Monday, March 30, 2009

Some Progress

Gwen asked me if I had ever used the Palmer Pletsch method for fitting pants. I have, and had mixed results. I decided to give it a try again and I think that I have solved the front crotch issue!!! I cut off the cut on fly to make it easier to fold back the cf sas. I cut into the crotch curve front and back and taped well. I could see that the shape and depth was causing problems, so I adjusted it until it looked right. I'll make quick muslin to test it out. Kenneth King says that a wearable muslin is an just an expensive wadder, or something like that and I do agree. I have lovely spring fabrics that I have no desire to ruin, so another muslin it is. I even managed to get to Jo Ann's before my 50% off coupon expired and bought a bolt of the muslin I wanted.

I spent yesterday afternoon cleaning and dusting my sewing room and studio. We're painting, or rather dh is painting, the living room, working his way around. The knee wall in my sewing room is the upper wall in the living room, everything, but the upstairs bedrooms are open to the lower level. When they originally painted the walls in this house the painters apparently watered the paint down and we are still having issues. The paint has peeled off in large sheets when we've painted, though not all of it each time we've painted. So this time, he is hitting it with a putty knife and making sure that the paint is either really stuck or taking it off. Big mess, and the dust is all over the place. Hence my upstairs dusting. Not that it didn't need it anyway. I'll usually do anything to avoid cleaning.

You can see where the paint has come off the sheetrock. As I said, a big mess.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Progress on the pants front

All I have left to finish on my pants are the waistband and hems. I made one muslin and thought that I had figured out the changes. If only that were true. I made them up in an inexpensive cotton and lycra woven. I had deepened the cf too much, so I ripped the inseams and took out quite a lot from the front to shorten up the crotch curve. So, I put it back in the pattern. Then I realized that I needed much more room in the back so that they won't pull down at the center back. They are wearable, but not 'perfect' so I'll finish them and make another muslin, trying to figure out how to solve my front crotch issues. The funny thing is that I don't have this issue in rtw, but in rtw the back is always sagging. I get what I call a pleat radiating out from below the zipper bottom down each leg. It is better than it was. Any suggestions would be helpful.

Next up are finishing some UFO's for some instant gratification and less frustration.

Monday, March 23, 2009


I have been using a tnt pants pattern that I made from Hot Patterns Razer pant for years now. It doesn't really look like it any more, but the back L shaped crotch is a really good shape for me and is easy to customize. However, that was when I was thinner and just adding to the side seams was not doing it any more. I had also tried to fine tune some imperfections and ended up making it worse. So, I started almost from scratch with a version of the pant and a new muslin. I pulled out my Threads, issues 119 and 122 for Joyce Murphy's articles on pants fitting. I am a total convert to her method and gave them a good reread. Well no wonder my pants didn't fit anymore. I needed more body space and instead of just dropping the back crotch for my lowered butt, I needed to really take it in all the way up to the waist. Or, on the pattern I needed to remove some of the pattern at cb, taking it down into the crotch and disappearing it before I got to the crotch point. This in effect gives me a lowered back crotch which you can really see in my pattern, and the needed room. Remember that if you take out some of the pattern at cb, you also give yourself more crotch length which I really needed at cb the waist. If you just try and add it to the top you will get wrinkles below the rear end. You really do, especially if you have a flat rear end like I do. Since this makes the circumfrence of the pant smaller, what you remove from cb you need to add at the hip blending into the thigh. I also needed more room in the front, which gave me added crotch length that I needed there as well. It works.
Here is a picture of my pants pattern. You can see where I added to the side seams. If you click on the photo a nice big one will open.

You'll also notice that I have added 2 darts to the front and one to the back. I actually had three in the back too, but when I made my flat tuchas adjustment the one closest to cb became very narrow, so I divided up the middle one and added to each dart and took off a small amount at the waist. I have a high rounded hip and a good 10" between my waist and upper hip. It is too short a curve to sew well. When I made my muslin, I only had a small amount of extra fabric between my knee and tusch( I long ago took some of this out) so I used this very good and easy method from Ann Rowley. I have used several different methods for this, and this one is pretty much the easiest, espesially if you don't have much to remove.
Next up. The pants on me. I am trying to decide if I want to add a regular waistband or make or face them. It is much easier to adjust pants with a waistband. We'll see

The deer are out in force these days. I have seen small herds every day, and Saturday they boldly stared us down almost up to our deck. Time to start spraying. Mr Nicky, our almost 17 year old dog is just too old to chase them any more.
I think that I need to plant some blue or purple crocuses under my Hamamelis. I will have to plant them in cages or if I can find some, big coffee cans (we buy beans) taking out the top and bottom so the voles don't eat them. That's why I don't have any anymore. But they bloom at the same time and would look very lovely together.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Patch Pockets

If you click on the photos they will open up larger

I have seen a number of methods for attaching a patch pocket, but I like the one I used on my coat the best, It is much sturdier than sewing them on by hand from the back. I found it in Roberta Carr's book, Couture the Art of Fine Sewing.
After years of overdue fines at the library I finally bought this one. The fashions are really heinous, but the techniques are fabulous with really good instructions.
I thought that I'd add a tutorial on how I constructed the pockets on my coat. This is probably more
time consuming than putting them on strictly by hand, but they are much sturdier, and you won't fear ripping them out when you put your hand in your pockets.

Make a template of your pocket without sas so that you can use it to press your pocket later.
Cut out your pocket, making sure that it is perfectly on grain.
Mark the fold line for your facing and interface the facing, leaving it out of the seam allowances. You can interface the whole pocket but don't include it in the seam allowances.

Cut out a piece of straight grain lining fabric larger than your pocket. Seam it at the top, leaving a 2" opening for turning. If you don't do this you won't be able to turn it later.
Now lay the pocket over a ham and steam press in the shape.

Pin the pocket to the lining and trim the lining to match. Open it out and trim 1/16 to 1/8" of the edge of the lining fading to nothing by the fold. This means that you will trim a bit of the facing too.

Now turn it right sides together and, pin at right angles to the edge and sew in a large basting stitch. Press as sewn and do not trim the sas yet.

Turn the pocket right side out and press the edge. Work carefully and patiently, to get it into shape. Don't press into the pocket so that you don't mark the seam sas that hasn't been trimmed yet. Use a damp press cloth and the tip of the iron. I was careful to use a double side wool and canvas press cloth with the wool side down to keep my nap from getting crushed.

Remove the basting stitches and open it so that it lies flat. The photo on the upper right shows the pocket open with the template in place. You can press it to a sharp crease now from either side. You'll need to shrink the curved bottom corners now. The template prevents the sas from showing or from shrinking the pocket itself.

Now is the time for topstitching or adding a buttonhole. If using topstitching, trim fashion fabric close to topstitching. Trim fashion fabric in sas, but not the lining allowances.

Place the pocket on the coat, making sure that it is not perfectly flat, but leaving a bit of slack to make sure that you can get your hand in the pocket. With the lining down in place on your jacket or coat, pin perpendicular to the edge. Using 16 stitches per inch or 8 per centimeter, sew along the fold for half an inch turn the corner for 1/2" to secure the corner and then edgestitch the rest of the lining on at a normal stitch length. Finish the second corner as you did the first. Tie off the thread. Now you can trim the sas on the lining. Fold down the pocket over the lining and pin in place. Slipstitch the pocket to the coat making sure that none of the lining will show.

Friday, March 20, 2009

No Sewing But a Great Garden Documentary

Last spring we were in Asheville, NC for our son's graduation and actually managed to fit in a trip to the art cinema in downtown. We have family in Asheville, but we had never managed to fit in a film here before. It is owned by the same man who owns The New Morning Gallery, Bellagio ( an art to wear gallery with very high end clothing and jewelry), The Blue Spiral Gallery, which specializes more in art instead of crafts, another clothing store that wasn't open yet for less expensive art to wear and this great little theater. He is a one man art scene in Asheville, and when I first started going down there he was pretty much it for better quality crafts. The film we went to see is a A Man Named Pearl, a great little documentary that is being shown on HGTV Sunday night. Here in the Northeast, at 8 pm.
Pearl lives in a small South Carolina town where he created a fabulous fantasy topiary garden. It and he are just amazing. I don't plant topiary, it's not my style of garden, but this is art. It reminded me of Watts Towers. It was created by a man with no horticulture or art background out of discarded plants he found on the garbage heap at a local nursery. Now there are 3 and half acres of gardens that people from all over visit. Take a look and I think that you will be as utterly charmed as we were.

In the garden vein, here is a parting shot of my Hamamelis x intermedia Arnold's Promise . A favorite witch hazel that I plant in the entrance gardens of many of my clients. This will bloom through a covering of snow as it did a couple of weeks ago and go on blooming 5 or 6 weeks here on Long Island. In front of it are my Helleborus orientalis, Lenten Rose, just starting to bloom, but I don't expect a great show this year as I just divided and planted them here last fall.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Taking the plunge

To quote Shannon of Hungry Zombie Couture, I decided to join the cool kids and start a blog. Mind you, I have never been cool in my life, but it would be nice to associate with the cool crowd. I have become addicted to sewing blogs in the last few years. I check my favorites almost every day and they have inspired me, taught me and brought me into a world of sewers even though I don't know anyone in real life who sews.

The Great Coat Sew Along.

I joined the Great Coat Sew Along last spring. It is now March and I finally finished my coat after a series of misadventures and delays. I started having serious shoulder problems last summer and finally had surgery in November. Then of course there was physical therapy. I finally cut the coat (after 2 muslins) in mid January. Delayed again by the need to have a summer wardrobe for a trip to Florida in January. Whew. Anything it seems to avoid making this coat. But, I finish it I finally did.
I took pictures during the construction in case I decided to take the plunge and start a blog.

Here is my yellow coat. When I first planned this, I was all set to make a camel colored coat. and decided that that was just too boring. So I found this yellow double faced wool at Manhattan Fabrics it isn't dull, that's for sure. I just need to get used to wearing something so bright!

It is oop V8306

It is a Very Easy Vogue and I do not love these very easy patterns. They leave out better tailoring details to make it easy I guess, but some things they leave out really don't make it harder.
There is a back slit in the longer jacket which you are supposed to line up to the edge. Duh. Who does that? Even a back slit in a skirt has at least a fold back facing. In a coat, it should be designed as a vent. I left it out in any case because I don't like them in what is essentially a carcoat.
The pattern has you only interface the undercollar, and facings. I added interfacing to the upper collar, the center front, side front and the upper back. I also interfaced all the hems. None of the patterns show this any more and it is an easy add and should be done on almost everything.

I added patch pockets, instead of the inseam pockets called for. I did not need any more width at my hips. I used Roberta Carr's method and it looks like the pockets are sewn from the back, but actually the lining is machine sewn (on the left in this picture) on and the pocket folded down and slipstitched on. It is much more secure.

I'll be working on a new tnt pants. I gained enough weight that the old one isn't working for me anymore.