new fabrics

I haven’t finished the grey Birds in Shoes shirt yet. Nor the Little Grey Flowers shirt. I haven’t finished drafting the new shirt pattern yet. And I haven’t finished reading Shirtmaking: Developing Skills For Fine Sewing by David Page Coffin yet.
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But what I did do was buy a whole lot of new fabrics:

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The last couple of weeks I’m gearing up to make a whole new set of basics.
This is my inspiration board:

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Clean lines, no ruffles. Functional garments. Natural fibres.
Light blouses, light trousers/skirt. A darker dress over it, a dress with pockets. With a light shawl or collar framing my face.

I’m studying to make the shirts in the funny patterned fabrics at the moment so that when I can do a half decent job I can turn these:
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into nice shirts.
Two linens, one cotton and the white one is silk (for a more shaped/draped garment).

Here’s four meters of mid weight linen:
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For a shirt and a skirt or trousers.

Some darker and stiffer fabrics:
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The denim is for a pinafore dress, with pockets, like my main inspiration picture:


Dress by Bespoke tailor and designer Ivey Abitz

The dark linnen will become trousers I think. I have one pair of linen Summer trousers in olive green and I love it. We’ve drafted a block for trousers on my drafting course and pretty soon I’ll learn to make a pattern from it. I’d love to have another pair of trousers.

The olive green grey piece of linen in the picture is intended to become an exact copy of this vest:
 design by Marcy Tilton, fabric seller.
Make it stiff, shape it with top stitching and facings and linings. And make it work for a girl.
I love the “bib” shape and it will give me a firm front while lots of shaping can happen at the underbust. The neckline also makes a perfect frame for whatever I’ve got going on there: a blouse with an interesting collar; a handknitted lace shawl or a sparkling necklace.

With the fabrics I keep contrast in mind. It resembles the contrast in my own face colouring: medium to halfway harsh. I look good in these contrasts.
Before I found it necessary to buy funny patterned fabrics, to keep myself entertained during sewing.

Now I’m working towards silhouettes, ensembles, combinations that form a unit. The quality of the fabrics will bring (tactile) delight to the process of sewing and the entertainment will now come from precision sewing. I’m so enthousiastic about it!
I cannot yet get my hands and the fabric to do what I’m seeing in books and internet tutorials but it’s vastly entertaining and I sometimes get it right and that’s a real boost.

Wait until I can do this:

Or this:

In the mean time I bought these cufflinks:

Teehee!
*off to wash my fabrics*

Sewing: my little tips and tricks

  1. staystitch.
  2. guide stitch before folding and pressing.
  3. use guiding device on your machine (and cut precisely).
  4. use a small iron for pressing.
  5. lots of pins for a set in sleeve.
  6. sleeve cap fits the armhole.
  7. use a tailor’s ham for armhole pressing. Or fold some tea towels.
  8. use fusing interfacing when you’ve nicked the fabric.

Right after cutting your front and back panel: stay stitch the arm holes and neck line.
Run the machine off the fabric. Smooth the thread afterwards so the fabric and the thread are relaxed. The staystitching is right on the outside of the intended sewing line.
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Below you see the inside of my armhole: stay stitching on the seam allowance, seam on the seam line. If I want to I can nudge the seaming allowance, straight through the staystitching. It has done its job of preventing the armhole to sag before the sleeve was attached.
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Sew a guiding stitch line before folding over a side and pressing it. Good for hems. Good for button band plackets. Found a good video tutorial by Pam Howard here.

Cut the fabric precisely and use a guiding device on your machine. This is mine. Antique and precise:

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My seam ripper shows how precisely my fabric was cut. The two pieces lie exactly against each other with their edges.

 A small iron for pressing is bliss. This one is marketed to children and people with mental challenges (?). It’s perfect for me.

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As you can see I don’t have my ironing table out, I just work on the wooden table that’s in our front living room, with only a towel for protection. The wood is coated and can stand some heat. If I had to drag out the ironing table every time I wanted to sew I’d think of reasons to procrastinate.

If you don’t like working with heavy things, don’t work with heavy things.

Also: my iron is plugged into an electric plug in that has an on/off switch. Easier to switch than my iron, which you have to disconnect to power it down. The plug of the iron is a bit of a hassle to disconnect. Make life easy.

Use plenty of pins when pinning the sleeve cap to the armhole. Slowly sew across them, letting the needle find its own way.
sleeve sleevecap fit shirt arm hole
Best results are when the sleeve cap is as long as the armhole. There’s little reason to try and cram in extra ease into an armhole that’s not big enough. Better is a narrow fitting armhole and a sleeve cap to match.

Use a tailor’s ham for pressing. Two rolled up tea towels will do too. But a tailor’s ham is on my wishlist.
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Aargh! snipped into the fashion fabric! A little V-shaped cut.
Glue some fusing to the back. And the front. Cut the edges irregular. If it is too obvious just embroider around it in a strong colour and make it a feature.

inside:
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outside:
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Nobody knows but me.

Additional tip:
don’t eat chocolate when you’re in the habit of keeping pins in your mouth.
Chocolate spot right at the front of my button placket:
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Couture Dress: thank Bob for wide seam allowances

Having slept a night on the problem of cutting the wrong side of the fabric and spending hours basting it to the lining I thought I might try something before ripping out the basting, sewing the dress wrong side out or just chucking everything in the dust bin.

Unpin the muslin pieces and reposition them the right way, see if there is enough seam allowance to harbour the pieces the right way down. Switch side pieces left and right with one another if necessary.

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There is. Now I’m not paying attention to the carefully placed basting lines. I will have to sew the pieces together using the muslin edges and lines as guidelines. I am going to pin it crazy and then use a different coloured thread and carefully baste it by hand. After fitting I’ll sew it for real with the machine. Then remove all bastings.

At least I might be able to use this fabric. Sometimes it comes close though. The muslin is folded ON the seam line so that small piece of lining right there at the apex of the bust is all the seam allowance this piece is getting. Better stitch it sturdy.

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Couture Dress: cutting the lining

Marking.
Then cutting with a wide seam allowance.
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After this I’m using the pieces of the lining to cut the fashion fabric, again with wide seam allowance.

Then comes basting them together. By hand.

But first I’ve got to lay down again. Such a drag.

here’s the picture of what you see on the right side once you rip the seam after you’ve marked it:
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finished: Anemone Dress

Nothing to help me finish a dress than plans to make a skirt. I really planned to blog each day this week and make a simple skirt! I read the instructions, fondled my fabric. And then somehow spend my sewing time finishing the dress I’ve been avoiding for weeks.

Meet my Anemone Dress:
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It’s a sheat dress, using my sloper as a pattern. I transformed the bust darts into princess lines. Only at the front though. And only after I tried it on for fit.

This is stretchy cotton fabric so I thought I might get away with zero ease. I did. (I started out with cutting the dress with plenty of ease, basting it together to check the fit and eventually it turned out zero ease was fine)

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The fabric is a first for me: cotton with a bit of elastaan/elastine. I bought it by accident in the fabric shop in the next town over. I went there to support a small shop and to feel the fabric before I bought it. And to celebrate me with linen and make a dress as explained in the Craftsy Course The Couture Dress by Susan Khalje.

As I was chattering about that it was made clear that that was an old fashioned approach, using an interlining ánd a lining. Why not use a modern fabric that behaves all by itself? It’s so much easier! Here, like this one. Which colour do you like?
A zipper to go with that. Thread in the right colour. Some bias band. There you go, have fun.

I fell into that trap. The one where you doubt yourself and your plans. Where you rely on the expert. Only to come home and find you’re left with more answers. Like:

Q: How to finish the seam allowance if there’s no interlining to stitch it to? (And no serger or locking machine or zig zag on my sewing machine or even pinking shears)

Q: What kind of stitch does stretchy fabric require?

Now, a month later, I am very pleased with the dress I finished today. But I had to steer my head in a whole other direction to work with this fabric. I wanted to focus on the shape but instead had to focus on the material. For this I studied online and asked my sewist friends questions. But I’m still a bit annoyed that I let myself be taken from the intentioned path.

A: The seam allowance I folded under and stitched. Pressed open and left them as be. Some parts I gave a whip stitch finish.

A: for the side seams: just a straight stitch. Make sure you don’t stretch the fabric while sewing, let the machine transport the fabric. Having an old fashioned treadle machine was an advantage: it already has the small hole in the footer nowadays used for silks. My machine won’t “eat” the fabric and will not pull it down into the underbelly of the machine.
For seams that need to remain stretchy: the catch stich.

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from the book Couture Sewing Techniques by Claire B Shaeffer, one of the best books out there. She not only shows how, she explains why. Which helped me to couple this stitch to this fabric.

I finished a lot of details by hand. The edges, the armholes, the hem, the splits. It’s ok. Handstitching is not that much of a job, it doesn’t take that long. 45 minutes for the hem. Take it outside, sit in the shade, enjoy a little calm.

Front panel folded down and stitched in place at the sides. Inside:
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Right side:
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The hem and neckline I folded under and sewed with the catch stitch, leaving small pricks of thread visible in the fabric, from the outside right side. With the wild print it’s ok.

Hem, catch stitch, from the inside and from the right side:
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neckline at the back:
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The inside of the dress is not very neat but the outside looks good and it wears well. That’s all I ask at the moment. Other people might find sheer glee at knowing their dress looks at good on the inside as it does on the outside but I am not there yet. I might never get there.
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Now let’s talk about the shape of things.
First of all, on the cloths hanger the dress doesn’t look very good. It’s crooked. You can see how one shoulder is not the mirror image of the other one:
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But on me it sits well:
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(if you would kindly ignore the fold in my waist and just concentrate on the shoulder and neckline)
That’s a difference between Ready To Wear (RTW) and hand tailored dresses, writes Claire B. Shaeffer. RTW looks good in the shop, tailored clothes look good on a person.

OK, now I am ready to talk about that fold of fabric in my side. It is there because when I stand up straight I stand up crooked. Yes. I am standing straight in all these pictures. I am a twisted kind of person, I curve naturally. I really thought and felt as if I was standing straight up.

This is me standing straight:
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SWOING! Would you believe it?! My one hip is higher, my one leg gets less weight, my shoulder compensates my being lifted. I should be called “Mrs. S”
(I wonder if this has to do with the knee surgery I had as a teen, for years I didn’t put weight on my left leg and still have to correct myself often and distribute weight to it. How very annoying! This way, I might grow into a twisted old lady.)
Without a mirror or these pictures I would not believed I was in fact standing not straight.

In the sloper there is a correction for the folds of extra fabric this creates. It’s both in the back and in the side:

I did not apply it in this dress because it has long princess lines and no horizontal cut at the waist where I could take out the extra fabric. I did baste in the side “thingy to take out the extra fabric” but it showed in the fabric print and just wasn’t nice. So that’s how I ended up with a dress with folds. It’s ok, I move a lot in dresses and it won’t notice much. But in a next dress I will certainly make a cut at the waist and take out some fabric. In the back at the very least.

From the side the extra fabric at the back shows very well:
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That hem looks good though!

A look at the front curviness from the side. The princess lines take care of that 32G beautifully:
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With room to breathe. I like breathing. And is that side seam acceptably straight?

I consider those folds the only thing “wrong” with this dress. There’s so much “Right” with this dress! In the back, at the top, the dress clings to my skin beautifully. No gap. Further down it follows the curve of my back. At the front there is no “side boob fabric” gaping. The skirt flares inward a bit below the hip, creating a flattering shape for my body type. The hem is fairly straight. All the things I wrote about in previous dresses are not problems here.
Yes, very pleased.

Another more twisted thing I noticed: I carry my right shoulder in front of my hip. My left is at the side. I twist my upper body to the left. You can see on pictures that my one hand is more turned inward than the other. Had I be wearing rings today you would have seen one on one hand but not on the other. Because again, I am standing straight:
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I’ll leave it for now I guess. If I learn to adjust my posture permanently I might have to make new slopers…

(still, I guess I better learn to get a better posture before I grow old and crooked and set in my ways. But for the time being I want to wear my handmade, adjusting for crookedness, dresses. They already make me sit up straight and breathe better. The twisted posture thing I’ll tackle when I enter the final third of my life, at age 80.)
(what? I’m growing to be a 120 years, don’t you?)

Sewing: the joy of hand stitching

see those little pecks in the lining of the back?
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That’s understitching, done by hand.
I can’t believe it but that was one of the loveliest times I had last night, sewing in a little understitching by hand.
It goes quite fast to my surprise. And there’s maximum control over fabric and thread. Sewing by hand: a lovely thing to do?

It prompted me to take on that other job that was still waiting: fixing the neck line of the pink flowery dress. It was all wonky and tilted because I put in front darts when tired and not smart enough to get a ruler.
Without unpicking the seam I folded a new line and pressed it and sewed it in place by hand. The new line is on your lieft (my right when wearing it):
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Folded it too much perhaps and now it’s not the same as the other side?
No. It was folded while I was wearing it and although it looks crooked in 2D it is actually in harmony in 3D. Or harmony-ish.

In the picture there’s also a little tell tale handstitching at the top of the centre back. I pulled on a wrong thread and the centre back seam came undone. So I stitched a little.
Also one side of the front might benefit from a little extra understitching…by hand.

Since I seem to love to stitch by hand.

Summerdress: final adjustments.

Joehoe, I’m back in the city near pins and sewing machine.

I’ve taken out a bit of the length in the back, at the (raised) waist seam. No more blousing effect there.
I’ve inserted small bustdarts at the armpit because there was loose fabric there. For this I had to loosen the lining including the understitching. This was ok and I felt easier loosening it in other places too.
That’s when I inserted some big darts in the front:
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it now lays flat. I will pick apart the whole stitching at the top of the frontpanel, cut a nicer line, seam lining and fashion fabric together again and topstitch it again.

In the sides there had to be a little bit of additional shaping. It was a fingers’ width I needed on both sides and only at my waist, not at my ribcage. On one side seam I used the sewing machine. On the other side I used the zipper. I handstitched the fabric and used it to add shaping.
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normal people might think I was just cross eyed when keeping the fabric in place but actually it was a bright eyed decision… Whether it’s a good one we’ll see when I wear this dress.

You might remember that I proudly used French seams on the skirt. I have now faced the problem of inserting a zipper is placed in a french seam:
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as I handstitched my way down the zipper I brought the two sides together, just below where the zip ends. I sewed it together, all four pieces (2 fashion fabric, 2 zipper tails)
I used what in knitting is called a mattress stitch.

Below that I sewed with my sewing machine, from the inside. I folded the two sides of the fashion fabric twice and stitched them together. The fraying ends are caught in the seam. It’s a Faux French Seam.
Where it transfers to the actual French seam I had nicked the fabric so it would open up and allow for folding the other way around.

in short: I fudged it untill it was secure.

Now:

  1. make the neck line in the front beautiful
  2. small additional adjustment at the side seam
  3. attach the lining to the dress around the midrif section
  4. hemming

all in all I can already tell you the fit is very good. It’s much better than in the previous post. When it’s all finished I’ll find someone to take pictures from me in my beautiful Summer Dress 🙂

 

PS what is the acceptable way of securing the loose threads from the sewing thread? 3 knots and weaving the end under doesn’t sound very ‘couture’ to me…

anybody knows? I’ve got lots of ends to secure, what with all the alterations.