Monday, 31 March 2014

Fitted blouse finished

Well, in my earlier post I said that I was going to use the red polycotton for my blouse, using it as a wearable muslin if it came out well. My first muslin didn't work - I had lowered bust apex fullness too much and this interfered with waist position and shaping and all of the markings. I had great difficulty trying to re-draw the apex to shoulder princess line. It looked very bizarre. When I tried this muslin on for size, I discovered that I had made the bust apex too low. I scrapped the muslin and re-did the front with an apex level only a little lower than in pattern. I learned, too, the importance of a decent bra! I hadn't really previously realised just how much difference there was from one bra to another. I threw out the bra that made me so low!

I was able to take this second muslin to my sewing class and my tutor pinned the back darts deeper and longer, with the apex properly over my waist. I transferred this to my pattern to reproduce in the final fabric.

In the meantime, I decided I wanted to buy new fabric as I felt that it was too much for me to try to match the polka dots on my fabric as well as deal with fit issues and new sewing techniques. I decided on a raspberry pink cotton polyester - largely because of the glorious colour. Unfortunately, I have not been impressed by the quality of this fabric. Another lesson learned (again!) - it takes the same amount of work to sew up good fabric as it does poor - so concentrate on getting decent fabric. In the sewing shop, they said the fabric was suitable for the pattern - but in retrospect, it really wasn't. For a start, it was rather too thick, I think.

I went ahead and cut out my pattern, without any particular issues and started making up the blouse. Unfortunately, my sewing class was cancelled so I couldn't ask my tutor to check the fit or advise me how to put in the set-in sleeves and advise how to get the back darts to lie correctly. I was on my own!

My end result:

It isn't too bad but needs some tweaks - I'll take it to class on Thursday coming for advice. The biggest issue is the back darts which are pulling - I think my tutor had said I might need to cut into them but I was too afraid to do so and wasn't sure how it would help. Once I have that extra advice, too late of course for the Pattern Review Fitted Blouse competition which I have entered with the blouse as it stands, I will be well on the way to making another with a better fit. And better fabric!!

ETA - See PR Review and entry here - sorry, I thought side bar was supposed to show this up but it hasn't.

My mother was ill in hospital and we travelled to visit her (half a day's drive), stay there for a couple of days  and then bring her back to our house for recuperation. She came back with us on Thursday past. Yesterday was Mother's Day in the UK. My mother, who is feeling much better now, commented that with only a slightly thicker fabric, my blouse would make a great jacket. I do have some light/medium weight pale blue denim which I think would look great. My mother thinks my blouse is fabulous - bless her, she has visual problems so can't see the faults. While I was visiting her, I had to go on an errand to Glasgow, where I visited a great fabric store and  bought my next blouse fabric - one a linen look pure cotton pink fabric and the other a blue cotton chambray type material.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Decision made about fabric for blouse!

I had intended to make up my blouse in red polyester/cotton. I said that I could then wear it if it worked out okay - some people I think call this a wearable muslin, although muslins don't usually have all the details added. I'm not going to be able to wear mine!

Anyway, my first problem was that I found I had dropped the bust fullness too low! All the problems I had in truing the pattern were entirely self made! I had to raise the bust fullness by 2"!

My second problem was that the muslin was too tight around my high hip and the waist area was too low. I had enough fabric to re-do the front and side front but not the back, where I also added width to hip area. My muslin is still too tight there but hopefully I can change this in proper version.

My third problem was that the chest area was a little tight. I released the front seam from underarm to notch as recommended in the instructions for the pattern. This appears to have helped and I think I have chosen the right cup size (C rather than D). However, this affects arm hole size and therefore sleeve size. I haven't worked out what to do yet.

The next problem was that I needed the back dart position changed and darts increased. This is only pinned roughly at present

I had sewn up the pattern with a 1" seam allowance - but that wasn't enough even though I had increased hip size when I made up pattern initially. I re-did with a 5/8" seam allowance but I still need more. I thought all of these patterns from the big 4 had excessive ease? Not so this one! I didn't want 6" of ease at the waist, which is why I've taken it in there. But it's really very fitted at bust and around hip. Too much so.

I have decided to go ahead and make up, to give me a chance to practice collar etc as I have never done a blouse before.

I go to class tomorrow and I hope to get my tutor to check the fit, if I get it sewn up tonight.

My final fabric will be a fuchsia polycotton. It's just been washed, so I can't post. I decided against my lovely small polka dot fabric as I felt that also trying to match pattern was too much for me at this stage. It's in the wings, though, for the next time if I get my fitting issues resolved.

Back to sewing so no photos yet.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

PR's Fitted Blouse Contest and my March MAGAM Challenge garment

I know we are halfway through March and this is me just getting around to posting what I plan to do for my garment for March's Make a Garment a Month Challenge. I am doubling this up with's Fitted Blouse Contest (beginner level).

Requirements for MAGAM:
The garment must be for me - check

My Requirements
The garment must be for me - check
It must fit well - hopefully! I embarked on this sewing journey to get well fitting garments.
It must fill a gap in my wardrobe - check - my target garment are trousers, fitted blouses, fitted jackets and fitted dresses
It preferably uses a pattern and fabric that I already have -check

Requirements for Fitted Blouse Competition:
"a. The blouse must use shaping through the use of darts, or dart equivalents such as princess seams, gathers, tucks, or pleats, to follow the contours of the body through the bust and waist
b. Closure required (buttons and buttonholes, loop buttons, zippers, hook and eye, tie, frogs, etc.) Because the blouse is fitted, it can't be a pullover.
c. Collar required
d. Fabric - Woven or Stretch Woven only. Knits are not allowed. Can be a print or a solid - any color.
e. Set - In Sleeves required - Either short or long. Raglan/Dolman/Cut on sleeves not allowed.
f. Wrap-type blouses with tie closures ARE allowed.

The gallery entry must be a photograph of the fitted blouse on a person since the judging criteria includes 'best fit'. Photos of the fitted blouse on a dressform, hangar or lying flat will cause entry to be disqualified. Photos MAY crop the head out of photo, if desired for privacy issues"

I looked at quite a few patterns. Two New Look patterns - the first was 6078, which is a blouse with a Peter Pan collar and a couple of sleeve and front variations. Buttons up to the neck. The sleeve caps are slightly puffed and this put me off as I don't like this look on me. The second was 6407, which I really liked. It used bust and waist darts to contour. A couple of sleeve variations. I don't know what to call the neckline but essentially a V neck was created. There were a couple of collar variations. Eventually, however, I decided on the Simplicity 2151. There were a number of reasons for this - it's an Amazing Fit pattern, so hopefully no need to do a FBA; shaping is by use of princess seams, giving quite a bit of fitting flexibility and lastly, I thought the style would suit my lifestyle better and suit the material I already had.

Here, I've shown the pattern with 2 lots of fabric - red and also cream with a small black polka dot. The first of my original fabric choices, a pale blue light weight denim, was too heavy for a blouse (will make a great heavier weight blouse/jacket in due course). My second choice was a lovely fabric with a slight peachskin feel and a self pattern; I feared it might be more difficult to sew and my class tutor advised me that it would show up the fitted features well.

I have adjusted the pattern pieces. After deliberation, I chose the 'C' cup front. I had to drop the bust fullness by 2.75 inches and lengthen the pattern at the lengthen/shorten point by about the same. I had some difficulty dropping but point as it then sat in waist area! So, I lengthened the waist first. I decided against lengthening the pattern any further. As has happened previously when I've dropped the bust fullness on a princess seam, following Palmer Pletsch instructions (I did the same with my 'Little White Dress'), I found it very difficult to redraw and true the seam on the side panel from bust level to shoulder as my alteration quite simply looks very different - perhaps because I've had to make such a big adjustment. I haven't seen anywhere, however, suggesting that there is a maximum size for this adjustment.

I prepared both the red and the polka dot fabric. as time is now so short, I decided that I would make up in the red fabric, a cotton blend, as this was not an expensive fabric. If it turns out well, I have a wearable blouse, and if it doesn't, then it becomes the muslin for my final garment.

I've cut the pattern out of the red fabric, so hopefully I'll get to start sewing it together tonight. I should have enough time, provided there are no disasters on the way! I'm doing view C, by the way - it has a slightly more military look and I haven't decided yet whether to do the epaulettes.

Happy sewing!

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Things have been pretty hectic

Yes, I've been busy over the last few weeks so sewing has suffered. I hurt my knee and back so haven't been able to golf. And the house has suffered too. This blog, which is to help me follow my progress in sewing has been left to wilt.

Last weekend, I completed an 'Artist's Trading Card' - very much at the last minute. I am part of Deborah Moebe's Sewing Buddy community and have a sewing buddy, Sarah, in Ohio. This month our task was to make an ATC and upload it to Flickr. Well, I didn't know what an ATC was, and when I found it is a miniature piece of art 3.5 by 2.5 inches my heart sunk. I really couldn't think what to do. Eventually I decided that I just had to jump in with both feet and I spent the weekend making my card. On the front is a stylised sun behind hills with sky and on the back are a couple of tartan butterflies and Scottish Gaelic words meaning your very good health. 

The front is see through gauze type fabric in blue for the sky, appliqued in small pieces, cut to shape from a template I made, in 2 or 1 layers and in yellow for the sun, in 2 layers. They are appliqued onto natural muslin.  The sky sections are delineated with gold machine embroidery thread. The same thread is used, in 2 passes with a shorter stitch length, over yellow paper thread for highlights on hills. The green highlight on the hill is done in the same way, with green thread over green paper thread. the hills are quilting cotton. The design is based on a simple stain glass pattern that David and I made when we went to a class - that, though, had curved hills and I decided to make these straight. The outside edges were also green thread over paper thread. The back is simpler - green satin fabric with appliqued tartan butterflies and machine embroidered words, with the edge done in the same way as front.
However, then I decided to join back to front and did this by overlocking around edge in a darker green. I managed to get it finished and uploaded onto Flickr.
Our Sewing Buddy challenge for March is to make and swap a pouch with our buddies. Sarah and I will do this but we haven't decided yet what to do.

I did finish a dress today. This was part of my entry into Pattern Review's 'New to Me Pattern Company' competition.

I made the dress from Burda7580, which is a semi-fitted dress and loose-fitted jacket for knits. I reviewed the pattern on PR and did enter the competition even though I'm not that keen on the dress.

I had 'finished' the dress but wasn't happy about how it lay at arms and at neck, though this was less of an issue. Today, in class, I needed to take out the topstitching which I had around neck as neck was lying less than perfect. I then needed to take out understitching. After this I had to grade the seams - I had only done this at seam junctions. Also, I had snipped after the understitching. So, now, I graded properly, having had this demonstrated by Lyn. Most of my time in class was taken up with removing the stitching here and around arms, where I had used a twin needle. As I'm away for the weekend and competition closes Saturday, I decided to carry on when I got home. So tonight, I understitched neckline, much closer to seam than originally - and this, with the proper grading, made the neckline lie so much better. I then realised that the pattern requirements were for topstitching 3.5 cms, 1.5 inches, from neckline, so I did carry it out at this level rather than the standard topstitching distance - see  picture below.

This was done with a single needle. The hem is done with a twin needle:
The style isn't really me, but others in the class liked it and it is very comfortable. I asked Lyn to perhaps fit a couple of darts at the back to make it neater there but everyone thought the dress was fine. The material was lovely, doesn't wrinkle much or fray at all, but the darts on the front are pretty obvious so perhaps this was for the best.
Back view:

For me, the biggest issue is that I don't like the cut on sleeves.

As I already have the material, a lovely houndstooth, for the jacket, I will probably go ahead and make that. It is likely to need rather more in the way of alterations than this dress which was fairly straightforward to lengthen and graduate out from waist to wider hip.

In a previous post, I had asked whether I should make this pattern or a couple of others - everyone came down in favour of this one. I had considered making a New Look pattern - I've just discovered that the little girl's dress we made for the Great Byker Sewing Bee was a New Look pattern, though, so I wouldn't have been able to enter the PR New to Me competition using a New Look pattern.

I've started my next project. I've washed the fabric and modified the pattern for a Simplicity blouse which I will enter in the beginner's section of the PR Fitted Blouse context - I only have a couple of weeks now. I do like the challenge of the competitions as they help structure what I am doing and provide a time scale.

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