Monday, November 29, 2010

Fitting for small shoulders and neck

Working with DRJ (dear reader Jan) has been quite informative.  She sewed the muslin from the pattern I drafted for her, and she sent photos.  I had made the shoulders and neck at least 2 sizes smaller than the torso, and they still need to be smaller!  Just like my shoulders!  It is so nice to know I am not the only one with this fitting requirement.
Here are pictures to explain the pattern adjustments.  First we will get the neck and shoulders right, then work our way down the bodice. As always, there are no seam allowances on these pattern pieces.
A horizontal balance line (HBL) is a valuable aid in the fitting process.  If it's not level, the garment does not yet fit.  The HBL at the bottom of the armscye is an important landmark when we compare this pattern to a commercial pattern.  DRJ will want something a little more stylish than this basic bodice.  We'll use this in conjunction with commercial patterns.   More to come on that topic.
Just FYI, I ruined a perfectly good pattern when I made my recent striped shirt with a yoke.  What a pain to re-construct my TNT bodice pattern, and all because I was over-confident and did NOT trace a copy for the new style.
At first, the bodice looked like it needed a vertical dart starting at the neckline in the center front.  Upon closer inspection, the entire top of the bodice needed to be graded down.  How did I know that?  Well the shoulder seam length was correct, however it was hanging off her shoulder.  And, the neckline was too far away from her neck - at the side, at the front and at center back.  The neckline was just too big. 

The back of the bodice does not gape - it does not look like it needs a dart.  However, the neckline is too big and needs to be re-drawn smaller.  The armscye line at the shoulder seam also needs to be re-drawn to follow DRJ's own arm.

Coming along nicely!  And another reader has emailed me and we are just getting started.   With permission, I will post pictures when we have finished.

Back to my sewing, the last thing I touched was my pajama pants.  I promptly came down with a horrible cold the next day.  If you have to be sick, it's nice to have cute pj pants.  
Hope you aren't sneezing and sniffling where you are!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Mojo Swerve!

Steering skillfully through the obstacle course of other sewing projects, the mojo has avoided a shirt in progress, *Christmas sewing*, a pants alteration and pajama tops.  
The project drawing my attention now is **this coat:**
Upon careful review of the pattern pieces and the instructions, interest is growing, because this looks very accomplish-able.  It.Looks.Very.Possible.That.I.Can.Sew.This.Coat.

The pattern pieces are simple and I understand them (always a bonus).  The collar is really a shawl collar with cut-on lapels. The collar has only the one seam at center back.  

The first time I sewed a shawl collar was on a bathrobe and I don't mind sharing that it confused the heck out of me.  But- once you've sewn a shawl collar, it is not hard at all.  Now, I know many of you readers can do this in your sleep.  While I do possess some dress-making skills (I have pretty good manual dexterity and my eye-hand coordination is, well, I am vain over it) but I am NOT an expert in many of the construction techniques alla you's guys do with one hand tied behind your backs.  I blame it all on the extended learning period I spent learning how to perform my personal fitting alterations.

*Christmas Sewing* 
OK, we knew that whole "I am only sewing one gift this year" was a throw-away remark, right?  When friends and family show interest in my work, then get enthusiastic about fabrics (which I have forced them to pet- yes I drag them upstairs to the sewing nook and pull out all the wonderful pieces that would look so nice on them) it is inevitable that promises are happily made. I get all warm and fuzzy inside. Who can fight the warm & fuzzy feeling? So I am making several scarves as Christmas presents.  At least I was realistic this year and chose projects that don't take a long time to complete.  whew!

**this coat**
This pattern comes from the Blue Gardenia run by the delightful Denise Calhoun.  Pop over to her site to read about her next give-away.  It is a good one! Her blog is fun to read, and frankly I am surprised she doesn't have a lot more followers.  The reason, I suspect, is that TypePad uses a different format to become a follower.  I know I clicked to become a follower more than once and changed my mind midway through the process for the simple reason it was different from the blogger format.  But I persevered because she provides valuable content to us on the interwebs and she needs our support to continue.  I am all about supporting my cyber-friends.

I'll close with a recap of an interesting project I've been carrying out with  delightful reader Jan (DRJ).  She emailed and asked a few fitting questions and we got into a correspondence. She is now in the final stages of completing her first-ever fitted bodice pattern that will become her Tried & True (TNT) bodice pattern. I'll show DRJ how I use my TNT bodice to speed up fitting adjustments on commercial patterns.  

DRJ has all the same issues I struggle with - the very small shoulder /neck situation combined with an otherwise standard bosom and torso. Jan also deviates from standard height, although she needs to remove height where I need to increase.  Pretty much the same concept.  

Anyhooo, DRJ has given her permission for me to post her photos here on the blog and as soon as we wrap up the project, I'll give you the whole thing, with step-by-step explanation to show how we went from "before" to "after".
Thanks DRJ for sharing your work with me!

Because I enjoyed it so much, I will open this to you dear readers-  if you have a fitting issue and you think I might be able to help, please email me.  If I feel we are a good fit (sorry, couldn't resist that pun), we'll correspond and get the problem solved.  For DRJ, I drafted a pattern based on her measurements and the photos she sent. I mailed the pattern to her with a piece of muslin so she could sew it up and send pictures back to me.  It does require honest measurements, pictures and a hefty dose of determination, but otherwise it's not that hard.

My email address can be found in my profile- it is alittlesewing at gmail dot com.

Evidently, mothering instincts don't disappear after the child has grown - that is the only reason I can come up with to explain my intense desire to help other people.  Now that my daughter has grown up, I need to apply this energy somehow!  

A sewing friend told me, "You are like the Mother of the... yes, that's it ... you are like The Mother Teresa of Sewing!"  (warm fuzzy feeling popped up)
Yeah, well, we all have our quirks, don't we?

Have a happy moment here or there - or wherever you can find one!

Enjoy ~

Friday, November 26, 2010

Pajama Sewalong - started

Two Hours = 2 pairs of PJ pants.

Ann decided we should sew pajamas!  And she started on Wednesday night.  That, I cannot imagine-  I was shopping in a craft store for centerpiece doo-dads on Wednesday night.  We hosted 14 friends and family on Thanksgiving day.  I pushed all the living room furniture out of the way and set up 2 long tables end-to-end.  The table cloth was made from upholstery fabric.  And my doo-dads?  Can you believe I paid $4.99 for a bag of pinecones?  I am a little embarrassed about that, but it was dark outside!  How could I go foraging for pine cones in the dark?  It looked pretty, though.  Anyway, suffice to say- I had a very busy 36 hours that ended last night at 10pm.  It was pretty wonderful, actually.

Back to my pajamas, I was glad to have a nudge from Ann to get these pajamas sewn.  These fabrics have been patiently waiting to become pajamas.  The pink flowered pants in front are sewn with cotton I bought at Dongdaemun when I visited Seoul last February.  The red-flowered pants are sewn with a Robert Kaufman cotton found on the remnant table (BeeBee calls it the Wall of Fabric) at G Street Fabrics. 

I like a label in the back of my pants so I know which way to put them on.  I made these little labels using scraps from a previous project (see this fabric here) and now I am in love with my PJ pants.

 Tomorrow I will use the baby blue knit to sew pajama tops. 
 Which pattern will I use?  To be determined.
Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Vogue Patterns on Facebook!

Someone over there is doing a good job!  On Facebook, Vogue Patterns gave a shout-out to Meg's great blog Shop the Garment District.  Then last week they found Ann Rowley linked to Ann's fabulous sewing documented on her Flickr page.  Today they linked to new-to-me blog The Style Shepherd.   

Vogue Patterns understands the power of social media -> links connect us.

We, the online sewing community; we are a resource and 
we are fueling the rising interest in home sewing.
Thank you Vogue Patterns!

Go Vogue Patterns!!

**updated on Friday, November 26:
I ordered a 2 year subscription to Vogue Patterns Magazines (it really IS a good sewing magazine- I had let the subscription lapse accidentally) and I signed up for ClubBMV.  And I am making a commitment to myself:  I will sew more Vogue patterns.  If you read my blog, you know I am not too good at using commercial patterns.  I tend to use my own drafted patterns because I am still learning how to make my fitting adjustments.  But no excuses, I am going to wear some well-designed clothing.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

tying your scarf

***update to the fabric giveaway ***
***  Victoria of 'Ten Thousand Hours' is the winner ***

This silk is 8 inches wide and 68 inches long.  It still needs the edges finished.  It's a leftover from last weekend's scarf frenzy (see recent posts - there is a description of how I sewed the hems).  Just leave a comment if interested.  Shipping is on me and I don't mind shipping internationally.

OK, here is something fun - I get to sew in a different colorway!  I am sewing exactly one gift this year (for a woman who celebrates Hannukah, now that I think about it :)
She is a co-worker who appreciates my sewing and made it clear that a scarf would make her very happy, so I am delighted to sew this project.  Plus, she said she will give me a gift, too.  Yeah we are really whooping it up all right!!!

This is the same fabric I sewed for myself - the vibrant silk burnout from a recent post.  It's just a different colorway.

Change of subject ... thank you, Barbara,  for commenting about pre-washing menswear!  um, YES!
You reminded me of a very sad loss a few years ago.  A pair of pants shrunk after washing in cold water on the delicate cycle.  I always hang dry, too.  I've sewn menswear wools for years and years and it only happened one time.  Thank you for the reminder!

I find that some menswear suitings don't change much after washing, but others soften up nicely.  The dark charcoal gray pants in my previous post are a good example of wool that softened nicely and looks just a little more casual now, which I like.

And to all of you who have made such nice comments about my illustrations, I thank you, and I give you my secret: Snag-It.  It is an inexpensive tool for capturing screenshots and editing them.  They just released a Mac version and I love it!  I use both PC and Mac versions and they are both great.  I use this tool a lot for my job.

Sorry no links in this post ... it is just a quickie while I eat breakfast.  (You can google snag-it :)
Headed to the sewing room, and not even sure what I'm tackling today.  I love that feeling!!
Have a great weekend, all!

Friday, November 19, 2010

this little red thread made me smile

I was just sitting at a red light this morning and saw this:
I guess I missed a piece!  I have enjoyed wearing this coat.  It feels like "me".  I have not gotten an unsolicitation on it, but I've had many compliments from friends who know I sew.  It is fun to discuss with a non-sewing person, too.  Funny how surpised people are when you tell them how long it took.  I guess sewing seems fast and easy, for some reason!
yay, it's Friday!

After 3 months, grand jury duty is finally over.  I learned about the kinds of crimes committed around here, how they are prosecuted, and the correctional system.  I am reminded that people will never stop surprising me.  And the cops I met do love donuts.

Happy Sewing!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

scarves a'plenty

I sewed lots of little baby hems over the weekend and now I have scarves.  Nothing like jumping right into the deep end of the pool.  I am now a wearer of scarves:
I'll leave them on the dress form for a while and enjoy the view :)
I decided not to insert elastic or anything tricky.  Just baby hems along the edges.  I cannot remember where I learned how to do this.  I must have read it somewhere.

In addition to the silks I got at G Street Fabrics, I found a few at Michael's 'A Fabric Place' in Baltimore. I picked up a couple pieces of fine wool suitings for pants.

Has this happened to you?  I am really tired of clothes that wear out too fast.  Specifically, all of my pants are too short!  I am talking about the cotton khaki and twill pants I've sewn over the last year.  I pre-washed but I seem doomed the awkwardness of short pants.  The only thing that really lasts forever is menswear wool suiting.  I don't dry clean - I just wash them on the gentle cycle.  So, I will make more and perhaps some skirts.  I've lost any loyalty towards cotton.  For now, anyway.

I hope you had a nice weekend.  It is gorgeous in our neck of the woods - my favorite time of year.
Happy Sewing!

Friday, November 12, 2010

answering a reader question: sewing a test garment

What if...

But it's so much work.. do I really want to do all that?

I recommend it!

answering a reader question: about seam allowances

A reader emailed me with a question about fitting.  During the discussion, I think she answered her own question.  Along the way, the subject of seam allowances came up. It made me think ...
Thinking => Create Pictorial!

Keeping my TNT patterns in this raw state - without seam allowances, allows me to make changes quickly & easily.  I use an Olfa rotary cutter (RTY-1/G) with an attached guide arm to add my seam allowances.

You know I am trained as an accountant, right?  Hmm, 5 pictures * 1,000 words.
I think I just wrote a 5,000 word blog post.

Hey, Happy Friday!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Mojo U-turn

I had a little time today so I went to the mall and bought a few solid color V-neck sweaters to wear with the shirts I'm sewing.  My wardrobe is shaping up to be a lot of basics, so I need some pizazz to accessorize.  I looked at scarves and saw some nice things, but nothing just right.   I was close to G Street Fabrics, so I picked up silks for scarves.  Two of them were 58" wide, so I bought 1/4 yard.  The other 2 were only 45" wide, so I bought a half yard each.
I already sewed narrow hems onto my favorite piece and here is my new scarf:

I really liked looking at colors and patterns for a change.  
A silk scarf around the neck is so nice this time of year.

I named the fabrics:

For this one, I think I will use an idea I picked up when browsing at the mall.  I will run a channel for elastic up the center turning it into a long ruffle - does that make sense?  I can see it in my mind's eye.  It will bear some resemblance to an oversized scrunchie.   

Sewing my own scarves is something I have wanted to do for years.  

So simple, but I never got around to it until today.  It was a bright spot in an otherwise very stressful day.
Happy mid-week to you.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

vintage coat pattern and Blue Gardenia

Pagoda shoulders?  Doesn't that sound interesting! Thank you to Carole for posting a comment with that link to Jeffery Dudich's blog, Made by Hand.  When I catch a glimpse of myself in the gray coat, I notice there is a bit of pagoda shape, and I like it, I like it!  It is a good look for me to pursue - obviously it will be a pretty natural fit for my particular skeletal structure.  Also, I got an email from another reader with specific information from a fitting book and I really appreciate it.  All of the comments you leave are helping refine my efforts at shoulder fitting and it is wonderful to make some progress in this area.

The idea of pagoda shoulders caused me to linger over this pattern- it is from the 1940's and I found it on Denise Calhoun's wonderful site for vintage patterns, The Blue Gardenia.   Her blog, where we have been enjoying her series on sewing spaces,  is The Blue Gardenia learns to sow her blossoms.  My sewing room is featured there today.  Denise envies me my Wolf dress form and all I can say is, yep it is pretty awesome!  Oh, and my kittehs are trained attack cats, by the way. 
Because my fitting confidence is rising (thank you readers!!), and because these are pagoda-ish shoulders and because it looks soooo cosy, and I love everything about it, I bought this pattern from her:
The seamline on the shoulder (the one perpendicular to the shoulder seam) is exactly one of the places where Jeffery Dudich advises as an opportunity for fitting the scooped shoulder.  You can see how that pattern had to belong to me, can't you?
It is a size 10 with a 30 inch bust, ha ha ha!! But I am very interested in seeing the pattern pieces and the instructions.  I think I can make my own pattern using my blocks if I have the design details and instructions to study.  And I have a gorgeous dark teal wool fabric that would be divine in this pattern. 
When I will sew it? 
Only the mojo knows for sure! 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Striped Shirt finished - with buttons from Korea

I found some really cute buttons when I visited Dongdaemun in Korea last February.  It's nice to use them.

Vicky - I serged the seams.  I already had enough challenges with the alterations I was attempting.

Thanks everyone for your feedback about curving that shoulder seam - that's the next experiment.
And thanks for the compliments on the coat!  I am enjoying it.
For now, no UFO's.  That feels good.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

A curved shoulder seam? It worked on my coat!

Fabric Give-Away:  Comment #29 gets the shirting fabric.  mitch1099 - I sent an email to you.

soooo, where am I on the shirt?

I tried it on this morning after inserting the sleeves.  Right off the bat, it seemed wonky and I started to doubt the pattern changes I had made.  I had added a yoke, removed ease in the sleeve and made a sloped shoulder adjustment to the back.

Feeling disappointed, I tossed the shirt aside and left the sewing room to do other things.   When I came back and tried it on again, it didn't seem so bad after all.

The main issue I see is across the shoulder. Shoulder seams on patterns are always straight, but my shoulder is not straight.  My shoulder scoops down and then out.  Maybe I should curve the shoulder seam.

I had an epiphany as I mulled over the adjustment Kenneth King made to my coat when he curved that shoulder seam:

Maybe my shoulders are always shaped like that - not just when I am getting fitted by Kenneth King!  Who would have thought?  Perhaps I would prefer a shirt that has a curved shoulder seam!

So, I will finish this shirt, but the next one won't have a yoke.  At least, not a traditional yoke like this one.
Speaking of the gray coat, I wore it today and got some photos.  The curved shoulder seam is great, too!
I love my new coat.  It came out kinda short, but ... oh well, I will wear it!
Happy Sewing everyone!

Friday, November 5, 2010

a good use for the catch stitch!

I just recently got Claire Schaffer's new DVD and I love it.  It is a sewing workshop with Claire demonstrating and explaining basic hand-sewing techniques, pressing and other topics.   I had never used a catch stitch very much, but she showed a way of attaching elastic to a gaping armscye that clicked with me.  She said the catch stitch has elasticity to it, and so it is good to use in situations where there will be some stretch /stress to the seam.

On Tuesday this week, I took my sewing machine to work, along with Pamela's Patterns T-Shirt Makeover pattern, some tracing paper, black thread & scissors.  I altered t-shirts for my co-workers to wear to a team-building event at work.  The work went fast, but I got stuck in thinking about the hem.  I certainly wasn't going to drag a serger to work.  (Yes, it was fun to sew in my cubicle!  Other people made the labels and brewed the beer - I sewed).  I used the catch stitch on the hems and it turned out great!  The ladies were very happy with their fitted t-shirts.

couture t-shirt details

couture t-shirts

couture t-shirts lovely ladies
hmmm, I just noticed that everyone is a petite except me!
It turned out to be a very fun event at work.
*What a week*  **TGIF**
hope you have a nice weekend!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

shirt collar: ON

IMG_1907, originally uploaded by alittlesewing.
It has been a while since I made a shirt, but I'll tell you what, shirts used to seem hard to me. Now that I have sewn a coat, shirts don't seem so hard! There is your sewing advice for the day- sew something hard so everything else can seem easy.

So, anyway, about tiny stripes and matching. If I had paid attention, I would have noticed that the stripes of the collar match a little differently on on end than the other.  And because I was reading David Page Coffin's book last night, I know he has a construction technique that provides some last minute correction of this type of issue.

I am glad to know that there are other people even more OCD than I am (I am looking at you David Page Coffin). But, really, this is good enough! LOL. Sewing is the perfect hobby for a perfectionist.

Happy Tuesday!