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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Alteraciones: Changing UP those Patterns

I've been working with
the alterations I've made over several years
On this tried-and-true pattern
To be sure the alterations are good ones
This pattern is out of print, but various
vendors have it for sale on the web
Progreso para octubre/October Progress

I'm  looking back at my plans for this month's sewing, to see how the actuals are coming along. Isn't that what we do when we want to see whether or not we're channeling our resources in the right direction and how our business is coming along? Sewing is not my business, it's my enchanting past time, but I like to feel that I step back and think sometimes, about whether or not my recreation energy is being well spent. The proof is in the pudding. Eventually I want to get some pretty, comfortable and useful clothes out of the time I invest with needles, pins and patterns. And I want to find that those are clothes that I spend a lot of time wearing, not attractive garments that just hang in my closet waiting for a special day to be worn.

Let's See How My October Sewing Basket  is Progressing .......

- 1.  Finish the basic much needed camisole I worked so hard on in September. Hooray it's done! I wore it under that new sheer yellow tee shirt I made a couple of months back, and immediately figured out that I need to stabilize the lovely broad braided shoulder straps (that idea came from the Jan Bones Lingerie book, which my library has), made out of spaghetti strap type tubes. So cute, and SO stretchy. I think I'm going to hand sew a piece of satin'y ribbon along the back of the straps and then try wearing it again.

- 2.  A new pair of pants, either light weight denim or beige twill - I've got 3 yards of each. I'll be using the same patterns I used for The Lady Wears Shorts, which I've got fitting pretty well. I'm taking a "Pants Construction" class at Cañada this month. 

ON HOLD Turns out this project is not due by the end of the month as I'd expected. I've put both the cutting out and sewing of these pants on hold until the end of this month because ...
Taking advantage of what Susan is learning
in the Fit Class
to get a really well-fitting blouse pattern,
That's something I don't currently
have in my pattern stash.
Vogue V8747

a) I'm learning a lot of techniques in my 4 week Pants Construction Class (it ends October 23) which will affect not only how I sew them but how I cut them out. The pockets for example will be cut with a leash that fastens into the waistband. We're starting in on waistbands this coming weekend and I have some questions about how to make my pants more stable in that zone, and how to better work with Petersham ribbon.  Better to wait on everything.
b) Sewing samples for my main sewing class, lingerie class and pants construction class seems to take an inordinate amount of time. I'm learning to enjoy cutting out and thinking hard about sample pattern shapes and techniques, but I'm surprised to find that I can spend 2-4 hours on just one sample, and we make several each week. Then sometimes I find I need to re do them. Now I know one reason why I never put the time in, to learn techniques before. The other reason is that it's just fun to sit down and sew up a favorite, tried and true pattern. That's something I probably won't do in October, but I am going to put on my list to do at least once in November.

- 3.  Trace, tissue fit and toile a very fitted princess-seamed Vogue blouse pattern. I'd like to say get it sewn too, but given time.... I'll be happy to just get going on this project.

IN PROGRESS I'm pleased to say that I've gotten going on this project. I've been working in sewing lab with my new buddy Susan. She's taking the fitting class I plan to take next fall, and we're putting her new knowledge to work.  It's taking a lot of energy just working out the fit, but it's going to be worth it to have a really well-fitting fitted princess-seamed blouse pattern. You can bet I've already got plans to sew that up in three different fabrics from my sta- errrr fabric inventory (!) once I get that pattern working. Here's what I've done with it.

a) Identified that I shouldn't try to fit the sleeve until I get the bodice, and it's resident armscye working with my body. I learned this by chatting to Kelly, an experienced Cañada Fashion Department class taker, who's often working in the sewing lab. Kelly told me to come and see her about my sleeve pattern once I've got the bodice in good shape. She's going to help me learn what to slash and where once the armhole area is working well for me. She also hinted at the possibility of a "cut-on gusset" once we do that. Lots of new things to learn

b) I traced, and cut out, the main princess-seamed bodice pattern pieces onto the tissue I use (medical supply paper, like the kind you sit on when you visit the doctor, only it's new and un-sat-on).I doubled all the pieces, as though I were cutting it out of actual fabric,  so that I could put it on like a full bodice for fitting. This included four pieces: bodice front, bodice side front, bodice back and bodice side back.

It was a little challenging figuring out where to leave, and how to cut, extra tissue paper versus just moving the tissue around with gaps and inserting gap-filling tissue paper as Susan fits the pattern to me. This is something I will learn over time.

c) Susan fitted the tissue to my body. We used colored marking pens to note where tissue seams had been joined, wide posit tape (great for removing without tearing) and many pins. 

One thing I learned was that no matter how obvious the results of fitting seemed at the end, I could have marked the results more clearly. Next time I will know more.

d) I cut out 3 of the 4 pieces in crummy fabric to test the bodice. I'm already concerned that I missed a place where I'm supposed to add a seam allowance, but I'll find out once I sew it up and put it on. Sometimes you just have to forge ahead. And the material is so yucky, I won't care if I have to chuck it and start over.

e) I need to review how to join princess seams. There's a funny, but familiar, big notichy shape on the side front  I just don't get. So I'll need to break down and go back to the pattern instruction sheet.

f) On Monday I plan to have that bodice toile/muslin basted up and ready to review with Susan in Sewing Lab.

- 4. IN PROGRESS- Start in on the next project for my main sewing class at Cañada - elastic waist linen pants

Whew! These have really been a lot of work. I decided to be very scientific about a capri elastic-waist pants pattern I've been using for maybe seven years. I think I've actually sewn this  pattern at least 20 times, altering both the fit and the shape of the leg. I've sewn them as capris, long straight leggers, a divided skirt and palazzo pants. 

I retraced the original pattern, which I'd damaged and shrunk with regular scotch-type tape and the iron (I figured out to use iron-able posit tape after I first began working with this pattern). Pattern weights from an obliging drawer in the Sewing Lab at school helped me to get the damaged spot straightened out enough to trace the whole piece. Then I retraced that original tracing and filed away my first careful, reconstructed pattern pieces, so I can always go back to the original without the pain and agony. On the second tracing I drew in the alteration lines I've made over the years, making notes in different colors so I could see which were the original pattern lines, and which were mine. I had a kind of shlocky heavy-paper version of the pattern I had been using, that I took these lines from.

Next I've begun working to determine if the alterations I made over time, using the scotche here and the schotche there method, to determine if these are the best alterations for the garment. This may sound tedious, but I think it will prove to be worth it. I took a pair of dark linen capris I found I'd cut out of the pattern and forgotten about (I also drew there lines in on my pattern in another maker color to ensure they matched my schlocky pattern lines), taped them to a window with light coming behind and used narrow posit tape and pins to find the actual grain line of the fabric. Then I used more of the same to create perpendicular lines at hip and around the widest part of my hips. After which I basted in white thread, which stands out against the dark fabric, along all 3 lines on the one pants  front where I had done this. I did the same with one back leg. 

Entonces - I then basted up the pants (without the in seam pockets) - just the leg and crotch seams. I plan to try these on in Sewing Lab, tie a piece of elastic around my waist, mirror check, and ask a buddy to see if they think the basting lines of white grain-check thread are hanging straight. Also the widest-point of hip line may tell me something. 

Amazing how long this all takes! The payback comes as I continue to use this pattern, which I also intend to use in combination with a pattern from the lingerie class to make tap pants.

- 5. IN PROGRESS I'd love to get at least one tee done, either one of my new Hot Patterns or another of the Stretch and Sew 333 tees I sewed for class in September, but that is a bit too much blue skying.

a) I cut out one of the Strech and Sew tees, though trying a different neckline version for it may keep me from getting it done as quickly as I might otherwise do.

b) I tissue traced my new Hot Patterns Weekender Sunshine top. 

Though I'm spending a lot of time in the sewing lab at school, I'm doing more sewing science than sewing construction. They don't call it a "lab" for nothing. It's great to be able to take advantage of the facilities and the people around me. If I'm going to take sewing classes, I want to learn as much as I possibly can. The techniques and knowledge of how to fit, plus improving the way favorite patterns fit my body, are going to stand me in good stead when I want to just sit down and zip on my machine.

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