Drafting Sewing Patterns

Another sewing blog, with an emphasis on making patterns for garments.

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Waffling about Pattern Making Again

This week I played around with the overshirt pattern and made it into a shift.

The fabric is a soft blue silky something or the other from stash depths – about the colour of Petula’s overdress in this clip.   La Nuit N’en Finit Plus might be my theme song.

My dress has side slits too. I added a pocket in the right side seam, changed the classic underarm dart to a shaped french dart, made the neckline work as both closed with slit and turned back and redrafted to the measurements of a daughter who often gets to be my pattern guinea pig. I’m slightly regretting the last decision in this list as now its done I quite like it – and the sleeves aren’t as impractical as you might think. They stay put by your sides when your hands are in the washing up bowl.  It almost, kind of,  fits me …..hmmm. Would make an excellent hot weather frock.

Blue Dress

Blue Dress

Neckline Fastened

Neckline Fastened

If anyone reading this doesn’t know how to work a slit opening like this one, it goes like this:-

1. Mark the cutting line (I usually use one or two rows of close stitching).

2. With facing piece RS together over the slit, stitch each side of the marked line, leaving the smalles space you dare between them. Use a small stitch length. Bring the stitch lines to a Vee at thebottom but take one stitch across (i.e. don’t do ‘needle down and swivel).

3. Snip right in to your stitch line at the Vee end, dabbing on fray check if you’re nervous. Turn the facing in.

To insert a rouleau loop like the one I put at the top, you need to have it positioned between the two layers, raw edges to the centre. Its easier if you stitch or baste it in place on your garment layer first.

During  web browsing breaks, I came across another of those comments on indie pattern makers, this time in the ‘why don’t they design something different’ vein.

True enough, there are a lot of patterns  travelling well trodden paths. My guess is that making a ‘different’ design is a lot more work, and might have limited appeal and a short life.

To illustrate this point let’s list what went into the shift dress above. Let’s say I already had the basic dress block in the size I needed (I did). Below are the processes and in brackets next to them the decisions involved. Its the decisions that take the time.

Trace round front and back blocks. Draw new neckline front and back checking shoulder widths and plunge. (Worry about bra strap clearance? How deep a plunge? Will it work as a turned back shape? Fastening?)

neck

Draft neck facing (How much depth of facing to guard against facing flip? Will too much create ugly bulk?)

Draw in hemline and position of side slits (Length? Depth of slit?) Draft pocket (Position, size?)

Swivel Bust dart to new position  drawing curve for it (Length? Shape of curve?) Recut side seam to incorporate bust dart fold. Measure dress girth (Need zip?)

dart

Trace round sleeve block twice. Draw Front overlap curve on one.Draw back underlap curve on the other (Position? Shape?). Slice off pieces. Slash through to get bell shape (How much flare? Where to position flare?). Re trace as single pattern piece.

Slash across new sleeve piece to get more fluting on vertical line of front overlap curve, open, trace. (Position and amount of flare?) Draw in new grain line.(Will that work? Drape nicely or twist awkwardly?)

sleeve pat

This shift dress is a fairly simple but not totally standard item. There were quite a lot of steps. Each decision is a shot in the dark, unlike when you churn out a totally textbook pattern. Experience reduces the number of trial garments, but sometimes you just guess wrong. Don’t get me started on fabric requirements. If your design is one of the basic shapes, a long list of fabrics will work with it. Make even a little foray into difference and the fabric can make or break it. That’s only the beginning – still grading or drafting different sizes and tidying up and checking the patterns to do.

I struggled to dream up a sewing hook for this non sequitur.

waspie

 

Uncovered in our wood-box. Isn’t it marvellous?

 

 

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Overshirt Progress

I’ve been slowly assembling a pattern test for an overshirt with floaty sleeves. The fabric is a man made crepe in a petrol blue which has been in stash too long for me to recall purchasing details. So long in stash in fact that its proving hard to press out the wrinkles!ghandistyle

Waisted

Waisted

The sleeves are cut on the bias, open at the front, overlapping at the sleeve head, the rest of the shirt is pretty basic. The neckline is a high wide Vee front and back. There’s a shirt style opening on it at the moment.

Back of Overshirt

Back of Overshirt

It has a narrow long tie belt and the side seams are slit for 5 inches.

Belted

Belted

I have some blue buttons which look fairly good, but I’m hoping to stumble on some in old gold similar to one in my button tin, and use a narrow gold belt instead of the tie.

Reasonable match buttons

Reasonable match buttons

metal buttons

metal buttons

Button on the left is the one I like for it. Its a warm broken gold which might or might not show up on yer screen . Nefertiti or whoever it was on the right is brassier and a bit heavy.

There are two changes I’m considering for this draft. The sleeves are cut in two pieces with an underarm seam which made it easier to fit on my fabric. The seam serves no structural purpose so that could go.

open bell sleeve

open bell sleeve

The shirt style opening might get changed  to a keyhole with one button at the top or faced slit with rouleau loops inset. In fact looking at it through the camera lens, the facing could be designed so that the opening could turn back. The length of the shirt might also need to be adjusted, but that’s minor.

Its cut to fit one daughter and isn’t the size of the dress form it’s on here. This is giving it  blousier look in the top than intended. (The form is my standard 12 and the pattern is 12 with a DD cup size change.) Usually unfitted waistlines are a bad idea on D cup and above, but here I’m hoping that the floaty crepe fabric will knock any tent-semblance on the head.

I really like the sleeves, but probably need to tweak the sleeve head pattern a bit and am musing about changing the dart to a french dart.

Basically, as a first run through I’m happy.

 

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Ufology dilemmas

Backstory.  I saw a sleeve I liked in an Armani collection. I ordered red bouclé for the coat, but didn’t want to risk hacking into it without testing the pattern. A test jacket got half made. Afficionados of Fabricland will recognise the cheapo tweed . I had a vision of covering it with appliquéd flowers picking out the colours, probably clustering on one shoulder and dropping casually down the arm and half the front. I cut some experimental shapes and pinned them on. Running this inspiration past the gals in a sewing forum got the coded “have you lost the plot” response. (Nice things said about jacket, ultra lukewarm on the big idea).  I couldn’t find matching fabric pieces in the right texture and colour for the putative appliqué . The half done jacket got tossed in Damnation Drawer, the coat was made and posted.

R C _DSC7649 This week, I thought “to hell with the appliqué” and stitched in the jacket lining. Sadly, in the intervening years, the sleeve idea has gone off the boil. I’m not so wild about it. See the jacket with buttons posed imploringly where the buttonholes would be. Stitch or ditch?

ufo

Meanwhile,  the overshirt in blue crepe progressed a little. Here’s the seam finish I’m using – turn under 3mm and stitch. Balancing the many disadvantages of having learnt to sew pre-zig-zag on a handcrank Singer, the repertoire of old techniques comes in handy.

seamfinish

 

Another pre-loved technique that gets an airing occasionally is old-world back stitching. The handcranks didn’t have a reverse, you had to make a couple of stitches in the wrong direction, needle down, swivel, stitch the seam. I used that method yesterday when turning under  3mm at the pointy end of a facing for a Vee neck. Even the Bernina likes to chew up and swallow tiny points with nothing for the foot to grip. What fun it is dismantling the bobbin race to tease out your facing and untangle it from the thread nest.

pointy end

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Hobnobs v Batting

On the left is a form padded out to my size12 block which includes functional ease, on the right is a form padded out to my own block plus functional ease. (The one on the right can fit in size 12 or sometimes 10 Vogues. Just saying.)

12 and Tub

12 and Tub

 

The wavering blue line below the waist on fatty reflects my mental wavering – stuff more batting into the abdominal cavity and more MCVities into me, or call on Dr Dukan. Hmm. Close.

Besides this soul wrenching job and a couple of others too tedious to mention, the sewing room saw the birth of a project for an overshirt this week. Pattern is drafted and pieces are cut. Marking darts the quick way below.

 

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Vogue 8146 and a couple of tips

I started this pattern 5 years ago. I went off my measurements and blithely cut a 14, straight out of my lambswool tweed, not stopping to do a toile. Its marked Very Easy Vogue, and if it had fitted and worked it would have been. You could assemble this in your sleep.

The pattern is constructed as a raglan with a swing back, a pleat in the back and no bust shaping (that is the front is designed to hang down from the bust point). Its also very short. I could have saved myself a whole heap of trouble if I’d done some basic measurements of the pattern tissue or even read the available info before cutting, but I didn’t.

The back length measurement of the jacket is included on the envelope. I can throw the blame on no-one. Its 2 inches below the waist. Don’t be fooled by the sketch.

By the time I picked this out of purdah, I’d already interfaced the front, constructed a dart in the front to get it to be less tent like, taken in the sides losing about four inches, added a band at the bottom to increase the length, placed pockets in the band seam to try to make that alteration look like a design decision, cut some cuff pieces to the sleeves, and redesigned the neckline and collar. I think I had left it at that point because in spite of all the work, it doesn’t hit the spot.

The collar pattern by Vogue is small and cut on straight grain. It didn’t sit well on me. I made it substantially bigger.

The lining was part done in first run through. I cut it from the outer pattern, no lining pattern is given. Buttons were in stash.

I made a quick and easy lined straight skirt from my own pattern draft this week from the remaining fabric. Its a lined straight skirt with back darts, front pleats, invisible back zip, no waistband and kick pleat.

Front Pleats

Front Pleats

Kick Pleat

Kick Pleat

Finishing this project, a couple of tips occurred to me – apart from the huge tip of taking pattern measurements and/or doing a toile like I didn’t, that is.

Tip 1

When you make a hand buttonhole there is a nice line of beads of thread over the raw edge, hiding any mess. If you opt for machine buttonholes, its basically two rows of close zigzag which you cut between. I suppose in some perfect universe you would get those rows positioned so precisely and your cut so neat that the zigzag entirely covered all unravelling bits of fabric and the sharply defined white of the interfacing. I have never got the hang of that. The thread can be snipped clear to give a reasonable result. The interfacing shines resolutely through. Does this happen to you? The answer is to dye the bit of interfacing where the buttonhole will be, ink, felt pen, anything which will tone it down and not mess with any subsequent laundry. On this jacket I used a procion dye because I happened to have some olive green already mixed. No picture but self explanatory.

Tip 2

Quite possibly preaching to the converted here, but I didn’t find any reference to this in any of my sewing books – here’s one way of preventing a kick pleat from dropping if you don’t want top stitching, and the fabric is too bulky to make running the pleat all the way up to the waist a good bet.

You need a triangle of lining fabric to fill in from about the hipline to the pleat. The long edge of the triangle should be on straight grain, so that it won’t stretch. Stitch it to the seam allowance of the back seam and the seam allowance of the top edge of the pleat.

triangle of lining fabric

triangle of lining fabric

lining encloses the triangle of fabric

lining encloses the triangle of fabric

Several shots of me in slightly crumpled, much altered, but finally finished Vogue 8146 follow, as Port Manech on a sunny day is such a beautiful place. The cliffs were golden with blooming gorse, the sloe bushes were snowy with white flowers, bluebells, snowdrops, periwinkles lined the cliff path. If you’ve never visited this part of France btw, the whole coastline is bordered with footpaths, over cliffs, from bay to bay.

our little pad in the country (kidding!)

our little pad in the country (kidding!)

. Risking life and limb to get the hice in view.

sand, sea, pines

sand, sea, pines

Sunshine in March!

Swingy Back

Swingy Back

Redeeming feature of the unremarkable jacket is the swingy back.

defying gravity

defying gravity

Wobbly lurch gets full frontal shot close to cliff edge.

Trying to Capture Cliff Magic

Trying to Capture Cliff Magic

One day I’ll have the right lens with me!

bay vista

bay vista

Nice place, shame about the jacket!

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Salvage Sewing

Have you heard the murmuring about sewing being a bit hard? Sure it is. For every dozen garments I make ok, a few others flop. Some sewists chuck the failures straight out. Some battle gamely on, wielding the seam ripper, re-cutting pieces and reworking the bad stitching. I put the offender out of sight. Sometimes for a long while. Months or years later, the angst has faded enough to get to grips with the faults. How about you – patient unpicker, steady handed perfectionist, or regular gifter at the recycling centre?

This week I took up salvage operations. First up, the Lazarus of jacketing. Back from its near death experience, Vogue 8146. Finished finally, except pressing and fiddling with the inside seam allowances in the lining I put in.

V8146

V8146

It was a pig of a pattern, ridiculously short (ok I should have read the measurements), with a mean overtight collar, and a cock-eyed imbalance between the front and the back bodice (there’s more of me in the front than the back, Vogue). Unlined too. How great is an unlined tweed jacket?  The thing that attracted me to it was the back, which now its a decent length does swing merrily in a 50s fashion.

jackbk

Next, whilst rifling through the cadavers of so many, many wrecks, a zombie of the jean generation threw a leg out. It had been abandoned with waistband and hems to do, probably because jeans are cheap to buy and boring to make. My curiosity was sparked.  I cut this with three other pairs in a previous stash busting frenzy, using my bog standard jeans block. After a week of reading about jeans and critical eyes seeing unacceptable front crotch wrinkles in many a Ginger jean, I had to know. Does the Aldrich block make a wrinkly front or not?  I checked back on the pictures from Jeaniac posts.

jean

No serious wrinkles in the florid pair, but maybe  the hands in pockets stance hid them. I had to get that waistband on the abandoned pair and check.

jeans

jeans

Wrinkle free when I put them on, but so what? Do you mind about the minutiae of jeans fit? I’m not sure I truly care. Cation Designs has some wrinkle busting fixes if you do.

Last week’s Spring sunshine bunked off.  It’s sooooo cold. (The house too is like a refrigerator, we’ve had the balcony doors open all morning for eclipse photography). I might have a matching skirt done for the jacket by the time we get another sunny day fit for venturing out to photograph clothes. That should take out a bit more stash.

While I’m trying to use up some of my embarassingly large collection of fabric, its cheering to know there’s an alternative.

 

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Vogue 1408

V1408

V1408

V1408 was this week’s quick and easy stash buster, using 1.55 m of a navy ponte jersey, with about another 20cms by a third of the width, to make a ‘wearable toile’. Getting the pattern out of this was the hardest part – especially as I needed to lengthen each one of those very flared panels by five inches. I  wanted to put sleeves in, measured the armhole and worked up a sleeve pattern, but didn’t have enough fabric.

The pattern calls for (in size 12) 1.3 m of main fabric with two additional contrasts, 1.0m of one and 0.5 of the other, but the skirt finishes as just nineteen inches below the waist. Each skirt panel has a considerable flare on each seam,  adding length also adds a lot of hem width.

I skipped lining and finished the neckline and armholes with a black ribbed binding, and didn’t need the zip. The envelope shows the pattern in three subtle shades, hard to find, but a good idea.

rib

rib

Next the thorny question of fit. I made a 12. If I went by bust sizing I’d cut one and a half or two sizes up from that. In other words Vogue is again plentiful with ease. If you went for an FBA on a smaller size the position of the bodice seams should make it reasonably easy for smaller additions. You could draw in a shaped new line on the side section to get more room. Princess seams go from the neckline.

There are ten main pieces (not including lining) but despite this it’s very quick to assemble, the notches all line up and the curves are do-able. Used like this, no lining, no zip, zero fitting, it’s an easy pattern. The tech drawing gives the impression that seam matching will be a nightmare, I didn’t find it so.

V1408 tech drawing

V1408 tech drawing

I wore it rock hopping before finishing seam allowances, clipping and pressing.

Vogue 1408

Vogue 1408

This shows the way the skirt works better.

Vogue 1408

Vogue 1408

There is a lot of flare at the hemline. You could reduce it if lengthening the pieces, to arrive at something closer to the pattern width at its hemline. I liked the way it falls in folds, which might be lost if you mess with the angles of the panels.

skirt width

skirt width

Thanks to everyone for the great suggestions of fixes for the green velvet.  I haven’t touched it yet. It usually takes me a while to get into the frame of mind to rework things. Here’s a former flop I’ve just fished out of the drawer of the damned.

jacket resurrection

jacket resurrection

V8146 was an early run-in with the difference between Vogue’s drafting and my own. Let’s just say it looked cute in the drawing on the packet and sh*tty on me. I lengthened, added pockets and cuffs, cut a new collar but still couldn’t get the image of how it was supposed to look out of my head. It’s been tucked out of sight for x years. I’ve tried it on again. I think it can be made to work now I’ve forgotten how it was supposed to be.

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