Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Cowl with Sleeves

Feeling heady from the relatively simple success of the cowl with cut-on sleeves, I decided to plunge right into another top using the same slinky fabric...after all, the machines still had that color thread on them and I had not yet put away the remaining fabric. It only made sense to use it up.

I had a RTW top that had a neckline that was built-up in back but a cowl in front...I wanted to try to duplicate it. I imagined that starting with the SHAWL collar would give me the back neckline, but I would need to add the drapey cowl part in front. So, in PMK, I started with the CLASSIC top with the SHAWL collar, side dart and my usual shoulder settings (Shoulder Height = 0.75; Shoulder Point = 0.5).

First, I rotated the bust dart to the center front. Then I rotated the armhole, shoulder and neck area again, CCW, using the underarm point as the pivot point to open a 7" gap in the center front. I redrew the collar area to add a facing and printed the pattern that you see below.

I layed out and cut the patterns from the remaining chunk of fabric.

Even after this, I still had a long strip of fabric leftover.

As is usually the case with shawl collars, I sewed a center back seam in the collar extension. I used the sewing machine (not the serger) so I could press it open to reduce bulk.

Just for good measure, I added clear elastic to the back shoulders and back neckline...I didn't want this growing and hanging off me!

Then I pinned the front shoulders to the back shoulders and the collar extension to the back neckline.

Here is what it looked like from the backside once pinned but still not sewn:

Ater sewing the shoulder and collar seams, I basted the sideseams and put this on for a look-see. Ugh!

I was not happy. There was way too much drapiness. There were even drapes over the abdomen!

Plus, the neck drapery created a little 'bowl' at the bustline. Not good.

It is about this time that I realize I forgot to SCALE the pattern VERTICALLY! I had set my stretch factor within the program, but it only scales the pattern HORIZONTALLY...and slinky stretches along its length, too, so the pattern needed to be reduced in that dimension as well.

So back to the computer to reduce the pattern. I decided to scale the pattern to reduce it by 7.5% vertically...I cannot remember HOW I came up with that amount! ...but it seemed reasonable. Perhaps I measured to see how much longer this top was hanging that it was supposed to be hanging...I didn't write that down, so I don't remember!

But I also made other changes so the new pattern would fit on the already-cut piece of fabric. I went back a few steps, and instead of rotating to open a 7" gap in the front, I only opened a 5" gap, hoping to reduce some of the drapery over the belly area. Then I rotated that back collar area by 0.5" so it would still fit on the originally cut piece.

I didn't bother with the sleeve just yet.

When printing the new pattern, I superimposed it onto the old one first. Then I printed out only the areas I needed and taped this to the old pattern.

Normally I would lay the old pattern on top of the fabric pieces, getting everything aligned as it was initially...THEN, I would cut on the new lines, cutting right through the paper and the fabric. But on slinky, that shreds the paper and causes the slinky to crawl...so I had to position the fabric just right, then remove the pattern to trim it down to the new size/shape, then put the pattern back onto the fabric and cut around the new edges of the pattern to trim the fabric.

Double ugh! Because the back had to be scaled down, too, I had to rip and replace the clear elastic! Ugh ugh!

So now I sewed this new scaled version together and tried it on again.

Are you kidding me? It STILL had that 'bowl' at the bustline! And I had reduced the amount of 'drapery' I added by 2"!!!

It had lots of drapery at the neck and, still, drapery at the belly.

But this 'bowl' thing...this was just unacceptable! The overall neckline was not as low as I had desired...all this fabric was bunched up together (NOT what I was after!).

Plus, I had used the FLARED hemline sweep (1) to provide a bit of ease around the hem this time.
And, as you can see, I also have little 'hip wings' on the sides!

I could have carried my lunch in that bowl!

By now I am wondering...is this bowl happening because I need more bust ease?

So I go back to the pattern again...only this time, I start with an additional INCH of bust ease (2" now).
And now I am thinking that rotating the armhole, shoulder and neck area is just adding too much drapery.
So for this one, for my 3rd iteration, I DON'T rotate using the underarm as the pivot point. Instead, I rotate just the front shoulder and neck areas (pivot point = shoulder point) CCW by 3". This adds NO WIDTH to the area between the front armholes...it only adds height to the pattern.

But now the new pattern WON'T fit on the already-cut fabric piece! Rats! This means I must abandon the detail of the built-up back neck.

So I redraw the neck/cowl area so that it will fit on my fabric and nervously recut the fabric again. This new one is drastically narrower across the top than both previous versions!

And it was bad. So bad that I started ripping it apart almost immediately, before it even occurred to me to photograph it! Sigh. So there are no pictures of the 3rd iteration...but let me assure you, it was bad.

And now the front piece was too small...

Although #3 was made more similarly to the way the PMK 'draped neck' is made, I forgot a critical aspect of that design: they DO add a wedge of fabric to the center front (remember how I pivoted my whole pattern off center to add 2" at the neck level? Like that...). And I didn't do that. Duh.

But I still had a long narrow remnant of this fabric left. If I was careful, I could maybe cut one more front pattern from this (I think). I'd have to reuse the existing back, though...which is why I ripped yet again.

This time, I started out using the DRAPED NECK pattern (having abandoned the idea of the built-up neck in back...another day!). And again this time, I used 2" of bust ease, the FLARED Hemline (1), and the side bust dart (along with my usual shoulder settings of: Shoulder Height = 0.75; Shoulder Point = 0.5).

Then, in PE, I selected the F-armhole shoulder and neck, and ROTATED the bust dart closed...which opened a little gap at the top of the CF line. I redrew the neck area, scaled the pattern 7.5% and printed a WHOLE pattern (both sides)...this was because I was really having to work to get this pattern on this odd-shaped remnant; I needed both sides so there would be no guessing!

I sewed it up and tried it on.

Can you believe it? Are you having a deja vu moment here? I certainly was!

There was the excess drapery, including the 'boob bowl'! And this time, I had used MORE bust ease!

Yep, that extra bust ease was right there, on each side under the arms. It didn't help eliminate the bust bowl at all.

So now I am thinking... Am I causing this bowl-effect by rotating the bust dart? Hmmmm.....

So back to the drawing board yet again!
I eliminated the extra inch of bust ease, going back to 1".
Then, in PE, I selected everything above the bust dart and just SLID IT DOWN to close the dart...effectively shortening the whole front pattern. Duh. Why didn't I think of this before?

Then I scaled that pattern 7.5% to print. At the far right of this sequence, you can see how the new pattern (purple) compares with the previous one (blue). For those who are counting, the blue is iteration #4 and the purple is #5. sigh.

Once again, I superimposed the new pattern onto the old before printing, so I wouldn't have to print the whole thing anew.

I overlayed it onto the now-ripped apart front pieces and cut out the new shape. You can see the paper that is cut away but laying in place.

--and here you can see the fabric that is cut away and laying in place.

--and here you can see how this newly cut pattern compares to the iteration before it...#4 is the paper and #5 is the fabric. There is nothing left if this one doesn't work!

Well, the boob bowl is still there, but there is less drapery than before...this will have to do.

I can live with the neckline, but the hem is crazy wild...the hip-wings will need to be eliminated! I sewed them out.

So I turn my attention to the sleeve.

I scaled the new sleeve pattern by 7.5% (just as I had done the front and back bodice patterns) and recut that original sleeve using the new pattern. Then I sewed it into the armhole.

It had more 'drapery' than the neckline! YUK! twisty twisty...

I ripped and rotated, pinched and pulled. But I'll give you the shortened version of the sleeve saga...

To eliminate the twisty folds, I needed to pinch out length at the front cap area, but the sleeve needed length at the back cap area...see?

(Before we leave this picture, though, look at the shoulder seam placement. Looks wonky, eh? too far forward at the shoulder point. More later.)

I was NOT going to be able to recut this to make this sleeve work. But fortunately, I still had that front that didn't work, plus a decent-sized scrap, so I could cut 2 new sleeves!

The new pattern in green versus the previous one (purple)...When aligned at the shoulder point, the new pattern is larger in the front cap area...the underarm point is farther from center.

When aligned at the front underarm point, you can see that the cap mound of the new sleeve (green) is farther back...adding fabric where I needed it and eliminating if where I don't.

Turns out that the SHOULDER POINT SETTINGS that I have been using are causing my sleeve woes!

It was obvious in the picture above that the shoulder seam was in the wrong place, although without having the sleeve sewn in, the garment can shift around. But that seam has an extreme angle to it. Yes, my shoulders DO tip forward and this reflects that, but the sleeve draft fits me better when the shoulder point is located more posteriorly.

I sprayed the top with water to try to set the neck folds. but even on this hanger, you can see that the shoulder seams are just too far forward at the arm end. Duh. How have I never noticed that before?

To create this sleeve pattern, I moved the shoulder point backwards 0.5", then aligned the sleeve notch with a place that is 0.5" behind that seam. But I have decided that the shoulder seam could be moved back a little bit more than 0.5"...at least another 1/8" and maybe another 1/4"!

Next time.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Cowl-neck Top with Cut-on Sleeves, part 2

As promised, here are a few pictures of me wearing the new cowl-neck top.

Yes, I cut off the top of my head in this one...using the timer and tripod to take pictures is always a learning experience! I decided this background was a bit too busy, too, so I moved over a little for the others.

The top performed really well in its real-life wearings! I have now worn this top several times and feel comfortable and presentable.

You might remember seeing these pants in my album over at the Wild Ginger Forum...these were made several years ago, but I pulled them out to wear since they matched this top. They have an elastic waist and inseam pockets. Made of rayon, this was a left-over Coldwater Creek fabric that was purchased from a jobber...or so I was told at the store where I bought the fabric.

Ok, yes, I was actually on the phone while taking these pictures! I use the SPEAKER function most of the time, so I don't have to hold it up by my ear...I was talking to my daughter. And yes, that IS a bandaid on my face. And, yes, my hair is lighter than before.

The sleeves are flippy and flirty and just right. They stay closed most of the time, but open with arm movement. They are not too large or long...just right. But then, I was copying a top and duplicated the sleeves on it, so I knew that in advance!

I had originally hoped the neck would drape a bit lower, but this turned out to be just fine. My necklace hangs free of the neck, and when I bend over it doesn't gap away from my body too badly. See?

All in all, this was a success! And it was fairly quick...not too many mistakes were made so I only had to rip a little.

Still basking in the glow of a sewing success, I realized I had more of this fabric left...another 1.5+ yards.
And the machines were still threaded with this color.
It only made sense to make ANOTHER turquoise slinky top!
Stay tuned...

Monday, August 20, 2012

Cowl-neck Top with Cuton sleeves

I have a RTW top that I have enjoyed wearing and decided I would try to recreate the pattern. I used PATTERNMASTER KNITS, from Wild Ginger, to draft my pattern.

After opening my saved settings for a basic top, I then selected the CUTON sleeve. It looked a little odd, but I could work with it.

Then I selected the COWL neckline. Oh dear. The front pattern reverted to 'normal' armholes while the back pattern maintained the cuton sleeve. Obviously, this is a bug that needs to be addressed.

I compared the front and back patterns of this cowl-necked pattern. When superimposed (below), I could see that the front (blue) was the same length as the back (red) from the NECKPOINT to the hem. The underarm points were at about the same depth. Hmmmm. That is NOT the relationship of my 'basic' top!

Apparently, choosing the COWL neckline eliminates the bust dart, but it reverts to the NO DART pattern, with its longer front pattern and its shorter back.

I looked at just choosing a BOATNECK instead of the cowl. Yes, both front and back had the cuton sleeve and the bust dart was still there.

Again, I flipped a pattern to superimposed front and back. As in my 'basic', the back pattern (green) is longer than the front pattern (red)from NP to hem, and the back armhole is larger than the front ah.

I knew I was going to have to redraw the sleeve and wondered how much difference there would be in fit if I just used the COWL-necked one, with its longer front and shorter back? I know this shorter upper back length makes the garment ride to the back when a sleeve is involved but this is essentially a sleeveless garment and with a heavy cowl in front, perhaps that would be a good thing? Plus, redrawing the cut-on sleeves would be easier if the front and back were the same!

I compared the two front patterns...still wondering.

After evaluating the RTW top that I was trying to recreate, I decided that its front and back were probably the same length, so I decided to go with the cowl-necked pattern, where the front and back patterns would start out identical.

I started with the BACK pattern. From measuring the RTW top, I knew I wanted my shoulder length to be 9", with the first 4.5" stitched and the remainder left as a slit. I just extended the shoulder seam at its original angle for 9" (rather than use the upward-angled sleeve extension that originally drafted.) Then I used the ARC tool to redrew the sleeve hemline from this new "shoulder" line to meet the side/underarm point.

Then I made a copy of the altered back pattern to use to create the new front.

I rotated this pattern off the center line (at hip) to add 2" width at the neckpoint level.

Then I leveled the hem by drawing a line from sideseam to center, which added a little length to the front.

I decided to also add a little extension to the BACK pattern to match!

Then I copied the COWL neckline extension from the other pattern and attached it to this new one.

After printing this pattern, I layed the RTW top onto the pattern to compare. There was a little bit of excess width between the underarm point and the waist...the sideseam needed to curve inward there, as opposed to being a straight line. So I modified my pattern and used it!

I cut this top from a 3-yard piece of turquoise slinky from my stash. This pattern with the cuton sleeve was just a bit too wide to fit the front and back pieces side by side, so there was a bit of waste in the layout. I folded and cut the front, then refolded before cutting the back to make the leftover width as large as possible so that it could be useful next time.

On the front pattern, I serge-finished all edges above about 2" below the underarm points. On the back, I serged the neck and shoulder edges. I waited to serge the sleeve hem until after the sideseam was sewn, so that I could continue down the sideseam to hem.

Although I could see no evidence of any stabilization in the back neck of the RTW, I decided to add some clear elastic to my back neck.

I used the coverstitch machine to stitch the back neckline in place. I also used it on the garment hem, but everything else was done on the sewing machine or the serger.

The shoulder and side seams were sewn on the sewing machine so they could be pressed OPEN for a few inches above and below the sleeves.

Although this wasn't how I did it initially, I had to rip and redo, so I'll draw in what I SHOULD have done! After pinning the front and back shoulders together, stitch from the dot at the neck point to the notch at the Shoulder Point. THEN fold the cowl extension over and sew again. I tried to do it all in one step but the neck edges scooted and came out uneven...so I ripped and redid.

Below, you can see how it looks with the cowl extension folded over to the back (before sewing).

The top is upside down here...with the neck and shoulder in the foreground...but hopefully you can see how it looks with the seam sewn.

I sewed the sideseams on the machine, then serged the edge of the back sleeves, continuing down the sideseams to serge them together from about about 2 inches below the underarm point all the way to the bottom edge. Above that 2" point, the sideseams are spread open to allow for the sleeves.

I used the sewing machine to turn and stitch the sleeve edges.

The color is not great in these last two...it is evening now and the skies are overcast, but using the flash just blows it out. Hopefully, you can get the idea!

I know you'd rather see it ON ME, and I will definitely add a picture when I get one! But for now, here it is on my paper-tape double, which, after my recent weight loss, is several inches larger than I am in the hips! but this is better than nothing, right?

The neck looks pretty good...

I made a critical error making this pattern though. Look at the side of cowl neck extension on the original pattern on the left.

If that extension was folded on the horizontal line, you can see that the sides of the extension (green arrows) DO NOT reach the shoulder seam! That means that the inside of the cowl acts like a 'stay'...it keeps the neckline from draping quite as much. But I WANTED the drape! This neckline is not low...I only added 2" when rotating the pattern...so I WANTED it to drape more! Plus, the RTW one that I was copying was as wide on the inside as on the outside. I didn't check that area when I made the pattern...just trusted that it would be 'right' and pasted it on!

The image on the right is how I should have adjusted the pattern...the green area. That way, when the extension is folded down, the outer edge of the extension is as large as the outer area of the neckline, allowing the neck to drape a bit lower.

Next time!

After using the coverstitch machine to hem this top, and realizing that it was SKIPPING STITCHES, I was pissed. It really didn't do a great job on the back neckline, but I didn't catch it in time to change it.

But the hem was unacceptable...it had to be ripped out!

Plus, I had allowed an inch hem allowance and that just seemed like too much. So after I ripped out the bad stitching, I trimmed off .25" all around and turned up .75" for the hem...better! I also trimmed an additional .25" at each side seam, as the hem seemed to be hanging long there. Better!

This was AFTER spending hours changing needles and adjusting settings until the coverstitch machine would finally stitch correctly.

The KEY turned out to be: 1)reducing presser foot pressure, and 2)reducing differential feed (it was set too high for this fabric after having previously adjusted it for a thicker, less stretchy knit). Changing the needles made no difference!

The front is a bit too long...remember, I chose to use the pattern where the front and back start out just the same. My 'basic' pattern would have a front that is slightly shorter than the back, and if I had started with THAT one, I bet it would have been JUST RIGHT! Next time...

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