I sew ..

And draft patterns. This blog will log some of the processes.

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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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Quick and Easy Stash Busters

The velvet jacket is on hold.

j1The tale of sewing woe went like this:-

Sewed it up, decided the collar needed interfacing after all.  Ripped out the lining. Fused a lightweight non woven to the top collar one side – all good. Got interrupted . Stupidly resumed in poor light when tired . Failed to register ironing setting changed . Melted interfacing, bubbling the collar underneath. Peeled off interfacing round bubble, steamed out bubble -all good.  Started cutting out crapped bit of interfacing around meltdown, snipped collar by mistake.  Teased snip closed, fused across it carefully, decided not too bad, stitched lining in……….. But  I can’t decide if I want to live with it knowing its there, or rip off the collar and restyle, or remake, or pension it off. Drat!

Oops

Oops

Thats the pretty little snip, which is, of course, on the top collar. Steaming out wrinkles, bubbles, creases etc in velvet, is one of the three handed jobs in sewing. You need to blast steam through the velvet, holding the fabric in front of the steam wrong side towards the iron without touching it. Should you have an old fashioned kettle which sits steaming on a hob, its perfect for the task. With a typical domestic iron its a circus act.

Meanwhile stash has expanded to a ridiculous volume. Its time to churn through some of it, so I’m starting on the basis of first fabric out of a box gets made into something. This week it was this

silver and black rib

silver and black rib

It has a  fine pleated texture, giving a rib effect and on the right side a wave pattern woven in, or more accurately knitted in – its a fine jersey.

wave pattern

wave pattern

This was originally bought as one of two possibles for a Christmassy top for one of my nieces. I cut a pattern for a sleeveless tunic and a bolero, both very quick to assemble.

tunic

tunic

bolero

bolero

The overlocker  hasn’t been used since it broke its ten year record of good behaviour and threw a hissy fit on some red jersey. After some TLC and upping the differential feed it did the job with only one bad splodge of bunched up stitches.

chossed stitches

chossed stitches

Luck was on my side this time, the mess is on the seam of the cuff which gets folded to the inside – hooray!

As overlockers go my Elna 614DE is not too difficult to thread,  I should use it more often. There’s a threading diagram inside and the only quirky bit is needing to press down on a  lever to reveal a guide for one of the loopers,  remembering to push it back up again before stitching.  But I suspect the poor old dear does need a service.

overlocker guts

overlocker guts

I’ve included a photo of this because googling for hints on restoring it to its former glory, I hit on many pleas for manuals and help threading. You can purchase a manual download or a set of films of how to use it, but if you have picked up one of these lovelies second hand instead of a swish new air threaded job, its probably due to a cash shortfall, right? In the manual you get a threading diagram, but it does leave you with that moment of hesitation – is this the lever depicted, really? Well that is indeed it, right under the looper. When you press it down you can see the thread guide you need to pass the thread through before it goes through the looper you see poking out of the housing pointing right in the picture. Once you’ve got the thread through  you push the lever back up, where it is in the photo sitting on my finger nail.

 

 

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Sloppy Stitching

If anyone’s running a Mucked Up March Comp for the sloppiest sewing, I’m ahead of the game with this top. Eat your heart out H&M.

gold top

gold top

It started off reasonably, last week. The pattern making was pretty methodical. Then on Monday it hit me that I needed to subtract two weeks from the deadline in case the fit was off and it had to be sent back for alteration.

sloppy stitching

sloppy stitching

See? Corners cut , or more accurately missed entirely.  Flying blind into the first method that popped into my mind with zero unpicking. It takes some nerve to ignore this.

 zip and miss

zip and miss

Interior unfinished,  hit and miss binding, bad buttonholes.  The invisible zip went in perfectly, but then I ran a second ugly run of top stitching over the drapes for more rapid back stage changes. So not even that’s up to scratch.

So how about it? Can you flaunt some crappily sewn constructions? Or does your inner neat freak tighten her grip when you mess up and waft the quick unpicker in front of your nose?  Can you plough on, ignoring flapping threads, mismatched notches and seamy wobbles? Or are you constitutionally incapable of bad sewing. Someone should design a badge for this stuff.

With this gem in the post I drafted a pattern for an unstructured jacket to use a piece of rayon velvet in a divine soft green, bought at a ridiculously low price in a London market. Early birds had flocked there before me, I snatched the last two yards.

jacket pattern

jacket pattern

It has a grown on collar and shaped cut away front, edge to edge fastening. I usually draft my patterns without seam allowances so that I can adapt to the fabric I’m using.

I expected to have the jacket finished by the end of the week, but the velvet takes no prisoners. It slips in all directions. Tacking and slow, slow stitching essential. Pressing was  approached gingerly, nervously touching down the toe of the iron, with paper under the edges of the seam allowances and darts and sandwiching the piece between spare scraps of velvet. I know….. I should buy a needleboard instead of so much fabric.

jacket interior

jacket interior

The outer bodice part and facings are finished, lining and sleeves next week.

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Fair Cop?

 

Singer

Our Yesterdays

Have you noticed how quickly stuff migrates from the luxury camp to the necessity camp ?The legendary, record breaking Eileen Sheridan recalling sportswear as it once was said

“We used to ride in our baggy shorts, not padded of course, and a sweater with a pocket on the front where we kept our food. It opened like a sail as we cycled! I wore chamois leather shorts when I was racing, but that’s as smart as it got! There were no showers or anything. We used to finish, find out our time and ride home!”

Compare that to what even the weediest of us thinks we need to strut our stuff  down the gym now .

Last night’s GB Sewing Bee was 50s themed. Contestants were given electric Singer Featherweights to work on and some struggled with the lack of features.  How quaint it seems now that my sister and I learnt to sew on a hand crank Singer. We did get a new needle when sis sewed through her finger. That was the entire gizmo expenditure.

I wonder what its like learning to sew in today’s gadget rich environment. Do you think its empowering, or does it lead to expecting that its all going to be easy?

There’s been much criticism of independent pattern makers lately. Some of it might be justified. This post claims to have found plagiarism. It’s not the first time its been suggested that some newer pattern makers are drawing round old patterns. If true, its not exactly cricket is it? Calling out commercial copying is a fair cop.

Some criticism though, is along the lines of ‘this pattern was a bad fit on the half dozen  bloggers who made it’ . That may not be a fair complaint.  Have we started to expect fitting to be plain sailing because so much else is relatively easy? I spent this week on a couple of common fit issues.

 First, fabric related fit problems. 

Have you noticed how no matter how carefully you measure and compare, fabric can throw the fit of a pattern right off? Knits are the worst offenders – even when two fabrics have apparently have the same stretch they can behave differently.

Batting off the ease I used in last week’s sportswear top, (size14, zero ease) I made a simple tee shirt (size12,  4cms ease) in a knitted noil of about the same stretch. They should have had a similar fit if there were any measurement logic in the game.  Verdict -indifferent  fit,  baggy in places and at the same time having drag lines to the bust point and the dreaded front hem raise.

So then I made another (12, zero ease, but bust darts). Verdict – good fit.  Its not all in the measurements. The noil jersey and the cotton jersey I used last week have similar stretch, but fit differently.

Second, shooting in the dark fit 

This closely echoes the pattern maker’s dilemma. Fit a theoretical model (or in this case far distant actual person) with non standard measurements.  I got these steps done this week.

Pad out size 12 dressform to approximate extra 2 inches of front bodice measurement -a different cup size.

Drape pattern for garment support structure and transfer it to paper.

Make up test support pattern, pin out alterations.

Tentatively drape a piece of fabric over it to see if the finished lines will marry up with the support structure.

But will it fit?

 

 

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Suit Yourself

Its finished! In the end I decided to leave the front edge to edge, just working a concealed fastening to keep it together, and skipped the pockets. Enough already.

Suit with velvet trim

Suit with velvet trim

 

Photographed in five second break from freezing downpour. Sorry, there was no time to fuss about coordinating accessories!

To recap the jacket construction, its a simple shoulder princess line, not interfaced, lined with bias cut satin. The edges are faced to the right side with a wavy edged piece of deep green velvet, top stitched. The skirt is bog standard straight skirt cut, with no side seams – all the shaping in darts. I have about four inches of ease in the pattern at bust level, which is enough to get it over a couple of fine knit jumpers in this jersey fabric with slight stretch.

This week I also made a long sleeved Tee shirt roughly basing the design on a sleeveless tee I made earlier.

T shirt with shoulder drape

earlier version

This version has a simpler pattern construction with no twist.

tee with contrast bands

teeneckline is a shaped band which incorporates one side of the bust darting, the other side being formed into three small tucks.

Its in a moderate stretch cotton lycra jersey in black and green, very easy to wear and yoga friendly.  This daft pose attempts to show green diagonal swish .

side panels

side panels

 

I’m editing this to add a note about how I did the neckline bit. Both the outer pieces and the facing of the band were interfaced with a fusible keeping the fusible to the finished size (that is without seam allowances). The dart and tucks were done in the black front. When I did this I made up the band by stitching front to back and stitched the shoulder seams, but honestly this was just being pedantic. You can more easily leave shoulder seams until after you have applied the bands. To do the curve at the front band I stitched from the point to the shoulder on the short side and pulled it off the machine. Then I put the needle into a couple of stitches back from the point and stitched the second, long side, swivelling and cutting at the corner.

The facing pieces were stitched at the shoulders, obviously, stitched RS together, turned and stitched in the ditch. If I’d been less lazy I might have switched to a double needle and top stitched round the curve instead to hold the facing. That could look good.

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