Monday, 21 November 2016

Drafting a Pants Sloper

Ill-fitting pants are the bane of my existence, and they always have been.  I don't think I've ever had a pair of well fitting pants save for a pair of baggy pajama pants or sweatpants.  But that doesn't really count.

When I first got back into sewing, many moons ago, I remember hoping that one day I'd master pants so I can make my own that fit properly. Shopping for pants was and still is frustrating.  I tried sewing pants, and I discovered that sewing pants was easy.  It's the fitting of pants that was complicated.  Soon I gave up on pants and delved into the much more fun world of dresses, skirts, and tops.

Now,  I'm ready to tackle my life's sewing mission!
I took my measurements and used them to make my custom pants sloper.  A sloper is a well fitting template that can be used to make a variety of patterns.  In this case, I can use my sloper to make trousers, capris, jeans or shorts.  So it will be used over and over for a variety of patterns.  When I get the perfect fitting sloper, I'll transfer it to durable tag (or poster board paper) to preserve it as it may get used a lot.

I learned to draft my pants sloper from a Craftsy class (I have soooo many of them) called "Patternmaking & Design: The Pants Sloper" by Suzy Furrer.   I also have her textbook called "Building Patterns: The Architecture of Women's Clothing" which I use in conjunction with the video lessons.   She is such a brilliant instructor.  I learned so much from her classes, and I highly recommend them for anyone interested in patternmaking.

So, after plugging in my measurements, plotting out the calculations, fine tuning some lines here and there, I finally have a pants sloper! 
 It's not finished quite yet, though.  I have yet to test out the fit and fine tune it.  Fitting will be the fun part.  I'm determined to get a fabulously fitting sloper.  The better fitting the sloper, the better fitting my future garments will be.  Yay!
Wish me luck!

Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Songbird Mittens

It's that time of year again!  Mitten weather!  I've temporarily shifted into knitting lately.  It happens every year.  I think it's the changing seasons that does it.  It's funny that the tilted earth orbiting the sun can affect even my sewing and knitting.

I've been absolutely enthralled with colourwork mittens.  So I want to share my Songbird mittens that I just finished yesterday.  I started these exactly one year ago.  Then they hibernated for most of the year.  I must have been distracted with some other project.  The good thing about UFO's is that when you find them, most of the work is already done!

These were made with Jamieson and Smith 2 ply jumper weight wool, which is fingering weight.  I really love this yarn; so much that I have a sample pack of all their yarn colours.

I really enjoyed making these mittens.  It's fun seeing the image slowly emerge.  I have a list of other patterns in my knitting queue.  We'll see what I'll complete this year.  But I'm sure I'll be back into sewing soon.

And here is a gratuitous photo of my Mammillaria plumosa in bloom!

Happy Knitting Everyone!

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Summer Shirt-dress Part 2: McCall's 6696 View A

My second go at this pattern, and I think it's my favourite version thus far!  I made view A which has the pleated skirt and sleeveless bodice.  After doing all the fitting work on the first version, view C,  this was a breeze.  I didn't need any fitting adjustments or alterations on the skirt pattern, and I've already done the fitting work for the bodice.

What I love about view A is the skirt which is much more comfortable and flowy.  Yeah, there's no use fighting it; I think I'm a flowy skirt person.  

I also really like the belt carriers.  I haven't worn it with a belt yet; I just like the detail.
I had to do a bit of fiddling to get the right tension on the belt carriers.  The reason had to do with the turn of cloth.  When you fold the waistband seam, the carriers are too tight.  So I folded the seam then adjusted the tension of each carrier before pinning it and basting it in place.  That way they'll lie flat once the seam is sewn.

I used a printed cotton chambray fabric that had a soft drape.  It's very comfortable to wear because it's not too stiff or wrinkly.  I really love the geometric print; it has a somewhat unique vintage look to it.  For some reason, I had to adjust the collar pieces again.  The collar stand and collar are a tiny bit smaller than my first version.  Maybe the neckline stretched out on the first version; I'm not sure.  I'm happy with the way the collar turned out, though.  It fits really nice.

 Of course, I'm still in love with the back bodice gathers!

 And unlike view C, it's so comfortable to sit in.  A perfect picnic dress!

I didn't take any construction details photos this time because I just whizzed through this one.  No underlining and a clean finish for the seam allowances.  This is my new favourite way to finish seam allowances for straight seams.  Just fold the seam allowance over once and stitch.

Well, that's it for my second summer shirt dress.  I'm pretty happy with it, and I just may sew another one some day.

Thanks for reading my blog and

Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Summer Shirtdress: McCall's 6696

There's something about a dress with buttons, or a shirt with buttons or hey even a skirt with buttons.  I've noticed that I have a lot of things on my to-sew list, which involve a lot of buttons.  But, it's the buttons that make me procrastinate actually completing the garment.  Don't you hate that?  I've had McCall's 6696 dress finished for a while now, but I've been procrastinating with sewing buttonholes and sewing on the buttons.  Anyways, I'm happy to finish it finally.  It really was an enjoyable sewing project.

One of the design details that I appreciate in this pattern, other than the buttons, are the gathers in the back bodice.  Here's a close up!

I made view C and I made 3 muslins and several fitting adjustments:
  1.  Bodice Back - Sway back adjustment to eliminate bulkiness puffing out in the back bodice pleating.  I trimmed off some excess on the bodice back pattern at centre back along the bottom edge.  See photo. 
  2. Bodice Front - I ended up doing a size 12 D grading to 14 at the waist.
  3. Bodice Front - 1/2" forward shoulder adjustment
  4. Bodice Front - moved waist dart out 1/2" and lengthen 1/2" and shaped the dart
  5. Bodice Front - shaped side bust dart (slight concave)
  6. Bodice Front - 3/8" gaping neckline adjustment which created a hassle in changing the collar stand and collar to fit a slightly smaller neckline but was totally worth it.
  7. Skirt Back - moved dart toward centre 1/2" and lengthened dart a total of 2 3/4" extra.  Shaped dart.
To adjust the collar stand and collar to match the gaping neckline adjustment, I ended up reducing the length of those pieces by 2/8"x2 = 4/8"=1/2".  You would think it should be 3/8"x2 = 6/8" = 3/4"  But that was too small when I tried it.  Yeah.  It was a pain in the neckline big time.
Swayback adjustment. Trim the bottom edge straight.  That will reduce a bit of bulk which is accentuated with gathers.
Moving dart over and shaping with a curve

Construction Details
I underlined all pieces in white cotton batiste.  I decided to do the "burrito method" for attaching the  yoke lining and front bodice at the shoulder.  I love doing the burrito!

 There was a bit of hand sewing involved which I find relaxing.
 I basted the bias binding before hand sewing it to the underlining.

Well, that's my summer shirt dress!  Overall it's a great pattern that I think I'll make again.
Happy Sewing!

Batik Fabric Prep and the Beauty of Tibetan Prayer Flags Blowing in the Breeze

It's a beautiful summer day, and I was hanging up some batiks and was struck by how beautiful they looked blowing in the gentle breeze.  They remind me of Tibetan prayer flags blowing in the breeze.

I just got an order of gorgeous batik fabrics for a quilt.  The pattern is the Argyll quilt pattern by Jinny Beyer in the Java colour way.  I love these fabrics, especially the warm browns and ivory with the pink fabrics.

Although I always pre-wash or pre-treat my fabrics when garment sewing, I must admit I don't always do so for quilting fabrics.  If I'm not concerned about shrinkage, I may not pre-wash my fabrics. If I'm using pre-cuts like jelly rolls or even fat quarters, I definitely don't pre-wash.  Those small pieces would be such a tangly mess. Although, batiks don't unravel much.  If I'm not concerned about dyes bleeding, then I don't pre-wash either.  Pre-washing, I find, is a relaxing way to check out each fabric, see if the dyes bleed and to avoid shrinkage.  I also enjoy ironing each fabric and folding it neatly.  It's just another step in enjoying the beautiful fabrics.  But, sometimes you're just in a rush, and that's fine too.  There's no pre-washing police!

The finished quilt size is 83 3/4"X 99" which is a good size for a double bed, and barely fits my queen width-wise. I like a lot of overhang on my quilts.  Hence, the concern with shrinking, especially after quilting and washing. So, I'd rather be on the safe side and prevent shrinking as much as possible

I hand washed these fabrics in separate batches with similar shades together using Eucalan.  I use Eucalan for washing my hand knits.  It's very gentle and has some lanolin in it which protects and conditions wool which prevents it from becoming harsh and brittle. But  Eucalan is also suitable for any gentle hand-washing. Plus you don't have to rinse it out.  I sometimes use it for washing my hand made garments because it's so gentle.  To prevent fading of fabrics, just be sure to use a phosphate-free detergent and cold water.

I kept the fabrics separate to prevent bleeding.  If they're damp and sitting on each other for a long time, there's a possibility of colour transfer.  I squeezed out as much water as possible without wringing the fabric because wringing distorts the grain.  Then the fun part is hanging them outside on the line.
I'm fortunate to have a large yard with a long laundry line, and I love to use it in the summer.  The thing to remember is not to leave fabrics in bright, hot sun for too long because they will fade.    I had definitely made that mistake with my clothes when I left them out in the sun.  The best line drying weather is definitely a cloudy day with a bit of a breeze. These fabrics got some lovely dappled sunshine, and I flipped them over a couple of times to avoid fading.  Another thing to be aware of when line drying is that larger pieces can get heavy, and hanging them can distort the grain.  So, squeezing them out well after washing is helpful.
When they were semi-dry, I brought them in and finished drying them in the dryer on low heat for about 20 minutes, and they came out beautiful, fluffy and soft.

Next step is ironing.  I love to use steam on a cotton setting for almost everything.  I did find some pieces just slightly off grain.  A little gentle tugging easily straightened them out, though.

Here is my small, folded pile of freshly laundered batiks.  I'll put them in a large Tupperware container to store it until I'm ready to make this quilt.  If I really want to surprise my future self, I may cut the pieces as per pattern instructions and label each fabric.  It's always nice to start a project with everything ready to sew!

Thanks for reading my blog and
Happy Sewing!

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Bernina 580 Review and first impressions

I've had my eye on a Bernina 580 for a long time, and I finally bought one a few weeks ago.  Yay!  I love how smoothly it sews.  It hums along quietly unlike my other machine.  There are so many options on this machine.  It's more like a computer than a sewing machine.  I thought it might be complicated to use at first, but it's very user-friendly.  The Bernina 580 has an embroidery module as an option, but I did not purchase it because I'm not that interested in machine embroidery right now.  But who knows, I may be in the future; so it's good to know it's always an option.

I discovered that I like to use the stylus for the touchscreen.  Some higher end Berninas have a magnetized spot where the stylus sticks but this one doesn't.  I found a solution, though.  On the hand wheel is a magnetized area where my magnetic needle minder stuck to but the stylus did not.  Then the stylus stuck to the needle minder.  So now I just keep my needle minder in the centre of the handwheel to hold my stylus while I'm sewing.

The Bernina 580 comes with a stitch regulator for free motion quilting.  I haven't used it much yet, but I'm looking forward to having nice even stitches on my quilts!

It also came with this hands-free system where you can lift the presser foot with your knee.  It could be handy for things like machine applique where you have to change positions quite often and don't want to move your hands from the project.  I haven't found it very handy with the things I'm doing yet.  It feels like it's in the way.  I would also have to reposition my sewing machine, so it doesn't hit the drawers of my table.

Here's the really fun part.  This is the accessory case for storing presser feet, bobbins, needle cases and other fun things.  I love how it's so organized and neat.  Everything has its spot.

Automatic thread snipping after sewing a seam
To pop a bobbin out just press down.   You know you're a sewing geek if this impresses you!

Apparently, I've done 27,346 stitches so far!

Eco mode turns lights down and deactivates sewing

 You can set whether or not you want the machine to sense your upper thread and or bobbin when it runs out of thread.  Not sure I need it for the upper thread because I can clearly see if it's running out.  The bobbin sensor is definitely handy, though!

The Bernina 580 comes with this carrying case which is nice if you're taking it to classes or for maintenance.   Also, very importantly, the manual which is conveniently spiral bound.  Very nice!  I love reading sewing machine manuals.  I'm a geek.

 An instructional DVD is included which I'm sure is very helpful, but I haven't been able to play it on my computer system or DVD player.

Fortunately, there are very thorough and informative tutorials on YOUTUBE!

Well, that sums it up so far.  I really love sewing on my Bernina.  I've done some quilt piecing and buttonholes.  Oh yeah, I've never had so much fun doing automatic buttonholes.  Speaking of buttons, my McCalls shirtdress has been done for a while.  I've been procrastinating on the buttonholes, but I just finished them this morning.  I just need to sew the buttons on and take photos.

In summary, this is a really awesome high-quality sewing machine that makes sewing a breeze!

 Happy Sewing