Monday, January 26, 2009

Pattern Chat!

And now for some pattern chat…

This might be too long and boring, so if you're just after pretty pictures, scoll down to the previous posts! :)

I have been working on perfecting the fit of my bodice patterns using PMB for quite a while now. The solutions to my fitting issues have been elusive, but I AM making progress! As mentioned before the division of waist reduction has been a stumbling block for me. I knew I needed my back waist darts to be larger than the front ones, but HOW to accomplish that has eluded me. Well, not anymore!

The tool I am discussing is the Sideseam Placement Tool. In version 4, this is found on the Settings Tab.

Using my measurements, this is how the program drafts the basic Torso block (blouse) if I leave the sideseam placed at the zero position.

The Hip and Waist are divided equally, front to back, but the front pattern is over 2” wider than the back pattern at Bust level. This makes for an interestingly shaped pattern! There is hardly *any* indentation at the waist on the back pattern. Imagine trying to sew those F and B sideseams together!

The back armhole has very little width to it, while the front armhole is very large. This creates a sleeve that has a longer front cap seam and a shorter back cap seam…it looks backwards and restricts arm movement.
I don’t want my patterns to look like that! So the first thing I do is use the Sideseam Placement tool to move the Side/Arm Point toward the front (a negative setting). The maximum amount the SS can be moved is 1”…but remember, my front pattern is 2” wider than the back pattern at underarm level! Moving the Side/Arm point the maximum amount (-1 setting) reduces the difference in pattern widths (at underarm level) to 1”. That is the best I can do. This greatly improves the armhole shapes on both patterns and balances the shape of the sleeve.

And with the bust dart in the SIDESEAM position, the widths of the front and back patterns at underarm level are nearly equal!
This setting change alone makes sewing those sideseams a little more ‘doable’! However, both Front and Back sideseams slant toward the front at hip level. The angles of the Front and Back sideseams do not have the same relationship to the grain line…they are not ‘mirror images’. I prefer that my sideseams be mirror images…I think it improves the hang of the garment when the grain is identical on each side of the seam. Plus, I always felt like my back waist darts needed to be larger than my front ones…I have a belly at the front waist, but the back waist goes in quite a bit, just as, at hip level, the bum sticks out way farther in back than in front! So I had to figure out a way to achieve this balance with my patterns.

Enter the Sideseam Placement tool again! This time, it’s the Side/Hip Point.

Now, this one took a LONG TIME to figure out, because the required setting was NOT intuitive! Moving the S/H Point forward (negative setting) makes the back waist darts larger…which was part of my goal…but it also compromised the indentation at waist level on the back pattern. Boo hiss. Or, I could improve the waist indentation by moving the S/H Point the other way…backwards (a positive number)…but that made the back waist darts smaller and made the front waist darts become way too large! It seemed that I could never hit on just the right combination to achieve BOTH of these goals…they seemed at odds…and this flaw showed up in my garments as pulls from the sideseam or the waist darts at waist level.

The real clue came by analyzing my superimposed patterns with the bust dart placed in the SHOULDER position. Even though moving the S/Bust Point forward makes the patterns almost equal in width at underarm level when the bust dart is in the sideseam, they are NOT equal in width with the dart in the shoulder position.

I began to consider that since the front pattern was wider than the back pattern at underarm level, the only way to get mirrored sideseams was to make the front pattern wider than the back pattern ALL THE WAY DOWN. This means I HAD to change the hip!

So, in a nutshell, here is the deal...and this is for *ME*, not necessarily for all...

Because my bust is large, I need to use the maximum S/A movement to better divide the armholes, and this makes the front and back patterns almost *equal* in width at underarm level WHEN THE BUST DART IS IN THE SIDESEAM.

However, once the bust dart is rotated into the SHOULDER position, it is apparent that the patterns are NOT EQUAL in width at underarm level after all...the FRONT pattern is 1" wider than the back pattern.

So I move the S/H point, too (backwards), so that the front pattern is now 1" wider than the back pattern *all the way down the sideseam*...from underarm to hem (the front is wider and the F&B sideseams are mirrored/identical...same waist indent on both).

I *need* this extra width on my front pattern at bust level...but NOT at waist and hip level.


  1. I do need for the sideseams to be mirrored, and
  2. I do need for the front and back to be equal in width at hip level.

These two things seemed at odds with each other. In order to get mirrored side seams, I HAD to move the S/H point backwards...but by doing so, that made the hip distribution *unequal*. So, my solution was to INCREASE THE HIP EASE until the back pattern was as wide at hip level as it was BEFORE I moved the hip point (which means adding 2" extra ease)...then, manually remove the excess ease from the front.

After much experimentation, this is the pattern I have arrived at!

See how the sideseams, front and back, have the same relationship to the grainline, which is parallel to the center lines of the patterns?
You can see the relationship of my Torso Block to the red overlay (the Dress Sloper). Notice the relationship of the HIP LINES. The Dress Sloper is divided equally, front to back, at hip level. However, my Torso patterns are NOT equal at hip level. The front pattern is wider than the back at hip level and wider than the red overlay at hip level (see little circle and arrow)…and this is because I used the SIDESEAM PLACEMENT TOOL to move the Side/Hip point backward. I used the -0.5 setting, which makes the front hip 1” wider than the back.
Yes, that made the front waist darts much too large, and made the back waist dart not quite as large as it could be. So I used the SIDESEAM PLACEMENT TOOL to move the Side/Waist Point backwards, too, by 0.25” (half as much as I moved the Hip…again, a negative setting). This made the back waist dart just a little bit larger and made the front waist dart just a little smaller, yet had NO EFFECT on the indentation of the waist at sideseam (which is controlled by the relationship of bust to hip)…good! (The BACK waist dart size is what I was trying to control with this setting…the front dart is too wide no matter what, so I manipulate the size of the back dart with the S/W Point, and will deal with the front dart in a minute!)

Moving the Side/Hip Point backwards made the front pattern’s hip 1” wider than the back. Now, think of that in reverse: It made the BACK pattern 1” NARROWER than the front! I needed to regain some of that lost back hip width and prevent the back hip from being narrower than the hip width of the red overlay. So, I increased the HIP EASE by 2” (I added 2” because the pattern is only half the body…I needed 2” total…one inch additional hip ease for the left side of my body and one inch for the right side).

But adding this 2” Hip ease made the FRONT pattern’s hip larger, too…made it too large by one inch. And those front waist darts were still way too large. So the solution was to manually remove this added excess *at the front waist dart*! I offset the center line of the single front waist dart by 0.5” on both sides. I extended these lines to the HEM of the pattern (which in this example is at hip level).
Then I redrew the lower dart legs of the front waist darts from waist to HIP LEVEL…smoothing out the angle that is formed at the intersection of old dart leg/new line.
Basically, this is removing that extra 1” of front hip width that I added…but instead of removing it at the SIDE of the front pattern, as happens with ease reductions, it is removed from within the pattern…allowing the front sideseam shape to mirror the back sideseam!
The resulting front waist dart is much narrower below the waist than before, because now the dart is measured from the stitching line to the NEW center line(s), not the old one. The ‘effective’ dart width is reduced because the new lines removed a chunk of fabric all the way to the pattern’s lower edge, not just to a point within the pattern (see the diagonal pink lines).
The lower part of the new front waist dart is only 0.719” wide on each side of this new center line (blue lines)…for a total of 1.438” (much less than before, and still less than the width of the back waist dart!).
EVERY PMB Torso pattern will have to have this seam in front, whether a Princess seam or a waist dart that continues to the hem. But this makes the front and back pattern (after this alteration) be equal in width at hip/hem. However, any pattern with a waist seam will not have to have this seam/dart, as the gap can be eliminated by sliding the two pieces together.

These settings can also be found in Version 3…the difference is in the location of the SIDE/WAIST Point tool. In Version 3, this point cannot be changed on the TORSO blocks within the Drafter (blouses, jackets, sheaths, etc.). However, if you go to the SLOPER section, and navigate to the DEFAULTS, you can set the Side/Waist Point in the defaults for that measurement chart, and it WILL apply to the waist darts of the Torso drafts, too…for that measurement chart only.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Blue River Quilt part 3

A while back, I was reading Myrna's blog and she was talking about choosing colors for her quilt by photographing them and looking at them in gray scale. I began to wonder how MY piece would hold up to critique in gray scale.

It DOES have the desired value shift that I was after, transitioning from dark in the upper left to light in the foreground. I was surprised, though, at the way some of the 'trees' just blended right in to the background! This is not evident in the colored version, which IS, after all, the real thing! Overall, I am pleased with the choices.

I'm in the quilting stage now, but thread selection is my hold-up. I had good results with some Madiera POLY NEON thread, but the variegated Sulkys gave me trouble...the thread kept breaking, plus, when I went to rip out the stitching, I could pull hard on the bobbin thread and it would 'break' the top threads, allowing me to basically rip out the whole seam by pulling on the bobbin...not slipping out from under the loops, but actually pulling the top thread down and breaking it!! No, the Sulky is not strong enough. I must go find other threads before I can progress.

I drew lines on the quilt top to create sections to stitch within. I haven't worked out all the areas yet, so I stitch only where I have decided what to do!

The long thread tails will be threaded onto a needle and pulled in between the layers to eliminate them, as opposed to just cutting them off.

I used a basting spray to temporarily attach the 3 layers, then loaded it onto 2 of the 3 poles of the HandiQuilter frame. This way, I can stitch across the full width of the piece, going back and forth as the design requires, instead of stitching in long narrow strips from top to bottom.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Blue River Quilt part 2

I updated the template for my blog, as was recommended for those who were having issues with posting, etc. Even if it doesn't fix the particular problem I was having, it made the blog look better! I have more control over colors, fonts, etc, and the text area is wider than before...less wasted space on the sides. I was nervous about upgrading at first...afraid I would lose all I had already written...but no, it worked beautifully and was easy!

I have been working on the blue river quilt. Both Marilyn and another friend, Shirley, gave me some more fabric scraps to use, but most of this was not ‘just right’ either. I used some of it, but finally, I decided I would HAVE to dye some of it to get it to better blend with what was already used. So I ran out to the store and got some TEAL Rit dye and overdyed several of the pieces. This is for the upper part of the quilt...the 'sky' area, if you can call it that! it needed to be less-bright/more-greyed...and this did it. Afterwards, I was advised that Rit is probably not the best choice for this project…that it might not be light or color fast on cotton…but it was too late! Plus, this won’t get lots of washing, so hopefully it will be fine.

The more it ‘grew’, the more unsure I was that I loved it. Then I decided that is normal for me…I felt that same way last year as I worked on the frog quilt for my son (that was before blog…maybe I’ll show it later). But I kept plugging away, and, eventually, it began to grow on me again! I rearranged a few components, eliminating one of the sun/star pieces and adding two new trees. Better!

To create a background for the ‘sun’ piece, I used my pattern drafting software to create a foundation to which I applied various strips. I used a ruler to draw lines on it at ½ and ¼ inch intervals…I *could* have done this in the software if I had thought of it before printing!

The circular piece in the center of the ‘sun’ was a bit tricky to do. My first attempt at turning under the edges was to use the facing method…lay a bit of interfacing on it and stitch all around, clip, then slash the interfacing and turn right side out. This resulted in a not-so-smooth perimeter! Then I remembered the “Perfect Circles” templates I purchased at the AQS in Nashville last summer. I only had the larger set, as the y had run out of the smaller ones, but the smallest template in the set was close enough…just barely larger than the pattern called for! I used it on the larger of the two ‘sun’ blocks that I had made and it worked fine. For this one, the smaller sun, it was a bit too large, but still better than nothing! However, this smaller sun won’t make it into THIS quilt.

The quilt background was created in sections. I sewed tiny scraps together to make larger blocks, then added larger strips as needed. Then I added this section to the last, etc., working around the river, which was just pinned to the background as it was created.

Once the entire background was assembled, I removed the river to work on it.

The river had been drawn on examining table paper and the fabric was sewn to that foundation. I needed to remove the paper from the back, as well as fix a couple of spots where it was ‘skimpy’. Plus, I resewed a seam or two to change the angle…the ‘flow’…of the river, to position it just a little better on the background.

Then I turned under the edges of the river using a hot iron and some spray starch. This took a while! Next, I used the iron with some washable glue to ‘baste’ the river into place. This is how the sun pieces were attached also. These will be stitched soon!

This is where it stands now….time to blind stitch the sun and river into place! I haven’t decided whether or not to add borders.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Blue River Quilt

Happy New Year!

This is what I have been working on lately, on and off. It began with the blue 'river' and has grown from there. Like the river, I paper-pieced the various leaves, trees, etc, and am now in the process of filling in the blanks between them. However, I have hit a snag. I am running out of fabric!

I obtained the fabric for this background from my friend, was some of her hand-dyed scraps from previous projects. She had given me several large ziplock bags of scraps which I sorted through, picking out the blues and greens, etc., that I could use to go with the existing river. Well, duh...the river is big! That means I need LOTS of background to put it on!

But really, I just wanted to put up a TEST post. I have been ticked off, because the recently-posted pictures on my blog are NOT showing a larger version when you click on them. My pictures DID do this in older could click on any picture for a larger image. But not lately. I cannot figure out WHAT I am doing wrong! Any hints?

Ok, see? This one WILL will show a larger image! So why won't the ones in my last few posts show larger images? I am so green.

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