Thursday, 29 August 2013

Muslin fitting, #1

So I've just spent my afternoon with my bodice muslin. I sewed it up yesterday, and was just able to briefly put it on before I left for work. Today I got a better feel for it, and I must say it needs some work.
Here is what it looked like, right off the bat (please pardon the tragic sweatpants):

For starters, that neckline is tight! I could hardly pin it together without gagging. Some of this, however would be due to the fact that I didn't clip the seam allowance and turn it in. This would have given a more true picture of it, because looking at the seam line there, it looks kind of ok (placement wise). Maybe a bit high in front, though. The 29" waist of the bodice is properly mocking my 30" (firmly controlled) waist here, and is too tight. The darts up front seems to go too high up, but I don't really know if they are supposed to hit the apex of the bust, or not.

To fix the waist issue, I first tried letting the side seams out by half of the allowance. That should give nearly 3 cm extra (1.1inches), but once I had made the correction the whole thing went kind of baggy on me.

There is rather a lot of extra fabric pooling on the sides there, and I kind of get the urge to add a small dart on the side seam towards the bust. Looking at it again, those front darts are just too high.
I also wonder if the back is slightly long, but again, I may be fooled by the seam allowance not being turned in. The front actually looks a little short..

All in all, I think it looks good with the yoke and all, and the changes I need to make looks to be small tweaks. I have decided to make a new muslin (with sleeves) and add the extra inch to the mid front and back, instead of letting out the sides. Seeing where the seams of the sleeves will sit, I fear that it will be a tad tight across the back. So I need to try it with the sleeves attached. I will also try to add a bust dart to take up some of that extra on the sides there.

I am really enjoying this muslin business! It is way better to see possibilities in a mock-up, than loose complete faith in a garment went wrong.

And as always, tips and pointers, comments and constructive criticism  are highly welcome :)

Wishing you all a splendid weekend!

Muslin making

Welcome back ;)
I am happy to report that my muslin is up and running, so to speak! After carefully drafting my old McCall pattern onto less fragile paper, I then cut out all my pieces. I had a plain cotton bedskirt in my linen cupboard that always annoyed the crap out of me, since it was too short to reach the floor (or completely cover the lower continental matress) and just looked silly. I decided to upcycle it into muslin :)

Making a muslin is something I had yet to do. I am always so eager to get going, and have this lah-dee-dah-approach to things, thinking it will surely fit ('cus it says "my size" on the envelope). I recently sewed up the WWII overalls from Wearing History, without doing the muslin. Even if it clearly said to do so in the description. It turned out fine, but mostly because of luck, rather than me being a clever seamstress. This will be covered in another post. Since I am now sewing for "the world to see", I'd better do it properly. And I clearly need the discipline :)

So; onward! I pinned the pattern pieces onto my fabric like normal, making sure to match the grain line on the pattern to that of the fabric. I then carefully marked all notches , darts and other markings onto the muslin pieces before removing the paper. Don't leave out any, thinking you'll remember. If you're anything like me, you probably won't :)
Next, I stitched along the seam lines on all pieces with a contrasting color, a tip I got here. At first I thought "is this really necessary?" , but then as I sewed, I realized just how much practice I actually got from this! This dress bodice has some really curvy seams due to the yoke, and those can be tricky for us beginners. I sometimes struggle with keeping the same width on the seam allowance around curves so this was great. It also makes you familiar with the different pieces and shapes.

All pieces marked and stitched. Neat!

I opted to make a muslin of the bodice only, since this is the part of the dress that is close fitting (note to self: do the sleeves aswell!). The pattern envelope stated a size 17, with a 37" bust (like mine) and a 29" waist. Now, sadly I can't claim a 29" waist, I am more like a 31".  But as I plan to wear foundation garments with this dress, I didn't make any alterations to the pieces of the bodice, thinking there must also be calculated some ease into the size (lah-dee-dah-much??!).

This is the wrong side, showing the facings, before stitching the front onto the back.
Look how nice the seam lines matches! *squee*

The bodice went together very nicely, although some of the notches on the yoke did not match the ones on the front pieces where they were supposed to. Not to worry, I decided to match the fold lines for the facing instead, so in the end it was no problem at all. I am really glad for this test run. The curved yoke did take some extensive pinning to get in place without puckering, and there were other little details that I know I will have to pay special attention to on the real deal. The pre-stitched seam allowances helped greatly on overall accuracy and if I need to make adjustments anywhere, they will make that much more easy to do.

Now you are probably wanting to see the thing in action, and you will. But that's for the next post :)
I did try this one on, but it was getting late and photos were not happening (my camera has currently a broken flash, so is just useless indoors). I am happy to report that I managed to stuff myself into the 29" waist area of this creation (thanks Rago!) but I think I'll be adding a small inch to it. You know, for breathing and moving ;)

More to come!

Monday, 26 August 2013

Pickled patterns

Hello good people of the blogosphere!
Just thought I would share some quick progress of my challenge-dress-project.
Although there is still no actual fabric fondling as of yet, I have started with some important preparatory work. :)

This pattern is the oldest one I own (until I go rampant on Etsy or Ebay), and dealing with paper that is nearly 70 years old can will have some negative impact on the pattern pieces. It is highly advisable to make copies of all pieces and the sewing description (use a photocopier for the latter). This allows you to enjoy your pattern multiple times without it turning to dust between your fingers. I must admit, the very first time I used a vintage pattern, I was so eager to get started it didn't even cross my mind that I should not be pinning and abusing the poor old paper. Although I treated it with care, I noticed how easy it would tear and all the pinmarks were rather unsightly.

So! This pattern will not suffer, and so I have now traced all the pattern pieces onto ordinary household paper for wrapping foods. There is of course proper pattern/tracing paper out there, or you could get some examination table paper if you're chummy with your GP :) I am going to get some "pro" paper, but for now, I play the part of novice. That's my story, and I am sticking with it!

It doesn't really matter what you use, as long as it is sheer enough so that the pattern pieces shows through.
My roll of paper is only 15" wide, obviously too narrow for bigger pieces, like full skirts. But fear not, just tape two (or more) strips together lenghtwise, and you'll be golden.
Before I started drafting my piece, I very carefully ironed it on a mid heat setting (no steam!!!). I also ironed my household paper so it would lay flat (do this before any taping!). Don't press down on your board, just smoothly glide your iron over it once. The ironing makes the paper a little static so it will cling on to your table. This is a good thing.

Now, just lay the pattern piece on your table, and then the tracing paper on top, taped side down. Many markers will not write on tape, or will smear off. Use a felt tipped pen (or just an ordinary pencil). I found that ballpoint pens sometimes leaves little blobs of ink that takes forever to dry, and then there's ink where you least want it.......

Finally, you trace away! The before-mentioned static electricity in the paper holds it nicely in place, and I had no issues with shifting while drafting. Use a ruler (if you haven't got an insanely steady hand) for all your straight lines. Do your best on the curves :) (I want one of these)
Tip: if you struggle with curves, it helps to rest your forearm on your work surface, and move your hand just at/from the wrist.

Be sure to get all the markings (dots, notches, lines, instructions etc.) onto your pieces. I also wrote on all pieces the pattern name (McCall 7000), in case I one day get the urge to start mixing and matching patterns.
After your done, pop all your originals back into the envelope and pickle in your stash forever :)
That's basically it! I'm sure there are other, more ingenious ways of doing this, but this worked for me.

If I haven't bored you all to death yet, be sure to check back later.
I'll be starting on my (first ever) muslin!

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Challenge fabric score!!

It is slowly coming together, the bits and bobs for the challenge!
So the pattern I decided to sew up, was of course the lovely yoked dress from 1947.

I have other nice dress patterns in my stash, but I wanted something not collared or shirtwaisted, nor evening/party-esqe. Or very summery. Winter is fast approaching over here in Norway-land, and I know I will want to wear this piece in near future (if I can pull it off, that is...)
This pattern features three different sleeve options (long, short and 3/4) cuffed or hemmed. Front yoke with topstitching and gathering, jewel neckline, two waist darts and two in the back. Optional pockets. And best of all, button down front, which means no zipper. *happydance*

Went to my local fabric store today just to see if I could make my mind up on what kind of fabric to use for my dress. I spent all of Friday night trawling online shops for some, but came up with nothing. I knew I ideally wanted something in muted plaid, either in browns and mustard, greens or plum-ish. I saw plenty of other fabrics I would gladly hoard for my stash, but decided to slam on the brakes, and ONLY buy what i needed. Hence, no online shopping. *sulk*

The store had several options on 100% cottons, but nothing that really turned me on, so to speak. But suddenly, in a bottom row, there was this nice plum grid over powder pink, light, supersoft "baby corderoy". Perfect for a cosy autumn dress! And best of all, only 33 NOK, or about $5 or £3.50 a yard, which in Norway is about as cheap as cheap gets! I bought six yards along with some powder pink cotton voile for lining.

I am really not sure how the lining will behave along with the other cotton. I fear bunching between layers, but one will not learn, until one tries :) I asked the lady at the store, and she encouraged me to have a go. Easy for her to say. I am the one facing possible public ridicule! If it turns out really stupid, I'll just replace it after the challenge. *smug*

Only thing missing now, is buttons. I am hoping to just stumble over some vintage ones, but if this fails, I have some back-up-options. I am also pondering on whether or not I should do the yoke and cuffs in a contrasting solid. We'll see along the way :)

I am ready!

Have you joined the challenge yet? Hope to see you there!

Friday, 23 August 2013

It's getting challenging!!

I have been very excited over the last couple of days. Why?
Oh, I'll tell you why :) (as if the button didn't give it away!)
I've signed up for my very first sewing challenge!!
The awesome crafty queens Tasha and Rochelle are throwing a sewing party, and we're ALL invited!

It is such a great initiative, especially for us who are new to this sewing and blogging and photography-sharing business. We get to meet new people, get help and inspiration, discover new patterns and fabrics, learn new skills, and have lots of fun in the process. Somebody even mentioned that there are prizes at the end of it all, and its not even a contest! Woot :)

The theme of this challenge is cotton. Which is so great, because cotton is unbelievably diverse. Before I started to look into it, I never realized just how many different qualities of cotton there were. There's denim, canvas, gauze, muslin, jersey, satin, corderoy.. and the list just goes on and on. Seems there's a lot to get ones brain around when trying to find the right fabric :)

But what is cotton itself?
Here are some fun facts:

  • Cotton is a soft fluffy staple fibre that grows in a protective capsule, surrounding the seeds of  cottonplants.
  • These fibres are almost pure cellulose.
  • The plant belongs in the genus Gossypium, in the mallow family, a group that consists of around 50 different species.
  • The origin of the genus is dated to be around 5-10 million years ago.
  • The genus is found in arid to semiarid regions of the tropics and subtropics.
  • Humans have been using cotton fibres for fabric since prehistoric times. Fragments of cotton fabric dated from 5000 BC have been excavated in Mexico and modern day Pakistan and India.
  • Current estimated world production of cotton is 25 million tonnes annually. 
  • The worlds largest cotton producer is China
  • The worlds largest cotton exporter is the United States. 
A beautiful cotton flower (gossypium herbaceum)

The history of civilizations use of cotton (and other fibres for textiles) is quite interesting, and is available many places online, for example here or here for starters.

Ready for picking
(Photo by Johnny Crawford)

If you haven't heard of this awesome challenge yet, pop over to Fall for cotton on Flickr and join the fun!!
What are you going to sew next?
See ya ;)

Goodies that crossed time and space..

Some of them more than others, but YAY!
Finally my latest Ebay purchases are here! All the way from America, to ME, here in tiny Norway :)

I have to admit, browsing for vintage sewing patterns have become one of my favourite pass times since I discovered sewing. The detailing and fit on "oldenday" garments are just so flattering, and I find myself drawn to fashions of the 40s. So feminine, elegant, and rather sexy without the need to show alot of skin. I have to say, I prefer it to nowadays fashion. It seems I can never find something ready-made that fits comfortably while being practical at the same time (and if I do, it's nothing remotely feminine or elegant). Don't even get me started on modern pants... Low waisted, slim fitted, crotch-imposing, hellish little garments. Ack.

However; In the middle of the little bunch below there is the Simplicity Retro pattern #3688. It contains pattern for a garment also know as the Yipppee-trousers over at lovely Debi's blog where I first saw it. Can't wait to try this pattern!

As you can see, there's a nice mix of styles from different eras. There's some beautiful victorian/steampunkish patterns (Butterick #5265 and #4954, and Simplicity #2207), that will some day be turned into riding attire (yes, you read that correctly, and yes, it involves a big furry animal). There's a 70s slip pattern from Sew Lovely, a Kwik Sew knit top pattern (prob. 80s), Butterick #4792 a 50s full skirt dress with adorable jacket. And then, the cherry on top; 1947 Mc Call dress pattern!! *Squee*

This one has got to be my absolute favorite of this batch. I don't know if I love it this much because it's pretty or the fact that it is 66 years old. I wonder who she were, the gal that bought this new. I like to think she was an awesome, stylish woman!

Have you gotten any "new" goodies in the mail lately? And what is your favourite pattern? I'd love to hear about it!

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Ham and sausage..? No, not low carb diet.

As a newbie in the sewing univers, you bump into alot of stuff you never knew you needed.
I have always detested ironing shirts, because being a perfectionist I could never iron a shirt to my own standard. Hence, my wardrobe has contained very few shirts and blouses. And the few that DO live in my closet, never gets to come out for a spin. Because...well, they're wrinkly.

After starting to sew, my attraction to shirts has become a bit too much to ignore. And with all kinds of swoon-worthy vintage blouse patterns, I have actually decided that I will topp off my closet with items like these. I am happy to report that blouse #1 is nearing its completion, and will have a post of its own shortly.

However, during this sewing endevour (you know, being a pro, and iron all your seams...), I wound up in several fights with my iron, and thought "-am I really this useless with this contraption, or are there aids to help?"  (Yes, giggle all you want.) I then got wind of some wonderful stuff called a Tailor`s ham and sausage!

Did a quick search, and ended up using a great tutorial, this Tilly and the buttons blogpost on how to make these highly usable items for your pressing and steaming of hard to reach places.
The tut was really easy and quick, with free downloadable patterns, which is always nice.
I made mine from a thick cotton fabric, stuffed with woodshavings.

The hardest part is the stuffing. You really want to make sure to get them so hard packed that they don't crease or distort when used. I actually stuffed those mothers, till my fingers bled... But all worth it, steaming those nooks and crannies have never been easier, and I am sure they will be very useful in my future tailoring attemps, too (which is what they are really for).

A big thank you to Tilly and guest writer Kristiann Boos of Victory Patterns for making my life easier!

Suddenly there was a new blog on the block!

Hello world!

It is filled with complete and utter confusion that I am making my very first blogpost. My name is Siri, and I am too, a compulsive sewist. I have a love for all things old, so sewing my own clothes from vintage patterns has become a substancial part of my sparetime life. I have no previous experience or training as a seamstress, complete novice!
I intend to blog mostly about my sewing experimentations, but there might be the odd ponderings about life.

Stay tuned, and thanks for checking in :)