Each season there is a nice wardrobe-building sew along on Artisan’s Square. It’s the brainchild of ejvc, whose blog is here, and includes lots of posts on the topic. Each season you sew six items, mostly neutrals, and if you actually complete your six-paks, you end up with a very functional closet full of things that work together. At the beginning of this thread on Artisan’s Square, you can read her prescription for this fall. Fall 6-pak.
I have often joined up, but usually punk out after about 3 or 4 items. I think I’ve finished the whole 6-pak maybe twice. Still, even 3 or 4 planned items that go together are handy to have.
Once again, I’m inspired to give it a try. I even have a plan.
Colors are charcoal, indigo, a lighter indigo, and dusty plum. The Burda trousers are already made. The Pure & Simple jacket is a TNT, and there are no worries about fitting the other jacket – this is view B and I have already made view A which fits just fine. The Lola pants and Helix Tee have been sitting out cluttering up my work space for a long time, waiting to be fitted and made. The second top has not pattern selected for it – I’m waiting until the fall issue of Ottobre Woman comes out to see if they have something new that fits with this collection.
This plan is not very ambitious, which gives me hope that it can be completed.
Another attraction of this particular plan is that I already have all the fabrics except for the charcoal jacket, and that should not be difficult to find. This is the fabric stack.
top to bottom:
dusty plum knit of unknown content….a flat fold purchased off a bargain table
blue “Parisian knit” from Marcy Tilton
indigo cotton/spandex with a narrow rib woven in. I bought this stuff for pants and later realized that the ribs would make a noise when I walk, like corduroy. Much better as a jacket.
charcoal drapey poly blend for the Lolas. Polyester is not good for summers here, but OK for fall.
Not pictured is the indigo denim that has already been made up as Burda pants, and the charcoal jacket fabric that I will shop for. Something with some texture would be nice.
I’d like to say a few words about the Burda pants pattern. It’s from the Fall 2008 Plus magazine, number 404, but I believe it also appeared in the regular BurdaStyle mag. It may even be offered as a PDF. For my pear-shaped figure, these pants have been a super substitute for jeans. They have a narrow leg, for a close fit, but the line from hip to ankle is straight. When I look at the line drawings in Burda and they show a cut that hugs the thighs down to the knee, and then goes straight or flares from there, I know those are unflattering to me. This cut seems to be unusual for a close-fitting pant.
Other features that make this pant a winner: there are a total of four darts in the back, excellent for fitting and eliminating a gap at the back waist. And note that the waistband in back is in two pieces. This also helps with fitting because the waistband is attached before stitching the center back seam. You can sew the crotch most of the way, leaving an opening at CB, then try the pants on and pin fit the center back so that it snugs up to your waist. Then sew the CB of the pants and the waistband all in one swoop. Alter the waistband facing to match the waistband and stitch it last.
This method of construction also makes future alteration easy. You can easily open up the waistband to take in that center back seam if you lose weight. If you leave fat seam allowances, you also could let the pants out in the back if needed.
I still had to do some fitting with this pattern, but it was a much better starting point than most patterns. You may not be able to find this exact pattern, but if you have full hips and rear and a relatively small waist, look for the same features when considering pants patterns. I think they will make fitting easier for you.
Here is the line drawing again, along with the schematic of the pattern pieces, to illustrate what I wrote about.
There are a couple of tops to share with you. Both are old patterns, but not so terribly dated.
First up, Sewing Workshop’s Tribeca.
This is one of the first Sewing Workshop patterns I ever bought, so it must be at least 8 years old or so. I made it once before, but in a very sober color and a smaller (boo hoo) size.
This was a fabric-generated project. I think it came up in a search for chambray on Fabric.com, and it was described as having two different sides. When it arrived, I was happy to see it was actual double cloth – two layers of gauze-like cotton attached to each other with tiny “stitches”. You can barely see the blue attaching threads on the white side of the fabric. It aged for a few months while I thought about patterns that would take advantage of the double-sidedness, and eventually the old Tribeca was my choice.
Tribeca has no facings – the outside edges are turned and stitched with tiny little miters at all the corners. It also has a ton of darts. Shoulder darts, two bust darts (including a curved frenchy dart), back darts, and elbow darts shape and control the fullness in this shirt. The buttonholes are reinforced with little backing squares to make up for the lack of facing support. Directions call for french seams everywhere. The double cloth was a little heavy for real french seams, so I made flat fells – grading the layers inside the seam.
Sleeves were a little long, but they look nice rolled up so that’s not a problem.
I doubt I will make it again, as there is something about the shoulder that just isn’t right in either version, despite my comparisons to TNTs and tweaking. It’s not enough to keep me from wearing this, but I don’t think it is worth my time to try to fit and sew again. This will work nicely as either a shirt or lightweight jacket.
Claire Kennedy in her blog recently drew attention to a BurdaStyle pattern that is now available as a download. I recognized it as one I had noted as a possibility for me back when it appeared in the magazine – in the July 2010 issue.
It’s style #122 – here’s the line drawing.
And here it is, made up in handkerchief linen. You can see that I had to make use of some “design opportunities”. This was originally supposed to be long sleeved like the pattern. However, the upper bodice and attached sleeve is such a large piece, that you have to do single layer cutting. So I cut one side, unpinned the fabric, then flipped the pattern piece and cut out the opposite side. Set the pattern piece aside with the second fabric piece still attached. Can you guess where this story is going?
After most of the main pieces were cut out, I grabbed the biggest scrap I could find for the collar stand. Yes, the “scrap” was one of the bodice/sleeve pieces that wasn’t attached to the pattern tracing. This is not the first time I’ve done this….some corrective action needs to be worked into my cutting procedures.
So now you know why the sleeves are short and the left front is pieced. I don’t mind it this way, but would still like a long-sleeved version!
I recently adjusted the measurements on my sewing dummy but it truly is only good as a clothes-hanger now. That bust seam really does go across the fullest part of the bust (there’s a dart built into it). You can see where the bust apex is on the dummy. Not an adjustable measurement.
Other notes on the pattern – the sizes ended at 44, but this was easy to scale up to a 46. The collar stand is loose in front when it is buttoned up, and when it is not buttoned it falls away from the neck in a relaxed way. Also, that stand is very narrow and consequently a pain to sew. I’ll probably make it a little wider when I make my long-sleeved shirt just to make the sewing experience less stressful.
Next up is a pair of pants in a black and white cross-woven cotton to go with the white shirt. When I hung this in the closet, I realized that I have a couple of white tee shirts, but did not have a white woven shirt. This will probably get a lot of wear, as white shirts are a good thing to have.
I realize I’ve been slow with the blog postings lately, and feel guilty because in the meantime I’ve been enjoying everyone else’s blogs. Partly it’s because I have had computer problems, and partly because I don’t need to sew as much now that office wear is not required. The computer has been replaced, and I am slowly learning to use the new platform since the replacement is a mac. The differences between it an my old windows machine are just enough to be a little aggravating, but a little time (and a few time outs!) will get me over that.
Happy sewing, everyone!
These photos are here so they can be shared with a sewing buddy who has jewelry-designing chops. They are beads that have been sitting around a long time and may finally be turned into something.
lapis kind of cube-like beads – two 16 inch strings
and a single 16 inch string of graduated garnet beads. The paper background has a quarter inch grid, for scale.
One sewing related note – I did purchase some of the Kaufman Essex cotton/linen blend today and it is destined to become a pair of loose and cool summer pants. Seems like the perfect weight for such a project.
The thing about working on fit is that you can’t just slap the results up on your off-the-rack sewing dummy and take photos with any meaning. You have to stage a shoot and you have no unpaid interns to do all the prep work or even snap the shutter for you.
Since the last post, I made many more muslins to complete my Sure-Fit dress blueprint. I omitted the skirt portion to speed things along and strictly worked on the bodice. Selecting the right dart size took care of my issues in the front. The back, which looked like this…..
…took more work. Glenda gave me some very helpful advice, which included adding a shoulder dart. I was amazed at how much of a difference that made. It cleared up issues that I thought were length-related. I am not as swaybacked as I thought.
I also worked on my sleevecap and armscye and eventually got them wrinkle-free, but they were also over-fitted and not right to wear. Even though I would very much like to understand the mysteries of sleeves, I was tired of making muslins, so I borrowed a sleeve and armscye from Ottobre and called it finished.
I then used my blueprint to fit and adapt a basic blouse from the first Ottobre Woman issue. I had made it before and knew that it fit better than average. Now I knew that it could fit even better. I checked the shoulder slope and pitch, waist length, dart placement, and pattern widths against my blueprint and adjusted them where needed – most of the work needed to be done to the shoulder. Here’s the blouse made from the adjusted pattern.
There’s still some room for improvement, but this is better than I was doing before. I also happen to know that one of the creases is due to a cutting error. I can do a little pin fitting on this blouse, refine the block a bit more, and give it another go. This is where the intern would have been useful, giving a little artful pull here and there so that all would hang right.
I also used the blueprint to modify the shoulders on the Cutting Line Designs Anything But Ordinary top. I had made this top before and was not happy. Here it is, much better – a simple, breezy, casual top.
Lastly, I used the blueprint to adjust the shoulders and compare widths to make a block for a basic sleeveless knit top based on an Ottobre pattern. I also used it to modify the Style Arc Abby cardigan, so I have a little twinset.
By the way, the pants that you can’t see very well in these photos are Style Arc’s Jasmine pants. I was not too happy with these when I finished them, but after they hung around for a month or so I finally decided to wear them. Evidently the time out improved my attitude, because now I like them well enough to go back and fine-tune the pattern to use again.
Reviews of the Jasmine pants often mention that the pants poke out where the V of the back yoke meets the center back seam. This is why:
Speaking of Style Arc, I have some thoughts on home garment sewing in general that have gelled because of working with some of their patterns lately. Style Arc seems to me to kind of replicate the RTW sewing experience in their styles, terminology, and assembly methods. I can’t cite anything as a real fact, but I believe I’ve read that Chloe Parker, the woman behind Style Arc, has a background in RTW and is bringing her expertise to pattern design for home sewers.
What follows here is not knocking Style Arc at all. I like and buy patterns from them. One of their features is small seam allowances – like a quarter or 3/8 of an inch, as opposed to the 5/8 inch that has long been a standard for home sewing patterns. Many home sewers are very enthusiastic about the narrow seam allowances and wonder why the other pattern companies are so old fashioned as to retain wider ones.
To me the wider seam allowances make more sense. I do not sew in a production environment, where consistency is a primary goal – that is, where the garment is being made by the thousands, and it’s important to have every size 12 be exactly the same as every other size 12. Narrow seam allowances help with that kind of accuracy. And they save fabric, too.
But I’m not trying to make identical multiples of a garment. I won’t use “couture” to describe what I’m doing, but it is “custom” work, like custom dressmakers used to do. I may make the same pattern a few times, but it’s going to be in different fabric each time, which means that I might need to let out the seams a bit. Can’t do that when the seam allowances are 1/4 inch.
Also, I’m not making a garment to a set of pre-determined size 12 specifications. I fit as I sew, and need to have enough fabric to work with. It also means that my construction steps might be different, since there are some options I want to keep open until the very end. That’s not always the most efficient (as in fast) way to sew.
Funny that 3/8 of an inch can cause you to think about what you are doing, why, and who your tribe is.
My resolution to the seam allowance question comes from becoming used to Burda and Ottobre magazine patterns. Leave ‘em off. Trace the patterns without seam allowances, then add whatever you need when cutting. Makes for easier pattern alteration, style changes, and fitting. For me, that more than compensates for the few minutes it takes to chalk them on.
WARNING: No finished garments to be seen here…only ugly fitting photos, which I’m posting so I can share them on the forums with Sure-Fit experts.
This year I want to work on developing the fitting blocks mentioned a few posts back. And co-incidentally I started reading threads on the Sure-Fit system on both Stitcher’s Guild and Patternreview. The goal of Sure-Fit meshed perfectly with my desire for personalized blocks, so I purchased their Dress Kit. Even though I don’t wear dresses, this is the kit to use for fitting tops and tees. They also have a shirt and pants kits that are of interest.
With Sure-Fit you actually draft your own pattern using the template they provide. In the past I’ve tried drafting from scratch, but got myself so confused that it was not productive. The template was really good for reducing that confusion and I’m pretty pleased with this muslin which is my starting point. Based on the feedback I hope to get from the forums and from Glenda, Ms. Sure-Fit herself, I’ll be fine-tuning the block and learning how to use it to modify patterns.
Here follow the ugly photos. If you are of a sensitive nature, avert your eyes and click away now. If you have a strong stomach, bear in mind that the blocks have very little ease. I used an old sheet to make these up. Possibly a slightly stouter material might have been better. Even though the bodice feels pretty good, there are a lot of wrinkles that might be due to limp and flimsy fabric.
The front looks like I might need to redraft a larger dart. Based on the instructions, I drafted for a C even though I buy a D in foundation garments. The bodice feels like it fits, but the wrinkles appear to tell a different story. I believe the pulls below the waist indicate the need for more room in the rear. You can see how the side seam pulls to the back in the next photo. I would open up a wedge in center back to fix, but this is something I want to get Glenda’s feedback on, and see how she would alter.
Now forget you ever saw this.
I was asked how I altered the shoulder on the Of The Moment jacket so I’ve put together some diagrams to show my process. I think the pictures are clearer than photos, even if they aren’t exactly to scale. Got to add a disclaimer: I am no expert, and YMMV!
The problem – I have sloping shoulders and patterns that have the kimono-type T shape don’t do me any favors. They end up with excess draping under my arms. It’s the nature of these styles to have some of that draping, but too much is overwhelming. One solution would be to wear shoulder pads. I’ll do that for dressier versions, but don’t like to wear shoulder pads for everyday.
So…here goes. The blue is an approximation of one of the OTM front pieces, with the center front and the underarm dot marked. I didn’t draw the sleeve piece, but it joins the fronts and backs with very very little, if any, shaping to the sleeve cap and armscye. It’s basically a kimono T-shape that just happens to have the sleeve as a separate piece.
Pinkie represents the Paco Peralta asian jacket that I have made before and like the way the shoulder fits on me.
First I copied the portion of the OTM pattern that includes the end of the shoulder seam and the underarm dot. This is to be able to position the underarm dot correctly later on – so that the sleeve will still fit.
Now I laid the OTM pattern piece over the PP pattern I’m copying from. Align the center fronts and shift up or down until the points at which the neckline and shoulder seam intersect are on the same latitude.
Trace the shoulder line.
Lastly, get the little tracing and lay it on the altered pattern piece to determine the new location of the underarm dot.
The differences between the patterns are exaggerated for illustration purposes. They weren’t that extreme in reality.
Repeat with the back and the other front piece and you are ready to go. I hope this is of help!
Ready for cooler weather with 3 jackets!
First up, yet another By Popular Demand jeanish-type jacket. This one was lengthened a lot, and a little shaping was added to the sides. I’m coming to realize that my back-to-waist length must be at least 2 inches longer than this pattern line is designed for.
This is a TNT pattern, so no other refinements were needed. I did change the construction a bit in order to include an underlining that also hides the seam allowances, a variation on the stitch & flip technique.
Fabric – cotton pique. I really thought it would be nice and stable to work with. Surprise! Wrong! This stuff grew on every edge. I’ve never used pique before, so I’m not sure if that is characteristic of the weave or if I just ended up with a very “special” piece.
Underlining – printed silk charmeuse that I bought long ago for another project that never made it to the cutting table. It works great for this little jacket, though. I’m glad to finally have it out of the stash. Stash is like compost – it fertilizes your mojo, but it’s better if you turn it over once in awhile.
I used gunmetal grey snaps from Snap Source for this jacket. These were the last of a large-ish order I placed many years back. Time to get some more as they are nice to have on hand.
This one is another Cutting Line design called Of the Moment. I had muslined this jacket before and thought it looked sloppy on me, so I put it away. I really wanted to make the style work, though, so made it the first experiment in developing blocks with different shoulder fits. The original OTM design has a sleeve seam, but without any shaping. It’s essentially a straight kimono/dolman shoulder and sleeve.
I overlaid the Paco Peralta asian jacket that fits me well and altered the OTM shoulder & sleeve to match it. I’m MUCH happier with the fit of my altered version – this one now can move into the win column! Again, the pattern was lengthened at least 2 inches. For this version, I used two left fronts (as designed, the pattern has more drape to the right front, less on the left). Topstitching was done with the machine’s triple stitch using rusty orange thread, like on jeans. It only shows when you view the jacket close up, but does add a nice little detail.
The material came from Fabricker and had the nice quality of being the weight of a denim, but soft and drapey – right in the Goldilocks zone for this style. This pattern would really show off double-sided fabric, and I hope to find some to make it again.
An unusual thing about the OTM pattern is that the neck facing is the most important piece! How often does that happen? If it becomes distorted or is not sewn accurately, the mitered effect of the turnback lapel is ruined. The rest of the jacket is straight and very easy sewing.
Then there is this one, the snakebit project. Finally finished after more than a year. It started life as V8804, but ended up V7975. From pattern errors to notions sourcing difficulties to design indecision to seamstress mistakes to inevitable compromise, this one dragged me through it all. Here it is – quilted lining, chain at hem, not perfect but complete at long last.
I cursed this thing so much that the negativity permeates the fabric like cigarette smoke. How do you exorcise evil spirits from a garment so that it is safe to wear? Seriously, what do you do when you are sick of something by the time you finish it?