Monday, January 30, 2012

Sewing for Alex

When my daughter was young I rarely made clothing for her.  She couldn't stand still and if I should poke here with a pin?  Forget it.  She was pretty awful.  Now, she considers clothing made by me worth standing still.   Of course she's older now and she buys her own clothing and while she is a small size and can readily find clothing in rtw, she hates cheap clothing.  She understands  the difference between cheap and well made.  Because she's a size 2 or 4 there are lots of great offerings at places like Nordstrom Rack and Neiman's outlet store both available to her in Texas.  She has an easy time finding dresses, but skirts, because she has a waist that is almost 2 sizes smaller than her hips are a harder find.  She told me that she wanted me to make her a skirt for her Chanukah present and since she was coming in to visit in November I had a muslin waiting for her.  Originally she chose a Burda Style with a hem ruffle and cb pleats in it, but  the fabric she chose from my stash wasn't  compatible.  I had a piece of black and gray coated cotton animal print that she fell in love with so we went with a simple pencil skirt. I had a 7" gray Riri zipper in my zipper drawer and  made an exposed cb zipper to jazz up the skirt a bit.  

Instead of just taking in the waist at the side seams, I added darts front and back for a more graceful transition from hip to waist.  Her fullness at the hip falls at her upper thigh, so her hip curve didn't match the pattern's.  I took in the upper hip and added a bit to her thigh area.  

  It's pretty easy to place the whole zipper on the surface of the garment  in a seam,  but I didn't want the zipper tape exposed.  I looked everywhere for a good method and if I wanted to just put it in anywhere on the skirt that was pretty easy, but how to do it in a seam, that I had a hard time finding.  I made samples and I faced the seam so that I had finished edges around the zipper teeth and a clean transition to the remainder of the seam.  
Here's a closeup of the zipper.

She is very happy with the results and she proudly tells all her friends that her Mom made it.

Friday, January 27, 2012

What's with Burda Style These Days?

I procrastinated on renewing my Burda subscription because there were just too many issues in 2011 that I hadn't made or even wanted to make, one thing from.  I finally gave in and renewed in time to get the January issue.  Is there even one thing in that issue that I want to make?  No, not happening.  February arrived and it's just as bad.  The smaller sizes are either tight and very young or they are shapeless and unflattering to anyone more than a size 36 without curves.  The plus sizes are even worse.  They are oversized and shapeless and  have weird design lines like this one:
What were they thinking with this one?  It's hard to see on the  not very plus size model, but it isn't very flattering, maybe that's why they photographed from far away.  I certainly can't imagine it on my curvy, narrow shouldered,  DD cup body.  Unless I want to add 20lbs visually.  
How about this lovely top?   Again, it's shapeless and just not flattering to most of us.  

 This plus sized cliche?  It's just too voluminous to be flattering and there are versions everywhere.

This isn't plus sized, but it's just as voluminous and unflattering, even on this skinny model.  
That was a sampling of January.  February arrived last week and honestly, there is very little in this one to love either.  The styling is better than the designs.  When I  really look at them there is little there for me.  I always ask myself if a design will not only work for my body but for my life style.  You of course may think other wise.  I can't wear pleated, narrow hemmed pants.  Talk about unflattering.  The tops are mostly oversized again and that just doesn't work for my body.  
Love the styling here, but the jacket just won't work on me.  
A basic jacket that is interesting with the front extensions, but again, not really for my body.  But, it's really not all that interesting or different.  They seem to be recycling a lot of basics and not changing them very much.  
I love this look, but again it just isn't suited for my body.  Depending on your body type you may well find plenty to like in this issue.  It's just not for me.

I found the maternity section to actually be the most wearable of anything in the magazine.  So if you are pregnant, this is a good issue for you. 
The plus section is wedding this month.  I am a little old for this, but I can't see many women in their 20's and 30's wanting to look like this at their wedding.

Nightgown anyone?  I do believe it's supposed to be a wedding dress.
If you have girls making communion or being flower girls or junior bridesmaids, this issue is for you.  There are some of the nicest children's dresses I've seen in a while.

As I get older I am finding it harder and harder to find patterns that will work for me and my lifestyle.  I'm glad I didn't take a whole year.  I'll miss Burda, or rather the old Burda, but it's an expensive purchase if I don't end up using any of the patterns.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Fitting With Kenneth King

Why do I never remember to take photos at workshops?  I don't know, so there are no photos of my wonderful day of fitting with Kenneth King yesterday.  Sew Right in Bayside, Queens has regularly scheduled classes with Kenneth.  I took the moulage class with him last year, which helped me with fitting, but I still have issues so I signed up for his fit clinic.  There were seven of us and we had to bring a muslin of our garment and a clean copy of the pattern on white paper.  I brought my second  muslin of my planned leather Moto jacket from Hot Patterns.

The moulage class didn't draft a sleeve and that's where my issues continue to be.  There were some other minor issues so I am improving.  There is a side panel to this jacket and Kenneth added a side seam, one, because it is a large piece and I am using leather, and two, he was able to  shape the side seam for a more flattering look.  He also raised the back neck  since this is an outer jacket and this will keep the wind out.  He added a little at the bust, but he just added it to cf.  Something I've never done before.  He adjusted the collar to fit. He undid the armhole and sleeve changes I had made which were incorrect.  I always find the muslin fine until I put  the sleeve  in and then it binds.  Lowering the armhole was not the solution because the whole jacket rises when you raise your arm.
I needed a little more width to the biceps.  His formula is that the amount of ease you add to your arm at the shoulder, measuring that amount snugly is the same amount of ease that needs to be added to the biceps measurement. If I've got this right, measure your armhole in the pattern and subtract your arm/shoulder measurement and that is the amount of ease that you need to add to your biceps measurement on the pattern.   I will make one more muslin and then onto the jacket.

There will be another fit clinic in April, probably on the 15th if you want to take it.  He's a great teacher and he is happy to answer any fitting question, not just about your muslin.  After marking our muslins he transferred the changes to our patterns.  Sometimes, as with my added bust room,in surprising ways.  I learned a lot from watching him fit the other women and asking questions.

 Sew Right is also offering another moulage class in February.  It's on 3 Sundays and worth every penny.  Laurie, who handles all the classes is having a hard time filling this one, so if you live in the metro area I really hope you'll give it a try.  What's better than a group of women obsessed with sewing and a great teacher?

My sweater set is finished, but I will write another post on that one.   I've  made 4 muslins on my  jeans, well actually about 7 considering my first attempt using a copied and enlarged pair of rtw didn't work and I cut my losses. I am using  Hot Patterns Dressy Jeans because the crotch shape works for me.  Currently they are about half way done, but in a corduroy for my first finished pair.  I probably should have made another muslin but I ran out of cheap denim.  I ended up making a full pattern because of my high right hip. Without pockets I don't bother, but this makes it easier to get the pockets to match.

Basically my sewing time has been consumed with fitting muslins.  It looks like I will get a great fitting pair of jeans out it as well as a  leather jacket that fits.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sewing Knits

Happy New Year everyone.  We had a quiet end of year with friends not far from home.  Great company and good food.  

For years I had a love hate relationship sewing knits.  I rarely wear blouses, mostly sweaters and knit tops.  I was tired of making bottoms and jackets but buying knit tops. Part of the problem was finding good knits to sew.  The other was learning how to sew them.  Ease in knits is kind of tricky because knits come in lots of degrees of stretch.   One pattern designer has a chart on how to figure wearing ease by the amount of stretch.  This only works if you like the  fit she thinks is right.  I also found her chart incomprehensible and my top even after making a muslin was a wadder.  I am not fond of wearing a sausage casing.  

Lately I've been watching the webcasts that Peggy Sagers has been posting on her Silhouette Pattern  site.  I used her method of wrapping the knit around your body to find the right ease for the knit being used.  Disaster.  I ruined a lovely sweater knit doing this. (This is not to say that it doesn't work, just that it  didn't work for me.  Her videos offer a wealth of information well worth your time to watch.) The best fitting method I've found for me is from Marcy Tilton's website. I fit the paper pattern and I've taken to cutting knits with 'in case' seam allowances in the fitting seams.  This seems to work the best for me.  That and basting my garment together before I sew it permanently with either my sewing machine or serger or a combination of both.  The other thing that improved my knit sewing was  buying a coverstitch machine.   I have a Janome 1000cs and I love it.   Of course the best help in sewing knits is to just sew a lot of them.  Like anything else, the more you sew the better you get.   
I used to obsess about grain, and lets face it there isn't real grain on a knit.  Knits are made in the round and cut apart after they come off the loom.  That glue edge on some knits is to keep them flat, but that is not like a selvedge on a woven.  You shouldn't use it to line up your grainline.  I used to take a magnifying glass and lay painters masking tape along one side of a knit line, which meant cutting with the right side up even when folded.   No more.   I fold plain knits in half and smooth until the fold line has no wrinkles or pulls in it and use the fold line to line up my grain.  It works and the hems are smooth and hang properly.

Finding Good Knits
The days of the independent fabric store are gone for most of us.  Unless you want to buy quilting fabric most of us have  only JoAnn's or Hancocks.  We have JoAnn's here on Long Island and I avoid that place like the plague.  The only thing I buy there is a bolt of muslin with a coupon or thread if I am desperate.  Door to door it takes me about two hours to get into NYC and walk into a fabric store.  Not an everyday occurance.  When I do go in I find knits at Mood or Elliot Berman for the most part.  I don't wear polyester knits, not straight anyway, because they make me clammy in the winter and hot in the summer.  My favorites for warm months are rayon and rayon lycra knits or a good cotton knit.  I love wool blend jerseys for warmth and softness.  All wool can be a bit scratchy.  Hands down Mood has the best selection of knits I've seen in the city.  But I buy a lot of knits online for the convenience and if I add in tax and a train ticket, it often works out cheaper for me and of course there is the time factor.  My favorites in order of how much I buy from them are Emmaonesock.  not just the quality here, but I find that her taste is compatible with mine.  I also buy knits from Marcy Tilton.  She is pricier than EOS, but her quality is good.  She also has great descriptions, as does EOS which is a big help when buying online.  I feel the most comfortable with EOS because she also has the best photography of her fabrics.  Nothing beats handling a fabric, but a good photo helps a lot.  

The last post I wrote was on fitting a Hot Patterns knit top.  I did finish it and wear it, but it still has problems.  I love that swoopy front but it is still longer than the back and I made the front hem deeper.  I don't think I'll make it again.
My current project is a sweater set using Pamela's patterns draped front cardigan.  I managed to not only cut the cardigan, but a short sleeve t shirt from a little over 2 yards.  I had to shorten the top a bit, but it was too long anyway.  I am making it from a gorgeous wool rayon jersey from Elliot Berman Fabrics that I bought from their store in  NYC.  I changed the t shirt pattern by rotating the side the dart into a French dart from the waist.  It really makes a fitting difference.  The cardigan is really an easy sew and fit.  It comes with two fronts, one for a fuller bust and one for a B cup.  What a treat.  The only adjustments I made to this pattern was to shorten the sleeves,  I have narrow shoulders and I didn't shorten them at all, so someone with wider shoulders should be aware of this.  I did make one other adjustment which was to take up the shoulder seam to reflect my sloping shoulder and my low right shoulder.  I didn't sew the underarm lower because I found it fairly low already.   I made this as a wearable muslin for some cashmere knit that I've been reluctant to cut into, but it's eminently wearable.  I should have it finished today and will post pictures soon.