Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Empire Surplice Top update

I have now worn my navy/floral Empire Surplice top a couple of times, and I must say, it is quite nice to wear! Too bad the fabric is not fine...it probably won't last long!

The armhole depth is NOT too low after all, as I had thought it was during construction. I DID finally remember WHY I had decided to lower the armholes: Because I reduced both front and back center lengths (to raise my waist), the armholes draft less-tall than they did before (when I was using a lower waist position). When the waist was located at a lower spot on my body (and thus, I had longer vertical measurements), I sometimes had to RAISE the armhole depth! But not anymore...now I must lower the AH depth to achieve just the right ah...but using the measurements which place the waist at this (higher) level puts the garment's waist shaping in a better spot on my body.

The front "skirt" portion does not expose skin, even when it blows open, due to the generous overlap. It also does not spread open when I sit.

The double-bust-dart/tuck thing worked out really well! I love that it provides shaping without being so form-fitting...I will do this again!

Before, I mentioned that, next time, I would reduce the center front length (CFL) and increase the center back length. WELL, it turns out, all I had to do was reduce the CFL (and front shoulder slope-FSS) and I could leave the CBL as it was. Reducing the front was enough to correct the placement of the front Empire seam (it was a little too low in the central area).

On the Navy top, I had used the Dart Override tool to reduce the size of the F-ah slightly, but now, after reducing the CFL and FSS, that won't be necessary!

I did decide to reduce the shoulder width measurements even more...I have been gradually making my shoulders more and more narrow. I am now using FSW=13.75" and BSW=15.5inches. I think this will really improve the shape of my armholes and sleeves, and provide increased arm mobility and comfort.

The Vinyl Tablecloth

"Of all the things you’ve made for me, I really appreciate this one the least."

Well, that is not exactly what was said, but it might have been!

Let me back up a bit.

Because of vacations, birthdays and houseguests, I haven’t done much sewing in the last couple of weeks, but I did manage to churn out a vinyl tablecloth for my son, who is in pharmacy school.
We gave my son a nice (new) dining table for Christmas 2007, and I have noticed that every time I see it, it is covered with laptops, books and notebooks…the typical student’s assortment of junk. And it is beginning to have tiny scratches on it. Bummer. To prevent these scratches and unnecessary wear, I decided to make him a vinyl cover for the table. Now, I didn’t use vinyl tablecloths on our tables when he was growing up so this is not what he is used to, and he was quite surprised when I told him that the tablecloth was NOT for his patio table!

Several weeks ago, our local Walmart put all the fabrics on sale to clear them out…that is where I found the flannel-backed vinyl with UT logos on it. I figured, what the heck, it’d be fun to pull out for parties anyway! So I bought some.

It rained one day during Dh’s vacation, so instead of working in the yard, I took the opportunity to pull out the UT vinyl and make the tablecloth. To my dismay, I discovered hadn’t bought enough yardage…his table is larger than I remembered!

So I had to piece not only the circle (as usual) but I had to piece the piece that was pieced to make the circle! So, instead of one seam (or two parallel seams) across the circle, I had one seam with two others that were perpendicular to that one!

To piece this required matching the pattern…another thing I hadn’t considered when hurriedly buying this fabric!

The pattern was NOT easy to match...the plaid design printed on the vinyl was not the same distance apart all over the piece...I had to fudge the matches a little! Once I finally decided on a match point, I folded under the edge on one piece, scoring that fold sharply to make a crease. Then as I aligned the folded edge to the matching piece, aligning the designs as much as possible, I used transparent tape to hold the seam in place.

Then I unfolded and stitched along the crease made by the fold.

I trimmed away the excess, grading the seam allowances to reduce bulk.

I folded the now-pieced fabric in quarters and used my tape measure as a radius to draw a quarter circle on the flannel side of the fabric.

Then I cut along the pencil line to create a circle.

I set the differential feed on my serger to slightly ease the edge as I stitched around it. Then, at the sewing machine, I turned and stitched the hem…which turned quite easily due to the serging!

Once the hem was done, I searched my stash until I found a bottle of glue that was permanent and washable. From the looks of the label, I’d say I have had it a long time!

I glued down the seam allowances on the back side…piling a bunch of heavy junk on top along the seam lines to hold the seam allowances flat until the glue dried.

I gave this to DS when he came over this past Saturday. On Sunday, he emailed me this picture, so I know that at least one time, this tablecloth WAS placed on the table! Time will tell if he leaves it there or not. But at least he will have it to use for parties!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Empire-waist Surplice Blouse

I finally finished the Empire Surplice (crossover) top I mentioned before! As usual, it isn’t perfect…I need to shorten the center front length and lengthen the center back length by .25” for next time...but it is wearable.

The fabric I used was some drapey rayon challis that I purchased last year specifically for use in testing patterns. This dark color makes the style details hard to see in the pictures…I increased the brightness a bit, but it only helped a little.

The blue buttons were from my stash…actually, they originally came from my grandmother’s stash! I put one button/buttonhole on each side, just under the bust…two buttons total.

As mentioned previously, additional
length was needed on the pattern right there at the dart legs to smooth out the angle that forms when the dart is sewn. This extra length also helps the fabric conform to my body a little better, going over then under the bust, going all the way to the rib cage before falling vertically.

I had initially decided to just gather that bust dart, as I had done in my muslin (of septic paper). But in this drapey rayon, the gathers formed a poof of fabric BELOW my bust…not pretty! So I tried sewing two small darts then gathering the rest…nope, that was awful, too! So I went back to the computer, to play with the pattern to see what I should do.

I decided to divide the single bust dart into TWO bust darts. First, I rotated the bust dart out of the way…just as I had done previously to check the ‘flow’ of the waist seam.

Then, I located a point on each side of the bust dart, 0.75” away from BP. Next, I drew a line from each of these new points down to the place where the original bust dart meets the Empire waist seam. These two new lines form a ‘V’ shape under the bust. Then I rotated half the bust dart to each of these new slash lines. But I didn’t want to sew the darts all the way to the tips…I wanted the illusion of gathers…so I drew a circle around my original Bust Point, radius equals 2.5”, and only sewed the darts outside of the radius, basically converting them to tucks. I was pleased with this effect…not full under the bust yet still a ‘looser’ look.

The sleeves were another FUN adventure! I had wanted to see what happens when using a very low sleeve cap…I drafted with (-1.5”). But for some reason, I had also determined that I needed to lower my armhole depth 0.5” (I cannot remember why, but the ah depth was a bit low). These two settings combined to produce a really wide sleeve! The first insertion was comical. I ripped out the sleeve and trimmed the sleeve cap, then tried again…better but still no cigar. Eventually I got the sleeve recut to be acceptable, but due to the too-low armhole depth, my sleeve cap ‘trial’ was invalid…I still don’t know what is the lowest cap height setting I could use on my sleeve with the correct ah depth! But I did learn that I probably don’t need to lower the armhole depth after all…(duh).

I worked very hard to make the hem come out even, yet in wear, the overlap/underlap edges sag a bit and hang lower than the main hem. Bummer! I am hoping my interfacing might shrink in the wash and prevent this from happening in the future! Also, my neckline was fine BEFORE I understitched it, but after doing the understitching, the neck began to gap a bit! Again, let’s hope the interfacing shrinks and corrects for this! Ya know, that is usually NOT something I hope for! But on this blouse, shrinking interfacing might be a blessing!

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