Tag Archive | fitting

Bad Habits – Cutting Corners And Skipping Steps

'Gee, I don't know. Can I see this in another mirror?'

I did something that I have not done in at least 15 years. I went to the store, picked out 6 pairs of denim pants in my size, took them to the fitting room, tried each pair on, selected the pair that had the most acceptable fit of the six, then purchased that pair of pants. This experience got me thinking about several things.

First, why was I buying Ready To Wear (RTW) pants?

As you can tell from the recent slow down in the frequency of my blog posts, life happens, and the only sewing that I have been able to do recently is a little mending here and there. Thankfully I knew quite awhile ago just when these life changes were coming.

life-change-aheadBecause of that I took the precious little sewing time that I still had left to make myself a couple of new pairs of work pants, but I did not get a pair of casual denim pants made before my time ran out. At the time, this was fine. It was still summer, and I was wearing shorts on my days off, but it’s starting to get colder now, and I need long pants to wear most days. Because of this I had to make a decision, either quickly whip up a pair of denim pants cutting as many corners as possible to save time, or to head to the store to  purchase a pair of denim pants. I choose the later.

My  first thought when I decided to purchase a pair of pants instead of making them was the famous minion refrain ”WWHHAATTT?!?” “You’re a seamstress! You have the tools, the fabric, and the notions! Get your butt in there and sew yourself a new pair of pants!”

'I knew there was part of the pattern missing!'

But, with the very little time that I had available to make the pants, I would have had to cut every corner possible to get them done in time. I would not have washed and pre-shrunk the fabric. I would not have finished the seams properly or completely, and I wouldn’t hem the pants to the proper length either. I would have just rolled the hem under and hope that it stayed with a quick ironing or a big safety pin.

This lead my next thought to be, “Is this really the way you want to sew something? Do you want to do a poor sewing job just to get the item done in the time you have available?” The answer was easy for me. No! I did not want to wear a pair of pants that were sewn that way!

deadlines-1p2cpw7There was a time long ago when I first started sewing that I sewed only for the end result, regardless of how poor of a job that I did. When I first started sewing, my mom, who is a advanced and skilled seamstress, trying to encourage me, would say, “Oh, it should only take 30 minutes for you to make that t-shirt”, or “You’ll have that dress whipped up in an hour.” She was trying to let me know that sewing was fun, quick and easy and, in no time at all that I would have a finished wearable item.

But, I misinterpreted my mom words at the time! I made sewing a timed event. When it took me 2 days instead of 2 hours to sew something, I figured I was a failure and that I was doing something wrong, so to compensate I would try to sew the item too quickly, cut corners, and skip steps to complete the project in the allotted time.

02d0fcf10d4a027a72e27973cf29abc7My goal was only to get the item finished in the proper amount of time. When I finally figured out that every sewing project did not have a deadline, and that I could take the time that I needed to complete a project properly, I enjoyed sewing a lot more. Sewing became fun and I began to enjoy the process, plus my finished items were of a much higher quality and they wore a lot better.

Another reason that I was willing to cut corners and skip steps to get the finished item completed quickly, was that when I was first starting to sew I grew tired and bored of a project. I just wanted it to be done and over with so that I could start on another project. I would often say “I should really unpick this and sew this again, but I’m not going to. I will just do better on the next project.” I quickly learned that when I did this, I was not pleased with the finished item, and I was not enjoying the sewing process at all because I knew I could have sewn it better.

SLIGHTLY Irregular Designer Jeans.

So, when it came to going back to poor sewing habits just to complete a pair of pants, I decided that I would rather use the little time I had to carefully sew a few seams on a current project, or thoughtfully plan a future project, or, if I just needed to sew,  I would just make a baby sleeper or two. For a needed pair of pants though, I would just see what the Ready To Wear world had available for me instead. I would leave the poor sewing in my past.

Hopefully, life will change again soon, and I will have more sewing time available to me in the future!

Until then, sew forth and enjoy the process on!

Being Biased – Part 3 – Button Fitting

DSCN1300I believe I have fallen in love with bias tape.

Even though, I had a number of trial and tribulations in the making of and the sewing on of the bias tape with these tops, I can see were bias tape can be a fun accent to many sewing projects and I can’t wait to start another bias tape project.

But before I do that I needed to finish these cross back summer tops before the summer has ended so that the girls can actually get some use out of them.

All I needed to do to finish them was to add buttons and buttonholes to the back of the tops and they would be done and ready to wear.

Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? Well, I wish would have been as easy as it sounded.

DSCN1303I knew when I cut this pattern out that this pattern does not have a true side seam. I did not think it was going to be a big deal, but it was!

The backs are cut so that the shoulder and side seams are towards the front of the top. There is no seam directly under the armscye or on the shoulder. It is just to the side of the armscye and front of the shoulder.

This pattern also has no indication of where the buttonholes should be placed. So, when it came time for me to determine where to sew the buttonholes and buttons, I had some guessing to do. DSCN1304

I started the guessing by trying to determine where the true side seam would have been on these tops. Should the back come towards the front of the top a little, like 1/2 inch, or a lot, like 2 inches.

Next, I had to determine if the cross over should match at the top and leave a big “V” at the bottom of the back or should the “V” of the cross over be smaller by lowering the top. I spent hours measuring, folding, pinning, and deciding where to put the buttons and buttonholes.

I would think that I had it all ready to sew, then I decided that it wasn’t right and I would start again. After awhile even the husband grew tired of me showing him each variation that I tried. He tried to help, but I just could not make up my mind if I had it right or not. DSCN1302

Finally, I reached a point were I truly believed that I had it measured, folded and pinned where I wanted the buttons to be so I went to the sewing machine. I carefully sewed the buttonholes and buttons in place on both tops.

When I was done, I was quite pleased with myself until I held the tops up and the back curve of the cross over flopped down over one of the special buttons I had paid a lot of money for. Crap! The buttons needed to be higher on the top.

Now, how was I going to fix this? Version 2

My first thought to solve this problem was to sew a hook and eye to the curve which would attach the curve to the back of the top. This would keep the curve from flopping over but that did not work. When the curve tried to flop over, you could see the hook and eye and it looked worse than the flopping curve of the fabric.

My next thought was to use some velcro. As I went to sew the velcro on, the husband asked what I was doing. I showed him the flopping curve and how I was trying to fix it. He said to stop. He said that since girls were sisters they could keep an eye on each other’s backs when they were wearing the tops and if the curve flopped, they could fold a crease in the bias tape so that the curve would not flop as much. This seemed like a reasonable solution to the flopping curve, so I left it at that.

20150530_124144The REAL answer to this whole problem was to have the girls try the tops on before I placed the buttons.

I could have quickly determined where the “side” and “shoulder” seams should be, how big the “V” in the back should be and where the buttons needed to be. But, I had wanted the tops to be a surprise for them so I didn’t. Even though they had picked out the fabric, they did not know what I was making from it. Plus, with them not knowing what or when I was making something, there was less pressure to get the tops completed.

With that all in mind, I determined that the surprise and less pressure to get the items completed were not worth the button/buttonhole headache, and with this lesson learned, the next time I make something for the girls, there will be fittings during the process. Version 2

Upon receiving the tops, their mom says the girls like them and will wear them. I explained to their mom the button/floppy curve issue and she said it would not be a problem.

I don’t believe that the girls were nearly as excited about these tops as they were their fun vests or their Dr Who bags, but that is ok because I learned a lot from these tops both in the sewing process itself and in the process of sewing for others. 20150530_124000

And the next time I sew for the girls, I am getting them involved in the process.

No more surprises!

I want them to pick their own fabrics, colors and styles. I want to measure them so that I have the best fit, instead of using a year old measurement that their mom took (no offense to their mom), and I want fittings and alterations done during the sewing process.

I think I will learn even more sewing for them this way and they will have exactly what they want as well. Plus NO more guessing!

Until then, sew forth and bias tape on!

Getting My Kicks On Route 66

P1030839Not wanting to lose my sewing mojo, I decided to make a second shirt for the husband. With just a single change in mind of shortening the length of the pattern, I cut out the second piece of fabric. It is a brownish pique with less stretch that I had pulled out on my last trip to the stash. The fabric was a dream to work with and I loved sewing this shirt together.

I knew the minute that I saw the shirt just what design I wanted embroidered on it. I had been wanting to stitch this Route 66 at sunset design on something for a long time and that time was now. The husband wasn’t sure about my pick at first but I talked him in to it. Choosing the colors for the design was the difficult part. I wanted brown tones for it, but the husband kept selecting other colors instead. I could not believe he would want so much pink on his shirt, but I have learned over the years to listen to the husband when it comes to colors, and yes he was right again.

P1030834The design stitched up beautifully. I just love it. Although I like the colors that the husband had picked, this design could be done in any color scheme, browns, blues, purples. It is a very lovely design. I hope to use it again on something. It would look great on several future projects on my list.

After completing this shirt, the husband wore it and asked once again for it to be shorter in length. Once again I cut some off some of the length of the shirt and hemmed the shirt shorter but only made a note on the pattern rather than altering the pattern. I am afraid of shortening the pattern too much. I would much rather cut off any extra length than try to add more fabric to make it longer after the fact. The husband did not say anything about the back, and this actually concerned me. Once again by cutting off the P1030833length, I lost some of the large side slits and, now, without the extra in the back would sitting down in the the shirt be an issue? Luckily the answer was no, the husband has wore the shirt with the small side slits a few times now and has not complained about any sitting issues with it. I made a note on the pattern for next time to cut longer side slits on his next shirt. I can always make the slits smaller in the sewing process if needed.

Well, the husband now has two new better fitting shirts. I should make another and work on adjusting the length of the pattern but I am ready to move on to a new project or two. So it’s off on another sewing adventure for me! Wish me luck!

But What About Me?

Couple arguing over dietFor as much weight as I have lost, the husband has lost more. Don’t you just hate all males for being able to loose weight faster and easier than females? I am not jealous of him though, instead I am very proud of him. And, with that said, his clothes are fitting him like plastic garbage bags as well, but unlike me, this man does not have a stash of old skinny clothes that he could not part with to wear. So as I measured, altered, cut, and sewed me a few new shirts, a little green eyed monster appeared at my side and said, “Hey, where’s my new altered to fit shirt?”

Also unlike me, the husband has lost weight evenly all over his body. This made the altering of his shirt pattern much easier. He needs everything taken in all over and not just in certain areas like mine. So, I took some measurements from him and started at the top. Like mine, I took a small amount out of the shoulder seam at the neck and tapered it to the armscye. This moved the shirt in closer to his neck but still not enough in the front, so I added back a 1/2 inch to the front neck line as well. I did not need to alter the collar pattern piece though. The size of the collar on each of the husband’s shirts varies from shirt to shirt depending on the stretch of the fabric and the interfacing I used. When I make the husband a shirt, I usually end up altering the collar as I make the shirt so I did not need to change the collar size for now since it was still a good size.

I did adjust the facings to match the new neck line in front and the new shoulder seams so that facing would match the front of the shirt. The next alteration was to remove 1/2 inch from the entire side of all sides of the shirt including the armscye. I also took the 1/2 inch off each side of the sleeve to match the new armscye. The last alteration I made was to take some off the bottom and lift the side slits up a little, something I had learned was needed from the making of my new shirt. I was conservative with these alterations since I knew that after starting the sewing process, it would be much easier to cut more off the sides than to add some back to the sides.

P1030380Once again, I did the slit and fold method to apply the new cutting lines of the alterations so I did not destroy the original basic sloper pattern. I let the husband pick which fabric he wanted to use from my stash pictures. I told him to pick a fabric that he did mind not working out in case it was a failure. He picked this purple and black stripe. I wanted him to pick again because I really like the colors of this fabric, but it was what he wanted so I went ahead and used it. The cutting and sewing of the husband’s new shirt went smoothly.

The collar did not require any altering at all and I did not have to fight putting the collar on the new neck line. In fact, it was one of the easiest collars I have stitched on a shirt in a while. I talked the husband into trying on the shirt frequently during the sewing process to see if my alterations were coming out ok. He understood and tried the shirt on whenever I asked, even when it was loaded with pins.

P1030396Before adding the buttons, it was time to decide if I wanted to embroider a design on the shirt. I debated once again about whether it was worth the time and thread to embroider on the a shirt that might not fit correctly. I asked the husband if he wanted a design on this shirt. He answered me by asking what design I would put on it. Well, to me this purple and black striped fabric screamed for a Snoopy design to be embroidered on it. Of course, a lot of fabric screams for a Snoopy design to me, but the husband agreed and picked Snoopy at the typewriter for the embroidered design on this shirt.

The embroidering process went well and I think the Snoopy looks great on this shirt, but I am not sure if the husband agrees. He says that he does, but I just get that feeling that it’s not his favorite. Maybe my feeling on this are clouded by the fact that I really like the husband’s new shirt, the colors and the Snoopy design, so much that I am hoping that he does not like it and I can have it instead.

After adding the buttons, the shirt was officially finished and it was time for the wear test. The husband has wore the shirt a few times now and says it fits fine. I believe that it does but I need the husband to scrutinize the fit a little bit more before I trust it.

P1030399

The only way I know how to get him to do this is to bug him about it. When I repeatedly ask him about the fit, he rolls his eyes and tells me the shirt fits fine, so I have decided to stop asking him about the fit. He knows that if there is something that needs to be changed, he just has to tell me and that it will not hurt my feelings. I need to know these things so I can correct it on the pattern if necessary.

With that in mind though, I am not yet willing to make the changes to his basic sloper pattern permanently. I am going to let him wear the shirt a couple of more times to make sure there is nothing he wants changed on the pattern.

photo
And for you Marvel Comic Book fans out there yes that is indeed Stan “The Man” Lee with the husband and I at Comic Con this year while wearing the new purple snoopy shirt!

And even though I’m sure he would have rather it been Spider Man embroidered on it, Stan said he liked it anyway and that he was a huge Peanuts and Charles Shultz fan too!

Not Just Another Sewing Reference

I have several books in my sewing library. Most of them are sewing references that I turn to when I have a question on a technique or how to handle a particular type of fabric. Some of the books are there to inspire me when I can’t seem to decide what to sew next. But, the one thing that I have never done is read any of my sewing books cover to cover.

On a recommendation of a friend, I purchased The Colette Sewing Handbook by Sarai Mitnick. I planned to just file it on the shelf with my other sewing references waiting for the day that I needed it, but as I flipped through the book, I quickly realized that it was not really a reference book but more of a story about the process of sewing.

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After realizing this, I turned back to page one and started to read. The book took me step by step through the sewing process, starting with the tools needed to sew, how to handle different fabrics, fitting, altering and ending with designing your own clothes. It was a great read. Since I already knew how to sew, some of the information was a review, but some was new information to me and I learned a lot, especially in the chapters on fitting and altering clothes and patterns. The book also included basic patterns for a skirt, a blouse and a dress. They were not my style or size but they offered a good learning experience, and a chance to practice what the book was talking about. The book inspired me to get creative and start sewing outside of my comfort range. And, even though I have now read the book, it still has a home on my shelf along with my other sewing references. I will now use it as a reference book for when I need fitting and altering advice.

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So, if there are any seamstress’s out there looking for a good book to read to increase their sewing knowledge, I would heartily recommend this book to you.  Just be prepared that when you’re finished reading it, you will be ready to start creating. I am off now to check out some of my other sewing books, and see if there is some more good reading to be done.

And… ACTION!

I see where patterns are on sale again at Joanns and now that I have worn both of the shirts I made from my new Connie Crawford Butterick patterns, I thought I would report on the wearable muslins I ended up making from the patterns and how the garments/muslins are performing.

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B5503

The golden shirt I made from pattern B5503 is very loose and very comfortable and the fabric is so soft. It is a pleasure to wear but I do feel like I have a pup tent on sometimes. Even with cutting so much off the the length and width, it is still huge. This keeps me from wearing it to work or out to dinner but it has became one of my favorite hang around the house shirts. For some reason I’ve gotten tons of comments from people when wearing it about how much they love it so it must look ok on. As I said before, if and when I make this pattern again, I will use my basic sloper as the start and just use the design ideas from the pattern to spice up the shirt a little.

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B5583

The princess seams of pattern B5583 are wearing well. The first time I wore the shirt I was very self conscious of the princess seams. Would the princess seams show off my rolls that I so carefully try to hide? But, the more compliments I got on the shirt the better I felt about the way it looked. There are a couple of things that I will definitely change on the next shirt from this pattern. First, the front facings will be cut smaller. With such large front facings, I feel like the shirt has a steel breast plate in the front. The large facings make the front heavy and hot when wearing. Sitting becomes an issue too as thebreast plate bulges as you take a seat. Cutting down the facings next time will make this shirt a more comfortable fit. Next, for me the arms eye needs to be deeper. I feel a slight constriction when I reach in this shirt. This is an easy fix for the next shirt and it will make it easier to fit the sleeve in as well.  The final change is to take some of the fullness out of the back princess seams at the hem. I will need to give this some study before I make the cut on the next shirt. I may need that fullness to sit down in it.

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Embroidery

As far as embroidery designs go, check out the monorail design on the husband’s new shirt. Ooo, doesn’t he look sharp? It seems to be wearing very well and everyone including him seems to love it.