Sunday, January 8, 2017

Pattern Alterations - there is always something new to learn


Since shortly after Christmas, I have been under the weather with this virus that is going around, a long cold that hangs on and hangs on. So last week, since I couldn't do much except sit around, I treated myself to a couple of classes on Craftsy.

I chose two fitting classes with Pati Palmer and her daughter Melissa Watson. One is for fitting shirts and tops, the other for fitting knit tops. This is not new material to me, but having this in a video format is a new way of learning. I decided to actually take a pattern and follow their instructions to the letter and see what the results would be.

I chose The Fearless Tee from Material Things, an old t-shirt pattern that I have used for years with success. I wondered if I could improve upon the fit.

                                                     Fearless T-Shirt 

First up, I went down a size, using my high bust measurement to select the size. As Pati explained, when patterns were first produced, the bust meant that measurement above the bust. She said think of a sculpture of a "bust" and that is what was meant by a bust. The measurement that we take of our full bust is actual a measurement of our breasts. Huh, that made sense to me. And if you read the disclaimer in pattern catalogs, they will tell you to pick the size by your upper bust measurement unless there is less than 2" difference between high bust and bust, because then either measurement will put you into the same size.

So down a size I went, which meant that there was no way this pattern would go around my body.
On to a tissue fitting, following the order specified in the video. First off, I saw something new to me: the need for a high round back alteration. I didn't know I needed one, but it became obvious that I did. I also needed a broad back alteration as the tissue would not reach to my center back.

So I altered the upper back, slashing the pattern and spreading it 3/8" at CB and coming back to nothing at the armhole. Then I slashed the pattern through the shoulder seam right down to the lower edge and spread it 1/2"  Another fitting with the tissue and I was amazed. The back now fit but what amazed me was that my shoulder seam was now straight. I have been troubled by a weird shoulder seam for years, but it is the reverse of all the fitting books. Rather than having to alter the seam at the armhole edge, my seam was pulling toward the back at the neck edge. Adding 3/8" to the high round back released that area and the shoulder seam was now sitting right on the top of my shoulder where it should be.

Altering the front was easy; I needed a full bust alteration of 1 1/4" to provide enough circumference so that the centre front would meet my center front. And this meant I now had a bust dart added to the pattern. As Pati says, if you buy a $200 designer t-shirt, it will have a bust dart in it. If you don't like the appearance of a dart in a knit, she advises trimming the dart legs to 1/4" and pressing it up, rather than down. I did all of this and the only remaining alteration was to shorten the dart by 1/2" as it was too close to my apex.

I sewed up the new altered pattern in a bamboo knit that I bought last year from Blackbird Fabrics. The fit was good, it could be a little tighter in the front but that is easily fixed by sewing deeper side seams.

I decided to compare the new altered pattern with the one I had been previously using, which was the same pattern, but in one size larger. At first, the differences don't appear that big. But they are significant. First off, I have a shorter shoulder seam, which is good. The new back is slighter wider in the armhole area than the old pattern, and the broad back alteration makes the entire back larger from the armhole down. Previously I had been sizing up both front and back to make this fit.
The new front is narrower in the armhole area, which is an improvement. I often find bagginess in garments in this area. The FBA gives me the added room at the side seam, without making the rest of the tee larger.

The finished results mean that I now choose the large size in this pattern, with 1/2" more in the back, and 1 1/2" more at the front side seams with extra length. Using the extra large size did give me the circumference that I needed but not in the correct areas. Basically I am a smaller size in the back than in the front, it would appear. You know, I should have seen this previously as I can recognize this in my youngest daughter who seems to have inherited my upper body. She is short-waisted with a full bust and a broad back. I can easily see that in her, but it took this tissue-fitting to see this in myself.

So the new alterations do indeed give the room where it is needed. So rather than just getting a pattern to fit around me, the alterations have given me a pattern that is narrower where required, broader where required, and gives the extra length to the front that a full bust requires.

I am impressed with the results and am now going to use this pattern along with the cowl from Sewaholic's Renfrew Top to give a different look in a similar weight knit.

I am eagerly awaiting the materials to arrive that accompany the course; each course gives you a pattern and the fitting manual; you also have access to the video as much as you wish to watch it.
I will wait for the blouse pattern to arrive to make the alterations to that and then I will tackle the princess-line shirt that I wish to make into a tried-and-true pattern.

Many thanks to Pati Palmer and to Melissa for their efforts with this video. I know that Pati has been fitting a bazillion bodies for the past 45 years and her experience is evident. She is now passing that knowledge along to her daughter Melissa who seems to have the same love for fit and sewing that her mother has.





Friday, December 30, 2016

Fabric Store Finds


A quick visit to the fabric store this morning - disappointment that McCalls 7549 is not available yet. So I picked up three other patterns, all McCalls.

                                                 
McCalls 7248, a tunic top with sleeve variations and choice of two necklines, one deeper than the other but both the overlapping front band.

                                               
                                                 
McCalls 7390, another pullover top with some very interesting angled seams. It looks great in striped fabric, but could also be done in two or three coordinating fabrics. The line drawing shows much more potential than the photo above.

                                              


And McCalls 7470, a pattern from Palmer/Pletsch for a shirt and shirt-dress with Pati's excellent fitting advice. Her patterns are like getting a sewing lesson included with the pattern. I have always liked those patterns from McCalls. I may use this one for the princess-seam shirt that I want to make into a TNT pattern. It looks like a great pattern, with plenty of fitting insurance built into those princess seams, and the option of a dress either with or without sleeves.

Then I just wandered through the store, checking out new arrivals. Lots of coating fabrics in stock, it surprises me that so many people are sewing coats, because I don't see them on my friends. Who is buying this fabric? The saleslady said much is being bought to sew into capes, as they are simple and don't require fitting.

A table of lovely pinwale corduroy but I resisted. I haven't sewn up the last bunch I bought. 
Then a table of some gorgeous shirtings, 100% cotton and very fine. Perfect in my opinion. Many stripes and checks, so I opted for 2 metres of this 60 inch wide fabric to be used once I get the shirt pattern to my liking. This one will require precise matching, so I will save it until the pattern is absolutely perfect. 



I also found at the back of the store, which is where they put last season's bolts, a  bunch of pure linen fabrics. Oh so hard to resist, one was a lovely navy handkerchief-weight linen, that would make the great summer shirt. Some others in a dress-weight linen, in soft yellow, brighter yellow, coral and turquoise. They weren't cheap though and, even at 50% off, they would still cost around $18 per metre. I couldn't justify buying any of those, as I know they wouldn't be sewn for quite some time. If they had been cheaper, I wouldn't have hesitated, but common sense told me to restrain myself. 

I am looking forward to the New Year and some new to sew. No pressure, just sewing for the pure joy of it. 

In the meantime, I have been doing a fair bit of knitting. A sweater for Hannah keeps the hands occupied while watching movies during the holidays. I no longer sew in the evening, but keep my husband company and we often watch a mystery on Netflix. I can't just sit there but have to do something with my hands so there are things coming off the needles.


This is a cardigan knit in one piece from the neck down. The colour is a true purple, but appears more blue in this photo. The pattern is Granny's Favorite by Georgie Hallam, downloaded from Ravelry. I am knitting it in  Cascade SuperWash wool and in the largest size since Hannah is 13.

                                                     

And then I ordered some Cascade 220 wool to knit this sweater in the fall Interweave magazine. The pattern is the Harvey Pullover by Hannah Baker and this one is knit in one piece from the bottom up. The front is done in a Brioche stitch and the back in stocking stitch. There should be enough variation to keep this from getting boring and I haven't knit a pullover in ages. Perhaps with all the shirts I plan on making, a pullover might be a good idea. I love a sweater with a crisp collar peeking out over the neckline. This wool is a turquoise heather so it will have a marled appearance and I bought the shirting above thinking they would work together. Of course, the shirt will be finished long before the sweater.



The pattern is available on Ravelry at this link.























Monday, December 26, 2016

New Year Sewing Plans


                                               
                                               McCalls 7549

I made a quilted bomber jacket years ago and wore it so much. It was time to toss it out, the lining was disintegrating. I had used unbleached muslin, quilted it to flannelette and then lined it with a black and gold polyester lining. It went in and out of the wash many times, and was a go-to jacket for many occasions.

Time to make another one and this McCalls pattern looks like it's just up my alley.
I love the different areas of quilting and this is the style of jacket that I feel most comfortable in.
This version doesn't seem to have any closure but it would be easy enough to add an exposed zip.

I also bought the Ginger jeans pattern, the boyfriend version and the Kelly Anorak from Closet Case patterns. I have seen so many favourable reviews of the jeans, but the skinny legs is not for me. Also I am not a big fan of denim with lycra, I find that the waistband grows and the pants are constantly slipping down. The boyfriend pattern calls for regular denim, which I always enjoy sewing.

                                               Morgan Boyfriend Jeans pattern // by Closet Case Files

The sew-along files look like a great help in this. Although I have sewed jeans and jean skirts a number of times before, it is always good to remind oneself of the steps and new designers will have new ideas on how to make the process better. This is the kind of sewing that I most enjoy, all those details like the double top-stitching; this is what puts some folks off, but for me it is the technical side that I enjoy most. I would probably have enjoyed working in a factory making the perfect welt pockets in tailored jackets.

And the Kelly Anorak is a great pattern, Carolyn has made several wonderful versions of this pattern.

http://handmadebycarolyn.com.au/2016/10/kelly-anorak-for-kelly-and-one-for-cassie-too.html

Carolyn's blog is one that I just love; she is a beautiful seamstress and just has a fashion sense that is uniquely her, but never takes herself too seriously.

I also want to make a really good shirt, with princess seaming. I have so many fabrics in the stash that would make great shirts and I want to get a pattern that I use over and over just like Lauren at www.lladybird.com does. Her favourite pattern is Butterick 5526 and there are a number of patterns with the requisite features. I am going to work on Simplicity 2447, first in a plain cotton and then in a plaid shirting that I bought from Blackbird Fabrics.

                                              Simplicity 2447 Sewing pattern for ladies tops, shirts, blouses.  Easy to sew

Some plans for the new year, I feel a sewing blitz coming on.





Saturday, December 24, 2016

Burda 6633


                                 Tunic Top, Fastening Bands
This is a nice tunic pattern that I saw in the Burda catalogue. I was looking for a tunic with an overlapped neckline like this one. The pattern is well-drafted, but I have to say it is very sparse with instructions.

Inserting the circular neckline facing could have been better illustrated and things like stay-stitching the edge and clipping it before attaching the facing  (you are attaching a converse curve to a concave one) are omitted. I guess Burda assumes that you should know these things, but if you haven't done it in a while, you charge ahead as I did and then you get puckers!




Oh well, I am getting used to the fact that I have to make something twice before I get it right. So this version was made up quickly in a black embroidered cotton, and I have a second version cut out in a red cotton. 

Making something twice, especially if you make them back to back, helps you to iron out any glitches, both fitting and sewing glitches and I hope my second version is smooth and pucker-free now that I know what to watch for.

I made no alterations to the pattern, and every time I sew up a Burda, I ask myself why I don't sew exclusively with Burda patterns. They are drafted for a C cup so there is no bust alteration to make, and little things like the shoulder seam and the armscye are just drafted slightly different yielding a better result. 

The shoulder seam has a curve in it, rather than just being straight across. The armscye is quite different than other pattern brands, the back armhole is shorter and the front armhole almost has an L shape to it. I think this shaping fits me better and I have seen this before on some Burda dresses that I have made. 

In my second version, I did reduce the length of the shoulder seam 1/2". I think this top would also work well if done sleeveless, in which case I would raise the underarm seam about 3/4" and taper that seam in closer to the body to eliminate any gaping. I would also cut in the shoulder seam deeper as suggested by Sunny Gal on her blog. In fact, it was her success with this style that made me go out and look for a similar pattern.




Friday, December 16, 2016

For the love of dogs


This morning, I clicked on a blogger's link and wept as I read that her dog had died. I have been crying on and off all morning since reading about this.
She kept me company, that was the thing. Keeping me company.
Precisely.

We lost our beloved dog Teddy last January, he had just turned 15 a month before. A long life for a dog, especially a medium-sized dog. Life expectancy is around 12 for his type. We had him from 8 weeks old, just three days after having to put down a fear-biting Border Collie. In a pet store, the last of his litter. He ran over to us, tail wagging, big head bobbing. And within half an hour, he was safely in the car going home with us.

I have always had a dog, except for perhaps 2 periods of my life when I lived in apartments. As a child, we had a dog, a runt Pekinese called Sammy. He often sat beside me, as I lay on a lawn bed. I had a childhood ailment which rendered me unable to walk for 3 years and for the first year of that period, I was bound in a body cast from chest to hips in order to keep the bones aligned as my hip joints began to repair themselves. So I spent a lot of time alone, watching the kids play, wishing I could join them, but I had Sammy with me.

There were multiple dogs after Sammy, Sammy #2 a mean-spirited Pekinese quite unlike his namesake, then Paddy the black Lab who alerted me in a park when a man began to chase me. I owe that dog my escape. After Paddy, there was Duffy, a mutt that my brother had picked up on the docks in Fort Erie. A beautiful Gordon setter with a disposition so lovely. But my parents separated and the house went up for sale and the neighbours across the street took Duffy to be their family dog.

I recall going over to visit my dad, who was still in the house, and when I left, Duffy saw me and chased after the car as I drove away. I looked in the mirror and saw him standing in the middle of the road, a symbol of everything that was being left behind.

You see, dogs have always been my companions. My kids joke that I am slightly autistic, in that I don't give or receive affection easily. But I can with dogs. Perhaps that is why I love them, I can be my emotional self with them.

Now Teddy became my constant companion for 15 years. During those 15 years, all of our daughters left home to go to school or to start a new life elsewhere. A friend of mine told me that it takes five years to get used to a child leaving home. One by one, the three girls left but Teddy remained. He was there as the house got emptier and emptier, always ready to go for a walk, always ready for some horse-play, always happy to see me. When either my husband or I were out, he would lie across the back of the couch with his head on the windowsill so that he could watch the street. He would get off once the person who was away returned, and he would contentedly go up to his bed in our bedroom.

Stay-at-home moms can be very lonely people. Your life centers so much around your kids and then, one day, they feel the ability to face life without you. And you let them go. They have your blessing but it is still lonely when they leave. So you cry into your dog's furry neck and hold them close, because they don't leave for a new life. They stay with you until the end.

I have slept curled up in a double bed, right on the edge, because Nick was on the other side and Teddy had decided that he needed to be up there too. Once he got up, he was pretty much of a dead weight and so I learned to sleep in the smallest positions in order to let him stay. I could make room for him.

The house feels so empty now without a dog. No pitter patter of nails on the wood floor, no crashing down the stairs to come and get a drink, no going to the back door and looking back at me to say 'let me out'.

Keeping me company. Carolyn, you are so right. Keeping us company.












Thursday, December 15, 2016

Knitted Hat for Hannah


Grand-daughter Hannah, she likes her new hat!  yeah.  This was a toque that caught my fancy in a Knit Simple magazine. It is knit with all-over cables, then you embroider French knots in the centre of each cable. Add a pom-pom and voila!





I am thrilled to hear that she is wearing it all the time. There is something so cute about girls wearing slouchy hats, I love it. What a beauty she is, but I guess I am prejudiced.










Friday, December 9, 2016

Christmas Sewing


Since this blog is meant more for myself, to keep a summary of what I have sewn, here is a very blah photo of a simple tee-shirt. I used a very old Burda pattern that I have had for over ten years. It even uses a front and back neck facing rather than simply binding the neckline with self-fabric.
Would I make this pattern again?  I don't think so.
There are much better tee patterns out there.
The knit is an aqua bamboo knit found in the stash.


But here is a photo of what I have been sewing for the past week: pyjamas for the grandkids. 
I didn't make a pair for the youngest, who just turned one last month. She has numerous sleepers with feet attached, which are much better for little ones to keep their toes warm.


The pyjamas from left to right, top to bottom include a plaid pair for Jacob, then another plaid set for Hannah, plaid pyjama bottoms with a red sweatshirt knit top for Ben.  Second row is a pale blue top with plaid bottoms for Joe, then red top and plaid bottoms for Isaac and last, turquoise top with plaid bottoms for Sarah.

All of these, with the exception of Jacob and Hannah, were made from the stash. I had to purchase new flannel for the oldest kids, as I didn't have enough yardage for them. Now that they are 13, they are into adult sizes and a pair of pyjamas takes 3 metres of 60" wide fabric. They have joined the adult world!  With Sarah and Isaac's, I didn't have enough knit for the tops, so the sleeves are made from the same flannel as the bottoms, they kind of look cute that way.

Very satisfying make to use up all that fabric for clothes that I know will be worn until they are threadbare.

Yardage purchased:  8 metres plaid flannel
2 metres corduroy (for a pair of pants for myself)

Yardage Sewn Up:  19 metres for a total of 66.6 metres in 2016
Yardage Purchased:  53.1 metres