Week 31: Bodice Sloper (front)

It seems that drafting and doing a muslin for the bodice sloper was way too ambitious for a single week, haha. It might have been all right if I hadn’t run into issues with drafting, but of course I did, that’s what always happens with my measurements and drafting things.

I worked through the first sloper (using Suzy Furrer’s bodice sloper Craftsy class) and started running into problems as soon as I had to attach the side length to where it was supposed to hit the underarm. The side length I measured was way too long to hit the guide. I re-measured and reduced the length a bit, and then based on some comments I reduced it even more, but then when I got to the armhole (whose size is affected by the side length), the armhole was many inches too small.  I double-checked all my measurements, and they were fine.

A few days later when I’d recovered enough to think about drafting again, I started looking at pattern drafting software – the computer and I are good, old friends, and I almost always work better digitally. First I looked specifically at pattern drafting software, all of which are kind of expensive, but I figured if it will save me time and heartache, then it could be worth it. I finally downloaded the demo of Wild Ginger’s Pattern Master Boutique, which looks like excellent software, but wasn’t quite what I wanted. The pattern editor, which was closer to what I was looking for, was not intuitive to me. Finally I went to Inkscape, which I’ve looked at before for other drawing purposes but hadn’t been back to in awhile. I was pretty excited by just the grid options, which I’m pretty sure makes me a huge nerd.

inkscape grid
Doesn’t look like much but I literally squealed.
Basically you can set up multiple grids with different colors and different scales. I have two grids here, one is set up as a one-inch grid and the other is a 1/8th inch grid. Plus because you can snap to the grid, it makes a lot of calculations really easy. It was still a learning curve, but it was more similar to other art programs I’ve used, so it felt more intuitive.

Anyway, after another three hours of digital drafting this time, I wound up with a front bodice sloper that has exactly the same problems as my hand-drawn one. I was able to make a few alterations that helped a bit (I raised the shoulder point since I have pretty square shoulders, which gave me an extra inch or so) but I’m still not sure about it. If I can figure out how to line the pages up when I print it, I might try to muslin it anyway and make my alterations from there (I mean after I finish the back draft, I guess…) I’m also tempted to buy a fitting pattern and just fit something that is already pre-drafted.

inkscape front sloper
Turned the grid off for this one so it’s easier to see the lines.
Goals for next week:

I’m still not really sure what I want to do with the sloper so I think it’s on hold this week. In the meantime, my mending like is starting to pile up and I want to knock some of that out, so I think the major goal for this week will be that. 

The heat wave this past week meant that knitting was the last thing I was interested in doing – if it’s cooler this week, I’d like to actually work on those socks!

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 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 15: York 2 and Honeycomb Socks

First off, I guess the big news I alluded to last week is that I’m going to Japan in July! It’s been a dream for years, and I’m finally making it happen. That said, I sort of panicked as soon as I booked my tickets. Over everything. One part of “everything” was clothes – I don’t really have anything spring/summer colored in my wardrobe, which hasn’t ever bothered me a whole lot here, but for some reason the idea of international travel without appropriate clothing freaked me out? I dunno man, blame my anxiety.

Anyway, since I’m not buying any clothes this year, that has to be remedied by making them, and given my recent timeline for making a single garment (one every, six weeks or so) I decided I had to step up my game if I want to have a few new things for July.

I sat down on Monday night with some whiskey and the Seamwork catalog (I’m a subscriber and had 12 credits built up, so I figured it was a good way to keep my costs for this crazy project to just fabric and notions) and plotted out my next few months:

  1. York, part 2. I had a spring-y material in some kind of polyester from Goodwill that I figured would be perfect for this. Minor broad upper back adjustment to help with fit.
  2. Manila, probably 2 versions. I know it’s going to be humid and I’m hoping leggings will keep my legs from sticking to bus/train seats (or each other). Alternatively it could be too ungodly hot for leggings and I’ll go bare-legged anyway. Who can say? If I have them there I can wear them or not.
  3. Akita. I have at least two types of fabric I can make this from in my stash, and who can resist something that says one hour? (It will take me more than an hour, guaranteed, but hopefully not weeks.) Not sure the cap sleeves are going to be flattering, but we’ll see.

I would love to make the Arden dress in time, but I’m sort of thinking that separates will give me more options in less packing space.

I also have ambitions toward the Margot PJ pants from Tilly and the Buttons‘ book, because my PJ situation is dire and I’m hosteling it through Japan so other people will actually see my PJs, and also toward a new bra because it’s time, but those are lower priority than the numbered bits above.

Sewing

Since I had the pattern already cut out and tested for York, that was an easy place to start this week.

Step 1 was to make those broad back adjustments:

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This seemed super easy. Add extra width, smooth the line down to the waist on the side and true up the shoulder seam. The back shoulder would need a little tuck to make it fit the front shoulder, but that is easy peasy. The whole pattern adjustment took maybe 30 minutes. I added some extra width at the hips, too, in the hopes I could avoid leaving the side seams open (I failed – still not quite wide enough lol).

After the pattern was all adjusted, I cut out the fabric (so much easier with this fabric than the last fabric) and started sewing. And because I hate myself, I decided to do Hong Kong seams on the whole damn shirt this time.

I didn’t wind up taking a whole lot of in-progress pics, but I did make a lot of progress.

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I just have the hemming left to do. And topstitching the cuff seam down, because I missed that step.

Also I french seamed the armholes, which I am stupidly pleased with.

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I even got the straps in the back to fold in on themselves and make a real cord! It was a terrible pain in the ass, as was the entirety of the bound neckline. This fabric doesn’t want to take a crease very well, so I gave up on folding and pressing my bias tape into a double fold and just tried to stitch very carefully on the 1/4″ line around the neckline and then fold it over from there.

Of course, that necessitated stitching from the back side to make sure I was catching the edge of the bias tape underneath, which means the front looks like this:

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Yeah, it’s not ideal. I’m still going back and forth on whether I want to take it out and redo it. If I do it again I’ll probably do it by hand, because at the speed I was going I might as well have been stitching the thing by hand.

Meanwhile, that broad back pattern adjustment? Did not quite work out as intended. It does feel like it’s not binding quite as badly, but now there’s a weird fold from my back shoulder tuck down to the back of the arm that forms this little pocket that I don’t like. I’m almost wondering if I shouldn’t just have added extra width across the whole back instead of just the upper back? I’ll have to play around with it if I make the shirt again.

Cool Sewing Machine Stuff

Oh hey, I almost forgot! Meet Elsie:

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Elsie was my other grandmother’s old (much older) sewing machine. This picture was supposed to be of the really interesting bobbin winding mechanism, but you can only barely see the thread. It’s more like what I’ve seen on some of the old Singers in YouTube vids.

(Elsie is named after my grandmother’s favorite sister, who died in a car crash in the 1940s, because again, naming things after my grandmothers themselves seems weird, but naming them after their favorite people is… somehow… not?)

I decided to tackle the tension problems on my machines before I got sewing this week. The Brother machine that I’d given up on during my last York because of tension problems was magically working fine again. I think she just didn’t want to touch that fabric anymore and called it quits. Last time I tested Elsie I couldn’t figure out what was up with her tension either, but this time I figured out that it was just the bobbin tension that was too tight, so I loosened the bobbin case screw a bit and suddenly she has the cleanest stitches out of any of my active machines. Yes!

The only remaining weirdness with Elsie is that the belt I got to replace her very old, very falling apart belt is just a touch too big – it’s the larger of two sizes that would fit her, and I should have gone with the smaller one. Most of the time it’s fine, but every so often the smaller gear won’t actually catch the belt and the needle won’t move.

I also figured out a zig-zag feature that is pretty neat – you can set the market on the right to a higher number and leave the lower marker where it is, and then you can use your thumb to adjust the width of the zig-zag between those two values while you’re sewing, which is pretty badass. You could do some really neat decorative stitches with it, if you could consistently sew a straight line (I’m still working on that, haha).

Knitting

I sort of low-key freaked out about turning the heel on these socks for a good two days. And then I was like “Ok, Miranda, blog entry time is coming up, just figure out how to do the damn heel.”

The written instructions seriously looked like gibberish, like I had some mental block against processing them, so I went to YouTube. YouTube was not as helpful as I wanted, because I’d already finished the full gusset one way. I wasn’t going to take it out and do a different style of gusset and heel turn just because I’m hyperventilating over how to do this stupid heel turn. (Why, anxiety, why?)

Finally I found what is apparently known as a Fleegle heel, which has the same gusset setup as I’d already done, and which is… exactly the same heel turn I’m used to on top down socks, with the minor change of doing the last purl decrease row on the way back around the round. Exactly the same heel turn I’ve been doing for years. Seriously. My brain.

Anyway it looks totally different:

Left is the Fleegle heel on a toe-up sock, right is a top-down sock I made years ago. You can see the little heel turn triangle on both of them, just with different orientations. Now I’m onto the leg, and discovering that the mock honeycomb pattern is harder to pull off in the round. I am probably going to have a weird little jog at the start of the row, but it’s unlikely anyone will notice but me.

Goals for next week:

  • Finish hemming the 2nd york shirt. Figure out if I’m going to redo the neckline or not. (Probably yes, because the other seams are so tidy!)
  • The first Akita shirt, because I’ve already printed the pattern.
  • Finish the honeycomb socks?

This… could be too ambitious, but I guess we’ll find out!

Week 11: Pattern alterations and socks

I am still fighting that stupid cold, but at least my schedule has freed up a bit.

Sewing

I went at the front of that cardigan pattern like Edward Scissorhands this week, enough so that I thought I’d actually post the alterations:

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It’s a shame I didn’t quite catch the left edge. Great composition skills there. So that addition at the bottom is the original four-inch lengthening that I did to get the waistline to the right point while I was at my mom’s. Because I also needed to lengthen the armscythe, I decided to split the difference and add 2 inches at the armscythe and turn the 4 inches into 2 at the lengthen/shorten line. Hopefully that doesn’t come back to bite me in the ass. I added the same amount to the sleeve and redrew the sleeve cap to match, so I don’t think I’m missing anything there, but I’ve never really had to alter the sleeve substantially before, so… *fingers crossed*

I sort of guesstimated how much wider it needed to be to adjust for the bust, and went with another even 2 inches, because why not. But I didn’t want to affect the shoulder seam length, so I wedged it out and cut through that section above the lengthen/shorten addition and going to the side seam, which you can see has overlapped those a bit. I also couldn’t quite get the shoulder seam 100% closed up and keep the pattern flat, so I went ahead and redrew the seam where it naturally fell when everything was nice and flat.

Lastly, I didn’t want to add two inches to the back in order to make the side seams match, and I didn’t think I was quite safe to slice through my addition and close it all the way up at the side seam, so I reduced it down to 7/8s of an inch, and then added that to the back piece as well.

This is kind of a lot of pattern adjustments and I’m way more nervous about them than I sound, haha. I’m sincerely hoping that because it’s all in knit fabric, it should be forgiving of the fact that I’m estimating numbers all over the place and barely know what I’m doing.

Knitting

I am really close to that toe decrease point. Every time I try the sock on to check it looks like four more rows, but I’ve done “just four more rows” three times now, haha.

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Who doesn’t love a manila envelope?

I’m counting this goal as “achieved” because yeah, it’s super close. And I have a whole lot of yarn left! I’m pretty excited to weigh the socks and the yarn when both are done and see if I can squeeze another pair out of it.

Goals for next week:

  • Finish the socks
  • Cut out fabric
  • Start sewing? I don’t even know what the first step is, but hopefully I can at least finish step 1 from the instructions before Mass Effect comes out on… crap, tomorrow night? Um….

Week 9 Report: Cardigan pattern fitting and two at a time sock heels

Sewing

I’m light on pics today because realistically pattern alterations are not super exciting. I did successfully get the pattern traced off and then met with my mom today to do lunch and fitting, which went reasonably well. I did look up an FBA for knits, but it looked like standard for non-fitted knits is just to add width and height, so that’s what I decided to do.

After pinning the front, it was clear I was going to need more length, so I went ahead and spliced in about three and a half inches while it was still pinned to her, which got it down to the right length so that the marked waistline was at her natural waist. The back length was fine without any tweaks, so I’m not sure how I’m going to fit the front to the back at the side seams. On the drive home I also realized that I had forgotten to tweak the pattern width-wise, and I know I do need to increase that a little bit as well. So I might be able to do a thing where I keep the side seam at its usual length, and then increase the length out to where I add the width, and keep the length long through the rest of the front? I’ll have to play around a bit with the pattern to see what I can do before I cut the fabric out.

One more adjustment that I opted not to do on the fly is the armscythe – it definitely seemed like the armscythe on this pattern was a bit short, just in the front. So I might pull some of the added length from the stomach into the upper chest area to accommodate that, and cut back on the amount added in the waist to help with the difference in the side seam.

Even after I make my adjustments, I’ll probably leave an inch seam allowance in the side seams for the basted fitting just to give us a little more leeway. I’m also super glad I am using a knit fabric right now, and that the pattern is only four pieces, haha.

Knitting

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They look kinda like little grumpy faces, don’t they?

Knitting went super fast this week, which is amazing considering I didn’t bring my two-at-a-time socks on my commute for fear of it tangling even worse than normal. “Maybe start down the heel flap” turned into “Finish the heel flap, turn the heel, and pick up the gusset stitches”. I think part of it is this yarn – just looking at it makes me want to knit. And the two at a time structure is fascinating and feels like it goes faster even though logically I know it can’t be.

I was a little concerned with how I was going to do the heel turn doing two at a time socks, but the answer is that you just turn the heel on one sock and then on the other socks. I turned the heel, picked up the gusset stitches along the left side of the heel flap, and then moved onto the other sock. When I finished the same on the second sock and knit through the top of the sock, I picked up the other half of the gusset stitches and put them on the heel side of the needle just like usual. I had less cord left on the needle than usual because of the other sock, but it all worked out fine here.

I will say, though, that I was feeling much better about my tension in that it seemed like my purl stitches were much closer to my knit stitches, up until I turned the stupid heel.

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Look at how big those stitches are! You can see my hand through them. These are size 000 needles, this is ridiculous. And it’s the heel of the sock, so I’d really like it to be very dense and hard-wearing. I did get some nylon thread to knit into my socks awhile back, but I keep forgetting to use it. Seems like that is a thing to stop forgetting.

I am still loving the two-at-a-time sock thing, and I’m not sure I’ll go back. I have some larger skeins of sock yarn and I’ve always wanted to make knee socks, but I’ve been afraid I’ll run out of yarn on the second sock and be stuck. If I can learn to do toe-up socks, I’ll be able to just keep going until I run out, and even if they aren’t tall enough they’ll at least be the same height. That might be my next pair.

Goals for next week:

  • Finish pattern adjustments
  • Figure out how to true up the side seams
  • Cut out material
  • Knit the foot down to where the toe decreases start