Procrastinating

I’ve finally hemmed my dress and I wore it to work yesterday.  I hope to get some photos over the weekend as it is pitch black when I get home in the evening.  The mornings are chaos; so whilst the light is gorgeous, getting me and boy out of the door by 7:30 is, erm, interesting!

But that’s not what I’m dragging my heels about.  The scuffing in the carpet leading to my sewing room is all about the P word.  Peony.  Yup, the dress that seems to be the hardest dress to get the fit right on.

I know I’ve already made one version here.  But believe me that the fitting for that was dirty.  I literally graded between two sizes, sewed the thing together and wore it.

There are a number of things that are ‘off’ with it.  The shoulder seam is on the outside of my shoulder rather than on it.  The armscye ends somewhere around the middle of my bust.  The darts are close to being in the right place but are too high. There’s also quite a lot of excess fabric under the girls which needs sorting.

So, Saturday night (in the company of Strictly) I sat on our living room floor and re-traced the pattern.  I traced the correct size according to my high bust measurement and then did a proper FBA.  I tissue fit the bodice, marked my apex and then sorted out the dart placement and shaping.  All my usual fitting adjustments have been made; front, back and sleeve.

The flat pattern adjustments are done.  Finished and finito.

All I have to do is make a toile of the thing.  And that’s where I’m dragging my heels.  I’m scared that I’m going to get stuck in a hideous round of toile after toile after toile of this dress – which is ridiculous really! 

I guess I’m judging the pattern by its reputation rather than trusting it and my adjustments.  Seriously, there are four darts in the front, two in the back, two side seams and two shoulder seams.  I’ll then have a reasonable idea of where its heading.  If it looks OK I can put the sleeves in and then it’s final tweak time.  It’s not a lot of cutting or sewing.  Maybe an hour?  Two at most?  Definitely no more than an evening anyway!

Sheesh, I should just get this done.  I could be cutting wool and lining within 24 hours if I stop procrastinating and even have a dress within 48…  Time to stop dithering and get on with it…

And if you fancy some a stitchy surprise under the tree in December, have a look at the Sew Very Merry Christmas Swap I’m organising – Just under 10 more days to add your name if you fancy it!

There’s a lot of Layers in them there Shoulder Seams!

As the Minoru sew along is proceeding at quite a sedate pace I made a start on my wearable muslin of the Colette Jasmine pattern.  And I have to say I’m pleased as punch so far!

Colette Jasmine Neck Line

First up, I had a bit of a crisis when I sewed the side seams.  Basically I couldn’t see how it would ever fit, but sew them with the full 5/8″ allowance I did and (drum roll here) it fits!  A size 14 Colette pattern actually fits me (after a FBA to accommodate the girls)!  You have no idea (well, probably a bit from the over use of exclamation marks…) how happy this makes me.

So far, I’ve attached the collar (turning that the right way out is a right royal pain in the  butt) and the facing.  The inside is an unbelievable mess as I haven’t finished any of the seams.  I did overlock the edge of the facing though?!  No idea why when I haven’t finished any other raw edge…

But there are some serious layers in the shoulder seams.  You’ve got the fabric and seam allowance from the bodice (2 layers), the same times two for the collar (4 layers), and the fabric and seam allowance for the facing (2 layers).  That’s 8 layers at the shoulders!  6 at centre front and back.  I have to admit that getting the facing to stay put inside the top, even with the understitching and some heavy duty pressing is, erm, interesting.  The instructions do suggest hand stitching it to the seam allowances though which will help.  I may well have been hindered though by the fabric as whilst drapy it does have some body to it, due to the textured weave which may well exaggerate any minor issues with that aspect of the construction.

So all I need to do now is construct and insert the sleeves, an absolute first for me!  I’ll try and get some more photos once this step is done…

New Zip

As for the Minoru, I rejected the planned zip and bought another today in my lunch break that matches the one destined for the front.  But as it’s a separating one with quite chunky teeth I haven’t sewn over the ends of it, just edge stitched above and below it.  Which you can only tell if you’re about 4″ away from the collar!  I’ve also basted the completed hood to the collar as per today’s step.

They told me to pull and gather them...

I have scooted a little further along though and pinned the hooded collar to the top of the jacket and drawn up the gathering stitches…  What is it with gathering stitches that just make you want to draw them up?

Three rows

I did three rows of stitches, the seam line will be between the yellow and matching thread.  It makes the final gathers a lot more controllable.

I do love the gathering detail with this jacket though.  It’s starting to come together for me now.  I’m trying to be really good and not just keep going as I know that I’ll get a better result by staying with the sew along.

A Bit of This, A Bit of That

Nothing really specific to today’s post really, I just need to talk out loud as it were to get some thoughts straight in my head – the sewing ones anyway!  I won’t bore you with the others!

Annabelle's Silk

First up is pre-washing fabric and fabric care.  I mentioned this before in my musings about whether or not to sew Pastille in wool.  With your encouragement I’m going to!  I still need to pick Annabelle’s brains on the best way to pre-wash and care for wool as she seems to have it sorted.  Speaking of which she’s done a really interesting post on pre-washing and caring for silk.  Silk is one of those fabrics I’d love to sew something from, but am a little intimidated by.  Not so much the actual sewing as I have yet to get over the hurdle of 1. buying any and 2. pre-washing it and working out how to care for the finished garment!  Annabelle’s post has at least solved point 2!

Seamless' Wearable Muslin - How Cute is She?!

The other is the age old question of to toile or not.  Seamless mused on this (with regards to Colette’s Meringue) and made a wearable muslin of a self drafted pencil skirt.  The reason why I’m thinking about this is that I’m about to launch into the lovely Colette Jasmine.

Colette Pattern's Jasmine

I have a wonderful fabric with a random star pattern that is destined for the final version, but as I’ve gone down two sizes on the Colette chart since I started sewing (Huzzah! Slowly but surely…) I feel I ought to do a test run of at least the bodice and sleeves.  I’ve checked the flat pattern measurements post FBA and it should be OK.  So do I use some cheap blue textured drapey poly-cotton I’ve got in the stash, use up some more old caravan curtains which are uber crisp (i.e. completely the wrong hand for this top), or launch straight into my stars?  I think I’m going to go for the wearable muslin option…  What would you do?

The other consideration is time!  OK, I can hear most of you saying ‘well, duh!  When isn’t time (or the lack of it!) a consideration?!’  This is wear my in progress Minoru comes in to the equation.  Do I trundle on and carry on with the sew along posts or do I just crack on?  There are pros and cons in my mind…

The pros of staying with the sew along are:
1.  It’s a SEW ALONG!  It’s the whole point.  If I was just going to get on with it why did I hoard my materials for at least a month?!
2.  I think I’ll get a better finished item by staying with the sew along and picking up little tips from Tasia and other sew along-ers.
3.  There’s no rush

The cons are:
1.  It’s going to take longer
2.  I’m going to have to keep re-threading my sewing machine as I move between my garments (not really a biggie, but a slight annoyance!)

Ha!  The Pros list is longer and the cons really aren’t that great.  I’ll just have to re-thread my machine between projects and get over myself!

And last, but by no means least, is the subject of interfacing.  I’m starting to dislike fusible interfacing in garments and am erring towards sew-in.  The question is this:  do I go for a synthetic sew in, or do I use some silk organza in my Jasmine?  Or do I go synthetic for the muslin and silk for the stars?!

Right, I promise I’ll shut up now and let you get on with far more important stuff!  If you’ve got any advice on any of my ramblings though – or can provide some clarity I’d love to read your comments!

My Husband Thinks I’m Weird

And possibly for good reason, if you don’t make your own clothes.  Although as fellow sewists, I’m hoping you’ll understand?  I was sitting in the car wearing a muslin, with pins all over it that were shortening in a number of places as well as holding up the hem.  Well, what’s the point of making a coat that you can’t drive a car in?!

I’ve been tweaking my Minoru muslin as I want it to be as good as I can currently get it as it’ll be the most expensive thing I’ve made to date and I want to wear it to death this spring.  I did my usual FBA before even making the muslin and then set to trying to perfect it.

The first thing I changed was the torso length.  I’ve taken 2″ out above the elastic and this has got rid of the weird bunching in my lower back  and the funny sag over the elastic at the sides.

I’ve also taken 3″ length out of the sleeves and now the cuff edge is about 1/2 way down the back of my hand which is perfect for me.

The final change I made was to add some width across the upper back.  Now I do have a slightly broader than average back due to spending about 20 years of my life swimming 3-4 times a week.  And whilst I had enough room in the jacket to reach forward and it would be OK for driving I wanted a bit of extra room.  I’ll be toddler wrestling, dog wrestling and more than likely lunging for either or both whilst wearing the jacket and I don’t want to feel restricted in it at all (or risk pinging a seam).  Plus this was the jacket shell only, so the lining is going to add a bit of extra bulk!

I used a slash and spread method, making sure the spread along the neckline is within the gathering area and then trued the sides.

So, my pattern alterations are:

  • 2″ FBA
  • Reduce torso length by 2″ after FBA
  • Reduce sleeve length by 3″
  • Increase upper back width by 2″

The additional construction steps I must remember when making the real deal are:

1.  I need to stay stitch and clip the armhole curve on my jacket front when sewing it to the sleeve.  The FBA has given it a really tight curve and it was a complete nightmare trying to match the sleeve to the front when sewing the muslin so that seam isn’t quite as it should be!  Stay stitching and clipping will enable me to match the two up properly.  I’ll need to mark the stitching line on the sleeve so that I match the two pieces accurately.  This excerpt from Shirt Making by David Page Coffin explains it well.

2.  Use 3 lines of gathering stitch when doing the neckline to collar.  There’s a section on this in the Colette Sewing Handbook and also on Colette Pattern’s Blog and the difference that extra line makes to the end result is amazing!

So I’m all set now.  My fabrics are all pre-washed and my shell has been proofed.  I’ve got my elastic and zippers I just need to take shears to fabric…

Oh, and decide whether I’m making the hood or not.  I have jackets with hoods, but I never use them.  If they’re removable, I take them off and if they’re in the collar, well that’s where they stay!  So I leave you with this (whilst begging the Mr Shakespeare’s forgiveness):

To hood, or not to hood, that is the question!

Sencha Muslin / Toile

Huzzah!  I have muslined / toiled my Sencha.  I cut a 16 with an FBA.  I’ve also widened and lowered the neck line as the original felt like it was strangling me (a common issue, it seems).

Please forgive the tracky-dacks and the hideous fabric.  The fabric is old, I suspect late 80s early 90s poly cotton curtains from a caravan awning, or tent!  Least ways, something I’m more than happy to hack into!

So, is there anything glaring that I’ve missed?  It does up all the way along the back, no problem.  I think I’ll shorten how far into the sleeve I sew by 1/2″ as it feels a little restrictive around the arms if I stretch forwards.  I may also lengthen it a little, as I hadn’t turned under the hem at the bottom and I actually like this length and don’t think I’d want it any shorter…  Other than that I’m really happy as I did have some major doubts about how well this design would work for me!

So next question is, which fabric should I use?  Some cotton with cherry blossom dotted over it, another cotton with smaller cherry blossom attached to branches, the subtle fireworks or some gorgeous satin printed with butterflies (or they may be moths?)…

Which would you choose?

Hurrah! And Botheration.

Well, it’s lots more HURRAH and only a little bit of botheration really.  With lots of exclamation marks and smiley faces and happy little jigs.

Ah, yes.  It’d help if I told you what this was all about!

I had traced my beignet pattern and graded it as per my measurements from a couple of weeks ago.  Well tonight I finally got round to making up a muslin of the skirt and dang me if it isn’t too big!  And too big pretty much everywhere too! See – told you it was all about HURRAHs!

So I re-did my measurements and safe to say they are definitely smaller than what they were.  Even after eating dinner.  So I now need to do another muslin (hence the botheration) on a straight tracing of the pattern – no alterations should be required…  So I now need to un-alter my traced pattern, pull apart my muslin, re-cut it and re-sew it.

You never know, I might actually then be able to cut my skirt out of the fashion fabric!

Muslin is Actually Calico

This was something new I learnt today.  In the UK, the fabric that seems to be called muslin in the US is Calico over here.  Muslin here is more of a mesh like fabric, as anyone who makes jam or has seen baby muslins will know.  Something I should know considering there is at least 30 baby muslins in the house, it just never occurred to me that what I actually needed was calico.

So,tonight I made a muslin / test garment from my slashed and spread pattern.  If you remember I mentioned yesterday that my waist was 10″ bigger than that on the pattern size chart, so I’d added 10″ to the pattern by adding 2 1/2″ to each piece as there were four of them. 4 x 2.5 = 10.

Anyway I made the muslin…

Hmm, just a smidge too big...

As you can see (from a slightly out of focus and dark photo – I’m trying to photograph myself in a mirror, not easy!) it is WAY too big, so I’ve ripped it and will do another one tomorrow.  That one will be the straight 18 from the pattern with no adjustments, but big seam alowances in case I need to let it out.  I am so, so pleased I made a muslin of this.  I very nearly didn’t but the thought of having wrecked my beautiful polka dots for the sake of a couple of evenings work is not worth thinking about.  It’d have involved tears and quite possibly a temper tantrum.  Two big positives from this, other than realising my sizing is way off somewhere down the line, cutting the hem at size 0 gave me the length I want, and is one of only two things that went as planned on the muslin.

My First EVER Zip!

The other was the zip!  Hurrah!  First ever zip in the history of the world by me, it’s an  invisible one and it ain’t bad if I do say so myself!  I followed this tutorial from Colette as it was straight forward and I got it, Sunni’s method didn’t suit me, but it may suit you?  I also used my special invisible zipper foot which made the whole job a pleasure rather than the common source of frustration that it seems to be.  It’s invisible and the waistband seams line up beautifully.  I hope I can repeat this level of finish as I am really rather pleased with myself on this little achievement.

So the three very important sewing related things that I’ve learnt today are:

Muslin is Calico
Making up a muslin of a pattern is a VERY good idea
Zips aren’t half as bad as I thought they’d be

I’ve also bought a darker invisible zipper for the final skirt as Sunni’s examples yesterday made a very clear point, so I’ve taken her advice.  And her posts today about sewing on the bias and inserting a zip in a bias garment were really interesting and will come in handy should I decide to tackle version 3.