Wednesday, December 4, 2013

From 2D to 3D

My sister joined me for a few days last week for Thanksgiving. The weather was quite awful in the area before turkey day (it was just the two of us this year so we actually made a Peruvian chicken) but I took the forced indoor time to draft a bodice and skirt sloper for J. 

I then transferred the drafted pattern onto muslin, added 2" seam allowances and then pin-fit the pieces to her body. I don't think my bodice draft was too far off of her actual body shape, but my draft for her sleeve and skirt were too long. 

I had the hardest time pinning the sleeves onto the bodice. In class last night we started fitting sleeves. I also had my bodice fitted last night, and apparently I did not do as great of a drafting job as I did for my sister's pattern. I barely had enough fabric in a couple of areas and will need to make some adjustments before my sleeve is fit next week. 

Unfortunately my sister is now back in Illinois and I can't do any more physical tweaking of the sloper on her body. Overall I think I did a decent job given my lack of experience in pin fitting- I've only watched it being done up until last week. 

Here's J all muslined up. I worked on pin fitting her left side. I still see some issues with the bust, neckline, back sleeve/bodice, and center front (although I think this problem was due to poor pinning for the picture), all of which I'll have to judiciously adjust on the flat pattern. Maybe next time she's in town I'll make a duct tape dummy. She'll just *love* that...  

It was really satisfying taking a flat pattern and adjusting it on a live body. I wish I had a custom dress form to be able to do that for myself. 

The next step is transferring the adjustments back onto a master paper pattern.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Trying a new sewing schedule

I was thinking about enhancing the efficiency of my time in the sewing room and came up with a simple schedule. It's based on activities to perform for each day of the week:

Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays: Sewing/Making up my projects

Tuesday and Thursdays: Trace, cut, alter, plan patterns/projects

Wednesdays: Writing and reading sewing blogs, tutorials, forums, books; organize sewing room

Fridays: Finishing projects

It's a very rudimentary system but hopefully it'll keep me focused.

I am taking a pattern drafting course at the local fabric store, we drafted front and back bodices yesterday. The instructor uses Connie Crawford's pattern drafting book, and took my measurements to demonstrate the process for drafting the front. I kept her draft (mine ended up pretty close) and re-drafted another bodice front and back using Helen Armstrong's book.

Armstrong's pattern is on the left, Crawford on the right, drafted by the instructor:

Here's my Armstrong back bodice: 

I was quite surprised at the squareness of my front shoulders, there was a very small slope with the Crawford pattern, none at all with Armstrong's instructions. 

The Crawford back bodice didn't have a shoulder dart. I need to re-draft that one because the waist measurements do not add up to what it needs to be. 

For class next week we're doing a review of drafting the front and back, and then working on a sleeve.

After we have all three patterns we will be sewing the patterns in muslin fabric and adjusting it on my body. 

At this point the front and back don't look like it'll come together (look at the shoulder differences!) but we've been assured it'll all work itself out when we pin and fit to the torso. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Winter 2013 6 PAC

Before 2013 comes to an end, I thought I'd make at least one blog post. I've been busy studying for my CPA exams, my first one is in 17 days! I do try to get some sewing related time in each day, even if it's just to plan or trace patterns. 

Speaking of planning, I just finished putting together my first SWAP project. I am participating in the 6 piece winter collection thread over at Stitcher's Guild. Hopefully between the winter holidays, exams, and my fun classes (I finally got into the pointed pen calligraphy class this fall!), this board will become a reality over the next few months.

I'll be making some wearable muslins for the patterns I have not made before, those are the brown and purple fabrics (the purple one is a cotton pique). The rest will be made out of either cotton or wool knits. 

The patterns:
Jalie 2795, a hoodie (in the beige sweatshirting)
Jalie 2806, long sleeve t-shirt with a gathered neckline (teal cotton knit)
Kwik Sew 1084, raglan sweater (purple ribbed wool knit)
Vogue 2759, gathered long sleeve top (the same purple wool knit? The wearable muslin will be the black cotton knit)
Kwik Sew 3988 and Silhouette Patterns 3400, yoga pants (brown wool knit)

I'm excited to have some new clothes for my wardrobe. This one is meant to be a pretty casual collection to keep me warm and comfortable during those long study sessions.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ruby Slip review

I can't believe my last post on here was back in March! With this year quickly coming to a close I'll have to make a goal to share more projects. 

I returned back to school this summer to work towards obtaining credits required to sit for the CPA exams. Hopefully by the end of 2013 I will be celebrating the completion of this entire process. Until then, my life revolves around school- which I don't mind at all. Life is relatively simple being a college student.

Speaking of academics, I plan to take as many in-residence couture sewing classes with Susan Khalje as I can next year. They are super pricey but they will be my reward/incentive for getting through the entire CPA certification process. This also means I need to put myself on a strict schedule to get my current sewing skills up to par. I want to go into these classes with a solid hand-sewing and tailoring foundation so that I can build advanced skills during my time with the masters. The first courses begin in September so I have less than a year to practice.. yikes!

In the meantime, here are some pictures and a review for my most recent garment sewing project. 

Pattern Description:
Slip with bias skirt and lace bodice. You can download the free pattern and follow the previous sew-along blog entries here:

Pattern Sizing:

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?

Were the instructions easy to follow?
The written instructions along with its photo tutorials were extremely helpful. This was the first time I have worked with lace and it definitely helped having the step-by-step support.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
This was a super easy pattern which resulted in a high-end looking product.

Fabric Used:
Italian silk charmeuse and Swiss-made Venice lace trim from Fabricmart. I also used a couple of plastic lingerie bra rings to make the straps adjustable. The lace was a bit stiff to work with and I don’t know if I would use this particular trim for this sort of application again. It softened up a little after hand washing and the slight heaviness helped the bodice maintain its shape.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I had a difficult time matching the lace motif at center front to create a seamless, mirrored look on the lace. I ended up hand stitching the front two pieces together and clipped through the back layers as well as I could. I serged the edges on all the lace pieces, top stitching the open seams to decrease the bulk. I used French seams on the charmeuse and a rolled hem foot for the bottom edge of the skirt.

I didn’t have the opportunity to fit this slip for my friend (the pattern was cut based on her measurements) so I wanted to make the straps adjustable. I used a ready-to-wear slip to figure out how these straps were attached, the smaller areas were hand stitched in place because there just isn’t a way to get in there with a sewing machine.    

Front view
Back view

Lace bodice back
Lace bodice front

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I already have some lace and silk set aside for sewing some slips for myself. So yes, I would definitely recommend this pattern to others!

I made this slip as a bridal shower gift for a dear friend from childhood. I’m thrilled with how it turned out and she was very touched that I gave her a hand-made gift. I included a bottle of Eucalan laundry wash with her package to help care for her new lingerie.

Because this was a gift, I took extra time placing, cutting, and sewing the lace and silk throughout the entire project. I think ambitious beginners can make this pattern if they’re patient with the process. It is a fabulous pattern to make some beautiful lingerie!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Fighting against the UFOs

I decided this past weekend I was going to conquer all of my unfinished projects in the sewing room this year. Fortunately I don't have too many and if I can dedicate one Sunday each month I should be able to complete (or finally dump!) these by the beginning of summer. 

This past Sunday I worked on a baby quilt my friend Carol had pieced together last summer before I left Korea. I was in charge of quilting, binding, and sending it to baby Andrew (who was born last September). I haven't practiced my free motion techniques in awhile and decided to stitch in the ditch when quilting this blanket.

I am so glad this is finally done. I still need to perfect hand stitching the back of mitered corners, the front looks pretty nice but I can't seem to create the same crisp folds on the other side. 

Preparing backing, batting, and quilt top

Stitch in the ditch

Busy backing fabric helps hide any stitching imperfections

Off to baby Andrew this will go!


Saturday, February 25, 2012

A visual how-to for cutting bias binding

I found this technique online at some point, it's definitely not my original idea. I don't remember where it came from, if any of you can help me make the proper attribution please let me know.

I like this method because it doesn't require marking the fabric and I can cut a lot of tape in very little time, especially if I start with a one yard piece of fabric. I've written brief instructions on the pictures. Please let me know if anything needs clarification.

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Step 4

Step 5

Step 6

Step 7

Step 8

Friday, February 10, 2012

Sewing Techniques Sew Along

I'm heading up a Sew Along on Pattern Review where participants will build practice samples of all sorts of sewing techniques. I'll try to take as many pictures as I can to document each process step by step. There are many ways to do the same thing in sewing, I'll be sharing what works for me.

First up... 


If the ends of my stitches aren't going to be bound within another seam, I like to back stitch the ends to prevent unraveling seams. I like to begin with needle down on my fabric (right sides together). I find this gives me better control of my fabric versus setting the presser feet down before the needle onto the fabric. The distance between where my needle goes in and the edge of the fabric to the right will be your seam allowance. In this sample, I am using a 1/2" seam allowance. There is room between the top edge of the fabric and my needle to run a couple of back stitches before I start forward stitching. Most machines have a manual back stitch lever or even an automatic stitch function, you'll have to read your machine manual to determine the steps for your specific machine.

Continue to keep the right edge of your fabric lined with the markings on the throat plate. I rarely use pins when I sew, I use my entire left hand to guide the top of the fabric and my right fingers are sandwiched between the two layers of fabric. My right thumb is facing upwards (placed under the bottom layer of fabric), my right index finger is right between the two layers, and the rest of the right fingers also face down on top of the first layer of fabric on the machine bed. (This is difficult to capture an image when you're alone, will have DH take a picture when he's around.)

When you reach the bottom edge of the fabric, take a couple more back stitches to secure the end.

Press your stitches with an iron to "set" them. There's some debate as to whether this step is necessary, I do it out of habit.

Open your seam to press it open. This pressing step is vital for professional looking results! Remember pressing is different from ironing. When you press seams, you want to set your hot iron down for a few seconds on an area and then continue that vertical up down movement throughout process. Ironing is continuously moving the iron back and forth over fabric/seam, which could stretch your fabric. Always press. And always know the heat tolerance of your textile. I am using quilting cotton for my samples so the iron is set to "high".

This is a very sturdy seam that's often found on jeans and sportswear. Men's dress shirts also use this technique. This seam is also called a lap seam. There are sewing machine feet specially made to make these seams, I'll have to show those techniques another time.

With wrong sides together, sew a straight seam. My sample seam allowance is 1/2".

Trim one seam allowance between 1/8" to 1/4" from the seam. This width will depend on your original seam allowance, I took cut mine down to about 1/8". 

Fold and press the edge of larger seam allowance up by at least an 1/8". You'll see in the next step you will be top stitching this edge down and the larger the fold the easier it will be to keep it flat. How much you fold up will also determine the width of the final flat fell seam, play around with your samples to determine what you visually like. Open up the seam with the right side facing up and iron down the seam allowance to make it as flat as possible before you take it to the machine.

When you open up the fabric to the right side, you will notice the first line of stitching you made (show on the right). Use your machine feet to help guide your top stitching, keeping as close to the folded edge as possible. I didn't bother switching my machine feet with a smaller left edge one so I am simply using the inner edge of the all purpose foot. Don't forget to back stitch the top and bottom.

Here are some pictures of the flat fell seam from some different perspectives. I have chosen to leave the top stitch open for my sample to see the insides of the seam.

The innards of a flat fell seam

Top view

From the inside
Here are some pictures of two other seams I'll cover next time, the French seam and mock-French seam.

French seam

Mock French seam