Thursday, April 30, 2015

I Just Couldn't Help It

During my morning hour in the studio, I don't do any fiddly fitting. I'm just waking up and I'm not dressed so if it requires advanced thinking skills or lingerie, it waits til later. Yesterday morning, I cut out a black linen, sleeveless top, fifteen pieces, all single layer, Butterick 5891. I've sewn this top before - once unsuccessfully and once successfully only the fabric turned out to be poor quality and the top didn't last. It's a fun piece to work on and while I'm doing that...

... I can problem solve with the fabric Claire brought me from Paris. To get the correct length, I'll need to combine it with another fabric so I researched lace. The blouses above illustrate the two different options - lace yokes or a lace back. I have a box of lace pieces and none of the yardage was purple, white, cream, or silver. In fact - no surprise - most of it was black but luckily Fabricland has lace on 50% off this week so I picked up enough white to play with. I will try painting it but...

... have you ever hoped a color would run? I threw the lace in the washer on hot with more of the purple pant fabric hoping some of the purple would bleed and tinge the lace. No such luck. The purple was on sale - 70% off - and I just couldn't help it - I had to buy more and use the exact same fabric to try the alterations to the pant pattern and see if they came out exactly right the first time, no fitting needed.

When I talked about a squared crotch curve, this is what I meant. I started adjusting the crotch shape by taking out another inch of hip depth across the front pattern piece and a tapered inch across the back pattern piece leaving the center back crotch length as it was. Then, I drew the dotted black line showing the stitching - in pencil first - and compared it to what I had actually stitched on the pants. It wasn't just close. The measurements were identical which gives me hope for adjusting without as much fitting in the future. The crosshatched section will get cut out. I don't need it.

I noticed some pulls when fitting the crotch curve that indicated not enough fabric so I opened up the side seam to let the fabric hang free. The amount is not a lot but enough to cause issues. When I adjusted the pattern, I trued the side seam which added almost 1/2" to that area or 1" in total across the back. I also made the seam allowance 1" wide in case I need to further let it out. The only thing I'll do different this time is to add some darts to the front to take out fullness. I need the width at my front thigh but not at the waist.

I added back 1 1/4" of length below the knee based on the inseam measurement of my other pair. This second purple pair shouldn't look too short this time although I will be interested to see what happens at the heel. Above, it looks like the cuff is pulling up in the back which totally could have been caused by after-the-fact alterations. With doing them in advance, I'm hoping for different results but either way, it won't be a problem because the pants will be longer and resting on my shoes.

Have you ever sewn the exact same garment in the exact same fabric to see if what you're hoping will happen actually happens? I've done that before with muslin but not with a fashion fabric. I'm intrigued to see if I have learned enough to make these kinds of changes with confidence during the cutting stage. Can I trust my measurements and my instincts? It'll be good learning and I know I can refashion the original pair into something else along with the scraps. That too will be learning. All good.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - the ability to experiment

I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.
- Albert Einstein

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Not That Alteration

One of the things I find really interesting about sewing is how a "what if" thought can totally change my perspective and then I go looking for more information and following the idea up and suddenly I'm moving in new directions thinking not that alteration, this one.

It happened with the center back length. For the longest time, I thought the pooling in the back was because of a sway back and then I realized it was really too long of a center back length. It happened with the yucky wrinkling around my armholes and down my sleeves and then I realized I needed a shorter armhole depth and a high sleeve cap. It happened with those diagonal wrinkles from bust to hip. I thought I needed more hip width and then I realized I needed an FBA. And on it goes. For the longest time...

... I've been making an adjustment for a tipped waist and then I noticed I had a wrinkle below the waistband at the side which made me think that maybe my waist wasn't tipped afterall. What if that extra length at the back had more to do with my back crotch length and less to do with my waist height and what if high back hips were a factor? SO...

... when I made the alterations to this pant pattern, I took out 1" of hip depth, 1" above the knee and 1 1/2" below the knee so the curves of the pattern would match the curves of my body. Based on my inseam and crotch measurements, I was pretty sure that I'd need to lower the crotch about 5/8" and the waistband at least another inch in. I waited. It's easier to take extra fabric off than to put it back on.

The tuck pinned across the front is one inch. I pinned it from side to side which means it then needs to be tapered toward center back maintaining the back crotch length while eliminating the extra fullness. You can just see the folds in the leg in the picture above left and how they "lift" when I pinch the tuck toward the back in the picture above right.

I removed the waistband and lowered it one inch from center front to the side and then tapered it to nothing from the side to center back.

That adjustment helped substantially as you can see above. Next time, I'll take some of the fullness out of the front as well as add back 1/2" of length below the knee. This pair is long enough but I'd like it ever so slightly longer. I have enough fabric to replace the cuffs if I find it too short but I think the length will be okay... with shoes.. when I'm not taking pictures with my hands on my hips. This is the point at which...

... I can start fine tuning the crotch curve. The Burda shape matches mine fairly well but needs just a little bit of work. The corners need to be squared out more to get rid of the pouffing at the front and the pulling at the back and the inseam needs to be shortened by the 5/8" I predicted which lets me know that I am starting to get how to make pants that work for me. YES YES.

I'll make the adjustments to the pattern and next time try it in a less than precious material with similar weight, to see if I can sew the pants from start to finish and end up with good fit, no alterations. What fun that would be.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - progressive learning

"Yeah, but they're PURPLE pants," Bobby said as if that made some kind of distinction. "Hence, I'm awesome.” 
- Amanda Hocking

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Magpie Sewing

I realized late Sunday night that although I'd thought about what to write, I hadn't actually written it and at the last minute just didn't seem a good idea. I try to put a bit of thought into how things are organized even if....

... I don't pretty up for the pictures. Here's the jacket without buttons along with what I was wearing at the time. There weren't any buttons in town that worked so it may be a while before I finish this. I like it and I'll sew it again only next time I'll either make the sleeves shorter or longer and make the body slightly shorter. It's not great with these jeans. It could look nice over a dress or with a longer top.

Longer is a topic that's been coming up quite often lately. It's like I woke up one morning and suddenly all my tops were too short and made my butt look big. Isn't it weird how that happens? You were fine and then suddenly, you're not.

The two tops above - the Rae Pintuck Tunic and the Poplin Empire Top - are from Anthropologie which we don't have in town but I did go snoop shopping on the weekend and try on some longer length blouses to see what I thought. They felt more comfortable - like they were covering things up in a more flattering way. I'm looking forward to sewing a few.

One aspect of sewing I'm becoming increasingly aware of is my vertical measurements. I've already spent quite a bit of time on that with upper garments and found that my center front and center back lengths, shoulder to bust point length, and underarm depth were really critical to getting good fit and to having the curves of the garment match the curves on my body.

I'm having the same "ah ha" with pants and skirts. I've learned that the top of the waistband needs to sit at my waist and not the bottom of the waistband and that my hip depth is significantly shorter than the pattern. You'll notice that underarm depth and hip depth are not noted on the chart above. That can be frustrating but often I'm taking out 1-1 1/2" for the underarm and 2-3" for the hip depth and then there's the crotch. It's a journey. VBG - a fun one.

Right now, I am magpie sewing which means following shiny objects and sewing whatever takes my fancy.
When I had my coaching session with Diane yesterday, we talked about how important it is for me to relax and have fun, to let things develop rather than try to make them happen, and to explore ideas like longer tops, brighter colors, woven blouses instead of knit t-shirts, funky dresses and... and... and... There are so many possibilities and play is a good idea.

Yesterday, I started the purple pants using Burda 7400. I've sewn this pattern several times and find these pants fun and comfortable. One pair, I wear all the time. Another has been retired. That gives me room for another pair - VBG. The ribbed waist is wasted on me. I don't have that much room between my hips and my rib cage so I use a 1" elastic.

So far, the two pant legs are sewn together complete with the pleats and cuffs. I'll slip stitch the facing in place this morning before stitching the crotch and waist seams. Shaping the crotch to match mine may be the longest part of  sewing this pattern but luckily I'm getting used to that and am making basically the same changes pant to pant. Otherwise, this pattern is a very simple sew... and fun... especially in purple.

Talk soon - Myrna
Grateful - shiny objects

Either you let your life slip away by not doing the things you want to do or you get up and do them. 
- Carl Ally

Friday, April 24, 2015

Mess Excess And Self Fulfilling Prophecies

You're probably expecting to see the finished jacket and it's not finished. Yesterday, I just didn't feel like sewing so I didn't. Although my breaks are typically only a couple of days versus weeks or months, I've learned that when I don't feel like it, I don't feel like it.

I okay with taking a bit of a break because the cruise collection is basically together. Along with the seven tops, I have a denim pencil skirt, a pair of jeans, some black striped pants, some black knit pants, a pair of grey twill pants, the black knit Morning skirt, and the option of either a striped denim skirt or a black and white skirt whichever I feel works better at the time. Both the optional skirts are Vogue 8499, a style I really like and wear a lot.

I came to the conclusion that if I have seven tops and will be gone for three weeks then each top needs to go with three bottoms but not with all the bottoms. That simplified things considerably and since I am getting tired of sewing for the cruise and am more than ready to move on to things that don't need to co-ordinate, I shopped my closet for the rest of the bottom garments and for the cardigans which I did think needed to go with each top and each bottom so I'll be taking three different styles, all black.

One cardigan wasn't quite in the closet. I saw it in the window of a shop on my walk yesterday and it was so close to what I was thinking of sewing that I bought the black version.

That leaves the raincoat. My friend Barb is coming to sew for a week early May so I'll start it while she's here and leave the side seams open because when I get to Ashland later in the month my friend Ute is going to help me put the pockets in using her fabulous method. Isn't her pocket a thing of beauty? I've never done anything like it so I'm looking forward to learning a new skill.

It wasn't raining yesterday morning so I walked down to Starbucks. If you enlarge the picture above, you'll see a darker brown building middle left and then a lighter tan one slightly forward and to the right. That's the Chapters bookstore and the Starbucks is in the same building. My typical walk is up and down and a bit of across. This one is down all the way there and up all the way back. That's a bit harder and I made it.

One of my studies yesterday talked about how we are most alive when we live with purpose and the other talked about self fulfilling prophecies which are when we so believe something to be true - whether it is or not  - that we act on that belief and through our actions make it true.

I see myself as winning. I run this movie through my mind thirty or forty times before each meet. When it comes time to swim, I just get in and win. - Bob Hopper

Lately I've been feeling quite overwhelmed by the situation with my husband's health. It affects me and it's totally outside of my control. All I can do is make the best choices to support my own health. All day, I contemplated ways to change my thinking that would be more beneficial, how to see a winner when I look in the mirror, what movie to run through my mind time and again, what purpose am I working toward, and other things like that. None of it can be answered in a day but if I am going to be what I think, I want to think good and positive things.

A definite sign that I'm stressed is when I start piling things on the floor. For a few weeks, I threw everything beside the sewing machine and when that pile got too big, I moved it to the guest room bed but that only worked for so long especially as I saw it every time I went in and out of the studio. Some of it was fabric that I'd pulled off the shelves and not put back and some of it was new fabric. I think my fear was that it wouldn't all fit back on the shelf so I was voiding the truth.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that when I'm dealing with something I tend to talk a lot, research endlessly, and spend money. I've been trying not to talk about the situation with my husband since it's never ending and I don't want it to dominate every conversation I have with my friends. There's no need to do further research since the answers are not going to change and that left retail therapy. I've been indulging in just a bit too much  - an excess perhaps - of fabric lately especially with the recent sales BUT... luckily the fabric all fit into the closet and unluckily - depending on how you look it - there is actually room for more... and another sale this weekend... and I'm going to get buttons... and I'm weak, weak, weak in the face of fabric. I may have to have that talk with the girl in the mirror.

For the next couple weeks, I plan to work on outfits - as in they can stand alone and don't need to co-ordinate - for the Design Outside the Lines retreat at the end of May starting with purple pants from this print fabric that I bought a couple years ago and a sleeveless top with the silk that Claire brought me back from Paris. I'm not sure if there will be enough of the silk for a longer button blouse but I want to try that style so we'll see.


The last time I cleaned the stash, I put aside a bunch of fabrics to over-dye including a taupe linen. In March, I threw it in a turquoise dye bath and it came out not too bad only there were a few lighter spots so yesterday I threw it back in the vat for a second dyeing. After the linen had absorbed for a while, I added a printed cotton gauze just to see what would happen. Turquoise is best left overnight so I'll finish up this morning and see if the cotton will need another dyeing. Either way, I decided if that pile was there to be over-dyed then it should be over-dyed so it could instead be there to sew with.

Hopefully the jacket will be done by Monday.

Talk soon - Myrna

- no fabric piles

What concerns me is not the way things are, but rather the way people think they are
- Epictetus

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Long Naps & Enhanced Fabric

Naturally, if you lend your car for the week, it will rain just when you wanted to walk to Starbucks. I ended up journalling at home which was good but not at all the same plus it didn't get me out of the house which is important when you're stay-at-home... or at least it is for me. Although I'm introverted, a certain amount of interaction combined with my routine works best for me.

One of my friends sees no reason to have a car. She says she doesn't need it. I do not understand. I love to drive and go on road trips and I use my car all the time. I need it. By the weekend, I'll have a list of things to do including pick up buttons for this jacket... which I did work on yesterday... although I also had a long nap. It seemed the perfect thing to do on a rainy day.

Knowing I barely had enough fabric, when I started laying out the pattern pieces I placed the collar in a position where each end would have some of the pink because I knew that I didn't want that acid green by my face. I didn't cut out the collar though. I prefer to interface the fabric first and then cut out the pieces. For the inside of the collar, I used solid black.

Here is how the fabric design lined up with the back of the jacket. I like the horizontal black lines but thought the yoke needed a bit of enhancing to add better balance to the right side so I...

... fused some strips of black and zigzag stitched them in place. The black fabric is scraps from a previous project. I love when I get to use scraps. It makes saving them worthwhile.

On the front, these two very strong shapes ended up side by side in a matchy matchy and not flattering way so I enhanced the front by....

... inserting a black button band at center front and adding some narrower stripes to the sides. I also narrowed the collar at the front only because...

... it felt too wide and floppy but I didn't want to lose those strong horizontal black lines at the back. I took off 1/2" at center front tapered to the shoulder line and then smoothed out that point that occurred. This is the stage I'm at - sewing on the collar and adding the sleeves. Maybe if I stay awake today, I'll actually finish - LOL.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a long nap

This is the beginning of a new day. You have been given this day to use as you will. You can waste it or use it for good. What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it. When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever; in its place is something that you have left behind... let it be something good. 
- author unknown

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Take A Break

The fuel pump went on my youngest son's car and he needs a vehicle for work so he's driving mine this week and I am home car-less. This is not my preferred state but it does guarantee that I will get a lot of work done in the studio plus a walk up and down the hill to Starbucks each morning.

Yesterday, I pulled out the pattern and fabric to start a cardigan for the cruise collection and then had second thoughts about their suitability to each other and to the collection. Instead of making up my mind, I decided to take a break and sew something off topic. A palette cleanser if you will.

Fabric is one of my favourite souvenirs. I bought a meter and a half of this multi-colored knit at Fabricana in Richmond about six or seven years ago on my way to a workshop with Sandra Betzina on Vancouver Island. I've since learned that if the fabric has a large motif, buy more BUT... in this case... I had barely enough and had to let the shapes fall where they would. I wanted a pattern that would break up the chunkiness and when Vogue 1435 came out this past winter, it seemed perfect. I really like swing coats and this will be an upscale sweatshirt. Warm and cozy and cute.

The top stitched seams were dull against the vibrancy of the design so I played with different ideas for highlighting the seams and in the end chose to fuse a 1/2" strip along each seam and zigzag the edges.

At left is the back before and at right is the back with the black strips sewn in place. They add a lot more energy and contrast to the piece. Once I have the collar pinned on and can see how it interacts with the other elements, I'll decide if I need to add something to the back yoke to balance the arrangement better. How fun to finally be using this fabric. YES YES !!!

Talk soon - Myrna

- a car to lend

In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different. 
- Coco Chanel

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Morning Skirt That Took All Day

How is that some complicated patterns sew up in no time at all and some simple patterns seem to take forever. Marcy calls her Vogue 9060 pattern The Morning Skirt because it can be sewn in a morning. Well.... mine is the morning skirt that took all day.

It wasn't because I double top stitched each seam. That was the easy part. It started with the very first piece. First I fused the interfacing to the wrong side of the hem and then I sewed the first seam right side to wrong side, picked it out, and sewed it right side to right side only to discover that I'd sewn it to the completely wrong edge of the skirt and had to pick it out and move it to the opposite side and remove all those little tuffs of thread.

And then I tried it on and narrowed the waistband and then tried it on again only to decide that I actually wanted it longer so I picked out the top stitching, removed the first waistband, and sewed on a wider one. And then I had to go to the store to get elastic. BUT... it's done. And I like it. WAY more than an a-line skirt. I'm glad I decided to try again.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a warm sunny day

Don't confuse your path with your destination. Just because it's stormy now doesn't mean you aren't headed for sunshine. 
- unknown

Monday, April 20, 2015

Nose To The Needle

It's that in-between time with the weather where the heater is still coming on at night but you can open the windows during the day and sit out on the porch. The sunshine and warm air make it harder to stay in the studio but I did keep my nose to the needle this weekend and get some things done.

I'm making tremendous progress on the cruise collection and I can hardly wait to be finished. This will be the first time ever that I've finished any kind of SWAP - sewing with a plan - and I don't think I'll be too eager to do another any time soon. I will - however - be quite proud of myself for finishing.

These are the buttons I chose for the denim pencil skirt that I started on Friday. I loved the faux stitching although in the end, I used black thread for the top stitching so it would barely show making the skirt a little dressier than it would have been with jean-like top stitching.

It's a mix of patterns and ideas. I cut out the longest version (blue) from out of print McCall's 3830 and added an extension to the front for buttons as in the center (brown) skirt from Burda 6902 and then...

... I used an elastic waist so I can just pull it up over my hips. The denim is stretch.


On the Burda skirt, the buttons are 3 1/4" apart and on mine, they are 2 1/2" apart to minimize the potential for embarrassing gaps. Closer together meant stitching the buttonholes horizontal rather than vertical. For each, I drew a chalk line for the horizontal position and another for the vertical starting point and then...

... stitched on the line, trimmed the threads, overlapped the edges, and sewed the buttons through all layers. It's just a lot easier this way especially with the elastic waist.

I washed the skirt to get rid of the chalk marks and put it on my dress form to dry. Millicent does not have the same hip curves that I have so it's looking wrinkled and skewed. If I'd waited for a pretty picture, it wouldn't have happened but hopefully I'll get some pictures of me wearing it on the cruise. The top rather than the bottom of the waistband is at my waist. This is working quite well and I'm starting to use that position on all pants and skirts. When I sew this pattern next, I'll adjust the hip depth a bit more. The curve is ever so slightly too low.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a second grandchild due early September

Is the strategy that enabled me to get where I am now the one I want to keep using?
- Roger von Oech