Week 25: Pattern alterations

Firstly: I once again did not entirely finish off the last bits of the peach bra. I think my problem is just that I haven’t been able to decide how to finish it. I haven’t decided if I want to trim away the fabric behind the lace on the cups, or leave it and tack it down. And then I can’t decide if I want to take in the extra amount as a dart, knowing that it could be an uncomfortable seam to be right up against my breast. I really need to make those decisions and do the work this week, because I want that bra to come with me to Japan and it’s coming up real quick now.

I did successfully get all but one last thing on the nightgown done, though:

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The neckline trim worked really well, and gives it a more polished look, even if it wants to turn out unpleasantly near the middle. I also hemmed it (by machine this time), so all I have left is to trim the back straps and then hand-stitch them under the back seam so they don’t fray.

I figure some night this week I’ll sit down with a movie and finish up all the hand sewing for both the bra and the nightgown.

What I did do for the bra, however, was move the needed alterations to the pattern. And I took a lot of process pics.

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Here’s the amount that needs to be pinched out. I followed recommendations from the Craftsy comments last time in order to make my dart, but this time I decided to take out fabric where I need it. There was a very obvious pleat while wearing this, so I just traced the edges of it on both sides with my fabric marker. You can see it forms sort of a fishtail dart.

I measured where it started and ended, and placed the two relevant cup pieces together at the seams so I could mark it on the pattern:

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I’m glad I did that bottom cup split last time, it makes for a very convenient ending point for my weird pleat.

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Left is the 2nd draft, with the split cup and the initial cross-cup pleat taken out. Right is my new version, with a more substantial cross-cup pleat.

You can see that  the new version is much narrower to the left of the strap. I actually made one further modification after this that isn’t worth picturing – I had to take a 1/4″ dart out of the bottom cup to true up the seam lines.

It’s not worth ordering materials so close to my trip, but I think after I’m back I’d like to try out my new pattern modification. I have enough fabric left from the two kits I’ve ordered that so long as I’m willing to have a two-tone bra (spoiler alert: I am), I should just need to order the elastics and hardware, which will make it a much cheaper experiment.

As far as button-down shirts go, I decided on the Cashmerette Harrison pattern, largely because I’ve heard such great things about the fit. I’m a size 18 on top and between a 20-22 on the bottom, so I graded the pattern to a 20 and am hoping that the design ease will make up for the extra inch. I’m also planning to leave one-inch seam allowances on the sides to allow for anything I need to take in/out.

You’ll also notice that I traced off and shortened the sleeve pattern, because no way do I want long sleeves in July. I haven’t decided if I want to try to mod the cuff to work on the short sleeve or not. Given my time constraints, I’ll probably just hem it up and call it good. (I should probably add an actual hem allowance – I just sort of held up the sleeve at the shoulder and eyeballed where I wanted it to end, which means I probably don’t want to just cut the fabric there.)

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Taping this together and cutting it out took way more time than I anticipated, and I think there are more pieces to this pattern than any pattern I’ve made before (with the possible exception of an ill-fated Halloween jacket I tried to make many years ago). I’ve also never sewn princess seams, and I haven’t sewn a collar in god knows how long. I’m pretty nervous about trying to get this done in a week (a week, that is all I have left, holy crap), and I don’t want to stress myself out too badly before the trip, so I may reach the end of the week and just say “You know… let’s not,” and call it good. WE’LL SEE.

The handsewing I have left really does need to get done by next week, though.

Goals for next week:

  • Bra: handsewing (around lace, dart) and closing up the underwire channels.
  • Nightgown: trim and hand-stitch the strap ends.
  • Harrison shirt: as much as possible! Hopefully the whole thing!
  • Pics of the wardrobe I’ll be packing

 

Week 24: Nightgown

The problem with cutting out fabric is that I usually want to start sewing immediately afterward.

Which is why the nightgown is almost entirely done, haha.

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This fabric is 100% rayon, and it’s amazing how fragile it felt while I was working on it compared to how it felt when I tried it on. I’m not really convinced I made a good choice in using it for a nightgown, but I guess time will tell. (It’s almost too pretty to sleep in; I’m having second thoughts all over the place. But I certainly can’t wear it outside.)

It was a nightmare to cut. I don’t have a large enough cutting surface to hold the entire front skirt piece, and it was cut on the bias in a single layer, so trying to get it on the bias grain without stretching was a feat I only sorta succeeded at. The front skirt in particular wound up about half an inch shorter than it should have been, due to having to move the fabric around while it was pinned to the pattern. I have heard that spray starch is useful for keeping fabric from slipping around too much, so I might try that when I make something with the remainder.

Unsurprisingly, given the grading I had to do, the fit isn’t quite right – the cup size is a bit small, and the underbust actually wound up a bit too large – I took in the side seams and graded out under the waist to help a little, but it’s never going to be my best-fitting garment. Thank goodness it’s for sleeping.

I ran into some pattern weirdness on the bodice because I opted not to add lace like the pattern calls for, so I have a long front binding piece that I didn’t need at all, and I had to take out a row of stitching when I realized it was sewn wrong sides together so that it could have the lace attached to it. I went back and did french seams on the yoke instead, then top stitched them down to prevent the seams from flopping around.

The other problem that arose from not having any lace is that the 1/4″ seam allowance that they had me turn over in the first step is a raw edge, and even though I did a 3-step zigzag over it to try to keep it from fraying out, it’s going to fray a little bit right at the neckline unless I do something to stop it. Fortunately, I have some peach neckline trim elastic leftover from my peach bra (that I still haven’t done the finishing touches on…) that I think will work perfectly.

As for my sloper skirt, I finished it off on Sunday night, and then almost wore it out to coffee on Wednesday before I remembered that it still has fabric marker all over it, hah. I’m excited to see how it wears over the course of a full day.

I catch-stitched the hem, and you can see my hand overcasting on the seam edges, too. I left the side seams at 1″ in case I need to make future alterations.

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The last thing I want to make before my trip is a short-sleeve button-down shirt. I have this blue and white seersucker that I think will be nice and cool for wandering around in humid weather (of which, I’m told, there will be plenty).

Goals for next week:

  • Find a button-down shirt pattern and make fitting adjustments
  • Hem and add neckline trim to nightgown
  • Peach bra finishing touches (this time for sure!)

Week 23 – Nightgown Pattern Alterations and Sloper Skirt

Well! This week was filled with time-consuming stuff that doesn’t look all that impressive. Also I sidetracked from my stated goals from last week, but no matter. It’s my blog and I’ll do what I want to. 🙂

Firstly, it turns out that the pattern I ordered with the lingerie Craftsy class is a size bracket smaller than I needed – the largest size on the pattern was about seven inches too small in all three measurements, so I had to do some significant grading to get it up to the right size. I haven’t really done a tone of size grading, and this pattern had more pieces than I’ve had to alter for anything before, so it took quite a bit longer than I’d anticipated.

However! Results:

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Not shown: the front piece, which also had additional width added

Not the most visually appealing image in the world, and I probably should have pressed the tissue before working with it, but I was impatient. The basic width changes are probably fine, but I’m a little worried about the cup – I knew it needed more width at the bottom, but with a quick tissue-fitting before I made the cut, it didn’t seem like the cup needed to be substantially bigger, so I didn’t do a real FBA, just the width adjustment. Hopefully that works out all right for me.

I got the fabric washed and dried, too, so I’m ready to actually get this nightgown started this week.

Meanwhile, instead of putting the finishing touches on the bra, I got annoyed at all the skirt sloper pieces hanging around and decided I really wanted to finish that up, so I made some good progress on that.

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There is actually far more cat hair on it than you can see here, because that is what happens to things that sit around my house.

I fixed the dart positioning, although my darts are still a little puckery (I’m pretty sure it’s a sewing problem and not a pattern problem). It has a nice, snug-but-comfortable fit that I’m hoping will the skirt rotation issues I’ve had with my other pencil skirt.

I’m hand-overcasting the seams because I’m a masochist I need something to do while watching TV, and that is time-consuming enough that it probably won’t be done for a few days. Then I need to hem it up, and probably wash it to get rid of all the fabric marker I used trying to fit this thing. I’ve already made the pattern adjustments, so now theoretically I have a skirt sloper pattern that I can use to help fit my other patterns, which is very exciting!

 

Goals for next week:

My trip is coming up in just over three weeks, and I’d like to get this nightgown and a button-down shirt done before I go, so I’m going to have to be really on the ball.

  • Finish overcasting and hemming the sloper skirt
  • Finishing touches on bra
  • Cut out nightgown fabric and start assembly

Week 22: Bra #2 and Shorts

I didn’t make it quite through all the small things on my list from last time, but on the other hand, I got way more done on the big projects, so I think it comes out pretty even.

First off, the small things that weren’t really worth photographing. I did bar tack the Akita shirt, although when I was going through the binding, I couldn’t find any of the raw edges I remember. I’m sure they’ll turn up again when I wash it and they start to fray. I also split the side seams on the black knit shirt and stitched them up separately, but I have not yet figured out how I want to handle the weird neckline facing issue. Topstitching it down would be the most effective, I think, but I’m not sure if visually it will be weird. (On the other hand, having to adjust the facing constantly throughout the day to tuck it back in is pretty visually weird, so…)

For some reason I thought that hand-stitching even the first part of the bias tape to the York neckline was a good idea, so that has gone more slowly than I’d anticipated.

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I’m very nearly finished, though, and then I’ll just have to rip out that stay stitching. I haven’t touched the shoulder dart yet, so that’s still on the docket.

Undergarments below the cut. (Why am I suddenly all weird about this when my very first post was about underwear? Who even knows. Thanks, anxiety!)

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Week 21 – Skirt Sloper Test Drive

Where did my motivation go? I didn’t feel like doing anything this week, which I’m sure is at least partially due to the unseasonably warm weather, but it does suck for trying to get stuff done.

The sloper is not working out as well as it had seemed in the muslin. I was despairing last night that I’d never get the stupid skirt sloper figured out and never have an actual, fitting skirt, but today is a new day and I’m almost ready to tackle it again.

The waist-to-hip ratio is still correct, and it actually sits in place where it is supposed to, which is wonderful, but the darts are… weird. I wound up lengthening the dart I’d had to shorten by almost the same amount I’d originally shortened it, and then the longer dart by the center back seam seems to be ending in excess fabric, which, now that I put it into words like that, means it is probably too long. Then there’s this:

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I’m pretty sure this is supposed to be a smooth line, and not a grand staircase.

You can see where I offset the zipper down a bit in the expectation that I’d have to chop those steps off. I’m sure this must have been a problem on the muslin that I just overlooked. The side seams are also doing some weird things, and look like they need to be raised a little to make the waistline sit evenly.

I think I’m going to wind up with like five pencil skirts before I have the fit down right, and I don’t even really like pencil skirts, haha. That said, this one actually fits comfortably, and if I can just fix the darts, the waistband will cover up most of the weirdness at the waist.

This is material leftover from the ill-fated pants project of last year. It’s kind of a heavy, almost denim fabric, which is great for showing where all my fitting flaws are. It was actually a really good choice for this, since it doesn’t stretch nearly as much as the muslin. While I was ironing it I figured out why it was at Goodwill, though – it has some weird color variations. I doubt anyone will notice it when it’s out in public, though, and if they do, that’s their problem.

 

I successfully printed out and graded up the pattern for the shaper shorts, as intended. I had to grade up by about one and a half sizes. Thankfully, Beverly’s sizes are all evenly graded up (meaning the difference between 6 and 8 at a given point is the same as the difference between 14 and 16, etc.), so it was easy enough to add, say, 3/8ths instead of a quarter inch. It should be pretty easy to assemble, being only two pattern pieces.

And then yesterday I went to Joann to pick up thread for the shorts, not realizing it was their Memorial Day sale? So instead of the quick in-and-out trip I was planning on, I wound up staying for an hour and a half looking through the Simplicity pattern book since Simplicity patterns were 5 for $5.

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I also picked up elastic for the shorts, and then I thought I’d buy fabric for the nightgown I’ve been planning to make since I watched the lingerie Craftsy class, and found this ridiculously cheerful spring floral rayon that I just love:

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As I was falling asleep I started thinking about it and I was like “Crap, do I want to use that excellent spring fabric for a nightgown? Maybe I really want to make a dress, or a top, or something that I can wear not just for sleeping?” So now I’m having a fabric crisis about that. I got four yards (didn’t have the pattern and figured I’d aim high), so I might be able to squeeze both a top and nightgown out of it, if I’m very careful with my cutting.

Goals for next week:

I feel like I have a lot of little things that aren’t quite done, so I want to see if I can knock some of those out.

  • York 2: add the blue bias binding, and see if turning the tucks into real darts helps the shoulder issue.
  • Akita: hand overcast the bits of the binding that didn’t get caught, and add the bar tacks to the waist
  • Minor alterations to a black knit shirt to help it hang better over my hips (also maybe do something about the facing, it’s annoyingly flippy)
  • Shorten green corduroy pants
  • Skirt sloper tweaks – would like to actually have a skirt next week
  • Cut out fabric for shorts
  • Cut out fabric for bra

Week 20 – Skirt Sloper

So about a year ago, just after I moved into my new apartment that had actual space to sew, I got frustrated that my newly-made skirt didn’t fit quite right. I’d measured, I’d made a muslin, I did everything I was supposed to do, but it still tended to ride up at the waist, which is a problem I’ve had with every skirt ever. I love my skirts, but oh boy is that annoying. And isn’t the point of sewing to make things that actually fit you?

In the midst of looking for fitting information, I found reference to slopers and how to use them to help fit other patterns, and I decided that was the solution to all of my woes. I’d just make my own pattern based on my measurements and then it would fit, right?

I bought the full collection of Suzy Furrer’s sloper classes on Craftsy (skirt, pants, and bodice). They are really fantastic classes, but definitely pattern drafting classes, not fitting classes. There are a few fitting tips in there, and the discussion forum is (as usual) a fantastic source of information, but three attempts at a fitting skirt sloper later, I still didn’t have something that fit quite right.

So I moved onto the pants sloper class, because if you can’t fit a skirt, obviously the thing to do is to try to fit a pair of pants. Yeah, that didn’t work out so well for me. Finally, I just decided that I should stick to trying to fit existing patterns as well as I could, and I’d revisit the sloper thing later.

Since I didn’t have anything in particular planned for this week, I decided it was time.

I pretty quickly noticed that I had the same problem as last time I drafted the sloper – the side seam hung almost entirely in a diagonal line, with the back hem higher than the front. My fitting book library helped me figure out that a) I needed to substantially raise the center back seam to add length to go over my butt and b) I needed to eliminate the front darts completely. I have a 10″ difference between my hips and my waist, but that difference is not in the front.

Here’s the original back pattern piece (no seam allowances) on top of the final version (seam allowances included):

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And the final back piece on its own:

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I eliminated the center back dart that Suzy has you add in the class, because I was adding that second dart right by the seam anyway and really wanted the center back to be straight all the way up for closure purposes. I had to widen the existing dart to help make up those inches from the front darts, too. I tried moving it out further to the side so it would look more balanced, but it didn’t fit as smoothly out there. I pulled the second dart into the length I’d pinned out at center back, but it seems like it might be kind of long? I think I still want to play with the dart lengths on an upcoming sample skirt project, since the muslin is getting a little stretched from extensive pinning at this point.

The only thing I did on the front drafted piece was X-out the dart, so it really wasn’t interesting enough to photograph. That pretty much solved every front fitting problem I’ve ever had, and I’m kind of mad at myself that I was so fixated on making my skirt sloper “normal” last year that I didn’t just take the stupid darts out.

So that was my sloper adventure this week!

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My new bra fabric kit arrived on Thursday, and it’s so pretty in the little package that I’m almost afraid to take it out and do anything with it. Surely nothing I make with it can be that pretty! But I’d like to learn to work with lace, and I love my last bra so much that I am excited to have another one.

I got more shaper fabric in that same peach, so that is another thing that I could start in on this week. And of course I want to make a basic pencil skirt with my new sloper.

And then there are the patterns. I went browsing other pattern sites while I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do this week (before deciding on the sloper project), and holy crap.

I want to make this dress like I’ve never wanted to make a sleeveless dress before in my life. I want to make basically every single thing in Deer and Doe’s current collection (with the possible exception of the skinny jeans, which are not a good look for me). I saw some versions of the Appleton Dress that 100% sold me on it, so now I want to make that. And I still have this great 1940s dress pattern and all the fabric/notions for it that I postponed work on after the great pants incident.

So, you know. I guess I should figure out which of those patterns I want to work on the most, because I can’t do all of them at once (or can I?)

Goals for next week:

  • Sloper test skirt – start to end
  • Print and cut out shaper shorts pattern
  • Cut out bra fabric? I might want to think harder about how to place the lace on this thing before I get started.

 

Week 19: Manila #2 and Bra #1

Hey there! I made a bra this week! I’m going to cover everything non-bra-related before the cut, so you can easily stop reading at that point if you don’t want to read in depth information about (my) boobies.

Sewing

So the first order of business for the week was my second pair of the Manila leggings.

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I really love this pattern. I should definitely have done some pattern matching, because one of those roses gets cut off right at center front, but fortunately these are leggings, and I subscribe to the “leggings aren’t pants” school of thought (at least on me). That cut-off rose will always be under a skirt, haha.

One of the freeing things about being a mediocre seamstress is that you can’t do much worse than ready to wear when it comes to pattern matching. If it sucks, people will assume you bought cheap pants – not the greatest thing for them to think when you put a bunch of work into something, but at least they won’t secretly judge your sewing failure.

Hand basting the waistband didn’t quite save me this time – I still wound up with one side of the waistband not tacked down in the seam, and had to unpick it and stitch it back down. I realized when I was doing the petal cuffs this time though that pressing this material actually does work, and keeps it from rolling – so next time I use something similar I’ll try pressing the waistband before I stitch it. I’m also tempted to wear gloves next time I use this fabric – it kept catching on nicks I couldn’t even feel on my fingers and fingernails.

As a side project, I’ve been unpicking a pair of black corduroys that met a tragic end by splitting right down the butt while I was out and about. Now that I’m sewing regularly, I was like “ooh, fabric!” and started thinking about things I could do with the remaining good fabric. I figured a knee-length skirt would be a good candidate, and I made Selene awhile back, and although I need to fix some fitting issues with it, it has that center front panel that would allow me to use a smaller piece from the pants. Unfortunately, when I laid the pattern out on the fabric, it became pretty clear I wasn’t going to have enough:

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Of course Kaylee sat right on the clean fabric as soon as it came out of the dryer.

I might be able to tweak the back pattern to separate it into two pieces, but I think even doing that, there’s not enough good fabric left to cover the whole thing. The seat area has marks from where the pockets were, and the front pockets cut into my usable area on the front. I didn’t even bother to lay out the waistband pieces, because if needed I could have done the waistband in a separate fabric.

So, sadly, Selene is not going to work out for me here. I’m also questioning whether I can manage a skirt just from this one pair of pants at all. I might have to stash it and use it for a much smaller project, or as an accent fabric on something.

Complete tangent here: unpicking these pants was a really interesting experience. When I was a kid, probably even into my teen years, I assumed that ready to wear clothes were made entirely by machine. I don’t think it really occurred to me that real people could be making so many clothes, or that it would be so inexpensive if they were. Unpicking my inexpensive ready to wear pants reminded me that there are people behind the clothes we buy, sewing the same seams I’d be sewing if I made them myself. They do it day in and day out, on the same style of garment over and over again, and they’re paid substantially less than I am so that I can afford to buy a pair of pants that sort of fit me for less than $30.

Unpicking just felt like a weird sort of communion with the people overseas who did the sewing on them in the first place. This whole year of making all my clothes is at least partially to make me mindful of the process that goes into my ready to wear clothes, but this is the first time it’s really hit home.

OK, enough with the serious stuff, on to boobies!

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