altering a suit and becoming The Good Wife

Bought this suit, to look more expert less adorable in the court room:

pak3

I spend yesterday evening and today altering it. Shortening sleeves and pants, adding two buttons, prying loose the lining and taking in the darts in the back a good 2 cm. Sway back.

The raspberry blouse has got a little hack at the front neck, to make it less unruly.

pak1

Can’t move my arms though, both shirt and jacket have arm holes that are not close to the body.

Looking good.

pak2

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Pink trees dress shirt (French cuffs)

cufflink-green

Range of arm motion with this Bunka armhole and sleeve:
arm movement freedom drafted armhole sleeve Bunka dress form sewingarm movement freedom drafted armhole sleeve Bunka dress form sewing

A sleeve placket is called a “mouwsplit” in Dutch. Sew right side to wrong side, with “the house” to the shorter side/back side of the sleeve.
naaiproject sewing shirt rozeboompjes roze boompjes stof
here are some tutorials I could watch:

  • I wanted to sew this dress shirt like this:
    naaiproject sewing shirt rozeboompjes roze boompjes stof
    but then the sleeve seam needs to be right at the side seam. Mine is rotated, because it’s a Bunka sleeve and Bunka arm hole. Pity, now I cannot finish the shoulderseam the way I wanted to.
    Too much fabric on one side, not enough on the other:
    naaiproject sewing shirt rozeboompjes roze boompjes stofnaaiproject sewing shirt rozeboompjes roze boompjes stof

    A separate problem: I didn’t walk the pattern… The front panels are less wide than the back panels. The princess seams should meet each other precisely so that’s where I match them —> I should scoop out the back neck a bit and make it meet the front panel:
    naaiproject sewing shirt rozeboompjes roze boompjes stof

    The collar has the upper side reinforces (Vlieseline G700, meaning woven and more firm than 701) and the under collar a bit stretched, just like mr. Page Coffin suggests. Only 4 mm does the trick. Also done on the short sides.
    naaiproject sewing shirt rozeboompjes roze boompjes stof

    French cuffs:
    The part that doesn’t touch the wrists has interfacing on it. Vlieseline G700 which is a woven multi-purpose interfacing for ironing on. It’s more sturdy than what’s normally used for light cotton garments.
    I paid attention to the direction of the trees, when the cuffs are folded and worn.

    I attached on the WS of the sleeve, then flipped them over and pressed the SA firmly and neatly on the RS. Its edge just covered the sewing line.
    Then I tacked it down temporarily by a line of the broadest stitches my machine can do:
    roze boompjesbloes French cuffs sewing Now it will stay put while I topstitch neatly around the cuff: roze boompjesbloes French cuffs sewing
    roze boompjesbloes French cuffs sewing

    I hope the holes will disappear when the garment is washed for the first time. Inside: the topstitched line is just above the construction line. This is always a problem for me, I feel there is something to achieved here but I cannot wrap my head around it. roze boompjesbloes French cuffs sewing

    This is the top part of the French cuff, the part that folds over when they are being worn. I put the “turn of cloth” on this side so when worn it will not be visible:
    roze boompjesbloes French cuffs sewing

    Collar stand.
    Figuring out the right size this one is about 6 cm too long. The shape of the ends is also very different from the usual shape. My tiny neck gets a fitted collar stand and a collar that starts right at CF. No round shape needed. I wonder how it will look once finished. How it will wear.

    roze boompjesbloes collarstand well fitted dress shirt for a woman

    Finished.
    tailored ladies dress shirt sewing french cuffs pink trees fabric finishedtailored ladies dress shirt sewing french cuffs pink trees fabric finished
    I’ll be making these changes to the pattern:

    • spread the collar.
    • shorten the sleeve split, it’s up to my elbow now

    It fits very close at my bust and collar bones and shoulder seam. I cannot see if this is from the raised front neck line or perhaps the way I cut and sew this particular shirt. Will have to sew another one.

    Will walk the pattern before I do so.

Experiment: dress with continuous hem.

Say you have a fabric with a continuous line of cars. And you have a dress pattern with multiple panels but because you lack hips or a butt all seams are pretty much straight down from the hip line.
Could you line up the panels and cut the dress in one continuous pattern?
naailes experiment jurk uit 1 stuk canvas autojurk

I asked my sewing teacher and she laughed out loud and then she looked at me strange and then she went to make us a cup of tea and when she came back she had a plan and we had fun pouring over a piece of trial canvas that I brought. End result first: naailes experiment jurk uit 1 stuk canvas autojurk

You can’t just lay down the pieces next to each other, that would add all the seam allowance (SA) to the circumference of the dress. So you’ve gotta be smart.
You also have to think about how you would treat where the fabric transitions from one piece to two pieces seamed together.
Thirdly my teacher came up with the idea of connecting the panels at the top, where you would otherwise sew them together, and treat the seam between them as a dart.

This is the line where the hips are. The SA of 1 cm should be sewn everywhere or this dress will be too floppy.
naailes experiment jurk uit 1 stuk canvas autojurk

We connected the front side panel and the front side side panel. The “hole” will be a dart now. I am anxious what this will do for fit. This pattern fits so well and precise. naailes experiment jurk uit 1 stuk canvas autojurk

We did the same at the back panels:
naailes experiment jurk uit 1 stuk canvas autojurk

Copying the darts onto the fabric and also to the other side. Mark with pins and draw on the other side. Work one dart at the time so you won’t confuse yourself with pins on the under side:

naailes experiment jurk uit 1 stuk canvas autojurknaailes experiment jurk uit 1 stuk canvas autojurknaailes experiment jurk uit 1 stuk canvas autojurk
Working with this chalk makes broader lines than I like, because I pay attention to every millimeter. I should ease up, this fabric is on the sturdy side, it needs some millimeters for turn of cloth and the like.

Cutting!
naailes experiment jurk uit 1 stuk canvas autojurk

Cut:
naailes experiment jurk uit 1 stuk canvas autojurk
From top to bottom: frontpanel on the fold, side panels but only the parts with the pocket, to the left of them the upper side of these panels (they will connect in the pocket), side back panels, back panels which will have a zipper.

One piece:
naailes experiment jurk uit 1 stuk canvas autojurk

Next: reinforce neck line so it won’t stretch during handling. Sew in darts. Attach loose panels onto pocket parts. Add facing in neckline and arm holes.

Continuing next Wednesday.

Bunka block: damselfly blouse

damselfly blouse sewing libellenbloes naaiendamselfly blouse sewing libellenbloes naaien

Bunka is a way of pattern drafting in Japan. They use a different body shape and it fits my body way better than the traditional Western way of pattern drafting. The arm hole makes more sense, as The Fashion Incubator shows here .

With help of some internet research I drew a Bunka block for my arm hole and a Bunka sleeve. I experimented a bit and this is the sleeve I ended up with, put in my damselfly blouse.

I want a sleeve I can move in. Ooh, just found this very interesting blog post: http://overflowingstash.com/2014/07/07/fitted-sleeve-sloper-part-2-built-in-gusset/

I have arrived at the same sleeve a flamenco dancer uses: http://www.flamencodressmaking.com/2010/12/how-to-sew-sleeves-that-let-you-move/

It is placed at a right angle from the bodice, not at a 45 degrees angle. It has a lower shoulder cap, just like men dress shirts have. It can have a gusset at the arm pit for extra wearing ease. Having the arm hole fit close to the body.

The rest of the blouse fits well too. Need a bit more concentration when sewing the princess lines though. Back and front have some folds.

damselfly blouse sewing libellenbloes naaiendamselfly blouse sewing libellenbloes naaiendamselfly blouse sewing libellenbloes naaien

Bunka form has an extra princess seam in the front, this fits my curves even better. I wonder if I can incorporate where it hits the arm hole into the front line of the arm hole. Pretty much like this gent’s shirt looks.

I still have a steep bend in the arm hole, due to a secondary bust dart most people with small frames and large bust need there.

Otherwise: nice fit. I can move, I can breathe. Better collar too.

damselfly blouse sewing libellenbloes naaien

needle case from scrap fabric

With this new machine it’s so easy to thread the needle, sew a seam and cut the thread. I’m playing around making fabric out of scraps and trying to sew a needle case. It’s a try out for a swap on Ravelry, at the Dutch Karma Swap Group.

I came across a marvelous blog which promotes playing with fabric and the sewing machine: 15minutesplay.com
So that’s what I did, early this morning, just 15 minutes of playing with scraps I took from the bin.

scrap fabric quilt 15minutesofplay indigo dyed linnen
Wonderful! I’ve never done a thing like this. Nothing remotely “quilt-y”. I like doing this! It’s not very neat but I was assured on the blog that it didn’t need to be. It’s bound to neaten up a but when pressed with the iron, these seams were pressed open with fingers.

The fabric is indigo dyed linen. It was dyed during a workshop from Wolop.nl and I’m using the fabrics for a fitted skirt at the moment.

Now I’m looking to use this little craze scrappy fabric as a front for a needle book for myself. Using this tutorial from Instructables.com for the general idea: http://www.instructables.com/id/how-to-sew-a-needle-book/ and glancing at these two for binding the edges or making them beautiful with piping. Both are from So Sew Easy which seems to be another site that promotes the fun and the skills in sewing.

Binding edges tutorial

Piping tutorial

I’ll update this page as I progress.

I’ve got the shell fabric, the batting and the lining (plain linen):

I sew in the wrong order and have caught the batting in between the right sided fabrics, in the small stitch that I used for this seam:

I turn the project right side out anyways. The batting is not caught everywhere, I had cut it a bit smaller than the fabric. I’ll try and rip or cut it free:

sewing a needle case

Reasonable succes. The edges are a bit “hairy” here and there but I can live with it. Rather than ripping the fine stitches seam.

Topstitching with a longer stitch. I chose a pale grey instead of the white working thread, just so it would not demand too much attention.

Oh. I forgot to add the closure elastic when I sewed the layers together. Have to think up another closure.

I’ve got some cotton that was dyed when we were dyeing the indigo. We were doing shibori and that requires thread. I’ll use that and make a braid:

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.

Wrong shape and awful open armhole:

Nice detail:

Here it is after I played around with it:

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.

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:

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:

Nothing fancy on the inside, just fold under and stitch. I did secure the point at/to the side seam allowance.

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.

nice printed fabric:

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:
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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.
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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.
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.
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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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