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.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Gathering Storm

Nope. This has nothing to do with Hurricane Irene. I've spent the week working on gathers. The great news is Nancy Zieman"s technique of gathering over the bobbin thread works like a dream. (If the link doesn't work, the technique can be found in her Sewing A to Z book and video.  The bad news is I have trouble keeping the gathers evenly distributed when I sew. After liberal pinning, I end up with this:

Maybe I didn't pin enough? How do you stabilize gathers? Am I not tying the thread tight enough? Before I left for work yesterday, I played around with my gathering foot and came up with this:

Aren't they beautiful? Now the trick is figuring out the machine settings so that the piece is gathered to the correct width. I can't find any info on how to do this. Is it trial an error every time? I guess everyone else has figured out how to do this without using the gathering foot.  I'm playing around with some scraps to see how it goes.

I guess the best news of all is that my narrow edge foot and I are besties. Slow and steady wins the race.

Now, let's talk about the pattern alts.  I started with a 1/2" square shoulder alteration.

Then, I went in for the dreaded prominent bust alteration. It's not that hard, but it was intimidating because in Fitting & Pattern Alteration, you get a whole column about how to do the alt on a simple bodice.

For the empire waist, all you get is a picture. Yes, I'm sewing special ed -- I like colorful pictures, but I need more details too.

Here's where I ended up.

I wouldn't mind the bodice maybe 1/2" tighter. I think I want to try it in something that has less stretch first. On a side note, this project has really shown me the power of a push-up bra. 

So, as I head to the sewing machine to practice gathers, I'm not sure how this will end up. I have no desire to rip out the skirt and fix the gathers. But, even if I figure out the magic formula with my gathering foot, I don't think I want to cut another muslin or even move on to my fashion fabric. The days are getting cooler, so I won't have long to wear this. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

McCall's Winter 2011

There are new MCCall's patterns to get you in the mood for winter sewing. How appropriate because yesterday, I realized a long-sleeved shirt would have been a great option for the weather. Summer is slipping away...

Anyhoo, here are my picks:

6436 -- Almost anything with multiple cup sizes gets a pass.

M6438 -- Although, I feel like I own something like this already.

M6441 - from Palmer/Petsch. This one is a maybe.

M6446 -- Rebecca Turbow for Generation Next. I love capes and wraps. The hood isn't doing it for me.

M6456 -- the black and gunmetal versions are awesome.

M6450 -- I am a hat kinda girl.

Friday, August 19, 2011

August Friday Night Sew In

Tonight is the August Friday Night Sew In. The link tool isn't working in Blogger right now, so here you go:

Actually, I'm having a Friday-day sew in too. I want to wear this dress on Sunday! What will you be working on?

Handmade by Heidi

Monday, August 15, 2011

Fall Burda Patterns

Burda has made it so hard to keep up the enthusiasm since they got rid of the English version of their site. This is courtesy of my trip to Vogue. I was in the store yesterday and saw the catalog. Here are my picks:

7288 -- cowl necks get me every time.

Technical Drawing

7279 -- won't be attempting this anytime soon, but I want it for future use.
Technical Drawing

7283  -- love it short and love it long.
Technical Drawing

7278 -- Honorable mention. I'm not sure if this would work on me, but I like it.
Technical Drawing

7287 -- it's the separate turtle neck thingy I love.
Technical Drawing

7281 -- how cute is this?
Technical Drawing

7300 -- my kinda skirt!
Technical Drawing

Saturday, August 13, 2011

McCall's 5893 Rewind

I live my life by consulting three pattern books (ranked in order) -- Fitting & Pattern Alteration, Pattern Fitting with Confidence/Fitting Finesse and Fit For Real People. The one thing I can't get a consensus on is the order of alterations.

  • FPA (seam method) 
    • Work from the bottom up 
      • Even length changes 
      • Uneven length changes
    • Then, working from the top down
      • Even width changes
      • Uneven width changes 
  • Nancy Zieman's Pattern Fitting with Confidence/Fitting Finesse (pivot & slide method)
    • Hem
    • Center (front or back)
    • Neckline
    • Shoulder
    • Armhole/Back Width
    • Bust
    • Waist 
    • Hip
  • FFRP (slash method)
    • Back
    • Bust
    • Width Around Middle
    • High Round Back
    • Waist Length
    • Shoulders
    • Skirt

Is there a unifying theme that I'm missing? Seriously. It's not obvious to me (y'all know I'm sewing special ed.) So, if I assume the order of alterations is based on what method you use, what if I want to use multiple methods to fix my pattern?  On the bodice, I need to do alts for square shoulders (pivot and slide method) and prominent bust (seam method). Which should I do first?

I decided to go with the square shoulder adjustment first. It's the easiest! I think it's a length adjustment, so it should come before the bust adjustment according to FPA and it should be first according to Nancy Zieman. (Don't you just lover her?) Two out of three ain't bad!

PFWC suggests that for square shoulders, you do 1/4" or 1/2". I couldn't decide, so I traced both yesterday! Think I'll move forward with the 1/2".

Gonna make some tea (gotta get my mind right) before attempting the prominent bust alt.

Simplicity Fall 2011

New patterns! This collection has a gang of costumes, It's Sew Easy patterns and introduces a new brand -- Sew Simple. There aren't many other patterns.

Sew Simple patterns give you one easy project per envelope. I actually purchased one of these last week for $2.99. The MSRP is $1.99. Thanks local independent fabric store. (The handwritten price sign should have been a clue.) In comparison to It's So Easy, these seem to be a little more fashion forward. Some are pieces from earlier Simplicity patterns. The directions are the standard Simplicity directions.

This brings me to a new point. I am going to get one of the It's So Easy patterns and check the directions. I would love to see some starter patterns with more extensive instructions like "Sew center back seam. Press seam allowances open."  If you pick up one of these as your first pattern and you're self-taught, directions to press would be a great thing.

This is the one I bought:

Sew Simple Misses' Jacket

I'm thinking about these:

Sew Simple Misses' Top

Sew Simple Misses' Jacket

It's So Easy, more so than Sew Simple, seems to be a repackaging of easier patterns from previously released Simplicity patterns. Perhaps both sub-brands are for WalMart? (Marketing is what I do by day.) You kinda have to know your pattern collection to keep from buying duplicates.

For example, I like this:

But I already have this:

Misses Jacket and Hat

I'd like to get this one, but I have to figure out if I already own it.

It's So Easy Misses' Dresses

There's a new Amazing Fit Skirt.

Misses' & Plus Size Amazing Fit Skirt

I don't have a mini me to dress, but I like the misses view.  It reminds me of Serendipity Studio.

Child's & Misses' Dresses

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Comfort in a Muslin

I'm working on a dress, M5893 to be exact. I've made it before.  This time, I'm taking my time and trying to learn as I go.  So yes, I'm starting with a muslin.

It's been a slow process. This is a "1-hour-dress." I've spent that trying to figure out the narrow hem around the neckline, but I'm jumping ahead.  It started with the pattern alts.  When I last made this dress, I mistakenly cut a 16 and then adjusted the side and shoulder seams to get the fit I wanted. (I used my bust measurement instead of my high bust measurement.)

This time, my first muslin was based on a size 12 with an FBA to get me to the size 16. I used the pivot and slide method.  I also did a 1/4" square shoulder adjustment using the seam method. I had pulling under the arms and the bodice was about 1 1/2" too short.

Muslin #2:  I did a prominent bust adjustment (different from an FBA according to Fitting and Pattern Alteration) using the seam method. Talk about stressful! I got through it, but it seems like the most I could add for the length was a little over an inch.  I cut and sewed up the muslin and tried it on with bated breath. The bodice still didn't completely cover the girls, but I figured that with the weight of the skirt and gravity, I might not need to add the 1/2" inch. (I just really wanted to get to the sewing part.)

Now that I look at this pic, I should probably add more width and I'm going to add the length. I had to pull and tug to make this picture decent. What do you do when one breast is bigger than the other? I skipped the square shoulder adjustment. Not a smart move.

My machine is a little over a year old, but it hasn't seen much time in action. I get stuck on pattern alts and rarely make it to the machine. I started with a  wobble stitch to staystich the neckline and armholes.  What have I learned? Going slow around curves is key!

I'm keeping the 5/8" seam allowances, sewing the seams, trimming them to 1/4" and then sewing them with an overlock stitch. Once I get my pattern alts perfect, I'll trim the pattern to get 1/4" allowances for future use. (Yep, this dress is a keeper.)

Now for the narrow hem. This thing has been giving me fits! How do you turn up a neckline hem successfully around the corners?! Good grief. I looked at the old dress and I just did a topstitched hem. However, I'm thankful for this practice.

After spending an inordinate amount of time at ironing board, my time spent at the sewing machine was long and comical too. Perhaps I should machine baste first instead of sewing. Ha! I'm using my narrow edge foot to sew this narrow hem. Not sure if it is necessary, but I like trying out new feet. Let's just say I have go v-e-r-y slowly. Even still, I jacked up the curves. Since this is a muslin, when I realized I wasn't catching the edge, I just cut the threads and started over.

I spent yesterday morning at the sewing machine, so I think that is enough of a reprieve before going back to the land of tissue paper. For the length, I'm going to slash across the pattern, through the bust point. The darts seem a bit high, so I think I can kill two birds with one stone. Think I'll use the pivot and slide method to take care of the width and square shoulder. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Fall 2011 Butterick

Butterick has released its new fall patterns. I found quite a few I'd like to wear with sizes that will accommodate my curves. I feel slightly guilty about getting excited about fall patterns because I'm still working on my first summer garment!

Coming soon to a store near you:

5678 -- A, B, C and D cup sizes!

5680 - Gotta have view A



5682 -- I hope this one is well-drafted and fits great. It has so much potential -- all of your jeans in one envelope!

5687 -- love the cape

5690 -- cropped swing jacket? Sold!