Sunday, 14 June 2015

On Second Thoughts... I see the problem but not the solution. Can you offer me any advice, please?

I posted earlier today how bad my second attempt at the bodice of Butterick 5951 view A was. It looked really awful (no - I'm NOT going to post a picture of me in it) - very baggy at the front and my husband said it didn't meet at the back as it was much too small. I was puzzled by that. After all, although my first muslin/toile was very short, it wasn't too tight. So I tried it on my dummy, Bertha. She's not fully tuned to my size as I just haven't had the time. Same thing - too big at front and too small at the back.

Why? I wondered.

I then tried on the first muslin on myself and on Bertha. Short, yes, but not too tight.

Then I had that Eureka! moment. You may remember that I said I didn't get the chance to check the toile with my tutor - but relied, instead, on a co-pupil. You may also know that I have a relatively short back length in comparison to my very long front length. I say relatively as I'm tall so most patterns are too short even at the back, or certainly don't need shortened, though I generally have to lengthen the front bodice.

So I reckon that my fellow pupil overestimated the required addition to the pattern length, basing it on the large patch of visible flesh at the front! As I have very high hips and hips that are rather large in comparison to the rest of me, I guessed that the toile was pooling on the top of my hip and that it couldn't meet there as it was designed to my waist measurements at that point, at least 10 inches less than my hip measurement. Another reminder of how stupid I was to go ahead with the fashion fabric when I hadn't retested the changes I made to the pattern!

I wasn't able to see the back of the toile, where it fastens. I didn't want to ask DH to take a photo as he's very busy trying to get his course portfolio in for tomorrow but he confirmed what I was thinking when I asked - he had pinned me in, earlier.

So my next step was to pin my first bodice toile to the skirt, which was made up in fashion fabric. I(very carefully!) tried this on and found that it really wasn't too bad. I felt the side seams were more or less okay, just a fraction short and probably so with the back. The front was most definitely short.
So it seems to me that I need to UNDO the changes I had made to the original pattern pieces; these were, fortunately, traced. DH thinks I could get away with a 1 inch addition. Originally, front and back had a FOIUR INCH addition - the back in one whole chunk and the front in a 2" section below the armhole but above the dart and the other 2" insert increasing the dart by that amount.

I think I need to add most of the extra above the bust apex. I don't know how to add more at the front than the side fronts as these are very much involved in the dart. I previously lengthened the dart. I could perhaps have some additional gathering right over to the side seam so that I could keep that at the same length as the back? I've made the line diagram extra large to show the front darts which have the side front gathered into them. That part is the same in all the views; I'm doing view A.

I've reposted my altered pattern piece for the front, below. The side front is very much longer than the centre front in order to accommodate the gathering. I'm significantly longer in centre front and less so at the sides - I can usually make a wedge alteration, adding more to the front and tapering out to zero or nearly so at the sides. But can I do that here? I don't see how to. Currently, the skirt is being pulled up at the centre front.

Centre front (cut on fold) to right of picture, longer side front which will be gathered to fit, on left.
When I'm suggesting undoing my alterations, this doesn't include the armhole which is much too low.

As always, I'd appreciate any advice and constructive criticism.

PR beginner prize and related thoughts; opting out of plus size contest; college

I won second place in the PR Beginner Contest! I'm delighted. The first place was very well deserved, no complaints! The winner made a great looking Minoru jacket.  I don't feel ready to make one yet but I like the look. I had many lovely comments on my blouse, the piping in particular. Many of my previous garments were made under supervision but for this I flew more or less alone. I got help with muslin fitting and design inspiration.
I've won a $75 Mood Fabric voucher. I'm not sure how to deal with it.  Perhaps we could visit New York? I'd like to travel there someday. (I live just 15 minutes from New York - so of course I'm referring to NYC!) Now that I'm sewing,  it sounds like a paradise! I saw a UK blogger went to NYC recently and found that Liberty of London fabric was MUCH cheaper in Mood than in the UK,  which is rather bizarre! I wouldn't of course travel to NYC just to spend a $75 voucher; my youngest daughter is planning to work in New York for a year, but not until after her wedding next year.
I've read about notions that sound fantastic but don't remember what they all are. Perhaps I could get some advice on what would be a good idea to buy?
From the US to the UK,  import duty and VAT are heavy - and charged on the total of the items plus postage and packing!  Then the PO adds on another £8 for handling. So I need to be careful.  Books don't attract this duty but Mood doesn't have a very exciting collection online. So I really want to want or need what I buy not just buy for the sake of it. I'd rather give the voucher away. However, I'm jumping the gun - I don't have it yet!
Sheer seam binding
Steam a seam
What else?
As a second place winner, I'm allowed to display a badge on my blog. It isn't working just now but hopefully it'll get fixed soon.
Last week,  I went back to my non-college class after the midterm break and asked a few questions. The first was about the blouse as I had questions about the collar insertion, but really the only way to go about finding out how to do this well is to get support during the actual process. So I'll make another shirt or blouse with a collar and stand. I may not use the same pattern. Lyn could see the issues but kindly said that they were covered by facing etc. We briefly discussed how to insert a collar but I really need to see it in real life!
Lyn hadn't seen the blouse since I'd added the piping and was complimentary about my work.

My second question was about the same blouse. I hadn't seen Lyn since I popped into the class on the run to ask about the dart position. At that stage, the bust darts were very definitely too low and too short, even though I'd made numerous muslins. In my five minutes in class,  Lyn confirmed my thoughts and we agreed a dart position. As my blouse was partially constructed at this stage, I had to undo the side seams and the existing darts in order to reconstruct the dart. None of the seam edges were overlocked at this stage, so it wasn't a huge issue, just rather awkward. I went ahead and altered the darts. In my final blouse, however, I realised/felt the darts were too high and too close to the apex. I decided not to alter at that stage but wait until I spoke to Lyn. I realised that bra choice made a difference, but the bra I had used while fitting unfortunately showed through the blouse as can be seen in my photos. I hadn't realised this until then. In class, using a different bra which doesn't show through but which is less supportive,  Lyn agreed with me that the darts needed to revert more or less to their previous position. I unpicked the side seams and the overlocking over the darts, pressed out the previous dart marks and redrew  and pinned the new darts.
I had several unsuccessful attempts to sew the darts. Then I realised they were asymmetrical - presumably my measuring had been inaccurate when I tried to alter them previously. I needed to remove press marks and chalk marks so risked washing the blouse at this stage (it had been worn and there were a lot of different and confusing chalk and pressing marks from all my dart attempts) and was pleased that all the marks came out. I had been concerned about making the marks permanent.

The dart extension isn't the correct shape now and doesn't properly fit the space now but it's okay. I'm happier with the positioning now.
I planned to enter the PR plus size contest. I debated which pattern to use. The rules changed after the start of the contest meaning that I didn't have to use a specific plus pattern and could alter to fit, grading between sizes if necessary. I looked at several patterns - Vogue 8646, Simplicity 1156 and Butterick 5951 and decided to start with the Vogue.
I didn't have very much time after the other competition (and if I'd won I wouldn't have been eligible to enter another competition)  and had some family things going on. I blew hot and cold about it.
I made a muslin of V8646, having made initial pattern adjustments,  and found it needed a lot of additional alteration, particularly in the neck/collar area. I didn't even know where to start. I put it aside but will pick up again as I do need a summer dress. This one is lovely and I'm not going to be afraid of the seam binding.
I loved the shape of B5951 (version B not the view shown) and R at college tissue fitted me when she found I had it with me - she was there as an extra finishing some work and the others were doing an exercise I had completed. I made the changes to the pattern and made up a muslin. The bodice was 4" too short. Quite a few changes were needed. I put aside.
I had previously made McCall's 6028 (my PR review here) but the dress doesn't fit anymore so unfortunately it's not a TNT! Partly it was tight because it had shrunk after many washings (fabric issue) discussed more in an earlier blog post), more in length than width and I've put on a lot of weight. I asked Lyn's advice about the fit and went ahead and made alterations to the pattern. I added ⅝" to centre front and centre back. I had no concerns about the neck being a little wider. I added ⅝" to the side seams. some of which will be removed during fitting. I didn't alter the length as the original was okay.


I made up a muslin and the following week, I asked Lyn to assess its fit. Overall it was pretty good. I needed the extra width on the hip but not above my waist and the princess seams needed tweaked  near the top.  I've made up a new pattern and am just about ready to make it. However,  I don't want to rush it so decided that wasn't a suitable contest entry, after all. I'm using double crepe for the dress and single crepe for piping. I probably won't use cord. A friend put doubts into my mind by saying how difficult crepe is to sew and asking how I was planning to tackle it. Then I read that it continues to shrink. This scared me. I will make it up in the next few weeks. I've only washed the fabric once so far. Next time I will measure beforehand and if there is more shrinkage,  I will wash again,  otherwise not. I didn't think polyester shrunk but apparently it is to do with the twisted yarn which is the main feature of crepe.
So I went back to B5951. We've had a bit of a heat wave here and I'd like to have a dress I can wear. I didn't have the opportunity to ask Lyn about the fit of the muslin but went ahead and made the alterations I felt necessary. Really mainly length, though this affected the special darts at the front. There was nowhere marked for a length adjustment and I had to try to do it anyway. The armhole depth was also too low and I raised that.  I added 2" in two places to the front, so the straight portion of the dart was 2" longer.  I added 4" altogether to the back so the dart there is that much longer. I spent ages truing up the pattern.

Altered front
I decided not to make another muslin. Mistake!  I'm using a Liberty cotton and the newly designed top is awful. It doesn't fit - anywhere,  looks large and unflattering, giving me no shape. It adds 20lbs to me! It isn't wearable at all. DH said two things 1. You really need to lose weight and 2. That's not competition material. I agree with him on both counts. Do I give up or ask advice?  Well I think it has to be the latter since the fabric is Liberty! I'll ask next week at class and make a decision.

Rather more vintagy in feel than I usually use - I tend to prefer solids.
So I'm not entering this contest and probably won't enter any for months more;  these two appealed. It was unfortunate that they overlapped in their timing. For these two, I planned to make garments I needed and would actually wear. In other words, fitting in with my plan.
I realise,  too,  that I have such a lot to learn. I can't just pick up a pattern and run with it.  True, a lot of this is due to fitting issues. However, I find that the patterns don't give the kind of good finishing instructions I'm looking for and I don't yet know what techniques and materials to use.  So I reckon I'll continue with the college course next year if it's still running.
I'm the type of person who performs well with deadlines (a bit of a procrastinator!) which is why I've entered these contests - they provide encouragement. At least I was - my approach has changed since I retired and deadlines don't suit me so well now! I also take on too many things - something has to give!
Taking on too many things includes the number of different patterns. I need to stick to and perfect one or two rather than scatting around all over the place. I know this but somehow as I don't really like the final iteration of a garment - I find loads of faults - I don't feel like making it again. I'm going to try to change, though!
In my college techniques class, we have to make a simple garment and I think I'll go back to basics. And do it well. Not a dress - a skirt, I think. I previously had an unsuccessful run with Simplicity 2475
(review here) so might try that again, even though I rated the pattern as mediocre! I actually have the muslin from the previous time but it probably won't fit. I think it'll be a fairly decent starting point. It has princess seams, contoured waistband and kick pleats with underlay. I might look for an alternative as I found the pleats difficult - not helped by an incorrect marking - and feel they are a bit too formal for my casual day to day life. I'll think about it. My fabric choice would be better now, too. I have 1 more week before I need to submit my plan.
In the college pattern cutting class I need to make trousers (that fit)  and that fits in well with my goals - I plan to make capris for golf. I haven't yet got a well fitting toile though. I have knock knees but much worse on the left side where I have a painful and swollen knee. I've had to alter my toile to account for this but basically this means that I need separate patterns for each leg. I did make up a toile then realised I'd forgotten to add seam allowances so I shouldn't have been surprised when it was far too tight!
I feel less frustrated than I thought I would. Overall my main feeling is relief. I have a few golf tasks for tomorrow's big competition (and I'm involved all day from 8am to 7pm plus I'm playing), a portfolio which is very far from up to date, blog posts not posted and a very untidy sewing room aka dining room. So that'll get sorted rather than flogging a dead horse. There's no way I could've got them all done.  Plus I was due to watch a big professional event finishing today on my course but DH needs to complete his course portfolio for tomorrow - he's been tied up with garden shed roof repair in the last few days, with some help from me in lifting the very heavy roof back on - he doesn't usually leave things until the last minute, so I think I'll give it a miss. I've seen some of it already and there is some TV coverage on Sky Sports.  It's amazing to see our course on TV - it's difficult to recognise the hole they're playing as the views are not those seen by a player. Well,  the ones I know anyway!

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Computer Problems Resolved. Fingers Crossed!

Unexpectedly, my old desktop is working again,  thanks to my wonderful DH!
We thought there was a hardware fault,  or maybe more than one. I had been running into problems for ages with a very slow running internet and was completely losing connection on occasion. I thought that was Internet Explorer and changed to Chrome but then uninstalled as I had too much associated junk installed with it.
I have regular backups set to backup to an external drive so any computer crash is not usually associated with too devastating a loss of data. That wasn’t always the case - a few years ago I lost all my stored photographs in an error (combination of a cat, a daughter and a malicious website) that resulted in a presumed virus and having to wipe my computer laptop with no data being salvaged. I also have cloud storage but tend not to use it other than being able to access Google Drive from all my devices. 
We decided to really clean up the computer, possibly return it to factory settings. We couldn't set a recovery point, as there was a Windows error (message on screen), so we did everything else we felt was possible. We couldn't set the recovery point because we couldn't link to a Windows service - that turned out not to be my computer, though, but due to a windows update which hadn’t installed properly. We discovered that when my brand new laptop showed the same error message!  A search online showed that many other people had the same problem and provided the solution, which was easy to apply. 
We didn’t set back to factory settings as I was  also concerned about the possible loss of some of my programmes. I appear to have mislaid some programme disks.  I was certainly prepared to if the other measures hadn’t worked but fortunately they did.
Then we found I could connect to the Internet via an Ethernet connection. My computer thought it was a toaster, though, and had to be taught everything again. I had to put in the password for our broadband again (no fun when there are 50 characters!).  It didn't pick up my installed wireless printer. It wouldn't work on wireless so we thought it might be a problem with the wireless hardware.
More cleaning,  checking etc.
Then, my computer worked on wireless when we retried. It then picked up the printer. It was a computer again!
We did a proper deep back up and could now set a recovery point.
I'm still busy sorting it.
Proper housekeeping.
Getting rid of programmes I no longer use.
Getting rid of cache and clearing browsing history
Disk checking - it was fine
Checking the registry (there were lots of problems there, but all quickly resolved)
Virus checking - one malsign exterminated
Defragmenting - had been performed regularly
Tune up programme
I have plenty of disk space so that wasn’t an issue.

I'm hopeful it might be fine for a while. We still don’t know what the problem was, though. Still, I thought my computer was dying of old age and so I’m glad still to have it.

I also mentioned previously, I think, that I bought a new laptop to replace my previous one given to one of my daughters when hers broke. I bought two copies of Microsoft Office (one for my laptop and one for DH) and it installed but wouldn't register or activate - the code I supplied was not considered valid. I thought I had been a victim of software piracy (that was the message DH got) and had been fleeced out of the purchase price (not inconsiderable). However, the company I bought it from responded appropriately, checked to see that I had properly followed instructions and decided my code had been faulty. Today they supplied a new code which worked fine and I now have a properly activated copy of Office. DH's also activated okay. 

Getting my desktop running properly and setting up my laptop has taken quite a while and is ongoing. I’m hopeful, though, that I’ll end up with a well running system and that my blog posts will improve.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

College Evening Class Update

I've realised I haven't updated about my College classes after being so uncertain about continuing them previously.

Major changes to the dressmaking techniques class, which I've mentioned before (no longer called that but that title will be best here), but meaning a bigger class, twice the number still with only one tutor, in inadequate space, mixed ability with lots of absolute beginners rather than the class was were expecting and now a certificate course rather than pure adult learning, and a huge level of disorganisation meant that many dropped out and I seriously considered doing the same. In fact I had asked for a refund of the class after the tutor had said it wouldn't meet my needs but DH suggested I should give it a chance. I think I actually said in a previous post that I had attended my last one. One of the other students, Elizabeth, decided to continue and we agreed to work together. Plus we were given permission to work in a separate room - more space but no tutor available as she would be working with beginners in the original room. We could call on her if necessary. The room was very useful from the very first night when there were 4 of us oldies (the other two have since dropped out) and we critiqued the fit of Elizabeth's dress, giving her advice on what we felt she could do to improve the fit. She checked this in a quick 2 minute discussion with the tutor, who agreed with our suggestions. E has since made those changes and her dress was looking good and fitting well.
So, I'm going along with the syllabus. Having to be seen to be able to complete basic tasks. I don't mind the recap of seam types etc. Elizabeth and I have managed to combine picking up and completing the exercises with some of our own work. One very useful exercise was me taking Elizabeth through the steps to insert an invisible zip on the evening we were expecting this to be the exercise but the actual exercise turned out to be very basic and very quick to do. We used written and photographic instructions to help and used my invisible zipper foot. Elizabeth had inserted a pretty competent invisible zip in the dress mentioned earlier but had taken several tries to get it to look okay. She had managed to come up with a way of inserting but the way we followed was easier (though with calico being the same on both sides,  we thought that we had got the work twisted). She hadn't known that it's usual to sew this type of zip before the seam is closed and hadn't known there was a special foot. Her result was excellent.  She has since gone and bought a similar book to the one I had taken with me and an invisible zipper foot, though she hasn't used it in earnest yet.

I do have to produce a portfolio, which I haven’t properly started yet. All of our little samples will be included. I think the mini garment will be a skirt, which we did in our first term in September but it’ll be a useful recap - and I can’t find my original sample. I still have the mini jeans and that might be suitable to put in as well/instead.
I'm also still attending my pattern cutting class. This has also become a certificate course but the new bosses have fortunately not managed to destroy the class and several of us have continued plus a couple of new people. We are currently drafting pants patterns, fitting those pants, designing from this and we have to end up with a fitting pair of pants in the muslin stage - we're not required to make up in fashion fabric, though it was pointed out that fashion fabric needs to be firmly in mind when the pattern is being designed. I seem to be a very long way away from this stage at the moment, yet we’re halfway through the term.

The work is new to us and we have quite a lot of homework to do outside the class. I need to start my portfolio, which will be more complicated than the other. I’ve put together some jottings and I’ll type them into Word. I’ve taken some photos which can also be put in.
I’ll post something more specific nearer the end of term.



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...