Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Not A Happy Ending

Just to let you know - in advance - this is not a happy ending posting BUT it is a this has possibilities only I really don't have time to explore them right now so I better put down the pins and walk away posting - as in I'll deal with it later and we'll see.

The fabric suggestions for Vogue 8886 include double knit. Since I'd sewn the pattern before in a stable knit, this black one with moderate width-wise and virtually no length-wise stretch seemed entirely appropriate. It sewed and pressed lovely but it's a thick fabric which creates other issues. And I should have probably tried my dress from the same pattern on and looked more closely at how it fit especially as it's sewn in a print (which hides things better) and this is a solid (which does not). ANYWAY...

I sewed the front and back sections together and then pinned the side seams wrong sides together and tried the top on and then pinned the side seams in considerably everywhere but directly under the arm. The chalk line shows the new seam line. It's pinned to the other back side seam so I can transfer the markings and make them both the same. Once marked, I sewed on the line and the fit of the t-shirt through the shoulders, bust, and torso is FABULOUS. Very flattering. That's why it has potential. After that, things went downhill.

The collar is supposed to be more traditional, sewn from two fabrics wrong sides together and turned right side out. Because of the fabric's thickness, I used one layer and straight of grain fusible to stabilize the neck edge and stretch fusible for the "hem" edge. I turned under 5/8" and stitched the hem with a double needle. Stabilizing the neck edge of the collar eliminated the need to stabilize the neckline of the bodice. As long as one of the edges is stabilized, the neckline will be held to the correct length and shape. And it is... only...

... this is not, in my opinion, at all attractive. The shoulder seams have not been pressed yet but the hemline has and those pokey-outies are not for me. The collar is pinned in place and hmm... maybe in a woven, maybe not at all. The shoulders seem too wide and the sleeve isn't hanging quite correctly although that might be the need to press but I think it's more the problem with losing size. Your general shape stays the same but all those little fine tuning details you'd worked out previously take a shift and you have to work their new subtleties out again. It's why I'd rather stay the same size or lose size and stay there. Up and down is way too frustrating. BUT...

... the top is not hopeless. I think it might make an interesting sleeveless tank top if I think about different hemming and neckline options. The woven instead of knit collar thought has possibilities. So does a raw hem or serged edges and I can see how surface design elements might save the day... if I'd just get to it.

I'm wondering if beyond the lack of skill and the repetition factor is something about not having the laundry room at ready with better lighting especially and something about how I don't wear a lot of surface design garments - as in none. I've never been a person for decals and labels and I like to wear necklaces in particular and don't want those two things to interfere with each other so I'd need to incorporate the imagery in a way that I'd actually wear which would be more about pattern, line, or texture and on garments that would actually get worn which in turn made me think about the number of pieces I sew versus the number of pieces that actually make it to my closet. I think - VBG - I might be picky. Just maybe. A tiny bit. I've sewn three black t-shirts in three days and the count is 0 for 3 right now although I did make a fabulous dress and a print t-shirt before that... she says... just to remind herself she actually can sew successfully.

Beyond what actually makes it to my closet, there's an even smaller number of the garments that become favourites because while nothing makes it to my closet that isn't at least 95% of my opinion of well done, my favourites are probably more in the 98-99% (rare) range. I could tell myself that this t-shirt is good enough but the problem is it's not good and enough. I won't wear it so I may as well continue attempting to make it into something I would wear. And this is fine. I'm dressed - although if you see a near nak-d woman running around Sew Expo who looks like a black t-shirt would be all she needed to complete that outfit, could be me - LOL ! ! !  Please say hi.

I'm leaving early tomorrow morning. There won't be any more postings this week. The camera is packed, the lap top is not. Hopefully I'll get some fun filled pictures and tell you all about it next week.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - my son achieved his fundraising goal. YES YES

Monday, February 24, 2014

This Is Not A Coffee Table Blog

It's been one of those weekends - the one step forward and two steps back kind. Learning curves are not always what they're cracked up to be especially when the curve you learning along is a curve you've already been through only you're back for another visit. Why do we think that this time things will be different?. Hmmm... if you continue to do what you've always done...

I hate raglan sleeves on me. Although I've heard them promoted for women with narrow shoulders, IMHO they contribute to the whole tent like, widening all the way down, factor of my triangle figure type BUT... what about a raglan with a cowl? What about exploring new frontiers? What about being adventurous? This could possibly work. Who knows. And so I tried Vogue 8831 in...

... the ribbed knit at right. The pattern comes with cup sizing and that part was quick and easy but the raglan pulled on my shoulders and bagged under the arms. It begged for an exploration of raglan sleeves and how they could best fit my form, if I liked raglans, only I don't, and once was adventurous enough, so instead I copied the neckline to my T&T pattern and cut it out again, this time from a smooth black knit.

Surprisingly, there was no black knit in stash - or none that I was willing to risk - and the only one at Fabricland that I liked had a lot of stretch and drape. I remember thinking this would be perfect for panties and THAT should have sent a few red flags up the pole and rung some warning bells. The t-shirt ended up baggy and unflattering. It could have been taken in only that was more work than I wanted to invest in the look of that fabric. Instead, I'll do exactly that - cut it up to make panties - which is ironic because at the same time...

... I cut up a bunch of panties to make a t-shirt. They were 100% cotton and clung to my outerwear making me feel like I'd put on twenty pounds. For the past year, I've been pushing them aside in the drawer so obviously the answer is no thanks. They're barely worn and yet giving lingerie to the thrift store is just yucky so I cut off the waist elastic and the leg bands and put the pieces with my painting supplies. The fabric will be great for practicing both surface design and piecing fabric from fabric.

This tendency to use and reuse things is not "average" behavior. I know this. Even though there are not many people who will knit and re-knit the same yarn or sew and re-sew the same fabric several times, I can't help myself. It's become Myrna behavior - learned - definitely not an attitude I grew up with - and I'm thankful for this ability to see potential in strange places. It's good, even if a little dangerous. Take for example...

... my visit to Fabricland on Saturday... and then again on Sunday. The 60" stretch, silk dupioni had been reduced and reduced and reduced and was finally moved to the bargain center and marked down to $5.00 a meter. I already had black at home from an earlier sale and on Saturday, I bought pink and on Sunday, I went back for the grey. I'd loved the grey on Saturday but it had this "mother of the bride" overtone that wasn't working and I couldn't think of what to sew from it until I realized it would be perfect for Marcy's Vogue 8934 coat. The plan is to incorporate all three colors so I'm taking the swatches with me to Sew Expo to look for buttons. It takes 3 meters. A silk, spring jacket for $15.00 is quite a bargain. YES YES - inexpensive potential.

Have you noticed that when you click on the Bloglovin link, that it shows you other blogs that are similar to yours or to the one you're looking at? That inspirational potential gets me every time. What wonderful blog might I find? And so, I click often to discover which blog my blog is like today that I didn't already know about. And I'm intrigued by the readership of some of those blogs. It doesn't take long to realize that mine is significantly lower. Now before you think I'm upset about that, I'm not. It's a fact and it is what it is because...

... this is not a coffee table blog. There's no fabulous photography or carefully posed images and as much as I think that might be nice, it's not likely to happen. This is not a glossy, pretty blog made for turning pages. It's more of a textbook blog that goes deep into a theory and explores it from all sorts of angles. It poses hypothesis and then follows them up to find truth. It's a blog where the pictures might be "outdated" but the information is valuable... or at least I hope. The textbook audience is typically smaller than the coffee table audience and - again - that's okay. It's my field of interest and I am beyond grateful to have come to terms with that reality and to each person who shares this journey with me. It allows me to write and sew and share and those are three things I love to do together.

Your new identity might be one you could never image for yourself. But if we're walking with the Lord, we have to be prepared to step into the spotlight... - You Have It In You by Sheryl Brady.

When I read the sentence above this weekend, I thought or not. Sometimes, God is asking us not to step into the spotlight of the larger audience but to be content with the much smaller group gathered around the candlelight off stage. I'm rare in that I enjoy public speaking, especially on my favourite topic, but more than being front and center at a big conference, I love a class of energized students who interact, share, grow, develop, and connect or a coffee date with a few other women huddled around our latest show & tell or a one-to-one with another sewist where we can banter back and forth discussing what about this and have you tried that. On Saturday morning, I spent an hour talking pants with another blogger. It was FUN FUN FUN.

This awareness of not stepping into the spotlight is part of that process I referred to on Friday, the process of not only coming to terms with who we are but of actively celebrating and embracing that way of being as our home and our whole. I have a particular way of being that is shared by a smaller percentage of the population. We - that small percentage - actually enjoy delving deep into theories, and this is good, especially if we also love sharing the learning and it expands to help others. One of the fabulous things about being a woman my age is - I think - coming to a greater and greater acceptance of who we are which in turn allows us to become all that we are meant to be on the scale and in the direction we are meant to follow. It was an ah ha. Love those.

I think one of the reasons I'm struggling to make progress with surface design is because it's about practice and while practice is important, it is also repetition and repetition is not my strong suit, most likely because repetition is not about answering a puzzle in the way that fit or technique are. The challenge is there but it's vastly different. Another interesting awareness.

And... LOL... apparently, I'm challenged to actually sew a black t-shirt before I leave for Sew Expo on Wednesday. Not that I need one absolutely although my minimal wardrobe has gotten more minimal with my size adjustment but I do have enough clothing to last the weekend. However, I want to make one. Maybe the third time will be the lucky one so I dug deeper into the stash and found some very expensive, black one-by-one knit that I'd subconsciously passed over due to holding precious. This is not good. There's no point in holding precious when you could be wearing that t-shirt. Besides, once you make the first cut, it's no longer precious. And I'm working on Vogue 8886, which I've successfully sewn before as a dress. We'll see what happens.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - or not

Friday, February 21, 2014

What Size Is My Fabric?

On Tuesday, I wore the car-to-barista cape out for its trial run - to Fabricland - around the store - and back home again. About 30 minutes. The seat belt clamped it down to my side and it felt like I was driving with my arms glued in place. Not the safest approach. When I put my purse over my shoulder, same thing. If I put it under the cape and over my shoulder, as I lifted my arm to insert the purse, the cape began to walk around my neck as it did any time I wanted to raise my arms for any reason at all... say to pick up a bolt of fabric or reach for a pattern. If what I wanted was to stand still and look pretty, all is well and fine. If I actually wanted to move, hmm... maybe not. My conclusion - it will make a lovely pillow or winter bag ! !

The t-shirt is finished. The black and white knit was a remnant from another project. There wasn't much left but thankfully enough to make sure that the diamonds were placed along center front since they're a fairly dominant part of the design. It fits Millicent. It's slightly snug on me although Millicent and I are getting much closer again - LOL. I'm choosing to make my clothes wearable but on the slightly snug side right now so they'll be just perfect in a few months... which will force me to keep running... and this is good.

When I'm sewing a t-shirt, I use fusible knit interfacing to stabilize the neckline, shoulders, and hems. For the neckline, I cut 3/8" strips with no stretch. For the shoulders, I cut 6/8" strips with no stretch. And for the hems I cut 1" strips with stretch. It's easy to pull the shape of the garment out of true when working with the fabric so before I fuse, I use the pattern tissue to ensure the shape is correct. It's quick, easy, and keeps things accurate.

Two of the tips I learned from watching Peggy Sager's video webcasts are to learn to recognize your shapes and to know your numbers. By numbers, she means your measurements on the French curve so you can copy them to your pattern tissue. I mentioned recognizing my shape with the crotch seam of the Burda 7400 pants. Since hearing Peggy make that comment, I've been paying a lot of attention to what my shape looks like in a draft and it's surprising how quickly you start to see yourself... or not... both valuable. I find it makes me braver. Typically, I'll copy the armhole and sleeve from my TNT to any new t-shirt  I'm making however, because this sleeve cap was higher and that's my shape, I gave it a try. You never know when you'll find an even better TNT.

My shoulder tips forward creating a flat spot toward the back. When you've already cut the fashion fabric, there's no option to alter the pattern tissue so you have to fine tune the fit. This is similar to adding back crotch length with a wedge in the tissue or scooping it out of the fashion fabric. I ended up with excess cap curve that stood away from my body. The line of pins shows where the seam needs to be. Learning to fit yourself is something I highly advocate. It may take slightly longer trying to get those pins where you want them to be and you may have to take your clothes on and off several times to verify your pin fit but...

... when you can fit yourself, you can get the job done without waiting for someone else to help you and without trying to explain what you're talking about. Your best fitting buddy is often yourself. You know what you want plus... for me...LOL... fitting into my clothes and being able to fit them to my body are both motivating factors for staying flexible and getting regular exercise. Whatever works ! ! !

One shape I'm working to improve is my armhole. I'm almost there. I've figured out the cap, the shape of the underarm, and how to get a straighter line down from the shoulder as well as how to adjust for sufficient bicep room. I'm working on the correct armhole depth. I don't think there's one right answer. I think there's a correct depth for a woven fabric and a correct depth for a knit fabric and that the degree of vertical stretch in the knit will add another factor as will the garment specific ease. A coat definitely needs a longer armhole than a blouse than a t-shirt.

Overall, I like a high armhole that allows for a greater range of movement. With this top, it was too high and cut into my underarm so I lowered the underarm point by 3/8" and merged into the original seam line at the notches. The original wasn't deep enough because I chose a smaller size.

Another tip I learned from Peggy is to ask what size is my fabric? and then choose the pattern size accordingly. She says to wrap the fabric around your body to a comfortable ease, mark where the edges meet, measure between the marks, and sew that size. I find draping fabric to a comfortable ease difficult to do with all that weight of the fabric falling around you. The method works but not perfectly every time so...

... I've been experimenting with wrapping the fabric around my body and marking it with no ease whatsoever and then adding to that measurement the amount of ease I like in that particular style of garment or that particular fabric. So far, this is working well for both knit fabrics and woven fabrics but I want to give it a bit more time before I say it's sure-fire thing. Right now, I cut 1" side seams to allow for fitting. What's so interesting is that I'm sewing a wider range of sizes with a higher success rate. I like that.

In my study guide yesterday, the author was sharing a personal experience and wrote - I thought I was through with ministry. I wanted nothing else to do with it. I loved God, but I was just going to be a good member at someone else's church. For the longest time, I wouldn't even talk about it. I was numb. I felt like a failure. Sometimes you don't realize how hard you've pushed until it's over. I didn't understand it until God came to me and said, "you have to forgive the process." Never once did I believe I had to forgive God. He does all things well. However, the pain that I went through, the depression, the regret, the mistakes that caused me to make choices that left me feeling like a failure; those things were all wrapped up in the word process. Forgiving the process is a very important step because when we forgive these types of things, God then in turn works it all together for our good. I didn't think I had the strength to endure, but God knew it was there. He knew what was inside of me and was cultivating it for when it would be needed most. - You Have It In You by Sheryl Brady

Change a few words and circumstances and that's my story too. That made me think. I see sewing as a process of experimentation, of trial and error, and of valuable learning. I enjoy the challenge of figuring out the puzzle and I've learned to persevere and not let mistakes hold me back, even to see mistakes as opportunities. In fact, I've come to embrace mistakes because I know through experience that I'll learn something amazing and useful that I'll take forward into my next and my next piece.

How interesting to look at the challenges in the rest of my life as the process of learning. Hearing them called the process had me viewing them in a completely different light. While I might know on an intellectual level that I can't have Y without first going through X, on an emotional level I want to go right to X because Y is too painful. I doubt I'll come to embrace "the mistakes" but - LOL - it definitely has me seeing circumstances in a new light. How fun.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - my youngest son has decided to go to Guatemala along with the mechanics team his Dad is leading in early April. He's late joining and will need to fund raise quickly but he's so excited to be going. Me too! The last time he went, he sponsored a boy who I think was seven or eight at the time and would be twelve or thirteen now. He'll get to see him.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Tucked In, Belt, And Short Cropped

Have you found yourself doing what the Lord told you to do only to find it more challenging than you expected? Moving into the fullness of your destiny is rarely a smooth easy process. Being successful is not cheap. There is always a cost factor to consider. - You Have It In You, by Sheryl Brady

When I read the paragraph above, the last two lines especially caught my attention because they are true in so many ways beyond a strict spiritual application. I used to say that my career in creativity cost too much for too little and up until recently believed that time in my life was over. I've come to realize that neither the full cost nor the full return can be calculated nor is the time ever over until one has passed on because only then will all the dots of a lifetime be connected. What I am learning now builds on what I learned previously and will be added to by what I learn in the future and all kinds of opportunities are opening up that I hadn't anticipated. Our destiny doesn't always look like we imagined it would and life can certainly be challenging.

Yesterday afternoon, I went to visit my friend Rosemarie who lives just out of town. If you remember, she's the weaver who wants to learn about refashioning clothing. She's currently weaving a series of tea towels in lime, blue, and turquoise. Her work is incredibly even and the colors are gorgeous. There are several different patterns and when they are done, I get to choose one. Rosemarie says it's because I've been involved in the process and have helped and encouraged her all the way. LOL - I'm not a weaver. I say what a lovely gift.

There's something about helping others that will cause God to help you too. He'll work behind your back. He'll be pulling stuff together, even while you're struggling in the middle of your today. And if your heart passes the test, he'll make you a blessing while you're being a blessing. - You Have It In You, by Sheryl Brady

I am by nature a generous person but in my youth that generosity came with strings. I tended to buy - or attempt to buy - friendship. Although I think I'm aware now and well past that stage, this paragraph made me question whether I help and whether I help with the correct heart, no strings attached, no expectations of a return.

Women especially have a tendency to negate the things that we are good at as helping. Because I can sew, and because sewing is one of my favourite topics, I tend to view being asked for my advice as a gift rather than as helping. In my journal I asked do I help? and it was so funny how the answer kept popping up all day. If you wonder, ask. You may be surprised by the answer.

Rosemarie is refashioning a black and tan striped tunic. After a discussion of possibilities and process, her first steps were to remove the pockets, shorten the hem, and separate center front. She spent last week researching and thinking about her options for the next step and yesterday we discussed further possibilities and then played with the smaller stripe of the removed pockets as lapels and the black strip of the shortened hem as a center front band. Her larger than the t-shirt bust size presents a problem to resolve. When I get back from Sew Expo, we'll do some pin fitting and sewing in my studio. It might sound like I'm helping her but she's one of those people who just gets it. Her mind races and you can see the light bulbs go on and the clicks happening. To me, it's a gift to "help" that kind of energy along its path.

I forgot to show you these buttons that she gave me earlier. They are individually made from clay, fired, and machine washable. How fun is that?. The round ones are 3/4" across and the triangle is 2" on the long edges. They may go with the denim I bought in Calgary for the Vogue 8934 coat although that pattern calls for six 1-1/8" buttons. We'll see. Perhaps something could be worked out.

I tried my new pants on which several different styles of tops and liked it best with a simple t-shirt, tucked in with a belt and a short cropped sweater. That sentence does not sound at all like me - especially tucked in, belt, and short cropped - so perhaps February is about more drastic changes than a haircut - LOL. I traced the view at left of out of print Vogue 8323 and cut it out in a black and white print. I'll work on that today. Hopefully we can talk about the choices I made and why tomorrow.

OH... AND... Rosemarie has a rectangular figure type. She tried on my Vogue 8876 dress from Monday and it looked amazing on her. If rectangle is your figure type, go for it. Make sure the shoulders fit smoothly and the hem hits at a flattering point and oh la la - I bet you look like a million bucks. It's a gorgeous style.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - fun bits of confirmation that I do have a helping nature

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Just The Waist Is A World Of Learning

When I was in the grocery store Monday afternoon, I ran into one of the women who taught me to quilt MANY years ago. She asked what I was doing now. When I said clothing, she told me that at a lecture I gave at the gathering of the guilds, she'd had the thought "she should be sewing clothes". I must have had several pieces of wearable art with me to prompt that awareness but I don't really remember. It was almost twenty years ago.

At first, I wished she'd mentioned it sooner - LOL - but then again, not really. All the learning curves I went through with quilts and especially with textile art are applying themselves now to creative everyday wear and if I hadn't had the curves, I wouldn't have the learning. This is good.

Sometimes, it can feel like we're making absolutely no progress and then something clicks. Don't be too hard on yourself. Eventually, with practice and persistence, it - whatever it may be - comes together. When I first returned to sewing clothing, I would never have recognized "my" crotch curve. It's a celebration to have reached that stage.

It's the same thing with techniques. I remember only quilting 1/4" away from the seams because I couldn't stitch in the ditch neatly and then I finally took the time to practice and on this pair of pants I used the technique on the cuffs and the waistband. Techniques are worth working for. It's far better to learn how to make say a beautiful buttonhole than to avoid garments with buttonholes... or zippers... or whatever it is that's being avoided. Do the work. Reap the results.

And the great thing about learning is that we can also learn to adapt where necessary. Burda 7400 comes with a wide waistband sewn from ribbing. It's fun and not for me since I'm short waisted and rarely tuck in tops. A thick point of interest around the waist isn't the best of choices. I substituted a one inch wide, sewn on, elastic waistband and there's a whole learning curve behind that sentence about what suits my body and which waistband is better for an angled waist and what width is best for my waist and do I prefer a fitted or elastic or faced waist. Just the waist is a world of learning.

As you can see on the diagram in the earlier image, view B, bottom right, the seam appear to be more forward on the garment hear the hip bone. In the sewn version top left of the envelope, the model has her hand in the pocket which is much closer to the side seam. That's how mine are. One thing we quickly learn with sewing is that things are not always as they seem and that's okay because we can make them what we want them to be. We sew.

Ruth wrote to ask - Would it be possible to show more detailed before and after shots of your back crotch alteration? Just from the way you describe it I'm not understanding the alteration and how it is different from "scooping". How do you determine the position at the center back to add the wedge and how do you decide the angle of the wedge? 

I took a picture of the pattern as the before shot. If the instruction below doesn't make sense, let me know and I'll redraw my pattern and be more detailed.

From the above tissue, I traced my size and marked both the grain line and the horizontal line from center front to the side. Not all patterns have that line. If yours doesn't and you need to make an adjustment, typically it's made in that area or anywhere above the curve of the crotch seam and at a ninety degree angle to the grainline.

The dotted green line is the original line from the pattern. I cut on it from center front to the side seam being careful to go to but not through the seam allowance. Put a tiny piece of tape there and then clip from the outside toward the seam allowance too. This creates a hinge for opening the pattern. Tape one edge of the cut line to extra tissue paper.

Mark the seam allowance along the crotch curve. Spread the wedge the distance needed. This is the angle. You arrive at that measurement by substracting your actual crotch length from the pattern crotch length. Measure the wedge at the seam allowance to make sure the proper amount is added exactly where needed. The arrows in the above diagram show the wedge. At left is a solid line connecting the dotted lines of the seam allowance. That's where I measured. Tape the other edge of the cut to the tissue paper.

True the pattern and the grainline. Creating a wedge changes the outside lines. To true this pattern, I connected the lower seam allowance of the crotch curve with the top point of the center back seam allowance. It looks like I took out fabric but if you look to the side seam you'll see that it was added back when I trued that edge. The grainline will be crooked above the wedge. Simply extend the line from below where it wasn't altered and use that. This method adds crotch length. If you need to subtract crotch length, you would use the same process in reverse.

How does it work? Imagine that the crotch point is stapled to your body and that you have a low back crotch. As the garment settles at the waist, center back is pushed down and the length of the back crotch seam also pushes downward going around the body as needed. If you are working with a garment in progress, you can't change the length of the back seam and would need to scoop that extra out because there's no way to add fabric unless you add a back yoke. That's the advantage of a muslin. You can make the adjustment on the pattern tissue and get the fashion fabric near to perfect right away. Adding a wedge is a pattern tissue adjustment. Scooping is a fashion fabric adjustment. 

I'm very happy with how these pants turned out. I made them on the snug side so they'd fit a bit longer through my exercise program but they feel quite comfortable now. The fabric is cotton so it has give. When I added the waistband, I had to do a bit of fine tuning that had more to do with where the waistband sits on my body than the crotch curve. I have high back hips and a low rib cage which tends to push the waistband around. I realized with an elastic waist that I should have measured to the top of my elastic and not the bottom which - of course - made me think more about the difference between elastic and fitted waistbands. I would like to try these same pants with a zipper opening, darts, and a narrow, fitted waistband just to see what happens but that's an exploration for later. Right now... a top to go with.

Talk soon - Myrna

- a near to perfect pattern and the template for a great crotch curve

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Burda Butt And I Are A Good Match

Mid January, I sewed a pair of pajama pants and made the silliest of mistakes sewing the two fronts together at the inseam. Actually, I serged them together. Since it was pajamas, which typically have quite a bit more ease, I cut off the seam allowance and continued on. Later, when I tried them on, I noticed something interesting. The shortened front extension fit a LOT better.

Yesterday, I started sewing Burda 7400. I love these pants. I already have three pairs which my friend tells me is more than enough of the same pattern HOWEVER... they're too big which means I can have another pair. YES YES

The front crotch extension is quite short and the back is more L shaped - like me. This may be why I love the way they fit.

To check my crotch length, I fastened a 1" elastic around my waist and then measured from front to back placing the break just below my lady part. When I measured the pattern along the seam line, the front was exactly the correct length and the back was 1 3/8" too short... which makes sense...

... because I've been scooping the crotch... because I thought I had to... only I recently learned how pants are drafted from a skirt block and how the crotch really is determined by the waist. Adding the extra length using a wedge tapered from 1 3/8" at center back to nothing at the side seam created the higher front, lower back shape I need. As you can see...

... the extra length that I was previously scooping to is now already there. When I tried the pants on, they fit near to perfect. Once the waistband is in place, I'll know for sure but it could be that the Burda butt and I are a good match.

AND... as a bonus...... ignoring the flab... look at how it also solves the tipped waist scenario. The back was automatically drafted higher than the front. YES YES ! ! ! I love it when I learn things that make sewing simpler. I can't wait to add the waistband today and see how they look. I could definitely use more pants and I'm happy to transfer this crotch curve if it turns out to be as amazing as it looks to be turning out.

THANK YOU for all the compliments on the dress yesterday. They have me thinking about a shorter and flared silhouette. It's not one I've contemplated often. I think the fabric was a huge factor in my success. Above is the same dress sewn last summer in a woven. I love all the details I put into it but it's not nearly as comfortable to wear and feels short as opposed to flirty. Isn't it fascinating what the fabric factor does?

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - the difference that just a bit more information can make, knowledge

Monday, February 17, 2014

Thinking About Shoes

Friday went by in a mound of paper, scissors, and tape. I spent all day - literally - figuring out how to blend the three patterns before concluding that yes, it could be done but no, it was not the best mix. The out of print Vogue 8637 skirt didn't divide well into princess seams and - as is- would have needed a different bodice to become an attractive dress. The Vogue 8499 skirt looked great with a princess bodice but created a belled bottom somewhat reminiscent of Vogue 1312. Since I've already sewn that dress, and that wasn't the look I was going for, I opted to let the pattern mixing tickle mature a bit more.

Near the end when I was finalizing the draft, I tried on my Marcy skirts to decide which length would be best with the bodice. It was a check, a confirmation, and I wasn't anticipating much in the way of changes since I've sewn the skirt numerous times only - right now - they're all too big and big looked baggy and baggy also wasn't the look I was going for which I'm sure impacted my decision to move on, however, at the same time...

... I had started thinking about shoes and in particular about which pair of shoes would be the most comfortable for the longest length of time. Sew Expo is a lot of walking on cement floors.

Keeping shoes in mind, I briefly debated a different combo by holding the bodice pieces of Vogue 8691 next to the skirt pieces of my other favourite skirt - Burda 8213. They matched up near to perfect only the resulting dress - which was similar in shape, plus sleeves and a higher neckline, to the out of print Vogue 7824 below - would have been more of an overdressed, pantyhose and heels, combination and not a wear around the convention hall with comfortable shoes one. Again, not what I was going for.

And that made me think about wearing jeans which in turn made me think about sewing some pants because in the amount of time it would take me to go all over town to find a pair of jeans that both fit and flattered, I could go into the stash and sew a pair of pants... for a lot less money... and a lot more fun... and I'm still debating that thought. Meanwhile, my purple swirly fabric was already on the table and dresses were dancing in my head and at least one needed to be sewn.

Marcy's Vogue 8876 crept into my mind Friday night while I wasn't sleeping and since I wasn't sleeping, I started to figure out how to sew it from a knit, on fold, with a finished neckline, and no center front opening, and what size would I need. Saturday morning, I pulled out the pattern, checked the stretch factor on my fabric, compared it to the charts, and determined that I needed to sew exactly the size I'd previously traced which meant I could start right now. SOLD. This one is a winter version made from a soft, brushed, quite stable, knit.

Other than placing center front on fold to eliminate the buttoned opening, I cut out the pieces and sewed as directed. It was quick, easy, fun, and finished in a day. That's the benefit of making a second version of a pattern you've already sewn. I'd definitely make this out of a knit again although next time I would line the yoke with a woven to help keep the shoulders on the shoulders. It's so wonderful and flattering that I'm thinking about a sleeveless version for my trip to Oregon.

For the collar cording - the selvage rolled to the right side so I cut a narrow strip, twisted it, and zigzagged on top to make cording that is soft and color co-ordinated. It worked just great.

And here it is on me. A mirror shot but better than nothing. AND... with my shoes. What do you think? I'm still debating sewing some fun pants but it's nice to have options. This pattern has a lot of seams. It's great for curvy figures and is - IMHO - especially flattering in a soft fabric with drape.

And, my extremely talented grandson playing the piano. I have an almost identical picture of his mother doing exactly the same thing. Too fun.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a flattering and comfortable new dress and a lovely compliment

Friday, February 14, 2014

It Might Not And So What

The cape is hung up in the closet ready to go. Thanks for all the wonderful compliments. I'll get a picture of me wearing it as soon as possible although that always seems to take far longer than I'd like... especially an outdoor shot. It's definitely time to find a remote for my camera and figure out how to smile pretty without feeling self-conscious in public. Maybe my barista could take it - LOL - but not today. It is snowing like crazy outside. Something warmer will be necessary.

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about how I sew. I've given up on the sewing with a plan type projects because they never seem to happen and I've become increasingly cautious about saying I'm going to explore this or that new technique, series, or way of working because it never goes quite the way I imagined.

Why do I make the things I make? Most often, it's via the loudest tickle, the thing that is dancing and waving and hopping up and down and saying make me. It may fit into one of the plans I was thinking about but the projects are not consecutive the way I'd imagined and I think that's just fine.

Right now, the loudest tickle is something to wear to Sew Expo. I've settled on a dress. The OOP pattern above is Marcy Tilton's Vogue 8637. I've been wanting to sew it for YEARS... and I haven't... and isn't that so often the case ? ? ? The aspect I love the most about this pattern is the hemline. The points are great only I've sewn a lot of pointed patterns lately and I'm not in the mood for another one so I'm taking the soft hemline of this skirt and adding it to...

... my T & T favourite, Katherine Tilton's Vogue 8691. I've played with this pattern for so long that I'm not sure Katherine would even recognize my variations as originating with her however... it does AMAZING things for my figure... minus the ruffle that is. As you can see, the top has princess lines and the skirt does not so....

... I'm also incorporating some of the seams and shaping from Marcy's Vogue 8499. The princess seams in the front lined up fabulously and in the back, I'm inventing new lines. What will I end up with? I have no idea. Will it look good on me? We'll see.

More than anything else, this compilation of patterns is an exploration of a possibility and the answer to a tickle however... as the pictures of my Koos skirt show... sometimes a garment that feels good on you might not necessarily look good on you. It was a shock to see because I feel amazing when I wear that skirt - which I'm not wearing anymore now that I see how un-amazing I actually do look - but, obviously, there is a happy balance to be discovered between those two things. How do I make a garment that feels good emotionally - as in this feels flirty and fun and just like me - look good physically and how do I make a garment that looks good physically - as in it flatters my figure - feel good emotionally?

SUCH an interesting question. The answer is not all about the fabric or even the style. Sometimes, it's the sizing or the styling or the color or the mood we're in or the accessories we put it all together with which leads me to another conversation, one where Myrna wades in where perhaps Myrna shouldn't, BUT... this really struck me and it's my opinion and I'm entitled to it so here goes.

Several years ago, I wrote a posting about a pattern of Sandra Betzina's that was based on a shirt by a Canadian designer. At that time, I was upset that she had copied the shirt and made it into a pattern without giving credit to the designer. I have since learned that not only is this common practice, there is in fact no copyright protection on clothing. I have a high level of respect for Sandra Betzina and was glad to learn that neither she nor any of the other pattern designers I know who are following a similar practice are "stealing".

I have an equally high level of respect for Pati Palmer. She has had a long and solid career and several of her books - Fit For Real People and Pants for Real People - are on my must have list. If my house burned down, I'd replace them immediately and I recommend them to any new sewist. The workshops I've taken with Pati have been phenomenal and taught me a tremendous amount. Palmer Pletsch also published Looking Good by Nancy Nix-Rice and this book is also on my must have list. I've heard it ridiculed for the outdated pictures. Let me just say that it's the information you're buying. Pictures are outdated the minute they are taken however....

... pictures can also say interesting things that are perhaps not what you meant to say. In the recent advertisement for Nancy's new book - Looking Good Everyday - my eye was caught by the picture above. Andrea appears to be wearing Marcy Tilton's Vogue 8499 skirt in the before picture and that's an interesting choice. The message I get is that the skirt is frumpy and...

... when such a recognizable pattern is chosen...

... that message has an overtone that could be interpreted as being applied to the designer. I'm not saying that's what happened. I have no idea if this is an accidental or a deliberate message. For all I know, these women could be the best of friends but that's not the message I'm getting and this particular image really impacted me - in part because this is one of my favourite skirts, in part because I have a high level of respect for the designer, and in part because sewing is a big business with a small pond.

Having been in the small pond of another big business, I know that extra care should be taken to play nicely. The before/after example struck me as a version of if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. I wondered - and perhaps that's just me - if there was some kind of subtext going on and the fact that I wondered means someone should have thought this through just a little better because that's not good marketing - IMHO.

And then...

... the before/after contrast is skewed. The before photo is taken from above making Andrea look shorter and squatter and her torso longer while the after photo is taken from a far more flattering angle. This is nowhere near comparing apples to apples.

I wear this skirt all the time and it's incredibly flattering and gets numerous compliments. Andrea appears to have a lovely, curvy figure with a fuller bust line than mine. If the skirt looks good on me with my bottom heavy, narrow shoulder figure, there's every possibility it could look good on her because its bell shape is reminiscent of the hourglass shape she appears to have. ONLY...

... I don't wear it several sizes too big, in a dull fabric, with glaring zippers and an ill-fitting, baggy shirt and flat, unflattering, gladiator sandals. What I would really like to have seen is a before and after image that took that same skirt in the correct size with color co-ordinated zippers and put it with a fitted top of the correct length, color, and fit that had a flattering neckline and then added accessories that worked and the fancy new hairdo and shot the image from the same flattering angle as the after image. THAT would have given a totally different message overall and would have been incredibly helpful because we don't walk around in heels and pantyhose everyday.

BUT... even if it's frumpy in their opinion, it's still my favourite skirt...
And I'm still working with it...
And I'm still going to sew what I want....
And I'm still going to have fun following up tickles...
And my dress may or may not flatter me...
And so what ! ! ! ! !
It matters but...
It's not the only thing that matters
Sew what you want to sew.

Happy Valentine's Day. Next time you look in the mirror, give yourself a kiss and a big hug. You're amazing. I recently read an interesting book by Judy Ford. It's called Single: The Art of Being Satisfied, Fulfilled, and Independent. In it, Judy talks about how we are all born singular and how sometimes we are single in a relationship and other times we are single and not in a relationship but we will spend all of our lives with ourselves. Think about that. Every single day of your life, from beginning to end, you will spend with one person - yourself. That thought illustrates how important it is to know and love ourselves and to fulfill our passion and purpose, to be our own Valentine.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - lessons in learning to play nicely