Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Party dress update

I'm at the stage where I'm sewing in the lining. I did a proper "couture" dress (not really couture but meh).

This was the dress as I let it hang on Sunday night:

The bodice is made from my sloper, and it has a dropped waist. It is underlined in silk organza. The skirt is underlined in China silk (a particularly nice one!), and cut on the bias.

The front currently hits me mid-thigh, and the back mid calf. I'll put the back up a bit I think. Hemming using narrow hems.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Front bodice placement

A fairly brief post tonight to ask my readers: what do you think of this bodice placement?

The outline in the picture is the front bodice (green wins), and I was trying pretty hard to place the big flowers away from the top of the darts.

I have two options:
1. Leave as is. Easy and I got the grain right, which isn't easy in this silk crepe. The darker area, together with the two big flowers, hit at the empire waist
2. Move the whole thing up a bit, so the big flowers and the blackish area in thr fabric hit at my waist (indicated by the middle of the darts). Advantage: darker area around the waist is a good optical illusion.

What do you think? I'm leaning towards (2) which somewhat sucks because I already basted the organza to the fabric at the bottom of the bodice. At least it was hand basting.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Sneak peek at the finished Jebs / other musings

Mr T has said he will absolutely, positively NOT model these for me, so I'll just do a construction post later in the week.

In the meanwhile, here's a sneak peek at parts of the finished item:

I'm really happy with how everything turned up!

I'm also planning to use my sloper to make a party dress, for a fancy affair I have coming up in 10 days (*gulp* last minute sewing).

This is my original inspiration - I drew this 3 weeks ago:

I upgraded the design to this in the meanwhile:

  • one shoulder design
  • second shoulder will have a wide strap covered in smocked silk chiffon (might or might not iron that one - it looks like scales if you iron!)
  • waist seam
  • band below waist to high hip also covered in smocked silk chiffon (a bit like this)
  • high-low skirt, with maybe a godet in the skirt piece (not sure about that one)
  • from the "bare" shoulder (not really bare), a draped silk chiffon drop to the waist - this will catch in the side seam of the band
Let's see how I fare in doing all this....

Friday, 18 July 2014

Making the Jeb Trousers: sewing in 30 degree weather

It is really hot around here, and I'm loving it! Of course, sewing with the windows closed (mosquitoes), with a steam iron, a TV and a computer makes the experience a wee bit difficult but I'm not complaining...

My sewing room is a bit cramped, but I like it. My cutting table is sharing a desk with my old computer (now I just use it to Chormecast stuff like Craftsy courses to the TV). The pressing station is what's cramping everything up really, but I don't have anywhere else to put it so it has to do.  It's way better than the previous incarnation of my sewing room - a bit of the dining room table - where I always had to move the machine around when I wasn't using it!

I was busy with other things all week, so the cut-last-Sunday Jebediah trousers have been sitting in my sewing room, waiting for a free evening so I could get to them. I regret nothing, I had a very good week, with a pretty good grill on Tuesday and a lively night out in Zurich on Wednesday.

Anyway, I still need to pick up a trouser zipper for these, and some grey topstiching thread. I didn't lose much, since you can't do much before doing the zipper.

I think the instructions have you do the outseams first, then the inseam, crotch seam and then the zipper, but that just sounds harder to me. I think the easiest order of construction is inseam, crotch seam, zipper then outseams - that way, almost everything is sewed in the straight. You also don't cut any corners on the central part, which needs really hardy seams, but you can baste the outseams together to check fit. Hopefully this line of reasoning will actually work.

This is where I am at:

Of course, making trousers means that you do lots of things twice. That includes French seams on pockets. I thought about using cream thread for the pockets, but at least one of the visible stitch lines (the diagonal one) would still be in black, since it's visible on the right side of the fabric, so I figured it wasn't going to change much in the end. I finished both front pockets tonight - it took me about an hour and a half - actually this is the one reason I don't like price tags on self-made things. If you put a price on something, you have to consider everything, including time spent and materials, even hardware depreciation!

I'm was hoping to finish this this weekend - however, Mr T has requested a Laughing Man logo (complete with writing) for the back pockets. Now that's something you can't find in ready to wear. It will be an achievement in itself if I manage to get it done! I think I have to practice first though, so it might take quite a while to finish everything.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

A dream of (silvery) summer

We had a bit of sun over the weekend, so I took the opportunity to take pictures of another make from the last month or so.

Disclaimer: despite my last garment post being roughly a month ago, I actually sewed, sewed, sewed this month and have no less than 3 (or 4?) things to photograph. I also have plans for three more things: a pair of linen trousers for Mr T (already cut!), and for me a party dress  (I'm making the pattern on this one too) and a work dress. And that's just from full lengths of fabric!

Let me not digress, and present you with an obligatory auto-awesome of my new Afternoon Blouse:

Silly auto-awesome cuts off my head and I can't fix it!

This version is 100% linen that I bought in my grandma's town. It is light-weight, so something that doesn't have much structure is better suited I thought. I managed to squeeze both this and a shift dress from about 2 meters of fabric. I'll try to take pictures of the shift dress for my next post.

I really fell in love with the shade of gray - it's rather perfect for summer, and goes with everything, especially my Totoro jeans. I style it with the jeans for "casual" outings... including work :)... and having recently discovered that one can wear scarves in a way that doesn't scream "I'm over 50" (hopefully; I might feel like I'm 50 inside which would explain the newly-found acceptability of such an accessory but truth be told I'd rather not dwell on the idea for too long), I started wearing those too - this blouse works with every single scarf I own.

Pattern-wise, this version incorporates the changes I mentioned in my last post on slopers. I'm happy to report that the front wedge is gone.In a happy turn of events, with the removal of the wedge, the V-neck also sits better.

Here's a side-by-side comparison of the two makes:

The linen wears quite well, although being linen it's quite wrinkly. I didn't do anything like underlining, because I wanted this to be a simple top. As before, no swayback, and I'm really grateful that this pattern doesn't require that particular alteration:

For the facing, I used a matching grey cotton since I didn't have enough linen for that as well. I used the overcast stitch on my machine to finish the edges for it, but I wasn't very happy:

... So I decided to turn under and topstich for the rest of the blouse. I find this is a decent finish. It also makes for a fully topstitched garment, and roughly an extra hour of sewing. I used cream thread, which is invisible from afar but an interesting detail close by.

One benefit of topstitching everything is that I didn't have to tack down the facing, since it got caught it:

For the button, I used a fairly heavy sun button I picked up in a local shop called Manor. I bought this about a year ago, before I moved to Switzerland:

It's quite pretty, and it matches the general summer-sun-happy state that I get from this blouse.

How about you? Do you have a favorite style or fabric type that makes you think of summer?

Friday, 11 July 2014

Using the sloper: altering my afternoon blouse pattern

I sadly didn't take pictures while applying my sloper to my Licorice dress make, but after I made it I had a bit of leftover linen which I though would be just right for another Afternoon Blouse.

You may remember that my first Afternoon blouse was an almost success: it fit fairly well, including no need for a swayback, but it had some fabric pooling in front. I decided to apply the sloper to the pattern to see how I fare.

I have a half-sloper, in that mine has seam allowances at both the back, the side seams, and the shoulder seam. These are a leftover from the muslin period, where I needed them, but actually I find them quite useful for altering patterns as well, because it's easier to see how much the pattern really differs. If I need to use the sloper as a pattern piece, I fold in the seam allowances, and copy it, then make alterations and add new seam allowances.

This is my back sloper, overlayed on the back of the Afternoon blouse. As the pattern doesn't have a CB seam, I ignored the one on my sloper as well.

You can see that my sloper almost exactly matches the afternoon blouse (minus the dart!), except in three areas:

1. in the underarm area, the sloper is slightly larger
2. the sloper is too long at the side seam, and has a strange curve
3. the pattern is wider than the sloper at the bottom

Obviously, the sloper has a dart which does not exist in the blouse, but that just becomes pattern ease.

I'll talk about (2) first - this is a fairly big curve, and it is mostly due to the sway back I added to the original sloper. What would happen in real life if I used this sloper to make a garment without altering it, is that the side seams would a bit lower than (both) the center seams - why I know this in a future post! About half an inch or so. I don't think this would be noticeable for tops, but it is certainly something to consider with dresses, especially if they have a waist seam - it just looks weird if made like that - ask me how I know :)

I decided to ignore (3) - in fact I made the pattern piece even even wider with the changes I made below.

For (1), I decided to alter the Afternoon blouse pattern, but to be honest I didn't need to do so. I could have just as easily left the back as it was - it was a VERY close match to my own back.

However, I did alter it so this was my process: I made an inverted L-shaped cut just next to the seam, below the armscye:

Then I slashed:

Spread and taped back together:

Redrew the armscye (note - I did this in the front too!)

And the hem line:
And this was the result:

For the front, the overlay looks like this:

And we notice two things:
1. the waist seam is not in the right position, shown both by my sloper's waist seam, but also by the fact that the pattern is almost two inches longer than the sloper at the front!
2. there is A LOT more ease than in the back - this is normal, it is the pattern ease

Remember - the sloper has very very little ease, so the back was quite fitted, while the front was quite loose. Of course, while being worn, in practice there's ease everywhere, and logically that must be because the side seam migrates - although I can't say I noticed that. I'll check next time I wear it.

Given that (2) was expected, I proceeded with altering the front. I chose to do this above the waist seam, but below the big flaps. The dots mark the stitch lines:

I cut along the traced lines: the perpendicular green lines replace the dots above and are the stitch lines, and they are where I measured the amount that had to be taken in.

Then I taped the pattern shut, by pivoting at the side seam stitch line, you can just above see the pivot below against the french curve:

Because this was essentially a sway-front, I had to redraw the grainline as well. For the grainline, I had two options: make the grainline parallel to the center front (extend the bottom line), or do the opposite, and have the CF on a partial bias. I decided to have the CF match the grainline, because I think that gives the top a better shape. In the end, this turned out to be the right decision.

And this is what the pattern looks like overlayed with the sloper after the alteration. I also redrew the armscye to match the back.

Result: the big gap in the front is gone.

The big reveal - in my next post, if the weather is nice enough to take pictures!

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Threads Insider Review

I used to have a normal Threads subscription... Then, the credit card I had used to pay for the subscription expired, and the Threads system managed to mess something up.

Long story short, after talking to their support I somehow ended up with no subscription, and then proceeded to get a Threads Insider online thing instead, because they finally - 2 years later !!! - got an Android app.

Now, I would not normally bother with companies that mess up quite so much, but Threads is an extremely good magazine, so I thought it was worth making an exception.

For the uninitiated, a Threads subscription comes with: paper edition of the magazine, as well as nifty access to all their online resources, including the magazine. Threads Insider is the online version of this - no print magazine.

For the online resources, you need to use the web interface. It's ok to search (at least I always seem to find what I want), but quite difficult to figure out subscription metadata - I just generally click around until I find it. They also seem to have two tiers of account data - one on threadsmagazine.com, and one on taunton.com. I am not quite sure what the difference between the two is, and clicking the interface just randomly jumps between the two. Either way, it only matters once a year, when I need to renew said subscription.

The text when you get the subscription says "Digital access to our most recent issues of Threads", but I seem to have access to magazines going back to my first print subscription. I'm not sure if that wording means they'll change their minds in the future - I would be very disappointed if that were the case, so let's hope it doesn't happen.

The online bits have, besides the very informative articles that you can read about on the web, some interesting extras. First, you get access to their videos, including stuff they make other people pay for, like the Teach Yourself to Sew series (I only have access to Version 4 in my account so it might not be all).

Then, you get access to this 360 view of garments. For the mobile app, they also have 360 views of sewing rooms and the like - basically everything that would rend itself to 360 degree viewing :) Here's an example of what the web 360 interface looks like - the Android one is a lot better.

My only real complaint is with the Android app:
The 5 issues I downloaded are using more than 25% of the storage I have on this phone. **sigh** This means I must go and manually delete older issues or my phone will start complaining.

Still, I think this is really worth it, especially if you live outside the US. When I was in the UK it could take a month to get the print copy, now I get it instantly.

PS I now have the auxetically.com domain for this blog - you should get an automatic redirection, let me know if things don't work out.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Vogue 1247 - perfect little skirt!

I'm a bit late to jump on the bandwagon with this one, but it is a pretty nifty pattern. I was in London last week and bought some teal silk chiffon just to make the blouse as well!

Obligatory AutoAwesome

Black linen skirt with pockets and piping. I seem to like this type of blue quite a lot, I had loads of stuff on similar shades: piping is pre-made, pockets are from my remnant basket and bias tape from stash (my notions stash needs some work, it's running dangerously low on most stuff!)

Construction wise, I made a few changes. I underlined the back piece with silk organza, mostly to help with the wrinkling. It only partially works , but it's not too bad overall. :-)

I left out the waistband because Vogue designer patterns have this tendency to only fit me in the waist if I add a waistband (go figure!), but I can wear them at the high hip line if I don't add the waistband - I much prefer my skirts at the high hip line so this is what works for me.

Back view of the skirt

I didn't line it... yet.  I had some silk habutai in white and Bordeaux, but I thought the lining should be blue like the rest of the skirt underthings and since my local Bernina store doesn't stock silk of any sort (?!?!), I decided to reassess this situation come tights wearing season. I prefer to wear natural fabrics so I'm reluctant to mix linen with any type of polyester or whatever lining is made of (except for curpo bemberg which is made of rayon but where to get that from!).

Side view
Since the skirt is so short, I tried to save as much space as possible at both the waist and the hem.

For the waist, I used blue seam binding, which I then turned and topstiched. I wasn't very happy with the blue, so I also added some grosgrain on top - edge stitched it close to the edge (heh), then topstiched about 1cm down, over the original topstitching. The grosgrain acts as a "mock" waist stay - it extends past the zipper and catches with small snaps. There's also a more traditional button + chain attached to the blue ribbon.  The grosgrain is about 2cm in width so I can attach a lining there with minimal fuss later.

Waistband treatment

For the hem, I added pretty ribbon, turned and stitched. I think I lost less than 1cm at the hem. In case you're wondering, the ribbon came from John Lewis.

Hem - ribbon, turned and topstiched
The zipper is a normal one because I didn't have a black invisible zipper. I stitched it down to the underlining. It doesn't look that great from the outside sadly, but at least I matched the yoke lines well.

Zipper - wrong & right side
Seam finishing wise, I really wanted to do as much flat felling as I could on this one, but I had done trouble with the underlined back pieces, so had to resort to the recommended bias binding for most seams. I used bias binding on the pockets, as well as all back seams, and I flat felled the side seams towards the back - trimmed down the underlined seams and covered them with the non-underlined ones. In fact, I trimmed all seams as much as I could.

Seam finishes
I like the pockets but after wearing it a few times, I discovered that they tend to sag quite a bit (even on the dummy) especially if I put my hands in my pockets. I think the solution there is to tack them down, which I plan on doing at some point in the not-too-distant future.

All in all, a success so far. Mr T specifically had me keep my hands out of the pockets for the pictures :)

Friday, 20 June 2014


I hung around for a long time just doing normal fitting but after the latest round of fitting I figured I'd better give slopers a go.

I'm sure there are countless books covering this, but I used a Threads article instead. This is from Threads no 165/March 2013:

I actually have this magazine twice (although I'm not sure where the second copy is). Threads is a great magazine, but Taunton (the company that edits it)  hasn't impressed me with their subscription-handling. In their defense, this is the only one they sent me two of.

Since I'm still missing a sewing friend, I did all measurements myself - this means I probably have the right front measurements, but I'm a bit skeptical about the back, so we'll see... I'm also not convinced that the swayback had been taken care of, but that's what muslins are for.

I'm hoping to get sewing this muslin tomorrow evening as Mr T has different plans... If that works, I would like to make a Licorice dress (from the Colette book) over the weekend. Let's not get ahead of ourselves though, I'm very curious to see how the back will turn out before deciding this a success.

This is what the sloper looks like. Not really fancy. The method is to take measurements and then construct using just geometry.

How about you? Do you use a sloper ? How did you make it?

Friday, 13 June 2014

Oh my! I can tuck this one in (aka The Finished Belacarra Blouse)

It is done! Well, it has been done since Saturday, but it took me forever to get pictures out of the camera. Without great ado, here's the finished product:

Pretty neat, no? Thank you Google Plus for that "auto-awesome" image.

The main fabric is a cotton/silk mix I picked up during Rachel's meetup in May last year. It's pretty nice to work with but I had a terrible time with thread tension. It's pretty-see through, meaning this top needs to be worn with proper undergarments. The contrast fabric has been in the scraps basket since 2010 - I bought it I think at Harts in Santa Cruz, and I used it to make a dress which I then proceeded to never ever wear. It some sort of cotton voile.

I am quite happy with the blouse - but that was really only a result of wearing it on Tuesday, because when I was done with it last weekend I never wanted to see it again.

In fact, it is a miracle I didn't throw it away during construction. I made every possible mistake on this make, most of them beginner mistakes or "you're not paying attention mistakes". Out of my scarred memories: stitching the back together correctly but attaching the front sleeve to the front wrong-sides together, then having to make fake flat felled seams on the outside:

Attaching one of the back pieces the other way around and wondering why I had to ease it in. Stitching the silk organza selvage I used as a neck stay on the right side. I also noticed most mistakes after I trimmed seams, so I had the extra effort of seam allowances not matching, sob. No wonder I didn't want to see it again. But Mr T liked it so I thought I'd give it a try.

Regarding fit (post here), the bib effect is gone, and the back also looks good, which is what makes this a win. However, I somehow messed up the shoulder seam because now it's all in the back. I also feel there is just too much fabric around the join before the front and the front sleeve.  I'm thinking to put the pattern together again, using my underbust measurement, then do an FBA. What do you think, is that likely to work? Or am I crazy and that's what raglan sleeves are supposed to look like and I should just keep using the current version?

Now, I'm not a person who tucks things in - I never did that, I'm part of the everything on top generation, but I'm quite glad to say I wore this for a whole day tucked in and it worked out pretty great: I guess I like the "blouse" effect.

I also tried to wear it over my lower-ish rise jeans whose band hits at the high hip: that didn't work quite as well - it felt as if there wasn't enough ease in there to go over jeans. I have this same problem with a silk dress that I cut up to blouse length: I can wear it tucked in and it feels fine, but not any other way. I think that says more about jeans than anything else. Either way, beware, if you don't plan to tuck this one in you might need to blend to a bigger size at the hip.

Finally, about the pattern. I can't really say much about how it's drafted, because I don't know about that stuff. I have my usual swayback / bib problem, but that's just me. I didn't need a FBA. For reference, the neck binding was too long - I was really careful, so I didn't think I stretched it while handling. It's easy to put together. I think it would work for beginners.

Overall a good make, but as Mr T commented, it's very "for work" (well, software engineer work; it's not exactly "corporate").

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Belacarra: a muslin

I wasn't going to make a muslin of this blouse but then I remembered the bib effect and did some measurements that helped me conclude that the pattern waist is not as far away from the top as my real waist.

All said and done. I cut a size 8 based on bust, and ended up doing extensive alterations.

As a side thought, I am considering cutting blouses based on my under bust measurement rather than bust but truth be told I'm not sure. Everyone says if upperbust is more than 1" different than bust cut according to upperbust and do a SBA/FBA but actually my under bust measurement is the widely different one. I might try that in the future and see how it goes.

Anyway, back to the muslin and the extensive alterations.

First, the front.

Here, I did two things:
* moved the front shoulder forward by half an inch at 3" from the seam, and then back to original position
* took half an inch on either side from the sleeves, tapering to nothing 7inches below
* made "the bib alteration", which is the same as a swayback.

This is the pattern piece now. Rather than removing the piece left when truing up the bib, I added it back.

Then, the back:

I did three things:
* swayback, 1" 2/8
* removed fabric at the shoulder level, similar to a swayback, 1" 2/8
* removed wedge of fabric when truing up pattern

This is what the piece looks now:

I'm reasonably confident about all this, so I'm cutting into fashion fabric next, but I'll baste everything together first to make sure no surprises appear.