Tuesday, October 18, 2011

One pattern many versions

I have just completed six tops from one pattern.  The pattern was developed from an armscye princess sloper I had fitted earlier in the year.  I have made several tops from this sloper and am working on more.  Fitting is one of the most time consuming, arduous and challenging aspects of sewing for most home sewing enthusiasts.  My mantra is fit once, change the style.  A top becomes a T shirt or a jacket by changing the ease.  It becomes a vest by increasing the armscye slightly or a sleeveless top by decreasing the armscye so the under arm side seam covers the bra.  The style changes to a drape front, a wrap, a cowl neck or ruffled blouse with a few modifications to the neckline and center front.

The teal blue top was made into a cowl neckline by extending the center front neckline above the shoulder seam about 6 inches.  It was cut on the fold and the additional fabric drops down inside the front at center front.  This fabric is a rayon jersey from Fabric.com

A big ruffled colar was grafted from an Ana Sui Vogue pattern an added to the gray charmeuse.  I use this rule for ruffles...The diameter of the inside circle or circles must equal distance of the neckline where the ruffle will be attached.   I raised the neckline 3/4 " on the v neck of the vest and added some additional ease since the charmeuse does not like to be too fitted on me.  This top has six or eight seams if I add a center back seam.  An eight of an inch ads 1 1/2" to 2" in total circumference.  The gray charmeuse is from Cleaner Depot in Norcross, Georgia.

The blue drape front was done earlier in the summer and the photo shows that I just used my hip rule to add to  a nice curve to the center front seam from about waist high up to just above the shoulder seam level.  This fabric was 45" wide so the drape was just below the waist.  This fabric is an Expo purchase from Vogue Fabrics.

The multi animal print drape front was done the same way except the fabric was about 58" wide.  I used the same hip rule as it give a nice curve but the drape was wider as I used the full width of the fabric.  I placed the center front piece near the fold and cut to near the edge of the fabric.  The fabric is a Joann from their "as seen in Vogue Pattern Magazine collection."  It is a poly sheer and I loved the print but it behaved badly.  I tried a baby hem but I did not like the outcome and I ended up doing a hand rolled hem.  I am looking for a silk chiffon animal print to try this again.

The black/red is ITY jersey knit purchased from Anne St Claire at Needlenook Fabrics.  She did a bra program in Columbus Georgia recently and I had to have this fabric.  Anne also had a nice selection of fold over elastic which I used to finish the neckline. I also found at the store there an eyelet punch and bundles of great ribbons and threads to use for embellishments.  This fabric has pretty much 100% stretch in both directions.  This required that I interface the neckline with fusible tricot and measured the placement of the holes from center front using my french curve for even placement.  I wove the red ribbon through the holes and tied it at center front.  I found that this is very stretchy and unstable while sewing.  The armscye and sleeves relaxed after being stitched to give some puckering.  The fusible tricot worked really well on the neckline so I fused 1inch bias strips of the fusible tricot to the armscye from notch to notch and also the sleeve cap.  This gave enough stability for the armscy to remain stable and the sleeve caps to ease nicely.  The fabic is also somewhat see through so it requires a lining or an appropriate undergarment.  I am making a matching bra to go with my top.  Anne sells her knits in two yard kits with the matching thread which is enough to make the top and enough scraps for the bra.

I have found that the last several items that I have sewn have been from fabric purchased right before I used it....hmmmm About that stash.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

rain coat and Isabel's jacket

Finally camera and computer are speaking again. 

Isabel's jacket is McCalls 5921.  I added the front button tabs and the back belt.  The yokes were on bias one layer.  I added a back layer cut on grain for stability.  The black and white zebra print is cotton pique from Hancock's selected by the designer (Isabel) and the trim is cotton sateen from Mary Jo's.  Also selected by the designer (Isabel).

The raincoat is laminated linen from Linda Lee at Sewing Workshop.  The pattern is Vogue Sandra Betzina 1097.  I auditioned 3 patterns before selecting this one.  I wanted to use a trench coat pattern but when I started to work with the pattern I realized that a sleeve would not ease into the armscye.  This pattern has a raglan sleeve with no ease.  I tested every step before use.  I tested the fusible interfacing and the melting of the glue process permanently discolored the fabric.  I used rayon twill tape to stabilize the front and neck edges since the fabric was very stiff anyway.   The laminate softens while you are working with it so you have to feed it carefully and sew slowly.  In order to get the seams to lay acceptably flat they were stitched, pressed flat with a cool iron on silk setting, finger pressed open and then edge stitched and top stitched in a faux flat feld.  The sewing was not difficult but somewhat arduous.  The finished garment is heavy and very warm so I am looking forward to a cold and rainy day to wear it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Inspired by Balenciaga etc.

My friend Ruta shared her program book from the Balenciaga exhibit.  I was so intrigued with the hand stitched (embroideried) buttonholes on the black silk ottoman coat.  I am trying to make some that are similar.  I have a top that is ready for buttonholes and I would love to add these to the top. 

My seven year old granddaughter has been with me this week and with me she watched intently the jeans fitting webcast by Peggy Sagers.  She is inspired for Nana to fit her a pair of jeans.  That will be an upcoming project.  I got some great denim from Peggy at Expo and she has some on hand now.  It is a great weight and is 100% cotton.  Finding a great weight in denim is challenging.  If you need or want denim you may want to order some now.

I just got some laminated linen for a trench coat from Linda Lee at sewing workshop....I can't wait to get started on that project.

sewing with sheers

I have been working on a program for Sew Far West on sewing with silk chiffon and silk charmeuse.  I spent some time testing some formulations of starch to give more body to the chiffon and the charmeuse.  I am still working on the organza shirt/jacket.  I am trouble shooting my camera as it is being stubborn about uploading the current pics.  I will post the pics of the jacket when it is done.

This is the hand out that I used for the program:

I use liquid starch ratio of 3 parts water to one part of the bottled liquid starch. Saturate the charmeuse in the mixture, squeeze gently to remove the excess liquid and roll gently in a towel to absorb enough so it does not drip. Hang to dry. Press the fabric prior to cutting.

For the Charmeuse this usually provides enough body so that it can be cut and sewn without squirming all over. Be sure to use really sharp shears or a new rotary cutter blade. When the garment is completed wash it in silk wash or nutregena shampoo, rinse thoroughly, gently squeeze out the excess water and gently roll in a towel. Hang to dry and press when nearly dry.

The chiffon needs more help for cutting. I used the Niagra liquid starch undiluted. I use tissue paper, regular tissue paper from the wrapping paper section under the fabric and on top. I pin the tissue paper to the fabric in seam allowance areas and pin the pattern on top of the top tissue paper, pinning in the seam allowances. The starch gives it enough body to make the sewing much easier.

Test the starch procedure on a small sample to test the dye. If the dye runs then you will need to launder the piece and use white vinegar in the wash to set the dye.

If you have a heavily embroidered piece with intense colors you can rub a white 100% cotton or linen cloth on the back of the fabric to see if the dye will run. Generally the embroidered pieces have sufficient body however you may need to use the tissue paper under and on top of the fabric to cut.

Use a new size 60 or 65 sharp needle and silk thread if you can find it. Use a straight stitch needle plate or place a piece of tape or paper over the needle hole and let the needle make a hole in it. This is to prevent the fabric stuffing down the needle hole. You can try to move the needle to the farthest left position to see if this works.

I recommend a french seam for both fabrics. Sew a 1/4” seam allowance with the wrong sides together, with a 2.0 or 2.5 length stitch. Press the seam flat from both sides. Trim the seam right next to the stitching, press to one side, turn the piece so right sides are together and push the inside seam to the edge with your fingers, press firmly with small amounts of steam. Stitch right sides together with 1/4” seam allowance.

Silk charmeuse is somewhat fragile so you may want to add a small amount of additional ease to keep from stressing the fabric at the armscye and under arm seams.

Polyester behaves differently so you will have to test the fabric to see if you need to use these procedures on poly charmeuse and poly chiffon.

The other sheer that we see often in ready to wear is stretch tulle. Some of it has little stretch and is used to line the sheer jersey burnouts. It does not ravel, is nearly always shown unhemed with the edges raw. It is used as trim on t-shirts and knit skirts.

Cotton voile may also benefit from some starch. I wash and iron my fabric before I start to sew. If you need to starch soak it in a dilution of liquid starch. Spray starch will be applied unevenly and you may end up with an unstarched area just where you want to cut accurately.

Bias strips of all of these can be used for interesting trims around necklines, yokes or sleeves or up and down the front of a blouse or skirt. Bias strips can be ruffled and they make interesting trim as well.  A  5 or 6 inch strip of bias or straight of grain can be doubled and ruffled to have a finished ruffle to add to sleeves or hems on pants or skirts.

Ready to wear has lots of chiffon flowers that are cut on the bias and edges left raw. Look at the trims and embellishments on line or in the stores to get ideas of where to use these as trim. Silk chiffon or charmeuse makes great scarves for yourself or for gifts.

Silk organza is fairly stable. I recommend to either pin a lot when laying out the pattern or use lots of weights when cutting. If you find that it is shifting it can also benefit from some starch. Because there is such a variance in quality of silks work with yours to see if it needs to be more stable.

I have used strips of tissue paper to sew chiffon and find that pulling the paper away disrupts the stitching. My opinion is that starch is a better option.

I use sharp needles sizes 60/7, or 65/7 for chiffon and 70/10 or 75/11 for charmeuse. Use new needles and if you hear a noise when the needle goes into the fabric replace it. A needle with a burr or damaged can cause a run in silk. Because silk is graded by weight it has a high amount of tin. This is really hard on needles so be prepared with a supply of needles in the correct sizes as they get damaged pretty soon.

Happy sewing and do not be afraid of the sheers.

Prepared by Deanne Smith 6/13/2011

Sunday, May 22, 2011

fit of new bras

In Anne St Clair's book she recommends to wash the bra two to three times before you decide it does not fit.  I made one a size larger than the initial size and thought the cup was too big when I finished it.  After two washings it now is a very good fit.  Let me know if you have any issues with the way your bras fit.  I have spoken to Anne several times with my personal fitting issues and she  is very helpful.

I have not purchased a bra since 2006 and have been very pleased with the the bras that I have sewn.