Yesterday, I needed some sewing notions so that I could continue constructing my faux fur vest. But I didn’t go to a fabric store to pick them up. I went to a hardware store. Yes, the domain of contractors and weekend home DIY’ers. Why, I hear you ask? Well, my leather facings were making the lapels on my vest look poofy despite my industrious and long pressing session. And because of the leather facings and heavy metallic zipper on the front of the vest, the back of the vest was feeling a little light in the loafers. I needed something to weigh it down so it would hang evenly all around.
I went to the hardware store to pick up a rubber mallet to pound the leather in to submission and some chain to sew into my hem. I found just the kind of mallet I was looking for right away, but the chain proved elusive. I was standing looking at the chain selection in the store, when a helpful (male) employee asked if I needed help. Sheepishly, I said I was looking to weight a hem for a vest I’m sewing and he didn’t even bat an eye. He said his mom sewed and he had some great suggestions as alternatives to the chains, which, by the way, weren’t suitable as they didn’t have a flat profile and would protrude bumpily. His first suggestion was magnets, but they were too thick. Then he suggested washers and they were just right! Perfect weight, thin in profile, and small enough to fit in to the hem.
I left the hardware store with a spring in my step, knowing I had the right tools (notions) for the job. Where is the most unlikely place you’ve sourced notions or tools for your sewing projects? Have you bought or used a tool meant for other activities/uses for sewing? What’s the strangest thing you’ve used or bought for sewing?
For this week’s class we were to come in with our boned bodices sewn and boned for the teacher to inspect. My front princess seams were puckery. So she is having me resew them with the front panel clipped. Can’t believe I forgot to do that. I’m surprised that I was even able to sew it to my very curvy princess panel. Here’s a picture of my pattern pieces to remind you.
Then, in order to keep the class moving ahead, we draped three collars. The mandarin collar, the banded collar and the convertible collar. I didn’t see much of a difference between the mandarin and the banded collar in looks, but the drape is completely different. The mandarin collar is draped with the straight of grain on the center back and the banded collar is draped with straight of grain on the center front. When you’re done, the pattern pieces look completely different, but they look essentially the same on. Weird. And you can used the banded collar as your collar stand for a regular collar.
The convertible collar is pretty cool. No stand required. The bias of the fabric is used to achieve the collar.
We don’t have class next week as it is Veteran’s Day. We are to have our boned bodice completely finished with fashion fabric by our next class.
In other sewing news, I have been deeply immersed in my next project. I hope to unveil it later this long weekend when it’s finished. But first I have to stop at Home Depot for some chain. I have been working on it nearly non-stop for the last few days, even refraining from drinking wine at night so I can work “unenhanced” in the evening hours. I’m obsessed, I tell you, absolutely obsessed. But let me leave with you a shot of the devastation of my sewing room and a sneak peek of the object of my obsession.
With more time and distance from this sewing “event”, I think this could become a comedy, but right now it’s feeling rather tragic to me. I am not writing a review of this shirt just yet. This pattern deserves a great send up. Truly. It’s well drafted; has deceptively simple style lines with great fun design details like the gathered lower back.
As you know I muslined this shirt about a week ago. Truth be told, I muslined it a lot. I didn’t want another “can’t raise my arms to drive” shirt again. I wanted to ensure that I could actually walk around like a fully functioning human being in this shirt. Shams and Sherril helped me along this muslin process, but are not to blame for the fit of this shirt or any of my mistakes made along the way — all that’s on me. They were very generous with their time and expertise.
I started with a 1/2 in FBA.
Then I made a 3/4 inch FBA and slightly wider side seams. Better, but I still had the back/arm strain.
Then I added a pleat on the back under the yoke. Eureka! I could lift my arms up and about and all around. Freedom! I thought I had reached Nirvana.
At which point, I confidently made it up in my fashion fabric, a cotton that I dyed with Claudine last year (fun!). Before I talk about how it turned out, I must confess my long list of user errors made during the construction/deconstruction of this shirt, the length of which would be comedic if it wasn’t so tragic. First I sewed part of the shirt inside out when constructing the yoke, so I had to redo all that. Then I put the back pleat on backwards. Then I had to resew the plackets so they looked nice instead of becky-homecky. And then I inserted one of my sleeves inside out. Seriously, have you ever had that many user errors in one project before? My stupidity knew no bounds. Oh and then I ran out of thread while top stitching. And let’s not forget my personal favorite of putting the buttonhole on the wrong cuff end — the cherry on top!
And then, to add insult to injury, it turned out to be a tent. A big top circus tent. I could fit a whole herd of elephants in my shirt. I did not take any pictures of the shirt in this sad state due to my horror and despair. But trust me, it was horrific. And I bet you’re wondering why it was so big? Because I forgot that because the back was cut on the fold, I would need to halve the amount of fabric I added with my back pleat in the muslin. So by adding the entire amount of fabric added with the pleat, I effectively added quadruple the amount I intended to add. Fun! Not.
The thought of ripping out serged side seams and opening up the yoke, basically resewing the entire shirt over again, made me want to slit my wrists. But after an afternoon of moaning and whining and a stiff glass of cabernet, I got out my seam ripper and opened up the yoke. I removed all of the extra fabric I had added to the back with the pleat and sewed up a center back seam. The shirt’s measurements are now exactly as drafted (except for the FBA in front of course). I tried the shirt on and it was…
Fine, perfectly fine. How could that be? In the muslin, I could barely raise my arms without feeling the bicep and back areas strain. Now I felt minor pulling, but it really was minor. My shirting was cotton, thin but no stretch. How could it fit so drastically different from the muslin? I just don’t get it. And I question the efficacy of muslins now. Really question it.
The end result is a shirt that looks pretty decent. But I don’t like the janky CB seam I had to add. It was hard to finesse the seam across the gathered lower back section, so that join looks a little funny. The fish eye darts I added in front under my side bust dart for the FBA need to be a mite deeper and longer, but I was just guesstimating that. And the sleeves are too long. I forgot to check the length at the muslin stage as I was so concerned with the back/arm tightness issue.
At any rate, I have a wearable shirt. I will make some modifications the next time to tweak the fit for my body (shorten the sleeves, deepen and lengthen the fisheye darts, and raise the gathered back section about an inch maybe). And, yes, there will be a next time, because, despite my tragedy of errors in the making of this shirt, I love this pattern. And I love the layering you can do with a good shirt. And winter in San Diego is all about layering for the differently climates throughout the day. It can be 70-80 degrees in the heat of the day, but fall to 40-50 degrees at night. I think a good shirt pattern is de riguer here. But enough of the moaning and groaning. Here’s the finished wearable muslin…
I hope to make another version again soon, because this is a great pattern and I hope to do it justice.
Folks, I muslined the Grainline Archer shirt yesterday. I can tell it’s a great pattern already; it’s drafted really well, and I just love View B with the gathered back section. But I gotta say that each time I muslin a new pattern, I feel this sense of dread and foreboding. I think that’s why I procrastinated so long making this pattern and pretty much just about any new pattern I want to sew.
I think about how I will have to make an FBA in every pattern and how that’s not a guarantee that it will fit. I think about how many muslins it will take to get the fit right. I think about how long it will take to get the fit right. And once you think you get it right, there’s always the wearing it for a day test. My Burda linen shirts (here) failed that test ultimately; I hardly ever wear them now. The FBA’s were successful on those shirts, but the back and arms were impossibly tight if my arms weren’t kept down at my sides at all times. I obviously didn’t raise my arms at all when I was fitting that shirt last year. Ugh. So my beautiful purple linen shirt just taunts me every time I walk into the closet.
But back to the muslin of the Archer shirt. Yes, I did manage to make one. I traced and cut out a size 8 based on my upper bust measurement. I thought that size, combined with a 1/2 inch FBA (total of 1 inch increase) and the largish ease of the shirt, I was sure to have a winner right off the bat. Surely my muslin with FBA included would fit perfectly and I could cut out my beloved purple buffalo plaid shirting immediately after.
Having learned my hard-earned lesson of raising your arms when checking fit, I learned that the size 8 was too small, even with my FBA. *sigh*
NOTES: I made up the muslin without the gathered back bottom or collar and cuffs. I didn’t think they were necessary to check fit. Oh one more thing, I sewed up both of my sleeves for this muslin for a reason. I know some people only sew up one sleeve on muslins, but having had issues with sleeve and back tightness before, I wanted to be sure that I could raise my arms, both of them, in the muslin. One sleeve wouldn’t have ensured that.
I sent these pictures to a couple of sewing friends and they confirmed what I suspected. I should probably go up a size and maybe increase the FBA, but keep the shoulders the same.
So guess what I’m doing today? Yep, making another muslin. I can feel the dread creeping in already. In fact, I’m procrastinating right now by writing this post instead of tracing out the new pattern. Hah!
Now I want to reiterate that my fitting woes have nothing to do with the pattern. I would have these problems with any pattern when you take my middle aged body (lack of defined waist) and D cup boobage into consideration. That’s what gets me down. I know fitting is a huge learning curve, but I’m just a little tired of it all at this stage. I just want to be able to sew something without endless muslins. I realize that eventually I will have a few TNT patterns, but the process of getting there is just so painful and slow.
I don’t mean to be a debbie downer here. I am just a little frustrated with all this fitting angst. Ok, enough procrastination, I’m off to sew up another muslin.
Wish me luck!
Hey there peeps! Long time, no talk. I wish I could say I’ve been busy sewing, but I haven’t. To be honest, I’ve been in a bit of a productive slump of late. But I hope to jumpstart things today.
And thanks for all the great feedback on my last post. I had mentioned that I wasn’t sure that draping was a practical class for me (or anyone really) if your dressform isn’t an exact replica of your body. There were a lot of interesting comments on it is just one of the tools we can use but not the be all and end all of patternmaking. I can definitely see that I could use it in the future as a supplement to what I already do now and whatever I learn in the future. And no one method is the holy grail. Every pattern making method will need some tweaks and/or alterations.
So, the last two weeks we’ve been working on the princess seam bodice. I actually missed class #6 which introduced the princess seam bodice as I was sick that day. I have a buddy in class who told me what we worked on and gave me the homework assignment which was to make another princess seam bodice so that we could alter it in this week’s class #7. I tried to work on it on my own, but the textbook left out one crucial bit of information on how to drape it and I couldn’t figure it out on my own. Seriously, how could a textbook do that?!?! I thought I must have been missing something, like my brain wasn’t understanding it, but instead, it was actually missing from the text itself. I was super mad when I realized it.
You start by draping the center front panel and mark the princess seam on your muslin. Take it off, true up the pattern and put it back on the dressform. Then drape the side front panel, marking all the seams. On the prepared muslins for these two draped front sections, you are to mark the horizontal line for the bust apex and for the side panel, and on the side panel only, mark a vertical line in the center for your grainline. The front panel went swimmingly well. But the instructions in the textbook left out that the grainline marking of your side panel muslin should be placed in the center of your side panel (the princess panel). I placed it on the princess line and didn’t have enough fabric to reach the side seam and couldn’t smooth the fabric over my bust without creating a lot of darts. When you place it correctly, in the middle of the side panel, the grain of the fabric is on the bias when it is smoothed over your bust and there are no extra folds of fabric. But how would you know that without being to told where to place that grainline? So irritating.
In class yesterday, I was shown the proper way and had to drape my first princess seam bodice in about 10 minutes, front and back. I quickly threw it together, trued it up and pinned it together.
It wasn’t elegant and pucker-free as it was just pinned and not sewn. As soon as everyone had caught up (including me), we started hacking away at our princess seam bodices to create whatever we wanted, like a strapless bodice, a corset, etc. Some people added straps and one even added a T-strap. I just went the simple route and cut away a strapless bodice that could be made into a corset. You know, because every 45 year old woman should have one. ;)
Interesting Note: Once we drew the silhouette of the strapless shape we wanted on our princess seam bodices and cut away the excess, we needed to snug up the princess seams and side seams at the top of the bodice a bit for a better fit, removing the ease that was inherent to the original draped pattern. Otherwise, the strapless bodices wouldn’t stay up.
The teacher then taught us how much and where to add extra seam allowances for boning channels and the different ways you can do it. Very interesting. And we made up our paper pattern pieces from our muslin. Oh, and I almost forgot, you should mark the bust point with a notch and notch 2 inches above the point and below when it’s pinned all together so that you have matching notches on both front panels for when you sew it up.
The back panels are draped the same as the front except that the horizontal lines on the muslin correspond with the yoke style lines marked on your dressform.
Next week, we are supposed to bring in some denim or twill fabric, boning and our sewing machines to sew up the bodices. That will be an interesting class. In the meantime, I will re-drape my princess seam bodice so that I have the complete pattern. Once I had the grainline right on the front side panel, it was kind of magical to see it work on the dress form. The pieces look so interesting in the flat.
And in n0n-sewing news, I took another paint class with my girlfriends this week. It was a different company this time and I like the one we used before much better. This company, PaintNite, holds their paint class events in restaurants where lighting is not optimal, the paints they use weren’t as good and smelled really bad and the teacher wasn’t as good. The first company we used held their classes in a studio setting with great lighting and great paints, and the teacher was phenomenal. We are definitely going back to the first one again, PaintNVineyard. Here’s my sunflower.
I hope to start muslining the Grainline Archer shirt today. Wish me luck!