Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sequins and pants

Over the last week I've sewn a pair of pants and continued work on the sequin dress.  The pants took about 3 hours to sew and I am not keeping track of time spent picking sequins! 
(You wouldn't either, it you were doing this :)

The dress is 98% complete now.  Too bad I won't have any photos of the dress being worn by my daughter until some vague time in the future.  I sure am curious! 

This fabric was totally crazy to work with.  Not hard, just time consuming.  I picked out stitches from the back with the seam ripper to create a 3/8" seam allowance. 

Then I snipped off the clear thread from the front. It's like very fine fishing line.

Fortunately, it doesn't seem the sequins will come off even when the threads are snipped very close.
To stabilize the neckline and armholes, I sewed narrow clear elastic using the zig-zag. 
At the start of seam, it was pretty finicky and wanted to get sucked down, so I reduced the pressure on the presser foot to zero.  I held the tails of the thread taut and started and started an inch in from the edge.  Having this elastic caught in the edge when I folded it over made for a nice stable edge.  I hand-stitched the folded-over edge.

So, yeah, there are sequins everywhere now :)

I also sewed a pair of cotton twill pants in a nice neutral gray.  I went without any stretch this time and I re-washed multiple times in hot water & hot dryer to pre-shrink.  They do need to be touched up with an iron and they do get pleasantly baggy as the day goes on.  Comfort was the top priority here.  I can't recall whether I ever posted this top.  I cut this before I went to Korea and sewed it when I got back. I love this pattern and this fabric; a super-stretchy and soft cotton jersey.

That's all for now!  Today is my birthday and I turned 53.  So far, I like it just fine.
Happy Sewing!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sequin Dress - the pattern

Making the pattern:
During the internet-less snowstorm, I picked up the Spring 2008 issue of Sew Stylish magazine and got inspired by an article called "Draping 101" written by Judith Neukam.  She explains the basics of draping and the article is illustrated with nice clear photographs.  I was so inspired that I chose my targets (daughter and niece) and then set about to practice my pattern-making skillz on them.
It was surprisingly easy and effective!  Supplies needed: muslin fabric and a sharpie
  • I took a flat piece of fabric and marked a line through the center (along the foldline crease in the fabric).  This would serves as the vertical center front and center back lines during the process.
  • Cut a small hole for the neck and cut open the center back seam just enough to get her head through it 
  • Apply to daughter's body.  Kid around and say "so this is how your sequin poncho will look" 
  • With scissors, carefully enlarged the neckline until it fit Laura's neck perfectly
  • used duct tape to join the center back seam. 
  • pinned the shoulder seams, taking care to place them where the garment would hang evenly in the front and the back. 
  • At this point, the crease in the muslin fabric was now serving as vertical center front and my center back lines.
  • pinned out bust darts on the side
  • pinned out side seams
  • pinned out vertical darts in the back
  • pinned out one more small bust dart in the armscye (to be rotated to the side)
  • determine finished length of dress
  • carefully remove from guinea pig and move to the work table for next steps
Note that I am creating a sheath block, not a sloper.  A sloper is fitted like a second skin and one must add ease for wearing comfort and to define the style of the garment.  A block is fitted to be a basic wearable garment.
I like working with a pattern block because I know it will fit. I find it easier to add design features to a block than to fit a commercial pattern. It is not fool-proof; one must consider how the fabric will work with the pattern and adjust accordingly.

Here is the basic sheath block:
Now, when I first laid out the muslin fabric and folded it in half to create my pattern piece, it was not symmetrical.  The darts and the shoulder seams were similar on both sides, but the side seams weren't.  So, I just split the difference.  One side was trimmed down and the other side needed extra width. 
Then I laid my tracing paper over the muslin and traced the pattern onto the paper.  For this, I used a very lightweight sheer paper purchased from an art supply store.  It comes on a huge roll and lasts a long time. 

To adapt the block for a knit pattern, I want negative ease.  The fabric stretches and I want the neckline & armholes to be snug, so I want the pattern to be just a little smaller than the body in the upper half.  The lower half can stay just a little looser.  It is not a hooker dress, after all.

Basically, I made a small bust adjustment -  pinched out almost an inch (maybe 2.1 cm) horizontally and removed over half an inch (1.6cm) from center front and from center back at the neckline.

Oh, and I scooped out the tank neckline as we had marked on the muslin.  Here is how the actual tank dress pattern looks:


I should have sewn a test garment next, but didn't feel like it.  And I am the boss of my sewing.  I dove in and cut the sequin fabric.
The dress is about half finished and I got a quick fit check yesterday and I am really happy with the fit (yippee!) In my next post I will show how I am dealing with the seams and the sequins.  It is just as fun as I expected.  There are sequins everywhere :)
happy sewing!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sequin Dress Happening

I am going to sew a sequin dress this weekend.  I remember feeling this way back in the 90's when Halloween rolled around.  I loved the fantasy aspect of sewing with unusual fabrics.  This fabric is a knit jersey and it seems like some kind of poly or maybe an ITY.

As you can see from the back, the sequins are sewn on.  At the selvedge edge, there is a strip of unadorned jersey that might come in handy somehow.  I will pick out sequins along the stitching line before sewing with the machine.  Then I will hand-sew sequins to fill in where it looks naked.  It should look seamless when I am finished. I will finish the edges the same way. 

I am not using a pattern.  I'll find a cheap knit in my stash to develop a muslin and fit that right on her.  I'll take apart the muslin and use it as a pattern.  Actually, I think it will be a 2-piece affair; a tank top and a slim mini-skirt.  I think that will just be easier to move around and sit in.  And let's just admit it, these are wardrobe building pieces.  You know you want one!

Another thing that crossed my mind is how nice it would be to have a black cardigan with this.  I have the perfect fabric for it, too.  I was thinking something like this:

You don't think I am ambitious, do you? Yeah, well, I can always mail it to her if I don't finish.  But a girl can try, right?

On a completely unrelated note, there are websites where you can load or link a photo and grab a color palette.  We were discussing wardrobe color selection based eye color; perhaps a no-brainer, but I am choosing paint color for a room.  It made me think how useful this is for interior decorating! 

oops, sorry for the big eyeball.
*happy sewing*