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!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A quick update for July so far.

The three dresses are complete. One is a smash hit, one is a no way, and the other is "okay."

Smash hit:

She loved this one~ the third. I had redrafted the skirt pattern as I thought the second dress was kind of wonky in the skirt. This one it was the colors, the fabric, the fit. She's wearing it to work this week. It's a light weight cotton jersey from Hancocks.

The others, not so much. The first one with the cross over top didn't get a picture taken darn it! I find cross over tops to be problematical, and the first dress was no exception. It was good in the heavier fabric, but in the light weight rayon jersey, there are a lot of unexpected folds across the bodice.

The third was not good at all. She didn't like the color nor the print, and with the initial pattern draft , it looks just wrong. Hemline is wrong and the pattern, which really was on grain the way the initial pattern was cut looks like it's going downhill and all I see is a big "frowney" face. And visions of a  long past pregnancy? Not good at all.

But for my picky daughter, one out of three is a good ratio! LOL

Once those were done and delivered on the 4th of July, I set to making myself some long wanted items. I have in my mind that I'm doing a summer six-pac along with continuing with my annual SWAP. I like the concept of making multiple garments in a colorway that will at least go together well increasing the amount of outfits without using all of the closet space. To that end, my first navy core grouping in a while. Pants were made Saturday and finished off Sunday, and the tee was started and completed on Sunday.

The top is a luscious rayon-lycra jersey, purchased from Emma One Sock back in April. I got three pieces of this and wish I'd got every color I wear. It was wonderful to sew, and wonderful to wear. It's my TNT Pamela's Perfect Tee Shirt pattern altered beyond belief.

The slacks are a very light weight (4 ounce) stretch denim purchased (on sale!) last November from Gorgeous fabrics. It's perfect for a pair of summer trousers. Pattern used is my custom draft made from the Don McCunn "How to Make Sewing Patterns" book. They're my go to. Can make them in about 5 hours total including pockets and fly front. That's a win for me!

Today I'm starting on the second piece of EOS rayon jersey. It's a royal blue and will have a vee neck as the only change. I'm hoping for a tee shirt marathon to put my summer six pac on the fast track.

Hope your sewing is going well!

More later ~

Friday, July 4, 2014

Number two in the queue

Here's the first dress from the borrowed pattern. I have since made a few changes to actually have it work like it is supposed to, but I think she'll be pleased with this one. Again, excuse the hanger shot, hopefully I'll get actual pictures with her in them soon.

Third one is cut out and on the sewing table to get completed shortly. I'm hoping this trio of dresses will help me hit the trifecta in the daughter's dress lineup. 

More later!