Wearing a paper bag

Marina von Koenig has an excellent tutorial on her website Frabjous Couture about why regular skirts don’t fit the human form.

Hip and waist circumference do not tell where the protruding parts are. Resulting in skirt patterns that have to accommodate for people with big hips or round buttocks or a tummy. Fitting neither of those individuals very well.

Her solution is to determine the widest overall circumference and accomplish fit through darts. Individually determined darts. These virtual ladies have the same circumferences but very different body shapes:
pic by Marina von Koenig

So I went looking for a piece of carton to wrap around me:
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I have no carton in the cabin but what better to use than the sturdy paper bag my fabric from Dublin came in! Murphy Sheehy, a lovely shop.
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I cut open the bad and wrapped it around myself.
hm.
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I’m a big wider than I thought…. I had to look for additional carton.

Sorry Sisley.
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Here it is around me, a tube that indicates my widest circumference. I keep the top aligned with a piece of elastic that I tied around me. This is my natural waist and the line that any skirt will creep up to. So better make it the waist band of my skirt.
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I marked the circumference with pencil on the tube. This will be the width of the pattern pieces. Marina says no positive ease is needed with this method… I wonder.
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Now I am determining where my protruding parts are. With a pencil I mark areas where the carton cannot be folded inwards. My stomach, my hips and my buttocks all have these areas.
These are the areas where the skirt will not be altered in width. Above these areas there will be darts. The darts will end in the area.

I marked everything on the carton. Including CF, CB and Sideseams. Then I unrolled the tube and cut it at the sideseams.
I converted it to some pieces of fabric. I chose a slightly elastic fabric because I have to find out for myself that no wearing ease is needed with this method.

I cut the backpiece a little higher than the front piece. Because the small of my back grows really narrow, upwards, I’ll have some major darts there. Meaning the fabric has to travel further to reach my waist than it does at the front (hardly any darts needed there thanks to my tummy).

Then I cut some pockets. Because this whole idea of a skirt was started because I want a skirt with pockets.
Sew the pockets to the fabric. Then sew shut the sideseams, following the curves of the pockets. Then I’ll have a fabric tube and can start determining the darts.

Pockets are sewn to the front panel. The first run was with the good sides together. Then I flipped open the (half) pocket and run a seam along, for sturdyness and to make it lie flat inwards and not peek out.
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but first I’ll have to darn…
both pockets are sewn upside down to the front panel. Even though I looked and looked and then looked once more. Upside down picture:
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the size of Gnomes…

I measured me, my sloper, the pattern V8648 without seam allowance and took note of Vogue pattern sizes, the amount of wearing ease they add and the circumferences noted in the pattern pieces of V8648.

measurements chart

Quite a difference between the measurements Vogue follows for their size 12 and the numbers they state on the pattern. Here’s where the 3″ to 4″ wearing ease they add to all their “fitted” patterns comes into play.

But I also noted a difference between the measurements they state on the pattern pieces and the measurements that I found by measuring the actual paper pieces.

getting a head ache from all this talk about ease?

perhaps your gnome hat is too tight!

I will be following the pattern pieces but adjusting to my own measurements. Because the pattern already includes a 1,5 cm seam allowance I can grade up easily while for the hip I can keep it down. Now I have to decide how much wearing ease I prefer. I know from previous experience that the 4″ the big pattern compagnies add is way too much for me.

I may make a muslin without any ease and decide while I fit how much I want.

NB. I need to correct in height, I only need 36,5 cm from the back neck to the waist. The pattern is much longer.

let me think on it for a bit

UPDATE: I remembered this post where I gathered recommended ease, at the bottom of that post. Based on that information I will sew a muslin with

bust 97 cm + 7,5 cm ease (2.5″)

waist 76 cm + 2,5 cm ease (1″)

hip 96 cm + 5 cm ease (2″)

Now I’ll Just grade the vogue pattern to these sizes. I’ll take size 12 as a guideline, using the seam allowance to find the right line. This will become my stitch line. Then cut generously. Stitch stitchline for visibility. Sew together muslin.

 

New Dress: Gnomes at work.

SPOILER ALERT: I want to use some of this fabric for DE KIKKER so if you know her, please keep it a secret. And if you are De Kikker, do not scroll down.

jaja, ik heb een geheimpje voor De Kikker.  Gaan we het verklappen?

So, I’m planning a new dress, in fuchsia pink with a front panel of gnomes on wheels:

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On the left an old sheet to be used for…. backing/lining. I have not decided yet.

The pattern is based on the pattern that is used for the Crafty Course The Couture Dress by Susan Khalje: Vogue 8648

A sheet dress with princess lines and a broad band around the waist.

I’m planning to make the front panel with the gnomes but still have to decide if/how I will bring them back in the front panel of the skirt.

I traced my sloper and made the darts into princess lines.

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I must remember that these lines have not yet got ease in them.
If I use these to trace unto fabric I must add ease first.

The other decision is wether or not to line this dress. Or use backing. I’d want to because it makes finishing the seam allowances so much easier.

But the dark pink fabric is stretchy cotton (though not as stretchy as the Anemone dress). It is “keper katoen” of which I only know the Dutch name.

Where I to line or back this dress with the light pink fabric I would use a non-stretch fabric on a stretchy fabric. I have to think about that first.

What guides my thinking is how I am going to use this dress. If it’s going to be a day-to-day dress I’d like a sturdy finishing. I’ve been known to do forest maintenance and saw trees in dresses and I bought this sturdy cotton for a sturdy working dress.

Right now I am leaning towards backing the cotton and just forgetting about the slight stretchiness of the fabric. But I’ll ponder some more.

UPDATE: thought about it.

1. make a muslin. This way I can play around with the ease and I will end up with pattern pieces I can re-use. THis dress pattern will probably be a staple in my wardrobe.

2. trace the seamlines onto the light pink fabric. This will probably become a backing.

This way I get to follow all the steps in the Craftsy Course and get a chance to soak up all the knowledge I missed by merely watching the videos.

first step now: iron the muslin.
Pity I’m getting visitors at any moment now. Our coffee table is my ironing board.

UPDATE on the UPDATE: I started pressing the cotton anyway. I only get visitors who appreciate life and living 🙂

this is as far as I got before the doorbell rang.

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?)

Wriggle Dress: fitting one, two, three

I basted the side seams together on the biggest stitch my machine can do and tried it on.
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The fitting taught me much:

– should try this is size 12 all around, no extra fabric needed at the bust. Even go to 10. Hips at size 8.

– the darts in the back need to be lots more tight, there’s way too much room there.

– the shoulder straps in the back need to be shortened. (They weren’t sewn yet. I attached one to the right front part with a pin. The other had no partner so I pinned it to my bra strap. Very elegant.)

– hand stitched pleats for the right front will look good.

– this is a linnen dress for Summer so a bit of wearing ease will heighten the wearablity

So I did that. Basted it together again and tried it on for the second time. This time I also added the left shoulder part. The sizing was fine now so I focussed on the shoulder part.

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It’s too wide. Even when the armhole will take away some more of the fabric in its seam.

but it looks good with the facing underneath it. Crisp and white.

I folded it in a bit, just to see how it would look off centre. I liked what I saw, it sets off the right shoulder part nicely. It does no longer compete with it.
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seam ripper, yum!

I pinned the shoulders better. I was surprised to see how ‘crooked’ it had to be to be straight on me. Here you see the back part on the right and the front part on the left. The front part already has the facing attached, the back part has it lying under it as I had to make the dart in the back go all the way up to the shoulder seam. Because I have a hunchback. Or perhaps something called ‘a sway back’?
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Anyway, to avoid a big gaping hole between the top of the zipper and my neck I had to fold the backparts outwards. Into a dart. This makes the shoulder seam more narrow which is fine because I wanted to make the left front part more narrow too. I narrowed the left front piece, making sure it attached to the armhole line of size 12 of the pattern.
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See how much I had to alter the angle of the shoulder seam to have it sit straight on me! Hmm. Am I slouching on these pictures??

Anyway: on to fitting nr. 3:
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looks alright! (the noticeable bias on the front view is an optical illusion, I have my hips slainted and my right knee forward, pulling the fabric forward)
The back is better now, not so roomy. Still a bit though…
The back view seems to suggest I carry one shoulder higher than the other. This might well be the case or again, I’m not standing straight up. Will try and notice in the future.

It sits very comfortably. Of which the crinkles are evidence since I wore the dress as is for a bit.
Now I’m ready to take apart this dress one last time. Press it. Use the parts to alter the paper pattern. Use the parts to cut a lining. Then the final sewing will begin. With lots of pressing along the way.

Detecting Ease in the woods

on the search to find the correct amount of ease!

for this pattern, Butterick 5603, I chose size 16 per instruction by Butterick.

because me:  Butterick 16:

chest 36″            36″

bust 38″             38″

waist 30″            30″

hip 38″              40″

we are made for each other! Just slim the hip down to a size 14 and you’re ready to twirl in that dress!

yeah.

well.

Butterick is carrying an invisible little bug inside it called “ease”. Each pattern’s got some. You need a little bit of ease at least, otherwise you couldn’t move in a garment. This is called wearing ease. I have not yet figured out what the required minimum is.

I know with knitting you can work with negative ease because knitting stretches.

Woven fabric doesn’t stretch so negative ease won’t work. Unless you have the Hulk’s sense of fashion:

Hulk smashes negative ease!

Besides ‘wearing ease’ there’s something called ‘designers ease’. This is the amount of ease the designer added to get a certain look. There’s the “fitted look” which follows the body forms and there’s “loose fitted look” which hides them pretty much.

A burlap sack has a lot of designers ease:

“loose fitted silhouette designer foot fashion insures easy victory”

somewhere hidden on the site Butterick mentions the ease they standard add to their patterns. You have to find it by yourself, they do not point to it when they guide you through the size determining process.

They have decided that a “fitted silhouette” needs about 4″ of ease. That statement reminds me a lot of squirrel poo….

I like nuts! I love nuts! I poop nuts!

4″ is the difference between a 12 and a 16! Between a European 40 and a 44! That’s not a “fitted silhouette” that’s the difference between a “Whoa there, foxy lady!” and “Hello there, gnome lady”:

“Hello there.”

I love wearing size 44, don’t get me wrong. As a matter of fact, I’m wearing the sweater on the above picture right now. A nice big handknit sweater. With bustdarts. It looks fine and is very comfortable. But when sewing a retro dress that has “hot mama” written all over it, I would like to know in advance how nutty the designers breakfast was when he decided the amount of ease.

On the pattern pieces there are little gems of ease knowledge hidden away. At the waist and bust area small circles occur with a cross in them. Nearby are measurements. There’s one on pattern piece 10 that reads:

waist.

size 14 = 29,5″ 75cm

size 16 = 31,5″ 80 cm

and one on piece number 5 that reads:

hip.

size 14 = 38″ 96cm

size 16 = 40″ 101 cm

That’s the ease right there! for a 30″ waist (real body) they give you a dress with a 31,5″ waist (wearing ease + designer ease)

And for a 38″ hip you get a 38″ hip! How stupid is tha…hey…..wait a minute! How come the hip on my dress is so much more than 38″?

I better remeasure one or two things….

And after that I’m off to raid the closet to find out what the ease is on some of my favorite dresses. But first let me do some detecting….


art by Bruno

Minimum wearing ease in a fitted garment is approximately 2,5 cm (1″) at the wasitline (to allow for large lunches!), 5 cm over the hip to allow for sitting, 7,5 cm at the bust and 3,5 cm over the upper arms for arm and torso movement.”

quote from The Design Manual

wearing ease bust = 2,5 “; waist = 1″ and hip = 3”

from getcreativeshow

bullet Bodices have 1 1/2″ – 2″ wearing ease at the bust
bullet Dresses have 3/4″ – 1″ wearing ease at the waistline
bullet Skirts and pants have 1/2″ – 3/4″ ease at the waistline
bullet All garments have 2″ – 2 3/4″ wearing ease at the hips

from Scott R. Robinson

and Kenneth King’s Wearing Ease Minimums for Torso:
Bust -3 inches 
Waist – 2 inches
Full hip -2 inches
Armhole- 1 -1/2 inches
Bicep- 1 1/2 inches

from Threads

conclusion: you need a little bit of ease on your patterns but how much exactly is only known by squirrels.

what shall I have for breakfast today?

humbug! size chart lied

grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

I made the toile and it is too big. 4 inches too big! everywhere! 10 centimeters too much!

only around the bust, that’s where it fits. But the waist, the hips, the back: everything is too big.

I followed the sizing chart of Butterick to the lettre. They must be off their rocker. I bought the 16 as those fit my body measurements exactly.

But after making it it turns out I’m no 16. I’m a 12 or a 10 even. The pattern I bought is 14-16-18-20 so it’s not easily mended either. They lied.
Bah!

is this what “ease” is all about? Butterick says they incorporate 3 to 4 inches of ease into any dress called “fitted”:

Ease Chart
Fitted, close fitting, loose fitting, semi fitted, very loose fitting…these are terms you’ll find in the garment descriptions in this catalog and on our pattern envelopes. They are our standard for fit and are the terms that tell you exactly what to anticipate when it comes to fitting. Each term indicates a general amount of wearing ease and design ease that is built into the pattern. Ease is the amount of “space” in a garment beyond the body measurements; the specific amount of ease will vary from style to style.

Misses’ Ease Allowances for Dresses:

  • Close Fitting = 0 -2 “
  • Fitted             = 3 – 4″
  • Semi-Fitted = 4 1/8 – 5″
  • Loose Fitting = 5 1/8 – 8″
  • Very Loose Fitting = over 8″

from Butterick

is this right? is this wat 4″ of ease is supposed to be like? But it looks ridiculous!

Who dreams of so much ease in a fitted, retro looking Summer dress?? I don’t. And neither does Gertie.

Lesson learned: Butterick is nuts mind the added ease when choosing your pattern size.

Now what?
redraft for a size 12? invent that myself? fiddle with the toile untill it fits and transfer all alterations to the paper pattern? (I’m not good enough to do a good draped fitting)
I’ll sleep on it. I do see a new toile in my future.

Gertie Hirsch says: measure (the ease on) a dress that fits you well. I have that pink galadres my mum made. It fits nice around my tummy. And there’s a red linen dress from Claudia Sträter…I could measure that one.
I’ll be on a quest to find out what my preferred ease is.