Sunday, 31 July 2016

Hacking RTW for Joanne; culottes

Hacking - clothes not computers. I did get a reply in connection with my previous problem (previous post) and have been advised not to worry, ignore it. It'll go away after a while. Okay. At least,  I'll try.

Joanne loves a particular pair of shorts she has. They look like French knickers but are intended as outerwear. 

I forgot to take a photo of her wearing them!

The fabric is drapey and crepe-like and self-lined. I don't know what it is (the fabric content label is blank I assume due to repeated washings) . It is edged along the bottom of the legs with fairly heavy wide lace, caught between the bottom fabric layers, has a waistband, an in-seam pocket on each side and a side zip closure inside one of the pockets. There are no darts. These shorts are fairly easy fitting. She wears them a LOT. She has tried to buy a replacement pair with no success.

I have repaired them previously. I found it difficult to nicely repair the zip/pocket junction. 

Invisible zipper in inseam pocket
Tearing at bottom. Again. 

This has again come apart. I didn't previously replace the zip,  although it needed replaced,  as I didn't feel up to that task (also I would only have had them for the briefest of time) The crotch seam is also showing signs of the fabric separating and the zip doesn't pull up properly at the top due to distortion and fabric separation.  They are very much at the end of their life now and Joanne asked me if I could make her a similar pair.  

Zip opened. Zip and fabric distortion  clear

We decided to try to make a copy of these. There are different terms in use for this process. Reverse engineering. Hacking. Tracing. Copying.
The zip and pocket area will present me with the biggest challenge in both tracing and in making up.
I know that as these shorts have been well worn, it's likely that the seams will not be as they were.

When I made the hack pattern of my RTW potential MOB dress, I failed to properly true the pattern. I started to make up the dress and it isn't right. I need to go back to the pattern and measure and true up in general. Also,  with it I actually measured the dart pleated areas and reproduced. While these looked good on the patterned fabric of the original, they didn't on the plain fabric of my copy - they just looked as if I had got my measurements wrong as the distance between the middle dart and the dart on each side of the middle were different. That will need to be modified too. I had actually cut out the whole dress and its lining and don't know if I can salvage it. At least the lining is fine,  apart from some inequality in length but I need additional fabric at the bodice sides in the main dress. I'll modify the pattern and recut sometime... 

So with Joanne's shorts I can put some if what I have learned so far into practice, I hope. Joanne was here for the weekend and we traced out the shape of the shorts using pins/awl onto paper.
We had a bit of difficulty with the crotch seam which didn't lie equally on both sides so we lengthened on the basis that it's easier to shorten later than to add in.
We then measured the shorts and the length on the paper to check they were the same.
There were some seam distortions and we smoothed these out.
We added a 1. 5 seam allowance to all seams.

I cut out the pattern in calico to test for fit. No waistband,  zip or pockets.
Joanne wanted the shorts (I might call them culottes) to sit below the natural waist, as did the originals. Indeed she wanted an identical clone.
Joanne tried on the toile and was overall very happy with the fit. This was with the lengthened back crotch. 

Tried on inside out. Back higher than front. 

I later clipped the crotch seam - not done here- and that helped the way they lie. 

I thought the back was a little tight but J didn't want it changed
They were a bit too high at the back (?because I had modified the crotch seam) but okay at the front
We made the necessary adjustments to the paper pattern. I trimmed off at the top of the back seam tapering out to the side seams. I made sure all the seams were trued.
I thought the shorts were a little tight at the back but Joanne didn't want them any looser. I removed a touch at the waistline at the front crotch seam where they were a little loose.

Then I asked Joanne to draw out the pocket shape she wanted and I drew out a waistband. I've drawn patterns for both. I discussed with Joanne the various waistbands possible but we concluded I'd try to do it as close to the original as possible - invisible zip going right up through waistband. This was the zip treatment in her bridesmaid dress but future alteration are more difficult.

I have lots of books but one of the disadvantages of books is that when you can't remember what book has what you want, it's very difficult to find it. I wanted a method for sewing an invisible zip inside a pocket. I know I had one but could I find it! I used the internet and quickly found a good tutorial from the dot to dot studio link (sorry I tried to leave a message unsuccessfully). I've read it through a couple of times and looked at all the photos. I think I'm ready to give it a go.

So now I needed to find some suitable fabric. I have some black single crepe but is too thick as the fabric is doubled. I wondered if it needed to be doubled? The fabric isn't underlined as such as the pockets sit between the front fabric layers - but they are joined at the bottom as lace is inserted between the fabric layers. I thought I might use a lighter weight fabric such as cotton batiste which would be cooler. Joanne knows I might have to make some changes for this first version - she plans many more!

I asked advice at my sewing class.  Dan thinks the closest fabric type is georgette. We decided the single crepe wouldn't work doubled and was a little too transparent to be single. She advised me on likely construction order and picked up that I had drafted my waistband incorrectly so I redid that.

When I got home I ordered some double georgette fabric and some guipure lace trim from Minerva. That has arrived and I've pre-washed the fabric and lace trim. The fabric looks pretty good but seems slightly crisper than the original - but that's been washed over and over again.

The lace against a double layer of fabric
I can't start the shorts just yet as I'm away for a few days on golf duty (not playing) but hope to get them done, when I get back, for Joanne's birthday which is in August.

She'd initially asked me to make her a kimono like I made for Helen (she decided that as I was making the shorts no to the kimono but I'll do later)
Longer than original pattern

Joanne likes this fabric. She'd also like a big,  bold but not necessarily colourful fabric
 I'm happy to do this;  it's a simple make.  More difficult will be finding suitable fabric. The  local choices are far from inspiring so I’ll have to look further afield. A bold pattern. Cotton? Joanne and I had a look online but didn't see anything suitable so I'm putting this off until after my next trip to London. Possibly the Knitting and Stitching Show in September (that's where Helen got her kimono fabric) - I'm not sure yet as I prefer the Harrogate show in November. Joanne would come with me.

My older grandson’s birthday is the day before Joanne's and I hope to make him a shirt (which I’d enter into the PR contest ) but I need to get some sizes first. 

I'm doing view C shown here. 

I do have the fabric which I bought last year but didn't get around to making up. I bought a pattern, burda 9419, last week, see above. I've made a shirt before - for my college course - and Rory says that one was absolutely fine and so I'll have no problem doing a shirt for J. Hopefully. Note that one didn't have nice seam finishes, just overlocked edges.  I've never done a proper shirt with good finish.

He's visiting next weekend and I will have a toile done. Nothing fancy,  just reached together to check for chest size, neck and length. I'm making age 9.  He'll be 7 but is very tall. My husband thinks the size looks good but the size 8 may be better. I don't have recent measurements and he and his brother have shot up each time we see them.

Toile started. 
The making up instructions don't talk about the types of seam finishing required. I'm thinking that shirts usually have fell seams? This is a burda pattern and looking through the instructions, I'm a bit confused though hopefully as I start to construct each stage it will be clearer.

I found out what the syllabus is for our level 3 class in September. Exciting!  I'm looking forward to it. This won't be through the college as the college isn't running a level 3 course;  Rory will be running this from her studio, with Dan's help. It won't be a certificated course with lots of irrelevant (to us) content,  just the practical techniques, as all of us on the course last year would have preferred.

Thank you for stopping by.
I'd love it if you'd leave a comment.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Something very funny is going on!

Dear readers,  I do hope you can explain what might be happening!

I haven't put up a new post for a while (not enough to say and nothing to show) yet I have a massive increase in page views per day according to blogger stats. Each day over the previous 4 days breaks the previous record. Yet,
I don't see that massive increase reflected in increased views of my most recent posts (I haven't checked all posts).
I have not had an increase in comments.
I have not had an increase in followers to any great extent.
I'm puzzled,  to say the least.

Any ideas?
I'd really appreciate your comments.


Saturday, 9 July 2016

The UFOs are winning! But the match isn't over yet.

If you've read my blog,  you'll know that I made the dresses for my daughter's wedding. I ran out of time and bought my MOB outfit.
Photo from
She's much slimmer and younger than me; I wore a hatinator rather than the hat. A Condici outfit.
I don't yet have a photo to show the outfit better. I'm tall but the skirt length is still longer on me than the model.

Before that, though, I had planned to make my outfit and had a couple of possibilities.

After the wedding I lost my sewjo for a while. To be honest it's not back yet. I decided that I'd ease my way in with finishing a number of items I'd started. I didn't like all those unfinished items.

I had
  • An unfinished toile for a sheath dress (MOB)
  • An unfinished but started hacked from RTW lined dress (MOB)
  • A Betty Barclay skirt and top;  the skirt was too long for comfort but not long enough for full length (which it would've been on a smaller person and was designed to be) and it was also too tight
  • A linen sleeveless top which needed a FBA, the darts adjusted and some shaping
  • Plans for making some lingerie and a tank from leftover silk from wedding dress

Linen top

I've finished the linen top.

I had to dismantle most of the top - only the neckline and neckline binding was untouched. I made an FBA and altered the line of the darts. I needed more fabric at the front of course and this shortened the front relative to the back - I decided to make a feature of this and have a stepped side slit.

I also added some shaping to the waist,  though just a touch as I still wanted it to be loose fitting. Making the slit longer as I had to in order to balance front and back up made more room at hip level. I trimmed the top of the side seams to level them up. I had a bit of difficulty matching the grid for pattern at one side in particular but managed this - the need for matching is why the top needed a little trimmed. I then reattached the binding around the armholes. I now have a top which will be more comfortable and looks perfectly acceptable.

Trying it on again today to take a photo, I realise it's not perfect but perfectly serviceable. I should have ironed it. I feel the front bottom armhole is a little tight. I think the pattern matching is pretty good.

A win to me
Anne 1:UFOs 0

Betty Barclay skirt

No photos here due to last minute dismantling! Well, I had some but my computer won't read them from the sd card. If I sort out that problem, I'll post. Edited _ I switched the computer off then on again and it now read the sd card. So I can add a couple of photos.

I thought I'd finished my alterations to the Betty Barclay skirt. The original had a waistband, 6 panels,  was just short of ankle length and had a rear invisible zipper. It was much too tight. I cut off the required amount all around the top of the skirt,  a good 6”, to make it knee length or a little longer. I made sure that the skirt would fit around my hips and would be long enough. I then decided to use an elastic waistband rather than trying to remake a waistband which would have been very difficult. I did this simply by using a fold over casing. The elastic is stitched at each seam. I didn't touch any vertical seam other than the back seam, which had the zipper. I didn't touch the hem - lazy?
My elastic waistband

Incidentally, I've been told never ever to wear the skirt with the top I bought with it, as a set! It's strange, the patterns are very similar but not quite the same, ditto the colours and the fabrics are different. They don't work at all together.

The top half is the bit of (woven ) skirt that was cut off, the bottom the (stretch) top

Another image of the two fabrics together - this is the original waistband with the top behind

I took the skirt to class today as I felt the whole thing was drooping in front. I have a sloping waist and a large derriere but I thought I had taken this into account in an earlier fitting (I took to the previous class). Today, Lyn chalked the hemline and while the back was fairly even, the front was like the rocky road to Dublin. Quite a big chunk would need to be removed, tapering out to the sides. I unpicked the original hem  (I had hoped to do everything from the top but no joy), pinned up a new hem and basted and got Lyn to check. No! There is something very wrong with the right side seam - I don't just mean length. It twists and doesn't lie straight - this is the original seam. So more work is required. Is it worth it? I'm not sure how flattering it is on me. I'm really not sure about the elasticated skirt but we'll see.

Today was the last class until mid September so it has been temporarily abandoned. I'll take the hem down completely again and press ready for later work.  This was a much harder project than I anticipated

A win for the UFOs
Anne 1: UFOs 1

Sheath dress toile

My birthday is on the 4th July, not a holiday in the UK.  
I decided I'd like a birthday dress. I often read of people making a new dress for their birthday. I decided to finish the sheath dress as a wearable toile. This was a toile I was making for my MOB dress, later gabardine. The basic dress was already sewn up. This was as a toile and the seam edges were not finished;  however there was no evidence of fraying. The fabric is crepe and I love the colour. I therefore decided to finish the toile up as quickly as possible.

I could pull the dress on and off without a zip but this was before there was any arm or neck finishing and I eventually decided I would add a zip.  This was an invisible zip and I found one close to the right colour. However, I had major problems inserting this. Not because of the fabric. It seemed that the zipper teeth were too big for the groove on the invisible zipper foot and so it wasn’t moving through properly. I thought I'd try the invisible zipper foot on the industrial machine in class. Unfortunately that foot is missing; Rory put the zip in for me using an ordinary zipper foot.

I had planned to line the real dress and bought lining for this toile. However,  I decided to forego the lining. I also decided not to use facings but rather to use bias binding. I hadn't done this previously and wanted to practice the technique. I decided to attach the bias binding to the outside of the dress, understitch and turn completely to the inside.

There was an option to hand stitch the bias to the inside but I decided to finish as quickly as possible, so I topstitched around the armholes, neckline and hem. No seam finishes.  My seam allowances were wider than usual to allow for fitting and ideally would be narrower.

So I finished the dress, a wearable toile, in time for my birthday. This year, though, I'm like the Queen and have two birthdays - or rather we postponed my birthday celebrations due to other things I was doing - on the 4th, a golf match where I was an invited guest,  followed by a meal and presentation. Very enjoyable and we didn't get wet!! I was busy on Tuesday evening,  too. My special meal and ultra special bottle of wine was therefore on the 6th. David's present too. I didn't wear the dress for my birthday - either of them!

The dress  was rather tight across the bust and tight under the lower front part of the armscye. The fabric lacks body and needs lined.
Strange pose but shows the thin see-through nature of the fabric
The seams at the top looked puckered. I took it to class today and Lyn unpicked the princess seam at bust level to allow more space - just over a couple of inches of seamline and giving perhaps an extra centimetre of room.
We agreed the bottom part of the front armscye needed lowered slightly, tapering out to nothing above that. The back armscye was fine. Lynn felt the puckering was stitching rather than fit.
I've already let out the bust seam here and restitched. The armhole is not altered and is still tight.
The seam puckering is clearly visible.

The dress was supposed to be for a woven fabric. My original calico toile was for this. This fabric is crepe and has rather more stretch than I anticipated. The fact that the dress was tight shows that I've put quite a bit of weight on - surprisingly around my bust; the hips were fine. I still plan to make a proper dress and will have to take into account that I will not be using a stretchy fabric.

I restitched the princess seams. I'll adjust the armscye on my paper pattern. I actually won't wear this as a proper dress - it has moved back to being simply a toile.

When I showed the altered dress to David,  he agreed it was a lot better but felt that some excess fabric should be removed from the back. The zip is rather heavy,  I think but looking at the picture he took of the back I agree a little extra fabric could be removed along the centre back but also there is a bit of pooling of fabric - a faux sway back,  I think. I'll need to address that too. I still intend to move forward and will eventually complete.
The zip area is proud of the fabric - due to too heavy zip or excess fabric?
Could it be doing with more space at hip level?

I'm going to call this a draw. Anne 1.5: UFOs 1.5

That's as far as I've got with my list. Next up is the hack dress.

Wedding dress

I've been unsuccessfully trying to clean Helen's wedding dress. She sent me a beautiful message for my birthday saying how much she appreciates all I've done etc.  I really appreciate that. Helen wants the dress kept as a full length dress. She doesn't mind the train being removed if she could wear it again. Otherwise she'll keep it for posterity. The dress therefore joins my UFO pile as I had partly dismantled it. I took out hem, weights and braid and skirt lining and waiststay. I need to reassemble. First I want to show what we have to Helen and discuss options. This will be left until the autumn.

Other additions

I bought a pair of floral summer wide legged trousers which were much too long! Not a problem I usually have. I need to shorten them by 4.5 cms. Not a big job, but one which joins my list. Hopefully I'll get them done while it's still summer.


Having a finished and wearable top feels good and hopefully my sewjo will be boosted.
I'd really appreciate any comments.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Mud (not so) glorious mud! Help please!

This is a brief post/plea for help.

Helen wanted to reuse her wedding dress. With a view to that, I dry cleaned the fabrics before I made up the dress. I wasn't really sure what she might want, what might suit. I reckoned the main possibilities were dyeing the fabric - maybe green which Helen looks fabulous in - and shortening the skirt.

I don't know yet about the dyeing but Helen would like the dress full length,  just without the train. She doesn't like ballerina or tea length and anyway I'm not sure the hugging back would suit that. 

Unfortunately there is deep ingrained mud all around the bottom of the dress and lining. Worse, the fabric is damaged in places so that even if I get the mud out there is still a problem.

I decided to detach the skirt lining (silk charmeuse / very fine crepe back satin silk)  from the dress and work with that first in terms of stain removing - no success. Any suggestions? There's really nothing to lose now,  is there?

I detached the waist stay, unpicked the horsehair braid hem and took out the horsehair and the curtain string weights. The train can be removed at a later date. I hope the dress doesn't shrink too much in length then it's possible I might be able to hem it slightly shorter to cover the abraded fabric into the inside. I'll see. However I won't know until I see if I can even get the stains which are not just at the hem,  out. 


I haven't done anything in terms of attempted cleaning with the outside dress as yet though Rory did try to remove some of the stains for the display.

I’d welcome any suggestions for heavy duty station removal of mud from damaged ivory sandwashed silk!

I'm hoping the dress might be salvageable in some form!  
Thank you

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...