Monday, 5 May 2014

Finished winter street dress and refocusing my goals

This last week I finished Pattern Review's Winter Street Dress. This was my first completed garment from a downloadable pattern and my first knit dress. I took the opportunity of watching Deepika's video on attaching the neckband and of her tips on using clear elastic, which I had never used. I had to buy this mail order as none of my local suppliers had it. One had tape which was much narrower and I thought it would be more difficult to use, though it would have been fine at a push. I think my neckband turned out really well. I finished it with stitch in the ditch and you cant see my stitches at all.

I have done a review on Pattern Review of my dress - and have received a comment from Deepika. In my review I mentioned that the front seam joining the bodice and skirt was wavy and she suggests this was due to fabric being stretched and next time to stretch out elastic and make it a tiny touch smaller than seam. I also said I was scared to press and she said there was no problem with a pressing cloth and thought it would lie straight. This is very helpful - as were her tips, which I used. She didn't comment on my implied criticism of the pattern - namely that the pattern was drafted for a high waist when it is stated to be on the natural waistline.  Despite my alterations, the waistline at the front is still too high for me - admittedly I am rather long-waisted. In this picture, you can see the waviness in the waistline I was referring too - the back seam is better, though I'm disappointed to see how badly the pleat is lying. I need to press properly and wear a better foundation garment to take account of the weight I have put on these last few weeks - I tend to eat when I'm stressed.

Some of the problems with the dress are due to my alterations, I'm sure. I didn't have help for these and have probably not done them correctly. I've talked about the alterations I did in the review. When I came to sew up the sides skirt - underarm - sleeve, I found that the sleeve was about 5/8" on each side narrower than my bodice. I'm sure my manipulations to get around this have caused some distortion. In fact, as the sleeve is too tight at that point, I would have preferred to add to the sleeve than take away from the bodice. I think this may be why there are wrinkles there - or maybe I should have done an FBA. I'm not sure.

I've made a number of changes to the pattern and I'm going to try it again. I'm also planning to make it for my middle daughter but need to get some sizes before I attempt that. She is tall, about 5'9", I think, so smaller than me, and her torso may not be as long - I don't think it is. Younger people are quite happy, it seems, with raised waistlines - and shorter skirts. I realise I'm (getting) old!

I had hoped this dress would work for me - and maybe it would if the waistline was dropped further and if my changes to the pattern sort out the too tight armscye. Not uncomfortably tight, just more so than it should be. I feel that I really need to think about what I want to sew.

I'm having a special birthday soon and have requested a sewing course/break. I've found it very difficult to locate such a thing. If I'm travelling, any class/course needs to be on consecutive days as I don't want to be travelling back and forward each week - transport and fuel are too expensive to consider that. I'd really like to get hands-on help to create a set of slopers, but the only thing I've found is over 6 weeks at the other end of the country. I've done some emailing. I have seen one which might work, over 5 days, but it's not structured and that's what I'd really like.

I do have Craftsy classes dealing with fit and also Glenda sparling's Sure Fit Design system. Glenda is really helpful and I did start but then started to lose some weight so each time I fitted, I was a different size! Unfortunately, I've put some of that weight back on but resolve to lose it again before my birthday! I think I'm going to spend a good bit of time on these courses in the coming months.

I started this fit process as I can't get trousers/pants to fit well. I wear trousers a lot. I'm a golfer, and it's now into the new season. I'd like to have cropped trousers to wear, which fit well - golf trousers usually have a fly zip, pockets at each side and one on back and a fixed waistband. I can't really alter the ones I have as they are too short in the back crotch length, even though they are all too big for me now. I have my first important golf match on 21 May, when I wear team uniform - I can make do with what I already have but I would really love to be able to make a pair of black crops for this match. Crops or trousers, doesn't t really matter but crops are more comfortable when it's warmer. 21 May is just too soon, though. I will start on the first stage, though.

For my May Make a Garment a Month Challenge, I am going to make the jacket to go with the grey dress I previously made. I bought some lovely hound's-tooth (houndstooth?) medium weight stable knit fabric, similar to that on the pattern envelope and they should look good together.

I have already made the alterations to the pattern tissue and have made a full back piece to help me with pattern alignment. I've never used a pattern which needed matched before and I'm a bit apprehensive. A double back should help the process, as it's difficult to see the check on the reverse of the fabric. Lyn at class advised me to cut out say back first as this will help with alignment for next pieces. I'm going to wait until I get there before trying this - I need help on hand! It occurs to me that it might be best to cut out another sleeve and another front, too. The pattern doesn't llok complicated - it's all going to be in the check matching and good finishing.

The other major item which I want to sew is a jacket, but my skills need to develop further before I can consider that.

As I mentioned, the golf season has already started. I'm an official to our local County Veteran Ladies' Golf Association and I'm on duty over the next 3 days at a big competition - at least, all of tomorrow and part of both Wednesday and Thursday. I'm supposed to be playing golf on Wednesday but a filling fell out and I have to go to the dentist instead. Over the next few weeks, there are a number of events I have to attend in my official capacity - I'm away from home for 3 days in under 2 weeks and there are other one day events. So I'm not sure how much time I'll get to sew - or to blog about my sewing. Even more reason to realise I won't get those golf crops done by May 21st! It's nice to be out in the fresh air, though, especially with everything so pretty now. My rhododendrons and azelias are nearly over, daffodils are long gone, tulips nearing end and my back lawn is now a sea of pink petals. But there is still loads of colour and it's warm enough to be outside without a winter coat!! And although I still have quite a bit of pain and nerve tingling, I have actually played my first 18 holes of the season without mishap.

I need to sort out a few things for tomorrow. I'm having a very early start so need to get to bed at a reasonable time. It's 9.15pm now, so I'd like to be finished and relaxing in an hour.


  1. Beautiful colour! Perhaps a small belt could disguise the issues at the waistline?

    1. I'll certainly try this. Great if it works. I feared that being above natural waistline it might not look great - but nothing to lose! Thank you.

  2. Knits are quite cantankerous fabrics - they are all different in stretch and all act quite differently. They also don't work like wovens, so the simpler the garment, the better. My first attempts with knits produced lots of wavy hems, and I still don't know how to fix some of these things. I think Marianne has a good idea - sometimes we have to disguise things. A belt may also make the pleat behave better. A press will help - a press cloth is handy, especially the chemically treated Rajah cloth - that can help. Also, to avoid press lines, I sometimes turn the garment inside out - and only press the seam, not the area where the seam meets the garment, or a line can show. (I've learnt all this the hard way!!).

    It's a nuisance having a variable weight - it's not very smart, but I find elastic helps. I'm a bit on the thin side, but any variations on my weight, and I need the elastic - for me, it allows needed extra weight, when I put it on. Lots of people stress eat - I guess it's a very basic comfort - and with winter, and no exercise, not a good combination. Now you are able to get out and about more, and will be exercising more, that should also help mood and stress, as you would know.

    Sewing courses - lots of people use the Craftsy videos. I just read, and make lots of mistakes, and read more, sew more, learn more. It's a lifetime journey. They do have some fitting courses as well.

    1. I don't know what a Rajah cloth is, but I'll certainly have a go at pressing this properly. I don't mind disguising - as I said to Marianne, I thought maybe to high above natural waist to look good but nothing to lose.
      I read a lot of (sewing etc) books! I love books of all kinds. I can cope with variations in advice (set-in sleeve insertion being a recent issue) but prefer when I am told WHY I should do something. Otherwise, I do what I think best. I find the Internet a bit overwhelming and advice of variable quality but it can be so useful. I do have a couple of the Craftsy classes - my issue has been that they almost skip a step in that they get an item to fit rather than having a sloper first. I say almost because they talk about what is created as the sloper. I need to go back to basics at least after I have finished the top for May MAGAM which I do need to allow me to wear the dress! I don't mind making mistakes as they help with the next time and improve my skills - I just wish I didn't make so many!! Thank you very much for your input.

  3. We all make mistakes Anne - and I agree, I like to know why as well. I have read in one of my books that fitting is both an art and a science. The early patternmakers were highly skilled - one was an engineer and also a very trained dressmaker. Fit is not easy- each alteration starts a chain reaction. People have tried to write simple guides to fitting, but really, there is no such thing. And then there is sewing will have a journey to keep you busy for life :).

    Accordion left a comment for you on yesterday's post about inserting elastic into the back of a trouser waistband. I have cut and pasted it and put it in my blog post dated Sunday 18th May. It is close to the end of the post.

    1. P.S. A Rajah cloth is a press cloth inpregnated with something ( I know not what) that gives a great finish when pressing. Works on some fabrics, not others. Trial and error again :)

  4. Thank you, Sarah Liz. That was very kind of Accordion - I'll visit that now. I'll have a look for a Rajah cloth, too.


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