Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Magazine Musings ...

It is interesting to see that Taunton Press has decided to cease publication of it's latest offering, "Sew Stylish". With the website up at the same time, I was watching to see how much content would be duplicated in the website. As I saw the site expand to include so many contributors, I began to wonder if it would become the main focus of the Sew Stylish staff. After all, the internet is the fastest medium in which to spread a message. It is also, so the "experts" say, the primary medium for the younger generation. It also doesn't require printing presses and a staff to handle subscriptions and can be advertising driven. So, it is not a surprise that the online version is taking over. Response time is so much faster online. Nothing like instant gratification in publishing!

The comments on the demise of the mag puzzle me, I must admit. I picked up a couple of issues to compare to Threads (to which I suscribe). While there were some articles that were specific to SS, I found the majority to have been copied from Threads (I did like the Formalwear themed issue, however, as it was a useful beginning reference for sewing formalwear). So, in light of this, I wonder why so many people said they preferred SS to Threads? Is it a question of layout? Of strictly article content (this would be puzzling considering the twinning of some of the content)? I would really like to know ... Anybody care to enlighten me with their views? I would love to discuss this ...

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Pant foundation

Last night saw me start the pant foundation for the second time. Technically, it was the third time, but I figure the almost complete erasure of the first draft to be a drastic editing, not a re-start. The instructions are fairly straightforward, but I seem to have hit a stumbling block for a while on one step, but I think I have made it past that hurdle alright. I'll find out for sure when I get to the muslin stage!

The foundation (the portion of the pant above the crotch line) is formed by measuring your ankle to waist height and using that as a centre line from which you draft the front and back patterns. You then mark the crotch point, the hip point and the waist points on this line and then extend perpendicular lines according to the amount stated in the instructions. The result is a rectangle shape on each side of the centre line. The problem I have been having seems to lie in the formulas used to draw these lines. Whenever I got to the point of drawing in the darts and extensions, the back numbers never seemed to work out. The numbers would have me extending into the front piece ... so I read it through again and discovered a little note that said to decrease the dart intake by 1/4" if the waist measurement met up with the centre line. Seeing as my measurement bypassed the line, I just marked the side seamline 1/4" in from centre. We'll see how that works out when I muslin it up.

Tonight, I draft the leg extensions ... I think I will update later on with photos to better explain. This won't make sense to those of you who have not done this before. IT barely makes sense to me

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Sewing Man Shirts

I have written before of my quest for the perfect fitting shirt for the muscle bound Pilot. Today it takes a quirky side route ... His new position allows him to wear civilian clothes on Fridays. Due to the July Temps, he wanted a short sleeved shirt really quickly for TOMORROW. Turns out the majority of the shirts in his portion of the Closet are POLY and he doesn't like them in hot weather. So, prior to him going shopping for a new shirt (Which we all know won't fit him anyway!), I made him try on the shirts already there that were LS, in the hope that I could cut one down sleeve wise. He has two striped shirts hanging, one is a Hathaway, I am NOT cutting that one until it wears out and can be used as a pattern! Then, in the midst of other shirts, there is the KS shirt I made about 2 years ago. "Try it on", I asked. What was too large then, now FITS!! That is what one full year of daily gym workouts to relieve stress will do ... Had I known that the old pattern would now fit, I would not have had to go bother Darrell. Not that that is a bad thing ...

Except for the sleeves, which are now too short to wear. So, that shirt is now off to the cutting table to become a short sleeved shirt. That means that the second shirt, ageing down in the Shop can be finished and worn for Fridays as well. I sense a menswear binge coming ... as soon as we can agree on fabrics, that is!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Pant Pattern Theory

Before heading to the drafting table, I did some more reading last night. The process of drafting pants is very mathematically. Why this surprised me, I don't know. When I first learned how to do an FBA, it was a similar process. I cut and spread according to measured amounts. In altering my existing pant patterns, it was adjusting by eye all the time. I find that I like the math approach better. It just fits my brain better. Whether or not it will fit my body better, I will find out soon enough, I suppose! I have a pattern printed off from Pattern Maker that I have yet to tape together and sew up. I think I will sew that one up after I have the self drafted pattern done to compare. I have not seen that one reviewed before, so it will be interesting to compare the two. The information that follows is taken from the Helen Joseph Armstrong book Patternmaking for Fashion Design, 4th edition. I am trying not to copy it wholesale, but I do think that for those of you who have not self drafted a pant pattern before, (like me) some of the information behind the process interesting and maybe even helpful.

The intial idea of drafting my own pattern from scratch was quite daunting. How would I handle the shaping of the pieces? How do I determine the crotch curve? How would I draw it? Once I realized that the whole pattern's shape grows as you use the measurements, it seemed easier. The shape starts with a vertical line with a number of horizontal points marked on it according to your measurements. These points are then extended to horizontal lines whose lengths are determined by your measurements and some minor math (all of which is easily diagrammed in the Armstrong book). The curve is also drawn this same way.

I had initially intended to start with the culottes, but closer reading revealed that culottes are based on an A Line skirt with a crotch extension added. Not what I want right now. While the thought of drafting a skirt block also appeals to me, my project this summer is to perfect the pant! So, which one to choose first? Armstrong's trouser pattern is the next logical place to start. The slack is based on the trouser pattern, but my real goal is a nice city short/pedal pusher as an end product. But first I have to draft the trouser, so I guess I will end up with both in muslins!

My time at the table is limited this weekend as I promised Monkey Girl that the next thing off the table is her new bathrobe/housecoat. I am using this cute Simplicity 4767 for her. I made her some PJ's last winter. She loved them but decided that the absence of fabric on her neckline was too chilly for winter temps, so this is now a summer PJ pattern. I cut the robe out of a nice soft yellow Minky that I found at Wal Mart last year for a great price just for this purpose. And I had just enough to sew this up. From now on, I go for my standard yardages for fudge factor. I had hoped to cut the robe longer to allow for the inevitable growth spurt that follows each sewing session for her! Not a chance ... although, there was probably enough last year when I first bought it ... It is all cut out and once I re-thread the serger with lighter threads, I will finish the edges first as it is very messy.

I aim to have it finished for tonight's bath routine, but I do have some shopping to do this afternoon. A coursemate of the Pilot is coming tomorrow with his family. When we were in Toronto, I was given a crash course in Pakistani cooking at his home. Tomorrow I have to recreate what I learned. Tomorrow I get to make Biryani, a wonderful spiced meat and rice dish that is spicy and oh so yummy! To top it off I plan on making a traditional dessert as well. As the family is Muslim, I have to get my meat from a store that stocks Halal meats. No biggy ... I absolutely LOVE going into ethnic grocers ... the smells are divine and I always get new recipes and techniques to add to the Kitchen. I have my list and am waiting for Pilot and Hamster Boy to get back from Rugby. After some lunch and some other errands, we are off to get groceries! I may make the meat tonight and then let it sit in the sauce so that all I have to do is the rice tomorrow.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Next in line ...

Now that Bollywood is finished, I am ready for the next major project. Aside from the spattering of kid sewing and finishing that shirt for the Pilot, I am determined to draft a pant pattern from scratch. Last year I bought Helen Joseph Armstrong's pattern drafting book and have been dutifully skimming it for a year. Time to put measuring tape to body and then pencil to paper!

I figure the amount of time I spend altering patterns can be better put to use drafting my own from scratch. I don't have software and am not sure I want it as I love handling patterns! I can much easier see how to change patterns to reflect the styles I want since I started with this book. And, since the budget may not allow me to take the courses I want this fall, I think I will start with this for now and then see whether or not I need to pay tuition for what I want to do. Once I have mine done, I have convinced a friend to let me do her a pair as well. This will give me experience and her new clothes as she drops her post baby weight. Win win I say!

So, tonight I have the Pilot take that measuring tape to me and then I will start the process. Armstrong's book has foundations for culottes, pants, trousers and jeans. I think I will start with the culottes first as they are fuller and I have a nice stash cotton that would be perfect for summer wear! Then I will go for the pants (only cut to short length).

I have yet to see a comprehensive review of this process anywhere, so I intend this series to be as detailed as I can make it without copyright problems. In other words, I will take photos but I won't type out the entire process. I will, though, post some of the math that I found interesting. To draft your pattern, you start with your hip and waist measurements and then manipulate those to get your crotch extensions, depth and so on. But that will be tomorrow's entry, so I will leave you all in suspense until then!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Bollywood Bash ...

Well, we are home! The graduation is over and was wonderful! The Pilot managed to turn it into a second honeymoon by booking us a room in the fancy hotel we spent the original honeymoon in as well as our first anniversary. This was all done without my knowledge, so when I arrived with my bags, he says with a grin, "Don't unpack too much ... we're not staying long". What a night! The restaurant had a wonderful view of Lake Ontario and the city as it revolved, giving us the full view of the sunset over the horizon. Perfectly romantic! Even with all the others at the table. We all were very quiet as we sat with our spouses and watched the sun go down. It has been a long 10 months, even for those who were lucky enough to be with their families the whole time. For those of you who put up with my private and public rants over the past year, thanks for putting up with me. Your kind words of patience often helped me get through this single parent thing. Now I just need to adjust to him still being here all the time!

I almost called this post "The Eagle Has landed ... in Bollywood" but thought better of it. It just isn't me ... but almost! The dress was a huge success. The Pilot had spoken about the dress (All he knew was that it was silk, no more info allowed) to the women on course who wanted to know what was being worn so that they could judge what to wear themselves. He was no help to them, but the rampant curiousity had me almost swarmed when we arrived. Those who knew I had made the dress were amazed and were asking permission to touch the fabric. Those who didn't know, soon found out as the word spread throughout the wives. I even had a Stacy London moment as the wife of a US Air Force officer came up and said "SHUT UP! You did NOT make that dress! By. YOUR. SELF! Tell me you do this for a living and where because I want you to make me something! WHERE DID YOU GET THAT FABRIC!!!!!" Between that reaction and the two German Officer's wives who both gave great compliments (one wanted to know which boutique I shop at that sells matching shoes!), my ego got quite the boost that night ... even before the wine started to flow!

So, credit where credit is due: To Darrell, thanks for the fabrics and the confidence. We'll talk more when/if that US wife comes up for a fitting! To MB, thanks for all the encouragement and advice! Ells, your knowledge, as always, is a comfort when I ask for help. Enough small talk ... what you really want is to see the dress, right? So, here it is after the night of dancing and socializing! I did end up hand stitching a modesty panel in the day before I left, but I think that it still works ...

The gathering shifted a bit I think when I stitched the bodice to the waist panel, so I am not 100% with the way the bodice lies, especially in the centre panels of the front. I had some concern about the fabric and the pattern, but in the end, it turned out OK. The last bit of hindsight self-criticism? I think I should have NOT added the fullness to the bodice. To my mind, it really emphasizes the Twins. So, should I actually do this as a summer dress, there will be no additional fullness on top. Too bad the Pilot couldn't get the shoes in the shot ... he is learning how to use his new digi cam. Finally, he joins the rest of us in this century! Suffice it to say that I found a pair of strappy leather sandals in a beautiful bronze that actually matched the contrast on the dress and I found them at Sears of all places! Fate, my friends, it had to be fate!

Well, I am off to get supper going for the restless kidlings. Iffy weather and friends being away has made them restless ... time to go shopping, I think! It always makes me feel better!