Sunday, August 28, 2011

One Step Forward, Two Steps Backward

So, I decided not to rip out the skirt on this muslin. I wanted to keep going so that I could practice the casing part. But before I jump ahead, here's where I ended up with my crash course on gathering yesterday.

It looks like I can sew, don't it? :-)  I measured the width of the front bodice and the skirt pattern pieces. Then, I divided those measurements in half. I adjusted the tension and stitch length until I could get a 9 1/4" test strip to be 5 3/4" after it was gathered. It took me about four tries. After I gathered the skirt sample piece to the right size, I sewed it to the bodice sample piece. Why don't they design gathering feet so that you can gather and sew with a 5/8" seam allowance? The foot for my machine gives you a 3/8" seam allowance.  Maybe it's just Pfaff.

This isn't perfect. I realized that with a gathering foot, the first and last 1/2" of fabric will not gather. In later tries, I found that if I stopped the needle just so, and pulled the threads, I could get those ends to gather a little.

See how nicely the edges line up? I have to point this out because that was so not the case with my muslin skirt and bodice seam allowances. Because the ruffled edge was so uneven, I had problems sewing the skirt to the bodice with an even 5/8" seam allowance and sewing the 1/4" casing.

Here's the other reason I struggle with the casing each time I attempt this dress -- I can't sew straight! I have the "sew slow" function engaged, I've tried using topstitching and seam guide feet, but I'm still all over the place. Before I made the sample, I blamed it on the poor gathering job I did earlier. Nope; it's just me. If you look closely below, you can see the sample seam is crooked too! I really am sewing special ed :-)

I've gone on an on about my inability to sew straight. Why does it matter? When I tried to insert the elastic into the casing, the tunnel was too narrow in some places for the elastic to go through. Uggh.

Actually, I'm not that upset. I want to go back and work on the front bodice some more. The beauty of the older version (besides the fact the casing was wide enough) is that it's really snug across the chest.  The neckline is too low, but I like the width. I also don't have to pull the shoulders back, which I was doing with this muslin.

The version above is a size 16. I spent a day back and forth between the mirror and the sewing machine as I adjusted the side seams and shoulder seams. I chose the size based on my bust instead of high bust measurements. Now, I'm trying to understand those changes on a flat paper pattern. Kinda hard for me to grasp. I wonder if this would be easier if I had been better at geometry.

Well, I've traced the bodice pieces in both a 12 (where I should start according to my measurements) and a 14 (reviews for the pattern say it runs small). Gonna start with the 12. We'll see how it goes. I'm giving myself until Labor Day to figure this out.

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