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‘Well that didn’t work’

13 Nov

Let’s take a look at makes that didn’t work! I did a similar exercise years ago, and discovered every single make that didn’t work came down to either poor finishing or poor fitting, so I took some proper lessons. Best sewing thing I’ve done since actually learning to sew!

Ever since then I’ve keep a list of what I make and how it worked, but it’s good to take a specific look at what doesn’t work, to see what’s to be learnt. Feel free to comment honestly, whether to point out things I’ve missed, or just tell me I’m over-analysing 😛 (And please excuse the mirror-selfies. My christmas wish list is basically ‘GOOD CAMERA‘)

Oh noes! My beautiful jacket? I’m so pleased with myself for having pulled the jacket off, but not so pleased with the actual jacket. Important distinction!

The fit just … Not Happy! Too big in the waist, and I’m not sure I can actually fit it close enough to look good either. The huge waist is the pattern itself. What looks like an hourglass pattern from the line drawings …

Photo

is, when you look at the actual pattern pieces, a box with godets at the waist. And I’m not a box with hips. Look at these piccies  – boxes with godets (with apologies to the women who were so kind to do pattern reviews on it). Gah!

I also adjusted the neckline, the original long rectangular neckline was going to look awful when I wore it open.

The peplum-effect is off too. I based the shape on this Burdastyle top, that I’ve made before and found it quite pleasing, but I didn’t pull it off in the jacket. (May not be clear from the pictures.)

113_0812_b_large

Lessons – good

  • I can actually sew with cotton velveteen in this climate! Weehee!
  • A colour that suits me so beautifully draws attention away from poor fit and shape.

Lessons – bad

  • I’m mad at myself for not going with my gut instinct about the fit not being good for my body.
  • More than two major changes to a pattern (waist, peplum, neckline) … might be better looking for a pattern closer to what I actually want?

The A-line knit skirt in the jacket picture got chopped up to make t-shirt yarn. Why? The style was stupidly hard to style nicely on my figure, and the fabric faded badly.

Lesson:

Green dress with roses 

Disclaimer: I ADORE this dress. It’s easy to wear, cool, comfortable, pretty pretty fabric. Looks gorgeous irl, takes me anywhere.

It just isn’t what I intended! It was supposed to be a loose slouchy casual dress, but irl it’s rather dressy. The slouchy look on the pattern envelope isn’t the style, it’s that it doesn’t fit properly on the model. *sigh* Caught out.

I drafted the collar myself. The shoulders ended up too wide – I have to push my bra straps to the edge so they don’t show. (And if they show they look terrible) The collar doesn’t sit well over the buttons.

Lessons:

  • Pretty pretty fabric (especially poplin) is hard to make slouchy and casual! It is extra-important to use a casual pattern to pull it off. Or casual fabric. Perfectly matching hand-crochet trim and buttons aren’t gonna help either.
  • Duh, necklines duh. I made this one up myself, so it was my bad.

No idea about the collar. Use a proper pattern? Only extend the collar to the beginning of the button placket?

A fitting issue –

Guess what it is! (It isn’t the waist being too tight, trust me, these fit me in the waist.)

Lesson:

I still don’t know how to fit my little short back (or back waist?) properly! However, looking at other photos where it is fitted nicely they can be summed up in one word: Empire line.

I think it might be worth a post unto itself actually, comparing what is well-fitted, and what billows, and try to figure out WHY!

Beautiful! But …

I even managed to fit the back nicely!

What’s wrong? The damned thing kept creeping up over my bust and towards the back. The front nearly choked me. And yes, the shoulder seam was supposedly in the right place.

Lesson:

I don’t know! Another top, from this pattern, did it too. (Yeah, vintage, from an op-shop, why do you ask? :-D)

What was happening with the above pattern was not enough fabric across the front shoulders, so it was ‘borrowing’ from the wider bust area, which of course was lower down, so the whole thing slid backwards. Is this what my lovely white top did? I don’t know. I just know I wish I did know to avoid it ever again! Because a similar thing happened with my ‘walkaway dress’ muslin which was actually a top.

That’s enough! I might do more in my sewing visual diary, see what I come up with. I think I’ll do the opposite next blog post and look at why things work!

ETA: Just saw this post on the Sew Sorry So Fat blog. I might use that template (being nice and asking first because I’m just a naturally courteous person so they ain’t got nothing to snark at ;-P )

What is intermediate sewing anyway?

14 Sep

The recent discussions round the place on beginner vs intermediate sewing information have gotten me thinking too. What IS intermediate or even advanced sewing anyway?

I don’t think it’s about advanced sewing techniques or couture techniques. Not for me, anyway. These are just technical sewing skills, some harder than others. A good instruction book (of the many I’ve found in op-shops) will teach me what I need for these skills.

For me, advanced sewing involves something completely different than learning yet another sewing technique. It is about harnessing and applying creativity to my sewing. About understanding how I create, why I create and how to do so most effectively apply it to my sewing. It’s also about utilising skills of maths, proportion, size, an understanding of the properties of the materials you are using, (does it sound like I come from a scientific and engineering family?!) and applying these to the creative mix as well. Not a lot of activities so neatly combine two very differing ways of using your brain like technical and maths skills with creativity. I think the way it does is what makes it so immensely satisfying.

I find almost all the beginner sewing things online irrelevant to me. Sure, there are gaps in my skills, but most of them are because I just don’t enjoy a certain kind of sewing that requires those skills. Learning them would be pointless for me unless I branch out into sewing something unusual to me, like my recent velvet jacket make. I found all I needed in instructions to make it successfully online, and by reading the pattern instructions, and delving into my sewing technique book collection.

The reason why that jacket was challenge for me wasn’t the technicality of the sewing, it was coming up with a design that appealed, that fitted my jacket-needs. I then sought a pattern that seemed the best suited to being adjusted to fit the vision I had. I looked for and found some fabric that would work with it, having ‘auditioned’ quite a lot of different kinds of fabrics. I started sewing, I found a few problems with my original concept that I hadn’t forseen, and used my experience and knowledge of patterns and fabric to solve the problems, and eventually came up with a jacket that was 95% close to the vision I had originally had. (Minus 5 % due to the fit not being quite what I wanted but only 5% because it’s very fixable!)

As I’ve just shown, I am sewing with a different focus than beginners and even slightly more experienced sewers have. They seem to be focussed on sewing skill acquisition. (It’s been a loooong time since I’ve been a sewing beginner, so I’m only going on what seems to be popular online for beginners.) I also seem to be sewing with a different focus to the supposedly ‘advanced’ sewing information, such as couture techniques.  In the end, to me, they are just yet more fancy techniques.

For me the techniques themselves long ago took on less focus. They are simply tools to help me translate my creative concepts into reality. What’s important now, and has been since my late teens are things like how to interpret the fabric, interpret the personal style (for whoever you’re sewing for), the pattern, fit (not in a beginner way of making measurements fit and doing FBA’s but as a more fluid and creative concept of how the garment is going to behave on the wearer as they wear it, doing the things they are going to do while wearing it), finding ways round issues like the desired fabric being so expensive you could only afford half a metre of it, or that the perfect zip colour doesn’t come in the zip style you want.

It becomes about creativity, and creativity has its own dynamics – and a creative person needs to work out how to maximise their own creativity, how they personally get from start to finish of a creative project, how they maintain the enthusiasm that will help carry them through the boring bits of a project. Fundamentally it’s about getting the most satisfaction out of their creativity. It’s also as important to know how to not stifle their creativity it in some way, and conversely, manage the outflow of creative ideas so they don’t overwhelm the person to the point of stalling them entirely.

Sewing has taught me SO much about creativity generally and my own personal creativity. Having sewn steadily since about age 8, I’ve gone on to learn how transferable those skills are to other creative pursuits, eg dance, music, writing. And most of life really.

I’m figuring it’s people who are very creative that are likely to be the ones who want to sew at more than beginner level. They also probably have creative skills already that they could learn to apply to sewing – and vice versa. I think seeing sewing in this context could also help people who feel guilty about the size of their fabric and pattern stashes (There’s SO much of that on the sewing blogosphere), to feel less like they’re being Naughty somehow, and more like they’re simply making sure as creative beings that they have the tools with which to be creative. It may even help them work out ways to create stashes full of things that DO inspire them, and that they DO want to sew, rather than filled with the latest pretty fabric they couldn’t resist buying (I may or may not be refering to myself too, in this ;-P)

Sewing also requires some very technical, engineery and mathematical skills that are not of the ‘traditional woman’s skills’ type. Looking at what those are and how they apply – and if it isn’t something you’re good at, how to work around your own ‘weaknesses’ and get that part of the job done anyway (though from what I’ve observed, most serious sewers are strong in technical engineery skills too.) The same skills for harnessing your creativity also apply to the engineery things. For eg, figuring out the best way to do an SBA for a particular pattern style you’ve never worked with before.

And working with the two different things, creativity and engineery together has an entire new set of lessons to learn, like when is it best to get all technical to the last millimetre or when to go with your creative wild impulse and throw measuring to the winds.

Some of the blogs I enjoy the most are ones that show these elements of the sewist’s process. Less with the how, and more with the why and the inspiration and the struggles and triumphs as they grapple the reality of fabric and pattern and body that is or isn’t living up to their original vision.

 

Yes, intermediate sewing skills are very different to beginners! And not in the obvious ways. It becomes more about the experience of sewing and wearing your own sewn clothes, why you choose to do what you do with fabric, thread, patterns and stitches and less about how to do ‘perfect bound buttonholes’ or ‘how to set in the perfect placket zip.’

Do I sound like I think I could write an intermediate sewing book myself? YES! Do I have the health to do so? No 😦 Would I like someone who has the health and ability, to actually write it? Hell yeah!

There IS a gap in the market. I’m really hoping someone will write one, or more! One that satisfies a lot more than a book made up of more ‘advanced’ sewing techniques would.

 

Jacket sewing is hard work! :-P And a question on jacket hemming.

26 Aug

Can’t please me! It’s scary or it’s hard work! Sheesh, any other complaints, Imogheena???

Actually I have a question to the more seasoned jacket-sewers out there. How do you hem the jacket and lining? Is it best to sew the lining to the jacket hem somehow, or better to hem jacket and lining separately with the lining able to swing free? I am worried if I sewed it to the jacket hem it would sag down below the hem of the jacket over time. If I sew it separately then I can sew it a bit shorter than the jacket hem, and if it sags I can fix it easily.

Which is best? or some other option this jacket-sewing novice doesn’t know of?

Anyway, I have been finding sewing this a bit of hard slog. It’s such a BIG project, bigger than most of the things I sew and I’m starting to never want to see blue velvet ever again. Oops! That wasn’t my intention… I’m getting through it though, I’ve just today joined the lining and the jacket. That was big stuff. To do from now on:

Press the front/neckline jacket and lining seam.
Cut the armscye lower, adjust sleeve, set sleeve in, bind sleeve seam.
Put cuffs on the sleeve. (Maybe do that before setting sleeve in?)
Make buttonholes for front and sleeve cuff.
Make back belt to pull waist in. Sew it on, and two extra buttons to allow for weight changes.
Hem jacket and lining.

Tomorrow I’ll focus on the sleeves. If I could have them finished by the end of the day (Can’t really sew once it’s dark as the fabric is so dark it needs natural light to enable me to see properly) then I’d be a Very Happy Vegemite!

I’ve got a week to finish because I’m flying out monday afternoon in a week. Oh oh oh! how exciting!

Here are piccies taken just before I sewing the lining to the outer fabric.
Outer jacket:

Lining:

This is the sleeve and the cuff above it. Not very exciting, but it gives a pretty good example of the true colour of the velvet and also how it reflects the light. Oh ok, I’m not reeeelly never wanting to see it again, no not reeeelly. It IS gorgeous gorgeous fabric 🙂

The jacket was making me look terribly short and squat, but then when I put the sleeve on my arm and held it in the right position against the jacket armscye, it suddenly looked fantastic. The sleeve defined the waist beautifully, probably because you could then see there was a gap between the waist and the sleeve.

I’m rather relieved – I know if I don’t feel comfortable in my clothes I’ll never pick them to wear when I’m bleary-eyed and sleepy in the morning. Short and squat doesn’t do much for my confidence, and I’ve put a LOT of effort into this jacket. Too much to throw it away by not wearing it coz I feel ugly in it. Or only wearing it because I’m cold but have nothing nicer. So yay for sleeves helping to define the waist!

I think too, I’m just not used to seeing 2 layers of clothing on me. So much bulk…

Eh, who cares! I’m on holiday next week!

Back to the sewing machine…

Vintage pattern pledge: late but doing it anyway!

5 Aug

I’m joining in the Vintage Pattern Pledge, for the same reason A Stitching Odyssey created the pledge – I love collecting vintage patterns, (mostly from the local op-shops here) but don’t use many of them. The few I have used have been really good, and ended up in some cases becoming TNTs. It’s kind of silly to collect them all and then not use them. Especially when I’ve had such great luck with the few I have used. (might find some more TNTs in there!

I’m going for 5 by the end of this year, but won’t beat myself up if I manage less. And I’ve decided to add in three little clauses of my own to the pledge.

1) Use vintage patterns (or vintage repro, I’m not fussy) that I haven’t used before.

2 Use fabrics I’ve had sitting in my stash forever, that are too good for any pattern! You know, the ones you look at and think ‘one day I’ll find a pattern that does justice to this fabric.’ And you’re still thinking it 5 yrs later. Uh, 10 in some cases… *sheepish* (Well, when your brother sends you 1.5m of silk georgette from Como in Italy, specifically chosen as a present because legend has it that Como was the first place in the west that produced silks, in a stunning green and blue floral pattern, what pattern IS good enough for that???) (I’ve long ago accepted I’ll never cut it. I just take it out every time I ‘shop my stash’ and pet it lovingly.)

3) Make things that fit in with my wardrobe plan, so I’ll actually end up wearing them.

Well, here’s the patterns I’m intending to use:

I’m working on learning the skills to be able to sew my own underwear. I’m good with the stretch-knit undies. I’m working on the woven undies (They’re so similar I don’t really ‘need’ to work on them but I am having fun and gaining experience, so hey!). After that I’m going to work on ‘bralettes’ given a lot of my life is spent in them. Lastly will be full-on underwire bras.

This comes under the bralette category. I’m thinking the red halter second from the top, and/or the one right at the bottom. I’ll probably use up some scraps rather than cutting in to a bigger piece of fabric. That’s still very Virtuous though, I feel.

Simplicity Creative Group - Misses' Vintage 1950's Bra Tops

While I’m still on the bralette subject, I have this pattern from Mrs Depew Vintage. It’s on my bralette-sewing list. I may get to it this year. So pretty!

Vintage Sewing Pattern 1940's Pauline Matching Bra and Tap Panties PDF Print at Home -INSTANT DOWNLOAD-

 

I want to make some of this style of french knickers, just out of curiousity as to how those gussets work, and how comfortable they might be. Don’t know what fabric yet, either. I’d love to make them up in silk I have had for three or four years, but realistically I’ll use something less expensive to tral it.

These lovlies are from New Vintage Lady on Etsy. I love her shop!

NVL 1940s bra and tap panties pattern set 46 by NewVintageLady

 

However for my pair, I’m going to draw up this pattern I found through pinterest. Just the undies – unless I go totally nuts and make them all up 😛 (Actually… that’s not a bad idea! They look so light, easy to wear and cool. It’s lovely and cold and dry today, but it’s August. October and the ‘build up’ *are Looming O_O )

*The Build Up is the build up to the wet season. It’s very hot, extremely humid and the only saving graces are the magnificent and awe-inspiring storms we get during this season, and – mangoes! YUM!

 

This one I found through pinterest too. Oh how I ❤ pinterest! I drew it up full-sized, based on the schema given, last night. I was presuming it would be too small for me and I’d have to make it bigger, but measuring the flat pattern, it is bigger than it looks. Worth muslining as is, at anyrate. I love that collar…

Fabric? No idea! I do have some ‘my vintage’ fabric I’ve been meaning to make up into a simple top. Like you know, meaning to for 4 yrs, heading fast towards 5! But it’s quite busy and I wonder if the details might obscure the lovely simple lines of the blouse. Or would it work if I had the inside of the collar in a plain co-ordinating fabric?

 

 

Another pinterest find. I’m planning on drafting it to my own measurements – short-sleeved of course! I’m loving the style lines of this top, however I’m not entirely sure how I’ll work my bigger-than-A cup-bust. An FBA that still keeps these style lines intact? Hmmm.

I’m not so interested in the trim. The fabric I’m planning to use (some beautiful soft satin cotton sent to my by my ‘Auntie’ Josie a few years ago) is also quite busy. Perhaps the neckline would look good in a co-ordinating plain fabric? *ponders*

Miss Conover's blouse, 1921 | via blueprairie

Lastly, I can’t decide between making a blouse like this (short sleeved and the bow lower so it’s cooler, of course)

Lovely blouse

using this pattern. 1986 IS vintage, right? The fabric that jumps out at me for this is a simple very light grey op-shop find that a burn test suggested was either pure cotten, or cotton/linen mix. It’s a soft fabric. I’m quite in love with it. And being from the op shop it’s of unknown vintage. Perfect!

Butteric 4032

 

Or do I want to do this one, using a cotton sateen of blue roses on white? Lovely! Both the pattern and fabric have been in my stash at least 4 yrs.

I think that’s all too far in the future to worry about. I may not even get there this year.

 

However what I have to start on right after finishing this post, is a jacket in blue velvet from this Bolivian Milkmaid’s Jacket from Folkwear – the bottom view, which is the traditional one. Though I cut down some of the excesses of godets, and the width of the sleeves coz I didn’t have enough fabric for the full jacket. Yikes! It took a lot O_O.

I’m heading south at the end of August and I’ll need something nice and warm. Mmm dark blue velvet Mmmm!

What I’ve learnt about sewing undies

19 Jul

Undies, knickers, panties, those things! Being an Aussie I’ll refer to them as undies, m’k?

A personal goal of mine is to make my own lingerie, inspired by the likes of Bloom’s Endless Summer, Handmade by Caroline, Sewaholic, and all the lovely patterns and blog posts on sewing lingerie to be found in the online sewing community. I figure ‘if you guys can do it, then so can I!’ Right? Right!

(I’m sure I got this at attitude from being a little sister. All my life I’ve watched my older sister do stuff, and I’m thinking ‘If SHE can do them, then so can I!’ Mum reckons this attitude always annoyed my sister no end. Poor Kylie!)

Sewing lingerie is a pretty daunting goal though, so I divided it up, starting with undies.

What do I want in a pair of undies?

I feel kinda crazy talking about the different roles of undies in my life! But there’s no point in sewing undies I won’t wear, be them ever so pretty in my lingerie draw, so bear with me?

I need to:

  • be able to walk over an hour in them
  • dance over and hour in them
  • bike ride an hour in them
  • do a pilates class in them
  • not have to adjust them just at that moment I am sighting a feral pig down the length of my arrow – or even having just gotten out of the car, for that matter
  • not have them show under my clothes
  • look suitably cute and appealing when viewed by my partner

Gosh I don’t ask much, do I!

There’s a few rtw styles that fulfil the requirements – the ubiquitous Bonds hipster bikinis(left) and Parisian knickers (right).

I can buy them fairly easily, so why am I so determined to make my own? Well, the Bonds bikinis are BORING. The Parisian Knickers are hard to find in cotton – polyester undies in this climate? No thankyou O_O. But mostly because they just don’t last long . I suspect this is a climate issue – the lycra in the fabric dies within 6 months. It happens with t-shirts with lycra in them too.

Heh, and I bet too, that now I’ve told the world how much I like them, they’ll both be discontinued by this time next year.

Oh yeah, and, I like a challenge:-)

Patterns patterns patterns

I made a pattern from each rtw style.

Next I pulled out the most likely suspect from my pattern collection, a Kwik Sew boyshorts-style pattern from an op-shop. The pattern envelope has long gone so I don’t know the pattern number, sorry 😦 However here is the pattern after I’d muslined them for a one-way stretch cotton knit. (More on muslining later.)

I also looked online for more inspiration. I fell in love with the Granny Panny from Sew Vera Venus. She offers a number of truly awesome patterns for free, including the Granny Panny.

And lastly, I have a pattern from off the internet that I’ve thrown away the original printout, and on the tracing I kept, all I wrote on it was simply ‘Pretty Things’ . I have NO idea who or what Pretty Things undies are, but if you do know, please tell me so I can a) acknowledge them properly, and b) thank them, because they are really comfortable!

What I made!

The RTW undies: When made in similar fabric to the originals, both the Parisian Knickers and the Bonds bikini were almost exactly the same as the rtw. This surprised me. I had my doubts that copying a rtw pair would produce anything much useful, but it was actually really effective. Yay!

I don’t have a picture of the me-made Bonds bikini, but could you just take my word they were very comfy? Here are the Parisian Knickers:

Photo

For these, I used stretch lace fabric found in the scrapbooking section of Officeworks. Seriously. *rather bemused* All I can say is it is a good advertisement for the value of reaching out to touch every textile you ever see 😀 It was only when touching it that it became obvious it was stretch lace. Why you’d need stretch lace for scrapbooking, I don’t know…?  The fabric is modal jersy/lycra from Dharma Trading and I’m sadly disappointed by it. It’s a nice comfy stretchy cool fabric – that pills the moment it’s washed. And I have a front loader I only use cold water with, so I am not butchering them 😦

The Kwik Sew supposed boy-shorts in one-way stretch cotton from Spotlight (This is how they ended up after adjustments to make them fullfil the Undies Requirements. Not exactly boy-shorts anymore, are they!)

My version of the Granny Panny (Oh why isn’t my photo all neat and shapely like Sew Vera Venus’s?), in a very funky purple polkadot cut a dress I found in an op-shop. I never took to the dress, but as a pair of Granny Pannies? LOVE!!!

 

The mysterious Pretty Things undies, in modal rayon/lycra from Dharma Trading, and stretch lace from Spotlight. Very comfy!

Hey Imogheena, just get to the good stuff already!

ok ok, So what have I learnt?

Patterns…

  • Why have more than one pattern? The patterns have very different layouts – some take up a lot of fold, some barely use a fold. Some are made of one big pattern (nice and easy to work with!), others two or three smaller pieces which fit on small scraps of fabric better. For eg I got 2 Parisean briefs out of a singlet top requisitioned to undies-making. If I’d used the Granny Panny or even the Bonds bikini, I’d have only gotten one pair from it. Conversely, with the modal rayon/lycra, I could get more Bonds bikinis than any other type. However it was so slithery, the Granny Panny with only one main piece, would actually have been easiest to use.
  • Crotch style (eg attached only at the sides/a seam down the centre/no seam/sandwhiched onto the front and back etc) has a huge bearing on how comfortable undies are, and there seems to be as many different versions of crotch-linings as there are undies patterns!  I found it’s pretty easy with a bit of judicious tracing and perhaps a seam added or taken away, to adjust most undies from one crotch-lining style to another. The increase in comfort a crotch-lining in your prefered style creates is well worth the effort.

Muslining undies…

  • Muslining is really really useful. And I HATE muslining, so I don’t say this lightly! Often quite small differences in stretch and recovery between fabrics can make a huge difference when on your body.
  • It works an absolute treat to literally draw with a pen where you want the exact leg-opening and waist-opening to fall on your own body! It was perhaps the most useful thing I worked out about sewing undies. Yeah! Go me!
  • If you do draw the openings on your muslin, it helps to have fabric to draw on, so cut extra length in the leg and waist openings.
  • There are tutorials out there that teach you how to adjust the pattern to different fabrics. (Using this principal in this tutorial by Cloth-habit) However they don’t take into account the lengthwise stretch or lack, of a fabric. But this is important for the comfort. You can do the same calculations for the length, but neither of these approaches necessarily made the leg opening fit well. (Noooo I’m not finicky! Honest!) I found muslining the easiest way to solve all of these issues at once.

Elastic and stretch laces…

  • The width of the stretch lace needs to be calculated into the fit. ie if the fit is perfect with 2cm wide lace, if made with 4cm lace it isn’t gonna fit right, especially through the crotch which will now be 4cm wider than drafted. Yeah I know. Obvious when spelled out, right?! Fortunately it’s easy to just cut that extra width off the pattern pieces before applying elastic.

How much elastic/ stretch lace to apply to each opening?

Like fabrics, different lingerie elastics and laces all have a different stretch and recovery. You want to get this bit right. After all a leg-opening that binds is a misery; too loose a waist and you might lose your duds, too tight and you’re back to misery. I decided the best thing to do was just experiement. Make 200 undies! (Well, not literally. I  mean the 200 zips concept) figuring eventually it would all make sense. And it did! Phew!

Firstly I simply measured each kind of elastic around the relevant body part at the taughtness that felt comfortable. Boy did that not work! Often the elastic I’d cut would be longer than the opening it was supposed to pull in. Huh? Even when it was smaller than the opening, once applied it was usually just too loose.

Eventually I realised that so long as the undies fit nicely, all you need is to cut the elastic a bit smaller than the circumference of the opening. DUH!! So obvious – well, now I’ve worked it out…

The caveat is: the ‘bit smaller’ varies with the stretch/recovery property of each elastic, and I haven’t yet found a way to work out how much by other than trial and error. I’m open to suggestions!

Fortunately I’ve now done so much trial and error I’m starting to intuitively know how much smaller particular elastic needs to be.  The 200 zips principal at work. YAY!

THEN I discovered that like bras, elastic in undies loosens as it ages. *facepalm* (I blame the Bonds hipster bikinis that I didn’t know this already – the fabric dies long before the elastic does.) So now I add that into my calculations too.

Construction…

This is the easiest way I’ve found, it means you’re applying elastic to a long edge rather than in the round, making it a lot easier to handle and match the elastic evenly along the fabric.

  • Sew the crotch seam and sew or baste the crotch lining in
  • Apply leg elastic to both leg edges
  • Sew up one side seam
  • Apply elastic to waist
  • Sew the other side seam up

 

Applying Elastic…

I’ve seen many suggestions for applying elastic, and duly tried them all. I’m really sorry that I can’t credit these suggestions correctly because they were gleaned from many late nights vegging out on pinterest and following links and I’ve long forgotten who said what. They’ve come from tutorials on adult lingerie, children’s undies (Do children have lingerie???) and swimwear for both adults and children. One day I intend to sort my Pinterest sewing boards a bit better, when I do I’ll come back and link to the lingerie-sewing board.

The suggestions:

‘Stretch the elastic more across the back than the front leg opening.’ IME it makes no difference and is a pain to do, so I don’t do it.

‘Stretch the elastic and the fabric a bit’ and conversely ‘only stretch the elastic to fit to the fabric’ IME this also makes no difference. What DOES matter is that you have good control of both fabric and elastic. Some elastics sit better on fabric that is stretched, others on fabric that is lax. Some fabrics are easier to sew the elastic to when stretched, others not. I do what works best.

The other important thing this impacts on is the stretchiness of the seam itself. I discovered the seam itself needs to be very very stretchy. If the seam is any less elastic than the lace it feels binding. The zigzag chosen needs to be very wide, and not very long.

And not elastic but still a common suggestion, ‘You can cut up old t-shirts to make undies!’ Hmph. See the point about muslining. By the time you’ve muslined there probably won’t be any fabric left for the Real pair. However if you’ve sewn 200 undies (or thereabouts ;-P) you’ll have enough experience to use t-shirts effectively. But when learning? IME it makes it harder, not easier.

 

Pretty pretty undies all cut up (from two singlets I wasn’t using) and ready to sew up 🙂

Oops! I accidentally stifled my creativity.

10 Oct

Well, I thought it was a good idea to put aside sewing clothes for myself for a bit. You would have thought so too if you’d seen how full my wardrobe was!

I have Other Projects to do. Like some christmas presents. (Yep, I am organised, I’m working on christmas presents and it’s only early October. But the thing is, you see, I sew or otherwise craft my christmas pressies, so I need time to get them made. And most of my family is overseas or elsewhere in Australia so I need to get them in the mail early.)

I also promised my mum I’d make her some new dresses, her wardrobe, unlike mine was, resembling Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard.

I also need a new handbag. Of course, I could just go buy one. *chokes* and indeed it was starting to seem likely I’d have to, until… I found this pattern on Etsy. *dies in delight* in the shop Charlie’s Aunt. An independent pattern designer selling bags and accessory patterns with a retro 1940’s-1950’s flavour. Go check it out. It’s awesome!

Sewing pattern to make the Kitchen Garden Bag - PDF pattern INSTANT DOWNLOAD

Miserable thoughts of having to buy a new bag went straight out of my head. Clearly, I needed to make this bag!

Then I saw this bag pattern in the same shop:

Sewing pattern to make the Brideshead Bag - PDF pattern INSTANT DOWNLOAD

omg *drools* I’m sure I need two new handbags, right? Right! Of course I do! Especially as there was this promotion:

2 PDF sewing patterns of your choice

All in all, I thought it would be good to stop sewing clothes for myself, and sew and craft non-clothing stuff (like a new handbag!) for a bit.

That was about 3 weeks ago. And since then a very strange thing has happened. I’ve just stopped making anything. Ok so I’ve been sick, (nasty virus) but that usually only slows me down, not stops me completely.

And my overlocker has been on the blink. But it just needed a good clean and re-thread, which I’d usually do without it even registering I’d done it.

So why the lack of creative crafty sewing-y goodness?

After much thought the past few days, I’ve come to the conclusion I’ve simply put a damper on my creative energy. I just love making clothes for myself so much I’m almost never out of ideas, or out of enthusiasm for it. (Or fabric, actually, but The Stash is another story!) I also do heaps of other crafting things alongside the clothes sewing, like decoupage, crochet, craft sewing. They get swept up in my overall creativity.

But putting those dressmaking ideas aside for a month or two has just cut my creative verve totally dead.

Weird feeling.

I also took a good hard look at the clothes in my wardrobe and decided very sadly that about 6 or 7 of them (OUCH!) were so faded and worn they needed to be consigned to the rag bin 😦 Clothes just don’t last long in this climate. Now my wardrobe is resembling Mother Hubbard’s cupboard a bit too!

I think I need to go sew some clothes for myself…

😀

Learning to fit a plus-sized friend (Help?)

20 Sep

Recently I’ve come face to face with body-dislike, and the fears and humiliation that so often comes from having a body at all, let alone  a body nowhere close to what our western society tells us it should be. Not my body-dislike, but a friend’s. She’s plus-sized, and describes her body with a genuinely humourous grin as a ‘beach ball’. And she generally seems pretty ok about her body size and image overall.

So I was a dismayed when we started upsizing patterns for her, (there are very few patterns, even plus-sized, that don’t need adjusting upwards for her figure) that she – well she very determinedly didn’t disintegrate into tears. Eeek!

There’ve been a number of posts and conversations over the years in the sewing blogosphere that talk about the effect of sewing on body image. I’ve even chimed in on a few. Recently Karen of Did You Make That posting in The Guardian “Can sewing change your body image?” created a lot of discussion, The Colleterie has visited this issue. Gertie‘s visited it. From comments and posts generally, it seems some people have found sewing to have a negative effect on their body image. Most seem to have found it positive.

I particularly liked Julie’s Doodle Blog’s take on it, that fitting the things she sews is about resolving the differences between patterns and her body, as opposed to when she shops for rtw it becomes a list of ‘problems’ her body has. This is probably closest to how I personally feel about size, fit, and sewing. However I can’t tell you how I feel about rtw shopping because quite honestly I hardly ever do it. I sew, or op-shop, and the sizing in op-shops are all over the place, as are the styles, colours, fabrics, and quite often the clothes themselves! (Oh I ❤ op-shopping!)

And I can’t tell you how sewing has or has not affected my own body image because I’ve been making clothes for myself since I was 10, a year or two before my body started developing. I kinda have no ‘before’ and ‘after’ to compare! But I do know the freedom to create exactly what I wanted to wear – within the constraints of a typically small budget, and the fabric available in the local fabric shops or op-shops (no Spotlight in Darwin back then, for good or ill, and no Lincraft ever) has meant that my feelings about my body and clothing is simply another part of the creativeness that infuses the rest of my life.

Sewing aside, I also danced all through my teen years (Ok, ok I still do! I’ll dance on my deathbed!) and my dance teacher’s focus on the quality of movement rather than the shape or size of the body doing the movement probably had an overall far more positive effect on my feelings about my body than any other one thing in my entire life. (Thanks Mrs H! You’re a legend!)

Believe me, my generally healthy body image isn’t bullet-proof. I avoid reading woman’s magazines like the plague – they inevitably make me feel huge, ugly as hell, covered in acne and wrinkles and that my relationships with my partner, mother, daughter and all my friends are in tatters.

But… all in all, for me, the numbers on the tape measure are mostly just a (pretty useful!) fitting tool.

So here I am, not sure how to teach my friend to sew clothes that actually fit her without accidentally shredding her self esteem about her body, in my enthusiasm to teach her to sew clothes that fit and look good on her. I’m hoping the ‘looking good on her’ will win over the “OMG that pattern is HUGE, look at the vast expanse of fabric it takes to cover me” reactions. But getting to the hopefully positive end product may not help if she doesn’t survive the negative feelings fitting her properly is bringing up.

Any suggestions would be very much appreciated!

She’s visiting from Melbourne for a month, the day she left home it was raining and 5C *shivers* and she arrived to a balmy 30C here. Oddly enough she didn’t have many clothes suitable for the late dry-season weather we’re having, so we ran up a “pillow-case dress” in a gorgeous bright pink-and-orange hibiscus print. Looks great!. I’d LOVE to post a picture of the first dress we made but she’s not sure if she’s ok with it.

eta: she’s decided she is ok with me adding in her picture here! She’s one brave woman in a lot of ways, and facing her body-image fears is just one of them 🙂

Pattern drafting dreams

8 Mar

I am become more and more interested in drafting my own patterns. I’ve tended to be more interested in the construction and sewing than the actual drafting. But in the past few years, instead of buying yet another new pattern, I’ve thought “I could tweak that pattern I already have just a bit here and there.” I always did plenty of frankenpatterning and even tweaking but I’m doing more significant changes now – and succeeding in getting it to work too! (Always a bonus :-P)

My curiousity about drafting increased when I started teaching a plus-sized friend to sew. Her measurements are just a few inches toobig for the plus-sized patterns to fit. So I have had to teach her how to draft her patterns to be big enough to fit her, alongside teaching her the absolute basics like sewing a straight line. It really hasn’t helped that “Plus-sized” is usually “A bit bigger but still fitting within the shape and mindset towards bodies as “normal” patterns do. Which is woefully inadequate and inaccurate for most people I know with “plus-size” bodies. Crazy.

To add to the difficulty, she’s in Melbourne, I’m in Darwin, a whole continent between us. And don’t get me started on how slow my internet is. Regional Australia internet is CRAP. Skyping with video is almost impossible. Believe me, I’ve been thinking it might just be easier to draft a few basic patterns for her myself, and then work out how to tweak them to get different styles, than to do such big adjustments to existing patterns.

Then I started a pinterest account and through that I’ve found so many things about drafting, or tweaking patterns and I’m even more keen. The ones I’m drawn to the most are vintage and historical garments. Like this hat pattern I have from Mrs Depew  which consists of really simple instructions for drafting the ensemble. I haven’t made it yet but I’m really clear in my head how to make it. Although now I know how to do it, I’d probably just tweak another cloche pattern I have, to get the same effect.

Vintage Sewing Pattern French 1930's Cloche Hat, Clutch Bag and Scarf PDF Depew 1025 -INSTANT DOWNLOAD-

 

A step up from that is this 1889 chemise pattern from Tudorlinks.com (This is about as big a picture as I can get.)

Front View, Lady's Old-fashioned Chemise, 1889 - 1893

The most complicated bit would be the yoke and sleeve. Here is the pattern draft. It is only one size but I’m pretty confident in resizing things to fit my own sweet self’s body. These diagrams make perfect sense to me – presuming they’re in inches. In cms they might be a nice draft for a chemise for my daughter’s dolly 😛

Front & Back Yokes, Sleeve & Sleeve Band, Old-fashioned Chemise, 1889 - 1893

 

The only real snag is that I’ll have to work from the computer screen because Stupid Printer is being Stupid aka it won’t print. I think the error message was saying the moon was in the wrong zodiac house for it to be able to work.

The next step up (As I see it) I’ve already done – drafting a straight skirt to fit myself. I think I’d be more inclined to try drafting my own version of something like these. I could do with a pair of “Step-ins” I’m sure

Pinned Image

 

Also regarding Pinterest, I did something really rash and created a board for my sewing list. It’s HUGE!!! And it is missing a few things like the above chemise and hat. I’m not sure if I feel overwhelmed and intimidated when looking at that board, or just excited 😀

De-stashing!

3 Feb

Everyone else is doing it, so why can’t I?

I have a bit of a weakness for op-shop patterns. Sometimes I grab them coz I’m sure I’ll use them, other times I grab them for an interesting collar or neckline, or I like the line. Any reason. They’re only 20c each so hey!

Oh ok, I confess, I bought some of them new…

Any questions, just ask!

Vogue 9512 sizes 6-10 dress and jacket, pattern uncut.

 

Reserved for the lovely Sew Busy Lizzie who’s just made cushion covers out of men’s shirts. How funky is that? Pockets for the tv remote control and all!Vogue 9512 size 6-10

McCalls 7946 sizes 8-10, uncut (knit dress and top)

Butterick 4988 sizes 14-20 (tops, uncut) I’ve made this but I didn’t really like the fabric so it was hard to like the top. It’s frou-frou but kinda fun.

Butterick 4032 sizes 12-16 (Jacket, skirt and pants) This looks gorgeous. I bought it when I lived in Canberra before the Winter defeated me and I ran home to Darwin and the tropics.

Style 3694 size 10 (83cm or 32 1/2 inch bust) printed 1974, cut but all pieces there.

Butterick 4198 (knit singlet top, t-shirt, jacket, shorts and trousers with elastic waist) sizes xs-m (bust 30 1/2 inches -36 inches or 77-92cm) uncut

Simplicity 7178 size 10-14 (Dress or top with asymmetrical closure and elastic-waist trousers) uncut

788888888y6uI’ve already nabbed myself something from Mercury – Handmade Fashion’s stash – this embroidered linen! Just my colour and fibre composition. I confess I’ve been back a few times to Pinterest to gloat over it. I wonder if I could ask her to send it to me asap. My birthday is very early March, it would be lovely to get it in time for that…

Lilac embroidered linen.  Piece measures 1m x 130cm wide.

The winner!

10 Dec

Of the pattern pyramid is Wendy of Sew Biased. Congratulations Wendy 🙂

And if you’re terribly sad about missing out there are still some of the Wellington Pattern Pyramids going. I really want that McCalls skirt and trouser pattern from Nikki’s Stitches give-away. But I can’t decide if it is just plain greedy to sign up for another pattern pyramid after already winning one, or not…

 

Anyway, happy pyramiding!

 

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