Jacquard Dress: pressing seams

The long seams I basted I have now sewn. Before focussing on details such as fitting at the top, shoulders, sleeves (?) and hem I will finish the seams. Because it builds confidence and gives a sense of getting things done.

The seams are quite rough. With big irregular allowances and fraying at the edges. Susan Khaljé knows just what to do: sandwich pressing, pressing, trimming and overcasting. This is Lesson 9 of The Couture Dress on Craftsy.

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Because I’m in the city which has an ironing board but no iron I decided to buy a second iron. Not a heavy duty things like the Official Ironing Iron I have (at the cabin, without a board) but a small, handy thingy. Just prefect for seams, not so handy for big sheets of fabric.

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It’s a 10 euro steam iron from the HEMA. It fits very well in my hand. I like it. It only has 1200 Watt and I kept an eye open to see if this would give enough heat. It does.

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So I pressed my seams. First sandwich: press the seams without opening them. From both sides. Then open and press it open. All the while using a bit of steam. Pressing is always with steam.

I used a rolled up towel to press the curves.

Then I trimmed the seam allowances. I plan to catch stitch the edges later on, attaching them to the lining.

Because I had to switch around the pattern pieces there is one place where the seam is dangerously close to the edge of the lining. I have marked it with a ‘red cross of pins’ so I can give it some extra TLC before finishing the seam.
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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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Couture Dress: fitting the muslin

I’ve fitted the muslin a couple of times. Made some changes in between. Fitted it again. Changed things. Fitted it some more. Laid it on a chair for a couple of weeks.
That’s a trusted way of proving sewing work, didn’t you know? It’s like good wine or bread dough, it has to have some time to make up its mind. * see foot note

The fitting is done. Now it’s time to take the muslin apart. I had one hour before reclining to the couch again (from where I’m writing you this)

Taking apart the muslin really is just a bit of work. The important thing is to carefully note all the changes you make. I used a green pen to draw the new sewing lines before taking them apart. Then, as soon as a seam was gone, I made sure to remove the stitching lines in black that were no longer relevant. They’d been replace by green pen lines in places.
If I don’t make very clear to myself which lines are the right ones I’ll go doubting further along in the process. Or worse: try and be smart(er).

Marking the new seam with green pen, before and after ripping the seam:
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Before doing anything else: ripping out the obsolete black lines:
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I am marking the new sewing lines on both sides of the fabric. I don’t know yet which side I’ll use as a template. Better be safe.
To mark a line on the right side of the fabric where you cannot see the seam I use this technique:
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I’ve made small stripes across the seam, marking the fabric on both sides of it. (I’ll now flip over the fabric and trace the seam on the wrong side, on both pieces of fabric. This is easy.)
When I rip the seam the small marks will still be there when I fold open the fabric (and a small line of puncture dots. But don’t be fooled, I’ve resewn many seams while adjusting this muslin and I’ll easily loose track of which puncture dots are the line I want to mark)
The line I want will be where the small stripes have a sharp break.

I’d show you more clearly what I mean but it’s couchy time now… perhaps I have another hour tomorrow.

footnote:

Here’s what really caused me to take so much time off sewing:

it was a lot of work fitting and changing the muslin, I was loosing my motivation a bit. So I sewed that bag and that skirt in between, that was fun!

In the mean time I’d been on holiday and had to recuperate from that for a couple of weeks. Meaning I couldn’t sit up long enough to sew or stand long enough to fit properly. I did a bit here and there, trying to leave myself good notes. But that didn’t work and every time I took up the muslin I had to fit it first again to understand what I was talking about.

Then, when I was a bit better I wore my working skirt for the first time, it was a Sunday morning. Suddenly a big dog came onto our terrain and chased our cat high up in a tree. I had to run outside and zipped up the skirt in a hurry, breaking the zipper in the process. The dog then jumped into our pond but came running when I bellowed for it. It pranced beside me to its owner, all the while streaking me with dirt and water.
Then we had to talk the cat down who was in shock. That’s when my broken, filthy skirt fell down to my ankles.

That’s when I lost the will to sew for a couple of weeks… Add another episode or two where my health took a blow and demanded some recuperation time en here we are, months along before I finally got my hands on the Couture Dress again.

But now I’m playing again! As soon as I have the chance I’ll work on it some more. I decided to make a practice dress first, without lining. Just so I have something to wear and something to play with. I’m a bit afraid to cut into the gnome fabric. First I want to get the pattern right.
I’m looking forward to playing and making a practice dress.

Gnomes in progress: insecurities

– I ironed the cotton. Ready to cut my muslin now.

– figured out the ease from this previous post. I’ll do 2,5cm on the waist, 5 cm on the hip and 7,5 cm on the bust but will cut wider so it may even end up with up to 7 cm around the hip. I want to wear this dress over a longsleeve and tights so I may add a little bit of extra ease. However, I wore the Anemone Dress today, it has no ease, and it was too loose around the hips. Apart from when I sat down, then it was good. So I guess minimum ease works for me.

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– figured out how to adjust for the extra fabric to be taken out at the side and back. I cannot make the taille detail less high, I think it has to come out from the bodice parts and the skirt part. Probably divide between the two. Perhaps sneak in a little bit of decrease in height into the waist band.

– before cutting: insert vent instead of slit in the skirt

– watch the video course on crafsty.com by Susan Khalje and follow the steps.

Then I got really insecure….  my body sloper is not very good I think. It fits well but sections may not be straight. Not if I have fitted it all by myself. Fitting should be done by someone else.

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I put the waistline of Vogue on the waistline of my sloper and the apex on the apex. It seems I should make the waist band less high…

Then I really had my doubts about the paper I cut. I cut without ease and wanted to add the ease whilst transferring it to the muslin. This is difficult. So I threw away to papers and redrew the pieces onto another piece of tracing paper.

Then I got insecure because my pieces are not very well balanced. Although the princess lines run right through the apex I fear the mid block section will not appear of equal width on both sides of the Centre Front.

Then I fot the papers from the waste basket. If I were to buy another piece of stretchy cotton I could use them to make another sheath dress….

Then I laid the pattern pieces of Vogue 8648 on top of my pieces. I grew very insecure. These pieces had their left and right mirrored, they would be of equal width, But there was so much more ease on these than I planned.

Right now I’m leaning toward just doing the course as is, from the Vogue pattern. Forget my sloper.

But with a little shortening of the top part since my back is shorter. My front too, come to think of it. I’d have to do a Full Bust Adjustment (or in this case, adjust the waiste)

all in all, gnomes are very insecure today.

making a Sloper

Wearing a handmade dress in town gives a victorious rush. Handmade, well fitting, flattering, unique. Both the accomplishment of having made this and knowing I wear something that flatters my shape really puts a spring in my step.

So on to the next one! There are many things to do better and many things to discover.

Here’s what I’ve set in motion:

– I enrolled in a class over at Craftsy.com: The Couture Dress by Susan Khalje. The Craftsy course is very good!

– I started a sloper, using this tutorial sloper from Leenas.com. Making a sloper is not easy.

– I bought fabric…

For the sloper, I drew my measurements unto paper using that tutorial. It took me two days. Then I made a copy in muslin to try it on. Here’s the back piece:
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All the important lines are ‘drawn’ in contrasting stitching lines. This ensures stability and visibility from both sides of the sloper. This is a tip from Susan Khalje’s course I applied to the process of making a sloper. There are many more!

Then I sewed the darts with their fabric outwards. This way I could concentrate in fit. Not on silhouette, which is what you’d do if this was a dress, then you’d sew the darts with their fabric folded inwards.
A sloper is meant to have little ease and really copy the body form:

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I sewed one side seam together, put it on and pinned the other side seams and the shoulder seams at the lines. Then started hours of adjusting, repinning, drawing on the sloper, restitching, having a cup of tea, trying it on again, repinning it, drawing some more, identifying significant points on my body, ripping out stitching, putting in new stitching lines. All the time keeping good track of what was to be changed and documenting it well on the sloper. I had four colours of pens and made sure to rip out old sewing lines that were no longer accurate.

I really tested this baby. Afterwards it looked a mess: lines of all colours, threads hanging everywhere. But I had my information. I transferred it unto another piece of muslin and this is how my final sloper looks. The front piece:Untitled

Quite different! My shoulder darts are humongous. And still I need little tucks at the armhole. Those I could not transfer, strangely enough. Couldn’t swivel them around, as you usually can do with darts.

You also see how left differs from right. Yeah, there do not exist many women who have identical breasts.

Then there’s a little horizontal dart on the right, near the waist line. Because I am crooked. The picture below, from one dress from the back, shows this. I feel like I am standing straight but you can see clearly I am not. There is an S curve to me:

It is now reflected in my sloper and will be a part of all my future dress patterns. The sloper and any pattern from it may look crooked on the cutting table, but once I put it on it gets cancelled out by my own crooked frame and the waistline of a new dress will lie perfectly perpendicular to the floor and the side seams will be straight vertically.

The sloper also shows slight differences at the left and right at the neck/shoulderline. The reason is also in the dress picture: I carry one shoulder higher than the other. This is very handy for wearing shoulder strap purses and I recommend it to all women.

Over all, the sloper from the tutorial yielded very good base to work from. I merely had to account for the difference between left and right and had to take out the ease that was added during the tutorial because I wanted a tight fitted sloper. I will add ease back in in every pattern I draft using this sloper.

Back and Front:

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The back has a small shoulder dart on one shoulder and huge darts to follow the shape of my back (which is one of my nice features I feel). And there’s a large wedge in the side because I’m crooked in the side. This wedge presents a problem because when you adjust the length in a pattern you need to take away the fabric along a stretch of the whole width of a pattern piece.

My wedge doesn’t stretch the full width of a (potential) back piece. I cannot put in a dart like that in a solid piece of fabric that spans the width of my back. It will look ridiculous, no matter how straight it makes the waist grain lie.

Solution: a visible waist line. A seam in the pattern piece. I can adjust the length using the seam.

Con: I will not be able to make a dress with long back panels. There will always have to be a waist seam to accomodate this wedge that has to come out.

Pro: this will only apply to patterns where I want a real fitted look and really straight running grain lines. In other patterns I can get away with it. Because I also discovered that although I love the closely fitted look, dresses with a more loose fit are comfortable too.

Con to the Pro:  I’ll confess: my posture echoos the fit on a dress. Wearing a fitted dress I have good posture. Wearing a loosely fitted dress makes me sloughs and bulge my belly and sit with my breast resting on my lower abdomen…

But let’s not dwell on these perfectly normal things. Look, I bought fabric:

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Handdyed quality linnen from Stof tot Verven

Lia is a wizzard. This is dyed using the ice technique which gives these wonderful flowing colours, breaking the dyes in all kind of shades. This fabric looks like opal! The pictures do the colours no justice. They are beautifully saturated and diverse.

She folded the fabric in such a way that it has a mirrored image down the fold. Perfect for a front panel! It’s 1.5 m x 2 m

Lia is all about quality too. Not only is this quality linnen and a light fast dye, she also serged all around the fabric before handling this and it has been preshrunk.

I’m really looking forward to using this linnen in a dress with simple, beautiful lines. Give it an interlining and a lining, just like it’s done in the craftsy course. Silk.

But first a few other practice dresses to really figure out this sloper and the patterns it can provide.

ps. just a little note I jotted down for myself:

these posts I want to read and this site too, the essentialist. Maar de leukste blog is nog steeds under construction