Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Andrew, if you are reading…

…stop and exit now or you’ll spoil your surprise!

I made a gift for Andrew, my SIL, for Christmas this year. It had occurred to me that last year, he made a handmade gift for me. I hadn’t planned to make gifts, but decided I had better make at least ONE! So I put on my thinking cap.

Here is what I came up with:

Andrew had asked for a sketchbook. I purchased two: a large one and a small one. I decided to make a cover for the small one only.

I started by finding a picture of Andrew and taking it into Photoshop. I chose BLACK for my color sample, then, on the top toolbar, I chose FILTERS. From the Filter drop-down menu, I chose SKETCH…then PHOTOCOPY as the type of sketch. Voila! The color photo now looks like a sketch of Andrew!

I created a 'picture package' to print multiple images…I chose one that had several 2.5” x 3.5” pictures on it, as that was the size I wanted the finished block to measure. To do this, I went to the top toolbar again….to FILE, then AUTOMATE, then PICTURE PACKAGE. To print this, I cut a piece of freezer paper down to 8½ x 11” and ironed it to some muslin, and cut the muslin to be the same size. I put this into my printer and printed the picture directly on the muslin.

I don't know WHY Blogger sometimes insists on rotating my pictures! Nor can I figure out how to prevent or correct this...

I wasn’t sure how permanent this was, so I ironed it first….then got my finger wet and put a tiny bit of water on the image in the lower right corner. Sure enough, it did smear a bit! I know there is a product that can be used to make images permanent, but I don’t have any of that product right now! I dabbed it dry, ironed it again and decided I will NOT get this near water! Then I used a marker and redrew the image areas that smeared…although there were plenty of images and I didn’t plan to use that particular one.

I chose some stash fabrics and started piecing, just random colors and sizes…designing as I go. I created a pieced strip, then turned under its two long, raw edges. I placed it over a larger piece of fabric and stitched it on…using a zigzag at the top and a straight stitch at the bottom using gray thread. Then I changed to brown thread and did some more rows of stitching, zigzagging over the first row as well as doing a blanket stitch on a couple of other seams. I used a variegated thread to zigzag over the straight stitch on the lower edge of the strip.

I trimmed it roughly to size and fused some D├ęcorBond onto the back. I put another piece of the background fabric over the DecorBond (like a sandwich).

Next I folded under about 4” at the right end, to create a pocket to slide the front cover into, then I serged around the edges. I decided to trim the corners off of what will be the flap. I cut a wide strip of fabric and folded it in half, lengthwise, stitched and turned, then pressed flat to make a large belt-loop like thing to slide the back cover under…I pinned this in place. Then I cut some strips to use as binding. I decided to piece the binding, for a more scrappy look. A bit of blanket stitching held it in place.

To make the closure, I put some wooden and copper beads onto2 or 3 strands of embroidery floss…cannot remember how many I finally was able to get through the beads! It was tricky…I ended up using a dental floss threader! Anyway, I tied knots to hold the beads in place, then used the variegated thread to zigzag over the embroidery floss to make cording. I sewed the cording in place on the flap, then sewed another bit of floss onto the flap, which I used to tie the button on. More floss and another button on the cover and Voila! The cording wraps around the buttons to keep it closed.

I wanted to add a pencil pocket on the inside, but since I was making this up as I went along, I didn’t know exactly WHERE to put it. So the pocket was created last, and sewn on by hand. Arrrgh! I did the zigzagging around the edge in variegated threads first (by machine!), then hand sewed it in place using brown thread and a blanket stitch.

Merry Christmas, y'all!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Treasure Boxes

These are the treasure boxes I have been working on. A while back (OK, Winter, 2005), Quilting Arts Magazine had an article about making these treasure boxes...little fabric things that fold up to be a box-like thing that one can put treasures into. My friend, Marilyn, had made some of these and showed them to us at a meeting of the Memphis Sewing Guild. Well, I decided that these would be the perfect way to give Gift Cards that we are giving to various people this year, so I gathered some supplies and decided to make treasure boxes.

I had found a pattern for this box online somewhere a while back...and I apologize but I cannot remember WHERE I found this, so cannot give credit.
Having NOT made these before, I wasn't sure if this box was even the right size for the cards to fit, so I cut out the paper pattern to test it (Marilyn had given lottery tickets in hers). Sure enough, it was too small across the base for the gift card. Phooey. So I opened it in Photoshop and resized it. Then I printed it and cut it out, folding again to be sure the card would fit inside. Still no good.

Finally, I just cut the paper pattern and slashed and spread until it was the right size for the gift card, so that the base was a rectangle instead of a square. Then I cut multiple copies of this (3) and began the layout.

I fused some DecoBond (stiff interfacing) to the backside of one (green) fabric, then layed it on the table face down. I placed the other (pink) fabric over it, making a sandwich with the DecoBond inside.

I layed out the patterns and traced around them with a black Sharpie...I planned to stitch in black, so show-through was not a problem.
I rough-cut around each one and stitched on the lines, using a narrow zig zag. Then I cut each one out just barely outside the stitching.

I set the stitch length a bit wider and shorter and stitched around the boxes again, this time stitching off the edge with the 'zag'.
Then I added a bit of glitter paint to give them some sparkle!

To use these, you bring together the two ends TAB ENDS , then bring each slotted end up and insert the tab ends through each slot.

All in all, these were a lot of work for not all that much show! If I had wanted 'boxes' I should have just enlarged the original pattern, rather than reshape it, so these would NOT be so flat. But for little 'envelopes', they worked out great!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

'Tis the Season...

I have been working on non-garment projects lately. Last week the Memphis Sewing Guild had our annual Christmas party. The challenge this year was to make and bring "the stocking of your dreams". These were to be brought in concealed in a brown paper sack, then they would all be layed out on a table and we would guess who brought which stocking. Well, I really don't have a 'dream' stocking. It is just not something I think about all that much. So I procrastinated until the Tuesday before it was due on Thursday. I grabbed a printed velvet from my stash along with a black satin scrap and threw together a stocking. It was finished, but nothing special. I was underwhelmed.

I decided I would purchase some fringe to attach to the little black satin cuff at the top, and that might snaz it up a bit....but it rained all day Tuesday, so I decided to wait until Wednesday. Well, by the time I got around to thinkng about getting ready to consider going to look for trim (are you seeing a pattern here?) it was raining again! Not that I would melt or anything...but who wants their hair to frizz just for some trim to snaz up an underwhelming stocking? Not me.

So I decided to make a different stocking! I decided to think outside the box a bit. I mean, if I don't 'dream' of a stocking, what would I dream of? The gift INSIDE the stocking? Like, a little velvet hinged box and what might be glittering inside? Perhaps a set of new keys with a bow on them? Hmmm.... Well, if I am gonna dream outrageously, I might as well take it further! So Here is "the stocking of my dreams":

My DH couldn't really see the humor in this. ;) But as I explained to him, had I put HIS face on the stocking, none of the ladies would have recognized it (Although he countered that they WOULD know a 'good thing' when they see it! Can't argue with that!).

To make the stocking, I googled George Clooney and found several photo sites. I picked the one I wanted and saved it to my computer. In Photoshop, I cropped and resized it to print 8½" by 11". Then I cut a piece of FREEZER PAPER that same size, ironed it to a piece of muslin, and cut the muslin to the size of the freezer paper. Then I put that into my printer and printed G.C. right onto the muslin.

I peeled the freezer paper off the back and saved it for another day/another print job. Then I put my stocking pattern onto George and cut him out.

Since the muslin was kind of thin, I doubled it, putting an unprinted piece behind G.C. when I cut him out...these were to be treated as one...like an underlining. I chose a black cotton for the backing and the lining and cut these out, too, the same size.

I layered the stocking front and back pieces right sides together.

I put the lining pieces right sides together.

I inserted a short piece of ribbon between the layers of the lining to use as a hanger...I wanted the hanging loop to emerge from INSIDE the stocking. Many times the loop comes from the outside seam of the stocking...this is just personal preference.

Next I stacked the stocking pieces onto the lining pieces and stitched around the whole thing...through ALL the layers.

Then I clipped all around.

To TURN this pile o'stockings right side out, I stick my hand between the stocking and the backing...this is NOT in the middle of the pile.

I cut some bias strips of the black fabric to bind the top. After joining the ends, I folded it in half lengthwise and pinned then stitched it to the top of the stocking, stitching through all layers (lining and stocking).

Then I flipped the binding up and over the top to the inside of the stocking and pinned in place. I stitched in the ditch on the front side to secure the binding and Voila! The 'stocking of my dreams'!

For the original (underwhelming) stocking, I treated the top edge a bit differently. For that one, I cut the lining pieces TALLER than the stocking. Then after the stocking is stitched all around and turned right side out, the lining sticks out the top of the stocking. It is then folded over like a cuff.

The raw edge of the cuff must be dealt with, though. You can:

  1. ravel the edge to create fringe, or

  2. add a sewn-on trim, such as purchased fringe, or

  3. turn under a full cuff's width and stitch or glue it to the top of the stocking.

You could probably calculate how much cuff to turn under and press it into place BEFORE stitching the layers together, so the cuff would be self-lined with a finished edge, although I haven't tried that! These are just a few of the top treatments...I am sure there are many others! But I do love this method of creating lined stockings...quick and easy!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Well, I am not getting anything important done! No sewing...I did do a bit of laundry, plus, I cooked the ham bone from Thanksgiving to make soup! But I stumbled onto this TEST and I was kinda blown away by the results. Pretty 'right on' if you ask me! Hmmm, do you think it is magic?

My results:

I Am a Joan!

You are a Joan -- "I need to succeed"

Joans are energetic, optimistic, self-assured, and goal oriented.

How to Get Along with Me
* Leave me alone when I am doing my work.
* Give me honest, but not unduly critical or judgmental, feedback.
* Help me keep my environment harmonious and peaceful.
* Don't burden me with negative emotions.
* Tell me you like being around me.
* Tell me when you're proud of me or my accomplishments.

What I Like About Being a Joan
* being optimistic, friendly, and upbeat
* providing well for my family
* being able to recover quickly from setbacks and to charge ahead to the next challenge
* staying informed, knowing what's going on
* being competent and able to get things to work efficiently
* being able to motivate people

What's Hard About Being a Joan
* having to put up with inefficiency and incompetence
* the fear on not being -- or of not being seen as -- successful
* comparing myself to people who do things better
* struggling to hang on to my success
* putting on facades in order to impress people
* always being "on." It's exhausting.

Joans as Children Often
* work hard to receive appreciation for their accomplishments
* are well liked by other children and by adults
* are among the most capable and responsible children in their class or school
* are active in school government and clubs or are quietly busy working on their own projects

Joans as Parents
* are consistent, dependable, and loyal
* struggle between wanting to spend time with their children and wanting to get more work done
* expect their children to be responsible and organized

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Just for fun

On Mondays, I generally go to a local community center to meet with a bunch of like-minded ladies who sew. We work on whatever we, individually, are working on at the time. At first, I thought this was a 'Fiber Arts' group...then I decided it was a 'Quilting' group...but really, I am not sure WHAT to call this group! You just never know what we'll be working on. This week was no exception. Etta McFarland had promised to show us how to make tiny beaded fairies and she didn't disappoint...although she did threaten to! She is working on an outfit for competition at Paducah, so was not mentally fired-up about beading. But after a brief period of visiting, she got into the mood and the lesson began!

<<< Here is my finished Fairy. She has blue hair and a blue dress. I wish I had included my hand or something in the picture to show the scale of this...Can you say "tiny'???!!! She is less than 2" tall and 1" wide.

I plan to make lots more of these, once I get the right beads (Etta furnished these). I think I'll hang her from the pull chain of my ceiling fan. Maybe I should make them for ALL the fans in the house! We have lots...this IS the South, you know!

After we made the fairies, we persuaded Etta to show us how to make these silly pipecleaner dolls. They are quick and fun and could be used for lots of things.
Here is mine.>.>.>.>
I called him 'art school Dave'...I made him to give to my uncle David, as it was his birthday and we would be meeting him for a surprise dinner later that night.

I can see making these silly little fun guys to put on the Christmas tree!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Navy Dress part 3

After several days had passed since wearing the dress for the first time (to the wedding), I had been 'away' from the dress long enough to re-address the 'issues' I had with it before wearing it again the following weekend. I called my sister, who came right over to help me evaluate it. I put it on. Immediately, she could tell that it needed to be shorter. Bummer...but I kinda knew that it was too long. I even knew the back was longer than the front, but because of that vent/kick pleat and the number of times I had sewn and ripped it, I had been VERY reluctant to rip again to hem the dress shorter. But I knew that was what was needed, so I was willing.

She also thought the Vneck should be lower, and again, I agreed (hem up, neckline down!). Plus, she wanted me to tighten it up UNDER the bust...contouring the princess seam a bit. So I began working on the neckline and princess seam adjustments, planning to take the dress to her house afterwards so she could mark the desired hem length for me once the alterations were done.

I messed with taking that princess seam up and letting it out about a thousand times! I was adjusting the tiniest amounts...sometimes barely a thread's width! Eventually, I got it to suit me.

Lowering the neckline was no treat, either. I had understitched the facing and there was a lining involved, so 'internal access' was limited! I did have to rip out the thread chains I had used to tie the lining to the hem and that made it easier to get up inside the lining. Actually, I had ripped the stitching and understitching once before...when I first realized that the front was a little shorter than the back, I tried to let out the front shoulders. I ripped the neck facing (not fun...black and navy!) and did let out one side. But it made so little difference that I decided it was not worth the trouble, so I didn't bother with the other shoulder. So I was really looking forward to ripping the neck again, this time to lower it. Not. But I did it and it made a difference...and improvement!

So now I was ready to get the hem marked to shorten the dress...

When I took the dress to my sister's house so she could pin up the hem for me, we also decided it would look better if I reduced the hem circumference....tapered/pegged the hem a bit. So when I got home with it, I had to redo the sideseams (yet again!) to taper the hem before I could begin the actual hemming! But tapering made a WORLD of difference in the way the dress looked! Before, with the hem being as wide as the hip area, the hem actually looked WIDER because my body has less F to B depth at hem level, so the dress hung wider and less deep than at hip level where my body thickness forced it to be deeper and therefore, less wide. By tapering the hem, this reduced the visual width at hem level to be more similar to the visual width at hip level. To determine HOW MUCH to taper the sideseams, I opened PMB and compared the width of the hem using both the STRAIGHT and TAPERED Hemline Sweep. I decided that since the program reduced the hem at each side seam by .75", that is what I would also do...I tapered each sidedseam from hip level to a point = .75" inside at hem. Better!

Unenthusiastically, I struggled through shortening the dress, which entailed a lot of ripping at that back vent. And remember the interfacing that I had fused to the bottom of the dress, so my hem handstitching wouldn't show? Well, turns out, that hem showed anyway, despite the interfacing and my best efforts at hiding those stitches. It was just the nature of that fabric. Well, shortening the dress removed a lot of that interfacing. Since the original hem stitches showed anyway, I decided that THIS TIME, I would just hem the dress using the blindstitch of my sewing machine, rather than take the time to hand stitch it again. Turns out, it had about the same 'invisibility' as before and was much quicker!

After taking in the dress under the bust, my arm mobility was decreased somewhat as compared to the first time I wore the dress. It was still not too bad, but I was aware of the difference. I think I needed a higher armhole, especially as the dress became closer fitting.

I had originally envisioned this dress having beaded trim around the neck but had run out of time before the wedding. I had time now, though (or so I thought!). DSis suggested trim at the sleeve hems would also look nice. So together we went to our local Hancock Fabric store to see what they had. I found a black trim that I could sew beads to...I had plenty of beads at home that would work.

At home, I measured and cut the trim pieces to length, secured the ends to prevent ravelling, then began hand-beading them...ON THE DAY OF THE PARTY! Yep, it was the day of the paty by the time I got to this part. I was running way behind on this remodel! And I don't work fast!!! It was after 4:30 pm when finally got all the beads sewn onto the trim, but the trim was not yet sewn onto the dress! BTW, it was during these hours that DH decided to 'clear' the camera's memory card... sigh.
As it got later and later, my stitches got bigger and bigger...I was sewing as fast as I could to finish sewing the trim to the dress! Finally the trim was on. I made new thread chains to reattach the lining to the dress hem and I was DONE!

I actually finished the dress at 6:30...the party started at 7:00!

I flew to my room to touch up my makeup and comb my hair and we were outta there! And we arrived right on time! It was a good dress for the occasion...Une Grand Souire...a wine tasting and art auction. I looked as good as anyone else there (better than some!) yet didn't look over-dressed.

The pictures of me in the dress were taken after arriving home later that night. I hope my hair looked better earlier!

Navy Dress Part 2

I have been trying to update my progress on this dress, but have failed miserably! It HAS been finished and even worn...twice now! But it was not an easy project! This thing has almost kicked my butt!!! Everything has been more complicated that it should be!

I spent time researching how to do the facing at cb when there is a zipper there...in the end, it was easy, but I *thought* it would be hard so was apprehensive. Basically, I have made everything harder than it needed to be, which *is* my Modus Operandi!

But let me back up a bit...

Since I didn't want to compromise the 'breathability' of this fabric, I chose NOT to underline the dress, as I DID plan to line it. So I fused strips of interfacing above the hem area, so that my hem stitches could catch something other than just the fabric, and hopefully, be invisible. More on this later.

I inserted an invisible zipper...hadn't done one in a while...and my stitching was not quite as close to the zipper teeth as it needed to be to remain 'invisible'...so I stitched each side again a bit closer. Then I zipped it closed. Ackkkk! The cut edges of the neck were not aligned...I had allowed one side of the zipper to shift! I had to rip out one side of the zipper...which had been sewn TWICE!!! And in black thread...on a black zipper. I had to go sit outside on the deck in order to see well enough to rip!

I had taken lots of pictures during the construction of this dress, but DH accidently deleted them before I could upload them to my computer. sigh. He was putting them onto my computer in anticipation of his taking the camera with him to his parents house, and he was doing this while I was very busy and unable to supervise where all my pics were on the memory card and where they should go on my computer. Some were deleted, some were not. sigh.

Next was the French pleat at the back hem. This kick pleat is the slit with underlap kind...oh why did I have to do a French vent? A simple slit would have looked just as nice, even showed a bit of leg! But I planned this without regard for that. And lining a French vent is tricky if you haven't done it in along time, epsecially if you have never been the one to make the pattern! Anytime I have done this in the past, the pattern was made by a professional patternmaker and a template was provided to 'adjust' the lining. Well, this time, I had to make my own pattern and figure out my own 'template' for adjusting the lining!!! And of course, I did it wrong at first...allowed too much seam allowance on the lining edge, so that when the edge of the lining was sewn to the edge of the vent flap, there was excess lining width. Had to rip and resew. Then realized I should have HEMMED the lining before sewing it to this edge of the vent flap. Rip again, then hem and resew. Sheesh! of course...my pictures detailing the steps are gone. sigh. I can show the end result.

Once the zipper was in and the princess and side seams were sewn, I tried the dress on. It was 'roomy' to say the least! I had allowed 5" of hip ease and 2" waist ease...apparently that was too much. I took in the sideseams from above waist to the hem to remove 1" circumference...better.

There was still a fullness above the bust, especially on one side. I decided this was because I really needed a bit more length in the front bodice above the underarm level, which made the front bust level a bit too high. I need an additional 3/8" front length....which also would draft a larger bust dart...but that is for next time! I decided I couldn't fix the Bust Height problem in this dress so I moved on.

I had not yet set the sleeves, but the depth of the armholes was bothering me. I was afraid I had drafted the armholes too deep. I do have square shoulders and often need to raise the AH depth, but had failed to do that. duh. Then I realized that the AHs had stretched....why hadn't I staystitched? duh. I put the pattern on the ironing board and aligned the garment onto its pattern and steamed the AHs back to size and shape, then used some fusible tape to keep them stable...sorry, that picture was deleted. sigh. I'll take one of the fusible product I used to 'fix' the AHs.

Now on to the sleeves: The first set of sleeves were bad (cap height was too low, and I had not allowed enough cap ease), so I redrafted, created and cut new sleeves. This time, I basted the sleeves in! Still not perfect, but usable, once I rotated them a little to look/hang better.

But before I made those new sleeves, though, I wanted to address that b-AH. I was considering trimming out the back armhole, as if removing the 3 clicks outward that had I added during drafting by using the AH Shape tool. I felt like the back was too wide, but I sure did hate to try this, as once cut, this alteration could not be undone! Finally, I did it. And the new sleeves went in nicely!

When cutting out the sleeve lining, I forgot to cut the front underarm area a bit higher than the pattern (to allow extra fabric so the lining will have room to go over the underarm seam allowance)...so I figured I might as well NOT cut the back higher either....so then I had to decide HOW to do the sleeves. In the end, I just sewed the lining's armhole to the garment's armhole...to treat them as one. Then I lined the sleeves separately...then inserted the garment sleeves into the dress by machine, and sewed the lining sleeves to the lining AH by hand. Not my preferred way to do it, but it worked!

The dress feels wonderful as I put it on. I lined it with Bemberg rayon...my first time to use this. I really like the way it feels! I had some issues sewing it, though. I didn't change needles between the shell and the lining, and after sewing nearly ALL the lining seams, I realized I had 'loops' on the bobbin side every now and them...and had to go back and reinforce some of the stitching. I don't know what would cause this, unless it was the needle size.

Then I wore the dress to the wedding. It wore well...was comfortable and allowed adequate mobility. However, I felt like I looked like my grandmother. I was NOT happy.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Navy Dress Part 1

I'm still working on the dress, but at least I am in the sewing stage! Today, I will finish cutting out the lining and begin assembling and inserting it into the already sewn dress. Well, the dress's sleeves have not been inserted, but other than that, it is 'already sewn'.

I decided to go with a shoulder princess-seamed version; Vneck; with 3/4 length sleeves (the cap sleeves I was considering just didn't do my body any favors); vent/kick pleat in the back seam. I am making it 'just-below-the-knee' length...I chose 43" as my finished back length. I also made this straight (as in, no flare) but again, I am not sure that was the best choice either! Those 'hams' just under my back waistline (on each side) are trying their best to be the star of the show!

The fabric is a navy poly/rayon blend, and it is either a jacquard or a matelassee...I have no idea how to spell that, and am not even sure of the pronounciation! I goofed when I cut out the center back piece...I was on the phone while cutting, so my attention was diverted when I layed that piece onto the fabric after cutting the other 3 pieces--front, side/front, and side/back---which all fit nicely across the width of the fabric. I cut those 3 pieces, then pulled more fabric onto the cutting mat to lay out and cut the CB, sleeve, facings, etc...and, well, I was distracted and forgot to consider the pattern repeat! In this picture, you can see how that CB and Side/Back would have related to each other...I had to slide the back piece upward, as in the right side, to align the design repeat. So I cut a new CB piece that DID keep the fabric's repeat aligned! Thank Goodness I had extra fabric!

Regarding the pattern...

  • I found that I needed to draft with 2" extra hip ease than desired, because the long front dart extensions need to remove a full inch on each side...for a 2" reduction in front.

  • And it turns out that using a Side/Hip placement of (+0.5..moving the SS/hip backwards) gives me mirrored sideseams, which is desirable to me! Although this initially makes the front pattern WIDER than the back pattern at hip level, after I sew out the long front waist darts, the back becomes wider than the front...which is more logical, since there is a bum back there!

I think I might have to tweak my CFL measurement just slightly (for next time) to provide a bit more front length to make garments better conform to my shape...that is, I need MORE than just 'adequate' front length if I want the garment to sit closer to the rib cage under the bust, as opposed to falling straight toward waist.

I drafted this with 7" of hip ease , thinking that after I sewed out the front waist darts, I would have 5" ease. Well, 5" turned out to be too much. I ended up sewing out an inch at both waist and hip...all the way to hem. So 4" hip ease and 1" waist ease turned out to be good for me on this dress. My choice of bust ease was 1.5". More on drafting this later...

Friday, October 10, 2008

I had to put my jacket project aside to finish the heart/frog art project, and now I have moved on to a dress! I will be needing a dress to wear to an upcoming wedding, as well as to the "Une Grand Soiree" where this frog/heart (and others) will be auctioned. So I am working on a new pattern.

I have been refining the fit of my basic Torso block...using Patternmaster Boutique software (PMB). My original plan was to do an Empire style, but the muslin showed that I would need a lot more length in the bodice portion to force the fabric to 'return' to the rib cage under the bust (for a closer fit), and I really don't have time to work that out right now, since the wedding is on Oct 25. So I changed plans and will do a more simplified style. I am considering princess lines vs. just using darts. My basic idea is to do a cut-on cap sleeve...but that depends on whether or not I can get one to suit me. I printed a pattern to test, and was not thrilled with the area where the sleeve cap's hem meets the AH...I almost wanted to 'round off' that corner! Hmmm....

Last night I watched a show I had recorded called LIPSTICK JUNGLE. These ladies wear amazing clothes! One of the characters is a fashion designer, so there is a smattering of 'fashion' there, but the female lead characters are dressed VERY well.

Anyway, in the episode I watched last night-
-I counted 3 or 4 dresses with cap sleeves! When the episode began (after the recap of previous shows), the first scene showed the 'fashion designer' character (Victory) on a tour boat wearing a red dress with a very nice cap sleeve...I 'paused' the recording to study the sleeve, and sure enough, the cap meets the armhole at the same place on the body where the arm meets the body. *THAT* is the problem with my PMB cut-on cap sleeve...the notches are too high, so the cap meets the AH too high. This helped me realize my instinct (to want to 'round off' that corner ) was a good one; I just need the validation!

I wasn't absolutely positive this sleeve was cut-on, as opposed to sewn in, but that was my impression.

There was another 'top' (that NICO was wearing) that had sleeves which almost looked like the 'casual' ah without any sleeve...just barely a cap at the top and much less shape to the armhole edge. Nice. Many of the cap sleeves I have seen are definitely 'sewn in', though.

My own dress will not be full-skirted, as this one is...mine will be straighter. And I have not finalized the neckline shape yet!

Now that I have worked out the measurements and settings for the shoulder/bust area (again!) I am once again looking at getting the distribution around waist and hips correct. I have been messing with moving the SS at waist and SS at hip both forward and backward, trying various combinations, etc. But just using the muslin that I have sewn so far, it appears that the BEST solution is to use SS/H=0, even though that makes the back have that odd shape...you know, where there is hardly any waist indent on the back pattern. This is because I must use WAY more ease at hip than at bust** (**PMB gives me about 1.5" MORE bust ease that I ask for, so to get an equivalent amount of hip ease requires asking for more than I ask for at the bust level.)

After sewing this muslin, I may find I can use less hip ease, but I am thinking I need 5" for a dress. But here is the deal...I LOSE 1" of that hip ease in front when I extend the front darts to the hem!

And THAT is my latest revelation...

I remember several years ago, when Lisa was looking into her PMB drafts and asked users about their front waist darts...and whether we needed them to be shorter or longer (many were complaining that the darts were too long at the time)...anyway, *MY* response was that I thought MINE needed to go down to my knees! I was kinda kidding, but actually, that probably *IS* what was needed!

Look at the picture of this Mueller draft, here>>>

Ya know how the front has the long 'extension' of the front waist dart? Well, I have FINALLY realized THAT is my problem with PMB. When I use the front waist darts, I have always gotten a poof of fabric at the release. So, I assumed I needed larger back waist darts than front, and have been trying to accomplish this for years now. But my muslin is telling me that I need to actually *sew out* the long front dart-- all the way to the hem! Just eliminate that excess in front...which WILL make the front dart narrower (if you measure horizontally from the dart's waist point over to the long straight edge of the lower dart) and will make the overall hip ease *less*, with more of the total circumference in the back (where I need it).

Now, my PMB patterns don't have this long extension of the front waist darts. You have to KNOW you need to remove this excess. It helps to extend the front waist darts, as I have done in the image above.

I have mentioned before, on chat list... http://groups.yahoo.com/group/patternmasterusers/patternmasterusers/

...that, when I use a PMB princess style, if I slide the Side/Front pattern over to align to the Front pattern at hip level, there is a GAP created at bust level. Well, this need to sew out the front excess totally explains that gap! If I make the PMB waist darts go all the way to the hem, the GAP at bust level disappears! duh. What took me so long to figure this out? Or, to 'accept' this...sometimes I know what my pattern needs to look like, but still 'fight' it...wanting it to look more "normal"!

Anyway, so that is what is happening now.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Prince at Heart

I finished the art project I was working on. I have posted more pictures here, if you want to see them. I am calling this "Prince at Heart".
The piece began life as a white resin carved winged-heart which was given to me to decorate. I painted it with a green wash, then another, then clear coat, brown wash, clear coat, teal wash, green wash, more green....well, you get the idea. I just kept going until it seemed 'done'. Then a final clear coat.
But it was just a green heart...nothing special about it! So I finally decided my embellishment would be a frog. This was one of those sand-filled little things you can sometimes find in stores, but never when you are looking for them! It was originally yellow with fuscha feet...but I painted it with Dye-na-flow #820 (Emerald Green). After that dried overnight, I painted it again, this time with Lumiere #565 (Metallic Bronze), and used Lumiere #568 (Pearl White) on his belly.
But I was sure that just paint alone wasn't gonna do it...he wasn't 'special' enough. So I pulled out the beads! Actually, I went to the store for beads... I used a 'Mahogony Mix' of Czech glass beads on his back, and used Delica "Topaz Rainbow" on his sides and nose. The beads that are scattered on the heart were from stash...also from Czech glass mixes...as is the dark red 'heart' bead on his back.
Beading through fabric that has been painted is not easy! I had to frequently use jewelry pliers to pull the needle through the fabric. I got best results by using 2 needles...one a small beading needle and one a #7 embroidery needle. I strung beads with the long thin needle, then couched them to the frog with the embroidery needle.
To attach the frog to the heart required drilling holes into it. I determined the placement, then drilled 4 tiny holes with a 1/16th" bit. I shaped jewelry wire pins and hand-sewed them onto the underside of the frog's legs (and hands?) then pushed the pins through the heart and coiled the wires to hold the frog tightly in place.
Well, I didn't like the placement! He was too high on the heart. So I cut off the coils, unsewed the pins from the frog legs...made new pins and sewed them onto the legs...drilled NEW holes for the front legs, putting the back legs into the holes previously used for the front legs...better!
But now there were extra holes in the heart. They were small, and I was ignoring them at first, then I stuck a bead on a pin and inserted it into the hole....YES! So I drilled MORE holes in the heart and added more beads to the heart, including the dangling heart bead that the frog is intent on reaching.
This was donated to the Wings Cancer Foundation, to be sold at auction at their 'Une Grande Soiree"-- A Wine Tasting and Art Auction
Saturday, November 1
7:00pm - 10:00pm
Clark Opera Memphis Center

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Well, the pattern for the jacket was NOT good...but at least I figured out WHY. I was suspicious about it from the start...the style changes as well as the basic block I started with!

Re: the style changes...duh...I (wrongly) started out with a pattern that has 2 waist darts per pattern piece instead of just one. Since there was an extra dart, I (wrongly) moved it to the new style line (wrong, since that is the place to put the waist reduction!). Anyway, I figured it out and did a new pattern!

Also, the basic block I started with was an experiment in itself. I used the Casual Silhouette with a lot of dart override, putting quite a bit of the front dart into the front armhole, in an attempt to loosen up the fit (to make it more casual). Well, this creates a vertical mismatch of the front and back armholes. Overall, I probably could have worn it, but I wouldn't love it. So I didn't make it! I started over, with the knowledge that I cannot use that much dart override (I should have known that anyway!).

Pinning the paper pattern together to try on was extremely helpful! I could readily see when things were not good. I did this for the NEW pattern, too...tried on the paper pattern. It was quite evident that I had NOT added enough hip and waist ease! Reprinted and tried on again. Better...so I cut this one in fabric. It was pretty good...had to extend the bust darts all the way to the BP, though (this is a waist dart)...but so far, that is the only 'alteration' that was needed.

Here's the pattern:
I have yet to set the sleeves, though. I will evaluate the back neck depth once the sleeves are in.

I also changed the placement of the split in the back of the sleeve to correspond with the back panel seam...I hope it doesn't turn out to be too low on the arm! Oh, I also curved the sleeve seams (after printing) like I did on the previous pattern.

The side panel is slightly wider now at underarm and much wider at the hem area...I added .5" bust ease and LOTS more hip ease! Zbust=3, Zwaist=4, Zhip=5. I made this one slightly LONGER than the previous one, but I suspect I will want the shorter length. Now I have options!

I am afraid I have widened the front shoulder measurement too much, and subsequently, narrowed the front neck just a little too much. The front neck width matches the back neck width now, but I think I need to go back to having the back neck width just slightly wider than the front neck. I have decided this depends on the placement of the shoulder seam: when the SS at neck point is placed more forward on the body (as I have it now), the back neck (on the pattern) can be slightly wider than the front neck width (on the pattern). I think.

Monday, September 22, 2008

I have been working on an 'art' project this week...and I use that term loosely! I volunteered to decorate a resin heart...it is 'carved feathers', so basically, it is a pair of 'wings' that form the shape of a heart. I was given this to decorate, and it will be on display in the gallery, then later sold at auction to benefit Wings Cancer Foundation, the charity/support organization of West Cancer Clinic.

Here is the gallery:

This has been difficult for me. I come up with thousands of ideas, then dismiss them as 'stupid' or 'depressing' or impossible! So my end result will be mediocre, I am sure! >g< So far, I have spent the past week painting it. At first it was painted a pale green, then antique-washed with a darker green...then I put a clear coat on it. Then I 'antiqued' it again with a thin wash of brown. Then some gold/silver/dark green....then a slight wash of teal on only SOME of the feathers. More clear sealer. It actually looks halfway decent now, but is totally boring. I have done nothing to it except paint it. It needs more...something to make it 'special'. I was going to wrap copper wires around it, but it just looks silly. I'd like to use beads. I really just want to drill several holes in it and insert arrows! ;)

I have also been working on a pattern for a jacket I wish to make. I started with a basic block and rotated darts here and there...this is what I have printed (today) to try test in a muslin:

I am a bit concerned about the shape of the panel. As you can see, there is a gap between front and back waist and hips, as my bust is the largest measurement, plus I added more ease there (also not sure if that was a good idea!). I am unsure if I should change to the PINK lines, to compensate for the waist/hip excess, or if that will make it too curvy. I have printed and will test.
Oh, and there are no seam allowances at the neck, hem and front edges...this will have binding.
Oh, phooey! I just realized that the sleeve seam and the back panel seam will NOT meet up at the AH...I'll have to address that!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Well, the blouse was just not salvageable! Even though I could solve the fit issues---convert those gathers back to darts or pleats, and raise the Empire waistline to put it closer to my underbust area---the horizontal lines of the fabric's print and the curved shapes of the pattern did NOT make for a nice finished product. The print just didn't work on this pattern shape. And I knew I was taking a chance when I cut it...but I wanted to try!
Look at the way the 'stripe' of leopard spots meets at the sideseams. Awful! Just NOT worth any more of my time! So I am moving on...

Friday, September 12, 2008

Well, the blouse was awful!!! When I said I had "finalized the pattern", I suppose that was wishful thinking! duh...it seems that EVERY decision I made was the wrong one!

I forgot to lower the back neck depth, which is vital to the correct fit! Plus, as this is an Empire style, I was a bit uncertain as to HOW HIGH to make that Empire waist seam...so I erred on the low side. I had also chosen to convert the bust dart to gathers instead of sewing it as a dart. Plus, I decided I had created too much overlap of the bodice area (crossover above the Empire seam), so at the last minute before printing the pattern, I had lessened the amount of crossover. ..which resulted in 'over exposure' in the cleavage area.

Can you visualize this?
  • Because the back neck wasn't cut low enough, the whole front was 'pushed' more forward on my body than designed to be.
  • The Empire waist seam was lower than it should have been, resulting in-
  • 'poofs' of gathers on each side of my lower front rib cage.
  • and lots of skin showing in the too-low Vneck!

It was NOT a pretty site! (there are NO pictures of that mess! )

So I spent part of last weekend ripping this blouse apart. Yep, the whole thing...topstitched, sewn and serged...all out! I now have the individual pieces again laying on the cutting table and have 'corrected' the pattern, so will recut them to raise the waist and lower the back neck. What a pain!

Why not just toss it into the garbage? you might ask. I am too attached to the outcome...I have already SEEN the blouse in my head and would like to have it! I am a Taurus...stubborn, ya know.

But this week has been spent on other pursuits and the pieces are still waiting for my attention!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Today I venture into the world of blogging. Don't get too excited...I'm new at this! But hopefully I'll get the hang of it soon!

Today, I will finalize a pattern I am making to sew up another quick top. In the last several months, I have been tweaking measurements again, to 'force' a draft with mirrored sideseams. I have accomplished that now, and I think I am ready to make REAL clothes again! Yea!!!

I have an animal print crinkle rayon that Mom gave me, and I think I'll use that for this next top. I currently have it draped on my dress form, and it looks halfway decent...here is a picture. I just hope the top I end up with looks half as nice!
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