Thursday, February 24, 2011

New McCall's

New McCall's Early Summer patterns. What a pleasant surprise. I found some "maybes" in the collection; nothing has me checking for next pattern sale.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Book Review: Sew Basic

I was really impressed with this book! I have a couple of general sewing books, but this one has some info I haven't seen before. It also helped clarify some techniques that were a little confusing to me.  To be fair, some things presented were as clear as mud, but I will chalk that up to my long, steep learning curve.

The book is organized into three parts: Before You Sew, Needle & Thread and Perfect Seams. I was trying to figure out how to review the 34 skills. I've decided I won't list them all because you can see the table of contents on What I'll do is highlight the ones that made an impression on me. 

  • Grainline - simply explained; I get how to square the grain now. Really good pictures comparing the drape of the different grains
  • Making Your Mark - completely unclear! I thought the explanation of tailor's tacks lacked greatly. I'll have to turn to You Tube to understand how to make these better.
  • Pattern Layouts - useful info about using the crosswise fold

Part 3 of the book is Perfect Seams. Here is where it gets good.
  • Sew A Perfect Seam from Beginning to End - this was an eye-opener for me! I can now start seams at the very edge of my fabric without the fabric jamming in the throat plate. I also learned how to secure the end of my machine stitching without backstitching.   
  • Understitching - these are the best-ever written instructions.
  • Clipping & Notching - use the method from Threads Industry Insider Vol II
  • Pressing 101 - for this to be a basic sewing book, this was really light. Get your pressing tutorial here.
  • Ripping Out Stitches - who knew you should rip out the various types of stitches differently? Okay. maybe y'all knew, but I didn't.
  • The zipper and pleats sections were written very clearly
  • The sections on making bias strips and piping made my head spin, but I'm not above admitting reader fatigue.
In conclusion, this is a great book for beginners. I caught it on sale with free shipping, so it was a wonderful bargain. Even without a sale, it would make a great addition to the beginner's sewing library. More seasoned sewers probably know all of this stuff.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Silly Me

As I was continuing to think about the sleeves and how the adjustments I made to the pattern may have affected the armhole, it dawned on me that I traced the wrong size pattern! I know this doesn't have anything to do with the the easing issue, but it does explain why the shoulders seams extended too far.

When I traced the pattern last summer, I correctly traced a 12 for the bodice. When I started the pattern this month, I threw that tracing away because I thought I needed a 14. The culprit? I keep confusing my bra size with my upper bust measurement! Duh! I even updated my measurement chart recently and put my bra size instead of my upper bust measurement.

With that said, I traced a new bodice yesterday. I'm not happy with the FBA. Earlier, when I got ready to attach the muslin skirt to the bodice, I realized the extra width at the waist from the FBA was a problem. I thought I could ease the bodice in. That isn't really working for me; the skirt waist has to be eased and easing both is confusing me.

Should I add a vertical dart or take it out at the side seam? That was the question I went to sleep thinking about. When I woke up, I decided I would try the pivot and slide method for an FBA, which doesn't seem to change the armhole or add as much width to the waist. That will be tomorrow's project.  

Friday, February 18, 2011

New Simplicity

The Simplicity Spring 2011 patterns are here! I feel like these came out really quickly, but I'll never complain about the excitement of new pattern introuctions.  Here are my picks:

Too cute!
Misses' Jackets

A wrap bodice!
Misses' Amazing Fit Dresses

Don't you just love the bodice details?
Misses' Evening Dresses

I like View C with the bigger bow.
Misses' & Miss Petite Sportswear

What Are You Doing Tonight?

How about a sew-in? I had high hopes for tonight, but I've been up since my neighbors woke me at 2. We'll see what happens.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

DVD Review: Threads Industry Insider Techniques, Vol I & II

I was able to snatch Vol II up during a great sale at - 50% off and free shipping. Even better, it was a no-risk purchase because I was able to see it in its entirety on You Tube for $4 (the rental time is seven days.) The Threads Fitting Series is also available for rental. I spent my Christmas holiday sewing time with them playing in the background. 'Twas great.

Louise Cutting is an awesome instructor. She's serious about her techniques and will help you get professional results. She and Judy Neukam more personable in Vol I and Judy's commentary is better too. Cutting's style in Vol II seems a bit flatter; Neukam seems a step behind.  However, these are minor quibbles. You'll learn a lot from Cutting, I promise. Please note that some of the techniques are for sergers.

 Here's what you'll see in Vol I:
  • Serge Quick French Seams
  • Fuse & Interface a Hem
  • Hem Sheers with Ease
  • Mold the Smoothest Darts
  • Draft & Sew The Perfect Collar
  • Miter An Asymmetrical Corner
  • Bulk-Free Facings

Here's what's covered in Vol II:
  • Ripple Free Double-Fold Bias Binding
  • Carefully Clipped Curves
  • Interface a Classic Lapel
  • Inset Corners Simplified
  • Tailor a Weightless Pocket Flap

There's something here for advanced and beginner sewers. I'm not sure if all of the techniques are couture, but at least four were inspired by Armani. The Carefully Clipped Curves segment is worth the You Tube fee by itself. The lapel segment introduced me to the world of fusible tapes. even though I'm not ready to try tailoring, I was able to transfer some of the info to my knit projects. (I am now the biggest fan of fusible knit stay tape.) I'm almost proficient in Steam-A-Seam, thanks to the videos!

I'm more familiar with Vol II than Vol I, since I have Vol II  on DVD. I want to get the DVD of Vol I for the dart info. This was an approach I've never seen before and it makes much more sense than what's found in the pattern instructions. The hem technique in Vol I was really easy. I'm looking forward to trying it. I haven't attempted any projects that would require the use of the other techniques in Vol I yet. When I'm ready to tackle shirts with collars, I will skip to Cutting's method from Vol I.

In conclusion, these DVDs are fabulous. These would make a wonderful addition to your sewing library. No matter what your skill level, you could use this info. The techniques are useful and well-presented. You will be able to do them on your own after watching. The best part is you can test them out on You Tube to see if you like them. I bet you'll love 'em.

Monday, February 14, 2011

An Update on the Sleeves - B5454

It dawned on my that the problem with my sleeves may be because I widened the back armhole!  Also Faye was kind enough to point me in the direction of Power Sewing and Sandra Betzina's notion that many commercial sewing patterns have too much sleeve cap ease.  I think I have a solution, but it will have to wait until the next muslin. (Yep, I've decided to make two. This is why I love $3 fabric.)

In the meantime, I not clear on Betzina's instructions. Here's where I'm confused:

Draw three vertical lines from the sleeve cap to the hem leaving a 1/4" hinge at the bottom sleeve edge.  
Huh? The way I take that is to draw the lines from the top of the sleeve cap to the hem line and then cut 1/4" slits into the pattern from the bottom. However, the picture shows the vertical lines running the entire length of the pattern piece.
Cut the sleeve apart and overlap the pieces.
Cut from the top of the pattern to the hinge? Faye, if you and any other readers can explain this so that I understand, please help.

Here are two other resources I found:

Y'all know I'm special ed when it comes to sewing, so of the three above solutions, only crimping is making sense to me right now. I'm wondering if it will work on knits.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

You Got Me Going In Circles - B5454

Because I'm having the hardest time setting in a sleeve. It has taken me days and I'm still not done. I guess the time I did it here was a fluke. I thought pin basting was such a breeze. Now, I'm ease stitching and pin basting. I'm taking a break to blog.

I have one sleeve in and one that's in except for half of the ease. I really don't want to rip it out and start over because the other half of the ease is perfect and the side seam and the sleeve seam match perfectly. Grr. Of course the one that's in isn't all that hot, but I do feel like I've accomplished something.

I promise you that I really did press that seam. Although part of me was hoping that this muslin will be wearable, knowing that this is a practice run takes some of the pressure off. I'm really enjoying the learning process. I feel like I can experiment. And right now, I'm experimenting with Steam-A-Seam 2 Lite.  It works great for basting. I'm not in love with it for hems on ITY.  Or it could be a case of over pressing or even my struggles to sew a straight line.

SAS worked great on the tie opening, once I figured out how I should use it. I'll be going with the method I used on the right side, plus some better topstitching.

I'm using fusible knit tape on the neckline and armholes. I'm getting better at the application of it.

I've been watching my Threads Industry Insider DVD and I learned that I need to stab pin into ironing board and then I can press the pins down with the iron.

The pin heads need to be pressed toward the seam allowance because they do leave marks when you press them down.

I've also been playing around with clear elastic. Through trial and error, I realized that the easiest way to apply it is by using my nonstick foot instead of my elastic foot.

This project and my work on M6078 have also impressed upon me the need for lighter weight thread. I wish I had done my research before I purchased the thread for the real dress. The C&C Fine thread I'm using for this is a 60 wt.  I wrongly assumed that Mettler Silk Finish would be lighter. Nope, it's the same as Mettler's  Metrosene, 50 wt. Guttermann Silk is a 30 wt! There is so much to learn about sewing.

What I need to learn is how to use my Hump Jumper.

After working hard to match the seams with pins, they shifted when I tried to stitch over the bulk created by the tuck and dart.

Back to pinning the other sleeve ...

I so want to have the muslin done and adjustments made before the Friday Night Sew In. I want to work on the real one for that.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Suede Says - Simplicity

The patterns from 2008 Project Runway contestant Suede are here! Too bad they are already sold out. These go up to a size 20.  I really like the dress and I would probably try the skirt.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Book Review: Fast Fit

I'll admit up front that this is the book I use more as an encyclopedia of fit issues. I love the way the Betzina defines the various problems. It's clear language and cute drawings.

After I have a better understanding of the issue, I move on to more robust books like the Fit For Real People seriesFitting and Pattern Alteration or even Pattern Fitting with Confidence. I need waaaay more hand holding when it comes to resolving my fit issues. The other books are more thorough.

During my first attempt at sewing, I took a fitting workshop with Lorraine Henry at one of the Expos. When I walked up to her and explained I was using Fast Fit as the basis for my alterations, she didn't have very nice things to say about the slash method.  If you read Fitting and Pattern Alteration, it talks about how the slash method presented within its pages is corrected so it won't distort the pattern.

The book is well-organized and it's a fun and very easy read. There are two parts:  The first has an All About Alterations chapter that gives helpful information about the sequence for pattern alterations and where to begin.

The second part of the book gets into the "problem areas."  Here it covers:

  • The Back
  • The Shoulders
  • The Sleeves
  • The Neckline
  • The Bust and Upper Body
  • Pants and Skirts
There are fitting tips sprinkled throughout each chapter.  

This was the first fitting book I ever purchased and, at the time, I thought it was all I needed. The more I read and the more patterns I try to alter, the more I realize that I could have saved my money on this one. All of the fitting issues and the the slash method used to correct them are covered in Fitting and Pattern Alteration: A Multi-Method Approach to the Art of Style Selection, Fitting, and Alteration (2nd Edition).

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Fitting Tribute - Butterick 5454

B5454I've been working on the adjustments for B5454 for two weekends in a row, maybe three. After tracing the bodice and skirt three times and two false starts with fabric, it's all starting to run together.  But, I think I can say the hard work has paid off - I have a correctly tissued-fitted paper pattern!!! There are two small tweaks I'd like to make, but I think I can do those in the muslin.

For the bodice, I tapered from a 14 to an 18. Then, I did the FFRP slightly round back alteration by adding a dart. I went ahead and raised the back shoulder seam 1/2" for my forward shoulders. That turned out to be a problem. Too much and I widened the top of the armhole too much.

It all started to slow down with the FBA.  First, I spent a lot of time digging around the internet for instructions on how to do an FBA on a wrap top. I found a couple of good sources here and here. I'm so special ed when it comes to sewing, I had to dig through the pattern stash and find M5974. I looked at the FBA lines on it and recreated them on my pattern.  The pattern was 2" from my CF, but  I added 1 1/2" based on the finished pattern measurements (See, I'm learning.)

I lowered the front should seam 1/2" too. After trying the pattern on, I realized two things:  how jacked the armholes were and my back shoulder dart needed to match the seam in the front tuck. Grrr...  I ended up taking a 1/4" out of the shoulder adjustment. In hindsight, I may have not needed the adjustment at all; that's one of the tweaks I want to make in the muslin. All of the lines on the altered tissue got confusing so I traced new front and back pieces from the altered ones.

On to the skirt. Let the fun begin! I consulted almost every fitting book I own, plus the internet. I tapered from the 18 to the 24. I knew I wanted this dress to be 7" longer. No biggie.  However, I also needed extra length for my rump's curve. I think 4", if I did my measuring correctly. How did I know how to measure and what to do? Click here! The file links on the page don't work, but you can access the files through the link to Yahoo Groups.

Let me pause for a sec to wax poetic about these Burda workshop files. Yes, I have all the major pattern fitting books. I'm excited about this info because it gives detailed instructions like take 1/8 hip width and add 1" etc. Thank you, Cidell!!

What the Burda docs lack is telling you the max adjustment you can make. I can't add all 4" to the skirt back by using their rising hem adjustment. Through trial and error, the most I could get was 2". I had to figure out how to add 7" to the front skirt for the length I wanted and decrease it by 2" for the rising hem (I think.)

Here's the back:

The odd angle of the hem at the side seam is killing me. That's the second tweak I want to make.

Here's the front in all of it's raggedy glory.  Adding 7" and subtracting 2" is all about where you do the adding and subtracting. I got confused during the process and decided to cheat by just taping some paper to the hemline, marking the length of the back skirt at the side seam and going from there.

My side seams were pulling backward, so I whipped out my newly-purchased Pattern Fitting with Confidence and used the pivot and slide method to add 1" to the hip line. Still not too sure about how the side seams look. Since pattern pieces were starting to fall apart from so much handling, I traced entirely new ones when I added the hip width.

The last thing I did was mark how much needed to be taken out of the skirt for my sway back. So what we have, as of now, is this:

Unfortunately, I made the mistake of attempting to re-pad Ruby a while back. The side seams swing forward on her, but not on me.We are now no longer doubles; she's bigger than me in the waist and back and I'm bigger than her in the bust. hips and butt. (I did do a pretty good job with shape of the rounded back.) I don't have the patience to pad her again right now. If I ever get serious about the weight loss, I'll make another attempt when I'm smaller.  

I am pretty dang happy with the tissue fitting. It's a good thing because I've run out of my oh-so-wonderful Swedish tracing paper! I ordered more last night. I love this stuff. I actually sewed the the bodice at the shoulders and side seam instead of pinning.

On last note on this part of the adventure. I consulted almost every fitting book I own for guidance. When it came down to the what and the how, there were clear winners and losers



Book Review: Pattern Fitting With Confidence

If there is a pattern fitting book out there, I probably own it. I wanted to learn to sew not because I couldn't find RTW that I like, there was plenty that I liked -- it just didn't fit! I wasn't happy with the fit even after alterations. And so the sewing journey began.

Pattern Fitting With Confidence is great resource in the arsenal. It covers the pivot and slide method of pattern alteration exclusively. I also have Fitting and Pattern Alteration, which covers the pivot and slide method too.  Here's why I had to have Pattern Fitting with Confidence -- the devil is in the details.  I simply couldn't understand how to make the pivot and slide alterations without more direction.  This is my first Nancy Zieman book and I've added more to my wish list. She writes so clearly and the illustrations are wonderful. I get it now!

The book isn't very long, but it's jam-packed. Here are the chapters:
  • Getting Started:  taking measurements, how to pivot and slide, etc.
  • Basic Fitting Changes:  bust, dart, hip line, waistline, sleeve, shoulder (forward/rounded shoulder not included), back and sleeve length
  • Combining Fitting Techniques:  how to combine multiple techniques and examples of typical combos
  • Fitting Skirts
  • Fitting Pants
  • Fine Tuning the Fit
  • References:  I really like the Body Silhouette Chart. It discusses figure variations without being offensive, provides best styles and even best fabrics and colors.  
Everything is presented in a very simple and easy-to-understand manner. The best part is that she gives you the maximum amount of an alteration. Here's an example:  If your Personal Fitting Chart indicates a change of more than 1/2", divide the fitting changes by four ... add [the amount] to each side of both the front and back pattern pieces."  Wonderful!

To buy or not to buy this book? This book covers a few alterations very well and teaches you the basic method; it doesn't provide the alterations for every fit variation. For that, you need Fitting and Pattern Alteration: A Multi-Method Approach to the Art of Style Selection, Fitting, and Alteration (2nd Edition). You decide if you want breadth or depth. I needed both.