Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Muslin #2

Well, the second muslin is 98% together. I miscalculated something. When reviewing the Threads articles on adding warmth and inter-linings to coats, they both recommended using a size up in the coat to allow for the extra layer. I had not done that, so I cut out the wafflecloth with extra 5/8" s.a. and sewed a normal 5/8". Sounds normal enough, except that I forgot to add to the back neck seam on the hood/collar. So, I can't attach the neck to the coat. The hood is still not quite right, either so I have to play with that a bit more yet. Otherwise, it looks much better and fits well over a sweater with lots of ease, so it should fit well over the lining and thermal layer. I am going to let the coat hang so that the bias will stretch before I do anything else to that. I added an FBA of 1" and then removed the dart. In the lining, I rotated out the dart into the front seamline as there is an existing dart there. Now it is a bigger one!

I am going to put together a muslin of the lining tonight as I want to see how it all goes together. This will also allow me to try out my latest hood fix on the front facing. I have some poly from the stash to do that up. I am taking a break now and will get back at it after the monkeys are in bed. I want to get lots done over the next day or so as the Pilot comes home for the weekend again. We are having a family photo taken this weekend. A friend is a pro photographer and he is doing this as a favour to me. I will have to make him something special. As he is another Scout leader, maybe I can make him a campfire blanket/poncho. Or one for his son ... he won't take any $ for this. As a freelancer he shoudl get something for his time, don't you think?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Back at it ...

Well, the weekend is over and the Pilot has gone away again for another week. The dining room is 3/4 painted and I managed to get to the shop for an hour tonight. I have transferred the FBA and hood changes to all the pattern pieces. I am going to cut one more muslin so that I am sure of the fixes prior to cutting the cashmere. I have some waffle cloth that I had on the classifieds, but since there are no takers, I am going to use that. If it fits well enough, I have a very fashionable hooded HP bathrobe! I "tried on" the windbloc liner fabric today and it was lighter in weight than I thought which will work out well, I think.

I was looking through some back issues of Threads tonight and found an article on shawl collars. With respect to interfacings, there were 2 options, soft or tailored. The tailored option was favoured for coats. For that option, I can either hand baste in hair canvas or use layered fusible interfacing and roll tape. Since I don't have any hair canvas, guess I am using the fusible. No roll tape, though, do I really need it? My thought process is that since I am adding a hood and will have the collar slightly raised when wearing the hood, I don't necessarily need a definite roll line (not there is one marked on the pattern anyway ... more on patterns below).

I also Ann's article on welt pockets once again. I used her method on my Jalie jean jacket and loved it! It was so easy to follow and the results were so great. Again, my brain is working overtime, but isn't a bound buttonhole the same as a welt pocket without the pocket bag? Can I use the same method for my buttonholes? Something to try out on scraps before I do anything for the buttonholes.

Now, on to a general rant about patterns and people's expectations. I refer to myself as a novice sewer. As I have not yet sewn a tailored jacket and there are numerous techniques I have yet to learn, I would not call myself advanced in skill. What amazes me is that there are people out there who call themselves "advanced beginner" or "intermediate" and yet they publicly froth over having to add seam allowances, or they rant about small inconsitancies in pattern markings. On the HP design I am working on now, the markings are lighter in colour than the rest of the lines. There is no roll line marked for the shawl collar. Am I complaining? No. I don't need/expect to be handed it all on a silver platter. Sewing is an escape for me. I often call it a mindless exercise because I am able to completely dump all that is going on in my life and just focus on the project at hand. Does that mean that I don't have to think? Not on your life. Do I expect the detail of the pattern to be commensurate with the price of the pattern? No. I recognize that the reason indie patterns are more expensive is a scale issue. They limit the numbers so they can keep costs down. Since when is quality a function of cost?

Sorry for the rant, but I was disturbed by something I saw today and am amazed at the things some people can write. I am not going to say anything more as I don't want to give anymore time to this. I have just been holding this all in for a long time and today, I can't do it anymore. So, I am off to have a glass of milk and go to bed to read about the linings once more before I start to cut. Tomorrow is a day for muslin #2.

PS. Cross your fingers, I am bidding on a new serger on eBay. It is a lovely little machine that somebody I respect highly also owns. Two more days to go ... I am going a bit beyond my comfort zone in bidding, but this little beastie will be so worth it! A nice early Christmas present if it happens!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

muslin fixes

So I realized last night that I had forgotten to mark the CF on the muslin. So, I may actually have had the front pinned wrong. So, I have marked off the CF and repinned to see what it is like after a night hanging as well. Turns out that I had way over pinned the overlap! I filled out one of the sleeves with some batting I had in the stash to get a better idea of how they hang. The other thing I noticed last night was that there is some shaping to the side seams that is apparent in the flannel but not in the drawings. There is a definite curve to the hip line that carries down to the hemline that I took out. I like a straighter line to coats.

I agree with Diva Mary Beth, the coat sure seemed to be asking for a French Dart, so I pinned one out. I also have replaced the wedge I put in the hood with a larger one to make that fit better as well. Here is the muslin with the back dart taken out, a French dart added to the right side only. Major difference to the front! I figure I have to add about 1" in length and probably the same on width to make this work. I am going to cut some strips of fabric and stitch it on to see if I am right rather than re-cut the front. I think that the fullness from the dart down to the hemline is due to design or is something else I have to fix. I will have to think on that for a bit.

The back and armscye actually lie better now that the front dart is pinned in and the horizontal back dart is removed. I thought you had to adjust the back before the bust ... but that just seemed to cause me more problems. Thanks Mary Beth, once again!

I want to try it on over a larger sweater tonight (this is where I regret using flannel as the muslin ... major cling factor!). After that I will see how it looks before I make the changes to the pattern. I will do a bit more after the monkeys are in bed and then call it a night.

As far as initial imresssions go for this pattern, it has gone together easily enough so far. I have not really used the instructions yet as the design has no major challenges to it. However, I have been using the coat pieces for the muslin, though as the lining and facing pieces are too numerous for a muslin. I like my muslins fast and easy to throw together! Once I get this fit as best as I can, I will tackle the many inside pieces. That is for after the weekend! The Pilot comes home for the weekend and I don't plan on spending it in the workshop!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

HP Cherry Blossom Coat muslin #1

The first muslin is done. I made no alterations for fit but did make some style changes, the biggest being the addition of a cut on hood to the shawl collar.
I drafted what I thought would be right and then added it to the collar facing as it was smaller to deal with than the actual coat piece. It was good enough to show I was on the right track and then I went on to the first flannel attempt.
pattern piece
As I said before, the 2 piece sleeves are cut on the bias. I allowed another 5/8" s.a. on the sides of the sleeves and marked the original cut and seam lines. After constructing the entire coat, I tried it on without any extra layers underneath. I just wanted to see how the hood was lying. It needed some work, as it did not reach far enough in front to keep me warm. So, I ripped the basting out to about 3" from the neckline and then spread out the hood pieces to lie flat on the dummy. The space remaining was a triangle. So, I went to the scrap pile and added a piece to the space and pinned it together and tired it on. The wedge was still not quite enough, but it is closer. When I try the hood on, I see that I need to add another amount as the hood is too narrow at the top of my head.
hood fix #1

I then let Mindy try it on. I had cut out a 16 (for a 42" full bust) and did not do an FBA as I wanted to see how close it fit considering I am a 41" full bust. I knew it would have to be an FBA, but I wanted to discover just how much I needed in the muslin rather than just assuming the amount. The lines confirm, to my eyes anyway, that I need an FBA. The CF swings out and there are those drag lines pointing to the twins that mean I have to do a second muslin.

Center front #1

front view


The other thing that I noticed was that I needed to take a dart out at the back. This stopped the s.s. from swinging forward. Does this mean I have a swayback?
rear view
So, I am off to bed now, but will revisit all these changes tomorrow. First of all though, tomorrow is Coffee Day with the ladies. After that I have to do some more painting, then I will get to the second muslin.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Baby steps ...

The flannel was cut out but I haven't gotten any further yet. Have to get going on that as the temps went below zero last night for the second night in a row. I have too many things on the go. I need to paint, I need to sew, I need to clean my house ... Today, I sew the flannel and see how it fits. Maybe even get the thermal layer cut out if the flannel is OK.

I am using a lining windlboc fleece from Malden Mills that I bought from wazoodle. This is a nice compact liner that will help keep me warm until it gets really cold! I am going to overlap the seams as opposed to using the regular seaming techinique. This was recommended in Threads. I may even try to flatlock on my serger with some scraps. Will have to see ...

The absentee husband called last night with details about his grad weekend in June. Garden Party followed by formal dinner. I have the garden party dress already planned, but am stumped by the formal. I am unhappy with the fit of the present fromals in the closet and want a new one. I am thinking of the Hot Patterns Bollywood Dress. I am trying to think if this would suit my figure ... I am trying to channel Nick and Stacy, here but they are silent today.

Here is my thought process ... the bodice would be great due to the neckline. The underbust gathers I think would be OK, but am not sure of the waistline gathers. Definitely no tulle underskirt! I also think I would need to lengthen the skirt to fit my height. The fullness should balance my bustline, right? But those gathers worry me under the waistband. I don't want another dress that looks OK, I want a great dress to WOW him after being away for a year!

The garden party will be one of two dresses. As it will be end June/early July and humid, I am thinking a lightweight silk. I have a nice floral silk chiffon and a nice rayon lining for comfort. The most probable dress will be this dress if I have enough fabric for the bias skirt layout:
New Look 6244

The other option is this Marfy.
Marfy 9450
It has some beautiful dart work at the waist that I think would be a challenge for me to sew but the results would be lovely! The only thing is that I think a print would hide the detailing. This would require me to shop for fabric ... not a bad thing, in itself! The challenge would be finding the right fabric in the right weight for this. It sure is fun thinking about summer dresses when the temps are falling outside!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Delays, delays ...

I would love to be able to say that I have the muslin cut out and sewn together, but I can't. I was temporarily stumped by part of the layout. As I said before, the sleeves are on the bias. Lisa very nicely sent me a note with some advice on bias sleeves, including the tidbit that I should lay the pieces out at right angles to each other to preserve the drape. She sent me info from Roberta Carr (I later found the same info at Pattern Review) that has some lovely information in it. But for some reason, I was having problems seeing how to place the bias pieces at right angles to each other and still have them both remain on the bias. It took reviewing the Marcy Tilton article in Threads and actually seeing that (hear the "DOH!" I muttered to myself?) the pieces are laid on a single layer of fabric. It is not the Front and the Back pieces that are at right angles, but the left front and the right front that are done so. Same with the back sleeve pieces. So, brian block is over and I can get cutting now ...

How did I get around the block when each time I read the note, and sketched I kept seeing the same thing? By ignoring the cutting table and then re-arranging part of my workshop to allow me to bring in a TV and DVD player. I also moved my tabel back against the wall to give me floorspace. Now I can do my Pilates and attempt my new Yoga workouts in my shop. The goal is to do a workout prior to any sewing work once each day. That way I can't avoid the workouts due to toy placement on the rec room floor by the kids. After all, what kind of mother makes her kids destroy the forts built in front of a TV they can't watch (due to no cable hook up ;)) when I can just not work out, right? So, now the TV and DVD is in the corner of my workshop. I can now listen as I work at night and do a workout in the morning before I do any sewing/cutting. The problem now is that I have to do some serious vaccuuming and then buy a new one of those little drawer units to hold all the zips, elastics, trims and such that were sitting on the floor in a pile. And I have, unfortunately, rediscovered the mending pile ... not that I will let that stop me on the coat! It must acclimatize to its new location, right?

I'll post a photo of the new layout once I finish cleaning it up a bit more. Another advantage of the new layout is that I get to look up and see the kids' artwork while I sew!

The buzzer has gone off, so I must go and punch down the dough as the monkeys (supported by the Pilot) have asked me to make some cinnamon buns for their breakfasts this week. Then, while they are rising again, I'll go to the store ...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Too many things to do ...

Well, the living room is painted and the furniture re-arranged and the sheers re-hung. Now all that is left is to buy the new drapes and hang the photos. The dining room has been stripped of the resident border and the walls patched. I have bought the new paint and am ready to roll with that room next ... but this weekend I fully intend to get moving on that coat! I recently found a TV on Craig's List that I intended to use for workouts in the basement, but seeing as I also have cable in the workshop, there is no reason I can't watch CSI while I cut and baste, right? So, tonight I will move the TV to my room and get at it! NO excuses (barring the kids of course ...)! The weather has been warm and rainy lately so the motivation to sew this has been minimal, but I want to avoid having to sew and freeze at the same time!

Tomorrow the kids have a day off. Monkey 1 is having a friend over for the day as both parents are working. Monkey 2 will be "helping" me paint the dining room while she isn't annoying the elder monkeys ... Then off to see "Happy Feet" the movie tomorrow afternoon. I might even get some sewing in ... she can work on her crazy quilt in the shop with me. (TV will be moved back by then, the monkeys have yet to discover that the cable actually works downstairs and I want to keep it that way!)

Thirty more minutes till monkey bed time ... they were supposed to tour a fire hall tonight with Scouts (we call the 5-8 year old Scouts Beavers up here in Canada). As I arrived, the trucks were rolling out on a multi vehicle accident. No tour this week ... lots of disappointed Beavers, but at least they got to see the trucks at work as they drove by the accident (another feeble attempt at finding silver linings in every cloud)!

Tomorrow I will be posting photos of the flannel version of the coat's outer layer. Wear your sunglasses ... it is a bright yellow!

Edited to add: Murphy's law has struck again! Little monkey has a bad belly ache and is in the living room on the sofa with the hot water bottle. No sewing tonight now. This seems to be becomming a regular Thursday night occurence lately. I wonder if it is something else. Dad is not coming home this weekend, maybe she is just reaching out as she misses him?

Monday, November 13, 2006

On Making Muslins

This is a bit of an extension of Ann's post over at the Sewing Divas. She highly recommends muslins. I do as well. I started making muslins only a year ago when I took a seminar from Peggy Sagers on pant fit. Then I made a few more in my attempts at perfecting her pattern for me. Then I made a couple of HP patterns. Now I am sold on them. I have a stash of muslin fabrics that are under my cutting table. I baste them together and often pin strips of fabric to them to add where I need to. This has saved my life a couple of times already. One thing I have to get away from, though, is the hope that I can make each muslin "wearable" and use not expensive fabric, but nice stuff all the same. I have to take that next step and realize that there is a difference between a muslin and trial garment. Kathleen Fasanella at The Fashion Incubator has a great article on this. She differs between the muslin, the prototype and the actual garment. I Have to get into a 3(ish) step mindset on garment sewing (assumes my standard inital paper alterations like FBA already done):

Step 1: muslin/cheap-o fabric for fitting only, basted together and original markings traced on;
Step 2: muslin 2 for tweaking to ensure above steps necessary and right;
Step 3: trial linings done if needed first, for final tweak
Step 4: final garment take a deep breath and cut the good stuff!

I am trying to follow this for my coat, although I am taking a bit of a short cut here. My muslin is actually some old flannel that my Mom passed on to me. Seeing as I want to interline the coat with some flannel, I am making my first go at this in the flannel. I am using the coat pieces, not the linings as there are more pieces to the wrong side of this coat than there are the outer layer! It is easier to fit the actual coat at this stage than figure out all the facings and the lining pieces! If the adjustments I made to the pattern at the paper stage are good enough, then I will start fooling around with the lining in a cheaper fabric as well. The flannel will be serged to the cashmere and then I will have the lining and the thermal layers done separately. The thermal layer I will sew last as I am considering making it a zip in layer. If I do that, I will follow the Threads article on winterizing your coat (Threads #121, pp. 46-51).

Interesting fact of the HP coat ... although the raglan sleeves look fairly loose fitted, they (and the sleeve lining) are actually cut on the bias. I have not seen that before. I can't wait to see how they look in the flannel. Question: when I cut and assemble the coat and the lining layers, should I let them hang overnight before I attach the cuffs (which are cut on grain)?

I am amazed I got that far this weekend as the Hubby and I managed to paint the living room and then rearrange the furniture and prep 3 of 4 walls in the dining room for painting as well. We inherited a border that is not my taste and it is everywhere in the ground floor of the house! They even bordered the interior of the coat closet in the foyer and the powder room. After living with it for a year, it is time to make this house mine and add some warm tones and get that border gone! This week will see the dining room done but for one wall. The hubby won't be home for 2 weeks, so I am leaving the wall with the china cabinet on it till ge hets back. I can't move it alone and I don't want the china and crystal out for 3 weeks on the table with the kids around! More time for my coat that way, right?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

November 11th

Today is November 11th. Remembrance Day in Canada, Veteran's Day in the US and Armistice Day in the UK. Whatever you call it, today is a day of mixed emotions. Pride, sorrow, solidarity. I am a woman who served but never fought. Two of three sisters can also say the same. My father did both, as did his father. My husband still serves and by the grace of God has not yet had to fight. But when he goes, I will be proud to stand up and say he does.

Thank you to those who have gone before and for those who have lost, thank you as well. For without them, we would have lost so much more.

Securitas ...

Friday, November 10, 2006

"Threads" and altering pants

I received the latest issue of Threads this week. In it there is an article on how to adjust the back of pants that are baggy. It speaks of how to alter pants that are already sewn or are RTW. I have a couple of pair that I Want to try this method out on. I'm going to post pix at all stages to see if this will really work as well as they say it does. Maybe I don't have to rush to cut out new pants after all ... this could be a way to salvage those pants that were "good enough" but that I couldn't fix.

In a nutshell, it says that you pin out the excess through those wodnerful fisheye darts and then transfer the excess out. Vertical darts go to the inseam and the horizontal ones go north to the waist seam. Query, does it matter which one you do first if you have to do both?

The two pair of pants I need to play with have different problems. The Jalie pant needs a horizontal dart to remove fullness there, but I knew that going in as I made these up just after a seminar with Peggy Sagers. I tried to see if the dart was necessary or not. Turns out it was. The other pair is a WOF pattern that I think needs major work int he back in the line of both darts. I will let you know how this works ...

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

HP Cherry Blossom Coat part 1

The project on the table right now is the HP Cherry Blossom Coat. I am in the pattern proofing stage as I do the preliminary fit alterations and some design changes as well. First off, I love the lines of this coat. Second, I wish I had read the description a bit closer. Than I would have realized that this has an edge to edge closing to it rather than an overlap for buttons. If I want to wear this in the Canadian autumn and spring weather, I need to change the closure. I either add a windflap and a zipper or I extend the CF to allow for buttons. So, I have added an extension of 2 1/2" to allow for buttons. This also means I have to adjust the shawl collar and bottom facings as well as the coat. I only have to adjust the bottom facing, now. Then comes a trial run. I will use the coat rather than the lining and facings for this simply due to the number of pieces involved. I will probably use flannel as I have that in the stash and if it works out, it will be an underlining.

I am going to use some lightweight cashmere wool melton in 2 colours for the coat. The body will be a medium denim blue and the contrast will be in chocolate brown. I found both at Wazoodle a while ago. This has been aging in my stash for long enough time to sew it up before it gets too cold to wear it. For a lining, I am going to use some silk charmeuse in a nice navy that I adopted from Ressy, the Evil Fabric Queen. This will be the most lux item in my wardrobe other than my beaded silk formal seen here on Pattern Review. I figure every housewife needs to have some silk and cashmere in her wardrobe, right? I found these buttons at Darrell Thomas Textiles, a local fabric boutique that I just love! Whenever I want to fondle luscious silks, wools or cashmere, I go see Darrell! And he teaches, too! That is for another blog entry, though ...

Commercial Embroidery

I was over at The Stitchery this morning for quick pass by before I took the monkeys to school. MB has a nice little post about doing custom embroidery on shirt pockets. WITHOUT taking the pocket off. First off, I assumed that the only way to do was to take the pocket off. Second, I had not really thought of how much you have to consider in designing the final product. It's not as if you can do a test run, right?

I see how Gigi has made a business out of having a room of custom machines and I often wonder if it would be worth it to buy one or even two machines and set myself up in business. Of course, this would have to wait until the DH retires ... I am not sure how those machines would hold up to one military move, let alone 2 or 3 left till he retires! things to ponder, how many do you need to make it worth your while? Where do you start? Hats? T shirts and sweatshirts? Are smaller runs (thinking 20 or less) worth doing? My son's Scouts would love custom T's but can't afford them at large commercial prices. Would a small business like MB's or (maybe mine) be able to balance the line between affordability and profit? I am not sure it could ...

Oh well, at least I have a few years more to ponder this before I have to decide. Pilot man has at least 5 more years left before he hangs up his uniform. And let's not get into the discussion about where we will settle down after. That is for another day, I think! That battle still rages on ...

Monday, November 06, 2006

Let's get this started ..

Well, I have done it! I have finally joined the online blog world. I am not sure how much I will post, but at least I can say that I have tried, right? I am still playing with the format of my blog.

I must say that I like the lighthouse. As I am originally from the East Coast of Canada, lightouses have a special place in my heart. They remind me of my family's home and keeps me firmly grounded. They are such a powerful symbol ... a beacon of light in the dark; a steady reminder that we are not alone as we drift on the sea of life.

I am off to figure out how to do a few more things on this site and then will check back in tomorrow ...