Sunday, July 25, 2010

Definitely making progress

The skirt is finished .... and it looks deceptively easy ...  with the help of the serger (rolled hem on a 146" ruffle), ruffler (a 2:1 ratio of ruffle to skirt circumference, invisible zipper foot, stitch in the ditch foot  (topstitching/edgestitching on the waistband), and the sensor buttonhole foot.

Loving my Janome today!

Here are the three pieces put together

zippity do dah!

I used to be terrified of invisible zippers ... that was when I tried to use the plastic foot sold next to the zippers at the fabric store.  Then I invested in one of the metal feet that snaps onto the sewing machine (mine is Janome).

The current problem project is a skirt that will have its waistline gathered into a fitted waistband with a 3" ruffle at the hemline.   The challenge is not the pattern but the fabric.  It is a beautiful knit -- not slinky -- but more of a jersey with some lycra in it.  I was afraid that if I put in a lapped zipper that the topstitching would ripple.  I was also afraid that even using an invisible zipper would cause ripples.

I am so happy with the way the zipper installed that I just have to show you!  I cut some strips of fusible knit interfacing, one inch wide even though I am using a 5/8" seam allowance.  The zipper sewed in so nicely with no hint of a ripple. 

If you didn't see the zipper pull as a clue, could you find the zipper?

Now the next challenge is stabilizing the waistband and finishing up another garment for the style show.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Making progress ...

Which do you want to see first?  The last test garment or some finished final garments?

Here is a test armhole princess dress with an envelope collar.  I just pinned the bead trim along the bottom of the collar to get an idea of the final effect, but it will be sewn into the real collar.  My dress form is not the same size as the model who will be wearing this so please don't judge the fit ... and this is a quick 'n dirty test so I didn't spend a lot of time on technique --

Now for three of the finished garments. The model who will be wearing these is slightly larger than my dress form, so the shoulder length and bust depth are throwing off the draping a bit.   First the cardiwrap -- once I got the matching thread, I was very happy with the shell stitch I used as the edging. 

This next top was one where I got to do some creative problem solving.  Problem -- not enough fabric!  Solution -- using strips of fabric from the skirt (that you haven't seen yet) to bind the neckline and armscyes.  Hopefully that won't come off as "matchy matchy" but "nicely coordinated."

Now for the last blouse -- it has something we call a "picket" sleeve ... like a picket fence.  This one happens to have a ruched picket that will coordinate with a picket skirt.  For this picture I did pad out the dress form's shoulders so the blouse would hang a little nicer.

The print of this batik was playing tricks on my eyes -- as I was pressing I would think I saw wrinkles that weren't really there.  At least it didn't require any matching!
 Now I think I'll have some coffee and a crisp made with peaches from last Saturday's farmer's market.  Wish I had more of a tomato-cucumber-onion-parsley salad that I had at lunch.  Oh well, dessert will have to do!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Hanging by a thread

You would think that with all these different spools of thread, I'd have the right color for doing a shell stitch on the cardiwrap.

Nope!  Seems I have never sewn on anything that is burnt orange.  I have reds, I have corals, but not what I need.

Because the inside of the fabric is brown, that is what I used for all the construction sewing.  Then when I did some test swatches of the shell stitch using brown or ecru it just doesn't hit me right after I trim away the excess fabric.  I think it will look better if the thread blends into the edging and lets the "puckers" be the stars.  With a contrasting thread, the shell stitch just looks like a humdrum old zigzag.  Although I remember when my mom got her first zigzag machine (early 1960s), that was just about the fanciest thing we could imagine!

So while the cardiwrap waits until I can make a trip to the store for matching thread, I thought I'd show you how I organize my threads.  I'm sure someone will tell me that the plastic will cause the thread to deteriorate, but I like that they don't get dusty and that I can pull a little ziploc bag of a color "family" instead of searching through all the threads.

I use sandwich or quart bags for the colors and don't bother labeling them since the bags are clear.  The exception to that rule is Navy and Black -- if I am sewing at night (and I don't have an Ott lite~gasp!) I know I am grabbing the right color.  I also have little bags (sandwich or quart) for all my special threads left over from other projects and then those all go into one big 2-gal zip loc bag.  BTW -- the best source I've found for those are Aldi (grocery chain), I get 10 for about $1.29.

I do the same for serger threads (using gallon bags) and then put them all into one large plastic tub.  A smaller tub holds the sewing machine threads and the serger threads fit in the extra space.  I don't do machine embroidery -- I know I would want to have a spool of every color on hand.

Then I can put on the lid and everything is out of the way until the next scavenger hunt for just the "right" color!  BTW  gray and taupe blend with an amazing number of colors if you're not worried about having a match for topstitching.

Friday, July 16, 2010

On the straight and narrow

Yesterday I decided to cut out several of the final garments for the style show.  With the garment I'm going to talk about here I was definitely transported back in time to when my mom first taught me to lay out patterns and to use fabric to its best advantage.  Although then we called it "material" and not "fabric."  In those days we often bought remnants that might be a quarter yard short from what the pattern envelope told us we would need ... so we always, always, always laid out the pattern to make sure there would be fabric for everything before a single piece was cut.

When this fabric was pulled from Kat's stash,  it looked like there was puh-lenty of yardage.  Then when I got it out yesterday,  I discovered a couple things -- first, it wasn't as wide as I had thought.  I sure am used to everything being 60" wide these days.  Remember 45"?  36"?  This was about 40" wide -- so no possibility of staggering pieces in the layout.

We all know that there is a right side and a wrong side to fabric. Or, there can be "one" side and the "other" side.  In this case we coordinated colors with a print for the skirt and this fabric now has a "outside/fashion" side and an "inside."  The orange has an interesting weave and the brown feels like it may be a wool jersey (or blend).  That meant to keep the herringbone weave on the outside going straight I needed to pin along the stripe ... wow did we lose yardage at both ends when the fabric was trued up with the line and the selvages.  NEVER trust a crossgrain edge that has been cut.

I always learn a lesson from every project, even if I don't learn it in time to apply it to that project.  In hindsight, what I would do next time is that after I pin the straight line along the fold, I would slip some tissue paper in between the layers to keep the two sides from clinging.  However, my fold was now straight and my selvages were lined up (and the stripe did follow straight along the selvage -- I did think to check that) so I think the garment will be ok.

It was a little like a jigsaw puzzle deciding which order to place the pieces.  If I had started at either end with the back, I wouldn't have had enough fabric.  By starting with the front on one end, I was able to take advantage of more yardage at the fold and didn't worry about where it ran short at the selvage.

Then I cut the the back from the middle -- without any extra breathing room between the back and the front.  You can see that the hem is right at the top of the shoulder line.

And finally came the sleeve -- thanks to the shape of a sleeve, I was able to just get the cap.  Although I took the picture from the other end of the table, I did lay out the garment "with nap" even though I don't think that will be an issue with this fabric.  Meaning, the pattern pieces were all put on the fabric in the same direction, top to bottom.

Since that layout worked, I cut the pieces.  If it hadn't worked, I might have tried starting with the back at one end and flipping over the front pattern piece to take advantage of some waste area.  Nothing says the pieces have to be cut so you can read the printing -- when you are cutting two, you have the same end result.  I would rather flip pieces than to change direction of the layout.

This cardiwrap already had no hem allowance since I will be doing another shell stitch application for finishing the edges.  So my other options would have been only to shorten the cardiwrap or to find other fabric.  Thanks to patience and determination I didn't have to do either. 
Of course, I could have tried cutting the pieces out of a single layer and aligning the straight of grain line with the stripe. But this way I didn't risk ending up with two left sleeves  .... 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Make that 2 dozen -- to go!

Now here are two really ugly dresses .... I was trying to approximate the weight of the real fabric, not the look.

These were quick and dirty constructions -- cut at the hem line, zippers sewn to the top of the fabric and slit underneath, no facings .....  they will check fit and give us some info on our ideas for the collars.

These are both shoulder princess dresses and the princess lines sewed together beautifully

One has a vee neckline with a collar that will go halfway down the neckline.  It also has an elbow-length sleeve that has slight shaping at its hemline.  I didn't realize just HOW shiny this one was until I put it onto the dress form.  The real one will be a sophisticated muted gold with a matte finish and wonderful drape (I think the real one is silk instead of whatever science project this one is).

The other has an exaggerated turtleneck on a scoop neckline -- the bottom of the sleeves will be gathered into a cuff for a full sleeve.  The real one will be a solid maroon in a crinkle finish fabric and it will have an invisible zipper in the center back seam

These are "fun" ones --the next generation will be the sophisticated versions.  Only one more test to make ... let's see .... today til Sept 20 ....  TODAY'S COUNT -- total garments needed:  26 including the test -- total garments finished:  2 ....

That means 24 to go!

Monday, July 12, 2010

More test garments

These are test garments only -- just to send off to the models so they can check the fit -- we have their measurements ... or what their measurements were on the day they were taken.  Having these test garments at their end will assure us that the measurements are still valid.  They can try them on and know that they have to STAY those measurements at least until the end of  September.

Of course that will be more difficult with a 4 y.o. girl -- we all know kids have growth spurts so I will wait to sew her actual garments until early September.

These are simple little sleeveless blouses to be worn under their real cardiwraps (tests previously posted).  The real fabrics are much prettier -- I promise!  The little girl will be wearing a lavender color palette and the blouse will be a nice muted batik with a fun fluffy knit for the cardiwrap.  The young adult will be wearing a buttery yellow solid in a nice challis for the blouse and the cardiwrap is a bold red/orange/brown print (bold in intensity of color, not size of print) that is a fluid fabric, semisheer.  More about the skirts below.

The little girl's skirt is going to be from a pretty lavender wool with a 2" pleated ruffle around the bottom.  The other is from the same yellow fabric as the top and it will have great draping.  You can see that the hemline slopes (intentionally) from front to back and it will be finished off with a 5" ruffle.  I bought a new ruffler attachment for my Janome 6600 just to do these ruffles.

Watch for pictures of the real garments -- but not til sometime in August/September

Friday, July 9, 2010

Test garments

These are two variations on the TCC cardiwrap pattern and I made them just to be able to send them off to the models to make sure that our design choices will have the desired effect when worn in the style show.

The first is for a 4-yr old model and I was practicing using my shell stitch.  I didn't have any child-sized hangers so had to use a pants hanger. I doubt that she'll look as much like a linebacker as this picture.

The second is for an young adult and the test is made from a soft challis.  You can see that we went for a dramatic effect on the front hemline.  Wouldn't this be cute with a white scooped neck tank and white skinny jeans?

I used the shell stitch to finish this hemline also -- and didn't measure how many miles ... I mean inches that was (including the sleeves).  I played a little more with the machine settings and got more of a pronounced "shell" tuck on this.  For both I trimmed close to the stitching with duckbilled scissors for a nice edge.

On the challis I used 5/8" strips of interfacing to stabilize all the edges and control the bias a bit.  Maybe the shell effect would have been softer without it, but I was afraid I'd get some nasty curls.

I've decided that for my personal "booth wear" I will coordinate three tops and three bottoms and make a cardiwrap out of a coordinating fabric that can be worn with each.  Novi, Michigan, in September can be chilly, temperate, or hot ... so that will give me options and also allow for cranked up, moderate, or struggling AC.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Start your engines ....

... but as I tell the neighbors, my idea of a power tool is NOT a lawnmower ... it is a sewing machine!

What else to do on a hot 93° day? Sew a long-sleeved blouse that will be worn in the September style show.  It's hard to be enthusiastic about long sleeves and fall colors when I am wearing bright summer colors and trying to stay cool. 

This is the second garment I've finished for one of the models, the other being the dark green fitted pants that will be worn with this shirt.

Since the model lives in Michigan and I live in southern Ohio, my dress form will have to step in as a proxy.  This is a tailored shirt (which in TCC terms that means no side bust dart, only waist darts) with trifit darts (three fisheye darts on each side, front and back).

 So that means 6 darts in the front and 6 in the back .. but since they are double-ended darts it is the same as sewing 24 separate darts!  Some other design details are that a sweetheart neckline was chosen and the blouse has a center back invisible zipper.

 I can't believe I even put in the hem ... this is DONE!  DONE!  DONE!