Saturday, April 30, 2011

Cutting Off Grain fabric

Elaray asked how I cut the pattern with it being so off grain. I thought that would be a good topic for a post since we all seem to run into that once in awhile.

Well, first of all there are 2 kinds of off grain, and this fabric was both. Sometimes a fabric is woven off grain (the lengthwise and crosswise threads are not perpendicular). The first thing I did was to cut a slit about 3 inches in on the fabric, and tear it from selvege to selvege. I then lined this torn edge against a vertical line on my cutting board, and lined up the fold along a horizontal line. This took some smoothing and weighting down the fabric. (If I had been using a cardboard cutting mat, I would have just pinned the fabric into shape.) Sometimes you have to stretch the fabric on the bias to make it straighten out, but smoothing it out usually works pretty well for me. That's when I took the picture in the last post, and you can see that this fabric is also printed off grain. I usually refrain from buying prints that are obvious stripes or checks unless they are woven into the fabric. Printed stripes and plaids are rarely on-grain. If you do get a fabric like this, you have to make a decision about whether to follow the print, or the grain. Well, I have mistakenly followed the print in the past, and the garment always seems to twist or not hang right. If the print is way off, and you follow the grain, it may look really wrong after it is made up. Sometimes it just depends on what you are making.

Fortunately for me on this one, at least the lines running the length of the fabric were pretty straight, so when I followed the grain, the print lined up. Also, the print is small enough that you could fudge a little if you needed to. Since this blouse has 7 vertical seams, I figured the off-print of the fabric wouldn't be that noticeable once it was made up. And if it was, oh well, not much I could do about it. I didn't even try to line up the print on this, but it looks like I did - now you know my little secret ;-)

I was looking at some of my patterns tonight thinking of what kind of skirt I wanted to make to go with this top. I originally was thinking about a bias cut skirt, but with this fabric being as unstable as it is, and the print being off, that might not be a good choice. I may go with a gored skirt for this one.

M6035 - the Ugandan way

In Uganda, you often see women wearing a skirt with matching top in African print. Well, I finished M6035 and will be making a matching skirt before I go. As I said in my last post, this fabric is thinner than what they usually use for dresses, but that is fine with me because it will also be cooler! This will also be a top that I can wear to work or even on the weekends and be comfortable. I must say that the fit is much better now, and maybe I should have just started with a 12. normally that is too big in the upper chest and back, but even though I made the sleeves bigger, they still bind when I reach forward. I would like to make it again with different sleeves. I do like the fit of this blouse now that I widened it a bit, lengthened the front, and only used 1/2" SAS on the vertical seams. For me - this pattern is a winner!

I had problems cutting this out because not only is this fabric unstable (loose weave and hard to keep the lengthwise and cross grains perpendicular, it is also printed way off grain as you can see in the picture. funny, the vertical lines are straight, but the horizontal lines are way off.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Take two - M6035

Normally when something doesn't turn out the way I want it to, that's it, I'm done with it. I either give it away, throw it away, or hang it in my closet and never wear it. Well, I was encouraged by the great ladies on the boards at PR to see if I couldn't fix this blouse. First, I looked at those princess seams, and I found that I could let out about 1/8 inch in each one, which was a total of only 1/2" in the front, but it was enough to make the blouse more wearable. Also, I removed the armbands part way, added a 1" extension to each one, loosened the gathers, and refit the band. The arms are way more comfortable now and actually look much better.

I have also altered the pattern, so I'd like to try it again. I kept looking through my stash for what I wanted to make it out of and found some purple fabric that I thought would be perfect. It felt like a nice smooth cotton broadcloth. But then I prewashed it. Yikes! It is rough and heavier than I thought. I'm betting it is either Kona or Country solids from Jo Anns. Last year I made a blouse out of this fabric in gold, and although I like the blouse and the color, I never wear it because I hate the feel of the fabric.
The best blouse fabric I have ever used was this Japanese Cotton Lawn that I bought from Fabricmart years ago. I also bought a very similar lawn from Fabrics Fabrics in LA on a PR weekend that I love. I have bought other lawn fabrics online (they're hard to find in the stores around here) but have had varied results with them. That last pink and white blouse I made was supposed to be a lawn, but is actually thinner and sheerer than a batiste.

Well, I forgot all about this fabric. I bought 6 yards of it when I was in Uganda last year and at that time had planned on making a top and long skirt out of it for my trip this year. When I bought it they told me it was 100% cotton, but you can never believe anything any salesman tells you there. Most fabrics that I've purchased in Uganda feel as stiff as cardboard when you buy them, but wash up nicely. This one was no different. I couldn't believe when I took it out of the drier that it had NO wrinkles. This makes me wonder if it isn't part polyester. I don't really care and am glad for the no wrinkling since it will be packed and unpacked several times. It's thinner than some of the typical dress fabrics that they sell, so it will be cooler as well. I think I will make the next version of the McCalls blouse out of this fabric.
Hoping to get some sewing done today, but DH is getting ready to leave for a 5 day camping trip and then triathlon on Sunday. Our way-too-fat cat is going to the vet at 9. I have a hair appointment at 2 and meet with my trainer at 4:30. Busy day today, with weird gaps inbetween things. I'm sure I can squeeze some sewing time in :-)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

McCalls 6035 blouse

Finished this princess seamed blouse (M6035) last night, but I'm disappointed because it is too small.
I was surprised when I cut it out because this is a multi- cup sized pattern, but the only piece that is different is the side front piece. Normally when you do a FBA on a princess seamed blouse, you increase the curve in the side front AND you lengthen the CF piece to accommodate the additional curve. This pattern does not change the CF piece for any cup size, so I found it extremely difficult to ease in the princess seam.
I'm going to try it again by widening the CF at the side front seam so as not to change the neck width or upper chest size. I am also going to add just 1/2" of length a the bust point to that same piece.

I think the fit is OK in the back. THe other problem is that the sleeves are too tight. Even though I made the sleeve bands a couple sizes bigger, they are still uncomfortable.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Stash Reduction - bit by bit

It is time to do something about my stash. First of all, it is a mess. Well, I guess it doesn't look that bad when I look at the picture, but things are on the wrong shelf, not folded right, and I have other piles of fabric on tables, in boxes, and in bins. This top shelf is supposed to be all jacket and coat materials

Shelf 2, knits and then some misc on the left stack.

This row is linens, rayons, and cottons

The fourth row is wools, blends, and bottom weights

There are some twills, denims, a box of linings, and who knows what else on the bottom.

I have all of my silks and silkies in another box

I haven't done any sewing in 2011 except within the last couple of weeks, but at least the following were made from stash
brown skirt
batiste top
Easter Dress

Grace's dress was made from new fabric, and even on sale, it wasn't that cheap coming out to over $15.00. A lot of my fabrics are woolens, wool blends, and coatings. BUT, I also have a lot of rayons, cottons, and other fabrics that will work well for summer. I am going to try to not buy any new fabric unless it is something I need for lining. In fact, I am going to keep track of garments made from new vs old. I'm going to keep at least a 2 old to 1 new and hopefully a much better ratio. I'm glad school will be out soon and I can do even more sewing. I still have this week on vacation and hope to get a lot done, although I have appts. every day this week and other things I need to get done. I WILL schedule some time for sewing each day!!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

New Look 6891 - top #2

After loving Grace's top so much, I decided to make one for myself. I really like the top, but since I had to make some adjustments for myself (FBA and bigger in hips) I didn't want to use one of my "better" fabrics until I knew the fit was right. This is fine, but I can do some things better for next time. This fabric is a very thin batiste and very see through. For that reason, I'm wearing a cami under it. Good thing, because it is very loose in the chest - not the bust, but above that in the chest. I have this problem in a lot of blouses and on tanks or other tops that are open in the front, I have solved this by putting a small dart in the pattern piece (not the fabric) at the neckline about a 1/3 of the way down from the collar bone to the chest. There is probably a better way to fix this, but I haven't seen it addressed in any of my fit books.
Also, the next time I make this (for either her or me), I will raise the neckline a bit. it is pretty low and there is no leaning over in this blouse! Another think I will do is make this narrower in the upper back. Several reviewers have mentioned the same thing on this blouse, but I have this problem in most patterns as I have a narrow back. Apparently, so does my daughter because it fits the same way on her. Actually, I probably made it too big for her. The smallest size in this pattern is a 10, and according to the measurements, that would be her size, but in RTW I think she wears a 2 or some ridiculous size! LOL Anyway, she'll need the extra room once her tummy starts getting bigger :-)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Summer top - already

Yesterday DD and I went to JoAnns to pick out some patterns. She picked out this one and some fabric. I cut it out last night and made it up this morning. I really like the way this turned out. It is so cute! Super easy top to make if you don't mind putting binding around armholes and the neck. Still, it's all sewn by machine, so there was no hand sewing whatsoever. I finished all the exposed seams with the serger, so that also helped make it a quick project. I like it so much, I can see a few of these in my own wardrobe this summer!

The steps are easy on this one. First you gather the front neckline then sew the CF up to the dot. You just double turn under the raw edge to get the slit in the front. Then, sew front to back at shoulders and sides. Sew the binding to the neck edge and then sew the binding to the bottom. I do like the way they have you sew the binding to the inside first, then bring it around to the right side and topstitch it in place. The bottom band is cut on the bias, so it uses more fabric than you would expect - I think it called for 7/8 yard!

I am starting a summer sew along on PR because I need to be thinking ahead to summer. I really need some tops and shorts for warmer weather.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter Dress- Vogue 8553

** First of all, sorry for the crappy photos on some of these. The battery died on my camera, so took this with the doc cam on my computer.

Yes! I finished it today. I'm unhappy with the fabric I used for the white trim and sash. It must be some kind of cotton blend and it doesn't hold its shape well and wrinkles. Fortunately, it seems to press out OK. I had read several reviews on PR about this dress, and most of them said it was large and too low cut. I decided to measure the pattern and cut a straight 10 in the back, but in the front I went out to a 12 at the bust and waist, but left the hips alone since it has such a full skirt. Also, many of the reviewers said the the waist was high on this, but it actually is designed to be high. I'm not so sure I like that because you have to keep the belt tight, or you lose the solid color line if the sash dips down in front.

I did add 1" in length at the bust and 1" in length all the way around (so 2" in front) I eased the extra fullness in the front at the side seams, which is a great way to do this on knits. I should have added in an extra 1-1/2" to accomodate for bust, so if I make this again, I will.

All in all, I really like this dress. The skirt is very full and swingy and I like the way the whole thing moves when I walk.

I did not find the dress to be too low in the front, but if I would have made the size indicated by the pattern envelope (14) it would have been too low and too big all around. I'm happy with this the way it is. This is an "Easy" vogue pattern. It is easy, but not quick. There is a lot of gathering (neckline front and back, waist in the back) and then the pleats front and back. I think it was worth the extra time.

I finished off the armholes and hem with the coverstitch machine. My coverstitch hems are starting to get flatter, so I'm happy about that!

DD and I went to JoAnns today to scoop up some of the Simplicity patterns on sale. Next up, I will be making a top for her. She is expecting in October, so her clothes are starting to not fit. She hasn't brought herself to the idea of maternity clothes yet, but realizes she needs some much more loosely fitted clothes for spring and summer.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Next up - Vogue 8553

Over the weekend I realized that I have not made a new dress for Easter in a couple of years. Well, seeing as how I am on vacation, I have no excuse not to this year. I bought this pattern and fabric a couple of years ago and just have never put it together.

The first thing I did was to go onto Pattern Review and check out the reviews. Most of the reviewers said that the pattern is not as easy as the envelope states and that there is a lot of gathering, handsewing, and fussiness in piecing the neckline pieces. Well, so far, I have done a lot of gathering and handsewing, but I'm not in a rush, so that is OK. You don't normally expect patterns for knits to be this fussy, but there is a lot of gathering and all of the neck and front bands are faced and handsewn into place. I still need to sew on the rest of the neck band, but here is where I'm at so far:

I also decided to use my coverstitch machine to finish the armhole edges and will also use it to hem the dress. I am still below a novice with the coverstitch, but I will never get better if I don't use it! No matter how many tutorials I have looked up or watched on You Tube, I still can't get the thread to end right without releasing the tension arm inside the bottom of the machine. Oh well, that's working for me for now, so I'll live with it.

I have no idea how this is going to fit. Usually I have to cut a 10 in the shoulders, taper to a 12-14 at the waist, do a FBA and go out to a 16 in the hips. This has a full skirt, and after measuring the pattern, I decided to just cut a 10, but on the front I went out to a 12 at the underarm and added 1" in length for the full bust. I think the pattern is pretty forgiving on size since there is so much gathering and the skirt has pleats. I figure I can "make it work!"

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Bad Blogger Returns

It's spring break here and I am so thankful! Already I finished my first sewing project. This is the Loes Hinse Swing Skirt long version. The fabric is a poly rayon blend (no lycra) and is super comfortable. I wore the skirt to church this morning and then out and about for the rest of the day, and it still feels great. Definitely a keeper. Both times I made this I ran short on fabric and on the brown skirt, I pieced the flounce to make it work. On the Blue skirt, I couldn't work out the flounce, so used a contrasting fabric for the back panel.

From Spring 2011
I am not happy with it. The fabric for the main part of the skirt is a really drapey textured rayon, and I haven't been able to find anything like it to use for the flounce. I may just take the flounce off and replace it with some lace. Right now it is just hanging on a hanger waiting for me to do something to it.

this pattern went together really quickly and easily. The waist treatment is typical of LH, and you serge the elastic directly to the fabric, turn it under, and stitch it down.
From Spring 2011

I am planning ahead for another trip to Uganda this summer. We will be doing something a little different this year. We are flying into Kampala and staying with a Ugandan minister and his wife for the first two nights. On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, we will be working with a group of pastors' wives at a conference in Jinja. I'm not sure what we will be doing there, but I've been told that they are anxious for us to come. On Sunday morning, we will be driving out to the Villages and spend that whole week working in Busanna and Kasana. We have worked with these women before. This year we will be getting 2 women set up in their own sewing business and will be buying treadle sewing machines, fabric and notions to get them started
In the mean time, we will be working with the other ladies teaching them embroidery and hand sewing techniques. Last year we only had two machines, so there were two ladies who wanted to do the sewing for everyone else, while everyone else wanted to just stay and watch. This was OK with them, but we want everyone to be able to participate, so with some hand sewing and especially colorful embroidery, everyone can be working at the same time. Hopefully this will be successful. As more details of our trip unfold, I will keep you posted. We are just starting our fundraising, so I will post information about that soon if you are interested in helping to support our ministry.