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*

Monday, June 21, 2010

a garden variety dress

I want a basic dress pattern so I am working on New Look 0563.  This one has a few nice variations, doesn't it?  I feel so Michelle Obama!

And here I am in our little front garden where we'll plant something - perhaps a camellia bush.
Here is a picture of a camellia bush:

I have been using up a bolt of drapery lining and it works really well for mock-ups.  It is cheaper than muslin, too.  The back really needs some work

And the armscye is way low. 
I kinda messed up - the bottom of the bodice is a size 16 and the top of the skirt is a size 18.  The darts don't line up like they should.

I am happy to get myself a dress pattern.  I never had many dresses because of fit issues.  Here are the paper adjustments I made:
Cut a size 18 to get the maximum height and width.
Starting at the top, cut the shoulders a size 10 and slope the front shoulder down by 1/2" or so.
Taper the shoulders to a 14 at the bottom of the armscye.
I added 5/8" height to the front bodice (horizontally throught the armscye) and I honestly don't know if that really helped me or not- I am a little puzzled still.  The stitching line (the black line) is too low.
I also added about an inch to the back bodice and I am not too sure about that adjustment either.
Taper to a size 16 at the waist.
Taper to a size 18 for the skirt.  I forgot to blend the bodice and skirt so that the darts would line up. 
This is what I sewed today on my day off.
Now for the fun part, fitting.  Now is when I wish I already had my Wolf form.
Yep, I am getting one. 
I was thinking and thinking about my sewing education and this is my choice.
I will get the Wolf dress form this year, and next year I will take the draping class with Susan Khalje and Julien Christofoli.  I am maybe pinching myself a bit and wondering, how did I get so lucky to do this?  I am very grateful to have a hobby I love and the opportunity to learn this wonderful craft.
In the meantime, I have a lesson scheduled with Susan soon and this dress will be my project.  If all goes as I hope, the next pictures here will depict a pinned out (fitted) version of this muslin. 
I am so looking forward to learning!
** happy dance! **

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Zebra jacket - on its maiden voyage!

Here I am wearing my newest creation - a linen jacket made using Vogue 7610.  (I love it!)

I made the same alterations recently discovered -ie  my adjustments.  I am so happy to know what my usual adjustments are.  This is silly, but I used to get jealous when I read someone else refer to her usual FBA or her usual swayback adjustment.  I just could not figure out what the heck was making my clothes fit so weird.  And I had these fitting issues in RTW as well as commercial sewing patterns.
But now I know!
I cut the shoulders narrow to match my shoulder length which is 4.5" or so.
The from the armpits down, I'm OK - it's my shoulders that need fitting.  I also noticed that the adjustment amount was a lot less on this Vogue (Sanda Betzina) pattern than Kwik Sew.

How did I learn my usual adjustments?  My basic patterns from Bernina My Label pattern making software.  I have used those basic patterns to death.  I also use them to alter commercial patterns.

I'll add shoulder pads and that will help, but it's nice that I can get by without shoulder pads, too.
No fancy Hong Kong seam finishes- I was lucky I had time to serge it.  And I was a little short on fabric so I used Bemberg rayon lining for some of the inner pieces.  Next time, I'll use heavier thread for top-stitching, but this time I just used what I had on hand. 
doing the happy dance here!!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

like a kid with candy - another version of Jalie 2793

Thank you all for your encouraging comments.  It is so much fun to sew along with you.  We have taken a solitary pursuit and turned it into a wonderful social team activity.  Sewing is more fun than ever, and I have loved sewing since I was a young girl, so that's saying something.

I made another dress; started after 9am and finished by noon.  Finally getting some payback on all the effort spent learning to sew knits and unlocking mysteries of the good fit. 
My skinned knees are nice and red today, but I guess they aren't too visible in this pic.  I took a big flying tumble on our long walk yesterday.  Didn't really hurt myself at all; just having skinned knees is a novelty.  It makes me feel like a kid in summer and that's a good thing.

I am so glad I took the time to sew another version while it was fresh in my mind.  Sometimes the workweek is so intense I have to re-introduce myself to my project.  That's how my zebra jacket will be.  It's up in Baltimore and I hope to get back to it soon.  All it needs are cuffs, bottom band, buttons and buttonholes.  I sure am sewing a lot of black and white, but that's just what feels fresh to me.  (OK, I confess, I hate changing the thread on the machines! LOL, every time I start something new, if it uses black thread, I'm like "Yes!"  I promise I will change the thread soon and sew a color :)

~*~ happy humidity!  hee hee it is MUGGY here in the Washington DC area today!! ~*~

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Jalie 2793 and a knit from Gorgeous Fabrics

Here is my version of Jalie 2793 made from a knit from Gorgeous Fabrics.  At first, I intended to sew another cardigan but, when I clicked on the link, I noticed Ann had paired a basic black knit with the print and I decided to sew myself a dress with black trim.  I've wanted one for a long time and it seems like they are still in style, so I went for it.

You know how it is when you are shopping, if one piece is good, two are better!! So I also purchased this black and white print.  I intend to make another Jalie 2793 now that I've got the pattern adjusted.
The alterations were very similar to the alterations I did for the New Look 6559 cardigan.  For Jalie, it looks like I need a lotta length.  I added TWO inches to the armscye on the back piece and one inch on the front.  I sloped the front shoulder by about 1/2" and used the sleeve from my TNT t-shirt pattern.  I should be lighting firecrackers here to celebrate.  I finally know how to alter commercial patterns to get a decent fit!  How long did it take?  I wanna say 3 years?  LOL, that's OK!!

And guess what?! I am so excited because I have a reason to play violin.  We are having a talent show at work (yeah, that's kinda weird, isn't it?) and I did a "reply all" on the email announcement asking other musicians to contact me.  I promptly heard from a bagpiper (seriously), a trumpeter, a harpist and a guitarist.The harpist and I have already identified a piece we both know, so I think this is a go!  And my conversation with the guitarist was promising, too.  Not sure about the bagpipes, though.  It was a joy to play again. 
Life is good.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

zebra jacket

Vogue 7610 (out of print)
Sandra Betzina "Today's Fit"
Made from an Anna Sui linen
almost finished!
must go out and eat and enjoy the hot-humid-thunderstorm-threatening day
Tacos at Chipotle

Happy Sewing!