Altering a linen top.

Bought a linen top that was ecoprinted by independent dyer Annie Leynen from FeltingVilt in Belgium. The garment original was a tunic from MEXX. It had some nice details but its shape was all wrong for me.
10
6

Wrong shape and awful open armhole:
5

Nice detail:
3

Here it is after I played around with it:

modified mexx top. eco printed.modified mexx top. eco printed.modified mexx top. eco printed.

I put in waist darts at the front, two at each side. Ending in tucks at the underbust, something I haven’t used before. I also cut off some of the length.
modified mexx top. eco printed.
modified mexx top. eco printed.

At the back I elongated the vertical darts and put in TWO horizontal darts to accommodate my sway back. One runs from side seam to side seam, the other just between the back darts. Now there’s no fabric folds anymore at the back, it lies smooth.

I put in a triangle at the armhole, using the cut off hem piece:
modified mexx top. eco printed.

I made some pleats to match the front detail and played around with the stitching so I didn’t have to tie to many loose ends:
modified mexx top. eco printed.
Nothing fancy on the inside, just fold under and stitch. I did secure the point at/to the side seam allowance.
modified mexx top. eco printed.

I should like to put in a little thingy at the shoulder band that catches the bra strap so it doesn’t come peeking. But I probably won’t because of priorities and limited time/energy.

I’m very happy with my new shirt, showing off that intriguing eco printed fabric. I love how the sewing thread and the buttons took up colour too.
Garment wise I like the front detail, with the pleats and the panel, as a means to address bust shaping. With my body shape that’s where designing starts: how to treat the underbust. Otherwise: potato sack.

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.
51wyjnjldbl-_sx401_bo1204203200_

But what I did do was buy a whole lot of new fabrics:

buit van Stoffenspektakel. vooral linnens

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

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 21.03.59

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:
buit van Stoffenspektakel. vooral linnens
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:
buit van Stoffenspektakel. vooral linnens
For a shirt and a skirt or trousers.

Some darker and stiffer fabrics:
buit van Stoffenspektakel. vooral linnens
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 some parts of the Birds in Shoes Shirt.

Collar.

Using this tutorial from Sewaholic. Excellent work and site.
sleeve sleevecap fit shirt arm hole
I used fusible interfacing on this one.

I made the mistake all novice sewers make:
dreint a collar
I clipped too close to the edge and/or used a pointy thing to try and make a nice point.

Next time I’ll employ one of the tricks I found on the web. One is using a surgical clamp to get a good grip on the point before turning it inside out.
The other one is this beauty, from Off the Cuff, a blog about expert shirt sewing by Pamely Emy:

using a temporarily thread to catch the point.

collar point technique by Pamela Emy

Off the Cuff is a great site with expert information on sewing dress shirts. I’m sorry mrs. Emy doesn’t blog anymore, due to health issues I believe. I hope she still sews and has many good days.

My collar point topstitched:
dreint a collar

Sleeves.

I inserted my Crazy Comfortable sleeve pattern. I now think that the reason they actually work so well is because they’re on the bias… not so much because of the crazy pattern (wide flat shoulder cap. I say “flat” but it’s actually concave.) Anyway. Sewed them in. Pressed good. Added a single needle top stitch to secure the seam.

Now pinking the left over edge:
Untitled

How are these seams finished on high end dress shirts? Surely not serged/overlocked. Felled seams probably. Ah yes, I’ve found some things on the net, one of them, again, an excellent instruction from the Off the Cuff blog.

I’ve now ordered the book on which Sewaholic based her collar-tutorial was: Shirtmaking: Developing Skills For Fine Sewing by David Page Coffin.

51wyjnjldbl-_sx401_bo1204203200_ I hope to learn much from it.

Zipper placket.
It’s not done, a zipper in a shirt. But my machine can’t make button holes and I don’t like to make them by hand. Not yet anyway. I’m sewing a zipper.

I’ve attached a separate placket for it. Did some folding to get the sequence right. The precise cutting I do was very helpful, I could just lay the edges against each other (“flush”?) and treat them as one.

First I attached the zipper to the front and the placket. Then I folded back the front and the placket and sewed a nice top stitch line. Which wrinkled as I progressed with the needle:

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Because you should always press. Duh.

After pressing it looked better and it sewed much better too:

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You could press the plackets first, to bring some idea of purpose into the band:
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Collar stand.
Upon fitting I saw how awful and weird the button plackets looked as they went up vertical above the zipper. Following the Centre Front line right up. Because that’s where all the buttons were supposed to go in the original pattern. I amended the pattern to not have overlapping plackets. But I didn’t amend it for height and it looks awful with the zipper not closing the gap all the way. (and you don’t want a zipper all the way to the top)

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I also found out that the collar stand I had cut didn’t fit the neck line anymore, it was too short. Don’t know how that happened as I followed the Knip pattern for the neck exactly because I hadn’t learned anything about necklines or collar (stands) yet.

I solved both by folding back the button (zipper) placket. Something else Not Done in sewing. It’s more of a dirty hack than anything else and I’m not proud. But it gets me a front that works and by now this shirt has become a wearable practise shirt so here goes:
Untitled
Fold away and topstitch in place. Awful. But functional.
Now I’ve got an acceptable shape at the front edges. (note to self: a next shirt with a zipper needs it to close a bit higher. About 5 cm.)

Now I could attach a collar stand that fits to that, I learned how to draw one at drafting lessons last Monday. No need though because the original collar stand now fits again, if I shape the rounded edges freehand. (Something else that’s going to get me in trouble. Symmetry is very important at this point of the body.)

Todays task is to finish those round edges of the collar stand and perhaps assemble the collar to it. Again using Sewaholic’s tutorials.

dreint a collar

I’ve trimmed the seams on the inside of the collar stand a bit. It was six layers thick and it will receive three more layers from the collar. That’s just too much difference from the single layer of fabric that’s the rest of the shirt.

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.
Untitled

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.
sleeve sleevecap fit shirt arm hole

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:

22121813150_a1259f05ed

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.
Untitled
Untitled

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:
Untitled
outside:
Untitled
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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A crazy comfortable sleeve in a small armhole.

I traced the weird thing I draped yesterday and cut a new sleeve from it. That’s one weird looking sleeve pattern:
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole
With the sideseams closed it is distorted:
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole

This is because I matched the points where the ends of the sleeve cap should meet each other, at the underarm. And sleeve seams are perpendicular to the vertical centre line running down from High Point (which is no longer the highest point in my sleeve cap). Width at biceps is 35 cm, at elbow 30 cm.

(I’ll have to do second trial after this one with horizontal lines running horizontal. Letting the guide line around the biceps meet itself at the seam. Or change the direction from the central vertical line, based on where the sleeve cap edges now meet. But first run this trial.)

Into the bodice and onto the mannequin. It fits into the armhole like a glove. It’s nice not having to ease in extra fabric. Still using lots of pins and sewing over them slowly.
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armholecrazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armholecrazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole

On me:
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armholecrazy comfortable sleeve in small armholecrazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole

Lots of crumpled fabric in the armpit. Uncomfortable. But very easy to lift my arm. The ease of wearing is amazing.

Front shows vertical line running down from High Point (shoulder) to the front. This sleeve is rotating around my arm:

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I pin away the extra fabric at the arm pit and mark where the biceps guide line now is. Also where the sleeve thinks the vertical line from High Point should run, where it to run straight down instead of coming to the front.

Picture of the sleeve cap with the pinned fabric, the new vertical line coming in diagonally and my biceps guide line which is half moon shaped. Crazy sleeve.

crazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole

Opening it up again and drafting a new cap sleeve based on the pinning. Take away fabric in the left “mouse ear”, the cap part that meets the arm hole at the front:

crazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole

I keep the rest the same. There’s the vertical guide line from High Point (HP) at a diagonal angle.

Trying to match the seam points of the sleeve cap for sewing the side seam:
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole

This will be sleeve one (1), based on the pinnings from the previous fit. Throwing grain and common sense into the wind.

I’ll make another one (2) based on the draft from the start but now with new sideseams based on how the new vertical line running from the Highest Point runs:

crazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole

Sleeve 2: I’ve cut fabric away at the left part of the sleeve, adding it to the right. So width of sleeve is 35 cm at (strange half moon shaped) biceps guide line and 30 cm at elbow guide line. At a right angle to the vertical guide line from HP. If this fits at all this pattern should be redrawn on a new piece of cloth, obeying the grain of the fabric.

Fitting:

Sleeve 2, it’s on my right:
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armholecrazy comfortable sleeve in small armholecrazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole

Sleeve 1, based on previous fit, it’s on my left:
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armholecrazy comfortable sleeve in small armholecrazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole

Crazy amount of movement possible! It doesn’t drag up the shirt. I like it!

Fitting conclusions:
Sleeve 2 sits awful. Lots of fabric in my arm pit yet still there’s tightness there. My wrist doesn’t level out.
Sleeve 1, distorted as it may be, actually sits really nice. So much movement possible!
Still a few tweaks needed though. (is there more ease because it’s a bit on the bias?)

I’ll cut a new sleeve, on the grain, and put it in the bodice of my fashion fabric shirt. Just cleaning up the lines a bit, having high point and its line in check with grain.
The little tweaks I had to do where in the sleeve cap (just a little less drama in the wave at the front and just a little less flair near the end point back). They cause the perimeter of the sleeve cap to be the exact dimension of the arm hole. 20 cm from front to High Point, 21,6 cm from High Point to back.
This fills me with excitement! This sleeve will fit this arm hole perfectly. Have I drafted a sleeve that, while looking ridiculous, might work?

I’m sewing up my new version into the fashion shirt. (My muslin has been so tortured that it won’t hold another sleeve.)

Premature conclusions:
1. I may have DRAPED a sleeve, not drafted on. This method may work for me.
2. I may have forced myself into this ridiculous need because my arm hole is a bit weird (too tight).

Last fit, on the fashion fabric: nice. I can rotate my arm all around without distorting the bodice fabric.

crazy comfortable sleeve in small armholecrazy comfortable sleeve in small armholecrazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole

Needs less width on the biceps. I can live with a sleeve like this and be seen in public. I’m sure sewists will cringe when they see how my seam rotates around the sleeve.

Ideas for next time: lower the arm hole at the underside with 0,5 cm. Also 0,5 cm more inward at the front. I need a little more space to tuck all the sleeve folds away.

Last play for the day: just a little more cutting and pasting at that ridiculous shape. Try and put it into a grain grid.
3 versions of the same sleeve.
1. the sleeve I found, with the rotating sleeve seam.
2. the same but straight on the grain. Versie “A”
3. version “B” that has everything transferred onto a proper grain grid.

The found pattern, crazy and comfortable:
crazy sleeve pattern with maximum wearing comfort

Version A = previous version but cut on grain:
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole

Version B, trying to match the side seams in length. Having som sort of straight line going from sleeve cap to wrist; cleaning up more lines:

crazy comfortable sleeve in small armholecrazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole

end result version B::
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole

What do yo know, version B doesn’t look that unlike a conventional sleeve pattern after all. A sleeve block with a fairly squarish sleeve cap. (Back is left, Front is at the right of the picture).

Will have to sew these three up and try them for (final) fit. And then dare to sport crazy sleeves on my fabric shirt.

 

 

some residual notes in dutch for me:
3 versies:
1- m’n gevonden vorm. Met verdraaide achternaad. “versie krulletje”
2. deze vorm maar dan recht op de grain met z’n naad en de voornaad reechtgemaat van pols naar oksel. Wat weggeknipt is is aan de zijkant/andere naad erbij geleged en een beetje opgeschoond en ervoor gezorgd dat beide naden 59 cm lang zijn, net als de rechtgeknipte naad. “versie A”
3 “versie B” heeft de HP-polslijn recht op de grain liggen en een grid dat de grain volgt. Het voorpunt v d oksel is recht naar beneden/de pols geknipt en aan de achternaad is ruimte bijgemaakt zodat de ellebeoog 30 cm breedte krijgt en de pols 25 cm. Dit is een papieren oplossing waarvan je nog maar moet zien of het in 3D mooi wordt.

tackling the Bleuet Dress collar.

Some people have commented that the collar of Bleuet Dress doesn’t make sense to them. The steps of the process seem weird.
To me they seemed fine and they resulted in a good collar.

Try out Bleuet Dress

What did make me wonder is the amount of fabric I had to trim away. And how the two collar pieces do not seem to fit well together.
I put this down to me being an inexperienced collar sewist. Although they were the first thing I studied when I began sewing.

Here’s the collar of my try out Bleuet Dress. I followed the pattern to the letter. The cutting was precise. Interfused lining was used. Seam allowance was notched:
Untitled

Here now follows the weird bit.
I’ve laid down the pattern pieces exactly like the pattern specifies, as you can see. But mine do not look one bit like the drawing. The inner piece will not “mount” the RS out piece, not while I honour the pattern markings anyway (indicated by three pins):


It seems like these pieces are cut out wrong. But they are not.
It seems like they are placed wrong. But they are not. The top of the inside out piece needs to just touch the upper curve of the larger piece.

Here are the two paper pieces, you can see that the two do not share the same curve at the top. I do not see how these two can be placed like the pattern leaflet says without losing a lot of the RS out piece in piece “11” and thereby construction. Not to mention not following the markings on the paper:

I must be doing something wrong but I have no idea what. This pattern is a good pattern. Why do these pieces not fit logically together?

In the end I decided to be let by my dress. Because “piece 11” did not capture the whole of my neckline I put a piece of fabric in it, to lengthen it. (must have done something wrong at the neckline too, but I doubt it was sewing just besides the sewing line because it was a whopping 4 cm that needed to be added):

I drew a neckline of appropriate length and a curve that captured both pieces of the collar. I “dry sewed” it over and over again to make sure it worked and fitted. When I was sure I understood how this collar is supposed to work I sewed it and trimmed it (with a knot in my stomach, look at how much is discarded):

Sewn together I did have a collar but it might be a different one than the pattern specifies.

Any thoughts on why the paper pieces have such different curves? I’d really like to hear.
I assume I position them wrong but I just cannot figure out how.

UPDATE: someone explained to me that you’re supposed to make the different curves work together. Pretty much like you make a sleeve fit in an armhole even if it doesn’t when lying flat. Pretty much how you make princess seams fit together, even if they don’t lying flat. Sewing is 3D, baby.
Fit them together, stretch the one, curve the other. Pin them and make them fit.
It will result in a collar with enhanced construction that will sit nice.

I will try next time and that time will be soon because today I’m buying fabric for a real Bleuet. I’ll have a change to dance with the collar again soon. I’ll be keeping an eye sideways on the way Sewaholic sewed her collar to make sure I understand all.

Try out Bleuet Dress

Gearing up for Sew the Perfect Fit, Vogue 8766. Choosing size.

It’s time to make a new shell for my new body. Most of my previous muslins and body blocks and pattern alterations are useless since I did the Atlas Profilax treatment which got rid of the curl in my body and brought my shoulders level and my hips too:

atlasprofilax result atlas profilax before after

I need a new basic pattern to work from.

In the past half year I got a good basic pattern for my skirts.  It’s based on video’s by Corinne Leigh from Craftovision and it works for me.

I’ve been making skirts from it the past few months.

But there’s still the upper body…

Some people are Pear shaped, other people are gracious Goblets. Me, I’m a Door With Two Melons in a Crocheted Grocery Bag Hanging from it.

pic by Marta Rostek

Flat, square and wearing big breasts high up. How do you do.

When I was a twisted door I did the body block measuring and tailoring and it was educational and gave me my body blocks. But ever since my frame changed I haven’t mustered up the courage to go through that whole process again.

Then the chance to purchase Craftsty course Sew the Perfect Fit came along. In it you alter a muslin to fit you, a real woman, perfect. I thought it ‘d be a good place to start anew. And it came with a free pattern: Vogue 8766:

Line Art

Princess lines, just what I want!

And go on, be brave, do sleeves!

I had to order quick and I opted for the sizes 6-12 because the patterns I bought previously were so ridiculously large.
But now I’m doubting my choice…. my measurements clearly state I should be looking at size 14 or 16. I wish I ordered the size 12-20 instead. I missed that that one had 12 in it also…

my upperbust = 36″
(bust 38″)
waist 30″
hip 38″

Vogue’s sizing charts:

in inches:

SIZE
4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26
Bust  29 1/2 30 1/2 31 1/2 32 1/2 34 36 38 40 42 44 46  48
Chest  27 1/2 28 1/2 29 1/2 30 1/2 32 34 36 38 40 42 44  46
Waist  22 23 24 25 26 1/2 28 30 32 34 37 39  41 1/2
Hip  31 1/2 32 1/2 33 1/2 34 1/2 36 38 40 42 44 46 48  50
Back Waist Length  15 1/4 15 1/2 15 3/4 16 16 1/4 16 1/2 16 3/4  17 17 1/4 17 1/2 17 3/4  18
Petite Back Waist Length 14 14 1/4 14 3/4 15 15 1/4 15 1/2 15 3/4 16 16 1/4 16 1/2 16 3/4 17

Yes. Should definitely have ordered the size 16…

Should I take action? Order the bigger size too? Bug Craftsy Customer Service to see if they can change the order? Hope that I can alter the smaller size myself?

I’ve been telling myself there’s solace in the wearing ease that is added to these patterns. The pattern state it’s “fitted” and Vogue’s wearing ease chart tells me they’ll add 3 – 4″ to any dress pattern with that word “fitted”:

Misses’ Ease Allowances
Bust Area Hip Area
Silhouette Dresses, Blouses, Shirts, Tops, Vests Jackets Coats Skirts, Pants, Shorts, Culottes
Lined or Unlined
Close Fitting 0 – 2 78 not applicable 0 – 1 7/8″
Fitted 3 – 4″ 3 3/4 – 4 1/4″ 5 1/4 – 6 3/4″ 2 – 3″
Semi-Fitted 4 1/8 – 5″ 4 3/8 – 5 3/4″ 6 7/8 – 8″ 3 1/8 – 4″
Loose Fitting 5 1/8 – 8″ 5 7/8 – 10″ 8 1/8 – 12″ 4 1/8 – 6″
Very Loose Fitting over 8″ over 10″ over 12″ over 6″

will it be enough? 4″/ 10 cm of ease is a lot! But I’ve been known to underestimate its importance, I’m forever knitting garments too tight. And knitting stretches!

Oh, now I remember that size, wearing ease and actual pattern measurements tripped me up before with Vogue.

Back in 2013 I found quite some discrepencies between stated size 12 and actual size 12 of the pattern parts in Vogue 8648:

I remember I had to take out nearly 4″ to make that dress fit me and I cut a size 16 then, based on Vogue’s sizing chart. The shoulders set appallingly wide. I was swimming in the garment. I was quite annoyed that I had to cut and throw away so much of the good fabric. Look how wide the shoulders were placed, the very part a whole dress gets its posture from:

Ridiculous. Back then I had to take out a lot of fabric and practically graded my size 16 down to a size 12:

Ah yes, now I remember.

One of my conclusions after all the fitting and altering back then even read: “Should try this is size 12 all around, no extra fabric needed at the bust. Even go down to 10. Hips at size 8.

That’s a relief! I feel better now. Added wearing ease to Vogue patterns is my friend. I’ll just wait until the pattern arrives and then we go play 🙂

“Note on V8766: all garments are cut on the crosswise grain of fabric.”
oh-oh…

… will this mean I won’t get a versatile upper body muslin out of this? For fabrics cut on the grain?

Sewing on a button

Marked the place with a yellow pin. Put a match there to get some distance so the elastic thread has a place to lock.
On the back there’s another button so there’s a bit of counter surface.
The silk is pongé, a silk that doesn’t like to be sewn or pulled at. I tried to reinforce the whole waste band with a bias band.
Let’s hope this works.

The ultimate trick is to repeat this process one more time. I’m using double thread, I’ll now cut and knot and sew in threads. Then I’ll repeat the whole process, with another piece of double thread.
I learned this from Crazy Aunt Purl.

The fabric is handdyed pongé or pongee (for people who cannot find the ´). I believe it’s also called Habotai. a base layer for a skirt that’s match and mix. It has this silk layer and various other layers. Handdyed chiffon; felted wool on chiffon and stretchy mesh. It’s for a Spring Fairy combination.
Quite sewn by the seat of my pants.
I’ll show more soon. (and have hopes to finish the catch stitching on the Jacquard dress! Boy, did I learn my lesson there.)

not a dress: Planning a Faraday Cage

It has been a long time desire of mine to make a Faraday cage. Just a cage to rest in and be free from all kinds of wifi networks and telephone networks, just for a little while. Allow my body to rest and reset.

Years ago I made a kayak by hand. It consisted of carved wooden sticks, bend with steam, and canvas pulled tight over it. All finished with watertight seam (fell seams of some sort).
It was made in the Inuit tradition as taught by Anders Thygesen, in Norway.


Ever since I had in mind to make a cage like that: a wooden frame with shielding fabric around it. An organic formed cage to rest in. To sleep in.
Back then I searched for these fabrics but they were too expensive and only available for industrial users. A few years have gone by and now these materials are retailed to costumers. But I didn’t know this. I did come to talk about this dream with two new friends of mine, Pimmie and Bloempje, who have plans to spin metal yarn and knit the fabric themselves.

My desire rekindled, I made a solid resolution: 2014 was going to be the year I was making myself a Faraday cage! I had no idea how but I’ve noticed that when I make resolutions like that somehow things fall into place.

Still I was utterly surprised when I met a wonderful lady who has shielded her whole house and her body because she is VERY sensitive. She showed me her travel-cage, for overnight stays (such as the wool spin retreat where Pimmie and I went and met her). She let me experience the cage. It was ok. A bit warm. I didn’t feel much relief of wifi but we talked and I learned a lot about shielding.
Then I left the cage.

My body bucked at the new exposure to the wifi (which was very strong at the retreat). I’ve never experienced something like that and I didn’t expect to. My hands became sweaty and red -a typical vegetal reaction of my body- and somehow my head clamped up, somewhere behind my jaws. Of course my blood pressure plummeted and I had to flop in a chair.
The Faraday lady was not surprised one bit!

Anyway. We talked and she gave me LOTS of information and she showed me the websites of retailers. I was so glad. My resolution was looking good to transfer into reality!

Back home, when I lay awake at night, I’ve started to ponder my cage. Dimensions. The experience I had and what to learn from it. The fabric I had tested and its characteristics. How to make a construction so it wouldn’t be too claustrophobic. (The right fabric is lined with silver which isn’t exactly transparent and doesn’t allow much fresh air trough)
And there’s the problem of my cat who insists on sleeping on my bed covers and greeting me at my pillow twice a night. Her claws could easily tear the fabric and a tear in a Faraday cage is much worse than a whole.

So I was just mentally playing with this puzzle, hour after hour. Without any hurry or worry because New Year is still a long way away and this is an interesting case.

Then I remembered I once bought some kind of collapsable playhouse…
Meant to sit in on Summer evenings in the woods here near the cabin, with a musquito net over it. Which of course I’ve never done.

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This could work as the frame of my cage! Cut away the fabric, use the structure. But it is a bit big. The fabric to cover it with is very expensive (about $117 for 3 yards)(86 euro per meter) so any yard I can save is money for free chocolate.

Well, this evening I’m playing some more … laying in it. Measuring it. Thinking out ways to cut the fabric as sparsely as possible. Remembering to allow for folded seams. Remembering how overlap to make a good cage. Thinking of combining it with a conducting floor mat of cheaper material. How to ground the thing. It’s a nice puzzle to play with for a sewist engineer!

And you know how playing goes in my house:

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Just a few more days and I probably have this puzzle solved.
Then I’m ordering the fabric. Which could mean that a early as next week I could have some crude Faraday cage to rest in!
And one 2014 New Years resolution to cross off!

finished: working skirt

I’ve brought the good sewing machine from the city to the cabin. It sews like a dream. Tension is perfect. Still a foot threadle, ofcourse.
As I somehow dread to continue with the toile for the basic sheat dress which will give me at least five dresses for the winter season…. I made a bag and a new working skirt.

My skirt is from sturdy cotton (“keper katoen”, a sturdy twill cotton) and I made one five years ago which I still use. But it’s at its end now. Full of stains and ‘cat love’ (she claws at it with her nails when she’s happy. It’s ok, it’s a working skirt. I usually wear a half woolen tight under it and her sharp claws don’t hurt me. That’s how sturdy this cotton is.)

I used my working dress as a template for the new one. I had some of the same fabric left.
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Can you believe that used to be the same colour?

The top has a red ribbon and I just went over it a few times with the machine. I really had no idea back then. The center back zipper is curved outward here but when I wear it it curves inward, following my own curves.
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Here’s a look at the inside. Even though I did not secure the seams they did not ravel irritably.
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I cut around it, allowing a seam allowance. On the left the zipper I’m going to use. It is a contrasting colour but I’d rather use a zipper I have than a zipper of wrong length or having to go out and get one. Often I salvage zippers from garments that I throw out. Most of the garments I throw out cannot be reused, they are dead.

Back then I did not know about bias. That is why this time the skirt cannot be cut in one piece.
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That’s ok. I tried it on for difference in size and I actually don’t need the wide skirt my former working skirt has. I can easily use the less wider skirt.

Here’s the difference in width. And a sneak peak in how I finished my seams all those years ago:
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For the hem I just folded it over and then sewed a red ribbon to it.

This skirt has seen some serious wear! I felted dirty sheep fleeces in it; sawed trees in it; sat on all kinds of surfaces with it. I never once felt bothered by making it dirty or exposing it to all kinds of abuse. This is a working skirt. I love it. I also love that I gave it a red ribbon, it is a small everyday pleasure.

It’s only this week that this skirt has truely met its end. I was felting bright pink en bright orange wool and the dye was not properly set. It made stains on my skirt.

Well, having cut the skirt I sewed shut the center back seam. I clipped the waistband so it would fold over nice. Then I put in the zipper.
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I used the special zipper foot my machine has. Wonderful tool.
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I took special care to finish everything neatly.

The waist band I folded over, to the right side. I then masked the raw edge with a nice woven band.
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This band comes from Marken, a Dutch town known for its historic dress. Just like Volendam. Only different. I bought it there, on a day celebrating its traditions.
This band is used for people who have lost a distant relative. It’s colours are half dark, indicating ‘half mourning’.

I finished it neatly. Now all that was left was to finish the hem. But first: try it on.

It didn’t fit….

With all the years of wearing and perhaps being cut on the bias, the fabric must have been distorted. The center back was way too high. The zipper bulked up in the small of my back, it looked awful!

The zipper had to come out and the waistband had to be cut…
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On the right you can see how neatly I had worked *snif*
On the left you see how much debris tearing out a seam leaves. I decided to pluck away all those little threads. Because tearing out is bad enough, I don’t need all those little reminders making my work surface look cluttered.

This is how much I had to cut away to have the waist band follow my waist!
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The pins show the line. The whole dress is laying flat, you can see the front band peaking through the zipper slit. That center back is ridiculously high! No wonder it sat all weird and bulgy.
At least I feel somewhat good reworking this without all the little cut threads from the previous photo still hanging around. Like a fresh, new slate.

I cut the fabric, reworked the zipper and the seam and the edge and the ribbon. This time there was not enough ribbon but this is a working skirt, the top will be hidden under my shirts so I don’t mind how this looks. The ribbon is mostly for my own pleasure. A little wave hello when I put on the skirt. And some reinforcement for this somewhat stretchy fabric.
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The zipper looks alright.

The inside. At least the back is now in line with the front (a little nudge of it is peaking out).
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It has more loose threads hanging now as before. That’s a nuisance as they get caught in the zipper. I could thread them through the fabric and hide them. But I don’t feel like finishing that task at the moment.

I worked the hem as follows: fold over to the right side and sew in place with biastape. All in one go:
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Sew a line at the top of the biasband. Finished.
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The inside. Not very pretty but functional enough.
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I expect many years pleasure from this skirt.