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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Technicos: Don't be Mad - Be Plaid

Though Vogue 8810 is a relatively straightforward pattern I've made before (in a straight skirted version), The CA Romance Dress is challenging for several reasons:

1) Susan's helping me to alter the pattern for an improved fit. I wrote about that in "Further Adventures of the CA Romance Dress".  I liked this dress shape before, but I'm liking the new tissue shape I saw in the mirror even more. Could I have been happy making this dress without these changes, working on my own pinning in front of the bathroom mirror? You bet I could. But I'm taking classes and it's a great chance to learn more about fitting techniques. I'm going to feel majorly couture wearing this creation!

2) I'm making this version with a wide bias cut skirt.  I'm using plaid fabric. Oh boy - plaid.

3) I'm working with only 4 yards of fabric, the bare minimum for the full-skirted version. (I won't be able to squeak the full-length sleeve out, you betcha).And BTW did I mention I'm using plaid fabric?

What helped? Pattern weights combined with pins. The pattern and fabric on these great big skirt pieces tends to shift about. Just as soon as I'd have it pinned on one side, it shifted on the other. So I switched to  laying out a whole lot of pattern weights first, moving them around and around, shifting and moving the fabric as I went until all the lines all around the piece seemed to be lining up.

After all the pattern weights were in place, then I pinned. And I used lots and lots of pins.

Previously I thought pattern weights were just for people who used them instead of pins. Now I think they made it possible for me to do some challenging plaid matching. Thanks to Kathleen and her husband who made these pattern weights for our sewing lab at school!

A Couple of Other Things I learned:

* After I already started cutting another Sewing Lab inhabitant suggested next time I make bigger seam allowances (maybe an inch instead of 5/8 inch), so that I can tweak the plaid matchup a little if the fabric pulls slightly out of do-wacky when I'm cutting. Would have been a good idea, but too late.

* Richard suggested that I stay/reinforcement stitch my bias-cut seams (in this case, the skirt side seams) when I was fretting about the challenges of that newly stretchy cross-cut side moving around on my when matching up those seams where the plaids come together in a diagonal manner. He also told me not to stress it too much when it comes to plaids, and just to enjoy it!

He's right. It's not a contest. The point is to have fun.
My fabric isn't, of course, wide enough to cut both sides of
the full bias-cut skirt front or back
So I cut each skirt piece - front and back- out twice
A total of four skirt pieces to cut
That 'flip!" note reminds me that I want to
cut mirror images of each piece.
I'm sure you'd never make a mistake doing that, but I sure have!
When I pin the pattern to the plaids, I pin on the seam line
Not the cutting line
The fabric can shift between the cutting and seam line
I test to make sure that I've still got plaids matching over and over
as I lay out each piece
It's not enough just to get the  seam's matching
We try to get all the plaids matching around the entire piece
THEN we work to matchup the plaids on this piece with plaids on the
pieces this will be sewn to. That would be
skirt front to skirt back, skirt top to dress  bodice, in this case

Notice I used pattern weights not only around the edges, but in the middle too. It helped really get the pattern to lay flat. (The pattern is in the middle here, I've already cut one piece and now it's flipped over. I put pins through the grainline to make sure it's laying straight, though the plaid matching makes that pretty durn  likely as well.

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