Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pattern Weights and Storage Bag

I am still working on the shoulder pads for the 1952 dress.  Of course, I used the rotary cutter when I cut them out which made me realize that I could use some small, flexible, low-height pattern weights.  My first thought was to make weights about the size of a roll of pennies.  I cut the fabric (the leftovers from my jean jacket) 3” wide and 6” long; folded the fabric in half and sewed ¼” seams, leaving one end open.  A chopstick was handy to help turn the fabric.
Filling the fabric tubes with BBs was easy.  I couldn’t find my kitchen funnel, which was probably too big anyway.  I ended up borrowing a silicone mini-muffin cup from my bento supplies.  It worked great and had I located my funnel, I would have still used the little muffin cup. By the way, it took 4 ounces of BBs to fill the fabric tubes. I didn’t fill them to the top as I wanted the finished weights to have flexibility; also, it left room to sew them closed without the machine needle hitting a BB.
I made some larger weights, too.  For those, I cut the fabric 4” by 11”, using ½” seam allowances.  They were filled with 12 ounces of BBs.
As always, storing my sewing items in this little house is a challenge.  So, while I am sewing them I am already planning where they are going to go. None of my available boxes or tins were the right shape or size. However, there was a large piece of the fabric left so I thought I could make some type of pouch for the weights.  For a pattern, I chose view C of Simplicity 9949 as it was about the right size.  I have had this pattern for years but it is still on the Simplicity website.  I modified the pattern by adding five inches to the bag.  The outer fabric was block fused with heavy interfacing and handles were attached once the bag was finished.
Because I didn’t know where I was heading when I started this project, I was happy to use scraps.  The bag is sturdy enough for the weights, but when making the next one, I will give it more structure by using some Timtex, template plastic, or something similar.
I think the weights would be wonderful made up using embroidered ribbons (reinforced with fusible interfacing) instead of fabric.  Wouldn’t they be a pleasure to use?  Also, the bag could be embellished with some of the same ribbon and/or quilted.  Leather for both the weights and the bag is appealing, too.

Well, I’m not placing an online order for leather scraps or embroidered ribbons anytime soon.  I want to see how well these work and what other changes, if any, need to be made. Prototype. Yep. That’s it.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Bernina My Label Pants – Fitting Evolution

While searching for a belt buckle for the 1952 dress, I took a departure from sewing on it. I want the dress to have ¾ length sleeves and I am still considering how the bottom of the sleeves should be styled. Do I want to use the 4” zippers? Will they be necessary? A cuff? I don’t know….

Last week, I visited several thrift stores and came away without a buckle. I haven’t been anymore successful with online shopping. I did find a vendor that sells buckles you cover with your fashion fabric. Wouldn't that be ideal for this dress? The price of the buckle is a reasonable $2.25. Shipping, however, is $10.25. Somehow, I find that offensive. I mean, the little buckle would fit into a standard letter-sized envelope. $10.25 - really?
Now, I haven’t been idle while figuring out the buckle thing.  I’ve pulled together the other items for the dress and have returned to my abandoned My Label pants pattern. I had thought my fitting issue was the crotch length. Remember the old Gap pants that I had deconstructed a few weeks ago?  Well, I took those pieces and compared them to my pattern.  Other than the waist, they were surprisingly similar.

My previous My Label pants attempts had used muslin-weight fabric.  It wasn’t pretty nor did it reflect what was actually going on with the pattern. This time, I decided to use a heavier fabric.  I had a green cotton (and silk?) fabric that I had ruined by drying it in a too hot dryer with a fabric softener sheet.  I had tried, but failed, to salvage the fabric by treating and rewashing it.  The stains would not come out and so it became test fabric.
As the Gap pieces predicted, the crotch length was just fine though the waist was excessively big.  Other than the crazy waist, the pants fit me better than any others I have purchased or sewn.  The measurement used is my actual waist measurement, so I don’t understand why it is so large.  Maybe I don’t have the various height measurements entered correctly.  Anyway, back to the software for another round...

Knowing that everything else fit, I kept adjusting the waist and printing new waistbands. Finally, I got one that fit my mid-section and I printed out the new pattern. I am in the process of sewing the pants using some leftover fabric.

One thing I have learned about printing the My Label pattern pieces is that it is much easier to individually print the various garment pieces instead of all of them at once. My worktable is small and taping individual pieces means there is less paper hanging over the edge pulling the taped sheets down while trying to line up the cross marks. It does use a few more sheets of paper but not as many expletives are required.  A fair trade in my opinion.
Please note the rotary cutter and tiny cutting mat. This is a crafty mat that I have had for many years.  I want to get a large mat but my cutting table folds up when not in use and pretends to be a desk.  The mat would have to be stored and I don’t have anywhere to stash it.  Under my bed? No, I think that would just be bad feng shui.  So, until I work that out, I will just slide the little mat around.  Actually, it is faster and cleaner than using scissors.

Okay, I’m gonna get the pants fitting dealt with and the 1952 dress won’t take long to finish – with or without a buckle.  And, after that I think I want to sew another jacket. My Label?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The 1952 Dress - Progress

I’ve been working on the 1952 dress.  The side seam zipper is next and I suppose I should create the shoulder pads before fitting the sleeves.  The shoulder pads are constructed from crinoline interfacing and thin layers cotton batting.  What I will actually end up using depends on what I have here. Likely, it would be less costly to purchase ready-made shoulder pads but I want to try making them.
I skipped the bound buttonholes and the ribbon seam binding. The seams were serger finished. I hadn’t considered putting bound buttonholes into a dress before. But, after thinking about it, they would be a good-looking detail.

I still haven’t decided what sleeve style to use. Also, I have been looking for a belt buckle and so far, they are either too large or the wrong material/color. Maybe I should start looking at RTW belts (hmmm, thrift store?) for an appropriate buckle.
The good thing is that there isn’t a deadline for completion. I merely saw the pattern in the file and, on impulse, decided I wanted to make it. So, no pressure other than I would like to have it hanging in the closet instead of on the dress form!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Jean Jacket – McCall’s 5191

For me, sewing this jean jacket was like reading a novel that you just can’t put down.  I had to keep going until it was finished.  It was such a trouble-free project and everything fit together without any effort – even inserting the sleeves.  No basting, no easing required.  Painless.

The straight seams are perfect for my no-waist body type.  The fit is relaxed and comfortable.  I shortened the sleeves by two inches and deviated from the instructions by placing twill tape into the shoulder seams and I attached the back upper collar (no back neck facing) with machine stitching instead of hand stitching.
For interfacing, I used a light/mid-weight fusible Pellon.  It was interfacing that I have had forever and have repeatedly rejected almost to the point of pitching it.  It worked really well with this mystery fabric.  The buttons came from the stash.

I am looking forward to sewing this pattern again in denim.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Planning the 1952 Dress

I am still pulling the pieces together for the 1952 dress.  I went to another fabric store and it had a much better selection of buttons.  There were several that would work with the basketweave fabric.  However, most were too heavy and dry-clean only.  I decided on these twinkly (and washable!) ones.

I was surprised that the store actually had 4” zippers.  I have never had a reason before to seek out such short zippers and I really bought them out of curiosity.  Anyway, I’m prepared if I want the dress to have long sleeves.

No luck yet in finding a dressy black belt buckle. Nor do I have any shoulder pads in the stash.  I think I am going to sew them.  It doesn’t look like it would be difficult and I haven’t ever made shoulder pads before. So, why not?
In the meantime, I have cut out a jean jacket, McCall’s 5191.  This a Palmer/Pletsch Classic Fit pattern and is out of print.  The fabric is a Wal-Mart mystery fabric that was purchased a year or so ago when Wal-Mart still sold fabric.  If the jacket fits and is comfortable, I’ll sew it again in denim.  This really is a trial run to see if I like the style.  If I don’t, I do have another jean jacket pattern, McCall’s 5860, that I can use instead.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

McCall's 8841 -The 1952 Dress

Well, other than being too long, it looks like it will fit.  Though you can't see it, the skirt nearly reaches the floor. To begin, I’m going to cut the skirt pieces several inches shorter.
The fabric I chose is a bright black basketweave that drapes and is ample enough for the long-sleeved version.  I bought it several months ago from Fabric Mart and it survived the washer and dryer.
There are three sleeves for this dress: short cuffed, cape and long.  The long sleeve has three small elbow darts and closes at the wrist with a zipper. Since the sleeve decision is still up in the air, I will wait to cut them out until the dress is further along.
An oddity (to me, at least) is the option of inserting a placket, instead of a zipper, into the side opening.  Just so you know, it isn’t important to me to utilize 1952 techniques on this dress.  I will be using my serger, fusible interfacing, and anything else that makes things easier.
I need to find three sparkly black buttons and a little belt buckle for this dress.  Today, I visited the fabric store. The sparkly black button selection was sad. I exited without buttons and/or a buckle.  I did, however, come out with four $.99 patterns.  The trip wasn’t a total waste of fossil fuel.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Simplicity 4095, View B

Just like before, I went to select fabric for the McCall’s vintage dress and cotton knit fabric was waiting for me instead.  Today, it was the leftovers of a t-shirt made back in February.
This t-shirt is Simplicity 4095, view B.  The pattern is out of print but still available on the Simplicity website.  I cut a size 20W, added one inch to the hem but didn't shorten the sleeves.  Normally, I have to shorten the sleeve length.
Since this t-shirt fits, I may try the other one included with this pattern. It is, however, a mock wrap. And, as you know, I have not been successful with mock wraps.

Okay.  Onward.  The 1952 dress pattern awaits.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Tammyriffic Twinset

In looking through my fabrics for something to use for the vintage McCall’s dress, I came across the last piece of the heavy cotton jersey knit from  This fabric did so well on the coverstitch that I was eager to sew with it again.
For my twinset, I chose the tank from Ottobre Woman 2/2007.  I cut a size 50 and didn’t bother to remove the seam allowance at the neck edge.

The cardigan is Simplicity 2474, a Threads Magazine Collection pattern. I cut a size 20 and didn't alter the hem or sleeve lengths. Usually, I have to shorten sleeve lengths an inch or two. Oh, I did cut the side seams and the underarm sleeve seams at size 22 as this fabric isn’t as stretchy as other knits. I followed the instructions and even sewed the sleeves in the round. They went in easily and I will do it that way next time as I think they hang better.
Clear elastic was sewn into the shoulder seams of both the tank and the cardigan. It wouldn’t hurt to sew it into the band seam on the next cardigan.

I love this twin set and the fact that it went together so quickly. I especially liked that no buttonholes were necessary!

The vintage McCall’s dress has a long-sleeved version that isn’t shown on the envelope. Hmmm….that sounds better for Fall/Winter, don’t you think?