. It still fit in those days, but the styles, fabrics and the colors in the stores were not my taste. So I decided I could make my own clothes in the colors and fabrics I wanted. Who cared if they were trendy? I just wanted to look good and feel good about my clothes. 

An obsession was born. I started gradually hearing about altering patterns to fit one's body. Still not a lot of input into how to do it, but I heard that people did figure out how to make patterns fit themselves. I learned how to use my machine and about fabrics, needles, and threads. Got my first serger and learned about knits. It was still at least ten years before I found a class that was about fitting my particular body. What an eye opener to learn I didn't actually have short arms, but that narrow shoulders were what caused all my sleeves to be too long. And the body I learned to fit then, is certainly not the body I have now. 

Never even thought about "couture details" until the last few years. I did like having the insides of my clothing look nice, but the serger generally did that. I did learn about linings and that helped too. 

Now after approximately 45-50 years of sewing, I'm finally learning Hong Kong finishes, French Seams, bagging linings, and all the rest. Is it about time. Yes... but over the last 10 to 30 years, I've made the majority of my own clothing that was worn in public, to work, to events, to live in, without knowing the fancy stuff. Did I look like I was wearing couture? No, but it was my colors, my fabrics, and in general fit my ever changing body. That to me, means I'm a winner, no matter whether someone else thinks so or not. She doesn't know how much effort I put into just getting a garment to fit, finding the right fabric, finding the right details, finding everything that makes it just mine and no one else's. 

Everyone should be encouraged to experience their creativity in their own way, make whatever they want, at the level they are, with the fabrics they can afford and be given kudos for trying. If they want to push themselves, good for them. If not, that's okay too. I'm reminded of my friend Kathleen who has been sewing for 45+ years who decided she wanted to learn proper tailoring. She's got multiple books, videos, taken Craftsy classes, and all the rest. She has practiced making hand worked buttonholes for a few weeks, only to find that they didn't look appropriate for the fabric she's using for a summer jacket. 

For all of us, failure is always an option. The only way I know of to really learn something is to fail at it so you have to work out how to succeed. So long as we are learning and growing and putting our efforts out there, we should be proud of ourselves and let the people who don't get it sit alone in their room waiting for perfect garments with lots of effort that they feel meet their high standards. I think they'll be waiting a very long time! 

Jumping down off the soapbox now. 

I hope you're having a marvelous time with your sewing. I hope all your efforts are rewarded with wonderful, wearable garments. If not, I hope you have leaned something to further your knowledge about your chosen craft! 

More later!