Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Strategic Sewing

This week, I built in some quality time for  I used a vacation day on Monday to prepare for my sewing lesson this afternoon with Susan Khalje.  I spent 4 hours absorbed in learning from a master.  This sort of break from the pressure of work does wonders for me.

Susan released the shoulder seams and side seams at the waist. She pinned out new shoulder seams, deeper side darts on the bodice front and added darts to the back neckline.
[In the final analysis- my height adjustment was not necessary.  Interesting!  I seem to recall someone at pattern review saying "New Look is made for tall people" and now I can see why she said that.]

First Susan fitted the dress for a sleeveless style and used a blue sharpie to draw those lines on the muslin. Then we did a version with a sleeve.  That bodice is a little wider in the shoulder, and those lines are drawn with the pink sharpie.

It was really helpful to get Susan's expertise to address the shape of my shoulder.  (you can see these much lamented shoulders in this photo of me and Marji).  My shoulder seam is quite short (4.5") for someone my height (5'9").  However, there is additional real estate where the top of my arm connects to my torso.  That leads one down a dangerous path of the voluminous sleeve head.  The dreaded TOO MUCH FABRIC- IT JUST WON'T GO IN THERE, OK??  SO STOP TRYING!  Please!

So the approach was to get a nice fabric cylinder on my upper arm, then figure out what to do with all that fabric in the sleeve cap.  We found the most pleasing sleeve head included 2 darts.  There is just too much fabric there to ease in, so we pinned out 2 darts as a design feature.  I can play with that - make 4 small darts instead of 2, or I can just gather the sleeve head.  We talked about experimenting with a gusset in a future project.    We figure my shoulders (the actual shoulder joint) are about 1" narrower than "normal" (whatever that is). 

And one thing I am tired of - I am tired of shoulder pads!  Like a short woman is tired of hemming pants; like a big-boobed gal tired of popping buttons, like a ... {ok I will stop} I am tired of shoulder pads!  I just am.

Of course, when I tackle a jacket I will have shoulder pads.  And yes, I will go back to Susan!!   The inspiration is just incredible.  This is just how I felt when I returned from the NYC Sit and Sew last November- very inspired.   Folks, treat yourselves.  If there is something you love, study with a great teacher.  Are you paying for your kids to play piano? play soccer? whatever?  Do it for yourself!

This is exactly the right frame of mind to propel me through the next ten days. 
Three words: Fiscal Year End.  I'll be working this weekend, pulling an all-nighter on June 30 and playing fire fighter on July 1-2. 
A little compartmentalizing is good for the soul :)

*learning - it's a good thing*


  1. Interesting! So you wouldn't just remove some of the sleeve cap ease by tucking? Are the darts necessary due to the "additional realestate"? Meaning upper arms?

  2. What a nice vacation day and sewing treat!

  3. How nice for you. What a fantastic opportunity to sew with Susan Khalje. I'd love to do this one day too.

    Fiscal Year End :{ Mine is end March and I'm not a big fan of this wonderful time of year. Hope all goes smoothly :)

  4. A very insightful post. I don't have the same fitting issues as you, but the process is interesting.
    Yes, good to have a break before the dreaded "Year End". That is a whole kettle of crazy and stress.

  5. Do it for yourself.

    YES YES!

  6. Thanks for the info. I am also Enjoying (if you like working from sun up to sun down including weekends) Fiscal Year End happenings. I keep telling myself 30 days and it will all be over. I am going to look into meeting with Susan maybe in August as a personal treat to me!!!!

  7. I also don't understand why you can't alter the sleeve cap to fit you without resorting to darts, pleats etc. What is her reasoning on this? I have rather narrow shoulders, about the same length as yours.

  8. Vicki and NancyK,

    Oh yes, you CAN alter the sleeve cap! Yes, sorry if I was not clear and I do intend to post again about what I learned yesterday, with illustrations, to walk through what we did and the choices we made for this particular garment.

    Calling them darts may be a bad choice of words here. I liked the the little pleats, and that's the main reason we went this route.

    You know how it is with sewing - there are always a few different ways to approach the challenge. And no real "right" or "wrong" answers. The more experience the teacher, the more options you can explore and Susan could have done any number of things - she was working with my feedback to get something I liked.

  9. Fabulous way to do something for yourself! I like the concept of having options - like your sleeve head. Yes, I know how it feels to wear shoulder pads all the time - narrow and sloping shoulders always need help!

  10. Interesting. I am in much the same boat with the shoulders and the sleeve head so I shall follow you avidly on this. My shoulders aren't small for my upper torso, but for my height and general frame, yes.

    And good for you. I wish there was someone like Susan near enough to me that I could take a lesson without traveling. That time will come again some day. That sit and sew was inspiring wasn't it?

    And good luck with the fiscal year end. How well I remember that. Ours was October.

  11. I recently did a fitting workshop with my local sewing guild. It makes such a difference to know how to fit a garment properly. Your dress will be something special.

  12. What a treat to have a fitting with Susan. The fit on your recently sewn garments is really excellent. You have obviously learned a lot from your study of proportions, image consultations, and expert fitting sessions. I don't have to deal with year end fiscal stuff, I just have to work all my holidays dealing with system testing, upgrades, sever migrations, etc.


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