chebe: (gerties sew-along 2010)
Okay, this is more promising. I decided that there was so much extra fabric in the first mock-up that I would try something radical; cutting out one size without any adjustments. I used some black poly-cotton, and only afterwards did I realise how badly it would photograph. On the plus side, the yellow tracing paper and white chalk came up beautifully. I took great pains to make sure I did everything as well as I possibly could. Pressed my darts and seams, thread-traced, used different coloured threads for each step, and drew the seamlines in chalk before thread-tracing them. I'm glad I did, I got to know the pattern a bit better. Mostly that the little circles (centre-point) sit exactly 5/8" in from the edges. Helpful to know next time I'm grading through sizes. Also, after making it up, yeah Julie, I see what you mean, the notches on my front and back pieces don't line up at all! Must be a mistake in printing.

More pictures )

I'm quite surprised. I think it fits well (allowing that I seem to have wrapped the ties a bit too tight). There is a bit of bagginess under the bust that needs to be taken out with fatter front waist darts, but otherwise I think the fit is good. I've posted it in the Flickr group and waiting to see if they pick up on something I didn't. Most people were complaining about the positioning of the front darts, and while I think the front waist darts are a little high, the illustrations imply this to be intentional. I'm normally the one that doesn't fit, not the only one that does. It's a strange feeling.

Now, I'll probably do a small, short, mock-up of the waist-skirt piece to check the sizing too. Then, hopefully, just one more mock-up post, then on to the real thing!
chebe: (gerties sew-along 2010)
Dear Internet, we have to talk. Please stop deceiving me. Even those of us that speak English do not speak the same language. Pretending otherwise just leads to confusion. As an example I offer the latest in my long list of discoveries; muslin. To me muslin is that light fabric often found in 70's blouses. I guess in the USA it is more commonly known as cheesecloth, or that thing you wrap turkey in. When someone from the USA, whose sewing adventures I follow, talks about making up a muslin, using muslin, I figure, yeah, I know what that is. However, I figured wrong. What is called muslin in the USA is called canvas, or calico here. It is a completely different kind of fabric; tough, thick, opaque.

Here, take a look:
Pictures! )

So, yeah. I pretty much have to start again from scratch. I'm going to use the one pattern size and not graduate out to a larger size at the waist, but will probably reshape my darts so they are fatter and take out some of that bulk under the bust. *sigh* Well at least I know now.

Sew-along: muslin 1

2011-Jan-01, Saturday 11:49 pm
chebe: (gerties sew-along 2010)
Following on from here.

I followed the instructions to thread-trace the seam-lines. I think it has been one of the single most frustrating things I have ever done. 1: my muslin is too loose-weave for this, it kept trying to gather/bunch up. I had to fight my machine to try and feed it more slowly. 2: my thread kept breaking, I lowered the tension, but that only helped a little. 3: on the bias the muslin kept trying to stretch. I had to tear crooked lines out a bunch of times and start again. And once I had it done? Totally not worth it. I think if I ever try this again I'll make sure I have a tighter-weave muslin, or better yet, some other cheap fabric like a poly-cotton.

By the time I got to basting the darts and seams I'd given up on the machine and basted (a temporary straight/running stitch) the seams by hand. A calmer me was found.

I'm just after trying it on, and I'm going to leave photos and final judgments to another day. It seems the waist is too big. It may be a smidgen too long, and I think there is extra material around the ribcage that can do with being removed. I do however very much like the placing and shape of the neckline, so it seems choosing the pattern size based on the high-bust measurement worked well.

I am worried that part of the reason why it doesn't fit well is distortion from trying to thread-trace the seams. I think I'm definitely going to have to make up my second muslin in poly-cotton.
chebe: (gerties sew-along 2010)
I know some of my fellow 'Silver-Cresters' (what do you think, better than Dublin Sew-Along Meet-up Group'?) are very eager to get started, and I am supposed to be all mentor-like, so I spent a little time today on the bodice muslin.


1. Measurements )


2. Altering the paper pattern )


3. Marking the muslin )


Next I have to stitch along the seam-allowances, then try it on and begin adjusting the fit. Sadly we'll probably have to do a couple of these to get the best fit, but console yourself with the knowledge that it's good practice.
chebe: (gerties sew-along 2010)
Gertie has posted the schedule. Time to start thinking about fitting it into our busy schedules.

To help get prepared I looked back at the posts for the last sew-along. I found a few posts that could be of some help. Mind you, they are targeted at doing an Advanced project, and we're only doing Beginners, so if it doesn't all make sense don't worry.

- Picking a size, some bust adjustments, and choosing tracing vs cutting out your pattern. (We've the materials for both, and I hope to do tracing.)

- Pre-shrinking and supplies (for the other project).

- About muslins.

- More on muslins.

- About different seam finishes.

I'm beginning to think it would be a good idea to be able to do some of the sewing at home (especially if this snow keeps up). And to that end I really highly recommend one machine, this SilverCrest from Lidl. At €70 it is the cheapest I've ever seen it (and the cost of one pair of pinking shears!), and it's available from Monday, 6th. It won't be available for long, and probably won't be back for months. You will not regret buying it. I have one and love it. It has many features, lots of accessories, and its automatic tension is nearly invincible. You can always upgrade to a brand-name machine next time around, but I think that may be a while once you get used to this one.

One last thing, don't forget to check out the Flickr pool to see what everyone else is up to.

My fabric )
chebe: (gerties sew-along 2010)
The 'Gertie Sew-Along Dublin Group' (I agree, we need a better title) met up last weekend, and battled our way through the shops, emerging victorious with almost all the materials we need. [I've no idea where to get silk organza, I'll probably head back to the bridal section and ask there. And I'm still debating whether the slight need for pinking shears justifies the huge cost.]

The selection is not great in these parts, especially at the weekend, nor when specifically looking for cotton, in winter. We got the muslin for the bodice mock-up (and had to explain it wasn't for cooking turkey), we got fusible interlining (ultrasoft), shell fabric (printed cotton or poly-cotton), and some of us got lining material too (poly-cotton).

So, we're all set, right? Nope. Annoyingly the fabrics need to be prepared before we get started. This means laundering them. Most fabrics have a tendency to shrink, but cotton and polyester definitely do. No point in going to great efforts to ensure your garment fits perfectly, only to have it shrink on the first wash. Also, I found my printed poly-cotton very stiff, but once washed it softened nicely, making it easier to work with.

The rough instructions are to wash the fabric as you intend to wash the final garment. There are some restrictions, for example dry-clean only fabrics. But the fabrics we picked out are made to be washed. Unless your fabric says otherwise (on the edge, the end of the bolt, or the receipt) then a basic 30/40-degree wash should be fine. Use your usual washing detergents, and dry as you would normally. Finally, we'll need to iron the fabric, to get rid of any creases before we begin garment construction.

[I am disappointed in the quality of my fabric, the print faded slightly as expected, but it has also become damaged in several places, looking like it might rip right through. Now I'm glad I bought a bit extra. Perhaps it should have been washed at 30-degrees. The lining fabric on the other hand, is so much nicer, softer, more solid.]

The fusible interfacing is likely to shrink as well. But you can't just throw it in a washing machine, the glue will get a mind to melt and it'll end up stuck to everything. I got a new book recently, the encyclopaedic Claire Shaeffer's Fabric Sewing Guide. It's a fantastic book, imparting boundless knowledge on how to treat and use all kinds of different fabrics. Here's what she says about fusible interfacing:

"...fill a basin with hot water. Place the folded interfacing in the basin. Remove the interfacing when the water cools, about 20 minutes. Roll it in a towel to remove excess moisture and hang it over a shower rod to dry."

And no need to iron, yet :) Also, no need to wash the muslin, unless you intend to make a finished garment from it. Now we're ready to start thinking about the pattern.
chebe: (gerties sew-along 2010)
You have your pattern, now you need to buy your fabric. In order to know how much you require you need to take your measurements.

Warning: making your own clothes can put a dent in your self image, at the beginning. Sizes used for patterns tend to be of a historical sort, and older sizes were smaller. You may wear a 12 from a shop now, but that could be a 14 or 16 in your pattern. And, different companies use different sizings, so always, always go by the inch/centimetre measurement. Most patterns assume an ideal shape that almost no-one is. Also, most patterns assume a B-cup in bust. There are ways to alter your pattern to actually fit your real body.

The human body can be measured in many different ways, but for choosing the size of pattern you'll be working with you will usually need just three; bust, waist, hips. You will need a measuring tape. (Or a length of string, a ruler, and lots of patience.)

Let's get measuring )

Gertie is recommending fabrics and fabric shops right now. I encourage you to shop locally if you can, but I know it can be difficult to get nice cottons in Winter. Just, please, check the cost of shipping before you buy. Have fun choosing your fabrics!

Colette Patterns

2010-Nov-11, Thursday 09:07 pm
chebe: (AliceWithTea)
Ha! Coincidence! My Colette pattern arrived today. That's six business days since ordering! And I have to say, it is by far the nicest pattern I have ever seen. The cover seems made out of something like wedding-invitation quality paper. This cover is a cross between an envelope and a DVD case, inside (and attached) is a booklet, full of instructions and explanations. The pattern pieces themselves are in a little pouch at the back. I'm blown away by it, truly. Pure luxury. Can't wait to get started making up the dress!

Group Sew-Along musings

2010-Nov-11, Thursday 01:11 pm
chebe: (gerties sew-along 2010)
I find something very calming about reading blog posts. Gets me in a nice head-space. So much so, that I'm motivated to write my own! Sorry for being absent, I'm in the middle of the semester at college and assignments are really starting to pile up. Actually, I've a few essays to write, a precis, an ethics essay, and some regular write-ups. If I'm not ashamed of them they might end up being posted here.

But, what I want to talk about now is the sew-along I mentioned in my last post. Gertie runs a popular retro sewing blog. She's fun to read and provides clear instructions on many aspects. Thanks to her I've learned how to do tissue fittings and a proper narrow hem (I'm obsessively reading the archive from the beginning).

In December she is starting a Sew-Along project, where she'll step-by-step go through the making of a garment. This time it's going to be a wrap dress, at beginners level. Details.

I managed to get someone else interested in giving it a go with me, and then it occurred to me that there might be others too. I'm not an expert by any means but am confident in being able to handle this dress, so I've offered to help out where I can. I suspect that the dress will require some machine stitching, so I'm offering up the machines in TOG, and my mentorship should you need it. I doubt you will, Gertie is very good, but sometimes you just need terms explained.

If you are interested you can get the pattern from the manufacturerdesigner in the States (20% discount code for this month in Gerties blog post), or even more handily for a beginner, you can use a pattern pack (pattern, fabric, interfacing, and thread, for about a 27% total saving) from a UK company, SewBox.

There are a few things that Gertie intends doing that I don't know much about. She says to start with choosing a light to medium weight, cotton or cotton-blend fabric. (The difference between version 1 and version 2 is the shape of the neckline, and that the sash/tie in version 2 is a contrasting colour. So if doing version 2 like Gertie get two fabrics in colours that go together.) She intends to do a muslin mock-up before hand, underlining the dress with cotton batiste, and staying the neckline with silk organza. Each of these steps will require more fabric, but no further details yet. And they're optional, extra techniques to help you achieve a really great garment. If it really is your first time maybe stitching to the basic pattern will be easier, and learn about these others techniques so you can apply them next time.

I intend to post progress pictures here, and possibly on the TOG site. If you're interested in taking part just let me know and we'll see what we can do.

Sew-along with Gertie

2010-Nov-04, Thursday 11:43 am
chebe: (gerties sew-along 2010)
Just a quick note to say Gertie is starting a new sew-along project, this one for beginners, in December. First details are up here. I've only recently discovered Gertie, and had admired this dress anyway, so I figured I'd give it a shot! At least there's plenty of time to prepare :)
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