Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Pattern cutting course - update

Idea from Winifred Aldrich
I haven't posted about my pattern cutting course for ages. Partly because I have a scrapbook of the shapes I've cut and don't really see the point of photographing them for my log - although, on the positive side the photos won't fall apart in the way the glued in pieces do. So I may have to consider it. The other part is that I'm not really enjoying this class - I've only just admitted this to myself. I didn't go last week as I had just returned from a long weekend involving poor beds and lots of travelling. I felt tired and didn't have anything in particular prepared. Tonight I'm sitting in the college café waiting for the class time - I got here very quickly tonight and wonder if it's because it's getting lighter in the evening - clocks change soon here. I really thought about not coming,  though. I've got a cold and nothing prepared. Sound familiar? Anyway,  I did come and am taking some time to write up a blog post.

I still really don't have anything prepared as I've been busy making DH's jeans in my sewing world and so many things in my non sewing world. However,  R will be interested in seeing my finished jeans as I spent one of my skirt pattern making classes working on my jeans pattern. I'll take it on Wednesday to let D see of course.       

Maybe it's that it's skirts. I rarely wear them these days - and have so many at home. There are probably a couple of styles I'd be interested in, though. Last term in dressmaking I made a skirt which I thought I'd like but I just don't. It doesn't even fit well, despite numerous alterations and adjustments.

Well, I drafted the above a couple of weeks ago. I'm still not very well which is perhaps affecting my thinking - and certainly my doing!

That night in class, I decided to draft and make a gored skirt with shaped yoke and low flare - not godets. Design from Winifred Aldrich. I have a black evening skirt in crepe like this. I loved the skirt and felt fabulous in it,  but it is too small for me. I'm not sure where it is so can't photograph it. I thought it would be nice to recreate the skirt in an evening material,  perhaps in a colour better for me than black.  That skirt didn't have a shaped yoke,  though.  Sarah,  my classmate, suggested the shaped yoke sewing might be difficult and I agreed with her but decided to go ahead. One of the wedding dresses my daughter looked at had a piece of sewing that would use this skill,  so I thought I'd try it. I had suggested to my daughter that the particular section was probably too difficult for me - even on the expensive dress she tried on,  there was puckering. I now know that I'd require a lot of practice and I will not make a dress version including thus! 

I don't have photographs of my process. 

I discovered (slightly too late!) that my blocks, on card, didn't accurately match. Because of my asymmetry, I had to block the two sides of my body separately. Block = sloper. So I ended up with a back left, back right, front left and front right. When I first mentioned that the side seams didn't match, which of course they have to do to sew up accurately, R obviously didn't realise what I meant and told me it was because of my shape. I should have listened to my inner voice!

Because my skirt block consists of 4 pieces, this means that in making up a skirt I have to cut on single fabric - no folded fabric for me! Each part its further divided into 2 gores so 8 in all.

My first task was to trace around my basic skirt block (no seam allowances). I ended up with a full front and a full back piece. I should have adjusted the length before this point but I'll come to that.

I then drew in a shaped yoke. It was rather difficult to ensure the two sides were the same - I don't think I managed it. When drawing on a half block, for a pattern to be cut out, the two sides are automatically the same.

I then dropped vertical lines from the shaped points. There was one line on each half of the front and each half of the back. This would make the 8 gores. I had to mark balance points (ie matching points) halfway down each vertical line; I measured from the bottom.

I extended the waist darts to the waistline. I then cut the yoke from the paper, closed the darts and traced out the resultant yoke outline on a new piece of paper.

For the gores, I cut out the skirt pattern and separated out the 8 gores. I carefully numbered them but I did get into trouble later! There is a standard way of laying things out - back on left and front on right and I think I didn't do that. I then extended the hemline on each side of each gore by 7cm, creating the flare, and joined the outer point with the balance points. I was doing this by sticking on extra paper - it would have been far easier to trace around each gore onto a piece of paper with sufficient space simply to draw the extensions. I had to draw round the taped papers anyway as they were difficult to handle. I'll know next time.
My first problems arose here because of the discrepancy between back and front lengths. I just hadn't taken that into account. R said I needed to match the top at the waistline and alter the length. But I had spent a long time creating 8 gores! Fortunately, I had measured my gore balance points from the bottom so these all matched; I was able to subtract the small difference from the middle of the straight length.

I didn't get all this done in class and had to continue at home. At home, I altered the length of the 4 front gores then drew around them onto paper. I now had 10 new pieces of paper - 8 gores and back and front yokes. I then added seam allowances to all the pieces. This led to a second problem. I added ½" seam allowances rather than 1cm (about ⅜") because I was rushing to get a toile made for the class and it was easier.

Now it sounds pretty easy to pin piece 1 to piece 2 to piece 3 etc, doesn't it? Well I don't know how many times I got mixed up! Not helped by calico being the same on each side. I was convinced I was doing it correctly but lengths didn't match ... Eventually, I got it sorted. I now had a front piece consisting of 4 sewn together gores and a back piece, likewise.

I then sewed the yokes to the tops of the pieces. This is where a smaller seam allowance would have been helpful. I found it incredibly difficult to do this. I wasn't happy with the resultant seams. My points weren't pointy. I resolved to get help from R. R did say it would be much easier in wool,  for example.

I sewed back and front together, leaving an opening at the side. I was aware that the seam side tops didn't  match. How come I didn't notice that previously?  I'm not sure much was made of truing seams etc. I see how important that is.

R was impressed I'd got as far as I had. I asked her about sewing the yoke to the skirt and she said she'd demonstrate after I made the necessary fitting changes

I don't have a picture of the skirt at this stage. I knew it was too big at the waist but was actually pretty pleased with it.

The fitting changes were:
Raising the front yoke at one side by 1.5 cm to match the back
Taking some fabric out of top of front yoke, increasing the curve - length at top reduced
Taking off 1 cm at side seams of skirt and yoke.
Adding 3 cm to depth of front yoke.
I had already added seam allowances but I had to add them again as basically the whole thing was too low ie add another 1 cms to front and back yokes, all round.
R didn't alter back yoke other than at side seams as she felt my poor sewing had distorted the shape and she couldn't judge. It's likely some fabric will need to be taken out of top as per front.
I had been thinking waistband, and that this would extend up from yoke,  but we decided a facing would give a cleaner line - hence the need for additional length.

I spent the rest of the class making the changes highlighted. I then detached the back yoke from the skirt. We pressed out the previous seam lines and R demonstrated how to sew the yoke onto the skirt.  This is rather like princess seams as opposing shapes are sewn together.  Then pivoting with needle down at the peaks and troughs of the design. She advised sewing with the yoke on top,  and when pivoting,  cut into the yoke fabric to allow it to move more freely. I had used loads of pins but R advised against using any pins. Now whether it was because of my slightly large seam allowance,  I don't know but this didn't work out well. The yoke was too small! It didn't reach the sides are either side.  I couldn't see how that could be.  It was the end of class but R asked if I'd like to take it to class on Wednesday (I attend a continuation dressmaking class run by D but R has a beginner sewing class at the same time) if I could get the changes made. I agreed I'd try. 

I retrospect,  I wonder if the calico had been reversed. I later marked numbers on the actual calico but didn't specifically mark yokes, left/right,  wrong side/right side. And see end of post! 

I had made a bit of a bosh redrawing my front yoke.  I realised that the tucks taken at the top of the waistband couldn't go all the way down or my points wouldn't match. Of course I had already drawn up,  done seam allowances (1 cm) and cut out a new yoke before I figured that out!!

Tonight I redid both back and front yokes,  making changes to the original paper pattern. This took rather a long time. I did it carefully this time. I then attached the yokes to the skirt,  using R's method with some success, I thought,  not wonderful but a distinct improvement.

I decided against putting in a zipper extension at this stage until fitting was checked but tacked a zip in so I could try on easily

It just isn't working!!

The back is awful - I'm not letting you see that! At least not on me! My new model isn't yet adjusted to my size so the skirt is a bit big for her (not sure what I'll call her yet! Suggestions? ) 

The yoke seams are lumpy and unattractive despite pressing. I'll take it tomorrow but think I'd really rather be working on my trousers.  Tomorrow is the second last trouser class and there's only one pattern making class left, at which we're doing the sleeves we didn't do earlier in the term, so I need to take my bodice block. So effectively tomorrow is the last chance for the skirt (but patternmaking next term is trousers...)
To be honest,  I'm less concerned at this stage about actually producing a skirt than I am in finding out how to use my blocks. I'm not a designer and have no desire to become one - I'm quite happy trying to follow a design produced by someone else. That of course is what a paper pattern is. I'd like to be able to use the proper sizing of the block to produce a pattern with some of the design features of commercial patterns. I'm happy with a bit of mix and match to make it my own.

I'll update.

Well,  my update is that I'm too unwell today to do the things I normally do,  so I'm not going to class,  which involves a 2 hour plus return journey for a 2 hour class. I'm not up to it. I texted R and D to tell them. I told R of the 'shelf' at the back of the shirt (I didn't text a picture) She thinks I haven't taken out some of the dart fullness and that sewing is poor. The latter is true; I need a lot more practice at this. I did, however, take out all of the dart fullness. R says she will 'alter the pattern' next Monday.

In the meantime,  I was (slowly and gently) clearing up my sewing room as it reverts to its 'usual' role of dining room for Easter. My oldest daughter is coming with her husband and sons on Saturday for 10 days (not all with us).  I won't be sewing while they're here.  Middle daughter is cat sitting for them.  Youngest daughter and fiancé are coming on Good Friday for the weekend and my mother for a few days.  

I decided to take some photos on my phone to put in this blog so I could post. I discovered an interesting thing which might account for some of my problems. Can you see?  I bet you more quickly than I did!!
Yes, that's right.  Piece 1 beneath,  before tracing and seam allowances added. Piece 1 above after seam allowances added.  Yes,  I've made a mirror image but have drawn the zip on the wrong side!  No wonder I had problems! 

I must improve my labelling of both pattern pieces and fabric pieces after I have cut out. I kept paper pattern and cut piece together until I pinned but that doesn't help when you've traced a mirror image! 

will update if I achieve anything next week. 

Update - R pinched out excess fabric along junction of yoke and seam. The sewing was a problem but the fit was the bigger issue. I didn't take it any further.

Currently I'm reading through a great sewing book and recommend it

Professional Sewing Techniques for Designers by Julie Cole and Sharon Czachor. 2nd edition. Published by Bloomsbury.

This isn't a full book review as I've only dipped into the book so far.  However, so far, I think it's great.

I saw it recommended on the Coletterie blog and DH bought it for my Christmas.  I haven't had much time to look at it until now,  more's the pity.  It could have saved a few headaches.

The title makes it clear what the premise of the book is. Designers need to know how to pattern draft and how to construct the garments they design. The three arms are necessary.

I'm not interested in garment designing but I am interested in drafting a pattern from an appropriate block,  to fit me.

I'm not at my usual things today and have missed my golf and bridge sessions as I'm not well. However, I am well enough to sit and read and blog.  Very gentle. So that gave me the chance to look at this book.

The book covers how the pattern needs to be changed to accommodate a particular design feature.

Firstly,  I checked the section on closures. I had problems with my last buttonhole (on jeans) and also with the closure on my first jacket,  where the pattern asked for fabric loops and buttons,  but these just weren't going to work. Last term our pattern cutting class covered button plackets but I still wasn't really sure of the process. This book has a very clear style and helpful illustrations. I'm sure I could go ahead and follow this process now. 

For regular machine sewn buttonholes, they suggest the width and suggest using fray check first,  before cutting the middle of the hole with a buttonhole chisel. Embroidery scissors are then used to cut off any stray thread and to finish opening the hole.

More recently, I had problems with inserting a fly-front zip closure into the jeans I made for DH. I was using a self drafted pattern and following some of the techniques I learned in my trouser techniques class, where we used the fly-front zipper with separate extension.  Unfortunately,  the tutor who drafted the pattern had missed out a seam allowance - but said the technique would work anyway. (It appeared to work on my test garment but not on the real thing - I since gather another step was described but it wasn't in our notes or diagrams and I missed it) I didn't fully understand the significance of it and didn't include it in my pattern;  I wasn't even sure where the seam allowance should have been.  This meant I had to fudge my finish to conceal the zip as it was lying too close to the edge of the fabric. The extra ½" allows the zip to sit slightly further back and it is more easily concealed. How I wish I had read the section on fly-front closures in this book!  The techniques were well described and well illustrated, for both the fly-front facing cut in one piece and the fly-front zipper with separate extension.

I can't reproduce any pictures from the book as I assume they are copyrighted material. However,  although I haven't read much of it so far, I already consider it good value. It was an expensive purchase but worth it. There is a workbook which goes with it but I feel that it's too expensive to justify - unless I win the lottery. 

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Wedding dresses, Olympia and Goldhawk Road

I just realised I forgot to post this,  so it's a bit out of date,  but still very relevant,  to me,  anyway!  I will be asking for your advice,  too.

My youngest daughter, H,  lives in London with her fiancé, A. They visited us a couple of weeks ago to celebrate their engagement and look at some wedding venues.  A had asked DH's permission to marry  H when we were in London in January so we were less surprised than she was when he proposed romantically on a beach in Barcelona,  complete with ring.

I decided to visit the Knitting and Stitching Show at Olympia as we were meeting A's parents, whom we had never met, for Sunday lunch in Cambridge,  where DD1 stays, the same weekend. I asked H if she'd like to go with me to the show on Saturday. I travelled down the day before and stayed overnight in a hotel close to Olympia;  I couldn't stay with H.

I visited the V&A museum's wedding dresses through the ages exhibition on my own on the Friday afternoon as H was working. I don't know whether she managed to go before it closed.

I've been to the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate twice and to be honest I prefer it. This didn't seem bigger and really lacked seating space.

We looked around and a bought a couple of gadgets - a needle threader which actually worked when I tried it and a depiller. A friend had offered to lend me a magnetic bracelet which she swears by for arthritis but it was too small. I looked at magnetic bracelets at the show but was really put off buying by the vendor's attitude.

I bought a length of silk for the Sewing Workshop blouse
and a length of textured grey jersey,
and some thin grey patterned fabric for me - I forget what it was called. From a designer's range.

Grey and cream polyester voile? 
My daughter fancies a kimono top and we bought a length of jersey for that.
H's kimono jacket fabric;  no pattern chosen yet
It wasn't very late but we'd had enough. H suggested we go to Goldhawk Road as it wasn't far away. She knew I'd be interested. She went for materials when she made herself a tutu for an event  (her only make ever).

We had a look at some wedding silks and laces;  H is getting married next year and has asked me to make her wedding dress!!  Help!! I'm also supposed to be making the two dresses for the bridesmaids and my MOB outfit. Currently I'm on the RTW fast,  who knows about next year,  though. H is very well aware of my limitations.

Goldhawk Road was a revelation!  Fantastic! We looked at three shops. The choice!  The prices! I will certainly return. Or I'll send H! It's quite a distance from where she lives,  though. I bought a length of patterned wool jersey on sale. It's really quite thin with little body.  Not sure what I'll do with it as yet. 

H hasn't yet decided on the style she wants for her dress and that obviously impacts on fabric and on bridesmaid dress style. And of course whether I can even think about making it! She had photos of her wearing two really expensive dresses on her shortlist, which she has just started. One I liked (nearly £6000!! - $9000),  the other I didn't think I could make - and didn't like.

H and I then travelled to Cambridge where DD1 stays. In the meantime DH and DD2 had travelled there too.

DD1 had previously offered her wedding dress to be used or cannibalised but H hadn't been keen. She tried on the dress - and it was beautiful and really suited her, though a bit big particularly in the bodice. H is taller than DD1 and that actually made the dress a better length. I can't show pictures of any of these dresses,  for obvious reasons. H has added this dress to her shortlist and we're taking it back home with us.

H would really like to take up dressmaking. She loved the fabric and the garments she saw.  I have a spare sewing machine but A says they don't have room as their flat its very tiny.

I reckon I need to have an idea of the design H wants for her dress by June. That's a year in advance.  I've looked with her at the Marfy bridal pattern book and have an idea of what she might like - and I believe it's achievable with help from my sewing tutors who have kindly agreed this (though none of them now make wedding dresses due to bridezilla behaviour.)  For me,  I really need to lose a lot of weight - this should act as an incentive,  shouldn't it?  Unfortunately, it hasn't so far. Some suggestions for a nice MOB outfit would be welcome. Weather won't be very warm,  will be changeable, though could be gorgeous - that's weather in this part of the UK. 

Sewing terminology - nationality and age? Or just age?

I seem to be having problems with sewing terminology. Or maybe it's memory retention problems.

Sometimes, it's easy, doesn't matter. Who cares if we call a test garment just that, or a muslin or a toile?

I spoke on an earlier post of the use of the term 'jetted' for pockets; more books have double welt these days. No problem (except when I tried to look up 'jetted' in modern sewing books but more on that later)

It becomes more awkward if we don't realise that rayon and viscose are the same thing (I believe - but please correct me if I'm wrong!). I think I've found a source for some of the rayon bemberg lining often recommended

I wanted to find silk charmeuse as it's mentioned so many times. I found it in Goldhawk Road under a different name (wish I could remember what it was!).

Many of the brands mentioned aren't available here. I imagine that there are often alternatives; we don't have Pellon but do have Vilene. There are some items that I haven't been able to get and shipping and import duty from the US is prohibitive. I recently bought the Fabulous Fit system, on sale, paid almost as much again for postage and still had to pay almost the same again for import duty! That nearly tripled the initial cost. I couldn't get it here. I won't buy fabric from the US because of costs. Some sites sell reasonably and with no or limited postage costs and I'm happy to buy these small notions. However, recently I wanted a buttonhole marker, which I eventually bought from within the UK at £11.99, paying around £3 postage; I could have bought the same item slightly cheaper from the States but the postage was £17! No import duty at this level.

Tacking and basting are the same thing, though we also baste food.

Slightly more awkward with both cooking and sewing is the unit used. They are not directly interchangeable. Recipe books always say stick to one or the other but don't mix. The standard ⅝" allowance on patterns is usually given as 1.5cm equivalent - but an exact conversion would put it more like 1.6 cm. So if I sew a big 4 pattern using a 1.5 cm seam allowance rather than a 1.6 - might not seem like much but if there are several panels, say an 8 for skirt, this can add up. I tend to stick to the ⅝" measurement - unless of course it's a pattern with original measurements in cms; my machine is actually easier to use at ⅝". I know that some US sewers have run into trouble with European sizes. A US sewer with a bust measurement of 36" doesn't want to use 90cm or it would be too small (90cm equates to just under 35½") The problem is that I see posts using  a 2.5 cm to 1 inch conversion; the conversion is more like 2.54 cm to 1 inch.

However, it's not usually a problem with commercial patterns. Choose your size and you're fine.

I saw a post on PR recently where someone said serger and overlocker were not completely interchangeable. That 5 thread machines were sergers but 4 or less overlockers. Any truth to that? This doesn't affect my use of these machines, though. I can't do a coverstitch, though - although I have an old 5 thread overlocker, it was pre-coverstitch days.

No problem with any of these if you know!

That's not even why I started this post, though. Although I attend classes which teach in metric, I'm of an age where I really still think in imperial. This country uses many interchangeably. My car takes litres of fuel, but my fuel consumption is measured in mpg etc. I can still adapt. I'm trying to do this post entirely from my tablet. Not sure how it will go!

No, my reason for writing this post is that I misunderstood some terminology. I think there may be slight differences in what I'm told by tutors and what I see in books. Both of my tutors are from an industrial background, one making garments for a famous designer, the other being more factory based, I think. (They both use the term jetted).

I've made a pair of jeans and I now realise that I totally mixed up the name of the seams I used.

I wanted to make a running fell stitched seam. I think that's my tutor's terminology (I'm not completely sure as I keep forgetting to write down - that's what I mean about memory malfunction!)  Looks the same from back and front, two rows of identical parallel stitching.

My attempt was rather wonky
Sew seam together at 1.5 cm/⅝ "on the right side of the fabric ie wrong sides facing. Trim the back seam allowance to 0.5 cm. Wrap the uncut seam allowance around and under the trimmed side and pin in place. Edgestitch along the folded pinned (I'd need to tack too) edge through all layers and press. On the right side there are two layers of parallel stitching.

I know this is a domestic version rather than an industrial version seam. I thought my tutor called it a running fell seam and thought it possible it could also be a flat fell seam. I wondered so I looked up some references

Alison Smith 'Dressmaking': "Run and fell seam also known as a flat fell seam, is very strong. It is made on the right side of a garment and is used on the inside leg seam of jeans, and on men's tailored shirts." Her instructions for making it appear to equate to my tutor's.

Wikipedia:  "Felled seam, or flat-fell seam, is a seam made by placing one edge inside a folded edge of fabric, then stitching the fold down. It includes a topstitched finish. It is useful for keeping seam allowances flat and covering edges.
The flat-felled seam is the type of seam used in making denim jeans, although it appears inside-out to reduce stitching. It is also used in traditional tipi construction.
There are flat-felled seams and lap-felled seams."

Coletterie: "a felling foot is also known as a lap seam foot."

I looked up the lap seam, too, and found a good comparison between the two from Wendy Gardiner on She has good diagrams.

This is my run and fell/ flat fell practice sample.
Not too bad for a first go. I did intend to use these seams in the jeans I made for DH, down the inseam, but ran out of time. I was advised against using them for the yoke/jean junction and crotch. So it was only for two seams. Perhaps I should have taken the time but DH was so unconcerned and I knew the jeans really needed modification to fit well.  I did this entirely by hand and pinned but didn't tack. It was actually pretty quick. Taking more time would have improved the outcome.

I also know there is a presser foot that can help. Is it worth getting that if there are more jeans on my horizon? I know that any new technique or foot needs practice.

In the jeans class, our tutor had us make a seam, usual right sides together, overlock edges (could do before seaming) then fold both seam allowances to one side and topstitch. This is quite bulky, even on the calico we used.

In Thursday class, my tutor showed me a preferable method:seam made, right sides together, one side trimmed, other side overlocked (could do this one side before seaming) and folded over but not back under trimmed seam allowance and topstitched. Much less bulky. And uses less thread as only one side overlocked. My sample from class wasn't overlocked and is practically invisible and very flat.

Mock fell right side

Mock fell wrong side (overlapping side is still raw - to be overlocked and stitched from right side.)

What is the name for this? I called it a mock fell seam, perhaps based on nothing

My final version in the real jeans had the raw edge above overlocked and two rows of top stitching on the right side held it down beautifully. I can't show this as the jeans are not available just now.

On PR I found both variations referred to as mock or fake felled seams or the more modern faux fell seam. I rather like the term.

I have lots of books but unfortunately very few of them give name variations. I still find them very useful. The advantage of the Internet though is that I can search on any term. And then I prefer to read it in a book! Craftsy and YouTube videos are very useful but I can't watch them on my tablet, in bed, my favoured place, as my broadband connection there is too poor. I have to watch them on my PC which makes them less accessible. All are great ways of improving my knowledge so I can practice the skills needed to produce high quality garments - alongside my face to face tutors of course!

It was a lot more difficult producing this post on my tablet than on my PC (I used to have a laptop - that was great) but on the positive side, I can do it anywhere.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Buttonhole challenge

I briefly mentioned in my post re DH's jeans that I had lots of trouble with the but to hole. I put it down to the thickness of fabric and the fact that the jean side was much thicker than the the waistband top.  I couldn't try my little machine in class because it didn't do the kind of buttonhole you get in jeans ( the keyhole type). I took the waistband topstitching out, opened up, further trimmed the seams and generally smoothed out the overlap portion of the waistband. 

Then I tested some more buttonholes. Not without problems - I had to thread and rethread a few times as the machine wasn't playing ball! Then onto the real fabric  - and more failure! Now I reckoned this was because maybe the fabric wasn't flowing freely as the bulk was to the right with the way my machine stitches buttonholes.

However, long story short, I found the needle had a barb (a new needle). When I changed the needle, I was able to stitch the buttonhole. A lot of work with an ultimately simple (and very annoying) solution!

Question - can anyone tell me how you get really nice insides to buttonholes rather than the slightly raggy look I get?

Sorry - these photos have disappeared from blog and computer so have put photos of jeans in. No close up of button etc, sorry.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Jeans for DH

As you know, I spent 5 classes learning techniques to make jeans - the pockets,  fly zipped front etc.  The class didn't cover a full flat fell seam, only a version of a mock seam. Lyn, my tutor in the Thursday class, showed me how to do the proper one. So I was quite keen to incorporate this into the jeans I planned for DH.

I used a self drafted pattern originally based on the Sure Fit Design pants kit.  I modified the ladies' pant kit for a man and then further for jeans. I also incorporated  elements of the test jeans from the jeans class - particularly the pocket stay.

In addition,  I looked often at a real pair of jeans belonging to DH.  His jeans of course open opposite to mine and the instructions in the class and elsewhere were for ladies so I had to be careful to get the direction correct.

DH's needs, wants
Pretty basic!  Not tight fitting, likes looser. Likes very high waist (think Simon Cowell). Would like them to fit.  Doesn't want contrast topstitching. Wanted pocket stay when I offered this and he realised what it was. Wanted metal zipper and wanted it to be at least 7" long.  He's been involved at various stages deciding on pockets size,  placement,  number of belt loops etc. Chose the colour for thread and for serger thread - I had to buy as I didn't have right colour in my stash. I'm now using the overlocker much less than I originally thought.

I bought dark green denim with 2% stretch (though this wasn't obvious). I prepared it by washing it 3 times.  I didn't tumble as the instructions said not to.  This meant it got very crushed,  unfortunately.

Colour not correct in photo

I drew up a final version of my pattern (DH tried on a test muslin which fitted well). Last week I started to cut out the pattern but found I hadn't prepared enough fabric.  I wasn't able to cut the back leg. I had bought plenty of fabric and prepared more. With everything going on at the moment,  I've been a bit delayed. I only just managed to cut out the back legs at  class on Thursday.  I tried to iron the fabric there but the iron in class is poor. I did cut out but when I ironed the fabric at home,  had to alter one piece slightly.

While waiting for the rest of the fabric, I prepared the back pockets,  the front pockets and stay and the fly zipped front. I said the stretch wasn't noticeable but in fact the pocket edge had stretched slightly, though it has shrunk in with steaming.  And when I was working with the front crotch,  the stretch was very noticeable.

Can see waistband, back yoke, belt carriers, back pockets, topstitching
Front pocket - DH didn't want a coin pocket

There's loads of top stitching too. DH wanted self coloured top stitching. I bought some lovely Gutermann topstitching thread. However, my machine didn't like it and after having to take the shuttle out a few times after everything jammed up I gave up with it. I'm not sure what the problem was.  I had forgotten to take a topstitch needle but was using a denim needle and Lyn thought the thread was running freely .  Anyway,  I gave up on this occasion. I'm likely to try again with proper needle in my other machine - I've used topstitching thread with no problem previously. I had thought a denim needle was the best option but perhaps not. In the end, I stuck to using the ordinary Gutermann thread - just as well as I had only bought one reel and it's clear I would have needed far more. I hasn't quite realised just how much topstitching there is in jeans!

I had a few serger problems. Again,  I'm not sure why. The machine is due a good clean and I changed the needle in case it was bent (I found the needle threader wouldn't work - it still doesn't).  How often should I change the needle - how often do you change it? In the end, I found I had left the lever for roll hem disengaged. I really did have to read my instruction book, and changed cutting width, differential feed value, MTC and foot pressure - my stitch ended up ok but it took a lot of time. I haven't had that much experience with my overlocker, really.

I hadn't got the pattern correct for the fly and had to codge it a bit. This was my first,  if you don't count the tiny test jeans in class . It was wrong,  too, and I realised too late that I was copying this from that,  basically dissecting it to see how it worked (I found it hard to remember and we weren't given notes for all  the stages). I was making the jeans in class on Thursday.  I was really pleased with the zip,  how smooth it was and so on so it was only at the end if the class when I was checking the next step and expressed concern that Lyn looked at it and pointed out that it wasn't actually placed properly, as the zip needed to be lying further over.

Too late to change! If I even could. Lyn said the seam needed to be in the centre but that I could perhaps get away with my mistake by creating unequal seam allowances. Unfortunately,  I realised I didn't really follow her explanation. My error is perhaps why the crotch seam is a bit puckered and seems taut in places. Fortunately, DH finds it comfortable.

When I stopped on Friday, I had attached the yokes and the two back pieces.  The two fronts were already attached via the zip. I stopped earlier than I really wanted to as the bobbin ran out and I needed to change over to my house rather than my class machine. I'd still to fell the inside seam and sew the outside seam and hem. Then I realised,  though,  I hadn't cut out a waistband or belt loops.

Saturday I wasn't feeling well and was busy so didn't get any sewing done. I had a fairly free run at it today. It's Mother's Day in the UK so I had phone calls from my daughters and to my mother and a delivery of lovely flowers. Eventually I got down to some sewing.

I thought it likely I could finish the jeans but I ran into a few problems. In the end, DH said he wasn't bothered about a fully felled seam and so I did mock fell seams as those were faster - I was running out of time and patience.

The biggest issue today was the thickness of fabric. The machine coped reasonably well apart from the buttonhole. I tested successfully several times but each time I tried to sew the real thing it failed. Too thick - and uneven. I did sew a buttonhole in the end but it isn't nicely placed.

I asked DH to borrow his thicker awl but he couldn't find it and said he didn't really want rivets. Maybe in the next pair.

I had said that if I managed to finish on Sunday, I'd put my jeans into the PR competition - there's a prize awarded randomly so if I'm in it I might win it! So, they're finished and I'll enter if I have a suitable photo and can stay awake long enough!

What have I learned?
I was over ambitious in not only trying to make my first pair of jeans but also to try to draft the pattern. However, I am attending a pattern drafting class and a jeans making class so it didn't seem that silly at the time. I've learned some new techniques, even if I didn't use them all in these jeans, and noted some things to avoid. I hasn't put enough balance marks in my pattern and I would rectify that next time. I did learn from my class waistband, though, and this one is much better. I think I should have graded and reduced the seams more than I did though. Also, though I don't know how to do it properly yet, I didn't insert the fly zipper correctly.
I didn't do felled seams in the end - just overlocked , folded and topstitched.

Did DH like the jeans?
Yes, he likes them and finds them comfortable. He decided against having his picture published so I don't have much.

Did they fit?
Not perfectly. The waist is slightly too big. DH always wears a belt so it's not a huge issue but of course if the belt is tightened, the fabric puckers. The pocket is puckered - I think the jeans are too tight at this point. So he has more curve than I gave him in these jeans! There is a bulge at the back just below the yoke and I think there is too much length of fabric there - a slight tuck would rectify for the next time.
Much worse with no belt - in retrospect, have I sewed yoke on upside down?
They look reasonably ok on if I look at them in the way I would usually look at DH's jeans rather than with a self critical eye. However, examining them from a dressmaking point of view - no, no, no!

Would I sew him more jeans?
Yes. I have more of this fabric as I bought 6 metres. I need to make some alterations to my pattern and am not sure if I would now use the commercial pattern I bought rather than my self drafted pattern - there were so many bits to get right and I haven't quite succeeded.

And just to add:
I briefly mentioned I had lots of trouble with the buttonhole. I put it down to the thickness of fabric and the fact that the Jean side was much thicker than the to the waistband. I couldn't try my little machine in class because it didn't do the kind of buttonhole you get in jeans. I took the waistband out, further trimmed the seams and generally smoothed out the overlap portion of the waistband. 

Then I tested some more buttonholes. Then onto the real fabric  - and more failure! Now I reckoned this was because maybe the fabric wasn't flowing freely as the bulk was to the right with the way my machine stitches buttonholes.

However, long story short, I found the needle had a barb (a new needle). When I changed the needle, I was able to stitch the buttonhole.

Question - can anyone tell me how you get really nice insides to buttonholes rather than the slightly raggy look I get?

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Soft tailoring jacket workshop - part 1 - inc jetted pocket

Last day of February. I spent all day, 7.5 hours, at a Jacket Tailoring workshop run by R, my regular pattern cutting tutor, assisted by D, my dressmaking techniques tutor. They work together in their workshop which is much nearer my home than the college. D was there to help as originally more people were due to attend. In the end only Sarah, whom I know from my pattern cutting class - she's the enthusiastic, vintage inspired person I've mentioned previously, and I were there. This meant we got lots of attention. Both Sarah and I are quite slow and fairly exacting though for the purposes of the workshop we had to let some things go.

BTW, this is not intended to be a tutorial just an aide memoir for myself. As I write, I don't yet have the promised notes so I'm trying to get my thoughts in order. I'm sure I've already forgotten a number of steps. Then I remember some and add in. The notes will act as a better reminder.

On a side note, I received a letter from our local college which has a large fashion and design and textiles etc section saying my application for their 6 week pattern cutting workshop had been accepted and I should turn up on 9 March. I replied, declining. I believe I applied last year but didn't hear anything and then found R's class which although much further especially at rush hour can be for 30 weeks. I'm more than happy to stick with that. I believe the local college only does the one six weeks, making a skirt block. It's also as expensive as the year I attend for just 6 weeks.

Before I went to the class in the morning, I called in at the local fabric shop, across the road, to buy some fabric for the pockets and linings of DH's jeans.  I got some satisfactory strong but lightweight cotton and R and D both approved the purchase. R showed us the inside of a jacket which had a two piece pocket - ours was folded. R said that the folded pocket is stronger. I'll have to consider this for DH's jeans.

Back to R's jacket workshop.
R and D had cut out all the jacket sections.
When I arrived, I helped fuse interfacing onto a number of pieces. This was to be a soft tailoring workshop. I'm pleased about that as I'm not into either heavy structured traditional tailoring or a lot of hand stitching - I don't mind a little, in fact it can be very relaxing.

I took some photos but towards the end we were rather rushed and I couldn't. Not all my photos worked. I just used my mobile phone as trying to use a camera in that situation would have been difficult.

There was fusible interfacing at the hems, top of sleeve, around neck and part of armhole.
The whole of the front piece was fused with 'body' wool and hair canvas interfacing. The front interfacing was fused with a lightweight interfacing.

Because all these pieces had been cut and fused, you might have thought we'd be quick. Not so - we're both slow and there was also chat and doughnuts and beverages. In some cases, D was working just ahead of R to get things ready. Also, many of the markings made by pencil had come off. R had a printer malfunction so we won't get her interesting looking hand-out until next week. We didn't see a finished garment or pattern picture so I wasn't altogether clear what exactly we were making.
The first step was sewing the dart in the front. This dart ended at the jet pocket so accuracy was important. We had to cut the dart, press open press and cut into the seamline at the end of this dart. I won't mention pressing again (much) but rest assured every step was pressed.

The next step was the shoulder dart and the diamond dart at the back. Then we joined the panel with the split for the jetted pocket to the back piece. This was rather tricky as we had to make sure the pieces of fabric above and below the jet split kept abutted together. I thought I had succeeded but pressing revealed otherwise and we tried to use steam to rectify the situation - we both had the same issue. Relative success.

The reverse of this slit and the adjoining fabric were given a layer of interfacing. R helped with this and I got a slight pucker in the fabric which would cause problems later.


There is a terminology issue here. Our tutors refer to this type of pocket as a 'Jetted Pocket' and this is the language which comes naturally to them - even though D isn't 30 yet. We haven't had the class hand-out yet. All my personal reference books originate in the US and refer to this as a 'Double Welt Pocket'. My internet search reveals that these are also called 'Besom Pockets'. I found that the name for the strips is either 'Welts' - hence the alternative name, double welt pocket, or 'Jettings', which I seem to have abbreviated to 'Jets'. I go between the terms. Apologies for this. No apologies for use of centimetres. Flaps were originally designed to cover the jettings and prevent rain getting in and these were therefore tucked in while indoors. That is no longer the case and the flap is considered an accessory which completes the style, with the flap being left out. It tends to be more formal jackets which have a double welt pocket without flap. 

We then marked out 16cm for the jet placement, on the right side. The line was evenly spaced around the slit and ended in a clearly marked line.

We created the strips for the welts. These were already interfaced. The strips were about 20cm by 2cm as the welt was going to be ½ cm. We folded these in two lengthways and pressed. We marked a line up the middle then stitched up the middle of the resulting 1cm strip with a fold at one side and a raw edge at the other. This stitching could show and was designed to be removed however I had stitched up in a regular stitch length before we realised this. I should say all our stitching was done in red to contrast. It would also have been helpful to have stitched this in yet another contrasting colour in a longer stitch length as I found it difficult to say what was what.
We then placed one welt piece along the slit, raw edge inwards, evenly spaced on each side. We then had to carefully stitch along our marked line, starting and ending exactly at the marks originally drawn at the ends of the line marking the pocket position. Fortunately, this stitching fell just to the side of my original stitching line so it wouldn't show.

Then the second piece was applied. Raw edge to raw edge, similarly stitched. We had to check they were even - two methods I remember - firstly, the stitching was visible on the interfacing at the back and the two lines had to be parallel, 1cm apart and ending exactly at the marked end. One of mine was a stitch too long and so I had to take that back. The second method was folding up the folded ends to ensure they met each other. Mine did.


Then, from the interfacing side we had to cut into and open up the slit ensuring we didn't cut the welts. The cut had to stop 1cm short of each end. Then the cut bifurcated virtually up to the end of the stitching. I forgot that step at first so it was no surprise that I couldn't adequately turn my welts through. Even after I did get them turned through, I had some puckering and my cuts needed to be extended closer to the stitching - I hadn't been brave enough.

After the welts were turned through and deemed satisfactory - this took quite a bit of time! - we needed to secure the end of the pocket by stitching through the little triangle of fabric created by the bifurcation of the cut onto the welts, avoiding the bulk of the fabric.

We were hungry and pretty tired by this time but had to finish our pocket before lunch! We took a piece of cotton and added some of the main fabric to the top so that's what would be seen through the jets - I forget the name of this. We were rushing a bit and you know what they say - festina lente - the more hurry, the  less speed. We sewed on our pocket bag to the two jets but forgot to under stitch - I asked the question too late. Lunch was calling so we ploughed on. Later I did one or two hand under stitches. R told me this would have been done by hand, though not in the industry where she worked.

Lunch (late lunch) was a relief. Neither Sarah nor I had done this kind of pocket before and both found it quite difficult.

Ironically, when I go to my trouser/jeans techniques class on Wednesday, we will be doing the double welt/jetted pocket as that isn't covered in jeans making but is important for trousers making! I should be pretty good at it. What do they say? See one, Do one, Teach one!! The manipulation will be easier as we will be starting with a 4cm width fabric to make a 1 cm welt/jetting. (update - we didn't actually ever get around to doing this!)
R gave us a sheet at the end with interfacing samples used in the construction of the jacket which, BTW, was a small size half jacket with a two pieces sleeve, intended to be lined.

Still to come:

My collar isn't finished as it wasn't lying nicely. I need to have a look at that tomorrow, too.

Sleeve insertion - in fact we didn't get that finished and said we'd try to do it for Monday. I'm pretty busy tomorrow so I may not manage.

R also gave us the sleeve head, briefly telling us how to add, and a shoulder pad. Sarah and I were both brain dead by this time and I didn't really take it in!

I'm really very tired, wimp that I am, and I think I'll give up at that for tonight. I've recorded a documentary in which my youngest daughter is credited as a researcher. Her first credit. I'll watch that with a glass of wine.

Sunday - St David's Day
I didn't get to post last night after all. Better late than never? I missed the bit of the documentary where my daughter actually appears on screen so I'll have to find that!

I decided to wait to post second part until I had finished jacket sample as I can ask R at class on Monday. I'm busy after that so the second part of the post will be at least a week away.

Update and Continuing with Machine Embroidery Course

I haven’t been sewing anything recently. I’ve managed a few alterations and repairs and a little bit of machine embroidery - though I’ve f...