Saturday, August 31, 2013

On Creativity and Taping

Two different subjects here, actually so first the creativity part:

I highly recommend this little book for any of you creators out there, whatever the medium. Kleon is a wise old soul in a young hip body and is so spot on with his insights into  the creative process. This isn't old stuff. He explains how the internet plays into the process, including blogs, forums, and more. But, there is much more on that and his viewpoints are inspirational and contemporary. I finished this in two short sittings and now can't wait to hit my studio. I found my copy from our library. Hope you give it a try.
*****************************************************

Back to the taping/digi-sewing discussion. It was wonderful and I appreciate all of your comments and viewpoints. All opinions were respectful and articulate. I really appreciate those who sold these patterns piping up in the convo as well. Thanks from all of you. 

Here are a few things I took away from the discussion:

Logistics:   Many dislike the download and tape phenomena particularly when there are many pages. The       pattern still needs to be traced on to tissue if motif placement is critical or adjustments for fit. And thanks to CTPat we now know that the PDF can be emailed to Office Max and printed out on large paper. Thanks for that info, CT. Also, there is a community spirit happening with many PDFs being offered with Sew Alongs. I like that.

Designers:  The No Fear attitude of freshmen sewists is admired but most would like them to get some more experience before they sell their wares on line. Some feel this will come in time as their skills mature. I hope so. IMO, poor directions, designs, and patterns will lead other newbie sewists to failure not pride. I think this will shake out to a one or two at the top who are not afraid of getting better at their craft. How about starting with ironing? My turn to be snarky (wink). 

On the other hand there are experienced pattern makers/designers using this medium whose work is wonderful. It never occurred to me that 99cent pattern sales didn't exist in other countries and I can see an absolute need for PDFs. I applaud these pros for their entrepreneurial spirit and am really glad they are able to provide this service to our off shore friends. Thanks so much for enlightening me on that and keep up the good work!

Thanks again to all of you for your enlightenment, articulate comments, and education. You are once again a priceless part of my day. Off to cut out a pattern...............Bunny

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Do You Tape?






I don't. Well, I did once and it was OK. I taped four sheets of paper for a PDF doll dress pattern. That's my limit. It made a darling little dress, too.

 We all know patterns aren't perfect. We aren't perfectly built to match pattern measurements, either, any of them. So disregarding fit what does taping have over rotary cutting out a pattern in minutes? The only advantage I see is to the producer of the pattern. It is a quick way to get a design out to the public and turn a quick buck. Go entrepreneurs! But sorry, other than the four sheet limit, this does not appeal to me in any way. Thirty  to seventy pages is not uncommon. Are you kidding? Do you know how much interfacing I can buy for the price of my printer cartridge, never mind the ream of paper? Add in the price of all that tape, too. Oh, and don't forget the time it actually takes to print off  and tape your PDF pattern. Then there is just dragging around all those taped white sheets to the cutting board. Now all of this is coming from a user standpoint. I definitely see the advantages from a designer standpoint and who knows, I may do a PDF pattern and sell it myself one day. But using them, not so sure. Give me a 3.99 Vogue pattern sale any day.

I am not going to show examples of these PDFd on my blog because, hey, these digi-sewists need to make a living like everyone else. My suggestion is to google PDF patterns for women, or children or whatever and see what comes up. 



Another beef I have with PDFs is that many are so unfitting and generic. Whether it's Burda or your local Mompreneur, a tee shirt is a tee shirt, a baby bib a baby bib and a  hi lo skirt is a hi lo skirt. The majority of designs being sold as PDFs are very very basic. Now that is a good thing. I am for anything that gets anybody to sew any type of clothing. So newbies, jump on board. But will the results be in a heap in a corner of the closet with the store bought fast fashion these generic downloads  emulate?  Or is it the other way around? Will the generically looking and fitting PDF garment be thought of as just as exciting and glamorous as all the rest of the generic tees from the fast fashion emporiums? If that is your standard, and it is for much of our population, these designs are right up there.



There is one very fascinating aspect of all of this, however. The other night I was on one of the brightly pastel colored blog/websites of a clearly inexperienced sewist but very capable blogger and PDF user and maker. In the same paragraph she says she abhors "The Big Four" and a sentence later she admits she's never used a pattern. Her sidebars offer you her PDFs. This is not a dropout from FIT but a lovely young woman who learned on her own like I did and based on the results shown in her blog, maybe sewing for a year or two max. Now what you read from here on is merely my observation, not a criticism of any kind, but I do find it fascinating. Our young, really young, newby sewists are so digitally primed that they think it is normal to print out 65 pages and tape it together. It is something they have grown into, would never question, and clearly would wonder why anyone would not do it this way. Everything else in life comes by way of clicks: dates, purchases, jobs, etc.  I have seen just this sentiment on more than one hip pastel sewing blog. I just find this so fascinating. This is a price we are paying for the lack of textile education in our schools. There is another way, newbies. No, there is not instant gratification. Yes, you will have to really think about how the garment goes together  when using a RL pattern. You will even have to follow directions, sometimes bad directions. But after you have done this enough times in enough variations you will be damn good at sewing.  Taped Tee Shirt after  taped Tee Shirt doesn't quite get you there. I am hoping that all those digi-sewists out there will eventually graduate to using real patterns, whether Indie or Big Four.


My caveat here is that I do know there are some designs sold as PDFs that are not so generic and blah and actually have fit as part of their existence. Burda definitely has some. But still, I am  just not ready to be a Taper. Are you a Taper? Digi-sewist? PDF maker and seller? Would love to hear from you all as I find this a rather fascinating provocative subject. The floor is yours. Just be nice.........Bunny

Sunday, August 25, 2013

I think she's got it!

A little better, ya think? What a litany of adjustments took place to get here!

First I petited the whole thing. This meant:
  • Take a half inch out of upper back at the yoke seam
  • Take the same half inch out of upper chest, appx where the notches are on the front armhole. You can see the fold on this muslin.
  • Take a half inch out of the sleeve cap.
  • Drop down the armscye at the underarm to correspond with the width removed in the bodice. Forget this part and you have one tight armhole!
Next was deal with the stinkin' sleeve and how it attaches to the bodice. There was a big blob of unnecessary fabric in the lower front area of the armscye seam. This was not ease. It was ugly.
  • First I took a half inch out of the underarm seam at the top tapering back to the seam at the waistline. 
  • That corresponded with folding out a full inch along the center  grain of the sleeve the full length. How did I come up with this figure? I went and measured my grey cashmere coat that I made. The sleeves are very roomy and comfortable and I knew way smaller than this sleeve on 2153. It was almost a 3 inch difference. Between what I could reasonably take out of the top of the underarm seam and the 3 inch difference I compromised at one inch. Now the sleeve head seam and the bodice armscye seam had an equal amount removed. 
  • Tried it on at this point and while it was a lot improved that big blob of fabric still existed in the front of the armscye. At this point I decided to just follow instinct. It is not always easy to follow instinct. I always regret not listening to my intuition sooner because for us ladies intuition is always right. Intuition told me to just scoop that nasty blob out. I did not alter the shape of the armhole on the bodice. What I did was scoop out a curve from the underarm seam to the first notch right on the sleeve itself in the front of the sleeve only. Bingo! That did it. Are the Pattern Police coming after me for this? I don't think so but we are all afraid of them when that intuition starts to kick in. Take your sirens and your big sharp scissors and go away you nasty PPs. The Big I (intuition) has won again! 
  • And last but not least, whenever you decrease length in a front zippering jacket like this one, make sure you add to the hem as your zipper won't fit otherwise. What a nightmare that would be after all this work!

Thanks, everyone, for all of the great suggestions regarding my headaches. I'm leaning heavily toward an allergy possibility but we'll see what the doc says. Thanks to you wonderful readers I have lots of info to research and confront him with. Thank you again. You are priceless!
*******************************************

Well, lo and behold, is that not the new issue of Threads? The one mailed to me personally in my own special manila envelope from Newtown, Connecticut itself? Sure is! Seems a hint I sent in was deemed print worthy and I am very flattered. Now I didn't get the B I G prize like the charming Kristine of Just Keep Sewing did not long ago but hey, it's recognition and I'll take it. Any questions on my hint, just let me know. A bit of expected editing was done and I am not sure it is as clear as I originally had it but that's OK. I'm here if you have any questions. What fun!

Coming up next, how I am dealing with the lining situation in a pattern that doesn't require one. ...Bunny

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Simp 2153, Muslin # 1

Well, I guess this nightmare picture says it all! How do you like the hat? I thought it was  great over compensation for a day of no makeup and bad hair. I picked it up in a compulsive moment last week in Lake Placid. I like it, wondered where I would wear it, and now I know - Muslin Display! Back to 2153.....

This pic gives you a better idea of the issues. The ease on this jacket  is 40 1/2 inches at the bust.  I plan for this to be a spring- fall jacket, going the most over a tee or shirt and jeans.It also meets with a zip at center front so that is why I have it a bit separated. I have only been close to a 40 1/2 inch bust in my ninth month of pregnancy so this has to be narrowed. But the really big issue is the horrendous sleeve. It is way too low and way too wide being almost 18 inches wide at the bicep. You combine that with a voluminous shiny fabric and we are talking nightmare on Elm Street. FWIW, this is sewn as out of the envelope in the smallest size, a 6.
 
That right shoulder dip rears it's ugly head with every garment, doesn't it? That's an easy fix with a shoulder pad. Here you can see all the width above the waist. I know I have to have extra ease in a jacket but this could be way  better than this. Sorry about the bunched up tee on my butt.  So now what do I do? Your suggestions and positive critique are very welcome. I'm thinking deal with that stinkin' sleeve first. How about first I take in under the arm as well as narrow up the sleeve width to match? Then I will raise the armscye as well. I'll also petite the upper chest and back and sleeve head area. After Muslin #2with all the petiting it will then be time for narrowing the shoulders and upper bodice. I have to also decide in which order to do all of this, hmmm,,,,,,,,

I've given a lot of thought to the lining process in this garment. I am going to flatline  it and do facings. This pattern required that I make a facing for the back neck as there is none provided. Instead the collar eats up the back bodice neckline. I've never liked that technique. I also may do some sort of binding on the facing as well. More to come on the lining process. 

*****************************************************************
If I am looking a bit worse for wear lately I have been dealing with the return of near daily migraines the likes of which I haven't seen in years. I will be seeing the Dr. about all this and may just need a prescription. Hopefully there is something new and improved since I took migraine meds like Imitrex and Relpax years ago.  I thought I was all through with this issue but apparently something is flipping the migraine trigger.  I do know one thing. If I can get myself in the Zone, as in creative endeavors where I just lose track of time, it greatly improves the situation. So I sew on........................Bunny




Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Just a Cool Weather Jacket, Simp 2153

My mojo has been slowly simmering in the back of my mind the past few weeks while we vacationed and entertained guests. The last guests left Monday and a trip to my cave had me playing with all sorts of fall possibilities. I had a couple of things lined up and while they grabbed that mojo they didn't push it into high gear. Another day passed and a trip to the local Joanns sucked me back to clearance where I have been eyeing a wrinkled crosswoven taffeta for months. I have learned when you revisit something in the store over and over and still want it, you better get it. You won't rest until you do. That and the fact that I have been wanting to make a cool weather jacket for a long time just put that mojo back in the fast lane. Hold on and here we go!

The print you see is the batik that I had planned for my Marcy Tilton dress. You know which one. It has the hi-low sort of banded hem and her usual odd cut. I literally just never had the time to pull it together and at this point I don't think I ever well. If you have read here long you know my philosophy of  "Just Cut It".  I am going to use that batik for the lining of the bodice of the jacket. The sleeves will be something silky. They may be that perfectly flat version of the same taffeta that I found in a totally unrelated area of the store. It was kismet. Yes, the lining cost three times the clearance taff but it works beautifully and you can't take it with you, either.

 
After pulling it all together it was time to do a little research on my pattern on Pattern Review. Lo and Behold, there was Margy and her spectacular version. While I pined over her vest, I never realized it was the pattern I would be using for my jacket, Simplicity 2153. I do think she planted some sort of "wrinkle" thought in my subconscious, however. It seemed like just the perfect fabric. Now I know why. Most of the jackets and vests on PR looked quite good and give me good ideas how to proceed with my own, minus a small bit of much needed advice. I have sewn "wrinkled" fabric that I have made myself and which had been fused to interfacing to hold the wrinkles. The fabric you see above has been washed and dried on warm and it came out beautifully, no ironing obviously. But I have no plans to fuse this fabric to anything. I like the looseness of the wrinkles and they are clearly permanent. Has anyone sewn with this wrinkly poly fabric? Any hints? I would love to know before I start cutting. I have straightened the grain, laid it on the cutting table, and it is "relaxed". I will have to think a bit before proceeding. 

I also have to think about that lining. There is no lining to the pattern but nearly everyone on PR lined theirs. Other than one person saying she eliminated the facings and did an edge to edge lining there was no further insight. I would prefer facings and a bagged lining but have to think out that whole business first. I also thought of lining almost as sort of an underlining and having the facings on top. Hmm..... Any thoughts? 

This jacket requires cording for the pockets and waistline. While I haven't settled on that yet, I have found my zip and some Pandora style beads to hang at the end of the cords.



So I am raring to go and this will be perfect for this time of year. We often have hot days into November but very cool nights and mornings. This would be the perfect jacket for that weather. It feels so good to get back to my sewing...............Bunny

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Fixing a Too Low Armhole

As promised here is a post on how I fixed that nasty situation when an armhole is way too low and your bra is showing way too much. It shouldn't be showing at all. This is the Cynthia Rowley dress I picked up for the wedding. You are seeing it after the alteration. I believe you all know what this issue looks like so you don't need to see my armpits for further explanation, just TMI.
While Sis and I were scooting around getting ready for the service I asked her to take a pic of my armhole to show the result. Obviously, she took a pic of more than the armhole! I really wished the camera showed off this fabric better. It is a silver metallic linen, subtle and lovely. Back to armpits....
The dress is fully lined but the yoke in the front is self faced and connects to the lining at the bottom edge of the yoke and at the shoulder seams. With a combination of razor blade, pelican scissors and a dental pik, I unstitched the lining from the edges of the armhole, aka, the understitching. Of course underneath lay the smallest of seam allowances so don't be too rough and get them to unravel.
You can see the outside shoulder seam. This needs to come apart.  Press your SAs nice and flat. Now it is time to do a little measuring. I took my outer shoulder seam in 1/4 inch at the neckline and angled out to a half inch at the shoulder edge. You may be different depending on the slope of your shoulders. My amount pulled the bottom edge of the armhole  up a good inch .I also had to deal with the little studs but they were really no problem and came out fine.
Stitch your new seam and press it open. A seam roll or better yet, a wooden dowel, makes it easier to get inside and iron it open. Remember, iron flat, iron it open, then iron the right side.

Trim back the SAs with pinking shears. It is easier to get in and do than serging at this stage. You are kind of working inside out here so make it easy on yourself.
 
Turn the shoulder back right side out now, like you would be wearing it.  Give those edges a good hard press. Watch out for the lining. It may not take the heat as well. If you haven't done it yet, unstitch the lining shoulder seam. Press the lining SAs flat. 


Now take the front shoulder lining/facing and pin it down to the dress shoulder matching as best possible the already factory pressed edges. It helps to use an ironing board and ham to get this to lay right. You want to favor the dress side of this edge, meaning the lining side of this edge is a bit shorter so it won't be seen from the outside while wearing. Hand stitch this facing SA to the dress shoulder SA. Do not go through to the dress. You are only stitching SAs together.  Trim as needed to have slightly graded SAs.
 
Now take the back lining shoulder and flip it up and over the the pinned front shoulder. Trim as needed and turn under the lining SA. Pin all your edges as before. 

Now it is time to hand sew. First fell stitch down your shoulder seam. Then do the same with the neck and armhole edges. Give it a good press inside and outside and you should be good to go. 

 

**********************************************************************

A pic of the tee shirts we all wore to cheer on our running newlyweds!.....Bunny







Monday, August 5, 2013

Whirlwind Times!


It has been a whirlwind two weeks, the beach in Maine, New Hampshire, oral surgery, then Cape Cod, then home, then back to Maine for the wedding for four more days and now we are home and our summer vacation is finis. Other than some house guests in two weeks we are done with our summer sojourn for 2013. It has been great. We have gone to our traditional favorite beach in Maine but it's a secret. It is very unknown and very unpopulated and just a few private cottages on the shore. No Orchard Beach atmosphere here but just the best of Maine on a two mile stretch of wide beige  sand. These are pics of the beach and the islands dotting them.  The children enjoyed it all so. 
There were lobster boils, lobster omelettes, lobster rolls, and lot of clams and fish as well. We didn't touch any protein other than seafood for the whole week and it was fabulous. Luckily that was all before the surgery!
 

After Maine it was off to New Hampshire and the oral surgeon. That went well and I am almost pain free with just a bit of stitches hanging on. We then did our visit to the Cape where we gifted my brother and family with Danny's project. You all know how wonderful that all worked out.  Now it was time to fly back home, work a few days, and then head back to Maine for the wedding. And what a lovely wedding it was. 
Rehearsal day started early with the bride and groom and several other family members running the Beach to Beacon race in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. As you can see our very experienced runners aand future newly weds were dressed for the event. The Kenyans still won! We all went down to watch, cheer them on, and enjoy the free blueberry muffins and coffee. Then it was home to prepare for the rehearsal party, a garden affair of about 40 people. Sis and I cooked and pulled off a great celebration, if I may say so. It is just great working with one's sis  on events like this. I changed my clothing plans and wore the three D top to the rehearsal party. I've lost almost ten pounds since the surgery and my preciously fitted pants were too large, something I didn't discover till right before leaving. I took in the waist two inches with tucks and it all seemed to all into place and hang well enough to get me through one night.

That funny crotch thing was not there before I lost the weight. Oh, well, it got me through the night just fine.
The wedding took place out on the edge of Two Lights beach and was lovely. It was simple, beautiful, respectful, and a joyous occasion for all. The couple wanted a very simple celebration and I applaud how beautiful and worshipful it was. The setting was magnificent. For the wedding I found a darling little dress that I thought would be better than the 3D outfit. All invited were in casual cocktail type summer dresses and  this worked out perfectly. Now if you are five feet tall and have purchased anything sleeveless you know that the armholes reveal a rather disgusting display of your bra sides and this dress was no exception. My next post will show you how I fixed that. My sis had the same issue but fixed her's differently. She's taller and it didn't need quite so much alteration. The dress is a Cynthia Rowley linen shift of metallic silver linen. The fabric is gorgeous! It  has tiny  metallic stud type decorations straight down the center back seam from neck to hem and also around the neckline. It fit great except for those armholes. Here' the finished pic:

The armhole fits fine and God, I look like my mother! But that's OK. 

 ************************************************************************
Thank you, all of you, for your warm and caring comments regarding Danny's project. It really warms my heart to read them. I truly appreciate those who mentioned having a family member with mental illness and their understanding. I pray for your family's peace and successful sustained treatment for your loved ones. This closet of mental illness needs to be opened wide. I think it touches us all from those who have "family secrets" to those we see roaming our streets with all they own in a shopping cart. Let's bring it out in the open. While my brother's family worked together and closely with professionals to help Danny many others don't have that luxury. Let's hope a new day dawns when all who need treatment can get it and live their best lives.......Bunny. It's great to be back.