Sunday, 14 June 2015

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!


  1. congratulations! Well deserved -
    Love the color & you look radiant in this blouse.

    1. Thank you. I've actually worn it which is a bit unusual for me!

  2. Well done for coming second in the PR contest Anne. It is a really great blouse. But disappointing about the dress. The Liberty fabric does look a bit washed out (compared to the strong pink which is really flattering). Maybe it needs a strong coloured cardigan or tights with it (once you have made it fit better).

    1. Thank you. I agree the fabric is not my usual style - there's too much green in it, the print is very small and I tend to go for solids. However, it is lovely to work with and I think the vintagy look fits in with the dress pattern. If (when) I get it to work, I was thinking maroon sandals. I have some maroon stretch fabric that would make a nice cardigan. Thank you for the ideas.

  3. Congratulations on your 2nd place finish-it is well deserved!

  4. Seconding Mary here...

    And yes, you will find in sewing that you never know all the techniques - I never had any lessons, just trial and error. I cut out my first dress at age 6 - sitting with my back against an Agar stove while my mother visited the farmer next door. I cut a dress out for my doll, out of my best red wool dress. I carefully stitched it together - very proud of myself. Showed my Mummy, who, to her credit, did not tell me off and admired my creation. And I sort of carried on that way!

    1. Thanks, Sarah Liz. Now that I have a bit of an idea what I'm doing, I feel much happier to experiment and to question. Perhaps (not perhaps) if I had started when I was young, I would have reached this stage long ago!

  5. Congratulations on 2nd place!! Gorgeous.


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