Monday, June 13, 2011

CD Books. Not a Bargain

A few months ago, after I took KK's moulage class I needed to learn how to use the resulting slopers.  I wanted to use them to adjust commercial patterns so I bought Lynda Maynards cd book De-Mystifying Fit for $27.95.  Not too expensive right?  At first I used it on my computer monitor, but this is just not convenient.  When I am fitting a pattern with a new method I want it right next to me on my table.  I don't have a laptop just a netbook and a desktop across the room.  As I said not convenient.  So I bit the bullet and had it printed at Staples.  It cost me $47 to get it printed and spiral bound.  There are places that print on demand or do small runs. It's got to be less than this!  That's $74.95 by the way.  Kenneth King has a lot of cd books, several of which I have.  They are about the same price and again, you really need it printed out if you want to use them.  If you have a laptop at least you can use it on your cutting table or sit with it and read it.   On top of that, it's not all that inclusive.  In 195 pages she doesn't go past a set in sleeve.  Only after sitting with it in my lap was I really able to read it through.  It was not all that helpful with the jacket I'm making now, which has raglan sleeves, and I made an fba based on my sloper that was bigger than my usual method.  Of course, now that I've read the book I learned that I should make a muslin for each of my slopers, the blouse dress and the jacket.    Woops.  Maybe that's why the front of my jacket was too big and the back high hip not big enough.  The bottom line is that you still need another fitting book to cover what this book doesn't.

Sewing update.  Saturday was a disaster as far as sewing is concerned.  All I did was errands and try to get my phone fixed.  Bottom line is that I am getting a new one sometime this week.  Fun.
Sunday we cleaned in the morning and then I got in a couple of hours of sewing and realized that the cuff was just not working. It was just too bulky.  So, I cut it off, making the sleeve a bit shorter and after cutting down the facing, sewed it back on as a hem facing.  Not really  a lot of sewing accomplished.  Sleeves are finished and the next thing is to baste them into my jacket.  By hand and to check the fit of my shoulder pads, which I  made this weekend,  raglan shoulder pads which took some time too.  I have an old McCalls pattern dating from 1987 and boy  can you tell. Those are some big shoulder pads!  I cut them down a bit and thinned them out.  I really don't need or want 1" shoulder pads in this jacket.  I molded them to my shoulder by pinning them to  my ham and steaming and starching them into shape.  I really find it impossible to get good raglan shoulder pads.  The petal pads that I have from the Sewing Workshop were just too small for this jacket.  I like them but they are also expensive at $7.50 a pair.  A lot for shoulder pads.  If I want set in pads I make them to size from my pattern and then they actually fit my narrow shoulders.  The instructions are in an old Threads btw.  Since I have to add depth to the right pad anyway I might as well make my own to begin with.

edited to add that yes, this is the book that Kenneth King offers on his website.  I bought it from Pattern Review and got 10% off for being a member.  The book is 295 pages long.  The thing about having a book as I think Gwen mentioned, is the ability to make notes and to highlight which is just not possible with a cd book. I have 3 of Kenneth Kings cd books, including the moulage book and they are much shorter so they didn't cost so much to print.  But, honestly they are just not usable if you don't print them. There is a big difference between cd books and DVD's.  The best is to have a book like David Page Coffin's trouser book that has a printable cd in it.  

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Where are You On the Scale of Sewing?

This morning over coffee I was reading Carolyn's blog Diary of a Sewing Fanatic and she was talking about how you become an advanced stitcher, a term I found on a blog new to me, Tilly and the Buttons who's been sewing for a year and a half.  Carolyn wanted to add experience, the muscle memory of doing a task repetitively to Tilly's list of sewing objectives.  At the time I was thinking about doing a post on the joys of slow sewing.  We are often in such a hurry that we don't sew the things that make us a better stitcher(I love this term)  I have not been happy with my sewing lately, and I realized that I was picking easy, quick things to sew and forgetting the joys a beautifully made jacket.  I have learned how to make well finished pants; it's a lot easier to do them well when you aren't struggling with fit.  But, I avoid other things like making a blouse, or a dress that isn't a knit (this is partly not finding any I think would look good on me.  Doesn't help when you've had a weight gain).  Or doing the advanced techniques that I used to love doing.  I have a list like Tilly's, not the same of course, but I haven't pursued sewing anything from that list.  I have called myself an advanced stitcher, but lately I've thought about demoting myself to intermediate! 

My jacket is slow sewing and it has been a joy to work on.  I made a muslin, not something I do that often usually preferring to tissue fit, but I didn't want to have fit problems once I started sewing.  This is a teaching moment!  If you don't having fitting issues during your sewing, well it's a whole lot more fun.  I even liked all the hand stitching and basting needed for this jacket.  Basting doesn't show so it doesn't need to be perfect.  I would love to learn how to make a hand sewn buttonhole, something I've never done.  There are other things on my list that people who have much less experience do beautifully, like Peter, who's only been sewing a year and he can make  a gorgeous tailored shirt.   I need to start pushing myself again if I want to become a better stitcher.    Carolyn is right that experience counts, but so does pushing the boundaries and not being afraid to try a new technique.

Where are you on the sewing scale?  What do you need to make yourself a better stitcher, or are you happy where you are?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sewing a Princess Seam

My weekend  was spent sewing, taking advantage of the cool weather that is not lasting much longer.  I basted my silk organza underlining  to my fabric.  I've done this for silk pants and skirts, but never on a jacket before.  Lots of time, but it really gives structure to a fairly limp fabric and it doesn't flatten a textured fabric .  The next step was to sew the cb seam and the princess seams.  With my DD cup I've had issues getting a smooth bust area on princess seams.  Now, I have a fairly large sewing library and for once I looked for techniques before I ran into trouble!  For the princess seams I used a method I found in Roberta Carr's Couture The Art of Fine Sewing.

 All of the seam lines are basted so that I was able to easily see the seam line on the right side and could  fold  the side panel on the seamline and place it at on the center front seamline.  The side panel seam line is pinned in place over a ham and the bust point has more closely placed pins.   Then it was  slip basted to hold the seams together exactly on the seam.  When sewing the seam, the side panel,  the weaker seam, is placed on top so that one side is sewn from the shoulder down and the other side from the hem up.  While the whole process is more time consuming the results are worth it. 

Above is the finished seam.  Smooth and easy to sew.

Next up is sewing the side seams and then the sleeves.  Normally I think that Burda's instructions for sewing a raglan sleeve are bad.  They have you sew up the whole sleeve and set it in as if it were a set in sleeve, when really the better way to do it is to attach the front and back sleeve to the garment body, sew up the top seam and then sew the under arm to the hem in one pass.  This jacket however has and under sleeve and a facing/cuff so that I can't sew it up as a typical raglans sleeve.  Burda has you sew the top shoulder, sleeve seam and one of the undersleeve sides to it and then sew the facing on while the sleeve is open. This actually makes sense.  Then you sew up the remaining seam and set it in the round.  Harder, but the fit is better.
The alterations I made to the muslin worked perfectly.  I don't have that drag line pointing to my full high hip in back and that 1890's look  has been replaced by a nicely fitted front and the lapel roll line does not gape.  I ended up removing about an inch from the front, actually all the way down to the hem at the princess line and moved the princess seam just to the  outside of the bust point.  When we were drafting our slopers with Kenneth King tossed out a nice tip,  a garment is more flattering if the princess line falls slightly to the side of the bust point. 
I know that I have left the pants unfinished, but the jacket is fun, interesting sewing and the pants?  Utilitarian that I've done a million times.  That will sew up quickly and easily.  So back to my jacket.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Do You Get Excited About New Sewing Notions?

Atlanta Thread had a sale last month and I took advantage.   I bought the prosaic, some thread and shoulder pads.  Kenneth King likes their needle punch pads.  Then came the biggie, well moderately big, I bought a new cutting mat.  A very large cutting mat, 4'x8', that then needed a new table top to support it.  I had a 2'x 8' hollow core door from my previous sewing room. Fortunately we hadn't thrown it out.  My dh  bought me another door, 3x 8' so that I now have a 5' wide table.  Of course the doors are a nominal 8' so he's going to add a piece of wood at one end so that my lovely new mat won't hang over the edge.  This means I can cut out a 60" wide piece of fabric in a single lay without it falling off the side of my table. Of course I had to rearrange the room, get rid of my lounge chair, which was only a repository for fabric anyway, and I turned the table  90 degrees.  We set the top with an overhang on one side deep enough to comfortably in a chair. I can easily work on either side of the table, which is particularly useful for tracing patterns.  I love it!

My new jacket fabric from Emmaonesock came yesterday and  it's laid out, ready for  graining up my silk organza jacket underlining.  I can even use the counter behind me for rulers and notions I am using.

The pants part of this outfit are coming along nicely with the pants shell finished and the lining is cut out ready to sew.  I was hoping to get it done by yesterday, but work intervened.