Monthly Archives: July 2010

Still here (small update)

but not much more progress yet.  After I posted the in progress pics of the second B5147 sheath dress, I changed the darts a little, pulling up about 1cm from below the dart and incorporating it within.  That took care of the bust drag lines.  Then I jiggered the side seams until it seemed right.  I really like the fit on this dress.  Not too tight, not too loose.  I’d like it even better if I didn’t have a pooch, but oh well.  I have about an evening’s worth of work left on this dress before I wear it. 

BUT, it is/was my birthday week and now I have a friend staying with me until Tuesday.  It’s not looking good for this little dress to be finished by Monday.  But you never know. 

Until then, happy sewing everyone!

ETA: Thank you for all the wonderful birthday wishes!!!

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A Non-Tutorial on Grain and Fit Check

Thea was over this weekend to give me my remedial lesson on how to find the grain in fabric.  Until now, I have just been matching selvedges, working with a lot of knits and just plain hoping my fabric was on grain.  To be honest, things have worked out so far, but I didn’t want to chance ruining my new silk twill border print dress.  I didn’t want to spend all that time making a beautiful garment only to have it twist on me due to being off grain. 

So Thea showed me how to fray the fabric until you find the straight grain all the way up and down the fabric, meaning no threads left that are shorter than the entire width of the fabric.  Even matching selvedge to selvedge, my fabric was off grain by almost  a whole inch on one side!.  That could have put a serious twist in how my dress would have hung on my body and there would have been serious shouting!  😉  

To fray the fabric, you pull threads one at a time from one selvedge to the other side until there are no more threads to pull.  This is an easy method, but it takes a long time…  I think fraying this fabric took me at least a good 1/2 hour, maybe even 45 minutes.  And you have to find the grain for each pattern piece you cut out.  That’s a serious time commitment my friends.  But as I said earlier, it is important to cut out your fabric on grain.  Good prep work in the beginning means smooth sailing and wearing later on, so it’s worth it to put in the effort now and have no regrets later.

There is another method, but it takes some practice.  Snip into your fabric at the selvedge and pull one thread all the way out.  The difficulty with this method is not breaking the thread before you have pulled it all the way out.  Ask me how I know.  🙂   I was discussing it with Claudine over email yesterday and she suggested cutting as you go so if your thread breaks you can find it again.  Great idea!  I will definitely use that helpful hint in the future as this method is way faster than fraying the fabric.  Actually it was Claudine that started me worrying me thinking about grain issues in the first place.  Here’s an example with a pulled thread…

Ok, once you’ve found your grain, you need to adjust your fabric so it’s on grain and then you cut out your fabric!  How do you do that you ask?  Well, you use your handy dandy quilting ruler or some like thing.  Fold your fabric over enough to fit your pattern piece on it and then measure down from the pulled thread or fringe equally all across the width of your fabric pinning as you go to maintain integrity.  It’s as simple as that!

And voila!  You will then have fabric that’s perfectly on grain and ready for cutting!

Now, I need your opinion please.  I pulled a 5 hour sewing sweatshop last night and got a significant amount of my second Butterick 5147 dress done.  I basted the side seams and now need to determine if I need to make any tweaks.  Working with a non stretch fabric is very different for me especially in such a fitted dress.  Wow!  I think it might be too fitted now in the back and waist.  Here are some pictures of it basted and unhemmed.  Please let me know if I need to release the side seams a little. 

Happy sewing everyone!  And happy universal holiday too!  (it’s my birthday today and I’m going to wear my Christian LaCroix skirt)  🙂

Pattern Review – Butterick 5147

Butterick 5147

 

Pattern Description:  Lifestyle Wardrobe: Misses Jacket, Top, Dress, and Skirt. Slim fitting dress C has front and back darts, back zipper and back slit, length is 2 inches below mid-knee.

Pattern Sizing:  BB (8-14) I made the size 14 with some small alterations (see below)

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?  Yes, but not as close fitting.

Were the instructions easy to follow?  

  • Yes for the most part.  I liked the order of construction they set out as it provides a beautiful clean finish on the inside.  However they do not tell you to stay stitch the neck and my neckline stretched out.  I should have listened to my inner sewing voice and put in stay stitching.  
  • For the fish eye darts, I recommend starting the stitching line in the middle of the dart rather than at one of the two ends (thanks to my commenters for this tip!).  This allows for more accurate sewing at both ends of the dart for a beautiful taper resulting in no bubble at the tips.  Don’t forget to make your stitch length smaller at the ends of the darts! 
  • The instructions for finishing the slit with the lining and dress hem joined together are great!  I didn’t understand them at first by just reading them, but if you follow them step by step, you’ll understand.  I am visual person, so reading wordy stuff doesn’t always make directions apparent for me.  My one caveat about the slit instructions is that you should finish the raw edge of the hem long before you get to this step, like before you start constructing the dress with zigzag stitching or by serging.  Ask me how I know! 
  • One more note:  Understitching the lining of the slit is really hard to do on the machine.  It’s doable but difficult to maneuver all the fabric into just the right position.  It’s far less of a headache to just understitch it by hand and quick too. 

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? 

Likes:

  • I liked that the pattern was pretty true to size according to the measurements given on the pattern envelope. After the 6 inch debacle, it was such a treat not to have a nasty surprise when making the muslin on this dress.
  • Love this sheath dress.  I think it’s very flattering (much more so in real life than in the following pictures) and is such a great staple to have in the work wardrobe.  Depending on the fabric you use, this dress can be a statement piece or an elegant foil for some great accessories.  I think everyone looks well dressed in a well-fitting sheath dress.
  • I love this neckline.  It’s not too high, not too low.  I hate necklines that are high and rest on my clavicles (I feel like I’m being strangled!), so this neckline is just right for me and Goldilocks.

Dislikes:

  • None!

Fabric Used:  I just bought this fabric from Paron’s last weekend.  I am so proud of myself for using it within a week of buying it.  It’s a stretch chambray.  Not to get all philosophical on you, but I liked the juxtaposition of using a traditional work horse fabric for an elegant sheath dress.  I wore it with pearls today and I think by accessorizing the dress like it was made with silk really elevates the fabric from it’s humble origins.  I love chambray; it’s so soft and comfy.  I do have to mention, however, that I am not a fan of stretch wovens so far.  They are a little tricky to work with as they grow as you handle them.  I had to take in the side seams to accommodate the growth during construction, despite having made two muslins beforehand.  Also, the feel of the fabric doesn’t feel as natural as a plain cotton would, a little rubbery.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:  During the muslin stage, I had Thea help me with fitting, as I mentioned in my last post, the changes we ended up making were not even close to the ones I thought I would make.  I thought all I needed was a swayback adjustment, but we took out an inch from the shoulders of the back pattern piece.  The strange thing about this was that it didn’t significantly change the shape of the armscye AND I didn’t need to add that inch back in at the back hem.  Go figure!  Then added a ¼ inch at the side seams to add a full inch of ease to the dress.  Also, my left hip is not as curvy as my right, so I straightened that curve and took it in another ¼ inch to fit my hip better.  As I mentioned above, my stretch fabric grew with handling so after I basted in the side seams, I had to take in both side seams another ¼ inch again to accommodate the fabric.  The only further changes I might consider making is making it a little more fitted like it seems to be on the pattern envelope.  But I will decide this after wearing it for a full day.  It’s comfortable as is now, but maybe a little more fitted might be even more flattering?  Who knows.  It could just end up emphasizing the pooch and who wants that?  Not me!  I wish I worked with people who sewed, so I could ask their opinion.  *sigh* 

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?  This dress  was made as part of the Butterick 5147 Dress Sew Along that Carolyn and I started (still going on for another few weeks – please join!)  It was on my list to try as a potential TNT (tried n true) pattern for my work wardrobe.  Since I consider it a success, I will definitely be sewing it again and again.  There are only two pattern pieces and four darts.  Can it get any simpler than that?  I definitely recommend it to others.  I think it will flatter most figures after adjusting for each individual’s fit.  And the directions are great (aside from leaving out a couple of important steps mentioned above).  I definitely think a beginner could handle this pattern if they have a good sewing reference sitting beside them. 

Conclusion:  This dress has become my second TNT in my TNT quest for a work wardrobe.  I love the fit, the elegant silhouette, and the fact that the fabric is the star of this pattern.  You will not look like you are making the same dress over and over if you use vastly different fabrics.  I plan to make this again right away using my new silk twill border print (also bought at Paron’s during the same visit last week).  Can’t wait!!!!!  Also I absolutely adore the jacket included in this pattern.  I hope to make that sometime in the near future.  I have a lot on my plate now, but that jacket is definitely on my horizon.

Now for some pictures…  Thanks to my sister taking them this morning even though she was rushing to get out the door!  This is how I wore my dress at work today.  I don’t have any construction pictures as I didn’t do anything too different or awe inspiring to document them.  Besides, this dress is all about getting the right fit, not how you hand sew the hem. 😉 

I’m going back to remedial sewing school with Thea this weekend and cutting out my precious silk twill under her wise tutelage.  I had some grain issues with my first iteration of this dress and I don’t want to chance ruining my silk twill dress.  Hopefully, by this time next week, I will have another new Butterick 5147 dress to show you all!

Happy sewing everyone!

Some progress

I made some good progress on my first iteration of Butterick 5147 this week.  I cut into the stretch cotton chambray and started sewing it.  Since I noticed that the neck was looking a little on the gapey side, I basted the side seams to check the fit of the dress.  Intellectually, I know that different fabrics will behave differently with the same pattern, but the reality of it still annoys me a little bit.  I would like one thing in life to be a little predictable please! 

I remembered to make the left hip side seam a little straighter on the curve having used tracing paper to copy both seam lines (the straighter for the left side and the curvier for the right side) on my muslin pattern piece.  That side fit perfectly.  Yeah!   But, surprisingly, I needed to reduce the right side as well.  Go figure.  I guess this stretch woven needed a little negative ease for this pattern.  Live and learn I guess. 

Trying it on, I was pleasantly surprised with how this dress looks.  It looks just like a real dress!  It always seems like a miracle when something I sew actually looks like it’s supposed to look.  So funny.  I just don’t trust my skills yet.  And there’s something about the process where it’s hard to see the forest for the trees.  You’re concentrating on this tiny detail like the bust dart and worry that it’s too pointy, and then you try it on and the whole is more than the parts.  A minor miracle.  I love it!

See for yourself; some in progress shots of the as yet unfinished dress (again fuzzy pictures — stupid camera)…

I still have to do the following before I can wear this dress to work:

  • sew the back seam of the lining
  • attach the lining to the zipper
  • hem the lining and the dress (not sure if I am going to hem the dress by hand or not)

I am pleased with the fit of the dress, aside from the neck gaping issues which cannot be helped at this stage of the game.  I have minimal drag lines at the bust.  And the dress is comfortable to wear and sit in; so the ease is spot on.  It wears very differently than the muslin though, in a good way. 

I am dying to try this pattern in a regular woven next.  But I think I need remedial lessons on cutting on grain.  I am booking Thea pronto.  I tried so hard to cut the lining on grain and thought I was successful, but in working with this dress, it became immediately apparent that I did not cut it on grain.  *sigh*  Of all the different tasks one has to do to sew a garment, finding the straight of grain is my least favorite and most time-consuming task.  *double sigh*

Happy sewing everyone!

Accidental fabric purchases

A friend was in town from Canada today and I gave her a tour of the garment district.  Knowing that I will be shopping again soon (fyi, there’s a NYC PR Shopping day on August 28th, check it out!), I was very frugal.  Honest!  I only bought two fabrics, invisible zippers and a separating zipper for Karen.  Oh and I got a twin stretch needle!  Yippee!

For some reason, my pc ate my picture of the stretch cotton chambray I bought and I’m too lazy to take it and download it again (my pc is really old and crotchety, just like me).  This will be used for my first iteration of Butterick 5147.  I finished the second muslin last night and I love it!  Now I just have to decide if I want to use cotton batiste as the lining or not since I want to be able to wash this dress and not dry clean it.  Hmmm….  Game time decision I think.

The second fabric I bought I almost didn’t buy.  It was a little on the expensive side for me at $18/yd, but the cutter game me $2 off per yard, so it was definitely worth it in the end.  It’s a silk twill border print.  It just spoke to me right away.  I am really into silk twills lately.  I just love the hand, the feel, and the drape.  What’s not to like about silk though right? 

But enough of the wordy stuff… Here’s the picture of my latest beautiful fabric.

silk twill from Paron's

Happy sewing everyone!

Muslin Surprise

Thea was over last night and we worked on fitting my muslin for the B5147 dress.  Remember how I said that it probably only needed a swayback adjustment?  Well, I was completely off the mark.

If you will recall, I needed to set in the zipper better, so I basted that in more accurately and tried it on again.  As soon as I saw it on me again, I knew no swayback adjustment was necessary.  Then Thea went to work on helping me fit the muslin.  Here’s what we did:

  • raised the back 1 inch (need to remember to increase the bottom by one inch to compensate)
  • added 1/4 inch at the side seams for a total increase of 1 inch
  • my left hip is much straighter in shape than my right hip so I straightened the curve and took in that side seam a little more because it was pooching out
  • lowered the bust dart about 3/4 inch and changed the angle a little lower as it was too high for my bust
  • raised the hem by about 6 inches (man! this dress is long!)
  • changed the back sleeve shape decreasing it about 3/8 inch
  • decreased the side seam under the arm about 3/8 for a closer fit (might add some back as it’s a little tight across the back)

Here’s what the muslin looks like so far.  We only made the changes to one side of the muslin (my left, your right as you look at the picture), although we let out both side seams and raised the back on both shoulders originally.

It looks pretty good as is now, but I still want to tweak it a little further.  I think I overfitted in some areas and removed too much ease.  While I can still sit down in the dress, it’s a little too fitted looking and for my liking.  Also, I still have drag lines pointing to the bust.  I have solution to that (see below).  So here’s what I have to do next:

  • add an inch to the hem of the back pattern piece to account for raising the back
  • add a complete 5/8 SA to the pattern pieces since I let out the side seam by a 1/4 inch
  • add back in a pinch at the left hip SA due to over fitting
  • add a little less than 1/8 inch to bust dart tapering to the point
  • add back about 1/8 inch to under arm SA to get better ease for the back
  • now that the back is raised, I have to cut down the back neck 1 inch to the original placement

So once I have made all those changes and check the fit one last time, I am ready to use this muslin as my pattern.  Once I’ve made sure all the marks are made, I can cut out my good fabric.  I still haven’t chosen which fabric I will use to make my first iteration of this dress.  So many to choose from!  But that’s a happy problem.  And folks, yes, this will be my TNT sheath dress pattern.  I love it!!!

Thoughts on the fitting process: 

  • I’m really glad that I had Thea to help me fit this dress.  I would never have known to raise the back at all; it would not have occurred to me in a million years.
  • I think you really need a fitting buddy, preferably someone who is knowledgeable, if you’re a beginner like me.
  • the change you need is never the one you think of initially, at least for me.  This is NOT intuitive for me at all.
  • It’s almost never just one change.  One thing leads to another to another.  😉 

But the most important lesson learned?  Fitted garments are flattering, no matter what your shape!

Happy fitting everyone!

Pattern Sale Alert!!!

Joann’s has Butterick patterns on sale for 99 cents apiece starting July 18th through the 24th. 

Butterick 5147

Get thee to Joann’s and buy Butterick 5147 and join our sew along!!!