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Black And White Smock/Maternity Top

23 Dec

My, it’s been a while. And 2 days till Christmas! I’ve been busy busy busy-tidying up house, getting rid of unused things, doing some spring cleaning, running after my Little Wyld Man, who isn’t so little anymore. And also, I’m pregnant again! In between getting all of these done, I managed to pull together a simple smock from a Burda magazine, using some left over material from my maternity/nursing cocktail dress.

I was itching to sew something, but was too lazy to draft from scratch, so I decided I must make something quick and simple. I had some Burda magazines from the library and this little number caught my eye.

I love the simple lines, the yoke, and the pleats, which will allow for a growing belly. This is how it was made up in the magazine-in plaid.

I wasn’t too big on it, but I really liked the stylelines, and decided to make it.

This is the pattern sheet. You have to find the correct colour codes for the  pattern which can get confusing. In this case, I’m using the patterns outlined in blue. Burda patterns come without seam allowances, so you have to add them yourself.

I traced out the pattern using some tracing paper, and added a 5/8 of an inch seam allowance. You can use anything see through that is big enough, such as cheap sew-in interfacing, or even freezer paper taped together.

I’ve cut out my pattern pieces. This is a simple pattern, so only 6 pieces altogether.  Should come together pretty quickly. I’ve labelled each piece so that you’ll know what I’m referring to below.

The pattern markings must be marked onto the fabric at this point. I used to use tailor’s tacks, but now I just make a 3/5 inch snip into the seam allowance to mark centre points, pleating points, etc.

I’ve also cut out fusible interfacing for the facing front and back pieces, as well as the yoke. The fusible interfacing I’m using is a tricot knit, which is suitable for most light and medium weight materials. The interfacing serves to stabilise the area, and by this I mean that it will stop the fabric from stretching as you sew and handle it. It also prevents wrinkles and gives a bit more body to the fabric, although you don’t want to use interfacing that is too heavy, as this will change the hand/feel of the fabric undesirably. The interfacing should be cut using the same pattern piece, or slightly smaller.

To fuse, press with an up-down motion on a steam and wool setting till it fuses to the fabric. Wait till cool before moving.

Before stitching anything together, I finish the edges with my overlocker. Or you can use a zigzag stitch with a normal sewing machine.

Here, I’ve stitched the pleats in the front first. My order of construction is always to finish the details on the front garment, piece all front pieces together, then finish back details such as the zipper, and joint the front to the back at the shoulder seams and side seams. The sleeves  and hem are last.

In stitching the pleats, the pattern markings and centre points guide me and I don’t struggle to measure the pleating afterwards. I stitch vertically at each pleat to keep the pleats together, then horizontally across the pleats and the whole neckline.

The front yoke is joined to the main front, matching the centre points in the middle. The seam allowance is pressed upwards at the back.

Here’s I’m stitching the side seams. The shoulder seams are next. When this is done, test for fit. As this was a loose smock, the fit aside from the shoulders, weren’t essential. This top was drafted with a zipper in the back. When I tried it on, I found that it slipped easily over my head and shoulders, so I decided to omit the zipper.

Press the seams open and flat.

Here, I’m stitching the back neck facings together at the centre back seam. Next the back neck facing is joined to the front neck facing at the shoulder seams.

This is what it looks like. Press the seams open and flat. Remember, sew and press as you go.

Join the facing to the main garment at the neck edge, lining shoulder seams on both facing and main garment together. Make sure the centre points of the facing matches the centre point on the main garment. Sew with 5/8 inch seam allowance.

When this is done, turn the facing underneath and this finishes the neckline edge. However, you will find that it flips upwards very inconveniently. To remedy, you’ll need to understitch.

Open up the facing, and use your fingers to press the seam allowance towards the facing. Position your needle so that it is close to the seam line, but not on it, towards the facing. Sew the seam allowances to the facing. This is called understitching. This keeps the facing from flipping up a certain extent. However, you’ll need to clip the seam allowance as per below.

Clip at 1 inch intervals, or less where there is a sharper curve. This releases the fabric and lets it lie flat when you turn the facing under. Be careful to clip close to, but not onto the stitching line.

Next, we finish the hem on the sleeve.

I’m doing a double rolled hem by hand-you can do it by a narrow hemming foot, but I wanted to try this technique instead. Turn the edge wrong sides together around 1/4 inch and sew close to the edge. Using the tailor’s awl helps immensely as the sharp point guides the hem under the presser foot.

Now turn over the second time and do the same. Press the hem flat.

Before sewing the sleeve into the armhole, you have to prepare the sleeve for ‘easing’. The sleeve cap is drafted with extra length, usually about 1-2 cm longer than the armhole. The extra fabric must be eased into the armhole without puckering. This can be a challenge, but with practice comes perfection. To prepare the sleeve, sew a gathering stitch (I use the longest stitch length) inside the seam allowance.

The pattern will have a dot/mark where easing begins. Sew from this point with big stitches. Do not backstitch. Leave a long thread length at each end.

Pull the gathering threads and gather the sleeve cap evenly. The gathers must be ‘gentle’ rather than ‘hard’.

Pin the sleeve cap onto the armhole wtih as many pins as you need. As this is a cap sleeve, and not a full sleeve, find the markings on the armhole where the sleep cap begins and ends. The 1/3 of the lower armhole will be finished with a bias binding. Stitch sleeve to armhole at 5/8 inch seam allowance.

For the bias binding, I cut 1 inch strips on the bias, 16cm in length. These need to be folded in half and pressed. As this is on the bias, it is stretchy and can be shaped into a curve by pressing, as per below.

To attach the binding to the lower armhole, pin the so that the folded edge sits 2.7cm from the armhole edge.

Why 2.7cm? Because it is 5/8 inch plus 1cm. And when you stitch it in 5/8 inch from the armhole edge,and turn the bias binding under, it will match the finished edge of the cap sleeve perfectly. Magic!

Sew 5/8 inch from the edge of the armhole, catching the middle of the bias binding.

Trim aways the ends of the binding, and the seam allowance so that only 1/4 of the bias binding remains.

Turn under and edgestitch close to the edge, making sure the stitching catches and holds the bias binding underneath. Press flat.

Hem the bottom with a double rolled hem.

Finito!

Front view.

Back view.

Closeup of the front.

I’m rather pleased with this top. However, the neckline does gape a bit. So the next time I use this pattern, I’ll do a slight gaposis adjustment. But for now, Merry Christmas everyone!

Edited on 1/12/2014: I’ve published maternity and nursing patterns on Craftsy! Be sure to check them out!

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Blackwood Opshops

13 Oct

When I first came to Australia and discovered opshops, somebody told me I had to go to the Blackwood opshops. I didn’t find the time to till last week, when I went to visit some friends there, who babysat the Little Wyld Man while mummy went-a-shopping.

Blackwood, for those unfamiliar to Adelaide, is south of Adelaide, and situated in the hills. It has 5 opshops within a small shopping radius, the best and biggest being the Salvos one. There are also the Save the Children Opshop, Redcross, Goodwill, and the RSPCA thrift shop. See here for addresses.

I went to the Salvos one first, which was the most famous. Inside was the most organized and appealing  layout I’d ever seen in an opshop, being almost boutique-like in a rustic way. That said however, I didn’t find anything  to buy. There was a trouser press being sold for $60 displayed outside, but I don’t iron enough trousers to justify buying it. But if it had been a gravity feed iron/steam generator, that would have been a different story.

The next opshop I went to was the Redcross one. Here I spied an almost brand new shawl-collared white cardigan which I snatched up.

White Cardigan

Originally it had two ties sewn in to tie the front together which I removed. I also tacked the collar in place so that it would stay in that shape instead of collapsing. I’ve worn it out twice within the last week already. $6.99. Kaching!

I also found a dressmaking book, Success with Dress by Ellen and Marietta Resek.

Success with Dress

I hummed and harred about it, but was sold when I saw that it had a section on drafting patterns.

Bodice Drafts

This is an Aussie book, and very well written. Every chapter starts with a cute little rhyme, and it covers most of the basics in dressmaking.  The sleeve draft was good, being an assymetrical sleeve. (Sleeves shouldn’t look the same front and back, the front of the sleeve has less material, and the back has more-some books get it wrong). I have an earlier book by the same authors called Successful Dressmaking, which I posted about here. $3.

I went to Save the Children Opshop next, and here I picked up some fabrics-a nude and a red tricot fabric, perfect for petticoats and lining knit garments. I also found a nice wool felt hat in cream.

Cream Felt Hat

This is a back view.

Back view

I’m not so crazy about the way the grosgrain ribbon trim is finished at the back. I think it needs something more. I haven’t decided what to do about it yet. $4.99

I also found a sewing box for $9. I thought it was a bit steep for an opshop, but I really wanted and needed one, and Spotlight sells them for $20. I’ve been sewing out of a Tupperware container, so I’m glad to have this.

Sewing box

Inside peek

No, it didn’t come with tools and notions. *pout*. Wyld Man says it looks almost exactly like his mother’s.

The last stop was at Goodwill. I didn’t find anything that I liked until I was almost leaving and then I saw this.

Buckram hat with feathers

I really, really liked it. However, the feathers were a little scraggly, and the ribbon wasn’t glued on properly. I bought it, and I’m going to refashion it one of  this  days. This is a hat for spring, while the other one was a wintery one. $6.50.

So that’s all from Blackwood. I didn’t go to the RSPCA one because my friend/tour guide said it wasn’t any good, and I also wanted to get back to Little Wyld Man. I needn’t have worried though, he was very good and didn’t miss me at all!

And while I’m posting about all things opshop, I found this little top at the St Agnes Save the Children Opshop some weeks ago and loved it.

Red Polka Dot Top

Makes me feel like Minnie Mouse! Love it! $3. The camisole came from an opshop too. Can’t remember where from now.

What did you find at the opshops?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Burda 6/09 Sunburst Pleat Front Dress

24 Sep

I first read about Burda magazines in some sewing blog and was fascinated by the concept of a fashion magazine with real patterns. Since then I always kept a lookout for it at newsagents-not all stock them. Borders carried them till recently. I ‘ve been hunting for back issues to read and found that the Payneham library carried them-so I bacame a member (despite already being able to borrow from 5 libraries.)

For those unfamiliar with it, Burda is a monthly German dress pattern magazine that has over 40 patterns in it which you can trace out and make. I don’t usually buy it-to date I’ve  only bought three issues. It’s about $15.90 per mag and is good value for money if you make at least one garment from  it every month. It has pictures of models wearing the designs, a page with line drawings, and an insert of patterns in various colours  which you trace out. I like looking at the line drawings more than the pictures for the design ideas it inspires me to.

Of the 6 mags I borrowed, the June 09  issue had an interesting dress.

Burda 06/10

Pleat front jersey dress 102 Burda Jun 09

101 Burda 06/09 Pleat Front Dress

This is a clearer line drawing of it.

102 Line Drawing

I love the sunburst pleats and the pretty folds on the front. I formed an idea of a white dress with a black lace belt in this design and couldn’t wait to  get to  it.

This is the instruction sheet in the magazine.

Instruction sheet

This is the pattern sheet. Each sheet is labelled alphabetically with patterns pieces printed on it. One sheet may have several garment patterns on it, and the patterns for different garments are  differentiated with a different colour.

Pattern sheet

I trace out my pattern with sew-in interfacing, which is see-through and cheap. The Burda patterns do not have seam allowances added on to it, so here I am tracing around the patterns with a tracing tool-

Double pencils with a 5/8-inch spacer

-which I got at Lincraft.

I traced a size 38 all over, but I was actually a size 42 at the waist, and 40 at the hips. I was too lazy to grade up or  down according the markings-it was hard  to see and too tedious. I figured that since this is a stretch fabric, I’ll just pin fit the sides later. Also, the patterns were drafted for an “average” person-but who is? I’m very short waisted, so you’ll see in my pattern pieces below I’ve made a length adjustment by shortening  it by 2cms.

Pattern pieces cut and altered.

There are no construction photos-it was very quick to put together. The whole thing was sewn on my overlocker. The only thing that took some time was the  front pleats.

The instructions said to baste the pleats together, and sew it onto the front lining piece and treat as one, and not to press the pleats. I was too lazy to baste and just sewed the pleats on permanently and pressed it anyway. But the effect aren’t the soft folds as  in the picture, which I do regret not following.

The instructions for the dress was for a zipper to be installed in the back. However, instead of cutting 2 back pieces, I cut it on the fold, so I decided to put an invisible zipper in the side seam.

One thing I found was  that despite choosing the size 38, the whole dress was  huge on me. I had to remove 2 inches on each side seam from top to  bottom.

This is my finished dress.

Sunburst Pleated Dress

Back view

The lace belt is removable and this is what it looks like without it.

Dress plain.

I wanted to be able to wear it casually, as well as to more dressy functions.

It didn’t look so when the model wore it, but the neckline plunged too low for me. So I made a removable lace modesty panel.

Removable lace modesty panel

Here is a closeup of the lace belt, which is almost the favourite part of the dress for me. I wanted it to look like galoon lace, which I couldn’t find at Spotlight, so I made do with what I had in my stash.

Lace belt

The belt was the hardest to do, as this is the first time I’ve dealt with lace in this context. This was actually a small fat quarter piece of lace that was given to me with one scalloped border. I decided to cut it down along a motif, baste it to a white sew-in interfacing (to show off the black lace), and then backed again with black knit fusible interfacing. The edges have been finished with an overcasting stitch through all three layers.

Here is a parting shot.

Front view

I really, REALLY like this dress, especially with the lace belt. Which one do you prefer?

White Nursing Cocktail Dress

17 Aug

Some time ago I went to Munno Para Spotlight with a friend and picked up a lovely fabric for 6 dollars a metre. It was a polyester spandex fabric with an off white background with sketchy black roses. I fell in love with the fabric and decided to make a dress with it for a wedding that I was to attend-which was last weekend. I wanted to make a cocktail dress, but had to think long and hard about what design would suit the fabric, keeping in mind that I also wanted to be able to breastfeed in it.  I decided to make a dress of this design.

Nursing Cocktail dress

The dress was to have an empire waist, princess seams, a crossover front with gathers, within which there was to be a hidden opening for nursing access.

Because this was a woven material with a tiny bit of stretch, but I wanted a form fitting dress, I decided it would be a good time to take my Gladwrap pattern and use that to make the pattern of this dress.

Gladwrap pattern

I traced around onto a new sheet of paper and cleaned up the lines. I made two test garments before I was satisfied with it. This was the finished pattern.

Gladwrap sloper

I discovered that I have a swayback, and forward shoulder. A swayback is when a person’s back curves inward more than usual, requiring a deeper dart in the back waist.

I wanted a dress that was fully lined, with a combined arm and neck facing. Here are my pattern pieces and fabric all cut out.

Pattern and fabric pieces

Above you can see the facing pieces has already been interfaced-I block fused the interfacing to the fabric before cutting it out. I used a fusible warp-knit interfacing which was really light, had some stretch, and was almost plush on the non-fusible side. It was perfect for this fabric-I also tried it on a twill and a crepe and it still draped beautifully without changing the hand of the fabric.

Warp-knt interfacing

I also interfaced the front bust crossover pieces, as it needed some structure and stabilizing for the nursing access. I marked the bust point on the piece and slashed it to 3 cm above and then overlocked the slash-like this.

Nursing access

I was also careful to mark all the important points with either notches or tailors tacks. The blue thread you see above marked the triple folds on the bust piece. The folds were done in such a way that it hid the nursing access in a pleat-see below.

Front shoulder and bust panels joined

Here I’ve made the folds in the shoulder piece and joined it to the bust panel. These need to be joined to the back shoulder panels. Then I stitch all the princess seams in the front and back but do not join them to the top panels yet as I need to stitch in the neck facing and lining first.

Front princess seams

Bust and shoulder panels

Next I work on the facing and lining pieces, joining them all together except at the side seams.

Facing and lining pieces

Here the join at the  neckline facing and lining get a little tricky. If you look closely, I made a slit in the center top on the front lining, thinking that it would be necessary to accomodate the crossover at the bust. I found later that the slit wasn’t necessary at all.

Next I joined the neckline facing to the front bust panels.

Joining the front to the facing

I graded the seam allowance to reduce bulk, then turned and understitched the facing and seam allowances together. After this, I sewed the bust panels to the princess panels, and then all the side seams.

I marked the nursing slit length on the lining and opened it up.

Nursing access in the lining

Here I inserted an invisible zipper, sandwiching the zipper between the right sides of the lining and the shell, and handbasting first. I don’t think its the correct way to insert an invisible zipper into a garment with the lining, as the zipper can get caught in the lining. I had to redo the zipper twice before I was satisfied with it. Next time I’ll set the lining away fron the zipper.

I had left the armhole edges on both the lining and the shell raw, so I did a rolled hem on the armhole  shell with black thread. I overlocked the lining armhole, and used the overlocker to cut away 1cm all around the armhole so that the lining wouldn’t show.

I did a rolled hem with a narrow hemmer on my machine for the hem. For the lining hem, I overlocked the edges to trim away any longerbits, and then I sewed some lace for a couture touch. I love that only I know that it’s there.

Lace on the lining hem

And finally….

Here’s a back view.

It looks a bit rumpled because it just travelled to Melbourne and back again. I wore it almost the whole day at my friend’s wedding.

Here’s a view of the nursing access.

Hidden nursing access.

The dress was an amazing fit. Using the Gladwrap to make a personal sloper is a fantastic idea. No need to keep making fitting changes or multiple test garments. I highly recommend making one.

Here’s a final picture of me at Claudia and Kaiwin’s wedding.

Silvia, Manchee, Claudia, me, and Chok Fung

Edited on 1/12/2014: I’ve published maternity and nursing patterns on Craftsy! Be sure to check them out!

Yellow Nursing Top

28 Jul

A few months ago I bought some yellow jersey material from an op shop. It was a very pretty yellow, just my colour. I make it a policy to snap up knit fabrics if I see them in opshops as knits are quite pricey compared to wovens. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it then, but a few days ago I thought that I should start drafting patterns for knits. And I’ve been wanting a top for nursing-ones that have discreet access for breastfeeding. I came up with this design.

Design idea

It was to have an empire waistline, a wrap front with bust gathers, and a modesty panel behind with cutouts for nursing (see dotted line and gray shaded area). At first I wanted to make puffed cap sleeves  as in the picture, but when I made my pattern, I forgot and just make short set in sleeves.

I drafted the pattern from scratch using Winifred Aldrich’s close fitting jersey bodice block.

It's the one on the far left

I chose the option with greater ease (Aldrich gives you instructions for close fitting with maximum stretch, and another with more ease for less flexible material).

My personal jersey clost fit block with sleeve

I took some pictures of the drafting and pattern manipulating processes- but stopped halfway because the pictures weren’t that good. Here are some of them.

The back and the modesty panel for the front

This is the wrap front-I'm correcting the gape by slashing the neckline and pivoting it

That’s all I have of the drafting. I WILL take more organised pictures in the future…

Anyways,  that was a few days ago and I didn’t get to put the whole thing together till today. This is how it looks like.

Front view

Back view

That’s an awful lot of wrinkles. Methinks I have to do a narrow back adjustment, a swayback adjustment, and a forward shoulder adjustment. Or maybe it’s the way I’m standing.

Closeup

Below you’ll see how it functions as a nursing top.

Discreet nursing access

Instead of pulling the top up for feeding, this top provides full coverage.

I’m really happy with the way this top turned out-it looks completely store bought. It’s not my first time sewing a knit top, but it was the most successful. This was because I used  tricot knit interfacing strips to stabilise the necklines and armholes to keep them from stretching out of shape.

If anybody is interested, I can draft a custom nursing top pattern based on this or make you one. Just email me.

Custom Fit by Glad Wrap

7 Jul

Disclaimer: This Is Not A Glad Wrap Ad

I had a very productive day today. Did some laundry, some ironing, some tidying…and some gladwrapping. What did I gladwrap? Me. You see, in the sewing world, it is very useful to have dressforms to pin things on because you want to test the fit and hang of a garment. However, dressforms are very expensive, and sewing test garments all the time is rather time-consuming. The answer? Gladwrap yourself. The idea is to wrap yourself up in glad wrap with a few layers, mark the seam lines and darts and centre lines, cut off the wrap, lay it flat , and then use that as YOUR pattern for making garments to your measurements. So much faster. So that was what I’ve been up to today. I made a friend online who does patternmaking at TAFE, and we made a date to gladwrap ourselves today. So Mandy came over and we set to work. I came across this idea here.

Here’s a walkthrough: You need Gladwrap or any sort of clingwrap, a tight t-shirt, a permanent marker pen, scissors, brown tape, string and a patient friend.

Tape the waistline

I tied some string around my natural waist and used packing tape on it.

Mark the centre front line with tape

Sorry for the fuzzy picture. The centre front needs to be marked with tape. Same with the back.

Back centre line

Start wrapping around the whole body down to the hip and over the neck and shoulders till you get this.

Gladwrapped

Mark the bust points, the centre front and back lines…

Centre back line

Ignore the diamond shape lines on the back-they are supposed to be straight lines from the shoulder blades down to about 5 inches below the hipline.

Mark the shoulder seams, the neckline, the side seams and the armhole. Tape all of the above.

Mark the darts from the bustpoints straight down to about 5 inches below the hipline.

Like this

I’m feeling like I’m in a funky disco costume. But I can’t dance coz it’s too tight.

Here’s another view

Now we’re ready to get out of this …thing…

Cut cut cut

Cut down the centre front line-or the back centre line. Doesn’t really matter.

And voila!

Mini Me!

That’s an exact replica of my body shape which I will cut up into flat pieces to make body fitting dress patterns.

Here is the thing sawn in half

To make the patterns, the body wrap form must be cut into flat pieces. Cut along the waistline, the neck line, the shoulder and the side seams and you will get this.

Upper bodice and lower bodice pieces

Now I will proceed to slash the darts-this makes the pieces flat. If there is still some 3-D shape to the wrap, you will need to add more darts, or deepen the dart slash to flattern it. We found that because there was so  many layers of wrap, it was a little hard to ascertain that the pattern lay completely flat.

Slashed darts

The darts that were drawn in as straightlines at the back and the front has to be slashed open till the pattern lies flat like the above picture. Then lay in on a wide piece of paper and trace around. This is what you’ll get.

Personal block

Bear in mind that you can’t make a dress with the pattern here-it has no seam allowance, no ease. You can’t really move or breathe in this, unless it was a stretch material.

We actually made two wraps, and the one shown here is the first one. The first one had more layers on it, and therefore more stable and didn’t warp afterwards. The second one we didn’t use as many layers, so it’s starting to come apart-the gladwrap wasn’t as sticky as we’d thought it’d be. So if anyone attempts it, wrap at least 10 layers evenly all over the body.

I’m actually a little puzzled as to how the skirt block turned out. The front dart hardly opens, and the back dart looks odd. Also, I didn’t expect the armhole to look so….angular. Hmm. Well I’ll need to grade it up one size and make up a test garment to see how it’ll look. Stay tuned!

Edited on 1/12/2014: I’ve published maternity and nursing patterns on Craftsy! Be sure to check them out!

Vogue Skirt-Check.

24 Jun

Vogue 8246

I’ve spent the last 3 days making that Vogue 8426 -inspired skirt I blogged about on the previous post and took pictures today. From the start to finish, I told myself that it was going to be a mock-up/test garment/muslin instead of the real thing in order to test the fit of my drafting, and then to later make other versions of it if it was successful. However, I also wanted to make it a wearable muslin. I was quite determined to use fabric from my stash, and only to buy little incidentals like zippers if absolutely necessary. The path to the  end was frought with mishaps, with me miscutting the front centre piece NOT on the fold, and having to piece another bit of fabric to make up for it, then I discovered a hole in the skirt fabric, then after that, I couldnt’ insert the lapped zipper properly. Also, this was my first time inserting corded piping, so the results aren’t as uniform as it should be.

After reading about SewVeryPrairies’ skirt here, I thought and thought about how to draft the skirt. The front of the skirt was quite easy to draft. It was the back which had me puzzled for a bit. The bum-hugging shaping of the back of skirt has to be built into the 3 seams at the back, which ends in inverted pleats. This was what I came up with.

drafts and doodles...

It was quite successful-although for the skirt to hug the bum even more, I’d have to curve in the seams even more inwards. But I’m quite happy with my skirt as it is.

The materials I used were a dark grey crepe material, a silvery rayon? fabric, and bemberg lining.

Fabrics

Here are the pattern pieces laid out on fashion fabric ready to be all cut out.

Ready to cut.

I wanted my skirt to have piping details in the lower waist seams and on the side, but didn’t want to buy ready made piping-so I made my own. I started by cutting 1-inch wide bias strips with the grey fashion fabric.

Bias strips

Instead of buying cord for the piping, I used some regular knitting yarn.

Knitting yarn.

I used a zipper foot to sew the yarn into the piping.

Handmade corded piping

I was too lazy to take pictures of the process in between. But here are the photos of the finished project.

Front view

Back View

Side View

Closeup

The whole project cost me nothing-I used everything out of my stash, most of which came from opshops.

Not too bad for a mock-up. I’ll be making more soon.

My little man was very good-he just smiled at me from his little rocker as I hammer away on my sewing machine. How lucky am I?

White Jacket

1 May

Some time ago, I thought that I’d like to have a white suit to wear to church-actually to William’s baptism on 28 March. I rummaged through my fabricf stash and decided to make a white suit made of a waffle weave white linen that was given to me, trimmed with a navy blue polkadot fabric. This is the sketch I drew.

Fashion Sketch

It would have a shawl collar, and bias bound with the navy blue polkadot trim, with a sewn in belt feature, accompanied by a pencil skirt in the same polkadot fabric.

The chosen fabrics

This would be the first time I attempted a jacket, as well as make my own bias binding. I’ve always been intimidated by the jacket, with its facings, sleeve vents, linings and collars-but I decided to take the plunge this time.

I drafted a jacket block from Winifred Aldrich’s Metric Pattern Cutting for Womenswear.

The Jacket Draft instructions

My personal jacket draft

The shawl collar had to be drafted separately on another piece of paper and attached to the main jacket block.

My shawl collar piece

I decided where I wanted my style lines to be and marked them on the main block with pencil, and traced them out onto newpaper with seam allowances.

My cut pattern pieces

Laying out my pattern pieces on fabric, ready to cut.

The cut fabric

I also cut my interfacing for the jacket facing and the belt.

Interfacing pieces

Next up was the bias binding. I used the continous binding method to make a long chain of binding. I estimated that I needed around 3.5 m of 2.5cm wide binding to go around the jacket. 2.5cm x350cm=875 cm squared, square root of 875 =29.5cm. So I cut a square of polkadot fabric 35cm by 35 cm, and marked 2.5cm intervals on the bias with tailor’s chalk.

Fabric square marked on the bias with chalk every 2.5 cm intervals. The marks are not visible here.

I cut the square into half at a 45 degree angle across the bias

Now place one half of the square on the other side-making a rhombus like the picture. Match all the chalk marks

Sew the two pieces together with a very small seam allowance and press

The rhombus has to be rolled into a tube and joined together, matching all the chalk marks again. This feels very counter intuitive because it feels like the fabric is twisted.

The rolled tube of fabric

Now I just cut the fabric into one long strip following the chalk marks I made.

My bias strip

To make it suitable for binding, like bias binding you buy in a package, I use my bias tape maker.

Pulling the strip through the bias tape maker and pressing as I pull it through.

My bias binding all pressed and ready to go

It was rather satisfying to make that loooong strip of bias tape.

Before I started sewing, I did all the other incidentals like fusing the interfacing into place.

I fused the interfacing to the jacket facing.

My interfaced belt pieces

I sewed the lining pieces together first-to prevent sewing fatigue. You know how you’ve finished the main garment, then look at your lining and sigh-wishing that you didn’t have to do it after all? Well, making the lining first prevents that problem.

The lining pieces

I started sewing all the main garment pieces together and didn’t take pictures because I was in a hurry to finish the jacket. I sewed the binding all around the jacket by hand which took me the better half of two days.

This was the finished jacket.

Finished jacket

HOWEVER- I tried it on. And boy was I disappointed. It didn’t fit!!!! Well. It fitted well enough in the shoulders, and had the jacket been a standard design with no in-built belt, it would have fitted beautifully. But, I didn’t make a muslin, and didn’t anticipate that the draft being a looser fit with standard jacket ease built into it would not carry my design well. My design needed an extremely fitted jacket, with the belt sitting and wrapping the waist precisely. This jacket billowed at the back. And it has so many seams that was I to make the alteration to fit, I’d need to recut the belt piece, as well as take out every seam at the waist, where I counted at least 8 seams. It’s such a pity because I loved the colour combination-it’s so pretty! Grgh! And because it didn’t fit, I haven’t the motivation to finish making the buttonholes nor put in buttons. And now it’s officially an UFO-UnFinished Object. Sigh. I haven’t the heart to make my polkadot pencil skirt either. That’ll teach me to make a muslin next time I make a new draft of something.

Sewing and Pattern Drafting Books

14 Feb

Last week I found a Winifred Aldrich book on Metric Pattern Drafting for Men’s Wear on Ebay selling for AUD16 dollars and won a bid on it. At Dymocks I paid for my Women’s Wear one for AUD 75! I thought it was a bargain for 16 dollars. But I had to go and pick it up from the seller at Brighton Carboot Market, which is South West from where we live. Saved me about AUD12 in postage. So Wyld Man and I rushed there from church in order to meet Jim the seller before 12 noon, which was when they close shop.  While I was there, he took out some more books on sewing and pattern drafting. And I got them all. Sigh.

Aldrich’s book on Menswear

It’s the 1990 edition.

Overgarment block

Classic Shirt Block

Draft for a sports jacket

Drafting collars and revers

Drafts for boxer shorts and undies

Easy fitting classic suit block

I can’t wait to draft something for Wyld Man! He needs a new cassock for serving at mass.

This second book I picked up there was a real treasure.

Successful Dressmaking by Ellen and Marietta Resek

There is no date of publication, but it looks like it was written in the 40’s or early 50’s.

Although the book is titled “Successful Dressmaking”, it has a big section on just pattern drafting, which got me really excited.

It actually made a reference to Harriet Peppin, her book Modern Pattern Design being the definitive drafting book published in 1942. You can read the entire book at VintageSewing.info.

A reference to Harriet Peppin

A draft for a bodice block

I liked the simplicity of it. However, the armhole curve wasn’t detailed-it just said “Curve armhole”.

Sleeve draft

Skirt draft

Shorts draft

How to draft facings

Even a section on children’s wear

A list of contents

I paid AUD 20 for it. It was well worth it, because its more than 60 years old, in excellent condition for it’s age. The binding was tight, and the dust jacket in very good condition for a book that old. It was also published in Adelaide, which Wyld Man noted was unusual.

My next find-

Principles of Dressmaking by Doris Lewis

This book was published in Adelaide as well by the Education Department by the Government publisher in 1945.

It also has a big section on pattern drafting.

Publication information

How to take measurements

Basic Bodice

This book has actually made drafts of the basic bodice for different body shapes.

Drafts for the underdeveloped figure

Drafts for the stout figure.

Drafts for the extra stout figure

Brassier top slip

Smie fitting top coat

Double Breasted coat

Dressing Jacket

I paid AUD11 for this one.

All in all, it was a good day’s work.

Edited on 1/12/2014: I’ve published maternity and nursing patterns on Craftsy! Be sure to check them out!

White Maternity Top

14 Feb

I had quite a lot of material left over from the white maternity skirt I finished 3 days ago, and decided to make a top to go with it. I also had Wyld Man’s grandma’s 80th birthday party to go to on Saturday, I thought to quickly whip a top up. I started with a sketch.

A sketch of my maternity outfit

Deciding on the style lines of the top

I had to draft this pattern from scratch.  So out came my Aldrich block.

My Winifred Alrich Close Fitting Bodice Block in size 12

I needed to trace off a block on newspaper which I could cut out and move around to determine the style lines.

If you look closely, you will see an orange line above the waist line and below the armhole line-that’s my maternity/empire waistline,  under which I extend the pattern to accomodate a baby bump. Any pattern can be modified to become a maternity pattern. Just determine where the bump starts, and draw a line across-normally 2-3 inches below the bustline.

Getting ready to trace a block. Here, I layer carbon sheets on the bottom facing up, a large piece of newspaper, and the block which I want to trace off.

Laying out my trusty pattern weights.

Here you can just see the faint outline of the bodice I've traced. I'm going to cut it out.

These are the top part of the pattern above the maternity line, cut with princess seams, without seam allowances.

Here I've closed the bust dart with tape and drawn the style lines in red, which I will cut out.

Cutting out the style lines

Here I am determining the length of the back shoulder seam, and drawing the back neckline.

After cutting the style lines, I trace off the pattern pieces on a separate piece of newspaper with seam allowances.

Pattern pieces with seam allowances outlined in red.

Next, the sleeves.

This is my one-piece sleeve block from my Aldrich book without seam allowances. Single noth denotes the front, double notch denotes the back.

I wanted a slightly flared sleeve so…

I slashed the sleeve block to make a flared sleeve, and traced around the sleeve with seam allowances.

I made facings for the front and back neckline-not shown here.

The bottom front and back panels were easy-not much manipulation involved, except for the fact that I extended the front centre line by about 5 inches to gathers. However, I later found that I had made a mistake and only extended the front by 1 inch-AFTER the material had been cut-don’t know how that happened. So instead of gathers like in the sketch, I made an inverted pleat by cutting down the front centre line, and adding in a square of material into it.

Final pattern pieces all cut out.

I decided to make a muslin (test garment) to try out the fit. I only needed to try the top of the blouse, so I cut out the top part of the pattern from an old bedsheet I picked up at an opshop. In hindsight, I should have made a muslin of the whole top, in order to catch the mistake on the front bottom panels where the gathers were supposed to be.

Laying out the pattern on the op shop bedsheet for my muslin.

The cut pattern pieces for the muslin.

I tacked all the important joining points for the muslin-princess seamlines are hard to put together without them.

The finished muslin.

I tried it on and was quite happy with the fit, so I proceeded to cut it out of the white linen.

Laying out pattern pieces on the linen for cutting.

The linen material all cut out.

Tailor tacking all the points and notches to ease of joining all the pieces together EXACTLY.

Now I need to finish the edges of all the cut material.

Overlocking all the edges of the material.

I overlock all edges except the sleeve cap and the necklines on the main garment and the necklines of the facings. This is because the later seams will be enclosed, and the former will have the seam allowances trimmed off and reserged/re-overlocked.

I don’t know what I’d do without my overlocker. For one, I wouldn’t be sewing clothes at all-I’d still be stuck just sewing things like cloth nappies. I hate the look of raw unfinished edges on garments-didn’t see any point attempting to make one at all if I couldn’t finish the insides properly. And I don’t suscribe to the pink and stitch school of things.

Here I've matched tailor tacks between the front top panel with the side panel.

Tailor’s tacks makes joining princess seams sooooo easy. I used to spend ages trying to get the two opposing curves on princess seams to match. This was a cinch.

I've also made little notches on the curves of the princess seams to ease it into the opposing seam.

This is how the front top panel looks pin basted together.

Ironing out the curved seam on a rolled up nappy.

Here I've joined the armhole piece to the front top panel.

At this point, I started joining the bottom extended panel to the top, but realised that there was only 2 inches of excess material for the gathers I had intended. I decided to make an inverted pleat instead of gathers by cutting down the centre front line of the bottom panel, and adding in 10 inches of fabric for an inverted pleat. However, before I did that, I finished making up the back panel pieces.

The back panel pieces.

The 10 inch square of fabric I cut out for the inverted pleat. Had to overlock the edges of that.

This is the finished front piece with the inverted pleat at the bottom

Next, I joined the shoulder seams and the side and back seams together.

Then, the facings.

I joined the neck facings together

Joining the facings to the neckline

Trimming the seam allowances under the facings to reduce bulk-also called grading.

Here, I understitch the facing to the seam allowances to prevent the facings from turning upwards

Next up, the sleeves. Sleeve caps are normally 1-2 cms longer than the armhole length. This requires the excess fabric to be eased into the armhole. This has to be done without puckering, which is easy to do if unfamiliar with the technique outlined below.

Here I make a long running stitch between the notches on my sleeve cap and pull the threads to make a slight gather. This allows me to ease the sleeve into the armhole.

Insert the sleeve into the armhole right sides together. Pin baste from the side seams up and distribute the gathers at the sleeve cap evenly. Pin in small intervals to ensure even easing of the sleeve into the armhole and to prevent puckering.

Sew with the sleeve facing upwards and away from the needle plate.

This prevents puckers from appearing, which is easy to do if the sleeve was facing downwards while you sew it into the armhole.

I’m almost finished!

Pinning up my hem

I’m making a blind hem, which require me to fold the hem twice, once unto the wrong side 5/8 inch up, and then back onto the opposing side, just enough for the overlocked edge to show, just like in the picture.

I use my adjustable blind hem foot and set the machine to do a blindhem stitch.

I give the top a through press.

And I’m finished!

I’ve put both my maternity skirt and the top together for pictures.

Front view

Back view.

My whole outfit

I decided that I needed a belt to break up the white-it looked a bit boring without it. But the top and the skirt are great separates for a mix and match look.