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
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