Category Archives: Sew Alongs

S2311 muslin

There are two things I want to discuss today folks.  So, buckle up! 

First, my Simplicity 2311 muslin for the sewalong.  Here’s a refresher on what the finished coat looks like (top left, the short camel version).  

S2311

I cut a straight sz 14 in heavy weight muslin (think of it as almost like painting canvas).  I found this weight to be extremely helpful to give an accurate read of how the coating would drape if a bit ravelly.  It took me forever last night to get to a point where I could try on the muslin (more on why later).  Essentially I got to the point where you attach the sleeves.  I believe they instruct you to sew them on in the flat as opposed to in the round.  But it was late and I wanted to see the fit, so I skipped that and basted the side seams.   

The verdict?  I.  LOVE.  THIS.  COAT.  I love the wide lapels.  I love the princess seams in front.  The back needs some fitting but luckily enough there’s a CB seam to play with.  I think I might take some bulk out of the shoulder blade area through to the waist, but that’s about it. This coat is going to rock!!!  I was scared of the princess seams, but they were really easy to sew.  I didn’t need to clip anything to get them to lay flat.  Weird!  The collar and lapel have a great shape and lie around my neck and shoulders beautifully.  And I didn’t even do the inside facing/over collar yet.  This is a really well-drafted pattern.   

I’ve decided that I won’t interline this coat.  I’m intending it to be a fall coat, something transitional and more like an accessory rather than true outerwear.  So, even though I bought cotton flannel for it, I am just going to use the purple wool coating and silk charmeuse lining for this coat.  But I could totally see myself making the longer version for a more substantial winter coat next year.   

I wish I had a picture of me wearing the muslin, but I was too tired and not camera ready last night, so here’s a totally craptastic shot with my iphone to tide you over.  

  

Thea is coming over tonight to help me fit the back and show me how to sew the back to the front better.  I had major problems sewing that part last night and just did a down and dirty job of it in the muslin to see how it looked on.   

And speaking of problems…  I had an awful time using my Featherweight last night.  AWFUL!!!  I almost dragged out my Emerald 183 from retirement.  I couldn’t get the bobbin to wind correctly and smoothly so my bobbin thread kept getting stuck and then breaking.  I have no idea what I’m doing wrong.  One time when it broke, something jolted the needle thread tension discs and now they are really loose.  I hope I didn’t break my “new” Featherweight.  I guess the honeymoon is over.  😦   As a matter of fact, I am probably going to un-retire the Emerald 183 to sew my final coat.  I don’t want to slow down the making of this coat due to machine temperamentality.  

Happy sewing everyone.

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Lots to Show and Tell

I’m back from the wilds of the Midwest and have lots to report.  I met my new niece Chloe who’s cute as a button.  Jack fell in love with her and was so sweet with her.  He loved caressing her little head.  So cute to see him be so tender.  🙂 

As for those of you asking for pictures of the dress in action at the wedding (ahem, Karen), sorry but no actions shots were taken.  I just was not in a dancing mood I guess, and I felt shy about asking anyone to take a picture.  Here’s my take on how the dress “wore” though.  I’m stealing the interview idea from Tasia

How did the dress look?  It looked pretty good standing still and as I was running. 

What do you mean by “standing still” and “running”?  Well, when I stood talking to people it looked great.  It was also fine as I was running to the wedding after the taxi driver dropped me off at the opposite end of the pier.  I had to sprint about two football lengths in 7 minutes with another wedding attendee.  Both of us looked mahvelous!  😉  

So how did it look sitting?  Funny you should ask actually, as that was the part with which I was most dissatisfied.  When I sat down at the wedding ceremony, my dress rode up so high pooling at my waist and thighs, almost 3 inches of my lining was left exposed for all to see.

Why on earth did it ride up so high???  Well, I suspect the underlining was the culprit.  I used silk organza because I was being all fancy.  The last time I underlined (the Christian LaCroix skirt), all I had on hand was cotton batiste, which worked, but this time I was prepared with yards and yards of silk organza.  As most of you know, silk organza has a stiff hand, which helps enormously with preventing SBS (Saggy Bottom Syndrome otherwise known as bagging out) and wrinkling.  It also has the added effect of giving the fashion fabric more body.  In the case of my Vera Wang fabric, too much body, as the brocade had body already, just needed the protection against SBS.  I should have used cotton batiste in retrospect.  *sigh*   Live and learn I guess…

Any other things you liked or disliked about this version of B5147?  I’m so glad you asked.  Dislikes: If you’ll recall, I altered the armscye to cut in towards the chest.  Boy was that a big oops and I will be putting that back in.  Now everyone has the viewing pleasure of the fleshy area between my arm and chest.  Isn’t that a great visual?  Bet you didn’t know that area could even be fat.  Likes: Love the scoop neck.  Not too deep but just deep enough.  I also pegged the skirt near the knees and really like that silhouette.  And I loved the sheathier look of widening the fisheye darts in the front of the dress; they were much more figure flattering.  I will definitely keep those changes for future iterations if there are any.

Will you make any more B5147’s?  Hmmm… Not sure.  My teacher Thea thinks that I can get a much more flattering fit with less fiddling around with a princess seamed sheath dress, so I am going to try another dress soon.  I’m considering the Simplicity Amazing Fit sheath dress, S2648.

What’s next in your project queue?  I am finally getting to my Fall coat for the Trench Sew Along.  I am making another Simplicity pattern, S5380.  I already have my purple wool, bought the purple charmeuse at the PR Shopping day a couple of weeks ago, and today I ran out to buy cotton flannel with which to interline the coat.  Not sure how much tailoring I am going to end up doing.  We’ll see how in depth I’m willing to go later.

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Ok, enough with the pseudo interview.  Do you want to see pictures of my new baby up close and personal like?  I’m talking about the Singer Featherweight 221 from 1938 that received this past weekend.  Oh boy am I excited and yet a little intimidated.  The directions on how to just thread the machine don’t make any sense to me.  It came with a bunch of feet, most of which I have no idea what they are for.  Can any of you deduce their purposes?

Original manual!!!

My very own buttonholer!!!

Slightly broken zigzagger with inscrutable manual

Here are the feet for which I have no idea of their purposes:

I think this might be a quilting guide but a slightly bent one

a ruffler perchance?

some kind of binder? if so, what kind?

Let me know if you know what feet I actually have.  Can’t wait to start playing with them all.  I am super excited about the Singer Buttonholer!!!

Happy sewing everyone!

Super-duper excited

about my B5147 morph from day into evening-wear project!!!  

So I know Robin’s been experiencing drama here and here with her first version of B5147 and I can’t keep my hands off tweaking the bodice (sounds almost r rated!). But I am excited to report that I have found nirvana with my fit for this bodice.  Here are the changes I made to the bodice to make it more fitting for evening wear (get it?  “fitting”?) AND to be more flattering fit-wise too: 

  • scooped out the neckline by 3 inches to give a more evening look.  I came at this measurement by trying on my silk twill version and measuring down from the existing neckline to where I wanted the evening dress neckline to be.
  • sculpted out the side of the shoulder strap/armscye area to give a more evening look.  Adjusted the width of the back shoulder strap to match the front.
  • widened the top portion of both fisheye darts to pull in the bodice under the girls, thereby giving a more flattering silhouette to the waist of bodice.  I am really proud of this change working out well because I just kind of eyeballed it.  No math involved!
  • increased the bust dart again by 1/4 inch on the top to reduce draglines at the side.
  • added 3/4 inch wedge below the bust dart to restore length to the side seam and maintain integrity of the hip curve after altering the bust dart.
  • pinched out a 1/4 inch of the outer shoulder seam for the front only, tapering to the inner shoulder seam to reduce gaping of the armscye.

B5147 front pattern altered with neck, dart and armscye changes

 

B5147 back pattern with shoulder strap altered to match front

 

fisheye dart widened

 

Bust dart increased and wedge added

 

I might need to tweak the following on the final dress, but will do it during construction, basting as I go: 

  • take a titch out from the front at the armscye side seam, maybe a 1/4 inch tapering to nothing at the dart to reduce armscye gaping.
  • pinch out the same amount from inner shoulder seam to reduce neckline gaping.
  • straighten up side seam after adding the wedge under the bust dart.

I should have taken a picture of the muslin on me, because I was really happy with the fit, but I didn’t insert the zipper.  I just had Thea pin up the back at the seam allowance to mimic the zipper.  Then I forgot to take a picture after we were done with our fitting.  Sorry!  Suffice it to say, that I am very happy with the fit of this dress now.  And I love that I have an evening version of this sheath dress. 

Unfortunately, I won’t have time to sew until next week as Jack and I have a very full weekend planned.   But at least I have figured out all the major stuff and can just cut and start sewing next week.  I am going to underline the brocade with silk organza as it is quite a loose weave and bags out if you just look or breathe on it.  That will add some time to the process, but it will be well worth it in the end.    

Happy sewing everyone!

Crazy!

That’s me.  Crazy Elizabeth.  Didn’t I just say that I would use a different pattern for my next sheath dress?  Well, I always reserve the right to change my mind.

In the interests of saving time and being more efficient, I have decided to use B5147 again for the dress I am making for my cousin’s wedding in early September.  I have so many other things to make besides this dress, that it just makes sense to use this pattern again.  I will, however, tweak the fit in the bodice some more to get it closer fitting.  It still gapes a little at the armscye.  And I have  noticed that a lot of the sheath wearing women at the office are wearing them really fitted.  I know I don’t have a 25 year old’s body, but I do have at least one, ahem two, assets to show off.  May as well make the most of what I’ve got.  😉 

So I will probably play with the bust darts and the fisheyes a little more and maybe consider changing the shape of the armscye/shoulder area a little.  Hopefully I won’t ruin the dress in the process.

Do you want to see the fabric I’m going to use???  It’s one of my favorites I have ever bought.  I’m such a sucker for metallic, shiny things.  Strange enough, when I bought it, I earmarked this fabric to make a dress for this specific wedding.  The fact that I am actually going to do so is probably a minor miracle. 

Vera Wang brocade from Fabricmart

From the get go, I’ve always wanted to use the wrong side of the fabric.  In the picture above, the wrong side is on the left and the right side is on the upper right.  I just love the definition of the flowers on the wrong side better.  Also, it looks edgier on the wrong side.  Take a look at the dress Lindsay T made for her daughter using this fabric.  Isn’t the fit just 100% perfect???  I love that dress!

I’m not sure if I am going to be able to get this version done by the Butterick 5147 Dress Sew Along deadline (August 13th) though.  Check out the progress people have made on their dresses at the sew along!

I’m off to pre-treat my fabric…  Happy sewing everyone!

Paralysis

After professing my love for natural fibers, I came home to sew last night and found myself paralyzed with fear, unable to sew.  I think I talked myself out of finishing my silk twill dress.  Not because I don’t think the fabric won’t be a good boyfriend and behave itself; I think it will.  But because I started thinking about the zipper.  I’ve noticed that the bottom of the zipper in my black and white bamboo skirt and in the stretch cotton chambray version of B5147 protrude a little.  I’m just not sure why.  I can’t figure it out.  And if that happens with this dress I will be very upset.  I don’t want any major flaws.  Little ones I can take because I doubt a non-sewist would notice those, but a pokey zipper?  I think everyone will notice that. 

*sigh*

I think I just have to get over this.  It doesn’t help that I’ve lost momentum on this dress since I last worked on it.  That stupid birthday week and my friend visiting put some distance between me and my dress.  In this case, distance does not make the heart grow fonder.  😉  

I have a work event tonight, so I won’t be able to work on the dress until Thursday night.  Oh, and Robin just reminded me of the natural fibers contest going on now at PatternReview.  Doing a PR contest was one of my goals for 2010.  I’m pretty excited about entering this dress into this particular contest.  The deadline is August 10th.  I definitely can make that.  Maybe this is just the kick in the pants that I need to finish this dress.  Yeah!

In other sewing news, I finally picked out my pattern for the Trench Sew Along!  The new Simplicity Fall line came out and there was a great lined coat in the line up.  I love it!!!  Check out my post at the Trench Sew Along to see the coat.  And if you’re considering making a trench or any kind of coat, please join us (just let me know in the comments and I’ll send you an invite).

Happy fearless sewing everyone!

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!!!

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)  🙂