Friday, February 26, 2010

A Cautionary Tale: The Sencha Blouse Continued

When I ended the last post, I had finished the facings and was now ready to tackle the back opening (p. 21 in the instruction book). I immediately noticed something not quite right, and it had to do with the buttonholes. There is no interfacing along that back extension! This is so important that I hope I have your attention. You do not want THIS to happen to you:

I made these practice buttonholes on a scrap to illustrate the problem. #1 has a piece of interfacing between the silk (folded over like you would in the pattern). I was out of the sew in that I previously mentioned, so I used a lightweight piece of white cotton. #2 is just the 2 layers of silk. #1 is perfect, #2... well, if this happened to your blouse, good luck picking it out. And if you're a beginner, then how discouraging. Buttonholes can be frightening enough to a beginner, what with attachments to your machine, and digging out the instruction manual. And, yeah, I only know how to make them myself with the attachment, so if you don't even have one of those... I don't know what to tell you.
Interface, people! You will be happier, and your buttonholes will too. You will need to interface both back openings because the interfacing helps the blouse fabric support the buttons.

Fusible is self-explanatory, but here is a pic of how I interfaced my extensions:


Basically, I pressed on the foldline, and then butted the interfacing up to the fold, and using a whipstitch secured it to the extension. I machine sewed along the hemline on the edge, and then folded along that seam and made the hem as instructed. This helped because my cutting was a not quite as straight as I would have liked. I mentioned the slippy dippy silk previously I'm sure. Cutting silk (or any slippy fabric) can be a challenge.
My back view:


A couple of final notes: I put a snap up by the neckline. The buttons start rather low, and I would have changed the positioning, but I only had those 5, so just made do. Also, I'm not sure if you can see it, but the dark spot near the hem is a pin. I'm also going to add a snap there, otherwise, the blouse tends to gape open at the bottom, seemingly pointing out the wideness of my backside. My backside doesn't need any help with that!
I will definitely make this pattern again, and I love the stylings of all the Colette Patterns. The lack of interfacing for the back opening is really my biggest and most important critique, and I think it's very suitable for a beginner as long as the right fabric is chosen, and some attention is paid to the fit.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sencha Blouse or... (Beginning Sewist's Can Take Notes)

... How to Turn a Beginner Pattern into an Intermediate-Advanced Pattern

This is not the Butterick dress pattern in that cute hot pink cotton. No, this past weekend, I thought I'd whip up the Sencha blouse from that new pattern maker, Colette Patterns. Looked easy enough, what with only 4 pieces. And I had some vintage 1980s silk from my mom's fabric collection that looked perfect for this blouse.

Well, let's start at the beginning, a very good place to start (humming do-re-mi is allowed here).

 I love the pattern's format. It's like a little bound book, with a pocket in the back that holds the pattern tissue. I'm making Version 3 which has the instructions on p. 16 to 21 in the booklet. Sized 0-18 with all sizes on each piece, I decided to trace. Let me tell you that, unlike the Big 4, I was thrilled that after taking my measurements, I was a size 8. After tracing, I did a tissue fitting, and above the waist it fit perfectly, but I needed to narrow the tucks a bit to give more ease around my non size 8 hip area.Also, if you are tall and thin, you will definitely want to pay attention to the length and adjust accordingly. I'm short,and short-waisted and it was perfect for me. (By the way, it's been mentioned in other reviews, but there is a typo on the back facing piece, and you should cut 2, not on the fold.)


Here's where I move from beginner to making it hard for myself. When I got ready to cut out the fabric, I discovered that the stripes were actually horizontal, not really what I was envisioning. So I cut it on the crossgrain, and hoped for the best. And then there are the stripes themselves. There's a pretty big repeat going on here, and I wanted the stripes to match at the shoulders. That meant that after cutting the front on the fold, I cut out each side of the back individually. Then I made sure the facings matched the stripes so a dark stripe wouldn't show through the white. Is your head spinning yet? Mine was after all that matching and cutting.

Now it's time to start sewing. First you apply the fusible interfacing to the facing pieces. Oops, no lightweight fusible, but I dug up some sew-in interfacing. No problem, as I just sewed about 1/4" around the hem edge, and 3/8" from all the other sides. Then I skipped from p. 16 to the section on Facing, p. 20. And it's a good thing I did.


I've jumped ahead in my narrative with these pictures, but sewing the shoulder seams of the facing was when I noticed that I had cut one of the back pieces out wrong! There was barely enough fabric, but I managed to "make it work", and I decided to leave the facing as is since it wouldn't show through here. Things proceed pretty well after I get the stripes to match up correctly.

A note about the seam finishes: I decided to use French seams. It is a bit more complicated for the side seams with the way the  "sleeves" are made, but it is doable. Also, on p. 18, I do #2, hemming the sleeves, and then #1, the side seams.

Attaching the facings goes really well, as instructed, until...

the back opening. Stay tuned, and I'll tell you about a very important change that will make your Sencha blouse easier and wonderful.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Done and Next

What a difference a hem makes! That's my subtitle of this post.  Oh, and tights and a good hair day. I went with the shorter length, but about as short as I was comfortable with (one friend suggested as short as possible). Hopefully, this summer, my legs will see a little sun, and with a cute pair of flip flops or flats, that's all I'll need. In the meantime, here's the finished look:


Up next, Butterick BP242 in a fun fuschia and white cotton pique print. This should make a great spring dress, perfect for wedding showers.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Where is Twiggy when you need her?

Well, I've almost finished my vintage 1960s pattern (Vogue 2006), and, as the pictures below will attest, Twiggy was not available for a photo shoot, so I had to stand in. The dress isn't hemmed yet, but that's all that's left. I just couldn't wait to do a "reveal". (Try not to mistake my glaringly white and veiny legs with the marble surrounding the fireplace!)


The arrow is pointing to Hem Choice #1. This one is just below my knee. As for the rest of the dress, I'm pretty happy with the fit. The top across my shoulders in front and back, fits really well. So let's look at it up close.
This pattern had an insane amount of handsewing. First, the whole thing is underlined, and since I've never done that, and have only made a handful of things with knit, I hand basted the underlining to EACH piece. Watching an instant movie on netflix while basting definitely helped pass the time. The instructions indicated that the facing should be understitched by hand. Um. No way. Sleeves were hemmed by hand. And all that saddle stitching detail. Also done by hand. I tried to keep it loose, but I can see that it does cause some puckers. I'm hoping when I wash it, that goes away. Oh, and the pockets. Almost entirely done by hand.


The arrows are pointing to even more saddle stitching which went done both sides of the side seam and may be contributing to the unsightly droop. I may try to redo that part, but won't guarantee it (meaning, I might just live with it).

Hem Choice #2:

Personally, I like it at this shorter length. Feel free to comment about that, but I'll pretty much ignore comments that like it longer (read, frumpier). Dare I say it... I think it might be cute even a little bit shorter with...  (Laura, stop reading now)  ...  leggings.

While not my favorite dress ever, I love the color, and it will be a good weekday outfit once it warms up here. And, hey, I was working in my pj's until noon today, so this is definitely an improvement over that kind of outfit!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What to Wear on your Ears, Wedding Edition

Yesterday, Laura sent me a link to some earrings that she thought might look good with her wedding dress. But, I thought she had already bought some earrings. Silly Mom. The wedding isn't until June! That's plenty of time to second and third guess an earring choice.

My fingers are numb from the handsewing that is happening on this vintage dress, so I'm taking a break to share some of the earrings that a few of my friends on Etsy make. These would look wonderful on a bride, or maybe her bridesmaids:


Beadiful Baubles

Three Wishes Studio

Coryell Design

Coryell Design

Go 2 Girl

Kristria Designs

The Magpie's Daughter

A Fine Distraction

Sweetwater Gifts

Bead Flora Jewels

Click on the picture and it will take you to the individual shops.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Pin Fitting

I bit the bullet and cut out the fabric. I've never really been afraid of the cutting out, so I jumped right in. Following the instructions of my Fit for Real People book (by Pati Palmer and Marta Alto) the next step is pin fitting.


Some observations:
Pinned with the seams on the outside, a normally dumpy body looks... dumpier.

Pins are sharp. I pinned the front darts on the inside since that's where the markings are. Um. Ouch.

The shoulders still seem too wide, but I have to remember that the seam allowances are not being taken up. A thing to remember when I'm thinking that it is still choking me.

The shoulder seam adjustment... I don't like it, and will go back to the way it's originally drawn.

I won't really need the "just in case" extra, though I may use just a smidge.

Not sure what length I want. This is obviously unhemmed, but too long (I suppose that's a good thing as I'll need some extra length for hemming).

Also, there was something weird with the back yoke. Hard to explain, but maybe when I put the shoulder seam back where it's supposed to be it will be fixed. If not, I have another idea.

Cute socks. It was snowing outside.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

All About the Fit

Why do you sew? Why do I sew? It's fun for one thing. Creative. Satisfying. I know how to do it.

Those all sound like good reasons, and, once upon a time, I would just buy a pattern, make it, and amazingly, it would fit. I don't remember doing a lot of measuring or fitting, but I was young and thin, and yeah, it just worked.

Now, I try on lots of RTW dresses, and they don't fit. Why? Because I'm not young and thin anymore, and my body is different sizes all over. I can buy separates, but when I want a dress, it's pretty much guaranteed that I'll need some alterations.

So, back to sewing. I've been studying the Fit for Real People book, and it's all about the tissue fitting. I've done the first fitting of my 1960s Twiggy dress. I'll spare you the picture of me in my underwear wearing half of a tissue dress, but it was enlightening, and yep, needed some fixes. Mostly to the yoke which was too long, and the shoulders were too wide.



I've made a 1/4" tuck in the front and back yoke (for 1/2" less), and I redrew the outside of the shoulder/armhole seam. I haven't tried on the new version yet, so I'll have to get back to you on that. And I know I'll have to make some adjustments to the sleeve. Later. Later. I still might lower the neckline in the front because it was a little choking, but I want to see if the tuck helps with that. Oh, and I added extra tissue to the sides so that below the waist I can have a 1" "just in case" seam allowance. The tissue appeared to fit, but I don't want it too snug.
It's all about the fit.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sewing Tools

I've been frustrated lately from my lack of success in fitting the vintage patterns I recently bought. Yesterday, I did a tissue fitting of that hot pink muslin bodice that I wrote about. It's really hard to do that by yourself. So I'm stepping away from that project, and I'm going to tackle something a little less fitted. Unfortunately, I had almost used up my pattern grid interfacing stuff, so it was off to the art store.

After reading a post in Carisa's blog, Vintage Red about paper options, I went with what she's calling architect sketching paper.


 I don't know if you can read the label, but it says Elmers No. 100 Designer Series Parchment Tracing, 50 yds x 24 in. The guy at Binders Art Supply thoughtfully ignored the "please do not open" labels the paper department had on each roll to show me how the paper looked and felt.

I'm ready to start on this semi-fitted (thankfully) dress from a 1960s pattern. I've got a great knit jersey that's just waiting to be cut. I'm going to do the short sleeve version.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Handmade Treasures

Every so often I want to do a little show and tell about some of the handmade treasures that I have in my house. These are the things that really have some meaning in my life, and I just want to show off the talent. This little series will not be about the treasures that I've made, but those made by others, some I know personally, and some not.

First up is something I received in high school. I was a member of the W.T. White Caballeras, the high school drill team. If you're from Texas, then you know the kind of drill team I'm talking about. Unlike dance teams in schools today, we marched and performed routines with the marching band accompanying us. No canned music here. I was on the drill team for two years, and it was a highlight of  high school for me.

My handmade treasure is made by the loving hands of an unknown drill team mom. There was a Mother's Club, and I suspect more than one mom contributed to the production of these dolls, but I still have mine displayed on a shelf in my studio. The detail and accuracy is amazing. Meet Barbie, WTW Caballera extraordinaire:

I don't know if she had a hat.

Our hair couldn't be touching the star on the back of our vests.

So accurate, down to the little scarf we tied around our necks. Below is a picture of me in my uniform for comparison.

There were about 80 of us. That's a lot of dolls!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Fitting a Vintage Pattern

Really, any pattern, but I'm trying to fit a vintage one. I recently purchased the book Fit for Real People (I can't remember the authors right off hand, will edit later when the book is on the same floor that I am... sorry, I'm just being lazy.) Anyway, I think it will solve many of my problems. I've made the "muslin" of that vintage pattern I mentioned in the last post, and I think I'm going to love this dress. The only problem is the fit. The waist, that I knew should be altered, fits great. The rest, not so much. In fact, I can't really even show you on my body without assistance because a) it buttons in the back and there are no buttons, and nobody home to pin it on me, and b) it fits that bad.

Now, seeing this, you might think, "hmmm, it looks pretty good on the dressform." And it does sort of. Except that the dressform isn't my size. Not sure why I bought an adjustable dressform where the smallest bust is bigger than mine (wishful thinking?), but there you go. I did. And it's even pinned tighter on it.

The problems. 1. Too wide on the shoulders. I love the nearly off the shoulder look, but on me, they are simply not even close. 2. Too wide through the bust area. The darts are in the right place, but there is too much fabric going around the sides and to the back.

Those are the main problems that I have figured out so far. For adjustments, I'm going to try to tissue fit first and then see what to do about them. My tissue is the stuff I traced on, and will be more durable than actual tissue. First I'm going to do some reading though.

By the way, I've actually read the first couple of chapters of Fit for Real People, and it's quite interesting. I think that's a first for sewing reference books and me, because I usually just skip to the parts I need. I have a lot to learn here though, and I'm going to try to do it right.

Also, does anyone know how to figure yardage for fabric wider than 39"? That's all the envelope uses, and while I'm quite comfortable making up my own layouts, a handy translating formula would be useful.


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