Sunday, May 21, 2017

A Fitting Tail...

 Hello Everyone,

I have to admit that at the moment I have limited time for blogging and social media, due to the annoying disruptions of that thing called Real Life.  Still, this happens to all hobby sewing bloggers, so I just fit in what I can when I can.  I think I've kept up to date with most of your blogs.

This week I just wanted to share pictures of my tail.  And tell you a fitting tale, in extremely brief form.

The above picture is a quick muslin of a Burda tapered pant pattern.  It is designed to sit lower on the mid section than the waist. I can't wear that sort of style - that sort of style just falls down on me.

I also nowhere near fit the measurements of any commercial pattern.  A 28 inch waist, to 34 hip, and 34 high hip just is not going to be easy to adapt from any pattern.  Plus I also get a saggy backside and something not quite right about the crotch area.

Tracing and making pattern modifications took about 3 hours.

But, look at this:

Yes, that's my bottom again, in another pattern.  Perfect!

So how did I get to this stage.  Frustration. Frustration with spending hours altering patterns to still get a poor fit.  The front of the Burda pants is not great either.

So, when Craftsy sent a marketing email saying that they had a special, all classes US$20, I decided to enrol in a Pants Drafting Course by Suzy Furrer.

Now, as it so happens, this was not a good week to do this class.  I put Thursday aside for a whole day session so I could concentrate, but that was the day a few problems appeared, that also needed attention over the weekend.

So I quickly rushed through, a bit here, and bit there inbetween interruptions (not a good way to learn anything new).  And quickly stitched up the result.

I am very pleased with the back of this self draft. The front has problems, but I can easily sort those out as they are easy  and deal with when self fitting.

And, I think I made a few mistakes with the draft in any case, due to my lack of dedicated attention time.

Still, the self draft concept is going to work.  For now, I am satisfied with what I have achieved.

When life settles down, I will go back to this class, check my draft is correct.  If not, I will alter.  If it is, I just have to modify this toile and then learn how to adapt for different styles.

What I did learn though was that the crotch shape of commercial patterns is completely the wrong shape for my measurements.

As for Me Made May, I'm afraid I have had little time to participate.  I have decided to abandon Me Made May this year, as it is a stressor for me at the moment, not fun.

But I have had fun in finishing a handknit, which I shall share with you next week.  That will be a fitting end to May.

See you next week,

Sarah Liz

Saturday, May 6, 2017

A New Top for Sew Merry May, Simplicity 8216.

I've been having a strange life over the last few months and it has affected my sewing time quite a bit.  But on Thursday, I decided to just have a day to myself to sew.  And I worked on my May garment for the Make a Garment a Month project.  Our theme this month is Sew Merry May, and I thought this lovely cheerful fabric was Merry enough. The fabric also reminded me of the sort of fabrics I liked years ago as a teenager.  And the flowing style was also reminiscent of teenage memories.

The sewing of this top, though, was anything but Merry.  The fabric is a slippery rayon twill like fabric, and it misbehaved the whole way through.  Plus my attention was not good - if I have had things in real life that are draining, I find that it takes me a while to fire up my sewing brain again.

But, with lots of sighing and unpicking and what not, I got there!

The pattern I used was Simplicity 8216:

I had previously done a quick toile of this top.  I usually use size 8 around the arm, neck and shoulder area, and then go out to a 12.  I haven't made many Simplicity garments, and found this approach to size was wrong as the 8 was far too small. So I cut out a size 12 in all areas.  I think Simplicity paterns are going to fit me well with little alteration.

I measure the top ( I made version C) and found it very long - more tunic length, although the picture shows it to finish at hip/crotch height.  I am 5'4", or about 162 cms, so not over short.  I shortened the top by about 3 inches /10 cm.

As I knew the fabric I was working with was going to be a little difficult, I decided to omit the cuff and use an elastic casing instead at the bottom of the sleeve.  Sleeves are usually far to long on me, so I thought that by doing this I would have the sleeve finishing at about the right point.  I made the casing too deep, so edged it, which I think looks good. Then my elastic wouldn't fit, so I found another which happened to be softer which is just perfect for this sleeve finish:

I also added an inside yoke - the pattern just uses a single piece so seams are exposed. The pattern had a facing for the back neck but I thought that I would get annoyed at seeing the exposed seams with a facing above it.  I wanted a nice, neat, finish, plus I thought the double yoke would help to brace this drapey blouse- more body at the shoulder for it to hang from.  I interfaced the lining yoke at the neck edge.

I don't use the Burrito method as I find that a bit tedious - all the rolling, when with a yoke this deep you can just get right in there and sew by going through an armhole.   Much simpler.

I used the front facing and sewed that into the yoke - and realised later, that I had made a mistake - the pattern had the tie coming right down the front.  But when I thought about it, I prefered my version as it comes straight from the neck /facing join and that is already low enough for me.  So if I make this again, I am going to repeat my mistake.

The hem was just a standard 5/8 inch /1.5 cm turn twice and stitch sort of hem:

Disaster nearly struck as I was finishing this garment - I was very careful overlocking the armhole seam, flipping the sleeve neatly out of the way, or so I thought.  I was just threading my ends through, when I notice - I had just caught the sleeve into the overlocking.  It didn't look as though I had cut the sleeve, so I carefully unpicked the overlocking - and this fabric is dreadful to unpick, if you catch a thread it pulls dreadfully.  I got back to the caught bit, and released that.  I had pulled and torn/cut a thread, but as it was right under the armhole, I knew it would not be noticed. I blobbed some clear nail polish on the thread and area under it - just a small blob.  That will stop any further damage.

Of course, then I was upset, so I had to give myself a good talking too, and the top and I had to make friends with each other again.  Today, all is forgiven, and I am very Merry about this top.

And it even works nicely with my serious looking glasses, which I wear on serious sorts of occasions:

Oh, and I do plan to wear this over a black t-shirt.  I have some with a lower neckline, which I will wear under this - I am wearing a high neck one today and notice that it doesn't quite work.  I do need a layer under this, because the key hole is just a bit low for my liking.  I also get very cold, so need the extra layers.  

That's it for now, and if any of you want to join our group, do email me, stylishsarah251@gmail to join the Facebook group (you need a Facebook account) or if you are on Instagram and want to take part on Instagram, you will find me here .

Bye for now, and wishing you the best of sewing luck this week.

Sarah Liz

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Back Blogging - Grey Lisette Pants and A Skirt and a bit of Fitting Trivia.

Today I want to bring my blog up to date - I have two unblogged garments. They are both quite simple garments, and the pants and skirt are both using patterns I have tried before.

The pants were made from Butterick 6331.

 I have already written a post about the making of these trousers, which you can find here., so I shan't talk more about this here.

What I do want to talk about is the dreaded issue of fitting pants.  Some people have bottoms that seem to be the right shape for whatever pattern it is that has been chosen.

I am not one of those people, and I suspect many of you are not in the pants patterns fit me category either.

I think most patterns are drafted for more generous bottoms than I have.  Perhaps with slighter larger and curvier bottoms, hips and thighs.  Incidentally, I just read the other day that standard measurements were set years ago using a small sample (25,000) of white, lower middle class women.  I am not sure what country, but am assuming this was the U.S. This is hardly a representative sample statistically (and I am not going to go into the rules that govern what a representative sample is, but take it from me, this cannot be a generalisable sample, so it is not really an accurate model for all female shapes globally).

Now, I do not come from that group (family history, so I am probably not even an outlier in this group. So I can take it that these standards are not going to work for me.  Take a look at my rear end in these trousers. Strangely, these turned out not to fit as well as my earlier pair - it may have been the different fabric:

But this is nowhere near as bad as a RTW pants usually are on me:

Now, I think you would agree, that really is a sad look!   The moral here of course, is that if you are having trouble with the fit of your pants, especially in the area of self criticism, a more balanced perspective may be needed.

Anyway, what I am gradually learning is that I have a small tail, and I don't think anyone really designs for those.  These pants were an Australian brand, again, catering to the more pear shaped figure.

The French, though, in some RTW brands I have browsed, do have two styles of pants or skirt - those that are more like the dimensions of the Big 4 patterns (bigger hip to waist ratio) and some designed for the straighter waist to hip ratio and flatter thighs and bottom.  


I had enough fabric leftover (well, I made sure of it, I got cunning and did contrast waistbands in the on both pants and skirt, and could just about eke out the two garments....).

There isn't much to say about this skirt, except that it is the skirt shape that has evolved and morphed over time.  I used to have just as much trouble with straight skirts as I did with pants, but I seem to have mastered a reasonable okay fit with this straight skirt.  I added side pockets - this is a simple thing to do.

That's it for now, my blog is not up to date.  Now I have to start thinking about warmer clothes, with our short winter just around the corner.

Bye for now

Sarah Liz

Sunday, April 23, 2017

A Little Knit Whimsy: Marcy Tilton Cardigan, Vogue 8975.

A few weeks ago I made this little Whimsy out of a cotton knit that was in my stash.  It had lived there for some years, mostly because it was a strange sort of colour, ostensibly navy, but it looked very red when seen with navy.    And so it didn't quite go with navy, or many other blues for that matter.    And when I pre-washed it, the red factor was confirmed, because the knit bled quite a bit -  there was  a lot of bluey- red in the water.  I wondered if I should toss it, but decided to try and fix the dye. It took me two attempts to fix the dye, so that I could actually use this fabric without fear of it accidentally tainting another garment in the wash.

The knit was also awkward in that it had lots of holes in it. Deliberate holes I mean, knitted into the fabric in diamond pattern at quite frequent intervals. So I couldn't use it for a top, without it needing something underneath. And there was the problem of the strange colour, not navy, not purple, not black. So I was not sure what I would layer it over. It was not really going to work with anything.

Then one day, while rummaging through my patterns I noticed this:

I thought this little Marcy Tilton cardigan might just work with the fabric. The pattern suggests using a mesh knit, and of course my knit is more of a medium weight. Still, I thought it was worth playing around with.

It was a bit of a jigsaw puzzle to put together, with strange side panels:

  The ribbon tie goes through buttonholes, also a challenge with my knit. I should think it would be just as much of a challenge, if not more so, with a mesh.:  

And I had to alter the facing/collar as my fabric was too thick to do what the pattern suggested. The collar was supposed to be the mesh folded back on itself to make a little pleat.  So I just made a soft roll to get the facing in the right place, and used the seam and roll as my finish.  Perhaps not the best solution, but it sort of works: 

(You can clearly see the red hued navy in the above picture).

Now, I have to admit that this little Whimsy is not quite my style. But it works during a month with non stop rain.  Our March was the wettest start to Autumn since 1972.  It poured and poured and poured.  I got quite fed up. And on the day I took these photos, I had enjoyed a thorough sub tropical drencing.  Hence my rather relaxed garb.  I had just changed out of my wet clothes, and pulled on some comfy and comforting house things.  The Whimsy seems to suit the relaxed slightly holiday boho feel, to the point that the colour also didn't really matter:

And the tartan ribbon was about the only ribbon that worked with this. The navy was too navy, the purple was too purple, the black was too black. Then I noticed this tartan, which has blues, greens, reds and black in it, which means I can easily wear the Whimsy with my blue and black bottoms. And, I think it adds another touch of whimsy to the Whimsy.

On another note, the knit was reasonably easy to sew with an ordinary zipper foot, but did walk a bit.  It didn't seem to matter, I just pushed and manipulated the fabric so things sort of worked. This was really an experimental and play sew. But, I decide that when I am not experimenting and playing with a knit, but wanting perhaps to sew without the knit walking it was time to buy a walking foot:

So, now I can get serious about sewing with knits.  The time has come...

That's it for now, I hope I haven't posted too many photos, but I know a lot of you love Marcy Tilton garments. 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

A Fitting Post...

 Hello everyone,

Before I start todays short post, I would like to wish everyone a happy, healthy, and blessed Easter time, whatever your spiritual tradition.

Today I am going to talk about fitting because in my post last week I wrote  that I did not always bother to fit what I call my hack garments. Things quickly made that are going to be worn around the house and for chores. That look smart, and are quick to make.  Of course, amongst sewers, this is not always the done thing, because we do like to look good.

And, sometimes, fitting is not what I want to do.  If I have a lot of frustrations in real life, I sometimes need to make something quick and easy with minimal fuss to restore emotional equilibrium.  I just sometimes need to sew things out of my system.

As you know, I often do take care with fitting, but not always with t-shirts!  With regards to last weeks t-shirts,  many of you felt that taking out fabric in the middle of the back was the sort of alteration that would work.  I never use this alteration for my shape, but this one because I have an erect and narrow back, which automatically shortens my back.  I have the corresponding high chest.  Often you do see alteration suggestions which take out fabric where the fullness falls, but I prefer this method.  Diane mentioned splitting the yoke in an arc, and this is on the right track, but both are needed.  A better result happens if you do the back alteration in the upper thoracic area if you have an erect back.  Sandra Betzina recommends this.  I have only found one article about altering for my shape!  So no wonder those of us that need this alteration revert to taking the pooling out as a swayback type of alteration.  And with an upper back alteration, I then have to alter the back part of the sleeve.  For a t shirt I do not bother, as with movement, the thing is going to ride up anyway.

The above diagram and text comes from this book, published I think in the 60's.  I found a moth eaten version in an op shop, and it really is a gem:

Nothing like a fitting discussion to get us sewers animated, is there?

And some garments I do take a lot of time and effort to fit. At the moment, I am exploring bra making, and have made up a few sizes.   This first set , Pin Up Girls Classic full frame bra)  has a 32B (too small) , a 30 band and 34 A, and a 30 band and 34 B cup - all Canadian sizes.  One of them fits, but I will tell you all about that when I make the bra.  I am still not quite sure how to explain bra fitting - I'm starting to get the gist of it, but need to work back through again to make sense of the different sizes and combinations.  The first colourful toile is from remnants, the rest are from an old nightie and t-shirts - I thought I should save my remnants for better things, once I established I was going to be making quite a few of these.

Then I worked on Booby Traps B003, another classic full frame bra.   Sizing was different in this bra, and I first made an Australian size 12A .  I thought it was not quite there, so then I made up Australian size 12B. And you may all remember I made up a bra just to practice technique - Kwik Sew 3594.  This was a little large in the cup size, but the band was okay, so I quickly ran up a 12A, which I think is better. I'm not sure what sizing system this pattern uses.

 And why am I mentioning the country of origin of the pattern and the sizing used?  It's because they vary, as do methods of measurement. Confused?  Yes, so was I, and I am still working it out, so I shan't try to explain what I think it all means at the moment!

As for the patterned fabric, a few of you have liked that on Instagram.  I was playing with pattern placement here, and trying to understand how it worked with bra pieces, because pieces run in different directions.

I have to admit it has all been an enormous learning experience.  Did I get headaches trying to figure all this out?  Yes, I did, but it was also enormously satisfying. DH commented that I really enjoyed working with 3D forms and shapes, and that I liked the technical aspects of this craft.  So, yes, I really do focus on fitting, especially where it matters.  Just not always with t-shirts!

I'm not sure when I will make the next bra because I am waiting for the correct fabrics to arrive by mail order. While I am small enough to be able to wear any fabric, I want to feel the correct fabrics and test the stretch and so on, so I know what I should be substituting or how to alter fit to accomodate different fabrics, perhaps with appropriate stabilisation.

And, as some of you know, I have already collected elastics.  You need all sorts for bra making - strap, arm, band are all different types or widths. And you need to have a range of colours, because as we all know, when you are a domestic sewer, you have to mix and match and hope it all looks okay. Whereas in industry, they often order the colours they want and have it dyed specially.  Still, I like the creative aspects of trying to make something look as though it is meant to be out of oddments of different things.

That's it for now.  Once again, thank you for your comments.  I am finding it hard to reply at the moment as I really have a lot to attend to in real life.  The same with Instagram - I don't have time to spare at the moment.  Sometimes you have to set prioritied. I do make sure I visit your blogs though and comment on them.

That's it for this week, back next week with I am not sure what.  Until then, once again, a happy, health and blessed Easter to all of you.

Sarah Liz

Saturday, April 8, 2017

T Shirt DeStashification and a Fitting Discussion.

Every so often, I get annoyed with small pieces of fabric gathering dust in the small pieces of stash basket.  I add to it regularly when I see remnants that I like, all too small, of course, to make anything with, but ostensibly purchased to do muslins with to check fit.

That's what I purchased the red stripe knit and the raspberry coloured knit for. But I thought they were were deserving of a better fate, and they both became garments to be worn.

As many of you know, I don't really like sewing knits, more because I am not very experienced with sewing knits.  I did find that these two tops were a little easier to sew than some of my previous knit garments were, so I guess I'm starting to get the hang of them.

My first make was the little red striped t shirt, my Make a Garment a Month garment:

The stripe fabric was a 0.50 x 112 cm remnant, a cotton stable knit jersey.  I had a small piece of red cotton jersey in my leftover bits and pieces.  I thought I could put them together to make a jaunty little top.

The pattern I used was Kwik Sew 3766:

This is a classic t-shirt pattern, and my favourite.  Plain and simple, which is just what I like.  I've made it up a few times before, if you want to look at earlier versions do click here.

I wanted to make the sleeves at least elbow length, as our weather is starting to cool down and I like an inbetween length sleeve length for transitional seasons.  Luckily I had just enough, but I had to use the striped fabric for the neckband.  It doesn't sit that well, but I don't think anyone will notice.  Plenty of RTW t-shirts have bands that also do not sit well, so I keep "flaws" like this in perspective.

All seams were stitched with the overlocker.  I did topstitch the yoke seam as it did not want to lie down properly otherwise.  I did the same at the neckline.  I used a narrow zig zag stitch for this.  I also used a narrow zig zag on the hems, as I sort of thought it went with the stripes and overall energetic look.

As there is little to be said, I'll show you the pictures:

As you can see, the fit is not brilliant, in that the tee is sitting high at the front, and has pooling of fabric at the back.  I have had some people comment that I need a FBA and a sway back adjustment. But I think these pictures clearly show that these are not the alterations I need.  If you look at the profile picture, you will see I have a high, prominent chest  with a small bust and a very flat back.  I do not have a lordosis or big bottom - this is where one needs to do a sway back adjustment.  And looking at the picture of the back, you can see that I have a narrow back.  The pooling is due to the upright, flat, narrow back - fabric just gathers in the middle.  Alterations needed for this are to take out at upper back level, and to add at the upper front chest, and adjust the sleeves to match.

I never bother to make alterations on this scale for something like a simple t-shirt that is just going to be worn casually.  It's just not worth the effort.  Yes, for some garments it is worth the effort. But when you have to make most of your own clothes because you can't buy much that fits, you do have to decide how to invest your sewing time and energy for maximum mileage and output.  As far as t-shirts are concerned, these are minimal effort and maximum mileage type of garment.

As for the red top, I found a 0.50 by 150 of very stretchy poly/rayone/elastane remnant at Spotlight.  I was determined to make something from it, and paired it with a few long scraps of  ivory knit I had leftover from another garment.  The ivory knit is extremely stretch, well over 100%.  It worked nicely for the neckband, but I think the cuffs look a little bulky - I probably should have cut them a little narrower.

As in the red striped t shirt, I wanted longer sleeves for wearing in transitional seasons.

Again, all seams were serged, including the cuffs and hem of the top:

This very stretch top looks quite different from the striped stable knit top.  Nowhere near as fitted, but sort of nice and languid in fit:

Imperfections do not bother me if they are not screamingly obvious, and I think these two garments are going to be much loved tops for wearing around the house.

Thank you everyone for your comments on my post about recent bra making efforts  I am flat out at the moment and not able to reply to comments again.  I am also not posting much on Instagram at the moment as I had too much to do.  Just so you know I am not ignoring you all...

Bye for now,

Sarah Liz