Ahhhhh! ElsaWeen on Huffington Post (sorry, couldn't figure out how to embed this one)
And, yes, that is one of my boys ... a while ago!
I present this as an antidote to this ...
Ahhhhh! ElsaWeen on Huffington Post (sorry, couldn't figure out how to embed this one)
And, yes, that is one of my boys ... a while ago!
How do I approach turning this piece of art into a wearable garment?
Well, a good eye is essential and being able to do basic math is very useful.
This was my doodle sketch to work out the various layers for this skirt. I have one more thing to keep in mind, and that is whatever I do has to be reasonably easy to reproduce and not have an overwhelming number of pattern pieces or crazy sewing instructions. I'm not sure I always manage that!
For the scalloped peplum on the waist cincher for this view, I worked out how full I wanted the peplum to be and then figured out how many scallops were needed and THEN brought out my handy dandy circle template.
This was my easier solution for this peplum. What I really would have like to have done was make a series of little wedge shaped pieces that would have to be seamed together. That would then fit right into the waistline without any gathers, but that would have been more difficult to sew and much more difficult to grade all the different sizes. So, this was my compromise.
For the wavey collar on the blouse, I drew a freehand shaped collar based on the shape of the neckline.
When I sewed this up in muslin, I didn't like the shape (sorry I guess I didn't take a photo of my first collar). So, I flared it out more by cutting and spreading my paper pattern. Sewed it up again. I can't remember how many tries this collar took.
Here is my finished collar. And how did I get all those waist pleats?
I fitted them on the dress form. I did this because I felt it was very important that the blouse lays as smoothly as possible when tucked down inside the leggings. There is no skirt in the front on this view and it would look really lumpy over the abdomen otherwise.
And I thought I would show you how I made the sleeve pattern. I used the basic slash and spread technique, starting with a pattern I know and like.
Step 1 - Draw out pattern without any seam allowance.
Step 2 - Draw multiple even parallel lines on the pattern, I number mine incase they get mixed up after I cut them apart.
Step 3 - Spread them out equally ... measure, measure, measure! Tape the pieces down
Step 4 - Now draw the new pattern shape and add seam allowances back on.
But this doesn't mean you will have the perfect pattern. It still must be sewn up and tinkered with!
So, these are a few of the steps I took towards making this costume.
As most of you know, I do "ghost" pattern making for several of Simplicity's other licensed designers, Disney being another example. This is my second Amy Brown pattern and her stuff is really fun to do.
This is the art work I was given.
And this is my drawing ... not so lovely, but shows what needs to be shown.
Simplicity always wants me to do a sketch to explain how I plan make any design I'm working on, even one with such lovely artwork as these fairies.
Even more important is showing them how many pieces will be in the pattern package and what pieces get dual usage. See how the blouse is used for both views just with elastic at the bottom of the sleeve for one view and loosely hemmed for the other. And the same waist cincher is used for both. Just one view has the little peplum.
The other huge challenge is finding the fabrics. You can see the beige and black stripe spandex isn't quite what the drawing shows, but Simplicity sent Amy Brown my fabric choices and she approved them. The grey and black wide stripe I found for one waist cincher was perfect, but I had to dye the purple and black one. It is 100% cotton black and white canvas, so I knew it would take dye well. The white ruffles on the very, very ruffley skirt is sheer drapery fabric. The edges are just torn. This is faster, of course, but it gives that soft look that the drawing has. This time I purchased the wings. This pattern is so full already there really wasn't space for a wing pattern. And, anyway, look at the great wings I found on line.
Next time I will show you a little of the pattern making I did and I will devote a whole blog to the boot tops I designed fit over stiletto heels.
This photograph cracks me up! I've been to the Louvre, pre-cellphone days, and the room was just as crowded. And then the room right next store with equally lovely, albeit less famous, paintings is nearly empty. Which is actually great, because you can spend some quality time with any number of fine artworks.
This photo accompanied an article in the New York Times a couple of Sundays ago.
Article in the New York Times
This article recommends when visiting a museum, find a piece of art that appeals to you and then spend 30 minutes just looking at it. This is not something I usually do.
So, my husband and I trundled down to the National Gallery of Art after I read this article and did our own version. We each chose a painting and then both of us spent 10 minutes there, looking at that painting. And, 10 minutes was really long. I think I could do 30 minutes some time in the future, but would need to work up to it.
This is what I chose, Pont Neuf by Renoir. I figured for 10 minutes I needed something with lots to look at. My husband suggested we look for 5 minutes and then talk about the painting together for another 5. I emphatically said no I'm want 10 minutes of silence. But after 5 minutes, I was ready to talk.
What was so interesting, and really it shouldn't have been, was that we focused on such different things. He was obsessed with all sorts of technical things, like the shadows for all the people are of differing lengths and certain features in the water look unclear.
I became absorbed in all the different personalities in the scene, especially the person fifth from the right side edge. She is dressed like a shop girl or maybe even a gypsy. To me it looked as if she is jealously staring at the well dressed woman walking with her small child. After sometime it seemed that she was the focal point for the whole picture.
This is what my husband chose, Marchesa Balbi by van Dyke. And actually this image, that I found on line, shows some of the details more clearly than seeing it in person at the museum. This painting is huge, so we were looking at it from below and it seemed darker than it does here. And the reason I'm telling you this, is to explain why both of us were so puzzled as to the design of the dress. From where we were sitting you couldn't make out the point at the bottom of her bodice with the tabs radiating out on either side. It just looked like a dark mass of fabric. Seeing that point makes it clear that the wide sparkling band is really the front panel of the skirt. To us it looked like her dress was on sideways or something. At the very end I did figure this out, but it is so obvious here.
But, before we started talking about the dress, during my 5 minutes of silence, I kept scanning the painting looking for some distinguishing feature that would be a focal point, like the woman in the Renoir painting. But, this is such a different piece. I took note of the red bits, the rug, the arm of the chair and the brick wall of the building outside, thinking I might find some connecting there. Then I started looking into her face, trying to see what she was feeling. I was guessing this was a portrait of a very wealthy young woman about to be married or perhaps just married. I wondered if she felt trapped in her guarded world or calmly accepted what came to her. Clearly she was living a more than comfortable life. This painting put me into more of a meditative state than the busy scene of the Renoir.
If you tend to go through a museum fast, give this a try. I think about how long it took for these paintings to be made. They deserve 10 minutes of my time.
We really enjoyed our visit and plan to do this from now on when we are at a museum.
I used an invisible zipper, which I love to use. If you invest in a good metal invisible zipper foot, they are so easy to put in. EXCEPT, I never can quite get the two sides to exactly line up, so I always put the zipper in BEFORE sewing up the rest of the seam it's going in. See the slight unevenness at the top of the zipper and the cooresponding unevenness at the bottom of the finished seam? That little bit of a discrepancy can be trimmed away. The important thing is that the seam is smooth at the bottom of the zipper, and it is.
Share any tips if you know how to get those two sides to match up ... please!
Now I'm going to trim away the extra large seams along the sides. Read my blog about fitting if you want to know more about this.
First I draw a line 5/8" away from my stitching line and then ...
I've already decided that this fabric does not need to be finished on the cut edges. I have already thrown it into the washing machine and have been handling it a lot and it hasn't frayed one teeny weeny bit. Why spend the time? And quite often the shadow of serged seams can show through to the outside after it's ironed, which I don't like ... who does?
Another way to keep the shadow of a seam allowance showing is to iron your seams over a seam roll. This is my mother's handmade seam roll. She made it while she was in an apparel design program. Inside is a rolled up magazine which is then wrapped with some kind of padding and covered in 100% wool.
I have to confess it is very tempting to open it up to see what old magazine is inside, but it's a great seam roll and my mom made it!
Here is the seam roll in action. The majority of the pressure goes at the actual seam and is less at the edges of the seam allowance to prevent those cut edges making an impression through to the outside of the garment.
Just to be decorative, I used my scalloped pinking sheers to trim the edges of the neck facing. I also, tacked the facing to the shoulder seams to keep it in place.
If you remember, I cut this dress 2 inches longer than the pattern. I figure it can always be trimmed away, but is truly impossible to add back on. Anyway, this allowed me to make a slightly deeper hem than the pattern indicates. I like a 2 inch hem on a narrow skirt, but usually not any deeper than that.
And I LOVE soft rayon hem tape. Unfortunately you can't buy little packs of it anymore. I have 4 big rolls in various neutral colors so I can use it on most projects.
This double knit is so easy to slip stitch. Just the right amount can be stitched into without showing to the outside!
The rayon hem tape make a good stabilizing finish for the front slit, too. This is important, since I didn't finish any of the seam edges.
And because I didn't finish any of the seam edges it is super easy for me to open up the underarm seam where the sleeve meets the dress.
First I opened the seams about 2 inches in all 4 directions and then re-stitched them so the sleeve to dress seam is sewn last. This will make the dress hang better under the arm area. This is very important when sewing with a woven or tightly fitting garment, or heavy coat. Even the people who wrote the nice but corrective comments saying I really should have sewn the sleeve this way in the first place said, it was probably OK to have done it the other way with a knit, but I don't want to set a bad example, so I changed it. Didn't take too much time.
Now I have a friend who has gently suggested I shorten it a bit. Hmmm That would take a little more time. But, I love this. I'm always complaining that because I work at home all by myself, I don't have any office friends. But you are all becoming my office friends! Thanks.
This is my "fitting" selfie with my serious "does this fit OK" expression on my face. Today I want to show you how I got to this point.
The dress needs to be assembled up to a certain point. I thought I would just share with everyone, that I don't use a lot of pins in most cases. I match up notches and hold the fabric straight and smooth as I guide it under the presser foot. Which is even easier on a short seam.
This area with the concentration of pins is the curved part of the front princess seam that goes over the bust. I wanted to be sure the bit that needs to be eased in is done evenly so I arrange that before taking it to the machine.
If I were using a woven fabric with no give at all, I probably would have had to stay stitch close to the seam line and clip the seam allowance in this area to help ease that curve in. BUT, I working with this great double knit, which was able to ease without clipping. The above photo is a link to where you can buy this stuff.
I have a confession to make ... I didn't follow the instructions on the guide sheet as far as the sleeve to dress assembly is concerned! This is how Simplicity suggests doing it. Sew the side seams of the dress and sleeve separately THEN sew the sleeve to the dress.
But, for a raglan sleeve, I prefer to sew the sleeves to the front and back of the dress first THEN sew the side seams of the sleeve and dress all at once. Just my preference.
Amazing Fit patterns have 1 inch seam allowances at the side seams for fitting purposes. They suggest sewing the side seams facing outward when fitting. I machine stitched the sleeve seam and the dress side seam a couple inches down from the armpit. The rest I pinned.
This is my first try on. It is quite large. Hmmm and I even cut one size small. Must be because I'm using a knit.
Better too big than too small. The sleeves had to come in a lot and I curved in at the waist more than the pattern.
I do want to say though, in favor of the Amazing Fit pattern, because of the ability to choose different bust cup sizes the front of the dress hangs really well and it is just the side seam I am having to tinker with.
Click here to read my previous blog about cutting this dress out.
Off with the dress and time to mark where the pins are so I can take them out. I also marked the sleeve seam that was machine sewn in the same manner.
This is what my dress looked like at this point.
I compared the markings on the two sides and evened them out and this time I pinned for sewing because this is now a very irregular seam allowance. It is wider in some places and narrower in others. I need to follow the marked stitching line.
For my own piece of mind, I tried the dress on one more time. This time inside out. The excess seam allowanced needs to be trimmed away, but I didn't want to do that until I checked the fit one more time. AND if I tried it on with all those bulky seam allowances inside I wouldn't be able to tell if it was fitting correctly.
Again I have that serious "is this fitting" look in my eye. This is HARD work!
But, I'm happy with the fit. Now all I have to do is finish this baby. Which I will show you on Wednesday.
Now WHY? ... you may ask, would anyone make a basic black dress for themselves?
Well, I have many reasons.
#1 - I like to sew.
#2 - I need things to blog about.
#3 - I can make it fit the way I want.
#4 - Sewing a classic, basic garment is good practice, like doing scales on a musical instrument. And all musicians, even professionals, need to do that everyday. Ballet dancers need to do their bar exercises. In other words, practice makes perfect!
Here is the pattern I'm using. It's has full length princess seams front and back plus raglan sleeves. This dress should be pretty easy to sew and fit.
So, first thing, pre-wash my fabric. I want this to be a dress I can wear and wear, so I need to treat the fabric the way I will treat the dress and get any shrinking over with.
AFTER I did this, I THEN read the care instructions for the fabric I'm using, the Sohpia Double Knit above, and see it says to hand wash and line dry.
OOPS! ... But, you know, the fabric feels fine. Rogie, at Vogue fabric says people have told her "you can't kill Sophia" Good to know.
I might not throw it in the dryer again, though.
Anyway, back to cutting. You have to do math for an "Amazing Fit" pattern! Well, not really, but there always are some special measurements to take to determine the cup size you should use.
I've used 3 other Amazing Fit patterns in the past and I was skeptical at first, but they work about 89 percent of the time. And the 11 percent that doesn't work is easy to fix.
Now the worst part of the job ... finding all the pattern pieces.
Well, actually, the worst part is probably putting all the pieces BACK into the envelope when you are finished ... ha ha.
To determine the size I want to use, I compare my measurements with the measurements on the envelope. Then fill in the special chart on the guide sheet and also look at the finished garment measurements printed on the pattern. And I measured a couple other parts of the pattern that I wanted to know the finished measurement for, as well. It is important to draw in the stitching lines and measure from stitching line to stitching line when measuring finished garment measurements. See those faint lines in red? Those are the stitching lines I marked in. They look darker in person.
Since I am using a knit, albeit with limit stretch, I've decided to cut one size smaller than I technically should. Even a knit with limited stretch has quite a bit of give in it, so I shouldn't need as much wearing ease as I would using a woven fabric.
Wearing ease being the amount larger a pattern is cut than the body measurements to allow for sitting, bending, eating, breathing, etc.
Then I smooth out the pattern pieces with a cool iron.
I want my dress longer than the pattern, or at least I think I do, so I will cut it longer. This can always be trimmed off later, but if something starts out too short ... well you are stuck.
I used a lightweight fusible knit interfacing for the neck facings. I even had enough in black in my drawer in my studio!
After fusing the interfacing on, it is important to leave it be until completely cool to prevent bubbling.
The pieces are all cut out, ready to sew ... just one more thing. There is a definite right and wrong side to this fabric. The wrong side has a kind of unpleasant sheen to it and the right side has a rich matt finish. I'm guessing the Rayon part of the fabric is mostly toward the right side. It's hard to see in this photo. I took the photo under my sewing machine light (hence the presser foot in the pic), because that had the brightest light in my room.
But, I will have to be vigilant. With a very dark fabric like this, it is easy to get the sides mixed up and THEN after the dress is all done, there would be a couple panels sewn the wrong way and look horrible.
Click on the little square photo of the beige fabric above if you are interested in it.
Next time sewing and fitting.
I just made myself a new black dress! And I love it.
At the American Sewing Expo a couple weeks ago I was surrounded by all kinds of inspiration, gorgeous fabrics and trims, and fashion everywhere. I really wanted to make something new for myself and it struck me that I could really use a flattering easy to wear, easy to travel with black dress. It's such a cliche, but cliches become cliches for a reason.
I was sitting at the Simplicity booth and asked Deborah Kreiling for a pattern recommendation. And she handed me this one. It is brand new and should be available any day now. A princess line is easy to fit and I liked the raglan sleeves. I wanted the 3/4 length sleeves but not the lace overlay about the middle.
So, now I just had to find the perfect black fabric.
There were several excellent fabric stores with booths at the show. The first one I visited had a fabric that might work. I wanted to show it to the Deborah at the Simplicity booth (just 3 booths away), but they would only give me the teeny tiniest swatch ... grrr. But, Deborah could tell, at least, that it had a kind of diagonal gaberdine weave to it. She said that could give a really strange effect on a dress with princess seams running from top to bottom. So, I looked some more and found a really nice feeling double knit. Now this booth had a half yard remnant under the cutting table they let me take to show Deborah. She said it would work fine, even though the pattern calls for a woven fabric, not a knit.
Back to the fabric booth the buy necessary yardage. That's Rogie one of the owners of Vogue Fabrics in Illinois. And, I'm not sure who the very happy looking guy is between us. But, you can see this was a fun show.
Now that I've worked with this fabric, I want you all to know about it. It's great to sew and even better to wear. I want to try one of those dresses with color breaks in them using 2 or 3 colors of this stuff. The polyester and spandex make it a practical fabric and the 30% Rayon makes it feel like a real fiber, not plastic. Hmmm, maybe a jacket for travel.
If you click on the Sophia Double Knit picture above you will be taken to Sophia page at the Vogue Fabric website.
I had to do a bit of adjusting since I was using a knit with a pattern developed for a woven.
Read all about the making of this dress in these three blog posts.
Cutting the dress
Fitting the dress
Finishing the dress
These are the everyday sewing adventures of a designer and commercial pattern maker.
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