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.


  1. There is a lot to be said for cut and sew - I often plan quite a few garments like that, to give a break from the more intense fitting jobs. Often these will be with fabrics that I do not understand, and I lower my expectations accordingly.

    I think three garments is achievable, with steady work. Depending on complexities and issues.

    1. Thanks, Sarah Liz. I'm not going to choose complex items, I just want to make and finish really well. Currently I don't have a huge (read - any!) need for new garments; everything is about the sewing and learning new skills, so I don't mind being slow. Next year I'll be involved in wedding sewing and need to up my game.

  2. I see a couple of my pictures have gone walkies! I'll try to fix that. I have recurrent computer problems but realise I still don't fully understand how Blogger takes photos and from where. Because of issues, I renamed a folder - and I think these two photos were in that folder. I need to do some more reading. I've just bought a new laptop to replace the previous one I gave to my middle daughter when hers died - my tablet doesn't do everything I want it to. It is very handy, though.

  3. You are learning so much! I think trousers, blouse, and dress are achievable especially if you take your time and work on them in reasonable chunks. This should allow for fitting issues or new techniques therefore it won't be so overwhelming.


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