Wednesday, March 21, 2012

pattern alterations - Style Arc Abby

Are you tired of me yet?  I took a lot of pictures while sewing my cardigans here and here.  
A few asked, so I will show you my pattern alterations.  Plus, I am in a rush to sew up all the fabric I bought.  I have buyer's enthusiasm.  Or whatever is the opposite of buyer's remorse.

This post describes how I approach upper back and shoulder alterations.  I am dealing with excessive height, in case you haven't noticed.  Being tall is really not that great, by the way.

Starting with the back, the first step is to locate a fixed point from which to measure and compare the pattern to the body.  What works for me is the intersection of center back and a horizontal balance line at the bottom of the armscye.
Now it is a matter of reconciling the pattern to the body.    
The length of the shoulder is fine.
The width of the back is fine.
I like this about the cut of Style Arc patterns.  Based on my measurements,
I wear an Australian size 12 and the overall proportions are very good.  

 I think of the shoulder slope as a triangle consisting of lengths from center back to the neck and the shoulder tip, 
along with the shoulder seam, form a triangle.  By increasing these back lengths, the shoulder seam will now rest at the natural top of my shoulder.  To me, this is what's happening when I hear terms like "moving the shoulder seam forward" or doing a "forward shoulder adjustment".  For a more educated explanation of measuring, see Maddy's post on how to draft a bodice block.  I just recently found her lovely blog Madalynne.   
I also do some garden-variety adjustment at the hips (to add more, of course!) and then on to the front.

The front is placed on the body the same way - by aligning center front vertical line and horizontal line at armscye bottom.
Extra fabric is needed on the front, too, in order to place the
shoulder seam at the natural top of the shoulder.
Additionally, the collar is extended to meet in the back
on the center back seam.
The style of the cardigan calls for drapey-ness in the front, so it
requires a little imagination to ignore the paper flopping around.
In the photo above, you can see how the front is too wide and the excess
is scooped out at the front of the shoulder.
A corresponding increase to the sleeve cap is needed
to accomodate the greater circumference of the armscye.
In more fitted styles, I'll  narrow the bodice front above the armscye, perform a full bust adjustment below the armscye, and lower the bust apex.  I added at the hips only in the back, not in the front.  That kept the side seams hanging straight.

My notes.  I measured, then did flat pattern alterations on the
work table.  

The yellow broken lines show where more paper was taped to the
pattern to create the new, altered pattern pieces.  I always add
quite a bit to the sleeve cap in the front.  I measure the armscye, and measure
the sleeve cap and try to make them equal.   In a woven fabric,
the sleeve head can be an inch more than the armscye, but not much more
than that. 
If you can decipher this image, it shows what was added to the
shoulder seam on the front, what was added to the shawl collar
and what was added to the facing (also shoulder).
Oh how I love this new cardigan!!

About the dress form - it is undeniably a luxury to have a custom dress form for my sewing hobby.  I had to slow down on cut out fabric purchases for a year to cover the cost, but it has proven a valuable tool and it saves me a lot of time.  Don't worry, I had a healthy stash to tide me over while I was on the fabric wagon.

A dress form is not a necessity.  Accurate measurements, a camera, some curiosity and persistence will get the job done.  Oh, and time, and patience, we can't forget those.  Having unusual measurements may cause a little more time spent in pattern alteration, but it is worth every bit of effort.

Bonus: patience is a virtue, so all this sewing will make you a better person too.
What more could you ask for?

Have a great day!
{I think that's all I have to say for now.}
(thank you for all your lovely comments about the bright print and the finished garments!!)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Hemming the Abby cardigan- tips & tricks

The instructions suggest serging a baby rolled hem.
I will show you how I hemmed my SA Abby and
finished the point at the bottom of center front.

this is a view of a side seam

The "facing" as such, hangs loose using this method.
I did not stitch them to the front.

Next step is to machine-stitch along the edge of the
hem, where the point of the facing meets the hem

Pin along the creases - that is the hem.

Once certain of accuracy, sew the seam.  I recommend starting
mid-way and sew towards the point.  If you start at the point, the
sewing machine needle likes to push it down into the hole
and generate a nice tight knotted mess that could cause cursing
and using scissors to extricate the point and ...
you get the idea.

Definitely practice on scraps until you have it down.
Instead of sewing by machine, you could sew by hand
using a catch-stitch.

Pattern alterations for fitting adjustments - next post.
Let me know if you have questions-

Sunday, March 18, 2012

fresh cardigan

You know how every sewing project is a bundle of hopes?  ...

I hope this fabric has the right drape 
I hope this style works for me 
I hope I don't make a mistake that ruins it

I hoped this fabric wasn't too loud. I was afraid it would wear me instead of the other way around.
The Abby Cardigan by Style Arc Patterns
Hoping to mitigate that factor, I sewed it as a cardigan rather than a top or a dress.  You can always take a cardigan off, right? Ha!  But I think it really works - or maybe I should say I feel great in this fabric now that it's made up.  The viscose is definitely more luxurious than other knits and that is a bonus, too.  Spending $18/yard is a little nerve-wracking until the garment turns out to be a winner.  Then it suddenly seems the opposite.  It took 2 yards, so this is a $36 cardigan.  But it looks and feels much more expensive than the type of store I might shop in (like Chico's or Coldwater Creek).  I think I am repeating the type of things said by judges on Project Runway, but you know what I mean.

Adding a belt pulls in the volume and makes it just a little shorter which I like.  I cut this at the length provided, but did not sew the rolled edge hem as instructed.  The length felt a little awkward, as though it needed to be either longer or shorter.  Adding a 1.25 inch hem brought it up a bit.

Casually tied in front; the front facing makes for very little bulk
while hiding the wrong side of the fabric.
I really like this feature of this pattern design.

Hanging freely is comfortable, too.  The shawl collar adds
more structure than a collar-less design, and
it helps the cardigan hang better on my frame.
The pattern alterations were a little time-consuming, as usual, but now I have another tried and tried (TNT) pattern to add to my SWAP.  I am seriously considering sewing it again with another of the loud prints I bought last week.  The sewing part is fast, so maybe I can knock that out soon.

I'll do another post on fitting adjustments for the those of you who like going down that rabbit hole with me.

Happy Sewing!

Friday, March 16, 2012

fresh fabric

I had the good fortune to find myself in Manhattan on Monday, with a couple hours to shop for fabric.  I was looking for beefy knits in solid colors.  
And this is what I got:
viscose knit jersey
rayon knit jersey 
the upper piece is woven, lower piece is a coordinating knit
light weight stretch cotton woven 
rayon jersey
cotton voile (also comes in a knit which I didn't see
until I got home and looked at their website)
I didn't have the right energy to mount a serious search for solid colors, so I let myself drift into emotional shopping.  Perhaps the recent shift to Daylight Savings Time left me feeling a little tired and droopy.

Most of these came from Elliott Berman Textiles in the garment district.  It is a small-ish operation on the 7th floor of an office building, set up more like a warehouse than a shop.  For the quality, the prices are reasonable.  More and more, high quality matters to me.  I suppose my sewing skills have finally become dependable enough to trust that I will not ruin the fabric.  {knock on wood}

My stash is now officially built back up to maximum!  I had sewn it down, but of course, that didn't last long.

And the world goes round and round, just as it should.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

How Not to Sew Bengaline

I learned a lesson about stretch.  If a fabric is stable in one direction and stretchy in the other, the stretch really should always go around the body.  I confirmed that fact.
Let me re-state that:  if you want lots of weird wrinkling in your lap, or even a camel toe, then by all means, arrange the stretch north - south.  I selected a photo with shadows discreetly hiding the issue, but I trust your imagination will suffice.

Oh alright, here is a better image:
Did I tell you about my cheerleading hobby?
That is the only reason I can imagine why my Bengaline pants did not turn out well.  I sewed 3 more pairs of pants using the same rayon-poly-lycra gabardine (RPL) I'd used before, and they all turned out well.
I sewed all three pants in one day!

I did not spend all day sewing, either!

And these are the first navy blue pants I've had in years.  

I have added these pants to my pool of garments for the SWAP 2012.   Now that I have seven pairs of pants from this Style Arc pattern (the Linda pant), I'd say it has been worth the purchase.

The big lesson learned is to sew multiples when I find accessible fabric in colors I like.  The RPL may not be a very fashion-forward choice, but it makes my life easy and that counts for a lot.

Regarding the bengaline, thank you, in advance, for your sympathy.
And that was my special Australian fabric, too!

I'll wear them; with a long tunic, but I will wear them.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Design Challenge in Portland

In February, a local television station (KATU's AM Northwest) ran a design challenge.  You already know this if you get Palmer/Pletsch newsletters.


You can read more and watch the rest of the episodes on KATU's website here.

Also in the newsletter were contest winners - first prize went to The Mahogany Sewist - Cennetta Burwell.
Stunning work Cennetta, kudos to you!

Ready for the weekend?  I sure am!

ps THANK YOU to Sarah at Goodbye Valentino and Pauline at P's Thrifty Sewing Blog for awarding me the Versatile Blogger award.  It's so hard to pick only a few blogs to nominate that I would rather not.  I do, however, appreciate your blogs and all the new blogs I am finding when I check your blog rolls.  Recognition from you means more than you can imagine.  THANK YOU!!

So - the design challenge tv show - what do you think?  I only saw the first episode (above) but it looked pretty interesting.  I like that one of the contestants is old enough to have adult children and she went back to college.  I look forward to seeing what all of them accomplish!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Reader Question: SWAP Planning- thoughts?

This was my plan for the 2008 SWAP. 

Oksana left a comment on this post "Sewing With A Plan - SWAP 2012":

"I like your SWAP plan, really!
I am just thinking about it but I do not know how to begin and where to go :)
can you share some ideas about it?
I mean - where and how should I begin? Should I chose models [ie styles] I like, than find all the patterns, buy ALL the fabrics? Or there is another way?"

Discovering your planning preferences is a wonderful part of the DIY clothier’s journey to self sufficiency and personal expression.  That's the DIY way!

Let’s start with the rules (taken directly from Stitchers Guild sewing discussion forum) for this particular sewing challenge, SWAP 2012.

"SWAP 2012 will focus on fitting, and making tried-and-true patterns:

From this list, choose seven garments.  From those seven, choose four to make twice for a total of 11 garments that will work together.
  • Button Down Shirt w/Collar           
  • Blouse or shirt   (collar is optional)                 
  • T-Shirt           
  • Vest                               
  • Overshirt                 
  • Dress             
  • Jeans
  • Trousers       
  • Shorts or Capri Pants       
  • Skirt   
  • Jacket (jean jacket, windbreaker, hoodie, etc.)                     
  • Coat  (suit or sport coat)
  • Overcoat or Raincoat     
  • Bathing Suit and Coverup"

Q: "Should I chose models I like?"
We sew to express our personal style.  You don’t need to select all 7 models (in the US, we call them styles, designs, silhouettes, "looks"...) at once; you can take things one at a time.  Many enjoy the creative process of creating a design board, using magazine clippings on a bulletin board, digital images and software, Pinterest or Polyvore.  I enjoy that sort of planning, but it’s not how I always work.

Q: "then find all the patterns?"
Based on the spirit of SWAP 2012, start with patterns you already own. Which of them are tried and true; offering predictable results every time?  Are you starting with a blank slate and you need to develop 7 well-fitting patterns?  If so, start with one simple pattern, put blinders on, and get that pattern to work for you.  Take it one step at a time.
If you have many patterns that are tried and true, now is the time to seek out new styles and turn them into TNTs.

Q: "then buy ALL the fabrics?"
should you buy all fabrics at the planning stage?  That, my dear, depends on your personality!  Some of us are absolutely energized by fabric shopping and some of us prefer to shop for each piece as inspiration strikes.  

As exciting as it is to design the collection there are equally daunting execution challenges for the sewing warrior. 

I will delve into some of the things that have challenged me up in each category, and how I am working my way through those challenges.  Every new project produces knowledge.  Arrivals at new skill levels alway involved a journey through obstacles and triumphs.

For my 2012 SWAP, I have not created a story board nor have I created any sort of plan.  I am working opposite of that.  I have a page set up on my blog to keep track of what I am sewing, organized by pattern.  At the end of the sewing time frame, I will select the pieces that belong in one coherent group and meet the rules of the SWAP.

What about you, my fellow SWAP-ers?
How are you planning your work?
Do you have enough well-fitted patterns, or are you spending a lot of time on that?
For more discussion, you can visit the Stitcher's Guild forum.