Friday, 27 January 2017

Perfecting pattern for Helen's red silk dress; part 4. Getting rid of UFOs. Weight loss update

Altering Pattern Pieces

It might seem premature to start working on the pattern for Helen's red silk dress before I've had feedback about how the green toile fits.

While making the toile I was aware of issues which needed to be addressed. Even if the size is otherwise perfect and that's unlikely.

Cutting single layer - making full size pattern pieces

This is the biggy for me. The difficulties I had with the back were due to me cutting on the fold and the fabric slipping. I have already redrawn the back skirt as one full skirt piece, though I will have to modify and I will be redrawing the front of the dress as one full piece, too. I don't need to alter the back bodice pieces, unless I just do another piece to help with fabric layout. I haven't yet done the front.

Princess seams

In the final dress, the seams will be overlocked together pressed to one side and top stitched as in the original. They are not French seamed, though with a fine silk that would presumably be possible. Helen wants me to identically mimic the original so I’ll overlock and stitch over the overlocking. I need to buy some better colour overlocker threads. Note to self - put on my to do/to buy list

The first issue was the way the princess seams had to be folded on the back bodice of the dress. One side is rather curved,  the other is straight and Dan pointed out that the seam wouldn't lie in the direction of the curved seam. I therefore trued up the seams to allow them to lie in the direction they wanted to. A few minor changes but which should improve the sewing experience. I hadn’t realised this. I always find it fascinating the little tips I pick up which aren’t given consciously, really, but are part of the experience my tutors have.


I also had to true the back armhole,  shaving a little off the area where the princess seam meets the armhole. I had to trim this area on the toile. There had been a small projection in this area,  as a consequence of the way the seams were trying to lie.

I carefully smoothed out the front armhole curve after folding out the dart. I had done this previously but I felt the edge was raggy.  It's better now.

I'm not doing these in order of completion.

Dress length

The sides of the dress were a good bit shorter than the front in particular but also the back.  Doing the toile, I trimmed the front after measuring from the floor. I wasn't sure how to make changes to the pattern and asked Dan's advice. She advised adding to the side seam to smooth out what is effectively a dip at that point. This would give me more leeway. The hem would still need to be evened in the same way as for the toile on the final dress. I haven't actually done that as yet - I'll do it when I redraw the pattern pieces.

External band at waist

I decided to slightly lengthen the band at the waistband - by 3 cms but haven't redrawn the pattern piece yet.

Pocket, pocket flap, poppets

Most of my time in class was spent on the pocket and this has been redrawn.

First,  I marked on the pattern front where the pocket was to go. This was pocket size without seam allowances. I attached pattern front and back at the side seams and continued the pocket across the seam. There will be a lot of drill holes marking corners  etc. I will also make card versions.

The two pieces are not stuck together here and have slipped slightly. 

After discussion with Rory and examination of the toile,  we concluded that there had to be additional support behind the poppets or they would tear out almost instantly. You'll remember the original dress doesn't have this and Helen doesn't want it. However,  the original dress has torn in that area. I don't  want to put a lot of effort into something which will tear so readily. I'll discuss with Helen.

Anyway,  I concluded I wanted to put an interfaced facing piece onto the pocket edge and the area where the poppets attach. Just a couple of cms wide but it should make all the difference. I will overlock so that there isn't extra bulk and move the facing away from the side seams where several layers come together.

Rory also helped me with the proper placement of the pocket flap and with the placement of the poppets.  Once I had it explained what the principles were,  I was able to fine tune this myself.

In class,  I also drew up the facing for the pocket. That's not in the photo for some reason.

I will redraw all pieces onto fresh paper and make cardboard templates for the pockets and the flaps to help make the seam allowances even.

I have ordered some suitable snaps and a Snapsetter (as recommended by Seamstress Erin). They are coming from the US, I believe, so will take a little while. We weren't very happy with the system we used though it did work.

Inside the toile pocket there are some raw edges and I need to think more carefully how to ensure this doesn't happen. Dan  also advised me on how to attach the flap in a better manner. One side on the toile is unsatisfactory.

The toile,  of course, was designed to help me with fit and with construction. I'm now much clearer about how to construct the final garment. Writing this, though, I realise I haven't completely worked out all issues (I'm thinking of bias binding at neck and armhole edges) but at least I'm getting there.

I waited before posting the toile as I needed to let Rory see it. Helen has now received it, says she loves it, has sent me a (poor) photo and intends to wear it to work today (Friday 27th January) and out for a birthday celebration tonight - presumably an after works drink. I didn't specify the problems I saw - and I guess if Helen doesn't see them, or doesn't care, well that's fine. I can't tell from the photo whether it fits well or needs any further modification.

I may as well wait now until I get feedback before completing the pattern modifications.

Broken Foot Control

At the sewing bee yesterday, I dropped my foot control getting it out of my sewing machine bag (I like to take my own sewing machine). We're a little cramped, to say the least. As it hit the floor, the control broke into 3 pieces - top, bottom and a spring. My tutor put it together apparently ok but unfortunately it was stuck and couldn't be used. I spent the rest of the class using the foot free start/stop control which I don't really like - I prefer the foot pedal and the knee lift as this gives me greater use of my hands.

My husband was reluctant to pull it apart although he didn't think it was broken. I saw a bit of plastic which I thought had sheared but he pointed out that it couldn't be as otherwise the pedal wouldn't ever have been able to move. I phoned my machine dealer, expecting to have to go and possibly replace the pedal, but he gave us instructions over the phone and the pedal is now working. At least I hope it is - I haven't tried it in earnest but it is moving freely. It seems that this is a fairly common issue.

Another Hack for Joanne? Postponed

I need to take a break from Helen's dress for a while. I want to make a couple of things for myself and Joanne, who is visiting at the moment, has asked me to hack a top she likes but which doesn't fit well - bust gathers gather on top of the bust instead of underneath, the length is pulled up at the front and feels too short. I have a couple of patterns with some similarities and I'd prefer to start there rather than with another full blown hack. I plan to use the pattern of the bodice for Joanne's bridesmaids dress to help with sizing, though as Dan pointed out that is for woven whereas this  top is stretch. Unfortunately, Joanne forgot to leave the top when she left to go back and so I think I'll leave that for a bit - we'll be visiting in 3 weeks.


I thought perhaps a slightly snazzier image would make me feel better about these!

The first thing I do for myself will be a really simple UFO. I’ve decided I either complete the UFOs lying around or they go out - they are just taking up space both physically and emotionally. I’ve already abandoned a couple of UFO projects so I feel I have made real progress! I had decided to enter the PR UFO contest but as I have abandoned every project bar one I’ve picked up so far, that may not happen! I guess I can see why I abandoned these projects.

Abandoned projects

Simplicity 1156 - I suspect this is abandoned forever
Although Dan pinned this tighter, making the dress more satisfactory than it was prior to that, sorry it just doesn't work for me. I still find it frumpy and the length is not right - it is too short at the back, longer at the front, and overall just not an attractive length - I couldn't even the dress by trimming from the front (the dress is already hemmed) as overall I would prefer it longer. I also took off the bias binding around the neck and armholes (I can't remember why!!) so too much to do, anyway. This fabric will be discarded after I mark the changes from Dan's fitting onto my pattern - in case.
I've shown the skinny pattern version rather than the one on me, which is elsewhere on this blog, regrettably!
If you want you could search for it

Vogue 1082 skirt
There is just too much to do and as I am losing weight, it doesn't seem worth modifying the fit at this stage. I will wait until autumn as it's more a cool weather skirt in any case. The fabric I used is a summer weight cotton but I don't feel it suits the skirt. This really would be more of a toile for fit. I do like this skirt very much.

The skirt has been partially sewn up, basted and taken apart again - a mess of fabric pieces and threads

Sewing case
I didn't understand the instructions and didn't have all the materials I needed at the time - the interfacing was difficult to get (I have it now). I just don't need it at this stage.

Thread catcher.
Again, I didn't understand the instructions. It will have to wait - too much to do. This is not technically a UFO as I hadn't really started. I would like one but there are alternatives.

Trousers McCall's 6901
They are a million miles away with fit so not at this stage. The fabric will be discarded. actually, I probably won't use the pattern again, either.
No - I refuse to post the version I have; besides it's in pieces!

I also have trousers that I was going to hack. They had a tear so I had actually taken them apart and cut them up. Unfortunately I don't know if they would be anywhere close to fitting me now! Undecided what to do as yet.

Rory is going to drape me for a trouser block, hopefully starting next week or shortly thereafter. She originally asked me for my'best fitting pattern'. Sorry, there isn't one!

I am also going to another pattern hack class with Dan.

Postponed projects

The dress I hacked at Dan's last class, intended possibly as a MOB outfit for one of the events.

This is me in the original dress. The hacked version is plain grey
No photo of my version. The lining is great and fits really well but the outside needs work. I can't yet decide whether to take this garment with me to the new pattern hack class. Makes sense, doesn't it? In a way. On the other hand, something new that would fit in with my more immediate plans - a jacket or trousers would work better.

This wouldn't technically count as a UFO for the PR contest anyway as I will have to modify the outside layer of the dress which will probably mean re-cutting. The pattern certainly needs trued.You need to have cut out all the main pieces prior to October and I haven't. I'd like to finish this dress but I'm not in a hurry.

UFOs I will hopefully complete

Lace cardigan - more details in another post. Needs a fastening and the sleeves shortened.

Pattern envelope, now gone

This is from March 2016. Nearly done, just need to stitch hems on sleeves now -
sleeves looks short in photo but they are way too long

Skirt McCall's 3830 - more details in another post
The original was too big, taken in to too small, needs modified to intermediate state! Doable.

The fabric
These two would count as UFOs for the PR contest

The other UFOs that I have, which wouldn't count for the PR UFO contest are the two jackets I'm making but put off over Christmas and until now. They don't count because I haven't cut out the main fabric, just toile fabric and probably I was still working on them after the latest date, anyway. They will get done, soonish.
McCall's 6172 - just about ready to cut into main fabric. Boiled wool.

Grainline Morris Blazer - will be in lightweight boiled wool I suspect. nearly ready to go
Weight loss update

I was Slimmer of the Month for January with a weight loss of 12 lbs. 4 lbs this week despite Joanne being here - but I wasn't slimmer of the week as someone had lost 6 lbs and another had lost 5 lbs!! I thought 4 was impressive. The only time I ever lost more was when I was ill.

I'd like to carry on losing 2 lbs per week for a bit. 2 lbs this coming week would take me to 1 stone lost. That would be great.


  1. Congratulations on the weight loss. It is wonderful. I on the other hand have not even started. DH and myself had yet another recurrence of our really awful head cold and cough (me) and he has had yet another antibiotic and an inhaler to help with his chest - his cough is dreadful and hard to have and even harder to listen to. It seems that a lot of this is around. Not a time to feel motivated at all.
    It is just great to hear about your weight must now be feeling so much lighter and have a great feeling of well-being. Well done you.

    1. Thank you, Joyce. I'm sorry to hear you haven't been well. I hope you recover soon - and become more motivated. My updates are for you - promised in a previous post!

    2. Thanks for the updates.....I am beginning to feel better and even the grocery shopping was in line with better biscuits or anything which would tempt me....really think you are doing well...and as for de-cluttering....I so agree with you - get rid of the baggage, emotional and is so good for one.

    3. I'm glad you're beginning to feel better. Good luck with healthier eating. After a little while, I'm missing chocs and cakes less than I thought I would.
      We have a LOT of decluttering to do!

  2. What a good way to get rid of UFO's - lose weight, then you don't have to make something that isn't working. I wouldn't toss the trouser pattern just yet - you might find something worthwhile with construction in the instructions.

    1. Thanks, Sarah Liz. Problem is - I had gained which is why some were no use! Primary reason for getting rid of the UFOs is because they are in the way, emotionally and physically. I've found another UFO! I think they may breed, which is another reason to get rid of them!
      I can appreciate what you're saying about the trouser pattern so I'll hold onto it meantime! It should have been a good pattern - lots of fitting info and marks for making fitting changes but it just didn't seem to work for me.

  3. Great recap of your projects, both successful and not. I'm with you about tossing the things that aren't working; no use wasting more time on something that isn't flattering. Congratulations on your weight loss. Looking and feeling better always inspires new garments. Try using tissue paper to control the slippery silk when cutting. Place your fabric on top of tissue paper, cover with another layer of tissue, place the pattern on top. Pin well (I keep pins within the seam allowances on silk) and cut through all the layers. That should keep your fabric from shifting around.

    1. Thank you. In addition to UFOs, I've managed to cull quite a few shoes and garments. Some of the shoes had never been worn - too high and too dressy for my current needs post retirement not to mention my walking abilities! There will be some very happy charity shop customers!
      Thanks for the silk tip. I'm waiting a bit before I start the silk dress proper. I'll be seeing Helen in mid February.


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