Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Newbies, I'm here for you!

In the recent rant I posted I mentioned  looking at higher end ready to wear to  oneself to what sort of techniques indicate quality construction. There are all different levels of quality when it comes to clothing. We don't all have access to "real" Chanel or D&G garments and that's not what I am really talking about here. You can follow websites of Dior and Chanel and so on. You can also get great visual knowledge from sites like Net-a-Porter. They are great fun to cruise. What I am really talking about tonight though is just your better quality garment available in nearly every town that has a department store or dress shop. Think Ann Taylor, not Kohl's. Most of us have access to some "better" quality stores and boutiques in our home towns.  Just be forewarned. Having a "big"name doesn't necessarily mean a garment is made with all quality techniques.
Here is a pair of capris I thrifted  recently and they are made by Izod. Now you can get these in a lot of places and they are not super expensive but they are made really well. I LOVE these capris. I will point out to you a few things that let you know a better garment, not what you would find in Wally World.

First, the fabric: This fabric is really really yummy. I love wearing it. It is soft like butter. It feels like a very expensive cotton but is 100% polyester. I have never seen poly like this in the fabric store. It does not sweat and comes out of the washing machine like a dream. If I could find poly like this I would wear it all the time. It is comfortable.
This is the waistband. It is piped all around, big detail you will never find in Wal Mart. Each side of the waistband is perfectly double topstitched.

The pants came with satin ribbons to hang them on the hanger. Pockets are made of mesh so you don't get all sweated up in your summer capris. Yes, the waistband is wrinkled and that looks to me like a poly/cotton blend was used in the thread and it in turn shrunk with washing while the fabric didn't That's the only fault I can find with these pants.

You can see how the pocket is faced with matching fabric and zigzag topstitched to the mesh.

Here you can see the pocket. It is topstitched. Where it meets the waistband is a tiny zigzag to prevent ripping out. The waistband has a double layer so there is a line across the waistband to secure the "flap: and keep the waistband flat as well.  Love that piping!

Under this grommet tie sort of flap is a perfectly executed fly zipper with a flap between the zipper and your tummy, another nice touch.

Like many capris, this pair sports flap pockets that stride the side seam.  Again, you can see the tiny zigzag reinforcement at the pocket corners. Look at the perfectly executed topstitching.While the appropriate factory machinery pulled this off, no doubt a skilled operator made that curve.I love how the inner stitches are small and the outer stitches are large. Makes sense, right? Would a double needle do that? I will have to try out that one.

When I wear these the pockets fall perfectly along my hips with no bagging or stretching out, not an easy feat with my wide hips.

So these are my fancy pants for beach and boating. I like them with a simple white tank, great summer wear.

I did this post to show  our newer sewists just a few of the details they can easily replicate. Details like piping and perfectly falling pockets and straps to hang your pants are all small details that can easily be mastered. Practice these techniques before you commit them to a garment. Practice makes perfect! Then stitch your garments knowing that you are duplicating far better quality than what you may be used to from the big box stores. That's a good thing. Wearing well made clothing will give you confidence and sewing quality clothing will give you a terrific sense of satisfaction, particularly when someone asks you wear you bought it.

The point of this post is for all of us to make ourselves more aware of what is really nice and what is rather shabby when it comes to garment construction. Go to those fancy department store designer departments and the high end boutiques. Try on the clothes. Look inside of them. Take pics with your phone of the insides. Cruise websites from designers or like net-a-porter.  Try on, try on, try on. Open them up. Keep a little notebook handy to jot down ideas. Bring a tape measure or 6 inch ruler to measure things.  Get out there and have fun. Then interpret what you have seen to your own sewing and practice those new skills. Each new skill will be another tool in your toolbox. A girl, one who sews at least, can never have too many tools in her tool box...................Bunny

27 comments:

  1. Had to delurk to say that oldies need these reminders also! Great post.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for the post Bunny. It is hard to know what is good and what isn't.

    ReplyDelete
  3. My grandmother educated me early in life that the inside of a garment should be as beautiful as the outside. I got to see the insides of some very elegant and well made clothing. The only name I remember is Norman Norell. Talk about gorgeous fabric and details.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nancy, my grandmother taught me so much too. She would take me to stores like Maison Blanche in New Orleans and literally teach me about fabric and quality and why what was what, all at a very young age. She was always dressed to the nines and had great taste and made it her business that I know about these things. Weren't we very lucky? I sure think so. Hopefully we can help others learn these things too. I know your blog is the epitome of good taste, quality fabrics, and super skills. Thanks for all you share.

      Delete
  4. Bunny, I want to thank you for this. Your last post about people with a lack of sewing experience blogging bad techniques struck a nerve with me. I didn't disagree with you, but people are quick to rant, but not so quick to be part of the solution. Posts like this are how people learn better! This is part of the solution. For those of us that really enjoying sewing as both fashion and craft, posts like this really mean something. If you know better, you do better (if you care). Thank you and I will be incorporating some of this elements in my next pair of pants.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wow, these were a great find! Great details and you are absolutely correct - you wouldn't find the same details at the discount shops! Thanks for sharing with all of us!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks for point out all those great sewing details. I'll try to incorporate at least a few of them in my next pants.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Bunny - what a great blog, and yes you are right: how in the world can we know to sew correctly or well if we don't know what well or correctly is. A tour through a good dept store or upscale boutique can be a valuable education!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Now to find quality fabric . . .For the beginning sewer that goes to the local fabric store to buy fabric and ends up with less than desirable results, I feel sorry for them because they don't know any better and often get discouraged. Those of us who do know better are forced to shop online which works but it would be nice to see and feel the fabric first.

    ReplyDelete
  9. A nice tour through a cute and well made garment!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Bunny you are an inspiration to both the new and the more experienced sewer. I have been sewing since I was a child, but I find many useful tips on your blog. The details on those capri pants are worthy of copying, great post.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Great post!
    Sometimes I see nice features like these and would like to duplicate them, but I just get confused on the order of construction. Getting clothes sewn up in the right order is a bit of a puzzle. The big four patterns don't usually have these details, and Burda mag instructions are pretty dire. The sewing how to book's go over different topics separately. For a beginner like myself, I am often not sure how to get all the details in the proper sequence so that all the seams look neat and there are no rough edges, etc.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I totally agree, Karin. Many is the pattern I have used that jumps all over the place. They have you go from step number 7 to 25, back to 19, ad nauseum. That is something that really fries me.

      One of the ways I approach this is through unit sewing. First I do all the small details like pocket flaps, cuffs, collars. Then I go bigger making the sleeves, pockets and yokes on bodices. Then I put the whole thing together. I find this method makes my sewing more enjoyable too, for some strange reason. I guess it's the following my own method part. I think this unit construction thing was maybe the Bishop method. Anybody know?

      Delete
    2. Oh, I never thought of unit construction. I always dread sewing the collars, cuffs etc. as they really can make everything look professional or not! And I always have trouble with them. If I made them first they would be done and out of the way and off my mind so I could enjoy the rest without worrying, as the toughest part (at least for me) would already be done. Thanks.

      Delete
  12. Great post Bunny! I love all the extra details that go into designer garments - piping is one of my favorites! My very first sewing instructor taught me that the inside of the garment should look as pretty as the outside - I strive to do that with my garments as well, even in the play clothes for grandchildren. :) This is a wonderful post for both old and new seamstresses.

    With your talent at creating perfectly fitting pants, perhaps you could recreate these and show the steps in sequence for the benefit of those that are newer to sewing and struggle with the sewing order as Karin & Sassy have pointed out. (just in case you're looking for your next blogging idea! LOL!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Kathy. This is a great idea.

      Delete
  13. Oh, this taught me so much! Thank you for sharing the knowledge, for we are benefiting mightily. It never occurred to me WHY some things, such as the pocket linings and small vs. larger stitching, are done.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Great post! It is so satisfying to finish a garment that looks good on the inside as well as the outside! It just feels good! I really appreciate your observation on the double row of stitching on the pocket flaps...the inside row has smaller stitches. I had to get my eyes right up close and look at that. Makes sense, and is another skill to go for! It's all in the details! Thank you for the time and effort you put into this post. I'm learning!!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    You have so much expertise. It's so generous of you to share even more of it.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Another great post, Bunny! I was talking with a friend of mine this morning about this exact topic. She'd gone to a quilt show over the weekend and was appalled by the number of 'raw' quilts - poor execution, poor to no quilting, cheap fabric choices that people were lauding. We both agreed that so few people know what 'good' construction looks like in either RTW or home sewing any more that the mere act of putting something together gets them credit. Don't get me wrong - I'm always thrilled to see new people sewing but the goal should be to become, gradually and appreciating the learning curve involved, a good sewer that produces a good product, not simply a sewer who'll make any old thing with no regards to its overall quality.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thank you, Bunnie, for more information! Yes, please, walk us through these techniques. I like the idea of 'unit sewing,' and will try it. Thank you.
    I have never shopped at Wh***mart, and never will. . .but that's a whole 'nother story. . .
    Thank you again for sharing of your expertise!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thanks for this Bunny. Very interesting . I often look at clothes in stores and what usually strikes me is how imperfect they are. But these capris are a gem!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Last year I focussed on making great pants. This year my focus is on detailing. Thank you for this post Bunny. I was feeling like the reinforcing detailing, pants lining and piping detailing may have been outdated but I can see how well thought out detailing adds to the garment.

    ReplyDelete
  20. This is a great post, Bunny! I just found your blog via pinterest, via Saint Nolt Sews - just following links. I love seeing folks sew, and I so appreciate all the details that make a garment well made and look good. I also use unit construction, although I never labeled it as such, lol. I just love when each unit is done and you put them all together. Its like having instant gratification, or almost like magic, sometimes.
    I am really enjoying your blog - thanks for all your sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Hello,
    I'm so happy to have found your blog.
    I'm returning to sewing after a twenty year break and things have moved on.
    I'm classing myself as an old newbie who needs a lot of help :)
    Looking forward to all you have to share.
    Thank you,
    Margaret

    ReplyDelete

Engaging commentary: