Day #2 – Fabric Shopping

img_3481This I learned: A vast majority of the population knows nothing about the fabrics they wear every day. 

Today’s sewing activity was a fabric shopping trip with a client to a nearby Joanns. We drove over an hour armed with a pattern, coupons and lunch money in search of knit fabric for a Cashmerette Concord or a Cashmerette Turner.  I did not realize there is so much knowledge involved in selecting fabrics.

For the non-sewist, fabric is a multitude of colors and designs. A non-sewist takes no care as to whether the fabric is knit or woven, machine wash or dry clean, lightweight with lots of drape or heavyweight and stiff. I never realized non-sewists were like this.  I am a third generation seamstress.  I’ve never known a day that I was not aware of the fabric content and care method of the clothes on my back; never not known what type of fabric a garment should be constructed of to be comfortable and wearable.

So, there in the apparel fabric section of Joanns, I conducted a mini private lesson on apparel fabrics.  Let me add, this is a lesson that is best taught in a fabric store because fabric shopping is all about touch and feel.  I honestly do not know how anyone less than an accomplished sewist can shop fabric online.

Let me just say, fabric shopping is my happy place!

Advertisements

Day #1 – Curvy ‘Mingos

Flamingo knit

On this, the first day of September, I was inspired to sew and sew and sew.  While working on a client’s custom garment, I discovered some fabric that would be perfect for my curvy young friend.  The school year has begun and her back-to-school shopping yielded nothing but frustration and some awkwardly fitting uncomfortable clothing. A t-shirt dress with a wide billowy shape constructed from this lightweight cotton knit seemed to be exactly what the young lady needed. Knits are not commonly found in my nearby fabric shops, being in the heart of quilt country as I seem to be. I was lucky enough to stumble onto this for her and it screamed at me to become a curvy tween diva dress.

I updated her measurements and altered a “big 4” Girls Plus pattern bodice from a party dress.  Initially, I did what amounts to a pivot full bust adjustment (FBA) using her measurements.  I pivoted the bodice, adding 1 1/2 inches and then altered the rest of the bodice by re-drawing the side seams out to match her measurements at waist and hip.

I stitched up a fitting muslin and tried it on her.  There was an excess of fabric in the armpit but the fit was close enough and I set about cutting out the flamingo pieces. This I learned: always create a pattern based on the latest alterations. How do I know this? I did not do re-draw the pattern and I completely ruined the cutest fabric and an adorable dress for a young lady.  When I cut out the garment for the second time, on the flamingo fabric, I totally forgot to pivot it for the FBA.

To add insult to injury, I did not realize it until the t-shirt dress was complete and on its way to the recipient.  Suddenly, it hit me like a lightning bolt.  I was admiring my talented stitching, my wrinkle-less neckband, and my label attached at the hem. It was all beautiful and had no hopes of ever fitting her.

<Heavy sigh>  It’s a good thing I have 30 days to get this right!

#30DAYSEPTSEWING

As I shared on my Facebook page and my Instagram account, I will be challenging myself during September, National Sewing Month. It is time to “sew up or shut up” about my sewing.  I need to force myself to either make sewing my profession or let it remain a hobby.

Every Day in September, I will sew or do some sewing-related task such as pattern drafting,  designing sewing patterns, teaching sewing classes or some yet undiscovered sewing activity. Flowery verses on scenic backgrounds all over the internet proclaim that a person can find happiness by doing something they enjoy every day so why not give it a try?

I plan to blog each day’s efforts after posting the pics on my social media acconts. This will challenge me to practice the writing skills that I think I posess in hopes of making writing an easier, less daunting task.  I nothing else, I will learn a few things about sewing, writing…….and about myself.

Dritz’s Soft Comfort Thimble: A Review

Dritz's Soft Comfort ThimbleI am on a never-ending quest for the perfect thimble. The new Soft Comfort Thimble from Dritz comes very close to satisfying me.  After giving this thimble a try, I put some time and thought into how this new thimble compares to other thimbles available on the market.

I am very demanding when it comes to thimbles. I have high expectations when it comes to a thimble’s comfort, durability and effectiveness.  My hands are not designed for sewing. They are thick and large and I feel like I am the perfect picture of a person who could be described as “ham-handed”.

Thimbles are round. My fingers are not, so therefore, I value a thimble that will conform to the shape of my finger.  The Soft Comfort Thimble is made of a flexible rubber-like substance that molds to my finger along with being vented to allow for air circulation that reduces sweating. This allows the thimble to be very comfortable and maintain a snug, non-slip fit. I bought a large and it was a tad too snug. I usually wear a medium size thimble, as a large is too big.

This thimble is one-sided with a hard plastic pad that sits against one’s finger tip pad.  This pad is dimpled with deep indentations that are designed to capture the eye of a needle and discourage needle slippage.  I like this pad though admittedly it took a little time for my finger to adjust to mentally judging for the added distance from the actual tip of my finger. The pad plastic tip is a tad too thick for my taste but I think I could eventually become accustomed to it. This thickness added to my reassurance that the eye of the needle would not pierce the thimble which is something that occurs often with hands as large as mine. That being said, I found myself an hour later in the kitchen preparing lunch with the thimble still on my finger.

The “hard, textured tip” works wonderfully well.  I jabbed the eye of my needle into my ring finger but it was my own fault.  I did not have the needle in one of the dimples.  I discovered I am a needle “side pusher”.  There are not enough dimples on the sides of the thimble to capture the needle and secure it for side pushing with one’s finger.

All in all, I am adopting this as my new favorite thimble.

Score:  4 buttons (stars)

Pro’s:

  • very comfortable
  • vented for air circulation
  • lightweight
  • good value for the price

Con’s:

  • not designed for side pushing
  • dimpled pad is too thick

My First Concord

10629842_10101384179944609_5396031717182495646_nNow that I have some other projects out of the way, I finally found the time for some selfish sewing and testing the Concord T-Shirt from Cashmerette.  I have not been this excited about a pattern or collection of patterns in a very long time.  I am so tired of trying to find some way to alter a standard B cup bodice to fit around my girls, 50F’s.

Using a coupon code, I ordered the paper printed version of the pattern.  As large as I am, I knew there would be no way I would have the patience to tape that entire grid of pages together.  Let me say that was a very good decision.  The paper pattern comes in a nice card stock envelope and the instruction booklet is of better quality than necessary.  It was worth the extra money.

I began by tracing a size 28 with the G/H cup size on some very thin scrap sew-in interfacing.  I graded the pattern up to what I estimated was a size 32 with a 62 inch bust.  I don’t like my tops to have negative ease so I tended toward the larger size.  I graded the waist out to 56 inches.  I chose the v-neck, the long sleeve and the tunic length.

My fabric was what I hoped would be a wearable muslin.  It was some sort of stretch terry that I found in the Spot-A-Bolt sale last winter at my local Hancock Fabrics.  (Let’s all pause for a moment of silence for Hancock’s untimely demise.  Sadness!)  I usually snap a pic of the bolt end while I stand in line at the cutting table but when I cataloged this fabric into my stash I could not find it.  For the first time in my life, I had the forethought to check for placement of motifs in the fabric to be sure they did not line up with any prominent body parts.  I think I was successful.

Results:  I am very pleased with this pattern!  It gives me so much hope for sewing garments that will look good on me.  I am not a fan of sewing knits but this one turned out fabulous.  I have some tweaks to make on the final tracing of the pattern pieces.  As one can see in my pic, the v-neck is too wide on my shoulders.  It is also too long for my liking but that is an easy fix.  I will simply re-draw it based on an old tried-and-true method for drafting v-neck t-shirt necks that I learned many years ago in a serger class.

The sleeves fit very well with the exception that they are too short.  Nothing but a tall man’s shirt has ever had sleeves long enough for me so that was expected.  I will add two inches in length there and I will be good. The most powerful thing is the shirt fits well around the girls AND fits around the abdomen!

I was so encouraged that I promptly purchased Cashmerette’s new Harrison shirt pattern.  My favorite thing to sew is creative blouses using quilter’s cotton.  There are so many colors and design possibilities.   If I can get a basic tried-and-true button-up woven shirt pattern, the world is my oyster!

 

My New Side Gig

screenshot-2016-11-28-at-9-23-54-pmSorry about the absence from posting but I found something new!

I found Fiverr.  After all of my research on digital sewing patterns over the past year, I felt I had a future dealing with digital patterns but I had no idea how.  I researched patterns, tested patterns, and wrote patterns.  I feel I have a lot to say about what makes up a good pattern and there are so many patterns out there in the digital world that fall very short. On a whim, I listed my services as a digital sewing pattern proofreader and editor.

Within three days, I had a client…..an honest-to-goodness paying client!  Several edited patterns later, I feel like I have found my niche.  Now, let me explain.

The sewing/quilting/craft publishing world is very different as I have learned from my research.  Patterns are proofed and edited only at the discretion of the author/designer.  Patterns are often sent out to pattern testers whose responsibilities are to construct the item in the pattern.  These testers are generally home sewists who concentrate on the construction and pattern accuracy.  They are not interested in terminology, consistency, or checking for important details that will make the pattern much more usable for the consumer. That is where my service comes in to play.

There are many details that make up a good sewing pattern and we all know that the quality of a pattern will lead to sales for the designer.  For example, does the .pdf pattern print accurately, does it include an accurate list of materials that are required to construct the garment or the bag or the stuffed animal?  Are all tools required in the creation of the item listed or does the consumer reach page 4 of the instructions to be stopped by a need for a sewing notion that was completely unexpected? Does the designer refer to the leg in the assembly instructions but have the leg labeled as “lower limb” on the pattern pieces?  If one doesn’t think that is a problem then one only has to go as far as the closest sewing community on Facebook to gauge sewists frustration with poorly written patterns.

Anywho, I love it!  I have a passion for it and a sincere desire that more pattern designers would hire an editor or proofreader (any proofreader, not just me) before they post that .pdf pattern out there on the web.  I’ve purchased several patterns that had never been proofed.

 

 

Goldilocks & the Three Blouses

Remember how the fairy tale goes…….

-This blouse is too small. (Pardon me while I spare you a visual of that.)

-This blouse is too big.
IMG_2019
My mother destashed this crisp watermelon red seersucker and it screamed “Hawaiian shirt” to me. (It doesn’t help that I have been binge-watching Magnum P.I. episodes.) I pulled out my best men’s Hawaiian shirt pattern and cut the largest size. I decided that I needed a little more space in the bust area so I pivoted the side seams on both the front and the back piece to add a couple inches to the finished bust measurement. The result, as you can see, is a comfy, oversized South Seas-inspired garment. Yes, it fits. Yes, it goes around my bust easily which is often a rarity. Unfortunately, the blouse is too big and does nothing for my shape. It is a men’s pattern so that is to be expected. I will wear this but I think I can do better. They say third time is the charm, right?

-This blouse is just rightIMG_2021!
The next garment on my To-Do List was a blouse made from this navy blue and white striped seersucker with crabs embroidered all over it.  The little red crabs have on white sailor hats.  They are cute! Yes, I’m sure this fabric is intended for children’s wear but I have always been a sucker for seersucker and the motifs add just enough whimsy to suit my quirky personality. This is one of three embroidered seersuckers in my Fabric Stash. I pulled out another older tried-and-true pattern from the Pattern Stash.  

My goal is to create a well-fitting blouse and then repeat it in different fabrics and with variations for a complete wardrobe of exciting blouses to be paired with basic bottoms such as capris, leggings, skirts or jeans. The sailor crab blouse in my mind had a white collar and white sleeve cuffs top-stitched in red thread.  The cuffs did not make it to the final version but that is okay.  I like this blouse.  It feels good on and I don’t think it looks too big and boxy like the Hawaiian shirt.

The important thing is I believe I have finally found the basic blouse pattern I am looking for.  I have altered many patterns with a traditional full bust adjustment(FBA) and it has always been an epic fail.  See, in the fine print, it will tell you that an FBA is good for someone who does not need more than 2-3 inches additional width.  I exceed that range by a large margin.  An FBA for me results in a very large dart or two large darts on each side of my bust along with an extra thickness of fabric located in a spot where friction can be a problem.

I studied the use of pivoting darts also.  I never found that to be a viable solution.  In leafing through some older patterns, I came upon some older blouse patterns from years ago when I was sewing my own clothes.  These blouses all had blouse fronts and backs gathered or pleated to the yoke.  This seems to be a design method that is currently out-of-style. I remembered fondly several blouses that I stitched up back in those days.  It made sense to pull out this pattern and pivot the dart and hide any bust alterations within the gathers at the yoke.  That thought process rewarded me with this blouse.  I love this blouse.  I will make more.  I have several variations in mind already as well as a growing stack of fabrics pulled from my Fabric Stash.