Monday, March 31, 2008

An Ode to Princess Seams

Oh how I love them!
I really, really love them!
They make fitting easy and make one look slim.
They can be adjusted easily at my whim.

I could write more about princess seams, but it's kind of noisy right now at my house and I can't concentrate.

I finished my funky tee today. And the princess seams made it so easy too. The hemline was giving me a minor headache. I interfaced it, then turned and topstitched. Tried it on, got some stretch issues. If it were not for those princess seams, I would have been bummed. However, I unstitched them hemline at the front, tweaked my princess seams, then rehemmed and all is well. I tweaked the mid back area, too, since I'm really small there. I'm really liking this top.

This latest sewing endeavor just proves to me how a TNT pattern is not so "TNT" depending on the fabric choice. The armholes are slighly low, but that's okay. The fabric stretch pulls them down a little. In a cotton knit, they're fine. My top was made from my Perfect Tee Shirt from Pamela's Patterns. Originally the top had a bust dart only. Well I just don't like bust darts most of the time. IMO, they make me look matronly. I like neither the look, nor that word. So I perfected this pattern in Shannon Gifford's Build a Better Tee class a couple of years ago and love it. I made a version from my master pattern with a back and front waist darts as well as a version with front and back princess seams.

So when I need a Q&E top, this is the pattern to use. Well, most of the time. When fabric behaves in a less-than-obedient manner, then at least it's still easy, but not so quick.

I'll post a pic later this week. I want to make the skirt to go with the top first and my camera battery is dying too.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Moving Right Along.

A few hours ago I took pics of my current project. They are below. This is the fabric that was supposed to be my wrap dress but there wasn't enough fabric. Probably a good thing because the fabric is quite a busy and bold print. I think in this case, less is more. A little less fabric, a little more skin, and the print won't overwhelm me. The dress was supposed to be below the knee and the sleeves to my wrists. Instead, I made the top a deep scoop and the sleeves 3/4 length. Enough for a necklace maybe, and definitely a bracelet. I'll make a skirt that will end either right at or just above the kneeline. Maybe wear it with my black boots. Here's the top so far and you can see the hemline "problem" I wrote about in my previous post:

While constructing it, I used my usual neckband technique. Although some people prefer a 3/4" ratio of neckband to neckline, I find that more precise measurements of front and back neckline is a better formula for me to use. What I do is measure the back and front neckline separately. I found the back neckline measured (at the seamline with a measuring tape on it's side) a total of 10". The front neckline measured a total of 22.5". So what I do with this is automatically take off 1.5" off the back neckline measurement (10-1.5=8.5") and 3" off the front measurement (22.5-3=19.5") to calculate how long to make my neckband, mark the shoulder points on the neckband according to those measurements, then baste it into place for a test fit. Bear in mind that this top is a deep scoop neck. If the neckline were a bit more modest, I'd take off maybe 2" from the front instead of 3". Thus, my neckband measurement was 19.5" (front) +8.5" (back), for a total neckband length of 28". Doing it this way gives me a much better test fit than a plain old 3/4" ratio of neckband to neckline, quartering both the neckband and neckline, and basting.

My first basting was pretty good. Maybe just a smidge more off the front to make sure the neckline was hugging my body/chest. Took out an inch more in the back as there was a bit of gaping there. Second baste was to my satisfaction.

The only problem is a pretty small problem and not very noticeable because of the busy print. It's kind of a trade-off between getting the neckline to hug my body and putting up with a couple of minor folds. At the front neckline, right across from lower armhole, there are some minor wrinkles. I'm okay with that at this point. It's caused by the neckband being maybe a little *too* small for the neckline. Kind of a necessary evil IMO because any looser and my neckband won't sit nice and hug my skin. You can kind of see it in the pic below--it's just above the curve. Probably pretty picky stuff and only astute sewers will notice. The general RTW population would never pick up on it.

So now I'm off to fix my hemline. I didn't like the way my serged, flat edge hem looked. Maybe my serger needs a tuneup, maybe it's just me not playing around with my dials, but I didn't like how it looked. I'm going to turn up the hem and topstitch. So at this point, just shirt and sleeve hems and it's done. Whip up a patternless elastic waist skirt and this is next week's church outfit.

Happy Sewing, everyone!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Silly Sewing Nonsense!

Silly sewing nonsense always makes a quick project take forever. Not a good thing. I'm making a funky print tee right now and added 1" to the bottom hem just 'cuz. So I go to pin (it's princess seamed) the side fronts to the center front piece and discover the side fronts were cut too close to the selvedge where there are no sequins. It would have been quite noticeable IMO.

So... I cut out two more side front replacement pieces and there's still enough material leftover to whip up a simple, elastic waistband knee length skirt, thank goodness. However, I forgot to add the extra 1" to the side fronts. So I'm wondering why there is extra ease but I just pin-fit the extra ease and stitch it. Then I'm wondering why there is puckering on the seam, and it hits me! I forgot to add the 1" at the bottom him. Rip, rip, rip! At least it wasn't a knit stitch on the front princess seams because ripping the knit stitch is the equivalent of sticking one's eye with a toothpick.

Right now the tee is on my dress form waiting for side seam tweaking. Maybe tomorrow I'll finish it.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The finished top.

Here it is. I just reviewed it yesterday at Patternreview with other wearing options as well.

Here's a close up of it:

I really like the style because it's just a non-binding, roomy top with still a bit of current fashion. As Lily commented in my pattern review, no one can tell I have a short waist in this top :) . I was rereading my Adele Margolis' book last night, "How to Make Clothes that Fit and Flatter", and she is SO right in saying fashion is an illusion.
Off to working on some purses and my funky print tee.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A little here, a little there.

Yes, that's all it took to finish my Simplicity 3624 top. Didn't really set up a time block for it, just worked it in a few short chunks of time and it was done! I love it and it fits like a dream. Will try to post pics of it tomorrow.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter everyone! It was a beautiful day in the Poconos, cool and sunny.

The Easter meal was at my mom and dad's house with ham, corn, green beans, deviled eggs, pasta salad, fruit salad, lettuce salad, and mashed potatoes. Very filling! We had no dessert. None was needed because the Easter bunny was very generous this morning. In fact, we didn't even get a chance to color eggs this year because last night we had to go to a softball tournament. There wasn't even any time to get the baskets, so the Easter bunny couldn't hide them. Just left the candy on the table in a nice big pile to be sorted. My youngest did mental poking and prodding by holding up candy and asking, "Did you buy this?". Hmmm...

Between making the deviled eggs and mashed potatoes, I was able to get DD#2's pajama pants almost done. I put in some temporary ribbon for the waist until I can find the right color. Her pants have a temporary hem until we wash them (100% cotton flannel) a few more times. She hates pants that are too short and that is a typical RTW problem for her. She has a figure just like mine with very long legs and a short-waisted torso. The pajama pants are nice and long, but are hanging on the floor. I will wait for the go-ahead from her before messing around with the current hem though. Let me tell you, they are SO soft! As soon as I finished them I told her I was trying them on. Very nice fit (loose but not too loose), modeled them for her and told her if she didn't want them they'd be mine. She replied, "I'll wear them now." I take them off, and she immediately puts them on :) . She really likes them and can't wait for the next pair. Now that's gratifying sewing!

The pajama pants were actually a Junior-sized Simplicity pattern. She picked out the wrong pattern size (thinking Misses) but the fit is so nice in the Junior-size large that I'm thinking about making a pair for myself in a nice cozy flannel print. I'm going to take a pic of them and do a review in a week or so after the three washings and better ribbon.

Now, to get working on my two tops and Burda coat. I love having three projects to work on at the same time. It makes for very little downtime.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Boring me got tagged LOL!

It's an "Oh no" type of day. I've been tagged. And go figure. I'm one of the most boring people on this earth. So I'll do my best to add 7 things about me.

1. I'm the last-born child out of 4 kids and definitely the most impulsive. DH and I eloped when I was 19. We never really went anywhere on our honeymoon either. In fact, we were such poor college students and went right to our full-time jobs that we never went on a honeymoon ever.

2. In my family, only my oldest sister knows we eloped. And I just told her during PR Weekend last November too.

3. I can swim but don't like to swim. I almost drowned at a YMCA swimming lesson (if you can believe it) when I was 5. My mom had to bribe me with getting my ears pierced if I learned how to swim and overcame my fear of deep water. I did it because I desparately wanted my ears pierced. Little did I know that getting my ears pierced would be a major hassle because of my severe nickel allergy. And my mom blamed my ear troubles on poor hygiene if you can believe that too.

4. I consider poison ivy to be a type of natural chemical warfare. I react so severely that it could actually be deadly. Even high dose prednisone on my last bout 3 or 4 years ago took quite a while to work. It makes yardwork kind of scary for me.

5. I'm a serious homebody. I can socialize with the best of them, but truthfully I just want to stay home and sew :) . Some women love to hang out with other girlfriends but I'm not one of them.

6. Some may know this already, but I failed high school sewing. My projects would get finished and I'd put them on right away and wear them out the door. My teacher kept telling me to bring my garments down in the morning when I got to school but I never did. Thus nothing to grade so my grade was an F! Best class I ever failed LOL :) .

7. If I had to pick a different career over teaching and do things all over again, becoming a heart surgeon would be my pick. I love those medical shows like the ones on the Discover channel and am good with a scissors and thread ;) .

Now...who to tag? Gosh, I think everyone has been tagged already. But I'll try. I'll look through my list later and try to pick 7 people.

My other "Oh no" of the day. Last night I was going to cut out my Simplicity wrap dress and discovered I didn't have enough material. #*yr(*#$*(y*#!!!! I only had 2 1/3 yards and needed at least 2 5/8. Oh well. I decided to make a princess-seamed t-shirt from a TNT pattern and a knee-length elastic waist skirt from my sloper pattern. It will still look nice.

Right now there are four piles of cut projects on my couch. I will take a pic of them later and add it to this post. ETA--here's my pile of projects:

Oh--almost forgot. Happy Easter to my Christian friends!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Burda Coat

Yesterday I tissue-fitted my Burda coat. It is basically a "very loose-fitting" hip-length jacket as noted on the pattern. Just a couple of alterations were needed--forward shoulder and lengthening the sleeves. It does have dropped shoulders but I thought they were dropping just a little too much. I narrowed the shoulders a 1/2" and am hoping that will look a bit better. The dropped shoulder look is always a tough call for me.

I'm using a light blue/black speckled wool I purchased from Paron's during PR Weekend 2007. Just love this fabric and will underline/interline it with some black 100% cotton flannel. The black lining is thin, but adequate. My sister picked that up for me from Paron's and gave it to me last Christmas. Think she got at least 7 yards of it at a good price.

Off to cutting now. I want to cut out part of my coat and my Easter dress dress.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Thank you!

In yesterday's post, I forgot to thank Phyllis, one of the The Sewing Divas, for my purse inspiration. She posted in my swing jacket review to make purses out of the large scrap pieces of fabric left over from block fusing. That was such a great idea so thank you, Phyllis!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

They're Done!

On Sunday I finished my first two of many purses to come. These two are mine (can't help making matching purses for my outfits :) )--prototypes for the ones to follow. They don't have any pockets inside but yesterday I drafted a pocket piece to include a mini pocket for a cell phone and a larger one for makeup, credit cards, whatever. The bags are fully lined, and I used a "bagging the lining method" similar to what one uses in a jacket. It really makes for a clean finish. A portion of the bottom inside bag lining is handstitched closed to finish the project.

Here's the first bag. I used it today on my trip to the doctor and out to eat with my friends. It's from the houndstooth fabric I used for my swing jacket. There are actually two made from this fabric, but I didn't have enough to finish the flap on the outside of one of the purses so I used velvet. The bow and bow band are made from velvet as well, with a ribbon rose I made affixed to the band with handstitches. In the center of the rose are clear, hot-fix swarovski crystals. I just love using my Bejeweler 'cuz I'm a flashy, glitzy '80's girl at heart.

The second one (there's two made from this fabric as well) is from wool fabric I used for my recent McCall's jacket and Vogue miniskirt. Again, the flap and band are made from black velvet, the bow from the wool with black, hot-fix crystals affixed to the bow band. It probably would have looked better with the bow in black velvet too, but we learn as we go, don't we. And IMO, velvet is not the best fabric to use for the flap. It doesn't lay as nice and crisp as wool, brocade, or upholstery fabric.

Here's a peek at the lining inside both bags:

For the interfacing, I used a craft-weight stiff interfacing purchased at one of the local stores in my area. However, I'm going to invest in some buckram and Timtex to see how I like that better and which one I prefer. Here are a few of the other bags that are WIP's. They need to be lined and the bows need some embellishing. This is just one style of many more to come. There's another style bag in the same floral print with a wooden handle that has been cut out, but not stitched as of yet.

After I get the current batch of purses lined and ready to go, I really must work on cutting out four of my garment projects. Suffice it to say, my last winter coat will not be worn until next Fall. It will probably get done in May!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

That's to all my Irish friends, DH, and my kids, and of course, people like me who don't have one ounce of Irish blood in them 'cuz everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day. I forgot to pick up some ice cream at the store yesterday. The family will clobber me if I don't make Shamrock shakes for dinner so I have to pick up a carton. As usual, the house is a usual Monday morning disaster area after the weekend and needs some cleaning too.

However, two of my purses are done! I will take pics and post them tomorrow hopefully. I posted a topic over at Patternreview about the difference between Timtex and buckram. My current bags are interfaced with a stiff, craft-weight interfacing. I don't know how that compares with the other two, but I'm thinking those are typical bag interfacings so they're probably better than what I'm currently using. My other purses are almost done, but I need to add pockets to the lining. I'm hoping to get that cut out today.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Joys of Parenting

Here it is, 11:47 p.m. on a Saturday night, and we just got finished transfering my daughters' bunk bed into the boys' room. That included disassembling and reassembling the darn thing with screws and screw contraptions that I swear were made who knows where. It's a beautiful pine bunk bed that cost me a bundle and the screws are awful. There's no excuse for that. You'd think the delivery people could have least mentioned something about it when they delivered it and put it together many years ago. At least forewarned us. A one hour job took about 4 hours!

Anyway, what a sight to see! My 11-year old son is not the most coordinated guy. Much unlike his younger "Tarzan" brother. Seeing him climb up a vertical ladder gave him the shakes. Then he had a lot of trouble getting back down. All six of us where in his room trying to teach him how to get down the ladder in the most effective way possible. It was quite a hoot. Finally, his 16-year old sister had to come in and demonstrate for him. The way she's done for the last 8 years.

I did get some sewing done on my purses this afternoon. I was moving right along with linings when I heard the call of wild to help with the bed. After that it was down to the batting cages and tennis, then a wonderful Saturday evening at Walmart doing some wonderful grocery shopping. What exciting lives we parents live, don't we?!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A College Lesson that Applies to Sewing.

A prelude to my wadder review at Patternreview. Here's the story:

At one time (seems like yesterday but is a long time ago!), I was a college sophomore sitting in approximately the 5th row back of a small lecture hall in my Business Management class. There were about 100-150 students in that class with Dr. R as the prof. My major was Business Education but at the time my major was still in the College of Business as opposed to the College of Education. My core courses were virtually the same as any other Business major. Most of the students in that class were Business Management majors with maybe two or three Bus. Ed. majors, me being one of them. Dr. R was a former Bus. Ed. major himself.

The time came around for the first test. I studied, took the test, and Dr. R gave the class a lecture about the test as he was returning it. I guess he examined by hand the test results of the top 10% of the class or something like that. So he's talking about the tests and he tells one tale of how a student changed/erased 7 answers, all that were correct, to the wrong answer! Guess who that was. He looked right at me and said, "Always go with your first choice! Your gut instinct is usually correct." Gulp. Okay.

Second test rolls around. He's handing them back but does his usual pre-handback speech. And then he announces, "The student with the top score on the test isn't even a Business Management major, she's Business Ed!" He looked over at me beaming with pride. Gulp! Big smile. I was proud--a moment that I remember like yesterday. (BTW, it was also a good feeling when all these guys are looking at me aghast that I wasn't a dumb blonde either, especially the guy next to me that was *supposed* to be really smart.)

I always remember that day and the lesson learned from it. It's about trusting your gut instinct. Your first thought is generally the correct one. So why don't I always apply that concept to patterns??? Is it because they're so cheap on the $1 pattern sales? Is it because I don't want to miss a good bargain? Who knows. But here's a case in point. It's Simplicity 4183 , a Patty Read design. What the heck was I thinking when I bought this pattern???

I'll tell you what I thought. The first thing that popped into my head was it could look kind of dowdy on me. Next thought, "But maybe I could make it into something cute." Now where in the world would I get the idea to make something from those two thoughts--dowdy and cute? It doesn't work. But in one of my dim-bulb moments, I bought the pattern with thoughts of (GASP!) making something from it for Patternreview Weekend 2006. In retrospect, thank goodness I was so busy working on Halloween costumes and couldn't make it. It would have been a terribly disappointing endeavor. The fabric I bought for it eventually made it's way into a fave jacket of mine from McCall's 5007, a Jackie Kennedy type of garment.

So recently I pulled out that pattern (first mistake) because I had grand images in my mind of making a cute, slouchy minidress. A copycat one from a mini I saw in Lucky. In my stash was some suede-y, chamois feeling knit fabric that was purchased eons ago. I know it was inexpensive too. But I thought it would make for a cute minidress. That was my second mistake. Not only was the fabric not the right type and not recommended by the pattern, it was a royal pain-in-the-a$$ to sew. It is rare that I come across a material that is so uncooperative that all I want to do is throw it away, but this was it. My machine hated it and skipped stitches like crazy. Tried every needle in my stash in various sizes--universal, jersey/ballpoint, stretch, microtex--and nothing worked. I had to use a triple stretch stitch and stitch each seam twice. (Wouldn't you know, I just got my Sew News yesterday and it mentioned trying Needle Lube...)

I got to the point where it was almost done except for the sleeve/dress hems and buttons so I tried it on (fairly excited at that point despite the stitching woes). Even put on my black tights and ankle boots I was planning on wearing with it. Took a look in my full-length mirror and was quite unprepared (although I did think while making it there might be a possibility that it could look dumpy) for the disapointment. It looked like a big, blue potato sack! No shape and visually adds 15 lbs to my frame. It was anything but fun, flirty, and cute. DH sees it and asks, "What is that?!?!" My teen girls see it and give me "the look". Even the boys just stare. Okay. It's definite. I have made a wadder.

So now I get wadder thoughts. In Ladies' Home Journal magazine, there is a regular column called, "Can This Marriage Be Saved?" That's my favorite part of the magazine. So now I'm asking myself a similar question with a sewing focus--"Can This Wadder Be Saved?" I put it on my dress form. Yeah, it looks dumpy on the Phat Chick too. DD#1 says, "Maybe you should cut off the bottom." I decide that's the right thing to do. Cut, cut, cut. Bottom is off. Then I look. Stop. Look again. Yeah, it's definitely better without the skirt part. But those shoulders! They drop down so much, the fabric just isn't crisp enough for the style, and then I think of the stitching woes. No, this wadder isn't worth being saved. Here's what's left of the ugly wadder:

And there it stays on my dressform to remind me that I should always go with my gut instinct. Trust thyself. Such simple words really that you'd think they'd be easy to follow. Maybe I should buy a plaque that says that at our local fair this summer and hang it in my sewing studio. Think of it as wadder prevention.

Moving on. Focus on the next project. Letting go of wadder thoughts.

Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


What to write about today? Really there's nothing much going on. DS#1 has an appt. this morning so that does away with my entire morning. I need to clean a bathroom, go to the post office, and a couple of other mundane activities but hope to head down home stretch with some purses I'd like to sell onEbay. Of course, I'll keep one in every style and color I make :) . They're looking pretty good now and I need to work on the velvet bows for them. Will post pics when I'm done.

And that Burda needs some quick alterations. Will I finish in time to wear it? Who knows! I'm such a slow sewer.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Alterations! Part 3 - The Sleeves

Sleeves are funny things to me. A bad fit can make or break a garment. Everything will be going well and all of sudden, a poor fitting sleeve will make me want to spit. It's happened. But I've gotten pretty good over the last year or two at judging whether or not the sleeve will work. It's been a lot of trial and error, but this is what I generally do on tops, and to some extent, jackets and coats. Be forewarned! There are lots of pics in this post.

Here is the pic of the traced commercial pattern of the sleeve. Notice that "perfect" bell shape curve. Problem is, I don't have that perfect bell shape. Remember my sloper pattern? I have a long, flat back armhole, and a short, curvy front armhole. This just isn't going to be very flattering if it's made up without some type of alteration stuff.

The first thing I want to do on this sleeve is a forward shoulder adjustment. On the next pic, I drew a horizontal line on the pattern (perpendicular to the grainline) just above the shoulder dots. This will be the cutting line. Notice I also drew a vertical line, which intersects the cutting line, This is my "visual" aid for the 1/2 forward shoulder adjustment. Once I cut on the horizontal line line, I will move the top piece over the right 1/2".

The following pic illustrates the top of the sleeve pattern which has been moved forward a 1/2". Notice how I did NOT true the lines, but rather blended the back and front of the lower pattern piece into the cutting line of the upper pattern piece. This will allow for a flattened back and a bubbled front. Why do I do this? Because that's the way my knobby, bony, forward shoulders look.

The next pic is the *almost* completed pattern piece. Notice the top of the sleeve is no longer the typical bell-shape curve, but rather a flatter, longer back armhole and a shorter, bubbled front armhole.

Which leaves me one more problem that needs to be fixed. The only problem I've found with my sleeve alterations is that it creates more fabric that needs to be eased in the front. Basically an annoying amount of front ease that looks like it shouldn't be there. So my questions is, does anyone else do a forward shoulder like this? Do you get too much extra ease in the front? A certain amount of ease is fine, but I've been getting far too much and it needs to be balanced with the back ease. What I've been doing is removing a bit of that ease by removing the shaded area (a 1/2" on this particular pattern) shown in the pic below. Basically a slash and overlap method. The removal of extra fabric makes things just right. I also did this on my last jacket I made and was very pleased with the results.

Here is the finished sleeve! A bit off grain at the top, but it works for me.

So my question is, does anyone else every have to deal with weird sleeve issues like this? How do you solve them? I've tried other methods of reducing the front sleeve ease but found this method to work best for me.

Now my alterations for this Simplicity top are virtually complete. I'll tissue fit as best as I can at this point, even with it being a knit, to check for length issues. I might want to lengthen the sleeves and the bodice below the waist. Hopefully I can get started on this top next week. It's one of my last winter sewing projects.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Alterations Part 2--The Front!

Now that the back alterations are done, I'm moving on to the front alterations today for Simplicity 3624, I figured the bust width was fine since I'm using a multi-size blend from 10 at the neck/shoulders blending to a 14 from the upper chest down to hem. I love multi-size patterns for this reason. However, that may not eliminate the gaping that usually occurs on my figure in the lower front armhole. For some that means more bust room. For me it doesn't. There's ample bust room (width). My issue is the shaping that needs to occur from my full bust to my hollow chest. Here are the two fronts--the commercial pattern on the left, the sloper pattern on the right. I'm not too concerned about the armhole depth because the sloper fits like a glove. The area of concern to me is the armhole shape. The commercial pattern has a very gentle curve, the sloper is more pronounced. This curvier armhole shape is what works for me. If I don't alter the curve, I'm going to get pronounced draglines at the lower armhole radiating to the bust.

So what I'm going to do is use my favorite FFRP "shoulder slide" method. If you have the book, it's found on pages 202/203 . This creates a curvier armhole by sliding the front shoulder seam over to the neck by an amount necessary to reduce the gape (usually about a 1/2" for me). What will happen is that the excess at the neck will be cut off and the armhole will need to be filled in with tissue. Here is the commercial pattern shown with the shoulder slide *AND* forward shoulder alteration.

Here is the sloper pattern with my finished front pattern piece with the neckline trued. Notice the curvier armhole shape that more closely resembles the armhole curve on my sloper. The only other additional alteration made was to add 3/8" to the side seam to make my total seam allowances 1" for fit insurance.

And that completes my front bodice alterations. The only other thing I might do would be to move the shoulder seam at the neck forward, maybe 1/4". IMO, that's best left to do in fabric at this point because I don't know if it will be necessary. Tomorrow--the sleeves! And I'm really interested in any comments on how I do my sleeve alteration. I'm wondering if others encounter the same issue I face.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Alterations! Part 1B--The Back.

Continuing yesterday's post, I'll explain what I'm going to do to solve, what I perceive to be, possible back issues.

Since I'm not sure exactly how the back is going to fit/look from the armhole down with the first try of this pattern, I'm going to add princess seams. It took me a while to kind of accept that using princess seams is the option to use, and I don't know why. If the top fits just by adding that seam (and not taking in/letting out any width), then I can always make the second top without them. The print I'm going to use is rather busy, so the seams won't be that noticeable. I could also use waist darts, a dart shift, or some patternmaking "magic" instead, but princess seams are so easy to do and alter so it's a no-brainer for me.

When my commercial pattern was placed on top of my saran wrap block pattern, I transferred the end of shoulder dart to the commercial pattern. Don't know if you can see it, but there's a little + sign on my pattern. I felt this mark was just a little too high for a princess seam marking, so I made another mark about 1 1/2" below it. Then I drew a line from the mid-shoulder to that point and from the hemline to that point. (Sorry about the two lines from the point to the hem--one isn't supposed to be there.) I curve the point area, mark the grainline on the back/side piece, and add the seam allowances.

In my next pic below, if you look at the side seam, there is some "stuff" going on there as well. I've added an extra 3/8" to the seam allowance (1" total) for fit insurance, as well as another extra 1/2" from the waist to the hem for my high hip curves. Additional fit insurance. Between this extra at the side seams and the princess seam allowances, I should be able to create a back that will mold right to my curves. I'll put the top on Phat Chick when it's almost done and pin fit right to my figure for a flattering back. I also did a 1/2" swayback tuck above the waist. The more fitted the back is, the greater potential for puddling of fabric on my short-waisted body. Usually my swayback alteration is somewhere between 1/2" to 3/4".

Good fit and original style. It is kind of a trade-off with design changes, but it's okay. I don't mind making a simple design change like this if the top is going to skim over my curves instead of hugging them in all the wrong places. And princess seams always seem to get lost in a busy print anyway.

The only thing that I haven't done yet is check the length of the top. I'd rather wait until all my alterations are done and tissue fit as best as possible. From there I'll decide if it should be a little longer.

I hope this post has been somewhat coherent. I had to get up a 3:30 a.m. today to drive DD#1 to the school for a DC field trip, and I have to go pick her up at 11:30 tonight. It's been a very long day, and I sure am tired. Did I do any sewing today? Yes! Assembly line production of several purses. They're cute ones too. Getting ready to use my red alligator-style leather from PR Weekend 2007 for a cute handbag and leather is not forgiving of mistakes. Practice makes perfect :) .

Tomorrow--the front alterations! Followed by the sleeves.

Happy Sewing!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Alterations! Part 1A--The Back.

(Oh! I'm getting excited!!! Last night I worked on doing the alterations for my third pattern out of the four in my current project cue. The last one is the Burda coat, which should be fairly easy since coats are kind of forgiving.)

Now, about today's post topic. After reading the thread that LindsayT created over at Patternreview, it seems that some people like to see alterations that other people do. I never thought my alterations would be of a particular interest to anyone, however several people in my pattern reviews have commented about a nice fit I've achieved with my latest garments. So today I'm going to show you how I approach my alterations using Simplicity 3624 (shown below and the one I did last night) as my example. If it helps anyone out there, then today's (long) post will be worth it.

First off, it's always good to take a long, hard look at my upper body sloper shown in my next picture. It was created from the Saran Wrap block concept found at Kathleen Fasanella's Fashion Incubator site, Saran Wrap Block Method 1 and Saran Wrap Block Method 2 .

Here is the pattern (backs only today, tomorrow I'll do the fronts) I created from my Saran Wrap block. I made it up in 1/4" gingham so I know it fits well.

So...where so I start with pattern alterations? Analysis. Plain and simple. What do I see when I look at my "sloper" pattern backs? A relatively normal shoulder slope, long and flat back armhole, curvier right shoulder (the dart is bigger on the right side), broad upper shoulders, narrow lower back, and a short waist. No big surprises there.

Now I analyze the block with the commercial pattern. I start with the back. I'm a firm believer in the FFRP concept to start with the back before progressing with the front, or anywhere else for that matter. So now I'll begin my analysis of the saran wrap block pattern laid over the commercial pattern. I start by matching the CB waist of both patterns. Why? Because that's the way I like to do it :) . Here is my analysis of what I see from this pic.

The pattern is extremely close in measurements to my own body. Pretty much zero ease from the shoulder to the bottom of the armhole. Is this a problem with this pattern? No, because I'm working with a knit. If it was a woven though, there'd definitely be a problem in the upper vack area, especially on that upper back and upper right shoulder which is wider than than the left. (I don't alter for asymetry in a knit, though, since it's forgiving.) The sloper pattern looks wider at the shoulder, but only because there is a dart in that pattern. The neckline of the commercial pattern drops down in the back. A possible concern is gaping, but that's a fixable problem so I'm not worried about it. Tissue fitting will tell me more. The armholes. Don't match perfectly, but it's easy to drop the armhole a little in fabric so that doesn't worry me too much either. I get leary of dropping it at this point because I want to see how the knit "behaves" when it's on me. Again, tissue fitting will help fine tune that area. The width of the back above the waist might be "tent-ish". Yeah, I'm concerned about that because...look at my next pic and I'll tell you why.

Here's my issue with the back. I swear it was made for a boy!!! The area from the waist to hem has very little difference in width. What??? *I* have full high hips. The pattern definitely doesn't account for full high hips in the back about 3" below the waist--it's very narrow in this area. Yet the area above the waist is huge where I'm narrow. There's a heck of a lot of fabric in that area. This DOES concern me. Gee, I have hip curves. Didn't the pattern model have high hip curves? Duh! I forgot. She's a 19-year old skinny thing who has never had a baby and still has that fast teen metabolism. Likely very little hip curves on her.

What's a girl to do? There are issues to be settled to ensure a good back fit. Check back tomorrow and I'll tell you how I solved my problem. This post is getting a little too long at this point. Best to do it in two sections.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Not much garment sewing progress.

There hasn't been much going on with garment sewing the past few days. I've been busy trying to build up stock for my Ebay store and made lots of little trips here and there for supplies. My house desparately needs to be cleaned too. I'm shooting for some pattern work tomorrow. Still no sewing at this point. All four patterns have been traced with one completed with alterations--the Simplicity wrap dress. The next one getting alterations (and it should be simple) are the pajama pants. I'm just going to compare the leg width and length from my daughter's sweats as a general reference.

And speaking of sweats, I've noticed some really cheap things going on with sweatpants. DD#2 always give me her pants and asks me to seam rip the hem. She has very long legs and can use any extra length she can get. (Lately she's been doing her own seam ripping though :) .) What I've found is that the clothing manufacturers aren't even using elastic anymore. The last three pants in which we seam ripped the hems, we've found big rubber bands! What do you all think of that? For what I'm paying for the pants, I think it's cheap. These are quality sweats--good thick material only to be hemmed with a rubber band. For the price I'm paying, I expect to find elastic. Maybe it doesn't matter? I don't know. Guess some CEO wants to cut corners to boost stock prices again. Makes me wonder if people even care about quality anymore.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

An Awful Night's Sleep!

The remedy...don't do alterations before going to bed. I'm working on Simplicity 4074, a wrap dress. Last night I did a bunch of alterations and in this particular style (not a traditional top), alterations need to be well thought out. It's not a standard neck opening. Another bugaboo with this pattern, I love the multi-sizes has two fronts, you know the kind. Size 6 and 10 on one front, but the other sizes of the same piece are on another sheet. I hate that. So I have to superimpose them on top of each other and align them with the grainlines and lengthen/shorten lines to be able to blend from a 10 at the neck/shoulders to a 14 from the chest down. I always worry that something is not going to be quite right when I do that too. Today I will finish the alterations on the dress and move on to the pattern alterations for the remaining three. One thing's for sure, a muslin is a must for this dress. It's a little harder for me to gauge the fit when tissue-fitting a knit. And if there's negative ease, next to impossible. I have to rely on previous patterns I've altered to guide me. And one thing's for sure! I'm not going to ruin my beautiful knit fabric I purchased from Kashi. No way.

I also picked up some craft interfacing and batting to make some purses. Phyllis, one of the Sewing Divas, gave me the wonderful idea to use up my extra scrap pieces of wool (my lovely Paron's wools too!) to make purses. I'm going to keep one from each wool to match my outfits and sell the others. Really, what else would I do with these extra pieces? They're too nice to throw away, but too small to make a garment. I even bought a book yesterday to make some beautiful ribbon flowers for the purses (a special thank you to Kenneth King for that suggestion!). And lucky for me, the Poconos has a store called the American Ribbon and Craft outlet which has a bountiful stock of so many types of ribbons.

And speaking of Kenneth King, he has another article in the current issue of Threads. I love his articles! The documentation for his classes at Patternreview are top notch, and quickly skimming over his current article it appears to be the same clear cut, concise instructions. Gotta love that!

On another note, today I'm going to pick up my coat fabric from the dry cleaners too. It will be great to work on my last coat for the season, especially since coat pattern in the style I'm using is not as fussy with alterations. I think all that needs to be done is narrowing the shoulders a bit and checking the length. I can't wait to put those black leather welts in it too. BTW, speaking of leather, if you have a chance surf on over to Karen's blog, Sewing By the Seat of My Pants . She just finished her awesome black leather jacket! It's absolutely beautiful. Definitely a "can't miss" garment.

Happy Sewing!