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.


  1. I like this top, very shapely, fun print. Have this pattern in progress at the moment also. I see you bound the neckline with self fabric, rather than bias binding per instructions. Mine will be bound with the fashion fabric as well. Brings the neckline up a tad.

    1. Thanks. The print nicely hides a few lumps and bumps too - that Millicent have. It's a great pattern. I didn't even read the instructions and just did my usual neckline. I'll go see what they recommended.

  2. OK, capes are a total pain to wear! I have a few and, while I love them, good luck with putting a bag over your shoulder. Don't give up on it! It's worth wearing for the chic factor alone :-)

    1. Yes... they are. I can't see myself hanging in there for the chic factor. I'd rather be chic some other far more comfortable and less annoying way. It'll just hang in the closet so it may as well become something else.

  3. The story about your cape had me laughing... :-) I guess that is why I have not been able to bring myself to sew one other than short 'capelets' as covers for evening wear. Any funnily enough, when I go out in the evening to an event, I am usually carrying a clutch and do not have to worry about straps being thrown over my shoulder!

    I love your t-shirt. It looks so beautifully made but I am puzzled by the photo of the piece with the interfacing on it. It does not look like a neckline, shoulder or hem piece but rather, a side front or back on a princess seamed top. Can you clarify and also why you interfaced that piece? Forgive me if I missed it but what pattern is this top? The design is lovely.

    Great comments on the process actually turning into the endpoint of the journey if we look at it from a certain perspective.
    Have a great weekend!

    1. Yes. I could wear my cape with some kind of clutch purse as long as I wasn't driving and didn't move. LOL - knowing me. Probably not going to happen.

      The t-shirt is Vogue 8323 - out of print but on sale right now at BMV. I guess that photo didn't do what I wanted. It is center front. I was trying to show that I used the pattern piece (mine are traced so white) to make sure the fabric was lying correctly on the pressing surface before I applied any interfacing. In this case, after comparing the fabric to the pattern and getting the neckline shape correct, I would fuse 3/8" strips of straight interfacing around the neckline to stabilize it. Without comparing, your fabric can take on a vastly different shape than you think and after fusing, cause problems when sewing.

    2. Oh geez!! Now that you explained, it is obvious from your photo and description. I guess I must have been half asleep or reading too quickly when I went through the post... I fully agree, cutting knits and also silks often changes the shape of the pattern piece just slightly enough to make a big difference in the final product. Your way of handling the problem is a good tip.

  4. Capes are both awesome and fussy. I have one I love that hardly gets worn because it's just too fussy. I love it anyway. And I totally agree about embracing the process. I am in the midst of some painfully wonder-full life changes and I am amazed at my own capacity as well as my own strength. But it's only now, at this point in my life, that I am able to appreciate how I got to this point. Now if I could just get my Dad's computer sorted....

    1. And yet they can look so elegant - especially in the movies.

      Embracing the process - yes - great growth and often not at all fun. HUGS.

  5. Agreed, capes are a total pain. I could wear one when we stayed overnight in NYC and I only had to walk and carry a small evening bag (or take a cab) but they are completely impractical otherwise. I have one I only wear maybe once a year. Perhaps if I lived a metropolitan life without a car….

    I like the idea of looking at the challenges in life as a process of learning; that is what they are of course, but I hadn't specifically thought of it that way.


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