29 July 2010

The &$*#%@ Hot Patterns 1099 Collar

Hot Patterns, I am not a fan.

Any sewer who knows me knows that I have been on a seemingly endless journey in trying to make woven blouses fit my 'cups that runneth over' (thanks Lareine in NZ). I have used countless yards of muslin and tried nine different patterns only to be disappointed each time.

Having read Michellep74 and Debbie Cook's reviews of HP 1099, I decided to give it a try. I had already tried nine patterns, why not round out the list to ten?

Using my full bust measurement, I traced and cut a straight size 16. To my delight, the shirt almost fit.

I was shocked. You just don't understand how looooooong of a process this has been. Muslin after muslin after muslin. Fit this. Pinch that. Take this in. Let this out. Nope. Fail.

I finally had a pattern that fits with minimal adjustments. To help relax the pulling at the apex level, I added just a tiny bit to the side front pattern piece and pinned in the princess seams on the back.

Thinking this pattern would be a TNT blouse pattern, I wanted to test the fit in a stretch woven. I would like to have blouses in stretch and non-stretch wovens so it seemed natural for this to be the next step.

I cut out the pieces using a nice stretch woven pinstripe I picked up from Vogue Fabrics last year. I used my good no-longer-available-for-purchase interfacing and proceeded with construction.

Ummmm...no. This is not right. I figured that the collar and lapel were to be attached, but I didn't know how. You see, there were absolutely positively NO markings on either the collar, facing, or center front of the pattern. None. Zero. Additionally, the instructions were as useful as sunscreen on the planet Mercury.

Hot Patterns makes the disclaimer that their patterns are designed for those who have some sewing knowledge. Okay. I get that. But damn, can I get a dot, notch, triangle, or something? I consulted books, magazines, the internet, and other patterns to see what was missing and where. My research showed that there are supposed to be collar dots, neck dots, and notches to help match the pieces as well as instruct you on where to stop/start sewing, pivot, and clip. Was any of this included in the pattern? Nope. Is it too much for me to ask of these things? I don't think so.

I started a discussion on Pattern Review to see what other information I could find. Many thanks to Michellep74 for interrupting her sewing queue to include another version of the HP top. She posted detailed pictures along with commentary for each step. Additionally, other PR members chimed in with their tips. If you ever decide to try this shirt or any other HP pattern with a notched collar, do check out the discussion. I found it extremely useful and, after six tries, I finally got the collar attached.

The sleeves on this pattern are another nightmare. According to the instructions blurbs that appear on the pattern sheet, the sleeves are supposed to be sewn in flat. That is not going to happen as there is an enormous amount of ease in the sleeve cap. I took out 0.75 inches of width and pinched in four (!!!) pleats using 0.5-inch folds to get the sleeve cap length to match the armhole.

Meh. It's okay, but not the look I wanted. Unreal.

I have non-stretch woven out of which I will cut the next version of this pattern. This won't happen until I figure out the sleeve issue. I have enough of this blue pinstripe to cut out more sleeves if necessary. No more wasting the good stuff!

This experience has soured me on anything Hot Patterns. Really. I've heard other uninspiring tales about their instructions for other patterns. I like their styles and I am all about supporting independent pattern companies. Yet, I tread with caution because I do not have the patience to spend many hours on something that is not drafted properly or is missing match points.

Whew. What a rant! I don't mean to sound so negative; I just want a shirt that fits. To have come this far only to have my efforts thwarted by a freakin' collar and a poorly drafted sleeve just doesn't seem right!

Until next time,


25 July 2010

Jalie 2561: Part 2 (fitting the back) & Zipper Construction

Fitting the Back
Since I can't find any pictures of the back, I took a look at the pattern pieces again. For some reason, I thought fitting the back was much more involved. I must be confusing this fitting series with that of Jalie 2908 which (after five...yes...five muslins) still doesn't fit.

The backs of my thighs aren't as muscular as the front so trouser pants end up being too baggy in this area. To remove some of the fullness, I took out 0.75 inches of width by using the same alteration as the front. The procedure is exactly the same, except you overlap the intersection instead of spread it apart.

The back crotch curve wasn't too bad out of the envelope. Usually, I have to add some length to the curve for all that trunk junk. Since I am using the wider waistband that comes with this pattern, I didn't see any problems. I did scoop the crotch curve a little at the 'hook' part of the curve.

I am having a serious moment. I started sewing the pants a couple of days ago and have reached a point in the construction where my frustration level is near its maximum. Everything was going smoothly until I encountered the zipper insertion. Normally, I don't have much trouble with fly front zippers but the method Jalie uses in this pattern has me stumped and on the verge of swearing profusely.

I should have known that trouble was brewing when I saw that the outer and inner seams were sewn before the zipper was inserted. Additionally, I should have paid more attention to the fact that the fly front is not cut-on. In other words, you have to sew the fly front and facing to the center front. This creates unnecessary bulk and since my fabric ravels like crazy, this also creates unnecessary headaches.

Having faith that the instructions would lead to beautiful results, I proceeded. I was wrong. I had to pick out the zipper twice. I got so far as attaching the waistband and trying on the pants. Hot. Ass. Mess. I really wanted to enter these into the Natural Fibers Contest on PR, but I can't do it with the zipper looking like this.

So out comes the seam ripper. I took out the zipper and un-stitched the side seams. I also cut another fly front and sewed it to the right front pants with the intention of using Sandra Betzina's Fly Front Tutorial.

I inserted the zipper, again. Strike Two. Hot. Ass. Mess. Again. I don't know what's going on, but this just isn't working. I am using a really nice 100% tropical wool and I don't want to waste the fabric. I will try one more time, but I am about to go ballistic.

Sigh. Sadly after all of this work and five muslins, this project may not happen out of this fabric. If the next attempt at inserting the zipper does not work, I am going to retire this project and try again later. Much later.

Do you have moments like this? If so, what do you do to overcome them?


24 July 2010

Jalie 2561: Part 1 (fitting the front)

I am still on the hunt for good fitting pants. As with woven blouses, I've tried a number of patterns. Up to now, my favourite pants pattern was Vogue 8157. Having made several versions, I could not shake the thought that something was not quite right about the fit. The last pair I made fit terribly and have since been donated to charity.

I came upon Jalie 2561 after meeting a lady named Marie at PR Weekend in Montreal.

We were both amazed at the similarities in our hips, thighs, and legs. She told me that this pattern fit well with minimal alterations. So, naturally, I had to try it.

I am the self-proclaimed muslin queen. I will make a muslin...no...several muslins before I cut into my fashion fabric. Instead of using regular cotton muslin, I dug through my need-to-get-rid-of fabric and found a medium-weight polyester fabric with 1" pinstripes. Why I had four yards of this stuff is a mystery. But, it proved to be quite useful in making the muslin.

I traced and cut a straight size W according to the measurement at the fullest part of my hips. Before sewing the muslin, I removed 3 inches of length for my height. The pinstriped fabric helped to reveal several problems:
  • the pinstripes were not vertical along the front of my thighs; instead, they curved toward the inseam
  • the side seam was not perpendicular to the floor
  • the back showed diagonal wrinkles pointing toward the inseam
  • the pants were tight across the fullest part of my thighs
  • the area near the waist seam appeared to be too long
I roller skate, run, bike, and lift weights a lot and, as a result, have very full front thighs. This causes a problem because pants and skirts often get hung up on my thighs. The pattern as drafted did not have enough room to accommodate this fullness.

To determine just how much room I needed, I cut the muslin (on both legs) vertically along one of the pinstripes. The vertical cut begins about an inch or so below the waistband seam and stops just above the knee.

When I did this, everything literally fell into place. The side seam was now perpendicular to the floor and most (not all) of the back wrinkles went away. I am no expert pants fitting, but I think the back wrinkles were caused by the front borrowing fabric from the back to accommodate the front thigh fullness. Maybe this is why all the pull happened at the inseam.

I measured the spread created by the cut to be about 1 3/8 of an inch. I transferred this adjustment to the pattern by using a method similar to the full bicep alteration. The idea is to create vertical and horizontal space in the shape of a diamond. Here's what I did:

1. Draw a line parallel to the grainline from the waistband seam all the way down to the hem. (If your grainline is the line you want to use, draw a second line parallel to this and use this new line as your grain.)

2. Since the alteration affects only the thigh area, I divided the front into two pieces: an upper and lower half. Draw a line perpendicular to the grainline about an inch or so above the knee. On the upper half, draw another line perpendicular to the grainline about an inch or so below the crotch point. Mark the seam allowance at the end of each line drawn.

upper half with lines drawn

lower half

3. Starting at the point of intersection, snip into the pattern along both the vertical and horizontal line. Add the desired amount of width along the vertical line. To help keep the pattern flat, overlap the pattern along the horizontal line.

(Subsequent muslins of the front showed that this alteration creates curvature in the hip area long the side seam. This can be a good thing or bad thing depending on how your outer hips are shaped. I straightened out the curve a bit in my latest pattern alteration. In the fashion fabric, I may tweak it a bit to add some of the curve back in. )

Now notice that the waist seam and the crotch point are not flat.

To make each area lie flat, I snipped into the pattern and adjusted as needed. The waist seam was harder to reconcile. I ended up cutting through the seam allowance and adding about 0.375 inches of width.

4. Add paper and true all seamlines. I managed to keep the width the same at the place where I rejoin the upper and lower fronts.

5. Finally, rejoin the upper and lower fronts.

I cut out one or two more muslins of the front to check the fit. After playing around with different sewing seam allowances, I became satisfied with the fit. The back, however, was a different story. I'll have to include those details in the next post. Unfortunately, I can't find the pictures of the back, so Part 2 may not be as photo heavy.



23 July 2010

New Look 6300 and Other Stuff

First, the other stuff...
I've been going through a lot lately with trying to take care of some family business. Though there appears to be no end in sight, I do have a bit of direction on what to do next. As such, blogging about my sewing adventures has taken a serious hit in the priority column.

To help keep my mind fresh and on non-drama related things, I have decided to make a much more conscious effort to update this blog more frequently. I've started with a brand new redesign of the page (thanks Blogger!) and the inner workings of one of my latest sewing projects, New Look 6300.

Non-related random thought: I am listening to Deep Waters by Incognito. Sooo...soothing.

Next, New Look 6300...

I've been contemplating entering the summer wardrobe contest on PR. Though I have not officially entered or followed the discussion, I put together some fabrics and patterns and have started sewing. To date, I've completed three garments, made a muslin for one, and have two others cut out and ready to sew. I don't know that I'll finish the whole wardrobe, but I'm not pressed. I really want to enter the Natural Fibers Contest on PR for this year's American Sewing Expo. I hope to get the muslin for the jacket done this week. Anyway, back to the skirt.

First I have to say that NL 6300 is my go-to pattern for A-line skirts. It is so simple to construct (four pieces total) and is well drafted. I cut a straight size 16 and added a wedge of 1.25 inches at the center back. I have a full seat and the extra length is needed to help keep the hem level. Y'll know what I'm talking about. Don't you just hate it when skirts hike up in the back? RTW skirts always 'tent out' because there isn't enough length or width to accommodate all that trunk junk.

You have a choice in what to do about the curvature in the center back seam. You can either true it and add a little bit of width at the waist seam or leave it alone. I chose to leave it alone. I figure the curvature will help go over the trunk junk.

A burn test revealed that the fabric is a polyester & wool blend. The houndstooth fabric has a nice weight, but is a tad itchy. Instead of using the fashion fabric for the facings, I cut them out of a remnant of a stretch cotton shirting I had lying around. The colour matches the houndstooth perfectly.

Linings help to extend the longevity of a garment as well as aid in minimizing wrinkling. Since this pattern doesn't include a lining, I added one using this Thread's article. This is the only technique I use to line my skirts. I think it is foolproof and very simple. Here's what you do:

1. Assemble the shell as normal including stitching the darts and inserting the zipper.
2. Cut the lining fabric from the skirt pieces. The lining should be shorter than the shell.
3. Assemble the lining in the same fashion as the shell. Of course, do not insert a zipper. =)
4. Assemble the facing pieces and finish the lower edge of the facing.
5. Treat the lining-facing piece as a single unit and attach to the skirt as normal.

Be sure to understitch, trim the seam, and clip the curves as normal. Turn the facing to the inside and press. Slightly roll the facing to the inside. This helps to create a nice smooth and uniform
edge and helps to keep the facing edge of the seam from peeking out.

For fun, I decided to bind the lower edge with a rust/brown single-fold bias tape. I debated using cream bias tape but thought that would be too matchy-matchy. I like the contrast a lot better.

For some reason (probably user error), I have difficulty making the pre-pressed folds work for me when using purchased bias tape. So I pressed out all of the folds. I stitched the bias tape RST using a 0.25-inch seam. Then I trimmed the seam to an eighth of an inch, flipped the tape over, pressed, and edgestitched in place.

The only thing that remains is the hem. I'm trying to debate if I want to include the vent or not. I have enough room to walk without the vent, so right now it's just a matter of preference. The skirt has a vent, but I may just sew it shut.

I made another version of this pattern, view F. This went together quickly and without incident. I used a green cotton denim purchased a few years ago at Paron's in NYC. I topstitched each seam on the front for visual interest. The skirt isn't lined and did not take long to complete.

I attempted to do a lapped zipper and was quickly reminded why I hate them so much. I'm going to leave this zipper in but have no immediate intentions to try another one.

On a hanger, it appears as if the hem is uneven. This is normal because the center back seam is indeed longer than the center front seam. For those of us with trunk junk, this is what you want. When worn, the skirt hem is level.

I have a few projects in queue. This is all for now.

Be well.


22 July 2010

IKEA Ironing Board for Pressing Curves

One day I was working on a princess seamed garment top and needed to press the seams. While pressing the seam flat to set the stitches, I noticed how the curve of the princess seam closely resembled the pointed curve of my ironing board. Instead of using a tailor's ham, I used the edge of the ironing board and was amazed at the results. The very blunt edge of the ironing board proved to provide a perfect curve for the princess seam.

Here is a photo of how I align the princess seam along the edge (not the top) of the ironing board.

This next photo shows how I use the iron and continuous steam to mold the curve around the edge of the ironing board.

I hover the iron from the top and the front edge of the garment. I don't think I'll ever use a tailor's ham to press princess seams in a bodice again!



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