Monday, December 31, 2012

Sewing goals for 2012 - Review

I had done a blog post at the beginning of this year on the sewing related goals I had for 2012. Let's see what has happened to those goals - how many were accomplished, etc.

  1. Conquer my fear of doing a FBA -- I need a FBA. There's no escaping that. I need to conquer this beast first. PASS! I learnt to do the Y dart FBA advocated by Palmer Pletsch. and it's a fantastic technique.

  2. TNT for knit top - I prefer knit tops than woven, so comfy! And very forgiving compared to wovens. PASS! I started out with a Burda pattern..  then tried an Ottobre pattern - while it's not a TNT pattern yet, I have an almost workable one. I have discovered what other alterations, other than a FBA, I need to make... It can only get better from here.

  3. TNT pattern for knit dress - If I get a knit top TNT pattern, then this one would be easy. FAIL!  I got to the fitting of the knit top pattern only in December and didn't have time to work on this one.

  4. TNT pattern for a woven top - I'd like to make an Indian style salwar kameez/kurta for me and  a TNT woven pattern will help. FAIL!  Couldn't get to it. I have traced out a Burda tunic pattern and will be moving this to next year's goals.

  5. Make 12 knit tops this year as a part of TAM (1 top a month) - FAIL!! While I didn't make 12, I did make 1 top.

  6. Fix at least 20 garments - I have a lot of pants waiting to be hemmed, etc that are waiting on my Fix-It pile. 6 so far- while this is not a complete fail, I could have easily done more.

  7. Organize sewing area: Now that I have a place to sew, I would like to arrange / organize my sewing area. PASS! Done! Basement room taken over and found a cutting area, sewing area and a shelf. The stash has found a place in the linen closet upstairs.

  8. Take 2 sewing classes. PASS with flying colors! I took 4 classes - the serger class, the coverstitch machine class, the pants class and the zipper class!

  9. Learn to work on the coverstitch machine and serger (added serger to this list,now that I have one) PASS! I took 2 classes to learn how to use my machines - both CS and serger and have been using the machines as well.

  10. Learn how to do at least one type of zippers (either center zipper or invisible zipper) PASS with flying colors! I learnt to do 4 types of zippers - regular, lapped, invisible and fly front. Now I have to start installing them in my garments! I was so scared of zippers... not anymore!

  11. Learn to make at least 5 type of drafting alterations on a TNT top pattern (say, changes to necklines, etc). I made 2 alterations so far - changed the neckline from boat neck to scooped neckline, changed Ottobre pants pattern for DD from very wide to narrow,

  12. Watch 12 sewing related DVDs - DVDs are so much easier for me to learn than from books. PASS with flying colors! Here's a post I made on the 15 sewing related videos I have watched so far and enjoyed.
Wow!! 7 out of 12 ain't bad at all... So, Did I do anything else that wasn't in the plan? Any accomplishments?  Big purchases? Of course! :)
  1. Sewed my first ever pair of pants! Here's the journey:   part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4 and the final pants! And finding Burda pants pattern fit me well, made me super ecstatic!
  2.  Bought 3 machines - A Janome 644D serger, a Janome 1000 CPX coverstitch machine and a Viking Rose. All 3 were from Craigslist and in great condition. I do have enough machines now!!!
  3. Found a very nice local sewing group which is 25 mins drive from my place and became a member!Love the group!
  4. The very idea that zippers were not as scary as I intended them to be was a revelation. Of course, Almost everything looks impossible until done!
  5. I made a muslin for Mischief, my 6 yr old daughter, for a traditional Indian top that buttons up the back using a Burda pattern as a base. I think she has a broad back and needs a fitting adjustment. Either that, or I might have chosen the wrong size! In that case, I have to go up one size, and reduce her waist as it to 2-3 levels down. 
  6. I used my Burda magazines and Ottobre magazines! And the kicker is that the tracing was not hard at all!- So far a pair of pants for me and Mischief's tops that I mentioned above,
  7. I bought a dressform, again, off Craigslist from a sweet lady, who kept it in great condition, always covered it with a dust cover when not in use. The dressform is of the brand Diana, the smallest sized model which has exactly my shoulder size, neck size etc. I stuffed her up a bit. She's still not exactly my size but close enough.  Maybe someday I'll get to making her my shape. I do like having her around. 
  8. Made leggings (knit) for Mischief in many colors, Cheetah print was her favorite. This was an Ottobre pattern. Pictures to come soon.
  9. Made 3 pairs of flannel pajama pants (woven) for Mischief, 1 in reindeer fabric, red nose et al! :) The other 2 pairs are from a black flannel with rockets, etc. This pajama pattern was another  Ottobre pattern as well. Pictures to come soon.
Even though it felt that I haven't done any sewing and haven't made any progress, Seeing it all written down, makes me see that I have indeed come along way.

When I see other accomplished sewists produce some wonderful well fitting tailored garments, I felt 'Oh my, it's going to take me ages to get there'.. What I didn't realize is that it took them ages and tons of practice for them to get there as well. Baby steps, eh! Just one small step at a time..

Besides that, What else did I learnt this year?
As a person who lost her sewing mojo for years and has just found it back this year.. I have learnt
  • that it's okay to cut into fabric.
  • that it's okay to make mistakes
  • that cutting a fabric and making a mistake is much better than fabric aging in stash
  • that while a wearable end garment is good, the real fun is in planning what to make and tracing and cutting and sewing.. it's the journey to get there, not the destination. It's like going on a roller coaster... The fun is not in finishing it, but right when you are going through the ride.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

My first ever knit top - Burda pattern

I hit 2 and 1/5th of my yearly goals for this year, with this one top - the FBA, a TNT knit top and altering the neckline :) Yayyy!!!

I looked through my stash of Burda magazines for a scooped neck knit top pattern and couldn't find one. So, I found a knit top pattern from Burda 2004 - a boat neck top with a fancy tie-on back and figured if I could skip the tie-on back and alter the neckline, I'll have a pattern that I could use.

So I traced size 38 based on my upper bust measurements, skipped the ties on the back, extended the shoulder to 2 more inches, towards the neck and scooped out the neck, did a Y dart FBA (after watching this DVD a million times!). It turned out great for a first try and is better than the fit I get with RTW!

For the second muslin, these are the changes I'll be making:
  1. remove the sleeve cap ease a wee bit
  2. increase FBA to another 1/2 inch
  3. turn the sleeves into a sportier style ala polka dot overload 
  4. reduce the small neckline gape at the front by1/4 inch by using this tutorial by Phat Chick Designs.
There is also a 3/4 sleeve option for the same pattern which I might give it a try.

Update after making second muslin:
I removed sleeve cap height and tried the sleeve and didn't like it anyways. This time I also caught the fact that my sleeve was away from the armhole. Maybe sleeves of boatneck tops are made this way? And the fact that I used this as my base pattern is throwing a wrench? Maybe...

For the next round, I'd like to give Ottobre pattern a try. Or find a Burda pattern with armhole of the front bodice well scooped in..I also want to think about forward shoulder alterations...The shoulder seam seems to lie at the right place, but there's extra fabric in the front armhole area and the back armhole doesn't like fine either..

Friday, December 14, 2012

Sewing videos that I've watched this year

I am a very audio-visual person and find it hard to read from books. This is the reason why I had a goal of watching at least 12 sewing videos this year. And I watched much more than 12.

Every time I watched a video from beginning to end and enjoyed/learnt from it, I made a note of it. Here's the list of videos I watched this year.

DVDs: The first two are DVDS, both from Palmer Pletsch.

1. Fit for Real People - Basics 

This is a DVD based on the Fit for Real People Book - covering all the basics. Pants are not covered in this and there's a separate DVD for that. I enjoyed Marta Alto explaining FBAs and many more adjustments, without feeling rushed. Very well organized class and I highly recommend it.

2. Full Busted - Palmer Pletsch

This DVD is absolutely fantastic! Again FBA was explained well, but what benefited me the most is the Y dart FBA. This FBA has been there even before Palmer Pletsch advocated it, but these ladies took that and made it even simpler and easier! Shams wrote a great review for this DVD and that made me buy this DVD right away. GREAT buy! Thanks Shams.

Free online videos (Youtube/ Threads)
Most of the videos that I watched this year are from youtube. There's tons of information out there from people who gladly share their knowledge for free. Thank you, awesome people! I have learnt some new skills because of you.

3.Sewing Lining into a Sleeveless Dress by Colleen G Lea 

What I love about this video is that she makes lining a sleeveless dress so easy - so easy that even the beginner me can understand. And no handsewing.

4. Sewing a sleeveless dress with lining: Trena, the slapdash sewist also has explained a similar method in her video. The detailed tutorial can be found here.

The difference between Colleen's method and Trenas is that Trena sews the shoulder seam at the beginning and Colleen sews it at the end. I enjoyed learning about both of these methods.

5. Sandra Betzina's Fly Front Tutorial from Threads. I cannot embed this video here, but clicking on the link will take you there. It's really easy, the way she shows it. This method does not have a fly shield and is a leftie fly like men's pants.

6. Fly front zipper by Trudy  of Hot Patterns

Trudy learnt her technique from Sandra's video and added to it, with a fly shield and moving the zipper off the seamline!  love both these additons.

7. Colleeen G Lea's Fly Front Technique

Colleen's method is similar to Trudy's, by keeping the zipper off the seamline. She does this neatlyby folding the underlap into half. Neat! It is missing the fly shield but I can borrow that bit from Trudy's! Her delivery of the technique seems so simple and easy to remember than Trudy's.

8. Colleen G Lea's Sewing facing to curved necklines

Easy peasy!

9. Tiina Keller's Yoke Pants

This is a course taught by an instructor at the West Valley College. Interesting to watch her sew with an industrial machine - the whole pant is done in less than an hour! By yoke pants, they do mean a pair of pants with contour waistband!The Westvalley has other interesting sewing related videos as well.

10. Sewing a contour / curved waistband by Trudy of Hot Patterns

Part 1 

Part 2

Again she makes it very easy.

11. Colleen G Lea's Sewing concave and convex seams

I learnt how to sew curved seams using this tutorial. Clip, clip, clip away.. the more you clip, the easier it will be to sew and the seams won't pucker!

12.  Janome -Sewing invisible zipper / concealed zipper

This is a technique I learnt in my zipper class, but I like to watch this tutorial if only to figure which is the right and wrong side of the zipper!

13. Colleen G Lea's Sewing darts using masking tape

A masking tape to keep the dart line straight is genius! She also shows how to mark the darts using thread tacking.

14. How to fix the crotch wrinkles in pants by Glenda Sparling of SureFit System

I randomly chanced upon this video, without searching for pants fit or how to remove wrinkles.. It just landed on my youtube side bar.. Some might say, it's google invasive nature, but I'd say, Serendipity, just for this instance! As this is the exact fix I need to fix my pants. I do now understand why I get the wrinkles.. The full tummy, eh!  Glenda has a lot of free fitting videos. Her  instructions are so clear and the videos are of good quality and clarity!

15. Peggy Sagers Video on using French curve: 

I cannot embed this video on the blog, clicking on the link ill take you there. This one taught me how to really use the French curve, esp. the measurements on the curves!

Pictures of the Pants I made!

Here are the pictures from the result of my pants construction class. You can read about the classes here: part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4

Sorry for the bad quality of pictures due to poor light! My 6 yr old took it on a gloomy morning and we were in a rush to do it. I have lightened up the pictures to be able to see the fit. I don't wear a top that short, but pulled it up for the pictures to help analyze the fit better. And yes, remember to ignore the tummy flab!  And yes, that's a safety pin instead of a button on the waistband. Like I said, this is just a muslin. ;)


The problems I see here, by looking at the pictures, are
  • This was supposed to be a pair of straight pants but it ended up looking like a bootcut because during the fitting, we kept taking in a lot of fabric at the seams and the seam line wasn't so straight anymore. I like straight pants or even bootcut pants which break in much above the knees and widen out from there to the floor. Here the bootcut seems to break in at the knee, thereby emphasizing the thighs.
  • Too much circumference - I used size 42, whereas I would have done much better with 40. The crotch seam was too loose at the front and I had to take in a lot and still have lot of fabric left near the crotch. Hence the wrinkles.One size smaller would have helped. 
  • Too much crotch length esp, under fly front - need to take out a wedge right under the fly front and tapering to the side seam.
Good things I can say about this:
  • I had no idea I'd like the slant pockets this much! Love it, love it, love it! It is very convenient to keep the cellphone. I usually put my cellphone in my cabinet, once I reach office.. and no one can ever ever ever reach me after that, as the phone is in silent mode. The pockets changed all that! Plus, the slant pockets are very sleek.
  • I am not as big as I thought I was!

Nope, I am not going to share unflattering pictures of my back! You got to take my word when I say here are the problems I had, with the back fit:
  • When taking in at the front crotch seam line, I ended up taking in some length from the back crotch too just to be able to sew that seam. And this resulted in weird wrinkles. Those wrinkles weren't there until I took the seam in. And it pulls in a bit when I walk. Not liking that part AT ALL! 
  • The crotch seam hangs low.. Next time I would shorten the length of the pants, about an inch, midway or at 3/4rth of the fly front zipper!
Good things I can say about that::
  • The crotch curve fits!  yayy!!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Pants making class - part 4

Read about part 1, part 2, and part 3.

Finally done! I'm thrilled with my first ever pair of pants! :) The fit is pretty okay too. No, I still didn't like the straight waistband. After wearing contour waistband for years, straight waistband just feel so wrong. And I can see now, by looking at the pictures where what can be improved.. But overall, the fit was okay. So, It can only get better from here if I move from straight waistband to contoured.

Today's class had me serge the seams and add the waistband and get the hems done. We cut off half an inch from waist area and some from the waistband to be able to get the waistband, a tiny bit below my belly button. So yes, reducing the crotch length like I wanted to, would have worked much better.

When I was stitching in the ditch, on the waistband from the right side, I missed a small area where the seam allowance was peeking outside. That was the area where my stitches were perfectly under the ditch.. yikes! Seam ripper to the rescue and I resewed the seams. And guess what? I made the same mistake again. Quite annoyed with myself, I ripped the seam this time,  undoing the waistband seam as well... Yikes! :( I will not make THIS mistake ever again. Third time was a charm and it worked out well.

What I loved about the Pants making class: Agnes has a very lively (but certainly not over the top) personality and works with each student one on one. That's the best part of the class. There was no session in which all of us were asked to crowd around the table for her to explain a technique. That would have made us feel very hurried as each one of us were in different levels and doing different things. I'm glad she explained the construction techniques to each one of us separately based on what we were doing at the time. In spite of missing the part 1 class, I was able to easily catch up with the rest of the classmates, The class never felt hurried. And every one of us took home a finished pair of pants.

If you are interesting in learning construction techniques, this is a good class. If you need some social sewing time or need a structured class to get you off your butt and start sewing, this is a good class. But if you already know your pants sewing basics and want to improve fit,  this is not it! Look elsewhere.