Wednesday, 30 October 2013

And the winner is ...

... Joanna Kostrzewa! Please let me know your postal address at thewallinna @ gmail and I'll send you the book!

Saturday, 26 October 2013

A few announcements and a giveaway

1. Leisa has a few things to say about quilting! Please check her blog for more additional information related to our LFJ sew-along!

2. I've decided to submit my Art Deco Maxi dress by Ralph Pink to Project Sewn. If you like the dress, can you please vote for it?

3. Next Monday, my Etsy shop will be closed indefinitely. Since I sourced the notions from the Japanese producers in Japan, I maintain low prices. But after I move to Europe, I am afraid, I'd have to raise them taking into account shipping from Japan and VAT (I would buy in large quantities). So at this stage, I decided to close the shop down. But if you have any thoughts or if you think that you would buy these products for a higher price, don't hesitate to share with me and I might reconsider my decision.

Meanwhile, I've got some remaining stock of Chakoner, some very fine tracing chalks! Besides white Chakoner, there are a couple of red and blue markers.

I also have some red, blue and green cotton basting thread! If you are participating in our sew-along, it might become very useful!

4. I am giving away the Colette sewing handbook. It's been sitting on my bookshelf forever. Two patterns have been used - the Pastille dress the Macaron skirt - but none of the sewing attempts was successful. It's just not a style which I would wear so I am more than happy to give this book away. To enter the giveaway, leave a comment and like my FB page.

The giveaway will close and the winner announced next Wednesday, October 30th!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Sew-along Part III: Quilting

Last week Leisa left us with lots of information about cutting the fabric and lining, and a very important rule: Never Forget about the Grain! Today I will show you how to quilt the lining to the fashion fabric but also how to avoid some of the stupid mistakes which I've made.

But before I officially begin, I apologize for my conversion into Imperial units. Let's face it - my inches suck...

They say that a wise man learns from the mistakes of other, a stupid man learns from his own. So I am this stupid man. Do you remember that I chose to work with the "boxy" jacket to which I later introduced a princess seam and darts at the back? A few people asked me why I did not pick a pattern with a princess seam already integrated into the design. Well, my pattern was chosen on a whim and now I have to pay for the silly mistakes: I have to quilt through the darts but also decide what techniques to use to make them less visible from the outside.

First, let talk about the bulkiness. The wool I am working with is a medium-weight fabric. But the double layer created by a dart, increases its volume and therefore it becomes visible. There are two solutions which I know: cut a dart open or create a balanced dart. Or, alternatively, do nothing at all. In my case, the jacket has two pairs of darts: small shoulder darts and bust darts. After considering all pros and cons, I reached the following decision:

* to cut the back darts open because there are rather short and thin and the bulk on my rounded shoulders would be visible; besides, the fabric on my back sits closer to my body which also makes the darts visible;

*to leave the bust darts as they are because I will keep the jacket opened all the time and they won't be noticeable

From the photos you can see that I cut the dart open leaving approximately 7mm. Then I used a blanket stitch along the raw edges to prevent fabric from fraying. After pressing the darts open, I was done with my back darts!

After reading Leisa's blog post, you should have cut your fashion fabric, thread trace each pattern piece and overlaid it with the lining.

To quilt, you will need: a walking foot, a piece of chalk, a ruler, a few spools of matching thread, a nice movie and lots of patience!

Before you start quilting, it's better to make tests on scraps of fabric in order to get the right tension but also to choose the appropriate colours to match both the fabric and lining. For instance, for my yellow jacket I used two different colours: yellow to match the fashion fabric, and green to match the lining. That may also be the case for your jacket, or not. And do not forget to try different tensions before you start quilting the jacket!

Why do we need to quilt? We do it for a couple of reasons:

*  to reinforce loosely woven tweed and give the jacket more durability

* to keep the lining in place and give a better shape to the jacket

Unfold you pattern pieces and, if you have not done so already, remove the muslin pieces and re-pin the fashion fabric to the lining. Now you need to decide on the placement of your quilting and mark it.

If you fabric's fibers are very loose, it's always better to go for closer quilting lines, but for tighter fabric you should allow more space. Also pay attention to the pattern on your fabric. You can use the lines on the fabric as guides for the quilting lines. In my case, I decided to follow the shape of the chevrons on the fashion fabric.

Test swatches
I learnt from Susan that the quilting should begin and end approximately one inch/2.5cm from the edges of each garment section.  At the bottom edge of the jacket and the sleeves, though, stop the quilting approximately 2” inches/5cm from the edge. 

My quilting lines stop 2.5cm/1" inch from the side edges, 3cm/1.1" inches from the top and 5cm/2" inches from the hem and the bottom part of the sleeves. After marking each piece with chalk to define the quilting borders, this is how each piece looks like:

It's now time to decide on the spacing between quilting lines. Depending on the weave, your quilting lines can be spaced between 2.5cm - 3cm/1" inch - 1.1" inches. For my previous jacket I alternated the quilting lines 2cm and 3cm/ 0.7" inch - 1.1" inches. You can see this clearly from the pictures here.

You can decide to make these borders further away from the edges but under no circumstances nearer. Sometimes during fitting, you might need to change the length of the stitching lines. Imagine that you need to remove 1cm/ 0.3" inch. In this case, hang-sewing the lining may be quite difficult because you have so little fabric to work with, and so you may find that you're better off unpick a few centimetres of quilting.

On my fabric, I measured the distance between the tops of the chevrons, which made 3.5cm/ 1.3" inches. Without being too tightly woven nor very loose, I came to the conclution that quilting through each chevron line was perfect!

Please remember that there is no definite rule on how to quilt! Some common sense and the pattern of your fabric will guide you to find the best solution!

Using a wide stitching line ( I would suggest 3mm) with the fashion fabric facing up, start quilting!

Do not panic and be surprised that some of your lines will be very short! If you work with a two or a three piece sleeve you might end up with only one line as well! For example, it did not make any sense for me to follow the chevron lines on the under-sleeve of my jacket because this piece is very small. So I quilted only one line.

As you quilt, you should not backtack! Once you've finished quilting all of your jacket pieces, put on your favourite movie or TV show or whatever makes you happy: it's time to tie the knots! Using a needle or pin pull, up each pair of threads between the fashion fabric and the lining and knot them, leaving a 1-1.5cm/ 0.3" - 0.6" inch trail.

 I use a triple knot but others might prefer only a double knot.

Alternatively, you can leave the tails without making knots at the hem and the bottom of the sleeves for when you'll hand-stitch the lining.

When you finish tying the knots, gently bring the lining towards the centre of each piece and pin it in preparation for the next step - basting the pieces together!

Don't forget to sign up for our Flickr group! We are already 48 members! You can also visit my Facebook page where I post additional photos and share sewing-related info.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

I've found my perfect pattern designer!

Let me introduce you to Ralph Pink! I am more than enamored with his patterns; I am dying to make all of them. His patterns are modern, edgy, technically challenging and just perfectly drafted and put together! In fact, he used to work in a couture house but a few years ago launched his own brand of clothes and patterns.

For some time, I thought that Named patterns would occupy a special place in my heart, but as much as I like their design I completely dislike working with their patterns. Such a shame, because the girls have great aesthetics !

About this Maxi Dress: I purchased the pattern six months ago but because of the hot weather, I was not inspired to make it. And then the first crisp autumn mornings combined with having to pack my fabric stash into boxes were the perfect succession of events: I dug out this beautiful panel silk jersey from Tessuti Fabrics and it screamed to be made into Ralph Pink's maxi dress.

The pattern is very beautifully drafted: bust darts and four back darts for the shaping, the maxi skirt with the slit in front and the intriguing cut out on the back. All these ingredients create a perfect style for a new me :-) I am about to start a new page in my life and I feel the urge for drastic changes! Why not a big revision of my personal style and wardrobe? Having got rid of 60% of my clothes before packing, I am determined to sew a brand new wardrobe to fit my evolution as a seamstress but also as a woman.

Ralph Pink offers only digital patterns and they come in multiple sizes. When purchasing a pattern, you can download a file containing a separate PDF for each size in both A4 and full formats. 

There is a separate document with instructions which without being overwhelming, contain just the right amount of information and pictures necessary to execute a project properly.

The instructions for the dress suggested to add a lining to create a seamless effect but I omitted it because the fabric would have been impossible to match. I just have to be careful to wear the proper undergarments. 

I had some troubles sewing this fabric, especially stitching the cutout and the neckline. Grrrrrrrr ...The latter has stretched a little bit even though I used the walking foot and tried to be very careful with not pull the fabric. Well, I hope to be better with the next Maxi Dress!

And, of course, you can see a tiny bit of my bra!

Needles to say, I am so looking forward to sewing more garments from Ralph Pink!

These three garments are in the queue: a cropped jacket, a bustier blouse and a cocoon jacket

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Sew-along Part II: Cutting the fashion fabric

Leisa posted the second part of our sew-along which you can read here. This post has more than you expected:

1)     MUSLINS - removing seams or using a pattern that don't include them.
2)    SLEEVES - one piece to two and two to three
3)    UNDERLININGS - pros and cons
4)    CUTTING THE FASHION FABRIC - laying out, pining and cutting
5)     REINFORCING - organza for shoulders 
5)    THREAD TRACING - why silk?
6)    LINING - laying out, pining and cutting

Can I call you Leisa - Sewing Encyclopedia? 

Monday, 7 October 2013

Sew-along Part I: Muslin

Why do we need a muslin?

I hope that all of those who participate in the sew-along know the importance of a muslin. It's a replica of the future garment to which you'll be able to make all necessary adjustments and tweaks. Your muslin will help you modify and play around with your initial idea of the jacket you were dreaming of for so long!

Tracing the muslin

For our muslin, we will be focusing on stitching lines, and the clearer they are the better. So first thing, you need to trace nicely your pattern. If you took Susan's Craftsy class The Couture Dress , you will have seen the kind of tracing paper she used. These are big ( 66cm x 99cm/ 26" x 39") pieces of wax tracing paper which leave very beautiful marks on your muslin. You can buy this paper on Richard the Thread website but they have a minimum order of $35 which equates to 3 sets of tracing paper. You might find it expensive, but it is definitely a good investment. One year after I purchased it, I am still using one sheet of each (mainly red and white) and I have to tell you that I do trace a lot. For each garment I make I probably trace 2 muslins on average, sometimes more. So if you think about a long term investment and high quality product, definitely buy this!

It's also important to transfer all markings onto your muslin including grain lines, waist lines, pocket placement (if there are any). There is no need to mark notches, though.

Leisa told me that A Fashionable Stitch also sells wax paper as well as Oliver S in case you don't want to commit to a $35 purchase. Also, both New York Mood and Pacific Trimming keep a significant stock in their shops.

Cutting the muslin

It is very important to leave large seam allowances on your muslin. When fitting it, you might add significant changes requiring more fabric that you have planned for in the beginning. For instance, you might want to add more length to your jacket.

Putting the muslin together

Again, if you know Susan's Craftsy lesson then you'll know the way she recommends to put it together. If not, I will explain.

Once your muslin is traced and all the markings are transferred, use the longest stitch to baste all the stitching lines (3.5 - 4) and all markings, including darts: the stitching lines are going to be your main reference. You need to thread-trace for a few reasons, one of which is to transfer the information on both sides of the muslin. Having each of your pieces thread-traced helps you to see and feel it from either side.

It's recommended that each thread-traced line is independent. It is also very important to write pattern pieces' names on your muslin and specify whether it's the left or right piece. If a piece is confusing and can look like both top and bottom, also indicate this on the muslin. I did this mistake on my couture sewing class with Susan and I suffered.

There is another way to put a muslin together, which I personally prefer to Susan's and which I use for my LFJ: let's call it industrial. This method is much faster and in most cases as efficient as the couture one. It won't make a big difference for our jacket because the jacket will sit rather loosely verses an evening gown, but also because we will do another fitting of the garment once it's quilted. So all of the necessary final tweaks and adjustments can be made then.

Fitting the muslin

I won't attempt to list all of the possible issues that might come our of your fitting, but I can recommend you a few great sources to help you do a good job:

Fitting and Pattern Alternation: this books describes any possible pattern alteration you can think of. It cost a little bit of money, but with this book you won't need anything else. It will quickly become your go-to fitting guide.

Threads Magazine offers a series of articles about fitting, some of which will be helpful for our little jacket: bust, torso, arms.

There are a couple of Craftsy lessons dedicated to fitting: Sew the Perfect Fit, Fast-Track Fitting. Personally, I have not tired them, but if you have and would like to share with us how they are, please go ahead!

Transferring changes onto your muslin

To mark all possible alteration, I use a soft-tip pen or marker. On the photos below, I'll show you my alteration and how I dealt with them.

I chose to work with a Burda pattern #109 from 03/2012: no princess seams and two-piece sleeve.

After the first fitting, I realized that the "boxiness" of this pattern does not suit my body shape. So I proceeded with my usual alterations: a sway back adjustment and more rounded shoulders. I ended up creating a princess seam and adding little darts on the shoulders. I also thought that adding a bit of length will look more flattering on me.

Adding a princess seam

Adding a shoulder dart
On the front, I also added my usual SBA by creating an additional dart which I will combine with the one which existed on the original pattern to create one bigger dart.

After I marked all necessary alterations with a soft-tip pen, this is what I have.

To transfer my alternations to the pattern pieces, I ripped my muslin apart and overlaid each piece requiring an alteration with the paper pattern. Then, using a tracing wheel with metal points (it's called "roulette" in Japanese but I've no idea about it's official name in English), I marked new lines onto the pattern.

My absolutely favorite tracing tool!

In the case with the second dart, I proceeded slightly differently: I did not trace it but added it to the original dart. Because there was some fabric separating two darts,  I measured the width of the new dart and added this exact width to the old one. 

Creation of a princess seam

Here is a picture of a brand new pattern piece. I won't go into details about this particular pattern piece now, but if you are interested I can create a separate post explaining how I created a princess seam on the back.

And after three  hours working on my princess seam and re-drafting the sleeves, the end result looks fine in my eyes. I have a little doubt about two areas of my jacket now: the sleeves' width and this little area circled in the photo below. But fear not, we will go for the second fitting once our jacket is cut from the real fabric and basted. Because, of course, the tweed and wool used for the jacket behave completely different from the muslin fabric.

Just to recap, the alterations that I've made to my first muslin were:

  • adding shoulder darts on the back to accommodate my rounded shoulders
  • creating a princess seam on the back of the jacket to combat my swayback (does it sound like I am going to the war?)
  • adding a new (or enlarging) the dart on the front for my SBA
  • adding 4cm to the hem
  • shortening sleeves by 1cm
Would you like to share with us your alterations? If you have questions, feel free to post your photos to our Flickr group and we will all try to help you!