Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Things will get better from now on!

I've had a lot of computer problems. A lot of problems with Blogger - and with other programmes.

I started to use my smartphone and my tablet for a lot of pictures and posts but, well, they really weren't up to this!

I'm writing this on my brand new laptop. I'm in the process of setting it up. I had a laptop previously. It was pretty old but reasonably competent. Then my daughter's laptop broke down permanently - and her need was greater than mine. When I gave it to her, I didn't envisage getting another as I thought my tablet would suffice. It's great for so many things, but not, I feel, for writing and publishing posts. Hence my new purchase.

On accessing my blog posts earlier this morning to post a reply, using my tablet, I saw that, once again, many of my pictures had disappeared. I will spend some time trying to restore some of them but will simply delete others. I have all the photos still, and think I need to find a better way to store these. Those I took on my camera, and those from my husband's camera are stored nicely in appropriate files but more recent ones, in drive, are less well 'filed'.

Because I was using my smartphone photos loaded onto drive and into blogger, there was no editing. Editing is important - my earlier photos ere all edited and those DH takes on his camera usually are. He uses Photoshop and I have the baby version - Photoshop elements - but think I might try to use Picasa as that is the programme blogger intrinsically uses and in which it stores photos.

Previously, I tried to set up labels  under which I could file specific posts e.g. all the posts about my pattern drafting. Despite quite a bit of reading and trying, I didn't succeed in doing this. I think it is easier on WordPress and I wondered about shifting but I think I'll persevere for the moment.

Anyway, I have a few things to set up and then I'll think about those photos. I have to sort out my photo filing before I try to fix in my posts or I'll just lose them again.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

College classes, toiles and sloping waistline

I've been thinking hard what to do in next term's classes, that is between today and July. 10 evenings 2 hours each at pattern cutting,  same at dressmaking techniques and 11 weeks at my daytime class with guided learning which is 4 hours;  unfortunately I do have to miss a few of those because of golf and other commitments.

Although I have enrolled in the college courses for next term,  there is a massive shakeup because of funding and the need to accredit courses. I've paid 50% more to attend next term and at the moment it's not actually clear it's going ahead and if it does,  on which nights. We students don't feel it's right to alter the course and night ⅔ of the way through the year,  so many haven't signed up. There was only one pattern cutting class but several dressmaking classes - at beginner, continuation and advanced level. At the moment there is only one all level course;  the tutors have campaigned for more - obviously,  it's their livelihood that's at stake. They have 35 names for a 12 place class! They did assure is that they would work with the students as before. I'm not sure they can actually promise that.

The original plan for pattern cutting classes is drawing up a trouser pattern, cutting and getting a decent fit to create a block (sloper) and then make some design modifications. I'm happy with this plan. I didn't achieve a good fit from the dressmaking class on jeans but I did spend the majority of the classes available making jeans for DH as I wanted to practice the techniques taught before I forgot them. so I only had a little time on mine. I'm absolutely determined to have a pair of well fitting trousers for me by term end.

This term the evening dressmaking class was meant to be working on your own project. I'm undecided whether to make a dress or continue with last term's ill fated trousers. The dress,  I think. However, as this will now be module 1 of a BTEC, plans may change. I don't have any desire to do a qualification but I do like a more structured teaching approach, so I'll wait and see. There isn't another course near me. My Thursday class is great and I think the tutor is fantastic but at the end of the day it's not a structured class.

I'm assuming it's still a bit early to be making mother of the bride test garments for my youngest daughter's wedding next year but I have a couple of items in mind - though please make further suggestions! At the moment,  I'm thinking possibly a dress with a lace top layer or cardigan type item or jacket?  
I like the lace top but am not keen on the dress though a bias dress can be very flattering I'm told

It can still be pretty cold in June here though it's also possible for it to be very warm so I'm looking for layered items, I think.  I'm planning to lose quite a bit of weight!  3 stones, I think (52 pounds; 18 kg) I need to anyway as I've put back on everything I lost last year - I lost 2 stones. Shame on me. I'm not fit and my joints are suffering.
During my Thursday class,  I intend to make a blouse - one that fits of course but using the best techniques I can.  I discussed this with Lyn last term and a blouse  was her suggestion. Today was the first session of the new term. I've chosen to repeat the blouse I made for DD1, in the same view, view A, after looking at other patterns I also considered. For me this time. 


Final blouse for DD1
Hers was cut in a size 14 with an FBA. After discussion with Lyn, and measurements, I decided to go with the size 20. I did cut into the pattern for DD1 but only a couple of pieces are affected and I fixed them today. The different sizes are fortunately spread across three separate sheets. I've lowered the bust apex by cutting and inserting a 2" strip between the armhole and apex, and of course also lengthened on the back. I also added a touch to the hip area, by grading between my size and the size up, which was on a separate sheet. I haven't altered the waist dart position - I'll wait to see what it looks like. Also, I may need an FBA as I take a D cup, though by their calculations I shouldn't need one. I'm narrow at the bottom of my back and carry more in front - we did discuss whether to do a larger size for the front and smaller for the back..  I felt the neckline was a little low for DD1 but I'll see what it looks like in the muslin. I'll cut that out and sew it up for next week. For the actual blouse I will use a fairly lightweight cotton, possibly some Liberty fabric I have though the blouse might be better in a plain fabric.

As if to bely what I said about this not being a structured class, the theme of this term is pockets and we have some homework to do for next week.

I've been working on my personalised bodice, using SFD. I drew up and cut out the pattern without too much difficulty, though I was concerned about bust dart placement. I started by using a material which was very difficult to use;  I had bought it cheaply to use for toiles. It slipped so much and was so difficult to sew that I gave up on it. I then cut out in some polycotton which worked better. However,  there was something far wrong with my front bodice side seams, related I think to the bust dart not being correct. I hoped that R could comment. I had a toile sewn by Sunday when I had a sewing bee with R, my pattern cutting tutor. She tested the fit on me and pinned some adjustments. These were - she lowered the neckline, slightly adjusted the slope of one shoulder, narrowed shoulder significantly by taking in at shoulder and also widening neck, took in at the upper side seam (I had enlarged here because of my large biceps)  but lowered the armhole to give additional room, significantly increased the back darts and shortened pattern torso length. She noted that the toile was too tight below the waistline but it was supposed to stop at waistline and I had to lose quite a bit of fabric length.

I have a significantly forward tilting pelvis or forward sloping waistline which means that my front bodice length is a lot longer than my back bodice length. R and I had a discussion about this, which I find more significant in a skirt (or trousers),  where I have to shorten front length and lengthen back. However,  such a sloping waistband doesn't look good (DH commented adversely when I tried on). The conclusion of our discussion was that I needed to compromise and bring up the front waistband, to make the waistband sit more level. If I can't cope with such a high front waistband, I have the option to remove the same amount all the way around to make a waistline below natural waist - or I could cut off same and create a yoke.

I also had a skirt block with me.  R suggested raising back by 2 cm. Otherwise it was pretty good except that the right side seam didn't lie where it should.   Left and back were fine. R measured the pieces against my skirt block where I had to make separate sides because of asymmetry; this asymmetry accounted for some of the problem but I had used the slippy fabric I originally used for the bodice and that accounted for more. R felt my block from class was valid (though front waistline was very low and after our discussion,  I feel I need to raise it.)

I have a bodice block from my pattern cutting class but when I started to design with it,  R changed the fit rather a lot, so I'm not sure how useful my block is. R agreed.  I also have one from a brief course I attended last summer (before I knew about the college course)  - the 3 blocks I have are all completely different!!  Ideally,  I would sew up all 3 and decide which was best to work from,  I suppose.

On Monday,  I drew up a completely new pattern for skirt and bodice. I made some but not all of the adjustments R had pinned because I realised as I was redrawing the pattern that I may have made an error with the armhole. So I didn't enlarge for large biceps but did drop slightly. I shortened bodice significantly.  With the skirt,  I raised back by 2 cms.

I cut the pieces out of a well behaved piece of fabric, probably upholstery.
When sewing,  I found my dart problem was even worse than before. For some reason I had more problems sewing one side than the other. On the front, there was a very significant bend and I had to force the fabric to join the back.
A very significant gap - this is not the waistline!

Dart opened out
I sewed the pieces together to make a dress. I found,  however,  that I had to lose the 2 cms extension on the skirt back. I found the waistline higher than I'm used to - R says a higher waistline is slimming so I'll have a go!

I took the dress to D's sewing bee on Tuesday evening and tried it on for her advice as the other students were late. D shortened back bodice length even further as she said there was significant puddling - is this a sway back? Or just a large derriere? She pinned back darts longer and wider. She noted that the side seams were bowed - one side worse than the other. I took the toile apart and showed her what I thought was issue with front dart and she described how to fill this area out. The fill in is almost exactly the shape that she drew on the back pattern piece when drawing a straight side seam. So I'm sure this is the problem.


I spent the rest of the evening working out and trying to do the adjustments. As I've added to the front side seams,  this could make the bodice too big but it was tight previously.  I'll just have to sew it up again and try.  I made a rough adjustment to the toile but I'll transfer these to the pattern pieces properly and cut another toile,  perhaps next week. At Thursday class today, I transferred the alterations onto the pattern tissue. I'll make up the new, 3rd, toile, before going to pattern cutting class (if that happens)

New dart and side seam is much wider.

Pin shows original top of back dart - now both longer and wider
So over the next 3 months, I'm going to make 3 garments for me - trousers, dress (?) and blouse. Does that sound reasonable? It's unfortunate that I'm doing them all at the same time but that can't be helped - I don't like using one tutor for another tutor's project. Should I finish one early,  I can decide on another.

Recently I made a cardigan and that was nice because I didn't end up in the seemingly interminable toile making and fitting issues. I might take a break - I want to make some pattern weights and a scissors holder - no issues with fit there!  Just cut and sew.
I'll update later.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Outlet bargain overhaul and charity shop patterns find

I'm an RTW faster, this year. Meaning that I ‘cannot’ purchase RTW clothes. There are a few things I'm ‘allowed’ to purchase - shoes, bags etc and, I believe,  tights and bras. As it happens,  I haven't bought anything. I thought this might hurt, as I've been a bit of a shopaholic but amazingly, it's been easy. My bank balance is probably pleased, too. On the other hand, a lot of what I bought was bought because it was on sale, a bargain etc. I wouldn't have bought many/any of the items if they had been full price! I do have too many clothes, in any case - but I’m glad to say I’m gradually culling these.

When I visit my mother,  I pass an outlet village. For some reason, the M&S outlet in this village has much better prices than my more local outlet stores (there are 2 within 5 miles plus another 15 miles away). That store, at Gretna, so in Scotland, often has excellent clearance sales.
Last year, I bought a striped dress and stretch bootcut casual pants for under £2.50 each (about $3.50). The original prices were far higher.
The pants were for me and are actually too big and as a result slightly too long, amazingly. I wore them for the first time yesterday and need to decide what best to do with them. They're very casual and I can get by with them for the moment.
I offered the dress to my middle daughter, thinking it might suit her and was her style, but she wasn't interested. I thought I might dismantle the dress to use the fabric as it is decent quality. The length of the dress was much too short for a dress and too long for a tunic - for me, that is. I can't really show you that as I didn't take a photo. Imagine slightly longer than I'm holding up!

Excess away - I'm wearing the grey pants I bought, too.

I decided the best option was to cut it to top length. I cut off 18.5cm (7.5”)and folded up the hem at 1.5cm (⅝”) along one of the stripes.
I did consider using the reverse of the fabric to make a contrast band. The reverse contrast is used at the sleeve and the neck. At the sleeve, the fabric is turned over twice to the right side so the wrong side shows. The resultant sleeve hem/band is 4cm (1.5”) and it’s stitched in place at a couple of points. I decided to go with the original turned hem.
The original had a coverstitched hem. I don't have a coverstitch machine. I overlocked the edge using grey thread  (actually I overlocked as I was cutting the excess fabric off - I was able to follow a grey stripe), then folded along a navy stripe and pressed. My trial of twin needle topstitching wasn’t successful due to tunnelling of the fabric between the needles. How do I avoid tunnelling - I haven't had it on previous garments?

In the end I went for a single needle narrow zigzag stitch using navy in the top needle and grey in the bobbin along a navy stripe on the right side. The stitch is practically invisible on both sides and I'm happy with it.
Right side of finished hem
Wrong side of finished hem

The result is a top I’m pleased with and have already worn twice. The fit isn’t perfect, but it’s good enough.
Finished top. This fits nicely with my preferred style
Today I was at the dentist in a nearby local village. I walked through the village afterwards, as I had time to spare on my parking ticket. I passed a very interesting charity shop (I think that’s a thrift shop in the US). I was attracted in by the suit on the model in the window - it looked rather designer with lots of interesting details. I didn’t pursue it when I got in as I picked up a couple of paper patterns (well - 5!) - other charity shops in my area don’t take them as they don’t want to check to see if all the pieces are present. So this was quite a find. There are 3 for me, including an American Vogue designer (Isaac Mizrahi), uncut,

and 2 for my grandchildren. Only one of the patterns has been cut and it was put back into the envelope beautifully - I can never achieve that! It’s cut at the largest size in the envelope, which is fine. Unfortunately, all of these probably came from the same person who is a little smaller than I - I’d have liked the bigger size range. One of the patterns has a lace top that I’m putting in my possibility file for my mother of the bride outfit. It's a very simple shape and should be easy to grade up in size - I hope.
Pattern is crushed but uncut.  I like the loose blouse. 

I really like the lace top. Not with this dress, though (it's a bias dress and too long for my taste) - and perhaps in cobalt blue

I can see reviews on PR only for the two children’s patterns. The women’s patterns are obviously quite old - the same pattern numbers now grace completely different patterns. The date on the back is 1998.

I think I'll make these for my two grandsons - version A. I love the contract under-fabric. One PR review is pretty poor.

The size of this pattern might do my younger grandson this year - otherwise it's too small.
My older grandson has a rather large head - he's also very tall for his age.

I haven’t looked at clothes in the charity shops. I don’t find it easy to buy RTW because I’m tall (and okay - overweight) so it’s never been something I’ve managed to get. I’m not sure if purchasing an item of clothing from a charity shop with the express intention of altering it is allowed in the RTW Fast - so I don’t look!

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Cardigan/jacket with peplum - McCall's 6844

Well,  I finally made something for myself! I hoped I would manage to write that 3 or 4 weeks ago! I've been ill so didn't manage as much as I'd hoped. Still, I didn't want to rush it just for the sake of finishing.
I'd have been happier with finished result if I looked like this model!
I've had this pattern, McCall's 6844 for ages. I like wearing a cardigan type top over a T-shirt or similar and I'd decided I needed a grey one. I have a couple of black ones - black is so useful but it's not really my colour. I have a few cardigan patterns - 2 McCall's and 2 Style Arc. I like some of the details in the Style Arc patterns and like that they suggest fabric, providing a swatch. A couple of things decided me against on this occasion though - I've never made one of their patterns and gather they're a bit short on instructions,  which I definitely still need at this stage and I'm not sure I've bought the correct size,  with them being single size patterns. The other reason was they suggested quite a fine stretch bengaline which I don't have and I wanted to use up fabric from my rapidly growing stash.  One of the great disadvantages of being a slow sewer is that stash grows faster than it is used up!

I've seen loads of great reviews for the McCall's. Then I realised that it was one of the best patterns of its year and was therefore valid for entry into the PR Best Patterns competition. Now why would I want to enter that?  'Simples' as  Aleksandr Orlov (Meerkat!) says!  I'm not getting things done for myself and this gives me a push.  Besides, it appeared to be quite an easy make,  so I decided to go ahead. I liked the idea of a simple make for me. Some people call this a 'palate cleanser'. I missed the PR competition but that's no big deal.

I now think that perhaps my fabric is a little thick and 'bouncy' though it did have the required amount of stretch. This led to a few extra steps.

In my sewing class, I was measured against the pattern. It's great to have someone to do that!

Pattern alterations

I decided to make size L. I had read that it runs a bit big so felt that although my hips are bigger than given in this size range,  it would be fine.

I needed to lengthen the centre front by ¾" , tapering to zero at the side,  and shorten the back by a similar ¾". tapering to zero at the side seam. My tutor, Lyn, said it was crucial that the waist fell at the correct spot in this style or it just wouldn't look good.
The sleeves appeared to be a good length for me so I didn't need to lengthen them  - which is unusual for me. However,  my tutor advised making the sleeves in size XL,  though leaving the sleeve cap at L, because there didn't appear to be enough ease for my chunky biceps. I'm glad I did this as I feel the finished sleeves are somewhat neat over another sleeve.
Many sewers who reviewed this cardigan felt it was fine to put the sleeves in flat but my tutor advised me to insert them in the round as that would give a better look. I read a Curvy Sewing Collective post that linked to a post about dominant seams and that may be why. Another reviewer also suggested this gave a better look.
Now many people felt that interfacing the band was unnecessary but my tutor advised that I should complete this step.
So I was going to be following the instructions exactly. Or more or less exactly - as I would add a step.

My original plan had been to do version B
- completely plain with just a touch of waist shaping. However,  my tutor and all of my fellow students suggested the longer peplum version. I've never liked peplums on me and don't have any garments in that style. I always felt that as a pear shape,  I didn't want to emphasise my hips. However, more recently I've been seen as rectangular,  so I decided to give this a go. Nothing to lose! (Well except time, hair and fabric!)

I cut out the fabric with only 2" left at the end. The top is quite greedy for fabric because of the circular skirt shaped peplum. However, I only realised later that I hadn't cut my band longer to compensate for the lengthened front;  then I thought,  that was correct,  in fact what I needed to do was to shorten the skirt part at the waist. So, at front, longer bodice, shorter skirt and opposite at back.  After all,  the hem (which I had already turned up but not stitched)  needed to be level.

After stitching the shoulders (including stay/twill tape - not mentioned in instructions) and sides of bodice and side seams of peplum, I had turned up the hem ready to topstitch and had prepared the band. I pinned my band to the front and saw that it was,  indeed,  too short, although I had reduced the bottom seam allowance of the band to try to make it a little longer.  I tried to alter the skirt portion at the waist to account for the shorter band. You can see that the 2" I had left would have been invaluable if I had included at the right time! I had no fabric left so no chance to recut anything.

My tutor got me to try on at this stage.
She advised taking in at the waist by ½" on each side,  tapering to nothing at armhole and peplum hem as she felt it was a little large, and not shaped enough, although correct at the shoulders.
She felt it was better to split the difference between the amount I had planned to take up of the skirt at the front at the waist and leaving it as it was. This meant I would need to shorten the whole peplum, form the hem,  to make the band front level.
Everyone liked it (I didn't and don't)

I drew up the changes I needed to make and stitched with my regular sewing machine. I then took out the overlocking and cut and re-overlocked the new narrower seam. My tutor recommended this - she said that overlocking over overlocking is untidy. I also attached the peplum to the bodice and overlocked,  including stay/twill tape,  as advised by my tutor.
That's not strictly true; I took my overlocker to class and the teacher wanted to try it with the stay tape inserted, as per instructions, in the foot. This didn't work and she ended doing it her usual way. I just watched. I didn't feel like doing more than that,  in all honesty.

So I was back to putting on the band. Yes, it was too short - but it was unequal! Or it seemed to be.  I had pinned the outer seam line together as it didn't really want to lie flat.  I took out all the pins and realised that there was no way this band was ever going to look good at the edge - I really felt that understitching was necessary, although it wasn't in the instructions. My tutor agreed.  (Today I read a review suggesting the same - the reviewer hadn't done it,  but felt it was necessary so had edge stitched instead) I also laid the band out flat,  now that it had no pins and wasn't attached to cardigan - and each side was the same length! So clearly, I had been pulling and pinning unequally.

In retrospect, I'm not sure understitching  was a good idea, although it certainly did its job. The instructions say right side is sewn to right side, as usual - but as band is folded over, the wrong side is then on display. If there is no understitching,  this isn't so obvious,  but only one side is interfaced. I read some reviews and see some reviewers comment on the band instructions, suggesting they were wrong or at best misleading. I'm glad that it wasn't just me - I'm sure there is an error in the instructions.

I had tremendous difficulty pinning the band to the bodice. Instructions say to clip and, boy, I had to clip! The hem needed to be shortened about ¾", equalling the original lengthening. However, the big issue was that the understitching line was showing - beautifully and evenly sewn,  but showing. Was this acceptable? I wondered.  I only machine basted the band half expecting to have to take it off.
I did shorten the hem to the correct length. I was going to overlock,  turn and topstitch the hem of the circular peplum but my overlocking didn't look neat so I did a twice folded hem as was in the original instructions and hand basted.

Anyway,  I was well enough to go to class that Thursday. Just! As I had suspected,  Lyn advised that although the neckband looked OK, it would never lie correctly as there was too much fabric underneath as my understitching was doing its job. She suggested I unpick and she would stitch the neckband on again. Agreed!  When Lyn was stitching it back on again,  I realised that my fabric really wasn't very well behaved - it wasn't just me! There were particular problems when the non interfaced side was on top as it wanted to stretch and move away from the presser foot. I watched and took notes. I really still wasn't well enough to do more.

Before I went to class I had also tried to gather and ease the sleeve heads and insert but this didn't work - I had problems with the easing and loads of puckers. I was using my big machine and wasn't sure how to change stitch tension for the duration of easing. I took it all out and restitched with a normal length stitch but at a looser tension as advised, using my smaller class machine, and this worked much better. I think Lyn felt sorry for me and ended up inserting my sleeves for me. I certainly wasn't protesting! I did the easing and the pinning. My fabric was really ill behaved!

I had family with me for the week before Easter and then I took my mother back home and stayed with her for a few days.  She is moving out of her house into a one level flat in a few weeks and needs help to sort out loads of paperwork - my mother is visually impaired and struggles enormously with this. So no sewing over this period,  other than the bit I got done in class on the Thursday before Easter.

At class yesterday (our term continued right up until yesterday, Thursday 9th April,  as an earlier session had been cancelled,  but yesterday was the last until next term) I thought I still had to overlock all my seams and took my overlocker. I didn't have my car and when I realised I had already done my overlocking and didn't need my machine,  it was too late to change. I didn't have my sewing machine but could use a class machine - except I didn't have the same thread I'd used to topstitch with me!  

I didn't really have enough with me to keep me going. However,  we were having an A to Z of sewing terms done Boggle style. We could put one term against each letter and got a point if no one else had the term. I decided to use only terms I had come across and used rather than try to look up more obscure terms. Others had clearly worked hard looking up terms.  However,  my policy worked and I won by 1 point!  That was nice. I received a prize of a pin cushion, a small storage box and the choice of a button covering kit or seam gauge - I chose the button kit as I already had the latter. The competition took quite a while and we learned quite a few new terms.

I put on the jacket and asked help in measuring the sleeve length. The instructions suggested 1.5 cm turned,  raw edge turned under,  so a ¾ cm hem.  Lyn suggested I'd be better doing a slightly deeper hem as it would lie better - so I was going to be doing a 1 cm double turned hem, topstitched. To my surprise,  I actually had to shorten the sleeves - one by more than the other. Yes, I'm lopsided! During the class, I cut the sleeves and turned them to the correct length. I then hand basted to keep them in place,  and pressed. I also handstitched the seam allowance in place at the hemline and waistline.

So the jacket was more or less finished. I asked Lyn's advice on finishing touches and pressing. Lyn advised me to stitch the overlocked neck seam in place from the outside, between the shoulder seams, as otherwise that seam could irritate my neck - so, like understitching except the stitches are visible on the correct side of the fabric. Overstitching?  I did this at home.

At home,  I topstitched my sleeve hems. I forgot to change my stitch length so my stitches were shorter than my previous topstitching,  unfortunately - but I didn't think it was such a big issue and didn't take it out and redo.  The first sleeve went very well - but my machine didn't want to stitch the second!  It took a few attempts but it was okay in the end. I think it was a combination of too short a stitch length and the narrow width of the hem I was stitching while using my 9mm stitch plate. I couldn't use my straight stitch plate as my needle wasn't in centre position - I need all the help I can get to place my stitches accurately and was using my needle offset so I could use the edge of the presser foot to guide my stitching. My new 5.5 mm stitch plate had actually been delivered while I was out but I didn't even think of using it! However,  I need to practice keeping stitching straight while using a straight stitch foot and plate.

The inside is nicely finished

The iron in class isn't good enough to use for steam so after a demo of what to do,  I elected to do the steaming and pressing at home. Lyn advised how to steam the underside of the collar, each seam and the sleeve cap seam allowances. This I did. I'm not completely happy with the collar/band but it looks okay from the outside. Again,  I think the understitching is to 'blame' for this.  Looking at the finished cardigan/jacket,  I feel I would like to tether the band back at the hem. What do you think?  Do you think a decorative pin would be a good idea?

I can say I have a garment for me,  even if I can't say I sewed it all myself! I'm pleased with the result,  from a sewing point of view, but I don't think this will ever become a favourite garment. Somehow I must find a way of choosing styles that are better for me. This was a combination of a style that doesn't suit and fabric that is too bulky. I did learn a few things so it's not time wasted. I still wonder about that understitching which caused a lot of extra work and I feel is contributing to puckering on the band.

Today I noticed that the winner of the PR Best Pattern competition used this pattern - but altered the style beautifully,  though more suited to a petite person,  I feel. I'm still happy to sew patterns as given,  modifying only for size. That might change when I have got a TNT pattern and when I feel more practised in sewing skills.

I don't have photos of the construction stages but did have photos of some of the details - but they are refusing to load!! So rather than wait even longer, I'm going to post this without those images but will add at a later date if I can retrieve them.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Soft Tailoring Workshop - Jacket - part 2 - collar and sleeve

I've had this post in draft since the beginning of March. We still haven't been given the notes from the class. Apparently R brought them to class for Sarah and me,  put them on the table, but didn't say to us - and someone has clearly gone off with them.
Anyway,  I'm still not finished as I've had so many other things on and haven't been well but decided I needed to post. Well I did it accidentally but decided to keep the past in place rather than delete. I don't think I can re-do the past - I've certainly learned that these things need to be done while they're fresh in the memory.

Post as in draft:

I realised that I had forgotten to put in part 1 that we put twill tape into the shoulders before seaming. This was the back sewn to the front - the facing was left free.

There is also twill tape around the edge of the front and across the bottom. R told us this would be hand sewn - our hearts sunk as we were already so far behind schedule that hand sewing all this amount would be the last straw. However, eventually R stuck Sarah's stay tape on with bonding and I elected to do the same. I had started to hand sew before I realised.

 The other thing (well I'm sure there are more but that's all I can remember at present) was that when we sewed the facing to the front and pressed, we had to encourage the bottom seam to lie slightly at the back to encourage proper lying but as we reached the 'break' of the collar, we had to encourage the seam to lie the opposite way i.e. roll out, so that when the collar (?rever) was rolled over, again the collar would be discouraged from turning out. The break point was not marked so I had to guess where it would be.

I had a look at the collar and tried to stitch where R had pinned yesterday.

To go back to the beginning, the collar consists of two pieces sewn right sides together (of course I accidentally stitched them wrong sides together! Well we were very tired by this stage!). The undercollar was cut slightly smaller than the top collar but the raw edges are matched together. This encourages the collar to curve inwards. The seam allowance was again 1cm. We sewed around the outside curve and along the two side parts. R did give us the names for the parts of the collar but I've forgotten and will have to wait for the handout to find out. Obviously, the most important thing here was to pivot properly at the turn; another well-established method is to sew one stitch on the diagonal. I remember reading a tutorial where the author (sorry I can't remember who) proved that the diagonal stich counter-intuitively gave a sharper corner. I actually used the diagonal stitch method as that worked in better.

 We then had to understitch as far as we could along the outside curved edge. Pressed etc.

The method of collar insertion here was that the undercollar would be sewn t the front and the right side of the collar to the facing. Interestingly, R suggested that after pinning, we secure with 2 or 3 small stitches and test for position. This would save taking out a lot of stitching if it was wrong. I think that's a great tip. R slightly shifted my position but I realise that I have absolutely no idea what she did and the reasoning behind it. I found that the stitches she said were in the correct position were so close to the edge after she trimmed off excess fabric.

So today, I tried to sew the line of stitches joining the collar pieces to the bodice pieces. I wasn't happy with the first or second attempts. The third attempt looks reasonable, if by that it means that the collar has to sit properly in the junction of the front and facing seam line, forming a notched collar.

However, my collar is not lying properly and I don't know how to retrieve the position or what comes next with it.

I then continued to insert the two piece sleeve, started yesterday. Nothing very interesting there - usual two rows of long stitches pulled to fit between notches. Only problem was that the pattern hadn't been cut accurately and the matching notches weren't on the body of the fabric. Also, the markings for the top of the sleeve cap were missing. I had actually started in the workshop yesterday and Sarah and I were so confused that R had to start the pinning in the correct place. Well I had realised that the two seams had to match but after that, it was guesswork. Both Sarah and I had previously inserted sleeves. R suggested that if we had problems getting all the ease in, just to push the sleeve head up - well, you can't just do that on an actual jacket you are making, can you?

I've had a lot of difficulty. Because of puckering, my stitches have been in and out several times. There are still a couple of tiny puckers but I have to get on with other things.

I have taken a photo of my jacket so far on my little model. It's far from satisfactory and I have no idea what to do next. I anticipate that Sarah and I will be asking about this tomorrow at pattern cutting class rather than carrying on with our skirt designs!

It hasn't moved on from this point in the last month, although R did demonstrate what we needed to do next. Sarah hasn't done hers either. We really need to get the notes to refresh our memories. Even reading what I wrote above was like reading something I hadn't written and didn't fully understand.

Photos of setting in jacket sleeve:

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Colour - the third step in 7 Steps to Style - part 1

This is a pictureless way overdue post; it has been in draft for many weeks. 

Colour has always been important to me. I recognised early in my life that there were some colours that I shouldn't wear. Not always for the most obvious reasons. One of these was orange during the Orange Walk (orange and turquoise were the seasons colours) ;  another was green for similar reasons - at that time,  when I was young,  there was a lot of  bigotry dressed up as football support; one team was green and white and Roman Catholic, the other was blue and Protestant. I was challenged on many occasions (what team do you support? - 'None' wasn't an acceptable answer) and attacked on one. I detest bigotry.

Another was the mortification of being so tall that I was made a daffodil in the school play. Green and yellow. Not my colours. Yet in my late teens, I had a yellow unlined, thin cotton blazer that I loved. A better shade of yellow! 

I wore whites for tennis and  badminton but recognised that they didn't suit me; it didn't really matter much,  though, as this was the required kit.  Black drained me. I still disliked and avoided green. All greens. 

When I got married, as I have posted in an earlier blog post,  I wore ivory as I didn't suit white. I don't need to say more here. 

35 years ago,  I had my colours done by Colour Me Beautiful in a group activity. This was great as there was feedback from everyone in the group. My 'best colour' (a beautiful blue) was recognised by everyone. There was no doubt I was a 'summer' - in those days there was no subdivision. I was given a fabric swatch of colours; there was even a green that was good for me. The trouble is, I was stuck with what the shops actually sold. One year the 'in colour' was lime green - so not me. I didn't dressmake in those days, although there were far more fabric shops. I'm not sure how fashion affected the availability of colours in fabrics in those days, but assume I would have had a greater choice. I've lost the fabric swatch somewhere in my many moves over the years. 

Fortunately, work involved a uniform,  of sorts. In the first few years,  a white coat,  then in later years business type suits with blouses. The suits were never lime green! I favoured navy.

Towards the end of my career,  I became more casual.  I had achieved everything I wanted to and no longer needed to impress on the basis of a suit which didn't work for my normal work. There was an increasing split between the clinical side (suit far too formal to communicate appropriately with young people - what message is it giving? - trousers and top ideal; jeans would have been okay if I'd been younger but young people hate their elders trying to be trendy if it's not their usual behaviour) and the management side (suit expected). I decided to move back from the management side - I'd done my stint.

My trousers were usually black or navy. Not exciting but a good basis for tops of various colours and styles. Black really isn't my colour but it's so universal. It's okay keeping it away from my face.

Cool v Warm
So far, using colour swatches from 7 Steps to Style, I have confirmed that I lie on the cool side rather than the warm side of the spectrum. I tend to suit silver and white gold jewellery rather than yellow gold, which isn't surprising when my hair is silver grey. My reds are blue reds rather than orange reds. Blues are pretty good. Blue allows green to be worn, though I don't like it - yellow greens are awful on me. Black, yellow and orange are virtual no-nos.

Bright v muted

I suit muted, smoky or soft rather than bright colours. That is, colours with more grey in them. This is common with age. The brighter colours that I loved may not be the best suited to me as I age. My makeup colours will also be softer. I don't dye my hair but if I did I'd need to be careful about the shade.

Light v Dark
The third component is light v dark. I am light. That is I suit lighter rather than darker shades, on the whole. My favourite colours are darker, though, sosome adjustment needed here. 

Contrast value
I have medium value contrast. This is because my eyes are quite dark and my hair fair.

All these factors need to be taken into account when considering the best colour, tone and shade to wear.

Sublime v Serene 
I was sent two sets of colours to test.  Sublime v Serene.  Each of these sets had a subset of neutrals and a subset of colours. I saw both colours and neutrals in both of the sets that would suit me. I eventually managed to post photos of me holding the cards,  to help decide,  via the Facebook forum,  which of these sets of colours was more appropriate for me.

I am a serene person! 

Interestingly,  the cards had some greens and I was able to identify virtually matching shades in my wardrobe - I found a long sleeved tee shirt,  a jumper and a short sleeved T-shirt.

Signature Colours Identification overdue! 
I am way overdue to post photos to further refine my best colours. Unfortunately, I've been unwell and my skin has been looking rather green and sickly! I'm beginning to feel better now,  and the weather has picked up, so I hope I will manage to do this next step soon, once I'm back home. I'm helping my visually impaired mother with her paperwork; she is moving house to a more appropriate one level flat. 

I will take my best colours into account when making new clothes. Anything I make will have to work with multiple garments and there will have to be a clear need. One of the first things I want to make is a well fitting pair of slim trousers. I think grey is my black. Grey goes nicely with a lot of colours.
I think burgundy (or marsala?, Pantone colour of the year) is likely to be a suitable neutral along with grey and navy. I have lovely pieces of wool in burgundy, grey, navy - and black.

But that's me jumping ahead again! I reckon I need to post this post as part 1 because it's been sitting in draft form for weeks! Then I'll post part 2 when my signature colours are identified,  with the help of the Facebook group and of course Imogen. 

I feel I can't post pictures on my blog on this topic as I'm not sure about copyright etc. Am I allowed to post a Pantone colour?  I'm not sure about Imogen's swatches. Does purchase of these mean that I can? I assume not. 

Gifts for my new granddaughter

Gifts for my new granddaughter Since I last posted, I've been continuing with embroidery. I made a number of things for my then gr...