August 29, 2013

Tutorial: Easy Narrow Hem

As I mentioned here, I love narrow hems.
A narrow hem is one that is approximately 1/8" or 1/4" and is used on men's shirts, slips, lingerie, napkins, and other items that need just a hint of a hem.
Commonly a special sewing machine foot is used to achieve the narrow hem. But the hem can be done a couple of ways without an additional foot. 
This is my trick/tip to achieve the narrowest of narrow hems. 

Note: This method utilizes a serger/overlock, however there is another method I use that does not require additional machines I will post that soon. 

Step one: 
Serge the raw edge to be hemmed. 
Depending on the hem allowance you may want to calculate the amount of the hem allowance that you serge off. 
Example: A common narrow hem is two 1/4" (0.635 cm) folds;  if your hem allowance is 1 1/4" (3.175 cm) you would want to serge off 3/4" (1.905 cm). 

I like to set my serger at its most narrow stitching width and using only three threads. Thus producing the narrowest of narrow hems.

Step two:
Fold and press the serged edge to the wrong side of the garment.

Step three: 
Fold and press the edge a second time to the wrong side of the garment, encasing the serged edge. Pin to secure for stitching. 
Step four: 
Edge-stitch hem. 

This is a tedious task, if you miss the edge the hem will not be secured all around. Like this error: 
Whoopsie, I sewed off the edge.

Step five: 
Press on right side of garment to embed stitching line. 

August 28, 2013

Tulip Sleeves in Abstract Floral Butterick 5815

I always fall for tulip sleeves.


Butterick 5815 was an easy project; a quick (sewing time one hour tops) and fun sew (if you love narrow hems as much as I do). I spent more time mulling over which view to construct. I wanted a dress like view C but I liked the curved hem of the tunic view B. In the end I merged the two and cut a dress length with a curved hem. I then found that I was uncomfortable wearing it as a dress as the slinky fabric crept up my tights due to static, so I wore it over leggings. I think for the next wear I will cut it to a true tunic length. Or maybe a shirt as in view A and wear it with a skirt I will just take this fun project with the lovely sleeves all around the pattern envelope. Do you get as indecisive as I when planning your projects? 

August 19, 2013

Copy Cat Cape Jacket Completed

I have finished my copy cat Victoria Beckham cape jacket.

My inspiration (source)
I have bored you ad nauseum about my pattern modifications here. Therefor all I will say is that the construction was a dream; aside from a bit too much hand sewing due to the fact that I could not bag the coat lining as the under portion of the armscye was exposed.
Fabric:
Main body of my cape jacket and outer "sleeves" - poly suiting from the stash 
Inner "sleeves" and upper collar - satin (source Fabric Mart
Under collar and lower front band and pockets - Satin twill (source Fabric Mart)
I added pockets


August 18, 2013

I am Starting to Understand the Illusive FBA

I have made it to wearable muslin stage in my custom black blazer for a client. Third time was the charm for the pattern alteration which I described here
http://howtosewing.blogspot.com/2008/09/how-to-take-standard-body-measurements.html
I started with a base pattern Simplicity 2446 and have over come huge hurdles in this project. 
  • The pattern is designed for cup sizes but only A, B, and C. Fantastic if that is what you are in the market for but if you need a larger cup you still have to FBA (I learned this the hard long way). 
  • The pattern has 1" seam allowances.  I love this Amazing Fit pattern they provide tips and steps to fine tune as you sew. learning while sewing a garment = knowledge and knowledge is power. My problem arrived in that I did not have the luxury to fit as I was sewing as the garment is not for me. In the end I found that I would have been better served to remove the extra seam allowance from the start as became an issue as I was altering to accommodate the SA plus the added ease. 
  • This pattern has so much ease, 5" (12.5 cm) in bust, 8" (20.5 cm) in waist, and 4" (10cm) in hip. The desired outcome of my garment was a semi-fitted jacket so I had to omit the ease. 
My missteps in the project: 
My actual FBA adjusted pattern 
I made my first muslin (in yellow) true to the pattern (except for adjustments in length, due to my clients petite frame) based solely on the full bust measurement with an appropriate ease calculation. This made the muslin a perfect length but a baggy mess every where except the bust. So logically I began altering to desired fit removing the excess fabric at the seam lines. I had a large gap that was forming at the bust from the armscye. My logical instinct for the second muslin (in green) was to alter at the apex to remove this dart. This caused a huge series of other issues within the armscye. I learned that when you have this armscye gaping a FBA MUST be done. Because the FBA moves the fullness from the armscye gap to the fullest part of the bust where that additional fabric is needed. The FBA adjustment isolates the alterations to only the bust NOT altering the back or area where a smaller size is needed. 

So for the third muslin (in black polka dot) I started over, first I completely sized down the pattern. Starting with a size 14 C cup I added a 1" FBA to the side front pattern piece.

 Next I adjusted the waist and hip to correspond to the original alterations. 

I ended with a jacket that is close to the desired fit: 



I found the bust to be too pointy so the seam above the bust was altered to remove some excess fabric as you can see with the pinning. 


I am also going to add a slight sway back adjustment to remove the center back waistline pucker. And I found that I removed too much ease in the upper back shoulders so I will add some back into this area in order to remove some restriction in the arm movement when wearing the jacket. 

I found that my strength is still gowns but I love to learn new things! 
And just for fun here is an obligatory party shot of my lovely bride and wedding party (ladies in my bridesmaid dresses!)

August 15, 2013

Leopard Print Overload Shell McCall's 6604

I made an animal print shell from McCall's 6604. When McCall's says easy, they mean it; view A was super easy. I used a fun leopard print poly chiffon fabric sourced from Joann Fabrics ages ago.
The lovely draped neck and armhole bands were the features of this variation and I did not even have to think while constructing the pattern. Two super easy side seams and a back neck facing that is cleanly applied to the bias drape facing.
I loved the patterning of the armbands, a neat fold hems the arm and the raw edges are contained with the armscye. a quick stitch and a serge to finish the seams. Add a narrow hem to the bottom. 

Typically I do not follow any hard or fast rules for dressing myself and this is no exception. Yes, I wore three different animal (leopard) prints in one look... is that allowed? Really I do not care as I did it already and no one complained at work, well a customer commented on my earrings  calling them, "different." They are Betsey Johnson and have a heart  painted yellow  on one side and a faint leopard print on the other, covered in chains with some pearls and metal flowers and of course topped with rhinestones. They may be different but I might be "different" I am wearing cat-eye leopard print glasses as a neutral. 

August 9, 2013

Monthly Stitch August Cape in Action

Have you heard of the Monthly Stitch yet?
The Monthly Stitch is a sew-along with a new challenge each month.
Idea: sew one garment each month that relates to the theme.
Challenge themes are designed to be open to interpretation and fit with each persons own personal sewing skill level, style and geographic location.
The aim is to build a collaborative collective of enthusiastic sewists all over the world for some inspirational sewing show-and-tell, increase sewing productivity and have fun.
The first challenge: August - Capes

My interpretation of a cape was inspired by a pin on Pinterest:

The cape jacket was made by VICTORIA BECKHAM it can be purchased at the web stores Farfetch or net-a-porter for an average price of $3,128.63. 
Net-a-porter describes the garment as: "A cutting-edge fusion of a cape and tuxedo jacket, Victoria Beckham's wool and silk-blend crepe cover up tops our wishlist. This sleekly structured design boasts gleaming satin lapels and defined shoulders."

I was immediately drawn to the design as it appears to be a challenge. And although my version will not be a luscious silk and wool blend, it will also not carry a thousand dollar price tag. 

I decided to manipulate an existing pattern, Simplicity 1781 to achieve my silhouette. Having previously used this pattern to make a blazer I knew to fit was not as I desired for a blazer but would be ideal for outerwear. 
This omitted pattern fitting modifications, leaving only aesthetic manipulation of my pattern pieces to copy cat my cape jacket. 

My pattern manipulations: 

First, I joined the side front (2 & 3) and side back pieces (7 & 8). I omitted the seam as it was not necessary, it was an aesthetic feature for the Simplicity blazer and would just compete with the clean lines of my cape jacket.  

Next, I added an overlap to the center front (1). The Simplicity jacket met at the center front with a zip or loop buttons. My cape jacket will have a slight overlap 2" and close with a concealed front fastening. 
On this piece I also divided the pattern where my satin collar and matte bodice will meet my hem band. I chose the placement of this division based on where the pocket will be placed on the lower portion of the bodice side front (3). Last on this piece, I redrew my neckline to achieve the deep v of my satin lapel. 

Next, the pocket (4) had to be squared off and lengthened to be turned up into the hem. In the Simplicity blazer the lower portion of the pocket is top stitched to the exterior. in my version it will be cleaner to turn the pocket with the hem. I can not tell it the original VB coat has a pocket but this is a touch i would like in my version, I will be cutting the pocket pieces in the same fabric as the lower portion of the jacket front (1) to create the banded front illusion with the contrasting fabric. 

Next, I extended and contoured the shape of my upper (18) and lower (19) collar pieces. 

Finally, I altered the piece de la resistance the two piece sleeves. On the under sleeve (15) where the sleeve lays against the side seam I amended the seam as it will be sewn into the side seam of the bodice. On the upper sleeve (14) about mid way down the armscye I created the slit. Both of the sleeve pieces were also lengthened to meet the hem of the jacket. 

Whoa! That was a lot of work but some how I think it was faster than draping from nothing. And it was so much fun and challenging thus the monthly challenge! 
Now all I have to do is cut and sew.... 

August 8, 2013

Planning, Plotting and a Little Bit of Sewing

Have you ever you spent more time planning a project than actually constructing the project itself?
In a nutshell that is how my week is going. But not on one project but a total of 4 different projects.
Here is a run down of my current projects in the works:

1. Copy Cat Challenge 2
This project has the latest deadline at the moment (9/30/13) so I am only in my concept phase however I am really excited to get to work on it.

2. The Monthly Stitch Cape Challenge
I am knee deep in this project and I will tell you more soon. SO EXCITED for these challenges.

3.  A custom black blazer for a client.
this project has actually been a great learning experience for me. As you may have gathered I have NO patience for muslins. I tend not to make them except when sewing for others.
First Muslin: bust fits but way too big
To date, for this project I have made two. I am using a commercial pattern as a starting point, Simplicity 2446 but have altered the pattern to something completely custom as my client is petite and has an amazing bust to waist ratio.
True story: I have never performed a FBA on a pattern before. Being a stubborn seamstress I did not go out of my way to research I altered to logic. My bust fit but had to alter every other seam.
In my second Muslin I was able to contour to the body perfectly but lost the armseye.
Second Muslin, found bust and torso lost armseye. 
How did I accomplish this madness?! Well, I thought taking a gaping dart out of the armseye and removing some of the sleeve cape ease would produce my desired results. Wrong it only altered  ruined the shoulder fit.
Now moving on to my third try I elected to completely down size the original pattern and attempt a proper FBA.
FBA's are fun
I think the next muslin could actually be a wearable muslin.

4. Baby Birthday Onsie
I do not fancy myself a master at appliqué but when a client asked if I could create a birthday onsie for less than the absurd amounts charged for these in boutiques, I said yes. The cost $2.39 flocked letters + $1.50 quilting cotton and + $0.75 web fusing = $4.64 (the onsie was pre-owned).  
Although this project is now complete I would like to note that it took me longer to find the flocked letters than it did to draw the appliqué stencil, fuse and stitch the embellishment.

Also in my spare stitching time I have hemmed 2 trousers and replaced a zipper for other clients. At this point I really need  this upcoming (self involved) sewing challenges and can not wait to see all my planning and plotting pay off!
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