Tuesday, August 02, 2011

All Chevron Panels Are Completed

The back and side panels
of the gray and white striped dress came out just as perfect as the front.  I couldn't be more pleased how this project is turning out.  This is how the perfection was accomplished.   

I had this small quilting ruler which has a bias line and a straight of grain line.  I placed the paper pattern piece on the bias of the fabric.  I placed the bias mark of the ruler on the straight of grain line of the paper pattern.  I  then made sure the straight of grain mark on the ruler lined up with a strip on the fabric.  I moved the paper pattern around until it was perfect.  Everything lined up nicely when it was time to sew the seams up.

I spent some time thinking about a lining for this dress.  At first, I wasn't going to add one, but you can see through the fabric.  I thought about batiste, but I want something that will slide against the fashion fabric.  I will probably choose either china silk or a rayon.  I still will have to order whatever I choose.  It gets discouraging not to just run to the fabric store.

I did some research on how I should lay out the lining - straight of grain or bias.  A good rule is to lay the lining as you did the garment, so bias it is.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

One Panel At A Time

I had a block of time last night, so I decided to begin cutting the gray/white striped dress.  I've cut even and uneven plaids, even and uneven stripes before, but never a chevron effect.  I was a bit concerned.  One mistake could be disasterous.  Therefore, the decision to cut one panel at a time seemed like a good one.   Luckily, I have plenty of fabric, but I don't want to waste any of it. 

The first piece, CF panel, was easy.  I made sure the stripe went in the upward position.  I used the cut fabric as the pattern for the mirror image of the second side.  I managed to line up the stripes easy enough for perfection.  In preparing to sew CF, I carefully pinned each strip, so lots of pins were involved.  I attached my walking foot to my machine to avoid slipage.  Things went smoothly, and I was very pleased with the result.

My next challenge were the front two side panels.  Again, I cut one panel at a time.  A difference was making sure the stripe went in the downward position.  Again, one fabric side was used for the pattern of the other. 

Today I sewed the two side panels to the front.  Up to the bust line the stripes matched perfectly.  Impossible from then on.  I love top-stitching, but I changed my mind about adding it to this dress.  I don't want the stitching to distract from the bevels.  So far so good.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

No Muslin This Time Around

I feel I do pretty well in the sewing arena, but I struggle in the fitting department.  It takes me awhile to figure it out.  Therefore, I usually prepare a muslin of an item I am planning on sewing.  Because I like to think I am getting better at fitting, I decided to make the top, version C of Simplicity 2917 before I start the actual dress.  I found this lovely batik rayon in my stash. 
The colors are coral red, peach, yellow, lilac, and gradations of such.

My main adjustment is for sloping shoulders.  I took two inches out across the back at the arm opening.  A second adjustment was a smig out of the waist curve for sad middle-aged issues.  My final adjustment is raising the waist, because I am short waisted.  I got the side and front pieces all cut and basted together; tried it on, but found it too big in the circumfrence (a good thing) and too high at the bust (a bad thing).  Hence my comment about struggling with fit.  Guess I haven't really made any progress. 

Rarely, do I send things to the trash.  I was tempted.  Instead I recut the waist curves a bit smaller.  In re-evaluating the sloping shoulder issue, I thumped myself on the head.  When making adjustments, if you take away somewhere, you have to put back somewhere else.  I realized that I didn't add the two inches across the arm in the front that I took out of the back.  That's why the bust was too high.  I asked myself why did I do two inches when in a previous garment I did one inch?  I have no answer, but I am going back to one.  Since I can't recut to make the pieces longer, I had to add one inch of fabric at both shoulders and basted it back up.  I don't think it looks too bad thanks to the batik.

The top and dress are designed with princess seams.  A princess seam is used instead of darts.  The challenge is sewing the curves with no puckers.  I matched and pinned up the notches.  Is it possible to fit these pieces together?

You bet with pins and clipping, and it is not difficult to do.  Falls into place quite nicely.

Once I was happy with the fit, I serged all the seams.  In reality I sewed all the vertical seams three darn times.  At least I am getting a summer blouse out of the process instead of a muslin that I would never wear; and hopefully, a perfect fitting dress. 

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Gray & White Striped Dress

For the past couple of issues, Talbots has been showing this summer dress in their catalog, and it keeps catching my eye.  Their dress is navy blue and white with seam pockets and a back zipper.  I like the chevron play of the fabric and the navy contrast at the top and the arm.  Closer inspection reveals top stitching and at least a three inch top-stitched hem. 

I remembered I have lots of this gray and white fabric in my stash, so I am inspired.

I looked through my patterns, but couldn't find one that had a four panel front and back.  Lots of three panels though.  I searched pattern books and found this Simplicity pattern.  Version C appears to be a close match.  It doesn't have side pockets.  I could easily add them, but I'm not going to.  I don't like carrying "stuff" in my pockets.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Treadle Sewing Machine

What drew me to the estate sale I went to today was a treadle sewing machine listed on the items available for sale.  I went with the attitude that the cabinet and the machine were probably not in good shape, the chances of me getting it would be slim, and I didn't really need another sewing machine.  I told myself these things to save myself from disappointment.

There were over a dozen people ahead of us waiting in line for the sale to begin.  I kept repeating the above.  Once inside I simply asked where the treadle machine was instead of wasting time looking for it.  I was told, "In the basement in the back corner".  I searched for the basement door.  There were already a few people down there.  I kept thinking I would be too late, but there it was sitting in the middle of one the rooms with the $75.00 tag still on it.  I immediately pulled the tag off before someone else did.  I was so impressed with the condition of the machine that I quickly put a sold sign on it.

The cabinet is damaged, but not like other cabinets I've seen where the veneer is spliting or missing. It is workable; however, I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to its style.  My husband arranged for it to be placed in our vehicle.  When we finally left the sale with a whole lot of other stuff, I noticed how compact the cabinet was.  I've never seen one like this before. 

After some research, I discovered this is a "parlor cabinet".  It's meant to look like a piece of furniture and not a sewing machine.  Nice job!

Here it is opened up, bought as is, with no cleaning.  As you can see, the cabinet has been disrespected.

I was delighted over a few discoveries.  There was the original manual in great shape.  Acesssories were there and the bobbins are round.  It has the cutest oil can.  There is a box of accessories that I'm not sure is original to this machine.  The basis for this is the fact that this machine doesn't use elongated bobbins.  You can see the elongated onces in the case.  These bobbins won't work, but the accessories will.

Further research via the serial number reveals this machine was manufactured in 1922.  What a treasure!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

SWAP Is Wrapping Up

I stopped posting about my SWAP in March to spend all my free time sewing with hopes of finishing.  At one point the light at the end of the tunnel was visible by first changing option 2 (two dresses) for option 1 (tops and bottoms) and being allowed to use 3 pre-sewn or purchased items. 

I've had these two skirts hanging in my closet for too many years. They're are both made from a soft double knit fabric.

The problem with them was that they were too long (at my ankle) and too tight in the waist.  If I altered them at the waist instead of the hem, I could make them wearable.  I started the alteration of the black skirt by marking 10 inches from the top and cutting the fabric away.

As a result, the waist became too large, so I tapered the side seams from the hem to the waist using my serger.  The original waistband was treated in an interesting way. 

I was excited about reproducing it, but realized that if I ever wanted to take the waist in or out, it would become quite a process, so I went with serging the raw edge and encasing the 1 inch elastic.  Here's a before and after photo.

I repeated the same process for the red skirt, except I made the length a bit longer.

At this point I had three completed skirts, two knit sleeveless tops, and one pair of slacks partially completed.

My next project was the KWIK SEW 3494 blouse made of silk.  I avoid knots on silk as much as possible.  A knot wears away at the fabric.  This is how I work my darts. 

My secret for working with silk is to use lots of pins.  I enclosed some of the seams with french seams.

Truthfully, this is my favorite piece.  It's soft and comfortable.  The hem looks crooked, but it is just the way it hangs on the hanger.

At this point I picked up my McCall's 7883 gold charmeuse blouse to finish it up and also cut out a black charmeuse blouse using the same pattern but with a different neckline.  The black blouse went together quickly, because I had already dealt with the fitting issues.  I had enough gold fabric to cut out a silk camisole to wear under my knit tops.  I purchased a black camisole for my final piece.  Now, I had exactly one week before the end of April.  I convinced myself that I could make the deadline.  This was when the light began to fade.

For some crazy reason, the sleeves of the two blouses were shorter at the bottom front edge than at the bottom inside edge.   I had enough fabric to recut the sleeves, but I needed to think about the problem in order to solve it.

I also had to redo the neck top stitching, because they were puckering.  They also needed button and buttonholes. 

I only had the straps of the cami to turn right side out and attach.

The bottom line is that I didn't make the deadline.  Two people did, and congratulations to them.  You have to be dedicated and commited to finish, and they were.  Be proud!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

SWAP 2011 - Week 12 of 17

You've probably thought by now I've given up on the SWAP contest, but I haven't.  I've gotten a bit distracted but also have been working on enlarging McCall's 7883.  It's five easy pieces. 

People sew for a number of different reasons.  One of my many reasons is fit.  My shoulders and collars of my tops, dresses, and jackets pull toward my back.  The round neckline of this pattern pushes on my throat giving me a chocking sensation.  This unbalanced problem causes the blouse to look a bit maternity.  The front hem ends up being shorter than the back and poofs out.  I've seen this look on men also.  I found the solution for this in this alterations book from 1976. 

The author, Kerstin Martensson, made the first pattern produced by KWIK-SEW.  The illustrations are fantastic. 

I sliced both the front and back pattern pieces from a point halfway between the shoulder and the bottom of the arm opening all the way across each piece.  I overlapped the back decreasing the pattern by one inch and separated the front pattern by increasing it by one inch. 

I haven't cut the sleeves yet, but I will need to change the shoulder mark.

This blouse is cut from gold silk charmeuse.   I'm using french enclosed seams; a technique I don't use often.   The smaller the seams, the stiffer the seams are.  To keep the drape soft, I started the first seam by placing wrong sides together and stitching 1/8 inch away from the edge. 

I sewed a second seam with the right sides together stitching 1/2 inch away from the previous pressed edge.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

MPB Shirt Sew Along ~ Muslin Preparation

My DH is traveling a lot, so his making of a shirt is going to be a slow process because of that and the learning curve.  We did make some progress this weekend.  I started with instructing him about straight of grain, crossgrain, and the bias of fabric.  I had him tear his muslin fabric to get a straight edge and pin the torn edge and the salvage edge.  The fabric looks a mess.  You can see it needs a good pressing, but you can also see how it is twisted, out of shape.

He steamed and pressed the fabric and got it looking straight again.  I explained that if he doesn't take the time to do this, by the end of a day, his shirt will end up twisting no matter how much he has the cleaners press the shirt.  It's ready to put the pattern pieces on. 

My DH spent considerable time cutting out the pattern.  I had him use weights and a rotary cutter.  I forgot to warn him about the dangers of a rotary cutter.  My thoughts were that as a wookworker he would know, since he uses razor blades all the time.  He tried to guide the cutter with his finger and managed to take a tiny, tiny bit of skin off.  Ouch!  I believe people learn from their own mistakes.  He did.  I had to show him the safety button even though his drill has the same kind of thing.  Association is not always evident. 
He did an awesome job with the pieces ~ took his time and did the process with accuracy. 

I am not going to have him make a complete shirt out of the muslin, but I am going to have him do the sleeve placket completely for practice.  It's intimidating looking, but they do go together quite nicely.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Back to Cold Weather

Just yesterday morning, I was walking the beach.  Now I'm wearing my winter coat.  Brrrr!

I've made progress on my DGS's sweater.  I've managed to finished the sleeves.

They were knitted together, so the lengths would be the same.  The stitches are identical to the stitches in the hat.  My only new experience was increasing in the loop between the two stitches.  This sweater has raglan sleeves.   It's important to have two rows of a stockinette stitches along each edge.

I couldn't wait to start the back with all the fun cabling.  The first inch was my challenge.  I couln't see the pattern right away.  However, once I saw what was developing, there were no further difficulties.  It will be knitted straight up with no increases until the decreases for the sleeve edge.  The right and left edges are the same stitches as the sleeves and hat. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Off To The Panhandle of Florida

Tomorrow I'm leaving the cold and snow of NH for the sun and beaches of FL.  Family members and myself are joining my DH at the end of his business trip at Fort Walton Beach.  I won't be taking any sewing projects along, but I will start a knitting one.  Yes, I know I haven't finished the gingerbread socks, but I am saving that for our knitting group, which hasn't met for a very long time.  I'm told maybe we will meet again in two weeks.
 I bought this knitting leaflet a few months back

with intentions of making the sweater with collar and the hat for my DGS.   I actually made the hat as one of his Christmas present.   He looks beautiful in the hat, but he won't keep it on for more than a minute.  He just won't allow any hat on his head.  One day he'll figure a hat will keep his head warm. 

My carpool mate loves this pattern, too, and asked me if I will help her with the directions.  I want to resolve issues before she begins, so I am getting a head start.  The yarn I am using is the Snuggly DK.  It is baby soft and washable.  My gauge is right on with the pattern, which was figured when doing the hat.  It's all packed and ready to go.

Speaking of cable sweaters, my DH and I visit estate sales and yard sales all the time.  Something I was never really into until I met my DH.  We've managed some great purchases.  One is this handmade, cable sweater


for just $5.00.  Supposedly, it was never worn, because the young owner was allergic to wool.   An aunt made them for all her nieces and nephews.  The plastic buttons got damaged during the dry cleaning process, but the rest of it held up just great. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

SWAP 2011 - Week 7 of 17

I don't usually make the same pattern twice.  The challenge becomes lost.  I have no TNT.  However, I thought it would be very clever on my part to reproduce Vogue 2987.  My thinking was again that this should go together really quickly, since I worked out all the kinks.  I'd have another SWAP top in no time at all.  I didn't take into consideration the difference in fabric.  

This time around I used a black rayon jersey.  The fabric has a lot of stretch, but that wasn't my first problem.  I very carefully layed out each piece, was sure I had it right.  Only when I went to put the top together did I realize the gathered side was on the opposite side from the last time.  I did figure out what went wrong.  The back was set on the fold, but the right and left sides were layed singularly.  I had the paper pattern right side up, but the fabric was inside out.  Duh! 

The secondary problem was the stretching.  I had to re-do the shoulder seams three times.  I finally read about the differential feed on my serger.  By adjusting it, the shoulders went together nicely.  I took Sandra Betzina's advice from More Fabric Savvy to use a walking foot for topstitching.  I bought the foot last year to prepare for making a faux Chanel jacket this year.  What a pleasant experience.  The foot was a dream to work with.  If I hadn't adjusted the differential feed or used the walking foot, this piece would have gone in the trash.  Instead I have this very soft, comfortable top.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

MPB Shirt Sew Along - Week 1

My DH found himself the perfect classic dress shirt pattern.

It has all the important features that he's particular about ~ front band, collar stand, collar stay.  I explained that if he can master this pattern, anything after this will be easy.

He narrowed down the fabric choices to this white/lavendar stripe.

This small stripe won't be difficult for him to work with.  It will actually help in locating the straight of grain.  It was washed/ironed and is ready, but I am having him make a muslin first.

My DH spent a few days reading sections of Shirtmaking by David Page Coffin and a 1926 edition of Tailored Garments by Woman's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences on tailored shirts.  I did research on wearing ease for a man's shirt.  Scott R Robinson, Designer and Instructor in Theater Arts at Central Washington University states that a classic shirt should have 3" of wearing ease at the chest.  A fitted shirt should have 1 1/2" - 2 1/2" inches of wearing ease.  I took DH's measurements after I had him watch this video.  Never even thought about the watch.

Since my DH feels this pattern is so nice, I had him preserve it by having him trace each piece instead of using the originals.  I put the cutting table near his work bench, so he would feel more confortable.  At first, he did a lot of complaining about having to trace the pattern.  Something like, it would be cheaper to buy a new pattern than use up his time.  Blah, blah, blah!  I had him iron each original pattern piece, and showed him how easy it is to trace.  That you don't have to mark everything.  So we proceed to trace the large pieces together.  I went on to do other things and came back to this.

What an amazing job!  A little obsessive, but amazing.  If he keeps this up, he is going to have one beautiful shirt.  Each pattern piece is now cut ready for the muslin fabric. 

Sunday, February 06, 2011

SWAP 2011 - Week 6 of 17

I resolved my problem with the sleeveless top of Vogue 2987.  I decided to treat the stretch lace and the stretch lining as one.  I took apart the shoulder seams and placed each lace piece with its appropriate lining piece.  Literally only three pieces for this top.  I first serged the shoulder seams with stay tape sandwiched between the seams.  The stay tape keeps the shoulders from stretching.  I then serged the neck edge and the arm openings. 

This allowed me to cut off 1/4" of fabric while finishing these seams.  This left 3/8" seams to be turned into the inside of the top. 

The outside was topstitched . 

I really thought this top would go together in no time.  Not so.  I changed my serger threads back and forth.  Nude when sewing the shoulder and side seams and black when serging the pieces together and topsitching. 

I broke my left serger needle four different times, but can't figure out why.  Luckily while not doing the seams, but at the end.  I think I am pulling the thread tail while taking out the garment and the needle springs back hitting the looper.  Sewing with knits, and a lace knit at that, is the technique I was trying to master. 

Sunday, January 30, 2011

SWAP 2011 - Week 5 of 17

The Kwik Sew 3494 skirt is completed.  This week I finished the grosgrain waistband.  The bottom edge of the band was sewn down with a back stitch.  I was surprised to find how easy the grosgrain ribbon was to sew through.  I really thought it was going to be difficult.  I made one machine made button hole on the inside tab of the skirt and applied a sew-on hook and eye closure for a lapped waistband.  I used an invisible catch stitch on the hem.

The fashion fabric for this skirt is a tan/black tencel. 

The fabric allows the back flares to drape nicely.

The contrasting black china silk hong kong seam finishes, black grosgrain waistband, and black invisible zipper compliment the fabric on the inside.

This has already been worn and laundered. 

I am already changing my original SWAP plan.  Instead of using Simplicty 6703 for a knit lace top, I am replacing it with this Vogue pattern.

It's the end of the month, and I've only completed one full garment.  I thought this would go together really quickly, but not so.  The instructions have you sew the shoulders together on the lining and the fashion fabric separately.  The beginning of the problem.  I am using a knit lace fabric and a contrasting knit lining.  The seam allowances are sandwiched between the two; therefore, the seam allowances are visible through the lace.  This is not a good thing.  This same problem will happen at the neck edge and the armhole edges.   So here it sits, so I can think this through.