Saturday, 26 September 2015

Wedding and Textile class

In the coming months, my main sewing focus will be on making Helen's wedding dress,  which I can't post about. I'll keep notes and perhaps post some after the event. I need to do that for my own benefit and will also need to submit detailed notes for my college course, as the dress design and construction will be my course project.

Also wedding related,  I'll be making the two bridesmaids' dresses, for Helen's two older sisters. I think I'll be able to post some general things about them. There are a lot of new things I have to learn. These things include design elements which hopefully I'll be able to learn about in my pattern cutting class, and construction elements.

Our course this year has changed. Whereas previously I did separate pattern cutting and garment construction technique classes, these are rolled into one this year. I think this is helpful as the two components will be more integrated than they were last year. Then,  if I designed and drew up a pattern, it probably went no further - I only went on to make up the golf crops to complete toile stage. So this meant that I didn't consider every component of a design. This year, it seems that construction of the garment will be an integral part so presumably all elements will have to be considered. That's great. It's also essential for what I'm doing.

I will try to include time to make my own MOB outfit. I'm not rigid about not buying RTW, though I do find it difficult to buy it. I haven't decided what I'd  like. For my oldest daughter's August wedding,  I wore a sleeveless dress and bolero and felt comfortable. Helen will be getting married when it is cooler and I need to work out how best to take that into account.

My friend V has just returned from a business trip to India and has brought me quite a few metres of raw silk and of saree silk. She took a sample of David's kilt fabric to match a couple of the colours in it. I want to make myself a raw silk long skirt to wear when he is wearing his kilt; this is not wedding related, sky-high it could be. I haven't seen the silk yet;  hopefully I will pick it up tomorrow. I have never sewn with silk. Another learning curve.

V offered to get the silk for me; originally I thought this would be for wedding and/or bridesmaid dresses but we're not yet at the stage of choosing fabric. We are further forward with the designs. We've pretty much decided on the wedding dress design and I need to practice some elements. There were a few tweaks to the bridesmaid dress design, but I'm happy that I see the way forward. Helen and I quite fancied sand washed silk for these two dresses but my tutor advised that was difficult to sew with so I'm considering alternatives. Suggestions?

I've made a close fitting toile for Helen. I haven't yet fitted it to the little dressmaking model,  Missy. It will then get padded to Helen's size and will allow me to work on a closer proximity to her shape even when she's not here.

I've been to two of the textile classes so far. These have largely been a revision of earlier dart manipulation work. We've looked at bodice, sleeve and skirt. Another change is that we're going to be working on standard dressmaking models (UK size 12) rather than trying to make garments to fit ourselves; fitting took a lot of time and I'm still not happy with my trouser block. This means that we can concentrate on design and construction.

Last year, I found I had to do a lot of work in a very short time at the end of the course; this year I've started thinking about the final portfolio right from the start,  hoping that will make it easier. I'm writing up our classes but these don't make exciting reading so I won't specifically post about them, though I may mention something I discover that I didn't know about before. This week, that's about sleeves - it may be obvious to you but I hadn't realised - the lower the sleeve cap, the wider the sleeve and the closer to the horizontal it is.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Style 1961 for daughter, using mother's fabric.

When I went to London last month,  I took a toile of Style 1961 for Helen to try on. It was a little snug around the upper thigh area and I modified that on my pattern (I traced it!). A sign of her getting older is that she wanted the finished length to be as it was, unhemmed - so I added a further 4 cms to the length. It's also an indication of how long ago I promised her this skirt, though, too! I don't have a photo of the pattern envelope - I gave it to Helen to take away should she wish to make another for herself, not that she's started sewing. It's an old pattern from the 80s I think, of pencil skirts with vents in two lenghts, with and without separate waistbands. I have another very similar from the same era. I went to a 'night class' hoping I'd learn how to sew but it didn't work out that way.

Finished skirt

The fabric for the skirt is wool, tweed, checked. My mother cut out a long straight skirt from the fabric but didn't continue. As you may know, my mother is registered blind and has been for the last 9 years - so this must have been cut out around 10 years ago, I think. Unfortunately, she hadn't thought about pattern matching and I had only the pieces she had cut out. (psst - don't tell Helen, but she didn't use a nap layout and should have done so!). I didn't have any selvedges but the checks were longer lengthwise than widthwise. The pattern pieces were still pinned to the fabric. I washed the wool to pre-treat and shrink. I'm not sure if that's the best way to pre-treat wool but thought that perhaps Helen was more likely to wash than dry clean so that's the route I took.

Anyway, I went ahead and cut out my modified pattern,  The front fitted onto the fabric relatively easily and I was able to get a suitable stripe in the centre. The skirt I was making was much shorter, so I had some length to play with. I cut the front out on a single layer, which made it much easier to match the pattern.

The back was a different story, though. There was exactly the right width available for the body of the skirt but no spare fabric for the vent extensions. I was not able to accurately match the lines in the back, the vertical lines, but did my best with the horizontal lines.

I forgot to get a close up of the vent and of the lapped zipper

I decided to use the lapped zip recommended by the pattern. While making the toile, I had some problems with this but managed an acceptable zip at the end of the process. I started using the pattern's method again. Unfortunately, I kept getting into trouble - that zip was in and out several times. I considered doing an invisible zip but decided against that. Before I inserted the zip, I finished the edges and interfaced the zipper seam allowance.

In the end, I used the method from Reader's Digest and this went ahead without a hitch. I will be using this method from now on for a lapped zip. The two important factors are 1) the seam is tacked closed and 2) the zip stays closed at all times.  This should have meant that my stripes stayed where they were supposed to but unfortunately that wasn't the case. I did use a dual feed foot where I could to help, but couldn't with the zipper insertion. I also have double ended pins which are helpful in matching stripes.

I had problems with the waistband. Although there was a waistband with the fabric pieces, this wasn't suitable and I didn't have a piece of fabric large enough - eventually, I pieced 3 pieces of fabric together and used preformed waistband interfacing.

I had intended to line the skirt but with all the problems and wanting to get on to the next thing in my long list, I decided not to. H can make herself an old fashioned under slip to wear with the skirt if she wants. I will also give her the modified pattern and she can have a go at one that starts with the right amount of fabric in the right places!!

Because I wasn't lining the skirt, I went ahead and joined the waistband to the skirt and stitched-in-the-ditch from the front to hold it in place.

I then decide to use a hook and eye closure instead of buttonhole and button.

I asked PR readers advice about my extension-less vents. I got some helpful replies. However, I had said in my post that I would be lining so some of the posts highlighted that area. In the end, I decided to go with my original thought of sewing an extra piece of fabric on each side where the extensions should be. This was tricky with pattern matching and also because the fabric is a little too thick for this treatment. However, needs must!

I decided to keep the fold at the right side of the vent as I thought that would look better than seeing the seam. I slip-stitched down the length of the fold to keep it in pace. The left side was folded back so I made sure the seam was a few mm in from the edge.

I then hemmed the skirt. I chose to overlock the edge,  turn up by 4 cm and handstitch the hem in place so that it's not visible from the outside.

This should have been an easier task than I made it appear! The lack of fabric width was certainly a hindrance. I had to cut out my pieces the way I did - even if the back is upside down compared to the front! I wanted to practice lapped zipper, waistband and vents. I also wanted to use up the fabric my mother had given me. So, all in all, success.

The end result is acceptable, I believe. Certainly not couture (and I hope she doesn't think this is a good example of any of the techniques!) but should do Helen a turn or two. With tights and boots it should be cosy for the winter, which is, alas, too close!

I wrote the above when Helen was due to be visiting  two weeks later and decided to keep the post until she cam and I could try the skirt and modify if necessary and of course take photos.

Helen and her fiancé were here from the early hours of Friday morning until after lunch today.

On Friday, Helen to tried on the skirt. We found that the extra added to the toile when I was visiting London was probably mainly unnecessary. I had to take in a part of the side seam on each side - H's hips are longer and smoother rather than having a definitive bulge. Anyway, she liked the skirt and plans to wear it to work tomorrow. She read the part of the blog I had already written and approved it and said she'd send a winter photo of her wearing boots and tights.

On Friday afternoon, I was able to visit my pattern cutting tutor with Helen to get advice on the fit of her dress toile and how to modify that and my little dressmaking model (Missy). I'm pleased to say that was pretty successful - we finalised our wedding dress ideas, taking my tutor's input very much into account - no further details on my blog, though!

A was able to try on his second waistcoat toile. Interestingly, I had modified the first toile by pinning at the time and then making the changes to the pattern and the existing toile, but also produced a second 'cleaner' toile. These were very different in fit, with the second being much superior. I hadn't copied the changes over directly as DH pointed out that A, a sportsman, was fairly strong and more developed around the shoulders, so I took a tuck in the gaping front rather than raise the shoulders. The length was much better, though I will have to modify the position of the tabs on the back. A thinks it is still a little too loose (I took in a lot) - while I don't agree, I think that is a personal choice and I will make some further modifications. I noticed, too , that the right side seam was not completely vertical so I will work on that, too.

On Saturday, yesterday, we were holding the 3rd annual family golf match around Invitation Weekend at our club. I play with my daughter's fiancé, A,  while DH plays with our SIL. This year, DH decided to up the ante by having a trophy made!  Unfortunately, A had his golf clubs and bag, containing golf shoes and other accessories , stolen on Friday, discovered when he went to get them from their supposedly secure storage. He and H nearly missed their late night train as locks had to get changed, insurance company contacted etc. A managed to buy new shoes etc on Saturday morning and DH loaned him some golf clubs, by splitting his set with him.

Yesterday was a beautiful late summer/early autumn day with temperatures as high as 19 deg C - warm for us but maybe not for our southern living family! I golfed in crops and golf shirt until close on 6pm when I had to put on my jumper. A managed the round without developing any blisters - a positive with brand new shoes. A and I managed to win the match, though our scores were poor in comparison to the other scores entered. My SIL and A are both very competitive and are already planning more practice before next year's round now that a trophy is involved!

Today my oldest daughter Alison tried on her dress toile and I made a few minor modifications. I'm pleased to say that the bust area fitted pretty well. However, I think she'd suit a princess seamed bodice better and I plan to modify the toile further. She takes a 32FF bra and as a result, the side bust dart is rather large, which might not look so good in some of the bridal fabrics.

Helen and Alison added a couple of tweaks to the drawings for the bridesmaids' dresses, approved by A, and I'm pleased that I now have a clear way forward. DH took some photos of Helen in the skirt and some photos against a measuring stick for reference later.

I've just started back at my sewing classes and I'm excited about the next stages of these projects.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Made Up Pledge completed; blouse update; dart question

I've decided to be less hard on myself. I actually do quite a lot - it's just not sewing!

In the last 2 weeks, I've attended 2 funerals, 1 95th birthday celebration, 3 bridge sessions, 1 committee meeting as secretary so minutes etc, played in 4 golf matches, including one of our county biggies, in my secretary capacity, organised the info envelopes for our AGM, meaning that I had to print them etc, done just a little housework and gardening, shopping etc. I think there were a few other things, like contact with family, sleeping and eating - oh and sewing!  I managed to update my blocks and in the last week complete my PR blouse entry. I also made a pencil skirt with vent for my daughter - I'll post about that at a later date.  I'm way behind with reading the blogs I follow and don't mention the housework or garden! Just as well DH is, on the whole, understanding and supportive.

I was golfing during the day yesterday, our last Vets' competition of the season. We had a lovely warm sunny day.  We were playing Greensomes which is a relatively quick format and the field was fairly small as there were a couple of other clashing events taking people away from it. This meant the competition and prize giving (no I didn't get a prize but did win a bottle of wine in the raffle) were over by 3pm and I was able to get home a lot earlier than I had thought. As secretary, I'm usually there from beginning to end doing committee duties, as well as playing.

Just as well I got home early!

I found an email saying I had a private message on PR. In fact there were 4! All saying my competition entry for round one of the sewing bee on PR had been incorrectly entered, so it would be disqualified if not fixed; my photo was not showing up in the gallery and therefore could not be judged. In the end, I made a new entry, entered it correctly and deleted the old entry as had been suggested. Unfortunately this meant I lost some lovely comments and the number of views I had already had.  Then I found I had two pictures in the gallery - I'd been told it wasn't there and I think the relinking put it up. This photo linked to a now non-existent review.

I was able to contact a contest committee member who deleted the duplicate and I thought all was well. Later there was some criticism from the contest contact who felt that no-one should do anything unless contacted by her as she could sort, but that was too late for me. By this time I had lost the original which could presumably have been relabelled or somesuch. However, that contact had left a message on my original entry, commending it, but didn't mention any problem - and how can I ignore four private messages? Anyway, now that the contest entry period is over, it seems that there are a few people with problematic entries.

It was just as well I needed to put in my entry 24 hours before the end of the contest. I expected to be out all day at the golf comp and I had a new sewing bee in the evening, coming too late to offer any constructive help for the contest, unfortunately. I wasn't expecting any problem with the entry itself.

Oh, by the way, I asked for votes to see if that could get me through to the second round but there is no public voting - the contest committee decides on this occasion. There is a first prize and a random prize. I genuinely feel that I've got no chance of making it through to the next round when I see the other fabulous entries - but I'm hoping for the random prize!!

Last night, I went to the new sewing bee which will run on a Monday night. This is a new class run by one of my previous tutors at college. I mentioned previously the mess made of the courses last year and D has decided she isn't working there any more. Her hours had been cut so dramatically and the work load increased so much that it was no longer a viable option. She is instead running a few extra sewing bees in her studio which is much closer to home than the college. She already had one on a Tuesday evening which I can't attend as I have a bridge commitment and she also has one on a Wednesday afternoon which starts too early for me as I have a golfing commitment which runs into the afternoon. Unfortunately, golf games take a long time!

Last night, I took along the fitted blouse to get advice on how to improve its fit. R, my pattern cutting tutor, was there too, undertaking another project. Both D and R thought it was fine. However, they suggested increasing the dart suppression at the back waist and reducing the downward length of the dart and taking in some extra at the side waist.
They could both see that the blouse was tight across my derrière, which is obvious in the photo of the back. Extra space was gained from shortening the rear darts - that's further shortening as in the original pattern they were right down to the hem. My shape of rear with a large difference between waist and hip and a (faux) sway back would actually have benefited from a more extensive modification but I was looking to improve the blouse as was to make it more wearable.

I pinned and tacked the new darts and immediately saw an improvement.
I asked R if I needed to add more hip width but she said no, pointing out that I had excess at the sides and could actually afford to take in a little. My shape requires the extra at the rear. I had a kind of Eureka moment!

Today I was busy in the morning and at a clinic appointment in the afternoon. Tonight I was at bridge. In the period in between, I sewed the darts and increased waist shaping. There is a big improvement but I can't show you as I washed the blouse afterwards as it had got a bit grubby. It's still wet. I don't plan to tumble dry.

I read a post on CSC suggesting that humongous bust darts could be split in two, making the dart size more manageable and attractive. My back darts are very big - the amount of suppression in the centre of each is over 5 cms. I remember previously that a tutor had suggested I needed to clip such a dart in the centre, and I can see that would help it lie nicely - but could I do a double dart in the place of each single dart?

The other thing I did before I went to bridge tonight was to email Karen at didyoumakethat to say that my Made Up pledge was completed. The initiative has been very successful. I've finished my bodice, skirt and trouser block and transferred to card. Honestly, though, I think the trouser block will need more tweaking. Hopefully I can do some of that at the next sewing bee - there is one next Monday, before my class at college starts again. It's quite difficult doing this on your own.

When I was in London, I went to William Gee to buy some supplies but the shop closes on Saturdays. I therefore ordered my card on-line and it got delivered very quickly; there is no way I could have carried it in any case - I had intended to get it delivered. I also bought a few other supplies. I had earlier completely run out of my tracing paper, so bought a further roll of that. I already had the other pattern making supplies I needed including awl and punch.

I'm not going to post a picture of my blocks, though I'm sure they will be in evidence during the next year as I work through the next section of my pattern cutting course.
I had suggested I might also make the Victoria blazer from By Hand London but after reading some reviews of it, I decided that it wasn't perhaps the jacket for me. I'm still looking for a suitable pattern.

It's getting late and I really only switched on the computer to find an image of an eryngium to send to my daughter...

Sunday, 6 September 2015

PR Sewing Bee Round 1

It's finished!! There was even time to spare!

Blouse - taken outside today at 6pm  and I wasn't cold.

Back view

Side view

You'll remember that I said I wasn't going to sew in order to blog - that I would be blogging about what I'm sewing? Also that I won't sew something purely to join in a contest or whatever. Unless I need the item and it fits in with my other plans.

I decided to join this contest because the first item was a fitted blouse. I'm in the process of trying to modify my blocks (slopers) ready for my course (intermediate pattern cutting) starting on September 17th. The blocks are my pledge for the Made Up Challenge, and they will be finished and it seemed that it would work nicely to use the bodice block in the process of fitting a blouse.

At least, that was the theory. In practice a week wasn't enough time for me to design a fitted blouse with collar and sleeves from that block, make up and present. The contest was announced on 1st September and closes on 7th September. So in that time, it's necessary to choose pattern,  get materials, make any pattern alterations and make up the blouse,  then take photos and post a review.

The requirements for the contest were that the blouse is fitted with darts or equivalent; that it had to have a set in sleeve,  that it had to have closures and could not be made from knit fabric. Collar optional.

Last year,  I entered the PR Fitted Blouse contest. I was pretty pleased with my effort. I've put on a bit of weight since then and I was fearful that I'd have to alter the princess seams. I could have made in a larger cup size,  of course. That pattern came in cup sizes but I had to make other adjustments to length and to bust apex position. I decided against this pattern as I didn't need another blouse like this one.
I like the look of it here, but I haven't really worn it 

The darts were further altered after this photo to look better and fit better

Well, what more do you want?

Also,  my basic block has a waist dart and a bust dart. So I decided that the blouse I made more recently for the PR beginner contest would be a more suitable starting point as it also has a bust dart and a waist dart. That was New Look 6407.

There were a few issues with the blouse I made. I altered the bust darts after I made it up and they weren't even,  though neither am I! I wasn't happy with the dart position. The sleeves were too short. The top button was too high, I realised when I reassessed the fit, so that the top of the band didn't lie perfectly.

I knew that if I repeated that blouse and used piping again,  this could possibly do reasonably in the contest,  maybe getting me through to the second round. However,  I have no need of a second blouse like that one.

Same blouse, different version

When I made that blouse,  I resolved to improve my collars. I felt there could be a big improvement in the stand insertion. I was going to be doing that in my non- certificate sewing class but the course requirements for my two certificate sewing classes meant that all my time was spent completing my portfolios.

So in the end I decided to do a different view of this blouse. Short sleeves,  collar stand but no collar. Though it was the stand that gave me the problems.

I had some blue lightweight cotton chambray and felt that there would be sufficient for the short sleeve version. I had blue thread, even blue overlocking thread and interfacing. The only thing I didn't have was specific buttons but I do have a stash so should be able to find something suitable. No piping, trims, embroidery etc.

First step - I used my pink piped blouse as a muslin to assess fit.

Second step - alter pattern. I had already previously done a full bust adjustment and lengthened pattern and raised front neckline. Now I needed to alter dart position, length and angle. I used my block to check key areas, but not to cut the pattern.  I had modified the sleeves in my previous blouse for a full biceps and so did the same with the pattern for the short sleeves.

Third step - cut out fabric, which had been pre-washed, and interfacing.

Next - I made up the front and back and joined at the shoulders then tried on to assess for fit. Following this,  I further altered the bust darts, one rear dart and one side seam.

I tried to research collar stand insertion but didn't come up with anything suitable. I decided I didn't have time to go any further with this research and I needed to try to follow the pattern's instructions. I very carefully transferred all markings,  making sure of accuracy and symmetry.

Nevertheless,  I found this extremely difficult,  largely because the facing was longer than the point to which I had to stitch it. I had it in and out a few times. The pattern didn't specify which piece was the collar stand and which piece was the facing and I think I chose wrongly! It looks reasonably play in the end - better than last time and I have a better idea of how to go about it the next time. This time,  I finished by hand sewing rather than using a row of machine stitching.

I didn't have any problems setting in the sleeves except I did have some fullness because of my changes so that had to be dealt with. The sleeves I chose apparently wouldn't have had to be eased in if I hadn't made the changes I did.

Then understitching to bands,  topstitching and edgestitching.
Hem. In the end I decided to overlock raw edge and turn up once.
Buttonholes. I altered spacing for 5. I knew to start lower down on band than I had last time.
Buttons. Luckily I found some suitable buttons in my stash. Sewed on using new button foot. That made it much faster.
I had to rush to get some photos before it got dark and write up review. I'm busy all day tomorrow, the last day of the contest, so I had to jump to it.

Some issues that have come up:
I thought the fabric I used previously was too thick but this fabric was floppy and lacked body. This definitely needs a crisper fabric. I'm also not particularly fond of the shade of blue on me - I think I like more intense colours better.
I found out that my overlock thread melts and creates little black balls. It's presumably polyester without any cotton coating. It's supposed to be a good brand, though. I had used my iron at cotton setting to press seam, so had to drop the temperature
I had a few problems with getting the tensions correct for my edge finishes. I did overlock all edges, using same colour thread.
Part way through making one  of the buttonholes something happened and things seized up. I eventually got it to work again after resetting. I'm still not sure what the problem was. I had to take out quite a bit of stitching, which is not easy when it's a buttonhole.

I've seen some of the fitted blouses entered into the contest and mine is so simple in comparison. I simply wouldn't have had time to do anything more adventurous. I might have considered doing French seams which I've never tried,  and the inside would have looked nicer but I didn't feel that this was the right time to try - I need to try when I have time. I doubt I'll get through to the next round - unless you vote for me when the voting opens!
View of back - inside, as required by contest

View of side - inside - optional view

View of front, inside - as required by contest

So,  in conclusion,  this is a simple short sleeved fitted cotton blouse that will get worn with trousers or jeans. Now that autumn is here,  most likely with a cardigan, although today belied that. The hips are a bit tight as I forgot to reread my own review and add a bit there! The pattern actually comes out with much less ease than you'd expect. However, I'd further increase waist shaping in the next version.

Patternmaking Made Easy by Connie Amaden Crawford; balancing patterns

I bought a new old book. That's no surprise to those of you who know of my book addiction, of course. What might surprise you is h...