Thursday, December 24, 2009

Psyched & Ready To Go!

The real version of the KS338 top is coming along wonderfully! All I have to do is press the side seams and hem it. I'm saving this for later during my vacation. I want to use a double-needle for the hem and I need two things - a needle and some practice! Wednesday is hemming day. I've planned and re-planned my wardrobe to death. What I've finally settled on is knit. Until March, I will be a ponteroma-knit-sewing queen. My goals are ambitious - 13 pieces, but they are repeats in different colors. The BMV patterns are rated easy or very easy; the wraps are supposed to be one-hour projects. I'm getting the hang of Kwik Sew tops. (We'll pray together when I start Hot Patterns 1062.) Including the current KS3338 top, I want to return to work on January 4, with six new pieces. First on my sewing agenda is tweaking my dress form. Ruby was perfect until I put the cover on her. Everything got compressed and the cover really doesn't work with the sway back situation. I added more padding, but the butt is too high and round. The top I'm working on fits me better than the form. I have to fix her ASAP, especially before I start the pants and skirts. Well, here's the wardrobe plan. All in ponteroma knit (purchased with coupons of course). Holiday Break
  • KS3740 (brown)
  • KS3617 (cream)
  • M5241 (brown, cream & black). I've been calling these wraps, but I guess they are cardigans.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

It's a Miracle!

Look at what a good press will do! No puckers. Yea!!!! I had pressed the sleeves and decided to try and salvage the neckline. Look at what happened. Woo Hoo!

Back to the sleeves. I realized I need to sew very slowly. My lead foot is not welcomed while sewing. Even still, I ended up with this:

After pressing, I still see puckers, so I'm going to press again. I just had to stop and share my neckline joy.

Pucker Up

Yesterday was neckline day. I also worked on the fit in the back; I finally realized that the fabric was pooling because I cut the back too big. I'm trying to remember if I was this clueless when I started cooking. I think the difference was that when I was little, I could stand at the stove and ask questions. I was given small tasks as a helper and paid with chance to lick cake batter from the bowl. Those were the days. I'm on my own with sewing. That is until I find great how-to videos, but more about those later. So I stitched my neckband and pressed it open.
Next, I folded the neckband in half and pinned it to the center back, center front and shoulder seams. I machine-basted it in place. The neckline puckered, so I redid it. It puckered again. I tried a longer stitch length with my already loosened tension. Still puckered. I chalked this up to hurry-up-and-finish-the muslin-and-figure-it-out-before-you-make-the-real-shirt. Probably a bad call, but my frustration level had risen to "I hate sewing." I stitched the neckline in place using the overcast foot. Yep. More puckers.
The good thing is that I've figured out what I was doing wrong -- I was sewing this with the free arm and the neckband was on the bottom. Duh. That's easy to say now, after I saw this video. Duly noted for the real thing, which I need to have finished before the end of the year. Practicing with the sleeves today. See, my attitude has changed. I realize that with each new technique, the first try is practice. I no longer have delusions about my truly neophyte skills. My frustration has dissipated.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

I Turned On The Sewing Machine!

This weekend was about fits and starts. But it ended we me actually at the machine - for five minutes. I was so happy. Let me say now that I really admire people who sew. I didn't start this thinking it would be easy or that I had a natural talent; I'm now proving both to be true.

But, I love the challenge. The thought of rocking a handmade something so fierce in both garment selection and fit that people ask me where I got it keeps me going. It's actually fun, once you get behind the machine.

However, before you get to the machine, you must prep fabric (did some of that yesterday and reorganized the stash). Then you gotta cut the pattern, tissue fit it and then cut the fabric. You know there's more, but I want to pause here and explain Saturday.

I woke up excited. Got an early start on the pattern. Then I got a little stuck. Are knit patterns cut smaller because of the fabric's stretch? This may be a dumb question with an obvious answer to you, but I was stumped.

This pattern was not fitting Ruby at all, even with the FBA. I knew I was taking my chances on the no-dart FBA because there's a max amount you can adjust, but damn. Then there was the issue of the backside and side seams. "Twas not pretty. What I should have thought of was adding width at the hips! Anyway, I traced the new seam line, got distracted and didn't come back to it until late Sunday afternoon.

I was getting ready to cut out the front piece of fabric when I realized that I although I traced a seam line, I never traced and cut the cutting line. I'm brilliant like that at least once a week. If you look closely, you can see the oops here. Learning that coasters make great pattern weights was a bonus.

Notice that black fabric. That was supposed to be my muslin. Totally didn't pay attention to the fact it had less stretch than my real fabric. Boo hoo. Start over. I pulled out the original muslin fabric for this top. (Once I got this piece home, I thought, "Muslin my eye. This is too good to practice on.")

Here we are all pinned up. Is there anyway to fix the swayback thing in a top?

Looks no worse than some RTW tops on me. I know that's not the point of this, but I needed a confidence booster. It's my first time adjusting a pattern, so whatever.

Next, I sat down at my machine to do the easing lines. I was excited to wind the bobbin! The 1/4" seam allowance? No biggie. Yeah right. Thought I could get away without marking the stitching lines. Nope. Why hasn't Crayola or Sharpie done something about the difficulty of marking dark fabric? I have chalk and the white pen, but there has to be something better. I guess I'll be getting one of those new ceramic sewing pencils soon

Okay. Marked all the lines. Let's sew. Easing lines done. What's next? Add interfacing to the shoulders. Hey, I read somewhere that you need to preshrink interfacing. Uggh! Got up from the machine to do that. The strips were so small, I was able to get them completely dry with a towel. Then I noticed on the packaging that it was preshrunk. So is only the type you buy by the yard that needs preshrinking? Anyway, let's fuse, baby!

Yea! Let's sew. Wait, something isn't right. This is because I pinned the wrong side front to the right side back. Then I pinned the wrong shoulders together. Then I realized I had not finished marking the seamlines on the back. (This is why I do all of my important thinking in the morning, I'm completely useless at night.)

The directions say to overcast the seams. I have an overcast foot. No problem.

Umm, problem. My foot isn't adjustable, so my seam allowance is now 1/8." Oh well. I suppose I could have trimmed everything 1/8" and then proceeded, but where's the fun in that? Duly noted for the real thing.

Perhaps I should have put the interfacing right to the edge of the fabric? I guess muslins are important after all *wink.*

And that was my sewing weekend.

Friday, December 11, 2009

What Had Happened Was

Usually when you hear that, whatever immediately follows is bound to be some foolishness. This is no exception. I went into Hancock again today to purchase the last of the knit fabric for the wardrobe I'm planning. Just needed 2 1/2 yards for some pants. As luck would have it, there was a cut in the last of the chocolate brown ponteroma knit. Darn.

As I perused the fashion fabrics at this location, I spotted this:

$2.95/yd plus a 50% off coupon! I have no idea what kind of fabric this is, but I was sold at "machine wash cold, tumble dry low." I took what was left on the bolt, a little over three yards. I wish there had been more so I could have copied the first lady's sheath dress and matching coat look. Oh well. I still see a sheath in the distant future, perhaps Vogue 8555, View A. Look at how pretty Cenetta's is.

As for the wardrobe, I still need that knit and some corduroy. I'll be waiting on the knit until the next batch of 50% off coupons rolls around.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I Couldn't Help Myself

My name is Carla and I am addicted to fabric. Okay, patterns too. I had a great system going -- don't buy more than can fit in the bins I already own. Oh, how I have walked away from that. Two things haunt me -- I can't pass up a good deal (thanks, Vogue Fabrics) and I keep re-envisioning what I need in my wardrobe. I have finally mapped out a wardrobe that will have some mix and match pieces, so that should help. All I need is the last of the fabric! LOL

Anyhoo, so I was working this wardrobe plan when I needed some cheering up. I decided to take a stroll through Hancock Fabrics. This is monumental because a fabric store has now replaced Target and Williams-Sonoma as my happy store. The fact that the value fabrics are different at each location encourages my bad behavoir.

Look at what I found!

The plaid is a poly taffeta (I think). When I spotted the plaid (I'm attracted to most things shiny) I immediately thought holiday, but it's a bit loud to be covered in it from head to toe. Enter green poly dull satin. The green makes it more Christmas-y. Would you believe the plaid was $4.95/yd and I had a 50% off coupon? Score! The satin was 30% off.

Decisions. Decisions. After I finish KS3338 this weekend (prayerfully), do I start the wardrobe or play with this in hopes of something new and cute for Christmas or New Year's Eve service? It's been years since I had a Christmas outfit (childhood flashback).

I Heart Christmas

This has absolutely nothing to do with sewing. I just wanted to share my holiday decorations with everyone. See everything here.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Starting Over -- Kwik Sew 3338

Let's see. I was kinda proud of my progress on this top. Then, Ruby came and then Thanksgiving, etc, etc. (Speaking of which, I'm open to any and all suggestions about how to mimic my swayback on a dress form.) So when I sat down to pick up where I left off, I realized I probably should start over.

Two reasons for the decision: a dress form to make fitting easier and I wasn't real clear on how to do an FBA without creating a dart. I wasn't grasping the concept from Fit For Real People. Enter The Perfect Fit -- it made things crystal clear! The clothes in the book are dated, but the advice is timeless.

So, according to the book, The max I can add to the bodice width is 1 1/2." I hope that's enough! I probably should know for sure, but how in the heck do you tell with a knit pattern? Isn't it cut smaller anyway?

So again, I'm using Swedish tracing paper. Love that stuff. I hope Santa brings me more for Christmas. Here's the pattern on the form:

When tracing, I traced both the medium cutting line and the extra large. When cutting, I just left a gap between the two. I figured I could tissue fit the side seam after the FBA.

I'm new to this, so I'm not sure if I did this right. I tugged at pieces of the pattern to get it to fit the form better. I thought that back and shoulders were pretty standard, so the fit issue must be in the bust. Therefore, I got everything else to lay properly and let the center front do what it wanted.

Now for the adjustment. I slid the armhole portion out the max 3/4." I moved the center front waist down 2".

Well, that was all of my Sunday progress. (I spent most of my sewing time finishing padding out the dress form.) Next, I have to blend the cutting and stitching lines. My goal this weekend is to finish the muslin.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Ugly Truth - Padding A Dress Form II

Ruby's padding is complete. You can see the previous steps here. I think I really have a body double. What's scary is looking at an image of myself. People, I highly suggest you DON'T try to pad out your dress form so close to Thanksgiving; you'll never be able to enjoy your food.

Well, here's the view I like:

I can even stand this one:

It's this one that I loathe ...

No wonder RTW pants never fit! The exception was the fabulous Right Fit Blue by Lane Bryant. Now the smallest size is too big for me. (I have mixed emotions about this.) Anyhoo. I'm semi-convinced that the butt shape isn't right. The measuring tape says otherwise. I think it's too round, but I'm tired of futzing with it.

Let's compare, shall we?

Ugggh! Padding out a dress form is so humbling. Okay, the fact the pictures of me are shot closer doesn't help. Well, I know I gotta work on the left hip. And no, I didn't make the butt too round. lol. I thought I had a high hip on the right and the left was normal. Now I think the right is normal and the left has a saddle bag. Nothing that a little batting and pins won't fix. Her stomach is flatter than mine. I'm okay with that because that's the part of me that fluctuates the most.

Getting those jeans on the form was a beast. Please let that cover arrive this week.

Well today should be my last day in the sewing room for a while. I have guests coming to town for Thanksgiving and I'm already a day behind. (I was supposed to clean today.) I really want to tackle the sloper, but I'll get to it eventually. Maybe Sunday.

Cheap Date - Padding A Dress Form I

Ruby is here! She is a Dritz My Double Deluxe. I'm happy she's here, but I am greatly disappointed in her quality! She arrived broken, but she's workable with tape. The dials are amazingly cheap! They are 100% plastic and snap easily. The tape will do to hold her at my current size, but I fear any future adjustments. I've asked the seller to send me another form and she's agreed.

I spent the first fitting session trying to use tape to compensate for the broken dials.

Yesterday, I padded her out. I had to laugh at myself. I never stuffed my bra when I was younger and it shows! I had the hardest time making even breasts! Still not sure they are shaped like mine, but the bra is full.

What I noticed is that although the form was adjusted properly, the form wasn't padded enough in the back, shoulders, etc. The bra's band and straps were perfect on me, but too loose on the form. I added batting and fiberfill to help the fit. I used pins where necessary to anchor the padding.

There is one thing about the bust that worries me: the tops of the bra cups aren't flush with the form. That's why I added a full layer of padding around the top of the form. My hope is that when the cover arrives, it will be tight enough to smooth and squish as necessary.

The top is damn near perfect. What really helped (in the absence of a sloper) was a knit top. I tried it on me, then the form and tweaked the form until it mimicked my fit.

Now for the hard part. I needed a form to help me fit my lower half. I have around a 32" waist and 48" hips. Of course with the hips come the butt. I wouldn't trade my shape for the world (okay I would trade for Serena Williams'); it's just so hard to fit. It's even hard to to translate to a form.

In the above pics, the butt was uneven. What helped me immensely later was a
mirror. For some reason, it was so much easier to see where I needed to adjust the padding.

Now for the finer points: make sure you tape the large open spaces in your form. I tried to use fiberfll, but it just fell inside the form. For the smaller spaces, I used batting. Instead of cutting individual strips, I covered the whole form. When pulled tight, that batting helped me shape the padding I used for the hips and butt.

Next, I worked on the right hip. I thought the left one was fine, but you'll see that mistake in the next post.

Let's review. Here's what you'll need to make your dress form look like you:

  • Polyester batting
  • Fiberfill
  • Packing tape
  • Measuring tape
  • Pins*
  • Bra
  • Full length mirror
  • Sloper or clothing you can use for comparison
  • Dress form cover (I'll update the post once mine arrives.)

*For areas where I knew I would be doing a lot of adjusting, I used pins with pearlized heads. They are a lot easier to pull out than the others. Once I was really sure, I replaced the pearlized pin with a long satin pin. In areas where I didn't think it would matter, I left the orginal pin in place.

UPDATE:  Shave hours off this project by using foam pads! I got a new Ruby and used the Fabulous Fit Dress Form System

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

She's Here! She's Here!

Ruby is here, but I'm not. She has been delivered to my office. Unfortunately, I'm out of the office for a few days :-( Could I be lucky enough to get sloper patterns, form and cover all this week?

I'm so excited!

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Stars Are Aligning (My Pocketbook Isn't)

Wouldn't cha know it? This morning Club BMV has a buy-1-get-2-free pattern sale. My fitting shells are on the way! I say shells because I ordered three. Did I need three? Who knows? By bust is a 12, waist 18 and hips 24. Seriously. The largest size they had was a 22, so I know I'll have to add something to the hips.

Anyhoo. Perhaps God is tired of me sweating this fit issue; He's making it easier to get the tools and things I need. Or, this is yet another test of financial willpower and I'm failing miserably. Subsequently, this will be the most low-key Thanksgiving I've ever had. I guess that's okay because I will probably hate to tear myself away from the sewing machine to cook. (This has happened many a Saturday.) Oh well, it's the choice I made.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Anxiously Waiting

Waiting for Ruby to arrive. I have my fiberfill ready and I have some poly batting. All I need is her and the cover. The cover is coming from England. Did you know Adjustoform makes the Dritz forms? I realized that last night when I was in Joann's and trying to get a sense of how much padding the form would need. I walked away clueless about the padding, but I noticed that the box said "Made in England." Who knew?

In anticipation of her arrival, I've been doing some research on slopers. I'm going to go with the Perfect Fit from McCall's. I've been really studying my Palmer/Pletsch books:

Of course as I read, I'm sooo confident I can do whatever technique I'm reading about. Then comes reality when the pattern is in front of me. I know a dress form won't magically increase my sewing skills, but I'd like to think I could at least start getting the measurements right.

I've reprioritized my sewing projects. I have to have stuff I can wear to work now. In no particular order are:

Burda 8087 or Kwik Sew 3385. What I've discovered is the muslin I was going to use for KS3338 could be the fabric for KS3740. Hmmmmm. Is the only way to check for fit on a knit garment is to use another knit? Please say no.

Lastly, I've added what I hope will be the last two books I'll need to add to my library for a while. I got a highly-recommeded general sewing book by Reader's Digest. Folks can't stop raving about it.

I think this will be my last book on pattern alteration, The Perfect Fit.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thank You eBay!!!

Happy! Happy! Joy! Joy! I am now the proud owner of a Dritz My Double Deluxe dress form! And a cover! Now, this sacrifice means I may be eating roasted chicken and canned goods for Thanksgiving, but I think it's worth it ;-)

I'm so excited! I know Ruby won't be perfect (I've already named her), but I can give her the bumps and curves she needs to be Mini Me. Well ... she won't be mini. I saw where someone else named her form Semi Me, now I get it.

For instance, she'll need about 4" more on the hips. And tons more junk in her trunk, but I'm not worried. I had to purchase an adjustable dress form because I have 30 pounds to lose and I can't buy a new form for every 10 pounds.

I had a three-part plan to get an accurate representation of me -- dress form, cover and padding. For the cover and padding, I thought about the Fabulous Fit Fitting System. At $137, I'm having second thoughts. I was able to find a cover on eBay too. If I pick up some batting, I may be able to get the same effect. I found a great tutorial on Pattern Review.

Hopefully My form will be completed by the end of next week. Then, I can spend the Thanksgiving week sewing stuff that fits!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Little Progress

I've been busy today. I've been trying to figure out how to do an FBA on a top without a dart. Is anything simple when sewing? I'm not frustrated because of the work; I hate I ran out of time. Had to work for an hour and then spent a couple of hours in the kitchen. Dinner was tasty.

Anyhoo. I'm not sure if I'm doing this right, but I'm proud of the attempt. Let's see first, I dug through the trash and found the large and extra large cutting lines. Score for Kwik Sew. Real paper made reattachment easy.

Humpty Dumpty is all put back together again.

Now, once I taped everything back up I brief agonized, and I do mean agonized over how to get from a medium to an extra large. Here's what I'm most proud of, I decided to tissue fit the pattern. Not only that, I traced the pattern onto sewable pattern paper. This may not sound like much to you, but this is big stuff for a girl who was baffled by understitching a few months ago.

I got lazy with some of the markings. Who needs the cutting lines for medium, large and extra large anyway?

I'm sure this will come back to haunt me, but I couldn't tape the pieces together smoothly. Here are the pins.

Let's see if I can draw the cutting line. I pined the 1/4" seam allowance.

Shoulder too.

Now comes the FBA. Here's a random line. Well, not really random, but kind of because I had to make up where I thought the dart should go. Of course there was no apex on the pattern. I made that up too.

Now from that line to this, I'm not really sure what happened. The one thing I do know is that I'm prioritizing a dress form over car repair. I just have no idea what I'm doing when I try to fit myself.

The above looks like the book, Fit For Real People, but I'm completely guessing with the measurements. I really did try to add an apex to the pattern and measure center front to center front, but it was all too much. When I sliced the pattern, I just pinned some random distance. I'll figure it out next weekend.