Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Blue River Quilt part 4

Today I have been working on my Blue River Quilt (I really should give it a more creative name, eh?). This sat on the frame for about 2 weeks with no progress while I worked on a blouse, but this weekend, I began quilting again, and am making great progress! Well, that is, until a song like "I CAN'T DANCE" by Genesis, or "I DIDN'T MEAN TO TURN YOU ON" by Robert Palmer comes on! Then I have to stop and dance a bit! :) I create a playlist on I-tunes to keep me company while I sew, and this time, I had it sort by song NAME rather than artist...see? I am in the 'I's...

My skills aren't 'all that', but the only way I'll get better is to just do it...so I am!

I am now to the point where I have to sew around all those triangular, pieced trees. Following a pieced seam is NOT easy for me...the seam allowances throw me off, as will a loose thread, a speck of dust, a fairy flying too close to my head... Ok, no fairies, but really, I have no excuse...EVERYTHING seems to encourage me to sew crooked! I have decided that gives this piece it's 'charm'....lets everyone know it is handmade...not manufactured or computerized!

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Blue test blouse

I have recently designed a blouse to test the new measurements and settings that I settled on. After wearing the Navy dress, I knew there were some things I wanted to change and you never know when changing one thing will negatively impact on another, so a test is always in order!

Specifically, I needed to change the balance of the front and back above armhole level…needed more height in front above ah. I increased the CFL and FSS, and wanted to see if that was enough.

I was confident in the distribution of the waist reduction, as mentioned before…taking out 1” width on each front piece…but I had decided to see what happens if I lower the waist level. Also, I wanted to try a reduced the back shoulder width.

I decided to use the Italian collar, as I really like the looks of that one. However, on past attempts, it did not lay quite as flat in front as I desired, so I needed to modify the shape of the collar pattern.

I assembled the blouse pattern pieces and cut them out. I messed with the paper collar pattern, trying to drape it on both *me* and my dress form, trying to determine exactly what needed to change to make it lay flatter in front. I slashed and spread, then slashed again and overlapped...over and over! Finally, I decided to just cut it and try it in fabric.

I fused on the interfacing and stabilized the curved front neckline using bias stay tape. Then I started to assemble/sew. Princess seams first, then collar/neck/front edges.

Once the collar was sewn, I could see it would be entirely too 'flat' for what I had in mind. I didn’t even have to TRY it on the garment, I could readily see it was much too curved!
This collar should stand up in back, yet lay flat in front...a half-roll collar. So I reprinted and cut a new collar, this time, only slashing to spread the FRONT section of the collar, between the shoulder and front edge. Basically, I needed to add length to the outer edge in this area, which creates a more-curved neckline edge. The Italian collar DOES have a curved neck edge already, and if it were to be sewn to a straight neckline, it would probably be fine. But since I have started using the curved V neckline, the collar needs more shape. When the curved V was introduced in PMB, the same collars were offered as options...with no change to the collar shape between straight or curved V necklines. And THAT is where the problem turned out to be!

I also decided to try a new way of doing the facings. Usually, the front facing extends to the shoulder and stops...then the seam allowances on the back of the neck edge are enclosed in the collar. Well, that part didn't change, but I redrew the shape of the shoulder ends of the front facing to extend beyond the shoulder, then curve into the back neckline area...so that there is no 'corner' on the edge of the facing. Basically, I aligned the BACK NECK FACING with the FRONT NECK FACING at the shoulder seam, and extended the front to make the outer edge BLEND into the neck.

This was my first time to try this, and it took a couple of attempts to figure out how far to sew, where to stop, where to clip, etc. Turns out, sewing to the clip is critical to success. The facing should extend BEYOND the clip for a little bit, and needs to be clipped, too, so it’s seam allowances near the ‘tip’ can also be enclosed inside the collar at the back.

I tried on the blouse after I added the collar and facings. Yuk. The waist is too tight. What? I pulled out my tape measure and measured my body. Yuk. I have gained at least 2" in my waist in the last few months! (I never worry about having a flat tire, because I am now carrying my own personal spare! Not funny.)

These are princess seams, so I could let them out, but I use 3/8" seam allowances. There isn't much to gain, but I did let out what I could. Better.

Once I got the sleeves in, I tried on the blouse again. Yuk. The sleeves seemed tight in the elbow area and below. I had selected 9" hem circumference, but the sleeves were somewhat short, as I planned to add a folded cuff (no opening, just a folded rectangle sewn to the bottom of the sleeve). I guess because the program drafted the ‘hem’ as the place above the cuff, which was up higher than my wrist level, the whole sleeve was narrowed. I had just enough left-over fabric to cut one more set of new sleeves! This time, I omitted the cuff and drafted the sleeves full length, with a slightly wider hem circumference (just in case!).

But more importantly, I could now see that the blouse back was too long…it was puddling in folds at my back waist. The front length-to-waist looked good, but the back length was too long (I had just lengthened it for this test, remember? Grrr....).

I pinned a tuck across the back at mid armhole level and tried it again...better! But now that the collar was in…with facings complete…I was NOT gonna rip it out to recut the back neck and shoulders lower (to shorten the back/raise the back waist)! What to do, what to do.....

I began to wonder if I could rip out the back princess seams and slide the side back pieces UP and resew them, basically mismatching the seams to ‘pretend’ the waist on the center back piece is higher, then cut the extra length off at the hem end of the center back piece...effectively shortening the back and raising the back armhole. Hmmm….

I did do this, and it helped. But then I could see that there was still some droop…mostly at the side back area. The reduced Back Shoulder Width that I had tried had caused the back shoulder dart to be very small…it was small enough to ease into the shoulder. I suspect I need a larger one (I have wings in the back!...flying shoulder blades.). Apparently, if I want to narrow the back shoulder, I must also adjust my Back Shoulder Slope a bit more than I did. Ahhhh! More things to test! Goody.
I ripped and resewed the armhole end of the back princess seam a bit larger, as if taking up a dart the (as if the back shoulder dart had been transferred to the armhole and included in the princess seam). Sewing the princess seams larger than drafted (at the armholes) causes the seamlines to NOT be equal…the side back piece is too short for the center piece….resulting in a ‘jog’ of cut edges (and seamlines) at the armhole. This will make the back width even narrower than I drafted…making the blouse too tight at that level! I doubt this blouse will ever make it to the ‘wearable’ stage! At this point, I am just using it to test the various changes! But I keep trying to salvage it…ripping and resewing ad nauseum!

After taking up the back princess seams to shorten the back and shoulder slope, I went back to the program, and began changing measurements to try to create a pattern that already had these changes incorporated…to duplicate this shorter upper back. I needed ALL the shortening to occur in the upper back, but subtracting the .375" from the Center Back Length and Back Shoulder Slope removed half above ah level and half below it. Hmmm….
To make the shortening occur ENTIRELY above the back armhole would required that I also RAISE the armhole depth.

But that also raised the FRONT armhole depth, which I didn't want to change! So I figured, I HAD to reduce the back lengths, raise the armhole depth, and then, increase the front length to recover the front height above the armhole? That wreaks havoc on the size of the bust dart...making it larger. Hmmmm…

I am always so fearful of OVERFITTING that I tend to leave a bit of excess ease in that front ah…but perhaps a larger dart IS what is needed? I pinned the princess seam up, as if to make the bust dart larger. I could do that.

But this is all too convoluted…there must be a better way!
It suddenly occurred to me that I could INCREASE the BUST CUP I have chosen. In PMB, this is on the measurement chart, and basically adjusts the size of the bust dart and the overall front length. Bumping up yet another cup letter added the extra length I needed, as well as increased the size of the dart. So, instead of messing with the armhole depth, I tried the larger cup letter…it seemed to be what was needed.

I resewed the front princess seam as pinned, but had to rip the sideseam to realign the side back and side front, as now the armhole levels needed to be adjusted (the front was moved down, the back moved up, and the back armhole had to be trimmed to match the lower front armhole). Remember, all this altering is because the fabric was cut to one pattern and I am now trying to make it duplicate a different pattern! Increasing the cup letter adds bust width, but my fabric is already cut, so the end result is a pattern with LESS bust ease than I thought I was getting.

Sewing the front princess seams larger than drafted (at the armholes) caused the seamlines to NOT be equal…just as in back, the side front piece was too short for the seamline on the center piece….resulting in a ‘jog’ of cut edge (and seamline) at the armhole. Again, this means I will have less ease than I had hoped to have!

After taking in both the front and back princess seams at armhole, I now will need to lower the armhole depth to maintain the size of the armhole. That is the current stage of progress. Cross your fingers!
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