Week 51: Margot PJ pants, part 1

WHEW well with the holiday and everything going on with my house paperwork I almost forgot to do my update.

I did not, however, forget to do sewing! I graded up the pattern (really very easy with a multi-size pattern) and got all the pieces cut out.

Grading up in progress – the paper is lifting up a bit so it doesn’t look like it, but the dots are two sizes out from the last size. Once marking is done, you just connect the dots, easy peasy. Since you have to trace the pattern anyway, it’s really easy to do it at that point.

I wound up shortening the legs by about 3 and a quarter inches, because they were going to be really long on me. I’m not particularly short (5’5″), but I do often have problems with pant legs being too long.) I probably took a bit too much off and when I hem them they will be shorter than intended, which is actually fine by me. I was considering making them 3/4 length anyway, and decided against it for no particular reason, so a bit short is not a problem.

I’ve loved the owl flannel selections at the fabric store forever, so I had to jump on these flannel sheets when I saw them at the Bins. The fabric has clearly been used, but it’s overall in good condition. The fabric is white – the yellow is because we have no light in Portland in the winter. :\ I probably should have ironed it before cutting, too, but… they’re PJs.

Goals for next week:

  • Finish up the PJs
  • All the mending – I have a number of things sitting around waiting for me to mend them before I can wear them again, and I would like to start next year with a clean slate. Since I have no work next week and just house buying stuff to stress out about, this should be doable, right? RIGHT?

And of course, since it is Christmas Eve and all, Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate it. 🙂 I hope you’re with people you care about, or enjoying a quiet night alone if you prefer (that’s what I’m doing!)


Week 49: Still muslining

I am still working on my Lilliana muslining. I decided to go ahead and start over with the smaller size on the front, since I felt like there was too much going on in the front and I couldn’t figure out how to fix it. I had to true up the lengths between the two, since the size 16 actually had a longer side seam than the 18. In case you’re curious, here’s the difference between the straight and curvy blocks in Seamwork patterns (the one on top is a size 16, and the one on the bottom is a size 18. The 2 inches of added length on both is the only adjustment):

I did a full bicep adjustment to the sleeve, and then since I was using two different sizes on front and back, I had to add 3/8 inch to the sleeve seam at the front in order to get it to match up for sewing:

I decided to pin baste the muslin instead of sewing basting it until I have a pretty good feeling about where the seams actually need to be. So far it’s pretty clear I still need a full bust adjustment (although smaller than the one the size 18 has built in, I think). The shoulder seam also seems pulled really far forward, but I’m not sure if that’s because the bust is tugging it forward or if the shoulders are just strangely positioned on me, so I’m going to go ahead and do the full bust adjustment and then re-evaluate.

Without the sleeve set in, the back seems like it’s hanging fine, maybe a little too loose at the side. It’s possible that the sleeve was tugging itself and making it seem like the back was binding, and the full bicep adjustment will fix that? I’m hoping, anyway. I am almost certain that my ridiculously large broad back adjustment in the last muslin was a mistake, but we’ll see what happens when I finish up the main body adjustments and add the sleeve. (The temptation to add princess seams to the front and the back for better fitting is very strong.)

Goals for next week:

  • Keep on fitting… hopefully finish…. man I hate fitting
  • If fitting gets to be too much, I have some flannel owl sheets I got at the Bins that I’m pretty excited to turn into PJs – that would be a nice, relaxing project, haha.

Week 48: Lilliana muslining

I don’t exactly have any good pictures, because muslining is not super exciting. But I did actually cut everything out, baste it together, and then start the horrible process of trying to fit myself.

Before even sewing up the muslin, I tissue-fit (well, paper-fit) the pattern and made a few changes:

  • lengthened the whole body 2″ since it was supposed to hit just below the waistline and it really didn’t
  • lengthened the sleeve 1/2″
  • moved the bust point in about an inch
  • increased the seam allowance at the center back and side seams to 1″.

I also measured everything and myself again to make sure everything was big enough and had enough ease, and everything seemed fine, but as soon as I put on the muslin I knew I was gonna have to do some work.

My starting problems with the initial muslin:

  • Very constricting around the back/shoulders – I couldn’t pull my arms forward comfortably
  • It was about two inches longer in the front than in the back
  • The bust dart seemed a bit low – probably moreso because the dart is pressed down and is visible through the muslin
  • The front just felt too big in general
  • It felt like it was sliding back on my shoulders, like I needed to keep pulling it down to sit properly (I actually have this problem a lot with RTW, so I’m looking forward to figuring out which adjustment I can make to fix it).

The adjustments I’ve tried so far:

  • An enormous broad back adjustment (two inches either side, so four freaking inches total), which I probably need to convert to just a broad upper back adjustment since the waist now has way too much fabric on it. The upper back is about right, though. (Four inches?!!)
  • I tried pinching up some fabric at the underarm to do triple duty – bring up the hemline in front, raise the bust dart, and reduce the armhole depth to improve movement. This improved the look of the front, but made the arm constriction worse, so I undid it.
  • I noticed that the shoulder seemed a little low, like it was pulling off my shoulder, so I moved the shoulder point in a bit less than an inch to hit my shoulder bone.
  • The neckline seemed really wide, so I added about an inch to the inside of the shoulder.
  • Raising the shoulder dramatically improved my mobility (yay!), but the arm still seemed a bit snug and there were some drag lines like the sleeve was twisting. I decided to try slashing the upper arm to put in a full bicep adjustment, and that seems to be helping, although I’m still in the process of getting it pinned in the right place.

It’s pretty horribly frankensteined at this point, and I’m still not sure I’m addressing the right issues. I’m thinking about doing a round back adjustment (that might help the shorter back hem), and reducing the broad back adjustment amount (I still feel like four inches can’t possibly be right, all my fitting books seem to indicate that 1 1/2″ is the normal max addition – so maybe there is something else going on there).

The good thing is that this pattern is extremely simple, so the adjustments to it aren’t hard to implement. It’s just that I’m still really bad at fitting myself. I actually signed up for a fitting class at the Portland Fashion Institute in February where they will try to help you figure what sort of adjustments you need, so that should be helpful. I mean I hope I’m done with my jacket by then, but I’m going to try to get a fitting sloper fully fitted in the class so I can at least have a starting point for other patterns.

In the non-muslin front, I ordered some swatches from Mood for lining fabrics, since I don’t have enough lining-type fabric in my stash for this project (or at least nothing that will match). After seeing some recommendations online, I think I’m going to stitch a few little swatches of my fabric to the lining swatches and have it test dry-cleaned, in case the linings bleed. I love the dark, colorful linings, but I’m really afraid of, say, bright blue lining dying my white fabric blue when I get it cleaned. My swatches haven’t arrived yet, so it’s going to be awhile before I can actually get started on the jacket, even if I can finish up with fitting this week. (I have plenty of other projects waiting in the wings that I can get started while waiting, though.)

Goals for next week:

  • Keep fitting! Work up the second muslin to check changes.


Week 35: Cutting out Selene

Things are not going super quickly in sewing land. I’m trying not to feel guilty about it – this is a hobby, after all, it’s supposed to be fun – but I do feel bad when I don’t meet my self-defined goals.

I was able to cut out the main fabric of Selene this week, though! I had to make some last-minute alterations when I lined up the front and back patterns and realized the front was more than an inch longer than the back. In focusing on the width of the skirt, I totally forgot that chopping off the waistline to match my  sloper was going to result in a length difference as well. I’m infinitely glad I double-checked it, as this skirt is already at the limit of how short I’m willing to wear a skirt (above the knee! Scandalous!) and I would have had to do some weird piecing thing to add length if I hadn’t caught it.

Then when I was cutting things out, I ran into a problem with the very last piece, which was of course the center front and thus the most noticeable. I didn’t have enough fabric left to cut it on the fold with the grain line going the right way.  I’m not sure how this happened exactly, I bought a quarter yard extra fabric as usual and I followed the cutting layout…. but yeah that was some bad luck. I wound up adding a seam allowance and am just going to piece the front.

The paper clips are a new strategy for me. I like it so far. I don’t like cutting with pins in but I like to keep the pattern with the cut pieces until I’m sewing them.

It will probably be fine, but it was just one more issue to pile on top of this being kind of an annoying project so far. I’m hopeful that once I’m actually sewing, things will get better!

Goals for next week:

I’m going to be conservative and put my goals at just cutting out the lining and interfacing the pieces that need to be interfaces. I’m out of town next weekend during my primary sewing time, and I’m in need of a mental victory, haha.

Week 34: Selene pattern alterations

Yeah, I think I probably should have used a simpler pattern as my first sloper adjustment sample. I opted for view 3 of Selene, which includes a pocket in addition to the two front pieces and overall lining. I’ve made the adjustments, but they are all over the place sizing-wise and I’m not sure they’re

all going to fit together very well.

Tracing off the lining cut line via my window-cum-lightbox


It’s a little hard to see, but the yellow lines are my cut lines and the pink ones are darts/notches.

It looks like it will all go together correctly, but I’ve been too nervous to actually make the cuts on the side seams just yet. (I did extend the side seams to a full inch, too, so really there’s a much greater chance that this skirt will be too big than too small.)


This is the right side of the handkerchief/towel (tenugui) that I finished hemming this week.  (Well, half of it anyway.) It is inherently super cute because it has cats on it. I’m pretty pleased with my blind hem stitching again – even though it’s a gold thread (it matched the beige better than the red… but then this end is just red of course), you can’t really see it at all from the right side.

Goals for next week:

Okay so this coming week I’m going to actually get to the fabric cutting part of my skirt. I’m also going to try to get a few steps into sewing it, because I suspect that once I’m using the machine again and putting stuff together, I’ll speed up a bit. I miss that hard deadline of my trip and how motivating it was for getting stuff done!

Week 33: Starting Selene

I first made a Selene skirt last year around this time. It was one of the first patterns I sewed when I first was starting to get back into sewing. I didn’t do a great job fitting it – I barely knew that I needed to at least measure around the hips to make sure it would be big enough. I added a bit to the hips and called it good. It fit pretty well, but it’s always ridden up at the waist when I walk until it’s just under my ribcage, and the waist is looser than I prefer.

But that was supposed to be a wearable muslin for the real Selene, which was to be denim with a silky print lining. I have never gotten around to making the real thing, mostly because I wanted to fix the fit and I wasn’t relaly sure how to do that. Now that I have my skirt sloper, I think I’m ready to tackle it.

Already I’ve noticed that I am gonna have to do a whole lot more tweaking than I’d anticipated. I’m basically tracing off my sloper directly onto the pattern and then adding the design ease. I’ll be using my custom dart placement, too, since I worked HARD to get those placed right.

I’m leaving a 1-inch seam allowance on the side seams as per the Fit for Real People recommendation, and because the pattern only has 1 inch design ease at the hip and that makes me a bit nervous.

I’ve only done the main fabric back piece so far – I still have several front pieces and the lining to deal with. The front of the Selene I made last year fits pretty well, though, so I will probably just true up the side seams and call it good.

I also got halfway through a task I’ve been meaning to do since I got back from my trip: one of the handkerchiefs I got has selvedge edges on the sides but raw edges on the top and bottom. I’m not really clear on whether it’s supposed to just naturally fray or whether you’re not supposed to use it enough to fray, or what the plan is there, but I decided to hem it up to avoid anything happening to it.

Full pic when I’m done with the other side. 😊

Goals for next week:

  • Finish hemming my handkerchief
  • Finish Selene pattern adjustments
  • Cut out fabric!

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!