Sunday, June 30, 2013

Peacock Silk Top for Grand Reception

***Edited in Purple---patternmaking, side-back princess seam.

I had signed up to attend the Grand Reception, held on the night before the quilt show opened.  This is a semi-formal affair, so I needed something 'special' to wear.  I decided to try to copy a Watters H2O top that I had tried on during my MOG dress-shopping marathon.  And I had just the right fabric for this...a peacock-colored silk that I had picked up at the Fabric Collection in Jackson, TN, on one of the MOG dress shopping trips!

Here, you can see me in the final top...along with Etta McFarland (my travel buddy!) and Jim West, the Managing Director of the IQFOI and founder and CEO of Travel Alliance, Inc., which operates the Sew Many Places travel company who organized the tour for us.  We were walking along talking with Jim when we stopped to take a photo...but look at how well we 'match' the quilts in the background!  And who doesn't love a man in a kilt? :)

To make my top, I began with the basic blouse pattern with side and waist bust darts as well as back shoulder dart.  I used the program settings to widen the neck opening, but had to manually create the neck shape I wanted.

Notice the shape of the sleeve pattern:  I have found that I get the best sleeve cap shape when I keep the wrist circumference very small...too small!  Widening the wrist narrows the cap (a program flaw that I have been complaining about for years now!) so it is best for me to draft with a small wrist then redraw the sleeve below underarm level manually.

I used ZERO bust ease* and 4.5" hip ease. 
I wanted the waist darts to measure 1.5" wide, so I adjusted the ease level until that width was drafted.  The waist ease setting ended up being 3.5".

*Knowing what I know NOW, if I was doing this over again, I would use a bit more bust ease.

I rotated the side bust dart to the shoulder. (Why not just start with the dart there, you may ask.  PMB cannot keep the armholes constant when the dart is rotated, so I start with this same side bust dart and make my changes manually.)

I also drew in the 'princess' line, which I wanted BESIDE (not 'ON') the bust point.
I also located the 'V' portion of the neckline.
I copied/mirrored the front pattern to create a WHOLE front, drew the new curved neckline, then eliminated the portion beyond the princess line on one side....this is a wrap front style.
Next, I drew a circle on the bust point, radius = 1.5". 
I used the LOCATE POINTS tool to divide the edge of the wrap (between waist and neck) into four sections...locate three points.
I drew lines from each of these points to either side of the bust circle, as well as to a point located on the sideseam that was 3.125" below the underarm.  These lines were to become the pleats.  
I used the SCISSORS TOOL to CUT the CF line into segments...this is important.

I measured that shoulder bust dart, then rotated HALF to the first pleat and HALF to the second pleat. 

When the pleats are opened, those CF line segments change their orientation.  That TOP segment will eventually become the grainline for this pattern.

At this point, I copied the pattern and extended the top CF grainline, then rotated the pattern so that the grainline was vertical.  Now I had the pattern for the LEFT side...and instead of pleats, those would be sewn as darts (so as to reduce bulk).
I continued working on the RIGHT side.  I drew in another line BELOW the I had three lines (including the waist) that still needed to be converted to pleats.  I did NOT rotate any of the bust dart to these was ALL put in those top two pleats.  These were simply rotated open to add fullness so they were equal in width to the other pleats...this was done AFTER I had separated the SIDE FRONT from the CENTER FRONT section.

Again, the top CF line segment was extended and the pattern was rotated to make it vertical.
Now I had a pattern for the left front, one for the right front and one for the side front.
Time to work on the BACK. 
As mentioned before, my back neck opening drafts NARROWER than my front neck opening...which is bad.  I am told it doesn't happen to everyone...depends on the measurements.  Anyway, I shift the back neckline (PINK) laterally by .25" and redraw the back shoulder dart (RUST)  smaller to control the length of the back shoulder seam.
To get rid of the back shoulder dart:
I rotated the back shoulder dart to the the 1/2-BAH height level.  Then I drew in the princess lines to incorporate the waist dart, curving to create a nice shape.  One side of the princess line (BLACK)  touches the upper leg of the now-armhole dart and one side of the princess line (RED)touches the lower leg of the now-armhole dart.  This incorporates the shoulder dart uptake into the princess seam and eliminates the need to sew a separate shoulder dart.

***see edit, below.
HOWEVER, now the two princess seams, BLACK and RED, are not the same length.  So I measured and found that the red line (side-back princess seam) needed to be lengthened by 0.5" to equalize these seams.  I drew in the BLUE segment (on right image), which is 0.5" long, then ROTATED the lower armhole (GREEN) by 0.5" CLOCKWISE, pivot point = underarm point (PINK CIRCLE). 
***Edited to correct-
On 07-28-13, I was putting away these patterns and I saw a hand-written note on this side back pattern piece with a reminder of something I had forgotten.  After sewing, the back princess seam seemed 'poufy', so I ripped and REMOVED that extra .5" that was added to the back armhole to equalize the princess seams.  So, apparently, it might be better to just leave those seams unequal in least for me!

Now all that was left to do was separate the patterns, add seam allowances, and clean them up.  I added generously at the tip-top of the side back (and side front) princess seams, then trimmed away any excess when I cut out the paper pattern pieces and fit them together.  This one only needed a tiny bit of trimming.

Using this pattern, I cut out the silk dupioni as well as the silk organza (the underlining).  BTW, that organza was white when I bought it, but I prewashed my fabrics it matches.  :)

I started out hand-basting these pieces together, then tried machine basting, but evently resorted to glue-basting the underlining to the fashion fabric.  Those front pieces had LOTS of darts/pleats to baste around!

For my loops, I found a great tutorial on making narrow spaghetti straps on this site. She uses a bobby pin to turn the narrow tube...genius!  Check it out...

Oh!  My buttons!  Would you believe I found this set of buttons to cover in my grandmother's stash?  Again, her stuff comes to my rescue, just as it did with the button for the MOG dress.  This set had just the right amount of buttons, in just the right size...hard to find at the local store these days!

My loops, as seen from the inside:

Here are the loops and the buttons, as well as a snap I sewed on near the lower edge to help keep the hem closed.  Since I lined this top with black Ambience, I didn't have any peacock-colored china silk to cover the snap I used it as-is.

To hold the underlayer, I sewed a button onto the lining at the princess seam, catching only the lining.  I wasn't sure if I should try to catch the outer layer (seam allowances) too, or not, so I just caught the lining.  I made a thread loop to go over the button.

Here you can see the buttoned inside...

At one point during construction, I was very frustrated.  I had the neckline all stitched, trimmed, clipped and understitched...but those 'points' were kind of wanting to stick out away from my body.  I had forgotten to trim a bit off the facing pattern and I was afraid this was the cause.  I ripped one side...understitching, mind you!!!...and scooted the seams as if the facing had been trimmed...then pinned to see if that might fix the problem.  I couldn't really tell...

About that time my doorbell rang.  It was my next door neighbor, who hasn't been over to my house in years!  She had come to say hello and see my sewing room.  I took her up and showed her around, then told her about the problem I was having with this neckline.  She then told me about a particular collar that gave her fits (long ago), so she went to the storage room and grabbed some WIRE and sewed it into the collar she could shape that collar any way she desired!  Well, a lightbulb went on over my head!  YES!  She also said that if the hem of a jacket wanted to flip out on her, she would sew a quarter into the front hem/corner!  Genius!

As soon as she left, I put the ripped-out neckline back as it had been before I ripped it.  I hand-sewed some thin copper wire along the neck corner seamline...bending the ends to prevent pokies.  Worked perfectly!  I could probably have used the heavier gauge wire (in my jewelry-making stash), but I didn't want to be able to feel it (with my hand).  Then, when I got to the hem, I took no chances...a quarter seemed excessive but a dime was just right! :)

Here is the jacket on my paper-tape double...see how my left shoulder blade really sticks out? That makes it difficult to get my back shoulder width just right.   This jacket is 'almost' perfect...for a no-ease garment it is great.  But next time, I would prefer a bit more ease at bust and above, across the back.

Here are a few pictures of the top ON ME!  I felt like it looked good and made a good impression.  Though close-fitting, it was not so tight that I couldn't move, even with the camisole underneath.

At the Grand Reception...not everyone chose to dress semi-formally.  And there were no dress-police there to enforce the code!  But I was glad I looked appropriately attired, even if my hair DID look awful this whole trip!  sigh.

The fellow in the plaid shirt is the official photographer...he certainly didn't dress for the occasion!

Perhaps you can see a little tightness across the back? 
I think I would also lower the armhole just a tiny bit for the next one (in addition to adding a bit more bust/shoulder ease).

Ya know, on the MOG dress, I had made the shoulders TOO wide!  So, when I drafted the pattern for this top, I reduced the front and back shoulder widths...but apparently, I over-did it! 
Story of my life.
Next time...


Saturday, June 29, 2013


I have several more posts that will soon be posted in the wrong order...that is, they SHOULD have auto-posted back in April but that didn't happen.  So, if you get notification of a new post, but get here to see the same old one, please look back a few posts to see what's new!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A visit to a quilt show...

...or what I did on my Summer vacation!

This was the second year of the International Quilt Festival Of Ireland and I made the over-sea journey to attend. This was my first time to cross the first stamp on my new passport!

Ireland was green and lush, yet the trees were not tall like here in the U.S.A.  I guess when you live on an island, the trees are needed for wood which would be expensive to import.

Farmers are required to leave a little land undisturbed at the edges of their fields for the wildlife.

Aren't these 'fahans' interesting?  Little beehive-like structures that folks actually lived in many years ago!  I suspect they did little more than take shelter there, as they were so tiny!

And what is a trip to Ireland without a visit to Blarney Castle?  You can bet I went inside, but I did NOT kiss that stone...although I took photos for others who chose to kiss it.  No, I am a bit more selective about what touches MY lips!

In Wicklow County, we visited the oldest mill in Ireland...Avoca. 

Inside, the mill was a hub of activity, with workers performing a specific task in each area.  This man demonstrated weaving by hand...pulling the cord to force a shuttle back and forth.  It was kinda awesome!

But this IS a sewing blog, after all!  I should talk about sewing...

The quilts at the IQFOI were displayed in unusual ways, by design.  That is part of what makes this show different from all the others.  The "I Believe" exhibit was in a church.  Actually, the first time we went to see it, we had to leave as there was a WEDDING about to start!  We went back the next day, just as MASS was beginning!  Finally, our third visit was successful and we were able to see all the quilts as well as the magnificient cathedral!

In the "Under the Sea" exhibit, they had created atmosphere by using shells, fishes,, treasure chests, blue lights, etc, to give the illusion of being in the ocean.

In the "Spirit Rising" exhibit, there were trees, rocks and spa-like music to provide a tranquil environment.
Etta (McFarland) and I had a great time, both at the quilt show AND touring the country!

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