Friday, January 10, 2014

Staying the Course

I just couldn't seem to shake whatever bug I caught Christmas Day, so there has been a little progress on the dress.

Here's the current state of the front bodice pattern piece with a Y-dart FBA. The Y-dart FBA is for those of us who need to add a significant amount to the pattern piece. You divide the amount you need to add to the pattern in half and add it in two places. Here's a better view of one.


As I'm writing this, I realize I didn't tissue-fit the alt. Oh well, I've cut the muslin. That brings me to the point of this post:  the work needed to keep things from stretching out of shape. I did directional staystitching on the seamlines.

Questions for you on staystitching: where do you staystitch -- on the seam line or 1/8" from the seam line? When do you staystitch? I staystitch each piece after cutting. I noticed some pattern instructions have you staystich after you've started constructing. Lastly, do you do directional staystitching or, for example, do you staystitch the whole neckline in one pass?

Don't get tripped up by the white thread; this is a muslin.


Next, there's stay tape. I love fusible stay tapes. My only problem is, I can't see the stitching line after fusing it to the garment. You can feel the stitching line if you've staystitched it. So, do you have to both staystitch and use a stay tape?


I redrew part of the darts and the armhole dots onto the stay tape.


Last question:  which seams do you tape? I did the whole bodice. I might do the skirt's waist.


Here's the bodice with the darts in place. I stitched the shoulder darts with a longer stitch length, just in case they needed tweaking. I am determined to get better at sewing darts this year! I had to try the one on the left three times before I actually got the point right. I kept stopping short of the point for some reason.The one on the right is a little crooked.

I pinned the bust darts because I'm sure they will need adjusting. Last question: I am asymmetrical and I want to fit my right side.  How exactly do I try on the muslin for fitting, right side out or wrong side out (darts pinned on outside either way)? 

Let's see what happens this weekend :-)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Book Review: Couture Sewing -- The Couture Cardigan Jacket

This is one of the best sewing books! I'm fascinated by the classic Chanel jacket because of it's iconic status and exquisite craftsmanship. I'm not one for designer labels, but I want a similar jacket for the quality. As a home sewer, it's one of those garments that done well, will be a source of pride for years to come. This book will help you get there.

Three cheers for a book dedicated to the subject. I was wondering why this hadn't happened before. However, it is worth the wait! I love getting a sneak peak into Shaeffer's personal collection. The garment index makes interesting reading.

On to the making of the jacket. Shaeffer starts at the beginning -- with suggested fabrics and a good pattern. Of course there is a section on the famous trims. There's a detailed resources section in the back of the book; you'll know where to go for what.

The book assumes you can manage diagnosing and correcting any fit issues on your own. You'll do this with a toile. In terms of construction, this book breaks down a very daunting process into digestible chunks starting with the quilting. This is still advanced stuff and obviously includes tailoring. Please bone up on your hand stitches.  There are chapters on buttonholes, the three-piece sleeve, edge finishing, hand-set sleeves, patch pockets and finishing.

Perhaps my favorite chapter is "What Makes Chanel's Cardigan Jacket Different." I love it for the historical perspective. It helps ground you as you think about what you want your finished jacket to look like.

In the DVD, you're walked through each step of the construction process. The DVD and the book can stand alone as complete instructional tools. Together, they are awesome. I will say that based on the reviews, I'd decided not to purchase Couture Sewing:  Tailoring Techniques. After watching the DVD that accompanies this book, I will purchase Couture Sewing:  Tailoring Techniques for the DVD. If the DVD instruction is as good as it is on this DVD, it's worth the purchase.

If you want to make your own Chanel-style cardigan jacket, this book is a must. As other reviewers have mentioned, the techniques here are specific to construction a Chanel-style jacket, but they will help make you a better sewer as you apply them to other projects. This is a great addition to any sewing library.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year, New Determination

Where was I in 2013? Apparently not sewing. Oh well. No use in crying over spilled milk. I have been watching a lot of I mean really devouring the courses. There are some great classes that are really helping me understand fit.

I don't think I'm going to set any sewing goals for the year, I just want to finish stuff. OK, well I do want to make some pants this year. It is really impossible to find lined pants! I also want some flirty, girly dresses.

Here's what I've been working on and what I hope will be my first finished project in 2014, B5523.

I thought this would be the dress I would wear to a funeral. The diagnosis changed (God is so good), but now I have a much more pressing need for it -- work clothes! Let's see how disciplined I can be in terms of working on this every day.

This easy dress has presented a few challenges so far. the process has been slow, because I am aiming for perfection, which means multiple muslins. The first is the neckline. It thought it was wide, so I made some adjustments. Ignore the wrinkles. I had to dig that piece out. I've been concentrating on the back bodice.

Next up was the shoulder fit. I knew I had square shoulders, but I think they may be narrow too. I may need to shorten them a bit more. Then came the back. I cut a 16 based on my upper bust, but I'm using a double knit with less stretch than the pattern requires. It was snug to say the least. I added 1/2" to the upper back and a dart to take in the excess at the shoulder.

I like this method of alteration. I got it from Craftsy's Custom Fitting:  Back, Neck & Shoulders with Kathleen Cheetham. I like that it gives me a sharper angle at the side seam.

So glad I added an inch to the side seams. I need every bit of it. My next task is to sew re-sew the side seams on the muslin using a 3/8" seam allowance. Hopefully that will allow it to skim over the rolls and then I can move on to the bust.

I' hoping this dress will become a closet staple. I want it in double knit and stretch velvet. Here are my fabric options ;-)

Stretch velvet from
Stretch Velvet BlackStretch Velvet Hunter

Ponteroma knit from Hancock.