Fall 2016 Sewing

I began my Fall sewing in August.  I love Fall, and the colors that go with it because they are MY colors.  I reorganized my closet (yet again) and found I was woefully short of clothing in olive green.  And I always need tops.  I chose to sew a variety of knits in a variety of styles.  As long as i have been sewing, I still run into things that can cause frustration.  These fabrics did just that – caused some frustration.  I used patterns I have used before, so that helped a lot and the fit of everything makes me happy.  This is probably the first time I have been happy with everything I have made.  I am trying to get over being so critical too.  First up – a couple of “tissue knits”.  These are thin, sheer, burn-out type knits.  I used the Fit for Art Patterns Tabula Rasa T-Shirt pattern here.

The contrast is a brown cotton burnout knit from Mood Fabrics.  I don’t recall where I picked up the green and brown knit – even though I have a ‘card system’ where I keep track of key information for a fabric, I am not always diligent about writing down every piece of information.  I am thinking I may have picked it up on a NY Fabric trip – I usually try to look for unusual fabrics.  I had to underline the print and the brown at the side seams.  I used a tricot lining fabric from the stash.  I did not underline the sleeves.  Seams were sewn with a slight zigzag, then serged.  Hems were done with the zigzag.  I haven’t worn this yet (still too warm), but I think I will like it.  Due to the step of underlining, it was a little time consuming for a ‘t-shirt’.

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Item #2:  I used the Judy Kessinger Fit Nice/Sew Slim T-shirt pattern, with her Therese Tops variation. For this variation, you add a wedge to the side seam before you cut the pattern.  You end up with a slight flare at the sides.   I like the look – there is not too much volume/flare.  The photo looks like there is flare in the front, but there is not when it is worn.  But again,  have not yet worn it as it is still in the 90’s here.

Fabric used is a fairly substantial knit; a ponte-like fabric.  I think it is a poly spandex but beefier than usual.  Again I used the same brown cotton burnout for the sleeves and the neckband.  I made a V-neck for this, and followed Lynda Maynard’s directions in one of the Craftsy classes – Essential Techniques for Sewing Knits with Craftsy Sewing Instructors.  (This is a class made up from excerpts of other classes).

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The last ‘project’ is a twinset.  This fabric was a nightmare!  It is a slippery poly/spandex, 4-way stretch, with tone on tone texture.  The pattern in the texture was horizontal, but I turned it so it was vertical.  With the 4-way stretch, I felt that would work.  The t-shirt took  much longer than it should have.  The pattern used was the Pamela’s Patterns Perfect T-Shirt #104 here.  I have made this several times; however this time I narrowed the area above the bust and it fits much better.  I made it sleeveless, and used binding as a finish for the armholes.  I also lowered the neckline a bit.

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I used the same fabric to make a cardigan, using Pamela’s Patterns #111 Cool Cardigans Banded front.  I have used that pattern before, but this time I made two changes.  I narrowed the area above the bust and cut the sleeve smaller.  These changes were made based on the sloper I have developed for wovens, and the sleeve drafted for that sloper.  The cardigan progressed quickly since I had all the kinks of using this fabric worked out from the t-shirt.

 

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And both of them together…

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I am quite happy with all of these pieces and feel they will serve me well during the fall.  I have brown, olive and khaki bottoms to go with these.

A Tale of Two Blouses

I have two blouses to share.  You’ll see they are both made from the same fabric.  The back story:

The solid fabric came from Wal-Mart a few years ago.  This was the only time I ever bought fabric from WalMart.  The only reason I did was because I was going to a class at the Sewing Expo and needed a piece of test fabric for a class.  I had forgotten to take any test fabric with me.  This is a heavier cotton – very tightly woven.  I don’t recall what I used it for in the class, but I had a good-sized piece left over.  So it was good for more testing.

The striped fabric has lurex threads running vertically in the stripes.  I do like some subtle bling.  This is a lighter weight fabric that came from JoAnn’s , also a couple of years ago.  They are not the best match in weight, but would work for what I was doing.

Blouse #1:

Blue Blouse #1 (2)

I actually finished this blouse about a year ago.  I just never got around to blogging it.  For the blouse, I used  Lekala pattern 5167.  I made a couple of design changes – I sliced the pattern above the bust to create the “yoke” effect on the front.  I used the fabric on the bias for the “yoke”.  The collar is part of the new yoke pattern piece. The sleeve cuff was another design change.  The sleeve on this pattern is a bell sleeve and I don’t like bell sleeves.  I straightened out the sides of the sleeve, then added a cuff to the bottom, slightly gathering the sleeve into the cuff.  The cuff is also cut on the bias.

I also made a few fitting changes.  I moved the back waist shaping darts closer to the center.  I raised the bust point about 1/2″.  I did not realize that the front opening was so low.  I added a snap above the top button to keep it closed.  It is still a little low, but wearable.  I have adjusted the center front on the pattern by raising the area when it curves and the top button is placed.  Sorry I have no construction photos.  I will work on that!

Blouse #2:

Blue Blouse #2

For this blouse, I used my shoulder princess block. It is a jacket block, so I made adjustments for a blouse.  I raised the armhole 1″; reduced the shoulder width about 1/2″, removed the extra in the shoulders that accommodate a shoulder pad.  I used the 2 piece sleeve because it fits well.  I just changed it to a short sleeve that sits above the elbow.

The center front and center back, along with the sleeves are in the stripe.  The side front and side back, collar stand and collar, and facing are made from the solid.  For this one I was testing the neckline.  I wanted to do a jewel V-Neck opening.  The opening above the button is not what I had in mind.  It is not open enough, so I adjusted the pattern for future use.  I often have a hard time visualizing the amount of change I need for what I want to achieve.  I think my best option is to use a pattern from my vast pattern collection for the details I want to copy.

This neckline is what I had in mind:

Jewel VNeck picture

Both of these blouses are more fitted on me than they appear.  My ‘model’ dress form does not have my shape and size.  I am happy with the fit of each, I just need to work on getting the details I want on the garments.  I had nothing left of either of those fabrics after these blouses were cut out.

I have spent TOO much time over the last few years working on perfecting fit.  I can move on to incorporating the details I want now that I have some well-fitting blocks in my arsenal.

Until next time….

Sloper to Vest

I have been trying for some time to have a library of slopers to use for garments.  I have a side dart blouse sloper, 2 t-shirt slopers (1 with a dart and 1 without).  I also have a shoulder princess jacket sloper that I can adjust for a blouse.  My latest sloper was with an armhole princess style.  Given my D-cup bust, common thinking is that I should not use this sort of princess seam.  The shoulder princess is better for a more gradual curve over the bust.  But sometimes I don’t want to use the shoulder princess.

My reason for developing a library of blocks is I can use these blocks to make any style of garment I want – change collars, sleeve styles, lengths, etc.  In this post I will be talking about the armhole princess sloper.

Made To Measure Sewing Patterns - Princess Seams Dress with Short Sleeves

I purchased the pattern to use for this sloper from Bootstrapfashion.com.  They create custom patterns based on your measurements.  As part of their pattern collection, they have a number of basic blocks available. I have had pretty good luck with the patterns I have purchased from them.  I’ll do a separate post about those experiences.

Back to this sloper…I made a mock-up from muslin fabric and a friend helped me tweak the fit at a retreat in August, 2015. The main tweaks were to add the rounded back adjustment and adjusting the princess seams.  My plan was to make a simple, no closure jacket from this style, using a great silk suiting.  Butterick 6139 is the pattern I chose.

I was planning to use a faux leather for the sleeves.  Now that we are into spring, I decided to make a sample first to make sure I like the style before I use my more expensive fabric for the jacket. I used a lavender faux suede from stash.  My process was to use the adjusted sloper pattern for all body pieces, and copy the front styling from the Butterick pattern.  I cut and sewed the pieces together.

Result?  The armholes were very high and somewhat tight.  This is to be expected since I was using a dress pattern as a starting point.  I lowered the armholes a bit, using a vest pattern as a template, so decided to keep this as a vest.  The sleeves will also need to be adjusted for a jacket.  The verdict?  The fit is very good.  But the front looks odd hanging open.  It seems like it needs a button or closure.The front has wrinkles coming from the shoulders to the armhole. If I place a pin in the center as a closure, the wrinkles disappear.  It just doesn’t sit right hanging open. I am now trying to decide what sort of button or closure to use.

 

Pants 2

I know I have been away for a long time.  Life really got in the way!  Actually work got in the way…so ready to retire!

Follow-up to the previous post on the Eureka Pants.  In a nutshell, still not happy.  I attended the June class I mentioned in the previous post and had another fitting.  I had lost about 10 lbs since the 2014 fitting, so there was a bit of change.  I made a ‘wearable muslin’, or at least I hoped it would be wearable.  It was not.  I used a stretch woven with very little recovery.  Consequently my pants grew as I wore them.  I put them on fresh washed, drove 40 minutes to my ASG Fashion meeting and when I got out of the car they looked like they were two sizes too big – excess fabric everywhere.  So the cause here was bad fabric.  Solution:  thrown in the trash.

I then cut a new pair out of a stretch woven brushed twill.  It had much less stretch than the previous fabric and was a bit heavier.  I took this pair to a sewing retreat, hoping I would finish them and have a wearable pair of pants.  I did make changes.  The original pattern has a back zipper.  There is a supplement to the pattern called Sporty Details, which has instruction and pattern pieces for a fly front zipper, outside pockets, etc.  The idea is make them more like jeans so the pattern has instructions on modifications to your trouser version to give these more of a jeans fit.

I traced the pattern that was fitted in June 2015 and adjusted for the sporty details.  This pair had too much fabric in the front below the zipper.  The front thighs also seemed to pull when walking.  This pattern is still not right for me and what I think is comfortable.  I don’t really know what changes to make at this time to turn this pattern into what I like.   Solution – thrown in the trash.

I had made the StyleArc Barb pants and was happy with those.  I used a relatively lightweight ponte knit.  I compared the Barb pattern with the Eureka pattern and they are very different.  If I get the urge to play with pants again, I will go back to the Barb pattern and use a stretch woven.  I don’t mind the elastic waist and if I get a good pair of pants, there are a number of changes I could make that don’t affect fit (adding pockets, narrowing the legs and adding a vent, etc).

Next post will talk about what I moved on to after these pants.

Pants

Perfect fitting pants seem to be the holy grail of sewing. Pants are difficult to fit due to various body shapes. I have been trying to perfect pants for a long time. To this end, at one of the Expos in October, 2014 I was fitted for the Fit For Art pants pattern called Eureka! Pants That Fit. Then I did nothing with the pattern. That is the problem – I am an unfocused sewist. I move on to the next shiny thing before I finish the one before. I am trying to do that less.

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Fast forward to June, 2015. Our local ASG chapter hosted Rae Cumbie, the creator of the Eureka! Pants That Fit pattern for a pants fitting workshop. I debated long and hard about spending the time and money on this workshop since I had already shelled out for 1 fitting and did nothing with it. So, I decided to make a ‘mock-up’ of the pattern with the changes that were given to me at the 2014 fitting. If I could get this done in time, I would attend the class so I could receive more fitting advice from the instructor. Working full time interferes with my free time!

You see, this is at least the 3rd time I have been fitted for a pants pattern by someone and had not been happy with the results of the other fttings. I am unique – RTW pants fit me just fine. I just don’t like the high price, nor the small selection of colors and fabrics available in my size. Besides – being able to sew pants that look good is just a personal challenge and goal.

I got the mock-up done, registered for the class and dragged machine and other assorted materials and tools to the class. And, boy am I glad I did! It took 3 tweaks of my mock-up to have the pants fit as well as possible. I came home, made the adjustments to the pattern and proceeded to use “good” fabric to create a real pair of pants.

I chose a cotton/lycra spandex blend. I must have some stretch in my pants for comfort. The instructions say that you should trace the pattern and remove about 5/8″ from the seams when using a stretch fabric. Since fabrics can vary so much, I decided to cut the pants from the pattern I had just adjusted. You can always remove fabric, so if they were too big, that would be an easy fix. They were too big. Plus I wanted to narrow the legs and shorten them to ankle pants.

I basted the new pair together, took them in where needed, traced the pattern I had adjusted, and then cut off the extra from the pattern. This now gives me a separate pattern to use with a stretch fabric.

The pants are almost complete; they just need the waistband. They have a back zipper and I prefer a front zipper or elastic waist. Those are easy changes now that the pattern fits! Pictures to come when the are complete.