Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Handsewing and Couture Techniques

 This afternoon, I was happily stitching away in the sunshine when it dawned on me that I should do a blog post about hand sewing.  So, here it is!

My plan was to work on the lining today. I was about to start, but was concerned that the seam allowances on this curved seam may move around underneath the lining.  This is a problem because an unsightly bump in the wrong spot would be, umm, not so good.  So I decided to secure the seam allowance with a catch stitch.  This is easily done because I've underlined the bodice with cotton muslin.  So the stitches go through only the underlining, and seam allowance and hence are completely invisible from the right side, and when the lining goes in they won't be visible at all.

Here is a close up.   If you look at the first photo, you can see that once the seam allowance is secured it lies nice and flat.  And this didn't take too long at all.

The skirt is underlined with silk organza; now my favourite underlining for skirts!  I used my lazy method of attaching the organza to the fabric then trimming to match the fabric piece.   I usually draw the grain line on the back of the fabric and align it with the silk organza's grain line. See my Vintage Skirt blog post to see how I did the underlining.  I was in the zone while doing this skirt, so I forgot to take a photo of the underlining process. 

 I used silk thread and a running stitch.

I recently ordered Claire Schaeffer's book "Couture Sewing Techniques" and I've been ravenously devouring the information it contains!  This is a really high-quality sewing book that provides a whole new level of knowledge and information.  I love the attention to detail and the dedication to quality craftsmanship that the couture sewing world strives for.  I also love the fact that all these techniques are low tech and accessible to the everyday home sewer.  All you need is a needle, thread, and fabric.

I remember when I was very young (maybe about 9 or 10 years old),  I found some fabric in the attic and I was determined sew a dress.  I remember my mom telling me that I need to use a sewing machine if I wanted to sew a dress.  But, I didn't know how to use the sewing machine yet. (And I don't think we had one anyways.)  "I'll do it by hand," I told her.  She shook her head.  I didn't care.  I just wanted to do it to see if I could do it.   I also had no pattern. I draped the fabric and imagined what the pieces should be.  I cut the fabric into a skirt and a tank bodice and sewed the pieces together by hand.  I was so excited to see how it would work out.  I'm sure it was not very pretty, but it was a good first experience driven by curiosity. 

So, in a way, going back to hand sewing kind of brings me back to that first memory and experience of sewing as a child.  The excitement of creating something with only my two hands is an amazing feeling.

Now, the dress I'm working on is sewn by machine.  I just used a couple couture techniques so far.  One day I'd like to make perhaps a lace evening gown completely by hand; maybe some beading on the bodice.  Just an idea!

Well, I guess you got a sneak peak of my upcoming dress!  I'm taking my time with it, but it should be done soon.

Thanks for reading my blog and

 Happy Sewing!

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Sewaholic Davie Dress

Sewaholic 1503 Davie Dress

I was fist drawn to this dress pattern because of the "fit and flare" style lines.  I love princess seams and flared skirts.  I also like the keyhole neckline detail.  The only thing I didn't like is the fact it's designed for knits.  I'm still not a huge fan of sewing with knits.  The result is quite comfortable though, so I shouldn't complain.  I used a black Ponte di Roma I had in my stash.  I decided to just sew a straight size 8 and see how it turns out.

  So, I guess you could say this is my wearable muslin.  I knew the fit would not be the best, but I was hoping the knit fabric would be forgiving enough.  The hemline is quite short; a lot shorter than I'm used to.  I should probably lengthen it a tiny bit in the bodice anyways as well as extend the hem.   Just like my Granville Shirt, there was a disappointing lack of curves in the back seams.  I was really annoyed with the flatness of it all!  I'm starting to realize that although I love Sewaholic patterns, these annoyances are going to require more time and effort to make them look good on me. 

I definitely have to work on fitting the back next time!

Overall, this was a quick sewing project and being a knit fabric, it's quite forgiving fit-wise.  Other than the pooling in the lower back it wasn't too horrible.  However, my fitting annoyances with Sewaholic Patterns is starting to outweigh my love of the designs.  I'm tempted to dive into my little pile of new McCall's dress patterns next.  They usually fit me a lot better than Sewaholic Patterns.

Thanks for reading my blog and...
Happy Sewing!

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Completed: Liberty of London Granville Shirt!

Sewaholic Patterns 1501 Granville

I finally finished my Granville shirt!  After doing all those muslins, I got distracted with other projects (which I will blog about later) but now it's done!  Yay!  And I'm actually quite happy with the results.  The fit is a lot better than I thought it would be.  I guess all my hard fitting work paid off.   Now that the fitting part is done I can easily make this again and again in different fabrics.  I find the Liberty lawn fabric is just perfect for this shirt.  It's very light yet crisp to press, and the final look is just want I wanted.  I love this brown flower print.

I chose to make view A with the two front pockets.  The only thing I'm not happy about is the front pockets.  They turned out to be a bit off even though I placed them right on pocket markings.  So I may have made a mistake with the markings or perhaps the shoulder seams are not exactly the same.  Nevertheless, this fabric is very camouflaged, and you can barely see the pockets let alone if they are exactly symmetrical unless you look very carefully.  So, I may take one pocket off and adjust it at some point but for now,  I'm not putting on any buttons to bring attention to this imperfect detail.  Next time I think I'd put the pockets on last and line them up while wearing the shirt.

I really enjoyed making the collar.  It went together a lot easier than I thought it would.  I followed the instructions with the pattern which are a bit different than previous collars I've made.

Construction Details!

This was the first time I make a proper sleeve placket.  I found making the tower peak quite fiddly, so I took my time pressing and basting it by hand to hold it in place.  This was the hardest part.  The rest of the placket came together quite easily.

 As per usual I pinned, then hand basted the sleeve in before machining it in.  When I'm worried about puckers, or I'm not able to control the fabric as much I find comfort in hand basting.  It controls the fabric so much better than just pins, and I don't have to hold my breath so much while sewing the seam!

I drew in the seam allowance on the collar stand which helped to make a nice curved shape.

So, I'm pretty happy with my pretty flowery shirt!  It was fun to make once I figured out the fit.  I'm sure I'll wear it quite a bit.  I think I'll put this one away for now because I'm going to start making some dresses for spring now.  Yay for spring!  Our snow is gone already, but it's still freezing outside.  Meanwhile, these little guys keep me company in the sewing room.  Aren't they adorable?

 Happy Sewing!

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Granville Fitting Woes

When I first saw Sewaholic's Granville Shirt, I thought it would be perfect for my Liberty of London Fabric.  I love the fitted look of it, and I figured it would be an excellent wardrobe builder.  I wanted to make a shirt that fit me very well,  so I was prepared to do some fitting work but it was more of a headache than I anticipated.  However, it was an excellent learning experience!

Plan A
My measurements indicated I needed I size 8 or 10 but a size 4 in the hips.  I expected this because I know Sewaholic is drafted for "pear" shaped women which I am not.  No problem,  I started with a size 8 and graded to a size 4 at the side seams.  I kept the back seams a straight size 8.  Well, it looked terrible.  The curves were all in the wrong places.  The sides stuck out very strangely, and the back was flat and shapeless.

Plan B
So,  my next step was to take in the side seams a whopping 3/4" at the hip line on either side.  I shaped the back seam increasing at the low hip by 1/2" on each seam.  I also decided to lengthen the whole shirt by 1".  The results: too tight! Too tight everywhere, the front edges don't even close.  It also felt a tad too long.  The back curves were a little bit better and not so flat and baggy in the low back.  However,  I decided to move on up and try a size 10.

Plan C
I made up a size 10 grading to size 4 hips on the side seams and lengthened the bodice by only 3/4" instead of 1".  Results: Horrible in so many ways but I didn't even consider fixing those problems because it was too big in the shoulders and upper chest.  I needed to start with a well fitting shoulder/neckline.  Soooo, back to the previous muslin!

Plan D
I took my previous size 8 pattern and reduced the lengthening of the bodice to 3/4" instead of 1".  Then,  I took the side seams at (hip level) back out 1/2" for a net reduction of 1/4".  This was graded smoothly to the upper waistline.  I kept the same shaping I had done previously on the back seams.  Next, I did a 3/4" F.B.A.  Results:  Sooo much better in the bust but still tight in the hips.  So, I took out a further 3/8" at the hip side seam grading to the high waistline.

This was as good as I was going to get!  Plus, I'm just sick of making muslins, and my head hurts thinking about all this.  Oh yeah, the sleeve!  Can't forget the sleeves.  I shortened it by 3/4" which I don't think I've ever had to do in my life.  I just measured the pattern and compared it to my measurements.

Judging by the way I had to take in the side seams then having to put them back out after lengthening, I think I'm trying to change too many things at once too drastically.  I think next time I'll remember that simply lengthening can change a curve to sit in the right place.  I'm not sure that exactly would have happened in this case, but it probably would have resulted in less back and forth adjustments.  Overall, it was a good experience with fitting that I definitely need.  So, I'm looking forward to actually starting to sew this thing and hopefully it turns out half decent!

Happy Sewing!

Friday, 30 January 2015

Vintage Wool Skirt Completed

I have thoroughly enjoyed sewing this lovely skirt, and I'm delighted with the way it turned out!  I found that my Hawthorn Berry Sweater was the perfect companion. It was surprisingly comfortable (for a few quick minutes) considering it was -24 degrees Celsius out there! 

The pattern is a vintage pattern I found on Etsy: Hollywood Pattern 1602.
I love the A-line silhouette, gores, and the fact that it has a left side zip.  I don't know why but I think side closures lend a more feminine, polished feel to the whole garment. 
I used a beautiful wool/cashmere blend fabric that I underlined with silk organza.  Check out my previous post for more details about the pattern, fabric, and the underlining I chose.  Speaking of underlining, I just wanted to say that I think it gave the skirt a lot of body.  The complete garment feels very durable yet soft thanks to the silk organza underlining.  It was my first time using silk organza, and it certainly won't be the last!

Now, for a few sewing details! Yay!
I made the lining from a soft bemberg rayon.  I slip stitched the lining to the invisible zip.  

Ok! Here's the hem.  I did a 2 inch hem, and I didn't ease the fullness in with ease stitching but rather just shaped it with a bit of steam.  I figured it's not like a circle skirt or anything so it's not a lot of fullness to ease in.  I ended up using lace hem-tape which I catch stitched to the silk organza underlining.  I like the look of the lace, but it seems a bit flimsy.  The reason I went with the lace tape is that I felt doing a folded hem would look too bulky.  I'm not sure; I may change it.

Lovely left side closure (my favourite!)  

 The button is purely decorative.  The waistband closes with a hook-and-eye.  I love this button, but it may be too bulky for this dainty waistband.  

Well!  That concludes my Vintage Wool Skirt exhibit.  I feel I learned a great deal from this project, and I'll have fun wearing it too!

Next up on my sewing table... finally a project for my Liberty of London cotton lawn!

Happy Sewing!

Friday, 16 January 2015

Vintage Sewing Pledge 2015

Yesterday, I joined the 2015 Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge; that is in the second year.  This challenge is hosted by A Stitching Odyssey and co-hosted by Kerry of Kestrel Makes. When I heard about it, I knew it would be a great challenge for me.  I don't have a ton of vintage patterns, but I do have a few that I have not yet sewn.  I also have reproduction patterns that have not yet been sewn.  .  This would motivate me to  sew those lovely patterns tucked away in my pattern drawer.  My favourite decade is the 1940's, but I'd also go for some garments from the 30's and 50's.  I'm not into the 60's or 70's, but you never know.  So I'm putting this pledge out there into blogland:

I Nayla, of Nayla's Notions pledge to sew four garments from vintage or reproduction patterns within the year 2015.  

It shouldn't be too difficult to make four garments and yet it's still a challenge.  I'm a slow sewer and believe in quality, not quantity.  I also have so many other things I want to make.  I'm already working on the first one of the year, which happens to be a vintage pattern; my lovely 40's wool skirt!

I'm looking forward to this awesome challenge... Yay!

Happy Sewing!

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Vintage wool skirt

About the Pattern

Hollywood Pattern 1602:  I was drawn to this vintage pattern because of the fitted and feminine yet tailored lines.  I like the slim A-line skirt that is very 1940's and the gores are a beautiful detail.  I couldn't find a year printed on the pattern, but it's from the 1940's.  The skirt has five gores on the front and three gores on the back.  All those seams allow more opportunities for adjusting the fit.  I also love the jacket.  I like both the short sleeved and the long sleeved versions, but I'm not a fan of those pockets.  If I have pockets with it, I would probably do a more traditional pocket.  I want to make the jacket one day but for now I'm concentrating on the skirt.

 I traced out the pattern pieces and markings using a tracing wheel but no carbon paper.  I found it easier just to cut it out following the perforations, and it was easy to see the markings that I then darkened with pen.  I made a muslin and had to adjust the pattern a bit.  I took out some excess fabric from the lower back to create a bit of contouring.  The skirt  also stuck out a bit and had a bit of a funny drape.  I realized the pieces were not on grain.  They also did not fit well together.  So I trued the seams and adjusted the grainline.

About the Fabric

  I found the most luscious Ralph Lauren cashmere/wool blend from Mood fabrics!  I'm using silk organza to underline the wool.

I pre-treated the wool by putting it in the dryer with two damp towels to create some gentle steam.  I was worried about it, but it turned out beautifully.  This fabric is soft and richly coloured with soft heathered brown and cream.  I can't wait to wear it!

I love the silk organza.  It's so light and barely there but it has a lot of body.  So,  I had already cut out my fabric and rather than cut out the organza using the paper pattern;  I pinned the fabric directly to the organza.  I wanted to align the grains as closely as possible.  Then I gave myself about an inch of allowance around each piece while I hand basted within the seam allowance.  Only after I completed the hand-basting did I trim the organza.  That way the grain lines align and the edges also align

I used my hot pink silk thread just because it's yummy to sew with.   It's amazing how the silk organza affects the fabric.  I can't wait to see how it affects the skirt as a whole.

I just have a couple more pieces to underline then I'll be looking forward to sewing them together.  

Happy New Year and Happy Sewing!