Sunday, 6 August 2017
I'm pretty late to the game with the Nettie bodysuit by Closet Case Patterns - a pattern I seem to have had for ever! However, I finally took the plunge. I decided on this pattern as my project in my sewing with stretch fabrics class at Centre Front Studio, which has just finished. Other items sewn in class were pretty panties with lace waistband and lace edges round the legs, a Lycra leotard pant, a simple tee and of course several practice samples.
I downloaded the Nettie pattern and printed and stuck together with no issues, though this will never be one of my favourite pastimes! I also downloaded the sew-a-long. The pattern comes as a bodysuit and a dress (very short indeed for me!!) with sleeve and neckline variations. I decided to make the bodysuit with long sleeves and high back and front necklines. I decided against the bra insert for my first bodysuit (there will be more!). I had the pattern in my stash for a long time and I noticed that the sizing had changed slightly after a certain date - trouble is I had no idea when I actually bought mine though I thought it was probably before the date given. I therefore decided to make the bodysuit using the larger allowances on the basis that I could always take in if required. I made up to the size given for my measurements and it was just perfect! I won't need to change this for the next bodysuit, unless of course I use a fabric with less stretch.
As I’m 5” taller than the person the pattern was designed for, I increased the pattern length - but later had to shorten it again after making a toile. I ended up with the front longer than the original for my size but tapered to no increase at the sides and the back a little shorter in the centre, to accommodate my very curved back (a bit like a sway back I suppose), tapering to no reduction at the sides. These are not unusual changes for me but I was surprised at how long the pattern was. In addition, my tutor suggested adding quite a bit extra fabric to the back of the bodysuit at the bottom to provide more coverage there as the bodysuit narrowed quite quickly. I also had to lengthen the crotch extensions (?) - the sections that fasten between the legs. My lower torso is very long, however. I'm long from shoulder to bust, short from bust to waist due to a high waist and very long from waist down.
I mentioned that this was my class project, which I was doing in class, so I followed my tutor’s instructions rather than the sew-a-long instructions (which were very good). This meant that I sewed things in a different order and used different techniques. The main difference was to the finish at armhole and legs. Oh, and I then decided to miss out the sleeves as I thought the fabric pattern was too much to have sleeves as well - and I reckoned that as I’ve had so many sleeve problems recently I’d leave them off! So I had to finish the armhole edges too. My tutor recommended the same technique for all of these. I cut a binding, on the cross grain, the stretchiest direction, and attached this on the round to the neckline by sewing right sides together. Once I was happy with the length and stretch etc, I overlocked the edge with a wide stitch. This overlock stitch was then used as a guide to fold over the fabric to the inside where I pinned it. The edge was not turned in (almost a little like a Hong Kong finish at this point). I then used a zigzag stitch on top of the binding, the bottom edge of the zigzag stitch just touching the junction between binding and bodysuit. My stitching may not be perfect but it’s fine. Then the excess fabric in the inside was trimmed away - I got to use my nice sharp duck bill applique scissors for this. The armholes got exactly the same. The legs were slightly different as they were sewn open but also because they required different amounts of stretch at different bits of the leg. There is no elastic in any of these but the fabric is beautifully stretchy. I don’t have a coverstitch machine so that didn’t come into the equation.
I started writing this before I had quite finished the bodysuit - I still had to put the fastenings at the crotch. As I used high neck front and back, I didn't get away with just sewing a seam here though i did try! Having looked at the various options, I hoped to use a bra fastening - I didn’t have one handy which is why it took so long to be finished. I had to slightly modify the crotch extensions as one was wider than the other, so I unpicked and narrowed that one. I couldn't get a suitable bra fastener - I needed one with 3 hooks and eyes and I could only find 2 locally - too narrow. I tried corset fastening but that didn't work for me. In the end I used fabric extensions. I tried to use poppets (the kind you hammer in) but that didn't work either and in the end I resorted to hand sewing on poppets, which I preferred to hooks and eyes. It has worked okay but next time, I would slightly shorten the crotch extensions and I feel there is a bit of looseness.
I love this bodysuit and will make more. Perhaps with long sleeves as I originally intended next time. I love the height of the neckline so will probably stick to that but I won’t be making the dress. I think I would cut away the front legs a bit too.
In the class I was also making a simple top from stretch jersey, using a commercial block. This wasn’t really very successful - I didn’t like the fit and was going to have to make lot of changes. I wasn't inspired. The Nettie was a much better fit and Rory, my tutor, suggested that all I needed to do was to shorten the Nettie pattern and I’d have the pattern for a perfectly fitting tee. I may need a little extra ease if I use a less stretchy and more medium weight fabric. So that’s also in my plans.
Rory, btw, doesn’t feel I should have abandoned my Cashmerette Concord tee (also taken to class) so that has been resuscitated and is only nearly dead! I have a couple of changes to make but am doing so to the tee I made rather than starting again. The fabric is nice and if I can manage to salvage something that will be a bonus. I was having big issues with the sleeves - but it seems that may be salvageable. I had considered a sleeveless version but the armholes are too baggy for that. Sleeve problems have haunted me for months now - you’d have thought I’d have sorted this but regrettably not.
Saturday, 22 July 2017
This is not going to be a lengthy blog post you may be relieved to know. It is partly for my benefit, a log, which was the original reason I started my blog and partly to let you know about this. I also have more photos which I am not posting.
I first heard about and tried Sure Fit Designs a few years ago. I was desperately seeking a better fit than I got from RTW and balked at major pattern fitting issues. I didn't know how to do them - this was before I found a sewing class.
I sent off to America for the kit, which I have since updated, and tried it out with a modicum of success. Sadly, I didn't feel I could justify a trip to the US to join a retreat. I found Glenda extremely helpful (and still do) via email and photos. She also does Skype sessions as part of the DVD courses. I haven't actually taken mine up and am probably too late now.
|Some of the tools used when drawing up the body blueprint|
Marked weight change and ironically starting a pattern cutting course and a dressmaking techniques course made me put it away.
Long story short, these classes had still not pointed the way to well fitting garments.
Last year, SFD became available in the UK through Judith, who trained under Glenda in the US. This meant I could buy materials without the extortionate postage, VAT and import duties which had cost me dear. Also, excitingly, there was the prospect of attending a retreat in the UK.
Recently I got the kit out again. I signed up for a dress kit fitting retreat over 3 days with Judith in Oxfordshire. I was still in Oxfordshire as I started to write this.
There were 3 other ladies on the retreat. Each of them was new to the system. Judith was aware I'd had some experience with the kit and was a little concerned that I wouldn't get full value from the course as day 1 starts basic with measurements etc. I reassured her in advance and said I just wasn't happy with where I'd got to. (BTW, I considered day 1 extremely useful and not at all a waste of time - I picked up some valuable hints.)
Judith had asked for some photos in advance and I sent her some fitting photos (not SFD ones). I appreciated the preparation she put into the retreat and she was well prepared with advice about how I should tackle my particular issues, confirmed on meeting me in person.
Briefly - I'm tall and have a long torso but a high waist. I have uneven shoulders and a sway back. Judith felt I might have a forward sloping shoulder and a slight rounding of the upper back which would perhaps need to be catered for. I also have a relatively narrow back. I have a DD cup size but am fairly narrow across front chest.
The SFD system takes care of a number of these issues. There are a number of measurements both of length and width to determine shoulder points, bust apex points etc.
Judith marked my shoulder line and measurements were taken from that point. Right from the start she suggested I should make separate left and right sides for the bodice and I agreed. In addition, I made the front one size larger than measured and the back one size smaller.
|shoulder line marked|
So I made separate right and left front and back pieces. All of us at the retreat added shoulder darts to the back bodice, which Judith demonstrated and we practised before trying out on our own patterns. (I have photos of this too)
I won't go into the drawing up of the patterns. I'm happy to share more with anybody who wants to ask specifically. Basically our measurements are transferred using a template to a pattern which should then conform to our measurements. There are loads of videos online too showing the system and giving walkthroughs of each step. They are very helpful tutorials. These are under the parent US site.
At the retreat, Judith demonstrated each step using one of the other attendee’s measurements.
Now, I've never had difficulty drawing up the basic pattern by transferring measurements. However, here the retreat was invaluable firstly because the measurements were more accurate than any I've had before and secondly because of the explanation given around how to interpret and use the sizes eg taking into account the shoulder blade fullness when measuring the full bust even if that measurement is not then parallel to the ground - this made my full bust measurement bigger than I had measured previously. Also extremely interesting was the discussion of using part of the template dart rather than the whole. I had intended to reduce my front waist dart in this way but forgot when I was transferring marking; I feel I need a little more ease so will reduce the dart intake next time around.
I do struggle with 3D figures and the added complexity of having to do separate right and left sides made things a bit more difficult for me. I even managed to mark the wrong side of the fabric. Fortunately just the toile fabric! It meant it did take me longer than I would have liked.
It was clear when we measured the patterns to check sizing and ease that I'd need more biceps width and Judith showed me a potentially better way than I'd used previously. I didn't add enough though and my longer sleeve cap length foiled this method.
The skirt pattern and the bodice pattern were joined and double ended darts created but the waist seam removed. The skirt was cut off at thigh level. A toile was then made of the resulting pattern. I can show you photos of my first toile without sleeves.
|Front view. Poorly sewn double ended darts but I also think too big a dart intake here.|
|Back view showing shoulder dartt. Back is high enough up so no round shoulder adjustment needed.|
There are no major issues here. Judith didn't feel I needed additional change for slight upper back roundness as the fabric was high enough at the back neck. I didn't sew my double ended darts very well hence the puckering - I pivoted sharply rather than change direction slowly. The hip area would be too tight over trousers, so more ease would be needed but this would be fine for a fitted dress. Also, these were full size darts and I think half size would be better.
Unfortunately my sleeves were too tight. I let out the ⅝” seam allowances by about half. That helped a lot. However when I set the sleeves again it became clear that the sleeve cap was too short. The upper part of the sleeve on the right in particular was twisted, tight and uncomfortable. I thought I had a good photo of this but can't find it so I guess not.
|Sleeve adjustments on the sly|
|Not the correct angle but you can see my sleeve cap is too short - there is a marked gap|
|My right shoulder angle needed adjusted|
|Adjusted (it needed done and then redone hence all the pen|
(As I write, that's where I've reached. End of day 2. Last day tomorrow.)
I cut out another sleeve and tried it out. This had a longer sleeve cap and widened biceps below but not at the junction between sleeve and armscye. However, I had too sharp a transition between the long sleeve seam top and the underarm point and it didn't sew well. The sleeve looked much better, no longer twisted, but there was insufficient seam allowance immediately under my arm. I knew where I needed to go, though. This was going to have to be at home.
|Maybe you can see the issue at the top of the sleeve seam. This is already modified from original but better now|
The rest of the day was spent demonstrating what we can do with the body blueprint, which for me was actually the main thing I had wanted out of the retreat. Sure, I wanted a well fitting garment but I'm well on the way to that.
I had started with the idea that I'd take a commercial pattern and modify it to suit my sizes. However, it's very much easier to take a copy of the body blueprint, which is an extremely basic design, and add the design features required.
I tried this out using McCall's 6028 which I intended to make up for our ruby anniversary. Judith was able to show me how to achieve this - my first try on my own wasn't right. I've been too busy to perfect my body blueprint so haven't yet drawn up the new pattern using it for this dress. I have some photos of my exercise here but think I will wait until I actually do the pattern.
Since my return home, I've been very busy with things other than dressmaking and pattern cutting. I have drawn out a fresh copy of my blueprint, though. I struggled a bit with my sleeve and armscye - having heightened the sleeve cap and added to the biceps width at the end of the sleeve (previously this started a full seam allowance below that), my sleeve was longer and therefore had much more ease than I wanted or felt I could ease in successfully. I asked Judith’s advice and she responded quickly. She suggested lowering the end of the armscye making it a little longer. This wasn't enough, however, and I had to do a little more.
- I narrowed the sleeve cap slightly while maintaining the height. This marginally reduced the length of the sleeve seam
- I did lower the armscye slightly back and front. (Originally my back armscye had kicked up at the edge too much and I smoothed this out before dropping further)
- This still wasn't enough. I then scooped out the front armscye more. My cross chest width is quite narrow and while this is taken into account when drawing up, I had more available - that is I could make it narrower. I didn't need to do this at the back.
- I nearly forgot to true up again but have now done so
Judith has commented that she plans to make changes to the way she approaches asymmetrical figures such as myself, especially with large biceps. She finds large biceps are commonly associated with the need for a longer sleeve cap; the fact that I’m 5’11” with long arms just adds to that need! She also has a couple of other refinements in mind. She feels that this might have allowed more time to perfect the sleeve within the time available; she is disappointed that I/we didn’t get there. I’m reasonably happy, though. I can work on my own and contact her if needed and know she will respond in a helpful and timely manner. I enjoyed the retreat and am signing up for her pants retreat later in the year.
I'm planning to make a toile over this coming weekend. Fingers crossed! I thought I'd post the first section though.
Monday, 12 June 2017
Alison asked me to make a dress for her from a much loved dress she already had but which was too short for work. She needed to wear leggings or tights with it, but then found it too warm in summer when that's when she wanted to wear it.
|The two dresses together|
The dress is a princess seamed skater dress with a filled in sweetheart bodice - I don't know if that's a reasonable description! In the front and back skirt princess seams, there are long godets, nearly the full skirt length
|The original dress|
I considered simply adding a piece of matching georgette (assuming georgette was the fabric used for the bodice and sleeves) to the hem as a band. This plan was scuppered when I couldn’t find suitable fabric. I had some leeway as the pieces would be separated by the fabric of the rest of the dress but even so, I didn't get close enough.
I therefore decided that I did need to duplicate the dress then make it longer. Alison said that otherwise the dress fitted well. I did ask if it needed a little extra ease as some of the seams were stretched but she said no.
The first part of pricking the pattern out was fairly straightforward.
What I had was:
- A skirt, joined at a waist seam. The skirt had a front and a back, each with two godets inserted into a princess seam. I traced out the lines.
- A bodice consisting of several pieces
- Upper bodice front - round neck and sweetheart shaped bottom
- Upper bodice back
- Lower front bodice central with sweetheart shape at top
- Lower front bodice sides
- Lower central back bodice
- Lower back bodice sides
- A side invisible zip, extending from under the left arm through the waist seam and the skirt.
I traced out all of these pieces and found, of course, that the sides didn’t match. My next step was therefore to true up the pattern. I also had to decide how to lengthen the skirt. The options were really to increase at the hem which would widen the skirt a bit or to cut across and lengthen part way down. This would impact on all pieces and the godets so I elected to go with the former method.
Dan checked my trueing of the pattern
I did have particular difficulty drawing out the sleeves, due to their method of insertion. I hope I have a photo that will show this as I'm not sure how to describe it. If not, I'll try to draw it.
|Sleeve underside on hacked dress|
I then cut out the toile. The fabric is much thicker, a nice soft almost brushed cotton floral for the patterned elements and a single crepe for the black components (Upper back and front bodices and sleeves)
|Front view of hacked dress|
|Back view of hacked dress|
|Back view of dresses together; the original has more of a curve I see now|
I constructed the skirt including the godets with no issue. I had a bit more difficulty joining upper and lower front bodices at the sweetheart shape and Dan helped me. Otherwise, the bodice came together okay and attached nicely to the skirt. The invisible zipper went in beautifully.
|Out of focus beautiful zip insertion!|
I did have problems with the sleeves, though. Firstly, the sleeve cap is very gathered and I had found that a little difficult to recreate in the pattern and more difficult to sew. I basically set the sleeves in but add I mentioned previously, I found the bottom of the sleeve very difficult and asked Dan to sew rather than just demonstrate! Thankfully, she did that but confirmed that she'd help me modify the pattern to make the process easier.
|Original sleeve cap|
Then I overlocked the outside edges and created simple turnover hems and edges, which were simply topstitched
None of my inside edges were finished - this is a toile.
When I was taking the photos shown here I noticed that there are marked lines at the armhole, where I was having all the problems. I see they also exist in the original.
I posted the toile and the original dress to Alison (she has received them) and now I'm waiting to see how it fitted. I'm not going to make any changes to the pattern until I have clear feedback.
Sunday, 11 June 2017
I put my finished Merry May top for MAGAM (only a couple of weeks late!) on Instagram earlier and said I wouldn't be wearing it outside. Why?
I said earlier in the month that I was having massive problems with the darts. They just wouldn't lie nicely. I had them in and out and Lyn helped me fix them as best they could be fixed. There were a couple of problems with them, relating to fabric choice and to pattern. This was the same self drafted pattern I made for my last top, the checked one with the tartan trim. However, this fabric was very slippery and wiggly and I struggled with it (sorry, Rory - I've let you down!). It didn't like the darts, which kept twisting, even in Lyn's hands. This was made worse by the fact that these darts were French darts so very much on the bias. The original darts were folded upwards and this just didn't work in this fabric - they wanted to lie downwards, follow gravity I suppose! When I then let them fall, there was insufficient at the sides to catch in the seam and these were large darts so, on Lyn's recommendation, the dart was trimmed to about 1cm using the overlocker. Lyn did the trimming as I was scared!
I took the top to where I could and sewed up the sides again and overlocked the edges.
In my last top, I didn't manage to apply self fabric bias but in fact the commercial tartan tape was a much better option. In this top, I did manage to make and apply my own bias tape. So that's one positive thing!
The fabric frayed tremendously and this proved to be big problem with all the sewing and ripping out. I ended up having to deepen the front of the neck and the armholes too. There was no seam allowance. In future, I think I would have a seam allowance even if I then cut off, as that would give me a bit of leeway.
But why won't I wear it outside? It's comfortable, doesn't fit too badly BUT see this photo - a pull has occurred from top to the bottom of the fabric on the right side, presumably as the darts were being manipulated. I can't do anything about it, I'm afraid.
- · My pattern needs some tweaks, as my figure changes a bit
- · Fabric choice is crucial - well I knew that but still haven't put it into practice!! During making, the darts were uneven from side to side despite cutting on one thickness of fabric from a double width pattern.
- · Overworking and mishandling fabric is a disaster - and leads to stretching, excess fraying and to fabric pulls and ultimately an unsatisfactory garment. The bias tape is not lying nicely, either, which is very sad as my last top did lie nicely.
I knew about the pull but decided to finish the top, anyway. I could wear it under a jacket or cardigan provided I didn't take them off! I am making another top (commercial pattern) with the same fabric and I've already had fit issues but my experience here will help, I hope. This second top has bias tape on the inside so I've bought some silky commercial bias tape. I bought navy and red but the navy isn't dark enough so I'll probably use the red. I don't have enough fabric left, I don't think, anyway, to make my own self fabric bias tape.
Over the next few weeks/months (however long it takes) I will be posting about my search for the 'perfect' top (not couture, though). You know this will take a while as I am not one to churn out lots of garments.
Comments are invited, please! Including, please, what fabric do you think would be best for this pattern? TIA. Hope the rest of your weekend goes well. I'm planning to do a bit of sewing.
MAGAM is the Make a Garment a Month Challenge hosted by Sarah Liz on Facebook and now on Instagram. Thank you for your hard work, Sarah Liz
Sunday, 21 May 2017
David went to Liverpool with his Photography Club a few weekends ago (okay - I admit it - back in April!) and I was invited.
We had a relatively casual trip there. We find we can’t do trips in a rush and need a couple of breaks to stretch and have a comfort break. We’re getting rather stiff. We went in my car and shared the driving. I don’t like driving David’s car.
We arrived on Friday afternoon. The hotel was pretty basic but okay. A number of the others had gone on trips within Liverpool during the day but while we had a couple of things planned if we had arrived in time, that didn’t work out.
Friday evening, we had a Turkish meal in a restaurant just a 15 minute walk from the hotel. That was a great meal! Originally, I hadn’t been going to drink as David wanted to take a night photo of the Liverpool skyline but we put that off to the following night as the meal was rather late in the evening so I was able to have some of their lovely Turkish wine. I really want to try to get some of that for home use.
On Saturday, we started the day by going to Crosby beach to see Anthony Gormley's ‘Another Place’ AKA The Iron Men. We wanted to get there as the tide was starting to go out. We spent a couple of hours there (it was very cold and windy! Sand got into all of our equipment - not good). I hadn't realised the statues were so spread out - a hundred over about 5 km I think. I think I got some of his message but probably not all of it.
Then we went in to Liverpool to explore a bit. Because it was so cold and windy, we decided against our Mersey Ferry trip. Years ago, over 40 years ago, we had a trip across the Mersey and I was photographed wearing a yellow jacket. One of the photography themes for this field trip to Liverpool was ‘a touch of yellow’ and David wanted to try to recreate the photo. Unfortunately, he couldn’t find it before we left so that recreation will have to wait! I'm not sure the comparison will be flattering to my current self!
It had been a while since I last visited Liverpool and it has changed a lot. David was busy taking photos and we met up in passing with some of the others in the group. I decided I wanted to go to Abakhan Fabrics so walked through Liverpool sightseeing on the way - it was quite a distance and took me past quite a few landmarks. I’m not going into detail as that’s not really the purpose of today’s post.
I first visited another little fabric store on the same street and picked up a couple of metres of fabric suitable for making Joanne some new shorts. Black and floral georgette and plain lining (the shorts have two layers). Very good value.
Abakhan is big. I didn’t really have enough time to fully explore it but I wasn’t intending to buy much of anything for me anyway. I did buy a jacket pattern. The shop has a lot of crafts - I think it must cover anything you can think of! In the downstairs section, fabric is sold by weight and I saw (yes, and bought!) a piece of beautiful lime green microfleece which will be great when I come to make Ben a bigger gilet. Orange would have been nice but there was none of that. The fleece feels lovely.
I had arranged to meet David at 3.30pm so left and chose a different route to get back to our meeting place.
I walked a lot and my step count really increased that day! Over 25k. In the evening, again quite late, we had a Moroccan meal. This was a kind of banquet with lots of different dishes and bring your own wine. This time we really weren’t drinking as I took David through one of the tunnels to the eerily empty Ferry terminal at the other side of the river to allow him to photograph the skyline of Liverpool across the Mersey. The ferries stop running at about 6pm. His photographs came out quite well though were less colourful than he had anticipated - he had seen some photos of the skyline when there was special lighting.
By this time, we were both shattered and didn’t get back to the hotel until after midnight.
The next day was home time but we decided to go via Cheshire Oaks outlet village, yes a few miles out of our way but I had heard it was good. David got a jacket (have I mentioned he absolutely loves jackets and has quite a collection?) and shoes. Long time ago, he had a Jaeger jacket which he loved. It was expensive, even though bought in a sale, and was worn to death. This jacket reminded him of that, though it was a cheaper version. He has asked me to recreate his original jacket as close as I can. Unfortunately, the jacket was long before my sewing days and we don’t have it any more. I’ll see what I can do one day! Oh, and I didn’t buy anything other than a card for Dan for her wedding which was a couple of weeks later - now in the past, it was the bank holiday weekend at the start of May.
The photography club stops from now until September. I was invited again to the end of season presentation of prizes and an interesting talk and presentation of the Lifeboat Project. The photographs we took in Liverpool, because, yes, I took some too, aren’t presented until next year around this time. I did take some but thought I'd lost my camera or had it pinched so was without it for a while - it had been in the car in full view all the time! So most of my photos are snaps on my phone. I’m considering joining the photography club with David as it is nice to have a shared interest and my attempts to interest him in golf or bridge have failed! He’s more involved with my sewing, which is nice, though he still hasn’t used his machine. He's suggesting I buy a better camera but I'm not keen. I'd rather buy an embroidery module for my machine! I'll wait and see if I enjoy the club.
Wednesday, 10 May 2017
My hair is too long and unruly at present. It’s rather flyaway. I’ve tried new shampoos but they haven’t helped. Grey hair is rather more porous and brittle than hair with natural colour. I'm not happy at all with it.
|Today - photo 1|
|Last week - you can see how flyaway it is - photo 2|
|Also last week - photo 2|
The main thing, though, is that it hasn’t been trimmed for 9 weeks and it grows quite quickly. I’d had it a bit longer than in some of the photos. My hairdresser has been unable to see me and I need to go to a new one. The question is, though - how short do I get it cut?
I’ll include photos of various options on me in real life and I would greatly appreciate your opinion. They're from various dates and not in order
|Profile photo - photo3|
|Photo 12 - recent|
Options are, I think
- To trim but make no shorter - effectively this is continuing to grow my hair. Advantages are that I can currently tie my hair back for golf. It can look very nice when just washed but quickly looks rather windswept.
- To make a bit shorter but keep the bob
- To make a lot shorter
I'd be very grateful for your opinion
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