Sunday, November 9, 2014

You Give Me Butterflies -- and Not in a Good Way

Pure adrenaline and novice enthusiasm must have helped me get that first sleeve in. On the second sleeve, I had a lot of trouble just pinning from the underarm to the first notch in the front. I steamed it again. I did some hand gathering stitches. That area is supposed to be 1:1. There was at least an extra 1/2" there now. What happened?

Of course the culprits were the lovely changes I made to the armscye.  The pink line is the original sleeve seam line. The aqua line is the armscye seam line after all my alterations. Aren't these supposed to match from underarm to the notch? Well, they did on the back, so I figured they should do so on the front too. The sleeve from underarm to notch was 3/4" longer than the armscye! So much for 1:1.  


I had a feeling this would happen. I'd even started a secret board on Pinterest for sleeve alterations. However, my eyes glaze over whenever I read the articles. One day, this will make perfect sense. Right now, it's all Greek to me. I was really hoping that Craftsy would come through and put the sleeve-drafting class on sale, but no luck. I think I'll ask them. Pastor always says that you have not because you ask not :-)

So with great trepidation, I attempted to draw a new curve. Whenever I do this, I always feel like I should have paid more attention in geometry. My pattern alterations make me so nervous because the altered pieces look, at least to me, weird compared to the originals. I guess if they didn't, I wouldn't need the alteration. I'll take some comfort in that thought.

So here's where I ended up.


I am so nervous that I had to blog before cutting it out of fabric! This dress has to be finished by next Tuesday and I haven't even gotten to the skirt. Butterflies be gone! I've got work to do.

Wish me luck!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Set It Off

Peeps, that's not bad for a rookie :-) That's machine-basted. Yeah, the basting threads are still there. This is on Ruby, who is now a few sizes smaller than me, but you get the point.

The front

The back

A tight shot of the shoulder, where my seam matching is not the greatest. I forgot to check how I did at the underarm.

Much love, again, to Craftsy! Linda Lee's Ultimate Guide to Sewing Knit Fabrics was on constantly. I must have have watch the part about setting in a sleeve a gazillion times. I guess I should write my review of the class soon.

I wish I had time to try it on me, but work got in the way (gotta keep the funding going for fabric). I'll probably wait until I get the other sleeve basted in. I'm still pleased because I set in a sleeve today :-)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Don't Mess with Texas or a Woman Who Gave You Her Hard-Earned Money

Please excuse this departure from sewing. I have not had to lace up my clown shoes in a long time, but Ashley Stewart has me dusting them off. I also hate doing this on my sewing blog, but I am beyond upset right now. I am really sad about this because I just gave Ashley Stewart a shout out on this blog because I liked the Butterfly Bra so much.

I've been trying to return one of my Butterfly Bras since 10/18. After about a month's wear, the wire is poking through. Not cool. In my entire life, I've never had wire poke through on a bra.

You see that fraying on the strap? Never had that happen before either. The lace was poorly stitched on too. I bought five of these bras. I've only had an issue with this one.

After going back and forth with customer service on how long it was taking them to send me a return label, I received an $8.95 credit today. That was the shipping cost for the order. Really???!

When I called customer service, I was told $8.95 was the best they could do because there is a no-return policy on worn items. So you can sell me something that falls apart in an unreasonable amount of time (about a month) and I'm stuck with it? No way. All I wanted was a replacement bra. Now y'all are making me mad.

Credit Where Credit is Due

Y'all know I'm a gadget girl. I realized that I've been keeping some new favorites a secret. (At least I couldn't find any pictures of them on the blog yesterday.) How selfish of me.

I've gathered from the web that most people enjoy time at the machine rather than pressing. I'm the opposite. I LOVE pressing! Sitting in front of my sewing machine makes me anxious. I'm just not comfortable enough actually sewing yet.

Anyhoo. Here are my custom pressing tools in all of their pink glory! The French Poodle is the cotton side and the plaid is wool. 

These were made by Stitch Nerd. In addition to the awesome color combo, I love that the hams and seam roll are so much larger than the versions you see in the store. She makes them in the regular size too.

I used the ham today to shape the sleeves for the dress. I didn't get much further than the shaping. Sleeves are scary!

Speaking of which, the sleeves have a pleat (see below) in them. I still needed to baste and gather in order to set them in, correct? I guess I was thinking that the pleat would make that unnecessary. Shows you just how much of a novice I am.


Maybe I will sew one in tomorrow :-)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Bodice!


People, I have a bodice! It took seven muslins. I am so unbelievably excited. If I hadn't already planned my days off for the rest of the year, I would have stayed home to work on the sleeves. I think that's funny because I didn't do any sewing this weekend. However, I was on it at 4:30 Monday morning.

Check out the back.


The back neckline is a wee bit loose, but I can deal with it. I want to see what the cowl does before I make any more changes to it. I'm hoping the fix will be simple like snugging it up with clear elastic.

Here's the pattern -- a true testament to the number of alts. The aqua line is the final dart. From the previous muslin, it's 1/2 longer and 1/4" shallower.



So about darts. I'm so thankful for Craftsy's Couture Dressmaking Techniques. I now start sewing at the point! Takes a lot of the stress out of sewing darts.

Now about that dart. The one on the right came out great. I messed up the left one when I stitched the side seam. It's a basted muslin, so no big deal. However. After extremely careful pressing, the dart only lays flat when I tug on the bodice. Otherwise, it looks like this:


See that weird thing below the pinned dart? That's a stitched and pressed dart. Is it the bulk? Is it the length? Should I slash the dart? I'm working with a Ponteroma Knit from Hancock Fabrics. Do you slash darts in knits?

I'll figure it out eventually. Right now, nothing is bringing down my bodice high!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

More Progress

I was so busy sewing and not sewing, I forgot to blog this weekend's progress. To recap, I gotten the shoulder seams closer to where they belong, did the FBA and realized I had a back problem.

Yuck! Here's where I landed. It's not perfect, but I can deal with it for now. There's a seam down the back that will stay for this first dress. 

Next up is the armhole. The girls are wreaking havoc on it.

The fix is to pin an armhole dart and rote it to the side seam.

It looks so funny.

Transferred it to the pattern.

I don't have a lot of shots of the magic, but the steps are here. The shorter dart in pencil was the final dart.


I made another muslin and I wasn't completely happy with the dart. I'm tweaking it and I think I'll have a finished bodice by the weekend.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Figuring It Out

Not much progress to report. I got a suggestion to do a bigger narrow shoulder adjustment. I suspect a high round back is the culprit too.

Did the back pattern alt this morning. For the sake of time, I'm going to curve the CB seam. Once I figure out how much to add, I will straighten the seam and add a neckline dart. I'm starting with a healthy 1/2."

Used a curve get things nice and proper.

Let's see if I get it cut and stitched up tonight.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Back It Up

Undid the broad back adjustment. I didn't think I needed it. Decided to take a 1/4" inch out of the FBA. Now the garment measures the same as me in the bust. 

I now have a knit bodice that fits snugly like it should. I think :-) I figured I should work with a fresh muslin before I got serious about the armhole dart.



What a dart it will be. Check the side out.  Wait is the bodice too tight???


Okay. So my arm is in the way. And no, my $17 pink phone case was not worth the money. However, I have discovered a big problem. What the heck is this? 



Why is the neckline standing so far away? In the two pics above, I did tug a bit to tease out all the excess fabric. The third pic from the top shows a more natural view. Either way, it's just WRONG!  Seriously, is the bodice too tight???

I did lower the neckline when I lowered the shoulder seams. In the front, I raised the neckline and shoulder seams by the same amount.

Looks like I'll be reading sewing books on the train this morning in hopes of figuring this out.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Bustin' Out

Still working on this dress. I need to hurry up and finish it :-)That brings me to the next challenge -- the armhole. But first, let me recap what I'm happy with:
  • Shoulders -- seam placement and length. Although please tell me if my narrow shoulder adjustment was too much or too little. It's amazing how confused I get.
  • FBA and side bust dart. Crafty's Adjust the Bust really helped me get the dart placement right. It ends a whopping 5.25" away from the bust point.  
    • Sidebar: I have discovered the Butterfly Bra from Ashley Stewart. If your girls are ... let's say substantial and you have an issue with bulging under your back bra band, this is the bra for you! It's the only bra I'll consider wearing with close-fitting knits. I have two only complaints -- the amount of padding in the cup; it adds inches compared to my old bras. The second complaint is the colors. There's nothing in white or beige.

As you can see above, I needed to add a lot of length during the FBA and I wasn't quite sure how to true it with the side seam. It's still a work in progress.

I wasted time with the broad back adjustment; I didn't need it. I forgot that knits are supposed to be a bit snug. The good news is that without that adjustment, the shoulder seams match. This is a relief because I couldn't seem to draft a back shoulder dart and my gathering technique still needs a little work. I can't seem to keep the presser foot from crushing them and making them uneven.

Now we come to the next challenge: Gaping front armhole. I've read that the larger the bust, the bigger the gaping. Thanks Butterfly Bra for the extra inches. Anyhoo, here's me trying to pin out the excess. Not bad huh? 


The side view might be a different story, but I will chalk this up to trying to fit myself as I wear the garment.


So today task is rotating that dart to the side seam. I have a couple of resources:
Wish me luck.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A Break In the Action

Still working on alterations, slowly and methodically. I always thought my waist and hips were challenging, but it's amazing to see what all I have to do to get a bodice to fit. Because these are new alterations for me, I had to go to a garment with a more basic bodice -- my double knit dream dress, B5523. I made a completely rookie mistake by starting with the wrong pattern size. What a testament to how much weight I've gained.

Anyhoo. This is a small break in the action for some celebrating. It's my birthday! Anyone who knows me knows I am obsessed with pink (and green). It may not agree with my skin tone or hair color, but I loves it! How fortuitous that my birthday is in October -- the pink month. I do my part by snatching up Breast Cancer Awareness sewing stuff. This year, I found pink Wonder Clips. Who wants my old red ones?

Now for those who may not be able to stand all this pinkdom, brace yourself.  How awesome is this??!

                            Oliso® Smart Iron with iTouch® Technology TG1100 PINK
Even though I have a steam generator, I briefly tried to justify purchasing this iron. My workroom is pink and pewter. I'm just saying. Sadly, reason and good sense won. Boo. However, don't let me stop you ...

Back to reality. My sewing machine is in one room, but I do alterations and cut on my dining table. I'm always leaving something in the wrong room, so I've been thinking about an apron for a while. I found this cool pattern on Connecting Threads.
                                                      Seamstress Apron Pattern Download
My workroom is pink and pewter, so I headed over to in hopes of finding fabric with that color combination. Just look at this loveliness.
                                     Timeless Treasures April In Paris Dress Making Motifs Pink

I went to Jo-Ann's after church Sunday and what did I see? A sewing basket just for me! Talk about absolutely meant to be. So below is my first round of birthday-stuff. Yep, I celebrate all month long.  What you don't see is my wool crepe. I got some tan yardage for practice and some black for the real thing. 

Oh Happy Day!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Still At It

This is muslin 4B.  I think I have the shoulder seam placement and neckline right.  I really did need to lower both the back neckline and shoulders 5/8". I raised the front shoulders 5/8".  Not sure If I needed to raise the front neckline too, but I did.  What's odd is that I had to do a very tiny forward shoulder adjustment; it wasn't even 1/4". I also discovered I have narrow shoulders. I took 5/8" off the length.

Time to move on to the back. I did add 3/4" to the upper back earlier, but it wasn't enough. I figured that since 3/4" wasn't enough and I needed to taper to a size 22 at the waist anyway, I would try adding the difference between the 16 and 22 across the whole back. That's 1 1/2".

The pattern has a 1" back shoulder dart. Does this mean that the dart now needs to be 2 1/2"?  I'm having a difficult time drawing the new dart, so I am going to make a new muslin, attempt to pin it in and then adjust the pattern. Of course, all of this is academic if it turns out I don't need 1 1/2" across my upper back. I'm torn by this. Awesome because it would mean that I'm smaller than I gave myself credit for, but boo because I'd have to change the alteration.

I didn't realize I'd made so many muslins just to fit my shoulders. Who cares because I'm so happy I figured out what to do to get the shoulder seams in the right place. I am a little nervous because the front bodice is self-facing cowl and doesn't have a neckline seam. You kind of need a neckline seam to make shoulder alterations. I just hope I can join the front and back properly when I'm done with all these alts. It looks a hot mess now. I'll definitely have to make a least one muslin with the self-facing.  

The only drag in this process is that my cotton muslin from Jo-Ann is off-grain! It's the only muslin I have left and the cheap in me won't go and buy more. I purchased it months ago and have used quite a bit, so I can't take the rest of the bolt back. I have torn it from the bolt instead of cutting. I have pulled opposite corners. I have tried to coerce with steam. Sigh. I threw the remaining yardage in the washer hoping for a miracle. I haven't used it since, so we'll see what happens today.

Fall hit Chicago like a ton of bricks two days ago. I'm already thinking about B5523!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Big Thoughts

Did anyone else notice something new when the fall McCall patterns came out? If you don't wear plus sizes, maybe not. I do, but it still took me a second to notice it.


Khaliah Ali is now designing for McCall instead of Simplicity. I'm not sure how I feel about this. When I first looked at the new patterns (before realizing this was kind of a big deal) I thought, "This is just more of the same."  Then, I took a closer look at the third one.

Here it is in all its glory:


If you looked at this and thought that you needed to make that immediately, please let me know. Apparently, I am further from the pulse of fashion than I thought and I need counsel. Is this the modern muumuu?  Big girls, don't give in! We gotta fight this.

The state of plus-size fashion makes me a bit sad. Fit -- acknowledgement that there are different body shapes withing plus -- still isn't completely there. When I go into stores like Lane Bryant and Ashley Stewart, I see fashion, but the clothes are cheap. To be fair, I find that in regular sizes too. When did linings go away? I love the Encore section at Nordstrom, but it has its drawbacks too. I'm thankful for the better quality, including less polyester. The trade off is that it isn't as fashion-forward. Lined dresses and skirts are still few and far between. Lined pants are nonexistent.

All the more reason for me to start taking sewing more seriously. Speaking of which, I made a second muslin of the Vogue 8787 bodice after my shoulder alterations. I still need to lower the back neckline. That's on today's to-do list. I think the upper back is a bit tight too.

Peace and blessings.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Shouldering the Burden

Here's the story of my sewing life
  • Fall in love with a pattern. 
  • Alter the pattern tissue
  • Make a muslin
  • Make some more tissue alterations
  • Get confused and stuck
  • Move on to another project
My last three attempts have been dresses.  The fixes I know I need to make in the bodice are

  • Square shoulders -- I usually add 1/2" using the pivot and slide method
  • FBA -- about 3" using a Y-dart from Fit For Real People
I end up with something that looks like this or worse. I never went back to true the armhole!


When I realized the error of my ways, I tried to go back and smooth it out, but I still looked wonky.Then, thanks to the magic of Craftsy, I learned that I didn't have to draw the line to the armhole. I could do the entire spread at the shoulder! Truing the armhole wouldn't be much of an issue. Now what this means in teams of fit on me, I'm not sure. I did the adjustment, but didn't make the muslin.


Why? Because I found and alterations breakthrough! Every one of my attempts at a dress or top results in shoulder seams that sit way visibly forward on my shoulders. My neckline seam at CB is about 5/8" too high. Folks talk about having to pull their tops forward because of forward shoulders. I have the opposite problem; my tops pitch forward and I always have to pull them backward -- a lot. 

Now if situation is familiar to you and you've got a solve, bless you! Please send me the info. I just couldn't find anything about this condition or the alteration needed. I thought maybe my girls were stealing fabric. I thought perhaps I had a smaller shoulder joint, a large shoulder joint, hollow chest, round back, high neck base, muscular neck. You name it. (Now, I might actually have some of those, but they weren't causing the problem.)

Finally my Google search yielded something useful! I found this post from waikikimum on Pattern Review

I always add an extra 1.5cm to my front shoulder seam and take it off my back shoulder as my shoulders hyperextend backwards due to a connective tissue disorder. I must add here that I haven't heard of anyone else doing this and the alteration is usually the other way - adding to the back and taking off the front. 
If I don't add to the front shoulder seam it sits too far forward on my shoulder. At first I had trouble finding where the right point was but then I read that when looking in a mirror from both the front and back you should not be able to "see" the seam. I could always see the seam when looking from the front so I raised it by adding the 1.5cm. 
Another thing I became aware of was that the back neckline was way too wide and caused the shoulder seam to fall forward and I was always hiking my tops backwards. I now always add a CB seam so I can take in the top of the back at the neckline. Once this area fits well I then fix the shoulder seam. I hope this helps.
Because the entire seam sits forward (it's not in the right position at the neck and angles out incorrectly), I added an even 5/8" to the front.


I guess I'll figure out if this is right (versus adding a wedge) when I do the muslin. I wonder if I will still need to do a square shoulder adjustment. Hmmm. Oh well. I'm off to remove 5/8" from the back.

Long Time No Blog

Well hello! It's been a while.  I have no projects to show for my absence. Got really far on the Colette Patterns Crepe, but never finished it. The underlined pieces are still hanging up, but I don't think it's salvageable. Grrr.

So, here's what I'm working on now.  More than a year ago, I fell in love with ModCloth's Breakfast Epiphanies dress:

I'd decided on a cream bodice with a brown skirt. I was so serious, I purchased a 4-ply silk crepe remnant from Promenade Fabrics in New Orleans and wool crepe from Jo-Ann. You know I've always felt my sewing skills didn't warrant good fabric ;-)

I looked through my stash and decided  Vogue 8787 is close to the inspiration dress. Not quite the cowl I want, but it will do. This was quite a popular pattern when it was introduced. It has 25 reviews.

I purchased the fabric before reading through the pattern. The bodice front is self-lined. The 4-ply silk crepe is too heavy to double. I thought about this silk cotton voile from Fabric Mart. I love the way it looks with with the brown wool crepe. Unfortunately, the hand isn't right.

I have a silk twill remnant from Vogue that kind of looks like this. Not crazy about pink and brown.Don't get me wrong;I love the color combination. Pink is my favorite color; it just doesn't work with my current hair color. 


I have had the hardest time finding thread to match. Anyhoo. More about the pattern alts later.