Thursday, July 18, 2013

More More More

The drive yesterday went well. I stopped in Golden and had lunch with my friend Patti and her daughter and son-in-law at a place I would have driven right by... but not next time... the food was really yummy. I had Curry Bliss - a curried stew on top of rice and a bed of lettuce with a balsamic like dressing. Need to figure that one out for another time.

With stops, the drive is about nine hours. That's plenty of time to think. I thought about sewing and my dress and the coat I made in June before leaving for the workshop. With both, I adjusted the pattern based on my fitting shell, checked the finished measurements, cut, and trusted. It's a lot more work up front but the sewing is more focused and... franky... more fun. So it seems to me that if I will have more success, more often if I pay more attention to the pattern information, my fitting shell, and what I know about fabric.

The Vogue 8876 dress shown yesterday could have fit ever so slightly better however... as a first try... and basically a wearable muslin... it's pretty darn close. What's left is fine tuning. The reviews helped. They mentioned there was a significant amount of ease in this garment and that it was short. That prompted me to be aware of the finished pattern measurements... which are printed right on the tissue... for my sewing comfort. Why not use them?

And then there's the fabric factor. Each fabric will preform different but the suggested fabrics on the back of the envelope combined with what I know about fabric are meant to help me decide both whether the fabric I want to use is suitable and what adjustments I might make to accommodate my fabric choice. It's a learning curve. One we're constantly on. One thing I know for sure, the fabrics Marcy chooses all have lovely drape. After the workshop last year - 2012 - I came home with a different awareness of fabric quality.

The fabric I chose was a very light-weight, firmly woven, non-stretch, cotton polyester blend. It's not soft and flowing and it's not overly forgiving. If given the ability to stick straight out from the body, it will which made it excellent for the bottom shaping of the dress and something to be aware of with the fullness.

I chose my pattern size based on the finished full bust measurement which meant I needed to add length for my full bust but not width. In retrospect, I'm not sure this was the best choice as it may be partly to blame for the diagonal wrinkles at the back underarm. In the past, my better choice has been to choose my size based on my upper bust measurement and then make a narrow chest and narrow back adjustment and a full bust adjustment because these resolve both the bicep width and the underarm depth issues. I debated that on the drive and will try the other way next time.

It's important to me to have the right armhole shape through the underarm to avoid those wrinkles in the back and I've learned they are caused by the curve of the armhole starting too soon. The shape needs to come straight out from the underarm more before it turns upward to the shoulder. I'm learning to eyeball that shape. This dress was close but not quite right.  

I chose the pattern size by the bust and then maintained that size through the entire garment even though I normally grade out over three or four sizes. I need waist definition. With the size chosen, there was 9" of waist ease. For this style of garment, that was plenty. I wouldn't have wanted less - or more - however...

... my back hips are 2" wider than my front hips. There was 24" of ease at hip level and even so, next time I'll cut the back hip a size or two larger to allow for my physical differences. Enough ease isn't always the answer. Nor is fabric factor. It's always a combination of the two and we're always gathering information as we sew. If I'd used a softer fabric, it would have flowed better. If I'd used a firmer fabric, it wouldn't have flowed at all.

I'm glad I paid attention to the reviews. The finished length is short although the measurement is printed on the pattern so I'm not sure why no one noticed in advance. I measured my body, compared, and added 2" knowing that I could adjust back before adding the hem band if I wanted to. I didn't.  Because the hem is...

... narrower at the bottom of the band, it pulls the garment in with a pegged look. The dress ends just below my knee where it indents which is a flattering length.

Although I added 1/2" to each side of the underarm seam, it wasn't enough. There's plenty of ease and even so the sleeve looks (or maybe it feels) too tight to me. It's because the hem is not wide enough. The sleeve catches on my arm and rides up. As I said yesterday, the width of the sleeve hem is a measurement that I'm working on.

Peggy Sagers of Silhouette Patterns is always saying how important it is to know your numbers. I'm starting to know mine and sewing is more successful more often. I know as I keep working in that direction, it'll get even better. When I get back from Calgary, I intend to fine tune this pattern and sew it again.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - the repair man accidentally left the hot water turned off in bathroom of the apartment last night and we didn't notice until too late. This morning, my son-in-law carried hot water from the kitchen to the bathroom to fill up the tub. How sweet is that.


  1. oh Myrna, SIL is good lookin' AND a sweetheart :) tell DD she better keep that one happy ;)

    "...although the measurement is printed on the pattern so I'm not sure why no one noticed in advance." This and Peggy Sayers' advice to 'know your numbers' are some of the best advice out there. I admit to becoming a wee bit peeved reading ladies writing about all the ease, etc. on this pattern. It's listed as 'loose fitting'; the line drawing shows a skirt hem wider than the shoulders when it's not even all spread out; it calls for a lot of fabric; and (for once!) the model photo of the sleeveless version shows folds of extra fabric even at the bustline and ribcage. It's loose!

    I'm on a bit of a rant here but my point is that the if you want to make a flattering garment you love and that turns out more or less how you wanted it to, you have to research the pattern beforehand. Evaluate how the design lines and features, recommended fabric, and pattern measurements compare with what has worked successfully for you in the past to decide if this pattern has a good chance of working for what you want, or if it's better avoided.

    I have no 'size' that i usually cut - i evaluate the fit of the design, think about what fabric i'll be using and it's characteristics, haul out any similar garments i have, and start measuring the pattern vs. existing garments vs. my body. Then i figure out what size i want to cut out where. As you say it can mean a lot more thinking and figuring before 'the fun part', but wow does it make a difference in the end!

    Again Myrna, just a really fantastic dress you've created for yourself here, great in itself and gangbusters on you - i especially love the bare feet and necklace!!! And definitely make this one up in linen, you'll go nuts (but then i'm a known linen-o-maniac :)

    Have fun and greetings to your family! steph

  2. Yes... LOL... I agree... plus DD is gorgeous and a real keeper as well so they both better work hard at - IMHO - but then I'm just the mother.

  3. Myrna, this looks lovely on you! If I may ask a question, how would you describe the neckline, especially compared to the line drawings of the pattern? The Vogue photos show a neckline that I would describe as slightly rounded somewhat shallow V-neck, but the drawings look more like a jewel neck. And the collar in the white print fabric (again, at Vogue) lays flat, but yours looks different: is that because of the casing? I really like this pattern and appreciate your sharing your thought process about it. Thanks!

  4. It's definitely not a V. I'd say jewel as well. If you go on-line to the Vogue pattern site, I remember looking at the collar detail more closely and with the casing done as the pattern directs, it squishes down at the back. It's not a hard portion to alter if you want a different shape. You could trace it from another pattern.

  5. I've recently learned that sometimes those printed "finished" measurements are not correct. So, I've now learned to measure and note if they are correct or not. Sad, but true these days. bummer.

  6. A good awareness. I have a feeling I'd learn that lesson the hard way. Right now, I compare my fitting shell, check to see if there's excess ease, and go from there. With a close fitting garment, I will keep in mind to pay extra attention. The more pieces, the lesss I want to measure except it's only one more labour intensive up front step that would be worth while. Thanks for the heads-up.

  7. I guess learning and tweaking are all a huge part of sewing garments for ourselves. I just find it's the 'remembering' check and double check that sometimes gets the better of me. Your dress looks fantastic, well worth doing all the preplanning to end up with such a great wearable dress...J

  8. I've often thought a check list might be a good idea Judith. I try to work in the same order but when I find myself re-inventing the wheel... hmm...

  9. A check list is a terrific idea! I will be creating one before my next project....which will probably be this same pattern!

  10. LOL - perhaps what I'll do is develop the list as I create my next project and write down the steps as I go. That could work.

    I especially want to make sure I use the correct process for the armholes although - as I write that - I know that finding the correct process is always trial and error. We try method a and then method b BUT... verify the armhole shape would cover it if I compare to a garment that worked well. Great idea.


Thanks for commenting. I appreciate the feedback and the creative conversation.