Sunday, January 31, 2010

Not Bad For A Muslin - Kwik Sew 3617

I finished KS3617 today and not without drama.  First, you see that blue dot on the neckband? That was where I numbered the wrong side of the pattern piece so that I wouldn't confuse things.  I used a Mark-B-Gone marker.  Then  I fused interfacing over the mark.  Now, when the collar is wet, the ink goes away.  When the fabric dries, the mark reappears.  That better come out when I wash the top tomorrow.

The second bit of drama was, and I almost came to tears, when I was hemming the sleeve.  I used my machine's free arm and I thought I had stretched the fabric out.  I don't know if I would have recovered if I had.  Thank God it worked out. 

I purchased the fabric to be a muslin.  I think that by the time I was done with the sale at Hancock, I paid around $1.00 for the fabric.  Silly me should have bought the whole bolt.  Then I'd have a more realistic muslin fabric for this ponteroma knit wardrobe. In the back of my mind, I was hoping that this muslin would be wearable.  I think it is:-)

The last quirk I have for this top is something I've done with everything I've tried to make -- I accidently cut a hole in it. Without fail, I do it every time.  I know less about mending and darning than I do sewing, so here's my best attempt at a fix.

Let's review, shall we?

Pattern Description

Misses' pull-over close fitting tops. View A has scoop neckline with wide neckband and full length sleeves.
Pattern Sizing

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Yes. Kwik Sew has become my favorite brand for knit tops. The patters are well-drafted and the instructions are clear.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I love the scoop neck with wide band. 

Fabric Used
Ribbed knit from Hancock's value fabrics

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made
1.  I tissue-fit the patten as subbested in Fit for Real People: Sew Great Clothes Using ANY Pattern (Sewing for Real People series)

2.  No-dart FBA as described in The Perfect Fit: The Classic Guide to Altering Patterns.

3.  I added back darts.  At the time, I didn't understand how to do a sway back alteration. So I added darts using a really scientific method; I pulled out a pattern that had darts and traced them onto this pattern.

Would you sew it again?  Would you recommend it to others?
Of course. It's a good basic top.  If I can tackle this with moderate success, beginners should have no fear.

This top is a wardrobe staple. I look forward to it in many colors in both short and long sleeves. 

Beginners, here are the skills you'll get to practice:
  • Working with knits
  • Understitching
  • Hemming
  • Double-needle topstitching
  • Fusing interfacing
  • Attaching a shaped neckband 
See the work in progress here, here and here.  Thank you to those who provided advice and encouragement along the way.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What I Learned Today

So I'd really be close to done with this shirt had I not ran out of thread. Lesson learned? Don't use real thread for basting stitches. What makes it so bad is that I was in two fabric stores today! Good news is that I like the fit. Redid some of the top stitching on the neckband.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Slowly But Surely - Kwik Sew 3617

I completed the neckband today. It takes me a long time to work a neckband. I get confused about which way to pin it. And it takes me forever to sew it onto the neckline.  This one was a two-piece neckband with interfacing.

I have it attached to the top.  Please tell me what I was supposed to do with all those seam allowances. I made up a way to trim them, but I'm sure there are some proven techniques.

My understitching skills need work.

Didn't do too badly on this round of understitching.  This is the part that really took forever because I had to rip and re-sew several times.  Okay, a ton of times.

I pressed everything within an inch of it's life. Next up sleeves, side seams and hemming.  Whoo hoo!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Winging It -- Kwik Sew 3617

I'm making slow, but steady progress on Kwik Sew 3617.  I decided to add contour darts to help with the pool of fabric at my backside.  I kept looking for clear directions on how to do the sway back adjustment, but I couldn't find any written and illustrated so that I could understand.  I also have some serious concerns about adding a horizontal seam across the back. If anyone has pictures of how the finished technique looks, please share.  **Update:   found the technique illustrated here. Silly me thought that the seam would be visible in the garment like adding a dart**

Back to the contour darts.  I took the path of least resistance.  I went through my patterns to see which had back darts.  I decided to go with New Look 6945.  I simply traced the darts from that pattern onto the new pattern. How's that for winging it?

Here's a recap of what I've done so far:

When I trace my top patterns, I usually trace the side cutting lines for small-XL.

Then I tissue fit.

It's painfully clear why RTW never fits me! Next I add cutting and sewing lines.

Now, after some slicing and dicing (no-dart FBA).  I end up with this:

After the FBA, I elected not to redraw the cutting and stitching lines.  To make things easier, I included a 1" seam allowance when I finished the FBA.

Time for the darts.  Since I was new to this, I ended up tracing all of them (and not too neatly).

I ended up going with the one for the largest size.  I also tried to increase it.

Here we go.  Not bad. Certainly not perfect but, not bad. 

My FBAs are getting better with each attempt. I just wish I could get the armhole shaping right. Anyhoo, Got my neckilnes ready for later use.

I'm hoping this will turn out well.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

New Vogue & Kwik Sew

Before I get to the new patterns, based on my last post, what do you think about adding contour or concave darts to the back of Kwik Sew 3617? Now, exactly how do I go about doing that?

Anyhoo.  New patterns!  I'm not as excited by these as I was by Simplicity and Burda. Vogue killed my joy because many of the new styles don't come in my size. 

Of the Vogue patterns that will readily accommodate my hips, I'm getting these:

Here's my either-I'ma-finish losing-weight-or-learn-how-to-grade-patterns choice:

Looks like Kwik Sew will continue to be my favorite company for knit tops.  Been waiting for a V.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Are Darts My Friends?

I made a very rough muslin of Kwik Sew 3617 tonight.  I think the front of the top is fine.  I was very proud of my no-dart FBA.  I also did a nice job of tissue fitting.

When I looked at the back view -- uggh.  It's very similar to this:

Are darts the answer for fixing that pool of fabric?  I've piled all of my reference books and all my shirt patterns with back darts in the bed for some late-night reading.  In the meantime, please let me know if I'm on the right track.  Back darts in a knit top seem odd to me, but that's the only way I can imagine a fitted shirt fitting me. Since I plan on wearing the shirt out and not tucked in, I need to explore every option.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Book Review: Curves Rule & Flat is Fabulous (My New Favorite Book)

A couple of weeks ago I was looking for a new journal and ended up in Papyrus.  I go to that store maybe once every three years.  Well, things have changed since my last visit.  Papyrus has a tiny, but killer book selection.  The display may have had only 15 books, but they were all good books.  I wanted to buy each one!

Anyhoo, the future sewing maven in me spied Curves Rule and Flat is FabulousLadies, this is 130 pages of self-love.  I'd been looking for a fashion book that provided some guidance on must-have pieces and looks for certain body types. The reason I hadn't purchased said book before now is because the general philosophy is to hide the things that don't fit into that very fake, culturally non-inclusive, ideal body type notion.  If I paid attention to what the fashion industry said I should be, the only thing I'd have going for me is my neck! What a self-esteem killer.

This book takes the opposite approach.  What are problem areas in the old school of thought are now assets (pun intended). The first chapter is "Got It Flaunt It." Need I say more?? I found it so refreshing. 

This book offers nine shape profiles based on body part:
  • Booties
  • Hipsters
  • Belly Babes
  • Curvies
  • Leggies
  • Dainties
  • Busties
  • Tatas
  • Broads
Eleven confident women provide examples the various profiles. 

The book then provides a fashion guide for various occasions.  Within each of these is a discussion of key pieces and the right versions for each body profile.  For example, "Casual:  Jeans and Tops" is the first fashion chapter. For each style of jeans (boot-cut, straight-leg, wide-leg, slim-cut and trouser-cut), there are tips for Booties, Hipsters, Belly Babes, Leggies and Dainties.

Have you ever seen this in a fashion guide before??! I'm so loving this book!!
"Curvy girls can really turn it out by pairing wide-legs with a stretchy wrap-style shirt to create an hourglass shape."

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Quick Update & New Burda Patterns

I'm feeling better since my last rant. I'm working on Kwik Sew 3617. I waiting until my new copy of KS3740 arrives before I have another go at it. I cut instead of tracing the medium and I don't know how to grade the neckline and shoulders to a small.

I would love to have KS3617 that and Butterick 5394 knocked out this weekend. How happy I would be if they could make an appearance at one of my client meetings next week. I even completed a food post today (this is a miracle.)

Ruby has been re-padded and I think this is the best she'll be until I lose more weight. She starts off perfect at the top, but by the time I add all of the padding for the hips and butt and the tight cover, things readjust slightly. The cover also acts like a balloon in some places -- it stands out far from the form. I used packing tape to tighten it back up.

Now for the patterns. Picked up the McCall's yesterday and I added this Simplicity to the stash. It was one of those patterns I debated and debated. I ended up not getting it. When I saw it on Amanda's blog, I talked myself out of disliking the collar on the coat. I also realized the dress is the perfect sheath for me.

Pattern Review has new Burda patterns! I can't see these really well, so they are on the short list now and will get pruned later.

I'm in no rush for any of these except the jumpsuit. It's the only one for my skill level. LOL.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Little Frustrated & Disappointed

I took another look at the calendar and what I was proposing for my knit wardrobe. With the exception of the Hot Patterns dress, I thought I could get it all done by March. While I was home for work on Thursday, I worked hard on the muslin for Kwik Sew 3740.

I did a better job on the no-dart FBA. I noticed that on my last top, there seemed to be too much fabric on the side of the bust toward the armholes. I also thought the neckline was a bit big. On Friday morning it hit me. I am a 12 in the big 4 and an 8 in Kwik Sew! Of course this muslin and the previous top were too big in places. That was my disappointment. No worries, the muslin was still pretty. I would still finish it and give it to someone later. I would spend this weekend making a new muslin and perhaps finishing the top.

My frustration is that while I was home on Thursday, I noticed advertising on my Vox blogs. When I joined Vox, I distinctly remember reading that after so many months on Vox, the user could request to join their ad program and share in any revenue. From the way the doc was worded, I took away that there would be no advertising prior to the probation period and the user had to opt-in for any ads to appear. I was pissed when I saw ads on both of my blogs.

I tried to put it out of my mind because I needed to work on the shirt. By Saturday morning, I decided there was no way in hell I was going to allow Vox to financially benefit from any traffic I drove to its network. It really was the straw that broke the camel's back. Seeds had been planted last month when I realized tracking site traffic was nearly impossible and a couple of weeks ago when I learned you had to be a member of Vox to comment on posts. I had to go.

I spent all day yesterday moving each of the 22 posts, one at a time to Blogger. (Further confirmation that I was doing the right thing came when I had to search the Web to figure out how to export my blog. There is no export function in Vox!!) It's really like they want to hold your content hostage.

Thankfully, when you delete a blog on Blogger it saves the file and you can restore your blog. That's such a blessing -- I've been food blogging since 2007 and I started on Blogger. All I had to do was recreate the posts from September 2009 through now that were created on Vox. I completed most of the posts. My food posts are so picture intense that in the interest of time, I have a few of the posts in Blogger with words only (no pics or working links). I'll get to them later.

Last but not least, I have to adjust the dress form.  Again. Ruby has a 36" bust and she needs a 34.  I love Ruby. I'm glad I have her, but I dread having to do this because getting things right with her cover ain't easy.

So, it's aftert 5:30 and I haven't done a thing this weekend to move anything forward in the wardrobe. Now, I'm going to try to straighten up the house, look at the Christmas decorations that need to come down and get ready for work tomorrow.


On the bright side, One of the replacement patterns for M5241 arrived this week. McCall's patterns will be on sale starting Thursday at Hancock.  I'll be able to buy more fabric for the wardrobe (I live for those coupons.)  And, I'm a little over a month away from my new sewing machine. (I'm trying to see more of the positive side in every situation.)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Awww Man

I spied the new McCall's patterns on New Year's Eve. Didn't get any because they weren't on sale. All this time, I'd been thinking they would be on sale this week. Nope. Hancock has Butterick and Vogue, not McCall's and Vogue as I'd willed myself to believe. Oh Well. I'm sure they'll be on sale soon.

Here are my picks from the newbies:

All is not lost. I was able to get the new Simplicity patterns. For some reason, I acted as if I'd never seen some of the older patterns, so I grabbed a bunch of them too. Here are the ones from the new collection:

I know my skills need to grow before I tackle the first two, but I can tackle the skirt this summer.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

It's Finished!! Kwik Sew 3338

Whew! This top is complete! I'm so happy. I would be ecstatic if it wasn't for the wrap disaster I suffered through during the break. And to think that stopped working on this to attempt that wrap. The top looks better on me than it does on the form. (I can't seem to get the padding right on the form since I put the cover on it.) I don't know what's causing the neckline to do that, but it's good enough for me (my expectations aren't that high yet.)

What took me forever on this was the hem. Not that it was all that difficult. It's just that as I kept trying to pull the top down over the butt on my dress form that was larger than mine, the fabric developed runs. There was no more extra fabric to be had, so I had to figure out how to fix runs that were about 1 1/4" in some places.

I folded the hem so all of the runs would be on the wrong side, but I was afraid of losing too much fabric. (This top had to work.) You can still see a little of the Fray Check on the right side, bit it's not too bad. The result isn't perfect, but wearable, especially since I made this top to be worn only with this poncho. I'm more than a little ticked about the run that developed in the neckline. Needless to say, as a safety precaution, I finished the edges before hemming.

I used to think Burda had the best directions in the industry, I now give the award to Kwik Sew. My next three tops will be knit ones from Kwik Sew.

My technical issues included sewing the neckline. Not because it was all that hard, I just didn't have much experience doing it. I found the top stitching was a little challenging, I don't think I ever got to the perfect stitch length and tension combo. This was my first attempt an an FBA, I'll get it right as time goes on. There are issues with this one, but the poncho hides all sins and mistakes :-) The parts that show look great! Remember how your mama told you to always wear clean underwear in case you were in an accident? I hope nothing ever happens to me while I'm wearing this top! If I find more fabric to match the poncho, I'll remake this (but I'm in no hurry.)

The cool thing I learned is that instead of using my non-adjustable overcast foot, I could use the zigzag foot to get the proper seam allowance and then cut off the excess fabric. (Cut me some slack; I'm self taught and it's a slow process.)

I told my coworkers that I would be wearing this on Monday. Looks like I will. It might even make an appearance at church tomorrow :-)

Hate Mail

Dear McCall Pattern Company: It was with great excitement I opened McCall's 5241. I spent a lot of time thinking about a new knit wardrobe. M5241 was a big part of the plan -- I was going to make three of them. I'd been hoarding ponteroma knit from Hancock's. I looked like a crackhead as I waited for my next coupon fix. Finally, Christmas was here and I would be able to make these during my time off. My goodness, how slowly I worked to make sure I got the stitching right. I would be wearing these to work and they needed to be right. Look at that hem. I was so proud. I'm learning as I go, so I struggled to figure out how to even hem this. Did I need to finish the edge first? Was I supposed to fold it twice? I had to keep looking at the shirt I was wearing for reference. Not bad at all, not bad at all. What I do need to remember to do is not start in the middle of the hem, but start stitching at a side seam. Oh well.
My topstitching was a labor of love. I was looking for perfection -- a tall order for someone who has problems sewing straight seams. All is well, I even figured out the double-needle thing.
This was only supposed to take an hour! I'm new to sewing, so I do things slowly. I was also being extra careful, so I figured it would take about a day to make this. No problem. Okay. Time to sew the sleeves in. Gee. These seem way too big for the armholes. Let me consult the instructions. There's nothing here that would suggest I need to do anything other than pin and sew. But these seem really big. Time passes and these damn sleeves still aren't working. Maybe I screwed up the markings. I'll re-mark everything. Okay. This still isn't right. Did I cut the armholes wrong? Let me check Pattern Arrgghhh! Other people had problems with the armholes too. This is where I should have cut my losses and walked away. Maybe I could figure how to make this sleeveless later. Although this was mentioned nowhere in the instructions, I tried to ease the sleeves in. Well I suck at it and I don't want the look of set-in sleeves anyway. But alas, what if I could make the armholes big enough to fit the sleeves? Using some really unreliable methods, I figured that if I re-cut the armholes using the seamline as a guide, I might be able to get things to work. Success? Not a chance. By now I'm angry and determined (not a good combo.) The sleeves are still to big. What if like when attaching a neckline, I stretched the armhole while sewing? I'm desperate, I'll try anything. This is when I stretched the armhole out. Game over. McCall's, you owe me $17.72 for the fabric and a bottle of wine to calm my nerves. Actually, you owe me for the replacement patterns I bought/will buy too: Kwik Sew 3285, McCall's 5713 and Butterick 5394. None of these excite me as much as M5241, but I need toppers so I'll have to make due. The good news is that I'm really comfortable with working with this type of knit now. I also got to practice my topstitching. I've also become fanatical about pressing. Yea me.